Saturday, February 29, 2020

Round Trip - Crowders Mt to Brown Mt

After my visitor center to visit center run a couple of weeks ago, I wanted something more. Today, I went from the Crowders Mt Visitor Center to the Kings Mt Visitor and then on down to the top of Brown Mt. This totals out at 30 miles round trip.

The start was a little cold but I warmed up quickly while climbing to the top of Pinnacle. Running down the Ridge line trail was chilly. The wind blew out of the south but once I dropped off the top of the ridge line, my hands warmed up. The rest of the run was super nice. I encountered numerous hikers and runners along the trail. A few day hikers were hanging out on the top of Brown Mt.

Shout out the State Park workers. The trail has been cleared of trees so I didn't have obstacles to overcome during this run.

To give you some idea of the elevation changes, I pulled a copy of my Garmin results to include here.

Looking this chart, this course does not look all that hard, but let me tell you. I was breathing pretty hard in several sections and had some quad burning as well.

Apparently, whether I am going up hill or downhill, my pace doesn't have a tremendous amount of change in it. Of course, this is from a training run where I was more interested in enjoying a beautiful day on the trails. Some sight seeing is allowed.

Laps  Time Cumulative Time Elev Gain Elev Loss Avg Run Cadence Calories Moving Time
1 10:24 10:24 204 85 172 108 10:24
2 11:39 22:03 531 -- 170 145 11:39
3 12:59 35:02:00 115 450 164 160 12:59
4 11:25 46:27:00 191 298 168 139 11:25
5 11:02 57:29:00 104 153 170 141 11:02
6 10:05 1:07:34 269 123 170 129 10:05
7 11:38 1:19:12 189 256 166 141 11:38
8 11:24 1:30:36 51 315 166 140 11:24
9 11:09 1:41:44 176 135 168 143 11:09
10 10:07 1:51:52 75 125 170 126 10:07
11 10:23 2:02:15 70 166 170 125 10:23
12 11:30 2:13:45 103 79 168 138 11:30
13 13:15 2:27:00 161 100 166 142 11:48
14 11:35 2:38:35 207 149 168 65 11:35
15 11:27 2:50:02 157 129 168 73 11:26
16 11:56 3:01:58 158 259 166 132 11:52
17 11:12 3:13:11 224 133 168 86 11:12
18 10:57 3:24:08 105 239 168 77 10:57
19 11:36 3:35:44 76 125 168 135 11:36
20 11:23 3:47:07 127 38 170 135 11:23
21 11:23 3:58:30 84 23 170 104 11:23
22 11:43 4:10:13 133 133 166 63 11:43
23 13:01 4:23:14 268 40 166 66 13:01
24 12:33 4:35:47 348 234 166 85 12:33
25 10:04 4:45:51 92 309 170 114 10:04
26 11:58 4:57:50 224 81 168 54 11:58
27 10:13 5:08:03 316 331 168 30 10:13
28 12:40 5:20:43 485 66 158 61 12:38
29 10:18 5:31:01 -- 496 170 90 10:18
30 10:08 5:41:09 70 254 170 123 10:08
31 00:10.7 5:41:19 -- -- 174 2 0:09
Summary 5:41:19 5:41:19 5,312 5,323 168 3,272 5:39:41

Kickin' up trail dust

The Cool Down Runner

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Health Screening

My daughter was asking me about dinner one night last week. She was talking about having spaghetti which in and of its self is not bad. However, she loves it with some hamburger. My mouth was watering just thinking about dinner. Turning it down was so very hard. I could already taste it on my tongue. But I just couldn't do it.

I went on to explain to her that I had to be on my best behavior. My yearly health screening was coming up in a few days. After spending so much time dinning on veggies, I certainly didn't want to hijack my test results at the last minute. 

Fast forward to this week, my results arrived yesterday. All of the numbers were in the good range. I was happy to see that my Cholesterol continues to be in the excellent range. Under 200 mg/dL is considered good. My Cholesterol level was 148. Looking back at the last 2 years, I was down from 167 in '18 and 157 in '19.

All in all, I am very happy with the entire results. Apparently, running does have benefits.

Kickin' up the trail dust,

The Cool Down Runner

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Visitor Center 2 Visitor Center Marathon

Today, I headed down to the Crowders Mt State Park for another of my visitor center to visitor center runs. Typically, I do these in the summer time but I decided to do something a little different this year. 

I left the Crowders Mt State Park parking lot a few minutes after 9 AM. With the temperature here in Charlotte dipping in to the upper 20s, a late start sounded pretty good to me. According to my car, I barely escaped the 20s with a temperature of 30 degrees.

Even with it being cold, sweat was dripping from my brow as I neared the top of The Pinnacle. The air was crisp with the wind blowing out of the north. Yet, the view was still spectacular from the top.

I was surprised to see a number of people enjoying the trails. A few runners were out earlier than me making their decent during my climb.

The Ridgeline trail has not fared will the recent storms. The sections between 2 and 3 miles had numerous trees across the trail. It was weird to see. It was as if someone had taken the back of their hand and swatted the trees down. From the looks of it, the State Park guys have cleaned up about ¾ of mile of the trees, but there is still about ¼ mile left. Their equipment is still out there so I would assume in another week or two, they have the trail completely open again for running.

As I was about to turn on to the service road section on the South Carolina section of the trail, a hiker stopped me to ask directions. He was asking me how to get back to the Boulder Access parking lot. I pointed back up the trail that I had just finished running. I told him that he had about a mile or so back to it.

Three or so miles later, I rolled in to the Kings Mt State Park visitor center. I grabbed a drink of water and ate my peanut butter crackers. My legs had that fatigue feeling. I was worried that the trip back might be a little tougher.

Normally, I head straight back but today, I decided to do the battlefield trail today. I figured this would give me enough miles to push me over the marathon distance for the day.

Having never done this trail, I found it interesting to do. They have a ton of history out there about the battle that took place here.

The battlefield trail is loop so once I finished it, I headed right back along trail which would take me back to Crowders Mt State Park.

I was churning along the service road when the glimmer of something in the distance reflecting the sun caught my eye. Nearing it, the shape and color made it all the more recognizable. Someone had lost a Valentine’s Day Balloon. It was a big one.

My legs were still dragging so I pulled out some Sports Beans. About 30 minutes later, I started feeling better, and my legs too were feeling better. The climbs didn’t seem so hard. I ran nearly to the top of The Pinnacle. The railroad ties were not creating the same burn that they normally do.

Once I was over the top, the run back to the parking is easily my favor part. Even with old, tired legs, I can still run pretty well on the downhill.

In all honesty, I should have run more of my runs here in January and February. This sure beats running here when the temperature is pushing the upper 80s or low 90s of most any summer day.

Kickin’ up some trail dust

The Cool Down Runner

Friday, February 14, 2020

Garmin 310 XT vs. Garmin 35 GPS Test

A couple of weeks ago, I was getting ready to head out for 10 miles. I had my Garmin 35 strapped to my wrist since lately, I have favored it over the Garmin 310. The primary reason being that when I finish my run and walk back in my house, my Garmin 35’s Bluetooth syncs up to my phone. My run data is automatically uploaded to my phone and to my Garmin account. This is way easier than physically connecting my Garmin 310 to my PC and letting the upload happen.

Anyway, I am getting way from my purpose here.

I glanced down at my desk to see my 310 setting there lonely and unused. Why not wear it. Hey, why not wear both them to see how they compare GPSwise.

That’s all it took. I strapped on both Garmins and headed outside. Once both had successfully locked on to the satellites, I pressed both start buttons, and I was off and running.

For the first couple of miles, both Garmins were in lock step. Then, slowly the auto laps alerts began to diverge.

By the time that I finished running 10 miles, my 310 Garmin was nearly a quarter mile ahead of the Garmin 35.

I found it interesting but I didn’t give it much more thought at the time. I have long ago realized that Garmin GPS sensitivity tends to vary from day to day. I can run the same 10 mile course 5 days in row, and 3 out of the 5 days, the Garmin would record 10 miles at a slightly different spot. Yet, this is usually within a 100 meters or so.

Then, over the next two weeks, I repeated the same experiment and over the same course. Again, the 310 reached 10 miles before the 35 with a lead of nearly a quarter mile.

One would think that the sensitivity of the Garmin watches would be similar if not the same across all modals but this does not seem to be case. Of course, the shorter the run the less the divergence. However, for an ultra-runner who measures miles to determine the length of a run I could end up pounding the dirt for several more or less minutes depending on which Garmin is believed to be most accurate.

Wanted to share this info; in case others saw similar results with their Garmins. Just know that is not specific to anyone one runner. 

Kickin’ up the trail dust

The Cool Down Runner   

Saturday, February 8, 2020

WWC Frigid 10k Recap

The WWC’s Frigid 10k lived up to its billing this morning. Runners stepping to the starting line were greeted by temperatures in the upper 20s. Not something that I normally expect during the month of February.

This might have made the race tradition of taking a dip in the Catawba River afterward have a bit more of sting, but runners were given a reprieve this year. With the buckets upon buckets of rain falling earlier this week, the river is running a bit higher at the moment. Erring on the side of caution, the WWC canceled this portion of the race. I cannot say as I blame them. Having runners jump in to a roaring river and get sweep downstream in the current would definitely have not been good “Press” for them.

The 5k runners headed out for their race starting around 9:20. My race, the 10k, headed off at 9:30 on the nose.

They altered the course so the start and finish ended at the Pavilion. This meant that we would be running portions of Tortuga, Figure 8, North Main, and the Thread trails.

Every start from the Pavilion that I have done is always fast coming out of the Pavilion. Today is no different. The runners stretch out in front of me as we round the channel and enter the North Main trail.

Entering the North Main trail is always tricky after a rain. The hard, twisting downhill, combined the mud and every runner’s eagerness to use their fresh legs to press their advantage wherever possible, makes for a treacherous start to the race.   

I enter the trail in 7th place. I can see the runners attempting to stretch their advantage. I tried to settle myself and gauge the trail conditions. Knowing how much to push on a wet trail helps keep my upright and headed for the finish line.

I catch one guy, and I fall in behind this young runner. He cannot be more 13 or 14. He is silky smooth on the trails. He navigates the twists and turns with ease while lightly bouncing along on the trail. I close the distance on him but he is running well enough that I cannot make a move on him while we are in this rolling hill section.

As I follow him along behind him, his gait reminds me that I have seen it before. He was running the New Years Eve 5K race at the WWC. I was following him most of the 5k course.

The trail widens, and I move up beside him. The trail then breaks left and being on the inside of the turn, I am around him.

I am now on the lower section of the Tortuga trail. This is the section that I love to run. The course is mostly flat and fast. My breathing is labored but not to the point it affects my race. I am working through the runners in front of me.

One guy I recognize from the WWC Labor Day race last year. He dropped me pretty early in the race. Today, I sense that our races might be going differently.

I pass him and then quickly pass the guy in front of him. Heading toward the far end of the Tortuga trail, I can still hear their footsteps behind me. There is no need to look back at this point.  

Leaving Tortuga and picking up Thread, I press my pace in this pine needles section. Again, this is another of my favorite sections

Crossing the road and heading back on the upper end of the Thread trail, I can no longer hear their footsteps, and at the next switch back, I have a small gap on those two.

Turning on to Figure 8, I hit the steep hill. Suddenly, I am feeling the early pace in my legs. I can only hope those behind me feel a similar pain.

Before I know it, I am back on the North Main trail. My legs are really starting to feel the sting of the miles. I run down to near the river before climbing back to the top of the ridge. I can see that my advantage has grown ever so slightly. Running along the top of the ridge involves conquering many twists and turns. I pump my arms in hopes that my legs will follow.

I charge hard on the downhill section back to the river. I am pounding the trail so hard that I feel it in my eye balls. I attempt to carry my downhill pace for much of the rolling trail section along the river.  At the next switch back, again I got pretty good idea of my advantage. Problem is that I am not sure if I hold once we pop out and run along the channel back to the Pavilion.

Continuing to charge hard on the uphills and pound the downhills, my legs are entering the wasted zone. I follow the arrows back to the channel. No more roots, no more rocks to worry about at this point, my arms are pumping to drive me forward yet my legs do not feel like they are following. In fact, my legs feel like they are turning over in slow motion. The climb along the channel seems to drag on forever. I don’t dare look back, or I give away the fact of how bad that I am feeling.

Making the U-turn to head up the final stretch to the Pavilion, I steal a glance back down the channel. My advantage is greater than I ever expected. I take a deep breath. Knowing now, no one is going to catch me before the finish.

I finished 2nd overall in 50 minutes and 12 seconds placing 1st in my age. This was better than I expected, and my time was better than last year.

The rain from the last few days made the trail slick and muddy. I was happy to be wearing my Hoka Evos. They grabbed the mud well, and they contributed to keeping me upright the entire way.  At the start of the race, I admit that I was a bit timid, but as we moved through the course, my confidence in being able to read the trail grew. More so, when I planted my Evos in the mud, I had the confidence that they were going to stick and not slide out from under me. Yes, shoes can make a race better.

Big shout out to the WWC for making great decisions where it involves us runners. They adjusted given the conditions and gave the runners an opportunity to have a great race. 

Kickin’ up trail mud,

The Cool Down Runner

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Storms roll across the Charlotte

Heading out for my run this morning, clouds shrouded the sun from my wanting eyes. Sweat bubbled to the surface on my skin. A warm winter day pushed my body in to overdrive.

I tugged at the collar of my running shirt. Hoping, the cool air from the gentle breeze would circulate inside.

Little did I know that this was all about to change.

Drops of rain begin to fall. First, individual, huge drops hit my face. These few drops turned in to a torrent water coming from the sky. More drops than I can count.

Within minutes, the clouds completely opened up. Rain soaked my clothes. I could feel the chill of the water running down my back. This was nothing compared to the stings from the rain drops being driven by the gusting winds against my face.

Gushing water ran along the road’s edge. No place for it to go and no other place for me to run, my shoes and socks absorbed as much as they could. The rest splashed in a huge curved arch out from each step.

Howling winds continued to blow in my face and chilled the backs of my hands.

Pulling up to an intersection, people stared at me as I stood stoically against the pelting elements pounding against my body while the traffic light took its own sweet time changing from red, to yellow, to green for each lane. Likely, these drivers were glad that they were not enduring my fate. Similarly, the warm, dry world of their cars was something that I desperately wanted.  

Days like this create the stories that we tell our buddies during the next run. More so, days like this define the mental toughness that make us who we are as we shape the world around us. Never waste an opportunity to define who you are.

Kickin’ up the trail dust,

The Cool Down Runner

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Viking Dash ½ Marathon Trail Run

This morning, I was in Lowell, NC for the Viking Dash ½ Marathon Trail at George Poston Park. Not sure if I consider the ½ marathon distance as dash but maybe others do. Anyway, based on what I have read the Viking Dash Trail race series is a relatively new series. From what I understood talking to others today, this was the first Viking Dash race at Poston Park for them. With any new race location, there is learning curve. A race director can go over a course numerous times, and still, the moment he dumps several hundred runners on to it, issues that he never realized come right to the top.

This happened to us this morning. We were on the Laurel Hill Loop which is blazed with pink paint. We came up to an intersection on the backside of this trail, and someone had blazed pink paint on the other side of the intersection which leads on to the Foundation Loop. Those leading us didn’t catch it, and we went on to the Foundation Loop. Soon, questions were being raised if we were still on the right trail. No one was certain of what to do so when we came to a service road. As if making this first mistake wasn’t enough, we had to compound it by following the service road. Long story short, we meandered around until we stumbled back on to the Laurel trail. This time, I took over leading us back over the course that we had just run. This time, when we came to the same intersection, I slowed and looked around. The pink blazed trees led off to the right so this time, I turned right and everyone else followed. After this, I led us through the rest of the Laurel Loop and back on to the red blazed trail. Here the eventual winner took over and soon pulled away from all of us. After this bump in the road, I no further trouble over the 2nd or the 3rd loops. I knew where I was going.

Making this a bit interesting to ponder, several weeks ago when I first pulled up the course maps, I noticed that they were running much of the trail system backwards. Not that this is an issue, they just have to mark the course a lot more. I knew this because I ran the Wicked Root 10 miler last year on these same trails. I remember the blazing of the trees with paint. The paint is on the side of the tree that I am running towards which make a ton of sense. Right?  Running the course backwards, I would not be able to see the paint until I passed. On Friday, the race director sent out and email with our prerace instructions. He included a course map link so being a good runner, I clicked on it. To my surprise, the course was entirely different. Instead of 2 loops backwards, we would be running 3 loops forward, and running in the expected direction for seeing the trail blazings. This was probably smart move on their part. Otherwise, we still might be wondering around Lowell, NC.

To share some of the back story here, I didn’t have this race on my calendar. I happened to be browsing Facebook when I also it. Running made good sense for a couple of reasons. The race was an easy drive from my house, and the race presented a way to hop on a different trail for some miles. While I am a big fan of the WWC trails, mixing up them with other trails make my runs a lot more interesting.

Moving to wrap this up, I was happy finishing 2nd overall in 2:11:15 and bringing home this super nice Viking goblet. However, I was jealous of the 10k awards which were these huge knives. They were awesome looking. I would consider going back to run the 10k for knife.

For those that might be considering this race series, the race shirt was okay. Likely, it will go in to my closet never to be worn. I got a large, but when I looked at it later, it was a Viking large not runner large. The shirt is huge on me.

There is one thing that I would like to call out here which I liked a lot. After the race, they had baked potatoes. After running 14+ miles, I had two of them, and they tasted awesome. I guess that I was hungrier than I thought.

That’s it for this week. Back to training next week.

Kickin’ up tail mud this weekend,

The Cool Down Runner