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Jacksonville, FL, United States
In Life as well as in running the secret is Pace.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

marking an item off my bucket list


With RATS looming on the horizon like a midsummer late afternoon thunderstorm… and a self diagnosis of Achilles tendonitis… I knew that I needed training… and I knew that I needed to be careful and not do anything stupid.

I had an idea…

My injury research had told me that I needed to run on firm even terrain.. and to avoid sidewalks…. I knew of just the place.

The Jacksonville-Baldwin Rail Trail

It’s paved asphalt flat… not even a crown to speak of… this idea led me to another idea I’d often had on my numerous trips back and forth on this trail on a bike… I’d even said aloud before… “I’d like to run this one day… not just part of it… but the whole thing”

I had some new gear to try out

in no time flat my pea brain put it all together….

And that, my friends is how an idea becomes a plan.

So… I found myself at the trailhead… just past dawn on Saturday morning. With my bladder full… (the Nathan one) a pack full of snax.. Ritz Bits, Uncrustable, gel flask, phone, keys etc…

I felt pretty much ready to go.

Now this was not my 1st outing with the Nathan… oh no… I’m not that stupid.. I’d run 5 the day before as a test. And after fiddling and fumbling with the straps I thought I’d gotten the fit pretty much right

The first few miles were pretty good… trying to go easy… knowing that it would be a long day… and yes, kids… adjusting my pack. I saw a raccoon… The restroom at mile 6 seemed perfectly placed.

It was interesting to take in the trail at a running pace vs a cycling one… I had a lot more time to check out the sides of the trail… and notice many side trails that I wondered where they went….

Around mile 10 my Achilles started to complain… just the right one… and just a little. My spirits were buoyed quickly thereafter when I passed the Baldwin rail station… and I knew that I only had a couple of miles to go until the end.

Not that I really needed a boost… the thought of not running all the way to the end… and back again was never considered… this is not necessarily a good trait. It has been pointed out to me as a weakness before… that I tend to follow through with things… to the bitter end… even if in so doing more harm than good is done…

Okay enough of the self psychoanalysis… I did get a bit jolly at the far end… opened a pack of Ritz bits in celebration but did not stick around… I just started shuffling back… 14.5 miles down and 14.5 to go.

On the return trip the mile markers were a countdown since all mileage is measured from the eastern end of the trail. That is really a good thing…. Because… I’m like an acrophobic in a multi storied building… once I get up to the high numbers I’d rather not know.

At around 9 to go I happened upon a couple of hikers resting beside the road… I’d seen them before… about a mile before the turnaround… at the time I thought them to be adults… but upon meeting them again I figured late high school early college age… One asked me how far I’d run… I answered 21.8 miles… the other dude was impressed… the one that asked me the question as much as called me a liar.

Well… I’d been thinking of taking an extended walk break… as my Achilles were both in high alert pain mode but… as I was one part pissed at being doubted by the punk… and one part buoyed by the other’s admiration I decided to run on.

I sang a lot… and since I had my headphones on and didn’t much care when passing cyclists laughed at me for doing so… I walked to ease the main in my legs… then ran faster since that hurt less as well… I wanted to break 6 hours… why? I don’t know… my pace had been painfully slow but… I had a goal… and something to focus on.

With about 3 miles to go I got passed by a cyclist I’d seen a few times already… he must have done 2 or more loops out there… he slowed down… told me good job and left with a thumbs up… simple thing but it made me feel a bit better as I soldiered to the finish.

As the trailhead came into view I felt a surge of emotion… nobody was there to hand me a medal… or a mug even… but I’d done something… proven something to myself… marked an item off my bucket list that few would know about and fewer would understand. My finish time was 5:57… three minutes to spare.


Shelley said...


Lesser is More said...

Nicely done! As much as I love covering a ton of ground on a bike, there is something about the pace of running that you get to see so much more, yet still cover a lot. Whenever I see trails that go off into the distance, I make it my mission to come back another time and find out where they go. Just another fun way to keep on running...

Anonymous said...

WoW!!! Great job!

Regina said...

That is awesome!!! Well done! I have been fantasizing about doing the Croton Aqueduct Trail here in NY. It is a long 26.2 (marathon coincidence?) trail running from upstate to NYC. I swear I will do it one day even if in bits. I'm thinking in the fall when I get my mileage up (only at about 13 miles). There is something so alluring about running trails, some kind of adventure.

I hope your Achilles heals up quick!!