2014-12-07 - Rock Creek Trail with Amy, Marshall, and Stephanie

~18 miles @ ~13.5 mi/mi

"Choke, and Invisible Monsters!" At mile 7 Amy Couch recommends Chuck Palahniuk's best novels, in her judgment. She's ramping up distance, prep for a mid-January marathon in Charleston SC. Marshall Porterfield, Stephanie Fonda, and I keep her company today along Rock Creek Trail, from Grosvenor to Lake Needwood and back. Woods are a sere brown. Puddles are huge after last evening's rains. Temps are moderate, in the 40s, but intermittent brisk winds bring chills. Stephanie points out a pileated woodpecker as we go upstream, and Amy spies three big deer grazing, then two more that flee through the brush.

Today Amy treks on just a few hours sleep, after a too-busy week and a Saturday night sleepover of 6 (six!) young boys in her home. Earlier this morning I hide a bag of goodies in the stump that remains of what was once my favorite hollow tree near Aspen Hill Park. The mini aid station includes a tube of Pringles, a couple of quarts of Gatorade, a Clif Bar, an apple, and a banana. Marshall, who practices fasting on "short" (for him!) runs, abstains from food today. "Then I have something perfectly Zen to give you at the aid station," I tell him. "Nothing!"

At mile 6 the rest of us refuel, and at mile 12 we finish off everything except the fruit and the Clif Bar. Amy blends green and blue Gatorade in her bottles for a pastel effect. Stephanie and I love the greasy salty faux-chips, but suffer heartburn from them a few miles later. Amy and I share a sinful creme-filled chocolate candy egg. Then a moment of tenderness: we see a young couple walking ahead of us holding hands, and concur: "That is so sweet!"

Marshall answers my questions about training for a successful 100 miler. I'm trying out his Orange Mud "hydraquiver" backpack, which he used during the Burning River ultra a few months ago. It makes me feel like a samurai, as I reach over my shoulder to pull out the water bottle.

As the miles flow our pace slows. Stephanie runs ahead with Marshall while Amy walks most of the final hour with me. When we finish I take photos of her standing by her new yellow Volkswagen, holding a banana that perfectly matches the car's color. I forget to turn off the GPS until some minutes later. No worries, mate! Runkeeper records route.

^z - 2014-12-28