Sunday, March 20, 2011

Bouncing Back

After weeks of battling aches and pains, most notoriously IT band and Runner's Knee, the pain has begun to alleviate and I was able to put in my first solid week of running since two weeks before Uwharrie.  That is a long, long time and I would be lying if it did not make me a bit depressed.  Looking back to those initial days after Uwharrie, I discovered the route of what caused all my pain, which was a a lack of stretching post run.  I didn't stretch any after the race, no stretching the days following, none after my first run after Uwharrie, and none after a grueling and beautiful run in the Linville Gorge.  I don't know why I didn't but you can definitely see how this could tighten up my entire lower body and leave me practically crippled.  Lessons learned.

Ok, now onto this week.  I got a new pair of shoes and was itching to get out for runs, but still trying to save the knee.  So I took it comfortably hard and short for the week.  The new shoes were performing well and my knee was feeling better each run.  This was getting me excited for the Seven Sister Summit Run (SSSR) coming up this weekend. 

So, I decided to head down to Asheville a day early and hang out with Adam Hill (MadA) and his family.  We were  able to squeeze in a short run around Buzzbee Mtn between board games, soccer, and ice cream.  Needless to say, it was a pretty good afternoon before SSSR.  Always thankful to the Hill's for putting me up in their home when I head down Asheville way. 
 A good crew had assembled for the fifth running of the SSSR Saturday morning and I was itching to get going.  I laced up my new shoes (wondering if this would be a good choice because of a lack of grip) and after taking a few group photos we were off.  Adam and Jon took off out of the gates and they both seemed ready to lay down a solid time.  I followed closely for about a quarter of a mile before I realized that their pace would have me calling it quits in a half an hour.  Especially with the first nasty steep initial climb.  I ended up running with Damian and Scott over Rainbow Mtn and Lookout Mtn before Damian disappeared.  On my way up and over the next summit of the day, Matt Kirk (Grand Kirk) and Uwharrie finally joined Scott and myself.  We pretty much stayed together until Greybeard Falls and I began to hit a low point in the run.  I had woke up that morning feeling pretty thirsty and not knowing how long it would be till I could access a water source, I tried to conserve as much water as possible.   Once reaching Greybeard Falls my bottle was only halfway empty.  I was feeling pretty dehydrated.  It took about another full bottle in the next 2 miles up the amazing switchbacks of the Greybeard Trail till I was feeling good again.
View from Lookout Mtn

View from Walker's Knob
But once I started to feel good, my shoes began to fail me on the technical terrain of the rest of the course.  They are super light and feel great underfoot, but they definitely do not grip roots, rocks, and crushed leaves very well.  After summiting Walker's Knob and Greybeard Mtn. I was reduced to a ridiculously slow walk on all steep technical sections.  This is kinda of a bummer considering my forte is technical downhill running, but it might have been a good thing in helping me not to be too ambitious and screwing up my knee once again.  West Ridge trail is a blast though and cruising over the Seven Sisters is an experience in itself. 
View from Greybeard Mtn
After battling the West Ridge trail, I took a left onto Big Piney Trail to descend back to the finish in Montreat.  Most of this trail was less technical but quite steep.  Once off the trail I hit a section of gravel/pavement for the last mile to the finish.  I ran down this section hard to finish the run strong in 3:09.  Definitely will have to come back and lay down a faster time. 

View from Rattlesnake Mtn on Big Piney Trail

After the run, I kicked back with the crew and waited for everyone to come in while enjoying a Highland's Brewing Seven Sister Abbey Style Ale and some cookies brought by Greg and Anne.  After everyone came in we head over to Ole's for some delicious grub.  Always a good choice.

Since the day was still young after the relatively short SSSR, I decided to tour around the Asheville area and then check out a section of parkway previously unexplored from Asheville to Mt. Mitchell State Park.  I pulled over to take a quick trip up Craggy Pinnacle before heading to the start of the Big Butt trail.  The goal was to run to Big Butt and catch the sunset and the "supermoon" rise at dawn, but I forgot my headlamp and it was a bit to cloudy to catch a glimpse of the sun or moon.  So, I had to head back in enough time to get me back to my car no less than 10 minutes after sunset so I could see where I was going.  This means I missed summiting Big Butt, but I did make it to Little Butt and captured this beautiful pic of the Blacks. 
View of the Black Mtns from Little Butt

I took the parkway all the way back to Boone (it is actually the quickest that way) and was able to catch glimpses of the supermoon once the clouds cleared out.  It was a great way to end a great day.


  1. Glay you are back in business Brandon!

  2. Thanks Beth! Hopefully I'll get up your way soon for a run!