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Labor Day Weekend

Posted Sep 05 2011 4:00pm
Apologies for not coming up with a more creative post title, but I think my brain is still mush after my long run yesterday. Where to begin?

Saturday was spent in DC. After a quick and easy 3 miler on the Toe Path in the morning (which was absolutely delightful by the way), Mike and I went in search of new bikes. We both have really heavy mountain bikes and are looking to purchase some lightweight hybrids. While I do enjoy my 25 minute walk to work during the weekdays, biking would cut that down to 6 minutes each way, effectively giving me almost 40 extra minutes Monday-Friday. Considering how busy I'm going to be this fall, I'm thinking I could really use the extra time! No luck with the bikes though. We tested a few out at two different shops, but we ultimately decided to do the purchasing in Philly. We have a good idea of what we are looking for now though, so the window shopping wasn't a complete waste. Hopefully we will get to a shop tomorrow!

We spent the rest of the day visiting friends. I finally got to meet my friend Jess' new baby, Raylan! He is only three weeks old and super adorable!

Enter Sunday morning - 6 am and I'm out bed. Water bottle filled, two servings of Sport Beans packed, half a bagel in my stomach, compression socks on, Garmin synced with satellites, and I'm ready to go!

Half asleep but ready to run
For simplicity's sake I decided to go with an out-and-back path as opposed to a loop. I didn't map it until 11 pm Saturday night and I wasn't up for memorizing 20 miles of twists and turns. 10 sounded much easier!

10 miles out and back
The course I mapped had a nice variety of scenery. After leaving Georgetown I headed through part of Rock Creek Park.

About a mile and a half in I realized just how humid it was. Leave it to DC to ruin a perfectly good 75 degree morning with 80% humidity!

Another mile or so later I came upon a tunnel which, having never run this far down the path before and not having looked very carefully at the course I'd mapped, left me very confused. Did I go the wrong way?

Ominous tunnel
Luckily right as I approached the tunnel a path opened up to the left. I still wasn't sure if it was the way I was supposed to go, but it was better than running through a tunnel full of cars!

My next challenge was just getting into a groove. Usually it takes me 1-2 miles during a long run for my legs to feel warmed up. On this particular run, however, it wasn't until mile 5.5 that I started feeling good. 5.5 miles is a long time to wait for your groove, and I half considered cutting the whole run short as I wasn't feeling up to it. The whole way through the park I swear my feet were barely leaving the ground when I moved. Speed wasn't my goal necessarily, but I wasn't planning on being beat by a turtle either. Oh well, what's that saying: slow and steady has enough energy to run away from the serial rapist hiding in the bushes wins the race?

To top it off, after leaving the park I had to contend with a MONSTER hill to get up to Connecticut Avenue. Feeling defeated I even walked some of it.

This picture does not do it justice, but let me tell you it was one, big eff-ing hill!
The groove came (finally!) when I hit the Taft Bridge on Connecticut Ave. It was nice to be out of the park and on the city streets. It was still early so there weren't many people out (except running folk of course!). I stopped on the bridge to eat a pack of Sport Beans before heading on.

Taft Bridge
I made sure to stop by and say good morning to the chief as I headed down to the Mall.

Wake up Obama!

Early Sunday morning quiet
Finally I reached the Mall and proceeded to do my loop before hitting the halfway point. I don't know why I keep running down there whenever I'm in DC. Granted, it was nice this time, but my previous  experiences with it have been so horrible that you'd think I'd learn my lesson. Like I said, it was bearable this time, but I certainly had a bad taste in my mouth about it the whole time.

While I was down there I took some time to take in the art...

Fanny packs are cool and you know it!
...and the monuments. For the record this is supposed to be a picture of me with the Washington Monument in the background. Unfortunately my big head is blocking it. You get the idea though.

Mile 11 and feeling good!
After I hit the turn around I was still feeling pretty good. I stopped around the 2 hour mark to eat my second pack of Sport Beans. On the way back through the city it was mostly uphill, but the incline was pretty gentle. I was also just happy knowing that I wouldn't have to go back up the monster hill on the way back. Instead I got to go down!

For the first time ever on a run, I brought my credit card with me (I had to put something in my awesome fanny pack to justify wearing it!). This ended up being an awesome idea, because I ran out of water around mile 15 and ran into CVS to buy a bottle. I would have been really miserable the last 5 miles without it! What I also should of picked up, however, was a granola bar or something, as I had completely run out of energy by mile 16. My stomach was growling terribly. Note to self: next time bring 3 packs of Sport Beans!

At mile 17 everything started hurting: my feet, my quads, even my butt! As I approached the "one mile" left mark, however, I started feeling the waves of accomplishment come on. I finally hit mile 20 with a half mile left to go before I reached my Mom's house. It was the most blissful half mile ever because I knew that I had already reached my goal and this was just the icing on the cake! I even sprinted (okay, tried to sprint) the last block home before breaking down into tears of personal pride and achievement. Who knew I had any energy left to cry after 20 miles?!

Final stats: 20.56 miles, 3:29:03, 10:10 pace

The big 2-0! (and one sweaty beast of a runner)
Of course, after my celebrating I had to contend with this

Luckily Mom fills the guest bathroom with a Costco-sized bottle of conditioner. It only took me 25 minutes!

Final thoughts on the run
  • The Sport Beans worked great and I didn't have any GI issues! For actual racing, however, I don't see them as a possibility as it takes far too long to eat them. So, the fueling issue still deserves some attention.
  • I am really pleased with my average 10:10 pace. Like I said, I thought I was going turtle-slow, at least until I hit my groove. Frankly I was anticipating a pace with the number 11 at the front of it, so I will happily take a 10! Granted, the point of this run was NOT about speed, but about building endurance. As my body begins to feel more comfortable running 20+ miles, I can start working on the speed part. 
  • No calf muscle pain! In fact, other than some brief soreness in my legs and feet during the last few miles, I have no residual pain! I feel like I could easily run today, but to avoid running 14 days in a row, I'll take the rest day!
  • The "monster" hill is the highlighted section. It qualified for a category 5 climb.
    Post-run Whole Foods sounded like a great idea, but my legs were not up for the 1.5 mile walk, and I thought if I hopped in my car they might seize up with cramps! Instead I opted for some Sweetgreen for a salad. I also sampled their new watermelon lemonade. It hit the spot!

    Post-shower, looking like a normal person again
    I spent the rest of the day doing a little shopping with Mike and watching Sophie try to make this happen:

    Jealous of Chloe's new bed, Sophie tries to make it work for her big butt. No luck!

    The whole Philly fam - Chloe, me, Mike, and a grumpy Sophie
    We ended the day with dinner with Mike's mom and brother before we headed back to Philly.

    All in all, a great weekend!

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