Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Christmas Long Runs: Part I

Hello all! Sorry I have been gone a few days, but you were all probably traveling and enjoying the holiday anyway, so let's face it, you probably weren't glued to your computer like the other 360-some days of the year.

Last week was crazy busy at work. I had a huge workshop to write that I finally finished (and started) over the week. It felt great when I left the office Friday knowing that I had checked something huge off of my to-do list. More reason to celebrate!

The cookie bar at Whole Foods this weekend was also reason to celebrate

On Friday afternoon Mike and I drove down to DC for Christmas. Beyond the usual Christmas festivities, I had two major things on my list: a 24 mile run on Saturday and a 6 mile recovery run Sunday, totaling 30 miles for the weekend.

In theory, I feel really badass doing a 24 mile training run. On the morning of, however, it's basically the last thing I want to do. To tell you the truth, I really despise long training runs. They require a lot of time and effort. Not as much effort as a race when I'd really be pushing the pace, but still, 24 miles is 24 miles. Despite all of that time and effort though, I don't get all of the awesome race bonuses like a crowd cheering me on or a medal at the end. All the more reason to get up early and get it the hell over with.

On Christmas Eve however, my sister wasn't due in at the train station until 11 am and she wanted to run with me. Three hours later, at 2 o'clock, we finally rolled out the door. At that point we had already conceded to only run 21 miles instead of 24 since it mapped out more naturally (only she says...don't worry, I do realize the ridiculousness of that sentence).

It was miraculously 45 degrees out, so I decided to squeeze in one more run in shorts for 2011. Caitlin decided to do the opposite and bundle up.

Notice the halo over my head...ahem, ahem

The only real intention I had for this long run was to do it slowly and just finish it. My 50k is in two weeks. Ideally this long run should have been done last weekend, but my schedule didn't allow for it. My longest run since the marathon at the end of November was 12 miles, so doing 20+ was going to be interesting, but necessary if I wanted to feel comfortable at the race in two weeks.

The 21 miles was divided among two different trails: the Capital Crescent Trail and then, at the 10 mile mark, we would head back south on the Rock Creek Park Trail. On any other 20+ mile run I would have strapped a liter of water to me and stuffed 400 calories worth of fig newtons somewhere in my pockets, but for whatever reason I didn't feel like doing that this time. We headed out the door with no water, two packs of Sport Beans totaling 200 calories for the both of us, our cell phones, and two bagels in each of our stomachs. Andddd GO!

I don't know why only the Cherry flavor was "Extreme," but I will tell you that they were extremely good

The Capital Crescent Trail was mostly a nice bike path on the C&O Canal and then up north into Maryland through the woods. Of course there were a few odd parts...

Scary random tunnel

We did happen upon a few water fountains. Each was a small victory because we did end up getting rather thirsty.

We sang the Rocky song as we approached this one. Success!

The first 10 miles flew by pretty quickly. We walked some of it. I'd say somewhere around .5 miles. Then we got into Rock Creek Park, which was very serene, albeit a little confusing. Some of the roads were closed to bikers and runners, then it would randomly open up again and you'd have to run on the sidewalk or on the actual trail which would diverge away from the road every so often. It was strange.

Rock Creek Park
We walked a little more here because Caitlin's knees were bothering her, but then we realized something rather important: the sun was going down and there are no lights on the Rock Creek Park trails. Oops. I swear this run would not have felt as long if it hadn't been daylight when we left and pitch black when we returned.

We pushed on through the park. I should mention that I did not bring my Garmin on this run (between that, no water, and little food, I'd say this should be called the "Survivor Run"), so we were just estimating how far we'd gone and how much was left to go. I couldn't figure it out by time anymore because we'd walked some and I had no idea what our pace might be. 

Finally we got into some more familiar area in downtown DC and decided to abandon the trail and head up to street level to continue on. At that point the park was just plain scary. We finished the last 3 or so miles weaving through DC streets before we returned home. 

Final Stats: 20.81 miles, ~3:45:00, ~10:48 pace

I forgot to stop the watch a few times when we stopped so I estimated the finish time. We stopped for water 4 times and I ate what probably amounted to one whole pack of Sports Beans by myself. Caitlin ate the rest. It ended up being the most fun I've ever had on a long run, maybe because it felt like an adventure. The company wasn't bad either!

My immediate thoughts when we finished were: That wasn't bad at all. I could probably keep going if I had some more fuel. It's strange to say that those 21 miles were easy. I kind of feel like a jerk to be saying that, but that's how I felt. Yeah they took awhile, but that's exactly what I wanted. I don't expect to run my first ultra all the way through, nor do I expect to finish anywhere near my marathon pace. It's a going to be a whole new ball game. 

I was a little fatigued when we got back so we ordered some organic chinese food, put on Planet Earth and sunk into the couch for the rest of the night. A perfect Christmas Eve!

Stay tuned for Part II of The Christmas Long Runs later this week!

Don't forget to VOTE for me to join Team Refuel! Vote 'Kristin Hoeberlein' once a day now through January 15th!

1 comment:

  1. That's a hardcore long run! Plus great you got to run with your sister :)


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