Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Looking Back Over 2013 & Goals for 2014

This year in my running has had many ups and downs, high times and low times, healthy times and unhealthy times, but still was magnificent!  Looking back over the goals I set last year, I only accomplished 4 of my 10 goals, but hey maybe 10 goals for a year was little much, so I'll try to limit myself to only 5 this year which seems more attainable.  I raced much more this year and had  success in most of those races and still managed to make it out to numerous WNC Trail Runnner runs.  I PR'd in the 5k (19:42) and the marathon (3:18:35) so I have to be happy about that.  I also joined up with another group down in Davidson this year, DART, that really made me enjoy road running a tiny bit more, as well as southwest food.  So below you'll find my year in review.

I Got Married!!!

Ok, this really isn't running related, but I couldn't leave it out of my year in review.  On October 5th, I swore my vows to the greatest girl in the world, Hannah.  The first few months of marriage have been great and she still lets me run on my crazy adventures!  I am truly looking forward to our life together.

Most Satisfying Run

My most satisfying run this year happened very early in the year, but it was finally breaking the 7 hour mark at the Uwharrie 40 Miler.  I trained smart, showed up the race healthy, and perfectly executed my race plan.  I couldn't have been more happy to finally get that monkey of my back, one that I've had since I started running ultras 4 years ago at Uwharrie.

8 miles to go, on schedule

Most Disappointing Run

I don't really feel like I had a disappointing run this year that really sticks out.  I did have a really disappointing summer of running though, so I'll put that in to fill this gap.  Summer time running has always been hard for me due to the heat, but this year I thought I was going to change that a bit, but injuries both running related and non-running related came up and bit me and left me with quite possibly the worst summer of running for me so far.  I did have some good runs this summer though, so all was not a loss.

Big Surprise

I've finally decided to take a real stab at race directing.  I've put on numerous fun runs each year and designed race courses for others, so I finally thought it was time to take that leap.  I will still be starting off slowly, as I'll only be co-race director of the Table Rock 50 coming up in the fall of 2014!  I've changed the course a lot for next year's running and am really stoked about the route.  Hopefully the USFS will issue us our permit and we will be ready to go.  I'm looking forward to it and in some ways dreading it.  Haha.  I will still be putting on my regular fun runs as well with Pisgah Nation!!!!

Favorite Place You Ran

This one is really tough and will probably have to go down as a tie between doing the NAR loop back in April through the Nantahala National Forest and my recent exploration of the trails in the Wilson Creek Area.  In fact, I did some more exploring in my new "back yard" today.

Hottest Run

The hottest run I ran this year was one I didn't even run, just one I volunteered at.  Watching 50 people sign up and run my brainchild of a course at South Mountains State Park in the middle of August was enough for me.  The race is called the Annihilator 50k for a reason.

Coldest Run

The temperatures this year never got real crazy cold so I was wondering when I would run a run that was worthy for coldest of the year.  Well that happened a couple of weekends back at my 3rd running of ALTAR.  The forecast and early warm temperatures we all experienced at the beginning fooled us and by the time I reached 6,000ft, the temperatures had dropped 20 degrees, it was raining sideways, and the wind was cutting right through my t-shirt and arm warmers.  I thought I might go hypothermic if I didn't get to lower elevations fast and luckily there was a trail that took me there and some other friends that wanted to tag along.

Isaiah running over Black Balsam....yeah, nasty conditions 

Favorite Pics I Took This Year

early morning sun on the gorge

first podium finish

purple trillium on the Snowball trail


record breaker

yeah, I golfed a lot this year....can't you see why

phyllis on the MST at Doughton Park

early fall on shortoff

tommy on mt. craig

what the mitchell

Benn Knob in the fall at SOMO

burnthouse falls

kayaker waiting to plunge Harper Creek Falls

evening light on the Black Mtns from Table Rock

heading to the summit tree of bluff mtn

reflection of SOMO's high points

The Numbers

Miles = 1,908.2
Time = 361hrs2min
Vert = 323,445'
Marathons/Ultras Run = 12
Runs over 12 miles = 42

Weekly Averages

Miles = 36.7
Time = 6hrs57min
Vert = 6,220'

Running Goals for 2014

1. Finish my first 50 miler (Leatherwood)
2. PR in the 50k (hopefully at Mill Stone)
3. PR in the marathon (maybe Peak to Creek again, but that really hurt) & 5k.
4. Cross train much more!
5. Remember to have fun, keep exploring, and stay healthy while training for these goals.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Post Fire Trip to the Gorge

I've been trying to find a day lately to go check out the Table Rock area to get a scope of the fire damage, but every recent weekend opportunity has fallen through.  So I decided to take a half day at work today and head on up there finally.  I began my run/hike/scramble at Sitting Bear TH and marched up the Ridge trail over to Hawksbill to catch my first good glimpse of the effected area.  It was a great way to start off an great trip with crystal clear views today.  Things didn't look too bad from Hawksbill, so I headed down Ledge for the first time to connect into Spence.  Wow, what a trail Ledge is WooHoo  Finding my way down was fairly easy, although a pesky root ripped a part of my shoe and I had to slide on my butt down a steep leafy section of the trail.  Man what a fun rock hopping adventure that was.  I was obviously slowed up by the terrain but I didn't mind, it was beautiful.  I did worry about getting impaled by an icicle though Chuckle.  The trail was well marked through the rock draws with a couple of flags and cairns.  I found Ledge-Spence Connector very easily and it was well flagged all the way to Spence.    

Hitting Spence I finally saw evidence of the fire.   I had really been concerned on the condition of LTR trail, so I headed that way to check it out.  The trail seemed in great condition all the way up and like Darkbryd has pointed out in some of his trips near there, the fire looks to have taken more of the shape of a controlled burn through this area.  Most hardwoods seemed unaffected and had little to no scaring from the fire.  The rhodo was burned up pretty well though and smaller sapling trees probably won't stand much of a chance.  I do predict a green spring for this section.  After I checked out some of the views on LTR, I made my way to the Chimneys.  This is where things really looked bad.  Some sections of the trail are scorched on both sides as you walk along.  Things more or less stayed the same with some patchy scorched sections as you followed the MST south.  

Once I began the decent down to Chimney Gap, things got a lot worse.  I figured if the fire reached that patch of young pines along the trail, it stood little chance of survival and I was correct.  This was the worst affected area by far.  Many of the pines are now just black silhouettes on the hill side.  This is a bummer, because those trees were just getting tall enough to provide some good shade on that decent.  That climb out of the gap is going to be hot again this summer.  Once at Chimney Gap, I hopped onto the fire rd that runs along the base of the Chimney's to return to the Table Rock summit rd.  This was also another new trail for me today.  From Chimney Gap to Blue Rock Rd it has recently been regraded as a fire line by the FS.  It was successful all the way to that point, but not after.  The rd lacked maintenance from this point on and the fire burned on both sides.  Along this stretch I had originally planned to get water out of one of the creeks it crosses, but didn't originally think about the fire affecting it's quality so I had to refrain and ran out of water by the time I got to the gate.  I didn't have too much longer to go and hoped that some folks at the parking area might have some to spare.

I trotted up the pavement to the parking area and no luck.  I'd be fine for a few more miles so I headed on up to check out the views and damage on Table Rock.  Luckily, I bumped into some gracious climbers and they lent me some of there water as I was marching up the climb.  Very thankful for those two.  The summit trail had a good amount of ice on it and the burn did not look too bad through here at all.  I got some great shots of the sun setting over the Blacks from the summit and then headed down the MST back to FS210.  The MST on the way down looked very much like LTR so it should recover quite well.  I finally hit the road and it was nice to finally follow some easy terrain back to the car a couple miles up.  It was a great trip and I'm glad I finally got out there survey the damage for myself.

Trail Status on route followed:
Jonas Ridge - good
Hawksbill - good
Ledge - good, a bit leafy
Ledge/Spence Connector - good, flagged well
LTR - good
MST heading south to Chimney Gap- good, lots of fire damage through here, but trail tread is clear
Fire Rd - good for 1/2, a few blowdowns on the second half nearing gate
Table Rock Summit - good, icy
MST north - good

Trip stats:
Miles - ~16
Time - 4hs10min
Gain - 4800 ft

Shoe carnage from Ledge Trail
Fire scorched earth along MST approaching Chimneys
MST heading down towards Chimney Gap
Sunset over the Blacks from Table Rock