Jogging near the University of Maryland one sees litter that's a cut above the ordinary. From the shoulder of University Blvd., among discarded lottery tickets and beer bottles, I snag two juicy paperbacks: James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and D. H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover. Both are beat-up but in readable condition. Woot! Further notes on the past half dozen bouts of ^z pedestrianism:

2007-01-14 - Bethesda Circuit

11+ miles @ ~11 min/mi

"Toss me up a sand wedge!" the golfer shouts down from the hillside. He's just outside the fence that conducts the Capital Crescent Trail through the Columbia Country Club, and his ball is perched behind a stick on the mulch at the top of the slope, almost the worst lie I can imagine. At midday it's an unseasonably warm 60° but drizzling intermittently, and my left hip isn't twinging too much, so I decide to set out for a jog. I take one of my usual semi-urban loops: RCT to Cedar Lane to Old Georgetown and then home via the CCT. Along the way I pause to take a few photos of ripples and reflections in the swamp waters near Rock Creek. Just inside the Beltway I venture from Cedar onto a paved path that I've passed many times but never tried. It turns out to parallel West Parkhill Drive and then loop back to Cedar, avoiding a hill at the expense of an extra quarter mile or so. I'm wearing one of my old thin Boston baseball shirts, and when a passer-by sees me he shouts, "Go Sox!"

2007-01-18 - Suburban GPS Adventure

~9 miles @ ~12 min/mi)

I've survived my morning dental appointment with only a mild scolding ("Yes sir, I promise to floss more!"), and it's time to reward myself with a run. I go upstream from Adelphi Manor Park (milepost 4.5 on Northwest Branch Trail) treading carefully on icy patches and across shallow tributary streams to the end of the pavement near mile 7. Then I turn right onto the gravel access road, which I've never tried before. It climbs steeply for a quarter mile and ends at Oakview Drive, just inside the Beltway.

I trot east along Oakview, cross New Hampshire at the light, and continue through the spaghetti mess of apartment-complex parking lots until I get to a dead end. Guided by the rough map on my little GPS screen I cut through a back yard and continue east along Lackawanna St. to Riggs Road. Here I make a small mistake and zig where I should zag. Muskogee St. leads me into a maze of twisty mini-mansion lanes, near the fenced-off interchange and truck scales where I-95 leaves the Beltway for Baltimore. I nervously cut through another unfenced back yard (nobody seems to be home at mid-day in this universe) and navigate south to Buck Lodge Community Park, where a nice bike path takes me under the high-tension power lines and into College Park Woods.

I'm tempted to climb the fence and trespass on what may be a UM experimental farm field, but I refrain and follow the streets. Behind another dead-end I leap across a little creek to reach a UM research complex, from which a driveway takes me to the intersection of Metzerott Rd. and University Blvd. The temperature is still in the low 30's as I return to my car. Thankfully the battery, though weak, starts the engine; I keep it running as I pick up Son Robin at school, take him home, then drop the car off at the garage.

2007-01-20 - Shooting Starr 2007

5 miles @ ~11:20 min/mi)

In spite of strong breezes (15-25 mi/hr gusts) and brisk temperatures (~30°F) there's a good turnout this morning at the MCRRC "Shooting Starr" race in Hillandale. I find Ken Swab at the registration table. He snags bib #500 and suggests that he might insert a decimal point to make it read 50.0, to indicate his obsession with finishing the JFK 50 miler this year. Caren Jew is letting her calf injury heal so she's a volunteer course marshall today. Christina Caravoulias and I line up together at the start with Ken and John Sissala, whom I thank again for measuring and painting the quarter-mile marks along Rock Creek Trail many years ago. Chris and I are among the few who aren't wearing tights and jackets against the cold.

We do the first mile in 10:24 by my watch (having crossed the starting line about 10 seconds after the "gun"), rather faster than our plan, but no matter. Subsequent miles are 10:56 (during which Ken's daughter Hilary and friend Langston pass us; they arrived late for the start), 11:36 (including a water station stop), 12:06 (when we walked with Jeanne to keep her company for a while), and finally 11:19. My left quad is a bit stiff during the first half-mile but otherwise seems OK; it tightens up again after I cool down. Early in the race we pass a huge fallen tree that has taken out some electrical and telephone lines. As we approach the finish a volunteer tells us that we're almost done. "We're just warming up!" I reply. "Doesn't this race start at 9am?" He tells us that he thought so too, which is why he arrived late and got to hold the flag at the final corner.

2007-01-21 - Snow Run

5+ miles @ ~11 min/mi

In early afternoon I see that it's snowing ... time to go out for a run! I begin with noble ambitions to do a dozen or more miles, but the snow seems to be mixed with sleet or freezing rain and my face, especially the eyes, aren't comfortable. So after half a mile I decide to cut things short and do a brisk hour's jog around a neighborhood loop that I haven't tried for a long time. And No Walk Breaks! From home I take the CCT to RCT north of East-West Highway, then go upstream to the Mormon/LDS temple. I keep running — barely — up the long Stoneybrook hill, where I branch along neighborhood streets past Leafy House, the McKenney Hills Learning Center, and the old red stone Church of St. John Evangelist, back to home base. Paulette takes photos of the icicles on my beard when I arrive.

2007-02-03 - Snowy Seneca Creek Trail

12+ miles @ ~13 min/mi

After taking 12 days off to let my left quad recuperate, it's time to test the muscle. Today Ed Schultze has organized another run along the lovely Seneca Creek Greenway Trail, between Watkins Mill Road and Black Rock Mill. At 7:20am I drive cautiously along icy, hilly Black Rock Road to the finish point and get a ride to the start in the back seat of Juliet's car, next to her big, friendly black Labrador dog "Taiga". At 7:59am I set out, several minutes ahead of the main group but expecting them to catch up with me at any moment. The trail is covered with half an inch or less of snow, and temperatures are in the mid-20's. Within the first mile I see three big deer bolt down the valley at my approach. I make good time and approach the trail's intersection with Route 355 as the first runners overtake me; maybe they started later than planned? At Riffleford Road there's a cache of munchies that Ed has prepositioned. I arrive in time to greet the main group of runners as they finish eating and drinking. I swallow some salty chips and grab three small peanut-chocolate candy bars, which I consume during the next half-hour. After 157 minutes I rejoin the crowd at Black Rock Mill. (Ed estimates the distance as ~13 miles, but I doubt that I went at 12 min/mi pace considering how much walking I did; perhaps it's more like 12 miles plus a bit?)

2007-02-04 - Country Road Run 2007

5 miles @ 8:55 min/mi

Lyman Jordan must be the only person whose engine runs hotter than mine; yesterday he passed me on the Seneca Creek Trail wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Today he's bundled up only a wee bit more. As the Master of Ceremonies for the MCRRC "Country Road Run" in Olney he has to stand still and man the mike for an hour in blustery 20-degree weather — brrrrr! He dedicates today's race to Paris Caballero, the fast young MCRRC member who won it two years ago, and who sadly died last week.

The old left quadriceps muscle has been aching since 7 Jan (in spite of my continuing to run on it every weekend!) so I take a break between 21 Jan and 3 Feb, at which point it begins to feel better. After yesterday's longish trail run I'm not expecting much from today's 5 miler, and the result is surprisingly good — an overall sub-9 minute/mile pace for a new personal record at the distance. Maybe there's something to be said for rest and recovery?

Comrade Caren Jew volunteers rather than races today. Before the start she lends me a trail running magazine and a couple of related inspirational movies. I begin near the back of the pack, cross the line ~10 seconds after the "gun", and settle into a brisk trot while chatting with Don Libes and Craig Roodenburg. My splits (8:48 + 8:58 + 8:50 + 8:42 + 9:09) are far faster than anticipated, and the final uphill mile is rather tough. Caren congratulates me at the result, ~90 seconds faster than last year. Panting and sweating, I drop gloves and hat to the ground and help Lyman look up names of runners as they approach the finish line so he can announce them on the loudspeaker.

(cf. IntestinalInfortitude (13 Aug 2006), BabyGetsNewShoes (5 Sep 2006), VikingRailroad (26 Sep 2006), HatBulge (23 Oct 2006), InnerGoat (12 Nov 2006), JFK 50 Mile Run 2006 (20 Nov 2006), SharperImage (10 Dec 2006), All Good (13 Jan 2007), ...)

TopicRunning - TopicPersonalHistory - 2007-02-04

(correlates: PhallusyAndWombatism, SorryForYourLoss, OneWrongStep, ...)