Thursday, July 5, 2012

Celebrating the Country's B-Day in the Mountains!

You know what's worse than trying to hammer yourself back into running shape? Trying to do that when it's 100+ degrees out every day. Really, baby Sam, way to make your daddy suffer by being born at the wrong time of year!  The good news is, I'm certainly getting plenty of heat training in during my afternoon runs home from work. Not that I'm going out to Badwater again this year, but on the freak chance that the President called me up and said I needed to run out there as a matter of national security, I think I'd be in pretty good shape to answer that call.

Actually, it hasn't been all suffer n' shuffle in the heat these past couple weeks. Just yesterday I was able to join about 50 fellow VHTRC-ers for the annual "Browntown Loop" - a 20-something mile loop in the northern VA mountains. The club has been holding this run for the past 12 years, always on the 4th of July, regardless of the day of the week. This year's Wednesday date made for a nice mid-week break from work, and the early start gave us a bit of a break from the real heat that rolled in by the end. Even though I'm far far faaaarrrr away from being in mountain running shape, I still had a great time with the folks at the front dragging me up and over a couple mountains.
The 12th annual Browntown Loop crew. Photo: Sophie Speidel
The real treat of this run is the stop off (about half-way) at the Browntown General Store, which opens up just for us every year! Nothing like some ice-cold Gatorade and Little Debbie cookies to refuel before the final climb back up to Skyline Drive!
The best thing about this map? It shows just how far we're willing to go off-map to hit the General Store (which is the dot waaayyy up there on the top)! Graphic: Keith Knipling

All in all, a great way to spend the 4th!  I can also see some signs that I'm finally getting back into shape. I still have a few seconds (17, to be exact) to take off my 5k time before moving up to my 10k challenge, so hopefully I can wheeze out a 16:29 this weekend and leave the lung-busting torture chamber that is the 5k behind me for good! It was a nice break to exchange the whip of the watch in a 5k for the carrot of some ridgeline views in the mountains yesterday, that's for sure!

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