Dreams Come True: A Training Run on the D & L Trail
In the fall of 2010, I first biked the the D & L Trail from White Haven, PA to Jim Thorpe, PA (about 25 miles) with a group of friends. At that time I had been running again for a year or two, but my beatup body still had a long way to go to recover well.
As I biked the trail that day my left leg hurt like hell, but yet thoughts about doing a training run on that trail if I ever do a full marathon ran through my mind. But I stopped my wandering mind and told myself that my body would probably never be strong enough to do a full marathon, so I shouldn’t dream about it and set myself up for disappointment.
Yesterday I did a marathon training run on that trail!.
This fall I’ve had to schedule my training to be ready for both the Runner’s World Half (Oct 21st) and the New York City Marathon (Nov 4th), so this weekend it was time for a 20-miler. I mentioned my dream of doing a run on the D & L Trail to Bev (my running pal) and we decided to make it happen!
There is a shuttle available from Jim Thorpe to While Haven, but since we didn’t want to do the full 25 miles, I sweet talked Jerry into being our driver. He dropped us off at the Tannery Road Trailhead and picked us up at Glen Onoko, which cuts a few miles off either end, bringing it down to 20.5 miles.
It rained a little in the last few miles of driving there and though it was cloudy and damp with threats of rain all day, thankfully it didn’t rain at all! We walked the first half mile and then did the rest with our regular run/walk/run routine of running 3 minutes and walking 1 minute.
For the first few miles, the dampness caused the thigh area on my left leg to tighten up (felt like a vise grip was being tighten on it). Thankfully between me rubbing it during our walking breaks and the temps warming up slightly (57 at the finish), it loosen up and the discomfort decreased.
The trail has only one access point (with a restroom) in those 20.5 miles. It’s about 7.8 miles from Tannery Rd at Rockport Road. Another running friend, Rose is also doing the RWHalf, so Jerry dropped her off at Rockport, and she joined us for the 12.6 mile stretch to the finish.
The trail has a pea-gravel surface and is almost flat (2% downgrade) with beautiful scenery on all sides. For the first 15 miles or so, the Lehigh River is visible on the one side almost all the time, while the other side has stone ridges, steep hills, beautiful trees and mountain laurel.
What’s not to love?
Here the trail is close to the same height as the river, but at some places there is steep drop down to the river. In the last five miles, the trail moves away from the river, but there are still beautiful trees everywhere. And there are railroad tracks running along the trail here, where trains from The Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railroad pass by periodically.
We arrived at the Glen Onoko parking lot and woke Jerry from a nap in the car about 4 hours and 10 minutes after we left the start (10 min warmup walk, 3 hrs and 52 min of run/walk, with a 5-min break when we met Rose and another few minute break around mile 16)
As I was running, I savored the day and appreciated what I was doing, but I didn’t allow myself to celebrate too early, for fear I wouldn’t be able to finish. (but then again, since there was no trail access for the last 12+ miles, finishing was my only option)
But as soon as I was in warm clothes, the reality of fulfilling my dream began to sink in. (and this morning my sore legs are really driving that reality home :)
Bev and Rose also felt great and it was an amazing day for all of us!
Maybe it was the cool temps, maybe it was that I’ve learned what to eat before a long run and what drink/fuel to carry, maybe it was all the cross-training I’ve been doing… whatever it was, my body felt stronger than it has since the accident.
With this being the best and the fastest long training run any of us has done… watch out world, we are all feeling like we’ll be rocking the RWHalf and NYC Marathon!
Along with being a great run, it’s a great reminder that by doing what we can, with what we have, there’s no telling what we are capable of.
Do you have some dreams that feel ‘impossible’? While they might be ‘impossible’ now… do what you can, with what you have, where you are today and you might be surprised what you can do someday.
Have you reached an ‘impossible’ goal?
If you are a runner, how’s your training going for any upcoming races you have?