Earlier this week, Eric sent an email to Joe and I recommending a section of trail with some hills on it. It's on the Suncoast trail, but about 30 miles north from where we usually run. So, Joe and I decided to try it out for our 20 mile run. Joe picked me up about 5:30, and a little bit after 6:00 we arrived at the trail entrance. It was still pretty dark but there was some light from the moon.
We got moving and the first thing you run over is a pedestrian bridge going over the road, short and steep going up and down. Continuing on the trail we could tell it was rolling terrain, not too bad, but more than what we usually run on. Started out kind of slow, and gradually got faster, by mile 5 we were just at a 9:00 pace. I was wearing a blinking red led light on my arm in case there were bikes out for an early ride, but we didn't see a single one for quite some time - not until it was light out.
There was a good size hill at about 7 miles then it seemed to flatten out slightly, but still with some more hills , just spaced out farther. Finally, made it to 10 miles. I went just a little bit farther to see what was over the next hill. I saw a Hill sign, which was odd since this hill didn't seem any different than any of the others. On the highway, I could see a sign for the last exit. I was tempted to keep going, thinking there might be a place to refill the water bottles, but that would have extended the run to 23 or 24 miles. Turned around, wondering how my legs would continue to hold up. Still feeling good at 11 miles. Maybe about 14 miles I could feel some fatigue setting in. It didn't seem to slow me down, but I could feel it.
A little bit before 14 miles we saw the first runner we had seen, it was Eric, out for a 12 mile run. He turned around and continued back with us. It was light out and we could see all the scenery that we missed when it was dark. I wished I had my phone so I could take some pictures, it was different from what I am used to around here with the rolling landscape.
With about 5 miles left to go I was a little worried I might start having a hard time. There was no water along the trail, just what you could carry. I had two 10 oz bottles with accelerade so I was trying to stretch that out to make it last. If it had been any warmer out I would have needed more.
At mile 18 I started to feel good. I didn't even notice the hills anymore. Hit 19 miles, still good, then made it to 20 just before the pedestrian bridge that we started out crossing. Finished up with 20.3 miles because I had gone a little farther. It was great to run with Eric and Joe. I knew that at any minute Eric could have easily taken off and picked up the pace a lot but instead decided to stick with us.
Average pace: 8:11
Hung out for a bit in the parking lot, trying to loosen up before getting back into the car. This trail head was pretty nice, with lots of parking and a real bathroom with chilled water fountains and sheltered picnic tables. Definitely would come back here again.