Start time: 9/16/07, 7:00am
Location: National Mall, Hains Point, and Rock Creek Park
Distance: 21 miles
Average pace: 10:00min/mile
This Sunday was my second-to-last long run of the season before the Outer Banks Marathon. Since my last one stopped short, I was pretty determined to get all 21 miles in. We had a radically different course planned for us; lots of East Potomac Park/Hains Point, more portions of the National Mall, and a jaunt up and back through Rock Creek Park.
Since I’m not running Marine Corps this year, it was great to head through Hains Point again; it was as beautiful and peaceful as I remembered it. The Mall was likewise as good as always, and it was fun to head back along Jefferson instead of Madison for a change and see the other museums. Then it was into Rock Creek Park, heading much further into it than I’d ever done in the past. It was here that our group finally splintered; Erika took off, and for a bit I had Dave & Paul running a bit in front of me and Laura a bit behind me. Before long I caught the guys, though, and soon after Laura got back up to us as well (at which point Dave took off).
As we continued along uphill, Paul began to drop back just a tiny bit, but even then it was never a great distance. It was right around the point that we turned around, though, that I started having the return of my problem from the previous long run; some internal distress and a need for a bathroom… of which, of course, there are none along Rock Creek Park. (I briefly considered nipping into the Zoo and in retrospect that might have been a smart plan, but oh well.) As Laura took off, Paul and I headed back as best we could. First I let him zoom off because I was having bad cramps, then after about five minutes of walking I started running again and eventually managed to pass him on the way back in. (By that point Paul had decided to walk for a bit.)
The one funny thing about my pace is that when we hit the 18 mile point I did look at my watch and got our split time for that point: 2:52:30, which is a 9:35min/mile average. If you look at my overall average pace, it says a lot about how horrible I was feeling those last three miles. (Actual finishing time for all 21 miles was 3:30, which means a crawlingly slow 12:30min/mile pace for those final three.) At least if I have this sort of problem on marathon day, there are regular bathroom stops along the course. Once that’s taken care of, life is much better.