2007-12-07 - Lake Artemesia Orbits

~15 miles @ ~10.5 min/mi

A few inches of snow is melted and refrozen into icy patches along Paint Branch Trail (PBT) but most of the asphalt is clear. After an 16-hour fast for a cholesterol blood test (which turns out ok, thank goodness) I snarf down a Clif Bar and a can of Cherry Coke, drive the kids to the University of Maryland, and set off a little before 10am. My original thought was to do some speedwork around Kehoe Track, but the gates are locked.

So Paint Branch to Lake Artemesia it is. Temperatures are in the low 30's and intermittent light sleet or drizzle patters down — near-perfect weather for someone whose engine runs as hot as mine. At the end of the first measured PBT mile (markers 1.5 to 0.5) my watch says 10:40, which seems too fast to me but feels strangely comfortable.

Three big geese lumber into the air and fly overhead, honking their welcome as I go under the train tracks and enter Lake Artemesia Natural Area. At first I have the place all to myself except for hundreds of ducks, squirrels, sparrows, wrens, and unseen wildlife. The ice is slippery along the windward southern edge of the park but the rest of the pathway is clear. I jog around to the start/finish of the 1.35 mile Lake Loop. Without any walking I still feel good when I reach the 1 mile mark painted on the pavement, so I take a split and do it again. And again. And again.

A frigid flock of birdwatchers arrive and then flit away. On a hot and humid 12 May 2007 expedition I did three laps around Lake Artemesia (cf. "My Goose is Cooked" in TrailImprovement) and suffered. Today seems effortless in contrast, as the miles flow by at a consistent 10:33 + 10:28 + 10:30 + 10:28 + 10:29 + 10:35 + 10:28. I think about stopping after six loops when my left hip begins to ache a bit, but except for twinges in the left metatarsal area I'm still feeling solid, so I press onward to nine.

A heavily-bundled lady jogger with a big bouncy blonde ponytail appears and vanishes. Real, or illusion? My mental math says that every orbit is about 4/3rds of a mile, so I want to do a multiple of three including entry/exit laps. And there are ~1.5 miles each way between where I left the car and the Lake. A young Asian fellow begins to circle the lake clockwise, and I nod at him him twice per revolution as we pass in opposite orbits. Green line Metro trains rattle by on the elevated tracks.

Cold crows scold me from a scrawny tree as I accelerate for a final Artemesia mile in 10:12. Overall average pace around the Lake Loop today, including 0.35 mile fractionals, comes to 10:28 min/mi. Amazingly fast for me, but it's cold, the course is nearly flat, and I'm been trying to lose some weight (I'm probably in the low-160s zone now) — all of which conspire to help make it my day. Too bad it's not a race!

After ~2 hours I've used up both bottles of ZelectrolyteFormula that I carry and it's definitely time to head back. The return trip on the Paint Branch Trail gives a mile time (between markers 0.5 and 1.5) of 10:26. And not one walk break today — wow!

(correlates: DetectiveWork, TakeTime, GoodDay, ...)