Monday, May 28, 2012

Week ending May 27: Assault on Mt. Pisgah

Mon 5/21 3 miles
Tue 5/22  3 miles. Still pretty tired after the long weekend.
Wed 5/23 Off. Took heed from last week’s one-mile day when I shouldn’t have run.
Thu 5/24  8 1/2 miles at Croft. I haven’t been on the Chapters for a while.
from Dairy Ridge: Palmetto to Chapters to Palmetto
Fri 5/25 4 1/2 miles on Cottonwood. Felt very good: made myself go easy.
Sat 5/26  26 miles North Mills River Recreation Area to Mount Pisgah and back: Big Creek Trail, Laurel Mountain Trail
Definitely a highlight run of the year. I met up with a group of western North Carolina trail runners who put on a pile of self-supported group runs through the year. Seth and I have internet-stalked them for a while, and I finally got up the nerve to go run with them. I'll thank Adam fopr organizing this one, and the rest of the crowd here for putting on these great runs, and for promoting trail running in beautiful places.
This run (“an almost perfect loop of about 26 miles”) started at the North Mills River Recreation Area, which was the start of the overnight relay that I blame for this long-distance habit. I flitted about through the crowd, finding my place as we climbed slightly along a fire road. To tell you the truth, I don’t remember much from that first ten minutes or so, other than meeting people. At some point I found myself pulling away from the guy I was running with, but fairly far behind the folks right in front of me. I decided I’d speed up to catch them--did I mention I had no map and no idea where we were going?
I ran with Stan, Lindsey and Hayley for quite a while. The trail ran along a creek (Big Creek, I’m guessing, since that was the name of the trail), crossing it several times, just stunning deep valley running. All that flat running--probably 5 miles or more--meant the climbing would come pretty sharply. But we were rolling right along there, chatting and easy in the deep woods. We talked about jobs (Hayley’s a lawyer, Lindsey teaches middle school; why didn’t I find out what Stan does?) and running and I don’t know what all.
And then it happened. Right at a little cleared spot by the creek, the trail turned steeply uphill. We stopped and ate. “Fuel now,” Lindsey said. I did. Hayley turned back here, and for the most part, Lindsey took off up the climb. She stayed in sight most of the way, but she was on a mission and tearing it up. Stan and I separated some, and the climbing just kept me in that in-my-head place, feeling good and running (imitating the running motion) when I could. 
I knew what the loop was in theory, but I was still eased by having Stan, who had run the course before (and was planning to run another long run in the mountains with these guys the following week--strong runner, in other words) right behind me. We got to Blue Ridge Parkway, the top of the longest climb, in a little over two hours. We ran along the Parkway to the Mount Pisgah rest area where Terry had a fully stocked aid station. I had brought peanut butter and nutella sandwiches, but didn’t want to eat any at all. Lindsey had an orange, and shared another with me. I ate half, and left half with Terry for someone else. But that orange was spectacular, cold and wet. I should have eaten the whole thing. 
At the top of the long climb to the Blue Ridge Parkway
From there the course climbs to the peak of Mt. Pisgah, and you turn around and come back down. The trail was pretty crowded--a good thing as folks renew themselves by coming in contact with nature. Made for a little less free running. And the trail was nice and flat for a good piece, letting me unwind my legs a little. The steep pitch to the peak ended the climbing for the day. Stan and his girlfriend/wife, who met us at the parking area (she’s running 29 miles next weekend, and rested this day), were at the observation deck when I got there. All the way up I saw other runners coming down; we all exchanged enthusiastic greetings. I passed Lindsey on her way back down from the peak; “Great orange, huh?” she said.
The drop back down to North Mills River was more gradual than the climb, basically one trail from the parking area traversing steep hillsides, at times in cool, narrow slots. When I say cool, I mean chilly. The day turned very hot, and although I didn’t overheat, I didn’t drink enough water. I started to crave some flavor in my water, actually, and tried a gel in one. Chocolate, at least, did not taste good. 
But these little naturally air-conditioned sections were relieving, and the running easy and downhill. About 2 miles from the end of the trail, and about 5 miles from the end of the run, my stomach really got upset. I felt crampy, and tried to soothe it with food. I think I was depleted. I’d taken two SCaps, which always leave my jaw a little tight, and starting eating a Shot Block every ten minutes or so. 
Yeah, I was clobbered. Sean had caught and passed us earlier, and Stan had disappeared around the switchbacks and ridge lines. I just put it on cruise, walking and running--mostly my decision when--to the finish. It took me a half hour or so to feel like being social, including a brief hurl session about 15 minutes after I finished. Thanks to Dave for hanging with me then. He was leaving, but stayed until I was conversational again. 
I feel certain the hurl-fest resulted from dehydration. I was drenched early in the run, and still only finished one bottle on the way up. I finished three total, I think--about 60 ounces, probably. My waist pack ended up rubbing me a little raw at the belt-line, too. I’ll have to figure out a better system for such long runs. Highlands Sky will be well supported, so I think I’ll be okay with my one bottle. I may invest in a vest, too, which seems to be least restrictive of the pack-type hydration systems.
I felt great about the run, though. As far as I can figure, the trail climbs 3500’ from the camping area to the peak of Mount Pisgah. I’m sure that steep climb was well over 2000’ in about two or three miles. I don’t get that opportunity very often, and my quads know it. Stan said he ran 5 hours 26 minutes last year; I ran 5:14, and Stan was well under that.
I met a bunch of cool and interesting people, some real studs of the ultra-world, and was reminded again of the great camaraderie of trail runners.
Sun 5/27  Didn’t see why I should run, and spent a great day with my Gorgeous.
Total: 45 miles in 5 runs

Friday, May 25, 2012

Fortnight ending May 20

Mon 5/7 5 miles on Cottonwood
Tue 5/8   0 miles: A visit with my Gorgeous to Urgent Care took precedence.
Wed 5/9 6.5 miles around the neighborhood.
Thu 5/10 8.5 miles at Croft.
from Dairy Ridge: Palmetto to Lake Johnson Loop to Palmetto
Fri 5/11 A huge day with various work commitments, kid-driving, and getting on the road for a visit with EO and Betty. This one was special, for reasons I’ll go into in a future post. Just Q and I were able to go, so it was a man’s weekend. That much time with Q would be special no matter what. 
Sat 5/12 Running? What’s that? Showing Q around my home town, seeing my niece dance in her recital, and just generally hanging with EO and Betty centered the whole day.
EO is predictably slow, and he is driven door to door most of the time. But he’s sharp as usual in many ways. I’m glad to have seen him in person rather than talk to him on the phone. 
Sun 5/13 15 miles on the Kanawha Trace Trail. Planned through the magic of facebook, I met Gregg at the finish line of a race I dropped out of last summer. The Boy Scouts manage and maintain the Kanawha Trace Trail, and have now for 50 years. Challenged by a farmer who let them camp on her property to build trails where they didn’t have any, the Trace runs through private property and Boy Scout property and connects by a few roads, both dirt and hard pike.
It poured rain, and we hardly noticed. We talked, and ran, and hiked, and slid through the mud, and turned around a few times when we missed the trail. All these things make a great run.

Total 35 miles in 4 runs
Mon 5/14  4 miles 
Tue  5/15  6 miles around the neighborhoods. 
Wed 5/16  3 miles
Thu 5/17  8 1/2 miles at Croft. Nice and easy, with some good moments of just letting my legs turn over.
from Dairy Ridge: Palmetto to Lake Johnson Loop to Palmetto
Fri 5/18  1 mile. Youch. Shouldn’t have run at all. 
Sat 5/19  10 miles at Croft with Joe Parker. Running with Joe is always fun. He’s directing another race at Croft, this one a marathon. We ran the second half-ish nice and easy and chatting.
from the riding ring: Palmetto across Fairforest Creek, right on Southside Loop through parking lot down Centerline to Lizard to Southside to Palmetto
Sun 5/20  19 miles at Croft. The best part about this run was my motivation level. I felt a little fatigue from Saturday, just what I was looking for, but I pushed reasonably hard throughout. 
Need I add that Bristol crushed these two runs, too?
from the riding ring: Lake Johnson Connector to Foster Mill to Lake Trail to that little lake trail to TC’s to Palmetto to New Edition to Lake Trail all the way to the hut to Foster Mill to Lake Johnson Connector
Total  51 1/2 miles in 7 runs
Very good week. The back-to-back days both felt easy and restrained; I’m pretty confident about Highlands Sky--confident about finishing, that is--especially knowing I have one more 25+ mile run planned with some folks in North Carolina. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Fortnight ending May 6

Week ending April 29
Mon 4/23  1 mile. Only the second time I’ve done this--run one mile and called it a run. It’s a little longer, about 11 minutes. Just had to do it, so I did.
Tue 4/24  3 miles. Again, did it. That’s about all.
Wed 4/25  5 miles on Cottonwood. Felt much better, and would have run farther, but I had ukulele. Still late, of course.
Thu 4/26  5 miles on Cottonwood. Again, I felt pretty peppy. I have a big weekend planned, with 43 miles or so over three days. 
Fri 4/27  9 miles at Croft.
from Dairy Ridge: Palmetto to Lake Johnson Loop back to Palmetto
Sat 4/28  5 miles at Croft with some crazy Greenville Trail Runners. Very muddy Rocky Ridge trail good for those folks.
Sun 4/29 0 miles. A nightmare of mis-timing. At the last minute, the timing fell completely apart.
Total 27 miles in six runs

Week ending May 6
Mon 4/30  4 miles on Cottonwood
April Total 150 miles in 24 runs
Year-to-date Total 681 miles in 106 runs
Tue 5/1  7 miles at Croft. Bonked like crazy in the middle of this run. What?
Wed 5/2  4 miles on Cottonwood. Bonked again? So I play ukulele with my buds on Wednesdays. There’s a scale there, and that generally marks the only time I weigh myself. Usually, with ukulele and all, I weigh about 163. Tonight, I weighed about 152. Yipes--what am I doing? I think I’ve just been neglecting my eating, and I still haven’t been to the chiropractor after saying I need to for two weeks. 
Thu 5/3  5 miles at Croft. Bonked! I’m trying to eat more, but today I even had a massive hamstring cramp that left me hurting for a couple of days. I have to get myself back to health.
Fri 5/4 Due to a major event at work (can you say 10,000 spectators at the Downtown Criterium?) I did not run.
Sat 5/5 4 miles, including 2 miles barefoot. Feeling better. Focusing on calories. According to calorie-per-day calculators, I should be eating about 3100 calories a day. I may actually start to count so I can get up that high.
Sun 5/6  6 miles on Cottonwood. I did not feel at all motivated today.
Total 30 miles in 6 runs
This has been a rough couple of weeks for my training. I remember other times when this has happened, and know that it will pass. Plenty of time for two long runs before Highlands Sky.