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The Blue Ridge Breakaway. An annual bicycle ride starting from the Lake Junaluska Conference and Visitor Center in western North Carolina. The event features four routes of varying distances. As the name suggests, the ride is held in the Blue Ridge Mountains and historically the event’s 105 mile route, called the Hawk, features over 30 miles of riding along the peaks and valleys of the Blue Ridge Parkway. In past years the next shortest route, called the Trout, has been somewhere around 60-65 miles (a metric century), and has not gone up along the Parkway itself. There are also 50 and 25 miles options, called the Panther and Rabbit, respectively.
For a couple months leading up to the event, I had debated back and forth whether I was going to ride the Breakaway this year. I have done the ride in three of four previous years since it was started in 2010, missing 2012 for reasons I can’t recall. It’s a terrific event but as anyone who knows me can attest, I hate getting out of bed early on weekends to do organized rides (or unorganized ones for that matter). I prefer to sleep late and do things on my own schedule. Not only that I had just done 105 miles on a solo ride two weekends prior, including the climb up 215 to the Parkway, and wasn’t feeling the need to do it again. But then I got an email from Aaron West of steepclimbs.com, wondering if I would be riding and would I be interested in writing a story about the event for his blog. Aaron and I are acquainted with each other through a mutual friend, Scott Baker, a local Sylva rider I’ve known since my very first ride upon moving to Western NC. Unfortunately neither Aaron nor Scott were able to do the Breakaway this year due to injuries and fitness issues, so I told Aaron yes, I would indeed do the ride and would be happy to contribute an article in his absence. Aaron posted a pre-ride article here: 2014 Breakaway From Afar
After what started out as a terrific ride in Pisgah the previous weekend, but turned out to be an exercise (pun intended) in breathing misery, I called my doc first thing on Monday and made an appt. for mid-week. I explained my issues and was prescribed an Albuterol inhaler – which I’ve used before, and also a small supply of Singulair to try out. The following weekend, I proposed to Chris that we head out into Pisgah on what I assumed would be a roughly 5 hour loop. Unlike the previous weekend where we were seeking an optimized path thru Pisgah, I chose a route that is much more difficult, but sometimes necessary depending on where the mandatory PMBAR checkpoints are.
The route: Black Mtn. > Turkey Pen > Mullinax > Squirrel > S. Mills > Buckhorn > Clawhammer > Maxwell Cove > Black.
This spring has been a challenging one to say the least. After a less than stellar day at the Biltmore Marathon, I have struggled to get any kind of running regimen back. The numerous tendon aches and pains have continued, no matter how long I rest, or how little I run, or on what surface. Consequently, I shifted back to more riding, and began preparing for my third PMBAR, the 10+ hour adventure race in Pisgah National Forest that I have finished (barely) the past two years. I had a new teammate lined up for this year, my friend Christopher had asked me if I would ride with him. Just to make things interesting, I also decided to enter PRAR, a new event this year… just like PMBAR except on foot.. the Pisgah Running Adventure Race. An estimated 20-30 miles of running the mean Pisgah trails instead of riding them. The catch?
The two events are back-to-back, on consecutive days.
Last fall I ran the Citizen-Times Marathon in downtown Asheville. Despite a lack of training beyond 8-11 miles at a time, I had what could only be described as the “best day ever”, and crossed the finish line in under four hours… a goal I’ve had in the back of mind since before I ever ran my first marathon. Last weekend I ran the Biltmore Marathon, also here in Asheville. Unlike the previous race, I had what can only be described as “very far from the best day ever”. It wasn’t the worst day ever… not even close. Crossing the finish line, no matter how long it takes, can never be described as a worst day.
So how long did it take? Well… nearly an hour longer than C-T: 4:55:47.
Monday I rode over to Jus Running for the Monday evening group outing, as I’ve been doing pretty much every week since the beginning of October. It was quite a bit cooler than it has been, temp about 50 when we started out and six miles later it was down around 40. Also the first time after DST so we ran with lights and/or reflective clothing. Did our usual 6 miles and by the time we were done, my feet were killing me. I’ve been long past due to replace my now 4 years old Asics Kayano 15s. They’ve got nearly 450 miles on them. 300 is usually recommended and if possible I’ll push as far up to 400 as I can. 450 is way to far.
In case you’re wondering, yes, I do run more than 100 miles a year. The Kayano 15s are my road shoes and the majority of my running is done on trails. Also.. I bought two pairs at about teh same time back in 2009 and didn’t start wearing the second pair until a couple year ago.
Only one post in the past two months, but I’m still not ready to give up on the idea of keeping a “daily” activity journal. It’s interesting this used to be the first thing I did when I got home from a ride. Now I barely think about it more than once a month, and usually only after a big event. Then I play catchup with these summary posts, only to get tired of trying to remember what the hell I did, and writing about it weeks after it happened. Or I run out of time before needing to move on to other things like… sleeping. Or my job. You know, those annoying, trivial things that really screw up a good blog.
That and Facebook.
On more than one occasion, when discussing running events and goal times, I have said to someone, “I would like to try and break 4 hours in a marathon”. This was a somewhat silly thing to say, since not only had I never run a marathon before, I had no plans to sign up for one either. But then I did my first one last March and finished it in 4:28. Considering I ran that one with a camera and spent 10-15 minutes of the 28 standing around, I still thought 4 hours that was a pretty reasonable goal. Even if I did limp the last four miles to the finish line. I figured I’d need two things: 1) find a marathon with a flatter course than the ones in Asheville, and 2) somehow manage to get thru more rigorous training without any injuries. With the tendency towards Achilles Tendinitis (right foot) and Plantar Fasciitis (left/both feet), I was never really sure how far I could push said training and if 4 hours was possible.
Apparently, it’s possible. I don’t need a flatter course, and I can do it by training perfectly for a half marathon and then faking the other half.
Towards the end of August and into September I started a preview of the Citizen-Times Marathon route. I split it into three parts and did roughly one third on consecutive weekends.
But I’m going to skip those for now and put them all in one Marathon Prep post.
My buddy Jon had been hounding me for months. “Are you signed up for Save the Trails?” “Are you signed up for Save the Trails?” “Are you signed up for Save the Trails?” The answer each time was “No”. I didn’t do it last year, when most of my mountain biker friends were. And I really wasn’t that interested in doing it this year. Jon is the ride organizer for what is a worthy cause.. funds raised go towards supporting the trail system at DuPont State Recreational Forest, which I have mentioned numerous times over the years and which does indeed have an excellent trail system. But I still wasn’t that interested. Why?
DuPont makes me tired.
Started looking at the calendar and noticed that the Asheville (Citizen-Times) Marathon is coming up in just a few weeks. Although I’m not training up to the same distances for this marathon as I did for the one at Biltmore last March, I figured it’s time to start pushing up the mileage a bit.
I figure I’ll be really well prepared for a half marathon, and then I’ll just have to wing the rest of it.
A little over a year ago, I got a message from a “Facebook friend”. You know, the kind of Facebook friend you haven’t actually seen or talked to in 25 years, but are still connected to thru the modern day wonders of social networking websites. Now, there may be a lot of downsides and criticisms of social networking, and for all I know it will eventually be the downfall of the human race.
I kinda doubt it, and in this case it turned out to be a really cool thing.