Archive for the ‘Long Runs’ Category

Hello. I have missed you.

This biker has a full CamelBak of mimosas and *you* in his crosshairs.

This biker has a full CamelBak of mimosas, a heart full of rage, and *you* in his crosshairs. (Source: Elvert Barnes/Flicker)

WEATHER: Not as humid as it could be. Which is pretty damn fine for August.

MILES: 15 or 16 or something like that.

MILES THIS WEEK: 15 or 16 or something like that.

WHERE TO: Up 5th Street a good long while to Piney Branch and then down the Sligo Creek Trail for a while. Then back.

MOOD: [dances]

TODAY’S RUNNING SONG: Same as my last entry:


Oh my goodness, team. Oh my sweet heavenly Goddamn goodness.

We’re back. I’m back. Hello. How are you? I am fine thank you. You have filled out nicely, I see.

Today I did my longest run in maybe…man. I don’t know. A year and a half? My God, the hiatus was brutal.

A variety of things have happened since my last entry. And while roughly 40 percent of my readership consists of the people who raised me and who probably think they hear enough about the personal details of my life as it is, I’m just going to run down the stuff that’s happened since then:

  • I won a marathon. What??!!?!? I know. It still doesn’t make sense to me. (Wait. Yes it does. As in: Fewer than 30 women finished, so….)
  • I had surgery. My constant heel pain is GONE, thanks to a very nice doctor cutting me open and sanding down a bump of bone that had turned nearly necrotic (which is to say: grayish-black, from his description) ([dry heave]).
  • I discovered that my pain tolerance is not what I thought it was.
  • …and that Vicodin is nowhere near as fun as anyone says it is.
  • I stopped running for a while.
  • …and mayyyybe put on a pound or 10.
  • I moved to a new neighborhood.
  • I considered getting a new tattoo nearly every weekend but have still, after two years, failed to actually do so.
  • I changed jobs twice.
  • I got these jeans that make my legs look bonkers.
  • I discovered the joys of the Sligo Creek Trail.

So really it’s all been pretty good. And now I share some of my newfound wisdom with you. I present you a new Running Log feature:


In this installment: The Sligo Creek Trail — 10.6 miles of paved, curvy creekside trail that stretches from Wheaton to Takoma.


  • Nature-riffic. Pretty trees, soothing gurgling water, and as an added bonus, part of the parkway is shut down to cars on the weekends. As God intended for all roads.
  • Fewer scary giant herons blocking your way than on, say, the C&O towpath. And thus we get to experience nature and simultaneously pee ourselves a little less.
  • The occasional interrupting intersection. Ordinarily I’d put this under “negatives,” but interruptions mean rests, which is acceptable as all hell when, say, you’re scarred and out of shape and maybe a little over your fighting weight and also you just need the occasional break, dammit STOP JUDGING ME.
  • Well-trafficked. Makes the whole thing feel safer and a little less serial-killer-riffic than, say, the remoter trails of Rock Creek Park or the farther reaches of the C&O Towpath (which is not to rag on the towpath) (seriously, All Hail The Towpath).
  • Seriously. Very well-trafficked. So if you’re a sweaty monster like some women I know, you get to be publicly disgusting.

ME: [squeezes roughly 16 oz. of sweat from ponytail, pulls Gu from sports bra, suckles it down]


ME: [manic] There are dozens of us! DOZENS. [dry heave]


  • It’s in Maryland. “Man. I really need to go to Wheaton today,” said no DC resident ever. Really, if you live in most parts of DC, you’ve got to go a few miles to even get to this trail. Not a casual morning run destination.
  • No water fountains. Er, very few. Same goes for bathrooms. In this respect, it’s a trail for experienced city runners, by which I mean people who have developed the eagle-eye for a well-camouflaged water source/place to pee. Not even a 7 Eleven in sight, should you get desperate. You have been warned.
  • Maybe a little too well-trafficked? The flip side of not-serial-killer-riffic is crowdedness. Given the lack of bathrooms, first of all, good luck on relieving yourself in the bushes without some scandalized suburbanite seeing you and tsk-tsking you into oblivion. Second of all, this means full families of bikers. Which ordinarily wouldn’t be a big deal, but seriously, most of them inexplicably weave from one side of the trail to the other for their entire bike rides.
  • Seriously, the bikers are suspiciously bad at staying on one side of the trail. I can’t stress this enough. It was just creepily pervasive. Adults, teenagers, children of all ages and bike-riding levels. I can’t even explain this one. The only thing I can think of:

MOM: <sucks down 8th mimosa of the morning> Well, I think I’m ready to get on a bike and go weave in and out of pedestrians’ way on the Sligo Creek Trail.

DAD: <12th mimosa> I don’t know. Are the kids ready?

JUNIOR: <burp> <throws Bloody Mary garnishes across the table>

MOM: Sure seem like it. Pack some waters, will you?

DAD: Why?

MOM: Honey, you and I both know that trail has inexplicably few water fountains, considering that it was literally built for physical activity, which naturally dehydrates people, particularly in our swampy climate, for which some urban planner should feel very, very ashamed.

<pauses, then whispers, dramatically> Very. Ashamed.

DAD: Why don’t we just do another trail for once?

MOM: Because I like my trails like I like my men: gorgeous and free of any public amenities.

DAD: That makes no sense, honey.

MOM: Shut up and get your fine ass into the garage and get out our laughably impractical oversized tandem bike.

DAD: Righto.

[Phenomenon repeats itself in precisely 1 kajillion more households.]

Overall grade: B. If you have the nimbleness to leap-and-roll away when tipsy post-brunch bikers barrel by, it’s pretty great.

And also, dear readers, I cannot stress this enough. It is so. good. to. be. back.

The End Is Near(er)

It's coming. Grab some beers and pickles and girly mags and get into the cellar.

WEATHER: Cold and windy and rainy and a little demoralizing.

MILES: 25?  Many of which involved stomach-clutching awfulness.

MILES THIS WEEK: 25?  Many of which involved stomach-clutching awfulness.

WHERE TO: Crescent Trail, Bethesda, Wisc Ave., back to the trailhead, down the Mall, several detours to several (CLOSED!  YOU BASTARDS!) restrooms, home.

MOOD: Foul.

TODAY’S RUNNING SONG: (Yes, I hate the video as much as you do, but the song puts me in coke-addled 2-minute-mile territory, I swear.)


So I’ve been in a foul mood (and not posting) for a while, largely because of a nasty bout with what I imagine to be tendinitis in my right foot/Achilles tendon.  And as loyal readers know, injuries — even minor ones — turn me into a drooling hellbitch who goes on Netflix-and-enchilada benders.  Granted, I can still run on it, but not without a bit of pain.  Hmph.  Today I found myself actually asking myself:

Whose pants are these in my apartment?

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The Grand Struggle Continues (a.k.a. Why I Do Not Do Triathlons)

Psssshhh. Whatever. You're having WAY more fun than these losers.

WEATHER: Beautiful!  85ish and non-humid and beautiful!  Tralala!

MILES: 15ish.



MOOD: Fantastically excited.


Today we started the hardcore tapering, meaning that this week’s long run was under 20 miles.  Yeah, it disturbs me, too.  But that’s how it goes when you have 13 DAYS UNTIL RACE DAY!  Ohhhh I can’t breathe for the vast quantity of excitement coursing through my veins right now (that and the lack-of-blood-sugar in said veins, as I am waiting patiently at the Apple store for my files to alll back up onto a hard drive and I will have to wait here much longer, apparently, and I haven’t eaten in forever, so that is sort of fiddling with my bodily/breathing/metabolic functions as well) (anyway).

Grandma’s Marathon in 2 weeks.  I am running it this time with the illustrious C., whom you may remember from blogposts of yore.  And if you don’t, you are not sufficiently loyal and you can go straight to hell allow me to give you a quick rundown: C. is a delightful person w/ whom I went to college, and who is now doing Ironmans.

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Recovering from Injury! (Stage 6 — which may be optional — and Stage 7)

Here. Have a lollie.

WEATHER: Warm and sunny and delightful — 72 degrees and not humid.

MILES: 9.5


WHERE TO: Back into Mojo-land.

MOOD: Cautiously optimistic.


First, let me say that I HAVE MY MOJO BACK!  Did I do 23 miles yesterday?  Yes.  Did I receive several facefuls/eyefuls of gnats?  Yes.  Is my chest slightly abraded from carrying Gu packets in my sports bra?  Oh, you better believe it.  Is life back to normal?  <punches air>  Helllls yes!

Anyway.  On to the important stuff: getting over your injury.  You’ve cross-trained, you feel yourself getting stronger, etc., and yet — and yet.

And yet.

The injury isn’t better-better.  It’s just sort of half-assed improving.  And you, as the world’s greatest super happy fun time run run runnerperson ever, do not do anything that isn’t at the very least 90-percent-assed.  But you also don’t need no stinking doctor.  Also, you were sick that day in college where they taught you how to be an adult and how health insurance works, so words like “deductible” and “copay” and “HMO” and “doctor” are still a little mystifying to you.

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Takeaway Lesson: Don’t Go to Foot Locker.

All hail the new blog overlords! (JK, you beautiful folks at TBD. You complete me.)

WEATHER: Flippin’ cold for DC — 17 degrees at running time.

MILES: 23 — first long run of 2011!


WHERE TO: Capital Crescent Trail, Rock Creek Park, hot shower.

MOOD: Cold.


Good news, sports fans!  As part of my tireless effort to whore out your favorite blog, I have managed to get it occasionally picked up by Washington news website  And while they don’t care about my constant blathering about my personal problems or persistent sexual innuendos, they do care about the posts in which I give you valuable and timely information about the DC running scene.

And wouldn’t you know it, I actually have a DC-based running thing to tell you about.

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Know Your DC Water Fountains!

Water Fountain #1! I call this one "Enid."

WEATHER: Beautiful for a night run

MILES: 14ish

MILES THIS WEEK: Bigger than a breadbox.

WHERE TO: Rock Creek Parkway, Van Ness, Tenleytown, Georgetown, etc.

MOOD: No longer sick!  Blammo!


Tonight, I introduce to you all a new and exciting feature to assist you in your Washington, DC-and-surrounding-areas running endeavors:


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The Official Rundown (complete with death threats and Celine Dion)

You're an inspiration to us all, you beautiful Canadian bastard.

WEATHER: Chilly, windy.


MILES THIS WEEK: Erm….13ish.

WHERE TO: Thus far?  Barely a block from home today.

MOOD: Fragile in body, lazy in spirit.  Also kind of itchy.


Nothing in my body is quite back to any sort of normalcy yet since last weekend.  It took a whole three days before I could stand up or sit down without vocalizing.  My walk was particularly pitiful-looking, so much so that my editor at work told me on Monday that, instead of me going to talk to him in his office when he hollered for me (for my workplace is the apex of professionalism), we could just yell across the hall to each other.

As it stands right now, running again is still tough.  I know, I know; I had planned on a luxurious month or so of doing anything but running post-race.  Biking!  Power-walking!  Jazzercising!  1980s Jane Fonda aerobics videos!  Shakeweights!  Learning to play the theremin!  Calming the house thermostat wars!  Working on my issues with relatively innocuous words like “naughty,” “fungible,” and “hosiery”!

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WEATHER: 45ish at running time, gradually warming to 53ish.

MILES: 33.5

MILES THIS WEEK: Who even knows?

WHERE TO: Great Falls and back.

MOOD: Perhaps less embarrassed than I should be.


Today’s embarrassing-running-story is brought to you by…

  • The Great Falls Visitor Center
  • The C&O Towpath
  • Target running shorts
  • Stray tree branches
  • The phrase, “Read to the end before you yell, ‘GROSS!’ and pledge to never read my blog again.”
  • …because (as the title implies) IT’S NOT WHAT YOU THINK.

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Ask a Runner — A Very Special Edition

Behold! The Founding Father of running crazies!

WEATHER: Gorgeous and autumnal



WHERE TO: C & O Trail

MOOD: Exhausted.


I received an e-mail last week from a good friend (and fellow Iowan, so you know she’s quality) who has also been known to go on the occasional run.  She began her missive kindly enough:

“Damn it, woman!  I have done nothing during my prep but read old entries on your blog.  I have a whole pile of grading to do but I just can’t FOCUS and I feel soooo sleeeppy, and you’ve provided such an alluring distraction my willpower just can’t hold up.”

…which just shows you the power of the BLOG, kids, because I am SINGLE-HANDEDLY contributing to the distraction of teachers and decline of the education system.  You’re welcome.

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You don't understand this? Loser.



MILES: Many.


WHERE TO: Everywhere.

MOOD: Happy.


This all started in my high school running days, when I was a part of Podunk Iowa High School’s “Magnificent Seven” — the track team being unpopular exclusive enough to only have seven women on it.  As the resident distance runner, I ran the 3000, the 1500, and the 800.  And with each lap, I ran by Coach P., who would wail, stopwatch in hand as I blew by his corner of the track,


…and then he would go back to his nervous pacing and nail-chewing until I came back.

“YOU GOTTA GOOOO!” he yelled.

Which was a good point, really, because it would not have behooved me to have stopped mid-race.  So go I did.

Anyway, he often yelled my splits at me as I passed.

“1:45, DJ!” he yelled.

OK, said my 16-year-old brain. So multiply that by 7.5 laps, and…dear God, I have to speed up and also find another sport, because I’m going to cross that finish line and vom.  And for what?  A middle-of-the-pack finish, that’s- THAT STUPID BITCH JUST FLAT-TIRED ME I’M GONNA WAAAAAIL ON HER.

“GOOOOOOOO!” added Coach.

You magnificent rhetorical genius, said my brain.

But the tendency to work out complicated math problems also carried over to my training runs. Back when a 6-mile run was a big deal for me, it was a time to clear my head and think on the quiet country roads, and ponder derivatives and slopes and asymptotes and limits and wonder whether, if I ran a little more or aced a few more calc tests as a result of my running more, Tommy Van Der Hagen might finally want to date me, or at least tell his girlfriend to stop calling me “Vag-face” in an unnecessarily loud voice in front of authority figures in the halls, forcing me to body-check her in basketball practice later that day, and then every day for the rest of the season.

“Vag-face, we’re STRETCHING.  The scrimmage hasn’t even STARTED yet,” she would say.

“<forceful-headbutt-to-the-sternum>,” I would respond.

“BITCH!” she would yell.

“I KNOW CALCULUS!!!” I would howl victoriously, giving her a sports-bra-wedgie.*

Anyway. I still like to do math problems in my head while I run, because–not unlike podcasts–it gives me something to think about during long runs other than the steady growing ache in my hip tendons. Below is a sampling of math-AND-running-related problems for you to work out on your next jog.

Work quickly, show your work, grades will be passed out tomorrow.

1) A female runner was jogging along the C & O trail last Saturday, minding her own business, when she struck her clumsy foot upon a rock, sending her tumbling to the ground and scraping skin off of all of her right-side appendages in the process.

(a) Given that the runner is 140 pounds and was traveling at roughly 7 miles per hour, how far did she skid/bounce before coming to a halt at the feet of a kindly-looking running couple?

(b) Given the above weight and velocity, as well as the fact that the wind was from the east at 8 miles per hour, how many times did the woman who picked the runner back up unnecessarily say, “Oh, bless your heart!”?

(c) How many miles can said runner continue without looking at the blood dripping out of her palm and getting all woozy and shaky-legs?


2) A runner is jogging away from her home, which is along a diagonal street, represented by C in the diagram below, a street which is intersected by perpendicular streets A and B.  Said runner wants to get to the other end of side C, where untold running happiness (i.e., Rock Creek Park on the weekends) awaits. Only problem is the innumerable Pervy Perverson dudes hanging out outside of the innumerable liquor stores along street C, who yell dirty things (“I wanna HIT THAT!”) and nonsensical things (“Where the PARTY AT, girl?”) and James-Brown-lyric-sounding things (“Hit it and quit!”).  Said runner does not tolerate drunken harassment from anyone, aside from her housemates, as well as delightfully impressionable young Hill intern dudes, in town just for the summer and out at the bars all night in their brand-spanking-new suits, just hoping to make a friend or two, that’s all, when lo and behold in swoops an older, awkward but charming blonde journalist sort, cooing in a reassuring voice such gems as, “Oh baby listen, was Senator McConnell mean to you?  Aw, that’s too bad.  Have another gimlet or five and walk me home and gimme the DL.”  Awwwww girl.



(a) Assuming the runner wants to avoid street C, and assuming that angle CA is 65 degrees and street C is 4 miles long, how much longer will the new path along streets A and B be?

(b) Using the formula

M = (i^2 + H)/A

…where M is “miles a runner is willing to go out of her way,” i is “how irritated is she on a scale of 1 to 10?” and H is “hotness quotient as determined by the good folks on,” and A is Avogadro’s Number, is this detour going to be worth it?

(c) Said runner is trotting along, when suddenly across a park she sees one of the Pervy Perversons, only to spot, with her finely tuned eyes, a HILL ID BADGE holy God it’s an intern SWARM SWARM!

…so how long will the new route, from angle AB to point 1, take her to run, assuming that she increases her speed from 7 to 12 mph and leaps over a few park benches in the process?


3) Assuming a runner goes through seven gels a weekend, at $1.29 a pop, plus finally buckled a few weeks ago and bought a $50.99 fuel belt (plus whatever the DC sales tax is) and furthermore runs 85 miles a week, buying a new pair (costing roughly $90, again with sales tax) every 500 miles, and also showering twice a day and washing lots of clothes because of her truly remarkably awful running-funk and upping the water bill by $10 each month, how much…no, wait…better question: how hard is she going to have to work to NOT realize that she could be just as happy by spending all that money on a bottle of Jim Beam and a Netflix queue fullllllllll of shirtless-Matt-Damon movies?


4) A 110-pound, 42-year-old female runner has eaten 1200 calories today, most of it in the form of seaweed and wheat germ, and has run 35 miles today, at 6.8 mph, burning 600 calories per hour, and has also drunk 2 gallons of green tea to kick off her weekend master cleanse. Assuming that burning 3500 calories equals shedding one pound and that her body fat composition is 14 percent, will you please punch me in the face if I ever become this person?


5) Let f(x) = (x^2 + 1)/(x+2).

(a) Using L’Hopital’s Rule, what is the limit of f(x) as x approaches 3?

(b) I STILL KNOW CALCULUS! <gives you a sports-bra wedgie>

EXTRA CREDIT: Is Tommy Van Der Hagen still single?

*Don’t know what it is?  Come over here and I’ll show you.