After my unfortunate BumpInTheNight last week it's quite unlikely that I'll be able to run much any time soon ... but meanwhile, an entry to the ^z memory bank is needed for a final pre-competition training run that took place along Seneca Creek on 12 February 2005 --- about 16 miles in 232 minutes.

As on the past two weekends, today begins with a group training run along the Greenway Trail, thanks to organizer Ed Schultze. This time we gather on Watkins Mill Road and jog to Riffleford and back.

At 7:35am I'm ready to go, and so is Michele Mcleod, an experienced ultrarunner who claims to be slow but who nonetheless keeps me moving at a comfortable yet rapid clip. We set out half an hour ahead of everybody else. The temperature overnight was well below freezing so the ground is solid but rough where mud churned by passing boots has solidified into suspect terrain.

Fortunately I left my hat and windbreaker in the car. After half an hour I take off my outer (long-sleeved) windshirt and feel comfortable except for a few moments in the shade when the wind blows. Michele has sharp eyes: she points out half a dozen deer that I would have missed. We chat about family, running, and other entertaining topics as we make progress downstream. I almost roll my right ankle a couple of times but fortunately catch myself.

At the 90 minute point Michele turns back (she has to go pick up her young daughter) and I trot on alone. Fragments of a pop song heard on the car radio this morning, Southern Cross, replay inside my head. Approaching the turnaround some fast runners begin to pass me, and I tag along behind them. At the Riffleford Road cache I eat chips and refill my now-empty Gatorade bottle.

I'm surprised to find how different the route looks on the return trip. There are countless things that I missed when traveling the other way: rusty farm machinery, suburban back yards, branch trails and side streets, a mostly-eaten raccoon skeleton, etc. Both of my feet begin to feel "hot spots", emergent blisters on the inner edges. I pause at a park bench and change my socks --- since I don't have any spares, I swap them from one foot to the other. (this seems to have absolutely no effect!) I carry both bandages and grease in my waist pouch, but the pre-blisters don't feel bad enough to be worth stopping to apply either treatment. I walk some and alter my stride to land more on my heels. The feet begin to feel better.

A huge difference on the second half of the journey (besides my fatigue) is the trail itself: with rising temperatures the formerly-firm surface has turned into a treacherous thixotropic mud. I slip, slide and almost fall multiple times. At one small side stream crossing I scramble to keep my footing and get mud on my calves and gloves.

Fast runners pass me, and I pass some hikers and then a cluster of geese standing near the path. They honk to scold me for disturing the peace.

(see also FifteenLeagueLeyLines (1 Jan 2005), WinterFantasies (17 Jan 2005), IceFangs (6 Feb 2005), Washington Birthday Marathon 2005 (20 Feb 2005), Seneca Creek Greenway Trail Marathon 2005 (5 Mar 2005), HAT Run 2005 (20 Mar 2005), ...)

TopicRunning - TopicPersonalHistory - 2005-04-05

(correlates: InTheGoodOldDays, PlusOrMinus, ThirdPlace, ...)