Sunday, December 30, 2012

Looking Over 2012/ Goals for 2013

I really cannot say enough about this year in my running.  It has been by far the best year of running for me in my short running career.  Although the year did have some lows, nothing really was that bad as I had hardly any injury issues.  I didn't race much, not that I ever do, but I made almost every WNC Trailrunner fun run this year (PRing on most of them), joined up with some other local groups, and ran some races I would have never ran before (the 5k).  I feel really proud of my numbers as well.  I ended up running more miles in one year than ever before and definitely more vertical feet than ever before. Below I will detail out the highlights and the numbers for the year.

Most Satisfying Run
This year's Roan Adventure Marathon is still without a doubt my most memorable and most successful run.  After having quite possibly run my worst run ever out on this course in 2011,  I came back this year and busted out a sub 6 hour RAM finish.  This run means a lot to me as it was the run that drew me into joining the Pisgah Nation a few years ago.  This area is still my favorite section of trail to run and it is absolutely gorgeous.
Roan Highlands

Most Disappointing Run
This would have to be a tie between my first attempt at running Pitchell, which I DNFed and the second running of the Linville Gorge Madness Marathon, where I ripped my brand new shoe, then slammed my leg into a tree, and finally pulled out 13 miles later.

Ripped shoe at Linville Madness

Biggest Surprise
Of the two races I actually paid for this year, they were both 5k's.  I had never ran an official 5k before since I started running.  I PRed on my second despite being sick and took home a 3rd place Age group award.  Crazy, but I am still pretty slow at the 5k (20:11 PR).  I will definitely be trying to get into the teens this coming year.

Favorite Place You Ran
This one is tough, but I absolutely loved running in the Marin Headlands north of San Francisco.  The grass covered ridges reminded me of the Roan Highlands and running on the side of cliffs that plunged straight down into Pacific Ocean 800 ft below was astonishing.  I have ran and explored so many places this year it is hard to single just one out though and not mention some other great places which include:  Handies Peak, Mt. Massive, and La Luz just to name a few.

Coastal Trail (Marin Headlands)

Coldest Run
Although we had a mild winter this year, one day in February we had a harsh cold snap and Mad A, Ryan Carlson, and I ran the High Top/ High Windy Loop.  Temperatures at the top were most likely near 0 degrees, but the windchill might have been near -10.  That coupled with near blizzard conditions on the summit made this one quite memorable.

Hottest Run
While on our road trip, Hannah and I did a run in Kings Canyon National Park.  We started around 9 am and it was already about 90 degrees.  It just got hotter while we climbed up to an overlook.  I wasn't expecting that after just running in 60 degree temps the day before only a couple hundred miles away in the Marin Headlands.
Looks familiar, huh?

Favorite Pics I Took This Year

Big Sur Sunset
Rocking on Rock Jock
Tire swing......not gay
Big Sur
Coming off the backside of Mt Massive

The Numbers

Miles = 2,116.6 miles
Hours = 387 hours
Vert = 356,560'
Marathon/ultras run = 7
12+ mile runs = 53

Weekly Averages

Miles - 40.7
Hours - 7.4 hours
Vert - 6,857'

Running Goals for 2013

  1. Try to average 8 hours a week of running throughout the year, this goal seems reasonable and I almost got it this year, but the low weeks of summer staved off the goal. 
  2. Run at least 2400 miles in the next year.
  3. Run my first 50 miler
  4. Finish Pitchell
  5. Run a sub 7 hour finish at the Uwharrie Mountain Run.
  6. Run a sub 20 min 5k.
  7. Stay healthy (generic I know)
  8. PR in the 50k (should be easy)
  9. PR in the marathon (should be easy)
  10. Make it out to as many WNC Trailrunner fun runs as possible.

Uwharrie Training Week 3

Mon - 68min/ 7.5m/ 500' - Watershed Trails - Favorite loop of Reedy Fork and Lauren Bluff Trails.  Did this one with Stephen back home from the Air Force.  I felt pretty crappy due to ALTAR a couple days prior.

Tues - 29min/ 3.8m/ 300' - Ardmore - Wasn't sure if I was going to get out or not, but I finally made the decision to at least get a short run around the neighborhood in Winston.

Wed - 41min/ 5.2m/ 400' - Owl's Roost Trail - Cold and wet run on an old favorite with Stephen.  Started off casual, but went tempo for the last 3 just to stay a bit warmer.  Bumped into Charlie Engle near the end of the run.  Cool dude.

Thurs - 80min/ 8.5m/ 700' - Piedmont Environmental Center - Never even knew this place existed until Matt told me about it about a month back.  Finally checked it out and was pleasantly surprised.  The Deep River trail was excellent and this place is only 20 minutes from my parents place which is nice.

Fri - 70min/ 9m/ 400' - Northeast Park - Visited another old favorite for a steady state run.  It was strange running through what was once a clear cut 5 years ago and know is becoming a healthy pine forest.  Pretty neat to see the change happening.

Sat - 2hr35min/ 15.5m/ 1000' - Lakeside 25k course - Great lollipop loop out at on the Watershed trails in Greensboro.  I felt really tired today and then decided to take no water or food on this outing.  This made for a long second half of the run.  Oh well.

Sun - 47min/ 5.5m/ 400' - Fisher Farm - Back home and did a shake out run on the standard loop at Fisher.  Felt a lot better than yesterday but still decided to call it a bit short instead of pushing for some arbitrary number to round out the weeks mileage.

Total =

Time - 8hrs10min
Miles - 55
Vert - 3,550'

After last weeks beatdown at ALTAR, I decided to take advantage of being back home for Christmas and stay on the flats.  My knees were having issues during push off on steep climbs so I think the lower vert total is fine.  I had some really solid runs this week were I felt really strong (Wed and Fri), but most of the other days I felt really tired and beat up.  Hopefully a day off will revive me and get me back on the right track.  What a great year of running it has been.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Uwharrie Training Week 2

Mon - 0hr - off

Tues - 1hr/ 6.5m/ 1000' - Latta - Today I did a hill workout on the hill trail, a .2 mile 75 ft climb.  I did 10 repeats after a 1.5 mile warm-up and finish the day with a 1 mile cool-down.  Each repeat was around 80 seconds with the fastest at 77 and slowest at 81.  Felt good about the workout.

Wed - 52min/ 5.7m/ 300' - Lake Norman State Park - easy run on the Hawk Loop.  Felt horrible.

Thurs - 45min/ 5.5m/ 500' - Dam Pasture Trails - easy run with Mad A around WWC.  Felt a bit weak due to a lack of breakfast.

Fri - 55min/ 7m/ 300' - WWC - another easy run with Mad A on the trails at WWC.  Tried out my new MT 1010 (Minimus Amp) and really liked the feel.  I think I got a half size too big, but with some lacing tweaks they feel pretty good.  Looking forward to taking them out on ALTAR tomorrow.

Sat - 8hrs32min/ 30.1m/ 9000' - ALTAR - What a phenomenal day.  It got a bit lonesome at points, but the views were spectacular and I ran really well the entire day all the way till the final descent from Cold Mountain to Camp Daniel Boone.  I bonked hard at this point and couldn't even manage to run the majority of this downhill.  Overall though, I was satisfied and improved on my time by 30 minutes from last year.  Up high there was a solid two inches of powder and most of the trail was covered in ice which made the going slow, but wow the views from Black Balsam and Tennant Mtn were spectacular.  Great way to end the year for the Pisgah Nation!

Sun - off

Totals =

Time - 12hrs4min
Miles - 53.6
Vert - 11,100'

Feeling really good about this second week in the training phase although I am feeling Saturday's run even today on Tuesday as I am writing this.  The plan keeps calling for some more this week with the volume spread a bit more evenly across the week this time.  Hopefully I can recover quickly from ALTAR and will be ready to go back to full speed on Wednesday this week.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Uwharrie Training Week 1

Over the next 8 weeks, I'll be documenting my training for the Uwharrie 40 in hopes to have information in the future to see what works and doesn't work on my personal quest for a sub-7 hour finish of this race.  I believe that once I achieve said goal, I will be done with this race forever (but maybe not).  I've created my own training plan, so hopefully it works to reach my goal.  If not revisions will be needed.  First week in review detailed below:

Mon - 0hr - off

Tues - 7.5 miles/ 57 min/ 1000' - Hickory City Park - Tempo run on the mountain bike trail and greenway.

Wed - 7.2 miles/ 68 min/ 1600' - Crowders - Easy mountain run on backside, crowders, rocktop, and tower trails.

Thurs - 7.6 miles/ 65 min/ 300' - Davidson - Easy run with DART group on the Rocky Mountain Greenway.  Nice to finally meet up with this group for a run.

Fri - 5.2 miles/ 44 min/ 800' - Latta - Easy run.

Sat - 17 miles/ 2hrs55min/ 4500' - Crowders - Joined up with the Gaston County Trail runners and ran the Run to the Border route.  I tried to run comfortably hard the entire run to mimic Uwharrie pace and ran harder on the way back.  I felt great about this run and am ready to do it again at least once more before Uwharrie and try to lower the time a bit as well.

Sun -  off

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Hick City Park Splits

This page is dedicated to my own goal of setting new PR's and tracking my progress on my approx. 7.5 mile loop on the MTB trails of Hickory City Park!  Approx. vert 1000'

12/11/12 -  Total: 57:28 splits below
1st Bowl - 12:50 (12:50)
Twist/Turn - 6:14 (19:04)
2nd Bowl - 7:47 (26:52)
Lake - 9:56 (36:48)
Cove - 9:16 (46:05)
Greenway - 11:23 (57:28)

1/02/13 - Total: 57:38 splits below
1st Bowl - 12:38
Twist/Turn - 6:33 (19:11)
2nd Bowl - 8:26 (27:37)
Lake - 10:03 (37:41)
Cove - 9:08 (46:50)
Greenway - 10:48 (57:38)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Bent Creek Gobbler Report

Well, as mentioned a few post back I was trying to set a 50k PR at this year's running of the Bent Creek Gobbler.  The goal was to run 4:30 or better.  Long story short, I did not accomplish this goal, but not due to a lack of fitness.  Long story below:

It was a cold blustery morning, and the forecast said it would remain that way all day.  It did, but no worries considering 40 degrees is near ideal conditions for me.  A bit chilly, but I like it that way.  As soon as everyone had gathered for this Thanksgiving weekend tradition frolic in the woods, we set off onto South Ridge Rd, ascending steadily for a bit over a mile and then rolling the remaining 4 to 5 miles to the intersection of the Shut-In Trail.  I kept the pace comfortable and had a very lively crew with me the entire time.  I do not believe there was a single moment of silence during this stretch, so it flew by.  I reached the Shut-In in 55 minutes.  Right on schedule.

Once on the Shut-In, I began to separate from the group a bit and lead everyone through this remarkable section.  It ranks up high on the list of favorite trails.  The talkative nature of our group began to fade, but only in the slightest bit and typically only on sections of trail that required a bit more attention.  While running this section of trail, I started to feel some slight discomfort in my right hip.  I wasn't thinking much about it though as I was still moving really good, but as the trail kept on it was getting a bit more noticeable.  By the time we hit Bent Creek Gap Rd, I knew it was not in good shape and the step down hill over loose gravel for the next 1.5 miles did nothing to help things.  I had a good mind to quit after completing the first loop, but I was still on pace to get the sub 4:30.  I had reached the end of the first loop in 2:18.

And then it got painful, just a couple of miles into the second loop, I was having to stop and stretch my hip.  My psoas muscles were beginning to feel tight as well.  My pacer, Adam Hill, yea that Adam Hill, Mad A!  He is famous.  Well, he was constantly encouraging me to keep it up and keep rolling.  At the 21 mile point, with just 8 to 9 miles left to go, I was still on pace to get the sub 4:30.  All I had to do was pull it together.  But the problem was that this wasn't a fitness issue, it wasn't a bonk, it was muscles not wanting to work and the associated pain that follows.  I was wanting to call it quits and find the quickest route back to the care at this point, but the way we were heading was almost the same so I decided to go ahead and suffer and finish this thing.  I had to take some very long walking breaks, stop to stretch my hip and groin about every 10 minutes, and shuffle along some pristine single track.  Mad A stayed with me for all but the last 2 miles, when I told him to go ahead and get some actual running in.  I felt bad that he was hanging with me after my goal was out of the question, especially his PR on this route is a ridiculously fast 3:51!  But I definitely appreciated him hanging back with me and trying to help me accomplish a personal goal.

In the end I finally got to stop my watch and sit my butt in a chair in 5:05.  Not the 4:30 that I wanted, but it was still a PR.  Now some might think that my 50k PR would be quicker than that, but this is the easiest 50k I've yet done.  All others have had a minimum of 6,000 ft of gain.  This one only has around 4,000.  One day, I'll have to run an easier one, and capture a true PR, but this course will always be funner!

Helping the Hills set up their tree the night before

Gobblers & Elvis

Running with king of rock'n'roll

oh yea

That guy in the yellow shirt is famous

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Snowball Week 45

Haven't done one of these in awhile, but I figured it was time to start them back up, so here it goes.

Mon - 0hr - Drove down to Saxapahaw to see Dr. Dog in concert at the Haw River Ballroom.  Super show and an awesome venue!

Tues - 76min/ 7m/ 1500' - Uwharrie - Hannah and I headed out to these ancient hills since we were in the area (had to head back down home to vote).  Great run and Hannah got to preview half of the 8-miler course.  I always forget how technical the terrain is there.

Wed - 68min/ 7m/ 1600' - Crowders - Out and back on Turnback and Ridgeline.  Finished in the dark right before the park closed.

Thur - 48min/ 5m/ 0' - Davidson Track - Met up with Tommy to get in a speed workout.  Workout was 6x400m at 5:55min/mile pace with 400m jogging breaks in between each repeat.  This workout was great.

Fri - 0hr - Drove down to Brevard for the next day's Toxaway Twenty.  Discovered a beautiful back road route to Asheville that was just as long time wise as the typical interstate route.  Had a great time hanging out with Matt, Adam, and Isaiah.

Sat -2hrs59min/ 18.5/ 5500' - The Toxaway Twenty - What a great route this was out in Gorges State Park.  The fall colors were still lingering down low and the Foothills trail was an amazing piece of craftsmanship.  I felt really solid about my time on this run as well and was able to hang on to the fast boys for the majority of the run.

Sun - 4hrs9min/ 18/ 6000' - Snowball From Hill - Mad A and I went and explored some more of his backyard and a potential fun run for the future.  This run was just stellar.  The time was a bit slow, but I was feeling the hard effort of the prior day and made the mistake of not carrying enough calories for the run and promptly bonked a little over midway through.  We also made a video of this run.  You should check it out.

Totals =

Time - 10hrs20min
Miles - 55.5
Vert - 14,600'

Monday, October 29, 2012

Autumn Goals

After a great week of running, I am beginning to get really excited about training for some upcoming goal races in few weeks.  I am planning on trying to set two PRs in totally opposite race distances, within a week of each other.  This may seem quite foolish, but I think that it will work out if the recovery from one goes well.  So what are the two goal races?

The first one isn't officially a race, but the Bent Creek Gobbler 50k is a run that has been on my list for awhile.  I've run half of it the past two years, but have never gone for the full for various reasons.  This run is perfect for a trail 50k PR as well.  Of course there are flatter mountain courses out there, but none quite as beautiful or fun or free!  I've been trying to get my mileage back up and have been concentrating on getting a good long run in each weekend to get used to the "suffer" factor to prepare for this one.  The Gobbler will be in 4 weeks, the weekend after Thanksgiving.

Goal:  sub - 4:30:00

The second goal race, a week after a 50k, is the Mistletoe 5k.  After running my first 5k a little over a month ago, and doing better than anticipated, I set my sights on the Mistletoe as my course to set a new 5k PR.  The course is mostly slightly rolling and there isn't a big 300ft climb in the last mile (like my last 5k).  I've been concentrating lately on doing some more specific speedwork to reach my time goal and will continue doing so leading up to the race.  The speedwork will also give me a bonus in my 50k training as well!

Goal:  sub - 0:19:55

Monday, October 15, 2012

Pitchell Report


Oh well, to be honest, this was kinda expected.  The weak couple of months of training coupled with the unknown of running through the night and running 100k+ proved to do me in, along with some other issues.  The run started off well.  Brian Kistner and I ran conservatively down the Shut-In Trail in 3:55, and this section seemed to fly by.  It was the ensuing 14 mile Asheville section that really got my mind into wanting to quite.  I never really got tired all night, stayed well on my nutrition and hydration but my mind just kept telling me that it wanted to stop running.  This was way too early for having these thoughts and I almost got them out of my head once the sun rose.  But as soon as started thinking of going on, one mile from the Folk Art Center, I felt a weird pain in my achilles.  This was the nail in the coffin.  I don't think that I really injured it, but instead bruised it.  Time will tell with future runs, but so far so good on it healing.  After the DNF, I took a 5 hour nap, picked up some pizzas and drove up to Mitchell to welcome in the finishes of this craziness.  Below are some lessons I learned from my first Pitchell experience that I will take into next year.

Lessons learned:

  1. I kinda like running at night
  2. $20 dollar walmart headlamps work very well
  3. Stop eating gels, because they make me nauseous (except espresso gels occasionally)   
  4. Train more leading up to the date of Pitchell (may mean running it in the Spring)
  5. Downhill training is more valuable than uphill at this run (surprisingly)
  6. I love the Pisgah Nation crew! (nothing new)
Congratulations to Sultan, Matt, Mad A, Kevin, Tim, Wendy, Dennis, Mark, and Dave for finishing this beast of a run!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Pitchell Preview!

It has been a long time since I have posted here.  And to tell the truth, there wasn't much to post.  I've had some good runs, but nothing awesome and the weekly mileage, vert, and time on the feet has been minuscule.  A lot of this has been due to getting used to the new job and coaching the middle school cross country team, but most of it has just been a sheer lack in motivation to get out there on the trails.  I obviously feel extremely under-trained for the monumental task that lays before me at the end of the week, but hey, my cross country team is fighting for first place in our conference!  This is the second straight year that my Pitchell training has been messed up by a new school year and cross country season, but that is life.

Looking on the positive side of things though,  I have had the most successful year of running ever this year and built more of a base this winter, spring, and summer than ever before.  Although the past two months have been lack luster, I've had a few good weeks mixed in there to keep the confidence up along with a new 5k PR.  I can't discount all of that training and think that it has left me, because it hasn't.  The challenge for Pitchell is entirely the UNKNOWN.  Do I wish I was more prepared, yes, but it isn't going to matter that much in the long run.  And boy is this a long run.

My biggest concern, you could even say fear, is the unknown.  I have never run longer than 40 miles or over 10 hours.  So the 65 miles and the 18.5 hour cutoff (self imposed) is very daunting.  I also do not really have much experience with running at night.  The longest night run I have ever done lasted about 2 hours, but luckily was on the Shut In section of the course.  But still, running 7 hours through the night, maybe alone the entire time is a bit scary.  Another big question I have is how my mind is going to overcome my aching body at the Folk Art Center.  Big questions that will undoubtedly be answered come Saturday morning.

But the biggest question of all is, How could you ever be completely ready for a run that is 100% technical singletrack, involves running through 7 hours of darkness, 65 miles, 15,000 ft of vert, and travels from one iconic mountain to an even more iconic mountain?  

Monday, August 20, 2012

Real Life Begins Weeks 30, 31, 32, 33

Week 30 - Not a great week, but had some good mountain runs out on Mitchell and Black Balsam during the middle of the week.

Totals =

Time - 5.3hrs
Distance - 29.5m
Vert - 4300'

Week 31 - This was an absolute great week of a lot of slow spectacular trail running which was highlighted by GPER.  I ended up with the biggest totals on all levels of my running.

Totals =

Time - 18.8hrs
Distance - 72.9
Vert - 15200'

Week 32 - Beginning the week with an extended rest period back fired on me when life and illness took away my weekend.

Total =

Time - 2.1 hrs
Distance - 14.4
Vert - 1000'

Week 33 - Beginning the week with illness, then work, then a lack of motivation I ended up with another ridiculously lousy week of running.  Hopefully the flame will return this coming week and I can get the miles back up to Pitchell training form.

Totals =

Time - 2.5
Distance - 17
Vert - 1700'

Sorry for the lack of posting, but my life has been a whirlwind since returning from my road trip and everything is beginning to blur.  Hopefully with the return of work and an actual schedule things will get back on track.  I will have to say though that this has actually been my best summer of running to date.  It is still no where in comparison to my fall, winter, and spring month totals but I will have to consider this summer a success.  Hopefully I can build on the base of this summer and have a very productive rest of the year.  I've got 4 week to prepare for Looking Glass Look-Around.  Let the training begin!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Catching Up After Being On the Road

I had originally intended to keep up the weekly post during the road trip, but couldn't find the time associated with internet access to do so.  Therefore I am just going to throw it all up in this post.

The road trip was near perfect, other than a few mishaps with the car early on.  Hannah and I headed out from her parent's home extremely early on Jun 30th and promptly drove for about 15-16 hours to Fayetteville, AK to stay with some family friends of the Griffith's.  We wouldn't drive another day that long for the rest of the trip and thank God for that.  The next day we arrived in Albuquerque to meet our friends the Harrison's to drop off their beloved dog Luna, which was fastly becoming Hannah and myself's beloved dog as she was perfect on the long trip out there.  The next day, the fun part of the road trip would start and this is where I could begin to write a book, so to spare you the reader some time, I will direct you to my photos of the trip and just list out our destinations below.

Destinations:  Albuquerque, Flagstaff, LA, Big Bear Lake, Santa Monica, Big Sur, San Francisco, Marin Headlands, Point Reyes, Kings Canyon, Zion, Mesa Verde, Silverton (and the surrounding San Juans), Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Leadville, Buena Vista, Asheville (although not technically a part of the road trip considering this is my second home).

Below are my favorite photos of the trip and the link to the rest on my Facebook (you don't have to be a member or my friend to see them)

Volcanic Moon

Big Sur

High Sierras 




Tame Squirrel


Redwood Beauty

First Pacific Sunset


A Massive Descent

And here is the link to the rest:  Road Trip '12

I would like to extend some "thank you's" to those that helped make this road trip happen:  The support of the Griffith family and my family, the Ronk's who let us crash their pad in AK, Sam and Tricia who let us crash their pad ans chauffeured us around LA, the Harrison's who let us crash their pad in Leadville and chauffeured us around the Sawatch Mountains, the Hill's who let us crash their pad and offered the greatest homecoming welcome we could have, the random mechanic in NM that fixed my broken AC belt, the Meinike in Flagstaff that fixed all of my belts and got the car back into fine shape, the Civic of course, the super comfy Coleman airmattress that I slept like a baby on, the "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives" website for directing us to tasty places to eat that weren't Subway, Subway (it was inevitiable), the Nation Park Service, the USFS, CA State Parks, and the US Buerea of Land Management for scenic places to explore and camp at minimal to no cost, KOA for charging us about $30 for pretty much just a shower that we only used once at the three we stayed at during the trip, Hannah for being an exellent co-piolet (how chessy is that? haha), and lastly God for keeping us safe and from killing each other since we had no radio/cd player for all but 3 days of the trip (which were the first 3 days). 

And finally a review on the running.  I can fully say that I have a total lack of confidence in my fitness right now.  I can still go push out massivly long days on the legs, but I have zero pep in those legs and have almost completely lost all form of speed.  I didn't really care about this much while doing runs on the road trip as they were meant to be relaxed endevors and more on the side of fast hiking, but upon my return to Asheville, I cranked out consecutivly slow runs and that was colminated with a ridiculously slow run in Greensboro yesterday.  When you are on relativly flat trails and can only average a 10 minute mile comfortably when you could crank out 8's comfortably on that same bit of trail a few months ago, you know something is wrong.  Most likely this is due to the fact that I have hardly done any speedwork if any in the past 6 months.  There is no doubt that I have a solid base of miles on the legs, but it is time work some speed back into them and that will be my goal leading up to my big fall plans.  I mean I love being out in the woods for a long time, but I would rather not carry those runs into the night if possible.  So anyway, below is each weeks total.

Week 26:  Time: 8hrs40min    Distance: 38m      Vert: 7,550'
Week 27:  Time: 12hrs20min  Distance: 44.6m   Vert: 12,850'
Week 28:  Time: 12hrs           Distance: 39.5m   Vert: 13,500'
Week 29:  Time: 9hrs6min      Distance: 52.1m   Vert: 9,700'

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

sWEaTfest Week XXV

Mon - 0hr

Tues - 0hr - thought an extra day of rest would be good

Wed - 47min/ 5.5m/ 500' - Fisher Farm - Started the run at a pretty quick pace considering the quickly fading daylight.  After about 2 miles though, I hit a heat wall.  I have never felt heat like that in my life.  The air was completely stagnant, humid, and temps were right at 90.  Obviously my pace slowed considerably.  I really can't wait for this heat to be done with.

Thurs - 80min/ 7.9m/ 1600' - SoMo - It was really hot and I walked a bit, shuffled a bit, and did something close to running for a bit, before I sat my butt in the river for a bit.  Route was: HQ, Upper Falls, Shiney, HQ, River out-n-back.

Fri - 70min/ 4.5m/ 1700' - Thorps Creek Loop - Jose and I decided to get in a run from the Mortimer campground before the sWEaTfest tomorrow.  This run was steep and overgrown! Extremely overgrown!! It resembled more of a bushwack than a run, but it was neat to finally run up on Schoolhouse Ridge and to see Thorps Creek Falls at the end.

Sat - 4hr/ 15.8/ 4500' - Wilson Creek sWEaTfest - This route was a new fun run I am putting on with the WNC Trail Runner group and it was exactly as advertised!  More info on this blast of a run below...

Sun - Hiked up to the Green Knob fire tower with the Kirk's to camp out for the night before Matt and I's run up Mitchell in the morning.

Totals =

Time - 7hr17min
Distance - 34 miles
Vert - 8500'

Oh well, with a ridiculously hot week and the summertime running blues, the week got off to a slow start, and even once I started running again it was slow.  In the end it all worked out though and I am satisfied with the week.  I managed a lot of vertical and almost racked up 8 hours for the week.  This year's inaugural running of the Wilson Creek sWEaTfest was a great success and everyone seemed to love the route.  My run was marked by flat legs the entire day, but the nature of this run makes it easy for most people to relax and run with a group.  The group I was with most of the day was Jose, Matt, Scott, and Josh.  We all summited Little Lost Cove Cliffs around the same time and hung with each other most of the way down to Bard Falls.  We missed N Harper Falls, oh well.  We all jumped into the refreshing waters of N. Harper Creek, had a blast cooling off from the heat and then kept on running after the cold water made my legs stiff as boards.  It was pretty slow going for me after that point and after frolicking around in Harper Creek falls, the last mile to the car was excruciating.  My legs were cramping and it was hot.  Even though the body didn't want to go after the dips in the creek, this run went off perfectly and I believe that this one is going to become a regular on the Wikispace for the first weekend of summer.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Summer Drag Week XXIV

Mon - 0hr

Tues - 68min/ 7.5m/ 1800' - SoMo (south mountains) - Headed up past Upper Shoals Falls, trying to run as much of the wet steps and rocks as possible.  Once I reached the main Upper Falls Trail, I began incorporating a ridgeline fartlek.  This involves running all the uphills hard at slightly faster than tempo pace, and then relaxing at recovery pace on the downhills and flats.  This workout kinda combines hills repeats and fartlek running because the hills are variable. After doing that over the two miles of Upper Falls trail, I turned down Shiny Trail and descended back down to the car.  The goal was to hammer it down, but the legs weren't turning over quite right so I backed off and just ran all the ups hard.  Soaked the legs in the Jacob Fork River afterwards and about stepped on a snake when I was getting out.  

Wed - 70min/ 7m/ 1500' - Crowders - It was hot!  Went up Pinnacle via Turnback & Pinnacle.  Did a short  half mile out and back on Ridgeline and decided it was too hot to climb back up that.  Returned to the visitor center by Pinnacle, then did the loops of Fern and Lake to finish off the day.  Wasn't feeling great today, but that was attributed to the heat and yesterdays hard effort.  Hannah and I grilled out steaks at the park afterwards.  It was a nice day, other than the heat.

Thurs - 48min/ 5.1m/ 0' - Maiden Track - I wasn't really feeling like traveling to get to a trail, so I opted to head out to the Maiden High School track right down the road to do some much neglected speedwork.  Warmed up with 1.3 miles barefoot on the grass then did four 800's with 400 rest jogs in between.  I tried to be quicker on each successive lap trying to reach a 3:05 last 800.  That didn't really happen although I did get faster on each lap.  The times were as follows:  3:35, 3:27, 3:17, 3:12.  I guess my legs just aren't used to producing any speed in them anymore.  Just 6 months ago I was doing consecutive sub 3 800's.  Oh well, it's been awhile and the body is still feeling a bit weak.  Really got to start working speed back into the training.

Fri - 0hr - lazy

Sat - 1hr49min/ 11.5m/ 1500' - Lake Norman - The legs were really not popping today and the whole run felt like a drag.  Ran all of Laurel Trail and then finished the day with ~2 miles on the Hawk Loop.  No pop at all.

Sun -  72min/ 8m/ 500' - Triple Lakes - Was planning on running 15ish mile figure 8 loop up on the watershed trails in Greensboro before heading back home, finishing the last 7 with a headlamp, but the looming 2 hour drive and the late hour deterred me from doing so.  I felt better than yesterday, but this run was a bit frustrating.   My pace didn't seem in tune with my effort level.  Maybe it was just the heat and the low light conditions?  Either way, kinda disappointed.

Totals =

Time - 6hrs7min
Distance - 39.1 miles
Vert -   5300'

The feeling of fatigue has mostly subsided and now all tiredness feels directly related to the heat and humidity.  I really do not see how the majority of people like running in the summer so much.  I'll take sub 60 degree temps almost all year round.  My running average of 8 hours a week has finally gotten into the 7's and its hard to perceive getting out of the 7's during the summer, unless you are about to head out to the Rockies and the Sierras in couple of weeks!  And I will be!  Hopefully, I'll be getting plenty of time on my feet while on this 3 week road trip.  I'll be posting a pre-road trip post in the coming weeks outlining the plans, but I'll give you just hint of a few running destinations that are planned which are:  La Luz, Marin Headlands, Kings Canyon, Zion, San Juans, Sawatch, and more.  Hopefully, I'll acclimate well once we get out there and to help with that I have a few runs planned the week prior to our departure that will get me about as high (elevation wise) as I can in the Apps and include some big, long, continuous climbing.  It is going to be hot through.   

Monday, June 11, 2012

Lethargic Week XXIII

Mon - 0hr

Tues - 60min/ 6.5m/ 600' - MST/ Azalea Park - Nice easy effort run with Mad A on the MST in Asheville and then finished it out with about 1.5m barefoot on the grass.  Took a quick jump in the Swannanoa during the run as well.

Wed - 0hr - just feeling really lethargic today

Thurs - 70min/ 5.9m/ 800' - Lake Shore - Felt like I could barely pick up my feet on this run.  Feeling just plain lethargic.

Fri - 0hr - I have come to terms that I am a slug this week.

Sat - 3hr6min/ ~16m/ 3300' - HAROC - After being a complete slug most of the week I thought I should redeem myself and run to all 3 peaks in Hanging Rock State Park from the bottom of the park.  This was the fitness challenge I was contemplating while working at the park last summer.  More on this one below.

Sun - 0hr

Totals =

Time - 5hr16min
Distance - 28.4m
Vert - 4700'
Barefoot - 1.5m

Week in Review

I don't know if I am just generally fatigued from running 3 marathon effort runs in the past 6 weeks or if I have contracted some fatigue inducing disease (lyme disease?), but I felt just plan out weak and lethargic this whole week.  If this carries into next week I might be going to the doc to check things out.  My goal to average 8 hours a week of running this year is starting to dwindle.

Hanging Rock Run

The route I had selected to attempt today was one I have had in the back of my mind for sometime now.  I had always wanted to run to each peak in Hanging Rock State Park in one push and the thought of running it  from Tory's Den at the bottom of the mountain sounded like even more of a challenge.  So after reluctantly waking up late Saturday morning I headed off to the park to attempt this route.  I was wanting to get up earlier, but a late night wasn't going to allow that and it looked like I would be running this in the heat of the day.  I had only one bottle with me, but there were chances to fill up at Moore's Springs (3.5m) and the visitor center (10m).  The first two summits, Cook's Wall and Hanging Rock, more or less came and went as I navigated through small boulders, rocks, roots, and throngs of people.  I must have undoubtedly pissed a few people off.  After I made it down to the visitor center, I stopped by the lake to say hi to some former coworkers I had last year and then began to climb up to the last summit of the day, Moore's Knob, the highest point in the park and the Sauratown Mountains.  The heat had finally caught up to me and what started as a slow jog up the stairs soon deteriorated into a death march to reach the fire tower up on the summit.  I think it took me about 30 minutes to cover those 2.2 miles and near 1000' of gain.  This well of my PR on this ascent, which I believe is just about 20 minutes.  At the top, my energy was gone and even the stinger waffle I just scarfed down did nothing to revive me as I descended one of the most technical downhill sections of trail I've ever been on.  It is right on par with the infamous West Ridge Trail and the rock garden section of the AT coming off Hump Mtn.  I slowly stumbled down the trail, finally reaching Tory's Den Trail to finish the day off.  It definitely hurt and I can't wait to lower my time on the route, as see other people take on the challenge.  I would advise doing so in cooler weather though.  Here is a link to the page for this awesome challenge:  HAROC.  Let's lower that time now people!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Roan Redemption

Rarely do things go almost exactly to plan, it is inevitable.  But once in awhile it seems like the planets align and everything falls into place.  That is what happened this past Saturday at the Roan Adventure Marathon.  To begin with, the weather looked to be perfect.  I usually have a rougher time running in temperatures above 75 degrees for long distances and the weather Saturday maybe reached 60 degrees at the most.  Last year, temperatures soared over 80 and my body did not react well to it as explained earlier this week.  Secondly, last year's nutrition plan was a disaster, this year's much better.  Below is the story of how it all went down.

Night Before

After chilling in the foothills most of the day, I packed everything up and drove over to Roan Mountain State Park to set up camp for the night.  I wasn't sure of how many people were going to camp as the weather was looking iffy, but in the end the total amount of campers were five.  Carin, Sharron, Kevin, Sultan, and myself had a good time chatting and relaxing around the fire in the cool, damp night air.  I cooked myself up some bratwurst, had a few IPA's, and was latter treated to some raw milk chai tea from Kevin before I called it a night.

Early Morning

After a pretty good nights sleep, I woke around 5:40 and began to break down camp.  Kevin was cooking up some farm fresh eggs and coffee as the milky light of dawn began to creep over the Roan Mountain massif.  Down in the valley, the temps were in the lower 50's without much of a breeze, but that would not be the case up at Carver's Gap, the start of the day's adventure.  Upon steeping out of the car the wind began to howl and it was a blustery 39 degrees.  I reluctantly put on my gloves knowing that I would be taking them off in a few miles as my body warmed up, but my poor digits were freezing at that moment.  Everyone was up there shivering right along with me though and getting very anxious to get moving while we took a few pre-run photos.  I hadn't worn so much clothing since January!  Although, it was just arm warmers and gloves (along with the usual T and shorts I might add).

And We're Off

Sultan shouted "GO" and everyone took off to warm up their bodies on the next half mile climb up to the top of Round Bald.  Upon reaching the first exposed summit of the day, the fog was still lingering and would remain that way all the way to the turn-around ~15 miles away at 19E.  This doesn't mean that the terrain we were all crossing wasn't beautiful, but just a different beauty that I imagined it most be like to run through the British fells.  Mike Jackson and I more or less hung with each other all the way to the summit of Hump Mtn through the first 9.5 miles of the day.  Mike would pull ahead on the climbs  and I would then pull ahead on the descents as Mike was nursing a strained ankle.  The last 5.5 miles of the out portion of the run were all downhill and I put a decent gap on Mike at the turn-around.  That wouldn't be the last I would see of Mike though.  The guy is a machine when it comes to climbing!  With all the rain the mountain had received the past two days though, the extremely technical rock garden section of the descent was very slow going.  But upon reaching Doll Flats the trail gets buffed out and I was cruising.  I made it to the turn-around in 2:38.  Three minutes slower than last year at the same point, but I was feeling much better. 

The Real Work Begins

After refilling my two bottles with a mix of coconut water and regular H2O and resupplying my pockets with some gels and waffles I hit the trail again with a powerful stride.  I usually don'f feel this fresh this far into a run and I began to change my strategy for climbing back up to Hump.  I decided to run all the grades that were 5% or less and speed hike the rest.  Overall, I would say I ran maybe a little more than half of the 5.5 mile ascent.  Unlike a couple hours earlier, once a reached the grassy Houston Ridge approaching Hump the sky had finally opened up and the views were breathtaking.  The next mile to mile and a half were all exposed up and over the majestic Hump Mtn.  Reaching the summit I literally was screaming praise for the mountain and its Creator.  Looking down onto Bradley Gap and Little Hump was mesmerizing and I was twisting my ankle quite frequently coming down the trail.  Surprisingly, Mike had not caught me coming up Hump as I thought he would and I was soon thinking that I may not see him for the rest of the run.  After topping my bottles off at Bradley Gap, I climbed up to my much loved Little Hump and began to run into the day hiking crowd.  The descent down into Yellow Mtn Gap was a thrill as always, but the gap marks the beginning of my most dreaded climb of the day, the climb up to the side of Grassy Ridge.  There is just something about that climb I don't like, but that may be due to the fact that I am always approaching it at least 2 hours into a run.  It isn't horribly steep since the addition of a few generous switchbacks a couple of years back, but I still can't move up it well.  Although, today had to have been my best ascent of it yet!  That didn't stop Mike from finally passing me though about a mile left into the climb.  He just came out of nowhere and promptly left me in the dust.  Needless to say I felt quit demoralized, but upon looking at my watch I was still on pace to finish in under 6 hours.  I really started to dig deep and started setting time goals of reaching certain landmarks to make it happen.  I knew that if I made it to the top of this climb by the time the clock ticked 5:40 I could make it if I pushed it from there on.  The first time goal was achieved and once I reached the top, even the tourist could see my determination.  They said, "You look serious" and I responded "I'm on a mission."  I know, how cheesy is that! Haha, but it was the truth.  I began to sprint down the extremely rocky face of Jane Bald in hopes of catching Mike.  I was yelling "Excuse me!" to the throngs of sight-seers in my way.  I really felt like a douche during this moment, but I wasn't going to let anyone stand in my way of reaching the sub 6 hour finish!  The trail soon turned up to Round Bald and I knew that if I made it to the summit by 5:54 into the run that I could make it down to Carver's Gap in under 6 hours.  After having to step off the trail to let a big group of hikers by, I reached the sign that marks the apex of the final climb 30 seconds behind schedule and so I started sprinting the final graveled downhill half mile to the road.  Luckily there were not many hikers on this last stretch and once I reached the opening just a stones throw away from the road, my eyes began to water up a bit.  I looked down at the watch and it read 5:58:00!  After all I had gone through last year during this run, thinking that I was going to nearly die, I stepped down onto the pavement, hit stop, and finished the run that may mean more to me than any other I have ever run in 5:58:25.  After everything seemed to go wrong last year, everything seemed to go right this time around, and I accomplished my goal of sub 6.  I've never felt more satisfied with a run in my life.


After letting my accomplishment set in for a few minutes, I located my other sub 6 finishers: Scott (5:23), Kevin (5:33), and Mike (5:54) and started celebrating.  Kevin cooked up a humongous pot of spaghetti and made up my remaining bratwurst.  Everyone that came off the trail in the next couple of hours had a huge grin on their faces and wide eyes upon gazing at the huge pot of spaghetti.  What a great time this year's Roan Adventure Marathon was!

Pics below by Isaiah Mosteller and Charlie Roberts

the crew

Bradley Gap in the fog


View of Little Hump (the higher peak behind the grassy one) from Hump

View of Round Bald and Roan Mtn from Jane Bald

Houston Ridge

View of Hump from Bradley Gap

Monday, June 4, 2012

RAMtastic Week XXII

Mon - 1hr/ 7m/ 600' - Monbo Trail - A sticky, hot run in LNSP.  My body felt horrible gastrointestinally and it was kind of a struggle to keep running but I did and promptly felt worse afterward.  Nothing a jump in the lake and some Maalox can't fix I guess.

Tues - 75min/ 7.5m/ 2200' - South Mountains - Since the days have grown longer and it had rained much of the day, keeping the temperatures relatively low, but still quite humid, I decided to drive a little extra today to go get a run in at South Mountains State Park.  The route today was: H.Q., Possum, Horseridge, Sawtooth, Chestnut Knob.  The rain held off and the sun poked out briefly to reveal some beautiful views of the Jacob Fork River Gorge.  The park isn't too far from my house, considering how far I have to drive to get anywhere else to run around here, so I might make it a bi-weekly affair from now on to visit the state's largest park.  

Wed - 0hr

Thurs - 28min/ 3m/ 400' - Lake Shore Trail - Had a really bad headache so I decided to cut this planned short run, short.

Fri - 0hr - Traveling and camping at Roan Mountain State Park in preparation of RAM tomorrow

Sat - 5hr58min/ ~30m/ 7500' - RAM - Wow!  Special report on this one coming later in the week!

Sun - 0hr

Totals =

Time - 8hrs41min
Distance - 47.5m
Vert - 10,700'

The week leading up to RAM was not the greatest in the world but it sure worked out once Saturday rolled around!  What you will want to read is coming soon!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Looking Back and Forward to RAM

This is the one!  The run that lured me into joining the WNC Trail Runner crew almost two years ago.  The run that takes place on my favorite section of the AT and maybe my favorite section of trail period.  It's RAM (Roan Adventure Marathon)!!!!  I hadn't looked forward to a run with as much excitement and nerves as my own inaugural running of RAM last year.  This was the run I had been waiting for since I joined the crew.  I had ambitions of running this one in sub 6 hours last year and even after the first half of the run I was on pace and feeling pretty good about my body.  I had just run the first 14 miles with Scott (a much more talented runner than I) and came into the aid at US 19E in 2:30.  I was right on schedule.  But all of that confidence was about to go by the wayside.

The next 5.5 miles were all up uphill, 2500' to the gorgeous and exposed summit of Hump Mtn.  After fueling up at the aid station, I began to run back up the mountain.   I was feeling pretty strong at this point and ran most of the way up to Doll Flats about 3 miles up the trail, but it was getting really hot.  This is where things began to go horribly wrong.  I realized that I had already drained a full bottle and was already tapping into my second with another 7 miles to my next reliable water source at Yellow Mtn Gap.  So, I refilled at the spring off the beaten path at Doll Flats and then took a Vanilla Hammer Gel.  Let me give you a bit of background on this gel.  This gel had been sitting in my car for well over a month, maybe two, baking in the hot sun.  I'm no scientist, but there is no doubt in my mind that something that has been getting super heated and cooled for the past two months probably shouldn't be ingested.  But hey, the expiration date wasn't for another 6 months.  Almost immediately my stomach began to turn south and running was making me nauseous.  Even power hiking had me feeling the same way and the majority of the last two miles is a gentler grade.  I slowly walked up to the top of Hump, briefly joined by my friend Damian, who wasn't feeling much better, and then summited the mountain for the second time that day.  And you know what, things were looking up!  My stomach was beginning to feel back to normal. 

I stumbled/ran down to Bradley Gap and then began my climb to Little Hump.  The heat of the day had me hiking, but I was making good enough time.  Once I reached the summit of this "little" mountain, I partook again in another Vanilla Hammer Gel, and guess what, this one had been sitting in the car too for just as long as the other.  Almost exactly after taking it down, the stomach went south again.  I had to walk down this mountain the pain was so bad and my kidneys began hurt in a way I had never felt before in my life.  By this point, I had realized that the gels were to blame, but it was a little to late.  I thus began my death march. 

Things were getting progressively worse as I went own and was soon caught by Damian once more shortly after Yellow Mtn Gap.  He still wasn't feeling good either and I believe we were both happy to have someone to share our sufferings with as we crawled up the side of Grassy Ridge.  At one point I sat down and began to give Damian instructions on getting someone to come save me once he reached Carver's Gap, but I believe he was thinking to ask me the same thing.  I believe it was a telepathic decision to stick with each other until one of us fell by the wayside.  After climbing for what seemed an eternity, we reached the side of Grassy and at the intersection of the side trail that leads to its summit we came across a trickle of muddy water bisecting the trail.  Both of us had drained both our bottles by this point and Damian only used the water to cool off with and dared not drink it, but was much relieved by its sight.  I on the other hand stuck my face down into the puddle and began lapping up the water like the Black Lab that was just there.  I didn't care, I was extremely dehydrated, hot, and my kidney's seemed to be in utter failure.  I drank from that murky water like I had been stranded in the Sahara for days.  Thoughts of obtaining any water born illnesses did not matter at this point as they wouldn't rare their heads for at least a few more weeks.  In my mind, this was life or death.  By the way, I might add we were only 2 miles from the finish.  I was that desperate!

With the end in sight, literally, and my thirst quenched, I began to shuffle back down to Carvers Gap.  It was slow going and the last downhill the kidneys flared back up and I began to walk down the gravel singletrack with Damian only to be caught by Doug with a bag of tortilla chips in hand and a huge grin on his face.  We all stepped onto the tarmac together in 7:35 and I began to lay in the hot sun on the asphalt parking lot.  I was in an enormous amount of pain and was soon given cold towels to put on my body and sea salt chips that I slowly nibbled on for the next few minutes.  I stayed like that for the next 30 minutes contemplating if I was going to need to be rushed to the hospital and how it took me FIVE HOURS to run 14 miles!  Anyway, I soon recovered and was able to down a beer and then cheer on the remaining runners as they came in until we left.  The heat, the bad gels, and the terrain had gotten the best of me and truly humbled and scared the crap out of me.  I couldn't wait to get back out there and do it again though.

Fast forward to today, and the run is only 3 days away!  The goal of sub 6 hours has been reinstated as the weather this year doesn't look to climb out of the 60's.  I had completely thrown this goal out the window after last year's sufferfest, but I believe the cooler weather, along with GOOD gels and solid food, as well as a years experience will make this goal achievable.  I still plan on trying to reach the turnaround in 2:30 as I did it last year comfortably and plan to walk most of the way up to Doll Flats and then run the more runnable remaining section up to Hump.  I believe this will result in a sub 6 finish, but in reality, as long as I don't have a repeat of last year's run, these Golden Calves will be extremely happy!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Beat Week XXI

Mon - 50min/ 2.1m/ 300' - Crowders - Hiking experience for two students at my school.  Fun little outing with some mild bouldering (kid appropriate).

Tues - 0hr

Wed - 2hr24min/ 13.5m/ 3200' - Crowders - An out and back to the boulders overlook on Ridgeline from the visitor center.  Felt extremely crappy today and was just pushing myself to keep running at times.

Thus - 45min/ 4.5m/ 1000' - MST - Out and back to Tom's Creek from Woodlawn.  Was planning on doing a loop with the Harris Creek Horse Trail, but my legs and hips were not cooperating after yesterday's run.  I didn't have too much time to do that loop and at the rate I was going there was no way I would be doing an 8 mile loop in about an hour.

Fri - 0hr - driving to the beach after work, so no running although I had a bit of time.  It was too hot anyway. 90+

Sat - 45min/ 6.2m/ 20' - Oak Island - Nice half road half beach run with Stephen.  Ended this run with a recreation scene from Rocky 3!  It had some beach goers looking at us pretty weird. Haha!!

Sun - 0hr - pure laziness and wanting to rest up some more for RAM this coming Saturday!

Totals =

Time - 4hrs44min
Distance - 26.3m
Vert - 4520'

Well this week goes down as another dud, as the body was just not feeling it and life was getting in the way.  Instead of trying to force getting the time in for the week, I decided to relax and let my body recover down at the coast.  Funny how each of the weeks before I have gone to the beach this year has resulted in very poor weeks of running.  Strange.  Anyway, enjoy this vid of what Stephen and I recreated after our run on Saturday.  Mainly just to last bit of this montage.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Assault on Week XX

Mon - 0hr

Tues - 60min/ 6m/ 1300' - Crowders - Took it easy on this Crowder Mtn loop.

Wed - 50min/ 5m/ 300' - Poston Park - Felt really sluggish on the trail, so jumped off after 3 miles and finished the day with 2m barefoot on the fields.

Thurs - 45min/ 5m/ 300' - Davidson XC - just an easy run on the 8k course with Hannah.

Fri - 0hr - Preparing and driving to Asheville to attempt the Assault on Mt. Pisgah Marathon tomorrow!

Sat - 4hr54min/ 26m/ 5500' - Assault on Pisgah - Awesome course and felt really good!  More below...

Sun - 75min/ 7m/ 2000' - Eden Rock - Just a spectacular run on the Rock2Rock course with Adam this morning.  I climbed pretty well considering what I had just done the day before.

Totals =

Time - 8hr44min
Distance - 49m
Vert - 9400'
Barefoot - 2m

What an extraordinary loop Mad A has put together for the May Mountain Marathon, a.k.a "Assault on Pisgah."  I cannot say enough about how awesome this route is!  Due to extenuating circumstances, Hannah and I were not going to be able to join the WNC crew for this run next weekend so we decided to jump the gun and do it this weekend.  This was also to be Hannah's first marathon.  How about that!  The girl decided that for her first marathon she would practically run a "sky marathon."  Which I could say the same thing about myself.  Anyway, we started around 9:50 and began steadily climbing up Yellow Gap trail only to descend back down to the N. Mills River and follow it to one of the best trails I have ever stepped foot on, the Big Creek Trail.  This 5 mile trail gains about 2300' and all but 300' of that climb is gained in the last 2!  I decided to take it easy on the way up to Pisgah and didn't ever really push myself the entire climb which lead me to feeling great.  I made it to the Pisgah parking area in 2:25 and then waited for Hannah to join me for the last 1.5m, 700', super technical climb to the top of Mt. Pisgah.  After soaking in the views for a few minutes, I gave a kiss goodbye to the "Pisgah Nymph" and headed back down the mountain to join the Laurel Mtn Trail only to run into about 100 mtn bikers ascending the same trail.  I was feeling pretty well the entire descent, but I had to pull of the trail to let a biker go through about every 2 minutes.  That got really old, very fast.  Soon enough, I hit Yellow Gap Rd. and started clicking of 7 minute miles for the last three miles back down the car and some Shiva soaking in the creek.  I felt extremely well considering I had just ran downhill for the last 13.5 miles and sat down and read some John Muir while waiting for Hannah to finish  her first marathon, which she did and she feels very satisfied with it.  Now, to recover and prepare for RAM in a couple of weeks.  That one is going to hurt!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Everything Else is Secondary

"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.  Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves." - John Muir

If there ever were the need for a reason why I run, this eloquent quote would sum it up for me.  This topic has seemed to hit a button in the spectacle side of the ultra world lately due to some, if you must say, brash articles and intuitive interviews.  This brash, and brilliant I might add, article has really been the main focus of a lot of aggression towards the young author.  The "scene" has begun to grumble of his supposed  immaturity and seemingly contradictory manner as to what he writes and how he lives.  But I see exactly where he is coming from and it doesn't seem immature and I see little to no contradiction in his words and his actions.  All that the author is trying to convey in my opinion is that no matter what "hype" may be created organically or commercially, running is running, and we shouldn't lose focus on what really draws us to such a ludicrous activity.   Although I love looking at race reports, checking out new shoes that are hitting the market, religiously follow running blogs of friends and elites, that is not what makes me want to run.  That is completely secondary and an almost entirely unnecessary part of it all.  I run for many reasons, but mostly I run for its transcendent qualities of being in and around Nature.  Throughout each day I hear a calm, but demanding voice calling me to the mountains.  When I gaze upon a lofty summit, the urge to climb its precipice is so immensely strong that I feel I have done myself and the mountain a disservice by letting it be, untouched by my feet, its grand view not to be seen by my eyes.  It feels wrong at the same time to run past an unknown path or trail that looks so inviting, no telling the grandeur it may hold.  In this way, running ultras is the gateway that allows me to explore and be a part of something bigger than myself and doing so in a manageable amount of time.  I believe and hope that this is what drives most in the ultra community to take part in this enthralling activity.  Everything else is secondary.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Foot Ache Week XIX

Mon - 0hr

Tues - 80min/ 7.4m/ 1700' - Crowders - Easy effort out and back on Ridgleline with a Pinnacle Summit.  What I think is a neuroma in my foot was really acting up today, so I called the run a bit short.  Also, I completely wiped  out coming down Turnback and scrapped the elbow and knee pretty good, but nothing other than some trail love.  Every time I fall, I just can't help but laugh at myself.

Wed - 80min/ 6.5m/ 1200' - Poston Park - First time visiting this park and I spent an exceptional amount of time exploring the Spencer Mtn section of trails.  Went up the powerline cut first to the summit which was a scramble most of the way.  400' of vert in a quarter mile!  After walking up and then back down that, I discovered an actual trail that eventually did take me near the top of Spencer.  This trail was really tight singletrack, but was a joy grunting up.  I didn't even get to run the majority of the mountain bike trails out there, that are from what I hear pretty up and down as well.  I spent the last 12min of the day running around the soccer fields in the park barefoot.  Apparently this can help alleviate neuromas and it does help improve your form.  I'll probably try to get out for some barefoot miles at least twice a week from now on.

Thurs - 0hr - Had to attend an afterschool function.

Fri - 75min/ 9m/ 350' - Tanglewood Park - With my foot still feeling pretty horible, I decided to take a break from the technical trail side of running and hit up on old favorite of mine near Winston-Salem as I headed back home for Mother's Day weekend.  Did my typical 7.5m route that is basically the horse trail loop with a bit of an extension (road) at the northern end.  Finished the day off on the soccer fields barefoot for 1.5m.  I ran at this park about 3 times a week when I was student teaching in Mocksville this past fall.  I love this place, but it's really too flat for me

Sat - 2hr40min/ 20m/ 1250' - Watershed Trails - Met up with the cuz Stepheno and me friend Jeremy for a 20 mile juant around Lake Brandt and Lake Townsend.  I felt great today and ran a stellar time.  Jeremy had us really pushing the pace on the Piedmont trail.  The weather was perfect as well.  I love these trails.  Route was as follows:  Nat Greene, Owl's Roost, Piedmont, Laurel Bluff, Reedy Fork.

Sun - 91min/ 10.5/ 500' - Davidson XC - A really nice enjoyable wet run in Davidson.  1 mile of barefoot near the end of the run on the fields.

Totals =

Time - 8hr6min
Miles - 53.4
Vert - 5000'
Barefoot - 4m

 Not a whole lot of exciting stuff happened this week other than discovering another new park in the area with elevation and having two stellar weekend runs.  The nueroma on my foot was really acting up badly earlier in the week and I finally started to do something for it.  That would include zero running in my narrow Nike Zoom Streaks (which I love by the way, but most be the root of the problem) and trying to get in some barefoot on the grass mileage in.  The reasoning behind this is that the neuroma gets inflammed when the 3rd and 4th metetarsals get scrunched together so narrow shoes are bad and barefooting it means there is no pressure on the toes.  I believe that it is working out quite well as my foot has porgressivly hurt less since implementing this strategy.  Anyway, looking forward to next weekend's Assualt on Mt Pisgah!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Muchos Cruces de los Ríos Week XVIII

Mon - 0hr

Tues - 70min/ 8m/ 1000' - Itusi Trail - LNSP - combo of the Laurel and Hawk Trails

Wed - 30min/ 3.7m/ 200' - Davidson XC Trails - easy effort with about 3/4 mile of barefoot at the end.

Thurs - 70min/ 7.5m/ 1000' - Riverbend Park - first run at this super sweet park.  A lot of ups and downs on plush double track with some technical singletrack thrown in randomly.

Fri - 52min/ 6.2m/ 800' - Warren Wilson - With Mad A running along the river trail to connect with the Jones Mtn trails.  Climb up and down Jones in the middle.  Nice soak in the Swannanoa afterwards.

Sat - 5hr20min/ 23m/ 3000' - Cinco De Mayo Sombrero Extravaganza - What a day.  Took way longer than expected on trails that were unexpected.  More info below.

Sun - 0hr

Totals =

Time - 9hrs
Distance - 48.4m
Vert - 6000'

Saturday's run was quite a blast.  It was wet, wild, and confusing!  The loop that Tim had designed for us to run while celebrating Mexican Independence looked like a nice and easy loop with nominal vert and plenty of places to cool of in if the temps got a bit too hot.  Let me tell you, there were more than enough river crossings!  But I really didn't mind them.  I actually enjoyed the cool flowing waters of the S. Mills river as it provided a walking break and cleaned my shoes of all the muck I was dragging them through most of the day.   The loop out of Turkey Pen was as follows: Bradley Creek, Riverside, Bradley Creek, Laurel Creek, Squirrel Gap, S. Mills River.  I had been studying the route for most of the week and had all the turns memorized so I wouldn't have to bring a map with me as I figured any written directions/map would immediately be ruined by one slip crossing the river.  So, after running the first 13 miles with the Grand Kirk, through numerous river crossings, pastoral fields, and rolling singletrack,  we began to separate down the final switchbacks of the Squirrel Gap trail to the South Mills River.  This is where things got really interesting.  At this intersection there is a bridge that crosses the river and a path, a well worn path at that, that leads to the right after the bridge and begins a gentle switchbacking climb.  This is the S. Mills River trail, the trail that we are supposed to take to get back to our cars at Turkey Pen.  But, this trail is going upstream, not down as the directions and map had shown.  I thoroughly remember that we were supposed to take a left onto the S. Mills River trail, not a right.  But I followed the path of least resistance and my compadre's footprints up the switchbacks until I ran into some bikers and asked these two questions.  One of which my compadre's seemed to have forgotten to ask the same folks.  Here is the conversation:

Me: "Is this the S. Mills River Trail?"
Biker:  "Sure is!"
Me:  "If I were wanting to get back to the Turkey Pen Trailhead, do I go the way I am going, or the opposite way?"
Biker:  "The way you are going is to Buckhorn Gap, you need to go back down and find the trail to the left after the bridge."
Me:  "Awesome, I thought that this seemed wrong."
Biker:  "Are you with a group of other runners?  They passed by us about a mile up ahead."
Me:  "Yep, sure am!"
Biker: "Well they are heading up to Buckhorn Gap."
Me:  " Yep, they're screwed."

Well, that may haven't been the exact conversation, but close enough.  Either way, Tim and Scott were way of course and were in for quite the return trip once they realized their mistake.  By the way, I would like to add that Tim designed this course!  Haha.  Anyway, I went back to the bridge and still couldn't find the trail going downstream.  I looked at a hikers map and after seeing a shadowy figure pass by across the river bank, I found the trail.  It was completely overgrown in doghobble and full of mud.  In order that Hannah not get lost as did the others, I began making a sign in the trail to point her in the right direction.  Hannah later told me that it was a beauty and she knew immediately that it came from my hands.  So, after spending probably 30 minutes trying to figure out were the trail was and then marking the intersection, I began running again, well sort of.  Actually, I was pretty tired, the trail was extremely muddy and it crossed the river a dozen or so times over the next 4-5 miles.  I proceeded to walk most of this section until the S. Mills River trail that I knew emerged from this sorry excuse for a trail.  I was also nervous in wondering if Hannah would find my sign or not, and my heart rate was out of whack from it, making running through mud less of a desire.  This trail was taking its toll on me and it was all practically flat.

Oh well, I finished and Hannah finished.  And I found out that the shadowy figure that showed me the trail was the Grand Kirk himself, realizing as I did, after taking the wrong turn for awhile, that the trail is supposed to go downriver.  Tim and Scott managed an adventurous trip to the Pink Beds where they hitched a ride back to Turkey Pen with some geocaching hippies in a van!  And then the majority of us drove on over to the Weed residence for some great food, beer, and conversation.  It was a great run and a great time and I can't wait to do the loop again, minus the 4-5 mile section of the S. Mills River trail.  I may never step foot on that one again.  Photo cred to Matt Kirk (Grand Kirk)

the crew at the first river crossing

Sombrero wearing compadres

Myself running through a field on the Bradly Creek Trail

Cliffs above the S. Mills River