Monday, January 18, 2010

Navigating on the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal

As I posted the other day, today is/was the day when I planned to kill 2 birds with 1 stone: testing my new Petzl headlamp in actual use, and getting in a very necessary 30 mile training run. I planned to run on the C&O Canal towpath (of JFK 50 miler fame), hoping that it would be snow-free from the remnants of about 2 ½ feet of snow the end of December.

Well, life got in the way on Sunday, effectively precluding a 3:30 am departure this morning. So the headlamp test will have to await another day (I’m not worried, it gets dark here in the Keystone state every single day!).

The towpath was 95% snow and ice free, but there were a few stretches where I just had to walk—the path was iced over, and then puddled with water from yesterday’s rain. Not the kind of surface conducive to running!

Critter count consisted of about 6 deer (they bolted quite far ahead of me) and 4 lively and amusing fox squirrels racing up and down a large tree. They’d chase each other up the tree then leap over into another tree hanging over the top of the 50’ cliff beside the towpath. I guess acrophobia is not a concern of squirrels. By the way, the fox squirrel is a larger, tawnier cousin of the familiar eastern gray squirrel.

As for the distance, I had to bail at 25 rather than the planned 30 miles. I was just out of gas. Probably just making excuses here, but I am just getting over bronchitis and am still in the middle of my course of antibiotics. So maybe my overall system is running a bit less efficiently than usual.

I’m not bummed out—I’m pleased with the distance given the situation, so that only leaves me with one long run (i.e., 30 miles) remaining in my prep for the Umstead 100 Miler on 27 March. That’s assuming that enough registered runners drop between now and then so that folks like me—on the waiting list—can be offered a slot. I’m figuring my chances at entry at about 50%, but I need to be ready if I get the call saying I’m in.

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