Sunday, August 23, 2015

Green Hills Loop

The one day I had available to do a long mountain run just happened to be Friday, the morning after Saunders and the day before the NH XC Festival. So I made the dumb decision just to do it. I wasn't too concerned about it affecting my performance at the XC meet, since my main reason for being there was just to count for my last All-Terrain Series Race. I'm pretty sure I had 2nd place wrapped up, so it was more of just going out and doing the race, rather than worrying about how I placed.

I had originally planned a different long run up in the Carter Range, but since the mountains were cloud-covered, I decided to do a Green Hills Loop. I've been running these small mountains, that are pretty much right in North Conway, for years, but I had never put them all together into one run. Local runner, John Lamneck, ran a 17-mile loop there a few weeks ago, so I decided that I would do something similar with modifications. He started at Cranmore and ran the loop clockwise. I started at Thompson Rd and ran the loop counter-clockwise. I took out one small section that he did and added in my own small addition. It came out to the exact same distance and elevation gain. I thought that was interesting. I think the direction I went in was probably a little more difficult, but I wouldn't know for sure without testing out the other direction. That's just going off what I know about the climbs from previous runs.

So I headed out from Thompson Rd in the absolute worst conditions. 100% humidity. 80 degrees. And my legs felt like lead after having finished Saunders only16 hours earlier. I thought it was supposed to pour rain all morning and kept waiting for it to hit me. No such luck on the entire run except for a light mist on the top of Black Cap. I started the run with the Pillar-to-Pond Trail, which is relatively flat. It made for a great warmup for the legs. And I sure did need it. I ran on Corridor 19 for a short section until turning onto the mountain bike trail that heads up into the Outer Limits which I ran all the way up to the col in between Rattlesnake and Middle Mountains, then made my way over to Middle Mountain. This was definitely the hardest part of the run since it has the steepest climbs with little respite for about 4 miles. I was sweating like crazy and found myself needing water more than I think I've ever needed it on a training run. Fortunately, my tired brain anticipated this, and I brought along water.

Once I got to the top of Middle Mountain, I had a nice descent to give the legs a break from all of the climbing before going back up to the top of Peaked Mountain, where I drank some water and ate this chia-kale thing I found at TJ Maxx. Ha ha. At this point, I was really beat, and I considered just heading back to the trailhead from here to make it a 10-mile run. But something told me to just push myself and keep going. The descent from Peaked was probably about 3/4 of mile, which was enough to rest the legs for the 3-mile climb (mostly) up to the top of Black Cap. I joined up the with Black Cap Connector Trail from the Peaked Mt Trail (via a very short connector trail) and started climbing. It's a more gradual climb, with a few descents every now and then, so my legs felt pretty good on this.

I made it up to the top of Black Cap that had nothing but a cloud for a view and finished off all of my water. I took a quick photo then kept going. I knew I had done most of the climbing for the run, so that was a relief.
Top of Black Cap. I look as tired as I felt.
From Black Cap, I ran a short distance down the Black Cap Trail to the trail over to Cranmore, bypassing Red Tail and Kettle Ridge Trails along the way. It was about 1.2 miles from the summit to the service road along the ridge. Nice, easy running. At the service road, I ran up to the summit of Cranmore and over to the Meister Hut. I was dying of thirst and hit up their water faucet. I chugged a ton before filling one bottle and moving on down the service road. This is a long 2 mile-ish run down the service road, but it's not super steep and makes for easy running. Just before the road ends, I took a left to hit my last climb of the day. And it is probably the worst climb. It's only about half a mile, but on tired legs, it really hurts. This isn't a marked trail, but it's been around for a long time and connects Cranmore to the Black Cap Connector Trail. The trail back to the trailhead gently descends with some small ups and downs first before it turns all downhill back to Thompson Rd. 17.2 miles total with 3,848ft of elevation gain in a moving time of 3:20:50. Tough run on really tired legs, but I was glad I did it. I needed that after all of the short mileage I had done during the week. It was my only hope to even get my mileage up to 50 total for the week, so I knew it had to be done. Of course, I could have just done that on the road, but I really wanted to run in the mountains. I knew I had doomed Saturday's race, as soon as I was done. I was beat to shit and could barely do anything else the rest of the day. I got done what needed to be done, but, man was I tired. It shouldn't have been any surprise, though, since I really didn't treat my body well in the last week. Saturday's bingefest, followed by no sleep, plus a race. I was doomed from the get-go. But whatever, I'll pull myself back together next week.

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