Race report: 26.2 with Donna

I signed up for 26.2 with Donna because of my mother. She had run the full marathon once and the half once, and was coming back for a third year. I didn't qualify for Boston, my usual spring marathon, so I decided to go down to Jacksonville Beach, Florida in February for an early spring marathon.

My mother first signed up for this race because it has Galloway (run/walk) pace groups. She trains with (and recently became a group leader for) a Galloway training group in Atlanta. During this year's race, she got to run with Jeff Galloway for a while, and talked to him at the post-race party. (She also won her age group!)

With about 6,000 runners in the full and half marathon, this isn't a big city marathon like New York or Boston, but it has a lot of amenities. When I landed in Jacksonville, I was greeted by friendly volunteers at a 26.2 with Donna table in the airport. The expo, held in a train station turned convention center, was big, with a nice variety of vendors. In addition to the usual running-related vendors, there were many booths related to the event's focus, breast cancer.

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The Badwater Ultramarathon In January

Jeff and Jim Smucker and Marv Hall completed the 134 mile Badwater Ultra-Marathon course in a leisurely 4 days. Rather than stick his research in a file, Marv is making it available to others that are looking for something different to do for a break from the normal winter runs. Marv thinks there are others that might like to do the Badwater course in January rather than July.

Jeff Smucker keeps a blog of his ultra adventures. Here's the blog. Jeff's January 2013 writings were all about the trip and go into the adventure in interesting detail with lots of pictures. They're in reverse chronological order, so start from the bottom.

(The graphics from Marv's reasearch are too big for the formatted page. Shrinking them wouldn't do them justice, so click to continue...)

 

Read more: The Badwater Ultramarathon In January

A Women's Running Blog With Added Spice

As one of the webmasters of the NVRC site, my name is plastered all over it. And because of this, I get emails several times a year from out-of-towners looking to join one of our Weekend Group Runs. Recently, we hosted a couple of ladies on a 10 mile run through Spring Creek Canyon. The two sisters, 'Salty' and 'Cinnamon' are among the authors of a group blog, Salty Running. By my count, there are ten authors, each with a "spicy" handle. (In keeping with their blog style, they'll remain anonymous here, too). They're all women, and the writing tends to center on women's running, but I'm sure there's something of interest to everyone. Recent topics include some of the usual runner talk: training, olympic predictions, marathons, ultras; but also some spicier topics: running and pregnancy, a runner's guide to bouncing boobs, pre-race sex, and recently, 5 Types of Running Guys. In that last post, Salty talks about the kinds of guys women have to put up with, especially since the ladies are usually outnumbered on group runs. The thing is that Salty ends the article with a really nice shout-out to the NVRC and her experience on our group run. It seems we "flunked" all the tests! Give the blog a visit.

NVRC Supports United Way Day Of Caring

The bike path along the south side of the Penn State golf courses is a favorite route for bicycling commuters and for runners getting their lunchtime exercise. You're off the roads, on a soft surface, and you've got great scenery. But the shrubs and vines along the path do tend to get overgrown and occasionally need to be pruned back. This helps visibility for bikers so they can see and avoid slower runners and walkers, as well as the occasional groundhog and bunny. Cheree Jones and Sheryl Balkey recently organized a crew from SF & Company to get this job done as part of the United Way Day of Caring. The NVRC pitched in by sending a cash gift used to pay for refreshment for the crew. Here are a couple of pictures.

 

 

The Cherry Run Trail

I went on a hike with my family on the day after Christmas 2011 on the Cherry Run trail in State Game Lands 295 near Lamar, PA. The hike is 9.5 miles and is described in Tom Thwaites' book 50 Hikes in Central Pennsylvania. The hike is only mildly challenging for anyone who can walk 10 miles. But the setting is gorgeous. (Actually, a good part of it is in a gorge!) I would also recommend it as a trail run, somewhat more challenging than runs in our local State Game Lands, but nowhere near as tough as running the trails of Rothrock.

There are three challenges for runners and hikers. First, the route includes about half a mile on a winding country road with very little shoulder. Runners can get by this in about 4 minutes. Second, after leaving the road, there is a 900 ft climb in about 3.5 miles. But our Rothrock veterans should have no problem with this climb. Leg 1 of the mOUnTaiNBACK course has the same elevation gain, most of it coming in the 2.5 miles after turning on to Laurel Run, so the Cherry Run climb is not quite as steep as that. The last 5.5 miles of the run is downhill or nearly flat. The last challenge comes from the trail itself. I'd say about 80% of the trail is a nice running surface. The remainder is somewhat rocky, but nothing like the rockiness of the Mid-State Trail. In addition, the first two miles require crossing a small brook called Bear Run several times, and the last 4 miles requires hopping and splashing across small springs that feed Cherry Run. I suspect the water in both of these places was high on the day of our hike because of the wet year we've had, and that most of the springs would be nearly dry in the summer. But all in all, the challenges were not too hard, something that was easily accomplished by a couple in their 50s. We did the hike in just under 5 hours. At a time of year with longer days, I'd recommend taking it slower to soak up the scenery.

The beautiful setting easily repays the small challenges of the walk. Stands of hemlock, white pine, and white oaks, and thickets of rhododendron and mountain laurel border the trail everywhere except at the top of the hill, where mountain meadows afford a view of the surroundings. And the streams themselves are very picturesque: Bear Run, a small brook, on the outbound part of the walk, and Cherry Run, a deeper, noisier stream, on the return.

Directions: To get to the hike, take Rte 64 toward Lamar, PA. Just southwest (or south by the Rte 64 direction) of Lamar is Washignto Rd, which soon becomes Narrows Rd and heads to the southeast through a gap in the mountains. (You'd turn right if coming from Pine Grove Mills, or left if you took I-80 to get to Rt 64 in Lamar). Take this road 3.8 miles as it winds along Fishing Creek. Just before a bridge over Cherry Run is a turnout and parking lot on the left for the Game Lands. The turnout is directly across the road from Roachdale Rd. The hike as described has you do the required road walking first, so you'd park here and walk down Narrows Rd another half mile before starting the trail. Here is a Google map of the location of the start.

Here is a map and elevation profile of the hike. Here is a description of the hike from a hiking blog with some photos of Bear Run, giving you and idea of the types of stream crossings you'd be doing early on.

And below is a slideshow of some photos from my hike. One in particular shows my wife Vicky negotiating the most difficult crossing of Bear Run. If we can do it, anyone in this Club can.