Bradley's View

Bradley's View

Sunday, November 27, 2011

6th Annual Bent Creek Gobbler

      It was a pleasure, as always, to gather with a group of WNC trailrunners new and old for the 6th Annual Bent Creek Gobbler.  The run is designed as a ~50k that runs in a figure-8, the first loop is about 16 miles and the second is about 14.  The weather was impeccable and the forest beautiful.

      Having run the Turkey Strut just a couple of days prior, I was uncertain as to how many miles my body would be interested in putting on and how hard I would be able to run due to the lingering soreness in the lower legs.

       We took off at about 9:30.  I ran with the speedsters in the lead pack, Luna wouldn't have had it any other way.  The first couple of miles were great, rolling along South Ridge Road slowly gaining elevation.  Shortly thereafter I was deterred for 6 or 8 minutes to wait for Luna while she pursued a deer for who knows how far down the north face of the mountain.  By the time she returned we fell into place with the other group of runners who brought with them smiles and great conversation.  Upon reaching the Mountains-to-Sea trail at its intersection with Hard Times Road, Luna and I worked hard up the climbs on our way to the aid station where we refilled the water bottle and met up with Jason and his dog, River.

      Jason led the way for the next few miles with the two dogs at his heels and me trailing their tails close behind.  We had a speedy march up a couple of climbs and enjoyed the fantastic descent heading down Truckwheel Mountain to one of my favorite stretches of trail- the ~4 miles from there up to Bent Creek Gap.  Around here I took over the lead position and pushed the pace on and off with the dogs and Jason running as strong as can be, which provided great motivation to keep me working hard.  About a mile or so out from Bent Creek Road we came up behind Brandon and Matt and hung with them until we reached the ~2 mile descent back to the start/finish area.

      After a few minutes of trotting on the downhill my arch-enemy, the IT-band, began to make its presence known so I turned to its kryptonite, running fast.  Luna and I turned up the speed to what was likely a sub-6:00 pace for the last mile/mile and a half to reach the start/finish after about 2 hours and 6-8 minutes of running.

      After scarfing a bit of food, contemplating the state of my IT-band, and being beckoned by beverages being chilled in the babbling brook, I elected to call it a day and not pursue the full 50k.

      As always, the post-run gathering was a delight Momma-Kirk got a nice fire burning and there were beverages and snacks to suit every taste.  The only breaks in conversation and laughter were to cheer for runners who were finishing the first loop and eventually those who finished the full 30 miles.

      It was the last big group fun-run of 2011 and a huge success.  Definitely looking forward to getting faster and stronger as we move forwards to all the great runs plotted out for 2012!


Friday, November 25, 2011

A Calligram

Turkey Strut

      We awoke to a beautiful Thanksgiving morning in Winston-Salem.  The pre-run breakfast/snack slowly settled as the thermometer creeped its way up to 40 degrees.  Melissa, my dad and I laced up our shoes, reproached our already aching bodies and jogged a mile warm-up from the house to the starting line.

      It was certainly a family affair!  At the start/finish area there were 800 people; families, dogs, strollers and the likes in all quarters.  I lament to say that I did not realize dogs' participation was permitted until after the race was over, so Luna did not get to join in on the fun.

      The course was 5k with a few good climbs and through familiar terrain winding past my alma mater and through the neighborhood of my teenage years.  I had the pleasure of running into a couple of friends of old from the lacrosse team at Reynolds as well as a number of other friends and acquaintances.  It is always a pleasure to return home.

     During high school I had been a member of the Cross-Country team for a season, though I elected to practice(train) only a couple of times a week manifesting a PR of a whopping 22:22 5k.  That was the last 5k that I had run, about 6 years ago.  Needless to say, my intentions were to wipe that time off the slates and replace it with something, ideally, around 20 minutes.

      And we were off!  The race poured downhill for the first mile or so before entering a climb-descent-flat combo and a final mile to get us back up to the starting point.  I unfortunately do not have a good internal gauge of pace, so I found a rhythm after the initial descent that didn't allow me to get winded but also did not allow anyone to pass me.  I maintained this pretty comfortably, working really hard on the climbs and using flat sections or descents to recalibrate my heartrate.  After the last climb, a little over a quarter mile from the finish probably, fatigue really began to set in.  But great folks out cheering, among who were my mother, my aunt, a cousin, and Luna, made it a painless push to the finish.
      I managed to pull in at 14th place with a 19:14 finish time(~6:12/mile), which was good enough for 1st place in the 20-24 age group.  I could scarcely have been more delighted with the morning.  My dad and Melissa were both able to surprise themselves out there as well running their personal bests!!

      As you may expect, we had a recovery meal to remember with about a dozen family members crowded around the table giving thanks for each other and the wonderful communities and endless opportunities life brings our way!