Saturday, January 31, 2015

Treking Through the Trexler Snow with Friends

I began the week off with a tough run and I wanted to end it with one.  I met Ryan and Steve for some running around Trexler.  The hope was to do two loops, but by the time we got started, I knew we'd have to finish the second one after dark.

It was freezing this morning, but not too bad by the time we started at 1:30 PM.  I wore the usual vest over my long sleeve shirt.  I added shorts over my tights, for extra wind protection.  The headband and gloves came on and off.  At the higher elevations, it was windy and cold.  Lower valleys it was warm.  I had to switch back and forth.

We began and I let Ryan set the pace and lead Steve and I.  I was kind of disappointed in the snow.  I thought more people would've come through there and it would've been more packed down.  It was runnable, but I was hoping for it to be smoother and faster than it was.

I took an early photo of the two of them running ahead of me.  Then, before I put the camera away, it slipped out of my hand and into the snow.  I thought I even stepped on it.  However, when I stopped, I couldn't find it anywhere.  It seemed like it was right on the trail, but I was having no luck finding it.  I moved snow all around. 

I must've been there looking for between 5 and 10 minutes.  I decided to give up and look for it later.  By now, Steve and Ryan had run way ahead.  I wasn't sure if I'd even catch them.  I was looking forward to running with people for a change, and here I was running on my own.  That was so frustrating.

I was mostly running, but I was definitely mixing running and hiking.  Running up the hills was tough.  I cruised along.  I got to the road crossing and saw a car pull in there.  Later, I saw someone with a dog way behind me.

I hiked the beginning of the long, gradual hill.  Then as I was running, I could see Ryan and Steve farther up.  They were so far ahead.  It must've been at least a quarter mile gap.  I knew I could close it, but figured it would take several miles.

I kept making progress.  I was definitely running a little harder than I would've liked.  The dogs barked at me as usual.  As I got to the one turn and gradual uphill, I saw Ryan and Steve and they weren't that far ahead.  They were hiking.  I knew I'd catch them if I ran up the hill.  It was tough, as there were a lot of snowdrifts.

I finally caught them along the top.  I told them about my phone.  A dog came out of a yard right then and barked at me.  It didn't seem happy.  Eventually, I walked away from it and it went about its business.

Now, the three of us were together.  Steve was doing pretty good, considering this was his first Trexler run.  We cruised along.  I flew down a hill and led for a bit.  Then, I let Ryan go back ahead.  I was in no hurry.  Plus, I was beat from trying to catch them.

We made our way over the shorter hills and the two big hills.  The biggest one was super tough.  Steve dropped behind a bit.  We were mostly hiking and it was a slow go.  We waited for Steve as we turned on to the green trail.

There was a lot more gradual climbing now.  Ryan and I got pretty far ahead.  Eventually, we came to the white trail and again waited for Steve.  Going down the white trail super fast was a blast.  It is so steep that it was crazy out of control.

We met up again at the bottom.  We crossed the water, thanks to a board that a friend had put over the small stream.  That was great because the ice wasn't thick.

Since Steve was struggling, we suggested he take the bottom blue trail route, while we climb.  He could then head back to the car and skip the final 3 miles.  He'd still get 7 miles in anyway.  That worked out best for all three of us.

The climb up the blue trail was tough as always.  It was made even tougher with the snow.  This section had been heavily traveled though.  We hiked most of the way up it.  The views of the LV Zoo and valley below were amazing.  I wish I didn't lose my camera.

Coming down the blue was crazy fun.  It wasn't as steep as the white.  It was so fast.  I flew ahead of Ryan, although he wasn't too far back.  We crossed the bridge at the bottom.  We saw Steve across the creek and directed him in the right direction.

Ryan and I continued on.  We ran along the stone trail.  Then, we took the yellow trail up a bit.  We hiked that.  I led us through the short cut.  Now, we were back on the Border Trail.

I thought this would be easy.  While it was easier, the snow still made it a challenge.  All the ups and downs in the snow were taking their toll.  We ran some and hiked some.

Before long, we were on the long uphill toward KidsPeace.  We hiked that.  I was hoping we could do this loop in a little under 2 hours, but it was such a slow go in the snow and we were over that now.

We were able to run in some tire tracks on the road part.  I didn't take enough calories, so I was losing it a little in this part.  I wasn't steady enough to stay in the tire tracks.

We then went back on the singletrack.  This rolling part is always runnable in the clear.  In the snow, it was a mix of running and hiking.  There were some snowdrifts too.  Ryan fell a little behind.

It was good to cross the road and nearly be home.  A few more snowdrifts slowed us up.  We hiked up the last hill.  It was clear that we weren't running 10 more miles.  We hoped we could do a partial loop though.  The last short hill was tough, but I ran up it.

We stopped at the car briefly.  I got some pretzels.  I think that helped a lot.  We went back out to run and hike.  First, we had to get over the big hill and find my phone.  When we had no luck finding it after a few minutes, I stopped my watch.  That was it for the day.  I could've run more if we didn't waste so much time looking for the phone.

My dad and I found it later on at night.  It was buried under the snow.  I'm glad it still worked and I didn't lose it.  The run wasn't as much as we had hoped, but it was a productive day.  The snow made for a very challenging 10 miles.

This was an awesome week.  I got over 9,500 feet of elevation gain through the snow.  I ran and hiked for over 10 hours.  I will be stronger after this.  I love the challenge of winter running.

I'm quite exhausted.  Even so, I'm planning on doing a group run in the morning.  The Pagoda Pacers are running part of the challenging Buzzard course.  It is near Harrisburg.  It has some steep climbs.  I've been wanting to go there for some time.  It should be fun in the snow.

10.94 miles - 2:54:52 (15:59 pace) 2196 feet of elevation gain

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Snowy AT to Pulpit Rock and The Pinnacle

It has been a busy week.  I worked again today.  I had time to travel a bit, if I got going right away.  That's exactly what I did, as I headed out the door shortly after lunch.  I went out to the Hamburg Reservoir for some trail running.

The temperature was supposed to be around the freezing mark, so I dressed in the usual.  That almost cost me, as I ran miles along the ridge, with the wind pounding me the whole time.  I got quite cold.  I made it through alright though.

I arrived before 2:30 PM.  There was no one in the lot.  This is a popular place, so even in the snow, I was kind of surprised by that.  By the end of the run, the lot had several cars.

I ran here over the summer.  It was a great run along the AT, but it became too rocky near Pulpit Rock.  I also saw a snake on the rocks.  It wasn't a rattlesnake, but I still just decided to turn around that day.  The plan today was to go to Pulpit Rock and then take another trail back.  Then I could take a different trail out again and gain more elevation.

The stone road up to the reservoir was plowed.  It was partially snow covered, so it was okay on my MICROspikes.  I hate this slow, gradual uphill half mile to start.  Like yesterday, my calf was bothering me in the early going. 

I then hit the Appalachian Trail.  The trail is pretty wide as it gradually climbs.  I was very happy to see the condition it was in.  A lot people had hiked there, so there was a packed down path.  It was still slightly challenging to run, but much easier than it would've been, if this wasn't a busy trail.

It wasn't easy, but I basically slowly ran up this whole trail in the summer.  Today, that just wasn't going to happen.  My calves were burning and my breathing was labored.  The snow provided good resistance.  I kept pushing myself though.  I made it around 1.5 miles from the start and had gained over 500 feet of elevation, before hiking.  That was a good start.

I hiked more than I ran on the rest of the way to Pulpit Rock.  It was a mix of both though.  Before long, I was climbing the rock outcrop.  The trail was easy too follow here and not too dangerous.

When I got to Pulpit Rock, I couldn't believe it.  There was a wide view.  I could see a nearby ridge.  More amazing though was seeing all of the white snow covered farmland.  I could see for miles and miles.  It was stunning!  I stopped and took a few photos.

I had been planning on taking a side trail back.  However, this view at Pulpit Rock blew me away.  I decided I had to try to get to The Pinnacle.  I know it is supposed to have an even more amazing view.  I had not brought a map, so I wasn't sure how long it would take to get there.

There were some rocky sections that slowed me down and forced me to hike.  However, most of the Appalachian Trail was smooth and fast, along the ridgeline.  I came across a few snowdrifts, but not too many.  There was still a solid path through the snow.  That helped a lot.

The ridge was cold because of the wind.  It seemed to be taking me some time to get out to The Pinnacle.  I told myself that I can't go out more than 5.5 miles and I'll need to turn back around.  I didn't want to be caught in darkness.  My pace was relatively slow.

Finally, as I was nearing mile 5, it got rocky.  Also, The Pinnacle is a point at the end of the mountain.  I noticed that not far across the woods was also a ridge.  I knew I was getting close.  I did get there soon after that.

The Pinnacle was even more fantastic than I could imagine.  It was a wide view and I could see for miles!  I didn't want to leave, even though it was cold.  I took a lot of photos and a video too.  The winter landscape made it so magical.  It was great to have it all to myself too.  The only time I saw anyone on the whole run was near the finish.

You can loop around from The Pinnacle.  I like taking different routes, so I wanted to do that.  However, as I continued on the AT, there were far fewer footprints.  I didn't want to run through the snow.  I reluctantly headed back the same way that I came.  I also did this because I didn't have a map and didn't want to get lost in the cold.  In summer, I would've definitely explored more.

Now that I was running basically the whole time, the miles clicked by faster than on the way out.  I still was moving slow though.  I had more downhill in this direction too.  There was still uphill here and there.

I was cold, so I just wanted to get below Pulpit Rock.  It had been warmer down there.  I hustled and eventually I was to the rock.  I hiked down the boulders.

Now, it was on to the really fun part.  This was most of the descending on the course.  I knew it would be an enjoyable downhill.  I flew through the snow.  I was having a blast.  I had to avoid a rock here or there, but that wasn't that bad.

There were some slight uphills.  I even turned and ran uphill slightly at one point, to make sure I got over 1500 feet of elevation gain.  I didn't really need it.  I passed a guy walking his dog near the bottom.  Then, there was a hiker coming up near the parking area.

Since I was around 9.5 miles, I ran back uphill for a bit.  I then finished by descending to my car.  My legs were pretty beat.  It was a great run through the snow.  Even though I was hoping for more elevation, I still got plenty.  Working through the snow helped and more importantly, I had amazing views.

I've had fun making my way through the snow all week.  I'm getting a lot of elevation gain, in these conditions.  I want even more tomorrow.  I'm looking to do long climbing repeats.  I hope to go to Wind Gap and run the AT southbound.  I'd like to get at least 2,000 feet of elevation gain.  I'm hoping to run long and hilly on both days this weekend too.

9.5 miles - 2:13:01 (14:00 pace) 1648 feet of elevation gain

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Trailblazing Snow AT Run

Sunday was an awesome group run up the mountains and through the snow.  I knew I was taking Monday off.  I didn't plan on being lazy and taking Tuesday off too.  That is what happened though.  I had to get out and run today.

I headed to Wind Gap to run the AT.  Lately, I've gone southbound.  It has been awhile since I've gone northbound.  That climb is a bit more challenging, as it doesn't switchback.

It was a bit windy and chilly at the start.  I still went with a lightweight long sleeve shirt and fleece vest over top.  I had on tights and wore gloves and a headband.  I had no way to protect my feet from the snow.  I may need to start using gaiters.

There wasn't as much elevation in this run as Sunday's so I figured it would be easier.  I turned out to be very wrong.  They had a good amount of snow on the ground up there, but we have even more.  This was my first run in trail shoes (technically road shoes with MICROspikes) around here since the snow last week.  The really tough thing about our snow was that it is soft powder and kind of slippery.  It doesn't pack down like the snow in Central PA did.

I ran slowly up the mountain early on.  I got a couple hundred feet of elevation gain.  Then, the trail became too steep and combined with the snow, a real challenge.  I just had to hike up the mountain.  There had been a few hikers footprints and that helped a bit, but it wasn't great.

Even hiking upward was extremely hard.  My calves weren't warmed up and they were burning.  They were getting quite the workout.  My breathing was labored too.  I thought this might end up being a short day.  I continued to hike.

Even hiking slightly uphill along the ridge on the side of the mountain was interesting.  It was a struggle.  I knew I had to get to the top.  I really hoped things would get better up there.

That wasn't exactly the case.  Even as I was near the top, there was still some gradual uphill.  I had to alternate hiking and running.  It was a super slow go.  The terrain was uneven with the hidden rocks and such.  It was nearly unrunnable.

At this point, there was only one set of footprints remaining.  My feet were getting buried in snow and they were quite cold.  I just kept battling though.  Even if my time was slow, at least I was getting a good workout.  This was very hard.

I never expected this attempted run to be this difficult.  Finally, I started running slowly when the conditions permitted me too.  For whatever reason, it seemed to get better.  I still couldn't run well, but I could finally run.  There were some snow drifts in places and that made things interesting.

I ended up running almost the entire second mile.  Since I didn't have to hike any more, I continued on until that point.  It was so slow that these two miles took over 35 minutes.

I knew heading back would be much better, as it was almost all downhill.  That was the case.  I was so focused that the third mile flew by.  You have to really pay attention to every step in conditions like this.  At one point, I looked up to make sure that I was still on the AT.  I was just following footprints at that point.  There was really only one way to go.  If the hiker had hiked off trail before me, I would've too.

Coming back was also nicer because the trail was packed down a bit.  I could run along fairly well.  The descent was a lot of crazy fun.  I was flying down it and sliding around.  It was good practice.  I thought about how having a skiing background could help in these conditions.

I got to the bottom and was near mile 4.  I wanted some more elevation gain.  I turned around and slowly ran back up the hill.  Once I was forced to hike, I went down the hill again.

Again, I ran up.  I wanted to get over 1,000 feet of gain.  That would make for a quality run.  With the resistance from the snow, it was awesome.

I descended another time.  I had only run up the hill partway both of the last two times.  I realized that I'd be close to 5 miles when I finished up.  I turned around and ran about another tenth of a mile or two.  I then went downhill and finished with a solid 5 miles.

Although I would've liked more mileage, I ran for well over an hour.  I got some elevation gain.  I ran a tough route and got an awesome workout.  It got easier as I had made more and more tracks.  I now have a good place to run in the future.  I'll have to go out the other way and work on that too.

I'm not sure where I'm running tomorrow.  If I don't work, I'd like to go out to the Hamburg Reservoir.  I think they've had less snow out there.  I saw the Philly area barely has any snow.  That could be an option too, if I have the time.  I'd like a quality semi long run.  I might have to break out the snowshoes more often around here.

5 miles - 1:16:35 (15:18 pace) 1135 feet of elevation gain

Sunday, January 25, 2015

2015 Eastern States Training Run #1

Today was a big day.  Ryan and I headed 3 hours away for the Eastern States 100 training run.  Neither of us is doing the race, but we may do the Call of the Wilds Marathon.  More importantly, we need some big climbs.  It is near Hyner and we are both doing that one.

The weather was very chilly at the start.  I had to wear a fleece vest over a light weight long sleeve shirt.  As I expected, I was hot at times.  Mountain runs are tricky because one part is cold and another super warm.  I managed to survive pretty well though.

We met at a rail trail parking lot.  David, one of the race director's, was leading the run.  There was a pretty big turnout.  I think most were locals, but Janine and Bob joined us as well.

We were skipping the first 3 miles of the race, which is flat anyway.  Instead, we started on the rail trail and then went on to a road.  I didn't stay with the lead group, but I was ahead of the chase pack.  Since Ryan didn't stay with me through this part, I just decided to keep going.  There were enough people for him to run with anyway.  I was slightly worried about him getting lost, but the course was fairly easy to follow and they gave us maps and directions.

I pushed kind of hard on the road.  I didn't want to lose contact with the lead group, in case I missed the turn to the orange blazed Mid State Trail.  My MICROspikes weren't crazy about road running, so they were glad to get to a snowy part of the road.  David and his wife Ashley, waited at the turn to the Mid State Trail.

This trail was just silly.  It was probably the steepest trail I ever hiked.  There was certainly no running, especially with it snow covered.  There was probably around half of a foot on the ground.  There were a few people in front of me and they pulled ahead.

It was early and the steepness of the trail began to be a problem.  My back can only handle so much slope and this was bothering it.  This trail was crazy.  It seemed to go on and on and on.  Making it worse, every time it seemed like the top was near, there was a false summit.  It was neverending.

A few people passed me as I was getting frustrated.  I had to stop and rest at times.  This woman Jess and this guy Aaron came up behind me.  They didn't pass me and I ended up running a bit with them.  It was a huge relief to finally get to the top.  The only frustrating thing was that it was a slight uphill still that was almost unrunnable in the snow.  We kept hiking.

Finally, we were able to run at the top.  I think there was a fracking site up there and at another stop.  That was too bad.  The rest of this top few miles was nice.  It wasn't long and we started to go downhill.  We descended along a stream.

This was nice, but it was interesting.  At first, there was some ridge running.  The snow covered a lot of the smaller rocks.  I was flying down here and slipping and sliding.  I thought maybe I'd gap Jess here, but instead, she was on my heels.

After awhile, I was tired of leading.  I was afraid of going too hard and tripping too.  She set a good pace.  At the bottom, I stopped and took a picture.  The two of them got ahead, plus two other guys.

I fell behind the group quite a bit, as we were now climbing up along another creek.  Jess had set a good pace.  This climb was kind of long, but thankfully not as steep as the first one.  My back didn't bother me nearly as much now.

It was great to get to the top and I actually almost caught the group.  Then, I noticed an awesome vista through the trees, plus a side trail there.  No one had taken it, but I knew it must lead to a view.  I was in no rush, so I took it and got some photos.

Now, I was running the flat part all alone.  My watched seemed to struggle with distance and time from the beginning, so I wasn't quite sure how far until the road crossing.  I then began a descent.

This one was very hairy.  It was steep and the trail was narrow.  It did switchback a few times, but it still wasn't safe.  I was sort of running it, but barely.  Near the bottom, I heard some people catching me.  We had to leap over a downed tree that a guy was cutting.  The two people caught me at the road.  It was Ashley and some guy who's name I didn't get.

Since Ashley knew the course, she knew the way to the aid station.  I was using Tailwind and was grateful to get some more stuff.  I ate some pretzels and Swedish Fish.  I knew I had enough nutrition to survive the run, but probably not enough to do it without some struggles.

The aid station was kind of a big party.  Everyone was hanging out.  Most people were done and weren't doing the longer loop.  I hung there for maybe 10 minutes.  I was waiting to see if Ryan would come in.  I also didn't want to head out on my own, so I waited until another guy left and I went with him.

We started out running the rail trail.  It wasn't long and we hit the final big climb.  It was the yellow blazed Tiadaghton Trail.  This was another 1200 foot climb, like the first one.  The good thing is that it wasn't as steep.  That was better for my back.  The bad thing was that it seemed neverending.  Every time I thought I was at the top, it went up again, like steps.

There was another awesome vista view that I took great photos of the other mountains.  The guy I ran with hiked up this much faster than me.  I was actually getting super hot here.  The good thing was that I had snow all around to cool myself off if needed.

I hiked most of this gradual climb.  I also had another problem.  With less people going through this part, there was less of a track to follow.  When I went in the snow, my MICROspikes would pick up giant snowballs.  Eventually, they'd come off, but it was so frustrating.

At the top, I was able to run for a bit.  The trail was flat and it turned from singletrack into a woods road.  However, that didn't last.  After that, it became a long and gradual uphill.  I was surprised that no one had caught me yet.  I thought I heard a few voices from time to time.  I hiked almost all of this and was so annoyed.  This uphill would be runnable in normal conditions, but not this late and not after so much climbing. 

I was so happy to get into the woods singletrack again.  There was some very runnable and fun downhill.  After that, it began to switchback and then run downhill along another stream.

Finally, I heard and then saw someone coming up from behind me.  It was David and Ashley.  I had wondered when they'd catch me.  I stayed ahead of them for a bit and then stopped to let them pass.  They stopped too though and introduced themselves and we chatted briefly.

They then led the way.  Ashley actually led and I followed her.  This was fun.  It was rocky, but pretty runnable.  At times, I'd slip and slide.  I definitely ran faster than I would've on my own.  They are super runners, so this was great.  We chatted a bit and I got to pick their brains.

David went ahead of us and took some great photos too.  It was funny because all I was doing is following Ashley and matching her pace.  One time, there was a sharp turn.  She overshot it and slid down the hill a bit and I did the same, because I was just following.  There were no serious problems throughout the day.  I fell a couple times I guess, but the impact was minimal.

Although this was fun, the last bit seemed pretty long.  I could see the road just below for a bit.  We were on a ridge, running parallel to it.  Finally, we got to the road and ran along it for a bit to finish up back at the rail trail lot.

Even if it wasn't ultra distance, this run felt like an ultra.  The climbing was challenging.  Descending beat my quads up a little too.  It was a struggle, but I enjoyed it.  This area is special and I love going up there (although I've only done so twice now).

Ryan was behind me.  I waited with David and Ashley and chatted for some time.  Janine finally came in and then eventually Ryan with another guy.  It was tough for him too, but he enjoyed it.  Now, we both have a good idea of the terrain up that way.  It will be a big help for Hyner.

I'm still a little sore now, but overall it isn't too bad.  I'll likely take tomorrow off.  I'll run again on Tuesday hopefully.  They are expecting a ton of snow tomorrow, so we'll see.  I may have to snowshoe.

Not accurate data 20.39 miles - 4:10:38 (12:18 pace) 4535 feet of elevation gain

Saturday, January 24, 2015

First 2015 Snowshoe Run

We had so much snow last year.  So far this year, we've had next to nothing.  Finally, we got a pretty big storm on Friday night.  It was somewhere in the ballpark of 6 to 8 inches of powder.  I had to get out for my first snowshoe run of 2015.  I ran a few times last year, but I found it so hard.

I didn't get going until late in the afternoon.  My dad came along to hike in his snowshoes.  We went to the Appalachian Trail at Route 191.  I ran there yesterday, but there wasn't much snow and that was in trail shoes.  We were surprised to see the parking area was cleared of snow.

Dressing was tricky.  I know from experience that my shoes kick up a ton of snow on to my behind.  That happened and it got wet again.  However, I couldn't wear more than one layer there.  It was too warm.  It was nearly 40 degrees.  There was no wind.  The conditions were perfect really.  I wore a light weight short sleeve shirt and put on my gloves and headband.

Putting on my snowshoes is always tough.  They slip over my shoes tightly.  It is also tough to put them on in the deep snow.  I did it successfully though, across from the parking area. 

I was planning to head northbound toward the Delaware Water Gap.  I knew going southbound would be better running and smoother, but I was hoping I could run a mile out to the open view.  I ran downhill on the singletrack for a bit.

After maybe a quarter mile, I realized that I had not started my watch.  I got it going now.  I continued out.  However, running this part was frustrating.  It was a narrow rolling singletrack.  My one foot kept slipping and the hidden rocks were tough.  I didn't get out very far and I just turned around.

I hiked a lot of the way back to the road.  I then walked across the road.  I started running southbound now.  This was tough early, because it was uphill.  It was so much smoother though.

My dad had gone out this way and I followed his tracks.  I caught him pretty early, since he was hiking.  I continued on.  The hills were a lot of work.  I couldn't really even run a quarter mile and I'd have to walk again.

My shin was bothering me.  I worked on my form and found that picking up my legs more seemed to help and made running slightly easier.  It was still hard though.  The surroundings were beautiful, but I had to focus most of my attention on my footing.

I wanted to get out past 1.5 miles.  I did that and then turned around at about 1.7 miles.  Coming back was still tough, but a little easier.  There was more downhill.  I also had my tracks to follow.  On the way out, I made the first tracks in the snow.

I was walking when I got to the 2 miles point.  I saw that and began running.  After this point, it was a lot more downhill.  Coming across my dad's tracks made it even easier too.  A groomed trail is definitely much easier to run on.  I wish I knew where they actually groomed trails at.

I ran and ran and ran.  It was slow, but at least I could keep running.  I continuously ran all the way back to the car.  There was some really nice downhill near the end.  I saw my dad back at the car.

I had my dad take a few photos.  I ran a few short out and backs.  I wanted to get over 3 miles and I did that.  I wish I could've run more, but it takes some practice.  It was a fun and challenging workout.

Tomorrow, Ryan and I are going to an Eastern States 100 training run in Central Pennsylvania.  Tom, Flo and David were supposed to go, but they bailed on us.  The run should be about 17 miles with a lot of climbing.  It should be tough, as they have snow out there too.  I think it will be a lot of fun though.  I'm looking forward to it.

3.06 - 50:50 (16:37 pace) 282 feet of elevation gain

Friday, January 23, 2015

Exploring More of the AT @ 191

It seems like I most often don't work on Fridays.  That was the case today.  I thought of going to Bear Mountain in New York.  However, if I did go there, I would've been hitting Friday evening rush hour traffic on the way back.  I wasn't up for that.

I decided to stay local.  I also got some good climbing in over the last few days, so I didn't need to do that.  I headed to the AT at Route 191.  The trail starts there near the top of the mountain.

Dressing was a little tricky.  It was above freezing, but below 40 degrees and there wasn't much wind.  I probably could've run in shorts again, but I wore tights and a light weight long sleeve shirt.  That worked good and I took my headband and gloves on and off.

The real attire question was what shoes to wear.  The trail didn't look bad, as I was planning to start by going southbound.  However, I knew how snowy the trail was in nearby Wind Gap yesterday.  I asked two hikers who were coming back to the car.  They said it was good until Wolf Rocks.  I was hoping to bypass that section anyway.  I decided to go out with trail shoes.  It was snowy and a little slippery at times, but overall it worked good.

The beginning is a lot of easy running.  The only issue was some gradual uphill.  After pushing my legs yesterday, that was a little bit of a challenge.  However, I was fine with the climbs later on.  Once I warmed up, I was good.

Around 1.5 miles.  I came to the Wolf Rocks bypass.  It is blazed in a faint blue.  I took it because I didn't want to run over the giant rocks.  This trail worked out great.  It was a wide woods road for a bit.

After some time, the trail turned and became a singletrack.  I followed it.  The blazes were a little hard to see.  For the most part, there was more snow along the trail than in the woods.  This singletrack had some more rocks than the woods road, but it wasn't too bad.  Eventually, I came to the AT connection.

I was going to run on the AT for a bit, but I didn't get very far.  This section of the AT is supper rocky.  Combined with the snow and ice, I thought it would be a good idea to turn around early, near 2.5 miles.  I had been hoping to do 7 miles total.

I turned around and headed back on the blue trail.  I recalled earlier that although the trail turned at the woods road, the woods road didn't end.  At that intersection, I turned on to the unmarked woods road.  I like to explore and needed more distance anyway.

This was an outstanding decision.  Early on, I came to a spring that hikers fill from.  What made it awesome was that the trail went over it and it was frozen.  It was small frozen waterfalls.  That was neat and I took a bunch of photos.

I just love when a mountain stream cuts a valley through the side of a mountain.  That's so cool and one of my favorite natural features.  I just wish there was a trail running down along it.

I continued on the woods road.  It got narrower as I went along.  It wasn't too overgrown, so someone must use this part.  It was heading toward the Appalachian Trail, so I'd imagine that they connected.  However, I couldn't keep going.  After .7 miles in this direction, I turned around.

It was fun running back too.  My exploring was slowing me down.  That continued because I saw an area without much canopy and what looked like some potential views off of the mountain.  I ran/hiked down a bit, but never did find a clearing.  This area almost looked like people might've been there at one time.

I got back on the woods road and it then turned into the blue trail.  It wasn't too long and I was back to the AT.  There was a powerline clearing and I went to take some photos there.  I had to avoid some sticker bushes.

Most of the end of the run was downhill.  However, I needed a little more distance and wanted some elevation gain, so I ran uphill at the end.  I added about a tenth of a mile and was done with 7 miles.

I thought this would be an easy and ordinary run.  However, it was fun finding some different unmarked trails and exploring.  I wish there were actually more trails that connected to the AT.  Now at least I know I can run some different trails up there.  Maybe I can run farther on the unmarked trail next time.

I have no idea where or when I'm running tomorrow.  It is supposed to snow overnight.  I might have to break out the snowshoes for the first time this year.  I have been looking forward to a fun and challenging snowshoe run.  That would be great.


7 miles - 1:22:37 (11:48 pace) 652 feet of elevation gain

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Great AT Wind Gap Run

Yesterday was some good elevation gain, in a short distance.  Today, I wanted to go longer, but still get some good elevation.  I decided to head to Wind Gap and run the AT southbound.  This section climbs, but has a nice series of switchbacks that I was hoping I could run up.

It was warm for winter.  The temperature was around 40 degrees.  I wore shorts and a lightweight long sleeve top.  Gloves and a headband went off and on throughout.  I was chilly at the start and at times during the run.  Most of the time, I was comfortable though.

Last time I tried to run here, it was super icy and I didn't want to put on my MICROspikes.  This time, I was prepared to wear them.  I was unsure though, since northbound on the AT looked fairly clear.  However, I knew southbound didn't see a lot of sun and the top of the mountain might have snow too.  It was a great decision to wear them, as I could not have run without them.

I walked along the road to the trail.  I then began running and it was immediate climbing.  The southern parts of the switchbacks get sun and they were clear.  The north side had a lot of snow and some ice underneath.  I lost a little grip at times, but overall it wasn't bad.  I was able to run.  I think the snow did provide some resistance.

These switchbacks were nearly perfect.  Every time that it would get too steep and my breathing was labored and my legs burning, things would level off.  I was on the brink of hiking several times, but I kept running.  I powered up to the top and made this first climb of about 400 feet in 3/4 of a mile, without any hiking.

After the switchbacks, there is this other ridge climb.  It has massive rocks and it is difficult to run in the summer.  I hiked here.  At the top I began running again.

Now that I was at the top of the mountain, most of the elevation changes were small.  There's another fun up and down ridge section the north side of the mountain.  This was icy, but I had good grip with my MICROspikes.  They are amazing.

Earlier in the winter, I went out about 2.5 miles this way.  Today, I wanted to go farther.  I came upon two women who were hiking in the other direction.  They must've thought I was crazy running in shorts over this rocky terrain.  They told me to be careful, but I told them my spikes were working great.

I was really enjoying this run.  It was a nice day with some snow covered singletrack.  It was rocky, but not too rocky.  I ran this section back in 2012, shortly after coming back from surgery.  With all the rocks, I deemed it not runnable.  What a difference a few years makes.  Now, I was running it in the snow and running sub 12 minute miles.  I'm clearly getting better and better on technical terrain.

I cruised along.  I knew I wasn't too far from a powerline.  I could see that cut from the drive to the run.  I wanted to at least get that far.  I did that and I got views both to the north and south.  I had go go through some high grass and a blade cut me as I went through it.  I didn't pay much attention at the time, but noticed some blood later on.

Since I was feeling good, I decided to run even farther out.  I got to mile 3 and kept going.  I thought that that would be my turnaround point.  Instead, I ran over some rocks and out to 3.5 miles before turning around.

Coming back over the rocks was a little tricky.  I was starting to tire and there wasn't as much snow here.  That meant more likelyhood of twisting an ankle.  I managed to make it through okay.

I could tell I was getting depleted, so I took a GU.  That seemed to help, as did getting on better terrain.  Still, my legs were more tired than I expected on the short climbs.  I guess running in the snow was giving them more of a workout.

I kept wondering when I'd pass the hikers again.  Finally, I did, just before the rocky downhill ridge part.  That part was very hairy and hard to even hike down.  It was one of the few non runnable sections.

Next, I was on to the switchbacks.  I cruised down them.  That was slightly slippery, but pretty easy.  I went almost all of the way to the bottom.  I wasn't quite that far down though.  I wanted more climbing, so I headed back up the switchbacks.

I was hoping I could still run uphill, but I was unsure.  Some parts were steep and really burned my legs and had me breathing heavy.  I managed to make it though.  Near the top, I passed the hikers coming down.  They were nice and made room for me.

I was so exhausted by the top.  I actually had to stop and rest a bit.  I grabbed some water and took some pictures of the rocks, with a view to the north.  I headed on the trail toward the ridge climb, but turned around before it.

I headed back down.  I passed the women again.  Seeing someone familiar was a huge boost.  They asked me how far I ran and I told them the mileage and elevation gain.  They seemed impressed.

Again, I turned around near the bottom.  Now, I was heading back up one last time.  While the second time up was hard, it did seem kind of quick.  This climb seemed to go on fairly long.  It seemed like more switchbacks than earlier.  I was super tired.  I managed to make it past the women and on from there.

This climb was exhausting, but I basically made it all the way to the top.  I did stop right near the very top, but it was close enough.  I was so beat.  I needed to recover.  I headed back down.

Since the elevation gain on my watch was 1928 feet, I wanted to go over 2000 feet.  I turned around and ran up.  This was a struggle, but I got over 2028 feet.  When I did an elevation correction, it was much less.

I then cruised on down.  I was over 9 miles.  I stopped at the bottom, with a very productive day.  I was quite beat.  I was thinking yesterday that I often have to hike a lot on these runs and it kind of makes it easy.  Today's run was almost all runnable and that made for a challenge.  I don't think I've been this exhausted since I ran with snowshoes for 5 miles in the Parkway last year.

I was so happy to get mileage and a great workout into one run.  It was awesome on a weekday too.  I came away so satisfied.  If I don't work tomorrow, I might travel somewhere.  I'd love to get near double digit miles again.  I'm thinking that I'll have a pretty busy weekend ahead of me.

9.51 miles - 2:03:37 (13:00 pace) 1757 feet of elevation gain

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Icy and Snowy Katellen Repeats

Last night's trip to the Katellen Trail was disappointing.  Since I worked again today, I wanted to go there again.  I wasn't sure though, as I had stomach cramps this morning.  I didn't eat much, but I felt better by the late afternoon.  I headed to the Katellen Trail.

I was running here because I wanted to get some good climbing repeats.  It is less than a mile from the bottom to the top on this trail.  It's nearly 600 feet of elevation gain too.  I've run here a few times, but only ever did two repeats (in the summer).  I wanted at least 3 and maybe 4.  I figured that I probably didn't have the time for a 4th one, unless I ran after dark.

It was right around the freezing mark.  Snow was heading our way, but had not arrived yet.  It wasn't windy, so it felt kind of warm.  Plus, I knew I'd be working hard uphill.  I decided to wear a lightweight long sleeve top and tights.  I kept my gloves on the whole time, but the headband came off early.  I got a little chilly, but overall, it worked out great.

I stopped last night because I didn't want to wear MICROspikes on this icy trail.  This time, I decided to put them on some old road shoes.  Since the MICROspikes provided the traction, I had no use for my heavier trail shoes.  It was a great choice and my legs didn't hurt at all.  Plus, the MICROspikes fit the road shoes better.

I started off easy.  I ran over the ice with no problems.  It was amazing, as it was like there wasn't even ice there.  However, there was indeed a thick sheet of it.  There were some clear parts and plenty of rocks too.  Still, but trail standards, this trail is quite runnable.

The trail gradually gains elevation and is easy running for a bit.  Then, I got to the steep stair section.  This part is incredibly tough to run.  Since I was doing a few repeats, I didn't even try.  I hiked for a bit and then began running again.

I ran until my breathing got too heavy.  Then, I hiked some more.  I was disappointed because I was able to run the whole thing once in the humidity of the summer.  Now, I was hiking sections of this steep trail.  I guess I had some issues with breathing in the cold air.

I'm just glad that my mindset has changed and I have no problem hiking.  Eventually, I'll get to the point where I can run this a few times in a row.  I just have to be consistent and keep working at it. 

I believe I was running when I got to the AT shelter.  There was no one there.  I didn't see another person during this entire run.  Just the way I like it.  I turned around when I got to the powerline cut.  I was 12 minutes in and over .8 miles into the run.

I headed back down now.  That was so much nicer.  I took it easy and was fairly cautious.  I had good grip, but there was still ice on the trail.  I was very careful going down the steep stair section.  I ran until the icy part ended, near my car.

I turned right around and headed back up.  Again, I ran until the stair section.  Hiking those seemed so tough.  I was probably around 800 to 900 feet of elevation gain at that point.  I hiked a bit and then ran again, when the trail was less steep.

I don't recall quite which parts I ran and which ones I hiked.  I believe it was slightly different this time around.  When my breathing would get too labored, I'd hike until I would recover.  Before long, I was at the top.  Getting up this time had been a struggle.

Of course it feels so tough going up and so easy coming down.  By now, it was snowing.  That added some nice scenery.  I got back to the bottom fairly quickly.  I was quite consistent too, as I think I finished this second repeat up somewhere around 40 minutes.  Each repeat took around 20 minutes.

I didn't take a break after this one either.  I ran right back up again, until the stairs section.  I wish this part wasn't so early in the repeats.  Then again, once I conquer that part, the rest is easy by comparison, I just have to do that.

I was hurting some more as I hiked.  I noticed with the coating of snow, I was losing grip slightly.  It wasn't enough to be a problem.  It was just a slight loss of traction.  I continued to climb on.

I think I ran to the shelter and then hiked after that.  The shelter is nearly the top, so if I can ever get that far while still running, I can probably will my way up the rest of it.  In better conditions, I'm sure I can run more of it.  It will help to know where everything is.

At the top, my watch was close to 1800 feet of elevation gain.  I ran north along the powerline.  This provided a little elevation, plus a nice view to the north.  I got a bit more distance and also was able to add some easier running.

I then headed back down the hill.  The descent was slightly slippery, but I was still able to run okay.  Almost out of nowhere, I felt the urge to go to the bathroom.  I ran on down the hill.

It got worse, so I tried to stop running for a bit.  That helped a little, but not enough.  Normally it works, but not today.  I would've had a quarter mile hike back up to the privy.  I was over a quarter mile back down to my car too.  Plus, I would've had a lot of driving to get to a bathroom.

For the first time ever, I decided to use the woods.  That wasn't ideal on a snowy and cold day, but when you have to go, you have to go.  I'm sure it is the first of many times.  I had stopped my watch before that.  I then hiked back to my car, after I was done.

It was a productive run and a good day.  I need to start getting here more often to do repeats.  That would be a huge help to my climbing.  I need even more time, so that I can do 5 or 6 repeats, instead of just 3.  These could really help me, as I head into spring ultra season.  Maybe I'll set up group runs there as well.

Tomorrow, I'm not sure what I'm doing.  Traveling would be nice, but I don't know.  It may depend on the amounts of snow we get too.  If I have the time, I would like to get double digit miles.

4.91 miles - 1:03:29 (12:55 pace) 1693 feet of elevation gain

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Super Short Katellen Trail Run

I didn't have a run in me this afternoon.  That was too bad, since it was a perfect day.  Instead, I thought that I would try some repeats on the Katellen Trail after dark.  It is a side trail to the Appalachian Trail.  It is a short, but steep climb up the side of the mountain.

I headed there around 7 PM.  It was a good night for a run too, as it was right around the freezing mark, but there was no wind.  I wore a light weight long sleeve shirt and tights.  No headband, gloves or vest was needed.  I was even sweaty after a short bit.

I got fooled by the beginning of the trail.  My friend Ryan had told me that it wasn't icy, before the weekend's rain anyway.  The start of it was clear today, so I went with regular shoes. 

The trail certainly wasn't terrible, but it was icy in spots.  With a lot of climbing involved, that makes it hard enough in the day time.  At night and alone, I knew this could be a dangerous run.  I wasn't all that comfortable there either.

I ran on for a short distance, crunching on the ground and avoiding the ice as much as I could.  I nearly lost my footing on a steep uphill.  I climbed over the first step and didn't last much longer than that.  It was getting too steep and too icy.  I elected not to risk it and turned back around.

I cruised down the hill.  I had to be careful.  Luckily, it was less steep as I descended.  I got back to my car in no time.  I had only run 3/4 of a mile total.  I did still manage a 200 foot climb in that short period, so it wasn't a total waste.

I could've changed into my MICROspikes and run some more.  I would've likely done so in the daylight.  Since I wasn't too comfortable running there at night, I elected not to.  I figured it was better to just get more quality running done later in the week.  I do love running there and think I need to get some group repeat sessions there in the summer.

I'm not sure where I'll run tomorrow.  We are supposed to get an inch or two of snow.  That will likely dictate what I do.  I'd really love to get to the Delaware Water Gap.  If I do go, I'd need to have enough time for 3 Mt. Tammany loops though.  I'll decide when I know my work schedule and the weather conditions tomorrow.

.75 miles - 10:09 (13:29 pace) 203 feet of elevation gain

Monday, January 19, 2015

Sloppy Blue Marsh Run

It was a disappointing running weekend.  I did enjoy the icy time at the DWG, but it wasn't very productive.  Yesterday, it rained a lot.  I tried for an easy late afternoon run at Jacobsburg, but forgot my gloves and my hands were too cold.  Today, I made it out and I made up for the crappy weekend.

I'm running the Naked Bavarian 40 miler at Blue Marsh in early March.  I've run there a few times, including my first ultra, but I want to get some more training runs in there.  It is a two loop course and I'm hoping to eventually run one of the 20 mile loops in training.

It was cloudy and slightly breezy at the start.  However, the temperature was probably around 40 degrees.  Every other time I've been to Blue Marsh, it has been super hot and humid.  This was a nice change.  I wore a lightweight long sleeve shirt and shorts.  I had on gloves and headband to start, but took them off pretty early.  Most of the time, I felt good.

I went to Old Church Road.  I started later than I had hoped because I worked and the drive there was over an hour long.  I began after 3 PM.

I put on my MICROspikes because the trails looked snowy and icy.  They were in spots, but other spots were clear.  I ran through a lot of early ice and snow, as I headed to the main day use area.  I figured I'd go out about 3 or 4 miles in that direction.  I know going the other way is super easy, so I could finish in that direction.

I cruised along, making good time.  The first few miles flew by.  The first two miles were super easy.  Then, there were some uphills.  I even hiked one of them.  They were all runnable though.

The MICROspikes are heavy and they do seem to stress my legs more.  It makes the run more of a workout.  I moved along though.  I was happy to get out 2.5 miles.

I figured that I would run until the one bridge crossing.  I didn't want to run on the road.  That occurred right around mile 3.  It was nearly a perfect place to turn around.  I stopped for a few pictures along the way, but for the most part, I ran.  The lake was completely frozen, so that was cool.  The trail was mostly sloppy mud.

I ran up and down some of the moderate hills on the way back.  When I got to mile 5, I decided that I had enough of my MICROspikes.  They trail was clear enough to run without them.  Taking them off was amazing.  My feet felt so much lighter.  I didn't realize how much those weigh, until that point.  I carried them the rest of the way back to my car.

This part of the course is so fast.  Before I knew it, I was back to my car and past mile 6.  I wasn't even running for an hour yet either.  I dropped the MICROspikes off and headed the other way.

This direction is super flat.  There's very little elevation change.  Even in the sloppy and muddy conditions, I was able to run close to 9 minute miles and that was going easy too.  I brought along some Tailwind for this run to get some calories.  That did a pretty good job.

It wasn't long and I was out to mile 8.  I ran just past that and turned around.  I would've liked to have done 12 miles, but 10 miles was enough for today.  I was running out of daylight anyway.

This terrain was so non technical that I kind of lost myself.  At one point, I looked up and was surprised to be running uphill slightly.  I didn't think there were any hills.  This wasn't much of one, but it was still a hill.

I continued along the lake.  I finished up with mile 10, just before getting back to the road crossing.  It was a speedy trail run.  I was happy with my day.  Next time, I'll hit the more challenging parts of the course.

It was a solid outing and a good way to begin my week of running.  Tomorrow, I will have to do some more elevation.  I keep meaning to try repeat climbs.  Maybe I'll do that, but stay local.  Maybe I can run up steep stuff with my MICROspikes.

10 miles - 1:33:35 (9:21 pace) 750 feet of elevation gain

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Icy Delaware Water Gap Loop

I was struggling with where to run today.  It got into the afternoon and I still had no concrete plans.  Ryan and I were talking about going to the Delaware Water Gap next weekend and I said we should just go now.  He had never been there.  He drove and we planned to do the Mt. Tammany loop.

It was kind of warm compared to some days lately.  It was in the 20s, but there was no wind.  I had on my fleece vest over a lightweight long sleeve shirt.  I went with tights and had a headband and gloves too.  It worked out good.

I was surprised to see so many cars in the parking lot.  It is a popular place to hike, but I figured there wouldn't be that many people on a cold winter day.  I also mistakenly thought that perhaps the trails were in better shape than I originally thought.

I hoped that the warmer weather would melt a lot of the ice.  I still expected some, but not a lot.  Was I ever wrong?  It was clear at the start, but once we got into the rocky stuff, it was icy everywhere.  Apparently Janine and her husband finished up when we started.

We were able to run the beginning and I was feeling pretty good.  I was running better than I usually do on the first technical, semi rocky part.  However, it was already too icy.  I had no choice but to start hiking.  That was very frustrating.

Hiking the ice covered rocks was both fun and dangerous.  I went along as a pretty good pace.  Ryan was more cautious.  He dropped behind a bit.  I was in no hurry, so I waited after some of the climbs.

I was happy to find some clear trail and then I began running.  We passed a few hikers and a guy taking pictures at the first lookout.  I ran past there, since the trail was actually runnable at this point.  However, that wouldn't last long.

I did run some semi icy and semi technical uphill terrain.  Then, we got to the boulder field climb.  That part was straight up crazy.  The first small boulder section wasn't bad, but the main one was unbelievable.  This ascent is hard enough to do in the summer and with clear conditions.  It was downright stupid and dangerous to be going up the ice covered rocks.

I made my way along.  Again, Ryan was more cautious and fell behind.  I was going up this stuff like a mountain goat.  The main trail and rocks were a sheet of ice.  I did find that it was snowy and had a lot more grip just off to the side.  I used that.

As I was going up, a guy was going down.  I couldn't imagine going down that stuff.  Ascending was hard enough.  I asked him if he came up that way or the Blue Trail.  He didn't even know of the Blue Trail.  I had been wondering about the Blue Trail.  It was easier on that one, but I know it doesn't get as much sun as the Red Dot Trail and Red Dot was icy.

I didn't have too many scares on this tough terrain.  That was amazing, since the rocks were even glazed in ice.  It was often difficult to grab them to get a grip.  I waited after the boulder for Ryan.  I saw him way down at the bottom.  He had on a bright green jacket, so he was easy to spot.

After a few minutes, I couldn't see Ryan.  I decided to go back down.  If I was going to wait, why not go down and come back up?  Then, I'd get more elevation gain.  As I got to the bottom, I couldn't find Ryan.  I suspected he thought it was too dangerous and turned back around.  I headed back up.

I got up the boulder scramble fairly quickly and then sent Ryan a text to let him know I was finishing the loop.  I found out that he was already at the top.  Turns out he didn't turn and follow the trail up the rock scramble.  He made his own trail.  Now, I had to move quicker.

I got to the top main lookout and still couldn't find Ryan.  He thought he was near me, but it turned out he came out near the Mt. Tammany Fire Road and Blue Trail intersection.  I slipped on some ice at the top, while waiting for him.  It was an easy, non technical section.  It hurt like crazy.  My arm broke my fall and my thumb was jammed on a rock.  I was in a lot of pain initially.  It wore off though.

Finally, Ryan and I caught up.  We headed on the Blue Trail along the ridge.  Then, we started the rocky descent.  Much as I suspected, there was even more ice on the Blue Trail.  We had to hike down the sides of the trail in the beginning.  There was snow on those parts.

After a bit of hiking, the trail sort of became runnable.  I'm a little more careless.  I am also more used to running on technical terrain and ice.  Therefore, I pulled ahead of Ryan a bit.  It was mostly slow running down, but some sections still required hiking.  I couldn't open it up much.  I do feel like I'm good at changes gears as the terrain goes from less technical to more technical and back.  I'm definitely improving as a trail runner.

The last steep section of the Blue Trail was very icy.  I was wondering the whole time how much better MICROspikes would make things.  Maybe I'll find out in the future.  I fell again on another easy part.  There is a waterfall at the bottom and most of it was frozen.  The middle still had some water running down it though.  That was really cool.

After the waterfall, we got on to the Appalachian Trail.  We were now moving okay and nearly done.  However, we had already lost a lot of time.  It was going on 2 hours and we were only over 4 miles.  We passed a few hikers on this section and coming down the Blue Trail too.

Finally, we were back to the car and finished up.  It was a very slow run/hike, but we survived.  I'm eager to come back there with MICROspikes and see if I can run more.  I was glad to show Ryan around too.  Hopefully next time there, the weather will be better.

I'm not sure where I will run tomorrow.  I'd really like to log some good mileage.  We are supposed to get freezing rain and then changing over to rain later in the afternoon.  I think it may be dry to the north, so perhaps I'll give that a try.  I was also thinking about maybe heading to the Palisades Cliffs, near New York City.

4.59 miles - 1:55:45 (25:12 pace) 1460 feet of elevation gain

Friday, January 16, 2015

Jenny Jump State Forest

Yesterday, I was a slacker.  I didn't run or do anything at all.  I had to run today.  Figuring out where to go was another story.

I didn't work, so I headed out early in the afternoon.  I planned on going to the AT, about an hour and a half away in New Jersey.  Before I got into NJ, I hit a big snowstorm.  I didn't want to get trapped by the snow, so I started to head to the nearby part of the AT.  As I headed north, it cleared and was sunny again.  It was just a band of snow.  I decided to go into New Jersey, but not as far as originally planned.

I went to the Jenny Jump State Forest, just off of Route 80.  I was glad there were signs because I didn't know how to find it.  I was also glad that they had an office with a park map.  I had no idea where I was.

I parked near the office and ran the main train, The Jenny Jump Trail.  It started across from the main office.  The trail goes 6 miles, but I planned to only run 3 miles each way.  It was blue blazed and easy to follow in the beginning.

I wore a light weight long sleeve shirt with my fleece vest.  I had gloves and a headband.  I also wore tights.  It was kind of warm, over the freezing mark, but also quite windy.  The sun was setting too.

The trail was a blast in the first mile.  It was a fun singletrack.  There were some neat, old stone walls.  There was a little up and down, but not too much.

There were a couple views that I had to run to.  They had views of the DWG and the ridge that the AT runs along.  The first one kind of sucked, as it was blocked some by the trees.  It's probably not much of a view in the summer.  The second one wasn't great, but it was a little more open.

The trail was covered in a layer of snow.  It was mostly crunchy snow.  At times, the trail was a bit icy, but I had no trouble.  I ran without my MICROspikes and it worked out just fine.

The climb to the views was slightly tough in the snow.  I was able to run it though.  After some of the views, the trail got to be a mess.  It was overgrown a bit with sticker bushes.  Sometimes finding the trail was even tough.  It was disappointing. 

I wanted to run out to 3 miles, but I wasn't enjoying the trail conditions and I figured it might get worse.  The trail started going downhill too and I didn't want to do that.  I turned around early at 2.25 miles.

Going back wasn't bad and it was more downhill.  This trail was nice to run on for almost two miles.  It would've been better if it was longer and more clear.  Near the end, I saw a split in the trail.  I took the white trail, instead of the blue.  It went around a frozen pond and added some distance to the run.

I went out to the road and headed back.  This worked out well.  I got back to my car at mile 5.  I could've stopped there, but I wanted some more.  I parked across from the Orchard Trail.

I ran on the Orchard Trail.  That was through a nice pine forest at first.  Then, it went behind some houses and had a good view of the mountains.  I saw some turkeys and tried to take a photo, but it didn't come out so well.  Around 5.5 miles, I turned and headed back.  I finished up with 6 miles.

This was an okay run for a Friday.  I was just disappointed that the trail isn't more well maintained.  It is the main forest trail.  They have camping and a park office.  I would've figured that they would do more to maintain it.  It does make me appreciate well maintained trails.

Tomorrow, I'm hoping for a real quality run.  I'd love to run 2 of the 10 mile loops at Trexler.  I'm hopeful that some of our warmer weather made it less icy.  I'll give at least one loop a go regardless.

6 miles - 1:11:08 (11:51 pace) 734 feet of elevation gain

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Lehigh Gap with MICROspikes

Monday was a planned day off and that was good with freezing rain and rain throughout the day.  Yesterday, I headed to Wind Gap to run repeats on the AT.  To my surprise, the trail was completely covered in ice.  I could barely even walk on it.  I had my MICROspikes, but wasn't prepared to use them, so I went home frustrated.  I just didn't run.

No matter what, I had to run today.  Since I've never used my MICROspikes, I wanted to start off with a kind of flat trail.  I drove up Blue Mountain Road to run the AT.  However, the parking lot was so icy that I couldn't make it up the hill with my car.  I had to change my plans.

I went to the Lehigh Gap Nature Center.  This route would include a crazy, technical climb, so it wasn't ideal.  I figured that perhaps I wouldn't run the 7 miles that I originally planned.  I got going on the LNE Trail at 3 PM.

The weather was cold.  It was in the 20s, but at least there wasn't much wind.  This area can get very windy.  I wore my thick gloves and headband.  I had on a ColdGear top, fleece vest and my tights.  This worked out great.  The headband came off during some climbing, but most of the time I was wearing everything and comfortable.

The beginning short climb of the LNE is rocky singletrack.  It was slippery.  There's great views of the Lehigh River.  That was interesting today, because the river is blocked completely by ice.

After the climb, the LNE becomes a smooth rail trail.  I wasn't sure what to think about running on this with my MICROspikes.  I don't want them to wear down on normal surfaces.  I tried to go off to the side and run in the snow, since the trail was clear.

I then got to the Prairie Grass Trail.  This is a climb up the exposed side of the mountain.  It is a bit rocky and pretty steep.  I ran for quite awhile, but after a few hundred feet up, I had to begin hiking.  My feet weren't used to the MICROspikes and were getting sore too. 

I continued along.  I went from the Prairie Grass Trail to the Charcoal Trail.  This trail continues up the mountainside.  There was more snow and ice, as I climbed to higher elevations.  I alternated hiking and running.  I wasn't doing too bad.  I saw some prints along the trail that looked like they were from a turkey.  I didn't really see any human tracks up there.

I got more and more confident with my MICROspikes as I climbed more icy and snowy terrain.  They gripped great and I ran perfectly.  Before I knew it, I was at the top.  I went down to Devil's Puplit and took a cool photo of the other side of the mountain and the switchbacking Winter Trail.

I then ran along.  There was still gradual uphill, but I was mostly at the top.  I wasn't sure if I wanted to keep going, but with most of the climbing out of the way, I headed to the North Trail.  I was probably around 2.5 miles at this point.

The North Trail starts in the woods and then becomes a fun singletrack along the ridge.  Without MICROspikes, it would've been dangerous.  It was very icy.  With them, it was like running in summer.  I flew along the top, enjoying the view and having fun.  I was having so much fun in fact that even after 3.5 miles, I kept going.  I love winter running and this place is so unique.

I did have to duck around some trees and avoid a few frozen overgrown sticker bushes.  It was a blast though.  I turned around right in front of the first communication tower.  That was at mile 4.11.

I knew heading back and running mostly downhill would be a blast and it was.  The ridge running was fun and I danced over rocks like they weren't even there.  Before I knew it, I was back to the Charcoal Trail. 

I flew down both the Charcoal Trail and Prairie Grass Trail.  It almost seemed easier than running in the summer.  With the MICROspikes, I noticed that it was hard to even twist my ankle on the uneven, rocky terrain.  They gripped so well and they blew away my expectations.

I did slow a bit on the boulder field parts, but for the most part, I was able to run those too.  I had so much fun descending.  I only had to worry about tripping on the rocks.  I nearly did that once.  With less snow at the bottom, I was closer to twisting my ankle too.

When I got back on the LNE, I had about a mile left to hit mile 8.  I decided that since this was clear, I'd take off my MICROspikes.  I was more careful at the end, when I got to some icy spots.  I slipped slightly, but overall it wasn't bad.  I turned around and did a slight uphill for a short bit to get my elevation gain over 1500 feet.  I was nearly at my car when I got to mile 8 and finished up.

This was an awesome run and why I love winter running so much.  The scenery was so unique.  I may come back here again in winter, now that I know I can run on the snow and ice.  It was a blast.  These MICROspikes exceeded my expectations.

I still hate to travel anywhere and find out it isn't very runnable, but maybe I'll consider a trip tomorrow.  If I stay close, I may try my repeats at Wind Gap again.  This time, they should work with my MICROspikes.  I guess I should've used those yesterday.  Tomorrow should be a productive day regardless

8:01 miles - 1:37:38 (12:12 pace) 1501 feet of elevation gain

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Overdressed in Winter

It was off to Trexler for another weekend run today.  I didn't get started until after lunch.  The plan was to run 2 loops, for 20 miles total.  That would've been the most running I've ever done there.

When I arrived, Sue and Diana were there, heading out.  We chatted for a bit.  I had to go to the bathroom.  I also changed and they were probably 20 minutes ahead of me when I finally started.

I was very unsure of what to wear.  It was in the mid 20s, but there was no wind.  It felt much better than yesterday.  I opted for a light weight long sleeve shirt under my jacket.  I added tights and started with gloves on and a headband.  I would pay for my choice of attire later.

Right as I was about to start, two horses came up the trail.  I asked the riders if I could jump in front of them, so that I didn't have to pass them and they allowed me to.  I took off running.  So much for my planned easy start.  I needed to stay in front of the horses.  I did hike the big early hill and the riders were nowhere in sight.  That was a relief.

Once I was down from the highest elevation, I began to get warm.  I took off my headband and gloves.  I was still sweating though.  I cruised along, running most of this beginning stretch.  I did hike the beginning of the long hill, but I ran most of it after that.

I came across a horse coming the other direction.  It seemed a little edgy, but overall it wasn't a problem.  I thought I saw Diana and Sue, but it turned out to just be two hikers.  There was a thin layer of snow on the ground, but it was packed down.  The trail was very runnable.

Along this top and open part, I began to get cold again.  It was windy, so I put my headband back on.  Before long, I was out of that section.

I was now on the backside and down in the valley more.  I had several hills to hike.  The loose rocks, combined with the snow, made even hiking a challenge.  I battled on though.

I was able to hike the big hill, but it took its toll.  I was sweating like crazy now and knew that I was in trouble.  I was only around mile 4, but I clearly was overdressed.  I brought enough water for if I was comfortably dressed, but not enough for this situation.  I had to wipe a lot of sweat from my forehead.

I went across the other trails for the 10 mile loop.  I hiked some parts of this climb and ran others.  Coming down the white trail was kind of fun.  Then, I ran into an issue.  The small stream that feeds into the Jordan Creek was flowing well and pretty wide at the crossing.  Next to it, it was ice, but water was flowing under it.  I figured I'd either have to run across the cold water quickly or hope the ice held.  Either way, I figured I would probably get wet.

I paused for a moment and then grabbed a branch in the water and stood on the ice.  To my amazement, it held up and I walked across.  I was dry and happy as I headed up the Elk Trail.  There was a guy having his lunch next to the trail.

I hiked a lot of the uphill.  By this point, I was sweating a lot, but not as bad as before.  I had not given up yet on doing two loops, but I figured that it was unlikely.  Every time I got confident that I could do more, I ended up getting crushed mentally by the challenge of a steep hill.  I knew most of the hard running in this loop was behind me though.

I cruised down the ridge, toward the zoo.  I didn't feel good and thought I had to go to the bathroom.  Luckily, this didn't last.  I even ended up walking some of the stone, easy trail.  I ate some chips, hoping that I could bounce back.  It wasn't happening though.

I hiked the hills, but as at least I was able to run a lot.  I saw the two horses again, as well as the solo horse.  I also came across a bunch of hikers.  I was in survival mode.  I never did catch Sue and Diana, but somehow I leapfrogged them.

I wasn't too bad until about mile 8.  Then, I felt like I hit the wall.  It felt like mile 18 often does during a run, rather than mile 8.  I hiked the last really big climb.  I ran some more after that.  I was so dead.  This is how I often feel at Trexler when the summer heat and humidity pound on me.  I was so defeated.

I still could run, but was slower now.  I even ended up hiking some parts that I normally run.  When I got to the singletrack by KidsPeace, I saw some guys off of the trail.  Then, some barking hounds crossed the trail.  The three of them were tracking dogs I guess and were on a scent.  They couldn't be bothered at all by me.  We both went about our business.

Eventually, I came to last short climb.  I hiked that and ran the rest of the way in.  I was so depleted though.  I had food and more water at the


car and probably could've bounced back a little, but I opted instead to just call it a day.  My goal for the day wasn't to suffer and I had a quality 10 miles in the books.

Not finishing 2 loops did eat at me.  I definitely have to go back for more.  I'm resting tomorrow and the weather looks crappy anyway.  Maybe on Tuesday, I'll shoot for 20 miles again there.  If nothing else, I'll be running that day.  I'm just not 100% sure where at.

10 miles - 1:54:33 (11:27 pace) 2,1046 feet of elevation gain

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Switchback Gravity Railroad Winter Run

I knew I had to get out and run to start the weekend.  I knew it would be a cold day too, but I needed to be tough.  I didn't want to travel much, so I decided to head up to Jim Thorpe.  I haven't run there in a few months.  I'm slowly getting to know the trails up there.  I have some maps and I'm gradually figuring them out, piece by piece.  There are miles and miles of trails in the area.

One of the reasons that I opted to run there was because I didn't want too much elevation on this bitter cold day.  I wanted mileage though.  The weather was already in the teens when I started, around mid afternoon.  There was some wind too, but it wasn't crazy wind, like we have seen lately.

I wore my ColdGear top and vest.  I also had on tights, thick gloves and a headband.  I was a bit chilled from time to time, but overall I was comfortable.  I don't mind this time of year at all, as long as it isn't super windy.

My plan for the day was to run the Switchback Gravity Railroad.  Last year, I started at Mauch Chunk Lake Park and lost the trail after a couple miles.  I now know how to take the route.  This time, I was going the opposite way anyway.

The trail is an old railroad that used gravity to transport coal between Summit Hill and Jim Thorpe.  Now, it is open for recreation.  I crossed the road from the park and was on my way.  I saw a steep trail that I assumed might connect to where I was heading.  I continued on along the railroad grade though.  I ran in front of a few houses.

There is an intersection about a mile out.  I had the option to go out to Summit Hill or back toward Jim Thorpe.  This time, I was going to Jim Thorpe.  The trail was covered in a light snow.

I ran up the gradual incline.  It was like running on a rail trail, with a slight incline.  I knew this part was about 4.5 miles long.  My trail shoes worked well on this amount of snow.  I would've liked to have tried on my Microspikes, but I figured I might end up doing a bit of road running later on.

The trail wasn't bad, but in general, I found it rather boring.  It was a long, gradual climb that seemed neverending.  On the plus side, it was easy, fast and runnable.  I was clicking off miles.

As I got higher up, I could see pretty well through the trees.  I could see Mauch Chunk Lake and the ridge of Flagstaff Mountain.  That was neat.  There were a few large boulders along the trail, but not much else to look at.  In the beginning, there were no tracks, but farther out I saw some footprints.  There were animal prints in the snow all through out.

At one point, I noticed that the trail split.  I stayed on the higher path, wondering where the lower one went.  I quickly found out, as I came to a cliff type section.  I had read about this part, but didn't realize that I would come to it so soon.  Although the cliff looked slightly dangerous and there was a safer route below, I opted for the cliff.  This part did slow me down.

I was back on my way though and getting closer to Mt. Pisgah.  I was about a mile out from it now.  There were a couple interesting side trails up the mountain.  I might try them in the future, but I didn't want to waste a lot of time exploring today.

Eventually, I came to the top of Mt. Pisgah.  I found the lookout to the north and got some stunning pictures.  There were a few decent views to the south at the top of the incline plane too.  Going downhill was steep and rocky.

It turns out I actually took Wagon Wheel Road to the bottom, not the actual inclined plane.  I wasn't sure though and I had followed snowmobile tracks.  I couldn't believe that a snowmobile made it up those rocks, but I guess someone did.  I saw no people during this entire first half of the run.

I didn't study the maps beforehand.  I knew my way back on the roads, if I had to use that route.  I should've looked at the directions closer.  I ended up running down the roads for about 2 miles.  It was awful.  There was a couple uphill segments.  I was also getting beat by the wind.

I nearly missed a turn to get back on to the trail.  Luckily, I found a parking area and signs for the trails.  I followed them through an awesome section of woods.  This was beautiful and felt much warmer too.  I was very happy to be off the road.  I went over a bridge above a small creek.

Eventually, I came to the Switchback Trail.  I was thrilled that I now knew exactly where I was at.  This section was very flat, much like a rail trail.  I cruised along.

I was happy to come out to Mauch Chunk Lake.  I took some cool photos of the frozen lake.  I continued on.  I was amazed to see that I would actually finish up at 11 miles.  That was what I originally planned, but with some of the turns, I was expecting it to be longer.  I finished up near the park entrance, with a short out and back.  The run was a little under 2 hours.

It was a great day and some good exploring.  I battled the weather again and made it through.  I'm getting to know Jim Thorpe little by little.  I think eventually, I'll be able to make a giant ultra run along the perimeter of all of the area's trails.  That would be epic for sure.

Tomorrow, I'm hoping to run again.  I'd love to go to Trexler and run two of the 10 mile loops.  That may be tough though.  It is supposed to be a bit warmer out, I believe.  That would be nice for sure.

11 miles - 1:51:19 (10:07) 1,096 feet of elevation gain

Friday, January 9, 2015

First AT Run at Route 309

It was another tough day for a run.  For some time, this winter was warm.  Lately, it has been brutal, particularly the wind.  Today, it was in the mid 20s, but the wind was over 20 MPH.  I almost didn't run, but I saw it would be worse on Saturday.

I bundled up and was out the door by mid afternoon.  I wore a ColdGear top and fleece vest.  I also had on tights, wind underwear and shorts to keep me rather warm.  I used my compression socks too.  I wore my thicker gloves and headband.  For the most part, it worked well.  At some points, I was a bit hot and others a bit chilly, but overall, not too bad.

I decided to head out to Route 309 and try a new section of the AT.  It is a bit far for me, but still not too far.  It took about 45 minutes to get there.  I wanted to start here because the route began on the top of the mountain.  With all the snow on the ground, I wasn't looking for much elevation gain.  That plan seemed to work out well.

I parked in the lot and initially had some trouble finding the trail.  There were a few woods roads around, but they weren't blazed.  I went out to the road and found the AT sign and followed it.  That didn't quite work either.  It was a trail, but it wasn't blazed and definitely wasn't the Appalachian Trail.

I backtracked a bit and realized that I had missed the turn.  It was singletrack for a bit, but then turned into a woods road.  There were some rocks, but it was very runnable.  It was weird to see some bushes with leaves along the ground.  That kept the wind out though.

After over a mile, I thought I lost the trail again.  It turns out it was just some time between the blazes.  I continued along.  I came to a fire ring and lookout.  I stopped for a photo.  The views of the snow covered farmlands to the south were amazing.

I continued on and came to a powerline.  I was still cruising, but that wouldn't last very long.  It got rocky somewhere around mile 2.  I suspected this area would be rocky.  Eventually, the trail was no longer runnable, with all the snow and rocks.  I came to the Knife Edge.  That is a cool rock outcrop with a view.  There were a lot of rocks and I stopped for a few photos.  I didn't want to get too close to the edge though.

Luckily, the trail went around this area, so I could keep going.  There was a short stretch that was runnable again, but that didn't last long.  I was back to hiking in no time.  I had hoped that maybe I could get out to Bake Oven Knob, but that would've been a full 5 miles each way, so I knew it would be tough.

I decided to write "AT Run" on a snowy rock, with my finger.  I continued on, hiking a lot of the rocky terrain.  This time, I came to Bear Rocks.  Unlike the last rock outcrop section, the trail passed directly through these rocks.  It was a bit tricky getting up them, but I wanted a view.

I did manage to get pretty high up.  However, there was a steep dropoff and I didn't need to go any higher.  It wasn't super dangerous, but being alone, it wasn't worth the risk.  My watch was nearing 4 miles anyway.  That was good enough for me.  After a few photos, I turned around and headed back.

I knew going down could be a little tricky, on the snow covered boulders.  I tried to retrace my original footprints.  There had only been one set of tracks in the snow at that point, so it was easy to follow mine.  I banged my left shin on the side of a rock and it stung a bit.

I got over the boulders and the real problem occurred after that.  I was hiking along, because it was still rocky.  Again, I slipped and bashed the same shin against another rock.  However, this time it was very painful.  I had to limp around for a bit.

After about half a mile of hiking and limping, I decided to run.  The trail was smoother now.  I wasn't running fast and it was still hurting, but at least I was moving better.  I continued on my way back.

I was surprised when I got back to Knife Edge.  I came across a hiker going the other way.  It must've been the guy that pulled in next to me earlier.  It was nice to see someone else out there, even if briefly.

I was hiking when I passed that guy, but the trail got smooth again not long after that.  I ran along.  A lot of this was now slightly downhill.  I was surprised at how soft the trail was.  It was hard to get a good grip.

I had to stop for a bathroom break, but other than that, I was able to run most of the rest of the way.  I took a woods road instead of the AT at the very end.  At the parking lot, I still needed half a mile to get to mile 7. 

I crossed the road and went to the AT on the other side of 309.  There was some downhill and the trail was along the ridge.  I was hoping to get a view there, but that didn't happen.  I ran out for a bit and then stopped at mile 7 and hiked the short distance back.  My shin was feeling better, but still sore.

It was a nice and productive run.  The snow covered trail views were spectacular.  I'll have to come back there during nicer weather.  Maybe then I can continue over Bear Rocks.  I'd like to get all the way to Bake Oven Knob.

I feel pretty good now, so I'll likely run again tomorrow.  However, the weather could be a factor.  I'd love to run for 20 miles, but that's probably not a good idea in the bitter cold.  I probably shouldn't be out there for more than 2 hours.  I have no idea where I'll go.

7 miles - 1:46:02 (15:08 pace)  628 feet of elevation gain