The second half of October was blessed with excellent weather for long, slow runs — fortunately for me, since I hope to survive the Rock Creek Park Marathon [1] on 13 Nov 05. My outings, thanks to the help of several friends:

2005-10-22 - Candy Cane Puddle-hop

3+ miles @ ~10:00 pace

Early morning rain leads me to fantasize that nobody else will show up for the MCRRC "Candy Cane" 5k, so I suit up and drive the two miles to the race even though I'm planning to do a longish jog the next day. I chat with Way-No (hi, and congrats on a great run, dude!) and Christina Caravoulias (who has cut back to "only" done ~60 races so far this year). Then comrade Ken Swab and his daughter Hilary arrive. Ken and I find our way to the back of the pack and cross the starting line about 10 seconds after the "gun". We trot along steadily as we joke and argue with one another. Our splits are 9:51, 9:42, and 10:02 (yeah, we walked a bit that mile) with a total 5k result of 30:28 by my watch, last and penultimate in our age/sex group. Hilary sets a PR by finishing ~8 minutes ahead of us, but applying custom ^z correction factors for age and gender suggests that she effectively beat her old man and me by only ~2 minutes, a slightly less embarrassing outcome.

2005-10-23 - CCT-RC Loop

23+ miles @ ~12:15 pace

At 7:30am sharp I step to the end of my driveway and start my stopwatch with a last-quarter moon high in a blue sky. It's a big loop, to Georgetown via the Capital Crescent Trail, along the Potomac to the Thompson Boat Center, then back home via Rock Creek Park. Comrades Ken, Evan, and Ruth meet me near mile 4 in Bethesda and I foolishly let them pull me along at ~10:45 pace while enjoying banter and encouragement for a few happy miles. Eagle-eyed numismatist Ken confiscates a $20 bill which he spies lying on the asphalt. Ruth is doing a 10 mile out-and-back tune-up in preparation for the New York City Marathon in a fortnight. We discover that she runs with Ms. Caren Jew, aka C-C, in the MCRRC first-time marathon program, even though she has done a few already including last year's MCM where she was a minute ahead of me. Yesterday Ruth beat Ken and me in the Candy Cane race by 90 seconds (or by more than 4 minutes when adjusted by the ^z formula for age-gender handicaps).

I aim for a steady plod of 12 min/mi, but the first 10 miles come in at 11:55 pace thanks to the slight downhill gradient and peer pressure. During the second half I pay that debt back with interest and extended walk breaks, averaging 12:40/mi based on faded P-P markers along Beach Drive. Mysteriously mobile pains begin in my left ankle, shift after a couple of hours to the bottom of my right foot (plantar fascia? metatarsals? flexor digitorum brevis? ain't anatomy great?!), and eventually settle on the front of the upper left thigh.

Before setting out I had coffee and two Dutch stroopwafels; during the jog I consume Gatorade and a Clif Bar, along with S! electrolyte capsules at hours 3 and 4. Prior to the jog I try to predict my arrival times at several intermediate locations in case anybody wants to meet me en route. I'm within 1 minute of the forecast for the first five waypoints, 10 minutes early at the National Zoo, and 23 minutes ahead of schedule at the DC-MD boundary line.

As I arrive home the moon is setting. I suck down a bowl of vegetable soup accompanied by thickly-buttered bread and a glass of milk, then take a Sunday afternoon nap.

2005-10-29 - RCPM Preview

11+ miles @ 11:30 pace

Starting at the Lake Needwood parking lot I attempt to follow the Rock Creek Park Marathon [2] route in preparation for the event two weeks from today. Alas, I miss a turn during the initial circuit of the lake and find myself on a trail at the edge of the golf course. But a scramble down a steep hillside (clinging to saplings along the way) soon gets me back on track. Once I reach the paved bike trail the down-and-back path is terra cognita except for two side excursions that are shown on the map I carry; the length of each isn't obvious. So I jog the digressions all the way to where they end at streets to see what they're like. The first includes a slightly scary metal see-through-to-the-water-below bridge; the second features a steep hill that would definitely be a heartbreaker on the climb and a quadbreaker on the descent at miles 9 and 22, were it part of the course. I strongly suspect, however, that the actual route doesn't include the killer climb.

The weather this Saturday morning is brisk, with biting breezes and temperatures in the 40's. I wear gloves with my short-sleeved shirt and shorts and feel chilled at times, but still finish salt-encrusted from dried sweat. Six measured miles between Rock Creek Trail markers average 11:15, with a 2:1::jog:walk ratio for most of the journey. I get back to the car after 2h10m and stop there, not realizing that the actual RCM course includes another loop around the lake. Wait until 13 November!

Fuel: two stroopwafels before starting and a pint of gatorade along the way. Sightings: a buck with a large three-point antler on one side but only a truncated two-point stub on the other, waiting (near Sue Wen Stottmeister's memorial glade) for a quiet time to cross the asphalt to the creek for a drink; also three does and countless walkers, joggers, and cyclists.

2005-10-30 - Cabin John Trail (North)

~7 miles @ ~14 min/mi pace

The Cabin John Trail [3] is only half a dozen miles from my home, but until Comrade Ken tells me about it I don't know of its existence. This morning Ken & I drive to Cabin John Regional Park and set off to explore the upper end of the path. We follow a side trail that's familiar from the "Hills of Cabin John" MCRRC cross-country race downhill to the CJT, where we turn right and cross Tuckerman Lane. We jog along a gravel road through a campground until we spy blue blazes indicating where the official trail leaves the road.

Or does it? My GPS is of no value: the batteries died after I got one waypoint, and now I wish I were holding a water bottle instead. The map printout I carry is ambiguous — perhaps we are actually on a connector trail instead of the real CJT. In any event, Ken and I proceed along a rocky, narrow, somewhat overgrown path, following occasional faded blue splotches on the trees. We scramble across the Cabin John Stream at a narrow spot and then join what is definitely the right trail. It takes us across a rickety-looking but solid wooden bridge and soon we arrive at the northern terminus of the CJT. Ken photographs me pretending to run. Then we turn around and head south.

Ken sets a fierce pace, and I miss my traditional walk breaks. We get lost briefly a couple of times but enjoy the woodland scenery throughout the process of finding our way back. We pass our starting point and continue onwards, and now the trail is much better maintained and more heavily used. After crossing under high-tension power lines we pass Shirley Povich Field, where I've witnessed the Silver Spring Takoma Thunderbolts and the Bethesda Big Train play amateur baseball in years past. At the Locust Grove Nature Center we reach Democracy Blvd., touch the street ceremoniously, and then reverse course northward again. We get back to the car after 1h40m and watch parents and their kids boarding the park's miniature train. We decide to refrain from riding (this time).

(cf. HillsOfCabinJohn2004 (1 May 2004), September2005JogLog (30 Sep 2005), GoldenTrump (16 Oct 2005), ...)

TopicRunning - TopicPersonalHistory - 2005-10-30

(correlates: ThreeMooseketeers, 2005-11-13 - Rock Creek Park Marathon and Relay, ShortRun, ...)