One measure of endurance for distance running is simply how long you can stay on your feet. (OK, there's an implied "... and maintain forward progress ..." in there too.) For the past few weeks I've been experimenting with that sort of training --- skipping the short jogs and putting in my hours via a single weekend long run. Will this produce good results come autumn? We'll see ... but meanwhile, for the record:

2004-08-14 - Deliberate Pace

21+ miles @ 11+ min/mi

A cloudy, cool day as Hurricane (soon to be Tropical Storm) Charley approaches the area ... I get up at 4:30am, do the family laundry, and by 9:30 have readied myself to set out for an undefined but longish journey, fueled by 7-11 coffee and a lemon poppyseed Clif Bar. A 20 oz. Gatorade, quaffed 15 minutes before departure, provides good pre-hydration. From home I proceed via the Georgetown Branch trail to Ray's Meadow on Rock Creek Trail, which I follow northward to milepost 7 at Ken-Gar. Then it's backtrack along RCT to Cedar Lane and chat with a nice lady at the water fountain about her training strategy. Like me, she believes in relatively few but relatively long jogs (>1 hour each), at a sane pace. She has just finished a 9-miler, along a circuit similar to one of my old favorites involving RCT+CCT/GBT and Wisconsin Avenue.

The feetsies are still feeling good, so I vector west past NIH to Old Georgetown Road and south to Bethesda. Along the Capital Crescent Trail I visit mileposts 3.5-5.5, then reverse course to GBT marker 0.5 and thence home. Lots of other runners greet me (and pass me) on the trails, along with countless cyclists, pram-pushers, dog-walkers, and a few skaters.

My pace is deliberate, deliberately so. After ~9 miles I come up with a new theory: my optimal speed is slower by 1 minute/mile every time distance doubles. Thus if I can comfortably do a 5k at ~9 min/mi, for 10k my rate should be ~10 min/mi, for 20k it's ~11 min/mi, the marathon is ~12 min/mi, etc., etc. More details on this hypothesis another time.

Seven measured miles on RCT average 11:01 each. The penultimate seven along the CCT/GBT come in at 11:20 apiece. At about mile 20 it starts to drizzle and I suddenly feel tired; my final mile comes in at a tortoise-like 13:25. Probably I should have gone a few percent slower for the first half of the jaunt. (Or, since I usually get tired during the last mile no matter how far I'm going, maybe I just need to figure out a way to skip over that final distance, or fool myself into arriving home before I realize it?!) Consumed en route: ~64 oz. water + 1 crunchy peanutbutter Clif Bar.

2004-08-22 - Festina Lente

17 miles @ 11+ min/mi

Venus shines like a brilliant-cut diamond as I leave home shortly before dawn. Sirius twinkles low in the southeast sky, presaging the flooding of the Nile (see DogStarRising). My hope is to walk the first mile but after five minutes my will weakens and I start jogging. In spite of further slow sauntering, mile 1 takes less than 13 minutes. A 20 oz. bottle of Gatorade lasts until downtown Bethesda.

I follow the Georgetown Branch / Capital Crescent Trail through the Dalecarlia Tunnel and arrive at Milepost 6.5 about 7:15am. A colleague training for her first marathon had tentatively planned to meet me there, but there's no sign of her. I do three out-and-back miles, nibbling on a lemon poppyseed Clif Bar as I ping-pong between mile markers 7 and 6. No comrade materializes by 7:50am, so I commence the return journey to Che^z. The slow start (first-half pace 11:30) leaves me with a good energy level and I blast (!) out the final four at 10:35/mile, including a top-speed 9:36 for mile 15.

2004-08-29 - Mad Dog Zimmarathon

26+ miles @ 13.8 min/mi

Home to Lake Needwood and back, via Rock Creek Trail! I carry my wife's digital camera and take pictures of the mileposts along the way, for use on a web page eventually or to add eye candy to my RockCreekTrail GPS coordinate collection. At 6am when I set out the temperature is ~73 F and the relative humidity is almost 100%; at noon as I return the thermometer climbs to ~85 F. Ugh!

A CSX freight train blocks the grade crossing a quarter mile from my house and delays me by ~5 minutes --- a fortunate early reminder to slow down. The 11 measured miles outbound along RCT average 13:32 (including time spent taking photos of mileposts and some bizarre orange "tree-ear" fungi growing on stumps); coming back the mean pace is 13:30 (including time spent changing socks and pouring water over my head at the fountains). I also photograph "Sue's Spot" near RCT Mile 11, the memorial garden for Sue Wen Stottmeister. (We should add something for the late Connie Barton there too. See SueWenRun, 29 May 2002.)

I religiously walk up anything that resembles a hill, and do my best to go slowly, but it's tough to control the pace until near the end when my right foot begins hurting and I get a bit tired. Before starting I have a cup of coffee, a Clif bar, and 20 oz. of Gatorade. Along the way I nibble down ~2.5 Clif bars and drink ~50 oz. of water. I also carry another bottle of Gatorade for the first 7 miles and then hide it behind a tree; during the return trip I retrieve it and chug it.

Obvious lessons learned:

Carry plastic bags
The socks I change into at the 16 mile point are soaking wet, from my sweat and from water spilled on them as I douse my skull. I also could have used a bag or two to keep Paulette's camera safe and dry on the homeward journey.
Get a good waist-pouch
My current one, a gift a few years ago from my brother Keith, is wearing out and can't hold much weight without bouncing uncomfortably as I jog. I sympathize with well-endowed lady runners.
Don't drink too hastily
The Gatorade that I inhale during mile 19 sits heavily in my stomach for the next half hour.
Eat salty food
I survive on my "elvish waybread" diet, but probably could have used extra sodium towards the end.

Overall, a successful experiment in long, slow jogging ... in spite of August heat and humidity. I spy huge numbers of cyclists and runners and walkers, one large deer, many squirrels, and one chipmunk.

Silly question: should this route be called the "Zimarathon", "Zimmarathon", or "Zimmermarathon"? (^_^)

(see also RobertFrostTrail (10 Aug 2004), ... )

TopicRunning - TopicPersonalHistory - TopicRecreation - 2004-08-31

(correlates: DeletedPage, Emily Dickinson, 2004-11-13 - Wonderful Windy Weather, ...)