Yesterday I completed day 6, Week 3, of Phase 2 of the Strategic Running Foundation and as part of this session I completed an 18 km trail run, well 16 on the trail, 2 on a concrete footpath that is jam packed with steep inclines and declines, off camber sections, and long up hill sections. It's an out and back run so it's 9km out and 9km back along the same track and for me every time I run it I know I've had a run by the time I finish. I first did the 16km trail run 18 months ago completing the outward leg in 54.14, the return leg in 56.42 and it was one of the hardest things I'd ever done and I've run it probably 12 or so times before I ran it yesterday.
I normally use the first km of the footpath as warm up and start my watch from the same point just outside the local primary school. However yesterday as I had completed hill repeats before this run I didn't need the first km to warm up but so as to be able to compare the run I still started my Garman at the same point, or so I thought. Yesterday I ran the track with Jeff and a couple of km in he said "your pace has picked up or are we going to quickly" I said I was all good and we kept on going. Jeff has run the outward journey of the track in 39.15 and then the return in 40.05 so that's why he asked if it was a bit quick for me. There are 4 very steep up-hill sections that are only 100m or so in length but the incline is such that you are almost stopped by the steepness itself and then the up-hill continues at a less gradient for about a km. Then occasionally you turn a corner and are presented with a horse and rider or someone on a mountain bike which always makes for fun as you jump out of the way to save life and limb. Though it must be said the horses don't travel the steepest sections of the track they go out onto the road that follows the track. There are also sections that are bowl like and very narrow and other parts that are quite wide. You have to keep your wits about you all the time as the surface can be very loose and you will encounter fallen tree branches and logs from time to time.
The run takes you past private properties, wineries and fantastic views of the ranges around us which would make for a fantastic day of sight seeing if your lungs weren't at times gasping for air. However yesterday I felt in control for most of the run, yes at times the gradient had me sucking big gulps of air but today even this seemed more in control.
As I rounded the last corner where the track comes to a sudden finish I was about 20 meters behind Jeff and I clicked off my Garman and looked at the time ........ 45.22. At first I couldn't quite believe it and I started replaying in my head where I started my watch. Then I realised I'd started my watch at Jeffs place about 700m sooner than I ordinarlly would have and I had still taken 1.56' off the last time I had completed outward section of the run. This was pleasing enough but the last time I had completed this run I had lowered my time by 2.05' after seeming to stagnate for a long time.
After taking a second to take in the fact I had again set a PB we turned around started our watches and the run back. Now I don't know if feeling good about my time and myself gave me something extra but I ran the return leg 40' seconds quicker again in 44.42'.
On arriving at Jeff's place and consuming a drink and some home made protein balls I suddenly realised the run just completed was a milestone for another reason. I had for the first time on this run worn my B2R Trail shoes, in fact it was my longest run in the B2R Trail Shoes by some 9 km's. My legs felt a bit tired but great overall, I had no blisters even though my feet were a little wet and the balls of my feet that at one time would be sore had no issues what so ever. All in all it was a fantastic run and one to remember.