Trail Training: Sawnee Mountain Preserve

Last weekend we took a trip to a new location: Sawnee Mountain Preserve in Forsyth County. This area has a visitor’s center and two other parking lots with amenities and playgrounds. There’s plenty of parking and really good signage for (and on) the trails. There isn’t any parking fee and the website looks like it has lots of opportunities for fun and educational activities. Unfortunately there are no dogs allowed on any of the trails, but it’s still a great place for a hike or a challenging trail run.

There are essentially two loops in the Preserve. Check out a map of the trails here. The more northern of the loops is about 3.5 miles and leads up to the top of the mountain to a natural rock feature called the Indian Seats. From here you can see the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance.

The southern loop is about 5.5 miles, depending on which trails you actually take. This section of the preserve has more climbs (both gentle and severe) and the trails have a bit more loose rock and uneven terrain. If you run clockwise, good luck with the connector part of the Mountain Trail that has a consistent 15-16% grade, or if you run counter-clockwise there’s a section with a 28% grade on the Mountain Trail. TrailRunProject ranks both the northern and southern loops at intermediate running trails, so we knew what we were getting into.

The trails were challenging, but the views and terrain made our 9.5 mile trek absolutely wonderful. Compared to many of the forested trails we normally run, Sawnee has more rock formations, more open tree canopies (especially towards the top of the Indian Seats trail), and bright green palmettos right near the trail to brighten the winter scenery. It was lovely! Highly recommend!

Master’s Ultimate National Championships

It was my first time participating at the National Championships, despite being eligible (i.e., old) and playing with a group that sent a team. It was also my first time playing at a national level event with a small squad. Despite more play time than I really wanted, it was a fabulous event!

Located in Aurora Colorado, the altitude also played a significant role in the ease of running around. I haven’t been to Colorado to play ultimate in 12 years. I forgot how hard it feels to run at elevation. It makes sense why runners and cyclists spend time training in Colorado.

Things I enjoy about playing in a masters league:

1. Everyone knows what is going on. If you get the right group together there isn’t any teaching and most ideas discussed about strategy are valid.

2. The names of the teams all have some kind of spin on the fact that we are all old! Some examples: Atlantiques (that’s us), Surly, Cougars, Johnny Encore, I Thought This Was a Wine Tasting, Beyondors.

3. No one rolls their eyes when you say your legs hurt, instead they throw a roller at you, offer you some ibuprofen, and pull out a variety of braces and tapes.

4. Even mug older people can play at a competitive level. The oldest I saw was at 62 in the great grand masters division. Super impressive.

Here’s to next year!

Morton’s Neuroma (aka, the foot injury that takes forever to go away)

My story starts back in January (yes it is currently August) during a cold spell when I decided that my feet and legs would be very happy wearing a nice pair of boots to work for three days. No these boots do not have heels. No they have never given me problems before. No my feet didn’t feel particularly bad wearing them. But after going for a nice 3 mile run on day four I knew something was wrong with my left foot.

Morton’s neuroma is classified as nerve irritation that causes scar tissue to form. It is most common between the second and third metatarsals and the symptoms include a dull ache in the region, numbness  or tingling in the toes, and pain with pressure. In some people the scar tissue builds up so much that surgery is needed to remove it. It can be caused by trauma, wearing ill-fitting shoes or high heels, and tight muscles in the feet and calves.

Mine was definitely a mild case, as I wasn’t experiencing any numbness or tingling. There was just pain that would get worse with activity. I went to the orthopedist to make sure I didn’t have any fractures and his advice was to lay off all activity for a while. He didn’t seem to think anything of the fact that by the time I went to see him my foot had already been hurting for 6 weeks. He offered me a cortisone shot, which I declined, and said to give it another 6 weeks.Foot injuries are the worst. Feet are needed to do everything!

Some things that really helped my recovery:

– I bought a pair of Hoka tennis shoes for lots of cushioning.

– I used KT tape for support when my feet were feeling tired.

– I put some metatarsal pads in my shoes to open up the space between my toes when I walked.

-I used lacrosse and golf balls to massage the bottoms of my feet.

– Lots of ice

At this point, 8 months later, I can run in my Hokas, bike, and play ultimate frisbee for a weekend. My foot still gets sore if I sit cross-legged on it for too long or if I try on shoes that don’t fit quite right. 

Words of wisdom – get shoes that fit and have a wide enough toe box!

If you think you may have a neuroma please seek a medical opinion, as I am not a qualified medical professional.


At the beginning of the year a lot of people make New Year’s Resolutions that are designed to make them better people either mentally, physically, or emotionally. Unfortunately, a lot of people have a hard time keeping resolutions for various reasons, one of which is losing willpower. The following is a great little animation about willpower, the different types of willpower, and some strategies to maintain willpower to help achieve goals. Enjoy!

How to Say “No!” to Almost Anything

Looking for a Weight Room Challenge?

This workout adds onto the concept of “super-setting” during your workout. That is, doing two or three exercises one right after the other with minimal rest in between. Using “super-sets” in strength training functions to increase muscle strength and endurance and get some cardio all at the same time. It can also reduce time spent in the gym while getting a more complete workout.

The challenge today is a Super Super Set workout. Yeah I said it, a double Super! Instead of doing two or three exercises in a row, this workout combines 8 exercises in a row. Do each of the exercises for 1 minute with minimal rest in between. Try doing three sets of the circuit with one to two minutes of rest in between each set.

1. Incline dumbbell press (with weights)

2. Squats (with weight and make sure to keep your form when you get tired, weight on your heels and your back straight)

3. Pull ups (no weight)

4. Push ups (no weight)

5. Jump rope (no weight)

6. Plank rows (pull the cable so that your elbow comes to your side. Make sure to keep your hips level and in line with your head just like during a regular plank)

7. Sit ups with a medicine ball
8. Wall sits (yes for an entire minute)
Sounds too hard… try doing each exercise for 30 seconds to start with, or only two two sets. Have fun!!

Race to the Taste 5k

This past weekend was an impromptu race weekend in St. Augustine, FL. I ran their 5k race which benefits the EPIC Behavioral Healthcare, a non-profit community health clinic. For information about the race and EPIC, check out their website. The race had several unique characteristics.

1. The start time was 4:30 in the afternoon.

2. There was a food tasting festival afterwards that included live music.

3. There was a free beer along will all the bagels and bananas you could ever want.

The course was relatively flat, with half traipsing through Anastasia State Park and half through a relatively shady neighborhood. The only tricky part was the start which was relatively wide but narrowed to a dirt/sand trail within about 100 m. The trail portion was only about a quarter mile in length and the rest of the course was on asphalt.

Race day was warm, especially with a start time in the afternoon. I’d say about 75 degrees F. There were 395 entrants which included some walkers and stroller runners.

With all my training I managed to set a personal best (post high school era) of 27:43 and a pace of 8:56 min/mile. I came in 5th in my age group and 95th out of all the runners there. All in all, a pretty good day!

Circuit Workout of the Week

Today was a doosie!

We did this circuit three times in a row with minimal rest between sets and between exercises. Each exercise we did for 1 minute.

1. yoga pushups (also called dive bombers)
2. situps with a medicine ball
3. jump rope (100 jumps instead of for time)
4. squats with a medicine ball
5. T planks (in an upper plank position, jump your feet wide and then back to the middle)
6. squat presses (squat with overhead arm press – weight about 15 lbs)
7. reverse flys
8. side planks (45 sec each side)

This was a great workout that hits all the major muscle groups. Doing this circuit three times in a row without any rest also got a bit of cardio involved too. Have fun!