I spent my weekend going to sporting events. Of course, I rode my bike to them because cars are bad and the weather was exceptionally good.
Frogs Win – At Long Last
Before our son went to high school at the Maret School, Mrs. Rootchopper and I vowed never to let him play football. This was long before concussions were such a big concern. We changed our minds because the new football coach was the antithesis of raging lunatic coaches. Soft-spoken Mike Engelberg told us before freshman year began, “I will never yell at your son.” He kept his word. (He whined a hell of a lot, though.) He didn’t so much coach football as he taught it.
For years under Mike, Maret came oh so close to winning its conference. In my son’s senior year, the team nearly pulled it off but lost in a monsoon to Flint Hill School in overtime. That was 7 years ago. On Saturday, I rode to St. Albans School (Maret is so small it does not have its own field) on the grounds of the National Cathedral to watch the undefeated Maret Frogs play Flint Hill. Maret led 14-7 at half time then stepped on the gas and left Flint Hill in the dust, winning 43-14. The Washington Post called it “a thumping.” I swore I could hear Al Michels in my head.
So congratulations to Coach Engelberg and his Maret Frogs. It’s been a long time coming. It was a great way to spend a splendid fall afternoon too.
Some sightings on the Mount Vernon Trail are inspiring. Others not so much. On my ride to Maret, I spotted a huge bald eagle in the branches above the Belle Haven nest. Maybe its feathers were fluffed up but it looked bigger than any other eagle I’ve seen this year.
As I approached the Dyke Marsh bridge on the Mount Vernon Trail this morning, I saw an ambulance and fire truck pull off the adjacent parkway and park. At the middle of the bridge there was a cluster of people. As I rode by, I could see at their feet a man, probably in his 60s or 70s, lying on the bridge deck on his side. He had a hat on his head and his head was turned to one side. He appeared to be unconscious. Given the abundance of help already there, I rode on. I hope he is okay but I am not optimistic.
About a mile later I was passed by an approaching runner. It was Running Mom, one of the regular people I see on my commute. This morning she was not pushing her son in his stroller. (He’s over a year old. How she runs so fast pushing him, I’ll never know.) We don’t wave to each other. Usually one or both gives and awkward smile. That’s what we did today. I was a little disappointed that she wasn’t running in the marathon.
I got a dose of stupid security theater today. I rode to the 14th Street Bridge. I rode up the grassy slope so I could stand on the guardrail of the closed I-395 and watch the runners at the 19 mile mark as they headed into Virginia. Except today, two police officers told me I couldn’t stand there. Closed to spectators. “You have to leave.” I said, “I’ve been coming here for over 20 years, what are you talking about?” No use. So I left.
I rode to the 14th Street Bridge trail that goes across the Potomac River to the Jefferson Memorial in DC. A group of spectators were standing on the ramp shaking their heads. They told me the trail was closed. So I rode up onto the bridge and spotted the police officer. He was standing on the trail as hundreds of cars rushed by on the roadway a few feet to his left. “Trail is closed.” “Why?” “I don’t decide these things. It’s closed.” He told me the nearest bridge that was open was Key Bridge two miles away.
I understand the Tsarnaev Brothers. I understand terrorism. But there is really only about 100 feet of the bridge that poses a security concern. Why not ban people from standing on that part of the bridge? And if you are going to ban pedestrians and bikes, why allow cars and trucks? And if you are going to have police stationed to close these places why not have them just provide actual security (like bag checks) to the spectators instead?
I unloaded on the cop. We’ve come to this? There are probably a half million people lining the marathon course and you pick these two isolated spots to shut down. Really?
I back tracked two miles to Crystal City. There were Marines and the occasional police officer but nobody was checking bags or barring people from standing on the side of the road. I saw one bomb sniffing dog. Once. In about two and a half hours.
Porous security isn’t security. It’s security theater. It makes nervous people feel better. It pisses everybody else off. If you live in DC, you really get tired of this nonsense.
I parked myself at the 20.9 and 22.8 mile mark on Crystal Drive.The runners were headed south on the opposite side of the road toward the 21 mile banner. Then they turned a corner and disappeared from view before heading north on Crystal Drive on my side of the road.
It was getting quite warm. In marathon running, 65 degrees is warm. It was already in the 70s. A misting machine was turned on at the corner. Many runners were cramping up. It did not look like much fun, to be honest.
I had planned to cheer on my friend Heather and twitter peep Teresa. Teresa posted a picture of her clothing and a selfie at the 9 mile mark. Red shirt. White baseball cap with blonde hair. Camelback. Purple running shoes. So I knew what to look for. Strangely enough I saw three people running at a similar pace to her planned pace wearing the same thing. What are the odds? So I may have seen or or not. If not, there are three women wondering who the heck was that guy yelling “Teresa!”?
Heather is a petite Chinese woman. Unlike Teresa who I only know from her pictures on line, I’be known Heather for 20 or 30 years. I spotted her on the far side of Crystal Drive headed south. I yelled and she turned and waved. Then about 10 minutes later she came running down the edge of the road in full view. I took her picture. With pain all around her, she was smiling. She apologized for being sweaty and gave me a hug then continued on.
After that, I rode home. In a t-shirt and shorts. On the 30th of October. I am writing this on the deck. It is 80 degrees. Good thing the race ended when it did.