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2015-02-06 - Thirteen Degrees

~5.8 miles @ ~12.9 min/mi

"White mascara!" The sign at McLean High School says 13°F, and on Kristin's eyelashes the condensate frost is dramatic enough for me to make her stop under a streetlight to photograph. Today's run is shortened by the need to get back in time for early meetings. We try a new circuit, southeast along Old Dominion Dr until the sidewalk ends. Neighborhood streets take us back via a route previously traveled only in the opposite direction.

Striking architecture at the home at 6522 Old Chesterbrook catches our eyes; we make a note to revisit it during daylight. I trip and fall near the bridge over Pimmit Run, but thanks to thick gloves and many layers suffer only minimal damage. A slightly bloody left elbow and right knee will have to suffice for today's national "Wear Red Day". Conversation is delightful and philosophic-therapeutic. "It is what it is," is the bottom-line conclusion.

We skip outdoor stretching. Inside the building Kristin comments, "Heat — what a great invention!". In the shower my beardsicles finally melt. Runkeeper records route.

^z - 2015-02-28

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2015-02-04 - Langley Circuit with Kristin

~9 miles @ ~12.4 min/mi

Birds chirp. first singly when a faint glow begins on the eastern horizon, then in duets and choruses as dawn progresses. Kristin and I trot quietly, remembering past runs and sharing the morning. A cyclist pops out from a side path and passes by on the shoulder of Hwy 123, headlight brilliant, and rides along in front of us. "Clear the way, please!" we request, feeling for a moment like lead runners in a big race with an official escort.

We divert for a symbolic lap around Langley High School's lovely new track, to balance out the lap we did Monday at arch-rival McLean HS. "No favoritism!" Kristin avers. Twinges in hips (ITB?) fade as we warm up. The forest path back is peaceful. Clouds ripple like gentle waves across the sky. Runkeeper records route.

^z - 2015-02-26

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2015-02-02 - Warm Icy Trek

~10 miles @ ~12.5 min/mi

"Let's do the bridge over Route 7," I suggest to Kerry and Kristin, "in case the Hot Yoga class is in session." Alas, when we get there the big picture window is dark. I jump to get a better view and almost slip on the ice. "Now if you fell," Kristin says, "That would definitely have to go in the report!"

Rabbit count = 1 today, a big soggy bunny by Kerry's cut-through at McLean High School. We do one lap around the track there to decorate the GPS map, then proceed down Westmoreland St to the W&OD Trail. Dogs wear flashing lights, and their eyes glow in our headlamps. I stumble but manage not to fall on the sidewalk, giving K&K a surge of adrenaline.

A light drizzle begins to fall midway through the journey. Cyclists are uniformly polite today, and a school bus stops to let us cross Idlywood Rd safely in front of it when we find ourselves mistakenly on a stretch without sidewalks. Birds chirp at us as the day brightens. Temperatures in the mid-30s feel warm compared to last week. Runkeeper records route.

^z - 2015-02-24

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2015-02-01 - Architecture Analysis with Mary

~6 miles @ ~16.5 min/mi

"That's disgusting!" Mary says as we pass a particularly garish mini-mansion. We're enjoying a Sunday morning tour of Pimmit Hills, fitness-building and therapeutic Trail Talk combined with hilarious architectural critiques of newly constructed homes that clash, or more rarely harmonize, with their neighbors.

The temperature hovers at freezing and the sun is only dimly visible. Gray clouds portend snow, sleet, freezing rain, or perhaps none of the above later today. The GPS glitches and adds several tenths of a mile when I pause under the highway to photograph fresh graffiti. Stepping stones on the natural-surface Pimmit Run Trail are tricky but neither of us falls into the water at stream crossings. We could have avoided a road segment if we had been willing to ignore "Private Property" signage along the creek. Mary exceeds her quota of "I'm sorry!" (one per mile) but gets a bonus from a humorous meta-apology for over-apologizing. Runkeeper records route, in a map that looks like a child's drawing of a cow, with the tail our start-finish and the GPS glitch at Mile 5 a horn.

^z - 2015-02-22

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2015-01-30 - Pimmit Hills Ice

~10 miles @ ~12.3 min/mi

"This is why we run!" Kristin says, as wind-chimes ring, sunlight turns clouds orange and treetops yellow-green, dogs bark, hamstrings twinge, and icy sidewalks send us down the middle of neighborhood streets. "All the senses!" We meander through Pimmit Hills, share sad news of a neighborhood 6-year-old in the hospital after a tragic sledding accident, and cheer for the Langley High School basketball team's recent winning streak.

"Are you actually going to eat that?" Kerry and Kristin ask in mock-horror, when I pick up a silver packet from the pavement. "Hmmmm ... it feels like a granola bar," I say, "and it seems like it's still sealed." (And yes, it turns out later that is what it is — and it tastes great!) Kerry branches off at 6+ miles, and "a couple more" for Kristin and me turns into just over 10 total. Runkeeper records route, with a trackfile map that looks like a child's drawing of a doggie or a horsie.

^z - 2015-02-20

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2015-01-25 - Montgomery Village Walkabout with Meredith

~8.7 miles @ ~20 min/mi

"Four deer!" Meredith spies them in the brush and points them out late in our ramble. It's the same number of does as formed each herd this morning. A standard family size?

It has been far too long since Meredith and I chatted, so today we trek around her extended neighborhood, enjoying the scenery on the south and east sides of Green Farm Park. We try to find our way back, without success, among the cul-de-sacs of mini-mansions to the north and west. Advice from passing joggers and dog-walkers is to no avail.

Our route takes us near a great blue heron perched by a creek, under the flight path of small aircraft taking off and landing, and past a home destroyed last month in a tragic plane crash. Conversation is wide-ranging, with topics including the American legal system, navigation, fine phrases from both great and trashy fiction, world history, hacking (in the cross-country horse-riding sense), and modern education. I come away with a host of books to add to my reading list, starting with William Manchester's biography of Winston Churchill. Our meandering route takes us twice as far as planned, a boon for me. Again, and soon! Runkeeper records route.

^z - 2015-02-18

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2015-01-25 - Bethesda Loop with Marshall and Stephanie

~11.6 miles @ ~12.1 min/mi

Deer Day! A small herd of four does munch the brush by Rock Creek, and a few miles later another four step aside to eye Marshall, Stephanie, and me as we pass by. Trail traffic is thick as folks squeeze in their jogs between winter storms yesterday and tomorrow.

Stephanie mock-obsesses over making her weekly mileage goal, as she ramps up and piles on today's trek after two runs yesterday. We experiment with a 2:2 minute walk:run pattern, good practice for ultra pace. Marshall suggests we call this Low-impact Interval Training ("LIT"). He and Stephanie answer more of my questions and suggest foot treatment tactics to try.

At mile 10 I notice I'm missing a glove and dash back to where I think I dropped it, but no joy. My attempt to sneak up on M&S while they pause at a traffic crossing fails when I inadvertently make a noise while trying to hide behind a telephone pole. Note to Self: review tips in Monty Python's "How Not to Be Seen"! Runkeeper records route.

^z - 2015-02-18

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2015-01-24 - Wheaton Sprint

~9 miles @ ~ 9.3 min/mi

As soon as the morning's cold drizzle stops it's time to test new shoes picked up today from the half-price remainder room at RnJ Rockville. (They're Mizuno "Paradox" men's size 12.5, and except for some scraping on the top of the left foot feel pretty good.) Push hard to pull down the average pace after climbing the Mormon Temple hill. Puddles decorate sidewalks; a Sligo Creek tributary floods over usually-dry stepping-stones. Cars blast down University Blvd and ravens flock overhead. Brief pauses at major road crossings slow progress only minimally. The left hip and hamstring twinge. The sun peeks out as the Kensington-Wheaton-Sligo circuit closes. Runkeeper records route.

^z - 2015-02-16

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2015-01-19 - Mormon Temple Meet-up

~6 miles @ ~10.8 min/mi

Slurp down a bowl of über-salty ramen, then hit the road to sweat it out and enjoy a late afternoon meet-up with Marshall Porterfield, Stephanie Fonda, and Amy Couch. Interrogate M re his 100-miler training tactics (build up to 70+ mile weeks, strengthen the Core, run long two days back-to-back a fortnight before the Big Show, then rest those legs!) while A&S catch up on "girl talk". Enjoy a couple of dashes up the Mormon Temple Hill, then loop back via a little stream valley. Shade eyes against a dazzling-bright setting sun to spy high jet contrails arrowing westward. Sniff hickory smoke near the old stone church. Runkeeper records route.

^z - 2015-02-10

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2015-01-19 - Bolger Center

~7 miles @ ~10.9 min/mi

The W. F. Bolger Center for Leadership Development — a fancy U.S. Postal Service conference/training facility — has a jogging path around its grounds. Emaad Burki, training for the Bighorn ultra, leads us to it from his home, past Sugar Ray Leonard's former mansion and other neat houses. Ken Swab is coughing and Barry Smith is recovering from Disney races a week ago. Manly banter continues post-run in Emaad's basement-cave where he shares ale that he brewed himself. Runkeeper records route.

^z - 2015-02-10

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