So what’s next?

Now that I have tackled the marathon and can officially call myself a marathoner, I can’t help but think about what I want to do next. I’ve got a few thoughts circling around in my head.

First of all, I’m thinking about doing some trail running. I know of a few spots where I can find trails, and we also aren’t far from the Appalachian Trail. Although the latter is not likely to happen, since all of the hikers I encounter like to tell me stories about the bears they see in this area. Aside from the AT, there appears to be a decent amount of trails through the Claytor Lake State Park. They also recently put in a new mountain bike park in Radford. Is it okay to run at a mountain bike park? Encounters with mountain bikes seems to be a rite of passage for trail runners.

A trail in Claytor Lake State Park

Secondly, I am definitely doing another marathon in 2014! I think it’s safe to say I kind of set the bar low on my first marathon. I want to give it another go and hopefully run under 5 hours this go around. I have my sights set on a certain marathon that takes place in October in our nation’s capital.

Speaking of races, I am not signed up for much, yet. I already registered for the Blue Ridge Half (how could I not when it was 50% off!?) and we will probably go back and run the Varmint Half again in June. This year will be the 21st year for that race, and they always do black sheep for the awards (top 3 overall and top 3 in each age group) every 7 years. I think the race may have grown too large for me to place in my age group, but you never know. I am hoping to work on speed this spring. We can call that item number 3 on my list of what’s next.

From 2012, when Barry and I both placed in our age groups

But I’m most curious about getting off of the roads in the immediate future and trying my hand at some trails. There’s a trail half marathon that takes place in March not too far from us that has caught my eye. It’s called Green Legs and Hamstrings, and they pretty much had me at the name.

The trails in Danville are supposed to be relatively well-maintained, so I think this race may be a good introduction to trail races for me. I’m not quite ready to cross over into the realm of ultrarunning, but I am ready to branch out a bit from road racing. There is also an entire trail race series in the Roanoke area (about an hour from us) called the Roanoke Non Ultra Trail Series (RNUTS) that has a number of races starting in January and going through June. 

So that’s what the future looks like for me: trails, a focus on building some speed, and another go at the marathon.

Do you run trails? Give me some tips!

Have you ever been drawn into a race because of it’s name?

20 thoughts on “So what’s next?”

  1. Great. Now you want to make a move on my bike trails? Whatever. I did get excited about the beers on the trail, but when I read it again, I realized it said bears.Some of the names are good, but nothing beats Goofy.LUD.

  2. This post just made me so happy. My biggest tips for trails:1) Go slow at first. You will go a LOT slower than you would normally on pavement, and that’s OKAY. Going slow will make sure you can see (and process) what’s coming up in front of you so you don’t fall.2) Similarly, don’t expect it to be an entirely scenic journey. Your eyes will be glued to the ground 90% of the time…but when you do get opportunities to look up, it’s worth it =)3) It’s okay to walk up hills, especially steep ones. Try to power walk them, though, and shorter steps (think of going up stairs one at a time instead of two at a time) is easier.4) Learn to run without music…or at least don’t be as dependent on it. When I run trails, I never listen to music simply because it’s more important to be in tune to what’s going on around you – sharing trails with other runners, hikers, wild animals, mountain bikers, horses, etc. require you to be alert at all times.5) Always bring more water and fuel than you need – trail running will take you longer to cover the same amount of distance and it will be harder…you’ll go through your water quicker and need fuel sooner. 6) Always bring a buddy or make sure someone knows exactly what trail you went on and when (about) you should be checking back-in with them. This is definitely more important if you are running a trail where you don’t get cell service. Aside from all the bad things that can normally happen on streets, it’s much easier to roll and ankle, get lost, or have a wildlife encounter on trails. As for mountain bikers…it’s totally fine to run on those trails. Some of my favorite trails I HAVE to share with them. Generally they are very pleasant and will give you enough warning when they are coming up behind you for you to just step off to the side (and usually let you know how many of them are still coming). If I see one coming from up ahead, I just step off the trail. I think technically they are supposed to yield to runners, but I think that’s’s way easier for a runner to move over.

    1. Also (as if I needed to add anything to that essay…) if you want to do MCM, you should try to get into the MC 17.75 (I probably mentioned this to you already, I forget). It’s a 17.75k (around 11 miles) in April. Registration opens in February and fills FAST (definitely in less than a day last year), but offers you the only guaranteed registration into MCM now that they are headed to the lottery system. Plus it was an awesome course, which I would recommend regardless.

    2. I thought you would be excited to hear about my interest in trails! 🙂 Thank you so much for the tips! They are going to be really helpful.And I have heard of MC 17.75K. I actually first heard about it on your blog, and then was reminded about it when Deb’s friend did a guest post about running the MCM (and mentioned she had guaranteed entry from doing the 17.75K). If I can get into that race in the spring, that will seal the deal for MCM!

  3. We used to trail run at Pandapas Pond when we lived in Blacksburg. It’s perfectly acceptable to share the trails with mountain bikers; just be sure to yield to them and get out of the way! Ohhh, I’ve got a sheep for 2nd or 3rd overall from the year we ran the Varmint. I might have to consider if black sheep are on the line! Aren’t those the coolest awards ever?

    1. Pandapas Pond is on my list! However, I’ve heard the majority of the trails there are more on the technical side (plus it’s a about an hour drive for us), so I am going to hopefully try some less rooty/rocky trails first. I love the Varmint awards! They are very unique and i love how they tie into the story behind the name of the race.

  4. I’m sure you know that I love running on trails! I have to say that we don’t have much along the lines of dangerous wild life, though. I might change my mind if we did! I just think trail running is so great for building strength, which in turn helps speed.

    1. I know that you do! It seems like most people who have given trail running a try really enjoy it, so I’m hoping the same will hold true for me. Especially hoping for that added benefit of building strength!

    1. I can’t wait to give my first trail race a go! From everything I’ve read about trail races, it’s a very different (i.e. laid back) culture from road races. That sounds like a good fit for me!

  5. I am newly addicted to running trails! I love my new trail shoes, but don’t think it’s necessary to run out and buy them (although I love mine so much that want to wear them on every run). I am seriously thinking of running the Varmit Half this year if we are open that weekend. :-)Hmmmm, is it a bad thing that I’m drawn to the Virginia WINE Country Half based on its name?

    1. I’m definitely not ready to run out (ha-ha) and buy a pair of trail shoes, but it is good to know you are loving yours so much! If I get to a point where I’m ready to invest in trail shoes, I will definitely be sure to try on the ones you have, since we run in the same road shoes. I hope you do run the Varmint!! It’s a bit of a beast, but if you’re having a good day it makes for an amazing race. And of course the scenery is outstanding. I am considering the VA Wine Country Half this year if it’ll work with my schedule 🙂

    2. I actually still haven’t found a pair of trail shoes I LOVE yet, so I do most of my trail runs in my regular PureFlows (that’s also what I wore for my 50k). The only time you would see a real difference is if it’s wet out (rocks, especially get super slippery) or if you’re on more of a lose scree, but I don’t sense that as being the type of trails you are running =)

  6. Mountain Junkies put on great races. A lot of people use Mill Mountain Mayhem 10K as a prep for Blue Ridge (you run up it 2x). Also they have a relatively tame half in May. Really though, you can’t go wrong with their races.

    1. I’ve always heard great things about the races that Mountain Junkies organizes! I read on their website about folks using Mill Mountain Mayhem as a prep for Blue Ridge, but it worries me to be running up the mountain twice in the weekend before the race! I will look into that relatively tame half, though 🙂

  7. Can’t say I’ve ever registered for a race because of the name, but the Legs & Hamstrings looks pretty cute. :)Trail running is awesome – and there’s no need to be fussy about it. Especially if the trails are well-groomed. Just take an older pair of sneakers, get dressed, and GO. Pick your feet up and watch where you’re stepping. Start with just a short jaunt (to get adjusted and comfortable) of a few miles, and grow from there. The trails may leave your lower legs and feet sore in a few spots, so do be aware. Mostly, though? HAVE FUN!!!!

    1. Apparently folks dress up as Dr. Seuss characters for the race and they have a contest for best costume! I won’t be dressing up, but I can’t wait to see what others are wearing! I had a great time on my first trail run this past weekend, because it was SO different from any other type of running I’ve ever done. I am hungry for more!

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