After a spring where I ran whatever pace I wanted with little resistance, once June weather began in earnest, I eventually had to relent to the elements. Try as I might, I can't change how my body dissipates heat, which is to say not well at all. I find the limit to mind over matter. I think about the late Sammy Wanjiru, who was able to hold a pace others thought to be a stunt in the 2008 Olympic Marathon's hot and humid weather, yet he came out on top in a huge Olympic record time. Why can't I do that? We had divergent experiences at the 2010 Chicago Marathon, the only time I raced him (I gave him a few seconds of a head start by starting several rows back), but I always wonder if I can push myself harder. I can't, but it was not for lack of trying.
Aside from a few days in March and the regrettable warm weather in Cleveland, I was lucky to not have to deal with too many hot days this spring. That's coming to an end, though to be fair it's actually Summer now.I took two days off after I couldn't manage one Sunday, but found much nicer temperatures Wednesday night (June 13) I set out for what would be my last New Virginia Manor loop. To say I was aggressive would be fair, I was out close to 6:00 pace for the first two miles to get to the loop, then let loose and ran fast enough for the two loops to average 5:50 for 10 miles. It felt like that was my natural state. I knew it might be the last good run I have in the summer and in northern Virginia for a long time. I absolutely relished all 12.5 miles of it. I took the next day off, then ran a strained three miles Friday (June 15) evening down to the W&OD and back up through the metrobus road. My mom was in town for a wedding, so I took her to Lake Accotink for some running Saturday (June 16), and I tried the place out for the first time without running the six miles from Vienna. I liked it, though it was pretty warm and I insisted on running with some mountain bikers as long as I could. I went clockwise then counterclockwise plus a little extra for 8.5 miles. The next morning (June 17), after a day of shuttling stuff to my new house, I went out to Arlington to run the Little Falls loop that I didn't do nearly enough. It was unremarkable, though it was a worthwhile option to have.
Monday (June 18) evening, I continued my farewell tour with a Steelers loop at 6:30 pace. It was cool and pleasant. I took Tuesday off, then Wednesday (June 20) fought the evening heat to run a Westmoreland one last time. By five miles, I was in trouble, and I bailed out on Haycock and finished up with 6.5. With the temperature pushing 95, I didn't need to make myself hate running.
The next night (June 21) I finished my move with a van full of furniture and ends (no odds). Another hot, but dry, day- 98 at one point. When I took the van back to the West Falls Church, I decided to get my last run in and make it functional- I'd run the nine miles between my homes. I started out well- clutching a squeeze bottle of gatorade I would earn the right to drink. I slightly altered a Williamsburg and made it four miles at 6:30 pace, then cruised along Glebe feeling like a million bucks. The steep downhill to the Chain Bridge pushed my average to 6:21 for the first 5.5 miles, and I gulped the Gatorade when I crossed the Potomac and bid farewell to Virginia. I ran along Canal, with little traffic to hassle me, and turned up Arizona, about to tackle the 2.3-mile climb to Tenleytown. As I shot up the hill, though, everything crashed. I couldn't see, my heart started racing but feeling weak, my lungs began to hurt, and I had no recourse but to sit the hell down. I'm not sure how long I was there, but when I summoned the strength to resume, I jogged gingerly. After a few minutes climbed Arizona, it became apparent I would have been unwise to continue. So, I walked, still light headed. I kept walking until I reached Rockwood- a flat mile from the house. I jogged slowly but surely and finished the job, collapsing into the first-floor bathtub to rinse myself cool. I downed two quarts of gatorade and went about trying -- and failing -- to carry my stuff upstairs. I gave up soon and went to bed, waking up four hours later, falsely panicked that I had overslept. The next day at work, my head felt like it was cement, and my arms could barely function. I think I am pretty much ran myself to exhaustion the night before. I think it was the most miserable I have been while running, and I probably pushed myself harder than I ever had before, though it was a bad idea to do so. I took the Friday off, smartly.
June 23- I slept in and ran a little too late to beat the rising temperatures. I headed off on what I'm calling my bad ending loop- around to Connecticut, down to Dupont and back up Massachusetts and Wisconsin. I made it halfway up Massachusetts before I overheated and decided to play it safe, in case I had done myself grievous harm Thursday night, and walked the rest of the way after running 5.75 miles.
June 24- Sunday morning I slept in a little bit too much again and resigned myself to an easy 5 miles on my Fordham loop that I adapted from my AU workout warmup.
July 4 I headed up to BCC to run around the track while some of the guys worked out. Ran around with Wiggy a lot and had a total of eight miles. In the afternoon, Witty and I went out and did a Hannay's Gate and I had to stop several times in the fifth mile to let me heart rate slow down.
July 5-6 Thursday and Friday I ran the same Partial Stefan loop, up Wisconsin to Somerset, then to the CCT and down to Albemarle, and back home. Thursday I was on my own and Friday I finally had a run with both Sam and Ryan.
July 7- I was up early Saturday to avoid the 106-degree heat, starting at 6:30, and even then I felt like I had slept in too much. Luckily I had only 9 miles to meet my 60 mile goal for the week, so I simply did a Rockland, stayed on Western to Chevy Chase Circle, came back on Nebraska then headed down Wisconsin to the Hearst field, did a few laps then came back.
July 8- Sunday afternoon, I wanted until the rains were supposed to come in the late afternoon. I set out around 5, with the temperatures still in the 90s, and journeyed down Porter to the Western Ridge Trail and eventually Beach Drive. When I hit Beach, the wind picked up as a thunderstorm brewed, and my first crossing of Rock Creek was greeted with a dramatic thunderclap. The temperature was more bearable and I braced for rain that didn't come. I turned up Bingham and then a long climb up Nebraska home.
July 9- Monday was dramatically better, and it showed in my pace. I ran up Nebraska to Connecticut, to the CCT. I started taking splits at the two-mile mark and marveled as I went 6:10, 6:00, 5:30 for the three miles before I eased up for a mile then was back up those dang Albemarle hills and off for home on Butterworth, a slightly better alternative to Albemarle. I ended up hitting 10.1 miles at 6:30 pace, my fastest in a while.
July 10- Tuesday morning's run to work was a pain. It was humid, I was tired and my knees hurt. Military Road has no sidewalk to speak of, and that made crossing Rock Creek Park a lot less pleasant than I had anticipated. By the time I got to Fort Totten Park, I was feeling beaten up, so I ran to the Brookland Metro and took that the rest of the way. I still got 6.5 miles at 6:55 pace. In the evening, I set off for a run in Somerset and hit a rainstorm less than a mile in, which was fantastic. It felt refreshing to have the water all over the place, blinding me at times, cooling me off constantly, providing entertainment. I ran some turns that had calf-deep torrents running down the hill. After my shoes were completely soaked, the knowledge that it couldn't get any worse released me to enjoy it more. I ended up getting 6.25 miles at a little under 7:00 pace for 13.75 total.
The next morning I headed out on my own to run a 10 mile loop in Somerset. It was incredibly humid and I was soaked within 20 minutes. It was a decent neighborhood for running, with little traffic, and I can easily see a road race working in there, assuming cooperation from the residents. I ended up averaging 7:30s, which
Friday morning I was in Pittsburgh and running eight miles around Chatham Village before taking a nap and heading down to my hotel for a conference. The weather was cool and dry and it looked like I'd have a good stint of training while I was home.
NOPE The next morning, I was up at 5:30 to warm up for my organization's fitness 5k. It was humid as all get out. I got down to the Convention Center and we were off. I burst out into the lead and passed by my department director, who was directing participants, and pointed out that that's why they hired me- to win the fitness 5k. I cruised over the Allegheny to the North Shore and ran alone out to the casino- 8:30 out. I turned and crossed paths with a variety of delegates and staff members and waved to them. I chose one of the bridges, bounded up the steps and back over the river and back to the convention center. I saw the organizer. Oh hello! Surprised to see me here? Yes, she was, because apparently the run finished on the lower level. I ran even splits for 17:00 on what I believe to have been 5k+, because there was no indication of when to turn around. I went out on the jail trail to finish up 12 miles.
I slept in the next morning and ran in the afternoon. It was pretty damned hot. I took Second Avenue out to Hazlewood Avenue and climbed one of the more miserable hills in recently memory. I must have been out of practice running in Pittsburgh. By the time I got to Schenley Park, I opted out of my golf course loop and headed back down the Panther Hollow Trail and back on the Jail Trail. I was pretty beaten up and ready to be done after 12 miles.
I took Monday off. Tuesday evening I headed out from the William Penn to Penn Avenue, then Butler until One Wild Place, then wound up the hill to Negley, then Penn until Children's Hospital, then Liberty. I had a life-sustaining drink of water near the Church Brew Works and continued my cruise down Liberty, totaling 12.
Wednesday morning I did five miles around Chatham Village in the morning, then eight around Fox Chapel in the evening. Climbing Guyasuta from Squaw Run was no joke. Thursday morning I did an easy five around Squaw Valley Park, and eight in the evening in Mt. Lebanon. Both were really tough, weatherwise.
Friday morning I struggled through wretched humidity in Frick Park and was lucky to get about seven miles in. I supplemented that with five around Chatham Village that evening. I took Saturday off to get more rest, because I clearly needed it. Sunday, I headed back to Frick and actually got a solid 10 miles in.
I finally got some new shoes, I realized only after looking up my old order confirmation e-mails that I had been wearing the same two pairs, aside from workouts and some long runs, since early January, almost 2,100 miles.
I'm not quite sure what I did for a while, and I won't delay in finishing this up just to figure that out. There was a lot of doubling and I steadily increased my mileage: 80, 85, 90, 96, and 100 the week ending when I went out to Steve's cabin. I do remember a lot of struggle against the heat and humidity and dissatisfaction with running in northwest DC. It's not to say that it's bad. It's the best part of the city in which to live to be a long distance runner, but in comparison, it's terrible compared to what I had in McLean. The traffic relegates me to the sidewalks, which are crowded with people. Though I have mapped and explored extensively, I have yet to find anything that compares to even my middling loops before. The climbs uphill at the end of every run might be making me stronger, but I don't need them every day. I'm a few miles from Rock Creek Park, but in the summer, it's so muggy and bereft of wind, it's miserable. When it cools down, it will get dark too early to be able to safely run there. And every time we have a heavy rain, trees come down and block trails. Despite all of this, however, I've been able to run decent mileage.
Possibly adding to my frustration is the savagery with which the summer beat me. I don't want to belabor the point, but I'm going to. I should just stop trying to run fast during the summer. Nothing good comes from it. I'll be fine when the weather cools, but for two months, I'm useless faster than 7:00 pace. So, as long as I live here, I won't even plan on racing in the summer.
Friday night, Sam, Beth, Drea and I drove out to Pembroke to Steve and Lori's cabin for an abbreviated training camp. We drove out to Pandapas Park Saturday morning and ran about 10.5 miles on the Poverty Creek Trail, out and back. The climatic change from DC was remarkable, we were running at 10:30 am and feeling great. That afternoon we ran to the War Spur overlook, gingerly, thanks to all of the rocks on the trail. The view was magnificent, as (almost) always. We tried to eat three dishes at Kal Bee among the four of us, but my resistance to pork was our weak spot, and we yielded.
That night, we got to bed significantly earlier than the night before, but woke much earlier after a sudden rain shower hammered the tin roof like thousands of gunshots. Earplugs fixed that. Later that morning, we headed up to the Mountain Lake hotel to meet the Richmond team for its preseason camp long run. At noon, it was still 59 degrees, with a wet chill. It was absolutely ideal. I caught up with a bunch of the guys and met the freshmen as we headed up the gravel road past the lake. We took a detour to see the overlook but the group split up later on. Sam and I continued on the road, climbing like crazy, then turned. On the way back, Sam wanted to let the thing be pressed and I went with him for a while, until my knee started to get sore. he was going less than I was anyway, and I decided to explore the dirt (mud) trails for a while. I ended up getting 2:12, which I equated to 20 miles.
The next evening, Witty and I went out for a run through Rock Creek Park via Calvert. It began pouring and we just relished it.
Thursday evening I went to Falls Church to see my barber and get a decent run. I ended up doing a Slate Run and reveling in the empty suburban streets and I had all to myself.
Saturday I went out to Bull Run Park for a potential long run. The humidity and my fatigue from a long week of not sleeping well doomed me, and I ended up only getting in a little more than 90 minutes for 13 and another 100 mile week.
Sunday morning, I slept in and ran down to Rock Creek Park and around the Western Ridge trail until I got to the field off of Military where I planned to do a fartlek. Only, I didn't want to anymore. I ran some lame laps around the field and headed home for a total of eight. That afternoon, I did the Connecticut loop until I hit the Massachusetts Bridge, and instead took the trail down to Rock Creek Park and ran to the Melvin Hazen Trail for 12.
Monday morning I did the Van Ness Street loop Scott and I did a few weeks ago for eight, then in the afternoon ran to the Donaldsons Run Trail with Billzzz for another eight. It was a little too warm and the park had no water fountain.
Tuesday I did a partial Stefan in the morning in wretched humidity, which drained me down to my lowest weight in years. It was about 90 degrees after work when I did a Potomac loop, extended around the Capitol, and I was really feeling parched by five miles. 13 total.
Wednesday (Aug. 29) I did a Hannay's Gate five miles easy in the morning, then went to BCC for a workout. I was feeling great after a 2:32 800 warmup. I stuck in the middle of the pack first the first mile and went through in 4:59, then 4:55 for the second, feeling like it was natural. Then, on the 400 jog after the second, I started feeling like I couldn't get a deep breath in. I didn't make it 100 meters in. I came back and started the 5:04 mile with the B group, but was a second slow at the 400 and wasn't feeling up to the rest, so I got off the track and cooled down.
Thursday (Aug 30) I did another Hanny's Gate in the morning, then a Nellie Custis in the evening for 18 total.
Friday morning I woke up without any interest in running, so I didn't. It was my first day off all month, but after 413 miles, I figured why not.
Saturday morning I woke up to hear Molz, Guy and Andy talking about how humid it was. It couldn't be anything worse than what I've felt this summer, I thought. YES, IT COULD. It was awful. It wasn't just uncomfortable, it was hard to breathe. Lauder and Dana picked Hunter and me up a little while later and took us to Pole Green Park. I hadn't been there since 2005, while working for the Herald-Progress. I took off on my warmup around the course and started to feel a stabbing sensation under my shoulder. I joined Watson for a bit and wore my 10-year-old spikes, at which Rhue continues to amaze that they are still in one piece.
I lined up on the far end of a field of 70-some and judged my chances for success. Earlier in the week, I wanted to run as close to 5:00 pace as possible. With the humidity as bad as it was, that was unfeasible. I decided I might as well see how long I could hang on and just have the race kick me into action. I wouldn't be in the same shape as last year, given that I'm a month behind in my training, so I didn't want to set even moderate goals without extremely favorable conditions, lest I lose the results in a cloud of frustration.
Instead, I was lost in a cloud of runners as we ran across the field at Pole Green Park. The last time I was here, it was covered in booths during the Hanover Tomato Festival. I was shocked I was able to run across the grass as fast as I was- during my warmup I could barely jog. It must be the adrenaline of my first race since May. I just kind of sat back in the lead group for a while and followed Kyle and Adam. I realized after most of a lap that I had been running pretty fast for a while, but had no idea how long of how far we were on the course. We came back into the open field and soon enough I found out how fast we were going- 4:51 for the mile. Lauder reportedly said "he's going to pay for that." I kept pushing, but I was starting to feel the combination of thick air and the fastest mile I had run in months. I hung on for a while, but started to fall out of the pack and then was on my own. After what I guess to have been eight minutes, my breathing was a wreck, and I was just pushing for the heck of it, to finish the race. I went through the second mile in 10:10 and just couldn't wait for it to be over. People kept passing me and I had no motivation to stop them. I hoped some animal would come out of the woods and tear me to pieces so I didn't have to finish the race. Not soon enough, I got to the last stretch, and Lauder yelled to "use your weight on the downhill." I tried to kick, but two chaps caught me at the end as we crossed the line and ran right into the finishers waiting to have their numbers recorded. I ended up running 16:05, surprising, given how dead I was at the end. Looking back, I could have pushed more, if I was ready for that kind of pain. I paid lip service to cooling down, but not very much. I was going to enjoy the rest of my day off.
The next morning I went off on my own over the Nickel Bridge again to Forest Hill Avenue, then pretty much went backwards on the marathon course. I passed Kyle and Conor heading the other way, but wanted to stick with my route rather than go with them. I was cruising along uncomfortably fast for the humid morning when I got to Stratford Hills and chased a guy down five miles in before heading up Rockfalls. The trip down was bereft of the normal breeze I enjoy so. I followed the detour from Riverside Drive up to Hugenot, then down the hill and over the new bridge to Panorama and through campus. I stopped at the track for water, 10 miles in, and headed up Towana and along Tree Chopt to Grove. I stopped at the mercifully-placed cooler and had a few drinks and gave myself an absolutely necessary splash of ice water in the face. The rest was just miserable. I was hitting the limit for the heat my body could handle and get rid of. When I got to the Boulevard, I stopped and walked back to Molz's. I got 14.25 and later that day decided against doubling.
I checked out the Google streetview of the Hugenot Bridge and saw this dude running
Labor Day morning, I ran from the line with Dickson, Murph, Fox, Tex, Outlaw and Seamus. It was again muggy, and my plans for 13 miles were quickly quashed by my general misery. I ended up getting 11. That evening, I headed down CT to Rock Creek, via Calvert, and headed up the trail toward Ridge Road. As I passed the zoo, though, I saw someone I thought I knew and for the rest of the run was unsure if I was going crazy or not.
Tuesday night I ran a Partial Stefan, but was having a rough time and barely finished seven miles. Wednesday I ran up Nebraska to Oregon and took Western back. That was difficult too, the humidity was killing me. The track workout was over quickly. I led the B group through 3/4 mile and felt the stabbing sensation in my lung, so I dropped out.
Thursday, I struggled through something in the morning, but then joined Witty for an hour out and back on the CCT via Somerset. I felt much better after that. I took Friday off.
Saturday I did an easy 63 minutes from the line with Jake and Sam, without a doubt the most enjoyable run from the line for me, ever. In the evening I did a CT-CCT with Bitz after a storm and relished the cool air. I had been waiting months for that. The run in the mountains was a tease, because I'd have to come back to DC weather. Now, it's getting reasonable to expect this weather.
Sunday morning I woke early to run up to BCC and warm up around the normal loop so I could see the guys finishing the Parks Half. I missed them, though, but got back to the track and was right on schedule for my 2x20 workout. I started slow, 83, but quickly got ahead of pace and averaged 5:26s, feeling really relaxed. I had to take a break during my recovery jog to attend to my intestines, but was right on time to start the second set. Through the mile alone in 5:19, Dickson and Fridge joined me for their three miles at 5:20. Dickson led superbly and I was through 3.75 in 19:53, with no major distress. Given the problem I had digestively, I was even happier with what was on paper my best 2x20 workout ever. Ahead of pace and relaxed. The cool weather does wonders, even though it was still incredibly humid. I didn't have a long cooldown in me.
Monday I met up with Scott for a morning run, then went off into RCP on my own in the evenings, down the Soapstone Valley Trail, along the Western Ridge to the line and the Valley Trail, then the trail between Beach and Ross drives, and up the Melvin Hazen Trail for a total of 20 for the day.