Not a race, but more like a hike: this year's VHTRC "Magnus Gluteus Maxiumus" fun run is a chance to get to know Jackie Ong and stretch my legs before tomorrow's 8k MCRRC road event. At 0635 I'm at Fountainhead a few minutes ahead of schedule, so as the sky begins to brighten I help Gary Knipling tote water and munchies to the little aid station in the woods there, near the entrance of the Do Loop horse trail. At 0645 Jackie arrives. We leave her car parked on the shoulder of the road and I drive us to Hemlock Overlook, where after sign-in we set off at 0730, half an hour ahead of the official crowd. Paul Ammann and a few other friendly folks do likewise.
Jackie and I met three weeks ago, at the 2011-11-19 - Stone Mill 50 Miler DNF where we both failed to finish. She's an amazing 10-star Marathon Maniac: marathons in all 50 states, hit 30 states within a single 52-week time frame, and is getting ready to do four marathons in four days during the Christmas-New Year's Day week in Florida. She also did 69 miles last Sunday as part of a 24-hour event. So today is a recovery day for her, and I have no ambitions either. We're passed by just about everybody as we trek along. At a couple of corners we miss turns and add a little bonus mileage.
Near Fountainhead I suggest we stop, so I can get home early and fix the water heater (it has a burnt-out control board again). Caroline Williams meets us and gives us both big hugs; she's enthusiastic as always. My GPS reads 11.7 and Jackie's says 12.1 miles. Andy Gingrich hitches a ride with us back to Hemlock Overlook. On the way he tells us about his races, including a 3:15 for his first and only marathon. ("Throw him out of your car, Jackie!" I say.) He did the Bull Run Run 50 miler in 2011 and is planning some longer races soon. Jackie has a heavy schedule of marathons and ultras coming up in 2012, including Zion and Vermont. She tells me about the free Philadelphia 100 miler in early April, and it sounds like fun. Perhaps we can do it together!