2013-04-07 - Fletchers Boathouse and Lincoln Memorial

~18 miles @ ~12.9 min/mi

"I'm doing something new at Bull Run," Stephanie Fonda promises. "I'm not doing anything new!" In other words, instead of experimenting during a tough 50 miler with untested gear, food, foot placement, shoe style, etc., this time for a change Stephanie promises to stick to the tried-and-true. Good idea — and the self-referential nature of the line echoes a mini-lecture I gave earlier today on Gödel's Theorem and its self-referential proof of mathematical incompleteness.

Today is a final major trek before Bull Run Run, six days in the future. Stephanie made it off the Wait List and into the race only during the final hours last night before the deadline. And for both of us, BRR is really just a training run. I'm preparing for the C&O Canal 100 miler at the end of the month, and Stephanie is running the Pittsburgh Marathon early in May. Yes, it's rather audacious (or foolish?) to do a major ultra so close to a goal race, but hey, audacity apparently is a character trait (or fault) we share.

I arrive ~7am via #5 bus to Chez Fonda in Kensington. It's cool, temps in upper 30's or low 40's, with a brisk south wind. Family cat Lava rises onto hind legs and rubs against my hand. Family dog Duck sniffs me as we prepare to go. After a pause to get GPS satellite locks we're on our way, along Strathmore a mile to the Bethesda Trolley Trail (BTT), pausing at the Volunteer Fire Station for photographs by the "LEARN NOT TO BURN" sign. Then onward it is, to downtown Bethesda where Stephanie reminds me to eat and drink. At mile ~5 we join the Capital Crescent trail (CCT). We take walk breaks from the start and try to hold our pace to ~13 min/mi. "It's still too fast for Bull Run," I note, "but I know you can't stand to go any slower!"

Much trail talk ensues, including hypomanic chatter from me despite repeated promises to bite my tongue and stop havering. Stephanie promotes the virtues of toe strike; I concur with the suggestion that "running gently" with a light stride is helpful too. We discuss meditative-awareness mindfulness techniques. Stephanie recommends observing while not reacting, remaining nonjudgmental, and "Accumulating Positives" such as happy memories. I mention the "Notice and Return" and "Softening into Experience" mantras which I've found helpful during hard races and other stressful circumstances. Stephanie tells me about the Nova/PBS special "Decoding Dogs" and recommends it, as well as "Rat Attack". I comment on issues of lower-case-buddhism, the thesis of Stephen Batchelor's Buddhism Without Beliefs and much of Jon Kabat-Zinn's writings. Is it still the same religion if one subtracts karma, reincarnation, and other mysticism? Hard to say, but that's the topic of Owen Flanagan's Bodhisattva's Brain, a book that I'm just beginning to read.
http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/Lincoln_Stephanie_Fonda.jpgBoth Stephanie and I are still in awe of the Barkley Marathons finishers this year, Nick Hollon and Travis Wildeboer. We fantasize about doing a single Barkley 20 mile loop. I confess to a gentle obsession focusing on The Ring at Massanutten Mountain. We discuss Michael Wardian's be-tough-on-yourself training regime ("I usually don't eat or drink too much on runs as I like to train in the worst possible condition, so on race day, when I have water and PowerGel, it really works.")

Lots of cute dogs are out on walks today, as are lots of cute fast runners (not to mention cyclists) who zip past as we walk every ~5 minutes or on small hills. At McDonalds in Bethesda, mile 7, we enjoy the facilities and pick up a Senior Coffee (price $0.85), as much for warmth as for caffeine. Stephanie recommends coconut oil for dry skin, and we discuss experiments with Metamucil (psyllium) to possibly reduce cholesterol.

At Fletcher's Boathouse near our mile ~11 we go down to the river to take photos and dip fingers into the water. Airplanes flying into National Airport cruise low over the Potomac River, and Stephanie suggests crossing into Virginia and going to the Marina (Gravelly Point) to lie directly under the Final Approach flight path. I'm reminded of the scene in the movie "Wayne's World" (though I can't remember the movie title at that moment) where Wayne and Garth lie on the hood of their car in an analogous location. We play leapfrog with ladies walking and running on the CCT as we approach Georgetown.

Now Cherry Blossom street closures and crowds slow our progress. We proceed to the Lincoln Memorial and at mile ~15 take photos of each other inside, then pause to touch the engraved marker on the step where Martin Luther King Jr. stood during his "I Have a Dream" speech. East then past the Washington Monument, we miss the chance to visit the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial and the National Science Foundation Einstein Statue — another time, I promise.

"Yeah!" Stephanie says, in faux New York City accent, when her GPS rolls over to 16 miles. We then accelerate for a fast mile 17 along the north side of the national Mall. As we approach Union Station I suggest stopping our GPS's at mile 17.5, but Stephanie insists on a detour to reach 18.0 total.

Au Bon Pain provides coffee, and after phone calls/texts to family we take the subway back to Grosvenor and walk toward Stephanie's place, so she can get ready to visit a sick friend in the hospital. Charlie, Stephanie's husband, sees me waiting at the bus stop as he heads out for an errand. He kindly offers me a ride, and I thank him but decline. Bottom line: I'm down 3 lbs. from dehydration, but feel great. "It turned out OK," as I always say — another fine run with a fine friend!

Runkeeper and Garmin concur. Splits from the latter: 12:35 + 12:18 + 12:51 + 11:58 + 12:42 + 13:00 + 14:58 + 13:42 + 12:22 + 10:25 + 16:01 + 13:00 + 13:02 + 11:16 + 15:34 + 12:45 + 10:26 + 12:44.

^z - 2013-05-02