Category Archives: Sunday long run

MCM 2021: Trifecta Review

It was exactly this time (0920) last Sunday that cramped, seized up calves forced me to call time on the Virtual MCM 50K, so this is a good time to take a look back at what was, and what might have been…

Virtual MCM 10K, Oct.24: It was cloudy, but the full moon was out that morning.

To be honest, this run was over before I knew it. Knowing it would be just six miles, I opened the throttle and pushed it from the get-go. I ran the Superwillow 6 course; started from the entrance at Abberly Crest Apartments at Abberly Crest Lane. Ran north up Willows Road through the intersection at Willows and Great Mills Road up through Shangri-La Road, then turned around and ran Willows south all the way to the intersection at Willow at MD-5.

When I got to the intersection, I kind of forgot to go out about 20 yards, so could be sure I got the exact measurements for the 10K, or 6.22 miles. Never mind, I just turned back up Willows all the way back to where I started, going full speed to the end.

I checked the Strava app on my phone: 10.01K and 6.22 miles on the dot.

Virtual Marine Corps Marathon (26.2M), October 31: After spending three hours in the car on Saturday afternoon, one would think I would be tired enough to get a good nights sleep. I went to bed at 9:30 p.m. (2100 hours) for a 3:30 a.m. (0300) reveille.

At 0245, I woke up. Now the course that I was running, the Indian Head Rail Trail in Indian head, MD has a posted policy that no one is to be on the trail until dawn. I toured the area the day before and I found the area to be kind of sketchy. So, at 0250, I moved reveille to 0500.

I did get up at 0500, ate my breakfast of muesli (Greek yogurt/honey/granola/dried berries) and Sparkling Ice + caffeine, got dressed. Stretched out for about 40 minutes. Set up my FlipBelt and my knapsack, which would hand crossed by my shoulders. I left the Red Roof Inn about 0615 and headed for the park, which was a five minute walk from the IHRT, and the actual parking spot for it.

I stepped off for the MCM at 0640. It was still dark, but the trailhead area was well lit, between the church parking lot and a sheet lamp or two. I got an extra ninety minutes of sleep, but I got a later start than I should have. Also, it was a little more overcast that last Sunday, so not much of a full moon.

My strategy was to push for a 12;30 pace for as mic as possible, then Marine Corps shuffle and PowerWalk to the end, if I had to. IHRT is 13 miles, end to end. Going out to the Charles County end is a gradual five mile climb to the 13 mile point. I made the turnaround, then ran a few more yards “just to make sure” of that tenth of a mile.

The second half of the run was the real grind. Going back to the eight mile point (Mile 18) was where I shifted into shuffle mode. Believe it or not, I got enough “second winds” where I could do more shuffling than power walking. I missed the six mile marker going back; that was significant because four of the remaining six miles going back would be uphill. When I saw the five mile marker, I knew everything was going to be alright.

“Do you have another fifteen minutes?” Made it to the four mile marker.

“Do you have one more hour in you?”

Apparently, I did.

The end of the virtual Marine Corps Marathon was a blur. 26.87 on the Strava. Cooldown walk back to the car. Drive back to get the obligatory selfie to post online. Back to the hotel for my post race epsom salt bath.

I did see a man on the course wearing an MCMmock turtleneck, asking me if I was running that day; I told him I was running the virtual MCM this morning. I was him again on the way back and he told me “You’re doing fine, keep it up!”

The KT bands on my thighs and Copper Fit knee braces were a boon. I wish I added KT tape to my calves.

The Dream:

“0300 on November 10th, 2021. The Marine Corps Birthday, but also the very last day I can run and submit a time for the Virtual MCM 50K.

“I text my supervisions at work that I’m taking a day of leave today. Not sure if i want to explain right why right now. I am up, I eat my breakfast. I add slice of English muffin covered with peanut butter to my muesli entree.

“Forty-five minutes to stretch. KT tape on my thighs and calves. elastic knee braces. Brooks running tights, bought just over five years ago. The infamous ‘People’s Mock’ from 2017. My plain white tech shirt, which was my ‘honor shirt’ for the Trifecta.

“0500 and I’m off. Half moon is out and I’m feeling good. Still feeling shaky from Sunday but I don’t care…I’m doing this run today, dammit!

“About 0615 and I’m at the SAIC Building…just over five miles in. The workday traffic is just building up. I don’t care who sees me at this hour. I’m just running.

“Ten mile mark, and I’m shuffling. I don’t care about speed, I don’t care about a Personal Record. Shuffle/shuffle/shuffle…Marine Corps shuffle.

“Faith Baptist Church and the turnaround point. Still feeling the after-effects from Sunday. The morning rush towards Naval Air Station Pax River continues. The KT tape and the knee braces are physically holding me together. May need to look for a bright star in the east, because this is a miracle.

“The shuffle continues. Damn, I didn’t realize so many inclines on the run back.Going on sheer willpower at this point. Then suddenly, I see the 20 mile point. Two thirds of the way done.

“Still shuffling…holy cow, suddenly I’m back in Hollywood, MD just outside the Outback restaurant. Okay, let’s see if we can make it back to the Wawa gas station at the intersection. Another incline and then a decline…not too steep but damn it’s long. Look across the street…it’s Wawa and a pee break.

“Still shuffling into California, MD…the strip malls, the Chick-Fil-A. The McDonalds and the Popeye’s Chicken (which is the worse of the two in town). Just keep shuffling and looking for the landmarks…almost home.

“Before I know it, I’m down one more long incline and up another one. Oh, look, the Chesapeake Professional Building where I work. Does anyone see me? Does anyone recognize me? Do I care at this point? I look again, and I’m across the street from NAS Pax River. One more incline…

“Enterprise Rent-a-Car. H&R Block. Oh, look, it’s Gate Two and the turn off Three Notch Road. Turn onto Willow Road one last time…I pass John Hancock Park…Mile Thirty. One last jog down Willow Road.

“One last second wind…one last selfie…up the hill to the entrance, then down the hill to the back entrance…one last shuffle past the three fireplugs, then the top of the hill.

“Pull out the smartphone, pull up the Strava…50.15 km.

“Thank you God…I’m done.”

“It’s 12:30 p.m. on November 10th, 2021…the 246th birthday of the United States Marine Corps. But there will be no potlucks, or birthday cake, or reading of General LeJuene’s Birthday Message. Today, there is only…the Trifecta.

“Epsom salt bath for half an hour. Pull on my olive drab USMC sweat bottoms and another clean mock turtleneck. Compression socks, black, with USMC in red lettering and trim. I check into Strava on my computer, enter my time on the MCM website.

“Two p.m. I email a copy of my 50K certificate to my supervisors and my coworkers.

“1415 hours…2:15 p.m. on the 246th Marine Corps Birthday. I could die happy…but I just go to sleep instead.

Postscript: 7:30 p.m. 11-10-21:

A bite of dark chocolate, a long pull of the cigar, and a sip of bourbon. I’m at the VFW in California, MD for the Marine Corps League’s birthday celebration.

Sitting next to a good friend who has just won a barbecue smoker. Feeling good for the first time all week. Happy Birthday, Marines! Happy Birthday to me.

Bite. Pull of the cigar. Sip.

“Dammit, I should have put some KT tape on my calves.”

Bite. Pull. Sip.

Turn the page.

Virtual MCM 50K: The Journey Denied

  1. Excuses:

Maybe that two month vacation from running wasn’t such a good idea.

Maybe I should have pressed on with P90X without waiting for dumbbells.

Maybe I should have at least gone to the gym and done my old, tried-and-true circuit routines.

Maybe Crossfit, or some kind of cross-training.

Maybe I started out too fast this morning.

Maybe I should have done Yoga X and Stretch X, like I had planned.

Maybe I should not have waited until just before Labor Day Weekend to start losing weight for running.

Maybe I should have taken leave on November 10 (Marine Corps Birthday, but also a workday) to run the 50K

2. The Run

I did get the extra hour of sleep from moving the clock back for the end of Daylight Savings Time, but my night’s sleep was a restless one.

My pre-run prep was okay, and I did shift the priority to being ready to run instead of “out the door at 0455 and step off at 0500,” like I’ve been doing for years. However, I spent about 15 minutes going back and forth, going back and getting this and that.

I started the run off as planned: hold nothing back the first half, then shuffle/power-walk the second half. I was mostly running MD-234/Three Notch Road, up to North Seagraves Road/Faith Baptist Church and back. The hills were more inclines, but they were about a quarter to a half mile long in some stretches. Maybe one or two kind of steep hills, but nothing major.

The run up to Faith Baptist Church did’t feel that bad. After passing North Seagraves and crossing MD-234 for the run home, I took a quick pee break under a grove of trees (being careful to watch for any law enforcement vehicles coming or going) then started down the road back.

The need to shift from full run to shuffle mode was evident, so I did so. I planned to do the trip by breaking up the run into blocks of four miles at 15 minutes a mile (“CAN YOU GIVE ME ONE MORE HOUR???) and breaking the run into little segments (okay, shuffle ’tile get to that sign, and then we’ll power-walk for a bit).

Not no, but hell no, my calves screamed…maybe I should have KT-taped them as well as my thighs? I didn’t pull them or strain them, but they seized up something fierce. They weren’t bad enough to need a trip to the emergency room, but no way was I going to He-Man the last half of the run on them. Walking? Not an option. No second wind was coming this week.

Just short of 30K, I sat down on a brick stairway next to a mailbox, and summoned an Uber. Surprisingly, there was a lone driver on this cold Sunday morning, but it would be a 20-plus minute wait. Hoping that the homeowner would not come out and find me lowering on his/her property, I leaned back on the bricks and waited for the “medieval” home.

3. Life Lessons Learned

So I did complete the 10K two weeks ago, and the virtual 26.2 marathon at Indian head Rail Trail last week. I will keep the 10K and the 26.2 medals and swag (if the MCM package ever gets here!). The 50K swag box, with medal, and any Trifecta items (if they ever come) will be put into a box and sent back the Marine Corps Marathon Organization.

Failing to complete the Trifecta sucks. Next year, the Marine Corps Marathon Weekend should go live again, eliminating the need for any more virtual events. Maybe one year, I will forgo the MCM in favor of the 50K; if a virtual option is offered next year, I will attempt the Trifecta once more (and actually train for it!!!).

Given the circumstances, and my eight excuses, I am disappointed with myself, but I’m not going to go into depression or stage an active shooter event over not completing the Trifecta. I will simply acknowledge what I have not done, be grateful for what I have done…

…and turn the page.

I am going to go see my endocrinologist next week; if she has good news for me, I may be inspired to keep running over the winter.

The St. Mary’s Thanksgiving 5K/Prediction 5K/Fun Run-Walk is going virtual again this year. Thinking of a moonlit, pre-dawn sunrise run. I do this every year to signal the end of my running season, been doing this since 2013…the year before my first MCM.

Songs of the Day (WARNING: Possible Repeats inbound)

“Paint it, Black”/Rolling Stones: Last song playing on YouTube before I stepped out for the run. Rest in peace, Charlie…give our best wishes to Brian.

“Turn the Page”/Bob Seger: Okay, the subject matter is away different, but I am going to turn the page on my failed Trifecta attempt. Part of the reason I kept this blog: some days I get Did Not Finish on my runs, and not all the ones I finish are happy events either.

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.”

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.

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.

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”

MCM 2020: I’m Back!

So, today was something of a watershed moment for my oh-so-abbreviated Marine Corps marathon training. Yes, although I have been absent, and I have missed days and weeks of training this summer, I’m still training and still aiming to finish this year’s Marine Corps Marathon.

Today, I ran the St. Mary’s City 13-miler, the same course I ran for the Semper Fi half Marathon waaay back in May (four months ago…Holy Cow!).

One: Longest distance I have runs since may, and the longest distance I have run in my MCM training.

Two: Finished the run. My legs were sore as hell, but I made it across the line. Well, actually, I crossed under the street sign and STOP sign that kinda-sorta make up a “finisher’s gate” at the Green Meadow Drive back entrance into Abberly Crest Apartments.

Three: MapMyRun has been a quiet pain in the a$$ lately. Quiet because I haven’t heard it call out my mile splits in the last three weeks. Today, after almost three hours of running, I pulled out my smartphone to check my final distance and time…and discovered that MMR was on the Settings screen. Nothing of my run was recorded.

Allegedly, I ran today’s run in 2 hours, 48 minutes. Much slower than the Semper Fi Half, and no idea what my pace was, as of this writing.

Four: First time in two months I have run three times in a single week. My goal way back in August was “every other day.” Unfortunately, I have been too chicken to deal with way-too-humid and inclement (rain) weather, so I have been lucky to smuggle two or three runs. I am seriously behind the power curve as far was what distance I am supposed to be at in my training.

All that said, to day I finished. So there is hope!

No long run tomorrow, so I am going to attempt to make tacos al pastor.

No song of the day today because YouTube is acting up right now, and I really need to go shopping.

But, yes, I’m back baby…I’m BACK!!!

MCM 2020: Eastbound and Down

Sooo…about twelve hours ago, I stepped off into the darkness. And man was it dark, with none of the early false dawns that I saw a few short months ago. Didn’t see the first hints of sunlight until Shangri-La Drive of my run.

Long story short, the run was Superwillow 6. Starting from the back entrance of my apartment complex at Green Meadow Lane. Run down to the MD-5 crossroad, then uphill back through Green Meadow and past the Three Fireplugs uphill back up Willow Road north. Run all the way through Shangri-La Drive up to the stoplight, then all the way back down Willow south to Green Meadow Lane.

I was shooting for a twelve-minute pace, given the way-too-long layoff. However, the rust I have been gathering manifested itself on the northern half of my run. I ended up with 14 and 15 minute splits for miles 4 and 5, finishing with a thirteen minute pace.

Wednesday will be sixty days until the Marine Corps Marathon. I am running it virtually this year, here in the Lexington park, MD area, on a self-designed course that will be much more difficult than the annual run through the District of Columbia. the actual run date is October 25, but virtual runners have until November 10, 2020 to submit their final run times.

I am waaay behind on my training mileage, and I was just a lazy bastard all last week. So now I must attempt to implement an aggressive running schedule which has me running every other day until the vMCM. Long runs will alternate between Saturdays and Sundays. One week: Su/Tu/Thu/Sat (long run day), then Mo/We/Fr and the long run on Sundays.

Second, I have to get back to P90X. I have put off butting a dumbbell set for over a month and now it has put me behind schedule.This week will be a rest/refresh course, running the more cardio routines every other day (Mo/We/Fr/Su) and starting P90X Lean next Monday.

Lastly, I have to set run times and stick to them. This week, I am back at the office, so my goal is to be on the road or hitting “play” on the DVD player for P90X no later than 5:00 p.m. (or at least no later than 45 minutes after I get home).

“Miles to go before I sleep…”: Robert Frost

Song of the Day:

Jerry Reed/”Eastbound and Down:

“East bound and down, loaded up and truckin’/
We gonna do what they say can’t be done/
We’ve got a long way to go and a short time to get there/
I’m east bound, just watch ol’ Bandit run

In other words, my running life for the next two months…

MCM 2020: Reset/Refresh

Great Mills 8

0400 reveille as usual. No breakfast, because the last tub of Chobani yogurt in the fridge was three days past its sell-by date, and I did not want to look at mold or get food poisoning this morning.

Dressed and lubed by 0430. Stretched at 0440-0450. Out the door at 0455.

It was cooler than I expected this morning, after running in the humidity all week. As I started the eight mile trek around Great Mills, I noticed the first-quarter moon was out. A good sign.

The goal today was a good, solid eight miles. Not so much worried about the pace, so much as I wanted to feel like zi could go a little further than eight miles. There were a lot of inclines and declines in the eight miles, so no use pressing for negative splits.

I actually felt good over the first four miles, as I rounded the turn from MD-5 onto Great Mills Road. While the splits may not have been with me, I did feel good about the run. I was even able to shrug off not having my Under Armour fluorescent white running ball cap, which I didn’t notice that I had forgotten until just after the first mile marker.

The ball cap serves two purposes: 1) to protect the top of my head from mosquitos, and 2) to help block out the sun with the bill of the cap. The route had some woodlands, but the mosquitos were not quite the problem as they were aboard NAS Patuxent River the last two Sunday. However, as I headed down (up?) Great Mills Road, I realized I was running in the direction of the rising sun…and with no visor to at least partially block it, I could barely see where I was going.

The blinding sun aside, the made the there miles go Great Mills Road with no problem, as I made the final turn onto north Willos Road. There was even a convenient Port-A-John, across the street from Lancaster Park. The stop was a relief, although that may have impacted my last mile split. I just barely made eight miles as I passed the road crossing into Abberly Crest Apartments, topping out at 8.04 mi. as I ended the run.

I finished with no real negative splits, but an acceptable 11:28 pace. Not bad.

 

P90X and Other Stuff

My strategy of performing P90X after the end of the workday went belly up, as I finished late and tired on Wednesday and Thursday. I was already a week late on finishing P90X Lean, but having screwed up the schedule I had to throw in the towel on this cycle.

To be frank, I really have no excuse as to why I didn’t finish. This was the last low stress portion of the cycle, with routines like Yoga X, Cardio X and Core Synergistics, and Cardio X on call for this last week. I was just too bummed out from sitting on telecoms all day to execute anything at midweek. So, not only am I STILL NOT a P90X graduate, but I paid for it on the scale this week with two pounds added onto last week’s total. Looking back, I really could have used the Kenpo X and Cardio X on tap for the Wednesday and Friday runs.

So while the runs are slowly getting back to normal, I am going to take a week off and start P90X Classic next week…maybe.

 

Good news is that I am still healthy and COVID-19 free, although I am still a bit heavier than I’d like to be.

The bad news? As part of my prep for my cataracts eye laser surgery next Monday, I have to have a COVID-19 test this Wednesday. If I don’t hear anything by Sunday night, I am cleared for the surgery next Monday morning. If I get the call, it won’t be just the eye surgery that gets put on hold.

I believe that COVID-19 test has somewhat upset my equilibrium this week. That and the added logistics of my transportation to and from the eye surgery. It can’t be just an Uber driver who drops me off an picks me up; someone has to stay with my at the hospital then monitor me as I come home from the surgery. So, there’s that as well.

It is now almost 8:30 on Sunday night, and I am now just eating my second full meal of the day. Yeah, I’ve got a few things on my mind.

 

Song of the Day: I’m sorry…I have none, and I know it’s been a while since I last posted. YouTube isn’t cooperating tonight.