Sunday, January 26, 2014

Leatherwood Training Week IV & Sultan 50k Report

Mon - off

Tues - 61min/ 7.3m/ 1000' - Hickory City Park - Just another easy run on the local trails.

Wed - 60min/ 6m/ 1300' - Lower Steels Creek Exploration - Well long story short, I didn't find Lower Steels Creek trail.  Apparently I was right on top of it, but just didn't see the opening of the trail.  Most likely it is a bushwhack these days.  Will need to clear it out and find it officially before the fall.

Thurs - 47min/ 6.3m/ 600' - DART - Made it back out to the Wolf Spider Run this week.  The run was nice and relaxed for the first 4 miles, but then the pace began to pick up.  I started the pace pickup, but Dexter picked it up even more.  I tried to hang onto Dexter for the rest of the run while we most have been going 6:30min/mile pace or below in the last mile.  Good times!

Fri - off - Hanging with the wife and resting up for the Sultan 50k tomorrow!

Sat - 5hrs59min/ 33.6m/ 6800' - The annual Pisgah Nation January birthday celebration did not disappoint.  I showed up to the start minutes before, got tossed some pink flagging to mark the course, and quickly took a starting photo.  Before I knew it, we were off and climbing up our first long sustained climb of the day, one of many that would come.  After the first 3 mile 1600ft climb, the lead pack was Action Jackson, Shaman, Mo, and myself.  The pace we were running was sustainable so I stayed with and conversed with everyone.  We all stayed together until we got into the South Mountain State Park trails system about 11 miles in.  My stomach decided it was finally time for me to take a pit stop and I wouldn't see much of them for the rest of the day.  After my pitstop, my legs started to feel the sustained effort of the previous two hours and I was beginning to not feel so great.  None the less though, I did get some breaks when I had to stop to flag the turns.  I soon caught up to Phyllis who had passed me during the pit stop and we ran together the last 2 miles to the turn around.  I didn't want to hang around too long at the aid station as I had in the past so I quickly downed some red velvet cake, did a couple of yoga poses for the camera, and picked up Matt to be my pacer back to the finish.

Upon leaving the aid station, we shortly arrived to a grand view of a frozen High Shoals Falls!  I had seen the falls like this once before a few weeks back.  It is amazing how something moving that fast can freeze.  As Matt, Uwharrie, and passed the falls, a light snow began to fall.  Surprisingly, this was one of the warmer parts of the day though and I shed my gloves.  Leaving the park, the trail just keeps climbing and climbing.  Some parts are runnable (well all of it actually, but I was feeling pretty beat by this point) and I ran then, but the steeper pitches just reduced me to a walk.  Thankfully, Matt was willing to slow down on the steep climbs as well.  After a six mile climb, we finally hit some sustained downhill.  My legs felt shot though, so running was still going slow.  At this point, I thought that going sub 6 hours on this route was completely out of the question.  I knew there was a lot more climbing left.  I took a Clif Espresso Shot and then things started to feel better.  My pace at least increased to maybe a 9min/mile on the downhills so that was good.  And upon entering the last long climb of the day I was able to run most of it, thanks to Matt and caffeine.  I still didn't think that going sub 6 was possible, so as we crested the top of the climb to what I think is the best view on the course, Matt and I stopped to snap a few photos and tried to point out and name notable peaks on the horizon.  My legs were still feeling pretty beat up once we started running again, but I was able to keep the motion going.  We soon bumped into some fellow Sultan 50kers that called it a bit short, right around the 3.5 mile to go point.  All of this last 3.5 miles except for 0.5 of it is downhill, so I checked my watch again just to get a bearing of about what time I would finish.  My watch said I had about 30 minutes to get to the 6 hour point.  It hit me that sub-6 was still in the cards, especially since it was practically all downhill.  If I could just let gravity take me down the hill then I could make it.  Matt stayed back to chat with Terry, but I put my head down and dug deep.  When I finally crested the last hill I had about 3 miles left and 25 minutes to get to finish.  Now this last descent is STEEP and my legs really hurt as I picked it up to make the goal.  Soon, I bumped into Hannah hiking up the road to meet me!  She decided pace me in which was great and I needed the extra motivation to keep pushing through the pain.  I finally reached the finish area and stopped the watch and read 5:59:42!!!  Whew, that was close, and man did it hurt.  Maybe the worst general muscle pain I've felt during a run although things are feeling better today, unlike after Peak to Creek which felt similar but the pain lasted much longer post run.

After the run, we all hung around the fire and waited for everyone to come in, all while enjoyed some friendship and brews.  Of course, per tradition, we headed over to Jalapenos Fresh Grill to indulge in the best Mexican food I've yet to taste.  Another great year of the Sultan 50k down and looking forward to many more to come!

Sun - ~60min/ ~2m/ 300' - Disc Golf - Hannah and I attempted to play speed disc golf today at Glenn Hilton Park.  My tight hamstring had another plan as did our poor disc golf skills.  By the end we able to jog most of the course.  It was a great recovery idea though and I think it did the trick.

Totals =

Time - 9hrs47min
Miles - 55.2
Vert - 10,000'

the crew
Action Jackson and Shaman
Phyllis "Bit-Sized" Tsang
Matt and a frozen High Shoals Falls
Matt checking out the view
Matt & U-Dog on Roper Hollow Rd
beautiful wife
Action and myself
Terry and something delicious
the Sultan a sombrero

Monday, January 20, 2014

Leatherwood Training Week III

Mon - off

Tues - 60min/ 7m/ 1000' - Hickory City Park - Just went out for an easy run on the local trail.

the trail

Wed - 64min/ 7.6m/ 1600' - SOMO - Had a nice tempo run out at SOMO today.  Route was High Shoals loop, Upper Falls, Shinny, HQ, River.  Took it easy up High Shoals loop to Upper Falls and started the tempo effort there.  Ran strong to Shinny and then really turned on the speed.  Made it back to the car from the too of Shinny in 26:30!

caught this deer while driving into the park

Thurs - 58min/ 6m/ 500' - Lake James State Park - Decided to try out these trails at last since my legs took a nice beating yesterday.  The trails were very well made, but very easy with little views.  These trails would be great if I lived closer by for easy recovery runs like today, but 45 min from home is a bit of a stretch to get to on a normal basis.  And the gorge is only 45 min away as well, so what would you choose?

Looking at SOMO from Lake James

Fri - off

Sat - 5hrs/ 21m/ 5000' - Montreat to Swannonoa Rim - While perusing the internet a couple weeks ago about Pinnacle, I noticed a post about a trail that traveled from Graybeard to Pinnacle called the Swannonoa Rim Trail.  I had to get on it, as it offered up some great views.  I got a couple of friends and the bro-in-law to come join me on this adventure out of Montreat.  Our first summit goal was Rock Knob along the East Ridge Trail.  There was a bit of snow up there which was quite fun.  From Rock Knob we caught our first glance of the mountain we would hit next, the mighty Graybeard.  We continued along the excellent switchbacks of the Graybeard trail, stopping to take some photos at Graybeard Falls.  We pushed ever higher into the snow until we finally reached the top.  The views were great as always but  the wind was making things quite chilly.  It was time to push on using the Swannanoa Rim Trail!  This trail was very steep at first as I was grabbing every thing I could to keep my feet as I slid down the mountain.  Soon enough the trail got tamer and we could open up our stride.  Soon we were on the summit of Rocky Knob.  We missed the scramble that we were supposed to use, but still made it to the top using a faint trail.  While standing on Rocky Knob, the view of our next summit looked intimidating.  Pinnacle was towering well above us and it looked extremely steep.  We lost the trail a couple of times on our ascent until I finally just made the call to bushwhack up to the top.  In no time we made it to the top.  It was a good call.  Tom and I searched for some Civil War era graffiti among the rocks at the summit and think we found some, but not completely sure.  We didn't last up there long as the wind was making things unbearably cold.  Plus, Dave was in a time crunch and needed to get down the mountain quickly.  We hit the toll rd and were finally able to open up our stride.  We then made the turn onto Graybeard trail once more so we could make it to cars quickly.  At the end of Graybeard trail, Tom and I left Dave so he could head down the road to the car.  Tom and I then took Lower Piney trail to get in just a few extra miles and views before we called it a day.  It was a remarkably great run.

Group shot at Graybeard Falls
Tom climbing Graybeard in the snow
Dave and Tom at the summit of Pinnacle

Sun - 2hrs/ 10.5m/ 2400' - Chestnut Mtn - Got a late start to check out a trail that ascends up to Chestnut Mtn in the Wilson Creek Area.  Got a bit confused at the beginning, but eventually found the trail and began the steep and rocky climb up the ridge.  I could tell this trail was getting some heavy use by mountain bikers, so I knew I was on the right path.  Most of the unmapped trails in this area are predominantly used and maintained by them.  The trail was great in my opinion, although it definitely isn't a sustainable path for the future.  I soon hit FS 198, and then headed straight across to the summit trail to Chestnut.  This old road bed used to lead to the old summit tower, which no longer exist, but remnants can still be seen at the summit.  There really aren't any views at the top, due to a good shielding of pine trees that have taken over the top of this summit.  After the summit I headed down FS 198 to Craig Creek Rd to finish the loop in the dark.  The stars were out in abundance tonight, which made a great ending to a great run.

Abandoned fire tower work room

View through the trees of Table Rock from Chestnut

Total =

Time - 10hrs2min
Miles - 52.1
Vert - 10,500 ft

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Leatherwood Training Week II

Mon - Xtrain

Tues - 67min/ 7.8m/ 1000' - Hickory City Park - Just the usual at a relaxed pace in 20 degree weather.  Good times always on those trails.

Wed - 77min/ 7.8/ 1600' - SOMO - After checking out an amazing frozen High Shoals Falls, I then began running two minute trail intervals along my chosen route of the day which was High Shoals, Upper Falls, Raven Rock, Saddleback, Turkey Ridge, Little River.  The workout was great and I felt good about it.

Thurs - 48min/ 6.3m/ 600' - DART - I finally made it back out to the Wolf Spider run with DART this week.  With school obligations and the Holidays, I just wasn't able to get out there in almost 2 months.  It was good to catch up with many of the guys Thursday.

Fri - off

Sat - 3hrs30min/ 13.5m/ 3000' - Tanawha - What a day.  Drove up through the rain to meet the dwindled down list of runners (once 13, now 5) and the rain just got heavier with thunderstorms predicted in the next couple of hours.  I made the call, since everyone was planning on just doing the half, to postpone the run for 2 hours and start then.  At noon we stepped out into the rain, although the radar looked like it was about to pass, and began our swim, I mean run.  With the recent hard freeze and thaw, coupled with the heavy rain the trail was a soppy mess.  The rain and clouds did lift eventually and by the end of the day, we were rewarded with excellent views from Rough Ridge and Beacon Heights.  A great run, with great friends.

Sun - 88min/ 9m/ 1600' - Hilton & City Park - Felt terrible.  But pushed through for an hour and a half.  Needed more miles, but the Panthers were playing at 1pm!  Can't miss that!

Totals =

Time - 8hrs10min
Miles - 44.4
Vert - 7,800'

Good week of training, although was supposed to run 20 miles on Saturday.  That didn't work out, but I was on my feet for a 20 mile effort, so not bad.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Leatherwood Training Week I

Mon - 2hrs55min/ 6.5m/ 2500' - Buzzard's Roost Bushwhack - The allure of gaining the summit of the highest peak in the South Mountains has captivated me for quite some time.  Currently, there is no trail up to the top, so a bushwhack was in order.  I finally had time to make this happen over Christmas break, so I went for it.  I made it up fairly easy by following an access trail and some old skid roads to the gap below the summit.  Once is hit the ridge though, things got think and I got cut up pretty good.  Not that bad though and I made it to the summit with excellent views from the top.  Glad I finally made it out there.

Buzzards Reflection

Tues - 3hrs/ 14.1m/ 3000' - Yancey Ridge Exploration - Finally made it out to check on a trail that isn't on the map, but I've heard exist in  the Wilson Creek Area.  My energy was really low, so this run became mostly a hike/shuffle on all the climbs, but it was fine.  Yancey Ridge trail was phenomenal.  An excellent flowing ridgeline trail with great views.  Will have to get out on that trail more often.

view along Yancey Ridge trail

Wed - 0hrs - Xtrain - Did a workout Hannah had made for me.  Trying to get in more Xtraining this year to stay healtier.

Thurs - 41min/ 5m/ 300' - Dreadmill - The weather was disgusting and I wasted time and ended up having to settle for the dreadmill.  I had a good run on it, doing a pretty decent workout, but man do I hate the treadmill.  I won't being doing that again anytime soon, despite any weather conditions.

Fri - off

Sat - 4hrs10min/ 16m/ 5000' - Heartbreak/ Newberry Loop - Got up with Matt and Tom to tackle some new trails and a summit that I haven't made it up to before.  We parked at Newberry Creek and headed up this phenomenal trail up to the parkway.  We hit the snow pretty quickly as we climbed, but it never got over 3 inches deep, which is perfect in my opinion.  After the parkway, we headed down S. Toe River Rd for about a mile and then started our next ascent to the parkway up Bald Knob Ridge.  Both our first two trail we so runnable despite all the climb.  Got to get back out on those two soon.  After we hit the parkway for the second time, we started our climb up Blue Ridge Pinnacle, the highest point in McDowell county at 5,665 ft.  There was a nice trail up to the summit and we were awarded with excellent views of the Blacks, Swannanoa Ridge, Smokies, Hickory Nut Gorge, Linville Gorge, and Grandfather Mtn.  It was definitely one of the best views I've seen in this neck of the woods.  After freezing up on the summit, we headed down the excellent Heartbreak Ridge trail to Star Gap and back down to the car.  This is an amazing loop and one I look forward to doing again soon. 

Tom on Pinnacle with the Blacks in the backgroud

Tom, U-dog, & Matt on Pinnacle

Tom cruising down Heartbreak Ridge trail

Sun - 1hr42min/ 11m/ 1200' - Hilton/ Hickory City Park Trail Run - Finally got out and explored the trail in Hilton Park on this one in the cold drizzle.  The trail is pretty nice and is very similar to the city park trails, although a bit more confusing.  Will look forward to getting myself more familiar with this local trail in the future.  Finished off the run by running the trails in City Park in reverse fashion. 

Totals =

Time - 12hrs28min
Miles - 52.6
Vert - 11,900'

Good first week of Leatherwood 50 training.  The thing that will be the biggest challenge going forward with the plan is getting out on Sunday's for 10+ miles and Xtraining.  If I can keep those two things up I should have a great race out there in 11 weeks.