You never know what kind of weather you’re going to get in March in DC.  The Monday before Catawba it snowed.  By the time Saturday rolled around it was sunny T-shirt weather in the 50s/60s.  There was still some slushy snow at Catawba’s higher elevations, but the weather was glorious and I actually came away with a sunburn.  Aaron and I enjoyed the day with Seanie and Ryan P., our new Finnish pal, who stuck with us through to the end.  You can totally tell Ryan is a Finn from (a) his giveaway last name, and (b) how content he is to quietly trot along, joining in conversation when called upon, but otherwise perfectly happy to run in silence.  I had a friend from Sweden who told me his buddies’ idea of a night out was to go to a bar, sip vodka, and say nothing.

Catawba is a great run for me to do because it’s so sneeeeeeeaky.  Sure, 35 miles, I can do that.  Eight hours later when I realize I’ve been on my feet for way longer than I ever have in my life, I discover that we’ve been running super-extra-Horton miles.  But it’s a good way for me to crack open my vision of the possible.  If Catawba was advertised at 45 or 50 miles, you’d never get my doubting self to show.  I have to be tricked into doing a 35-miler that runs like a 50.  It’s all about the sneaky mind games.  But it’s good, now I can imagine completing a 50 miler.  Which is a darn good thing now that I’ve signed up for the Bull Run 50 in April!  I know, I’m such a baby ultra runner, I haven’t even done a 50 miler.  I still haven’t quite wrapped my head around the fact that I’m supposed to run 50 miles in a month.  But having Catawba under my belt helps heaps, especially since it was *fun*.   Why was it so fun?  (a) the sun was out and spring was singing; (b) have you ever known anyone who loves the trails more than Sean?? his beaming was absolutely contagious on McAfee’s Knob and Tinker Cliffs; (c) it was great to see Aaron finally having a great day out there after all his battles with Lyme and bursitis; (d) did I mention the sun?  I also tried out arm warmers and gators for the first time — sold!

I had a bit of a low  after Sean dropped out and we had to endure that interminable North Mountain PUDs (pointless ups and downs), which I nearly turned into a disaster when I mega-crashed on the final descent down to the aid station.  My foot’s come a long way, but I can’t bomb down the descents like I used to, and I haven’t quite adjusted my feet.  I went down so hard and so fast, I had blood spurting out of four spots.  It was the kind of fall that leaves you dizzy and shivering.  Given  how my knees have a nasty habit of always connecting with rocks, I felt real lucky to be able to walk away and continue the rest of the run.

Overall, I gave my foot a PASS at Catawba, which was good enough to let myself join Robin, Boots, and Alisa on a Bull Run women’s team.  All four runners have to finish, and it will be my first 50 miler, so I wouldn’t have let myself join a team if I wasn’t confident I could finish.  We submitted our name as WUSsies with Pussies, but they made us change it to WUSsies with Kittycats.  We’re trying to convince the men’s WUS team to be WUSsies after Kittycats.  I did a lot of team sports as a kid and teen (soccer, basketball, field hockey), so a major appeal of Bull Run is the team part.  Wussies with Pussies — best team name ever!

On the drive home on Sunday, Aaron and I stopped and strolled along the first miles of the Hellgate course, the closest I will ever get to running Hellgate.  I’ve tried to tempt him away with proposed trips to run this awesome Kepler 50k in New Zealand that’s right around Hellgate time, but that race has a fierce hold.

If you’re wondering where the pictures are for this blog, I can only say that Keith’s camera is the giant black hole of race photos.  It’s where smiley runner faces go to die.  For all the pictures I’ve seen that camera snap, they hardly ever make a public appearance.



One Response to Return to Catawba

  1. Kirstin says:

    Sorry we missed it, my foot did NOT hold tight. 🙁
    Glad you are healed up. You will do WUSsies with PUSsies proud. I’ll be out there cheering you on and sending you home from FH.
    I’m with you on Hellgate. Nooooooo.
    LOVE that you called out the dicktease of a photographer Keith is. HA!

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