2013-03-30 - CCT and C-and-O Canal Towpath

~26 miles @ ~12.5 min/mi

http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/C_and_O_Canal_0_Barry_Stephanie.jpgBarry Smith and Stephanie Fonda wear coincidentally similar Annapolis Strider outfits this chilly morning when I meet them. We're north of Massachusetts Av on the Capital Crescent Trail, and I'm coming back toward Bethesda with Gayatri Datta and Sam (Sandra) Yerkes about 7:45am. I've jogged here from home starting before dawn. By this point my fingers are already too weak to tear open a blueberry Luna Bar package. Stephanie attacks the wrapper for me.

We cruise down the CCT together, passed by flocks of MCRRC training group runners. Most of the water fountains are turned off. At Fletcher's Boathouse we wait in line to buy liquids, but after five minutes of no progress we give up and proceed down to the Thompson Boat Center in Georgetown. There, a garden hose answers our needs. Stephanie points out a tree full of cormorants over the Potomac River. She tells of time spent in the western US desert, and the song "Horse With No Name" plays in my head. Barry identifies the band as America, and reports having seen them perform live.

Stephanie is interested in possible anti-cholesterol effects of psyllium, the main ingredient of the laxative Metamucil, and suggests that Barry and I be her experimental subjects in a study of it. We hesitate to volunteer, especially before a long run. As we turn the corner at the Kennedy Center to proceed up Rock Creek Parkway to join the C&O Canal at its beginning, who should greet us but Hilary Swab and her fiancé? "Makes a day great," I tell Barry and Stephanie, "when somebody who knows you spots you so far from home!" We pass a field of daffodils, and when Barry says he's tired and wants to rest, I suggest, "Why don't you lie down and wave your arms to make daffodil angels?!" (see Narcissus Silhouette)

We trot along Georgetown sidewalks, crossing streets cautiously. A runner in a black shirt looks tired as we overtake him. I offer help, and he declines but thanks me. A block later as we're all climbing to the bridge to cross to the other side of the canal he passes us. I see that it's a Boston Athletic Association top he has on, and whisper to him that I've just BQ'd. He did it in 2011, when he turned 50. Stephanie tells an anecdote re testosterone and its effects on brain chemistry in addition to muscle-building. I mention an over-the-top Andrew Sullivan essay in the New York Times that stuck in my mind from 13 years ago. Barry and Stephanie discuss their plans to run the Bighorn 50k in a few months, and the possibility of driving there via the Lewis & Clark expedition route — a long road trip!

At Fletcher's Boathouse I find a corroded cent on the ground. We take walk breaks as needed. When the GPS says a little over 17.5 miles we could stop, but Barry insists on a few extra blocks to make it 18. "It looks better that way!" We comply. Barry kindly gives me a ride home. We listen to "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me!", a comic radio program on NPR, which he and Stephanie had mentioned during our trek. Runkeeper and Garmin logfiles agree to within ~0.5%.

^z - 2013-04-15