Saturday, August 2, 2014

7/27/14 - Big Vertical

The Switzerland ultramarathon training continues!   Saturday kicked off a 3 week stretch of big training prior the 2 week taper.

Over the weekend I managed 10K of climbing and 7K of descending over 26 miles.  On Saturday I did 3,000+ feet of climbing on the treadmill over 4 miles (in addition to a flat 6 mile run around town).  On Sunday it was time for serious business, and I sought out the steepest big climb in a 100 mile radius of DC.

White Oak Canyon has some beautiful scenery and pretty tough terrain.  The less used Cedar Run trail connects up to the Hawksbill trail and packs a punch with 3,300 feet of climbing over 4 rocky miles.   Hawsbill is the highest point in the Shenandoahs with some stunning views of Old Rag and other surrounding peaks.  You drop off the back side of Hawsbill for a 7 mile descent that is gradual for 4.5 miles and then steep and rocky for the last 2.5 miles.  The plan was to do this twice.

It rained for about the first hour on the trail, which made for tough going up the slippery rocks of Cedar Run.  I brought my Salomon 12 liter pack and tried to get close to simulating what I would need to carry in Switzerland.  I brought along a waterproof shell jacket (totally unnecessary), an insulated top layer (totally unnecessary), two headlamps (you guessed it, unnecessary), trekking poles, my phone, 110 liters of water, and some food. 

Between my pack, somewhat tired legs from the climb the day before, the tough terrain, and the rain, I knew I would be in for a solid workout.  The first loop was slower than anticipated, but I felt strong and was having a good time.  The trekking poles were awesome and a huge helps on the climbs. 

I managed to do the second loop over 20 minutes faster than the first loop, which was awesome.  I was feeling good and could easily have kept on going.  With the trekking poles and all of my incline training on the treadmill, I feel like I could climb basically forever, and the downhills will be the hard part for me.  I hammered the downhill on the second loop in part to try to brace myself for the brutal 20K of descending in the Sardona Ultra.

So all in all a great day and a solid weekend of training.  I saw a bear cub, enjoyed outstanding views, ran past numerous beautiful waterfalls, and felt great the whole way.  What more can you ask for?!

View from Hawsbill Peak, highest in the Shenandoahs

River crossing over into White Oak Canyon 

White Oak Canyon waterfalls 

Top of Hawsbill Take 2! 

The  prominent peak in the middle is Old Rag 

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