"Sha-la-la-la-la-la-la-la." CM and I sing along with the radio at 4:45am as we drive in the darkness to begin her longest run ever. "Mr. Jones" by Counting Crows is on the oldies station. "Please turn that up!" I beg, and CM complies. The music reminds me of an anecdote, a Freudian-symbolic tableaux in a fancy hotel's cigar bar that I witnessed a few years ago (cf. SoSymbolic). I tell the story as we strap on water bottles and bum bags, don gloves and headbands.
"So come dance the silence down through the morning." At 0503 Cara Marie Manlandro and I commence our journey into the quiet of Rock Creek Park. I hand her the flashlight and trot along beside, dodging icy patches on the pavement. Our course is a recap (but in the opposite direction) of the orbit described in 2006-10-07 - Caren's Loop and 2007-10-20 - Mary's Loop. A few miles down Beach Drive near Broad Branch Road CM spies a big deer retreating into the woods. I suffer from slight intestinal distress for a while—perhaps a bowl of bean soup isn't the best dinner on the evening before a long outing? But the discomfort soon fades.
"Gray is my favorite color." The pre-dawn solitude is broken as cars pass by. We reach the Zoo tunnel at mile 6. It's scary-loud, reflecting sound so well that even single vehicles sound like aircraft taking off. We trot single-file along the narrow sidewalk beside gleaming tiles under fluorescent lights.
"Pass me a bottle, Mr. Jones." CM loses a water flask, probably among the thick leaves by the path. We backtrack briefly but fail to spot it. Her other bottle plus my two prove ample, however, in the cool weather. I drop a Succeed! e-cap and abandon it in the dirt. The sun rises as we reach the Potomac River. We proceed upstream along the waterfront, past Georgetown bars that CM admits familiarity with. Our ~11 min/mi pace accelerates slightly as we begin our second ten miles on the Capital Crescent Trail. CM fumbles a couple of Sports Beans, which I pick up and eat. They're my favorite flavor, lime.
"Mr. Jones and me tell each other fairy tales." CM explains her varsity swim team's gung-ho terms-of-art, "Bust it out!" and "Fly-and-Die!". They describe what I would consider imprudently aggressive pacing. I quote the old Army slogan, "We do more before 9am than most people do all day!" and point out that for us it applies before 6am. That leads me to muse about another Army motto, "Be all that you can be." I remember an excellent New Yorker magazine article about Esalen and the human self-actualization movement that led to that mantra a few decades ago. We chatter as we roam, "trail talk", sacrosanct communications until the next such journey. I suck down an energy gel and take a swig of tea-lemonade-salt drink. CM gets a bit of cramping in the lower leg, as seems to happen to her often at miles 12-14. An S! cap helps relieve it. She also feels a wee bit of chafing, but a few applications of grease fix that.
"I wanna be a lion." On the Capital Crescent Trail my phone rings; I fumble but can't get it out in time to answer. It's ever-dynamic Ken Swab, who when I call him back informs us that he's heading for Bethesda, several miles ahead, and will trot down the trail to join us. Half a decade ago Ken did this for me during my 2004-03-14 - Rock Creek Park, Capital Crescent loop. As always his cheery banter lifts our spirits. He gives me some gels he got at the Marine Corps Marathon last year, but when I stuff them into my pocket their weight causes my shorts to slip down. Oops! But I've got two pair on, so no worries. I transfer the packets to my bum bag and the problem is solved. Ken pulls CM and me along for a few miles, through Bethesda and onto the Georgetown Branch segment of trail, then turns back.
"Mr. Jones and me, stumbling through the barrio." CM and I continue at a steady pace. We jaywalk-run across Connecticut Av. At Jones Mill Rd we turn south toward where her truck is parked, where our circuit began more than three hours ago. When her GPS displays 20.00 we take our first walk break of the day. "My legs feel like Jell-O!" she admits. But when I ask, she also confesses that she could probably manage another 10k, slightly slower. This portends well for her first marathon next month, when we hope to do the George Washington's Birthday event together.
"And we all want something beautiful." CM's husband works a late shift and last night gets home close to 3am, just before she rises to go running. She returns home, showers, and rejoins him before he awakens. Awesome run. Beautiful day.