The last few weeks have flown by as I have been feeling like I needed to play a lot of running catch up….and therefore neglecting this blog.
As you may know if you have followed this blog March was mostly spent bedridden healing from a concussion.
April was a jump start back into training with Bull Run Run 50 as a training run. It all felt great for about a 50k, I was on pace to better my previous time, and then the brain wheels fell off. I started feeling like I had tunnel vision and just kind of weird. Fortunately Sophie Speidel caught up with me shortly after I hit this unhappy place….if you don’t know her, she’s a really fast masters runner from VA. She was also using BRR as a training run, and her wise words helped reel me back from pondering a dnf. I switched mentally from the mindset of “race if you can,” to “you have only been back for 2 weeks, if you finish this 50 miles it will be a great training run to have under you” and decided that hiking/running it in was the new goal. My take away from BRR was twofold. Spending a month in bed isn’t great for racing, but if you have been consistent with your training in the months leading up to inactivity you can still cover the miles–just maybe not perhaps at the race pace you would have liked. Thanks coach Meghan Laws for keeping me in shape! The second part was that maybe using races that I have previously won as a training run isn’t my thing…there was too much expectation going into the run already knowing that I had finished it almost two hours faster 5 years ago.
Once I got over my little BRR ego burst, the rest of April went pretty smoothly. The weekend after BRR I was back to 20/15,t then 30/20, then 40/10 on April 28. This run was an interesting run, super fun, quite the adventure.
Promise Land fell on the same day, so I thought to myself “what a great opportunity to run long, and maybe see some friends running, and use the aid station at the top of Apple Orchard Mtn.” Bethany Patterson had recommended this route for WSER training months ago, and I finally had the chance to get up there and run that section of the AT.
I woke up that morning and drove the 3 hours up to Lynchburg VA, arriving mid morning and ready to go! The run started at the James River bridge and went up into the James River Wilderness before climbing through the Thunder Ridge Wilderness and then up to Apple Orchard Mountain at 4,208. There is an aid station near here, but I had a hard time finding it. First I was taking in the view from the top and continued down Apple Orchard Mtn, when I realized I was supposed to take the gravel road down from the peak instead….then I saw markings for the race course, and headed down that the wrong way for several miles….finally I got it right, 22 miles later—just as the aid station was packing up! So much for watching my friends run, but I was super happy for the water and coke they supplied me with before they packed up. Because I had been noodling around at the top for so many hours, I was off my projected time estimate, so in order to get back down before sunset, I hopped onto the Blue Ridge Parkway so I could ZOOM back to a slightly closer-to-my-car trailhead. After a few miles of very runnable slightly downhill road I caught the trailhead at Petites Gap, gaining me more daylight speedier miles. From Petites Gap there was just under 10 mile back to the car. I choose this section of the AT for its gradual climbs, and more runnable trail. The AT can be notorious for slow going rocky, rooty miles….this section was quite runnable. I got back to my car long before sunset, hopped in and got home by 9pm. Just in time for bed! Things I learned from this trip. I don’t always read texts well when I’m running. I should always drop water. DONT FORGET YOUR WATER FILTER. <— that! My husband so lovingly bought me a water purifier, I brought the bottle, but forgot the filter. There was a lot of running water and pretty falls I could have filtered for water. Oh well, I had several backup plans, like…get a ride from the aid station worker, hitch-hike? Ask a through hiker for their filter? Not the best options, but I never felt like I was actually in trouble. Plus my (new) phone has a long battery life, and plenty of cell service up on the BRP. I finished with 38+ miles and 8,434 ft of gain (and descent since I had to come back down the same way) and happy adventure legs!
The following weekend was a family vacation to Hilton Head Island where I relaxed, ran a little, chased my nephew around, and caught my niece’s chest cold….blah! Good thing the rest of this week has been recovery!