August 9, 2010

Santa Cruz, Part 2

I decided to take advantage of the cooler temps and awesome scenery by fitting my long run in while in Santa Cruz. After a long day including a ran, kayaking, and the Boardwalk the last thing I wanted to do Friday morning was get up at the crack of dawn for my long run, so I did something new and pushed it back to the afternoon. Considering the cool, foggy weather I figured I would be a-ok and much less tired. After Liz left I headed out around 1pm along E. Cliff Drive, intending to do an out-and-back for 16 miles total. I ran along some beaches and lagoons, past the harbor, to the Boardwalk. This was only about 4 miles so I still had quite a bit more to go before turning back.
 Santa Cruz Harbor
Running past a rollercoaster!

From here I continued up to W. Cliff Drive, and man oh man was I treated to some spectacular views! For just over 2 miles I ran along a wonderful path on the edge of the coast, past a plethora of surfers, an old lighthouse, endless runners and cyclists, craggy cliffs, bright flowers, gorgeous homes, beautiful beaches, and endless ocean. I stopped more than I care to admit to snap pics! Unfortunately I wasn't carrying my regular camera so I only have crappy cell phone shots which could never do justice to those views!
 Running path on W. Cliff Drive.
 Little old lighthouse : )
 Surfers a plenty with the wharf in the distance.
 Flowers and seafoam.
On the edge of the western world...
Lovely day to be at the beach!

After about 6 miles the pathway abruptly stopped and I found myself running through a "park" called Natural Bridges State Beach. Then before I knew it I was running on a trail!? I don't know how this happened but after a quarter mile or so I decided that running an unfamiliar trail by myself probably wasn't a good idea so at 7 miles, I turned and headed back.
Natural Bridges State Beach
No idea how I ended up on this trail...

On my way back along W. Cliff Drive the fog had pretty much burned off leaving us with beautiful blue skies and much warmer temps. I stopped plenty more times on my way back, each view seemingly more beautiful than the last! Back down by the Boardwalk I had to weave through throngs of people enjoying the afternoon - I'm sure they didn't know quite what to make of my sweaty self : ) I headed back the way I came, but somewhere near the harbor I found myself a little turned around. I had taken a different road which ran right along the coast, but when it ended I didn't know how to get back the way I'd came! After running down a few dead ends I eventually righted myself and headed back along the water. At this point I was completely out of water and parched, but luckily I passed a little Mexican restaurant that let me refill my handheld and all was good. When I finally reached the road our beach house was on I still had about 1.5 miles to go, so I added on a short out and back.
My "detour" lead me here, so not all bad.
 More beach. They're everywhere!

Now on to my thoughts on the run. I kept up a great long run pace (10:30/mi) for me, however it did include several stops to take pics : / It was also a much hillier course than I expected! I tried to take advantage of the hills though and ran most of them. One thing that was a problem, however, was fueling. I took 3 Gu packets with me, which is in line with my usual fueling regimen, but I lost one within the first couple miles. That left me with just 2 Gu for an almost 3 hour run....not very good. I did take my salt capsules every 45 minutes or so which helped a bit, but I still felt like I was dragging, especially toward the end. It was also weird running for so long in the afternoon. It totally felt like morning, it kinda psyched me out!  I was pretty sore afterward and tried to do an ice bath in the ocean but the waves were too strong, so I backed out before I got knocked on my ass. I'm glad I got the run out of the way, especially in such a beautiful place, even though it didn't go exactly as planned. My pace was much faster than usual for a long run, so I'm hoping this means improvement in my future...

We had a low-key dinner Friday night with a hodge podge of dishes to try and use up what we had left. I could barely keep my eyes open through a movie before I finally gave in and hit the sack. Then Saturday morning we packed up and were off, back to hot and ocean-less Sacramento. Bittersweet.


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