Wednesday, May 30, 2012

5/30/12: More Bears!

Training has been great the last few weeks.  I ran 90 miles the week of Ice Age and hit 90 miles last week as well.  The weather was amazing last weekend, and it was one of those rare times in DC when it is pleasantly warm (upper 70s, lower 80s) with zero humidity.

This last weekend I did a monster run out in the Shenandoahs.  I covered a little over 40 miles on basically the same route that I ran last year around this time.  I went up Buck Hollow to Mary's Rock, across the AT for about 10 miles, down White Oak Canyon, and back.  This time I made it all the way to the parking lot of White Oak Canyon.

Conditions were tough, and it got into the upper 80s and was very humid (especially earlier in the day).  I held up well though and felt great for almost the whole run.  I started overheating on the nasty climb up White Oak Canyon, but I kept it together by increasing the drinking, switching away from solid foods to Perpetuem, slowing down the pace a bit, doubling up on S-caps, and stopping a few times in mountain streams to cool off.

Buck Hollow happens to be where I saw the the mother bear and her two cubs last year and was charged by mama bear.  After about 39 miles of running, I was flying down the trail and feeling great.  I was rocking out to Party Rock Anthem (what else?) and pumped full of the end of long run adrenaline. 

I came across two hikers who stopped me, and the following conversation ensued:
  • Hiker: "Hey, just so you know, we just passed two bears a little way down the trail"
  • Me: "Are we talking adult bears? cubs?"
  • Hiker: "Oh, it was a mother and a cub"
  • Me: "Yeah, that's important information ... was the mother aggressive?"
  • Hiker: "No, not really.  I came on them and started jumping around to scare them away.  The cub ran up a tree and the mother ran away.  Then I waited around for 5 minutes for the mother to come back so I could take a video, but she never came."
  • Me: "Uhh, you shouldn't do that."
I came upon another group of hikers closer to the bear, and mama had come back by then.  Fortunately she was not aggressive at all and let everyone by.

But here is the moral of the story.  Usually I hate bear encounters, particularly those involving cubs.  This one was actually incredibly reassuring though.  If this idiot managed to not get eaten by the mother bear, I'm pretty confident I can make it through any bear encounter. 

Oh, and I also bought a bear whistle later that weekend.  So let that be a warning to all bears in the Shenandoahs.  Don't come near me.  I have a whistle.

Pictures from a recent run on and around the Potomac Heritage Trail

Pictures from the Mary's Rock

The views weren't great with the haze and humidity, so I took only these few pictures.  You can check out my post from last year for many more pictures that were a lot better:

And finally, I leave you with this awesome video of ultrarunners trying to set the world 100m record while running down a steep volcano.  You should skip ahead to abotu 5:30 when the action starts.  This looks insanely fun and makes me immediately want to find a volcano and run down it!

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