Valle Crucis 15 Miler

With my running group, I enjoyed the Valle Crucis 15 Miler on Saturday. The course had beautiful views, because it quickly led us up a mountain before descending and finishing along the Watauga River. That meant five miles up, five miles down, and five miles gently uphill. On the first long uphill, my Garmin auto-paused twice, either because I was running so slowly or because the GPS couldn’t hold the satellites on the switchbacks.

This terrain was perfect for focusing and being in the moment. You can run only so fast uphill, and you can run only so slow downhill. The last third of any run requires some extra focus and attention to form. As I began the descent around mile 6, I felt a jubilant sense of gratitude and presence, going so far as to say “Thank you!” aloud. By mile 13, that had given way to a sarcastic “Thanks a lot.”

Here, for your amusement, is the elevation profile and map. Look at the elevation gain and loss listed above left—could that be right? On the top right graph, the green line is elevation. You’ll see the five up, five down, and five flattish miles there. You’ll also see, from the red line indicating my heart rate and the blue line showing my speed, that I held myself in check until the last five miles, when I sped up, ready to be done. (There’s another elevation profile on the bottom, with distance measured in kilometers.) After the race, I enjoyed not one but two ten-minute bouts of sitting in the cold river, which felt wonderful.