Saturday, May 30, 2015

Busy Day on Tammany

I had no one to run with, so I got out after lunch.  I headed up to Mt. Tammany.  I was hoping to run two loops.  When I arrived, I came across one of the things I worried about running there in the summertime.  It was overcrowded.  They actually had park rangers controlling the parking in the trailhead lot, as well as the lot along the river.  I had to drive back to Pennsylvania to start the run.

It was hot and humid when I started.  I ran without a shirt.  I just had a handheld.  I was soaked and exhausted by the finish.  The starting and finishing made it worse too.

Since I had to park in PA, I had to run over the bridge.  I was exposed to the sun and it was nearly 1.5 miles until I actually hit the trailhead.  I felt like I was running slowly, but looking at my garmin data, maybe I wasn't.

I asked the rangers if this is a typical summer Saturday and they said it was.  I guess I might have to get there earlier next time.  Because of the road running in the sun, I was already pretty beat when I got to Mt. Tammany.  With it being so hot, I knew it was going to be mostly a hike up.

The trail was busy for sure.  I passed a family with a dog early on.  I passed several more hikers too.  Still, the early steep and rocky section was quite the challenge.  I was breathing heavy already and struggling.  I battled on.

I ran where I could, but that was rare.  I knew most of the running would be on the descent.  I didn't stop at the first overlook.  Shortly after that, some guy was being filmed faking an injury on the trail or something like that.  I don't know, but I wasn't amused.  I was glad to not encounter any wildlife or bears on this run.

I made it up the rockiest section, but was still struggling.  I guess I do hike quite fast now.  I saw quite a few hikers resting.  I wanted to do that, but it was just better to push on.  This was a dangerous day for less experienced hikers to be out there.

I went past a couple young ladies.  Of course, I had to run a little after that.  I wish I could run more of the uphill.  I feel like I could now, if only the weather were better.  I need to run slower when I do.

I was kind of surprised to see how quickly I made it to the top.  It was my typical time.  I thought with the heat that it would be slower.  I guess I wasn't hiking any more than usual.

It had been tough getting to the top.  There was a breeze at times.  However, it was still brutal.  If I didn't know the route so well, I might've rested more on the way up.  Near the end, two beautiful young ladies were hiking down.  They looked like twins.  They inspired me to run.   

I didn't stop long at the summit.  I took a photo and was off and running.  I ran on the Blue Trail for a bit.  Even then, I was exhausted running on the flats, over rocks.  I hiked some of that.  I heard a light rattling sound.  Then I heard a few more.  I guess they were grasshoppers, not rattlesnakes.

It was great to get to the downhill portion of the Blue Trail.  I was looking into technical downhill running technique recently.  I think I need to lean back a little more when I run downhill.  I did that and felt like I was flying.

I ran by a bunch of hikers.  One group, I came to at the steepest part.  They moved over and I think I amazed them with how I flew down that technical part and was making quick decisions.  I still don't feel like I'm that fast on this stuff, but I bet I could destroy myself from several years ago.

On an easier section, I encountered a trail running danger.  I tripped on one rock.  That changed my path and I twisted the other ankle on a different rock.  Luckily, it didn't hurt and I went on.

A family was trying to take a photo on another section.  I ended up photobombing them, as I flew by.  I really enjoyed this part of the run.

At the bottom of the Blue Trail, a couple hikers asked if they were heading the correct way to the top.  I told them that they were.  They and their dogs were thankful.

The trail was so busy that they had a ranger at the junction of the AT.  I guess to make sure people going to Sunfish Pond headed the correct way, as opposed to the Mt. Tammany group.  I had to dodge a bunch of hikers on the AT and nearly stepped on a small dog that I didn't see.

It was good to finish the loop.  I just wished my running would be done then.  Unfortunately, I had to get back to the car.  I was back on the pavement and concrete.  This would be a little faster pace, but the sun was brutal.  I ran/hiked this part too.  I was thrilled to get back to my car and finish up.

I'm not sure if I would've done a second loop anyway, but having to do the out and back to my car to get water made it a definite "no" this time.  I toweled off, poured water over my head and hung out around my car for a long time before heading home.  I was beat after this short run.  Of course, a few showers came by on the way home.

Tomorrow, I'm not sure what I'm doing.  Dave is going up there and I'm almost tempted to join him.  It will be later again though and crowded I'm sure.  Maybe I'll bike instead of running.  Monday is supposed to be much, much cooler.  I'm tempted to try 3 or 4 Mt. Tammany loops then.

6.56 miles - 1:23:36 (12:44 pace) 1278 feet of elevation gain
15th Mt. Tammany summit of the year

Friday, May 29, 2015

A Little Longer at Lehigh

I've done some biking and walking, but this combo of heat and humidity is making it tough for me to get out and run.  I had to do it today though.  I waited until the evening, when I hoped it would be cooler.  I headed to Lehigh to run around South Mountain.

Of course it was still in the upper 80s when I started.  I went shirtless, so that helped some, but it was still muggy.  I wore these shorts that aren't very good in the heat and sure enough, they were soaked by the end of the run.

Knowing how hot and humid it would be, I tried to take it even easier.  It does help that this route begins with some downhill.  I had a lot of fun on it and tried to work on my downhill technical a little.  I do take small, choppy steps.  However, I usually lean forward too much, I think.  It is something I'll keep practicing, but it seemed pretty good today.

The downhill was fun, but I knew I would be encountering some uphill after crossing the first road.  I tried to reduce my stride and slowly climb.  My breathing was labored, but it wasn't too heavy.  What made things tough is it flattens out for a bit and then there is another climb.  There isn't much time to recover in between.

There is a temptation to go faster when the trail flattens out between climbing sections.  However, I tried to back off and save myself.  That seemed to work for awhile.  When I was near the top though, I gave in and hiked.  I was mad at myself when I realized that I only hiked about .04 miles.  I thought I was further away from the highest part.

After that, I cruised downhill.  I noticed some disc golfers up above on the course.  I usually don't see any when I come through that area.  I also noticed the pink ribbons were moved around.  I think they are my pink ribbons, but someone switched them.  Luckily, I know the trail by now.

I left the disc golf area and it was on to the technical downhill.  I had fun with this, but I was tiring.  This course doesn't have a lot of recovery opportunities, so it is hard to even find good places to drink my water.  It was getting dark and seeing the rocks was a little tough now too.

For some reason, people were parked off the road but near it when I got to the road.  I ran along, past the overlook of the City of Bethlehem.  Then, it was back on to trail.  There was a little more climbing involved.  My goal was to take it slow.

It was tough getting up the hill, but it is gradual and I managed to make it without hiking again.  The only other eventful part was all the deer running away from me.  In this short run, I must've seen over 10 deer. 

I went to the normal section where I turn to head back onto the pavement.  This time, I turned left and started descending on the rocky switchbacks.  That was fun.  I don't often add this part around the side of the mountain, but it is great, so I'll have to do it more frequently.

I continued to take it easy.  However, there was definitely some climbing and I was losing it.  I knew the last climb would be nearly impossible.  At one point, the climbing just became too much and I started hiking and then stopped my watch to hike back.

I should've hiked a bit and then ran, as the trail leveled out quickly.  One bonus to hiking is I found a new, super steep trail.  It was a shortcut, but it was also brutal to hike up.  It will be a perfect place to practice downhill running and uphill hiking on repeats.  If I get into the Escarpment Run, I will be there a lot.  I've been looking for something this steep for years.  I'm so thrilled to have finally found it.

Tomorrow, I'm hoping to run again.  I was considering Mt. Tammany, but not sure.  That climb will be brutal with more heat and it will crowded for sure.  Someone from T.W.A. said they would join me, but I haven't heard back from them.  Oh well.

5.24 miles - 55:40 (10:37 pace) 606 feet of elevation gain

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Buttermilk Falls and Rattlesnake Mountain (NJ)

I wanted to try running at a new place this afternoon.  I've been meaning to explore more of the trails at the Delaware Water Gap, particularly on the New Jersey side.  I headed to the heart of that area to run Buttermilk Falls and Rattlesnake Mountain.

It was quite the adventure just getting there.  I took a bunch of backroads through the park.  Then, the final road to the falls was a dirt road.  It was washed out in spots, but my little car survived.

It was super hot and humid again, especially in the afternoon.  I went without a shirt.  I'm glad I did that, but I did brush up against a lot of bushes.  I was certainly concerned about ticks.

Buttermilk Falls is great for anyone that doesn't like to hike.  The falls are directly across from the parking lot.  They are very tall.  Basically, you don't have to go anywhere to see them.  I was kind of disappointed to not have to work for a view.  However, I quickly got over that.

There is a trail along the falls of course.  In the beginning, it is super steep and often uses steps.  There wasn't much I could do, but hike.  A few young people were coming down as I was heading up.  I stopped for several photos along the falls. 

I was on my way.  The trail crossed over the creek on a foot bridge.  It was less steep now, but still too steep for me.  I had to mostly hike for awhile.  It was a nice route, but very challenging.  Mostly just steep, but the occasional rocks or roots were there as well.

It was so hot and muggy.  More frustrating was that I kept running through spiderwebs and also was attacked by a lot of bugs whenever I hiked.

After about a mile, I came to Woods Road.  The blue trail continued on up the mountain toward the Appalachian Trail.  Most of the ascending was done, but it was still plenty steep at this point.  I slogged along.

I was very careful in rocky parts.  I was worried that I might see a rattlesnake.  After all, I was heading up Rattlesnake Mountain.  I was thrilled when I finally arrived at the AT, at about 1.65 miles.

The AT was still a combination of running and hiking.  It was narrow singletrack that was often very rocky and also a bit overgrown.  I could run most of it, but it would take a lot of energy and was beat from all of the warm weather hiking up.

I passed a couple young guys hiking the opposite way on the trail.  I came to a few rocky outcrops, but none with the view I was anticipating.  It was quite frustrating. 

At one point, I came behind an older guy who was hiking.  He moved over for me during one of my rare running moments.  A lot of this was downhill, which was frustrating because it would be uphill on the way back.  I sputtered along.

There was a bridge over a creek in the mountain.  That was interesting.  This section was pretty.  I was getting close to turning around.  I had gone out farther than I wanted to.  However, I hate to get close to a view and turn around.  I battled on.

Finally, just before 3.5 miles, I came to Rattlesnake Mountain.  It had an awesome view to the west.  It was about 180 degrees.  I was a little disappointed, as I thought this was a 360 degree view.  Still, it was nice.  Equally as important, I saw no rattlesnakes.

I turned around and headed back.  I was way behind schedule.  I cruised along, running most of the way now.  I heard thunder in the distance.  I crossed paths with the older guy again.  I felt bad when he went off into the woods to move over and nearly fell.

Shortly after seeing the guy, I came to the bridge over the creek.  I knew somewhere in this area was an unmarked and unmaintained trail that supposedly led to the Woods Road.  I found what I hoped was it and headed back.  I didn't want to go through the narrow AT singletrack.

I hit a lot more spiderwebs and came to a swampy area.  I was careful to watch for bears, but luckily, I never found any.  I wasn't 100% sure if I was on the right trail, but this one seemed to be going in the right direction.  It started to switchback down the mountain too.

The trail then opened up into a pretty wide road.  I guess this was the Woods Road.  I was quite impressed with how much easier this route was.  I was running almost the entire time. 

I was frustrated when I went to drink from my bottle around mile 5.  I had no more water.  My heavy phone made me think I had water remaining.  Some of the road had a gradual uphill that I ended up hiking parts of.

I was thrilled to get to the blue blazed Buttermilk Falls Trail much sooner than I anticipated.  It wasn't even 5.5 miles yet.  I began running downhill.

I was able to run the majority of this mile or so descent.  This was quite steep at times and fun and technical running.  This would probably be a good place to practice if I get into the Escarpment Trail Run.  At times, I wasn't even thinking about running.  That is rare.

I did hike the steps at the bottom.  This was just too steep to run down.  I got to the base of the falls.  I was sweating a lot.  I walked over to the falls and cooled my head of there.  That was the nice thing about running by a waterfall.  I need to do that more often.

Tomorrow, I'm not sure what I'm doing.  I'd like to run or bike, but we might actually get some rain.  That would be nice, but might cause me to do nothing.  I've been busy working on putting together the things for the Ten Hours of Trexler anyway.

6.37 miles - 1:44:21 (16:23 pace) 1432 feet of elevation gain

Monday, May 25, 2015

Humid Jacobsburg

It was a long trip back from Indianapolis and I was exhausted today.  Therefore, only a short run was in the cards.  After dinner, I went to Jacobsburg for a 6 miler.  I haven't been there in awhile.

I headed out to start around 7 PM.  That was nice with the sun setting, but it was still hot by my standards, even with shade.  It was over 80 degrees and humid.  I wore a singlet and shorts.  By the end of the short run, my nipples were chafing and beginning to bleed.  I guess I'm probably done wearing shirts for the year.

Since it is Memorial Day, the park was quite crowded.  I saw a bunch of hikers and people swimming along the main path.  I was taking it easy and cruising along.  I tried to enjoy myself, but the humidity makes it tough.

I ran along and crossed the road.  The gradual, short uphills that should be easy were a challenge.  Not only was the humidity a problem, but I'm sure my heavy dinner wasn't settled either.

I saw a small deer along the trail in this part.  It then hopped quickly into the woods.  I didn't see much else on the run.  I knew my pace was a little over 9 minute miles.  I was hoping maybe I could get under that.  First, I had to survive.

The singletrack was fun, as I went along.  Again, the short hills by the 3 road crossings were a slight struggled.  I pushed on and tried to stay consistent.  My breathing was slightly labored, but not too bad.  I just felt like I might throw up.  Luckily, I didn't.  I drank a good amount of water, although I probably never drink enough.

I passed some people walking their dog shortly before the powerline.  Then, I followed someone who looked like Ryan, but he didn't go up the powerline, so I wasn't sure if it was him.  I later saw him after I finished, but he was doing more miles, so we didn't chat much.

Pushing through the powerline would of course be physical, but it was the mental part that was the toughest.  I knew I could run it slowly, but it wouldn't be easy and my breathing would hurt.  I did run it all and I guess I didn't lose too much time.  I was still a bit over a 9 minute per mile pace.

Now, it was on to the final 2 miles or so.  I looked forward to this part, as it was mostly downhill and then flat.  I ripped off some faster miles.  I could've pushed even harder too, but I was working hard enough.  I was making up time too.  I ran an 8:32 mile.

With the road, I knew the last mile would be even faster.  I watched my pace closely and saw it was now under 9 minutes per mile.  I was thrilled.  A lot of people were out fishing, as I crossed over the road.

I ran back to my car with just over an 8 minute mile.  I was disappointed that it was slightly over 6 miles.  Still, it was a good run and I survived the heat and humidity.  I beat my goal pace and finished faster, as I usually do on this route.  Maybe I'm slowly adapting to the heat now.

I'm not sure if I'll run again tomorrow or not.  I've been trying to be careful with my foot and not run too much, but it feels good after this run.  Maybe I'll run again.  I will definitely do that or ride my bike.

6.1 miles - 54:20 (8:54 pace) 372 feet of elevation gain

Morgan-Monroe State Forest Indiana (Saturday)

I got out kind of later than anticipated yesterday afternoon, so I didn’t run.  With no track activity today, of course I had to run.  Rather than go to Eagle Creek Park again, I decided to explore.  Indiana University is about an hour south of Indianapolis.  I decided to check out their campus and run some trails around there.

I didn’t have this too planned out.  I looked briefly at the nearby Morgan-Monroe State Forest.  I didn’t have a map with me though.  I really wanted to go to the Hoosier National Forest, south of Bloomington, but I had no clue where to go there.  I’d never even looked at a map.  Rather than waste time searching for that, I went to the Morgan-Monroe State Forest.  That turned out to be an excellent decision.

The Morgan-Monroe State Forest was on the way back to Indianapolis too.  I also saw the sign for it coming in.  I drove there and it was several miles in until the trailheads and the offices.  I saw a great parking area with a sign for a 10 mile loop.  That seemed like a good idea; however, I figured I should pick up a State Forest map at the office first.  I did that and then helpful lady showed me the trail I drove past earlier and another trail that was about 10 miles and another loop.  I opted for the first loop that I saw.

This was called the Low Gap Trail.  The parking area was crowded, but I managed to grab a parking spot of someone who was leaving.  I figured that with a few cars, there would be people hiking in case I happened to get lost.  Luckily, the trail was very well marked and that didn’t happen.

I needed Tailwind since this was a long run and it is nearly summertime.  Normal folks would’ve called this a nice day for a run.  For me and my body, it was still too hot.  I probably would’ve been going carrying a handheld, but wearing a vest was hot.  It was needed though.  I was soaked and nearly chafing by the end of the run.  It wasn’t as bad the middle of summer, but it made me struggle a bit.
I started off the loop following the signs.  I ran it in a counterclockwise direction.  It started off with some fun singletrack and I was impressed.  I thought it would be a fun run.  Then, I wasn’t sure as shortly after that, I hit a stone covered woods road.  About the only parts of the trail with any rocks were man made ones on the woods roads.

Thankfully, this section didn’t last.  I was back on singletrack a short while later.  This was beautiful flowing singletrack through the forest throughout most of the run.  The early part of it dropped a lot down to a relatively dry riverbed.  It was nice to not have to run through here in the wet season, as the trail sometimes appeared to be the creek.  The scenery was very pretty.  

I ran along the bottom for a little while, and then there was a climb.  It wasn’t bad though.  All the climbs here were made much easier by a lot of switchbacks.  Basically, the entire route was runnable, but I did hike a couple times, to be safe.  There was also an interesting rock overhang in this section.

I cruised along, making good times.  I did take quite a few photos, so that slowed me.  There was a pond that the trail wrapped around at one point.  Then, the trail had an intersection with a shorter loop.  The long way headed into the “backcountry.”  It really wasn’t much “backcountry” and this section was even fairly crowded.  I came across quite a few hikers, including some people with overnight packs.  Later on, I saw some people camping too.

This singletrack was fun and fast.  There was way more elevation change than I expected, so I was very impressed.  It reminded me kind of like a mini version of my WV race.  It was flat running on the ridge or creek at the bottom for a lot of time and then there were several decent ascents and descents too.

About halfway through, there was a road crossing and a big parking area.  This was packed.  They called this the “Backcountry” parking area.  When yappy little princess dogs can hike it, it isn’t really very “backcountry.”

It was flat and smooth along the creek, but quickly climbed as I headed toward mile 6.  I was feeling the heat a bit now.  The climb forced me to hike in spots to be safe.  Had I known what I was up ahead on this route, I would’ve probably pushed through each climb.

I wasn’t crazy about the fast downhill parts.  I knew I started at the top, so even if I flew downhill, I’d be coming back to the top eventually.  That happened as I ran down to the creek.  There were a bunch of boy scouts in the one small creek.  There was nice and flat running for a bit.

Then, around mile 6.5, I started a gradual ascent.  I had to hike this and be careful.  I was doing well though, with the Tailwind preventing me from crashing.  I was just a little hot.  Any chance of running under a 10 minute per mile pace was dashed when I had to hike the hill here.

The trail eventually came out to another woods road.  With a lot of up and down, I kind of needed that.  It would be fast, even if it wasn’t fun.  I crossed the paved road again, as I was heading back.  After that was the worst section of the run.  It was medium sized stones that were very annoying to run on.  I ran on the side of the trail in the small section of dirt wherever I could.

The road split after some time.  I took the wrong way and came to private property.  Luckily, I could bushwhack a short distance to the correct trail.  I came to a parking area at one point and realized it was the other parking area I saw before.  I still had just over a mile to go.

Now, I was having more fun as I was back on to rolling singletrack at the top of the ridge.  Even though I enjoyed it, I was happy to be nearly done.  It was frustrating when I saw another parking area that wasn’t where I started.  The map said it was 10 miles, but the sign at the start did say 10.2 miles.  That was more accurate.

I passed some hikers with dogs, just before finishing.  I had over 10 miles and a solid and productive day.  There weren’t any standout features on this run, but it was definitely some fun and beautiful singletrack.  There was way more elevation gain than I anticipated.  Who knew that Indiana had hills?   
I’ll likely be back here next year to run.  It was a good workout, in addition to being fun.  I was a bit wiped out at the end.Tomorrow is the race, so I definitely won’t be running then.  We’ll be traveling Monday and I’ll be exhausted.  However, I’m hoping to run somewhere in the evening.  We’ll be home, so it will be local.  I look forward to it, although I have had fun out here.

10.24 miles - 1:45:23 (10:17 pace) 940 feet of elevation gain

Eagle Creek Park Indianapolis (Thursday)

We are in Indianapolis now for the Indy 500.  We do this every year.  In the past, I’d just run some of the rail or canal trails.  Now, I’m only running true trails.  Finding places to run in Indianapolis would be tough.
Luckily, we’ve been here enough and I know they have a trail system not far from the track.  It’s called Eagle Creek Park.  I knew I’d be running there.  I also knew it has a fee, which I found out is $6.  That might be good for a family hanging out all day, but it is hardly worth it for an hour run.

The weather was tricky.  It was actually super cold earlier in the day.  The sun was finally peeking out when I started at 3 PM.  I went with short sleeves and shorts.  That was perfect and with the pace being fairly quick; I was even sweating quite a bit.

I parked in the southern lot and it turns out that was perfect.  I was planning to run one of the main trails, the Red Trail.  It was shown as a 6.75 mile loop.  That was a little farther than I would’ve liked, but it would do.  I knew this trail would be flat and fast anyway, so I could cover that distance in almost an hour.  This surely wouldn’t be anywhere near as rugged as my Pennsylvania trails.

I grabbed some water and started the loop in the counterclockwise direction.  That would leave me with some neat running along the reservoir at the end of the run.  The trail was nice and smooth and pretty wide.  It was a wide singletrack.

I was impressed with the trail.  Despite being easy, it was pretty.  It was windy and a lot of fun.  There were some early ups and downs that surprised me too.  I wasn’t expecting that, although it wasn’t too difficult.  The trail flowed beautifully through the trees.

Some early parts went on to old roads.  I wasn’t too fond of that, but those segments didn’t last long.  I went by an ice skating pond which didn’t have any ice obviously.  In the beginning, I was worried because I didn’t see many signs and blazes.  However, the trails were easy to follow and there were signs at every intersection.  I didn’t get lost.

There were a few hikers out here and there.  I came across 3 or 4 runners going the other way.  I’m always surprised at how unfriendly all the runners are out here.  No one says hello.  I don’t expect that from people in the Midwest, but now I’m used to it.

I stopped for a lot of early photos.  My pace was somewhere over 9 minutes per mile for the first couple miles.  The pace was good, but the stops were slowing me down.  I was pushing at a moderate effort, as my breathing was labored slightly.

I came through a fitness trail section, with equipment.  That is something I have no interest in doing on a trail run.  I was hoping not to lose the trail here, because the signs weren’t great, but I didn’t.

Shortly after that and some flowing singletrack, I came to reservoir section.  This part was a stone path in between two bodies of water.  That was neat and it was fast.  I picked it up and was getting closer and closer to having my overall pace dip below 9 minutes per mile.  I took a few quick photos, but not much.

After running between the two bodies of water, it was on to maybe the most fun section of the run.  There was a steep up to start this part.  It was short, but it slowed my blazing pace slightly.  I was pushing quite hard now, as I was around mile 4.  This part was very winding.  At one point, I had to even duck under branches and fly around corners.  It was still not technical, so I wasn’t slowed much.  There were these interesting obstacles in the trees in this area too.  

Apparently, it is some sort of park you pay more to climb around.  It did look like fun.  Some dogs on leashes wanted to run with me here.  I had to dodge a few hikers too.  I was happy to get to mile 5 under 45 minutes (a sub 9 minute per mile pace).  I was cruising for sure.

They had some nice steps and bridges throughout the trails too.  They were well maintained trails.  I was breathing a little heavy still, but happy to not fall off.  My pace remained steady, as I drank from my handheld.

I came to a rowing area.  I figured I had about a mile left.  Shortly after that, I was on a road and then realized I was already at my car.  I finished up just past the parking lot, to get 6 miles.  It was sub 54 minutes (a sub 9 minute pace).

Although I paid basically a dollar per mile run, it was a nice park and a fun workout.  Since the trails were easy, I pushed myself more.  I rarely do that these days.  I definitely need to incorporate some faster trail runs into my routine.  Decent summer weather would allow me to do that more.

Tomorrow is a busy day on the track.  We usually skip the concert in the afternoon.  That will give me time to run again.  I’d like to go to Eagle Creek Park again, but not sure I want to pay to do so.  I may try a different park, if I can find one close enough to here.  Maybe I’ll park nearby and hike in to Eagle Creek Park and save three dollars.  Whether I run or not tomorrow, I’m sure I’ll run on Saturday.  There is no action at the track then.  I’m thinking I might go to the Hoosier National Forest, a few hours away.

6 miles - 53:55 (8:59 pace) 125 feet of elevation gain

Monday, May 18, 2015

Pinchot Trail (Frank Gantz Loop)

I didn't run or do anything yesterday, due to the heat and other things going on.  I had to make it out there today.  I wanted to run somewhere new, but also didn't want to go far.  I had been meaning to check out the Pinchot Trail for some time.  It's just over an hour away, although being stuck in Route 33 traffic, it took much longer.

The main Pinchot Trail is a 23 mile loop.  Apparently, that makes for a great training run loop.  I'm hoping to do that one day.  Since it was already 6:30 PM when I arrived, I opted to just attempt to run the much shorter Frank Gantz Loop.  It looked to be about 4-6 miles, but I wasn't sure.  Frank Gantz did a lot of work for this trail system.

It had rained a bit on the trail before my run and there was some drizzle during the run too.  The rocks were slippery.  It was also foggy out.  I wore a short sleeve shirt and shorts.  The air was damp, but at least the temperature had dropped a lot and I was relatively comfortable.

I took off without my map, hoping I could follow the route.  It seemed simple enough.  I'd be hitting the Frank Gantz section early on.  This was a nice flowing singletrack to start.  It has some rocks and some elevation here and there, but it was relatively flat and all very runnable.

I was cruising early.  There were signs where the Frank Gantz Trail began so I followed that.  The only issue was I expected it to be blazed red, but I guess they now changed the blazes to yellow.  I followed them over some crazy pine trees roots.  They were hard to run on.

It wasn't long and I came through to the loop part of this trail.  I headed off to the right.  The trail was a lot of the same, narrow singletrack.  Some of it was slightly overgrown, but overall it wasn't too bad.  I'd imagine later in the summer it will be worse.

I knew there was a vista at one point.  I was hoping to run to that view.  I came to a sign for it and followed this path through some rocks.  It became overgrown.  I think I was actually supposed to follow the woods road that I had just crossed.  It really didn't matter anyway, because with the fog, I wouldn't have seen much of anything.

I continued back on the loop.  There was a short climb.  Before I knew it, I came out to a woods road.  This time, the trail followed it.  I'm glad the trail was well blazed.  These woods road crossings made it a little confusing.

This part was boring, but at least it was fast.  Early on, I was exploring a lot and taking tons of photos.  Therefore, my pace was so slow.  I definitely had enough daylight out to finish the loop, but not much more. 

Everything was kind of boring and then it happened.  I was running along the woods road and I saw this big animal in a tree.  It was a porcupine apparently.  I've never seen one trail running or anywhere and definitely not in a tree.  I was glad it wasn't on a singletrack section.  I walked in a little closer for a photo, but not too close.  That made my day.  I love seeing new creatures out there.

There were a couple turns in the woods road and I saw a map and a marker.  I think these are used for snowmobiles during the winter.  I thought the map would be helpful, but I was still kind of confused by it.  It turns out, I was going in the correct direction.  I followed the orange blazes (for the main loop) now, as the yellow blazes disappeared.  When the orange trail had reentered, I went out and back on it very briefly.

The woods road then turned back into singletrack.  I was following the orange blazes in what I believed to be the correct direction.  My watch does have a compass feature and shows tracks too.  That definitely helped, but I still was only 90% sure I was headed the right way.  The good thing was as long as I was headed south on the orange trail, I'd come out to the main road and could run back to the car.

Again, things were uneventful on the singletrack.  I went over some boards in a swampy part.  Then, as I was looking down, I noticed a bright orange newt on the trail.  It really stood out and I took a photo before I was on my way.  Some time later, I saw another one too.  That was amazing.

With all the wildlife I was seeing, I kept thinking that I would see a bear.  I didn't see one and oddly, I saw no deer either.  I did see two next to the road later on, but none in the woods.

I got over 4 miles and then at some point got off the orange trail and was back to the yellow blazed Frank Gantz Trail.  It seemed like I was running and running on there.  I couldn't be going the wrong way because this section all looked new.  However, I was over 5 miles and didn't think the whole route would be that long.

I finally, I got to a familiar section.  That was such as relief, as darkness was creeping in.  I wasn't that far out there that I would've been lost in the dark, but finding my way back if I got turned around would not have been fun.  I cruised on back over the roots.  They remind me of what I've seen of the H.U.R.T. 100 course.

I got back to the parking area as I was nearing mile 6.  I ran around the lot until I hit that point.  It was a good run and great to be done.  This is some nice singletrack and I'm sure the loop would be great.  It might get boring after awhile, but I'll give it a try sometime.

Tomorrow is my last run before heading to Indianapolis for a few days.  I don't know where or when I'll run, but I'll definitely run.  It would be nice to get close to 10 miles in somewhere too.  Maybe I'll go to Mt. Tammany, although I think it is supposed to get hot again.

6 miles - 1:21:29 (13:35 pace) 357 feet of elevation gain

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Short Stormy Run

I spent the afternoon at a kid's birthday.  Nescopeck State Park was right near by, so I headed there for my run.  It was around 6:30 PM when I started this short run.  I'd only visited the park briefly before.

It was much nicer up there than I expected weather wise.  That said, it was still quite humid.  I wore a new sleeveless shirt.  I was a little hot, but overall okay. 

I found a trail called the Mountain Loop.  This was the best climb of the park, with several hundred feet of vertical in the first mile or so.  The trail went to the top of the mountain and then came back down.  The loop was only three miles, so I was hoping to add on more.

There was actually a short connector section before the loop started.  This singletrack had a few rocks and was narrow and already slightly overgrown.  I wondered how bad it must be later in the summer.  I don't think the park is that well used.  It's not that big and there isn't much overly interesting about it.

I ran along and eventually came to a sign for the Mountain Loop.  I turned left to head straight up the mountain.  The other way would've been more gradual.  The climb didn't look too tough though.

Early on there was a stream crossing and some mud along the trail.  I couldn't believe that, since it hasn't rained much at all lately.  This must be a messy trail during rainy times.

Speaking of rain, it was dark when I started.  As I was climbing, I heard thunder.  It was also getting much darker to the west.  I could tell a storm was on the way.

It wasn't raining yet though and was still humid.  Because of that, my breathing got labored and I eventually had to hike a bit toward the top.  In non humid conditions, I probably could've ran the entire way up.  It really wasn't that steep.

This part of the trail had been much wider than the connector.  I got to the top and was happy to be heading down now.  I was only a little over a mile into the run.  The wind picked up and the storm was really brewing now.

I tried to move along as quickly as I could.  I knew this loop was so short that it didn't make much sense to turn around.  I might as well just finish the loop through the storm and hope for the best.

Eventually, the rains began to come down.  At first, it wasn't hitting me as I was protected by the trees.  After some time though, it came down quite heavy.  My shirt was soaked in no time.

I was through mile 2.  I just hoped that the 3 miles included the connector trail.  Otherwise, it might've been a 4 mile run.  I crossed a couple more small streams, as the sky darkened.

I went by the Oak Trail.  I would've liked to have headed on to that for some more climbing on an out and back.  However, with the storm I now wanted to get back to my car as quickly as I could.  The one good thing is that I didn't hear any more thunder and only actually saw lightning once.  The rain was unpleasant, but it was just rain.

I then saw a sign for the loop.  I thought I was at the connector trail.  It turns out this part came out on to a road.  I knew where I was and decided to take the road.  After a short bit, it turned on to the main road.

I hate road running, but I figured if I somehow ended up struck by lightning, it would be better to be on the road than in the woods.  I ran along on the road in the rain.  It seemed like forever.  Eventually, I was over mile 3 when I made it back to my car.  I was unscathed; just a little wet.

I got some elevation on a short run.  However, there was nothing interesting about the trail at all.  No wonder it isn't used much.  It would be great if there was a view somewhere.  I might run there again if I'm in the area, but I certainly wouldn't make a trip there.  I think it is fairly popular in the winter with XC skiing.  Maybe I'll try a snowshoe run there in the future.

I'm not sure what I'm doing tomorrow.  Originally, I wanted to run with Destrie, but today was a long day for me.  I'll probably just stay local and perhaps run with her later in the week.  I'm heading to Indiana in the middle of the week and on to next weekend.

3.4 miles - 36:19 (10:40 pace) 506 feet of elevation gain

Friday, May 15, 2015

Back to the Emmaus Trails

I tend to stick to a lot of the same trails.  I love trails with big climbs or lots of rocks.  I like the challenge.  Today, I wasn't very motivated to run.  Therefore, I decided to head to South Mountain (Emmaus) to run somewhere that I don't go to very often.

There is nothing wrong with the trails there actually.  They are really nice and a lot of fun.  It is just a far drive for me and the trail system doesn't have a lot of miles.  It is mostly best for shorter runs, which I was planning on today.  I had not run there since I organized a group run there last year.  That was almost a year ago.

The weather was nice, around 75 degree and a little humid.  However, that was still too warm for me.  Even going slow in the early going, I was breathing heavy.  I had on a short sleeve shirt.  I actually had some chafing issues when I was done.

I ran along the flat stone section first.  This provides a good warmup before doing some climbing.  I passed a group of school students with their teacher.  The school day was likely over by that point.

I was then on to the Orange Trail.  This is a fun singletrack.  It is mostly smooth with some rocks and climbing here and there.  I ran pretty much all of this part. 

When I organized the run here last year, I couldn't find the Red Trail for some reason.  I now knew it was near the giant boulders.  I found it this time and headed out on the singletrack.  I was breathing heavy and tried to keep a slow pace.  I couldn't go much slower though, unless I just started hiking.

Eventually, I came out to a powerline and a view.  I've always had trouble finding the other trails in this area.  There's another powerline and I ran past it.  I then found the Purple Trail that I was looking for.

This trail was tough as it was singletrack in the woods, but basically the same grade as the powerline parallel to it.  I wasn't sure how long the steep climb would go, so I hiked a bit of it.

I then came out to the powerline.  I crossed over and found the continuation of the Purple Trail.  I followed that for a bit.  I was really enjoying this trail and appreciating how much fun it was.  I should definitely run these trails more often.  The were pretty on a lovely spring day too.

I then came out on the Red Trail again.  I was now at a different part of it.  I can't quite remember, but I think I climbed a little bit.  Then I came out to what I guess was the Blue Trail.  It almost looked purple.  I ran on this for awhile and came to the powerline again.  I thought this was the same Purple Trail from earlier, but it wasn't.  I headed back to where I came from and found the other loop of the Blue Trail.

I was around 4 miles at this point.  I was going to run the Yellow Trail for a bit, but I wasn't quite sure how long the loop was and how to get back down the mountain.  Therefore, I simply went back and followed the Blue Trail.  This was fun now that I was descending most of the time.

Eventually, I was back into the Red Trail.  There were some quite steep and rocky parts.  I went pretty fast now.  I then rejoined the Orange Trail to finish this loop.  There were a couple small stream crossings and a lot of fun downhills.

I was finally on the flat at the bottom.  I ran back on the connector trail and finished up the run.  I was over 6 miles when I was done.  It was the perfect way to spend the afternoon.

I really enjoyed the run.  No doubt that I would come here more if it was closer.  Still, I should at least get there a couple times a year.  They are good trails and probably awesome trails for speedwork too.  I could really push it on this singletrack.

I have a party to go to tomorrow afternoon.  I'm hoping to run some in the morning.  If I do that, I'll be beating the heat too.  Maybe I can run at Lehigh Gap.  That could be fun.  I haven't been there since the winter.  I might run with Destrie on Sunday.

 6.21 miles - 1:11:11 (11:28 pace) 657 feet of elevation gain

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Northern End of the Mason-Dixon Trail

I like to combine runs and trips whenever possible.  Today, I was headed out to a dirt track race in Central PA.  I looked at routes and saw that the Mason-Dixon Trail cuts through the area I was driving.  It sounded like a lot of rugged fun.  I think this part is where Destrie’s 100K on the trail ends in a month.
I want to go to this park with a great view to start.  However, I never could find it.  I did find the blue blazes along the roads near the Susquehanna River though.  I drove down to a boat launch area and the trail continued on pavement.  I walked briefly and scope it out and saw that it went to trail in a short distance.

The weather was much cooler than it has been.  It was nearly perfect for a run.  I wore shorts and a short sleeve shirt.  I had on my visor too.  It was so comfortable that I was able to run for over an hour and a half without any water.

I ran down the paved road for a bit.  I passed a woman and a dog.  I think she was hiking with a baby too.  I got on the trail and it was nice and fun.  It was flat and along a small creek.  I followed this and then lost the trail.  It looked like it might continue across the water, but I couldn’t tell.  The woman was still behind me, so I thought I was going the right way.

I crossed the creek at a fairly deep spot.  The water went high up on my knees.  I then found the trail on the other side.  The only issue was a no longer had any blazes.  It was either a poorly marked trail or I missed a turn.  This still looked like a decent sized trail along the creek, so I continued on it.  I crossed the creek again later and continued on.  After this creek crossing, the trail did end.  I had to back track.

This did make for a nice warmup.  I kept looking for the trail’s turn as I headed back.  Finally, I realized it was at a log.  There was no blaze on the log to indicate a turn.  It ascended steeply now on a switchback.

This section was absolutely crazy.  It was maybe the rockiest section of trail I’ve been on.  I’ve never been on the Escarpment Trail, but I’d imagine it is like that.  I was slowly climbing over these huge, sharp rocks.  At times, I noticed the trail went around the rocks.  However, it was usually on steep ridge and I kept losing it.  I picked my way through this section, which was only probably about 1/3 of a mile.  It took so long though.

I was glad to be through that section.  For some time, I was wondering if the whole trail was like that.  Luckily, once I was at the top, it wasn’t.  It turned into a smooth singletrack along the ridge.  There were some moderate ups and downs, but it was a lot of fun.  There were views of the river through the trees.

I continued along, moving at a decent clip.  I figured that I’d run until around mile 3.  I hoped to find a nice view at some point.  The trail got quite interesting at certain points.  It was a narrow ridge with a steep drop below.  I had to be cautious.  One part had a steep switchback. 

I was enjoying myself as I ran.  I figured if the trail ever started to drop steeply, I’d turn around.  At one point, it had a decent drop, but I could see it was still high on the ridge.  I kept going.  I was glad I did, as the trail led to a couple rocks and some semi decent river views.  Nothing was totally open, but it wasn’t bad.  I bet there are great views in this section in the winter.  Of course, I wouldn’t want to be on these ridges in the winter.

After one of the views, I saw the trail did start descending.  It was over 3 miles into the run and over an hour into the run, so I turned around.  I had enough for the day.  It was fun running back.  I ran most of the way until the super rocky part.

I was hoping to run a little more of that part.  However, it was still slow and I had to pick my way down.  If this is the end of the 100K, it is a crazy way to end it.  The only good thing was that this section seemed much shorter going down than it did going up.  In no time, I was headed back to the road.

The road part kind of sucked.  However, it did provide an awesome open view of the river.  There were a few people boating.  There were also these cool windmills across the river.  I ran back to the car and finished up at over 5 miles.

I actually found the view area that I was looking for, as I was leaving in my car.  I took a few photos and it was a spectacular view.  It was a good thing I didn’t run from there though, as the trail was all roads.

This was a nice run and it was fun exploring.  It isn’t too far away, so I might have to go there more often.  The Mason-Dixon Trail is kind of a good halfway point between Destrie and me, so it might be a good place for us to meet for long runs in the future.

I got home late and am quite tired.  I’ll see about running tomorrow.  I’ll definitely do something.  It might just be riding the bike.  It depends how the day goes.

5.25 miles - 1:35:12 (18:08 pace) 1129 feet of elevation gain