Keep Running In Moses Cone! (Plus Marathon Long Run)

St. Mark's Trail in Tallahassee. Paved, straight, and fast.

St. Mark’s Trail in Tallahassee. Paved, straight, and fast.

Last week I did my first marathon specific long run at St. Mark’s Trail in Tallahassee. I know I’ve talked about St. Mark’s before but to refresh some reader’s memories it is a flat, straight, and paved bike path outside of town. It is a great place to run long repeats and so it was a great site for my first real marathon session.

The plan for the day was to warm up 4 or 5 miles then run 4×3 miles with a 1 mile float between each 3 mile piece, ending with an easy 3 mile cool down. The 3 mile sections were supposed to start around 5:12-14 and slowing get down to 5:05 or faster by the end.

It was a great run! Ryan rode his bike next to me throughout the 22+ mile run providing me with water and gels. I felt really controlled and smooth up until the very last mile of harder running. I ran a bit faster overall than planned but my effort was controlled throughout and that was the goal of the day. Here are my splits:

-4.5 warm up easy: 8:05, 7:12, 6:15, 5:42, 3:05
-stopped to change into flats, a few light strides, potty break
-5:01, 5:10, 5:06 (15:18)
-6:20 float
-5:10, 5:06, 5:07 (15:24)
-6:37 float
-5:04, 5:09, 5:05 (15:20)
-6:38 float
-5:05, 5:07, 4:58 (15:10)
-cool down 3 miles easy: 8:19, 8:04, 8:08
-total: 22.5 miles, 2hrs 15min

Bird's-eye view of Bass Lake at Moses Cone National Park.

Bird’s-eye view of Bass Lake at Moses Cone National Park.

Also, there is some cause for alarm back in Blowing Rock. Moses Cone National Park, the unofficial training home of ZAP Fitness, is being threatened with a proposal to outlaw all running within it. David Rogers of recently wrote an article outlining the issue here.

Basically, the National Park Service recently put out its Developed Area Management Plan, or DAMP, which outlines plans for the park’s future. One of their proposals is to outlaw all running in the park because, according to one Blue Ridge Parkway official, “…the frequent use by running groups and trail rides disrupts the experience of anyone wanting to walk in solitude.”

It seems that park officials and some local residents are upset with the influx of running groups that visit the park each summer and fall. Economically speaking, Moses Cone is a destination for many outdoor enthusiasts who flock to Boone and Blowing Rock each year, spending money on hotels, food and many other things that help countless businesses thrive in the area. Cutting off that revenue stream because there are large groups clogging up Bass Lake in peak season is incredibly drastic and unnecessary.

And for a place like ZAP that hosts many of these college teams and several adult running vacations each year this proposal could be financially crippling. Personally, I do not think ZAP is the culprit for the anti-running initiative but it obviously has major implications for us.

Currently, the NPS has a rule on the books that a group must obtain a permit to use the park but it is not enforced. I think if the NPS simply enforced their current rule things would settle down. Or, in peak season the park could simply say that all running must be done by 10 a.m. so that walkers wouldn’t be affected for the majority of the day. ZAP, and its guests, make a point of being very respectful of anyone using the park and hope that doesn’t go unnoticed. Banning running is not the answer. It is the definition of an over-correction.

Moses Cone is a fantastic training venue, truly a hidden gem, and to be denied access to train there would be terrible. I encourage anyone who reads this to go to this page on the NPS website and comment on why this DAMP initiative is bad for all involved, especially ZAP Fitness!

Thanks for reading!

Here is my last week of training (1/25-1/31):

Sunday: AM: 15 miles (1-1-2-1-45 x3 during run)

Monday: AM: 11.5 miles  PM: 6 miles

Tuesday: AM: 11.5 miles (8×20 seconds post run)

Wednesday: AM: 22.5 miles (4×3 miles long run workout)

Thursday: AM: 8 miles  PM: 7 miles

Friday: AM: 11 miles   PM: 6 miles

Saturday: AM: 10.5 miles (8×20 seconds post run)

Total: 109 miles, 10 runs