Not me, just this blog. I have this one here on a free WordPress site and a couple of others on Blogger sites. Just started to run into too many restrictions with the free site here. The new blog will still be WordPress, just on my own domain, ramblings.lightfighter.us. Well, that’s a sub-domain technically, also working on a Joomla main page and who knows what I’ll experiment with and learn about. Thanks for your patience while I do this.
With the change in weather I’m changing my run tracking app. I’ve been using Endomondo for a couple of months now and will be updating my review for that shortly. For the next… some period of time, I’m going to try using Google’s My Tracks along with Daily Mile. Stay tuned for my experiences and thoughts.
I’m still getting out there 3-4 days a week running, putting in long runs every weekend. Last weekend I did 15 miles for my long run and it felt pretty good. I think I may have learned a couple things that might be helping me out this year.
First, only running 3-4 days a week. Last year I was running 5-6 days a week, I topped out at a long run of 19 miles. But last year I was pretty sore all the time and my speed slowed way, way down. By comparison, this year my speed is actually creeping up on my mid-length runs and staying pretty steady on my long runs at around 10min/mile. I don’t find myself being sore very often either. I have done a bit of cross-training on my roadbike, but not much. Once I get past this marathon and start planning for my first Ultra next year I think I might have to bump up to 4-5 days a week running, but I’ll see when I get there.
Second is nutrition. I have started drinking a high protein smoothy or sports drink within the “magic” 30 minute window after each run. I had really not given this advice much weight before and tried it my own way. Well, I was wrong, it does work very well. Drinking a smoothy within the first 30 minutes makes a huge difference in recovery and it helps with your next run. When I’m not finishing up my runs at home or when I’m traveling I swear by the ABB Blue Thunder recovery drink. It’s marketed to body builders, but it works great and tastes not bad for a drink with 30 grams of protein.
Tomorrow with be a 17 mile long run and it’s supposed to be hot. I’ll be putting my headlamp to work again and plan on completing the run just as the sun comes up. Good thing I spent all those years in the Army as a grunt walking around with NVG’s on all night, makes running with a headlamp a pleasure.
Nec Aspera Terent
In Vino Veritas, by Steve Runner:
I got an opportunity to provide my thoughts for the Phedippidations podcast that is coming out this weekend, episode #275. The episode is entitled, “In Vino, Veritas” and will have some tie in between the philosophical ideas about Truth and truth in running. That’s as much as I know, so I’m interested to hear what he has put together. If you haven’t listened to Steve’s podcast before I would highly recommend it. Not just because I’m going to be on there, it’s a quality podcast well worth your time.
I’m on a white water rafting retreat with my church youth group this weekend near Copperhill, TN. It’s really beautiful up here in the Smokey Mountains, and a bit cooler than Greenville and the humidity is a good bit lower here too. The retreat is going well. The music is being provided by the youth group praise band and the messages by a missionary who is working in Central Asia. With my marathon coming up I have to keep up the mileage.
I got up at my usual 0500 and headed out to the big porch on the cabin to stretch. The view, even in the dark, was amazing. The moon was full and it provided enough light to show all of the mountain ridges surrounding us. The temp was about 70 and if felt great. So, equipped with a headlamp, flashlight, and hydration bladder I set out with only a vague idea of where I was going.
I ran through the camp on the dirt roads, not another person in sight. As I left the property I had to cross a small stream, I knew it couldn’t be too deep since we drive across it, but it was a bit unnerving running it. Turns out it was only about 2-3 inches. Then I set out on the local side street, very dark other than where the moon light spilled through trees. Glad I brought the flashlight. I didn’t use it all the time, but it was helpful to see further ahead and make sure the two cars that passed me saw me.
I had a couple of run ins with dogs while I was out. Luckily they turned out to be friendly dogs, but, I have to say, having a huge rottweiler hop down off the porch and move toward you is not a fun time. In addition to the dogs there were several animals out in the woods that I could only spot by their glowing eyes, a little unnerving.
After my loop around the area I crossed back over the stream in the early grey dawn and headed back through the camp to our cabin. It was still as quiet as when I left. I was still the only person out moving around. It was a great feeling being out far away from the city, all by myself out there running.
I have been thinking about going out to Table Rock State Park and running the trails there for a while now. It’s a beautiful park that’s only about 40 minutes from my house and the trails there form a triangle, perfect for running a loop. Seems I’m not the only one to notice this, the Xterra Trail Run Series is holding a race there on August 20th.
I’ve been out to the park before and hiked the Pinnacle Trail a couple of times. For some reason I had never actually hiked the Table Rock trail. So, while my son was here last week we hiked it. I wanted to see just what I might be getting into. It’s a fairly short trail, about 3.5 miles to the summit. It’s the 1700 feet of elevation change that makes it challenging. I took a couple of pictures while we were hiking, if you haven’t been out to the park I hope they give you a taste of what it’s like.
So, after having hiked the Table Rock trail i figured I’d give running the loop a try. Friday morning I had to drop my wife off early at work for a conference and this worked out perfectly to allow me to get to the park just as it opened. With the temperature near 80 degrees at 5:30 in the morning I knew I had to get out there early. When I arrived I had to wait a few minutes for the park Ranger to show up and open the gates and I followed him in. I parked near the trail head and geared up; Hand bottle with electrolyte mix, Nathan bladder with water, a few GU’s, and phone with armband for music and GPS tracking(track here).
The start of the trail has a combination of asphalt sections and rock stairs. This leads you past the waterfall pictured above. Both the Table Rock and Pinnacle Mountain Trails follow along the Carrick Nature Trail for a short ways(map here). The first mile or so is pretty easy as far as trail runs go, clear wide paths, gentle elevation change. There is enough room on this part of the trail for two people to run side by side. Almost as soon as you depart from the Carrick Trail this all starts to change.
The Table Rock Trail begins to gain elevation and narrow pretty quickly. For most of the rest of the run the trail is close to single track but with lots of places where one could pass another runner. Most of the elevation gain on this trail happens in the next 2 miles, about 1500 feet. I found very few runable stretches on the way up of any significant distance. I found myself using the short stretches of somewhat flat trail to catch my breath for the next set of rock stairs. For this run I took a left onto the Ridge Trail at Panther Gap instead of the right that would have taken me to the summit of Table Rock.
The Ridge Trail continues to climb from Panther Gap. This section is not nearly as well traveled and is very much single track through the woods. As I passed the crest of the ridge I was able to pick up the pace and run more as I headed down into Mill Creek Pass. Being the first person out that way of the day I was treated to many spider webs across the trail and encountered a couple of snakes as well (nothing poisonous). When I arrived at the trail junction for Mills Creek cutoff I took it. I was pretty tired already and knew I still had a ways to go to get back. This very narrow path brought me down to the Pinnacle Mountain Trail in short order.
The Pinnacle Mountain Trail is a bit longer than the Table Rock Trail and the elevation change is not nearly so dramatic. As a result there are far fewer rock stairs and much more runable. Not too fear, there are plenty of rocks and roots on this trail to trip you up. I managed to keep myself to only one faceplant and a couple near misses. By this point I was pretty darn tired. The relatively cool morning mist had burned off and the temp was rising. This kept me moving forward. Near the end of this trail and along the other side of the Carrick Trail the trail crosses back and forth over a stream several times. There are large rocks and a couple of foot bridges to get you across dry for the most part.
The run came in at just over 7 miles in 2 hours with 1700 feet of elevation. Since the Xterra race is a 15K, or 9.3 mile race, I didn’t cover the exact course. As of now I cannot find a published course, but I can guess. If I had continued on the Ridge Trail all the way to Pinnacle Mountain I think I would have added about a mile and some change to my route. On top of that i have to assume that the race will not start right at the trail head as this would be way too cramped a trail to try that on. So, I’m guessing that the race will start and finish about a quarter mile from the trail head and include the Pinnacle Mountain portion I omitted.
I’m still on the fence about running this race. It is billed as “South Carolina’s Toughest 15k.” There is no doubt about that in my mind. I’m hurting from my shorter version of this course. Registration is still open for 12 more days, so I’ll think about it.
It’s been a couple weeks since I got back to running from a forced break and it seems to be going well. I’m really enjoying the road bike I picked up, though I haven’t been able to ride it as much as I would like. Trying to balance life and workouts lately and life usually wins.
I did manage to work in my long run this week while I was traveling to Northern Virginia for a friends funeral. Despite the occasion, it was a nice change of pace to get out and run some unfamiliar roads. Of course, it was the hottest day of the year in the DC metro area. I had planned ahead and brought my Nathan water bladder, which I all but emptied on the 9 mile run. I had forgotten how bad the humidity is in DC. Overall it’s been a good couple of weeks running.
This week is not starting out so well. I road my motorcycle up to DC and it took a serious toll on me. I’m sure a day or two of rest will take care of all that though. Going to get out around lunch today for a short run just to work out the kinks. Less than 90 days to my first marathon, can’t start slacking now.
I’ve not been running for the past week due to a flair up of Plantar Faciitis in my left heel. I jumped my mileage uped bit too much a couple weeks ago, and I have since noticed that the shoes I was wearing on that long run have almost zero arch support. I have slightly high arches and so some arch support is helpful on long runs.
I found a great resource for sports injuries, here. I’ve been staying off my feet as much as possible, stretching and icing. Yesterday my heel was feeling pretty good, so, I waited for today to get out on it. I decided that a short run would be best, and since I was going to do a short run, why not do a really short run? So I broke out my minimalist shoes and did just under a mile run. It felt really good. I think I should keep up a couple days a week with short minimalist runs to help build up lower leg and foot strength.
In addition to my short minimalist run I took a bike ride today. I picked up an older road bike, a Trek 2300 composite:
This is a big jump from riding a mountain bike. I did a little 5-6 mile ride just to get the feel for it. It was a lot of fun riding something so light and fast. I’m looking forward to getting in some longer rides over the next week or so. This should help out by providing some cross training. More importantly, it is something that I can get into trying out some local triathlons. I’d like to try out a sprint or two and see how I like it. Worst case, it’s a fast cross training bike and one I can ride with other road bike riders that I know. It will also give me the ability to ride a century, 100 mile bike race. Not sure what all I’ll do, but I’m sure I’ll have fun trying.
I wrote about this article and how it impacted me on my other blog, here. Many thanks to Steve of Phedippidations for guiding me to look into this more. It is difficult for me to believe that one could be a long distance runner and not be a bit of a philosopher. It seems to me the two things go hand in hand. Running for hours without spending time thinking about God, the nature of man, or some other deep thought would make the whole exercise without meaning or purpose.
To me it is diametrically opposed to, yet accomplishes the same thing as, Zen sitting. In Zen you sit quietly, without moving, until you forget there is body there and you are just focused thought. While running, once you get beyond a certain fitness level and can run for long periods, you find a similar place. The body is kept busy with running, but it becomes something you no longer have to actively think about, you just do it. While the body is busy running, the mind is free to contemplate things.
Going to this quiet place is one of my most treasured parts of my day. For me, it makes running worth doing.