Twenty-One Miles: Week 11 and 12 In Review

Sooo…where the hell have I been the last week?

While I haven’t been blogging, I have been keeping up my training. Tuesday thru Sunday, I’m up at 0430 for an 0500 workout: Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday at Gold’s Gym for the circuit course (with a fartlek or cross training on Thursdays), and hitting the road Wednesday/Friday/Sunday. The last two Sundays saw me crack the ten-mile barrier in my six month training cycle for the Marine corps Marathon. Ironically, I started this blog as a way of keeping myself honest about doing the workouts and tracking my progress; however, the fatigue from last week’s run and just being lazy the last week have kept me off WordPress. And so, without further ado…let’s talk about those twenty-one miles, shall we?


I got up at 0500 so I could dress and pack for the trip to Arbutus, MD for the Patapsco 5K/10K/10M Trail Run ( Between twenty minutes swapping contact lenses (which are still in my eyes as I type this) and docking around trying to load stuff for my overnight stay, I was amazed that I was only five minutes late taking off. The drive was uneventful, save for pee-breaks at two 7-11 stores enroute to Patapsco Valley State Park. During the drive, I chugged a 200z tumbler of coffee (with extra coffee grounds, due to an misstep with the filter in my coffee maker), 24 oz of Shakeology, and two 20 oz bottles of water. About a quarter-mile out from the park, the local radio played “Sunday Bloody Sunday” by U2. An omen for the day, perhaps?

At just before 0800 I parked and did my preface preps, to include BodyGlide for my chafe-prone areas around my inner thighs, and my first ever application of Skin-So-Soft, the legendary body lotion cum insect repellent used by Marines for years. A fellow retire Marine stopped by to say hello, telling me he had not seen one of my bumper stickers (“And on the Eighth Day, God Created Marines”) since 1978. I chatted him and his wife up before the race and asked him about the Skin-so-Soft legend; he told me had never heard of it, but recommended me to a sporting goods chain that sold some good stuff (REI).

We also discussed the course; he told me that since I was a newbie, I was in for a long day. The course was had many peaks and climbs, and was a very technical run: lots of rocks, embedded and loose, and of all shapes and sizes, as well as plenty of exposed tree branches. I told him of my Skin so Soft, and he warned me of the horseflies and deer ticks in the area. Yep, a long day indeed.

My fellow retired Marine and trail racer was right. This was a VERY TOUGH course, and probably not a beginner’s trail. Now, I picked this race because 1) it fit the mileage criteria, 2) I needed to get out among the “sea of faces” and 3) insert cliche’ here: change of pace, thinking out of the box, trying something new, shaking things up, whatever. I think I hit all of this cliches.

My goal for these longer runs is to try and run the fourteen minute pace needed for the MCM. That idea was quickly deep sized when the route went up this steep uphill road, then turned into the trail itself. The climbs were difficult and potentially dangerous; the aforementioned rocks and branches were everywhere, and on the downhills a wrong step at the wrong time could mean twisted ankles, torn ligaments and shredded legs and knees on the exposed detritus on the trails. Except for one half mile stretch around the 3 mile point, the race was mostly run over the canopy of the forest. Some of the trails also led into some of the streams on the trails; in some of these areas I decided that wet shoes and socks dried faster than ligaments and bones would heal.

My goal from this race shifted from fourteen minute pace to “just finish running.” Around the five and a half mile point of the run, that goal was also scuttled. At that point, I had gone one hill climb to far. I was sure I had burned through my Shakeology, my day-long “cargo-loading”, and whatever liquid stimulants (coffee and Mio energy) were in my body at the start of the race. I starred just fast walking through the course, slowing to a walk when climbing up the nearly never-ending series of hills and climbs. To make matters worse, I spent about a mile-plus with a female racer who had questions about whether or not I/we were on the right path (she was running the 10K). Our question was solved when we got to the 10K/10M direction marker. She took the 10M route, while I continued on the remaining part of the run.

The nice young 10K runner would be the last person I would see running any part of the race until near the end. “Sea of Faces,” indeed.

During my journey, I encountered more than a few trail-riders on mountain bikes and a few hikers. I also discovered that this was also a horse riding trail, courtesy of the piles of horse droppings I encountered. Only two piles, but one was a huge dump covered with the horseflies I was warned about.

For all of the physical challenges, I made the mental effort to keep this a positive experience. In hindsight, this may not necessarily be a benefit for my marathon training, but it DID hit all the cliches that I mentioned earlier. Even as I was shook up about failing my run objectives, I kept remembering that the only person I was racing was myself; I was running for a loftier goal and a bigger payoff besides the nice glass I got for entering the race. I also had an epiphany as to how to handle a long-standing problem at work. I was a rookie trail-runner handling a course way too long and too hard for my skill-set, but end, it was just what I needed. If i could finish this race still standing, there was nothing I couldn’t do on my training.

During the last mile, I ran into two more 10M runners, a female who had been hurt during the final stretch, and another who had caught me and passed me just before we came out of the woods for the last 3/4-mile. I was too-tired for a battle-of-the-sexes, or a “final kick” so I just let her go.

As I Marine Corps- shuffled to the end, I noticed that the finish line clock was still up and running. The only ones left were a gaggle of females. Some were finishers who were just kicking back, and another group were waiting for the female that passed me. I finished in 2 hours, 46 minutes. Fourteen minute pace? Not today, not on this course. Oh, yes, the other young lady did manage to get enough medical help (paramedics were still there, thank God) to complete her run. Unofficially, since I still have my timer on my race bib, I was among the very last to finish the race.

I finished standing up. I won the race against myself.

I talked to one of the race officials after the race, and he told me that that particular run was the most difficult of a five race series that the local/state running group was holding in 2014-15. So there was that. I was grateful that there was still medical support out there, as well as there still being plenty of post race water and snacks. I re-hydrated myself and snagged a can of Coke, but kept off the snacks until i could get to a hotel and do my post-race weigh in and blood sugar test.


In hindsight, I am glad a reserved a hotel room for after the run because I don’t think i would have survived the trip home. During the 10 minute trip to the hotel, I turned the WRONG WAY into an off-ramp! Fortunately, the other drivers had enough room to maneuver around my sorry ass, and I was also able to find a path onto the RIGHT roadway. I am also thankful for not running into John Q Law during that incident.Being pulled over and the resultant conversation would have probably resulted in a hospital stay instead oh finishing my trip to the hotel. I may have been hypoglycemic because my blood sugar was 57 when I finally got to the hotel.

I also weighed in at 238. Nine ponds down, YAAAY!

I celebrated the day with a bath of cold water, then a trip to the nearby Arundel Hills Mall for a takeout dinner to go with viewing Germany-Argentina for the World Cup Final. I discovered a nice grilled chicken restaurant named Nando’s Peri-Peri ( The grilled half-chicken was delicious (and not enough of it), and the roasted corn on the cob and coleslaw were excellent side dishes. Breaking training as it was, the white-chocolate frozen yogurt was worth it. I loved it so much that i went back to Nando’s for their chicken wings.

In the end, I guess it was a pretty big day; I am typing this from memory even though it happened a week ago, and I was simply too tired, full from two helpings of Nando’s, and lazy to post about it last week. That being said, I think I’ll stay away from trail runs for my future marathon training.


Friday was my day off, and my first four-miler of the weekly runs. Both Wednesday and Friday runs went well, despite both of them ending with a looping half-mile climb to finish the run. Mid-morning Friday I remembered to pick up my final project from my ART 1030 class. The stuff was in Waldorf, a forty-five minute trip one way. After making the trip, I broke training and went to Boston market for lunch. Half-chicken, sweet corn, and steamed vegetables. The meal was delicious, but I could have done without the young BM waitress with the snake-bite piercings under her lips. Really, BM? This is how you want your restaurant represented?

Later that day, I went to the newly opened Sonic Drive in because I wanted hot dogs for dinner. This Sonic has been open since Independence Day weekend, and by the looks of things Friday evening, it’s still pretty popular.

It’s also run like a monkey f**ing a football.

I drove up to the store and got an earful of a customer getting into a verbal sparring match with one of the Sonic employees. There was too much car movement in the parking lot/drive thru line to stick around for the exciting conclusion, so I went inside the building and ordered a Foot-long Coney Island, small fries, and a medium cherry limeade. My “dinner” came a half-hour later; my drink was upgraded to a large as an apology for the half-hour wait (but no cherry? WTF?).

Aside from my diabetes and weight, I got another reminder about why I barred fast-food from my diet for this month.


After the ten mile meat-grinder that was the Patapsco run, returning to run the base ten-miler was welcome. It’s a ten-mile loop around the Air Station. The first four miles are from Drill Hall Gymnasium, then Buse/Tate/Shaw to Cedar Point Road. It then runs to the four-mile point before the bridge, where I turned around for my eight mile loop. The four mile point goes into a three mile stretch running along the shoreline to the Chesapeake Bay. The seven mile point is just after the Beach House, and takes the Beach House 3-mile loop back to Drill Hall. Because I was due to run eleven miles today, I ran Buse Road to the 1/2 mile marker and back to Drill Hall for one final loop.

The weather was all gunmetal gray skies, so it was a cool run. There was no real threat of rain, but at the bridge at mile 4.5 I hit a fairly stiff headwind that I had to push through during the Chesapeake Bay part of the run. When I got to mile seven, I slowed up some, then at mile eight I tried to get a second wind at the looped down turn and slight climb around Test Pilot School. Mile Ten was kind of a kicker: I ran through the Drill Hall parking lot and turned into Buse Road, and suddenly hoot the wall. I was out of gas and had to fast-walk (not speed-walk) to the half-mile marker that was to be my final turnaround. As I turned back onto Buse Rd. for the final stretch, I noticed it was a slight slope upward, so I decided to give it one last “finishing kick.” I finished the last mile loop in twelve minutes, even after that little break.

My splits: 3 mi.: 36′. 6 mi.: 1:17′. 9 mi.: 1:58′. 10 mi. 2:13′. End: 2:25′.

I started out at a twelve minute mile pace. I doubt I kept it at fourteen today, but I noticed that it was twenty-one minutes faster than last week’s trail run. Still, there’s plenty of room (and time) for improvement between now and October 26.

Two things I learned this week:

1) After one ten miler through dense forest including horseflies and deer ticks, plus three runs totaling eighteen miles through roads bordered by forest and some marshland, I am happy to report no insect bites or stings in areas where Skin-So-Soft was applied.

The legend lives.

2) Courtesy of my breaking training this weekend, I didn’t lose any weight this week (although my blood sugar is starting to get back under control). Sooo, I have proposed drinking at least 2 20 ounce bottles of water between every meal. I could have used that yesterday instead of giving into hunger pains and scarfing down two hot dogs and eating an hour before dinner was scheduled.

Holy cow, I think I started this around 1030 this morning and it’s almost 1300 (1pm EST).


The U2 track I heard before the Patapsco run…

Been listening to this all week, from Oasis:

From “The Boondock Saints”:

I want a Soul Train line RIGHT. NOW.

…aaand Because Germany 1, Argentina 0 (AET):

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