Back when I knew I was actually going to run the marathon that I had set out to run since I was turning 40 I decided why not go ahead and sign up for a 40K! A 40k for my 40th year... Sounds good right?
Then I ran the marathon and thought yep, I can do that!
Then I had my 50K and thought oh no what have I done!!
Summer running has been tough but I am convinced that summer running is a liar. Summer running has whispered it's hard, it's hot, you can't do it...
I think now that the temps are dropping I will get my groove back! I hope to prove summer wrong!
My friend Kim is planning to run the Triple Lakes 40K with me so we are running together to train leading up to the October race!
I have mixed up my weekly routine a bit. Monday's will be rest days, I may or may not walk, Tuesday's will be track days and maybe some speed, Wednesday's will be hills, Thursday intervals and Friday an easy run. Saturday's will be my longest day on trails and Sunday's a middle distance long run of 6ish miles on pavement.
Kim and I plan to mix up the Saturday runs, alternating weeks of vertical runs and flats.
This past weekend we decided to run Shortoff Mountain. Shortoff is located in the Linville Gorge Wilderness area in Western, NC. The Linville Gorge is also known as the “Grand Canyon of the East”.
We headed out at 6:00am. It's about a 30 minute drive to the trail head.
When we started it was dark but the sun came up pretty quick!
I packed my backpack for an entire week in the wild I think! I am sure I took more than I needed and then after reading this sign I started to second guess carrying my fuel. When we camp in these woods we keep our food AWAY from our bodies in case of bears!!! Luckily we did not see any bears, although there were a few questionable prints and rustling noises in the overgrowth around us.
Within the first mile we had already had an 807 ft gain in elevation and the sun rise was spectacular!
The terrain all along this trail is interesting. In some areas it's solid stone, other parts are the trail varies between loose rock, sand, packed dirt, etc.
Sections of the trail had man made stairs and other sections were stream like.
The run up was a challenge! Much of the way we power hiked but there were some great areas that were very runnable.
As we neared the top the views were incredible!
This route is truly remarkable! There are so many amazing views!
At the top the trail was very runnable and we were loving it!
There is even a pond up there and wild blueberry bushes! I have read that this natural pond is one of two like this in the entire Southern Appalachians region.
I had measured out in Trail Run Project an 8 mile run out and 8 miles back for a total of 16 miles.
The trail overgrowth though was getting thicker and thicker the further we went.
At about 5 miles in we ran into a solid thicket of what I though was Poison Sumac!!
As it turns out it was actually Poison Sumac's non poisonous cousin... Sumac...
Irregardless there is a chance that a poisonous snake lay within that thicket so I am glad we didn't push through. Next time I will take something to push or cut areas like these back!
Luckily for us the only critter we saw was this guy!
On the way back we got in several more great runnable miles.
I did get reminded of a valuable lesson of the trail... I will share it with you...
Trail Running Tip 317: Head Up , Eyes Down...
If a trail runner girl does not fall in the forest did she even really run the trail???
I took a BIG fall on the trail as we were heading back! Like face plant, flat out on the ground...
It was bad, I looked over to the right and took my eyes off the trail for like a second. I have no idea what I tripped over but I know for a fact that my head barely missed a sharp rock standing straight up on the trail. My right shoulder took most of the impact but I was covered from my cheek to my toes with mud...
If your trail running partner laughs uncontrollably at you while you’re down should you continue to run with her???
Kim : “Are you laughing or crying” (as she is laughing at me)
Me: “A little bit of both” (as I’m laying face first and flat out on the dirt single track trail)
In her defense I was laughing. It took me a minute to self asses and make sure I wasn't dead and nothing was broken. I really was laughing but I did shed a tear or two once I stood up. I was just a little shaken.
Moments later one of the first sets of hikers we had seen came by and we exchanged a "Good Morning", I'm sure they wondered what in the world had just happened but I sure am glad they didn't walk up as I was sprawled out on the ground with my skirt up over my hiney lol!!!
I then dusted myself off an ran on!
Moments later, however, I ran smack dab into a fallen tree... Hence the Head up part of the lesson... LOL! I'm ok I promise! The only thing hurt was my ego...
I then shook that off and ran on some more!
What an adventure! We had 1,793 ft of elevation gain and all the gorgeous views!
I'm already ready to do it again!
Sunday as planned I got in six miles with my friend Carly! I felt a little sore from Saturday's adventure but I'm hopeful that a back to back long run will help workout some of that soreness, keeping it at bay, and make me a stronger runner!
Here's to many more happy miles!
My must have gear for this long run:
Skirt Sports Gym Girl Ultra - This Skirt is the best for trail and long runs! The shorts are short but not too short and the skirt is light and airy! The best thing about this skirt are the pockets!!! I fill them up! - Want to try it out? Use Discount Code 37Aver at checkout for 15% off!
Crazy Compression OTC Compression Socks - These not only kept my calves from cramping up but also kept me from getting eaten up by briars!!! Want to give them a try? Ask me to send you a coupon for 45% off!!