Tuesday, March 18, 2008

24 Miles At First Landing

I ran at First Landing on Saturday. It was a beautiful day and I had a great run. The run was highlighted by a spirited sprint the last 2 miles as I was using another runner who had passed me as a pacer. This day was completely different than last week. The weather was perfect and I saw a lot of squirrels and birds in the forest. I was listening to a Steve Runner on the Phedippidations podcast talk about "who do you run for". I have been thinking a lot about that lately. Who do you run for?

Week Summary:This week was pretty disappointing. I missed 2 easy days of running and was 10 miles below my goal mileage. I did get my hill, fartlek, and long run in. I did not lift any weights, which was a priority.

Weekly Total: 38 Miles 3 Week Running Average Mileage: 32 Miles

Plans: We are going to Pennsylvania for Easter. I am planning on running the first 20 to 30 miles of the Laurel Highlands trail one day and the last 10 in the dark another day.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Promise Land 50K Preview

My next planned race is David Horton's Promise Land 50K. This is the second race in the Lynchburg Ultra Series. It takes place on April 26 in outside of Bedford Virginia. The Holiday Lake 50K++ was so well organized that I am now a huge of Dr. Horton's race directing abilities along with his ultra running accomplishments.

The Promise Land 50K is a much different style of race than the Holiday Lake 50K++. Holiday Lake is very runnable with not a lot of elevation change, where Promise Land is run in the mountains with a lot of elevation change, as you can see below.

Promise Land 50K Elevation Profile
 I have started to run at Mount Trashmore City Park once a week in preparation. There are no hills in Virginia Beach so my options are limited. I have been running hard up one side and even harder down the other. Most runners drop out of ultras from suffering from Dead Quads. This condition is caused by downhill running. The downhill part of the race is the best opportunity to "make up time" from all the uphill climbing. My training also consists of a weekly 6 to 8 mile Fartlek run, daily easy runs, and a 20+ mile long runs on the weekends. I like to do the long runs at First Landing State Park. I feel this race is going to be perfect preparation for the Laurel Highlands Ultra, which takes place on similar terrain, has less elevation gain, but is twice as long.

Is anyone up for a Saturday long run in beautiful Bedford Virginia the end of April?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Blue Ridge Mountain Sports Rocks

Blue Ridge Mountain Sports is great. I bought a pair of Montrail Hardrock shoes there last week. I ran in the shoes over the weekend, the signal knob run. They did not work out and my feet were hurting 5 miles in. Then I place a second set of insoles in them with the arches cut out and ran 3 miles in them again. My feet fell asleep. These shoes are not for me.

I called up BRMS and asked if I could return them. I felt kind of bad returning used shoes, but he said clean them up and bring them in for us to look at. The next day I returned them for a full refund. What makes this even more remarkable is the fact that I bought them on clearance at 50% off. This store rocks. I will be a lifelong supporter of them. I just bought a pair of La Sportiva Fireblades on sale form there website. Support Blue Ridge Mountains Sports!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

First Landing State Park

First Landing State Park is a real gem located in the North Eastern most part of Virginia Beach. I highly recommend checking it out and going for a run or hike. There are a few trails, the main one allows bikes. It is very busy here on the weekends but do not let that discourage you. I always see many Birders with their binoculars and cameras. There are also an abundance of dogs and there owners roaming the trails. For trail runners there are not a lot of options in this area. This is by far the best trail system I have found close. It is pretty flat, but you can find some hills on the Long Creek Trail. By running the Long Creek Trail and the Cape Henry Trail you can make a 10.5 mile loop. Another advantage to running here are the water fountains and bathrooms located at either end of the Cape Henry Trail.

I often run my long runs at First Landing State Park. On Saturday I ran there in the afternoon once the local Tornado watch was lifted. It was extremely windy and there was a ton of branches and debris being blown from the trees. Limbs were literally falling all around me. I took these pictures with my phone while running. It ended up being a wonderful 21 mile run. I forgot my Ipod at home and that too was a real blessing as I was able to spend my time with God in his creation with no outside distractions. I love how these things turn out sometimes.

Last Weeks Mileage: 42

Next Weeks Projected: 45 - 50

3 week average: 20

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Signal Knob Trail Run/Report

Signal Knob lies on the north-west tip of the Massanutten Mountain range. It is located in the George Washington National Forest, just west of Shenandoah National Park. During the Civil War Confederate Soldiers held an outpost on top and had a birds eye view of the valleys below. Signal Knob is the large mountain to the east of Strasburg, VA. It is a dominating feature as you drive south on Interstate 81 towards the Strasburg exit. There currently is a large broadcast antenna on the top of the mountain. This antenna is located a few 100 feet east of the official "Signal Knob" overlook. The trail-head is located on Fort Valley Road and can be accessed via Route 55 from Front Royal or Strasburg Virginia (Lat/Long 38.934577, -78.320203).

When hiking the Signal Knob loop you will actually hike on the Signal Knob Trail, the Tuscarora Trail, and the Massanutten Mountain Trail. The Hiking Upward site does a great job describing the trails and has a map.This area is known for its rocks and this trail is no exception. There are sections where I had a hard time walking and there are very few runnable sections. The initial ascent up the Signal Knob trail is 1500 feet in 3.5 miles. I was able to run some up the ascent if the trail was not to rocky. The next mile is a little descent and flat. This is the most runnable trail section. I ran along this ridge and hit the Signal Knob overlook. After taking some pictures I continued on. The next 1.5 miles are a steep descent on a fire road. This was by far my fastest section due to the even terrain and downhill running.After a left on the the Tuscarora Trail I climbed up over the a ridge again. This is the steepest climb on the trail, 600 feet in 3/4 of a mile. It is all down hill from the top of this ridge. At this point I started to have issues with my new Montail Hardrock trail runners. It was a long trip down with the foot rubbing, but I made it to the car. Bailey was very tired at this point. I got the the car and changed shoes and ran 2 more miles before calling it a day. I covered only 12 miles in all, but the elevation and rocky conditions made it feel like 20.It felt great to get back on the trail again after almost 2 weeks off with my foot injury. My foot is feeling 100% again and has not bothered me at all. In hindsight I am glad I took the time off and now feel fresh and ready to train hard for my next race.Stats: 12 miles 3:10 / 10 mile loop in 2:36 / Time to tower 1:13
Links: Signal Knob Elevation Profile, Signal Knob HR and Pace