Friday, December 23, 2011

A Trail Running Homecoming

Over the past 6 days, I have spent about 10 hours and covered nearly 60 miles on the Watershed Trails of Greensboro.  There are more than 42 miles worth of singeltrack surrounding Lake Higgins, Brandt, and Townsend and nearly all of it is within Greensboro's city limits.  This trail system, in my opinion, has to be one of the best urbran trail systems in the country.  It may not have huge climbs and soaring views, which is usually my favorite type of terrain to run on, but it has flat to rolling, technical at times terrain that hugs the lakes and pretty much provides a view of the lakes at all times.  It is very scenic and is quite an escape from the third largest metropolitin area in North Carolina.  These trails mean a lot to me, as they are the ones that started my obsession with trail running.  They were also the site of my first trail race, The Triple Lakes Trail Marathon.  There is just something about them that keeps me coming, no matter the low level of difficulty.  If you find yourself in the Greensboro area, make sure you check them out.  There are plenty of loops you can make and if your looking for more of a challenging route on them, I would suggest sticking with the Owl's Roost, Nat Greene, Laurel Bluff, and Townsend trails.  They have more hills than the others and those hills come in steep 50-80 ft burst.  I hope to log a few more miles out there in the next week.  Happy trails and Merry Christmas!
View from Laurel Bluff Trail

Monday, December 5, 2011

New Half PR at Mistletoe!

So the time had finally come.  I hadn't ran a road race since my first actual race 4 years ago (a 10k before I caught the marathon/ultra bug) and this was going to be it.  Now anyone that knows me knows that I absolutely hate running paved roads.  Heck, even running on paved greenways sucks in my view, although it is substantially better than the roads.  One disadvantage of not running a road race though is that you really do not have a clue how well you can sustain a constant solid pace over many miles.  Running trails requires varying your pace to the technicality and vertical of the trail and trails can fluctuate many times over the length of the run.  So this was going to be a true test of how good a runner I actually am.  I felt confident enough to believe I could go sub-1:40, but my goal was to run sub 1:35.

Race morning was a cool 38 degrees and I was finally feeling ready after feeling a bit nauseous a bit early.  The cannon fired and I took off (after walking about 30 seconds to get to the start line).  The plan was to try and run the first half at an average pace of about 7:20/mile and the last half in about 7 min/mile pace especially trying to push the last 3 miles into the sub 7 range.  Needless to say the plan went off perfectly.  I had conserved enough energy through the first half to run the second half quicker.  My last mile was the quickest of the day, a 6:50.  My legs were feeling the pain though and I was extremely relieved once I finally sprinted over the finish line.  I ran the last .1 mile in 38 seconds, crossing the finish line in 1:34:21 and setting a new half-marathon PR!  Actually this is really my first official half-marathon as the other previous one was about a mile too long.  I feel very satisfied with this run even though I think I can run faster if I would be able to train properly and not be hampered by injury, which luckily did not bother me too much during this race. Maybe next year I'll return and try to set a new PR at this distance, sub 1:30 would be nice!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Gobble Gobble

Last weekend,  Hannah and I went down the road to Asheville and meet up with the good folks of WNC Trailrunner to run the annual Bent Creek Gobbler.  This run is a great figure 8 loop through the Bent Creek Experimental Forest and a highlight of my fall running season.  I was wanting to tackle the the full 50k this year,  but some lingering injuries and an actual race in the plans for the next weekend changed my mind and I settled for running the first 16 mile loop.  Needless to say,  I ran the first loop pretty impressively considering I hadn't ran at all the week leading up to the run and was still feeling tight in the hips.  I tried to stay with the lead pack for most of the way up the 6 mile gravel road to the intersection of the Shut-in trail.  I ended up running that section in about 50 minutes, which was really solid.  I ran with Matt Kirk on most of the Shut-in section, continually pushing the limits of comfortable pace trying to stay with him and his speedy turnover.  I love this section of the Shut-in trail, especially this time of year because the views through the trees are magnificent.  By the time we reached Bent Creek Gap Rd, Jon and Luna (woof) caught back up with us.  I tried to hang with them once we reached the road, but I had obviously ran a bit too hard for those first 14.5 miles and the tank was dry.  Plus, I didn't want to injure my aching muscles anymore than I already had on this steep descent.  I finally made it back to the start in about 2 hours and 10 minutes, which is definitely faster than last year's effort.  The real fun started though after the run, with hanging out waiting on the finishers and indulging in some select adult beverages.  Huge thanks to Adam Hill for continually putting on this fantastic run each Thanksgiving weekend.  Gobble Gobble!