High atop the eastern spire of the Mormon Temple, the angel Moroni lifts his shining trumpet to greet the dawn. In the background a silver passenger jet glints as it banks in a sapphire sky. Far below on Rock Creek Trail I'm deep in shadow, a couple of miles into a Sunday morning jog, just enjoying the view and feeling lucky to be here. I think of UltraMan Paul Ammann's comments on the privilege of going out long.
Soon runners from the MCRRC first-time-marathon training group start meeting me on the trail, leaders blasting along at a scary-to-witness speed, followers some distance behind. I cautiously insert a minute of walking between each minute of jogging and maintain a comfortable ~12:00 pace for my first half-dozen miles. (As usual, to my chagrin when comrade C-C = Caren Jew spies me I'm taking a walk break.) A few kind folks recognize me and compliment me on some recent essays about jogging. Sunlight kisses tree crowns, then nuzzles slowly down trunks.
Comrade Ken Swab has proposed to rendezvous at the playground near RCT mile 6.3, but I arrive early and decide to trot back and forth along the trail in the area. Soon Ken appears and we do a brief warmup, then set off northward. We cover 6+ miles at an ~11:50 pace without many slowdowns, going first to milepost #9 and then back past our starting point, finally ending at the playground for a cooldown walk. I thank Ken and turn homewards.
The final seven miles flow by rapidly, at an average ~11:40 pace as I revert to my 1:1 jog:walk ratio, slightly accelerated when I'm pulled along by a passing spandex-clad fair runner. I extend the journey past East-West Highway to the original RCT marker #1 before returning to Che^z via the Georgetown Branch, a total distance of ~20.7 miles. As I enter my driveway and stop my watch I remember wondering, when I set out four and a quarter hours earlier, how it would feel when I got back. It feels good.