Monday, November 22, 2010

20 on 20

Last weekend I was visiting my ancestral homeland in northeast Ohio and when I'm three weeks out from a marathon and I find myself in the Cleveland area, you know what that means:

TOWPATH TRAIL TWENTY MILER!

Flat as a pancake, no traffic, and with an overabundance of scenery...what could be better?

I was up at 7:00 am Saturday the 20th (hence the title of this post) and on the way to the trail at 7:30. When I arrived shortly before 8:00, there was a scant smattering of cars in the parking lot at the Lock 39 trailhead, which all but assured I would see almost no one else on the path.

Solitude. That's how I roll.

I trotted off at an easy 9:30/mile and allowed my mind and legs to go on autopilot as I listened to my iPod. I kept an eye out for birds and was rewarded with sightings of a red-tailed hawk, a northern flicker, a downy woodpecker, cardinals, chickadees, juncos, blue jays, and mallards. The last time I ran here (March) I saw wood ducks, but no such luck this time.


I turned around ten miles in just after passing the Brandywine ski area in Sagamore Hills. I took a pit stop at mile 11, stripped off my jacket (it was now over 50 degrees) and convinced my weary legs to start moving again. I had nine more miles to cover.

A few weeks ago I trotted fifteen and a half miles and felt hardly a twinge from any body part for the duration of the run. I felt so good I even managed to pull off a couple of sub-9:00 miles at the very end. Not so this time. Everything was protesting loudly, from the balls of my feet to my little toes to my ankles to my calf muscles to my knees to my hips to my back. I forced myself to run four miles straight through to mile 15 whereupon my reward was to walk that entire mile, leaving me with only four miles to finish the run. I made another pit stop at the canal visitor's center with 1.75 miles to go (my GI issues were in rare form that day) and then gritted my teeth and plodded onward. I was so glad to see the information kiosk by the path up to the parking lot come into view. Three and a half hours after I started, it was over. It was the toughest, slowest 20-miler I have ever done, but I got it done.

In less than three weeks I will have to run that far and then 10K more. I am resigned to the fact that this race is going to hurt, and hurt a lot.  This haphazard training season was not to my benefit. However, my body is holding up (mostly) and I am determined to gut this one out. I may have to downshift into a walk/run pattern, which I have never done. So be it. This will be my fifth marathon, and I have nothing to be embarrassed about.

And now, some pictures:

 If you dismantle something historic, you had better make sure you put it back together correctly. There was a construction project taking place at one of the original canal structures, and blocks like this were stacked all over the place, each one marked with chalk.


Left Hand Brewing's Twin SIsters Double IPA. Lunch at the B Spot in Woodmere  before I departed for Michigan on Sunday. I love me some IPAs.

And because there aren't enough cat pictures on the Internet:

Bouhaki helps me fold the Mount Everest of laundry.


Darwin is the perfect lap cat, right down to the question mark tail.

I will be returning to the ancestral homeland with the Engineer for Thanksgiving. A visit to Thirsty Dog Brewing has been placed at the top of my list of Things To Do.
This morning it was unusually warm (58 degrees) and the temperature crept up to 64 by the afternoon. Needless to say, for November in Michigan, it was odd. I took advantage of the balmy conditions and walked to and from my yoga class after work (2 miles round trip). Now, however, I can hear rain pattering on the window next to me and the wind blowing up the driveway. The cold front is moving through. Tomorrow's high will barely reach the low 40s. 

That's the Midwest for you! Summer one day and winter the next.

Weight: holding steady at 181. No loss, but no gain, either, and that's a good thing, especially after a weekend with the family.

3 comments:

MCM Mama said...

Good job gutting out that 20. My legs hurt just thinking about it.

Love me some Left Hand, but I'm a big fan of their milk stout.

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Nitmos said...

I hear so much about the Towpath it makes me want to punch Viper. Don't know why.

The Midwest weather is a fickle bitch.

Xenia said...

LOL at Nitmos.

IMHO, I don't think there's enough pics of cats on the internet. Please keep contributing. :)