Got off early from work to head out to RVA to meet up with my typical Wednesday Night Fan Run group for a road run.  Tonight was a little different though, instead of meeting at the standard Monument and Boulevard, we met at Sportsbacker’s Stadium. Sportsbackers was having a fundraiser promoting Give Richmond’s Amazing Raise for local non profits, and they decided to have an open house, inviting local runners from all different running groups.  I got there a little earlier than the typical 6:15pm, and noticed a few of my friends from my Sunday Trail crew.  Most of my Sunday Trail crew are also part of the Marathon Training Team, aka MTT and I do not typically run with them on Wednesdays. I decided not to wait the extra 15 minutes and jumped in with the MTT group. Each of the groups were doing different mileage, I had the choice of running 3, 5, 7, or 9 miles.  I wanted 5 or 7 mile run since I was planning on a 2 hour trail run the very next morning. I caved and ran the 9 mile run along with the rest of my Sunday Trail crew.  The run was relaxing as we kept a conversation pace most of the time.  The loop was cut a little bit short as there was a bike race in one of the local parks, preventing us from going through there. We even took an extra turn around mile 6 or 7 and had to backtrack, putting us closer to our desired milage. The course weaved though neighborhoods in north RVA, taking quick turns and jumping back on roads we had just gotten off of just to make a small square for extra distance. Getting turned around was pretty easy to do, luckily 2 of my friends are MTT coaches and they were pretty handy with following the directions.  Directions for MTT consist of very specific guidelines, explaining which roads to take, where the water stops are and sometimes descriptions of the course roads so nobody would miss the turn. You’re probably asking how we got mixed up then. The bad thing about the directions being so specific is that they are essentially in paragraph form, taking up a whole page.

Under the nickelbridge on Buttermilk side

My directions stayed in my back pocket, as I knew I would be standing still trying to read my paragraph so I knew where to go next. If we got really lost or I pulled away from the group, they were there for backup. Near the end of the run, with about a mile left, it was a straight shot back to the cars, so I cranked up the pace a bit. It felt good, just to let loose and shake things out, but my knees and hips were starting to ache from the road and going slower than I normally would.  We finished back at the stadium around 8. 5 miles, pretty solid for me getting off work and not knowing what kind of mileage I was running.  After getting some water, most of us went upstairs to Sportsbackers for the open house. As I was walking upstairs my thighs reminded me that I have not run roads in about 2 weeks and that they were going to make my long trail the next morning tough.  One of my friends who convinced me to run the 9 miles that night on top of my 2 hour trail run the next morning, laughed at me, and told me my legs will thank me in November when I run my 50 mile ultra.  The idea being that my body will adapt to running with tired legs and be able to still run late in the race.  Upstairs at the open house, we were treated to snacks and post run beer.  Its funny how much post run beer is welcomed, even when your body is really craving nothing but water or gatorade.

Northbank Trail!!

Northbank Trail!!

The next morning waking up was a tad rough, but knowing back to back runs would help with my race in November, I pushed on.  I also wanted to test out how I would carry my water, whether in camelbak device with water on my back or a hand carried bottle.  I decided to use a hand-carried water bottle with the main pocket filled with peanuts and a Gu to represent race day.  The goal for the morning was to complete two North Bank & Buttermilk loops estimating 12-14 miles after completion.  I knew completing the milage would be helpful, but what would count the most would be time of feet. So completing two loops was a must, no matter how slow I went.  After 10 minutes my body felt as if I had already completed one loop and I was already starting to regret my plans.  My left arm was already starting to feel uncomfortable with the water bottle and my legs felt like they were being weighed down.  As I was slowly progressing along the trail all I could think about was “just wait until you come back to this point you would have already completed one loop,” but getting to the second loop was taking forever.  I was able to drink a lot of water to replenish what I lost the night before and keep my bottle filled with water fountains spread around the loops. The first loop I was able to run the whole way, finishing 15 minutes slower than I typically do. I stopped at my car to ditch my shirt and successfully fought the urge to jump in behind the wheel and take off.  This loop was of course more painful than the first and I resorted to hiking a lot of the uphills and random spots along the trail when needed. Nothing else really exciting happened the rest of the trail run, I had to dig deep to finish.  It also helped that the best way back to my car was to complete the loop. Upon finishing I laid out in some shade under a tree staring at an amazing stick Elephant, randomly created near the trailhead. I may have even taken a nap.

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Stick Elephant

I spent the rest of the day doing nothing but eating, hydrating and napping. I did however go see Taking Back Sunday that night at The National. While it was a little rough, standing up for those 3 or 4 hours, the show was amazing.