What I've Been Up To
The week after Ragnar, Amanda and I went up to Charlotte for Tuck Fest - a four-day music, outdoor sports, and lifestyle festival at the US National Whitewater Center (USNWC). This will be the subject of my next vlog, hopefully. This was the fourth year that we've attended Tuck Fest and it's grown a lot since our first trip. This year, the festival was expanded from three days to four and they moved the half-marathon up to Friday. That ended up being an awesome change because we drove up Thursday night and turned the trip into a long weekend.
I ran the half on Friday and was able to pull off the win, my third straight. I ran really well on the first lap of the course, building a nice cushion, so despite my utter collapse in the second half, I was able to hang on. After the race, we hung out and enjoyed some food, beer, and music.
The next day we returned to the festival and spent the day doing a bunch of different activities. First, Amanda rented a bike and got 7 or 8 miles in riding alongside as I ran. We moved on to the whitewater where we had quite the adventure, losing everyone in the boat except our guide when we went down the competition channel. I got some great footage of that on my GoPro. The fall, the swim, and the rescue. Hands down the best thing I've gotten on the GoPro.
We decided to chill out after that and did some flatwater kayaking and more eating and drinking. On the final day of the festival, I went over early to jump in the trail 5k, which seemed like a good idea at the time. I ended up grabbing second
The next weekend was the Draft, which meant three straight days at the office. It's a brutal weekend that doesn't lend itself well to any kind of running or training. It's also the start of the busy part of the offseason. Draft, rookie minicamp, OTAs, and then a minicamp all over a 6-8 week period from the end of April until the middle of June.
Over this month and a half span I've thrown in a bunch of Dirty Spokes races, including a 7 miler at Harbins Park, 5 miler at the University of North Georgia, and the Peach Jam 1/2 Marathon. I picked up the win in each of those races with my running steadily improving with each outing. The 1/2 wasn't the most amazing time I've ever run, but after a start that I worried was too fast, I ended up running really strong over the last 11 miles and taking a nice win with a really solid effort.
Here's the Strava info from the race...
Other than a bunch of local racing, we've also tried to make the most of our weekends with some cool day trips. We spent some time up in the North Georgia mountains scoping out waterfalls and some really cool rapids. We used some loyalty points to get a free one-night stay up in Chattanooga where we hit up all of our favorite spots.
Through Strava and Dirty Spokes races I was able to connect with a group of guys that live in my area and all train together. They graduated from Augusta State a few years ago and are all currently training for a 50k in the fall. I might not be an ultra runner, but it's been awesome getting a chance to run and train with people for a change. I've been jumping at any chance to catch up with these guys and get some good miles in.
Rad Run // Chattahoochee Hills
With the Dirty Kanza wrapping up awhile ago - and my close personal friend Ted King taking the win - I got curious about what gravel roads Georgia had to offer. I found a 20-mile gravel bike route called the Dirty Sheets down in the Serenbe/Chattahoochee Hills area and decided to see if I could find a way to adjust it to a 10-15 mile route that I could run and that Amanda could handle on her bike. I settled on a 10/12 mile route depending on one early right or left.
I started working on the route on a Sunday night and spent the rest of the week being irrationally excited about doing a run that would be 75 percent dirt/gravel. We woke up early on the next Saturday morning and made our way south of Atlanta to Cochran Mill Park in Palmetto, Georgia. The parking lot was steadily filling up with road and mountain bikers as we got ready. Due to the low traffic in the area, there is also a very popular 35ish mile road ride called the Silk Sheets in addition to the gravel route that I found. Cochran Mill Park also has a trail system great for mountain biking and trail running. I didn't check out any of those trails on this trip, but it's definitely a good excuse to go back.
Amanda and I set off on our route with an easy first mile on the road before turning onto the gravel. Things were going smoothly early on, so smoothly that Amanda decided we should go for the 12-mile option. She wasn't having a ton of fun on the rolling hills we encountered and we ended up retracing our steps and taking the 10-mile cut through. We still ended up running 12 because we waited too long to turn around, but that didn't really matter. After a short spell of difficulty, Amanda rallied and ended up having a blast the rest of the way.
Six-or-so miles into the run, we hit the pavement for a two-mile stretch that cut the route from 20 miles to 10/12. We saw five cars and a 25-person peloton of cyclists. It was pretty easy to see why this place is so popular among riders. After the two-miles of pavement, we hung a right and got back on the dirt for the final 3.5 miles of the run. The first mile of this section was the same as most of this run, a regular dirt road. With 2.,7 to go we came up to a yellow gate that marked the end of the road for motor vehicles. From here on out it was doubletrack with a few rutted out sections and some singletrack. The people from SORBA Atlanta warned us that this trail was in the worst condition of any in the park and they were planning on working on it in the future. It really wasn't that bad. Amanda actually enjoyed the last couple miles more than anything else.
We'll definitely be returning to Cochran Mill Park and the dirt roads in this area. I'd love to knock out the entire 20-mile route at some point. I don't know when that would be, but I think it would be a really cool long run to do. I'm also eyeing this loop for when I get my Cannondale Slate. If it comes in during the summer, this will be one of the first places I take it to ride.
After we wrapped up our 12-mile jaunt, we made our way to Serenbe which is a cool but kind of weird town made up of four hamlets - their words, not mine - with the goal of creating a sustainable community that is connected to nature. We visited two of the hamlets, grabbing lunch at a neat little cafe in one and King of Pops in the other. Serenbe also has an inn, horse stables, and an organic farm. It was a pretty interesting place to visit, but part of me felt like there was some bizzaro, the Village, Divergent, World's End, stuff going on. I realize this is ridiculous but there's a 30 percent chance everyone there was an alien robot or something.
What I've been into...
Dylan Bowman's Lost Coast FTK
I really like what Red Bull does in supporting their athlete's passion projects. A few years ago Red Bull did a video with Tim Johnson where rode up Mount Washington in the winter on a fat bike, which is insane. These adventure projects are really cool to see and it's always good to see what some of these top-tier athletes are like outside of a race day. The Lost Coast is particularly well done as it was produced, shot, and edited by the Ginger Runner Ethan Newberry. If you have never seen his YouTube channel, I highly recommend it. His long-form videos on the Barkley and Western States are really good, and his reviews are excellent as well.
Speaking of passion projects, Salomon TV has teamed up with one of its athletes to produce a series called the Wanderer. The first episode takes place in Maine in and around Acadia National Park. It's a pretty interesting series that follows Kalen Thorien as she ventures from the USA to Europe and then Japan while taking part in various outdoor sports. Just like Red Bull with Dylan Bowman, I think it's really cool that Salomon is willing to work with its athletes to showcase things that both the brand and the athlete are passionate about. Of course, if you want to be cynical, this is essentially a three-part commercial for Salomon gear but this is the kind of commercial I can get into.
What's Poppin' on IG
Josh Ferenc - now running for Under Armour - set a course record at the Great Adirondack run in early June.
My buddy Austin Hittel was in Texas and went to one of those giant ski jump slip and slide parks. It looks awesome and I need to go to one.
Joe Reynolds took home the win at the Pineland Farms Trail Challenge up in Maine. I've got more on Reynolds, Maine, and Pineland Farms coming in the next blog.
This is how long it took me to finish this, but we had our annual two-week tour of New England so that'll be the next thing I cover on here - plus the Peachtree Road Race and the Dirty Spokes Trail Series finale.