The typical Running Room schedule called for 32km to be the last long run but since Surrey is a couple weeks earlier than that schedule, we decided to make our final run a 35km to make up for the shortened schedule. I was glad that our runners were keen to do the increased distance.
Our store's usual marathon instructors have made the 35km a bit of a big deal for past clinic groups so we wanted to do the same. In the past they've used a really awesome route that takes the group straight north and over the Golden Ears bridge (which is really beautiful) to a pit stop at the Maple Ridge Running Room and then back home again. It's a pretty epic route and just perfect for the monumental last long run.
They also started a wicked tradition of parking a vehicle along the route and having coolers of fresh, cold water, electrolyte drink and snacks available for runners as they pass by. I definitely wanted to do this for our group so late Saturday night after a charity function my husband and I attended, we headed into Wal Mart to stock up on goodies, black tie, heels and all! (Please note, while everyone else was enjoying the bar, I made sure to drink lots of water at our function!)
It's probably the snazziest attire I've ever worn to Wal Mart and I didn't exactly fit in with the rest of the crowd but it was all in the name of keeping our runners happy and hydrated, right? We managed to get a nice little haul of both healthy and not-so-healthy treats and I arranged them all to be easily accessible in the back of my truck...
I knew it was a going to be a long run and my #1 goal was to get through it at a slow, consistent pace and therefore, upright and smiling at the end. My last few long runs have been fine but not spectacular and I really wanted to end off on a nice, steady note. I needed one last solid long run before race day.
We headed off and while the whole group stuck together for the first couple km, we eventually spread out a little once we went up a few small hills. When I'm running a slow and steady pace like that I kind of like being a little behind. It takes away the obligation to try and stick with the faster runners. Despite the gap we were really just a few hundred metres behind and always within sight of the front group.
Krista and I were running together and we settled into a good, steady rhythm and just hunkered down. We made sure that we could always talk comfortably and that's how we controlled our pace. When we approached the pit stop truck some of our 29km runners were already headed back so it was nice to see them and have a little hello. We did a quick water bottle fill up and snack break at the truck and the carried on toward the bridge.
I just love running over bridges. Don't know why, I just think they're cool. And beautiful.
We got passed by a pretty old guy who was just zipping along, wearing khaki shorts, a polo shirt and his runners. Made me feel kind of slow but we made it across the bridge and over the Maple Ridge. Part of our route shared the local Terry Fox Run route so it was cool to cheer on those runners as we passed by. It wasn't long before we made it to the Maple Ridge Running Room and met up with our front group of runners.
What a fine looking bunch of happy marathoners, eh? Regrouped, we carried on back towards the bridge for the last half of our run. We all kind of kept the same pace for awhile but slowly drifted a little bit apart. Krista and I kept it slow and steady back over the bridge (which I swear was longer and steeper in the south direction!) while some of our runners booked it right over.
After the bridge we hit my truck again for a little pit stop and I was super surprised to see that Gary was there waiting for us! Gary (or Financial Runner as you might know him from Twitter or his blog) runs at our Langley store and decided to come up and see how we were doing. It was such a nice treat to see a familiar face and so nice to have the support of our fellow runners.
So after some drinks, a handful of Skittles, some chips and another long-armed group selfie, we were off again to finish our run. At this point we had just over 10km left to go and despite one kinda sucky hill, a good portion of it would be downhill.
Krista and I did well keeping our pace. If our conversation got laboured, we'd just slow down a little. Our goal was to keep it steady and slow and we were doing a good job of covering our distance without burning out. I was really happy with how the run was going.
Not long after, we ran into another runner from our store, David! (or @maniac1655 as you might know him from Twitter). At this point I was feeling really touched that yet another runner wanted to come see how were doing and cheer us on a little. He snapped this pic as Krista and I ran up to him and we slowed down for a little walk break and chat. We really lucked out with cheerleaders on this run, we also had two other fellow runners spot us and honk during the run!
After chatting with Dave, we continued on and tackled the last uphill of our run. It wasn't that it was super steep (although one little section was) but it was fairly long. We trudged along and were very pleased to finally get to the crest. We knew it was a fairly straight shot back to the store from this point.
I really enjoyed the long downhill at the end of our run but I know the downhill bugged some of our runners' knees a bit. I've always been very thankful to not have knee issues because then I can enjoy going downhill. We made it down and had one last flat section back to the store.
It was great to get back and see everyone (mostly) with smiles on their faces. Our runners were tired and worn out but I think everyone was really happy that they did it and survived. I think of this run as a confidence booster and I hope our runners are feeling confident because they all did really great on this run. I was super impressed at the pace some of them were keeping, even on that hill at the end. They have become some really strong runners and are going to do awesome at Surrey.
It was a long day, including breaks and pit stops we'd been gone from the store for about 5 hrs! We all hobbled over to Starbucks for some very well deserved post-run treats and chatted about our run for a bit.
Personally, I was really happy with this run. Like I said, some of my last long ones have been a bit tough and I really wanted to have a good, strong, albeit slow run this weekend. We kept to our plan and all things considered, I felt pretty good at the end. I still need to look at the data to see what my actual run time and pace was, but it felt good and I'm happy with that.
I feel good and feel ready for Surrey Marathon. :)
After Starbucks I headed home for a shower and spent the rest of the day in my heavenly CEPs...
Don't judge me by my outfit, I just ran 35km.