Category Archives: Shenandoah Valley

Restarting somewhere in Albemarle

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The start line in Free Union, Va

The field was empty when I arrived.

The field quickly filled with cars.

Milling about ...

Getting ready for the start.

Too much fun with Photoshop.

Houses in the area ranged from elaborate estates, to farms, to trailers.

Flamingos in their natural state.

Gotta take a cow photo...

About 500 of us line up on a rural dirt road behind a simple chalk start line. Having paid 25 bucks each, runners of all ages get the privilege of grabbing a t-shirt, running just over three miles, and then celebrating with bottled water, stale bagels and, just maybe, a piece of fruit.

No matter how long or short, runs have to begin somewhere. It could be a large inflatable arc across a city street, a mark in the mud or front porch steps. Today, I set out to re-ignite my quest to run in every county and city in Virginia. Perhaps I was burned out after the Southwest trip. Maybe a couple of nagging injuries got the better of me. Whatever the reason, I did not run much in the last year. And even when I did, I did not follow it up with a blog post.

I did knock out a few county and cities since the August 2014 trip to Southwest. Here are some of the highlights:

In Appomattox County, as I looked over the courthouse relics, the family beside me was looking for names of relatives. While I have a certain amount of interest in the civil war, I’ve met people throughout the state that have been totally fascinated by it. One of the reasons is that it was fought by their ancestors. Most of my ancestors were in Ireland or Scotland at the time. The family connection simply is not there.

The running routes at the courthouse are limited. I made own loop, sometimes on dirt paths, sometimes into fields, sometimes along a small highway.

Continuing on the Civil War theme, I completed a rainy run on a stretch that was part of the Petersburg blockade. I kept a umbrella above my head much of the way. The Five Forks Battlefield, located in Dinwiddie County has a number of nice trails suitable for running, although you always feel as if a Union soldier is going to peak out from behind a tree at any moment.

Colleen isn’t normally a beer drinker. But after a 8K on the hilly streets of Charlottesville, she had a strong affection for peach beer. During the trip, we visited Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and Ash Lawn-Highland, home of James Monroe. While Jefferson was the scientist and political philosopher, Monroe had a practical approach to politics and commerce that was critical to the survival of the new nation. Monticello is truly set up for tourists. At Ash Lawn-Highland, we got an exclusive tour.

A night race in the small college town of Blacksburg turned into a squish, squish, squish affair as a unrelenting downpour started before I made it through the first mile. During the June trip, I stumbled my way along the rocky Cascade Falls Trail in Giles County so I could snap a few photos of the 69-foot waterfall. I also got in a quick run in the independent town of Radford, home of Radford University.

We celebrated the 4th of July with a humble 5K race in the small town of Stanley in Page County. I finished second in my age group (out of two runners in my age group). While the run wrapped up around 10 a.m., people were already lining up chairs along the road to reserve their spot for the 6 p.m. parade. We opted to visit a large display of parade floats at Shenandoah Caverns and didn’t make it back for the main event.

My latest run was in Free Union, a speck about 10 miles north of Charlottesville. The area (population 192) is a mix of trailer homes, working farms and fancy estates.┬áIt is named after a Baptist church built in 1837. According to the Wikipedia entry, the church was “free” in that all races were welcome. It was a “union” of four denominations of Christianity, none of which could afford their own church.

I took the run at a snail’s pace, unsuccessful in my attempt to keep up with a family that included an eight-year-old. My last real run before this was doing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge 10K in early November.

Hopefully, I’ll get a couple of runs in during the winter and be ready for a more busy spring.

116 runs down, 18 to go.