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First Coyote Run – Sullivan Canyon

This morning was my first weekend run with The Coyotes running group. If you don’t know who they are, they’re a well known group in the trail/ultra community founded and coached by Jimmy Dean Freeman and his wife Kate. They coach all levels for marathon distance to 100+ mile distance races. I’ve always heard of them through mutual friends running with them in the past, or you see their presence around these Westside trails and ultramarathons.

Since most of my close friends are still in triathlon training or coaching, I felt a little antsy in this "off-season" not really training for anything. So I decided to at least do something. I need some kind of training structure or some race, otherwise I won’t run on my own. I mean, look, I haven’t swam or biked in months because I really don’t have a triathlon coming up, and I’m fine with that.

So this, joining The Coyotes, will be a good thing. I know I still need to work on my running. I know I can get stronger, faster, and more skilled in those technical trails, and I believe Coach Jimmy & Kate will take me there. Now for the race? I’m not registered yet but I’m 99% sure I’ll be signing up for the Mt. Disappointment 50k on July 13. Everyone I’ve talked to about that race said that it’s no joke! I’ll post details about it later, but it’s a 6000+ total gain, with 2 giant climbs of 3 miles @ 2000. Oh, and it’s in the middle of summer and it’s supposed to be HOT. Challenge accepted!

So back to this morning’s run. We met in the neighborhoods of Brentwood near Sullivan Canyon at 7:30am. As a newbie, I was a little intimidated because everyone already knew everyone else. The Coyote structure is a training session of 4 or so months and each cycle has a unique nickname. Our "season" is called Trail Nirvana. There’s also two different coached options. I signed up for "Come As You Are" program which allows me to come to every run session, but I have to build my own schedule myself. I still have access to all the coaches though for tips and suggestions along the way. The full program is everything, custom coached plans. It’s cool because almost everyone I talked to this morning had a different race, and the coaches have a unique plan for each because everyone has different experiences and race goals.

After everyone checked in, Coach Jimmy did some announcements, kicking off the official training season, then we were off! Sullivan started off with a nice downhill to get warmed up, with great tree coverage. Everyone kept a nice comfortable pace, even running on most of the inclines. This was where I got to meet and get to know some new friendly faces.

Up by the top of Sullivan and Mulholland, Coach Kate gave options for people to run depending on their planned mileage of the day. I decided to do 3 hours today so I stayed with the longer run people. Coach took some of us down a challenging but fun single track descent called Farmer’s Ridge. Ooh we were flying down that thing! A lot of switchbacks and uneven terrain, but I loved it! Coach also made sure our downhill running form was correct and she pointed out to correct my shoulders a few times, which I appreciated because I tend to have bad back & shoulder form sometimes.

After that, we ran up some pretty significant but runnable climbs until it was time to return back. My friend Craig then took us down Bobsled Trail, which was pretty fast & steep but had banked curves for some fun single track technical practicing. At the bottom, Coach Jimmy was waiting for everyone. It was a quick cool down run back to the cars then we were greeted by Coach Kate and these bad boys:

My friend Kelley made these. I believe they were Rice Krispy, Captain Crunch, and marshmallows, covered in some sweet peanut butter covering. Mmm mmm it was delicious! Overall, a fun morning and looked at my watch at the end of all of it, I did 14.15 miles in 2:50, with an average pace of 12:08 min mile. Faster than my usual trail running average, so I was happy about that! Since Leona I’ve only done some quick midweek runs and the half marathon last weekend, so I’m glad to be back in the running mix! I could already tell that I’ll enjoy the rest of the season with cool teammates and great coaches! Looking forward to more!