"It's a little self indulgent..." - My mom
"After I read a sentence, I get mad at myself for caring what you're doing." -Karl Dusen

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The long climb

I had to work on Sunday at the legislative conference in Adams Morgan, so that eliminated me from the GRC trip to Riley's Lock. I measured out a course from the office in Capitol Hill back home along the Mt. Vernon, Four Mile Run and W&OD trails that would be about 17.5 and incorporate a 10-mile climb. After my work was done, I headed to the office to change and set out. On the heels of last week's enjoyable and passion-affirming long run, I was excited, but was skeptical I could match the experience.
I am sure I ran it faster, but I did it wrong. I planned to speed up noticeably after 7.5 miles, about when I would turn onto the Four Mile Run Trail, and push the 10-mile hill to the finish. Instead, I was rolling a mile in and though I sped up, it was not exactly what I wanted. I was down to six minute pace by the time I hit the Mt. Vernon Trail, trying my best to stick to the worn grass along the paved path. When I reached the airport, I traded leads and smiles with an attractive rollerblader, though I eventually dropped her after the turn. Or maybe she went back to the 90s.
I was into a breathing pattern when I hit Four Mile Run that suited the pace, but did not give me much leeway to greet Dave O'Hara when I crossed his path. I just let out a bizarre exhale that sounded like I was laughing. Unclear signs led me a bit astray, and I eventually left the Four Mile Run Trail when I failed to cross to the south side of the creek. I jumped on the W&OD earlier than I had planned, and the straightforward path cut about .2 miles from the total, leaving me with this route.
A new trail meant a new set of half-mile markers, and new travelers. After a young bicyclist nearly ran me off the road with his awkward riding, I sped ahead and ran in the wake of a middle-aged man who was going steady at 6 minute pace. After hitting Bon Air Park, though, I tired of him and pushed ahead, approaching what was initially the 15-mile mark with a chance to hit 90 minutes. I knew I was running fast, uphill, but I didn't realize how far off my distance was. With the route deviation, the 15-mile mark was at the top of the second-steepest hill I would climb, and once I made it to the top I began to slow down and cool down. I had another significant hill a half mile from the end on Highland, so I felt at this point I needed to tame things.
I wound up averaging running about 6:11 pace for 17.33 miles, with six minute pace or under from miles 4.5 to a little before 15, so it was good work. I just didn't have the same satisfaction and enjoyment as I did during my run last weekend. Part of it was the confusion over where the Four Mile Run Trail went near Shirlington. I think it would have been a more attractive and better experience had I followed that trail to the end, but the dropoff wasn't terrible.
It's just hard to appreciate the run for the qualities that it possessed.

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