Winter/Spring Race Season is here: a marathon, a trail "marathon", and an ultramarathon decorate my February/March calendar. For the past month, therefore, the ^z dance card shows a potpourri of short & long & fast & slow, a bit over 100 pedestrian miles:

2006-02-07 - Crooked Ladder

4+ miles @ ~9 min/mi

When I get to the track I discover that a late lunch of Chinese carry-out (egg drop soup, spicy tofu with black mushrooms, fried rice) isn't the best preparation for speedwork. As the sun sets the temperature falls into the 30's, with gusty northwest breezes that further enhance the chill factor on upwind legs of the oval. I'm at the University of Maryland to pick up a couple of kids, and fortunately for me don't have time to attempt a trail run, so it's a "speedwork" session. My ladder gets ragged when I lose count of laps at one point, so I do 400 + 800 + 800 + 1200 + 1600 + 1200 + 800 + 400 at an average pace of 8:53, with half laps (~2.5-3 min) of walking and sipping an electrolyte drink to recover. A few other hardy souls are also at the track, some jogging, some walking, and one sprinter first working on his starts and later doing amazingly brisk 100 meter dashes. I spend most of my time in lanes 3, 4, and 5. (How much extra distance does that give me?)

2006-02-10 - Shooting Star

3+ miles @ 10:00 min/mi

Near sundown fellow-traveler Carl and I set off for a jog along the shore road, as the temperature falls into the 70's. Carl sets a fast pace for me, or rather, I slow him down to my plod as we chat, look at the sights along the way, and avoid the fierce traffic at crosswalks. We turn around at the big flagpole/monument and by the time we're passing the hotel my GPS says 3.01 miles. So we sprint a few dozen final yards together and I punch out while Carl goes on for another 3 or so. After a shower and dinner at the local mall's fast-food court (Indian food: I have a sweet lassi, rice, bread, and sabzi jalfrezi, mixed vegetables with hot bell pepper curry) we're walking back to our rooms and I see a bright meteor (or maybe an errant satellite? – it's about 9:25pm and the object is perhaps first-magnitude and leaves a sparky trail for half a second as it covers a 5-degree arc in the high southern sky) ... hopefully an omen of good luck for the upcoming race season!

2006-02-11 - Corniche Crawl

5 miles @ 10:30 min/mi

Comrade Mark and I walk two miles from the hotel eastward along the coast road ("The Corniche") and then part ways for the return journey, him to walk through town in search of interesting shops and me to jog on the brick sidewalk. At 6pm I clear the GPS trackfile and start my stopwatch. Today I take a walk break every 5 minutes and feel good enough to continue the jog past our starting point and out the causeway again to the big flagpole/monument and back. There are quite a few other joggers out today, with a pleasantly stiff sea breeze knocking temperatures down in the lower-70's (but with hazy skies and moderate humidity).

2006-02-13 - Last (not-so) Long Run

8+ miles @ 11:00 min/mi

Temperatures in the lower 70's but humidity of ~60% equals a somewhat sweaty outing — my last, if I have any sense, before Sunday's George Washington Birthday Marathon. I set off at 8pm along the bike path by the coast road and jog:walk::4:1 eastwards. There are plenty of pedestrians and a few other joggers and in-line skaters out this evening. The full moon in front of me first plays peek-a-boo through high clouds and then vanishes. After I've gone about 3.5 miles by the GPS odometer, past the neighborhood of the restaurant where friends and I ate dinner last night, I enter a construction zone where the absence of streetlights makes me begin to get a bit nervous about tripping, and besides which my water supply is now mostly consumed. So I turn around at the 4-mile point and head back, carefully stepping over loose bricks and small ditches. The water fountains I try aren't functional, but a soda machine near mile 5 produces a can of low-carbonation orange beverage that I use to refill my bottle, and so I'm happily hydrated for the return journey.

2006-02-19 - GW Birthday Marathon

26.2 miles @ ~11:30 min/mi

See Washington Birthday Marathon 2006 for a report on this frigid frolic through the forests of the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center and nearby Greenbelt, Maryland. My "official" finishing time is a hair over 5 hours, but by my watch I made it across the line in 4:59:58. Moving clocks run slower, according to Einstein's Special Relativity, but at my pace that effect only accounts for half a picosecond.

2006-02-25 - Out and Back and Out and Back

14 miles @ ~11:20 min/mi

At 7am on Saturday morning C-C and Ruth and Ken and I converge on the little playground in Kensington near mile 6.4 of the Rock Creek Trail [1]. It's near freezing as we set out northward, past Ken-Gar to milepost 9. Then we reverse course and are back at our starting point in less than an hour. Ruth and C-C have to stop here today; Ken and I continue downstream to milepost 2 and then return, for Ken's longest-ever run as he trains for the Frederick Marathon at the end of April. Our pace remains steady as MCRRC Saturday Long Run participants pass us en route.

2006-03-04 - Seneca Creek Greenway Trail Marathon

28 miles @ ~15:45 min/mi

See SenecaCreekGreenwayTrailMarathon2006 for a full literary report. During the race I ingest 4 Clif Shot energy gels, 4 Succeed! electrolyte capsules, 4 pints of Gatorade, 4 Girl Scout cookies, and at least 4 fistfulls of salty chips; I had 4 hours of sleep the night before. Comrade C-C and I go slowly, enjoy the perfect weather, observe the beautiful scenery, and approach the finish line with enough reserve energy to run most of the final mile. We finish a proud last in our respective classes, just under 7 hours 21 minutes.

2006-03-11 - Lockout

~6 miles @ ~14:00 min/mi + ~10 miles @ ~14:30 min/mi

At 6am Ms. C-C and I rendezvous at the MD Route 28 intersection with the Greenway Trail [2]. We observe Venus brilliant-cut in the dawn sky and debate the likely temperature and appropriate number of layers to wear. Then eastward we go, flushing a family of deer eating breakfast at the tree farm. We trot upstream along Seneca Creek, past archaic Black Rock Mill to Germantown Road (MD 118) and back. At scenic spots we pause to photograph one another. We shamelessly walk the hills and finish strong, apparently recovered from last weekend's trail marathon together. Caren sprints over and down the final ridge ahead of me. As she unlocks her automobile I discover to my chagrin that I've carried the ignition key to my car rather than the key to the doors. Deja vu – I last did this to myself on an 11 Nov 2004 run.

I phone AAA and they call for a locksmith to come break into my vehicle. C-C is concerned about my plight and lends me her spiffy Marine Corps Marathon jacket; she has to leave soon on family business. An elderly fellow Texan named Steve pulls his pickup truck into the parking area and chats with me about the drought on his ranch, Middle East politics, etc. He's crusing along the country roads enjoying the morning but took a wrong turn; no problem! Next the Auto Club man arrives and opens my car. He's a Marine, driving a tow truck in between tours in Iraq, and feels embarrassed that it takes him a few minutes instead of the five seconds he initially estimated.

Then it's nap time: I sprawl across the back seat, take off shoes, prop up feet, and rest tired eyes for much of an hour. Shortly after 9am Ruth appears and we set off in the direction that C-C and I went but go a bit farther, to Riffle Ford Road. It's much warmer now, in the 60's and rising, so I suffer. I take two S! electrolyte capsules but run out of Gatorade during the return trip; Ruth gives me some of a British sports drink that she's carrying. We stop to take pictures on the way.

Ruth feels strong and pulls me along during miles 3-5 and again for much of the way back. Being in front is, however, hazardous today: I stumble during the first mile and scrape my left hand and right shin; when Ruth takes the lead she trips twice but rolls properly and fortunately suffers minimal damage. Hidden flocks of birds make loud clacking-calling noises as we pass. Ruth spies a brown frog on the path outbound and we see it again, or its twin, during our return. A yellow-brown snake slithers out of Ruth's way, startling her and vice versa.

(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), ...)

TopicRunning - TopicPersonalHistory - 2006-03-12

(correlates: HaveToLaugh, DiplomatAtArms, TidyTime, ...)