So - I noticed on a blog I've been following for months now, that he (Jason) was doing a training run down on the Chattooga/Foothills trails Saturday morning. I finally emailed him earlier this week after getting the go-ahead from my wife and feeling that my body was up for running 18-22 miles. Turns out 22 miles was the plan by the time Sat. rolled around. Up at 4:15 and the 90 minute drive to the Cherry Hill Recreation Area was practically red-light free.
It was about 6 years ago that I was last here to run the Big Bend Trail. It was quite overgrown and turned out the area closed a week later due to numerous bear sightings.
Anyway - Jason, Sam, D showed up and we waited on Dan to finish his first 7 miles (he was doing the full 50k course). Jason and I were going to do 24 miles or so (hmmm, so much for 18-22!) and Sam and D were going to stop at ~12. We got started at 7:15am in a chilly ~38°. Ran the 2.7 miles on the Big Bend Trail heading towards the river. Trail was pretty clear other than some downed trees every so often. Took ma a mile or two to get warmed up, but didn't feel "good" for about an hour. The trail was beautiful!! I'll have some pictures to add once I get them developed this week. It is So Different (meaning: Wonderful!) being out on the trail...just the sound of feet patting the ground, birds, the river very loud at times. Oh yeah - and the water sloshing around my camelbak. We chatted here and there and that was nice. Got to know the group I was running with and will likely see them again either at races or other training runs.
I was surprised at our pace - it seemed faster than it actually was, but there were plenty of hills to walk. I'm not complaining as that was probably the only way I would have gotten thru the whole thing. Having zero reference point made what I thought out of the question.
A few miles by the Chattooga River and we headed back away from it towards 107, where Sam and D stopped. After a short break - we went on 2 more miles to our turn around spot and came back to 107. This was the part I was not expecting to do, but it all worked out in the end. Having company for the return trip was well worth it.
We were a bit slower on the return trip and made it back to the starting point 6 hours after we'd begun (Except Dan of course).
I know I cut that return trip short - but other notes I want to throw in:
-Trail was very clean except for just a few pieces of trash.
-There were 2 or 3 points where it is Easy to get off trail. One heading out on Big Bend near the intersection with Foothills and others on Foothills. One spot, Dan had us stop to see where we could miss a turn off. On the way back, he and Jason both ran thru it and I noticed the log in the way that caught my attention earlier. I certainly did not need to be running further than necessary!
-My PB&J bagel gave me a great lift at our 1st stop 12 miles in. Wish I had a 2nd one for that last 3-4 miles. I imagine the aid station will be well received!
-I carried a bottle of water and my 3L bladder in my camelbak. Finished with 1L left, so definitely the right amount. I would have not felt as comfortable if I had finished with no water left.
-Good conversations: training and ultras of course, horrors movies about a big yellow bee, family, etc. All made the time & miles go by.
-My previous long (by time) run was my 1st marathon at 4:18. NYC 2008 could count because after the 4:08 race, there was a good 2 miles of walking. Either way - I beat it by another 90 minutes! I feel good about the 50k. Just need to keep the miles up and I'll be fine. 6-7 hour finish is likely.
- After last weeks personal high mileage - I beat it this week with about 46 miles. Next 2 weeks will be back in the 30's (Thankfully!). Felt pretty good after the run, even thru last night. This morning have a couple spots that are more sore. Left lower shin/ankle and the outside left/back just above the knee.
-Final thank you to Jason, Dan and the others for making it possible - to run that far and to enjoy the Trails again!
4-18-10: Adding Photos!