EDITOR'S NOTE: This is a series of weekly articles by Travis Daugherty, a 28-year-old veteran, a resident of Vienna and a program analyst for the federal government, as he participates in the Half Marathon Training Program conducted each Monday.
Daugherty left the military in January 2009 and didn't do any exercising until this year. During that time, he gained 70 pounds and had knee surgery performed in March 2011.
Tired of being overweight, he began an exercise program in January of this year, starting on a stationary bike and then moving to an elliptical. By the end of January, he started running and now is training to run in the Aug. 18 News and Sentinel Half Marathon.
This week's training run was 8 miles long. There is only one word to describe this route. HILLS! It began on the Rosemar Road side of Jackson Park in Vienna.
We started by running the trail that leads over the hill toward Jackson Pool. I had two of my running buddies with me, but Brian Brady, Vicki Elkins-Earl, and I only stuck together for the first half mile or less. Once we reached the pool, I began to get a cramp in my upper back. That cramp plagued me the entire run. I had to stop and try to stretch it out.
By the time I was able to run again Brian and Vicki were long gone. When I reached the first water stop near Dairy Queen on 34th Street I was surprised to see that Brian and Vicki had waited on me. We continued on 34th Street to River Road. We turned right and this is where I had to stretch again. I had to stop every mile to stretch my back and try to alleviate some pain. Once again, by the time I was up and running my partners were nowhere in sight. I tried to catch up for the rest of the run with no success.
I continued on River Road, but the heat and sweat were getting to me. I ended up texting my gorgeous wife and asking her to bring me a towel to wipe the sweat from my eyes. I knew I had a long way to go and my eyes were burning already. This was a lesson learned. I will carry a towel with me on the hotter days that are to come. She is supportive of my running and is always willing to bring me something if I need it. Thanks Babe!
After wiping my eyes I began running again until the water stop at the end of 55th Street where I stretched and had a few sips of water. I'd like to thanks all the volunteers who setup the water stops. These longer runs would be nearly impossible without each of you. I turned left on Grand Central Avenue and then right onto Rosemar Road.
I didn't like running on Rosemar. I'm not sure if it was the long slow hills that lead to 46th Street or the endless onslaught of traffic that passed me in both directions. I made my way up the hill on Rosemar and then turned onto 46th Street.
Last week in D.C., it was the smell of a trash truck and it's "trash juices" that made me gag. This week it was road kill. I'm not sure which was worse, the smells of Washington or the dead skunk on the side of 46th Street that has been there for a few days.
I ran up the hill on 46th Street and made my way back to Grand Central Avenue. I turned left and continued to 34th Street. The final water stop was just behind Dairy Queen. I stopped at this one again.
I began to think about the hills that lead back to the finish. By this time my legs were tired, and my back was still cramping up. I wanted to give up and just walk the rest of the way, but I started to focus and just ran. Before I knew it I was starting up the trail by Jackson Pool.
Couple of running buddies had already finished and were headed back on the trail. I not sure if they were coming back to meet me or just trying to cool down. Vicki Elkins-Earl, Terri Parks, Kristin Meeks, and a few others ran the rest of the way with me. It was great to have the positive support that they always provide. I'm thankful they did because it provided a sudden boost of determination. The camaraderie of the River City Runners and Walkers Club is one of their best traits, and they are always willing to provide encouragement to newcomers.
Between the heat, cramps in my back, hills, traffic, and road kill, this run was the hardest run I have had to date. However, I am looking forward to next week. It begins at City Park on Monday, June 25 at 5:30 PM. Come out and join us!