Monday, February 27, 2012

C&O Canal 20 Miler

I met up with Eric and Beth again for our last long run of this "marathon training cycle".  That's what the crazy running people on Runners World call it.  I get a little nervous by that expression because of the word "cycle". The use of the word cycle implies that this will happen again which makes my legs hurt.  Actually, I'm only joking about that.  I'm pretty sure that I will run at least one more marathon after this. Preferably one that takes place in the fall instead of the spring. I doubt I will ever get this kind of a winter to train through again.  BUT, I'm getting waaaay ahead of myself right now.  I haven't finished anything and I'm already talking about doing it again.  So let's start over.....

I met up with Eric and Beth for our last long run before our first marathons.  Eric and Beth are running in the Rock and Roll Marathon in DC on March 17th.  This used to be called The National Marathon until they brought in the Rock and Roll people to run it.  Eric and Beth are both first timers like me and this was to be their first ever 20 mile run.  We started at Point of Rocks and headed upstream (north-west) toward Brunswick.  The plan was to run the 6.5 miles to Brunswick, stop in the visitors center to use the rest rooms and then head back.  We would pick up the remaining miles by running downstream toward Noland's Ferry and back.  The run to Brunswick was pretty good despite the high winds.  The trees provided some buffer from the wind and none of us felt cold as we ran.

Once we arrived at Brunswick we couldn't find the visitors center but the park provided restroom was adequate.  We decided to abandon our plan for turning around there and just run the last 3.5 miles upstream and then turn and run 10 miles back.

Eric and I move at a little faster pace than Beth so we stopped every so often to let her catch up.  Neither one of us wanted to get too far ahead in case of emergency.  I didn't know it at the time, but Beth was feeling dehydrated and also suffering from a lot of pain in her back.

I felt like I relied on Eric a little too much to set the pace and that I needed to finish the run on my own.  When Eric stopped to wait for Beth at mile 17 I decided to keep going.  I also wanted to see how well I would do if I tried to pick up my pace after running 17 miles.  I was able to do that and finish pretty strong.  According to my Garmin our pace up until that point had been at about the 11:30 mark.  My splits for the last three were 10:14, 10:10 and 10:08.

I considered going for a 6 miler on Sunday just so I could say I ran a marathon over the weekend but my left Achilles was pretty sore when I woke up so I took a rest day.  It's still somewhat sore today so my run will be a very slow 6 miles.

I was able to get some pictures with my phone this week.  If you click on the image you can see it a little larger in a slideshow.

Another shot from the Catoctin Aqueduct. I think this is the best one I've captured here.

The town of Brunswick.

One of the few sections of the tow-path that you are allowed to drive on. Turn left here to go to the Brunwick water treatment plant and also to the Brunswick Family Campground.

The route 17 bridge over the Potomac

This is the 10 mile mark. That small black dot at the far end of the trail is Beth.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

C&O Canal, 20 Miler

I was a little nervous about trying to tackle my first 20 mile run but not as much as some of the other distances I've run.  My confidence is getting stronger and I'm actually starting to feel like I can do this.  The training runs have been hard at times, but the last few have been pretty easy.

I met up with Eric and Beth again for this run and we were also joined by another Steeplechaser named Judy.  While Eric, Beth and I are relative rookies at running long distances, Judy is not.  Judy has competed in a lot of marathons and has also completed several ultra-marathons including one 100 mile trail ultra.  She has also completed an Iron Man Triathlon.  So going for a 20 mile jog on the C&O Canal was not something Judy was intimidated by in the least. :-)

This time we all met at Noland's Ferry and ran south for five miles, then turned around and came back.  The first ten miles went easily and everyone felt good.  We stopped at our cars to shed the top layer of clothing as the temperatures rose, grab a quick drink and some energy gel before heading back out for the 2nd half.  Eric and Beth had 16 miles on their training plans for the day and I knew that they would turn around after 3 miles headed north so I took a couple pictures before we headed back out.

After three miles upstream Eric and Beth turned back to finish their 16 while Judy and I kept going for another two.  Judy was such a good coach!  If I had prayed for the perfect running partner to complete my first twenty miler with, Judy would have been the answer.  We chatted off and on and Judy told me stories about some of the races she's run in and before I knew it we had turned around and twenty miles was in the books.

I'm planning to run another twenty miler this Saturday and then it will be almost time to start my taper.  Next week I'll still run about 30 miles but the long run on Saturday will only be 10 miles.  After that my mileage will go way down until race day on the 18th.

Here are a few pics from Saturday.

The Potomac River as seen from Noland's Ferry.

From Left to Right; Eric, Judy and Beth.

Beth offered to get a shot of me with Eric and Judy. :-)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

C&O Canal 18 Miler

After weeks of running by myself I decided to try running with others so I joined a local running club.  I haven't been able to make it to any of the club sponsored runs because none of the runs they were doing matched up with my training schedule very well.  I decided to just post a message to the club's Facebook page and see if anyone wanted to come with me on one of my long runs at the canal.  I was thrilled when a few people expressed interest and two of them, a couple named Eric and Beth, actually worked it into their schedule to meet up with me Friday afternoon.

We met at Point of Rocks and ran three miles upstream to the Catoctin Aqueduct.  We stopped there for a minute to drink and then turned around and ran back to POR.  Once there Beth cut her speed back quite a bit and Eric and I headed downstream to the Mouth of the Monocacy Aqueduct.  It was really nice having someone to chat with while we ran and Eric was much better at regulating speed than I am which turned out to be a great help.

We messed up our calculations and turned around a half mile too soon so we got back to POR having only run 17 miles.  By then it was really dark and Eric was nursing a sore knee so he decided to stop there rather than risk running in the dark.  I felt really good so I went ahead and ran the last mile by myself.  I felt so good that I was tempted to try for 20 and if it hadn't been so dark I might have given it a go.  In the end, I think it is better to quit feeling like you can do more rather than push yourself to the limit and feel like death.

I snapped a few pictures when I got there but I didn't want to freak Eric and Beth out with picture taking so I put the camera in the car before they arrived.  I think if we meet up again they would be ok with a picture or two.

Monday, February 6, 2012

C&O 16 Miler, the sequel

The weather was nice so back to the canal again for my long run last weekend.  The training plan called for 16 miles again this week.  This time I tried something I had never done before and that was to break the run into two "there and back" runs.  Because the canal is so remote, I don't really like the idea of being 8 miles away from my car.  I always carry my cell phone with me in case of a big emergency, but what if I sprain my ankle or something relatively minor yet disabling?  Since the long runs are all pretty uh.... long, this approach seems like a good move.

I also think I've finally come to grips with the idea of S L O W I N G down on my long runs.  I have been spending a lot of time on the forum at and keep reading the same advice over and over again.
  • Slow down on your long runs. 
  • Long runs are for building endurance not speed.  
  • Work on the endurance first and the speed will come later.  Maybe much later, as in maybe on your second or third (or twenty-first) marathon.  
  • Slow down and get through the long runs without any worry at all about speed. Just get in the miles.

Accepting that I need to run slower and actually running slower turned out to be two different things.  I had to constantly remind myself to slow down.  I even built in one minute walks every 4 miles to drink and take in some energy gel and I still ended up averaging 10:32.  I was trying to keep it between 10:30 and 11:00 so I guess I did OK, but I'm going to try and slow down a little bit more next week.

I parked the car at Noland's Ferry and started off downstream.  This took me just past the substation and almost all the way to Dickerson Park.  The first four miles were a piece of cake.  I turned around and headed back up the trail and started flirting with the idea of extending my run to 18 miles.  The next four back to the car felt really good too and I all but decided that 18 was a good idea.

Then I hit the 12 mile mark and decided I shouldn't push it.  I have a sore glute muscle that the foam roller can't seem to keep calm that was really starting to hurt.  The last thing I need is to be forced to miss my first marathon because of a sore ass!  So I turned and walked for a minute and drank my water and had some Gu.  I ran the last four without much trouble and even managed to kick it up the last 110M or so.

Overall, this run went MUCH better than last week so I'm really happy about that.  I hope the 18 mile run on the schedule for this week goes as well!

Sorry, no pictures this time.  I didn't feel like carrying the camera and I wasn't going to anyplace new anyway.