Start time: 8/16/03, 6:00am
Location: W&OD Trail
Distance: 19.5 miles
Run:Walk ratio: 2:2, then 2:3
The Twenty Mile Run: A Breakdown By Milage
Mile 0: Seven of us prepare to head out; me, John, Dave, Scott, Mary, Beth, and Lisa. Madelyn is curiously missing in action, Lindsay is resting her knee due to doctor’s orders, and Julie is up in Massachusetts visiting her sister and ran on Friday. Everyone appears to be hopeful about this week’s run despite the promises of extremely high temperatures coupled with 98% humidity.
Mile 3: We hit our first turn-around pretty quickly. Everyone still very happy and chatty, especially with the clouds overhead keeping the sun away. We could get used to this.
Mile 6: Still doing pretty well. We’ve made it back to home base in strong form. All we have left is seven miles out to Vienna and back. Jokes are being told and we’re cracking each other up.
Mile 11: Whoops! We took that mile a little fast. We’d been given a slower pace to run at in order to keep from burning out, but we were doing a good job of nailing the new pace pretty well. We vow to run a tiny bit slower. Mary and Lisa, who aren’t running the full 20-miler, are bid adieu. They’re supposed to keep walking forward while we run and then that way they can catch us on the return trip.
Mile 12: It turns out our attempts at “run a tiny bit slower” actually equalled “run that mile even faster.” John suggests adjusting our run/walk ratio and we agree. In this heat, slower is actually better because it lessens the chance of keeling over. Right after this mile marker is the Vienna Community Center, and that means air-conditioned bathrooms. Trust me, you have no idea what a godsend this is. This is where we pick up Karla, who was running with a slower group that is running hideously out of control (anywhere from 45 seconds to 1 1/2 minutes too fast per mile). So in order to run a slower pace, she has to switch to what is supposed to be a faster group. Karla fits in pretty quickly with our group and we’re glad to save her from people that are going to hurt themselves if they keep this up.
Mile 13: The other turn-around! Now all we need to do is hoof those seven miles back to Falls Church and we’re done.
Mile 14: We grab a partially-full jug of water to bring back to Lisa and Mary, who we fear will be running low on water. After two miles of not seeing them we finally realize that they gave up on the original plan and just turned around, so we split the water among ourselves and dump the jug in a nearby trashcan.
Mile 16: Our group starts to really struggle to keep our pace. There’s no shade on this part of the trail and the sun has completely come out of the clouds and is beating on our faces. I’m very thankful that I have my hat to provide some minimal protection.
Mile 17.5: The sun is wiping Beth out; she decides that she needs to just start walking, so Dave sticks with her.
Mile 18: We encounter a site assistant at the water fountain and John reads her the riot act on why they switched the course around so the shady part isn’t at the end. He points out that the fast groups were so upset about that course aren’t the ones who need the shade to be at the end because they’re already home and showered. The site assistant doesn’t seem particularly interested in John’s points. We give up and move on.
Mile 18.5: Dave catches back up with us; the site assistant called someone with a car to pick Beth up, and we’re moving slow enough that catching us isn’t too hard. By this point John is dragging a bit more and so am I.
Mile 19: All energy abruptly vanishes. I ask John if he wants to walk a little more and he immediately agrees. We wave goodbye to the vanishing dots on the horizon of Karla, Dave, and Scott.
Mile 19.5: Suddenly and without warning, I am feeling dizzy and nauseous. Not a good sign. I tell John and he’s concerned, so we decide that as soon as we get to where his car is parked, he’s going to get it.
Mile 19.6: I sit down on the curb of the road while John goes the extra 100 feet to his car. A minute later, I’m in it and air-conditioning has never felt so good. Even more importantly, within about ten seconds I am instantly feeling better. Clearly a case of the heat having pounded me into submission. Back at home base I put an ice pack on the back of my neck, sit down and eat a bagel, and feel completely back to normal. I remind myself that I made the right choice. This is my third time through this training program and I don’t have to prove anything to anyone, quite frankly. I’d have liked to have finished that last half mile but ignoring warning signs like that is how people hurt themselves. On the way back to my car I tell John that he’s the best but not to tell Julie. He instantly vows to tell Julie. Oh well.