Phone It In

After my slow "speedwork" at the local track, 800 meter double-laps with 200 m walk recoveries between, I tell fast-running comrade Tracy Wilson about my 4:00-4:15ish splits. In theory a "Yasso 800" result in minutes:seconds predicts a marathon finish in hours:minutes — but I express severe doubt that such a simpleminded rule of thumb holds for me.

"You're wrong," Tracy says, deadpan. "They accept that formula now. Just phone in your time and collect your medal! You can even qualify for Boston."

Well, maybe in my dreams! (^_^) As the end of summer approaches it's getting cooler, but the days are also shorter and I often find myself jogging through dusk and twilight into early evening. Several recent runs turn a wee bit spooky, in fact, as shadows stretch across the trail and I have to lift my feet to avoid tripping on ridges, roots, and random hazards. Recollections from recent ^z rambles follow:

2007-08-31 - Lap, Dog

~3 miles @ ~8 min/mi

Son Merle and I visit the local former-high-school track as the sun begins to set and commence testing ourselves with a bit of speedwork. I do five 800s with times of 4:19 + 4:11 + 4:06 + 4:15 + and 4:15, with cooldown walks of 2-3 minutes between. Merle sprints faster but shorter distances. He has been working out in the gym lately, and I estimate that if he dedicates himself to running he will be beating me by the end of the year, at least at shorter distances.

(correlates: 2008-06-11 - Rickety Ladder Speedwork, BirdySunset, BetterWriting, ...)

2007-09-01 - Half Marathon Practice

~13.1 miles @ ~17.2 min/mi

Normally I don't log my walks, but as the longest trek in my experience (not counting walk-breaks and involuntary breakdowns during marathons and ultras!) this one deserves an entry. Christina Caravoulias and I meet in Bethesda at 5:45am, leave one car near the finish area of the Parks Half Marathon route, and drive in the other vehicle to Rockville, where we park and walk to the starting line. The Parks Half Marathon is coming in two weeks, and today is a low-impact component of Christina's preparation. As the sun rises we walk briskly the first ~2 miles down Veirs Mill Rd., then proceed downstream on Rock Creek Trail for ~8.8 miles where we branch to join the Capital Crescent Trail back to Bethesda. A training group jogging the course passes us, as do numerous random runners and cyclists. After 3 hours 46 minutes we're back where we began. Walking, even fast walking, seems to have much less impact on the legs than does running, even slow running.

(cf. Jog Log for running journal)

(correlates: PointCounterpoint, BosonsAndFermions, 2005-11-05 - CCT Zigzag, ...)

2007-09-02 - AT Out-and-Back

~11.5 miles @ ~15 min/mi

Mary Ewell and I meet at the Davis Library where she gives me a bag of herbs and jalapeño peppers and I give her a ride to Gathland State Park near Burkittsville, MD. Cathy Blessing has organized a group run along the Appalachian Trail part of the JFK 50 Miler route. Mary plans to do that race in November; I'm hoping to escort her for the final ~34 miles. While the faster folk blast ahead we jog and walk along chatting and enjoying the scenery. The AT here follows the ridge called South Mountain, a rocky path with occasional steep segments. Mike Leonard, whose pace is a bit slower than ours, follows. The speedy guys turn around after three miles (to do another out-and-back northward), but Mary and I proceed to Weverton Cliffs above the Potomac. We descend the first few switchbacks to get used to the terrain, pause, eat, drink, and turn back. On the way we meet Mike who is likewise exploring. At confusingly-named Gapland/Gathland we check in with Cathy, then cool down and wait to make sure Mike is OK. He arrives a few minutes later. We give him our gratuitous advice on ultras — the JFK will be his first, though he has run several marathons.

(cf. Jog Log for running journal)

(correlates: HighBridge, 2007-01-01 - New Year's Resolution 5k, Difficult Run 8k XC 2008, ...)

2007-09-08 - Mall Rats

~14 miles @ ~13 min/mi

Kabrena and Ken and I meet at 6:01am Saturday at the Thompson Boat Center but discover that parking meters there are hungry for more quarters than we have available to feed them. So Ken leads our caravan down the Potomac past the Kennedy Center where we find free on-street parking near the Lincoln Memorial. A crescent moon and brilliant Venus decorate the dawn sky. We jog the middle portion of the Marine Corps Marathon route — Kabrena is training for it, and maybe so is Ken — down one side of the National Mall and back along the other, then loop through Hains Point, cross the river on the 14th St Bridge, jog along the Mount Vernon Trail to Memorial Bridge, and return thence to our starting point, cooling down with an out-and-back to Thompson's Boat Center. Something I ate early this morning disagrees with me, so I visit portajohns near the Smithsonian castle and again along Hanes Point. Maybe it's one of those Snickers protein bars which, for unclear reasons, contain the artificial sweetner sucralose?

(correlates: PeripheralPunditry, 2008-06-15 - CCT Rambles, MarineCorpsOrdnance, ...)

2007-09-09 - Watkins Ramble and Evening Speedwork

~4.5 miles @ ~13 min/mi + ~3 miles @ ~10 min/mi

Caren Jew suggests a Sunday sunrise run along the Seneca Creek Greenway Trail (SCGT) in one of her favorite segments, south from Watkins Rd. I meet her there and we set off at 0630, trotting along the winding path, walking up hills, chatting as we go. Caren's plantar fasciitis is healing well but she has wisely decided not to attempt the Marine Corps Marathon this year, so we make plans for the winter/spring 2008 ultra season, including the SCGT marathon/50k and the HAT Run. We turn back after half an hour and push the pace a bit harder on the return trip. That same evening I take sons Merle and Robin with me to the local track on the way to the grocery store, and I run five Yasso 800s, times 4:09 + 4:10 + 4:11 + 4:05 + 4:02. Or are they 880s? I challenge engineer Robin to measure the 0.5% difference!

(cf. Jog Log for running journal)

(correlates: Phone It In, MerleAndRobinByEllenJacobs, Humerus Fracture, ...)

2007-09-12 - Oakview Hill Work

~5 miles @ ~10.5 min/mi

With almost an hour before time to pick up kids at the University of Maryland I leave the car at the Adelphi Manor Park cricket pitch and trot without walk breaks upstream from Milepost 4.5 of Northwest Branch Trail. A couple of kids are spooning discreetly in a gazebo by the creek; smoke from a family barbecue drifts through the valley. At the end of the paved pathway I take the steep gravel service road up to Oakview Dr and manage to run all the way, though my stride is short enough that I might have made faster progress walking. The downhill return jog is a bit scary in the deepening dusk but I make it down to the stream without falling and accelerate then back to the park, proud of myself for punching out a sub-9-minute final mile.

(correlates: 2007-11-28 - Northwest Branch Tempo Run and Hill Work, 2008-09-11 - NWB Hill Work, BeatingExpectations, ...)

2007-09-15 - AT Point-to-Point

~17 miles @ ~15 min/mi

Venus glitters over Weverton Cliffs as I arrive ca. 5:50am on a breezy-chill morning. Nobody else is there and my cellphone doesn't get a signal, so I walk about the area with my flashlight checking out the local segment of the Appalachian Trail (AT). Mary Ewell plans to meet me so we can leave a car at Weverton, drive north, pick up Ken Swab, Emaad Burki, and Caren Jew at Gathland Gap, and then continue to the Old South Mountain Inn. From there we'll run back along the ridge to where we started! Pointless? No, it's all part of the prep that Mary, Ken, and Emaad are doing for the JFK 50 miler in a couple of months. Caren and I hope to be support crew for them, and we're always eager to enjoy some trail time so we jog along.

At 0600 when I don't see Mary I drive back toward the highway, hoping to get a cellphone connection. Before that happens, though, Mary appears — delayed slightly on the country roads that she has to follow to get there. We follow the plan and shortly after 6:30am set off. A few hundred feet down the trail we discover a truly splendid loo (lights! running water!) and pause a few minutes for ablutions. Then we really get going.

The JFK course follows some steeply climbing roads here, so Mary, Caren, and I walk and chat about life, running, and all that. Ken and Emaad trot ahead and discover a fenced-off FAA transmitter and some other radio towers, so after some joking about being on security cameras we proceed to rejoin the AT and continue along the ridge. There are some lovely views of the valleys to east and west, and I take a few photos with cellphone camera. Emaad rolls an ankle and we commiserate. Ken sprints ahead and is awaiting the rest of us at Gathland Gap when we arrive after 1:46 — precisely the same time it took me to cover the 6.2 miles during last year's race according to JFK 50 Miler 2006 Split Analysis. (Of course, that was in the dark and with 40+ miles still to go, so my cautious pace was perhaps excusable.)

At Gathland Ken and Caren pile into Emaad's car for the ride home, and after a pause to split a Cherry Coke and enjoy the fancy loo Mary and I proceed onward. The wind begins to roar and shake the treetops now, but where we are it's somewhat sheltered and quite pleasant. This segment of the AT is significantly rockier, so we tread cautiously and avoid injury, at the cost of a slower pace. After 1:54 we reach the base of Weverton Cliffs (~6.2 mi) and refill our water bottles at Mary's car. We both still feel strong so we continue down the AT, under highway US-340, across the C&O Railroad tracks, and upriver on the C&O Canal towpath for about 2 miles to the base of the US-340 bridge over the Potomac. Elapsed time is ~0:26, including ~5 minutes at Mary's car. Our return trip is of a similar duration. As we approach the railroad grade crossing I admit that I wouldn't mind seeing a freight train, since it would provide a good chance to catch my breath. Just then, a loud whistle sounds! I run ahead but it's clear that the train is too close for us to make it safely in front of it, so my wish is granted. Nevertheless, our net pace along the towpath is quite brisk, a bit faster than 12 min/mi — more than enough for Mary to have an excellent result if we can sustain it on JFK race day.

(correlates: 2004-11-10 - WOD Luncheon, 2007-09-02 - AT Out-and-Back, CountrySightsAndSounds, ...)

2007-09-17 - Artemesia Dusk

~3.5 miles @ ~9 min/mi

Monday evening at the University I've got some time before my daughter's rehearsal ends, so I park on the east side of campus and commence running from Paint Branch Trail milepost 1.5, behind the A. V. Williams engineering building. As the sun sets and a crescent moon shins near Jupiter in the southern sky I trot briskly downstream, covering the first mile in 8:27. As I enter the woods near US Route 1 a pair of small deer gaze at me in contempt, then stroll away into the dark woods. At Lake Artemesia I blitz the 1.35 mile loop in 12:37 (~9:21 min/mi), my heart pounding like a rabbit and the afterimage-like blobs of OcularMigraines glowing in my visual field. My final mile back is an 8:51. Whee!

(correlates: BuechnerMagic, 2008-06-24 - Descending at Lake Artemesia, 2005-11-03 - PBT at Night, ...)

2007-09-19 - Paint Branch Trot

~4.5 miles @ ~8.7 min/mi

At 7:15pm on Wednesday evening I start at the same Paint Branch location (Milepost 1.5) as on Monday, but this time head upstream dodging cyclists, inline skaters, and dog-walkers. My first two miles are brisk (8:48 + 8:50) as bats flit low overhead in the area devastated by tornado winds several years ago. Swamp waters reflect the sunset between ravaged tree stumps. There's a roughly-quarter-mile jog (2:27) from Milepost 3.5 to where the trail crosses Cherry Hill Rd just inside the Capital Beltway. Traffic is too heavy for me to proceed, so I return (in 2:17) to that marker and run a downstream mile in deeping gloom of 8:45. Gray and Robin phone to tell me that they're ready to go home; I pant out answers while still running, since I feel like trying a strong finishing kick. It works; I make it back through near-darkness in a surprising final mile time of 8:15 — whew!

(cf. Jog Log for running journal)

(correlates: PrivateCommunication, SecondHand, 2008-09-18 - Anacostia Evening Loop, ...)

(cf. BabesInTheWoods (18 Jun 2007), AwesomeAdonis (3 Jul 2007), SummerShambles (17 Jul 2007), CrossedPaths (28 Jul 2007), RileysRumble2007 (30 Jul 2007), PiedBeauty (27 Aug 2007), ...)

TopicRunning - TopicPersonalHistory - 2007-09-21

(correlates: 2007-09-09 - Watkins Ramble and Evening Speedwork, ProcessVersusOutcome, 2008-09-18 - Anacostia Evening Loop, ...)