Journey with me as I ever so slowly attempt to run 50 races in 50 states by the time I am 50...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Discovery Zone

Do you guys remember that place? I never actually went...or maybe went once to pick up my sister and just glimpsed the inside or something, but it really did seem like the place for birthday parties for a while, didn't it?

My mind comes up with weird blog titles.

Anyway, my discovery zone was at the New River Gorge in Minden, West Virgina for the ACE New River Gorge-ous Trail Run & Walk where I discovered, in a short period of time, that I am not a trail runner.

(though I was still able to do this at the end of the race...guess I was glad it was over!)

Thought process prior to the run: I like running. I like hiking. I'll like trail running!

Thought process during the run:
Mile 1: Okay, I'm not prepared for this.
Mile 2: Thank God I wore my trail runners. (Stability was a big concern.)
Mile 3: I think I'll just do the 8 mile loop. Is that giving up?
Mile 4: We are definitely stopping for pizza on the way home.
Mile 5: I am only going to walk up the hills, but I'm going to walk up every one of them.
Mile 6: I'm doing the 8 mile loop. This is ridiculous.
Mile 7: Okay, I guess I'm doing the whole thing. At least I'll run fast when running so this thing will be over quickly enough....maybe I can finish in 2:15?
Mile 8: At least I'll keep moving forward. I'll finish in 2:30. Just keep that girl in the blue shirt in sight.
Mile 9: Where is everybody? Oh yeah, they all passed me a long time ago.
Mile 10: Water stop and 3 miles left. This is not so bad. If I get back in 2:30, we'll have plenty of time for burritos before we go get pizza.
Mile 11: I *#$! hate these rocks (Okay, I swore a lot on this mile...but if you swear in the woods and there is no one around to hear it, does it make an offensive sound?)
Mile 12: I can't believe I went the wrong way. I'll have to go back down that hill to look for the arrows. (minutes later): I can't believe that wasn't the wrong way. I'll have to go back UP that *&#$! hill. (offended birds and squirrels cover their ears)
Mile 13: Praise the Lord. Time for burritos and pizza.

One rough-looking but happy girl

Yes, I had a burrito and about half a pizza. I'm not ashamed. The burritos were free after the race and they were delicious. The pizza was on the way home (see pic above) and also delicious.

Other positives about the race: a pre-race bonfire, hot chocolate, and cocoa to keep people warm; beautiful fall colors; well-marked course (except for that one rogue arrow on Mile 12)
So listen, if you like trail races, or want a challenge, check this one out.

But if you are planning on doing the 13.2 course (yup, just a little longer than a half marathon), do NOT listen to the course description online. Here's an excerpt:

"All of the courses wander through deep hard wood forests and offer spectacular views of the river and the historic town of Thurmond 1,000 feet below. So whether you come for some great competition or a leisurely jog or stroll, you'll enjoy every step of your trek over some of the most scenic paths in the state."
(italics added by me to emphasize how pleasant and do-able this race sounds)

I'm sure the shorter races were not as bad. But I am also sure they could not be done leisurely.
Granted, you may love this race. I'm sure lots of people did. Just know what you are getting into.

I did not like that I had to spend most of the race looking down to fight for stability, but was in awe of the view when I forced myself to stop and take in the vistas. I was happy to complete the race, and what I had wanted from West Virginia was a beautiful course and a big challenge. This was certainly both.

view from visitor's center

another view from visitor's center

Bonus: we gained entry into the secret sandwich society (at least in our minds)
Until next time (New Jersey perhaps?), keep running!

Oh yeah, and donate here!


  1. Way to go, Catilin. You did it! I am not a trail runner either... you have to spend so much time/energy just trying to keep your footing that it is hard to get into "the zone." Great location pick. I went white water rafting in that area of few years ago. The Gorge is out of this world. I also passed through that area everytime I drove from Blacksburg to Pittsburgh! :)

  2. "I'm goin' D Z at Discovery Zone. Discover what I can do on my own..." theme song! Don't remember going there either, but of course I know the theme song.."D Z, where kids wanna be!" Oh useless knowledge!
    Congrats on this one, and I will see you in NJ!

  3. This post was hilarious. Seriously, if I weren't at work reading this, I would be laughing out loud. Commentary on miles 6, 9, and 12 were my favorite.

    Also, a few questions:

    1) Per photo #1: Did you run the trail race in jeans and Toms?

    2) Per photos 3 and 4: Did you run the trail race while holding a camera?

    3) Per photo 5: What is the secret sandwich society? It sounds awesome.

  4. Britta: That would be a beautiful ride!

    Felice (AKA Unknown): Of course I remember the theme song!

    Amanda: Glad you liked it! To answer your questions, 1) No, I changed after the race but we stuck around to take pictures because 2) I didn't have a camera on the run-- these were taken down the road a ways near the visitors center and 3) I don't actually know! We think it's just a sandwich shop but we also thought it sounded awesome and decided to stop the car to take that dumb (I mean awesome) picture in front of the sign. :)

  5. So I was at work when I read this and still definitely laughed out loud (but I am all alone in my office ;)! Loved reading your thoughts during the race. Thanks for taking us along! And WAY TO GO!!!