This was an epic and fun week of running. I ran in DC, the Shenandoahs, and the Marin Headlands out in San Fran. I ran under the stars well before dawn in the Headlands, did “speedwork” with a Turkey Trot 5K, and trudged through a foot of snow up on the Appalachian Trail. I covered about 91 miles and felt surprising good throughout the week.
· Saturday: 20 mile trail run in DC. I felt good on this run and moved along relatively quickly on some of my favorite DC trails (Potomac Heritage, Battery Kemble, Glover Archbald). Unfortunately I took a big spill 5 miles in and seriously wrenched my thumb. I was worried it might be broken, but a week later it feels much better, so I’m sure it will be fine.
· Sunday: Easy 8 miles before flying out to San Fran.
· Monday: 13 miles in the Marin Headlands. I worked the time change in my favor and woke up at 4:45am and drove to the nearest trailhead. It was a beautiful night with more stars than I expected to see close to the city. After a little over an hour of nice, hilly running I was treated to a beautiful sunrise over the East Bay. Nothing like getting 13 miles in on sweet trail before 7:15am.
Sunrise over the East Bay
You can see the city of San Fran in the distance just to the left of center
· Tuesday: 9 miles on trails. Woke up early again and did a 5 mile loop up and over the local hill by Danny and Rachel (I was lucky enough to stay with them while I was there). I picked up Danny back at their house and had the pleasure of another 4 miles with the big man.
· Wednesday: 8 miles easy.
· Thursday: 8.5 miles with 5K in 18:20. With all of the hilly miles this week, a cross country flight, and having not run a single sub 6 minute mile since May (very sad, but true … I checked my training log), I was not really expecting much. But I felt pretty solid and managed to average 5:55 (5:57, 5:57, 5:52). The family also came out to this one, which was tons of fun. Liam even walked over the finish line after getting pushed in his stroller by Grandma and then me for a bit after I had finished.
· Friday: 24.5 miles in the Shenandoahs. VHTRC has an annual Black Friday tradition of a tough but beautiful loop that starts and finishes at Old Rag. This sounded like a way better idea than shopping, so I was excited to join in the fun for the first time. The remnants of Tuesday’s storm made themselves felt at the higher elevations. Old Rag is a notoriously rocky / technical mountain, and it was quite tricky with all of the rocks covered in ice and snow. It took us over 2 hours to go a bit over 5 miles, so that gives you a sense of what we were working with. I wanted to get home by 3 to spend time with the family, so I figured I needed to start hauling if I want to make it home before the next day. I motored down the fireroad to the Whiteoak Canyon trailhead and then started up the 3,000 foot climb. I made quick work of Whiteoak Canyon and then slower progress up the very snowy fireroad to Skyline Drive. I bailed on the Hawksbill Summit to try to make faster progress and turned onto the Appalachian Trail. Well this side of the mountain was much more snowy, and I had the honor to be breaking fresh tracks in about a foot of snow. I was making very slow progress, my phone literally froze (apparently it stops working in sustained cold temperatures), and I was not dressed for this level of adventure (especially in the sock department). I turned off to trudge back up to Skyline Drive and ran on the road for 1.5 miles to Skyland Ranch. I met up with the VHTRC crew who were smart enough not to do the Old Rag Summit and chatted a bit while warming up and bossing some BBQ chips. But soon it was time to get back out and get home, and I bombed down about 7 miles of snowy and fun trail. All in all a great day in the mountains, and the legs held up decently well given the 5K the day before.
You can see the Old Rag Summit in the distance just to the right and above center. It was lit up in early morning light shining off the snow.
Just a bit of snow at the higher elevations!
Getting closer the the summit
Old Rag "trail"
Very nice views from up top
You can barely see it in the distance in this shot, but at the highest elevations the mountains were just caked in snow
Somehow we need to get up there
Old Rag is never an easy climb. With ice and snow it was even more fun.
Hanging out up top in a snowy paradise
Some sweet single track trail with just the right amount of snow
Whiteoak Canyon Falls in the snow
Top of the falls
More nice trail, but the snow was getting thicker
Breaking trail on the AT. The branches were also heavy with snow and drooping down to the ground. I am crouching to get this shot.
Views like this make it all well worth it. The peak in the middle is Old Rag.
Skyline Drive at its most beautiful