Today I am joining in on a new link up hosted by my friend, and fellow blogger, Deb. It’s called ‘Wednesday Word’ and it’s a link up for bloggers from all walks of life (not just running/healthy living bloggers). Each week, one word will be given as a prompt to write about. I think it will be really interesting to see the different takes each person will have on a given word.
This week’s word is Solitude, which handily ties in with my long trail run recap. I think solitude is definitely something a lot of runners pursue. The most solitude I can get while running is definitely on my treadmill, but trail running is a close second. I like trails that have a good balance of solitude, while still seeing someone every now and then. I’m not looking for desolation, but a little peace and quiet amidst the flora and fauna for a few hours is just what I’m looking for in a trail run. And that’s exactly what I got this past Sunday.
I headed up to the Blacksburg area for a long trail run at Pandapas Pond on the Poverty Creek Trail System late Sunday morning. It had been awhile (since January, I think) since I ran here and I missed it. It’s definitely my favorite trail system. We had some great spring weather on Sunday, and it was breezy and in the mid-50’s. Pretty decent weather for running around in the woods! I got started on a trail with some gentle rolling hills, with plans to make an ascent up Brush Mountain along the way.
After about two miles, I hopped on a trail that takes a little over two miles to climb to the top of Brush Mountain. It’s a tough climb but I had a pretty good rhythm going. I would run for one tenth of a mile, and then hike for one tenth of a mile. I felt like this was a pretty good strategy, and I may use it for Blue Ridge in two weekends.
Three quarters of the way up the mountain it got really steep. So for the final half mile of the climb I was running when I could and hiking when I had to. That final stretch was tough and it had my legs and lungs burning (in a good way).
During that final half mile, there’s a great view of a distant valley. I’ve never been able to figure out what it is, but I think it’s towards Pembroke (if I’ve got my bearings right). You’ll only see it if you remember to look over your right shoulder as you’re hiking up the steepest part of the trail.
Once I got to the top I did another short out and back before arriving at the gravel forest road. I was just shy of 5 miles and decided to stop briefly to have a gel (root beer flavor!). Before I started running again, I tried to capture a panoramic photo of the view. It’s a great view, looking the opposite direction of the above photo. Unfortunately, I didn’t do a very good job of capturing it.
From there, I started making my way down the mountain. For the next mile or so I was on the forest service road, which has large rolling hills. Then it was back onto the trail for a winding sharp descent back to the pond.
As I approached mile 7, my legs started to get really tired and I really started to feel the warm weather and the time on my feet. But I kept trucking along.
When I arrived back to “ground level” I headed over towards the pond for a lap around so that I could use the restroom (they have vault toilets). From there I made my way back to the parking lot with 8 miles down and two to go.
When I made it back to the parking lot I stopped at my car, stretched briefly, and had another gel (salted caramel this time). My legs were feeling completely gassed and I seriously debated just calling the run at 8 miles. But then I thought no way, I came here to do 10 miles and that’s what I’m going to do. Especially after having to cut last week’s long run short due to breathing issues. So I headed back out onto the trail I started on to get the final two miles done.
The first half mile was really, really tough. But after that I felt like I got a small second wind and I was able to work through the final mile and a half. It was a beautiful day to be out on the trails, and I had a great run, but boy was I happy to finally arrive back at the parking lot.
I’m happy to report that I didn’t have any wheezing or breathing issues during this run. I took one puff from my new inhaler and I was good to go the whole run. After months of breathing issues (again, I don’t know why I put off a trip to the doctor for so long), it was so refreshing to have the only limiting factor on the run be my own fitness level. This run was a lot of work – the good kind – and hopefully it helped prepare me a bit for Blue Ridge in two weeks and the Conquer the Cove 25K trail race at the end of May.
What’s your favorite workout spot? Describe it!