AM- Everyone was busy, so it was a solo Sat long run. My ward boy scout troop backpacked in to Virginia Hawkins falls on the FHT, so I figured I'd go visit. It was supposed to be cold, windy, and rainy, but ended up not so bad- the rain sstopped just as I started and it was 50 deg. As bad as I felt Tue-Thur this week, I felt fine today. It took me 75 min to go 7 miles in to the troop, where I stopped and chatted a few minutes. They told me it had rained hard all night. I kept going on the FHT till just before the NC border, then turned around, catching the troop half way back, walking with them for a few minutes. A few older boys who are on the track team and wanted to beat me had left the rest behind earlier. I caught them with several miles to spare- not really a fair fight, with them carrying backcpacks. It started raining just as I finished. 21.5 miles and 3600 ft climbing in 3:42. Everything felt fine during the run but my fickle knee really tightened up after and is still sore. I'll definitely have to milk this through MMT.
The most notable item of the run: with less than 400 yards to go, I was steadily running up a hill, just looking ahead, grinding up. Suddenly, "wham!" I was brought to a complete stop and almost leveled with a blow to the head that jarred my teeth and hurt like the dickens. Unsure what had just happened, I looked up and observed a 4-inch diameter branch crossing the trail at hairline height that I had completely missed. It was just high enough to not be in my view as I looked down, and just low enough to contact my noggin. I think my visor is the only thing that prevented blood, though I do have a bit of a bump. That may be the hardest I've ever run head-first into something on the trails.