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Mantra - No Self


... become invisible — take a walk through the Fourth Wall — and remember, We're all One ...

(cf. Unselfing (2009-01-14), Unselfing Again (2009-11-01), Nonattachment to I (2012-01-15), 01 (2013-11-05), 0-1 (2014-08-29), Mantra - For Us (2015-11-28), No Me (2016-01-18), Mantra - No Others (2016-06-27), No Watcher, Only Watching (2016-10-07), ...)

- Tuesday, October 25, 2016 at 05:40:38 (EDT)

2016-09-24 - Big Schloss Sweepers

~30.3 miles @ ~22.8 min/mi

Big Schloss Panorama

(click for larger image)
"It's the carrot — we're the horse!" Sirisha (Iris) Golla and I are climbing a heart-pounding super-steep trail, where contour lines on the topo map snuggle too close to resolve. Every switchback tempts us forward with a promise of the crest — and then the next corner reveals another slope.

We're official sweepers for the second half of the VHTRC Big Schloss 50k trail run [1] in the George Washington National Forest. We start behind everybody else at 7:30am, following paths around Rockcliff Lake and up toward Long Mountain. Soon the first-half sweeps, three fast young ladies, catch up with us. "Go ahead!" I tell them. "We'll find our way!" And we do, getting lost only once for a few minutes at a complex intersection. We pass a backpacker doing the loop as a three-day trek.

After enjoying 8 miles of wilderness at ~20 min/mi pace Sirisha and I reach Aid Station #1 several minutes past the official cutoff. We briefly and unsuccessfully sue for forgiveness, then acquiesce to Doug Sullivan and hitch a ride with him to AS #2. A ~4 mile hike up-course along Little Stony Creek, cheering runners along the way, gets us to the cabin atop Sugar Knob where the first-half sweep trio meets us. We now estimate that we're likely to be ~2 miles short of the full ~32 mile distance. So Sirisha makes me promise to run extra with her at the end if needed to reach her 30+ goal. OK, Ma'am!

Sirisha's ultrarunning backstory resembles mine: start with a local 5k, try a 10k, enjoy a half-marathon, punch out a few road marathons, then graduate to trail ultras. In her case, though, the progression takes less than two years! At the most recent Bull Run Run 50 miler she finishes a couple of minutes ahead of me, so our paces are quite compatible. So are our personalities, our vegetarian diets, our fascination with philosophy, and our optimistic attitudes. "It's all good!" is a mutual mantra.

As we prepare to descend from Sugar Knob super-fast Alyssa Springman surprises us by appearing from behind. She explains that she got lost driving to the start and began a few hours after everybody else. Conveniently though, she has been taking down the few remaining course-marker ribbons left by the sweeps to guide stragglers. Onward she runs!

Back at AS #2 we leave before the 1:30pm cutoff and commence plucking blue course marker ribbons from trees and harvesting red "Don't Cross!" ribbons that block wrong-way paths. The Big Schloss Cutoff Trail offers an average ~10% ascent to Great North Mountain, the border between Virginia and West Virginia. At the top we pause for selfies on Big Schloss itself [2], a sandstone peak that offers awesome vistas of Trout Run Valley and ridges where we struggled several hours ago. Then Sirisha leads us down-down-down a scree-covered slope. The song "Landslide" plays on the mental gramophone.

"Have a vegan no-bake chocolate cookie! It's got chia seeds!" Heather welcomes us to AS #3 with tasty morsels. Sirisha recognizes her as a kind Bull Run Run volunteer at the Marina earlier this year, and gives her a big hug. We meet Jim ("Rhymes with Bagel") Nagle, who started late and took multiple wrong turns, missed earlier Aid Stations, and is now quickly recuperating. He leaves ahead of us, well before the 3:45pm cutoff, and is soon out of sight on the final ~8 mile leg to the finish.


"Beware any trail with 'Mountain' in its name!" The yellow-blazed route to Tibbet Knob starts steep and gets steeper, with scrambles over jumbled boulder piles and across gnarly rock gardens. I roll my right ankle several times; Sirisha rolls her left. Hopeful vultures circle lazily overhead, anticipating a feast. "Not yet!" we tell them. After another pause for panorama pics we pass a pair of women tending their campfire and follow the trail to a dirt road. A chain saw lies on the shoulder next to a pile of fresh-cut sweet-smelling logs; nearby a pickup truck holds a cheerful couple. My phone's battery is dying, and I try without much success to recharge it. Doug Sullivan earlier suggested that pocket lint is a common cause of Intermittent Plug Syndrome, a hypothesis to test when I get home. Meanwhile, we continue to gather blue ribbons.

Tibbet Knob Panorama

(click for larger image)
Sirisha shares chikki, a square of sweet sesame-seed brittle that gives a energy boost. We discuss oneness and nonattachment, religion and reverence. In the woods again, as the sun sets a peaceful silence settles over the land. It's a holy time.

In the final miles we catch up with Jim Nagle, limping rather badly but still making relentless forward progress. "Fourteen Boston Marathons!" he tells us, when we ask about his running history. He's a triathlete, active in the Reston Runners Club, but suffering today from dehydration. "Want to hear something gross?" he asks. We're trail runners, so the answer is obvious. Jim describes major knee surgery in clinical detail. Neat!

We deliver Jim safely to his truck, sign him out with Race Director Kirstin Corris, confirm that no runners are missing, toss a mountain of course markers into the trash, and turn in a fistful of blue flags for reuse. Sweeper Mission Accomplished! Veggie burgers and pasta salad fuel my drive home. Sirisha's GPS reads safely over 30 miles; we fist-bump salute a successful day. She insists on giving me more chikki plus a package of gulab jamun, a sweet Indian dessert. Thank you!


- Monday, October 24, 2016 at 05:33:23 (EDT)

Mantra - No Panics, No Surprises, No Enemies

No Panics
  No Surprises
      No Enemies

... in times of stress, take a breath and stay calm — give early warning if events may take an unexpected turn — build long-term friendships and alliances ...

(cf. Big Lessons (2001-02-17), Ementor Emantras 2 (2012-04-10), ...)

- Friday, October 21, 2016 at 05:31:03 (EDT)

2016-09-23 - Halloween Greetings

~6.5 miles @ ~12.7 min/mi

"How much is that doggie in the window?" A portly Jack Russell terrier yips at passers-by as the sun rises. Kristin spots a rabbit munching the grass at McLean High School. Another bunny scampers along the middle of Susquehanna Drive. Crickets chirp, in the hallway near the gym as well as outside.

We meander through familiar neighborhoods, enjoying the cool first morning of autumn. Lawns glisten with dewdrops. On Kirby Road a tight peloton of eight cyclists, headlights blazing, looks like a cluster of cars from a distance. A pickup truck serving as storage-locker has its cab full and its bed overflowing with boxes, papers, pipes, and an old water heater. A pyramid of pumpkins in a front yard is labeled, "HAPPY FALL, Y'ALL!".


- Thursday, October 20, 2016 at 05:34:25 (EDT)

2016-09-19 - Warm Circuit

~3.3 miles @ ~12.2 min/mi

"It's 'Ed's Loop', not 'Ed's Loop Reversed'!" Kristin corrects me at the end of today's soggy jog. Once when we did it the temperature was 0 degrees F (see 2013-03-14 - Ed's Loop without Ed). Today is the opposite, a hyper-muggy morn as thunderstorms prepare to move through the region. Dr K is mostly recovered from yesterday's Navy-Air Force Half Marathon. We compare notes on shoes and foot injuries, welcome the drizzle that begins midway through our trek, and shiver when we reenter the now-arctic-cold air-conditioned building. Kristin spots one creature by my headlamp's glow. "A baby unicorn, disguised as a rabbit!" I text to Kerry.


- Wednesday, October 19, 2016 at 04:18:03 (EDT)

New Ideas

A thoughtful proverb, variously attributed but without detailed sourcing:

"If you want new ideas, read old books;
if you want old ideas, read new books."

Perhaps a better version, credited to G. K. Chesterton:

"You can find all the new ideas in the old books;
only there you will find them balanced, kept in
their place, and sometimes contradicted and overcome
by other and better ideas. The great writers did not
neglect a fad because they had not thought of it,
but because they had thought of it and of all
the answers to it as well."

(cf. Old News (2011-09-16), ...)

- Tuesday, October 18, 2016 at 05:38:10 (EDT)

2016-09-18 - Uphill to Home

~9.3 miles @ ~13.1 min/mi

"Have a banana, Sir!" Volunteers at the end of the Navy-Air Force Half Marathon distribute box lunches and fruit. Drs K&K join me in a cooldown walkabout for a few minutes after the race, then head for home. So do I, reversing the route taken six hours earlier. Now, however, temps are higher, traffic is heavier, crosswalk lights are slower to change, terrain is net uphill, and legs have logged 20+ miles. Much walking ensues, therefore, and the temptation to stop for a Slurpee at 7-11 is harder to resist.

But in compensation there are sidewalk vendors, cute little kids in their Sunday best, church doors wide open revealing stained glass, picnic luncheons set up on lawns, lovely marble statuary, and fellow runners sharing the sidewalk. I wave one by who notices my backpack and sweat-soaked shirt. "You look like you're going a lot farther than I am!" he says.


- Monday, October 17, 2016 at 04:09:16 (EDT)

2016-09-18 - Navy-Air Force Half Marathon with Kristin and Kerry

~13.1 miles @ ~12.9 min/mi

"That guy who asked for my number? He's already mine — really!" the lady reassures Kerry and Kristin and me, a mile after a strange man cuts across the road apparently to try to pick her up. We promise her that (1) we never judge; and (2) it's hilarious in any case!

We're at mile 10 of the Navy-Air Force Half Marathon, a mini-tour of many monuments in downtown DC on a cool but muggy morning, accompanied by ~10,000 new friends. Our pace is a bit fast during the first half, so after the sun comes out we slow down and lengthen the walk breaks. From the street I rescue an unopened energy gel and a cute "Run Now, Wine Later" sweatband. Speedy yellow-jersey US Naval Academy runners blast by, the leaders with motorcycle escort, as they race a five miler on an overlapping course. We pass and then are passed by runners in frilly pink tutus, American-flag-themed compression socks, crazy-pattern tights, and a Superman shirt.

Big GPS errors, esp. when we run under the Kennedy Center and various bridges, add half a mile or so to the true distance. "You're almost there!" countless spectators swear. "We should strangle the next one who says that!" someone suggests.

After the run I pause for a tipsy selfie in front of the Washington monument, while Drs K&K head for their cars.



- Monday, October 17, 2016 at 04:06:25 (EDT)

2016-09-18 - Down to Downtown

~9.6 miles @ ~11.9 min/mi

"Good morning, deer!" At 4:45am a big doe, eyes glowing emerald by headlamp light, munches the grass next to a speed-camera on 16th Street. A few blocks later four rabbits with orange retroreflecting eyes graze the lawn of an apartment complex. I'm running from home to the start of the Navy-Air Force Half Marathon near the Washington Monument in downtown DC.

An almost-full Harvest Moon peeks between clouds. Zinnias and moonflowers blossom by the sidewalk. Suddenly the air is full of tiny whirling specks. Night gnats? Nope, just droplets from a pre-dawn garden sprinkler.

Approaching the White House sidewalks suddenly fill with runners walking toward the starting line. Horns honk as cars stack up in search of parking spaces. On 14th Street NW near Independence Avenue who should appear but Drs Kristin and Kerry, bearing my race bib. Rendezvous accomplished!


- Monday, October 17, 2016 at 03:57:05 (EDT)

2016-09-17 - Meet Sako

~14.1 miles @ ~11.6 min/mi

"And now I've told you more than I know!" Rebecca quotes an aphorism on the slide from explanation into speculation. She and friend Sako (aka Sakurako) start trekking at sunrise along Rock Creek Trail. We chat about Mormon missionaries, marathon training, and the merits of various construction materials — wood vs steel vs stone — for centuries-old temples and railroad trestles. Orange cones and red-blue police car strobes prepare to protect runners in the Kensington 8k. Four big deer startle us as they stand in the gloomy woods close by the path.

"Ragnar! Ragnar! Ragnar!" We cheer tired-looking relay racers near mile 180 of their 206-mile course. Barry meets us at the Old Spring Rd water fountain and gives chase as we sprint to get back by Sako's 9am deadline. She's training for a January marathon and this 11+ miler at an average 11:11 min/mi pace is her longest thus far. Rebecca and I do a cooldown walk, then join Barry to bring his GPS total into double digits.


- Sunday, October 16, 2016 at 17:26:38 (EDT)

2016-09-16 - Anecdote of the Joe

~5.4 miles @ ~11.8 min/mi

"I placed a jar in Tennessee, / And round it was, upon a hill." It's a Coffee Run morning, a sunrise sprint straight for Starbucks. Once caffeinated we slow the pace and give thanks for health, family, friends. Kerry tells of her daughter's super-busy schedule, unstopped by sniffles. The looming weekend promises no rest. I recount metacognitive bumper-stickers from a recent conference: "We need to discover methods to discover new methods" ... "Our metaphors are too linear — 'momentum', 'tension', etc. — for a nonlinear emergent world" ... "It's not a collection problem, it's a cognition problem!" ... "How can we generate hypotheses we cannot imagine?" Perhaps poetry can help.


- Saturday, October 15, 2016 at 06:33:15 (EDT)

Mom's Memories

A collage of my Mother's recollections, gathered and shared over the decades:

... and above all, her love for family and friends, and her gratitude for being blessed with such a happy life!

(cf. Bird's Nest on the Ground (2009-07-19), ...)

- Friday, October 14, 2016 at 04:42:51 (EDT)

2016-09-14 - McLean Manor Exploration

~7.9 miles @ ~12.8 min/mi

"A train full of gorillas!" Outré dreams set the stage for a quiet architectural tour at sunrise that includes 1 rabbit and 1 chipmunk sighting. "Dead End" and "No Outlet" signs don't lie, as McLean Manor streets loop back without cut-through opportunities. A mannequin stands forlorn by the donations box at the thrift store; a springy Bryn Mawr Park see-saw beckons; a backyard miniature golf course demonstrates the love that some parents have for their kids. We compare notes on exuberant youthful indiscretions, mostly involving ethanol. Nathan and Cait sprint ahead to finish as Kerry, Kristin, and I begin a cool-down walk early.


- Thursday, October 13, 2016 at 05:25:16 (EDT)

2016-09-12 - Statistical Lecture

~7.0 miles @ ~12.5 min/mi

"How do you know if somebody does CrossFit? It's the first thing they tell you!" Nathan is back in town for a few days and joins the Dawn Patrol for a brisk loop on a pleasantly cool and low-humidity morning. Black-eyed susans grow in profusion along the W&OD Trail. Kristin reports on her kids' first-ever experience of snow-cones at the outdoor office fair on Saturday, where they also met Cait. Kerry spent much of the weekend power-washing, but did get to take the family pup Sid out to the Reston water park for a special "Dog Daze" end-of-summer splashabout. Nathan is feeling the stress of grad school, where it's hard to find time for exercise even though that's when one needs it most. He and Amanda do manage to get in some hiking in the mountains, and their grab-and-go bags are ready for when the Big One strikes the Pacific Northwest. I caution Cait, "Just don't let him tell you about the statistics of leaving toilet seats up or down!" Nathan overhears and continues the lecture from a year ago. (cf. 2015-08-17 - Falls Church Loop)


- Wednesday, October 12, 2016 at 04:27:37 (EDT)

2016-09-11 - Lost and Found in Prince William Forest Park

~19.8 miles @ ~15.5 min/mi

Lovely trails, loud cicadas, weird mushrooms, gnarly roots, rocky hills, beautiful brooks, and lots of wrong turns in the woods! Many thanks to Janet Choi and Lucas Moten for telling me about this opportunity, and to pawpaw-loving ultrarunner Sarah Curtis for organizing the event and for kindly providing great aid stations at the midpoint and the finish line.

Today's trek is an informal affair put on by the DC Capital Striders (DCCS) trail running "Wolfpack" group. The event begins in the company of J&L, who do the first ~5 miles and then, because of time constraints, turn back. Onward, solo, it's a chance to go off course and miss the turn from the South Valley Trail onto the Oak Ridge Trail at mile ~9. At the Oak Ridge Campground cast about, refill bottles at a water faucet, backtrack, and discover the proper route.

The "Aid Station" in the woods at mile ~11 is a big cooler filled with fruit and drinks. After a text-message to reassure RD Sarah, miles ahead, that all's well, excelsior! — only to veer off course again at mile ~12, turning the wrong way on Old Blacktop Road. But within a quarter mile the mistake is obvious, so again backtrack to find the official route.

Now it's deja vu all over again along the North Valley Trail, familiar from "Red Eye" VHTRC New Years Day races, past noisy streams and densely wooded terrain near an abandoned pyrite mine. Cross the creek on a bridge to explore a new segment there instead of the gravel road route, arrive safely back at the start/finish parking lot, visit with Sarah and rehydrate, eat hummus and chips and grapes, then head for home. What a great day!

(cf. trackfile, and 2008-01-01 - Red Eye 50k, 2011-01-01 - VHTRC RedEye, 2015-01-01 - VHTRC Red Eye 50k, 2016-01-01 - VHTRC RedEye 50k)

- Tuesday, October 11, 2016 at 05:47:18 (EDT)

Flag, Wind, Mind

Arguing about a flag, seen flapping in the breeze:

"The flag is moving."

"The wind is moving."

"No — mind is moving."

(cf. The Gateless Gate, Nimbus, Halo, Glory, Aureole (2001-11-15), 2015-05-18 - Not the Wind, Not the Flag, ...)

- Monday, October 10, 2016 at 04:39:58 (EDT)

Question Answers

  Ask New Questions
Question Old Answers

... another metacognitive suggestion by Apollo Robbins, and others ...

(cf. No Dogs or Philosophers Allowed (2003-10-13), Question Everything (2015-08-22), Hide the Magic (2016-09-25), ...)

- Sunday, October 09, 2016 at 12:44:05 (EDT)

2016-09-10 - Prufrock Loop with Amy

~10.3 miles @ ~14.0 min/mi

http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/Amy_Couch_deer_2016-09-10a.jpg"Let us go then, you and I, / When the evening is spread out against the sky / Like a patient etherized upon a table; / Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets ...", quotes Amy as we trot toward dawn. "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" I parry. Amy ripostes, and Tori Amos meets Gerard Manley Hopkins via Elizabeth Barrett Browning. We vow to read, and write, more poetry.
Orion strides high over Bethesda. By headlamp's glow we miss the Trolley Trail and find ourselves on Old Georgetown Road. Humidity is hyper-high. Moonflowers sprawl onto the sidewalk and brush our calves.

Geese take wing from Walter Reed Medical Center. Herds of crepuscular deer graze, lead fawns to drink from Rock Creek, and stand fearlessly close by Beach Drive. We give thanks for hands, for cars that pause for pedestrians, for walk breaks and sunrise. "Running helps takes the edge off — and my edge is big!".



- Saturday, October 08, 2016 at 04:51:01 (EDT)

No Watcher, Only Watching

From Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana, Chapter 16 ("What's in It for You"):

Once your mind is free from thought, it becomes clearly wakeful and at rest in an utterly simple awareness. This awareness cannot be described adequately. Words are not enough. It can only be experienced. Breath ceases to be just breath; it is no longer limited to the static and familiar concept you once held. You no longer see it as a succession of just inhalations and exhalations, an insignificant monotonous experience. Breath becomes a living, changing process, something alive and fascinating. It is no longer something that takes place in time; it is perceived as the present moment itself. Time is seen as a concept, not an experienced reality.

This is simplified, rudimentary awareness which is stripped of all extraneous detail. It is grounded in a living flow of the present, and it is marked by a pronounced sense of reality. You know absolutely that this is real, more real than anything you have ever experienced. Once you have gained this perception with absolute certainty, you have a fresh vantage point, a new criterion against which to gauge all of your experience. After this perception, you see clearly those moments when you are participating in bare phenomena alone, and those moments when you are disturbing phenomena with mental attitudes. You watch yourself twisting reality with mental comments, with stale images and personal opinions. You know what you are doing, when you are doing it. You become increasingly sensitive to the ways in which you miss the true reality, and you gravitate towards the simple objective perspective which does not add to or subtract from what is. You become a very perceptive individual. From this vantage point, all is seen with clarity. The innumerable activities of mind and body stand out in glaring detail. You mindfully observe the incessant rise and fall of breath; you watch an endless stream of bodily sensations and movements; you scan the rapid succession of thoughts and feelings, and you sense the rhythm that echoes from the steady march of time. And in the midst of all this ceaseless movement, there is no watcher, there is only watching.

In this state of perception, nothing remains the same for two consecutive moments. Everything is seen to be in constant transformation. All things are born, all things grow old and die. There are no exceptions. You awaken to the unceasing changes of your own life. You look around and see everything in flux, everything, everything, everything. It is all rising and falling, intensifying and diminishing, coming into existence and passing away. All of life, every bit of it from the infinitesimal to the Pacific Ocean, is in motion constantly. You perceive the universe as a great flowing river of experience. Your most cherished possessions are slipping away, and so is your very life. Yet this impermanence is no reason for grief. You stand there transfixed, staring at this incessant activity, and your response is wondrous joy. It's all moving, dancing and full of life.

(cf. Unselfing (2009-01-04), Bind the Monkey (2001-11-21), The Watcher (2010-11-15), Like a TV Screen (2010-12-13), Let the Mind Pass By (2010-12-28), Turning Attention Inward (2011-04-17), Watching Things (2012-02-11), ...)

- Friday, October 07, 2016 at 04:27:29 (EDT)

2016-09-09 - Beltway Bridge

~8.0 miles @ ~13.2 min/mi

"Potlicking?!" Kristin and Kerry laugh at the misreading, during a recent meeting, of the word "politicking". A little dog is singularly well-behaved as we approach but then dashes across the sidewalk and almost trips Kerry. The sun peeks over a cloud bank and glitters off the glass of a Tysons Corner skyscraper where three big flags wave. Bunny count = 1, eyes glittering in headlamp beam.

High humidity makes for guilt-free walk breaks on the hills. Cait hasn't been over the Beltway via the W&OD Trail, so Kerry suggests a route similar to one we followed almost a year ago (cf. 2015-09-21 - Lucky Loop). "We saw a double rainbow last time, and unicorns! Who knows what we'll see this morning?"


- Thursday, October 06, 2016 at 05:14:05 (EDT)

Stay Right When Wronged

Rick Hanson, Ph.D., author of Just One Thing and other thoughtful books on mindfulness, recently re-shared his beautiful essay, "Stay Right When You're Wronged". In his words, three keys to remember and strive for, when one is mistreated:

Hanson's other suggestions, briefly:

And as Hanson notes, this is:

... one of the hardest but most important things to do in relationships: stay on the high road even when you've been mistreated — which may well include being strong and even fiery, sticking up for yourself, and speaking truth to power.

Besides being the compassionate, benevolent path to take, acting in this way is usually your best odds strategy for a good outcome: not adding fuel to the fire or getting distracted by side issues, while also claiming the moral high ground.

Of course, easier said than done. ...

(see [1] or [2] for the original essay; and cf. Move On (2007-01-06), Core Buddhism (2011-10-17), Mantra - Let It Go (2014-12-27), Mantra - Safety, Health, Insight, Peace (2015-10-30), Mantra - Be Your Own Best Friend (2016-02-16), Mantra - Forgiven (2016-08-02), ...)

- Wednesday, October 05, 2016 at 04:42:08 (EDT)

2016-09-07 - Sunrise Eagle

~9.3 miles @ ~12.9 min/mi

"So I'll tape a flashlight to the front and lend you some gloves!" Cait summarizes what she told her friend Bill when he wanted to spend $400 extra for a fancy model snowblower with headlights and handwarmer-handles. In the gloom we meander by McLean High School's track and down Old Chesterbrook, where a trio of bicycles swoop by in close formation. Dawn's early glow catches a giant bronze eagle perched atop the globe on a Birch Road mini-mansion.

Navigator Kristin spies three bunnies in front yards on Tucker Avenue. It's muggy but not as hot as in weeks past, and since first meetings aren't until 9am we extend the route past the Metro station where bleary-eyed commuters are shambling in to catch a train. Trail talk includes tales of roving eyes, classical pianist Yuja Wang, and holiday party humor.


- Tuesday, October 04, 2016 at 05:19:54 (EDT)

2016-09-05 - Lake Fairfax Hike with Mary

~5.6 miles @ ~23.9 min/mi

"Where's that echo coming from?" Dr Mary asks, as Runkeeper's GPS voice reverberates. Our walkabout is passing near Lake Fairfax Park's soccer fields, and what we hear are offset time-and-distance announcements from my phone and then hers. Half an hour ago we hit the "Start" buttons slightly out of sync. Oops!

A cool morning makes for pleasant hiking along shaded horse trails. Polite mountain bikers swoop past and splash through Colvin Run and its tributary creeks. Mary reminisces about long-ago Fairfax County Trail adventures here; I recollect a painful introduction to snowshoeing under her supervision (on 12 Feb 2010; see Snowshoe Shin Bruise). Conversation is splendid and wide-ranging.

Missed turns on the return trip add a bonus mile and offer opportunities to bushwhack, clamber over deadfalls, tiptoe across shallow streams, scout for trails past an apartment complex, and descend steep rooty-rocky slopes. And It's All Good!


- Tuesday, October 04, 2016 at 05:16:18 (EDT)

Mantra - Be Earth

Be Earth ...

      ... Breathe

... an anagram-coincidence of English letter-rearrangement — and thoughtful advice, like the images of Jon Kabat-Zinn's "Mountain Meditation" in his book Wherever You Go, There You Are.

Be the earth — and just breathe ...

(cf. Be Earth (2010-12-07), Being with Your Breath (2010-02-20), ...)

- Monday, October 03, 2016 at 04:45:34 (EDT)

2016-09-04 - Eleven Mormon Temple Hill Climbs

~14.8 miles @ ~11.5 min/mi

"... and this is nothing compared to what my friends Stephanie, Gaynor, Mike, and Addie did last night at The Ring!" say I to myself on the Mormon Temple hill along Stoneybrook Drive. The mantra works for the first 9 repeats (~6 minutes up, ~5 minutes down for the half-mile ~5% grade) but then the wheels suddenly fall off — or maybe it's dehydration and low blood sugar? Can't have anything to do with starting at noon, skipping breakfast, jogging ~19 miles yesterday, or being a few years older than last time trying this insanity, eh?! (cf. 2013-12-21 - Ten Mormon Temple Hill Climbs)

Today is partial atonement for yesterday's onion rings, french fries, and veggie burger. Temperature and humidity are moderate, for a DC summer, and an intermittent breeze helps. Cheerful families greet me as they go to LDS church services; one fellow who witnessed my first ascent does a double-take when I run by again on his way out more than an hour later. After the 10th climb's struggle, circle back through Rock Creek Hills to refill water bottle at the Old Spring Rd fountain. An 11th uphill shamble isn't pretty, but the trek home offers a chance to explore new trails through the woods of Forest Glen.


- Sunday, October 02, 2016 at 06:25:32 (EDT)

2016-09-03 - Capital Crescent with Cait and Company

~19.4 miles @ ~11.7 min/mi

"Some things cannot be unseen!" says Ken. We're trying to intrigue Cait into running ultramarathons, via lurid tales of chafing, injuries, bad behavior in the woods, etc. But given her experience working with the Navy and Coast Guard, not to mention her four younger brothers, Cait laughs at all attempts to gross her out. Maybe the Goddess of Bawdy Banter, aka Sara, could do better!?

Hours earlier, shortly after setting out from home, discover that mojo is missing — or rather, that a Clif Mojo Bar has fallen unseen out of the pack. Oops! Backtrack a few blocks and pick it up from the street. Four miles later, in downtown Bethesda, meet Caitlin and wait ten minutes with her as the rest of the gang materialize. Don, Emaad, and Rebecca set a brisk pace; we average 10-11 min/mi, with a turnaround pause at Fletchers Boathouse.

On the way back Ken puts on a burst of speed and is soon out of sight. "Let's try to catch him!" Cait and I accelerate and run him down with a mile to go. Age adjusted, though, he's still far ahead ...


- Saturday, October 01, 2016 at 04:13:43 (EDT)

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