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!