Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Ridge to Bridge Marathon

After making the decision to pull out of Cheat Mountain 50, I realized my "racing" calender was sort of empty for the fall so I started looking for possibilities and remembered that Dennis and Doug were running Ridge to Bridge Marathon. They had both run R2B in 2010 and highly recommended it. I wasn't all that thrilled with my run at Grandfather Marathon in July so I thought it might be nice to once again try and break 3:35, but this time on a course more suited to my running preference (mostly all downhill) and with much cooler weather.
Waiting at the Start Brrrrrr - Photo: Randy Smith
Dennis and I drove down to Morganton,NC (race headquarters) Friday evening to pick up our race packets and grab one for Doug and Eva as well, giving us one less thing to worry about Saturday morning. We met up with the crew at  the Jonas Ridge Marathon gas station just as the buses full of runners arrived, I jumped out and quickly hit the port o john before they unloaded. We were lucky that Eva's friend Chris was going to meet us at the finish, so we loaded up our post race gear for him to shuttle to the finish and after standing around freezing for a while I got up the nerve to shed the puffy jacket and head to the start. 
It was a beautiful fall morning and I enjoyed chatting with Doug for the first bit as my feet began to thaw. My toes were seriously frozen! We ran through rolling rural countryside, no worry of traffic and did a short out and back (about 5.5 miles) before turning left on an unpaved road for the 9 mile descent! I took it easy on the road section and tried to take the advice of the RD: 
 Miles 1-6: Run comfortably within yourself here. Your early-miles adrenaline will carry you through but don’t be tempted to overdo it. Take your goal time and break it up into 26.2 equal bites (your pace per mile). Don’t worry if you find yourself 10 seconds per mile behind goal pace over the first six miles. You’ll easily make this up over the next nine miles with no additional effort. Stay calm, conserve your energy, and remain comfortable. 
The Downhill Section Photo: Willie Lowe
I did stay very calm and comfortable and enjoyed passing the other runners on the out and back section, cheering people on and seeing some familiar faces. I knew being conservative on the first road section wouldn't be the problem, but I had been warned of what could happen on the long downhill stretch and I needed to focus on not being to overzealous and killing myself on the downhill. Sounds easy enough, settle in a comfortable pace, soak in the the beautiful scenery, nice and it. 
I was rolling along thinking how nice it was just to let gravity do the work and my assessment was that the grade was not so steep that it would completely trash my quads so I floated along waiting for the aid station that had gels so i could restock when enter into the equation being passed by another female. She quietly came out of nowhere looking very strong and focused, I had seen her on the road early on and now she was back pushing the pace on the downhill, checking her watch often, she had a plan. I was feeling good and wasn't going to let her go without a bit of a "fight" so we exchanged a few words about how beautiful the course is and how perfect the weather was and then it was back to business, we yoyo'd back and forth until eureka! the table with the gels! I had to grab a few as I only started out with two in my pocket (not enough), just enough of a pause for her to move ahead. I looked up and saw she was in pursuit of two other females up ahead. I took a gel and settled back in and before too long we hit the bottom and were back on the pavement (ugh)  
Wilson Creek Photo: Willie Lowe
We turned left for a short out and back and my legs felt like lead. Great, I had overdone it, I had been warned! Dennis had told me about this section and that he died there last year but after a couple miles his legs came back and things turned around so I kept hope and plugged along, seeing the ladies I had chased down the hill on the out and back and hoping they were feeling just as sluggish (or more) :) Luckily that must have been the case as I caught them going down the road along the banks of Wilson Creek. It was breathtaking running along the water with the sun glistening off the surface.  After a couple of miles of flat road things began to pick up again and I wondered what kind of pace I had going? unlike most races I had a watch on and decided I would try and figure out the lap feature, what better time to experiment than in a race :) 
I had noticed at the half I was around 1:35 so maybe there was still hope in breaking 3:35??  I punched the lap button at the 17 mile marker and prayed I would remember to do the same if I saw the 18 mile mark. Much to my surprise it all worked and in a fog I think I saw a 7:48 split?? no way? under 8 min pace? couldn't be? check it again at 19? you should have figured out how to do this before the race.... I passed the aid station at mile 18.5 and saw Chris waiting there for Eva with Annie (her beautiful, non-barking! dog) hit mile 19 and checked the time, again under 8 min pace? can I do this for 7 more miles? each mile I checked, shocked me more than the last and fueled me to keep digging deeper. I had secretly wanted to qualify for New York Marathon, a 3:23 qualifying time for me, which I felt was outside my reach, but I kept thinking maybe, just maybe...what do I have to lose, if I crash in the last little bit at least I tried... 
Final Miles Photo: Willie Lowe
Mile 23 came up quick and then I switched to the just a 5k left mentality, almost there.. then up ahead more motivation to push, someone to catch.  I slowly gained ground, passed her, and then maybe a 1/4 mile down the road, a guy with a camera spotted her behind me and started cheering and taking pictures. he began running with her and coaching her along and soon they passed me, no problem, I'll just pretend he is my "pacer" and stick to them like glue! they won't be able to shake me, haha. that lasted all of about 3 min. and they dropped me, argh. I tried so hard to catch her at the end but it just wasn't happening, (you can see in the photo above, I'm in pink) I could see her just ahead but my legs would not move any faster. I crossed the finish line 26 seconds behind her, but couldn't be upset for long when it sunk in that I finished in 3:16! I was happy as a clam. I ended up 4th Female, 30th overall and got the course record for female age group 30-34- 3:15:56 (chip time) way beyond anything I had expected.

Photo : Bobby Aswell
Photo: Randy Smith

We had a blast eating, drinking, soaking in the river, laying in the sun! it's the perfect post race hangout spot along the river. David and Rhonda do such a fantastic job with this race! Dennis, Doug, Eva and I all made 1st in our age groups and each got a nice piece of pottery. Annie (the dog) ran her longest distance ever with Chris and supported Eva! It was a great day!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Feeling a little "Cheated"

For a couple of years I have wanted to run Cheat Mountain Moonshine Madness 50 Miler and it kept conflicting with life until this year when everything seemed good to go! I was all signed up and feeling strong, recovering quickly from Grandfather Marathon gave me hope for a strong race in August.  We had a great vacation in Maine the week after Grandfather and I managed to get in some good runs on the trail and road. I returned home and jumped right back in, joining Eric and Jenny for a run in Damascus on Sunday then the classic DAM8 Wednesday night run. I felt great, strong, focused, trail running bliss, followed by a soak in the river. There was an Iron Mountain group training run planned for Saturday July 30th, running the back half of the 50 miler course. I was so excited to see everyone and get in a good long training run. I love that section and hadn't done it in a year so I was pumped. I rested on Thursday and then Friday I started to notice some pain in my left foot while doing some work in the field. I took some ibuprofen and didn't think too much about it until I hit the floor Saturday morning. I hobbled to the bathroom and proceeded to get ready, hoping that it would ease off as things warmed up?? I drove to Skulls Gap to meet the crew and realized when I got out of the car I had made a mistake, I was in denial. I could barely walk on it, much less run 20+ miles. I finally came to grips and teary eyed got in the car and drove home. I was totally bummed. I decided to start ice, and ibuprofen but I had to be productive, I couldn't just sit still so I would ice then get up and hobble around, rinse and repeat. I could walk on my tip toe, I just couldn't put all of my weight on it, no problem.....until that night when even tip toeing around became an issue and I was going to have to resort to crawling. Sunday became a mission to find crutches. How did I go from awesome run on Wednesday to crutches on Sunday? what the heck.
All research online pointed towards Peroneal Tendinitis. A trip to the orthopedic confirmed said online diagnosis and it was recommended that I take 800mg of Ibuprofen 3x daily for 10 days and consider crosstraining more in my life. Every time I get an injury I promise myself I will start weight training, yoga, biking, being a more well rounded individual, then when things are operating smoothly running is all I need. I have broken this promise many times and may never learn my lesson it seems.
Luckily I've been able to run again, nothing over 8 miles, but I'll take it! I just felt after 3 weeks of basically no running and the fact that things are not back to 100% by any stretch of the imagination, I should pull out of the race, that it would be unwise to try and run 50 miles. I want to move forward, and be running healthy as the fall weather is getting here! so even though I feel "cheated" by not getting to run Cheat, I am thankful for every mile.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

On the Road Again...

Doug super excited
For the past three years my July race has been Rattlesnake 50K in Charleston WV. Last year rumors were that 2010 would be the end of the race and they sadly enough turned out to be true. Grandfather Mountain Marathon has been on my list of things to do, but it had always fallen on the same weekend as Rattlesnake, so when Rattlesnake died it seemed like the obvious choice. It's fairly close to home, I went to college at ASU, lots of fun friends always run it, and it ends at the Highland Games!
leaving the ASU track
The questionable factor here is that Grandfather Marathon is a ROAD race and the last road marathon I participated in was in 2007, 4 whole years ago!how did that happen? time flies when your trail running I guess?? I really only step foot on the pavement a handful of times a year so I was worried the pavement would eat me alive and pummel me, leaving me hobbled for days, not to mention it's not "normal" to walk during road races and I love me some walk breaks :)
So word on the streets was that grandfather generally runs 20 minutes slower than your average marathon time so I had no intentions of busting out a PR on this course. Obviously if you are running from the Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone, NC at an elevation of 3,333 feet and climbing to an elevation of 4,279 feet where it ends on Grandfather Mountain in Linville, NC. it is NOT a net downhill course :) I actually heard a runner along the course asking someone where the finish was, and if it was a loop course?? really? did you even look at the website when you signed up?
So let's break it down. I have run 4 Marathons in my lifetime : Knoxville 2006-3:38 Rocket City 2006-3:42 Boston 2007-3:45 and Richmond 2007 - 3:35  so let's say an average 3:40 marathon time overall + 20 min would put me around 4 hrs for Grandfather.
I stayed with gracious hosts Dennis and Lou in Blowing Rock friday night so I could pick up my packet friday and not have to drive over early Saturday morning. We enjoyed the beautiful view off their back deck before turning in around 9pm. I slept well and was feeling good Saturday morning. Plenty of time for a shower and getting organized before heading to the start. We met up with Rick, Tammy, Ed, Doug, and Martha in the parking lot before heading into the stadium!

Team Triabetes!

I took a quick bathroom break and might I add much more enjoyable than most. The huge bathrooms at the stadium were perfect for a race! no line, no nastiness, no port o john! found my friend Steve as I was walking down to the track. He and his buddy David were running together in there team triabetes jerseys, they checked their blood sugar levels 18 times during the race. Very impressive duo!


I lined up on the track with Doug, his friend Beth (finished 3rd female!!) and Stan from Charlotte. We did two laps around the track before exiting the stadium and passing many of the buildings I practically "lived" in during college. I think I got a little carried away with the excitement and went out a bit to fast. no surprise there, but I knew within a couple of miles we would start to climb and I would naturally slow down and boy did I, haha. The heat and humidity seemed stifling and I felt a bit stressed with the task at hand. I was sweating buckets and soon lost track of hydration/electrolytes, my hands turning into sausages and often feeling on the verge of cramping/nausea.  I was fighting negative thoughts early on and trying not to let them take hold.
Sheep Herding
A mile or two before the half way point I met Eric from Alexandria. He was preparing for his first 50 miler in the fall and I struggled to carry conversation as I was sucking wind, but it did help take my mind off things and relax a bit. As we approached the parkway I spotted Rick and Tammy and got the Hootie Hoo. It was so nice to have them there cheering us on and offering up encouragement with a side of ice water!! They passed us in the family van on the parkway as we crossed Price Lake, snapping photos like paparazzi, cracking me up.

Eric and I crossing Price Lake

I never felt awesome, but I enjoyed the course for the most part. I yoyo'd back and forth with Marty Coleman and Sally Brooking until she pulled away as I got lazy and started taking walk breaks.
I absolutely loved the finish at the highland games! bagpipes playing as you weave through the crowds, making your way to the track at McRae Meadows. Quite surreal running alone around the track surrounded on the outside by scottish clan tents, the inside filled with competitors of the kilted sort; dancers, sheep herders, wrestlers, strong men throwing medieval type hammers! super neat stuff. I crossed the line in 3:57, just short of the 4hr mark.  Enjoyed cheering Doug, and Ed in and watching the games before the awards. I ended up with 3rd in my age group. We all gathered at Cafe Portofino afterwards and then I headed out with some old college friends to the Sugar Grove Music Festival! good times!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

July 4th Fun Run!

Happy 4th!! Elk Garden
Jenny and I had tossed around the idea of traveling to Sophies Death March with the VHTRC in the SNP over the holiday weekend, but Jenny ended up at the beach and I didn't relish the thought of spending that much time in the car over the long weekend, so when Mike Day mentioned he would be camping @ Grayson Highlands with family over the holiday weekend and would like to run I was all about making something happen. A few emails later, a post on the IMTR facebook page, and we were on our way!!
Rob French had also sent a message he would be in the Damascus area and would like to run! so knowing two north carolina runners were going to be in the area and eager to run was enough motivation! it's always a treat to have visitors and share the trail. The posting on facebook also caught the attention of Donna Bays and Sean Dunlap! and the usual suspects Rick and Tammy Gray and JJJ were up for the adventure as well.
JJ nearly lost a finger
JJ and I picked up Rob in Damascus on our way up the mountain and met the crew @ Elk Garden at 7am. Luckily, thanks to the GPS gods, the directionally challenged Donna found her way to the parking area for the first time as well :) We met a friendly dog in the parking area and snapped a couple photos before heading up to Grayon Highlands State Park via the Appalachian Trail.
It was a lovely morning and the conversation flowed as everyone was excited for the journey ahead. Some visiting the park for the first time! We took several pit stops along the way to regroup, chat, snack, it was after all supposed to be a fun run :) we wouldn't want to push the pace or anything. We wondered along the way if Tammy and Donna would be able to navigate the (new to them) trails we had described before leaving the parking area. We put down some wooden arrows on the group at junctions in hopes they would distinguish them from all the other brown stuff (unlikely). We turned off the AT onto the Mount Rogers trail. A bit grown over since the last time I had ventured that way and we had to cross one large blowdown. It's a great almost level trail, rocky in places but cushy in others, very nice in my personal opinion.
The Mount Rogers trail intersects the Lewis Fork Spur, a fun, fast, windy trail,  leading to, you guessed it, the Lewis Fork Trail! a wider, muddier, horse trail that climbs up at a gradual incline before you pop out at an intersection of the pine mountain, cliffside, and crest trails. We took the Pine Mountain Trail which ducts back into the woods for 1.11 miles before connecting to the AT again around Rhododendron Gap.
Donna and Tammy emerge from the Crest Trail

Sean, Me,Donna, Rick, Tammy, JJ, Rob, Mike
We stopped to chat with some hikers who were calculating their next move. JJ, or fearless leader and navigator extraordinaire gave them some helpful tips as we soaked in the incredible views. A bit of conversation and we made a connection with the hikers. They were friends of Mo, aka the Sultan! they had run his RAM fun run a couple of years ago! small world. Shout out to Mohammed who is currently climbing Danali! Just as we thought of departing I decided we needed another photo. As I was gathering my gear, we heard a familiar Hootie Hooo!!! Tammy and Donna popped up from the Crest Trail, having missed the turn onto Pine Mtn Trail. They were saying some foul words about rocks and how they wished they would never see another.. I hated to tell them the biggest were yet to come! we were super excited they had made it in time for the second group photo!  They took off on the AT, anxious to get in the final miles and we headed towards the spring for a refill and the spotting of our first pony! H20 top off and we were back on the AT, Once we arrived at the Mount Rogers Spur we took a vote on "summiting" Mount Rogers the highest peak in Virginia. Some won, some lost, but in the end I think we were all glad we made it to the top 5,729 ft, which may be the most unspectacular summit of any mountain? the only way you know you've made it is because you can't find the trail anymore :) lets just say all the views are down below, but it's a super neat trail with an ewok village feel and I dream of bottling the scents of pine along the way.
Herd of Ponies
The return trip was fast and furious, almost completely downhill and mucho fun! we stopped to view some ponies in the distance and dodge some hikers but gravity was pulling us along as we danced around the rocks, rejuvenated by the sights, and smells of such a special place. I'm will forever be amazed at the beauty found in and around Grayson Highlands and we only scratched the surface on our 13 mile jaunt. I felt watermelon would be the perfect way to top off a patriotic, all American fun and it hit the spot! thanks to everyone who came out and made it such a special day!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Double Header

The Varmint Half Marathon
Our travel plans fell through for the weekend of the Varmint 1/2 Marathon so I made my way to Burkes Garden to test out the pavement before Grandfather Marathon (my first road marathon since 2007)
 I hated that the trip didn't work out but I was also glad I was able to make this race! it's so beautiful and tough and I like to support Charity McDaniel the RD extraordinaire! she does a wonderful job with this race and is one of two people who have run it all of its 18 years!
This was my 5th year in a row making the voyage and even though I was sad not to have my cohorts Jenny and JJ along, I looked forward to seeing familiar faces and vying for another sheep! I had gotten slower and slower on this course each year and I was hoping to remedy that situation as well :)

2010Varmint Half Marathon31ElizabethMinnickF2925 - 291121:50:358:27
2009Varmint Half Marathon46ElizabethMinnickF2825 - 29171:48:4508:18
2008Varmint Half Marathon26ElizabethMinnickF2725 - 29181:46:570:08:09
2007Varmint Half Marathon23ElizabethMinnickF2625 - 29261:46:3608:08

It was a pretty uneventful race. I felt good and had a great time! I enjoyed running with Mike Helton for a while and chatting with him. I just felt relaxed and had a good run while watching the picture perfect countryside roll by. 
I was happy to finish 3rd female with a new course PR 1:44. Had a nice time after the race chatting with Kevin and Ann Townsend, Marcus and Kathy Boyd, Jared Bailey, Mike Helton, and cheer on the other runners. I felt unusually good after this race, no icky feeling, no stiffness or soreness. I was glad to be feeling strong and injury free for Highland Sky. Maybe Grandfather won't be so bad?

Happy Sheep!

40 miles of Wild, Wet, and Wrocky WV
Davis, WV
Monongahela National Forest and Canaan Valley State Park

Ready to Rumble
I had been sort of avoiding Highland Sky for a couple of years. I knew it was going to be tough and I'm a sissy like that. I like things the easy way, gentle climbs, great fast slightly downhill runnable cushy trails with pine needles and no rocks or roots, no mud puddles, no black flies, even terrain :) races with no heat or humidity.. (if you know of a race like this please do tell) so everything I had heard about Highland Sky sounded like the complete opposite,  but I sure do love Dan Lehmann and the West Virginia Trail runners, so I finally caved and signed up.
I was excited Jenny and Doug would also be going for their first attempts at this brut of a race and heck they have free beer! and not just any beer but the finest WV has to offer, brewed by the race directors own flesh and blood @ Mountain State Brewing Co. So we packed up the family van and away we went! 
Start to Aid Station #1 – 2.4 Miles
Was so nice to run down the road with Rick, Doug, Jenny, and Kathleen. Very rare we are all together during a race. We turned off the road onto Flatrock Trail which causes a bottleneck and running single file. I cruised thru AS1 as I had on my pack I didn't need a refill.
Aid Station #1 to #2 – 8.1 Miles (10.5 Total)
Mostly dodging shoe sucking mud holes, packed on the trail single file. Wondering why I was running and chatting with Vince Bowman, uh maybe I should back off, he is much faster than me? but tucking in behind him to get around a couple of long trains of people. Enjoyed his version of Gentry's escapades from the night before :) Kept wondering when the steep climb Potts had warned me of would begin as my legs were getting thrashed by stinging nettles, then suddenly we were climbing. I tried to stay motivated watching Kathleen bound effortlessly up the mountain as she yelled back "no walking". oh come on, just a little..
grabbed a gel from AS2, checked with a volunteer that I was headed in the right direction because the arrow on the sign pointed the opposite way and then continued on.
Aid Station #2 to #3 – 5.5 Miles (16.0 Total)
Ahh the Rocky Plains. Hmm what nice things can I say about this section??? let me think.....
It was beautiful, I got to run with Kathleen most of the time, ok I'm running out of positives.
I thought this section was difficult I most likely because you had to be so mentally focused on the terrain, which consisted mostly of rocks. I tried to maintain a good attitude but I was secretly dreaming of getting on that which they call the Road across the Sky!
Aid Station #4 to #5 – 3.0 Miles (22.7 Total)
Very pretty climb with lots of ferns, I think? I'm sort of blurry on this section. top of the ridge I was alone for a while on a nice section winding around before the 10 bridges over wetland area which was fun and the bridges were a welcome break from the rocks. I was happy to hit the road and knew I would see Tammy soon!
Aid Station #4 to #5 – 3.0 Miles (22.7 Total) & Aid Station #5 to #6 – 4.3 Miles (27.0Total)
Tammy was on the road just before AS #4. I had originally planned to take off my pack and grab a handheld of perpetuem and a 5 hr energy but realized with just a handheld I had no room for gels so I kept the pack but left the bladder empty. poor planning.  I decided to put on some tunes and enjoy the mindless road running to it's full potential! goodbye rocks! hello relaxation! it felt good to just run. I didn't even mind that you could see how the road went on FOREVER. everyone thinned out and I only saw a couple people the entire road section. There were lots of people out along the way at trailheads getting ready to hike.
Road across the Sky
I had some water at AS #5 to wash down the perpetuem. i entered AS#6 to a volunteer who said "you're looking awfully red".  I guess the sunscreen bath I took that morning had been washed off by sweat and I being the ginger kid that I am I was frying on those exposed mountain tops. He was very nice and sprayed me down or else I probably would have been blistered by the end.
Aid Station #6 to #7 – 5.9 Miles (32.9 Total)
Very much like a horse trail @ Grayson Highlands State Park. I felt like I was back at home.
Very pretty open meadows. Little bit of confusion when the trail turned left and the markers
had been removed. Luckily Dan's son Willie ran up and assured us we were headed in the
right direction. Trail turns into a large boulder field. I think I was having blood sugar issues in thissection. Was feeling wonky and having trouble navigating the rock hopping. The Lehman familywas holding down the fort at AS#7. I had a ton of orange slices which seemed heavenly and somemountain dew and candy. Yep, sugar issues.
Aid Station #7 to #8 – 4.0 Miles (36.9 Total)
Bobbled down the trail through more rocks and watery sections until the sugar kicked in and we crossed a highly trafficked section of Dolly Sods Wilderness and Timberline Ski slopes. Saw a good amount of hikers. Took a 5hr energy as we climbed up Salamander Ski Slope, not as much fun going up a ski slope as it is going down on the snow. The trails after that seemed like a mixture of mountain bike trails and bushwhacked trails, with several different types of markers, kind of confusing at times, but luckily my head was back on straight and I was feeling good.
It was nice to see Kenny and Kim at the last AS! always nice to see familiar faces. I filled my bottle and had some strawberries! shortly down the road I saw Tammy and Mason! dropped my pack with them and felt great running down the road. Unfortunately that great feeling sort of died when we hit a grassy patch along the road that was radiating heat and moisture, it just sucked the life out of me. We crossed the main highway and entered the resort area!! It felt great crossing that finish line! I had a great time cheering in runners with Tammy's nephew Mason and Jenny's boys. Then the best part is there is a pool at the finish! Mason, Rick, Doug and I took a dip in the outside pool and the inside pool~ it felt fantastic! The post race BBQ and beer were excellent and a good time was had by all!

Next time I run this I may have to break down and carry a camera. The scenery is stunning! Check out these great race photos!

 The End.
Final Road Section

Aid Station #9 to Finish – 4.1 Miles (41.0 Total)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Hoka One One Contest!

you may say that I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.....
I enter a lot of online contests for various things, running stuff, home stuff, hgtv dream home ( i want that one bad!).... and have never won a thing, ok my name did get drawn out of the hat for a bear bell at a race so there was that, but you can say I was a little shocked when I opened my email last thursday to find this!

Congrats Elizabeth!
You are the winner of some Hoka Mafates!
Please email me your size and shipping info.  I suggest going up half
a size from your regular shoes.
Great pics, would you be ok with us posting your entry on our blog?

I am anxiously awaiting their arrival! they no doubt are funny looking boogers, and will most definetly accentuate my size 10 platform, but don't judge a book by it's cover, right? and they aren't the typical "minimal" shoe on the market today, but quite the opposite with ample cushioning :) they are also way out of my price range for a running shoe, so part of me secretly hopes I don't like them because I won't be able to afford another pair, haha. I'm really excited to try them and if they make me run like Karl Meltzer then I will seek out a second job for my shoe fund :)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Happy National Running Day!

It is super convenient that National Running Day falls on Wednesday which is the one day of the week I pretty much always run on : ) my weekday running tends to be nonexistent at times, so I like to be consistent on Wednesdays. I know I've said it before but I love heading to Damascus once a week to run with the IMTR gang. Our little figure 8 route on the Iron Mtn and AT just never gets old. This spring the mountain laurel have been especially spectacular. I wish I had a picture to share, but this one from a couple years ago will have to suffice. I charged the camera up last week and forgot to carry it which means I also missed the opportunity to capture Eric Grossman in all his heat training glory, pants, jacket, and all....
Mountain Laurel - AT Damascus
So a lot has gone down since my last post.... Lots of great running fun to celebrate on this "holiday" lets see...

Trestle #7 - Virginia Creeper Trail 2009
 JJ and I volunteered at the Creeper Marathon the day after Terrapin which is always fun, but on a not so fun note I should mention that a month after that weekend our area was hit by several tornado's (very odd) the bridge that is located at the 11/16 mile mark of the Creeper Marathon is where we have volunteered for the past 3 years. It was destroyed on April 28th. It was built in the 1800's, was 650 feet long and 50 feet high. I have gone over this trestle countless times and it will never be the same. RIP Trestle #7 you will be greatly missed. More pictures of the trail 2010 and the trestle after the storm. There are plans to reconstruct the trestle in some fashion TBD.

Trestle #7 after the tornado April 28th 2011
4/2- Jenny and I did a loop a Steeles Creek Park- nice change of scenery
4/3- JJ and I did a new loop from FS832- Saunders Trl, AT, creeper, Taylors Valley Trl. Great new training route and always fun to explore something new, around 14 miles.
4/9- Trip to Louisville KY- ran with a local group from the Trail Store.
4/16- Cross Mountain Run - Rick, Dana, Clifton, Tammy.
4/17- Martha and Doug came over from Todd, NC to run with JJ, Jenny and I. Dam8 in reverse.
4/23- PROMISE LAND 50K - love this race. had so much fun. such a beautiful course.
Got to finish within a couple minutes of some of my favorite people
5/1- Rush Creek Loop w/ Jenny, JJ, Joey, and Mike with a great fried chicken lunch by the river afterwards.

Enjoying one of the many steam crossing going up Wrights Hollow
5/14- Massanutten 100 miler. Paced and crewed for Rick.

5/21- Ran from Cross Mtn to Damascus on the IMTR w/ Dennis. Mike Day and Brandon Thrower were in town running also.
5/28- Government Road Loop w/ Rick- always humbles me. thought it would be good training for Grandfather Marathon with all of the gravel road. my legs could certainly feel it on Sunday.

We are heading to the Red River Gorge in Kentucky this weekend to do some exploring so I hope to get a run in there, if you've ever been and have suggestions of trails let me know.
 I'm sad I'm going to miss the Varmint 1/2 Marathon on June 11th. It's such a special and incredibly tough race, with the coolest "trophy" around. I highly recommend it.
Jenny and I with our sheep 2010
Highland Sky 40 miler is right around the corner on June 18th!