Did somebody say fat?

What happened to me this week? Who knows. I skipped running Tuesday for the sake of more sleep. I told myself I'd do it Wednesday.
This morning it was raining so I opted instead to go to the fitness center; but I read the paper too long, had to take out the garbage, walk the dogs, etc. so put my workout duds in the car for an after work workout.
Come whistle time and my good buddy Doug - who I haven't tipped a beer with in four months -calls and we end up at the pub instead of the fitness center.
I got home around 800 and weighed myself - before dinner - and was shocked to see the scales read out eight pound more than I like. Holy donkey poop balls.
I did pick up my half marathon packet today and bought some Cliff Blocks. Does that count for anything good?



First let me say that I must not have as active a life as the rest of you. I thought I was plenty dang busy over Thanksgiving break but I still found plenty of time to visit the blogs to see what you folks were doing. Crickets.

Well I raced and ate Thursday.

Went to the car show on Friday. Mrs. T wants the new VW convertible, the Eos, badder than she wants anything else about now. Son T wants his Sentra back in 18 months. Son C wants his first car - and not just any car - to impress the world. I just need to get to work and back. I may be heavy into the car buying business over the next two years. Ugh.

Saturday was a lazy day with some football watching.

Sunday I ran long with nine other folks. Just about all of them are in training for this Saturday's half marathon so the run was serious. I set my watch on timer/repeat so I could track 9:50 easy pace miles. I hit them perfectly for 8 miles then dropped the pedal and raced to the finish over the last two miles. Covered the full 10 in 1:37.

I am looking forward to the race. After my good showing in the 5K on Thursday I am hopeful for a strong performance over the longer distance. I'll be shooting for a PR to beat whatever the time is over there on the right margin.

Tuesday I'll do some speedwork and not much else before Saturday. I have to go out of town at the end of the week.

I hope you're all fat and happy from the holiday. It'll tide you over until Jon comes back online.


Turkey Jag

Racing. I hit the road (driving) at 645 to head on down to downtown O-Town for the Turkey Trot 5K. I was fueled with a plain bagel and the magic blueberry jam and a cup of coffee. Beans were in my pocket just in case.

It was a nice 47F outside with the sun rising over the treetops - in the east no less. I took a nice warm-up lap around the track at the school where I parked.

Over 3,500 came out to run, no less that 50 of them, it turns out, were former or current Winter Park Cross Country team runners or parents. At the post race mob scene the orange and black was everywhere.

I managed to get tucked in towards the front of the start line pack. The collective body heat kept the chill down. Too many runners were overdressed, I thought, with tights, hats, gloves, double layers, etc. I had on my short sleeve shirt and shorts. I knew it would be fine once the sun rose enough.

The start was clean and not crowded. I was a tad stiff but loosened up quickly. I sensed my pace was high. I pressed on my thumbnails to regulate the breathing. I found myself passing some of the WPCC team alums who were clearly out of shape or training. I wondered how far I'd go before walling myself.

I had my timer set for 7:50 mile alarms. I reached the first mile in 7:53. Nice.

The second mile was slightly downhill. I passed 2 miles feeling strong and fast. 7:38. Wowzer.

The turn for the third mile came sooner than I thought. So did the home stretch turn. I was just cruising along feeling like I was on a high. Third mile: 7:48.

Last tenth: :46.

Across the line in 24:05. A "qualified" personal record. Man, did that feel good.

The PR was actually my second best time ever. The other PR was an insane 23:26 I did in August 2005. I remember just screaming through that race in the summer heat but to have cut :51 seconds off my previous PR was too weird. I accepted it but wondered whether the course was short.

Today I was sure of the distance and proud of the effort. I was ready for some football.

Turkey Bowl. Five families including mine and a handful of other young 'uns get together each Thanksgiving morning for a rousing game of two-hand touch football. We counted off and became Teams 1 and 2. Late arrivals were drafted onto the field in no apparent order. Team 1 ended up with 12 on their side. We only had 10 but it really didn't matter.

Everybody ran around with absolutely no set plays and a lot of laughing and joking. And in a record of achievment, for the fifth straight year, there were no injuries. I will have to say that my thigh muscles and others used to pivot and lunge are a bit sore today. It's a lot different than running.

International Relations. We had Kremena, the internation business major student, from Bulgaria, over for Thanksgiving family dinner. It was nice to share the feast with someone so curious about American customs. For me, it was a great excuse to get out the Atlas and tour Bulgaria on the maps and learn about a place I may never see in person. I love maps.


Glorious running weather

I don't know how it is where you live but today was a great day to run. High 40s rising to the low 50s with a sunny sky and no wind.

I ran yesterday too in similar conditions but waited until it was warmer - late morning - to do six miles.

Anticipating a need to follow my own advice in a half marathon shared with Susie, I thought I should practice what I preach. On my six miler I ran three miles then raced the last three at 5K pace (or close to it).

Today I did the same thing except it was over 12.3 miles (9.3 + 3 fast). The Sunday running club was a chatty nine when we started and dwindled to three by the time I finished.

When I got home I lay on the bedroom floor with the blinds pulled back so I could soak the warmth of the bright sun as the dogs licked the salty sweat off my skin. I fell asleep after awhile and when I woke up to take a shower I came to realize that dog slobber actually leaves a coating on the skin that I suspect is a natural dressing [...and in a blatant effort to attract comments I am using the Runner Susan tactic of posting pet pictures].

If you are like me the three day work week coming up is going to be low impact brain exercise. I am looking forward to Thursday, the Turkey Trot 5K, Turkey Bowl cross country alumni tag football game and a fair amount of consumption.



I went to the track Tuesday. Oh, how I have missed the track.

The sun was coming up over the tree tops. The sky was a stream of morning colors. The Army reservists were out in the parking lot forming up for their Tuesday PE session. The trash cans were full of empty water containers from the pre-dawn marathonfesters. The track was empty and mine.

I have resumed training again. The plan called for 2x1200, 4x400 and 4x200. Since it was my first track visit since the marathon I stuck with target times as opposed to blowing all tanks at puke-speed.

My targets were to go at 8:30-mile half marathon pace - or better. That meant 6:00 1200s, 1:56 400s and :55 200s. No problem. Oh they felt so good.

6:01 & 5:58; 1:50, 1:54, 1:55 & 1:52; and :53, :53, :54 & :51.

I can't wait for next Tuesday.

Idle thought: If the internet went down for a week, can you imagine how many more pregnancies might result?


Back in the saddle again

It was actually moderately warm and humid yesterday when I met up with Rachel, Cathy, Bob, Dave, Gary and Marty for our Sunday morning long runs. I almost left the shirt in the car but opted to stay decent for a change.

We took the 10-mile course around town. Marty dropped out at four miles. Gary turned off at six. Dave turned around at seven leaving me with the girls and Bob. We had a fun time running in alternating pairs, chatting a little.

The ladies are training for Disney and will also run the OUC Half on December 2 which I plan to do too.

I pushed their paces on the back four miles which they appreciated. I couldn't believe how good I felt. The ten went down like a banana split. Mmmm. I haven't had one of those in a long time.

I will resume my training regimen with speed work on Tuesdays and tempos on Thursdays. There're some races to get ready for. IMG Georgia on March 25 seems to have some strong appeal. Any takers? (Runner Susan and Rachel have already spoken up)

Celebration. About 2 pm I headed up to where the cross country team was prepping for their parade. Windows were being painted. Signs and banners hung from cars and trucks. Flags, balloons, streamers, etc. About 60 cars wound their way through town for an hour and ended up at my friend's house for a party.

I was designated chef since my friend's hubby had an uncompromising obligation that took him away from the party. I cooked about 100 burgers on the grill while the coach and several kids got thrown in the pool and otherwise had a good time.

Sleep. I knew it would happen. I was sitting here last night about 730 reading blogs and my eyes kept closing. I went to bed at 745 and slept for 11 hours. Now I have a serious case of bed head and eyes that are "glued" shut. But, boy, do I feel good now.


Did they win States?

Running. I ran Thursday morning for four miles. It felt good once I warmed up. I was surprised to find my right knee still hurts a little when I run; at least when I started running. By two miles it was reasonably pain-free. And I shouldn't call it pain either so let's just say that the odd feelings in my right knee are not invisible to my senses.

I plan to go for 8-10 tomorrow (Sunday) really easy-like. If it goes well I will start speed work on Tuesday and tempos next Thursday and prep for the Turkey Trot 5K and Dec. 2 half marathon.

Racing. You'll remember both my boys ran high school cross country. They've graduated but I haven't. I "adopted" a friend's son (11th grade) and daughter (9th grade) to keep my interest personal.

Today were the state championship finals. My friend and I left the house at 600 and drove 90 minutes to Little Everglades Ranch in the middle of rural west Central Florida. The ranch is 2000 acres of rolling hills and oak trees. On the ranch they race horses on a track that has the contours of the region: a few slopes and hills. It was a beautiful place with a specatator grandstand with terraced levels for viewing and an elevated porch right at the finish line. You could see the entire course from up there....

....if you could see it at all. From the first race at 800 you could barely see the track in front of you because of the morning fog.

The gun sounded about 800 meters away but it took a minute before you could see them coming. For that first race we had no idea how nice the track looked. The Winter Park girls finished 5th which was up from 11th last year at States.

The boys' race was at 900. By then the fog had burned off and you could see everything. The championship was up for grabs among five or six teams including Winter Park. They finished first in districts but third in regionals earlier this month and last. My friend's son was an alternate so did not run.
The starting seven got out strong and stayed in a pack through two miles. Six of them were in the top forty-five runners. The finish stretch was an uphill killer. Our #1 came through the 5K in 16:53. Our next five came in at 17:00, 17:03, 17:04, 17:04 and 17:08. They finished smartly and scored 150 points.

The margin of difference between first and second was four points. The team stood off in a field waiting for the coach to come tell them the results. They were confident and hopeful. He walked towards them holding up four fingers. We watched from a distance thinking at first they finished fourth. Then when they didn't hang their heads but kept listening intently to their coach, we thought maybe they missed winning by four points.

Then you saw the most heart-warming fist-clenching jubilant celebration ever as he told them they'd won by four points. The scene was incredible. Parents, teammates and other runners ran over and were hugging, high fiving and screaming with joy. It was worth the trip over, that's for sure.

This was the fifth state championship for our high school in six years. From 2001-2004 they won back-to-back-to-back-to-back championships. Last year, because of some injuries, they didn't even make it to States. When they took the podium to receive their medals, trophy and applause they stood proudly; and on cue, turned around to show their backs, keeping their trophy facing forward. Coach had planned ahead to deliver a message he believed was appropriate if his boys could pull off the win: "Remember Us"

A question and a statement. Oh yeah! See all the pictures here.

The parade is at 200 tomorrow afternoon. It is an unofficial unsanctioned cacophony of horn- honking cars that drive all the streets and boulevards of Winter Park that have eaten so much of the synthetic soles of these kids' running shoes for the last six months. It started in June with more than 40 of them putting in 500 mile summers plus the rigorous in-season training and races.

They ran in the Manhattan Invitational up in New York last month and found their stride. It all counted today and they were ready. They won it all.

Go Park.


Damn Yankee I am

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Northeast

Judging by how you talk you are probably from north Jersey, New York City, Connecticut or Rhode Island. Chances are, if you are from New York City (and not those other places) people would probably be able to tell if they actually heard you speak.

The Inland North
The Midland
The South
The West
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes


I haven't run since Sunday. Maybe tomorrow.

I did several hours of cross training which involved switching channels between CNN election coverage and (mostly) VH1's Top 100 hits of the 1980s. Now I am exhausted.


I'm back

Richie put it out there. Recovery week is a blur.

Monday. Knees creaking. No stairs please. Flight home. My bed. Early.

Tuesday. Work. Ugh. Looking forward to a massage at 430. Sherlene calls and pushes it to Wednesday. Okay. I'll survive. Knees were sore when I got up but once they were moving the soreness went away.

Wednesday. Tired. Massage. Analysis of the knee problem: glute muscle in right butt cheek was source of foot cramps. All connect to the ITB which is what went wack at Mile 25. Figures.

Thursday. Thought about running in the morning but found rolling over a more desirable option. My chest is slightly congested so I am playing it safe.

Friday. Really tired. Went home at 500 and chilled out, finishing up my MCM recaps for the blog.

Saturday. Had a quiet morning. Went shopping for food while Mrs. T went shopping for clothes. Son C called and invited himself out for lunch and a haircut, on me. That was nice. He then borrowed the car. I went to bed at 8pm.

Sunday. Okay. It's time to run again. The Turkey Trot 5K is on Thanksgiving and I have a half marathon in four weeks; plus the inaugural ING Georgia Marathon in March is not that far off.

I went up to Park Avenue at 700 to meet the running gang. A visitor from Ottawa found us on the internet and joined in. We were 10 and many training for the OUC Half on December 3.

The first steps were an awakening. There was definitely some surplus gunk in the legs to shake loose. After about a mile I felt a surge and took off for about 100 yards. It was like blowing out the carbon on a vintage Jaguar XKE. After some teasing from the group I slowed down and worked my way back and forth among the three sub-groups making friendly conversation and giving my accounting of the MCM.

At the 4 mile water stop I found out everybody was going 10 or more miles so I knew they were going to stay slow and steady. I had committed to myself not to go more than six. When we cranked up again there was a pair of fast BQ girls coming up behind us and I knew they would be passing us. I determined that I was not going to let that happen.

For a mile I pushed myself and stayed ahead of the ladies until my turn off. Thoughts pinged off the roof of my skull about how I was running hard this day to make up for my shortcomings in Washington last Sunday. I was out for redemption.

Once I peeled off I kept going hard until my knees reminded me they'd been plenty abused just a week ago. I lightened up the last half mile and cruised in to the finish. It felt great to finish in a running posture. I plan to do that some more in the weeks ahead.

NYC Marathon. I IM-ed with son T in New York who was watching the NYC Marathon on WNBC TV New York, live. He kept me up on the leaders while I fussed over the ING NY Marathon web site trying to track a buddy. The site was not very cooperative. Did anybody else find the tracking to be faulty?


MCM Photos

Me and Bex at RBF Dinner

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
See the rest of the pics here.


Left to my own devices

MCM Part 3
11:13 a.m. - 2:00 and beyond

11:13, Tidal Basin. I was still moving through a headwind along Independence Avenue straight to the river. I downshifted to a slower pace on the premise that I needed to conserve and take care of myself for another 12 miles. I made the turn at the Potomac and slipped around through some quiet parkland to the edge of the Tidal Basin. Spectators were thinning out but there I was jogging along and I heard, "Hey, Mr. Thomas!" and I looked over to see Eric, the son of some of my best friends in Rhode Island. I knew he was in DC for the race to watch his girl friend run. I hardly expected we'd see each other. That chance meeting and greeting made me feel good. I had another fan right after letting Michelle go. Mile 15 - 10:55.

11:24, Jefferson Memorial. I concentrated on smooth strides and as little up and down as possible. I felt good and I was looking forward to the Hains Point experience ahead of me. I equated it to my silent lonely long runs. I passed the Jefferson Memorial just before reaching Ohio Drive. Mile 16 - 11:05.

11:35, Ohio Drive. The drive was more of a lane. There was little distraction other than the occasional runner who stopped in front of me and walked. I was still running but extremely thirsty. I started to feel cramps in my feet. I successfully ran through them at first. We crossed Buckeye Drive just before mile 17 - 12:05.

11:47, Hains Point. It was a mile to the point with a water stop halfway there. I had been sucking on Gu to rev me up some more but my thirst was strong. The lane had narrowed. The golden leaves on the trees in the park that bordered the Potomac were glorious. A sculler was out on the water gliding in some slight chop. The forecast wind must have been behind me. I could hardly feel it. There was a golf course on the other side of the course. This was a peaceful and tranquil place. It was not as grueling as I feared. The water stop was congested. I walked with everyone else and drank water and Powerade. Beyond the stop I shuffled to the point and mile 18 - 13:06.

12 noon, The Long Road Back. Once I turned back towards the district I felt more cramps. This time they forced me to walk. I tried to follow the lead of some Gallowayers to at least give me some structure to my revised plan. The walking gave me energy when I ran. Mile 19 - 12:29.

12:12, Finally Running. The next mile passed another water stop with more walking and finally a return to humanity and fans. As I ran off Hains Point there were very narrow running lanes due to the many fans crammed on the sides to cheer their loved ones. Minding my own business, I trudged on when all of a sudden I saw Susie standing in front of me. I couldn't resist running up to give her a hug and shake David's hand. I asked if she'd seen Michelle. Yes. Just a little bit ahead of me (she lied). How did I feel. I said something like I was okay and getting along fine. She snapped my picture and I moved on. 14:03.

12:26, 14th Street Bridge. I was thinking about how I only had a run around my lake at home to finish the race. That wasn't a far distance. Then it struck me that there were no long boring bridges around my lake. I was struggling some more and was embarassed when Eric from the Tidal Basin encounter saw me again and I was walking. Oh yeah. It's a run, I said and started up again. The foot cramps were becoming more regular and even though Mile 21 was over the river it was nowhere near the end of the highway to Crystal City. 14:10.

12:40, Marines World. I was approaching the four hour mark in the stretch and started calculating my chances for a finish time. I had five plus to go and, at my current pace, I had to only hope I could beat the Miami Marathon time of 5:00. Coming down into the Crystal City Street Spectacular I only noticed two things: wind and Marines. They were more prevalent at this water station for some reason. Maybe it's because I was walking through it. I missed the mile mark and hit the split a little late. 15:00.

12:55, Beer is Good. I had my last Gu before the water stop and soon thereafter came upon the beer oasis. I was still running but I stop for all beer. Even better, some guy was offering potato chips which have lots of salt which I believed might relieve my foot cramps. I took as much as I could carry. The mile went down to the turnaround and back up. There thousands of fans in this area with some sponsored interactive displays and a band to make it seem alive; far more so than the bridge. Mile 23 - 14:13.

1:04, A boring mile. I was not drawing any karma from the loud crowd as I left Crystal City, passing the Marines at the same water station and looping over the interstate towards the Pentagon. I kept alternating runs with walks. Running as often as I could, I raised my pace to give my legs a different feel. Sometimes I find that helps. 14:39.

1:19, Pentagon. I have two miles to go and it's starting to look iffy about beating the 5 hour time. I need to cover the next miles a little faster. The route around the Pentagon was boring with no fans and a lot of police. The sun was beating down and there was asphalt as fara as the eye could see. The road started to swell up and down too. 15:27.

1:34, Crippled. I approached the last mile in a blur. I could not calculate any numbers. I was concentrating on moving forward with the others around me. They did not inspire me either as a lot of my neighbors were walking. That included a Marine wearing an 8th Tanks shirt. We kept passing each other between our walks and runs.

I came along Washington Blvd. to the ramp leading down to Jefferson Parkway. The grade was steep and my right knee revolted. It could not run. I tried. Really I did. What do you do in such situations? I remembered Miami and the pains there. I had vowed then and again now not to race hurt and never run another race. I walked the last mile with my head hung. 21:30.

1:56, Iwo Jima. The turn up to the Iwo Jima Memorial was the last straw. I had every expectation and hope that my walking the 26th mile might afford me enough strength to run the last .2 and across the finish line. As I looked up the hill and stepped forward I felt such pain in my knee that I had to stop and walk up sideways. At the finish I feigned a jog for the cameramen (it worked) and crossed into MCM oblivion. The last .2 - 4:54.

2:01, Done. I got in the queue to receive my finisher medal but was happier about the Marine who gave me an orange. The LT gave me an cut one which I stripped of its skin over the next 20 minutes while devouring the sweet fruit. I headed off to the Autism tent to retrieve my bag. I put on my warm ups and weaved toward the mighty crowds of Ft. Myers Street. My first observation was a lot of folks sipping beer so I followed their drip lines and got a beer of my own. From there it was off to the farthest end of the street to the X-Y-Z meet-up zone, hopefully to find Michelle and anyone else.

I got there and found Richie and Bex with hubby E. It was windy and we exchanged a few race impressions before they headed out. Before they left I spotted Michelle and the Studdlies just a few yards away. We all said hey. A few pics were snapped. I retrieved my clothing and cell phone from Hubby before I hugged Michelle goodbye.

I stood around a little while wondering about Jeanne and Susie. I walked back a little ways thinking I might see them. The Finish Festival was too crowded and I was keen on getting home. I called both ladies and left messages. With hardly any battery strength left I saved my calls for Gil so to coordinate an extraction from the area. It took some time but we were successful. While I waited I had final phone calls with Jeanne and Susie. Au revoir my friends.

I might run this race again some day. I will definitely run another marathon, maybe the new one in Atlanta in March (hilly).


Running with a Running Chick

MCM Part 2, 8-11 a.m.

805. The start line inflatables are icons for how huge the Marine Corps Marathon is for runners. The announcer is telling us it's the fourth largest crowd in marathon history (anywhere). Music kicks in to pump up those of us who might possibly, per chance, still be calm. Ha!

Jeanne and I work our way up the side of the elite runners, the fast runners and the almost fast runners; beyond the Scarlet group altogether. I glanced once or twice at the crowds to see if Bex or Rich are there. Ha again! I see an ambulance in the middle of the runners over the crest of a rise, still a ways up. I am heartened and lead Jeanne on.

810. There's the ambulance. It's the only one around and it has '14' on it. Where's Michelle? I give Jeanne a hug and wish her well. She trudges off to the deepest end of slow pace group runners. I head to the side and look around. No sign of Michelle. I flip open my phone and it rings and rings. Finally she answers and we both start waving our arms in the air to find each other. AHHHHhhhhh!
815. Marines show off their new airplanes in a flyover. Big prop birds. I am curious what their specialty is. I leave my cell phone with M's hubby. He and Dad look relaxed and prepared. Michelle looks confident and focused. I fall into that mentality too. We bid adieu and wade out into the crowd to avoid the barricades down range from us. We kill time talking about our strategy. My watch is set for 9:50 timer repeats. We both expect a slow start and plenty of chances to catch up and maintain the smooth and strong race pace to reach our goals. We both believe we can do it.

840. We move up to the corrals vacated by the Scarlet wave that has already begun. I am wishing I had a 50 gallon garbage bag to haul off all the left behind sweatshirts, caps and gloves. In fact, I think that thought several times over the next two miles as we come across dropped duds for a long ways.

855 Rosslyn. We start, heading out of Arlington Cemetery to Rosslyn in a big slow wave. I avoid clothing, lines of walkers blocking the road, slow runners and the usual congestion of a big race. We stay together and look forward to heating up a little so we can drop our extra clothing. At an overpass, Michelle's hubby and dad were up there all alone. We waved and hollered and Dad unrolled his handmade cheer sign but held it upside down. We and everybody else starting hollering to him to turn it over. We snickered our way under the bridge and he still had it wrong; but eventually the runners behind us all cheered as he finally got it right. That was a hoot. The first mile we took for what it was - slow 11:11.

906 Lee Highway. Traffic was jammed along the highway as we ascended the most serious hills of the course. The road was smooth but the crowd was tough to navigate. There was one runner pushing a three seat jog stroller, two seats filled with kids and the other with supplies. Brave man, he was. At the crest of the hill we reached the two mile marker in 10:55. I was starting to perspire instead of shiver.

917, Mile 3. We zipped through some wide streets with a few slopes and turned downhill to run for the river. The road was becoming less thoroughfare and more residential so we were liking it. Closer to target, we hit the mile marker at 9:59.

927 Key Bridge. The crowd around us had that weekend long run frame of mind, it seemed, cruising along; some feeling frisky and passing in a flurry. There were no spectators, just a shady down slope route to water. I asked Michelle when she expected we might see Hubby and Dad again and she told me they'd be at the Key Bridge. We started to strip off our gloves and top shirts in anticipation. I jumped the road onto a grassy shoulder at one point to pass a slew of slowpokes. M followed. It reminded me of cross country and then of uneven ground and sprained ankles. I got back on the road. Mile 4 and M's men were right at the bridge along with a bevy of supporters. A quick stop to drop clothes went quickly and we had our first on-pace mile of 9:50.

937 Georgetown. Crossing the bridge was pleasant. We were able to cool off finally and the crossing was quick and scenic as we gazed upon the approaching architecture of Georgetown. A sweep down the main business street included a lot more cheering fans, a Starbucks we entertained a thought to stop at, and a realization that we would not be back to Virginia for awhile. Before long we hit Mile 5 in 9:55. M said it was time for Gu.

947 Orange Mile 6. Michelle started talking about the "next port-a-potty" but each one we passed had a line. While in the loop of roads that put us on Rock Creek Parkway I indulged in some orange slices offered by volunteers. Soon we were climbing the gradual slope up through Rock Creek. Fans were along the route cheering, the most successful situated under overpasses where their cheers echoed off the concrete. First wave runners were already coming back down the parkway as we went up. We found some pace and my timer beeped sooner than before as we crossed the marker in 9:22.

956 Rock Creek Parkway. How much prettier could it be running in this park with all the fall colors overhead, woods on both sides, trails off to somewhere and a marching band in the median playing cadence for us? Well we won't call it pretty but Michelle said she was detouring into the underbrush. I did the same and, in granting her more privacy, I went further down the embankment, practically to the creek. Little did I know how badly I needed to go. By the time I got back up to the road Michelle was already running on. She stopped and looked around and my panic abated. We kept on together but lost a minute to the woods. 10:35.

1006 Mile 8. We crested the parkway and turned back down. There was the man with the three kid jog stroller again plugging away. We took water close to the 8 mile mark and were on cruise control. No more clothes to shed. No more potty stops. Let's rock. 9:17. Whoa! That may have been too much rocking.

1015 Mile 9. So where will we see Dad and Hubby next? Michelle told me exactly where and sure enough they were at the base of Rock Creek Parkway holding up their day glo signs of encouragement. These guys were exhibiting some very punctual performance. We were good, didn't need anything and waved to them as we passed by. 9:31 pace.

1024 Kennedy Performing Arts Center. The air was cooler. The crowds were thinner and the road was flat. It was a nice stretch of running before the Gauntlet of Love up ahead on the Mall. 9:32. Making up time fairly well.

1034 The White House. We had an appointment to see W but we were late so skipped it. The immense and frothy crowds of spectators made running along Constitution Ave. an experience to remember. I soon realized I was running with a celebrity because everybody kept saying, "Go Michelle," or some variation every 40 yards or so. Oh; wait a minute. This savvy running chick had her name taped to her shirt. That's how she does it. Time: 9:08. Good grief. We were smoking. All that smooth, strong and s-l-o-w talk I'd given myself was getting lost in the cheers.

1043 Can I see my congressman? We approached Capitol Hill passing museums and people by the Metro load. We had some water in this mile to cool us down which was becoming necessary. We got back to some reality pace in 9:33.

1052 Smithsonian. The halfway mark was up ahead. As we turned west on the return leg parallel Independenence Avenue I began to feel the forecast wind blow. It started to become an annoyance. Michelle was not as bothered it seemed but I labored a little more to keep up. We hit M13 in 9:58 and a 2:10 half marathon time.

1102 WWII Memorial. I never saw the memorial but it was there, just beyond the Washington Monument. Like the military support team they are, M's hubby and dad were there at the 14th mile marker ready to change out fluid supplies for Michelle. She opted to drop her belt and plug on from there. I took on some Gatorade with appreciation and paused for an unattractive picture (me, not Michelle).

We reached the Studdlies (as Michelle calls them) in 10:57. The headwind must have been a factor. Yeah. That's it. It was then that Michelle asked me if I minded if we went on at our own pace. I said no, absolutely not; and she put in her ear buds and moved on. I slipped in right behind her heading for the Tidal Basin. That was the last time I saw her until X-Y-Z.