My mission today was to explore strange, new running routes and get my 14 mile long run in at the same time. The idea of stepping out my door and running on my old standard and good friend, the Paint Creek Trail, just didn't seem appealing today. I feel like a traitor even admitting it. The trail has served me well. But today I was feeling bold and adventurous.
So I got in my car and drove to downtown Rochester. From there I took the safety path to the Clinton River Trail. I got a bit of a nasty surprise at this point - two miles of wet, shoe-sucking clay! At times it was possible to run on the far side of the trail and avoid the worst of the muck, but sometimes I had to just suck it up (literally and figuratively) and run right through it. I was splattered with Michigan clay in no time. I suppose I should have worn it proudly. When trail running, the slime doesn't bother me. I think it is mostly because I am expecting it and prepared for it. This was a surprise. Gah!
Once I hit the county line, the Clinton River Trail magically transformed into the Macomb Orchard Trail which is paved. Usually I prefer my trails to remain unpaved, but I was quite relieved to see pavement today! I soon realized there were no half mile markers, so I was either going to run 13 miles or 15 miles. If I tried for 14, I would have to guess at the halfway point. I decided on 15 and ran on the paved part of the trail for 5 wonderful, muck-free miles, sucked down my delish minty chocolate GU, then turned around and headed back. I was not looking forward to another 2 miles of wet clay, but it seemed to go by faster this time through.
Once I got back to the car, I was quite pleased to discover I had just covered 15 miles in less than 2 hours. I was quite happy with my time. I was hardly tired at all. I keep reminding myself that a marathon is another 10 miles further than I have ever gone (my longest long run so far is 16 miles). I don't want to lose respect for the distance. That has kind of been my mantra throughout my training. "Respect the distance." I am quite sure I do!