High atop the eastern spire of the Mormon Temple, the angel Moroni lifts his shining trumpet to greet the dawn. In the background a silver passenger jet glints as it banks in a sapphire sky. Far below on Rock Creek Trail I'm deep in shadow, a couple of miles into a Sunday morning jog, just enjoying the view and feeling lucky to be here. I think of UltraMan Paul Ammann's comments on the privilege of going out long. From the first half of October's jog-log-book:

2005-10-01 - Northwest Branch Coordinate Collecting

10+ miles @ ~12:00 min/mi

After the horrors of driving through the UM campus a few hours before a major football game (dropping off one son, delivering $$$ to another) the Northwest Branch Trail is an oasis of calm. I leave the car at the Adelphi Manor Recreation Center and commence jogging upstream from Northwest Branch Trail mile marker 4.5 at the corner of the parking lot. The cool crisp weather makes the journey a delight. I take GPS waypoints at miles 5, 5.5, and 6, but can't find 6.5 (if it exists). The paved trail ends near mile 7 and I continue on, past the narrows where I fell into the water on 8 May 2003 (cf. ForestPrimevalPedestrian). Now I'm mostly walking over the uneven rocks, with occasional pauses to clamber over fallen tree trunks. When I reach the Capital Beltway I capture coordinates below each side of the high bridge, then turn around.

At about the one-hour mark I get back to the Rec Center and pause for a minute to drink, refill my bottle at the fountain, swallow a S! electrolyte cap, and watch some people setting up a cricket pitch (they're hammering the stumps into the ground). Then it's southward bound to snag waypoints at NWB markers 4, 3.5, 3, and 2.5. I proceed a short distance further to the confluence of Sligo Creek and Northwest Branch, then turn back. The final mile is a blistering 10:05 — the fastest of the day. It includes a crosswalk sprint across University Blvd. to avoid having to wait for another long cycle of the traffic light. A cricket match is about to begin as I prepare to drive home.

The new and improved (tastes great! less filling!) DC Metro Area Trails: GPS Waypoints shows the latitudes & longitudes collected today (and during past outings) ...

2005-10-02 - Rock Creek Ramble

7 miles @ ~12:00 min/mi

Comrade Ken Swab calls and wants to go running, so instead of drinking beer and eating popcorn all day I slip on my trail-slipper AeiShoes and power up the old GPS. Ken picks me up in his van and we park just outside of DC on Beach Drive to commence what was to be a short trail loop. (Remember the Gilligan's Island theme song? " ... a three hour tour ... a three hour tour ...") It actually wasn't bad at all, even though we get semi-lost because of construction work in Rock Creek Park along the Valley Trail and end up going about twice as far as originally planned.

We take the Western Ridge Trail across Wise Road and then turn eastward on a side path to Beach Drive, where we cross the Riley Spring bridge and join the Valley Trail. (Thus far this is the route that Deborah Mellman led me on in early 2003, on an icy morning when nobody else showed up for her MCRRC "Back of the Pack" trail jog.) Ken feels strong when we reach the Valley Trail and suggests that we turn south and do an extra mile or so. Lots of folks are out walking their dogs.

Construction signs and barrier fences force us to turn further to the east after the trail goes under Sherrill Drive, and we suddenly find ourselves on 16th Street NW near Whittier St. We scratch our respective heads and turn south again, figuring that there must be some way back to Rock Creek. At Joyce Rd. we re-enter the park but I mistakenly insist that we turn toward the golf course, thinking that we can't possibly be so far south as Military Road this soon. I'm wrong, of course --- clearly I need to get a better GPS with stored maps --- but after a digression to the clubhouse we get back onto Joyce and soon find ourselves near the central Park Police station. This is familiar terrain to me from many past journeys, so from here on we just follow Beach Drive the ~2.5 miles back to Ken's van.

I collect waypoints along the way, and now have the spreadsheets and templates to turn them into a customized Google map --- see for the result. (And thanks, Ken, for getting me out of the house today!)

2005-10-07 - Rock Creek Rising

6+ miles @ 11:50 pace

A leaf on the path takes a sudden hop out of my way and I see that it's a huge brown frog activated by today's rains. Rock Creek is perhaps a foot above its normal level but the underpass at Connecticut Ave. is still navigable, though big puddles encourage some off-the-beaten track detours. I drop the old car off at the shop and start jogging downhill through Walter Reed Annex to Rock Creek Trail without taking any walk breaks. After 15 minutes, however, the sudden appearance of bright glowing spots in my visual field (cf. OcularMigraines and Migraine Visions) tells me that it's time to slow down. I pause to drink at the fountains at miles 2.9 (Old Spring Rd.) and 4.6 (Cedar Lane), reverse course, and jog-and-walk home. The forecasted heavy rains and cooler weather don't arrive in time to save me from overheating.

2005-10-09 - Flotsam on Beach Drive

18+ miles @ 11:50 min/mi

Home to Zoo and Back — Yesterday's storms leave mud sloughs on Rock Creek Trail as I approach the DC line. A big tree has fallen across the path and the street, so I clamber over the trunk and continue into Rock Creek park, where within the first mile another downed tree leaves only a narrow sliver of Beach Drive passable. Just past the Park Police headquarters a rock almost the size of a MINI Cooper has cleaved from the hillside and is sitting pretty in the northbound lane. Farther along the trail at Peirce Barn the underpass is full of sticks and debris.

My jog:walk ratio is 1:1 from the start today, as part of an experiment to see whether I can go comfortably long. I carry a bottle of Gatorade, a crunchy peanut butter Clif Bar, and a GPS for coordinate collecting. A flock of MCRRC First-Time-Marathon runners pass me as I turn from Stewart Ave onto the Georgetown Branch trail; they're on a 20 mile journey from Silver Spring along the Capital Crescent Trail to Alexandria. I tag along briefly behing a group of ladies who are discussing their MCM plans, but unfortunately miss seeing C-C, aka Caren Jew, a comrade whom I met at a 10k cross-country event last month.

About mile 7 I fall in beside Victor, a young crew-cut fellow in training for his second marathon (Richmond, next month; his first marathon was sub-4 and he hopes to be sub-3.5 this time). He reports seeing a tragedy in Silver Spring yesterday evening: the storm brings down a tree limb onto a truck, killing a man and leaving a woman trapped inside with him, while fallen electrical lines prevent those nearby from helping. We jog together for half a mile before I excuse myself and start taking walk breaks again.

The old GPS begins to indicate low-voltage and fails to get a tracking lock at the faded white P-P markers painted on the road, so I promise it a new set of batteries if it perks up and does better. This seems to work (or perhaps the satellite configuration has improved), and I start to get good waypoints as I approach the National Zoo. I touch the stone side of the big tunnel, click my watch at the 1h49m mark, and turn for home ... with a slight detour into the Zoo a minute later at the parking lot in order to refill my water bottle.

On the return trip ca. mile 12 I get a serendipitous introduction to Linda, a nice lady whose pace is only a little faster than mine. She relates her single marathon experience (Honolulu, 1992), after which she came to her senses. We chat for a mile or so about local race opportunities (her favorite distance is 10k) and then I revert to walking.

By 10am post-flood cleanup is proceeding smartly: a 'dozer proceeds down Beach Drive, on a mission to relocate the big rock out of traffic's way; a chain-saw has already sliced the roadblock-tree just north of the District Line into giant firewood chunks; small tractors are revving their engines and preparing to scrape the mud off the streets and paths adjacent to Rock Creek. I make it home in 3h39m, maintaining virtually the same pace as on the first half of the trip. Maybe a sub-6 Rock Creek Park Marathon isn't beyond belief next month.

2005-10-12 - Little Big Buck

11+ miles @ 11:30 min/mi

Almost noon, half a mile into the RCT/NIH/GBT loop: I'm just inside the Beltway entering Walter Reed Annex and hear a rustling noise in the underbrush. It's a small three-point buck, pausing to stare at me. (Alas, I'm unarmed.) Today's weather is cool but a bit humid. I maintain a 2:1::jog:walk ratio for the entire 2h12m and feel (relatively) strong for the final four miles. Recently-flooded areas along Rock Creek Trail have been bulldozed clear; two-foot-high walls of drying mud channel the path under Connecticut Avenue.

2005-10-16 - Golden Trump

20+ miles @ 12:30 min/mi

High atop the eastern spire of the Mormon Temple, the angel Moroni lifts his shining trumpet to greet the dawn. In the background a silver passenger jet glints as it banks in a sapphire sky. Far below on Rock Creek Trail I'm deep in shadow, a couple of miles into a Sunday morning jog, just enjoying the view and feeling lucky to be here. I think of UltraMan Paul Ammann's comments on the privilege of going out long.

Soon runners from the MCRRC first-time-marathon training group start meeting me on the trail, leaders blasting along at a scary-to-witness speed, followers some distance behind. I cautiously insert a minute of walking between each minute of jogging and maintain a comfortable ~12:00 pace for my first half-dozen miles. (As usual, to my chagrin when comrade C-C = Caren Jew spies me I'm taking a walk break.) A few kind folks recognize me and compliment me on some recent essays about jogging. Sunlight kisses tree crowns, then nuzzles slowly down trunks.

Comrade Ken Swab has proposed to rendezvous at the playground near RCT mile 6.3, but I arrive early and decide to trot back and forth along the trail in the area. Soon Ken appears and we do a brief warmup, then set off northward. We cover 6+ miles at an ~11:50 pace without many slowdowns, going first to milepost #9 and then back past our starting point, finally ending at the playground for a cooldown walk. I thank Ken and turn homewards.

The final seven miles flow by rapidly, at an average ~11:40 pace as I revert to my 1:1 jog:walk ratio, slightly accelerated when I'm pulled along by a passing spandex-clad fair runner. I extend the journey past East-West Highway to the original RCT marker #1 before returning to Che^z via the Georgetown Branch, a total distance of ~20.7 miles. As I enter my driveway and stop my watch I remember wondering, when I set out four and a quarter hours earlier, how it would feel when I got back. It feels good.

(cf. TentativeToeTests (9 Jul 2005), JoggingRecovery (5 Aug 2005), OnTheRoadAgain (6 Sep 2005), September2005JogLog (30 Sep 2005), ...))

TopicRunning - TopicPersonalHistory - 2005-10-16

(correlates: ParkwayDelay, 2007-09-12 - Oakview Hill Work, SecondHand, ...)