Tuesday, April 28, 2015

First Tammany Spring Run

My plan for the week was to rest the foot some more and maybe run with Destrie.  However, the foot is feeling pretty good.  Today was a nearly perfect day too, so I couldn't resist.  I haven't been to Mt. Tammany yet since the snow has melted, so I decided to get up there for one loop.  It would be another great way to test the new New Balance shoes as well.

It was a great day, as the sun was out and it was in the 60s.  The sun was setting in the evening, when I started.  I did sweat quite a bit, as I tried to run a lot early on.  I had on shorts and a short sleeve shirt.  I was cool on top of the ridge and on the downhill part of the run.

I'm always ambitious when I start running here.  For some weird reason, I think that maybe I'll be able to run a lot of the climb.  Of course I never do and I never learn.  I even tried to take it very slow, but that still didn't help.

I ran the steps in the beginning.  I then ran along the flat part.  I was going slow and doing fairly well on the first steep and rocky section.  However, my breathing started to labor, even going slow.  My legs weren't burning though.  That didn't last, I got up about 250 feet from the start and it just became too much.  I could've pushed a little farther, but it wasn't worth it.

I began to hike.  I probably hiked the second half of that first section.  The problem with running so much and getting out of breath was that I couldn't recover.  When it flattened out, I ran some more, but still was laboring with my breathing.

I continued to move along.  There was still a lot of hiking.  I knew it was a rocky trail of course, but really I forgot just how rocky it actually is.  At least I can hike faster then in the past.

The super rocky section is even tough to hike.  It is so uneven that you have to watch your footing.  Obviously, I've become much better at this too.  I can't wait to keep making progress there.

I was sweating a lot now.  I ran where I could, but still hiked most of the way up.  I smelled weed around 1,000 feet up.  Who would hike that much to smoke a joint?  I never did see the person.  I saw no one on the entire ascent.

I got to the overlook around 27 minutes into the run/hike.  It was good to have that out of the way.  I took a photo of the setting sun.  I didn't stay long, as I was trying to make good time.  I took a few quick photos, but not many.

Now, it was on the Blue Trail.  The ridge is super rocky, but fun.  It is all runnable at least.  I cruised along, looking for the best place to put my feet.  Before I knew it, I was on the turn to the descent.

There were now plenty more rocks.  Rocks, rocks, rocks and rocks.  That was the story of the run.  I did run most of the way down.  It depends on what you consider running I guess.  I was picking my way down slowly.  It was fun though.

I did hike down one gnarly section.  Then, I forced myself to get back to running.  The bottom of my feet were really hurting on the rocks.  I also stubbed my toe at one point.  I won't be able to wear those New Balance shoes this weekend.  Running 50 miles on rocks will just be too much for them.

I came to a family of hikers.  Luckily, I ran into them where the trail had two paths.  I took the other one and went by them.  They were the only people I saw all day.  They must've thought I was crazy running down that crap.

After seeing them, the trail flattened out a bit and got smooth.  I opened it up.  This last part was such a blast.  It went back to rocky and times, but I kept flying.  It was a fun downhill dance.  I had to adjust my stride and pace often and the terrain changed.  It was good downhill practice.  This was much slower than in winter though.

Eventually, I made it to the bottom of the Blue Trail.  I crossed over the waterfall bridge and opened it up.  When I got to the AT and that smooth downhill, I really started flying.  I was having a lot of fun now.  Most of the rocks were gone.

I finished up back at the car.  It was before 52 minutes.  It took me a few minutes less to go from the overlook down as it did to get up there.  It was a decent time and a good run, but I was definitely faster in the winter.

I had a great day out there.  I'm going to have to take a chance and run in the Lone Peaks this weekend.  I don't have much other choice at this point.  If they bother the top of my feet, then so be it.  I can't destroy the bottom of my feet though.

Tomorrow, I may or may not run with Destrie.  I'm considering driving down to Delaware regardless.  Maybe I'll just run there on my own.  I would like to get one more run in before my race.  Maybe I'll even take a chance and wear my Lone Peaks.

3.38 miles - 51:44 (15:17 pace) 1184 feet of elevation gain
13th Summit of Tammany in 2015

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Bear Mountain Recon

I feel like I've recovered quite well from Hyner.  I didn't run all week though.  I needed to let my foot heal.  However, I had a shoe dilemma, so I had to run today.

My old shoes worked great at Hyner.  However, there are too many rocks at next week's Bear Mountain race.  I couldn't wear my Altras there though either.  I took some suggestions from friends and bought New Balance MT00v2.0 shoes.  I have New Balance road shoes, so I thought these might work well.  My friends told me they work well on rocky terrain too.

I drove the 2 hours to Upstate New York.  I figured that I might as well test them on part of the course.  I just decided to start at the Anthony Wayne Recreation Area.  That would give me a loop that included some of the beginning and end of the course.  I arrived after 1 PM.

It was windy in the parking lot.  I elected for my lightweight long sleeve shirt.  I was worried that I might be hiking a lot and get chilly.  A lot of the run was comfortable to hot, but on the exposed top of the mountain, it was windy and cold.  The shirt often made me hot, but was probably a good choice.

I began running on the parking lot and noticed how lightweight the minimalist shoes were.  They felt comfortable for sure.  I wasn't sure how they would hold up on the rocks though.  I'm doing the 50 miler there next weekend and it supposed to be super rocky.

I started heading the direction that I wanted to.  For some reason, I turned around before some hikers.  I was on a woods road.  I ran the other way and followed the white blazes of the AT.  After some time, this turned into a singletrack.

It didn't take long to figure out how tough this course would be.  There weren't as many rocks as I expected early on, but it was winding singletrack.  It was slow and there was some up and down.  There was some water on the trail and plenty of rocks too.  It was interesting.  This was apparently a historical route from colonial times.

I did enjoy running this part.  It was a fun trail for sure.  After some time, it came out to a woods road.  This was more runnable.  Then, it came to an old paved road.  This was a little broken up.  There were lots of historical markers on it.

I kept looking for the turn on to the red blazed trail.  I tried one turn, but the path wasn't blazed.  I saw a cool, old oak tree.  This road was a lot of uphill and I walked a good amount of it.  Every now and then, I took my map out to make sure I was on the right path.

At one point while I was running, I saw another runner coming downhill.  He had on an Ultimate Direction AK Vest too.  Most people out on this day were hiking.  Shortly after passing him, the trail turned steep and very rocky.  I definitely had to hike up this.

This was still the 1777 Trail.  It was marked every so often.  After quite a bit of climbing, I saw blue blazes.  I guess I was on the Red Trail somehow.  Regardless, it was good to be on the Blue Trail, heading back toward the start.  I was around mile 5 at this point.

At first, I was worried that I might've missed some views by going toward the right.  I was glad to find out I was very wrong.  This part of the trail was amazing.  There were short ups and downs.  There were lots of rocks and plenty of boulders, some the size of cars or trucks, along the trail.  At times, it was even hard to follow the blazes.  Running was slow and I took so many pictures too.  I've been on sections of trail like this for very short periods, but rarely for this long.

After running and hiking for a bit, I came to a view.  A couple guys were eating lunch there.  It was a terrific spot.  It had nearly a 180 degree view.  I could see the mountains and the Hudson River.  I then noticed the skyline of New York City well off in the distance.  It was amazing.

There was a second amazing view.  Then, the trail went downhill.  This was super rocky and technical.  It was hard to run down.  I ran through a valley briefly.  Then, it was climbing again and back on the ridge.

The ridge running was tough and beautiful.  There were tons of views and I stopped for a lot of them.  The rocks were hurting my feet a lot.  There were a lot of flat rocks.  I ran along while I could.

As I got closer and closer to the end of the run, I came across more and more hikers.  I was near the AT.  I then even came to an AT shelter.  It was 3 PM and the shelter and tenting area were already fairly packed.  I guess there are a lot of weekend section hikers.

Some hikers let me go on by.  One older couple said, "You are running this?"  I commented, "Sort of.  It's a lot more hiking."  This was still a slow go, but I ran a lot more.  I had seen enough views and wanted to be done.

I was thankful for some other hikers.  They warmed me of a couple army guys up ahead.  They were pointing their rifle.  I'm assuming they were from West Point, which is nearby.  It was certainly something you don't see on the trail every day.  It might've scared me if I wasn't warned. 

I ran downhill, but slowly.  It was very rocky and tough footing.  I'd be shocked if I could run this type of stuff next week, especially late in the race.  I'll be amazed if I don't fall.

At one point, I completely lost the trail somehow.  Since I was near the parking area, I bushwhacked down the hill.  I there wasn't much brush.  I was able to find the trail that I had started on.

I ran back to my car.  I was under 10 miles of running.  It took me nearly 3 hours.  This was about the pace that I'll need to move at next week to make the cutoffs.  That could be tough.  I did stop a lot during this one.

The good news is that my shoes worked well in terms of the top of my foot issue.  It felt great.  The bad news was that even 10 miles hurt the bottom of my feet.  I will be hurting next week.  I might have to switch shoes partway through.  I may have to take a chance and wear my Altras.  Those definitely seem better on rocks.

This course is going to be tough.  With the cutoff, I'll need to be moving.  I can't afford to hike too much.  I'll probably have to push through and run through pain a lot more than I have in the past.  I always have problems with cramping and my muscles getting a lot of fatigue.  Hopefully, there are some easier sections.  I will take it easy for sure.  I'm just going to try to have fun and see what I can do.  If I DNF, then so be it.

I definitely can't wait for the race.  It will be my biggest challenge yet.  It will be a lot fun and suffering too.  If I can finish in the time limit, I'll be proud.  Some cool weather could be a big help too.  At least there isn't too much elevation on the course.

I probably won't run any more this week.  I could still use a lot of rest.  The bottom of my other foot has been bothering me a bit.  If I do run, maybe I'll head down to Delaware and try to run with Destrie.  Otherwise, it will be no running until the race.

9.66 miles - 2:42:22 (16:49 pace) 1692 feet of elevation gain

Sunday, April 19, 2015

2015 Hyner Trail Challenge 50K Race Report

I signed up for the Hyner 50K way back in the fall.  A few friends had told me about it and it is one of the most challenging 50Ks that you can find around here.  It is located in the PA Wilds, a little over 20 miles north of Lock Haven.

We headed down on Friday to camp for the evening.  I went to packet pickup, so I wouldn't have to worry about it in the morning.  I only knew about 10 people out of the 1200 people running the race, but I bumped into four of them at registration.  I hung out for awhile and talked to Nita, Bob, Janine and Destrie.  I then went back and made sure I had everything prepared for the race.

We camped probably less than 3 miles from the start.  That was sure nice and convenient for a change.  Usually, these races require a long drive early in the morning.  I slept in until about 6:15 AM and then ate breakfast and headed over for the 8 AM start.

I saw Ryan, Janine and Bob and another Bob before the start and I chatted with them for awhile.  Then, I saw Destrie, Maggie and the other Ryan.  That was good because I planned to run early with Destrie.  With the top of my foot killing me since Naked Bavarian, I wanted to take it slow at the start and see how it would go.

My foot was fully rested and I wore KT Tape on top of it the day before.  It felt as good as it had in weeks.  Still, I was unsure how it would go.  I was quite confident that I could run/hike my way through about 25K, but I was well prepared to DNF the 50K if I had to.  That would be tough for one of my big goal races, but I had to do it.

I thought the temperature was perfect at the start.  I had on shorts and a short sleeve shirt.  Destrie was freezing.  I knew it would get warmer, so the roles would be reversed later.

We took off on the announcement.  The race starts with some road running to thin out the crowd.  The 25K is much more crowded than the 50K.  At least the road running is on a bridge over the West Branch of the Susquehanna River.  The scenery is nice.

I let Destrie decide where we would start.  I was kind of surprised at how far up front we started and how fast we ran on the road.  I thought we would be holding back a little more.  It was great to have someone to chat with early on.  I've never actually run with Destrie before.  I've only seen her at races and other events.

After the road portion, it was on to some singletrack.  This is a neat section of ridge running on the side of the mountain, next to the river.  With no leaves on the trees, the visibility was great.  It was a sketchy cliff at certain spots.  There were only minor ups and downs and it was runnable.  I pulled away from Destrie slightly, but not too much.

After a bit of this, it was on to the first climb of the day, Humble Hill.  This steep section is an immediate hike.  It was quite foggy early in the morning.  I started hiking my normal pace, but Destrie fell back a bit.  She doesn't get to train as much as me on steep terrain.  I think all my winter hiking on Mt. Tammany really paid off.

I stopped at one point to rest and let Destrie catch up.  It was early on and I was in no rush.  I wanted to save myself as much as I could.  Her and I chatted for a bit and then I continued on at my pace.  I found this hike fairly easy actually, compared to some of the winter hiking that I've had to do.

It wasn't long and I was at the top of Humble Hill.  I stopped there to wait for Destrie.  About 10 people hiked past me.  I could still see about 10 more people below, so I figured she must've fallen behind even more.  My plan was to stick with her until Hyner View, but at this point, I decided to just keep moving and go at my own rate.  We never agreed to stick together, that was merely my plan to hold myself back.

This next part was flat and runnable.  After being on that for a bit, it was on to more steep hiking.  The next part of Humble Hill takes you to Hyner View.  This was tough, but again I was feeling pretty good.  Usually my back kills me on the first steep climb of the day.  However, I put some cream on it beforehand and that seemed to help.

Hyner View is an amazing location.  You can see up the river and the endless mountains both directions.  That wasn't the case on this day though.  Instead, there was blanket of fog.  It looked amazing though, because the View was above that layer.  It made for a unique view and great setting for photos.  I was hiking near the View, but ran the last little bit.

There was an aid station there.  I grabbed some water and added my Tailwind.  Not surprisingly, Ryan cruised on by.  Then Janine, Bob and the other Ryan followed too.  Destrie still wasn't around though.  Both Ryans were long gone.  I caught up to Janine for a bit, but I wouldn't see her much longer either.  She flew downhill and I was careful.  I did pass Bob.

At this point, the foot was definitely bothering me a bit.  Still, it was manageable.  I figured that as long as it doesn't get much worse, I'll be able to toughen it out and finish the run.  Some of this downhill was quite steep.

I ran some of the it and then I stopped.  I realized that I was already getting hot.  We were now to Johnson Run.  I've run trails through hollows before, so I thought I knew what to expect.  I was wrong.

This section was like nothing I had ever seen.  The trail went back and forth on both sides of Johnson Run.  It was a gradual uphill, but with jumping back and forth and the terrain was rocky or muddy.  It made footing frustrating and my soft shoes didn't enjoy it.  I had to run on old shoes with less rock protection in order to make it through the race.

I basically hiked this.  I was cursing to myself the whole time.  The only thing I took comfort in was knowing that we left Johnson Run about halfway through.  Then, we split off of the 25K course and went straight uphill.  At this point, I was thrilled to get out of there and climb.

This climb was named Sledgehammer.  It is a really nice and grassy woods road.  It is actually runnable, if you aren't in the middle of a challenging 50K.  I heard Ryan actually ran up a lot of it.  I was being very cautious and hiked with a group of other guys.  I chatted briefly but didn't say much.  I don't like to talk to strangers that much during ultras.

I could actually see Janine up ahead and we did gain on her.  She ran parts of it.  We never did quite catch her until the aid station at the top of the hill.  I said hello and that would be the last time I'd see her.  I took my time to fill my bottle with Tailwind.  I'm using a squirt bottle now and it works much better than the last couple races, but it is still slow to fill up.  That was fine, as I was in no rush.

Someone had told me that our extra 25K loop was more runnable that the other 25K.  That was definitely the case.  It was now grassy woods road at the top of the mountain.  I ran a bit and still hiked some, especially when I came to hills.  I was comfortable with my pace and just trying to take on enough nutrition and water and not overheat.

There are some nice and runnable trails here.  I just watched the distance slowly click away.  I was thrilled to make it over mile 10.  I was nearly 1/3 of the way done.  The legs and foot weren't feeling great at the moment, but not terrible either.  I just focused on getting to aid station 12.

Getting there was a huge boost, as my friends David and Ashley were there.  It was great to see someone I know and they filled me up and had me on my way.  I knew this 6 mile stretch would be the longest one without aid, so I made sure to get my water and Tailwind as full as I could.  I had been drinks cups of Gatorade and water too.  I brought along S-Caps and tried to use one of those each hour too.  Every so often, I took a Tylenol to try to reduce my foot issues.

Leaving this aid station it was some smooth downhill running a fire road.  I had passed Bob earlier and he caught me at the aid station.  We ran for a bit.  However, my foot was killing me going downhill.  I mixed hiking in with running.  Bob was steady and eventually he was long gone.  That was the last I would see of him.

What goes up must come down.  I knew there was another long section up a hollow at some point.  I just didn't realize it was here.  Ritchie Run was just like Johnson Run.  Gradual, but wet and rocky with stream crossing after stream crossing.  It was described as a grind on the course description and that was definitely accurate.  I hiked through the slop with two other guys following me.  That was kind of frustrating.  In the beginning, you try to find good places to step.  After awhile, you just go right through the middle of the water.  Your feet get so soaked that it doesn't matter.  After awhile you go from being mad to simply not even caring any more.  You just keep moving along slowly.  The one nice thing about the water was it was numbing my sore feet.

It was such a relief to get out of Ritchie Run.  There was still some climbing on next section of sloppy trail, but at least it was smoother.  I hiked up it and then we got to a relatively flat section.  I kept waiting for what should be an approaching aid station.  I ran some and hiked a lot.  It was getting very hot.

Finally after running through the woods roads at the top of the mountain for some time, I came to an evergreen covered oasis.  It was an area built by the CCC way back in the day.  They had tons of food and it was almost like a party.  It looked like they had camped overnight there.  I tried some chicken broth and some other foods.  Runners just seemed to be hanging out longer at this point.

I had considered dropping out around this point because it was getting hot and my feet hurt a lot now.  However, the aid station's remote location made it easier to just keep going.  I knew I could finish, unless something bad happened.  I just wasn't sure that I wanted to suffer several more hours in the heat on these trails.  I also knew the second half of Johnson Run was coming up.

Since I was on top of the mountain now, I was expecting downhill or flat running.  I knew we would be meeting up with 25K course shortly.  There was some short flat sections up until that point.  We came back to an aid station that we hit earlier.

Next up was Sledgehammer again.  This time, we would be running it downhill.  That would be fun, except my feet didn't agree.  The were killing me.  I could run through the pain, but I elected to mostly just hike.  I figured that I wasn't going to break 7 hours in this race, so any time over that was no different.  This was the most frustrating section to me because it should've been runnable, but to me it wasn't.

Finally, I got to the bottom and it was back to Johnson Run.  I was not looking forward to it, but at least I knew what was in store, from doing the first part of it earlier.  Even this second part went on and on.  A few runners passed me earlier, but then I also passed some 25K hikers.  That helped me a lot.  This time around, I wasn't even bitching that much.  I was just pressing on, watching the miles very slowly tick away.  It did take forever.

I was so relieved to turn off of Johnson Run and get onto dry trail.  However, I encountered more steep and rocky climbing.  That was frustrating, but at least I passed a guy who had passed me earlier.

At the top, it was great to get to another aid station.  I grabbed a bunch of stuff again and refilled.  I was thrilled to be done with Johnson Run.  I mostly just focused on the last big climb, S.O.B.  Since it hurt less, I actually looked forward to those big climbs.  It was better that getting my feet wet.  At some points on the course, there was so much runoff that the trail itself became a stream.

I figured since I was at the top of the mountain, I'd at least have some semi runnable downhill to come.  I was dead wrong.  We were on to Post Draft.  This hollow had no stream crossings.  Instead, the trail was endless huge rocks.  It was so technical that it was nearly unrunnable.  Whenever I would try to run, it would get rocky again.  I was so frustrated.  Some young woman ran by me there.  I told her that I had no idea how she was running down that.  I could've done better if I had shoes with more rock protection, but I still would not have run a lot of it this late in the race.

As with most sections of this race, this seemed to go on and on.  That was the biggest trouble I had with things.  The sucky parts of the course seemed never ending.  Finally, I did come to the bottom.  It was great that I was around the marathon distance now.

I knew the last climbing section was about to start and I was prepared for that.  It started off as a nice stone road, but that didn't last.  I passed a bunch of hikers.  I then got to some steep and rocky singletrack.  I actually enjoyed it as I blew past hikers.  It was steep, but not too steep.  If this was most of the climb, I could deal with it.

I was surprised to be so happy on such a tough section, so late in the race.  It did go on for a long time.  Finally, I got up to the top of this part.  I was far from done though.

I thought S.O.B. was the top portion of the hill, along a powerline or pipeline.  This section was insane.  It was so steep that you basically had to crawl up it.  Some hikers were really struggling.  It was exposed and the sun was beating down and brutal.  However, I wanted to get it over with, so I pressed on.  I made it to the top and enjoyed the aid station.  Some people stayed there for quite some time.  I grabbed some food and ate as I hiked.

I knew after S.0.B. that it was basically flat or downhill to the finish.  However, it was actually easier than I expected it to be.  It started with a lot of easy woods roads.  Since I was beat and surrounded by hikers, I ended up hiking most of it.  I did run some though, but my feet hurt a lot when I ran now.

After a bit, we jumped on to the Spring Trail.  This part was tricky as it was singletrack with some rocks.  I was hiking and then a runner passed me.  I had not seen a runner in some time.  This actually encouraged me to run, no matter how painful it was to run.

I knew the final section before the road was Huff Run.  I assumed since the other two sections named "Run" were just awful with stream crossings and mud, this would be more of the same.  I was very wrong.

I passed a very young 25K runner.  That was quite impressive to see.  She wasn't even a teenager.  I was very shocked to find out the condition of Huff Run.  It was dry and relatively smooth and actually runnable.  I followed the other runner down it.

The weird part was that not only was it runnable, but my foot stopped hurting.  I kept going and going.  Again, it was another never ending section though and I could only run so much.  I passed the guy that passed me earlier.  There was even an actual bridge when the trail crossed Huff Run.

I had to stop briefly here.  Then, I felt my IT band tighten up.  All I could do at this point was hike again.  At least I was finally close to the bottom.  Another guy passed me near the bottom too.  Right before the bottom, there was this last frustrating short uphill.

I was so thrilled to finally see the road and the bridge.  I now knew how far I had to go.  As much as I hated road running, I was happy to be that close to the finish.  I walked the road initially.  I then told myself that I might as well at least try to run it.

I ran slowly, but I ran.  I picked off a bunch of hikers going over the bridge.  I then caught and passed both guys that had passed me earlier.  I knew they wouldn't be able to keep up as long as I kept running.  They were struggling.  Finishing position wasn't important, but I wanted to be finished.

I ran and ran and ran.  Finally, I was on to the dirt road toward the finishing area.  I knew there was a slight trail finish up.  I ran almost all of that, except a very short steep section.  I ran through the finish line.

It was a slow run.  With how I felt coming into the run, I was merely happy to finish at all.  That's especially true when you throw in the weather conditions.  It was a very tough course.  I knew it would be steeper than any course that I had run, but I had no idea it would be so technical too.  It was a challenge and then some.

I saw Ryan, Janine and Bob, as they had finished some time ago.  Nita had finished her 25K too.  I chatted with them some, but they were sitting in the sun.  With about 8.5 hours spent in the sun, I needed some shade.

I grabbed a pizza, but couldn't eat much.  I just stood around for a bit.  I sat some, but I didn't like sitting either.  My feet did hurt, but I was surprised that they didn't feel worse.

I waited for Destrie to finish.  We then hung out and sat down with numerous other friends.  Another friend, Daniel, had run pretty well too.  We spent a couple hours hanging out.  I love after parties at ultras as much or more than the race itself.  It is great to hangout and chat with friends, both old and new.

This was an excellent race and well run.  It was surely my toughest race to date.  With the physical condition I'm in, it was even more of a challenge.  I survived it though.  I'm not sure if I want to put myself through the full 50K again, but I'll definitely do the 25K in the future.

My body is quite beat up.  It is now recovery time.  My quads are still sore and my feet hurt.  The KT Tape that I used was definitely a lifesaver.  I have two weeks until the Bear Mountain 50 Mile.  Again, I'm not sure if I can finish with this foot issue, but I have to try.  I also may need to get new shoes and take a chance.  I can't wear my current old shoes without rock protection on that super rocky course.  Hopefully, I can heal up a bit more in two more weeks.

31 miles - 8:36:30 (16:59 pace) 7456 feet of elevation gain
127th of 155 finishers

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Green Ribbon Trail

The weather was pretty crappy most of the week.  It was cloudy and chilly every day since Monday.  Since I needed more rest to try to heal, I opted not to run at all.  Today, the sun finally came out and it was warm.  Around here, it was windy.  I decided to travel for the run.

A few friends ran the Green Ribbon Trail last year.  It is outside of Philly and pretty easy.  It is about 12 miles long and mostly runs along the Wissahickon Creek.  I decided to take the hour drive there.

The weather was nice when I arrived.  I went with just short sleeves and shorts.  It was nice to be able to do that.  It worked out well too.

I had to use the bathroom, so I started out at Ft. Washington State Park.  It connects to the Green Ribbon Trail.  I followed a cross country ski trail down to it.  I began on a flat, grassy section along a powerline.  I guess this was the Green Ribbon Trail, but I wasn't sure, since it wasn't marked, like other areas were.

I ran along feeling good.  Since it was flat and smooth, I was running fast.  I ran by some people.  One dog even lunged at me as I passed.  I struggled a bit with my breathing, as I'm not used to the warmer weather yet.

I got out about .85 miles and was near a golf course.  This trail was easy, but getting so boring.  I decided that the other direction would be a better option.  I turned around and headed that way.

Mile 1 was pretty fast and I ended up staring at my watch a lot.  I ran along, eager to check out more of the trail.  The top of my foot began to bother me slightly.  I had on my Lone Peaks, but was wearing them with the laces a bit looser.  I guess it still wasn't helping.

After a bit, I finally got on to the fun singletrack part of the trail.  It runs along the creek and through the woods.  At times, my foot bothered me.  Other times, it felt great on the soft dirt.  I ran along.  I came to a busy road crossing (Route 73).  It took me some time to get over it.  That was a much needed break though.

I was done with 2 miles in no time.  I went under the Turnpike and this was quite rocky.  I cruised along, with my foot feeling good at times and bothering me other times.  It really was a problem on a short section of pavement.  Then, I crossed another road.

This part of the trail had great signage.  I followed a turn and came to a water crossing.  It was quite unusual, as they put large stone pavers across the creek and even a ladder to climb up.  I was thankful to not get my feet wet, but this was a bit over the top.  I guess that is what happens in Suburban trail running.

I got over 3 miles, but my foot wasn't getting better.  I wanted to get to 3.1 miles, but I couldn't even do that.  I stopped right before it and turned around to hike back.  It was very frustrating to have my foot bothering me again.

The one positive is that the hike back was good.  Hiking didn't bother my feet.  Still, I wish I could run.  I barely ran at all this week and things clearly aren't getting better.  There is no question that I can't run in these shoes at Hyner.  The question is whether I'll be able to run at all with this issue.

I definitely have to start the race, but this could be a DNF.  I won't run at all this week, so I'll have no idea if I recover, until the race begins.  I'll start out slower and maybe run with a friend.  Even though they don't have good rock protection, I'll need to run with my old shoes at Hyner.  That is my old chance to survive.  I'm sure the bottom of my feet will be destroyed.  Hopefully not the top too.

I'll do all that I can to ice and get my foot ready.  There will be a lot of hiking at Hyner regardless.  Perhaps that will help.  This is so frustrating, going into a goal race.  I'll give it what I have and see what happens.  The tricky thing is that even if I survive, I have to think about the Bear Mountain 50 miler 2 weeks later.

3.07 miles - 29:36 (9:38 pace) 53 feet of elevation gain

Monday, April 6, 2015

Return of Rocksylvania

Things have been tough in the last week, trying to recover from back to back weeks with an ultra.  My foot doesn't bother me during the day, but continues to bother me during runs.  Ideally, I would've taken today off.  However, the weather was just too beautiful to pass up.

It was nearly 70 degrees out, even when I ran late in the evening.  I wasn't used to it and sweating and breathing heavily in the beginning.  Luckily, the sun started setting and it felt quite nice toward the end.

Of course, I could've opt for an easy run, but I rarely do.  I have the rocky Bear Mountain 50 miler in a month.  I wanted to get some time on the terrible rocks of the Appalachian Trail.  I headed to Wind Gap to run the worst section that I can find.  The snow was finally gone and the rocks were back.

I headed northbound from the parking lot.  I started off with some nice and slow running.  I was climbing and breathing a little heavy, but I thought I was doing okay.  Going southbound has a series of switchbacks.  They make it much easier.  This way is straight up.

I thought I made pretty good progress, before I had to hike.  I laughed when I looked at my watch and saw that I only gained less than 200 feet.  I was breathing and sweating too much.  Maybe I could've really pushed myself and made the entire climb, but I didn't want to force it.  Instead, I hiked the rest of the way to the top.  It was a slow first mile.

It was nice to get to the top, sort of.  Once up there, it is mostly ridge running.  However, it is some of the toughest ridge running you will find.  This is part of the section they call "Rocksylvania."  It has so many rocks and so many uneven rocks, that it is almost not runnable.

I was able to move, but at a very slow pace.  Since I was worried about my Lone Peaks hurting the top of my foot again, I opted to switch back to my Speedcross shoes.  I couldn't tell which would be the better option, and I'm still not sure actually.  The difference in the Speedcross was noticeable almost immediately in the rocky section.  It has very little protection.

My feet were taking small, uncomfortable stabs.  I knew these shoes sucked on rocks, but I didn't appreciate the difference until I switched to Lone Peaks and then back to these.  At one point, a rock got me good and it was very painful.

The worst section of rocks was definitely between miles 1 and 2.  There was a short smooth section, but not short enough.  With it being so early in the season, most of the woods were clear and you could see far off to the side.  The problem was that I wasn't able to view more than about 18 inches on each side.  I had to remain so focused on the rocky trail.

These rocks always destroy me and caused me to go so slow.  I've usually come into a run wanting to go out farther, but I end up turning early.  Around mile 2 is a service road crossing.  I haven't ever got out much past this.  I was determined to get to mile 3 today.

Between miles 2 and 3 was slightly less rocky.  The trail was along the ridge though and sloped a little.  It made the footing kind of tricky.  I ran along as best I could.  It was still slowly.

Right as I neared mile 3, I came up to a hiker with a pack.  He saw me, but I turned around before I ever got to him.  It was starting to get a little dark, so this was a perfect turnaround.

Heading back felt kind of good initially.  This stretch was semi quick and runnable.  At least compared to the other part of the trail.  I cruised along until the service road.

Things started to unravel in the final 2 miles.  First, I was losing my concentration a little.  I was running for nearly an hour over this crap.  I was also losing daylight.  The constant pounding of the rocks on my soft shoes were really getting to me as well.

My feet began to hurt a lot.  Both the bottom of my right foot, from hitting rocks and the top of my left foot.  That top has been the problem area.  I think it might've been fine today if I chose a more forgiving terrain or had been able to wear better shoes.

With about a mile and a half to go, I hit the worst stretch.  Last time I ran here, I remember thinking this part wasn't so bad.  With hurting feet today, it was simply awful.  I cursed some and even stopped and hiked briefly.  Mostly I tried to ignore the hurt and battle on.

It was great to be inside the final mile.  However, the damage still wasn't done.  I had to keep going.  Finally, the rocky part cleared a bit.  I still had some steep downhill running.  That hurt my foot some too.  I had to be careful, as I tripped and nearly fell.

It was great to finally get back to the parking area, even if my foot was sore.  I ran a brief out and back on this small access road.  That got me 6 miles and finished off the run.

I wish my foot would heal already.  I don't need to run a lot, but I'd rather not take off all the of next two weeks before my next race.  I iced it for a good hour this evening and I think that might've helped.  We shall see.

I definitely plan on being careful.  I surely won't run tomorrow.  I might not run on Wednesday either.  I don't know if I can take off completely yet, but I do need more rest.  A softer trail might help, as well as re-lacing my shoes so that they aren't as tight.

6 miles - 1:25:42 (14:17 pace) 840 feet of elevation gain

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Still Not Recovered

Originally, I was hoping for a big day of running.  I wanted a quality 20 miles.  It was super windy in the afternoon.  I planned on heading to Trexler, but that place is terrible in the wind.

I figured if I was going to suffer with wind, at least I'd do it somewhere different.  I opted to head to Hickory Run State Park.  I haven't run there in quite some time.  I drove all over the park trying to figure out where to start.

It wasn't too windy when I began, but there was still some snow on the ground.  I wore a jacket over my short sleeve shirt.  I also had on shorts.  The clothing choice was good.

Since I didn't have a map, I decided that I would just try an out and back on the Boulder Field Trail.  There's a giant open field with several hundred yards of boulders.  You can drive right there and I've done so.  This time, I wanted to run there.  The maps said it was 3.5 miles each way.  That might be good enough for today.

I encountered a mother and son who were hiking from the trail.  I asked them and they said there was basically a section of trail that was a lake.  I figured I could cross a little water.  It was no big deal.  I was very wrong.

I started off and it was nice and dry.  Then, I hit some snow and a little water.  Then, I came to the lake they were talking about.  I ran through the freezing cold water.  It was a shock to the feet, but I recovered.  A short distance later, I came to more water.  The trail was basically a stream.  I can run through water here and there, but continuous cold water simply wasn't going to work.  I didn't even get half a mile in and I had to turn around and give up this idea.

I didn't want to call it a day.  There's a smaller loop that I hiked once on the northern end of the park.  It has a view of Lehigh Gorge.  I figured the loop would be around 5 miles, so I elected to give it a try.

I started off here on the Fireline Line Trail.  It was nice and dry.  There was a trail off to the right a short distance ahead.  I followed that and I'm thinking I probably should've stayed straight.

This trail was relatively dry too, but there was some water off to the side.  The real problem now was my body.  My legs were sore and my foot really hurt.  The shoes were still bothering the top of it.  I went out .86 miles.  I was starting to go downhill and it just became too uncomfortable.  I decided to just call it a day.

It was disappointing, but I don't want to force a run.  I need more rest and maybe wearing my old shoes would help too.  At least I tried.  I need to get my foot back to 100% for my big race in 2 weeks.  That is the most important thing.  Maybe I'll just run less and bike more.

I doubt that I'll run tomorrow.  Maybe I'll do so on Monday.  More likely though, it will be on Tuesday.  I'm sure I will ride at some point.

1.19 miles total

Thursday, April 2, 2015

First Nice Run at Merrill Creek

I took yesterday off and got on the bike.  The top of my foot was still bothering me a bit.  I asked Angie to run with me earlier in the week.  We agreed to meet up today.  She suggested Merrill Creek, so we headed there around lunch time.

This was the first warm, springlike day of the year.  It was nearly 60 degrees when we started.  I wore shorts and short sleeves.  The only issue was that it was quite windy, especially with the water off of the lake.  I was chilled, but not that bad.  If anything, I got hot when we were back in the woods.

Angie had never actually run there, just hiked.  I almost always run the loop in a clockwise direction.  That begins with some faster running.  It was already chilly right at the start.

In no time, we were into the first small woody section.  Then, it was out on to the dam.  This is flat and stone covered.  It has a great view off to the side as well as the water on the other side.  Surprisingly, the water was still completely frozen.  I thought for sure that the ice would be broken by now.

We cruised along.  Angie has a race coming up on Saturday, so she wanted to go very easy.  I'm still recovering from the 40 miler, so I certainly wasn't pushing it either.  Plus, I never push these days anyway.

I like the views from the dams, but I'm not crazy about the surfaces.  I also wasn't thrilled with the wind.  I was very much looking forward to the singletrack.  I stopped and took a few photos of Angie running on the dam.

Finally, after the second dam it was on to the singletrack.  This is a fun section.  It has some nice rolling short hills.  I feared there might be some snow and ice and there was.  Most of the time, it was right on the trail and you could simply run around it.  I enjoyed actually being able to run, so I pulled ahead of Angie a few times.  I'd then wait for her and get some photos too.

This section is all runnable and not overly challenging.  However, there are one or two hills that are quite steep and give a decent workout.  That is especially true whenever I run there in the summer.  This might be a good place for trail speedwork.

The miles clicked away quite fast.  Before I knew it, we were on the other two dams.  We went past a guy walking two dogs.

Then it was on to the last main singletrack section.  This is more technical with plenty of rocks and roots.  I find it to be a blast.  Whenever the trail got gnarly, I pushed myself a bit.  I have a very technical race coming up and need to run as much technical terrain as I can in the next month.

I pulled ahead of Angie a bit and then stopped for photos again.  I told her I wasn't running hard, but I also couldn't help myself.  Trails haven't been very runnable in months, due to all the snow.  I had to enjoy the freedom to run again.

As we ran along, there was a section that was a narrow ridge above the actual Merrill Creek.  I yelled back for Angie to be careful.  A few moments later, I hear a thump.  Sure enough, she tripped and fell.  It was a good thing she only had minor scrapes.

After the bridge, there was a lot of snow and ice.  Some mud too, as there was earlier as well.  I ran ahead a bit again, but not much.  We then ran on some more clear singletrack and finished up the loop around 5.5 miles.

It was a nice recovery run.  My foot did hurt a little at the end, but it isn't too bad.  I don't run with others too often, especially during the week, so it is nice to do so.  Angie and I haven't run since around the summertime, so that was great too. 

I think I'll give my foot more time to heal.  I'll take tomorrow off.  If anything, I might bike again.  I don't know what the weather is supposed to be like.  On Saturday, I'm hoping to run at Trexler.  I need a quality run before Hyner.  I wanted to run at Tammany, but I heard it is still a snowy mess.  That's too bad.  I want my trails back.

5.46 miles - 52:35 (9:38 pace) 810 feet of elevation gain