13.1 and I need your help!

Yesterday the nation observed Martin Luther King Jr. Day and a lot of people were off of work.  Since I attend a public university, we were also out of school.  My former Biggest Winner friend Bryan sent me a message asking if I wanted to go run Cades Cove Loop.  Of course my first questions included which route we were taking, what time, and what pace.  He assured me we would take the 8 mile loop option and go at a slower pace.  He also informed me that after we ran we could meet up with some members of the BW team and our coach, Missy Kane, to do a hike.  It sounded daunting but I willingly agreed.

Yesterday morning I bundled up and headed up to the Cove.  I did not see an entire car the entire time which is extremely rare for the national park.  I was able to get some dynamic stretching in so I was pretty much already bundled up before we even started.  The loop is gorgeous no matter what time of day or year it is but it was especially beautiful yesterday.  We were running a fairly solid pace and chose to walk up the hills.  It felt so great out and I never got cold again once we started.  It was nice to have some views to go with the run and then also have guaranteed walk breaks.  I never really looked down at my watch that much but I was grateful we were only doing 8 miles instead of the usual 11 mile option.   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My breathing was on point and I was able to talk almost the entire time which basically never happens.  We saw a few cars and they all smiled and waved which is also highly unusual.  Before we knew it we had less than a mile to go.  Around that time we ran into Missy and some of the team members and told them we would meet them at the trailhead.  We had to go an extra point one so that our run equaled out 8.1 miles for our run.  Even though we walked some of it, I still felt satisfied with the effort and I’m looking forward to running it faster.

saw some deer!

saw some deer!

The bathroom I changed in was heated which is a RARITY in the national park.  Thank goodness for it.  After getting dry we headed up to the trailhead for Abrams Falls.  After some group pictures we were on our way.  My legs felt awesome and I was glad to be getting five more miles in.  Bryan and I stayed towards the back with our team members.  I tried to be motivating by telling them how far we had gone per my Garmin but that seemed to have the opposite effect since very often when hiking the distance you *think* you have gone is very different from what you actually have.  We made it to the falls and got to sit down and hang out for a while.  The water was fantastic looking!  1.20.14abrams1.20.14missybryan

On the way back we decided to get ahead of the group and just head back to the car.  Our poor legs were tired and we were ready to get some food and get home.  Once we got back to the parking lot we had to make a big loop around the parking lot to make it an even five miles which ended the day at 13.1 for us.  Holy cow, we did a half marathon on our off day.  I went home and piled up on the couch and did not move except to go to the bathroom.  Laziness at its finest. Surprisingly this morning I wasn’t even sore and I was able to get in two miles at the indoor track at the gym followed by a kickboxing class.  Roundhouses are just what my legs needed today.

As I have mentioned before…one of my lifelong goals is to run a half marathon in every state.  Some people share this goal with me and some people have already done it or are really close to having all states completed.  I saw yesterday that ZOOMA race series is giving away an all expenses paid trip to Napa, California for one lucky blogger AND one of their readers (that could be YOU).  It is the chance of a lifetime and it would be so nice to win PLUS take a very special reader.  If you get a chance, please head on over and vote for me on their Facebook page.  You are allowed one vote per day so check back and vote again. Bonus points if you share with your friends.  Seriously, winning that trip would not only allow me to knock California off my list but I could take a wonderful reader with me and be surrounded by so many inspiring women.  Thanks, ZOOMA for hosting this!  Head on over and vote for me…you’ll see my picture and the name Kelsey/Go Girl.  Thanks so much, y’all.

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Mt. LeConte Trip

Last year around this time I wrote a post highlighting my trip to Mt. LeConte.  This year instead of me making the trip with my sweet Momma, I took my friend Meagan up the mountain.  This week has been uncharacteristically cold for East Tennessee and the weather forecast was not optimal prior to our hike.  We knew it was going to be freezing so we dressed accordingly.  This is the first time in 12 hikes to LeConte that I’ve ever had to dress warmly.

5 miles to the top!

5 miles to the top!

The hike was just like I remember it being and I let Meagan lead the way.  She is faster than me and although I didn’t feel pressured to keep up, it did help having someone in front to sort of set the pace.   We met a lot of nice fellow hikers who told us it sure was cold up at the top.  As we got closer to the summit, the temperature drop was more than evident and once we rounded the final curve to the lodge all the trees were completely white from a combo of frost and snow.  Brrr.   Turns out it was a hearty 28 degrees.  We were fortunate that the dining hall had hot chocolate for purchase and a wooden fire burning.  I have never been so grateful for hot chocolate in my entire life.    1025leconte2

We signed the book, bought a shirt for my Momma, and just put our feet up for a bit while talking to some really nice hiker women who were from our area.  After resting about an hour or so we headed back down colder than ever but warmed up a little once we got moving.  My knees and quads hurt pretty bad coming down the mountain but nothing unbearable.  Right as we were about to make it back to the car some women in front of us stopped to point out two bears in a tree.  They must not be cold enough to go into hibernation yet.

doesn't count if you don't prove it with the picture!

doesn’t count if you don’t prove it with the picture!

Even though it was frigid, I was so thankful to get 10 miles of hiking in and I’m glad I got to sign the book for my 12th consecutive year.  Can’t wait to do it again (hopefully with Momma) and feel the burn all over again.

Hiking: Abrams Falls

When I go home from school on weekends, they are usually jam packed.  Saturday is my day to get any and all errands in as well as try to squeeze in some fun.  Usually my boyfriend and I do an outing on Saturdays.  Each week is different but this past weekend we chose to go on a hike.  In the past, we have usually done the same hike to Spruce Flats Falls but since the weather was in the mid 60s, we decided to venture out a little further and try a trail that we have both done in the past, just never together.

After filling up with gas and loading up our Camelbaks with water, we hit the road to drive to Abrams Falls, located directly in the heart of Cades Cove.  The trailhead was littered with cars so we knew we would be seeing quite a few people on the hike.  The trail is rolling and you go up and down consistently.  This was a relatively shorter hike, only 2.5 miles in one direction, making it 5 miles for the day.  We got to the waterfall in a little under an hour which was great timing since we stopped a lot for other hikers, to catch our breath, etc.

We made it to the falls and took some pictures, stuck our fingers in the cold river, and I watched as TJ climbed to the top.  It was great to see so many people out hiking and enjoying the strangely perfect weather.  I barely broke a sweat on this hike thanks to low humidity and perfect temps, but I still got in a workout.  It was a great time to just enjoy time with each other, enjoy the weather, and manage to do a fitness related activity as a couple.

Abrams Falls

Abrams Falls

Hiking: Spruce Flats Falls

When it comes to cross training, I have a hard time just doing the elliptical or something similar.  I’d rather be out continually moving and maybe even doing something challenging.  Hiking can be a great option for those who have access to trails and want to mix up their routine.

Since a lot of trails are inaccessible right now due to snow and ice, our options for a good and small hike were limited.  There is a small trail close to my home called Spruce Flats Falls that is only 2 miles round-trip   Short, but just long enough to get your heart rate up and get a good cross training workout in.  The best part is that it ends at a waterfall.

what a beauty (the falls, not me)

what a beauty (the falls, not me)

TJ and I bundled up really good and hit the trail to get our hearts pumping.  Surprisingly there were no other people on the trail and we didn’t spot any wildlife.  The waterfall was flowing a little heavier than usual due to recent rain so it was great to sit on some rocks and just enjoy the view.  My boyfriend has a sense of adventure and ended up climbing up the falls which raised my blood pressure, but I guess that could be considered his strength training for the day.  I took a small risk and tried to do some yoga pose on a small rock in front of the falls.  I’m definitely not a yogi, but I kept my balance pretty well.

oh hai!

oh hai!

We took some good nature pics before heading back down the mountain. It was a great day for a hike and I’m so thankful that I have so many trails at my fingertips to use anytime I please. Hikes make a great cross-training workout and I would recommend them to anyone!