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!