Friday, February 10, 2012

This Porridge is Too Boring

Please, sir. I'd like NO more.
If variety is the spice of life, then monotony is the gloppy porridge of the mundane.

Last Saturday, my breakfast club mates and I sat across from one another eagerly gulping at our fresh cups of coffee (our second “warm up” in less than 10 minutes). When the mugs hit the table again, we cast a long stare at one another, the road-worn and weathered faithful we’d become.

Finally someone spoke up. “I can’t do it again?”
“Do what?”
“I can’t do another out and back on the Mt. Vernon trail. Where else can we run next weekend?”

And so the plotting began.

I started experiencing what I’ve come to coin as “route fatigue,” and I define it as the point at which I can no longer mentally wrap my head around covering the same loop, path, or trail without thoughts of leaping in front of a car or throwing myself into the river popping into my head. It is the running equivalent of “Groundhog Day,”(Bing!), only instead of being trapped in Punxsutawney, I am locked in some strange purgatory that stretches from mile post 16 to mile post 5 on the Mt. Vernon Trail.

I think the first symptoms came way back in November after I completed my final 20-miler and headed into taper town. The euphoria of that "good time" faded and left me with this lingering hangover.

That same Saturday, I tried heading north on the trail toward D.C. and cutting over into the city for a few miles. The city miles helped some, but the dread of running past the airport in this interminable stretch of trail that climbs but never really seems to drop, coupled with the throngs of other runners, who for some reason think it’s ok to run four across the trail (can Team in Training work trail etiquette into their training plans, please?), flew around my head like the mosquito you continue to swat at but can’t ever make go away.

Whew. Ok, better now.

I hit this point a couple years ago, when the sidewalks and roads became impassable because the blizzards rolled in one after another like wave sets. I had one four mile loop that I could safely do without slipping or getting swiped by traffic. So whether the calendar called for six miles or 18 miles, I ran it over and over and over and over again, until my nerves frayed…


With my Saturday distance creeping back up again (14 mile cut down run tomorrow), I’m thrilled – and even a little giddy – at the thought of a “new” trail tomorrow. As we hatched our plan, one of the most important factors of course became that the route be near a breakfast place. So, we settled on the W&OD Trail, a 45 mile stretch that features long steady climbs and equal descents from Alexandria, VA to Purcellville, VA.

In the somewhat edited words of Goldilocks, “This porridge is too boring.” Time to spice things up.

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