|"Kids, let the hikers through!" says a father. At mile ~19 Ken Swab and I overtake a family out for a stroll near Turkey Run Park and yes, we're mostly hiking now. Our ramble through the lovely woods is fun and uneventful — other than missing turns and going off-course briefly for bonus mileage at several places. No problem!|
"Thank you, but not right now!" is what I should have said at mile ~25 when offered two jalapeño quesadillas by a kind volunteer at the Chain Bridge aid station. Instead, every quarter mile thereafter as my digestive system, uh, complains, poor Ken hears a voice say "Quesadilla!"
Nonetheless, it's all good. We finish in about 9.5 hours. Graffiti underneath bridges is bright, weather is near-perfect, terrain is beautiful, and people we meet along the way are splendid. As usual!
(trackfile; cf. Potomac Heritage 50k 2007, 2009-11-01 - Potomac Heritage 50k 2009, 2010-11-07 - Potomac Heritage 50k + Potomac Heritage Trail 50k 2010, and 2014-11-02 - Potomac Heritage 50k, 2015-11-08 - Potomac Heritage 50k, and Ken Swab's report, ...) - ^z - 2016-12-05
"Mark, does the term 'Batsh*t Crazy' mean anything to you?" Sara Crum is in town for a quick work-visit, and gently critiques my training regime. She and Gayatri set out early along Rock Creek Trail, logging some sunrise miles before the rendezvous with Rebecca, Barry, and Ken. Even Apple's iPhone Siri's language is surprisingly earthy today; she takes dictation for a text-message and mistranscribes "fog on the meadow" with the F-word instead of "fog". Hmmmmm!
"For the past six weeks our front door has been a sheet of plywood nailed over the opening!" Home improvement sometimes encounters stress-provoking delays. Likewise bedfellows and neighbors sometimes diverge in their politics. Trail Talk therapy is helpful in treating that!
It's a brisk morning, frosty grass, car thermometer 36 F. Deer watch, then retreat. Birds take wing with loud calls. Leaves are changing color and falling along the trail. Gayatri tells of her recent trip to India and of progress for her suicide-prevention foundation. New friend Andrea (stress the first syllable!) introduces herself, trots down Rock Creek Trail with the gang, and instantly fits in. She runs half-marathons, has a teenage daughter and a younger son. We chat about families, share anecdotes, commiserate re common frustrations, pause for group photos, and hope to meet again soon!
(trackfile) - ^z - 2016-12-03
"DFL! DFL! DFL!" Results have been posted for the 2016 Marine Corps Marathon team competition, and the Dawn Patrol captures Last Place honors not just in its own category but across all entries. Yay!
"Normal people ramp up their mileage, peak, taper, race, then must recover. WE can do a marathon or 50k any time we want!" Kristin and Kerry commence comparing calendars, seeking optimal dates to run long. Cait unembargoes Great News: a wedding is in her near future! We brainstorm plans and priorities. Her attitude is perfect: "That day isn't important - it's all that comes after!"
We take a wrong turn, loop through McLean Manor, and eventually find our way to Starbucks where Kerry explains how to place a proper order. (Flat white? Long black? Toto, we're not in Australia anymore!) Trail talk concerns chafing in delicate locations and ways to deal with it.
(trackfile) - ^z - 2016-12-01
"That's WONDERFUL!" The Dawn Patrol shares awesome-happy news (still embargoed) — and since engineers are involved discussions inevitably include system process diagrams, critical path methods, the simplex algorithm, decision criteria, optimal scheduling, and rearrangement of virtual sticky-notes ... all accompanied by Halloween jack-o-lantern-sized smiles. Kristin and I shake out twinges after Sunday's Marine Corps Marathon. Cait stretches the legs before a Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas half marathon 11 days in her future. What a fine morning!
"You look like ninjas!" Apparently it's Black Pajama Day for the exercise group at the library parking lot. We ramble through Tysons Pimmit Park cautiously, since one of us forgot his flashlight. Pause to peer northward at 0625 but spy no Iridium satellite flare through thick clouds. Rabbit count = 1.
(trackfile) - ^z - 2016-11-29
"Peaceful, easy feeling" — lyric for the solo jog from home to Rosslyn. The DC Metro system doesn't open early enough to reach year's Marine Corps Marathon start in time and parking costs too much, so why not go on foot? Leaving home at 0430 makes for a calm journey, with one rabbit sighting and one portajohn visit at a convenient construction site on the way. In Georgetown young Marines set up aid stations, direct traffic, and check their cellphones. Drs Kerry and Kristin arrive at the rendezvous point as planned and all's well for the Dawn Patrol's second MCM together!
(trackfile) - ^z - 2016-11-26
|"Just another long run for the Dawn Patrol!"|
No drama today: the second marathon for Dr Kristin and Dr Kerry proceeds uneventfully — if "uneventfully" means a comfortable ~6:06 result, ~15 minutes faster than last year in spite of near-record heat and high humidity. Alas, only one unicorn appears (a rainbow-maned balloon creature).
As planned The Team meets at 0645 in Rosslyn at the Metro and strolls a mile or so to the starting area. Our training has been good, a gradual ramp-up of distance combined with sedulous injury avoidance and careful experimentation with nutrition, hydration, electrolyte balance, and garb during long runs. We try not to cling to goals, and vow to accept whatever the day brings.
|"It's a kilt, not a skirt!" says the fellow standing near us before the race begins, when asked whether he's "full regimental". His minimalism also extends to running barefoot. Wow!|
"Now we're getting serious!" Kristin observes when Kerry doffs her outer layer as the day begins to warm. At mile ~5, where Key Bridge enters Georgetown in DC, ultra-comrade Dr Stephanie meets us.
"Don't believe anything that we say about each other!" both Stephanie and I warn. A dozen miles of cheerful-frank Trail Talk ensues. We spy Dr Betty Smith at mile ~6 and chat with her; she's still awesome-strong in her mid-70s. Wow!
"Sir, you can do this!" a young lady tells me as she passes us during a walk break. Stephanie takes umbrage and has to be restrained from telling the woman, "He's an ultrarunner — this is nothing!" She also refrains from mentioning her 11 mile scamper to the race this morning from her home in Maryland, and my pre-dawn odyssey. At the National Mall Dr Stephanie branches off to trot back to her home. Wow!
|"No photos, please — we're doing drugs!" With the US Capitol in the background a cameraman captures us sharing capsules of blue naproxen sodium gel ("Aleve") and white electrolyte powder ("Succeed!"). Chemistry works — we reach the critical 14th Street Bridge with plenty of time to spare.|
Midway across the Potomac K&K reenact their Jersey barrier stretch from last year (see 2015-10-25 - Marine Corps Marathon). We play leapfrog with other runners, repeatedly passing and being passed by pair of ladies in bright tights we saw at the Navy-Air Force Half Marathon in September.
"BEAST MODE: ON!" says a spectator's sign. Beard jokes abound, as does current Presidential-political humor. Costumed racers suffer from the heat but persevere.
This year there's plenty of swag for finishers: a massive medal, boxes of food, bananas, water/Gatorade. En route I pick up a dozen unopened energy gel packets from the road — so many that my shorts start to fall down from the extra weight in their pockets. Roadside trash cans and midden heaps yield several nearly-new headbands, neck-scarves, and arm-warmer sleeves. Woot!
"We could still run some more!" is the verdict at the finish line.
(trackfile) - ^z - 2016-11-27
"Jefferson? He wasn't anywhere CLOSE to Adams!" says Dr Mary, hiking along the Cabin John Stream Valley Trail. We debate genius versus flaw, success versus circumstance. Society has come a long way, has a long way yet to go. A blue jay flits across the path to hide in a stand of bamboo. Above the creek a Frank Lloyd Wright house tempts someone into bushwhacking for a photo op. Polite cyclists and off-leash dogs scoot past.
"Don't pulverize your femur!", wisdom re accident avoidance on the steep hills, rocky and rooty. A two-point buck poses for the camera. Post-trek lunch at nearby Attman's Deli more than cancels out calories burned, alas.
(trackfile) - ^z - 2016-11-24
"Curse you, Autocorrect!" My text-message to Caitlin, synchronizing arrival for today's Dawn Patrol run, has a highly unprofessional typo. She forgives: "Lol, I needed a good laugh today! Thank you :)" We both recall worse mistakes, including embarrassing texts sent inadvertently to the wrong recipient. Mom, please ignore!
A Halloween yard near mile 3 features Dia de los Muertos skull, Despicable Me minion, ghostly totem pole, trick-or-treating dog, Hello Kitty witch, plus yet-to-be-inflated creatures including a giant dragon-snake. Cait's hip flexors and my right ankle are iffy but tolerable. Gusty winds make 50-degree temps feel brisk. The old moon rises next to Jupiter, blurred by low haze. Trail talk includes process flow diagrams for cat-box systems engineering.
(trackfile) - ^z - 2016-11-24
"Fox!" It's small and definitely red, with bushy tail and thick coat to insulate against pre-dawn frost. By headlamp and flashlight Kerry and Kristin identify the creature lurking by Anderson Road. It flees as we near, circles back behind us, then runs ahead to dig through grass in search of something. Perhaps a mouse?
"The few, the proud!" Hardy exercisers gather in the library parking lot. A dozen Halloween lawn decorations lie deflated, dark lumps on the grass at the corner of Storm and Pimmit. Front doors feature DIY ghosts with paper-plate eyes. Other houses show generic seasonal displays, red and green lights juxtaposed with pumpkins and cobwebs. A chilly dog watches us as it awaits readmission to its home. A rabbit scoots across a yard, and several blocks later a gray cat crosses the road. Today's trot is the last planned this week. Fingers-crossed: no major injury or illness before this Sunday's Marine Corps Marathon!
(trackfile) - ^z - 2016-11-22
PRIVATE ROAD - NO TRESPASSING, says the sign at the entrance to Hickory Hill Avenue. "Do you think that means us?" someone asks. "No!" is the obvious answer. It's terra incognita, one of the few lanes in McLean that the Dawn Patrol has yet to investigate. Kerry and I follow the gravel street past lovely homes to a dead-end brushy slope. Half a mile later we're looking up from the bottom of that same hillside as we trot along a creek-side path through the woods. Small world!
On aptly-named Dead Run Drive a life-sized skeleton holds the leash of an equally bony dog. Three deer munch the grass beside the central library and eye us fearlessly as we pass close by. Within two blocks of our finish line the GPS shows us just above 12 min/mi pace. "Final sprint - start your kick now - GO!".
(trackfile) - ^z - 2016-11-22