Coach Spencer Runs in the Woods

Coach Spencer Runs in the Woods

Monday, February 21, 2011

Pre-Mt. Mitchell Thoughts

picture from last year's Mt. Mitchell Challenge near the top.

Saturday brings the Mt. Mitchell Challenge- 20 miles to the top of Mt. Mitchell and 20 miles back down. Last year, there were single digit temps and 30-50 mph winds along with a lot of snow. I worried for weeks about it last year. I'm not nearly as worried this year and have barely thought about it until the past couple of days.

I'm expecting it to be about 10 degrees warmer this year- around 35 at the start and in the teens- maybe 20s at the top. Reports sound like snow, and some tricky footing, but not as bad as last year. Expecting less snow at lower elevations. Report said 2 foot drifts of crusty snow you could run on top of in places, but around 4" more common in upper elevations. It was around 30 and snowing yesterday while being above 60 in Black Mountain where the race starts.

Two years ago, I did the marathon, which doesn't cover the upper part of the course. Last year, I did the Challenge, but it was rerouted to the roads above the Parkway, so I still haven't seen the upper trails.

I plan on bringing a lot of gear to the race. I'll decide on what to bring with me at the briefing meeting the night before. My guess is that I'll start in shorts with calf sleeves (which sort of serve as leg warmers) with a short sleeve and a long sleeve shirt & hat. I'll carry a thin shell, pants/tights, and Yak Trax. That may be all, but I'll bring more in the car with me. I guess I'll take a hydration pack with a bottle in the pocket and a my extra clothes where the bladder goes.

Conditions and terrain make this less about racing for me and more about survival. I struggled last year and my training had been terrible. Lately, it's been good. No time goal or anything though. I finished a disappointing 87th out of 121 finishers last year (many no shows & people who were forced to, or decided to turn around early). I'd like to finish better than that and should barring any problems. I feel good about it.

Speaking of training, yesterday, I went out and ran a hard 18 miles with the GPS. I actually ran a half marathon PR by a few seconds! Really pushed it. Intentionally slowed down just a little the last 5 miles and averaged 7:12/mile for the 18 miles. Followed it up with a hard tempo run with the team today. Legs sore. I'll take it easy the next few days, take care of myself and be ready to go Saturday. Excited!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Peak to Peak to Peak to Peak at Crowders

Had a great ~4 hour run Sunday at Crowders Mountain State Park. Parked at the Visitors Center which is between Kings Pinnacle & Crowders Mountain. The Visitors Center is at 850' elevation and each peak is at about 1700'. I went up Kings Pinnacle, then Crowders, then repeated. Felt absolutely perfect! Ran all the way up each time (except on some of the icy stairs on Crowders), which I've never done before. Great run!

I came upon a couple who were in their 70s. They asked if they could take my picture. I said, "Yes" and stood there. They said, "No go back and run towards us again." I obliged. They asked if I had a camera with me and wanted to take my picture with it. Here's what came out: