Saturday, February 28, 2015

Sunrise Mountain Winter Run

This week has been brutal.  Monday was the only day that I ran.  I didn't want to run anywhere until I went somewhere new.  I had to work late most days and didn't have time for the run I wanted to do.  I ended up just taking off until today.

Since it was Saturday, I could finally have enough time to travel for my run.  I went to Culver's Gap in New Jersey.  The AT goes there to an overlook point on the top of Sunrise Mountain.  I figured it would be over 5 miles to get out there.

It was still only about 25 degrees.  However, that felt quite warm without much wind.  I went with a lightweight long sleeve shirt under my fleece vest.  Sometimes I was chilled, other times hot and other times good.  I rarely wore my gloves or headband.  I had on tights.

I thought this would be a good place to go, because I thought it would be popular.  It turns out I was wrong.  I found the parking area and debated whether or not I even wanted to run.  There were several snowmobile trailers in the parking lot.  I didn't want to have to try to avoid those.  Plus, I didn't care to breathe their fumes or hear them.

I didn't have many options, so I picked up a map.  I found the AT on the map, but couldn't find it as I walked around.  It kind of looked like it was up the road, so I ran there.  I had to turn back and go toward the parking lot.

I saw an AT sign on the one tree.  However, I still couldn't find the white blazes.  That was frustrating.  Sunrise Mountain Road is a forest road that was gated.  It was snow covered and full of snowmobile tracks.  I didn't want to run on it, but it appeared to be my only option at that point.

I started off on it and a short while later, I found the turn off of the AT.  It looked promising, as there was a wide track.  It headed uphill.  Unfortunately, the path turned into just a set or two of tracks.  I figured that this might be a mess trying to run 5 miles through this.  It may not even go all the way out and I'd basically be breaking trail.

Rather than chance it, I went back down to Sunrise Mountain Road.  This also lead to the overlook, so I decided to take it.  I didn't like the idea of running on a forest road, but at least the snowmobiles had packed down the snow.

I got going.  I ran for a bit and then hiked some too.  It wasn't too steep, but it was a gradual climb.  There were some rolling hills, but it was mostly uphill on the way out.  At least with the packed snow, the miles would go by quickly. 

Still, I wasn't having fun.  I was careful with where to run.  I wanted to stay out of the way of any snowmobiles.  Even though the snow was packed, at times it was tough to get grip.  There was definitely still a lot of resistance.

I was able to run most of the way.  However, I still hiked here and there.  I was just happy to see no snowmobiles.  There were plenty of tracks and it was a wide road.  There were a couple trails that crossed this road.  Snowmobiles had gone on those.

A few miles out was one of the best parts of the run.  The road went along and open ridge.  There were outstanding views to the west.  I was able to see the High Point Monument in the distance to the north.  Even though I wasn't enjoying this snow covered road much, I enjoyed the scenery.

I was happy to be making good time.  At one point, I passed a trail and had considered going on it to the Appalachian Trail.  It was packed down by the snowmobiles.  I was glad I didn't go there, because shortly after I passed it, there were two snowmobiles coming down them.

I continued on and was to the road split.  I took the top road to the Sunrise Mountain parking area.  Within the next mile, I got to the parking area.  There was an easterly view in the parking lot.

I took the AT to the Sunrise Mountain overlook.  Snowmobiles had even made tracks there.  I got to the view

and it was kind of cool and kind of disappointing.  There's a pavilion on top of the mountain.  You can see far to both the east and west.  However, some trees were blocking the view.  It wasn't as incredible as I thought it would be.

I was considering going back on the AT.  However, there was no trail broken there.  That made me happy that I decided to take the road out, rather than the AT.  I guess no one hikes this part in winter.

I was happy to be heading back.  I was over 5 miles, as I went downhill.  I thought this would be fast and fun, but there was a little more uphill that I was expecting.  Still, I was able to basically run the whole way back.  It was of course mostly downhill.  I even ran one mile at just under 9 miles.

These miles kind of went by quick.  I was bored though.  I thought this run might take 3 hours on the AT, but this way was going by quickly.  I was done pretty quickly, near mile 11.

This run wasn't quite what I was hoping, but it worked out okay.  It was a much needed run.  I guess the lesson here is not to run new places in the winter.  I need to stick with frequently hiked places.  I thought this would be used more.  This might be a decent place to go in the summertime, when I can run on the AT.

I'm going to run again tomorrow.  This time, I'll likely stick to what I know.  A few guys are running loops at Mt. Tammany.  I don't know if I'll make it there in the morning, but hopefully I'll see them at some point.  I'll try to go around lunch time.  It is supposed to be a bit warm tomorrow.

 10.75 miles - 1:56:48 (10:52 pace) 1154 feet of elevation gain

Monday, February 23, 2015

Becoming a Mt. Tammany Regular

Yesterday had nice weather.  It was warm.  However, I didn't get to the Ugly Mudder, because I didn't want to dig my car out from Saturday's snow.  I didn't end up running at all in fact.

After an off day, I had to get back out there today.  I decided to head to Mt. Tammany again.  It is a bit of a drive, but so tough and well used that it is becoming a regular winter running place.  I started late in the afternoon.  I was cutting it close, but hoping for 2 loops.  I knew that would take me about an hour and forty minutes.

It was just another cold day.  It was in the teens again and pretty windy.  Amazingly, I'm getting very used to it.  I had on a ColdGear top with my fleece vest.  One layer of tights plus shorts was enough on the bottom.  It was cold on Saturday on the ridge, so I went with a full face mask today.  I was sweaty, but pretty comfortable throughout.

One thing I like about running here during the week is that there are few people.  Two young people came hiking down as I was getting ready to run.  I couldn't believe the guy hiked in sneakers.  When I saw the trail conditions, I really couldn't believe it.  I saw no one on the trail while I was actually running.

I began by running the short hill at the start and then the flat part.  I knew I'd have to hike the first steep section.  I was surprised at how icy it was.  The snow had melted and refroze.  It was right in the sun.  I was very glad I had MICROspikes with me.  Even they lost a little grip at times.

My calves felt incredibly tight.  I was so surprised.  I wasn't sure if they weren't ready, if the trail conditions were tougher or I had not recovered well enough from Saturday's run here.  I had to stop quite a few times.

Someone knocked the head off the snowman on the first overlook.  That was disappointing.  It was a nice day up there.  Between my legs and my back bothering, I was hiking almost all of the uphills.

I hiked up the steep rocky section.  One part was so steep and icy that I had to grab the solid snow next to the trail.  I made it up though.  I did stop to rest my legs and back a few times.

I ran some of the brief flats and then hiked the rest of the way up.  This was slower than on Saturday.  It was good to get to the top.  I took a photo, but didn't stay long, as it was cold.

I was thrilled to find little wind on the Blue Trail ridge section.  I guess the wind was coming from a different direction than on Saturday.  The problem was that there were few prints to follow through the drifts.  I had to hike here too.

I then headed downhill on the Blue Trail.  It was fun descending.  The footing was uneven, so that was a bit tough.  I was slower than the other day.  I was kind of relaxed and enjoying the downhill.  Before I knew it, I was back at the parking lot.  It was a little slow at over 50 minutes for the first loop.

I refueled briefly and headed back up.  I wasn't sure how my calves would be able to handle this one.  Therefore, I wasn't sure if I'd do the whole loop.  On the first steep section, I knew my calves were better.  They were no longer tight, so that was a huge plus.

I continued to hike and run, much like the first time.  I'm finally comfortable with knowing the whole layout of the trail.  It was great to get to the very steep section, although I knew it will be tough.

I hiked up this part.  My back bothered me a little, but it wasn't as bad as the first loop.  I didn't have to stop nearly as much.  I didn't look up too often, because I didn't really want to know how much was left.

When I thought I was near the top, I began running the moderate uphill.  I forgot that there was a downhill first and then another uphill.  Still, it was all runnable.  I think I hiked it the first time around.  I took another photo of the summit.  It was cool with the sun setting.  It was great to hit the top again.

Now, I knew it was all downhill fun after the relatively flat ridge.  I knew I was moving faster this time.  I do like going down the Blue Trail.  The only thing I don't care for is that it almost all looks the same to me.  I sort of don't know different parts of it all that well.  There isn't much in the way of distinct features.  No different rocks and no views, especially with the trail snow covered.

I was down to the bottom in no time.  I then ran back on the AT.  Running along Dunnefield Creek through the Holler was just beautiful.  I got back to the parking lot near mile 7.  I looped the parking lot until I went over that point.

It was a good, productive way to start the week.  I was quite happy.  I got two more summits of Mt. Tammany.  I decided as I was running that I want to try to summit it 100 times this year.  I'm a bit behind, but I've done it 6 times in the last week.  If I start doing 4 or 5 at a time on weekends, that will be a big help.  Hopefully I won't get sick of it.  I love that the loops are less than 4 miles.  It breaks them down.

Tomorrow, I'm hoping to run again.  My car wouldn't start today, so we'll see.  I hope it does start and I can go somewhere.  It would likely be at Lehigh Gap.  I hope for another solid week.  Maybe at some point this snow will actually melt and open up more places.

7.02 miles - 1:42:31 (14:37 pace) 2437 feet of elevation gain
Mt. Tammany Summits #7 and #8 of 2015

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Winter Mt. Tammany Triple Loop

Today it was going to be a tough day.  I planned to run loops at Mt. Tammany.  I had never done more than two, although I did more elevation at the DWG Fatt Ass in the fall.  I wanted to run at least three loops, maybe four.

Ryan and I headed there for the run/hike.  It was late in the morning when we got started.  Ryan said he was only planning one loop, but I figured I could talk him into more.

Dressing was tricky today.  It was still in the teens when we started, but it was supposed to get into the 20s later.  It was also supposed to snow toward the end of the run.  I didn't want to mess around, so I went with ColdGear and a fleece vest on top.  On the bottom was tights and shorts.  My gloves and headband were on and off as usual.  Some parts of the run, with no wind, were warm.  The windy parts were quite cold.  So goes winter mountain running.

Since I was doing more than Ryan, I let him set the pace.  He doesn't like that, but it keeps me in check.  It took me a couple minutes to get my GPS to get a signal.  I fell behind and had to do a bit of work to catch up. 

I passed a family that was hiking.  The trail was in great shape, but on a Saturday, I knew there would be a lot of hikers.  Even in the winter they are out.  They were courteous and often moved out of the way for us.  Those that saw us several times probably thought we were crazy.

I was exhausted from catching Ryan.  As usual, my back was hurting too.  I had Ryan take a picture of me with a snowman that someone made on the one overlook.  It was clear and there was a nice view of Mt. Minsi.  It wouldn't last though.

We ran here and there, but really it was just mostly a hike.  We were passing some hikers while hiking.  I love this type of terrain.  Up and up we went.  We stopped at the main overlook and had a great view of Mt. Minsi.  A few hikers up there had cameras.  We were then on our way.

The ridge was a little windy, but not too bad as we headed to the Blue Trail.  We knew this would be a fun and fast downhill.  After going by more hikers, we were ready to descend.

Ryan was leading.  I decided to take his photo.  However, he started flying downhill.  It was smooth and fast.  I couldn't hold the camera and take his picture.  It would've taken some work to stay with him and I wasn't willing to do that.  I wanted to be conservative for the later loops.  He claims he's not a good trail runner, but he did excellent on this fast and non technical descent.  It is clearly a strength for him.

We got done with the first loop in under 50 minutes.  I was impressed by that, as that's a good time.  The smooth surface does make it easy.  We refueled at the car.  It had just started snowing.

I knew I could convince Ryan to go for at least one more loop and sure enough I did.  This time, he wanted me to lead.  I just hiked my normal pace and I pulled far ahead of him.  I often couldn't even see him.  I did catch a view when we got to the technical rocky stuff.  By now, the snow was coming down pretty good.  It was hard for me to see without a hat.

I didn't stop at the view, as there was nothing to see.  The ridge part was just brutal the second time around.  My face and ears were beginning to freeze, with the wind.  My clothes were wet and that made me uncomfortable.  There were a lot hikers here again and a lot of the same ones as earlier.

It was great to get to the Blue Trail.  It was still windy, but not as bad.  Again, I ran conservative downhill.  This time, I couldn't see well with the blowing snow.  Ryan was somewhere behind me.  I figured that he might catch up.

He didn't get me until the bottom, but sure enough he went past me there.  I was stopping to take a photo when that happened.  I had not heard him coming.  We had passed another runner coming up too.  Before we knew it, we were done with the second loop.  That was around 50 minutes.

I debated whether or not to go out for a third loop.  My gloves were wet and they made my hands cold, as we were standing there.  We already had over 7 miles and 2700 feet of elevation gain.  It was also snowing pretty good now.  I headed on up anyway.  Ryan warmed up in the car a bit.

I was hiking uphill on the first steep part.  A guy was coming downhill running.  It was the guy from earlier.  He stopped and we chatted.  He is also doing the Bear Mountain North Face race in May.  I believe his name was Eric.  It was good meeting him and maybe I'll run into him again.

As I was hiking up for a third time, it seemed like things had calmed down.  However, it was still snowing.  Also, my back was still bothering me.  It was bad on the first loop, felt much better on the second loop and now was feeling kind of in between on this third loop.

I hiked a lot here.  I just kept going and going.  I knew the windy ridge would be tough, but short.  I also knew a fun downhill awaited me.  I never did see Ryan, as he left the car later.

I made sure to get a photo at the top overlook.  With the snow, you could no longer see Mt. Minsi.  The snowdrifts along the Blue Trail ridge were brutal.  My foot sunk in a few times and it was hard to follow the trail.  Hikers had just come through and their prints were already gone.  It was some of the toughest conditions I ever encountered.  Luckily, it was short.  I had put on a face mask earlier.  I knew that that was the only way I'd manage to be able to run this last loop.  It was cold with the wind, but I survived.

Since this was my final descent, I pushed a bit more and flew downhill.  I had a hat on and it blocked some snow, but I still couldn't see well.  I had fun anyway, as I went fast.  I figured Ryan would have a tough time catching me now.   

I ran by some more hikers and finished up.  I waited for Ryan and he came a few minutes later.  I took his photo, as he was done.  It was a productive run all around.  I was quite happy with nearly 4,000 feet of elevation gain and 11 miles.  The run was faster than I had anticipated too.

My body is quite beat up.  I'm running again tomorrow though.  I'm hoping to run the Ugly Mudder race in Reading.  It is only 7 miles or so.  It will be semi challenging.  I'll see some friends too.  I look forward to it.  Monday will be a much needed rest.

11 miles - 2:36:21 (14:13 pace) 3910 feet of elevation gain

Friday, February 20, 2015

Short Lehigh Gap Day

I've been running a lot this week, after a light week last week.  Lately, I've only run 4 days most weeks and sometimes 5 days.  Today was my 5th day this week, with another run planned for tomorrow too.  This one would be short, but with some elevation gain.

I had to wait for wash to dry, so I didn't get out there until later in the afternoon.  It was another cold day, around 10 degrees, but less windy.  Still, this is getting close to being out of my comfortable.  The legs were a little chilly with one layer on.  My upper body was a bit hot with ColdGear and a fleece vest.  The headband and gloves were off fairly early.

I went to Lehigh Gap.  I figured the trail would be nice and packed down.  I figured I'd go up the mountain about 1.5 times.  I was looking for 1500 feet of elevation gain.  I started off running.  I wanted to run some more.  I even slowed down in the parking lot, to make sure I could run more.

Unfortunately, running didn't last very long.  The first trail was steep, but the bigger issue was the snow drifts.  There was just no grip as I ascended.  I had really hoped for a smooth trail and that I'd get to the shelter at least, before hiking.  However, I didn't even make it on to the AT.

I did run some of the flatter parts and it was good to get to the AT.  That was just too steep for me too and I just decided to hike up it.  My back bothered me quite a bit, just doing that.  I need to really work on strengthening that area.

I ended up hiking most of the way to the shelter.  I hope that my hiking speed is really improving over winter with all the uphill hiking that I've been forced to do.  I won't know until I get out there on the trails though in race conditions and on tough climbs.

It was good to get to the shelter and keep going.  This climb is so steep.  Before I knew it, I was out at the North Trail intersection.  I followed the blue blazes.  Again, I was hiking a lot.  I continued on.  I couldn't decide if I wanted to follow the blue or the yellow when I got to the top.  I stuck with the blue until I was nearly at the top.  It was less than 1.5 miles and about 1050 feet of gain.

I then starting going downhill.  It was fast and fun as usual.  My eyes did water a lot though, so that slowed me down.  At the AT juncture, I began to ascend again.  This part is uphill, but more gradual.  I got another 150 feet of gain, before turning around.

I then flew downhill again.  The legs were feeling a little beat at this point.  My plan was to go past the Woodpecker Trail and down to the powerline.  However, that part below the Woodpecker Trail had drifts.

I turned around and hiked back up.  I was now at 1200 feet of gain.  I figured that it was about 400 feet to the shelter, so that would be perfect.  Again, it was a lot hiking.  I was around mile 3 at this point.  I went up to the shelter.  That wasn't quite enough, so I went another few feet from there.

I then cruised on downhill.  That was fun as usual, even though the footing seemed worse than last time I was there.  It was still a smooth singletrack though.  I was back on the Woodpecker Trail in no time. 

I got back to the car right at the 4 mile point.  I was just under an hour.  That was about how long I wanted to run today, so it was perfect.  It was a good way to head into the weekend.

Tomorrow, I'm hoping for more climbing.  I really want to challenge myself.  I'm hoping for 3 or 4 loops of Mt. Tammany.  I did that much elevation during the DWG Fatt Ass, but that's the only time I've done that much there.  I'm planning to race the Ugly Mudder in Reading on Sunday.

4 miles - 57:33 (14:22 pace) 1739 feet of elevation gain

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Windy and Cold Run on Snow Covered Mt. Tammany

I didn't work today, so that was perfect.  After yesterday's disappointing short run, I needed a good day today.  I headed to the Delaware Water Gap right after lunch.  I wanted to run Mt. Tammany.  The plan was really to just get some good elevation gain.

The weather was super cold again.  I'm not sure it was much over 10 degrees and the winds were pretty bad.  I think they made it feel around zero.  Still, I'll take this over summer running any day.  I went with a ColdGear top and my fleece vest over it.  The top half of me was good.  The issue was that bottom half, where I only wore tights covered by shorts.  A second layer would've been much better.  My legs were cold by the end of the run, but I managed to get through it.

The trail was in excellent shape.  The snow was a perfectly packed down singletrack.  I was in trail running heaven.  The wind was the only downside.  Even still, the snowdrifts were much less than I expected.

I headed up running from the parking lot.  It would've been interesting to see if I could run the first very steep part.  It was kind of smooth today.  However, I brought my GoPro along and wanted to make a video.  This spot was the perfect place to start recording.  I was able to lay my camera on some rocks and snow piles and shoot some short clips.

After a few minutes, I headed up again.  I hiked this steep part.  I then began running when it flattened out.  I came across two Indian hikers.  They didn't move of the trail for me and I had to run uphill off the trail and into the snow.  I slipped and fell, but was okay.

I then ran a little more, but it was not only running and hiking mixed now, but I was adding in my video shooting too.  These brief breaks did make things easier. 

I got to the first lookout point and there was a snowman there.  Someone actually went through the trouble go to build one up there.  It was cool and I took a photo and some video in that area.  I had already gained quite a bit and wasn't working hard.

The tough thing was that I was hiking and setting up the camera a lot more than actually running.  That meant the wind was making my legs very chilly.  I knew I had to tough it out to the top, as things would get better on the second half of the run.

I ran a little at the very steep and rocky part.  I knew I'd be taking videos there, when I got on the rocks.  The videos ended up being great, as good or better than I hoped.  I successfully put them together to make an awesome clip.

I was moving along pretty well.  I was surprised that I didn't hit the big snowdrifts, like I did last time up there.  Even with all the wind, they had not formed yet I guess.  Maybe that will happen tomorrow.

It was great to make it to the summit.  I took a quick photo, but didn't want to hang out there long in the cold.  My biggest question coming into the run was the condition of the Blue Trail.  More people go out and back on Mt. Tammany than do the loop.  I was thrilled to see the Blue Trail in good shape.

I ran along the cold ridge.  Now, I sensed the fun part would be coming.  I came up on a woman who was hiking, right before I began my descent.  She was cute and had an accent.

Much to my surprise, the Blue Trail was packed down almost as well as the Red Dot Trail.  It was so smooth and fast.  I cruised downhill, having fun.  I did take a couple more videos, but much less now.  I mostly just ran downhill.  A lot of this was colder than I expected, but still far better than ascending was.

I got to the bottom in no time.  I couldn't believe it when I was back at the parking lot right at the one hour mark.  On clear trail days, I don't run much faster than that for a loop.  Add to it that I took about 15 videos that were over a minute each and that was quite impressive.  Maybe the trail is easier than in the summer or I'm getting faster and stronger myself.  I'm sure it is likely a little of both.

My watch said I was over 1500 of elevation gain now.  I wanted more.  I really debated another Mt. Tammany loop.  That would've meant I needed to put my sweatpants on though.  I was also planning on dinner with my mom, so I didn't quite have the time for that second loop either.

Instead, I opted to go back up the Blue Trail for a bit.  I figured I'd just go until I got to the hiker and then I'd turn around.  I was surprised at how long it took me to get to her.  She was snacking or something.  I went up a bit further then too.

I ran downhill past her as she was eating.  I had to go off trail briefly and that hurt my shins a bit.  I was good though and down the Blue Trail in no time.

I was around 2200 feet of gain by now.  I decided to do a short part to Sunfish Pond.  It was very short though and maybe only added another 100 feet.  I didn't want to get stuck behind the hiker.

I was back to my car in no time.  I saw the guy next to me had MMT and Eastern States stickers on his car.  I decided that I'd run back up and down the first steep section of Mt. Tammany.  That would get me a couple hundred more feet of gain and put me over 2500 feet for the day.

I ran some and hiked some here.  I'm glad that I'm finally starting to really understand the trail.  It helps me know which parts to run and which to hike.  I should be able to run a lot more when the snow melts.

I was pretty beat by the time I got to the top of this section.  I managed to make it there though and even ran a little more.  My watch said over 2600 feet of gain. 

I ran back down and did a short out and back toward Sunfish Pond to finish up.  That got me to 7 miles.  A guy came running down behind me and then he went up Mt. Tammany.  I assume it was his car that I saw earlier, but he didn't stop there.  I guess he was doing loops.  I wish I had more time to do that.

I'd don't know where I'm running tomorrow, but I do plan on running again.  I'm thinking maybe I'll head to Lehigh Gap.  The options with smooth trail are sparse right now.  I do like Lehigh Gap, but I have to hike a lot there.

7.01 miles - 1:43:56 (14:50 pace) 2348 feet of elevation gain

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Challenging Short South Mountain Run (Lehigh)

I took off yesterday.  I should've gone out this afternoon, but I was tired.  I didn't make it out until after dark.  I wanted to do repeats on South Mountain at Lehigh.

The weather is supposed to get bad again later tonight.  Because I of that, I was cautious and wore a ColdGear base layer.  It was too much and I was hot for a lot of the run.  My gloves were off pretty early and my ears uncovered.

Starting at the top of the mountain provides a descent to start.  First, I had to run past 4 deer that were hanging out next to a building on the campus.  I saw a few deer in the same place last week, so I assume they were the same ones.  They watched me, but I was able to slip past.

The beginning of the trail looked promising.  Some mountain bikes had gone through.  However, their section was very, very short.  In no time, I was on to snow.  My footprints from last week were still visible, but they were covered by some additional snow.

Running downhill was fun and I cruised along.  These are mountain bike trails and there are banked turns and some cool wooden jumps.  I brought my GoPro and used it to film some of me running by.  I set it up a couple times.  It was too dark and I really couldn't get any video.  However, I think if I set it up during the day, it will be very cool.  I may try it tomorrow.

I tried to run back up the hill.  However, it was too uneven and too difficult to run up.  I had to hike.  I was hoping my prints from last week would be useful, but they weren't that helpful.

It was fun coming down again.  I descended even further down the mountain.  I was done filming.  I was getting hot.  Even running downhill was uneven.  I sure did miss running on a place with a path. 

I hiked back up the mountain.  At one point, I actually missed the route back up.  I was right next to where I needed to go, but I couldn't see it in the dark.  It was frustrating not being able to run and having to hike up the hill.

I was working way too hard.  I had not run many miles or got much elevation gain, but this was a slow go and taking too much effort.  I just decided to hike back up and call it a night.  I love winter trail running, but sometimes winter wins.

At the top, I saw the deer again.  They were in the same place and a couple of them were even sitting down.  Again, they stared at me, but didn't run.

Tomorrow, I need to bounce back with a good run.  I'll probably go to the Delaware Water Gap or Lehigh Gap.  Those are two great places that are packed down and fun to run in the snow.  They are also challenging climbs too.  It should be a fun time and maybe I can film again too.

2.66 miles - 43:20 (16:18 pace) 532 feet of elevation gain

Monday, February 16, 2015

Hamburg Reservoir Appalachian Trail (both directions)

I skipped a bunch of days at the end of the week last week.  Therefore, I could run for a second straight day.  With potential snow tonight, I definitely had to run today.

I didn't work, so I had the opportunity to drive a little.  I didn't know where to go.  Eventually, I just decided on a place I knew would be good, the Hamburg Reservoir.  It would give me a packed down trail and some elevation gain too.  If it was closer, I'd be there all the time in the winter, and other times.

It wasn't as cold as yesterday, but it wasn't good either.  I'm not sure that it was much over 10 degrees when I started in mid afternoon.  There was more wind than I expected, although not as much as yesterday.  Because I thought it would be better today, I didn't dress as well.  I went with a midweight base layer, rather than ColdGear.  The wind cut right through it.  My behind got cold as well, with only one layer.

I didn't want to start the same way as the last few times.  I began by going southbound on the AT and exploring more of the trail.  I ran this part for a short bit last time, but now, I wanted to climb.  This section is flat for awhile and then climbs.

A few people had gone this direction, but it was tough.  The footing was uneven and there was some snow on top of the prints.  There was a section that ascended almost perfectly.  It would've been just steep enough to run in the summer, but today, it was too difficult.  I hiked up it.  I really wanted to get at least 500 feet of gain in this direction.

At the top, it was still gradually climbing.  I went out farther.  I continued out because I could tell I wasn't quite at the top of the mountain.  I guess the trail doesn't quite go up that high.  Finally, after sinking through snowdrifts, I turned around at 2.33 miles.

I figured that heading back would be better with it being downhill.  It was better, but still sucked at times.  My feet were breaking through and going fairly deep into the snow.  The footing was uneven and tough.  Still, I could run most of it.  The wind was cutting through under my arms.  When I did hike, it wasn't as windy.

Around mile 4, I was back near the Hamburg Reservoir road.  I now was planning to head in the other direction on the AT.  I figured that this would be smooth because everyone hikes to Pulpit Rock and the Pinnacle.  The trail was a beautifully packed down singletrack.  It was excellent. 

I had been over 700 feet of elevation gain.  I was hoping to get about 1,000 more feet on this part.  I planned to go out to Pulpit Rock.  I was able to run for quite a bit.  Sometimes, my breathing would get heavy, but then the trail would flatten out.

Near the top, I finally had to hike.  I was around 1,000 feet of elevation gain.  I hiked and ran off and on.  It was pretty steep near Pulpit Rock.  Climbing the rocky park to Pulpit Rock was fun.  I got to the view and took a couple photos.

I headed back down.  I took a cool video with my phone (but can't upload it).  I was running down the rocks.  I flew downhill.  It was a bit chilly, but fun.  Downhill snow running is awesome.  Before I knew it, I was back near the Hamburg Reservoir.  I think I was over 1,700 feet of elevation gain.

I had run up the road here before and it was steep.  I figured that I'd try to get over 2,000 feet of gain.  This was snow covered and icy.  The MICROspikes were awesome on it.  I ran for quite a bit, but then it got steep and I had to hike.

I went over 2,000 feet of gain and kept going.  I decided to go until it looked like I was near the top.  I was over 2,200 feet by the time I turned around.  I took a cool picture of the reservoir from above.

I then went downhill.  This was a super steep, but fun descent.  I was able to run it very fast with my spikes on.  I was almost out of control.  It was a blast.

I got near the parking lot and was almost at 2 hours of running.  I went out again to get over that time.  By then, I was close to 10 total miles, so I ran around near the car for a bit, to get to that.

It was a great run, with lots of snow and fun.  The elevation gain was excellent for a Monday run.  That is two quality runs to start the week off.  I need to run here more often.  I'm sure I will if it keeps snowing.  It is one of the few packed down places.

Tomorrow, I'm not sure what I'll do.  I might take off.  I'm also considering snowshoe running, if it does snow.  We aren't supposed to get too much, so we shall see.  It has been a good start of the week, so it should be a solid week.

10 miles - 2:03:05 (12:18 pace) 2393 feet of elevation gain

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Snowy Sunfish Pond Group Run

I decided to make last week a cutback week.  That caused me to really slack off and only run 3 days.  I didn't even run yesterday.  I knew I had to do more this week.

Ryan and I went up to the Delaware Water Gap to meet up with Janine, Bob and their friend Nita.  The plan was to run the McDade Trail, but River Road was closed.  Rather than parking at the gate and getting a ticket, we decided to head to the Worthington State Forest parking area.

This was supposed to be an insanely cold day.  The temperature was predicted to be 10 degrees with crazy winds that made it feel like -11 degrees.  As usual, the cold weather was overblown.  This was about the coldest that I've ran in, although last year's Polar Vortex run felt much worse.

I was well prepared with my attire.  I wore sweatpants over my tights.  I had on a jacket over my ColdGear top.  I also had some heavy gloves and various hats and such.  I actually took off my heavy gloves early on and opted for my normal winter gloves.  I did put some vaseline on my face before the run.

We started off after 12:30, so it wasn't as cold as earlier.  We were also in a valley along a creek for most of the run and thus blocked by the wind.  For most of the run, that is.  Rather than going up Mt. Tammany, we went on the AT to Sunfish Pond and back.

I started off behind everyone.  Bob moved over pretty early and I got ahead of Ryan too.  Nita was leading the way.  It's a gradual uphill at the start, but tough to run through in the snow, especially for someone who is not too experienced with snow runs.  Apparently, this was Nita's first ever snow run.

The trail was pretty nice.  It was smooth and the hikers had made a nice path.  It was a little soft, but very runnable.  After a bit, Nita got tired and stopped and then started hiking.  I ran on past her.  I think Ryan was behind me and I was kind of surprised that he was keeping pace.

I kept running wherever I could.  The path was good, but the snow still brought a lot of resistance.  My calves were getting very tight and it was quite the battle.

This is a nice gradual climb that is almost all runnable in clear conditions.  Today, it was just too tough for that.  Still, I ran a lot.  I had to hike here and there too.  This was definitely more running than I've been doing on a lot of my runs lately.

By now, I thought I was pretty far ahead of the group.  We came to a curve section, where you can see far behind you.  I saw no one, so I knew I was quite far in front now.  I was pushing a bit, because this is the hardest part of the run.

Mile 2 seemed kind of slow, but I plugged along.  I had already gained a lot of the elevation.  It was fun running wherever I could.  There were some minor snowdrifts here and there, but overall, it wasn't too bad.  I battled on.  If anything, I was getting a little hot.  The 3rd mile ended up being fairy quick, at least by today's standards.

I had commented to Ryan in the beginning that the top of the mountain, ridge section would be interesting.  It sure was.  That place is windy even on a nice day.  Today, it was brutal.  The trail had completely disappeared in the snowdrifts.  I was forced to cut the trail.  At times, the snow was so deep that it was nearly up to thigh level.  Needless to say, I was hiking there and going slowly.

I might've turned around if I didn't know where I was going.  However, I figured that this snowdrift section wouldn't last too long.  It was maybe a half mile at most.  There's normally a lot of rocks in the area, but there were almost none today.

Finally at 3.5 miles, the trail opened up again.  It was back to being runnable and fun.  I was nearing Sunfish Pond.  I got there and took a photo of the sign.  The pond looked amazing.  It was frozen and covered with snow and the snow was blowing too.  I really wanted a photo of it, but my battery died before I could get one.  That was so disappointing.

There had been talk about going a different route back.  However, there was no way I was going to take a chance on a route that I didn't know the conditions of.  I didn't want to encounter even worse snowdrifts.  Getting to Sunfish Pond had been well worth it.  That was why I kept battling through the snowdrifts.

I turned around and headed back.  I was just under 4 miles and getting there took me about 56 minutes.  I would've waited at Sunfish Pond, if it were a nicer day.  It was too cold to stand around.

On the way back, a deer came out and on to the trail.  It ran on the trail for a bit and then into the woods.  I had been wondering if the others might've turned around at the snowdrifts.  Not soon after thinking that, I saw Ryan.  He was maybe half a mile behind me.  Bob wasn't too far behind him.

I then saw Janine and Nita farther back.  They were going through the snowdrifts.  I told them they were almost done with the tough part.  After we had all gone through there, it was probably a little better for them.  In fact, I could now run through some of this while heading back.  Still, I had to hike a bit too.

The reason I busted my butt initially was because I knew most of the first half of the run was uphill, while the second half would be downhill and much easier.  It surely was.  There were rolling hills early, but most of it after the snowdrifts was fast and downhill.

It seemed like a slight wind was in my face now.  Still, it wasn't too bad.  Then, for some reason above my behind felt numb.  To be safe, I put a glove down my pants in that area.  It seemed to solve the issue.  My neck had been hitting the wind too and so I took off my winter hat and put on a face mask.  That helped protect my neck.

The trail got faster and faster as I went down.  I knew I'd be in under 2 hours and now, I was shooting for a sub 1:45.  Even with some stopping, mile 6 was a 10:25.

I cruised on down.  I passed two hikers coming up.  They were lucky that we made a trail for them.  Some of the steeper parts were a blast.  Mile 7 went by in no time.  It was a 9:30.

I was making great time and nearly done.  I was happy to get to the part of the trail that splits.  That meant that I was nearly home.  When I got back to the parking area, I was at about 7.75 miles.  I ran a short out and back to get to 8 miles.  The final mile was a super quick 8:37.

Luckily, I got Ryan's car keys from him earlier.  Otherwise, I would've froze.  It took him about 15 more minutes to finish.  The others came a short bit later.  I hit my goal of a sub 1:45.  In fact, I crushed that.

We went for pizza afterward.  That was good to sit down and chat.  Nita had to work, so she passed on that.  My Tailwind had frozen, so I had nothing to drink on the last half of the run, so I needed the calories.  I ended up cramping up in the pizza place.  Only I could cramp up after a run in near freezing conditions.

Since I've taken too many days off lately, I'm definitely running again tomorrow.  The temperature is supposed to get up to a steamy 19 degrees.  I'm not sure where I'll go.  Maybe I'll head to Lehigh Gap.  I need somewhere that is sort of clear.

8 miles - 1:41:50 (12:43 pace) 1376 feet of elevation gain

Thursday, February 12, 2015

More New Sections of South Mountain (Lehigh)

I slacked off again and didn't make it out yesterday.  I had to run somewhere today.  Since I had to work, I stayed more local.  I went to South Mountain (Lehigh) again.  I wanted to try to find some new sections there.  It worked out pretty well.

It was warm in the afternoon, but getting windy and cold at night.  I started at 5:15 PM and had about 45 minutes of daylight.  I brought the headlamp to run some through the darkness.  I wore a lightweight long sleeve shirt with the fleece vest.  I also had on tights.  As usual, I had on a headband and gloves.  Those went off and on.

I started from the top and headed downhill.  I wanted to go all the way to the bottom and come part way back up.  This was easier to follow in the daylight at the beginning.  I came back up and then crossed the road.

Normally after the road crossing, I follow the trail to the top.  I knew there were some other trails and I opted to take them.  I wanted to go down this side of the mountain.  I had never been there.  It was fun and fairly well used so far.

At one point, I sort of lost the trail and wanted to go down farther too.  I ended up sort of bushwhacking.  There wasn't a lot of brush though.  I found some spots with little snow under pine trees and a lot of poop.  I assumed that's where deer hangout.  I later followed 6 of them together.  I saw 2 others earlier too.

Eventually, I went back and found the trail.  I was able to find the way down to the road.  I then saw some markings on the trees.  I followed those for a bit.  This new section was a lot of fun.  It went in and out, up and down.

Then, there was a lot of climbing back up.  Just what I had hoped for.  It was going slowly though.  I chose to go straight up rather than keep following the flags.  One part was cool because it was like a tunnel of branches to run under.  I bet it is neat in the summer.  Then, I ran on a ridge through some pines.

This whole part was very slow.  I was mostly hiking up the hill.  Hopefully I can run it in the summer.  The mountain bikers have done a great job with these trails.  Near the top, I decided to switch the headlamp on.

At the top, I saw a water tower of some sort.  I went away from it at first, but it was going downhill.  I then headed toward it.  I was on the disc golf course.  I sort of knew where I was, but not exactly how to get to where I wanted.

I found a powerline by the water tower.  I know a few go through the area I was looking for.  I followed it down and it came out right on the trail that I normally take.  I then followed that for a bit.

I crossed the one road that I normally do, but no one had gone through there at that point.  I decided that I would just follow the more worn trail, so I crossed back over the road.

Running along this ridge was uneven and tough.  It was hard to get my footing, but it was kind of flat.  I could at least run most of it.  I followed this out and knew where I was.

The only issue was that it was dark and I was running this in the opposite direction as I usually do.  I went down one hill and made a right.  I then realized that I needed to make a left.  I did that and crossed back over the road.

I had one final climb to the top.  This was the area that I went down to start.  Before long, I was on the road and headed to my car.  This was a slower run than I had hoped, but I still ran for almost an hour and a half.  I climbed over 1,000 feet and found a great new part of trail.

When the snow melts, I'm going to put together a longer loop here.  I think I can do close to 10 miles and nearly 2,000 feet of elevation gain.  It should be a blast.

I'm going to run again tomorrow.  I'm not sure where at, but I'd like to get to the Delaware Water Gap.  It would be nice to double loop it in the snow.  Triple loops would be tough, unless I got there very early.  I'm hoping for a good day regardless.

5.31 miles - 1:22:58 (15:38 pace) 1137 feet of elevation gain

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Exploring South Mountain (Lehigh) in the Dark

I took off yesterday, which was perfect, since it was icy.  I had to get back at it today.  I didn't actually get out during the day, so I headed there after dark.

I decided to run at South Mountain (Lehigh).  With snow on the ground, I thought I'd just do some climbing repeats.  However, it didn't quite work out as planned.  It was still a fun night trail run though.

It was in the 20s when I started.  It was windy at the top, but warm down below.  I wore tights, a fleece vest and lightweight long sleeve shirt.  I had gloves, but they were off early.  I kept my headband on.

I started off from the top of the mountain.  It was fun going downhill.  It wasn't as steep or as tough as I thought it would be.  I was careful, but able to run it.  There were a few footprints and a lot of deer prints.  It was tough to tell which were which at times.

Running over the mountain bike trails was tough.  They have a bunch of small bumps to go over.  They were all snow covered, so it was tough to tell how deep the snow was there.  I had to be careful, but I had no issues.

The trails are fun as they do curve all over the place.  I felt almost like I was switchbacking at times.  At one point, the trail seemed to disappear.  I bushwhacked a bit to get back on it.  Then, I somehow missed the turn to go back up.  The mountain bikers also put a fake skull and spine there, hanging from a tree.  It's probably funny in the daylight, but less so at night.

I continued on and actually came out at the very bottom.  That was cool because I've always seen the little parking lot there and I've used it to run up the road.  I never knew how to get there from the top on the trails though.

I tried to head back up.  Again, I had no luck finding the trail straight up.  I ended up in the same area yet again.  I was near a powerline cut that I knew at one point.  There was a big log and some animals prints.  I decided to climb the log.  What I didn't realize is that there were many giant logs and branches.  I was amazed that I made it over them without falling or hurting myself in some way.

I then ran up the powerline cut.  This was a fun little climb.  I knew the trail was somewhere near the top.  They are doing a lot of construction in the area.  I ran on a new powerline road for some time.  I was just wrapping around the mountain.  I was hoping to find the trail and climb up the other side.  Eventually, I just turned around.

I couldn't figure out how to continue up the powerline.  Finally, I followed some footprints up the steep grade.  It was too steep and snow covered to run, so I hiked.  Eventually, I came to a road part I knew.  The trail passed through there.

I ran back toward the mountain top.  There were a few tracks, but not much.  The snow is actually soft and has a lot of grip.  However, it is still hard to run uphill when it hasn't been well traveled on.

Eventually, I came to the last steep climbing part.  I was over 4 miles now and over 700 feet of elevation gain.  I ran some of the last uphill, but had to hike quite a bit too.  I got back to my car with over 4.5 miles and 800 feet of gain.

This run wasn't quite what I was hoping for, but it was fun.  It was still a fairly productive evening.  I at least had a decent workout and it was a nice night out.

Since the snow seems more runnable now than it was last week (better grip), I'm really looking forward to running the rest of the week.  I'll have to go to some well traveled areas or else do repeats.  I'd love to get to the Delaware Water Gap again.  I'll probably go to Lehigh Gap at some point too.

4.66 miles - 1:06:07 (14:12 pace) 844 feet of elevation gain

Sunday, February 8, 2015

HAT Course Preview

I needed to change things up a bit today.  I headed down to Susquehanna State Park in Maryland.  Next month, I'll be run the HAT 50K there.  I wanted to get a feel for the course.  There is also no snow on the ground there, so it is a nice change.

It took me awhile to get out of bed this morning.  Eventually I got rolling and made the two hour drive.  It's not far, but not close either.  By the time I got there, Destrie had already got her run done for the day.  We didn't get to connect at all.

The weather was so much nicer than we've had.  It was slightly chilly, so I wore my lightweight orange top.  It was finally warm enough for shorts and no gloves were needed.  I brought Injinji socks, but I ended up with two of them for the same foot.  Luckily, I had compression socks with me.  I ran in those.  I also wore my new Altra Lone Peaks for the first time.

I had a trail map and was hoping I could follow things alright.  It starts off with a long and gradual climb.  This was probably the worst one in the whole run.  I was breathing heavy and it was early.  My legs were very tired from the last two days too.  They probably could use some rest.

At least with uphills, there are usually downhills to follow.  However, those seem so short.  I was going both up and down early on.  The course was a modified version of the actual race course.  I came across a couple runners.  Then, there were a few dogs coming down a hill.  I had to stop.  The puppy nibbled on me a bit.

This was some nice singletrack, although I'm sure it looks better without everything brown and dead.  It is smooth, with very few rocks.  It flows pretty well too.  I'll give it that.

I knew to basically go left most of the time, but I was glad to be carrying my map.  At one point, I crossed a creek and came out on a road.  I was confused.  I think I saw the trail, but it wasn't blazed.  I noticed that in continued on from a nearby road.  I just ran to that part.

It was more ascending after that.  There was an icy uphill.  There was ice here and there, but most of the trails were clear.  It was early and I was already kind of tired of the rolling hills.  I came out to a park road.  It had a sign for the trails.  The trails confused me and I was running around the perimeter of a field.

I then saw hikers, who I had passed earlier.  They were up ahead on a trail.  I decided to follow them, after some bushwhacking.  They had a dog, but luckily, they gave me a lot of room to pass in the wide open field.

This field part was kind of boring, but it is fast.  I saw two mountain bikers here.  Then, it was back into the woods.  I was now on the green blazed trail.  There are so many different colors and it is confusing.  A hiker was kind of unsure of the correction direction too.

I continued straight on.  I was going the right way.  I passed a few horses on this singletrack.  I saw some earlier, when I was lost in the open field too.  The green had more up and down.  Just as I was getting kind of depressed and beat up by the rolling hills, I saw this odd shaped tree with a plaque.  Destrie has taken photos of it.  That made me smile for a bit.  Then, it was on to more rolling trail.

The trail went up and up and up again.  I was being careful, so I hiked a good chunk of this stuff.  Deciding what to run and what to hike will be tricky.  Everything is runnable, but it will beat me up by the end if I run the whole thing.  Maybe I really need to work on slowing down even more up the hills and then hammer the flats and downhills.

The top was cool because you could see a creek through the trees.  I then went downhill.  I ran by a parking area.  At the bottom, I came to the red blazed trail.

The red blazed trail was called the Ridge Line Trail or something like that.  Of course it would be climbing again.  There was quite a bit of it early.  I was just happy to be around mile 6 at this point.  I was making some progress.

The frustrating thing about this trail was that it did go along the ridge, but it also went up and down, up and down.  It weaved its way around some seasonal streams too.  I was happy when I saw a road coming.  I thought it was near where I had parked.  It turned out that I wasn't.

There was a creek to cross.  This time, it was quite deep.  I had no desire to get my feet wet.  I figured that the water would be cold.  It looked like there were more rocks up the creek.  There were never quite enough of them though.  It always seemed one rock short.

Eventually, I just sucked it up and ran over a shallow part.  It was very cool and my feet were freezing for a bit.  Complicating matters was that there was no way back to the trail without bushwhacking.  Of course this area was full of thorns too.  It was hard to even get through.  I cut myself up a little, but eventually got to the road.

I had a little trouble finding the trail here, but it wasn't too bad.  It was only marked as the blue blazed Mason-Dixon Trail.  I saw that trail earlier and it confused me.  Now, I knew it went back to my car though.  I ran on the road for a bit, then it was another climb.  No surprise there.  I was approaching 2,000 feet of elevation gain.

Eventually, the trail was blazed both red and blue again.  This ridge part was more of the same.  Up and down singletrack.  I had nice seasonal views of the Susquehanna River.

One of the problems with my new shoes is that they are a little too big.  On the steeper downhills, my toes bash against the rock plates.  I'll either have to deal with it or tie them tighter.  The toebox is super wide, something I love!

It wasn't too long and I was to an open view of the Susquehanna River.  That was the only clear view I saw from the top.  There was a bench there too.  I had some downhill after that.  I was totally surprised when all of a sudden, I came out to my car.  I was expecting another 1.5 miles to 2 miles.  I had only run 9.4 miles and the loop said 11 miles on the description.  I wasn't complaining though.

This was a fun course on a day like today, where I was only doing less than 10 miles and about 2 hours of running.  All the rolling hills will bother me though, come race day.  I don't mind a rolling course, when I know what I'm in store for and know how to attack it.  If I don't know the course though, it frustrates me.  At least I've seen it once.  Maybe I'll get there again before the race.  I do prefer a course with long ascents and long descents.

It was at least a productive run and I know what to expect now.  Since the course is two loops, I'll be conservative early on.  I did enjoy the snow free run and it was a good workout.  The weather was reasonable too, although I was sweating a lot by the end.

9.42 miles - 2:05:19 (13:18 pace) 1824 feet

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Another Challenging Hike/Run at Lehigh Gap

I went to Lehigh Gap today to hike and run.  I was hoping for 12,000 feet of elevation gain for the week.  To do that, I needed 3,300 feet today.  That meant lots of up and down in the snow.

I began around noon.  It was kind of warm, by winter's standards.  I decided to wear a jacket instead of the fleece vest.  I was too hot.  I was soaked early and sweating all throughout the run.  That made it tough, but I survived.

This time, I ran directly up to the Woodpecker Trail.  That was some early running, but it quickly changed to hiking.  When I was there last week, the path was pretty worn.  This part was just so so.

I got on to the Appalachian Trail in no time.  This is very steep and I ran some, but mostly hiked.  It was a slow go.  I had some Tailwind and I drank it.  The AT section was more of a path.

I continued on, up and up and up.  I got to shelter and there was a guy sitting there.  He was impressed that I was running.  This is one of the rare running stretches.  It is super steep before that and kind of steep after that.

It wasn't long as I was to the North Trail.  I headed up that too, mostly hiking.  Near the top, I had to make my own path.  I turned and came back down.  Then, I decided to run up the AT for a bit.  It was a short stretch though.

I decided to head back down.  I wanted to get around 2,000 feet of gain before heading back to my car.  I had a sandwich and chips there.  It was fun going down the trail.  I went past the Woodpecker Trail.  I then came to a powerline.  I ran down the AT there a bit and turned around.

I climbed back up.  This hike was super slow.  I was happy to get to the halfway point of elevation gain.  I ran down a bit again and continued on.  I was eager to keep adding elevation.

I went back past the shelter.  This time, the guy was sleeping in there.  That was odd in the afternoon.  I didn't want to bother him too much.  I continued on.

When I got to the North Trail, I decided to climb some more.  I was over 2,000 feet of gain when I started there.  I headed up the hill.  I had to hike a lot of it.  I took the part that I blazed earlier too.  I was near 2,500 feet, but not quite there.

I was thrilled to be around 1,000 feet of gain from finishing.  It was now nearly 2 hours into the hike/run.  I ran downhill, having fun, but I was super exhausted.  Even downhill began to provide a challenge.

When I got to the AT, I headed back up again.  This is a more gradual way to the top.  I cruised on up.  Most of it was still hiking, but I ran some.  I was slowly gaining elevation.  I kept going out and out and I was kind of getting frustrated.  It wasn't steep enough.

I knew it eventually would climb steeply and it finally did.  This climb of a few hundred feet was tough.  I battled on though.  I saw the road near there earlier.  When I came to it, I went up again.  Big surprise.  The theme of this run was up and up.  I then ran down on the road. 

This part was fun because, there were tire tracks in the snow and it was easy to follow.  Going down I ran.  Coming up, I could've run if I wasn't so exhausted.  I was over 3,000 feet of gain now.  Then, 3,100 feet and nearing 3,200 feet.

I ran on back down.  That was fun.  It was quick now.  This path was well worn.  A guy with a dog came through earlier.  That was one reason I headed out so far.  I didn't want to pass him.

I did turn around on the AT and did a short hike to gain some more elevation.  When I finally made it to the intersection of the North Trail again, I headed up there.  I hiked and hiked and hiked.

Finally, near the top, I went over 3,500 feet of elevation gain.  I wanted an extra couple hundred feet of gain, just to make sure I was actually over 12,000 for the week.

I headed downhill.  I was tired, but nearly done.  I had gone up and down, up and down.  I was all over the mountain and repeating a lot of the same areas.  Since I hiked a lot, the time seemed to fly by.  I didn't plan on going the whole time without heading back to the car, but that's what ended up happening.

There were a few more hikers as I headed down.  They were making the trail fast.  One was a guy and his cute adult daughter.  I flew downhill pat them, enjoying myself.  Going down is so quick and the turns were tight.  Before I knew it, I was on the less used Woodpecker Trail.

I got back to my car just before 9.5 miles.  I was a few minutes under 3 hours too.  It was another exhausting workout.  It was the second day in a row where I just wanted to sit down afterward.  The snow makes thing incredible.

These two day has about 7,000 feet of gain combined.  Add in the snow and it was quite the workouts.  I'm going down to Susquehanna State Park in Maryland to run tomorrow.  I'm hoping to preview the HAT course with a nice 11 miler.  That should be challenging too, but at least the trails will be clear.  I may meet up with Destrie too.  That would be great.

9.4 miles - 2:44:58 (17:30 pace) 3510 feet of elevation gain

Friday, February 6, 2015

Mt. Tammany Hike/Run Through the Snow

This has been a disappointing week.  I decided to use Wednesday as my rest day.  Then, I unexpectedly had to work yesterday evening.  I could've squeezed in a run, but it would've been tight.  I thought about running at night, but I wasn't comfortable doing so in such cold weather.  That meant a second unplanned day off.

Luckily, I didn't work today.  I've been wanting to go to Mt. Tammany all week.  I headed there a little after lunchtime.  I didn't know what to expect, but I was hoping that enough people had hiked through to make a decent trail through the snow.

At first, I had a lightweight long sleeve shirt with my fleece vest over it and long pants on the bottom.  It was in the low 20s and a bit windy though, so I elected for my ColdGear top.  That was a good choice, because at times I was cold.  Other times, I was hot.  That's pretty typical of this time of year.  The sun was actually shinning during a lot of the run.

I'm not sure I should really call this a run.  I headed up running the Red Dot Trail early.  However, that didn't last very long.  Early on, there's a steep and normally rocky section.  The rocks were buried, but it was still a lot of work to actually run uphill.  I ended up hiking.

I ran here and there, but it was mostly just hiking.  A few people had hiked through, but not as many as I had hoped.  It also seemed like there were less tracks as I got higher up.  That was no surprise.  Even hiking up this steep trail was tough.

Thankfully, there was a lot of snow on the ground.  At least it wasn't icy, like the last time I was there.  It was still super slow though.  I looked forward to the downhill.

I had to hike through a few snowdrifts at the top.  That was tough.  It was chilly too.  Finally, I made it to the top.  It was windy up there too.  I took some photos from the overlook, but I didn't stay long.

I looked forward to getting on to the Blue Trail.  I figured that this would be smooth and I'd fly downhill.  As I got on that trail, I noticed only one or at most two sets of footprints.  It was even hard to run this part along the ridge.  I noticed that my GPS got messed up too.  It added a good half mile or more out of nowhere.

What made running through the snow tough was the ice layer on top.  If there's a clear path, there's no problem.  However, whenever you hit the edge of the footprints, you can bang your shins on the ice.  I knew I'd do this a lot on the descent of the Blue Trail.  After that happened a couple times, I turned back up the hill.

I'd now head down the Red Dot.  That trail is steeper and normally more technical, but at least it had more of a trail.  I hiked the ridge to get there.

Finally, I was on the Red Dot.  I had to hike a lot of the descent, especially the rocky part.  I tried running some of it and I'd get frustrated.  I was losing my footing or sinking into the snowdrifts.  Then, I fell on the snow.  It didn't hurt, but the whole experience had me very mad.  I thought I could at least run downhill.

Finally, I got through the technical rocky section and was able to run.  It was actually a blast as I danced, slipped and sort of skied down the hill.  I got down it in no time.  Here and there, I hiked some of the technical stuff.  I didn't go all the way to the bottom, but I did go most of the way.

I decided that I wanted some more elevation gain.  I had been happy that at least I could run some downhill.  The plan was to hike back up to the rocky section at least.  I did that.

I was enjoying the fact that I kept gaining elevation, so I continued on, even through the technical stuff.  I was nearly to the top when I finally turned around.  I had climbed another 1,000 feet.

I actually ran down more the technical stuff this time.  The trail was a little smoother and perhaps more importantly, I was more confident.  I was over 2500 feet of gain now.  I flew past a woman who looked like she was trying to run up the hill.  I wish I could've run with her.  Company would've been nice.

I had such a blast descending.  I feel like more people would enjoy trail running in these conditions, if they just tried it.  I passed a hiker coming up too.  He must've thought I was crazy.  Before long, I was cruising down the last steep part, quickly sliding all over the place.

I was around 2 hours into the hike/run at this point.  I decided that I would try to take the AT out for a bit.  This is more gradual.  It was sort of well worn, except I don't think anyone had taken that route in a few days.  It did look like some snowshoes or something like that had gone through there.

I couldn't run much of it, so I hiked here too.  I knew I'd run downhill.  I got about another 300 feet of gain and then turned around.  I was getting tired, so I couldn't even run the flat parts any more.  I did run downhill though.  It was good to get back to the car.

Now that I was close to 3000 feet of gain, I wanted to climb some more and get over that.  I headed back up Mt. Tammany again.  It didn't take too long to get over 3000 feet.  I kept going after that.  I was getting very tired and even hiking was tough.  My back really hurt going up the first two climbs, but oddly, it wasn't too bad now.  Maybe it was stretched out or something. 

I hiked for quite a bit.  I probably got around 700 feet of gain in this segment.  I started up the technical part, but once my watch was over 3500 feet of gain, I turned around.  I was exhausted.  I had been using Tailwind, but not enough.  I was starting to bonk at this point.

Running downhill was still fun.  I wasn't as steady on my feet as earlier.  Still, I ran down to the bottom.  I got there in no time.  I was well over 9 miles now.  It took me over 3 hours.  Although I had gone so slow, the snow made it very tough.  I was so exhausted by the end that I sat right down in my car.  It was an awesome workout.

I was hoping for 12,000 feet of gain this week.  With the extra day off, I'm not sure I'll hit that.  I'd need another big day tomorrow.  One day this weekend, I'm hoping to head to Susquehanna State Park in Maryland.  That is where the HAT 50K takes place.  I want to preview it.  They don't have snow down there, so that would be nice.  It's also supposed to be very warm down there.  I hope I can meet up with Destire too, for the run.  I don't know exactly what I'll be doing, but it should be two good runs at least.

9.51 miles - 3:07:44 (19:45 pace) 3420 feet of elevation gain

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Wind Gap AT Snow Repeats

Yesterday was a perfect off day.  We had snow and ice.  That meant that I was back at it today.  Of course complicating the matter was the additional few inches of snow, covered by ice.  I knew it would be a tough one.

It was also quite cold today.  I went with my usual attire though.  I planned to be running up and down the mountain, so I figured that would be enough and it was.  At times, I was sweaty and other times chilly.  The sun was out and that always helps.

The plan was to head to Wind Gap and run repeats on the AT.  Since I figured few, if any, hikers were out, I knew I'd be making the trail.  It would get more runnable as I went along.  The whole switchback climb gains about 500 feet in less than a mile.

I got to the southbound trailhead.  No surprise, not a single set of tracks.  I was the first person through at all since the storm.  Hiking up the steep beginning was tough.

I was able to run a little bit at the start, but that didn't last.  Even if I could run up the hill, it was taking a lot of effort.  The snow was probably a foot deep with ice on top of it.  I mainly just hiked the trail on the first route up.  Even that was exhausting.

I finally got through a few switchbacks and my watch was around 275 feet of gain.  I decided that this was good enough.  I'd just run a bunch of repeats.  I headed back down.

I was sort of able to run down the hill.  It was slow though.  I tried to make a new set of tracks whenever I could.  Often times, I'd step on the edge of my original tracks, to make them wider.

It was good to get to the bottom.  I now sort of had a path.  Still, I had to hike more than run on the second repeat.  This was far from fast.  It was a great workout though.  Before long, I got to the end again and turned around.  There were some animals tracks near the top.  It was neat being the first person through.

This was wearing me out, so both at the top and bottom, I rested very briefly.  I'd take in some water too.  I had over 500 feet of gain after two repeats.  I started back up on the third run.  Again, I was able to run a little bit more.  The one problem is that the snow underneath had no grip.  It was a soft powder.

I also had to be careful of ice covered branches.  There were a couple low lying ones.  One hit me in the head one time, as I was looking down.  At least I avoided my eyes.

Now that I almost had a trail completely made, I was able to really blast downhill.  That was a ton of fun.  It was over in no time though.  Every ascent was slow and every descent was super fast.

I headed back up for repeat number four.  By now, the trail was a lot more runnable.  However, my energy level was getting lower.  I was nearly an hour into this run and only a little over 3 miles.  It was certainly slow, but a great workout.  This was a key repeat, because it would get me over 1,000 feet of gain.  It actually got me just over that point.

I enjoyed blasting down the hill one more time.  I was almost out of control.  I got to the bottom in no time and decided that I'd do a fifth and final repeat.  This would put me around 4 miles and comfortably over 1,000 feet of gain.

I was so dead by now.  Even some sections that I ran earlier were a struggle.  My legs were tired and my back was sore.  I hiked a lot more on this one than the previous repeats.  When I got to the end, I decided to clear some more trail.  I hiked up the next couple switchbacks.  There were even more drifts and it was a super slow go.  I did see some turkey tracks.

Finally, the snowdrifts were too much.  I headed down.  I sort of ran downhill here, but there wasn't much of a trail yet, so it was slow.  Then, I got to the part I had done five repeats of.  That was so much faster and I flew down it.  It was so much fun.  I finished up with over four miles and 1,300 feet of elevation gain.  Perhaps more importantly, I created a great trail to run on later in the week.  I can now do more repeats there if needed and get a faster and more runnable workout.  I just have to hope for no more snow.

Tomorrow, I'm not sure what the plan is.  I think I'd like to try to run and hike two loops at Mt. Tammany.  That is a popular hiking place, so I'm hoping for some tracks through there.  The rocks could make it icy though.  Still, I can't imagine it any worse than when it was all ice, when Ryan and I were up there a couple weeks ago.  Heading to Wind Gap again is another fall back plan of course.  Lehigh Gap might be okay too.  The bottom line is I want more elevation!

4.33 miles - 1:20:43 (18:37 pace) 1332 feet of elevation gain

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Snow Covered Lehigh Gap Run

I wanted to go out and run the Baby Buzzard course with the Pagoda Pacers this morning.  However, the snowy trek through Trexler did beat me up and I wasn't sure what I'd have today.  I elected to play it safe, but also give myself the option to get some good running and hiking in.  I headed out to Lehigh Gap.

The weather was tricky.  It was warm for this time of year.  I went with just a lightweight long sleeve shirt at first.  However, that wasn't heavy enough.  I put on a slightly heavier shirt.  I left my fleece vest in the car.  Most of the time, I was comfortable.  At times, I was hot and other times a little chilly (as I ran into the wind).  It worked for the duration of the run though.  I probably could've worn shorts, but I elected not to.

Usually when I run at Lehigh Gap, I climb to the top via the Prairie Grass Trail and Charcoal Trail.  I then run the ridge along the North Trail and come back down.  This time, I was looking to come straight down the North Trail and try to do 3 short loops.  That would give me over 3,000 feet of elevation gain.  If I couldn't handle that much, I could stop earlier.

I ran some of the early part of the LNE.  Then, I hiked a bit too.  Finally, I ran along the flat part.  This makes for a good warmup, which is why I love going this way.  I was able to follow footprints, but they were uneven.

I got to the Prairie Grass Trail in no time and began the climb.  I ran the early part.  It was tough with the snow coverage.  No one had been through this part.  I only climbed about 150 feet before I had to hike.  It was too early to push it.

Going up this was a lot more hiking than running.  This section is wide open and not surprisingly, there were snowdrifts everywhere.  I did run where I could, but that wasn't often.

The Charcoal Trail was no different.  It was mostly just a hike.  It seemed to be taking forever.  Even the snowdrifts were a pain to hike through.  At least I enjoyed the views.  I thought to myself that I was crazy.  Toward the top of the Charcoal Trail, there were animal prints and it was a little more runnable.  Of course there were still snowdrifts here and there.

I had to go out to Devil's Pulpit and more snowdrifts.  The view of the snow covered mountain on the other side was incredible.  I then continued on to the North Trail.  This time, I ran down the North Trail.  Someone had built a snowman way up here at the top.  That was cool.

Going down along the ridge of the North Trail was fun.  I had around 1,100 feet of gain already and now, it was mostly downhill.  This trail had at least been lightly used.  Before long, I got to the Appalachian Trail.  The AT was a blessing.  It was heavily used.

I cruised on down the AT.  It was relatively smooth, thanks to all the traffic.  A lot of the rocks got buried.  I ran down past the shelter.  I continued on.  I then got on to the Woodpecker Trail.  There were some parts around big rocks, which were fun.

I continued on down to the open field part of the trail.  I was back to my car shortly after that.  I had run 3.75 miles on this loop.  This would be a nice loop to do on clear trails.

I refueled with some Tailwind.  I was a little exhausted, but I headed back up.  Rather than go through the snowdrifts, I stuck with the worn down AT and North Trails this time.  I ran some in the beginning, but that didn't last long.  This part is super steep.  The other direction is more gradual.  I'm not sure if I would've done another loop in that direct if that was my only option.  Luckily, it wasn't.

I did a lot of hiking, but I ran where I could.  Even the hiking up the snow covered AT was hard.  I gained a lot of elevation though and got an excellent workout.  I turned and ran up the North Trail.  I ran past a hiker (who I somehow didn't see later).  I was at least able to run some of this.  I went up near the top and had gained around 1,000 more feet of elevation.  There were snowdrifts on the North Trail.

I then headed back down.  Rather than going all the way down, I decided to run up the AT, at the split.  This had some good climbs, but was a little more runnable.  It wraps around the mountain.  It is a more gradual climb.  I still got pretty exhausted.

A group of snowshoe hikers were coming the other way.  They made the trail smooth, although it became a little less grippy then.  I ran on for a bit.  I think I turned around somewhere over 2500 feet of elevation gain.  I was able to run all the way back down.  I never came across the snowshoe group again.

I did see a guy hiking later on.  I was getting a bit tired.  I probably didn't have enough calories in me.  I was glad I could go down this smooth path.  I was sad thinking that it will be buried in more snow again tomorrow.

I got back to the bottom and refueled again.  The first loop took me about 55 minutes.  I was now around 2 hours into this run/hike.  I had not even covered 8 miles either.  I had a lot of gain though.

I got more Tailwind and headed back up.  I knew this would be a struggle, but I had to get at least 3000 feet of gain and I wanted more.  I had to hike a lot of this steep terrain now.  My back and legs were getting sore.  I was happy to get over 3000 feet and keep going.  I saw the hiker at the shelter.

I continued on up the North Trail.  Again, I ran and hiked to about the same places as earlier.  I was now over 3500 feet of gain.  I did the same thing at the AT junction as before.  I started climbing again.  I didn't go out too far.  I was over 3700 feet and closing in on 3800 feet when I headed back down.

After going down the steepest part, I decided to hike back up.  I was dead tired and even hiking was tough.  Since I was so close to 4000 feet of gain, I wanted to go over that.  I did on my watch, but when I corrected it later, it wasn't quite that much.  Oh well, it's not that big of a deal.

Finally, I cruised downhill.  My quads were getting tired and I was losing my concentration a little.  It wasn't too bad and I still could run.  I just had to be slightly more careful.  I finished up the big day at my car.  I had less than 12 miles and it took me over 3 hours.

This was an awesome day and I'll have to do more of this in the future.  Lehigh Gap is a great place to go straight up and straight down.  Maybe I'll  run loops here when the trail is clear.  Now that I see how much the AT is used here in the snow, I'll probably come back.  Maybe I'll be there next weekend.  I was so exhausted by the end that I just sat in my car right away.  It was a lot of work.

Tomorrow is a scheduled rest day.  That is perfect, since we are supposed to get 3 to 6 inches of snow.  I'm not sure where I'll be on Tuesday.  I'm all about getting more elevation though.  Maybe I'll run repeats southbound on the AT at Wind Gap.  Repeats can create a smooth trail where there isn't one.  That could be my best option these days.  I look forward to wherever I go next time out.

11.77 miles - 3:04:05 (15:39 pace) 3937 feet of elevation gain