I love getting up early-ish and going for my weekend long runs. I've been doing long runs between 10 - 13 miles every other weekend in preparation for the Detroit half marathon. Last year in my training I was pretty much running the rail-trail bike path in town, which got to be pretty monotonous. This year, thanks to Runkeeper (my iPhone's GPS run tracker app) I've been able to head out in some pretty rural directions, without a route or distance really planned, and track my run very accurately (which everyone's seen from my twitter/facebook statues)
I've been running down some unpaved roads around here, back into rural areas i didn't know existed this close to my house. Maybe it's the fact that when I'm on these roads I'm driving 50 mph and don't really take a second to enjoy what's around me. This morning I took these mental photos of corn fields filled with sun-flowers, three horses playing together, a guy training his horse for harness racing all while the birds chirped in the background. Something about it is so relaxing that I barely notice the fact that I'm running and sweating like ccrazy. I listened to a Podcast for the first hour and then was just alone with my thoughts. I spent some of the time praying, other times thinking random thoughts.
I've been trying to slow down my long runs, but I'm averaging around 8 minutes 30 seconds per run with an average heart beat of about 159 bpm. I've been amazed that my resting heart rate is as low as 45 bpm. The heart rate monitor is a nice thing to have, and i'm sure Runkeeper will incorporate it in soon. I think the app also has the ability for you to take pictures and overlay them on your course - I'm just not sure how and haven't really messed with it yet. It's by far the best and most stable app out there so far for running. i swear by it. It's gotten more and more accurate as the iPhone has improved their GPS as well. My friends Brad and Bob use a Garmin watch to track their runs, which does some of the telemetry integration as well for heart monitoring. The downside is that the interface is confusing and the web site isn't very user friendly either.