Saturday, April 12, 2014

Saving Time, Gas, and Money with a 20-miler

Last night, Greg and I celebrated the five-year anniversary of our first date! And the first time we met in person (we met online a few weeks prior).

To celebrate he took me out to a nice dinner in the city. I work just minutes outside of Washington DC, and he works about 30 miles outside of it. When he left work, he drove to the metro, parked, and took the metro to my office. From there, we took the metro into the city. Dinner was wonderful. He surprised me with a beautiful pair of earrings and a necklace. I certainly had not been expecting a gift!

Afterwards, we took the metro back to my office, where my car was parked and drove home. We figured we'd pick up his car the next day since we were both so tired and wanted to get home as soon as possible.

This morning, a thought popped into my head and I said to Greg: "Do you want to find a way to run to your car?" He immediately and enthusiastically replied "Yes!" I knew that the car was actually only 10-11 miles away, but we could surely find a way to get there in 20.

I logged onto MapMyRun, hypothesizing that taking the W&OD trail into Vienna would yield about 20 miles. Greg and I used to do all of our runs on this trail before we moved to our house. Now, our house is about 9 miles away from the nearest trail entrance, so in order to run on it, we have to drive to it. However,
Running all over Northern Virginia to retrieve Greg's car at the end
since we wouldn't be returning back to the house, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to run to the trail and take it to our final destination.

Sure enough, the route was almost exactly 20 miles. The only challenge was making sure that the connection from the Fairfax County Parkway to the W&OD trail  had a sidewalk. Greg used the street view feature of Google maps to inspect the road we needed to take and with just a few alterations to my original route, found a way that was completely accessible via sidewalk.

This was going to be such an adventure! All we carried with us were our water bottles, energy gels, $20 cash, a credit card, and the keys to Greg's car. If anything happened, we'd be prepared! It was going to be sunny and on the warmer side, so we'd rely on water fountains and fast food joints to re-fill our water bottles.

Miles 1-4: From our house in Chantilly to the Fairfax County Parkway
This was very familiar territory. We usually do the entirely of our long runs through these neighborhoods and were thankful for a change. We stopped at a McDonald's at mile 3 to refill our water bottles. There wasn't much to refill but since we knew we wouldn't have another opportunity for awhile, we took it.

Miles 5-9: The Fairfax County Parkway, from Fairfax to Reston
Most of these miles were shaded, and the terrain was rolling hills. There is basically a path right next to a major high-way like road.

Miles 10-12: Reston Parkway
This was completely new to us. We'd run on the Fairfax County Parkway path before, but never through these Reston neighborhoods and the Reston Parkway. It was hilly! This entire route was actually far more challenging than what we typically train on. We found a shopping center with a Subway where we refilled our water bottles.

Miles 13-18: W&OD Trail from Reston to Vienna
We were back on familiar ground on this trail. The first portion was a nice, steady downhill, but the last 2-3 miles were on a slight incline, directly into the sun. That's when it started to get hard. Greg and I were both pretty happy with how well our legs were holding up, but the sun and the rising temperatures was something we hadn't acclimated to yet. This part seemed to go on forever and we were anxious to get to the end where we knew a water fountain would be.

Miles 19-20.5: 123 and Nutley Street, from downtown Vienna to the metro station
We ran on the sidewalk of 123 in Vienna which was a welcome change of direction from the sun. It was so exciting to finally turn onto Nutley street and be so close to the metro. As we approached the metro, we ran through its overpass to cross highway 66 and when we came out on the other end, our Garmins read 20.5. It was quite the finish line!

This run was great for so many reasons!

  • It was nice to be running to a destination instead of running around in circles like we typically do
  • It was exciting to explore areas where we had never run
  • It was cool to run from our house to the W&OD trail where we used to always run
  • We saved the time and hassle of having to get Greg's car later
  • We also saved energy and gas money of using my car to get his car
  • We both stayed strong, even when it got hot and sunny at the end
  • Our legs held up great, coming off of the Cherry Blossom last weekend
  • This run brought me to 54.5 miles for the week (and I plan to run tomorrow!)
  • I practiced my nutrition/hydration strategy for the marathon and my stomach held up great!
We don't have any more 20-milers this season, but once we start training for our fall marathon, we plan to do this again, complete with a nice dinner in the city the night before!


  1. Genius!!!! And now I'm completely jealous that your hubby runs. Mine would never do that with me. I can't even get him to ride his bike with me on my long runs. What an awesome adventure!

  2. This is so cool! What a great idea and I'm glad you mapped it out, had a plan, etc. Plus you got to spend time with Greg, that's so neat that you guys run together (my husband runs but he's more of a weights guy, so he doesn't run as long as I do). It sounds like you had a great date too, happy anniversary of your first date, hehe.

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  4. How fun! I always try to make my long runs adventurous like that.It really helps make it less daunting.