Forrest Gump: That day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run. So I ran to the end of the road. And when I got there, I thought maybe I’d run to the end of town. And when I got there, I thought maybe I’d just run across Greenbow County. And I figured, since I run this far, maybe I’d just run across the great state of Alabama. And that’s what I did. I ran clear across Alabama. For no particular reason I just kept on going. I ran clear to the ocean. And when I got there, I figured, since I’d gone this far, I might as well turn around, just keep on going. When I got to another ocean, I figured, since I’d gone this far, I might as well just turn back, keep right on going.
Since Labor Day I have been training for a 5K. This has been such an interesting experience. Training has taught me a lot about things I didn’t know I could learn from running. I am learning mental endurance. I am learning about finding joy in the midst of suffering. I am learning to pace myself. I am learning that I can do a lot more than I thought I could do.
Mostly I run inside on a treadmill. But I am planning to run an actual 5k in 3 weeks so I have started to run outside once a week. The first day I ran outside I took to the W&OD trail which is basically an old railroad track that was paved and people now run, bike, and walk on the trail. According to their web site:
The 100-foot wide Washington and Old Dominion Railroad Regional Park (W&OD) is one of the skinniest parks in the commonwealth of Virginia, but also one of the longest — 45 miles in length. The W&OD takes its name from the railroad whose trains ran along the right-of-way from 1859 until 1968. The entrepreneurs who founded the rail line dreamed of bringing coal and other riches from the Appalachians to the Port of Alexandria, but those dreams were never fully realized. Less than a decade after it was built, the railroad was almost destroyed during the Civil War.
After the war, the railroad was slowly rebuilt and then saw a series of changes of ownership and objectives. The heyday of the W&OD came early in the 20th Century, when it provided service three times daily from Alexandria to Falls Church, Leesburg and Purcellville, with stops at such hamlets as Dunn Loring, Hunter Station and Paeonian Springs.
When the W&OD ceased operations in 1968, the Virginia Electric and Power Company (VEPCO — later Virginia Power, and now Dominion Power) bought the right-of-way for its electric power transmission lines. The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority tried for years to acquire the use of the railroad right-of-way. Agreement was finally reached in 1977 for NVRPA to purchase the right-of-way in stages. The purchase was completed in 1982.
The first segment of the W&OD Trail was opened in 1974 within the City of Falls Church. This portion was built as the result of a special agreement with VEPCO under which the Regional Park Authority was allowed to judge whether a trail of this sort would prove to be popular. It did, and so, after the property was purchased, the trail was built in sections until its completion to Purcellville in 1988. Trail users today may enjoy 45 miles of asphalt trail and 32.5 miles of crushed stone and dirt bridle paths. In 1987, the W&OD was designated a National Recreation Trail by the U.S. Department of the Interior.
For other interesting historical information about the W&OD, including the Railroad during the Civil War, old towns along the Trail, 100 old houses within one block of the Trail, African American sites along the Trail, visit this site.
So the first day that I ran on this trail I was fascinated by the sights. I has programmed a series of 3 minutes songs into a playlist on my iphone and planned to walk for a song then run for a song for three miles. So once the music started playing I took off and found the running easy because I was so distracted by the new sights and sounds and smells of the W&OD. I started at mile marker 11.5. near the Whole Foods in Vienna and I kept going, curious to what nook or cranny I would discover next on the trail, until I hit mile marker 14.5. That was three miles, the most I had ever gone on the treadmill. So then I turned around to come back. What I didn’t expect was HOW STINKING HARD it would be to go back the three miles I had gone out away from my car. So on about mile 4 of the return I realized that I was OUT of gas and had to go another 2 miles to get to my car! I thought I was never gonna make it. I would watch those men riding their bikes with the kid strollers hooked to the back and imagine crawling into one of them and hitching a ride back to the car. Somehow I did make it back, I guess out of sheer will to keep going. I knew if I stopped for a break I would never get back up. So I just kept on going. And I called my friend Monty and I think talking to her helped keep my mind off my jello legs. However, I then became that girl who was on the trail talking on her cell phone. But I didn’t care, it got me back to the car in one piece.
Anyway, I do prefer the treadmill for several reasons, (in addition to the fact that its stationary!) but my favorite part of running on the treadmill is the very end when I get the electronic praise of my machine- GREAT WORKOUT it tells me. I love that the machine tells me I did a good job. I think it says that no matter what but I still enjoy seeing the words, its motivating to me in a weird way.
Now I have gotten in the habit of taking a photo of the screen when it tells me good job. When I snap the shot I also get to see the distance I ran, the time, and the calories burned, so its also a way of tracking my progress without having to keep a journal. Here you can see the progress Ive made over the past couple of weeks:
I am getting close to 4 miles already. I think this is good. If I can do 4 miles on a treadmill I ought to have no trouble doing 3 on pavement when I run my race.
I will be talking more about my training and my motivation, and what I am learning in the weeks to come.
The day I bought my running shoes, the salesman asked me what my goals were for running. I wasnt sure, I actually had not thought of it. I just knew I would start with the 5k and see where that takes me. Maybe I will keep going, maybe not. But I have a feeling I will keep going. At least I hope I do. I would like to run a marathon before we start having kids. Maybe God will let that happen. I say that God will have to let that happen because it will take an act of God for me to learn to keep running more than 47 minutes!