Add one more 20 miler to the count!

After switching my marathon training plan around, I had to run two 20 milers, the last one was scheduled for this weekend.

It was not easy.  First, I got no sleep, because our power flickered a few times, and our AC never turned back on after that (it was a building-wide issue, since the whole building got hot).  I finally fell asleep only to wake up again because my new neighbors thought that yelling “F……..ck! F……ck!” over and over in the middle of the hallway, in front of my door, at 2am was acceptable.  (When I went to complain, the girl, one of my neighbors guests, says “we hadn’t seen each other in 10 years!” — am I old, because I don’t get it:  who the heck has reunions at 2am on a Friday night???)

So my 5am wake up call was tough.  I ended up leaving home late, and since I was planning on parking in Rosslyn, instead of taking up space at the Roosevelt Island for that long, I added another challenge to my morning:  all the garages are closed during that time!  I was willing to pay for parking, but had no option of doing so!  Eventually, I saw Jane walking to the Island, put her in my car and she showed me a free parking lot that was open.

I showed up late to meet the group, but no one seemed too bothered by it.  So off we went, from Roosevelt Island, crossing the Key Bridge, into the C&O Canal, where I ran my last 20 miler.  Of course, the run was bittersweet, the whole time I kept thinking “Karl is supposed to be here with me!” — I bet it’ll even be harder come marathon day.  At least Karl got to catch up on his sleep at home…

I was running 20 miles one way (no out and back, woot!) and planned on walking another 3 miles after that.  Max was going to park at Riley’s Lock, in Maryland, and from there run back to DC.  We were supposed to meet on the trail, I’d get his keys, and would then drive his car back to VA.  Ben, his wife Amy, and Jen (who I met in VA Beach), were going to tag along with me for the 20 miler.

Margaret was also running 20 miles that morning, but she had stuff to do (she’s moving!), so couldn’t go all the way with us, instead, she tagged along for 10 miles, then turned back around.  It was fun to catch up with Margaret, and we ran the first 10 miles together, and I ran back with her until we caught up with Ben, etc, again (they were about half a mile behind us).

The weather had warmed up a lot since last weekend, but it was still a beautiful day for a run.  The C&O Canal Trail looked gorgeous, and I couldn’t help but stop along the way to take pictures…

The sun was out in full force by the time Margaret left, and I was thankful the Canal was mostly shaded — and that we didn’t have to turn around and run facing the sun!

Running 20 miles is never easy.  But views like this does make the time go by faster, no?

I was feeling perfectly fine for the first 10 miles, and was surprised that the thought of not having an “out and back” route didn’t make things harder.  I usually like out-and-backs because it makes me think of the run in segments.  I never start thinking of all that I have to run, but instead I think of each half as one run.  Luckily, I still did ok without having a turn around point, probably because after mile 13, where Karl and I had run to last time, it was all new to me…

You can tell that I’m super tired, sleep deprived, way too pale…  And excuse my eyebrows — a coworker told me they had no shape and I need to grow them out and fix them for the wedding, so growing them out I am…  Add that to my lack of sun lately, and I just look blah.  At least I attempted to fake a smile…  I don’t think I’m fooling anyone!

I definitely want to try to run this again (maybe just not quite 20 miles…) in the fall, when the leaves are changing.  How nice would this look like with leaves in every color?

At this point, still no signs of Max.  I knew he was starting later than us (he’s waaay faster than we are), so I wasn’t too worried.

Look at Amy running and enjoying the view:

I also got to see that humongous bird again!

So we’re at mile 15, running out of water, but we finally get to Great Falls Park.  We can hear the falls, and there are many overlooks, but still no signs of Max, so we don’t get out of the trail.  We pass real bathrooms, take advantage of them, and I refill my water for the second (and last) time, when I get a text from Max “I’m 11 miles in, I should be bumping into you guys soon, right?” — I get worried, we’re 15 miles in, it doesn’t add up.  The trail was empty the whole time, and even when I took pee breaks, there was always someone out on the trail that would have seen Max.  So I call him up, he’s at milepost 34 — we’re at milepost 15.  Uh, he’s running in the wrong direction!  In his defense, he said he ran with the Canal to his left the whole time, but he made a right into the trail from the parking lot, when the map I looked at, he was definitely supposed to be making a left.

I tell him to just do an out-and-back then, and we can all meet up back at his car and drive back together.

We were definitely getting tired, but the views were still gorgeous…

The views started to get boring again, after we were done with Great Falls.  It was all the same, woods and canal.  It’s not that it isn’t nice, but it all looks the same…  But once in a while, we’d get a break from the trees and still see something different.

I hit mile 19, and decided to push it, keeping below a 10:00 pace.  I was successful, but not like on my last 20 miler, when I finished the last mile in 9:09.  (I can’t for the life of me remember what I finished at after all — 9:50, maybe?  I can’t figure out where I put my GPS!)

My main goal was to finish 20 miles in 4 hours, at a 12 min/mile pace (last time I finished in 4:06).  Of course, I paused it for every pee and water refill break…  But I did it:

Super sweaty, tired, hot, but DONE.

So I walked back, and caught Jen finishing her 20 miler!  (Jen is not running Chicago, she’s training for the Marine Corps Marathon, 3 weeks later.)

And guess what?  I ran with those sexy (NOT!) compression socks again!  They worked, so guess how I’m going to look like come marathon day?  Just like this, but maybe with a different top…

I did get a nasty blister on my foot once I got home.  My pinky toe was about a quarter of an inch longer and a bit wider.  The whole thing was a blister!!!  Ew.  So I popped it, and a couple of hours later it was full again.  I must have popped that thing 5 different times!

Anyway, after we were done with our run, we walked back to Ben and Amy and all of us started our “3 mile walk” to the car.  There was still some pretty sights to be seen though…

We were tired, all of us were out of water by then (luckily, my water ended the minute I stopped running, but everyone else ran out mid-run), so we were walking really really slowly.  No, REALLY slowly.  I kept trying to cheer them up “let’s walk faster and not cramp up!” but even I wasn’t too convincing.  Turns out, I forgot I had ran a half mile back with Margaret, so my 3 mile walk, turned out into a 4 mile walk.

About a half mile from where Max had parked, the Canal dried out.  No wonder he ran with the “canal” to his left — he thought the Potomac River was the Canal and went for it!

Saturday, at 12:08pm, I was finally done with my 20 mile run + 4 mile walk.  It “only” took me 5 hours and 18 minutes to complete it.  Not including pee and water breaks, of course…

So can I kick some Chicago’s ass?  Probably not.  Can I finish it though?  No doubt about it.

But I’m really uncertain if I can finish in 5 hours, like I planned to.  Heck, it took me 4 hours to finish 20 miles, and that didn’t include peeing (I hope I don’t have to pee so much in Chicago!).  When I was done with 20 miles, I was DONE.  Sure, I pulled another 4 mile walk out of my ass, but that was walking, not running.

Said that, the weather was in the 80’s and it was humid again.  Who knows how the weather in Chicago will be like?

Have you ever had a run that left you confident you could finish a race, just not confident you’ll be meeting your time goals?  Because this was it for me…

I followed the run with a 60-minute deep tissue massage (after showering, of course).  The woman broke me, I swear.  Ouch.  (But, oh so good!)

By the way, Max ran 25 miles on Saturday, and that was his taper.  What kind of race makes a 25 mile run be a taper?  He’s running a 100 miler on Friday!  Wish him luck!  This is his first 100 miler!!!

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11 Comments

Filed under C&O Canal Trail, Chicago Marathon Training, Marathon Training, Pictures

11 responses to “Add one more 20 miler to the count!

  1. Gorgeous photos…and WOW on the 20 miler! Awesome! So glad to read you had shade. It was blazing hot Saturday. 🙂

    I ended up doing my first ever 13 miler a few weeks before my taper for RNR VA Beach. The time wasn’t pretty, but it gave me huge confidence boost knowing I could finish the half in one piece.

  2. Congrats on another awesome 20 miler! You’ll finish the race strong and I bet Chicago will be more comfortable than DC!

  3. Great job on your second 20! It would be so fun to do a one way 20 miler like that 🙂 And what a gorgeous trail. I am surprised there were not more people on it.

    Ha. Don’t you love those re-occuring blisters? They never go away!

    Go Max with his 25 miles!

    I bet you will meet your goal in Chicago. It will be completely different with the crowd support. Just wait until you see it. It’s insane. Just rows and rows of people and for a lot of the course! And, it will be cooler 🙂

    • YES!!! Cooler! That’s what I want to hear!!

      The trail gets pretty busy near DC and Great Falls (later in the morning, of course), but I guess not so much in the boonies. It was all mansions around us when we drove off, I guess rich people won’t chance getting gravel in their expensive running shoes…

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