2006-10-28 - Mad Dog Zimmarathon Plus

~29 miles @ ~13 min/mi

Today's Mad Dog Zimmarathon Plus follows the classic MDZ course — home to Lake Needwood and back, via Rock Creek Trail — but adds a loop around the lake for a bit of off-road fun. (See HoofTime for a report on the original, and thus far only, running of the Mad Dog Zimmarathon, 29 Aug 2004.) As the sole competitor my finish, a hair under 6:16, is a new record. Along the way I meet (or am passed by) a flock of friendly people, including a fellow JFK 50 miler trainee who recognizes me from our Appalachian Trail run of 10 Sep. The day dawns warm and humid, ~60°F at 8:30am, but gradually becomes drier, windier, and cooler-feeling although temperatures hold almost constant. "I am a leaf on the wind," I tell myself, as breezes yank red-orange-yellow autumn foliage from the trees to pirouette down upon me.

Overnight rains have left huge puddles on the path, but I manage to avoid them for the first two hours. Then approaching Viers Mill Road (mile ~9.5) as I divert to avoid a sea covering the asphalt, a deep swamp hidden under the grass renders both feet instantly soggy. A mile later it's panic time due to equipment malfunction: the Saucony shoe inserts beneath my feet start to curl up and slip out of place. Visions of horrid blisters form instantly in my brain. (Visions in the brain of blisters on the feet, that is!) I sit down on a stump and take the shoes off, pull out the inserts, shake away as much water as I can, and replace them. The right one is ok now but the left again wrinkles, so a mile later I stop to adjust it once more. This time it settles into place. Whew!

My pace between mileposts on the RCT averages 12:52 (± 35 seconds) on the outbound leg and 12:49 (± 44 seconds) during the return trip. The Lake Needwood loop takes ~40 minutes, so I guestimate it as a bit under 3 miles. En route I consume a bag of Ritz mini-cheese-cracker sandwiches, three root beer barrel candies, four energy gels, half a Clif Builder's bar, and four bottles of ZelectrolyteFormula. (I carry with me a little flask of 10x concentrate that I squirt into my water bottle when I refill it at the fountains.) I suffer only minor blistering on the inside edge of the right foot, the same area that troubled me during the Wineglass Marathon 2006 earlier this month. Bottom line: a pace of ~13 minutes/mile may with luck be feasible for the flatter parts of the JFK, but I should probably not try anything faster.