"Our pacers have stopped at the water fountain up ahead," I tell Ken Swab, as we approach milepost 6.5 and see the two young ladies pausing to get a drink. Ken earlier speculated that he was still in bed dreaming about running today.
"And they're taking off their clothes," Ken says.
"If they were, you'd know you're dreaming!" I reply.
The old feet, badly blistered and bruised at last Saturday's 2013-04-27 - C-and-O Canal 100 DNF, feel good today except when the usual left metatarsals ache. A longer-than-planned ramble begins with ~4 mile jog to Bethesda via the Capital Crescent Trail. A tiny rabbit pauses at the side of the path, confused, as I approach. At the last moment it dashes away, then turns back and races past me to return to its nest.
At 7am I meet Gayatri Datta in front of the Barnes & Noble bookstore. We chat with Sunny Fitzgerald and others gathering there, then retrace my route on the CCT, take Jones Mill Rd south, and pause at the Meadowbrook Stables restrooms. As we continue toward Candy Cane City we find ourselves blocked by chain-link fences and set-up preparations for tomorrow's Avon fundraiser walk against breast cancer. Gigantic tents are already in place on the ballfields and trucks are pumping out the portajohns. Gayatri and I zig-zag around the barriers, annoyed when more fences stop us from taking the pedestrian bridge to Beach Dr. We ponder climbing over them, or clinging to the outside of the bridge railing, but decide against it.
Eventually we find a pathway to Leland St and take that über hilly route back to Bethesda, walking a fair amount of the climbs on the way. A 3.5 mile "Bulldog Run" is taking shape in the neighborhood east of Connecticut Av, with traffic cones, a small water stop, and chalk arrows on the road pointing the opposite direction to the way we're going. A large rabbit watches us from in front of a lawn as we pass. When we're almost back to our starting point Gayatri and I find ourselves blocked by a gigantic construction site in downtown Bethesda. We pick our way around via an alley and at ~8:10am see Ken Swab, Emaad Burki, and Barry Smith in front of B&N. Gayatri goes back to her car to get more coconut water.
Rebecca Rosenberg arrives a few minutes later, Gayatri in close pursuit, and the group of us continue down the CCT about 3.5 miles. Ken entertains me with descriptions of his digestive woes after Thursday's dinner, which unlike one previous case did not involve chicken-fried steak. Barry's tight spandex shorts attract Emaad's admiration. Rebecca is wearing an eye-catching op-art-ish vertical-zebra-striped top. She reports on the Big Sur Marathon that she ran a week ago. Barry did the Eugene Marathon the same day. Cyclists whiz past, one of whom says, "Hi, Mark!" and is beyond us before we have a chance to glimpse her face. I can't recognize her from the stern view, attractive though it may be. (Small World: a couple of days later a MITRE colleague, Dr Adriane Chapman, greets me on the shuttle bus to the Metro and admits that it was her, cycling with a friend!)
Gayatri pauses for a "hug break" with Harold Rosen, coming back from foot problems. He runs with us for half a mile, then slows to a walk. I almost abandon the group and turn back at milepost 6.5 but dither and decide to do another mile. As we pass above Chain Bridge I point out the steep path down to Canal Road which I climbed when running home at night from Sara Crum's party a fortnight ago. We turn back at milepost 7.5 and do walk breaks during the return journey. As we approach B&N again a pair of gentlemen my age greet me. One is Eric Melby, who met me in 2011 at the 2011 Run for Roses aid station where we served together. The other is Matt Koll, a software developer who reminds me that we met in 1982 or so when he was developing the "SIRE" software system for free text information retrieval. Small world! Eric is wearing a Boston Marathon shirt and has run that race half a dozen times. Matt is about to turn 60 and only needs to take 5 minutes off his marathon time in order to qualify, as I did at the 2013-03-16 - B and A Marathon. Both are preparing to run the Pocono Marathon in two weeks.
Barry Smith offers to give me a ride home, but plans to shop at nearby RnJ Sports first. I thank him but decline, and proceed to trek the final four miles solo home, as I did the initial four today. He and the rest of the crew change clothes and have breakfast. I answer text messages from DW and from Stephanie Fonda on the way home, which provides a good excuse to walk for segments. I'm tired and take a couple of Succeed! electrolyte capsules. Most of today's nutrition has been mini Heath Bars, plus a few root beer barrels and an Atomic Fireball candy. When I get home I find my weight down about 3 lbs, to 139.5 according to the digital scale. The Runkeeper track file and the Garmin one agree to within ~2%.
^z - 2013-05-25
Worst ... Feet ... Ever!
(right foot 4 days after the race)
|Note to self: No-tears baby shampoo does not prevent tears in adults.|
The C&O Canal 100 Miler is my third attempt at that distance — and like the previous two such (2010-05-15 - Half Massanutten Mountain Trails and 2012-04-07 - Philly 100 Endurance Run) it ends with a DNF (Did Not Finish) a little past the halfway point. This time the killer factors are feet. Besides big fluid-filled pillows, my soles turn into hamburger, bruised so that I'm walking like Grandpa McCoy (as played by Walter Brennan) in the 1950s sitcom "The Real McCoys". Almost more painful, at mile 45 when that thought bubbles up, the theme song of that show gets stuck in my head for the remainder of the race. Arggghhhh!
The next day I puncture the big sac at the front of the left foot and release ~5 cc of fluid. The corresponding cushion on the right foot has spontaneously broken and flattened out. Underneath the calluses there are other blisters, less evident. The bruises are worst on the right heel; the left heel seems mostly ok.
|Note to self: When you get a rock or sand in a shoe, take it out sooner rather than later.|
As the proverb goes, beware of races where the Sun is going to lap you. On Monday morning, two days after the DNF, I'm walking like a 75-year-old with arthritis. That's much much better than on Sunday when I was more like a 95-year-old. I do a net-present-value calculation in my head to decide whether it's worth taking the last ice cube, since that would require a walk between refrigerator and sink to refill the tray and then a walk back.
Why did my feet betray me? Perhaps I should have trained on surfaces comparable to that of the towpath, and at a walking pace that matched what I maintained during the race. Perhaps gaiters and thicker socks would have made a difference.
But enough kvetching! The C&O Canal 100 is a fine event, well-organized and with super-helpful volunteers at all the aid stations. Overall it's enjoyable, a huge learning experience. Maybe next time I'll get a bit farther?
DS Merle kindly rises at 4am and drives me out to Camp Manidokan near Harpers Ferry. We stop on the way at the Knoxville/Brunswick mini-mart (a Sheetz) for munchies. Nineteen hours later Merle picks me up, arriving with perfect timing within 3 minutes of my arrival at the halfway point. Thanks, Son!
Timeline of the day's events as told by my tweets along the way:
4:19am: heading up to C&O Canal 100 miler start - tnx to DS Merle for driving me!
6:59am: Race begins!
10:21am: C&O Canal mile 12.5 avg 16 min/mi - trekking DFL with comrade Marshall - great conversation!
12:41pm: passing Brunswick - mile 21 - at 16 min/mi
3:14pm: Nolands ferry - mile 31 - at 16 min/mi - swallowtail butterflies
6:08pm: Brunswick - mile 42 - at 16 min/mi
7:18pm: Keep Tryst aid station - mile 45.5 - feet not good - will see if I can make it to halfway point - sorry, fans!
(heel of right foot two weeks after the race)
(photo by Bill Susa near the start — the last point that both of my feet leave the ground)
|Note to self: Thank goodness for grab bars in shower post-race.|
At the end, during the final steep climb back to Camp Manidokan, huge kudos to volunteer Bill Susa. He pretends to be doing something else as he cheerfully follows me up the hillside and makes sure I get safely back to the Start/Finish area. His kind company is quite welcome at that point.
Along the way, I spend most of the race in the company of D. Marshall Porterfield, Purdue University professor currently working as a senior NASA program administrator. Marshall is also an Ironman, an ultrarunner who has completed several 100 milers, a gentleman, and a scholar. Our conversations include discussions of:
One memorable Porterfield quote: "Ultrarunners are Ultrapeople" — meaning they're ultra-NICE people! And then there's Marshall's First Rule of Feet: "If they're hurting, don't look at them!"
Before the race we chat. Marshall has forgotten to bring a watch, so I lend him mine. He suffers from knee problems during and after the 2013-04-13 - Bull Run Run 2013 a fortnight ago, where dear friend Stephanie Fonda and I first meet him. So today Marshall cruises at a brisk ~15 min/mi walk all day. I catch up with him at mile ~1 and thereafter stick with him as much as possible.
As darkness begins to fall Marshall realizes that he has left his headlamp and flashlight at his Camp Manidokan drop bag. I offer to lend him one of mine, but instead at the Keep Tryst aid station, mile ~45, he sensibly decides to call it a day before the sun sets. I sit next to him and ponder the options as I eat some vegan soup with noodles that helpful volunteers have given us. Then I foolishly try to continue onward alone.
|Note to self: When running on gravel, wear gaiters (Comrade Caren Jew gave me some lovely ones many years ago. On race day, they're forgotten at home.)|
Perhaps the Final Rule of Ultra Club should be: "You do NOT talk about Intestinal Incidents!" — but sometimes rules must be bent, especially if there are lessons to be learned from what happened to me about mile 33. Fortunately I carry several paper towels, and there are no other runners or hikers nearby. A welcome portajohn appears within the next mile and after a brief wait I get my turn. Thankfully, it's well-stocked with toilet paper. The next aid station offers wet-wipes, a few of which I take with me into a nearby latrine. They sting the bum and do the trick.
All day along the towpath I meet hikers with bibs that say "ODH", with subscripts "50k" or "100k". After much fruitless speculation I finally ask, and learn that ODH means One Day Hike, a Sierra-Club-sponsored activity. The 50k people start at Whites Ferry, the 100k in DC at the Georgetown mile 0 origin of the C&O Canal towpath. All of them proceed into Harpers Ferry and a couple of miles up the hill there to finish. They're uniformly cheerful, encouraging, and amazed to hear that I'm attempting to do 100 miles.
Between miles 35 and 37 an inspirational comment comes to mind: "... the Quit Switch was officially flipped to the off position ...", from Travis Wildeboer's 2013 Barkley Marathons finisher report. Alas, my Quit Switch slips back to "maybe" by mile 40, and then goes to "on" during the final half-dozen miles. That hike in the night is noteworthy for peepers, tree-frogs that shout at me as I pass by. Earlier in the day big turtles sun themselves on sticks in the Canal.
During the event I exchange text messages and quick phone calls with Kate Abbott, Mike Edwards, and Mary Ewell. They kindly volunteer to come pace me through the night, but I tell them not to and thank them profusely. All get über-credit for friendship and willingness to help! Stephanie Fonda also texts to keep track of me; she is volunteering at the Keep Tryst Aid Station overnight. Sadly, I get there before she arrives and don't have a chance to see her. (cf. Keep Tryst for Stephanie's observations and 100 Mile Eyes for her poem)
My attempts to be mindful and not identify with the pain in my feet — observe it, don't cling to it — are partially successful and probably explain how I managed to complete the final half-dozen miles of my DNF. In the dark I discover that walking in a straight line readjusts fluids in the blisters so that the pain is quite tolerable. But whenever I step on a small rock or turn a slight corner, things get ugly again.
("Just bury me here, under these bluebells!" I request — photo by D. Marshall Porterfield)
^z - 2013-05-??
"Eeew!" A flat snake decorates Beach Drive at mile 4.5 of our trek. This morning after a tardy start from home I'm last to arrive at the Candy Cane City parking lot, in the brown loaner MINI Cooper while the black one is in the shop. Rebecca Rosenberg is just ahead of me, and Jennifer Weiland and Ken Swab are already waiting. We trot down Rock Creek Trail and then Beach Dr to tag the barrier gate at Broad Branch Rd. Ken channels various other friends in doing crudely funny commentary. Rebecca recommends the movie The Mighty Macs. As we approach the DC line on our return journey, Sara Crum suddenly appears running toward us; she had a late start due to scheduled-then-canceled athletic events for her kids. Runkeeper concurs roughly with Garmin GPS splits of 11:18 + 10:25 + 9:58 + 12:26 + 9:49 + 10:41 + 10:40 + 10:48 + 11:46 + 10:18.
^z - 2013-05-13
4 cyclists + 3 other runners + 2 clusters of noisy kids + 1 scampering rabbit = a fun run in the dark from McLean to Silver Spring. Sara Crum has invited comrades to her lovely home for a potluck dinner and conversation about the upcoming Bighorn trail race in Wyoming that several of them plan to participate in. Jennifer Weiland, Jennifer Sample, Ken Swab, and Barry Smith bring spouses and friends and kids. I hitch a ride with Barry in order to practice eating following by running in the nighttime. After too much feasting I thank our hosts and slip out a little after 9pm.
The jog out of Sara's neighborhood is brief, and from then onward I'm more-or-less repeating two prior runs, 2007-05-25 - Home Run Meltdown and 2010-03-12 - Homeward Bound. This time, though, it's dark and the journey is spookier. The shoulder of VA-123 (Dolley Madison Hwy) feels narrow, so I try to run on the grass when cars zoom past. At the GW Memorial Parkway I cross and take the natural-surface Potomac Heritage Trail through the woods.
A rabbit scampers away from my flashlight beam, as startled by me as I am by it. Careful treading, to avoid a game-ending stumble on rock or root, now slows the pace. Heavy rains yesterday make Pimmit Run rather high, so at mile 2 I get soggy socks crossing when some of the stepping stones are submerged. A nighttime fisherman greets me at the Virginia end of Chain Bridge. After crossing the Potomac into DC I hesitate, then during a gap between cars dart across the Clara Barton Parkway and scramble up the steep path to join the Capital Crescent Trail near milepost 7.
"On your left," a cyclist without lights warns me as he zips by. Tired now, I start taking a ~1 minute walk break every ~5 minutes. Half a dozen noisy young men are walking near the trail at the River Rd bridge. Another small crew hangs out at the eastern end of the tunnel under Wisconsin Av in Bethesda. My pace improves as I home nears. Runkeeper roughly agrees with Garmin GPS splits of 10:51 + 17:34 + 15:48 + 10:41 + 11:21 + 11:12 + 10:46 + 10:14 + 10:53 + 10:52 and a final fractional dash at 10:21 min/mi.
At 11:14pm when I arrive at the front steps, who is sitting there but DS Merle?! He forgot his house key, so after a friend drops him off he walks a couple of miles to Wheaton Plaza, buys a towel to wrap around himself against the cold, and walks back. He hasn't been waiting too long, he says. As I let him in who should pull up in the car but DW Paulette & DD Gray? They return from the Metro which they took downtown to a concert at the Library of Congress. DS Robin is still away, playing Dungeons & Dragons in the College Park area.
^z - 2013-05-15
|Bottom line: 12 hours 29 minutes for my sixth BRR, accompanying audacious Dr Stephanie Fonda who finishes strong in her third and toughest ultramarathon. It's also her best ultra, with steady progress throughout and far fewer problems with feet, knees, digestion, blisters, etc. than on earlier long treks. Perhaps the mini Heath Bars that she consumes every 5-10 miles are the secret? Or maybe smart training, proper hydration, meticulous electrolyte management, and conservative pacing? Or is it, as Stephanie promises during our previous long training run "I'm doing something new at Bull Run. I'm not doing anything new!" — so credit goes to no wacky experiments this time with new shoes, new stride, new foods? (It certainly isn't my nonstop monologue, eh?)|
But on the Thursday evening before BRR I manage to break one of own my cardinal rules, "Protect your feet before a big event." Foolishly barefoot at home in the dining room, I brush my right foot across the hardwood floor and get a splinter in the sole — yow! But fortunately it's only a few millimeters long, and after hobbling around the house I find a magnifying glass and tweezer, and eventually manage to extract the offending sliver. Whew!
Stephanie gets to run the Bull Run Run this year against all odds. She makes it off the waiting list literally during the final few hours before the deadline. It happens much to my surprise, since until the day before I confidently predict that few people would drop out who were ahead of her, and thus she could volunteer at an aid station and count on receiving a high priority for next year's BRR as one who didn't get in. My bad!
In the Hemlock Overlook lodge before the race begins I meet young Jean Kim, preparing for her first ultra. We chat and I give her a pace card I've made, along with encouraging words. Jean follows Stephanie and me for the first several miles, but then we lose sight of her, and sadly she apparently DNFs. Also before the start I greet friendly veterans Caroline Williams and Gary Knipling. Both salute me with fist-bumps.
|Today's weather is somewhat warm, with temperatures rising from the upper 40's into the upper 60's during the day, rather uncomfortable especially when the sun hammers us and breezes pause. My fingers swell up, but not horribly so. Stephanie's do likewise. We take S! electrolyte capsules and Clif Shot energy gels at intervals, drink water from our hydration backpacks whenever we remember to, and nibble on salty treats from the aid stations.|
Fields of lovely bluebell flowers border most of the first 16 miles of trail, the upstream out-and-back part of the BRR course. We go slowly and hold our pace down to 14-15 min/mi. That proves to be a proper tactic today. We make all the cutoffs quite comfortably with 30-45 minutes to spare, and are able to take long walk breaks during the final stages when fatigue begins to set in. As I so often say, "It all turns out OK!"
A red Mophie battery pack charges my iPhone during the run, since otherwise it would have run out of power before the finish. A new Garmin model 910XT, bought after Stephanie's experience with another Garmin extended-battery-life GPS, works well. Both GPS systems diverge by a few percent from each other and both suggest that the course wasn't as long as the official numbers. No matter! See Garmin and Runkeeper for detailed trackfiles and splits.
(photo of ^z by Aaron Schwarzbard)
|"And that will up-regulate the beta oxidative cycle!" A tall fellow is cruising near Stephanie and me during the first part of BRR. We introduce ourselves and commence one of the most technical conversations perhaps to have occurred during an ultramarathon. The gentleman is D. Marshall Porterfield, Purdue University professor who's serving as a NASA project administrator now. Marshall is also an Ironman and a veteran of multiple 100 mile trail runs.|
Stephanie and Marshall discuss diet, diabetes, intermittent fasting, epidemiology and biomedical experimentation during miles 13-16 as we return from the northern turnaround to the Hemlock Overlock start/finish area. A few miles later Marshall pauses to point out a near-perfectly-camouflaged frog on the trail. It looks precisely like a lump of lichen, but with two big beady eyes that watch us. Marshall runs on, and finishes ahead of us in spite of serious knee issues.
|Scary adrenaline-surge moment: at mile 17 during the descent from Hemlock Overlook back to the stream, Stephanie trips on a root or rock and takes a serious fall. It could have been a game-ending face plant. But fortunately, as Stephanie tells it, her (uh) generous (ah) endowment (um) cushions the impact and saves her from a broken nose. A volunteer ahead of us and a runner behind both hear the fall but don't witness it directly. Stephanie emerges with big scrapes on right arm and left leg, as well as a sudden headache and as a badly bruised nose.|
The rest of the race is, thankfully, less eventful. At mile ~25 Stephanie notices little yellow dots covering my face and scalp — seeds from some bush that I brushed against. Coconut-flavored ice pops at an aid station are welcome refreshment and remind us of an in-joke. In the DO LOOP segment of the course, on one of the old rusty car hulks, a giant inflatable "Hello Kitty" balloon bows to us, as Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run" plays on a boom box.
Deep in the woods Stephanie suddenly hears a big tree branch crash to the ground. Thereafter, every time a widow-maker crackles in the wind she jumps. At one point she is so certain that a limb is plummeting to kill us that she covers her head, cowers, and shouts, "Where is it, Mark? Where is it?" Fortunately, nothing seriously threatens, though around mile 40 I feel something bite me on the left shoulder. Frenzied swatting and pinching eventually stops the attack. When I peel back my shirt the creature turns out to be an iridescent emerald-green ant-like insect. Ouch!
As we proceed downstream fast young Keith Knipling greets us as he heads northward on the return trip, a dozen or so miles ahead of us. A few weeks ago Stephanie and I followed his progress at the legendary Barkley Marathons. We step aside and salute him as he passes.
About mile 43 Stephanie and I catch up with Andrew Harter, who is badly dehydrated. Apparently he's trying to do the run without a bottle, a dangerous gambit. Stephanie and I offer him water from our backpacks, and he drinks from mine like a camel, makes it to the Marina aid station, soaks up more fluids there, and successfully finishes just behind us.
In the final segment of the race we meet Shelley Cable. She and Stephanie engage in a rather clinical discussion of breast-feeding, including a friendly competition as to who stayed the course longer for their nursing babies. The duel concludes with a mutual fist-bump celebration. Go Mamas!
(photo of ^z by Aaron Schwarzbard)
|Just before we turn to make the steep final climb to Hemlock Overlook Stephanie spots a lovely Great Blue Heron standing in Bull Run. As we approach the finish line we talk about "Accumulating Positives" and how fortunate we both are to be able to do such an awesome thing as run 50 miles in the woods together. Sweet!|
Kilt-clad comrade Mike Edwards is the organizer of Team Rocket, "the team dedicated to doing evil with Pokemon". We win the Slowest Team Award by a good margin, thanks in part to Mike's waiting several minutes for us just before the home stretch. The official results show:
Mike goes far beyond the call of duty: he picks me up at my home at 4:30am for the drive to the race, and gives both Stephanie and me a ride home afterwards. Bravo, Sir!
|"I'm doing something new at Bull Run," Stephanie Fonda promises. "I'm not doing anything new!" In other words, instead of experimenting during a tough 50 miler with untested gear, food, foot placement, shoe style, etc., this time for a change Stephanie promises to stick to the tried-and-true. Good idea — and the self-referential nature of the line echoes a mini-lecture I gave earlier today on Gödel's Theorem and its self-referential proof of mathematical incompleteness.|
Today is a final major trek before Bull Run Run, six days in the future. Stephanie made it off the Wait List and into the race only during the final hours last night before the deadline. And for both of us, BRR is really just a training run. I'm preparing for the C&O Canal 100 miler at the end of the month, and Stephanie is running the Pittsburgh Marathon early in May. Yes, it's rather audacious (or foolish?) to do a major ultra so close to a goal race, but hey, audacity apparently is a character trait (or fault) we share.
I arrive ~7am via #5 bus to Chez Fonda in Kensington. It's cool, temps in upper 30's or low 40's, with a brisk south wind. Family cat Lava rises onto hind legs and rubs against my hand. Family dog Duck sniffs me as we prepare to go. After a pause to get GPS satellite locks we're on our way, along Strathmore a mile to the Bethesda Trolley Trail (BTT), pausing at the Volunteer Fire Station for photographs by the "LEARN NOT TO BURN" sign. Then onward it is, to downtown Bethesda where Stephanie reminds me to eat and drink. At mile ~5 we join the Capital Crescent trail (CCT). We take walk breaks from the start and try to hold our pace to ~13 min/mi. "It's still too fast for Bull Run," I note, "but I know you can't stand to go any slower!"
Much trail talk ensues, including hypomanic chatter from me despite repeated promises to bite my tongue and stop havering. Stephanie promotes the virtues of toe strike; I concur with the suggestion that "running gently" with a light stride is helpful too. We discuss meditative-awareness mindfulness techniques. Stephanie recommends observing while not reacting, remaining nonjudgmental, and "Accumulating Positives" such as happy memories. I mention the "Notice and Return" and "Softening into Experience" mantras which I've found helpful during hard races and other stressful circumstances. Stephanie tells me about the Nova/PBS special "Decoding Dogs" and recommends it, as well as "Rat Attack". I comment on issues of lower-case-buddhism, the thesis of Stephen Batchelor's Buddhism Without Beliefs and much of Jon Kabat-Zinn's writings. Is it still the same religion if one subtracts karma, reincarnation, and other mysticism? Hard to say, but that's the topic of Owen Flanagan's Bodhisattva's Brain, a book that I'm just beginning to read.
|Both Stephanie and I are still in awe of the Barkley Marathons finishers this year, Nick Hollon and Travis Wildeboer. We fantasize about doing a single Barkley 20 mile loop. I confess to a gentle obsession focusing on The Ring at Massanutten Mountain. We discuss Michael Wardian's be-tough-on-yourself training regime ("I usually don't eat or drink too much on runs as I like to train in the worst possible condition, so on race day, when I have water and PowerGel, it really works.")|
Lots of cute dogs are out on walks today, as are lots of cute fast runners (not to mention cyclists) who zip past as we walk every ~5 minutes or on small hills. At McDonalds in Bethesda, mile 7, we enjoy the facilities and pick up a Senior Coffee (price $0.85), as much for warmth as for caffeine. Stephanie recommends coconut oil for dry skin, and we discuss experiments with Metamucil (psyllium) to possibly reduce cholesterol.
At Fletcher's Boathouse near our mile ~11 we go down to the river to take photos and dip fingers into the water. Airplanes flying into National Airport cruise low over the Potomac River, and Stephanie suggests crossing into Virginia and going to the Marina (Gravelly Point) to lie directly under the Final Approach flight path. I'm reminded of the scene in the movie "Wayne's World" (though I can't remember the movie title at that moment) where Wayne and Garth lie on the hood of their car in an analogous location. We play leapfrog with ladies walking and running on the CCT as we approach Georgetown.
Now Cherry Blossom street closures and crowds slow our progress. We proceed to the Lincoln Memorial and at mile ~15 take photos of each other inside, then pause to touch the engraved marker on the step where Martin Luther King Jr. stood during his "I Have a Dream" speech. East then past the Washington Monument, we miss the chance to visit the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial and the National Science Foundation Einstein Statue — another time, I promise.
"Yeah!" Stephanie says, in faux New York City accent, when her GPS rolls over to 16 miles. We then accelerate for a fast mile 17 along the north side of the national Mall. As we approach Union Station I suggest stopping our GPS's at mile 17.5, but Stephanie insists on a detour to reach 18.0 total.
Au Bon Pain provides coffee, and after phone calls/texts to family we take the subway back to Grosvenor and walk toward Stephanie's place, so she can get ready to visit a sick friend in the hospital. Charlie, Stephanie's husband, sees me waiting at the bus stop as he heads out for an errand. He kindly offers me a ride, and I thank him but decline. Bottom line: I'm down 3 lbs. from dehydration, but feel great. "It turned out OK," as I always say — another fine run with a fine friend!
^z - 2013-05-02
Sweat washes sunscreen into my eyes. The trek down the Metropolitan Branch Trail begins from home at 9:30am. I'm taking the first day off work in a long time; at last I'm approaching use-or-lose territory in the office leave ledger. Temperatures are properly spring-like after a chilly spell, and soon the sleeves are rolled up. No water fountains are working along the route, so I sip cautiously from the single bottle I carry and nibble a Clif Mojo Bar.
Construction blocks a street at Catholic University and forces a detour around a couple of blocks. The mural on the wall outside The Dance Place is repainted: sadly, the comely high-kicking lady that I loved is replaced by a less-eye-catching motley crew. I pause to photograph the new artwork, then accelerate to sprint in honor of Stephanie Fonda's 8:17 at mile 10 near the NoMa Metro station. The Garmin wrist GPS clocks me at 8:11, but Runkeeper is offset and says 8:01.
At Union Station I wander indoors for a few minutes and finally find a working water fountain to refill my bottle. DS Merle texts me and DS Robin phones to suggest a lunch at Jerry's when I return. The shortest route home is up Massachusetts Avenue. In the center of Mount Vernon Square the Washington Public Library donated by Andrew Carnegie is worth pausing to photograph. Behind the benches outside the southern entrance are the words "A VIVERSITY FOR THE PEOPLE". High above the door it says "THIS BVILDING A GIFT OF ANDREW CARNEGIE", "WASHINGTON PVBLIC LIBRARY", and "DEDICATED TO THE DIFFVSION OF KNOWLEDGE". Beneath them the inscription reads "SCIENCE - POETRY - HISTORY". A beautiful structure!
Pauses at traffic lights are minor, but now I'm starting to feel seriously dehydrated. A young woman runs past as we climb Meridian Hill and vanishes into the distance. Walk breaks begin at five minute intervals, then stretch to include anything that looks like an ascent. Metrobuses tempt me to catch a ride. I ponder the possibility of entering a church or knocking on a front door to beg for water. But at last the tall apartment towers in Silver Spring come into view, and I decide to keep on hiking home. My weight is down 4 lbs. Note to self: carry more water!
Runkeeper splits are 9:35 + 10:28 + 8:48 + 9:12 + 9:27 + 10:38 + 9:11 + 9:42 + 10:41 (taking photos at The Dance Place) + 8:01 (blitzing!) + 12:00 (seeking water in Union Station) + 9:41 + 11:49 (taking photos of the Carnegie Library) + 9:50 + 9:57 + 10:45 + 9:56 + 10:49 + 12:05 (increasingly dehydrated) + 12:49 + final fraction at 11:47 min/mi pace. The Garmin data is similar.
At dawn on the last near-freezing morning of spring Ed Brown begins in the lead. Kerry Buckley and Kristin Heckman soon move ahead, however, laughing and chatting. They kindly wait for Ed and me to catch up at each corner. I argue the merits of speedwork. Ed tells of his personal trainer and gymnasium exercise regime. Runkeeper and Garmin GPS concur on distance and pace.
^z - 2013-04-22
"Is that Jesus?" asks a little kid in soccer class as I zip past on my first lap around the lovely rubber-surfaced Bowie High School track. I wave a blessing at him. Before the sun sets there's time for half a dozen 400 meter intervals: 1:43 + 1:39 + 1:39 + 1:37 + 1:39 + 1:36, that last one close to the Puke Point. Taco Bell down the street soon settles my tummy. DW's rehearsal is in the nearby auditorium at the Bowie Center for the Performing Arts. Runkeeper and Garmin show the oval.
^z - 2013-04-19
Cara Marie Manlandro is back for Easter weekend from finishing-up-the-dissertation work in Milwaukee, so at 6:44am we start running at her home. CM hasn't been able to run much on the icy sidewalks — she reports seeing "-10° F" on her car dashboard thermometer one frigid morning — but she's in pretty good shape thanks to her private gym. The facility actually is for general use, but thus far nobody else has ever used it in her experience, at any time of day. Nor do comrades at the University of Wisconsin Medical School climb the stairs or do much other visible activity. Milwaukee is, however, noteworthy for beer, and CM remarks on the freeway that runs through a Miller brewery. She is proud to have maintained her low weight, in spite of all this. We trot along, take walk breaks, and reminisce about races and training runs together. A crimson sunrise gleams through clouds. At the end of Indianola Dr a deer leaps fences and dances through back yards. Garmin GPS and Runkeeper trackfiles concur.
^z - 2013-04-17