That meant I had to leave the house about 5:40am...yikes!
I was up early enough - I was in bed before 9pm last night and somehow woke up before my 5:15am alarm. I grabbed a banana and had some instant coffee (our coffee maker is pretty loud and I didn't want to wake the entire house up) and left the house a little late. I got to our meet up spot around 6:07am...luckily HH was still there waiting for me.
We started right away down the tree lined path. The sun still had not come up, so it was quite dark on the trail. The pace seemed a bit quick, but we were still able to converse, so I didn't try to slow us down. As my Garmin chirped out the 1st mile split, my hunch was confirmed - we ran our first mile in 9:54. Wow. I asked, "Are we running 17 miles today?" and said we should likely slow down a bit.
We didn't really slow down too much over the first 4 miles. Splits of 9:54, 10:05, 10:04 and 9:53 - however, my average HR splits were 142, 137, 141 and 144 so I know that I wasn't stressing my body out too much. I guess the trail from Bethesda into the city is a slight downhill, so perhaps that also helped with the speed boost.
We stopped for a restroom break after 4.5 miles at Fletcher's Boathouse. After that we slowed down a bit - all of our splits for the next 5 miles were in the 10:20 to 11:00 range. This part of the run was really cool for me. The trail runs along the C&O Canal and Potomac River - and I ran by many landmarks that I have driven by many times in the years that I have lived here. I ran on the bridge that goes over Canal Road at Arizona Ave, I ran by the Key Bridge, under Whitehurst Freeway, past the outdoor seating at Sequoia's, next to the Watergate Hotel and Kennedy Center and finally up to the Lincoln Memorial. We had run a little over 8.5 miles and now it was time to go back.
We finally slowed down on the way back up to Bethesda. Partially due to the fact that the trail is uphill on the way back, and partially due to the fatigue that starts to set in as the miles pile on. The next few splits were 11:15, 11:13, 11:32, 11:33, 11:52, 11:29 - this is about the pace that I thought we would be running most of the long run. Even better was my average HR for these miles which were all between 147 and 156. Normally by 14 miles into a run my HR is starting to elevate, but today I was fine.
At mile 14, my running partner started to really get tired. She wanted to walk a bit, so we agreed to walk one minute and run six. The last two splits were 12:30 and 12:23.
Final stats - 17.21 miles in 3:09:22. A 11:01/mile pace with an average heart rate of 148.
At the end of the run, my legs were a bit sore, but I felt like I could have continued running. I hope that my long runs continue to feel as good as this! It also did not feel like three hours went by...that's definitely attributable to running with someone else.
Here's the map of this morning's run. I will definitely want to do this one again :-)