Running with Sweet Potatoes

Today was a landmark day for me.

I came to that point in my training that many people talk about. I came to the part my training that 3 to 4 months ago seemed like miles away. No pun intended. The way my training goes I run for mileage during the week. On the weekend, my coach has my long run set up by time. I believe the idea behind this is getting used to being on my feet for certain amount of time. Gradually pushing the wall the fatigue back even further. It started as an hour run to an hour and a half and two hours then three. But it wasn’t just running for three hours. There was a certain ratio of walking to running. So while I would be running three hours I would do a shift of 10 minutes of walking followed by 35 minutes of running repeated so many times.
The hardest part about doing this is understanding what mileage I would cover in that time period. If you tell me go out and run 10 miles I can go to and set out a map course 10 miles long. That map would start from my apartment and ended my apartment. It might start from my apartment and end at a nice place for brunch. It would often involve me running to meet my friend Erin so we could run together. These timed runs are sometimes hard to gauge the mileage.
Sunday, Nov. 9th, my schedule read “run for four hours. 10 minutes of walking followed by 50 minutes of running.” At this point I Milyer with roughly how far these walk runs would take me. I knew it was going to be close to 18 miles in my head I was thinking I would do 20.
Finding 18 miles or even further in the city is difficult to find. The Broad Street run goes all the way down Broad Street practically through the entire city and that is just 10 miles. What has happened to me? Just 10 miles? I knew a route that I would be able to take would be to leave for my apartment and go to the art museum which is 1 mile. From the art museum I would take Kelly drive past the Falls Bridge the start of the Wissahickon Trail. I know that much is roughly 7 miles. The Wissahickon Trail runs for miles and miles and many people run,walk, or ride their bikes on.

Typically, the turn around point in the loop

Typically, the turn around point in the loop

When I left the house I could feel from inside how cold it was outside. It was 42° so I bundled up. The sun has just come up and while the crowd wasn’t there at Kelly Drive there was never a point where nobody was on the trail. One of my favorite things about early morning running is that every person you go by says “hello” and “good morning” to you. In the later hours of the day when the past become so congested with people standing around or aimlessly walking running and jogging you’ll be lucky to get a high-five from anyone. But it is a beautiful path. They were setting up for a 5K or maybe even a 10K race that morning. As I was running I saw a cone with a sign that read “Runners/ turn around here” The prankster in me was so tempted to pick it up and carry it for well anywhere from 100 feet to another mile. I would not do that but the thought did occur to me. At 7:00 am, long before the crowds would gather on Kelly Drive, I enjoyed this fall view:

Along Kelly Drive

Erin decided that she would take a train out of the city and get off at a stop that was in the middle of the Wissahickon Park. She would find me using her phone locator and run the rest of the way back with me. The time flew by and I got a text from Erin saying “I’m on the train – dude! You are booking” I was almost at the trailhead and it wouldn’t be long before I would meet up with my friend to finish this run. We created a map and she told me not to worry about me finding her she would find me on the trail.The only problem with the map that we used was that it didn’t show elevation. Her train stop seems like 100 feet in the air above where I was on the trail. I know this road all too well because as you run hundred it looks like something from Lord of the rings. The bridge from above seems gigantic and it makes you feel like a hobbit. This girl from Texas was a brave soul . She found  an area to jump over and climb down to meet me on the path.


When it was time for me to turn around I was at roughly 9.56 miles. I was hoping I would be at 10 but I realize as far as I went out I would have to go back and cover that distance. a mile later I ran into Erin during one of my walk breaks.
The Wissahickon path or Forbidden Drive, is very scenic and gorgeous. The Wissahickon creek runs along the path in the fall colors were out in full. Most of the tree leaves have either fallen or turn brown but you would occasionally get a bright red set of leaves or orange mixed in with a bit of yellow.
I am about to gripe about the city that I love so much. For some reason Philadelphia decides to shut off all the water fountains that people use along Kelly Drive W. River Dr. and the Wissahickon Trail. I can understand having these things turned off in the dead of winter but the Philadelphia marathon is two weeks away a lot of people are still training for this run. Since we were left without the option to fill up her water for free along the way we decided when we hit the Falls Bridge to stop at the gas station across the street and buy a water. But at this moment to stretch. We got our water, filled our jugs and carried on our way.

Along the Trail

I knew at the hour that it was the Kelly Drive, as beautiful as it is, would be heavily congested not only with people running jogging and biking the people doing the dragon boat events. I saw most of them getting their gear set up when I ran by at 8 AM. I prefer W. River Dr. anyway. You’ll see one person or a group in spurts but at times you’ll see no one. The path is just as beautiful as Kelly Drive and it is extremely quiet.

As we passed the Falls Bridge and headed back on W. River Dr. my watch said we were at 15 miles. At this point I was starting to feel the fatigue and was concentrating mostly on my breathing. My coach’s words echoed in my head, “We are teaching you to push back the wall of fatigue.” That thought of me actually pushing back a wall is what help me get by.
I separated from Erin at the Schuylkill Banks and headed back home. I had a little over a mile to go and I was at 18 miles. Okay, it was more like 18.3. I took the time to walk up that hill that leads to the front of the Art Museum. Sorry, Rocky, I will not be running up those steps today so please forgive me. Traffic was in my favor so I made my way toward Spring Garden Street, the street that I live on.

Once I got past the uphill portion of Spring Garden I started to pick up my pace considerably. Something went right because I was able to move at that pace. I was four blocks from my house with my GPS watch red 19.3 miles. I decided to head south and Broad Street to Callowhill which is two blocks below our house. I was moving strong now, knowing I would soon finish and a nice breakfast was waiting. I ran a few blocks past our place, headed north and stopped at the end of my block.
Sunday morning, as I left my house bundled it was 42° outside, when I return I was soaked in sweat and it was in the 50s.
Sunday morning, as I left my house at 7:30 am and returned at noon, I had 20 miles under my belt.


and I spent the remainder of the day here. I watched 2 movies that day.


A New Form of Fuel

Up until now my coach advised me not to take any sports drinks along on my long runs. The idea is using your own bodies fattest feel. I’ve been only using water only runs and so far I felt great. When I asked him what he advises I do when it comes to the marathon he said he would never advise anyone to not take anything for running a race of that distance. The key is having carbohydrates to feel your body. I jokingly said to my coach do I need to carry a sweet potato with me? He wrote back and said that would actually be perfect. Saturday night I took four small sweet potatoes and cook them in the microwave, waited for them to cool, scoop the innards and placed two potatoes each in a small Ziploc bag. Going to point my run when I stopped at the 10 mile walk I ate half the bag. As awkward as it was to handle with gloves on it really helped! I took a few GU gels Long but I never needed to use them. I haven’t used them in a long time and I’m really weaning off of them. I can handle the GU chews better than the liquid but there’s no reason to worry aboutthat now. From now on I will be running with sweet potatoes!


2 responses to “Running with Sweet Potatoes

  1. Runners find themselves in such absurd situations…a route that’s “only” ten miles…your friend having to take a train to meet you…running with sweet potatoes. Love it! Great job on reaching a major milestone!

    • Thanks, Nora! I was in a bit of a funk earlier this year but I’m feeling great now. My pace is much slower but that is the key to staying injury free and,for me, going the long distance.

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