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2015-04-29 - McLean Tour

~10.0 miles @ ~11.3 min/mi

Kerry takes a cobweb in the face for The Team. "After you!", I faux-politely offer her the lead as we proceed. Kristin spots a rabbit scampering across Chain Bridge Rd in the twilight, and later points out three deer. Dog-walkers in orange are dragged along behind their pets. We loop through woods and along Benjamin St, eying patterns of cobblestones and bricks in the mansions' driveways. Kerry's street is soon to be resurfaced, and many suggestions are brainstormed: glass pebbles with lights underneath, eco-turf, heated speed bumps, LED displays, etc. Our pace is brisk, and at the end Kristin adds a loop around the office to get her GPS into double digits.

(trackfile) - ^z - 2015-05-22

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2015-04-27 - Marshall HS Fence

~7.2 miles @ ~11.2 min/mi

George C Marshall High School's track looks lovely, but the fence is high, the gates are locked, and the openings look too small to squeeze through. So after a quick reconnoiter Kristin and I continue our meander through the neighborhood, seeking without success for a cut-through path on the south side of Route 7. We backtrack, loop around, and eventually return via busy Idlywood Rd. Our pace is brisk, as is the weather. It's great to be back to early sunrise — no need for flashlights even at 0545 — and the music of birds in the bushes!

(trackfile) - ^z - 2015-05-20

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2015-04-24 - Austin Thunderstorm near Decker Lake

~13.6 miles @ ~11.4 min/mi

"Like a rolling thunder chasing the wind ...". Lines of storms drift slowly through the Austin area at sunrise, making Texas-sized puddles that soak the old worn-out shoes on their last run. Lightning is at least a mile away, judging by flash-boom time lags. A giant sinkhole still threatens the extension of Harris Branch Pkwy to Decker Lane, as it did last year. (cf. 2014-12-18 - Decker Lane Sinkhole)

Cast about and find the northern terminus of the Walnut Creek Trail at Liddell Lane. Trot through showers that turn into full-fledged rain. Hold an internal debate over which is less-aesthetic for passing commuters to see: bloody streaks on shirt front, or old hairy-bare chest? Tough call ...

(trackfile) - ^z - 2015-05-18

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2015-04-22 - Austin Southern Walnut Creek Trail Trek

~15.5 miles @ ~11.2 min/mi

Clouds of gnats tickle the cheeks at dawn near Boggy Creek. Buttercups and Indian Paintbrush fringe the path, and dwarf acorns make a sidewalk ramp ball-bearing-slippery. Nineteen vultures perch hungrily on the high-tension power line tower. Half a dozen cyclists share Southern Walnut Creek Trail, but no other runners. Unlike Monday morning's crisp weather, temps on Wednesday are in the 60s with 90% humidity. Singlet and shorts are soon sweat-soaked.

"Come on. Big village, be quick, bring packs." George Armstrong Custer's last message comes to mind, hauling ~4 lbs of water in three bottles, caching one at the Loyola Lane crossing. Fountains at trail's end, Govalle Park, are still turned off. Circle ballfields and head back upstream. Carry driver's license in case a Texas Beer Breakfast requires proof of legal drinking age (P < 0.000001). Take a salt capsule hourly. Detour past LBJ High School, duck through a hole in the fence, dance across a field of dandelions, and decorate the GPS map with four laps in lane #2 of the track at ~9 min/mi pace. Dash home to dreams of a high-protein breakfast.

(trackfile) - ^z - 2015-05-16

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2015-04-20 - Austin Lake Odyssey

~20.2 miles @ ~11.3 min/mi

Scorpio sprawls full-length above the horizon at 5am, the whole constellation down to the stinger in its tail visible from Austin's southerly latitude. Snail trails and glass shards glitter on the sidewalk under the streetlights. On Springdale Road, Torchy's Tacos world headquarters with its pitchfork-wielding demon stands next door to the future home of the David Chapel (not Dave Chappelle).

Stoop to pick up a scuffed but shiny cent from the middle of Rogge Lane. Turn onto Cesar Chavez Blvd, guided by the cheery glow of the Planet K head shop's neon. Refill bottle from the water fountain at Pleasant Valley Rd. Pause at the little beach to take photos of Longhorn Dam at dawn. Dip a hand into Lady Bird Lake. Follow the trail around the Holly St power plant to I-35, and take the sidewalk along the frontage road north.

Do a slo-mo face plant after tripping on a curb at mile 12 while swerving around a pedestrian. Fortunately suffer only a busted upper lip, thanks to cushioning by the bushy mustache. Detour to visit alma mater John H Reagan High School and run four 2:13 laps on the cushy track, spiraling out in lanes 2-3-4-5 to test the GPS resolution. Follow the perimeter fence past LBJ HS track, where purple-clad students wait for hurdles to be set in place. Dash home, passing a yellow rose bush — whereupon the current electronic dance music hit song "Redefined", which has been on heavy mental rotation for the past 3+ hours, gets replaced by "She's the Yellow Rose of Texas".

(trackfile) - ^z - 2015-05-14

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2015-04-18 - Chevy Chase Non-Lake

~11.7 miles @ ~12.4 min/mi

"There's a marathon this morning — you can't leave your cars here!" the county park service guy tells Sam Yerkes, Gayatri Datta. and me when we arrive at Candy Cane City at 0630 on a crisp Saturday morning. We refrain from explaining the distinction between a marathon and a 5k, and simply move our vehicles up the road beyond the race perimeter.

Then we attack the hills, beginning with the infamous Leland St climb to Bethesda. Sam and I dash up the slopes, then loop back to join Gayatri, who is recovering from a week of swimming, yoga, Stairmaster, and weights. She flies out to visit her niece in Salt Lake City this afternoon. I'm leaving a few hours later to see Mom and the rest of the family in Austin.

We meander back via Chevy Chase Lake (which turns out not to have had a lake for decades — I never knew!) and detour to visit the spring at Clean Drinking Manor, which dates back to the 17th Century. "George Washington was here!" I tell Sam and Gayatri, who pose for photos by the historic marker. Another side trip explores the boardwalk-path to the Audubon Naturalist Society. We climb the Mormon Temple hill, cruise down Rock Creek, and sprint to our starting point. No "marathon" is in evidence yet, though police cars now have closed the road beyond where we parked. A great day for a neighborhood ramble!

(trackfile) - ^z - 2015-05-12

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2015-04-13 - McLean Sunrise

~7 miles @ ~11.6 min/mi

"Just trying to show off!" I confess near the start of today's Dawn Patrol trot around McLean with Dr K & Dr K. The old feet feel good after Saturday's ultra (the Bull Run Run). Perhaps the protein powder (recommended by Kristin & Mary) that I've been consuming for the past week has more than a placebo effect on recovery? (Don't tell them: it reminds me of Soylent Green!)

We manage to maintain a comfortably brisk pace on a semi- brisk morning, with temps in the low 50s and gusty southerly winds. Birds sing from the start, and a pastel lavender-fuchsia horizon glows ahead of us on the W&OD Trail. Clouds veil a waning moon.

K&K are running on caffeine after busy weekends, and wear matching azure shirts (alas, I didn't get the memo). Kristin tells of a trip to the Botanical Gardens with her kids; Kerry shares tales of MC Hammer at the Wizards basketball game last night. I offer trail-talk tidbits from BRR that are a bit too delicate for the official report. This is likely our last run together for a fortnight, with preemptively-busy schedules ahead for everybody. Maybe May will be less manic!

(trackfile) - ^z - 2015-05-10

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2015-04-11 - Bull Run Run 50 Miler

~45 miles @ ~15.5 min/mi

Bull Run Run! Still the best 50 miler — even if the GPS says it's ~45 miles, and this year the Runkeeper trackfile glitches and misses several segments. Still a challenge but not a torment. Still beautiful, diverse terrain. Still wonderful volunteers and fellow travelers. Still superb VHTRC attitude.

What's not to like?

^z crossing Little Rocky Run early in the 2015 BRR (photo by Mike Bur)
BRR 2015 ^z by the lakeThe weather is warm but not overwhelming today, my eighth BRR. I trek along, chatting with friends Stephanie Fonda, Marshall Porterfield, and Ken Swab. When a train crosses the stream I pause to take photos.

I slip and fall only once, in the mud at the northern end of the course.

This year's BRR comes two weeks after the 2015-03-28 - Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Run (75 mile DNF). My blisters are largely healed, and my attitude is back to normal — "11" on the optimism meter.

Goal? Still only to have no goals. Again, I fail. But perhaps I'm getting closer!

BRR 2015 ^z at Fountainhead Aid Station (mile ~28) -- photo by Hai Nguyen
BRR 2015 ^z at the finish line a few minutes after crossing itThe official results this year have me crossing the line in 12:07:05, which pulls down my median time by ~9 minutes. I'm 241st place overall out of 323 starters and 280 finishers within the 13-hour cutoff. Among males 60-64 years old I'm 7th of 12, and sadly pull the team stuck with me ("MCRRC Stand-outs") down a few places by being more than three hours slower than my buddies.

BRR finish times:

     12:25:06 - 2007
     12:50:18 - 2008
     11:39:50 - 2009
     11:22:06 - 2010
     11:55:25 - 2011
     12:28:38 - 2013
     12:24:45 - 2014
     12:07:05 - 2015

Next year? Who knows!

(cf. Bull Run Run 2007, Bull Run Run 2008, 2009-04-18 - Bull Run Run, 2010-04-10 - Bull Run Run, 2011-04-09 - Bull Run Run, 2013-04-13 - Bull Run Run 2013, 2014-04-12 - Bull Run Run 50 Miler, ...) - ^z - 2015-05-06

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2015-04-06 - Dawn Trot with Kristin

~9.0 miles @ ~10.9 min/mi

"Exhilarating!" Kristin rates today's faster-than-usual trek — a notch harder than Friday's "Effortless!", which exhausted me but left her feeling strong. She picks the route to optimize sunrise during the W&OD segment. We talk about families and racing strategy, literature and injuries. (The bump on the side of my right food has moved to the top of the left foot.) Birds sing from shrubbery by sidewalks lined with daffodils. The water fountain at Route 7 on the trail is still turned off. Somehow I resist the Hot Yoga picture window and follow Dr K eastward. Spring Break means the McLean High School parking lot is spooky-empty. During post-run cooldown stretches we share thankfulness and quiet joy.

(trackfile) - ^z - 2015-05-03

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2015-04-05 - Easter Roses

~6.8 miles @ ~11.8 min/mi

"Office Space!" is Rebecca Rosenberg's recommendation today for a fun film. It's directed by Mike Judge, who also did "Idiocracy", currently high on my to-view queue. We're trekking along Beach Dr in Rock Creek Park. enjoying the cool Passover/Easter morning. Barry Smith and RR commiserate about my Umstead blisters (already healed) and brainstorm taping and foot-toughening strategies to experiment with before future ultras. Barry has a marathon in Wisconsin (Eau Claire) coming up soon. Rebecca plans on the Cherry Blossom 10 miler in a week and the Madrid marathon a fortnight later.

We meet up with "Santa" Steve, Joyce, and K.C. near Wise Rd. I make them promise to add me to their mailing list, since I need to practice walking long distances more often. At home I photograph a few of DW's Lenten Roses (Hellebores) and hyacinths now blooming. Some creature has dug up and eaten all her alliums as they began to come up (I planted dozens of bulbs just a few months ago).

(trackfile) - ^z - 2015-05-01

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