Thanks for everyone's great comments and insights on my post about women-only races. I really appreciated the discussion!
Marathon training is really taking over Outside Time lately, but I still want to post a few of my favorite things from Thailand, plus some my outside adventures in my new non-city in North Carolina.
First up: Eno Rock Quarry!
James and I had been hearing about "the quarry" ever since we moved here -- it's a popular spot on the weekends and after work/school. It's already mid-September but still feels like July to me, so on another 90 degree afternoon we decided to check it out and go for a swim.
Eno Rock Quarry was mined for stone for I-85 in the early 60s. When it was shut down, it filled with groundwater and became a 4 acre, 60' deep swimming hole. (...did someone say "swimming hole?" The New York Times is on it.!)
There's a short walk through the woods to get there. I was wearing flip flops, but the path was well worn and wide. It would be great for running!
The path was reinforced with wood beams in places, and there are even little stairs built in here and there.
After we crossed the creek, the quarry appeared in front of us:
Photos don't really do it justice. The water was very clear and glassy, completely unlike other freshwater lakes and ponds I've swum in before. Looking in, I could see some big stones along the banks, then nothing. The ground just drops out.
The banks of the quarry are very steep (and it's a little bit scary, knowing how quickly you're in deep water) but it is possible to wade in slowly if you find the right spot. The water was warmer than I thought, but there are cool spots that reminded me how deep it is.
There were a bunch of floating logs in the water, which I guess people use for floating, because once you're in the quarry, there's almost no place shallow enough to touch, so you have to keep treading water. I swam over to one and almost sat on it, only to see a big spider and have a mini freakout (then I was very embarrassed).
It was still early when we arrived, but as we were leaving some kids showed up and started jumping.
I was apprehensive about jumping without watching some non-newbies go first. The cliff is about 18 feet high, and it feels really high. The kids gave me a short lesson on how to do a running jump, and which trees and rocks you have to be sure to clear. It looks like a ton of stuff -- if I hadn't seen them do it, I would think it couldn't be done. But amazingly, the running jump was enough to easily clear everything. I couldn't stop watching -- it just looks like impossible, and it's weirdly hypnotizing to watch kid after kid clear it.
It's not unheard of for there to be leftover construction equipment at the bottom of quarries -- cranes, dump trucks, old cars, and whatever else people throw down there, but a diver went to the bottom of the quarry a few years ago and found nothing. So it's probably fine...right?
After watching them go a few times, I briefly considered jumping, too.
I'm normally above-average adventurous, but even after watching for ten minutes or so, it was still too intense. In the end I wasn't brave enough that day. One of the kids said not to worry -- it took him two hours to do his first jump.
Maybe next time?
In running news, I just realized I'm racing the Midtown 10k this weekend as one of my Pfitzinger tune-up races. My 10k PR is 47:59 and I am not expecting to break it this weekend -- I haven't seen a single 7:xx split in two whole months of training. Oh well, that's marathon training, I guess!