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My Running Weekend

Submitted by Rush   5/24/2022      0 Comments

Friday night my partner and I hiked up Bowlens creek about a mile and camped out just off the trail. Around 7:30 the next morning we started to hear the first of the Quest for the Crest 50K runners coming down the trail. We greeted and spoke with several runners catching a few on their way down and then again as they were climbing back up toward the Black Mountain Crest Trail Full results of this year's run here.

Sunday I got up early and ran the A.T. from Sam's Gap north to Big Bald and back. I could just about do this run with my eyes closed but there is nothing boring about this 13 mile, 3200' of climbing, round trip. Steep grinds, runnable stretches, and fantastic 360 degree views from the bald. Spoke with one older through hiker, making his way from Georgia to Maine. He said it was the first time in his life he'd gone eight days without a bath or shower. Gotta love it! My run felt good. Six weeks of PT have done wonders for my hip, though my left knee is still a little tight from the road 5K I jumped into a few weeks back. Note to self: stay off the hard stuff and forget about trying to run fast.

This video about Sage Canaday's recovery from Pulmonary emboli is worth a watch.

Run with humility, gratitude, and joy.


Touching Base

Submitted by Rush   5/16/2022      0 Comments

It's been 3 years now since I've run an event, but I'm still running. I've been averaging between 20-40 miles a week depending on the week. Caution around COVID kept me from signing up for events until 2 weeks ago when I ran a local 5k, with zero training other than my ongoing "maintenance mileage". One issue I've had to deal with is that during COVID, I stopped doing my supplemental core, hip, and glute strength work and ended up with a BAD case of tendonitis in my right hip; re-aggravating an old injury from 2011.

My employer offers free PT so I'm ending a six week series of visits that has definitely helped. I'm back in a routine of doing strength work and completely convinced that I cannot run more than 20 miles a week without the additional strength training. I'm very busy with a couple of home remodel projects in addition to my regular 9-5 job so I haven't put any events on my calendar. I did a steep 8 miles on the Buncombe Horse Trail yesterday and it felt good to be in the woods and to have everything in working order when I got done. About to go out and do an easy 3 at lunchtime. My running is still important but it has transitioned into a more laid back part of my routine vs the hyper focused, 110% total dedication when training for an event. I'm happy to be still running.


2019 Fontandango 50 Mile

Submitted by Rush   2/11/2020   1581428943   0 Comments

Writing this up almost a year after the event. I finally made it back to the Fontandango 50. This race was my first attempt at 50 miles back in 2015, but that year I went out too fast and stopped at 30. As a consolation, I did come in 3rd at the 50K distance, but I'd never DNF'd before and that nagged at me so it was great to come back and knock this 50 miler out.

The race is 5 loops around a 10 mile loop of single track and some road grade. The terrain is mostly rolling with a few short steeper sections and one brutal mother of a hill at mile 8 that feels damn near vertical on the 5th lap. RD Aaron Saft was at the start/finish line every lap cheering runners on, offering encouragement, smiling and telling jokes.

My plan was to start out easy, stay comfortable until 30 and then see if I could push some in the final two laps. The last lap was my fastest of the day. I finished just after darkness fell super elated to have come back and managed the race much better the 2nd time.

In 2015 I got up super early the morning of the race and drove 2.5 hours from my home. This year, I booked a room at the Fontanna Village for Friday and Saturday nights and that made the experience much easier.

I finished in 12:14, 15th out of 51 finishers and 2nd in my age group.


2018 Quest for the Crest 50K

Submitted by Rush   9/4/2018   1536096846   0 Comments

Or - how I felt bad from the minute I stepped off the bus.

This year's QftC was preceded by days and days of rain, to the point that a portion of the race had to be rerouted on race day to avoid what had become a potentially dangerous creek crossing. The course was reduced to miles and miles of inundated trails running like creeks, shin deep puddles, and shoe sucking mud. If the conditions weren't bad enough, this was the first race I've ever done where I felt like crap from the very first step. Not the way you want to start a 32 mile, 12,000+ feet of climbing kind of day.

The weekend before the "hardest 50K in the east" as RD Sean Blanton calls this race, I'd done the Cradle to Grave 30K. I took that race very easy except for hammering the last 4, very flat miles. I think that effort took more out of me than I realized. In addition, there was no warm up time before the Crest started. We got off the shuttle bus, lined up and boom, we were running. The morning was warm with 100% humidity and I could tell immediately I had very little in my legs.

We log jammed up Woody Ridge, people slipping and falling in the mud. Topping out on the Crest Trail was spectacular as always. The descent down Bowlen's Creek was uneventful and the climb back up was tough as I had no energy or pop. The sawtooth Crest trail with it's endless short steep climbs and drops was challenging to move with any sense of speed. Dropping down Colbert's Ridge trail I heard someone talking about the 12:15 cutoff time. 12:15 ???? What??? Then I remembered Sean coming onto the shuttle bus at 4:30 in the morning and making announcements and somewhere in my sleep deprived brain I then recalled him saying something about adjusting the Colbert's Creek Rd cutoff to account for the course change. Holy crap, this was going to be close! I'd never, ever, run anywhere near to an aid station cutoff, but as I emerged off the Colbert's Ridge trail, a guy with a clipboard said, "Number 361, you have SIX MINUTES to get out!" In what felt like only a few seconds he bellowed, "You've got FIVE MINUTES to get out!" And so on. I scrambled with my drop bag. Stuffed as much food in my face as I could and got out with three minutes to spare; heart hammering, feet slapping down the pavement.

We ran up Rock Creek Rd about a mile and half, and cut back into the woods. At the next aid station I did some math and realized that I'd have a much more generous window to make the next cutoff. So began the long slog up Buncombe Horse trail; still nothing in my legs, though I do recall starting to pass a few people. The climb up Big Tom Spur was brutal, but only a harbinger of scaling Big Tom and Mount Craig with their near vertical rock faces. On top of Craig, you can see the Mt Mitchell parking lot and a very cheery photographer told me that I only had one more mile to the aid station. I started to pick up steam a little.

The Mt. Mitchell aid station was where I finally found my mojo. I had some good food and cold Coke, but I think it was knowing that the bulk of what was left was downhill that flipped my mental switch. Likewise, I had done this section a couple of times recently so I knew exactly what the terrain was like. My legs felt strong and my head cleared as I powered up to the observation tower and began to pound the 5 mile descent. True to form, the skies opened up just as I was entering the Black Mountain campground. I sprinted as hard as I could go to the finish, where Sean greeted me with a high five, a pint glass, and a wooden finisher's medal. I said, "man, I've never felt so bad for so long, and I've done THIS race before." The post-race food was plentiful and delicious. My friend Aaron Saft won the thing. My young friend Tim, who I saw many times running up and down Bowlen's Creek trail in the weeks leading up to the race, finished 9th.

This race is amazing. I've done it twice and now, with the full route approved by the State Park, it has reached its full, glorious, leg-crushing, potential.


Return to Woody Ridge

Submitted by Rush   3/11/2018   1520776695   0 Comments

I hadn't climbed the unrelenting steepness of the Woody Ridge trail since May of 2015 during the Quest for the Crest 50K. In preparation for that race, I climbed the 2.5 mi, 3100' elevation gain four times, then again on race day. I can't really describe how steep this trail is other than saying it gets to nearly 70% grade in a few places.

I started up the trail at 7:30 this morning, mostly hiking but running where I could. At 30 minutes, I hit what I call the boulders where the trail just gets insanely steep. This morning that's also where the snow line began and I trekked up through 3,4,5 inches of snow. Without trekking poles or YakTrax, the going was slow. The temperature was around 40' and the air was dead still, until I reached the Crest Trail then POW!! the wind was unbelievable. Deep drifts of snow and a dark sky in the west as I traversed over to the Bolens Creek trail. I ran the four miles down to the bottom, touched the gate, turned around and headed back up. When I reached the Crest trail an hour and thirty eight minutes later, the clouds were sitting right on top of the mountain and everything was socked in.

Descending Woody Ridge with several inches of snow was downright treacherous and I had two hard falls. I'm convinced I'm ready for trekking poles.

15 miles round trip, 12,000' of elevation change.


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