Tuesday, December 30, 2014

First Full Green Lane Loop

I wanted a decent run today, especially since I wasn't working.  I wanted miles, but nothing too challenging.  I decided to drive down to the Green Lane Reservoir.  I ran about 7 or 8 miles there in the summer.  It was fun.

The weather was interesting.  It was supposed to be cold and was at times, but with the sun out, it wasn't too bad.  I wore shorts and a long sleeve shirt.  I needed gloves when the sun became hidden late in the run.  I was glad that I put them in my UD Vest.

I parked in the middle of the Red Trail.  I had run to this part last time.  It starts with a kind of boring field trail along the water.  The scenery is nice, but the trail was boring.  At least it was easy.  The ground made it a little interesting though as it was frozen and sloppy at first.  It got much better.

I continued on the boring trail.  I think this is made for horses.  At one point, it turned to a stone trail.  Again, I wasn't enjoying it.  At least I knew that the miles were clicking off faster there.

After crossing the road twice, I got to a parking area and grabbed a map.  I continued on the Red Trail.  Finally, it turned into a fun singletrack.  I was thrilled, even if it didn't last long.

A short while later, I was on the Connector Trail.  It was a boring stone trail again at first and then paved near the end.  Again, at least I could run this quick.  I cruised downhill and could see the waterfall from the dam to my right.

It then connected with the Perkiomen Trail.  There was a guy that looked homeless and he was drinking a beer on a bridge.  He had a six pack with him too.  That was interesting.

I thought the Perkiomen Trail would be paved.  Instead, it was woods road and then stone.  I came out to a park after a bit.  I wasn't quite sure where the trail went, but I had to use the bathroom anyway, so I went there.  I then found the trail, after looking at a map.

The trail went along the road for a bit.  Then, I saw the connection to the Blue Trail.  I ran a lot of this before and it had miles of singletrack.  I was really looking forward to it.  I came through an hour with about 6.25 miles. 

The Blue Trail was a wide trail at first.  It sucked too because it was uphill.  I decided to just walk it.  It also allowed me time to take out some pretzels and eat them.  I had nothing for lunch.  Two horses came by the other way.  They were trotting along.

At the top, the Blue Trail crossed a road.  It then turned into a fun singletrack.  It went downhill and then followed that up with a fairly steep uphill.  I continued along.  The only times I was stopping, other than to eat, was to take photos.  I was moving along.

It was nice to get to the road into the park.  I crossed that and was now to the part of the Blue Trail that I had run before.  This part was a lot of fun.  It was singletrack along the ridge, near the water.  The views were nice.  The trail seemed less technical that I recalled in the summer.

There were signs up to tell me the trail was difficult.  It wasn't though.  It was merely short, steep downhills and uphills.  Nothing I can't handle without any issues.  It did this a few times.

I really enjoyed this Blue Trail.  I hit miles 9 and 10.  My back was getting a little sore and I was sweaty, but overall, not too bad.  I battled on.

Eventually, I finished the Blue Trail.  That was right before mile 11.  Now, I had the Red Trail to take back to the car.  This wasn't fun, as it was paved.  At least it was fast.  It was neat that I was running on a bridge over the water.  My car came up sooner than expected.  I was at 11.8 miles when I got there. 

I ran out a bit in the sloppy and icy mud.  I got to mile 12 and stopped.  I thought about adding some of the small trails across the way, but they went uphill.  I had no desire to do that.  Although I was hoping this trail would be closer to 15 miles, I was happy with a 12 mile day.

I will run here again at some point.  It is a good mix of different terrain and very runnable.  Some of it is boring though, but that does mentally challenge me.  Even though the singletrack pace was slower, it was fun and seemed faster.

Tomorrow, I'm hoping for a decent run again.  Some friends are running the Peepsfest 5K in the afternoon.  I'll go to watch that.  It should be fun.  That gives me a tight window to run though.  Maybe I'll go over to Trexler afterward.

12 miles - 2:00:40 (10:04 pace) 1056 feet of elevation gain

Monday, December 29, 2014

Tougher Than Expected Short Run

I didn't run at all yesterday.  Today, I was hoping for a long run, but changed things up and plan on doing that tomorrow afternoon.  Instead, I headed over to Phillipsburg for a short afternoon run. 

I went to the Warren-Highlands Trail because it is nearby, but it is a new trail that I enjoy.  It is not only close by, but has some fun singletrack too.  I've been thinking of it as an easy run day, but that has to change.  The only thing that makes the run easy is the fact that the trail is short.  There's a lot of elevation gain.

Again it was pretty warm, around 40 degrees.  I had on a long sleeve shirt, but decided to put an even thinner one on.  I also wore shorts, along with my Ultimate Direction vest.

This run starts off gentle for a bit, but that doesn't last.  It climbs and climbs up a ridge singletrack along the side of the mountain.  It has a great view of the Delaware River and Pennsylvania on the other side.  This climb might not be as tough if it wasn't so early in the run.

I ran the whole way up this climb, but it seemed to keep going.  Every time I thought I was to the top, there was more.  My breathing became very labored at the top.  What makes it tricky is the ascent is just steep enough and long enough that it is runnable.  Any more of either element and I probably would've been hiking.

Even after reaching the top, the run is challenging.  The trail doesn't stay on top of the ridge.  It winds up and down the side of the mountain, around trees and rarely goes straight.  With muddy trails and lots of leaves, footing is tricky, especially on some of the short and steep climbs.

My feet and legs didn't feel all that strong.  I kept running though.  My only breaks at this point were because it was hard to follow the trail.  Sometimes, I had to stop to walk around downed trees.  I doubt many people have even hiked this area since I was last there the day before Thanksgiving.

I continued to run along.  Last time, I missed the turn and went down the mountain on the yellow trail.  I nearly did that again, but caught my mistake this time.  The part after the split was tougher than I had expected.

It was good to finally get to the powerline cut.  After that, the trail was much easier to run.  It became a wide woods road.  After a downhill, I lost the blazes on a split.  I continued downhill, but had to turn around and backtrack at a farmer's field.

I then headed uphill again.  This gradual climb was again a bit challenging.  I didn't see blazes for awhile and decided to keep going anyway.  There were a few No Trespassing signs on the side of the trail.  I think that was just the woods property.

Eventually, I came to the end of the woods and ended up in a field.  I knew the trail did that and then I saw the blue blazes to confirm it.  There were some cool views of the surrounding mountains.  The one in front of me was probably the one with Merrill Creek on top of it.  The trail is eventually supposed to go there, but I not sure if it does yet.  I could probably run on some roads to get there if I needed to.

I followed the blue blazes and then went around a farmer's fence and a stone structure.  It then went in and out some small woods.  It was behind some houses or farms.  I was a little concerned that I might be on private property, but I kept seeing the blue blazes.  Then, it looked like maybe the trail ended at someone's yard.  I was at about 2.5 miles now anyway and that is near where the trail is supposed to end.  I turned around and headed back.

Going back was a challenge because the earlier hills beat me.  Now, I had a good, long climb between the farmers fields.  I hiked some of the early part, but then ran the remainder.  I headed back the way I came.

I knew running back would be much easier and it was.  It was a lot more descending.  The only hard part was finding the trail in spots.  I had sun glare to deal with as well.  I cut my legs up on several branches, including once when I got a phone call from my mom.

Before going through the in and out part, I decided to descend and then ascent the powerline.  It is short, but insanely steep.  I knew I wouldn't be able to run too much of it.  I had to run the early part and then just hike up the rest.  I nearly fell going downhill.  It was that steep.

After the powerline, things were uneventful.  I ran the rest of the way, except for any spots where I lost the blazes or had to go around downed trees.  It was much more fun going mostly downhill now.  Before I knew it, I was back near my car.

I wanted to make sure I got 1500 feet of elevation gain and 5.5 miles in, so I ran uphill a bit more.  There's a pipeline hill that I followed for less than a quarter mile.  I was finally done when I got to the top.

It was a good, short run.  It's definitely somewhere that I need to run more often.  The trail is quickly gaining my respect.  It is nice and close by too.  That is a big plus.  I even saw a couple heading out to hike as I was leaving.  Maybe a few more people will start to show up there too.

I'm planning on running a 50K on Saturday.  Tomorrow, I'm running a bit longer than today.  I'm thinking 15 to 20 miles.  If I don't work, I'm going to head down to the Green Lane Reservoir.  One loop there is 15 miles and it is good running, but not overly challenging.

5.51 miles - 1:08:48 (12:29 pace) 1527 feet of elevation gain

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Big Pocono State Park Run with a Friend

I cramped up while sitting around yesterday.  I decided to just pass up a run then.  I opted to run today instead.  I needed a decent run.

My friend Ryan asked me if I wanted to run somewhere.  I suggested running at Big Pocono State Park.  That would give us some nice climbing.  We met at the Crossings and I drove over there.  The park road itself at the top of the mountain is closed in winter.  Good thing we were starting at the bottom.

We started off and I let Ryan dictate the pace for awhile.  This was a nice and gradual climb for about 2 miles.  It is perfect for warming up.  There was a section that didn't drain well and was super sloppy.  Ryan was cautious on it and I blew right through it and went ahead.

It was easy and fun until mile 2.  Then, we hit a switchback and began the climb.  I ran up it nice and slowly.  There were some rocks, but it wasn't too technical.  Ryan fell behind a bit, but he did a good job.

I ran the first few sections.  Then, it just got too steep and my breathing was labored.  I did run better than my fall run there.  Back then, it was the first chilly day of the year.  Today, it was probably warmer, as it was nearly 50 degrees.

I made sure to wait at the top of some of the climbs.  I didn't want Ryan to get lost.  He was a bit behind on the first one, but not too much on the others.  I had to hike quite a bit.  I think mentally I quit too soon.  If I really tried hard, I could probably climb the whole thing.  It is fairly smooth.  It's just tough because there are some flat sections, but they are short and don't allow for much recovery.  My breathing had become very labored.

Near the top, we were next to the ski slope.  That was very neat and we were on a warm and clear trail and people were skiing on snow next to us at Camelback.  That was truly unique.  I even had on shorts and a short sleeve shirt.

We were near the top at that point, but still had a little more climbing to do.  We ran and hiked some of it, just enjoying the skiers.  We then got to the road.  We ran on that for a bit and passed some young ladies that were walking. 

We ran up a short section of trail and were at the top.  Ryan wanted to stop and get a photo.  I did that and we spent some time hanging out up there.  There are awesome views to both the north and south.  It is cool to see the Appalachian Trail ridge to the south.

We continued on the park road.  It was good to be back running, since it was getting chilly standing around the top.  We ran past a lot of people that were walking around the top.  We were the only runners. 

I wasn't sure where to pick up the rim trail, but we did find it.  There were four ways to go.  Luckily, I knew the direction head back and we took the correct route.  Now, we had only slight elevation change.  It was a little technical, but not too bad.  It was worse last time I was there as fallen leaves were all over the trail.  It was much more clear today.

After some ridge running, we took the trail back down.  This was fun after having climbed all the way back up.  We cruised downhill over the switchbacks.  There weren't people there.  We had the trail nearly all to ourselves.  It was good to chat.

Ryan stopped to eat a GU at one point.  I waited for him.  It was a short enough run that I didn't take in any calories.  Even with the stop at the top, we were making good time.  That's because there was a lot of runnable trail.

Eventually, we came out on the smooth old railroad section.  We were nearly at mile 9 and almost done with the run.  It was only a slight descent left.  We did have to run through the slop again.  We finished up at just over 9 miles.

It was a good run with some climbing.  It wasn't as technical as I recalled.  I think I'll have to run there more often.  I may even try running several shorter loops.  I ran with my Ultimate Direction vest on again.  That worked great and I didn't even notice it after awhile.  I like it very much and will use it often now.  It will be perfect to run ultras in.

Tomorrow, I'm not sure what I'm doing yet.  I'd love to get a decent long run in.  It is supposed to be colder out tomorrow.  I'll just have to dress accordingly.  With the Eagles out of the playoff picture, I don't have to worry about their last game of the season.

9.17 miles - 1:43:47 (11:19 pace) 1478 feet of elevation gain

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Evening/Night AT Run (Route 191)

I haven't got out for a run in a few days.  Christmas is always a busy day.  However, when family finally left, I knew I had to go run.  For one, I needed to test out the new gear.

It was quite late by the time I got started (after 4 PM).  I stayed somewhat local, but decided on a semi new section of trail.  I ran and hiked the AT from Route 191 before, but it was always going Northbound.  I never went Southbound, so I did that.

The plan was for a simple 5 miles.  I knew the end of it would be in the dark.  I was hoping to get most of the run in before that though.

It was a warm day again.  It was in the mid 40s, even with the sun setting.  However, I knew it would be windy on the top of the mountain, so I wore a jacket.  That worked great over my short sleeves.  I also added some shorts.

I was wearing my new Ultimate Direction AK Race Vest 2.0.  I asked for soft bottles as well.  When the bottles were full, they were kind of annoying as they flopped around.  They are larger than the bottles that came with the pack.  I'll have to either get used to the flopping or fill the bottles up less.  Once they drained out, I could tuck them down and they were much better.  I really didn't even notice the lightweight vest by the end.  I think it will work out great.

The beginning of the run had a moderate climb.  However, it wasn't much as I started at the top of the mountain already.  That was the plan, as I wasn't looking for much elevation gain.  The beginning was a relatively smooth woods road and very runnable.

After about a mile, things got interesting.  It became a much rockier singletrack.  Now, it was more typical of the AT.  That slowed me down.  There was a sign for the Wolf Rocks bypass, blazed with blue.  It said that it met back up with the AT in a mile.

However, I wanted to see Wolf Rocks, so I didn't leave the AT.  It was still kind of smooth until right near the rocks.  The rocks are awesome.  They are a ledge of large rocks at the top of the mountain.  There are some nice views to the north.  The AT goes right over them and I had to hike most of this.  I stopped for some photos and then ran some of the end.

After the rocks, the following section was still tricky.  There were more smaller rocks.  The sun was setting too, so that made it interesting.  I was looking to get to where the blue trail met up with the AT.  Then, I'd run back.

I was never able to find the blue trail.  I kept going and going.  I knew I couldn't afford to go too far as it was getting dark and I may have to backtrack.  I turned around at mile 3 and put on my headlamp.

It got darker and darker and I had to be careful over the rocky section.  I really wasn't looking forward to going over Wolf Rocks in the dark.  It wasn't super dangerous, but it wasn't safe either.  I knew with it being dark, no one would find me right away if something did happen.

There was a lot of wind and it moved the trees.  That made things interesting and a little eerie.  I was a tad bit uncomfortable, but I soldiered on.

I found the blue trail now as I was heading back.  I took it for a short distance, but realized that the blazes were hard to see in the dark.  Rather than risk it and get lost, I opted to go back on the AT and over Wolf Rocks.  The white blazed AT was very visible with my headlamp.  I had trouble on some of the very technical sections, as I still haven't found the best setting for my headlamp.

Wolf Rocks was kind of neat in the dark.  I went slowly and made it through.  I could see some of the lights from Stroudsburg in the distance.  I took a photo of that.  I think there was deer below the trail that startled me a bit.  I never did see it.

Descending Wolf Rocks in the dark was a bit interesting.  I was thinking of organizing a winter midnight run through this section, but I may need to reconsider it.  I was glad to get off of Wolf Rocks and back toward smoother trail.

The last mile and a half was much better.  It was much more runnable, especially toward the end.  I could really open it up.  I also felt better knowing that I was much closer to my car.  I continued along.

I was now on the top of the mountain.  It was neat as I could see lights on both sides, through the trees.  To my left was Stroudsburg and to my right was Bangor/Pen Argyl and the rest of the Lehigh Valley.  I had some nice downhill now.

I finished up right near 6 miles, at my car.  It was good to be done.  I got to test out a lot of my gear.  My back was a bit sore again, so I'll have to monitor that closely.

I'm hoping to run again tomorrow and Saturday.  One run might be shorter and closer and I may travel for the other.  I have no idea where yet though.  I'll decide on the fly.

6.01 miles - 1:33:22 (15:32 pace) 441 feet of elevation gain

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Short DWG Run/Hike

I didn't work yesterday, but didn't get around to running either.  I had to get out there today.  Since I was off, I decided on the Delaware Water Gap.  I was hoping to run 10-13 miles.  It didn't quite work out.

I knew the weather was going to suck.  It was in the mid 40s with rain.  That meant it would be warm, so I could wear short sleeves and shorts.  However, I'd need a jacket too.  Having run Mt. Tammany a few times, I knew it would be warm at times and cold along the ridge and the top.  It would be tricky running for sure.  I sort of wish winter weather would just get here already.

Rather than park right next to the Mt. Tammany Trail, I started at the Kittatinny Point Visitors Center area.  That would give me about a quarter to a half mile on pavement to warm up.  I was hoping that it would allow me to run more of Mt. Tammany.

I ran on the pavement and to the Mt. Tammany Trail.  I was able to run up the stair section.  Then, it gets flat and of course I ran that too.  The first real climbing part can be tricky.  It's not overly rocky, but the combination of rocks and elevation gain make running it a challenge.  This part is pretty long too.

I ran up past a guy and his dog and then another guy and his dog were coming downhill.  I had walk pretty soon.  My right calf didn't feel very strong and my legs were burning and my breathing was labored.  It was frustrating.

I was also very mad about the weather.  Down in this section, it was super humid and muggy.  I was already sweating a lot and I had barely started.  I ran a little bit when things flattened out.  I had to be careful and watch out for the slippery rocks.

Then, I hit some more uphill, including the rockiest part.  I know I can't run this part, but I was hoping I'd be able to run more than I did.  The humidity was frustrating me, as was my sore back and calf.  My back started bothering me on climbs during the WV Trilogy 50K in October and every now and then it becomes a problem.  Usually, that doesn't happen until after 10 miles though.  Today, it was much earlier.

The back is just sore and I have to fight through it.  However, it was very tough, as the trail just keeps climbing up and up and up.  It seemed like it never ended.  I was basically resorting to hiking almost all the way to the top.

I was so frustrated and pretty much knew at this point that it was going to be a short run.  I'd now just go up this side and back down the Blue Trail.  There was no way I'd try to run out to Sunfish Pond with a sore back.

Even at the top, it was so foggy that there was no view.  That was the same as the last time I was there.  I guess I need to start going on nicer days.  Much like I predicted, the ridge section along the top was chilly.  I had to zip my jacket back up.

The nice thing about the ridge and the following downhill was that my back stopped hurting.  I knew that would be the case.  Only the uphills and steep uphills in fact are truly a problem.  It does seem to be getting worse and worse.  I guess I'm going to need to start treating my back a little.  I definitely need to drop some weight.

For the most part, descending the Blue Trail was actually fun.  I still don't consider myself a good downhill trail runner, but I guess I should acknowledge that I'm getting better and better.  I seem to be able to adjust to the slope and technical terrain and switch gears accordingly.  Sometimes, I was able to fly down the mountain.  Other times, I had to be careful, especially with the wet rocks.  I feel like I'm getting much better at reading rocks and finding the best places to put my feet.

I was able to run most of this descent.  It wasn't long and I was back to the bottom.  I had to run around the waterfall.  There was a hiker there.  I then had mostly downhill running.  I flew through some technical stuff and actually had fun.

I noticed that I was right around 1 hour when I got back to the Mt. Tammany Trail parking area.  That wasn't too bad considering how slow I was ascending and all the hiking I did there.  I now had about half a mile to finish.

This was road running back to the Visitors Center.  I cruised along, glad to nearly be done.  When I arrived at my car, I had about a tenth of a mile yet to hit 4.5 miles.  I ran to the end of the parking lot, to get there.

I was disappointed that I didn't run farther, faster or ascend more, but I took what my body could handle on this day.  Sadly, it wasn't much.  I still managed over 1,000 feet of elevation gain, so I'll take it.  I need to work on getting my back healthy, as well as my calf.  That will allow me to run farther and handle more challenging climbs.  That needs to be my focus over the winter.  If I don't lose some weight, my spring 40 and 50 mile races are going to be a challenge.  I can sort of fake it and survive a 50K, but not much more than that.

I'm not sure where or when I'm running tomorrow.  The hope was to join a Trexler group run in the morning.  However, I now have to work.  I'll probably run at lunch time and likely solo.  Hopefully my back will feel better.  On Christmas Day, I'm hoping to run up north a bit.

4.51 miles - 1:04:37 (14:20 pace) 1445 feet of elevation gain

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Return to Little Gap AT

Work has been busy this week.  I could've probably got out late to run, but I wasn't up for running at night.  I had not run since Tuesday, so I needed to finally get out there today.  I still didn't get there until after 3 PM.

I love climbing, but the big issue with that is that often climbs come too early.  My legs and lungs aren't warmed up.  I decided to start with an easier climb today.  I drove up to the AT at Little Gap on Blue Mountain Road and started by heading toward Lehigh Gap.

The weather was kind of tricky.  It was in the mid 30s.  I wore a jacket over my lightweight long sleeve shirt.  I also had on tights with a headband and gloves.  At times, like when behind the mountain, it was cold.  When I was in the sunlight, I was warm.

I ran this section on Christmas Day 2010.  That was nearly 4 years ago.  It might've been my first ever trail run.  It was snowy and my parents were waiting for me in the car.  I barely made it back by dark.  That was the first time I used my old Garmin.  It was a fun run.

There were a bunch of Asians hiking and resting near the start.  I had to make sure to get out ahead of them.  I didn't want to have to pass them all.  I never actually saw them during the run.

The start was pretty easy from an elevation standpoint.  It climbed, but only about 250 feet.  The start was near the top of the mountain.  The tricky part was that it is super rocky.  Add to that that the sun was in my eyes and I had trouble.  I ran most of the time, but I also had to walk every now and then.

It was a slow go because of the technical nature of the terrain.  It's interesting up there as everything was killed by the Palmerton zinc plant.  Some stuff seems to be growing back.  It didn't seem as desolate as I recall from several years ago.

Because of the lack of trees, there are great views.  I came out to one at a powerline.  There was a cool rock feature there.  There was more technical singletrack for a bit.  There were plenty more views.  I stopped for some photos.

The trail then went down some man made steps.  After that, things got interesting.  It was an old woods road that is now turned into a singletrack.  It is smooth and fast, with endless views.  The trail is on a ridge along the side of the mountain.  You can see Palmerton and the surrounding mountains.

I got into a groove now that I was on my type of terrain.  I was cruising along.  This wasn't totally easy though, as it was rolling hills.  It seemed more uphill than downhill, but things weren't actually easier on the way back.

I stopped for some photos of the setting sun behind the mountain.  One time, there was this neat tree right at an overlook.  I was enjoying the scenery so much.  It was slowing me a bit, but that didn't matter.

I thought about turning around at mile 3, but moving quickly on the smooth terrain changed that.  I continued to head out.  Eventually, I got back to the part of the AT that is rocky singletrack.  A short bit later, I came to the blue blazed Winter Trail.  I decided to follow that for a bit.  I didn't want to descend much though.

I ran that a short while and took some photos.  Then I turned around at 4.25 miles.  Instead of heading back, I went the other way on the AT briefly and finally turned around a short time later.

It was getting a bit cold on the way back, with the sun really setting.  It made the sky pink in places.  I went to reach for my headband and realized that I had lost it.  Lucky for me, I found it a bit later.  That was the nice thing about an out and back.

The smooth trail section wasn't much easier in this direction.  It was still a ton of rolling hills.  My legs and back were getting a bit sore.  I continued on though.  I had not seen a single person since those hikers in the beginning.  I never did see anyone else on the AT.  What a nice, peaceful day.

Around mile 7, I was back to the technical part.  Right past that was the powerline cut.  There were a pile of boulders there and I couldn't pass them up this time.  I climbed them and they were quite big and high.  Luckily, I didn't fall anywhere in between them.  The view at the top was pretty sweet.  You could see a full 360 degrees.

I didn't hang out there too long.  I had to race against the setting sun.  The minor descent back to the parking lot was a slow go.  That mile or so seemed to take forever.  It was very technical and dark and I couldn't see well.

Finally, near the end I brought out my new headlamp.  I was prepared for some darkness.  I could've made it out without it, but there would've been more hiking and less running.  I didn't get it on a very bright setting, so I had to be cautious.

I got back near the parking lot at 8.67 miles.  I wanted to get to 9 miles, so I ran some of the pipeline.  I then was going to take a gated road up a bit.  A worker was leaving in his truck though and I didn't want to bother him in the dark.  I ran back on the AT for just a bit to finish up.

It was a good run.  It was more challenging than I expected, but still not too much climbing.  I was very happy with this run.  There were views, some elevation change and some very runnable trail too.  I will surely be back there.  It's not too far away.  I may even run there again whenever it snows.  I probably won't run it too much in the summer, since there is little tree coverage.

I will surely be running a lot this week.  Hopefully I'll run again tomorrow.  I need some good runs.  I don't expect to work much this week, but I do need to Christmas shop sometime.

9 miles - 2:09:34 (14:24 pace) 1,373 feet of elevation gain

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

First Ringwood State Park Run

I had off today and I'm busy with Christmas orders tomorrow and Thursday.  Therefore, I decided to travel to run today.  I thought about the run I want to do in NY State, but I think I'll save that for a weekend.  Instead, I traveled to North Jersey to run at Ringwood State Park.

Less than a month ago, I went to Ramapo Mountain in New Jersey.  That is a little closer, but the same general area.  Ringwood is home to the Mountain Madness 50K.  I was told it is a very tough race, so I was expecting a challenging run.

It was quite warm, so I worn a light weight long sleeve shirt and shorts.  That worked out great and I was even sweating.  It did get slightly chilly toward the end when rain began to fall.  I also had some issue with nipple chafing.  Other than that, things worked out well.

I looked at a map briefly before leaving and was hoping to find one at the park, but I had no luck with that.  I parked at Shepard Lake and found the red trail that I had been looking for.  I began heading down it.

The beginning mile was super tricky.  It was incredibly rocky and a leaf covered singletrack.  There wasn't much underbrush, so following the actual trail was tough.  It was marked pretty well, but the paths were hard to see.

This early part went along a creek and crossed it several times.  The windiness of the trail combined with the rocks made it a very slow go.  I almost considered trying another route.  There was some elevation change, but most of it was downhill for me at this point.

After a mile, the trail crossed a road.  Shortly after that, it went over to a pedestrian bridge that was closed.  It was one that I had read about, but wasn't worried about, since I wasn't planning on going that way.  Of course, I didn't realize this until later.

I crossed back over the road and went to the nearby white blazed trail.  This was much more open, smoother and faster.  I was cruising now.  I then went on to the yellow blazed trail and that was more of the same as well.  It was nice to be moving.  I still had to watch and make sure I didn't lose the blazes.  There were a lot of connector trails.

My plan was to go out 3.5 miles and turn around.  At about 2.25 miles though, things weren't going well.  I felt like I had to go to the bathroom, so I walked for a bit.  It then calmed down and I was back on my way.

The yellow trail was a fun singletrack and not too challenging.  I was wondering where all the hard running was at.  I had some elevation change, but not too much.  This was even easier than Ramapo Mountain.

There was one section where the trail goes under these bushes like a tunnel.  This must be very impressive when there are leaves on them.  I had crossed a pipeline and a road too.  At 3.5 miles, I turned around and headed back.

I heard some noise off to the side.  I looked over and a bunch of wild turkeys were running.  There must've been somewhere between 15 and 30 of them.

I figured that an out and back wouldn't be hard to do.  I was wrong.  Somehow, I missed a turn and was on an unmarked trail.  I came to the powerline and couldn't find my way.  I had to backtrack for a bit and then got on the yellow trail again.  I still wasn't sure if I was heading the correct way until I went through a muddy section that I recalled from earlier.

It had been good to get through miles 4 and 5.  Around mile 5, I felt the urge to go to the bathroom again and had to hike some more.  That resolved the issue again.

Eventually, I made it from the yellow trail to the white trail again.  I followed that for a bit, hoping I'd get back to the red trail.  I saw the road nearby, so I knew I was close at least.  Finally, near the road, I got to the red trail.

I was feeling good as I headed uphill.  This was a fairly steep climb.  I ran the first part and then it leveled off.  I ran the second part and again it leveled off.  I continued on to the third part and finally had to hike some of the top and then I hiked all of the steep fourth part.

At the top was a shelter.  I assume it is probably used more often to party than to camp.  It began to rain.  I now had a rocky downhill.  It was tough because I was back into the section where it was difficult to find the trail.

I ran all around the rocks and over the creek.  It was getting cold and rainy.  This section seemed to take awhile.  I then saw a small waterfall and got some photos of it.  I climbed up more rocks and came out on the smooth part of the trail.

I was now a bit over 7 miles.  I ran back to my car and finished with just under 7.5 productive miles.  The run wasn't as challenging as I expected.  It was good to explore though.

When I got home, I realized that I went the wrong direction on the red trail.  That is why the run was so easy.  The red trail continues behind the chapel that I parked in front of.  That is where I should've started at.  Now, I know for next time and can do the more challenging part of the course.  I would like to do the Mountain Madness 50K next year.

Tomorrow and Thursday, I have quite a few orders at work.  I might pack up my trail shoes and clothes and run in between them.  Really, I'll just be running whenever I can.  Obviously, I'll be staying local.

7.42 miles - 1:39:57 (13:29 pace) 1127 feet of elevation gain

Sunday, December 14, 2014

First Port Clinton AT Run

I wanted a good long run today.  I thought about going to the Hamburg Reservoir, but figured at noon it would be crowded.  I didn't want a lot of hikers around.  Instead, I headed to nearby Port Clinton, to run on the AT.  It is a gap that I could run up both sides of.

It was quite warm for December.  I debated clothes, but I went with a lightweight long sleeve shirt and shorts.  I threw on a glove for my handheld hand.  That worked out good.  It was windy at the top of the mountain, but not too bad.

One of the best ultra runners in the region often leads mile repeats there.  I figured heading southbound first on the AT would be tough, but it couldn't be too tough.  I was in for a big surprise.  The climb was crazy hard and crazy steep early on.  It wasn't too rocky, but it was still nearly impossible to run, especially when I wasn't warmed up.  I just kept hiking up and up and up.  It was unbelievable how hard this was.  It was less than a mile and 900 feet of elevation gain.

There were a lot of leaves on the trail, but no snow, until I got much higher up.  The trail finally kind of leveled off, but even so, it still went uphill.  I was running some and hiking a lot.  It was a slow go.  It was so peaceful up there, especially when the trail was clear with snow on the side.

I came out to a pipeline and then later a woods road.  I think I was in State Game Lands.  I ran on that for a bit.  It was sloppy, but smooth and runnable.  It was kind of cool because there was a lot of space and plenty of views.

After a bit, I went back on the AT.  I got to the Auburn Lookout.  That had great views to the north.  I then ran on.  I was going out to around mile 4.  It got super rocky and I had to hike.  I could see the woods road off to the side, but wasn't sure how to get there.  I ran past several sets of prints.  I turned around and headed back to the first set.  It turned out they were actually deer prints.  I followed them and it worked pretty well. 

I came out with a few scratches, but was on to the woods road with some views.  I headed back and knew it would be better on the way back.  I could run most of it, since it was downhill.  I also stopped for a few nice photos.

The steep part toward the end was very tough.  I had to be careful not to fall.  It was so steep.  It was almost like the steep downhills at Trexler, but went on and on.

I got back to the parking lot and my car around 7.25 miles and 1 hour and 30 minutes.  I brought some salty chips and ate some of those.  I definitely didn't have enough fuel for the run.

I was looking forward to going out the other way.  Looking at a map beforehand, I knew this way would be easier.  I had not seen another person during the whole first part of the run, so that was nice.

The break was rather brief and I was back at it.  I hoped to run about as much in the second part of the run as the first.  I was curious where the trail went in this direction.  I knew it wouldn't cross over busy Route 61.  I walked briefly on the road.  Then, I saw that the trail turned to the right and went down some type of woods road.

This part was a mess.  It was super muddy.  I guess it is a pipeline and they are doing construction work there and tearing up the ground.

The trail went into the woods along the river briefly.  That was a nice singletrack, but it didn't last.  It went back to the slop.  After a bit, I ran down to an area along the river where people must party.  There were a lot of fire pits and trash.  The view was nice.

I backtracked and found the trail.  It crossed a smaller road.  There were some cool painting on the bridge under Route 61 before that.  I crossed the road and began the climb up the other side.

This side was much better.  It was a ridge singletrack.  It wrapped around the mountain, instead of going straight up it.  It was much more runnable and I ran it for a bit.  I alternated running and hiking.  Near one of the switchbacks, I came across a hiker.  That was my first human encounter of the run.

The route got rocky toward the top of the climb.  Two more hikers let me by.  There was then some nice singletrack on the mountain ridge.  The top wasn't wide, so there were great views both to the north and south.

I continued on.  The trail gradually climbed.  I ran a lot of it.  Then, it got super rocky and technical and I had to hike.

The trail changed again as it was smoother.  It still was gradually climbing.  I stopped to go to the bathroom on a side trail.  There were some nice views through the trees.  There was one decent semi clear view.

I ran out a bit more.  When I hit the very top, I turned around and headed back.  I knew going back would be more fun.  It was indeed.  I saw a deer run away from me.

I ran most of the way back.  It was a lot of downhill.  I did have to walk some of the more technical parts.  My body was tired and I was happy not to trip on any rocks.  My back was getting sore and I was becoming exhausting.

I cruised along.  It became a little tricky toward the end.  I had to make sure not to fall off the ridge.  I made it back down the road. 

I cruised around under the bridge and through the slop again.  I was back on the road then and nearly at my car.  I got back to my car at 13.1 miles.  Running a tough half marathon distance was perfect.  It was a productive run.

I was tired and hoped that I could've run farther and for more time.  However, I gave a good effort and climbed plenty.  It was a productive way to start the week.

Tomorrow and most of next week, I'm working a lot.  I'll get some running in, but I'll have to work it into my schedule.  Some runs might end up being at night.  I'll get it done.

13.1 miles - 3:12:47 (14:43 pace) 2623 feet of elevation gain

Friday, December 12, 2014

Nolde Forest State Park

I'm always looking for new trails to explore.  I didn't have time to go too far today.  I got work done early and decided to head to Reading to check out the Nolde Forest State Park.  My friends Kristin and Russ ran a race there.  Kristin said she liked it, but I wouldn't enjoy it.  She was correct.

I went to the main office first and that was neat.  I guess the place used to be a rich guy's house.  It was like an old castle.  There was a lot of surrounding land.

I couldn't run at that lot, since it closed at 4 PM.  Therefore, I used the bathroom and headed to the Sawmill Lot.  That was a good place to start.  I had no real plans and had to look at a map.  There are a lot of trails there, but the place didn't seem too big, so I wasn't concerned about getting lost.

It was a bit chilly, but overall pretty nice for December.  I went with a lightweight long sleeve shirt and fleece vest over it.  I wore tights and only had a glove on my handheld bottle hand.  I got chilled a bit later, so I added my headband.

After studying the map, I decided to take the route with the most elevation gain.  That was actually a mistake, as it was steeper than I expected.  My breathing wasn't under control yet, so I had to hike some.  I didn't anticipate anything more than a moderate climb here.  I was surprised.

I hike a lot of this early singletrack in the first mile.  Then, I stopped and took pictures at a rock outcrop.  I was on my way along one of the main trails.  This trail sucked.  It was mostly just a wide woods road with some stones and a gradual incline.  I found it very boring.

I even ended up hiking some of the easier sections.  I just didn't enjoy the running terrain.  I also ate a decent lunch and didn't feel all that great.  Plus, I was still a bit beat from yesterday's challenging effort.

Of course with it being a wide and smooth woods road, I knew I'd be able to run a lot of it.  I was thrilled when I finally managed to find a fun singletrack section.  That didn't last long though.  I was then on another woods road.  I guess there were a lot of these throughout this guy's estate.  It was no fun.

I hiked some more, but continued on.  I looked everywhere for singletrack.  Finally, I at least found some doubletrack.  Even this was easy running though.  At least it was downhill.  I found it boring.  I guess this could be a nice place to begin trail running at, but it wasn't a challenge for me at all.

I took out my map a few times, to confirm where I was.  One of the more fun sections was a wet downhill.  It had been blocked off by trees.  As I got to the bottom, I saw why.  It led to nowhere.

I had to bushwack briefly to get back to the trail.  I then came out to a pond.  The soggy ground before that was kind of fun.  Then, I climbed some more singletrack.  I ran it for a bit, but it got challenging for my tired body.

Shortly after that, I arrived back at the main office.  I checked a map and was going to climb some to get back to the Sawmill Lot.  However, I was kind of beat, so I decided to just take this paved road.

At least this was downhill.  I then was going to stay on that road because another road said it was closed.  However, I saw a singletrack below that road.  I hopped on that and it was fun.  It was along a creek and one of the best sections of the run.  Finally some singletrack.  This then led back to the parking lot.

Since I was a little over 4 miles.  I decided to continue out along the creek.  I was able to add some more climbing too.  I was breathing heavy going uphill.  I went back down and finished up near my car.  I was thrilled to be done.

I need more singletrack.  This was one of my least favorite runs ever.  At least it is done and I've tried something new.  I doubt I'll ever be back. 

Tomorrow, I'm not sure if I'll run.  I have to work and also hope to watch some of the XC Nationals at Lehigh.  A rest day wouldn't be a bad thing anyway.  I definitely hope to run on Sunday and hopefully for a long time.

5 miles - 1:00:56 (12:11 pace) 1099 feet of elevation gain

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Snowy Christmas Trexler Night Run

I had some work to do yesterday, so I didn't get to run.  I was going to head to NY today for a run, but I didn't have enough daylight to make it there.  I still had to run though and chose to do so after dark.

I decided that I wanted to run Trexler and run the 10 mile loop.  That would be a solid workout.  I'd also avoid the creek crossing.  I knew the weather would be cold, but I was ready.

It was super cold when I got there.  The starting area by the Environmental Center is the worst.  It's always super windy.  That was indeed the case tonight.  I had on a lightweight long sleeve shirt under my vest.  That was cold until I warmed up a bit.  It was a good choice though.  I also wore tights along with gloves and a headband.  It worked out perfectly.  I even took the headband off midway through.

I was surprised at the start.  We had a coating of snow on the ground back home.  They had a decent accumulation.  It was probably an inch or two.  It did make a nice, soft runnable surface though.

I decided that I wasn't going to rush this run.  I walked up the early big hills and walked most of the more challenging hills.  I was taking it easy and the snow even made walking some of these a challenge.

It was nice and peaceful.  I cruised along over the first few miles.  It was pretty much uneventful.  I think some cars might've seen my headlamp and probably thought I was crazy.  The headlamp worked on this easy trail, but it was a narrow beam that was kind of hard to see.

I even walked a bit of the long hill.  There was a lone set of footprints and those eventually disappeared.  All that was left were animal tracks.  Some of the climbs were tricky, but I really had to be careful going down the steep downhills.

There are a few small streams around the big hills.  Most times of the year, they are a trickle.  Today, I barely made it leaping over them.  They were flowing well.  I can only imagine what the big creek crossing was like.

I hiked the steep hills.  Even the moderately steep ones were tricky.  The loose rocks made it very slippery and a slow go.  At least I didn't fall.  I only slipped a few times, once on some smooth rock.

I got up and over the big hills.  Then, I headed to the longer route, out around the zoo.  I was avoiding the creek crossing.  This is tough as it starts with a solid climb.  I hiked a lot of that.

The coolest part of the run then started.  I could see the zoo down below.  It was neat because they light it with Christmas Lights and play music for Christmas.  In the dark, I was worried that I wouldn't find the white trail back down, but I did eventually.

I saw some blood at one point and wondered if a deer had been shot there.  At least I didn't see blood being dragged.  I then got to the normally small stream that feeds into the big creek.  This was flowing very well.  I had no choice, but to briefly get my feet wet.  They were certainly chilly for a bit.

Next, was the climb up the Elk Trail.  I wasn't even halfway done with this run.  I was already becoming exhausted.  I hiked most of this climb, but did run some.  I saw six green, glowing eyes up ahead.  They were deer that I scared and ran off.

At the top of the ridge, things were neat.  I could really see and hear the zoo now.  I ran probably for a mile or more around the perimeter of it, on the ridge.  Eventually, I went downhill to the end of this trail.

Now was a lot of easy running.  First, it was a slick bridge over the creek.  Then, it was some pavement running for a bit, until I went back on to the Border Trail.  The rest of the Border Trail was fairly typical.  I walked some of it, but ran most of it.

Another car saw me near the road and probably thought I was crazy.  It was chilly and times and it snowed in my face a little.  At one point, something moved in these nearby cornstalks.  It was either an animal or the wind.

I hiked the last big hill before KidsPeace.  I was getting pretty beat by that point.  I began to realize that I'd probably finish the run under 2 hours though.  Taking my time and battling the snow, that was my goal.

I came out and flew on the KidsPeace road.  Then, I was back to the rolling singletrack.  These hills were a little tough.  Normally they are easy, but the snow added an interesting element.

I then crossed the last road and was about half a mile from the finish.  I knew I'd definitely come in under 2 hours.  I ran until the last steep hill.  I ran some of that, but hiked the steepest part.

I then ran the rest and finished up at 10 miles.  I was right at the parking lot.  I was exhausted, but it was a great run.  A car came in the lot for some reason and I think was really confused and surprised by me.  It then drove away.

I was glad to have such a cool and productive night run.  It was a good mental challenge too and should help me in the long run.  I'll probably run shorter tomorrow, but I should be able to run.  I have some orders to set up at work.

10 miles - 1:56:30 (11:39 pace) 2,060 feet of elevation gain

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Rainy Dusk J-Burg Run

I went back and forth over whether or not to run today.  It wasn't too cold, but it was rainy and unpleasant.  I had plenty of rain to deal with over the weekend.  I decided I'd feel better if I ran though.

I wasn't looking to do much.  I headed out very late in the afternoon and barely had time for even a short run.  I went to Jacobsburg.  The plan was to run the open field short loop, so I'd have light a little longer.

I finally was dressed well.  I had on shorts, a short sleeve shirt, a jacket and a hat.  It was a good combination.  The hands were chilly at the start, but not too bad overall. 

I decided to do this route a bit differently than normal.  I went back up and around the new building and then was going to go to the fun ridge section.  Going up around the building, two deer ran from me.  It was raining a little, but not too bad.

The ridge was fun as always.  I just have to be careful.  I sure don't want to fall down it.  When it was icy at the end of last winter, it was super slippery and that nearly happened that day.

After the ridge, I came to the old house in the park.  One adult deer and three young deer were standing in the grass and staring at me.  That was cool, so I tried to take their photo.  As I started to get ready for the picture, the mother took off and the babies followed.  I tried to get them running, but had no luck.

After that part, it was up the gradual climb.  I was breathing a bit by the top, but this is a much easier climb than during the humidity of the summer.  I'll take winter running any day.

I ran through the open field sections.  At times, it was sloppy, where the trail doesn't drain well.  One cool thing was seeing the mountain in the background.  I would've preferred to be up there on the AT, but I was going for an easy day today.

I was in a rush to start this run and forgot my orange vest.  Hunting season has been going on for awhile, the weather was crappy and I was running an open field section, so I wasn't too worried.  Then, after mile 3, I came around a corner and startled a hunter.  He didn't point his gun at me, but he did raise it slightly.  I apologized and was lucky he didn't aim at me.

After that point, it was all downhill.  I was having fun cruising around and enjoying the easy day.  I arrived back at my car around 3.65 miles.  I wanted to run to 4 miles, so I went out the start of the loop and back for some distance.  I then finished the run.

It was a nice and quick run.  There were some events.  Nothing was too challenging, the conditions sucked and the trail was kind of boring, but not every run can be spectacular.  It was good to get this one done.

I'm not sure on the plan for tomorrow.  It is supposed to snow farther up north.  I might try to take advantage of that.  I'm thinking that I may try to run in the Delaware Water Gap, but the Cliffs area.  That's a lot of ridge running, but pretty scenery too.  It would probably be neat in the snow, with the combination of waterfalls, ponds and cliffs.  I'll see what my schedule is like.

4.01 miles - 36:54 (9:13 pace)

Monday, December 8, 2014

South Mountain (Lehigh) Recovery Night Run

I felt pretty good after the 50K on Saturday.  Really, I could've run yesterday.  However, I took off and went to the Eagles game.  I took a nap, instead of running in the afternoon.  I had to get out at night then.

It was a cold evening.  The temperature was below 30 degrees with some wind chill.  I wore tights and a ColdGear top.  I added my fleece vest over top of that.  I'm not sure if that was needed.  I also had a gloves on and a headband.  I ended up taking the headband off because it was too hot.  I also opened my vest.

The start was tough.  My eyes were watering from the cold.  That made it hard to see.  The beginning was downhill and rocky, so that was difficult as well.  I had to borrow my dad's headlamp and I didn't figure out how to put it on the brightest setting until I got home.  The beam seemed narrow too.  I was able to get by with the situation, but I had to be cautious and slow.

The early uphill was a bit challenging.  It went on longer than I expected.  Still, I had to run it all.  After things flattened out and I hit the next climb, I decided to hike some of that.  I knew I could run it, but didn't want to push too much.

This was somewhat fun.  It would've been better if I could've seen better.  However, I'm glad I know the loop so well.  I didn't miss any turns.

I then crossed the road and hit the downhill switchback section.  That was somewhat fun.  It was rocky too, but I survived.  I knew that this was the hardest part.

I didn't want to add the shorter loop, so I ran on to the road.  I got to the lookout.  A Lehigh cop car was in the area.  I waited for him to go by before I got back on to the trails.

I was now into the fun, gradual uphill section.  The rocks were somewhat tough to see this time.  At least I didn't fall.  One part of the trail along this ridge was wet.  That could be interesting later in the winter.  Everywhere else, the ground was frozen and crunchy.  There wasn't any ice though.  I love this kind of weather.

Near the end of the climb, I heard something run in the woods.  I'm sure it was a deer.  A bit later, I was on the paved section above there.  I heard something run back down.  I assume the same deer.

I was just over 4 miles when I arrived at the top.  I had not wanted to do more mileage on this recovery run.  I was having some chafing issues too.  Therefore, I ran around the Mountaintop Campus to finish off the run.

I took a long loop on the pavement to do it.  That gave me more mileage, as I got over 5 of them in.  It also added some elevation gain.  I saw a Lehigh cop car again, probably the same one.  They paused for a bit, but didn't say anything to this crazy runner.

One of the reasons that I needed to get this run in is tomorrow's weather.  It's supposed to be heavy rain, if not ice.  Farther north, it will even snow.  I may run a little anyway, but I'm not sure and I'm not counting on it.

5.01 miles - 55:14 (11:01 pace) 762 feet of elevation gain   

Saturday, December 6, 2014

2014 New York City Trail Festival and Greenbelt Ultra 50K

A few months back, I signed up for a 50K on Staten Island.  It was kind of close and a good opportunity to get in a race before the snow hits.  Of course the weather didn't quite cooperate today.

I had only about 2.5 hours of sleep.  I got there an hour early and was ready to go.  We were delayed slightly.  Since I didn't know the course, I wanted to get out in front of as many people as possible.  I was hoping to run a sub 5 hour race, but I was unsure with the expected conditions.

The weather was what made things tough.  It rained overnight and was supposed to rain, but not much during the race.  I wore compression shorts and a short sleeve shirt.  I was chilly, but comfortable at the start.  The race director thought I was kind of crazy.  Some woman was really bundled up.

I started off near the front.  I was probably about 10th or so.  That was good positioning.  It wasn't too big of a field.  I ran a lot early.  There were plenty of short hills early, but nothing too tough.  First, we did a 10k loop.  Then, we'd run two big loops to finish up.

This was a nice singletrack.  However, too much of the course was almost the same for the first half or so of the race.  That kind of bored me and the early miles seemed to go by slowly.  It is definitely a nice trail system within New York City.  It's just not wild, like some of the places I run.  Of course, I knew that going into the race.

This first loop was very tough on me.  Since I was trying to run the whole thing or most of it, I wore my hydration pack.  I also packed my jacket in there, in case of rain.  That was a mistake and my lower back was killing me early.  Every hill was painful.

Thankfully, this loop was only 10K.  I took out my jacket when we got back to the start.  That gave me new life.  My back felt a little better, for now.

I didn't enjoy running the same route again in the beginning of this loop.  I was still running a lot, but slowing down.  My first three miles were all under 9 minutes.  These were now over 10 minutes each.

The miles just seemed to be going by so slowly.  I had people running around me a lot of the time.  Quite a few of them were passing me.  I couldn't ever relax.  It seemed like someone was always on my tail.  There was a 25K and 10K, so some of those other runners might've mixed in.

There was one section that became quite muddy early on.  All the traffic made things worse.  There were a bunch of road crossings.  It was nice to get to the first one and be on to a different section.  This part was only slightly different.

I came through 8 miles, about the quarter way point, still on pace for a sub 5 hour finish.  However, I was getting sore again.  I couldn't believe how long I had to go just to get back to the start.

I didn't drink enough and wasn't eating much either.  I certainly need to get better at that.  It was hard with few chances to rest/recover.  I let people pass me when they came up from behind.

There was a stretch that was pretty flat for some time.  However, it was sloppy too.  We then crossed another road and went around a golf course.  This ended up being my least favorite section.  It was a ridge that was muddy and went up a bit.  I basically just hiked it, rather than trying to run there.  I was so frustrated.  I hit a low point and it was early.

Not long after the ridge, we came to a stone trail section.  This was terrible.  It was like a mile of rail trail, which I hate.  That said, I am good on that terrain.  I ran a decent mile here.

Next up was an aid station.  I was bonking, so I grabbed some crackers.  That helped, but only briefly.  I had to hike a lot as I headed back to the start area.  There was a lot of hilly terrain near that too.  I tried to focus on getting back there, but it was hard.

I faced a tough decision too.  My back was killing me.  However, if I dropped my pack, I didn't have a handheld and would've had to run the final 12 miles without water.  I went back and forth with that.

I passed some guy near the finish area in wild colors.  He was doing the 10K, along with several slow women.  It was hard to believe I was only at mile 19 at this point.

What made things very tough was that it began pouring rain.  It was kind of good timing though, in that I could grab my jacket and put it on.  I had nearly been cramping and was struggling, so I stayed at the aid station for awhile to refuel.  It was kind of tough to go back out there for so long in a downpour.

I knew I had to just keep moving.  I hit a high point, I'm sure thanks to refueling.  The Coke I drank probably helped.  I was able to run for a mile or two without hiking.  I even ran some of the short uphills.

It didn't last.  Soon, I was passed by two women.  They weren't moving that fast, so I thought they might be in a shorter race.  However, I'd come to find out that they weren't.  Every now and then someone else would come passing me by.

The thing that was tough now was not only the rain, but the rain making it cold.  I was starting to freeze.  My nuts were chafing too and getting cold.  I did have to put my hands down my pants to keep them warm every now and then when I wasn't near anyone.

I hit a low point for awhile, but then I got a boost when I passed this Asian guy.  He was moving slowly and stretching often.  I put some distance between us.  However, that didn't last long.

I was getting really exhausted.  In the stretch between miles 22-24, I was slowing considerably and hiking a lot.  This is always a difficult stretch.  You are so far along and so beat up, but still have so far to go to the finish.  The 5 hour time goal was long gone and it was looking more like a sub 6 hour run was the new goal.

At least most of this trail was runnable.  However, I was hiking a lot of that.  Even the flat sections.  The Asian guy caught back up to me and that was another low moment when he passed me.

Things would only get worse, as I hit ridge section past the golf course.  I hiked it and bitched most of the way.  I ran sporadically in this part.

At this point, I was actually looking forward to the flat, stone trail, even though I didn't like it.  I knew at least I could run and it would be a decent mile or so.  Once I got to that, I got a huge boost, as I saw the Asian guy and another guy up ahead.  I think I had just taken in some calories too.

I was by no means flying, at least by my road standards.  However, when compared to the rest of the people, who were often walking this part, I was cruising.  I passed those guys pretty quickly.  I put some huge distance between me and them.

I was now on a high.  I saw another guy who had passed me earlier.  I caught him on this part too.  I was so pumped up by now.  I was around mile 27 and moving.

Then, we got to the trail section.  I was happy that the stone was over, but at the same time, sad because I thought my glory was over too.  That wasn't the case at all though.

In fact, I passed another guy early on on the trail section.  This part was mostly downhill, so I ran it.  I moved as well as I had since the beginning of the race.  I was booking it and just focusing on the upcoming mile.

At the last aid station, I caught up to the two women.  They walked a little and I passed them by.  We said encouraging stuff to each other.  I was in a groove.

I wasn't sure how long this would last, but I was thrilled.  I just decided to go with it as long as I could.  I blew by another guy on the one downhill.  Then, I began to slow when I hit some hills.  Still, I put in probably around 3-4 really productive miles.  I had come back from the dead.

After some more road crossings, it was back to the main area.  This part was much more hilly and I had to hike.  Once I had slowed down, I began to realize that I was close to cramping up.  Since I was close to the finish, I kept running as much as I could, but slowly.

I passed one of the volunteers and thought I was near the finish.  However, I kept forgetting parts and that was getting frustrating.  Still, I pressed on.

At one point, I looked behind me and saw the two women.  I thought I was a sitting duck, as they closed in.  However, they must've hiked some of the hills because I seemed to pull away.  I really didn't want to get re-passed so late in the race.

That factor was motivating me to the finish line.  I kept looking for the steps section near the finish, but it seemed to never come.  Finally, it arrived and there was still longer to go than I expected.  I kept running now though, no matter how slow.

I saw one guy up ahead struggling to reach the finish.  I could've caught him, but once he started willing himself to run, I let him go.  It was weird because I think he might've only been done with one loop and was just going back out.  If so, I don't know why he was pushing so much.

I finished a few minutes under 6 hours.  It wasn't what I hoped for, but it was still about a 40 minute PR.  I knew I'd PR today, unless it was just awful.  In the end, I was thrilled, not with the race overall, but my awesome finish.  I passed 7 runs in the last few miles.  That is amazing.  I was nearly crying at the finish and I was so fired up.  I don't think I've ever run that well before, especially considering how down I was.  I also battled through a lot of rain and mud.  Who knows how well I could've run without that.

There was some good and some bad.  I learned quite a few things.  I need to run without a pack.  I also need to eat and drink more, especially early.  I need to run slower in the first 10 miles too.  I'll go back to the drawing board and hopefully improve.  I also found that I like more challenging courses much more than courses that are completely runnable like this one.

I will say it was a well run event.  It was easy to follow the course, even though I got off track a few times.  I just wasn't paying attention.  We got a nice finisher's sweatshirt too.  I like to do different races, so I'm not sure if I'll do this again any time soon.  However, I would certainly recommend it.

Tomorrow, I'd definitely resting up.  I was nearly cramping afterward, but feel pretty good now.  I probably should've rested more before the race.  My legs had felt it early in this race.  Maybe I'll get back to running on Monday.  It'll likely be more climbing.

31 miles - 5:48:42 (11:13 pace)

Friday, December 5, 2014

South Mountain (Lehigh) Long Loop

I was tired yesterday, so I didn't run in the afternoon.  I went out to South Mountain (Lehigh) at night.  I tried to run, but my headlamp quit before I even hit the trail.  The batteries are new.  I don't think it likes the cold.  At least that didn't happen on the trail.  I packed up and headed home.

I was determined to run at South Mountain.  It has some challenging climbing, but not too much.  With a 50k tomorrow, I didn't want to overdo it.  That said, I wanted to do a little more than the usual 4.5 Decker loop.

The weather was tricky once again.  I had on short sleeves and a jacket.  I wore tights, but shorts probably would've been better.  I kept a glove on my handheld hand, but other than that, I used no other gloves or hats.  If anything I was overdressed again and chilly by the end.

I started off with my usual route.  I had to be cautious on the muddy early downhills.  I was happy not to fall.  I was going fairly slow.  It does amaze me how much things change as the run goes on.  Early on, some sections seem technical, but later in the run, the same section would be easy.

I crossed the road and began the short but steep climbs to the top.  First, I stopped for a bathroom break.  I saw three deer, but they ran off.  All four deer today ran off, unlike the other day when they were just hanging out on Mt. Tammany.

The climb is always tough in the cold air.  The other challenging thing early on is that my eyes water.  That's not a big problem on roads, but it is interesting with rocks on trails.  At least I didn't fall.  If I didn't know this first climb so well, I might've walked some of it.  I didn't though.  I huffed and puffed and made it up both that one and the next climb.

Then, it was on to the fun downhill part.  That was good for recovering.  Most of this route is fun singletrack.  The switchbacks here are neat.  There's some technical running too.

I got to the bridge over the creek before long.  Usually, I head on the road to the lookout at that point.  However, today I wanted to do the longer route.  I've rarely run this piece and don't quite know it.

I knew how to go through the art garden section, where Lehigh students have made weird art sculptures.  I ran through there and snapped a few photos.  The problem was I didn't quite know where to go after that.  These trails aren't heavily used, so at times the trails are hard to follow.  I had to backtrack a few times.

Eventually, I came out behind an old TV studio.  However, I realized that I was going the opposite way that I wanted to.  I turned around and tried another way, but that didn't work either.  Eventually, I went behind the TV studio and ran the loop backward from the way I sort of know.  I clearly need to get better at this section.  At least I added some distance and elevation to the run.

Finally, I came out where I wanted to.  I went to the lookout and took a photo.  Then, I went back on to the familiar route.  That had a nice gradual climb.  I thought about a friend that I thought was a good friend and I ran with here once, but now haven't talked to in months.  That was depressing.  One great thing with trails is I don't look at my watch much and when I do, I usually check the time or elevation gain first.  That makes the run fly by.

I was disappointed to see that I'd only be around 6.5 miles if I finished up the loop normally.  I decided not to turn up the hill.  Instead, I stayed on the trail.  That's when I saw another deer.  This was a fun singletrack switchback section.  It kept going down and down.  I wanted to see where it would go, but I also didn't want to descend too much.

Finally, as I was getting tired of the switchbacks, the trail turned and went along the ridge.  That was fun and there were some cool views between the trees.  I forgot that we had run this section during Decker's first run there.  Some parts were rocky and quite the challenge.  Other times, it was fun and very runnable.

This did seem to go on for a long time.  It had a nice view of the Sands Casino.  Eventually it began to climb.  That was mildly tough, but it was a gradual ascent.

I didn't totally know where I was until I came out to a powerline clearing.  They were actually doing construction above me.  I could've taken a new paved road there, but I opted to stay on the trail.  A little bit later, I took the less steep turn.  I then realized that I was near the start's road crossing.  I needed to go up the other way.

I did the steep climb to finish.  I was breathing pretty heavy, but it never got too steep.  I knew what was in store too, so that helped.  Finally, I ran on the road and to my car.  I finished up at 8.5 miles.

This was actually a great route.  I forgot about the whole last few miles and just how challenging they can be.  There are still more trails and I think even more climbing that I can do there.  This loop would actually be perfect for doing a couple times for 20+ miles.  It's basically all runnable too, so that makes it enjoyable and at the same time, it can be challenging.  One other nice thing is that throughout the entire run, I encountered no other people.

Now, it is time to rest.  I'm not actually tapering as I'm racing the 50k on Staten Island tomorrow.  That should be fun, except that it is supposed to rain a lot.  My shoes aren't great in the mud

either.  At least the temperature will be warm.  This is an easier course than I usually train on, so I should be able to run most of it and PR with ease.  My PR is rather pathetic at this point.

8.5 miles - 1:39:49 (11:45 pace) 1,504 feet of elevation gain

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Foggy Early Winter Double Mt. Tammany Run

I wanted to run yesterday, but it didn't workout.  Originally, I was going to head to the Delaware Water Gap.  However, we had some freezing rain, so I couldn't chance the travel.  Then, I did drive to South Mountain after dark, to get in a night run.  However, it was super foggy at the top of the mountain.  I couldn't take a chance with a crappy headlamp too.

I had to get out to run today.  I headed out mid afternoon to run at the Delaware Water Gap.  I was looking forward to climbing here while the weather is still cooperating.  It was semi warm for this time of year.  It was quite foggy, but most of the snow had melted.  I'm quickly learning that I always need a jacket this time of year for mountain climbs.  Some spots are cold, while others are hot.  With hiking parts of the climbs, I'm always chilly at some point.

I drove over to the parking lot in New Jersey.  The plan was to double loop Mt. Tammany and add some partial climbing toward Sunfish Pond, if time permitted.  I wanted to loop in each direction.  I figured that running up the Blue Trail would be easier, so I started with that.

The first part of this was awesome.  It was a clear trail with some gradual climbing and the creek flowing below, while the mountainsides were covered with snow.  I came across a women hiking and a guy with his dog.  I yelled early, so I didn't startle the woman.  The dog was small, but seemed to be in the fighting mood.  It didn't do anything though.  Those were the only two people that I saw all run.  I had the place mostly to myself on this dreary day.

I got on to the blue trail.  I had already climbed a few hundred feet.  I ran the early part of the Blue Trail.  Somewhere around 400 feet of elevation gain, my breathing just got too labored and I began hiking.  That first climb is always so challenging, when my body isn't ready to run and I breathe heavy.

This Blue Trail was definitely a combination of running and hiking.  Some parts are fairly flat and runnable.  Others, are just too steep for me right now, or too rocky.  It seemed like it took quite awhile to get to the top.  Some of the scenery was neat.  Near the top, there was snow off to the sides of the trail and a lot of fog in the air.

I was happy that the rocks weren't bothering my feet too much.  They have recovered since the DWG Fatt Ass.  It was great to get to the top.  My back was a little sore from the climb.  I sure wearing a hydration pack didn't help much either.

It had been warm on the climb, but now it was chilly as I came to the windy side of the mountain.  I was running along the ridge and cruising along.  Then, right off to the side of the trail was a deer.  He just stared at me.  I stopped and stared back.  I couldn't quite believe how close he was and he didn't seem to care that I was getting closer.  I didn't want to scare him too much, so I kept standing and watching.  Finally, he headed up into the grass a bit and I walked past.  That was definitely my closest deer encounter to date. 

I cruised along the Blue Trail and then it ended.  I was at the top with the view of Mt. Minsi, except it was so foggy that you couldn't see anything.  That was interesting.

I was then on to the Red Dot Trail.  I missed the main part of it again, just like in the race.  I thought going downhill would be tough.  I was worried that I'd slip.  While it wasn't easy and I couldn't exactly run down at a decent clip, it wasn't quite slow either.  Getting down the rock scramble was somewhat interesting.

The great thing about running this mountain twice was that I got to know it better.  I've still only run or hiked here a handful of times.  I'm learning where I can and can't run.  That will be a big help going forward.

It was great to finally get to the bottom.  It took me just over an hour and I think I would've finished up under an hour without stopping for the deer.  That was worth it though.

I stopped at my car briefly.  I opened my bag and ate 3 pretzels.  I sure needed the nutrition.  I was sweating, so I drank some more.  I then headed back out.

This time, I would head up Mt. Tammany on the Red Dot Trail first.  This is the way that the crazy loop race in the spring goes.  I'm not ready to do that one.  I ran for quite a bit, but this is a tough one.

I was hoping to make it to the rock scramble section before having to hike.  However, that didn't happen.  One early section was fairly rocky and steep.  I pushed through for a bit before hiking.  So much of climbing is mental and I need to work on it, although of course I was breathing heavy.  It's really a matter of how long you can hold out and suffer through.

I went up the rock scramble fairly quickly.  I put gloves on partway through, so that I wouldn't cut my hands on the jagged edges.  Even after the rockiest part, I wasn't able to run much.  It was still rocky and steep.  That was disappointing.  I did run where I could though.

My back bothered me a lot hiking up this time.  At the top, I was around 2500 feet of elevation gain, with only about 5 miles completed.  That is certainly tough.  I was happier with this summit when compared to the other direction.  I ran more of this than I anticipated.  Still, I hiked a lot.

I ran along the ridge again on the Blue Trail.  My deer friend was still there hanging out, although farther up into the woods.  I wondered if I would see him again.  I came across two more deer a short time later on the bottom side of the ridge.  They ran off a little more than the first deer.  I tiptoed over all the rocks at the top.

Descending the Blue Trail is fun.  I was able to pretty much run down the whole thing, although slowly.  It was still quite wet.  I was amazed that I had yet to fall and then it happened.  I was almost walking down a flat rock and slide and fell on my butt.  Luckily, it was just a little dirty and didn't actually hurt.

I continued to cruise down the hill.  I kept an eye on my watch, as I was hoping to complete this loop in under an hour.  I came to the bottom of the Blue Trail and made my way toward the Appalachian Trial.  The footbridges were icy, so I had to be careful.

I wanted to run back to my car, drop my pack and then run a little more.  I was at about 2500 feet of elevation gain and I wanted to run to 3000 feet of elevation gain.  I came across the woman from early and this time I caused her to jump.  She asked how far and where I'd run.  She was impressed when I told her.  I think this loop took about 56 minutes.

I headed back out after dropping my pack.  Darkness was closing in.  I was only planning on a short bit of running though.  I chatted with the woman briefly again and was then on my way.  Since I was running the more gradual section toward Sunfish Pond, I was able to run most of it.  I did hike a little.

I gradually went up and up.  I was closing in on 3000 feet.  At one point, the trail flattened for awhile.  I was just short of my goal elevation gain, but decided to turn around.  I had already gone out about a mile.

I headed back.  I could see the shadows of the mountains at one point and they just looked awesome at dusk.  I had to pay attention though, because there were plenty of rocks and I could barely see them.

I cruised down of a bit and then when I got to a fairly steep descent, I turned around and ran back up briefly.  I went until my watch was over 3000 feet.  Of course, when I did an elevation correction later, it was just shy of that.

I finished up just in time.  It was getting super dark and I didn't have my headlamp on.  It was great to be done with such a productive run.  I got a lot climbing in, so it was a great day once again.  I'm very happy with it.  I'll be back to this place over and over and over again.

Tomorrow, I'm sticking a little closer to home.  I'm hoping to run a loop at South Mountain (Lehigh).  That should be about 8 miles, with some climbing, but less than today.  It should be a little more relaxing of a day.  I'm running a 50k on Saturday, so I don't want to overdo it.  I'm hoping I'll be able to end the week with over 10,000 feet of elevation gain.  That would be outstanding.

9.57 miles - 2:31:55 (15:52 pace) 2,914 feet of elevation gain