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2014-09-17 - WOD Water Fountain

~10 miles @ ~11.7 min/mi

Two rabbits seen this morning. David leads Amber, Kerry, Kristin, and me on a new route, down Great Falls St 3+ miles to the W&OD Trail. We begin at the loading dock before dawn, a last-quarter moon high overhead, Sirius low in the east. At Mile 1 we pause, and by flashlight Kerry points out the ridge in the sidewalk that tripped her when last we came this way (2014-09-03 - McLean Dawn Trek). Sidewalks are intermittent after Haycock Rd, so we zigzag across the street to avoid cars. On the W&OD Trail bicycles with brilliant headlights zoom past and other small packs of runners trot ahead. A pink sunrise begins behind us.

We find a water fountain just before the wide "Citizens' Bridge" over Route 7. Testing the tap for the dog water bowl on the side, I trigger a pressure wave that blasts Kerry in the face as she's trying to get a drink. A pair of women run by, training for the Waterman half-Iron triathlon that David did last year. On Broad St we see a concrete statue of a man feeding pigs next to a Don Beyer car dealership. Kerry says, "There's a story associated with that!" I'm reminded of the movie Snatch, in which a murderous character warns "Never trust a man who keeps pigs" and offers a formula for how many pigs are needed to dispose of a body in a given interval of time.

After crossing I-66 on/off ramps and safely back to neighborhood streets, David leads us at Mile 6 on a woodsy natural-surface meander via Lemon Road Park. It's a connector path that he found when off-road biking. Kristin and David take spiderwebs in the face for those who follow. We curve through Olney Park and, back at Magarity Rd, non-members of the Compulsive Clan branch off with 8+ miles. To get our GPS readings past 10, however, Kristin and I do a lap and a half at the McLean HS track, which we have all to ourselves. Long shadows run in front of us at the western end of the oval. Runkeeper records route.

^z - 2014-10-02

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2014-09-15 - Benjamin St Mansions

~9.8 miles @ ~11.7 min/mi

"Jamie!" Kerry greets her neighbor, out walking three dogs at 0630 as we pass through Churchill Road Park. After a mile 4 pause to pet the pups — Huey the big yellow Lab, Tilly the medium-sized mutt, and Pete the tiny black mother-in-law's critter — we carry on. "You get extra points during a run when you see somebody you know," I tell Kerry.

David, Kristin, Kerry, and I set out in the gloom at 0545. I've forgotten my flashlight but David has one, and I activate the iPhone LED camera-beam as needed. Kristin and I spy a red and white glow flickering on the side of David's belt. It turns out to be car headlights and taillights, refracted through one of his water bottles. Ha! On the forest path the Drs K clear spider webs for David and me.

We cross Georgetown Pike and continue to Benjamin St, an extension of prior routes that Kerry and Kristin reconnoitered together on Friday while I "tapered" for Sunday's half-marathon. "There are some neat houses along here," Kristin warns me. Massive understatement! The mansions in this neighborhood are beautiful, diverse in architecture and framed by lovely yards and trees.

On the return trip I find a 1989 dime and a 2011 cent, both severely scratched, in the middle of Beverly Rd as we cross. Kristin and I add an endgame loop to get her GPS into double digits after David and Kerry branch off. We stretch and concur on the goodness of sunlight to take off post-run chills. Runkeeper records route.

^z - 2014-10-01

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2014-09-14 - MCRRC Parks Half Marathon 2014

13.1 miles @ ~8.1 min/mi

http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/PHM_2014_mark_schadley_z_mile_11.jpg1:45:25 for the Parks Half Marathon this year, thanks to cool weather and not-too-dumb pacing — it's a Personal Best for the distance, an improvement over the same course in 2013 by ~1 minute. The "secret", if any, is perhaps not-trying: running without expectations, in the moment, noticing the music of breath and footfall, softening into the experience, ...

Splits by watch and mile markers: 8:14 - 7:41 - 8:15 - 8:03 - 7:52 - {missed mile markers 6 & 7, total for 6-7-8 = 24:14} - 7:57 - 7:54 - 8:15 - 8:09 - 8:10 plus a final fraction in 0:43 — the Runkeeper iPhone GPS captures similar data.

Result: 303rd place of 941 male finishers, 8th of 45 men in the 60-64 year age group, behind 80 of 980 female finishers.

(happy hairy guy at mile 11 photo by Mark Schadley; finish line sprint picture by Arielle Reichmann)


(cf. 2008-09-14 - Parks Half Marathon Plus, 2009-09-13 - Double Parks Half Marathon, 2010-09-12 - Parks Half Marathon Plus, 2011-09-11 - Parks Half Marathon, 2013-09-08 - Parks Half Marathon 2013, ...) - ^z - 2014-09-29

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2014-09-10 - Hickory Hill

~10 miles @ ~11.6 min/mi

Thud! — not a noise one wants to hear on the trail in the dark. At this point, mile ~2 of the pre-dawn adventure, Kristin is leading us on the connector path through the woods. I'm following, and Kerry is shining a flashlight ahead of our feet so we can see the way. That leaves David in the gloom behind. He takes a tumble, fortunately not a bad one. We gather up water bottles that have popped off his belt-pack, check his scraped hand, and proceed.

Today's route passes "Hickory Hill", formerly the Kennedy estate, and then goes by Richard Cheney's modest-by-comparison mansion. Along Georgetown Pike we spot four big deer grazing in a mega-yard. We refrain from running a lap around the Langley HS track, and after a brief debate decide to take the long way back. Kerry invites us to pause at her lovely home, where we meet her husband Clay and make friends with the family's dog, retired racing greyhound "Can You Do This?", now just called "CanDo". The rest of the return trek is led by Kerry, and includes a a meander through a frisbee golf course. Runkeeper records route.

^z - 2014-09-27

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2014-09-08 - Monday McLean Meandering

~10 miles @ ~11.6 min/mi

"Bunny!" Amber spots the one and only of today's trek, on the path by Georgetown Pike. A scary-big anime-style full moon is setting at 0545 as Kristin and Kerry and I do a mile warm up loop around the office neighborhood. We cast about in the dark to find the return gap amongst thickets of brush behind the ballfield. At 0600 as dawn begins to pinken the clouds Amber joins us. Today puts her into new territory, a longer distance than she has ever run before. Beware! This way lies ultra-madness!

We take turns carrying the flashlight (to help each other avoid stumbles on the bumpy asphalt) and leading the group (to clear overnight spiderwebs across the way). Kerry reminisces about her daughter's elementary school friends, then spots one of them (now a teenager) on the corner awaiting a ride to high school. Amber gives me a German lesson, which I promptly forget. Kristin and I speculate about the causes of swollen fingers (electrolyte imbalance?). Back at our start the OCD Twins add a loop around the parking lot to get all GPS readings into double digits. Runkeeper records route.

^z - 2014-09-27

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2014-09-07 - Sunday CCT

~11.4 miles @ ~10 min/mi

"2:53!" Scott Koonce admits as he jogs alongside me, cooling down at the end of a dozen fast miles. I'm sprinting at race pace to keep up, and manage to pant out admiration for his marathon PB. Scott has also run Seneca Creek and other local races, all far faster than I can envision. "I think we're in different age groups!" I joke. He mentions reading about DC Boundary Stones in Zhurnaly; I tell him about The Ring, commiserate with his recent injuries, and after half a mile send him on ahead as I slow to a sustainable trot on the way to a downtown Bethesda meet-up with Barry Smith, Ken Swab, and Rebecca Rosenberg. The morning is delightfully cool and low-humidity, in bold contrast to yesterday's pre-cold-front conditions that they ran in. Groups of First Time Marathon folks are doing 20 mile treks. "Jackie" chats with me, and I wish her luck as we go through the tunnel under Wisconsin Av.

After a pause for all of the Usual Suspects to arrive, the Gang of Four heads east along the Capital Crescent Trail into the rising sun. Banter ensues, including debates over inspirational Teddy Roosevelt quotations, the 1912 Presidential campaign, and proper usage of Comparative vs Superlative ("So what do you call the Middle Child?"). There's also commentary on yesterday's birthday (RR), wedding anniversary (^z), and Tom Green's sad DNF at Wasatch. During the return trek I branch off to take a slightly roundabout way home via Rock Creek Trail, pushing hard to get nicer splits for the GPS trackfile and thinking about next Sunday's half marathon down this path. Runkeeper captures the data.

^z - 2014-09-25

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2014-09-05 - WOD Trail Vienna Ramble

~12 miles @ ~11.9 min/mi

"Z-Man!" Paul Ammann greets me as he runs along the W&OD Trail in Vienna. David, Kerry, Kristin, and I have already done almost half a dozen miles together, starting before sunrise at the Vienna Community Center, and I've already told the story of how Paul paused for Oktoberfest beer during the Andiamo race near this very point some years ago, then caught up and passed me a few miles later. (2008-10-04 - Andiamo 2008) Hydration is crucial!

Today is a long run experiment for the office gang, out to Hunter Mill Rd and back, then east past the Beltway before returning. A big 4-point buck dashes across the path just in front of us, and Kristin has to hold her side from laughing as Kerry wonders what she would tell her staff meeting if the deer knocked her down, just two days after her tumble running in McLean. Several miles later two does nibble in back yards by the trail. We pause to admire a giant spiderweb that Kerry spots. Kristin treats us to coffee at Whole Foods after our cooldown. Artwork on the new Tysons Corner metro station glitters in the sunlight on the drive back to the office. Runkeeper records the data.

^z - 2014-09-23

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2014-09-03 - McLean Dawn Trek

~7 miles @ ~12 min/mi

"Ouch!" Kerry takes a nasty tumble in the dark as we trot along Great Falls Rd, at mile 1 of a Wednesday dawn urban adventure run. Kristin tries to catch her, but there isn't time. David and I join Kristin to huddle around Kerry as she does a quick self-assessment and decides to carry on. We wash dirt off the wounds with ice water from our bottles. When I ask if she has any Hello Kitty band-aids at home to put on the scrapes, Kerry (who has two teen-agers) says, "No, but I've got some non-office-safe bandages with Bad Words on them!" The flashlight comes out for the next couple of miles, insurance against a repeat performance. I demonstrate how blood doesn't show up in the red night-vision LED beam.

It's a hyper-humid morning loop, thankfully with minimal further excitement. Kerry reports on a weekend at Virginia Beach, where crowds gathered for a big race through the town. David, wearing his hot-pepper-themed Culpepper Triathlon shirt, dreads a day of marathon meetings. Kristin & I blast down a steep hill on Magarity Rd and decide not to run back up it (today!). We extend the homeward journey to get mileage on all GPS units safely past 7. Runkeeper records route and pace.

^z - 2014-09-??

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2014-09-01 - McLean HS Track 10x400m Speedwork

~4 miles @ ~10.1 min/mi

"3:02!" admits Craig Allen when I pressure him to reveal his marathon PB. He's cruising at what looks like an effortless sub-9 min/mi pace at the McLean High School track, lapping me as I struggle through ten 400m intervals. "But that was 36 years ago!" he adds. We introduce ourselves and chat in bursts about upcoming race plans. Crag is looking for something in October; I suggest Richmond. In turn he recommends the Comrades ultramarathon in South Africa, which he confesses to have done once.

Thunder rumbles as I arrive at the track, a short jog from where DD has a violin lesson this afternoon. Raindrops pelt down on aluminum bleachers, demonstrating the shot noise phenomenon. Ten laps are tough, splits 1:46 - 1:40 - 1:43 - 1:45 - 1:44 - 1:45 - 1:44 - 1:41 - 1:42 - 1:43 ... plus ~2 minutes of half-lap recovery walk between each. After the last one I try — and fail — to do a pull-up on the bar nearby. If only I had biceps like the McLean HS mascot "Highlander"! Runkeeper shows the map and its version of mile times.

^z - 2014-09-21

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2014-08-30 - DNF The Ring

~40 miles @ ~22 min/mi

http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/The_Ring_2014_mile_13_z.jpgThe Ring — the Massanutten Trail 71 mile loop — again ends for me at mile 40, as in my 2011-09-03 - DNF The Ring experience. I miss the 9:30pm cutoff at Moreland Gap by half an hour.

And it's all good! As I tell friends, "I fail to achieve my one goal, which is to have no goals!"

Maybe that's the value of focusing on "Possibilities, not Expectations" (PnE), of appreciating experience precisely as it is, of not hoping things were otherwise than they are, and of not obsessing over plans that don't work out.

These first two photos are from the first aid station, mile ~13 at Milford Gap. The Massanutten Trail is marked with orange blazes.

Today brings back great memories of past runs and hikes along various segments of the trail — especially 2008-01-20 - Massanutten Mountain South Training Run and 2009-01-04 - Massanutten Mountain Mayhem with Caren Jew. In my first attempt, 2009-09-05 - One Third of The Ring with Kate Abbott, bad blisters and a fall stop us at mile 25.

http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/The_Ring_2014_mile_16_Massanutten_butterfly.jpgA "Red-spotted Purple" butterfly perches on a leaf at mile ~16. Today also features ants, spiders, mushrooms, and a glimpse of what was perhaps a black bear crashing through the underbrush 100 meters away, in Duncan Hollow, mile ~26.

At the Aid Stations and in the race along the way are a bunch of super-nice folks, including:

Jackie Ong — who planned to run with me in the night but had to drop at mile 35, bad blisters and exhaustion

Leonard Martin — cheerful, steady, funny, experienced

Rachel DuBois — from North Carolina; she lives within 10 minutes of the Umstead 100 miler course where she did her first 100 earlier this year, through-hiked the Appalachian Trail in the 90's, has daughters ages 6 and 13, is fast on the trail and in the dark

David Snipes — suffering today, when I meet him sitting on a rock in the Little Crease notch and he tells me me to pass word at the next aid station that he is dropping and hiking down to the road

Jeff Gura — a friendly gentleman from Potomac, who knows me from MCRRC races

Sean Lawler — suffering today from vertigo, which forces him to drop at mile 25; he's the one who recognized me and said "hi" as a colleague and I were leaving a business meeting a few months ago; he ran the Catoctin 50k last month and finished half an hour ahead of me there

Behind me in this mile ~18 image is the Fort Valley, farmland between the pair of Massanutten Mountain ridges.

Today's trek features some major learning experiences:

running out of water between aid stations (miles 13, 25, 34) — even though I carry three big bottles (and chug a full quart bottle (!) of Gatorade at 0630 before the 7am start!) and consume copious amounts of watermelon and soda at every opportunity. Can I somehow carry even MORE water?

slowing down radically in the dark (to ~30 min/mi) — and still taking several small falls (unlike in the daytime), and being totally unable to keep up with Leonard & Rachel at night

having something to wipe one's face with — esp. on hot/humid days, with sunscreen washing into eyes; perhaps a small towel, washcloth, or handkerchief would help?

mosquito netting — Jackie Ong wears a veil to keep gnats out, and at first I don't recognize her when I catch up to her at mile ~28. Rachel DuBois, with us for some miles there, says, "I'll give you $50 for it!" Smiling, Jackie refuses.

trekking poles for long hikes on rocks — Rachel carries two, Leonard one, and Jackie repeatedly wishes she had brought hers.

carrying a plastic sandwich bag — to fill with cookies or other treats at aid stations, and to nibble from in subsequent miles

http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/The_Ring_2014_mile_20_z_south_fork_Shenandoah_River.jpgIn the background here is the South Fork of the Shenandoah River, at mile ~20.

Other observations today include:

remembering to "notice the music" — wind in the trees, birds, distant train whistles, feet on the trail, rattle of a rock that I bump off the narrow path when it tumbles down the cliffside (when that happens, think, "Lucky that's not me!")

deliberately touching the trees and rocks — and feeling the connection with the world, as a good friend suggests trying (esp. after dark!)

fierce clouds of gnats between miles 25 and 35 — Leonard Martin says he missed getting a superb photo, dozens of tiny flies forming a halo around a backpacker's head in the sunbeams

climbing the über-steep Waterfall Mountain ahead of Jackie & Leonard, wondering if there should be a defibrillator at every switchback

joking with Leonard, mile ~36 — about following behind him to admire his well-defined calf muscles. I say, "That's why you carry the trekking pole: to fight off the ladies who swarm around you!"

getting a ride back to my car from Moreland Gap (mile 40.7) where I drop, with Caroline Williams (who also takes Tony Escobar and a hilariously foul-mouthed lady runner)

stopping to stay alert on the way home 11pm-1am — in Front Royal to get a chocolate "shake" at a McDonalds drive-through window, and in Haymarket to buy a bag of Corn Nuts at the COLDEST Sheetz one could imagine

weighing 4 lbs less when I get home than when I left home at 4:30am on Saturday morning

Bottom line happy outcomes from The Ring in 2014:

  • GOOD minimization of blisters and other significant foot issues — I wear two pairs of socks inside old loose shoes and that seems to work
  • GOOD absence of chafing, even without doing anything to deter it
  • GOOD improvement in "trail sense", ability to figure out which way to go even in the dark and in areas where blazes are far apart
  • GOOD progress in handling nightime running (mostly walking) alone — helped by extra-bright headlamp and the "notice the music" mantra, etc.
  • GOOD avoidance of double-vision and vertigo problems — I don't wear reading glasses for ~12 hours pre-race, and I take Succeed! electrolyte capsules every hour or so, drink as much as possible, etc.

So as always, It's All Good!

^z - 2014-09-18

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