Patient Companionship

Who holds the record for the most time spent suffering (a word I choose carefully for its literal meaning) with me on long runs? The overall winner to date is surely tireless Caren Jew, based on countless training treks we've done together. For a single session — defined as staying within earshot the whole way — Steve Adams sets a tough-to-beat mark of 43 miles (11.5 hours) at the Tussey Mountainback of 2004. Mary Ewell is a strong second with 35 miles (9.5 hours) during the final two-thirds of the 2007 JFK. Ruth Martin and Caren Jew are tied for third by virtue of putting up with rambling ^z monologues for the entire HAT Run 50k races (7.5-8 hours) of 2006 and 2008. Ken Swab hasn't been subjected to my continuous company for quite as long on a trail, but he probably has spent more time cooped up in a car with me than anybody else non-family in going to and from the Wineglass Marathon of 2006.

Notes on more recent torments I've inflicted on fellow travelers follow ...

2008-06-28 - Sweater Sweepstakes

~9 miles @ ~13 min/mi

Physicist Mary Ewell meets physicist me at 7am at the skating rink parking lot on physicist Michael Faraday Ct in Reston VA. We set out briskly southeastward on the W&OD Trail and in less than a minute pass milepost 16.5, from which our first mile is a far too fast 9:35. Our second mile is a somewhat more sensible 10:32, but then the fact that both the temperature and the dewpoint are above 70°F hits home. We turn around at milepost 14 and walk quite a bit on the return trip, so our miles 3, 4, and 5 come in at 13:28, 12:58, and 12:19 respectively. During the last mile a brave chipmunk forages on the trailside a few feet from me before scampering away into the brush. Then it's back to our cars to refill bottles, whereupon we take the Lake Fairfax trail to/from the main parking lot near the soccer fields, a couple of hilly miles each way, in 51 much happier minutes. The shade of the trees and the varied terrain make it infinitely more fun. Unlike our run of 2008-05-31 on the same trail (cf. Barred Owls) this time I'm not dehydrated, and I actually can notice things and enjoy myself. Both of us are drenched before the end of our journey. Mary challenges me to a "Who sweats more?" competition, in which I concede defeat when at the end of the run she takes off her socks and wrings out puddles from each of them.

2008-06-29 - Lake Needwood Descent

6 miles @ 11 min/mi

Cara Marie Manlandro and I meet at Lake Needwood and set off at 6:30am for a 6 mile out-and-back along Rock Creek Trail. We manage a "descending" pace, with splits by my watch of 11:47 + 11:39 (technically, 11:39.21) + 11:39 (technically, 11:38.82) + 11:11 + 10:45 + 9:53 — that amazing final mile including the long uphill segment back to milepost 14. (cf. Rock Creek Trail Miles 10 to 14) I chatter as usual along the way, offering gratuitous advice about how CM may wish to prepare for the Riley's Rumble Half Marathon coming up in a month.

2008-07-02 - Sligo 5k

~3.5 miles @ 11.5 min/mi

CM escapes her lab early, but I miss one train on the way home and get stuck in local traffic so I'm later than I hoped meeting her at Sligo-Dennis Avenue Park. At a bit before 7pm we trot southward "beside the banks of bounteous Sligo" (to quote Bob Forward's recollection of his middle-school song from the 1960's). The weather is surprisingly cool and dry this evening, and we chat and jog at a comfortable pace all the way to Colesville Rd and back. A medium-sized deer is munching foliage a few feet off the path as a few walkers watch and one takes a cellphone-camera photo of it. When I ask CM to lend me her knife so I can kill the four-legged locust, however, the deer bolts away into the woods.

2008-07-04 - DCRRC Age-Handicapped 4 Miler

4 miles @ 8.3 min/mi

Christina Caravoulias tells me about a cute race concept that the DC Road Runners Club implements every 4th of July. Based on age/sex performance tables, the race starts at different times for different people. My group has a 14-minute handicap relative to the baseline, 70+ year old ladies. Chris begins about 3.5 minutes ahead of me. The young fast folk have to start later. It makes for more passing mid-race as the leaders sort themselves out, like isotope separation in uranium enrichment. There's a lot of standing around before the start, but much less at the end.

In spite of warm (~75°F) and humid (~65°F dewpoint) conditions I trot along briskly and do rather better than I expected, but rather worse than my fantasy-world goal of 8 minutes/mile. From the starting point on the C&O Canal Towpath at Carderock, near Canal mile 10.5, the first fractional mile to the turnaround at milepost 11 takes me 3:55. My mile splits thereafter, markers 11-10-9-10, are 8:09 + 8:14 + 8:50 (ugh!) and the final roughly-half-mile back to the start/finish is 4:11, for a total elapsed time of 33:19 and a handicapped time of 47:19, which puts me 75th out of 126 or so racers. (cf. official results) I stay near the finish to greet Blair Jones, Jaime Lopez, and Christina who finishes strong with her friend Sharyn Gordon. The C&O Canal mileposts are notoriously inaccurate, so who knows how far we actually went? After the finish we eat, drink, and all get prizes, some rather weird; as the Race Director notes, "One man's trash is another man's treasure!" I cheerfully snag an XXL DCRRC singlet.

2008-07-05 - Fairfax Loop

9+ miles @ ~14 min/mi

After two hours of no significant animal sightings, other than fellow homo sapiens, a big deer bounds across the trail in front of us and then turns to eye our progress. Mary Ewell and I are finishing the tempo run segment of her Fairfax loop. At 0705 we meet at Colvin Run Mill and walk to Rt 7, avoiding the geese that are feeding in the wet grass by the roadside. We cross at the light and trot along the Fairfax Cross County Trail: the F-CCT, or as I call it the Faux-CCT, to distinguish it from the MD-DC Capital Crescent Trail = CCT. After 46 minutes we're at the W&OD Trail, and turn to follow the hilly gravel horse path. A drizzle now turns into rain, and including a pause at a water fountain we reach Michael Faraday Dr and turn onto the Lake Fairfax Trail in another 33 minutes. We enjoy the "rock garden", roots, ruts, and stream crossings for another 30 minutes, with rumbles of thunder for sound effects. The Lake Fairfax restrooms are filthy the morning after Independence Day. Mary begins to push the pace for the final 20 minute segment back to Rt 7. In spite of significant digestive upset she challenges the hills — and wins!

2008-07-06 - Valley Trail and Beach Drive Loop

~7 miles @ ~13 min/mi

As CM Manlandro and I approach Bingham Dr in Rock Creek Park, a little chipmunk scurries across the path in front of us and vanishes into the leafy clutter. A few hundred yards later another does the same, and a bit later another repeats the act. We accelerate north along Beach Dr and manage the two miles back to our cars at Boundary Bridge at a brisk 10:18 min/mi pace. Our journey downstream via the Valley Trail began at 6:10am and without walk breaks averaged 13-14 min/mi including some significant hill work on the way. I estimate we've done about 5.5 miles when our loop is closed, so Cara Marie adds a 1.5 mile cooldown jog along RCT past Candy Cane City and back. The warm and humid morning leaves me totally sweat-soaked.

(cf. Sunrise Service at Seneca Creek (2008-03-24), Sharp Focus (2008-04-30), Ducky Rock Creek Trail (2008-05-12), Catoctin Trail Trek (2008-05-19), Game SET Match (2008-05-27), Barred Owls (2008-06-10), Deadfall Day (2006-06-27), ...) - ^z - 2008-07-06

(correlates: Seven Minute Mile, 2008-08-10 - DCRRC XC Picnic, 2008-08-13 - WOD Mile plus Lake Fairfax Loop, ...)