I'd run the C&O Canal before, but not from Carderock, and had not been impressed. I recall the uneven terrain being really rough on my knees and ankles and wasn't particularly looking forward to this run. Didn't help that I didn't arrive home until midnight the night before then spent an hour on the phone with my mother dealing with family issues.
But there I was, nice and early, arriving at 6:20AM. Plenty of time to use the bathroom - real bathrooms! With porcelain and running water! So nice I used it twice. It was a bit misty when we arrived, and had rained on the way down, which did nothing to ease the humidity. At least it wasn't too stinkin' hot.
The 5 miles out were uneventful, we hit another (real) bathroom and stopped to get a group photo overlooking the river. I don't think we ever got group photos last year, I know we didn't when we ran the canal. Go team!
On the way back we took a vote to see if everyone wanted to go check out the falls, about a quarter of a mile out of the way over some little bridges. How could you run there and NOT go see it? So we did, and well worth the diversion. Amazing how many things you see that you didn't know existed while you're running. I'm not sure what the falls are called, Great Falls maybe, but they're really something incredible. We stared for a good few minutes, I think all of our side trips added an extra 25 minutes to the outing (though I didn't count that in miles or time).
Over the last four miles or so the group started to split up a bit, I stayed in the front (quite a difference from last year when I was straggling at the back of the pack). And we stopped or slowed down every so often to regroup. I'm also experimenting with different things, like coconut water (nature's Gatorade but nature really needs to add some artificial sweeteners because this stuff is nasty) and chia seeds which I do think are helping me feel more hydrated and energized. When we finished we waited for the rest of the pack to show up, cheering for them and forming a human finish line. High-fives all around!