25 07 2009

Absolute worst headache ever!   I ran a long way on the Sunday before from the takeout of Bear Creek in Cloudland Canyon back to Chattanooga.  This was not a trail run but rather an adventure run through a couple of watersheds and one of the most amazing adventures I have been on. I was feeling pretty tired during the run, but attributed that to trying to keep up with Sam squared.

Who are Sam squared?  As far as I am concerned:

if you don’t know Sam Squared

you should not get to know Sam squared

’cause you wouldn’t understand Sam squared

So stay the f&%$ away from Sam squared

why me, why me

Maybe that is a little overboard, but these two are beasts.  Anyway the run was spectacular, it involved climbing, bouldering, cliff jumping, waterfall climbing, swimming, tresspassing, sightseeing, a stop at a summer camp, bonking, a broken finger, but oddly enough no t-shirt.  If the run had a t-shirt it would have been the most badass t-shirt ever.  As a matter of fact someone could’ve just handed out t-shirts from a Slayer concert, and that would have it almost covered, almost.

After the run I managed to toss all my cookies, 7 or so times, and then I got down to the business of eating and the long drive back to Atl. When I got home, Rinne managed to tell me when she saw me that I looked awful, but her words were much more colorful than that.  I woke up the next day, and felt absolutely awful, but I attributed this to being pulled along by Sam squared.  I went to work, but was about as helpful as (insert own witty comment here)

Cue the Doctors

I went to the Dr, and had my hand xrayed. Result: broken middle finger.  Cool, except I still feel awful and my concern is not the pain in my finger, my body is just aching.  

The nurse tells me my “resting pulse rate is 86, which is a little high.?.”  A little high, for the love of all that is holy, that’s way high, my normal resting pulse rate is below 50.  I am told this is to be expected after my activity form the day before.

I go home,  and immediately climb in bed.  My head is starting to hurt.  I sleep for a bit, but wakeup around 10 and have the worst headache I have ever had.  The pain was all over, and it felt like someone had my head in a vice.  I take 2 tylenol PM hoping my fever will go down, which was somewhere around 102.  I toss & turn until 4 AM when Rinne decides its time to go to the hospital.  I agree, but in my head I am thinking how awful it is that I am having to go to the hospital because of a run gone awry.  Oh Sam squared is going to dig this.  To give you an idea of the pain, I was holding my head and crying by the time I walked into the emergency room it hurt so bad.  I have managed to break 2 fingers, a toe, a kneecap, a foot, all without tears, but this was too much.

Kennestone hospital admitted me with open arms.  I love Kennestone.  I was asked a field of questions, and then given the mighty drug, Dilaudid.

Can you say freelapse!  I can!   Can I get an amen?  This stuff is amazing, really, and if you are addicted to it, let me be the firs to say I understand, and I do not blame you.  No judgements here, you go right ahead and keep on keeping on…

“Oh yeah” the Dr. says, ” we need to do a Spinal Tap.”  A spinal tap?   If you ever need to sober someone up rather quickly, tell them you are going to perform a Spinal Tap on them and make them believe it.   The medical term however is “lumbar puncture,” now there that sounds better, right? Aieeeeeeee.  Spinal tap went all the way to 11 for Viral meningitis.    I’m getting a room!

Flash forward, I am getting discharged a few days later, as the hospital is not the best place for me to be because of possible viruses & staph infections.  I think since I am getting discharged, things are getting better, apparently the virus hangs around more than just a few days.  It has been over a week since I was discharged, & naps seem to be #1 on my priority list.  I have tried running, though not very far & not very fast, and all it made me want to do is sleep when I get home. Speaking of…


Benton MacKaye Trail – Section 5 x 2

15 06 2009

After taking a few weeks off because of  a broken toe, I have decided to attempt to get my running back up to speed, especially if I am going to do something epic on Solstice.   I had originally decided not to go for a solstice adventure , but a friend said, “hey even though my training is not up for it I am not letting that stop me.”  Seems like a valid point, I think.    Solstice is not about me and my training, its about doing something epic twice a year, mainly because you can.  I reserve the right to make changes to what solstice is about depending on how I feel.

Now that has me thinking, if I quit running altogether, epic could be defined as a 10K.  Strategery

Anyway back to this weekends date with a Mr. Benton Mackaye. For those of you who do not know Mr. Mackaye is the gentleman who first proposed that we have an Appalachian Trail in an essay that he wrote in the early 1920’s.  If you are a fan of the outdoors, not just the AT, we owe a lot to this guy. His idea for the trail was not just a long trail, but also as a social experiment.  The social experiment fell to the wayside but the inspiration for a long footpath remained and inspired hikers from Georgia to Maine, to create this highway. 

The path I took today was section 5 of the BMT, from Shallowford Bridge rd to Wilscot Gap. 15.2 miles out & back with 9,268  feet in elevation gain according to my GPS.  That’s a lot of elevation gain and I am not entirely trusting it, but you get the general idea of the ups & downs.  The mountains here are not high, but what they lack in elevation they make up in steepness.  I started the run at a house in Blue Ridge right next to the Toccoa  ElevationBMTrestaurant where the BMT enters the woods for Sedction 6.  I ran along Aska road for about a quarter of a mile, and crossed the river on a bridge, that reminded me of something you would see in Costa Rica, although the wood on this one was not as hearty as on the bridges down there.  After crossing the bridge, there is a tube rental place on the right.  Apparently it is the 2nd city to some other fine tubing establishments in Georiga but a very close second. Fine place, Good Americans, however some of the people hanging out around here look as though they are the type of people who would look for a burrow owl in a tree.   I was however offered a ride with some people since they said it looked like we were headed down the same path.   Oh, I how do hope they were only referring geographical positioning.  I declined the offer, and kept moving up the gravel road looking for the BMT to cut into the woods, and after enjoying a relatively flat course, I started my first climb.  The beginning of the climb was not so bad, and I started to think, this is going to be an easy day in the woods. 

turtleThis line of thinking of course did not continue, it came to an abrupt halt about a mile and half into the run.  I was able to find a pace and settled into it. Granted the pace was incredibly slow, it did allow me to notice this guy & fly past him.  I saw one of his or her cousins later into the run, but with more yellow markings.  I also scared  a grouse along the trail, who in turned spooked the hell out of me, frickin nature.   Around mile 5 I crested Brawley mountian where there is an old, I mean really olde,  firetower that has been converted into a repeater for transmitters and was covered with signs saying there may be some frequencies that are harmful to humans here.  Duly noted, and I decided this would be a poor place to tresspass.  After Brawley mountain there is a steep downhill and then an uphill to Tipton before a steep descent to Highway 60 at Wilscot Gap. 

One thing to be noted about this trail, if you are running with the hopes of long range views, they are not to be found on this trail, especially during the summer.  Foliage is jungle-esque.  With that being said, the forest is rather mature in some parts and undergrowth is minimal, except for a sea of ferns.  The sides along some of the trails descending down to Highway 60 are are about 80 degrees leading into deep, dark coves.  There are also plenty of areas to rehydrate just a few hundred feet from the trail if you do not want to carry too much with you.

ropeNow the most important part of the run was very very close to the end.  The last half mile return to Aska is along the Toccoa, and as soon as you come out of the woods if you hang a left instead of just finishing your run, and go for a bout a fifth of a mile you come to a killer rope swing straight into a nice chilly Toccoa.  This is the best way to end a run.  I am thinking about going back next week and just running to the rope swing and spending the day there.  Solstice spent on a rope swing… I see an orthopedist in my future.

“If these people were on the skyline, and kept their eyes open, they would see the things that the giant could see.”
– Benton MacKaye, 1921

Humble Pie

7 06 2009

Today I went on my first run since breaking my toe in a tragic beach chair accident, that somehow I managed not scream obscenities about, the breaking of the toe, not the run.  Serenity… I seriously doubt it.  I have been impatiently waiting for a few weeks for this day.  I figured since I had spent some of the days the past few weeks doing trail maintenance at Sope Creek and we opened the new sections of trails yesterday, this would be a great place to go today.  And it was, well sort of.

The new reroutes on the Sope Creek trails are cool, but they shut down some of the old trails for erosion control.  I was not happy about this, especially since it was my job yesterday to post the “Area closed” signs.  I do not like losing trails, especially some of the best hills in the system, however this is only phase 1 of trail construction so there are more miles of new trails to come.  The new sections are ultra smooth, have great sight lines, and will hopefully not hold any water.  SORBA of Atlanta has been integral in making this happen and has garnered more than their fair share of volunteers thanks to trail steward Charles Myrick’s efforts.  He is a true advocate of not just mountain bikers, but of the trails themselves.  

Anyway back to my humble pie.  The run was the afternoon activity of the day, and I started the run with the idea of being on the widest flattest trail in the system, so as to not jar the toe too much.  Pain was minimal in the beginning and I settled into a slower than  normal pace, but I am ecstatic to be back running again.  I can tell my fitness has taken a little dive.  I think it has something to do with the time off, but more something to do with the EYE OF THE TIGER eyeing too much ice cream.  You scream.

I cruised along and was feeling ok, until I reached the downhill on the first new section of trail, and my toe began yelling obscenities at me that would make a kid with Torettes feel sorry for him.  Anyway, I pushed through knowing it was not too long of a down hill and I would be safely on uphill soon enough.  I did this for a few miles, and finally resigned to a walk/run/gimp strategy to make it back to the car.  It does not hurt bad to hike, so this seemed to be the way to go.

It was all well & good because I managed not to see anyone, so  ego was still in tact.  But it did not stay in tact.  I was hiking along and I was passed by one guy running.  Mind you he said nothing, made no gesture, just cruised on by minding his own business, but he was running, & I was insanely jealous.  Ok, if he can do it I can do it, and with him 10 paces or so in front of me I started running.  My toe yelled at me “who the f&%k do you think you are?”  I answered “Rocky, now shut up.”

Apparently my toe has a golden glove and I swear to (insert favorite deity here) it sucker punched me.

I stopped running, and settled back into my hike watching the runner in front of me trudge up the hill.  I’m thinking I want to do that, but resigned to being a hiker.  Hiking is not so bad, you notice things you do not normally see:  Owls hooting, Magnolias blooming, New contours in the landscape.  You also see things you do not normally see, or ever want to see, like a mother & her college daughter running together and passing you… UGH… but here come the real kicker, they each had a poodle with them.  I got passed by POODLES.    

Back to the waiting game, and taping of the toe, in hopes of a miraculous heal in the next couple of days. 

Does anyone have a better recipe for humble pie?


22 04 2009

It  has been a while since my last post, but I am going to do my best to get  back on it.  Since my last post, I have run at a nuclear facilty, been to Canada, raced in the Crescent City Classic twice, and have been prepping for Summer solstice 2009.  More to follow soon.

A week of firsts

17 02 2009

I believe I am a creature of habit, however this week I branched out & did a few new things, while none being extraordinary or “extreme,” they did have to be extremely different.

My events of difference began on Thursday night at the Versace show that was hosted at the Mason Murer gallery.  The people from New York hosting the event were slightly different than I am used to dealing with for events, but that should have been expected.  The social graces of the Souh eluded them. Though, through brief conversation I learned however that they felt acclimated because they had participated in the ingestion of Gritz.   Seriously this was how it was stated to me.  Among the preparation for the show there was a lot of shouting, no malice with it though, I just believe that is how many people in this world communicate.  My favorite quote of the evening was from a woman who worked in the gallery, when I made a commnet about the differences,reminded, me “we are dealing with another region.”  Well said.  I have never been one to claim that I was proud of my Southern heritage because of the negative connotation,but I beleive those days are over.

The show allowed me to ponder a few things, not on an existential level, but a few notches below.  I was looking at the difference between myself and all the others in attendance and was noticing some major differences.  However after making a conscious effort at the beginning of the year to find similarities I have with people rather than differences  I made an attempt at switching gears.  What I did discover was passion;  there is no doubt everyone in the room had a passion and a true sense of excitement about fashion & pop culture in general.  These people care just as much( if not more) about clothes, shoes and handbags as I do about trail running and being outside in the woods.    Once I had this revelation and accepted it the night became much more interesting for me.  I feel like I may have grown a little… just a little.

My next first, was on Saturday, and I shifted gears entirely from a Versace to a couples yoga class in Bryson City led by an old room mate and good friend, Melanie Leithauser.  I do not think under any other circumstances I would have attended a yoga class, but it being Valentine’s day I figured now was the time.  I am glad I did it,  I have a whole new respect for Yoga. I do not like to admit, but I think I am sore from exalting the sun and lifting Baddha Konasana… WTF?  Not the WTF for being sore, but who came up with these names?  The whole thing might be easier to digest and if I did not feel like I shoud have attened a drum circle at some point.  By the way pass me the bong, not in a Snoop Dog  or Michael Phelps way, but in I follow Panic & know all their set lists kind of way.  Twirl Hippie twirl.

In all fairness I truly enjoyed the class and it was really fun to be able participate with Rinne.

For dinner we were invited to join Chris & Anne at their house on top of the mountain. I wish I could convey properly in words what it was like to be there amongst freinds.  It was if several years had not passed and was liking walking into Cheers.  I knew everyone in the room and most of their dogs, very unlike any dinner parties in  the ATL, well at least ones that are not at our house.

My next first, was learning to play Texas Hold em and Bob Hatcock held my hand through most  of it.  Not in a gay way, but rather in an a wiser teacher learning a young student type of… wait this is starting to sound kind of Greek isnt’ it.  No matter, I was taught some of the finer points of the game, and they started to take my money.  However this being Greek & all fate stepped in and saved my ass, ( and for those keeping with the greek theme, not literally you sickos).  Apparently I should have played the lotto on Saturday night, because my luck was in overdrive…

New baseline for technical- The Cumberland Trail

10 02 2009

I have been wanting to hike into North Chick since I first ran it in a kayak about 14 years ago and scared myself nearly to death.  I had been back several times since for paddling and a little light hiking ,swimming around the bowling alley section but this  would be the first real attempt of the gorge as a trail-run.

Here is a view of the area and the gulch.

Click here to learn a little more about the  Cumberland trail in the North Chick Gorge

Elevation Profile for Cumberland Trail

The run started at the take out for the river in the the old Bowater pocket wilderness parking lot. There is a nice climb in the beginning but I was so stoked about being out there and the amazing views  that I did not even notice it, and the first real climb came in around mile 1, and you will without a doubt notice it.  Not only is it nice and steep; it is so close to the Bowater parking lot that there are other people out there attempting to hike it with cigarettes and small children in hand, at the same time mind you.  Also I figured it would be relatively easy to pass them given the circumstances, however as family units they proved capable of moving up the mountain at a decent clip.  But I was not deterred and eventually was able to overtake them and keep cruising up the trail.

Now the trail itself, while being nice and steep,  is part of Walden’s ridge and the cumberland plateu, so after the initial climb there are no more major climbs unlike the Blue Ridge mountains to the east that I am more used to running. This I thought was going to be a nice reprieve, however I forgot to factor in the stresses of tiny hills.

img_0173In addition to the small hills this is one of the most technical trails I have been on to date. I should have just run the creek bed for as many rocks as I encountered.  The Cumberland trail follows an old road for the first mile or so that has been washed away leaving many of the rocks exposed, but then the real technical parts are under the cliff line.

It was almost like a video game, not a new video game but something like Pitfall ala Intellivision.  Some large plate rocks you would step on and they would be as solid as bedrock, while others would teeter and shift.  You could not tell which ones would move by looking at them, so it was random guessing and hopping, hoping for the best.  I wound up on the ground several times laughing; but with none of the cool sound effects from Pitfall.

img_0186In addition to the technical challenges,the trail is poorly marked.  Sure you can spray paint and write your name on the walls at your leisure, but apparently marking for purposes other than declaring your love for Lurleen are not encouraged.  Just so Rinne, does not feel unloved, I promise upon my next visit, to bring a can of spraypaint so Southeast Tennessee knows how much I truly care for you.  I apologize for not being able to do so this time around. It will not happen again, because I am purchasing a pocket size can of spray paint for such occasions.

LaddersAnyway, I missed the trail turns a few times and had to do some backtracking along the cliff-lines, and came to something I though was only reserved for trails in Canada.  Being the litigous society that we are I did not think a stater recreation area would allow these things, but I am grateful that they do.

When you climb this set of stairs and ladders, you reach one of the coolest views on the trail, but be careful there are no rails to keep you from getting becoming part of the view.  You can play around with the view by clicking here. (If you think google earth is cool you will enjoy this, you can pan around with the view and switch to aerial.)

I took in the view and got a little to close to the edge on a wobbly rock… boooo!  After that I decided to take in the views while holding onto trees.   After this overlook you are along an old road for about a mile, passing an old mine, and then you drop back down into the gorge (if you are following the trail) and follow the middle cliff line with the super technical rocks.  I however, chose a different path, that led me to some amazing waterfalls, one which you cross with the aid of a cable, which is absolutely necessary unless you are Spiderman.

I kept cranking along and I kept losing the trail.  I thought it would follow the cliff lines at certain points, but it would meander off into the woods, and other times there were obvious trails into the woods, but as it turns out the Cumberland  trail would follow the cliff line and not the obvious path.  Lesson learned.

I definetly want to go back and explore this trail again soon. The views are amazing, and it is going to be great for swimming when it warms up in the summer.  In addition there are a plethora of waterfalls, and even areas for water bouldering, if you are willing to turn your run into a multi-sport adventure day.



8 02 2009

OK maybe that is a little extreme but I did go to Catholic school.  Since I last posted, I have been to Sun Valley and spent incredibly too much time on the kiddy slope, went snowshoeing, attempted to cross country ski, discovered the wonders of facebook (hence no real entries), ran the coosa backcountry trail, allowing me to finish the last couple of miles of the Duncan ridge trail, and paced Jon Obst during the last 8 hours of his 26 hour birthday run.  Now, tha I have hit the highlights of January I can attempt to get back to regular entries.