I wanted to get a longer run in prior to the race at the end of the month. Mentally I felt I needed to achieve the 40 mile mark. I planned a long and complicate route through Forest Park that would enable me to tick a bunch of trails and firelanes off my All-Trails Challenge list. I tried to enlist a few people to join me - one for the first 20 and one for the second 20, but I didn't end up having any success. After much consideration I decided to simplify my route and do some out and backs on Wildwood. I felt this would be safer if anything were to go wrong with me physically, and I didn't want to push deep into the park solo.
I had to do an early morning airport run which had me pulling in to the Germantown parking lot at 5:50 am. It was very quiet, I was the only car in the lot, and although it was fully light out it still felt a bit dark in the park. I gathered my things (hydration pack with 1.5 liters of water and 1 liter of Gatorade, 2 packs of clif shot blocks, 2 packets of Gu, and 1 cliff bar), and hit the trail at 6 am.I strapped my pepper spray to my hand just in case I ran into anything unsafe. I took 5 steps on the trail and thought "what the heck am I wearing on my feet?" Somehow I had failed to put on my running shoes that morning or to throw them in the car. This was especially ironic since I had looked at the shoes the night before and I thought that I should put them by my other running items. Then I figured how stupid would I have to be to forget my running shoes and discarded that idea. Well it was an early morning state and in my tired stupor it hadn't occurred to me to change shoes after going to the airport. I hadn't tackled hills in my Crocs before and these were not even my running Crocs. They were super loose and didn't fit my feet all that well. After almost stepping out of them 4 or 5 times I stopped and girth hitched an elastic hair band to the back strap of the Croc and then slipped my foot through the hair band. This wasn't super comfortable (eventually the bands started to dig into my skin) but it worked.
It was 5.6 miles heading west on Wildwood to its end at Newberry Road. It was super quiet and I only saw one other couple during this entire stretch. I saw some friends at the Newberry Trailhead. They were about to begin the full Wildwood run which would end at Oregon Zoo. We chatted for a few minutes before I headed back to Germantown. It was 5.6 miles back. I arrived back at the car - it had taken me 2 hours and 4 minutes for 11.2 miles. I dropped off my gloves and arm warmers in the car and then headed east on Wildwood.
I kept changing my mind as to how far on Wildwood I wanted to go. The Germantown trailhead is at milepost 24.6. I ended up running to milepost 13. Along this stretch I tried to find an easy, effortless pace that I could just maintain for miles without thinking about it. I was happy to find a cruising pace that seemed to fit the bill. There were actually several stretches where I lost site of the mile markers for a couple of miles at a time. Things were feeling pretty good.
At milepost 13 I turned around and walked for a bit and ate the clif bar I had with me. Got back into my cruising pace and was back at mile 15 when I ran into my friends again. They were making good progress on their end-end goal. It was nice to see some people I knew and chat a bit. I was getting a bit lonely and bored out by myself. I started playing some mental tricks with myself along this stretch to keep me going. I knew I was going to have a hard time not stopping when I got back to the car so I prepared for that by running through it in my head.
Once back at the car (34.5 miles in) I stopped and ate a veggie sushi roll, got some water and Gatorade in, reloaded my hydration pack, and headed west again on Wildwood. I didn't have to run this entire stretch again, just had to make it to mile post 27.5 before turning around. This stretch felt really slow. I would run 1 mile and walk for a minute - just kept repeating this and counting down those last few miles.
Total distance 40 miles, total running time 8 hrs. This felt really slow. In the end I think that the Crocs slowed me down a bit. I had to be much more careful with each step and the gravel sections of the trail were quite painful so I had to tip toe through them.