|The bridge arches high,|
Welcoming our weary feet
With wide open arms
... by Christina Caravoulias & ^z, for the Annapolis 10 Miler (see below).
A soccer ball rolls toward me but I hesitate to try to kick it back, lest I trip and fall on the track. I'm exhausting myself on a "ladder" at the old Blair High School, 1+2+3+4+3+2+1 laps with two minutes of walking and drinking to recover between each set. Warmth and humidity this morning make me contemplate quitting at several points along the way. My ladder pace averages a hair under 9 minutes/mile, not including walk breaks. I survive, thanks to thick clouds and an intermittent light breeze. Bob Dylan's "The Times, They Are a Changing" plays in my mind, from a Kaiser Permanente Thrive public-service announcement on TV at the laundromat last Sunday. (cf. BeYourOwnCause)
I've just started reading Kenny Moore's biography Bowerman and the Men of Oregon and as I run I contemplate a Bowermanism from the introduction, a speech the legendary coach gave to an incoming class of erstwhile athletes: "Take a primitive organism ... any weak, pitiful organism. Say a freshman. Make it lift, or jump or run. Let it rest. What happens? A little miracle. It gets a little better. It gets a little stronger or faster or more enduring. That's all training is. Stress. Recover. Improve."
(cf. BillBowerman and WithoutLimits; today's route: home to Dale Drive to Wayne to Blair HS, ~2.5 miles; return via Sligo Creek Trail and Forest Glen Road, ~3.5 miles; ladder splits: 2:04 + 4:08 + 6:37 + 9:00 + 7:16 + 4:42 + 2:07) - ^z
Under a thin crescent moon a rabbit races Christina and me. We jog; it alternates sprinting and watchful waiting. After twenty yards it finds us insufficient competition and veers into the underbrush near Sligo Creek. As the sky brightens Chris and I continue upstream, walking as we wilt in the oppressive humidity. We compare our sweat rates and declare that contest a dead heat (pun intended!). Our bug-bite rate is also equal, as we slap at real and imagined insects on our arms, heads, and legs. But Chris wins the final tiebreak, bruise count: she has lovely purple blotches on her triceps after a tough weightlifting session a few days ago, while I haven't bumped into the furniture recently enough to show damage. We go a block past the northern end of the trail, return to Sligo Dennis Ave. Park where we began, then walk/jog to Forest Glen and back. Good conversation makes for a pleasant final training session before the Annapolis 10 Miler next Sunday.
|Dawn floods Ray's Meadow:|
Doe and her fawns wade through fog
To drink from Rock Creek
It's closing day for our mortgage, so I get to stay home and take an early-morning jog. Outbound along RCT (mileposts 1.25-8) splits average ~11:45 min/mi, but downstream on the return trip I feel frisky enough to pick up the pace to ~10:45. My 13th mile is a freakishly fast 9:25, and fortuitously that's when a colleague from work, out cycling on Beach Drive, spies me and shouts ironically, "We should go in to the office once in a while!" Intermittently Jerry Garcia sings to me: "... Every silver lining's got a / Touch of grey / I will get by / I will get by / I will get by / I will survive ...".
Today's Annapolis 10 Miler is a new experience for me, a return to old stomping grounds for Christina. At dawn she picks me up at the Hillandale Safeway parking lot and we ride together to the Naval Academy stadium, to join several thousand close personal friends in line for the restrooms. Although the weather is warm and humid there's a decent breeze with enough clouds to protect us from the morning sun. Dozens of people greet Chris as we meander to the starting area. I take photos, drink up my bottle of homemade Zelectrolyte, and commence shuffling forward when the siren goes off at 0745. After ~6 minutes we're across the starting line and are able to jog. Chris's training has been ultra-low-mileage and frugal, so our goal is to avoid injury while staying ahead of the sweepers. We achieve both, comfortably, and finish in 2:08 chip-time. (splits = 11:24 + 11:47 + 12:03 + 13:25 + 14:11 + 12:56 + 15:17 + 12:00 + 12:17 + 11:47)
Along the way we see the Maryland Statehouse, cross and recross the Severn River Bridge, and tour a variety of quaint neighborhoods where residents cheer and spray us with water from their garden hoses. During mile 7 I snag a cool cup of beer from a cardtable set up by helpful spectators. I'm running the race incognito — "For National Security Reasons", as I explain to an observer. Cheerful USNA midshipmen and volunteers rake up discarded cups and offer encouragement as we approach the finish line. Afterwards we eat, drink, see still more comrades, applaud the winners as they get their awards, and eventually escape the traffic jam and cruise homeward: Mission Accomplished.
On Saturday morning the legacy of Hurricane Ernesto is intermittent light drizzle, with a sporadic breeze that shakes big drops down from the trees. Leaves mottle the pathways. I follow the same loop I did on 7 May 2006: from home to Rock Creek Trail, upstream to Randolph Road, east to Brookside Gardens, across Wheaton Regional Park, then down Sligo Creek Trail, returning to Che^z via Forest Glen Road. Today's cool conditions are wonderfully refreshing, with temperatures in the upper 60's (°F). For the first 90 minutes I feel frisky and maintain an ~11:15 pace; the upcoming JFK 50 doesn't seem quite so impossible. But on Randolph crossing the "Silver Spring Divide" from the Potomac to the Anacostia watershed I start to flag. I suck down a caffeinated Clif Shot plus some of my my homemade Zelectrolyte brew. That, plus a lifesaver and a root beer barrel, perk me up enough to do a sub-11 measured mile along Sligo. I spy a chipmunk, countless squirrels and robins, and several other runners out puddle-hopping.
Yesterday I venture into the remainder-shoe room at RnJ and as an experiment snag a deep-discount pair of Saucony Grid Hurricane 7's. They feel so good on my feetsies today that after I get home and shower I go back to RnJ and pick up another box of the same model, the last they have in my size. Geometric logic says that if I can do 24 comfortably with one pair, then given a second set I should be able to do 48 happy miles, eh? That's almost enough for the JFK 50! (^_^)
Alternate minutes of walking and jogging are my strategy from the starting line at the end of my driveway. The morning begins with temperatures in the upper 60's, rising into the upper 70's by early afternoon. During the first mile on the way to Rock Creek Trail my eye is caught by a Chinese fortune cookie slip of paper on the ground at the Walter Reed Annex bus stop. It reads, "You like participating in competitive sports." Totally false! At Meadowbrook Stables the horses are out and a big one's action inspires: Mare rolls on her back / Taking a cat-like dirt bath / Then stands up and shakes. After 2 hours I refill a bottle at the National Zoo water fountain and suck down a Power Gel packet. At the 2:30 point, Thompson Boat Center, I rinse my head under a hose and refill again. The 3 hour mark finds me homeward bound on the Capital Crescent Trail. I locate a battered Succeed! electrolyte capsule in my fanny pack and take it. Half an hour later I swallow another half-crushed salty-tasting one. Other consumption includes two sweat-stained root beer barrels, four similarly-soggy life-saver candies, and 40 oz. of Zelectrolyte lemonade-tea blend.
Countless holiday cyclists blast by me on the CCT, though I do manage to pass a couple of little girls pedaling tiny pink bikes with training wheels. Throughout the day my measured miles fall consistently in the 11:30-12:00 zone; add a few minutes for water stops and the net pace is almost exactly 12 min/mi. In Bethesda after 20 miles I douse my head, refill my bottle, and plod on. Crossing the high Rock Creek trestle I remember passing below it 4 hours earlier, looking upward, and trying to envision my future self there.