how to squeeze in a long run

This weekend was a wedding weekend. Like all of our other weekends this spring…

We're nerds. Normal smiles are soooo 2013.

We’re nerds. Normal smiles are so 2013.

It was beautiful, but in Asheville, which is 4 hours from us, so we felt like someone stole our weekend 🙂 Let me say- I love Asheville. It’s beautiful, has good food, and good beer (it’s the heart of craft brews for the Southeast). We went up to Asheville to meet my friend’s fiance, and hang out for the weekend in January. I went up by myself the weekend before the wedding, just to have some girl time with the bride-to-be (one of my old best friends from college).

Friday I had planned to work from home for a little, and double up two mid-distance runs. I opted out of the morning run, and the afternoon run was … interrupted (We’ve all had those runs where you feel like you are racing your digestive system to get to a toilet). So Friday afternoon’s run- a shorter 5.5 miles. Still a good distance. But, not the longer run I’d hoped for when I laced up.

So, Saturday, we headed out bright and early- at around 9am, with the hopes of squeezing in a brunch before the 3pm wedding. The wedding was beautiful. I got a little teary-eyed, having known the bride for ten years, and knowing all that lead to her meeting a good man, and to this day. Dan and I went to bed early, and got up early for breakfast. Except our planned place didn’t open until 9am, and it was 840. We walked around the block for 10 minutes, and suddenly, BAM! There were like 40 people, and apparently a “list” we were not on. So, we walked around the corner to a place without a line. And, it was delicious.

Then, we hit the road at about 10am, and would be home by early afternoon. Dan and Bruce were planning to do 13 miles in Umstead on Sunday, so I joined the peer pressure, and decided on doing a mid-to-long run.

For once, I didn’t plan anything. I went out into Umstead, hoping to be inspired by the springtime beauty. I planned to do an out-and-back, and all along the way “out”, I kept pushing my turn-around. I guess I was aiming for 8 miles or something.

Umstead is gorgeous- an oasis away from the city, but so close to everything. The sun was gleaming through the trees. The trees were all different shades of green, depending on how the sun hit the leaves. I purposely didn’t bring my phone (music), and I made sure to bring my camelbak, so I could go as far as I wanted. I say it was beautiful weather- but it was around 75, even if that’s shaded.

I ran all the way from our side to the other of the 5500 acre park.  This is about 6 miles from our entrance, where I started. I ran on the bridle trail, which is more like dirt road than a single-track trail. I like that, because it’s not too technical, so you can usually stretch your stride out and get comfortable. You still have to watch for loose gravel, dips in the trail, and the delight horses leave behind. There are also some serious hills in Umstead.

The run itself sucked. My legs felt like they were hardly moving. And I wasn’t having difficulty breathing, but had difficulty finding a solid, fast-but-easy pace. So, by 5 miles in, I settled on a decent 11:00 pace. Meh, it really is hilly, and mostly uphill on the way out (including one hill that lasts for almost a mile, and is about 200 ft gain. That hill hurts anyone’s pace. And the gravel always makes me slower- less push off I guess.

When I first ran, I would run for a while, and then stop and walk. It served as a cool-down, but also a great time to take in the scenery, and become meditative. So I decided to do that on this run. It’s a great time to be unplugged, and enjoy the scenery. This section of Umstead goes past Reedy Creek Lake, which you can see through the trees, as you walk along it.  I walked the last 2.5 miles back to my car, and I felt great- calm and content. My mind just felt settled. I felt free by not putting a goal or limit on my running or being hung up with my pace. My overall pace ended up being 11:03, but I honestly didn’t think I would get through 8 miles. I ended up going 9.57, plus the 2.5 walking back.

Side thought- There was a run the other night, at dusk. I was running next to the horses, plodding my way up this hill, and they picked up next to me. They started racing each other and playing with each other. Their free spirit- I love seeing that when I run. It’s one of the reasons I love that entrance of Umstead- it backs up to the NC State Vet school (where they “house” the horses, and cows, and goats. etc).



2 thoughts on “how to squeeze in a long run

    • Glad you enjoyed! There is a field where the horses run (imagine a country farm), that runs along the road for a few miles). I hardly ever see people there, taking care of them. I think the vets practice care on them for vet school. There’s a white picket fence, but it feels natural.

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