I tried a new variation today, parking at the Iron Mountain lot then traversing over to Ellie Lane and running the full loop that way. The idea was to allow for a longer warm-up on a flatter part of the trail and make it impossible to bail out on the last part of the run by putting it at the bottom fo the hill. Worked out pretty well.
Goal for the today was just to do the run without stopping. This was my third time trying. I’d made it the first time in 1:50+ and hit a high HR of 206 or so, and while I’d probably felt better after that run than ever after running, it seemed odd that my heart rate was so high. On the second attempt, I more or less made it but felt like stopped in and walking the whole time; no energy, no power in the legs, and I walked a few times, for a time of about 2:10 (not to mention a peak HR of 217 (!)). All I wanted today was to do it the fully loop without walking or feeling like I was going to hurl a lung.
Woke feeling tired and unmotivated. Didn’t feel much better when I parked. From the first step, my Achilles felt a bit off. So, ambition was there but hopes were low. however, about half-way up the first climb to Table Rock I settled into a 155-165 HRM at a mellow pace and just kept it there. Felt fine.
Running down and up the next section, which seems like the crux of the run, I tried to just keep my pace at a level that kept my heart rate below 170, and it worked out to generally lower than 160. Felt great. At that pace, I felt like I could run all day. Maybe a nice high calorie breakfast was helping (which was nice as I’d had 3 little coffee cakes and some bananas for breakfast, and I wouldn’t mind an excuse to eat more baked goods).
I was just thinking as I ran down from the second ridge line how I had accidentally achieved something I hadn’t really thought was possible: I was enjoying the run itself. Not just the goal, not the work out per se, but the run. Felt great. And I was just thinking what a bummer r it would be to lose that feeling when I re-tweaked my left foot and ended up wincing in pain on every step for the next half mile. Self fulfilling prophecies are really annoying.
Still, on the way up Iron Mountain proper, i kept the heart rate down again, never getting about 165, and reached the top in no time with very little feeling of fatigue or effort. Had my third Gu on the way down, and reached the car in 1:49, not only feeling better than I ever had, but beating my best time. I honestly thought about doing another shorter loop up the mountain, but then, well, I didn’t ;). Not 100% sure on distance; maybe 9 miles? Love to do a half marathon soon, at least on the trail. Probably my best running day ever. Now, off to REI for some new trail running shoes…