Running Logbook

2019-11-01 - Like a Child at the Grown-Up Table

~5.9 mi @ ~13.9 min/mi

"I felt like a child at the grown-ups' table!" says Plato, of a meeting last week with some stratospheric-senior officers.

"Au contraire," Drs Peg & Pokey reply, "remember, you actually know something, and sharing your insight with them is a huge gift! Don't assume they're too stupid to appreciate that!" Dawn Patrol dodges puddles and fallen branches from last night's storms, pausing to pick up flotsam and set blown-over trash cans upright again.

"Those who are wisest say the least!" comments Pokey, and then continues a nonstop monologue, with asides on physicist Richard Feynman at Oak Ridge during WWII, letting-go of goals, the importance of yellow supergiant star Canopus for spacecraft navigation, and how mispronouncing words is the mark of a well-read person. In the men's locker room afterwards he introduces colleague-ultrarunner Jack to Plato, and shares a photo of Jack K from the Laverdo ultramarathon captioned, "An ultrarunning stud and some guy named Anton."

(trackfile) - ^z - 2019-11-16

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2019-10-30 - Dragon Fire

~4.8 mi @ ~12.7 min/mi

"Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars, / And say 'These wounds I had on Crispin's day.'" Plato rolls down a sock and shows Pokey the scabs on his ankle, where during his first marathon he had tucked away $2 in case of need. Ouch! Dawn Patrol rambles in the gloom through Pimmit Hills where an inflated Halloween dragon breathes faux fire.

"Don't let me slack off! Keep pushing!" We dash up hills; GPS glitches inside Starbucks add a fake 0.3 miles to the trackfile. A polite car stops and beeps to signal us to cross the road.

(trackfile) - ^z - 2019-11-13

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2019-10-28 - Competitive Eaters

~3.7 mi @ ~14.8 min/mi

"Reversal of Fortune!" - a euphemism to describe what happens when a speed eater can't keep the goods down. Headlamp glow leads Dawn Patrol to Starbucks for the now-traditional cold-weather caffeine infusion. New codenames are discussed, along with machine learning technology readiness. Plato considers his next marathon; Peg correctly predicts Pokey's response. Perhaps it's time for something completely different? Orion rides high in the southern sky. We ponder what we might not notice, recalling the parable in David Foster Wallace's "This Is Water":

There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, "Morning, boys. How's the water?" And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, "What the hell is water?"

(trackfile) - ^z - 2019-11-07

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2019-10-27 - Keep on Swimming

~15 mi @ ~14.5 min/mi

"The Three Inseparables!" Athos, Porthos and Aramis - aka Square Peg, The Professor, and Pokey - enjoy a soggy jog with 30,000 friends. The 2019 Marine Corps Marathon is a recovery run after recent illness, overtraining, undertraining, and carousing. We carpool, take the Metro from East Falls Church into town, and during heavy rain find the nicest Starbucks in Rosslyn.

"Dr Z!" shouts somebody in the crowd as we cross the starting line. Pokey picks up a red mini-towel and wrings it out many times along the way. We meet Scottish level 10 Marathon Maniac Carolyn at mile 3, get a quick hug from Sean Hotchkiss at mile 9, and chat with Bill who is doing his 22nd MCM. Comrade Griz (aka Danger Man) waves at us as he runs the 50k and finishes it in 7 hours. Hanes Point is ankle-deep flooded. The sun comes out and we declare victory at mile 15, having done 3x more distance than planned. Thank you, amigos!

(trackfile) - ^z - 2019-11-06

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2019-10-23 - Columbus Marathon Debrief

~2.6 mi @ ~19 min/mi

"Apparently, we've made a decision!" says Keymaster, as Dawn Patrol dithers and then chooses street over sidewalk at an ambiguous construction divider. A few seconds later, "Car back!" We dart through the fence to safety, and discuss Generative Adversarial Networks ("... the coolest idea in machine learning in the last twenty years ...") along with how to be both empathetic and empowering to those who are chronically ill.

Coffee in hand, we analyze Keymaster's first marathon, Columbus, held just a few days ago. It was a great experience despite twinges in the final miles and a depleted phone battery. Back at our start, however: "I've forgotten my clothes!" Hmmmm - perhaps worth memorializing via a new trail name, if it happens again?

(trackfile) - ^z - 2019-11-04

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2019-10-19 - Ghost Train 30 Miler

~30 mi @ ~15.9 min/mi

Thank you, Mary!

Dr Mary Ewell and Mark Zimmermann before the 2019 Ghost Trail"A thousand times better!" Good Dr M rates how she feels today vs three weeks ago at the Clarence DeMar Marathon. The New Hampshire morning is crisp as we find our place at the back of the starting line crowd.
"You cannot DNF the Ghost Train!" event officials say. Whatever distance runners go in 30 hours is the race they finish. The course is decorated in a Halloween theme with carved pumpkin jack-o-lanterns galore. This array spells out "Ghost Train Rail Trail Race".Ghost Train jack-o-lanterns
Ghost Train unicorn rider"The terrifying rocky hill isn't quite that scary this time!" Roadkill discovers that memory can be deceiving; last year left an inaccurate recollection of how hard one segment was. Besides static displays of skeletons, ghosts, witches, etc., some participants wear costumes. The best is this unicorn-rider.
Comrades Slow Twitch and Jaybird enjoy their journey on the Ghost Train: Dr Stephanie does 45 miles and then takes a break to warm up; Court Jester Jon goes past 60 before coming to his senses in the chilly night.Dr Stephanie Fonda and Mark Zimmermann at the Ghost Train 2019
photo by David Metsky of Mary Ewell and Mark Zimmermann at the Ghost Train 2019 startDr M runs 15 miles, continuing her recovery ramp-up. Roadkill rambles 30, half as far as last time, and decides to declare victory before nightfall. It's such a beautiful day!

As always, infinite thanks to dear friend Mary for her awesome encouragement and kind company!

(trackfile) - ^z - 2019-11-02

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2019-10-14 - Empire Starbucks vs Rebel Alliance Peets

~4.9 mi @ ~13.2 min/mi

"Noooooooooooo!" The cry for caffeine echoes among officer towers as Dawn Patrol discovers Starbucks closed for a federal holiday. Two miles later a Peets Coffee infusion brings us back from a near-death experience. Whew!

"Machine Learning plagiarism," Keymaster tells about Siraj Raval, semi-celebrity-influencer-youtuber. As Vicki Boykis says, "He had all the skills necessary to command attention on the internet. But he didn't yet have the underlying technical skills to actually teach the content, or organization skills to run a course for learners." You have to have something to say.

"And I didn't fall down!" Keymaster describes yesterday's fast Army 10 miler. First marathon: next Sunday. Woot!

(trackfile) - ^z - 2019-11-01

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2019-10-13 - Towpath Georgetown Coffee

~6.8 mi @ ~17.8 min/mi

Army 10 miler Georgetown DC Key Bridge"He even smells great!" Slow-Twitch and K2 comment quietly, as an awesomely-developed Adonis runs by. Half a mile later he reverses course to head homeward and greets us with a baritone "Hello again!" in passing. The ladies try not to stumble; Roadkill and Jaybird admit to feeling inadequate. "I've gotta get to the gym!" someone comments. "And work on your cheeks?" asks someone else.

Dawn Patrol's Sunday stroll begins at Fletchers Boathouse and proceeds down the C&O Canal towpath to Georgetown. On the way a fallen tree offers a chance for cross-training. Flood barriers are up and the Potomac River splashes the shore. Kayaks paint a waterside rainbow. A happy corgi tugs his leash as we grab coffee and head for the Key Bridge, where Army 10 Miler participants swoop by, two miles into their race. "Go Navy, uh, I mean Army!"

"Their flowers look like a kid's attempt to draw a tulip," says Slow-Twitch, describing the Liriodendron tulipifera she found growing near her home and plans to transplant. A great green witch perches atop a condo complex; a blue heron soars above the water. We analyze upcoming races: Ghost Train next weekend, then Marine Corps and Richmond marathons, the Devil Dog, and next year Vol State. "Nothing to prove, and no goals — we'll just do whatever number is written on our hearts!"

(trackfile) - ^z - 2019-10-28

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2019-10-12 -One Big Taper

~8.8 mi @ ~16 min/mi

"It's all one big taper!" says Griz. Meaning his preparation for imminent races? Or Life, writ large? K2 and Roadkill arrive at 6-dark-30 and survey the neighborhood, Starbucks blonde roast in hand. Bethesda Fine Arts Festival setup is underway in the street as we window-shop Anthropologie, then set off south-south-west with Ken & Griz. Shiny tanks of liquid nitrogen vent by Little Falls Trail, fog cascading into a ditch. Porquoi?

A side trail leads us out of the park and past Corps of Engineers facilities that process water for the District. GPS mega-glitches in the Dalecarlia Tunnel add a spurious 2.4 miles to the trackfile. Ken tells of a noir festival underway at the American Film Institute, and describes Roadside America, a huge indoor miniature village in Shartlesville PA. Super-cute dogs sit on command, tip heads toward their masters, and greet runners. A tiny terrier is excited to spy a chipmunk.

(trackfile) - ^z - 2019-10-27

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2019-10-11 - Cute Kits

~5.2 mi @ ~12.7 min/mi

"Strong beliefs weakly held!" suggests Keymaster — decisiveness, subject to change in the face of new evidence. Dawn Patrol trots briskly on a brisk morning to the coffee shop, rambles back through Pimmit Hills, then gets completely disoriented within an apartment complex. Maybe we're circling a black hole and it's rotating our coordinate system? Sunrise shifts to the southwest; the compass spins wildly; we're in a twisty maze of little cul-de-sac passages.

"Cute kits!" A ceramic family of faux foxes guards a garage. We find our way out of the maze and sprint back to work. Roadkill recommends Impro, a book on improvisational theatre by Keith Johnstone. "Just say 'Yes, and...' to everything!"

(trackfile) - ^z - 2019-10-23

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