WinterFantasies

The new year begins with a decent fortnight of footing, plus a heavy dose of hubris as I fantasize the weeks ahead:

How much (if any) of this will actually occur? Much depends on health, family, work, and weather. My goal remains simply to enjoy myself, regardless of speed (or rather, my lack thereof). Along the way, recent hoof times on trails and treadmills have brought happy experiences, simply For Themselves:

Glowing Green Eyes

(2 Jan 2005) - 10+ miles, 126 minutes --- Another fun evening jog with Adam Safir [1], lengthened a bit for me when I get lost trying to find Adam's house on the winding streets between Walter Reed Annex, the Capital Beltway, and Rock Creek. We proceed upstream, turn north on the Kensington Parkway, and then take University Blvd. through Wheaton to Sligo Creek Trail, where we encounter a couple of big dogs, their eyes shining eerily bright as they retroreflect in our headlamps. (They don't threaten us, thankfully.) The weather is pleasant, ~45°F --- infinitely more comfortable than yesterday's record heat --- and the conversation is good ... personal horror stories, training plans, and comments about the neighborhoods we're passing through.

Fog or Phantasm?

(4 Jan) - 8 miles, 85 minutes --- to Bethesda & back on the Georgetown Branch Trail, 7-8:30pm, nice ~50°F evening. The water fountain (near milepost 3.5) is fixed, thank goodness, but there are unusual muddy patches between the Wisconsin Avenue tunnel and the East-West Highway bridge. The air seems somewhat foggy, particularly above Rock Creek --- or is it another one of those OcularMigraines that I seem to be subject to on occasion? I encounter several cyclists on the trail, with their blinding headlights, and overtake one walker bearing a flickering red LED on his backpack.

Treadmill Traveler

(7, 9, 10, 11, 12 Jan) - 5*5 miles --- On business travel for the week I run in the hotel "health club": five treadmill miles on Friday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday ... zero gradient, just trotting along and wiping sweat off my face every minute or two with a beach towel, slowing briefly to a walk every mile in order to take a drink and recover. A gradually improving sense of pace lets me increase the average speed steadily during the week, so my times respectively are 53, 53, 49, 48, and 46.5 minutes ...

Mud Wallow

(14 Jan) - 11 miles, 135 minutes --- I dither about where to go, then finally set out at 4:15pm along the Georgetown Branch route to Bethesda. The cold front has passed and the trail has some puddles, but nothing to impede jogging. I feel a bit weak but decide to carry on and do my habitual loop around NIH. Winds increase and the temperature falls into the lower 40's as I go north on Old Georgetown Road; I'm getting seriously tired now, and somewhat chilled. As the sun sets I don a headlamp and turn onto Cedar Lane.

The adventure begins when I reach Rock Creek Trail and commence the final 3.5 mile trek toward home. Heavy rains overnight have flooded many sections of the trail between Cedar and Connecticut, and where the waters have receded there are rippled muddy sloughs. It's dark now, and I frequently attempt to zig-zag off the asphalt to avoid wetting my feet --- but usually that leads to swamps and more moisture rather than less.

Then at Connecticut Avenue I foolishly follow the usual trail route, rather than taking the alternative high road to cross at the traffic light. The pools of water increase in size and depth, but I navigate them. Then I arrive at the underpass. It looks passable, but as soon as I step into the mud deposits there I discover that they're much deeper and wetter than any previous patches. My shoes sink completely into the muck and are almost pulled off by the suction. My socks are covered to above the ankle. I almost slip a couple of times, but luckily catch myself (and get mud on a glove in the process).

The final few miles are slow but uneventful. My pace begins ~11 minutes/mile but slows to ~13 at the end. A 4-day-old crescent moon glimmers through the clouds.

Three Merry Men

(16 Jan) - 4+ miles, 50 minutes --- Ken Swab comes by and gives me a lift to meet Adam Safir at Walter Reed Annex, where the trio commences a conversational jog at 6:30pm. It's slightly above freezing, so puddles remain liquid and muddy patches are still sloppy. We jog together down Ireland Drive to Rock Creek Trail and follow the MitP route south to join the Georgetown Branch Trail, and thence circle back around the other side of WRx. Glows from reflected city lights (and a first-quarter moon behind the clouds) make flashlights almost optional, though some shadowy rough spots threaten to twist ankles. I become tired and fold without trying a true through-the-woods unpaved trail adventure (which Adam would like to do some day).

Towpath Ramble

(17 Jan) - 4 miles, 48 minutes --- Comrade Ken Swab introduces me to part of the C&O Canal that I've never seen before. We start at Lock #7 and jog upstream to Lock #11 (milepost 9), then return (with a little extra to pass beyond milepost 7). It's frigid at 25°F plus intermittent winds in our face outbound, in spite of the bright afternoon sunlight. I wear corduroy jeans on top of two pairs of running shorts, two shirts, gloves, and a headband which keeps my ears warm enough. Apparently the top of my head doesn't need protection against the elements.

Ken is far better a naturalist than I; he reports that among the creatures he pointed out to me:

They were black vultures, not the more common turkey vultures (which have red heads). The white wing spots are characteristic. So not a bad day --- run 4 mi., see ducks (seemed to be mallards to my untrained eye), six black vultures, a cardinal, a (likely great blue) heron, and a pair of deer.


TopicRunning - TopicPersonalHistory - Datetag20050117


(correlates: NoRetrenchment, OutOfSync, 2008-08-21 - Wye Island, ...)