Wednesday, August 22, 2012

22 mile DuPont Waterfalls Trail Run

A few weeks ago, I was running with Stan and he shared that he was taking on this 22 mile trail run where they saw all of these waterfalls. The run sounded interesting and as the date grew closer, I kept mulling it over and finally decided – what the heck, let's do it.

Making life difficult is just how I live my life. The trail run is on a Saturday so I go and commit to a race on the Friday night before hand. The race is in Albemarle and it is at 7:30.

So not only am I committed to racing on Friday night, but I also agree to driving up Friday night so the next morning I can sleep a little later. In theory this all makes sense. In reality, things don't go quite as promised.

Well, I run the Tour De Elvis 5k, cool down, then jump in my car and drive back to Charlotte to meet Megan and Jamaar for the drive to Hendersonville. All along the way, the Stanly, Cabarrus, and Mecklenburg police are out in force making sure I keep my speed down. Add to it that every red light is working against me. Let's just say, it felt like an eternity driving back to Charlotte.

But at least the drive up to Hendersonville was enjoyable. Jamaar and Megan kept the conversation entertaining the entire way.

Somewhere near midnight, I finally settled into my hotel room and by 12:30 I was trying to go sleep. I set my alarm for 7:30 since we had agreed to meet the following morning at 8AM to head out to DuPoint State Park.

Low and behold, my phone starts

vibrating just after 6 AM. Jamaar cannot sleep and wants to hit the breakfast bar. Well, I am up now so I might as well tag along.

I am picking up an apple to eat. Jamaar's going for the biscuits and gravy. Doesn't he realize we are going 22 miles in a couple of hours? I hope he doesn't see it again. Man, he must have a cast iron stomach.

Back in room, I settle in for watching some Elite 11 documentary on ESPN and getting my stuff ready.

I finish dressing and packing. Then, I head down to meet Megan and Jamaar for the short drive to the park.

The weather was nice and the park was easy to find.

We saw Stan, Jinnie, and Mo who were also running the course.

Special note on packing here, I packed my two hand helds for the run. But when I pulled them out, I realized I forgot the tops. I felt like a total knuckle head. How can someone pack the bottles and not the caps? Wasn't I paying attention? Apparently, I wasn't.

But Jinnie came to my rescue with another larger hand held bottle. So I ended up being all set. With Cliff Shots and plenty of water what else did I need.

Oh, yeah, I needed a map.

Adam, one of the run organizers, provided maps and turn by turn directions for the run. He did an awesome job. Otherwise, I am almost certain that I

would still be out there running.

We start off and almost immediately we go up hill. Man, I am not ready for this terrain just yet. My legs are screaming and lungs don't like it. After a mile or so, my quads are burning and my breathing is labored to say the least. And, I still have 21 miles to go.

We break into this old fire road. Slowly my body is warming up and my systems are returning some level of normalcy.

After several miles of running, we come to this stream. I am looking for a way across. I didn't remember Stan saying anything about stream crossings. Maybe he left this detail out on purpose, but then, I should have guessed. If there are waterfalls, then there must be streams nearby. Luckily for me, I wore my Brooks Launch and Injinji Socks. With no other way to cross without getting wet, we waded into the water. Oh, it is cold and nearly up to my knees. I come out the other side and the water was draining from my shoes. Then, after maybe 10 minutes, I don't even notice it at all.

There would be a few other stream crossings. After the first, I was less hesitant to enter them. And, to be honest, the cold water started to feel pretty good.

We checked out the water falls, Jinnie and Stan took some pictures. We ran on trails, on fire roads, on gravel roads. We ran over different kinds of bridges including a covered bridge. We run up steep hills and down just as steep hills. We ran over one rocky section that pretty much slowed us to walking. Unless what we wanted was to break our necks.

I was sipping my water every 10 minutes and taking cliff shots every 30 minutes. I was a little worried that I would bonk on this section but I never did. In fact, I felt great. I was like a kid in a candy store. I was anxious to see what was around the next bend and over the next hill.

Megan, Mo, and I ran the entire way together. And it was Mo's navigation skills that helped us survive. More than once, she kept us on the right trail and away from getting lost. Kudos need to be given to her for doing this job.

The final miles were downhill and flat back into the parking lot. My Garmin read 22 miles which meant we probably ran a little longer but I felt great. In fact, I felt like I could have run a few more miles.

We talked to Adam for a few minutes and then he led us down to Hooker Falls. Jinnie and Stan were already taking advantage of the cool mountain water. Jinnie was swimming across the stream. I waded into the stream up to

my waist. The water was cold. I mean really cold. I looked over at Stan and his shoulders were shaking. But the cold water bath was worth it. My legs were tired but really felt awesome the next few days.

They do this run once each year so if you get a chance, go and do it. The trails are great and the water falls are awesome to see.

I hope to be back next year.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner



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