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.  

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