Dark night running-

21 11 2008

Started my trail run from Sope Creek parking lot last night about 5:15 PM, and was bundled for the blast of cold that has hit Atlanta as of late.  I took off with water bottle in hand along with my flashlight in anticipation of the darkness.  I settled into a rather fast pace and it is the best run I have had in a while, I was feeling good, and the miles seemed to be flying by as my head was dreaming of my next big adventure (winter solstice run).

I passed a couple of people on my way down to the river as they were headed back up to the Sope Creek area for running.  It made me smile thinking there were some other people here that were willing to run here in the trails at night. As it started to get darker, I kept fighting the urge to turn on my head lamp as I really enjoying the feeling of being alone in the woods and running at night.  It goes back to something I think from the Pearl Izumi ad campaign of “run like an animal,” which always allows me to feel cool and want to run faster & harder.

I am not an animal.  Bravado got in the way and I would not turn on my head lamp and the result, was straining my quad.  I was heading down hill when my right foot caught something (I swear their is a troll on that hill) and sent me forward and I landed on my left foot, fulling loading my quad, and then collapsing on to the ground, yard-selling all my gear; water bottle, flashlight, one glove and my hat.  I think when i landed I saw dust fly up, but I am not sure because it was so dark.  Hmmmm, looks like I have found out when I need assistance with my night vision. I sat on the ground for a few seconds assessing the situation, and then laughing at myself. Nothing broken, and the only worse for wear as of now is a strained quad, and if I remember correctly, this heals fast. I dusted myself off, and was back up and running, but at a much slower pace, with my headlamp actually turned on this time. Duh!


The sky is falling

15 11 2008

golden fallThe sky is falling the sky is falling!  Well no, not exactly, but it is worth shouting about.  Here in metro Atlanta we have passed peak foiliage and now the leaves are darkening the sky in the woods when the wind blows.  The floor of the forest looks, in places, like blankets of gold.  I got out late this morning for a run around 10 and managed not to see anyone for the first 4 miles of my run.  

Keep in mind this is in Atlanta!  I ran 4 miles at 10 o’clock on a Sarturday morning in fall’s perfect weather and managed not to see anyone until I reached the hooch.  I still do not understand why Atlanta gets a bad rap for not being a good ourtdoor town.  Okay maybe I do understand, once I was off the single track and down by the river, I saw no less than 200 people, but back on the singletrack I was alone again.  It’s like peek a boo for trail runners here.  

The downed leaves provide a little bit of a challenge with my depth perception more so this year since my surgery. It has not affected me too much until now other than night running.  Night running on trails is a like a different leauge after the surgery, but still manageble! 🙂  

Speaking of eye issues, there is a chance I might be candidate for a clinical trial for Eale’s disease which could possibly restore some of my vision. Woohoo!  But for now I am beyond grateful for the vision I have today and being able to see the sights today. 

Even if the sky is falling, I say “Up with Fall!”

Mystery Mountain Marathon

3 11 2008

elevation profile etc click here

This run would be technically my first marathon, and it was my good friend Trevor’s first time to go this distance. We woke up around 5 am on Sunday to start fueling ourselves for the event. It was surprisingly easy to get out of the bed, I think mainly because we were housing 5 dogs at the time. Trevor brought his, we had our normal 3 and we have a visitor for a few months, O-dog, who is wintering in Atlanta instead of North Carolina.

We started our fueling with a few hard boiled eggs, which I think I am going to have to remove form my pre race/ long run regimen, as the thought of them right now makes me feel sick. We loaded the truck with Java in tow for the race. He was antsy on the drive up as he most likely thought he was going to spend the day in the Cohuttas instead of on a leash at an aid station, assisting Corinne, who is out currently because of a twisted morphed ankle. In spite of all that she still showed her full support by volunteering not only to drive us home but work the aid station as well.

We made it up to Ellijay in almost record time and were on the ridge top on Highway 52 in time to see the sun peak over the ridge with a golden amber that would inspire most poets to write line upon line, and may come up with something like “Nature’s first green is gold.” Oh well ponyboy back to the subject at hand, the marathon.

We arrived about 50 minutes before race time and received our race packets in record time. We suited up in our race clothes, thanked Corinne for being our chaperone for the day and volunteering for the race in general. We listened to the pre race instructions, took a pre race photo and headed to the starting line.

We started in the parking lot down at the lake for the only flat part of the course for the day, and we leap frogged a few people exchanging positions for this first mile or so and crossed a road and were greeted by the Race Director, one sicko named Janice Anderson, and the course marker Jason Rockman, who assured us we were looking good. That’s good to know, one mile in and we look ok, so far so good. Once you crossed the road any idea of the word flat was suddenly stricken from the vocabulary. The hills during this first part were not too terrible, and most of the challenges thinking about them were taken away by the overall beauty of the surroundings or talking with Trevor. The first few miles of the trail consisted of rocky, rooty, singletrack and kept you focused on the trail, but in the rare instances I would steal a view to my left, looking out over the valley of holly creek near Chatsworth it was amazing, it was like running along some panoramic shot of the Fall in Appalachia. The view was so amazing it did not seem like it was real.

After being treated to spectacular scenery we were then charged for those views on the climb up to the tower at about mile 5. This was the first time the hills had made it through my adrenaline and I was able to feel them. The feeling, well it hurt, but it hurt in that really good way. The hills kept coming and the scenery deep in the forest away from the long range view was just as good. At some point we saw a couple of deer pass by, but it was somewhere near an uphill so the sight of deer was not of my concern. What was of my concern was keeping the contents of my stomach in my stomach. I thought I had my pre race nutrition dialed in, but apparently I need to do some more lab work concerning that. I managed thanks to Trevor a couple of shot bloks and kept them in my mouth for a few miles, but could not bear to swallow them as my stomach was sending warning signals. I made it to the next aid station at about mile 7 with a half eaten shot block and I forced myself to eat some pretzels and pringles and avoid anything sweet. I got the food down, albeit with some difficulty. Trevor looked at me a few times, hoping that I would toss my cookies, as it would have upped the entertainment value for the day, but somehow I managed to hold on. For about a mile I was not so sure about the race but shortly after that battle things got good for a while. We stayed the course on rolling hills and leap frogged a few positions with people until we got to the aid station at about mile 11.

We took a look at that hill, grabbed a few gels and started our way up the hill. I call it the hill because I recently read a report about infamous hills in races like the Peachtree and how they were a big challenge to the motivation of a runner. I am not sure why this would demotivate anyone, as Trevor and I exchanged thoughts about what kind of sick person would think to throw this hill in the middle of the race. Spot on! This climb is not as ridiculous as it looks, however it is still a swift kick and it was not even the hardest climb of the day. Once you crest out you start the most ridiculous downhill along a powerline with a great view of the clear valley floor about 1200 feet below. You cruise down at this gradient for a little over a mile. My toes were attempting to escape the front of my shoes. I have never been so happy for a down hill to end in all my life. I always thought downhills were a nice diversion from the gruelling grind of a good climb, but I have found that I much prefer going uphill…  

I’ll tell the rest of the story later, but needless to say the day was spectacular and we finished 13th overall.  Not bad for a first marathon!, However the lead guys finished about an hour and 45 minutes in front of us.  I think they were on motorcycles.