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Howdy, pilgrim! No ads — you're in the ^zhurnal (that's Russian for "journal") — see ZhurnalyWiki for a Wiki edition of individual items; see Zhurnal and Zhurnaly for quick clues as to what this is all about; see Random for a random page. Briefly, this is the diary of ^z = Mark Zimmermann ... previous volume = 0.9920 ... complete list at bottom of page ... send comments & suggestions to "z (at) his (dot) com" ... click on a title link to go to that item in the ZhurnalyWiki where you can edit or comment on it ... RSS



2016-04-09 - Bull Run Run 50 Miler

~48 miles @ ~16 min/mi

Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
Till you have drench'd our steeples, drown'd the cocks!
You sulphurous and thought-executing fires,
Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder,
Smite flat the thick rotundity o' the world!

      King Lear, Act III, Scene ii

http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/BRR_2016_mile_02_halke_pothole_z.jpgSleet, hail, snow, thunder, mud, and wild winds: it's an ultra-beautiful day for a ramble in the woods!

And bottom line: for the ninth time, I finish the Virginia Happy Trails Running Club's Bull Run Run — 12 hours 55 minutes — slowest ever, ahead of the ultimate cutoff by only 5 minutes. Whew!

Along the way there are slips and falls but thankfully no game-enders. Early in the event, walking in reverse to chat with new trail friend Donald Halke II, my foot drops into a mud pit. Gayatri Datta scolds, "Mark, please look forward, not back!"



(pothole photo by Donald Halke, mile ~2 of the Bull Run Run course)

The day starts before 5am at Gayatri's house. Kind comrade Ken Swab picks us up to carpool to Hemlock Overlook Regional Park where the BRR begins, ends, and returns at mile ~16 en route. Cold rain patters, then pauses. We snag our starter's swag, which this year includes an awesome camp chair and cool commemorative socks. Then it's time to take our traditional position at the derrière of the pack. At 0630 we commence running as dawn brightens behind thick clouds.

Gayatri and I stick together, and Donald Halke introduces himself to us. As so often happens during ultramarathons soon we're fast friends. He tells of his work, family, health, plans, and past running experiences. The back of his shirt today reads:
        1 - heart attack
        2 - stents
        4 - by-passes
        1 - pacemaker
    so why are you behind me?

Gayatri and I pause for Donald to take pictures of us. We admire the bluebell flowers that carpet the valley, and average a comfortable 16-17 min/mi pace. At mile ~4 when the hills steepen I trot ahead to reconnoiter.

http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/BRR_2016_mile_03_Halke_Gayatri_z.jpg
Bull Run Run 2016 near mile 9 - photo by Kevin Sayers"Hail, Chief!" As icy pellets sprinkle the earth like white peppercorns I punnishly salute fast runners coming back from the northern turnaround of the BRR course. A rumble of thunder is followed by light snow. Then rain resumes.

Approaching the Mile ~7 (Centreville) Aid Station, I hold out my bottle. "Please, sir, I want some more!" After inhaling cookies and a couple of salt capsules it's time to dash away, dash away, dash away all.



(photo by Kevin Sayers; streaks falling in the foreground are sleet and snowflakes))

Extreme weather this year plus recent injuries makes many runners go slower than planned. Ultra hero Tom Green is picking his way gingerly over rocks and roots. This is his 24th Bull Run Run; wisely he withdraws and ends his streak, rather than risk a bad fall.

At mile ~12 I catch up with Dr Stephanie Fonda, still suffering from damage incurred two months ago when she raced a 100 miler in Texas (see 2016-02-07 - Rocky Raccoon 100 Sweeper). To cheer her and encourage her to continue I cajole, tease, joke, quote naughty bits from Shakespeare, and remind her of past runs of legend that we've completed together. When even bawdy bardish banter fails, I attempt a guilt-trip: "If you abandon me and I'm alone in the woods, when I fall down and the bears are chewing on my toes I'll whisper, 'If only Stephanie had stayed with me...' — and you'll feel so guilty!" She meta-ripostes, "But you will feel even more guilty about the guilt I will feel when I make you miss the cutoffs by being too slow!" OK, you win, Stephanie.

At mile ~15 we pause at the Cara Golias Graffiti Memorial under the railroad bridge for a dual-selfie. Then away I trek, climbing the steep slope back to Hemlock Overlook as briskly as possible.

Bull Run Run 2016 near mile 15 graffiti under the railroad bridge - with Stephanie Fonda
Bull Run Run 2016 near mile"Wait — you mean there's another 32 miles to go??" I feign disbelief when Robert Fabia takes my picture at Hemlock Overlook.

Ken Swab arrives about 20 minutes ahead of me, half an hour behind his usual time at this point. He texts to check on my status; I reply hyper-optimistically (as always!). But, Ken writes in his BRR race report, maybe his heart just isn't in it today. Cold wet feet, slippery mud, and the prospect of even worse conditions in the mountainous southern 30+ miles of the trail conspire and persuade him to punch out.

I dash onward in hopes of making the next cutoff. It's now mile ~17, roughly 11am. In my haste to move out I forget to pick up the battery pack from my drop bag, needed to recharge my phone/GPS. Half a mile down trail I discover the error, and ponder going back. "No!" is the right answer.

Pushing the pace cautiously, keeping energy in reserve, running the downhills with care to avoid a stumble — everything feels incredibly good, in spite of a couple of slip-slides in the mud. "It will turn out OK", as a good friend taught me long ago. All will be well.

At the Wolf Run Shoals aid station I snag a strand of Mardi Gras beads to wear around my neck. The weather keeps improving, and trail conditions are better than expected.

Fountainhead is the first BRR cutoff, mile ~28, at 1:45pm. Zoom in on the watch in this picture: it reads 1:41:57 — more than 3 minutes to spare. Yay! Refuel, pop two more salt capsules, and get outta there!



(photo by Hai Nguyen)

Bull Run Run 2016 near mile
Bull Run Run 2016 near mileOnward, around the White Loop horse trail, then south and east. No time to pause for selfies now. Always-cheerful Adeline Ntam, miles ahead of me when we meet, gets gifted my bead necklace. You go, girl!

Next cutoff at ~32 miles: ~4 minutes to spare. At the Do Loop aid station James Moore swears it's under 2.5 miles to Fountainhead. "Thank you, Sir!" I give him a big hug. "There's a chance!"

Winds gust to 30+ mi/hr. Leaves swirl and trees sway, creak, and groan as they threaten to fall and make new widows or widowers. None does.



(photo by Hai Nguyen)

At Fountainhead, mile ~38, the clock says I'm ~6 minutes to the good. Don't blow it now!

True Confession: at mile ~24 an impolite and overconfident thought surfaces: "This trail is my B17cH!" On the way back, after mile ~40, comes the realization: "I'm this trail's B17cH!" And there's no time to waste pondering that duality — the ultimate 13 hour cutoff still looms. Terrain in the final miles is rocky and steep. The GPS/phone battery dies.

And then, the finish line.

It turns out OK.



(photo by Hai Nguyen)

Bull Run Run 2016 near mile

Result: 256th place of 258 finishers. Two women are behind me so I claim DFL male honors. Frank Probst, age 72, is just ahead and completes his 24th BRR — that's every single one.

Past times and race report links:

12:25:062007
12:50:182008
11:39:502009
11:22:062010
11:55:252011
12:28:382013
12:24:452014
12:07:052015
12:54:272016

Next year? Who knows!

(trackfile)

- Monday, May 02, 2016 at 20:28:52 (EDT)


Mantra - It Will Be OK

  It Will
Turn Out
    Ok

... the faith that, ultimately and in the end, everything really will be all right — as it always has been, and as it always will be — and that, as a dear friend once pointed out, my stories always end with, "... and it turned out OK" — because it did!

(cf Karma (2009-07-15), Equanimity (2012-02-01), Mindfulness for Beginners (2013-07-18), Equanimity and Magnanimity (2015-02-19), This Is Equanimity (2015-03-15), Vastness, Equanimity, Selflessness (2015-06-04), Perfect Size for Letting Go (2015-09-14), ...)

- Sunday, May 01, 2016 at 00:08:01 (EDT)


2016-04-08 - Maze of Twisty Little Passages

~6.7 miles @ ~11.5 min/mi

"And it just keeps getting better!" Kerry and I pause to admire the glorious dawn. Rich indigo clouds frame flamingo-pink gaps. Then the phone chirps. It's Amber, sharing even more awesome photos of sunrise over the Potomac. "Kerry says 'Wow!'" I text back.

Then sudden and total disorientation, as subtly curving Ridge Road utterly confuses my sense of direction. I react in disbelief when Kerry points out the walkway into the woods, opposite to where it "should" be. Conversation meanders from puissance (high jump competition for horses) through category theory (duality and isomorphism) to social justice, corporate architecture, and how tragic it is when people become chronically bitter and negative. "If only a gentle nudge could help them return to balance!"

We give thanks for sharing a planet with Shakespeare and J. S. Bach. At St Luke's School we walk the Stations of the Cross pathway. Finishing, I'm tempted to add mileage but Kerry wisely counsels, "Save some for tomorrow!" Thank you, Dr K!

(trackfile)

- Friday, April 29, 2016 at 05:53:26 (EDT)


2016-04-06 - Evans Farm Survey

~6.7 miles @ ~12.6 min/mi

"... a long list of the names of her pets, with 'DECEASED' after each one!" Kerry describes how her daughter is filling out forms to adopt a new dog. We concur that perhaps some editing, or at least contextual background, could be helpful in the application process.

Frost whitens the grass. We loop through the Evans Farm community (verdict: great architectural variety, but too few weather vanes) and then attack Pimmit Hills. Beth reports on Friday evening's 5k race in Crystal City. Kristin's new shoes and velcro band haven't yet cured a twingy knee. Contrails radiate from the rising sun.

(trackfile)

- Thursday, April 28, 2016 at 05:22:21 (EDT)


Traveller's Rest

More than 14 years ago in "Half-Remembered Worlds" (2002-02-18) I described two science-fiction stories stuck deep in my head that I couldn't properly identify. A few days ago, on the Stack Exchange sf Q&A board, I asked again — and one of the tales was immediately identified! In fact, somebody else had asked about it in 2011. The description:

... a surreal planet where, as one moves toward the poles, time flows faster, words get shorter, language becomes crisper — and at the northernmost zones a war rages forever, apparently in a mirror-reflection across a singularity ...

... and the answer: "Traveller's Rest", by David Masson, published in 1965 and anthologized the following year in a couple of collections. The full text of the story is online. It's still fascinating to read, though more amateurish than it seemed at the time. Rich Horton writes about the author in an online essay. Thank you!

- Wednesday, April 27, 2016 at 04:18:31 (EDT)


2016-04-04 - Too Much Fun

~6.3 miles @ ~12.2 min/mi

"Let's run into the sunrise!" Kristin suggests, as the Dawn Patrol trots along Leesburg Pike toward a thin crescent moon low above the coral-peach horizon. So we abandon prior plans and continue eastward. And it just keeps getting better! We catch up on news (Kerry is back from visiting friends) and share the peaceful morning. In a back yard on Haycock Rd a black-and-white dog stands on hind legs and leaps to play with a dangling toy. Kids awaiting the school bus step aside for us to pass. A woman emerging from her apartment catches us laughing and smiles. "You're all having too much fun!" she says.

(trackfile)

- Tuesday, April 26, 2016 at 04:12:56 (EDT)


Category Theory Concepts

Learning a bit of mathematical Category Theory is by turns fun and frustrating — ideas transition from obvious to incomprehensible within a few pages. But a small clan of key principles, perhaps with wide application, already seems to be emerging from the fog. For now, with the acronym TRIBE:

(cf Greatest Inventions (2011-06-09), Simplicity via Abstraction (2016-01-07), Cakes, Custard, and Category Theory (2016-02-14), ...)

- Monday, April 25, 2016 at 04:20:07 (EDT)


2016-04-03 - Run for Gary

~10.0 miles @ ~10.2 min/mi

"Superman wears Gary Knipling pajamas!" That's just one of the comments and stories shared online in an outpouring of love from fans of Gary, local ultrarunner who suffered a major stroke a few days ago and who is already home, recovering speedily. Gary's boundless enthusiasm and legendary kindness echo and help all of us be better. Thank you, Gary Knipling!

Today's temps are in the 40s, and north winds gusting 30+ mi/hr have blown most of the cherry blossoms off the trees in Wheaton Regional Park. A huge goose hunkers down, then waddles away to avoid being photographed. Pace-pushing (and luck at major road crossings) produces splits of 8:19 + 8:56 + 8:50 for the final miles. An attempt to stop the GPS at 9.99 slightly misses the mark.

(trackfile)

- Sunday, April 24, 2016 at 09:11:30 (EDT)


2016-04-02 - Jefferson Memorial with Amber

~9.0 miles @ ~9.7 min/mi

"Was that Meb Keflezighi?" I ask Dr Amber as we run across the 14th St Bridge into DC. Heading the opposite way are three fast runners, one of whom looks rather like the elite American Olympian, in town for tomorrow's Cherry Blossom 10 mile race. When we see the trio again a few miles later, cooldown-stretching at Graveley Point, Amber urges me to work up my courage and ask. They deny it, but I cling to the fantasy. "Maybe he's traveling incognito!"

Raindrops wet our faces when we set out, zig along Four Mile Run, then zag to join the Mount Vernon Trail. We pause mid-course for selfies under the dome of the Jefferson Memorial. (Tom photo-bombs us). Amber goes slower than her usual pace, for which I thank her every mile. Tulips blossom at National Airport, so bright an alizarin-crimson that they look artificial. Post-trek the Alexandria farmers' market provides yoghurt, scones, and cookies.

http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/Jefferson_Memorial_Amber_z_2016-04-02.jpg

(trackfile)

- Saturday, April 23, 2016 at 17:03:36 (EDT)


2016-04-01 - McLean Morning

~5.2 miles @ ~12.2 min/mi

"They can be the 'Dawn Patrol Irregulars'!" I suggest, alluding to junior affiliates of Sherlock Holmes, as Kristin and I ramble the roads of Southridge and encounter multiple other folks out on pre-sunrise spring jogs. Warm and humid weather is a gentle introduction to sultry summer conditions soon to come. We admire giant sunroom windows ("... and the neighbors must get quite a view too!"). Blossoms cascade down from the trees and speckle the streets.

(trackfile)

- Friday, April 22, 2016 at 04:15:08 (EDT)


Seeking Negative Space

Chris Messina writes beautifully (if at times incoherently) in the essay "Seeking Genius in Negative Space" about looking at and thinking about negative space — the complement-inverse-dual that defines and surrounds every object. It's a concept in art and Zen (and everywhere else!). As Messina meanders through both he quotes John Keats, via the Brain Pickings short piece "The Art of 'Negative Capability': Keats on Embracing Uncertainty and Celebrating the Mysterious"). From a letter dated 1817-12-22:

... what quality went to form a Man of Achievement, especially in Literature, and which Shakspeare possessed so enormously—I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason ...

Messina's musings conclude with nine notions:

  1. Be deeply curious about the world around you.
  2. Become aware of your thoughts and learn to think about thinking. Practicing metacognition will help develop a sense for the tricks your mind plays, and how to overcome them.
  3. With this awareness, learn to overcome automatic processing. When confronted with something new or unfamiliar, withhold judgment; if you see something you don't understand in the negative space, go with it and see where it leads. Remember that impossible geometry exists, and your mind is constantly trying to force you to see things that you already know how to see. It's learning to see the unseen that makes this practice valuable!
  4. Be aware of the limitations of the labels that have been applied to the world. Keep in mind how small the grid of words is compared to the wordless plane. Opportunity exists where words don't exist, yet.
  5. Learn to sit with Keats in uncertainties, mysteries, and doubts without grasping for conventional explanations. Allow time to visit the fantastic and the unconventional, and become aware of the moments when you're avoiding staying in these contexts. Meditation can be essential here.
  6. Once you've discovered something in the negative space, use narrative to bridge the well-known with the unfamiliar. This is critical to helping others see the opportunities that you see.
  7. Be persistent, and be contrarian. Learning to see the unseen is a personal skill, and getting others to share your vision is a longer term project. You must be willing to hold on to your vision, even when others struggle or refuse to see it.
  8. That said, be polite and patient. Time is relative; if you can convince people to see the world as you do, then anything is possible. It just may not happen immediately.
  9. Don't let fear or insecurity drag you down. People avoid the negative space for a reason.

... nice thoughts on mindfulness and meta!

(cf GreatIdeas (1999-05-03), No Concepts At All (2001-02-22), DalaiLamaBirthdayGift (2004-08-24), Kenosis (2008-09-21), Poetry 180 (2009-09-30), Zen Soup (2012-02-09), O (2012-10-24), Notice and Return (2013-03-11), Space Between (2013-10-13), Countdown Breathing (2013-12-18), Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain (2014-01-18), Swiss Cheese (2014-07-04), Learning to Pause (2015-08-10), 0-1 (2014-08-29), ...)

- Thursday, April 21, 2016 at 05:46:09 (EDT)


2016-03-30 - Metaquotation

~3.6 miles @ ~12.1 min/mi

"Good luck finding something safe to quote from this morning's conversation!" Dr Beth says. We're in the final quarter-mile of a trek rich in "frank and open" dialogue, to use a term from diplomacy-speak.

"Hmmmmm ... maybe I'll quote that statement!" replies Mr Meta. Frost decorates windshields of parked cars. A scrawny rabbit scampers away as we prepare to set out, eastern sky beginning to glow orange. Ice cubes are strewn across the sidewalk as a food service truck cleans out yesterday's bins in preparation for a fresh start.

(trackfile)

- Wednesday, April 20, 2016 at 04:10:27 (EDT)


Marathons and Ultramarathons

The "Marathon Maniacs" are a fun group of long run fanatics that Barry Smith told me about recently. In order to apply for membership one must gather data on completed races of 26.2 miles or more — an effort that took me quite a while and perhaps should be preserved as a cross-index to some of the logbook-reports here. The current version, subject to correction:

date race time comments
2016-04-09Bull Run Run 50M 12:55BRR #9: sleet, hail, snow, thunder, mud, wind!
2016-01-01VHTRC Red Eye 50k7:43"Superforecasters tend to be good Bayesians!" - with Don, solo final third ...
2015-11-14Stone Mill 50M13:40"Cheese burn — Ow!" - 45 minute early start, walk last ~20 miles of SM #4 ...
2015-11-08Potomac Heritage 50k10:07PH #5, with Dr Kerry first third, Amy middle third, solo finish ...
2015-10-25Marine Corps Marathon6:21"This day is call'd the feast of Crispian!" — MCM #5, first marathon for Drs Kerry & Kristin ...
2015-04-11Bull Run Run 50M12:08BRR #8, recovery run after Umstead DNF a fortnight ago ...
2015-03-28Umstead 50M11:58blisters on the way to 76 miles of the 100 — kudos to dear Dr Mary! ...
2015-01-01VHTRC Red Eye 50k7:44selfies in the woods ...
2014-11-15Stone Mill 50M12:593am solo start for SM #3, finish in time for evening concert ...
2014-11-02Potomac Heritage 50k9:54PH #4 ramble with Gayatri and new friends ...
2014-07-26Catoctin 50k9:11"Breathe in, breathe out ..." ("Machinehead") — cutoff-chasing, 4 minutes to spare ...
2014-04-12Bull Run Run 50M12:25BRR #8, "Mark! Whenever I see you, I know I'm having a bad day!" - Tom Green
2014-03-22HAT Run 50k7:38HAT #6, return to the scene of my first ultramarathon ...
2014-03-08Seneca Creek Greenway Trail Marathon8:33SCGT #9 — ice, mud, muck, and mire ...
2013-11-16Stone Mill 50M11:40SM #2 happy trek chasing Marshall & Stephanie
2013-10-27Fire on the Mountain 50k8:14beautiful western Maryland woods with Stephanie
2013-07-27Catoctin 50k8:35CAT #3, close-up of a Timber Rattlesnake! ...
2013-04-13Bull Run Run 50M12:29BRR #6, comfy ramble with Stephanie ...
2013-03-16B&A Marathon3:55BQ!
2013-03-02Seneca Creek Greenway Trail 50k8:58SCGT #8, DFL with Stephanie ...
2013-02-17George Washington Birthday Marathon4:143rd place 60-69 males — cold and windy GWBM #8 ...
2012-11-17Stone Mill 50M13:30SM #1, Stephanie's first ultra ...
2012-10-28Marine Corps Marathon5:29MCM #4, with injured Stephanie
2012-03-04B&A Marathon3:59join the sub-4 club! ...
2012-02-19George Washington Birthday Marathon4:21CM goes sub-4-hours, GWBM #7 ...
2011-07-30Catoctin 50k9:04CAT #2, sultry-hot weather, squeaking under cutoffs all day ...
2011-04-09Bull Run Run 50M11:56"Well, that was rather bracing!" — surprise baptism at a water crossing, BRR #5 ...
2011-03-05Seneca Creek Greenway Trail 50k7:02SCGT #7, good result after illness & injury ...
2010-11-27Northern Central Trail Marathon4:16cramps and other excuses ...
2010-11-07Potomac Heritage 50k7:14PH #3, solo fun in the woods ...
2010-10-09Andiamo 45M8:41beware eating dried pineapple during an ultra!
2010-07-10Skyline Challenge 50k9:24Kate and a big black bear in the West Virginia hills ...
2010-04-10Bull Run Run 50M11:23BRR #4, with Kate ...
2010-03-06Seneca Creek Greenway Trail 50k7:36SCGT #6, cheery trek in the snowy woods ...
2009-11-28Northern Central Trail Marathon4:0224 minutes off the marathon PR!
2009-11-01Potomac Heritage 50k7:45PH #2, floodwater fun ...
2009-10-25Marine Corps Marathon4:26MCM #3, PB for me, PW for Kate ...
2009-10-10Andiamo 45M7:56pushing hard, an hour faster than last year!
2009-08-01Catoctin 50k7:53earn first Cat Card! ...
2009-04-18Bull Run Run 50M11:40BRR #3, with Kate, 45 minute improvement in BRR time ...
2009-03-07Seneca Creek Greenway Trail 50k6:51SCGT #5, longer course, but I'm ~10 lbs lighter than last year ...
2009-02-15George Washington Birthday Marathon4:31GWBM #6, CM's first marathon!
2008-10-02Andiamo 45M8:57the full length of the W&OD Trail!
2008-04-12Bull Run Run 50M12:51BRR #2, hot day, partway with Caren ...
2008-03-29HAT Run 50k7:46HAT #5, new course, with Caren ...
2008-03-01Seneca Creek Greenway Trail 50k6:56SCGT #4, poor pacing, big bonk ...
2008-02-17George Washington Birthday Marathon4:44GWBM #5, nice day ...
2008-01-01VHTRC Red Eye 50k7:54ramble in the woods ...
2007-10-27Potomac Heritage 50k8:27PH #1 fun, multiple falls, minor blood ...
2007-04-14Bull Run Run 50M12:26first BRR!
2007-03-24HAT Run 50k7:57HAT #4, sole-sucking muck - and meet Dr Mary!
2007-03-03Seneca Creek Greenway Trail Marathon7:39SCGT #3, ultra-icy and ultra-muddy ...
2007-02-18George Washington Birthday Marathon5:05GWBM #4, "brisk" winds!
2006-11-18JFK 50 Miler11:26first and last JFK ...
2006-10-01Wineglass Marathon5:00in New York with Ken ...
2006-03-25HAT Run 50k7:34HAT #3, Ruth's first ultra!
2006-03-04Seneca Creek Greenway Trail Marathon7:21SCGM #2, Caren's first trail "marathon" (28+ miles)
2006-02-19George Washington Birthday Marathon5:00GWBM #3, mostly with Ruth, starting temps in the teens ...
2005-11-13Rock Creek Park Marathon5:13first long race post torn toe tendon ...
2005-03-19HAT Run 50k7:13HAT #2, with Amanda on her first ultra ...
2005-03-05Seneca Creek Greenway Trail Marathon6:51SCGT #1 - meet Rayna, who shares salt & saves me!
2005-02-20George Washington Birthday Marathon4:50GWBM #2, happy laps ...
2004-10-31Marine Corps Marathon5:29MCM #2, oppressive humidity and record high temps ...
2004-10-02Tussey Mountainback 50M12:58first 50M, mostly with Steve, cramps and course-slow record DFL!
2004-03-27HAT Run 50k7:34HAT #1 — superb first ultra!
2004-02-22George Washington Birthday Marathon5:12GWBM #1, meet and get lapped by fast Morgan ...
2003-11-09Montgomery County Marathon in the Parks5:04steady solo run...
2002-11-17Montgomery County Marathon in the Parks4:56cramping and poor pacing ...
2002-10-27Marine Corps Marathon4:53first marathon, with brother Keith!

(cf Medallic Memories (2004-08-22), Running2006Analysis (2006-01-27), Year of Running - 2009 (2010-01-08), Year of Running - 2009 - Further Observations (2010-02-01), Road Running Records (2012-04-16), Running Relationships to Analyze (2014-09-30), Ultrarunning Result Analysis (2014-12-02), ...)

- Tuesday, April 19, 2016 at 04:28:47 (EDT)


2016-03-28 - Vertigo Fading

~10.1 miles @ ~12.7 min/mi

"Thank you!" I tell Kristin as we ramble in the rain. "For a morning when I seriously thought about calling in sick, this is the best day ever!" Yesterday's dizziness (BPPV) is mostly gone, and as the sun rises we discover a new playground cut-through ("Tysons Pimmit Park"), find a quarter on the pavement, slip but don't fall down on muddy sidewalks, climb a few steep hills, and manage to achieve soggy double-digit mileage while staying mostly within the Pimmit Hills neighborhood and not repeating too many streets. Kitschy lawn art and dozens of wind chimes decorate a yard near the corner of Cherri Drive and Leonard Road. It's trash day and we chase a garbage truck for a few blocks. "What will we do if we catch it?"

(trackfile)

- Monday, April 18, 2016 at 04:09:19 (EDT)


Mantra - Cling to Nothing

Nothing
  is to be
clung to
    as
  I
  me
    or
  mine

... as Jon Kabat-Zinn suggests in Mindfulness for Beginners and in Coming to Our Senses:

The Buddha taught for forty-five years. He is said to have said that all of his teachings could be encapsulated in one sentence. If that is so, perhaps we might want to remember what it was, even if we don't necessarily understand it all at first. Imagine forty-five years of profound teaching distilled into one sentence: "Nothing is to be clung to as 'I,' 'me,' or 'mine.'"

(cf. Cling to Nothing (2011-01-29), Core Buddhism (2011-10-17), 01 (2013-11-05), 0-1 (2014-08-29), Nothing But Faith in Nothing (2014-09-07), ...)

- Sunday, April 17, 2016 at 09:23:07 (EDT)


2016-03-26 - Kenwood Japanese Cherry Trees

~16.6 miles @ ~12.6 min/mi

"Please Do Not Climb Trees!" say roadside signs in the cherry-blossom-rich Kenwood area of Bethesda. Sam, Jerry, and Barry have varying degrees of knee or hip injury at the moment, so relatively-healthy Gayatri, Rebecca, Ken, and I escort them in various combinations to walk/run a mile down the Capital Crescent Trail, then meander under branches heavy with pink flowers. Cars cruise slowly, pausing for photographs. Meticulously trimmed lawns lead the eye to modest mansions with stone facades. One house features a sculpture that Gayatri identifies as a dhoti-clad Gandhi.

Back in downtown Bethesda we pick up Dr Kerry at 9am (her daughter is taking school exams nearby). Further hillwork accompanied by sakura viewing ensues. According to Wikipedia, there are more than a thousand cherry blossom trees in Kenwood. Kids selling lemonade for $2+ per cup have not yet set up for business, however, when we leave the neighborhood and continue down the CCT, then return. Kerry, Rebecca, and I do a final trot eastward to add more distance and reach Rebecca's 18+ goal. (The GPS inadvertently pauses and misses 2+ miles.)

(trackfile)

- Saturday, April 16, 2016 at 14:14:13 (EDT)


2016-03-25 - McLean Rabbits

~8.3 miles @ ~12.1 min/mi

"Rabbit crossing!" Kristin spies the Easter bunny-in-training ahead of us on a dark street. A few miles later, "Deer crossing!" for a small herd of big does making their way across Dead Run to visit the local garden buffet. The morning is warm and humid. We divert past Kerry's place to check for March Madness party detritus. (None seen, thank goodness!) Today's top-trending NY Times article "13 Questions to Ask Before Getting Married" lists "5 love languages", of which I can only name a subset (canonical answers: affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, physical touch — cf. Nano Languages). Car headlights flash as drivers emerge from their houses and remote-unlock. Fingers crossed that the Dawn Patrol make it into the Marine Corps Marathon this year — yesterday we all entered the lottery!

(trackfile)

- Saturday, April 16, 2016 at 14:11:04 (EDT)


2016-03-23 - Nathan Visit

~9.0 miles @ ~11.5 min/mi

"Raise your hand if you're a Frequentist!" Nathan tells of a Bayesian professor at the University of Washington who asks for a Day One vote by his students and taunts those who answer "incorrectly". Kristin leads the Dawn Patrol as it discovers massive holes in the Evans Farm gated community security perimeter. A construction project gets us back via Mayflower Drive and Pathfinder Lane. We analyze Seattle graffiti ("$500 reward" scrawled in chalk on a mailbox next to a shakily-drawn quadruped) and politics (voting by mail, with rational argumentation on ballots). Beth joins us for Wednesday laps at the McLean High School track (five 400m intervals at 1:44 + 1:43 + 1:41 + 1:40 + 1:40) during a beautiful pink-salmon sunrise.

(trackfile)

- Friday, April 15, 2016 at 04:16:09 (EDT)


2016-03-21 - Onward to the Dawn

~11.1 miles @ ~12.2 min/mi

"Nothing can stop us!" Kristin cheerfully quotes a children's book that she has read aloud far too many times in recent years. It's also the perfect sentiment on a beautiful brisk morning. A sleek red fox trots across Westmoreland St just in front of us. Stiff breezes make us say "Brrrrr!" whenever we run northwest. Quiet stretching fills the hot yoga studio picture window, and although the main water fountain on the W&OD Trail near Route 7 is turned off, the dog-water tap on the side works. Pink-lined clouds decorate the sunrise.

(trackfile)

- Thursday, April 14, 2016 at 05:32:08 (EDT)


Symphony of Breath

Chapter 7 ("What to Do with Your Mind") of Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana muses on some phenomena that often come along with "following the breath" as a tool for calming and observing one's mind:

... Do not be discouraged if you find your own will getting in the way. Just use that as an opportunity to observe the nature of conscious intention. Watch the delicate interrelation between the breath, the impulse to control the breath, and the impulse to cease controlling the breath. You may find it frustrating for a while, but it is highly profitable as a learning experience, and it is a passing phase. Eventually, the breathing process will move along under its own steam, and you will feel no impulse to manipulate it. At this point you will have learned a major lesson about your own compulsive need to control the universe.

Breathing, which seems so mundane and uninteresting at first glance, is actually an enormously complex and fascinating procedure. It is full of delicate variations, if you look. There is inhalation and exhalation, long breath and short breath, deep breath, shallow breath, smooth breath, and ragged breath. These categories combine with one another in subtle and intricate ways. Observe the breath closely. Really study it. You find enormous variations and a constant cycle of repeated patterns. It is like a symphony. Don't observe just the bare outline of the breath. There is more to see here than just an in-breath and an out-breath. Every breath has a beginning, middle, and end. Every inhalation goes through a process of birth, growth, and death, and every exhalation does the same. The depth and speed of your breathing changes according to your emotional state, the thought that flows through your mind, and the sounds you hear. Study these phenomena. You will find them fascinating. ...

... the music of the moment — not to be intellectualized or analyzed or controlled ... but to be experienced and embraced and lived within — simply the Now.

(cf. Try It for a Few Years (2009-05-19), Being with Your Breath (2010-02-20), Breath and Awareness (2011-03-12), Calm Technique (2011-05-07), Look at Each Second (2015-11-17), ...)

- Wednesday, April 13, 2016 at 04:43:50 (EDT)


2016-03-20 - With Rebecca, for the Win

~15.7 miles @ ~13.5 min/mi

"This is not Wise!" I observe. Rebecca interprets it as a judgment, but what I'm trying to say is that the street we've stopped at isn't Wise Road NW, but rather Bingham Drive. We take the Western Ridge Trail in Rock Creek Park, then come back along the Valley Trail. A big white horse wearing plastic ankle-skirts pauses at a stream crossing. "She's afraid of slipping in the mud!" says the lady leading her.

It's a dog day, with lots of cute pups and their owners out on strolls through the woods. Rebecca and I do ~3 miles on the Rock Creek Trail before meeting up with Rebecca's friend Win for ~7 together on muddy natural-surface paths. Win, appropriately named, is a children's chess instructor, gardener, and enthusiastically voluble companion.

(trackfile)

- Tuesday, April 12, 2016 at 05:55:46 (EDT)



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