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I am still trying to catch up on sleep after this weekend. I always strive to be the type of person who gets up early in the morning and is bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready to tackle the world, but in reality I'm at my best energy levels sometime after 8pm and before 5am. I have a friend who is the same way and she calls us "morning owls" - fighting our natural circadian rhythms just to get a little more mileage into our days. So with that in mind, Saturday morning was an eeeeearly morning for me. I woke up at 5am and had to force myself out of bed, all groggy and groaning and rubbing crusty sleep from my eyes. I'd already woken up early the day before for a pre-work climbing session, so two early mornings in a row was hella hard. But the mountains were calling, and I had a date with a meet-up group.
This recent snow from the "bomb cyclone" or whatever cute name we're supposed to call it calls to mind the trip McCrae and I made to Bullhead Mountain a few weeks ago. It had snowed a few days before we drove up to a small town outside Boone to stay at a mountain cabin owned by McCrae's uncle and aunt, and in the morning when we pulled on our warmest hats and coats the drifts lay deep in the mountain shadows.
I was going through the backlog of hikes I planned on posting on the blog, and I was shocked to discover that I did this Durant Nature Preserve hike in September! I am seriously that behind on posts, and I'm also amazed at how quickly this fall has disappeared.I met my dad early one morning in September for a Sunday stroll in Durant Nature Preserve in north Raleigh. I'd seen signs for it off Capital Boulevard every time I went to to the WRAL soccer park complex, and finally curiosity got the best of me and I decided to check it out.
If you're thinking of hiking up Slickrock Creek Trail in the Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness, I have some advice for you: don't do it.
I'm pretty sure that hike was the most miserable hike of my life. I'm also pretty sure I'm going to have scars from that hike. The trail was completely overgrown with rhododendron and blackberries and briars and my legs looked like they were the loser in a fight with some barbed wire. My arms weren't much better and I think my feet will never forgive me for that day.
When was the last time I'd backpacked alone? And I mean really and truly alone - no Ryder pup, not even other hikers nearby. I was out there in the wilderness and I felt completely alone. I was acutely aware of every noise in the forest around me and I realized I was never this worried before about venturing into the wilderness. I wasn't sure if it was because everyone else's fears of the wilderness was seeping into me, or if it was because my general anxiety about the world was increasing, or if it was just that I was venturing into wilder and more remote places and, honestly, that's scary. But I had to take this leap of faith. I had to prove to myself that I could be alone in the wilderness and that it would be alright.
Awkward and anticlimatic. That's pretty much how that weekend went. Work hard, go someplace new on your own, try not to freak out about the new place or people or being on your own, and still things just play out really awkwardly anyways. Sounds about right for me. And so I ran away to the mountains where Ryder was a jerk and the sky was cloudy and obscured the meteor shower and my tripod lost its handle and I totally missed Shining Rock.
Some photography requires just the right setup, just the right lighting, just the right variables, just the right whatever, but that's not how I operate in the backcountry. I just want to watch, to identify some small moment and capture it forever.
Two minutes and thirty-seven seconds is hardly enough time for that.
It's Friday, Fri-yay! Who's got a long weekend ahead for July 4th? I'm taking off Monday to do some exploring, and yes I'll have my camera with me!
I've talked a bit about the Wake County parks project, but here's the run-down:
10 parks in Wake County. New websites and brochures. Lots of photos by yours truly. Yep, you've got the picture, and here are a few of my favorites so far!
It was the summer solstice and I was waiting for a group of cyclists to come down the American Tobacco Trail. I was hoping for a few photos of cyclists on the trail and had tentative plans to meet a group somewhere along the Wake County section, but with no firm confirmation and the sky darkening with clouds I found a scenic bridge and settled down to wait.
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!
Well, I have officially blown my running streak. The goal was to run a mile every day from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day, but something about the Holiday Mile did me in. The concept is simple: 1 mile, 4 cookies, 4 glasses of milk. You start the race by gobbling down a glass of milk and a cookie, and then you run a quarter mile. Stop, eat a cook and drink a glass of milk, run a quarter mile, repeat until the mile is done. The holiday mile will either make you or break you...and it definitely broke me!
Two miles. Uphill. In the snow. Both directions. Okay, so that was a more accurate description of my hike this weekend rather than my run, but it's pretty close. This weekend McCrae and I escaped to his aunt and uncle's mountain cabin outside Sparta, NC. We had an...adventurous...time getting up to the cabin via the Blue Ridge Parkway (which was closed) and private roads (which were gated and locked) and icy vertical drives (which apparently popped one of our tires), but we made it and we spent 4 days in the cabin together and didn't want to kill each other (#romancegoals) Of course, mountain cabin vacation or not I had a running streak to maintain! So I did an out-and-back down the private gravel road to the cabin.
Possibly the hardest blog post is the one that comes after a period of silence. Was it writer's block? I'd argue no because I still have been writing *something* but just not posting. I'm not the type of person who forces herself to write if I'm not ready, but usually just staring at a blank page with a pen in my hand is sufficient enough inspiration, although what I write about may not be exactly relevant. And so, derailed and uninspired, I have been struggling with guilt and inertia.
I have officially completed a full marathon event! Well, with a little help from my teammates. I met up with my NC Oiselle Volee teammates on Sunday morning for the City of Oaks marathon relay in Raleigh, with 26.2 miles split across four runners. We had five teams running so it was quite a crowd, with plenty of snacks and selfies.
On Saturday night as we drove to the next big exchange point after what was supposed to be a quick bite at Wendy's I sat in the back seat of the van with my legs kicked up and my Richmond half marathon blanket draped over my sore legs and watched brown-gold fields chase the sunset. Some fields were cotton - half-harvested or brow-beaten with white balls - the closest to snow that ever settles on those furrowed fields. Some fields contained soybeans - either thin from recent harvest or heavy with dry or moldy bean shells for crop rotation, already longing to burrow and return to the soil and elude the dull grey winter that in this Indian summer seemed impossibly far away. But the crops knew that winter is coming. Brown naked stalks of tobacco stood sentinel in some fields, though there were much fewer fields than there were twenty years ago or even ten years ago. As we drove east I looked behind us at the shrinking fields and watched the sky purple into twilight, a soft nostalgic smile curling at my lip corners. Tuna Run 200 this year was very different from last year - check out the full race report!
You don't really realize just how repetitive the motion of running is until you try doing something else. I had decided not to play soccer this summer or fall season because of a full schedule and the propensity of picking up odd injuries here and there but when I got the desperate text asking if I could please sub for a team that was going to be drastically short some placers I said yes, and on Thursday evening I pulled my soccer bag from the back of my closet and laced up the cleats.
At some point this weekend while working through the piles of periodicals that I've amassed throughout my house over the past year I got restless. "I might go on a run. Did I do my long run yesterday? Or was it the day before? I don't know, but I think I'll go on a run." And so, forgetting that I'd run seven miles on Saturday morning, on Sunday afternoon I went for a little run. And I kept going for six miles. I suppose when you get to the point that six or seven mile runs don't really feel much like long runs anymore then it might be time to consider the full marathon.
It's not often you see a world record broken. On Friday night the world record for the fastest denim mile run by a woman was smashed on the track of Meredith College as part of the Sir Walter Miler races. With an exciting line-up of denim runners, local running teams tackling the 4x400 relay, and a talented line-up of men's and women's elites, it was a great stage for world records and chasing the sub-4:00 mile time.
I'd always wanted to run the Bull Moon Ride and Run. It's a must-do local race that benefits Habitat for Humanity of Durham, a nonprofit I've volunteered and fundraised for previously, and for some reason the last few years I've been out of town or I've had some other conflict. So when Travis and Kristen and I decided to run the race this year, I was stoked. I was driving to downtown Durham when I realized this would be my first 5K race. I did things a little backwards starting with five half marathons, three 10-milers, a few 5-milers, an 8K and a 200-mile relay race. But I'd never raced a 5K, and it was electric in downtown Durham by the time I arrived at the start line.
Ugh. Summer. Sure, there are lots of things to love like extra daylight and beach trips, but 100 degree heat and 100% humidity? Nope. I do not love those things, and I especially don't love running in those conditions. So what do you do when it feels like your skin is about to melt off your body and sizzle onto the pavement, but you want to keep your running fitness? Try other workouts! Here are my 5 favorites.