Week 14: “Cardboard box sized rocks.”

GUYS GUYS GUYS! I’ve now made it to the highest point in Utah! Aren’t you proud?

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That’s on top of King’s Peak in the High Uintas.

Thursday: 6 mile hike

Saturday: 8.5 mile hike

Sunday: 13 mile hike

Monday: 8.5 mile hike

—–

Weekly total: 27.5 miles

TOTAL total: 191.5 miles

Even though that Monday is technically part of Week 15, I’m including here because it was part of the same trip as Saturday and Sunday. Deal wit it, yo.

Things I learned from the King’s Peak trip:

1. Nav is hard and I’m useless with topo maps

2. Though it can be concerning to take shortcuts, it all works out

3. Not acclimating before trips at elevation is dumb

I’m going to give y’all a chronological rundown of the trip. Here’s a thousand pictures and a couple words.

 

Day 1 (Saturday)

My friend Jake and I left Logan early and got to the Henry’s Fork trailhead by about 1pm. There were a bunch of Boy Scouts emerging from the wilderness as we dealt with some filter issues and took advantage of the last real bathroom for 3 days.

And then we were off!

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We passed a bunch of people on the first bit of the trail, and got to bask in the glory of the forests and streams.

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The intent was to head up near Dollar Lake and camp for the night. This stretch of trail was fairly gradual increase in elevation from 9,500 feet to a little less than 11,000. In any other circumstances, I would have been fine. But, because I’m a dumbass, I’ve spent most of the summer under 1,000 feet and was huffing and puffing constantly. Every hill was a mortal enemy.

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Our campsite was beautiful and above what we erroneously thought was Dollar Lake. Turned out we’d gone a little further than intended. Not a bad thing when peak bagging the next day.

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Pyramidal structure. Yes, that is a real word.

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I’m pretty sure if Jake can climb that tree, a bear could, but none did.

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Day 2 (Sunday)

We had to get up at the ass crack of beforedawn because we wanted to make the peak by noon. Thunderstorms, and oftentimes cray cray lightning, tend to occur in the afternoons in the Uintas. The last place anyone should be during lightning storms is on the highest point in the state. Therefore, at 4am, good morning moon and fuck you.

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Going over Gunsight pass.

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On my roomates’ recommendation, we took a shortcut to skip the unnecessary elevation loss of following the actual trail down into Painter’s Basin. Turns out we did the middle route, which you might just barely be able to see in the middle of the below photo. On the way back, Jake took the higher route, which comes out up near that snow patch, and I followed the middle route again.

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Painter’s Basin.

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View from Anderson Pass, at the base of King’s Peak where we stashed our packs and started the intense rock scramble up to the summit.

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Parts of the aforementioned scramble up the north ridge of King’s Peak. The struggle was real, people.

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SUMMIT! Hoo-fucking-rah!

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Luckily there was almost no snow up there. I have a hard time believing that snow could still be hanging out in July anywhere in the US, but it’s a thing here. This is the east side of King’s Peak as I was heading back.

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Some other pretty pictures.

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We both made it successfully back to the campsite, same one from the night before, and immediately collapsed into slumber from exhaustion. We celebrated the summit later that night with a fire (that burned a giant hole in my fleece) and our poisons of choice (Jameson and Bacardi).

 

Day 3 (Monday)

We retraced our footsteps back to the trailhead on the last day. We made really good time on the gradual downhill, and only stopped to take a few last pictures.

Last view of King’s Peak.

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Yes, I’m walking backwards. I promise I wasn’t lost and/or losing my mind.

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Jake crossing a neat little bridge near the Henry’s Fork Basin Trail fork.

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Me crossing the bridge also, and again backwards. Shut up.

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Basically, that was that. It was an epic and awesome adventure. We lucked out with perfect weather, not a drop of rain and only saw lightning from afar on the first night. We only saw two other guys on the way to the summit and very few people on the trails at all after the first couple miles from the trailhead. At least, very few people to me. These crazy people out west have no idea what crowded trails are like, and apparently what we saw this weekend was quite a crowd, ha ha.

Oh, and I should stay a hot second to let you know about the hike I did this week before King’s Peak, and have subsequently forgotten about.

On my way back to Utah, I stopped and camped at Vedauwoo in eastern Wyoming. It’s an awesome little place, right off I-80, with free camping and some great rock formations. I hiked Turtle Rock, the most popular trail in the area, and took some lengthy detours onto the Valley Massif Trail. And I saw a moose! The map I used is here. Have a couple pictures of these shenanigans.

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And that’s all there is to say.

Week 13: “Life is too short for good posture.”

Hello from fabulous and scenic Cedar Rapids, Iowa!

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Okay, okay, my childhood home is actually neither of those things. You caught me.

This sight always induces excitement because it means I’m almost there. Love you Nesper sign!

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Thursday: 3 mile run

Sunday: 4 mile trail run

—–

Weekly total: 7 miles

TOTAL total: 155.5 miles

 Another traveling week, with the purpose of seeing some very good friends and family.

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It’s been a fantastic whirlwind, from running into some semi-strangers from my undergrad at a bar to seeing fireworks and the Chicago skyline from a Wicker Park rooftop to eating vegan poutine for the first time.

I obviously managed to sneak in some runs though!

Almost the moment I arrived in Chicago, my friend Susannah asked if I wanted to go run. We went on her typical route, from her apartment in Uptown over to Lake Michigan. It was incredibly beautiful.

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Hot and sweaty, y’all!

I was more sore than expected the next day because it was on pavement. These unusual aches led me to the realization that my summer runs have been exclusively trail, and I ain’t complainin.

I also intended to run when I got to CR this weekend. I spent some (i.e., minimal) time perusing the web to find a trail, because I’m actually not all that familiar with the trail systems in the town I grew up in. I was more of a fat lazy fuck than a runner back then.

I quickly settled on the Boyson Park Trail, a 2 mile stretch in nearby Marion. Drove over there, super pumped to get out a few miles, and turns out the trail is closed due to some pretty intense storms they’ve had recently. I could see some significant washout just from the road.

I had no backup plan, because why the fuck would I waste time with that, so after a few hectic minutes on my phone, I picked the Grant Wood Trail. You know Grant Wood even if you don’t. He’s the artist behind American Gothic.

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Anyways, the Grant Wood Trail consists of three unconnected segments in Linn County, each 2-3 miles long. I chose the middle one because it was the right length. It’s further out of town than I wanted to go, but what can you do?

The trail was flat, straight, and grassy. It follows alongside a few creeks and is nestled in a wooded area. Yes, contrary to popular belief, there are some trees in Iowa. Of course, just beyond those trees were farm fields.

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While this had the potential to be a solid run, I (again) had to shit most of the time. This is becoming a common occurrence and it’s NOT OKAY.

My knee has been great, thanks for asking. That’s mostly because I’ve been too busy to get in very many miles, but this has given me time to strategize. I need to be a bit more proactive in dealing with this. I started taking glucosamine a couple weeks ago, and I’m going to double down on doing strength and cross training, especially swimming, this fall. Oi.

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Week 12: “It’s a hairdryer out there.”

Crop circles, NBD.

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Wednesday: 3 mile trail run

—–

Weekly total: 3 miles

TOTAL total: 148.5 miles

I spent half of this week traveling (again). If you haven’t noticed, that is the theme of this summer. I’m too busy having fun gallivanting around the country to worry about this challenge.

I DID spent a shit ton of time outside, though. Which is the whole point of this thing, yeah? I went to my lab’s field site in southeastern Arizona to help out a labmate with some fieldwork. We spent the weekend out in 100 degree heat trapping rats, and it was the greatest.

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It gave me the chance to get away and process what’s happened so far this summer, and think about the next couple of months, which are going to be a whirlwind. Having no cell service really helped with that.

It was also beautiful out there in the desert, albeit in a barren, alien sort of way. That area is the confluence of several deserts (Sonoran and Chihuahuan) and mountain ranges (Rockies and Sierra Madres).

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The sky was also enormous, and we saw only a single cloud the entire time.

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We drove through the Chiricahuas on the way back. I’m definitely going to come back to explore that area.

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I thought about running on Sunday when we got to our hotel in Tucson, but it was way too damn hot to be possible. I’m still trying to decide whether 100 degrees and no humidity or 90 degrees and extremely humid is better. We ended up drinking and swimming in the hotel pool instead and, in hindsight, I’m grateful I managed to not drown.

I’m going to be traveling again this week, making my way back to Utah after a few detours in the midwest. Sneaking in some walks and runs is the goal, but we’ll see how that works out. Later haters.

Week 11: “And he was covered in tattoos!”

How to properly deal with allergies.

Step 1. Be all nasty and snotty and coughy for several days.

Step 2. Spend several days inside binge watching Orange Is the New Black and recovering.

Step 3. Feel better.

Step 4. Be outside in the woods for 8 hours inhaling pollen.

Step 5. Be all nasty and snotty and sneezy.

Repeat.

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In other news, my knee has been holding up quite nicely but I’ve also been neglecting the Gallon Challenge since I dropped my gallon jug in a parking lot a few weeks ago and broke it.

Tuesday: 3 mile trail run

Thursday: 3 mile walk

Sunday: 13 mile hike

—–

Weekly total: 19 miles

TOTAL total: 145.5 miles

 

I returned to Ross Marble Quarry this week. I started off doing Flow out and back to make up for not being able to finish it last time. There was quite a bit of traffic on the trail; I probably saw a dozen bikers and trail runners. The tiny ups and downs and sharp turns make Flow a really exhilarating experience.

I tacked on Tharp Trace for the last mile.

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It circumvents the rather pretty quarry that’s in the park. There was a group from the Boys and Girls club kayaking that day. I was jeals.

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This trail was a treat. It was definitely a bit more technical than what I’ve been doing, because the first half was very steep uphill and the second half a similarly steep downhill. It still amazes me that these trails, which feel like they’re in the middle of nowhere, are actually nestled inside the city limits.

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This weekend was my last in Knoxville, BOO HISS.

So of course I had to make one last trip to the Smokies to laugh at the tourists and try not to trip over rocks. My friend Emam and I woke up too damn early (for a Sunday) to drive to the Rainbow Falls trailhead. The plan was to do a loop consisting of Rainbow Falls up to Mt. LeConte and Bull Head trail down.

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From GSMNP trail map

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Those damn aggressive bears. We thought about trying to use the Trillium trail for the second part of the loop, but we would have run out of time, so it just ended up being an out-and-back of Rainbow Falls. Most people only hike up to the falls themselves, which are about halfway up the trail.

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We went all the way up to the lodge on the top of LeConte though. According to Wikipedia, it’s the “highest inn providing lodging for visitors in the Eastern United States.” I’d believe it. Visitors have to hike up and supplies are brought up with llamas because there are no roads to the lodge.

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As you should expect by now, it was humid as balls. Not only did I have swamp ass, I had swamp body, and left this nice mark on a bench at the lodge.

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There was also a short area on the trail that seemed to have been affected by a wildfire. It apparently smelled strongly of burn, but I couldn’t smell a damn thing because of the aforementioned allergies.

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It’s really hard to say goodbye to the woods of Apppalachia. As scenic and magnificent as the mountains out west are, they aren’t yet accompanied by the warm, comfortable memories of the green forests for me.

Week 10: “Doses and mimosas, champagne and cocaine.”

Check out the title ref here plz.

Posting this a couple days late. Sorry I’m not sorry I’ve been BUSY doing some THANGS y’all.

Life has been swell.

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Monday: 4 mile trail run

Thursday: 3 mile run

—–

Weekly total: 7 miles

TOTAL total: 126.5 miles

I spent most of last week at/preparing for/transportationing to Bonnaroo! Here, take a minute to be jealous.

It is such a special magical experience. I spent zero time thinking about fitness and all of my time rocking out to some sick bands, putting chemicals in my body, and hard chilling with friends. I did spend a lot of time moving about outdoors (we walked about ten gazillion miles everyday from camp to Centeroo, where the music is, and between stages) but none of it fucking counts. Sad panda.

I did have time to sneak in a short run on Thursday morning. We were staying with someone at the University of Tennessee Space Institute before getting into the festival, so I ran by the lake adjacent to the Institute. It was also not super hot yet, the surrounding forest was beautiful, and there were no people at all because it’s in the middle of nowhere.

Seems like it should have been great, right? Nope. Fucking most awful run I’ve had for a long time, and maybe even the actual worst. I had to shit the entire time. It was miserable, and I had to keep stopping to walk so nothing bad would happen. If that’s TMI for you, deal with it. This blog is all about real talk. #runnerproblems

Anyways, that’s about all there is to say. I’ll leave you with a few pictures of Bonnaroo and hopefully be back with some more exciting stories next week.

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Week 9: “The heart is a motherfucker, I’m positive of that.”

People here are assholes while driving.

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One of the (very very few) reasons I’m looking forward to returning to Utah. At least there I don’t fear for my life several times a day.

Wednesday: 3 mile trail run

Friday: 3 mile walk

Saturday: 7.5 mile hike

Sunday: 7.5 mile hike

—–

Weekly total: 21 miles

TOTAL total: 119.5 miles

Yeah, I’m a little behind on miles for this challenge. Like 60 miles behind. I try not to freak out about that by reminding myself that this is a long-term goal and it’s okay for there to be some variance in weekly mileage. I’m anticipating that there will be plenty of weeks in the future that exceed the necessary weekly average of ~20 miles. Hopefully.

The exciting activity of week 9 was taking my bf on his very first backpacking trip!

We went up into the Smokies and did a loop using the Curry Mountain and Meigs Creek trails. These are not very well-traveled trails but they were in great condition nevertheless.

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From GSMNP trail map

There are so many trails in the Smokies, all of which are great, yet I tend to go back to the same popular ones over and over again. Like Chimney Tops, Charlie’s Bunion, Alum Cave, all of which I’ve done at least three times. Fucking dumb waste of time.

We parked my car at the Sinks and then walked to the Curry Mountain trailhead, all while trying not to get hit by passing cars.

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The entirety of the Curry Mountain trail is a fairly gradual uphill. It felt so good to be back in the woods. This was my first backpacking trip since getting off the Appalachian Trail in July last year, which is a shamefully long time. I regain (most of) my sanity and balance out on trail.

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Wes thinking, “What the fuck did I get myself into?!”

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I spent like 2o minutes getting water from a not-so-ideal source. Turns out there was a much better stream about a minute walk down the trail. Woops.

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The campsite was great. The only other inhabitants were a father and his son at first. Then a group of three turned up in the evening, set up their tents, and left the campsite. They apparently returned at like midnight. My best guess is that they were doing ritualistic animal sacrifices out in the woods.

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Being on trail = excuse to eat junk trail food.

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This joke starts like “a biologist and an engineer are trying to start a campfire in the woods…”

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Anyways, the section of Meigs Mountain trail that we did was really flat and super easy. It was easy cruising into the campsite on Saturday and leaving the next morning. We saw a cemetery and did some walking and some eating, which are my two most favorite activities.

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Wes made some contributions to the Shit Found in The Woods project, including a snail head deep in a pile of bear shit.

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Then the Meigs Creek trail, which required about a gazillion stream crossings. And nobody fell in!

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We successfully made it back to the Sinks and my car, which had not been towed or vandalized.

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I did my best to design the trip to be optimal for a first-timer. It seems that the first big outdoorsing trip that most people go on are awful, miserable ordeals involving heavy packs, insufficient equipment, and terrible weather. And then there are the crazies like me who keep going on trips regardless of the quality of that first experience.

While I kept the miles low and we were in an area we were both comfortable with, the one thing I don’t have control of is weather. Luckily, this went perfectly. It was humid but still relatively cool during the days and, even though thunderstorms were in the forecast the entire time, it only rained at night while we were in the tent.

Wes seemed to have enjoyed the trip, and we’ve started doing it again out west this fall.

I guess I should stop procrastinating and put away all the gear that’s strewn about the apartment now.

Weeks 7 & 8: “He’s got a tail like a sausage.”

Sup bishes!

Sorry for the radio silence. I promise I haven’t died.

It’s been pretty boring in terms of fitness around here. I’ve been taking it really easy to let my knee get better, and there’s been steady improvement over the last two weeks. Nearly back to normal, so I’m ready to jump back on the workout train and get my ass outside.

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Week 7

Tuesday: 2 mile walk

Wednesday: 0.5 mile swim

Friday: 3 mile walk

Sunday: 3 mile hash

—–

Week 8

Tuesday: 3 mile trail run

Thursday: 1 mile walk

Sunday: 3 mile trail run

—–

TOTAL total: 98.5 miles

 

I’ve been having a sufficient number of fitness-less adventures though, don’t you worry! We went to Atlanta two weekends in a row, for a brewfest at the ATL zoo and then for a wedding. Plenty of fun and friends and drinks and HUMIDITY UP THE ASS.

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It was really good to see some of my lab coworkers again. Also, swimming outdoors is way fucking harder than lap swimming in a pool.

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I got to go hashing while in Atlanta also! It was my first time since haring in Utah.

I went with a kennel called SOB. It was a supa chill trail and just incredibly nice to be around hashers again. All hashers everywhere are family.

IMG_3229 IMG_3231Pretty much the rest of my outdoorsing activity has been at Victor Ashe park in Knoxville. Not much to say there.

I was definitely very happy after my first successful run!

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Week 6: “Soggy doggies are better than no doggies at all.”

This week was a fucking rollercoaster.

I’d rather have a life that consists of crazy highs and lows than to live at an unvaried average though.

On that note, clap for bacon!

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Wednesday: 4 mile trail run

Friday: 2 mile walk

Saturday: 2 mile walk

—–

Weekly total: 8 miles

TOTAL total: 83 miles

Ran on the “natural trail” at Fort Dickerson park, where some things apparently happened during the civil war. There was a sign describing why the park is important but I got burned out on history as a child from visiting too many museums and monuments and spending six hours at Custer’s Last Stand (which is just a giant field). So I can’t make myself give a shit.

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Source

I’d actually run on the greenway in the park before but had forgotten. The natural trail is a mile long and finding/using it was a little confusing. I mean, this is where the trail starts.

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Do you see a trail there?

But it was a fun trail, and pretty easy. Most of the trails I’ve been running on are built by the Appalachian Mountain Bike Club, so thanks to those bros. I’ve started to notice that all of their trails have a bunch of bumps that seem to be intentionally built in, which must be a biking thing? It’s kind of fucking annoying.

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I took it really easy on the run because of my knees. It felt great until maybe the last half mile, when my left knee started to feel a little sore.

The park has a cool little lake that’s from an old quarry that I’d also forgotten about until I wandered over to an overlook to stretch. Prettyyyyyy.

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My knee felt fine until a few days later when I was biking and the soreness became a little more acute. This freaked me out enough that I decided to nix the five mile trail race I’d been planning to do on Saturday and I took the weekend off from working out.

My mood is highly correlated with how well my workouts are going. I’m just starting to realize the extent of this. I’ll feel on top of the world when running is going well, which was what it was like a few weeks ago, but then immediately become somewhat despondent and generally unenthusiastic when old (or new) injuries flare up. It’s difficult to have my emotions dictated by my body because how my body behaves seems to be completely out of my control, and I’m a control freak.

Because of this I’m getting increasingly better at listening to my body. I know enough by now that when particular spots are sore or the soreness is of a certain type, that I need to stop. But I don’t always stop when I need to because I’m stubborn and like to stick to my plans. I’m slowly learning patience and flexibility with workout plans, and recognizing that I’m developing valuable character traits helps me deal with the frustration from my injury-prone body.

I’m going to take it easy the next couple of weeks and just see how things go. And I’ll keep you well-informed about all of the tedious details, kind reader, don’t you worry!

The only other activity from the week that is worth mentioning is accidentally exploring an abandoned insane asylum.

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For real.

My bf and I took a walk on Friday at Lakeshore park. Neither of us had ever been there before. About a mile into the greenway loop there was a junky looking brick building and we decided to peek in and see what was up.

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In that window, we could see a gym, so we thought it was a high school. We walked around outside the building a little more and ran into some dead ends until we found a door that had been busted out that allowed for entry. So we played Ghost Hunters for a while.

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Now, I would normally never encourage trespassing. I’m generally a law-abiding citizen (except for open container laws obvs) but there weren’t any No Trespassing signs. Besides, I’ve learned that you should never say no to an opportunity for a good story.

We didn’t realize how good that story was though. If I’d known it was an insane asylum, I might not have gone in because I watched too many horror movies as a child and am slightly traumatized by the paranormal.

Especially because this place, the Lakeshore Mental Asylum, is supposedly haunted by all the tortured patients that resided there. There are a bunch of stories on the Internet from people who heard screams, saw ghostly figures, whatever. I try not to believe in that sort of hokey shit, but the place is fucking creepy. I’ll let you know if I’ve been possessed from my asylum jaunt.

There was some good spray paint on the walls, but this most appropriately described how I felt walking through.

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Week 5: “He looks like an angry softball trying to get out of a coin purse.”

First thing’s first. Meet my new best friend.

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Apparently the only way I can get myself to do anything worthwhile is via random ass challenges, so I’ve started a gallon challenge. No, not that gallon challenge. (My cross country team would do a gallon challenge during preseason every year. I never participated because milk is super nast, but I got to see a lot of my friends vomiting uncontrollably into a river.)

I have to drink a gallon of water every day. For a long time, I was great about staying ultrahydrated, but I’ve fallen off the water wagon pretty hard lately. Drinking water is a lot of work, and I would like to just use an IV instead. I’ve actually heard that EMTs will hook themselves up to an IV when they’re severely hungover, those lucky bastards. Anyways, I digress.

It’s been pretty easy to finish a gallon a day so far. I just pretend that jug is my child and it will die if I don’t drink all of it. And I don’t even like children. Easy peasy. I now pee like I’m pregnant too.

Tuesday: 5 mile trail run

Thursday: 2 mile walk

Friday: 7 mile trail run

—–

Weekly total: 14 miles

TOTAL total: 75 miles

Didn’t quite hit my mileage this week. I meant to hike on Sunday, but I really needed to cross train, and you’ll have to read the rest of the post to find out why. Also, was spending a lot of time with my other best (liquid) friend this week.

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So, the run on Tuesday was the most incredibly awful shitty disgusting run I’ve done in recent memory. I actually thought I might die.

I checked out Sharp’s Ridge Trail. It’s not actually part of the Knoxville Greenways system, but I found it on the greenway map. The trail is about 1.25 miles long, a nice dirt singletrack in a densely wooded area. Really pretty. The trail also has some short but fun ups and downs. I think what I’ve been running lately is too boring (i.e., flat). IMG_3048

The trail is unique because it’s on a random ridge in the middle of an urban area, but if you ignore the subtle sounds of interstate traffic, you would think you’re in the middle of nowhere due to how dense the vegetation is. I only saw a single other person in the park, some friendly old dude with binocs. This is fuckin rare for Knoxville, as most of the trails are crawling with people doing shit. I appreciated it greatly because it meant no one was there to see me suffering and probs looking like trash.

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I ran Sharp’s Ridge four times to get out 5 miles, and felt like death after the first half mile. This was mostly due to allergies, which I’ve never had to deal with before, but I basically had a cold and my body felt like shit. I was also a little dehydrated due to Cinco de Drinko activities the night before (see my solution to that problem above). The cherry on top was that it was VERY hot and VERY humid. It took a lot of willpower to not quit when I got back to my car after 2.5 miles.

I stopped paying attention to my form because I was so exhausted  and miserable and started feeling some soreness in my shins during the third traverse. My running form has been a years-long project and I’ve pretty much gotten to the point where I don’t have to think too hard to maintain it. Or so I thought. My knees were cracking a lot more the next couple of days than they had been recently, causing me to have some spastic freakout moments about my knees getting injured again. Ugh. #firstworldproblems

I wanted to do a longer run later in the week in preparation for the Panther Creek 5 miler next weekend (more on that in the next post) and planned out what I thought was 7 miles in the Ross Marble Quarry area south of Ijams Nature Center. Starting from the parking lot by the quarry, I intended to do the south loop section in the park (Ross Marble and Burnett Ridge trails) and then do Flow out and back.

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I’ve done a longer run on the greenway in that area with some friends who were training for a marathon before, but have heard good things about the trails and have never checked them out before. The trails were really nice, very well maintained and in a pretty, forested area. Like Sharp’s Ridge, there were a lot more ups and downs than I’ve been doing recently, but had that rollercoaster feel even more so, and I loved it.

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This is the latest installment in a project called Shit Found in The Woods, which was started on my first solo backpacking trip three or four years ago in Land Between the Lakes in Kentucky.

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While I was really nervous about this run the night before because of the consequences of the Sharp’s Ridge Trail run, it actually went extremely well. I felt light on my feet the entire time and was just flowing along the trails. It was cooler than it’s been because of clouds from an impending storm, though still humid enough that I was drenched in sweat by the end.

I did unfortunately start feeling some pressure in my left knee after I’d finished the south loop portion, but because I’m a stubborn asshole like most runners, decided to try to do the Flow section as planned. Obviously, my knee didn’t get any better as I ran more, so I ended up not finishing that trail. I think I did 0.75 miles-ish of it.

From what I can tell using the magic of the internet, I ran somewhere between 6 and 8 miles that day, but I don’t know for sure. I should probably start a “Kristina needs a Garmin” fund, or just stop being so damn frugal and fork over the cash. My lame ass excuse is that I’m a poor graduate student.

In summary, my knees were acting up this week and that freaks me out. They’ve been cracking and they were pretty sore after sitting in a car for four hours on Saturday. My knees are just delicate snowflakes, though, and sometimes they have to remind me they’re there. I need to better about cross training; the more I run, the more I should cross train, but it tends to go the other way. Also, while I thought yoga would be a sufficient replacement for strength exercises, I did some hip work yesterday and discovered that my hips were not as strong as I thought. Fail.

Sorry for all the words in this post. My body misbehaving makes me a little word vomit-y. As part of my apology, have this picture of a cat.

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Week 4: “We have to protect the forests to keep the unicorns alive.”

So, I’m in Tennessee now.

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Quick rundown of Tennessee vs. Utah. TN pros: rolling hills, green and lush as fuck, hanging with some of my main bitches, delicious food, live music everywhere, hipster-y people running around. TN cons: mountains are further away (at least an hour), outrageously hot and humid. Tennessee wins, obvi.

 Monday: 3 mile trail run

Thursday: 2 mile walk

Friday: 6 mile trail run

Saturday: 11 mile hike

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Weekly total: 22 miles

TOTAL total: 61 miles

If anyone is keeping track besides me (unlikely), this is the first week I’ve actually exceeded the number of miles in a week that I need to finish 1,000 miles in a year. Go me!

Also, my body has felt amazingly great this week. It blows my mind, because I’m incredibly injury-prone and used to hurting myself whenever I increase the volume or intensity of my workouts. I’ll take it. Thanks body.

After spending all of last weekend stuck in a car, I was raging to get outside on Monday. I was looking for a decent trail that’s close to where I’m staying, so used the power of the internet to find Victor Ashe Park. Knoxville has a set of multi-use trails sprinkled throughout the city called greenways that they’re developing. Apparently it’s up to 86 miles of trails now, I guess. I was kind of worried that most of them were paved, but I’ve found several so far that aren’t.

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I did the 1.5 mile unpaved loop trail twice. It was fucking hot and humid, but somehow that didn’t drive me too crazy. I got to check out some dudes playing disc golf in the park, and the second time I ran by the dog park, two adorable puppies followed me along the fence. I felt super fit while running past all the fat white dudes taking a stroll in the park.

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The greenway in Sequoyah Park was the other place I checked out this week, which I’ve heard is awesome from multiple sources. In my attempt to have more active rest days, my bf and I walked around the park. I kind of figured this greenway was paved, which was why I wanted to scout it out first, but it wasn’t. Score! Also, it’s a really beautiful, big park that’s adjacent to some really nice, likely insanely expensive, houses.

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I returned to the park the next day for a 6 miler. When I hit the last quarter mile, I didn’t even want to stop, so that’s probably a good sign. I kind of hate that every quarter mile is marked out on posts, though, because it’s a constant reminder that I’m not done yet.

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I’ve been meaning to get new trail runners for a while now, because my old pair had something like 900 miles on them. Woops. I picked up a new pair from the New Balance store in Knoxville; they’re the same model I had before, the Leadville 100s, but a different color. Definitely the manliest-looking pair of trainers I’ve ever owned.

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They were running some sort of promotional deal, too, so I got $25 worth of apparel for free? I got this sick new pair of shorts that I don’t really need, but runners can’t say no to new running shit.

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The cherry on top of this most excellent week was heading up into the mountains to hike with a couple of my girlfriends. We intended to do the 4 miles out to Alum Cave (not really a cave), but ended up going all the way to the LeConte Lodge for a total of 11 miles. It was a glorious day with some awesome people.

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Pictures > words.

I feel like I’ve been hit by a bus due to allergies, so that’s all you get. I might just crawl back into bed.