This summer brought lots of great travel, lots of (mostly) great running, and some pretty nice weather for much of the summer here in DC.
After we returned in July, I started training for the 2013 Marine Corps Marathon. The first few weeks were a bit rough as I tried to up my mileage in the midst of a heat wave and a work trip to Forth Worth.
In August, I got into the rhythm and fell in love with marathon training again. I went to Philly one weekend to see friends, and to Portland (Maine) for a work trip. Somehow I have no pictures of Portland. I was kind of underwhelmed by the town, to be honest; I think my expectations were too high, and I’m sure if it had been a trip for pleasure I would have had a different experience.
I am doing Hal Higdon’s Intermediate 2 plan; perhaps it is a bit ambitious for me, but I want a challenge. I like that he has me doing five days a week, and I’ve integrated hill work, pace work, and speedwork into the weekday runs. For some reason, I actually prefer doing hill work to speedwork, but I know I should do both. I really want to break four hours in the marathon, but I have to be realistic that my paces this summer just aren’t predicting that.
I’ve had some amazing runs, like a 17-miler on a cool morning two weeks ago that felt like the easiest thing in the world, and some fantastic mid-week hill workouts. I’ve also had some disappointing runs, like an 18-miler this weekend on a hot, hilly, un-shaded course. I’ve tried to remind myself that some runs are better than others, and not to beat myself up over the bad ones.
I’ve also been living in fear of the recurrence of an injury that could keep me out of the race again. I admit that my hip has been a tad twitchy, so I’ve been stretching and foam rolling constantly, and also doing exercises to strengthen and balance my hips, core, etc. I really like the Nike Training Club app for this, and I also use the Pocket Yoga app sometimes.
I let my pilates, spin and yoga class passes all expire; I know they are good for me, but it’s too much pressure and too exhausting to try to fit in scheduled classes on top of running five days a week and working more than full-time, so I’m happier fitting these things in at home when I can, on my own schedule, and the apps are especially helpful with that. I’m sure I’ll go to a random yoga class here and there over the next two months, but I’d rather do it on a drop-in basis than have a class pass to use up.
Hiking the Billy Goat Trail
I have been so ridiculously excited for this three-day Labor Day weekend, you’d think I had a week off, not just one day. Yesterday, Andy and I decided to rent a car and do fun stuff in the region that’s not easy to do without a car. First up was hiking the Billy Goat Trail, a popular local trail in the Great Falls National Park, located just outside DC on the Potomac. It’s not far at all from the city, and you can actually bike or run there via the C&O Canal; I’m thinking about routing one of the long runs up that way soon.
Anyway, we did Part A of the Billy Goat, which is billed as being difficult and involving lots of scrambling over rocks.Much of the “path” goes along craggy rocks and boulders. It’s not terribly steep, but it’s quite technical so you have to really pay attention to every step. There is one particularly steep section (see below) that requires you to basically crawl up the side of the cliff, but we did it just fine.The views over the water were gorgeous, and it felt amazing to be out in nature, yet so close to the city. However, yesterday was a really hot, humid day, and the path was pretty crowded with other hikers so it didn’t feel that isolated. I really enjoyed this, but I think next time I want to go someplace different. I would rather hike to the top of a mountain in the woods than scramble over rocks.
After the hike, we did several other things that it’s best to do with a car: drive along parts of the Marine Corps Marathon course on the Arlington side (umm, it is hillier than I thought…that scared me), go to the Dogfish Head Alehouse in Falls Church (first Punkin Ale of the season!), and have Vietnamese in Eden Center. We went to Nha Trang, and felt like we really were in another country.
Today, I am enjoying a long, relaxing day of reading and writing at home. I’m sad to see the summer ending, but excited for fall weather, cool mornings, more pumpkin ale, and marathoning!