Thursday, February 16, 2012

Hashawha Hills 50k

February-25-2012 will mark my first race since my drop from the Catoctin 50k last August. It will take place in Westminster, Maryland. The race is called the Hashawha Hills 50k Trail Run. It's put on by the Virginia Happy Trails Running Club. They put on some great runs and their volunteers are 100 percent committed to making the event the best they can. This year 120 people (if everyone show's up) will toe the line and give it their absolute best. This brief description is taken from the Hashawha Hills website:

"The course has about two miles of asphalt, three miles of gravel road, and 26 miles of trail. The course is mostly single track trails along with some old woods roads and open fields. The entire course is runnable. There are no mountains, no rocks, and no roots, but there are a few stream crossings (you WILL get your feet wet) and never ending small hills to wear you down with a few bigger hills thrown in just for fun. The scenery changes from mostly woods to meadows and open fields with beautiful views of rolling farmland."

Sound's like a perfect way to spend a Saturday. With it being 9 day's out, I know the weather can change over and over by race day. But so far so good, sort of. They are calling for a low of 37 and high of 48 with rain and or snow shower's. To me, that is perfect temp's to be running. But if it does rain/snow it could make for a muddy and slippery course. Yes, we all want to be kid's and go play in the mud. However, I would rather not do it while running. This past week I have been dealing with what I believe is Plantar Fasciitis. With that said, I am hoping to have the "easiest" 50k I can have. I have taken the last few day's off to rest, ice, and do whatever else I can to make this pain subside as much as possible. At time's I can hardly stand on it. So if the course stay's dry and I don't have to plant and slip all day long, it may turn out to be a pretty good day.

Not saying I have a shot at being near the top. There's no chance at that. There are some work horses that will be down there clocking some good miles. Local area stud's and Mercury Endurance standout's Matt McDonald and Jamie Boward will be there. They should be at or near the top. On the Women's side. Sarah Boward (Jamie's wife) will be running as well. Alisa Springman will be there looking to podium. I went over the entry list last night and was amazed at all of the talent that will be down there running. It should really be exciting and I look forward to giving it my best. I have a goal in my head that I want to run, but will keep that to myself. If all else fail's, I will come out with a finish and a bunch of photo's. I know one thing for sure. VESPA will keep me going for the long haul and I will stay clear and motivated. I will burn the right fuel. While Injinji's awesome Compression Toe Sock's will keep my calves and feet feeling refreshed and blister free.

Some year's back I raced a small 5k down in Westminster and recall it being a pretty scenic area. Where we live in Williamsport, the farmland's are disappearing, giving way to development's. It's going to be so nice to go down there and enjoy some untouched area's. That's why I have been enjoying trail running lately. I am starting to realize that these "natural" area's will not be around forever. I want to absorb as much as I can before my leg's tell me, "no more." But for now...

...All I keep thinking is this will be a great place for my first race back. I have logged the long miles in training so I am not worried about "going the distance." They allow music so I can just zone out and run the trail's and enjoy a day of getting fitter and being outside. I'll be looking forward to seeing some people I haven't seen in a while. And some unknowingly lucky people will be getting some free Injinji Toe Socks. Yep....I can't wait!!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

20 Miles on the Appalachian Trail

The Scenic Town of Harpers Ferry WV

Yesterday my buddy and I had the chance to enjoy a different section of the Appalachian Trail for the first time. We started at the base of Weaverton Cliffs in Maryland and made our way down the C&O Canal/Appalachian Trail for a little over 3 miles. As we made our way across the bridge and into Harpers Ferry WV, we enjoyed the nice little warm up before our initial climb. Lower Harpers Ferry is exactly that, lower. From that point on we started climbing. First, a bunch of stairs leading out of Harpers Ferry and onto the actual Appalachian Trail.

Milburn Hitting The First of Many Stairs

We made our way up toward's Jefferson Rock and stopped for a moment so I could snap a few photo's. This was my first time in the town of Harpers Ferry so I was being a tourist. From there it was a mixture of rolling and twisting trail, eventually dropping us out at the bridge crossing at the Shenandoah river. The ground was wet and muddy because of the light snow-rain mixture from the previous night. It was cold but nothing that would have you shivering. We crossed the bridge and got back onto the trail. Another flight of rock steps to climb. From that point on it was a continuous climb to Loudoun Heights. As we made our way up the 1.5 mile climb we made our way through rock's and root's. A constant twisting and turning leading us in to snow.

Milburn Leading The Way Up The Mountain

The ground became slick and the trail was hard to pick up. At time's the snow would stick to the tree's and make it hard to see the white blazes. We made it up the 901 foot climb without any problem's. We took a moment so Milburn could down a gel and we could get a quick breather before heading out towards Keys Gap.

Me Taking A Quick Shot Before We Start Running Again

Today (Feb 11th) was an all new adventure for us. We have completed the Maryland section of the Appalachian Trail (42 miles) already and wanted to knock out some section's in West Virginia and Virginia. We chose to run just 20 miles today and see how the trail treated us. There are some hard section's with some serious rock patches but it's pretty tame compared to Maryland. After making our way through some rock garden's we were able to get in a nice steady groove of running. Our footprints were the only ones on top of the mountain so we enjoyed some nice quiet running. It was so nice to get out there and enjoy such a good day. The snow falling made me feel like a kid out playing. We eventually made our way over to Keys Gap, where we decided to run a bit further to hit the 10 mile mark.

The way back seemed to go without any problems and the trail seemed easier to run. We did pass two other runner's and a walker at the parking area near Keys Gap. Near the top of Loudoun Heights we passed two hikers. That's not bad at all. Seeing 5 people on the Trail is a good day.

A Little Of What We Enjoyed

Milburn was out in front of me as I enjoyed snapping photo's to later show my wife and daughter. I had to play catch up for a bit and caught him on the descent back down the trail towards Harpers Ferry. I messed up our combined streak of not falling while on the trail's. It would have been 43 miles at the end of our run but I slipped going down the mountain. Nothing major, a minor spill really, but it was a fall. As we crossed back the bridge of the Shenandoah I snapped a photo of part of the area where we just ran.

The Fog and Snow Covered Mountain

We sidetracked our way over to the Appalachian Trail Visitor's Ceneter before making our way back to Weaverton. The difference in temperature on top of the mountain to the basin was drastic. The snow had turned to light rain at times and the sun was shining now. The fog that had been there burnt off leading to a very pleasant day. The Lower Harpers Ferry area now had some people walking around checking the sight's out. It really is a nice area and has some major historical landmarks. A must see for sure. However, today was not the day for us. I snapped a few more photo's as Milburn continued running. I eventually made my way up to him and we enjoyed the flatness of the Canal leading back to where we were parked.

Milburn Crossing The Potomac Back Into Maryland. Maryland Heights Looming Above Him

Overall it was a good day of trail running. We enjoyed seeing some new trail's and knocking off some more of the Appalachian Trail. This capped off a 58 mile week for me. I dropped my mileage a bit for recovery this week but hope to bring it back this coming week. Get out there and enjoy your life!! Have a great week!