The 20+ mile long run is the staple of marathon training. When I used to be a road runner in California, I would go out most Sunday mornings and run a 20-24 mile loop that took me out to the ocean, past the pier in Seal Beach and along the beach bike path in Huntington. These were always lonely runs, but putting in long runs at a steady pace felt like a necessity in preparation for a road marathon. I hadn't done a run like this in a while, but I knew it had to be done and I needed the miles for the week. I set out from the house this morning to run a 27 road mile loop along the reservoir and the full length of the Poudre and Spring Creek bike paths. No one responded to my late post to the Trail Runners list for running companions so it was just me and my thoughts for a 4+ hour run around Fort Collins.
It was a cold morning, but the prediction called for mid 40's so I went out in shorts hopeful that the sun would come out and the day would warm up. I started out slowly and ran through the park to Overland. I saw a fox who sat and watched me from the side of the road so I took a few pictures and continued on.
I kept a slow pace up the hills of the Horsetooth Half course along the reservoir where I stopped to put my long sleeve shirt and hat back on. It never did warm up, but it wasn't too terribly cold either.
I stopped for a chai at Dazbog just off the Poudre Trail after running 16 miles in 2 and a half hours. I was glad to finally hit the Spring Creek Trail at nearly 20 miles and start heading home. The last couple miles were tough and I was relieved to finally get home after 4 hours and 21 minutes for a total of 27.7 miles on the Garmin.
It turned out to be a pretty solid week with 80 miles total that included a little speed work, a run up Towers, the Twin Mountain Trudge and a long lonely road run. There was nothing fantastic this week. My intervals on Tuesday were slow and I was nearly 5 minutes off my PR on Towers. I am not feeling very fast and my legs are tired all the time, but I am counting on the miles and the tough runs to build a base of strength that will transfer to speed as we move in to spring.