March 25, 2002

Mmmmm, a lovely weekend!

Friday night, went to the mall to try to find a nice outfit for dinner on Saturday night. No luck. I hate the mall. But whatever, got home, went to bed early, woke up at 5:15 a.m. to go to the north shore to meet Chris for our last long run. Driving to the north shore involves crossing Lake Pontchartrain on the Causeway, a 24 mile long bridge (the longest in the world, or used to be) which can be very dull. Speed limit 55, strictly enforced. No scenery, and when you can see the other side and think you must be only 2 miles from it, there are really eight. It’s really odd, especially when you think in term of running distances. There, laid out ahead of me, is a distance two miles longer than a 10K, but it only looks like a short jaunt. Hmmm. Yeah, we’ll see how that feels this weekend at the Crescent City Classic 10K.

So I meet Chris at our friend Teresa’s sister Larissa’s house at about 6:45 a.m., and we head over to Tammany Trace. After getting turned around a few times, we finally find the place we wanted to start. There’s a parking lot, a caboose turned into a ranger’s office (the trail used to be a railway line), bathrooms, water fountains, even a little playground. And best of all, a very helpful and friendly park ranger.

So at around 7:30 (a bit later than we had hoped) we started out, carrying in our Camelbaks Gatorade, gels, band-aids, ibuprofin, and a lone electrolyte capsule I had left over from the previous long run with Cilla. The trail extended (supposedly) for 10+ miles to the south, and 4.5 miles to the north. We decided to run south first, for 4.5 miles where there was supposed to be another trailhead where we could get water, use the bathroom, stretch, etc. Well, about 3.5 miles out, the trail was interrupted by construction that we could not get around, unfortunately. So we turned around and headed back to where the car was. On the way, we saw a bunny. The Easter bunny, maybe.

Got back to where we started, stretched some, filled up the water, used the restrooms, then headed north on the trail, towards Abita Springs. Abita has a locally famous brewery and we had planned to meet up with Teresa, Larissa, and Rebecca (Chris’s wife) for lunch at their brewpub after the run. It’s a cute little town, and that morning, there was a city-wide garage sale, parts of which were on either side of the trail, which runs right through the middle of town. We had to dodge families and people just standing in the middle of the trail, but that’s okay. We passed by the brewpub, only mildly tempted to stop right then and there for a pint and a burger.

Four and a half miles into this leg of the run, the trail ends. There is a big metal gate that says, “Trail Closed.” Beyond that was a series of tire ruts and a gravel path that Chris insisted we continue on. I didn’t want to, but acquiesed. Until we approached two mean-looking dogs that started barking at us. As a child, I had a irrational terror of dogs, which I’m basically over, but still…running from mean dogs is scary. But we made it back onto the legitimate trail without incident.

Back to the car, a bit over 16 miles into the run. Stopped and stretched, and headed out for the last four miles. Two miles out, two miles in. Actually, because of some extra running we’d done, we only had to do 3.5 more miles. It was getting hot, the sun was directly overhead, so the shade had all but disappeared. Everything felt fine, but weariness was setting in. I was eagerly looking for the last quarter-mile marker, so I could sprint in, so I was happy when Chris spotted it and we picked up the pace. But oh no. That was only the second-to-last quarter mile marker, so we really sprinted in the last half mile. Ah well!

We instituted 2 minute walking breaks every mile, which worked really well. I never got worn out, and thanks to the Camelbak, I never got dehydrated, either. Even with the walking breaks, we averaged an impressive 13:20 pace, with the last mile coming in under 12 minutes, thanks to our sprint.

A fantastic run, and I feel very confident about the marathon now. Another 6.2 miles after what we ran? No problem! It took us 4:30 or so, approximately, so I have complete confidence about finishing in under 6 hours, though of course, my only real goal is to finish.

Rest of the weekend was great…fancy dinner Saturday night, brunch with one of my oldest and dearest friends (back on the North Shore) on Sunday, and an Oscars party on Sunday night. Kristina and I made appetizers and had a few people over. For the first time, I lost the pool! Kristina won by 3 points. If only I hadn’t gone out on a limb and chosen Lord of the Rings for Best Picture. I did guess the most categories, at least. But she got the chocolate bunny we had as a prize.