Yesterday I had an AMAZING time trail running in the mt. rogers' area with Beth and JJ!! I arrived at the Elk Garden parking lot at 7:30 AM. the whole mountain top of fogged in and it was a balmy 51F. ( on the 18th of july?!) and a steady wind that made it feel even colder! BRR! I rummaged around in my running bag and was lucky enough to find my melanaza long sleeve and a go-lite windshirt.. and last but not least-- at the bottom of my bag was(SCORE!) a pair of gloves from winter running that somehow didn't get stored away with my winter running gear. I didn't put on either sunblock or bug dope because I was so fixated on the weather.. I didn't even THINK about either!! Which is weird because that is usually the first thing I do in my little running prep ceremony before each run. :o)
beth and JJ came about 740 and they seemed equally shocked about the cold front. We discussed the possibility of being fogged in all day. All found it highly likely. But I was hoping (fingers crossed) that the sun would come out and burn off the clouds and us have a pretty day.
Then at 8am Joey and Christine showed up. Christine was going to hike and Joey ran with us! So off we went.. with JJ dawning his kilt it was a little surreal running across the foggy highlands through the woods with lush ferns, many, many creek crossings, and rocky trails (cue bagpipes!)
after running climbing about 2 hours we topped out at this cool orchard.. where I expected to see the wild ponies.
but alas!! no ponies:o( beth and JJ explained to me that we would see them probably in the next 2 miles or so of running not to be disappointed. haha I just had in mind that I would burst out of the woods and they would be in this orchard waiting to greet me:o)
pretty much the entire run-- I ran and babbled to JJ. Bless his heart for tolerating me!! JJ had been my neighbor for almost 4 years when I lived at the lake, but we had never really had a conversation ( or formally met for that matter) so it was SO wonderful to get to meet and run with him! Here is a great picture of him. I think I freaked him out at first because I was so snap-happy with the picture taking:o)
so we continued on.. it's so hard for me to even convey the panoramic splendor of this place. We were so fortunate that the sun came out and the clouds rose and you could see for miles and miles. There were HUGE rocks.. that just made you want to climb and play on them... all over the place.. it was as if God himself just tossed them up and and allowed them to land haphazardly across the landscape. :o)
so we crossed another ridge still looking for my little ponies:o) I have to add that we saw many people camping, backpacking, and hiking. It was really awesome to see so many on the trail. There are so many times running in damascus you don't see very many people.. maybe one or two.. but it seemed like we passed about 40 people during our 15.5 mile run. We came across 4 day hikers from greensboro, NC. They stopped us asking for directions. it was my first time at Mt. rogers.. but lucky for them.. beth , who is the town of abingdon's GIS technician was able to help them out:o) the hikers had this super nice doggy with them.
so about a quarter of a mile after the hikers beth and JJ spotted some ponies!! So we ran over to where they were. So not only did I get to pet a pony, They were grazing in this place with the best view!! This one pony in particular was SO sweet and nice.. she let us pet her and then she started following us!! I felt so terrible telling her to stop.. it was like she stood there at the trail looking at us with this big brown sad eyes that said "take me home with you." very sweet little soul.
From there we ran over some very technical and rocky sections of the AT.. to a more wooded/forest section of the AT that was equally breathtakingly beautiful! and then began our decent down the mountain for about 4 miles back to elk garden.
Several notes of interest. I really feel every time I go out running with beth and her crew, I learn so much. Not only about orientation or learning new areas to run in, but I also gained much needed experience and insight that was sorely lacking from my running : 1. which type of trail shoes to run in for different types of terrain. 2. how much fluid to carry with you on trail runs 3. how much food ( cliff shots/blocks) and how often to eat..
I wore my la sportivias that I wore the last time I ran in Damascus ( those worked well there) but a big NO! for the trail we did yesterday. definitely needed some heavier montrails or my asics's trail running shoes ( they are called "attacks?" I felt like I tenderfooted through alot of the run and was very tweeky with my ankles I needed a much more supportive shoes.. the la sportivas were great for dirt trails and mud.. not so much for rocks.
I ate every hour I ran.. I ended up eating a totall of 2 packs of cliff blocks and one pack of honey stinger blocks. and then I carried about 50 oz of water and a 20 oz handheld of accelerade. I didn't feel like I bonked at all. and drank all the accelerade and about 75% of the water.. so I hit it fairly close to what I needed.
I can't wait for my next adventure! I feel so acutely aware that every time I am able to go to the mountains and run that it is indeed a gift. I am so thankful that I was able to go run and see all the wonderful things I did yesterday! I can't wait to go back!