Saturday, April 11, 2009


Washington Dulles International Airport
50* with light showers
I will wrap up my 7 day business trip to our nation's capitol with an 8 AM flight home to Florida. The weather I in VA/MD/DC during my visit ranged from 30's early in the week to 60's late. I'm looking forward to sub-tropical mid 80 degree temps of South Florida.
I finished my business late Friday at about 5PM in Clarksburg, MD and then drove 90 minutes back to Dulles, VA to check into the Hampton nearest the airport. Along the way I convinced myself I should run for the third time this week in order to continue to build on my progress. I had run 5 miles on Monday and 7 miles on Wednesday of this week. Upon arriving at the hotel I noticed some joggers on an overpass behind the hotel property. I checked in and inquired about the path and was given a brochure describing the Washington and Old Dominion Trail. The W & OD, as they call it, is an old railroad line that was turned into a paved exercise path for bicycles, walkers, runners, roller blades, dog walkers and even horsemen. It has mile markers every half mile and it runs for 45 miles! I decided I would set a new personal best on this path.
After stretching out in my hotel, I did a light warm-up walk to the trail on ramp and kept walking until I found the first mile marker; 18.5. I started running; heading what I thought was eastbound. The weather was mild, upper 50's at the start, lower 50's after the sun dropped. The trail is very well paved, with a center line dividing two lanes to encourage navigation on foot and bike and reduce the chance of a collision. I found the trail to be very clean and safe. It was also quite popular with the locals. I was carrying my blackberry for music and communication, if needed, and a pint bottle of water for hydration. In the first mile, I went by three teenage boys and one asked me if he could have some water. I gave a sarcastic "nope", mostly ignored them and kept going. No one else bothered me the whole way.
In the second mile I decided this would be a monumental day. I would run 5 miles in one direction, giving myself no choice but to turn around and head another 5 miles back to the hotel. I knew it would be dark on the way back and, despite the fact the trail was unlit, I felt comfortable with the surroundings.
I would save my water until the halfway mark, knowing I would need it most on the back half. In addition to the mileage challenge, the trail itself was unprecedented for my skill level with it's hills and bridges. This was going to be a real test of how well I have trained over the past six months. In the fourth mile I took a phone call on my blackberry. My friend Gary, in Cottonwood, Arizona asked if he should call me later but I told him it was good for my breathing to carry on a light conversation. Gary and I were officers together on the PD in Cottonwood in the mid 90's. He was calling to share that he was finally being promoted to Lieutenant. Congrats, buddy!
At mile marker 13.5 I reached my halfway point. I was happy to open my water bottle and walk a few steps to take a couple of sips. Not too much, this had to last me another 5 miles. I took on more water after six and a half miles. It was getting pretty dark now but I noticed a definite incline in the trail. Funny, I didn't remember getting the benefit of this downhill coming the other way? I began to wonder if I chose the wrong direction at the start, as far as level of difficulty, but I was sure the whole 45 mile W & OD trail had it's share of ups and downs.
After seven and half miles I got a rush of energy, knowing that everything after this point was going to be a new personal best for me. This didn't last too long because at mile 8 I was starting to wear down. When I slowed to drink some water it was tough to get going again. But I did. There was no way I was quitting now.
At mile 9 I passed those 3 punks I'd seen earlier, hanging out on a bench, one saying something about me as the others laughed but I wasn't distracted. Mentally, I prepared to do battle with them if it came to it but thankfully, they stayed put as I passed. One last look back at them and wow, it's really dark now. I can't see them. I picked up some speed to increase the distance and realized I was more than 90% through. As I passed the mile marker 18, with a half mile to go, I started smiling. I also began thinking about what would be next for me.
I have the Corporate 5K in Miami on April 30 but some of my online running friends are meeting in Cleveland on May 18 for the Cleveland Marathon and Half Marathon. The training plan for a half marathon gets you to the 10 mile mark in training and figures you can get three more out of race day adrenaline. I would have 5 more weeks to train for Cleveland. I am really leaning toward doing it.
Well I did it. My first ever 10 mile run. I pretty much limped my way back to the hotel but smiling the whole way. I showered and had a late dinner at TGI Fridays and hit the sack at 11:30 PM with a 5 AM wake up call.
I'm looking forward to getting home, seeing my honey and getting some rest. This has been a very long, but rewarding, week.

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