|A rabbit scampers across the parking lot at 0545 as Kristin and I do warm-up loops, admire Venus and Jupiter low in the east, identify Auriga's bright star Capella halfway up, and tip heads back to peer at a third-quarter moon high overhead. Kerry arrives and leads us along beautiful woodsy paths through McLean back yards, winding along small streams and past the community center and library and playgrounds, where her kids first learned to ride their bikes.|
We pause at "Benvenue", a colonial farmhouse that was also a Civil War field hospital, and at Starbucks where Kerry insists on buying us coffee. On the way back, we're overtaken by a pack of ~40 McLean High School cross-country runners. Kerry recognizes one of her daughter's friends. The school parking lot is blocked off and marked for marching band practice. Kristin recalls long-ago days as a majorette.
^z - 2014-09-02
Kerry and Amber both leave for family holiday Saturday, so much of today's conversation revolves around vacation readings. Kerry again mentions The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson, which her kids in high school are enjoying; it involves cyborg-human philosophical issues. I put in plugs for P. G. Wodehouse's humor, Liz Williams and Roger Zelazny for literary sf, and the early cyberpunk works of Vernor Vinge, William Gibson, and Neil Stephenson. Amber has recently suggested Winter's Tale and Oryx & Crake, which she offers to lend me. We loop through Pimmit Hills, pause at the office to unlock for colleagues, and then at Kerry's suggestion trot to McLean HS for a lap around the track to jazz up the GPS map. Runkeeper and Garmin capture path and pace.
^z - 2014-08-31
Three big bunnies and four deer greet new comrade Peter Mörtl, Kerry, Kristin, Amber, and me for a dawn neighborhood loop near the office. Kristin starts early and has ~1.5 miles already in the bank when I meet her for an orbit of the parking lot. At the loading dock then we pick up the others at 6am. The cut-through path takes us across Pimmit Run to Lemon Rd Elementary School, where Kristin points out lovely low fog on the meadow. As she crouches low beneath tree branches in front of the church I say, "You should practice 'Snake Creeps Down'!" (a T'ai Chi form). Amber reports on her long bike ride with family over the weekend. Kerry rolls an ankle on Idlywood Rd, fortunately not too badly. Runkeeper and Garmin record our actions.
^z - 2014-08-31
As Mary Ewell and I are about to start our run at Sligo-Dennis Rec Center a woman passerby says, "Hi, Mark!" It's fast Theresa Allio, whom I ran with last month and of course fail to recognize. "I'm sorry, but you'll have to embarrass me a few dozen more times before I learn your name and face!" I sadly tell her. (cf. 2014-07-13 - Meet Theresa).
Three rabbits flee during a warm and humid Sunday afternoon trek, as Mary and I alternately walk and sprint along Sligo Creek. A digression on natural-surface trail and neighborhood roads takes us to the big millpond near Dennis Av that Barry Smith showed me last year. Fun conversations touch upon the value of lovingkindness (metta) meditation, upcoming race plans, the challenges of working for an unenlightened boss, the benefits of weight training, and the importance of listening to one's spouse. The payoff: a Chinese feast at Palais du Lune that includes eggplant in garlic sauce and veggie egg fu yung. Runkeeper and Garmin show the way.
^z - 2014-08-30
|"You hold the camera for the selfie," I tell the quiet woman in white at the National Park Seminary. "I'm sweaty, and I hate to see my arm sticking up into the foreground!" She silently agrees, and does a good job taking the mile 9+ photo of us.|
Sunday morning is humid; the shirt is soon soggy. In spite of deliberate exploratory meanders en route to the Candy Cane City 0730 rendezvous I'm early. So circle the ballfields, loop back to the stables, and greet flocks of training-group runners trotting down Rock Creek Trail. When the last of the Usual Suspects arrives (~12 min late, which makes for a slow Mile 4 split) head upstream.
One climb of the Mormon Temple hill is enough. Barry and I lag behind Ken and Rebecca as we tour Kensington, revisiting streets where DD practiced driving yesterday. The ancient iPhone 4 is still acting erratically, perhaps a consequence of yesterday's sweat-soaking? The on/off switch on the wrist Garmin GPS is likewise becoming iffy.
^z - 2014-08-28
"Back by 11!" is the good-bye kiss promise to DW at dawn. Cut it close: at 10:58am, cross the crack at the end of the front steps and stop the GPS. Luckily a freight train at the grade crossing down the street is short and doesn't make me miss the deadline.
This morning, trot briskly from home to arrive ten minutes early in downtown Bethesda for a 7am meet-up with the Usual Suspects, greeting packs of XMP training program runners heading east on the gravel path. Do an exploratory loop around the 'hood to kill time. Barry, Emaad, Ken, and Rebecca materialize — one of them ten minutes late and dropping lightly-euphemized F-bombs about drivers who cause delay. We trot together down the Capital Crescent Trail. Everybody but me plans to do the Marine Corps Marathon again this year.
Original thought: go ~15 miles. But the weather is so nice that, at Fletchers Boathouse where others turn back, the old feet say "Excelsior!" and insist on continuing downriver. Then Marty Kiebert introduces himself, and we jog for a mile together. He's a year older than me, birthday in a few days. We've seen each other at local races for the past decade but have never properly chatted. Marty suffers from a torn quad and has slowed down a wee bit. He's doing an out-and-back to the Arlington Cemetery, building toward the Portland Marathon in a few months. We agree on the wisdom of not comparing oneself to others, or to one's past self either. Now is what counts!
At the Georgetown waterfront a friendly amateur photographer snaps a shot of me with his SLR as I pass by a high-arcing decorative water fountain. I pause and he shows it on the display. "Want me to go back and do it again?" I offer. "Sure!" he says, so I reenact the scene.
Garden hose water tastes a bit rubbery at the Thompson Boat Center but fills the empty bottle. Walk breaks increase in frequency and duration as I meander upstream along Rock Creek. At the National Zoo, take the longer path rather than lose GPS lock in the parkway tunnel. Bicycles zip past runners along the pavement. Continue along the trail for the final miles, to make the map prettier and avoid retracing the same route home. Garmin on the wrist reads ~1% less than iPhone distance estimate.
Fuel for today's trek: a cup of coffee and two chocolate chip cookies before starting, and en route two little bags of salty "Sports Beans" and a mini Heath Bar. Take several "Succeed!" electrolyte capsules to replace sweat losses of Na and K. Runkeeper and Garmin record route.
^z - 2014-08-26
One stone garden rabbit, one swift sidewalk chipmunk, one bush full of small reddish-tinged birds (juvenile cardinals?) in the mini-park, and one 1972 Philadelphia mint nickel picked up from the parking lot as we extend the usual Pimmit Hills loop westward along Magarity all the way to Leesburg Pike. Drs Kerry and Kristin trek along the Route 7 frontage road, rather hilly, as we pass a county library, a strip-mall Trader Joe's, a Korean church, and other attractions half-remembered from years ago. Kerry's mention of tequila brings to mind the photo taken a couple evenings ago of stalactite glasses hanging from the ceiling above a TexMex bar. Kristin's shin still hurts, especially during hill climbs, but she sprints to finish strong, then leads scary-low "Snake Creeps Down" hip flexor/adductor stretches. Her tangerine top is a near-match to the international orange of construction signs along the highway. Runkeeper and Garmin record route and pace.
^z - 2014-08-24
Big red rubber ball Sun rises in front of Amber, Kerry, Kristin, and me as we trot down Chain Bridge Rd into McLean, with a high contrail pointing the way. Turn left at Starbucks, then on a side street pause to wet head with Kristin in a lawn sprinkler's spray. Reminisce about 1950's & '60's science fiction novels read in ill-spent youth, reminded of Eric Frank Russell's Wasp as we follow Wasp St to cross via another park to Davis St and return. Kerry's son Fletcher is 17 today (Happy Birthday!); she tells of a high school book club novel involving questions of "What is a person?", which leads to discussion of mind, robotics, animal consciousness, Hans Moravec, Daniel Dennett, etc. Add an extra loop around the office campus to get GPS readings past 5.00 miles as we return to the loading dock start-finish line. Join Kristin in dangerous-to-old-tendon cool down stretches. Runkeeper and Garmin data concur.
^z - 2014-08-22
|The hills giveth (outbound) and the hills taketh away (on the home stretch). Goldfinches flit across the road as we set out on Riley's Rumble, a summer half-marathon. Today is thankfully cool and cloudy. Pace is too fast for the first few miles, and the result is a few minutes slower than last year's PB but still happily under 2 hours. I try to "Soften into Experience" and "Notice the Music", current mantras that seem to help. The Aloe Blacc song "Wake Me Up When It's All Over" is on heavy mental rotation. At mile ~11 a young guy passes me and comments on the hills ahead. "Don't say the H-Word!", I admonish him.|
Based on course markings painted on the road, splits are: 8.1 + 7.9 + 8.3 + 9.1 + 8.0 + 9.1 + 8.4 + 9.5 + 9.4 + 8.7 + 8.4 + 9.7 + 8.7 and a final ~0.1 mile fraction in 0.8 min. I finish behind 23 women and 93 men. Alice Franks, age 66, chats with me in the initial miles, then blasts ahead to finish 1:49:30. We start perhaps ~10 seconds behind the line.
^z - 2014-08-19
Four rabbits (others spy five) observe us on Hunting Av during the last mile. Amber and I warm up by attempting to spell "MIT" on the parking lot Etch-A-Sketch style; we run out of space and time before finishing "MITRE". Kerry and David lead us on neighborhood streets toward the south. In tiny Pimmit View Park Kerry takes a big spider web in the face for the group. Inspired, I demonstrate the hand-held-up salute used in the old silent movie Phantom of the Opera to keep an assassin's garrote, "The Punjab Lasso", from closing around one's neck, and explain how a similar pose can be used to intercept and deflect cobwebs. At 0630 we meet Ed and go another ~3 miles. I pause the GPS and divert briefly to open up the office for colleagues. Runkeeper and Garmin capture pace and map the meanders.
^z - 2014-08-17