Running (Trail) 2:39:55  13.76 mi (11:37 / mi) +308m 10:52 / mi
MCRRC: Winter Trails. Today the group started at Riley's Lock and it was around 21 F. With brief stints on the C&O Towpath, the Seneca Greenway Trail (Tschiffely Mill Rd.), and Old River Rd., most of the out and back run was on the Seneca Bluffs Trail. The group was set to go up to Black Rock Mill Rd. and back, but I turned around at Rte. 28. Though I'd know about Seneca Bluffs Trail being built about 3 years ago, I hadn't run it previously. Setting out, I had kind of a goal of reaching Rte. 28, where I have run up to several times previously, on the Seneca Greenway Trail (on the other side of Seneca Creek). I guessed it'd be close to 7 miles going out; at the limits of what I should be running for now. At about 6 miles out and on a hill, I could see fields that I knew were on the other side of Rte. 28, so I pressed on.
The roads/trail getting to the Seneca Bluffs Trail were fairly flat. However the Seneca Bluffs Trail seemed to constantly change pitch over short and long stretches. The woods initially were the scrubby and thorny stuff that grows over farm fields. About 2 miles in, as the creek the trail parallels goes through some big and sharp bends, there were some nice stands of scattered hemlocks overlooking the waters. About 3 miles out there was a stream crossing--there were stones that I used for getting half way across dry, but the rest were submerged or icy. We'd been advised to stay off the stones since many had fallen and taken a full plunge before. The water was 15-20" deep and moving swiftly. At first it didn't feel bad but just before reaching the shore, the cold was sinking in--I was glad to keep moving to warm up again, and I did. I was sort of running with another guy who'd never run the Greenway Trail Marathon before, but was training for it. We chatted for the next mile or two before he stopped to drink, and I stopped to relieve myself. We got started separately after that so I was alone getting to Rte. 28. At 6.26 miles out, and committed to getting to Rte. 28, there was a long line of flat rock cliffs--perhaps the bluffs the trail was named for. It stretched for over a 1/4 mile which is very unusual for rock features in this area. I started catching a group that had passed when I and the other guy I was running with had stopped, but I came up short, at Rte. 28. Going back, I felt I was going slower immediately despite it being more downhill (I was running upstream on the way out). I saw more as I moved along but it wasn't long into the return before I started walking up the steeper hills. My joints were getting tender as I ran and my left knee started to hurt the most. Loosening my arms by circling them around behind me helped. I liked the views--the woods tended to be more open on the upper half nearest Rte. 28 and many times the trail was right along other bluffs--dirt drop-offs close to 100 ft. over the creek with great views. I kind of dragged myself in to finish-up and one younger guy who'd probably run the whole route to Black Rock Mill (16-17 miles roundtrip), passed, me on Tschiffely Mill Rd. I guess my run today qualifies for overdoing it. Peggy had been kindly waiting in the car for an hour. I found ice on me as I changed clothes in the car. My wet toes were white--I hadn't noticed that I wasn't feeling them. We had breakfast in Potomac.