Friday, December 10, 2010

Day of Hellgate

Weather predictions anticipate a pretty day tomorrow, real feel at midnight of 25 degrees, gradually rising to 46, with a high chance of rain late in the day after Hellgate is over.  According to David Horton, the race director, the southern section of the Blue Ridge Parkway is likely to remain closed because of 2 inches of packed snow at the high elevations (aid stations 2, 3 and 4).  Maybe the conditions will be almost perfect, except for the risks presented by snow and ice.   Perhaps the melt queen will slip in and clear all that away, please do, dear.

Karen provided an awesome dinner last night, with salad and calzones, preceded by 3 cheeses courtesy of our goats and her hand-made rosemary crackers, all shared by a few friends who kindly asked a few questions about running 66 miles.  As it turned out, at least two of our guests hold record "firsts."  When I asked if they were in the Guinness Book of World Records, they suggested that firsts don't get into that book -- what get in are the successes in beating the firsts.  Bob and a colleague were the first to spend 24 hours underwater below 7 feet of Arctic ice.  Bob and Gerri and a friend were the first to spend 7 days at full nitrogen saturation 50 feet underwater.  Dennis took multi-month bicycle rides by himself, traveling up to 120 miles per day. No one accused anyone of being crazy. 

All boded well for a rich sleep, which ended at 9 this morning and may complicate my hopes for a couple good naps before midnight.  I hunted down an old blue Citicorp gym bag and filled it with things this runner might want after the sun rises -- shoes, clothes and a pair of new contacts.  Called a "drop bag," the Hellgate volunteers will make it available at aid stations 4 (Mile 22: Headforemost Mountain) and 7 (Mile 43: Bearwallow Gap).  I'll rely on the 9 aid stations for food and water refills.  According to the race director, the first aid station open to "crews" (i.e., friends of runners who want to offer support) will be aid station 5 (Mile 28: Jennings Creek) -- unless the Forest Service reopens that portion of the Parkway.  A forest ranger said the Parkway may be opened south of Bearwallow Gap (Mile 43: aid station 7).  So, crews might as well sleep in and forget about driving around in the dark.

Karen called me out to the greenhouse, thinking I might like a diversion from whatever I'm thinking about.  "Hmmm, what could that be?" asks Virginia.  She's adding fuel to my hoped-for greenhouse heater, the compost/manure bin, which so far I don't think has raised the temperature very much.  I should get a thermometer with a probe and figure out what's happening under that pile of crap.

See, her ploy worked.  Now I get to label this blog posting "Gardening" and "Greenhouse" as well as "Running" and "Hellgate."


  1. James and Karen, I just got home from work and raced to find your blog so I could learn how you got along, and reassure myself that you're back home and sleeping! Was it everything you wanted, James? Weather was good and I trust you got home before the precip & touch of ice. So relieved this is behind you now, with what I hope is great satisfaction and understated pride. :) I do believe you two can do anything you set your minds to! And just think, you're the only one who ran Hellgate AND will see your baby, the Monster 4 piano holiday sing-along, come to joyous fruition in 4 days. That combo can rate a Guinness for sure! So proud of you both, Linda & Dave

  2. And I meant to mention Jennings Creek! Nice to know that was an aid station - back in the mid 70s Botetourt County was in the Rockbridge Regional Library, and the bookmobile had a stop there. Wonderful place!