Monthly Archives: August 2003

Running: 19.5 miles

Start time: 8/16/03, 6:00am

Location: W&OD Trail

Activity: Running

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.

Running: 9 miles

Start time: 8/9/03, 7:00am
Location: W&OD Trail
Activity: Running
Distance: 9 miles
Run:Walk ratio: 3:1

Took the rest of last week off to recover from the 18-miler; aside from yesterday morning’s dreadful humidity, the 9-miler was a piece of cake. Gotta love it.

Running: 18 miles

Start time: 8/2/03, 6:00am
Location: W&OD Trail
Activity: Running
Distance: 18 miles
Run:Walk ratio: 2:2 (mostly)

Phew! I’ve been trying to climb back up to speed this week, and while it was a tough journey, I think it was well worth it. After having a couple of weeks off, last Saturday’s run was a lot tougher than it should have been, so I knew I had to stop slacking off. I got some good solo runs in on Tuesday and Thursday, so I figured I was ready for this Saturday’s 18-mile run.

The farthest I’d gone this year was just 14 miles, and one of those miles had been walked in, so I was already mentally prepared for the idea of just maybe doing 17 miles, but I’d play it by ear. One great boost of encouragement this morning was that my parents were going to be water volunteers! That meant that they were helping man a water stop at the Vienna Community Center where they’d be pouring water and Gatorade for runners, offering pretzels, and generally keeping us from collapsing into a heap. It really meant a lot to me for them to be out there that early in the morning; trust me, it was very much appreciated! (If you’re interested in helping out this way and live in the DC area, let me know!)

There were only six of us this week—so much for that huge group of people we started with in our pace group back in May! Hopefully we’ll have some of our missing in action members back before too long! We set off at a reduced running pace (starting with the 16-miler they slow us all down a little more so we don’t burn ourselves out before the marathon itself!); Lindsay and Scott were going to run the full 18 miles, Madelyn and Beth were planning on just 17 miles, and Julie and I were both playing it by ear. The first 7-mile stretch went really well, running from the edge of Arlington all the way through Vienna. (Although we did watch one group miss the turn-around and keep running. We hollered at them that they were going too far but they said they couldn’t hear us. Oh well.) So naturally, things got tougher on the way back.

It was probably nine miles in that we lost Madelyn and Beth; Madelyn has always been pretty vocal about her lack of ability to run through the heat, and today was no exception. We turned around and the two of them had slowed down a bit, so we waved to them for good luck and kept pushing forward. By the time we got back to home base (14 miles in) we were a little tired but so far, so good. It wasn’t until soon after the 16-mile point that I finally started to really drag; nothing was hurting badly, but I was just feeling exhausted. It’s no small wonder, since I was already three miles into brand-new distance! I told the rest of the group that when we hit the next water stop, I was going to adjust my running pace and slow down a little bit, and Julie thought that sounded like a good idea. Lindsay and Scott headed off, almost leaving a dust cloud in their wake.

The good news is that the rest of the run went really well; we didn’t get in that long after Lindsay and Scott, and Madelyn and Beth made it in soon after that with 17 miles under their belts. This was a really important run for me because it pushed me back up to where I should be in terms of progress. It’s always tough to catch up when you’re behind, but I’m feeling good about being back up to speed now. Next week is just a 9-mile recovery run… piece of cake!