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Some weekend trips just work out perfectly. Sometimes you expect tough climbs or bad weather, or that you'll have to sleep in a cold car the night before you get on the trail. And sometimes you get a bed & breakfast and a beautiful sunset on a stunning bald. My friend Sherry and I explored the Appalachian Trail from Carver's Gap to 19E over Easter weekend, and it was one beautiful adventure!
It's hiking season! I'm super excited about tackling another section of the Appalachian Trail this weekend with another friend and I'm still head over heels with the last trip with Emily. To celebrate I caught up with Emily and got her thoughts on her first backpacking trip and what she learned as a newbie.
We had a few days off work on March 16 and 17 (rumor has it we got those days off because of the start of the NCAA tournament), so with the extra free time my friend Emily and I headed off to the mountains to hike a section of the Appalachian Trail.This was Emily's first backpacking trip and the pressure was on me to make sure she 1) didn't die, and 2) had a good time. (Spoiler: I delivered on #1, and hopefully on #2!)
For hike #5 of my 52 Hike Challenge I was hoping for a nice, easy, local trail. I had just run 11 miles the day before and I had an indoor soccer game Sunday afternoon, so I wanted something easy to enjoy with Ryder and McCrae. I did my usual scouring of the internet, books, and Google maps, and I found New Hope Bottomlands Trail in Durham. New Hope Bottomlands Trail is tucked away: it's 2.2 miles in a lollipop loop through a floodplain with some views of New Hope Creek.
It's a bit of a drive out to the land of pine and sandhills and brackish water where the Pamlico River meets the ocean, but it was a beautiful day for a hike under the loblollies while buzzards flew above the treetops, the sun rimming their broad wings with tips of gold. We'd driven to Washington, NC - just a couple miles outside historic Bath, NC - to explore Goose Creek State Park, a swampy park with boardwalks, Spanish moss, and scrub pines.
On Saturday I had some spare time and energy after a cut-back long run, so I headed to Fuquay-Varina to explore Carroll Howard Johnson Environmental Education Park and knock out hike #3 of my 52 Hike Challenge. What a strange little park. The parking lot circles around a wide green space with restrooms and an amphitheatre near a sign showing the various trails throughout the park. I took a glance at the map, noted the small trails that looped together - one loop, and then the next, and then another like a chain - and decided to check out all 1.7 miles of trail that I could.
The last time we went to Rougemont we were going to see a house, and on the way we ended up stuck behind, well, a house. A massive truck was moving this massive house down this tiny country road - a country farmhouse with whitewash peeling off the side boards, scraping past oaks whose branches creeped over the road's narrow shoulder. We managed to avoid any Rougemont houses this past weekend, making our way to Little River Regional Park & Natural Area, a cooperative conservation park funded by Durham and Orange counties.
Raven Rock on a winter morning with the clouds so thick you can't find the sun is a monochrome monolith. The rock wall rises from the Cape Fear River and looms over the lazy waterway like Polyphemus gazing slothfully over his sheep while Odysseus and his crew scramble in the shadows. McCrae and I met up with my dear friend Becky and we explored the rocky trail for a morning.
I love a good challenge. Last October I participated in a "Write 31 Days" challenge, but that wasn't painful enough so I added a 31 day running challenge on top of it. I might have been a couple posts short of 31 with the writing challenge, but I nailed the running challenge! It's been a couple months though and it's a fresh new year, so I think it's time for another challenge.
What's in a word? Or rather, what's in a silence? Long, hard work at a day job, and long, physical work in Johnston County forced my silence for the past week. I've never been one to plan blog posts more than a couple days in advance, so with a sudden onslaught of extra responsibilities and the sudden lack of time (an hour commute each way and extra work killed all my blogging and running time) meant radio silence. On Saturday though, stuck in Johnston County, I took the chance to explore somewhere new for a little stroll.
"I hate this course." "Why do I do this to myself?" "I'm never running this race again!"We say this every year, and yet every year we run the Tar Heel 10 Miler. It's iconic for Chapel Hill fans who run. The course runs through campus and hits up highlights like Franklin Street, the Old Well, the bell tower, and the stadium. But as a fellow runner around mile 4 quipped, "Well they sure don't call it Chapel FLAT!"
It's always exciting to get a new medal, but where do you put it? For my first couple race medals I just draped them on the frame of a mirror, but a few more medals later and my poor mirror was sagging under the weight, so I just stuffed the medals into a bin. But a bin is a sad place for medals to gather dust and feel neglected, so I started looking for a medal rack. I wasn't thrilled with any of the commercial medal racks available. They were cute, but they just didn't fit me, so after a while I just decided to build my own race medal rack.
Well, it had to happen eventually. After a four race PR streak I finally broke my streak. It was bound to happen though. It's unreasonable to assume that I can run every race in my life faster than the last, and it might as well happen on my fifth half marathon.
It's here! It's here! Taper crazies, taper tantrums, (half) maranoia - all the insanity that comes with rest and nerves leading up to race weekend. The Rock 'n' Roll Raleigh half marathon is this weekend and I'm giving mile 7.5 to 8.7 a big ol' stink-eye for that ugly hill I'll have to run up. (And that's already the toughest section of a half marathon in my opinion, so I don't need any hill to make it worse!) Fine, fine, after a weekend on the Appalachian Trail I shouldn't complain about a measly ol' 163 feet elevation change. I shouldn't complain...but I still will. Bah! But since it's Friday I've got a few things on my radar to celebrate the weekend!
I am trying so hard to psych myself up for this race.The Rock'n'Roll Raleigh marathon and half marathon is coming up on Sunday, and I'm racing the half. Racing? Running? One of those. I'll be trying to race my time to see if I can somehow get it under 2 hours and 10 minutes, but at the same time I'm worried.
On Saturday in the middle of a 12 mile long run I suffered my first pure running injury. Sure, I've had aches and pains and black toenails and soreness before, but a true running injury? 15 years of running and it finally happened: I tripped on a sidewalk, went sprawling, and tore up my knee. Seven blood-soaked miles later I finally limped back to Fleet Feet at the end of my run.And while I might have had the misfortune of tearing up my knee on a run that morning, local kids had the good fortune of getting a nice big box of books donated for First Pages!
I'm not one to be too picky about most things, but sports bras? Y'all. If I'm going to sprint down a soccer field or run a half marathon or hike for days and live in my sports clothes then heck yeah I'm going to be picky about my sports bras. Read more for some tips on what to look for in a sports bra and my recommended sports bra.
It's time! Time I stopped procrastinating and actually signed up for my spring races, so that's exactly what I did this past week. My spring 2017 races are officially on the books: Rock'n'Roll Raleigh half marathon on April 2 and, for some inexplicable reason why I'm running this for a third time (ughhhhh!), the Tar Heel 10 Miler on April 22. This is my fifth half marathon and my third 10 miler and yes, it does seem crazy to run this much, but I'm excited about these races! Here are the top things I'm looking forward to!
10 miles can be an exhausting long run.I know this woman who has a son who, when he trains for a half marathon, goes all-out on every long run. He's young and full of energy and feels no fatigue throughout the training plan. For the rest of us though, we're not so lucky, and we have to train smart on the long run. While it can be tempting to run the weekly long run at race pace, it's actually smarter (especially for beginners) to take the long run at a nice, easy pace.
I am not a leggings kinda person. I'll wear them for climbing and yoga, and that's it. Even when it's horribly cold I'm the person who lounges around in shorts and goes running in shorts. It's partly because it's never quite that cold in North Carolina to necessitate getting really bundled up, and partly because it's just not that comfortable to me - they ride up awkwardly, they cling in places I want a little more room, and they chafe on long runs.So the other day when I was browsing gear at one of my local running stores I picked up a pair of leggings to try on - mostly out of a little self-Schadenfreude (but also because of their crazy rad print). And - shocking! - they fit in all the right places! I couldn't believe it!