Sunday, November 15, 2009

Back on Track - Good Long Run and Recovery Run

After missing my long-distance run for two weekends in a row, I was really anxious to get back on track with a good long run, followed by a recovery run. On Saturday morning, I tried the Gulf Terrace Hike and Bike Trail, part of the Beaumont, Texas city park system.
(click on photos to enlarge)

This isn't a wooded dirt trail like I'm used to, but it's well thought out and well done. The complete trail is a measured 3.5 miles, part of which is a 2.0 mile loop.  This lets one add 2-mile multiples to the base mileage to build different totals.   

It is a concrete trail through field areas, wide enough for both foot and bicycle traffic, and has some nice features for runners. 

There are signs marking each mile, and markers on the trail at each quarter mile, making it easy to track pace. 

There is even a mileage sign at 3.1 miles, which is nice if one is training for 5K/10K. 

My last long run was 18.2 miles. After missing my long run for two weekends in a row, I decided to resume a little lower, at 13-15 miles.

I felt good after a few miles, and decided to try doing the 3.5 miles twice, with two additional 2-mile loops added to each, for a total of 15 miles.

Although not the wooded park I'm used to, it has it's own natural beauty (despite some oil drilling on adjacent property).  There are a few trees, and a lot of native grasses and wildflowers to be observed.  There is no shade, so it won't be my favorite venue in the Summer; in Texas, shade is your best friend in the Summer.  However, for Fall, Winter and Spring, it should be a good option.  It's only 2.25 miles from my house, so it's convenient.

I got on the trail at about 7:30 AM Saturday.  At 60 degrees, it was a little warmer than I like.  It was getting close to 80 by the time I finished.  However, compared to some of my long Summer runs (80+ degrees and 98 % humidity at sunrise), not too bad.   After two weeks of reduced mileage, I didn't care about pace, just logging good distance and running hours.  I finished the 15 miles fairly comfortably, 2:40:38, 10.71 pace.

Sunday, I followed with a recovery run.  It always feels good to lightly warm up again while still a little achy from the long-distance run.  I returned to the same location and just ran the 3.5 miler, at 38:44, 11.07 pace.  It was 65 degrees at 7 AM, a little warmer yet than Saturday.  I'm looking forward to the cool front on the way for Monday or Tuesday!

My last good week had been 32 miles total.  My most recent two weeks had fallen to 23 and 18.5 miles.  So, this got me back on track; a good  base mileage week of 36 miles, and a good long run.

I was pleased to see that there was less litter along the trail than I normally saw in the Baytown parks, although on the way out I found a few plastic bottles on the adjoining soccer field, and  a couple of cans by the road leading in.  Total Eco-run pickup for the two days: 2 aluminum cans, 14 plastic bottles, 1 32-ounce plastic cup, 1 empty mint box, and 1 empty GU package.


Brian said...

Vern - I am amazed with all the open space and with how flat it looks in your part of Texas. I like your one and 3.1 mile marker pictures - they show a beautiful sky and I could easily become transfixed running with that to look at. Your track is a great place for your marathon training. Have a great week!

Vern said...

We're at the edge of the Gulf Coastal Plain, but you get into a few hills just a few miles further North. There are some thickly wooded spots in the area, but this trail was carved out of what was probably former rice field areas that would have been cleared of most trees generations ago.

By the way, I've lived around here for almost 30 years, but I've got roots near your Chesapeake Bay area. I was born in DC and lived in Maryland outside DC in early childhood, and was back in the area periodically over the years to visit relatives.

kara said...

I hate running on cement but sometimes that's all there is. Nice Flat course!

Vern said...

Kara, I'm not a big fan of concrete either. I'm used to doing my long runs on dirt trails in the woods. I've got a wooded park in mind to check out next; it's just not quite as close. I hope to find a few convenient local options to rotate.

The marathon that I'm preparing for will be at least mostly on concrete, with maybe a little asphalt. I once read somewhere that it's good to get a fair portion of one's training on the same surface as the race. I guess the idea is that the body gradually adjusts to the higher stress of concrete, instead of being shocked by the sudden difference in surface at race time. So it may be helpful for me to get some good mileage on this surface. Just the same, I'd rather run a trail than a road any day!

Just_because_today said...

seeems flat and lonely.
If you are training for a marathon in May, it's good that you are getting used to heat. Aghhhhhh

Vern said...

Some runners around here cut back in the Summer. I trained pretty hard in the Summer heat this year. It's just something you have to get used to in this part of the country to build conditioning year around. Hopefully, it will serve me well enough May 1...