Bradley's View

Bradley's View

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Looking Ahead In The Rearview

     To me, the holiday season/New Year's shuffle is a really funny time.  It is often associated with unruly, stress-inducing shenanigans , copious amounts time in the car, social fatigue that is often attributed to too much family time, among other symptoms.  Yet I also find that it is also the time that I am most adequately composed to truly pause and reflect on the year past and not-so-distant future that is the year ahead.  If I was to try to do this on, say, August 12th, I would probably find myself reflecting on the summer and the kick-off of autumn but so caught up in the conveyor belt of calendar days that I can't truly recalibrate my mind to focus on all that lies ahead in the light of what has happened; looking ahead in the rearview, you might say.

     I can say comfortably and confidently that 2011 has been the best year of my life.  I've set and achieved goals: 1) running longer distances  2) running faster 3)running faster over longer distances 4) graduating from college 5) exploring the place that I live.  Meanwhile I came face to face with nearly unbearable difficulties and disappointments (namely an injury leading to months of not running followed by an grueling, unwaveringly demanding semester of school).  There is no doubt that every experience, positive and negative has shed a great deal of light on me and my character, something that will indudablemente aid me in plotting plans to achieve the moderately-rational, whimsical dreams I consistently conjure up.  Which brings me to the coming months:

     Guiding myself into a consistent training regime has me with high hopes leading into 2012.  I lay them out so forwardly as this with hopes of providing reinforcement in the coming months when the going gets tough.  Like they always say, "when the going gets tough, the tough run through it" or something like that...

  •      In January I plan to tackle a couple of ultra-distance endeavors.  First, the Tanawha Marathon followed a couple of weeks later by the Sultan 50k+.
  •      February will be headlined by the Rattle My Heart 50k.
  •      March will be the culmination of several months of work with a goal of traversing the 77 mile Foothills Trail in under 20 hours.
  •      In April I intend to join the WNC Trailrunners in another running of the Linville Gorge Madness Marathon
  •      June will feature an adventure to upstate NY to visit the in-laws and run in the Finger Lakes 50 with intentions of topping my personal best.
  •      July and August have no adventures to note, but lots of training...
  •      September 14th I am going to embark on my first ever 100 mile run in Steamboat Springs, CO, the Run Rabbit Run 100
  •      Confession:  Though the 100 seems monumental in my running "career", I think of it as more of a training run.  All of the above is simply preparation for the running of the Pitchell 100k++!!

     Though brief, bland, and trite, that was one of the more fun things I've ever written!  Every day is exciting!  My new year's resolution, I am deciding right now, is to try not to let my head and heart get too far ahead of my body.

    Like some wise man once said, "You cannot dream yourself into a character; you must hammer and forge yourself one."

     That being said, I go into the new year with a newfound diligence regarding my training which hits on but is not limited to, milage, minutes, mental and physical fatigue and ongoing issues.  Using this I will learn more about this body-machine thing I've been blessed with and how I can make it run most effectively.
      I have the utmost confidence that with the incessant love and support of my beautiful wife, Melissa, my family, friends, and others I meet, this will shape up to be an even better year than the last.  And I'm sure the running will continue to improve, too.  Especially as long as I have great running companions who are always going to be a few strides faster than me (i.e: Adam, Luna)!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Week In Review: 12/19-12/25

It finally feels like winter is coming! I didn't get a long run in this week, but was able to get in several runs and a whole lot of enjoyment while exploring new trails through snow and ice up in upstate NY.  A great week that has ended with a tender left shin and a desire for a long run as I get back to the Asheville area.

12/19- Monday
      AM- 5 miles in about 42 minutes with Luna around my parents neighborhood in Winston-Salem.  IT-Bands were quite uncomfortable, nothing felt quite right...

12/20- Tuesday
      Rested in hopes of shaking off the sluggishness felt during the last two runs

12/21- Wednesday
      AM- Slugishness shaken!  ~7.5 mile Fitness Test in Bent Creek in 54 minutes.  First 3 or 4 miles with Mike Jackson, Luna was there through and through.  Felt great about the day's work- could easily go faster.
      PM- 12 miles biking around West Asheville with Lauren

12/22- Thursday
      AM- 6.4 miles in 1:40ish up and down Looking Glass Rock with Melissa and Luna.  The rain waited to come in until we had arrived back at the car.

12/23- Friday
      AM- ~7 miles of bushwhacking, running the Parkway and MST with Tim in 1:50 around Craggy Gardens
      PM-  4 miles with Luna at Carrier Park in 26:20

12/24- Saturday
      14 hours of driving to arrive safe and sound in upstate NY
12/25- Sunday
      AM- 4 miles with Luna in 35 minutes.  Great running through the snow in about 13 degree weather!
      PM- 5.5 miles with Mel and Luna in about 50 minutes- left shin really aching during this one...
      A very, very, merry Christmas!

Me and the ladies in front of Grass Lake.
Running on thin ice... literally.

Totals(just running)-39.5 miles, 6 hours 50 minutes

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Week In Review: 12/12-12/18

     I've gotten in a really fun week of running while working a few hours at the Black Mountain Running Company, graduating from college, and spending some quality time with a while lot of family: immediate, in-laws, and out-laws alike.  So here's the recap:

12/12- Monday
    AM- 7 miles in 1:10 at Salem Lake with the dad and Luna
     PM- 5.5 miles in 40 minutes around Lake Tomahawk with Luna

12/13- Tuesday
   PM- .55 miles... Should have eaten after trying to run...

12/14- Wednesday
    AM- 9 miles in 1:12 at Bent Creek/Arboretum with Luna.  Great morning workout, finished strong.

12/15- Thursday
    AM- 2.5 miles around the Black Balsam area with Mel and Luna in about 30 minutes.
    Later in the AM- 2.5 miles on the MST from Elk Pasture Gap in 15:30

Mel on the move!

Someones in a hurry...

12/16- Friday
     PM- ~6 miles in 51 minutes with Adam at the Blue Ridge Assembly.  Climbtastic, mudilacious, and funboyant.

12/17- Saturday
    AM- Graduation!
Got it!

12/18- Sunday
    PM- ~14 miles at Salem Lake in 1:50 with Luna.  First loop in :56, second in :54.  Good even effort.  The Inov-8s became less agreeable as the run went on.  IT-Bands were unhappy...

 47 miles, ~6 hours 30 minutes

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Week In Review: 12/5-12/11

     I decided to bounce back the miles this week after completing my first ultra distance in sometime.  Next week I intend to breech into a 40 mile week and I don't foresee myself looking back after that.

12/05- Monday
After working up a nagging stone bruise and at the pleading of lingering fatigue in the legs from the Art Loeb, I elected to take this one off and start the week on Tuesday.

12/06- Tuesday
AM- Grocery Run (quite literally) with Mel and Luna, about 2 miles in 20 minutes.  Wore the Mizuno-clunkers to pad the bruise, it felt alright
PM-4.2 miles in 28:09 at Carrier Park.  Tested out the new Inov-8 Roclite 285s with little irritation to the stone bruise.

12/07- Wednesday
Where did the time go?!  With final projects and papers due Thursday, I just couldn't get a workout in.

12/08- Thursday
PM- 5.5 miles in 50 minutes, mostly on trail around UNCA with Mel and Luna in the Inov-8s

12/09- Friday
PM- ~7 miles in 53 minutes at The Dump with Adam and Luna, about mid-way through the stone bruise made its presence known

12/10- Saturday
AM- ~13 miles in ~2:40 with plenty of elevation (~3500 ft?) in Monteat.  Exhausting, stone bruise quite tender by the end.  Great running with some WNC Trailrunner folks.
Check out Lindsey and Tim's video and blogpost here!

12/11- Sunday
Day of relaxation with a heavy dose of inspiration watching Unbreakable at Fleet Feet Winston-Salem.

~31.75 miles, ~5 hours 15 minutes

Monday, December 5, 2011

Art Loeb Trail Adventure Run

Watch the video footage and view photos from the run!

       Like a kid on Christmas Eve, I was, on Friday night; restlessly resting my body as my mind was running way ahead.  Next thing I knew it was 4:00 AM and I was eating breakfast and putting myself in my Saturday morning's finest: running tights, shoes, and something to keep the ears warm.

       Only six days prior the plan had come into being(thanks Asheville Brewing Company!), and here we were at the Davidson River Campground poised for a 6:00 AM start on what would prove to be a day-long run of the 30+ mile 9000+ elevation gain route that is the Art Loeb Trail.  Hayley, Damien, Lindsey, Tim, Rob, a couple of dogs, Kirra and Luna, and myself took off at 6:00 on the dot.  Melissa gave us encouraging beeps of the horn as she drove away from Pisgah National Forest after dropping us off.

      We followed closely the glow of our headlamps as we wound our way up the initial climbs and descents while taking the time to glance down at the lights of the buildings and cars that looked like reflections of the stars that shined so pretty and bright that night...  Then it was daytime...

      The warmth of the sun came and went as we wrapped around from the east to the west of varying peaks and bobbed along ridges.  During the first 18 miles of the run we would be knocking out the vast majority of the climbing for the day.  After the burly climb up Pilot Mountain, which resulted in a beautiful view allowing us to really relish in the fantastic weather we'd been blessed with, and the ascent to the parkway we were ready to rest a bit.

      Rob and I had biked in on the Blue Ridge Parkway the day prior and dropped off a few gallons of water and some snacks, which we graciously indulged in upon arrival.  After a 20 minute or so break we took off again, legs and bodies feeling mostly rejuvenated.  A short and steep ~500 ft climb immediately following the break humbled us immediately.  Fortunately the flat stretches that followed enabled us to stretch out the legs and find a rhythm for a while.

     The ascent up the balds (Black Balsam and Tenant Mountain among them) led to awe-inspiring views.  After a brief stint of bushwacking after taking the wrong trail out of a confusing intersection I found myself mentally and physically drained.  Hopping down the wildly technical trail from rock to rock wore heavily on my feet, which were scarcely protected by the minimalist Nike Zoom Streak XCs I'd elected to wear, and I felt an inkling of a stone bruise beginning to form on my right forefoot.  I continued pushing forward with Rob for a couple or three miles through an overpowering desire to curl up and take a nap (we'd been on our feet for over 6 and a half hours at this point).

     Rob was moving strong despite having legs decorated with cuts from the bushwacking excursion and it was in his best interest to move ahead of me while his energy was still at a high.

    The next 5 or 6 miles were grueling and technical, most notably the stretch through the Narrows.  At last I arrived to Deep Gap along the side of Cold Mountain.  From here I knew it was about 3.5 miles downhill to the terminus and surely I could run it strong(I had been looking forward to it for hours).  But, alas, a combination of 8 hours of hard work and continual pounding of the stonebruise I'd worked up made managing even 12 minute miles a daunting task.

     Slowly but surely, I made it down the exquisitely beautiful trail, which was consistently cut by chattering streams and wonderful waterfalls, to arrive at the Daniel Boone Boy Scout Camp in a time of 8 hours and 45ish minutes.  Rob and Luna had been there for about 15 minutes and, within an hour or so, the rest of the crew arrived and we enjoyed some Cold Mountain Winter Ale from Highland Brewing Company at the base of the namesake mountain.

      Some things I learned on this endeavor:
       1) Last minute adventure runs are a good idea
       2) There is nothing that helps recovery from a long day like good food and laughter with a group of great friends
       3) Luna is a more incredible runner than I will ever be
       4) Wearing racing flats on a mountainous ultramarathon does not serve my feet well in the long run(no pun intended)