Sunday, October 17, 2010

10/18/10: Rim 2 Rim 2 Rim

On Saturday I went for a really long training run with Greg. We figure the run was about 44 miles with 9-10K feet elevation gain, which makes it the biggest and baddest run I've done at least since my 53 mile DNF at Laurel Highlands in June.

Greg came up with the route, and a glorious route it was. The short version is that you climb up and over the Massanutten mountains, run across the Shenandoah Valley, run up the Shenandoahs to the Appalachian Trail, and turn around and do it again. Aside from running to another mountain range and back, another cool part is that the whole route is on the Tuscarora Trail, which is an ~250 mile trail that runs mostly parallel to the AT.

Here is the more detailed course description:
  • Start in the valley between the western and eastern ridge of the Massanuttens
  • Climb up the eastern ridge to about 2,000 feet (0 - 3 miles)
  • Run along the ridge with some great views out over the valley towards the Shenandoahs (3 - 6 miles)
  • For kicks descend back to the valley on the western side, climb back up, and descend over to the Shenandoah valley (6 - 12 miles)
  • Run across the Shenandoah valley and river on rolling dirt roads (12 - 16)
  • Climb forever from the valley up to about 3,500 feet (16 - 22.5)
  • Turn around and run back to car (22.5 to 44)

For the math whizzes out there, you'll see that the way back was a mile shorter. We took a shortcut route on the final descent (weak sauce, I know).

Below is a terrain map of where we ran. I've marked the starting point, where we crossed over the Massanuttens and into the valley, and where we hit the AT and turned around.

It was an awesome day out in the mountains. The weather was perfect, the views were incredible with the low humidity, and there was some good fall foliage. My legs were a bit dead after running 90+ miles the prior week, but I hit a groove after a few hours and stayed there for the rest of the 10 hour run.

Here are some pictures from the adventure:

(After climbing up the eastern ridge of the Massanuttens. We ran over the rolling hills up on the ridgeline that you can see in the center of the picture)

(View out over the valley to the Shenandoahs where we were going. It looked pretty dauntingly far away)

(Crossing the river down in the valley)

(We came across the biggest mushroom I have ever seen. It was bigger than Greg's head! Greg ate the whole thing while running)

(Part of the way on the climb up to the Appalachian trail. You can see the Massanuttens in the distance.)

(There's a trail somewhere in here!)

(Fall scenery up at 3,500 feet)

(Back down in the valley. The highest peak in the distance is where we came from.)

(View while climbing back up the Massanuttens)

(I really love this part of the trail that climbs back up into the Massanuttens)

(Another view over the Shenandoahs from the Massanuttens. Almost home!)

It was a fantastic run, and I was really excited by how good I felt. I'm pumped for MMTR in a few weeks and just need to make sure I'm fully recovered and rested!
Greg, thanks for keeping me company and designing a killer course.

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