Sunday, September 30, 2012

Weeks 17 - 18: Some running, Jam in the Park for Parkinson's, and Ben Sollee

Week ending September 23

Tue 9/18 4 miles, including 2 miles barefoot

Wed 9/19 4 1/2 miles on Cottonwood

Thu 9/20 4 miles. Went down to Croft, but had to turn back because of the annual biological hunt. Ended up running on Cottonwood.

Team Fox and more information about
PD at Jam in the Park for Parkinson's.
Sun 9/23  4 miles on Cottonwood. A spectacular day was had at the Jam in the Park for Parkinson's. More to come soon. 

Total 16 1/2 miles in 4 runs

Week ending Sept 30

Tue 9/25 4 miles on Cottonwood

Wed 9/26 3 miles 

Sat 9/29  4 miles on Cottonwood

Sun 9/30  12 miles at Croft. A gain a little rearrangement of the pieces to make for a “new” run. I head out against the flow on the half-marathon course again, but turned into the end of Jerry Perry, running it in the opposite direction. I’ve only run it twice anyway, and it’s pretty obscure through much of it. Turn it the opposite direction and you made me happy. I love the cambered trail tread for strengthening my feet.

I was also able to run the last five miles or so of the half-marathon course in the right direction to finish the run. Though there are some tough climbs, it is net downhill, and all very runnable. I kept thinking about last year’s plan: go out conservative, and reel a whole bunch of folks in during those last five miles. 

But last year I had the opportunity to run and chat with Joan Nesbit Mabe, a two-time Olympic track runner. She’s a few months older than I am, and we had a great talk about family and running and raising our children. I felt lucky to be able to run with her; pushing hard through those early miles, though, really took it out of me. 

On a training run I generally run that first 4.75 miles to the spot where the first aid station is in about 45 minutes. I figured I’d run it in about 40-42 in the race (and will shoot for that again, I reckon). I ran 36 minutes with Joan Mabe. Again, it was well worth the pain at the end. A more conservative start should yield a faster time than last year, my only goal for the race at this point.

The last section is rutted and rooty, very technical especially at the end of the race. There are a few short climbs, but assuming your feet are good, you can run it pretty hard. 

from the riding ring: Palmetto to Fairforest Loop to Jerry Perry to New Edition to Lake Johnson-Fairforest Connector to Fairforest Loop to Palmetto.

Total: 23 miles in 4 runs
September total: 89 miles in 16 runs
Year-to-date: 1161 1/2 miles in 187 runs

Saw Ben Sollee in Asheville Saturday night. I don’t know much about him, but it was a great show and a great date with my Gorgeous. I took some crappy photos, and we recorded a few songs that may make it soon. This Tiny Desk concert gave C and me the push to go to the show.

A little different line-up with no violin and a guy playing guitars and bass, but you can tell how much they love playing music the way they do. Awesome show, and a cool direction for music based in Sollee's Eastern Kentucky roots.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Week 16: Patience, my friend

Mon 9/10 Decided to choose my day off. It’s been Mondays for years. Turned out to be a trend.

Tue 9/11 After successfully fending off Christy’s cold, I finally caught it. Thought a run might compromise some immune system function.

Wed 9/12 Plain old sick. 

Thu 9/13 Much better, but after a long day, my legs were feeling achy.

Fri 9/14  4 miles on Cottonwood. Felt pretty okay. 

Sat 9/15 9 miles at Croft. Had ambitions of a longer run. Just felt crappy. 

Sun 9/16 Yard work. 

Total: 13 miles in 2 runs

As I usually do, I got caught up in the Run Rabbit Run 100, an ultra offering a pile of prize money and therefore attracting a bunch of good runners. Add into that a 1 pm start that assured an overnight run for everyone and’s twitter feed commentary, and I’m one happy runner geek.

Trail ultramarathon updates are already sparse because runners often disappear onto back-country trails where all kinds of race strategy stuff can happen. But Bryon Powell and his folks at make it exciting and accessible and fun. 

So off goes the crowd with all the right people thrown in the front. Timothy Olson, Mike Wolfe, Jason Schlarb, Dave James, and Karl Meltzer were all in the top ten or so. Then off went the speedsters. and Meltzer hung tight. He’d talked about how he figured to win the master’s division but not the race. At 44 maybe he’s too old to keep up with the youngsters. 

But of course not. The guy runs without a pacer in every race, and no pacers were allowed in this race. He loves the through-the-night-with-tons-of-climbing stuff. There were drops ahead of him, but he negative-split a hundred-mile race, running the second half faster than the first. What patience that shows, a willingness to let the race run in front of him, and not just take advantage of the carnage, as he would say, but to jump all over it. I’ll say it again, he negative split a hundred-mile race.

In both my Terrapin Mountain runs I moved ahead in place at every aid station but one. The race begins with a four mile climb; I took my time getting up, knowing there was a long day ahead. But I moved through the crowd both years, passing other runners in the last miles. The second I ran five minutes faster than the first, and the last ten miles faster than the first year. David Horton told me that was a sign of good training.

I want to feel fit and strong in Wisconsin in May, and feel certain I will. I know there’s no rush, and my Karl Meltzer example applies to this training season, too. I need to be patient, and build my training through low times and high.

When I went running on Saturday, I set myself up for a bad run, I think. I ate 5 gels in an hour-and-a-half, I started later in the morning, I spent too much time thinking of a way out (I did find a good nine-mile loop though). But I’ve said several times already that I’m most worried about crashing in March and not being ready to run in May. Thirteen miles in a week is no way to train for a race in November, but maybe it’s the way to train for a race in May. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Week 15: New trail

Mon 9/3 4 miles, including 2 miles barefoot. One of the best recovery runs I’ve had in a while. With sore quads from Saturday, and sore hamstrings from pulling weeds on Sunday I set off a little wobbly down the street. The air smelled like the sprinkling rain after an afternoon of thunderstorms. I loosened up soon enough, and decided I would run some barefoot miles on the high school fields. In the rain, and through puddly soft grass in my socks--let me tell you, it was a good day to feel good. The laps clicked off unnoticed. 

Tue 9/4 2 miles. Hmph. What a difference one day made in this case. Felt little niggles in my left IT, my right calf. My left hamstring was very tight, I think a little injury from weeding on Sunday. No, seriously.

Wed 9/5 2 1/2 miles.  A little better, but thought I shouldn’t be running.  

Thu, Fri 9/6-7  No running. 

Sat 9/8  4 1/2 miles on Cottonwood. Felt much better, easy and loose.

Sun 9/9  12 miles at Croft with Bristol.  A beautiful fall morning with temps in the mid-60s is hard to beat for a long run. Make it a new loop that includes a trail I’ve only been on once and I’m a happy camper. 

I started off running backwards on the half-marathon course, not something I’ve done often. Then after a short road section and about 6 miles into the run I turned onto a trail I’d heard of for a while and run once before. The tread is pretty obscure, and that always keeps me interested. The run ended along the larger of the two lakes, climbing up several draws to skirt the fingers of the lake.

from the riding ring: Fairforest to Lake Johnson Fairforest Connector to New Edition to the un-named trail. When you cross the camp road the trail seems to get more traffic, but I’ve never seen it on a map, and didn’t notice any blazes.  

Total 25 miles in five runs

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Weeks 13, 14: Table Rock run

Tue 8/21 2 miles. O my, one of the worst runs I’ve had. Dead legged, stiff, unmotivated. Starting taking an antibiotic on Monday, which may account for some of the fatigue. 

Wed 8/22 3 miles. Eh.

Sat 8/25 7 miles at Croft with Carroll. Felt okay, but not great. 

from the riding ring: Foster Mill to Rocky Ridge to a little connector to Beech Glen back to Foster Mill at the Boy Scout hut.

No running on Sunday.

Total: 12 miles in three runs

Mon 8/27 3 miles

Tue 8/28 3 miles, including 1 mile barefoot. Started to feel some calf tightness, and after battling with that last fall, I do not want a repeat. 

August totals: 100 miles in 17 runs
Year-to-date: 1072 1/2 171 runs

Sat 9/1 11 1/2 miles (3:10; 3000 feet of climbing) at Table Rock State Park

Of course I had to add my photo to the numbers.
The coincidence of September 1 and the Labor Day weekend made this a perfect time to start my new training season with a long run in the mountains. Table Rock is an iconic landmark in South Carolina, the most photographed place in the state, I read somewhere recently. I had been there once before to run a race, but I prefer Jones Gap for its variety, I guess. 

This run comprised almost all of the trails in the park, a couple of sections twice. I liked the pattern of the run, though: I climbed to a saddle junction, turned right to go up Table Rock Mountain, came back down to the junction and took the other fork to Pinnacle Mountain, which makes a nice loop back down the other side of the ridge.

These cut-in steps continued to the top of this long slab,
part of the engineering of the trail. I was a little 

offended by some of it.
Table Rock Trail climbs quickly from the base, about 2000 feet in three and a half miles. They have engineered the trails to handle the crowds, which are pretty significant, I’d say. I passed all sorts all the way up. Boy Scout groups with enthusiastic leaders and tired kids, couples of many ages, two dads with their young sons, the occasional family, probably a church group or two. The climb is steep, but after the saddle junction it becomes difficult, with long steep pitches that require attention. 

I was pretty battered on the climb, but coming back down after ten or so minutes on the ledge of Table Rock itself, I regained energy from gravity no doubt. I had pondered backing out of the Pinnacle Mountain stretch that I’d run in the race, but by the time I got back to the junction, I was ready to roll. 

The not-Table-Rock view.
Good thing, because the Ridge Trail starts with a long climb pretty much straight up the slope. The trail is far less defined than the Table Rock tread. It rolls along the ridge climbing four little summits before climbing to the wooded peak of Pinnacle Mountain. Unlike Table Rock Mountain’s hefty sign marking the peak at 3124 feet, this one had no apparent marker, other than a single tree with two double yellow hashmarks. At 3415 feet, it is almost 300 feet taller than Table Rock Mountain, and 150 or so shorter than Sassafras Mountain to the north and west, the highest point in South Carolina at 3563 feet. After the rather anticlimactic peak, the trail drops steeply to another granite bald, not nearly as broad as Table Rock, but with spectacular views and a sharp drop off. 

From there, it’s all downhill. I hit the peak of Pinnacle Mountain at about 2:10, and took the last 4 miles pretty conservatively, stopping to eat and drink. Almost all of it is very runnable, only breaking stride in a couple of little creek crossings. I sat in a deeper creek for about 5 minutes a little more than a half mile from the end of the run; the cool water felt great on my quads and a tingly left IT band. 

I felt good about this run. After a longer but much less steep Dupont waterfall run, a run with lots of sustained climbing felt great. 

Sun 9/2  2 miles, plus yard work. More tired than I originally thought.

Total: 19 miles in 4 runs. Saturday’s run should definitely be counted by time rather than mileage. So far I’m good with my goal of running every day in September. I've stayed on top of the daily eating, figuring that I can't let myself get depleted at any point. So far, that's been a good strategy.

I’ll see where I am in a couple of weeks before deciding on races for the next year, but I have 50K in October somewhere in mind, and I’ll definitely run the Camp Croft Half-Marathon in November, and possibly a 50k in December. I plan to pay closer attention to Uwharrie Mountain Run sign-ups for the February 40 miler, which filled in less than 3 hours last year.