Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Mountain Training

Every year we spend a week up in the North Carolina mountains at my in-law's cabin.  They have a place outside of Murphy, NC.  It is pretty secluded.  Murphy is pretty much a half hour beyond the middle of no where to begin with.  Then you go 10 miles outside of town, and turn onto this winding secondary road.  You take that back for about a mile and then turn onto this one lane dirt road.  You take this old logging road about a 1/4 mile back.  The cabin is nestled into the side of the mountain overlooking a meadow and a creek.  Like I said, secluded, but I guess that is the point.
View from the Porch
The downside is that the running up there pretty much stinks.  All the roads around there are super twisty, hilly, and annoying.  You have to drive 20 minutes to get to some trails or anything relatively flat. I usually end up running on the side of Highway 64/74, which is 4 lanes and 55mph.  Not a lot of fun.

The only upside is that last year they opened a "fitness center" with an outdoor pool.  This is the only outdoor pool that I have ever trained in.  I do kinda like it. I get there right when the open at 6am (why so late??).  I usually have the place to myself, and start swimming in the dark.  I have to hit the light on my Garmin to check it.
Outdoor Pool Time
This year, however, they had the Geriatric Masters group.  At least that's what I think they are called.  They took up the 4 roped off lanes.  So I was in those "open" lanes.  People would just jump in beside me, in front of me, and behind me.  Luckily all my open water swim training kept me on track.  Anyways, I cranked out my usual 4K yardage and headed out.
Murphy Riverwalk Trail Map
I then went for a short 5 mile run.  I decided to run downtown because of the aforementioned reasons, and I wanted to check our their Riverwalk trail.  The trail is nice, albeit kinda short.  It's about 2 miles long, so I did a little out and back and then ran through town.
The Famous Chattanooga Choo-Choo Hotel
Wednesday was fun, as I snuck away from everyone and made the jaunt over to Chattanooga.  It's only an hour and a half drive from the cabin, which is really nice.  I headed out early and parked at the Bi-Lo at the corner of Tennessee and 40th street.  This is about 3 miles into the course, so I got quite a bit of it in.  I decided to do a little steady state ride and cranked a 221 watt average for the 60 miles.  I remembered almost all of the course from May except for the turn after you go through Chickamauga.  I stopped to check the GPS on my phone, but I didn't miss the turn, just hadn't gotten there yet.
IM Chatt Bike Course
I finished about 10:30 and headed to Cycle Sports Concepts over on Main St. to get butt creme.  Can't live without that.  I used my last bit of Ruby's Lube for the ride.  I tried to get some Bonk Breaker bars, but they didn't carry them.  In fact the guy had never heard of them.  Seriously?  Never heard of Bonk Breaker?  So after I enlightened him, I headed downtown and parked at Ross's Landing.  That's the location of transition for IM Chattanooga and then obviously the run start.  I ate some food I brought with, paid for parking and headed out around 11:30.
IM Chatt Run Course
I felt really good the first 6-7 miles.  When I hit the end of the Rivewalk, I turned on Riverport Road and ran the actual course.  Back in May we just turned around there and came back on the Riverwalk.  This time I came back on Amnicola Highway and Riverfront Parkway.  That stretch is nice.  Flat, paved, but no shade whatsoever.  I got a little overcooked that segment and didn't feel to great for the hills over on the Northshore.
Swim Exit into Ross's Landing Park
That Barton Avenue hill is a real son of a gun. 100 feet of gain in 0.4 miles just past Veterans bridge at course mile markers 8.5 and 21.5.  Then you have 115 feet of gain over 0.6 miles coming back at miles 11 and 24 of the course.  The upside is when you get to the top of it at 24 miles, its all (relatively) downhill from there.
Walnut Pedestrian Bridge
So Friday I went on the Long Run.  A 21 miler of nothing but hills on the highway.  It started out rainy and I waited a few minutes for it to get lighter.  The first few miles were a little slow, I'll blame the hills, but mid way through I really hit a good rhythm.  I  felt really good, and ended up cranking some good splits the last 9 miles.  I was pretty happy to finish up with a 7:01 average per mile.  I was pretty sore the next couple of days, however.
Saturday we came home and I could get some "normal" workouts in.  I did an interval ride and then a tempo brick run off of that in the afternoon.  Sunday, I got a nice 108 mile ride in and then an easy run in the afternoon.  All in all, it was one of my best training weeks in the mountains.  I do wish I would have gotten another swim in. But since I pretty much nailed the rest of my workouts, I really can't complain.
Alpine Helen, GA: our Favorite Tourist Trap
So I bid Murphy adieu for another year.  As of now Chattanooga is 6 weeks from Sunday.  Yikes.