I chickened out to do my 50+ miles last weekend even though it was a perfect weekend.
I did a long run though – a 7 hour marathon. Yes it was super long. I did not feel motivated to push myself to run faster. I dragged myself out the house in the morning. That’s good in itself.
When I started, I was kind of aiming to run for as long as I could until I drop, maybe to midnight. I checked the weather. It was against me, forecasting that rain in the evening and lasting into the next day. I know I might need 12-13 hours to finish a 50+ miles, and so would be caught in it. Not good.
I was going to try to run a 50 miles any way but only half heartedly. That was the reason the first 27 was so slow. I aimed to save my energy for the second half.
I had no committed plan in mind when I started off. I was smart enough to bring myself a bottle of water and the runner backpack this time. For food, I was expected to stop back at the house from time to time to top off on fruit cups and all other goodies.
My route was going to be a 4 loops of 13 miles around the neighborhood, like many times I did before. However having done that so many times already, it would be a boring run. I decided not thinking about it and just go by feel. I don’t know how to explain this. If I feel good I’d run, if not I quit. Yes, it was a very dangerous thought to have on a long run, because I will likely quoit prematurely.
It took me a while to get going. It was nippy (50-55F) about 10C. Normally cold doesn’t bother me. But recently, 50F was not something I can handle in short sleeves. I put on a second layer with a long sleeves, which was my normal winter run getup when it is 30 F outside. I was feeling wimpy because the cold.
I walked the first few miles to get my core temperature up. Ditched the outer layer. I tied it to my waist.
Through out the run it was like this. It was a combination of walk and run and repeat. Note I normally do not walk on my run.
I stopped by my mom’s place, which was around mile 6. I haven’t seen her for two weeks. Of course we kept our distance and I didn’t go inside the house. She came out with water for me. I didn’t need it because I was carrying my own today.
Normally at this point I would turn around and head back home and then repeat to build up the mileage.
Today I felt a bit wanderlust. I headed away from my house on Stringfellow Rd (weird name) toward the other direction. I was brave enough to cross the divided highway, Lee Jackson Mem Hwy.
I don’t usually go here because it is on the other side of the busy highway. It led to a part of the bike trail that I never ran on but it is considered one of the pride trails of the Fairfax County.
The trail runs along side of the Fairfax County Parkway, which crosses the whole county from the south-eastern end to the north-western end. The road was built recently (about 20 years). Note we rarely laid down a completely new road here. This road was one of the big undertaking.
This road is long. The mile marker where I entered the road was at 26.5. That was maybe little more than half way. I don’t know how long the road is. Maybe 40 miles? (I looked it up 35 miles)
The bike trail is beautiful. The whole trail is wide and mostly rustic feel and plenty room to run. My goal was to run as far as I could. At that time my mind went into full planning mode. I want to run 26 miles before heading back. However, I might likely get caught by the storm later on my way back and I didn’t have my rain jacket with me. I was not willing to rough it out with the element. I also didn’t have my flashlight. The trail has no street lights and is rather remote from residents and markets.
At that point it was around 8 miles into the run. I know the trail has only a few businesses until I get to the city of Reston. To me Reston was very far away. I know how to get there by car but never attempted by running there before. It is crazy to even think about it. I did a quick math. Normally it would take me 25 mins in a car from my house. I decided to run until 3 pm then turn around assuming I might not able to reach Reston at all.
It was noon at the time. I was kind of regretted of not accepting food from my mom when I made a stop at her house. I started to feel hungry.
Fairfax County Parkway is like an interstate, so each exit or cross road is far away. This is good for runners and bikers because we don’t have to stop frequently to cross a road. It is amazing they built skybridges for us on some intersections so we don’t have to navigate through the car traffic.
I kept on trudging. In the end I saw Reston from the distance as it’s skyscrapers and office buildings came into view.
I didn’t get to Reston Town Center, which was about few more miles (three-ish) but I turned off at Target to buy lunch. It was the first store I saw.
After lunch, I decided to turn around. The return trip was pretty boring. I didn’t get caught in the storm. I made a second stop at my mom’s place and she made me a real smoothie of her specialty an avocado smoothie. It was a great boost to my strength. I was at mile 20, generally, hitting my ‘wall’ (my glycogen limit – emptying my energy store). It was 3 pm by then.
However, I was not as tired as in the last marathon but I just was not as motivated to run. I was still on the fence whether to run another 26 miles but internally I was kind of dragging my feet. I knew deep down I didn’t want to do it. So I was mostly walking the last six miles. I hit the wall I think, but it was not that bad. I was just tired and I could feel my feet was not ready to run the diatance. It was like if I push on some more on, my feet would sustain so injury. Having run long enough from experience you could feel it if you are healthy or not, or know if you are tired versus that your body is about to crashed. It was probably at mile 24. I decided I wouldn’t go out for another loop and called it a day.
I was happy with the decision to head home. I was hungry. There was no point to drag out for another 6-7 hours when rain would come and darkness fall. The worse thing is to run when I not feeling it. It would be just miserable out on the road. I will save that 50+ miles for another day.
Final thought? Nothing deep but some observations. I went back to a neighbhood/corporate park I thought was beautiful, however, it didn’t look that pretty on camera. My mood changed too I think. Oh, I came across the sign welcome to Centreville, but my phone was out of battery at the time to take a shot.
Originally, the purpose (a side mission any way) of this run was to shoot photos for one of my earlier race reports. I think though I was at some of the same places as before but it did not evoke the same feeling. They say you can’t step on the same river twice. I ended up not posting those pictures.