I'm training hard ---- or more precisely, hardly training --- for the Tussey Mountainback 50 miler [1] on 2 October 2004. My theory is that if I rest for a couple of weeks perhaps my old knees (and feet, and hips, and ankles) will have a chance to heal the damage they have taken during recent runs. Likewise, the old mitochondria in the old muscle cells will have ample opportunity to recharge themselves. And capillaries can proliferate in peace; likewise the red blood cells.

A reduction in mileage before a big event is, in running circles, called "tapering". We'll see how well it works, given the fact that my normal quota is a mere ~20 miles/week ... and meanwhile, a report follows on the past few neighborhood jogs, all in the 10-12 mile zone, at various paces along various scenic routes.

Borborygmic Loop

(4 Sep 2004) - 12+ miles, 156 minutes --- Is that the sound of distant drums along the Northwest Branch? Nope --- just my intestines churning noisily, ~90 minutes into today's jog. Something I ate yesterday disagreed with me last evening and earlier this morning; it starts complaining again along the trail. (Pepperoncini? Onions? Garlic?) I stop drinking water, abandon nibbling on an energy bar, and extend my walk breaks to ~50% duty cycle. The old gut quiets down after another mile.

The route begins at home, vectors east along Forest Glen to Sligo Creek, then north to Wheaton Regional Park. A horse trail leads me to Northwest Branch where I proceed south to exit at Lockwood/Dennis and return thereby to Sligo, then retrace the path home. Lots of folks are out jogging, walking, and cycling this Saturday morning, in spite of somewhat warm weather and high humidity. Newly-acquired "Team MCRRC" running garments work well, though of course they're sweat-soaked after an hour. A large doe and her fawn swivel their heads to track me as I pass; their ears are huge.

New Gear Test

(5 Sep) - 11+ miles, 129 minutes --- Fresh shoes (New Balance 1221s) and a high-tech waist-pouch (Amphipod Airflow Lite) acquired yesterday (at RnJ Sports) perform splendidly. My customary Bethesda loop (Georgetown Branch + Old Georgetown + Cedar Lane + Rock Creek) begins with a too-fast 9:58 mile, after which I come to my senses and slow down. I'm pleasantly surprised to discover that if I walk a minute and jog a minute I'm still maintaining ~12 min/mi average pace. Maybe there's some magic in the new shorts I'm wearing: remaindered MCRRC ladies "medium", a perfect fit with a delightful gaudy orange and blue design.

At the water fountain on RCT at Cedar I introduce myself to Stephanie and Larry, who are ~15 miles into a 20 mile jaunt from Shady Grove to Bethesda. They're members of a Burke Lake running club, and have paused to study their printout of the route. I give them directions and jog along with them --- and manage ~10:30 pace for a couple of miles. Larry wears a Boston Red Sox hat, which I compliment him on; he's training for the New York City Marathon and promised me that he would wear Red Sox garments there. Stephanie is hoping to qualify for Boston at the Steamtown Marathon next month. I wish them well and branch off the trail for home. Once they're out of sight I resume my customary slow walk+run.

Thin Socks

(6 Sep) - 10+ miles, 125 minutes --- I get a ride to the Univ. of Maryland (College Park) campus and jog home (Northwest Branch - Sligo Creek - Colesville - Dale) through intermittent light drizzle, which turns briefly into true rain for a couple of minutes. New socks (Asics "Coolmax") are OK but less comfy than my thickly padded and much beloved Thorlos. I confirm again on a measured mile that the walk-one jog-one technique produces a net sub-12:00 pace, hard as that is to believe ...

When I arrive home, shortly after noon, I find the house locked and empty; the entire family has gone out shopping. Of course I have no key. A weathered bench in the front yard gives me a chance to sit and watch ants working on a few square inches of decomposing mulch between my feet, and to think about a poem I'm struggling to compose --- without success, alas. The crew returns after an hour and lets me in ...

Overheated Loop

(12 Sep) - 11+ miles, 133 minutes --- too warm and too humid for a mid-day jog (for me, at least). I start at the University of Maryland (College Park) campus, proceed downstream along Northwest Branch and come back upstream on the Northeast Branch and Paint Branch trails. In the shade, or when the wind blows, things aren't too bad --- but I crash and (sun)burn badly in the later half of the route. My running duty cycle goes from 80% (first ~3 miles) to 67% (next ~3) to 50% (next ~3) to 33% (final ~2). The rest of the time, I walk. Net pace deteriorates on the measured mile segments from 11:00 to 11:30 to 12:00 to 13:00.

Even though I quaff a bottle of Gatorade before setting out, and I'm carrying a 16 oz. squeeze bottle of water, by the end of the first hour I'm getting dehydrated. I take off my shirt and drape it over my head in an attempt to block some of the scorching solar rays. I ration my remaining water supply and divert to tennis courts at the Paint Branch Parkway, but no joy.

What ever happened to public drinking fountains in the parks? Are they all removed because of budget cuts, or vandalism, or fear of attracting bad people, or lawsuits over lead in the water? I appreciate the fountains along Rock Creek (in Montgomery County) more now...

Unexpected Frights: brown and black fuzzy caterpillars, crawling across my path --- for irrational reasons, ever since childhood I've feared such wooly beasts. (Perhaps early on I associated them with nettles, or porcupines, or cacti?)

Unexpected Profit: a Jefferson nickel, found face-up, on the trail near the West Hyattsville Metro station ...

What a Difference

(18 Sep) - 12+ miles, 138 minutes --- 10 degrees (F) cooler + 50% lower humidity = 100% better run! There's no comparison with last week's death march: today's longer circuit feels wonderful, and no walk breaks are needed. Maybe a 50 miler isn't so insane after all? My taper for that event begins with this Saturday afternoon tempo ramble at sub-11 min/mi pace throughout, fueled by a pre-jog bottle of Gatorade and a Clif Bar along the way. Starting at home I angle east to Sligo Creek, follow it north to University, head west through Wheaton to Kensington, and then vector downhill through Ken-Gar to join Rock Creek Trail, whence home.

A vision of pulchritude appears in front of me circa mile 7, but I can't keep up with her pace and she vanishes from sight in half an hour. Real, or fantasy? It scarcely matters. Minor water hazards remain along the trail, left by last evening's storms and necessitating much zig-zagging and occasional high-stepping. I experience glowing afterimage-like visual effects about mile 3 (OcularMigraines?) but they go away after I slow down slightly.

(see also RoundAndRounder (15 Jul 2004), RobertFrostTrail (10 Aug 2004), HappyTrails (15 Aug 2004), HoofTime (31 Aug 2004), ...)

TopicRunning - TopicPersonalHistory - 2004-09-27

(correlates: ProtoProtagonism, 2004-08-04 - Eight Eight-Eighties, LastManStanding, ...)