I met up with Dan Bellinger and Suzanne Weightman to run 19 miles of the Laurel Highlands Trail. This is from race start, mile zero, with the big climbs in it. The race has cut offs at certain parts, so I wanted to make sure I could get through the first section under the cut off.
Weather was on the cool side, around 38 degrees when we started. I still shed the windbreaker around mile 3-the climbs begin and I didn’t want to soaking wet with sweat. The pic above is around mile 6, where the river curves away from the trail.
As we started out, I kept letting my attention go to the climbs. The one climb around mile 3 caught my attention, but it seemed like I remembered more..I think part of my issues with how hard the hills were stem from my last encounter on them, in 2008. I ran this section as an out and back, and got to experience climbs on both coming and going. We got to the infamous “Shelter” post at mile 6, and the “big climb” begins here.
And while it is a HUGE climb, and goes up for over 1 mile, it just wasn’t as bad as I remembered. Dan, Suzanne and I kept chatting the entire time. I was sweating buckets but we kept moving, no stops up the hill. Wow. Now, change the weather over to hot and humid conditions in June, and yes it still will be a killer hill. But it comes early in the race-for me, probably around 7am or so. I think I conquered my fear of the hill! I
At the top of mile 8, down the trail just a bit, Suzanne pointed out the rocky top. I had never ventured over here-usually still recovering from the climb and grateful for smooth dirt to run on.
However, the wind was horrendous but the view was awesome! It was a quick photo op, so we didn’t get so chilled, and then hurried down the trail to warm up again.
It was a great day for a run! A little on the chilly side, but as long as you were moving, quite comfortable. We stopped for a bunch of photo ops, and I didn’t stop the watch or look at it.
I feel very comfortable on this section of trail, as I have now ran on it about four times, and I do have an awesome trail memory.
Mile 15 was as pretty as I remembered it.
Unfortuneately, as we neared mile 18, I remembered a big climb! I was hoping my trail memory had it on the other side of the parking lot, as we were parked here. Nope! The big climb is right before the mile 19 marker! Grrr!
We got to mile 19 around the cut off time for the race, so I feel pretty comfortable about doing this in “race conditions” ie, no pics, focusing on running.
And with “only” doing 19 miles, it was strange to come off the LH Trail and not be completely fatigued!!