Yesterday, Sunday July 29th, John and I set out for an 18 mile long run as part of our training for the 2007 Rochester Marathon. We decided to follow Fleet Feet’s 18 Canal Days course. It’s the longest 18 mile course you’ll ever run. We encountered polite people and even polite ducks. Only the “goo mm nn” people could be perceived as impolite.
I had trouble sleeping the night before but forced myself out of bed by 6:15 AM. Like any other morning run I ate a bagel straight away. After that I prepped myself for the day of running. I always prepare my fuel belt the night before and this day was no exception. Somethings, like brushing your teeth and applying sunscreen, can’t be done the night before. If only I could come up with a way for that to work I’d be rich! Anyhow I left the house amidst an awful lot of fog. The fog cleared by the time I reached John’s house.
We arrived at the Fleet Feet Rochester a little before 8 AM. Just as we were about to head out a girl passed by on a bicycle and started chatting with us a bit. It turns out that she was on her way to do a long run as well. After applying sunscreen and strapping on our fuel belt’s we were off.
Right away we knew that we were going to have to drink more than we are accustomed to. It was warm and more notably humid. We were sweating early on.
The course is a nice course. There are nice houses and plenty of green things to look at. There were a lot of people on bicycles as well as people out walking and running. Most people were friendly and would return a chipper “Good Morning!” or “Hello” or a hand wave. Some people, would reluctantly mutter “Goo mm nn.” For some I can’t blame them. They seemed to be in the middle of fast runs and probably didn’t want to have to talk. Other just seemed shy. Eventually we arrived in Fairport where we picked up the canal path. While the clock was still running we utilized the port-a-lets.
We were on the canal path for a very long time. It’s a long distance from Fairport to the Edgewood access. It was my first time running on packed dirt and gravel. When we finally reached paved paths the running felt smooth, a little too smooth. I nearly felt like I would get motion sickness. I was probably lacking enough water at that point that riding a bike down a railroad track would have felt smooth. There were a lot of people on the path. We encountered one runner who struck up a short conversation. He too was running an 18 miler and was hoping to run the Rochester Marathon. He was running faster than us so the conversation was brief. We later passed him while he was resting under a bridge drinking water. He was running a different course than us so he may have reached his “out and back” point. We also encountered some very polite ducks. John fears geese and we thought they were geese at first. When we got closer we saw that they were ducks. I yelled “on your left” and many of them moved for me. Some I nearly stepped on. I didn’t try to but they were hard to get around.
John and I both didn’t bring enough water. We had enough fluids but our sports drinks tasted too salty. We were sweating a lot in the relentless sun along the canal path. We were debating with each other as to whether or not there was a water fountain along the path. Finally we arrived at the fountain. We took a short break (again, with the clock running!) to refill our water bottles and to put our heads under the spigot. And then we were off for the final brutal section of the run.
It seemed like it was taking too long. I knew we weren’t running fast but I found it hard to believe my watch. The sun was relentless and we had a touch time running along Edgewood. At one point I felt like I couldn’t run in a straight line anymore but the feeling passed. Perhaps my third gel pack (consumed at about mile 15) was kicking in.
After 3 hours and 23 minutes we arrived back at Fleet Feet. We couldn’t believe that we had run as slow as the clock said we had. We both agreed that we likely ran farther than 18 miles but also conceded that it was possible that we had really run that slowly.
As we were packing up to leave the same girl that passed on the bike in the morning passed by. Her long run went well. We couldn’t exactly say that our run went well but it wasn’t a failure either. We learned a lot — mostly that we need to bring more water on very long runs.
When I arrived home I ate some carbs and some protein to help my legs recover and to replenish my body’s fuel source. Then, grudgingly, I mowed the lawn. I slept well last night…
John mapped the route on mapmyrun.com and he came up with a distance of 18.86 miles. I mapped the course on the Runners World Training Log and came up with 19 miles. I ended up mapping the route twice (on accident) and both times I came up with exactly 19 miles. Assuming it was 19 miles our pace was about 10:30. 10:30 isn’t bad but it’s not great either. It was a good run because it was challenging.
Next week we will run the Rowe Half + the Rowe Quarter + just a little bit more to get a 20 mile distance. We’ll stash water and other goodies along the way so we don’t run out of water again.