Saturday, June 25, 2011

Green Mountain

I had every intention of running today's twenty miles at the Mt Aggie 6 Hour Run. I haven't seen my Mt Aggie friends in a long time and I was looking forward to it. But when the alarm went off at 5AM and I heard the rain pouring down outside, I rolled over and went back to sleep. I woke up several hours later, angry at myself for skipping the event. I had tweaked my training schedule this week so my long run would fall on Saturday instead of Sunday, so I decided to run long today on my own. Kevin suggested nearby Green Mountain in Effingham, New Hampshire. I thought it was a great idea.

I set out on my own at 11:00. The rain had stopped and the skies were a lighter shade of gray than they had been for the past few days. I parked at the Effingham Elementary School for some additional miles and some additional climb. The school is at 200 feet of elevation and the top of Green Mountain is at 1880 feet. I would gain 1680 feet in about 2.5 miles. Then I'd do it two more times!

After 3 loops around the school's 3/4 mile gravel loop trail (including one loop doing the crazy exercises at the circuit stations...pull ups, sit ups, jumping from log to log, parallel bars...) I started up the old discontinued High Watch Road to the High Watch Trail head. I checked the time on my cell phone here because this 1.5 mile climb is a good marker of how my hill work is going. The fastest I have ever run up this trail is just under 19 minutes. Today I was able to run the entire way up, but it took me 24 minutes. That's OK, I was happy I didn't have to walk at all. I passed a group of ladies about half way up the trail. It's funny, but I found myself thinking how nice it was that these old ladies were out hiking on a wet cloudy day. Then it occurred to me that they were all about ten years younger than me! I had just assumed they were older because of the slow careful way they were moving along in rain coats and inappropriate footwear, carrying umbrellas and gossipping about people who weren't with them. When they saw me coming, they scurried out of the way as if I might bowl them over and send them careening off the mountain.

Without pausing, I went over the summit and down the Fire Warden's Trail (also called the Libby Trail) down to Libby Road, where I turned North. Libby Road is no more of a road than the High Watch Rd. It's just a washed out dirt trail at this point. When the road started looking more civilized, I knew it was time to look for the obscure left turn onto Town Pound Rd. If you look through the underbrush, you can see the high stone walls of the pound on the corner. This road is narrower and more overgrown, but very nice running. I tried to push my pace on this stretch of "road" running. When I got to the trail head for the Dearborn Trail, I turned around and ran back to the Firewarden's Trail on the same two roads. I ran back up the Firewarden's Trail in 26 minutes, with a few short walk breaks. The group of ladies was at the summit and starting to climb up the fire tower.

I breezed right through and ran down the Dearborn Trail, turned around at the bottom and started back up. Ugh, this trail is steep and strenuous. I did a lot of walking on this climb. I had no desire to time the climb this time.

Now came the challenge of the day. Could I catch the ladies before they got back down to their vehicle at the High Watch Trail head? I fearlessly, almost fearlessly, skimmed over slippery mossy slabs of ledge, rolling rocks, loose gravel, and slick tree roots. About half way down I saw the brightly colored rain coats in the distance! I scooted by them with a cheerful, "hello!" which made them all jump. Then came the easy downhill on the High Watch Road, a few loops around the school trail, and there I had it, twenty miles in something over 4 hours with three climbs of Green Mountain! OK, so I was too lazy to get out of bed and make it to Mt Aggie this morning. I still had a great run today.

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