This past Thursday I ran 26 miles of mostly single track trails as my second to last long run for Chattooga.
I spend an hour the previous night fussing over what I should eat and drink for the run. Previously I survived on Gatorade, Gels, Sports Beans and Sharkies. So far I haven't had to empty my GI on the run so pretty much always after the run, my GI runs. So new strategy is required.
Plan for the day: breakfast of oatmeal, craisin, banana and almond nuts with coffee. Yeah, I eat a lot before running. Since it'll be two loops with stop at car in between, I planned to carry 2 quarter PBJ wedges and a Honey Stinger and one gel. The gel and Honey Stinger are backups in case the PBJ fails. The Camelbak was filled with 2L of half diluted Gatorage. For the first time ever I even packed toilet paper in the pack.
The first 4.3 miles took me through Graylyn, down N. Turkey Creek to the trailhead of Loblolly trail on bridle road. I kept it slow and intentionally walked a few steep hills for practice, so by Loblolly trailhead I was averaging 12 min/mile. Followed Loblolly for almost 3 miles, with lots up and down. Herr I power walked a lot steep sections and ran up some lesser hills. I tried to keep the HR under 150, so anytime I see the HR creeping past 153-155, I walk. I had set the Garmin to the normla 4-1 interval but I ignored it often especially on long flat and downhill sections where I ran through the walk breaks knowing I'll be walking soon on uphills.
At the Harris Ave. entrance parking lot I ate my first PBJ while walking across the parking lot. Company Mill trail starts with a long down hill section which I ran through, walked a few small but steep up hills then crossed the bridge at Crabtree Creek. Here I took a left and ran along the beautiful creek for almost a mile, then turned up hill to the long climb toward Reedy Creek Rd. Lots walking here and now my overall pace had slowed to about 12:40, so I figured I was doing just over 13 on the single tracks. I caught up and surprised a woman hiker at the trail head at Reedy Creek rd, and she commented I was such a quiet runner. I like to think I'm efficient, but the pine straw covered trail probably did more to mask my approach. I mentally added the numbers and realized I'll be a bit short of 13 if I kept going on Company Mill, so I took a detour spur toward the airport for a bit while eating the second PBJ, then came back and continued on Company Mill and soon surprised my fellow hiker again. It's mostly running here with trail descending toward Sycamore creek. Crossing the stone bridge on Graylyn, then hopping on Sycamore Loop trail took me back to the car, at 12.9 miles and 2:44 run time.
I had to sneak in a few pieces of Honey Stinger about a mile before the car since I was starting to feel hungry. Didn't want to be caught hungry on the second loop, I ate like a pig. One whole banana, 1/2 of PBJ, a few chips, a few sips of flat coke, and some more gulps of Gatorade and water. Refilling my Camelbak I discovered I only drank about half it, so one liter over 13 miles. I was a bit stuffed heading out. The stop took 9 minutes.
Running mostly downhill until the split in Sycamore Loop. I took a left and crossed Graylyn and down the other side. Mostly running here on downhill and I start to feel a stitch or cramp in my stomach. Must be all the food and coke. Had to walk here and there to let cramp settle. Around the beautiful Sycamore Loop was awesome, lots fast and flat sections with only one major climb. Then once I crossed Graylyn and hopped on Company Mill, the fun was over. Mostly going up, lots walks, I had discovered I couldn't run much uphill at all without breaching my self imposed HR limit. Once I crossed Reedy Creek Rd., it was all downhill for over a mile to Crabtree Creek and I was happy once again.
At the bridge over Crabtree Creek, I had a choice. Continue on Company Mill and circle back to the car then another 4.5 miles on Sycamore Trail and Pots Branch Trail, or cross the bridge toward Loblolly trail and finish on the bridle road. I decided on the latter. The one mile climb back to the Harrison Ave. parking was hard. Lots walk and my quads begin to scream at me. Finally on the top, I walked across the parking lot eating another 1/4 wedge of PBJ. Loblolly starts with almost a mile of flat and gentle downhill, perfect for making up some time. Then crossing Reedy Creek, it climbs, and climbs and climbs. More burning quads and walks and finally I hit Reedy Creek Road. My right quad starts to tingle, so I stop to stretch it a bit. Don't want it to blow up. The last 0.7 mile of Loblolly is a series of up and downs and I was getting fairly tired.
Finally hitting South Turkey Creek, and at 21.6 mile on my Garmin. I finally was able to relax and run brainlessly for awhile at 11min pace toward the bridges. It's getting hot now with sun bearing down, but at least here I'm in the shade. When I got to the bridge, I walked to finish my last PBJ, knowing I'll need the energy for the last 2.5 mile up North Turkey Creek. There is nothing fun about this section, with lots power walks and more burning quads. It was getting really hot and I constantly sipped from the Camelbak.
I got back to the Sycamore parking field and GPS showed 25.8. So I run around a bit and got 26. It took 5:46 to do the run.
Tired, but not completely wore out. I could have gone on a bit if need to. I stretched, drank the Endurox, ate more PBJ and an boiled egg.
Overall I ran 17.4 miles of single track and 8.6 miles of bridle road. Long, but I made it and not totally gone. Never hit any kind of wall so I managed my energy level well. The PBJ/Banana combination worked well with diluted Gatorade. The Camelbak required cinching the shoulder straps every mile or so, which got a bit annoying after awhile.
Chattooga will be harder. Still not sure how I'll handle those latter mile climbs.