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…


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.


18 08 2008

Spent the weekend in NC, arriving late Friday night too much cooler than Atlanta temperatures, which was more than pleasing to me. On Saturday morning I woke up and did a nice 4.5 mile run on Flint Ridge which is directly above the NOC where you gain about 700 feet in the first mile of the run. The Flint Ridge trail was built as part of a trail building camp hosted by NOC and IMBA a few years ago, so the result is a nice smooth trail that is is mountain bike friendly the whole way. Translation: the whole thing is runnable because of the grades not being ridiculously steep. After the fun climb in the beginning it is a nice rolling trail that you can get moving fast on. This was a nice warm up fro what was to come Sunday.

I spent Saturday afternoon teaching a friend to paddle on the Nantahala. I forgot this river imports its water from a glacier. I can not believe I spent a good part of my life in this river without jumping inside a woodstove like our friend from Plumtree.

Now onto Cheoah…

Trevor, never one to turn down stupid adventures, came to join me for the Cheoah Bald “bad idea” run. This is is part of his preparation for his first marathon in November. The area was packed with people who were planning on kayaking the Cheoah the next day, and Trevor and I were mistaken by a few as kayakers when we told them our plan was to run to Cheoah.  I was slightly insulted (not sure why),  my priorities have shifted a little to say the least, as there was a time when paddling was all I thought about, & cheoah meant really only one thing to me.  Dont get me wrong, not that paddling is not fun, I just do not have the drive that I once did, plus if you only do it about 10 days a year, things can start to get scary again, yeah Horsepasture!

We started our approach to Cheoah bald on the Bartram trail along Ledbetter creek at roughly about 1900 feet. When we started to cross the creek we came across the President of the NC Bartram trail Society building a bridge across Ledbetter creek. Spoke with him for about 5 minutes and thanked him for his work and discussed volunteer opportunities as I feel like I owe some serious time in the trail maintenance department.

To give you an idea of how steep the first section is, it took us 23 minutes to climb .9 miles and my heart rate was in the 150s. The trail diverts away from Ledbetter during this time, but comes back to the creek and you follow it for its entirety until it runs dry, well at least this year. We ran what sections we could along this part, but for the most part, this was just an anaerobic hike. After the creek goes dry you can run at a decent pace for about a 1/4 of a mile, where you cross an unused forest service road. At the junction of the road and trail I believe there was a butterfly convention. I have never seen so many in one place before, and the variety of colors, it was like a being surrounded by a bunch of flying flowers, not to mention there were flowers, although that had not taken flight, (I am still somewhat of grounded.)

Elevation Profile. Apparently I fell off the mountain 33 minutes in, and it did not hurt as much as I thought it would.

After the butterfly convention we headed back into the woods for the most miserable climb of the day. And by miserable, I mean painful, and by painful I mean i hurt in a place I did not know existed in my body. The trail was goregeous but relentless in its ascent. This is for about a 1/4 of mile before it makes a sharp right hand turn and becomes a manageable climb. Whoever blazed this trail was one tough… person. We continued up and met up with the AT about a 1000 feet from the summit.

Cheoah bald is at an elevation of about 5064 and roughly 4.25 miles from the mouth of Ledbetter creek. A little over 3000 vertical feet not counting any ups and downs in about 1:34 . This is the fastest I have made it up here. We dropped our hydration packs, broke out Gator Ades, Clif Bars and the camera and enjoyed the views. The dogs enjoyed the rest, and the extra food packed for them. I became chilled much faster than I anticipated on an August day, so we packed up took a few pictures and started moving.

We started the rapid descent from the bald and Trevor, tried to wrap himself around a tree, and was fairly successful. Luckily his pack afforded him some protection, not much but some. When he & I run together it is usually me who ends up hurting himself, so this was a nice change, but was in the front of my head the whole time. We dropped down to Sasafrass Gap, 732 foot descent in about a mile. Only 7 more miles to go, and my quads were yelling at me already. We managed to keep a good pace, and were much more talkative on the way down than on the way up. We were able to run most of the trail except a few steep rocky declines and a couple inclines. Even the smallest of ascents had my quads yelling expletives to the rest of my body within 10 seconds of staring a hill. We continued on down to the Nantahala for a total of 12 miles for the day with a total time including our rest on top of Cheoah in about 4 hours. I climbed into the icy cold river and soaked my legs along with Java soaking his entire body, 12 miles was rough on the both of us.


10 08 2008

Small break in the weather here in Atlanta on Friday, and I believe I ran the fastest I have run in a long time  What a difference 10 degrees makes.  In keeping with the flow went on a 20 mile road ride on Saturday and realized that when riding I always look over my left shoulder, which means I look with my left eye for traffic.  I had never noticed this before, and realized how this is now a challenge.  My left eye is not completely back to normal which causes the vision to still be a little distorted.  I guess I am going to have to be more conscious of it all now.  

After the ride Trevor and I wen on a nice casual pace run.  It is the very least I could do since Trevor led the bike ride at a comfortable pace.  We went to Sope and headed towards the river.  I thought we should run down to the river and straight back up and decided Graveyard trail would be the easist one to go down for footing.  I chose poorly…

Roughly 200 yards into the trail my left foot caught a root and I like many causes of the common cold, was airborn.  I thought I would be able to pull my feet under me, but as soon as that thought came in I was on my chest sliding down the trail.  My water bottle abandoned ship on the way down and landed about 10 feet from me.  Trevor caled “safe,” and pointed out that I had slid about 5 feet.  I could not get up at first, as I was doing a mental check to see if my body was ok, and then I could not get up because  I was laughing.  Its been a while since I have taken flight running.  When I got home I noticed the waist band of my shorts was full of debris from the slide, and I had some brusies to match those on my arm underneath the shorts.  

Now off for a Sunday jaunt, that will hopefully be less exciting.


27 07 2008

Weekend started early Saturday morning, well at least early for me on a Saturday, I was out of the bed by 6:30 and headed to the Ocoee for a little paddling tune up with Preston.  I planned on sleeping in the car a little bit on the drive, however I made the mistake of drinking 4 shots of espresso which blew that idea out of the water.   

We arrived and were on the river relatively early, and it was not crowded at all.  I have been paddling for over 20 years, but I came across a two things on Saturday that I had never seen on the river or at the river.  First Preston caught a shuttle with a guy who scubae dives in the river looking for buried treasure, that have been lost by those having out of boat experiences.  Preston told me about his shuttle and I had to go talk to the guy. He was proud of his assortment of things he had found, and his most prized possesion was the Mr. T gold necklace he was sporting.   I tiold him I was jealous.  He also dives in the Tennessee right below the aquarium in Chattanooga, and among his treasure finds are lots of old bottles and essentially trash.  But what was most interesting was the guy told me the river is only 18 feet deep in front of the aquarium. There is a very slim chance you will ever find me scuba diving, much less in the Tennessee, even if you can guarantee me finding a gold necklace.

Secondly, I saw a guy wih no legs on a raft trip.  I saw him coming down the ramp at the put-in, using his hands to propel himself down the concrete ramp while the rest of his group listened to their trip talk.  I’m not even sure what to say, other than this guy is an inspiration for me.  We left the put-in and paddled down to the staging area and did some drills and tweaked rolls.  After a few minutes they guy wiith no legs paddled down with his raft.  He was hanging onto a rope in the raft and was sitting directly in front of the guide, and had the biggest grin on his face.  He was sitting up like everyone one else in the raft on one of the thwarts.  It can be difficult at times when you have even  both your legs to stay in the raft, but I suppose this guy wanted to experience the raft trip like veryone else, physical disabilities be damned.  No doubt he is going to be my inspiration this week. 

The rest of the trip was uneventful, which is good.  Preston styled everything and seemed confident in his abilities.  Now to see if we can take that away from him.  Glad I’m not learning to kayak from myself. 

Got back to Atlanta late afternoon because of work so I was unable to run in the mountains, and knowing I was going to do a long runer Sunday, I decided to do some sppedwork at the track at Wheeler.  Ouch, now I know why I never had anything to do with track in high school, and will hopefuly not ever again at any point in my life.  Managed 4 quarters, each at 1:24, so I am stoked with my consistency, but destoyed by the fact that some people do that at a much faster pace with hurdles thrown in.  I could not have jumped over a creal box!