Thursday, June 28, 2012


I've been thinking a lot about Doc Watson since he passed away a couple of weeks ago.  He was so great.  One of the things I've realized is that his music makes me truly proud to be born and raised in the south.  Somehow his innovative style of music is able to convey our culture, our people, and our land.

Sometimes I feel like I would rather be in a place like the Rockies or the North Cascades, which are certainly more grand than our smaller, older, denser Appalachian mountains.  And sometimes, I tend to see some of the negative things about the south, but I've come to realize every place has it's dirty secrets; you just have to be there long enough for them to present themselves.  In the end, I don't think I'd rather be anywhere else but the south.  Here are three good reasons.

Our Land
I grew up in East Tennessee and it seems to get more beautiful the more I go back.  The rolling green hills and the rivers are comforting.  A little to the south is the mountainous smokies and western North Carolina.  We just got back from Waynesville where the mountains are more layered and dramatic.   

We have beautiful mountain lakes, like Lake Burton, where we just spent a couple of nights at Will's little red cabin...

We have killer waterfalls, rivers, and wildflowers in deep wilderness like the Cohutta's in North Georgia (these pics from a trail run to Jack's River Falls earlier this year)...

Our Food
In my opinion, we have best food possibly in the world.  I love the pig...and we know how to cook the pig.  I love our vidalia's, our peanuts, our collards, and our rainbow trout.  I love cooking with butter.  And grits.  I love the recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation.  Our food is dripping with culture.  From cajun to cakes.  My mom makes THE best gumbo and pound cake.  Trust me, I've tried most of them out there.  A lot has been written about southern food lately.  And new southern restaurants are popping up all over the country.  Rightly so.  Most of the food is pretty simple, but the technique and ingredients are key.  Anyway, go make some fresh grilled trout, summer corn and collards for dinner.  Enjoy!

And of course,
Our Music (and our People)
Three from Doc...

Windy and Warm - One of my favorite instrumentals that highlights Docs style and ability

Sittin on Top of the World - Highlights Docs personality

The Lone Pilgrim - Just because

Friday, June 22, 2012

Spring Racing!

SweetH20 50k
It's been a great couple of months of running and racing.  Back in April, I went back to SweetH20 50k and came in second overall in 4:43.  It was another good southern race that was convenient to home.  Even though my time was only a few minutes faster than last year, the course was tougher since we were fortunate enough to make the creek (more like river) crossing this year and make the climb up the yellow river trail.  Videos Here. As usual the pack started out fast (low 6 minute per mile pace!) so I held back and ran along in about 10th for a few miles before making my way up.  Rumor on the trail was that there was a young gun looking to break the CR.  I was just hoping that wisdom could eventually overcome young speedy legs so that I could catch him.  So I focused on nutrition and even pacing and eventually passed him around mile 20 or so.  But I was still in second.  So I kept running.  UP and DOWN the gas lines.  And finally saw the the guy in first at the turn around.  He was around 10 minutes up on me with about 5 miles to go so I was pretty much out of luck for the win.  I had a great day though since I felt good the entire race.  After the race, I had a beer with the winner, Dave Eaton from Grand Rapids and we talked about trail racing around Michigan.  I visitied with the other local trail folks and then took off for the Sweetwater 420 fest with my family.  We through frisbee, listened to music, and drank beer for the rest of what turned out to be a near perfect day.  It turns out I did something right during the day because my recovery was awesome....very little soreness and I was back running within a couple of days.  I'll just have to repeat this recovery method often. 

TMSA 10k
Our local 10k to support our charter school happened a couple of weeks later.  As usual, I volunteered by putting out the course markings the night before the race.  Then on Saturday morning walked up to the start with my family.  I won for the third straight year and lowered the CR to just under 38 minutes. This race usually occurs shortly after an ultra so I just try to survive for the 6.2 miles....for fun of course!

Chattooga 50k
My friend Rob suggested we jump into the Chattooga 50k since the RD, Terri, opened up the race for Saturday as well as the typical Sunday to accommodate more interested runners.  Great idea.  So we emailed Terri and she said, come on!  Terri puts a few low-key ultras around South Carolina.  There is no charge, just a donation cup at the check-in table.  I've always heard good things about her races so this would be a good chance to experience one. 

Rob and I got up super early and drove to a campground near Mountain Rest, SC, just over the Georgia border.  After Terri gave some instructions we started the race with about 40 other runners.  I started in 5th and worked my way up to the lead after about 5 miles.  It was definately different being in the lead that early.  My plan for the race was to take it easy since I would be in Waynesville with my family the following week and wanted to repeat an awesome cycling loop that included some big elevation up to and over the Blue Ridge Parkway.  So once I had the lead, I put it in cruise control and ran along the rooty single track along the Chattooga river (very close to where deliverance was filmed.)  I had a blast just taking it easy.  There was a long 10 mile unsupported section that I didn't see anyone on that I had a blast on, just taking it easy.  Then came the turnaround at around mile 20.  I figured second place would be about 10 minutes or so back but to my surprise he was about a minute back with a female runner right behind him.  So I picked it up and hustled back through the unsupported return to the finish.  When I got to the finish there was no one there.  Just a tent.  And silence.  It was awesome!  I loved it.  I walked over to the picnic table where Terri's grandsons were heating up barbecue and beans for the runners.  I said HI and they said they were surprised to see me so soon and went over and wrote down my time.  I got in just under 5 hrs (4:58) with the second fastest time over the five year history of the race.  (Someone else actually ran faster the next day though.)  I was very happy with the outcome.  It was fun hanging out with the runners that came trickling in and sharing stories from the trail.  I REALLY loved this race and the course.  I want to come back next year and camp to get the full experience.  Anyone up for it?

Future Running Plans
I'm going to run the Wonderland Trail over three days in July!  Super psyched about this one.  Stay tuned for updates.

Future Blogging
I made a new blog on a different site Dirty Calves to post about the random adventures that go on in my personal life in addition to running.  I originally wanted to keep it separate from the running blog because a I've figured running people would only want to see running stuff.  Well, I've come to realize that there are folks out there doing this sort of thing much better than myself, both much faster than me as well as much better writing.  Here are some of my favorites-

So I'm going to try to post here about many other things that I'm also passionate about- being outside, adventure, music, food, photography, the environment, building, creating, friends, and family.  We'll see how that goes.