2006-04-16 - Bonk, Bonk

~23 miles @ ~12.5 min/mi

I start to worry when I discover the water fountain is missing at the Adelphi Manor Recreation Center, just north of University Blvd. on the Northwest Branch Trail (NWBT). I'm experimenting this Easter Sunday with a long loop: from home along Forest Glen Road to the Sligo Creek Trail (SCT), then upstream ~3 miles to Wheaton Regional Park where I follow a horse path for a mile over the hills into the watershed of Northwest Branch. I proceed down NWBT for ~9 miles to its confluence with the bounteous Sligo and take SCT ~7 miles back to where I joined it over four hours earlier. It adds up to a ~20 mile circuit plus a bit more for the out-and-back to my home. (The GPS "odometer" says 21.2 but the track recorder computes 22.9 miles. That's still a little low, since the unit lost satellite lock for a few miles in the depths of the valley cut by Northwest Branch south of the Beltway. It replaced that segment with a straight line, so the actual distance is significantly longer.)

The temperature is only in the upper 60's but the old ^z carcass isn't acclimated to anything above 50°F yet. By the time I reach the Sligo Rec Center I've finished the 20 oz. bottle of Gatorade I'm holding and am sorely disappointed to find the water fountain there dysfunctional. Fortunately a restroom in Wheaton Regional is unlocked and I refill my empty bottle there, keeping a fanny-pack squeeze-bottle of Gatorade in reserve. I take a Succeed! electrolyte cap at the 90 minute mark and at the NWBT crossing of Colesville Rd. wash down a Clif Shot with the rest of my water. I ditch the again-empty container in a trash can there — fortunately for me, since the next stretch of the trail is rocky-steep and I need a free hand to steady myself during several of the boulder traverses.

So far my pace has been steady, 11-12 min/mi along smooth terrain with a 3:1::jog:walk ratio; I go slower when on "real trail". Adelphi Manor's cricket pitch is intact and being used, but there's only a concrete stub where the water fountain used to be. I've been husbanding my remaining water, it's almost noon, and I start to suffer. I increase the length and frequency of my walk breaks, soon converging on alternate minutes of jogging and walking for a 12-13 min/mi pace. Finally, about 16 miles into the day's journey I find water at Sligo Creek North Neighborhood Park near the corner of Flower Ave. and Sligo Creek Pkwy. I suck down more than a pint, refill my bottle, take another S! cap, and predictably start to feel better 15 minutes later. The remaining miles home are still a slog but not a disaster. Lesson: Don't get dehydrated!