Running the Mountains with Bigfoot

Don’t worry, I’m not going off the deep end.  Or am I?  I ran with my brother Brian, (aka Bigfoot) last weekend, trying to keep up with him in for a mountainous long run.  His usual run is an 11 mile loop covering the three peaks of the Sauratown Mountains in Hanging Rock State Park.  We only ran the first two peaks, skipping the tallest, Moore’s Knob for a total of 7 miles and around 1,200 feet of elevation gain.  We started from the Hanging Rock parking lot, by the visitor’s center around 9 in the morning.  Our car was the only one in the lot and it was around 30 degrees out when we started.

Quite the climb.
Theoretically, Brian and I should be running around the same pace.  The last two 5k’s we have run, we were within seconds of each other and our fastest half marathons times are within a minute of each other.  However, when you run with Bigfoot in his own territory, be prepared to be humbled.  I tried to keep up with him at first, but found myself gasping for breath within the first quarter mile.  I pulled back and just tried to keep him in sight.  When I hit the rock steps leading up to Hanging Rock I gave up on that also.  I alternated between walking and running.  I reached the top well after Brian.  He had found a nice spot to sit and enjoy the view.  We talked for a little, enjoying the cold clear mountain air, looking at the next mountain.  Are you sure you want to do Cook’s Wall?  We could just go get breakfast.  Tempting, but no, let’s do it.

View from Hanging Rock to Cooke's Wall.

My brother Brian at Hanging Rock.
We backtracked to the Wolf Rock trail, which was significantly less rocky.  Brian slowed down a little for me because he didn't want to wait in the cold.  He did still get ahead of me, since I walked a little again.  Those hills!  We reached the Wolf Rock Overlook, a good view, stopping for a few minutes.

Me at Wolf Rock
Then, on to the Cook’s Wall Trail, and House Rock.  On House Rock, we found a turkey vulture, flying in and landing on the next outcropping.  He hopped down into a crevasse and we walked over to check it out.  He had a girlfriend down there, and possibly a nest under the rock overhang.  Nice digs, for a carrion-eater.

House Rock
I think the male turkey vulture was trying to distract us from his lady and possibly the nest.  We couldn't see a nest, but there's room for one back there under the overhang.
We continued to Cooke’s Wall, an area that feels like it almost wants to be a bald, with scraggly rhododendron mixed with grasses and boulders.  I had never been there before, it may be the last piece of Hanging Rock State Park that I haven’t hiked or run.  It’s probably lovely when in full bloom, probably in June.

Brian running on Cooke's Wall trail
View from Cooke's Wall 
Cooke's Wall
More backtracking to the lake trail leading to the lake parking lot.  A nice rocky decline, not too steep but still very technical, turning into flat bottomland and wetland.  We came across a couple of park rangers working on the trail, passed by the lake and got back to the car on the Mountains to Sea Trail.
Basically, those mountains kicked my butt again.  One day, I’ll be able to run all the way up to the top.  One day.  Note to self: don’t race Bigfoot in his own territory.  There is a reason he calls Raleigh flat.

Hanging Rock Lake, pretty much the only flat area of the park.
Want to see the course?  Check out my Strava here.

It's going to be interesting to see how well Brian does at the Tarheel Ten Miler, after training by running 11 miles through the mountains each week.  I think he's going to kill it on that hill at the end.

In other news:
I haven't gone grocery shopping in over two weeks.  (Ian has picked up a few random things, mostly cereal, raisins and milk, his go-to meal.)  At this point, it's become sort of a challenge.  How long can I continue to make meals out of what's left?  Can we use up all this random stuff we buy and never seem to use?  Can we use up all the tuna in the freezer?  It makes for some interesting meals, like today's lunch:  2 fried eggs, frozen broccoli with parmesan cheese, and tortilla chips with peach salsa.  Ok, maybe it's not that odd, but I wouldn't normally eat that combination.

Jethro thinks lunch looks delicious.
I got to walk Roscoe with Bonita, my parents' adorable dog.  They were better than I though they were going to be.  I walked them with two leashes, Roscoe on the Ruffwear leash that straps around my waist and Bo on her leash, but I held both the leashes in my right hand, guiding them together.  They get along really well.  Roscoe wanted to be right next to me, but that meant he had to let Bo take the lead and be slightly in front.  We even walked by the dreaded horses, and he gave them a look, but didn't bark or lunge at all.  I think having Bo there helped with that.  It makes me wonder if we got a super chill friend for him, he would calm down.

Roscoe got to run loose at my parent's house.  He loves it.
The 5 mile tempo run on Wednesday went well, I gave a hard effort and my friend Rodney was right there with me the whole time.  The pace was actually a few seconds slower than my half marathon pace, but it was a hillier course.  I'm starting to look forward to the Tarheel Ten Miler, but I think I'm not 100% recovered yet from Mike to Mike.

I bought new shoes - Brooks Ravenna!  I tried on the Adidas Sequence again, but the fit felt so different from my trusty Brooks Adrenaline.  The Ravenna felt similar, but lighter.  I did a 3 mile run with them last night, they might be a little tight in the toe area like the latest Adrenalines.  Hey, Brooks, my toes need some room!  Those puppies like to move!  I have been thinking about trying a lighter stability shoe since I got my latest Adrenalines.  They were the second pair of 2015's for me, and I had let the cushioning on the first pair get really worn down.  Usually when I get a new pair, it feels like I'm running on comfy, cushioned clouds. This time, it just felt like there was so much STUFF between the foot and the road.  It felt awkward and I found myself wearing the older pair way longer than I usually do and wearing my racing flats for my speedwork.  Then I ran Mike to Mike in the racing flats, and it was awesome!  That was the final straw.  I'm going to slowly phase in the Ravennas, see if they work for me before I totally commit to them.


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