Friday, June 24, 2011

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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)


  1. When I see photos of you running... the first thing I think of is how strong you look as a runner. Maybe I'm just reminded of how you looked flying down hills in front of me at the Masochist training run. Great running Beth.

  2. I have been so negligent in reading your post and for that I apologize. As for the Varmit, you just continue to amaze me what you can do on teh roads. I can't wait to see first hand how you handle Grandfather next weekend. Now as to Highlands, you ran a great run. Not that I saw you for very long, but you kept your head in the run and new what you needed to do. What a great Highlands and your first time there also. I had a ball. Can't wait to next year and I hope you will be along for the ride in the family van. See you Monday!