Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Mountain Mist Training

Well, Mountain Mist 50K is right around the corner. It is such an awesome race and holds very fond memories for me (and hopefully for my husband, Rick!). We started dating while training for our first Mountain Mist together, got engaged at the top of Rest Shelter Hill on a training run, and even named our dog, Monte, after the mountain it's run on (Monte Sano).
Training for my sixth Mountain Mist has not been ideal, but I am hoping it is enough to take me to a pretty good time for me (sub 6-hours). I have some marathons in recent months plus a 20-miler two weeks ago (though road runs, they are good for endurance), and I have done two trail runs in the last month. The first was the week before Christmas and was 15 miles. The second was last weekend, and it was 19.5 miles. They were both the second half of the course (look at the link above to see a course map and elevation profile). The second half is definitely the more challenging, with two pretty hard climbs when you are already well into the race. Since Rick is also training, I don't get a lot of time on the trails. So I have to make the most of it!
My training run this past weekend was just a lot of fun and good learning for me too. All runners are invited to the training runs held on the several Saturdays leading up to Mountain Mist (this year Christmas and New Year's Eve fell on Saturdays so there were less training runs. There were no "official" training runs on Christmas though I'm sure some still ran! Another run--the Recover From the Holidays 50K--was held on New Year's Eve and I believe replaced the training run that day). The runs are held at 7 a.m. and begin at the hikers' parking lot. I went up with my friend Julia, who is training for her second Mountain Mist. A huge group was gathered this time, a big difference from the dozen or so that came out the Saturday I came in December. I guess the weather was a little above freezing, and I thought it was interesting to instantly recognize the more seasoned trail runners waiting in the parking lot wearing their shorts (and not tights). We met up with our friend, Mike, who wanted a similar mileage for that day and also wanted the miles on the second half of the course. Somehow, the massive group got going without much notice and I ended up dead last. I followed along for a little while, and eventually we came to a stop about 5 miles into the run where we split from the other group to follow Mike's route. A fellow Fleet Feet Racing Team member, Eric Fritz, came along with Mike.
I like the training runs because you never know who you might end up running with. Single-track trails are very narrow and don't allow you to be side-to-side with anyone. But you can still carry on a conversation with the person in front or behind you without too much trouble. I figured I would run with Julia for most of the run, but I ended up being in the front of our little group with Eric most of the time. I had never run with him before, and he had the greatest stories to share and really helped pass the time. He told me how he broke 20 minutes in the Cotton Row 5K with Rick pushing him on, how he ran his first 100-miler (he has a good write-up on his blog), how he helped pace the 3:20 marathon group, and about pacing strategies for Mountain Mist (those I loved and will "reveal" in a later post). He runs the trails frequently and with some other awesome Fleet Feet Racing Teams members (Rob, Kathy, Eric C., and Dana to name a few). I loved how we stopped at one point to hunt for some stashed water jugs along the course (turns out it was not too clean and we opted not to drink it). The worst part of the run was near the base of McKay Hollow, where I landed funny and rolled my ankle on some rocks. I had never done that before. Later it swelled and, more than anything, shook my confidence a little. I also fell when my new shoe's laces got caught on a branch. The branch held my foot and I tumbled down (but it was a slow fall and I easily landed on my bottom).
I finished the trail run muddy and tired, two essential components of any good trail run! It was great running with good company and preparing for my favorite Huntsville race!

1 comment:

  1. That sounds like a great run, my friend, and I'm glad you are okay! I believe without a doubt you are going to have a sub 6 hour finish. I will be anxiously awaiting word from you afterward!