As the hours ticked slowly passed I considered my decision to drive from home to the start of our third training run for the Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 in the wee hours of the morning instead of staying at a hotel. However 3 a.m. Saturday morning found me looking a bit less than rested as I got ready for the dark lonely drive over the mountain.
A warm cup of coffee later I was happy to have found my way in the dark with time to spare. After checking in and finding my pacer, D I stayed warm in the car as I went over final outfit choices and double checked my pack. It was not reassuring to see the snow flying in the unexpectedly cold morning air but I knew I would soon be very warm working hard to make my way along the trails so with the in mind I left the warmth of my car to visit with a few other brave souls out in the cold.
D feel free to bust me on photos out of order. I know it will happen.
After a brief delay to allow a few runners who had encountered some road closures to arrive we were off into the dark to begin the long day on the trails.
Our day started at the Camo Roosevelt parking area and would run the last 40ish miles of the MMT 100 course. D and I ran with a group of other runners and almost chatted our way past the sharp right up Duncan Knob.
Looking at my paces and knowing how I felt at the time, it's easy to see that the climb up to Bird Knob was not my favorite. At only mile 16 of the day's run I used the amazing view to help pull me through the low point and D did a great job at keeping us moving and trying to educate me about the course.
First time up Jaw Bone
These two photos are out of order but I thought it was interesting how the conditions changed throughout the day and the snow line lifted higher in the mountains. The climb at Jaw Bone is steep but only little over a mile long I actually enjoyed it more the second time through.
Second time up Jaw Bone
I was happy to make it through all but the final miles without getting my feet soaked in the cold water. Usually a welcome relief, today the cold was definitely a factor in our day that won't be as much a consideration in the middle of May. Unless I'm lucky enough to encounter one of their famous thunderstorms.
Oh surprise! Another climb.
As the miles got longer and what little warmth we had felt from the moment of sunshine waned we began to talk about all kinds of things to just keep our minds off our frozen butts. Warm food, grilled cheese sandwiches were big matters when you can't imagine eating another sugary snack.
YMX by Yellowman kept me warm and looking good.
I'm thinking, "and this was only mile 36ish today in May it will be mile 90 something!!"
The final miles were on gravel road just as the actual finish will be. Eager to get warm D and I put in some fast miles as we counted down bridges to our finish line for the day. The views even from the road were beautiful. The creek along the road was running fast and high with icicles clinging to the low branches.
I look before after the run than I did before!
I wish I could say that after running this final section of the race course I know it. Not much could be farther from the truth. Even now looking over the turn sheet I am pressed to be able to remember what each section of trail is like. This worries me. My lack of ability to remember how trails fit together worries me when the element of darkness is added. I know on race day, if I stay alert, staying on the course will not be as hard thanks to the race day markings that will be there. But when I will need to be watching where I put my feet and watching where my next turn will be is...well it is just another fact to consider and make sure I have done everything I can to minimize it's effects come race day. The next training run should be great practice for that. It's in the dark. 26 miles on the mountain. In the dark. Fun.