My drama came the week before the RRing. Or, maybe I should say, the days after TWOT. I dropped at TWOT at mile 62, because of my breathing issues. My lungs seized up, with bronchospasms, and I really could not get the climbs in.
This also happened to me, at Reverse Ring, on the climb out of Veach last year. So I was hoping for similar conditions, to see if my tweaks to medicine and gear would help me. I am happy to say in advance this was a rather uneventful RR (well, beside Cam completing his DOUBLE that was the real event!!) So sit back, and enjoy the travelogue and pictures..
We got off promptly at some time after 6 am. I did get to cuddle with Keith Knipling in the front seat of the Q'baru as we tried to get to Signal Knob on time. But Bur wasn't quite organized, so we went off around 605..or so.
|Disorganized Runners at the Start. There should be 17 of us here..|
The rocks do not seem as loose, and you are not quite in the same level of despair as you are in the other direction, at mile 69 or so. As we climbed, and hit the flat-like ground at the top, the snow squall enveloped us.
This is where we hit the first wind of the day. The wind was strong and relentless. Not until I turned way down south, did I ever get out of the wind.
The snow blowing directly into my contacts and face gave me strong incentive to run down the rocky beat up road to get off Signal Knob.
As I descended, and the temperature got a bit warmer, I did get out of the snow squall.
I took the orange blazed trail around the reservoir and giggled to see the thong still on the sign..
I ran all of the road down to Powell's Fort, stopped at the spring to refresh, and then the short climb.
From Powell's Fort to Woodstock is some good runnable ground, but I have to keep reminding myself to run through here.
I catch up with Quatro through here. We don't talk much with the winds being so high. But Q mentions the "oxbow" and I have to ask what that is. He indicates it is the bends of the Shenandoah River through here, and I immediately see this.
Q and I catch Vicki and Barb through here, and we all converge on Woodstock about the same time. That's good; that means the back of the pack is together and the AS workers are not hanging out waiting for the last straggling runner.
Woodstock to Edinburg
This is a section I struggled through during The Ring in the Fall. Nothing looked familiar (well it was dark) and it just didn't catch my attention. I paid more attention this time. This section really doesn't have the views to the west at all. The best part of this section was some of it was sheltered from the wind. In fact, the sun came out, and I almost felt sleepy and warm in the sunshine. Q mentioned that could have been the quality 4 hours sleep the night before (and 3 hours the night before that).
Edinburg: Here Comes Short Mountain
It was great to descend to Edinburg Gap. Except they were in a wind tunnel. I got a cup of the famous Pesta chowder, and hunkered down beside a big SUV to stay out of the wind. I grabbed fresh malto bottles and got the heck out of there, that wind was killer.
At this point, I am still just wearing a single merino wool top. I know with the climbs I will heat up. I do have a windbreaker in my pack.
|Kimba a bit windburnt here|
This was a cool rock formation here. Trail is here somewhere too.
I decided to count the PUD's on Short Mountain. PUD's are "pointless Ups and Downs".
I remember...4 or 6 on Short.
There are at least 19, people!
I do stop through here and put my windbreaker on. It helps. The wind is never ending. It blows and it is so noisy.
I get to Moreland Gap, and now I just have to go over Kerns and Jawbone. And hopefully get out of this never ending wind.
Going over Kerns was my low point. And I believe it was more a function of the wind that anything else. I'm moving slow, over the rocks, and the wind won't stop. I think I am getting a wind psychosis happening. I've heard of wind driving people crazy, and I can see how that can happen.
All I want to do is descend to Crisman Hollow Road, because I know I will then go down Waterfall Mountain, I will be at the bottom part of the MMT loop, and maybe the west wind will go away.
Shortly before I hit Crisman Hollow Road, the trail drops behind a big rock and I am cut off from the wind. It is suddenly still. And warm. I feel 40% better.
I get to Crisman Hollow Road, with tons of aid food hiked in, thanks to Stefanie for that!
Also, Walker had hot broth. That was a life saver. Getting some hot food, and knowing I was off Kerns, really perked me up.
|Windbreaker on Kerns|
I had a really good section from Crisman Hollow to Camp Roosevelt. I picked up my music and ran. The wind was far less through here. I wanted to make as much time as I could, in the daylight. There is a bunch of pretty runnable through here.
I remembered alot of this section. I remembered the first light bulb you see, which isn't the light the RR runner is looking for. I remember the bridge, and remember the campsite off to the right which is not MY campsite.
(This is from Friday. I was through here in the dark on Saturday.)
Then, I am on the road, and now it's a right up the hill and I am at Camp Roo!
It helped that I was in this are on Friday, and ran the trails through here.
I hear Slim whooping for me.
I was soo happy to see him. I had been looking for him all day, although I did not expect to see him, since he was crewing for Cam, not me. But I was hoping he would still be at Camp Roo for me.
|Kimba at Camp Roo|
|Sucking down the soup, trying to stand as close I could in the fire without melting my shoes.|
I passed my first tests out of Camp Roosevelt. I successfully found the trail at Edith Gap, and I did not step over this wall as I did last year!!!!!
|Don't step over this WALL!!|
Me sitting on the little wall, on the switchback. (On Friday)
Now I am on the east ridge. There is still wind, but nothing like the west side.
|View from Kennedy Peak, on Friday|
This is a pretty good representation of a good portion of the eastern ridge, probably just past Stephens Trail or so. You are up on the spine. There really is no where else for you to go.
But there is some runnable. I violate the first rule of trail safety and jam both earplugs from my Zune into my ears, turn up the volume, and I go. If I can just run some, I should catch Cam. He's got to be moving pretty slowly, so any jog of mine, should help.
I am almost to the Milford Gap Trail, where I spy some red reflections off to my right. Is that Cam over there? I stop and look in that direction. I finally focus that the two red reflectors are eyes.
Eyes of a cat. It is sitting on a rock. It has rounded ears, a long rounded tail. It appears to be tan colored, and it is short-haired.
Huh. How did a cat get way up here? I think. Oh. Maybe it's a wild cat. I study it for a few seconds more, then continue down the trail. It's not bothering me, I don't bother it. I idly think it must be a mountain lion, although it really doesn't seem that big to me, 20 or 30 lbs? I do glance back just once, but I see no eyes behind me.
Then, minutes later, I see a light, and a shout! "It's Kimba" I yell back. It's Cam. He's taken a nap and I have finally caught up to him, after thinking about catching him all day. He was with Jeff Gura, but Gura had to go on with Cam taking his nap.
All he wants is an antacid, and I gladly fix him up. Now we are together, and we've got about a 1/2 marathon to go.
Cam is doing really well for someone with deep sleep deprivation. He enquires if I will hit my 24 hour goal, and I tell him I don't care about that, now I am going to pace with him. But we are still running when we can! Because Cam's feet hurt horribly, he says they don't hurt more or less running or walking.
Veech Gap is cold. We're walking now, and it is really cold. My hands, in two pair of gloves, are cold. But my breathing is good. I'm so pleased about the breathing. I've been using my inhaler every six hours, and I've worn my mask since we started. I have not minded wearing the mask since it's kept the bottom half of my face warm.
We finally get off the ridge down to Elizabeth Furnace. Cam is careful to take us on the "Orange" Trail right at the river. Quatro and Slim are waiting on the other side. They offer us a ride. But now we have 3/4 of a mile to go, we decline.
There is one last little rude climb from Elizabeth Furnace to the Signal Knob Parking Lot. I indicate to Cam to go ahead. Even with his 71 miles addition on his legs, he can still climb better and faster than I can! Cam does not, and we run each other in at the end.
|Cam and his pacer/crew Kimba and Slim|
I finished the Reverse Ring in 26.35. High attrition rate, 7 finishers out of 18 starters. In the statistic field, I am now 100%, going 4 for 4 Ring(s).
I truly love the challenge of the Ring. It's a tough course. Your only motivation is yourself and a handful of other people who understand what you are doing. There is no medal, no buckle, and no shirt. It's a tough day (and night) of play on the rocks. But it is a good feeling of satisfaction when you finally sit down.
Can't wait to do it again!