PM- Today was one of those run. You know- the kind that are very memorable, but not particularly fun. Occasionally enjoyable, but kind of miserable at the same time. Running in bad weather on wet trails is more enjoyable when you have someone to commiserate with.
I had to run in the afternoon, so drove to Jones Gap State Park, my first run there. It is right at the base of the Blue Ridge Escarpment, and the first decent mountains in SC. The temp was 50 deg and it was raining. Not drizzling- a steady, hard rain the whole time. I had planned on a 20-22 mile run, and wanted to run downhill hard enough to make my legs sore. I set off and discovered that the trail had transformed. Instead of running on a trail, I spent the whole time running either in a stream, a pond, or a lake, or so it seemed thanks to all the water. And that doesn't count the numerous official stream and river crossings, sometimes 10 per mile, and up to 25 feet wide and shin deep. Yup, very wet. The trail was very technical (mainly rocky) in places, but actually runnable for the most part- it was better than I expected. I discovered that I could go faster up than down, due to concerns about footing on the moss-covered rocks and roots as I descended. I was warm for a few minutes, but then started putting all my clothes on (2 shirts, fleece gloves, and ear warmers), and it still wasn't enough- definitely cold most of the run. I was very grateful to have my visor, though, to keep rain and the abundant foilage out of my eyes.
For some reason, I felt like I was moving moderately fast, but wasn't. I think it was mainly due to the climbing, technicality, and especially the water. I only ran 14.5 in 2:49 before the trails closed and I had to leave. My average pace was a whopping 11:38, and only 2 miles were faster than 10 min pace. Yup, one of those days. The rangers even talked to me at both trailheads I passed, and made sure I got out ok given the solo run in treacherous conditions. 4500 ft climbing, equal descending in 14.5 miles, which is actually quite a bit. Some steep stuff, even climbing up built-in stairs. I guess some of the other trails climb 1600 ft in 1 mile- I wasn't crazy enough to try any of those today.
Good points- I had the whole place to myself, and it was gorgeous mountains. Tons of waterfalls- the area is known for them. Probably the most waterfalls I have seen since Milford Track in New Zealand (my most favorite place on earth, by the way). And I got in a nice run on trails. I'm sure I'll be back often... just not during a rainstorm.
One question- does running in the rain make anyone else have to stop and pee every 20 minutes?
Lots of climbing- a few very steep ones.
I'll make sure to hit the 80 miles next week that I wanted this week.