My goal for this year, my 50th year, is to complete a 50 mile event. I've chosen Georgia's Cruel Jewel (May 20th), called the hardest 50 in the east, for my 2nd attempt at the distance.
I made an attempt at 50 miles in March, 2016 at the Fontandango 50, a ten mile loop course. I dropped after 30 having gone out way too fast and ended up with a mild case of Ketosis. I learned much in that race, mostly that I could have recovered and continued without dropping.
My plan for this spring is this: trail marathon in March, trail 50K in April, Cruel Jewel in May. Last Sunday I crossed the first item off the list, completing the Northern Trails marathon in 4:42. That's not particularly fast, but I approached the race as a training run for the Jewel; fully loaded pack, very easy pace focused on starting very relaxed and letting other runners go. My plan was to stay at an 11:00 minute per mile pace until I hit the last aid station, mile 21, and then push the last 5 miles. The plan worked perfectly. While I finished 11/22 for the event, I ran the 4th fastest time of the day over that last 5 miles. The push stretched out my recovery a few days longer, but psychologically, the effort was well worth it. Full results here.
My body is feeling solid as I start focussing on the Hungry Mother 50K set for April 22nd.
Submitted by Rush 3/20/2017 1490016808
she will be hurricanes
she will be whitewater
she will be slow dark rivers searching for the sea
she will be clear cold mountain streams falling over ancient stones
Submitted by Rush 3/9/2017 1489029195
First time running the Table Rock Ultras 50K and, hopefully, it won't be the last. I came into this race with a bad bout of tendinitis in my hip which also had triggered my IT band. I had cut my mileage way back starting about 3 weeks prior to the race and really just hoped to be able to finish.
The race starts in the Steele Creek Campground along NC 181, meanders through a HUGE pasture / meadow before entering the treeline. I was glad the leaves were still on the trees as the day got HOT (92 degrees when I left around 2:30 pm) and the shade was plentiful. The route is a mixture of grassy road grade, graveled forest service road, and some super gnarly single track with six or so shin-deep stream crossings. The aid stations were well placed for me, carrying a single water bottle and only once, in the 5.4 mile stretch between aid stations #5 to #6 did I empty my water bottle (but only for the last 10 minutes before hitting #6). The stations were well stocked with AMAZING volunteers, ice water buckets with big sponges, and even some TailWind drink mix. Speaking of TailWind, this is the first race I've done in which I drank TailWind the entire distance and I have to say, on a hot and humid day, my energy levels stayed great and I never got dehydrated. Good stuff!
The highlight of the route is the steep 2.4 mile climb up to the the race's namesake, Table Rock. The views were STAGGERING but the top was swarming with flies. A couple of quick pics and I was headed back down. I feel like the large amount of vertical training I do on the A.T. and in the Black Mountains really helped today as I was able to run and power hike my way to the top without totally redlining. I saw several runners lying beside (or right in the middle of) the trail with their legs up or just sitting exhausted. I was really more worried about the long downhill's impact on my IT band, but it held together as I practiced my day's mantra - Don't press, don't stress. I paused several times to stretch a little bit. I did quite a bit of 80/20 (run 80 steps, walk 20) on the long ascents and even some of the descents to rest my aching hip. Coming out of the tree line and into the completely exposed meadow in the hottest part of the day was a challenge, but that last leg is only a mile or so. I was happy to cross the line running strong. No cramps, no falls (though I did slip in the creek once). MAN it felt good to sit in the stream after the race!
Psychologically, I approached this race differently, knowing that my hip/IT band were going to be a limiting factor. Rather than focusing on an overall time or an overall pace, I just focused on running aid station to aid station, telling myself, "All I'm doing right now is a 5.4 mile run to aid station #3. That's all I'm doing." I got to where I could predict, to within a couple of minutes, when I would arrive at the next aid station and that was psychologically rewarding. In addition, I ran the last 10 miles or more in solitude, and following a tip I heard on the Ultrarunner Podcast I gave myself verbal reinforcement, saying things like, "Rush, you're doing great. You're not pressing, your not stressing. You're relaxed, you're managing your hydration and nutrition really well. Your head's clear, your hip feels good, knee feels good, you're doing a great job!" This may sound silly (or even a little crazy) but I definitely believe it helped keep me in a good place throughout the entire race.
In short, a super well organized race with plentiful camping if you want/need to come down the day before with a fun and challenging course that offers 360 degree views from the top of Table Rock. They do start a 30K version about 30 minutes after the 50K went out and I got passed by a couple of the gazelles, but it was no big deal. Check it out!
Submitted by Rush 9/27/2016 1475010704
The weekend before the Table Rock Ultras 50K, I went out for 10 miles on the A.T. heading north from Chestoa at the Nolichucky River crossing.
Submitted by Rush 9/27/2016 1475009559
A short video from the high point of the Buncombe Horse Trail taken Saturday, August 20, 2016. About a 14 mile run up/down.
Submitted by Rush 8/29/2016 1472476422
Some short videos from runs this summer.
Submitted by Rush 8/28/2016 1472401095
This week I passed a milestone; 10,000 miles in my running log. The log dates back to 2006, the year I turned 40 and decided to run my local, fall, 5K.
Submitted by Rush 8/11/2016 1470924223
This weekend, I completed a section of the A.T. between roads NC-197 and NC-226, a steep section that climbs over the Beauty Spot, one of the many panoramic balds along the NC/TN border. The trail then staggers over Unaka Mountain before dropping into the appropriately named Low Gap. From Low Gap the trail smooths out some as the big climbs are over until reaching NC-226. With this 12 mile stretch completed, I've now run a 50 mile stretch of the A.T. near my hometown.
I hope to keep adding sections, both north and south, and see how much I can do.
Submitted by Rush 6/5/2016 1465145410
Due to some unforeseen life circumstances, my running of late has been restricted to shorter jaunts around town and on my lunch hour. I've missed late spring on the trails. Saturday morning, I was able to carve out a few hours and got to head up Bowlens Creek trail (8 minute drive from the house).
I found the woods rich and lush, sporting a thousand shades of green. The day was cool and overcast and the temps dropped as I climbed the 4.5 miles and 3000+ feet up to the Black Mountain Crest trail. I topped out in 1:22 which is only four minutes off my FKT, so I was moving pretty well. The top was completely shrouded in clouds and fog, the wind was howling with temps in the mid 40's. It was FANTASTIC! I trotted over to the Woody Ridge Trail and descended down that beast-mother for 20 minutes or so; down to the first rock outcropping. The wind blowing through the South Toe Valley staggered me and roared in my ears; the valley below opening up in brief gaps between the river of clouds rolling by. I could have sat their all day, but my hands were getting cold and I was eager to attack the steep climb back up to the Crest trail.
I was thinking much about the Quest for the Crest 50K that's coming up the second weekend of May. I've not put in nearly enough climbing, but I hate to let that crazy race, right here in my home town, along these same trails, go by without participating. We'll see..
The woods restore me. The quiet, the trees, the birds, the solitude, the enormity of nature remind me that I'm just a speck carried along by the currents of life. Control is a mirage and change is the only sure thing. I'm still carrying the running mantra: Be here now. Run the mile you're in. Let that shit go.
Submitted by Rush 4/25/2016 1461597952
Following the Hal Koerner 50 mile training plan I ran my first 30+ mile training run on Saturday, April 2nd. The day started at Buck Creek Gap (intersection of HWY 80 South and the Blue Ridge Parkway). Followed the Mountain to Sea trail west 8 miles to the Black Mountain Campground. The trail continues, overlapping the Black Mountain Trail 5.5 miles to Mt. Mitchell. Just below the summit, the trail intersects with the Commissary Ridge Trail (overlapped by the Buncombe Horse Trail) veering off to the left. Going down Commissary about a mile the BHT begins a 4.2 mile descent to South Toe River Road. About 2.2 miles down STRR back to the Campground where I rejoined the Mountain to Sea Trail back to Buck Creek Gap. Quite a day. Never thought I'd do a 50K as a training run.
Submitted by Rush 4/10/2016 1460307002