I usually do my “long run” on a Saturday morning, although when I was training for my first half marathon if I’d made plans for the weekend, I would often do my long run on a Friday morning before work (it helps that I work “Mum hours” as when the mileage went up, if I started early enough, I’d still have enough time to finish the run, have a shower and grab a bite to eat before starting at 9am).
Now that I’m predominantly trail running I don’t have the luxury of switching things up so easily. Firstly I won’t run trails in the dark therefore during the week I do all of my running in the late afternoon when I finish work. However thanks to the “Mum hours” by the time I get to the trail, I still have a good couple of hours before the sun sets.
Obviously I try to finish WELL before then .. which usually means during the week I have to keep my distance under 10k as it takes me twice as long to run any distance on the trail than it does on the road (and that’s only a slight exaggeration).
The forecast for Saturday was thunderstorms – I recall talking to James on Thursday night lamenting about how the storm was supposed to hit on long run day when I was going to be running through the forest. Isabelle (who has a tendency to be doing something else, BUT listens to our every word) looked horrified and piped up ..
“Well then you can’t run – can you?!?! If the lightning misses you, it will just hit a tree and THAT will fall on you!”
I explained that I’d probably be much safer running in the forest protected by all those trees than if I went outside and ran along the footpath, but she wasn’t having a bar of it, all she could see was a thunderbolt coming out of the sky piercing through the forest and hitting her Mum .. bless her.
Friday morning I decided to pack my running kit and do as long a run as time permitted after work – I had the semblance of a plan – I’d run the Auckland City Walk (clockwise) as a warm up then head up the Upper Kauri Track and when I reached the top I’d decide whether to continue and do a 10 km loop or do an out and back (7.5 km if I ran towards the bridge or 9.0 km if I ran back to the start) taking into account the weather, the conditions underfoot, light and perhaps the most important, how my knee was coping.
When I set out although it was wet underfoot it wasn’t raining – in fact it didn’t rain the entire time I was out and considering the weather wasn’t exactly fantastic (in fact it was pretty shit) the forest was busier than I’d ever seen it on a weekday although once I started along the Upper Kauri Track I didn’t see anyone – the 346m of elevation gain may have something to do with that. 😉
I’ve got to say I found the climb much harder than normal and the boardwalks were so slippery that I couldn’t get much traction on the ascent (so I wasn’t looking forward to the descent) but I kept pushing forward as the top section of the Upper Kauri Track is my fave, it’s slightly undulating, protected by large trees (so the ground is always reasonably dry) and it winds just enough so that you can play mind games
“Julz, just run to that tree on the bend – oh look it’s nice and flat we may as well run this section too, lets just go to that tree, that’s not far we can definately get there – oh look now it’s downhill, we may as well keep going ….”
My knee copes so much better with slightly undulating terrain than vast distances of ups or downs, so the top part of track is always where I make up time and just as I was getting into the swing of things I came to a grinding halt ..
For a split second I panicked thinking that I’d turned off the track somewhere but then I realised that no I was in fact on the track and that there was a tree stretched across it that had bought everything else around along for the ride! I guess Isabelle did have valid reason to worry about her Mum. 😉
Oh well Mother Nature made the decision for me! A (slow) out and back it was ..
Till next time