Herons and Mosquitoes and Snakes, Oh My!

Yesterday, Tim and I tackled 17 miles for our long run, which was the longest distance Tim has ever run and one mile short of my longest run ever.  We decided to get out of the city and head to the C&O canal trail for our run. Our training, while going well, is starting to take a bit of a toll.  I’ve had my toe issues (though they seem to be under control now) and Tim has had an achy knee, and we’ve both had other miscellaneous minor aches and pains, so we thought it might be good to leave the asphalt and hills behind and run on a flat, more forgiving surface.

We left the house at 6:30 a.m. and were on the trail by 7:45. I’ve never run anywhere like this before.  The C&O canal runs for 184 miles, between Cumberland, MD and Washington, D.C.  We picked the trail up at Swain’s Lock, near Potomac, MD and ran about 8.5 miles south and then turned around and ran back. The Potomac River is on one side of the trail and the canal on the other, and the trail is very straight, so we could see really far ahead of us as we were running. It almost felt like we were in a tunnel of trees, and we are planning to come back and run here again when the leaves turn color because it will be beautiful.

It was such a peaceful day, and while I do enjoy running in Baltimore, getting out of the city and away from stoplights and traffic and noise was so enjoyable. And because we’ve been running on a lot of hills, running on the flat trail made the run seem almost easy. And we saw a lot of these guys:

The only bad thing about the run is that we didn’t even think to use bug spray and the mosquitoes were out in full force. If we stopped running for even a few seconds – to take a gel or a drink break – they would swarm us.  Amazingly, I seem to have no bites today.

We also saw the craziest thing ever on the second half of our run. We were chugging along and chatting away when a guy passed us on a bike and told us there was a snake about 100 yards ahead on the trail. We thanked him for the warning and slowed down keeping a close eye on the path ahead of us. When we finally spotted the snake, we started to walk around it but we couldn’t figure out exactly what we were seeing. At first, I thought that it was dead and that its head was ripped off or run over (sorry – I know that’s gross). But as we looked closer, we realized that its head was there, and what we saw at the end of it was a squirrel’s tail! The snake was eating a squirrel!  (And already had most of it down). I apologize to the squeamish ones reading this, but it was truly fascinating! We stood there for a couple minutes watching it digest its prey and then got back on our way. I wish we had a camera, but I think I found the kind of snake we saw online today.  It looked like this:

With that excitement out of the way, we concentrated on our last few miles, which got a bit harder as we got tired, but we still felt strong. In fact, our last mile was our fastest one.  We got cleaned up a bit at the car and then headed to IHOP and met Tim’s sister, Lindsay, for breakfast.  And I ate a ton!

The run was a big confidence boost for me. My toe and feet felt fine. I felt strong and I knew that I could have run another three miles, which makes me feel really good about the rest of our training (our longest run will tap out at 20 miles). I feel like we’re in a really good place in our training and I’m pretty confident that we’re both going to make it to the starting line at Philly – and the finish line, of course.  I can’t wait!

Miles run since last post: 42.5; total miles for the year: 546.6.

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