After two days of rain the Cabin John Stream Valley Trail is surprisingly non-muddy this morning as Mary Ewell and I do a 12-13 mile out-and back, probably her last long run before the VHTRC Women's Half Marathon coming up in a fortnight. At 0630 I establish an Aid Station by caching chips and a jug of water behind the guard railing at the end of Bell's Mill Rd. In spite of multiple washings the plastic bottle still smells faintly of salsa, but no harm in that.
Bachman-Turner Overdrive's "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet" is playing on the radio, and later echoes in my mind. Before 7am Mary and I meet at the River Road parking area and set off briskly upstream. We take turns leading; whoever goes first gets to break the spiderwebs that stretch across the trail. Mary insists on running for the first 20 minutes, which gets us past Bradley Blvd (16 min, 1.2 miles by the official reckoning) and into the hills of the next Cabin John Trail segment. When we get near Seven Locks Road we turn onto a longer side path, the ruins of an old paved driveway, to avoid a notoriously-boggy section. Mary spies deer in the woods, and soon I see one too. At the impromptu Aid Station (mile ~3) we sit down on the asphalt to drink, nibble, and retie shoes.
On the other side of Democracy Blvd the paths through the woods wind and twist but we continue to make good progress. At Tuckerman Ln (mile ~5) we decide to continue north. Mary's plan for the day is only a 3-hour tour, but as on Gilligan's Island we extend that a bit by going to the end of the trail at Goya Dr (mile ~6+). Our feet get wet during the stream crossing, and we have to swim through a sea of high weeds farther up, but we reach the turnaround in 1:37.
During the return trip Mary's right foot slips on a rock and she twists her ankle and knee. We slow our pace and take the high path to the Cabin John Regional Park. Approaching the children's playground I torque my left hip a bit when, as I later confess to Mary, I'm distracted by two brobdingnagian conical piles of mulch which remind me of, uh, intriguing mammalian architecture. At the hippo-faced water fountain near the playground we refill bottles, suck down energy gels, chat together, and recover for five minutes. Then we cross the parking lot and descend to rejoin the blue-blazed CJT Trail.
At the Locust Grove Nature Center just north of Democracy Blvd we see some huge logs carved into the shape of crouching bears and banter: "Were those there when we came by an hour ago?" "I don't think so—they must have carved them while we were jogging!" Mary reminds me of how everything looked strangely new to me when we were lost in the woods at Fountainhead last week, and yet seemed strangely familiar to her.
We catalog and compare our twinges and aches, walk more frequently, pause to freshen up at our Aid Station, and nonetheless arrive back at Bradley Blvd in 3:08. The final mile+ to River Rd takes only 17 min, for a total of 3:25—of which 15-20 minutes was spent relaxing during our three refueling stops.
Overall it's a splendid morning's journey. Both of us are totally sweat-soaked as the humidity remains high. Mary does her signature towel trick and changes discreetly into dry clothes (cute pajamas!) but I simply sit on a towel for the drive home.
(cf. Jog Log for the last 10 entries in the running logbook) - ^z - 2008-09-11