Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Smoky Mountain Traverse S to N (SMT 2.0)

Well, Jonathan Adcock and I are embarking on our 2nd attempt of the Appalachian Trail section from border to border in the Great Smoky Mtns National Park.  The quest started last year as the last big training run before Gina and I went out to Colorado to tackle the San Juan Solstice 50 miler.  Last year we ran the AT North - South in two 31 mile days.  We didn't have the legs to continue on the 8 miles between Newfound Gap to Clingman's dome, so we bypassed this section and started at Clingman's on day two last year.

This year, the plan had us finishing this thing off, putting in an uphill day from Fontana Dam to Newfound Gap for around 41 miles followed by a 31 mile day from Newfound Gap to Davenport Gap.  The girls were going to do the opposite direction as us on day 1 and then do their own thing on day 2 to get in 50 miles.

I choose a Camelbak Octane 18.  I carried 10 bars, 1 bagel with Nutella and PB, 1 serving of Heed, 100oz of water, 2 20oz. camelbak podium chill hand held bottles with HEED (carried one and packed the other for later), 1 gel (for the carb emergency), some Endurolytes and Protrypsin pills, phone, camera and a sawyer mini water filter.

Jonathan and I started at around 7:20 on a 50 degree morning.  The forecast was for a sunny 65 degree day.  After 10 miles on the trail we realized the forecast wouldn't be so kind.  We were first greeted with light falling sleet, followed by light rain and fog, followed by snow, where we met up with the girls at the mile 21 and the Derrick Knob Shelter.  They were in much better spirits.  We put on our light rain jackets hung out and shared trail stories and then headed out for 20 more miles.

The point I was looking forward to was Clingman's Dome.  This signified the highest point we'd be reaching, and, along with it, a mostly downhill 8 miles of trail to the end of day one.  We were treated with brief periods of spotty blue sky that quickly got eaten up with clouds and fog.  At one point we hit a .3 miles to the Clingman's Tower sign and I could see the tower in the distance.  I should have taken a pic here because as we approached the tower we were engulfed in fog, rain and wind.

The last 8 miles were OK.  We were blessed to have the down hill but much of it was over steps 2+ feet off the ground, so we were having to run, hop and jump down much of the trail, which for me was tough on tired legs.  I kept thinking about catching a toe on a rock and biting it.  Jonathan on the other hand went down hill like a champ and I was on the chase most of this section.

These last 8 miles were through very impressive old cedar trees, many of which had fallen and had been cut out of the trail.  There were a number of sections where they had been cut into discs and these discs were used as stepping stones.  It was in one of these sections that we started to get hailed on.  The hail was about half the size of marbles and looked as though it was packed snow.  It didn't hurt and in many places it covered the trail.  I have never seen hail like it before.

At the end of the day the trail wound around a corner and we were brought back into the real world of Newfound Gap.  This is one of the busiest sight seeing stops in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  There is a sign here that marks the state line between NC and TN.  We got in a few pics and got the heck out of there.

Overall the day went well.  I think I ended up with minor chafing and both Jonathan and I felt pretty good with no major body aches or complaints.

The day ended at around 6:30pm.  You can see all the Garmin Stats here - http://connect.garmin.com/activity/502392424
Photos - I wish I had taken more but the weather condition weren't good for a camera - https://www.facebook.com/josh.gilbert.31/media_set?set=a.10201977133092798&type=1

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Training Week 5/5/14

5/6/14 - Ran the 6 mile loop and did a 1.5 mile cool down.  HR was high today, legs were heavy and my breathing is still off.
5/7/14 - Ran at the 7.75 at the cove.  Up the 1000ft climb, down Hi Dee Ho and then did the warm-up loop.  Legs still heavy.
5/9/14 - Ran 9.25 in the hood and on the greenway.  Definitely was affected by the pollen today.  It was windy and I felt like I could have coughed up a tumbleweed.  HR below 142.
5/10/14 - Ran 11.25 with Matt on MM and CRL.  Legs felt a little better and breathing improved.
5/11/14 - Ran 8.5 miles of random running around Raleigh and Grandin Court. 
Total for the week;  44.25 miles running.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Training Week 4/28/14

My legs feel pretty good following Promise Land.  They were most sore on Monday and then felt pretty good after that.
4/29/14 - Ran 4 easy miles around the hood.
4/30/14 - Ran the 6 mile graveyard loop
5/2/14 - Biked and marked the Trail Nut long loop of 9.4 miles
5/3/14 - 7.1 miles of running around Raleigh Court and Fishburn Park.
5/4/14 - Ran 12.5 miles on the Lewis Gale loop.  Legs felt really heavy and by breathing was off today.
Total for the Week;  Ran 29.6 and mtn biked 9.4

Race Week 4/21/14

This is the week of my 6th Promise Land 50k.  Previous best was in 2010 in a time of 5:41:26.  I think I am in better shape that when I last ran this but my training so far this year has been broken up 3 times due to some back issues.  Also, 90% of my training has been with a HR at or below 142 (train slower to run faster).
4/22/14 - Ran the 6 mile loop with at HR below 142.
4/23/14 - Ran 4.2 miles around Raleigh Court at HR below 142.
4/26/14 - 2014 Promise Land 50k.  The best case scenario would be to break 5:30, settle for finish would be to PR, worst case scenario, break 6 hours.  I also had a goal of having less than 5 minutes not moving on the course.  Garmin gives you a moving time and total time.  This is where you can see how much time you lost at Aid Stations and bathroom breaks.
Here is a rundown of my 2010 splits and what I ended up running this year.
Next 2010 2014  diff.
AS 1 2.74  7.21  30.15.00  28.30  1.45
AS 2 9.95 3.88  1.37.02  1.33.00  4.02
AS 3 13.83 3.98  2.14.26  2.12.42  1.44
AS 4 17.81 3.1  2.49.09  2.48.00  1.09
AS 5 20.91 5.18  3.17.23  3.15.10  2.13
AS 6 26.09 3.33  4.07.38  4.05.40  2.18
AS 7 29.42 2.1  5.01.00  4.56.50  4.1
AS 8 31.52 2.75  5.22.40  5.19.32  3.08
Finish  34.27  5.41.26  5.37.53  3.33
The Yellow highlighted cells are where I lost ground on the 2010 race. 

Start to AS1 - This is a gravel road that climbs and then gets steeper and steeper.  I ran to about the 2.2 mile mark and then hiked to the water stop topped off my handheld and moved on quickly.
AS1 - 2 - This around 2 miles climbing on trail that then dumps you on a grassy fire road that rolls, mainly downhill to AS3.  I took it easy on this section but it would be a good place to make up some time in the future.  I filled my bottle up with GU Brew and grabbed 4 PB and J squares.

AS2 - AS3 - I felt off on this sections and hiked a good portion of this climb.  I did stop and tighten one of my shoes along this route.  This is a mostly uphill climb to the BRP that finishes with a nice gravely road decent to AS4.  I grabbed 3 more PB and J squares and topped of my bottle with GU.

AS3 - AS4 - this is almost all downhill on mostly rocky technical trail.  There is a short section on grassy fire road but otherwise it is down down down.  I hit this downhill pretty well but stayed conservative.  I did have to stop of a Nature Calls moment but other than that this section went well.  Grabbed a couple potato wedges and salt and was off. 

AS 4 and 6 are the same.  My original goal was to conserve to this point and let the race start here.  And have legs for the climb up Apple Orchard.

AS4 - AS5 -  This is a 2 mile mild downhill gravel road decent to the White Tail Trail across from the North Creek Campground (I took 2 ecaps on this section).  I was feeling pretty good and the weather was perfect.  I ran almost all of this section minus the beginning of the White Tail Trail and the steep grassy road into AS5.  Here I grabbed a few more PB and J squares and topped off my bottle.

AS5 - AS6 - I ran this entire section and gained ground on a number of people that has passed me earlier.  Things were right on track.  Topped of my bottle and grabbed a few more potato wedges and salt.

AS6 - AS7 - This is an all uphill section that gradually ascends until you get to some rock steps and then wooden stairs at the Falls (I took 2 ecaps at the beginning of this section).  It's a ball buster and the point in which you will either gain ground and time or lose it quickly.  I was able to run everything until it got pretty steep and then was able to power hike to the BRP.  Any point that the trail sort of leveled out I would go back to running.  Filled my bottle and grabbed a few potatoes and was off.

AS7 - Finish - As soon as I left the AS and ran across the BRP I began to get quad and sartorious cramps.  From feeling great to walking in a split second.  I was able to shake them off shortly and got back to a slow jog until they subsided.  I did feel like I had to "nurse" my legs until hitting the last road and 2.8 miles to the finish.

This section is almost all downhill, minus a short .25 mile steep section.  One back to Overstreet Falls Road I felt pretty good and was able to hit this section in a under 7min/mile pace.  I finished 21st in 5:37:51

Here are all the details.  I did wear my HR and was pretty happy with those numbers - http://connect.garmin.com/activity/487682355

I think that the "Dark Side" of the course is still the place to make up time.  From AS 4 to the finish there is a lot of climbing and places you feel like you should hike but runnable.  This was a really good race day in which I felt good almost the entire time.  My prerace strategy went as planned and there really isn't anything else I could have done differently.  We'll see how many year's it take before I come back. 

I did get in 2 extra miles going back out to meet Gina on here way in to the finish.  That last downhill mile didn't feel good at all.

Ended the week with 44.83 miles running.