Sunday, June 23, 2013

Running in the Sky (Meadows)

We are trying something new with this blog post.  We are going to blog it jointly so you will see it switch back and forth between our styles. We will annotate when something is uniquely ours as opposed to a joint experience. (I think it's a neat idea so we don't duplicate a post for the same run.  JD isn't quite sold, but he will come around when he sees how awesome it is.)

  This morning we went on a trail running date at Sky Meadows State Park.  We have hiked this park in the past and have been saying for a while that we wanted to get out and run some of the trails.  JD needed some hill running for that upcoming Vail Hill Climb so we headed out early on Saturday morning.

Heather:  The clouds were gorgeous and settling right into the valley below the mountains as we got ready to start.
You can't see the total cuteness as I'm wearing my new Moms Run This Town shirt and JD is wearing his Run With Dad 5K shirt.

JD:  Before we headed out on the trail, I visited the port-o-dump.  As I do with every trail run , I like to rate the shitters available.  Usually, nature calls in the middle of a 20 mile run ,and you do what you can.  But I was lucky enough to find one at the park entrance.  Being a trail runner, you get used to having nothing and if you have something to crap in - it's a good day.  On this occasion, I saw one and said, awesome.  I opened the door and it looked like there was a massive fly infestation.  Now, I don't mind if you have crap on the seat, crap smeared on the walls, tiny insects crawling on the seat, piss all over the floor but when you are crapping and competing with the flies, it kind of sucked.  At least, I don't have to deliver and clean them out for a living; however, that is what you get when you run in the woods.  Next time, bring toilet paper JD - rookie mistake and knew it!  Luckily, it was a quick one and we were on our way up the mountain.
(Heather:  Aren't you glad that I had the phone taking photos of the beautiful clouds while he was having his portapotty adventure?)
 It was about 70 degrees when we headed out at 7:30 am.  We had the trails to ourselves for quite a while as the park wasn't officially open so the only ones out there were some folks who had camped overnight. 
So we start on the Piedmont Overlook Trail which is about 3/4 of a mile uphill and not a gradual uphill and no relief.  The run quickly turned into a fast hike as we still had a lot more running to do.  So we started at about 900 feet and at the end of the first mile we have ascended to almost 1400 feet.  Then we got onto the Ambassador Whitehouse Trail and climbed some more to peak elevation of 1800 feet by mile 2.5.  Needless to say this was more fast hiking than it was running.

We were treated to an amazing view at the top.

Love this!
After the peak on Ambassador Whitehouse we headed towards the Appalachian Trail.  Ambassador Whitehouse and Piedmont Trail were a lot of wet grass that really was dragging at our feet.  In addition, it was a bit rocky under the grass so it was difficult to pay attention to your footing.  We were pretty excited to get to this point as we had been hiking more than running and finally had some runnable trail in sight.

JD:  Here is a snapshot of me trying out my North Face 50k water bottle - umm, will be switching back to my other handheld.  It was difficult  to use and doesn't really hold that much water.  Would be perfect for shorter runs.
Heather:  I had also tested this water bottle out on a previous training run and given it much less generous reviews.  I didn't like how it fit my hand.  It irritated my thumb, and it was too rigid and the water didn't flow well from it.  To be fair, we hadn't paid for this one.  It was a giveaway as part of the race premiums so I guess we shouldn't have expected much.
Nathan hydration vest rocks!
We had two choices on this section of the Appalachian Trail, going right would have sent us north and linked us up with Old Trail which is what we had originally planned to do.  We chose the incorrect direction and headed south at this point so we missed about 2 miles of our originally planned route which we will try to get in next time. The Appalachian Trail section was pretty short and fairly flat but rocky in some parts.

We loved our trail choices and really want to explore this section of the trail a lot more.  Seeing that it was a little over 50K to Harpers Ferry now has me obsessed with the idea of running the trail from Sky Meadows to Harpers Ferry.  This sounds like an awesome section and something that I really want to plan with some awesome trail running friends for next spring.  For today, we had to head back towards the North Ridge Trail. 

Heather:  At this point, we had been running for about an hour so I enforced a fuel break of Honey Stinger Chocolate Waffles.

  This section of the trail was pretty much all downhill, but it was also pretty rocky.  We were really moving on this section of the trail getting down into the 9 minute/mile range and flying over the rocky terrain.  We weren't on North Ridge for long before we hit South Ridge and kept descending, but the descent was leveling out and was now more gradual.  We were still moving at a pretty good clip.  We finally got down to the bottom of the trail and hit the Snowden Loop.  This was a nice shaded one mile loop through the forest.  It was fairly flat in the first half, but then it had a gradual climb at the end.  There was a ruin of an old house that had been back in that area.  We stopped briefly to read the interpretive sign and then moved on.

Heather: I also paused to see a turtle on the trail, but JD kept on running ahead.  I don't think he was impressed with my turtle spotting. 

We came out of the loop and hit Gap Run Trail which was basically flat and runnable near a nice little stream. It varied between sun and shade, but it wasn't too hot out this morning.  Somewhere on Gap Run we came up behind a guy who was hiking.  We had been making a lot of noise and talking the whole time that we were behind him so it's not like we were sneaking up on him.  When we went to pass him on the left side, he leaped in the air like a startled deer.   Some of the hikers out there are a little odd.  It got a little confusing at this point because the trail markings were a little unclear, but then we saw the entrance to the park and the sign for Woodpecker Lane so we started back on Woodpecker Lane towards the Visitor Center parking lot.

We finished up on Boston Mill Road and into the parking lot.  We now realize that at Gap Run we should have gone left instead of right.  Going left would have joined us back up with North Ridge and let us run down to the Visitors Center on that trail, but the route that we took was OK too.

Overall we had a great morning on the trail and are looking forward to doing this again.
Elevation for first 7 miles of the run

Heather:  I have been using a new hair tie that I want to review because I'm so in love with it.  It's from Run Pretty Far.  They are pretty colors of ribbon with the Run Pretty Far slogan in cursive on them.  The ribbon is stretchy and velvet backed so it doesn't slip and holds the ponytail perfectly in place without tearing or creasing the hair like a elastic band does.  It is also not too tight and very comfortable to wear for long periods of time plus they look a lot cuter than elastic bands.  The best part is that they are only $5 for a set of 5 ties. 

1 comment:

  1. I love this dual blogging!!! Great idea. It's so funny because I have noticed that Heather's posts focus on thinks like the beauty of the surroundings, how she feels, etc. And JD just gets right down to the point- and there's almost always a mention of going to the bathroom! You guys are so adorable. :-)