Last Saturday, after a week of no running due to sickness, my wife and I were able to get out for a nice long run at our new favorite place for long runs - The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park. It really is a cool place, offering a fair amount of both flat and hilly running - with elevations up to 2,600'! It also offers plenty of trails which allow for runs of 20+ miles. It really felt great to get back out and hit the trail after nothing for 5 days. Being sick really sucks.
The loop I've been doing lately is a little over 18 miles, and climbs roughly 2,500'. A couple of weeks earlier I ran this general route, but tried to take a different trail which would have added some distance, but ended up having to turn around as a section of the trail had been lost to a landslide and it was impossible to go around - up or down. Most of the climbing is within the first 7 or so miles, and then the trail follows along a ridgeline for awhile before dropping back down. At a few places the trail offers some great views of the Aptos/Capitola area of the Monterey Bay as long as it's not foggy. Here is the view:
Kinda hard to see, but the middle stretch of blue is the bay, and right on the edge of it and the green is where Aptos and Capitola are. I really need to get a new camera.
A great couple of mile stretch follows this where the trail winds through some great redwood forest - mostly second growth - and I just love the feel and smell of it. The ground is soft with redwood duff, ferns are scattered here and there, particularly close to anything resembling a regular water source, and there is often a fecund smell that pervades the forest - really any redwood forest - that is intoxicating. Especially in the wetter months. Even living in it I don't tire of the smell, feel, and look of a redwood forest. It really is magnificent.
Back to this past Saturday: I had a cool experience as I made my way up the fire road to the top and the lookout point where the pic above was taken. After rounding a bend, I caught sight of a couple of guys on mountain bikes ahead. Not thinking much of it I just continued with my climb, in my own little world. In a few minutes I realized I was catching up to them, and after two more bends in the road I began a long straight stretch. I kicked it up a little and by the end of the straight stretch I passed them! Now, they certainly weren't in "Tour de France" shape, and were definitely older than me (and I'm no spring chicken) but still, I'll take my little victories where I can get em! ;-)
The really great thing about the run didn't have anything to do with my run, though. It was Lori's (my wife) run. She had struggled for a few months with an ankle injury earlier this year, got back to running a month or so ago and ran a great race at the Wharf-to-Wharf (see my post on it here). She is also getting into trail running as a result of her injury and rehab, and it is great to have her along, even if we don't run much together. Well, after a long business trip and a week of being sick, she ran more than 15 miles in about 2:45 including walk breaks!!! That is the longest she has run at one time, and the longest time she has run! She really rocks and I am so proud of her and happy for her. She was sore for a day or so, but felt pretty good and can't wait to get back this next weekend.