"Our pacers have stopped at the water fountain up ahead," I tell Ken Swab, as we approach milepost 6.5 and see the two young ladies pausing to get a drink. Ken earlier speculated that he was still in bed dreaming about running today.
"And they're taking off their clothes," Ken says.
"If they were, you'd know you're dreaming!" I reply.
The old feet, badly blistered and bruised at last Saturday's 2013-04-27 - C-and-O Canal 100 DNF, feel good today except when the usual left metatarsals ache. A longer-than-planned ramble begins with ~4 mile jog to Bethesda via the Capital Crescent Trail. A tiny rabbit pauses at the side of the path, confused, as I approach. At the last moment it dashes away, then turns back and races past me to return to its nest.
At 7am I meet Gayatri Datta in front of the Barnes & Noble bookstore. We chat with Sunny Fitzgerald and others gathering there, then retrace my route on the CCT, take Jones Mill Rd south, and pause at the Meadowbrook Stables restrooms. As we continue toward Candy Cane City we find ourselves blocked by chain-link fences and set-up preparations for tomorrow's Avon fundraiser walk against breast cancer. Gigantic tents are already in place on the ballfields and trucks are pumping out the portajohns. Gayatri and I zig-zag around the barriers, annoyed when more fences stop us from taking the pedestrian bridge to Beach Dr. We ponder climbing over them, or clinging to the outside of the bridge railing, but decide against it.
Eventually we find a pathway to Leland St and take that über hilly route back to Bethesda, walking a fair amount of the climbs on the way. A 3.5 mile "Bulldog Run" is taking shape in the neighborhood east of Connecticut Av, with traffic cones, a small water stop, and chalk arrows on the road pointing the opposite direction to the way we're going. A large rabbit watches us from in front of a lawn as we pass. When we're almost back to our starting point Gayatri and I find ourselves blocked by a gigantic construction site in downtown Bethesda. We pick our way around via an alley and at ~8:10am see Ken Swab, Emaad Burki, and Barry Smith in front of B&N. Gayatri goes back to her car to get more coconut water.
Rebecca Rosenberg arrives a few minutes later, Gayatri in close pursuit, and the group of us continue down the CCT about 3.5 miles. Ken entertains me with descriptions of his digestive woes after Thursday's dinner, which unlike one previous case did not involve chicken-fried steak. Barry's tight spandex shorts attract Emaad's admiration. Rebecca is wearing an eye-catching op-art-ish vertical-zebra-striped top. She reports on the Big Sur Marathon that she ran a week ago. Barry did the Eugene Marathon the same day. Cyclists whiz past, one of whom says, "Hi, Mark!" and is beyond us before we have a chance to glimpse her face. I can't recognize her from the stern view, attractive though it may be. (Small World: a couple of days later a MITRE colleague, Dr Adriane Chapman, greets me on the shuttle bus to the Metro and admits that it was her, cycling with a friend!)
Gayatri pauses for a "hug break" with Harold Rosen, coming back from foot problems. He runs with us for half a mile, then slows to a walk. I almost abandon the group and turn back at milepost 6.5 but dither and decide to do another mile. As we pass above Chain Bridge I point out the steep path down to Canal Road which I climbed when running home at night from Sara Crum's party a fortnight ago. We turn back at milepost 7.5 and do walk breaks during the return journey. As we approach B&N again a pair of gentlemen my age greet me. One is Eric Melby, who met me in 2011 at the 2011 Run for Roses aid station where we served together. The other is Matt Koll, a software developer who reminds me that we met in 1982 or so when he was developing the "SIRE" software system for free text information retrieval. Small world! Eric is wearing a Boston Marathon shirt and has run that race half a dozen times. Matt is about to turn 60 and only needs to take 5 minutes off his marathon time in order to qualify, as I did at the 2013-03-16 - B and A Marathon. Both are preparing to run the Pocono Marathon in two weeks.
Barry Smith offers to give me a ride home, but plans to shop at nearby RnJ Sports first. I thank him but decline, and proceed to trek the final four miles solo home, as I did the initial four today. He and the rest of the crew change clothes and have breakfast. I answer text messages from DW and from Stephanie Fonda on the way home, which provides a good excuse to walk for segments. I'm tired and take a couple of Succeed! electrolyte capsules. Most of today's nutrition has been mini Heath Bars, plus a few root beer barrels and an Atomic Fireball candy. When I get home I find my weight down about 3 lbs, to 139.5 according to the digital scale. The Runkeeper track file and the Garmin one agree to within ~2%.
^z - 2013-05-25