2012-09-23 - Rock Creek CCT Loop with Stephanie and Gayatri

~24 miles @ ~12 min/mi

Venus, Jupiter, and Sirius form a sparkling right triangle in the dawn sky as I set off from home at 6:18am. Empty hands cause befuddlement until sudden realization: iPhone is in a shoulder holster and water bottle in fanny pack. Nothing missing after all!

But in the gloom under the trees I miss the turn and get lost in Walter Reed Annex on the way to Rock Creek Trail, at a corner I must have taken hundreds of times over the past decade. At the water I turn first downstream, then upstream, and finally find my way via a hiker path to the bridge near the Beltway after a few minutes. No poison ivy, thank goodness.

Rendezvous at Candy Cane City: Santa Steve and Joyce, Gayatri Datta and Stephanie Fonda. The portajohns are filthy. "I've got PTSD!" is Stephanie's rating. We walk the first half mile and then trot ahead of S&J. Conversation flows, with Gayatri's report on her recent trip to Brazil, random advice about ultramarathon strategy ("Walk the hills!", "No bad spell lasts forever!", "Relentless forward progress!") plus anecdotes about family, work, studies, past races, etc. The weather is lovely crisp. Increasing numbers of cyclists whizz by as the day progresses. In the National Zoo a polite biker keeps trying to get the attention of an earphone-wearing runner who blocks the left side of the trail near us. Eventually I shout "Bike back!" and he moves over.

Gayatri, who did 20 miles yesterday, continues on in spite of my attempts to persuade her to turn back at the Zoo. She catches up with Stephanie and me at Thompson's Boat Center where we pause to enjoy the facilities and chat with the super-friendly staff behind the counter. The three of us run together under the Whitehurst Freeway, where I inadvertently reveal that Robin, who will be cycling down to meet us, is my son. Stephanie has been trying to figure out the genders of the others but guesses wrong on Merle vs. Gray. Her daughter's name "Haven" is likewise ambiguous.

DC Road Runners Club aid stations are set up along the pathway for a duathlon, kayak paddling plus cycling. We get through the area before riders began their CCT segment. Stephanie and I give thanks for how lucky-blessed we are to be able to run long, how rare a privilege it is (wealthy society, tolerant families, etc.), and how much fun it can be to hold back and not mention how far we've ran when others cheerfully boast about doing lesser distances.

Son Robin materializes near the DC line and gives us bottles of Gatorade. He started his ride just after 9am (see his trackfile) and continues along to find Gayatri not far behind us. She accepts his gift of Gatorade, but after the rest of his out-and-back on the CCT he doesn't quite catch up with Stephanie and me in time to pass along Gayatri's message to wait in downtown Bethesda.

Stephanie accelerates the pace as we progress. We joke about sprinting the final miles but decide not to. At River Road there's more banter — "You walk first!" ... "No, you!" ... "I'll walk if you'll walk!" — which leads to reminiscing about childing conversational gambits. Stephanie adjusts a garment that begins to chafe a sensitive area. I avert my eyes and offer petroleum jelly, but with a caveat: "Sorry, I can't rub it on for you. I'm married!" A dead mouse on the CCT and a dead raccoon on Beach Dr near the National Zoo, plus sporadic stenchy smells from the DC sewer system, are the only unæsthetic observations today.

When Stephanie's GPS reads 21 miles we stop the instruments and begin a final cooldown. As we approach the cars we see Joyce and Santa Steve, back from their trek to the Zoo and getting ready to go out for more. "Come on, they'll see us walking — we've gotta run!" I tell Stephanie, so we break into a slow canter together. Then Stephanie gives me a ride home. We see Gayatri on her way to the finish, only a few minutes behind us.

My consumption en route: 3 S! e-caps, 2 energy gels, a couple of Atomic Fireballs, a bottle of "Fierce Grape" Gatorade, and part of a Clif Bar shared with Stephanie. She gives me some of her Gatorade. Sad news, however, when I check the scale: my weight afterwards is ~146 lbs., higher than it should be. But perhaps I avoided dehydration. Intermittent left metatarsal pain is troublesome; Stephanie had some too, as well as left ITB issues. Fortunately my right foot seems not to hurt on the top/outside bones, unlike after last weekend's long run. The Garmin GPS and Runkeeper app both glitch, perhaps due to signal loss in the Dalecarlia and Air Rights tunnels. Garmin says 24.6, Runkeeper thinks 25.3 miles.

(for other runs on this same general loop see 2005-10-23 - CCT-RC Loop, 2006-10-07 - Caren's Loop, 2007-10-20 - Mary's Loop, 2009-01-10 - CM's Loop, 2010-08-07 - Gayatri's Loop Plus, 2010-08-14 - Night Run - Karen's Loop, ...) - ^z - 2012-10-05