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2016-01-31 - Snowy Sunday Vienna Venture

~9.4 miles @ ~12.5 min/mi

"Do you need me to come pick you up?" It's total role-reversal: last night Kerry is at a friend's birthday party; her daughter, with newly-minted driver's license, texts to check. Later when Kerry gets home she discovers DD fallen asleep on the couch, waiting up for the prodigal Mom's return. And so the wheel turns ...

On Saturday morning, "Anybody feel like a run tomorrow?" Kristin texts. Assuming she's confused about the date I reply with Monday plans — but no, she really wants to do a Sunday expedition! The W&OD Trail is ice-clad and the Vienna Community Center parking lot is snowed in, so we rendezvous at Whole Foods and random-walk along neighborhood streets, doubling back from culs-de-sac and stepping into driveways to let cars pass. Impressive mansions line the roads, with faux-Victorian turrets, towers, dormers, cornices, and gables.. Afterwards Kristin confesses to running on no sleep and being tempted to eat snow for hydration.

(trackfile) - ^z - 2016-02-11

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2016-01-30 - CCT with DKR

~15.0 miles @ ~12.4 min/mi

"Ice up!" The Capital Crescent Trail south from Bethesda is amazingly snow-free, but melt-and-refreeze makes for dangerous footing in a few patches. Don, Ken, and Rebecca maintain nonstop banter about flaws in Social Security law, medieval history, cosplay, decades-old issues of "Playboy" magazine featuring an interview with Donald Trump and images of the women of Enron, a questionnaire that candidates for elected office in the local running club must fill out, droll British comedy shows, false memories, and more, including the observation "Pandas are tasty!"

Streets seem safer than sidewalks, though it's necessary to step into shoveled driveways or lean back toward high snowbanks when cars must pass on narrower segments. At dawn contrails from high-flying jets streak the sky next to the gibbous moon. Training groups of local runners do out-and-back mileage on the CCT, exchanging greetings and hugs. Temperatures rise from the low 20's to above freezing.

(trackfile) - ^z - 2016-02-09

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2016-01-22 - Cookie Dough Blizzard Mission

~15.4 miles @ ~13.2 min/mi

http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/Northwest_Branch_Trail_pre-blizzard_2016-01-22.jpg"No time for pleasantries ... we have a Level 5 Emergency!" Yes, the snowstorm of the millennium looms, and we're completely out of chocolate chip cookie dough. Although ancient legend holds that alchemists once knew how to concoct such amalgams from mysterious substances — e.g., "flour", "sugar", "salt", "toll house morsels" — such art, if ever it existed, has long been lost.

Hence, today's quest. The route meanders past Wheaton Library (where a book on hold must be picked up) and House Henderson (where mail for Robin and Merle must be dropped off). In Wheaton Regional Park the only other souls seen, if beasts have souls, are six big does and a buck. They startle, stare, and sprint away through the brush. On Arcola Trail a wrong turn adds a half mile. Northwest Branch is beautiful, the stream already half frozen. Snow flurries begin at 1:13pm.

Emerging from the woods onto a US Route 29 traffic jam, Trader Joe's has just closed. Safeway is open but lines are far too long. Sidewalks are slick, not from ice but from pellets of ice-melt chemicals spread thickly. Fire trucks, ambulances, and police cars line Forest Glen Rd where something burnt and is now safely extinguished.

Finally — success! Snider's Supermarket has the Holy Grail. Now let the storm strike. "Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! Rage! Blow!" With four pounds of cookie dough in the refrigerator, all's well in the world.

(trackfile) - ^z - 2016-02-06

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2016-01-18 - DC Boundary Stone Tour

~10.6 miles @ ~12.2 min/mi

"Rose, from Norway!" the cheerful young woman introduces herself. "I like it cold!" Temps are rising from teens into the low 20's, with brisk north winds that make it a good day to test breathing through a "neck gaiter" covering nose and mouth. Rose is just beginning her morning run near the northernmost point of the District of Columbia, and follows me as we meander around her apartment complex, seeking an unlocked gate through the fence. I tell her about the DC boundary stones, markers placed during 1791-1792 when the Federal City was first being surveyed.

Today I'm on my way home, taking selfies every mile at a boundary stone as I run along Western Avenue, starting near River Road where DD drops me on her way to teach a violin student. But the yellow-blazed Pinehurst Branch Trail lures me off the sidewalk, and I follow its natural-surface path downstream to Rock Creek Park. On the way, "Hello-o-o-o-o-o-o!" says a lady walking her dalmatian, startled to see anybody else out in the woods. A light dusting of snow on a gray-brown log is all that remains of yesterday's flurries. Waters are low and half a dozen stream crossings are easy. Trees groan and sway against each other as breezes blow. What a wonderful day!

(trackfile) - ^z - 2016-02-04

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2016-01-17 - 5k Race with Amber

~3.1 miles @ ~8.0 min/mi

"Too bad the snow didn't start sooner!" Flurries commence during our cooldown walk after this morning's brisk "Celebrate Community - ALIVE!" 5k race. It's a calibration experiment for Dr Amber, who claims not to have trained but who nonetheless keeps up with me for a slightly sub-8 min/mi overall pace. Flashing red/blue strobes on police cars (protecting the course) contrast with leaden skies. A doppelgänger for colleague Dr Beth fools me during the race but turns out not to be her upon closer inspection afterwards. Both Amber and I finish in 2nd Place for our respective age/gender cadres. Faster next time!

(trackfile) - ^z - 2016-02-02

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2016-01-15 - All In

~10.8 miles @ ~12.9 min/mi

"I'm in!" That's what a good friend instantly replies when you propose something audacious. Kerry and Kristin are thinking about the Rock & Roll DC Marathon in March. They could survive it now, but perhaps putting a long run or two into the logbooks would enhance confidence and comfort. "Doing anything Monday?" — "Nope, I'm in!" — "Me too!" That's why we run together!

Near Idlywood Rd two rabbits dash away from Kristin's flashlight beam. A mile later a pair of deer bound across the path in front of us. A luminous chiaroscuro sunrise begins with pink pastels shading into azure above the horizon. The W&OD Trail bridge over Route 7 passes near a hot yoga studio picture window. "They seem quite, uh, ...," I pause to select the right word, "limber!" K&K laugh.

Everybody feels great this morning so we extend the run to a Starbucks where Kerry shares iced coffee. A few minutes later friend LaNedra texts, "Did I just see you running on Broad St?" Apparently the long gray beard is rather recognizable!

(trackfile) - ^z - 2016-01-31

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2016-01-11 - David Bowie Smiles

~4.0 miles @ ~12.1 min/mi

"Co-enablers in cold craziness!" Peer pressure combined with early morning meetings and stiff northerly breezes plus temps in the upper 20s make for a short Dawn Patrol ramble. Before lips go totally numb we catch up on weekend family news and mourn the passing of David Bowie. Kerry mentions the film The Linguini Incident in which he stars; her college roommate was involved in producing it. Other performances are saluted: The Prestige, Labyrinth, and Into the Night. Icy patches alternate with muddy puddles. A meteor streaks overhead — perhaps a late Quadrantid, perhaps Sir David checking that we're ok.

From the song "Let's Dance":

If you say run, I'll run with you!

(trackfile) - ^z - 2016-01-29

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2016-01-10 - Sligo Creek Night Run with Amy

~12.4 miles @ ~12.9 min/mi

"Is the green fur his hair, or a hat?" I ask Amy as we pass a young fellow in Wheaton Regional Park. "You may be a bit too old for that look," she suggests gently. As the sun sets we ready our flashlights. A cold front has just passed through the area, bringing ten minutes of torrential rain that delays our start. (Amy saw a double rainbow earlier as the squall line came by her home.) Winds gust and temps drop from the upper 50s into mid 40s.

We proceed upstream along Sligo Creek Trail from near Colesville Road. Conversation is thoughtful and inspirational. I learn a new word, "spectrumy". (Yes, it reminds me of Category Theory - but so does everything nowadays!) And we muse: "Why do people give so much praise to somebody just for doing what any really good friend should do?" - "Well, maybe not so many people are really good friends nowadays?"

DS Merle greets us at mile 5 and offers a can of "Surge" brand soda water for rehydration (accepted) and a Rubik's Cube for entertainment (declined, with thanks). The carbonated drink leads to a result Amy anticipated, and she counts my belches. Total at journey's end: twenty-one!

(trackfile) - ^z - 2016-01-27

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2016-01-10 - Rock Creek and Chinese Food with Mary

~4.9 miles @ ~17.5 min/mi

"This feels great!" Mary observes as we experiment with speed-walking backwards up the hills along the Western Ridge Trail in northern Rock Creek Park. Her left knee has been troublesome since a New Year's Eve race. Today we test a velcro band and compare natural-surface with paved road. "Cute-sicle" dogs cavort on- and off-leash. Cyclists zoom along Beach Drive. Temps are in the upper 50s and morning drizzle has left scattered puddles and muddy patches. Our post-trek reward: egg fu yung and broccoli-eggplant in garlic sauce at the nearby Chinese restaurant!

(trackfile) - ^z - 2016-01-27

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2016-01-09 - KenGar and Ken and Rebecca

~7.1 miles @ ~10.2 min/mi

"So I'm a water molecule," says Ken. "I always thought so!" interjects Rebecca. We're in the midst of discussing thermodynamics, two miles into a brisk trot along Rock Creek Trail, and the Ken-^z improv act is at full throttle. Conversation random-walks from a Shakespearean episode of the Twilight Zone through general relativity, Edward Gibbon, category theory, and into accountant jokes. Light drizzle falls, with temps in the low 40s. We dance around puddles and pause to cross busy Randolph Road. Ken spies a pair of soggy gloves by the path and snags them for me on the way back.

At Ken-Gar parking is already tight at 0745. The DC Road Runners Club is setting up for a race that starts just as we return. Climbing a long hill known as "The Silencer" I pause to catch my breath before explaining the Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics. "Have I lectured on this already?" Rebecca's answer is kind but ambiguous: "I always enjoy hearing your lectures again!" Hmmmmmm ...

(trackfile) - ^z - 2016-01-25

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