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18, 20, Taper!

Flatwoods 18
Over two weeks ago, I had decided I wanted to do my 18-miler at Flatwoods. Perhaps it was the previous weekend's tough (and steep) bridge run that had set my mind on the flattest possible terrain. Tim and I had gone to Crossboot the night before, which could have meant heavy legs and sore muscles for the morning's run, so I didn't have high expectations for a stellar run.

The main running trail consists of a paved seven-mile loop plus a few extra miles to get from the two park entrances to the loop. The park also has dirt trails that cut through the wooded areas surrounding the paved trail, but I mainly run on the pavement. The park is actually called "Flatwoods Wilderness Park," and I've heard stories about some such wild things that exist in the woods. I've seen lots of deer--I actually saw three beauties cross in front of me Saturday--otherwise I've only seen snakes, rabbits, squirrels, and birds. But I've been told that eight-foot-tall wild boars live in the woods, and more recently I learned that panthers have been discovered in the park (although that may be outdated information). So the "wilderness" aspect is both interesting and frightening.

We began running at 6:07 a.m., when it was 68 degrees out. After a little more than two miles in, right before we got to the main loop, Tim made a wise decision to discontinue his run because of ongoing knee pain he's had. However, that meant I was running out there alone in the dark, but not for very long, as the sun soon rose. I admit, though, that I kind of enjoyed running by myself, in the dark, cool morning, unsure of what exactly was lurking in the woods around me or what creature might cross out in front of me. But soon enough, all I encountered was other humans, runners. Some of whom I knew.

After I was a little more than halfway around the loop, I decided to detour off the trail to a restroom, a path which also leads to the other park entrance. But then that messed up my mileage a little bit in my head, and I had to reconfigure how to get the right number. It almost worked out, as my plan was to run nine miles in and retrace those nine miles back to my car.

The run didn't exactly go by fast, but it went by without incident, and I surprised myself with my increasingly faster times in my finishing miles.

I was pretty happy with my run and hoped the next weekend's 20-miler would go similarly well.

Davis Islands 20
This would be my only 20-mile run for this training cycle, and I was barely even able to squeeze it in, time wise. I'd never made a proper training plan for myself, but I knew I wanted to have two weekends to taper before the marathon, so that kind of forced the 16-18-20 long-run progression. But I was feeling good and had been extra active due to the time off for holidays. And since the night-before Crossboot class hadn't seemed to affect my 18-miler, I did it again the night before my 20-miler.

This time I'd be running the main DI loop (9.5 mi), plus an extra smaller loop (6.75 mi), plus the distance from and back to home. That would put me somewhere between 20 and 21. I was supposed to look for a friend of a friend, but I didn't see her when I barely made it to the meeting place in time for the Blue Sharks running group to take off, and another running friend who was tentative about showing up didn't make it. So I was alone, once again. And this was okay with me--I could tell it was going to be a more difficult run and that I'd have to just grit my teeth and push through it. Unlike the previous weekend, I was feeling the heaviness and soreness from my Crossboot class the night before. That, coupled with the fact that I didn't have a come-down run from 16 to 18 to 20 just made the run feel burdensome. But I did finish it--even a half mile extra, and my overall time wasn't as awful as it felt (although my splits were all over the place).

And now that that's out of the way, I just have to hang in for less than three weeks now of tapering (I'm off to a great start, as I've already missed a run twice this week), and then the big race on January 19.

Oh, and just as a little cautionary tale, I give you this image of what happened when I went running in the dark, early morning in unknown territory:

Pretty, isn't it? This occurred while on vacation in St. Augustine. I just needed to get six miles in while starting out with Tim while he ran his 20, and about a mile into the run I tripped and fell. I was stunned and knew I'd torn some skin (the gushing blood gave it away), but I otherwise felt okay to keep running, so I did. I took this picture after the blood had been streaming down my legs for the remaining five miles and was already dried. I admit I'm still in pain from it, but still only on the surface. Not to say that losing the skin off your knees isn't supposed to hurt, but I guess I'm just glad I didn't do any worse damage. All for being a klutz. My uncle Randy reminded me that there's nothing wrong with bringing a small flashlight with me when I'm running in the dark. Thanks, Randy. I'll heed your advice next time.


B.o.B. said…
I am so impressed that you are running another marathon so soon. I can't even think about running right now. LOL! Great job on the 18 solo and the 20 on DI. Sorry about those knees. Ouch! HOpefully, I will be running again soon and see you out there.
Lee Davidson said…
You can be impressed after I actually do it ;) I'm hoping for better whether than you had :/ Hope to see you soon!

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