Friday, October 26, 2012

Good Bye, Morgantown

Mount Baker: the view from my new back door. 

After 24 years of growing up in Morgantown, West Virginia, I am packing up my bike and running shoes and heading out to the Pacific Northwest- Bellingham, Washington to be exact. Why Bellingham? It is an hour and a half north of Seattle, an hour south of Vancouver, a two hour drive to North Cascades National Park and a ferry ride to the Olympic Mountains. 

My Chevy Cavalier 

Morgantown is a great place to live, and I am truly going to miss it. I am going to miss not only my family and friends, but also the one-of-a-kind places to eat like Black Bear, Richwood Grill and New Day Bakery. I am going to miss the energy that escalates through the town on football Saturday and the hometown pride expressed by every native. I am going to miss my silver Chevy Cavalier, my trusty station wagon of 7 ½ years.  A big thanks to my dad for keeping her running and picking me up when she left me stranded. Leaving Morgantown has made my realize how many special people I have in my life and how lucky I am to be a part of this community.

View from Cooper's Rock State Forest, WV
Even though I am trading in the musket for a horned helmet (Western Washington Vikings), I will always be a Mountaineer. I promise to be a positive representative of our state in whatever I do. I realize that Washington will be a big change, and I am certain homesickness is inevitable.  It will be an adventure and a true test of growth and maturity. And if I don’t like it, I know the country roads will be here to take me home.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Run for the Hills!

This weekend I was the first female to finish and was second overall at the Run for the Hills! Half Marathon put on by the West Virginia Mountain Trail Runners and The Mountain Institute in the Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area in West Virginia’s Monongahela National Forest.  For the Ultras (not me!) the half was Day 3 of the West Virginia Trilogy, a three day stage race that included a 50 kilometer run on day one, 50 miles on day two and 13.1 miles on day three. I have lived in West Virginia all my life, but have never been to Spruce Knob which, at 4,863 feet, is the highest point in the state and the summit of Spruce Mountain, the highest peak in the Allegheny Mountains. 

We stayed in Canaan Valley the night before so had a good hour’s drive the morning of the race. The weather was perfect in the upper 40’s and sunny. After a quick 2-mile warm up and a hug from my good friend, Phil, the race was off at 9:00 am.

The race itself was a lonely one, not having anyone close by in front of me or behind me. I battled leaf-covered rocks and branches, climbed four barbed-wire fences and traversed four streams in my Inov-8 Roclite 285’s all while looking for orange ribbons located sporadically throughout the course. There were two out and backs during the race that allowed for encouragement from fellow racers and reassurance that I was not out there alone. I crossed the finish line in just over one hour and 40 minutes, which is 7 minutes faster than the previous course record. Having won the race, I was awarded with an awesome hand-crafted mug that was made by local artists.

I am very happy with my race, but also glad that I had the opportunity to visit such a beautiful part of West Virginia that I had not seen before. I will be leaving West Virginia in two weeks so this was a perfect opportunity for me to really appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of where I came from.  Having deprived myself during training and now having earned it, I get to celebrate with my last peanut butter and chocolate chip biscotti at New Day!

A gorgeous fall day presented West Virginia at its best.

*Tad Davis Photos