Went out to Paris Mountain for my 18 miler. It was much warmer than I was expecting (and warmer than Mauldin it seemed) but that was just fine. My plan was to go out just a bit slower than previous trail runs so my last of the three 6-mile loops was not so difficult. Beautiful day and quite a few people were out - many I saw numerous times. Still very nice views from the trail as the trees were still mostly bare on this last day of winter. Brissy Ridge heading to Kanuga is very runnable. Once on Kanuga - the first half is not completely runnable. Mostly on and off. I'd read on some ultra blog or the like that if you can't see over it - you should walk it, so I tried to do that as much as possible. Once you get halfway on that trail - exactly where the Firetower Trail enters, it is almost all runnable, mostly downhill until you hit the North Lake trail. You can get some good speed on some sections and can open it up if you feel like it. Be careful of the rocks, roots, and a little mud though. There were some campers right at the trail junction by the lake as I made my first pass. This lake trail is 95% runnable (ok - really 100%, but there was one short section I chose to walk each time in order to save some energy for later on). Took my 1st Gu 30 minutes into my run and that kept my energy up. Made the turn onto Pipsissewa and it starts out runnable, then becomes and on and off things like Kanuga and continues like that until the last 1/2 mile back to the parking lot on Brissy Ridge. 1st loop took ~58 minutes. Took my planned 3 minute break at my car for some water, emptying dirt from my shoes and just a little rest. My camelbak worked fine, but still doesn't seem to fit the best. No awkward rubbing or anything though. Headed back out feeling very good for loop 2. Took the same plan into this loop but seemed to walk a bit more than loop 1. Even so, my time was still right at 58 minutes again. Another 3 minute break (1/2 bagel, water) and back out again. Was starting to feel the energy fading and slowed down just a bit. Always in the back of my mind was how much further 31 miles was going to be. Was I going to be doing any running those last 10 miles?
Slower, but moving along, took it a bit more careful on the downhill leading to the lake loop. Just before that intersection, with the campsite just on my left, my foot hit a root or something and down I went. I must say I don't fall often, but I landed like a pro! Fell into it and rolled slightly. Other than a small scrape on my right palm and left knee, some dirt and leaves to brush off - I was fine. After a quick peek to see if the campers noticed (I don't think so), I went on my way, walking a good bit more. Stopped at one point on a bench to empty out the shoes again, but kept running where I could and finished loop three in 1:03 or so. Total time: 3 hrs 5 minutes for ~18 miles. (only 13 miles, or 2+ laps to go!). Funny thing was, had no soreness, pains or anything negative during the run really. Guess it was just a lack of energy. 2 Gu's probably wasn't enough, forgetting my power bar in the car didn't help.
Left to head up to Travelers Rest - more on that soon!