Gunks Fat-Ass Fallback 50K

The Shawangunk ridge, known as Kittatinny Mountain (or Kittatinny Ridge) in New Jersey, and Blue Mountain in Pennsylvania is the continuation of the long easternmost ridge of the Appalachian Mountains. The Gunks as they are locally known extend from the NY/NJ border to the Catskill mountains, and are arguably best known as a climbing destination.

While arguably find-able on the internet there is a fast-growing fat-ass running community led by Mike Cat Skill* (This is not Mike’s actual surname).Those of us lucky enough to know Mike are aware that he spends countless hours doing trail work, runs and scrambles like a certified boss, and then in his spare time comes up with courses in his backyard to satisfy whatever distance he’s currently dreaming of, then posts them online and persuades people to run them on the same day.

On Nov 19, Mike laid the groundwork for the Fallback 50K, a nearly perfect (distance-wise) point to point run through the Gunks that hit all of the iconic landmarks, several scrambles, and a fair mix of single track and carriage road. Our group of 9 managed to stay together for the entire day, hitting 31 miles with 4488′ of gain several scrambling routes, one minor medical emergency (that we came upon, not within our group) in a casual 6h41m. Here are the photos

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Len braves the early morning cold
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Scott getting ready
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Jayson Stretches off the drive
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Can’t begin without coffee

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Scott finishes our first scramble
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Seems like a reasonable place to hang
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Guiseppe has the reverse
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Mike was grinning the whole day as he admired his handiwork
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Happy James
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Laura Drops the downhill
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Final Crossing

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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 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

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 March 25-31

Monday March 25 AM, 8 Miles 1:00 According to weather.com it was going to rain/snow this day, so I planned to suffer the treadmill with my buddy Pete (one of the few upsides of the dreadmill is that you can do so alongside friends who wouldn’t otherwise keep up). Instead, it was decent out (at least in the AM) so we were inside for nothing. Anyhow, I still think there’s validity in an even-paced effort on the suffer-machine.
PM 4 Miles, :30 Now it starts to precipitate… finishing the day off on the ‘mill again followed by some leg work with the weights.

Tues March 26 AM, 10 Miles 1:35 2500′ Ran the Wildcat Ridge Romp course with Dave. Surprisingly this isn’t too far off of the single-loop CR… and also near Dave’s PB on the course
PM 3 Miles :20 Evening shakeout, not too hard, just trying to keep the blood moving through the legs.

Wed March 27, 6 Miles 39:30 580′ End of day run.. Had to go into the city in the morning which functionally eliminated the chance for a morning run.

Thurs March 28, AM, 7 Miles 45:15 940′ Pre-class morning run through the local neighborhood roads. Didn’t expect to run particularly quickly, nor did I feel like I was exerting myself at all throughout the run. Overall pretty pleased with the outing.
PM 8 Miles 1:02 1020′ Ran into Dave as I was pulling into the lot (early) so we ran a pretty snappy 3 mile loop with a couple of intervals followed by the usual casual broken-shin-loop.

Fri March 29, 12 Miles 1:42 3000′ Allamuchy. First time back since the hash (I think) feeling remarkably solid throughout, although running conservatively. last 5k was at sub 7 pace without really trying to do so, so I guess hitting flats/roads quicker is starting to pay off as far as setting an automated easy-terrain pace. Also, took a gnarly fall around 8 miles in… more trail rash…

Sat March 30, 18 Miles 2:42 5000′ Originally meant to do more miles to make it a “real” long run, but as the mileage piled on, it became increasingly apparent that it was not the best day to be putting major stress on my legs. Fundamentally I knew that I was going to have to put on some mileage on Sunday to really reap the benefits of a higher mileage week, and if I ran much more I was unlikely to force myself out the next day. As important as I think long runs are… I think the day after, starting on shit-legs and running 10 or so miles in general misery is more important (mentally and physically)
PM 1 Mile 9:00 Easy-peasy shakeout

Sunday March 31, 11 Miles 1:27 2980′  Pseudo-recovery run-ish type thing? Okay fuck it, it wasn’t a recovery run, it wasn’t a workout either… it was mostly a day out on the trails where mile 1 felt like mile 45… hang on and hope for the best.
PM 1 Mile 9:40 Probably the only real relaxation mile of the week.

Totals: 89 Miles, 16,020′
Pretty happy with this week overall, it seems that I’m hitting some reasonably substantial vert while still maintaining some quickness under my feet. I still need some bigger miles, as well as some genuine long runs going into race season, but in spite of my comparatively low mileage on the year I’m feeling reasonably fit and continuing to surprise myself with the strength in my legs during the most tired moments.

Coming off the overlook at Alllamuchy

Testing the Ultimate Direction AK Race Vest

Power-Hike

Sometimes you just can’t run the incline

Recharge

I think for most people, the last few months of the year are always a logistical struggle. There’s the shortening daylight hours, holiday stress, obligatory beer guzzling, and for those of us in academia, the inherent stress of a semesters worth of procrastination peaking in a tremendous fury of papers to be written, tests to be taken, and TA duties to be attended to (after all, our politicians can procrastinate all they like, so seriously, could you expect any better from me?). This all combined means that I’ve either been too lazy to write, too lazy to run, ran too little to not feel like a poser writing about running, or just generally have decided that I am in fact boring and thus have nothing to write about.

That being said, in case you haven’t noticed, the blog is in a bit of an overhaul phase, and will continue to morph until I like it, sort of like Michael Jackson’s face, but way less good at producing pop music, and hopefully less likely to be the focal point of a South Park episode. Using the arbitrary restarting point of the new year, you can look forward to a few dramatic, and not-so dramatic changes. Running-wise, I’ve decided to change my “week” from a Sun-Sat week (a la calendar) to a Mon-Sun week. This comes after much deliberation regarding the separation of the weekend. Pretty much, I’ve decided that I do the majority of my long distance-running between Thurs and Sun, and I should probably keep those days within the same quantified week for logging purposes. Again, this is kind of arbitrary, but I think it’ll help me to better plan my weeks as a whole, and feel a lot less pressured to hit my “weekly” total on Saturday, then restart on Sunday, which I think led to some reckless running last year on my Friday/Saturday routes. I also plan to start counting vertical change as a “total” vertical change, rather than simply vertical gain. This should help to quantify my efforts a little more accurately (as well as make my numbers look less pathetic)

There will also be some additional cooking-oriented posts. Many of you already know that I’ve been a vegetarian for a long time (in fact, many of you have probably tried to convince me not to be over the years) and in looking at some running-related food sources I’ve concluded that recipe suggestions either are completely ridiculous, and require you living inside of a Whole Foods in order to cook, or are based on the idea that “hey, you ran today, eat some fricken cookies” neither of which are really my M.O. So with some luck, expect to see some simple, down-home vegetarian recipe’s that someone with little cooking experience and only access to the most basic grocery stores can make.

Summary Sept 9-15

Sunday Sept 9 AM 10 Miles 410′ 1:20 Ran through Parsippany with John, started by hitting a few hills, then running around the lake. Longest consecutive run in months, I’ve hit the distance over the summer, but usually on technical trails requiring at least some hiking, but being on a road leads to really consistent pacing/effort for the entire duration. Knee feels good, also, fantastic sunrise over the lake… should have brought the camera.

Monday Sept 10 AM 5 Miles 740′ :41 Short morning jaunt through the powerline course, the overall run-time is slowly decreasing, and my body seems to be adjusting to the cup of coffee>run>then eat for real schedule.

Tues Sept 11 AM 7.1 Miles 410′ 50:28 Sort of hilly run up the ridge and back down using the local roads. Feeling a bit rough from the get-go after a night hanging out with some orchestra folks. Really content with the time though, letting my stride open up a bit, and trying t get more consistent rhythm/effort over slightly longer distances
PM 1 Mile Barefoot 8:53 Shakeout evening, whenever I’m starting to pile on “real” mileage, the barefooting seems to keep me in-line.

Wed Sept 12 AM 5 Miles 740′ 41:39 Solid effort over the power-lines, sadly it’s taken me this long to feel comfortable/consistent on what is really a very pedestrian course. More importantly, the longer-sustained climbs are becoming relatively easy, and I’m gaining a lot more confidence in my overall foot placement/trusting my right leg to sustain the amount of abuse required for serious trail-running.
PM 1 Mile 8:44 Barefoot When my barefoot miles start to get consistent, I stop feeling like a liar when I tell people I’m a runner…

Thurs Sept 13 PM 5 Miles 360′ 40:25 Broken Shin Loop with John, Bob, and Brian. First time in a while that everyone ran as a cohesive group, conversational at ~8min pace. Pumped up the pace for the last quarter while joking around with Bob, he still has a much better kick than I do.

Fri Sept 14 AM 5 Miles 740′ :41 Another Power Line trip, feeling reasonable.

Saturday Sept 15 AM 5 Miles 550′ 1:14 Pseudo-tempo road-run. I wanted to nail down a baseline 10-mile time/pace on semi-shitty legs so I have an idea of what kind of work I’ve got cut out for myself. Surprisingly happy with the outcome, since the base for this course was in the 1:15 range last April as well…
PM 3 Miles 645′ 28:19 Allamuchy TH>Summit and directly back via yellow>blue blazes. Too nice outside to not get some hill time, even though it was probably ill-advised.

Totals: 52.1 Miles, 4585′ 6h54m
Longest mileage week since May, (although my week in Maine came close in overall time, it was much more vert-oriented, without the actual distance). I think I can begin to consider myself a runner again, as opposed to some sort of recreationalist/hobby jogga type. More encouragingly, if I can continue on this trajectory without re-injuring myself, I should be in much better shape at the turn of the year than I was last year. With the temperatures cooling, and the leaves starting to change, I’m really hoping that I can stay healthy, and begin to enjoy what’s certainly my favorite part of the year to be on-trail.

Summary: August 12-18

Sunday August 12
 4 Miles, 700′ 40:14 Short jaunt through Allamuchy: TH to summit, then skirted around the backside of the hill and directly back to the trail-head. It’s nice to finally get back on some technical trails and not feel beat up about it. Overall a slow 4 miles, although the trip to the summit was in the ~16min range, which is pretty spot on for average runs, even during heavy training.

Monday, August 13
 5 Miles, 740′ 42:10 Powerline trails. This is probably the hardest “short” course for me to run right now, since I ran it so much during the spring that even without a GPS, I know all of my “typical” splits for the major course landmarks. Since I’m very much not in the shape I was in, it’s incredibly frustrating to see how far behind my times are (average time on course was ~38m)

Tuesday, August 14
 5 Miles, 740′ 44:16 Dead legs, humidity, general suffering while running.

Wed, August 15
 5 Miles, 740′ :43 More dead legs, some gnarly heartburn as well. Trying to remember how to run first thing in the morning, and my stomach seems to not be agreeing with coffee quite yet…. or it’s still lagging behind from the previous nights dinner… all in all, very frustrating.
PM 1 Mile, Barefoot 9:14 Barefootin’ always feels good, trying to get the biomechanics back in line, and get the two-a-days feeling normal.

Thurs August 16
 5 Miles, 360′ 39:39 Broken Shin Loop with the usual suspects. Luis flew ahead right out of the lot, so I ran the loop with Bob at a semi-recovery pace. Felt good to pound the pavement for a bit, gaining some confidence in my legs.

Fri August 17 
5 Miles, 740′ 44:52 Hearburn, dead legs, ran in the heat of the day. All in all, a bad idea.

Sat August 18
5 Miles 740′ 42:23 Back to a semi-normal run time on the course, and not feeling like complete and total crap the whole way. I think my body may be adjusting to the consistent running, I’m also starting to find my (slow) groove again.

Totals: 35 Miles, 5500′ Vert, 5h6m

So, we’re back to normal, sort-of. While I’m really excited that I can grind out a 35 mile week, and not re-injure myself, it’s tough to think about the mileage I was able to put in, as well as how long it may take me to get back to that sort of consistent volume. I’m also still wearing the ITB strap, although Sunday’s hash seemed to prove it unnecessary. Ideally, I’ll hang out at this ~35mpw range for a bit, add in some more barefooting, and eventually start to push the volume up (this time in a much more prudent manner).

No pictures, so here’s something that’s been on repeat in the car for a while now…

Hints of Normalcy

I’m (not) back. This past week I was able to scrounge together a seemingly normal running week for the first time in what seems like ages. Six consecutive days of running (Mon-Sat) with ~23 miles, and even a couple grand worth of Vert. While this is really chump change mileage-wise in comparison to the volume I prefer to run, nevermind the volume that I had thought I’d be putting in over the summer, I’ll take it. After several weeks of not running, running in pain, or running hesitantly, I’m beginning to fully see how massive a part of my life this really is.

While I choose to arbitrarily quantify my “weekly” totals with regard to the literal calendar week (Sun-Sat) today marks my 8th consecutive day of running, and 3rd consecutive day of getting on trail/some not so embarrassing vert (~140’/mile). While I’m certainly not in the sort of shape I’d like to be in at this part of the year (how can you not want to run all day during the summer…) I’ve managed to maintain a pretty fair amount of fitness, which I can really only attribute to the solid base I had until I got hurt, as well as some diligent gym visits utilizing both strength and cross-training.

As for the future? Right now it’s hard to really consider where the next several weeks are going to take me leg-wise, as after a modest 14 miles on trail over 3 days, my knee is feeling a slight bit twingy, which means, to me, that it isn’t fully prepared for the full on assault that my idea of ultra-marathon training would require. With this in mind, both Running With The Devil and Wildcat Ridge are officially off of my schedule although it looks like I will be at least crewing for Dave (and possibly Gene) at Wildcat. If things continue to progress at this rate, I could potentially be prepared to run at Wildcat, but I think the risks outweigh the desire to race. I am still rather convinced that I’ll run at Jay Peak but I’m mentally preparing myself for the possibility that I will either not be fully healed, or not be in the kind of shape I’d require of myself to undertake it as a race (and I’m not so interested in running ultras for the sake of running ultras). Beyond that, my plans are very much up in the air, I’m eyeing Mountain Madness which looks like a good course up in the Ramapo range, and I really should toe the line at some NJ race this year… I’m also flirting with running another road marathon, but that depends heavily on my ability and willingness to train specifically for a road race, so only time will really tell on that one.

Courtesy of ON

Finally back on the hill in my natural form… excepting the garter belt…