|"But you have to finish to win it!" Bull Run Run race director Anstr Davidson piles on the pressure, and the mystery, by telling me before the race that "something special" awaits at the end of my 10th BRR — he refuses to say what.|
When I cross the line almost 13 hours later, though, Anstr shakes my hand, shakes his head, and says: "We messed up!" (He actually uses a stronger verb.) Monogrammed swag, a felt jacket with my name and Tenth Finish, didn't get ordered. It arrives a few weeks later.
|Bluebells are out in full force this spring, and recent rains make for high streams and significant mud. Veteran ultrarunner James Moore hangs with me for the first several miles. We chat about our families; he and his wife Rebecca have been married about a dozen years longer than Paulette and I. (See 2017-01-01 - VHTRC Red Eye 50k for a photo of their, uh, tights.) As runners stack up and long lines form to cross the tributary creeks James banters, "There goes a 10 hour finish!" and later, "There goes an 11 hour finish!"|
A few miles later the route turns back at mile ~8.2, Cub Run. This year follows the "High Water Course", with extra mileage added at the southern end to make up for the early northern turnaround. The last time flooding required this change was in 2005, a year that might have been my first BRR but for a torn toe tendon ten days before the event.
Tim Stanley (22 finishes) and Bill Wandel (19 finishes) hang with me for a while. We discuss the history of the race and their experiences. Pretty flowers mandate a photo pause. Passing runners laugh.
|The Marina aid station at mile ~19 is decorated with feather boas. One attacks!|
Enthusiastic volunteers cheer runners onward, offer food and drink, refill bottles, and take photos. The inestimable Janet Choi is here. On the return trip, mile ~41, she gives me an icy-wet towel to help chill my feverish head. TY, JC!
On the way back after the Marina I pass Jeffrey Klemm, who is suffering from bad tummy troubles; I offer him sustenance but he declines. After the race he writes to share a blast-from-the-past story. Jeffrey wondered if he might be the oldest to finish BRR as his first 50 miler. He discovered that Joachim "Al" Grigull — who ran with me in Bull Run Run 2007 — won that honor with his initial 50 in 2004 at age 67. Joachim has since died; Jeff chatted with his widow, and discovered further "Small World" connections. Nice!
|The Wolf Run Shoals aid station, mile ~24 (outbound) and ~37 (returning), features a Halloween theme. Kind friend Kate Abbott, who ran BRR with me in 2009, 2010, and 2011, is working here. "Great to see you, Kate!"|
Deadfalls are a challenge this year, a few days after high winds and heavy rains. I in the background of this photo with a giant skull a big tree lies across the trail. Excelsior!
|An old Ford Fairlane lies abandoned on the "Do Loop" near mile 31. I've been here many times with friends during training runs — 2008-08-23 - Lost in the Woods, 2009-03-31 - Lost in the Woods Again, and most recently 2017-02-18 - Death by Do Loop with Stephanie.|
But during the BRR the route is well-marked, so even all alone for many miles there's no worry. And now, it's Selfie Time!
|A Nash Rambler rusts in the woods near mile ~32 of the BRR "Do Loop". Approaching it I catch up with Bill Smith. Surprise! — like me, he works for MITRE Corporation. "Any relation to Will D. Smith?" - "I wish!"|
We pause to take pics of each other with the giant Hello Kitty balloon. This year is the 25th running of the Bull Run Run. Happy Birthday!
|"I have a new Power Animal", I text a dear friend, and share this picture. "Her name is Hello Kitty!" Then the phone battery runs down and it's time to get serious. On the return trip to the finish line I push hard, make the cutoffs with several minutes to spare, and pass several folks who are having a rough day. Comrade Bill Smith perseveres and crosses the line just a few minutes past the 13 hour mark.|
The "Complex Roots of Unity" (a mathematics joke) wins the Slowest Team Award this year. I do my part to pull the average down; faster comrades Bruce Platter, Steve Gadd, and Ray Hunley all make it back far ahead of me.
|With 10 finishes I'm tied on the all-time list at 44th-67th place; by age among this year's entrants I'm in 19th-20th place. The finishing time is my 8th fastest, good enough for 264th among 285 who make it all the way. The ^z BRR streak of never-a-DNF continues — yay!|
(first segment of the total trackfile) - ^z - 2017-04-28
"Rabbit Number One!" Kristin spies the first Pimmit Hills spring bunny near Lemon Road Park. Low clouds in the east glow tangelo-pink as the sun rises and feet lead the Dawn Patrol on an unplanned loop. Cait tells of a super-slow Russian-theme dinner recently at the Cosmos Club, followed by a no-surprises talk from a potential politician. Kristin reports on a huge bald eagle perched in a tree near her home yesterday. We ponder long-run possibilities for upcoming months.
(trackfile) - ^z - 2017-04-26
|"German cheesecake!" Gayatri Datta describes her cooking project yesterday. On the way to meet her in Bethesda, dodge puddles by skyglow on the Capital Crescent Trail. Spires of the Mormon Temple gleam between bare tree trunks as seen from the trestle over Rock Creek. We loop into East Bethesda and return via NIH and the Trolley Trail.|
"30,000 - which is why I don't run it!" Don Libes tells how many people will do the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler tomorrow as we await Rebecca Rosenberg, whose car won't start this morning. Our walkabout includes a pause at the Hello Kitty Truck, where a line is already forming. Gayatri and Jerry Epstein dash around the block. When Rebecca arrives we proceed down the CCT to the Kenwood neighborhood.
|"You're OCD - and you have a photographic memory!" Jerry leads the gang along a fractal route to cover streets that we missed last weekend. Pink confetti rains down upon us as brisk winds blow through the cherry blossoms. After a beautiful meander it's time to head home.|
"Lawn owl!" The big kitschy bird sculpture is filled with sand to add weight, and lies abandoned on the roadside at mile 19 near the one-lane wooden bridge over the train tracks. Cross Training: carry it home and set it up by the front door!
(trackfile) - ^z - 2017-04-24
"Autopilot!" Cait explains why she's awaiting us at the wrong building. Today's the last Rapp Run, since folks are imminently moving out of that leased space. Three big deer stare at us as we cross a little park. Then: "Westward Ho!", from Tysons into Vienna past the Westwood Country Club. Squinting at a map suggests that Creek Crossing Road might get us back via a new neighborhood. Let's try it!
"There's the dragon!" Kristin spies the front-yard sculpture that we saw on our last exploration here (cf. 2016-09-02 - Tysons Exploration), almost seven months ago. A person in search of her lost cat gives us the phone number to call if we find it. Puddles on the ground and sharp breezes portend a cold front's arrival.
(trackfile) - ^z - 2017-04-21
"That hurts my eyes!" Kristin critiques the facade of a mini-mansion as the Dawn Patrol, in architecture-analytic mode, tours a new neighborhood. Moire-pattern lines radiating in all directions from the front door just don't work sometimes! Thick fog blankets Langley as we begin. Droplets backscatter in headlamp beams. Kerry leads us through Parkview Hills and River Oaks, past new construction and classic homes.
"My son had a crush on her daughter in kindergarten!" Dead-end streets are lined with castles and chalets in the neighborhood between the Beltway, the Scotts Run Nature Preserve, and the Potomac River. As morning brightens we marvel at some of the buildings and the views they command. A pink parasol protects a backpack at the end of a driveway while the student waits inside for the schoolbus to arrive. At the Live Oak Drive terminus of the Potomac Heritage Trail we ponder the 10-mile trek to Teddy Roosevelt Island. Maybe another day!
(trackfile) - ^z - 2017-04-19
|"They call me 'The Grim Reaper'!" Sako tells Rebecca Rosenberg and Ken Swab. A week ago she and her EMS crew save a life — yay, team! Today we do a space-filling ramble through the peak-bloom cherry-blossom-lined streets of Kenwood, pausing often to take photos.|
|"They should sell maps!" Neighborhood kids set up their table offering lemonade and coffee to passers-by — for a fee. Cars creep slowly under pink arches. I arrive early and, when attempting to put the car key into a pocket, discover my shorts are on backwards. Temps are far chillier than yesterday, with intermittent north winds, so while awaiting others I run back-and-forth along the CCT to stay warm (mile 1 @ 9.5 min/mi).|
|"Little Cherry Blossom" is what Sakurako's full name means; she reminisces about running the Imperial Palace Grounds in Tokyo. Rebecca continues her training for the Big Sur Marathon in a month. Ken recounts yesterday's antiquing-auction-odyssey into Pennsylvania, and last month's expedition into the slot canyons of Arizona for the 55k Antelope Canyon trail run.|
"NO PARKING Montgomery County Police" say signs along the lanes. Is this a law-enforcement-free Sanctuary Zone?
(trackfile) - ^z - 2017-04-17
"I love Leland because _____!" Gerald and Barry offer answers re the steeply seductive street, including, "... afterwards, everything else feels flat!" and "... the hills are worn down a little bit every time I run it!" (And it's Stanford's first name!) This morning I love Leland solo, en route to the rendezvous in downtown Bethesda. A single scrawny bunny hops across a front yard. Daffodils droop.
"Kerry? Perfect timing!" Smiling Dr K emerges from the underground parking lot stairwell just as I arrive. She and Cait meet Santa Steve, who gives them each a Princess Token. With Jerry and Barry we do a quick out-and-back on the Capital Crescent Trail, join Rebecca, and proceed to the Kenwood neighborhood for cherry blossom viewing. The trees are in full bloom, lovely. A small boy intent on his handheld Gameboy almost walks into us.
"Half price pizza!" Barry and I plan our traditional dinner, on sale since the local basketball team won with > 100 points yesterday. For bonus mileage Jerry leads the group further down the CCT to the DC line. Kerry pauses to swap her lucky knee brace from left to right leg. Barry shows us his neat new flip-belt. Cait discusses the traditions of Easter egg hiding in her family. Back in Bethesda we part ways.
"You must taste this chocolate croissant!" Kerry and I enjoy iced coffee and a snack at Paul, a fancy-nice bakery. Rebecca accompanies me most of the way home. She's ramping up mileage in preparation for the Big Sur Marathon in a month, a race Barry also plans to run. Best of luck to all!
(trackfile) - ^z - 2017-04-15
"They're marshmallows!" Dr Kerry is describing her cuddly-friends, cat Phoebe and dog Sid, each other's BFFs — not anything floating on the iced coffee that she's sipping. The Dawn Patrol pauses at Starbucks in downtown McLean, then meanders cross-country through Bryn Mawr Park while enjoying quiet conversation and a pink-lavender dawn, interspersed with shared laughter. Kristin's puppy Black&White is doing well, as is Cait's 3-year-old niece Riley, who recently requested a practice Easter Egg Hunt in preparation for the actual event.
"Mono was the best thing that happened to me!" Discussion turns to quick weight loss via illness. Norovirus (or something like it) hit me this week. Alas, it didn't do enough: I'm still in the high-140s, crossing into the low 150s, a dozen or so pounds above optimum. Sad!
(trackfile) - ^z - 2017-04-13
|"Hairy Woman!" At mile 4, Dr Stephanie suggests a Trail Name for me.|
"Uh, thank you, I think!" is my reply. We're trekking along the Metropolitan Branch Trail, enjoying a crisp morning. Coach Fonda listens to details of last weekend's "Crazy Desert Trail Run" (verdict: Tape the Feet next time!) and shares her Maryland Heights adventure on the same day: steep hill repeats that included a stumble-fall and a badly-rolled left ankle. By mile 20 the ankle is horridly swollen. Finally, two miles later, SF agrees to catch a ride back with me. Heal, rest, recover, improve — please!
"Could you take a photo of us?" I ask a passing runner, and hand her my phone. Flashback 3 years (cf. 2014-02-09 - Metropolitan Branch Trail with Amy and Stephanie), when during a 20 miler Amy and Stephanie sat on this very same painted wall for me to capture their image. Small world!
Via Trail Talk we solve the world's problems. Answers involve patience, trust, and friendship. How obvious!
(trackfile) - ^z - 2017-04-11
"Curse you!" Midway through today's run I meet Jennifer, visiting Austin from Baltimore. She admits that she recently set a personal best in the marathon there that is at least 10 minutes faster than my PB. Arggggh! She is studying her map to figure out the way back to her start. I help her get oriented, then try to keep up for a few blocks before abandoning the chase. She's just too fast!
Morning dawns cool. I run a lap (1:47) at LBJ High School, another at my junior high on the tiny track there, and one more (1:44) at my alma mater, Reagan High School. For some reason I feel a bit tired — maybe I need to up my mileage? (but see 2017-03-11 - Crazy Desert Trail Race
After the run, for the first time I try a salad with kale. When will the superpowers appear?
(trackfile) - ^z - 2017-04-09