This afternoon, I took a nice, long run on the Silver Comet Trail. This trail is terrific! In Atlanta, you have to deal with traffic all the time. I often run on the Stone Mountain Path, which is close to me. It's a good place to run, but even so, you're nearly always running near a busy road. The Silver Comet Trail is different. It's 61 miles of unbroken path. There are a few places you have to watch for cross traffic, but you don't have to run alongside any busy roads. In Atlanta, this is about as close to running on a country road as you can get.
The Silver Comet Trail starts at Mavell Road. I knew I was in for a good time when I pulled in and saw scores of people moving and shaking. Most were cyclists, but there were a few runners, walkers, and rollerbladers, too. There was a large parking lot, but I had trouble finding a spot. I guess weekends are pretty busy on the Silver Comet. Thankfully, there was also a public bathroom. I unpacked my water bottles, GU, and an emergency Cliff Bar. It was 85° with 35% humidity (only April!), so I added some Hammer Gel to half of my water bottles for electrolyte and sodium replacement. After stretching and walking a bit, I fired up my trusty Garmin and headed out.
Considering that this was a long run, and that this was a hot day at noon, I started out too fast. I ran 10-minute miles the first two miles, which is a little speedy (for me) for an LSD (long slow distance run). After that, I settled into a saner 11:30 pace. This may not seem very fast, but an LSD run is all about pacing and patience. The workout creeps up on you gradually, and if you go out too fast, you'll pay for it in the last half of the run. I probably started out too fast because I was influenced by the energy of everyone around me. You'll always run faster in a race, because there are people all around you pulling you along. After spending most of my time running early in the morning alone, I experienced a similar feeling today on the trail. I was thankful I had the Garmin to help me rein in my pace. Running on the Silver Comet periodically may be a big help as I prepare for my first marathon. It's going to be easy to start my marathon too fast, and that's a distance that I might not complete if I spend too much energy in the first part of the race. Running the Silver Comet with all those people around can help me learn to control my competitive urge and pace myself in traffic.
After I settled in, the rest of the run was wonderful. I'm a stereotypical solitary runner, and someday I'd even like to spend some vacation time running some lonesome trails in the American Southwest. That being said, it was also fun to be on the trail with all those other bodies in motion. There were old people and young, super fast cyclists and a little boy who had just taken off the training wheels. (He crashed every hundred feet or so, but the little guy just kept getting back up! He and his dad were just about 50 yards ahead of me on the trail going at about my speed. Little did they know it, but they were excellent pacers.) There were athletic bodies, fat bodies, and bodies like mine which were somewhere in the middle. What we all had in common was that we were out there moving and shaking on a hot Sunday afternoon.
It was a terrific run. I ran much of the trail on the grass next to the asphalt. I like running in dirt and grass when I can. The uneven surface helps strengthen my feet and ankles, and the softer surfaces are better for my joints. I intended to run 12 miles, but I had so much fun that I added an extra 2, for a total of 14 miles. It's too bad that the Silver Comet is so far away. (I went there today because I happened to be in the area for a Sunday service.) On the other hand, this will make my Silver Comet runs that much more special. If I'm up that way for a gig or rehearsal, I'll see if I can work a Silver Comet run into my schedule. This will also be a good place for really long runs. I'm working up to being able to complete a 20-mile run in the next few months, and I plan on running 50 miles on my 50th birthday in another 5+ years. I think both of these important runs will be on the Silver Comet.
- Tom Godfrey
- Atlanta, GA, United States
- When I suffered a lip injury that ended my career as a classical trombonist, I thought my life as a musician was finished, but I fell in love with music all over again when Santa gave me a guitar for Christmas in 2003. Even as I was struggling with my first chords, I was planning a new performance career. As a trombonist, I performed with the Heritage of America Band at Langley Air Force Base, the Ohio Light Opera, and in pick-up bands for touring acts that included Rosemary Clooney, George Burns, and the Manhattan Transfer. Reborn as a jazz guitarist, I sing and play my own solo arrangements of jazz classics, am half of the Godfrey and Guy duo, and hold the guitar chair in the Sentimental Journey Orchestra. I have been a freelance music copyist since 1995, served as Director of Music at Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation from 2011 to 2017, and currently serve as Contemporary Band Director at the same congregation.