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November 12, 2007

Running with the Hoyas

“Rover, wanderer, nomad, vagabond –
Call me what you will ...
Wherever I may roam“

- Metallica, “Wherever I May Roam” (on sidebar)

*
This weekend, I got to sleep in my own bed – which only sounds unusual after I tell you that I’ve spent most of the past two weeks travelling. If you’ve noticed a lot of hits from hotel servers on your site meter lately, well, that would be me.

Needless to say, the travel makes it quite difficult to maintain any semblance of a training program – because I never ship my bike with me, because I have a deathly aversion to stationary bikes, and because I refuse to swim in pools that are either kidney-shaped or 20 feet long. (Remember, I’m a California boy – if it doesn’t take place outdoors, I’m not doing it.)

That’s left me to rely entirely upon running over the past couple of weeks - which would be fine, except that I’m still kind of in burnout mode after last month’s 50-miler. So I had decided that November would be a hibernation month – and as a bonus, it coincides nicely with discount pumpkin pie season at Safeway. Have I mentioned before that I love pumpkin pie? I'm on track to gain at least 10 extra pounds by the end of the month.

You could say I’ve pretty much been a slacker lately. But that doesn’t mean my head isn’t full of posts to write. Who knows – some of them might even be about training.

That brings us to today’s post, which takes place in an area that’s become my home away from home over the past two years: Georgetown, District of Columbia.

I laced up my shoes in the afternoon, and headed along the canal trail towards the Key Bridge. I didn’t have an agenda in mind in regards to time or distance (remember, I’m in slacker mode) - I just wanted to take a look around town. So when a group of eight runners approached me from the opposite direction about five minutes into the run and told me they were headed to the monuments, I was more than happy to tag along.

A few minutes later, one girl and I had the following exchange:

Her: Are you a triathlete?

Me: Yeah! How did you guess?

Her: Compression shorts, shaved legs ... it’s kind of a giveaway.

(See? I’ve written before that having shaved legs is like a secret handshake for triathletes, and a lot of you probably thought I was kidding. I know a lot of things I write seem ridiculous - but every now and then, something actually makes sense. And I was right on this one. So there.)

Her (again): That’s cool – we’re in the Georgetown triathlon club.

This led to a few minutes of discussion about their club and collegiate triathlon events, and some questions about my own workout plans and race experiences. When they heard that I was travelling, another girl started this discussion just as we passed a boathouse on the Potomac:

Her: Are you here for The Nation's Tri?

Me: No – what race is that?

Her: It’s an Olympic distance race here in DC. Swim in the Potomac, bike around Hains Point …

Me: Wait – swim in the Potomac? Didn’t the EPA prohibit that last year?

Her: Yeah … but we got a one-day waiver for the race.

Me: Oh … that’s great.

So I wasn’t exactly sold on The Nation’s Tri – but during the run, I was definitely warming to the tri club. They were all friendly, and didn’t visibly mind a middle-aged dude hitching a ride during their workout.

I liked them even more after we cruised past the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials, and one of them announced that we’d do two laps of pickups around the reflecting pool.

We ran fast on the straightaways, and rested across the ends. On the second lap around, two characteristics of the reflecting pool became apparent that I hadn’t previously appreciated: namely, it is 1) much longer, and 2) much more narrow than I ever realized. The rest breaks seemed terribly short, and if we had tried a third lap, I might not have hung with the group all the way around.

After the intervals, we regrouped and ran steadily along the eastern shore of the Potomac, past the Watergate Hotel and Kennedy Center, and onto the C&O Canal trail back into Georgetown. We traversed the cobblestone streets around the university, finally coming to rest at the foot of the John Carroll statue on the main campus plaza. I thanked them for their time, shook hands all around, and jogged back to my hotel in the evening darkness.

The run ended up being about 30 minutes and 2 interval laps more than I had intended when I left, but I was thankful for the experience. It demonstrated how easily the sport of triathlon bonds people who wouldn’t otherwise hang out together.

It also reinforced my affection for this home away from home. And while I’ll probably never return here to do The Nation’s Tri, I’d definitely look forward to working out with the college tri club again.

14 comments:

Jodi 11/12/07, 2:26 AM  

What a great story! It's great finding friendly faces where you don't expect it.

Don't blame you on the Potomac thing...

:-)

Jodi

Matt 11/12/07, 7:04 AM  

This just goes to prove my point, Triathletes are some of the nicest people out there. I doubt you would have gotten that kind of reception from a cyclist group. Btw, I've been banned from wearing compression shorts and shaving my legs by my wife. I'm having to rely on other tri grear to get noticed and recognized as a triathlete while training. I'd hate to be mistook for just simply a runner (ha ha).

Deene 11/12/07, 8:22 AM  

great story. i like the instant comraderie with strangers that appreciate the same sport.

Makita 11/12/07, 8:26 AM  

Comraderie is a powerful thing. It is what I like so much about blogging because I invariably run alone. :)

Backofpack 11/12/07, 8:33 AM  

That sounds like so much fun Donald! I can't wait till next fall and the MCM. We got to run through the area the day before Eric ran MCM, but I was still sick back then and only got about five miles in. I'd love to go for longer now.

I believe you'd get the same reception from a group of runners, too.

And, how can you be middle-aged when you are about, I don't know, 20 years younger than me???

21stCenturyMom 11/12/07, 8:51 AM  

Triathletes are just the bestest people ever. Hands down.

I am totally sold on the Nations Triathlon. I would love to do that one and the NYC triathlon just for the "cool" factor of getting access to those courses.

momo 11/12/07, 9:27 AM  

just being able to run in dc and look at all the amazing tributes to our nation is incredible, then meeting some cool people along the way - well, it sounds to me like a win/win. :-)

enjoy your own bed!!

Darrell 11/12/07, 7:51 PM  

DC seems like a great place to run. The day after MCM I saw lots of runners out on the National Mall, it was very cool.

the Dread Pirate Rackham 11/12/07, 10:05 PM  

aww, see? we really are all just nice people!

rick 11/13/07, 12:40 AM  

That was nice of them to take you along, D.C. runners always that nice?

So let me get this straight, umm you shave your legs even when you are not training for a triatlon? Whew, nice, thought it was only me.

Lesser is More 11/13/07, 10:03 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lesser is More 11/13/07, 10:06 AM  

Sounds like a great run. I'm not so keen on swimming in the Potomac either. Especially not after this

olga 11/14/07, 9:40 AM  

Bteween you and Rick...I don't know, man, off season? Ok, OK, whatever, we still like you guys, and I am with Michelle - what kind of middle-aged are we talking about, I beat you easily and think I am a hot young chick!
That's a great story, really. I feel you on the second loop though:)

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