Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Up until about 5 weeks ago it had been 10 years or so since I had entered a swimming pool for the purpose of swimming laps. I had gotten into it one summer in grad school, and had faithfully gone several days a week to swim a mile. I don't know what it is about that distance, but whenever I get into a pool, I feel compelled to swim a mile, no more, no less. So, with the encouragement of a work friend, I made my way to the pool one day after work to make another attempt at lap swimming. I re-geared myself, and was prepared for this torture fest. Of course, the day we happened to pick, was the one day the pool was closed. We arrived to locked gates, so I went to get a manicure instead.... but I went back the next day to a pool in my neighborhood, jumped in, and swam a mile. It was challenging, but once I got past the first 5 laps or so, it felt really good. Running kind of squashes you down with all that constant pounding, whereas swimming really stretches you out. I went back the next Monday and have been going Mondays and Wednesdays since, for a total of about 10 miles now.

The sad news is is that the DC outdoor pools close on Labor Day. DC has a number of outdoor pools, and they are all free to DC residents. There are a few indoor pools, as well, but the number of people that want to swim far outweighs the number of indoor pool lanes, and the indoor pools tend to be crowded. One thing I love about my pool is that, perhaps bc of its location, it does not attract many lap swimmers. Last night I was the only one in the pool for a while, before a couple of families and another lone lap swimmer showed up. It means I never have to deal with anyone in my lane. The indoor pools are another story, with only a few dedicated hours of lap swimming a day, and lanes filled with more people than I care to share a lane with. So, my lovely Monday and Wednesday night swims might soon come to an end. And be replaced with getting over my fear of swimming in crowds.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Catoctin 50K+

I've been a very neglegent blogger. I'm not sure that blogging is for me, but I will make another attempt before I ditch all blogging efforts. I did start this blog entry a while back, so I'll go ahead and finish it, before trying to write some pre-Wasatch thoughts.

The Catoctin 50K is an area favorite. Run in the peak of summer heat in DC, it's usually a torture fest that everyone seems to love to hate. Last year was one of those years; 90's and humid. This year was blissful; 70's with some rain at the start. I had goosebumps, which is not usual in DC around this time of year, and had I brought a long sleeve shirt, would have been dumb enough to put it on for the start. Luckily I didn't bring anything warmer than a sleeveless shirt, as I warmed up in the first 100m.

This was my second Catoctin. I can remember saying after last year's run that I had to make an effort to do some more training runs out on these trails--might be the best the DC area has to offer. We so often go out to the Shenendoah or MMT trails, but Catoctin trails rival them in technical difficulty, and they're only an hour's drive from DC vs. a 90 minute or more trek out to the others.
I ended up putting on my Hardrocks Saturday morning before I left the house, mainly because I was lazy and they were beside the front door. I put them on thinking they were overkill, as I usually reserve them for MMT or similarly rocky trails--but I'm glad I did. Even after running on the Catoctin trails a couple of times, I had forgotten that they are similarly rocky to MMT. Smoother rocks, perhaps, but a lot of rocks. As much as I don't want to like the Hardrocks, they don't tear up my feet, and they're the only shoe I trust for really long runs. I hope to find a light weight shoe that I can replace them with for less technical stuff, but so far, no luck.

I went out pretty hard, and stayed in about the same spot the entire race. Besides the first few miles, I didn't run with a soul throughout. To be honest, that's kind of how I like it. I don't really like running with people on most occasions, although there are exceptions. Especially on trails, I find it hard to not alter my pace if I'm running with someone. It's rare to find someone who climbs and descends at the same pace as I do. I'm not so strong going up, but I love to come down. Catoctin is an out-and-back, which is a good way to see everyone once, and is really nice on a local run like Catoctin where you know most people and can chat a bit as you pass. I ended up in 5:54, which was an improvement over last years 6:17 and good enough for 1st female and 8th overall. I'll save my fear of racing for another blog entry, perhaps.

I did get lost once, which drives me nuts. Apparently Catoctin used to be a harder course to follow, but re-blazing efforts have helped make it a pretty easy course to follow. Except when you make a wrong turn, go back and check it, and continue down the wrong path. I added about 3/4 of a mile to a course that was already long, so ended up registering about something over 33 miles on my Garmin.

Kevin and his merry crew of volunteers put on a great race. Popsicles at every aid station and a great post-race party afterwards. Good times.