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Thanksgiving Turkey Trot

I so adore the tradition of working up a sweat running on Thanksgiving morning.

It was beautiful weather but chilly enough to be properly Fall-like.

I am especially thankful that despite spending a mile and a half in close proximity to two dog owners who thought it just fine to let their respective dogs play/fight/frolic as we ticked off 8 minute miles down neighborhood streets, I did not get mauled, tangled or involved in any fisticuffs.

I didn't beat my old PR, but I ran a good race. 

Mile 1  8:17
Mile 2  8:06
Mile 3  7:50
Mile 4  7:55
Mile 5  7:39 

I couldn't believe the last mile was my fastest. I was really struggling to bring it home and would have sworn that my last mile was a disaster. What that means, I don't know. 

What I do know is, I try never to miss this run. We always see lots of running friends at this race, and we have a great time running this lovely neighborhood course. Friendly folk watch from their porches and driveways, cheering us on, wishing us a Happy Thanksgiving, some even proffering margaritas or other "eye-openers." 

Hubz, Tracy and I. I am thankful for friends.
I am thankful I have a strong body and good health. I am thankful that I can run. 

I am thankful for Hubz, friends, and family with whom to share a holiday meal.

I hope your holiday was as blissful as mine. See you on trail!

Roots, Hills, Streams: Trail Running Nirvana

Sunday I ran the Backyard Burn 5 Miler. It was perfect trail running weather.

Hubz was sweet enough to come out to support me and snap some good photos.

I love the trails at Fountainhead Regional Park. No matter how often I run here, I never tire of these trails. There are roots, hills, flats. A little bit of everything, even a mile of road to start. 

Dashing through the leaves

As a bonus, the creators of the Backyard Burn blaze a few new trails which can only be run on race day. I love the change-up.

Overheard as I passed a guy on a steep, gnarly downhill: "This sure is a root-y mess of a trail."

Speak for yourself, dude. It doesn't get any better than this!

I was pleased with my pacing and effort. I felt that I pushed the edge without blowing up, and appreciated the privilege of being able to run in the woods on such a beautiful morning.

Finishing strong

Now, I'm looking ahead to Thursday's Turkey Trot. My PR there is a fast one. But you never know.

Autumn's Gold

Autumn's Gold

Along the tops of all the yellow trees,
The golden-yellow trees, the sunshine lies;

And where the leaves are gone, long rays surprise
Lone depths of thicket with their brightnesses;

And through the woods, all waste of many a breeze,
Cometh more joy of light for Poet's eyes--

Green fields lying yellow underneath the skies,
And shining houses and blue distances.

By the roadside, like rocks of golden ore
That make the western river-beds so bright,

The briar and the furze are all alight!
Perhaps the year will be so fair no more,

But now the fallen, falling leaves are gay,
And autumn old has shone into a Day!

                              ~ George MacDonald

Buzzed in the Burbs: Coffeeneuring #6 & #7

Our last two coffeeneuring rides took place in the 'burbs this weekend.

You see, we lead a double life. We have a city abode and what I joking call our "country estate." It's in the soulless suburbs, where the only people you see outside are walking their dog (or standing just outside their car with their kids at the bus stop in the morning).  Oh, and there's an occasional runner or two, but almost never anyone on a bicycle.

Saturday, I played the part of the occasional runner. I ran five miles (there's actually a pretty nice trail nearby, to give the burbs a fair shake).
It was a beautiful day for a trail run

Then, I dragged Hubz out the door for Coffeeneuring ride #6. We headed to quaint little Occoquan to check out a coffee place neither of us had visited yet.

Despite the fact that Occoquan is just three miles from our abode, with quite a few places to eat, we have never ridden our bikes there. One reason is that we are used to driving. The other is that the only way to get there is along a three lane road where it's not unusual for cars to hit 50 mph despite the curving route and frequent intersections. There is a narrow sidewalk on one side, with no barrier between it and the traffic. 

Hubz was dubious, but I was determined to try it. It felt ridiculous riding on the sidewalks, but we weren't brave enough to try to mix with traffic. The burbs are not bike friendly.

I may have forgotten to mention that there are a couple of big, long hills on the way. As I stood on the pedals halfway up the first one, my legs let me know they were having none of that. I sat down again and got in my granny gear, huffing up the hill. 

Elevation profile of our sixth coffeeneuring ride

At the top of the hill, a car turning right slowed and paused in his turn lane.  We made eye contact, and then as I weakly pedaled forward, he accelerated and cut me off. 

In the city, when you make eye contact, you know the driver sees you and you are ok to go. Not in the burbs!

The rest of our ride was exhilarating downhill. Long, steep downhill. As much as I was loving the thrill of the moment, I was thinking, no way in hell can we go back up this monster. Turns out it is named "Mount High."

We pulled up to our destination, in a lovely little courtyard complete with a gazebo. There was no other bike parking, so we locked our bikes to it.  

Gazebo turned bike rack

Cute place. Next time, I'll try the crepes!
I ordered the Caramel Apple Cider, expecting a sugar bomb, but it was really quite balanced and natural tasting. Two thumbs up!  Since we arrived late in the day, we didn't order any food, but the crepes and sandwiches looked tempting. 

Cafe Americano for Hubz, Caramel Apple Cider for me
We took a longer route home to avoid the big long uphill and instead did a more reasonable grade and a longer hill. We arrived home with a sense of accomplishment. New territory conquered!

Destination: Blue Arbor Cafe, 201 Union Street, Occoquan, VA
Date: Saturday, November 10
Beverages: Caramel Apple Cider and Cafe Americano
Total Miles: 8

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In his excellent blog post Why I Don't Hate Starbucks, David Leibovitz talks about his appreciation for the chain, and how it paved the way for all the wonderful independent coffee shops we enjoy. I wholeheartedly agree.
And thus, our final coffeeneuring excursion was to our suburban Starbucks. We took a roundabout way to stretch our mileage a bit. It was a beautiful warm November day and we were ecstatic to be out and about on two wheels.

As we pulled up to our neighborhood shopping center, I noticed that a bike rack had been installed quite recently. This totally thrilled me! I had emailed the company who owns the shopping center to request a bike rack and been told that one was "in the works." I had been dubious as to when that might happen, if ever -- and lo and behold! 

It was almost as if this were my prize for completing the final ride of the Coffeeneuring Challenge!

The bike rack and the Starbucks in suburbia

Pumpkin spice latte for me, Thanksgiving blend for Hubz. See our bikes?

Note the evidence of freshly drilled concrete. BIKE RACKS FOR THE PEOPLE!
I splurged and ordered the quintessential Starbucks fall creation, the Pumpkin Spice Latte, to celebrate our accomplishment. We sipped our beverages, then pedaled home through the neighborhood, smiling all the way.

Destination: Starbucks Coffee, 12447 Hedges Run Drive, Lake Ridge, VA
Date: Sunday, November 11
Beverages: Pumpkin Spice Latte and Thanksgiving Blend coffee
Total Miles: 3.2

Coffeeneuring: Late and Early Editions

It was a weekend full of running and plans and all kinds of errands. I knew it would be a wee bit challenging to fit in Coffeeneuring #4 and #5.

Sure enough, darkness had fallen on Saturday by the time Hubz and I set out on our two-wheeled quest for caffeine. Luckily, we had saved our favorite (and closest) coffee shop for just such an emergency occasion.

After donning reflective togs and sparkly lights we pedaled off into the night, taking a roundabout route to ensure we'd exceed the Coffeeneuring Challenge's 2 mile distance stipulation.

A terrible shot of the majestic National Cathedral from my bicycle
We rode through the darkness on quiet streets we don't often travel, past the National Cathedral, winding along our indirect route.

It was pleasant and invigorating.  All too soon we arrived at our first stop:
The Magical Money Wall. I extracted the rent and we meandered along to Open City, the holy grail of coffee in DC.

Open City at night
We aligned our bikes and it was at this moment that Hubz realized the bike lock key had gone missing. Not to be deterred, we stashed our bicycles on the patio within eyesight of our table and ordered. I chose a decadent Chaipuccino, a delicious hybrid of a cappuccino and a chai tea latte. Hubz went with coffee, straight up. Both came with two animal crackers, the perfect accompaniment.

Chaipuccino for me, a drip coffee for Hubz

We retraced our route and though we didn't find our key, we got in a few extra miles of night cycling. Fun!

Destination: Open City, 2331 Calvert St, NW
Date: Saturday, November 3

Beverages: Chaipuccino and drip coffee
Total Miles: 6  

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The next morning, before our 50K race, we hopped on our trusty steeds and headed to Adams Morgan. It was just before 7:00 a.m. and there sure aren't many folks out and about in this neighborhood at that hour on a Sunday.

Riding in the sharrows in Adams Morgan
Recent improvements: widened sidewalks and lots of bike racks
We secured our bikes and hurried inside. We had just enough time to finish our coffee before pedaling back to the start of our trail race.

Guatemalan coffee for me, Ethiopian for Hubz

Fun photos of people taking a bath while drinking coffee
Couches and tables give Tryst a very loungey feel
Destination: Tryst, 2459 18th St NW
Date: Sunday, November 4
Total Miles: 2.64
Beverages: Guatemalan and Ethiopian drip coffee

Potomac Heritage 50K: DNF

My day at Potomac Heritage 50K ended before mile 10. I simply didn't have anything in my legs. I got a few photos, so I'll share those instead of boring DNF stories.


It was perfect cool weather for trail running, and the sun finally emerged after many days of post-Sandy clouds.

Two lovely trail options

There were quite a few blowdowns thanks to Sandy

Some sweet downhill

The infamous tunnel

C&O Canal Towpath

Leaving Aid Station #3

Hubz examines a deer skull

Runners pause at aid station #3

At the always stellar post-run party
Thanks to Kerry Owens and Doug Sullivan and all the folks who volunteered and made it all happen.