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Running in the Massanuttens

It's been quite awhile since I've run in the Massanuttens, but I wanted to return to my favorite run there.

I've made it no secret that despite my love of technical trails, I'm not enamored of the Massanutten Trail. "Rocky" is the best descriptor of this trail but that doesn't begin to cover what you'll experience.

It starts off innocently enough. Some old leaf-covered fire road followed by some smooth, slightly inclined trail. Big Run, I guess you're not so bad.


Once you're committed, it starts to show its true character. Yes, that is the trail -- I made sure to get the orange blaze in the picture because I knew you'd be dubious.


It's not this rocky all the time. There's an excellent long downhill not long after you turn left onto the Scothorn Trail.

I was too busy flying down that stretch to snap any pictures.

After a brief dirt road section, the climb up Jawbone begins. And it never, ever ends. Or so it seems.


When I finally reach the top of Jawbone I take a left onto Kerns Mountain. Despite my griping about rocks, I have a strange affection for Kerns, which is probably the rockiest section of all.


In the winter, there's always an impressive display of icicles on the west side of Kerns.


Pause a moment to take in Q's View. Scenic overlooks are rare along the Massanutten Trail.


Hubz was really excited to show me this bear claw mark. There were some faint coyote tracks once we popped out on the road, too.


It was a good day to be out there on trail. Massanuttens, you're starting to grow on me.

January on The Wild Oak Trail

My coach approved some miles at The Wild Oak Trail, though not the whole loop. That was fine by me. Our plan: Hubz would drive to Camp Todd and run to meet us, then I could bail there for 10 miles and he could finish the loop. Perfect.

Saturday morning we rose at 4 a.m. and drove 2+ hours to the trailhead where we met Katie, Bob, new friend Carrie. After a lightning fast selfie we were off!

It's been unusually cold over the past week, but I'm happy to report that I've gotten all of my runs in. Dressing in layers has kept me relatively comfortable and made the snowy trails enjoyable. However, I seriously erred in not wearing my big bulky mittens. Oh, how my hands suffered in my silly thin gloves. My handwarmers just couldn't make enough heat.

It was 7 degrees when we started at the bottom of the mountain.

The rest of me stayed warm enough, but just barely. Anytime we paused to take in a view at an overlook or adjust something, I cooled down alarmingly quickly.

The lower parts of the trail were snow-free, and there was about a half-inch to an inch at the higher elevations. Just enough to cushion the rocks a little.

Sunrise view at the first overlook.

The climbing here is serious. I focused on using good form and making sure my glute was doing the work. It was honestly hard to tell because my derriere was totally numb. But it's sore today so I'll take that as a good sign.

strava elevation piece of TWOT
Plenty of climbing and some sweet, sweet descents.
I couldn't help myself. I bombed that final downhill like a madwoman. It was so fantastically exhilarating!

Mountains in the distance.
My iPhone froze after the photo above. No, the battery didn't die. It actually froze and refused to turn  on again until I sat on it in the warm car for twenty minutes.

I felt really good when I reached Camp Todd and considered doing a little more, but decided to be prudent and call it a day. It only took 30 minutes of blasting the heat and some hot soup to warm up.

Though I'm not really a fan of cold weather, I find that getting out in spite of it makes me happy. I feel accomplished and tough and so glad that I didn't let the frigid temps stop me from enjoying the outdoors.

There's something special about The Wild Oak Trail. I'll be back for more cold miles in February.

Shaking it Up in the New Year

So long, 2014. You were pretty good to me.

Most memorable: I ran my second 100 miler in July. I'm really proud of that accomplishment, because I really had to work to come back after my foot injury. And while I wouldn't recommend it, it's nice to know I could eke out 100 miles on so little training when I  wanted it badly enough.

I'm truly honored and excited that I have been chosen to be a Moderator on The Whole 30 Forum. If you do a Whole30 anytime in the future (and I highly recommend it), make sure you stop in for encouragement, support and answers to your questions. It's a friendly place and always lively.

While I don't usually make formal New Year resolutions, I love this piece on Melissa Joulwan's alternative to setting goals or making a resolution.

This year, I'm going to run some new and different races. West Coast, here I come!

I'm also getting a coach to help me reach my racing potential. I want to see what I'm capable of in ultrarunning with serious, dedicated training. I'm better when I have structure. And I'm ready to try something new. I'm already feeling more motivated.

Have you made any big changes or resolutions? What are you excited about for 2015?

Happy New Year!