In the darkness along snow-of-the-century-narrowed streets I trot, surrounded by dirty gray mountains. It's 6am on Saturday and I'm heading for Bethesda to meet friends, my first serious outing since 20 January. The twingey right knee still aches when I sit too long or go down stairs, but feels fine running. Screw Shoes tap out a clickety accompaniment to my breath.
In the spirit of "Nothing Exceeds like Excess" my route zig-zags to provide a pre-dawn 4+ mile bonus to the 11+ miles to come. The Capital Crescent Trail looks impassable. I follow Linden to Brookville to Grubb, and thence East-West Hwy. Here the messy plowed street is an advantage, since most cars stick to the full center lane leaving me a curbside half-width alley. My red-and-white LED flashlight alerts drivers as they swoop around corners. After half a mile it's time to escape the highway and take Brookville to Leland. That neighborhood hilly road is only one lane wide, so I lean aside into ice mounds as morning newspaper delivery cars crawl by, windows open, papers flying out like skeet.
The usual Barnes and Noble/Ourisman parking lot rendezvous is crowded today, with several groups of runners meeting at 7am. Sara Crum and her friend Amy Kealiher do an out-and-back with me for ten minutes on Leland/Hillandale as we await Barry Smith, Rebecca Rosenberg, and Gayatri Datta. Sara is prepping for an Antarctica marathon in a few weeks, where the three-loop course is a jumble of glacier ice. I suggest that instead of spikes or cleats she should wear high heels for maximum traction. Gayatri phones my cell. She's stuck behind dump trucks removing downtown snow, but detours and arrives shortly.
At the lot Rebecca, Barry, and Gayatri greet us. We head east along Leland to Rock Creek Park. A fortnight ago Gayatri broke her left wrist, so at 7:09am I start her GPS for her. During today's run I happily assist her with belt-pack bottle management. Neither of us has been on our feet much recently, so we send the rest of the gang ahead. Gayatri and I enjoy each other's company tremendously, taking guilt-free walk breaks as needed. She tells the story of her latest injury and we discuss Bollywood movies, medicine, family, training for high-altitude ultramarathon running, etc. Rock Creek is ice-covered but the road is generally clear.
Down Beach Dr we go, and reverse course at the Military Rd bridge. Returning we meet Barry/Sara/Rebecca/Amy who diverted to enjoy the facilities at Meadowbrook Stables. After telling outrageous lies about how far we ran, Gayatri and I proceed upstream. Belatedly I compute that I'm going to be late getting home. I need to be at the University of Maryland by 11am to take a NOAA weather service SKYWARN intro course, so I can become an official storm spotter. Most important: the class includes a free pizza lunch—I don't want to miss that! Gayatri kindly agrees to give me a ride home and then to Wheaton where I can catch a C2 Metrobus to College Park.
Veronique Dozier joins us. She began running in October 2009 and is in the MCRRC Speed Development Program, aiming to race her first 10k in April. Today her right knee—ITB?—is achy, but she's still cheerful. I give her my usual advice—run happy!—and encourage her to relax and enjoy the day. Back at the car Gayatri drives cautiously, protecting her broken wrist. At home I grab my wallet, then ride to the bus area where Gayatri drops me on her way to a hot tub soak and then an Indian movie with her husband. With seconds to spare I leap onto a departing bus. It turns out to be the wrong one, the C4 instead of C2, so I plan on walking a mile to the UM campus. But then the C2 passes us, we pass it, and I leap off to transfer. Lucky day: the pizza is excellent, as is the running!
^z - 2010-02-14