For the past month my jogging has been an infrequent but pleasant affair, with a happy race result, a thunderstorm run, and three 20+ mile outings. We'll see how well I can continue this sort of thing as weather gets warmer and more humid. Meanwhile:

2006-03-18 - Top 100

~4 miles@ ~8.7 min/mi

Four years ago my road racing "career" (loosely defined!) began at the MCRRC Super Sligo event with a 34:59 result, 84th of 148 finishers (see JogLogFog, 2 Jun 2002). At the 2003 running I slipped to 38:58, 100th of again 148. I missed the next two runnings since the 50k HAT Run fell on the same day in '04 and '05. This year's HAT is scheduled for next week, however, so the Super Sligo is an option. It goes well, by my watch in 34:30 for yet another 100th place among an unknown but, I fantasize, somewhat larger number of participants. The '06 course is 4.0 miles, so my 2002 result is a faster objective pace. But if I allow a handicap of 1% per year of advancing age the 2006 Super Sligo may well be my fastest race ever – or at least, so I can delude myself!

I arrive late and snag the last parking space available, thanks to volunteer Jim Rich and colleagues. After last Saturday's lockout I carefully take the correct car key this time and wend my way to the registration desk, greeting comrade Ken and fellow Boy Scout father Paul en route. I've once more forgotten my race bib, so a kind person writes one out for me by hand. There's now barely time to amble to the starting line, where I arrive just as the "GO!" signal is given. I see nobody recognizable to run with, and so launch forward. Miles 1 and 3 are downhill on this double-loop course, so my splits of 8:13 + 9:07 + 8:14 + 8:52 are relatively even in perceived-effort. Ken's daughter Hilary greets me and zips by at mile 1. I then chat briefly about Chi Running with Betty Smith before settling down to work; no walk breaks today except for a few seconds at the midpoint water station. At the finish line I applaud Ken and Caren, and we all go inside to talk and eat and drink. Others have to leave early so I end up with five door-prize tickets for the drawing, but alas win nothing. Conversations with various experienced ultrarunners cement my resolution to attempt the JFK 50 miler this November. We shall see!

2006-03-25 - Hat Run 2006

31+ miles@ ~14.7 min/mi

... see HAT Run 2006 for details of this splendid sylvan ramble with friend Ruth Martin!

2006-04-01 - April Fool

11+ miles @ ~11.5 min/mi

High noon, an hour into the Bethesda Loop, and as I'm jogging north along Old Georgetown Road it's time to make a tough decision: take off the shirt, or not? In favor of keeping it on: I'm trying to get acclimated to the heat before summer arrives; it's a "Tussey Mountainback" ultra shirt which might impress some random passer-by; and baring my manly chest likely will terrify the natives and cause car accidents. (cf. the Rainer Maria Rilke poem "Archaic Torso of Apollo", e.g., "... And yet his torso / is still suffused with brilliance from inside, / like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low, / gleams in all its power. ...") But on the other hand I'm starting to feel some abrasion on certain delicate male decorations (cf. ManaBurn) and it would be a shame to get a pair of bloodstains on this nice t-shirt. So off it comes.

The jog today, a week after the HAT Run, feels comfortable with one-minute walk breaks every half mile. I'm trying a new brand of sunscreen (which doesn't run into my eyes, thank goodness) and a new fanny pack (an Ultimate Direction mini-thing) wherein I've replaced the little gel bottle with my cellphone. As I approach the end of the journey, climbing the Ireland Drive bike path in Walter Reed Annex, I find the top of the trail is blocked by construction fences (a developer is building condos; your tax dollars at work, more or less). But a brief scramble through the woods just outside the barrier soon leads me to Woodstock Court and thence home via the always-inspirational Triple Mermaid Fountain ... all three of whose horses are now headless.

2006-04-03 - Thunder Run

~4 miles @ ~11.3 min/mi

A tornado warning is in effect for the region, raindrops have just started to fall, lightning is flickering in the distance, the wind is beginning to pick up, and at 7:20pm it's about to get dark — clearly a perfect time to head out for a run! Mammatus clouds hang down pendulous overhead. Five minutes from home the sprinkle turns into a downpour. I get an automatic entry into the wet t-shirt contest, and soon thereafter my socks and shoes are soaked. Thunder rumbles and the lightning strobes often enough to illuminate the trail from Woodstock Lane to the paved Ireland Drive path down to Rock Creek. I head south and skip the walk breaks this evening to stay warm. The middle mile is 10:47, between RCT mile markers 2.25 and 1.25. Then it's home via the Georgetown Branch shortcut, holding headlamp in hand to light the way. I arrive looking like a drowned rat.

2006-04-09 - Ken's Long Run

21+ miles @ ~11.5 min/mi

"Cormorants!" an ornithologically literate lady informs us. Comrade Ken Swab and I are wondering aloud what were the dozens of small vulture-like birds we saw perched on a tree by the Potomac. Today is Ken's final long run in preparation for his first marathon in three weeks. We start our journey in the downtown Bethesda parking lot by the Capital Crescent Trail, where C-C (Caren Jew) and Ruth Martin join us at 7am. They each have other commitments and so can only do only the first six miles with us, eastwards from milepost 3.5 to 0.5 and back again. I force everybody to pause for photos on the Rock Creek Trestle, where an icy film makes for treacherous footing.

Ken and I continue south along the CCT, chatting all the while about politics, movies, baseball, running, and whatever else crosses at least one of our minds. We meet Jim Cavanaugh heading the opposite way around the midpoint of our trek and shake hands. I have a sample pack of Clif Bloks and we try those, along with Clif Shots and Gatorade. I take an S! electrolyte cap at the Thompson Boat Center, about mile 14 for us, and another one an hour later. Ken sets a brisk (for me) pace, and seems comfortable with it. I predict that he will have a good time at the Frederick Marathon.

2006-04-16 - Bonk, Bonk

~23 miles @ ~12.5 min/mi

I start to worry when I discover the water fountain is missing at the Adelphi Manor Recreation Center, just north of University Blvd. on the Northwest Branch Trail (NWBT). I'm experimenting this Easter Sunday with a long loop: from home along Forest Glen Road to the Sligo Creek Trail (SCT), then upstream ~3 miles to Wheaton Regional Park where I follow a horse path for a mile over the hills into the watershed of Northwest Branch. I proceed down NWBT for ~9 miles to its confluence with the bounteous Sligo and take SCT ~7 miles back to where I joined it over four hours earlier. It adds up to a ~20 mile circuit plus a bit more for the out-and-back to my home. (The GPS "odometer" says 21.2 but the track recorder computes 22.9 miles. That's still a little low, since the unit lost satellite lock for a few miles in the depths of the valley cut by Northwest Branch south of the Beltway. It replaced that segment with a straight line, so the actual distance is significantly longer.)

The temperature is only in the upper 60's but the old ^z carcass isn't acclimated to anything above 50°F yet. By the time I reach the Sligo Rec Center I've finished the 20 oz. bottle of Gatorade I'm holding and am sorely disappointed to find the water fountain there dysfunctional. Fortunately a restroom in Wheaton Regional is unlocked and I refill my empty bottle there, keeping a fanny-pack squeeze-bottle of Gatorade in reserve. I take a Succeed! electrolyte cap at the 90 minute mark and at the NWBT crossing of Colesville Rd. wash down a Clif Shot with the rest of my water. I ditch the again-empty container in a trash can there — fortunately for me, since the next stretch of the trail is rocky-steep and I need a free hand to steady myself during several of the boulder traverses.

So far my pace has been steady, 11-12 min/mi along smooth terrain with a 3:1::jog:walk ratio; I go slower when on "real trail". Adelphi Manor's cricket pitch is intact and being used, but there's only a concrete stub where the water fountain used to be. I've been husbanding my remaining water, it's almost noon, and I start to suffer. I increase the length and frequency of my walk breaks, soon converging on alternate minutes of jogging and walking for a 12-13 min/mi pace. Finally, about 16 miles into the day's journey I find water at Sligo Creek North Neighborhood Park near the corner of Flower Ave. and Sligo Creek Pkwy. I suck down more than a pint, refill my bottle, take another S! cap, and predictably start to feel better 15 minutes later. The remaining miles home are still a slog but not a disaster. Lesson: Don't get dehydrated!

(cf. September2005JogLog (30 Sep 2005), GoldenTrump (16 Oct 2005), LateOctober2005JogLog (30 Oct 2005), ThreeMooseketeers (1 Dec 2005), HalfBeast (4 Jan 2006), GoldenTicket (6 Feb 2006), PawingTheEarth (12 Mar 2006), ...)

TopicRunning - TopicPersonalHistory - 2006-04-16

(correlates: NotEasy, ChangeYourLife, CloseToThePin, ...)