This was to be the “no drama” Ring, but alas..it was not. Not much drama, just a little. But read on for that..
Us RevRingers were pretty anxious about the weather. On Thursday, it was predicted to be raining most of Saturday. It seemed like we would start out the RevRing in cold icy rain.
But that was not true! It was around 34 degrees as we left the Signal Knob parking lot. The first challenge of the morning was the icy rocks. It was a very slow walk up to the top of Signal Knob due to the unpredictable ice on rocks.
This is actually a good option, since the slowness (for everyone except Keith Knipling) gets the body all warmed up and loose.
I was surprised on the road run down OFF Signal Knob; the road has been graded since the last time I was on it. This means the big crevasses from water runoff and random rocks have been smoothed over. I ran much more of this road section than I have before, catching up to Hiro and Yoki at Powell’s Fort.
Uneventful climb back up to the ridge at Powell’s Fort, then focused on running the very runnable section from Powell’s Fort to Woodstock.
I had splits in mind for RevRing. I thought I could run it under/around 25 hours. I used Gombu’s 24.30 splits from 2011 as a target:
Moreland 230 pm
Crisman 421 pm
Camp Roosevelt 805 pm
I got into Woodstock at 930, very pleased with myself. I wasn’t killing myself running, but I was making sure I was running-running-running. It’s real easy to just “hike” on the MMT.
I took a hard fall between Powell’s and Woodstock. When I did, my right shoe ripped entirely open. I had thought about putting my spare shoes in my drop bag, but as I never change shoes, I didn’t see the point.
I see the point now! My left shoe had a small rip, and when I fell, the right one completely ripped across the top. So I had to go another 50 miles with my shoes ripped apart. Sometimes I would catch my foot on a rock, and then my toes would bust through, and I would have to stop and shove my foot back inside the shoe. I’ll pack spare shoes from now on!
Quatro and Bur, Race Directors, had already warned us that the Woodstock Road was closed and no drop bags would be available there, but some aid would be hiked in. I was carrying plenty of calories so this did not impact me. Big thanks to the volunteers who had to hike in-uphill-water, gatorade, and food for us runners.
Gombu and Mark on the start of the climb to Waonaze Peak
The rhododendrons right before the Peak
It was warming up out there, turning into a really fine day to be on the trails. I got to Edinburg at 1149 (Gombu’s split 1142) really happy.
Then it was off to Short Mountain! Short Mountain is “not that bad” these days. During the MMT 100 race, you are on this section in the first 20 miles of the race. The weather was great this year, after last year’s winds.
Mark on Short
I was feeling great! I was eating, hiking well, running when I could. I got into Moreland at 215 (Gombu’s split 215) just super stoked. I passed 8 runners from Short Mountain to Crisman Hollow that had been ahead of me all day..
Stephanie had hiked in her aid for the Crisman Hollow Aid Station, and I got refills on water and some food and was off. I was still stoked-my split was 430 pm vs Gombu’s 421 pm time.
In fact, I had never been this far down the trail, in so much daylight before! I took a good hard fall (my third of the day) on my way to Waterfall Mountain. My quads hurt badly going down Waterfall-but it was still daylight!!!
I then start up the switchback, up Big Run. Big Run has been my nemesis in my prior two MMT races. But I have just climbed this in January, on a MMT training run. Now I am on it again. I am getting more familiar with it, and it’s “not as bad” as remembered.
I am really not as weary as I look here!
I am running..quite well. It’s STILL not dark! And I am well on my way to Camp Roo! Yeehaw!!!
I come to a four way intersection. Yep, I remember this quite well. The left will take me Crisman Hollow Road (west) but nope, not that way today.
I look for the orange blaze. Yes, there it is, let’s go! I continue down the runnable trail, just having a great time-it’s still not dark!
I run until I see a trail with blue blazes in front of me. I look around for the orange blazes. I don’t see any. I’m puzzled. I go down the blue trail a bit. No orange. Huh. I go back to my intersection, and now go UP the trail..all blue blazes. Nothing. I go back to my intersection. Hiro and Yoki should be coming up behind me real soon, they’ve only been 4 or 5 minutes behind me.
Now darkness falls. I don’t see lights, or hear anyone.
I pull out the map that I did bring. Even though I have run this course numerous times, I decided to bring the map today.
I can’t figure out where this is. Then I finally decide to stop trying to make the map fit my reality, and I look for a blue trail.
Huh. There is a blue trail…Gap Creek Trail, going left and right…but it intersects with a….
YELLOW BLAZE???? Oh nooooooooooooooooooo…….
I go over and look carefully at a blaze. Dammnit!!! It is YELLOW not orange! I’ve ran down the Scothorn Yellow Trail, all the way to the Gap Creek Trail!!
I look at the map. I could go west, on blue Gap Trail, and pick up the MMT orange again. But then I will get DQ’d for going off course.
So back south I go, down to the orange trail. As I approach the intersection, I remember from my first time on RevRing trail, Bill Wandel was a little behind me, but he hollered for me to “turn right” at the intersection.
Now it’s the little climb, back before the long descent to Camp Roosevelt. I’ve gone through an entire gamut of emotions-anger, dismay, a little humor. But I shake it off. It is what it is. I have no idea how much time or mileage I’ve now added having not looked at my watch. I don’t know whether there are any Ringers to catch up with. I know there is some sort of a “cut off” at Camp Roo, but I don’t know what it is, having never really worried about a time cut off.
I do catch up to one runner, Gary, so it’s good to share some trail with, and tell the silliness that I did.
I get into Camp Roo-I think about 9 pm (Gombu’s split was 8 pm.)
I have no intention of dropping, so I grab my drop bag and walk over to the shadows to change my wet bra and top. The key to the 25 miles on the Eastern Ridge is to get dry, warm clothes for the trek. It’s night, you are tired, and this will be a lot of walking.
Paul is still there, and he waits the extra time for me to get some calories in, and we set off for our trek. It’s slow moving, and I get pretty tired quickly, as my pace is now slowing over what I have been doing previously.
The eastern ridge of the Massanuttens can be tricky. Some sections you are just picking your way over the spine of the ridgeline. There isn’t much up and down, you are just up on top of the ridge. For a little while, there are the beautiful twinkle of lights from the towns down below.
We finally pass the Indian Grave Intersection! Okay, onto Milford Gap Trail Intersection.
Paul and I arrive. We see the jeep road where aid is hiked in for The Ring. But where is Orange? All we see is this HUGE white blazed trail, it’s as wide as a highway. Paul and I go down this, carefully looking for orange. I stop to consult the map and Paul re climbs the trail. White is not correct, and by the time I re climb, Paul has located the orange blazed trail.
A few more miles down the trail, I see a light coming toward us. It’s Bob A. He says he has found blue blazes, but no orange. I tell him it’s okay, blue and orange now run together.
But we go a little ways down the trail with NO orange blazes at all, and I stop and whip the map out. Without any orange, I believe we are heading east down the blue Tuscarora Trail. So back we go, to the last orange blaze seen. I go back another blaze or two, stop to pee, and then I notice a trail off to my left, so I go down it. It is completely unblazed, with no colors, so I give up and return back to last known orange blaze.
Now the guys are gone! And I see the orange blaze trail. I swear it wasn’t there before.
I have forgotten to mention we’ve been in heavy fog for miles. I have a headlamp on, but I do have a Fenix hand held in my pocket. (Paul was just using his Fenix hand held.)
Having the hand held light was very valuable through this fog, looking for blazes on the trees.
Okay, now I am back on orange, alone, hoping the guys are in front of me. I should be headed toward Veach Gap. If I have just passed the Tuscarora Trail, it shouldn’t be that far to Veach, right?
OMG. It seemed to go on forever. I find flat land, runnable. I run. Or kinda jog. It’s not walking, it is that running motion. I see a light! I catch up to Paul..but where is Bob?
Paul says Bob went back to look for me…oh well, now I don’t know where Bob is.
All I want to do is get to Veach. Once I get to Veach, I know where to go, how far we have left.
But man, the trail goes on forever. I don’t remember it taking so long. I’m power hiking, checking to make sure Paul is still behind me. I finally hear water, and see the creek! I cross the creek, and sure enough, some blessed souls have hiked in aid AND a tent.
I sign in on the sheet, and am happy to see Bob has arrived (somehow) in front of me, at 430 (I arrived at 446 am.)
I drink water and Gatorade. I’ve been out of water for quite some time. I eat some chips and wait for Paul. It’s 5 am, and it’s cold. The time of day where the body temperature drops and we are low on the course. I’m starting to get a chill waiting. Finally, Paul arrives, we get water in his pack, and I tell him we’ve got a climb that will warm us up.
Ah, The problem with running RevRing previously is I know exactly how far we have to go. And it is long, and endless. We finally get to dawn, and the Elizabeth Furnace area, with its many intersecting trails. Paul asks what trail we need to take, and I tell him, just follow orange and blue,orange and blue, all the way down.
But of course we must first wander around the top for awhile. I just want to be done. I consider flinging myself off the ridge just to be done. But that probably wouldn’t kill me, so I plod on. Oh, the orange blaze goes over this little knob? Of course it does! When do we start down?
I hope most of this negative talk is going on inside my head. Paul has not complained at all, nothing negative from him, and I appreciate it. I’m sure he hurts as bad as I do and wants to be done also. Now we hit the never ending switchbacks on our way to the Furnace.
I ask Paul which is harder (the universal question) RevRing or the MMT 100. He picks RevRing. Me too. Everything hurts on my body. I so want to sit down. I have not sat down in over 24 hours.
Okay, Elizabeth Furnace is down, we cross the road and now have the last stretch back to Signal Knob parking lot. Bob’s wife is there, she wants to know where Bob is. Oh crap. I was assuming he was right in front of us. I tell her he signed the Veach Gap dance card at 430 am, right in front of me. I am now wondering if Bob took some scenic side trails (it turned out Bob took a bunch of scenic side trails..)
Paul and I carefully run into the correct side of the Signal Knob Parking Lot. Caroline Williams is there, in charge of the clipboard, along with RevRing finishers Cam Baker and Larry Huffman. I fall into the chair that Cam presents to me. I am done.
I was kind of surprised at how whipped I was after this one. BUT I did put more effort into it. I was running with a purpose, and running quite well. I can’t really predict my MMT pace from this, which was what I kind of wanted to do, but hopefully I can use the data. I really had a stellar run through Crisman Hollow, even into Camp Roosevelt.
Many thanks to Bur and Quatro, our organizers, and the volunteers who gave up their day and night to let us runners play in the beautiful mountains. I really appreciate it!
The idea is to run 71 miles of the Massanutten Ring in under 25 hours. I’ve actually taken my friend Gombu’s splits from 2011, as he ran RevRing in 24.30. (“A” Goal would be to run it under 24 hours.)
RevRing only has a few aid stations, where stellar volunteers come out and hang out in the cold and wind for around 30 runners. There is usually a 2:1 (or more) ratio of volunteers to runner. It’s very humbling. VHTRC rocks RevRing.
The daunting portion of RevRing is the overnight section of the trek, 25 miles on the Eastern Ridge of the Massanuttens. I worried about this all winter long in 2011, about doing this. But *it wasn’t that bad* and I actually looked forward to it last year. 25 miles, unaided, in winter, is a good learning experience for an ultra runner. It shows you that you can go that far without aid. Hey you think 25 miles is alot, think about Arrowhead 135 or the Iditarod 350 or 1000!!
The * at Crisman Hollow is there, because Crisman Hollow Road is closed in the winter. So unless volunteers hike aid in ( a few miles!!) there is no aid between Edinburg and Camp Roosevelt-or Camp Roo, as it is called.
The plan is to carry enough calories between aid stations. I never calculate in the calories I might eat at the aid station.
I go with the assumption of the stomach can absorb 200 calories an hour. (It’s 200-300 calories, 200 is just the easier number to use.)
The runners are allowed one drop bag, which is shuttled around the course by those great volunteers. This will be available everywhere except Crisman Hollow.
My calorie plan: Start to Woodstock: carry 1200 calories Woodstock to Edinburg: 600 calories Edinburg to Crisman Hollow/Roosevelt: 1600 calories. There will be some food hiked in by wonderful Stephanie Wilson, but I am going to need to carry enough calories for 23 miles, until Camp Roo. Camp Roo to the finish: 25 miles, 2400 calories
I am going to carry one HandHeld, which will be my “nutrition handheld” with 1 cup of Malto dextrin=400 calories. I will also have malto packaged up, so I can pick up more at the AS from my drop bag. (I will also have water in a separate handheld.)
My other calories will come from: Clifbloks-one package is 200 calories Gels-most gels are 90 or 100 calorie EFS Shots-400 calories
I will have some assorted calories from some honey roasted nuts and a Peppermint Patty or a cracker package, just to mix it up a bit. I will also eat cookies and soup or whatever is available from the aid station along the way.
I do remember running out of calories on these long treks. I’m trying to simplify my nutrition plan, mainly using maltodextrin, just mixing it up a bit with the Clifbloks and gels. This is what I am planning on doing during the MMT 100 race, just using mainly malto, so it’s time to test this again in training.
I listen to a bunch of podcasts. I listen to them in the car and out on runs. Most of these podcasts are focused toward endurance and outdoor sports-running, triathlons, climbing.
The Dirtbag Diaries: Real Life Stories from Fitz Cahall. Outdoor stories about..everything. Some are very short, some long. If you like the outdoor life, you will appreciate the Dirtbag Diaries.
Marathon Talk : Martin Yelling and Tom Williams create a very well produced weekly podcast on marathon running. There is a featured interview each week, and there are recaps of the big marathon weekends.
IM Talk Bevan James Eyles and John Newsom host this triathlon podcast from New Zealand. I’m a triathlon groupie; I have no interest myself in learning how to swim or really ride my bike,but I could tell you who won at the World Championships, who the top pros are, what races are coming up. It’s a weekly show with interviews also. Although it is a triathlon podcast, I think an endurance athelete would enjoy this.
Talk Ultra an ultra running podcast! And it is Euro-based, so that is cool to get some different intel on running outside of the US. Ian Corless is the host of this, with usually 1 or 2 interviews, and usually with some interviews pre-race and post-race.
Endurance Planet: this podcast has gone through some owners and format changes over time. I like the current set up, with Tawnee Prazek, usually joined by Lucho. Every second or third episode is “ask the ultra runner (Lucho) so that is interesting
Zen and the Art of Triathlon: I have listened to Brent Blanckner’s podcast for years! It’s one of the oldest triathlon podcasts out there. Sometimes there is an interview, many times it’s just Brett taking us along with him on his training
Trail Runner Nation: A newer lively podcast centered on the West Coast (of the US) usually pretty interesting, focused on trail running and ultras.
The Enormocast: It’s a podcast about rock climbing. No, I do not rock climb. Nor do I bike or swim, yet I listen to triathlon podcast. Chris Kalous is very entertaining. His shows are usally with an interviewee; there was a great 2 part interview with Hayden Kennedy after the big Compressor Route controversy.
The Three Non-Joggers: Ostensibly a “running” or even an “ultra interest” podcast, but the guys don’t talk so much about jogging..but their potty humor is pretty funny
Running with the Pack: I’ve also listened to Allen Gyorke, now with Stevie Rocco as co-host, since he began his podcast a few years ago. Very enjoyable
Dirt Dawg’s Rambling: Mike Croy is a runner from the Detroit area; his podcasts reflect what he is up to at the moment; sometimes training for an ultra, running a marathon, speedwork; his best episodes are when the wife drops in!
The Competitors: Bob Babbitt and Paul Huddle have been doing this for years; they always have the big names in triathlon and running on their show
Embrace Running: I stumbled across Elena and Mark’s podcast and enjoy it. They just talk about their week in training, what races they have done and the experiences that they have.
Do you have any running/outdoor podcasts you think I would enjoy listening to?
I had been interested in the Ultraspire line since they emerged on the scene. I have been wanting to NOT use a bladder in races-it’s too time consuming. But I am also not a fan of carrying two hand helds for 100 miles. So I have been experimenting with some gear. I already had bought a one-bottle waist pack from Ultraspire, and that has been successful so far. (I have not worn a waist pack in years before going back to this product.)
The Kinetic Vest is a vest where you can carry two hand held bottles. This has been sold out for a long time, so when it was available on ZombieRunner, I went ahead and bought it. This is the 2012 version, there is a new version on the Utraspire website for 2013.
The matching outfit was purely coincidental. I picked up the dirty running clothes off the floor from Monday’s run, it just happened to be the black and red.
I plan on writing a more in depth review of the vest after a few more runs. On initial run, I do like it. One of my biggest problems is my hobbit stature. I have a very short torso. The water bottles are from my shoulder bones down to my butt. I am not sure if there could be some chafing on my butt due to the water bottle.
Oh, and I can reach that middle pocket without removing the vest-good idea there.
Initially I thought the water bottles would bang into my arms, but they did not once I started to run.
A rare picture of me with straight hair. I just had my hair cut and styled. She used a flat iron. I did like the look. Sadly, the run destroyed it and I was not successful in recreating the look.
I had more new gear. In going through paperwork on my desk the other week, I found a coupon from a race from GoSport ID.
Now, I have tags from RoadID.com, where you attach these to your shoe. Very useful…if they end up on your shoe. I have two sitting on my desk here. I wear different shoes, practically every run!
So this bracelet idea appealed to me. Same data. I have my name, home phone number, my husband’s name, zip code (if you have your zipcode you don’t need hometown or state) and just NKA-no known allergies. If you have allergies, or a medical condition, you would want to have this on the tag.
I like the bracelet. It sits on my desk, I grab it and put it on. It’s got all the data the emergency responders will need when they find me in a ditch-or ravine-somewhere.
Oh yeah, the run. I ran ten miles today. I’m so glad I have a schedule. The morning was full of Kimba errands-blood draw, teeth cleaning, hair cut, dog walk. But I still had a ten mile run to do.
Without the schedule, if I was doing this on my own, it would have been way easy to just blow it off. Too busy, too tired after lunch to do it. Now I didn’t even think about “not running” it was just when it was going to happen.
I’ve mentioned the ‘schedule’ before. I should note I have a coach who is writing the schedule. That should be a blog post in itself before long.
It happily coincided with the high temps of the day, 40 degrees or so. The knee had twinged on me a bit from the Mohican long run, and I stuck to my township back roads, which you can see, are dirt. Or this week, pretty firm mud. But firm mud is nice and soft to run on, yet stable. So I stayed off the trails! and ran roads. No knee pain, and ten miles under 2 hours. I am getting faster, people. Wait till the weather gets better. I am really looking forward to that!
The RD for “Forget the PR” had thrown up a late notice training run at Mohican last week, so I decided I needed trails at Mohican as a reward for slogging it through roads and treadmill. I had a 20 mile run scheduled and knew there would be others wanting to get in twenty, as the training run was just twelve miles.
About fifteen of us (plus Macy the dog) met at Mohican Adventures. It was in the mid twenties, so a little chilly starting out, but once we hit Big Ass Hill, everyone was toasty warm.
I only took a few pics the whole time! Footing was a bit treacherous. Where snow had melted, it had refroze so there was much ice in spots all over the trail. The route took us up Big Ass Hill, down Gas Line Hill, over to the jeep road to the Fire Tower. We then took the Hog Hollow Trail down to the Covered Bridge.
After the Covered Bridge, there is a mile of trail beside the river. It is the most technical trail around, consisting of lots of rocks and roots. It is usually slow through here, as it’s hard to just break into a run. Today was really slow, as everything was coated in ice! There were a few dicey spots, where a river swim could have followed if a slip occurred.
Everyone made it back to Mohican Adventures, and it was sorted out who was running where. Rob and a few others opted for the asphalt bike trail into town, and heck, I came out to run trails, so I was going back on trail!
Steve, Tim, Angela and I went out for six more miles. This time we headed up the mountain bike trail, which was fun for me because I am usually coming ‘down’ the mountain bike trail. It was a little warmer, and a bit less ice, so this was almost consistent running. It was fun to catch up with Steve, as I believe it was probably about a year since I had run with him last!
Reward: I successfully battled off the McDonald’s french fries cravings all the way home. But I did want potato chips, fries, something. I knew we had homemade chili at home. I stopped at the IGA and got some tortilla chips and sharp cheddar cheese, and my reward (after showering) was a homemade platter of chili nachos! (I should have taken a picture, it was quite nice.)
I was really whipped after this twenty mile effort! Either I am 1) getting old 2) can’t remember being tired after 20 mile runs 3) putting more effort into my long runs. I would have to say, it’s 1) and 3). Some of the hills of Mo were much easier to climb than they have been in the past.
I spent the morning with the hubby running errands in town, and when I dropped him off to pick up the fixed vehicle, I peeled off to head for Salt Fork. I only had an eight mile run to do, but I had been jonesing for trail time for a week.
I knew the trails would be a mess, with the rising temperatures. I decided to hit a trail I have not been on in two years, the orange bridle trail loop. The park had “improved” the trail which meant taking a bulldozer to some of it. So it wasn’t very runner friendly in the past.
And it started out being not so runner friendly in the beginning either. The first two miles, the trail was overgrown with brambles and some sections of multiflora rose. In case you don’t know what this is:
Multiflora rose is extremely prolific and can form impenetrable thickets that exclude native plant species. This exotic rose readily invades open woodlands, forest edges, successional fields, savannas and prairies that have been subjected to land disturbance.
Try running through it. Or check out my picture from two years earlier:
Well, at least today I have long sleeves and tights on.
I finally get through the first two miles-in 40 minutes and the trail seems to resume being maintained. All the uphills are sloppy slick, so it’s slow going.
It’s still nice time out in the woods. Good time on my feet, and good training on the legs on the uneven, unbalanced surface.
A pretty nice gift of the day with no wind, blue skies, and temperatures in the high forties! I will take that for February!
It doesn’t sound that hard. 6 miles on Saturday, 8 miles on Sunday.
Except it’s my weekend to work. The Saturday run is okay; I have gotten up at 5am for various reasons, and am on the treadmill at 6 am. 6 miles. No problemo.
At 8am, when I go out to warm up the car, the car battery is dead and the husband is out of town, 100 miles away. I still end up at work, on time, at 9 am, thanks to a lovely neighbor.
But I am just exhausted from the stress. And the fact that I missed ‘second breakfast’ after the 6 mile treadmill workout.
Work sucks. It ends. I’m exhausted. But I still have to make my lunch, for Sunday, because I have got to go run 8 miles in the morning! So I basically make my lunch, drink two glasses of wine, and turn in for the night.
Okay, normal timeline-work backwards. Gotta leave around 9 am. So run needs to be done at 830am, so I can shower and stuff. So, 8 miles, equals 1 hour 40 minute?
Except everything is snow covered and slidy-so do I need to leave for work earlier than one hour?
Shit. Maybe I should just concentrate-and make my run the usual 6.4 mile around the block. So I am missing 1.6 miles from this run. AND I already bailed on last Friday 6 miler, because I was just so freaking exhausted from work.
Acck. Does this mean anything in the long term? No. Probably not. Just my little guilt ridden running conscience (why do runners have HUGE guilt consciences??)
SO I get up at 545 am. The snow seems..not so bad. It does still take me almost one hour to drink coffee and dither over running outside. I am quite crabby. But, as soon as I realize I am “quite crabby” I know my best resolution is to take myself outside.
I get out the door about 646 am. I need my light. It’s snowing lightly and the roads are covered.
I start down my normal route. I have my screwed shoes on. But I have washed my screwed shoes (Montrail Bajadas) lately, and taken out the insoles. And I have not found the insoles. So I am wearing shoes, with screws in them, with screw points intersecting with tender spots on my feets. I resolve to run over the pain. ACTUALLY, what is the alternative?
I cobble together some little out and backs and know I can turn my loop into a 7 miler. But after the sun comes up, it warms up *like 4 degrees* but that is enough for snow to really come down.
Now I am running on an unplowed road, with about 4 inches of soggy snow to *break trail* on, as it is. After this, the running is slowed, on flat surfaces, an 11-something pace (where this would be more of a 10-min pace on dry conditions). I have told the husband if I am not back by 830 am, to come looking for me. Now I am up against the clock!
I get back to the house right at 830 am, as the husband is putting on his boots to come find me. 7.6 miles in 1 hour 36 minutes. Not bad in the unplowed snow and slippery conditions.
I’m tired just reading this. I can’t wait to hit my little dirt road in March, in dry conditions and see how much faster I am around the block.