Friday, August 24, 2012

Week 12: Six waterfalls and a birthday party

Mon 8/13  4 1/2 miles on Cottonwood

Tue 8/14  7 miles at Croft

from Dairy Ridge: Palmetto to Lake Johnson Connector to New Edition.

Fri 8/17  4 miles on Cottonwood

Sat 8/18  22 miles at Dupont State Forest, North Carolina.

What a way to start a birthday weekend—six waterfalls, 22 miles, lots of new trails and a great crowd of folks. I knew the distance would be a challenge after 2 ½ months of un-concentrated running.  In fact, I’ve had one week since June with more mileage than I ran on Saturday. But I ate well all week, I stayed on the nutrition and hydration while running, and stopping at all the waterfalls for a little frolicking (less frolicking toward the end, for sure) made for a fun day in the woods.

I was in the middle of the crowd to take the photo.
Seth and I arrived right about 8:30, and spent some time chatting and getting ready. I made sure to eat more than I usually do, and packed up my new Nathan HPL #020 vest. Of course in a group of 40 or so trail runners there were plenty of others wearing the same vest there; I found out that most of them leak from the drink tube as mine did from the very start. I’ll add that the twist on/off thing was stiff with dry fingers. With wet fingers (remember, it’s still August in the South—I was drenched in sweat with a few minutes) it’s nigh impossible. I quickly decided I would use the handheld which I just filled up from the bladder whenever it was empty. That way I didn’t have to have the constant dripping, and I didn’t have to wrestle more than a few times with the on/off. I loved the comfort of the vest itself, but I’m switching out the bladder to make it more useful.

Seth and I at the base of Bridal Veil Falls.
After some quick directions from Adam, who takes on the organization of these things, off we went, a full page of trail changes in hand. The run starts with a mile or so of road climb, nothing exceptional, and luckily only a little traffic. Throughout the day I ran with different folks as we caught up to and were passed by groups all day, but especially on the way to the first stop, Bridal Veil Falls, which according to the directions is about 7 ½ miles in. This was a spectacular spot, with the falls themselves at the top of a long sloping rock face, a little treacherous and slick in spots. From there the crowd seemed to thin out, in part because the shorter ten-mile route soon split.

Bridal Veil Falls.  There was a lot of water
blowing through to the right of the photo.
With all the trail changes, we paid close attention to the directions (which managed to stay intact though wet). All of this early part was new to me, but I love the rolling terrain at Dupont. Climbs were enough to give us good walking cues, drops made for fun quick-feet running, and an overcast day was nice and cool. After a little extra mileage around to see Lake Julia, we hooked up with a fun group for some good running through the woods. I ate and drank copiously, eventually hitting ten gels in the five hours we were out. Filling up my handheld took a little time, worth a stop along the way.

Wintergreen Falls was next, some nine miles from Bridal Veils Falls. The only mis-direction came on the route from Wintergreen Falls to Grassy Creek Falls, but a quick look at the map showed us we were on the right trail. The view from the top of Grassy Creek was enough for us by then, 4:15 and probably 17 miles into the run. Climbing back up the steep access trail from the base seemed inordinately difficult. We were both filling up in the creeks, using Seth's steripen to treat.

By that point, though, you are close to the trailhead; you cross a beefy covered bridge and start down. Folks were carrying large coolers, which I knew were filled with yummy eats. I almost jumped a family at High Falls for their tuna fish subs. After Triple Falls we were back at the trailhead. A little socializing, then a quick jaunt down to Hooker Falls and back completed a great day. I had been thinking about the Coke I put in my cooler that morning for at least the last two or three miles, and it tasted so good.

And that might be it. When I run like this, feeling strong all day, pushing myself about as as far as I can at the time, I’m free. Things become elemental, immediate, necessary. Time is reduced to points, and there’s an amplification of my senses. There’s a reciprocity, I imagine, between us all, at least for a moment. 

Total: 37 1/2 miles in five runs

A good group we ran with from Bridal
Veil to Wintergreen Falls. Trouble,
the Jack Russell, ran the long loop.

Wintergreen Falls.

Top of Grassy Creek Falls.

High Falls. By this point, the last few miles
of the run, there are crowds. 

Triple Falls.

Back at the parking lot...

...with Adam Hill, who organizes and crushes these runs.

Hooker Falls, just downstream from
the parking lot.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Freezing and Unfreezing: One More Step

One of the goals of the Fifty Weeks to Fifty Miles at Fifty Years project is to learn more about Parkinson’s. Not long after I decided to raise money for the Michael J. Fox Foundation by running for Team Fox, our local Parkinson’s group brought in Dr. Mark Stacy, a leading doctor studying and treating Parkinson’s patients at the Duke University Medical Center.

Dr. Stacy no doubt had a presentation prepared, but very quickly turned the hour into a question and answer session. An overflow crowd filled the 500 seat auditorium, and the questions varied from medications to symptoms to treatments. At one point, he talked about freezing, an effect of the wearing off of some drug treatments, an unpredictable occurrence that often results in the patient falling. For whatever reason, the patient just can’t move, sometimes in mid-step. 

They say that the solution to the freezing is not to pull or push or, it seems, even touch the patient. Rather you develop a cue that unlocks movement. Harry Truman, Dr. Stacy told us, taped lines in his office, and told himself to step over the line when he froze in place. Dr. Stacy told another story about tying a tennis ball to a woman’s walker so it hung just off the floor. She would kick the ball to regain movement. 

For me, it has been the thought of others that has allowed me to continue. The night before I ran the Mayor’s Midnight Sun Marathon in Anchorage as part of the Team in Training, I wrote the names of the family members I was running to honor, and realized immediately--like, really, unmediated, as I wrote--that I would finish the marathon no matter what happened. Not finishing would diminish the honor I wanted to show my loved ones, at least in my mind. 

At EO's induction into the WVU Sports
Hall of Fame. His success was largely
a factor of hard work, endurance and patience
So here, when I write about taking just one step, and the endurance that taking that step requires, I’m not thinking that running has taught me that. I think that my father’s effort and endurance, and my sister adds, patience, are qualities I want to emulate in my running; I think that life has taught me that. When I am struggling at the Ice Age 50 next May, I will remember my father’s endurance and patience.

And I wouldn’t say that none of the lessons I’ve learned running make sense in life: “double-knot your shoes,” and “carry water” come to mind. Andy Jones-Wilkins, a runner I admire, links much more high-minded running lessons to carry into life, and I always like reading his posts. 

But at least in this project, and in the others where I’ve tried to raise money and awareness, it’s really been more of my finding the lessons in life. Others who like me are mid-pack people, which makes them even more heroic for their strength, making their way through life the best they can--those are my examples. No search for celebrity pushes the race, just plain old finishing. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Fifty Weeks to Fifty Miles at Fifty Years: the Logo

We have a logo, thanks to my Gorgeous, C Cruz.

Week 11: Nutrition plan, and a cool version of one of my favorite songs

Mon 8/6  3 miles.

Tue 8/7  4 1/2 miles.

Sat 8/11  12 miles at Croft with Carroll. Again, I hit the wall. This business is getting old. I decided that I would develop a nutrition plan the same way I have a training plan. The training comes naturally, the eating does not. I had eaten a huge amount of pasta on Friday evening, and two servings of oatmeal Saturday morning. Still, within a few miles, I was hungry. I ended up eating 6 gels in less than two hours. 

So I came home and made a pile of rice, and cooked up some black beans. I’ll make certain to take enough food for lunch, lots of whole grains, and plenty of calories. I should be eating around 3000 calories a day--yogurts in the fridge at work for snacks, bagels for breakfast, food, food, food. 

from Dairy Ridge: Palmetto to TC's to that lake trail to Lake Johnson Connector to Palmetto

Total: 19 1/2 miles in 3 runs.

Haven't heard this version of this song before, one I sang all week.

"It balances on your head just like a mattress on a bottle of wine."

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

My visit to New York City, or What I did over summer vacation

  1. There is a $350 fine for honking in New York City. We rode in a Prius cab; the quiet was deafening.  
Quiet ride over some bridge into Queens.

2.  No right-on-red anywhere in New York City.

3.  When there is a culture of walking, few cars enter the crosswalk at a red light. They’d probably get pounded verbally and physically.

4.  Walking through Grand Central at rush hour, few people bump into each other. Walking through Times Square anytime there’s lots of bumping. Tourists.

Grand Central Station, 3:30 pm
Times Square, 3 pm, with Sweet Child.
5.  Nothing like a subway station when it’s 96 degrees out.

Hot, but entertaining.
6.  Yankee Stadium is awesome, but $11 for a beer?

Bleacher creatures.
7.  There is an amazingly efficient use of space in New York City.

Upper West Side

Flea market in Greenwich Village

Near NYU.
8.  I don’t care what you say, folks in New York City are friendly.

Naked Cowboy, friendly for tips.

Crazy, but friendly.
9.  I thought I’d see more bikes than I did. The protected bike lanes are pretty cool.

The cars beside the lane are parked, and
buffer bikes from traffic.
10.  Talking on a cell phone without a hands-free device is illegal in New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey. Why not here?

11. Fruit carts!

Why not here?
12. Street music!

Washington Square Park.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Week 10, ending August 5: New Fiscal Year

Mon 7/30  3 miles

July total: 53 1/2 miles in 9 runs
Year-to-date: 972 1/2 miles in 154 runs
Thu 8/2  7 miles at Croft with Bristol
from Dairy Ridge: New Addition to Fairforest Connector to Palmetto
Fri 8/3  3 miles, including 1 mile barefoot
Sat 8/4 3 miles.  After watching a great Olympic men’s 10,000 meter race, I went out in the rain. 
Sun 8/5 12 miles at Croft with Carroll.
from Dairy Ridge: Palmetto to TC’s to that lake trail to Lake Johnson Connector to Palmetto
Total: 28 miles in 5 runs
I felt motivated to run all week. It’s still right hot, and Bristol and I really took our time in his first run since May. We hung out at the creek for a while, and stopped at every crossing. Though I won’t push matters much yet, I feel like I’ve started the new fiscal year.  

Had the good fortune to see this show last weekend: note the mention of Sparkle City.