Saturday, December 17, 2011


So, one of the main reason for this blog is to keep track of my training progress towards my next race, the 2012 Blue Ridge Parkway Marathon. Tomorrow "officially" starts my training program, so I should probably throw a bit of race info out there.

What is the Blue Ridge Marathon?
Probably THE COOLEST race I've ever done that can be summed up in one word: EPIC. 2012 will be the third running of this race which climbs through the mountains of Roanoke, VA. According to their website (, the marathon includes "3,620ft of total elevation gain and 7,234ft of total elevation change." Basically, it's a beast.

I ran this marathon this past April, and it was an amazing experience, to say the least. For starters, the entire race occurred in the rain...and not just any rain...pouring down, relentless rain ALL morning. Despite rain jackets and "waterproof" gear, every single runner was soaked to the bone by mile 1. I wrote a detailed race recap the day after the race in April. It's posted to Facebook and copied HERE on the blog.

Despite the disappointment of not finishing this year (race was finally shut down due to weather when I was at mile 25), it had been an incredible experience with absolutely incredible people. The other runners were amazing, and the companionship and support we provided each other as we trudged on through the downpour was definitely something special. (Oh, and that picture posted above? It was taken around mile 17 during the brutal climb (read: walk) up Peakwood. Me and the new-found running buddy beside me (not in picture) were laughing and "pretending" to run because we saw someone up ahead with a camera. "We better make it look like we're actually running!")

Why am I running again in 2012?
I know I can...and I know I can under awful conditions...and I want to say I DID IT. (Oh, and because immediately after the 2011 race the organizers gave this year's runners a discount for 2012. Guess they picked a good time to offer it...the fire was still hot under our butts and we hadn't yet realized how CRAZY we'd be to try this game again! And the discount code they gave us for signing up online? "I LOVE RAIN". Someone has a sick, sick sense of humor!!!)

Now, the million dollar question: How/where am I going to train??
For 2011, I had the luxury of living in Charlottesville, VA. C-ville definitely isn't rugged terrain, but we have our fair share of hills. My favorite training spot was a dirt road climb I discovered out in Crozet, about 20mins from town, Jarmans Gap Rd. This treasure of a training ground gains 1500ft of elevation over about 1.5mi, carrying you into Shenandoah National Park (one of my favorite places on earth!!). The first time I ran Jarmans, I was defeated less than 1mi into the climb. This road became my go-to for long runs. I'd add miles by running the rolling hills of Greenwood, and toss a climb up Jarmans into the middle of the long run. Post-run tradition was a stop for chocolate milk and peanut butter filled pretzels from Greenwood Grocery on the way home. Oh my goodness. I really do miss C-ville sometimes.

Now that I live in "flat" northern VA, I'm a bit stumped as to how I'm going to prepare for this race 2nd time around. Guess I'll just have to scout out as many hills (and I use that term lightly) as I can. It may come down to steep incline miles on the treadmill, but if that's what I have to do, I'll make it happen. VA gets much more hilly out I-66W towards Front Royal, so I may have to do some exploring on the weekends. 2011 training was an adventure, and I'm determined to make 2012 just as memorable!

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