2014 Charlottesville 10 Miler

IMG_20140329_113055_432I’m pretty sure this was my worst race ever. My only excuse is that I screwed up royally.


Last night I dreamed that I finished the race in 86 minutes. In my dream, I ran at a very relaxed pace and even stopped for a while to admire the ocean…

Sure, I was disappointed with my time, but it’s not like I’d really tried. And it was just a DREAM.

There’s no way I was going to run that slowly in real life. I was prepared. I’d been training on the course, I’d been doing my speed work.

My “A” goal was to break 80 minutes.

My “B” goal was a PR: faster than the 82:23 I’d run last year.

My “C” goal was to finish without getting struck by lightning (earlier in the week they’d been calling for thunder storms).

Race morning:

It was 55 degrees and foggy when I woke up. It was only supposed to be 49. Sure, I’d prefer a little cooler, but 55 wasn’t terrible. I could work with 55.

Kurt and I ran a short warm up (probably just under a mile). I had decided to take the Timeless Challenge, and had left my Garmin at home, so I don’t know exactly how far we ran. I was feeling pretty good, though.

We snapped a “before” photo, before I put my phone in the car.

selfie-fixedWe went into JPJ to use the restrooms one last time.

When we came back out, just 5 minutes before the race was supposed to start, I decided that I’d go back to the car and get my camera to take a picture of the starting line.

IMG_20140329_070915_303This was a HUGE mistake. After putting my phone back in the car, I made it to the start, but I had to line up pretty far back. I wasn’t too concerned at the time, though. They had added chip timing this year, so I figured it wouldn’t matter much.

Boy, was I WRONG.

We started SLOWLY and were packed in so tightly that I couldn’t get around people who were barely moving.

I got to the 1/2 mile mark in 5:50. The whole “timeless” thing doesn’t work too well if you hear your splits called out. I hadn’t thought about that.

I panicked. I needed to be running 8 minute miles and I was on pace to run my first one at close to a 12 minute mile.

So, I sped up. My one mile split was 9:55. I panicked some more.

Was it even possible to recover from that?

Do you see how well this whole “timeless” thing was working for me?

I felt okay physically, until about mile 5, but in an attempt to make up for my slow start, I was running too fast. I was not happy. I managed a smile when we ran by a church just before turning onto Preston and there was a Gospel group out front singing and clapping for us. How could you not smile at that?

But I knew I had screwed up and I was pretty furious with myself.

My seven mile split was 1:01:52. I hate to admit it, but I gave up at this point. I knew I still had three miles to go, and I knew I wasn’t going to make my “A” OR “B” goals. Sure, I could keep running as fast as I could, but what was the point? It hurt, and I wasn’t going to be happy with my time anyway.

The irony was not lost on me. This way of thinking was exactly what running “timeless” was supposed to eliminate.

I was mad at myself for making such a stupid mistake and disappointed in myself for giving up. I was still running, and it was still hurting. I could’ve dug deeper and run faster, but really, WHY?

I just couldn’t make myself do it.

So I finished in 87:16. Five minutes slower than last year.

One of the race perks this year was the addition of the Queen City Timer App, which I had installed on my phone last night. So I had visual proof of my dismal performance INSTANTLY. Well, after I walked to the car and got my phone, but I think you get my point.

Had I done well I would have thought the app was cool. But I was too busy being miserable and feeling sorry for myself.

Kurt had finished so long ago that he was getting cold. He needed the car key, which I had, in order to get his coat. He wanted to head back to the finish line to wait for one of his friends.

I just wanted to disappear. But that wasn’t an option, so we went and got his coat and my phone. I told him to just go do whatever he wanted to do. I didn’t want to subject him to my bad attitude and crabbiness.

I was not proud of how I was reacting.

I grabbed a banana and a hunk of Dakota bread from Great Harvest Bread Co (which I was not too crabby to at least appreciate).

For some absurd reason, I felt like I needed an “after” photo.

IMG_20140329_091040_715Some nice lady felt sorry for me trying to take a picture of myself and offered to take one for me. Normally, I would have been embarrassed, but I was beyond caring about anything.

IMG_20140329_091059_657I pretended to be happy for the camera because that’s what you do.


So, this race was another blow to my already damaged running ego.

I think it’s time to take a break from making time goals for myself . I’m sick and tired of not living up to my own expectations.

Bah Humbug.

Shenandoah trail run/hike

Appalachian Trail/Riprap Trail/Wildcat Ridge Trail Loop

Saturday, Rebecca and I headed back up to the mountains to do some trail running on one of our favorite loops in Shenandoah National Park.

We parked at Wildcat Ridge Parking area (Skyline Drive Mile post 92).

IMG_20140322_131600_886We started and finished with 10 push ups in the parking lot.
IMG_20140322_131841_192From the parking lot, it’s about .1 miles to the intersection of the Appalachian Trail. We turned right (north) and ran up the AT, past the Riprap parking area and turned left onto the Riprap trail.

We took a short break at Calvary Rocks.
IMG_20140322_113353_362It was warm and sunny, but there were still a few patches of snow and ice.
IMG_20140322_113902_099We stopped again at Chimney Rock before the long descent.
fixed1The trail meets up with a stream (and crosses it a few times). The crossings are usually just a rock hop, but the water was higher than usual and it took some forethought and maneuvering to get across with our feet dry. Rebecca eventually just gave up trying and sloshed right through.

On the right, just after one of the stream crossings, is one of my favorite swimming holes.
IMG_20140322_121031_197It was too cold to swim, but I washed the salt off my face and Rebecca dipped her feet in.

Not too long after we passed the swimming hole, we turned left onto Wildcat Ridge trail and started climbing. We walked most of the last 2.7 (uphill) miles.
IMG_20140322_122048_106The climb felt harder than it should have (considering we were walking) but it felt so good to be outside in the mountains on such a beautiful day.

It ended up being 77 degrees in Charlottesville. I’m guessing it was 70 where we were in the mountains. The nice weather definitely got me excited about spring and getting outside more. It’s been a long, cold winter!

We took a sweaty selfie before heading back to Charlottesville.


Total Distance:
9.1 miles

ripraploopelevationIf you just want to do an out and back to the swimming hole, it’s shorter to park at Wildcat Ridge parking area and take the Wildcat Ridge trail down and turn right on the Riprap trail.

If you just want the views from Calvary Rocks and Chimney Rock, it’s shorter to park at the Riprap parking area and do an out and back on the Appalachian Trail (head north) and Riprap trail.

Hike to Spy Rock

My friend Rebecca was in town for a few days and she wanted to spend as much time as possible in the mountains.

We decided to hike up to Spy Rock first.  She had walked right past the overlook without stopping to check it out on her 2005 AT thru hike. I had done the same in 2003, but I had been back several times since.

We parked in the parking area just past the fish hatchery.

IMG_20140321_124043_542It had snowed earlier in the week, and there were still patches of snow along the side of Spy Rock Road as we started climbing.

IMG_20140321_105117_993The road became more and more snow-covered as we climbed higher.

IMG_20140321_110007_663After about a mile, Spy Rock Road intersects with the Appalachian Trail.

IMG_20140321_111412_938We turned left and headed north on the AT for about a 1/2 mile to reach Spy Rock.

There is a large, grassy field with several fire pits along the side trail to the rocks. It’s a great (and popular!) camping spot.

The rock scramble up to Spy Rock was a little more complicated in the snow and ice, but we made it.

IMG_20140321_112937_726Rebecca carefully picked up one of the frozen ice discs that had formed in the little pools in the rocks and launched it in the air like a Frisbee. I probably wouldn’t have thought to do this on my own, but once I saw her doing it, I had to try too. It was fun and oddly satisfying to watch them shatter like glass as they hit the rock.

It was cold and windy, but we found a sheltered spot and enjoyed the amazing views and Rebecca shared her Starbucks chocolate chip cookie with me.

IMG_20140321_113355_213It definitely still looked like winter up there.

On the way back to Charlottesville, we took a detour onto Skyline drive for another short hike on the Appalachian Trail to check out the new reroute near Beagle Gap.

Total Spy Rock Hike Distance:
~3 miles

Directions from Charlottesville:
(total driving time is just under an hour)
Take 29 South out of town.
A few miles past the town of Lovingston, turn right onto Tye Brook Hwy (Va-56)
Stay on Va-56 (for approximately 17-18 miles).
There are a few turns. Follow signs to Crabtree Falls & Fish Hatchery.
You will pass Crabtree Falls and the road will get windy and steep.
Turn left onto Fish Hatchery Lane
Turn left into the parking lot pictured above.