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Monday, July 11, 2011

Rod Jetton- Sycamore Log Church Long Trail Run

The Sycamore Log Cabin Church where Jami and I were married
I had been thinking about this weekends run for two days.  I knew I needed to get more actual trails in, but with the heat and my weight, I was worried.  I decided to run the 6 mile trail that starts at the scenic over look on Hwy 76 just before you get to the Sheppard of the Hills tower.  This trail drops, turns and climbs over to the Sycamore Log cabin Church and offers some very technical trail running.

I woke up at 5:30 am with a heavy fog hiding the sun that was trying to break through and light up the morning.  I was thankful for the fog, because it kept things cooler.  It was 70 degrees outside so I read a few Bible verses, and  said my prayers, loaded up on water, and drove over to the Church.

A look at the fog blocking the sun from the scenic overlook.
Once there, I put my camel back on and started jogging down the road to the trail.  It was further than I remembered it and after 10 min I went across the creek and onto the trail head.  My original plan had been to try and do two loops on the trail, which would have been 12 miles.  This extra mile+ down to the trail had me re-thinking that plan.  I decided to see what I felt like after one loop. 

I sure felt strong running along the creek on the trail, but then it turned west and went almost straight up a steep hill.  When you run trails around Branson they are seldom flat.  The hills are steep and this one was no exception.  I decided to walk up and save my legs.  Now, when I say walk, I don't mean some slow strolling pace.  I was power walking up that hill and huffing the whole time.  Sometimes, on really steep hills when you are overweight, fast walking is just a quick as jogging and it takes allot less energy.

I made it up that hill and kept going at a steady pace as this trail is a steady uphill from the creek to the scenic overlook on Hwy. 76.  I reached the top in 28 min.  I had run this trail last year starting at the top in 55 min, but I was thinner then.  I was happy with the time and thought maybe I could hit 1 hour since I had allot of downhill going back.  I was still thinking about running two laps at this point. 

Going down the trail I made good time and then I hit the switch backs that go up and down and started feeling a bit tired.  I hit the start of the final mini-loop, which had a very steep hill and walked up it.  After I got to the top of it I stated picking up my pace on the down hill hoping I could break the 1 hour limit.  Somewhere on that back loop, which is the easy part of the trail, I started fading.  It was a gently rolling trail but I was getting tired and slowing down.

I finally started the final steep downhill part and reached the bottom in just over 1 hour.  I considered just doing the mini three mile loop again, but after remembering the long steep uphill that awaited me, I decided to just jog back to the Church.  While it took 10 min to get to the trail from the church, it took 15 to get back to the church.

I rested and stretched a bit, then drove down to the creek and took a dip in the clear cold water.  That was sure refreshing.  I was tired but the good news is.... I wasn't dead like I have been after the last few weekend runs, and this was the most trail miles I have included in any my runs so far.  Seriously, a trail mile in Branson is just harder than a road mile.

My left knee is hurting some and I'm resting it but my goal is to do 2 laps on that course next week.  I may start up at the scenic overlook this time though.  My weight has dropped some but I don't think I will notice it until I get under 200.  Now I am down to about 12 weeks to train and completing a 8.5 mile run with 6 trail miles in it is a far cry from running a 50k race on some steep hills in October. 

Until next time take care and thanks for reading.
Rod Jetton 

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