2013-04-20 - Night Run from McLean to Home

~10.5 miles @ ~11.9 min/mi

4 cyclists + 3 other runners + 2 clusters of noisy kids + 1 scampering rabbit = a fun run in the dark from McLean to Silver Spring. Sara Crum has invited comrades to her lovely home for a potluck dinner and conversation about the upcoming Bighorn trail race in Wyoming that several of them plan to participate in. Jennifer Weiland, Jennifer Sample, Ken Swab, and Barry Smith bring spouses and friends and kids. I hitch a ride with Barry in order to practice eating following by running in the nighttime. After too much feasting I thank our hosts and slip out a little after 9pm.

The jog out of Sara's neighborhood is brief, and from then onward I'm more-or-less repeating two prior runs, 2007-05-25 - Home Run Meltdown and 2010-03-12 - Homeward Bound. This time, though, it's dark and the journey is spookier. The shoulder of VA-123 (Dolley Madison Hwy) feels narrow, so I try to run on the grass when cars zoom past. At the GW Memorial Parkway I cross and take the natural-surface Potomac Heritage Trail through the woods.

A rabbit scampers away from my flashlight beam, as startled by me as I am by it. Careful treading, to avoid a game-ending stumble on rock or root, now slows the pace. Heavy rains yesterday make Pimmit Run rather high, so at mile 2 I get soggy socks crossing when some of the stepping stones are submerged. A nighttime fisherman greets me at the Virginia end of Chain Bridge. After crossing the Potomac into DC I hesitate, then during a gap between cars dart across the Clara Barton Parkway and scramble up the steep path to join the Capital Crescent Trail near milepost 7.

"On your left," a cyclist without lights warns me as he zips by. Tired now, I start taking a ~1 minute walk break every ~5 minutes. Half a dozen noisy young men are walking near the trail at the River Rd bridge. Another small crew hangs out at the eastern end of the tunnel under Wisconsin Av in Bethesda. My pace improves as I home nears. Runkeeper roughly agrees with Garmin GPS splits of 10:51 + 17:34 + 15:48 + 10:41 + 11:21 + 11:12 + 10:46 + 10:14 + 10:53 + 10:52 and a final fractional dash at 10:21 min/mi.

At 11:14pm when I arrive at the front steps, who is sitting there but DS Merle?! He forgot his house key, so after a friend drops him off he walks a couple of miles to Wheaton Plaza, buys a towel to wrap around himself against the cold, and walks back. He hasn't been waiting too long, he says. As I let him in who should pull up in the car but DW Paulette & DD Gray? They return from the Metro which they took downtown to a concert at the Library of Congress. DS Robin is still away, playing Dungeons & Dragons in the College Park area.

^z - 2013-05-15