One of the few things I can say I really enjoy about long runs (besides the unabashed joy of being finished with one), is the excuse to take running field trips. When we were training for my first marathon 3 years ago, we took all kinds of field trips to run...to the Mt. Vernon Trail in Virginia, to the NCR trail North of Baltimore, and others. Since I moved to Annapolis, I've always wanted to go on a longish run through DC. When I first thought about running in DC, I was thinking 5 miles or so around the Mall. But, you know, 19 worked for me too! Why run 19 miles on a trail we know or around Annapolis, when it can be a fun adventure in DC!
I have to be honest, I was a little nervous about whether or not I would be able to finish this run. It was our first of 3 major back-to-back weekends in preparation for Goofy. With the route I mapped, we had no real bail-out places since we had no car...only cell phones for communication and Metro Stations here and there. On Saturday, we had run the Cold Turkey 10K course with the 10K class as a race preview, and then tacked on 3 extra to make our goal of 9 miles. The course is very hilly, and I actually could feel it a bit after 9 miles. Not a good plan the day before a 19 mile run! I was busy the rest of the day on Saturday, and we even had a concert Saturday evening with a lot of standing! Luckily, my training partner enjoyes sleeping in, too, so we set out from Annapolis at 10AM and caught the Metro into DC.
We started off at the Smithsonian Metro on the Mall right in front of the Washington Monument. After a potty break, we got started and went past the monument, down the reflecting pool, past the Lincoln Memorial, and over the Memorial Bridge. It was a beautiful day...few clouds, pretty sun, but it was around 67, which was a bit hot for a long run. We managed ok, though. Once we got to the other side of the Potomac, we picked up the Mt. Vernon Trail which runs along the water with great views of DC. The trail goes through Gravelly Park just north of the airport, which is a great place to watch planes land and take off from DCA. We turned around just before the ariport and headed back towards DC. At Mile 8 of our run, we turned off the trail and headed over to Roosevelt Island. We carried our water bottles with us, and I had read that the island trails had water fountains, so we could refill there. Unfortunately, they were apparently turned off for the winter! Rats...on a warm day, I knew it would be a thirsty time until we could get to a populated area and find a convenience store!
The island was really pretty...fallen leaves, water, and even some ducks! Once we got back on the Mt. Vernon Trail, it was up, up and up again before we hit the Key Bridge. This was about 10 miles into the run. We turned down M St in Georgetown and the first place we found for water was Dean and Deluca. At this point, I was really thirsty! We split a giant bottle of water into our smaller bottles, and headed back off down M. I would not recommend M St in Georgetown on a pretty day...the shops were all open and tons of people were ambling down the street. Not conducive to a run! We turned off down Wisconsin and headed toward the water again to pick up the Rock Creek trails. This took us along the river by the Kennedy Center, and back up to Memorial Bridge, where there was no crosswalk! We back-tracked over to the Lincoln and managed to pick the trail back up on the other side. From this point on, I was really glad that my training partner had printed a map of our route! I think we pulled it out every half mile or so after this point...we were at about 13 miles.
We circled the Tidal Basin and went by the Jefferson Memorial, and up 15th st back to the Mall. There was a lot of people-dodging going on again because of the crowds (likely due to the pretty day). We also hit a lot of lights which slowed us down. By the time we got to the Capitol, we were at about 15 miles. I have to admit, we walked up Capitol Hill. There was just no way my legs were going to carry me up that hill running...after 15 miles of hills behind them! Luckily, Disney is pretty flat, so we didn't need the hill training! After getting up the Hill, we headed down Pennsylvania to the Eastern Market area, turned down 8th to East Capitol, and headed back towards the Capitol and the Mall. At this point, I was very much ready to be done! Running down Capitol Hill hurt almost as much as walking up it! We finally hit 19 on the Mall, headed back to where we started! We both downed Gatorades we bought at one of the street vendors, stretched, and got back on the Metro in search of food!
All in all, it was a good run! Especially since I was able to finish the back-to-back days! I was tired that night, but not too sore on Monday, which is a good sign!
This weekend/week is an "off" weekend in terms of long runs, so we have 5 tonight at the Community College, I'll get 5 in at some point on Saturday, and then we are running the Cold Turkey 10K on Sunday. We need to get 12 miles total in on Sunday, so I think we'll just go out and run the hilly race course again. Slowly!