Summary Nov 20-26

Monday Nov 20, REST

Usual scheduled rest day, did some walking around, standing desk working, light stretching, and tons of foam rolling/R8 abusing.. you know, the usual crap

Tues Nov 21, 10.3 Miles, 312′ 1h15m

Very controlled effort at the rez, keeping things consistent/autopilot-ish. Threw in 4x30s fast with 2min recovery in the last 3 miles, for a little extra stimulus.

Wed Nov 22, 11.3 Miles, 476′ 1h26m

Plan was for 4 miles easy, 12x1min fast, 1 min easy, and 4 miles back, so I decided to start the run from my front door and head towards the reservoir to hit the intervals on the cushy gravel before heading back to the house. Overall I was feeling pretty soggy out the door, but perked up when it came time to put in “the work.” Return trip was plagued by some mild heartburn, and some seriously waning motivation so I basically jogged it in, slowly removing some more rubber from the bottom of my shoes

Thurs Nov 23, 11 Miles, 1493′ 1h42m

Martha dropped me off at the TH for Sanitas so that I could out and back the swoop (lion’s lair) and run back home within the prescribed daily distance. Caught a dude on his deck near Wonderland Lake blasting “Alice’s Restaurant” so I had to join in for chorus while I passed. Overall things felt really controlled/easy, and definitely warmed up the oven for some Thanksgiving consumption.

Fri Nov 24, 6 Miles, 420′ 50m

Super casual out the front door jog on the Foothills trail. Kept things deliberately easy/ controlled before driving to Crested Butte for the weekend.

Sat Nov 25, 15.3 Miles, 2014′ 2h38m

Martha found what looked like a pretty chill trail out the front door of our Crested Butte rental, so that seemed like the best idea for some higher altitude trail running. I didn’t however plan for the terrain being either ice covered, or shoe-sucking mud for the entire route, so after knotting my fists for a while I decided that it would just have to be an adventure, and that I might as well enjoy the scenery while I’ve got it. After slogging through the day (and forgetting to eat the gel I carried) i was pleasantly surprised at the overall pace — it almost looks like running!

Sun Nov 26, 12 Miles, 2264′ 2h2m

Front Door>Wonderland Lake>Goat Trail>Red Rocks>Sanitas via Swoop>East Ridge>Goat>Dog Park>Home. Threw in 4x 30s uphill striders before leaving the Sanitas Valley and cruising back home. Legs are feeling pretty solid after a big week, and even the late-run strides felt pretty reasonable.

Summary: 66 Miles, 6978′ 9h55m

Overall a good week. My legs have felt really solid through the increased distance, and intervallic work. I’d like to get a bit more vert, but that was mostly a symptom of time/location, and I’m pretty confident that next week will be ripe for some more climbing, and speed-work while keeping the volume similar.

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Looking North (Sanitas)
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Crested Butte (Pic: Martha Scheler)
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More CB (Pic: Martha Scheler)
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Summary Oct 16-22

Monday Oct 16 REST

Scheduled rest day after 2 weeks worth of business travel with a wedding sandwiched in-between. Really enjoying the new 7-3 schedule my boss requested, it has both the advantage of increased overlap with my co-workers (who are mostly on EST and GMT) and allowing me to wrap up unbelievably early. Spent the evening getting intimate with my R8 Roll Recovery, and hitting the rack early

Tuesday Oct 17, 8 Miles, 1565′ 1h16m46s

Very casual effort on the Mesa trail starting at Chautauqua and heading South. Fell into taking the uphills comfortably hard, and really relaxing on the downs. I haven’t spent much time on the Mesa trail–mainly using it as a means of accessing Green/Bear/South Boulder, so I was pleasantly surprised by the vertical gain/loss, as well as the rockier stretches.

Wed Oct 18, 10 Miles, 906′ 1h22m52s

4.1 Miles out my front door through Boulder and over towards the Centennial TH for repeats. Ran 10x30s uphill repeats from the TH enjoying the cushy gravel and views up the Canyon/over to Sanitas during recovery periods. Followed the repeats up with a casual jog back and around Wonderland lake before heading home. Perfect late afternoon sunshine over the foothills made for a nice cool-down.

Thurs Oct 19, 9.5 Miles, 1109′ 1h23m04s

MAGS! I texted El Jefe to make sure that it was okay to run Thursday’s effort up on Magnolia Road, and was pleasantly surprised when he not only green-lit the idea, but suggested hitting up Mags for anything that isn’t a slow/chill day. Headed out super-casually from the South end of the road for 4 miles, followed by another 10x30s uphill  session and a 4 mile casual run back to the truck. Some moderate heartburn ensured — note to self: spicy lunch and afternoon runs aren’t a great combo.

Fri Oct 19, 6 Miles, 480′ 47m22s

Easy-does-it front door effort on the  Foothills trail. It took the first three miles to shake the brain fog off of the work day.

Sat Oct 20, 14 Miles 3796′ 2h33m02s

NCAR>Bear Peak (8459′)>Green Mountain (8148′)>NCAR Via Mesa, Bear Canyon, and Green/Bear. Decidedly casual effort up to the top of Bear. I picked it up in the last 500 or so feet mostly because I was getting a chill from the winds. Built up some nerve headed back towards Green, where I ran into Ben, and the two of use decided to let loose back towards NCAR. Probably took the downhill a little faster than I should have (6:58, 7:53 through the switchbacks, 7:04 and 7:35 back to Mesa) but it felt too good to open up a little. Took a pretty gnarly spill about .5 miles from the mesa trail due to pure idiocy, but seem to have gotten out pretty much unscathed. Followed the run up with a proper FATurday celebration, and found myself no match for the Boulder Beer tempeh burger… I’ll try harder next time.

Sun Oct 21, 10.5 Miles, 2490′ 1h58m53s

Plan called for an “easy” 10 miles anywhere I wanted followed by 4x30s uphill strides, so I drove out to NCAR and headed up to Green Mountain via Bear Canyon>Green/Bear.  This is definitely my favorite stretch of trail in the area–a decidedly non-technical cushy stretch of single-track that averages 500’/mile (enough that you know you’re climbing, but not so steep that you can justify hiking). Ran much more conservatively than Saturday, really just soaking in the sunlight and enjoying paradise. 4x30s uphill at the end of the day was a serious junk-punch, but driving some quick turnover while run-down was still pretty fun.

Summary: 58 Miles, 10344′ 9h21m

Overall a really successful week. I’m unbelievably stoked to have some help with my training plan, and the feedback loop included within. While I’ve never had trouble getting the motivation to step out the front door, there’s a different degree of accountability driven by having a coach… and that makes those end of week uphill strides that much easier to do harder to avoid. I’m really excited to see where this goes as we head into winter, and start making concrete plans for 2018.

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Hmm, the #Tonkamotel might need some winter upgrades
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I can see my house from here!
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NoBo towards Green
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Green #35 (lifetime)
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No #cleanplateclub for me today 😦
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Summit #36

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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Taper (Mountain) Madness

“Tapering Sucks” was the singular text I sent my main training partner Eric. Eric, in his ever-positive voice of reason (one of his best character attributes) sought to remind me that I’m “building the energy,” which while comforting (and true) still doesn’t quench my desire to go for a several hour run right now.

I’ve always found tapering to be menacing, cutting off my training when it’s usually going the best seems cruel at best, at and times down right torturous… When I’ve timed things right, I hardly ever feel as if I need to taper, usually having already gritted my way through the hardest weeks of training,  and convinced my body that the volume of running I’m putting in is permanent, and thus sustainable.

This is of course complete bullshit, as very often, my body feels incredible just before it starts breaking down. It did so in March before my latest bout with running-induced injury, as well as before all of my best performances (and most painful injuries). I’m well aware that when I time my taper correctly, my body is as close to injury and breakdown as it can be without crossing that invisible line… and I’m also aware that often my body chooses to ignore aches and pains when it realizes that I have no intention to stop, only for these niggles to re-appear during tapering (see: healing). Intellectually I can process this, but emotionally… not as well. I know that I’m tuned up, and denying myself chances to run makes me feel like a fat kid left in a candy store who’s been told that he can’t touch anything, it just seems torturous.

As I continue to rest for the next 2 days leading into Mountain Madness, I have to remind myself that even without consistent testing my body is well prepared for the race. Until then, I’ll try to sleep more, eat as well as I can, and be patient. On Saturday however, I will toe the line, take the gloves off, and push myself towards the finish line as fast as I can, a return to my natural form, an ultra runner again, rather than some guy who keeps telling barroom stories about how he used to run far. Since it’s been a while since my last posting, here are some photo’s from the summers training.

Eric and Jason at Bear Mountain
Sunfish Pond (Photo: Eric Ashley)
From the annual Maine pilgrimage
The last battle with the Bonkasaur
Allamuchy

December 5-20

Friday December 5, 5 Miles 610′ 36m48s
First run after a 5 day layoff from an exceptionally gnarly stomach bug. Legs were feeling very peppy, I suppose taking the brunt of a week off is enough to let the muscles an tendons heal, and gain some substantial pop back. Turnover felt really smooth, but a few days off made down-hilling more trepidatious than usual.
PM 1 hour Climbing
Went to the rock gym with Jeff, felt generally secure on trad routes, but lacking overall grip strength limiting my willingness to try any bigger moves.

Sat Dec 6, 7.5 Miles 794′ 56m59s
Legs were still feeling pretty poppy, stayed generally in a MAF training zone for the duration, while actively trying to increase the tempo/keep the heart rate up on the downhills.

Sun Dec 7, 15.6 Miles 3369′ 3h13m
Dunfield Creek TH>Tammany>TH>Racoon Ridge>TH(via AT) Awful stomach, just plain awful. Whatever stomach big I had the week prior seemed to come back in the middle of the night, so even leaving the house was probably a foolish idea. Couldn’t eat much of anything or the duration of the day (including breakfast) combined with wicked heartburn and a general queasiness throughout the day. Legs felt fine, which is encouraging, but a bonky run is always frustrating, especially when you’re neither physically or emotionally prepared for it.

Totals: 28.1 Miles, 4774′ 4h47m 
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Mon Dec 8, 3 Miles 151′ 21:49
Usual Monday shakeout, starting to trend a little faster now, which is usually a good sign of incoming fitness, but something I should make a deliberate effort to hold off on, it’s supposed to be a recovery effort after all.

Tues Dec 9, 5 Miles 636′ 38:57
Exercise induced heartburn. Undoubtedly one of the most frustrating things going on with my body right now, especially considering how easily (chemically) controlled it is… note: keep tums in your shorts.
PM Climbing 
Generally feeling weak. I should know better than to expect to have a shitty day in one activity that requires a certain synergy between mind and body and then expect to do better in the same day at something comparably mentally and physically challenging.

Wed Dec 10, 5.5 Miles 1122′ 47:27
Reger Road Repeats. 5x the ~215′ climb (over 0.4 miles) up the hill nearest my home. Maximal effort on the ascent followed by a pseudo-jog back to the base. Huge positive splits over the course of the day, and kind of a disappointing amount of willingness to suffer anaerobically.

Thurs Dec 11, 10 Miles 758′ 1h23m
True Recovery effort. Quads were generally shot from Wednesday’s hill effort, and heartburn reared it’s ugly head again, thankfully Donde Es had some tums in his trunk saving me from more discomfort than necessary.

Fri Dec 12, 3 Miles 151′ 21:19
Feeling a lot peppier today than expected, especially with regards to how shitty my legs felt upon getting out of bed.

Sat Dec 13, 10 Miles, 935′ 1h8m
Last minute schedule changes convinced me to toss the long-run for the weekend and instead try a hilly tempo out my front door. Slight cramping showed up in my left calf, which is a definite first for me, but otherwise things felt really good, super-consistent heart rate, only 1BPM above MAF range.

Sun Dec 14, 5 Miles 689′ 38:32
Supposed to be a recovery run, but instead seemed to get a little out of hand… or at least on paper it looks a little more out of hand. Knocked off one Strava segment while coming within 1s of another all while maintaining what seemed like a rather comfortable/sustainable effort throughout.

Totals: 41.7 Miles 4452′ 5h20m

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Mon Dec 15, 5 Miles, 676′ 36m38s
Exhausted after work and Manhattan commuting, but forced myself out of the house after getting home, and running trails by headlamp for the first time since May. Legs were feeling exceptionally poppy, and I’m starting to get a lot more comfortable moving at a higher sustained effort/pace. I think using the HRM intermittently is becoming a great tool for quantifying my general effort level, and acknowledging what kind of effort is actually sustainable.

Tues Dec 16, 1 Mile, 23′ 7m30s 
Streak-keeper before work/holiday party.

Wed Dec 17, 6.5 Miles 1257′ 52m44s
Workout Wednesday. 6X Reger Road sprints with ~90 second break after 3rd repeat. This week had a LOT closer grouping between the slowest and quickest repeat, with a delta of only 28seconds as opposed to lat weeks ~1min differential.

Thurs Dec 18, 11.4 Miles, 886′ 1h31m
Felt okay throughout most of the run, with a few middle miles feeling downright peppy. Mild heartburn show up again at the midway point, followed by the wheels slowly falling off over the final 3 miles. A few hip twinges and general overall tightness combined with some latent fatigue prevented a generally strong finish.

Fri Dec 19, 3 Miles 151′  21m43s
Strava keeps telling me that this route is trending upward… and maybe its a good thing that my “shakeout” road pace is in the low 7’s… although somewhere deep in my stomach I still think this might be too quick for a run designed purely to move some blood through my tired legs.

Saturday Dec 20, 20 Miles, 3497′ 3h55m
High Point>Sunrise Mountain>High Point Failure, pure failure. Undoubtedly the most desultory effort I can think of in at least 18 months, maybe more. I’ve run this route once before in 2012 and while there were a few inches of snow on the ground hiding the rocks, I don’t recall it being anywhere near as technically demanding as it seemed today, in fact I was holy convinced that every step of the route should be reasonably runnable. Setting high expectations for a route is usually the first step towards failure, combining this with a couple of nasty falls (one seems to have banged up my knee pretty well) took what should have been a relatively consistent and strong effort and turned it into a slog of epic proportions. My 1:37 split to Sunrise Mountain was respectable, but already being furious with the obscene technical nature of the trail, slight bonking, and a banged up knee and ankle turned into the worst positive splits I’ve amassed since 2011 or 2012. Looking back at my entry from 2012 on the same route, I managed a 3:39 with only a 13 min positive split… so expecting similar positive splits today, this should have taken ~30 mins off of that effort. Instead it ended up being +25mins. I’ve been doing this sport long enough to know that a single shitty effort is not indicative of fitness, chutzpa, or ability, but such an abysmal outing is surely enough to knock around your confidence.

Sunday Dec 21 OFF

Totals: 46.9 Miles 6499′ 7h25m

My Camera hasn’t been too active lately, so enjoy some photo’s from the picturesque Thanksgiving weekend…

Sunfish Pond

Steve’s first Mt. Tammany

Somewhere on the Kittatinny Ridge

Tammany #27 on the year

Ran into Dr. Lundeen on Summit #28


Summary Nov 10-16

Monday November 10, AM 3 Miles, 151′ 23m16s
Short shake-out type thing. Legs haven’t fully recovered from the previous Saturday’s abuse… I might still be able to grind out a 4+ hour run, but recovering from it is another story.
PM Bike, 47m34s
Local neighborhood bike ride, figured I’d take ‘Zilla out for what is probably the last ride of the season.

Tuesday November 11, AM 7 Miles, 663′ 55m46s
Overall a really desultory local road loop out my front door. I’d been foolishly hoping that a couple of days of light running/XT would give my legs ample opportunity to recover, but the reality is that the ability to grind day in and day out is probably my biggest indicator of fitness, and is sorely missing right now.
PM Climbing 2.5hrs
Headed over to the rock gym with Zach. Spent most of the time bouldering and learning better ways to do a sport that I’m admittedly pretty terrible at (perhaps why I’m so intrigued by it right now).

Wed Nov 12, 10 Miles, 879′ 1h21m
Another grindtastic day. First time in recent memory that I can recall seriously considering walking some road uphills. Suffering from a really general lack of strength, and inability to climb in any way becoming of a runner.

Thurs Nov 13 AM, 10 Miles, 896′ 1h15m
Lunch-time run with Jay. Surprisingly peppy after a few days of grind, especially when I think about how I walked down the stairs in the morning. Sometimes you just need a bit of companionship to get the pop back into your legs.
PM 3.1 Miles, 148′ 27m49s
Shakeout-like modified broken-shin loop with the highlands hashers.

Fri Nov 14, AM 3.5 Miles, 568′ 32m17s
Figured I’d hit up the power-lines with the fresh inch or so of powder on the ground. Awful time gaining purchase on the inclines combined with the shitty legs I’ve had all week made for a much slower than anticipated outing.
PM Climbing 1 Hour

Saturday Nov 15, 13.5 Miles, 3120′ 2h33m
DunCreek TH>Tammany Via Red dot>Sunfish>DunCreek>Tammany>TH. Very mercurial outing at the Water Gap. Legs were a lot less peppy than I would have liked, and the fresh coating of snow made for a lot of questionable footing.

Sunday Nov 16, 3 Miles, 161′ 21m42s
Another shake-out run… I felt really good out the door, but I was reminded of the latent fatigue in my legs within a mile or so… Ugh, failing to recover any sort of leg peppiness is getting tiresome.
PM Climbing 1 Hour

Totals 53 Miles, 6585′ 7h50m

Overall not a bad week. It’s remarkably comforting to be back in the “regular” grind of things, and while there’s still a lot of miles ahead of me, it’s nice to feel like I’m finally able to put some behind as well. I may have been a little over-exuberant in last weekends efforts, at least relative to my body’s ability to recover, an ability whose diminution I’m acutely aware of….



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

Hiking

Mountains should be climbed with as little effort as possible and without desire. The reality of your own nature should determine the speed. If you become restless, speed up. If you become winded, slow down. You climb the mountain in an equilibrium between restlessness and exhaustion. Then, when you’re no longer thinking ahead, each footstep isn’t just a means to an end but a unique event in itself. This leaf has jagged edges. This rock looks loose. From this place the snow is less visible, even though closer. These are things you should notice anyway. To live only for some future goal is shallow. It’s the sides of the mountain which sustain life, not the top. Here’s where things grow. But of course, without the top you can’t have any sides. It’s the top that defines the sides.”

–Robert Pirsig
In the past several years of running pursuits it seems that I’ve to an extent lost touch with the real reason for going into the woods. Running is of course, enjoyable in its own right, and I by no means intend to diminish my love of the sport, or the races that exist on the terrain that so compels me. Instead I intend to embrace the realization that I’ve been training for the sole purpose of competition, and not for the sake of training itself, and these two views needn’t be mutually exclusive. 
The last week of August I received a text message from Steve wondering if I wanted to go to the White Mountains for a few days over Labor Day weekend. Little did he know that I had already reserved a camp site with the intention of doing some running/hiking/sleeping trail-side to clear my head after a summer almost entirely devoid of the activity. 
Steve had run his 100 mile debut at Leadville 2 weeks prior, and had invited his friend Bradley, with the main intention of hiking the Presidential Traverse. I added my old college buddy Marcus, and his co-worker Jed to set off on what turns out is my first pure hiking trip since 2011. The Presidential Traverse allows hikers to spend the majority of their day above treeline while bagging arguably the most iconic peaks that the range has to offer, all while being incredibly technical, and accumulating 7000-9000′ of ascent over 22 miles. 
It’s important to be clear that while we were hiking throughout the trip, we still maintained a running-oriented aesthetic, travelling lighter than most hikers traditionally would, and moving comparatively fast. Considering this, spending 8+ hours above treeline, moving at a relatively leisurely pace, eating “real” food (okay, nutella and tortilla is probably not a great example of real food, but compared to my running habit of gels-only it’s a major upgrade) and being able to chat and joke all day was a welcome refresher from the huff, puff, grunt and groan of the true mountain run. 
Moving at a pace designed with the sole intention of enjoying the space you’re in is strangely liberating. The camera beckons more, the lichens on the rocks speak differently, chatting with strangers is suddenly not an annoyance, but simply something you do. The lack of a goal (other than perhaps, reaching the bar before the kitchen closes) changes the entire dynamic of the adventure, reminding you that you’re doing this for the sake of doing it, not to win races, not to look better naked, not to win the adoring hearts of women and pets, but to simply exist in a rugged environment.
In one of the more recent TNF vignettes, Rory Bosio says that if you’re doing it right, training shouldn’t feel like training, it should feel like vacation. I’ve seemed to lose track of this, concerning myself too much with the statistical side of my running, getting frustrated with myself on days where my legs refuse to allow me to run up a given incline, or across particularly technical terrain. But in reality there’s a validity to hiking, it’s a necessity in almost all ultra-marathons (or at least in almost all of the races that I’m eyeing). Hiking up hills is an acquired skill that must be practiced, and the descent can be a clinic in foot placement. Most overlooked however, is that hiking, whether for the sole sake of it, or part of a training regimen, or even sometimes because that’s the fastest your body will allow you to travel is good for the soul, a proper recharge, or chance to hit the reset button and evaluate your priorities in both your athletic and regular life. 
Photo Courtesy of Bradley Barr

Summary March 31 – April 6

Mon March 31, 7 Miles, 459′ 51m9s
First “real” run since coming down with an unusually aggressive stomach-virus the previous Thursday. Still feeling marginally weak, with the sensation that my stomach could only hold a few ounces of food/liquid combined without being knotted up.
PM 1 Mile, 7m30s Treadmill session after work, stomach faring substantially worse.

Tues April 1, 9.4 Miles, 3547′ 1h55m
Three anti-clockwise trips up and down Mt. Tammany. Overall a relatively consistent/substantial effort on the mountain, especially considering the havoc that the winter had wreaked on both my access to technical ascents/descents and my overall vertical gain. My stomach was still showing signs of the weekends distress, evidenced by its reluctance to take in food/water, but even with some mild bonking I’m really happy with the performance of my legs.

Wed April 2, 10.3 Miles, 1217′ 1h24m
Power-line trails in the late AM. I was wholeheartedly expecting my legs to be completely shot after Tuesday’s vertical fiasco, but other than some very generalized soreness, the whole kinetic chain was functioning properly and without complaint. I probably should have pushed a lot harder, but just wasn’t seeing the point  of it… some general mental fatigue combined with a little prudence yielded a much more compassionate pace.
PM 2.5 Miles, H20 Treadmill, 20m
Unusually grinding effort, typically I feel rather free taking advantage of the underwater treadmills at work, but today everything just felt kind of sloppy/difficult.

Thurs April 3, 14 Miles, 988′ 1h45m
Kind of a modified Broken-Shin-esque outing from Morris Ave. Ran into Dave a few miles in, and talked him into joining me for the remainder of my primary loop before meeting up with the rest of the guys for the usual 7pm jaunt. I decided to pick things up in the middle of the typical 5 miler, rounding down into the low 6:00 range for a couple of miles to generally see how my legs would respond to some up-tempo running with some substantial residual fatigue and found that in actuality, it was pretty effortless.

Fri April 4, 11 Miles, 314′ 1h26m
Generally a desultory outing, mist/rain combined with a complete lack of pop in my legs pretty much guaranteed a pretty miserable experience. I could probably justifiably blame some of the shittiness on the knowledge that Saturday was going to provide great weather, and my longest outing of the year (providing some incentive to take things lighter) but really it was just a crappy day to be outside, and a crappy day to be using my body for running.

Sat April 5, 25 Miles, 5279′ 4h33m
Dunnfield Creek>Tammany>Sunfish Pond>Dunnfield Creek>Minsi>Tammany>Dunnfield Creek>Tammany>Dunnfield Creek. Probably the most technically demanding and vertical intensive course I could imagine without putting some serious mileage on my car as well. The initial ascent, was only 28 seconds slower than my PR(18:18 as opposed to 17:50), but felt pretty awful, and generally speaking it took a solid hour before I began to really find any sense of rhythm. Once I managed to settle in, things began to flow a lot better, and even exerting maximal effort seemed not just right, but compulsory.
Sun April 6, 6 Miles, 420′ 46m35s
Shakeout, not overly sore, but generally a perfunctory effort. Suffering from some indigestion (Falafel was a bad idea) and generally feeling fatigued.

Totals: 86.2 Miles, 12,254′ 13h10m

An exceptionally productive week. Running in the mountains again I’m constantly reminded of the flow that we seek in every single outing, that perfect synergy of mind and body wherein comfort transcends the physical, and becomes a sensation of rightness, of total immersion in the activity at hand, a place where the tedious and the sublime hold equal levels of importance. Long days in the mountains are nothing if not an intense self-examination of experiencing a moment with full attention.

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