Before I begin, let me say that I’m going to make all of the landmarks in this post plural.
Because of who I am as a person.
If you’re from the Roanoke area, you may be aware that McAfee Knob is often inaccurately referred to as McAfees Knob.
And it’s possible that one fellow runner is particularly annoyed by this.
He tried to pull that sign out of the ground.
I went for a 10 mile run today.
That ended at 6.1.
I wasn’t on the struggle bus.
I was dragging the struggle bus behind me like those dudes in those strong man competitions. Except less … strong.
Recently, I may have gotten sucked into this whole NorthS Mountain Loop Challenge ridiculousness.
Went out for Loop 7 with Endong and Rogue on Friday. Because if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. And then distract ’em. By sending ’em to another challenge. And then beat ’em. (But don’t tell ’em that’s the plan…)
11 miles and 3,000 feet of elevation. Of wet, slippery, rock- and tree-covered elevation.
There was slipping and twisting and jarring and little cries of terror on the downhills.
There was whining and gasping and clamoring and little Endong surprises on the uphill.
So, of course, one day of rest on Saturday would allow my 44-year old ankles and knees plenty of time to recover for the 311S to 220S route.
(Um, just so we’re clear. That’s not 311 South to 220 South. I have no idea whether those roads run North-South or East-West or what part of the damn country they’re even in. Those S’s are purely there for smartass reasons.)
They’ll tell you it’s 20 miles. It’s 20.97.
They’ll tell you it’s part of the Triple Crown. It’s two parts of the Triple Crown. (Plus, the Triple Crown is meant to be hiked. These people are gonna make you run.)
They’ll tell you it’s 4,000 feet of elevation gain. It’s 4,306.
They’ll tell you that once you get to HayS Rock, it’s just 5 miles of runnable rolling hills on out. It’s not. It’s this…
This is why I’m running out of ice.
However, I’ve figured out how to make it through this run without completely giving up on life.
You divide it into 4 parts.
Part One: McAfeeS Knob
This part is just 4ish miles with lots of misleadingly flat portions before you hit the just go straight the hell up part.
But since it’s in the beginning, your legs are still mostly fresh and you can appease them by reminding them that at least it’s not NorthS Mountain and there will be a nice view at the top.
Where you may or may not pose for a totally socially appropriate friend picture with Rogue. Because that’s the kind of friendship you have. And people maybe don’t want to question that. Because we’re grown and you don’t get to question how we friendship. And even if it were what it looked like, you also don’t get to question that. (But it’s not. What it looked like.)
(On a side note, I may have also told my Re Re that I was in love with her today. Because texting. But seriously. I love her an appropriate BFF amount. Not that it would be ok for you to question it if I were in love with her. But I’m not. I just, normal friend love her…)
Part Two: TinkerS Cliffs
This is gonna be the sucky part. Because it’s only 5ish miles and it starts out pretty runnable for the first 3 1/2-ish miles (and kind of creepy because of all the fog…)
but it screws with your head. Because eventually you’ll get to the climbing part and you’ll see a climb and think, psht. I got that.
And you’ll get it.
But then you’ll get to the next climb. And you’ll think, “but I just did one of these…”
But you’ll do it, because your car is wayyyyy at the other end of this damn trail.
And then you’ll find another climb.
And the Tiny Brazilian will say stupid things about views and accomplishments, but you won’t hit her. Because this damn mountain is sucking all of your energy out of you.
And you’ll get to the top of that particular climb, and K-Rob-D will say “We did it!”
And again, you won’t hit her, because again, energy.
And then you hit yet another climb.
And you maybe don’t just grab hold of the Tiny Brazilian and remind her of how she pulled you up Roanoke Mountain that one time and you probably don’t beg her to do it again.
And K-Rob-D will again say, “We did it!”
And again, you’ll kinda wish that the gale force winds that were starting to kick in would throw a large branch at her. Not an entire tree, mind you. Because you love her and you generally like running with her. But, you know, maybe just to kinda knock her out for a few seconds.
And then there’s another climb…
And then you’ll just think, “Dammit! Why does this keep happening?!?”
Until you finally get to the top.
And maybe your friends have found a rock hole cave to stand in so you can only see the tops of their bodies and you’re not entirely sure what’s happening from the waist down. And you don’t ask. Because that’s their business. And didn’t we just cover this in the conversation about my Rogue McAfeeS Knob picture?
But the views…
Photos don’t do them justice.
You should probably just go ahead and make the climb yourself.
Just, take snacks so you don’t hurt the people.
Part Three: HayS Rock
The Stravas are going to tell you that this part is mostly downhill. And your friends will tell you it’s runnable.
But seriously, when half the trail blazes are on rocks instead of trees…
That’s not runnable. For us humans.
I mean, it’s cool looking and kinda fun
But not runnable.
And Imma be real. I have no idea where the area in this last photo is on this trail.
Endong posted it in our Runner Family Photo Album and I saw it and realized that despite doing this route twice now and even leading a few stretches, I have NEVER seen that cute little AT sign.
I’m not allowed to lead any stretches anymore.
And then you get to HayS Rock
And it’s beautiful.
And GJB is gonna take a bunch of pics to try to prove that all photos should be taken vertically and not horizontally or something.
And Endong is going to nearly be swept right on off the mountain by the gale force winds while taking a group selfie.
Part Four: 220S
This is the last stretch.
It should be the easiest…emotionally.
But it’s the last 5ish miles and you’ve heard before how it’s mostly runnable rolling hills on out.
But it’s not.
It’s this horribleness.
And at some point you’re going to yell out, “I hate running and I don’t want to do it anymore!” And so you don’t.
Until you do again.
My body hates me. And my life choices.
We’re going back next month.
I don’t know why…