Wednesday, December 28, 2011

ACL at Four Months

Quick update:

I got booted out of rehab last week. I felt a little sad. I had been there for two to two and a half hours every Monday, Wednesday and Friday since the first week in September. What will I do with all that time? Okay, maybe I don't feel so sad after all.

My quad is at 88% and my hamstring at near 100%. I have good balance, good mobility, good flexibility (gosh, I thought I would never say I was flexible). I can ease back into running now, at four months (much sooner than the six to nine months I was originally told). Three to four weeks of building up on safe stuff (track, greenway, dirt roads), then slowly back onto trails.

I went outside and ran my first mile on Christmas Eve. The knee felt fine, but after not running for five months, it was a little tough on the rest of me. I did a 16 mile hike a couple of weeks ago (10 of it on dirt road) and the only thing that bothered me was the brace. I was wiped out afterwards, though! I did a 10 mile hike all on trail a couple of days ago and halfway through just wanted to curl up beside the trail and take a nap. I will try a 18 mile hike tomorrow and will run a little bit on the road section.

All in all, while the whole experience has not been a lot of fun, it has not been as bad as I imagined. All that time rehabbing, including three a days at home, plus working and coaching, kept me so busy and tired, that I haven't had the time to miss running or dwell too much on it.
I'm still amazed, though, that they took out part of my hamstring and repurposed it as a ligament to put my ACL back together. And it worked. Wow.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

2011 Year in Review: Time Out

Sometimes it takes a little down time to make one sit back and reflect. Or maybe just a 5 hour hike with a dog who is not a very good conversationalist....

As I started to think about about my "2011 Year in Review," I realized that I had not accomplished anything I set out to do at the end of 2010. Obviously, the freak frisbee accident took me out of the game in July, but even if it hadn't, I think I still wouldn't have accomplished anything. Why? I had done too much. I never had time to recover between races, I was always running tired and I never got any effective training in as a result. But it wasn't until I looked back at my blog that it really sunk in. Check out my races and runs in 2010 and 2011:

January: Tsali 50k
March: -100k at Nantahala Fria
April- Sweetwater 50k and 90 miles at Woods Ferry
May- Ennoree 40 miles
June- 70 miles at Black Mountain Monster
July- NMAR 100
August- 35 miles Laurel Valley
September- 55 miles Long Cane
October- 77 miles Foothills
November- Bartram 115 miles
December and January- IT band injury
February- Rattle my Heart 50K
March- 50 mile fun run
April- 40 miles on Bartam (the hard end)
May- Massanutten 100
June (2 weeks after MMT)- 87 miles Black Mountain Monster
and Chatooga 50k
July: divine intervention and forced rest...after a little surgery.

My goals, therefore, for 2012 look a little different:

1. get the knee back to 100%
2. Hike 12 hours of the 24 Hours of HOSTELity in January.
3. Maybe the Landsford Canal 24 hour in April.
4. 100 at Black Mountain Monster in June.
5. Finish the 900 miles of trails in the Smokies by the end of the year (running and hiking- only about 400 left to do).
6. Bartram Trail redo in early fall.

And that's it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Difficult Things

Trail running is hard.

This was my big revelation as I hiked up to Wesser Bald last weekend. It used to be one of my regular training runs and was one of the last runs I did before I tore my ACL. It is all uphill to the tower, making it a fairly difficult run, but not incredibly hard. Walking what I used to run, however, was an eye opener. Now granted, I haven't run since July and my cardio training has taken a backseat to rehabbing my knee, but now I understand the comment that trail runners frequently hear from hikers, "I can't believe you are RUNNING that!". As a hiker last weekend, I gingerly made my way through the wobbling rocks and slippery roots, sure I was going to take a spill if I didn't take it nice and slow. Then I looked up at a short section of even steeper trail in front of me, with even more roots and rocks to contend with. I used to run on that stuff, I thought... I guess once I had made the transition from hiker to trail runner years ago, I lost the appreciation of how difficult this sport can be. So while I don't buy into the argument that runners need to stop and smell the roses, maybe you should take a little walk once in awhile to better appreciate the ability you have been blessed with.

After I reflected on this, a discussion on the Foothills list about the relative difficulty of different ulra races made me think about my personal list of difficult runs. (I spend a lot of time THINKING about running since I can't actually do it). Not how I rank races compared to other races, but what runs were the most difficult for me. Here's my top five:

1. 2010 110 mile Bartram Trail run. Running sick and worn down on incredibly difficult terrain with an injured IT band in last 18 miles.
2. 2004 Massanutten. My first 100, 28 blisters and a chipped cheekbone.
3. 2008 Old Dominion 100. 100 plus degrees, near 100 % humidity, bad air quality and 42% finishing rate.
4. Hellgate 100K, the bitter cold, snowy and icy year. Wait, that covers every Hellgate I ran. Okay, the only race I ever missed a cutoff at. Snow with a thick layer of ice on top, which sometimes broke through and sometimes didn't. The runners in front had chunked up parts of the trail making it incredibly difficult to run on.
5. 2011 Massanutten. Nausea for most of the race, an epic low in the middle of the night in a cold hard rain.

That was fun. Feel free to play along and make your own list. I'd love to read your posts on your top fives. And I can't wait to have challenges like that again.

Rehab at 12 weeks. Started jumping side to side and front to back (6 sets of 1 minute) and running in place on a trampoline a couple of weeks ago. Also started this cool little machine which mimics the side to side motion of skiing. I have some pain under the knee cap, but apparently it is nothing to worry about. When that settles down I will start lunges and some treadmill jogging.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Eight Weeks Later: Out in the Woods Again

One thing I will miss this winter is running in the snow. I love being blessed with the ability to run far enough to get to places where the only other footprints belong to the bears, bobcats, deer and turkeys. There is something special and magical about being in a place like that. One sunny October afternoon, I ran up Fisher Creek, a regular training run for me. There was no snow down low, but there was more and more fresh snow on the ground as I climbed. That's nothing unusual, but this was October, which meant that the leaves were still brilliant. A brisk wind had followed the snow and the pure white ground was littered with vivid red, yellow and orange leaves. It was one of the most beautiful things I have seen and I was lucky enough to be the only person out there. People sometimes criticize trail runners for not slowing down to see the beauty of things, but I have seen many more beautiful things running long than I ever did hiking.

Having said that, this October I have been blessed with the ability to hike. When Tony took me for my first short walk on trail, I was so happy to be back out in the woods, I actually cried a little. I started walking on the forest road near my house, enjoying the woods and becoming more comfortable with with my knee. Last weekend, Tony took me for a two-hour hike on the Bartram at Sawmill Gap. The trail is not easy, but I carefully picked my way along, being so glad that seven weeks after surgery I was out there. This weekend we went to the Bartram at Buckeye Branch for another hike a little over two hours, with both my physical therapist's and surgeon's blessings. I just have to be careful of steep transitions and doing things like jumping from rock to rock.

If I had known before I had my surgery how well things would progress, I would have not been quite so devastated. Now I am able to hike, bike on the road, swim and run in the deep end of the pool. This month, my quad strength increased 88% and is 75% as strong as the uninjured leg. I have full extension and can bend it 140 degrees. I am now doing balance activities (including squats on a unstable platform), leg presses, wall squats and calf raises. I am just not allowed to run, but I was a hiker before I was a runner and right now that is just fine with me.

Everyone said that I would come out of this experience a better runner and now I actually believe it. I am doing all the things that I never had time for when I was running: weights, stretching and cross-training. I have started to think of this as the "off-season" rather than being on injured reserve. My physical therapist said, yes, I could do a 100 in June. And that's really not all that far away.

The pic is from the Blue Ridge Parkway last week.

Friday, September 30, 2011

ACL Rehab: Five Weeks Later

After the two week mark, things got progressively better. I went back to work three weeks after surgery and was glad I didn't try to go back any earlier. It's really difficult and frustrating to teach and coach on crutches. I was wiped out after the first couple of days, but it got better after that. The hardest part at this point is trying to balance my time. I go to physical therapy 3 times a week for 1 1/2 to 2 hours a shot. I have to do this during my planning period ( at the end of the day). Then go back and coach. Then go home and work in two more 30 minute workouts. And do all the work I didn't get done because I have no planning period. I am very lucky to have great students and another coach who has been filling in for me without complaint. Plus Tony who has taken excellent care of me.

My physical therapy has progressed steadily, adding more weight and reps, plus adding in some machine work. The hamstring curls are especially painful, but are getting better. Right at the four week mark, my PT measured me and I could bend my leg to 131 degrees and could flatten it to 0 degrees. My quad strength was 54% of the good one and most of the swelling was gone. The next day, the surgeon let me lose the crutches and my life improved instantly. My leg was a little shaky the first couple of days, but now feels pretty normal. We added in leg presses and balance boards to my PT, along with time on a stair climber.

Three days after I got off crutches, Tony took me up to Standing Indian for a walk on the only flat trail I know of. The leaves were changing nicely and it wasn't quite as important to be out there running as it was just being out there. I sure have missed that. I eeked out a painstakingly slow mile, but it was one of the best miles I have ever done.

Now, five weeks after surgery, I feel pretty good. I have a quad muscle again that keeps getting bigger. Yesterday, Tony and I went for a three mile walk on a forest road near the house and the knee felt pretty good. It will be awhile before I can run again, but I am very thankful that I can at least get outside.

And my PT thinks Old Dominion 100 2012 should be no problem for me.

The picture is yet another one of my random pretty pictures.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Two Weeks Down

Lessons learned from the first two weeks after ACL surgery:

1. The pain was not a problem. The only time I had anything intense was when I first woke up from surgery but the nurse made that go away. Sleeping in the brace was an annoying type of pain, but I don't have to do that anymore. What I didn't expect was the depth of the fatigue. During the first week, just getting to the kitchen wiped me out more than any ultra. No exaggeration.

2. My quad disappeared. I expected it to shrink, but not this much and this rapidly. I have a lot of excess strap on the brace they made for me before surgery.

3. Wal-Mart is not the best place to test-drive crutches.

4. Having strong legs and doing the pre-hab exercises make rehab easier. Five days after surgery, I was able to do sixty leg lifts. Today my workout, 3 times a day is: 8 x 10 front leg lifts with ankle weight, 3x10 side and back leg lifts, 50 quad sets, 30 seated leg raises, plus stretches. Plus I am on a stationary bike.

5. I am feeling better every day. Unfortunately, I feel like doing some things, so I get frustrated frequently and sometimes I forget that I have an injured leg. Fortunately, I have Tony to both spoil me and keep me in check. Plus I only have two more weeks on crutches and I can now wear my little custom brace rather than the gigantic one.

6. My attitude and outlook is a lot better than it was before surgery. Before I had a lot of apprehension, stress and a lot to consider. Now that I've had the surgery, there are no decisions to make. I do what I am told to do and there's nothing I can do besides that to make my leg heal any faster. It's more relaxing to resign yourself to simply follow directions.

The photo is just one of my random pretty pictures.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Welcome to Rehab

As I laid in pre-op Friday morning, watching the nurses and doctors hook wires, tubes and equipment to me, I thought to myself, "Really? It wasn't even that a good of a fall." Now, I've done some things that should have landed me here and I would have completely understood. And it would have made for a lot better blog post. How about bad mountain bike wrecks (like the time I toppled over the edge of a bank, tangled in my mountain bike and hitting a branch that gouged my back but caught the back of my sports bra stopping the fall)? What about stage two hypothermia or close encounters with copperheads, rattlers, and scary people in the middle of the wilderness? Or one of my more exciting scar-inducing falls or many really stupid decisions (like, I think I can crawl across the ice without sliding off the edge, because I'm miles in the middle of nowhere and if the fall doesn't kill me, the cold will)? But frisbee at cross country practice, really? I didn't even get to get carried off on a stretcher with thousands of adoring fans cheering me on. Sigh.

Anyway, my little blog will now document my adventures as an ultrarunner in rehab. It's pretty exciting. Today I get to take a shower. I actually shed a tear or two this afternoon because I could turn the pedals of the stationary bike one rotation. Hmm...okay, so maybe I won't spend a lot of time on the details, but I will pass along helpful hints and revelations from time to time because it seems like everyone expected me to understand what was going on. It's kind of scary when you don't know what to expect. So here is what I've learned thus far.

1. First, I need to vent. I've done this myself, and I know everyone meant well, but please never, ever, say to anyone, "It could be worse." Don't you think I know that? Yes, I could have lost my leg, my life, or someone I love. But that doesn't mean that losing something I love (running) for 6-9 months is not hard on me. I don't whine or complain, so please just say, "I understand." Let me cry a little about this without trying to make me feel guilty for being relatively lucky. Okay, I'm over that now.

2. Crutches. If you have the opportunity to try them out before you are in pain, weak, and on drugs, do it. There is definitely a learning curve. Especially if there are stairs involved. More upper body strength and more single leg squats would have helped, too. Expect major frustration.

3. I had general anesthesia and a femoral artery block. I felt like crap the first day and a half. By the end of day 2 of post-op, boredom set in. I don't think I've been this stationary for this long in years. I'm not sure what I am supposed to do with myself. Most all of my hobbies involve my legs. I should try to be a little more well-rounded.

4. I have to approach this like a 24 hour race. I can't think about all the time and miles I have left or I'll make myself crazy. I also can't think about how good I felt beforehand or it will take the fun out of celebrating little milestones, like being able to bend my leg 90 degrees today.

5. The week before surgery was weird. I had two legs that worked more or less. I was still running, even on trail, albeit cautiously. I knew that Friday morning everything would change for several months. I have no advice about dealing with that. It was just kind of difficult.

6. Say goodbye to being independent and self sufficient. Say hello to more frustration. Exactly how do you carry a glass of water on crutches? Hope you have an understanding and patient spouse who only cusses at trying to set the monstrous brace to zero.

So thus begins another ultra-journey. I'm bound to take some good out of this experience, right? In the meantime, crutch races, anyone?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Did You Hear the Pop?

It was a pretty normal plan. To give the girls a break from running during Cross Country practice, on July 11th at 3:30 pm, I decided we would play Ultimate Frisbee. I went down on the second play of the game, catching the frisbee in the end zone. Except I hit a little hole and I went down on my knees. Ouch, that twanged something. I stretched it out some, limped along, and tried to keep playing, but my knee wasn't supporting me when I tried to lean out or jump. After I got everyone home, I went home and began the RICE protocol. The knee was swollen and although I tried to tell Tony I just "twanged" something, he was sure I had done more than "twanged" it. I RICE'ed all week, then went to a weeklong workshop in NJ/NY, where I did a lot of walking on it, but wore a knee brace. By the end of the week I was walking fairly normally, but could not run. I emailed the RD of Running with the Devil to withdraw from the race that Saturday.

When I got back, I reluctantly went to the doctor, who ordered X-rays and an MRI. "Surely I would know if something was really wrong, wouldn't I? Do I really need X-rays and an MRI?", I asked. She got a really good laugh out of that one. For some reason, she thinks I have a really high pain tolerance and, no, I wouldn't know if anything was really wrong. So off to X-rays, first. All clear there. Then off to MRI. The doctor called a couple days later. "I have bad news," she said. "You completely tore your ACL and partially tore your meniscus." After I hung up, I called her right back, because neither of us had thought it was the ACL. "Are you sure? Did you read it?" She was sure. A visit to the surgeon confirmed it. "Did you hear the pop?" he asked. No, I didn't hear a stinkin' pop. After thousands of miles of trail running, my knee goes out playing frisbee. And apparently, the ACL is the worst of the knee injuries. Six to nine months of no running after surgery.

I was actually running a little on it before I found out it was the ACL and before both the surgeon and physical therapist showed me how they were able to move my knee around in ways that it's not supposed to move. I've been fitted for a brace and the surgeon said I could run my upcoming races in it, if it didn't wear my skin off and I could choose when to have the surgery. But he said no trail running. And the longer I put off surgery, the longer it is before I can run again, and the longer I walk around a unhappy camper. I know, it could be a whole lot worse. And I'm sure it happened for some reason. But that doesn't make it any easier to lose doing something I love.

So, I've done the math and although I'll miss my favorite time of year to run in the woods, fall and winter, I should be able to hit the trail in spring again. And maybe by then, I'll actually have pretty feet with all ten toenails for the first time in eight years.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Chattooga 50K

When I think about the foothills of South Carolina, I think about Claude Sinclair's Laurel Valley run held every year in August. To be honest, I really don't like running Laurel Valley all that much, but I keep coming back year after year because it's a tradition. But it's also South Carolina in the summer, which means it's hot and dripping with humidity, with the added benefits of abundant poison ivy, copperheads, yellow jackets and biting flies. Plus, the section of Foothills Trail that it follows is tough, with plenty of technical trail and annoying little climbs and descents that wear you down. No, during the summer I stick to the mountains, running the ridgelines along the AT.

In the days before the Chattooga 50K, I pondered why, despite my knowledge of both South Carolina in the summer and the Foothills Trail, did I sign up for this run? My best answer is that the combination of dehydration and lack of oxygen inherent in ultrarunning has damaged key brain cells. I was very unenthusiastic about heading out to this run, but it is a Terri Hayes race and I do think a lot of Terri Hayes and her runs. Plus, it's a little over an hour from the house and I didn't have any plans for this weekend. Great day for a training run. Which is good, because I feel like I haven't had any time to do any training since I have run a race every three weeks now and I am constantly recovering.

Despite my lack of enthusiasm, I collected Alan and headed down the mountain. The race location was ideal, in a campground with nice restrooms and showers adjacent. The check in was efficient and well organized and you got a nice little goody bag, which was especially nice for the price of entry (Terri doesn't charge one, just accepts donations). Lots of familiar faces again, another family reunion, which kinda makes up for the fact I was about to run in South Carolina in the summer again.

The Pre-Race Briefing

I had read the course directions and looked at the maps that Terri had on her website and this course seemed a little tricky. I had also read race reports where people had gotten off course, so I paid close attention to her directions. I was still a little fuzzy, but did remember her saying, "turn around at the first wooden bridge," an important bit of info later on. Once the race began, the directions made good sense and I took time at the intersections to remember which way I had to turn on the way back.

Part I: Start to Aid Station 1 (7 miles)

The first three miles were fun. A nice gradual downhill on single track, very runnable with very little effort. Just lean forward and gravity does all the work. I was enjoying this section until I remembered that this section was an out and back, which meant that all this nice downhill would shortly turn into uphill. As I began to run back up, it turned out that the uphill wasn't as steep as I perceived it, but all those runners, heading both downhill and uphill had really stirred up the leaves and dust. My asthma cranked up and I couldn't settle my breathing down. It's funny what a lack of oxygen does to you (despite killing brain cells). Your legs feel heavy, you have no energy and worst of all, no clue how you are going to finish a tough 50K when you feel this bad three miles into it. Disregarding doctor's orders not to use my inhaler too much, I inhaled and felt better. Soon I was back to plugging along steadily uphill. Back at the top of the hill, you made a leftie and within a half mile, you were at the first aid station.

A word on aid stations

As I mentioned, Terri does not charge an entry fee, but you could not tell it from the aid stations. The table is covered with food, everything from gels and e-caps to homemade banana bread. The volunteers are extremely helpful, filling up bottles or bladders with ICE cold water or Heed. I savored that cold water as at the day grew hotter. Unfortunately, there was a long 10 mile stretch ahead before the next aid.

The Foothills Trail Section from Hell

After the aid station, you followed a 3 mile nicely rolling trail to the Foothills Trail. I really wasn't sure what part of the FHT the course was on and was not at all pleased to find that it was the Bermuda Triangle section. This was the section during the FHT Traverse where the miles you had put in seemed to disappear because you never, ever got to the end. This is the section during the Traverse where every time the trail turned away from the river, I knew I was approaching the road, from where I would only have 6 miles left. Cruelly, the trail twisted and turned and kept going back to the darn river. This is the section where I was getting ready to sit down in the middle of the trail and cry, when Tony suddenly appeared just at the right moment, having hiked in to where I was. This part of the trail brought back some bad memories.

I was lucky to have done the Traverse because, unlike the other runners around me who kept thinking we were coming up on the aid station, I knew that it was nowhere close and not to ever count on reaching it. When and if you did reach it, it would be a nice surprise. So I just kept moving forward, not expecting to get to the aid station, but being very glad I did just as my water ran out.

Turn around at the first bridge

The next section was a two mile out and back and the landmark to look for to turnaround at was the first wooden bridge. Or so I thought. I had run 17 miles in the heat and humidity. Is that really what she said? After I got to the bridge and headed back up the hill, a fast runner came up behind me. He thought the turnaround was the second bridge. Great, I thought, I was wrong. So I headed back down to the bridge, only to verify with other runners that the first bridge was indeed the turnaround. Excellent, a little extra credit mileage.


Now comes the "back" part of the out and back. All the nice downhills were now long uphills. Just like before, I didn't think about where the next aid station was, I just kept moving forward. I felt pretty good, although I felt slow and like I had not yet recovered from my other runs. No stomach issues, though. Terri had told me to try Prilosec or Nexium before I ran and I did. I stuck to gels and banana bread and a flask of pickle juice in the heat of the day and it all seemed to do the trick. Four SportConnexin per hour in the hottest part of the day, a couple of ibuprofen in the middle of the run when I started to get achy, and it was all good.

The End

When I had looked at times from the previous races, I thought that if I could get under 8 hours, I would be very happy, and I finished in 7:44. Best of all, my stomach felt great and I quickly downed an excellent BBQ sandwich and two glasses of sweet tea.

In retrospect, South Carolina wasn't all that horrible. I heard more than one person comment though that this race was much harder than they expected, and I guess it was harder than most 50Ks. It was very technical, with more roots than rocks, and I think people underestimated how long the unsupported ten mile stretch would take. On the bright side, it was not as hot as Black Mountain and had more shade. I didn't get stung by yellow jackets or see any copperheads, but I did run through A LOT of poison ivy.

When I asked Alan if he would run it again, he said he would. I, however, will wait to see how bad I am itching in a couple days before I even think about it.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Congratulations Daniel!

Five years ago, Daniel Hamilton and I were hanging from the edge of a cliff. We were in the middle of the Special Operations Adventure Race and were pretty psyched because we were close to the front of the pack. Unfortunately, the rappel was up next and I'm not particularly fond of heights. I will rappel if I have to and as long as I don't look down or think about where I am, I'm okay. At the top of the cliff, the rope guy told me that there were a few bushes sticking out of the cliff wall, so I would have to navigate around them, which obviously involved both looking down and thinking about where I was. Fortunately, there were two ropes set up and Daniel was able to rappel beside me and help me navigate, while distracting me. Everyone looked at us funny as he addressed me as "Mrs. Davis," but I had both taught and coached him and habits are hard to break. The teacher/student team ended up doing well, at one point hanging out with the professional teams in the lead, searching the woods for a checkpoint that the directors forgot to put out.

Tony and I had "adopted" Daniel during his high school years. Okay, he already had a very nice family who took good care of him, but Daniel was not only a very talented runner, he also liked all the activities we liked as well. So we started training for adventure races with him, subjecting him to some serious torture, like making him struggle to paddle his white-water kayak in a straight line in the middle of a windy lake, carry his bike on his shoulders up mountain trails and having him sprint through thick knee-deep mud to punch our card. We did a couple of races together and then he was off to college.

We've heard from him from time to time and it was a nice surprise when he came and ran the last section of NMAR with me last year. Monday, he called Tony to tell him about a race he just did. Tony had lots of details for me (that's sarcasm). Daniel did some stage race somewhere, 20-some miles a day. Did really well, finished third. The third day was the hardest. He's running on some team. He hasn't been able to eat much since. He's going to email us more information.

Yesterday, while perusing blogs and awaiting the email, I looked at the Chattanooga Stage race results from this weekend and there he was. Third place overall with a total time of 7:46:28. For some reason, I was assuming it was a road race somewhere, not a gnarly trail race, but the trail race fits him much better.

When I talked to Daniel last night, he was still excited about his race. In typical modest-Daniel fashion, though, he wasn't sure if his times were good since he had never run such a race before. In fact, he had never run a race longer than a half-marathon, so running 18, 20, and 22 miles consecutively was a big step up. When he signed up for Chattanooga, he wasn't sure he'd even be able to finish the stages, but he did, with times much better than good.

Daniel just graduated from college and is going to PJ training for the Air Force next month. He said he didn't know if he was going to keep running (he had been running cross country and track for years), but his experience this weekend has turned him into a trail running addict, already searching for more runs. He's got the physical ability and the right mindset to do well at ultras and trail races. So, congratulations, Daniel! We're such proud parents. We're looking forward to watching you win some 100s down the road.

Photo by Jeff Bartlett

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Black Mountain Monster Bear Video

Here's a video of the little bear at Black Mountain Monster:

Tony and Brian Beduhn are discussing their run while watching the bear knock berries out of the tree so he can eat them off the roof. Several of us saw the bear in the middle of the night behind the fence next to the paved section. He's pretty small- I thought he was a dog at first. Not exactly the Black Mountain Monster. But maybe next year.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

SportConnexin: Working for Me

I recently started using a different electrolyte supplement, SportConnexin, made by Molecular Fitness. Molecular Fitness is a grassroots company, whose main way of getting the word out about their line is through athletes who have had success with their product. So let me tell you about my experiments with SportConnexin, and if you are interested, you can do your own experimenting.

For the past few months, I have been listening to a couple of podcasts which, although geared toward triathletes, cover many ultra-related issues, Endurance Planet and Everyman Endurance. The name SportConnexin kept coming up, in interviews with athletes like Kami Semick and in discussions with sports nutritionists. In these discussions, those magic words for any ultrarunner came up, "improves endurance, reduces muscle fatigue and aids in recovery." Just like any endurance athlete, I'm always looking for new products that can help me improve, so after hearing the name repeatedly, finally checked it out. I spent a little time on their website and learned that SportConnexin goes beyond just electrolyte replacement. Their whole line of products aid in transferring the flow of nutrients at the molecular level and focus on maintaining a healthy pH balance while you are running. Apparently, the stress we put on our bodies as athletes results in excess acid, which is detrimental to our performance in all sorts of ways.

I ordered a sample, which came which pH strips to help you dial in precisely what you need and I tested it out on my first 50 mile run after coming off of my ITB injury. The first 25 mile loop, I stuck to my usual routine, and by the end of the loop was feeling fatigued and not at all ready for another one. I went ahead and started it and began substituting SportConnexin for my electrolyte replacement. As the loop progressed, I felt a marked difference in my energy level and finished it faster than the first one. Afterwards, I expected it to be a few days before my body felt like running again, but I recovered faster than usual and was out running strong within two days.

As I have worked on adjusting the dose for various conditions, the difference I find with SportConnexin is that I really don't feel much muscle fatigue. At BMM, I dealt with a variety of issues, but my legs never felt tired in those 87 miles. Once I adjusted my dose of SportConnexin to allow for the excessive heat, I felt good, didn't cramp and had plenty of energy.

I have had good results with SportConnexin, so I am helping them get the word out to people in our sport. If you are interested, click on the logo on the sidebar and it will take you to their website.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Black Mountain Monster: Just Running some 5K Repeats

The Black Mountain Monster is a 12/24 hour run, either run solo or on a relay team, and this was the 5th year of the race or its previous versions. All five of the races have raised money for a charity and part of your entry fee is to bring canned goods for the local food bank.

The first version of this race, Run For Africa, was originally billed as a relay race. I think a few of us emailed the director, asking if we could run solo, and he added those options to the run. This year and last, the solo runners way outnumbered the relay runners and this event has grown to be an exceptional ultrarunning event.

The venue is perfect, with ample parking, bathroom and shower facilities and a big field for everyone to set up their tents on. The 5K loop course is varied and not difficult. Every quarter mile or so, the course changes, making it mentally easier as well. I have run other loop courses that just seem to drag on forever because the scenery and trail is always more of the same. You don't need to carry anything if you choose, because there is water/Gatorade both at the start and halfway through the loop, although I chose to carry a bottle because of the heat.

The race director and volunteers were exceptionally helpful and the race was well-organized. The course was marked even better than last year, with plenty of chem lights and repainted arrows at night. (Unfortunately, the course is so compact, apparently some have taken advantage of some shortcuts both last year and this year.)

At last year's BMM, I came in with a definite goal, 100 miles, and I left with 72 miles, 18 hours in. (And the only reason I left with 72 was to not be totally embarrassed by Annette Bednosky's 69 in the 12 hour race). This year, my goal was a bit different. I had run MMT three weeks prior. I had not run in the heat and the temperature was supposed to hit 90 degrees. I really didn't know what I could do, so instead of setting a mileage goal, I set a "feel good" goal. I wanted to finish all 24 hours still moving, without the nausea/lightheadness issues I've been having off and on. No pressure to push hard, but instead to dial it down a bit until I could figure out my issues.

I rode over with Alan so Tony could come over a little later. We set up our "camp" on the edge of field, but brought no tent or chairs to motivate us to keep moving. I knew lots of ultrarunning friends would be there, but I was surprised at how many showed up to run in circles. It made the hours pass even quicker, knowing that you were bound to catch up or be caught by someone to hang out with for a little bit.

My race strategy was to not race. I brought lots of different kinds of food and several different pairs of shoes to experiment with. I didn't time my loops and felt very relaxed. I didn't care about taking a few extra minutes to do things here and there. In the middle of the night I took a time out and hiked up to the shower building to wash my face and hands. I walked a loop with Tony and parts of loops with other people and didn't care about people passing me (until the end of the race, but that's later in the story). All in all, much more enjoyable than having a specific target you are pushing to hit.

It was hot, pushing ninety degrees with high humidity. Parts of the course are in the full sun. On my third loop, I started feeling really bad. Great. Nine miles in and I've already messed up my goal. My "normal"symptoms, as of lately, nausea and light-headedness, set in, but also muscle fatigue and an urge to take a nap. The last one concerned me a bit, so back at camp, I decided to sit down and figure out what was going on. When my calf started to cramp a bit, that was a sign that I needed more electrolytes. I've been using SportConnexin (I'll blog more about that later) and I had been taking my normal dose, but, duh, it was about 20 degrees hotter than my normal runs. I upped my dosage by one and kept it at that level throughout the race until it cooled off. No more cramping, light-headedness or muscle fatigue. I also discovered, as I tried to talk to Tony and could only get one word out at a time, that I was having some major asthma issues (I think from all the dust on the trail), so I used my inhaler a little more often than normal and that helped as well.

As far as the nausea went, I drank pickle juice and ate chocolate pudding. I know, ultras do weird things to you. But whenever I run a really hot run in the summer, I get home and crave pickle juice, so I decided to bring some with me. I had chocolate pudding at MMT when I couldn't get anything else in, and it worked well here, too. I kept up this routine, supplementing with gels and orange slices and avoiding solid food.

I also, nine miles in, changed into shoes that I had not worn more than 10 miles. I had ordered a pair of Brooks Launches, but hadn't worn them much because they felt too wide for me. My Ravennas weren't feeling right, however, so I tried the Launches and ended up running the rest of the race in them. They felt great, light but cushioned, except for the pressure on my left big toe, which I should have adjusted because I now have a nasty blister under the toenail.

So around and around I went, moving well and having relatively few problems until about 4:00 a.m.. I had just been thinking about how good I was feeling when everything went downhill, rapidly. Nausea set in and I couldn't eat or drink anything, so I walked 4 or 5 laps and didn't worry about fueling. Finally, I was able to nibble on a shortbread cookie with a little ginger ale and I slowly felt better. I had about three hours left and decided I'd walk two more laps, so as not to get sick again, and call it a day, ending up with 84ish miles.

As I was ambling through my next-to-last loop, a friendly, well-intentioned woman introduced herself as she was sprinting by me (or at least it looked like a sprint at that point), and before she pulled out of earshot, told me that we were on the same lap. My initial rational thought was, "That's nice. And she looks like she is moving well. I'm glad my goal is to just keep moving." By the end of the lap, the irrational part of my brain took over and said, "I really don't want to be lapped by anyone who is on the same lap as me. I bet if I pushed hard, I could squeeze in two more laps instead of one, even if it makes me sick again." So, throwing off common sense, off I went, laying down two 40 minute loops (which sounds slow, but it was 22 hours into the run) and finishing with 87 miles in and 17 minutes to spare. The mind is a funny thing. Or at least mine is.

I actually felt good when I finished. I was able to eat and had no post-race nausea issues. Tony got in 24 miles, not bad for a guy with a bad knee who runs 3-4 miles a week. Alan hit 80ish, I think, hobbling with some really nasty blisters.

So my BMM actually went better than I expected. I enjoyed the run, was able to somewhat address the nausea issues, and got in many more miles than I predicted. I got to talk to a lot of people I had not seen in a while and by the end of the race, didn't feel the need to make the traditional annual pact with Brian about not running around in circles any more.

photos from the BMM site:

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Massanutten 2011- Full Circle

The Massanutten 100 is billed as one of the toughest in the country. All 100s are difficult, but what makes this race so hard is the terrain. It's not just the climbs and descents, but the technical, rocky trail. There are rocks that you clamber over, rocks that roll around under your feet, rocks that you rock-hop. In other words, a lot of rocks. The aid stations are far apart and you have to carry what you need in your pack. Determining what you need can be difficult, especially when the weather is calling for rain most of the weekend. The aid stations are well-stocked, and you can have a drop bag at most of them, but it always takes me a long time to try to predict what I will want at what point.

The race started at 4:00 a.m. this year, which meant a short night and a 2:45 a.m. wake-up call. The night before I was still struggling with a decision about what shoes to wear. I finally decided to stick to my Brooks Ravenna road shoes, which I have been wearing for the past year for all my trail runs. A couple of years ago, I would have questioned someone's judgment about wearing road shoes to the Massanutten and all it's rocks, but they've worked great so far and I didn't want to change things up at this point. (Although I did question, to myself, one woman's decision to wear Vibrams, which she had only worn a few times prior to the run.)

I tried to write this race report like a course description, but it got pretty monotonous. Every section involved a description of steep climbs and descents and a lot of rocky, technical terrain. So then I tried a description of my run, but that was monotonous, too. I felt good, I felt bad, I felt good again and then really, really bad. There, that sums it up. So I am left with random thoughts and highlights. Here we go....

1. The change-up in the course. The course is in a different order than in my previous run, so it was interesting to find that what used to be hard wasn't, and what wasn't hard was. Short Mountain on fresh legs at dawn was a lot easier than 2/3s of the way into the race in the dark. Kerns Mountain became the new Short Mountain, with the longest four mile section I have ever run.

2. Blisters. 28 in 2004. Maybe 2 in 2011. Correct shoes and socks (Smartwool) make a difference. My feet did hurt extremely bad towards the end of the race and I expected to find the bottoms covered with blisters, but they were just yucky and super-tender from being wet for the last 14 hours.

3. People. I had the chance to catch up with people I hadn't seen in a while, like Jay Finkle, 67 year old Gary Knippling who was running his 14th MMT, Beth Minnick, pacing and crewing Rick Gray (who was feeling too bad to chat). I spent quite a bit of time with Suzie Spangler as we were running about the same pace and kept catching up with each other. She helped time pass by faster, particularly the road sections, where you could actually have conversations. Later in the night, as I was feeling really bad, tagging along with her and her pacer, Mary, kept me going. I also met Jeff Pence, who we discovered used to work out and run with Tony, when Tony lived in Woodstock. I also met a number of new people and came to appreciate the familiar faces that I kept encountering throughout the run. Finishing in the middle of the pack, rather than lonely at the back, made me appreciate how many truly talented and determined runners there are out there.

4. The bad times. Issues with nausea and light-headedness in the morning, alleviated by running behind Suzie and focusing on her feet rather than on the rocky trail. A particularly bad time with those same issues in the night on Kern's Mountain, to the point that I thought I would have to drop at the Visitor's Center. A deluge along with lightning on the same section. Joining the walking dead huddled in the tent at the Visitor's Center. After Bird Knob, hitting a low point once again and actually running along crying about it. My feet (and everyone else's I passed) hurting so badly in the 15 miles. Mud from the rain (the shoes used to be white). The bugs!

5. The good times. The sunrise, both times. Seeing Tony at aid stations. No asthma issues. Good feeling feet for 80 miles or so. Eating a cup of soup at the aid station at Visitor Center and feeling like a new woman. The view on the way to Elizabeth Furnace and the view from Bird Knob at night. Finding a 6'2" leprechaun on the trail clicking his heels together and saying "Top of the morning to you." (Not a hallucination. Tony meeting me on the trail Sunday morning). Seeing Rick Gray at a very low point and then finding out he was able to finish the MMT on his third attempt. The flowers and the birds and sometimes feeling like I was the only one out there (maybe that should also be under bad times). A hard-boiled egg at the Picnic area. Finishing with a respectable time and being able to wear the shirt. Being satisfied with my run and not having unfinished business.

6. The aid stations were manned with the best volunteers. They filled my water bladder, brought me my drop bag and tried to figure out what I needed when I didn't know. Here's a chair, want some soup, what do you need, do you want to try....? At the Indian Grave aid station, the volunteer giving me sound advice (your hands are fine and lay off the electrolytes at this point, do you want to eat this, what about this, want some ginger ale?). At the Picnic area, while I was exhausted and teary, here's your drop bag, let me put this in it for you, I've touched worse things than your dirty socks, here's a coke, take this bag with some extra food in it, do you want to know what's ahead of you? A little kindness goes a long way when you're nearing your limits.

MMT was extraordinarily well organized, well staffed, and well run. I went into the run with a lot of doubts about whether I could finish it or not, but everything held together long enough to do it. I won't say I had fun for the last 30 miles, but I am satisfied with the outcome, especially as bad as I felt. (104 out of 195 starters, 33:49.)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Massanutten Flashback 2004

Some people get tattoos to commemorate important accomplishments. I have a dimple. When I smile big, there's an indentation on my left cheekbone, compliments of my first 100 miler, the 2004 Massanutten. I was running the section called the Jawbone and had navigated the rocky outcroppings without any problems. Then on a nice, flat section of trail, a small rock reached up and grabbed my foot, and I fell hard, onto another rock. I landed on my hip and face, blackening my eye, chipping my cheekbone and leaving a plate sized bruise on my hip.

I would like to say that was my worst experience of the run, but I think the 28 blisters topped that. I know how many there were because Tony made me drain them all, sitting in a hot bath, right before he dumped salt on them. We weren't married yet. He must have had a lot of confidence in our relationship, because ordinarily, that might be a deal-breaker. Then again, he was the one who talked me into running the Massanutten as my first 100.

"If you can finish that one, you'll know you can finish any of them." That's good logic, but I suffered so badly that I had no interest in another 100 for a couple of years.

So, here I am, seven years later, headed back to the scene of the crime. I'm not sure why, because although I don't remember what the suffering felt like, I do remember that I suffered. A lot. My only really good memory of the run was crossing the finish line. Oh, and the ice cream sandwiches at Elizabeth Furnace.

Here's what I remember.

There were rocks. Not the nice, stable North Carolina rocks, but the nasty little pointy ones that roll around and chase you down the hill.

Hallucinations. The man in the green raincoat looking at a map with Tony. And the double blazes that indicated we were almost to Elizabeth Furnace. I looked at those three times to make sure they were real. They weren't.

Crying on the climb from Edinburg Gap to Woodstock Tower and telling Tony that my feet hurt so bad, I didn't think I could keep going. Tony reminding me of the story of the blind AT hiker who constantly tripped and fell during the 2000 mile journey. "He didn't quit, " he said. Fine. I'll suck it up.

Having to use my hands on my quads to make them climb the last really steep mountain.

Looking and feeling like an accident victim for a week after the run.

Now, one week before the race, I sit here and wonder why I am doing it. I already feel a little banged up. My knee and hip hurts. I've been having some nausea issues. I can't breathe with all this pollen. Tony's knee is hurting and he can't pace me. If I had good sense, I would just stay home.

But then again, if I had good sense, I would find another sport. No excuses. Let's just see if I've learned anything in the past seven years.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bartram II. To Be Continued.

During a brief period of fatigue and frustration this weekend, I pondered the fact that my brain forgets what suffering feels like. I remember that I have suffered, sometimes horribly, during runs and races, but I don't really remember what it actually felt like. This disconnect leads to some interesting decisions, such as my decision to run the Bartram again in search of a faster time.

Logically, it made sense. If you run without having had a bad cold for two weeks and you can keep your IT Band intact, you ought to be able to knock hours off your time. I am sticking with that hypothesis, despite the fact that forty miles into the Bartram this weekend, I got into the car and went home. The Bartram apparently eats knees.

Okay, so maybe it was my fault. I run in Brooks Ravennas and I have a large box in my closet of shoes that all look the same. A smart person would label their shoes so they know how old they are, but I never took the time to do that. I planned to wear my "newest" old pair to start out with and switch to an actual new pair halfway through. But even if I could accurately determine which was the "newest" old pair, I really couldn't remember when I got them or how many miles I had on them. Apparently too many.

Tony and I hiked 2 1/2 hours to the start of the Bartram at Cheoah Bald early Sunday morning. He turned around and hiked back to the car at Stecoah Gap and I started the 5.1 mile downhill section that crosses Ledbetter Creek 5 times. The last couple times I was on that section, there was only one wet creek crossing. The others could be rock-hopped with no problem, but not after the 4 inches of rain this weekend. I had thought that by Sunday the creeks would have gone down quite a bit, but if that creek had, I would have hated to tackle it the day before. It was roaring. (As an example, there is a nice waterfall halfway through, but instead of the water falling down, it was shooting out horizontally.)

When I got to the first crossing, I seriously thought about turning around. Tony had just told me that I ought to have someone run with me on ALL the sections on a run like this, and I dismissed it, saying I was very comfortable running these first sections solo, since I was fresh and very familiar with them. So, I pondered this rushing creek, which was probably only a little more than knee deep, but the water was coming down so fast, I couldn't see the bottom to see where to place my feet or to judge precisely how deep it was. A few feet beyond the crossing is a small waterfall and I pictured losing my footing, being swept over the cascade, hitting my head and getting knocked unconscious and then Tony would have said "I told you so."

With a little prayer and a lot of faith, I crossed it quickly, hoping momentum would propel me toward the bank, and it did. I thought the first one would be the worst one because the water was channeled into a pretty narrow spot. As I continued to run downhill however, I crossed numerous side streams that were just little trickles in the past, but now were contributing more and more water to Ledbetter. Suffice it to say, the crossings didn't get any better. However, it got to the point where it would have been just as difficult to go back as it was to go forward. I breathed a huge sigh of relief after the last crossing, knowing that I only had two more bridgeless creek crossings in the next 105 miles.

I was running ahead of my predicted time, despite the tricky crossings. On the next section though, I realized my shoes were bad. Coming downhill earlier, it felt like I was pounding really hard despite going easy and softly. Here on this rolling section, my stomach was getting upset with each jarring step and my legs really started aching from the knees down. When I arrived at Appletree, still on schedule, I felt pretty bad and "camped" (as Tony called it) for about 20 minutes. I changed into the new shoes, took off and quickly felt better. The shoes had a lot more cushioning in them, my legs quit aching and the nausea went away. I did still have a slight pain in my knee, but I assumed that would work its way out. It didn't.

The climb from Nantahala Lake to Wayah Bald is the most difficult climb and while I did feel tired, most of my energy was focused on the fact that my knee hurt. I stopped several times and retied my shoe, thinking that might help. It didn't. At this point, crawling uphill with an aching knee, I remembered what suffering feels like. This is why they say never make decisions about your next run in the middle of your current run. If you did, you would never run again.

At Wayah, Alan planned to start running with me, and I went ahead and ran the next section to see if the knee got any better on the downhill. It didn't. This time, I had no reason to push through it and I stopped at Harrison Gap.

The next two days my legs felt like I had run 100 miles, but I had only done 40, and part of that was the hike to the start. As I unpacked my gear, I used a sharpie to put a big X on the back of the bad shoes and relegated them to yard-work duty. And then I labeled the new ones.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Finally 50 miles, How I Fixed my IT Band and other Randomness

If you haven't heard me complain about it, I injured my IT Band during my Bartram run in November. After my run, the cold I was battling hit full force and I was out of it for about a week. I didn't run for another week and I assumed that after two weeks of rest, my IT Band would be good to go. I had never injured my IT Band before and had no clue what to do about it or how long the recovery would be. After 5 minutes of running, I realized that rest alone hadn't fixed it.

So on to the wealth of information on the internet about how to fix my IT Band. Actually it was way too much information and much of it conflicted. One site hooked you with some seemingly excellent advice, only to stop partway through it and ask you to order the book if you wanted to learn the rest of it. Grrr.

My first plan of attack came from the "don't stretch it, you'll make it worse" camp. I did use the foam roller (OUCH!!!) every day and slowly built up the time I was running. I also used the advice of one of my former runners and used pre-wrap to wrap the area above my knee tightly. I was able to run 30 minutes, then an hour, then about 1:45, where I hit the wall. I was following the advice to stop running when it started hurting, so I did. But I couldn't get much beyond the two hour mark without having to stop. That sounds perfectly reasonable for the perfectly reasonable runner, but unfortunately I don't fall into that category. Two hours is the warm-up to the warm-up.

So I reversed course and this is what finally worked for me. I thought I would post it since I found so much confusing and conflicting advice. I realize that what worked for me won't work for everyone, but at least it's something to try.

1. Foam roller THREE times a day.

2. A deep tissue massage daily from my unqualified husband. He may not be trained but he has strong hands and found knots which he very unsympathetically broke up. Unsympathetically because it literally made me cry. Loudly.

3. Ice and ibuprofen after the massage.

4. Three different ITB stretches THREE times daily, after rolling.

5. Hip strengthening with a resistance band, daily, while I brushed my teeth.

6. Stopping 10-15 minutes into a run and stretching. Stopping to stretch several times during a long run. Stretch immediately thereafter.

7. Building up the length of my long runs slowly and not pushing the pace.

Finally, the week before last, a long run of 50 miles, and no ITB pain!

So there you have it. How I fixed my ITB. I'm going to keep up the stretching, rolling and strengthening because although rest is good for you, it's not all that fun when it's not optional!

You can stop reading at this point if you were just looking for ITB info!

Now for the rest of my story. That week was a fun week, running-wise. First, a nice little surprise when I got my Ultrarunning magazine in their Year in Review Section:

(And I found the women's data interesting. When I ran OD100 in 2006(?) my time of 23:34(?) made it into the top 100 hundred mile times for women, somewhere around 60, I think. Anyway, the sport has progressed so much in the last few years, that that time would not have come anywhere close to being in the top 100this year!)

Secondly, I did a 32 mile run on Sunday, thinking I was not pushing very hard, but ended up with my best time on that route. The next nice surprise was my 50 mile run, six days later. I had some breathing issues, some nausea issues and some random aches and pains, but they all came and went. I finished around 12:15, and was happy with that since most of it was trail and I was not pushing at all. It was also the tail-end of my only 100 mile week. Now I can finally focus on going harder and faster since my ITB seems to really be in working order.

In the middle of my run, I was coming down an obscure trail, rarely used, on which I have never seen another person. Ahead, I saw someone in a bright yellow shirt, looking at a map. (Not a hallucination this time). When he turned, I recognized the familiar triangle of Umstead on his shirt. Not only had I found someone on this trail, but I found a very accomplished ultrarunner, Jim Sullivan, tapering for Umstead. He was great company for several miles and it was nice to talk ultras with someone who really knew what he was talking about.

Alan joined me for the last 25 miles, his longest run since Bartram. No projectile vomiting for him at mile 22 like usual. I must not have been running hard enough. : )

Monday, February 21, 2011

Rattle My Heart 50K

There's nothing like keeping a tradition alive. Three years ago, Alan and I decided to run Adam Hill's Rattle My Heart 50K Fun Run. I was sure I knew where Lake Susan was, but after an hour of driving to all the lakes I was familiar with (not a one of the Lake Susan), we finally gave up and ran elsewhere.

The next year I asked for directions and we made it to the start with no problems. However, once into the Ridgecrest property, we were unclear about where to go and so had a very nice tour of their facility before figuring things out.

This year, coming off of two months of relative inactivity, I was a bit slow climbing up Rainbow Mountain and I quickly lost the rest of the group. No problem. I pulled out Adam's handy-dandy set of instructions and carefully followed them. Except that for some reason I thought I "knew" Rainbow Road was an actual road and not just a double-track trail. To make a long story short, I made a lefty instead of a righty on Rainbow Road , thinking I was somewhere else, and after running downhill for awhile looking for Rainbow Road, I realized my error and reversed course. However, after consulting with someone out for a run, I ended up taking yet a different trail, another meandering scenic tour, eventually ending up at the spot where I made the wrong turn. Bonus miles are great.

(Side note: although I may seem to get lost a lot at this run, I have not yet ...knock on wood... ever been truly lost. I may not know how to get to my destination, but I always know how to get back to the car. )

The tour de Ridgecrest a couple of years ago paid off as I shortcutted Lookout Mountain and made up a few minutes, but I was content to be the caboose for the day. The rest of the run was splendid. The weather was great and my IT band felt fine. I pounded the downhills hard, testing out my legs and everything was in fine working order. I felt like some sections went by a lot faster than the last time I ran, although I had forgotten how LONG Heartbreak Ridge is. (I also feel bad for all those people who drive for miles to find Andrew's Geyser, which is not a North Carolina Old Faithful, but a man-made fountain that does have some historic significance. Apparently it was originally built nearby in the late 1800s in front of a hotel to memorialize the 120 men killed building the railroad through the area. It was later moved and restored.)

Rattle My Heart 50 K++ 2011. 8:04. My longest run since Bartram and it made me very happy. Thanks, Adam, for another great fun run!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bear prints from Saturday's run