Summary November 3-9

Monday November 3, PM 3 Miles 200′ 21m21s
Generally Lethargic post-work outing. Monday’s are trending towards relatively lazy runs as a result of residual running fatigue from the weekend combined with my unreasonably early wake-up call to start the work week.

Tuesday November 4, AM 10 Miles, 863′ 1h15m
I was lucky enough to be able to work from home, so I sent a text message to my friend Jay (who also works remotely) to see if he wanted to snag some midday miles. It turns out that Jay’s out-the-front-door 10 miler is a lot hillier than mine.
PM Climbing Gym 1 Hour
I recently joined the local climbing gym, and have been making an effort to drop in as often as I can. Of course with my current (lack of) climbing fitness, an hour is about as long as I can continue to climb before my arms/hands start failing.

Wed Nov 5, AM 7 Miles, 653′ 54m33s
Mid-week grind sesh. Dead legs, and generally pretty tired, It’s obviously been too long since I’ve managed to maintain any sort of day-in day-out consistency, and the 10+7 kind of got to me
PM Climbing Gym 1 Hour
Didn’t feel sore all day, so I figured back to back climbing days would be fine/fun… turns out that routes I could climb easily yesterday are near impossible today.

Thurs Nov 6, PM 8.1 Miles, 506′ 1h1m
Broken-shin and a half with Jason Dave and Jeff. Stopped the watch to collect the guys for the usual 5 miler, which made things look a little goofy on strava. Started out feeling reasonably tired, and heavy-legged, but the final five miler turned into more of a fartlek than a recovery run, or at least the perceived effort seemed like it

Fri Nov 7, 3 Miles, 157′ 21m35s
Easy day shakeout before the inevitable Saturday long-run.

Sat Nov 8, 22.7 Miles, 4623′ 4h13m
Sometime in the middle of the week I got a text from Eric asking if I’d be interested in a 20-25 mile outing at the Delaware Water Gap. Normally, considering that my longest “run” since May has been in the 15 mile range, I would decline something this foolish, but it turn out that the Auto-Correct on my phone changes “that’s probably not the best idea” into “count me in” someone needs to fix that bug in iOS 8….. We took the longer/less steep blue trail up Tammany, passed a few people running the DWG 50K before taking the fire road out behind Sunfish Pond, and finishing the day with back to back ascents on Minsi and Tammany again via the AT and Red dot trails respectively. Much to my surprise my legs felt reasonably solid all day, and my energy levels were much more consistent than I would have expected considering how long it’s been since I’ve put out any real  long efforts on the trails.

Sun Nov 9, 6.2 Miles, 823’1h
Oih, tired today. Legs felt surprisingly solid, very little residual soreness, but generally lacking strength, especially on climbs. Otherwise, I just felt well…. tired, and rounding out the 10K was all I could really muster out of myself for the morning….

Totals: 60 Miles, 7825′ 9h7m

This is the first week since April that I’ve managed to string together consistent daily mileage without re-aggravating any lingering dings or niggles. While I know that 60 miles over 7 days is still a sub-maximal effort, I’m glad to recognize that I’ve got a reasonable base right now, which will give me something to build on for the 2015 racing season. After close to 5 months of inconsistent mileage, aches, niggles, and fear of re-aggravating old injuries, the familiar indicators of training are a comfort; walking down the stairs sideways in the morning, eating as if one of your legs is hollow, or even the most banal: sleeping through the night uninterrupted. While it’s obvious to me that I have some serious work to do to get back to top shape, having some consistency right now feels like a major victory.

Tammany with Eric Photo courtesy of random Stranger-Girl
Crossing the River
Summit of Minsi. Photo courtesy of Eric Ashley
Looking West off of Tammany
Post-run recovery with some BioSkins. Photo courtesy of Eric Ashley
Sunday Allamuchy

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Rising from the ashes

For the first time since May, I’m finally feeling like myself in my running shoes. This is perhaps a slight exaggeration; I’m still substantially over race weight, don’t really have any long legs yet, and seem to have forgotten how to pace myself for anything lasting more than 2 hours.Considering the past several months however, I’ll take what I can get. Injuries are… a bitch. Not only do you suffer the inevitable insult of not being able to run for whatever length of time it takes to resolve the affliction, each progressive day without training leads to atrophy and apathy, making getting things going again only that much harder. In my head, the whole getting back “into shape” bit turns into a downward spiral of not wanting to train because you’re “out of shape” (this is a relative term) which only results in being more “out of shape” causing me to want to train less, which inevitably ends up with me sitting on my couch, fueled by Dominoes and Bulleit while trying to convince my friends that at one point I was a competitive runner.

My most recent bout of injury-induced sloth, was, according to my Physio, a result of high-mileage and an atrophied VMO which manifested itself as IT Band pain on my left leg. So, after about 5 weeks of doing exceptionally un-sexy exercises the pain went away, but the damage was done… almost 2 months lost (after you consider how long it took me to go see a physio) plus an underlying fear of pushing things too soon, and ending up doing even more lunges/small squats instead of running.

Obviously, any sort of injury-setback is less than ideal, it disrupts your life, training, racing, and in my case, usually my general happiness as well. But there is usually a silver lining as well. Injuries present an opportunity to learn. Learn about your body, your musculature, your gait, and why things have gone wrong. Armed with this information, we can prevent, or at the very least intervene earlier, to stay healthier longer.

As for the present, I’m rather bullish about 2015. I’ve finally got some legs under me, and plans laid out to keep them there. I’m also proud to announce that I’ve recently become an ambassador for BioSkin and have been using their calf sleeves for recovery the past few weeks with incredible results. While I’m still figuring out my 2015 schedule, I’m sure that it will at the very least include The North Face ECSNY (Jordan I think it’s your turn to bring a headlamp?) and most likely the Whiteface Sky Marathon. Also on my short list are the Tammany 10, UTHC, TNF Ontario, and maybe a 100 stuck in there somewhere.

Also, notice the new blog layout, you can follow me on Strava as Andrew Siegmund,  on Twitter @SiegmundRuns and on Instagram @Siegmundruns.

Allamuchy, One day I’ll start actually tallying these…

Obligatory ‘Muchy Shot

Looking West

Never Gets Old

Bear Mountain 50 Mile Race Report 2014

2:45AM and my alarm is screaming it’s far-too-familiar xylophone ring-tone that I’ve specifically reserved for wake up calls. It’s time to roll out of bed, and start getting ready for a 50 mile run through the inevitably soaking wet trails in Bear Mountain State Park. Dave, Sean and I had booked the “official” race hotel this year, which besides just being plain nicer than the fleabags we’d stayed in previously, was exceptionally well equipped at 3AM with hot coffee, granola bars, and myriad treats to chow down on before leaving for the race. So, I had my typical cup of coffee, a small bowl of oatmeal with some Udo’s Oil, and double-checked my kit, which consisted of 4 gels, one handheld filled with plain water, about 15 S! Caps, a few Tums, a Singlet, Split Shorts, MT110’s, a Buff, and my Sunglasses.

After sitting around at the start line for a little less than an hour, 5AM finally struck, and the race was underway. I immediately settled in with the lead pack from the beginning, taking advantage of Jeff’s super-bright headlamp since mine had effectively died immediately at the starting line(and Jordan was pretty confident that the lamp would be superfluous anyway). The lead group of roughly 10 men ran surprisingly comfortable through the first aid station, and didn’t actually seem to start pushing the pace until the first road section, wherein things got decidedly quick in a hurry. I managed to stay with the leading men through the second aid station, and perhaps a bit afterwards before I decided that it would be best to stay within myself for the majority of the day, and at this point, continuing to run with the leaders would surely result in a pretty hard blowup.

Jordan McDougal, Jeff Gosselin and Myself in the early morning

After watching the lead pack slowly gain some distance on me, I began to really find my stride, and much more fully-embrace my tendency to power-hike steep inclines, and make up the difference on the downhill. The course had deviated some from the previous years, trading some technical single track and steep inclines for rocky double track, but the primary difference was the water. Having gotten ~1.5 inches of rain in the days prior to the race, there was practically no section of trail on the course where you could expect even a modicum of dryness.  For the next 10 or so miles, I found myself completely contained within my own head, never really running with anyone, and working my hardest to maintain a consistent effort, never letting myself get too excited, or too low. Most frustratingly however, coming into aid station 6 I was expecting to see my drop bag, which contained little more than a stick of body-glide, which I felt desperately in need of, but it wasn’t there yet, forcing me to ditch my singlet and grind on for another 7 miles hoping it would be there for my second pass. During those miles a never-ending side stitch began to develop, which I initially thought was salt-related, but upon further thought I’ve realized is a result of fatigue related to cross-training oversights (note: do more core work), but things rarely got bad enough to create the true sort of desperation I usually experience in the middle miles of a long race.

.25 Miles into the course…

The second pass through the aid station provided my much needed opportunity to re-lube my thighs, fill up my bottle, grab a couple of  gels and head back into the woods, wherein a decidedly bad report by one of the volunteers informed me that I was the “30something runner” through this point (I think he had been counting people starting the loop, not finishing the loop).

For the next several miles of meandering single and double track, I found my energies waning, and my side-stitch only seeming to get worse, taking a lot of pop out of my stride, especially since excluding last years TNFEC race I’ve not experienced this sort of discomfort.

Around Mile 34 things took a turn decidedly for the better when I was caught up to by the women’s leader Rory Bosio. After rather creepily announcing “I know you!” followed by an apology for being creepy, which included several backpedaling sentences about how I’m not actually that creepy, but you know, she’s kind of well known in circles of people who follow ultrarunning etc etc etc, we latched into the same pace, and began grinding our way back to Anthony Wayne. Rory’s presence was truly a game-changer, especially after having spent the majority of the day alone, and knowing that there was at least another 10K until I could pick up Jayson, having her as an indefatigable chatterbox was a breath of fresh air, as well as a brilliant opportunity to learn from one of the great ultrarunners.

Running into Anthony Wayne, and seeing both Jayson and Alli waiting for me was and incredible pick-me-up, especially since Jayson arriving as a pacer was a very much last minute addition to my race plans. What I didn’t anticipate at all was the intimacy with which Jayson knows the last 10 miles of the course, seemingly every 100 feet he had an observation, and directions as to what would be coming up next, as well as our best plan of action for attacking different sections of trail, and especially how to attack the intimidating Timp Pass. From the moment I picked up Jayson I was relieved of all decision making processes, directed when to drink, eat, run, hike, breathe, and heckle Rory as we continued to yo-yo eachother for the last ten miles of the course. When we finally came upon Timp Pass, Jayson’s planning started to become obvious, we had closed the gap on a few more runners, and found ourselves grinding up the hill, only to barrel down the super-steep technical backside, effectively putting the screws to the couple of runners we had passed on the ascent. We then blew right through the final aid station, knowing it was less than 5K to the finish, and that things had been going well enough that I could relatively comfortably run those last few miles without any additional fluid or calories. 8h20m from the start of the race I crossed the finish line with Jayson, and Rory a mere 16 seconds behind, landing me in 14th place overall, with a 43m35s PR on course.

Jayson, Rory and Myself at the finish

Summary April 7-13

Monday April 7, 7 Miles 466′ 53m8s
Relatively stiff dead-legged shakeout. Saturday’s effort didn’t leave me as knackered as I originally anticipated, but there’s definitely some residual fatigue kicking around in my legs.
PM 1 Mile, 7m45s
Post-work shakeout on the suffer-machine, hoping to move the blood around and get some pop back for tomorrow.

Tuesday April 8, 9.7 Miles, 3537′ 2h1m
Three loops around Tammany, experimenting with some “euro” rules (cutting switchbacks etc). Generally awful legs, I felt pretty resilient on the downhill, but overall pep-less for the inclines. I also forgot how uncomfortable a hard workout can be on decidedly un-recovered legs.

Wed April 9, 10 Miles 571′ 1h15m
Typical neighborhood road-loop through town. Pressed for time between jobs, still feeling rather fatigued.

Thurs April 10, 10 Miles, 1319′ 1h27m
Allamuchy: Waterloo TH>White>Yellow>White>Green>SSX>Iron Mine>SSX>TH. Attempting a near-race-pace effort on a reasonably similar course on tired legs. Overall a successful effort, but again, still noticing the fatigue (this is a deliberate trend…).
PM 8 Miles, 530′ 64m
Modified Broken Shin loop with the guys, trying to generally take it easy and not push anything.

Fri April 11, 10.3 Miles, 1227′ 1h25m
Double-Powerline loop. All that my log book says is “worst legs to date, taking it “easy.”” In hindsight, still a respectable effort, and considering my upcoming race schedule, it’s probably been a good idea to really get some grind-time in.

Sat April 12, 12 Miles, 248′ 1h23m
2 Mile Warm-up followed by 10 Miles of MP progression. Last 3 mile splits were 6:37, 6:18 and 6:20 respectively. Unsurprisingly fatigued legs considering the trend throughout the week, which of course was by no means a recommended way to start a hard workout. Although, encouragingly enough, the last time I did this particular workout with the same guys, we were ~20 seconds/mile slower in the last 5k, and I was noticeably suffering, whereas this time around, even with the faster pace, and arguably much more tired legs, I finished stronger. 2 Miles, Shakeout, 16m01s
PM 4 Miles, 528′ 42m
Desultory outing at Allamuchy. Hoping to put in substantially more mileage at a rather relaxed pace, but instead dealt with the worst feeling legs I can recall, period.

Sun April 13, 10 Miles, 991′ 1h23m
Tourne loops in between jobs, nice to feel the sun on my back (although my sunburned shoulders may disagree)
PM 2 Miles Barefoot 16m19s

Totals: 86.1 Miles, 9,314’12h13m

Very much a mercurial week, especially since I basically felt like shit for the entire duration. I’m rather pleased with the consistency of my shorter efforts, while equally displeased with my inability to string together quite enough climb, or quite a long enough run this close to my next race. Saturday was kind of a bust, having to bisect my day with teaching, and I’m not wholly sure that running hard in the morning was the best idea, especially considering the flat/fast nature of the workout. What I can say however, is that with the amount of residual fatigue in my legs beginning the run, I’ve not felt that sort of discomfort/desperation outside of a racing situation period, and there has to be some sort of advantage to that.


Summary February 24 – March 2

Monday February 24, 6 Miles 299′ 45m14s
Supposedly a recovery run, but in reality a pseudo-justified day to lay off of the residual fatigue that’s been accruing in my legs for a few weeks. Overall kind of a lackluster effort considering the light 7 miles I put in the previous day.

Tuesday Feb 25, 11 Miles, 521′ 1h22m
First run of the day, this time with a little more pop in my legs (relatively speaking) I figured I’d reroute a local 10 mile course to grab the extra mile since I was planning to help my brother move into his new condo in the afternoon, and time was a bit of a factor here.
PM 3 Miles, 194′ 21m22s
Post-moving shakeout thing. Still feeling kind of dead in the legs, but noticing that on secondary runs I seem to be able to push a little bit more even when things feel bad (most likely a result of simply trying to get things over with/generate body heat over a short distance).

Wed Feb 26, 4 Miles, 246′ 31m
Unusually tired in between jobs today, generally a combination of fatigue and under-motivation led to an uncharacteristically light day.

Thurs Feb 27, 21 Miles, 1086′ 2h38m
Long run with Dave. Left from Dave’s house to loop out Snake-Hill Road, skirt around Picatinny, and drop back in through White Meadow Lake. Usually Dave and I try to get together for ambitious slightly insane mountain outings, but with the current snow-pack it just seemed ridiculous to slog it out in the woods for several hours, especially considering that both of our upcoming race goals include entirely runnable courses. Overall I felt pretty good, even with a pretty good dip in energy at the courses high point.

Fri Feb 28, 7 Miles, 459′ 52m26s
Primarily a leg-test/shakeout before the usual Saturday grind. My legs felt pretty raw, but energy levels were consistent, and considering the previous days effort, things felt pretty smooth. Residual fatigue is certainly becoming a factor in daily training, but that’s been the plan all along, so now it’s primarily a matter of staying healthy, and increasing daily/weekly/monthly volume.

Sat March 1, 18 Miles, 1500′ 2h10m
Chester>Long Valley>Chester. Another one of the patented “Yea, I’m aware of an elevation chart when I map out a course, but I usually ignore the Y axis…” course designed by Jay. Super-scenic as far as road running is concerned, causing me to remember how nice and agrarian greater Long Valley/Califon/Pottersville really is. Group-wise, a surprisingly low-energy day, most likely a combination of people having “off-days” while trying to keep up with Jay feeling extraordinarily good. I could definitely notice Thursday’s outing in my legs, especially in the teens, but surprisingly grinding through it didn’t take an unusual amount of grit/gumption, but rather just seemed like the obvious necessity, and well within bounds.

Sun March 2, 1 Mile 7m37s
Unusually jam-packed work day combined with general fatigue, cold weather, and a sensation that I should probably let myself rest.

Totals: 71 Miles, 8h47m 4374′
Overall not a bad week, this marks two consecutive 70+ mile weeks, and a general upward trend in my mileage throughout the year (week to week). The weather is of course frustratingly keeping me resigned to regular daily pavement sessions, which are generally not the kinds of runs that I find inspiring, or particularly motivating.In spite of this, I’ve been able to manage some serious consistency (a fringe benefit of pavement sessions seems to be the general equivalence in effort required mile to mile) in the past 6 or so weeks, which is having a rather noticeable effect on my aerobic capacity, in spite of my general lack of vert/techy shit. Ideally things will clear out soon, otherwise I’m going to need to begin to follow in Dave’s footsteps and start doing some sisyphean hill repeats on the pavement (I’d sore prefer to do them on a mountain).

No Pictures in a while, so instead, enjoy some tasty notes from Grace Potter

Summary Jan 27 – Feb 2

Monday Jan 27, 6 Miles, 289′ 40m37s
Usual around-town loop straight from the house, legs feeling especially poppy today, but also very much pressed on time.

Tuesday Jan 28, 12 Miles, 449′ 1h30m
Improvised around-town route, ~15°F which while very much bearable, did require me to run several miles before feeling loose/warmed up. Legs were surprisingly achy overall, but still yielded rather consistent splits, within 30 seconds total once averaged for gradient, even better was the consistency from miles 4-12, which eliminates the warm-up and largest climb of the day.

Wed Jan 29, 8 Miles, 663′ 1h1m
Easy repeats on the local-most road incline. Trying to increase my weekly vert on run-able terrain without really pushing anything else. Legs were feeling rather dead, just generally unresponsive, albeit surprisingly consistent (one of the things I’m learning about with my new-found garmin stats)
PM 3 Miles H20 Treadmill 20m
Alternating 30 second and 1 min pickups with added resistance (water jet)

Thurs Jan 30, 3 Miles, 801′ 32m33s
Double summit of Allamuchy from Waterloo Rd TH (not Sussex TH) maximal effort on climb/descent with R&R on the summit/base of the mountain. Could have done several more, but had to boogie back home for a meeting via Skype.
PM 8.1 Miles 427′ 1h5m 
Shakeout loop, modified broken shin. Legs felt fine, mild heartburn, but nothing serious/out of the ordinary.

Fri Jan 31, 4 Miles, 239′ 30m03s
Easy shakeout day, trying to keep the blood flowing, and not let myself fall into over-training too early in the season.

Sat Feb 1, 15 Miles, 389′ 1h44m
Horseshoe lake start with Saturday marathon training group. First 5 miles were planned to be 7:45ish pace (reality: 8:06, 7:33, 7:28, 7:12, 7:03) with the following 10 being a progression from 6:55-6:30 or so, hoping to average 6:45. Reality was as follows:
6:44
6:44
6:35
6:34
6:39
6:50
6:44
6:32
6:32
7:14
On paper, I thought this would be a rather ambitious workout, especially considering that it’s January, and frankly I’m not in my best shape during winter, but excepting some GI distress, I felt remarkably good throughout, and was surprisingly loose/un-sore afterwards.
PM 2 Miles 15m H20 ‘Mill
Shakeout time, starting to really dig this water thing…

Sun Feb 2, 9 Miles, 324′ 1h18m
Patriots Path with Brian, trying to shakeout the legs, and anticipating some soreness/sluggishness from Saturday’s run, but it never really happened. PP has been well traveled, which unfortunately means that I should have worn spikes, as much of the path has the snow compacted into an ice-covered tunnel, which while fun, is less than ideal for forward motion.

Totals: 70.1 Miles, 3573′ 8h56m
It’s ineffable how good it feels to finally be back to “training” mileage, even if the overwhelming majority of it is taking place on local roads instead of trails. Overall, my legs seem to be responding favorably to increased volume/intensity, and I’m becoming increasingly confident in the training plan I’ve (loosely) laid out for myself going into some spring 50 milers, and eventually the big 100 in July. There are no shortcuts to regaining fitness, and I absolutely need to keep that in mind, and remember to not push things too hard too early, as well as making sure that I respect the distance/terrain of my upcoming races, and the specificity of training required to race well under those circumstances.

Back on the local hill

Summary Jan 13-26

Monday Jan 13, OFF
Last day taking it easy after some really awkward/inexplicable left oblique pain leftover after Freezing Cold Hash… most likely getting tackled by Gene/Dave/Jeff/JB/random strangers/falling off of a fence/generally being blatantly irresponsible caused some sort of strain/pull that had been nagging at me for a week, took a 45min Spin class instead, and felt good.

Tuesday Jan 14, 4.2 Miles 1050′ 43m20s
First trek up and down Allamuchy in 2014, being back on proper trail is extremely invigorating, and I’m increasingly realizing the necessity of creating trail-time as a priority in contrast to the lazy out-the-door road running exploits that have dominated my running generally since mid-autumn.

Wed Jan 15, 7 Miles, 420′ 52m06s
Feeling kind of laborious, but not particularly sluggish, inconsistency as of late is catching up to me

Thurs Jan 16, 12 Miles, 1800′ 2h09m
Dunnfield Creek>Raccoon Ridge>Dunn-Creek via AT. Long-ish training run with Dave, basically trying to get the sustained climb under my legs (~4 miles of pretty relentless uphill from TH>Sunfish Pond). Would have been appreciably quicker had the footing been better, but a recent CM or so of slushy snow made it near impossible to gain purchase on the rocks.

Fri Jan 17, 1 Mile, 7m36s
Easy-Peasy

Sat Jan 18, 10.25 Miles, 475′ 1h33m
Out and back on Patriots Path with Roadie, leaving from Speedwell Ave TH>Lewis Morris Park. Great day for an easy pace, especially in the incredibly picturesque snow (but forgot the damn camera).

Sun Jan 19, 20.1 Miles, 771′ 2h36m
Started from Jeff”s house with Jeff/Dave and ran through the local roads, including typical HH routes/loops. Somehow I’ve managed to maintain some reasonable long-legs, while nothing felt particularly good, nothing felt particularly bad either.

Totals: 54.4 Miles, 4514′ 8-hours

Monday Jan 20, 6 Miles, 295′ 41m0s
Tired/stressed, short on time.

Tues Jan 21, 10 Miles, 584′ 1h18m
The forecast called for relentless snowfall all day, which resulted in one of my best icicle-beards to date, also inadvertently found a pretty ideal 10-mile loop straight from the house.

Wed Jan 22, 7 Miles, 420′ 54m13s
No pop left in the legs, and bitterly cold (single digits)
PM 3 Miles 24m
H20 Treadmill…. The gym I work at happens to have three HydroWorx underwater treadmills, which while I wasn’t too impressed with at first, have recently found to be ideal for general shake-out type work. The water adds a noticeable amount of drag to your leg travel, and supposedly reduces your bodyweight to 20% which limits the impact on your joints/bones. Normally I’m pretty anti-technology, but anything that will let me add a few more miles without getting hurt is worth trying in my book…

Thurs Jan 23, 8.6 Miles, 755′ 1h18m
Columbia Trail>Schooley’s Mountain and back. Breaking trail pretty much the whole way, plus the added weight of MICROspikes.
PM 5 Miles 43m37s
HH Broken Shin Loop with Dave and Jeff, effortless throughout the whole run.

Fri Jan 24, 2 Miles 14m40s
Shakeout, tight schedule, tight legs, big head.

Sat Jan 25, 11 Miles, 833′ 1h25m
Left the house to run to Chester and back before meeting some friends for brunch. My legs are generally adapting pretty well to the increased abuse, and are surprisingly staying niggle-free.

Sun Jan 26, 1 Mile, 7m58s
Shakeout/big head

Totals: 53.7 Miles, 3323′ 7h7m

I’ve managed to string together two consecutive (well, at time of writing, nearly 3) reasonable weeks. While I’m nowhere near maximal volume, I dare say that this is probably the best “January” shape that I can recall being in, and with that, I’m increasingly optimistic about how my body will continue to respond to increases in mileage/intensity in the upcoming weeks/months. In other news, I’ve officially registered for the Vermont 100 which is definitely dominating my thoughts as far as racing in the future are concerned. Commitments to other (shorter) races will be announced int he forthcoming future.

Schooley’s

The mandex photo’s are coming back


Race Report: NJ Trail Series Mountain Madness 2013

When I woke up at 4:30 AM sans alarm clock on Saturday morning I finally realized that I was actually pretty anxious/nervous to toe the line at this years Mountain Madness 50K. MoMa has a reputation as being one of the tougher 50k’s in the Northeast, which is definitely represented in it’s 4h39m course record (held by Mike Dixon) which, for a low-altitude race is patently indicative of how tough of a course it is. Race reports, both published in blogs as well as orally dictated to me by myriad runners of varying abilities articulated only one thing for sure: rocks. Surprisingly, peoples impression of the course ranged from calling it near-impossible, to wheelchair accessible, so obviously some of the opinions I found were outliers to say the least.Considering this, it looked to me like I should be expectant of a rocky course with a substantial (6000′) amount of climbing.

Rick McNulty provided the oral countdown leading precisely into 9AM (apparently he’s consistently punctual about start times) and we were soon rounding Shepherd Lake and heading into the woods. Within a mile or so (after hearing some runners in the chase pack yelling “too fast!” at us) the lead pack had reduced to a trio of Myself, Seth (who looks like Tarzan carrying a camelbak) and Bill Cuthbert. We headed up the initial climb at a staggeringly fast pace, and maintained what to me seemed like a relatively reckless clip through the first aid station (5.6 miles) wherein no one took any aid, and continued through several miles of the next leg until Seth and Bill gained ~200′ on me as Mike Dixon caught up, only for Bill and Seth to miss a turn (which Julian, who was taking pictures eventually reeled in and re-directed).

Mike and I dialed things back to a more manageable pace heading into AS2 wondering if Bill and Seth would go too far off course, and taking some comfort in the lead that we had developed over the chase pack (at AS1 we were “reportedly” 5 mins ahead of Mike, and the chase-pack proper was supposedly several minutes behind him at this point). I refilled my bottle, downed a cup of Coke, and a couple of cups of water, snatched a few gels, and the two of us were out of AS2 reasonably quickly. I had been expecting to see Mike on the course, and since his reputation preceded him as a dominant runner at pretty much any race up to the 50-Mile distance (as well as a solid sub-24-hour showing at the WS100 in 2012) I was glad to be able to run with him most of the way into AS3 before I started to lose the pace, giving him about a minute lead going into AS3.

Seeing Mike leaving as I came in, I tried my best to keep myself together, drink a bit, fill up my bottle, grab a couple of gels and give chase, but admittedly I was already starting to feel some stomach issues rising, primarily what seemed like an insatiable thirst, and a surprising reluctance to continue forcing down gels. The route from AS3-AS4 was an out-and back consisting primarily of fire roads with a stretch of single-track in between. Roughly 1/3 of the way to AS4, Seth caught up to me, and the two of us took full advantage of the downhill, basically running recklessly into AS4, while I was mentally coming to grips with the fact that this 3-ish mile downhill was going to turn into a 3-ish mile uphill before I knew it, and a low point was definitely coming up.

Seth came into AS4 and left without taking anything, roughly 30 second ahead of me, not feeling so great, and already noticing some of the early onsets  of dehydration (dark urine, constant thirst) I took a few moments to collect myself, grabbed a fresh bottle from Dena (who was slinging bottles for the day) socked back a few cups of water, and started my way back up the hill. The nice side of the Out-and-Back is that you can see any competition/friends, as well as how they’re doing. As I was leaving, Bill was charging into the aid station, followed by Jason, Lindsay, and David Allara, all of whom have had some rather successful races in the recent past, and from what I knew going into the race, Dixon, Hamoudi, and Allara should be the Raritan Valley triumvirate to look out for. I also had the pleasure of running into the Parakeet, as well as Robbie and Adam from the Salt crew on this stretch, and their encouragement was more than welcome to say the very least.

In spite of the obvious proximity of formidable competition, my own waxing misery was starting to get the best of me, especially with respect to the seemingly interminable climb (which, for the record was a blast to go down) so as I was getting close to AS5, Bill eeked by me a few hundred yards before the aid station. Coming into AS5, I could see Dixon and Seth heading out, and Bill refueling unbelievably quickly and hustling after them. Feeling dejected and dehydrated, I had my bottle refilled by a kindly volunteer, drank a few cups of water, and rudely informed (upon being asked) another volunteer that you could get a buff with a visor from the internet (the same place you can buy anything) before I headed back out on the trail to try and hunt my way back into podium position.

Feeling fundamentally miserable, I recognized that it’s precisely this point in any given race wherein you can really test your gumption, and after mulling over the idea of DNF-ing at the next aid station, I began to slowly, but surely start grinding my way back into the game. Fortunately, this section was (at the start) pretty steep and technical, so power-hiking no longer felt like I was surrendering to fatigue, but rather a smart game plan. I began to regain some strength and energy, finally reeling Bill back in on one of the extended declines. Little to my surprise however, on the next incline Bill quickly went out of sight (and apparently soon after took a wrong turn). Before long, I could see Shepherd Lake again, and started to pick things up headed into the aid station.

Upon retrieving my bottle, slugging back a cup or 2 of water, and ditching my singlet, I was informed that I was in 3rd place, with the leaders only 5 mins ahead of me (it turns out that this was a grossly wrong estimate of the amount of a lead that Mike had on me), so elated,I left the aid station at full-steam(and letting out a primal scream). As I was leaving, I saw Lindsay coming in, figuring that I had ~90 seconds on him, and that if I really went hard I just might catch up to the leaders, I was acutely aware that I was both hunting, and being hunted. With every squirrel that moved, or breeze that blew a tree, I was convinced that someone was catching me on the final seven mile loop headed into the finish, running scared is a wonderfully exciting, as well as stressful endeavor. In the final 7 miles there were several sections that utilized switchbacks, with my fear of being caught up to, I found myself incessantly looking back on every turn whilst trying to keep a low profile, foolishly hopeful that this might make me harder to see (it doesn’t). After just over an hour of running like my life depended on it, I came across the finish line to find myself in 2nd place, 5:15:15 elapsed, and laid down next to the finish line to take off my shoes and soak in some sun.

Bill came in 2 minutes later (5:17:16) Seth DNF’d, Lindsay came in 4th (5:24:36). Jason finished 9th in 5:45:15, Adam 20th (6:32:49) Robbie 30th (6:45:06) and the Parakeet DNF’d after reportedly taking no water for the first 6 hours.

A special thanks goes out to the following: Jeff Perry, for his incredible advice with regards to tapering, and race planning, Dena Orkin, for tossing bottles all day, and Jayson Kolb, for the race description, and the Saturday long run guys for their companionship the past few weekends out.

Taking off the shoes right after finishing (Photo Credit: Dena Orkin)
Sun-soak post-race (Photo credit: Dena Orkin)
Chewing the fat Post-Race with Dixon and company (Photo credit: Dena Orkin)

Summary Sept 9-15

Monday Sept 9, AM 7 Miles, 940′ 45m20s
Usual road route from the house, and first day putting any “real” (as in definitively not-jogging) effort on the ankle. Legs felt incredibly fresh (Several days off will do that) and the ankle feels solid.
PM 7 Miles, 940′ 44m32s
I’ve always tended to run by “feel” mostly because of my reluctance to buy a GPS watch, and partially out of a philosophical desire to diminish the amount of external information regarding my run available to me on the actual run. This being said, I had planned to go out really easily ~30-40seconds per mile slower than the mornings run, but to be frank, it simply felt good to move a bit harder.

Tuesday Sept 10 AM 11.5 Miles, 1140′ 1h31m
Super-humid and generally awful (see: dehydrated) feeling road run. Legs were feeling solid, but my head/stomach/rest of my body just wasn’t along for the ride.
PM 4.5 Miles, 1420′ 45m Super-easy run with the Salt guys. Also, first time on trail after the ankle-roll… overall it felt solid, although an off-camber step on one rock did cause me concern for a few steps.

Wed Sept 11 AM 7 Miles, 940′ 48m18s
Again, a relatively easy jaunt from the house, feeling pretty solid, with nothing to particularly complain about.
PM 1.5 Miles, 14m Dreadmill session after hitting the weights. 10 mins at 15% incline (varying speed to whatever I could hang on to)

Thurs Sept 12 AM 20 Miles, 2280′ 2h48m 
Primarily I wanted to see what kind of long legs/brain I had in the middle of the week, with humidity. A combination of under-hydration and thunderstorms slowed me down a bit, but my stomach remained solid, and even allowed me to drink a liter mid-run (refuel stop) as well as two 20oz bottles on the run without complaining whatsoever (that said, the heat/humidity still drained me out pretty well)
PM 3 Miles, 160′ 25m37s Hashers run–abbreviated due to some gnarly thunderstorms coming in

Fri Sept 13 AM 7 Miles, 940′ 50m07s 
Primarily shaking the funk out of my legs from Thursdays outing before sitting in the lifeguard chair for the day.

Sat Sept 14 AM 17 Miles, 3250′ 2h5m
Saturday Long run group. Left from Chester for a road-route through Pottersville (Hacklebarney, Black River Area) Really should have brought my camera, because it was by far and away the prettiest road run I’ve done in NJ thus far. I was expecting that the residual fatigue from Thurs would be heavy in my legs, but in actuality I felt remarkably good all day. Last mile was a bit of a hunger-thirst push, but nothing that actually having a gel in my pocket, and carrying water wouldn’t have fixed.

Sun Sept 15 AM 10 Miles, 1100′ 1h14m 
A little tired/banged up from the day before, but nothing substantially annoying, as seems to be the trend for the week… should have drank more water.

Totals: 95.5 Miles, 13,110′
Generally a big-road oriented week, which  wouldn’t be my usual preference going into a trail-ultra, but I wanted to make sure that I took care of my ankle as best as I could whilst running on it, and that usually means staying off of the gnar whenever possible. Much to my amazement, my ankle seems to have healed up pretty well, no more bruising, hardly any noticeable weakness, and absolutely no post-workout discomfort. In spite of this weeks lack of trail mileage (~5%) I’m feeling remarkably comfortable/confident going into MoMa in 2 weeks. My legs are climbing and descending really well, and perhaps more importantly, this was the most comfortable near-100 mile week I can remember.

Summary August 26 – September 8

Monday August 26, 10 Miles, 1,100′ 1h7m 
Neighborhood loop after a few days off trying to shake a niggle out of the lateral side of my right calf. Feeling solid on a moderately sustained effort.
PM 4 Miles, 350′ 32m40s Evening Shakeout

Tuesday August 27, 11.6 Miles, 3920′ 2h3m Pretty hard blow-up out at Allamuchy, after a few weeks of unseasonable coolness, August decided to return to let me know how little of my heat acclimation was still around.

Wed August 28,  3.3 Miles 2440′ 42m32s Singular loop out at Mt. Tammany, thunderstorms brought the fun to an end far before planned.

Thurs August 29, 5 Miles 360′ 38m29s Broken Shin Loop

Fri August 30 AM 6 Miles, 350′ 42m28s Easy road run through the local neighborhoods
PM 6 Miles, 1560′ 56m10s Tourne park with Brian. Taking things kind of easy for the afternoon in attempt to have some pep in my legs for Saturdays outing with some new folks.

Sat August 31, 18 Miles, 3000′ 2h18m I was invited by a neighbor of mine to join his marathon training group for some Saturday long runs, and all things considered, who am I to decline a chance to meet some new running partners. He described it as a training group for “2:50-3:05” marathoners, with no particular club affiliation (which is always nice) It did turn out that they’re loosely associated with Runners Haven (the stores owner is one of the founders of the training group) which is a local mom and pop style running store, and a rather nice one to boot. Everyone was remarkably friendly, as well as consistent throughout the run, which took us all over Randolph including the towns trail system and some pretty gnarly-steep road climbs.Overall things felt pretty good, although I should have probably hydrated a little more effectively, as the last 5k or so felt pretty tough.
18 mins (2 Miles) Barefoot

Sunday Sept 1, 7 Miles, 940′ 50m
Surprisingly banged up from he previous days 20, c’est la vie

Monday Sept 2, 2.5 Miles, 18m
Treadmill workout (thunderstorms) before I got called into work mid-stride.
PM 4.6 Miles, 1340′ 44m41s Tourne with Brian… turns out that it was stormy at the pool as well, so we decided that we might as well go running.

Tuesday Sept 3, 15 Miles, 5100′ 2h33m Dunfield Creek>Next Fire Road Via AT and back. I forgot how gnarly a lot of this terrain really is, which really seemed to slow me down, nevermind the fact that it was a pretty serious net-gain (~1000′ pos diff). I would have been able to make up a good amount of time had I not rolled my ankle near Sunfish Pond and been reduced to a gimpy limp for the remaining 4 miles to my car (and thus losing out on one of the best sustained descents in the state). When I got home, my left ankle had swollen to the size of a baseball, and wouldn’t agree with taking on any weight.

Wed- OFF

Thurs- OFF

Fri Sept 6, 1 Mile, 7m44s
 Feeling surprisingly okay, no pain in my ankle, no sense of major distrust on lateral movements.

Sat Sept 7, 3.1 Miles, 20m44s Again, pain free…. maybe diving into hardcore recovery has worked out?

Sun Sept 8, 7 Miles 940′ 47 Feeling rather good, no pain, no additional swelling.

Overall, kind of a disappointing first week (volume-wise) and second week through a major curveball with the whole respraining my ankle bit. This is the third time this summer that I’ve rolled the same ankle, with each successive turn being marginally worse than the one that preceded it. Fortunately, I’ve learned how to appropriately deal with it, mostly a combination of Ice, Hot/Cold Therapy, immediate rehab with regards to maintaining/recovering range of motion, Arnica, and consuming a certifiable fuckton of pineapple, turmeric, and Omega 3’s (all natural anti-inflammatories). Right now, things feel solid again, and tomorrow evening I’m thinking of testing things out on some trail which will hopefully inform me enough to make my final decision regarding Mountain Madness at the end of the month (although at time of writing I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to toe the line in the shape I’d like to be in)

Kittatinny Ridge just North of Sunfish Pond

Coolers make the best ice baths

Tammany