(photo by Christina Caravoulias)

A capstone to a month of unexpectedly smooth running: comrades Carl Rogers, Ken Swab, and I — aka the Three Mooseketeers — enjoy a fine ramble through the woods of Seneca Creek State Park at the MCRRC post-Thanksgiving 10 miler. This is Ken's first official venture beyond the 10k distance (not counting an 8 mile jog with me on 5 Nov), and he blitzes the hilly course. Bravo! See "Turkey Burn-off" below for details. Meanwhile, the November 2005 logbook includes:

2005-11-03 - PBT at Night

7 miles @ ~11:10 min/mi

Thursday evening, I'm early to pick up daughter from a recital, so from the UM (College Park) music center I jog a mile across campus to the Paint Branch Trail (mile post 1.5, behind an engineering building) and head north. My birthday-present LED flashlight on red-setting casts a faint but comforting glow. I hold my thumb on the white high-beam button and hit it when I get nervous. (One flash reveals a deer by the trail.) I jog to the trail endpoint near the Beltway and then turn about and retrace my path. Adrenaline in the darkness keeps me moving faster than normal.

(correlates: 2007-09-17 - Artemesia Dusk, 2004-03-14 - Rock Creek Park, Capital Crescent, ActionMovieRules, ...)

2005-11-05 - CCT Zigzag

8 miles @ ~11:15 min/mi

Amazingly five of us manage to rendezvous at the Capital Crescent Trail in downtown Bethesda at 8am Saturday morning (though I arrive with only 30 seconds to spare). Coach Evan & his friend Mike blast southwards with Comrades Carl & Ken & me in warm pursuit. I'm on the lookout for money on the ground — last week Ken snagged a $20 bill here — but all we spy on the shoulder of the path is a discarded brassiere, which engenders some mildly risqué speculation as to how it got there.

After a blitz mile in 10:00 Carl sprints ahead to join the speedsters while Ken & I turn back; we're now at the 4.5 mile point just short of River Road. Ken hasn't seen much of the northern end of the CCT so we trek that way at a more comfortable ~11:30 pace, talking and enjoying the scenery and dodging cyclists. I demand walk breaks at every half-mile post, a strategy that works well today. When we reach the 0.5 mile marker we're assaulted by paint fumes from an adjacent auto body shop. We reverse course again and return to the start.

The upper-back regions of my arms begin to feel irritated and raw, even though there's nothing for them to chafe against since I'm wearing a no-sleeve singlet. I've felt this before (e.g., in the middle miles of the MarineCorpsMarathon2004) and can only speculate that it's related to sweat and hyper-sensitive skin. During our last mile a lovely lady with mathematically golden hip-to-waist ratio runs past. I feel rejuvinated enough to pursue and chat with her briefly, thereby achieving a final 10:45 split. After we cool down Ken takes me a couple of blocks west to the Louisiana Express where he introduces me to beignets: New Orleans hot-fried-dough pastries covered with powdered sugar. I bring a bag of them home, eat some more, and then take an hour-long nap to atone for getting up at 4:30am to do the family laundry.

(correlates: 2007-09-17 - Artemesia Dusk, Buss and Ride, 2007-09-01 - Half Marathon Practice, ...)

2005-11-13 - Rock Creek Park Marathon and Relay

26.2 miles @ ~12:00 min/mi

See RockCreekParkMarathon2005 for details of this "slightly startling success", a 5 hour 13 minute stroll, my first marathon since the Spring.

(correlates: 2006-12-31 - Marathon in the Parks Revisited, 2008-08-02 - Catoctin 50k, RockCreekParkMarathon2005, ...)

2005-11-20 - Little Bennett's Revenge

~3.1 miles @ ~11:00 min/mi

This 5k blitz with comrade Ken Swab follows a pleasant set of paths through the forests of Little Bennett Regional Park. Some of the hills are a trifle rocky and tree roots across the trail are occasionally treacherous; fortunately I experience nothing worse than a partially rolled ankle at one point, scary but non-catastrophic. The course begins with a series of downhill grades which Ken and I take at a brisk pace. We've been warned of a fallen tree that blocks the path, but when we get there we discover that it's easy to duck below it and keep trotting. I carry a camera and take photos of Ken and our fellow runners. Before the start I see a man in American flag shorts bending over to retie his shoes. I ask him to re-do the pose so I can get a snapshot of the patriotic stern view. Ken is reminded of the famous reenacted Iwo Jima flag-raising image.

Near the halfway point of the out-loop-and-back there's a downed runner, a young lady holding her ankle and clearly in some pain. Ken and I pause by her for a minute, talk with her to assess her condition, and then proceed on with the promise to send help back asap. All's well eventually: after the finish we see her again, limping but mobile; there's a male casualty hobbling by in similar condition. Tricky terrain! We make up the time lost from being Samaritans and finish in a hair over 34 minutes. It's another well-managed low-key MCRRC race. Kudos to the organizers and volunteers!

(correlates: WomenSpeak, LargerInside, BlameStorming, ...)

2005-11-24 - Yankee Litter

11+ miles @ ~11:10 min/mi

I give thanks for cool (~38°F) and comfy conditions this morning as I set out at 7:30am. There's a trace of snow on the grass and a little ice on the wooden bridges over Rock Creek, but the streets and trails are only damp, not hazardous. I dither but eventually decide to leave the cap and outer windshirt behind, and as it turns out the shorts and long-sleeved knit shirt that I wear are near-optimal. A light drizzle begins a mile from home and various unmentionable regions get a bit chilly, but I persevere and soon feel warm again (or perhaps just lose sensation in the affected zones).

The clockwise NIH loop flows briskly. Georgetown Branch Trail to Bethesda is smooth; I take brief walk breaks every half mile and at road crossings. A fast trio of young ladies zip by as the trail enters the golf course. My hands get sweaty and I take the gloves off after 45 minutes. Along Old Georgetown Road the final miles of a "Turkey Chase" 10k race have been marked with traffic cones. I pick up trash from the road: a soggy New York Yankees (boo! hiss!) beanie. If anybody wants it (Brian?!) please let me know.

At the turn onto Cedar Lane I merge with a massive crowd of Turkey Chase 2-mile event walkers. After several blocks of weaving and dodging I escape the traffic and proceed to Connecticut Avenue where I wait for a gap in the hordes doing the 10k, then bolt across and continue to Rock Creek Trail. My thumbs go numb and I re-don gloves. Miles 8 and 9 are sub-10 minute blitzes (ok, 9:58 and 9:42 to be precise, on RCT miles 4.5 - 2.5). I walk and jog the hills to Walter Reed Annex and return home via Forest Glen Seminary, saluting the pulchritudinously inspirational mermaid fountain as I pass. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

(correlates: Comments on Let It Snow, LadderOfDrivers, 2006-12-24 - Catoctin Trail II, ...)

2005-11-26 - Turkey Burn-Off

10 miles @ ~10:40 min/mi

It's a chilly morning, with temperatures near the freezing point and intermittent gusty breezes. Ken gives me a ride to the park where we soon find our buddies Carl, Evan, and Tom. I take pictures of Ron ("Tarzan Boy"), Wayne ("Way-no"), and Christina ("The Incomparable", who in turn photographs us). After some soul-searching over what to wear, Ken & I make a last-minute trip to ditch outer layers in his car. The "Go!" signal is given as we're returning, so we sprint to the side of the course, wait for the dense crowd to flow by, and cut in as soon as we spy Carl. We cross the start/finish line about 20 seconds after the gun.

Our first mile rips a slightly sub-10 pace and I'm concerned that we'll burn and crash, but soon the serious slopes begin and we slow to a sustainable speed. Carl is energetic throughout the race and jogs fore-and-aft or out-and-back on side trails whenever Ken & I take walk breaks. We catch up with and salute Wanda, who remembers us well from the "PieceOfCake" 10k race where K&^z finished within a few seconds of her exactly eight months ago in this same park. Shortly after the 52 minute mark we round the traffic cone at the halfway point, almost three minutes ahead of my most optimistic expectations.

The next five miles are surprisingly comfortable and fast, though we do slow a bit. Evan (my "Speed Coach") is on the home stretch when he catches sight of me during a walk at my mile 7 (his mile 9); he scolds me as he zips past. I attempt to sing some Christmas carols in German, but after renderings (note from note!) of "O Tannenbaum" and "Stille Nacht" I take pity on my companions and refrain from covering David Bowie's "Let's Dance" — even though it includes the apropos chorus line, "If you say 'Run', I'll run with you ...". Ken finishes his inaugural 10 miler in good style at 1:47. We eat, drink, thank the volunteers, and head homeward before we start to shiver in the suddenly-cold wind.

(correlates: GrowingUp, SlowThyself, Comments on Where Was God, ...)

(cf. HillsOfCabinJohn2004 (1 May 2004), September2005JogLog (30 Sep 2005), GoldenTrump (16 Oct 2005), LateOctober2005JogLog (30 Oct 2005), ...)

TopicRunning - TopicPersonalHistory - 2005-12-01

(correlates: GiveMeTheBrain, TrailTrial, JudithKrummeckFanClub, ...)