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.

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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

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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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

Summary Feb 4-10

Monday Feb 4, 4 Miles, 350′ :28 Short run through the neighborhood before rehearsals, feeling pretty okay.

Tuesday Feb 5, 10 Miles 2960′ 1:23 Power Line trails double-loop. Usually I positive split pretty heavily on the course (mostly out of over-exuberance, and generally bad planning) but I ran the second loop faster than the first.

Wed Feb 6, 7 Miles, 940′ :47 Local roads. I’m starting to really enjoy the mile-ish incline in the second mile (I use the same road on a 10 mile course as well). Rather than taking it easy on the uphills I’m trying diligently to really crank the HR on the ups, which I think is starting to pay off.

Thurs Feb 7, AM 5 Miles, 1480′ :38 Pre-class jaunt on the power line trails, really getting this loop dialed in, and much earlier than last year.

PM 5 Miles 720′ :39 Broken Shin Loop with the guys, unintentionally turned into a pseudo-fartlek mostly because I felt like running faster, but didn’t want to be anti-social, causing me to run ahead, and then slow to snails pace until everyone caught up.

Fri Feb 8, 1 Mile :08 Went out in the snowstorm for a quick mile, feeling kind of run down, and generally tired. Thankful for the unanticipated day off from class.

Sat Feb 9, 1800′ 6.5 Miles, 1:50 Post-holing with Jason. I don’t think I’ve ever worked this hard to go this slowly. The whole effort was a heart-in-your-throat heavy breathing nearly vomit-inducing effort for nearly 2 hours straight.

Sun Feb 10, 940′ 7 Miles, :47 Another neighborhood run, feeling pretty tired/beat up from the previous day, but my legs are moving well.

Totals: 45.5 Miles, 10,990′ 

 
 

Post-Holing

This morning Jason and I braved the post-Nemo drifts of snow to do some post-holing up through Allamuchy. Now, this may seem like a bit of a ridiculous endeavor, we both have snow shoes, which are designed specifically for moving through (or over) large amounts of snow, in fact, they’re arguably the most efficient means of bi-pedal transportation through the mountains when there’s a substantial amount of snow to negotiate. We however, decided to throw efficiency to the wind, after all, we’re “mountain runners” so run on the mountain we shall! Knowing full ahead that things would be incredibly slow, I decided to travel unusually heavy, carrying a pack with some extra gels, water, and a couple of “oh shit, there’s a foot of snow on the ground and I’m cold” layers, as well as a phone (which I never do).

Now it’s worth mentioning here that I don’t necessarily recommend going out substantially under-prepared/dressed when there’s the better part of a foot of snow on the ground, but Jason and I are pretty well experienced in the woods, and in spite of our generally light loads, we were more than confident that we had planned well enough to handle a few miles in the snow. So, we strapped on some MICROspikes, and started heading up the mountain. Within a few hundred yards however, it became brutally obvious that we were in for one heck of a gnarly workout.

We ended up going from TH>Summit>Parking Lot>Summit>Parking Lot>Summit>TH in just under 2 hours (1:50) covering roughly 6.5 miles, and  3600′ of total vertical change, alternating between literally breaking trail (trust me, it’s as strenuous as you think) to following some snowshoe footprints, which offered little respite from the inherently arduous task of moving on trail through that much snow. While the obvious additional drag of that much snow obviously makes things tough, more frustrating is that general lack of traction in spite of the MICROspikes. While spikes are incredibly in almost every setting, it seems that in deep snow, they’re really just putting a band-aid on a bullet wound, so for every time you plant your foot, you’re losing at least 6″ before the chains gain purchase (it’s way worse without the spikes…)

I’ve found that one of the best parts of being a so-called mountain runner is that you simply have to roll with whatever the mountain gives you. Sometimes, it gives you a fantastic day, and sometimes you slip and slide your way to the slowest 6.5 miles you’ve ever run. Normally, I’d be concerned about what will surely amount to a pretty low weekly mileage, especially since I’d planned (mentally) to go pretty far today, but 2-ish hours of heart pounding nearly vomit-inducing slogging up and down the mountain in nearly a foot of snow is probably a better workout that anything I could have imagined otherwise, and certainly required a longer sustained heavy effort than I would have managed without such conditions. So the next time there’s some serious-ass snow on the ground, you’ll find me charging up the nearest mountain, knee deep in snow, breathing heavily.

Look! I packed a bag!

Jason on some recently packed trail

Obligatory summit shot. Photo: Jason Friedman

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Summary Jan 21- Feb 3

Monday Jan 21, 11.7 Miles, 3000′ 1:54 Allamuchy with Jason, relatively relaxed pace, probably should have brought spikes for the last 4 or 5 miles, it was pretty slippery.

Tues Jan 22, 7 Miles, 1:04 Treadmill. Trying to use the ‘mill for some sustained uphill climbing, since you can’t really do that in New Jersey. Breakdown as follows:
20 mins @ 7:30 pace for a
10 mins @ 10% incline
10 mins @ 7% incline
5 mins @ 15% incline
18 mins @ 8 minute pace, flat, to shake out

PM 1 mile :9 Shakeout

Wed Jan 23, 4 Miles, 350′ :30 Way too cold outside (~7 degrees)

Thurs Jan 24, 8 Miles, 1:00 Another day on the dreadmill, these freezing temps and wind are really annoying.

Fri Jan 25, 7 Miles, 940′ :47 Usual neighborhood jaunt

Sat Jan 26, 7 Miles, 940′ :48 Rinse and repeat

Sun Jan 27, 1 Mile :8

Mon Jan 28, 5 Miles 1480′ :41 Pedestrian effort on the power line trails

PM 1 Mile :8 ‘Mill mile before leg workout

Tues Jan 29, AM 10 Miles, 1100′ 1:15 Tempo-ish road run
PM 1 Mile :8 ‘Mill miles again, decent shakeout

Wed Jan 30, 10 Miles, 1100′ 1:15 Solid back to back with the same pace, even on softer legs. Pretty excited about this, really.

Thurs Jan 31, 5 Miles, 360′ :42 Broken shin loop with Bob and Dave, eventually Jason showed up at the bar post-run.

Fri Feb 1, 1 Mile, 7:30 Long day, not much time for running

Sat Feb 2, 14.5 Miles, 960′ Ran with Dave and both of the Bob’s at the functional ass-crack of dawn, in spite of the low teens for temps, it was a good run, with a nice pickup at the end.

Sun Feb 3, 5 Miles, 1480′ :41 Satisfying jaunt through the power line trails.

Overall a lot of road… actually, a shit-ton of road. Starting to get back on the trails as my schedule becomes a bit more consistent, so we’ll see what the upcoming weeks look like.

Jan Totals: 217 Miles, 35,960′