Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Running in the mountains

I hope everyone had as good a Labor Day as I did. This year I traded a hot dog and beer coma for hours of trail running and some camping. Was there beer? yes... Was there hot dogs? yes.... The main focus was the trail running. A dinner party brought me to the Shenandoah Valley this weekend and besides making a little money the idea of spending all weekend running around the mountains was a welcome idea.

A day before I left for the Shenandoah I put a post on WVMTR's Facebook page, a call to anyone wanting to run 24 miles out in that area on Sunday. A familiar voice called back, Terrapin 50k race buddy Kenny sent me an email and shortly after that, we had a plan (kind of). All we knew was we were going to run on the Allegheny trail. What we didn't know, is what was in store. The plan was 2 pm at exit 1 on 64, which turned out to be known as Jerry's Run. For those interested in exploring the Allegheny, the southern terminus starts at Jerry's run. Coming from the North you would take I-64 west off of I-81 and take it to exit 1 about 55 miles, from the exit turn right and continue on the gravel road past the sign that reads ".25 miles road ends". From the South, take I-64 east from West Virginia crossing into Virginia at exit 1 take a left and cross the over pass to the gravel road.

At 2:00 or shortly after that, I met Kenny on the side of the road, we parked there because of the strange people parked at the parking area. (I think a good tip for anyone, if there are strange people at a remote parking lot and you plan on being out for hours, park somewhere else and run in to the trail head) We headed out about 2:45, and since it was later in the day we decided to focus more on the time. So off we went for a 2.5 hours out and back. Our first impression was that no one had been out there in a long time. Not much happened to change our impression. The terrain was all but very runnable. A lot of the trail was more of a "connect the blazes" type trail and the amount of wrong turns we took was proof of that. Along with briars and prickers there was enough bear scat to put up a log cabin. I hoped for a sighting but no luck that day. All in all I had a great day, not surprisingly Kenny was great company and a treasure trove of info. Highlight of said info was the new water treating technique that I almost had to use. Summation of the day 15+ miles in 4:48, a very slow pace by normal standards but considering the 7200 feet of gain and loss, poorly managed trail, and wrong turns we had a good time and a good run/hike.

Day 2 put me about 40 miles east on I-64 at Douthat State Park. This was my 2nd visit there and I really love it. I put together a nice 13 mile loop on the fly. I was feeling a little stiff and exhausted, I think due to my deflated air mattress, putting my rib cage right on a tree root, or maybe all the driving, or even the realization that I had not had enough electrolytes. The latter of the reasons was a humorous realization mid way through my run on Monday. On the recomendation of a recent purchase of "Fixing your feet" a book written by John Vonhof, I purchased some lysine and glysine to ease an Achilles strain. The humorous/potentially dangerous part of this is that glysine looks exactly like Endurolytes. The bottle they came in was glass, I dropped it, put it in a baggie and stuck it in my running kit. Two weeks later I found them right before we stepped on the Allegheny. So for that 5 hour run and the 2.5 hour run the following day I was taking glysine, instead of Endurolytes. It doesn't work quite the same, either way I lived and ended up having a good run. If your ever near Douthat check out  The Buckhorn camp ground just out side the park heading toward Clifton Forge. Take care everyone, till next time.  

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