Tuesday, December 3, 2013

All courses are NOT created equal.

Over the  l o n g  weekend, my family and I were able to spend a few days about an hour from home. 

Conveniently, one of our relatives lives within a few miles of a little trail network that just happens to be where there is an upcoming trail race. :)

So, without too much preparation
I laced up for a couple of back-to-back days of "potential course preview."

I spent the first day running for about an hour before sunset, wandering around and scaring some people who were on horseback.

There is some etiquette to be followed with horses, and I was on the equestrian/hiker section, so I tried to be polite and announce myself- swinging wide as to not spook the ponies. Without a map, I decided not to get more than 2 miles from the parking lot, so I did a few different out-and-backs to "scout" the trails.

Somehow I managed to roll my ankle, but not severely enough to hobble back to the car. Thank God. 

The second day offered me a lot more time (and light) to find the course I was really after.

Nice rocky crossing about 2-3 miles from where the race should start

Before taking off, I noticed a crew of people at the base of Mt. Pisgah who were dressed in running garb. I circled back and asked if they were having a good run, (they were running to the top and back down, about 1000ft in 1.5 miles up), then realized I recognized a few from a recent trail race.

As we chatted, one of the men generously offered me a copy of his maps to the trails at Pisgah, which I had meant to bring along- but had printer problems. I was very grateful and took one of each. 




Many of the trails had numbers marked on them which corresponded with the maps, some were unmarked. 

There's a nice bit of rolling trail, some very flat gravel road, and some other trails that are much more at the difficult end of the spectrum. Plenty of variety to suit any preference can be found. 




Looking at Mt. Pisgah from the South end.
(Unless I was totally disoriented, which is completely possible.)

Steeple chase anyone?

After I worked my way back towards the base of the peak- which really is just a big, big hill- I was rewarded with a nice woodsy tromp.

Trail shoes are advised, unless you like it thick and caked on. :)  

There are some sections which are very narrow, and the odd runner might have to choose between getting muddy or risk tangling with the blackberry thorns. 

And then the trail headed up the back of the mountain through a gorgeous section of forest, (lovely this time of year, but would be heavenly in the heat of summer).

 Looking backwards over what I just ran through. 


And reaching the top, there is an opening to a totally different landscape, and a connection to the main summit trail. 


The trails join at about halfway up to the peak of Mt. Pisgah, but my path headed down.

***
Gear notes: I brought my fuel belt with 20 oz of water, which was ample for a 50f day. Inside I carried some Honeystinger gels, a space blanket, my camera, and a whistle. I always pack my own toilet paper. :)

Course assessment: This is going to be one doozie of a race if I decide to do it. The terrain is easy in some spots and rough in others. My pace varied from 8:30 miles to 12:40. They run a 50K on this that would separate the men from the boys. haha. Ten miles was more than enough for me right now in the state I am in.
Should be a good one to run or watch!

Status report: My peroneal tendons are aggravated after these 2 runs. Given my history with them, I'm taking a few days off.  I might hit the pool tomorrow (calling it a pro-active choice to Pre-Hab my legs) instead of my new regular "trail Tuesday".

***
Do you like to preview a course before you race it?
I'm not big on surprises.. :) 
Did you race recently? I'd love to hear about it!


37 comments:

  1. What an absolutely beautiful place to run! Is it safe to run there alone? So different from our situation here in SA!

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    1. It's definitely always better with a partner, Karien (safer and more fun too)! I kept my husband's phone on me and was only about 4 miles from the park entrance (and him) at any one time, max. You bring up a good point about safety. I don't think our predatory animal wildlife is as common on this trail as in SA. The summit trail is very well traveled, but this course had a handful of hikers.

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  2. Beautiful trails! I would enjoy running there. I'm one that enjoys a new course during a race. Probably because I'm a slow back of the pack type runner. I missed all my recent races. First I was sick and then I cut my foot. My next race is at the end of January only.

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    1. :( I am so sorry about your foot, Johann. Also, I hope you are getting better from the cold. It's wise of you to wait until January. Rest up, friend! The trails will wait for you.

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  3. Those are lovely trails!

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  4. I am a huge advocate of course previews. I think it will pay off in spades for you, especially mentally. You are wise to accommodate those ornery peroneal tendons. : )

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    1. I hope you are right Marcia! I will pamper myself for now, very happy just to be running at all, still. Thanks for commenting :)

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  5. I love me some trails. :) I'm as likely to run a course blind as to preview it. There's something to be said for just going with the flow. That said, since I've been running with a "smarter runner/person who actually trains" running partner, I've spent more time on the courses I'll be running than I did in the past.

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    1. I think you are changing as a runner, Kate! Age group awards, desire to get faster.. watch out. I think you might surprise a few people (but not me!) :)

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  6. I always love this run, especially the big hill all the leaves on it. I love that portion because it's covered yet open and just feels like a runners paradise. Oddly, I've never seen a horse on those trails, although I've occasionally seen their prints.

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    1. The horse was actually closer to the arena- which was on day 1. I think I really bugged the rider too :(..
      One of these days we need to actually coordinate ourselves enough to go together!

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  7. Great trail pics! That pretty cool that you got to preview the race before hand. I've never had the chance to do that for a trail race, but I have for sections of a road race that came near my running routes. Smart thinking on the prehab!

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    1. Road races are a bit easier to get a preview for most of the time, good for you to do it! Thanks about the prehab- things are feeling a lot better on day 3. Sometimes it's hard to know what exactly is going on.

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  8. Bleah, I don't like the look of that mud - I am the daintiest trail runner, you know. Anyway, I like to run courses blind but with foreknowledge - to have the map/elevation info but not actually have run them before.

    I have peroneal tendon issues as well and find that pressing on the pressure points about an inch below the knee on the side and back of the leg - where the top of the tendon comes in - really helps. Also, calf foam-rolling and self-massaging. Good luck!

    (And as you know I'm running CIM on Sunday!)

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  9. Yes!! CIM is ready for you!!! I can't wait to see how it goes. Hope the weather cooperates 100%for you, lady. You should crush it! I only wish I was running it too this year.. I keep saying "next year"
    Thanks for the tip on the PT! Mine seems to be further down the leg, closer to the ankle and sometimes under the foot. Aren't we a pair? lol.

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  10. I'm glad I read this and got your positive spin on a varied terrain course. im racing a 20k Saturday and the forecast looks pretty intense! like the possibility of freezing rain! but hey, this is where the mental toughness kicks in!

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    1. Really excited to hear that you are racing, Adrienne! The weather here is very sketchy. I will have to see what it is in Houston, assuming that's the area your race will be. YOU have ALL the mental toughness it takes. ♥ Go BIG!

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  11. Wow! That would be a tough trail run. But those are some beautiful pictures and great trails!

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    1. Yes, Ma'am! I am glad to know what to expect though :)

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  12. What a gorgeous run! Do you run these trails alone? I would love to be able to do that in L.A. but sadly it's not a good idea:( I am all for running a course ahead of time -- it really helps!

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    1. Under some circumstances I will run them alone, but as you know, it is much better to have a partner. This, though very forested/rugged is a "pocket of wild" very near civilization. I should post on trail safety, but one thing I do is check in before leaving so my hubby knows my general whereabouts and estimated time of return. Thanks for saying Hi, R!

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  13. First off- AMEN to the title of this post! You never cease to amaze me with the steady stream of "Rave Run" photos. Seriously.

    I don't get to run a course ahead of time often but I do like when it's the second (or third) time I've raced one because I know what I'm getting into. Then I like to go back through old race reports!

    Hope you are feeling strong and recovered!

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    1. Thanks, Tia! I am feeling good :)
      If you ever get out here to OR, we will go take some rave run photos together!
      I like your old Race reports too- they are full of great details.

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  14. I always feel better when I can preview a course, but I don't get to very often. I find I feel more confident on courses where I've raced before (especially trails).

    Assuming that's NOT the Pisgah in North Carolina, since you said you were an hour from home.

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    1. No-- It's outside of Eugene :) But I discovered the NC Mt. Pisgah while I was looking for maps.
      Good to hear from you, Terzah! Hope you are well ♥!!

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  15. Wow. Those pictures are seriously incredible. That looks like so, so much fun!

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    1. I bet you would like it Cory! A little different than your trails.

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  16. Those trails do look awesome, though that one pic had a ton of mud. Those trails might be better in summer lol

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    1. It was a really pretty day for November/December, but yeah, I bet it will be nice when the mud dries out! Thanks for commenting, Nelly

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  17. What a wonderful place. Not appropriate for me, I would find a root all for me and the fall is assured....... Yes, Stefano is getting elder.

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    1. :) I am glad to hear from you, regardless! Thank you Stefano.

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  18. Gorgeous photos. Are these just taken on your phone? They're really good (...my run pics never seem nearly as awesome)!

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    1. Thanks Lindsay! I use a little Samsung camera now, a birthday gift from my dad. It's pretty small - perfect for running!

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  19. That looks like an amazing trail run! Some super narrow paths! I would get lost with a map, GPS and someone leading the way! My daughter and I ran her cross country championship route 4 days before she had to race it. It put her mind and mine at ease knowing what she was up against. I ran a 5K yesterday and I had run it once before, knowing the route make it a lot easier for me and I had an amazing race! Carri~A Running bee

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    1. Fantastic your daughter was able to pre-run her CC championships course! That is a huge help when it comes to race jitters. I hope she rocked it! Congrats to you on your 5k too! Looking forward to reading your race report, Carri.

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  20. Wow, that looks like an amazing place to run! Lovely photos!

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