2012-10-07 - Stephanie's Loop and Rebecca's Blitz

~27 miles @ ~11.7 min/mi

http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/Stephanie_Loop_map_2012-10-07.jpg"Holy Moly!" Stephanie Fonda exclaims as we slip-slide on thick layer of mud in the tunnel under Connecticut Avenue. We've done ~17.5 miles without a mishap and neither of us wants to fall now. Thankfully, we keep our footing.

Our long-run day begins before dawn as I catch the first #5 county Ride-On bus and arrive at Stephanie's home. Husband Charlie, cat Lava, and chocolate labrador Duck greet me and introduce themselves. I bring Stephanie a spare windbreaker, windshirt, etc. in case she needs foul-weather gear for upcoming events. The forecast today is for rain but thus far it's just brisk enough to suggest layers and long sleeves. At 6:02am we set off for a big loop with, as I promise Stephanie, "adventure as its middle name". After a few dozen steps I stop — my water bottle is missing! We turn back and find it by the sidewalk where it fell from the fanny pack. Stephanie leads at a strong pace past the Strathmore Arts Center to Tuckerman Lane and thence south on the Bethesda Trolley Trail to its end. Five rabbits scamper away at various points as the gloom lightens.

Local streets take us to the Capital Crescent Trail during our mile 5. When at last we can do without the flashlight I ask Stephanie to take off her cap for a moment to show her sharp new haircut, polychromatic highlights at the front. A mile down the CCT we dash across the high River Road bridge and pause at McDonalds to visit the facilities. I buy a Senior Discount cup of coffee for us to share. (I turned 60 last week, but am not carrying any ID with proof of age; fortunately they don't card me.) The fast food shop is clean and lovely-bright.

For the next mile the coffee tastes great and raises our spirits as we sip and jog along River Rd to the DC line. Stephanie apologetically speculates that I would look younger without the scraggly gray beard. We head up Western Avenue and then east along Military Road, dodging pedestrians on the narrow sidewalk and trying not to trip on tree-root-induced irregularities. The construction project that almost blocked progress eight months ago during the 2012-01-29 - Loop with CM is still present at Nebraska Av but it's easier now to get past it.

As we enter Rock Creek Park at mile 10 I lead us to the Nature Center and show Stephanie where I tripped and fell during my 2004-07-17 - Rock Creek and Capital Crescent Mini-loop. Attempts fail to find the path over the ridge and through the woods to Beach Drive, and the one person we see doesn't know it either. So back it is to the corner of Military and Oregon Av, then cautiously along the grassy shoulder by Military, cars whizzing by, for half a mile until we turn off near Park Police Headquarters.

Intermittent sprinkles now turn to light drizzle, perhaps occasionally a shower. Stephanie and I debate whether it deserves to be called "rain". Northward now, along Beach Dr where Stephanie and Gayatri Datta and I ran in the other direction during the 2012-09-23 - Rock Creek CCT Loop with Stephanie and Gayatri. A big brunette doe, followed by two beige middle-sized fawns, dances across the road ahead of us. Conversation is lovely as we slow a bit and walk a few of the hills. Stephanie and I are amazingly similar in our backgrounds and concerns about many topics — money, for one — issues which we both realize are sometimes justified but often not.

Increasing numbers of runners greet us along Beach Dr. Perhaps many are braving the weather in order to do a final long trek three weeks before the Marine Corps Marathon? At mile 13.5 we're back in Maryland. Participants in "Ellen's Run", a fundraiser 5k, greet us. Approaching Meadowbrook Stables two sleek young thoroughbreds race past. "I am not talking about horses!" Stephanie jokes later with me. The pair of young men, one black one white, are clad in shorts and singlets and gloves. They cruise by at what seems to them an effortless pace, several minutes/mile faster than us. "Wow!" I whisper in envy and admiration. Half a mile later they meet us on their return journey, chatting with each other.

Stephanie's ilio-tibial band inflammation and plantar fasciitis are much less troublesome today than they were here during our 2012-09-29 - Bethesda Loops and Swirls trek, but she's still suffering a little. We each have taken a few energy gels. I share S! electrolyte capsules and root beer barrel candies. Near the Mormon Temple she breaks out a Clif Bar to split.

Stephanie has been tolerant of my interminable blatherings, including far too many geographically-based reminisces of points along the path we follow. At mile 19 we branch from Rock Creek Trail (mile marker ~5.5) onto Beach Dr and take it back to MD-355 and the Strathmore Arts Center. I'm amazed to discover that I don't recognize the pathway we took only four hours ago. It was dark then and we were going in the opposite direction, but nevertheless all now seems strangely changed.

At the drainage pond Stephanie points out the mini-mountain of rock where she and daughter Haven saw a huge tortoise some months ago; "Yertle the Turtle" they named it. Stephanie's left ITB isn't too bad but now the right let starts complaining, so as an experiment she moves her beige velcro-and-elastic strap from one knee to the other. It seems more annoying than helpful. She's experimenting today also with new orthotics, which seem to have deterred a PF flare-up.

Mile 20 on the GPS finds us nearing our start. We commence a cooldown walk and exchange hilarious stories of unmentionable long-run issues (trail talk: say no more!) as I debate whether to jog home or take the bus. Then Stephanie spots Rebecca Rosenberg chatting with a neighbor just ahead and shouts greetings. Rebecca has run a few miles with Ken Swab and others already this morning but is eager for company during a few more. I ask Stephanie's permission to abandon her, which she grants, and then shake her hand and congratulate her on a superb circuit. My wrist GPS reads 20.75 miles. Great job, Stephanie!

Rebecca and I proceed along her neighborhood sidewalks and into the next-door town of Garrett Park. The trendy Black Market Bistro at the post office is busy, parking lot full. Food there is fine but portions are rather too small to suit hungry runners, Rebecca observes. We attack hills, cross train tracks, and sprint down to Schuykill Rd. Garrett Park Rd takes us to Rock Creek Trail where Rebecca pauses to let me refill water bottle and catch breath. She leads me at a fast tempo upstream to milepost #8 and back down to the Knowles-Strathmore Rd intersection, with bonus hillwork on the side path up to the old Ken-Gar neighborhood.

We each enjoy blaming the other for the brisk pace. "What's this called?" Rebecca asks. I suggest "double-sandbagging" as a new term, though it sounds vaguely obscene to my ears. Rebecca has just returned from visiting Ireland and France with comrade An. When she mentions Dublin I can't resist lurching into Lecture Mode and telling of mathematician William Hamilton and his discovery of quaternions, which he invented during a walk there. He carved the key equation into the side of a bridge, lest he forget. Rebecca tells me about James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, and other titans of literature from the area.

We return to Garrett Park, still pushing hard at ~10 min/mi. Rebecca points out alphabetical street names in her neighborhood: Aurora, Bangor, Cushing, Druid, Euclid, Flanders. That last reminds me of the poem In Flanders Fields ("In Flanders fields the poppies blow / Between the crosses, row on row, ...") but I misattribute it to Wilfred Owen; it's actually by John McCrae. My attempt to recite it doesn't get far either. A final out-and-back on a side street makes my GPS mileage close enough to 27 to declare "victory". Rebecca escorts me back to the bus stop on Strathmore Avenue, makes sure I cross the busy street safely, then turns back to do a few more miles. Whew!

Splits from Garmin GPS: 11:56 + 10:32 + 10:45 + 11:29 + 10:17 + 10:32 + 15:57 (includes stop at McDonalds for a cup of coffee) + 10:45 + 11:30 + 12:46 + 10:52 + 11:48 + 11:48 + 10:35 + 11:38 + 11:38 + 13:07 + 11:17 + 11:39 + 14:11 + 17:04 (includes cooldown walk back to Stephanie's neighborhood) + 09:55 + 10:13 + 11:02 + 10:17 + 10:00 + 09:43 — in general concurrence with the Runkeeper app.

^z - 2012-10-20