Shorts over short-shorts, windshirt over long-sleeved shirt, gloves over hands: it's brisk but not frigid at 6:40am, thanks to minimal wind and overnight clouds. At 7:00am the J2 Metrobus is due at Grubb Rd as it heads for Bethesda on East-West Hwy. Jogging ~1.5 miles at ~10 min/mi gets me there with a few minutes to spare. Gloom is heavy except beneath streetlights. The old water bottle almost bounces out of the old fanny pack until I drink it down a bit. A truck idles in front of the discount tire warehouse, driver eager to be first in line for new radials when it opens in a couple of hours. Four heavily bundled guys are at the bus stop ahead of me, and more show up just before the crowded J2 arrives. I climb on last and snag the penultimate seat, text Gayatri Datta to let her know all's well, and then settle back to read some Reddit. An amusing item catches my eye and I forward a link to comrade Stephanie Fonda, who's out of town visiting her family in New York this weekend. As the bus approaches Gayatri's neighborhood at 7:25am I yank the cord and get off. There's no sign at the end of her street. I overshoot, text her again, summon up a GPS map, backtrack, and find her outside in sandals, warming up her car and getting ready.
At Seneca Creek State Park we likewise overshoot and take a mini-tour of the area before finding the "Nuthatch" pavilion. A bonfire blazes. I chat with Tom Corris in front of it about the Massanutten Mountain Trail 100 miler and other running topics until Gayatri drags me out at 8:15am for our warmup before the official Mike Broderick Memorial Run. We trot down the road and almost bump into Mary Lou, Anton Struntz's wife, whom I met less than a week ago at the Marine Corps Marathon. We shared a table in the MCRRC hospitality suite before and after the race. Today Mary Lou is out for her long run — small world! We greet Michelle Price who's also out doing a few early bonus miles. Then Gayatri and I branch north onto the Seneca Creek Greenway Trail, thick with leaves that cover roots and dips. At the Nuthatch picnic area we rejoin the road and trek back to the Lake Shore Trail, pause at a restroom, then do a bit more off-road mileage before heading back on asphalt to our start. Sara Crum drives past and offers us a ride, but Gayatri and I thank her and decline. We're just in time to join in the celebration of Mike Broderick's too-short life.