Monday, May 7, 2012

Lynchburg Mountain

We went to Lynchburg on Thursday night for Chip and Katie's wedding. It was a wonderful weekend. When we arrived we went out for some drinks with the Bride and Groom and the Bride's brother and his fiancee. Friday morning I played golf with Charlie, Chip and some of Chip's friends. We spent a few hours swimming with Jack and Grace at the hotel. KC's parents threw a great rehearsal dinner at the Craddock Terry Hotel in historic downtown Lynchburg. On the wedding day I didn't do much besides show up at the wedding, which was nice and then the reception was at the West Manor in Forest, VA. Sunday morning we slept in, spent some more time at the pool, and then took our time getting home.

Friday morning I was scheduled to get in 18 miles. I contacted Kalib Wilkinson about running, but he was unavailable. He did tell me that there were some trails outside the door of the hotel. So I went looking for them at the bottom of Liberty Mountain. The first thing I saw said "Trails closed due to construction." That didn't stop me, but it did slow me down a little bit. I ran on a service road for a while before I found a trail. I went out and back on two different parts, getting turned around at dead-ends caused by the construction.

Eventually I found my way to a trail that lasted for more than 2 minutes. It was called the Z trail and it was so steep that at some points I felt as though I were simply standing up, rather than trying to run up. Not even talking, just standing. Crazy to think of people riding their bikes up things like that. I found a couple more paths and took a few more turns before I eventually wound up at the top of a mountain overlooking the city. Immediately below me I saw the Liberty Snowflex! Chip had mentioned this artificial ski complex to me and it sounded pretty cool. I thought about sliding down it, but I was only at about 3 miles of running after 30 minutes of running. I had a lot more to go.

Back to the trails I went! I retraced my steps for the most part back down to the start of the trails and then headed back up. There were some pretty sweet switch-backs that had paths through which people had clearly been cutting, but I took the long road. Then I got up to another gravel path and decided to see how high I could take it. I ended up at the top of the LU sign with a gazebo which is supposedly where Jerry Falwell spent his last day alive. The view was amazing, although honestly, the whole thing didn't seem quite as big when I was up there as it did looking up from the road. That begin said, when we drove for about a half-hour to the golf course later that morning and I could still see both the LU and Snowflex, it was cool knowing I'd been up there. I took another break at the top and then went on my way. Aside from all the steep hills, I was having an enjoyable day.

I decided that maybe I should head down and try to get some distance in around the base. I took a road called Valley View Road, thinking that it would take me down to the bottom. I picked up the pace heading down, really enjoying myself. I never hesitated to think about having to come back up. I passed a dozen more trail signs and thought about taking them, but I was conscious of the time and didn't want to get lost any more, just get in some mileage. Valley View Road took me down to a rusty old shed before the gravel disappeared and I found myself in the woods. I saw a clearing and some rusty lawn furniture and headed for them before realizing I was in someone's yard. At the end of their driveway was an really narrow road that didn't exactly exude a lot of confidence. Turns out it was Rt. 677, Camp Hydaway Road, and I could have taken it either left or right and possibly ended up back where I needed to be. But I had no way of knowing that, so I turned around and went back into this random person's yard. Just then a giant dog, or should I say a small horse, noticed me on his turf. I started whispering hopes and prayers to myself that this monster wouldn't consider me a threat, as I only had about a 25 meter lead on him and he would surely eat that up distance in a matter of seconds as he thrashed through the woods to tear my flesh from my bones!

Fortunately, he didn't and there was no pursuit. I trudged back up hill through the overgrown grass and rusty farm equipment that separated me and the mountain that I had to overcome for a third time that morning. I took the GU that I'd been carrying with me, slowly, as I had no water to wash it down with. Upon cresting the mountain again I began my final descent. Foolishly I took a wrong turn and missed my trail, but realized it before I went too far down the wrong way. It took almost no time to return to the empty construction field across from my hotel. I wasn't ready to finish yet, so I continued along the road of my hotel and shortly found myself on Liberty's campus. By shortly, I mean 10 feet past my hotel. I had no idea it was right there!

I ran around their beautiful football stadium and found the track behind it. I took a lap and a half, contemplated clearly the steeple pit until I saw no water, and turned for home. My 18 mile long run turned out to be just over 13 and a half in 1:46. But I put in the work and had a good morning. I followed it up with a very successful (by my low standards) 9 holes of golf.

Here is a map of the trails that I ran on. Here is the information from my watch on the run.

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