About a month before I started down the path of wrist pain and coronary procedures, I signed up for a first time event: the Fonta Flora (trail) Half Marathon. Rolling terrain on the trails of Lake James SP about an hour east of Asheville. 90% single track trail with a little bit of gravel and pavement. The event was sponsored by Fonta Flora Brewing in Morganton, NC, starting and finishing at their new farm/facility (currently under contstruction), with proceeds going to build more Fonta Flora Trail.
Craft beer and running trails? Woohoo!
In addition to the marathon at Biltmore, prior to the stent procedure I was also registered for the Assault On BlackRock, a 7 mile trail “run” with over 2700 feet of elevation gain, all of it in the first half of the race. I was told by my doctors not to do any “strenuous exercise” for at least 10 days.
This was on day 11.
One week after my stent procedure, I was back to my normal weekday evening ride/run/ride routine. I wouldn’t be starting the new Ornish program for another week, but I was already preparing to get ready for a new normal “diet” by experimenting with a vegetarian meals.
Well… except for cleaning up on what was already in the refrigerator.
About the same time I was getting back into some easy riding and running, I also started to research something called the Ornish Reversal Diet. This was one of the the cardiac rehab programs mentioned by the nutritionist who came to see me before being discharged from Mission Hospital after my stent procedure. I did some extensive online research, read some of the promotional materials, read some of the criticisms, and some of the high level scientific arguments behind it. Overall I was impressed, and decided I would call the program director to get more specifics about the program here in Asheville.
But before I could call him… he called me.
When I was discharged from the hospital following the heart cath and stent procedure, I was given a lot of instructions and prescribed a lot of medications. I was also told, in no uncertain terms, that I was not allowed to “run” (walk) the Asheville Marathon at Biltmore. Which really sucked, because my sister and a friend were coming to visit and to run. And because I would be missing the fifth consecutive event and blowing the streak I’d started in 2013, the inaugural year.
Secretly, I hoped I’d feel good enough to go against doctors orders.
Where the “Catchin’ Up” story left off, I had been out on a run at some point in late December or early January, and started to feel some pain in my left wrist and chest, just below armpit. At first I didn’t think much of it. It had been a bit of a stressful time at work, and that or other sources of stress can sometimes trigger a bit of chest pain in the armpit area around the ulnar nerve where I had previously had a lump of fatty tissue removed.
So for a few weeks I blew it off.
Been debating how far to go back in time to catch myself up on past events. In many respects, I should just let the past be in the past. On the other hand, the saying goes: “Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” This is one past I don’t want to repeat…
…again. Since I’ve now repeated it once.
Hello there! It’s been a while.
Over the past 3-4 years I have let this the Journal of Journeys slip into non-use. The last post, little more than an advertisement of a local marathon, was nearly two years ago, and only a smattering of journeys were documented in 2013 and 2014.
Recently, some significant health-related events in my life have taken me in new directions, yet also took me back many years. The “cycle” of life, so to speak?
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While out enjoying a couple of beers a weeks or so ago, my buddy Lorne mentioned he was going to up Boone to visit his daughter Ariel, who is a student at App State. Heading up Friday, heading back Saturday. Was gonna maybe do some riding up there. I got to thinking that I”ve wanted to do a Parkway ride from Asheville to Boone for a while, maybe as an out and back with an overnight somewhere up there. I’ve just never gotten around to committing to a two day trip. This gave me a perfect opportunity to do the ride one way, then catch a ride with Lorne back home. Also gave us a perfect excuse to sample beers from the two breweries in Boone, as well as Fonta Flora in Morganton on the way back to Asheville. Assuming I wanted to be in Boone by 2:00 pm, I worked my way backwards and decided I’d have to leave by 5:30 am. Since the sunrise was at a little after 7pm. I figured maybe I’d leave closer to 5am and get up to Craggy Gardens Visitor Center in time to get some photos.
Circumstances prevented that from happening, and the weather made it a moot point anyway.
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.