Saturday, April 24, 2010
This was the first year of the The Jazz Fest 100k, and it was put on by Sam Landry. The race director pulled some of his magicness and brought out a few of his fine young students to help out with the first 10 miles of the course. The runners were: Mike Hopton, Kristel Liddle, Jerry Sullivan, and Sultan. This wasn’t really a race, and so we all decided to stick together in the beginning. I was ok with this, as I really didn’t know where I was going, and didn’t know how the heat/humidity and flatness would effect me. Meeting the local runners was also a great way to experience the adventure. So I decided to go with one hand-held bottle and not a pack as I knew we would have access to water along the route.
Sam said Go and we were off. This was Kristel’s first 100k, so we talked a little about ultra running and what it meant to us. Jerry just finished the Umstead 100m for the third time and was sharing stories of his bad-assness, Mike and I exchanged few words, and a volunteer on a bike was giving us a history tour of New Orleans every time we passed a statue or landmark.
I was consumed with the conversation and never really took notice of my pace. Kristel was carrying her laptop wristwatch and was calling out pace every now and then. After the first 6 miles I decided to push on at my own comfortable pace. I filled up water at a fountain in City Park and took off. The heat and humidity was certainly present, but I felt relaxed to push on at a healthy pace. I ran thru many historic area’s and fancy neighborhoods and headed North on the Wisner Bayou all the way to the Lakeshore Drive Levy.
My eyes lit up with excitement when I saw a hill! The levy is a moraine-like man-made land barrier. I ran up this levy in jubilation. I enjoyed seeing the water from a little higher above, and the breeze was ever so refreshing. I had to watch out for the fire ants, as they colonized this levy.
We had a mobile aid station, Sam’s mother and her RV. She was the sweetest lady, and both her an her sister were ever so inquisitive on why we run ultra’s. In the distance, I saw an RV and ran down the levy towards it. When I reached the RV no one was in sight, and I really didn’t need anything as I was getting close to our turn around, so I pushed on. After a few miles I reached GNO TRI Sports and Kona Café. I pulled in, bought a gu and a cold coke, and filled up my bottle twice with ice water. Rick was happy to help out, despite a very sweaty runner in his store.
I turned around and ran back towards Marconi. I saw the trio on my return and made sure they were all having as much fun as I was. I hung a right and moved South until I reached City Park again. City Park is the second largest metro park after Central Park in NYC. From there I hung a right and followed the lagoon down to Jeff Davis and retraced my steps back to posh hood of Fontainbleau, and left on Carrollton heading back to where I started. I saw a Burger King, and I couldn’t resist a stop for some ice and water. They were happy to let me snag some. I pulled into Cooter Browns in just under 4 hours, 20 miles into this 62 mile journey.
My body was speaking to me, and I listened. I took some time to rest here, and took off my shoes which were soaked in sweat. I ate salty chips, and drank as much water as I could. I was taking in electrolytes which is the only way to go on these hot runs. After resting for 10 minutes, I decided to wait for the entire gang, they surly were not that far behind. 35 minutes later I decided to push on when no one showed up.
The rest of the run was on a levy by the Mississippi River, 21 miles West, and 21 mile back. This was all on asphalt, and was pretty much uneventful. The sun was now out of the clouds and beat down on my body as I was fully exposed with no trees to shade me. I ran walked much of this section. 10 miles into I saw Sam and Kristel’s husband with coke and Pizza. I re-fueled. You guys are awesome, thank you so much for the calories, I was dying at that point. Mike had caught up to me by this point, and we ran walked together to the next aid station which was the turn around. Before reaching the turn around the sun went down, and cooler air filled my lungs. The damage was done however, and I could not get my heart rate down.
When I reached the aid station the mosquitoes punished my body even more, and didn’t let me stay for long. I downed more water and ate little as my appetite wasn’t having any of it. Mike and I pushed on, and soon saw both Jerry and Kristel. The next 10 miles or so I was in a low spot, and had a hard time keeping up with Mike even on the run 8 minute walk 2 minute system he had going for himself. His consistency amazed me.
We saw Sam yet again at the last aid station. Sam had coffee! Life saver for me as I was dozing off already. I knew I would finish well past midnight, and so the caffeine was something my body would appreciate. I was feeling a little better at this point and decided to just keep running without walking and told Mike I would see him soon.
I made it to the RV and back to Cooter Browns by 1:37am. Total time on the run 13:37, net elevation gain of 14 feet. This was more challenging that I anticipated, but I did get some heat/humidity acclimatization. Met some amazing people, and saw NOLA on foot. Sam, please thank your mother for all of her help, and thank your students for their time Saturday afternoon. Tell them Sultan gives them bonus points!
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
16 miles - 3:19 - Montreat, NC
Photos: By Jesse Hagberg
I rolled into the Dripolator at 8:15am. Got some caffeine and a large thermos to go which they lend you! I ran into Sara and John and we made the drive up to the Lake Susan parking lot just before 9am. The weather was perfect. A few clouds in the sky spoke to me and said to bring my Houdini, I wrapped it around my waist, but never used it.
A bunch of characters showed up for this fun run that Adam has put on for a few years. Brian Behdun was the architect of this madness and was at the starting line. These people bring so much positive energy that is uplifting you don’t feel like you are traversing up big mountains on fairly technical trail. Charlotte represented big time with the Crimson Cheetah leading the pack. New and old friends joined in on the action.
We all took off around 9:15am with the Grand Kirk leading the pack. He was dressed as if he was going into gorilla warfare?? I asked him to tone it down a bit as it frightened me. Non-the-less a good pace was set and we were climbing up Rainbow Mountain. This is when a few of the fast cats took off and left us mortals behind. Michael Jackson even showed up and busted out his dance moves on the rocks skipping up the mountain effortlessly.
Sultan was there for fun and games, and got in a few quality miles and laughs along the way. In his company was the Worm and a Yogi from Georgia who was not only pulling off this run in good pace, but doing it in style with aviators on. For the first two summits we would take a short break and bust out a yoga stretch move. I mastered the crow again on the summit of one of the Seven Sisters. Boooya! This wasn’t a race, but an experience to be had. Ok, having fun yet?
We pushed along to the Lookout Rocks and enjoyed a clear sunny day with astonishing views. While refueling on my inner chi I let a few runners pass me. It was me and Yogi at this point. We moved quickly on the East Ride Trail which twisted and turned many times. We went through Sourwood Gap and then climbed Rocky Head Summit and descended back to the Trestel Toll.
If your following along, great…most people get lost, and I almost did here. So what I do is print off directions or a map, put it in a ziplock bag with easy access while running so I can reference it when needed! Have a map and know how to use it, simple right?
I was now looking for the Greybeard Trail (blue blaze). Once I was heading up Greybeard I could see the fast cats coming down as this was an out and back section. Mark Lunblad, the Cheetah, and Mike Jackson were in a tight pack flying off the rocks as if they were floating on air. Mad A, Damian (whom by the way is getting stronger every time I see him on the trails), and William past me in the opposite direction. The Worm put a lead on me and now I was on my way up to the summit of Greybeard.
We then returned to Big Slaty and hung a right onto the West Ridge Trail. This was my favorite section of trail. Adam describes this section as “a sadistic playground of rocks, roots, climbs and descents!” I picked up the pace here testing out my footwork.
After going up many more of the Seven Sister Summits, you reach Big Piney Mountain. A large rock out cropping was the perfect spot for a few of us to take a break and soak up what was views from every section of this run. I suggested to the group to revive the inner coyote and we yelled out a synchronized howl which was heard by many of the residents of Montreat and Black Mountain. I could even hear a few of them howl back at us.
We all then descended, some faster than others all the way into Montreat. By the time we hit asphalt it was myself, Mad A, and the Worm to make it to the parking lot in 3:19. I stretched a little here, took a short break, and then was off for another 7 miles with the Cheetah. A total of 23 miles for the day.
Whence we made it back to our starting point, we decided to dip the feet in the icy cold waters and bask in the sun. Later that night I joined up with the Grand Kirk, Mad A and company for some din din. Awesome day in the hills.
"START/FINISH: parking lot adjacent to Lake Susan--to find the parking lot, head up into Montreat, then turn right onto Lookout Rd., and the parking lot is on the right (note: all trails will be blazed with a plastic diamond blaze on trees...most intersections are marked, but you must be paying attention and read what's written on the diamond blaze if confused)
Leave the parking lot and find the Gate Trail (blue blaze) which runs from the parking lot to the creek and heads downstream. Follow this trail through the playground, beside the tennis courts, around the softball field, and through it's many twists and turns. After passing below several Montreat houses, you will pop out in a clearing with dirt and gravel...be looking diagonal-left for Rainbow Mtn. Trail (gray blaze) which is near an out-building with the number 3 on it. Take this trail up and over Rainbow Mtn. being careful to watch for the summit trail at a key intersection near the top; After going up and over the summit, turn right at the intersection with Rainbow Rd./Tr. and follow this staying left at the next three intersections. The last left will put you on Trestle Rd. (there is a FS sign) for about 20 yards until you will turn right onto Lookout Tr, Go up and over Lookout Rocks, then after enjoying the view stay straight over the summit to access East Ridge Trail; This trail will take you over numerous summits, and amongst it's many twists and turns it passes several trails that take you off of the ridge, so be careful to follow the blazes of East Ridge Trail (gray blazes); After going through Sourwood Gap (East Ridge Trail goes straight through), you will climb Rocky Head Summit, then you will descend to where East Ridge Tr. dead ends to Trestle/Mitchell Toll; Stay left here to continue on Trestle and follow it to the first intersection with Greybeard Trail (blue blaze) which would take you to Pot Cove Gap; DO NOT GO UP to Pot Cove Gap, but continue straight to a creek crossing and stay on Trestle for a couple of miles of UNBELIEVABLE trail!! Be careful to look for Graybeard Tr. (blue blaze and marked well), which you will turn left on. Once heading up the Graybeard Tr. you will come to the turn off for Walker's Knob (there is a shelter there); Take this side trail a short ways to Walker's Knob, then head back to Graybeard Tr. and continue up towards Graybeard; Be looking on the left as you are climbing up in order to take notice of West Ridge Trail (which you will take after summiting Graybeard); After going over Big Slaty Mtn.(written on a gray blaze), then you will do a short out and back to the summit of Graybeard; After returning to Big Slaty, you will then take a right turn onto West Ridge Trail; This trail is a sadistic playground of rocks, roots, climbs and descents! After going up and over many more of the Seven Sister Summits, you will come to Big Piney Mtn; Turn left here on Big Piney Tr. to descend into Montreat; The trail ends at a gravel rd, then run the gravel rd. until it turns to pavement, then turn right onto Graybeard Trail Rd. and take this back past Lake Susan to the parking lot and the FINISH!!!!!"
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
Monday, April 05, 2010
Run 16+ miles
Photos and SAG: Renee Jackson
I rose early enough to smile at the half moon high above. The sky was just beginning to illuminate and the clouds drew themselves ever so perfectly forcing me to gaze upwards while in the batmobile. I love the experience of waking up in darkness and seeing the day come together. I sipped my pre-adventure caffeine and played the day out in my head.
David, Katie, Mike and I all met up on Hendersonville Rd. in Ashevegas. Mike’s wife Renee volunteered to help with crewing and picking up the bikes when the run began, thanks Renee!
We clipped in at 9:30am and got on the parkway and began to spin. A few rolling hills, and then a nice descent which gave way to some 30+ mph riding early on. We quickly passed the new Blue Ridge Parkway headquarters building and then passed the Folk Arts Center, after which the real climbing began.
Mike and Katie were able to take a sizable lead which I would not be able to catch up for another 20 minutes. I just kept spinning and taking in the amazing clear sky, and breathing the fresh mountain air. The parkway is still shut down past Bulls Gap, which gave us the asphalt to ourselves. No cars, just cyclists and a few hikers that for some reason preferred the road versus the trail.
Mike pointed off in the distance to a small gap between two peaks and said that is where we are going, it seemed as if it was 50 miles away, but in reality it was only about 6 or 7 miles. I kept spinning. We passed thru 3 tunnels and made our way to the top of Craggy Gardens in about 2 hours.
We descended. The thrill of getting on a bike with a 1/4th of an inch of tread holding your body and bike upright between the asphalt flying at 40+ miles per hour is exhilarating. Sure you can crash here and get injured really bad, but focus and fly. I put on my Houdini as it got cold descending. Katie took the lead and never let up the whole way down to Bulls Gap. Mike was just going for a relaxed ride as he could have blown away any of us at a given moment, David and I were hanging on for the ride. I peddled hard in the big ring while going downhill. I could feel my thighs pulsating.
Half an hour alter we arrived at Bulls Gap, and met up with Renee. Here I pounded some calories and hydration, slipped on the running shoes, changed my shorts, and prepared myself for a 16 mile trail run down the Mountains to Sea Trail. Mike would join me and we left the bikes with Renee. Katie and David opted out of the run, and pushed on with the bikes.
My stomach was full of food and I could feel it sloshing around the first half a mile, but then it was all good. I was taking in salts by way of NUUN tablets. I just put them in my mouth instead of in a litter of water, surly to give you a new experience. I knew it would be hot, but it felt like hell out there.
Mike and I ran to the Folk Arts Center in just over one hour and refilled our bottles with cold water from the fountain inside. I was dripping in sweat, and was out of there quickly. I slowed my roll after the FOC and began to move a little slower. Mike could have blown by, but we ran together until we reached a blue trail which lead to the BRP Headquarters building. I wanted to turn left here and stay on the MTS trail, but Mike wanted to fill up his single bottle in the building. We moved onto this blue blaze. Mike explained it was the same distance, but just on the other side of the parkway. I opted out of filling my bottle as I had been carrying two, while Mike made the dash into the building to refill, I pushed on.
When I popped out of the blue blaze, I saw one sign that said left onto the MST, and took it. When I saw the same BRP headquarters building appear before my eyes I realized I just practically went in a circle, and backtracked to see where I made my mistake. I went just over half a mile off trail.
Mike was now ahead of me, but he thought I was ahead of him, and he ran harder to try and catch up. I was feeling a nagging pain in my left foot for the camping trip with the boys this weekend, but pushed thru the pain. I ran/shuffled into the Starbucks to see Mike sipping on ice water in the summer heat. We drove to Mikes place to meet his family, downed some calories and rehydrated.
Bike mileage: 36.6 (25 uphill to Craggy, and 11.6 downhill back to Bulls Gap). Trail run mileage: 16+. Very hot day well into the 80's. Another adventure in the hills on WNC, good times with all, and a special thanks to Mike and Renee for helping us make this possible!