On-the-road expeditions of the past few weeks have continued the slow progress reported in TentativeToeTests (9 Jul 05), with heat and humidity mandating only slow, short runs—average distance ~6 miles, average pace ~12 minutes/mile. Some snapshots from the logbook, to keep the memories alive:

AEI Shoe Test #1

9 July 2005 - 8 miles, 96 minutes — First time outdoors with AeiShoes — experimental ultralight carbon-fiber slipper-sandals. They amaze me with their comfort. In the spirit of "nothing exceeds but excess" I venture to take the Georgetown Branch Trail, with fantasy plan of going to downtown Bethesda and back but with option to bail at Rock Creek or sooner as necessary. It's never even close to necessary, although this is my longest pedestrian journey since March. I alternate minutes of walking and jogging. [average pace 11:58 minutes/mile, standard deviation 25 s/mi, least-squares-fit acceleration 7 s/mi/mi (negative overall splits)]

The slippers offer plenty of "road feel" and minimal cushioning, but seem to protect well against sharp rocks, of which there are plenty on the gravel portions of the trail. I'm used to running flat-footed or heel-strike in cushioned shoes, but when I do that the AEI shoes make an embarassingly loud flap-flap-flap sound --- so I try to land more on the balls of my feet, which is probably a better style anyway. The Bethesda (CCT mile 3.4) water fountain isn't working, a disappointment but not a disaster on this warm but pleasant morning. I carry along and drink about half a liter of dilute Gatorade-mix, and take a Succeed! electrolyte capsule at the 4-mile point. On the homeward journey I chat with a couple of friendly runners: a fellow who is doing ~11 today, and a young lady training for the Marine Corps Marathon this fall. I recommend the MCRRC November low-key marathon and other races.

As I arrive home I'm amazed at how light-footed I feel ... gotta order another pair of these slippers! I have slight bruising on the soles of my feet, not unexpected with such a long first run on radically new shoes. And my inner thighs are chafed, from rubbing against one another ... gotta get rid of some weight still ...

Thunder Trail

16 July - 5 miles, 62 minutes — Sweltering weather and my tendency to overheat keep me off my feet all week, but when thunderstorms finally start to drop some serious rain at 4:30pm I quickly change into singlet and shorts, slip into experimental AEI Shoes, and set off. Alas, no lightning strikes me; the showers soon slow, then stop. Temperature and relative humidity remain in the 80's. I plod along Rock Creek Trail with my 1:1 ratio of jog:walk, but at the half-hour point the sun comes out and I come to my senses and turn back toward home. Middle miles (RCT 2.5-3.5-2.5) average ~12:30 pace, including a pause at the park fountain to refill my bottle. A big jackrabbit scampers into the brush as I approach. Birds probe the wet meadow grass for newly-surfaced worms. The AEI slipper-shoes feel good as they leave waffle-patterns in the mud. Salty sweat trickles into my eyes and stings as I round the corner for home.

"Cold" Front

23 July - 8 miles, 95 minutes — Thunderific lightning-storms at 1:30am knock out power at the neighborhood laundromat, as I discover four hours later when I arrive to wash the family's clothes for the past week. So it's home, change, and out at dawn to take advantage of the relatively cooler (mid-70's) air. A just-past-full moon hangs low in the southwest. Raindrops trickle belatedly from the trees in Rock Creek Park; fallen branches litter the ground; clumsy young birds and bunnies respectively flutter and scamper away as I approach. Scattered puddles and mudflows decorate the asphalt trail.

Approaching the tunnel under Connecticut Avenue I feel trepidation, since it sometimes floods, but today the route turns out to be quite passable. Twinges in my left shin and ankle fade after the first few miles, then reappear among the small bones of the left foot. My mesh singlet is totally sweat-soaked at the five mile point and I'm beginning to feel nipple abrasion, so I take the shirt off. Sunbeams slice through the forest and irradiate the misty morning air (cf. RainpostsAndGodrays). Five measured miles (RCT 2.5-5-2.5) average an 11:42 pace, alternating minutes of walking and jogging. Muchas gracias to the kind soul(s) who repainted the quarter-mile markers on the pathway!

Mana Burn

24 July - 5+ miles, 67 minutes — No run planned, but when I went out to get the morning newspapers the weather was so delightful that I couldn't resist ... so via the long way to Walter Reed Annex, orbit the Mermaid Fountain, then down the path to Rock Creek Trail ... surprisingly brisk, at a 2:1 ratio jog:walk, with middle miles (MitP 22-24) averaging 11:00 minutes/mile ... but then I start to suffer from ManaBurn and increasing fatigue, so it's back to the 1:1 walk-break strategy with final miles ~12:30 pace.

Obstacle Course

28 July - 5 miles, 60 minutes — "Love the beard!" a kind lady says in front of Holy Cross hospital. "Thanks, but it's a bit too warm right now," is my reply. I'm on the way to Sligo Creek Trail, where a middle measured mile comes in at ~11:20. Yesterday evening's thunderstorm has left branches and several medium-sized trees fallen on or across the path. At 6pm the temperature is ~80, not bad for this time of year. The bridge is blocked over Sligo to the Dennis Ave. water fountain, but my hand-held bottle of extra-strong Gatorade mix lasts me until I'm almost home. The new (thrift-store) fluorescent-orange shorts I'm wearing neither chafe nor bleed color down my legs.

Wider Circle

30 July - 8 miles, 98 minutes — The fountain on the Capital Crescent Trail in downtown Bethesda is still nonfunctional, but friendly representatives of A Wider Circle are giving away free water and encouragement to passers-by. I pick up a brochure and chat with one gentleman volunteer who admires the MCRRC jogging shorts I'm wearing and says that he has some of the same. "Are you sure?" I ask. "These are the ladies' model; I got 'em cheap." He laughs and replies, "So are mine; they fit just fine."

There are lots of cyclists, walkers, and runners on the Georgetown Branch Trail, though the morning's warmth and humidity are slightly oppressive. I alternate minutes of walking and slow jogging, for an average sweat-soaked pace of ~12:15.

Indian Creek & Lake Artemesia

1 August - 5 miles, 63 minutes — After giving #1 Son Merle an early-morning lift to the University of Maryland I leave the car at Paint Branch Parkway Community Park. There's no obvious way to cross the stream there (but can it be forded on the "equestrian trail"?) so I jog across the parkway bridge, join Northeast Branch Trail near College Park Airport, and head north. At Lake Artemesia where the NeBT terminates and Paint Branch Trail begins I turn right and follow the Indian Creek Trail the ~1.25 miles to its end
at Greenbelt Road.

The woods along the creek are lovely, but as usual these days I get warm and sweat-soaked after half an hour. Back at the high bridge over Indian Creek I explore the less-traveled west bank trail and give the insects there a chance to suck my blood. This route leads to a hole in the fence surrounding Lake Artemesia, where I join the loop around the lake, discard some trash I picked up on Indian Creek, take a wrong turn, and get "lost" briefly on the pretty inner peninsula path. Then back to the car and home to do laundry, in preparation for tomorrow's train ride to western Massachusetts where wife Paulette & I will pick up our daughter from summer music camp, and where I hope to do some more jogging ...

Amherst Speedwork

4 Aug - 4+ miles, 52 minutes — The morning feels cool but still humid, the ankle feels ok but not sturdy, so I jog ~1/3rd of a mile to the Amherst High School track and do four 800's (or are they 880's?) averaging 4:10 each, with half-lap walks between. Two buff young ladies and a buff young gentleman are blasting out 6-minute miles. Their recovery lap jogging pace is almost as fast as my maximum run. Back to the motel, where at the door to our room I discover that I've forgotten my fanny pack, so it's return to the track to retrieve it. When I get there the speed demons are leaving. I ask myself, "What would {{your name here}} do?" — and undertake one more 800. Thanks to a sprint in the final 20 meters I finish it in blitz time, 3:59.47 ...

TopicRunning - TopicPersonalHistory - 2005-08-05

(correlates: AeiShoes, ManaBurn, CozyZone, ...)