For this week’s edition of the CAT Sunday run, Joey and I met at Rockfish Gap at 8a.m. We were looking at blue bird skies, and hopefully a morning of great running…or, at least great running weather. Joey was coming off 18 miles on Saturday on the Rip Rap trail, while I had done a more modest 12 at Walnut Creek. Either way, we were thinking we would be feeling a bit heavy legged, especially on the immediate climb from Rockfish Gap to McCormick Gap.
Given our tired legs, we both agreed that today would be a nice relaxed pace. With that in mind, Joey started us off towards McCormick Gap. While I enjoy running this section of trail, I never really care for running it right off the bat. I would certainly prefer having a nice warm-up before the double whammy of climbing and technical trail, but be it as it may, this route doesn’t give one that luxury. Aside from a catching our feet here and there, this section was nice and smooth. It was great to be moving along the trails as Waynesboro, to the west, started waking up.
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I always take great pleasure in runs such as this one where you start in a high traffic area (literally starting from Hwy 64 with Waynesboro within ear shot) and hearing the sounds of cars slowly give way to birds chirping, trickling water and wind blowing through the trees. I feel this transition period of entering a more tranquil environment helps me slip into a more relaxed mindset and excites me for the day’s run.
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By the time we arrived at McCormick Gap, we were warmed up and decided to keep moving towards Beagle Gap. It practically seemed like the next thing I knew, we were at Turk Branch Gap. Once at Turk, we refueled and took a look at our watches- 2:06. Joey sarcastically remarked, “Negative Split?” which was laughable because we both were really starting to feel the effects of the weeks’ mileage. The more immediate goal was to make it back to the cars before the wheels came completely off! And with that, we started the slog back to Rockfish Gap.
The return trip was difficult, but again, it just sort of went by, and like that we were again back on the section between McCormick and Rockfish Gap. We were both ready for the run to be over and were met with great relief when the intersection with Skyline Drive appeared. We plodded down the parkway and back to the cars. I stopped my watch and was quite surprised to see 4:07. We apparently got our negative split, which we laughed about. I certainly didn’t feel like I was running too strong, so I’m going to chalk this effort up to some lingering effects from the super moon the night before.
It was a great day to be running up in the mountains!