I was planning a 20-mile run—10 miles through Vienna to a point on the W&OD Trail, then an eight mile tempo on the trail heading east, which would deposit me close to home so I could cool down two miles. It was raining lightly and about 75 degrees, maybe it went up three or four degrees from when I would have started but the difference was negligible. I averaged 7:30s on my way to the trail (a paved trail, but one with half-mile markers) and felt pent up. When I got to the first half-mile mark I stopped and wrung out my saturated socks, I felt I might as well at least start off not feeling like I have sponges inside my shoes.
Things went well for a while- I hit 5:45 for the first mile, 5:40 for the second, and 2:47 for the first half of the third mile. Then I got really tired. I started to slow down to 6:00 pace for a while. Then 6:30, almost like clockwork. I figured the point was then to get home- if I felt like going the extra two miles when I got there, great. As I approached the bridge over the beltway, 2.5 miles from home, I felt fine. When I crossed the bridge, I did not. I kept going for a while until I reached Idylwood Park. I sat down on a bench, but only felt marginally better. I lied down, felt better still. Then I put my feet up on the back of the bench and closed my eyes, and felt alright. After a few minutes, I opened my eyes and saw furiously moving pine branches swaying in the breeze set against the gray sky. It looked like an avant garde expression of resilience in the face of adversity. It told me I should get up and go home so that a. I don’t die out there and b. I am back in time for Emily Ward’s visit. I got up and started to walk, but I barely got anywhere before I realized it was a losing effort. I saw a woman I had passed while I was nearing the end of my run and thought I might see if I could hitchhike home, because walking seemed like a bad idea. I presented my case, and she was skeptical of a stranger, as I well understood. I started to walk away and she called for me and asked if I had been the person lying on the bench. I said that was me. She then told me to get in the car and there’s no way I’d be strong enough to overpower her. With a chuckle, I got in and upon arriving home, didn’t want to move for a while. I managed 15.5 miles of running, but I fell far shorter than that in my mind.
I suppose I should start practicing with sport beans… I’ll be sure to pick some up before I go to Reno and attempt my long run where I will be relatively unfamiliar with my surroundings. I can’t have this happen again anyway…Three months until Chicago.