Sunday, October 10, 2010

Less Than Half

Yesterday, knowing Karen was accompanying her friend, Susan, to pick up a ram, I figured I might as well get out and enjoy the cloudless blue sky, changing leaves and legs itching to be battered to a pulp. I hunted up Karen's 2-bottle belt, emptied the donkey treats, and refllled it with things I might need -- toilet paper, home-made peanut butter crackers, my cell phone and water. I kissed her goodbye, promised to check in now and then, and aimed south.

A mile down the road I looked up where the Blue Ridge Parkway cuts across Thunder Ridge. Depending on how I felt a few miles later, that's where I was headed. It seemed too far, shaded by the mist of morning as if it were still trying to wash out the sandman's gifts. I often wonder, as I gaze at these mountains, how many people within my sight are hiking the Appalachian Trail, which trolls the mountaintops.

First, though, I visited Arrowhead Lodge, less than a third of the way up, where I added some banana-flavored Gu to the supplies in my bottle belt. To prepare for the Hellgate 100, I need to get used to eating on the run, which I discovered by accident is not hard for me. One day in my life as a corporate rat, I was about to head out for a run when I received word that I was desired in the corner office, but not for another half hour or so. I grabbed lunch and waited. "Cancelled," said my secretary, "something else came up." So I ran.

Up, up, up, the same route I described in my September 19 post, "22-Miler," so I won't repeat it, except to say I encountered a few people this time. The first group was doing the logging I moaned about last spring when I found their equipment stashed along the trail. The second was a couple, wearing camouflage and carrying matching bows. Good, I thought. It's still bow season. I had worn an orange vest because I knew hunting season had begun. I trust bowmen more than riflemen. (By the way, Karen is a Bowman.)

This time I approached the golf ball-looking weather observatory with even more gratitude than last because I'd added the 4 miles from our house to Arrowhead Lodge. Fourteen miles up yielded to 14 miles down. I would have covered it faster had I not run into Rodney filling his bottles at the artesian well on Petite's Gap Road. "You're running long today," he began. "Yeah, 28," I said, pretty proud of myself, "did you pass me somewhere?" "Up on Apple Orchard Mountain," said he, standing up his bicycle, which led to introductions and his history as a runner who had run 4 Mountain Masochists in the 1990s before his back said, "no more." From Lynchburg, he had worked for the natural gas company before taking early retirement and had learned this area pretty well because of his work with local businesses. Now he paints, landscapes. "Lawn," he said, "spelled like laugh on."  See

After that break, the last 6 miles got me thinking, "If I feel this bad, what makes me think I can run more than twice this far?"

"Because you can," says Virginia.

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