Warning: the following words and images will allow you to vicariously see the world with the eyes of Sultan. Read at your own risk. The name Sultan has many meanings, but derives from the peak Sultan Mountain in Silverton, CO!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Asphalt 13.1 - Trail 18 - Ride 17

This weekend included a half marathon asphalt run, a 18 mile trail run, and a 17 mile bike ride!

I ran my personal best half marathon this past Saturday in 1:37:03. I came in 98th place out of 998 runners, running a 7:25 pace for just over 13 miles. Greg, and I tried to keep up with John for the first 3 miles at a 7 minute pace, but realized quickly that wasn’t going to happen for the entire distance and pulled back. I was jamming to my tunes running on a beautiful bright sunny day that was cool to the point my breath was visible. After six miles or so, I dropped off my gloves with Leah who was riding her mountain bike. Although I ran my best time, I felt as if my pace kept slowing, and I was running a poor race, being passed by more than I thought was acceptable. I haven’t run an official half marathon in a while, and don’t plan to run another one anytime soon, so I pushed as hard as I could to the finish. After the run, we all headed up to Einstein Bagel and grabbed a late breakfast.

After the half, we headed over to Virginia. My family and I planned to ride bikes down the VA Creeper trail. I knew this would be mostly downhill, and would challenge me little. So I planned a 18 mile trail run the morning before our ride so that I could level the playing field between my brothers and I.

I arrived at the Caboose in Damascus, VA and put on what cloths I needed and headed out on the trail at 6:40am. The sun was still hiding, but I could make my way down the well groomed crushed gravel trial. I headed South on the AT, and began to climb steeply. After going up a few switchbacks, I could see the sun rise above Damascus. I headed down the AT and crossed into Tennessee. I kept trucking along until I hung a left on the Backbone Trail. This trail descended steeply all the way to Backbone Rock, a sweet rock formation and appears to be a bridge from Hwy 133 South of Damascus. I climbed over the bridge, and then found my way to the road and headed north for a few hundred yards, and turned right on a gated forest service road.

It was here I was happy I had received local trail running feedback. The locals have painted their own orange blaze on this service road which leads up to the Iron Mountain trail. This trail headed uphill and meandered a few times, and never seemed to end. I heard a constant loud roar. At first I thought it might be a helicopter, but then it just got much louder. A sound I had never heard before, then I thought it might be an ATV, so I quickly moved to the right of the trail not wanting to get run over. Seven dirt bikers roared past me on the trail and flew by. This along with the beauty of the day distracted me. The trail finally hit a T, and I knew to turn left on the Iron Mountain Trail. I was on a jeep road, and saw no blazes however. Had I missed a turn? I knew I had to turn left and head North back into Damascus, so I kept going. I finally decided to come to my senses and stop, and consulted the map. I could not tell if I was truly on the Iron Mountain Trail or not. In the distance, I saw a bright orange object hanging from a tree, and I approached. It was a hunter just hanging out on a tree, literally. I asked him what way the Iron Mountain Trail was. My told me to stay on the ridge, and I would find it. Not wanting to get shot at, I quickly moved away and headed towards the ridge. I finally found a trail, and saw a blaze. Unfortunately it was the wrong color, it was blue and not yellow. I knew I had to head north, so I just kept going. I looked around for the tallest ridge, and I truly felt as if I was on it. Finally I reached a sign that said to Damascus as I passed the Ahistadi campsite. The blue blaze eventually turned into the Yellow blaze and I was happy to see the color change! I descended off of Big Butt Mountain and headed back into Virginia and finally made it to a road which I turned left on. I knew this would be the way to town. I have never seen as many vicious dogs chained to school buses and trailers in my life. I was happy to see they were restrained! I kept moving and finally made it back to my car. I made the loop in 3:50. It was a great way to spend the morning.

We then all hoped into a shuttle and drove to Whitetop Mountain, which is where we started the VA Creeper trail. The ride downhill was about as exciting as this sentence!


Audra said...

Congratulations on your half marathon pr! I was surprised to see you out there because it wasn't a trail race, but you looked strong. Awesome job!

the Sultan said...

Audra, thanks! I like to mix it up a bit and throw in some non-trail running. Good to see you out there cheering people on, keep it up.