Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Mountains-to-Sea Trail - A tiny part of it

Last week, I went to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC, for an endurance ride. I often try to run the day before I ride in an event. Usually, I run the horse trails, but occasionally I'm at a venue that also has running trails nearby that I can take advantage of.

The Mountains-to-Sea trail is a long trail that stretches across the state of NC. It's amazing. I wish I could go hike/run the entire thing, but alas, with horses and dogs and work, I doubt I'll get to do it.

There is a section that runs close to the Biltmore Estate, so I arranged for my husband to take me to the Blue Ridge Parkway visitor's center east of the Estate and drop me off.

The weather was not very friendly. It was COLD, even though it was early May. About 45 degrees when I started out. It rained off and on while we drove and the clouds were threatening. Of course, I had no rain gear and no cold weather running gear.



This was the view just before starting out. Beautiful rainbow. I actually didn't get rained on until almost the end of my run.

I did manage to grab my capris, so my legs weren't totally freezing. I only ended up with one arm warmer so I used a pair of my husband's socks. My arm warmers are just men's socks anyway, but they're more like dress socks instead of Hanes work socks! But, hey, better than freezing.



Me all ready to go running. I look like I have casts on my arms!! Seriously, not a good look.



The sign just after starting the trail.



This part of the trail is very well maintained. The footing was awesome and where it wasn't, trail workers have shored it up to a very nice trail. Makes me want to keep running.





The pictures above I took off a bridge high above a highway. I haven't even looked up which highway. The bridge was on the Blue Ridge Parkway, which I crossed several times during my run. I am petrified of heights, but I was mesmerized by the amazing view at the time. Since then, I have had nightmares about that bridge and how high up it was. But I'm glad I got these shots.



An amusing sign I passed. It's a trail closure, but it has horses on it twice. Guess they wanted to be good and sure no horses were welcome on that trail! No, I didn't go down it. :)



One of the exits out of the trail to cross a bridge on the Blue Ridge Parkway.



A couple of times, I had to jog along the side of the road for a couple hundred feet. Not bad, though.

Leading up to this trip, I had some very long stressful days at work. I originally planned to run just 6 miles for this outing, but when I got to the end of my run, I was still stressing over things back home and I didn't want to let go of the run. So I kept running, admiring the trail, the woods, the sky, the views and communing with God. I ended up with 13.2 miles for the run. My average pace was pretty slow at 15:55/mile as I took plenty of time to walk if I wanted to and to take pictures, but by mile 9, I had finally burned the crazy off and felt mostly sane again.

I also had some really fun sprints along the way. I did my nutrition a little differently than I usually do on a long run as I hadn't planned to DO a long run. I only had 3 packets of Caramel Machiatto Gu with me. I downed one at 2 miles, 5 miles and 8 miles. I usually don't eat the entire pack at once, but did this time to avoid dealing with a partial pack. Seemed to work well, but I ran out of steam around mile 12 and had to push myself to keep jogging along instead of giving up and walking the entire time.

I highly recommend hiking/running the Mountains-to-Sea trail. At least the area around Asheville is very nice.