"If you don't miss a flight once in a while, then you're wasting too much time waiting in the airport!" In other words, play-it-safe perfection isn't an optimal strategy. It's wiser to take risks, and sometimes fail --- in order to do better overall.

Analogously: for a runner DNF are scary, scarlet letters of shame. They stand for Did Not Finish --- meaning in some minds "Dropped Out", "Quit", "Couldn't Hack It", and the like. Through a combination of luck and cowardice, thus far I have yet to achieve a DNF. If I don't get one eventually then obviously I'm not trying hard enough.

As the autumn marathon season progresses I'm in injury-avoidance mode, not "training" now but rather exploring my limits. Some notes on the past few weeks of jogging:

2004-10-11 - Paint Branch Photo Op

5 miles @ 9.2 min/mi

After a week of recuperation from the Tussey Mountainback 2004 fifty mile hike, the old blistered feet are beginning feel good again ... so it's a fast (for me!) fun run, mostly sub-9 pace but with pauses to take photos of mileposts along the Paint Branch Trail ... I drop the kids off at UMCP and find the park on Metzerott Road near milepost 2 of the trail, where a young Asian-looking guy is silently practicing martial arts moves. Half a dozen pictures remain in the disposable camera, so away I go, first northwards to the trail's end near mile 4, then back to mile 1.5 and return, on a delightfully cool morning which makes it unnecessary to carry a water bottle.

2004-10-13 - Bethesda Loop

11+ miles @ ~11 min/mi

A happy evening orbit from home via the Georgetown Branch Trail to Bethesda, then north along Old Georgetown Road to Cedar Lane to Rock Creek Trail, and thereby home. I run all the way, at a steady 10-11 min/mi pace, pausing only for major road crossings and to drink at water fountains. Rain begins during the first mile but soon ends. The final segment through Walter Reed Annex at 7:30pm is a bit scary-dark under the trees, but I climb the hills cautiously and avoid slipping. A big deer crosses the trail in front of me.

2004-10-17 - Rock Creek Photo Op

11+ miles @ ~11.5 min/mi

A cool Sunday, I'm missing a good image of milepost #6 on Rock Creek Trail, and there's another family disposable camera with a few shots left --- so I jog from home via Walter Reed Annex into Kensington, then back to the fountain near East-West Highway and home along the Georgetown Branch. As I reach Beach Drive I meet "Karen" who is doing ~4 miles today; we chat about her Marine Corps Marathon a decade ago, her experiences along the trail (including the time she found a cyclist, crashed and unconscious, below the Connecticut Avenue bridge), work, family, etc. ... as she sets a brisk pace ~10:15 minutes/mile. After she turns back I continue, photograph milepost 6, then reverse course and use the film up on 5, 4, 3, and 2. "Michael" then catches up with me and pulls me along at a ~9 min/mi trot, while he tells me that he refuses to do more than 10 miles at a time and has been running 25 years without injury. He leaves me with a handshake and best wishes for a good MCM. My average measured mile along the trail is 10:11, including photographic pauses and street crossing delays.

2004-10-23 - Candy Cane 5k

8+ miles @ ~9.8 min/mi

Brisk jog on a brisk morning, ~2 miles from home to the MCRRC race at "Candy Cane City" playground area on Rock Creek near DC. I rest half an hour and chat with Bob Y. and Christina C., plus comrades from a local running blog sprintbare.com "Tarzan Boy" and "Way-No" (hi!). I'm wearing my bright orange "#1" nylon shirt, which somebody remarks looks pumpkin-perfect for the Halloween season. After a walk around the nearby baseball field to brush mud off home plate and the pitcher's rubber, I start at the back of the pack and dash into a brilliant sun, with mile splits 7:57, 8:01, 8:02, plus 50 seconds for the final leg of the 5 km course. Two nice ladies pass me during the last mile and pull me along, as gusts of winds knock autumn leaves down to swirl around me. I finish in ~84th place overall, ~12th in my age/sex group. After cooldown and nosh I trot the long way home, ~3 miles. Feet and legs feel surprisingly good today, but psychosomatic aches are scheduled to develop during the coming week as the Marine Corps Marathon looms ...

(see also UltraMan (8 May 2002), AggressiveTaper (27 Sep 2004), Eric Clifton (1 Oct 2004), Tussey Mountainback 2004 (8 Oct 2004), ... )

TopicRunning - TopicPersonalHistory - 2004-10-26

(correlates: 2007-09-12 - Oakview Hill Work, DogStarRising, PassingInspiration, ...)