Last year was the first year the weather had cooperated enough to follow though on an idea my friend Dave and I had been kicking around for a couple years: a long run home from the office on Thanksgiving Eve.
This year we once again had great weather for it. No snow on the trails, and around 40° fahrenheit at noon to start things off. I was solo again this year but learned some lessons from last year that worked out really well.
Dyslexic Graffiti and Other Points of Interest
Hey, I at least appreciated their intent more than the large number of swastikas with pro-Trump messages all over the bridges this year.
This was the first time I had been by the fairly recent paintball range along the rail trail while it was in use.
How can you not stop to take a picture of so many ducks?
Gear and Changes This Year
I stuck with the things that worked well last year, with a couple of tweaks.
For clothing I went with shorts and a long sleeve orange (it's hunting season, after all) tech shirt, along with some light weight Nike gloves like I had last year. This ended up keeping me a really good temperature, though I did get pretty cold when I stopped for 5 minutes to eat about halfway home.
For hydration I wore the same Nathan VaporAir hydration pack - it's comfortable with no bounce, and holds everything I need. While I had some water in the bladder of the pack, one change I made this year was putting a bottle in one of the front pockets of the vest, filled with Powerade for something extra.
One of the biggest changes I made was food - I'm not used to a long run mid day like that, and last year I was starving 10 miles from home. This year I had a second breakfast around 10:30am so that I had something more in me without eating too close to starting to get cramps. I also brought with me 1 Stinger Waffle, a pack of Clif Margarita Shot Bloks, and a Clif Banana Beet with Ginger food squeeze. That all worked really well, having the waffle at mile 7, the squeeze at mile 12, and the shot bloks during the last 7 miles, and I never was really too hungry.
For shoes I wore my Altra Olympus 2.0 shoes, which were great as always. I did retie them when I put them on rather than just slipping them on, as I've found they get a little looser over time doing that and on long runs it allows my foot to slide just a little forward and backward, and can beat up my toes bumping at the front of the shoe. That didn't happen today.
Something new in the mix was just due to timing - I backed ELWN Fit True Wireless Earbuds on Kickstarter over the summer, and they arrived earlier this week. I had tried them out a little around the house, but figured this would be a good test for them.
They come with a dizzying array of hooks, wings, and ear cushions to find exactly the fit you need. In the morning before this run I swapped them to small behind-the-ear hooks, and tapered ribbed flanges for the ear cushions. I kept them in my pack until I stopped to eat at mile 12. With the city behind me and past the tunnels on the trail, it gets a little quieter where I wasn't worried about needing to hear things around me, and also the trail gets a little less engaging so some music seemed like a good idea until I got home.
The fit on them while running was great - zero movement - and my sunglasses didn't cause any problems with them. The advantage they have over other bluetooth earbuds I've tried is that they are entirely wireless. There's no wire running between the two of them, which on other products often sticks to my neck or just provides enough resistance between the earbuds that turning my head shifts them around in my ears or even pulls them out. That was not the case with these obviously, the only noticeable change with moving my head was if I fully looked over my shoulder I would be blocking the signal with my head between the earbud and my phone, and the audio would cut out slightly - but would return as soon as I looked ahead again.
This year was a notch up in many ways over last year, with food working out better, and my legs feeling great. Last year halfway home is when I first started to have some IT band pain that would end up plaguing me for months. There was nothing like that this year, with a focus on some simple stretching and strength exercises a few times a week paying off.
It was also a kind of milestone in a different way. On Monday, the company I've worked for the last 8.5 years was announced to be acquired by Oracle at the end of the year. While at least for now it doesn't sound like major changes will be happening, it's still likely the last year of this tradition running from the Dyn office in Manchester - in the sense it will no longer be it's own private company next year.
This is also becoming a nice way to end my longer runs for the year. This should be my last run longer than 13 miles until February or March or so when I start gearing back up for the spring. All in all, it's a fun tradition that I hope to continue in the future.