2007-11-24 - Seneca Creek Odyssey and MCRRC Turkey Burnoff

8+ miles @ ~15 min/mi & 10 miles @ 12.4 min/mi

From the cemetery Caren Jew and I continue to the highway, and as the sun rises we pause for a gap in traffic, cross, and enter Seneca Creek State Park. Caren leads me down an orange-blazed path from the Visitors Center to the Greenway Trail. Downstream we trot, chatting about everything and nothing, admiring the scenery, marveling at how warm we feel in spite of the frigid morning air. Soon we're climbing back up from the creek, passing the side trail to the Chickadee picnic area and crossing the main park road where we'll be racing in a few hours. Caren points out a family of deer moving through the woods. As we enter the underpass beneath Great Seneca Highway a great Great Blue Heron glides by above the stream.

We cross Riffle Ford Road and marvel at the absence of the water pumping station that was here last year. A mile downstream I check my watch and see that we've been on the trail for an hour; it's time to turn back. We look around and find no landmarks, so at my suggestion we climb the hillside and enter an open meadow. Near 39.132N 77.282W we take photos of each other, including one of the best images I've ever snared: "HuntingSeason", Caren standing en déhanchement as she examines a frozen plant.

That's when a mysterious voice asks us to move along so he can shoot some deer. Yes, Sir! We scramble downslope to the trail and retrace our path to our cars.

Now the park is officially open, so we drive in and register for the race. Caren has to go home early and opts for the 5 miler; I'm planning to try 10 with comrade Christina Caravoulias. I lose my cellphone and can't find it under the blanket of autumn leaves. Helpful Chris calls it half a dozen times for me, however, and soon someone locates it and turns it in to Race Director Lyman Jordan.

Caren has her MCRRC number pinned on her leg, for convenience in changing upper garments. An official complains that it's hard to read there. Caren expresses concern to me. "No, don't move it," I advise. "This is America — you can do whatever you want. Write the number on your middle finger and show it to them when you finish!" Caren doesn't go that far — but she stops worrying and enjoys the run. She's far ahead of me at the finish line and since it's well away from the midpoint cone of the 10 miler this year we don't get to see one another for the rest of the day.

Meanwhile Christina and I are trotting along at a steady pace of ~12 min/mi for our first five miles, a great recovery run for me after the Don Quixote 55k Run 2007 a week ago. Chris's training is mainly focused on strength and speed in shorter races, so today she declares walk breaks of 1 minute every 5. That yields a pace that works quite well for us both. We decelerate to ~13 min/mi for most of the second half, chat, cheer other runners nearby, and enjoy ourselves. I take a couple of photos with my newly-recovered cellphone as we pass Clopper Lake. My official time is 2:04:10, dead last in my age/sex group. It's a fine day!

(correlates: 2008-08-02 - Catoctin 50k, JanuaryQuips, LyricalHook, ...)