May 30, 2011

1,200 Stairs and 27 Times 'Round the Park

Been a rough month for running, three weeks in Boston for work and a vacation down to Rutherfordton, NC have not been conducive to hitting the pavement.  Also dealing with a nagging tweak in my left shin from the three hilly 5ks I ran in 14 days.

The top 10 finish streak was broken in mid May with the Police Week 5k; I came in at 19:58 chip time, good enough for #26 out of 1,700 and 4th place in my age group (4th by the chip, 5th by the gun). But after that, it was all business travel and only managing 2-3 days of week of running. While in Boston, I was putting in boring 3-6 milers on the treadmill a weekday or so and hitting an 8-mile long run outdoors on the weekend.

Our trip to Rutherfordton led us to 93-degree North Carolina heat and SPF 10,000 sunscreen. After running a quick 3 miles on Thursday, Friday was a cross-training day of hiking around Chimney Rock with Jennie and the mutt.
Chimney Rock trails

Saw about 1,200 of these
Our morning started with climbing the 470 stairs from the parking lot to the top of Chimney Rock (2,280 foot elevation) to look out over Lake Lure and Hickory Nut Gorge. We continued on a 1.5 mile hike up the Skyline Trail to see the rock formations and vistas so scenic they were used in the filming of Last of the Mohicans. The trail gained about 200 feet of elevation, including many more stairs, and then we did it all again going down, including the previous 470 stairs to the parking lot. 

We then swung a .7 miles down on the Hickory Nut Falls Trail (yes, more stairs) and spent some time watching the waterfall tumble 404 feet. It rained a lot the previous few days, so the scene was pretty amazing. We were able to walk a mere feet from the waterfall spray and gaze up at the bluebird sky. After about 1,200 stairs, we were all ready for a beer back down in town, including the mutt.
Ritter and I hiking up a rock face on the Skyline Trail.
Looking back towards Chimney Rock and Lake Lure.
At the bottom of the 404-foot Hickory Nut Falls.

On Sunday, it was time to switch from hiking boots to running shoes. On a paved 1/3-mile loop at a local park, I clicked off a 9-mile run. Just 27 times around the loop; it had a rolling hill in the middle and a little tree cover at one end, I switched directions every nine laps. I was glad I carried two water bottles and a little Gatorade that morning, it was essential in the North Carolina heat. At one point, Jennie walked down with the dog, and I ran with him for a mile. The mutt kept up an easy 7:20 pace so I took him on my cool-down lap as well.