Summary Dec 5-11

Monday Dec 5, 6 Miles, 449′ 47m56s

Overslept the 4:30 wakeup call which meant leaving the house at 6:17 on a compressed schedule. Generally the legs felt okay but lacked any sort of snappiness as has been the norm since the Fallback 50K right before Thanksgiving. Fortunately my hip seems to have recovered better, and is substantially less sore.

Tues Dec 6, Warmup 1.5 Miles 59′ 12m, Workout –6.7 Mile, 174′ Tempo, 45m13s 

Pre-dawn solo Tempo Tuesday. Avg HR was 167 throughout the workout, and the first 3 miles felt exceptionally grueling, add to that a very dejecting 6:52 split for mile 3 made me rethink the idea of tempo runs in the cold-pre-dawn hours without a training partner around to push me. Final 3.7 miles felt better, but didn’t provide much more in the way of snappy splits despite the elevated HR effort. Afterwards my hip flared up a bit an felt tight for the remainder of the day — back to fire-hydrants and foam rolling. .49 Mile cool down 

Wed Dec 7, 8 Miles 745′ 59m59s

Forecast called for snow, so rather than doing pre-dawn battle with the snow-plow man I chose to sleep in and hit my run after work. Naturally no snow was on the ground when I got up, but conditions after work were ideal, so I can’t really complain. First two (downhill) miles out my front door were recklessly quick — especially relative to the “8 miles EZ” written in my plan for the day. Legs felt confidently snappy making for a very enjoyable outing

Thurs Dec 8, 7 Miles 338′ 51m

Negatives workout with JP. JP has been espousing his regular negative split workouts running from 8-830 pace down to a final all-out mile, so I finally got myself together and joined him for a 7 mile version. Mentally the need to consistently best your previous mile makes for an interesting workout from a pacing/effort calculation point of view, and the constant acceleration facilitates a sort of fatigue that for now feels more than a little unique. Splits were 8:29, 7:55, 7:27, 7:06, 6:54, 6:40, and 6:19.

1 Mile cool down (9m9s 39′) followed by 5 Mile Social run (44m43s 337′)

Fri Dec 9, 2.3 Miles, 259′ 19m56s 

Easy neighborhood shakeout. Generally fatigued throughout the day and wanted to take the chance to recover a bit before Saturday’s inevitable sufferfest.

Sat Dec 10, Warmup — 2.3 Miles, 180′ 18m3s, Workout — 13.1 Miles 1h27m33s

Typical Chatham loop Saturday course with Jay and Jeff. With Jay and I just starting our training blocks, and Jeff in between a PR and planning his next races no one was checking their watches until we hit mile five or six. Surprisingly we were only a few seconds faster than our agreed upon pace of “45-ish” although I still can’t seem to wrap my head around how much easier tempo runs seem to get after the first few miles. We finished the workout alternating 400m pace line pulls dropping the group down to a 5:59 final mile, and according to my watch, the last 10th got to 5:47 pace.

Sun Dec 11, 11 Miles 1578′ 1h52m1s Allamuchy TH>Overlook>White>Waving Willy>SBX>Cement Mixer>TH with Pack and Eric

Woke up feeling pretty stiff/fatigued from Saturday’s effort as well as ravenously hungry, with some disconcerted swelling in my necks lymph nodes. Overall effort was pretty relaxed on the mountain, and considering the vert over the course I’m actually quite pleased that low 10’s are possible with an avg HR of 135. Great day to get out with some friends and hit up some always stellar trails.

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Eric at the Overlook
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Pack’s first Allamuchy Ramble
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Mmm, Mate

 

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Gunks Fat-Ass Fallback 50K

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

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

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

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

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

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Summary 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.

High(er) Places

Running up mountainsides is what I like to do in my free time, here are some photo’s to reinforce that idea. Regular training updates will return soon, but hopefully these can whet everyone’s appetite for more/better mountain porn.

Slide (4160′) from Cornell (3860′)

Wittenberg (3780′)

Tammany (1526′) Photo: Jayson Kolb
Kolbster trying out the “Moon Boots” on our Tammany>Sunfish Pond>Minsi route
Coming off of Minsi (1461′) Photo: Jayson Kolb

Maine

Saddleback Mountain 4,116′

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

Saddleback Mountain 4,116′

Descending from Saddleback>Rt 4 Via AT

Crossing from The Horn>Saddleback (AT)

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

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

See above

Ditto

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary July 8-21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Totals: 79.3 Miles, 15,670′ Vert

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Totals:  109 Miles 20,620′ Vert 

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

Allamuchy Round 1

‘Muchy Round 2

Planning some August adventures

Summary 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

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