What a week this has been! I hit 65-70 miles from Sunday to Saturday and have had several fun runs. Here, let me tell you more.
If I don’t run with Harley, picture me running alone. No music, no banter, just me. This has never bothered me before, but this week I have enjoyed having some running buddies – especially with Harley out of town all week. My best friend’s husband, Jason, joined me out at Sope Creek and Kennesaw’s Kolb Farm. His schedule is perfect for joining me on a regular basis and I sure hope he enjoyed it as much as me. I’m trying to talk him into training for a trail half marathon. Selfishly, I think this will force him to run with me more! I hope he falls for it.
On Saturday, my friend Patti was doing a long run at Cochran Shoals. I had told her earlier I would join her for the last few miles of her 18. I’m glad I made this promise to her as I was introduced to Newport Stormy’s (a delightful mix of light rum and ginger beer) the night before and was happy to shrug off a morning run. On top of this, the sinus infection I’d been sporting all week had now stolen my voice- I still haven’t retrieved it). I made it out there in time to run 5 miles. She did awesome and hopefully I get to join her on her next training run. The weather was perfect Saturday so I talked myself into hitting Kennesaw and running the trail up the back of the mountain. I rationalized it this way: the GUTS runners were having their Mystery Mountain training weekend at Fort Mountain and were running 12 miles of serious single track (the Gahuti Trail). Surely I could break up an 11 mile run that day.
This brings me to today. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say this was my favorite trail running day EVER. I had SO MUCH FUN! I got up at 5:15, unable to talk, made some coffee, took a shower and grabbed my running gear and was on the road to Fort Mountain SP by 5:45. The GUTS crew that camped out up there last night was going to run 15 miles on the 301 bike trail. Based on the elevation profile on their website – it looks like about 2000 feet of ascent and then another 2000 feet of descent. The Fort Mountain website says “the East-West Bike Loop is rated by many as one of the most beautiful and challenging bike trails in the southeastern United States.” I have NO idea how mountain bikers would attack this trail.
So picture me in my car trying to practice talking so these people, most of whom I’ve only met twice, would not think I was a total freak showing up with no voice. Singing along with Dido did little to improve my pharyngeal sitch. I showed with about 2 minutes to spare and walked up to a group of about 20 runners. I was told to look for a large group of runners appearing goofy and sleepy. I fit right in.
We took off along the lake and then went up the power lines. I’ve done enough blog reading lately to know that “power lines” are usually associated with a steep climb – like in today’s case. It was near the top of the power lines that a couple folks spotted a bear. Later I would do some review of bear safety. At this point I’m kind of in a mix of about 8 runners. This was about to change when we hit the initial descent of about 1000 feet. If this was a ski slope it would be a like a triple black diamond. It was OOC – as in out of control. I have still been running with some occasional IT band pain and this descent almost compromised my run. On top of that, there were about a gazillion loose rocks trying to twist my ankle. My new Montrail Mountain Masochist’s were gripping the ground just right and believe it or not – I did not fall all day.
So right after that bitchy part it was me and a guy in blue right up ahead. I would later learn his name was Nils (sorry if I botched that) and I would run with him for the rest of the day. Thank god. I was kind of hoping he was familiar with the course as I suck at directions. The last 2 times I’ve used a map I’ve still managed to get lost. We came up to a pile of sticks and he pointed at them and I still only saw a pile of sticks. When he pointed out the second pile a mile or so later I finally realized those sticks were making an arrow à ! Duh! Thanks to the speedsters who were helping to guide us. Right around in here is where I learned about stinging nettles. Nettles are little forest assholes and they hurt like all get out. Here is a picture of this seemingly harmless looking plant.
A couple of miles later we met up with Sally, Deano and Andrew. The 5 of us stuck together to the end more or less. I was feeling really good about hanging with the Almighty Sally, even if she wasn’t running her race day pace. Yes there were some steep inclines that we had to hike, but other than that I felt like I was running in such good shape. Always running at a conversational pace (except for the hikes up the steep inclines). Luckily we were all pretty chatty as I don’t know that I could have carried the conversation at our pace! (My voice by now was audible but sketchy. Hmm, I don’t think I ever told anyone I was sick. Wonder what they think is wrong with me?) We ran past a waterfall and through lovely rhododendrons. John, who I only met today, had a nice little forest aid station set up for us in the back of his truck. We then found Courtney and David who had gotten lost (not hard to do out there). They are the ones who spotted the bear and lived to take this picture!
And what goes up, must come down. So down the power line and around the lake we went to the finish. We finished in the same spot where the Mystery Mountain Marathon finishes. I’d love to do that race in October but I will be Oaxaca. I know, I know – tough life I lead.
At the end of the race there was a GUTS picnic table set up with all kinds of yummy post-runs treats. Salty, sweet and juicy. Perfect. As was the outdoor shower and fresh deodorant. Today could not have been any better. I am so happy I found this awesome group of people.
A big thank you to Kim and all the GUTS folks who made this such a fun for me and all the others!!!
Weekly Counter 8/19-25
Sun 3.5hrs / Mon 1hr / Tues 1 hr / Wed 1.5hr / Thurs 3.5hr / Fri rest / Sat 2.5hr = 13 hrs (~65-70 mi)