The first mile to the american river had me feeling strong and not as tight as previous days, I sure was psychologically prepared, and as I summited the levee to the railway the 7am amtrak leaving downtown sacramento chugged east, blocking my path. I fell into the rhythm of the train and got a good visualization for myself as I stood there waiting and running in place. Be like a train, be like a train. Several miles later it occured to me that birds are like mantra bodies because they often sing the same song over and over all their lives! This reminded me how useful my own mantras have become, and reassured me it’s not a needless to practice these repetitions: nam-myoho-renge-kyo. I had been singing it in the shower before sunrise.
Once I snuggled up next to the river, I picked up my pace a bit to the cool delta breeze carrying across the levee. The visor of my hat kept the red rising sun out of my eyes, as I ran due east for another mile before following the river bend south at paradise beach. It must have been 60F and I am acclimated to running later in the day, towards 75F, so my weekday training gave me an edge for the early morning long runs.
There is a boat launch with a water fountain at mile six, so I was able to stop and hydrate for a minute and take a pack of energy gums with electrolytes there. Quickly I got back on the trail, and I was feeling fantastic. My breathing has gotten easier and easier the more I run, which is what happens to long distance runners. Your body is amazing and learns to make the most of the oxygen. I always hit my inhaler before any run, because otherwise my asthma makes me wheeze, but two blasts is all I ever need before any run no matter the distance.
I discovered that mile 7 is about where I begin to loosen up and hit my stride. The trail took me under a couple of highways and now the sun had climbed and lotsa people were out walking their dogs and cycling and running, too. Some of the early morning fishermen had packed in their river waders and were heading home, climbing the levee right before my eyes. The american river is full of salmon and snowmelt off the Sierras. I did my U-turn and headed back on a slight incline then stopped again at the same water fountain at mile 9, as it was the only water I would get on my run…