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Training Log Archive: TomN

In the 1 days ending May 11, 2019:

activity # timemileskm+m
  Rock Climbing1 1:30:00
  Road running1 55:14 5.8(9:32) 9.33(5:55) 131
  Total2 2:25:14 5.8 9.33 131
  [1-5]1 55:14

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Saturday May 11, 2019 #

11 AM

Road running 55:14 [3] 5.8 mi (9:32 / mi) +131m 8:54 / mi
shoes: Kayano 25

Patapsco parks cancelled today's event on account of rain last night. They're sticklers. So I ran instead.
1 PM

Rock Climbing (Great Falls) 1:30:00 [0]

Then I convinced Rob to go climbing at Great Falls. There was a 4-hour window before it was supposed to rain. Traffic was terrible going there, and even worse coming back. Something has to be done about Washington DC traffic.

This was the first time in more than 20 years that either of us had been to Great Falls. The park has been working (for more than 20 years) on the trails and historical structures, and as expected we had a little trouble figuring out where we were on the renovated trails. We roped up Dr. Needlepoint, a classic 5.9 that we knew very well back in the day. It just spit us out. We got less than half-way up with 3 tries each.

We explored our way to the Aid Box, which is now impossible to get to if you obey the trail closures, but we got there through the woods. It's a gorgeous place, all planes and angles and pointy-topped gray rock, and we roped up Splinters, a 5.7 that is the next-to-easiest route on that crag. Rejected again. I couldn't remember the moves, and I'm sure I used to coach beginners up the route. And my hands were not working well. By this point we'd spent a couple of hours at the park, and it was starting to rain. We bolted for the car.

A few thoughts: first, it's pretty clear these routes are not being climbed very much nowadays. On any Saturday there would be ropes on every crag and locals giving unsolicited beta to anyone showing the least hesitation. Now there is vegetation growing on the ledges and down-climbs, and indistinct pathways in the woods. We saw no one else climbing, and it was a perfect afternoon. It's because of the gyms. Second, there is a lot of conditioning necessary before you can climb on real rock. Your hands need toughening, because the holds are sharp with embedded crystals. Your forearms need work, because it's hard to hold on for the multiple reps and rehearsals necessary to succeed on these routes. The difficulty ratings are fair, but only if you have a solid base of climbing on these kinds of crags. I remember the first time I climbed a 5.9 at Great Falls, in the early '80s, and it was after 3 of us had spent weeks and weeks trying to get up this one route (it was Diagonal, in the Aid Box). Then suddenly we all could. You have to pay your dues.

I'm ready for more, but I see it's going to take some time.

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