Wednesday, May 11, 2005
by Sean Lloyd at 9:18 PM
Brooks has a great running cartoon with a great song. There's something catchy about a guy that looks so happy throughout his entire life. I can only hope things turn out like that for me. Definitely a great pick-me-up. (Thanks Brent!)
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
by Sean Lloyd at 4:21 PM
I hit the trails for the first time ever on a bike with my friends, Trevor and Alan, on Saturday. It was fantastic, except for the considerable hangover we were recovering from. (Too much to do, too little time.) I bought a helmet last week. Now I think it's high time for me to buy a bike. It will be a welcome addition and a diversion from the "routine," or running rut I sometimes get in.
My heels are doing much better. The blisters-turned-scabs on my left heel are still healing. I'm hopeful that I'll be out on the roads again sometime this week.
Oh, and I got a great ab workout in a canoe trip we took after biking. I had to sit in the middle of the canoe, paddleless atop the beer cooler. If I moved half an inch, the boat would threaten to capsize. To keep the precarious balance, my abs had to do a fair amount of work.
Friday, May 06, 2005
by Sean Lloyd at 9:26 PM
I'm still scratching my head in amazement. Two years ago I started this running blog and I'm still at it. I'm happy to say that blogging and running have become serious addictions for me. Many thanks to all of you for helping me keep up my interest in both.
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
by Sean Lloyd at 7:50 PM
We walked up a steep concrete drive away from the Potomac River. A man sat at the top of some stairs with a peaceful look on his face, almost smiling. He, too, just dropped out.
The day started off well enough. Dave and I woke up about 12:30 am, headed to Brian's house so he could drop us off at the Thompson Boat Center parking lot in Georgetown (Washington, DC). We arrived about 2:15, checked in, then walked underneath an overpass to stay out of the rain. At 2:45, everyone rejoined in the parking lot to hear last minute instructions. At 3:00, without fanfare, the race began. It didn't seem like we were off to hike 62 miles, especially when some folks started off at an unbelievable pace.
It's hard to say why we picked a 100k one day hike. Partly because it sounded insane. Partly because we enjoyed the 42 mile Maryland Challenge so much last summer. Partly because this was just something else to try. And yet we took this event more seriously than the 42-miler. We were in better shape. The weekend before felt, with 26 miles hiked over two days, felt like nothing. I was fully recovered the next day.
Hiking along the C&O Canal towpath out of the nation's capital in the middle of the night with a slow but steady rainfall felt fantastic at first. Under the cover of the clouded night sky, we were on a mission no one could see and few new about. Even the fish seemed surprised, occasionally flopping in the canal to our amazement. As we exited the city lights, the air became hypnotically quiet, dank, and dark. I nearly fell asleep several times before the sun started rising. When we could see again we, for the first time in hours, became aware of other hikers gaining on us. Amazingly, we could see no one in front.
Not long after that realization, everything blurred. The sun brought us in stark relief the true boredom that accompanies the towpath. On the right, the canal. On the left, the Potomac River. Ahead and behind, a long flat trail as far as the fog would let you see. Any questions?
The scenery changed little, though passing Great Falls was a treat (if we had time to spare to stop and actually see it). The locks were interesting, as were the houses accompanying them. The flowers and flowering trees were also pleasant. But the long , unwinding, unyieldingly flat trail was not.
By the first aid station, circa milepost 12, I already need to start taking care of my blisters. The hiking boots were not an ideal choice, but I figured they were waterproof and my running shoes were not. I chose dry feet over comfortable feet with the constant rain foiling us. This turned out to be a mistake. By the breakfast station, circa milepost 22, I was sitting in a chair with a kindly volunteer trying her best to figure out how to approach a lowline blister that ran along the base of my ankle, right above my calloused heel. This was the beginning of the end.
As I limped of, feeling the blisters squeeze hot, acidic liquids over my heel with such a burn, my pace slowed to not BLISTERING, but merely blistering. With the two-mile limp, my hamstring took the brunt of the awkward gait and began to tighten. By the aid station at milepost 30, I was all but done. My feet were in unbelievable pain, my pace was slowing to the point where I knew I would not beat the cutoff time. And I still had halfway to go. At Edwards Ferry, I told Dave I was probably done, but I'd slug out the next 4.7 miles to the lunch station at White's Ferry where I had a better chance of finding a ride. Dave surged ahead with a couple other hikers.
It was a long 4.7 miles.
With a little over one mile to go, I saw Dave sitting at the trail's side. He, too, hit a wall. Together we would limp to our premature finish line. Never was I so disappointed in an outcome. Never was I so happy to be done. And DAMN did those volunteers look like the friendliest bunch of people I'd ever seen in my entire life. They fixed us up with a sandwich, Gatorade, and moleskin before packing up and moving on to Harper's Ferry.
Dave and I hobbled over to the ferry's convenience store, sat down, and tried calling for someone to come and pick us up (something we hadn't exactly planned for). We talked to a couple ladies that worked at the store. They brought us a couple beers, which we hurried down before the short, but very slow, walk down to the ferry itself. We ran into the other guy, as happy as we were to be done with it all. Then Brian, trusty Brian, showed up to take our sorry selves back to my car.
The day was done and there will be plenty of time to think about what went wrong. All I have to say is flatland hiking is a lot harder than it seems. It pounds the same muscles over and over, hits the same sore spots on your feet over and over. Hiking up and down hills allows for some muscles to recover while others rest. Not so on the C&O Canal towpath. I will say my legs feel great today, but my feet still look like a cheese grater to them. I will never wear hiking boots on that kind of hike again ... ever.
All in all, we finished 36.5 miles out of 62. Not bad for a day's work, but not good enough for a t-shirt.