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2009-01-24 - Lincoln Memorial Hillwork

23+ miles @ ~11 min/mi

"If you don't run up the steps I'll write in my report, 'And CM did not run up the steps!'" I threaten Cara Marie Manlandro as we stand at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial. We've just trotted a dozen miles and we have almost as far yet to go. This day will be CM's longest pedestrian journey ever (though she has swum farther) and it would be sensible to take it easy. So of course, she climbs the big marble stairs with me. We reach the top, salute Abe's statue, circle a pillar, and trot back down—taking care not to fall on the slippery stone.

Obscured by clouds, the sun is rising behind the Capitol in front of us. We run the length of the Reflecting Pool on its southern side, past an infinite line of plastic porta-johns from the Presidential inauguration four days ago. As we approach the Washington Monument I critique the design of the WWII monument there. We cross to the north side of the Pool and begin the second half of our journey.

The temperature is 49 degrees but falling when at 5am we start today's trek. Brisk north winds blow in our faces as we head up Beach Dr to join the Capital Crescent Trail at Jones Bridge Rd. We maintain a steady 11-12 min/mi pace here, keeping energy in reserve so we can accelerate and finish strong. The goal is to do 23+ comfortable miles, CM's last and longest run before her first marathon, knock on wood the Washington's Birthday event next month.

Since she has a major lecture to deliver in a few days I invite CM to practice on me—we've got plenty of time! So the first hour on foot passes quickly as I learn about the P53 tumor suppressor gene and its negative regulator MDM2, cancer and apoptosis, IC50 and Kd, how to pronounce the word "phages", and more. We have a minor off-topic debate over how many pairs of human chromosomes there are (I think my guess, 23, is right). I'm distracted, but don't mention it, by Freudian imagery of tiny molecules nestling into the cozy clefts on gynormous proteins. In spite of my silly interruptions and even without vugraphs the lecture is a good one; CM will have no trouble delivering it to her departmental audience next week, I reassure her. (That assessment turns out to be correct.)

Pre-dawn darkness is moderated by city lights reflecting off the clouds, and for the most part we don't need to use the flashlight that CM carries. We cruise alone down the CCT through Bethesda, until after half a dozen miles a fast runner zips by. His red flashing tailights amuse me as he recedes into the distance in front of us. A few minutes later he reappears going in the opposite direction. One other early-morning jogger with similar red lights clipped to the back of his shirt meets us a little later, as we enter DC. Otherwise, the night belongs to us. When CM finishes her biochemical presentation we trot together quietly for a while, with occasional conversation about training, family, friends, etc.

After the CCT drops us off at the Georgetown waterfront we pass the Thompson Boat Center and the Kennedy Center, do our hillwork at Mr. Lincoln's feet, and orbit the Reflecting Pool. My water supply is running out now so I'm thrilled to find a working water fountain just north of the Memorial. I pause to refill my bottle there and feel comforted thereby for the rest of the run. We head up Rock Creek Pkwy and soon reach the National Zoo. Today the tunnel's narrow sidewalk, with noisy cars blasting by a few inches away, isn't as scary as it usually is. CM leads the way and afterwards observes that running toward traffic seems safer. A mass of Team in Training folks are gathered near Pearce Mill at Porter Rd, all bundled up, preparing to do 10 miles. I shush myself when a pair passes us, chattering about the length of their run. (No Pride! No Attachments!)

After 20 miles we're getting a wee bit worn. My quads and hip flexors tighten up a bit, and CM has some foot cramps, but overall we're doing well. CM claims fatigue but nevertheless accelerates to sub-10.5 min/mi pace now, in spite of the hills we're climbing. She has subsisted on four packets of sports beans, and I've sucked down a similar number of chocolate energy gels. Both of us have been drinking electrolyte liquids and taking salty capsules at hourly intervals.

When CM's GPS says 23.0 miles my watch says 4:12, an average pace of a bit over 11 min/mi. We keep running to the 23.1 mile point, CM's goal today so all that will be left to make a sub-5-hour marathon is 5 km. The temperature has fallen 10 degrees by the time we finish. Of course, as I always caution CM, much depends on weather and course conditions on race day, and injury is always a trump card. So we shall see how her first marathon goes. Thus far, her training is, as she puts it, PFA!

(cf. Lincoln Memorial (2004-01-06), Marble Steps (2008-11-06), ...) - ^z - 2009-02-04