I don’t often do long slow distance runs. The general belief in the running community is that the long slow distance is the foundation of becoming a better (and faster) endurance runner. Instead I train for intensity. This means my training consists of speed work, interval training, tempo runs, and steady state runs. Since I haven’t ever trained for a marathon, I can get away with doing much lower mileage. While training for intensity works for me, it does leave me feeling quite done/burnt out at the end of a training cycle. I mentally can’t handle the idea of subjecting my body to any more grueling work outs.
Between a long racing season and stress from work, I ended 2013 feeling extraordinarily fatigued. The nasty bout of polar vortex didn’t help either. I needed a change of scenery. I’m in Southern California to see my family and the lovely warm weather is a much appreciated break from the East Coast’s chill. Coming back home (you can take the girl out of California, but you can’t take the California out of the girl) has given me a much needed mental and physical break. A couple days of long hours of sleeping, home cooked meals made by my mom, and general relaxing has de-stressed me. There are times in your life when you need a complete break from everything.
When I woke up yesterday, it was 55 F and sunny. There was no way that I was not going to take advantage of a great weather like this in mid-winter. Mentally I’m still a big fatigued and I couldn’t stomach the idea of doing a hard tempo or interval training. I wanted to take things easy and enjoy the day. Hence it was perfect time for me to do a long slow run.
My parents’ home is near the San Gabriel Bike Path (mid and lower sections). I happen to really like this section of the bike path because while the bike path itself isn’t all that scenic (in LA, even the rivers have concrete beds), there are several parks right along the bike path. The trail is flat. If you stay on the east side, there’s always an underpass so you don’t have to cross the busy boulevards. Depending upon the time of day, trees can provide shade, otherwise, it’s a hot, hot trail on a warm sunny day. In this particular section, the nearby parks provide restrooms and water. As usual, I ran with my Headsweats visor, Simple Hydration bottle, and FlipBelt. I love Headsweats because it wicks away sweat from my brow (I can’t stand having sweat on my face, it distracts me like crazy). The 13 oz of water with Lemon Tea Nuun in my Simple Hydration bottle was just enough fluid to last me on my run on a cool day.
I started near the corner of South Blvd and the river in Cerritos. I ran in Liberty Park (east side of the river, the border between Cerritos and Lakewood) all the way down to Del Amo Blvd. Once I crossed the blvd via the underpass (now in Lakewood), I ran on the bike path right next to Ryerson Park and the Lakewood Equestrian Center, where I rode horses as a kid. Seeing the horse trail in Ryerson Park and the horses brought back fond memories of my friends and I riding our horses and singing “Phantom of the Opera” on top of our lungs. Next I crossed Carson Blvd via the underpass (now in Long Beach) and continued on the bike path. When I went under Wardlow, I decided to run in El Dorado Park, which has a nice big mile long trail that loops around.
Then I headed back up. My route back was pretty much the same, except rather than run on the west side next to Ryerson Park, I decided to go on the east side of the river to run in West San Gabriel Nature Parkway, which is just a beautiful section of the pathway. No matter what time of year, there are always tons of blossoms that emit a glorious fragrance. I couldn’t identify all the blooms, but I did recognize lavender. There were huge patches of lavender that were heavenly to sniff.
I ended up running 8 miles at approximately 9:11 pace. Although I was physically tired, I was mentally refreshed. It was just what the doctor ordered.