I think I'm in love. Scratch that- I know I am. With Isaqueenah Forest. Marci had lined up one of her friends to watch Aspen for part of Friday, so I used that time to go running. I wanted to run at least 23-24 miles, but figured I might get as high as 28 if I felt great. Once again, I drove out to Clemson. It was already 62 degrees and sunny when I started at 10:30 am, and I would end up running through the hottest day so far this year, finishing in humid 81 deg temps. Given that I haven't run in more than 65 deg temps, I was roasted. And it really gets me excited for 95 deg temps this summer.
I stopped by the store to grab some gatorade, sunscreen, and granola bars on the way, and all would prove useful. I started the run with just 1 bottle and ventured towards the southern most portion of Isaqueenah, an area Barry and I had not yet run. It was delightful. One of the things I like best in this forest is the wide variety of fauna- one minute you're running on pine-needle covered singletrack with thick forest all around, then you're running in bushes, then in a beautiful deciduous forest, then some grass along a lake. Very nice variety. The initial new singletrack was much longer than expected, and I ended up milking my one water bottle for 11 miles and 100 minutes before I reached the car again, with this entire leg being new to me. I could tell I was bonking in the heat, so refueled and set off again, this time double-fisting. I felt ok, but wish I had a few S-caps with me. Lesson learned.
Sure enough, the previous lack of water caused me to slow from the 8:30 avg pace I had been running for the first 90 minutes to 10+ min pace. Interestingly, miles 11-14 were all between 10:41-10:44. Then my food and hydration kicked in, and my pace improved back to normal, though the continually increasing temps weren't too fun. After my refuel, I ran the middle part of the forest to the Isaqueenah Lake trail, winding around to the north parking lot, then eventually over to the waterfalls area. I gained a strong second wind around mile 19, which carried me to mile 23. At this point, my right arch was hurting and I probably should have headed to the car a mile away. Lacking any brains, though, I instead ran a short loop in the waterfalls area, then finally crawled back to the car just before mile 26, sufficiently tired. Yup, I ran my first (almost) marathon of the year, 90% on singletrack and 10% on dirt road. Good times. It was definitely my first "hot" run of the year.
Finished my 26 miles in 3:57 (9:06 avg) with about 4500 ft climbing/4500 ft descend. After 7 straight weeks of increasing mileage, next week is a much-needed recovery week- I don't really care how much I run. Maybe 40 or 50 miles.
I swung by a grocery store to get some recovery food before my 60 min drive home. I got 2 pints of my recovery drink of choice, chocolate milk, and a footlong sub at the deli. They had just run out of normal sub bread, so made it on a loaf of french bread. Holy cow, that thing is huge! It didn't fit in their sub bag, and I could only eat half of it. Now a few pictures, just for fun:
Today's twisting run through the forest
Overlaid with the other 2 runs here
Zoom in to show the amount of detail- lots of turns
You try figuring out how much elevation change this is...