Syllamo Running Weekend

My Halloween running trip to Syllamo was definitely a success. Wednesday night, I made a last minute pumpkin and candy purchase so that Ryan would be prepared for Friday. There were only a few pumpkins left, so I picked the one with the most interesting face…

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After some Thursday morning jiujitsu, I packed up the car and made it over to the cabin just in time for a sunset run around the Green Trail. I figured the 4 mile mix of rolling hills and occasional rock gardens would be a good shakedown for the new shoes I’d bought earlier in the week (the Altra Olympus). I’ll save you all the full-on shoe review and say that once I figured out that I could actually lace them tightly and be comfortable, I liked them well enough to try them on my longer run the next day.

Made it to one of my favorite spots just as the sun was setting…


The next day, I’d decided to run most of the length of the Sylamore Creek Trail. It’s one I hadn’t really been on, save a short hike or two, because it’s closed to anything but foot traffic. Since my dad was at the cabin, I parked my car at the eastern end (the Allison trailhead) and he shuttled me to the Barkshed Camp trailhead- the one just to the east of the western terminus of the trail (I’ll do the whole thing next time I go out there).


There was a couple at the Barkshed Camp that had an adorable little beagle that they’d rescued off the side of the road. She’d been hit by a car, and one of her legs had to be amputated…

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I got started on my run, and quickly realized that the changing trees and rock formations were some of the most gorgeous I’d witnessed in years of traveling to the area (we usually wait until a little later in the year to ride the trails because of the overgrowth, so the trees are all leafless and brown).




The trail is actually pretty “easy,” elevation-wise. It mostly follows the creek, so it’s mostly rolling hills.  The surface is often rocky, though, and I found that the shoes I was trying out, while extremely comfortable on smooth ground, were treacherous on rough and technical spots. It was still a great time, though. The miles clicked off quickly, especially since it was really easy to break the trail down into sections as I passed through the campgrounds along the way (Gunner Pool and Blanchard). I got a little lost at the Blanchard Springs trailhead because you basically come out of the woods at this sign…


…then see a couple of blazes on some trees going towards the road, then nothing. I tried following the road across the creek into the camping area and didn’t see the trail, so went back and crossed a bridge to a little (closed) nature center parking area and discovered the trail in the back corner of its parking lot. Between refilling my water and wandering around looking for the trail, I probably killed a solid 20 minutes of time before getting started on the last 5 miles to my car.

The last section of trail is fun… it starts out nearly flat and very smooth, then the last mile is the rockiest of everything I’d run that day. It culminates in the famous (infamous) creek crossing before ending back up at the trailhead where I’d left my car…


Success! I was a little tired and sore, though probably a little less than what I was expecting, given I was more than doubling the mileage, elevation, and technicality of any of my most recent runs. (time/distance below includes both photo stops and “wandering” in search of the trail)


That evening, I ate large quantities of catfish and hushpuppies then vegetated in the recliner flipping between marathons of both COPS and Criminal Minds on satellite TV. Turbo vegetated on the bear skin rug.


The next day, I was slightly more sore (as expected), but I still managed to run/hike a 7-mile loop of the Orange Trail (all business, no selfies). Back at the cabin, I packed and headed home.

Sunday morning, I’d left my schedule somewhat open to either running or going for a recovery bike ride, depending on how I was feeling. Since my soreness level was about what I’d expected (no localized, specific spots hurting), I decided I’d watch the guys race cyclocross then run home the long-ish way.

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I performed obligatory beer hand-ups for the singlespeed race…


Once that was over, I took off on foot, running part of the Tour de Wolf trail then linking in to the unfinished section of the Greenline that goes right behind my house. I kept the pace in the 8:30-8:40min/mile range, which is just “easy” enough that I can do it for a long time as long as I don’t let my mind wander too much.

The additional 5 miles gave me a week-long wrapup of 37 miles and about 7 hours. I’m very happy with how my legs are handling the large increase in volume (the previous week was 13 miles/2.25 hours). Also, I switched on Saturday to a pair of Vasque Pendulum shoes. They’re definitely better on technical terrain versus the Altra Olympus, but I was hoping they’d be like my previous (and extremely worn out) pair of Vasque Velocity shoes. They’re OK, but not quite a home run. I’ll use them for now, but the “new favorite” shoe search is ongoing.

The plan for this week is to take it easy today- a trip to the dog park, some rolling/stretching, and maybe a short ride. The rest of the week, I’ll likely go for more jiujitsu and  speedwork on Tuesday, an easier day Wednesday, then a couple of longer runs Thursday and Friday morning before heading over to Iron Mountain for the DirtSmart MTB Clinic. The bike time should serve as a good leg break before diving back in to the pre-marathon buildup.