Sweaty Saturday Long Run

I have become a little tired of my usual running routes. This past year I have been scouring my neighborhood and the surrounding trails for every possible safe running route, and since I live in Orlando, there aren’t too many options. Orlando tends to have one section of well-lit, well-kept neighborhoods right next to super shady gas stations and torn up car lots. It makes for some interesting route-planning, especially for longer runs.

This weekend I gave up on trying to start my run from my driveway and I just drove to a new-to-me paved trail in town. I noticed this trail a few months ago – my drive to work actually crosses paths with it and I never really thought it would be a fun route because the part I could see wasn’t shady and it was right next to a busy road. Saturday morning while I was searching Google Maps for a long run route I realized that this trail was the same one that connected to a bridge I’ve driven under hundreds of times. I always passed under thinking it was sort of cool but never had the motivation to actually check it out. Here it is below, the big green bridge of The Cady Way Trail:

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I did not take this photo. But whoever did used a real long exposure time and some serious Photoshop skills because I have NEVER seen this road with no cars or jaywalkers on it, even at the purpley butt-crack of dawn.

It doesn’t seem like much when you’re driving under it, but running across the bridge was a great experience. There is a pretty significant incline on each side – the bridge is as tall as a normal highway overpass but it extends much farther to the sides, so the “hill” is longer. Once you push through the uphill, standing on the bridge is a little exhilarating! I have always loved bridges. They are just COOL. You’re suspended in mid-air and cars are rushing beneath you! If you jumped off you would die! But you can’t jump off because you’re literally caged in! (I just realized that I am the opposite of afraid of heights…I love heights!) If you’ve read a few of my posts you’ll know I have a condition where I have to take selfies on bridges/overpasses:

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It’s a disease.

In the future I think I will use this bridge to run hills. I could run hard up one side, recovery jog across, run hard down the other side, and repeat a few times. It’s a really good length for a hill workout, and the good news is that traffic is always moving below you so no one will be sitting there long enough to think I am a psycho! 🙂

So on to the actual run:

My plan was to do an out-and-back 11 miler. The first two miles of the run had almost zero shade, which I didn’t really notice when I ran it at 7am, but on the way back I definitely felt the heat. The scenery was also lacking at this point. The trail cut between a junk yard on one side and some kind of rock quarry (Lol…Do we have those here??) on the other side. Basically, it was a snoozefest at the beginning and hard as poop at the end. I could see the green of the Cady Way bridge in the distance and I told myself just to get through this boring part and I’d have something to enjoy soon. Unfortunately, somehow my eyes tricked me and the bridge looked like it was a lot closer than it really was.

Finally getting to the bridge I realized how long of a ramp it has, which is kind of nice because it meant I didn’t have to get anywhere close to the road it crosses, which has a ton of traffic. I climbed the ramp feeling strong and when I got to the top I took it easy to soak up the view! It’s so fun seeing a thing you have seen thousands of times from a different perspective. Being on the bridge actually made this part of Orlando look beautiful, which is saying something coming from me because my idea of a beautiful place is The Shire, not the city.

My fictional heaven. Gandalf included.
My fictional heaven. Gandalf included.

Immediately after the bridge was a sharp turn to the south, and the trail turned into strip of shady paradise. Trees on both sides, water fountains every mile or so, dogs being walked by cute old people…just fantastic. The trail goes by Ward Park, which has lots of parking, so I believe I will be starting my runs there from now on. I stopped to go to the bathroom at the Ward Park pool which was an adventure…I don’t know what it is about pool locker rooms but they are always a maze. I took like 6 turns before finding the toilets.

At this point I discovered that Track Shack meets here for their Saturday long runs!! I saw a ton of runners gathered around water coolers so I started talking to a girl to see what was happening. She had obviously just finished her run because she had that glazed look in her eye like she was trying really hard to get her brain to pull out some useful information for me that had been pushed away while running. They all looked really fast so I just told her thanks and I continued my run.

About a half mile down I came upon a pack of women running my pace and I figured they were a part of Track Shack too, so I moseyed on up and they invited me to run with them. Turns out they were part of one of the Track Shack marathon training programs, and they were finishing up an 18 miler. They were really sweet women and they assured me that marathons are full of people running at our pace! I hope to see them again. It was a great boost to my next few miles. They turned around before I did and I didn’t see them again. I’ll definitely sign up for one of Track Shack’s marathon groups one of these years. Seems like an amazing way to make runner friends.

Wonderfully shady Cady Way Trail
Wonderfully shady Cady Way Trail

Those are the high points of my eleven miles. The rest was full of sweat, trying to stay out of the sun, pouring water on my neck and head, wishing my socks weren’t soggy, wishing I had sunglasses, and promising myself to run until the end of the song in my headphones before walking. Florida sun is no joke, people. Thankfully I know my sunscreen was effective because I didn’t have even a hint of sunburn. 🙂

Nutrition:

I had my water bottle in one hand filled with water, a pack of Honey Stinger chews (pink lemonade flavor) and Clif Shot Bloks (orange flavor) in a ziploc, and a Nuun tab all stuffed into the zippered pocket on my water bottle. The Clif Bloks tasted great but they were really large. I wouldn’t be able to run while eating one of those just because it would clog up all my breathing space and I would definitely die. Honey Stinger chews are still holding the crown as my favorite. They are the perfect size, texture, juiciness, etc. The only downside is that the pouch the chews come in is difficult to manage while running, but putting them in a snack-sized ziploc seemed to do the trick. Nuun is amazing! It’s an electrolyte tab (looks like a little Tums tab) and it has lots of sodium, potassium, and vitamin C, and no sugar. It really helps replenish all the sweated-out electrolytes on longer runs. And it tastes great. Unfortunately it got wet inside the pocket of my water bottle and I had to scrape some of it off the fabric, so next time I’ll wrap it in saran wrap or something.

A running store employee told me to drink a glass of Nuun the night before a long run, and I’ve read that other runners drink it the morning of their run or during their run, so I’ve been experimenting. I definitely felt a difference drinking it during my run. I’m not sure if the body would process through the electrolytes and eliminate the excess if you drank a glass the night before.

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Recovering on the couch with my favorite dog.

Another long run in the books. Only 3 more Saturdays until my first half marathon!!!

Do you drink Nuun?? When do you drink it – during, before, or the night before a run?

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