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.

DSCN0756
Looking North (Sanitas)
IMG_9783
Crested Butte (Pic: Martha Scheler)
IMG_9805
More CB (Pic: Martha Scheler)
Advertisements

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.

IMG_2587
Hmm, the #Tonkamotel might need some winter upgrades
DSCN0741
I can see my house from here!
IMG_2596
NoBo towards Green
DSCN0745
Green #35 (lifetime)
IMG_2599
No #cleanplateclub for me today 😦
DSCN0747
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

dsc_0060
Len braves the early morning cold
dsc_0058
Scott getting ready
img_2136
Jayson Stretches off the drive
img_2135
Can’t begin without coffee

dscn0547

img_2137
Scott finishes our first scramble
dscn0573
Seems like a reasonable place to hang
dscn0578
Guiseppe has the reverse
dscn0577
Mike was grinning the whole day as he admired his handiwork
dscn0579
Happy James
dscn0584
Laura Drops the downhill
dscn0590
Final Crossing

dscn0589

Summary Oct 31 – Nov 6

Oct 31, 8 Miles, 764′ 1h2m

Standard out-the-front-door loop before starting the workday. I’ve been readjusting my schedule lately to further embrace my inherent morning-person-ness, and that includes trying to be out my front door prior to 6am. Unfortunately this also means that the majority of my runs are in complete darkness until the clocks turn. While I enjoy the solitude and quietness of the pre-dawn sessions, having the sun fail to rise before my return is definitely less-than ideal.. next week should be way cooler on that front.

Nov 1, 8 Miles, 846′ 1h1m

Modified version of my out-the-door 8 miler to cut out some of the flat and add ~100′ of vert to kickoff the annual Highlands Hashers King of the Mountains competition a.k.a. VertVember a.k.a. HurtVember.

Nov 2, 8 Miles, 804′ 1h3m

Decidedly less spunky legs this morning, most likely the result of a few longer-than-standard office days with interspersed desk-dweller XT exercises.

Nov 3, 12.7 Miles, 1335′ 1h46m

Split this up as multiple efforts on Strava to avoid the 10 min BS session in the parking lot before heading out with the HH guys, but basically it was 2x Hillcrest + 1x Hillcrest taking the most direct route from the lot to the top of the hill. Descending on the first effort also included one of the more rad sunsets I’ve seen from the top of the hill in quite sometime making me more than a little bummed that I had left my camera back at the house.

Nov 4, 3.6 Miles 755′ 35m

Low-energy, low leg-pop repeats of the hill leading up to my house. Remarkably low heart-rate considering the general lethargy as well as the not totally embarrassing pace.

Nov 5, 13.4 Miles, 5,016′ 3h19m

4x Tammany with Eric. One of the main upsides of the HurtVember competition is the likelihood that one of my buddies will come out for a totally absurd adventure such as running up Tammany until you get either bored, tired, or run out of daylight. We were decidedly unambitious about pace, but averaging <50mins for a lap is nothing to scoff at.. (my logbook indicates a March 2012 4xTammany in 2:45, which I now feel compelled to try to best..)

Summary: 57.6 Miles, 10,223′ 9h25m

Overall a pretty good week considering that I’m ambitiously training for nothing at the moment. I had been flirting with pacing at Philadelphia, but previous social commitments have eliminated that as a possibility, so I’m back to the drawing board for this months adventure… I’m sure something cool will come up

dscn0529
Gearing up at the #tonkamotel
dscn0531
Tammany sure is nice in Autumn
dscn0533
Allamuchy never gets old

dscn0539

Summary, Aug 29 – Sept 4

Monday Aug 29, 6 Miles, 404′ 53:57

Exhausted post-work grind on a usual neighborhood loop. Sunday’s Marathon Pace Tempo really did a number on my system, leaving me basically useless for the remainder of the day,  and even running easy on Monday it was still obvious that my body hadn’t had the proper time to sort itself back out.

Tuesday Aug 30, 6.1 Miles, 459′ 48:37

Feeling a lot more spry today. May have been the early morning start (as they’re usually my best efforts) or more likely the increased recovery. Added an extra 10th of pure running to make it back to a meeting on time (rather than walking it in as a cool-down).

PM 4 Miles, 312′ 31:59

Kittatinny State Park with Steve, Stat and Zack from the Salt Shakers group. Tried to keep things as non-aggressive as possible due to the moderate amount of funk still hanging out in my legs This led to the group slowly pulling away from me during the last mile as I tried to keep my HR under 150.

Wednesday Aug 31, 1.5 Miles 138’14:21

Early morning Shakeout — Legs have been feeling crappy all week, combined with actually having to commute into the office led to a particularly short day.

Thursday Sept 1, 8 Miles 768′ 1h7m

Ascending HR run, still trying to stay under 155 (151 avg HR). Utilized the downhills for HR recovery which kept the average pretty low, but the final climb into my apartment is so steep that without actually hammering the last 1/2 mile it will inevitably sink the average pace for the day.

PM 10 Miles, 734′ 1h19m

Double BSL with Mark then Dave. Last few miles felt unusually good, and was one of the fleeting moments where I entered the space wherein time stops, and nothing matters but the rhythm of your breath, feet and heart.

Friday Sept 2, 1.5 Miles, 148′ 13:50

Another light shakeout.

Saturday Sept 3, 18.2 Miles, 1480′ 2h34m

Scouting run with Steve and Zach through Allamuchy and Kittatinny. First time I’ve ever run my usual Allamuchy trails in reverse as we were scouting to determine the viability of a course I’ve dreamt up. Overall the legs felt good, and even found the opportunity to slide back into the flow state for the final 5 or 6 miles, which is unusual.. typically if I get there once a week that’s a great week, but this week I’ve found myself entirely lost within my run twice, and frankly couldn’t be happier about it.

1.8 Miles — cool down 16:52

Drop the bottle, lose the shirt, kick-start the ultra-shuffle.

Sunday Sept 4, 10 Miles 302′ 1h35m

Total jog/slogfest. Nothing particular was bad, but absolutely nothing in my body was feeling good either. Lack of sleep and general malaise.

 

Totals:67.6 Miles, 4787’9h36m

IMG_2008
Have truck, will chill
IMG_2009
Steve and Zack Apres
IMG_2007
El Nido is all set for the runbum life
IMG_2005
Who’s got some Heady Topper!?
DSCN0477
Allamuchy Obligatory

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

Summary April 7-13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Totals: 86.1 Miles, 9,314’12h13m

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


Summary Jan 13-26

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Totals: 54.4 Miles, 4514′ 8-hours

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Totals: 53.7 Miles, 3323′ 7h7m

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

Schooley’s

The mandex photo’s are coming back


Race Report: NJ Trail Series Mountain Madness 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary Sept 9-15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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