Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Building Back

I've definitely been feeling better of late as the effects of the out-of-nowhere brachial plexus neuropathy continues receding and the body does its repair work. My muscle strength is slowly returning (such that it was) and my endurance is showing signs of revival.

The best runs of the last few weeks definitely were a pair of runs done in the Big Ivy area of Western North Carolina's Pisgah National Forest. There is a Forest Service road, located about four miles from my father-in-law's place (Pop-pop's Farm), that climbs from the valley bottom up through a dense forest to the Blue Ridge Parkway. The road is the perfect grade...steep enough to guarantee a very solid workout, but very runnable.  The two times I set foot on the road, I felt the best I've felt since late June.

Of the two runs there, the best was an early morning 12-mile jaunt with Rick M., who calls Asheville home.  It was great meeting Rick and spending a few hours together, telling stories, getting to know one-another and enjoying the shaded uphill climb we shared. All told we were out for just under 2 hours, ran 12.32 miles and climbed 2,280 feet by my watch.  Many thanks, Rick, for coming out!

Just inside the national forest boundary. Let the uphill running begin!
 While in Carolina, I got in another run just outside of Asheville on the Mountains to Sea Trail along the Blue Ridge Parkway. This gem of a trail was located just a couple of blocks from where JP was getting some bodywork done. Worked out perfectly...she get's adjusted and I get in ten miles and 1,100 feet of elevation gain.  (Thanks, Rick, for the recommendation and directions!)

Every farm needs a swing.
The view from the front porch toward the Big Ivy area where Rick and I ran. Note the rainbow.
Once back home, the greatest challenge to running has been the late-summer schedule. Between work, school starting and out-of-town guests, it's been hard to find the time to get out. Well, there's one other thing that's been messing with my (our) schedule.  This guy:

Even Cisco was digging North Carolina
One dog just wasn't enough. Enter Cisco, an Australian shepherd.  He joined our clan just before the trip to North Carolina (and went along with us, sleeping soundly in a carrying case beneath the middle seat on our Southwest Airlines flight). This is the first puppy I've had since college. I forgot how much work they are. Seems like a new baby was easier. Can't wait until the potty training is complete. It's only been a couple of weeks, but it feels like months. Must be the regular 6 a.m. wake up whines. Thankfully, he and Maya are getting along swell.

Maya and Cisco ride again!
On another front, I put together a "Beers of Colorado" barrel as my contribution to a silent auction at a recent Mountain Area Land Trust (MALT) event here in Evergreen. It was a lot of fun gathering a solid collection of bombers, six packs and more from breweries around the state. The collection netted something like $160 to support open space conservation in Jefferson, Clear Creek and Park Counties. It was a little hard to let all that great beer go, but it was for a great cause. Check out's a great organization doing great work here in the foothills and beyond.

The Beers of Colorado barrel.
I'm now focused on getting back into some consistency on the running front. Had a terrible run at Matthew Winters/Red Rocks/Hogback on Monday. Running in 85-degree heat at 10 a.m., with no water and not having eaten was a poor decision. I bonked like I haven't bonked in years. I was walking some short, steep climbs on the Hogback that I haven't had to walk before.  On Tuesday, I got out for 8.3 miles in JeffCo's Apex Open Space. It was hot again (90+ degrees), but I was fueled and had a bottle of water with me. Huge difference.

On another note, I sent in my formal notice to the Bear 100 folks that I was to be a DNS this year. Fortunately, they have a pretty generous refund policy - all but $25 to be returned, according to the Web site. I hope to have that race on my calendar again next year.

In the meantime, I am really feeling the need to get something on the calendar...something to motivate me to get out there on a MUCH more consistent basis. Time to start looking at the options...

Thanks for reading.


  1. Great stuff over there in Big Ivy - can't wait to get back again. Hey why wasn't that barrel of beer sitting on the deck of your cabin after our run? Good to see you Jim!
    Rick Merriman

  2. Glad to hear you are feeling better and getting back to some good runs. Great looking pup, too!

  3. Glad things are turning around. Can't wait to meet up for a run in the near future.

  4. Sorry about the DNS at Bear, but the body coming back around is such better news.

    One options is Imogene Pass Run. Folks are always dropping about this time so you could get in rather easily.

  5. Rick - yeah...too bad there weren't some beers to go with those massive tomatoes you picked up.

    CB/PG - many thanks. Eager to get in some late summer/fall runs. Need to get up into the high country soon. Thinking about a jaunt around the Eagles Nest Wilderness in the near future.

    Jamie - Probably won't be in racing shape until the fall. Still, Imogene is on the list as a must-do day.

  6. Sorry to hear you won't be running Bear. I was looking forward to following you. But it sounds like you made a good decision and I'm glad to hear you're starting to feel more like yourself. Cheers.

  7. Thanks, Steve. I too was looking forward to seeing how humbling a 100-mile race really is. Next year!

  8. Sweet news on many fronts. You're making me want to get a second dog!

    While not a "mountain" trail race, the Wildcat Mtn 5/10/20 race might be fun. I'll be doing at least the 10 mile option, maybe the 20. There's also a trail half marathon in mid-November that Dave Mackey simply crushed last year.