This morning, George and I decided to take a break from the usual run with the Galloway group run, and do today's scheduled 16-miler on our own. Actually, George hadn't ever planned on running 16 miles, but he decided yesterday that he'd run it with me, since I'd decided to strike out on my own this morning.
I decided I wanted to run on the American Tobacco Trail once again, but from the opposite end (of the Durham section) from where I usually start, near the Durham Bulls (local minor league baseball team--ever seen the movie "Bull Durham?") Stadium (they have a newer stadium, but the one in the movie has been renovated--yay!) and the American Tobacco Campus. I have to tell ya, it was a charmed run, even though my pace was slower than usual. (I know, I know, I've been complaining about my speed, BUT it was a nice run, nonetheless!)
We started the run about 5:35 AM, and it was still dark on the trail, which goes through some wooded areas (mostly) as well as behind some neighborhoods. As we started, it was a little creepy, so I was glad George was with me. It was another hour or so before we started having company on the trail, then it really got packed.
After walking as a warm-up for the first mile, we started our 1:1 run/walk cycles. While it was still dark, it felt like we were running through some cobwebs we couldn't see (which added to the creepiness we felt earlier)! Weird. Once the sun started to come up, we could tell it was an overcast morning, which was nice! On the first half of the run, we saw THREE rabbits, two together, then another one. We also saw a number of squirrels and birds, and heard a symphony of wildlife in the woods for a large portion of the morning. On a couple of occasions, I got chill bumps listening to the sounds around me on the ATT! George and I both took our iPods on this run, but never used them. (I'm glad!)
We made one pit stop at the Solite Park restrooms (a little smelly, but nice timing), then headed for the end of that segment of the American Tobacco Trail. There's a strip mall there, with a McDonald's in the parking lot, so we were aiming for that all along. After running 8 miles, we made a pit/refreshment stop there, which worked out really well, and then struck out again to complete the remaining 8 miles. Because the ATT in that area is 6.6 miles one way, we took a couple of detours along the way to make sure we got in the full 16 in one roundtrip.
George was such good company on this run. Toward the end, he made me start repeating mantras out loud, which felt silly at first, but it helped more then I expected! Even though he's a new runner (and maybe because he's a new runner), it was nice to continue discussing some of my recent frustrations about running--while running! I think that running this distance with me (a new personal distance for BOTH of us!) gave him a clearer perspective of what I've been going through.
Having George with me helped me to keep the 1:1 run/walk ratio going today, even when I got tired, and this was great mental as well as physical training. Once, toward the end, we walked two minutes in a row, but then started up again, and actually run the last quarter mile to the end of the trail without a walk break. More good mental training for pushing myself at the end of a run. I was surprised I still had gas in the tank to do that!
We ended up finishing the 16 mile run/walk in 5:05:36. About as slow as molasses, yes, but a good training run/walk, nonetheless. I'm feeling exhausted and rejuvenated, all rolled up in one! (Does that make sense?!)
Meanwhile, I've really appreciated recent comments here, as well as some helpful email advice from Christina. I'm looking forward to the challenge of fine-tuning my marathon training schedule. The running community (both virtual and in-person) is amazing, isn't it?!