I decided since Grindstone and the 100k are mountain races I should probably do a mountain training run. Whether or not this was an excuse to escape the city is completely up to you.
I left this morning after I got off work and was in the parking lot by 11:30. This is a much later start than I wouldve liked but hey I'll take what I can get. My plan was to do the 4.8 miles up The Priest and back down, stop by my car for a bottle refill and head up the Appalation Trail for the Three Ridges, jump on the Maw Har Trail join back up with the AT and loop it back to the car for a total of twenty something miles. (I don't think I ever know exactly how many miles or how long it took me...I'm not much for counting these things) things rarely go according to plan, but today did. The preist was a very long hill. Four miles up. I ran where I could, shuffled where I could, and hiked the rest. I passed one through hiker and was called crazy for running the section I was... The term crazy came up several times today, not something I'm particularly proud of. It wasn't raining yet but the fog made views that were normally spectacular completly blank.
For me, the rain was a nice addition to the experience, if i can't see anything nice, ya might as well make it pour...and it did. It felt good. because of the climbing, I was generating plenty of body heat even though it was pretty cool for an August afternoon. Reaching the top was very anticlimactic because of the lack of view but it still felt like I accomplished something.
The run down was a ride. The Rocks got very slippery but somehow I managed to stay right side up.
I started the Three Ridges trail in the downpour. I didn't mind it too much but my feet were nice and soggy. Climbing mountains is not something I would put on the "easy" list. It certainly has it's ups and downs...get it??? I thought of that one out there and had to make sure I remembered it.
ANYWAY, I got on the Maw Har trail and was in for a surprise. That thing is no joke. Once you get to the waterfalls, it loses all run-ability. Especially because all the rocks you have to scramble over were too slippery. By this time the rain had stopped, but everything was still soaking wet. At the top I made the sharp right to get on the AT and immediately started climbing...again. The good/bad news is I found out why they call it Bee Mountain. Bees everywhere. I don't know how but I didn't get stung at all. Horseflies were a different story all together. By the time I got to the scenic overlook many of the clouds had lifted to a point where I could see!
The big one up front is one of the three ridges and the smaller one in the back is Bee mountain.
From here I knew I had one more big climb and then the rest of the way was mostly downhill. At the top of the last mountain I came across three backpackers. They were very nice and the second and third of the day to call me crazy for running the mountains. We got talking and they asked if I was training for anything so I told them about the cross country run and this blog, I don't know if they will ever read it but if they do, what's up guys from DC?!?
The way down was much quicker than the way up and I felt some relief actually running again even though they were long downhills. I got to what I felt was a decent pace and was in cruise control.
Killer quad busting downhills tend to be where I pick up time the most. The way I see it, bikes can go faster on downhills, why can't legs? I know there are limitations but it's just the principle.
At the very bottom just before the parking lot is the Tye River where I decided to go swimming because I was very muddy and didn't want to drive home like that. All in all: great day.