|Don’t judge his grammar here; he’s not a morning person.
(Also: pork butt.)
One of the perks for locals of running the Parks Half Marathon was historically that the race ended right in downtown Bethesda. You could finish your race and then stroll straight home!
But then they do say all good things must come to an end, and so it was: scarcely a week after I signed up, I received an email that the course had to be changed due to construction work. The start line moved further up the Metro line and the finish, by consequence, bottomed out along Rockville Pike, several miles from Bethesda’s downtown area.
Then, a bonus! A couple weeks before the race we received notice that the closest Metro stop to the finish line, the one everyone expected to use to return to their cars/go home, would be closed that weekend. Options dwindled to either taking a Metro shuttle with the masses or Ubering home.
But there was one more alternative. The finisher area was a mere intersection away from the turnaround point of my usual running trail. From there to my apartment was a little over 3.5 miles. I could finish the half marathon… and run home.
It made sense, really. I mean, I needed to run a 17 miler as part of my marathon training anyway – why not knock out the first 13 miles with the help of aid stations, water stops, and spectators? But I kept the plan mostly to myself; after all, it would all depend on how I felt after the race.
Well, to make a long story short, I felt up to it! I hit the porta potties, bundled my medal and other accoutrements into what approximated a bindle, and I was ready to go.
In solidarity, my friend and fellow runner Sarah came along for the ride (she’s training for the Marine Corps Marathon). This turned out to be fantastic not only because talking to her made the run more fun, but also because I got to try out my hand at being a running coach.
I don’t think Sarah fully realized how hilly the Bethesda Trolley Trail can be when she agreed to go, because she ended up dragging a bit. Thus it became my job to be Very Encouraging! I was Captain Positive Thinking and I’m not afraid to be made fun of for it. Almost to the top of the hill! I said. You’ve now run 15 miles! I said. You’re getting your training out of the way! I said, and while I’m not entirely sure she loved it while it was happening to her, she did send me a text later thanking me for pushing her, so BAM. Coachin.’
As for me, I felt surprisingly good. Mind you, I was not speedy at all; I’d just run a half at a pretty good clip and as I mentioned previously the trail has a few considerable hills. But I didn’t feel spent and my morale was high. I do think I could’ve completed a marathon – not a fast one, mind you, but I could’ve finished!
In fact, when I reached my apartment building, I ran an extra lap around my block to pull out ahead of 4 miles. Seventeen miles done for the day.
Naturally my reward was a waffle at the local diner. For if we do not eat carbs, why do we run?
I’ve now done 15.5 and 17 miles as part of my training cycle. One 20 miler to go and then it’s taper time!
Have you ever tacked additional miles onto a race distance? How did it work out for you?