I took a morning off of running with the GRC guys to sleep in...and sleep in I did- to 11:30. I clearly needed it. It was too late for Alex, and he had already left by the time I was ready to go, so I headed out, planning to do at least 16, hoping I was up for 18. It had been quite a while since I had eaten a meal, so I wasn't sure of how I would fare, but I turned out to be just fine.
I left on what I am dubbing the Chesterbrook loop, a more confident permutation of the run up Kirby on which I got lost in January.
My left patella was pained for a bit in the first mile, but by the time I reached the short stretch of the W&OD trail, I was loose and ready to go. I blasted Virginia Lane, just because I always do, and from then on generally pushed the pace. I wasn't timing it exactly, because I left my damned watch at work, but I feel as though I was running 6:30 pace most of the first half, which was mostly downhill until the nine mile mark.
At that point, near the Chain Bridge, I turned and ran up a pretty darn steep hill- 203 feet of climbing in a half mile. The difference between this and my last trip up this hill was that in January, I basically crawled up- this time, my form naturally got as efficient as possible. It happened automatically- my knees lifted the optimal hight, I leaned just enough and my feet climbed the hill faster than I expected- I scaled the hill like a lemur scrambling up a tree. My body just naturally found the most efficient way to move, I liked that. When I got to level ground on Old Glebe, I just started rolling. I mowed down another runner and spit him out. When I hit Chesterbrook, I continued to roll, and appreciated the ease with which I was moving ahead, more than 11 miles into my run. I felt as though I had hacked my way down to 6:00 pace or below, and I wasn't straining to do it. This feeling- motion without effort- the climate - low 40s with intermittent winds, no rain- and the scenery - Virginia light suburban with little traffic- reminded me why I love running.
When I turned onto Westmoreland, I was thrilled to see almost no traffic, so I was able to move onto the actual road and started to feel like I was in a road race. When I passed Haycock Road on Westmoreland, I slowed slightly, and once I hit the end of Lincoln Avenue, I shut things down a little more for my run up Grove and around the Metro loop.
Then I fell asleep watching the Olympic hockey final and woke up eight seconds before the tying goal in the third period.