Sunday, 2 June 2013

Table Rock State Park..between a rock and a hard place!

 I'm continuing to slowly explore South Carolina, camping at different parks to see what different parts of the state has to offer. Now I just have to incorporate marathon training into these adventures into the unknown.
So the three musketeers (myself, my roommate and my puppy) left Columbia on Friday afternoon having hastily packed the car with food, camping equipment and running gear. Quite an achievement considering how small my car is. We headed North-West towards Table Rock State Park in upstate South Carolina. Named after Table Rock Mountain this park sits on the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
We arrived quite late but it was still bright enough to enjoy the beautiful scenery on the way there and to get our tent up. *The campsite was nice but the showering facilities left a lot to be desired especially compared to recent trips to other state parks.* Our nearest neighbors  were a bunch of girl scouts (or something of that nature), at this stage I thought the weekend was ruined. I mean no offense to girl scouts etc but I didn't want to listen to fifteen+ 8-10 yr olds scream/sing/bang on drums. Lucky enough they were kept in line by their leaders and were in bed pretty early.
S'mores were had

I still haven't got used to tent camping never having done it regularly before so I didn't sleep the best and of course the puppy wanted out at 4 in the morning. Rather than dread my long run all day and possibly flake out due to tiredness from the days activities I diligently started running at around 7:40 am. I finished some time after 9 am, I think I did 6 miles but it could be a bit more (or a hell of a lot more) since the GPS signal was non-existent for a good portion of my run. I just kept running until Nike+ app showed 6 miles on the screen.

I decided like a fool that it'd be a shame to run on the road when I'm in such a beautiful setting so I picked what was marked as an easy trail and headed off. The Carrick Creek Trail is 1.6 miles long and a lot of it is alongside waterfalls. Very scenic. Parts of it were too steep or too dangerous to run so I walked those portions (hey the long run is supposed to be slow and steady right!). Having not done a lot of trail running before, I now realize, this is perhaps something not to dive headfirst into. It takes a hell of a lot more concentration and uses sets of muscles road running doesn't (my ankles can attest to this).

Most of the way through the Carrick Creek Trail and I was finally getting the hang of this trail running. Its easy....BAM, I start daydreaming on a straight stretch and fall. How I tripped I don't know but I fell hard. Glasses off the face, sore hands and iphone on the edge of a steep drop off. Not good. When I came to my senses and had a quick look around to make sure nobody had seen me, I slowly and carefully rescued my phone. Further on a nice clear river was useful for an impromptu wash. Hoping my already bad knee was ok after a hard knock I heading onwards.
Lookin good!
Funnily I actually felt better after my fall, because I expected the run to be awful and something horrible had happened I felt like I could just get on with it. I finished the Carrick Creek Trail and also did a nice trail around the lake in the park. I ran around enjoying the view and headed back to camp. I think I did ok considering all the walking and the fact that it was on trails, the only thing that I wasn't happy with was my performance on hills. To me that is seriously scary because I'm heading towards a marathon in the freakin mountains. From now on I ONLY run hills...well I'll try for mostly hills.

I got back to camp, showered, had breakfast and hiked Carrick Creek Trail again with the other two. Everyone meeting us kept saying watch out for snakes..'I just seen two Copperheads just off the trail'. I was petrified for me and the dog....and to think I had happily run along these trails this morning not even considering that there might be snakes (stupid I know, but we don't have snakes in Ireland except in the zoo). That took most of the enjoyment out of it and my nerves were frayed by the end. We continued on anyhow to Caesar's Head State Park a few miles down the road. We hiked a nice easy trail to a overlook of Raven Cliff Falls and also saw a nice overlook of Table Rock Mountain near the visitor center. This time we did see snakes but harmless ones thank goodness. The views were spectacular and I felt much more relaxed when I realized we weren't going to die any minute.
Puppy Loving

Raven Cliff Falls

Sunday started off rainy, so after a lazy morning of reading we headed back to Columbia. Once the car was unpacked and everything cleaned, I headed to the outdoor pool for some cross-training. I even wore a bikini swimsuit...something I've never been brave enough to do before. With sore muscles and joints the low impact swimming was very welcome. This was my first time in an outdoor pool and I really loved it, I think I'll try do this at least once a helps that I can sneak in some post work-out sunbathing into the deal.

So that was pretty much my weekend. I hope yours was good and you got to spend some time in the great outdoors.

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