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Deadfall Day

A gibbous moon hides her face behind the clouds in the west, as Jupiter glitters bright above her. This Friday is a long run day: I meet Caren Jew at 4:45am, park my car at Riley's Lock on the Potomac, and ride up Seneca Creek with her, pre-positioning jugs of water and bundles of munchies where the trail crosses Berryville Rd, Black Rock Rd, Riffle Ford Rd, and Clopper Rd. By Caren's headlights we spy two raccoons and two foxes. Her car radio plays "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet" (BTO) and "Wild Night" (John Mellencamp, after Van Morrison).

Then, a mini-tragedy: after our last aid-station drop, I discover that I've left my cellphone behind in my car — and we need it, since it's the only device holding comrade Mary Ewell's number. Without the phone our rendezvous plans with Mary will surely fall through. Caren makes the correrct command decision and pilots us back to Riley's Lock, where I fetch my forgotten phone. Then it's upstream once more. We start running an hour later than planned at Rt 355 — a delay that, 17 miles later, will cost Caren half a dozen miles of her goal today. I'm sorry — mea culpa.

And yet, in spite of my snafu it's still a wonderful run for us all. Further notes on it, and other recent excursions, follow ...

2008-06-11 - Rickety Ladder Speedwork

4+ miles @ ~10 min/mi

A new assignment has me working slightly late at the office, so when I get home today I suggest that we get carry-out food for dinner ... and on the drive to the restaurant pick-up I stop at the Silver Spring International Middle School track for a bit of speedwork. Robin comes along, and we find the field active but not too crowded. I decide to do a "ladder", 1 lap, then 2, 3, and 4, then retreating back down 3, 2, and 1, with a half-lap ~2 minute recovery between each. My splits are 1:56 + 3:50 + 5:45 + 7:43 + 6:04 + 4:05 + 1:53, with Robin pacing me on that last brisk quarter mile. I'm quite tired by the middle of the ladder as slowing times reveal during the later segments.

(correlates: 2007-08-31 - Lap, Dog, 2006-12-23 - Wheaton and Back, 2004-08-04 - Eight Eight-Eighties, ...)

2008-06-14 - Seneca Creek Sixteen

16 miles @ ~17 min/mi

Caren Jew and I meet at 0530 at Rt 355 and Seneca Creek, then head north past Watkins Mill Rd, Brink Rd, and Huntmaster Rd, to Watkins Rd. Caren has left water and goodies at several places on the way, and we pause at each to refuel. The woods are lovely and our total time is 4:27 out and back. On the way we meet MCRRC comrades Mike & Gina Acuña and chat with them. Sharp-eyed Caren spots owls and shows me a tiny brown toad by the path; we also see seven big deer, a couple of whom exhibit small antler-bump on their foreheads. There are lots of folks on the trail during our return trip, including dog-walkers, hikers, and offroad bikers.

(correlates: 2008-07-20 - Sweet and Sweaty Seneca Sixteen Sunday, Migraine Visions, Angus Phillips, ...)

2008-06-15 - CCT Rambles

~4.7 miles @ ~13 min/mi + 6 miles @ 11.3 min/mi

Christina Caravoulias calls me the evening before: her friend Julie Tresp wants to run on the Capital Crescent Trail at 6am Saurday morning. I'm happy to join her, as is comrade Cara Marie Manlandro. We meet at the mile ~3.3 parking lot and jog eastward to the Rock Creek Trestle (CCT mile 1.0) and back, pausing to view Rock Creek from the trestle observation platforms. Julie and CM and I chat about about deer hazards, summer running, how Julie used to race more than 100 times/year, and our various injuries and ailments. (Julie's birthday is looming next week, on the 22nd — happy birthday, Ma'am!) Back at the parking lot we see Ken Swab & then Emaad Burki. Julie and CM have to go, but I stay to chat and then accompany K&E. As we prepare to start, a pack of fast young lady runners blast by and are soon out of sight — fortunately for us, since if we tried to keep up with them we would soon be doomed! We jog from CCT milepost 3.5 to the water fountain at milepost 6.5 and back; our splits are 11:10 + 11:17 + 11:00 + 12:07 + 12:15 + 10:53. On the way we find a Kashi protein bar, apparently sealed, on the ground. I shamelessly pick it up and share it with K&E at the end of our journey. As usual, the CCT features hordes of cyclists, pram-pushers, walkers, joggers, inline skaters, etc. Patti Rich jogs by as we're returning; Jim Rich meets us at the water fountain while we're recovering and shows off his heart monitor and GPS gear.

(correlates: PsychologicalUndead, 2007-09-08 - Mall Rats, 2008-08-17 - CM on the CCT, ...)

2008-06-18 - Kensington Wheaton Silgo Loop

9+ miles @ ~11 min/mi

Before I leave home at 0645 Paulette shows me the map of where water supplies may be contaminated due to the pipe break near Lake Bernard Frank; I promise not to drink in Wheaton, where the water is rumored to be risky. Fountains in Kensington and along Sligo Creek should be fine, however, and today's lower temperatures and dewpoints make an incredible difference! An empty robin's egg lies on the path near where I join Rock Creek Trail at the portajohn (RCT mile 2.3) where, overhydrated, I pause. A few miles down the road I meet a friendly Kensington runner pushing her baby carriage who catches up with me after pausing to give her daughter a drink. She's doing 2 miles today, and I recommend Saturday's "Run for Roses" where I'll be a volunteer. We part ways and I proceed up Kensington Pkwy to the railroad station, cross the tracks cautiously, refill my bottle at the small park near Plyers Mill Rd and St Paul St, and continue along University Blvd to arrive in Wheaton at the 1 hour mark. A Queen of Spades lies on the dirt by the sidewalk — is it an omen? I turn onto Sligo Creek Trail and trot briskly downstream, with a measured mile of 10:16 past dogs, kids, and walking couples. Then it's home via Forest Glen Rd.

(correlates: OnePerScore, RemembranceDay, 2007-09-17 - Artemesia Dusk, ...)

2008-06-20 - Blowdown Town

~23 miles @ ~18 min/mi

At 6:32am Caren and I commence our run this morning on the Seneca Creek Greenway Trail at Md-355 — an hour later than we had planned because of my misplaced phone. We trot downstream, pausing about once every mile to circumnavigate freshly fallen trees that block our path; the heavy rains and high winds of a few days ago resulted in numerous deadfalls. At Clopper Rd we stop at Caren's first "aid station" to refuel, then continue into Seneca Creek State Park. Our loop around Clopper Lake takes us past the aroma of burning marijuana at the Longdraft Rd end of the waters. Caren spots a great blue heron near us; it takes flight to perch on the opposite side of the lake until we approach it there, whereupon it flies back to its starting point again. White-tailed deer, several with small horn-bumps developing on their brows, eye us cautiously and retreat.

Caren and I reminisce along the way about SCGT marathons of years past, including our first one together in 2006 — Caren's first trail marathon and, technically, her first ultra since the course is significantly longer than 26.2 miles. A lady runner zips out from a side trail and soon races out of sight in front of us. Caren knows her from MCRRC events, and we get to greet her again as she returns speedily to meet us ten minutes later. We pause to feast at Riffle Ford Rd aid stop, then proceed. I phone Mary Ewell to confirm our new schedule, and soon we meet her coming up the trail toward us. We continue together to Black Rock Mill and refuel from Caren's cache there.

Then up a steep slope we climb to join the Schaeffer Farms white-blazed trail for a 3.5 mile loop. Numerous off-road bikers maneuver past us. Mary, fresh and cheerful, cruises ahead as Caren and I plod happily behind her. As we finish our circuit we see a kid's bicycle lodged up in a tree, the landmark that reminds us to head back down the hillside to Black Rock Mill. Caren and I have now finished more than 15 miles, and our late start comes back to haunt us: Caren has to return to her family by 2pm, and there's no way for her to continue on to my car within that time limit. Regretfully but wisely she phones her husband Walter and arranges for him to pick her up at Darnestown Rd, the next major intersection of the trail and civilization. I kick myself for having forgotten my phone half a dozen hours earlier and costing Caren her planned 22+ mile day.

But Caren accepts my apologies and forgives me, as only good friends can do. Mary and I proceed onward, past more blowdowns along the relatively flatter parts of the trail. We do a pair of fifteen-minute "tempo runs", as prescribed for Mary by her coach, at 10-12 min/mi pace. We reach Berryville Rd, the first aid station set up this morning, and thank Caren for her foresight since both Mary and I are out of water and are desperate at this point. My ankles are each bruised from my clumsily kicking them with my own other feet. Mary's knees are blooded after a nasty fall she took back in Schaeffer Farms. But onward we go, over the big hill and down again. We walk the last half mile to my car and I stop my watch after seven hours, a net pace of ~18 min/mi over ~23 miles, including pleasant pauses at Caren's aid stations. Mary's total mileage is 10+, and Caren's is 17+.

Times from my watch, distances from Wayne Carson's GPS measurements:

split mileage location
1:053.6 miles Clopper Rd aid station + Seneca Creek State Park Lakeside Trail
0:573.4Clopper Lake loop
0:291.3Riffle Ford Rd aid station
0:402.6Germantown Rd (Rt 118)
0:261.5Black Rock Rd
0:10- - -aid station break at Black Rock Mill
0:56~3.5around White Trail at Schaeffer Farms
0:332.4aid station break + Darnestown Rd (Rt 28)
0:564.1Berryville Rd
0:512.2Seneca Rd + Rileys Lock

(correlates: Winter Wardrobe, 2007-09-09 - Watkins Ramble and Evening Speedwork, Deadfall Day, ...)

2008-06-22 - Rock Creek Park Loop

5+ miles @ ~11.5 min/mi

A bit before 6am on Sunday morning Cara Marie meets me at Boundary Bridge. We set off southward as I chatter like a chipmunk, giving my 2¢ commentary on running lessons-learned of all sorts. By my watch we're 22:16 for the measured 2 miles down Beach Dr to the speed-limit sign after Bingham Road, 22:26 back to our cars (via Bingham Rd, the bikepath alongside Oregon Av, Wise Rd, and Western Ridge Trail). Then it's another 15:24 for an out-and-back along the Valley Trail, a total of an hour for 5+ solid miles — whee!

(correlates: SuVexation, 2008-07-20 - Sweet and Sweaty Seneca Sixteen Sunday, CoherentInterference, ...)

2008-06-24 - Descending at Lake Artemesia

3+ miles @ ~10 min/mi

CM and I rendezvous at parking lot XX1 on the UM campus near Paint Branch Trail, shortly before 6pm. Her pace plan is what she calls "Descending": start off slow and then accelerate for three miles. (I would have called that "Ascending"!) The weather is warm but not too humid, with an intermittent nice breeze. We walk to milepost 1.5 behind an engineering building and commence the fun downstream, with a 10:49 mile, too fast as usual. After going a fractional mile to join the Lake Artemesia loop we find ourselves blasting along counterclockwise while fast young buff runners nevertheless pass us. Maybe they lure us into our second mile-plus at what my watch and the painted markers suggest was 9:16(!) pace. In spite of pushing hard on the trip back upstream we can only make the last mile in 9:27. As our pulses race I think of Mark Anthony's lines, "My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar, And I must pause till it come back to me." (Julius Caesar, act III, scene ii) We walk half a dozen minutes to recover, then agree that we've gotta try it again — some day! — with better pace control next time.

(correlates: SituationalStrategy, 2007-09-17 - Artemesia Dusk, PleasantSurprises, ...)

(cf. Comfortably Numb (2008-03-13), Sunrise Service at Seneca Creek (2008-03-24), Sharp Focus (2008-04-30), Ducky Rock Creek Trail (2008-05-12), Catoctin Trail Trek (2008-05-19), Game SET Match (2008-05-27), Barred Owls (2008-06-10), ...) - ^z - 2008-06-27

(correlates: Seven Minute Mile, EducationOfTheYouth, 2004-03-10 - Rock Creek Trail, NIH, Georgetown Branch, ...)