"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

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Surprise hills and more Sunday meanderings

I discovered the W&OD Trail is not as flat as I thought. Saturday morning, I took the metro out to Vienna, then ran to the trail's intersection with Maple Ave. Inconveniently for my purposes, the half mile marker closest to that intersection was on the wrong side of Maple, so I continued another half mile west to the 12 mile mark. I switched into my racing flats and headed out toward Reston, hoping to average 5:40s for 10 miles.

I knew the trail trended uphill heading west, so I was a little worried to split 2:41 for the first half, 2:46 for the second, 2:44 and 2:47 for the second mile to split 11. I was better off in the third mile with 2:51 and 2:56, then I noticed some dramatic but short hills, which slowed me down to 2:57, 2:54 over the next mile. The hills, though they included both and up and down, but the 'up' won. I closed in on Reston and went 2:58, 2:52, before turning around and mirroring my 2:52 and speeding up to 2:44. Another 2:44 and 2:46 as I got to enjoy the down on that hill, then I started to slow exactly where I had been fast before- 2:46-2:50, then 2:54, 3:00. I was getting tired now, and closed in 2:57, 2:53. I even split the whole thing- 28:30s for 57:00, to average 5:42 per mile. A little slow, but given what turned out to be a much more inconsistent course than I expected, I'm okay with it. While I was out there, I saw the off-road trail next to the W&OD which looked a lot better than its counterpart in the Falls Church portion of the trail. Had I not been running with a consistent pace in mind, I would have loved to have tried it out. I ended up with 99 miles that week, feeling no need to run an additional mile just to reach triple digits.

I was as pleased as I could have been with it, considering the surprise hills and my general distaste for 180 turns. Despite some steep but short hills on the Four Mile Run trail in Arlington parallel to the W&OD, I thought the latter was pretty gradual, though the portion near Virginia Lane should have taught me otherwise.

I took a moderate walk in Rock Creek Park to Jack Manner's going away cookout. Though fun, it was bittersweet, because he has been one of my favorite people with whom to run on weekends. His training leading up to the 2010 Boston Marathon was quite motivating, and it's been hard to see him struggle with foot injuries since. Now he's being sent to a farm in Vermont where he can run and run and run. Little by little, a lot of the guys from my early days with the GRC are going away- Dylan, Ernst, Dirk, Towpath is still around but swallowed up by 12-hour workdays. Luckily Bain has had a long streak of workouts at BCC in advance of his New York-Richmond marathon double.

Sunday I slept in and waited for my mom to arrive on her way home from Richmond. We went out to watch Lauren Peterson race her bicycle, then she headed back to Pittsburgh and I went out to enjoy what will likely be my last real long run of the fall. I headed down Grove to West, over to Fairwood, which I had not run in full in more than a year, then up Virginia to Idylwood. I took it all the way north, as it turned into Kirby, until I hit Dolley Madison/Chain Bridge Road. It was more of last week's hectic running on a busy road with a barely-existent shoulder, but a lot more manageable this time, and only for a little more than a mile. Then it was up Glebe and down, up, down and up Military Road again. Quincy was pleasant, and somewhat new, and turning on 14th and back to Kirkwood was totally new. I got to do a little of Spout Run, two blocks, not as much fun as during Marine Corps but maybe I can join Breezy for that part. Lorcom Lane was very hilly, and maybe if I hadn't been 15 miles into a run it would have been more pleasant to run. I just took Lee Highway back to the W&OD and back up Grove. I'm really getting tired of that hill. I was pretty thirsty, so I stopped and bought a Gatorade at Lee and Glebe, that helped a little.

There's a chance I'll take a short road trip in two weekends to do a long run perhaps in Prince Edward County if the weather is really good, but that might be too close to the 8k. I'm doing them purely for pleasure now, which sounds weird, because who runs for more than two hours for the heck of it? Without a doubt, I am extremely sensitive to heat and humidity. I'm not sure if anyone else feels the same dramatic difference, but these days when I run I am thriving, rather than simply staying on my feet, as I do (sometimes) in the summer.

Monday night I planned to go out to McLean High School for some quarters, but shortly after I got home from work, an unexpected rain started (well, unexpected in that I hadn't checked out the forecast). I toyed with taking the day off, but instead went outside, where it was no longer raining, and started instead toward New Virginia Manor. I evidently left my Run for Roch hat at BCC, so my backup was a still-new Gatorade synthetic hat I won at a Steelers 5k in 2007, 2008 or 2009. For a while I thought it was too much, and my head was getting pretty warm, but as I finished my first loop a light rain started up again, and I considered heading home and lying down. Then, without even thinking about it, I kept going and did another loop and felt much better once I made that apparently subconscious decision. I finished that 13 miles in 1:29.

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