2008-12-13 - Rock Creek West Loop

15.5+ miles @ ~11 min/mi

Hip-hop, the rabbit sees CM and me
Approach. It stops to stare from neighbor's lawn,
Then flees to pop through hedge and out of sight.
We round the block, setting about our trial
Of miles on legs and hearts. Clouds part, moon looms
In west. Dawn breaks as we make haste by trail
Through frosty morn, up hill, down creek, climb west
On street, sip drinks from hip-pack flasks, dodge cars,
And greet the other runners whom we meet.
CM dances in place as traffic makes
Her wait to cross. Our pace persists until
A final steep ascent dents plans to race
For home. Now we commence a walk and then,
Recovered, run again. Fifteen-plus miles
Has brought us back full circle. So we split
A candy bar, to celebrate the trek:
New record distance for CM—for now!

At 0630 Cara Marie Manlandro starts running at the end of my driveway and doesn't stop until more than 15 miles later. I, on the other hand, am shameless about walking whenever I feel like it! According to astronomical authority [1] the full moon as we set out is exceptionally close to perigee, "... 14 per cent bigger and some 30 per cent brighter than most full moons this year ...". The temperature is a few degrees below freezing and we dodge scattered ice patches on the asphalt. Within a few miles I overheat and have to take off my outer windshirt, exposing a radioactive lime-green HAT Run longsleeved shirt that sears the eyes of all who glance at it. I soon realize that I haven't properly reset my GPS and have to subtract about 1.7 miles from whatever the digital odometer reads.

We trot together along neighborhood streets to the Georgetown Branch Trail, then take the side path to Rock Creek Trail and East-West Highway, past Meadowbrook Stables, and into DC. Police cars zip along Beach Drive as officers close the gates to keep weekend traffic out. At Military Rd we turn west and take the paved path that climbs steeply out of the valley. CM challenges the hills and I practice my Lamaze breathing behind her. Along the sidewalk we meet other runners, all ladies until more than half a dozen miles into our journey.

A seam on my tights starts to chafe a delicate area, so I caution CM not to look back as I stuff my hat "down there"; the insulation works well. We zig from Military onto Western, zag onto River, then join the Capital Crescent Trail at milepost 4.5. Flocks of runners are jogging along, including many dressed in a Christmas theme. No bib numbers are visible, but perhaps it's a group fun-run? I salute a Santa Claus with a long faux-beard, who salutes me back. Two fair maidens blast past and I'm naturally tempted to give chase, but CM's presence restrains me. Hitherto we've maintained a "Forever Pace" of ~11 min/mi. Now hubris takes over and we zip along ~10% faster for a few miles—until we come to our senses, that is.

We hit almost all the traffic lights almost perfectly, but at the final Connecticut Av GBT crossing we have to wait for a gap in the cars. CM jogs back and forth to maintain momentum; I stand. At Jones Mill Rd I hook us onto Coquelin Terr to add an extra quarter mile, "Just to make sure!" that we make CM's goal of 15 today. That insurance turns out to be superfluous. We take the long way home, Rock Creek Trail northward almost to the Beltway, then ascend steep Ireland Drive. That unrelenting hill finally makes CM say a naughty word—but she maintains stride until we've crested the ridge, coasted down Linden Lane, and crossed the Beltway. When my GPS confirms that we're well past mile #15 she finally condescends to take a short walk break with me.

"OK," she admits, "now everything hurts! My eyebrows hurt!" Her left foot has been cramping for the past mile, and my left metatarsals began to complain several miles before that. We reach my home in a total time 2:50:37 start-to-finish with a GPS distance estimate ~15.7 miles. The USATF route I laboriously clicked in on 12-25-2005 (Merry Xmas!) [2] indicates "only" 15.1 miles, but it took a couple of short cuts, did not cross the Beltway, did not take the Jones Mill Rd + Coquelin Terrace bypass, etc.—which explains the extra .5+ mile we went today. CM sets a new personal distance record and removes the fear factor that had previously surrounded the number "15". Brava!

Split info:

11:38first approx. mile, home to CCT/GBT milepost 0.5
11:02about a mile to RCT new milepost 1 by Meadowbrook Stables
10:51mile on RCT to DC line
21:002 miles on Beach Dr to Bingham Rd "P-P" marker
47:53Bingham Rd, Military Rd, Western Av, River Rd to CCT milepost 4.5
09:54mile to post 3.5 on CCT near Bethesda water fountain—wow!
10:03mile to CCT post 2.5
10:33mile to CCT post 1.5
09:38less than a mile, Jones Mill Rd + Coquelin Terr, E-W Hwy, to RCT 1.25 line
10:03mile to RCT 2.25 line
18:00Ireland Dr, big hill climb to Linden La, cross Beltway, train tracks, and thence home

(cf. CM Manlandro's report at [3] as well as 2004-07-17 - Rock Creek and Capital Crescent Mini-loop & 2005-12-26 - Winter Wardrobe) - ^z - 2008-12-17