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.


Just12Finish said...

Nice post and pics Peter. Who needs CNN when I can get my visual updates from you?

jeanne said...

eastern market!? brunch?! nice. :)

interesting encounters with the cops. I saw many a "suspicious" person (read: person with a camera, not looking like a tourist) on the Memorial bridge this summer, and they never seemed to be bothered by any cops. i say you should dump the camera and start taking jet flying lessons. apparently, that's an activity available to anyone.

Bill G said...

Hi Peter- thanks for your post on my blog a while back. I decided that I was just too sick to keep on running, so a 2 week break led to a full (somewhat) recovery and I'm back at the running (albeit a little slow).

m said...

Thanks for visiting!

Never heard of Sundays off in Lent. (i like that idea though) We are always given dispensation on St. Patricks Day. I'm sure if I looked into it I could find a LOT of other Saint's days to bend the rules.

I wish I had the time and energy to run 5 days a week also. Right now I'm lucky if I get three in.

Keep up the great work!