Monday, August 20, 2012

Grindstone 100 Training & Trail Work Weekend

For all the meticulous planning that goes into an event like this, you would think I might carefully read the directions posted very clearly, very explicitly, on the race site.  Mandatory 8 hours trail work.  Do it before September 1 or your entry is forfeit.  This rather crucial detail escaped my notice until sometime during the past week, so early last Friday morning, I set off from Maryland to Camp Shenandoah for a day of trail work and a 29-mile training run the following Saturday.  Both were more than worth the pre-dawn, three-and-a-half hour trip.


The weather cooperated and work was a blast, despite or maybe because of the challenging tangle of branches and downed trees that had been dumped on the trail, courtesy of this past summer's "derecho" winds.  Our team performed brilliantly.  We worked under the watchful eye of our fearless leader, Daren Marceau of North Carolina--and I say fearless more than metaphorically.  As the rest of us backed away, climbed on tree trunks, etc., Daren made sure an "unhappy" copperhead was corralled off the trail until the team could finish clearing away the fallen tree and branches that had provided its home.  

















Nothing could be more different than than my usual Friday workday round of meetings, email, and beltway commuting.  I fell asleep early, fast, and deeply (all unusual for me) and awoke refreshed and ready for Saturday's training run.  It was a chilly start, especially for most of the runners, who hitched a ride in the back of one of the trucks (tow of us were lucky enough to snag VIP service in the back of Daren's SUV).  We had a beautiful day for running.  Dry, mostly sunny, not too warm, even by end of the day.  As I hadn't done my homework on the course, I stuck closely during the first half to Stephen Cooper, who had.  After the one and only aid station of the day, I felt confident enough to finish up on my own, following the sparse but adequate trail markings home.



















I only wish I had the time to stay for Sunday's run as well.  For anyone planning to run the Grindstone 100, I can't recommend the importance of this training and trailwork weekend enough.  The experience of the trail--in particular, this most challenging portion that we covered on Saturday--is invaluable mental and physical preparation.