Saturday morning Paulette wakes me before 4am, and by 0600 I'm at Wheaton Regional Park to assist with the women-only "Run for Roses" 5k race today (16 June 2007). I meet Race Director Christina's husband, Stan, and chat with him before loading up the car. The water table at mile 2+ is popular, especially with the slower set who need hydration. Don helps keep runners and cars well-separated, and Mystery Volunteer Ann (who happens by, and stays to help) is great in handing out cups and encouraging the ladies with cheerful chatter. The next day, Christina and I walk three miles on trails in Rock Creek Park as she tells me some behind-the-scenes skinny on how race preparation and execution went. (You don't want to know — it's rather like making sausage.) Other excursions during the last dozen days follow:

2007-06-05 - Doe a Deer

~5 miles @ ~10:15 min/mi

At 7pm it seems relatively cool and low-humidity, so I skip dinner (having eaten too much earlier today) and do a short neighborhood loop instead, trying to maintain a steady tempo a bit slower than 10 min/mi. The Capital Crescent Trail is newly groomed for its first mile, with zen-garden-smooth crushed bluestone, wooden edging, and big rock drainage borders. After the Grubb Rd. side trail, however, work is still incomplete, so there's some mud from recent rains until the trestle. I cross, turn to follow the MitP course in reverse, then shift to a lower gear and climb Ireland Dr to return home past Walter Reed Annex. Near the Audubon Society branch a big deer chewing a mouthful of leaves fearlessly crosses Rock Creek Trail just a few feet in front of me, and shortly thereafter another stares at me with contempt from the bushes near milepost 2.

2007-06-08 - Gaithersburg XC 5k

~3.1 miles @ ~10:30 min/mi)

Just like last year (cf. SpongeBath, 29 Jun 2006), shortly before today's race a set of torrential thunderstorms move across the region, yielding a brief rainbow and a persistent high humidity. On the way from parking to registration Caren and Walter Jew's daughter Jenna greets me. She carries a lavender butterfly-motif umbrella that features protruding wings that look a bit like cat-ears. Ultrarunner comrade Ruth Martin is in country and still glows from her sub-five-hour London Marathon in April. Christina Caravoulias, home sick yesterday, arrived early to help set up and is eager to run. Moments after the start Ken Swab and Wayne Carson zip out of sight, Chris begins to melt in the heat, and Caren trots along with me. Ruth takes an early lead that I chip away at and manage to close after a mile. We do the rest of the race together, chatting and commiserating about the weather and trying to identify poison ivy in the brush. A cute little rabbit crosses our path. I begin with splits of 10:18 + 10:32 and achieve an official time of 32:38 — which Christina points out is precisely 1 second slower than my 2006 result. All my friends get points for finishing in the top ten of their age/sex group. I'm 12th of 12 in mine.

2007-06-09 - Seneca Creek Speed-Hike

~6 miles @ ~18 min/mi

At 7:05am Caren Jew and I meet at the Darnestown Road (Rt. 28) parking lot and proceed upstream on the Seneca Creek Trail, mostly walking as Caren evaluates how her left foot, suffering from plantar fasciitis, is doing. Dew on the grass soon penetrates my trail shoes and soaks my socks. I experiment with running up the hills and taking my pulse at each crest. We go a quarter mile or so past Germantown Road (Rt. 118) to admire a view of the creek. Emaad Burki, outbound, meets us during the return trip. The trail is a bit overgrown with brush in places, and both Caren and I find some uninvited fellow-travelers when we get back to our respective homes — tiny ticks which we hope aren't going to give us Lyme Disease.

2007-06-10 - Rock Creek Trail Loop

~7 miles @ ~13 min/mi

At 8am Mary Ewell and Ken Swab and I meet at the Wyndale Drive parking lot and walk along Rock Creek Trail to the DC Line. Then we trot briskly downstream on the Valley Trail, amusing one another with anecdotes and marveling at the tolerable temperature and humidity this morning. Approaching Military Road we miss a turn and have to backtrack a tenth of a mile or so to get to the proper blue-blazed path. On the other side of the creek we climb the steep horse trail to Fort DeRussy and then take the Western Ridge Trail back to Maryland. At her car Mary demonstrates how to change clothes in perfect modesty with the aid of a large blanket, as gentleman Ken and I avert our eyes.

2007-06-13 - Lightning (Bug) Run

~4.5 miles @ ~11.2 min/mi

Streets turn to streams and sidewalks become swollen washes, as the downpour commences in earnest during the final mile of today's jog. At 6:30 a line of thunderstorms advances into the area, so of course I must venture out (Forest Glen to Sligo Creek Trail, downstream to Colesville, and home along Dale). It's warm and rather humid for the first half hour. A lonely firefly flashes me as skies darken and thunder rumbles, first distantly, then closer. Winds rise and the last half of the outing becomes pleasantly cool, once I'm soaked to the bone.

2007-06-16 - Drop and Roll

~13+ miles @ ~12+ min/mi

On the Western Ridge Trail I jog past three young ladies going the opposite way through the woods. One carries in her arms a wee infant wrapped in pastel blue. "Lovely baby!" I observe, between huffs and puffs. "How old?" — "Three weeks!" one of the women replies. — "Excellent!" I exclaim over my shoulder, and wave. It's good to get kids onto trails early, eh? I call home to check on a few-decades-older son who has college art projects due next week, and encourage him to stay focused. The home Internet connection is down at the moment, which helps. In a valley of Rock Creek National Park my phone tells me "Emergency Calls Only", but as I climb the signal returns.

The sole of my left foot starts to ache after a few miles, and by the time I get home there are twinges on the other foot too. Sympathetic pain, given all the friends who are now suffering from plantar fasciitis? Brusing inside? Incipient stress fracture? Hard to say, though the feeties do feel worse on tarmac than when I jog on grass parallel to the paved trail. Maybe it's all just a subconscious excuse to get new shoes.

At mile 12, entering the CCT from the Grubb Rd./Terrace Dr. corner, I trip on an invisible twig and start to fall. "Roll!" I tell myself, and escape with only slight bruises to the heels of both hands and scrapes to the right knee and elbow. Plus grit and tiny pebbles in one shoe, as I soon discover. Today's midday ramble is another get-used-to-the-heat investment, and is uneventful except for that one clumsy collapse near the end. Temps are in the upper-70s but humidity is high, so within an hour my shirt is completely sweat-saturated. I take the long way from home to the purple-blazed connecting trail, which leads me via Ireland Dr. to mile 2.3 of Rock Creek Trail. Downstream to DC cyclists galore whiz along the path. Once in the park and off-road I shamelessly walk up most of the hills.

The dirt horse trail east from Ft. DeRussy is scary-steep but I manage to gallop down without tripping or putting a foot into equine deposits. A chipmunk scurries under the Military Rd. bridge. In the Valley Trail's "Keep Out!" segment a large recently-fallen tree lies across the steeply eroded hillside. It actually helps by providing handholds and protection against sliding sideways into Rock Creek, as hikers are forced to thread their way over/under limbs. At the East-West Hwy. fountain I pour water over my head. My weight post-run is down by almost five pounds, to the low 170's — but three of that comes back quickly when I quaff a post-race Arnold Palmer potion.

(cf. All Good (13 Jan 2007), RacyJetsam (4 Feb 2007), AggressiveResting (17 Mar 2007), NotSoDifficultRun (10 Apr 2007), TheyBullRunRun (6 May 2007), TrailImprovement (21 May 2007), OperationAcclimation (3 Jun 2007), ...)

TopicRunning - TopicPersonalHistory - 2007-06-18

(correlates: FinalLesson, TemporalUtilitarianism, PrivateCommunication, ...)