Training for the 2010 Wasatch 100 MileTail Run
My observations from the trail:
One of the great things about trail running are the frequent, close encounters with nature.  Some are spectacular and awe inspiring, some are very painful and some scare the “hell” out of you.  Occasionally, they all strike at once!  

A couple of months ago during my first really long, 7 ½ hour run in preparation for the Wasatch 100, I had such an encounter.  I ran late in the afternoon so I could finish after dark.  (Running at night with a headlamp and flashlight takes a little practice).  I was doing hill repeats on my usual trail (the white trail) and it was past sunset.  As I reached the top of the first rock outcropping, (rock step) I noticed something about 20 feet down a very steep gully that just didn't look right.  I stopped and backed up to take a second look.  A doe was standing below looking back at me.  She stood there a few seconds and decided I was too close for comfort and disappeared.  Just a few weeks ago, again on the white trail climb, I was about 50 feet from the turnaround up top when a large shadow pass over me and stop.  I looked up and a large hawk had landed in a tree just a few feet above me and to the right.  I stopped and stood motionless.  It slowly turned its head and looked at me for about 30 seconds.  I guess it decided it didn't like the way I looked and flew off.  For the last several weeks there have been several turkey hens with a bunch of “chicks” (what ever you call baby turkeys) on the side of the road in the park.  I had never seen baby turkeys. 

Of course, with the good sometimes comes “the bad” and “the ugly.”  (Frequently, the bad and ugly go together).  If you run trails, you fall.  Most are minor and do little or no damage.  Some are a little more exciting.  Since I started trail running about 2006 I have a broken a rib, several sprained ankles and a fractured ankle.  Then there was the time I did a “face-plant”on a rock and had to get 24 stitches in my forehead.  I was 8 miles from my car so I had to call Marye Jo to pick me up at the north trail head.  She took me to the doctor to have my eyebrow reattached.  Fortunately, the ER physician was Marye Jo's cousin.  (I was definitely the ugly).  But there was good in it too.  It was two weeks before Halloween and I had a really good, ugly, “mask.” Ever since then, I try not to call her during a run, it scares her.

Saturday before last was my final “hell” run before starting my taper for the Wasatch 100 Trail Run in Utah. The race starts 18 days from today.  (It starts Friday at 5:00 am, September10, and I expect to finish Saturday afternoon.).  My plan for that final long training run was 6 hours of hill repeats on the White Trail followed by a couple of hours doing a loop that would get me back to the car in 8 hours total.  I started about 6:15 am and on the first climb I noticed quite a bit of thunder but there was no way to tell where it was or which way it was going.  As I started up for the second climb I could tell it was closer but still seemed a safe distance away.  The
climb I do for hill repeats goes up the west face of Double Oak Mountain (at the north end of Oak Mountain State Park) for about half a mile where it reaches the ridgeline. The trail then continues up a series of steep rock steps following the crest of the ridge for about  another third of a mile to my turnaround point.  The entire climb gains about 600 feet in 7/8th of a mile.  The thunder was even closer and I was beginning to see flashes from the lightning as I reach the ridge crest.  I was hoping it would miss the park altogether by then it was extremely dark and very calm.  I climbed to the top of the first  rock step when suddenly there was a blinding flash followed by a pop then a very loud bang.  I did not actually see the lightning bolt but it was really close.  I did set a new record for descending off the ridge!

I decided to change over to the Yellow trail which stays of the high ridges and and is mostly sheltered deep in the trees.  It continued to pour and the trail was becoming a small creek, but that makes it fun.  It was still very dark as I circled the “Old Lake” at Oak  Mountain.  This is a beautiful lake set down in a valley a couple of hundred feet below the lower ridges surrounding it.  The dam is in a deep, narrow and very steep gorge.  The trail follows the lake to the dam then drops down to the creek below the spillway.  The trail down to the creek below the dam is literally cut out of the almost vertical walls of the gorge.  It was a little scary running down the jagged rock trail below the dam.  The wet rocks were slippery and a misstep could send you to the creek about 50 ft below.  It was also very dark and got even darker descending to the bottom.  (I guess I could have walked down)  I was somewhat relieved to reach the flat section that followed the creek for about ½ a mile although it was very hard to see.  The trail is covered by large, dark roots and you really have to watch you step. It was then that I noticed something move off the trail as I passed over.  I stopped and looked back but at first saw nothing but roots.  Then I noticed that one of the roots had a head.  I had just come within inches of stepping on a 4 ft water moccasin.  It did not look happy!  I apologized and promised I would not bother it again and headed  on down the trail.  I really slowed down for the next ½ mile though.  There were dark roots all over the trail as it followed the creek.   Did I mention that it was very dark.  I wanted to be sure there were no more roots with heads and forked tongues on the trail. 

I was really glad to reach a small hill where the trail climbed away form the creek.  The rain continued to fall for almost 4 hours.  I ran an uneventful full 20 mile loop of the park, picking up the mountain bike trail at the south end and following it back to the North end.  I then finished with hill repeats at the end of the run.  I did manage 8 hours 22 minutes in all.   I had expected a miserably hot run but it stayed overcast and very damp and the temperature stayed far below the forecast 97 deg.  For my first taper workout this last Saturday I decided to ride my bike.  It was nice to sit down for a 5 hour workout.  

All of December
Tuesday and Thursday runs Spain Park (SP)
3 to 4 hour runs on weekends

12/12/10Tuscaloosa 50K

All of January
Tuesday and Thursday runs Spain Park (SP)
3 to 4 hour runs on weekends

01/23/10 Mountain Mist 50K – Hardest 50K in Southeast

All of February
Tuesday and Thursday runs Spain Park (SP)
3 to 4 hour runs on weekends

02/27/10Mt. Cheaha 50K – Almost as hard

All of March
Tuesday and Thursday runs Spain Park (SP)
3 to 4 hour runs on weekends

3/11-3/20/10Ski Trip to Park City

04/06/10Two Laps Spain Park – Veterans Park
04/08/10Two Laps Spain Park – Veterans Park
4/9-4/11 Indy Car Race – Barber Motor-sports Pk
04/09/103 hr  6 hill reps white trail (Maggie's glen to top) then>orange>red>NTH

04/13/103 laps Spain Park – Veterans Park
04/15/103 laps Spain Park – Veterans Park
04/18/10Cheaha Challenge – Century Bike Ride – 100 miles
  Piedmont, Al, over Mt Cheaha to Adams Gap and back.

4/19 – 4/24/10Charleston, SC
04/23/103hr run   3 hr run, 1 hr with MJ and 2 hours hard – very hot.
04/25/104hr 07min       8 hill reps, Maggie's Glen to top

04/29/10    45min2 laps SP (Sick all week – no other runs)

05/02/103hr 07 min      6 hill reps - Maggie's Glen to top (12:30 to 13:45 each)
05/04/101hr 18min       3 laps Spain Park – Veterans Park
05/06/10      35minOak Mtn. -Swam 3 laps
    1hr 30 min       Ran up Peavine Falls Rd – back down green trail

05/09/104hr 16minOak Mtn- 8 hill reps, (-14min) >Orange trail>red>NTH
05/11/101hr 15min3 laps Spain Park – Veterans Park
05/13/101hr 16min3 laps Spain Park – Veterans Park

05/14/104 hrs ?     Oak Mtn- 8 hill reps,  >Orange trail>red>NTH
05/18/101hr 18min 3 laps Spain Park – Veterans Park
05/20/10     40 minOak Mtn Park-Swam 4 laps
    1hr 30minRan up Peavine Falls Rd – back down green trail

05/22/105hr 21min10 hill reps on the white trail at Oak Mtn.
05/26/10     55 minSwam 6 laps – Oak Mtn.
    1hr 44minAfter swim >Peavine falls>white>red>green-down.

05/29/105hr 24 min       Trail Run at Oak Mtn, Hill reps and loop of park.
05/30/105hr 08minOak Mtn Park-4 hill reps, lap of park

06/02/101 hr 15minThree laps at Spain Park – Very Hot – 95deg
06/05/10?      10 hill reps on the white trail at Oak Mtn. Finish after Dark

06/08/102 laps SP
06/10/10 1 hr Swim – open water – Oak Mtn
06/12/101 hr 18minBuster Britton Triathlon – Oak Mtn.
         30minHill run before awards for Buster Britton Tri
     3hr 2 minTrail Run at Oak Mtn, w / final 5 miles on very hot pavement

06/15/101hr 18min3 laps Spain Park – Veterans Park
06/17/10    55 minOpen Water Swam – Oak Mtn.
    1hr 25minTrail Run at Oak Mtn,

06/19/103 hr  Oak Mtn Park-Very bad run – Was supposed to be 6 hrs
06/24/10     59 minopen Water Swam – Oak Mtn.
    1 hr 04minRun up and down Peavine Falls Road
06/26/105hr 40min8 hill reps, Maggie's Glen to top Oak Mtn

06/28/10?      2 laps SP
07/01/101 hr Open Water Swam – Oak Mtn.
    1 hr 2 Hill reps on green trail – Oak Mtn

07/04/101hr 05minPeavine Falls Run
       3 hr      Trail Run at Oak Mtn, Bad run
07/06/10?     2 laps SP
07/08/101hr 05minOpen Water Swam – Oak Mtn.
07/11/107 hr 20min10 hill reps on the white trail at Oak Mtn.

07/14/10        2 laps SP – Very Hot
07/17/102hr 30 min       Oak Mtn Park
07/19/102 laps SP
07/21/101hr 6 min Open Water Swam – Oak Mtn.
07/22/102 laps SP

07/24/105 hr 55 minTrail Run at Oak Mtn, - Very Hot
7/25-7/30No runs or swim
07/31/105 hrsBike ride – Recovery

08/03/103 laps Spain Park – Veterans Park
08/05/101 hr 2 minOpen Water Swam – Oak Mtn.

08/07/106 hr 51 minOak Mtn Park trail run – 9 hill reps -  Back to Back
08/08/106 hr 45 minOak Mtn Park trail run – Back to Back

08/12/101 hr 5 min Open Water Swam – Oak Mtn.
08/14/108 hr 24minTrail Run at Oak Mtn, - Avoiding lightning

08/17/10       2 laps SP
08/19/101 hr 4 minOpen Water Swam – Oak Mtn.

08/21/105 hr 15 minBike ride –Oak Mtn – Taper workout

Rough training log form December 2009 through August 21, 2010