Last year ended with 1152 miles in the jogging logbook, including the Washington Birthday Marathon 2004, the 50k HAT Run 2004, the Tussey Mountainback 2004 fifty miler, and the MarineCorpsMarathon2004. Spreadsheet analysis may follow some day, but meanwhile I've updated the topographic map and aerial photo of TenLeagueLeyLines to include several new non-competitive journeys around the extended neighborhood (click on the thumbnails to see more detailed images):
The major additions to the routes of 2002 and 2003 include urban and suburban crossovers between the Sligo Creek/Northwest Branch/Northeast Branch basins and Rock Creek Trail, plus the short but sweet Anacostia River Trail.
And for the record, the final five ^z outings of 2004 (plus the initial sadly short sally of 2005) were as follows:
Cat Stevens is on heavy rotation for the mental eight-track this evening, as a gibbous moon casts strong shadows across the trails. I'm a trifle underdressed for the temperature (~30F): thin tights and a single pair of shorts makes for some goose bumps south of the equator, and a wool floppy hat leaves the ear lobes rather exposed. Too many cars are still commuting along Beach Drive at 7pm and I experience brief delays where Rock Creek Trail crosses the road.
The wildlife is too smart to be out tonight, but three cyclists zoom by and there are also two dog walkers and a strolling couple. There's ice on the shores of the stream, and frozen puddles by trailside. I shuffle gingerly across one slippery patch on the route itself.
My pace is brisk (for me), ~10:15 on the measured mile segments. From home I cross Walter Reed Annex and trot on RCT from miles 2.3 to 4.0 where I reverse course and proceed south to 1.3, thence home again on the Georgetown Branch and neighborhood streets. Happy Winter Solstice!
Off work early, finished with errands, so there's time for a quick jog at 3:30pm. Torrential rains an hour ago turn normally-dry areas into water hazards. In Walter Reed Annex the forest trail ("Ireland Drive") is lined with fallen leaves that form mini-riverbanks and channelize runoff down the path where it can't be avoided. Once I reach Rock Creek Trail the puddles are even deeper, as are the feeder streams that cut across the normal route. I zigzag and tiptoe as best as I can but still my socks are soon wet. When I reach Connecticut Avenue the underpass is flooded, apparently a couple of feet deep, with ugly brown mudwater ... so I chicken out and reverse course. I meet a couple of young lady joggers and caution them, probably unnecessarily.
When I set out, in shorts and windshirt plus gloves, it is so warm (~50F) that I leave my cap at home. But after an hour the rain stops and the temperature drops; winds roar through the treetops, rip the clouds, and expose shreds of deep blue sky. I continue at slightly-sub-11:00 pace. Rock Creek has risen higher than I can ever remember seeing it. At the Georgetown Branch trestle I discover that rushing waters have surrounded the easternmost pylon and cover the trail to a depth of 3-4 inches. I wade through, since this is one of my traditional measured course segments (MitP mile 23), and even though my shoes make squishy-squanky sounds for a while I feel good and finish the mile in 9:57.
During the final two-mile trot home the sun is setting behind me, and low in the southeast I see a beautiful fragment of an unusually dark crimson-colored semi-rainbow. Apparently almost all the blue sunlight has been filtered out by the intervening atmosphere, leaving only the red end of the spectrum ...
Nice evening ramble and fun conversation with Adam Safir (http://anstyn.com/ ) starting ~6:15pm at Walter Reed Annex. The temperature is ~30F. I'm comfortable and Adam is too warm during the first half of the trip, but as the wind picks up and the air cools down (and our pace slows) I get slightly chilly while Adam feels just right. We follow Rock Creek to Cedar Lane, navigating carefully across icy patches and semi-frozen mud wallows; then it's Cedar past NIH to Old Georgetown and thence south to Bethesda, returning home via Georgetown Branch (turning north at Jones Mill Road to get Adam back home on time).
We discover that we have identical LED headlamps but slightly differing philosophies about training, web development, the risks of jogging alone through the woods, walk breaks, and the appropriateness of blocking public roads for running events. Both of us are more-or-less lapsed Utilitarians.
Important safety tip: don't watch a certain scene of the movie Dodgeball right before going out on a run. In the film Lance Armstrong makes a cameo appearance. At a critical moment he meets a character who's about to drop out of the competition. Lance tells him:
Quit? You know, once I was thinking of quitting when I was diagnosed with brain, lung and testicular cancer all at the same time. But with the love and support of my friends and family, I got back on the bike and won the Tour de France five times in a row. But I'm sure you have a good reason to quit. So what are you dying of that's keeping you from the finals?
If, like me today, you've just changed into jogging garb and are about to hit the road when you see that ... well, suffice it to say that you're not going to feel good about wimping out just because it's a little chilly. What Would Lance Do? Carry on!
So today's loop is a brisk one, especially since the temperature is ~30F. I proceed at ~10:30 pace on my Sligo-Wheaton-Kensington Loop. (from home to Sligo Creek via Forest Glen, north to University Blvd., then west through Wheaton to Kensington, continuing along Connecticut Ave. to Washington St., thence to Kensington Parkway and homeward along Rock Creek Trail.)
A small detour lets me get in a timed mile near the end, the somewhat downhill MitP #21, which zips by in 9:15. Icy patches along the route cause occasional pauses. I turn on my headlamp at ~5pm, strobing to deter turning auto traffic, and arrive back home at 6pm.
Off work 3 hours early, wife & daughter out shopping with friends, one son at the movies, the other son immersed in computer/video activities --- so left to my own devices I set out for another long slow jog.
But first I dither: west or east? ... north or south? ... trail or pavement? ... loop or out-and-back? After eating a banana and drinking some grape juice eventually (~1:30pm) I'm off. My feet take me along Dale Drive and Colesville Road to Sligo Creek Trail, then downstream into Prince George's County (elapsed time 61 minutes). I pause at every bridge to observe the waters: rusty orange-brown in places, white froth in others, pellucid elsewhere. Rings of ripples expand outward from a pair of feeding ducks.
At East-West Highway my die is cast: instead of hooking back to Wheaton via Northwest Branch Trail I turn southwest along Riggs Road and follow it into DC, past car washes, gas stations, and tiny boarded-up houses. The street becomes first Missouri, then Military Road. A sewer overflows and makes a smelly puddle. Metrobuses roar past. At crosswalks I dodge SUVs which swerve into abrupt unsignalled turns. I wish "Happy New Year!" to more than a dozen folks along the way, and almost all of them return the benediction.
In Rock Creek Park I scramble down an embankment and join the so-called Valley Trail (which is actually quite hilly). Mud accumulates on my shoes, so I pause at a log to scrape some of it off. The trail detours to avoid construction sites. Workers finishing up their day adjust hard hats and rev diesel engines.
A begloved behatted beparka'd lady asks me, "Aren't you cold?" My reply: "Not as long as I keep moving!" Although the temperature is in the 40's there are still frozen puddles in shadowed woodsy areas, cracked like broken glass. I've only eaten half of the Clif Bar I'm carrying but my 20 oz. bottle of orange Gatorade runs out about mile 12, maybe 10 minutes before I reach Boundary Bridge and reenter Maryland. In the final dash home I register two sub-11 minute miles. My average pace is probably just a bit under 12:00. When I enter the house, the family reports that my clothes really stink.
Temperature in the upper 60's, near-record heat for New Year's Day. With great ambition I set forth at noon, hoping to do a major circuit, but within a mile am reduced to walking and slow jogging. I'm probably not recovered yet from a longish loop two days ago.
So today is a slow tour of the so-called Purple Line trail, down one side of Rock Creek and back up the other. Three teenage girls are standing by the water, talking and tossing sticks; a turkey vulture orbits overhead; off-road cyclists leave deep ruts in the mud. A cloud of small gray birds (mourning doves?) scold me as they flee my approach. I pick up an abandoned plastic yogurt tub and carry it until I find a trash can near home.
(see also TenLeagueLeyLines (23 Nov 2003), ...)