"So what's your goal in life — to change the world? Or have you already changed the world, and now your goal is to change it back?" Stephanie Fonda laughs at my unpremeditated joke. We're about three miles into the VHTRC's 2012 Magnus Gluteus Maximus fun-run. I make her promise to remember it for me, and an hour later when I've already forgotten it she reminds me. My mission on this planet? I have to scratch my head when challenged to answer that one. (cf. My Religion and Personless Mission Statement and Core Buddhism)
In the predawn darkness at 0615 Stephanie and I are the first to arrive at Hemlock Overlook Regional Park. We need to start and finish early in order to get back to our respective homes in time for afternoon commitments. As we prepare to set out on our journey a couple of other cars arrive. We tell the folks in them that we're aiming just to go to Fountainhead and back. As we proceed down the shorter and less-rocky southern trail they shout at us that we're heading the wrong way. We shout back that it's deliberate.
Fresh batteries make my flashlight beam strong, and assisted by Stephanie's brilliant headlamp we navigate this familiar terrain reasonably safely. I lead us on a slightly incorrect path, down directly to Bull Run instead of along the red-horseshoe-blazed side trail that the official 50 mile Bull Run Run course follows. Plenty of bright blue blazes keep us company. At about 7am the sky begins to lighten and we turn off our headlamps.
|Today Stephanie wears a glucose monitor on her belly as part of an experiment. It continuously samples her blood as we run. Before we begin she pricks her finger with a lancet and calibrates the monitor via a separate sensor. ("Lancet?" I say, "Like the British medical journal? That word must mean 'little lance'. I never realized that!") At intervals during the first few hours of our trek the unit attached to her beeps, indicating low blood sugar. So Stephanie takes an energy gel every half hour, and after four of those the problem goes away — or at least, the annoying chirping stops.|
At the Bull Run Marina there's no aid station where I expect to find it. We proceed under the Old Yates Ford Rd bridge, following the classic BRR route from years past. At Fountainhead the GPS reads 10.0 miles. We visit the portajohn, then chat with Paul Crickard who kindly takes photos of Stephanie and me with my iPhone camera. He also gives us a handful of Ritz crackers — they're all he has available, since the aid station stockpile hasn't arrived yet. (Half a dozen of those crackers are visible in this photograph, tucked into the knot of the windshirt tied around my waist.)
We head back with the water we began with, since in spite of the name there's no functioning fountain at Fountainhead. Fortunately the day is cool, since otherwise 3+ hours unsupported would be far too much for me to survive. When we get back to the Marina, mile ~16, this time we follow the blue-blazed trail uphill instead of cutting under the bridge. We discover the VHTRC aid station — yay! — just on the south side of the road crossing. We drink Coke, eat chips, and refill Stephanie's bottles. I still have enough water in my hydration backpack.
Both Stephanie and I now experience increasing left foot pain, which I diagnose as metatarsalgia, aka "foot pain". I also have continuing low-level twinges of right hip-point ITB. We debate whether some of Stephanie's ache is plantar fasciitis or achilles tendinitis or some other problem in the left heel area. Her right foot is also having blister issues. At the soccer fields we stop, sit down on a stone wall, and take off our shoes. Stephanie changes socks and massages her aching feet. Only after my repeated insistence and semi-taunting does she consent to show me her right foot, where the blister on the fourth toe is showing signs of re-forming and the skin is peeling off the sole. (Looks normal to me!) I remove my left shoe and massage the metatarsals, to little avail.
Near the big meadows north of the soccer fields I find a Jeep key on the ground. On the trail we meet a small group including Anstr Davidson, who tells us about his streak of thirty JFK 50 Milers; he claims that he's not running any more. I remind him that two years ago I told him 28 was a perfect number and a good stopping place. We debate the merits of 29 vs. 31 and whether 1 is or is not a prime. ("Unique factorization!", I tell him, perhaps one of the stranger comments on the Bull Run Trail since when Angelo Witten and I argued moral relativism near here, to the great amusement of Caren Jew during Bull Run Run 2008.). Fusillades of loud gunfire begin at noon. Stephanie looks nervous; I suggest hiding behind a tree.
Then with only a few miles to go we meet Bob Gaylord, who has just been overtaken by a group of ladies. A couple of them give him hugs. "Can I get a hug too?" I ask them — and then I embrace Bob. In turn he compliments Stephanie on her good looks and taunts us both for having taken a short-cut near the start, which he witnessed. We laugh and wish him well.
In the final segment we encounter muddy ground near Bull Run, unlike at dawn when it was frozen solid. Metatarsal pain continues for us both, and we meet more Asian tourist-hikers as we approach Hemlock Overlook. I explain my silly theory for their presence: there must be a secret guidebook that tells them to hike the Bull Run Trail when they visit the DC area.
We touch Stephanie's car and stop the GPS. In the Hemlock Overlook Lodge I record our distance and time and tell the volunteers we're back safely. No pizza has arrived yet, so we settle for Coke Zero and popcorn. I get my pre-run deposit back. Linda Wack tells me where she bought her extremely attractive polychromatic tights. Stephanie discovers that she is already famous: two volunteers from the Stone Mill 50 miler last month recognize her, remember her horrible blister problems there, and ask how she's doing today. A FedEx truck passes us, driving up the hill as we head down, perhaps bringing the belated pizzas. In spite of heavy traffic on the way home we make it back at ~2pm, in plenty of time for Stephanie to catch the train she needs to be on this evening. As always, conversation is splendid throughout the journey, fun "Trail Talk" that can't be repeated. The Garmin GPS and the RunKeeper app concur to within 0.15 miles overall.
(cf. 2006-12-16 - Magnus Gluteus Maximus, 2007-12-15 - Magnus Gluteus Maximus Minimus, 2009-12-12 - Magnus Gluteus Maximus, 2010-12-11 - Magnus Gluteus Maximus 50k, 2011-12-10 - Magnus Gluteus Maximus Minimus, ...) - ^z - 2012-12-27