Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving in Virginia

(view from Old Rag at sunrise, 11.29.08 by Deb Shaffer)

What a joyous Thanksgiving! We celebrated with the entire Carpenter side of the family at Elysium after the annual Boar's Head Turkey Trot... then I spent Saturday with my closest friends in the VHTRC running 26 miles near Old Rag and Hawksbill Mountain in the Shenandoah National Park.

In reflecting on 2008, I find I am most thankful for...

Family gatherings We had a very special Thanksgiving as everyone was able to come and spend time together in a gorgeous setting.

(the gang at Thanksgiving)

Running on beautiful mountain trails with my friends while sharing the ups and downs of parenting, training, racing, living...

(a few VHTRC friends at the start of the Old Rag/Hawksbill run)

Living and working in this beautiful part of the country...

(the view from Elysium of Afton Mountain)

Racing this year on tough trails, thanks to the tireless efforts of race and run directors David Horton, Clark Zealand, Dan Lehmann, Adam Cassiday, Dennis Herr, Quatro Hubbard, Keith Knipling, Mike Bur, Kerry Owens, the Uwharrie gals, and the VHTRC.

(Old Rag Mountain)

My family---Rusty, Chapin, Carter, and Virginia, and our puppies Jack and Sky. They are the lights of my life.

What are you most thankful for this year? I would love to know.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Back In Business

It's less than four weeks until Hellgate 100K, so last week I decided to test my recovery and legs:

Monday I took off, then on Tuesday I ran easy for about an hour and lifted. Wednesday was my first track workout since before Grindstone. After a 10-minute WU, I ran 3x 1200 with the 800 hill surge in the middle. My goal was to hit splits near to those during the Gstone training cycle. I was very pleased (but tired) at the end:
4:57/8:20, 4:55/8:12, 4:56/8:14. I then ran a few miles over to the powerlines and tested myself on the climb: 1:05, 1:06, 1:08. Whew! Not my fastest, but I am pleased given the leaves covering the rocks.

Thursday I took off and Friday I swam and lifted.

Saturday, while my roadie friends were dealing with temps in the 70s and full sun at the Richmond Marathon, I was running two hours easy on the Rivanna Trail in torrential downpours and temps in the 60s (and humidity!). Props to Quatro and Bill Gentry who ran the Richmond Marathon and toughed out the awful conditions in fine time. Ultrarunners are just plain tough!

Sunday we had a cold front move in and very cold temps in the 30s. I ran about 20 miles on the AT/Rip Rap/Wildcat Ridge trails with Ed Duval. This is my new favorite run. It has very tough climbs, awesome singletrack, and gorgeous waterfalls and rivers alongside the trail. Here are the GPS details. Perfect training for Hellgate with a few rocky, leaf-covered sections thrown in.

Today I am feeling tired but my legs are fine---it was a good week. My next (and last) long run will be the annual Death March in the SNP over Thanksgiving weekend with the VHTRC---one of my favorite runs of the year.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Burn!

I have written about many of my "firsts"---first ultra, first 50 miler, first 100---but never about the first trail race I ever ran, the Blue Ridge Burn 10K. This race has been around for 13 years, longer than any trail race (shorter than 50K) in the area. It was first held up at Wintergreen Resort but moved to Walnut Creek Park outside of Charlottesville in 1996. Created by Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine, it quickly drew a cult following of diehard trail runners, including me. In fact, I remember finishing my first Burn in 1999 and telling my husband, "THAT was soooo much fun!" Here are the results from the last 10 years, including 2008, thanks to the tireless efforts of Charlottesville Track Club volunteer, Carol Finch.

The Burn was also known for it's cool race T-shirts, each year with a different catchy phrase, such as, "We Don't Need No Stinkin' Pavement", "Burn Baby Burn" and my personal favorite, "Big Hurt in the Dirt: Did Mommy Pack Your Juice Box?" I especially love the fact that the event is totally not-for-profit. In years past, proceeds have benefited the Southern Environmental Law Center, and this year's beneficiary was The Rivanna Trails Foundation, the steward of our beloved Rivanna Trail. For 20 bucks, runners got a technical T (sans catchy phrase, unfortunately), a well-marked trail (thanks to Jeff Wilbur of the RTF), post-race drinks and bagels, and the beautiful setting of Walnut Creek Park, a favorite of runners, walkers, bikers, and frisbee golf players.

The Burn is also where I first met some good ultra friends: Anne Riddle Lundblad (who won the race in 1999, just a few weeks before she won JFK 50, her first ultra); Quatro Hubbard, one of my oldest VHTRC buddies; and Bill Potts, my longstanding (and longsuffering) training partner. Each year without fail, Potts, Q and I run the Burn, even if we are recovering from 100 milers, marathons, or training for the Richmond Marathon the next weekend...we wouldn't miss it. We suffer through the torrid pace set by the non-ultrarunners and actually run the climbs!! It's an awesome tempo run and each year we run it slower than the year before (except for Q...props to you for beating me this year!). This year Jeff Wilbur, J.R. and Peggy Ankney joined us for good times on the trail.

The Burn marks the end of the fall racing season and the beginning of Hellgate interval training for me...and is a yearly reminder of why I fell in love with trail racing in the first place. Good times with good friends for a good cause. Can't beat it.

Below are pics from the 1999 Burn: The start with Anne and Potts in the crowd, and one of me looking waaayyy younger...the good old days.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Masochists 2008

My first 50 miler was the Mountain Masochist 50 mile in 2003. It was my second ultra and I was woefully under prepared, but I loved it and met a good friend as I was coming out of the infamous Loop: Ryan Henry. On that day Ryan was a 29-year-old ultra veteran who ran with me to the finish and put up with my whining and whimpering...and we have been trail buddies ever since.

As much as I love the race, Masochist was NOT in my recovery plan from Grindstone, so yesterday Ryan and I met at the Masochist finish line and ran back to mile 41, hoping to see the front runners and enjoy the beautiful weather on the trail. We were not disappointed: we managed to see the top 30 runners, take some great photos, and get in a hard (for me) 20-mile training run in a beautiful place. Good times, Ryan!

We saw tough performances by the top guys and a gutsy run by David Horton---his first run at Masochist since the first year of the race, 26 years ago, I believe. Many folks were having a tough day on the course due to some warm temperatures, and Horton was not happy when we saw him in Forest Valley, a horrendous leafy climb off an old section of the AT. But he hammered to the finish line strong and happy, surrounded by his family and crew, Jen Pharr Davis, who is fresh off her record-setting AT thru-hike.

Clark Zealand, the new RD of Masochsist, was at the finish to greet each runner, and he did an extra cool thing with the results this year: they included splits from certain aid stations as well as the runner's previous Masochist race times. And I was sorry to miss many folks who came in after 11 hours---my camera's batteries died. But just before that happened, I caught these two tough women, Kerry Owens and Rebekah Trittipoe, on film as they were finishing their fifth Beast Series run,
and I did manage to get these great pics!

(photo on left of Jen Henry, Jen Pharr Davis, Sophie, Bethany Patterson and Rebekah Trittipoe by Jen Henry)