Thursday, April 26, 2007

The George Washington Parkway 10-Mile Classic

Last Sunday was a perfect day for running the GW Parkway Classic 10-Miler. This is a point-to-point race from Mount Vernon to Old Town down the George Washington Parkway which is a scenic four-lane highway in Virginia that runs along the Potomac River. There is a corresponding narrow blacktop running trail along the Parkway that is the situs of several races and is well used by runners and bicyclists, but on this morning each year, runners have use of the broad Parkway all to themselves. (Above: Jeanne, back from photographing runners at the Boston Marathon, was shooting photographs at the finish line of the GW Parkway Classic in Alexandria.)

The runners’ trail is hilly in spots with a few switchbacks up some slopes but the Parkway seems to smooth these hills out. This is deceiving though, as the Parkway is undulating in spots.

Parking is plentiful and free on the streets of Alexandria early on a Sunday morning. By 7 am on race day I was on a bus traversing the actual course in reverse from Alexandria to Mount Vernon. The trip seemed long and the road seemed hilly. Riders joked that the driver must be following the marathon route.

There was an hour to kill when we arrived at Mount Vernon. I went to the water closet three times out of nervousness. I stood in the sun and stretched. I encountered my friend from California Bex and we ran around the traffic circle a few times to warm up and get a little bit of a second wind.

Bex had written a winning essay in the New Balance PR Challenge and won the complete New Balance running outfit she was wearing. If she bettered her 10-Mile PR of 1:31:04 set at the 2005 Army 11.3-Miler, she would win free New Balance shoes for a year. Bex always looks great, always very stylish in her running accouterments. Today was no exception even though she wasn’t in her customary sleek racing skirt.

We swapped strategies. I wanted to get to running 7:30 miles right away and stick to it because I wanted to finish in 1:15. Bex wanted to run 8:00s and then speed up and kill her PR. The race horn sounded and we were off. I lost Bex as I passed the first mile in 6:54. Too fast, I thought. It must have been downhill.

Still, a steady stream of persons was passing me and I was passing almost no one. I must have started too far forward. Oops. I threw away my cotton t-shirt and continued on in my polyester racing singlet. The second mile went by in 7:27. Better. This was straightaway running down a broad boulevard in a forest. The Potomac glittered off to our right. There was plenty of shade. (Right: In the heart of the race. I'm in the white shirt.)

I ran the third mile in 7:35. I wanted to speed it up a bit to settle on 7:30s but the undulations in the roadway were throwing my pacing off. I have a 3-mile race next week where I want to break 22 minutes for the first time. I was pleased to hit MP 3 at 21:57.

Mile 4 must have had an uphill because it went by in 7:56. I really needed to speed it up. Miles five and six were better, 7:38 and 7:35, but I still wanted to be a little faster. Maybe I just didn’t have a 1:15 in me today.

J, a local racing character who directs the monthly Tidal Basin 3K race, passed me. You can hear him coming from a long ways off because he makes a lot of noise as he runs, sighing and groaning. He’s in my age group now that I’ve turned 55 and he’s faster than me, although I beat him occasionally. He often wins his division. It’s always the same, he comes up on me mid-race and goes by me. He passed me twice in this race because after he passed me the first time, he peeled off into the trees for a short break. He finished 68 seconds ahead of me, fifth in our division. (Above: Bex and Potomac River Run Marathon director J on the streets of Old Town after the race, with J, who ran a 1:21 and L, director of the LPRM, who picked up a post-race award for placing in her age group.)

My friend A had done a 1:15:46 (7:35) at Cherry Blossom and I wanted to match her time. I started formulating an end-of-the-race strategy to do so. I needed to hang on here in the doldrums of this ten miler, miles seven and eight, and then attack the last two miles. I thought it was all downhill at the end, which was a mistake.

Miles 7 and 8 weren’t great but kept me close to my goal, 7:47 and 7:37. I sucked down my only Gu for energy. That stuff takes about half a mile to swallow when you’re running. The new Interstate highway bridge was visible in the distance, with Old Town behind it. We passed where the event’s 5K race had started. How fast could I run a 5K with a seven mile warmup? Not fast enough it turned out. I ran the last three miles in 23:14 (7:45).

Mile 9 killed me. It was uphill going over the new highway bridge. Then entering Alexandria and turning towards the water, there was a steeper hill in the distance. It seemed like runners were crawling up it. I started up the hill and MP 9 was nowhere in sight. My Timex Ironman watch was ticking towards eight minutes for the mile. A cop blocking an intersection let two cars, one in each direction, proceed through the intersection in the little gap bereft of runners directly ahead of me. One car driven by a very elderly lady slowly came out into the crossing, hesitated and stopped, blocking our path. Not good. Some runners ran behind her and some ran in front of her. I was brought to a complete halt by this fiasco then I ran around the front side of her car. I passed mile marker 9 on the top of the hill in 8:05 at 1:08:37 for the race. I needed a 7:06 last mile to break A’s time. She had sucked it up and run a 7:11 last mile at Cherry Blossom, but a 7:11 last mile wasn’t going to happen for me today.

The last mile had a short but significant downhill to the water, then the course turned left for the final long straightaway to the finish line, passing the Torpedo Factory along the way. Knowing I wasn’t going to meet my goal of 1:15, I just brought it home in 7:32 for a 1:16:10 gun time and a 1:16:05 (7:36.5) net. Looking down at the ground as I always do when I run tiredly, I ran by Jeanne. She called out to me and snapped my picture. It was great to see her cheering the runners on. (Above: The last 200 meters. Photo credit Jeanne.)

I waited in the finish chute for Bex and snapped her picture when she came in. She PRed by a monster eight minutes. Then we went to stand with Jeanne to watch other running buddies come by. I was bleeding from a nipple abrasion which told me that even for a relatively short 10 miles, I should have applied vaseline to my chest beforehand. But otherwise I felt good. (Left: Bex pushes it home past the mats.)

I finished in 314th place out of 2539 runners. I was 6th in my age group, a top ten percent finish. It was my second best 10-mile time by almost two minutes, although over a minute and a half off my PR. It’s the only 10-miler I plan to do this year, so if I’m ever going to beat A at this distance, I’ll have to wait til next year.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The National Marathon: Recap.

National Marathon Recap: Marathon Training Lite.

Now that I have signed up for the Chicago Marathon, I should analyze what I did to train for the National Marathon last month so hopefully I can improve.

I ran the NYCM on Sunday, November 5, 2006 in 3:52:34 (8:52). I was in pretty good shape for a marathon then, although I bonked at MP 21 and walked at least a half dozen times from there. In the twenty weeks between New York and National, I didn’t correct my most glaring weakness, which is my lack of a mileage base. Here’s a recap of my training between marathons.

4 Weeks of Recovery from New York:
November, 2006
Week 20: 2 runs, 3.8 miles. Yoga twice, biking once.
Week 19: 2 runs, 3 miles. Ran the monthly noontime 3K race around the Tidal Basin in 13:16 (7:07).
Week 18: 3 runs, 9 miles. Ran a tempo 3K (7:16). Yoga once.
Week 17: 4 runs, 11.3 miles. Yoga once.

16 Weeks of Training for National:
December, 2006
Week 16: 1 run, 4.4 miles (7:53), running on the Mall with G, who last week ran a 3:14 Boston.
Week 15: 3 runs, 19.1 miles. LSD of 11 miles (8:46).
Week 14: 5 runs, 24.1 miles. LSD of 12 miles (8:43). Back to my standard of running five times a week. Ran my last race of the year, the noontime Tidal Basin 3K, 13:09 (7:03).
Week 13: 5 runs, 22 miles. LSD of 11.6 miles (8:48). Tempo 3.75 miles finished by running up Capitol Hill (8:09).
January, 2007
Week 12: 5 runs, 22.3 miles. LSD of 7 miles (8:27). I start leading a Saturday LSD group that is gearing up for the National Half-Marathon in twelve weeks, but none of them want to run more than 6 or 7 miles yet. Tempo 5.6 miles (8:11),
Week 11: 5 runs, 22.4 miles. LSD of 13.5 miles (8:40), achieved by running 5.5 miles (8:00) to my Saturday group run and then running 8 miles (9:07) with them. I am very fatigued during the last mile.
Week 10: 5 runs, 17.8 miles. LSD of 9 miles (9:57). Noontime 3K race 13:28 (7:13). One Kickboxing class. The weather has turned bitterly cold for the duration.
Week 9: 5 runs, 21.6 miles. LSD of 10 miles (8:40). Two tempo runs on Wednesday of 5.6 miles (8:06) and 2.5 miles (8:00).
Week 8: 5 runs, 5 miles. Very busy at work. I run a mile five times when I can. 8:00, 7:34, 7:44, 6:48, 6:44.
February 2007
Week 7: 5 runs, 23.3 miles. LSD of 18 miles (8:58), achieved by running 7 miles (9:00) and then seventeen minutes later running 11 miles (8:57) with my group. I was really fatigued the last two miles and although I rallied and passed Bex near the end, she ran me down and finished half a minute ahead of me.
Week 6: 1 run, 11 miles. LSD of 11 miles (8:55). A and Jake finished several minutes ahead of me. I hurt myself shoveling snow.
Week 5: 5 runs, 18.6 miles. LSD of 9.2 miles (8:26). I ran this distance at a Marathon Relay. (Our Washington's Birthday Marathon Relay team. Myself 9.2 miles (8:26), L 7.3 miles (8:27) and D 9.7 miles (8:06). We finished fourth in 3:36:56 (8:17), 3:40 slower than in 2006 when we finished sixth. D ran the third leg 3:24 faster last year than I did it this year.) Last year I ran 9.7 miles at the same relay at a 7:59 pace. This year the wind was brutal but I didn’t have any oomph and I wilted on the last big hill where two other relay runners passed me without any response from me. At least I didn’t walk up the hill. Noontime short 3K race 12:31 (7:07), where I couldn't hold off a late charge by a competitor. My club’s current 10K Group Training Program starts on Saturdays which compounds my mileage problem since I’ll be going 10K distances with them on weekends, not marathon distances. I’m starting to sweat the marathon coming up.
Week 4: 5 runs, 15.7 miles. I do my only track workout 4X800s (4:00, 3:25, 3:20, 3:00). Yoga once.
March, 2007
Week 3: 5 runs, 34.9 miles. LSD of 23.3 miles (10:05), achieved by running 11.8 miles (9:52) then ninety minutes later running 11.5 miles (10:18). The last five miles about killed me. 2.5 mile Tempo run (7:58).
Week 2: 3 runs, 21.6 miles. LSD of 14.6 miles (7:59). I ran this distance at a Marathon Relay with Bex, and we take first in the co-ed division. I conclude from this showing that I am capable of running the National Marathon and I finally sign up for it.
Week 1: 1 run, 1.8 miles. This is the noontime 3K race in 12:52 (6:54) on Wednesday, during which I hold off a competitor late. On Saturday I run a 3:50:22 (8:48) at National. The last 10 miles are miserable. I need more base.

Totals for the 16 week training period leading up to National:
Sixteen Weeks 64 runs (4 per week).
285.5 miles (17.85 per week). One week of over 26.2 miles (week 3). Avg. of 4.46 miles per run (including LSDs).
Long runs: Eight runs of 10 miles or more. Breakdown, longest runs first:
23.3 (Week 3, 11.8 miles, 90-minute break, then 11.5 miles)
18 (Week 7, seven miles, 17-minute break, then eleven miles).
14.6 (Week 2) (Race)
13.5 (Week 11)
12 (Week 14)
11 (Week 6)
11 (Week 15)
10 (Week 9)
9.2 (Week 5) (Race)
9 (Week 10)
7 (Week 12)
One track workout. No hill workouts. Seven races.

I think I need more miles.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I'm Going to Chicago!

The Chicago Marathon is one of five World Marathon Majors. It’s going to be run on Sunday, October 7, 2007. It’s already full.

How does this happen? The race increased its number of entries from 40,000 last year to 45,000 this year. And it filled up last week, almost six months in advance of the race.

After doing the National Marathon four weeks ago, I took a little time off to reflect on whether I wanted to do another marathon in the fall. I recovered quickly from National, however, to the point where only two days ago I ran a 1:16:05 at the GW Parkway 10-Miler, which is just ninety-one seconds off the PR I set at Army last fall when I was in peak form.

My friends have been talking up Chicago to me. It’s flat and fast, they say. I liked the sound of both those things, because the hills really bothered me the last ten miles at National, and I’m only five minutes off a BQ. (At dinner at a steak house a little while after National, celebrating Jeanne's recovery from surgery, Bex's long Half, my marathon and A's Cherry Blossom. I can't remember if we were talking about Chicago, we were probably talking about food!)

By last week, I had decided to sign up for Chicago. I ran New York last November, another Major, and I loved it! (It helped that I am from New York City.) But New York is not a BQ-friendly course.

I fell hard for Chicago. Doing another Major would be cool, I thought. I would be in the same advanced "C" starting corral with some of my friends, most of whom I can keep up with, at least for awhile. We would be ahead of the mass pack of runners. That’s one of the things that sapped my energy at New York, the congested condition of the course for the entire 26 miles. All that sideways running wore me out.

I tidied up some outstanding matters. Two weekends ago I found all my tax documents and filed for an extension. I got my birthday celebration out of the way. (Thanks for the calls, notes and presents, kids. Not!) Last Wednesday I ran my monthly noontime 3K race at the Tidal Basin. My "pressing" tasks completed, I was ready to make my commitment to Chicago.

A half hour after I returned from the Tidal Basin run, A came into my office to tell me Chicago was closed. It had filled up that very day.

I was stunned. I felt like I did the day during my divorce when I came home and found court papers tacked to my door announcing that my minor children were supposedly suing me, supposedly over a "fiduciary" matter. (The case was ultimately thrown out and their Mother was sanctioned, and then assessed all of my appellate costs, almost $50,000 in all. Sadly, years later my now-majority age children still don't see me or speak to me.)

Jilted, I cast about for a substitute. I got excited about Steamtown for awhile and it’s net downhill of almost a thousand feet. I ogled at its elevation (or declination) chart. But, Scranton? Someone told me it's where the NBC series "The Office" is based. I didn't see the draw.

But like an ongoing stormy romance, I received another chance. A came into my office this afternoon and explained to me about charity running. She too was kicking herself for not registering for Chicago in time, but who among us knows what they are going to be doing six months from now? No one knew the race was about to fill up.

A registered for Chicago last year, got injured and had to scratch. She ate her entry fee. The purchase of a $100 t-shirt, was how she termed it. And the shirt sucked, she added.

A had been talking before Chicago had closed about maybe running for a charity. She had found a qualifying charity that benefitted two causes she felt deeply about, education and helping persons from impoverished circumstances.

This charity still had seven entries available for Chicago. The charity required a commitment of $500 worth of fund raising. Whatever you don’t raise, you owe. Paying that amount would be a body slam but it wouldn’t be a death blow (some charities require a commitment of several thousand dollars).

I was seduced. Every marathoner should run for a charity at least once, I figured. I used my American Express card for the $110 race entry fee. I used my Capital One card for the $500 charity commitment. A took my forms and her forms off to the fax machine.

Now there are five slots left for A Running Start Foundation instead of seven. It’s a wonderful charity, folks. It’s going to be a wonderful race.

Monday, April 23, 2007

A Little Ten Mile Run Along the Potomac.

A Challenge Accepted-and the Winner is...A.

Yesterday was the George Washington Parkway Classic 10-Mile Race in Alexandria. My friend A challenged me to beat her Cherry Blossom time of 1:15:46 (7:35). I knew it would be hard to beat. (A and her fast friend B after A ran a 1:15 at this year's Cherry Blossom. B ran a 1:03. Why don't either of them look tired?)

Here were my splits. Mile One-6:54 (6:54) Mile Two-7:27 (14:22) Mile Three-7:35 (21:57) Mile Four-7:56 (29:53) Mile Five-7:38 (37:32) Mile Six-7:35 (45:07) Mile Seven-7:47 (52:55) Mile Eight-7:37 (1:00:32) Mile Nine-8:05 (1:08:37) Mile Ten-7:32 (1:16:12).

Long story short–I was undone by my disastrous eight-minute-plus ninth mile, which had two hills and during which I had an encounter with a car that brought me to a momentary halt. I finished in 1:16:05 (7:37). Congratulations, A, the excellent standard you set was just too tough for me yesterday and I fell short by less than twenty seconds. I tried all race, but I lacked two beats per mile.

Perhaps I’ll post a race report later. Post race notes:

(Nice try but... when I finished I needed for the overhead clock to read 1:15, not 1:16 if I was gonna beat A's time.)

MP 3. 21:57 (7:19). I beat my PR of 22:09 (7:23) at the 3 mile distance, set at last May’s Capital Challenge 3-Mile Race. This augers well for the same race next week when I again run on my agency’s team in competition with other teams in the Executive Branch (the brochure explains that this race is so old, 26 years, that it pre-dates the contemporary 5K "standard"). My goal next week, besides finishing ahead of A who is also on the team, is to break 22 minutes. (Three fifths of my agency's team at last year's Capital Challenge 3-Mile Race. Left to right, A (22:04), M ( 21:22), G (19:14). Yeah, that's right, they were all faster than me.)

MP 7. 52:55 (7:34). I beat my PR at the 7 mile distance of 54:17 (7:45), set last June at the Survivor Seven Inner Harbor 7-Miler in Baltimore, an absolutely gorgeous race.

MP 8. 1:00:32 (7:34). I have always wanted to run an eight mile race. There are a few around. Now I see that I could break one hour for the distance, maybe. Up until a couple of years ago, before I got into group running, I couldn’t even do a 12K (7.456 miles) in under one hour.

MP 10. 1:16:05 (7:37) is my second best 10-mile time, out of eight races. My PR is 1:14:34 (7:27) set at last year’s Army 10-Miler. My least fastest time is the 1:29:57 (9:00) I posted at my first 10-Miler, the 2002 Cherry Blossom. I still remember how hard I ran that last 200 meters trying to break 1:30.

A few posts ago I told you about M, who is really cool and did a handstand at the finish line at last year’s Army. She took second in her age group at the event's 5K race. (M in red with black tights doing a 1:21 at Cherry Blossom.)

Bex met her New Balance PR Challenge and PR’d by around eight minutes. I think she gets new shoes for life or something on account of it. I know she got a nice jacket out of it already.

Jeanne, just back from Boston, was taking pictures for the local running paper. She is looking forward to a return to running soon after a layoff.

(Bex in her nice new jacket and Jeanne after the race.)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The 399th Tidal Basin 3K

I ran the free monthly noontime 3K race around the Tidal Basin yesterday. After we had a moment of reflection for the 32 victims of that cowardly loser at Virgina Tech, we ran the race and I finished in 12:59 (6:58), in 27th place out of 57 runners.

The race is put on by my local running club and is held on the the third Wednesday of every month. It was the 399th consecutive running. That makes it over 33 years old, maybe. I say maybe because some "lost" races were discovered awhile ago, which added to the total, and occasionally a special running is held, like the race on September 11th, 2002, run in memory of the 184 victims who perished when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon the year before. (Wearing a shirt honoring the fallen heroes of FDNY, I finish the 2002 9/11 Memorial Tidal Basin 3K run in front of the Jefferson Memorial in 14:14 (7:38).)

I myself have run 66 of the last 75 races since I ran my first one on 5/16/01 in 13:05 (7:01). I hate to miss them. Of the nine I have missed in the last six years, I missed two because I was on vacation, five because I was on work travel, one because I was at my own Equitable Division Trial (equitable-yeah, sure), and two because I was in the middle of important conferences at work. If the work conference isn't important, I just leave.

I view the race as a monthly speed workout. I jog the 2.5 miles there, sprint 1.8 miles around the Tidal Basin, and then run back to work. Fortunately, my building has shower facilities and my agency believes in fitness.

I keep trying to talk my friend Bex into running one of these races. You know, go mano a mano in an all-out sprint to see who's faster. She always gives me the old yeah yeah, sure sure, but she has never shown.

I try to make it a rule not to tell people I don't think I can beat about the race, but I'm not very successful at this. I told G, a co-worker, about the race and he liked it so much that he is now a regular. He just ran 3:14 at Boston. Do you think I made a good choice by telling him about it?

I also told my running buddy A about it and she has shown up three or four times. She also beats me every time. She even won it once. But she always pulls me along to a better time whenever she comes. She's tall, over six feet, and I remember one race where she was going hammer and tongs with some guy who was running beside her on the narrow footpath the whole way. I was trailing along behind them thirty yards back and I was keeping up but I couldn't catch up. The old route had a lot of low-hanging cherry blossom tree limbs across the path and you had to bob your head to go under a branch about thirty times every race. Whenever they ran by a tree, this guy crowded A to the outside where the trees were and the overhanging branches were the lowest. She would have to fall back to avoid braining herself, then catch back up to him. This went on the entire race until the last 500 meters where the course crossed the broad plaza in front of the Jefferson Memorial. I guess they duelled to the finish line in a sprint across the plaza and she took him because she logged a 12:40 and he placed one second behind her. I finished in 12:52 (6:54), in time to see her stroll by the guy in the recovery area and stick her tongue out. At him. That's A for you, unabashed. (Caught on tape: A and her wagging tongue ran a 12:40. And that's my friend G behind her, he of the 3:14 Boston on Monday, who ran an 11:53 in this race last summer.)

This isn't a race for the thin-skinned because you're probably not going to do well. The same good, motivated runners show up every month to bury you. I regularly run a 6:54 to 7:40 pace and I just as regularly finish in the lowest quartile. Fortunately there are some octogenarian men and sexagenarian women who regularly run whom I can usually beat, and sometimes a tourist comes to run it that I can beat as well.

It was at this race that I learned that with kids, if they start out fast and purposeful, they're not likely to come back to you. You won't reel them in, they'll just beat you badly. For awhile a mother was bringing some home-schooled kids to every race. It was their PE, I guess. These nine to twelve year old kids just added to the swell of runners who beat me every month.

But this short fast race makes me better and I love it. Did I mention it's free?

After the Fifth Anniversary 9/11 Special Run last year, with forty-seven runners participating and the press in attendance, the cops moved in. I guess they were tired of the small heap of water bottles and sweatshirts being left unattended for ten minutes beside the Jefferson Memorial once a month. With the publicity generated by the presence of the press, the race was becoming impossible for the authorities to ignore.

The National Park Service Police summoned the race director in and told him that any gathering of over twenty persons on National Park Service land, which encompasses the Tidal Basin and it's footpath, required a permit. Oh, and did he know that a permit had never been issued for the Tidal Basin? They didn't care, post 9/11, about the hallowed tradition of the race or the venerable nature of the course. Security, you know. The two factions worked it out amicably though. Maybe Republicans and Democrats can get along post November elections after all.

The race used to run around the Tidal Basin on the footpath alongside the water. Now it runs around the outside perimeter of the Tidal Basin on the sidewalks next to the streets. (The narrow footpath around the Tidal Basin is adorned with beautiful cherry blossom trees which present low-hanging obstacles to unwary runners.)

I liked the old course better, running right next to the water and watching tourists scatter as they saw a body of sprinting men bear down upon them on the narrow footpath. The new course actually has a hill on it, over by the Tulip Library. But it's the same distance and the same good noontime running once a month. (The new course now has a hill.)

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Shakespeare as a Birthday Treat

It's my birthday today. I turned 55 so I'm moving up an age group. I'm leaving behind people I can't beat, but joining others whom I also can't beat. Moving age groups just poses different problems, particularizes your poison. As the late Vonnegut said, So it goes.

There was a steady drumbeat of rain all day today, so I didn't go out to run today. This is the same system that is going to bedevil the runners at the Boston Marathon tomorrow. A few years ago I would have ventured out in the blustery raw conditions and run, but not today. So it goes.

A friend of mine gave me a birthday present of two tickets to anything I wanted to go see. I chose the Royal Shakespeare Company's presentation of Coriolanus at the Kennedy Center's Eisenhower Theater.

Coriolanus is a play I haven't read nor had I ever seen it. I knew little about it other than that it takes place in Rome. We didn't study it or discuss it in my two semesters of Shakespeare in college.

It was pricey, $138 for two seats in the balcony. The accents of the English actors took a couple of acts to get used to. I grumbled to my companion that they should have learned American accents before they came over. I saw from the look of disbelief she gave me that she didn't realize I was kidding. She's originally from Long Island where they're much more cultured than us provincial kinds who hail from Staten Island.

The Eisenhower Theater, although it is a soaring arena, has a cozy seating area consisting of a main floor section and a balcony, with loge boxes in between. The stage is deepset with an apron that projects out into the audience. The sight lines are good and the sound is fantastic in the balcony.

The production was excellent. The sword fights were fast-moving and ringing. Larger battles were well depicted by noise and projecting giant shadows upon the wall from somewhere off-stage. William Houston as Caius Martin (Coriolanus) was very good. The aristocratic Coriolanus, a strong heroic character, a pure noble warrior, is the foil used to show the populace, the rabble, as either clownish, or dangerous, or properly wary of meglomaniacs, depending upon the era of the producers.

The lighting was superb. Scene changes were accomplished by focusing a spotlight upon a character as the set was changed, then suddenly the rest of the stage would be illuminated to show the complete scene. Until the denouement, the deep stage was always partitioned by curtains that limited the sweep of the presentation and channeled the action. The penulimate scene used the entire stage for the first time, lit with an erie dimpled effect to simulate night just before dawn. The hero, Coriolanus, a formidable warrior and past savior of Rome, is a proud, stubborn man, autocratic and unbending. He abhors the common people and makes known his contempt for them. He so despises them that he refuses to answer any of their questions about his actions or his deeds. He is a decider who owes no explanations to anyone.

But Coriolanus in his blindness and headstrong ways gets banished from Rome. He has turned treasonous in reaction to these personal slights by Romans and led an enemy army to the very gates of the defenseless city. However, Coriolanus' strong-willed mother, Volumnia, successfully implores him during a nighttime visit to act properly and give up the war and throw over his new allies in order to save Rome. The opening up of this proud man's narrowset and stubborn mind is eloquently symbolized by the scene's wide visual sweep.

Volumnia tells her rigid son: Thou know'st, great son, The end of war's uncertain, but this certain, That, if thou conquer Rome, the benefit Which thou shalt thereby reap is such a name, Whose repetition will be dogg'd with curses; Whose chronicle thus writ: 'The man was noble, But with his last attempt he wiped it out; Destroy'd his country, and his name remains To the ensuing age abhorr'd.' Speak to me, son: Thou hast affected the fine strains of honour, To imitate the graces of the gods; To tear with thunder the wide cheeks o' the air, And yet to charge thy sulphur with a bolt That should but rive an oak.

Thus moved, finally, the inflexible Coriolanus replies: O my mother, mother! O! You have won a happy victory to Rome; But, for your son,—believe it, O, believe it, Most dangerously you have with him prevail'd, If not most mortal to him. But, let it come. Aufidius, though I cannot make true wars, I'll frame convenient peace.

He suspends the unjust war and achieves peace. It costs him his life but he suffers his death nobly, inflicting it upon himself in order to right his wrong. Even his enemies mourn his passing.

The parallels of Coriolanus to the current Decider who owes us no explanations for anything are obvious. My sage theater-going companion said there's a reason that this production, about a rigidly autocratic leader subjecting his country to ruin through his misplaced hubris, was selected by a British ensemble to be presented a mere eight blocks from the White House.

At one point, in discussing whether to elevate the imperial Coriolanus to consul, the mob receives this caution from the tribunes appointed for them: Or let us stand to our authority, or let us lose it. Shakespeare is timeless. Echoes of this counsel can be heard in Benjamin Franklin's warning: Any society that would give up a little liberty to attain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.

I think the key difference between Coriolanus and the current Decider is that Coriolanus was truly valorous and duty-bound, whereas I can't assign valor to the Decider (everybody saw him fly desperately around the country for hours on 9/11 looking for an ever deeper hole to hunker down in) and his sense of duty hasn't always been strong (nobody knows where he was during his duty days with the National Guard while Vietnam was raging) and now he seems more hidebound than dutybound (repeat after me-stay the course). Coriolanus in the end was able to own up to his mistaken ways which saves his county and restores his own honor and glory. However, we all remember the current Decider's knit brow as he tried to think of one single mistake he had made during his tenure (he was stumped). Coriolanus deserved at least to be heard out, this present Decider, not so much anymore.

The Kennedy Center is a wonderful place, situated on the Potomac with nice views from its broad outside veranda of Georgetown, the Watergate and Roosevelt Island. Inside are wonderful venues for the opera, music, the theater and other cultural mediums as well as historical exhibits.

I had a wonderful birthday. And thanks, Coriolanus was splendid! (Oh boy, Shakespeare at the Kennedy Center! That's a statue of Don Quijote in the background.)

And no, on my birthday I didn't hear from any of my three sons ages 18 to 21, the same as on Christmas, Thanksgiving, Father's Day, my last birthday (shall I go on?). They reside nearby with their Mother and I haven't seen them for years now, even though I always had full joint legal custody, have always supported them and have plain vanilla visitation. Running is a huge reason why I have been able to get through this.

Stop here if you don't want to be depressed by a bunch of divorce stuff. My children stopped seeing me on March 26, 2003. That was the day the court, after a full evidentiary hearing, termed a lawsuit "they" filed against me "harassment," tossed it out and sanctioned their Mother almost $9,000. The lads as minors had been made parties to a "fiduciary" suit which had brought them into the on-going divorce action five months earlier. (The then-13 year old was too young to be suing his father, so he was represented on the papers by his Mother as "next friend.") The court found the petition to be an attempt by their Mother to interfere with my relationship with my children and called it "unseemly, unconscionable, and totally uncalled for."

Litigation would go on for another two years when their Mother filed an appeal. The appellate court, labeling the appeal "procedurally barred or without merit," affirmed the sanction and remanded to the trial court for an award of my "reasonable expenses in defending this unjustified appeal." Although I can never get back the four wrenching years I spent ensnared in nuclear litigation, after another full evidentiary hearing on my costs, during which the court found my lawyer's fees to be "both fair and reasonable," I collected almost $40,000 more from their Mother in 2005.

In my opinion, the down-the-rabbit-hole world of domestic law was revealed when one of the lawyers, who signed the appellate brief that led to the extraordinary fee assessment, sent a letter to my lawyer afterwards calling his fees "a disgrace." My lawyer, who prevailed, charged $300 an hour and submitted his bills to me, an adult. The lawyer with the unbelievable chutzpah, who also mostly conducted the hearing that led immediately to the large sanction and largely argued the losing appeal as well, charged $425 an hour and submitted his bills of over $22,000 to my children.

The case, in my opinion, epitomized what the domestic law arena has become, at least in Arlington County, Virginia. A place where mere lip service is paid to best interests of the children while everyone lines up at the trough to extract money as rapidly as possible until the estate is utterly depleted and the family is utterly destroyed.

My children don't speak to me anymore, an absolute verification, in my opinion, of Parental Alienation Syndrome ("PAS"). So it goes.

As for me, I cope by running. As for my sons, unfortunately the Opinion is on-line and comes up on the very first page whenever anyone Googles the full name of any one of my children. Good luck with future dates, fellas.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The National Marathon. Review: The Last Six Miles.

The National Marathon Review. The last 10K was...a chore.
If you do marathons, you gotta do this race.

My splits.
MP Split Time Notes
1. 7:49 (7:49)
2. 7:45 (15:51) Down Capitol Hill.
3. 7:57 (23:49)
4. 8:11 (32:49)
5. 8:11 (40:11)
6. 8:11 (49:12)
7. 8:12 (56:35)
8. 8:14 (1:04:50)
9. 8:33 (1:13:23) Up the hill on M Street NE.
10. 8:04 (1:21:28) Half Marathoners split off in SE.
11. 8:38 (1:30:06)
12. 8:28 (1:38:30)
13. 8:40 (1:47:10) Over the Frederick Douglass Bridge.
14. 8:35 (1:55:46)
15. 8:42 (2:04:28) Through the 9th Street Tunnel .
16. 8:51 (2:13:20)
17. 8:53 (2:22:14) Passing Lincoln.
18. 9:49 (2:32:03) Up Rock Creek. Gu stop.
19. 9:31 (2:41:35) There's an incline in Rock Creek Park!
20. 11:04 (2:52:39) Walking the Calvert Climb.
21. 9:49 (3:04:51) My last walk uphill.
22. 9:48 (3:12:07) Up past the McMillan Reservoir.
23. 8:46 (3:20:54) Downhill.
24. 9:15 (3:30:09) The pace group passes by.
25. 9:15 (3:39:25) I attach myself to the pace group.
26. 9:12 (3:48:37) Looking for RFK.
.21. 1:59 (9:04) My pace for this two tenths.
3:50:22 (8:48) My National.

The first twenty miles. I arrived at Milepost 20 in Adams Morgan, with its cheering throngs of spectators (Adams Morgan turned out, bless them) at 2:52, an 8:38 pace so far. (Left: We went from down there to up here in about 200 yards during the Calvert Climb.) My pace had fallen a lot in the last seven miles from my halfway pace of 8:15 down by the new stadium. (Right: We ascended these heights by climbing up the Calvert Climb.)

The old saw goes that a marathon is a twenty mile warmup for a 10K race. RFK and the finish line was 6.2 miles away. The race was strictly business now, the business of finishing it without wrecking it. It was no longer fun and the next hour would tell. (Below: After the Calvert Climb we still had to climb that up ahead. The view up Calvert Street towards Adams Morgan from the Duke Ellington Bridge.)

Gone was my hope of breaking 3:45, left behind on the incline in Rock Creek Park. Still within my grasp but fading quickly was my hope of beating 3:50. Still beckoning was breaking my PR at last November's NYCM of 3:52:34, although it would be close. More realistic, but not a certainty, was meeting my new standard of beating four hours.

The last 10K.
MP 21-12:12 (3:04:51). I had walked up the Calvert Climb out of Rock Creek Park on 24th Street NW. The climb on Calvert Street to Columbia Road was much less severe and I had managed it pretty well because I was familiar with the road, having run it several times. Turning left on Columbia and running past MP 20, I left behind all familiar terrain. I had never run up here before and didn't know what to expect. It was uphill, that much was plain to see. (Left: Turning up Columbia Road after The Climb and the climb up Calvert Street. A few more hills waited up here.)

I debouched from Columbia onto a long uphill stretch on Harvard Street. Its length was visually intimidating and I broke down into a walk for the second time. After 50 yards I started running again. I was going to wreck my race right there if I started to cycle in walking breaks. I went by the Red Bull Energy Drink stand but didn't take any of the proffered elixirs. I remember thinking it was odd they were handing out energy drinks here at the top of the race at MP 21, rather than at the bottom of the race at MP 19. I missed the milemarker so at 12 minutes I punched my Timex to keep my splits correct.

MP 22-7:15 (3:12:07). I ran by the McMillan Reservoir. I had never seen this body of water before, nor even knew it existed. Running past it was uphill, as always seems to be the case when running by water is involved, but then I crested a slight ridge and started down Michigan Avenue. It was rolling hills up here but I knew from studying the topographical map that a two mile downhill stretch was half a mile away. I couldn't wait for it and its promise kept me moving forward. I took a right onto North Capitol Street and the slight downhill grade lay before me, enticing me onwards like the Sirens of Titan. This was a short mile because I missed milemarker 21, so I had no idea how I was actually doing in terms of pace.

MP 23-8:46 (3:20:54). Downhill is better than uphill. I had wanted to fly down this long decline of North Capitol Street but now my feet were striking the pavement hard, keeping my speed in check. I was too tired to do anything with the downhill. In several places the roadway dipped under an overpass, presenting an uphill section on the other side. Runners around me were walking up those short stretches. I was tempted also, but here is where I took back my race. I powered through those uphills and just kept looking for mileposts. I knew one stretch of a series of turns was coming up and then I'd be in the vicinity of RFK. This stretch was the dogs days of the marathon.

MP 24-9:15 (3:30:09). I turned onto K Street NE. From the elevation chart I knew the long downhill was over and there were several rollers down here. I was really fading, thinking that I could walk it in from here and still do all right, get my 3rd best time even if I missed breaking 4 hours. I had given up on breaking 3:50 because I knew I couldn't do two and a quarter miles in 20 minutes. I had no oomph left. The 3:50 pace group ran by. I recalled reading running blog accounts where runners late in marathons had let their opportunites slip away and just a few minutes later they were ruing the irreversible effect of their momentary hesitation. This group was led by three Naval Academy students and had five or six men with blank expressions hanging on within it. It was a moving wedge working its way down the tail end of the race, destined to hit the finish line in three miles at the appointed time of 3:50. My desired time. I stepped into the spot right behind and between two pace setters. I watched the back kick of the end one and tried to stay where her heels had just left the air on their swing forward. I was so close it probably bothered the hell out of her. I was in her space. But I was desperate that no separation occur, otherwise I was afraid I'd lose her and the group and miss my PR by seconds after almost four hours of running.

MP 25-9:15 (3:39:25). We ran silently on. Ghost runners in a ghost group. We were definitely running past people though. I ran by my only spectator in the whole race, Jeanne, who had come from her hospital bed to encourage me on at H Street NE and 4th, just past MP 24. Her hail to me boosted my spirits. Thus energized, I hung with the pace group another half mile. Then I let them go. I was spent and couldn't keep up anymore. They had served me well, ensuring my PR. I hadn't squandered the opportunity the pace group had presented to me. There, near MP 24, stepping it up when they went by me and hanging with them for five or six minutes, was the key to my successful marathon. (Above: The 3:50 pace group at MP 24 on H Street NE at 4th Street NE. Look at those roller hills in the background! Photo credit Jeanne.)

MP 26-9:12 (3:48:37). Running alone again, I was trying to pick up my pace near RFK, anxiously looking for the stadium. I was back in an area where I had run before so I knew I wasn't far away from the finish. Determination was powering me now because my training hadn't been long enough or good enough or hard enough to take me this far. I kept thinking, Last mile. Keep at it.

.021875-1:59 (3:50:22). In sight of RFK, I passed the final milepost on the last long curve around to the plaza fronting the stadium where the finish line was. I thought about how long it would take to do one turn around the track at Washington & Lee High School in Arlington on the club's speed workout night. I could run a lap in 88 seconds there. I did the math. I wasn't going to break 3:50 in this race. I still brought it home as hard as I could to assure myself of meeting my bronze standard of a PR. I ran across the finish line in 3:50:22 net time, 3:50:39 gun time, bettering my NYCM mark by 2:12. (Left: Finally finished. So, umm, do you think my running shorts are too baggy? My good friend S gave me my Red Chili Pepper Socks as a present at the NYCM Expo. They're hot at least.)

After the race, I had some pizza and Stella Artois in Capitol Hill with my running buddy A and her friend L, who had PR'd in the long Half. That was some good recovery repast. A, good friend that she is, patiently listened to my long boring account of the morning's run while I unwound, even though she was tired from having stayed up late the evening before to attend the Snow Patrol concert at the Bender Arena.

Man, I liked this race. Three weeks later I have come to the conclusion that, aside from the NYCM (I grew up on Staten Island where it starts), this was my favorite marathon. I liked the way the course took us through all four quadrants of the city. Of the scenic urban marathons I have done, Columbus was nice and flat and I had family there, Twin Cities was beautiful being on the Mississippi and running by the lakes and all, Baltimore was, well, hilly, and MCM was nice but it doesn't actually go through the city a whole lot, but this marathon occupies a dreamy part of my mind already, right there alongside New York. (Right: DC Mayor Fenty finishes in 4:08.)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

RIP, Kurt Vonnegut

How Dresden died.

They went Indian file. First came the scouts, clever, graceful, quiet. They had rifles. Next came the anti-tank gunner, clumsy and dense, warning Germans away with a Colt .45 automatic in one hand and a trench knife in the other. Last came Billy Pilgrim, empty-handed, bleakly ready for death. Billy was preposterous–six feet and three inches tall, with a chest and shoulders like a box of kitchen matches. He had no helmet, no overcoat, no weapon, and no boots.

[Billy (Vonnegut) and the clumsy anti-tank gunner, Roland Weary, survived this nomadic backwater of chaotic disaster in the Battle of the Bulge, and the clever and graceful scouts didn’t.]

Billy was helped to his feet by the lovely boy, by the heavenly androgyne. And the others came forward to dust the snow off Billy, and then they searched him for weapons. He didn’t have any. The most dangerous thing they found on his person was a two-inch pencil stub. Three inoffensive bangs came from far away. They came from German rifles. The two scouts who had ditched Billy and Weary had just been shot. They had been lying in ambush for the Germans. They had been discovered and shot from behind. Now they were dying in the snow, feeling nothing, turning the snow to the color of raspberry sherbert. So it goes.

[Billy also survived the firebombing of Dresden, the fire hurricane that killed tens of thousands of Germans in a single night. He was being held there as a POW.]

He was down in the meat locker on the night that Dresden was destroyed. There were sounds like giant footsteps above. Those were sticks of high-explosive bombs. The giants walked and walked. The meat locker [Slaughterhouse-Five (copyright 1968, 1966 by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.)] was a very safe shelter. All that happened down there was an occasional shower of calcimine. The Americans and four of their guards and a few dressed carcasses were down there, and nobody else. The rest of the guards had, before the raid began, gone to the comforts of their own homes in Dresden. They were all being killed with their families. So it goes.

[It affected Vonnegut profoundly. This is war and shouldn’t be rushed into lightly or falsely.]

A guard would go to the head of the stairs every so often to see what it was like outside, then he would come down and whisper to the other guards. There was a fire-storm out there. Dresden was one big flame. The one flame ate everything organic, everything that would burn. It wasn’t safe to come out of the shelter until noon the next day. When the Americans and their guards did come out, the sky was black with smoke. The sun was an angry little pinhead. Dresden was like the moon now, nothing but minerals. The stones were hot. Everybody else in the neighborhood was dead. So it goes.

Kurt Vonnegut, 1922-2007.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Back to Work

Some winter. It snowed last night. In December and January it was unseasonably warm, then a deep freeze descended upon the area for six or eight weeks. Now, snow in April. (Here's what I woke up to this morning.)

It's been two weeks since I ran the National Marathon and I feel fully recovered, which is encouraging. I don't think my conditioning was the best for a marathon because I started having real trouble after the sixteenth mile. But that's a marathon for you.

Time for work. Now it's time to get back to work. Normally I run five times a week. I don't worry about distance so much as the discipline of getting in five runs a week of some distance each week.

Week following the marathon: 2 runs, 10.5 miles.

Frolic and detour. I resumed running following the Saturday marathon by running 5.5 miles in 58 minutes (10:33) on Thursday with my weekly noontime running group at work. Since I lead it I get to set the route, which is usually 4 or 5 miles on the Mall. This time we went on an outing to South Capitol Street SE to take a look at the new ballpark being constructed for the Nationals. It impressed me when I ran by it for the first time during the marathon. (Nats new stadium arising on the north bank of the Anacostia. The Frederick Douglass Bridge is in the background.)

Easy on the legs. On Saturday with the other coaches, including coach G who also ran National, I ran 5 miles with my club's 10K Training Group (TKG) in 47:30 (9:15). (The TKG on the last Saturday in May. Compare this picture with the one below from the first Saturday in April. Coach K, last year's Director of the TKG and club Volunteer of the Year, is on the left.) The run left from Fletcher's Boathouse in Georgetown where the C&O Canal Towpath and the Capital Crescent Trail converge. We chose the softer dirt surface of the C&O Canal this time and ran west along the Potomac River. The TKG is getting ready for a 10K race on May 20th.

Last week: 5 runs, 8.7 miles.

Lent? Last Sunday I ran a mile in nine minutes from where I parked my car in Arlington to the Memorial Bridge so I could see my NYCM running buddy A, getting back to running after an injury, run under 1:16 at the Cherry Blossom 10-Mile Race. (A bringing it home at MP 9 at the Cherry Blossom.) Afterwards we went with her friend B, who ran under 64 minutes, and others to The Diner in Adams Morgan to celebrate their good times. A lively debate broke out at the table over whether someone who had given up alcohol for Lent was breaking their fast if they had a Bloody Mary on a Sunday. (My vote was no, you got a free pass every Sunday during Lent. Or at least, that's what I remember from my Episcopal church from my childhood. No one else at the table had heard of this.)

My version of speed work. Since I'm really busy currently at work plus I was still in recovery mode, on Monday I started my home-grown version of speed workouts around my house by running an easy mile (8:15) on Railroad Avenue nearby. I could feel all my aches and pains breaking up as I loped along. Tuesday I got home from work really late and ran a hard mile (6:49) on Railroad Avenue in the dark.

Playing tourist. Wednesday I led the noon run at work on a Cherry Blossom viewing trip around the Tidal Basin, 4.7 miles in 39:40 (8:26). (Right: The Cherry Blossoms peaking on Sunday, April 1st. No foolin'.) It had rained hard early that morning and the Cherry Blossoms, which were so beautiful on Sunday, had mostly been knocked down. (Left: No, that's not me. That's co-worker M during the Tidal Basin sightseeing run. Not only is M faster than me, but he also has more hair than me. Notice the large number of Cherry Blossom petals floating in the water, rimming the basin.)

My best mile in a while. Friday I ran a hard mile (6:34) on Railroad Avenue. Since my best mile is 6:25 which I did in 2001, I was pleased with this effort. It showed me I have some residual conditioning left.

Today: 9 miles in 1:14 (8:13).

Snow in April? This morning I awoke to a dusting of snow on the ground. I met A early at Fletcher's before my Saturday morning group run, and we ran 3 miles on the C&O in 24 minutes (8:00). Her dog Jake was a riot. When A dropped his leash Jake picked it up in his mouth and ran alongside us holding it. And when we approached another runner with three dogs on leashes, A took the leash back from Jake but the other dogs all broke away from their handler and came bounding over. A little snarling scuffle broke out but control was imposed when the the other runner arrived and took back her dogs' leashes and we were off again. Who says training runs aren't exciting? (Stay I say!)

When the group showed up with coaches K on hand and Bex arriving shortly thereafter, K led the group on a 5 mile run on the Capital Crescent Trail, the better to stay out of the wind blowing along the river. (The TKG this morning. Jeanne is in there. Cold, anyone?) I ran ahead with A. We ran 6 miles in 50 minutes (8:20) and returned to the pleasant surprise of bagels brought by Jeanne. It was a really good nine-mile training run, albeit with a 10 minute rest between the two segments. A good start for getting underway training for the 10-miler later this month which I signed up for.

Afterwards A and I went to Eastern Market for brunch where we each had a Brick (an egg sandwhich with potatoes and bacon or sausage thrown in) and Bluebucks (blueberry buckwheat pancakes with maple syrup). A paid me the compliment of saying she likes that I eat junky food like she sometimes does. That's why I run, I quipped, so I can continue eating like I always did.

Playing tourist, part 2. After I left Eastern Market, I parked on South Capitol Street and walked over the Frederick Douglass Bridge in the biting wind so I could take some pictures with my throwaway camera of the Nats' new stadium under construction. I already said, a couple of posts ago in my account of miles 13-20 of National, that seeing the stadium under construction for the first time from the bridge was a tonic for me during the marathon. And does that bridge ever shake when heavy trucks rumble by! (It's slated to be replaced as part of DC's $611 million public giveaway for the Nats Stadium project.)

I was walking around on the far side of the Anacostia River in deserted Anacostia Park, retracing a short bit of the marathon route, when I was accosted twice in 5 minutes by the National Parks Police. First a uniformed officer in a marked unit drove by me, stopped and rolled down his passenger side window as a signal he wanted to talk to me. Dutifully I went over and he wanted to know what I was doing walking around there with a camera. What was I taking pictures of? He was asking, he explained, because of 9/11 and all. His eyes bored into mine.

I knew better than to say, I'm taking pictures of the bridge! So I said, The new ballpark. I didn't want my camera confiscated for photographing something verboten and I figured the uncompleted stadium was a better answer than the bridge which carried traffic over it. I surpressed an urge to say, Are you kidding? A guy walking around in a park in DC with a disposable camera is suspicious? I love our paranoid new post 9/11 world, where picture snapping provokes suspicion. (Does this picture look subversive? The view from the other side of the river. You can see both the Washington Monument and the Capitol in this picture.)

The officer was blocking traffic so he drove off and as I walked back towards the bridge to mount it again, there was the other one, waiting for me in a sneaker unit. He got out when I approached. He was in civilian clothes and he carried a radio in his hand. He introduced himself as Agent such-and-such of the National Parks Police and asked the same questions about what I was doing there with a camera, saying he was following up for the other officer. He was carefully watching where my hands were in my jacket pockets.

I gave him the same answers I'd given his compatriot, but then I felt an overpowering urge to add some unnecessary chatty information as he stared at me. So I told him about seeing the ballpark during my marathon run two weeks ago and how much I had wanted to come back and photograph it and how much I liked ballparks, etc. I really loaded up on the unnecessary quotient. When I prepare witnesses to give sworn testimony, I always tell them to never volunteer information. This was a classic case of, Do as I say, Not as I do.

However, fortunately I didn't talk myself into a spot in the back seat of this officer's car and he let me proceed on my way, saying that I looked familiar to him. (Maybe he watched the marathoners go by two weeks ago?). So I walked past the "Sidewalk Closed, Construction Zone" sign on the bridge's sidewalk as he watched (uh-oh, I thought) because I had to get over the river to get to my car, and that was the end of it.

Both officers were extremely courteous and never asked for any identification. I don't think I was under arrest so I wouldn't have had to give it to them anyway, right? But I used to be a cop so I know how it's done. Back then, whenever anyone asked me, Am I under arrest?, I would always ask them, Do you want to be? That never failed to get them to talking until I found out what I wanted to know.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

The 2007 DC Cherry Blossom 10-Mile Race, an early report

35th Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10-Mile Race.

Here in DC, the Cherry Blossoms are already at a delicate beauty. And today we had our internationally renowned Cherry Blossom 10-Mile Race. It was exciting to see!

The last time I looked, the results still weren't in. But I do know that Teyba Erkesso of Ethiopia posted a world record today. (Dropping the chase group at MP 3.) I was on the Memorial Bridge at MP 3 and I saw her go by. She was by herself and the rest of the elite women pursuing her were already 30 yards back. Over the bridge in Virginia, they ran around a traffic circle and came back to the District via the same bridge. This time time the small pack pursuing her was 50 yards back. You go, girl! And she did, into the record books.

I was there to watch my NYCM running buddy, A., run the race. She had a hard fall and winter, recovering from a stress fracture in her foot. It was her first race since her layoff and she was placed in a seeded corral because she's pretty fast. She went by me on the bridge at a little over 22 minutes and I shouted out in encouragement, Go, A., you're doing 7:10s! Her look was withering. Try 7:40s, she shot back. Never lie to a woman.

Think racing isn't exciting? I next set up at MP nine and a quarter. Well before fifty minutes, four elite men came flying by, bunched together in a loose ball. Who would break out and win? Would the people three minutes down the road be treated to a finish worthy of the 2005 NYCM? I still don't know and I can't wait to find out.
(Above: The elite men charging homeward a little after the ninth mile. They are overtaking an elite woman who started ten minutes before them. One of these four would win in under fifty minutes. Which one?)

A. came by and finished at around 1:15:40 or so, a great time in her recovery from injury. When she passed me less than a mile out, I chased her for a moment on the sidewalk alongside the road and shouted at her to go! Beat those men around her! Good move (another withering look). Thus alerted, the men sped up. Think racing isn't exciting to watch? She ran a great race. (A. and Jake training in DC during the cold snowy winter for the 2007 Cherry Blossom Run. Jake pulled out at the last minute. The weather conditions during the race were ideal.)

By the time A. came by, my friend Jeanne had long since come and gone. I'm sure her finishing time was fantastic too, especially since she is coming back also, from recent surgery. I can't wait to get her official time.
(Not Born to Run pursuing the leader in the 2007 Cherry Blossom 10-Mile Race just before she got serious and threw off her warm-up clothes. Go to her blog to view her finishing push.)