2008-07-22 - Catoctin Overture

14+ miles @ ~20 min/mi

At 0430 Caren & I rendezvous at the Clopper Rd commuter lot by I-270 and carpool north past Frederick to stare the Catoctin Trail in the face — once it gets light enough to see, that is. A long drive on Gambrill Park Rd takes us to Delauter Rd where Caren parks on the narrow shoulder. After a few minutes to let the sun rise we set off northward at 0540 following blue blazes past a pond where a great blue heron eyes us warily. Temperatures are in the 70s with near-100% humidity, and during the morning it gets hotter, past 80°F, until as we're almost finished with our journey breezes materialize and then a gentle shower helps cool us down. Steep, rocky hills slow our progress. Caren spots blackberry bushes by the trail and we pause to eat their delicious fruit both outbound and during our return. We discuss movies and music. I offer mini-lectures on time travel, the optics of retroreflection, and conservation of energy.

Today we're previewing the middle 12 miles of the Catoctin 50k course, in preparation for the August 2 race that we plan to run together. Our splits are 40 min from Caren's car to Fishing Creek Rd, then 34 min to Gambrill Park Rd again, followed by 44 min to the point on a hillside where we realize that we've gone astray near the Manor parking area of Cunningham State Park. I estimate we may have spent 7 minutes climbing off course, so that means it took 37 min "in theory" for that course segment. We expend another 7 min getting back to the race's turnaround point, where I invest 4 minutes in the restroom. (Apparently a pre-run dinner of baked beans and jalapeño-flavored potato chips is slightly suboptimal.) Heading back it takes us 58 minutes to retrace our steps to Gambrill Park Rd, 35 min more to Fishing Creek Rd, and 43 min back to touch Caren's car. We refill our water bottles and add another mile-plus by trotting along the crushed stone road from the car to Gambrill Park Rd, where we tag a stop sign and then run back, a final 16 minutes. Our total "moving time" (not counting going off-course and pausing at the Manor parking lot latrine) is 1:51 out and 2:16 back. Unfortunately the Catoctin 50k cutoffs for this segment are 1:40 out and 2:05 back, so we hypothetically miss both time limits by exactly 11 minutes each. At least we're consistent! Now if we can only go 2 min/mi faster on race day. Easier said than ...

(correlates: AtTheTime, OnStage, 2008-06-14 - Seneca Creek Sixteen, ...)