For the past month the logbook has been mostly whitespace as I let damage heal and mitochondria recharge between long races and training runs. Upcoming are the 50k HAT Run ([1] on 24 March ) and the 50 mile Bull Run Run ([2] on 14 April). Until the verdicts from those are in:

Hunger & Thirst

10 Feb 2007 — ~24 miles (~12.5 min/mi) — My fantasy during the first 2.5 hours of today's run centers on buying a big bottle of Mountain Dew from the soda machine at Thompson Boat Center. When I arrive, I discover to my chagrin that the place is padlocked with a sign that says "Closed for the Season". Ugh! Today is my first longish jog in more than a month, and half a mile from home I suddenly realize that the George Washington's Birthday Marathon is only 8 days away. Of course, I tell myself, the GWBM is only a training run for the Seneca Creek Greenway event a few weeks later, which in turn is prep for the HAT Run, which is a warm-up for the Bull Run Run in mid-April. Nevertheless, this year I seem to be taking my ultra-low-mileage ultramarathon training philosophy to new heights (or troughs). The results remain to be seen.

It's brisk today, with blue skies and temperatures in the upper 20's eventually rising into the 30's. Intermittent gusty winds shift to blow in my face whichever way I'm headed. After a breakfast of coffee and Oreos I set out from home at 10:23am with bare legs but double shirts, plus cotton gloves and a cap. After a mile my head is warmed up nicely so I stuff the hat into my shorts and trot downhill to join Rock Creek Trail just inside the Beltway. Water fountains at East-Way Highway and Candy Cane City are frozen or turned off, so I attempt to conserve my bottle of electrolyte mix. Mistake #1! The first dozen miles pass by at 11-12 min/mi pace, and I'm feeling confident when I finally get a drink at the Pearce Mill park fountain near Tilden Road. I eat one "Sports Bean" every mile; they're orange-flavored candies with salts in them, a gift from Comrade Christina that taste great. MCRRC members heading upstream greet me as they run the Rock Creek + Capital Crescent Trail loop in the opposite direction to my choice. An unknown cyclist shouts, "Way to go, Mark Dickerson, you marathon man!" (Perhaps he met me through my wife, Paulette Dickerson?) As I begin to get tired I remember the DVDs that Comrade Caren lent me (of the heroic Western States 100 and of David Horton's 66-day traversal of the Pacific Crest Trail) and press onward with renewed enthusiasm.

At the 2-hour mark I reach the National Zoo and suck down an energy gel. Thirty minutes later near the Kennedy Center I pause to take photos of a young couple and baby, using their camera. They're Asian tourists and want pictures of themselves in front of the frozen Potomac River. Seagulls perch on wooden railings. I consider venturing into a fancy waterfront bistro to buy something warm to drink, but fear that I couldn't afford anything; I'm only carrying $2 in quarters. Mistake #2! I should have at least tried to fill my bottle. My pace slips now, to about 12 min/mi for miles 12-16 as the CCT climbs gently. Fletcher's Boathouse appears closed; nothing to drink there. A blind lady runner, training for Boston, and her companion catch up with me as they finish a 20 mile day — I'm impressed. Stephanie King, fast young ultrarunner whom I met at the JFK 50, salutes me as she blasts by in the opposite direction on the CCT. I hear slapshot noises and look down to see a hockey game underway on the frozen C&O Canal.

Then my system starts to suffer. I suspect, belatedly, that I'm dehydrated and probably also running out of energy. My walk breaks expand and now my pace is more like 13-14 min/mi. Thankfully the all-weather fountain at Dalecarlia (CCT mile marker 6.5, about 3.5 hours and 17 miles into my day) is working, so I refill my bottle and start eating my final resource: a lemon-poppyseed Clif Bar. I finish downing it and 20 oz. of water by the time I reach Bethesda, 3 miles and 40 minutes later. That fountain also works, and since I'm still thirsty I re-refill and plough homeward, drinking frequently. My condition seems to stabilize ... but it's too late to recover much and my legs are borderline cramping. I "sprint" into my driveway and stop my watch a hair under 5 hours after setting out. Note to self: drink and eat, early and often!

Windy Cold

18 February 2007 — 26.2 miles (~11.7 min/mi) — see Washington Birthday Marathon 2007 ...

Icy Mud

3 March 2007 — ~28 miles (~ 16.4 min/mi) — see Seneca Creek Greenway Trail Marathon 2007 ...

I'm Free!

10 March 2007 — ~3 miles (~9.5 min/mi) — I set two alarms for 5am but wake before either of them goes off. When I roll over in bed the room suddenly spins around me — vertigo that's followed by profuse sweating. Hot flash? Brain parasites? Reaction to the dawn of Daylight Savings Time? Whatever it is, it's scary enough that I decide not to jog the ~5 miles from home to Wheaton Regional Park for this morning's MCRRC "Run Aware" 5k. When the dizziness partially subsides I get up, make a cup of coffee, check the Web of Lies for potential diagnoses, and send an email to comrades Caren & Christina & Ken telling them not to worry if they don't see me today. Then it's back to bed for another hour of rest.

By 7am I'm feeling no dizzier than usual, so I change into running gear and drive to Wheaton. Decked out with big headphones and holding a DVD, a Chinese restaurant menu, and a cellphone, I walk to the starting line and ask Race Director Pat Maloney and announcer Lyman Jordan, "Is OK for me to send text messages during the run, to order carryout hot-and-sour soup?" — anathema to the theme of the "Run Aware" campaign, of course. They laugh and politely tell me what I can do with my headphones.

I register, ditch the excess paraphernalia in my car, and warm up a little with C & C & K. Last evening Christina and I walked much of the course; along the way we met Pat Maloney with Jim Farkas rolling a measuring wheel. Before the start Stephanie King greets me and says that she "plans to skip this race": she and a friend are going to cover the distance step-hop step-hop fashion, skipping along.

The course is hilly and pleasant, with occasional mudpuddles from last night's rain. Ken and I jog the first mile together in about 10:45, with Caren and Christina a bit behind us. Ken's ITB seems much better now, but he's still recovering from something that resembles pneumonia and hasn't been able to train much lately; Caren is coming back from a bad calf muscle injury; and Christina is still doing a regime of intensive weight-training and speedwork along with swimming, spinning, and frequent road racing. So we all have good excuses well marshalled for today.

On the plus side of the equation, I'm trying new shoes: size 12 Nike "Free" ultralight soft sneakers that approach running barefoot. I found them in the half-price room of RnJ Sports, along with some low-rise wicking socks. After mile 2 flows by in ~9:45 Ken challenges me to run ahead, so I throw coal onto the fire and reach the finish line in an additional ~7:45 — an impossibly-fast pace for me. Likely the final segment of the course is short by ~0.1 miles. No matter — my feetsies feel so good that I've gotta get some more of these magic slippers!

(cf. BabyGetsNewShoes (5 Sep 2006), VikingRailroad (26 Sep 2006), HatBulge (23 Oct 2006), InnerGoat (12 Nov 2006), JFK 50 Mile Run 2006 (20 Nov 2006), SharperImage (10 Dec 2006), All Good (13 Jan 2007), RacyJetsam (4 Feb 2007), ...)

TopicRunning - TopicPersonalHistory - 2007-03-17

(correlates: TheRunner, OperatorHeadSpace, DayBreak, ...)