I did my "long" run of the week today since Erik was gone over the weekend and I refuse to run more than 5 miles on the treadmill. Even 5 on the 'mill is hard. Today I needed/wanted to run 6 miles. So, after the girls got on the school bus, I walked home, gathered my stuff and drove down to one of my favorite places to run: Fort Missoula.
It's a 2 mile loop that starts at a recreational area/park and goes through an area of buildings that use to be an actual army fort and internment area. Now there are businesses there and also some museums and other cool stuff. It's got tons of trees, so theres quite a bit of shade, it's a flat mostly paved course and not a ton of traffic, which all make for a great place to run.
I had to run all by my lonesome, which is different. Usually I do the longer runs with my running girlfriend's and we talk the whole way, today I had to entertain myself. I brought my mp3 player, which I used part of the time, and the rest of the time I prayed and just enjoyed the outdoors. It was a beautiful morning--I was already running in my tank and shorts at 9 a.m. and I was sweating.
Near the four mile mark, I noticed a pickup stopped in pretty much the middle of the road up ahead and the guy was standing at the back of his truck looking out into the field. When I got closer, he motioned me to be quiet and pointed out the fox kits that were playing around in the field next to the road. Their little den was right there too. He said he'd seen the mom on the other side of the road aways when he was walking his dogs. There were three cute little foxes just playing and enjoying the sun. I wished I had my phone then so I could've taken a picture of them, but I don't carry it when I'm running for several reasons. The first being that when I run, it's my time. I take that time for me and I don't need anything pulling for my attention. It's not like I'm usually urgently needed anyways, and if I am, my runs aren't too long, I'll return the call when I'm done. Another reason is my running shorts/pants don't usually have a ton of pockets, today I had room for my mp3 and that's about it. But, in the hopes of seeing the foxes again on my final loop, I did grab my phone and carry it in my hand for the final 2 miles. That's when I snapped these pictures, but unfortunately the foxes must've gone back inside their little den because there was no sign of them that last loop. Oh well!
This run was only six miles, which is a drop in the bucket compared to the 13.1 of a half-marathon, but it was my longest run of this year and of my training, and so I wasn't sure how it would go. My heel has been iffy and I was afraid it would hurt midway through. Thankfully, it didn't and I wasn't as exhausted at the end as I thought I would be. I definitely ran the whole thing slow--68 minutes for 6 miles which is about 11 minute miles--so that probably helped.
Completing the six miles today gave me hope that I can actually do the half in five weeks. It'll be slow, but I think I can do it, which is a huge encouragement.
To help with recovery, I came home and grabbed a cup of coffee, my phone and plopped myself into an "ice" bath. There is seriously no easy way lower yourself into a bathtub filled with ice cold water. It's a shock no matter how you do it, so just get it over with. Get in, drink some hot coffee and do something to fill your time for 15 minutes or so while your legs and feet chill out.
You'll thank me for it. It sure helps me with the long-run-soreness.
Next week my goal is 8 miles. Hopefully I can join my running friends for that one! :-)