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Marathon Spectating and Coffeeneuring

THIS is the way to spectate at a marathon.

If I'm not running the Marine Corps Marathon, I do the next best thing: I bike around the course.

This past Sunday, Hubz and I set out to kill two birds with one stone: Coffeeneuring and Spectating.

We bumped down Rock Creek bike path, past the Watergate and the Kennedy Center to Ohio Drive. No, that won't work. We backtracked and ascended the grassy hill to Memorial Bridge (Hubz rode it on his single speed mountain bike while I did my best cyclocross bike-carry).

We rode over the traffic-free
Memorial Bridge (on the wrong side of the road, even!) and pedaled alongside the Potomac River on the Mt. Vernon trail. The weeping willows were blowing in the stiff wind. Only a few cyclists and runners were out today. 

Riding south on the Mt. Vernon Trail, trees a-blowing in the wind

We emerged from the path near mile 23 in Crystal City. Runners were beginning to show the strain of the accumulated miles. We cheered them on as we cruised beside the course, around the Pentagon, along Washington Boulevard and Route 110. 

Taking the roundabout way to Georgetown via a car-free Memorial Bridge

There's something exhilarating about being able to bike on major roadways that are normally reigned by automobiles. The roads were all ours today!

Up the down ramp to cross Memorial Bridge again, onto Georgetown and our destination: Baked and Wired.

The GT Peace singlespeed and the Dolce Elite at Baked & Wired

I haven't been to this place in years. Holy quiche, can they can bake!

Two big lattes warmed us up. Then we spied the quiche display. I had the Chorizo & Green Chile quiche (ZOMG!) and Hubz went for the one with spinach in it. Seriously delicious.

The quiche was the best I've ever eaten, no lie.
And we succumbed to temptation of the desserts. I had a Flapjack cupcake and Hubz chose the molasses spice cookie. Good thing we rode 16 miles for this.
Maple brown butter cupcake, caramel buttercream
and candied bacon on top!

Of course, no report on Baked and Wired would be complete without a photo of the pink bicycle always parked outside.

We took M Street and Rock Creek bike path back home. Another great day of coffeeneuring in the books.

Destination: Baked and Wired, 1052 Thomas Jefferson Street, NW
Date: Sunday, October 28 

Beverages: Lattes for both of us
Total Miles:  16.13


Small Victories

Army Ten Miler Race Report: Let's cut to the chase.

The Good: I shaved five minutes off my 10 mile PR, and executed my race plan flawlessly.

The Bad: I had some left in the tank, which means I could have run faster. It's not possible to run your hardest in the last mile at this race as it's clogged with runners who don't have a finishing kick.

The Ugly: You know your PR time is soft when you really haven't trained and you still beat it handily.

The Caveat: Except I'm pretty sure I beat this time during Marine Corps Marathon 2011, but I guess since there's no split time for 10 miles, that doesn't count. Right? Plus, I'm already counting it as my Marathon and Half Marathon PRs and it doesn't seem right to milk one race for three PRs.

What I Was Happy About: I didn't go out too fast, I paced myself smartly and I enjoyed every minute of this race.

So, it's decided. Break out the champagne! Here's to small victories. *clink*

Since Hubz didn't get any photos of me, marathonfoto failed me and I didn't
carry my phone (per the rules), I have only my splits to entertain you visually


The Element and the Dolce Elite in front of Big Bear Cafe.

Destination: Big Bear Cafe, 1700 1st St, NW
Date: Sunday, October 14
French Press coffee for Hubz, a latte for me
Total Miles: 12.16

Awhile back, I told you about my good fortune in discovering the #bikeDC community.
I've been showing up regularly to drink really top-notch lattes, socialize and drool over the bicycles at Friday Coffee Club ever since. Like ultrarunners, everyone is friendly, interesting to talk with, and quite a few of them are endurance junkies just like us.

The latest fun excuse to get in some bike rides is the Coffeeneuring Challenge. What the heck is coffeeneuring? Click that link to find out, and join in if you fancy.

This weekend Hubz and I had a grand Sunday coffeeneuring ride. We tweeted the King and Queen of Coffeeneuring and somehow convinced them to have coffee with us (and suggest the place. Yes, we are the laziest coffeeneur-ers ever).

We dressed for the blustery and cloudy weather. Of course, fifteen minutes into our ride the sun came beaming through and we stuffed our jackets away for the day. You're welcome, DC.

Our route took us through Adams Morgan and we remarked on the improvements: wider sidewalks, smooth pavement, less room taken up by parking, one big lane to share instead of two lanes (one was always blocked by double-parked cars). 

We headed east on Q Street in the bike lanes. It was a lovely day to be out on a bicycle!

We arrived at Big Bear Cafe. Right away, I liked this place. They had tables outside and raised garden beds full of Swiss chard, sage, rosemary, lavender, oregano, grape vines, and possibly even more arugula than I have growing in my garden. 

Hubz, who is a mite suspicious of things that might be Yuppie, Vegan or Fancified was surprised to see meat on the menu, antlers above the door, and a guy with dreds carrying what appeared to be a purse made from the head of a coyote. 

This place was cute and the coffee was excellent.

Hubz got a kick out of the unusual decor.
French Press coffee for Hubz, a latte for me, and a cookie to share
If you go on Sunday, you'll find the Bloomingdale Farmers Market just outside. In addition to fruits and vegetables, they offer a bicycle repair area. Pretty cool.

We scored a table outside and enjoyed our beverages. Ed and Mary joined us and we all gathered round Ed's smartphone to watch Felix Baumgartner's jump.

The spread at Big Bear Cafe was amazing.
And delicious. We shared a plate.

From there we rolled on to Eastern Market where we resumed our conversation about ultrarunning, randonneuring and life. It was a pleasant afternoon, over all too soon. 

Mary and Ed enjoying lunch at Tunnicliff's.

Sporting my Little Package cycling cap. Look Ma, no helmet hair!

Old Rag Mountain, A Fall Tradition

View from the summit

Old Rag is Shenandoah's "most popular and most dangerous hike" according to the National Park Service website. There's even a prominently placed safety video to warn hikers of its difficulty.

All I know is that it's my all-time favorite hike.

The circuit is advertised as being 8 miles from the trail head, but including the walk from the parking area, you'll cover 9.25 miles. When you reach the trail, you'll see a sign advising hikers to allow 5 1/2 hours to complete it. That always startles me.
The trail starts off benignly

Views like this abound. And see? It's not unrelenting uphill the whole way.

It's a significant, but not drastically steep climb with lots of rock scrambling to challenge your inner child. 

Obligatory hold-up-the-boulder pic
Getting into the rock scrambling section
The views (at several points, not just from the summit) are simply stunning. Spend some time taking it all in, and snapping a few photos.

Another lovely view on the way to the true summit
The inevitable bottleneck. Today wasn't bad, we waited about 15 minutes.
Summit photo. Hurry up, the freezing rain is starting!
Finally, the slow climb is rewarded with an exhilarating descent. There's a section of  technical trail which emerges onto a gravel fire road. It's pure joy to bomb down. Never mind your quads, live in the moment.

Elevation profile. It took us 2 hours 55 minutes, climbing at a good clip and running the final 5 miles.

If you live anywhere near Shenandoah National Park, you owe it to yourself to hike Old Rag Mountain this fall. All the details you could ever want can be found here

My advice: You'll want both hands free, so use a hydration pack rather than a water bottle. Bring some dried fruit for calories. Go on a weekday or get there early