I woke up on Tuesday morning in New Haven Connecticut at 3:45 a.m.  Normally a morning runner, a 6:00 a.m. flight conspired to move our first training run of this Marathon Training cycle to Tuesday afternoon.  I would have to connect in Newark, NJ and then catch a second flight to Philadelphia.

From there a 45 minute car ride would drop me at the University of Delaware and an afternoon of meetings.  Throughout the day my running shoes sat in my carry-on luggage.  Silently, but all the while tormenting me.

Is it time yet?  Can we get out there and get this tempo run in?  We have a Marathon to run in 18 weeks.  Our best ever marathon!  Let’s get out there!

At the end of the work day I was finally able to gear up and get out there.  I had checked with the “locals” and it sounded like the “place to run” was the reservoir in Newark.  A Tuesday tempo workout was on the schedule and even though we were only 36 hours from the finish of the IBM Uptown Classic – I felt like a good hard 6.2 mile run was just what we needed to kick things off properly on the road to Austin.

Being able to mix in new running locations and training grounds is a wonderful gift for this distance runner.  Although there is the occasional stress that accompanies an unfamiliar route or chance of getting lost, the exhilaration of a new course is a “pro” that far outweighs any of the “cons”.

When I heard about a run around the “reservoir” I had a picture in my mind as to what it would be like.  It would certainly be a large circular trail surrounding a flat lake in a low lying area.  There would probably be a downhill stretch leading to the reservoir with the same uphill stretch taking me back to the hotel – but for a tempo Tuesday – it sounded just about perfect.

I banged out of the hotel like a kid on the last day of school.  I had all kinds of energy and was able to click off mile one at 6:52 without even a short warm-up.

At the Papermill Road Stop Light I made my left hand turn as I was instructed and sure enough a long downhill section appeared as I had imagined it.  As I reached the bottom of the hill, I found my right turn and started to head to the reservoir.

Just as I started into mile number two I saw a runner on the horizon ahead to my left.  They were clipping along about ½ mile away, but were high above my line of sight.  When I say high, I mean HIGH.  I turned onto the trail and realized that the reservoir that I was searching for was on top of that hill. 

Five years ago I would have been very discouraged.  I’m not sure that I would have turned around, but I am sure that I would have at least “thought about it”

Instead, I smiled.

10 weeks of hill repeats every Thursday will do that to you I guess.  I hit the trail and started to climb.  148 feet over the next ¾ of a mile, almost as high as a 15-story office building.  At the top of the hill I was rewarded with an incredibly beautiful 1 mile looping trail going around the reservoir.

Newark, DE Reservoir Trail

I glanced down at my GPS watch on the beep for mile two.  6:49 pace up to the top.  It felt awesome.

The run around (twice), down the hill and back to the hotel was a wonderful experience.  I brought the tempo run in right at 42:05 (6:47 pace).  Perfect.

The late afternoon run was a great end to day 1 of Marathon training.

Wednesday morning, less than 12 hours later, I found myself back out on the early morning streets surrounding the University of Delaware campus.  8 Miles were on the schedule at a relaxed pace.

I thought for a moment of exploring another part of the city, but the allure of seeing the sunrise from high atop the reservoir was too strong.  The temperature was about 43 degrees; just cool enough to require a long sleeve technical shirt and light gloves for the first time this year.

I took the pace nice and easy, legs turning comfortably in the 7:30-7:45 min./mile range very close to the pace we will need to run on February 20th to qualify for the 116th running of the Boston Marathon in 2012.

After my first of four loops around the reservoir I noticed a stream of runners joining me.  All dressed similarly in the distance, it looked like a team or group from the University of Delaware.  As they approached I saw the ARMY ROTC insignia on their matching shirts. 

A few good mornings and hellos were exchanged as we passed.  Lap after lap we passed each other, an aging distance runner more than 20 years their senior I was clipping off miles on my “easy” day at a much faster pace.  As I entered into my final one mile loop before heading back to the hotel I noticed that I was once again alone atop the reservoir.

As I looked to the west to see the sunrise breaking through the clouds, I couldn’t help but take in all of the amazing fall colors that were exploding all around me.  Everything was changing from the grass bordering the trail to the tree tops and shrubs 150 feet below.

Another smile crept across my face as I took in all the wonder of the morning and the fact that this not-quite-yet finished marathoner outlasted those “youngins” on their morning PT run.  This was exactly the start of the training cycle I was looking for.

Like anything worth doing I know there will certainly be bumps in the road to Austin.  800 training miles is a long way to go, but if the last 785.8 go anything like the first 14.2, I’m really starting to like our chances.

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Comments
  1. Pamela says:

    There’s nothing more awesome than knowing you’ve still got it. What an inspiring blog you have. I’ve explored some, and you brought a tear to my eye. Good luck to you. Found you on Twitter (@PamelotH)

    • joerunfordom says:

      Hi Pamela – thanks so much for the visit and for the kind words! It’s been quite the journey this year for sure running for Dom and his family – I always thought that I knew what I loved about running and why I did it, how it fit into my life and the lessons I was able to draw from it.

      Then last summer I realized I didn’t have a clue what it was all about. I’m still searching, but I feel with almost every training run or race I’m getting closer to finding the answers.

      Thanks so much for the visit – I’ll be sure to return the favor – great meeting you! Best, J

  2. onelittlejill says:

    You were so close to me Joe!!! I am about 20 minutes from the Phila airport and about an hour and change from Newark 🙂

    About these Phils- I think they will win tonight but I worry about the series…I don’t know Joe, I think they need a miracle here!

    • joerunfordom says:

      Hi Jill! Was great being back in the Delaware Valley, even if it was only for a short trip. No Cheesesteaks, No Tastycakes – behaved myself the whole time …

      They really need to get the series back to Philly. If we win tonight – we have a really good shot – but last night’s loss was a crusher for sure …..

  3. I know the feeling of “I could consider giving up, but I have a smile on my face instead.” I’m going to carry that attitude of your first day of Austin training into the race on Sunday!

    • joerunfordom says:

      AJ – you are going to have a great, great race on Sunday! I am so very much looking forward to that race report. Kick some tail out there! You deserve it! Best to you, J

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