I can’t italicize the title? Okay…
I got out of bed exactly twelve hours ago this morning. Contact lenses took only five minutes. Breakfast of yogurt and banana, saving the Snickers bar for just before the run. Lubed with Body Glide and Skin-So-Soft, dressed, and out the door at 0545, about ten minutes later than I wanted.
The drive to Carderock Recreation Area was mostly uneventful, save for one wrong turn that needed a U-turn to correct. Got to the Picnic Pavillion at 0608. Nobody there and all kinds of dark (no moon of any kind this morning). Decided to move to another parking lot,=; got a bathroom break, but no one here either. It took another one more drive and a few minutes walk before I finally found the DC Road Runners’ staging area for the National Capital 20 Mile Run.
Despite my concern, I got plenty of time to stretch out (about 15~20 min.). I also met two former Marines, both of them Casket Bearers who were stationed at Eighth and I Barracks, Washington, DC.
The race promptly started at 0700. I got a couple of pre-race selfies ( “Shall we go out across the Sea of Faces?”-Roger Waters, from Pink Floyd: The Wall), only one of which came out, then quickly activated MapMyRun, and off I went…with about 200 other people.
Just before Mile 3, I had to take a No.1 break. I took a small trail path off the main C&O Towpath trail and received myself. I also confirmed that MMR will pause the workout if it senses you have physically stopped moving (run-in, bike riding, etc.), and it will resume tracking you when you start moving again. Mystery solved.
Apparently there were at least thee other running events on the Chesapeake and Ohio Towpath this morning, because I saw runners wearing different runner’s bibs than the ones for the 20-miler. I also saw a few college women’s cross-country teams, more than a few solitary or group runners, hikers and couples out for a morning’s stroll…and quite a few cyclists. Maybe it’s just me, but I were a more avid bike rider, I would check the schedule and see what event(s) are going on. I would not enjoy having to navigate through the veritable army of runners and walkers on the course this Sunday morning.
I also shared the run with one woman and a man who spent time running the course for a set amount of time, then took about a 30-second walking break. I would catch up to them while they took their walking break, then tok off almost as soon as I drew level with them. More on this later.
Mile 13, enroute to going back up the Towpath, was where things got…interesting. I realized that the final seven miles of the run would be mostly uphill. Nice: another course, one more uphill climb, one more test of character/challenge to the will.
I had to give myself a serious pep talk: It’s all about finishing, don’t worry about the splits/pace, just keep moving, I’m gonna finish today. The pep talk did work for the first three miles of the climb.
Just after Mile 16, the male run-walker I was tracking, and an older married couple caught up to me. Epihany: I’ve been running this whole time, while these guys have taken breaks and now they’re passing me; maybe I should do the same thing?
So, I resolved to not merely walk the final four miles, but i would march them. That’s right, full thirty-inch steps, dig this heels, step off smartly, just like at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego thirty-one years ago. I would march for about a quarter or half a mile, and then suddenly I would get a second wind and start running again.
At Mile 19, MapMyRun announced that I was at 4 hours and seven minutes. Hot damn, I’m gonna make it. I resolved I would finish this race at as much of a run as I could muster. I mentally called a marching cadence, then as soon as I would hit a certain landmark…”Double time…MARCH!” and then settle into a running cadence. I had to mentally sound off “Quick time…MARCH’ because the final mile was pretty steep, and the start-finish line was not as close as I had hoped.
However, the start-finish line finally did come into view. I pulled even with another runner, and decided to join him in crossing the finish line together. As we crossed the arch, I pulled out the smartphone. MMR had me at 19.86 miles, because I started tracking from when I was back of the pack when the race started. After those last seven miles, I said “good enough” and stopped tracking for the day.
Normally road races award finisher’s medals for half-marathon distances or more. DC Road Runners didn’t award any medals for the 20-miler, preferring to spend it on the post race goodies. No medal, but I did get a post race selfie with one of the nicer-looking female volunteers, and took home a bag of bananas with a couple of bagels and peanut butter crackers.
I bough a pair of sweat pants and my compression socks for the post-race could down on the drive home, but i said, “Never mind, let’s just get out of here.” I didn’t verify this, but my pre-run Snickers bar that I never consumed was probably chocolate slag after four-plus hours in a warm car.
Final official time: 4:23.55. Final pace: 13:14, via MapMyRun. No negative splits, but I did manage to keep steady paces going out (about 11:35-ish) and coming back (about 15:10-ish), especially the last seven miles.
Chesapeake and Ohio Towpath: never again.
Song of the Day: John Stewart/”Ticket for the Wind:”
This was the exit song for Smokey and the Bandit Part 3, which focused more on Sheriff Buford T. Justice (rest in peace, Jackie Gleason) and closed out the Smokey franchise. I had this song on my mind during the first half of the race. The song is really about the never-ending pursuit between bandit and lawman, and it put a pretty good bow on the movie series as a whole, even if Smokey III was more risqué’ (raunchy) than the other two movies combined.
With no Burt Reynolds, Jerry Reed got do drive the black and gold-trimmed Pontiac Trans Am. Kind of sad how Gleason, Reed and Reynolds have all passed now; those were good times.
John Stewart:”Gold:” Bonus song, with Stevie Nicks on backing vocals. Kana is the Kana Highway, somewhere in California. No idea why she wasn’t in the video, probably that whole Fleetwood Mac thing?
…aaand Marine Corps running cadences for the dismount. NSFW!