2013-08-18 - WOD, Four Mile Run, Mount Vernon, Custis Trail Loop

~20 miles @ ~11.2 min/mi

"We're not obsessive!" I reassure Kate Abbott, as I insist on running until the most conservative of the three GPS units we carry exceeds 20 miles. Today is a new loop: W&OD Trail from East Falls Church to its Mile Zero origin, then Four Mile Run Trail to National Airport, Mount Vernon Trail to Rosslyn, and Custis Trail back to the W&OD and then our start. Sporadic rain keeps us cool, if soggy.

Kate and I meet at the East Falls Church Metro in the drizzle at at dawn. We climb the stairs to near mile marker 5 of the W&OD Trail, a location we ran by last weekend (see 2013-08-11 - W-and-OD Trail with Kate). Kate cautions me not to slip and fall on the damp wooden bridges — when I stumble over a curb a few yards after we start, she reminds me of the fall I took at the beginning of our run long ago along the Potomac Heritage Trail (see 2009-01-19 - PHT Valkyrie). OK, Ma'am!
Kate Abbott on the Mount Vernon TrailFor the first hour the trail is relatively empty. We pass the Custis Trail junction before W&OD milepost 4 but decide to go onward rather than branch off. I remember segments of the route here from the Andiamo race (see 2008-10-04 - Andiamo 2008, 2009-10-10 - Andiamo 2009, 2010-10-09 - Andiamo 2010). We pass an abandoned hand-cart tipped over under a bridge. I recall the ocular migraine blind-spot problems that I experienced entering some underpasses during runs here years ago.

We reach Mile Zero of the W&OD and pause to pose for forgettable pictures in front of the sign. Kate spies arrows leading to the Four Mile Run Trail across the street, and we proceed on eastward. The stream next to us is rocky-pretty, then widens into the tidal Potomac. Water treatment and "foam" plants are next to the pathway. An underpass creates a contrasting edge-effect between drizzle and dry. We stop again to take photos. Other runners meet us, and even a few cyclists.
Suddenly we see a giant plane descending in front of us — it's National Airport! We join the Mount Vernon Trail and turn north, upstream. Greater numbers of folks are on the trail now, and Kate remembers being here before for a long-ago race. I reminisce about a point-to-point run with Gayatri Datta (see 2010-09-04 - CCT and MVT to DCA) that ended here. The MVT curves onto Gravely Point, and I remember Stephanie Fonda telling me about this as a place to lie on one's back and watch aircraft zoom low overhead. We're under the takeoff flight path now, and I capture a happy snap of Kate outrunning a big jet.Kate Abbott outrunning a plane on Graveley Point
Navy-Merchant Marine MemorialFarther up the trail we see the Capitol, the Jefferson Memorial, and the Washington Monument across the water, that last one clad in attractive scaffolding as repairs continue from the 2011 earthquake. Kate spots a fascinating stone sculpture by the trail, featuring gulls in flight and cresting waves. It's the Navy-Merchant Marine Memorial, and we pause again to take photos of it.

At the end of the MVT near Teddy Roosevelt Island we reminisce about the turnaround of our Potomac Heritage trek (see again 2009-01-19 - PHT Valkyrie) and debate briefly whether to get another photo there, 4.5 years later. But not today — we continue on following the Custis Trail signs which lead us through Rosslyn, past where Kate remembers dropping from the 2012-10-28 - Marine Corps Marathon 2012 at mile 5 due to horrible back pain, since then greatly improved by surgery. As we proceed along the Custis Trail I remember long long ago (mid-1990s?) runs from Tina Chancey's home near here, when DS & DD were taking viola da gamba lessons. Back then a 1-2 mile trek was a lot. Kate and I laugh at how much one's standards get recalibrated over time. Kate recognizes a pair of young women who met us a couple of hours ago when we were outbound on Four Mile Run Trail. Apparently they're doing the loop in the clockwise direction. We greet them and salute.
As the Custis Trail mile markers count down we reckon ahead that we'll be back at East Falls Church Metro about mile 18.3 or so. But when we arrive the temptation to stop is easily resisted, and we continue on in an out-and-back to just short of Great Falls St. A young couple runs ahead of us, the girl in bright orange with a cute pony tail, the boy buff in black. I'm in a silly mood and ask if we should give chase, but Kate counsels moderation. When they pause at the North Washington St crossing Kate and I blitz past. We see them again when we turn back.

At the top of the stairs, as planned, Kate's GPS rolls over to 20.00 ... but "We've gotta do a few more steps, just in case!" I demand, so we run on to the next corner. Then, "Enough!". A cooldown walk takes us to a 7-11 where I buy Kate a cup of coffee for the road home. Conversation is sweet — for instance, Kate recounts her dream last night of being late for a road race in Rio de Janeiro and doing a fist-bump salute with President Obama — and it's so nice to run with a friend!
Kate Abbott on the Mount Vernon Trail

(Runkeeper and Garmin GPS concur to within a few percent) - ^z - 2013-09-06