Monday, August 30, 2010

Getting My Head Around It

I've got a race this weekend.

Well, okay, not a race. A FatAss. An event.

An event which encompasses the entire 71.1 miles of the Massanutten Trail.

Sigh. I'm really in over my head. Or at least that's the why I feel. The more I read, the more frightened I become. (Then Kim, stop reading!!!!)

Tonight I went over the map, to refresh some of the names. Signal Knob. Veach Gap. Camp Roosevelt. Lots of labels with "Mountain" on them.

Tomorrow I am off work. I need to pack my clothes for the run; my single drop bag I am allowed. I need to look over the map some more. I need to laminate the MMT Trail description (which is backwards to the direction we'll be running, I guess that will keep me alert!)

I need to get up around 3am on Friday to meet Slim over at New Stanton, PA, for the rest of the trip south. I've agreed to a orientation run/hike at Bird Knob, since I won't get 'enough' of the MMT Trail on Saturday and Sunday.

I'm seriously out of my league with this run/event.

But, as I contemplate what I just typed, how do I get any better? I like to be familiar with a trail. How do I get familiar with a trail? I gotta get out on it.

I'll be the slowest runner out there. I know that. That doesn't bother me, so much, as the much more talented runners bound up the trail, out of sight, within the first 1/2 mile of trail.

But I really hate to tie people up. To make folks wait for me. That's my biggest issue with being the slowest runner out there. I hate that people, the RD, the timer, the last AS workers, have to wait until I come by.

So I am hoping the folks of VHTC will tell me when I need to stop. I don't want them to be waiting on one poor slow runner who has fallen way behind the curve.

I also am not planning on quitting.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Aid Station Report Cheat Mountain Moonshine Madness

The 3rd annual Cheat Mountain Moonshine Madness 50 Mile Race starts at 9 pm at Camp Pioneer, just outside Beverly, West Virginia. The race is a 'lollipop stick' meaning you go out 12 miles, then run a big loop, then run back the same 12 miles.

This being the case, Aid Station 2/7 is right at the start of the loop. And the trail!!! The first 12 miles of the race is road, mostly dirt/gravel...and mostly up. And up. It's a 12 mile climb up Cheat Mountain.

I was AS Captain along with fellow WVMTR member Mike. We also had Lori D, a newer runner and new trail lover, and Lora, a veteran AS worker (Liberty grad/Horton race worker). Lora had brought along 3 very amusing college students who were using the AS experience as their community service hours. Hey, nothing like build a campfire, sleeping in a car, and lying to people (" you look great, it's all downhill...." etc) for your community service hours! We also had the "sweeps" working our AS until their sweep job began. We got along great with the sweeps when I mentioned beer for the AS workers...

Most runners were in a good mood and relieved to be at the start of their trail running. Some didn't know what a gnarly trail they were embarking on (see previous post for photos.) One woman was complaining vociferously..not a good sign 12 miles into your race...but most were good to go.
We had runners from around 1030 pm to midnight. We still had a few folks unaccounted for. Lora hopped in her vehicle and drove back to the last AS, and came back. Nope, everyone was through. Then the sweeps work began, and they left us. Their job is to stay behind the last runner, so no one is left out on the trail. They were also picking up the trail markers from the race.

I went and got in my sleeping bag in the tent I had set up. I don't think I actually slept, just relaxed and listened to the college kids playing a word game. It seemed like about 20 minutes had gone by and a vehicle pulls up horn blowing. It's Adam Casseday, Race Director, letting us know the first runner, Jeremy Ramsay, will be blowing through our AS anytime.

Sure enough, Jeremy comes through just about two minutes later. About ten minutes after him, the other front men appear. Now the folks are trickling through, usually in pairs. I turn my chair so I can see the runners appear around the corner.

Due to the great diligence of our college workers, we have a roaring fire all night. I was snug in my coat and chair. It seemed like every time I turned off my head and got more comfortable in my chair to nap, another runner would appear!

Everyone seemed in good spirits too. We even commented on a few folks that had been a little ill on their first trip through our AS were feeling much better. One group of three were in particular loud spirits-a pacer herding her two very young runners through. The young guys were tired and just saying gibberish (pretty common this late in a race). The female with them still looked fresh. At the finish line, I found out this was their first 50 miler, their longest run.

Before long, the sun came up, and the sleepiness and fatigue fell away on cue. We started to get things cleaned up and packed away. Looking at our list of runners, we had most checked off. However, without any form of communication working, we had no way of knowing if these runners were still in the race or had dropped somewhere.

The sweeps came through, and we knew we were released! As we descended off the mountain, the fog came up and it was colder down in the valley. We passed all the remaining runners on the dirt road, and I tried to yell at each one and give them a thumbs up as we passed.

I got the vehicle unloaded of the AS stuff and hung out for a little while, then decided to drive home before it got too late. I made it about 1.5 hours before I stopped for a little power nap. More caffeinated beverages and a phone call got me the rest of the way home. I then took another 2 hour nap before I tackled unpacking from the trip.

It was much fun working the Aid Station. I encourage you, if you've never been on that side of the table, to put some hours in. Runners are very appreciative of having some food, beverage, and encouragement out in the middle of the forest-and in the case of CMMM-the middle of the night!!!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I'm Back!

I've been in *internet hell* for the last ten days. We exceeded our "allotment" of XX bytes or whatever from our satellite ISP. So when this happens, they impose a rolling 30 day blackout. Whatever that means. What it has meant is, we've been on a 'dialup' speed. Which has meant I've been able to read emails first thing in the morning. The dialup internet would not even connect for me in the evening. Frustrating.

So as a quick catchup:

I'm working an Aid Station at the Cheat Mountain Moonshine Madness 50 mile Run, in Beverly, West Virginia, this Friday night. Friday night? Yes, Friday night! Race starts at 9 PM. This is an all night run around Cheat Mountain. The race course is a lollipop, so runners will come through my AS twice, first around 10-1130 pm, then 4-7 am (ish). I plan on serving hot homemade (vegan friendly) potato soup. With the weather temps going to be in the fifties, I think the runners will appreciate this!

The Ring: This is a FA Event from the Virginia Happy Trails Club. 70 miles of the Massanutten Trail. Harder or easier than the MMT 100? God, I hope not! As Slim says, I am running the Ring as some homework for MMT 2011. And if the Ring wasn't enough, Jim Harris will do some climbing over on Birds Knob on Friday, before the Ring starts on Saturday. Goals for the Ring: 1) Not to die. 2) Finish. Simple enough!

After the Ring, it will depend on how I feel and domestic guilt whether I run the Groundhog 50K (my favorite 50K) the next weekend.

The next weekend after that is the YUT-C!!!!! That I am registered and cleared to run.
Then, the next weekend, the Akron Marathon. I am planning on breaking 5 hours in this race.

Then, it should be a taper down to the fall goal race, the West Virginia Trilogy!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

24 (or 25) Miles at Mohican

I got to the Covered Bridge a little find Terri Lemke and Mark Lemke there. Where were my friends from WV, that were up here, camping at Mohican? We decided they either overslept or were eating pancakes at Mellor's and took off on the Purple Loop without them.

Right on the Lyons Falls trail, as you start out, are some real muddy spots. The Mohican Trail Club has built these nice little wooden crosswalks across the areas. Terri and I carefully avoided them and walked in the mud. With the humidity, and recent rain, the boards looked really slick!

The loop to the Lodge was fine. We actually ran into another runner, who we kind of recognized (he had a "Forget the PR shirt on) but didn't know his name. We rehydrated and started on the orange loop.

The orange loop, starting out of the Covered Bridge, has some cursed climbs. This is the reason I wanted to run the orange loop. I reminded myself of this as we climbed. Terri and I chatted and chatted, and before we knew it, we were at the intersection of the "old orange loop"-and most of the hills were completed.

As we headed toward Hickory Ridge AS, there was still fog swirling around us at 10 or 11 am! Now that's humidity!!

We picked up Mark Lemke at Hickory Ridge, who ran the rest of the loop with us. I was beginning to get pretty tired on the downhill here; the heat and humidity was doing a number.

We got water at the Camp Office, at the campground, and started on the North Rim Trail, which is "only" one mile long, but with three short but steep climbs. These were tolerated, and we then hit the last section before the campground.

Mark and Terri got ahead of me, but slowed up and we hit the campground together. We got to witness some f-bombs with some sort of family altercation going on (at a camp site, not Terri and Mark!), and then the Covered Bridge FINALLY came into view!

Mark and Terri ran across the Covered Bridge, where our vehicles were parked, and I went directly into the Clear Fork River. While the water wasn't that cold, it was a bit refreshing when I sat down in the river.

When I posted and decided on what loops I wanted to run, I really wasn't thinking about mileage. I was more thinking about where water could be had on this route. So, somewhere during the run, when Terri mentioned we'd be doing 24 or 25 miles, I was kind of startled, I didn't remember (or think about) the orange loop plus the North Rim Trail plus the Gorge Trail through the campground!

So another good week of mileage. 59 miles last week, and 51 miles this week!


The 11 mile around the block got started later, around 8 am. Hot and muggy, as all runs have been lately.

This is the climb to the highest point on my run. The running gods smiled on me today, and provided a light breeze when I got up on the ridgeline. Despite it being very hot, I do remember this same run, in February, with a wind. I was worried about hypothermia and getting my arms frozen, due to lack of a windbreaker!

On top of the ridge, I spotted this pasture buster as he climbed through the fence! Busted!!!

View from top of the ridge.
Despite the heat, my run was going quite well. I was hitting the downhills much more quickly (and it is a hily route)

and I seemed to be running a bit of the smaller inclines more than usual. I still wasn't putting that much additional effort into the run. Perhaps a few more pounds off the body does improve speed.

I took a quick stop into Peoli Cemetery to see if anyone had left baseballs at the Cy Young grave.

No, not this week.

As I got to around mile 9, I did see that my time for this run was improving. And if I could remember, I usually finish up this loop in around 2.30. So I made a conscious effort to hurry. Not the easiest thing to do, as I finish up the run on the state route, with no berm, and several very good blind spots. Twice I had to jump into the high weeds due to 2 vehicles on the road at the same time.

But I still PB'd the run! (Personal best!) 2.20.43, which is a 9.03 minute improvement! I shaved around 40 seconds or so off each mile! Well done!

Check your equipment before you head out. I kept feeling a funny spot on the bottom of my foot. I thought perhaps the sock had gotten folded over. When I stopped for water, I took my shoe off to investigate:

Argh! I didn't even notice, putting the socks on! Check your equipment, people, before you head out!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

August Run

August run means hot temperatures and high humidity. Since I decided to sleep in, I didn't get my butt out the door till after 930 am to run.

I like being an ultra runner. It means I can have a full breakfast and still go off and run right afterwards. I had an egg, tomato, and Ezekiel Bread if you're interested.

I was happy to step on the scale today and see I have shed the 'vacation pounds' *8* that I had gained. I'm now back to 20 lbs gone, and am working on more.

It was tough conditions out there, did alot of hiking. My clothes were totally soaked through, even the skirt, by the time I finished up.

I was really tempted to take a dip in the lake. But it's about the temperature of bath water, then I would smell like algae, on top of sweat. So I by passed that.

This is actually the secret entrance to the bridle trail. There's a deer path through here.

So, 7.6 miles down for the day. Training (and eating) has been going well!


I had a nice little victory yesterday, during my run. I went out for a 6.4 mile run around the block. It was early, and already hot and muggy. I am wearing my hydration vest, since this is a bit longer run, and I wear the vest on any run over 4 miles, to just get used to the weight.
As I ran, I realized I didn't feel that good. I did have a quick snack of a graham cracker and peanut butter a few minutes before leaving the house, but the calories on Sunday had been earlier in the day. Also, I was sucking both air bubbles in with water with the tube on the hydration vest. I was getting air in my stomach, which seemed to make the water bounce around and really nauseaute me. So I felt like crap. But it's a loop, so on I went.

I was about mile 6, and thought " what a bad run".

About two steps later, I had another thought. No, it wasn't a bad run. I felt bad, that's for sure. Physically. But the run was fine, especially since I finished up in around the exact same time that I always run this loop. I felt bad, and had an uncomfortable run due to feeling nausea, but the run itself was fine. I immediately felt emotionally better about the run, and much brighter about the oncoming day.

This is called reframing. Weight Watchers uses this as a teaching tool.

To reframe, step back from what is being said and done and consider the frame, or 'lens' through which this reality is being created. Understand the unspoken assumptions, including beliefs and schema that are being used.

Then consider alternative lenses, effectively saying 'Let's look at it another way.' Challenge the beliefs or other aspects of the frame. Stand in another frame and describe what you see. Change attributes of the frame to reverse meaning. Select and ignore aspects of words, actions and frame to emphasise and downplay various elements.

So instead of labelling "the run" as a negative factor, as "bad" I put the negative thought where it belonged, just an honest description of how I felt. I hardly ever feel ill on a run, and hardly ever have nausea. But there's certainly nothing wrong with stating "wow I feel like crap, like I feel like puking". But that took the negativeness, (and like the run was a failure in some way) out of the run. I then felt very good about the run! Despite an upset stomach!

As an aside, I felt fine after the run.

Oh! As a postscript, I DID pick up the handweights when I returned home. I did one set of three excercises for my upper arms, really just to see how my right shoulder would fill. So I think, by calling myself out, helped!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Celebrate Summer!!

It's August...already!!! Get out there and enjoy the weather folks! I know it's been very hot and humid on most days, but you know what? You're not wearing mittens and a down coat!

This weekend was perfection for summer. The humidity was lower, which helped. The temperature was only in the 80s F, which also helps. Sky blue, white puffy clouds, the cicadas buzzing in the trees, the goldfinches dive bombing in the thistles.

Being a year round runner I get to observe nature up close and personal. It's fun to run by the same areas, and observe the differences. Right now, the "surprise lillies" or "naked ladies" flowers are blooming in the yards.

Apples are starting to turn red. Most trees look laden...the deer will be eating well for a short time...
Corn is tasselling...many fields are mown and hayed for the second time of the year.

And I did spot a few leaves starting to turn red!!!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Trail Run Sunday

Since we didn't go up north for a family get together (the husband has a cold that he doesn't want to spread to his brand new baby niece) I decided to spend the morning running.

So off to Salt Fork I went. The temps were just in the high 60's just starting to rise.
My left hamstring felt very tight and sore as I broke into a run. I was hoping it would feel better in a few miles. I had a climb starting almost immediately, so I felt that would warm it up.

We had several bad thunderstorms in the previous week, but we're almost in drought situation here, so the water just runs off. Except in certain spots on the bridle trail. I tried to run through such a spot, and got glued to the mud. Good thing I've been tightening up on the shoe laces, or I would have just ran right out of my shoes.

It was hot in the exposed areas, but cooler in the trees. Fresh horse poop on the trail warned me of riders out in front of me, and they had pretty much spooked any of the deer around.
A slow, nice run in the woods. I need to make a note of trail mileage. This was the purple bridle trail, doing the "outer perimeter" as I call it. Around 8 miles for this loop.
End of the trail, or at least for me. You leave the bridle trail for a 'deer trail' which will lead you into the parking lot.

My right foot, on the bottom and outside is aching a bit. It's been acting up that way kind of all week long. At least tomorrow is a day off from running, so maybe the foot will feel better. I'm looking forward to sleeping in just a bit tomorrow. I've been hitting the training hard, and getting a little sleep deprived because of it. This week is a different work schedule, so maybe I can get a few more hours shut-eye-and still keep the mileage up. The Ring is almost upon me. Not many training days left!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Long Run Saturday

A beautiful day for a long run. I was expecting high temps, so I was up by six AM, and out the door around seven. The weather was beautiful. 60 degrees!!!!

Fog prevented more pics from being taken.

I do live in the beautiful country, and I ALWAYS appreciate it. Years ago, I would be driving down Interstate 77, through this region, and think how pretty and pastoral it was. Never knew I was destined to live here!

Early miles went by uneventful and with no problems. The Great Dane that is the same height as me was not out. (It's kind of disconcerting to be eyeball to eyeball with a loose's good that he's friendly).

This was a road run. I had water and Gatorade seeded from the day before. When I hit the turn where I could either run to the Gnadehutten cemetery, I was actually okay on water, and eliminated about 3 miles from the run.

I was having no issues so far in this run. About this time, around 11 miles, which I call the "turn around point" my hamstrings woke up and complained loudly about being subjected to running on roads. In fact, they started to sulk and stiffen up. My 12 minute miles, on hills, were quickly turning into 13 minute miles-on level ground, along the river.

Still, nothing to do but soldier on. I went up my one mile hill, wondering why some folks in cars couldn't give me but a foot clearance when there were no other vehicles in sight.

I found myself taking pics of the random barns, both deserted and in use on this run. While there were many picturesque views, most didn't really translate to the camera.

These goats were quite handsome though. Two came running up to their fence as I came through.

Aren't they cute? I love their beards!

As time wore on, the day warmed up. I was running much of the time in the shade, which I was grateful for. In the last few miles of the run, I switched from podcasts, over to running music, to get me through the last few miles back to home.

Of course, when you are near to home, you know your running route and exactly how far you have to go. My course today dumps me on the State Route that I live on for the last two miles back to home. This includes a 1/2 mile hill, and NO Berm, as you can see below:

Yes, there is supposed to be a white line painted here, but it's faded. But it's right on the edge of the blacktop.

Random Encouragers

When I ran my 6.4 mile loop the other morning, I ran into the milk man. He drives a truck, picking up goat milk from the farmers in the area. The Amish farmers were lugging traditional white milk cans, like these:

out to the truck. I am very intrigued. I am wondering where the goat milk is off to.

Anyways, the truck driver of the goat milk gave me a thumbs up as he passed me on that morning.

And I saw him again, this morning, as I started out. And he gave me a thumbs up again. And he probably has no idea how encouraging, how great, that little gesture made me feel. We connected and he gave me kudoes for what I was doing out there. Just a simple little gesture. That's all it took, to give me good vibes and mention here on the blog!!!


My hamstrings were killing me. I was starving. I first took a shower, then ate 1/2 a Kashi Veggie Pizza, then drove my course to pick up my water bottles and get ice. The ice bath didn't really hurt sitting down into it (doesn't hurt that the temp is 80 degrees out). I also drank down a Recoverite when I returned home.

I also stretched. I need to get back to stretching. I like to stretch, and actually have a 10-15 minute routine of stretching. I'm very flexible, for my age, and a runner. I would like to keep that. It seems like most of the time I'm on a time constraint, but I know I always have ten minutes (hey I get to work 10 or 15 minutes earlier every day, I could use that buffer) to stretch.

Mileage: I'm at 51 miles for the week. Very pleased with that. I'm not sure what I will run tomorrow, as we may go north for a family outing, so playing that by ear. I am feeling a bit more confident about getting some miles in for my next event, which is fast approaching.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Little Victory

The lightning woke me early this morning. The rains started soon after, a torrential downpour. I rolled over in bed, thinking "well, I'm not running outside today".

Isn't that great? Since I do have the luxury of my own treadmill, I didn't think about bagging the run, just moving the location due to the weather.

Of course, it's now two hours later, and the storm has passed. I am planning on running outside. It's 72 degrees, and the humidity feels like a tropical rain forest out there. OH well!!! Still better than donning running tights, multiple shirts, ski mask, etc..!

Cheat Mountain Moonshine Madness

I have been cleared to go and volunteer at Cheat Mountain Moonshine Madness on Friday, August 27. This is a West Virginia Mountain Trail Runner Club Event; held outside of Beverly, West Virginia. This is an all-night run, starting at 9pm! I happen to be off that Friday and Saturday for work, so I am going to travel down and help out.

If anyone would want to join me, that would be cool! Race ends around 9 or 10 am on Saturday, so you would be home Saturday afternoon/evening or so.

Future Events

September is a great month for ultra running!

I now have Saturday, September 18, off so I can attend the Youngstown Ultra Trail Classic, usually referred to as the "YUT-C". I'm very happy about that, since I missed it last year due to having to work.
I'm conflicted over the other two open dates in September. My favorite 50k, the Groundhog 50K is September 11. I will be running the Ring the weekend before that (70 miles.) I'm not sure what kind of shape I will be in, so I don't know if I will be able to run the Groundhog 50K.

Looking at the next date, the Akron Marathon, I think I may run it. It's two weekends before the WV Trilogy. And besides, they sent me the little taunt postcard about my time, which is on my bulletin board right in front of me!

Monday, August 2, 2010

The State of The Blog

Readers out there, I have hit a monumental post!
1000 posts since 2006. I wonder how many miles, pairs of shoes, socks, visors I have also gone through in that time. Nope, I'm not awake enough to calculate such things.

When I started this blog I was rehabbing an injury. In fact, a severe IT Band from running my first ultra, the HUFF 50K in December 2005.
An excerpt from that first race report (not on this blog, but I did find over on the HUFF 50K Blog
"I was really beat after this, still am on Sunday. This seemed, afterwards, so much harder than running my first marathon. I guess because I spent 2 more hours than my longest run had been. I'm so glad I had some 24 and 26 miler runs in though, because for me at less, 20 mile training runs would not have done this for me."

I recovered from the IT Band issue in time to run my first 50 mile race, at Mohican, that June:

I was pretty much hooked on ultra running-and trails in particular after that. I've had my fair share of finishes, more DNF's, a mid-life crisis, and a weight gain. I had originally lost 75 lbs. Throughout 2007 mainly, I put almost 50 lbs back on. I was getting slower and slower in races, more despondent about getting timed out of races, and just not all that happy in general.

I changed jobs in June of 2009 and some MOST of the stress I was experiencing was gone. However, I was now having to deal with changes in schedules and work out patterns. Some races I could not get to because of work schedules. I timed out of Burning River in 2009, which really lead to a running depression.

Where I am going now

Around December, I decided it was time to snap out of this slump. I wasn't going to focus on 100 mile races. I would lose weight. I would get a running schedule. I would actually train.

So I did. I employed my friend and coach, Lloyd Thomas, for the first six months of 2010. Lloyd provided me with a simple training schedule, and recommendations of using a training log to track progress. With now reporting to someone, and being held accountable, I began running 5 days a week. Consistently. Even when I didn't want to. Which was probaly 3 days a week. I ran miles on the treadmill during the entire month of snow-covered February.

I lost some weight and got a wee bit faster. I did DNF another race, Laurel Highlands, but I don't feel bad about that.

The Future

Having lost some weight and training consistently, my thoughts turn to future races. 2011 in fact. I decided that I will put Massanutten as my spring race in 2011. In order to successfully finish this race, I need to some working toward that goal starting now, in 2010.

So why pick the hardest 100 mile east of the Mississippi? When I haven't finished but all the "easy" 100 courses?
Because of thinking like this:
"Ultrarunners tend to play it safe.
They line up "challenges" they know they can finish.
And run them carefully
Well within their "limits".
We believe that success is never failing.
At the Barkley success is about over-reaching our abilities,
and living to tell about it.
Sometimes success is getting your ass out alive.
Some people "get" the Barkley. Some don't.
But the Barkley is all about leaving the comfort zone.
The Barkley is about taking our chances with failure.
True success is not the absence of failure,
It is the refusal to surrender."
-From Laz, Race Director of the Barkley

I am nothing but determined. What I lack in speed I make up in determination, spirit, and focus. This is why I think I have a pretty good chance at finishing MMT 2011 with proper training.

So most of my races this fall and winter-starting with a run at Coopers Rock this weekend, The Ring, WV Trilogy, are focused on getting me on some hills-(mountains) for training for the race in 2011.

Thank you to all my readers out there. I have to admit, it was a bit weird a few years ago, to have a runner pass me and yell out "Love the blog!!!" or have people recognize me because of the blog. It doesn't bother me anymore, in fact, I feel flattered that folks know me because of it. It makes falling into a conversation with other reader/runners more easy. I've met many more runners because of my blog and then following other runners.

Some other forms of social media-Twitter, Facebook-has cut down on the ranks of the bloggers. As for me, I'm too wordy to get my thoughts into a 140 character message. You'll continue to get my thoughts for quite a while to come!!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Coppers Rock Day 2

Coopers Rock Day Two dawned on us early risers getting coffee on for the others. We got out of the campground on time and headed over to the Day Use lot. Then use slower runners started chanting for a start, cuz we need all the time we can to complete the 19.1 mile run!

Pictures are taken, and we are off! I lead the group out of the parking lot, because I am eager to get going. David soon passes me, and then stops to take a few pictures, then overtakes me again. Lew comes up from behind and passes, and I try to step up the pace-and then BAM!!! Down I go! On the same darn right arm that I fell upon during Laurel Highlands!!! Dan, Adam, Charlie come upon me as I am shaking this off..the last I see of them about this day.

It's a good day for a run. The weather is beautiful; warm (hot) but not that humid. We hit the campground restrooms in around the 3 mile mark and I make sure and fill up the hydration bladder, having fallen short on the run the day before. I'm pretty happy I was out on the same course yesterday (in the opposite direction) so I actually know where I am on the trail.

Another trio of guys-I believe it was Dennis, Pete, and (new guy?) passed me on the section called Rattlesnake Trail. I was calling it "JL's Funhouse" because it seemed like I was following ribbons up and over as many boulders and through rhododern trees. We pass under and in front of the Cooper's Rock Overlook,
but we don't get the great view that you get from above.

It seems I am quickly through the Rattlesnake trail but Garmin rings and tells me otherwise: that was a 25 minute mile!

Rock City is still cool to run through, the boulders the size of a battleship on either side of you. I then hit the big downhill, which is down a creek bed. These mountaineers. So clever to not bother slugging it through the woods to make a trail, just use the creek!

I don't see any other runners out there for quite a while. I get to the one section where we are out in the open, going across a power line. It's hot and exposed. As I run, I keep looking for an orange ribbon. Am I going the right way? I hope so, but come on guys, a ribbon! Finally I see a wee bit of orange and am relived. This ribbon leads the trail back into the woods for 10 feet, then I pop back out of the woods and know I have to climb the big exposed section to the top of the power line!
As I reach the top, I see tiny figures behind me just starting on the section. I wave wildly, hoping they will see me and know they have to climb that big hill too!!

I am rewarded by a huge downhill now, all the way back to the Henry Clay Furnace, where I pick up the Advanced Ski Trail. I make the decision here to cut off the last 4 mile loop, since I'm out of water-again! It's only two miles to my vehicle. I got a nice 15 mile run in, and then sat around and drink beer and talked the rest of the day and evening.

My husband, Dennis, joined us on Saturday. He cooked for us, well into the evening. He had fun. I'm glad he took the time away from working to meet my friends. And now he's not known as the "Invisible Dennis" any longer!

Cooper's Rock Weekend

This weekend, I headed out for the annual camping weekend hosted by the West Virginia Mountain Trail Runners. This year, we were meeting at Coopers Rock.

Coopers Rock State Forest gets its name from a legend about a fugitive who hid from the law near what is now the overlook. A cooper by trade, he resumed making barrels at his new mountain hideout, selling them to people in nearby communities. He lived and worked in the forest for many years.

During the Depression, between 1936 and 1942, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built numerous structures in the forest, often using durable American chestnut wood from trees that succumbed to a blight that nearly wiped out the species. Eleven of these structures, including the rustic picnic shelters near the overlook, have been included on the National Register of Historic Places.

Henry Clay Iron Furnace

Aside from the overlooks, the Henry Clay Iron Furnace is perhaps the most well-known portion of the forest. Accessible via the Clay Furnace or Clay Run trails, the furnace was built between 1834-1836 and produced pig iron. Capable of producing 4 tons of iron each day, the furnace employed about 200 people and operated until 1847.

Okay, end the obligatory tourist post. I got to Coopers Rock State Forrest, parked in the day use lot, and headed on down the trail toward the Henry Clay Furnace. The trail was rocky, as I had been advised.

I was immediately disappointed at my car when I pulled the camera out and the battery power was blinking. And I had just charged it! So much for great pics all weekend long.

I got to the Furnace, read about it, pondered what "pig iron" was, stuck my head inside the furnace. Appreciated how the works must have hauled "stuff" to feed to the furnace. Went running uphill. Discovered I was at the Clay Furnace parking lot, not where I planned to be, and reversed course to the Furnace.

Whereupon I met JL Brown, marking the course. We immediately recognized each other, (although not actually meeting previously) him by his mustache, me probably by being the only female brave enough to be running around the woods by herself. JL oriented me on the map, we chatted for a bit, and then I was off and running some more.

It was glorious running out there! The footing was rocky,the Forrest was pretty and fern ed. I was climbing up a dry creek bed aka "the trail". I reflected it was smart to use the creek bed as both the 'trail' and the creek. I wondered what happened in rainy season...

I got to "Rock City" and found out why it was called that. I was traversing between two huge boulders that seemed as big as battleships. Then I was ducking through a weather rhododendron section.

Then it appeared I was on "Rattlesnake Trail" which is the area close to the Coopers Rock overlook. There was no running here! This was a climbing up, and down, and through, and around huge boulders. JL had thoughtfully marked this well with flags.

I kept hearing voices around me, as I crept around a very steep overlook, still climbing through rhododendrons...I'm guessing this was the Overlook, where I should have headed up to, to look for water.

But I kept going, hoping my map was keeping me where I needed to be. I was now out of water, and wanting some. I finally saw a sign "to campground" and was relieved. Someone would give me water at the campground, right?

In fact, I found the restrooms at the campground and drank deeply, and refilled the hydration pack. I headed back on the "Roadside Trail" knowing I only had a mile or two back to my vehicle.

I believe I ran around 9 miles. (I kept stopping the Garmin when I found a trail sign, where I dragged the map out, so figure out where I was. Then sometimes I would forget to restart the Garmin directly afterwards!)