A soggy family of panda dolls perch within the bamboo by Great Falls St. Rain pauses, resumes, then stops. Water droplets cling to the tips of pine needles like jewels. "Now I know why you wear a cap!" I tell Kerry as we run under low-hanging branches and my head gets wet. Kristin points out a chipmunk; I spy a rabbit. Nobody can decide what route to venture along, so we random-walk meander over segments of prior treks, revisit old landmarks, enjoy the cool morning, and pause at a previously unseen Taco Bell to test the doors (not yet unlocked). After 10+ miles we escort Kerry back to her car and add one more circuit to decorate the trackfile.
(trackfile) - ^z - 2015-07-02
Two rabbits eye us and hop away within the first mile. A big deer ambles across the street and through a gate into a mansion garden. Kristin and Kerry spot a pair of "Little Free Libraries" along Massachusetts Av. We pass a home Kerry recognizes, where she confesses to leaping from a ledge and over a wall into the backyard pool, many years ago. Neighborhood architecture is diverse and lovely. Drizzle changes into a light rain that rattles on the leaves and keeps us cool. We weave between cars lined up to enter McLean High School. Kristin and I get Kerry back in time for her early meeting, then add a local loop past the new McLean Metro station.
(trackfile) - ^z - 2015-06-30
Hot crushed red peppers on the pizza last night? Note to Self #1737: perhaps suboptimal before a dawn run. Agent Jester: your superpowers are far beyond mine.
And all's well. Fuel up with lemon meringue pie and "San Antonio" flavored gourmet HEB coffee (thanks, Agent Rita!). Trot past alma mater middle school and local library where I shelved books half a century ago in the first real job. Divert through Bartholomew Park to scare a crow off the fountain and splash water on the forehead. Cruise past Paco's Tacos and zig across 51st St to avoid construction. Enjoy the cool dry (for June in central Texas) morning as the sun thunders up.
Pause to take selfies in front of the Austin Spy Shop and to admire dramatic wall art captioned "Ya esta!". Listen on the mental 8-track loop to the grunge hit "Everything Zen" by Bush. Witness a light rail commuter train inbound on the tracks by Airport Blvd. Greet two homeless guys who shake hands with each other under the I-35/US-183 interchange, with rush hour traffic stalled above us. Sprint the final miles to pull the average pace down into a semi-respectable zone. Add an OCD digression to ensure the GPS distance is safely into double digits.
Note to Self #1738: is splashing water on wet-singlet-friction-chafed nipples more painful than piercing or tattoos there?
(trackfile) - ^z - 2015-06-26
"PFA!" I compliment Kristin when we pass 20 miles by her GPS. (Mine is ~6% stingier today; distance markers along the W&OD trail are in between.) Today is 5+ miles farther than her prior longest trek, and doubles Kerry's lifetime total count of 20+ milers (cf. 2014-12-13 - Magnus Gluteus Maximus). During our cooldown walk and recovery brunch we marvel at how good we all feel, in spite of heat and humidity. Kristin admits she had doubts that she could do it. "Two thirds of us knew you could!", say Kerry and I. Walk breaks every 5 minutes help.
"Be safe — don't chafe!" Kristin rhymes when I ask my friends to avert their eyes while I grease up. We begin before 6am and within the first mile my ultra-mentor Paul Ammann, heading the other way, greets us with "Z-Man!" Our trot proceeds westward to the Dulles Toll Rd. We turn back after checking the water fountain there; it's broken. Midcourse we enjoy the Vienna Community Center facilities. Our break lasts longer than planned when Kerry and I await Kristin inside while she stands outside and wonders where we are. No worries!
At various points four chipmunks and a fearless little deer eye us from trailside and then scamper away. A young lady runs past us carrying a big book, and returns holding two. (Is there a library nearby?) Cyclists and cars are uniformly polite today. With the finish line in sight we sprint the final few hundred yards to make moving-time pace sub-12 on Kristin's display. "PFA!"
(trackfile) - ^z - 2015-06-24
"SOL? Pardon my French," I say. "Doesn't that stand for "$#*% Out of Luck?" Kerry uses the acronym as we pass Langley High School. In this case it means "Standards of Learning", the statewide test — though some students might lean toward the classical definition. We loop down Ridge Dr and through the woods to Turkey Run Rd. The forest path seems steeper and longer than in the past. A friendly neighborhood dog-walker helps us find the best way across the stream and up the muddy slope. After an hour of warm and humid trekking I start to offer Dr K a drink, then realize that I've forgotten my water in the car. Oops!
(trackfile) - ^z - 2015-06-22
"Deer!" Cara Marie spots a doe in the front yard of the neighborhood house. It flees, followed by two more. We walk the hills and chat as the sun rises. Good memories abound: "You never puked at the track during speedwork!" ... "How about on the way home after that half-marathon?" ... "Remember the Lincoln Memorial steps!"
(trackfile) - ^z - 2015-06-20
"We have baby wipes!" says our text message to Stephanie Fonda and Marshall Porterfield. They're 9+ miles into a Sunday ultramarathon training run when Amy Couch and I meet them to provide aid and company on some bonus natural-surface trail mileage. After circling Lake Needwood together we head down Rock Creek and divert to circumnavigate Lake Bernard Frank. The hills and rocks and roots seem gnarlier than a few years ago. Stephanie stumbles and pulls a muscle in an unmentionable zone. Later she takes a complete fall, thankfully not too damaging. Marshall spots a deer. Amy spies another, then a magnificent heron gliding low over the stream. Trail talk is fun and wide-ranging. We part ways after ~8.5 miles together, Stephanie and Marshall heading back downstream for a few dozen more miles, Amy and I returning to Lake Needwood.
(trackfile) - ^z - 2015-06-17
DD Gray & dear friend Dr Mary walk the "Run for Roses 5k" course — which has changed since I helped at an aid station there some years ago (cf. 2006-06-17 - Run for Roses Water Table) — as a preview for Gray and a warmup for Mary, who then jogs and walks it with me as a second separate circuit. We make a few wrong turns the first time around. Mary gives Gray big-sisterly advice. The event is in a month, it's women-only, both Mary and I will likely be out of town, so Gray will have to solo on her first race!
"The only Constant is Change!" New route today: across the Beltway on Route 7 to Gallows Rd. Drs Kerry & Kristin are feeling good after Wednesday's 5k race, though a couple of us have slight coughs, hamstring and hip twinges, etc. Two rabbits scamper into the bushes at our approach. The morning is cool and crisp. We talk of families, weekend plans, office gossip, and life. A fast runner passes us on the W&OD Trail running east. His silhouette glows in the mist, surrounded by a halo in the rising sun, breath forming clouds that fade and vanish.
(trackfile) - ^z - 2015-06-15
The MITRE Corporation "5k" fun-run this year has a new course, hilly and ~15% long — but the day is cool and traffic at road crossings politely waits for runners to pass. Dr Kerry & Dr Kristin stick together, finish happy, and maintain a solid ~10 min/mi average pace. In spite of sidewalk cracks and ripples, nobody falls — yay! Perhaps I even win my age group — or, age-adjusted, the entire race? ... but results don't include ages so that hypothesis is hard to verify.
(trackfile) - ^z - 2015-06-13