Tuesday, September 11, 2012

RAAoT Final Wrap-up - Part 9 (Days 65-70)

Day 65 - 18 miles of road, 23 miles of trail
Day 65 would have been a better day if there hadn't been a break in the North Coast Inland Trail (NCIT), but the break exists and one has to work with that. The way through the break included 14 miles on busy US-20. Anyway, just like on day 60 as soon as Jen and I started to run my feet registered great unhappiness. I am not sure why I experienced the unexpected pain, but thankfully it did mostly dissipate. At about mile four Jen let me know she was having issues so we walked to the finish point of the day which was the eastern end of the NCIT in Elyria. At mile 34 the NCIT went right past a McDonalds. This was the second time of the Run for a trail to pass immediately adjacent to a McDonalds.

Day 66 - 21 miles of road, 23 miles of trail
I wrote nothing in the blog for days 66-68 except finish times due to a lack of time on the Run. I note that Jen later gave me grief for failing to write anything... Anyway we started day 66 walking. At mile 10 or so John Price arrives! It was super to see John - a super runner who crossed the country in 2011! At mile 15 we joined the Valley Parkway Trail and shortly thereafter I moved ahead of Jen and commenced jogging. The jogging was quite painful at first, but the legs - primarily the left leg - finally came around. I was happy to reach mile 34 and join the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail! The Towpath is an outstanding crushed stone trail that is heavily used by local residents. A portion of the trail is used for the Burning River 100 which is one of the finest 100 mile runs in the country! After finishing for the day it was great to eat dinner with Navy buddy Gerry Wright!

Day 67 - 1 mile of road, 43 miles of trail
The route this day was the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath with two small breaks on road. The first short break was in downtown Akron. Since this was a Saturday I didn't expect to see many people near downtown Akron, but the place was absolutely deserted - WOW!  Jen and I ran some at the start this day, but Jen's issues continued and we dropped to a walk. At mile 13 I returned to jogging and pushed ahead of Jen. Bottom line, we both enjoyed our day on the Towpath.
As an aside, I look forward to making it back to the Burning River 100 and to run the Towpath Marathon some year. Don't let life pass you by. If you enjoy rail and canal trails, put the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail on your To Do list.

Day 68 - 20 miles of road, 26 miles of trail
The day started out cool with complete overcast skies. Later we were rained on several times which included some heavy rain. The first 10 miles of the route were the southern end of the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail. After a couple miles of road we returned to trail on the Zoar Valley Trail which I note includes nearly three miles of the old Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath with more nice canal locks to enjoy passing. Miles 15-18 of the day on the Zoar Valley Trail were some of the very few single-track trail miles used on the entire route.  At mile 19 we ran over a historic bridge - the only Fink Truss bridge still in existence. You can read about and see a picture of the interesting bridge at
We then passed through a few small towns via highway enroute to the scenic Connotton Creek (Rail) Trail for the last ten miles of the day. While on the road around mile 28 a pair of local ultrarunners rolled along in their van talking with me about the Run. The short conversation pumped me up for a few miles!

Day 69 - 31 miles of road, 13 miles of trail
The drive to the start this day was done in foggy conditions - yes, keep that sun away. The sun didn't stay away for long though. The left leg and foot were in bad shape from the start. Only a quarter mile into the day I fell behind Jen and didn't catch her until mile 13 or so when she walked a bit. Miles 6-8 were run on the last gravel road of the Run until the final quarter mile at the Atlantic. No car passed me when running on this gravel road. The route had an upward bias until mile 24 and then we ran "down to the river" in order to cross the Ohio River and run into the panhandle of West Virginia - The Mountain State - state 11 of the Run. We then ran up and down for the next six miles until we reached the Panhandle Trail. You might think we enjoyed running downhill, but both of us (especially me) lost the ability (probably due to loss of some muscle mass) to run well downhill - especially on steeper road - weeks prior to day 69. The steepest up and down roads of the route were in these six miles of road through West Virginia. After a steep downhill that took a lot out of the leg muscles we reached the Panhandle (Rail) Trail - another crushed stone trail. Jen picked up the pace shortly after reaching the trail and moved ahead of me, but I caught her with about a mile to go for the day when she was once again beset with issues, and we finished together. We entered our 12th state of the Run - Pennsylvania - the Keystone State - at mile 37 when running the Panhandle Trail. A surprising event that occurred this day was with my GPS Watch - a Garmin Forerunner 310XT. My watch didn't like the foggy conditions and somehow moisture seeped into the watch on this fine day. The watch died at some point late in the run. The captured moisture is easily seen when looking at the face of the watch. Just yesterday I arranged to send the watch back to Garmin for an exchange since the watch is less than a year old and under warranty. I had a back-up watch with me, and I note my Forerunner 305 preformed just fine for the remainder of the Run.
As an aside, until the Civil War the area of the United States currently known as the state of West Virginia was actually part of Virginia. Shortly after the Civil War commenced the western counties of the state of Virginia seceded from Virginia and in 1863 became the state of West Virginia.

Day 70 - 13 miles of road, 31 miles of trail
Another cool start, and my recollection is that my left foot once again was flapping vice gracefully running. We ran about ten more miles on the Panhandle Trail before transitioning to another crushed stone rail trail, the Montour Trail. The Montour Trail is a superb trail on the edge of the Pittsburgh metroplex. I note that there are still some road gaps in this trail hence there was several times this day we left the trail and transitioned to road for a short time before returning to the trail. We passed through two tunnels on the trail this day - our first tunnels of the trip since we bypassed the Mickelson Trail in South Dakota due to the fire reroute, and I didn't know the Snoqualmie Pass Tunnel was open back in Washington. Jen was running about 50 yards ahead of me when we passed through the first tunnel, and as I headed out of the tunnel Jen (and I) could clearly hear the tremendous difference in sound between my left and right footfalls. UGH. I note that I write this blog entry five weeks after day 70. regrettably I report that my lower left leg is still giving me problems, but I am confident that the issues will resolve themselves in the near future.
Since the pizza shop we initially went to for dinner that night didn't have chairs, we ate at Boston Market for dinner - another restaurant first for Jen. I note we had a fine dinner so maybe I won't wait another ten years before my next visit to a Boston Market.

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