Sunday, June 29, 2008
Takin' it Easy on the AT
I had pole vault camp in Boone this week and got to run a couple times with Hannah- once at Julian Price Park for around 12 miles and 27 miles on the Appalachian Trail. Good time. I like going on adventure runs with her and just posted the report of the Sauratown Trail run we did last summer... a very different experience. Last year was a little shorter, 30 degrees hotter, and we wondered if we would die. This year, was much more relaxed.
I guess it's time to "publicly" announce I'm planning to run/hike/fastpack all 2100+ miles of the Appalachian Trail in bits & pieces before I die. I've got a long way to go. Whether it'll take 10 years or 30, I'm not sure. I'm planning on running the first 100 miles of the trail from Springer Mountain, GA in 5 days next summer self-supported.
We parked at Bike Station in Damascus, VA and took their shuttle up to Elk Garden near Whitetop Mountain, the 2nd highest peak in VA. It had been raining all morning and ended up raining on us most of the day. Cleared up a little in the middle, but we were in a hard thunderstorm for the last hour or so. 65 degrees made it nice! 92 degrees when I got home to Charlotte. Ick. I'm really getting tired of the heat & drought.
The first climb was rough. 800' of climbing in the first 20 minutes. Hannah made me run more than I wanted to on this first climb. I wanted to ease into the day, but after 6 minutes, my calves already felt blown! Not what you want in a 27 mile run!
I knew this section was mostly downhill, but hadn't looked at the profile. There were significant climbs too. 4060' of ascent and 6265' of descent. Yeah, it was downhill, but 4000' of climbing isn't easy. I'm glad we didn't run northbound! I was capping off an 86 mile week (a lot for me) and really wanted to keep today easy. I've run over 300 miles for the month and am a little pooped. Not difficult to keep getting the miles in, but I don't have a long hard effort in me. I wanted it to be one of those runs where you have no more fatigue at 6 hours than you did at 1 hour. Mission accomplished there. The downhills and flats were effortless, though the quads & knees took a beating. I know Hannah wanted to run more than we did on the uphills, but I think she warmed to the idea later in the run. When I walked, I usually walked just about as fast as I could. My HR got as high as 192 walking uphill.
Because it was foggy and raining, we didn't see much. There weren't many overlooks though. The two balds we went on- Whitetop and Buzzard Rock were fogged in. For 1/2 mile in the middle and the last 1/2 mile followed the Virginia Creeper Trail, a rails-to-trail- a wide smooth crushed stone path. Lotta rocks elsewhere, but hey, that's what you get on the AT.
The bladder for my hydration pack sprung a leak after about 4 miles. I drank Hannah's water twice, a hiker offered me water once, and I waited for the springs other times (had to go over a mile out of our way to get it). For most of the run, I had to wait about an hour between drinks. I didn't want to eat without water, so I went light on calories and liquid. No ideal, but I managed. Had it been hotter, I would've been hatin' it.
Everything felt great. Just another day of running. Very relaxed and could've kept going all day, but I was fine with stopping. :) I had a fantastic time today, but I'd rate the trail section just "pretty good." Nothing memorable except the long Creeper Trail Bridge.