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MCM 2021 (pending): Capitol Crescent 10

Be advised: I just got back to the hotel and I am just free associating this to a tee because I am trying to get something between a snack and a sandwich…at 9:30 p.m. in Washington, DC.

About 5:00 p.m., as the UEFA Champions League Final was marching towards the 1-0 final score for Chelsea over Manchester City, I got dressed and lubed up for a 10 mile run that should have happened thirteen hours earlier. I got up at 4:00 a.m. this morning, spent 20 minutes on the throne, and then dreaded the prospect of a ten-mile ruck through the rain. I promptly went back to bed putting the run off until after The Game.

At 5:15, I set about stretching for 15 minutes. Unfortunately, after yet another trip to the can, I didn’t leave the hotel until ten of six. In theory I could have taken an Uber to the Georgetown Waterfront Park and been there in five minutes, or driven down there myself and parked. But you know…lazy.

I was let out at the parking lot and walked about a half mile to the actual entrance/start of the Capitol Crescent Trail. The area around the waterfront has been greatly improved since my last run of the Crescent about two years ago. It used to be really seedy and dirty and perpetually under construction; when I got there about sixish, I noticed some newly opened up eating and drinking establishments and other nightlife. The Georgetown waterfront had opened back up since my last trip in February.

I made my way to the trail’s unofficial start/finish line, a strip of pavement with the yellow dotted traffic stripes. One last stretch, and off I went. As I launched my run, I realized I had to tinkle; however, I was able to hold it until just before the tunnel just before the four-mile mark.

The Capitol Crescent Trail has mile markers and half mile markers just before the opposite ends of the trail. That was good, because my MapMyRun app wasn’t sounding off with my split times and mile markers.

Frome the Georgetown end of the roundup to the five mile marker, it is mostly uphill, with the uphill culminating after crossing a bridge about Mile 3 (7 mile marker). Even though I was climbing most of the way, I felt good and I believed I was going faster than my final splits were telling me. After turning around just after the five mile marker, I pushed my pace on the downhill back towards Georgetown.

The rain was there, but mostly…not. In retrospect, I should have just dealt with rains best as I could. There were no real heavy torrents, and I was soaked with mostly sweat rather than rainfall. It was kind of chilly at 55 degrees, so I opted for long sleeve tech shirts and my Brooks running tights.

Before I knew it, the ten miles had come and gone. MMR took forever loading my run time and splits, and I had to wait before I could take a couple of pictures to post to the app as well as Facebook.

Although today was the longest run of 2021, my pace was one of the slowest at 13:06. I attribute that to my weight (around 230 lbs despite running since March) and the weather. That and maybe the two meals I had before the run.

But anyway, I just wanted to post this and let y’all know…

I’m back, baby.

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Thanksgiving 2020: Run/Eat/Drink/(try to)Be Merry

Sunday:

Originally, the St. Mary’s City Thanksgiving Turkey Trot 5K is supposed to be my final run of the year. It is supposed to”close the circle.” However, I started my 2020 season in the parking lot of the Navy Lodge at NAS Patuxent River, and for some reason, I want it to end there.

I got up at 0530 and drove to McDonald’s for a light breakfast of Egg McMuffin and medium coffee. The accompanying hash brown and apple fritter would be saved for later, so they didn’t count as part of the breakfast.

0650. As dan broke, I made the drive to Historic St. Mary’s City, a ten minute drive from Abberly Crest Apartments, where I live. On the drive there, I reflected on the Historic Half Marathon and the Marine Corps Marathon that I ran on MD-5 South and Point Lookout Road. Both races were virtual, so I ran Point lookout into and out of St Mary’s city for the Half. Breyer Road was Mile 22, and the final turnaround for the virtual MCM.

0700. The parking lot, just 20 feet away from the start/finish line. This year’s Turkey Trot was virtual, but you had to run the actual course for it to count. No problem for me. I performed one last (sic) Japanese ham sandwich stretch, and remembered 2013, the first year I ran the Turkey Trot: getting passed on the course by a young mother wearing a full coat and a full-length denim skirt as she ran with her son on the course. I was somewhere in the neighborhood of 265~275 lbs. and 18 months from being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes.

In 2015, I stepped on the scale in a hotel gym, fresh off running my second MCM: 205 lbs.

I weighed 222 this year. Two steps forward…

0710…and I’m off. Full sunrise to my immediate left. Beautiful morning; cool enough to need my 2018 MCM mock turtleneck, but warm enough where I could get away with a short sleeve tech shirt underneath. There were four signs along the 3.1 mile course: start/finish, the right turn onto Rosecrans Road, the mile marker going out, and the 1.6 mile turnaround.

This being the last run of the year, I decided to push the pace a little faster than I had been going the last month. I had not run since the MCM (three weeks), but still, I wanted to push myself one last time.

The original title of this blog entry was supposed to be “Sunrise/Cycle.” I wanted to run this virtual Turkey Trot just after sunrise (ehh…I was close enough), and close the circle on the year. However, as I closed on the last mile, I got to thinking: “If I really want to close the circle on the year, I should make that run from the Navy Lodge to the MAD HQ (Marine Aviation Detachment Headquarter) one last time.”

Suddenly, the final turn onto the road back to the HSMC Center. One last incline, the start/finish line in sight…done, Sir, done.

MapMyRun, silent once again, had me at 2.99 miles. Whatever. I snapped a couple of pictures next to the start/finish line (OMG, so awkward!). Off to go home and change, and shop for my Thanksgiving week menu.

Listening to 90s rock on the drive home, I reminisced about this year’s MCM stretch run. Making the final turnaround towards the Route 489 sign. Getting the last selfie at Manor Road, aka Mile 24. Taking one last picture at the bottom of South Willows Road, my personal Hospital Hill ( the Hill at Mile 11 of the Historic Half, Fredricksburg Va.) Past Green Meadow Road and the last climb past the three fireplugs.

And then it was over.

Turned the SUV onto Abberly Crest Lane and made the final turn home.

Monday:

Some asshole stole the basket from my bike while I had it locked up outside Enterprise Car Rental. He/she/it couldn’t have the bike, so they decide to inconvenience me instead. Little kids not taught to respect other people’s property…a homeless person looking for scrap metal to sell…whatever.

About an hour ago, I just got prepping some pork shoulder for a batch of tacos al pastor. Since I can’t travel for Thanksgiving, I decided tomato an epic feast week.

Tomorrow will be an epic Taco Tuesday. Breakfast will be tacos with chorizo and scrambled eggs with whatever cheese I can get ahold of. Lunch and dinner, provided everything goes well: tacos al pastor. Brutally sliced pork shoulder-I’m not much of a butcher or meat carver. Traditional Mexican spices. Achiote spied instead of actual achiote paste. Over grilled on a spit of wooden skewers with slices of pineapple, top and bottom.

Meat. Cheese, or salsa con queso. Salsa. Corn and flour tortillas.

Dammit…forgot to get an avocado. Maybe I’ll get one for dinner tomorrow. I’ll probably be having al pastor all week.

Thanksgiving breakfast: Eggs benedict, provided I can actually poach eggs without making a mess.

Dinner: Instead of deep-fried turkey and leftovers until Christmas, I will be making a Bacehlor’s crab boil. Dungeness crab legs. Jumbo shrimp. Half smoke sausages. Red potatoes and corn cobbettes. All boiled in water, crab boil spices, Old Bay seasoning, and a tall boy can of Miller Lite.

Desert: Tiramisu. I have all the ingredients except for cocoa powder. Weis Markets has some, but none at Harris Teeter or Target? Lame.

Black Friday: Al pastor con huevos, and some of the best leftovers ever (although I don’t think the seafood will keep after Thursday night).

Song of the Day:

Chris Cornell/”Patience:” Great cover of the Guns n’ Roses classic. He also covered “Nothing Compares 2 U” by Prince. “Billie Jean?” Yes, that too!

Pearl Jam/”Black:” Last song before I park at Historic St. Mary’s City.

Local H/”Bound for the Floor:” So THAT’s who did that song! Thank you, Sirius XM alternative channel Lithium!

Stone Temple Pilots/”Crackerman”

Foo Fighters/”Shame Shame:” A little ditty about a nightmare that Dave Grohl (guitarist/lead singer/former Nirvana drummer) had at fourteen years old. At least three Sirius XM channels were rocking this song on Sunday, since the Foos dropped the single this weekend.

Trifecta 2021: Moonlight (Pt 1 of 3{?})

Moonlight Challenge

Sooo…Monday I skipped the run. Side effects of an unscheduled “cheat day.”

Monday night, I noticed a full moon outside my front porch window. I had not run under a full moon in months.

So, here’s the deal. This week is a full moon week. Not sure if it’s waxing or waning gibbous. I propose to run consecutive days this week-Wednesday/Thursday/Friday-under the full moon. If the moon is visible, cloud cover nor not, I run. If it’s too cloudy or raining, the run is postponed to the afternoon (or I run at work near the end of the workday). 4 miles Wednesday, 5 on Thursday, and 6 on Friday.

Raineri Run 4

11:30 last night I ate my “dinner:” two tubs of Chobani vanilla yogurt, topped with 1/2 teaspoon of honey, a handful of granola, and some microwave thawed frozen berries.

4:30 the next morning: up, dressed, lubed with Skin-So-Soft, stretched and out the door at 4:56. Started the run from the Abberly Crest entrance by completely securing my smartphone in my Flipbelt first, then taking off.

The morning was warm, and the moon was visible under the cloud cover. Still, pretty warm for pre-dawn September autumn. The run felt good and I felt faster than I have in months. Running back up and down Willows Road to the Willows/Shangri-La and Great Mills Road intersection, I felt good enough to try and push the pace. Trying to push a twelve minute pace over 26 miles may be a stretch at this point, but for today I can give it a shot.

I cruised up the semi-hill up to Abberly Crest Road, then back downhill. I cruised up the hill to Ranieri Run Road, rather than just slowing down and trying to just keep running. Made the last turnaround and headed for home.

Stravia had me at a 12:07 pace today. Right now, I am just looking to finish the Saturday and Sunday long runs, but just keeping the pace at twelve minutes on the shorter runs will work for me. Perhaps I can cut some more weight and maybe some more time? We’ll see.

Raining right now, and I got caught in a short burst of rain on the bike ride home tonight. Nothing heavy, but I hope I see the moon again tomorrow morning.

Song of the Day

“Dance With Me”/Lords of the New Church: Genius has lyrics, but not much about the actual song. Also adding Open Your Eyes, because the lyrics for that song are somewhat prophetic…or maybe too many reruns of the movie They Live.

If punk bands believed in supergroups, this was it: “Lords of the New Church, the English-American post punk band was formed in 1982 of the four punk rock legends Stiv Bators of The Dead Boys(vocals), Brian James of The Damned (guitar), Dave Tregunna, of Sham 69 (bass guitar, backing vocals) and Nick Turner of The Barracudas (drummer).

“Lords of the New Church advocated living punk rock as a life-style, a religion and a state of being, which is reflected in Bators’ lyrics:

“You, too, can be a lord of the new church, the punk church. But you have to live it―you have to believe.”

HT: Genius

Trifecta 2021: SE Loop 10

The Run

Up at 0400…like I used to.

1 tub of Chobani vanilla yogurt with a teaspoon of honey, some granola, and some microwave-thawed berries. Breakfast washed down with Sparkling Ice + Caffiene, with a packet of UCAN Hydrate Plus added…the first packet of the year.

Dressed, stretched, one quick sit on the toilet…out the door ten after five.

Starting at the telephone pole across from the entrance to Meadow Lane. Moonless pre-dawn, no big deal. Hit start on the Strava app, and off I go.

I am still carrying more weight that I should, and yet, this morning I feel better. Climb up to Ranieri Run, head down Willows Road to MD-5 South, then left and up the hill. I go easy on the climb, then I push the pace as I near the top of the hill. The turn onto Point Lookout Road at mile three, then a quick pee stop. Down The road and then the turn left onto Three Notch Road/MD-234 going northward and steadily upward.

As I make the run up MD-234, I think about the Indian Hills Rail Trail, which is a perfect 13.1 mile length running end-to-end, one way. It is an hour drive north from where I live, with a Super-8 motel down the road and hopefully at least one BBQ rib shack further down the street running just outside the Navy installation. The current run up Three Notch reminds me of the last 4.5 miles…a constant gradual climb on the way back. The last time I attempted running IHRT, I saw the never-ending climb; not very steep, but a perpetual steady incline that never seemed to end.

Now, this climb I was going on wasn’t completely an incline, but running this four mile stretch gave me the idea to run the virtual Marine Corps Marathon at the IHRT this year. I believe that I will do a little better, since I am running the course in late October than late July. However, I don’t really have the mileage that I did when I made the attempt four years ago.

Since I had breakfast in my stomach and UCAN-reinforced water lubricating my systems, I focused more on the war going on inside my head, and less about the fact that I took a two months-plus vacay from running this summer. The four mile stretch of Three Notch Road came and went; the familiar buildings that were the signposts of the run came and went. At 6:58 a.m., the familiar traffic lights leading to NAS Patuxent River Gate 2 came into view. A left turn onto Great Mills Road, a short stretch going to the Willows Road/Great Mills intersection. The last mile plus on the road back home, with the familiar uphill to Aberly Crest Road to end the run.

10.25 miles in 2:06.45. 12:22 pace.

Lost ONE POUND between Sunday and Saturday?

The Gear and the Diet

More bulletproof coffee (swapping in the heavy cream, pat of butter and the two packets of Truvia). Veggies during lunch. Mio water enhancer instead of Red Bull to add flavor to the Aha Sparkling Water + Caffiene I’ve been drinking with lunch. No more grits and bacon for late supper.

Stravia is a good run app, but I need to figure out the voice settings for my phone. I have heard mile splits once in the three weeks I have been running.

Probably time to make a trip to Dick’s Sporting Goods for some new shoes, my Brooks Ravennas have been going on a year and probably more than 400 miles.

Song of the Day

“It’s in the Way That You Use It”/Eric Clapton: 80s Eric Clapton hasn’t lost a step from his days with the Yardbirds, Cream or Derek and the Dominos. Good track from the 28-years later sequel to…oh, man I can’t think of that movie. Back in the 60s, it was Paul Newman and Jackie Gleason as Minnesota Fats. Paul reprises his role and mentors a young Tom Cruise.

“Cinnamon Girl”/Neil Young: I love the guitar work and the hand-clapping in time with the drums. When neil Young does his guitar work, he never tries to be Clapton or hendrix or any other guitar legend, he just does Neil and lets himself go. From the liner notes of his Decade greatest hits album: “Wrote this for a city girl on peeling pavement coming at me thru Phil Ochs eyes playing finger cymbals. It was hard to explain to my wife.”

Trifecta 2021: Okay, THIS Time I’m Back…For reals…

Triple E 5

So, back to the usual starting point at Meadow Hill Lane, heading south on Willows Road toward the MD-5 intersection. I got off to a little bit faster start than I have been since I resumed running about two-plus weeks ago.

After climbing the first uphill at Ranieri Run Road, I pushed the pace a little bit, all the way downhill towards the MD-5 tee. Took the south road, going left, and made the steep climb up until the road leveled up midway past Nach-T Farms. I didn’t really need a second wind tonight, because my first wind was a good one, probably the best I’ve felt in a long time.

At the halfway point just past Triple E Farm Way, made the turnaround. Just kept pumping my arms and legs all the way back down MD-5 towards the tee and back up Willows Rd. The climb back home was the steepest of the run, but I didn’t let up off the gas that much. Finally to the realtor’s sign at the top of the hill, then the final down-up-down sequence before crossing meadow Hill Rd and the climb past the Three Hydrants to the finish at the Abberly Crest Road sign.

Final distance: 5.12 mi. @ 12:17 pace

The Rules:

  1. Running every other day from now until November 8.
  2. Diet will be as much keto as I can stand, and cutting out as much “processed” sugar as possible. No junk food or desserts.
  3. Substituting soft drinks for sparkling water (with caffeine, if possible).
  4. Long runs alternating on Saturdays and Sundays.
  5. No more missing runs…summer vacation is over.
  6. Maybe one of these days, start alternating run days with circuit courses at the gym (good luck on this one)
  7. Weigh-ins after every long Saturday/Sunday run.

Daf**isdiss**t?

Okay…excuses time.

Between the National Mall run on July 4th and August 29th, I simply stopped running.

Too tired to run after work.

Couldn’t get out of bed to run before work.

Needed a week to “take care of business.”

Too much stuff going on in my head/not motivated.

Yadda yadda yadda.

Why I’m Back:

Two weeks ago, a Marine friend from my Yuma, Az days, Trish Burke, committed suicide. I found out on Facebook messenger from another Marine friend, Dennis Rosales; he attended her funeral that Saturday.

Late Tuesday night, I got a text from Dennis. I didn’t get the text until Tuesday morning, before I went to work. I texted him back, and we face-timed me. he told me that a Sergeant from my work center in Yuma, Jason was in some bad times.

I gave Jason a call, and let him speak for a half an hour. One of the best phone calls I’ve had all year. Without going too much into his personal business, he told me that he was on the mend and he was going to get back with his family the next day, and put himself and his life back together.

What I can tell you about Jason, besides being a happily married with two grown children and a retired Marine (commissioned officer as a Sergeant, naturally) is that he is a WAAAAY more experienced runner and blogger than I am. This year will be my seventh Marine Corps Marathon; Jason has finished 36 MCMs, in addition to many other marathons, half-marathons, several ultra-marathons, and had the bravery to attempt a hundred-mile marathon…which he said he will make the attempt again, one day.

As awesome and extensive as his blog is, he told me last night that he really did enjoy reading mine. He did enjoy reading about my roads to the previous six marathons, from the most mundane and workaday, to the days where I really got into the spirit of running, as well as the MCM itself. Talking to Jason, and him telling me that he was alive, healing, and thankful that I reached out to him…I was truly glad that I could reach out and touch him that way. And that he ready MY blog…and liked it?

Yeah, I was wondering how I ran a little faster today.

In reality, I’m supposed to be writing these blogs as a way of keeping me honest about my progress in training. In fact, I used to post these blogs on an MCM runners’ website before the admins asked me to stop; my goal was to inspire other runners, but their stance was that I was promoting myself too much.

Fair point.

I have noticed, mostly in my email folder, that I get notices from WordPress about people who have read entries in my blog and enjoyed reading them…especially when I actually TRY to write something worthwhile.

So, Jason, if you do get a chance to read this, thank you for being alive…thank you for letting me listen to you talk…and thank you for re-lighting the spark for me to re-start this blog, as well as get back on the road.

And yes…you and I SHALL run the Marine Corps Marathon next year…live and in person, God willing.

Song of the Day:

Jason also enjoyed my Song of the Day selections. To be honest, 99% of my running is on public roads during the pre-dawn through morning hours. Headphones are not a good idea with the early-morning NASCAR Craftsman Series wannabes burning through the local roads…at twenty-plus miles over the posted speed limit.

To be even more honest, many of my selections over the past year or so have not necessarily been running or even workout tunes. But I persist.

Over the last year or so, I try to provide a brief snippet of history about the song, and why I picked it. However, it is getting late, so my SOTD picks will be brief:

“True Faith”/New Order: The original 80s video was kind of stupid, so I think of the scene from the movie American Psycho, when this was played. This song depends more on the bass and rhythm guitars, so I don’t think it’s necessarily a “synth pop” song.”(“True Faith”) is about drug dependency. I don’t touch smack but when I wrote that song I tried to imagine what it’s like to be a smackhead and nothing else matters to you except that day’s hit: vocalist Bernard Summer.

“Visions of Gideon”/Sufjan Stevens: The version I’m playing here is a slowed down and melancholisized version of the original song, which was the closing song of a romantic drama movie named Call Me by Your Name. I found this version on a fan-made video for the Netflix foreign language teen-drama Exile.

This is more of a cool-down/yoga track than a running track.

“Promontory aka The Gael”/Last of the Mohicans soundtrack: I have never seen Last of the Mohicans, but I do enjoy Gaelic music such as this (similar track: “The Blood of Cu-Chulainn” from The Boondocks Saints); this does get my blood up for a run, I tell ya!

MCM Trifecta 2021: Twilight Lamentations and Rudimentations

0425: This morning’s excuser not getting up and running: “Y’know, I haven’t really slept in all week, and this looks like a good time to do it, so…I’ll check the weather and see about running at 6:00 or 6:30 at the latest.

So, I slept in until about 7:30-ish and got my first breakfast: a DoorDash order from Bob Evans. Strawberry-topped brioche French Toast and three sausage links. Took back the rental car around noon and did housework. Second breakfast at 3:00: McGriddle pancakes, which are actually made with pancake batter poured into egg/muffin molds. Side of Oscar Mayer oven baked bacon. All washed down with my third 6-oz. cup of coffee of the day.

About 3:00 I started hydrating for the 6:00 run. Temps were at 84 degrees, with cloudy skies; ten degrees cooler than yesterday. Two 17-oz bottles of water with a splash of Mio water enhancer in each bottle’s worth, each poured into a 20-oz Zak! drink bottle.

About 5:30, I finished hydrating and started stretching. Got dressed and put on my Proven insect repellent. Effective after using it for a month, but damn, it smells…I miss my Skin-So-Soft. At 5:55 I was out the door.

The run wasn’t great, but it was done. My pace has dipped to about 13:30/mi. lately. Right now I just focused on finishing, and damn the pace for right now until I can seriously start losing weight. Went and took a pee break in an off road path, about the same spot going out and coming in.

Supposedly I was to go eight miles round trip to Sheetz on the corner of MD-5 and Great Mills Rd, but I ended the run at the Abberly Crest office instead of finishing at the top of the hill. Ended up doing 8.3…no biggie, since I was supposed to run five yesterday but pulled up lame. No, not really sore or hurting, just…lame.

Shopping list:

New iMac (current iMac is 8.5 y/o, which is about 84 years old in human years (and not that healthy either). Gets stuck in recursive loops after powering up; takes about 2.5 hours to be fully ready to use. After powering up, it can’t save to my OneDrive and I have to erase and reformat my 1GB hard drive so I can save my stuff again. Ongoing issue with un-commanded power time outs. Running slower than ever.

New smartphone. Memory full AF.

Dumbbells or dumbbell set for P90X.

Plane ticket home for class reunion.

Lamentations:

Just got on the scale: 239 lbs. Oh, and I’m postponing my P90X run because I’m traveling home at the end of July and won’t be back until first Monday in August. Need to do something to lose weight because my run-times and A1C need to get much MUCH better.

Looking at a hella-expensive Amazon/QVC-HSN shopping spree…eventually.

Military Order of the Devil Dogs, Pax River Pound 344 Growl this weekend. Pound leader’s house had a pool. Pound leader and I both jumped in it and each of us swam for about five minutes. Both of us retreated to the inside of the house for lunch because it was simply too damn hot.

I bought a beer mug for the Marine Corps Ball at MCAS Yuma, AZ in 1991 (yup, third years ago). At the Growl, I drank beer out of it for the first time in thirty years.

The Pound leader’s wife liked the silicone whisk I used for my perrjack cheese mashed potatoes.

I left the mug at the pound Leader’s house. I left the whisk in the back seat of my ride home (I think).

Song of the Day: “Promontory (aka “The Gael”)”/The Last of the Mohicans Original Soundtrack: I have NEVER seen this movie, but I clicked on the link for the video on YouTube. Awesome. In the same vein as “The Blood of Cu Chulainn” from The Boondocks Saints.

It’s after 9:00 p.m. That’s all I’ve got.

MCM Trifecta 2021: It Begins

Friday:

“Traditionally,” I like to open my Marine Corps Marathon training program with a “Ceremonial” run of the old Marine Physical Fitness Test course, located at Naval Air Station Pax River, MD. This was the last PFT course that I ran before I retired in 2008, so it ties in with the Marine part of my training (“Honor, Courage, and Commitment”), which says that I am going to max out my MCM training to the best of my ability and finish the Marathon for this year.

About 45 minutes before the run, I officially registered for the 2021 MCM Trifecta. This consists of not only running the 26.1 mile Marine Corps Marathon, but the MCM10K (6.1 miles) and the MCM50K (31.2 miles). I took the option of running the 10K onsite at the MCM course in Arlington, VA and running the regular MCM as well as the 50K as virtual races. I won’t run either at Arlington, but I will be running them locally (Lexington Park, MD) on courses of my choosing.

The 10K will be a much shorter MCM Weekend than usual, which means I plan on driving up on Race Day, running the 10K, then hanging around long enough to get much at the Finisher’s Festival before driving home. The virtual MCM I will run the same course as last year, probably a week before the 10K. The 50K I would like to run up MD-5 North from my home in Lexington Park to (probably) Leonardtown, Md and back. As soon as MapMyRun allows me to properly chart a course, that is.

But I digress. The Ceremonial is meant to be a run to reflect on what it means to be a Marine and how it relates to committing to train for the race (or races) this year. Usually, though, my head is somewhere else, and usually I never think about maintaining a good pace. Technically it’s more “fun run” than training run.

The weather was not great out, but the heavens didn’t fully open out during my late morning run. I did remember to get my “official” post-run selfie with the sign of the Marine Aviation Detachment (my last command when I retired, so long ago). The run was pleasant, considering I had not run since my 10 mile trek on the Capital Crescent a month ago.

Quick aside: I planned to take a week of running to “take care of business” so i could have a clear head before I started training for real. That week, unfortunately stretched into a month. On top of that, I planned to start P90X Lean next Monday, but I’m going to be doing that very, very cold. I have not done any cross training or gym work since my aborted attempt at P90X last June.

Yikes. ‘Nuff said.

Sunday/Independence Day:

I also attempt to uphold the tradition of running the five-mile circuit of the National Mall in Washington, DC. This year was not about pace, but yet another commitment to train and to run.

Although I set my alarm for 0400, I was already up an about at 0315. Got dressed for the run and made a last minute check on where to park my car and where to start. I decided on the National Gallery of the Arts.

At 0430, I headed out to the parking garage for the 10 minute drive to the Mall. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get my car out of the parking garage (what do you mean, “Failed to check-in???”). I decided that this was an issue to take up with my hotel front desk, and made the twelve minute walk down 6th Street to the Gallery.

When I run the National Mall, I try to run the whole Mall. Start at a landmark on Constitution Avenue (i.e., the Gallery), then run all the way around the Lincoln Memorial, as much as traffic and safety allows me. Then down Independence Avenue up to and around the US Capitol Building, then back to the start-finish point…plus a block or so to hit five miles on the dot.

Running down Independence Avenue, the run turned into a bit more of an adventure than I had planned. Apparently, the National Mall was fenced off, especially around Independence. The Wall was still fenced off to the point where pedestrians/runners/bikers/tourists could not use the sidewalks adjacent to the Mall. Halfway down Independence, I encountered a female runner who asked me “Can I run around the Lincoln?”

“Yes, ma’am, it’s not fenced in.”

“Isn’t this crazy though? I’m adding about fifteen minutes to my run!” Felt your pain, ma’am. There’s a difference between running on the sidewalk than on the grass.

I did make it to the Capitol Building, but it woo was fenced off. I was tempted to try and run around the back of the building, But i was in no mood to get lost and run any extra miles that I didn’t have to. In hindsight, I could have taken Indy-First St-Constitution back to the Gallery, but I’ll just save that for next year. After my usual awkwardness about looking for the turn back onto Constitution, I found my way back to the Gallery.

Only 4.95 mi? I ran to corner of 7th to get my “full five.”

A couple of pictures (way too much flash for the FB selfie!), and then the cool down stroll back up 6th Street and my hotel. Who needs parking?

Epilogue:

I am typing this from Room 706 at the Motto by Hilton. Designed as a “traveler’s hotel,” this is the smallest hotel room I have ever been in! I have had bigger rooms at cheaper hotel chains! However, the Motto has a rooftop bar that serves very good bar food (though pricey, as per DC standards). Still, I plan to head to the Rooftop Bar in hopes of catching the National Capitol Fireworks Show…along with the other guests of the Motto.

Song of the Day (yup…It’s Back!)

Roxy Music/”Virginia Plain:”  From Genius: “In 1964, when (lead singer/pianist) Bryan Ferry was an art student (Newcastle University), he painted a picture called ‘Virginia Plain.’ It was reportedly a packet of cigarettes with a woman portrayed on a plain background. Three images, one song title: “What’s her name?/Virginia Plain.” Brian Ferry wrote this song via stream of conscuisness as a potential hit single; Roxy Music’s debut album was a surprise success, but “the A&R man said ‘I don’t hear a single (thx Tom Petty!).” Also, great synth solo by Brian Eno!

Rachid Taha/”Barra Barra:” This song was selected as part of the soundtrack for the movie, Blackhawk Down about the US Special Forces’ mission in Mogadishu, Somalia in 1993. You’ll get more information about the song and the late, great artist on the actual linked YouTube video (lyrics translation included!) and Rachid’s own YouTube channel than Genius.

Thanksgiving Week 2020: The Circle Closes

Thursday (Thanksgiving Day)

Breakfast: Eggs Benedict…sort of. My first poached egg came out perfect. #2 and #3 were both uncooked hot messes. #4 was a fried egg benedict.

My cooking multitasking did come out well, despite me stirring the Knorr hollandaise sauce for ten minutes without turning the front burner on. Still I did get the hollandaise sauce properly cooked; I even added some ground oregano and paprika to the mix. Ladles onto the first egg benedict, it did taste delicious. It even went well with the fried egg benedict. And my tactic of adding a slice of pancetta on top of the grilled prosciutto was a good choice, mixing the sweetness of pancetta with the salty Parma ham (as gordon Ramsay would call it).

Whole lot of extra hollandaise sauce leftover. Could have made eggs benedict for about eight servings with the one-packet batch that I made.

Desert prep: Tiramisu. Lesson learned here: electric mixer. I tried to hand-whisk the three egg whites, and I think I only got halfway. I also think I may not have really soaked the ladyfingers all the way through until the last four or five. From the first cracked egg to putting the finished product in the fridge took about an hour.

I had two helpings and it came out delicious. Only bad thing: all that leftover mascarpone filling. It’s chilling in the fridge now to prep for my Tuesday Marine Corps League potluck

Dinner: Bachelor’s Pad Seafood boil: Start to finish, the whole meal prep took about an hour and a half, and I sat down to dinner at the tail end of the Texans beating the Lions.

The one trick? The first thing that I had prepped was the pound of gulf jumbo shrimp, starting just after twelve thirty. However, by the time that I started putting things in the turkey fryer/boiler, the shrimp were a bright pink. IN theory I could have just chucked the crab in there, got some cocktail sauce for the shrimp and ate them as is. However, this was to be a seafood boil, so I made the command decision to shorten the cooking time from five minutes to two.

The shrimp made it…just barely. Went nice with drawn butter and white wine vinegar.

While waiting for Redskins-Cowboys, I chowed down on my boiled Thanksgiving feast and washed it down with a tall boy can of Miller Lite. I only made it through one plate.

Oh look…leftovers.

Sportball interlude:

Xavier 51, Bradley 50: Ya gotta make this free throws, Braves!

Washington Football Team 41, Dallas 16. It was 20-16 to start the fourth. I was full of dinner and finally finished my one tall boy by the time the rout ended.

Welcome back Alex Smith.

Hail to the Redskins.

Friday (Black Friday):

At 4: 45 p.m. I got ready to jump in the car and head to the Navy Lodge aboard NAS Patuxent River. It was there on the cold, dark morning after the Super Bowl that I started training for the Semper Fi Double, and I wanted to formally end the year there.

I saw the full moon.

One last full moon to run under.

COVID-19 restrictions had prohibited me from renting a room at the Navy Lodge, but never mind, I could still drive out to the base and do the run.

One last run. One last full moon.

Saturday (two hours later)

Got out of bed at 0550. Sunrise would be about 0630-ish. Out of bed, dressed for warmth. Oh, look I’m missing my gloves and knit cap. Going to be a recurring theme this winter…how many sets of gloves and caps can a man buy in a winter season?

At the Navy Lodge parking lot about 0610. Motorcyclist in the parking lot revving up his souped up motorcycle…nice one, idiot, you know there are people sleeping, right? If I were a Maryland state trooper, I would be making my ticket quota every month just on motorcyclists and pickup truck drivers.

The sky was overcast, covering the full moon. It wasn’t that cold, so the gloves and cap were not an issue. Didn’t do one last Japanese ham sandwich, or otherwise stretch. Just set up the MapMyRun, hit START WORKOUT, put the phone in my FlipBelt, on off I went.

Down Cuddihy, took a right on Buse, past the Moffat Building. Buse up and down to Cedar Point Road, ran it downhill all the way to the entrance road to the Drill Hall Gymnasium and down the road to the Marine Aviation Detachment HQ. Pulled even with, then past the HQ sign and turned around the way I came.

With my mind on other things besides the run, before I knew it, I was climbing up Buse Road towards the stoplight turning onto Cuddihy and the road back to the Navy Lodge. One last climb up Cuddihy, past the stop sign and past the Navy Lodge sign.

A couple of selfies in front of the Navy Lodge signage. Back in the car, and off to McDonald’s for breakfast (and for my third straight meal of the weekend).

The circle is closed. What I have written I have written.

Songs of the Day:

Triarii: The Final Legion

Q*Brick: Shot’em

Deep Purple: Highway Star

The Darkness: I Believe in a Thing Called Love

Leonard Cohen: The Future

Manfred Mann: Blinded by the Light

Thanksgiving Week 2020: Crab Boil

Tuesday:

Taco Tuesday was a bust.

First, my breakfast tacos took a dump when I didn’t heat up my corn tortillas. They were too soft and practically disintegrated with the first bite. I only got one chorizo con huevos taco down, out of a filling made for at least three.

My maiden attempt at tacos al pastor? First problem was either my wooden skewers were too thin, or I didn’t place my meat on them the right way. The skewers stuck in the pineapple were all crooked when I put them in the oven. Making matters worse, I kept the spit of pork shoulder and pineapples in the oven too long. The whole thing eventually fell over; when I pulled out the spit after 90 minutes, the meat was clearly overdone (read: burnt). I also overdid heating up the flour tortilla, so it was crunchier than a soft taco shell should have been. I did get some edible meat out of the remains, but not much of a spectacular meal.

So…all that happened.

Wednesday:

I am pretty much set for tomorrow’s meals, and maybe beyond.

This morning, I resurrected my two-year-old Faberware Indoor Turkey Fryer out of my walk-in pantry storage. Draining the old oil, then cleaning the heating element and the oil reservoir took all of a half and hour. The brief search for the power cord ended when I found it next to where I had stored the fryer.

The fryer is clean and in place. I have a fresh three quart jug of Deer Park water to boil my dinner in and the seafood should be thawed by now.

Bachelor’s Crab Boil

Boil water (1/2 hour)

Red potatoes: boil 12 min.

Corn cobbettes: Boil 9 min.

Half-smokes, two links: Boil 9 min.

1 lb. Dungeness crab and 1/2 lb. jumbo shrimp: Boil 5 min.

The broth: Deer Creek water to fill line, followed by crab boil seasoning, a generous amount of Old Bay seasoning, and one tall boy can of Miller Lite.

Accompanied by drawn/melted butter and white wine vinegar. Served with another Miller Lite tall boy.

For lunch, I practiced actually poaching two eggs for my Thanksgiving morning breakfast of Eggs Benedict. One was alright, the other egg could have used about thirty more seconds. The Hollandaise sauce will be a sauce mix made by Knorr, an English seasoning company. According to master chef Marco Pierre White, Knorr makes pretty good beef and chicken stockpots, so I’ll give their sauce a shot.

Provided I don’t take too early of a bedtime, I plan on having homemade tiramisu for dessert. I wanted to have a bed of graham crackers under the bottom layer of the ladyfingers, but I kept forgetting to get them. Oh, well. Right after breakfast, I’m going to make the dessert and stick it in the fridge.

Song of the Day:

I was going to hotlink a video from Chef Marco, but I couldn’t pull up any… sooo:

Piano cover of Rammstein/”Sonne”

Piano cover of Guns N’ Roses/”Don’t Cry”

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Semper Fit Challenge 2020: The Road I Travelled

It has been a little more than 24 hours since I finished the (virtual) Marine Corps Marathon and completed the Semper Fit Challenge, which was completing the Historic Half-Marathon as well as the MCM in the same calendar year. AS I draw down the curtain on 2020, I want to recap my last two months and explain my extended absence on this blog.

First, I put a pause on blogging because I put an extended pause on training. I didn’t get back into serious training until September 13, a mere 42 days before the (scheduled) virtual MCM. I proposed an aggressive schedule for myself: running every other day until the MCM. One week would be Su-Tu-Th-Sa, the other week Mo-We-Fr, with long runs on Saturday. In retrospect this hurt me on some of the long runs because I was used to a We-Fr-Su running schedule, the long runs being on Sunday mornings.

The second reason I paused my blogging, while resuming the running, was because I wanted to show progress while I was training. I did complete runs of 13.1, 15, and 20 miles before yesterday’s MCM, but I also had a couple of aborts while attempting to run 15 and 18 miles. I had also put aside P90X for the year; with access to the gyms at my apartment complex restricted to appointment only, the only cross-training I did was riding my bicycle to and from work.

On the Mondays thru Fridays I alternated between 5 and 6 mile runs every other day. Rather than focus on the mundane runs, I will take a short look at the longer runs that defined my run-up to the virtual MCM.

Southeast Loop 10/Sept. 6: This was the longest run I had done since June. The stretch of Three Notch Rd/MD-234 was mostly uphill, and I thought that I did a pretty good job of maintaining my pace on this part of the run. My pace was 12:28, and I learned to live with it.

St. Mary’s City 13.1/Sept.19: The same route that I ran the virtual Historic Half, and the longest I had run in FIVE MONTHS. In retrospect, i was supposed to be running 20 miles and should have had a one or two (virtual?) half marathons under my belt by now. I finished eighteen minutes slower than the HH that day. Also the issues with MapMyRun began this week: the app was not verbally calling out my mile split times.

Sept. 24: Plot twist…and ankle twist. Today, while riding home from work, I slipped off my right pedal and spilled the bike, and twisted my right ankle in the process. Eventually the ankle would recover, but I would feel it in the weeks to come. Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation…I would do none of this process and would pay for it later.

RTN 7 Walk 3/Sept.27: This was my first attempt at 15 miles. It was all sorts of dark out when I started (no moon), and as I was heading south down Three Notch/MD-235, I was struggling to find the turnoff to Route 489. I eventually did make the turn…and then I flat ran out of gas about 100 years down the road. My get-up-and-go just got up and went. I power-walked the rest of Route 489 to Point Lookout Road/MD-5, hoping to get a second wind. The restart never came, and at the foot of the Willow Road uphill, I ended the run. It should have been Run 7 Walk 3, but I was not in a good mood and couldn’t see straight.

For some reason, my smartphone dialed 911 just before I gave out on 489.

Three Point Mills 15/Oct. 3: THREE Notch Road, north to south, then POINT Lookout Road/MD-5, after running the 489, then Great MILLS Road/MD-246 after hitting the last intersection. The 246 had the most elevation changes, but I did manage to up the pace before heading into the home stretch on Willows Road. With the UCAN Hydrate in my system, I had gone 15 miles without needing a water break, and I still had not touched my spare GU. My thighs kind of flared up around mile 12, midday through the 246.

The week of Oct.11-17 was to be my most ambitious training week ever. I planned to run the Mt. Vernon Trail on the 11th, then run the Carl Henn Millennium Trail on the 17th.

Mt. Vernon Trail 6/Oct. 11: Ouch. I was anticipating a cold rainy run, so I put on a yellow thermal tee over my black tech shirt. The weather was dry and a bit warmer than expected. Maybe too warm because I flat out burned out two miles into the run. I just overheated and limped to the port-a-johns just outside the Reagan National Airport. After taking a No.2, then realizing the port-a-john I was in had no toilet paper (my what a lovely morning I was having), I limped back to the start of the trail.

PS: Next year I will stay at the Marriott just outside of the Rosslyn end of the trail instead of the Hilton at Arlington Courthouse.

Millennium Trail 20/Oct. 18: I was supposed to run this on Saturday instead of Sunday, but I got a serious case of nerves just before I was getting ready to stretch. This run was two laps of the 10.7 mile trail located in Rockville, MD. I remembered having to cut the run short just after Mile 16 last year, so I resolved to maintain a steady pace over the first lap, then gauge how to take the hills on the second lap. I did make it past mile 16 this year, by taking a power walk at the Thomas Wooton High School on the last serious uphill. The final pace (14:08) wasn’t that great, but I chalked it up to the constant elevation changes, and my lack of long mileage and conditioning (i.e. no running and no P90X) over the midsummer.

The weekend trips to Arlington, VA and Rockville were good chances for me to get out of town, even though only Rockville was more of a confidence boost before the MCM.

Epilogue

Not making the trip to Arlington for the MCM in-person was kind of a drag this year, and took away the anticipation of the event. The Runner’s Expo, the annual trip to the Marine Corps Museum, being found my Marine Friends, and the entire race day experience…the walk through the security gates and the longer walk to the starting corrals. Hearing the music and the public address announcers. Feeling the atmosphere with the other 40,000 runners while stretching out. V-22 Osprey flybys just before the run.

Hearing the starting howitzer going off at 0755. Shuffling towards the starting arch, then crossing under it and taking off, with adrenaline in your veins.

The Blue Mile at Mile 12. The long stretch from miles 14 thru 17, when you realize OMG I’m running a marathon!!! Realizing you’ve made it to the George Washington Bridge, with time to spare ( supposed to reach it by 1:00p.m. or get pulled off the course).

Crossing the bridge, and the near silence. So many people running on fumes and sheer determination.

Crossing into Rosslyn and the party in the streets, as you once again see the cheering crowds. Mile 24…two miles to go!

The Mile 25 and the highway that you started on so long ago is now the homestretch. The the final run up to the finish arch.

A United States Marine wrapping the finisher’s medal around your neck.

The Finisher’s Party and the celebration of the end of a long year of training.

Yeah…I kind of missed that this year.

Song of the Day: Closing Ceremonies

Presented without commentary or explanation, because I’m really not into Genius right now:

Bury Tomorrow/”Choke”

Orbit Culture/”The Shadowing”

The Revels/”Comanche”

MC5/”Kick Out The Jams”

Beatles/”Slow Down”

Baltimora/”Tarzan Boy”

Hugh Cromwell (Stranglers) and Mariachi Mexteca/’Golden Brown”

Van Halen/”Runnin’ With the Devil”

Night Ranger/”Don’t Tell Me You Love Me”

Crash Test Dummies/”Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm”

Ghost/”Square Hammer”