Training Day Two was to be the “Gap to Gap” training day, but the park service closed Crisman Hollow Road early, so the start/finish was now “Rt 211 Parking Lot to Rt 211 Parking Lot”. We did the same amount of miles, but now not in the proper race sequence.
Speaking of miles, I had decided on Saturday to cut back on the Sunday miles. It had more to do with the drive home on Sunday after running, I didn’t want to be unsafe on the roads. I also had to work on Monday and didn’t want to get home at midnight. So I cut off the bottom loop, or the Bird Knob loop section.
|Intersection at Waterfall Mtn|
This section, which is around mile 88 in the race, was my low point in both 2011 and 2012. So I wanted to get on the section again, and get more familiar with it. Was it as bad as I remembered? Was it as long as I remembered? Could I do something different, calorie/hydration wise, to get through this section?
You leave the Rt 211 parking lot, try not to get killed crossing the road, and start up the white connector trail. This is a wide, almost jeep road, exposed to the sun-of course not a problem in January.
I was tired, a bit sore and stiff overall, and my throat hurt due to all the cold air breathed in Saturday. I couldn’t find my mask for Sunday, it was somewhere in my vehicle. So starting off this section tired and stiff was perfect! Just how I feel in the race at mile 88 (except I would not have drank about 5 beers 8 hours prior..)
We get to the intersection at Waterfall Mountain and head up the orange blazed trail. I’m in the lead of the current group I am in, and feel I am moving a bit too fast, but whatever. There is not as many switchbacks over the creek as I remember. It is a good climb, and I am getting pretty sweaty, even for January. So the memory of the climb is correct. We climb up the creek bed, which is pretty dry today. Before I know it, we’ve hit the top and started that nice long downhill which leads to Crisman Hollow Road. I check my Garmin when we hit the road section-it’s only about 5 miles from Rt 211 to Crisman Hollow Road, it’s always seemed longer than that.
It’s about two miles down the road (actually the turn sheet says 1.4 miles) to the Gap Creek AS. There is no aid here today, because of the road closed.
Now we start up the infamous Jawbone Gap Trail. This is the only section of the MMT course that you travel over more than once. You first hit this aid station at mile 69. You climb the 1.2 miles to the ridge.
If this is mile 69 and your first time through here, you turn left on the orange blazed trail and travel Kerns Mountain toward the Visitor Center Aid Station Eventually. If it is now mile 97 into the race, you still climb up Jawbone but now get to go straight and down to Moreland Gap Road on your way to the finish!
|Jeff and Tom at top of Jawbone|
Since I didn’t wear my windbreaker jacket at all on Saturday, I didn’t even bring it with me on Sunday. Which was really stupid, because there was a good wind blowing, and we had Kerns Mountain to travel over.
I ran through this section with Jeff and Larry at different points, and we chatted the whole time. In fact, we came across the wide open section known as “Q’s View” rather suddenly.
And what this signals is, you get to Q’s View, and you are almost done with Kerns Mountain! There is a short section of runnable dirt, and then you will be on the road for the run down to the Visitor Center Aid Station.
I stopped when I got to the Visitor Center parking lot, as that was conveniently where my vehicle was, getting 15 miles on the trail. I had another very good run on the trail on Sunday. I got to go over the section that has been my low spot and I do remember more of the details on this section now. That really helps me out during the race, to remember how long-or short-of a climb or a particular section is.
Now, less than one month to more MMT miles, the Reverse Ring!