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.
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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.
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.
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.
For a couple months now I’ve been hopping on the mountain bike and riding over to Bent Creek and back in order to do a trail/gravel road ride. This is somewhat silly but at least the ration of paved miles to non-paved was about 2:1 or 3:1.
I was about to push that ration out to 10:1.
August blew in quite a bit differently than July blew out… although there was still rain in the forecast more days than not, and we did get showers, they were a lot shorter in duration and lessened in intensity. It was continuously gray and overcast, but for the first time in longer than I can remember we managed to score a pretty damned nice first weekend of August. It wouldn’t last, but for a few days things were more like a normal summer in the North Carolina mountains.
Except for the temperatures.
For some reason I want to think we got a break in the rain somewhere in July, but it can’t have been much. I know we never went more than a single day without some amount of precipitation so maybe the fourth week was a case where I just got lucky with a couple hours of breaks in the clouds a few days in a row.
Or maybe I just stopped thinking about it and accepted it as part of daily life.
Over the first couple weeks of living in East Asheville, I started to get the feel for my new surroundings, ride distances, traffic patterns optimal routes for riding and a little bit for running. In the last week of June I did more of the same. I had feared that I would really hate not being next to Bent Creek, but discovered that my fears were unfounded.
Tuesday morning.. time to head back to Asheville. Julienne had an earlier flight than I did, since we couldn’t fly in together we also didn’t manage to arrange to fly home together either. I had a few hours to kill before I needed to head to JFK, so I requested a late checkout and spent a hot steamy morning running the streets of Manhattan. Today’s destination was the Manhattan Bridge, where I could get some views of the Brooklyn Bridge, and a side of the island I hadn’t yet seen.
I ran down Broadway, past a number of parks, once again through Greenwich Village, and Little Italy/China Town. And once again I stopped for a lot of photos along the way. The total run was about 9 miles, a little further than I had originally planned, but I got back to the hotel in plenty of time to clean up, check out and head to Penn Station to catch my train outta town.
Similar to my trip to San Francisco a while back, for the first two days in New York, I had made arrangements to rent a hybrid bike to travel around the city. Julienne and I had arranged separate plans during the day and would meet up in the evenings to dine out with friends of hers from her childhood. In order to get to the shop where I’d pick up the bike, I decided to run there, rather than take subway or other transportation. I wanted to do a loop run through Central Park, and the bike shop was nearby, so it made sense. I’d keep the bike two days, and then return it by riding it to the shop and then running back to the hotel.
I left from the hotel, and headed up Broadway, right through the heart of Times Square, before proceeding into “the Park” for a loop. All told I ran about nine miles by the time I reached the bike shop. The goal of the run was as much for sightseeing as it was for exercise, and as you might expect, I took a lot of photos along the way.