Monthly Archives: September 2006

Slight diversion

Start time: 09/28/06, 7:00am
Location: Arlington Boulevard Trail and Rosslyn
Distance: 3.16 miles
Average pace: 8:52min/mile

I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to get any runs in this week, but I squeezed in one this morning before having to dash off to an appointment that meant leaving my home by 8am. Originally I was going to just stick to the Arlington Boulevard Trail, but going back and forth gets boring… and there were also a lot of construction vehicles that I had to dodge. So avoiding the first bit was paramount. Instead I kept running when I hit my normal turn-around spot, heading into Rosslyn. Turns out there really isn’t too much in Rosslyn in terms of places to run (unless you count heading over Key Bridge into DC, or down onto the Mount Vernon Trail) so I did a large loop through the River Place parking lot after I ran out of sidewalk, then headed back with a big loop at the end to avoid the construction. And I made it to my appointment on time, too!

(I had a *slight* cramp… almost just a twinge in my left calf. Which was probably not the same problem I had before but I’m marking it just to be sure. And to be fair I hadn’t been stretching all week. Bad Greg. Time to do so right now in fact.)

Saturday should be amusing. I’m working the AIDS Marathon 26-mile training run and I think I’m going to run some of the groups up the Hill of Doom (since I’m stationed right at the top of it and was told that it’s good to run with them for a tiny bit). The base of the hill to the crest on the side they tackle on the way out is exactly a third of a mile; the side they go up on the return is a quarter mile. I wonder if I can get all of Sunday’s 9-miler in this way? (Yeah, not quite the same thing, but I’ll take it.) And then, on Sunday… hopefully… new running shoes!

If you can run 18 miles…

Start time: 09/24/06, 7:00am
Location: Downtown Washington DC
Distance: 18 miles
Run:Walk ratio: 5:1
Average pace: 10:29min/mile

Today was the 18-miler, which is the biggie. Not because it’s the farthest distance that we’ll run this season (my mileage will go up to 23 miles) but because 18 miles is the mythical number where if you can cover that distance, you can theoretically run a marathon. We actually started out with a bizarrely large group of seven people, but two were visitors who were only running 4.5 miles with us before turning around, and Emma was only clocking 10 miles. The journey out to the turn-around went well, though, hitting the first 9 miles in 1:33:53 (a 10:26min/mile pace). Since we were supposed to run a reduced pace of 10:30, this was pretty darn good. On the way back, soon after dropping off Emma, Chris M decided that once we cleared the Capital Crescent Trail he was going to slow down and let the next group catch him so that his foot wasn’t bothering him.

From that point on it was just me, Stephanie, and Bill (who normally runs on Saturdays) and we clocked those last 5.5 miles quite well; our finishing time for the back nine was just a 1:34:45, less than a minute longer. Score. It was a good, strong finish (and as an added bonus I got to shout a hello to Coach Christa who was helping with the Miami training program today). But best of all?

I felt great, like I could’ve kept that pace up for another 8.2 miles, no problem. Heck, if I had that would’ve been a 4:35 finishing pace, which is already an improvement over last year. Fingers crossed, and barring disaster, this could be one great marathon. We’ll see!

One last Thursday hurrah

Start time: 09/21/06, 7:00pm
Location: Old Town Alexandria and the Mount Vernon Trail
Distance: 5.1 miles
Average pace: 8:36min/mile

Tonight was the last run on the Pacers Alexandria course we’ve been running on Thursdays—with it getting dark earlier it’s dangerous to use the trail much later. So it was a fond, but fast, farewell to the course. I’ll miss next Thursday’s run (book club!) but I guess on October 5th I’ll see what the new course is like. Here’s hoping for flat, flat, flat!

Short belated run

Start time: 09/20/06, 8:00am
Location: Arlington Boulevard Trail
Distance: 2.5 miles
Average pace: 8:31min/mile

The original plan was to go running with Pacers yesterday, but I wasn’t feeling up for the run (or really anything) by the time I got home from work yesterday. When I found myself falling asleep in my easy chair while waiting for “Boston Legal” to start I decided this was a hint to just go to bed and run in the morning. It was a short—really short—dash around the neighborhood because I didn’t get the early start I was hoping for, but it’s better than not running at all in my book.

Familiar territory

Start time: 09/17/06, 12:45pm
Location: W&OD Trail, markers 3.5 to 7.5 (and back)
Distance: 8 miles
Run:Walk ratio: 6:1
Average pace: 9:44min/mile

I knew I was missing this morning’s group run (if the word “group” really applies!) because on Saturday I had a 6:15am start-time for our MCM runners, followed by a 1pm birthday lunch for a friend and then a 5pm birthday evening celebration for another friend. Since the last one would no doubt run late (and there would be lots of food and alcohol between the two different events), waking up for a 7am run just wasn’t happening. So I promised myself that I’d get out there in the afternoon and make up the 8-miler.

Well, I’m glad I finished the run; I was definitely dragging a tiny bit here and there. Ultimately it was just me and the iPod shuffle hoofing it up and down the W&OD Trail (which I decided to run for old time’s sake). Kind of a quiet run, really. A little warm in places—I do wish I’d been able to get out there a little earlier, but ah well! I should be glad I got there at all, really. And as an added bonus, I was wearing new sporty-looking shorts that grok had passed on to me. Yay!

It happens every year…

Start time: 09/12/06, 7:00pm
Location: Clarendon and the Custis Trail
Distance: 4.25 miles
Average pace: 9:29min/mile

…that run where I inadvertantly step off of the trail and shout an obscenity. Today was at least just a stumble (and twisting of the ankle) and not an outright fall, thank goodness. But still cringe-worthy because it seems to happen at least once a year. Oh well, fortunately nothing was broken and it’s just a little sore, not too bad. (And definitely not that bad considering that I still had over 2 miles to go.) I really need to stop doing this, though. Must remember to stick to the left on the trail!


Start time: 09/10/06, 7:00am
Location: Downtown Washington DC
Distance: 16 miles
Run:Walk ratio: 5:1
Average pace: 10:00min/mile

Today was our 16-miler, which means that starting at this point our “long runs” are slowed down to help prevent injury. For the 16- and 18-milers, this means that I’m supposed to run them at a 10:30 instead of a 9:30min/mile. Well… um… oops! We were just zipping along, and it was around mile 10 that I looked down at my GPS and said, “Um… Sorry about that.” (That one was a 9:17.) We had a really good set of splits though. (12:16, 9:28, 10:20, 10:35, 9:53, 10:18, 9:23, 9:51, 9:47, 9:17, 10:18, 10:38, 10:29, 10:17, 9:53, and… um… 9:01.) Ok, I can explain that last one. Chris had decided to run a little less so he cut across the mall to head directly back. As we were heading back the full route ourselves, we saw Chris about a quarter mile ahead of us. We were definitely gaining on him, but he was still about a tenth of a mile ahead of us when he crossed M Street and so… um… I decided to try and catch him. Ok, I know! Very stupid! Bad Greg! (And I didn’t even catch him. That’ll learn me.) I’m not supposed to do that sort of behavior.

Oh, the “Ow” of the subject line? Well… er… guess what I discovered on the front of my shirt 2.5 miles from the end of the course?

Ack! I put on Bodyglide and everything. (Chris took a picture of me with my cell phone camera but I was in a slight daze and didn’t realize I had to hit “save” on the picture of me with my bloody-nipple-stained shirt. Oh well.) Guess from now on, 16 miles is not only the time when the slowdown hits but when I need to switch from Bodyglide to NipGuards.

The “Look”

Start time: 09/07/06, 7:00pm
Location: Old Town Alexandria and the Mount Vernon Trail
Distance: 5.1 miles
Average pace: 8:34min/mile

First, the running stuff. I skipped Tuesday’s run (tummy troubles), so I was eager to get back out on the trail today. We took our first mile a little fast at 8:18 (sorry guys!), so after that I moved to the back of the group and even after slowing down a bit in mile 2 to try and keep everyone from keeling over, we still knocked out the rest at a pretty fast pace (8:58, 8:38, 8:42, 8:31). Phew. (But kicking butt!)

While we were out running, one of the other regulars (whom we’ll call TM) was out in front of us. He’s a (former, I think) marine who usually runs in front of us a little bit, and we often catch him at which point he’ll sprint ahead a bit more. Runs by himself, with headphones on… I’m not entirely sure why he shows up to group runs. Anyway, we caught him with about a mile to go this evening and he couldn’t go any faster so he ran with us for a little bit. Darrell was singing silly songs so TM offered up some cadence. Darrell instantly began to warp the responses (which was pretty funny), and TM seemed a little frustrated but struggled on. TM’s cadence had to do with beating up Superman and marrying Lois Lane, and then all of the sudden this charmer of a couplet came out: “Nine months later we had a baby / He was a fag so he joined the Navy.”

An instant silence fell over the group (we were stopped waiting for a street light to change) and I must have given him a look. Before I could say anything else, the light switched, and the group ran on and left TM behind. Afterwards, we were at the running store getting water and I was about to walk back outside when he came in and walked over to me. “I hope you’re not Navy,” he said, “I didn’t mean to offend anyone.”

“Oh no,” I replied, looking down at him*. “But I’ve slept with enough military men that I understand.” He gave a sort of chuckle and I kept walking outside. I’m not sure if it sunk in or not (and I could’ve been more direct but I was tired and sweaty and am happy I at least fired that one off at him—a blatant lie, I might add, but he doesn’t need to know that) but I’m sure sooner or later it will.

We’ll see if he tries to run with us again!

* — I say looking down at him because TM is easily under five feet tall. An unnecessary detail but I can be snappish when I want to.

Back in the saddle

Start time: 09/03/06, 7:00am
Location: Downtown Washington DC
Distance: 7 miles
Run:Walk ratio: 6:1
Average pace: 9:20min/mile

Well, after Tuesday’s “maybe I’ll skip this weekend’s recovery run” comment, did I? Well, obviously, no. It was just me again (booo) but it also wasn’t raining (yay!) like the Saturday runners got. I headed out by myself at a nice clip, though; after the first warm-up mile we’re talking about miles 2-4 being 9:08, 9:07, and 9:09. Part of the return trip was a little slower when I picked up Coach Karen at two different spots; we ran together for part of mile 5 (9:56) before she took care of another runner, then she cut across the mall and we did part of mile 7 together as well. (Meanwhile, mile 6? 9:11. It seems that I am very consistent once more.)

It was interesting contrasting the streets in Southwest DC versus up by the monuments and museums. There, you could tell that there had been the remnants of a tropical storm coming through; lots of branches and leaves carpeting the sidewalks as far as the eye could see. The water in the Washington Channel was just as high as the humidity, but the temperature was still low (mid-60s!) and it was a nice way to center and focus once more after last week’s not so great 14-miler.