Maine

Saddleback Mountain 4,116′

Saddleback Mountain 4,116′ Photo: Some Connecticut folks…

Saddleback Mountain 4,116′

Descending from Saddleback>Rt 4 Via AT

Crossing from The Horn>Saddleback (AT)

Saddleback Mountain (4,116′) Overlooking The Horn (4,041′)

Saddleback Mountain overlooking Saddleback Pond (foreground) and Rangeley Lake (back left)
Saddleback Mountain (4,116′) in Weather

See above

Ditto

Rangeley’s locational claim to fame
Not a bad base for a few days…

Basically since the dawn of time (according to my families narrative) or maybe it was the 1970’s… but I think the dawn of time sounds way better (nevermind the fact that it precedes my birth… and in many ways, caused it) my family has vacationed in a little lake/mountain town in Maine called Rangeley.Wikipedia describes the area the following way:

 “Centrally located between the headwaters of both the Androscoggin River and Kennebec River, the town lies on the eastern shores of Rangeley Lake in the Western Maine Mountains. Smalls Falls, lying just south of the town on Route 4, is a popular tourist destination. A sign in town notes that Rangeley is halfway between the Equator and North Pole.”

You see, my parents actually met in this small New England town while vacationing with their respective best friends, and stories of their vacations throughout their teens and twenties pepper the narrative of both their courtship and eventual marriage, as well as the several years preceding my brothers birth. These stories provided a remarkably solid baseline for the obvious opportunity for adventure that the proximity to mountains, and large bodies of water combined with a relative lack of modern conveniences (internet and cell-phone service even these days are erratic at best) can provide.

For a few weeks every summer since I was a teenager (we did take a vacation hiatus for a while, checking out several different destinations during my adolescence before landing back in Rangeley) My family spent their time floating on the lake, hiking local mountains, and when I got older, drinking whiskey beside a fire pit. These days however, I’ve been much more prone to taking advantage of my families vacation for its proximity to great Mountain running, most notably Saddleback Mountain, which lies only a few miles out of town, and boasts a relief of 2,446′.

While I won’t bore you with the gritty details of the running, I’m pretty proud of the cumulative Vert of 30,200′ in 5 days running, complete with 5 summits of Saddleback Mountain, 2 Summits of The Horn, and a rather dead-legged circumnavigation of the lake (24 miles, 6,300′) in that time frame. Unfortunately, it seems to have been a little more than my body would have liked, and has left me with a few niggles that I’m sorting out at present, but I should be back at full volume in a few days, complete with returning to regular posting.

Summary July 8-21

Monday July 8 AM 10 Miles, 2960′ 1h19m 
Usual double-power-line loop, average pace
PM 4 Miles, 350′ 31m26s 
Shakeout-ish evening run, nothing particularly special, just a cop-out sort of way to get a few extra miles in.

Tuesday July 9 AM 7 Miles, 980′ 49m12s 
Pretty normal around-town pavement session, settling into a pretty regular 7-ish minute pace on the route, which feels relatively easy on this particular route, for whatever that’s worth, I guess the consistency is nice though.
PM 8 Miles, 2360′ 1h7m 
Kittatinny State Park with the Salt-guys. I was expecting to take it relatively easy this particular night, but on the second half, Adam decided to give me a reason to breathe a little heavier. It’s strange running with a target on your back, and not something I really like to do when I’ve mentally planned a lighter effort… but I guess my inner competitor really doesn’t like being out-done… or something to that effect.

Wed July 10 AM 5 Miles, 1480′ 40m49s Really crappy feeling power-line loop… but at least I got to see Phish in the evening (dancing counts towards mileage right?)
Set 1: Llama, Wolfman’s Brother, Sample in a Jar, Julius, Halley’s Comet > Bathtub Gin, Lawn Boy, Ya Mar, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, Theme From the Bottom > Suzy Greenberg
Set 2: Crosseyed and Painless > Harry Hood > Axilla > Sand > Light> Good Times Bad Times > Slave to the Traffic Light, Rocky Top > Cavern
Encore: Possum

Thurs July 11 AM 10 Miles, 1100′ 1h14m
Snappy-ish neighborhood road run. I really need to start harnessing the gumption to really crank down the pace on this route (PR is somewhere in the 1:04:xx range) but it seems like the best I can muster is going out on the roads to save the few minutes that the power line loops cost me in vert/technicality.
PM 8 Miles, 1020′ 1h9m
Really miserable feeling run with the Highlands guys… first 4 or 5 were okay, but wheels fell off hardcore…. c’est la vie.

Fri July 12 AM 3.3 Miles, 2440′ 39m59s 
Intended to run some serious repeats on Tammany, but my legs had absolutely no pop, and my stop on the summit almost turned into a nap on the summit… I probably could have eaten a clif-bar, napped in my car and headed back up the mountain for the afternoon, but realistically I just wasn’t feeling the vibe… and spent the whole ride home knotting my fists about the complete waste of gas it was to spend twice as long in the car as I did on the mountain.

Sat July 13 AM 10 Miles, 1100′ 1h15m 
Another road-jaunt
PM 7 Miles, 940′ 50m 
Ditto

Sun July 14 AM 7 Miles 940′ 52m28s
Shitty road run

Totals: 79.3 Miles, 15,670′ Vert

Monday July 15 AM 10 Miles, 2960′ 1h19m
Pretty normal/consistent run through the power-lines
PM 5 Miles, 1480′ 38m42s
Finally feeling like myself on the power line trails, starting to (finally) get used to the residual fatigue/general slogginess that has been my legs for the past several weeks, which means that I can more easily grunt through the  annoyances.

Tuesday July 16 AM 10 Miles, 1100′ 1h16m
I’m trying to work some roads in mostly to pretend that I’m going to run them at a faster click, but in reality I doubt the 3-4 min total difference between the road 10 miles and the power line 10 miles is doing me any favors… maybe the repetitive motion of road running has some validity?
PM 7 Miles, 1180′ 50m 
Kittatinny State Park with Mike. Really cranked things a lot faster than I was expecting, in fact I was working as a serious anchor for a good portion of the run. It’s great to learn some new trail systems however, as well as pretend I can hang on the heels of a proper NCAA athlete.
3Mins barefooting in the field as cooldown

Wed July 17 AM 5 Miles, 1480′ 38m23s
Kind of crummy feeling morning run, tired, laggy legs led to cutting things a bit short.
PM 1 Mile Barefoot 9:03

Thurs July 18 AM 10 Miles, 2960′ 1h18m 
Reasonably good feeling run on the power line trails, Maybe it’s the increased familiarity with the course, or perhaps it’s just the return to consistent moderately high mileage (which my mine and body seem to really jive with) but I’m feeling a greater sense of comfort with the heat, as well as the hills, not that I’m working any less hard, but rather that the sustained effort is becoming routine.
PM 6 Miles, 720′ 46m6s
Broken Shin loop with an added mile beforehand. My legs were feeling kind of crappy, but my mind/stomach were in good shape which allowed me to push pretty well, especially up the hills.

Fri July 19, AM 10 Miles, 1100′ 1h14m 
Usual road route, a little quicker than in recent weeks, but still long-off from what I’m capable of… the urge to really crank this route is growing…
PM 2 miles, 14m47s 
Easy little shakeout.

Sat July 20, 20 miles, 3200′ 2h48m
Allamuchy loop with an added extension on the rail trail. Super-hot and humid, for the past several weeks has left all of the streams I usually cross completely dry, which meant no respite from he oppressive heat of the day until I got to Cranberry Lake… which unfortunately reminded me more of my bathtub than a swimming hole. I also rolled my ankle a twinge coming off of the overlook, which caused me to re-evaluate the course for the day (original course was going to have more tech/vert). Things feel fine at time of writing, but it was a bit of a scare coming off of the gnarly roll the same ankle had a few weeks prior.

Sun July 21 AM 15 Miles, 4440′ 2h3m
Power Line trails… slightly dehydrated, and generally uncomfortable. I had to really concentrate hard to not let myself hike the couple of steep inclines on the 3rd loop (remembering KOLB’s heroic effort at the VT 100 the day before helped (19:58:xx))
PM 8 Miles… Hash

Totals:  109 Miles 20,620′ Vert 

Finally back into the hundred-mile-a-week range. For some reason the 100 mile week has always been an unusually challenging arbitrary landmark… and something I’ve still only done a handful of times in the past several years. Realistically I’m pretty banged up today, but my legs seem to be shaking off the funk after a few miles, and really being able to dig in pretty well. I’d like to also get out and hit more “true” trails in the upcoming weeks, as well as generally increase my vert along with the mileage as I start to get more specific about some fall races.

Allamuchy Round 1

‘Muchy Round 2

Planning some August adventures

Summary July 1-7

Monday July 1 AM 10 Miles, 1100′ 1h17m 
Local run through the neighborhood roads. incredibly mediocre pace, really just feeling like my legs have been replaced with heavy bags of shit, or something to that effect.
PM 3.1 Miles, 23m32s
Short local 5k shakeout-type-thing again with the generally crappy legs, I’m not sure what’s really going on insofar as my ankle is behaving normally, but my legs don’t really want to move at anything faster than the über-cliche ultra-shuffle.

Tuesday July 2 AM 10 Miles, 1100′ 1h15m 
 Another stab at the around-town-ish 10 mile loop, this time with a little more pep in my legs, and by pep, I mean there was a cute girl about a half a mile ahead of me on the long flat-ish section that neither my machismo nor my libido would allow to not be chased down… Legs still felt crappy, especially on the first 5 miles, but by the end, I was feeling surprisingly fresh, apparently it just takes me a long time to… warm up?
PM 6.3 Miles, 2080′ 58m Allamuchy Trails with the Salt Guys. Ran with Mike the whole time, albeit slightly embarrassed at how heavy I’m breathing on what he generally considers an “easy” run for the week. I suppose speed has different meanings when you’re talking about an 8k vs 83k…. either way, it’s great to get out and run with someone who can completely wipe the floor with you on the loop you’re running.

Wed July 3 AM 5 Miles, 1480′ 42m
Power Line trails… I meant to crank out a lot more miles in the morning, but general leg lethargy, dehydration, and the oppressive heat forced me to reconsider and basically promise myself that I’d make them up in the afternoon no matter how shitty I felt.
PM 10 Miles, 1100′ 1h17m Really just a slog of a run through the town. Still being a little wary of lateral movement on my ankle after the previous weeks sprain, but under the impression that if I continue to crank out some pavement sessions I’ll be able to salvage a lot of trail-strength, and perhaps get quicker in the interim without causing any real problems re: the sprain. Unfortunately, in NJ during this time of the year it’s almost always oppressively hot, like sweat just sitting still in the shade kind of hot, so even if my legs weren’t feeling like complete and total dog shit I doubt I would have been able to run substantially faster… jumping in the river ~2 miles from my house was pleasant however.

Thurs July 4 AM 10 Miles, 1100′ 1h17m 
I guess 1:17 is my groove this week… sunrise from the town ridge looked promising leaving the house, but by the time I gained the vert clouds had come in and fundamentally ruined my potential for a kickass view. Otherwise, I’m just glad that my 4:45AM alarm worked and got me out for a jaunt before sitting in a chair all day preventing children from drowning in the lake.

Fri July 5 AM 13.2 Miles. 9760’2h48m 
Quadruple Tammany Ascent/Descent. This was partially because I can, and partially a test for an upcoming race that I’ve yet to officially register for (but am 90% committed to… mentally that is). Basically I wanted to see how my body/mind would react to several repeats of an unusually steep hill (for NJ) in some gnarly heat. I managed to get through on ~300 cal, 100oz of fluids, and 2 S! caps without any serious stomach or hydration issues, although it was seriously hot…

Sat July 6, 3.1 Miles, 23m20s
Compulsory 5k in the evening to make myself feel like I ran today. I tried to go out in the morning before work, but a major case of the trots kept me inside the house (I ran a half a mile and nearly crapped myself). I wish I could blame it on the beer, but I didn’t have any the night before… so I guess I need to start really dialing in my diet, since this is 2 weeks in a row where I’ve lost mileage that my mind and body would otherwise accept, but my sphincter seems to be reluctant to endure.

Sun July 7 AM 15 Miles, 4440′ 2h8m
Really no pep at all in my legs, which considering the abuses from Friday isn’t too surprising, but still a little discouraging with regard to the basic day-off I took on Saturday. Climbing wasn’t necessarily hard, but just weak, as if I was mentally/physically unwilling to push anything.

Totals: 85.6 Miles, 22,160′
Kind of a bum week as far as my attitude is concerned. I really don’t like to put in that much in the way of pavement-oriented mileage, but my general distrust of my ankle for the majority of the week seemed to have made it the only valid option if I was going to get anywhere near my preferred weekly totals. Skipping Saturday (basically) was also a bummer, causing me to fall way short of my projected 100 miles for the week, but c’est la vie, realistically there’s not much I can do about it. Fortunately, the quadruple Tammany run went rather well, and my ankle seems to have made it out completely unscathed, which is really encouraging going into this week, and further increasing my confidence with regard to some upcoming competition.

Tammany Summit

Recovery?

Sometimes I mess up the timer..

View from Tammany overlooking Minsi

Summary June 24-30

Monday June 24 AM 12 Miles, 3200′ 1h28m Allamuchy trails, with a snappy double-summit before succumbing to the heat and humidity, and deciding to take a less circuitous route back to my car. After chugging a liter or so, I got talked into another quickie with Phil, a runner I’ve run into on the trails several times in the past year, finishing out the 12 miles, and gaining a few hundred extra feet of vert.
PM 3 Miles, 24m Quickie shakeout around the neighborhood, soggy legs for sure

Tuesday June 25 AM 10 Miles, 2960′ 1h21 Rough run through the power line trails, shiggy conditions and not feeling like I have much pep in my legs. Humidity was also really killer, soaked my shorts within the first 5 miles, which is never really a good feeling that early in a run.
PM 7 Miles, 2000′ 58m Allamuchy Trails with the guys from Salt. Cool little club they have going on, including the obligatory post-run beers. We basically ran from the pub to the top of the mountain and back, which gave me a chance to run with Mike, an XC runner at St. Thomas Aquinas, who to no surprise of my own was able to run me rather ragged over such a short course. Having never really developed that sort of leg speed, it was pretty encouraging to see what kind of running collegiate athletes are capable of, as well as have someone to really push me on trail. I did unfortunately roll my ankle pretty hard on some technical terrain and heard an audible crunch not unlike the exaggerated knuckle-cracking sound from a shitty street fighting movie.

Wed June 26 1 Mile, 9m Ankle was feeling pretty djanky, so I called it quits before I did any real damage.

Thurs June 27 AM 7 Miles, 940′ 51m39s Road run through the local neighborhoods with the ankle feeling surprisingly stable, especially considering the egg-like shape it had taken on throughout Wednesday. Unfortunately, in the true sense of “when it rains it pours” my stomach was to understate heavily… disagreeable.
PM 3.5 Miles, 480′ 27:28 Started running with the Hashers, but quickly realized that my stomach was going to have none of it.

Fri June 28, AM 4.5 Miles, 860′ Meant to go out and do 7, but the stomach virus is definitely raining on my parade… felt generally shitty the whole time.

Sat June 29, 7 Miles, 940′ 48m21s A lot more like it… Afternoon run after my bowels decided to start agreeing with me again. Pretty muggy out again, but such seems to be the case with NJ summers.

Sun June 30 AM 7 Miles, 940′ 49m59s A little bit dead-legged, which isn’t very surprising, since my legs haven’t felt very strong since Tuesday, probably due to not eating very well, and the whole stomach virus deal.
PM 3 Miles, 1240′ 25m Snappy ascent to the top of Allamuchy (14m) and a reasonable downhill (11) I could definitely have run it faster, but I’m not wholly trusting in my still sort-of weak ankle.

Totals: 65 Miles, 13,920′

Generally not an awful week, all things considered I really shouldn’t scoff at putting 65 miles in the proverbial bank,  but having mentally committed to >100 in the same 7 day period I’m a little disappointed. In the grand scheme of things, I supposed that if I was going to get sick for a couple of days, and sprain an ankle this summer, it’s kind of fortuitous to have them coincide, mostly because is consolidates the time I’m unable to run, rather than making two separate occasions, nevermind the fact that I had mentally positioned June as a “rebuilding” month that would generally be devoid of any real workouts, and if all goes as planned should pale in comparison to the volume I’m planning for the next 8-10 weeks.

Allamuchy Summit #3 of the week

This hurt roughly 1000x more than rolling it did

Summary June 17-23

Monday June 17 AM 7 Miles, 940′ 49m10s Typical run through the neighborhood. I’ve been trying to dial in a more consistent road pace in the past several weeks, mostly because lingering MCL problems were keeping me on the roads, but also out of an inkling desire to hit the road for a “quick” marathon in the fall, which obviously is going to require some more consistent pavement sessions.
PM 3.1 Miles, 21m30s Short little shakeout 5k in the evening. Nothing particularly special, and definitely at a shakeout-pace.

Tuesday June 18 AM 10 Miles 3460′ 1h19m Ran on the power line trails before going into work. Ended up negatively splitting pretty hard (~3:30 over 5 mile loops) which was mostly a result of the obnoxiously long amount of time it takes for my legs to feel loose in the morning.
PM 3.4 Miles, 880′ 34m Quick little loop through the Tourne with Brian. TH is exceptionally close to my summer job, so I should probably get to learn the trails a little better by the end of the season.
PM 2, 2 Miles, 14m52s Little evening shakeout to keep the legs loose.

Wed June 19 AM 7 Miles, 940′ 49m Quick run through the neighborhood before I hit the road for the afternoon’s adventures.
PM 6.6 Miles, 4880′ 1h21m Double-summit of Mt. Tammany, I think I PR’ed on the first ascent in ~18:30ish, but unfortunately I haven’t been keeping good logs of my splits, something I’m going to try to remedy this summer.

Thurs June 20 AM 12 Miles 4950′ 1h51m TH>Summit(Tammany)>TH>Sunfish Pond>TH Crashed in my tent up at campsite number 2, then hiked back down first thing in the morning before running through the area. I probably could have run harder, but my legs were still feeling a little banged up from the previous nights run and subsequent hike. The final leg from the pond to the TH was in a blistering 31mins, complete with whooping and hollering at the sheer excitement of having 4-ish miles of clear technical downhilling.
PM 5 Miles 720′ 38m35s Broken Shin Loop with Bob and Mike, wasn’t expecting to run with any semblance of pep, so keeping it under 8/mile was kind of nice, and felt surprisingly good.

Fri June 21 AM 11.6 Miles 3000′ 1h50m Allamuchy, TH>Summit>Far Lot>Summit>Cranberry Lake>TH. Awkward combination of feeling great, and feeling kind of run down. Ascent legs were in great shape, even running portions that are usually steep enough to warrant some sort of hike, but flat-land legs were shot. Unintentionally ended up racing a mountain biker for the final 40ish minutes, and besting him by ~4 mins, which always feels good, bu overall kind of a mediocre time on the course.
PM 2 Miles 14m45s Quick little shakeout, really dead legs.

Sat June 22 AM 5 Miles 1480′ 40m47s Really dead-legged power line loop. Whole run felt like a pretty serious slog, no pep going up, no confidence going down.
PM 8 Miles, 2000′ 1:19 Semi-bushwhack, semi-trail run with Sean, Dave, and Jeff. Legs felt surprisingly poppy especially after the mornings deadness. Also took a pretty good digger on some embarrassingly wheelchair accessible trails.

Sun June 23 PM 7 Miles, 940′ 55m Wicked hot run, battling a sour stomach and generally dead legs (and maybe a bit of a gnarly hangover)

Totals: 89.7 Miles, 24,190′

First real week of trail running since Bear Mountain, and generally a mercurial one at that. On one hand it feels great to be back on the trails, reasonably fit, and able to move well, but after every layoff, no matter how small, there’s always that inkling about how fit you would be if you didn’t have to miss those days, or spend those weeks running exclusively on the pavement. Spending some time in the country has definitely been therapeutic, especially the 2 days up at the Water Gap with some tent-living in between. Hopefully my schedule will allow for some more overnight trips to areas beyond my usual stomping grounds as well as the chance to really dial in that Tammany ascent.

Campsite

Someone left a few prayers trailside…
Tammany on Thurs Morning

Crooked Allamuchy ascent

Injury(ish?)

They always star out the same way: just a little niggle on a shakeout run, nothing to really worry about, you say to yourself “well, I’ll see how it feels tomorrow, no need to do anything yet” or some other trivial affirmation in an attempt to avoid the inevitable. It’s still there the next day, and the day after that, and before you know it, that approach of “meh, it’ll feel better in a day or two” has only exacerbated your little niggle into something more serious. So now you start testing it going down the stairs, kicking a soccer ball with the dog, and running across the street to avoid being the victim of vehicular homicide. Those days turn into a week, and before you know it, that slight discomfort is now something you’re really concerned about, something that might even convince you to *gasp* take a day off.

After the Bear Mountain race, I started this very familiar sequence of convincing myself that I wasn’t hurt, when in reality I was. I had taken a few diggers over the course, and one of those involved my left knee doing battle with an oak tree, which inevitably it lost. Of course during the first few days after the race, nothing seemed unusual, mostly because I was spending all of my time either sleeping, or on the couch, so it was pretty hard to really tell what was going on with my legs… I mean I just ran 50 miles, everything did (and should) hurt. But when I started moving again, there was that familiar niggle, this time on the medial side of my left knee… nothing to worry about yet, but that’s always a slippery slope.

You see like every stubborn runner, I’ve always been afraid to actually admit that I’m hurt… and this is obviously counter-productive. It’s probably a result of some misguided machismo, and fear. Lots of fear. Fear that if I’m actually hurt, then my fitness is inevitably going to recede, and as everyone knows, it’s a hell of a lot easier to stay fit than it is to get fit. Foolishly however, it seems that when we take time off for that minor discomfort it will heal, wherein when we continue to do the same thing we always do, which is to say run, on a RUNNING injury, it’s likely to get worse, forcing an even longer layoff, and the actualization of those fears we were trying to avoid.

Last year, if anyone cares to remember, I had some pretty gnarly IT band problems as a result of over-training, and then racing 50 miles. This cost me the majority of the summer as far as running is concerned, seeing as I didn’t feel reasonably healthy until roughly August, and even then, I had lost several months of maintenance-training, nevermind opportunities to improve. So, with this knowledge, I decided that this time, I’d seek professional help at the onset of my discomfort, and try to salvage my running season as best as I could. (there might have been some help from my mother)

After a visit to a physical therapist, it was concluded that I have sprained my MCL, but fortunately it’s basically healed right now (although still tender). This is good news, since in spite of my lack of posting in recent weeks, I’ve been pretty regular about running (albeit at significantly reduced volume). Unfortunately means that I’m going to have to withdraw my entrance to the Cayuga Trails 50 next week, because even if I’m healthy enough to run it, my lack of mileage in the past 3 or so weeks compounded with my lack of complete trust in my left leg really only means that running the race will either result in a DNF, or worse, an injury, neither of which am I really willing to drive 8 hours round trip to deal with. While disappointed about missing what looks to be a tremendous race, I’m much more concerned with salvaging a summer’s worth of running, and not losing several months of training as a result of hubris.

This means that for the present, I’m relegating myself to dealing primarily with road-running since lateral movements are still a bit iffy, and with a little bit of luck (and ice, lots of ice) I should be able to pretty quickly resume high-volume training, and get back onto the racing scene. In the meantime, maybe I’ll go hiking, that sounds like a good idea… and I guess I should kick that ball around with my dog more, since for once, I seem to have more energy than her.

Race Report: TNF Bear Mountain 2013

As much preparation as normally goes into an ultra, sometimes you’re just not quite ready, or willing to really deal with the trials that the day is going to give you. In an endurance event, the cliche always seems to be that it’s “all mental” and a humungous portion of the challenge actually is, but sometimes in spite of how good of shape you’re in, your body can refuse to do the task too. When you combine a weaker mental day with a bad physical day, that’s when things get interesting. This was one of those days. Things started off on the wrong foot by getting to the start mere moments before the race actually kicked off (I had enough time to grab my bib, take a leak, and eat half of a clif bar) so before the gun even went off, I was already running a little bit ragged.

I ran with the lead pack through the first aid station, and feeling really solid on my feet, having a great time chatting with the top runners, and generally trying to take care of myself. 50 miles is a long day for anyone, and it didn’t seem even remotely worthwhile to start to get into any sort of pissing contest before dawn, so I gladly let myself drop to the back end of the leaders and kept pace. I continued with the pack through roughly mile 6 or 7, by which point I had fallen about 100 yards off of the lead pack as we re-entered some single-track. Foolishly, on our way into Silvermine, ~1.5 miles from the aid station, myself, and about 4 other runners missed a turn entirely… you’ve got to be fucking kidding me, right? when was the last time we saw a course marker? shit, fuck, okay, lets turn around. I figure we added at least a mile, maybe more, and lost a solid 10 or 15 places… naturally the turn we missed also caused us to gain several hundred more vertical feet over foot-crushing terrain… brilliant.

I bounced back pretty quickly however (or at least thought I did) since there’s really nothing you can do about getting lost after the fact, but it took a pretty serious toll on my overall mental state. When I got into Silvermine, I handed off my headlamp, picked up my sunglasses, and exchanged a bottle, which was followed by a helpful yell from Sean reminding me to drink more fluids…. Apparently at both aid stations I changed over a bottle, but had barely drank from either (I was at least eating the gels they stashed in the pockets for me) this would come back to bite me in the ass later.

From Silvermine to Arden Valley Road, I spent a lot of time and energy trying to recoup some of my lost positioning. I was still feeling rather spry, and really comfortable on my feet. I made up a lot of time, but I still wasn’t drinking very much, and even gels were a little tough to get down. I refilled my bottle at the aid station, grabbed  a couple of gels, and went on my way.

Leaving Arden Valley Road, I was still feeling okay, but starting to realize that I was on a pretty rough path mentally… I hadn’t really dipped into bonking yet, and wouldn’t for a while, but the trouble I was having digesting food and absorbing water were definitely not good, I’d only urinated once, and it was coming out florescent (which I attributed to the pre-race vitamins I had taken…). This was definitely the nicest section of trail on the course, giving us some 360degree views, but the exposed rock left little for the RD’s to use to mark the trail, and being gun-shy from getting lost once today, I definitely took my sweet ass time, and became increasingly frustrated at every less-than-perfectly marked deviation.

By the time I got into Lake Skannatati I had already been seriously considering dropping out. My stomach wasn’t agreeing with me, and my brain had already begun to lose it’s desire to fight, in spite of the fact that my legs still felt great. I was seriously losing the battle. Seeing my crew at the aid station gave me enough of a kick  to get moving out of the aid station (after not letting them on as to how shitty I was feeling) but within a quarter of a mile I realized that I’d gotten myself in some deep shit mentally and physically. I tried to pee again, but it was a lost cause, my stomach was sloshing, and nothing was sitting well.

I had worked a bit of a lead coming out of Skannatati relative to the guys I came into the aid station with, but in a period of mental weakness, I slowed and let them catch me simply so that I would have someone to run with. Once I left the singletrack, and hit the fireroads I was caught up to by the eventual Women’s leader (who went on to crush the women’s CR) so I latched onto her for the final 5ish miles of the trail going into the aid station.

When I picked up Gene at Camp Lanowa I was in a lot better physical shape than the previous year, my feet were fine, my legs felt good, but I was having a real problem digesting food and absorbing water. We ran rather easily out of the aid station, all the way to Tiorati, and for a brief period of time, I thought I might be able to salvage a decent performance for the day, but coming out of the aid station I started having a really sloshy stomach, and terrifically low energy levels.

Eventually we came upon some 50k and marathon runners, which gave me an opportunity to feel like I was making progress by passing other runners. After I ground my way through the low patch, I managed to leave Gene behind entirely for about 20 minutes. Gene then handed me off to Dave as I tried my hardest to drink at the aid station, choke down a gu, and throw back a redbull to try to get through the last 10 miles.

The remainder of the race was simply a matter of survival. Every time I drank, or tried to eat, it seemed like it would just sit in my stomach and slosh around, which led to side stitches, and near-vomiting on several occasions. Dave basically had to drag me through this section of the course, occasionally I’d run, especially the downhills, and generally my legs felt okay, but the gas tank was empty, and wouldn’t even begin to entertain the idea of refueling.

I eventually gutted my way across the finish-line in 9:35:38 in 24th place overall, which I really shouldn’t bitch and moan about. But racing isn’t really that different from running, just running, and even though I have very little racing experience, I’ve run… a lot… especially in the last few years, and absolutely in the last several months, and this was just a shitty day. I lost track of where/how many times I fell, but I know it was at least 4.. maybe 5, which is FAR more than my average of 1 every 350 or so miles. If it were a normal run, I would have absolutely thrown in the towel after the 20th mile, recouped for a day, and tried a true long run a couple of days afterwards, but this was a race, and there’s an expectation to finish. As far as how I’m going to change my plans from here on out? I definitely need to learn to eat more, and drink more on-the run. Scheduling a recital the day before probably took a lot more out of me mentally than I expected. On the bright side, I’m still rather confident in my fitness, and my legs have recovered remarkably well so far, especially compared to last year… so I think that if I can dial in my race-nutrition a bit better then I still have a good shot at realizing some of my ultra-goals for the year.

10 Mins after getting lost

Climbing at Mile 47

Taper report TNF Bear Mountain 2013

Oh wait, you’re supposed to down-train for an endurance race right?? You see, the problem for me when it comes to running is that I perform best when I feel fit, and I feel fittest when I feel tired… the more tired I am the more fit I feel. Of course this can sometimes lead to me feeling like super-man and running a training run like a super-old-man; which is probably why I need to taper. Also, something about glycogen, I think I read that somewhere. In a book. With pages. I’m not sure that I’ve ever gotten the taper thing exactly right… I’ve only done it for a few times… and one of those was for a race that didn’t even happen… I recall bitching about it’s cancellation with a whine of “BUT I TAPERED FOR THIS” but I’m pretty sure that I thought that replacing running time with beer drinking time constituted a taper… I’m not wholly convinced that this is true (but not wholly convinced that it’s not true).

You see, in addition to the very obvious correlation of my perceived fitness to my weekly mileage, a lot of other things are wrapped up in it.. Like my ability to handle stresses, an embarrassingly large part of my self-esteem, and my willpower overall. Since I’m obviously rambling, let me show you some charts to better elaborate my point.

First, here’s my actual Taper:

Here’s how that seems to work with my overall fitness:
Now, I can’t just sit around, and pretend to go to the gym, I obviously have other things to do, like prepare for a recital that I foolishly scheduled less than 24 hours before a 50 mile race…. Oh, and apparently I need to blog.

Running is obviously a big time and energy consumer, so obviously that time has to be spent on something, here’s a rough outline of how I’ve  been spending those extra hours.
The hardest part of the taper is that since I’m not tired, I can actually see how fit I am, but I’m not allowed to use any of this until Saturday.. This is like taking a fat kid, and putting him in a candy store with a hundred dollar bill, and saying you can’t buy anything…

 Tomorrow I plan to go out and run, because I do that every day, I’ll probably run for a half an hour… which is really the running equivalent of having “just one beer” it sounds good on paper, but in actuality it’s incredibly unsatisfying. Maybe I’ll do it barefoot, so I can pretend that it’s having some sort of positive effect on my biomechanics, but most likely I’ll run up a hill. With rocks on it. Then I’ll go and practice for hours on end, because I need to do that. 

Summary April 22-28

Monday April 22, 15 Miles 4440′ 1h57m Easy run on the power lines. The 2 hour run seems to be feeling really regular as of late, which is really encouraging. In fact, looking over the past several weeks it seems that most of my runs have been really consistent on the stopwatch, in spite of some pretty wide variations in energy levels and outlook.

Tuesday April 23, 1 Mile 8m Oh yea, about that consistency thing… apparently a nero is part of that deal. Frankly the whole really long, slow spring has been draining on me, so whenever the weather is cold/gross I just can’t seem to muster up the energy to get out for a run. My legs felt fine, but my head just wasn’t with me.

Wed, April 24, AM, 15 Miles 4440′ 1h57m Feeling really normal on the trails, and basically just trying to keep up my fitness levels without doing anything stupid like getting myself hurt. Been cranking around in a really busted up old pair of MT110’s, whose rock plate and mid-sole have seen way better days… which I think is helping inform my footing on technical descents, as well as making sure I stay light on my feet.
PM 2 Miles, 15m Easy road-jog to shake the legs out… feeling a little stiff this time around, and relatively exhausted after a long day at class.

Thurs April 25, 17 Miles, 2160′ 2h21m  Pretty relaxed road run on the broken-shin loop, albeit really low-energy. I positive split pretty heavily over the course of the run, which is probably due to a lot of latent fatigue in my legs, and a complete and utter lack of road mileage in recent weeks.

Fri April 26, 10 Miles, 2960′ 1h18m  Easy Power Line run, finally warm enough to don nothing more than shorts and a singlet.

Sat April 27, 15 Miles, 4440′ 2h Easy run on the power lines again…. probably the last “real” run before the TNF race next weekend. Finally warm out, which was wonderful, according to the sunburn on my shoulders. The heat also gave me one last chance to dehydrate myself before the race, and seeing as I only carried 20oz with me, and wasn’t totally spent by the end, I’d say I’ve done pretty well as far as training myself into becoming a camel this year.

Sun April 28, 5 Miles 1480′ 35m I figure that if I’m going to run less, I ought to run a little quicker, to you know, stay sharp or something
PM 1 Mile 9M Barefootin’

Totals: 82 Miles, 19,920′

I decided to lay off a little bit this week, realizing that I probably wasn’t going to be able to reap any real training gains from overdoing things this close to a race, but in actuality I would probably just end up making myself tired out. With the exception of the fundamental day off in the middle of the week, It was a reasonably good training week, and had I not thought that I should begin to lower my mileage today, I could have easily kept running for another 15 or 20 miles as things were really feeling solid. From here on out, it’s really just about maintaining confidence through my taper (and making sure I can be tired enough to sleep). I’m really happy with how the past 6 or so weeks have stacked up, an frankly I’m not sure I’ve ever been this solid on the hills and more technical terrain, which will hopefully carry through on race day.

Summary April 8-21

Monday April 8, 3.1 Miles, :22 Quick little road run, super-pressed for time, and a little banged up from Sunday’s 25 miler, things felt smooth overall, and given more free time I’d probably have run 10 or so (slowly)

Tues April 9, AM, 7 Miles, 940′ 46:30 Back to normal form very quickly, legs are recovering smoothly.
PM 4 Miles, :28 Light roads

Wed April 10, AM 5 Miles 1480′ 39:30 Power Line trails
PM 5 Miles, :40 Dreadmill session. I’m pretty sure it was cold and raining, or something to that effect, otherwise I can’t see why I would have hit the suffer-machine (usually my log-book notes if I did an incline workout on the ‘mill)

Thurs April 11 AM, 13 Miles, 2960′ 1:30 Powerlines with a road 5k tacked on the end.
PM 10 Miles, 1440′ 1:18 Double Broken-Shin road loop, hard kick at the end with Bob and Dave.

Fri April 12, 1 Mile :08 Felt incredibly low all day, like couldn’t really bring myself to do much other than watch reruns on netflix and generally be a sloth. My legs felt great when I finally did go out and run, but my head just simply wasn’t willing to subject itself to a respectable distance.

Sat April 13, 25ish Miles, 4:30 7000′ Delaware Water Gap with Jayson. TH>Tammany>Sunfish Pond> Catfish Fire Tower> Dunfield Creek Parking lot via AT. Brisk morning, but relatively clear, Jayson and I decided to try to hit some of the cooler parts of the Water Gap park as well as the AT. I felt really good the whole run (like dynamite according to Jayson) and really didn’t notice even the slightest bit of fatigue until the final few miles, which was mostly because I’d stopped eating hours before.

Sun April 14, 10 Miles 2960′ 1:19 Power Line trails. I thought I’d be pretty beat up, but actually, I felt fine for the most part.

Mon April 15, 10 Miles 2960′ 1:18 Easy Power Line jog

Tues April 16, 10 Miles, 2960′ 1:19 Another easy run, legs are feeling fine.
PM 1 Mile :09  Shakeout

Wed April 17, 10 Miles, 2960′ 1:18 Just trying to embrace the mundane consistency required to train for races of this length.
PM 5 Miles 1480′ 38:30 The weather was too incredible to NOT run again, 75ish, sunny, shirtless weather (first time of 2013!)

Thurs April 18, AM 5 Miles, 1480′ :41 Feeling sluggish, and not quite there mentally
PM, 10.5 Miles   Ran with Angelo for a bit, rather quickly (Angelo runs from the same start point as the Highlands Hashers, but a bit earlier, so we’ve been crossing paths for the past month or so) then finished up with the broken shin loop. Felt incredibly shitty for 3ish miles in the final 5, most likely from low blood sugar and a bit of dehydration, nothing I couldn’t have fixed with a GU and something to drink.

Fri April 19, 10 Miles, 2990′ 1:21 Regular Power Line run

Sat April 20, 1 Mile, :09 Played my final concert with the Rutgers Symphony Orchestra the night before, so the combination of lack of sleep, and massive hangover really put a damper on any plans I may have had… also, last drops of beer before the race, Got to clean up for a couple of weeks to make sure that I’m in top shape.

Sun April 21, 15 Miles, 4440′ 2:04 Power Lines in triplicate. Overall things felt really strong, but I was pressed for time between teachings, and had a small niggle in my hip/knee on my right leg, so it seemed like a prudent plan to cut things off.

Overall I’m feeling really fit right now, and comparing my mileage/times to last year, it looks like I’m right. I’ll probably end up ~150 miles shy of last years total before the NF Bear Mountain race, but my last six weeks have been much higher in volume, as well as a LOT more consistent than they were last year. Hopefully my concentration on technical trail and vertical gain/loss will end up paying off in the long run. As for what’s coming up… I’m hoping to train hard through the 28th or so, and then cut a really hard taper going into the race. Judging by the way that my legs have been recovering, I think I can get away with a relatively short taper (as opposed to the 2 week taper I did last year) plus, the additional mileage and time on trail is helping to really boost my confidence going into the race.

Somewhere on the Kittatinny ridge

Jasyson on Raccoon Ridge

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