After signing up for the Lehigh Marathon this spring, I fully expected to be doing my marathon in the midst of the summer time heat. So far, the weather has been nothing short of fantastic. The morning runs are unbelievable.
Last Tuesday, I stuck with my weekly tempo and followed it with a Visitor Center to Visitor Center run between Crowders Mt. State Park and Kings Mt. State Park on Saturday.
An eight mile tempo is my go to weekly workout for marathon training. The first mile is always at a solid warm up pace and then, I roll right into it. From this point, I can just shut off thinking about it and follow my normal 8 mile loop. Each my body seems to adjust a little more. The evidence is the few seconds per mile drop on my overall average. Definitely, this is the kind of signs that I like to see.
A couple of years ago, I was looking the trail map for Crowders’ Mt. State Park and noticed that I could follow the Ridgeline trail until it hit the Kings Mt. State Park. Pulling up the Kings Mt. trail map the Ridgeline trail connected into Kings Mt. trails.
The idea then hit me. Let’s do a visitor center to visitor center run. The Crowders Mt. map measures the miles with GPS but the Kings Mt. doesn’t give distance. Ballpark, I figured it had to be somewhere between 20 and 30 miles and yes; this is a large guestimate to be running.
So one Sunday morning, I ran it. If memory serves me correctly, I spent about 4 hours and 45 minutes running.
Fast forward 2 years, I headed out last Saturday morning. From 2 years ago, I remember thinking that it felt like I ran forever before I got into the Kings Mt. park. This year with overcast skies and fog hanging along the mt. tops, I felt like I was cruising along. Honestly, I probably pushed too hard on the way out. My halfway split was 2 hours and 8 minutes.
Refilling my water bottles I was ready for the return trip. Settling into an easy but solid pace I began the return trip. I don’t know this for sure but I have always felt that there is a net downhill going out which meant I have a more climbing on the return trip. In several sections, my quads were definitely burning. This culminated with the final climb up the rail road ties. This is an absolutely brutal section. The ties are placed a different heights and different distances. Think running up bleachers in a stadium but with each one spaced out a little differently. Power walking might be more appropriate than running.
With this last climb in the bag, I could rocket back down to the parking lot. This would absolutely obliterate my quads. The soreness hadn’t waited the customary two days settling in because it had already arrived by the time I reached the parking lot.
This is by far one of the toughest training run trails that I do around Charlotte, but this is also one of my favorite. I love out and back courses like this one because there is no opportunity to cut it short. Once I start it, I am fully committed.
For those that want to attempt this run, my Garmin registered about 25 miles, but I am guessing that is closer to 27 or 28 miles. There is a multitude of switch backs – especially when climbing up the side of a ridge. I suspect my Garmin just viewed this as one straight line from the bottom to the top.
Give this run a try.
Sharing one thought at time,
The Cool Down Runner