Sunday, August 31, 2008

Grindstone Training, week #11, August 25-31

"Hmmmm....I don't think people have a clue what they have signed up for."

That was the general theme of our conversation after running miles 50-80 of the Grindstone course yesterday (Saturday). Race Director Clark Zealand and his helper David Horton, along with a few other helpful volunteers, ferried a group of about 11 of us up to Reddish Knob, which is very close to the mile 50 mark of Gstone and the turnaround at Briery Branch Rd. After climbing to the summit (which we will do once on race day)and admiring the spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, it was time to "Go!" as Horton would say, as he waits for no one on his training runs. Yes, this is true, as I found myself left behind a few times after stopping to eat or adjust my pack.

Miles 50-65 are mostly all downhill on old fire road and the sweet single track of the Wild Oak Trail(click on the link and be sure to read the reviews!). It took us 3 hours to get down to the Wild Oak Trail parking area, which is where the aid station will be for miles 35 and 65 of the race. We were able to fill up our bottles and packs with water and Clif (thanks, Clark!!) and were on our way across the North River to pick up the Wild Oak Trail (TWOT) again. This time we were climbing up to Lookout Mountain and Hankey Mountain, and I was able to hook up with Jenny Anderson and a few other folks for the climbs. I went totally dry (full 60 oz hydration pack and one 20 oz hand held) after 2 hours of climbing...what the ...? Luckily, Jenny had plenty of Clif in her pack and was generous enough to share with me. We had a great time chatting and talking about our strategies for running Gstone, our lives as working moms (she's a teacher and coach like me, and it was great to once again share the trail with another tough woman from Lynchburg)!

The highlight of the day, in addition to making some new friends, was discovering the wonderful, wonderful Dowell's Draft trail: for many years, while running on the TWOT course, I had seen the DD trailhead at the intersection of the TWOT loop atop Hankey Mountain, but knew it lead in the opposite direction I needed to go. On race day, we will climb this trail at mile 20-ish and descend it at mile 77...it is a lovely, gradual descent on smooth single track, the kind Scotty Mills dreams about (he once told me running his ideal trail is like being a "marble in a slot"...they have lots of those trails in CA, but few in VA, I think).

It took us 6 hours to run 30 miles, the fastest day I've ever spent on TWOT (a 26 mile loop of TWOT takes me about 6:30 on a GREAT day). Clearly, the downhills worked in our favor as did running on fresh legs---on race day, I hope to run that same section in 7-8 hours! It was an awesome training run and it gave me a ton of confidence as I head towards the taper in a few weeks!

As for the post-run chatter...it was clear by day's end that Grindstone will be a HUGE challenge to finish, because of the amount of climbing and the first 12 hours in the dark. The trail is fantastic and very runnable (when not hiking), and that will present another challenge, as folks will think they "should" run when really, they shouldn't. Hmmm.....

OK, Here's the week in full:

Monday, August 25: OFF. Nada. Nothing. Recover from Cheat.

Tuesday, August 26: Run 5 easy, lift upper and lower body.

Wednesday, August 27: First day of school! Day off to deal with all that.

Thursday, August 28: Run easy 6 miles on OHill.

Friday, August 29: Lift upper body and core.

Saturday, August 30: 30 hilly miles on Gstone course. Felt great!

Sunday, August 31: 5 miles walking in the woods near our house, discovering some cool new trails, with my hubby and dog. Great way to recover.

Next week: shorter, faster runs ahead as I taper down the weekly miles.

1 comment:

Kevin M. Levin said...

Hi Sophie, -- I finally decided to start a blog for running. It's called Just Another Runner's bLOG and you can find it here: http://running5.wordpress.com/

As you can see I am not running long distances, but I would like to talk to you about maintaining a schedule and diet. Hope you are enjoying the long weekend.