An early start
It felt like the night before a race as my nerves were on edge when I checked into the hotel Friday night. I tried to tell myself that it was just one of the four Training Runs for the Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 but I couldn't help but be a bit unsettled knowing that my last long trail effort had been at the Stone Mill 50 miler in late November.
One of many good rocky climbs
Fortunately an issue with my room had me back in the lobby when Brian, the run director, was checking in. He graciously went over the course with me and assured me that there were only a few places that runners were prone to going off course. With my nerves a bit less on edge I finally got some sleep.
An example of why they say, Massanutten Rocks!
For the training run runners were asked to bring an item to help stock the two aid stations that would
be along the 32+ mile course. Since I was only asked to bring water and I wanted to help out a bit more, I made pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. It was also nice to have a familiar treat to look forward to enjoying.
Runners met at the finish area to get checked in, drop off aid station supplies and car pool to the start of the run. Unfortunately it took me longer to find my way to the Signal Knob Trail head and I was running later than I had wanted. I quickly got checked in and was asked to drive several others to the start. I wasn't even able to find the trail runner friend, Diane. Since Diane will be pacing in at MMT this May we are planning to run as many of the training runs together as possible.
With the car full of chattering trail runners we joined the caravan toward the start. We barely got there with enough time for me to fill my hydration pack (should have done that the night before) and grab my gear. Diane was already there and ready to go. Final instructions and we were off. The day started with over 3 miles on a dirt road. Thankfully Diane kept my coffee fueled enthusiasm in check. Being able to pace myself for the distance will be one of my biggest hurtles in May. If I run too fast too early I will never see that finish line.
Diane and I ran off and on with several other trail friends. I was glad to share some time with Kim. A fellow trail runner who I respect a lot. She is such a strong runner and skilled at the trails at Massanutten. Her ability to find energy late in a race is inspiring.
No rocks - for a little while
The early portion of trails - wait the course was largely rocky but - the early portion of the course was an eye-opener as to what kind of a mouth full I will have to chew in four months. It was also a reminder of what kind of shape I am in or not in. But I didn't let the challenge of the rocks, inclines or distance dampen my love for being out in the woods on the trail.
A refeshing creek to cross
Being able to work together with Diane as we both took turns leading and pulling each other through low moments and feeding off each other's high moments was so beneficial. I know that we both learned a lot about working together. And what works for motivating me when my energy is dipping. Like running into trail friend, Gary and his perpetual smile. Just seeing he excitement and sharing a few words helped fuel me through many miles.
Kim, Brian, Harry and Diane refueling
My introduction to the trails at Massanutten was a real eye-opener but with this run I feel one of many step closer to being able to confidently see the start line in May on the Massanutten mountains.
32.7 miles of rocky hilly fun