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2014-10-29 - Pimmit WOD Trek

7.4 miles @ ~10.4 min/mi

"We beat the sun!" Kerry observes, as we close the loop and approach our starting point. Clouds are just tinging lavender-pink in the east. Our route is the same as three weeks ago, 2014-10-08 - Lunar Eclipse on the WOD, but the pace is ~30 s/mi faster. A big bunny rabbit eyes us when we pause at the water fountain. Kerry's son Fletcher, a high school senior, has received another acceptance letter from a college — yay! Runkeeper captures path and pace.

^z - 2014-11-21

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2014-10-27 - Lewinsville Park

~6.4 miles @ ~10.9 min/mi

Owl? Kerry and Amber shine flashlights up just in time to glimpse a huge gray shape swooping back to the trees above our heads. The eastern horizon is starting to glow as we cut through Lewinsville Park. It's crisp, clear, and calm, with temps in the low 40s. We accelerate in the home stretch as we try to get the average pace down below 11 min/mi. Yesterday Kerry's teenage son expressed disbelief that she can run a marathon. Challenge accepted! Amber is back from visiting family at the Pennsylvania farm, where a barn party was great fun. Splits by the Runkeeper GPS: 11:15 + 11:17 + 10:55 + 10:58 + 10:57 + 10:43 and final half mile at 9:22 — nice "descending" pace!

^z - 2014-11-11

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2014-10-25 - CCT Trek

~18.8 miles @ ~11.2 min/mi

"Grammar Police! Pull over!" I order Santa Steve, whose shirt reads, "Yep. It's really him." He and Joyce are out for a final run before their Marine Corps Marathon attempt tomorrow. I'm doing 10+ miles with Gayatri Datta, talking about the VHTRC Potomac Heritage 50k on 2 Nov. It's a clear cool day, and for most of it my hands stay retracted inside long sleeves.

At 0615 I set out from home, testing the cyclist backpack that my brother Keith gave me. It feels great, with bladder removed and a water bottle in one zippered pouch, a Snickers candy bar in the other. Without a headlamp I trot cautiously for the first few miles. A red light in front of me on the CCT turns into a lady whom I almost collide with when she abruptly turns back at Connecticut Av. Dog-walkers and joggers are shadowy silhouettes except when they pass under streetlights.

At the downtown Bethesda meet-up in front of Barnes & Noble a flock of MCRRC XMP trainees gather. I pause the GPS until Gayatri arrives, and then we set out southward. At Fletchers Boathouse I buy a bottle of Gatorade and gulp it all down. The final four solo miles home feel good.

A sudden awakening: this isn't about "training" for some future run, and it's not about "cashing in" past investments in building speed and endurance — it's simply now, today's happy moments. Whee! Runkeeper records route.

^z - 2014-11-20

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2014-10-24 - Scotts Run Nature Preserve

~12.5 miles @ ~12 min/mi

OK, so I lied!" Kerry says, as we climb yet another ridge on the trail in Scott's Run Nature Preserve, just after she promises, "It's all downhill from here!" The sun is rising and we turn our flashlights off. Kerry knows the route well, since she walks it with her daughter many weekends. Even so, earlier in the dark we go off-course at one point as I chase white blazes. It's a lovely brisk morning. Long sleeves get rolled up and sweatshirts come off, then go back on as the wind picks up and our pace slows. We do a lap around the elementary school track to enhance the GPS map.

Today is a mini-adventure run, meant to gently taunt a colleague who isn't with us as he rests up for Sunday's marathon. "Gentlemen in England now abed / Will think themselves accursed they were not here," I quote Henry V as we start out. Conversation is beautiful and wide-ranging, including discussions of favorite childhood reading, family, health, running, statistics, weekend plans, computer hassles, architecture, and dozens of other themes.

Dog walkers are out in force, both in the park and along the sidewalks. One dog does the classic wrong-side-of-the-post leash trick on its owner, provoking chuckles. I manage not to fall into the water off concrete stepping-stones at two stream crossings. We sprint the last mile, sun in our eyes. Kurt Russell's line from Big Trouble in Little China comes to mind: "I'm just thrilled to be alive!" Runkeeper records the route, with a gap at Starbucks where we stop for iced coffee (tnx, Kerry!). An hour after the run I get an ocular migraine visual disturbance (a slowly growing blind spot) but no headache follows.

^z - 2014-11-08

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2014-10-20 - Limping through McLean

~3.5 miles @ ~15.8 min/mi

We are the walking wounded: Kerry's back is troublesome after her workouts pumping iron on Saturday and Sunday, Kristin's hip (psoas? flexor?) hurts since last week, and my cold has me sniffling and achy. So under the circumstances we're sensible: run two miles to warm up, admire an old crescent moon and crisp stars, observe the lights at McLean HS track, give thanks that we can enjoy being here without judgment or expectation, share stories of family events from the past weekend — and when things still feel crummy, walk back. With temps in the low 40s, a hot shower feels good! Runkeeper tells the tale.

^z - 2014-11-18

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2014-10-19 - Sunday Silver Spring Sprint

~8 miles @ ~9.5 min/mi

When the ugly head cold that hits yesterday doesn't flee upon attack last night by veggie hot-and-sour soup plus General Tso's pseudo-chicken, it's double-down time: a brisk afternoon dash to blow dust out of the pipes! Speed north along Georgia Ave to Wheaton, cut through a corner of the park, then pause the GPS at New Place for a glass of ice water and a pinch of salt thanks to kind DS1. Ramble back via neighborhood streets, with a bit of natural-surface trail in the stream valley behind Flora Singer Elementary School. Admire Halloween decorations taking shape in front yards along the way. Runkeeper record shows consistent splits, 9:03-9:45 min/mi range.

^z - 2014-11-16

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2014-10-18 - Downtown Baltimore Ramble

~13 mies @ ~11.3 min/mi

"Who the #%*% plans this $@%#?" shouts a pick-up truck driver stuck in traffic near the Baltimore Marathon route. DD has an audition in downtown Charm City, so I undertake a random-walk down to the harbor and around the neighborhood. As we approach our parking area near Meyerhoff Symphony hall the leader of the marathon cruises past, at his mile 25, escorted by police motorcycles

Today's trek begins by following a lady runner for a few blocks. She seems to know the neighborhood, but reverses course abruptly in what looks like a rough neighborhood. From there, it's south to the Inner Harbor, join the marathon course for a few cobblestone blocks near mile 13, take the bayside path down to Fells Point, then follow the boardwalk to Canton Waterfront Park, beyond which "it gets pretty industrial" as a fast young runner tells me.

After a loop through a Korean War Memorial I head back, pausing for photo ops on the bay, at the National Katyn Memorial, and the Washington Monument. Then pause at the car to get water, pay another $1 for two more hours of parking, and head northwest climbing toward Druid Lake. After a wrong turn I miss the chance to circle the hill, and instead loop across high bridges over I-83. My return is just in time to meet DD and head for home. Runkeeper maps the route.

^z - 2014-11-13

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2014-10-15 - Roadkill Raccoon

~6.4 miles @ ~12.1 min/mi

"Watch out!" Flashlight beams reveal a roadkill raccoon on the side of the street for Kerry, Kristin, and me to detour around. We're experimenting with a new loop, involving Old Chesterbrook, Birch, Kirby, and Westmoreland Rds. As usual, my distance estimate is 10-20% low. Oops! But the neighborhood is nice, though frugal on streetlights. I find a shiny 2014 Lincoln cent glittering on the asphalt.

A giant screaming eagle statue perches on top of a mansion, glowing in a spotlight. Lightning flickers low in the southwest, humidity is high, and winds gust, but heavy rains hold off. A last quarter moon peeks through, then vanishes. Near the McLean HS soccer field a rabbit scampers across our path, then pauses to eye us. Outbound we do a loop around the track, to enhance the GPS map. We take "Kerry's Cut-Through" to save a few steps on the return trip. "I like having paths named for me!" Kerry comments. We hear crickets, and during cooldown stretches Kristin notes golden treetops and pink gleams in a cloud gap. Runkeeper records route.

^z - 2014-11-06

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2014-10-13 - McLean Mansion Loop

~10 miles @ ~11.7 min/mi

"Whoa!" Kerry dodges as the squirrel leaps past her face on its way from fence to tree. At first glimpse it looks like a low-flying hawk to her; I mistake it for a bat. Kristin, in the lead, sees it scampering toward us along the top bar of the steel railing by the path. Apparently the critter didn't notice the two of us running behind her. We take a walk break to let the adrenaline subside.

Today's pre-dawn trot along Benjamin St includes a couple of big deer feasting in a front yard. We come up with more than a dozen words for "walk" — including amble/shamble/ramble, saunter, stroll, strut, etc. My shirt comes off during the middle miles: "Don't look back!" I warn the Drs K. We debate the value of getting badges or name tags for us to show to concerned citizens, who might wonder why we're out so early. "McLean Mansion Society" loses the vote to "Neighborhood Watch". Runkeeper records our ramble.

^z - 2014-11-04

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2014-10-12 - RCT-BTT-CCT Loop

~13 miles @ ~10.7 min/mi

In the flashlight beam, eight deer along Rock Creek; at dawn, four rabbits by the Trolley Trail on the NIH campus; as the sun rises, one more of each next to the Capital Crescent/Georgetown Branch. At 7:01am, a minute behind schedule, I meet Sam Yerkes and Gayatri Datta in downtown Bethesda. We walk back to the parking lot, Gayatri drops off extra layers, and Rebecca Rosenberg soon arrives. Near Meadowbrook Stables we see Barry Smith's eye-searing orange shirt as he awaits us. I fist-bump him in the middle of East-West Hwy, hand over escort duty, and head upstream for home.

Approximate mile splits by GPS: 10.4 + 10.9 + 11.3 + 11.4 + 9.7 + 9.2 + 13.2 (Bethesda meet-up) + 10.6 + 11.5 + 11.2 + 9.9 + 10.4 + 9.0 — as recorded by Runkeeper.

^z - 2014-11-02

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