Sunday, December 4, 2011

Travels, Thanks and Trots

I had the opportunity to road trip back to Virginia for Thanksgiving, which I'd certainly do again.  Along the way I not only got to experience new runs, but I also got to revisit others.

We took an early detour to see the sights in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  The run took place on the Santa Fe Rails to Trails system.  We avoided the paved sections and stuck to the dirt.  It was quite windy and chilly, but the troop toughed it out.  A couple other elite runners were spotted on the trail, so we must have been in the right spot.

Next stop was Lake Hefner just outside Oklahoma City, where I did a 6 mile Steady State.  It was another windy day, but Bee and I got it done.

The flat, 9.8 mile paved loop around the lake was
ideal for a steady state effort.
Photo courtesy

Treadmill anyone?
Only a runner would appreciate this scene.

Next was the Buckeye Trail in Ohio, totaling 1,444 miles around Ohio. We ran on a western portion of the trail.  Unfortunately, a good part of the trail was flooded, which meant lots of repeat running.

Photo courtesy

My first revisit of the trip was to the Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) Canal towpath in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.  When I'm home, I will occasionally make the hour-plus trek to the C&O for flat, soft long runs.

C&O Canal.
Photo courtesy

Next stop: JFK 50 Miler.  JFK also takes place on the C&O, which spans 184.5 miles in length, as well as on a portion of the Appalachian Trail.

Flagstaff's Ian Torrence completed his 17th JFK 50 Miler, and Brian Tinder returned for his second year.

Brian Tinder, in white, fresh off the Appalachian
and beginning the long C&O portion.

I had the pleasure of seeing these guys come through the aid stations and also of acompanying Ian for the last 6 miles or so, undoubtedly the hardest part of the race, as they've already been at it for several hours and the body is exhausted.

Then it was on to Virginia for Thanksgiving with my family and my own race.

The 2011 Alexandria Turkey Trot, a 5 mile race in Northern Virginia, proved to be a good time.  I came away with a win and a new course record of 27:13.  A big thank you to Brian Danza and the DC Road Runners.

On the start line with my UVa teammate.
Photo courtesy Sandra Morris.

Receiving awards at the Alexandria Turkey Trot.

I revisited the Massanutten Trail in Fort Valley, a mere few miles from my house before hitting the road back west.  The ruggedness of the trails makes the trails in Flagstaff seem pristine.  Over the span of 10.5 miles, we gained 2,600 ft in elevation.

A view of Fort Valley from the top.
Courtesy of

The final new run was the La Luz Trail in the Sandia Mountains in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  It's over 7 miles to the top, but due to ice I only made it a little over 5 miles.  The run starts at just over 7,000 ft and climbs to over 10,000 ft.

La Luz Trail.
Courtesy of

And for the bucket list: The Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail.

Official 2012 Olympic Trials Marathon has commenced.  It kicked off with a 19-20 mile long run a couple days after Thanksgiving.  On Saturday, we did our first long tempo of the training cycle, an ice breaker 20k.  We had to travel down to Camp Verde to a 3-mile loop in order to escape the snow of Flagstaff.