"Is that Laurel?": Another Greenway Training Run

By John Dodds

A training run on the Greenway in suburban Maryland is becoming one of my favorite trail runs. It is a scenic and runnable (one would say "benign") trail. They are also the best-stocked training runs I've been on. At various places along the way, there is water, soda, chips, cookies, and sandwiches. The run several weeks ago was no exception. I know you're going to find this hard to believe, but it's all free. And at the end of our last run, we got our choice of three different kinds of pizza (courtesy of Bill Parlett). Not to mention a technology demonstration by Michele on how to determine the sodium content of your blood. Hint: swing your arm in a windmill motion thirty times before pricking your finger as this really stimulates the blood flow.

There were a number of us, all with varying plans as to how long we were going to run. Gary had to leave by noon, and I decided I would do that as well-that would be a 5-hour run as we started at 7. The plan was to turn around at 9:30. Not long after we had started, I heard Ed ask Gary how you could tell the difference between laurel and rhododendrons. Fortunately, I was too far back to hear the whole explanation. I'm not sure Ed quite grasped Gary's explanation because repeatedly during the run, I would hear Ed say: "Is that laurel?" If you've ever had a small child say over and over again, "Are we there yet?" then you can get a feeling of how annoying "Is that laurel?" can be. Somewhere in all this, Monica mentioned that laurel was hard to transplant, which, of course, led Gary into his laurel transplanting story.

At 9:45, I reminded Gary that we needed to turn back. As we were about to do that, Linda said that it wasn't too far from the river (Riley's Lock) and that we could run to there and back to her car (she had joined us at the first aid station); from there, she would give us a ride back to the start. So, we decided to press on. As we were eating where the aid was stashed just across River Road, I heard Monica ask: "What is a forsythia doing here?" Gary interjected that perhaps this was once the site of a house. I tried to be really interested in this exchange, but my main thought at the time was how there was just the right amount of jelly on the sandwich I was eating.

As I said before, the Greenway is very runnable. At times, you are looking for a hill, no matter how small, as an excuse to walk. It was my misfortune, as it was Gary's and Mike's (Mike Broderick), to be running with faster runners who didn't want to walk. Nor did they want to run slow. Rather than identify these inconsiderate runners by their full names, I'll just refer to them individually as Monica and Linda. Collectively, they are known as "No Mercy." On the return trip, we all started out as a group. That would change. Mainly because I don't think we drank enough fluids. Gary was the first to go as his legs started to cramp. He fell back out of sight. Monica and Linda didn't even know that he dropped back. I told Gary later that they never looked back when they ran and that, frankly, wouldn't have cared even if they knew he had dropped back.

Mike then fell behind a bit. Since I knew that we were close to the parking lot (Route 28) where Linda had parked her car, I tried to keep up with them as I thought it would be good training for NCT Marathon in several weeks. With extraordinary effort, I managed to keep up, but my calves were aching. I was so glad to reach the parking lot. As we ran into the parking lot, I asked Linda which of the 3 cars parked there was hers, since Gary and I have a rule that you have to touch your car at the end of the run. She said none. Why is that? She said she had actually parked her car at the next aid station. I didn't think I could run another step. I asked her how far we still had to go. Five miles was the answer. Monica chimed in that it would take about an hour.

Mentally, I was not ready for another five miles. Physically, I couldn't run the same pace for another five miles. There were several options. I could tell them to go on ahead without me, as I'd be running slower. Or, I could ask No Mercy to slow down. This option was too direct. You just can't ask people to slow down. You indirectly hint at it. So, while I was reaching into the bag of chips, I nonchalantly said to Monica, "You know, this pace is a little bit faster than I normally run." She said it was for her, too. I was a tad surprised because she was the leader and she was setting the pace. Anyway, I thought we would take it easier. We did until we walked off the gravel; then No Mercy (both of them) started running up the hill right out of the parking lot. Actually, Mike and I didn't do too badly. However, we did lose sight of them as they ran up a fairly substantial hill later on. But we caught up to them-that's because they stopped at the next road crossing to wait for us. We ran together for a while after that, but I think Monica picked up the pace a bit as she heard the gunshots from the nearby shooting range.

We finally got to Linda's car (at Riffle Ford Rd). I was so glad this run was over. Although Monica's car was there, Monica wanted to run halfway to the next aid station (actually the start on Rt. 355). I politely said I was done. Mike somehow found himself agreeing to go with her, but when she would turn back, he'd just continue on to the start. As Linda and I were waiting for Gary, Mike Burr and Michele arrived (we missed them near Riley's lock as they did the loop there in a clockwise direction). They had started well after us because Michele was late (as if that hadn't happened before). Can you imagine playing Jeopardy and saying, "I'll take Trail Runners for $200." The answer would be "This person frequently oversleeps." And you would win $200 by asking, "Who is Michele Burr?" They asked me to run with them to the finish, and I said I was done. Then they tried to embarrass and humiliate me into running, saying I was a quitter, etc. It was all water off a duck's back. I was done. Besides, what were the chances I'd be able to keep up with them?

As I was eating my second piece of pizza in the parking lot on Rt. 355, Michele came in by herself. Where's Mike? He started to slow down about a mile back. Did you ask him if he wanted you to slow down and run with him? No. And is it because you thought he might say yes and then you'd have to explain why you weren't going to slow down for him? Yes. Pretty heartless, huh?

Please don't take away from this article that all women trail runners are self-centered and inconsiderate of others. Only a few of them are.

Which brings me to my next subject: Margie's response to my story on women trail runners. I thought I'd take a couple minutes to share my thoughts with you. At the outset, I'd like to say that I don't appreciate her using so many big words. Every time I looked up a word in the dictionary, my Phi Beta Kappa key lost some of its lustre.

I'm not sure everybody knows who Margie is, especially those lurkers who read this web site. She is the quintessential woman trail runner. She is the only woman I know who has run Badwater, having traveled across Death Valley with her brain being baked at about 600 degrees. Not once did she do this, but twice. Sort of like twice-baked potatoes. So I'd like to respond to Twice-Baked Potato Brain's comments:

Post-Run Transition (PRT) Period. The PRT varies in length, usually heavy at first and tapering off at the end. There is no reason whatsoever to prohibit intercourse during this period.

I was talking about discourse, not intercourse.

Hint of Green. I would like to pose a question to Mr. Dodds. Do you discuss chafing in the genital region with normal women?

I can only hope.

So the little girl took an automatic out of her basket and shot the wolf dead.

This was pretty stupid of her. Left out of her story is the part about the wolf first eating the grandmother. So, when LRRH opened fire on the wolf, she most likely waxed her grandmother. In the story by the Brothers Grimm, the wolf ate the grandmother and Little Red Cap. A huntsman came by and was going to shoot the wolf but thought that maybe grandma was inside. So, he slit the wolf's stomach open and out came Little Red Cap and grandma. Here's the text: "He was about to aim his rifle when it occurred to him that the wolf might have eaten the grandmother, and that she still might be rescued. So instead of shooting, he took a pair of scissors and began to cut open the wolf's belly. After a few cuts he saw the red cap shining through, and after a few more cuts the girl jumped out, crying, 'Oh, I was so frightened! It was so dark inside the wolf's body!'" Grandma survived the ordeal as well.

What They Talk About. Mr. Dodds, I would like to extend an invitation to you to run with me to talk about sex.

Your trail or mine? Actually, that also reminds me of the lyrics from a popular country song:

I was getting kinda tired
Of her endless chatter
Nothing I could say
Ever seemed to matter
Let's get on down
To the main attraction
With a little less talk
And a lot more action

I think it's about time, for my safety, to change the subject. Two days after this delightful run, I found myself once again on the trails with Gary, Russ, and Bill Parlett. As we were going up Old Rag, I saw a bush and asked Gary, "Is that rhododendron?" "No," he answered, "That's laurel." I should have been paying attention on the Greenway run. Frankly, Ed and I both should have known better. I met Ed a little over two years ago at a little dinky race in Pennsylvania. You guessed it: Laurel Highlands.


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