Patrick Fellows is a 5 time Ironman, TEDx giving, 32 miles swimming, endurance coaching, healthy cooking, entrepreneur and musician.  Born in Dearborn, MI, raised in Mississippi and a Louisianian for 30 years, 

trail running+ironman training=what not to do

Many of you may or may not know I will be doing Ironman Florida on November 6th of this year.  This makes my road trips with my Mizuno job interesting to say the least.  I have spent countless hours running down hwy's and riding in the dark in places that I probably shouldn't.  I do however get to run and ride in some cool places I was on the road this week in beautiful Alabama.  I had to fit in several workouts around 1200 miles of driving, and hold myself back from doing anything too stupid.  I achieved this by not bringing a mountain bike and killing myself on the trails of Monte Sano State park in Huntsville.  I also opted not to ride on the Longleaf Trace in Hattiesburg, MS due to rain.  I was clearly going to get through this trip unscathed....well until I decided that I would do a trail run for my long run on Thursday in Birmingham.

The worst long run that I have attempted in a foreign land was a 14 mile run up and down a service road in Bentonville, August.  It was 90 something, 100 % humidity by 8 am and I forgot about the Ozark was a sufferfest.  So this time around I thought, "I will run the trails in Oak Mountain State Park, it is beautiful, it will be great."  All of the last sentence is true.  It was beautiful and it was also almost ended my race 3 weeks prior to it ever beginning.

I got to the park @ 6 am when it opened and it was still pitch black (first bad sign).  I put on a headlamp and decided to run up Peavine Falls Rd.  This is an asphalt and gravel road that turns out to be 100% up on the way out, and therefore all down on the way back.  I did an hour of this and the sun had risen, 90 minutes left, I headed for the Red Trail.

Now the last time I was here I ran the Yellow Trail, which of course was the hardest mofo they have.  It is straight up or straight down and all single-track.  Loved it, but knew this was not what a "careful guy" would do.  I head out on the Red Trail and things are going all smooth for about five miles when, woops, I step on something and look down and see the inside of my foot pointing up to the sky.  Thankfully, I have rubber joints.  The woods heard a few F-bombs, but neither of us were worse for wear.  I keep on going.

Now as you may or may not know, single track trails have many fun things (read ankle breakers) on them.  Stones, rocks, and roots galore.  What many of you also may or may not know is that after 16 miles of running up and down Oak "MOUNTAIN,"  these become treacherous obstacles.  I was a mere mile from home when my right toe caught one of these aforementioned roots and I was airborne.

Many thoughts enter your mind while in the air;

"I am going to break an arm." "I am going to break my face!" "Where did that effing root come from?!?" "Why in god's name do people like the Black Eyed Peas?!?" and so on.

Thankfully, one of my last thoughts was, "Turn over and land on your back."  I did so and ended up looking at the trees and the overcast Alabama sky.  Adrenaline will get you through a lot.  Thankfully I was out after nearly breaking my ankle 5 miles earlier so I was able to make a quick assessment (read pull leaves and dirt out of asscrack), get up and finish the last mile without event.


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