Here is a thing about me: I am lost more often than not.
The phrase “couldn’t find her way out of a paper bag” could have been invented for me. Except the paper bag is unnecessary: A good pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey spin, and I have completely lost my bearings.
This became important yesterday, on what I never intended to be a long run.
I was trying out a route around the Mormon Temple in Kensington suggested by Montgomery County Road Runners Club Coach Mike Broderick. Check out an extended version of the run here. The portion of the route I did starts at Meadowbrook Stables in Rock Creek Regional Park, follows Rock Creek Trail for about two miles, then spits runners out at the intersection of Beach Drive and Stoneybrook Drive, where Stoneybrook Drive provides a killer hill workout before taking runners back to the stables on Rock Creek Trail.
This runner decided to go the other way on Rock Creek Trail instead.
Let me be clear here: This was in no way a confusing route. There are only two ways to go on the trail after the hill loop, and while the trail is not clearly marked, it IS pretty obvious that you go back the way you came. I should have known: I had to forge a washed-out section of the trail with a makeshift bridge of two long sticks, which I definitely did not have to do on the way out. But as previously discussed, I have good reason not to trust my directional instincts.
Plus, I kept recognizing things. I’d rejoice when I passed “my” meadow, “my” playground, “my” bridge. Problem is, Rock Creek Trail kind of looks alike in both directions. Until you get up to Rockville Pike, that is (those of you in the Washington area can confirm that this is really, really far from Meadowbrook Stables in Chevy Chase).
When I finally saw another human walking on the trail, I stopped her and her miniature Schnauzer.Panting and desperate, I asked her if I was heading the right way to get back to the Meadowbrook Stables. She surveyed the sweaty-mud spattered runner in front of her.
“I’m so sorry,” she said, wincing. “You’re really, really far away.”
I whimpered to myself as I turned around, knowing I had added at least three or four miles to my run at a time when I am trying hard not to overtrain. I tried yoga-like deep-breathing and mantras, which are helpful when you are calm already, but not so helpful in times of crisis.
And this was a crisis. So I turned to old-school gangster rap. Biggie, Public Enemy and Dr. Dre carried me back home. And my iPod, which had been running on reserve battery power since mile 2, miraculously kept on going.
I got back to Meadowbrook Stables an hour and 40 minutes after I left – at least 10 miles, by my estimate. This was my longest since before I injured my hip. It also happens to be the longest run on my beginner half-marathon training schedule, so I guess it’s nice to know I’m ahead of the training game.
And the route really is awesome. Rock Creek Trail winds through playgrounds, meadows and dense thickets of mature trees, providing great views of the creek along the way. Even the starting point is pretty — when I got back to the quaint, lovely stables, with the horses milling about and neighing, it almost made me forget how much of an, ahem, donkey I felt like.
Need motivation for a tough workout? Try the gangsta-rap playlist that fueled my extended run:
Til I Collapse – Eminem
Scenario – Tribe Called Quest
M-E-T-H-O-D Man – Wu Tang Clan
You Can Do it – Ice Cube
Sure Shot – Beastie Boys
The Watcher – Dr. Dre
What’s the Difference – Dr. Dre
Fight the Power – Public Enemy
Fugeela – The Fugees
Kick in the Door – The Notorious B.I.G.