Since the Fall is rapidly leaving the high-country, only to be replaced with 5months of winter, I wanted to get in an early birthday run roughly one week out from big number 23. Historically, my birthday runs have been...well...epic. There was the year that I decided to run 50mi off the couch, only to have to call in room-mate life support around mile 38 and have them pick me up at 8am on the side of the interstate. Then there was the year that I repeated the stunt and ran through a whiteout snow storm on top of Grandfather Mountain only to have to pull up and call in room-mate life support at an Exxon station where they found me frozen to an empty cup of chicken noodle soup. Needless to say, my track record has been less than exemplary. Without the option of calling in life support and perhaps since I am gaining some wisdom in my old age, I opted for the less epic ~27mi run between 19E and Carvers Gap on the Appalachian Trail. A few years ago, in the middle of the summer, Kristen and I tried to run the out and back on this beautiful piece of trail but in the end had to turn back early due to dwindling food and increased grumpiness (word?). I have ran on this trail repeatedly throughout the years; however, I have never gone back to run the entire stretch end-to-end in one out and back push. Today seemed like as good of a day as any to try.
As usual, for the Birthday Run, I was awoke to driving rain and dropping temperatures. I drove over to the trail head in the dark. Awesome! Determined to not have another hypothermic birthday blast, I put on two rain coats (thanks Gore-Tex Trans-Rockies for the awesome running Gore-Tex gear) and started up the trail in the pitch black. Note to self, probably best to bring a headlamp when starting at 6am. Enjoy the pictures from my day-off adventure.