Sunday, January 29, 2012

C&O Canal 16 Miler

I don't have a lot to say about this run except that it was a lot harder than I expected it to be.

I parked my car at Lander Road, which is near Point of Rocks.  From there I walked down to the river, snapped the first two (outdoor) shots below and started off.  I ran to White's Ferry where I met Cindi and Samie.  We took the Ferry across the river into VA, and drove back.  I took a few pictures along the way.

I usually keep a pretty even pace on my long runs bu this time I had a hard time with that.  I don't really know why but every time I checked my watch I was either running too fast or too slow.

I just barely managed the full 16, by the time I got to mile 14 I was really wiped. The last two miles were really a struggle.  I think some of it may have been knowing that the girls had been sitting and waiting for me for a while, but I think mostly I was just tired.

This is the only long run distance that repeats, so next weekend I'll get a chance to try running 16 again.  I hope it goes better!


Bag is packed and ready.

The view upstream from the Lander Rd. boat launch.


The green blur is another runner.  I actually passed someone! Of course it turned out that he was probably 20 years older than me.

Runner & Train

Train and trees

Approaching the bridge at Point of Rocks.


Noland's Ferry and my fingers.

Approaching the Mouth of the Monocacy Aqueduct

The Monocacy looked very muddy.

The Monocacy meets the Potomac. The towers on the left are the power plant in Dickenson.

This is just after the power plant. The canal is still full of water in this area.

There is a blue heron in this picture.  Since this is very close to where I saw the heron I took pictures of a few weeks ago, I assume this must be the same bird.

The heron flew off as I approached.  I gave chase with my camera and tried to get some in flight pictures.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Windsor Knolls 14 Miles

My streak of dry, warm (mostly warm at least) weather ended this weekend.  Friday night we got a about an inch of snow which is no big deal, but that was followed by a nice layer of freezing rain which made driving to the canal out of the question.  Driving would have been too dangerous and I can't imagine running 14 miles on ice would have been very easy.  On a side note, I read about a cool product to help with that called Yaktrax ( that I'm going to have to pick up at some point.

I decided to wait until later in the day Saturday and hope that the ice would melt.  It didn't.  Finally around 11:00 I decided I would just run on the roads and stay on the parts that had been treated.  I figured out a 14 mile there and back route through my development and went for it.

Running around where I live and running at the canal aren't anything alike.  The canal is flat and soft and running in Windsor Knolls is all pavement and hills.  I told myself to ignore my pace and just try to concentrate on staying upright.  I managed to complete the entire run without falling, although I came close a couple times.

One highlight of the run was watching people try to clear ice off of their driveways with snow-blowers.  I passed one guy four times and he had maybe cleared off a space big enough to put a car in.

Another highlight came at mile 11 when I was starting to really fade.  I was coming toward a cross street and my friend Jay ran past.  Jay and I ran the Baltimore Half Marathon together and seeing him lifted my spirits considerably.  I tried to catch him but our routes didn't match up and I didn't even come close but he provided me some much needed inspiration at just the right time.  I texted him later to say thanks.

I finished the run pretty strong and felt great for about 5 minutes.  After that I started getting sore.  I was surprised at just how sore I was all day after the run.  I wore my compression socks which have helped a lot.  My legs feel pretty good this morning and I don't think I'll miss any training this week.

No pictures this time.  I didn't bring a camera because I was worried about falling and breaking it.  This screen capture of my Garmin data is the only picture I really need.  If you click on the image it will take you to the Garmin website.  Click on the green arrow and you can play the entire run.  This should be hours of fun for the whole family.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

C&O Canal 12 Mile

Back at the canal again last weekend.  I keep thinking that I'll get bored with running here, but so far I am enjoying it more and more.  I went back to the "out and back" routine this time.  I started at Point of Rocks and ran north-west to Brunswick.

Two days before running I was in to visit the podiatrist.  I've been suffering from a lot of pain in my right Achilles tendon and wanted to get it checked out.  The doctor was none to pleased when she asked me to describe my pre-run stretching regimen and I replied with "none".  So, I've been stretching the tendons religiously ever since and I have already noticed an improvement.  I guess doctors aren't all complete idiots.

So with my legs feeling a lot less pain I trotted off down the trail for a couple hours.  I brought a camera along again this time and took a few shots.  It's kind of funny that I only stopped once to try and get a good shot at the Catoctin Aqueduct and it turned out very blurry.  The rest of them I just slowed down a little and snapped pictures while I ran.

It was quite cold this week, but I was prepared with a freshly purchased hoodlum mask. It must have been quite intimidating because I encountered a guy with big scary dog who took one look at me and ran the other way.  It was most likely just a coincidence that he chose that particular moment to turn and start jogging the other way, but I enjoyed pretending to be intimidating for a couple miles.  Eventually he ran out of steam and walked off one of the side trails.  I still had 3 miles to go.

Parking lot at Point of Rocks.  The water was very high!

CSX train headed up the tracks.

and into the tunnel. This train went to Brunswick and stopped.  I ran along side it for at least a mile as it was parked on the tracks.

Approaching the Catoctin Aqueduct

View from the Catoctin Aqueduct. The Potomac river is flowing right to left at the end of this stream.

Railroad bridge over the Catoctin Aqueduct.  This is about 3.5 miles from Point of Rocks.

Scary man, from below.

Scary man, from above.

The turn around point. The car is blocking the entrance to the Brunswick Family Campground.

The camp ground was closed.  It looks like a nice park.  I guess it was closed due to high water, but I'm not really sure.  There was a police car in front of the gate, but no one was in it.

The trail beckons.

This is Lock #28, Fulton's Lock.  I was really starting to get tired at this point and snapped a couple of pictures to get my mind off of the repetitive urging to stop and walk.

The Lock House belonged to William Henry Fulton, originally from Loudon County Virginia. (Source:
After passing the lock house I kept looking for the Route 15 bridge, which is right next to where I parked.  I decided that I would sprint as best I could to the bridge and then allow myself to walk if I hadn't hit 12 miles by then. I passed under the bridge moving at a somewhat less than glacial pace and my watch said 11.95 so I kept going until I hit the parking lot.

I was quite pleased when I looked at the data from my watch.  I ran an average time of 9:31.  I keep edging closer to four hour marathon time.  I don't want to allow myself to even hope for that kind of time at the race.  I'll just keep at it and see where I end up.

Next week will be a big challenge.  I am scheduled to run 14 miles which will be .9 miles further than I have ever run before.  If Cindi is available to drive me, I will run from Point of Rocks to White's Ferry.

Time to log off here and go for a six miler around the neighborhood. Cheers!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Week Four - 11 Miles at the Canal

The training plan called for an 11 mile long run yesterday.  We have been experiencing some really nice weather in my area the last few days and I was happy that the warm streak would continue through Saturday.  Of course at 8:30 in the morning it's still pretty cold, but the sun was out and I was ready to go.

The thing that made this run fun was that I didn't have to do an out and back.  Instead, Cindi said she would pick me up at White's Ferry and drive me back to the car.  I REALLY liked the idea of just running in one direction and not having to turn around and go back.  I checked the map and found what I thought would be the perfect run.  Noland's Ferry to White's Ferry.  According to my calculations it would be about 10.5 miles. The plan was just to run past White's Ferry for about a 1/4 and then turn around.  No problem.

Except that my calculations were all wrong.  I got to White's Ferry and my Garmin said it was only 8.8 miles!  Arriving at what I expected to be the finish line only to learn that I still had more than two miles to go was a bit disheartening but I tried not to let it inside my head too much.  Sometimes I tend to react rather badly when things don't go according to plan, but I did a pretty good job of just putting it out of my head.  I ran the extra mile past White's Ferry and turned around.  When I got back I found Cindi waiting for me.  I was also greeted by a black lab with a stick that he wanted me to throw.

Sorry, no picture this time.  I didn't bring Lauren's camera and I didn't break out the phone for pictures because I wanted to run the entire distance without stopping.  I accomplished that goal and also experimented a little with some energy gel.  I was trying Gu, Espresso Love; I liked the tasted even though it was a bit sweet. I had a little bit of indigestion afterward but that's probably because I didn't drink enough water with it.  I did feel my energy level rise a little a few minutes after taking it in so I'm going to continue to experiment with that.

I hope do do a similar run next week, but I'll have to employ better calculations.  Maybe it's time to dust off the slide rule?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Weeks Two and Three

I haven't updated the blog for a couple weeks.  I know my readers (both of you) have been on the edge of your seats waiting for an update and I do apologize for keeping you waiting.

Since my last update I've been on two long runs at the Canal.  An 8 miler that I quite enjoyed and a 10 miler that I enjoyed but struggled with at the end.  I was a little surprised that the latter run gave me as much trouble as it did.  Looking back, I think my diet is at least partially to blame for that.

8 Mile Run, Christmas Eve
I started at the Mouth of the Monocacy parking lot and ran down stream.  Like I said above, I really enjoyed this run a lot.  I had never been on this part of the canal before and I always like seeing new things.  A big highlight of the run for me was coming across a blue heron.  I stopped and took a couple pictures of it.  I was surprised that it let me get as close as I did without reacting.  After I took the last shot I jogged off and it just watched me go without moving.

On my return trip, I came across the same bird again but this time it was up in a tree.  It flew off when I came around a corner.  It's wingspan was enormous.  I wasn't able to get a picture of that.

10 Mile Run, New Years Eve
Running the week before, I passed a parking lot that I didn't know about.  I went home and looked it up on Google Maps and found out that it was Dickerson Conservation Park.  I decided to start my run there so could explore more of the trail.  The park was kind of creepy early in the morning.  There isn't anything there at all aside from the parking lot which was empty when I arrived.  I felt uncomfortable there and I doubt I will start anymore runs from this point.

I headed downstream again this week and made it all the way to (and past) White's Ferry which I had never visited before.  I felt pretty good for about the first 6 miles or so.  The last four were something of a struggle.  I'm fighting off a bit of a cold and I wasn't eating very well the night before so those are both contributing factors.

This time I took a small camera with me and snapped some shots as I ran.  I didn't notice that the date stamp was turned on and displaying the wrong date until the end of the run.

I used the camera to distract myself and took a few shots here and there.  I surprised a couple of  runners coming the other way, but they didn't seem to mind.  The big reward came at the end of the run when I followed a trail across from where I parked that took me out to the rivers edge for a really nice view of the river.

Approaching White's Ferry.

I called out "say cheese" as they approached. :-)



Treebeard isn't going to like this, Pippin.

Tired but happy.