February 2008 Rambles

For me 'tis the season to avoid injury and start getting ready for some long trail runs: the Seneca Creek Greenway Trail Marathon/50k in early March, the Hinte-Anderson (HAT) Run 50k in late March, and the Bull Run Run 50 miler in mid-April. Notes on the past few weeks of jogging follow ...

2008-02-09 - GWBM Preview

11+ miles @ ~13 min/mi

Kabrena Rodda and I meet at the Greenbelt Youth Center this morning partly to have a good-bye run (she's being transferred to Texas within the month) and partly to give me a preview of the George Washington Birthday Marathon course. The GWBM will take place on February 17, and as usual I'm Mr. Unready, but no matter: it's just another training run, preparation for the Seneca Creek trail marathon, the HAT Run 50k, and the Bull Run Run 50 miler all to come within the next two months. Dr. K and I enjoy the cool but relatively calm weather as we trot along the roads of the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center. We do one loop rather than the three of race day.

Our splits: 12:02 (little did we know!) + 11:35 (including the nice downhill stretch into BARC) + 27:01 (miles 3 & 4; I missed hitting the stopwatch button in the middle; it included a rest stop and some uphill walks) + 12:26 + 13:19 (turning from Beaver Dam to Soil Conservation Rd) + 13:11 + 13:16 (we're consistent, eh?!) + 13:50 (mile 9, mostly uphill along Powder Mill Rd) + 5:26 (fractional mile to marathon marker "24") + 11:41 (the fast mile from the BARC Visitor Center "Log Cabin" to the Big Hill) + 13:45 (the aforementioned Big Hill!) + 2:14 (final 385 yards of the marathon). Our total time is thus just under 2.5 hours for what I estimate was ~11.6 miles, as per the course map.

2008-02-10 - Greenway Gallop

12+ miles @ ~15 min/mi

The family of red-headed woodpeckers scolds us from the top of their naked tree, as Caren Jew and I stop to peer up at them. We've already done about 10 miles along Seneca Creek and are on our return trip; we started at Route 28 and today went upstream. The birds examine us and then fly away. "Sorry, guys!" Caren apologizes for disturbing them. Both of us are coughing as we recover from bronchial infections.

A couple of weeks ago I got a ticket driving out here for a run; today I cruise slowly. At 0620 when I arrive the parking lot is empty, but soon Ed Schultze arrives --- he's honcho of a group run in the other direction --- and shortly thereafter Caren is there. We jog slowly and walk most of the hills. Our goal is to get some miles in, avoid injury, and have fun. A cold front glides through and light rain pelts down on us briefly; then the sky clears and there's a sunny glare in our eyes. As we approach Riffle Ford Rd a green netting on the ground, there to protect newly seeded grass, almost trips me.

Caren wants to do 12 miles, so we continue into Seneca Creek State Park and stop at a pair of crude wooden benches to eat some Petite Écolier cookies that she is carrying --- they're scrumptious! We look around but don't see an obvious way to cross the stream and return on the other side, so we trot back the way we came.

2008-02-17 - George Washington's Birthday Marathon

26.2+ miles @ ~10.8 min/mi

... see Washington Birthday Marathon 2008 for details of this race, where I set a new personal record of a bit under 4:44 ...

2008-02-24 - Rachel Carson Conservation Park and Hawlings River Park

13 miles @ ~14 min/mi

At 0650 as I drive along Zion Rd in northern Montgomery County, who arrives simultaneously from the west on Riggs Rd but Caren Jew! We're in sync today, aiming to do a dozen miles around the Rachel Carson Conservation Park in preparation for upcoming trail races. Caren has run here many times, but it's a new area for me. Temps are in the 20's, which keeps the ground nicely frozen in otherwise-boggy areas. Caren leads me along the blue-blazed Rachel Carson trail which descends to the Hawlings River and then turns eastward.

We trot along with the sun in our faces for half an hour or so and arrive at Georgia Avenue, the end of the official Rachel Carson trail. Caren has heard that there are unmarked paths here that lead, perhaps, to the Triadelphia Reservoir and Patuxent River. Neither of us have a map or a GPS. "No worries!" I say, "we can always follow a creek downstream to civilization." Across the street we go, up and down ridges, leaping across small tributary streams of the Hawlings and trekking along ground torn up by horse and mountain bike and motorized ATV traffic. Thorn bushes scratch us both when we suddenly find ourselves following a deer track instead of a human trail.

An hour later, with no Triadelphia Reservoir in sight, we decide it's time to turn back when we emerge from the woods at a massive transformer farm where multiple high-tension electrical power lines converge. (I think it's the Brighton Substation at 39.185 N 77.039 W.) The icicles are mostly melted off my beard now, and the earth is starting to get swampy where the sun shines on it.

False "trails" abound: Caren and I realize during the return trip that we're lost several times, but we're never much troubled. By bushwhacking we always seem to find our way back to the true trail within minutes. "Good training for the Barkley Marathons!" I comment. We sprint the final quarter mile and after three hours are back at our cars.

(cf. HuntingSeason (2007-11-30), Fallen Angel (2007-12-08), LightningCrashes (2007-12-23), Red Eye 50k 2008 (2008-01-05), Massanutten Mountain South Training Run (2008-01-22), Icy Half Marathon (2008-01-25), Thirteen Eagles (2008-01-28), Seneca Creek Stumble (2008-02-03), ...) --- ^z - 2008-02-25

(correlates: KillTheProject, UpsideDownShadows, 2007-09-02 - AT Out-and-Back, ...)