2008-01-12 - Riverbend Park Hillwork and Paint Branch Tempo Run

~5 miles @ ~14 min/mi & ~6 miles @ ~10 min/mi/

A red fox dashes away as Mary Ewell and Kevin Lee and I trot along what might be part of the Potomac Heritage Trail upstream of Riverbend Regional Park. Our path follows the Virginia shore of the Potomac just above Great Falls, gentle terrain except where it climbs over steep ridges, smooth except where tree roots hide under the blanket of fallen leaves. Half a mile into the run we reach the hill which Mary and I ran up on 2007-09-29 near the end of a long jog (see MatherGorge). That time I issued the challenge; today Mary throws down the gauntlet. She does half a dozen repeats; Kevin is similarly strong, but I only survive half as many. More hill work needed!

After recovering we continue upstream for a few more miles until the trail leads mysteriously away from the river to a decrepit wildlife sanctuary hut. Nearby is an ancient-looking stone springhouse. We circle the building (almost falling into a pit concealed by leaves) and return. Merle is awaiting us; he has been exploring and photographing the Riverbend Park shoreline and nearby forests.

Saturday afternoon I take Gray to the University of Maryland and discover the gates to Kehoe Track chained and locked against me. No speedwork there! So I jog across campus to Paint Branch Trail and trot briskly from milepost 1.5 to 3.5 and back. The weather is cool and I encounter enough spectators to keep me moving briskly, with mile splits of 9:34 + 9:29 + 9:08 + 8:46 (whooo!). The journey to/from the parking lot near the music building takes ~11 minutes each way.