Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Run For The Border

I've been getting back into running more and more lately and today was a minor milestone for me... the first time I would run 20 miles at one time. (I believe we ran ~29mi in one day during XC camp in High School but I wouldn't count that since it was split up throughout the day known as 'Kenyan Day').

Starting at Crowder's Mountain State Park (main lot) I met up with Kay, Josh and Ashley (not 'my' Ashley) around 8a to try and get the mileage in before the temps got too high.  Even amidst these awesome views, trails and wildlife, being on the trail alone for almost 4hrs could get boring so it was great to have some fellowship for at least the first 12-14 miles.

Crowder's Mt group (thanks to Kay for the pic)

Why do I want to run 20 miles on very technical trails?  Because I want to be able to run an ultramarathon trail race in 8 short weeks (more on the race in a later post).  Why would I want to do an ultramarathon having never run further than 18 miles (before today)?  Not sure that I can really answer that one... just something in me I guess.

START:  75°F, 745' elevation... plans are to run to the South Carolina border and back with some extra mileage added in to get in 20 miles total.

View of Kings Pinnacle from Hwy 85

We all started out really easy with a quick stop off at Kings Pinnacle (elevation 1700') for the mandatory photo op and a chance to take in the views before the 'real' run begins.  Funny to put it that way since we had already climbed around 1,000' feet in the first couple miles but as you can see by the elevation profile and topo snapshots... there were many other 'hills' to climb (not to mention we had to make the return trip).

Topo Map of climb up Kings Pinnacle

You can see from the topo snapshots why the trail we were on once we left Kings Pinnacle was name 'Ridgeline Trail' (blazed with red triangles).  This trail flows up and down several of the peaks but mostly sticks along the ridgeline connecting several of them.  There are many times throughout the run where you can catch some great views peaking through the dense trees to remind yourself of how high up you are (as long as you feel confident enough to take your eyes off your footing for a second).  If you decide to hike this you'd be sure to find yourself taking many of the little offshoot trails to admire the overlooks along the way.

We eventually found our way to the Boulders Access parking lot for a quick water bottle refill... said goodbye to Ashley who had decided to 'only' run 15 today and continued on to the South Carolina state line.

A little history lesson in the middle of the woods about the border between the Carolinas.
The only regret I have of the run was not adding a couple more miles on at this point and continuing into SC some more instead of getting them in at the end.

Kay, Josh and I stuck together for a few more miles taking turns running together with a little less chatting than before.  We thought we might catch Ashley on her way back but she flies on the downhills and we wouldn't see her again until the parking lot.

Kay and Josh at a small climb on the Ridgeline Trail (red triangle blazes)
Barking out to our little group that we had just passed the 1/2 marathon mark seemed to come very quickly as the miles just ticked away.  Eventually I found myself alone as I picked up the pace a little bit and didn't intentionally drop anyone but did feel pretty good.  I stuck to my plan for the first 12-13 miles by taking it very easy to the point where I almost didn't feel any of the run.  My final miles I planned to pick it up a little but still stay 'comfortable' and keep my climbing HR below a set point and my regular flat running and downhill running HR at another point.

I diverted from the main trail (named Turnback) to the parking lot in an attempt to get my extra miles in along the Fern and Lake Trails but after completing Fern I decided it would be smart to stop by the parking lot to fill my empty water, drop all of my non essential gear (hat, shirt, gels, phone, etc) and get my final few miles in around the lake.  This brings me back to earlier when I mentioned wishing I got my extra miles in past the state line instead of now.  Earlier the miles just seemed to melt away, I would blink and it would be 4 miles... next thing I know... 7, then 13 and 16.  But when I was doing laps around the lake just to get up to 20 miles it started wearing on me.  May have been the rising temps, the lack of calories I took in, constantly checking my watch or boredom from no change in scenery, but these miles seemed to drag on.

FINISH:  20mi - 3h 53m - 90°F (heat index 104), 6,000'+ elevation gain, 35oz water, 32oz Nuun, 3 enlyten electrolyte tabs, 2 cliffshot gels (200 Cals), couple powerbar gummies (30 Cals)  (GPS report)

Elevation profile for run (GPS started late and I cut off flat final miles)

Overall the run went really well and didn't feel like I had exerted too much effort in general.  Finishing this report a couple days later, I went for a run Monday night to loosen up and my legs felt tight and heavy for the first 1/2mi or so.  Eventually I loosened up a little but found it funny that I could run uphill and flats with no pain but when it came to downhills my quads felt like they had been shredded and there was considerable pain.  Not enough pain to stop, but still pain or better termed soreness.  First mile of the easy/recovery run Monday felt labored and started around 10min pace but eventually hit 8:45 on mile 1, the next mile and 1/2 I ranged from low 8's to mid/high 7's and felt pretty good overall.  Knees in general are good and only real pain proves to be the bottom front pad of my left foot.  It started hurting 2 miles into Monday's run (total 2.5mi at 8:22 pace).  One odd thing from the long run Saturday... I'll usually lose 4lbs+ at the weigh in the next day but I had actually gained 2lbs.  Then Monday morning I weighed 5lbs more than I had the day before and day of the run.  If anyone knows me they know I could care less about weight or anything.  Just find it odd and think it may have been a sign of improper fueling during the run.

View from Kings Pinnacle looking NW (yes the cliffs drop straight down)
Cliffs of Kings Pinnacle looking South w/ SC border beyond the small peaks yet to be run

1 comment:

  1. Andrew,
    It looks like a beautiful place for a run. Thanks for sharing the view!