Thursday, July 30, 2015

Some Easy Wind Gap Running

I wanted to get some elevation in today.  However, I have a race on Saturday, so I couldn't go too crazy.  I saw that 800 feet of gain would get me over 35,000 feet of gain for the month.  I decided to head to the AT in Wind Gap, for some short climbing.

There was a big thunderstorm in the afternoon.  Therefore, I didn't get out until the evening.  It was still hot and humid, but I guess a little better than it has been.  I was drenched by the end anyway.

I decided to head southbound first on the trail.  I thought about doing 3 repeats here, but I was unsure.  Last time here, I surprised myself by completely running 5 repeats.  Early on today, it was clear that that wouldn't be happening.

I didn't get too far before I had to hike.  I didn't want to put up too much effort.  The rocks were wet and slippery and that made it tough.  Also, the trail was overgrown in spots and the leaves were down due to the rain.

I made it to my usual spot.  However, that involved quite a bit of hiking.  I just wasn't feeling good.  Near the top, the trail was pretty overgrown.  I turned and headed down.  Even that was slow with the overgrowth and slippery rocks. 

I got to the bottom and decided that I would only go about halfway this time.  Again, it was hiking and running.  I ran until my watch went over 650 feet of gain and then turned and headed back. 

I refilled my water at my car, as I was sweating a ton.  I now headed northbound.  I ran some, but hiked a lot too.  The other direction uses switchbacks to climb.  This side doesn't, so it is steeper.

Running this with the wet rocks was tricky too.  I got near the top and over 1,000 feet of gain and headed back down.  I had hit my goal for today.

I was surprised to see some people hiking up as I was finishing on the downhill.  No one else had been out there on this evening and it was getting late.  Then, I finished up and a young couple went up to hike and were asking about the conditions on the trail.

I had less than 4 miles, but I got the elevation gain, so it didn't matter.  I was happy with this easy run.  I didn't overdo it before the race.  I'll rest tomorrow and race on Saturday.  It is supposed to be hot, so that could make the 45K interesting.

3.64 miles - 58:00 (15:56 pace) 1004 feet of elevation gain

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Hot and Humid Short J-burg Run

It was another brutally hot and humid day today.  I opted for an evening run again.  This would be tough though, as I ate at Buffalo Wild Wings beforehand.  I had about an hour rest, before heading out to Jacobsburg.  I have not been there in a long time.  I was just looking to do the standard 10K loop.

I assume it was still in the 90s or near the 90s when I started before 7 PM.  At least the sun was starting to set.  I went shirtless and knew I had to take it easy.  I never felt too bad, so I guess I'm adapting okay to the heat finally. 

I knew I had to go nice and slow, not just due to the heat, but the full stomach too.  I got into a nice groove.  The early hills seemed super easy.  There were a few people out walking the main path.  Then, I was quickly on to the singletrack by myself.

I went steady uphill.  I got to the one powerline and noticed all the trees were gone.  I heard PP&L did this.  I saw a deer there and for some reason it ran away, even though I was nowhere near it and not going near it.

I felt okay, as I approached mile 2.  A lot of the rocks seemed wet.  I guess perhaps it rained earlier in the day.  I'm not sure.  I continued my uneventful cruise along, over the multiple road crossings.

It was smooth, so my pace was solid.  Really, I figured I'd just be happy with a sub 10 minute pace.  It looked like I'd be well under that too.  There were quite a few mountain bikers out.  I saw one near the creek.

I then began to head up the powerline.  This was slow and steady.  Some mountain bikers were walking their bikes up it.  I passed them and was surprised that they didn't pass me back on the downhill.  I knew I just needed to get up this hill, because it was much easier after that.

I saw more mountain bikers near the crest of the hill.  I was thrilled when I finally reached the top.  I then opened it up and little and head down.  My pace increased of course and it looked like I was now well under 9:30 pace too.

The rest of the run was flat and easy.  I saw a dog walker.  I then got onto the road.  After that, it was through the other part of the powerline.  This section was cleared too and now it looks really ugly.

I came back through the woods.  Then, it was on to the parking lot.  I finished up just past my car.  I knew I was under a 9:15 pace, so I was very happy with that.

This was a good day to take it easy and do something different.  Tomorrow, it is back to climbing.  I'm hoping to do some Wind Gap AT stuff.  Either a couple out and backs or hill repeats.  Then, I'll rest up before my 45K on Saturday.

6.19 miles - 57:00 (9:12 pace) 402 feet of elevation gain

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Recovery Tammany Double Loops

Although my feet were sore after the Escarpment Trail Run, I felt pretty good on Monday.  I recovered well.  My feet are really my only issue these days.  I thought about running the next day, to push my body.  Instead, I decided to rest.

I wasn't looking forward to today's run.  It was super hot and humid.  If it didn't reach the 90s, it was close.  I ran shirtless of course.  I went in the evening, so although it was hot, it didn't bother me too much.

I went to Tammany with the goal of running two loops.  As I was waiting for my GPS to find a signal, the guy parked next to me, said "race you to the top."  I was confused because he was wearing hiking boots and hiking clothes.  He sure didn't look like a runner.  He had a couple minutes head start.

I ran the usual parts early and starting hiking the steep stuff.  I couldn't afford to push much.  I felt pretty good, as I climbed.  I could see the guy up ahead.  He had told me his name was Jeremiah. 

Somewhere near the first overlook, I caught him.  We hiked and ran together, chatting a bit.  He comes up here a bit too, but clearly not as much as I.  At the boulders, he took a different route up.  I climbed fast as usual and pulled way ahead.  I never saw him again during the run.

It was good to get to the top, but I didn't waste much time.  I ran some of the ridge part of the Blue Trail and hiked other parts.  I made the turn and was hiking the flat rocky part.  I decided to look into the bushes and about 50 yards away, I saw a bear.  I guess they are more frequent at night.  That far away is how I'd like to see a bear.

I ran on down the technical stuff after that.  The sun was setting and I was getting some glare in my eyes.  It made running this junk quite difficult and slow.  There were some hikers out at this time, but not too many.  There was what looked like a Jewish group of some sort.

I pushed slightly when I got to the more runnable part at the bottom.  I cruised down the AT.  I made it back to my car at just under 56 minutes.  Jeremiah was pulling out and we chatted briefly.

I didn't waste much time toweling off or refilling water.  I had not used all my water for the first loop, but I didn't bring enough water for myself either.  I really only had about half a handheld now.

I was a bit hot, so I knew this second loop would be much more hiking.  I began to climb the technical stuff and realized that my legs were super sore.  I'm not sure if it was the heat or not quite enough recovery or maybe both.  I knew this was going to be a tough climb, but also a good test on tired legs.

It was mostly just a hike up.  I wasn't anywhere near as fast, but I still gained on a hiker.  I just kept pushing on and on.  Knowing this route so well is both a blessing and a curse.  Once I make it past the boulders, I know a lot of the climb is done.

I was careful around the top, in case the bears were around.  I saw some hikers being quiet and looking into the woods.  I think maybe they saw a bear, but I didn't bother to ask.  I just wanted to get to the view.

The view had a beautiful sunset.  I stopped briefly.  I again ran some of the ridge Blue Trail section.  I was so beat now though and basically out of water.

The bear was nowhere in sight on the Blue Trail this time.  One of the nice things now was the sun went behind the mountain in spots.  I could run a little more.  Still, I was tired and my shoes seemed loose.  My feet were slipping and sliding all around.

I didn't think I'd make it under 2 hours with how beat I was, but as I was in the middle of the descent, I realized that it was very likely.  I cruised on down, running fast where I could.  Not my best running here, but it would do.

Before I knew it, I was to the waterfalls.  A dog barked at me there, but at least didn't chase me.  I ran back on the AT and really pushed.  I knew I'd be under 2 hours now and I was happy to do so, as I finished at my car.

I soaked my Buff in the creek and cooled off a bit.  It was a challenging run, given the conditions, but I managed.  As long as I don't run the whole time, I'm able to do okay in the heat.  I guess I'm adapting some.  I'm still slow, but better than I was.

Maybe I'll finally get myself to take it is easy tomorrow.  It will be even hotter.  I should probably just crank out some Jacobsburg miles for once.  It has been awhile since I've been there.

7.31 miles - 1:58:32 (16:12 pace) 2373 feet of elevation gain
Mt. Tammany Summits 32 and 33 of 2015

Sunday, July 26, 2015

2015 Escarpment Trail Run Race Report

I love the challenge of technical races.  When I first heard about the Escarpment Trail Run in the Catskills, I knew I had to do it.  It's a very challenging 30K put on by Dick Vincent.  The race is now in its 39th year.

The race has qualifying standards and a lengthy qualifying process.  It's billed as "For Mountain Goats Only."  I'm not a mountain goat, but at least I try to train like one and get on the toughest terrain I can find.  I knew there were some sections that were literally climbing to get through the rocks.  I feared this course a lot because I knew I'd be slow in stuff like that.

I didn't get much sleep.  It was pouring when I grabbed breakfast and left for the race.  I was glad it was warm.  The clouds parted, at least until I was finished.  I met a bunch of fellow Trail WhippAss folks at the start and rode the bus over with Joe.

The race now goes off in wave starts.  That allowed me some time to prepare and also watch some of the front runners.  It turns out that the slowest predicted times were put in the middle, so that they could finish around the same time as some faster people.  In order to get in in the future, you have to break 6 hours.  That was my prediction and only goal, not knowing the course.

I ran with a hydration vest because I was unsure.  With climbing, I didn't want a handheld.  The vest was nice, but then I had to wear a singlet and it was soaked a few hours in.  That said, I never did overheat.

The trail starts off with some beautiful singletrack through evergreens.  I hiked up to the top of Windham Peak yesterday and was surprised at how relatively runnable it was.  It was a long and gradual climb.  There were some steeper and technical parts, including some roots, but most of it wasn't too bad.

That said, this stretch was a big early mental challenge.  I had to mix in running and hiking.  Doing several miles seemed like it took forever.  I couldn't wait for the top.

I had passed Kat (a friend who I started with) and another woman early on.  Our group got split up into 2 packs I guess.  I was sort of leading the second pack.  I think the one guy did eventually pass me.

I wasn't doing bad when I got to Windham, but I did feel like I could be doing better.  I looked forward to some downhill.  What caught me off guard in the early going was some of the short, but steep climbs.  They took their toll and my legs didn't feel great.

I knew I had to stay focused and take it either each aid station at a time or each climb.  The trail is remote and the aid stations had to hike everything in.  They were great!

I was mixing running and hiking already at mile 7.  That was frustrating.  I expected some struggles, but I figured that that would be later in the race.  I just wanted to get to the aid station at the bottom of Blackhead.

I finally did that and took a lot of time there.  I refilled my Tailwind, but it took so long.  Somehow, I need to find a better system.

I knew Blackhead would be the worst climb of the day.  It is 1100 feet of gain in less than a mile.  The beginning didn't seem too bad as I hiked up.  It did go up and up and up.  The toughest part was near the top.  It was straight up climbing and a lot of work.  To make it worse, it seemed like I'd go up a lot it was only about 50 feet or so.

That said, as tough as this climb was, it was still over quick and I was about halfway done.  I was somewhere near 3 hours at that point and on pace for a sub 6 hour run.  I had heard that this run was slightly faster in the second half.

Going down Blackhead was just as tough as up.  First, my foot cramped.  Then, my calf.  Those muscles were overextended, so I was more careful the rest of the way.  Going down, I often just slid on my butt from there on out.

The cramping potential made me cautious and so did my shoes.  With all the rain overnight, the rocks were wet.  I slipped a couple times while hiking, so I couldn't run downhill like I'm used to.  I'm also used to Tammany, which is a wide trail.  Therefore, it has many options, so I don't have to take a direct line down.  Here, it is a singletrack, so you have no choice.

As I headed toward the next aid station, I decided to take a gel.  I wasn't doing too bad before that, but not great either.  This gave me a huge boost and I started running pretty strong.  I ran and chatted with a road runner for a bit, as we headed to the next aid station.

After the aid station, I now knew we were on to the final climb, to Stoppel Point.  This was another gradual climb.  I finally felt my climbing fitness kick in.  I passed a bunch of people going uphill.  When it got flat, part way through, I used the energy from the gel to run by some people.

I was thrilled when I finally got to the top.  There's a cool plane that crashed in the woods there.  I took a couple photos.  There was a lot of fog today too and that made for some great photos as well.

After the plane, I still ran often, but did have to hike a bit too.  Going downhill slowed me and some of the people that I passed earlier had now passed me back.  I figured I'd still have enough time to get under 6 hours.

Then I was concerned.  We got to the last aid station and I asked another runner if we were going to make the cutoff.  We had about 2.5 miles and 50 minutes to go.  I don't think he had a watch, because he said it was going to be tough and some of the worst miles ever.

The good thing is this scared the crap out of me.  I ran super hard on this flat section.  For awhile, the trail wasn't bad.  It was flat and runnable and then it would go down some shitty rocks and then become flat and runnable, then more shitty rocks. 

There was a half mile section in there that was just brutal and I was merely hiking.  After we came to a photographer, there was a lot more runnable trail to the end.  I ran a lot, but still got passed.  I chatted with a woman from the Philadelphia area.

I opened it up and cruised into the finish.  I was thrilled to do so with over 16 minutes to spare.  I was beat, but happy with my run.  It was a tough race for sure.  I was surprised at how much runnable trail it had in between all the shit.  At least I can come back in the future.

I do have to figure something out with my foot.  It was killing me after I finished.  Now, it is good, but it was sore on the ride home.  Maybe I'll try running again tomorrow anyway.  I doubt I'll run much this week with On the Rocks 45K coming up on Saturday.

18.6 miles - 5:43:09 (18:25 pace) 5119 feet of elevation gain

178th of 219 finishers

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Shoe Test on Rugged Terrain

I took a couple days off after the hot run on Saturday.  Those rest days had brutal weather.  Today was a little better.  The plan was two Mt. Tammany loops.

It was still fairly hot, so I went shirtless.  At least a lot of the run was cloudy and some light rain fell at times.  That probably saved my butt.  I was happy with how I handled the weather.

I mainly wanted to go up there to test out some shoes for the Escarpment Trail Run this weekend.  It is a super technical and rugged course.  While I don't mind my New Balance shoes, I really feel the rocks.  I had laced my Altra Lone Peaks different and it seems to work better.  However, I wanted to try them on some gnarly stuff and see if I would wear them this weekend.

I got to the parking lot and began the run a little before 2 PM.  It was slightly crowded, but not bad.  The trails weren't too busy.  As usual, I ran in the beginning briefly.  Then, it was on to hiking and being conservative.

Last time I was here, I felt awful at the start.  My legs seemed pretty good today.  I probably didn't hydrate enough beforehand, as my calves seemed a little tight.

I moved up in what seemed like a swift pace.  For some reason, I was really careful around the rocks.  Maybe it was because a guy in the western part of the state died from a rattlesnake bite and it was on my mind.  I don't know, as I'm usually not worried about it.  I tried to run or climb on top of the rocks where I can.  I had good balance and flew through the boulder section.

I passed an older lady hiking after that.  It looked like her daughter and granddaughter might've been waiting for her higher up.  Not long after that, I saw another older lady with a family, who looked almost the same.  I think she just had three grandkids with her, including a boy.  They were disappointed that they weren't at the top, but I told them they were nearly there.

I hit my 30th summit a short time later.  When I had seen that last group, it was the area that I saw the bears last time.  I was glad they weren't there this time around.  I thought about telling the family about that, but decided not to.

I stopped briefly at the summit and was on my way.  I ran a little of the ridge part of the Blue Trail, but I still hiked plenty of it too.  As always, I was thrilled to hit the downhill part.  I cruised on that.  Now it was time to really test the shoes.

The shoes seemed to cushion the rocks pretty well.  I definitely like that.  I had the heel locked in tighter with the new lacing system, but I still did twist my ankles a few times, more so than in my New Balance shoes.  I also thought maybe the laces were putting pressure on the top of my foot at one point, but then it didn't bother me any more.  I slipped on some wet rocks a couple times.  That is a concern.

I didn't see any bears in the woods when I looked around.  I think I passed a few hikers, but I'm not even sure.  I cruised a bit when I got to the AT.  I ran by a few people, including a big group that was hiking.  I got back to my car in about 57 minutes.

I toweled off, refilled my water bottle and was on my way.  I think I stopped for about 2 minutes.  I headed back up.  My legs seemed a little beat now.  I really wanted to try to get this loop done before the 2 hour mark.  I was sweating a lot, but getting used to it.

I tried to hike up at a decent clip.  I'm sure I was a little slower though.  I ran some short parts on the way up.  As usual, it was still mostly a hike.  I came across the family again and they were impressed that I was going for another loop.  I guess they had a good time up there.

I pushed on.  I wasn't nearly as steady on the boulders this time.  I did take 100 calories of Tailwind, but that was all my nutrition.  I wiped away a lot of sweat.  I made it up a second time without a bear sighting.  My watch was at 1 hour and 28 minutes when I got to the top.  I took a quick photo.

I figured I could probably make it down in 32 minutes.  However, I didn't want to chance it.  I decided to run most of the rocky ridge.  That would help me make up time.  I can run it, but it is ankle twisting and often frustrating, so I frequently hike it.  I even ran the very rocky part right before the descent.

I ran the downhill, but stumbled a little early.  I wasn't as sharp as before.  I was still able to run though.  Then, I decided to buckle down and really focus.  When you focus, you can glide downhill and fly over rocks.  It is just hard for me to concentration for too long.  My feet felt better, as I opened it up more and didn't touch the ground as much.  I have more issues when I'm cautious, than when I just run free like this.

I was breathing a little heavy, but not too bad.  It felt good to run at a different clip and dance over the rocks.  The big group was hiking up now.  They were really blown away that I was running down this stuff.  Practice certainly helps.

I got to the bottom and crossed the bridge by the waterfall.  I really pushed on as I headed down the AT.  It was clear I'd be a few minutes under 2 hours for the run.  The question was by how much.  As I neared the bottom, I tried to break 1:55.  I was able to just do that.

It was a productive run and I'm happy.  I'm still undecided on my shoe choice.  That may not come until the day before or day of the race.  I love the Altra's ability to handle rocks.  I'm very concerned about slippery rocks though and twisting my ankle, especially in the later stages of the race.  I also haven't gone long in them since I beat my feet up at the HAT 50K.

I may test them out again on Thursday.  That should be my last run before the race on Sunday.  I'd like to go to Tammany again, but I'm not sure.  I'm going to try to camp with my dad at Hickory Run State Park these next two days.  I may just run there.

7.08 miles - 1:54:52 (16:13 pace) 2349 feet of elevation gain
30th and 31st Mt. Tammany Summits of 2015

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Stupid Humid

I wanted to go to Tammany this morning.  A massive thunderstorm rolled in when I was going to get up for that.  Therefore, I passed on it and slept some more.  By then, it was too late, so I headed to Trexler.

I got there later than I wanted to, after lunchtime.  I knew it was going to be crazy hot and humid.  I figured that this would be a good way to test my adapting out.  Of course I went shirtless.  I was drenched and struggling all throughout this run.  Even getting some creek water didn't help much. 

I always struggle here with water.  If I take more than a handheld, then I have to wear more clothing and equipment.  My handheld is really only good for about half the loop though.  I definitely had to do the shorter loop in these conditions.

I started off from the Environmental Center.  I knew to take it nice and easy.  I cruised along the new Border Trail.  I walked up the new hill.  I wanted to be very careful.  I ran again and then even walked up the hill by the bison.  I almost never do that.  It was exposed and hot though.

For awhile, I didn't see any course markings for Quadzilla.  Then, they were everywhere.  Those guys make the course easy to follow.  I was surprised to see the grass isn't shorter the day before the race.  It is okay, but usually it is outstanding.

I ran along the early flats and downhills.  I knew I'd hike quite a bit of the long uphill.  I did that.  As usual, the dogs were barking.  Again, I was trying to be super conservative here.  I was feeling it already though.

As I started through the grass, a mountain biker was on the side, on his phone.  He would later pass me on a downhill.  Some people were having a party in their yard.  That looked like more fun than this run.

I was looking forward to getting out of the exposed sun.  I was glad to do that, but then the hills came.  My legs had nothing.  I don't know if they were dead, the heat was sapping all of my strength or lugging around my heavier shoes was an issue.  I found a way to lace my Altras differently so that I wouldn't have too much pressure on my feet.  Only issue was they were still too loose and sliding around some.  I do love the cushion of them though.

Even hiking up the false hills was tough.  I was dragging and I wasn't much past mile 3.  I pushed on though.  The big hill nearly killed me, especially where it was exposed.  I wanted to stop and rest.  I continued on, focused on making it to the creek.

The second decent hill was a struggle.  I was so thrilled to make it to the creek.  The crossing was interesting.  Not only was it high, but it wasn't clear.  I carefully moved across the rocks.  I wanted to enjoy the water anyway.  I dipped my Buff in the water and poured it over my head.  That helped, but it didn't last long.

I had seen the mountain biker stop, but never did see him again.  I walked the uphill toward the zoo.  Two people were hiking and one was smoking.  I came out to the open field.  As I was going up the grass, I saw Aaron (and his son) and Mel marking the course.  I figured I might see them somewhere.  We chatted briefly and I was on my way.  I saw a runner and dog coming down the hill.

I walked a lot of the grass.  I wanted to get back into the shade.  I was so destroyed already though.  It was hard to even get back to running.  I did run when it was flat.

This part I was in is one of the easiest parts.  However, I couldn't really run even the slight uphills any more, without overworking myself.  I hiked a lot.  Getting myself to run was a big challenge.

I crossed the road and dipped my Buff in the small stream.  I hiked up hill after that.  I ran when it flattened out.  I wanted to put my Buff in the big creek, but it was too muddy.

The normal muddy section after the bridge was very muddy.  I crawled my way up the long hill and headed to the jeep road.  I struggled to even run much of this mostly smooth and flat road.

I knew the rolling hills would be tough.  Normally, they are runnable.  However, they are exposed and it is a gradual climb.  I ran some, but mostly hiked.  I crossed the road and struggled along some more.  It was more uphill and I mostly hiked again.

I finished the loop right by the Environmental Center.  I was so hot that I needed a drink from the building water fountain.  I stood in the shade for a bit.  I then sat in the car with the A/C on for a long time.

I've adapted to the low to mid 80s, but the 90s will always kill me.  I nearly did the 11 mile loop in better weather in the same time as it took me for the 9 miles today.  I was over 40 minutes slower than my PR here.

Tomorrow is Quadzilla.  I will be watching it.  I have Escarpment next weekend, so I'll be resting a lot this week.  I have to make a shoe choice, so I might test my Altras out once or twice this week.  That is probably about it though.

9 miles - 1:56:50 (12:59 pace) 1604 feet of elevation gain

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Shortened By Bears

My feet were recovering from the spring.  However, they never got back to 100%.  I pushed my training out to 6 days a week and 12,000 feet of elevation gain last week.  That was too much and now my feet are bothering me again.

Because of that, I've backed off this week.  I took two days in a row off.  Yesterday, I would've run, but we went to dinner.  I decided not to bother with running afterward.  Today, the plan was two Mt. Tammany loops.  I haven't been there in over a week.

The weather seemed like it would be nice.  I wore a singlet.  I was sweating heavy and breathing a lot early on.  I guess the lack of tree cover wasn't helping.  I did feel better as I went along.  I took my shirt off during the second loop.

In addition to running and hiking, I brought my GoPro.  I wanted some cool video.  I have some from the winter.  Eventually, I want to make a video of all the seasons at Tammany (since I'm there so often).  I think I got some pretty cool shots.  It did slow me down though.

I don't know what it was, but I felt like complete shit from the get go.  I guess two days off didn't make me rested.  I was tired, my calves were sort and I had no energy.  I ate before getting there.  I was only doing two loops, so I pushed on.

Some guys were impressed to see me running.  However, that was one of my rare running moments.  The parking lot was packed, but there weren't too many hikers.  When I arrived at the summit, I saw a few.

I ended up hiking a lot of the ridge on the Blue Trail. I still had no energy.  It was good to get downhill.  That was a mix of running and hiking, since I was taking videos too.

I smelled something and saw a lot of flies, but I wasn't sure what it was.  I'm thinking perhaps bear scat, but I never actually saw it.  It must've been fresh, whatever it was.

I saw a pink shirt on my way up.  I never caught it with all my stops.  I saw it again on the way down.  Still, I was stopping too much.  I ran past a family that was loud.  I thought that that was too bad because they were likely scaring away the bears.

I finally caught the woman in the pink shirt.  She was hiking with her daughter.  Earlier, a guy was carrying his son in a pack while hiking.  That would be a lot of work up there.  It was fun to be running downhill, even though my feet were bothered some.

I got to the bottom and stopped briefly at the waterfall.  I took some photos and videos.  A few people were swimming.  I headed back on to the AT.  Then, I was back at my car.  With all the stops, it was a slow loop.

I refilled my water, toweled off and headed back up.  I ran past some people early on.  I was trying to push more this time.  I felt maybe a little better now, but it still wasn't great.  I tried to run a little more, since this was my last loop.

My body felt beat, as I pushed on up.  I was grateful to get near the top.  Then, it happened.  I came out to the flat, false summit and a bear was standing on the trail with two cubs.  It was quite close, maybe 10 yards away.

I had been wanting to see some bears up there for some time.  However, this was probably a little closer than I would've liked.  I simply stopped and yelled "go away bear."  It looked at me and walked away, down the trail.  I yelled a second time too.

I think these bears are too used to people.  I was basically near the top and wanted to finish the loop.  However, the bears really weren't moving.  They went into the bushes a little, but I could still hear them near the trail.  I think the cubs were on the opposite side of the mother too.  I probably could've made it through okay or pushed them out, but I decided it was wiser to turn around.  I was concerned some people coming from the summit would push it toward me.

I went back down the Red Dot Trail.  I almost never do that and it has been a long time since I have.  It was hard to run much, since it is so technical.  That is especially true since I was tired.

The trail is also much harder to follow this way.  Taking the correct route over the rocks is difficult.  In the most technical section, I warned some hikers about the bear.

Later, as I got closer to the bottom, I warned another hiker.  This guy said, "oh, they are there all the time.  Was it a mother and two cubs?"  I guess he hikes there even more than me.  He also apparently had an air horn to scare it if needed.

I ran some near the bottom.  It was over 2 hours into the run.  I got a lot of gain, even if I didn't go all the way to the top.  I was glad to be done and back to the car.  Although I didn't go all the way to the top, I did enjoy the bear encounter (once it was over).

Tomorrow, I'll be taking off again.  My feet need more rest.  Eventually, I think I need to try different shoes.  I'm hoping to get back to Tammany on Saturday.  Anywhere from three to five loops would be great.  I'll probably rest a lot next week, before the Escarpment Trail Run.

7 miles - 2:17:04 (19:35 pace) 2259 feet of elevation gain
29th Mt. Tammany Summit of 2015

Monday, July 13, 2015

Sourland Mountain Gasline Repeats

I wanted to go to Tammany yesterday.  However, all the elevation I've been doing lately is taking its toll.  I definitely could've run, but I woke up sore and thought it was wise to take the day off.  I had to put in some good work today though.

I thought about going to Tammany.  A group of the T.W.A. was meeting in New Jersey to run gasline repeats.  I'm a sucker for elevation, so I headed there.  It looked like they might be runnable repeats too.

I got there and it was a little humid in the evening, but there was a bit of a breeze too.  I wasn't sure what to wear, so I wore the group's singlet.  It worked out okay, but of course it was soaked by the end.  I probably should've went shirtless.  I'd take this weather any time.

I started off following Dave and this guy Tom.  Tom has done this before, so he explained the route to us.  He wasn't going fast, so I took the lead.  I tried to start off easy, not knowing what was ahead.

A lot of it was flat in the beginning, with a few rocks.  It was very runnable.  The middle section got quite steep.  Once it got to the point where my breathing was labored, I decided to hike.  I didn't hike too much and I was able to run again.

I ran past someone, Sally, who had started earlier.  She was hiking as I ran by.  I ran most of the way up.  There is this flat part that I guess people often turn around at.  I kept going, because the trail was still going uphill slightly.  I was running now, as I was through the steepest part.

I didn't know where to turn around, so I just finally did so when I got to this post.  It was around a mile out.  It was about 400 feet of gain for each repeat.  Solid, but not tough.  If I really pushed myself, I could've run the whole way.

Of course, it was fun to run back down.  I did sort of feel a little pressure, as I was leading the way.  I saw everyone on the way up.  Dave wasn't too far behind.  I took a nice and comfortable pace down. 

I got done with this one and rested briefly.  It was very brief though.  I passed a group of Asian hikers.  They were kind and I told them of the other runners.  I was hoping to run more this time, but I couldn't get myself to do it.  My breathing just became too labored over short stretches.

When I got to the flat part, I ran by Elaine (who sort of led the run).  She apparently had just got engaged.  That was kind of awkward for me.  She told me and I said "congrats" and kept going.  I didn't know what to do.  I finished the repeat.  I caught Sally, who was hiking again.

I ran back downhill.  There were a couple guys that passed Dave and they looked to be gaining on me.  I was curious of the gap I had and it looked like 2/10th of a mile.  They looked very smooth, so I thought they might catch up to me.  I didn't push, but I didn't take it as easy as I would've either.

I finished up the 2nd repeat feeling well.  I headed up for a 3rd time.  This one went by pretty quickly too.  I was concerned on the downhill, because my knee began to act up slightly again.  I kept going though and it didn't bother me much.

I started up for the 4th repeat.  I hoped for one more after this.  I noticed the fast guys weren't coming back down.  I figured that Elaine must be holding them up top for photos.  I was correct.  When I got there, we had to do jumping photos.  I had them make it quick, because I was trying for another repeat after this. 

I was on my way shortly after the photos.  I ran from this point until the turnaround.  I then headed downhill.  I still didn't push hard, but I did go a little faster this time and opened it up more.  It was fun.

I was looking at my pace and it didn't appear that I could run sub 11 minute miles, but I was cutting down on my pace.  I headed back up for a 5th and final time.  This would put me over 2,000 feet of gain for the run (on my watch).

I would've liked to have run this whole time, but I was starting to tire now.  Amazingly, I didn't even finish drinking from my handheld.  Usually, I need more water than that.  I was over 7 miles too.  I went up for this one and most people were finishing up their last one (doing less than me).  I ran basically the same stretches as before and hiked the same ones too.

It was great to be to the top and cruising down now.  One of the fast guys was coming up to do another loop.  I think that was his 4th one.  He's the only one other than me to do that many.  I stayed well ahead of him.

I finished up, but still had to run back to my car.  The connector trail is in the woods.  It was getting dark fast now.  I didn't have any trouble seeing the roots or rocks.  I'd like to come here again sometime and run the actual trails.  It seems like a fun place.

I got back to my car and everyone left.  I was a little surprised.  It didn't matter anyway, as I wouldn't have been able to stay long.  I needed to get back home and it was already nearly dark.

This was a productive run.  It was good because I was able to get some elevation, but it was also runnable elevation.  Maybe I'll head back there one more time in the summer.  It is too far to be a regular group run for me.  It's better for the locals.

Tomorrow, I'm not sure what I'm doing.  I have to go to the doctor in the afternoon.  Maybe I'll try the long Trexler loop in the evening.  I'd like some more elevation, although I really could back off now actually.

9.25 miles - 1:43:46 (11:13 pace) 1774 feet of elevation gain

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Looping Around Big Pocono

I didn't sleep well last night, so I didn't end up going to Mt. Tammany.  You need to get there early to beat the crowds.  I thought of going to Lehigh Gap, but then decided on Big Pocono State Park.  I haven't been there in a long time and Destrie has been looking for ski slopes to run on.  It is next to a ski slope, so I wanted to do a recon.

I ran shirtless again.  The weather was nice though.  I was sweating of course, but it was very cool by the end of the run.  Having lots of tree cover was perfect too.

The plan was to do several shorter loops.  I wanted to get a good amount of elevation gain.  I parked on the top and cut out some of the old rail trail parts near the bottom.  Parking up there gives a great view of all the surrounding mountains.  It's pretty amazing.

I actually started just below the main lot.  I headed down on the Scout Trail.  Then, it was descending on the South Trail.  This was way rockier and more technical than a recall.  I managed to run down it, but I had to focus.

I passed a family hiking at one point.  I had fun going down the switchbacks.  It then leveled out some and went through some boggy areas.  I went around one of them, through the bushes.  The trail began to descend some more.

This was a nice trail, but uneventful.  The South Trail ends and then turns into the North Trail Lower Loop.  After some more downhill, I came to the junction of the old railroad bed.

I took the left to begin the ascent.  The start of this is cool, as the railroad was cut through some rocks.  This section is a very gradual climb.  I was already coming to mile 3 and I had not done any tough running yet.  I had a mere 50 feet of elevation gain.

I was thrilled when I finally got to the North Trail's climb.  I ran a lot of the beginning, over some small streams.  The trail flattened out briefly.  This is a good climb, but it also has a series of steps to to it.  It is steep, flattens out for a bit and then is steep again.  I was able to run quite a bit.

There is one very steep part that I didn't run.  It has loose rock too and that makes it tough.  I planned a few loops, so I had to be conservative. 

Near the top, the trail runs along the ski slope.  I noticed that the route I took over the winter was overgrown a little.  I stayed on the more clear trail.  It didn't really make a difference.

It was good to get to the top.  I arrived back at the car at about 48 minutes.  I toweled off, refilled my water bottle and headed back out for a second loop. 

The first loop was 4 miles long.  Only one of those miles (the final one) was a challenge at all.  I was laying down a good pace.  I decided that this would likely be my last loop.  Then, I'd just out and back the climbing mile after that.

I really flew through this loop, the beginning anyway.  I was more comfortable on the rocks now and just cruised downhill.  A hiking couple I saw earlier was climbing back up to finish their loop.  I continued to descend.

I got to the old railroad in no time.  I ran on this flat part, pushing a bit and getting my breathing slightly labored.  I wanted to push a little until the climb.

I got to the climb a little beat.  I ran a little less this time, but not too much.  A woman was hiking with a man and her pack.  I ran up past them and they were impressed.  I still hiked the steepest part and hiked a few other segments too.

I finished the second loop around 1 hour and 50 minutes.  It was good to be done with most of the run.  Again, I made a brief pit stop at the car.

Now, it was time to descend once again.  I cruised on down.  I passed the couple, still on their way up.  I also passed another couple.  The woman was carefully going down a rocky section that I flew down.  Oddly, my leg started to hurt a little toward the bottom.  Maybe all the descending this week is finally catching up to me.

I turned around at the railroad bed.  It was time to go back up a last time.  My leg felt better on the uphill.  My foot was blistering a little, but not too bad.  I got soaked earlier in a water section.  I hiked a lot more this time.

I was really tiring.  I'm not used to running so much.  I was only hiking on this part of the trail.  When I got to the top, I wanted more gain.  I ran on the road and then got to the very top of the park.  There was a big wedding going on there.  Luckily, I was able to turn off before getting to them.  They didn't need to see a sweaty shirtless guy.

I headed back down the trail and connected with the road.  I ran back to my car, a short distance on the park road.  I finished up with 11 miles.  I was pretty beat and beat up.

This was a solid run.  It capped a big week for me too.  I think I ran 12,000 or 13,000 feet of elevation gain.  I've definitely never done that much during a training week.

Tomorrow, it is time to climb again.  I'm planning on doing 5 loops at Tammany.  I have to get there in the morning.  This is two weeks from Escarpment.  I think I'll back off a bit after this run.

11 miles - 2:19:59 (12:44 pace) 2432 feet of elevation gain

Friday, July 10, 2015

Bushwhack Run/Hike

I spent most of the day shopping with the family.  I was just going to do something easy later on.  I didn't get started until almost 7 PM, so I had to go close by.  I went over to Phillipsburg to run the Warren-Highlands Trail.

It wasn't as humid today, but the temperature was still warm.  I went shirtless and almost regretted that.  I didn't feel bad, but I went through tickland.

I went to the trail by the parking area and as I suspected, it was high grass.  Luckily, I knew you could go down the road and get on a better section.  I did that and headed on the trail.

This is a great section of singletrack.  It is a beautiful little climb up on a ridge.  It is only about 200 feet up, but it is tough.  I don't know why, but I always struggle there.  I did run the whole way up it, but I was huffing and puffing.

After the climb, there is another beautiful section.  Then, it splits off with the yellow trail.  I stayed on the trail I was on.  This was a mistake.  It was overgrown in no time.

It was next to impossible to run after a short distance.  I just hiked.  I could still find the trail, but I was nearly bushwhacking.  I guess no one had been there to do any trail maintenance all summer.  It's bad, since it could be a great place.

I was cursing over and over as I went through this.  I figured it was less than a mile though, so I didn't want to turn around.  Some branches were down at one point.  I was wondering if this was from deer or another hiker.  I almost felt like my last trip there, in the winter, was the last time anyone went through this section.  I may have to think about clearing the trail myself in the future.

I thought I'd come out to a wider trail sooner than I did.  I finally got there though.  This had some high grass too.  I continued to follow the trail out through the farm fields.  At this point, I was simply looking for a road to get back on.  I didn't want to go back through the trail.

The section was cut fairly well through part of a farm field, but was very high near the road.  I had no desire to go through there.  I started to follow the farm road, but I was on private property then, so I turned around.

As I headed back, I heard a dog in the field.  I thought, "great, just what I need a potentially aggressive dog."  Luckily, it just barked and didn't chase me.  I now wasn't quite sure what to do.

I headed back toward the trail.  I remembered taking a wrong turn in the fall and ending up on a woods road that came to another farm.  I knew this wasn't far from the road, so I thought maybe I'd run through their land briefly to get to the road.

There was higher grass here too, but I had to go, as it was still the best option.  I was disappointed to see super high grass around the farm field.  I tried to follow a storm water trail earlier, but it didn't work.

At this point, I wasn't too high up from the road.  Worst case, I had to figure out how to bushwhack.  Lucky for me, I did spot some kind of slightly overgrown path.  This went down to the road.  It was actually in better shape than the marked trail, although it still sucked.

I hate roads, but I've never been so happy to find one.  It was getting close to dark.  I was also grateful that I knew the roads I was going on and they were lightly traveled.  I did have to watch though, because there are some blind curves.  I made it back okay though.

I washed off very good and checked for ticks when I got home.  I hope that was enough.  If I don't have any of those and no poison ivy, then I'll be very happy.

Tomorrow, it is back to a more normal run.  I'm heading to Tammany for more loops.  I'd love to hit 5 or even 6.  It may be tough, as I'm probably running on my own.  Mentally, that becomes challenging.  It is a good challenge for sure though.

5.19 miles - 1:09:37 (13:25 pace) 759 feet of elevation gain

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Deerpath Sanctuary and Turkey Hill Preserve

I needed an easier run today.  I felt like trying something new too though.  I decided to head over to Jersey and run another section of the Highlands Trail.  I knew I could at least get miles, since the Highlands trail is very long.

I headed out in the afternoon, as storms were coming in the evening.  It was still humid as hell, but it felt better than the last two days.  However, I was still soaked from head to toe by the end.  I can't even imagine how much worse it would be if I wore a shirt.

I went to the Deerpath Sanctuary and Turkey Hill Preserve.  I actually wanted to start at Jugtown Mountain Preserve, but wasn't quite sure where to jump on the trail.  Even where I was at, I had to park on a stone pull off next to the road.  The trail was a short distance to the right.

It started with some nice singletrack and a good climb.  It was runnable though.  I did run for quite some time, even though I was breathing heavily.  I didn't have much of a chance to warmup.

This trail was decent, but nothing special.  It was mostly a grassy trail through the woods.  I'm not sure it is used too often.  At least they kept the grass reasonably cut.  That was my biggest worry coming into the run.

I was glad when the trail finally started to descend.  It came out to a cool springhouse.  I was then on Turkey Hill Road.  I was disappointed that I had only gone about 3/4 of a mile on trail.

One of the issues with the Highlands Trail is that it goes on a lot of road.  The good thing with this road is at least it was going uphill.  It was a long and gradual climb.  My legs felt much better ascending than they did yesterday, so I kept going.

I was probably on this road over a mile before it flattened out.  I ran on it until about mile 2.  Then, I saw another road that appeared to have a view.  This went downhill a little.  I followed it to a "No Outlet" sign. 

I turned around at 2.2 miles and headed on back.  I already had quite a bit of climbing in the bag.  I was now descending down the road.  Near the bottom, I felt the urge to go to the bathroom.  I decided to walk downhill for a bit.

I then got back on the trail and ran some more.  At the powerline junction, I took a right to climb.  This was okay, but not the steep climb I was looking for.  It was gradual.  I turned around within half a mile.

I headed back downhill on the powerline.  I continued on it all the way to the bottom.  I had some more bathroom issues, so I hiked a little more.  Luckily, I had no real problems with that.  It was starting get hot on this exposed section.

I turned around and went back up when I was near Route 78.  I went back on the original Springhouse Trail.  I was nearly to mile 6 when I got close to my car.  I was curious where the other trail went, so I followed it.  A short time later, it came out to the powerline.  I headed back to the car and finished up with over 6 miles.

This run did allow my legs to recover.  I wasn't expecting a great run on this new section, so I won't complain.  It certainly wasn't worth the drive out there to run, especially with such little actual trail mileage.

Tomorrow, I'm not sure what I'll do.  Maybe I'll take it easy again.  Maybe I'll crank it up and do more repeats.  It depends how I feel.

6.09 miles - 1:06:57 (10:59 pace) 676 feet of elevation gain

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Up and Over the Katellen Trail

I put in two tough days this week.  I figured I'd still climb, but make it a little easier today.  It rained a few times in the afternoon, so I headed out in the evening.  I went to the Katellen Trail, near Wind Gap.

I went shirtless and was sure glad I did.  It was still incredibly humid and that kicked my ass.  I was soaked from head to toe.  My shoes didn't dry out from yesterday and now they were a mess.  I was just happy to be done.

This trail starts with a very slight uphill.  It gets pretty steep about 1/3 of a mile out.  Even before it got steeper, I was hiking.  My legs weren't sore sitting around today, but they sure felt dead once I started moving them.  Combined with the humidity, it just wasn't worth pushing too hard.

I was also careful because there are a lot of rocks and I figured they would be wet and slippery.  Luckily, I had no issues.  I ran some of the climb where it was sort of flat, but most of the way was just a hike.  It was good to make it to the top at about 580 feet of gain or so.

I then ran across the powerline and on to the AT briefly.  After that, it was back down the woods road on the other side of the mountain.  This is more desolate and I'd be shocked if I ever saw someone running or hiking here.  They must drive vehicles up there some times though.

I cruised on down the hill, but it was rocky and washed out in spots.  The rain didn't help.  It seemed like quite some time before the trail began to descend steeply.  Finally, it did just that.

The bottom was a mess.  I'm not sure what they are doing, but there has been some construction going on.  Some stones had been places over pipes.  That was annoying, but brief.  It was very muddy in this area.

I continued on down pretty far.  I went around a cornfield, once I was at the bottom.  I ran out a little farther than when I was here last year.  Eventually, I'll follow the road the entire way out.  Tonight, this was enough.

I was over 3 miles when I turned around.  I knew the climb up would be tough.  I started off by running, but that didn't last long.  Not only were the legs not feeling great, but it was muddy and took too much effort to run up through the construction area.

I just hiked a lot of the steep stuff.  I ran at times where it flattened out.  However, the humidity was getting to me and it was bothering me.

Near the top, it sounded like rain and looked cloudy.  I felt the temperature drop.  No rain ever hit though.

I got back on the AT and ran by 3 young ladies.  They looked like thru hikers and were kind of cute.  They said, "hi" and then "bye" as I flew on past.  Maybe I should've stopped.  I wanted to make sure I would beat the storm if one was coming.

I ran back on down the Katellen Trail.  I went comfortable, as I didn't want to fall.  I ran past a guy near the shelter and a hiker was later getting water.  Near the bottom, when I heard the spring, I decided to stop.  I was going to cool off, but the water wasn't too easy to get to, so I didn't.

I had to go up briefly.  Then, it was back down the trail.  I was careful over the steps, but cruised after that.  I was done a short time later.

It wasn't a great day, but I survived.  More humid days like this could kill me.  I sure hope they don't last, as I recently felt like I was actually being productive.

Tomorrow, I'm not sure what I'll do.  I might have to take it easier.  I don't think I'll go Jacobsburg easy, but maybe South Mountain.  That could still be a decent day.  It is supposed to storm.

6.15 miles - 1:23:29 (13:35 pace) 1349 feet of elevation gain

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

First Port Clinton Repeats

I didn't run yesterday.  I was about to go out in the evening and a storm blew through.  It would've been dark when I headed out, so I opted to pass on a run and make it my only rest day of the week.  I had a tough day planned today anyway.

Last year, I saw Jim Blandford was leading weekly hill repeats at Port Clinton.  Actually, they are more like mountain repeats on the AT.  I wanted to get there last year, but didn't make it.  I finally was able to make the trip today.

Of course I pick just about the worst summer conditions to do it in.  It was crazy humid and the temperature was in the mid to upper 80s.  Definitely not my kind of weather.  After a rough start, I surprisingly survived.

Jim said he was going to get there early.  I parked in the lot and began to hike my water over to the trail.  I wasn't quite sure where we'd leave water.  The Schuylkill River Trail runs up a short bit from the start.  I was hoping we'd leave stuff there and skip the rock steps at the bottom, but we didn't.

Somehow I lost everyone as I went back to the car looking for them.  They took a different route that I was unaware of.  I was now behind, as they all had started. 

I didn't quite recall this trail from the winter, but I knew it would basically be a hike up and a run down.  I went up the steps.  I then headed up the real part of the AT.  It was a complete slap in the face.  Forget running it, it was even hard to hike up.  I'd have to guess that the beginning is about a 30% grade.  The humidity was only making it worse.  I struggled and was sweating a ton early.

We were only going up half a mile, but this seemed to go on and on forever, as I hiked.  Jim and a few of the others were heading down as I was going up.  I asked this guy Mike where the turnaround was and he told me two logs that are together on the trail.  There were more stone steps to climb up and that made for some tough hiking.

Near the top, I got a boost.  I saw two people hiking ahead of me.  At least I was catching someone.  It flattened out a little near the top, but really wasn't worth trying to run, so I just hiked.  I did run the last little bit when I saw the two logs and and the two people in front of me resting and drinking.

I wasn't sure how long they'd stay there.  They ended up leaving not long after me.  I was now descending.  The beginning wasn't bad, as it wasn't too steep.  Still, I had to be cautious.  There were some rocks and it was wet.  I knew I could fall at any moment if I didn't pay attention.

The woman, Brooke was behind me.  I could hear her coming, but I knew there weren't good places to pass.  She then faded back.  I found out later that she took a bathroom break.  The steep section at the bottom was interesting.  I was able to run it, but was very cautious.  It must be fun if you can really hammer it.

I got to the bottom and had a drink.  Brooke came down a little later and we chatted briefly.  We headed out together, but I was hiking much faster.  I pulled away from her.  My legs were getting beat up with this decent hiking pace.  I was glad to get to the top of this beast again.

I thought I might've missed the logs, since I was alone now.  However, I found them.  People left water at the top, but I didn't.  I'll have to do this next time.

I headed down again.  I was still cautious.  I saw all the others coming up.  Everyone was encouraging and Jim was giving high fives. 

I felt good going down on loop 2, but I was in for a shock at the bottom.  I felt like I was really overheating and beat.  I originally wanted 5 repeats, but now I wasn't sure if I could do more than 3.  I was definitely going up for a 3rd one regardless.

I took some extra time at the bottom to cool off.  Brooke came down and I let her lead this time.  We had a great time chatting and it made the climb more manageable.  Her pace was better for me and much easier.  It allowed me to conserve energy on the ascent.  It still seemed like a big climb, but at least I wasn't hurting too bad.

We ran down together.  This time, I took the lead descending.  I had a rock in the front of my shoe and that became rather annoying.  I ran on though.  I was just happy to not fall.

I felt much, much better after repeat #3 than I had #2.  It was clear that I'd be heading up for a 4th one.  Brooke led the way again.  This was definitely her last one.  I was unsure.

Again, the slower pace and company was a huge help.  Although the climb still wasn't easy, it actually seemed like it was getting easier.  I almost started to enjoy going up.  I felt better too.  Either it was less humid now or I was adapting better.

I led us down on this one as well.  It was a nice and easy cruise.  The legs were beginning to feel it slightly.  When I got done with this one, I felt fine.  I had to go for a 5th one.

Jim was at the bottom this time.  He had already done a bunch of repeats before I even got there.  He went up with me.  Although he can go faster, he went my pace and we chatted.  I picked his brain on some stuff on this repeat.

When we got to the top, I let him lead down.  I know he's faster.  He was in no hurry though, so I ran behind him.  I wasn't expecting company for this loop, so that was great.  Everyone else had finished up as I was ascending this time.

The quads began to feel it a little on this 5th one.  I stumbled slightly here and there too.  I made it down with no problems though.  I could've probably done another one, but I didn't want to push it any more.  I also drank most of my water.

It was a productive day.  I set out to do what I wanted to do.  I got some more great elevation (over 3,000 feet of gain).  I met some new people and had some good company.  I also battled the heat and humidity and won.  I just wish this was closer, so I could do it more often.  I'll have to get back there at least once more before this summer is up.

With only 2 runs so far this week, I've already put up some crazy gains.  I'm over 8,000 feet for the week.  I might get more gain tomorrow or I may just pick something easier.  Perhaps I'll do a section of the AT or maybe I'll try the longer Trexler loop.  I'll decide depending on how I feel.  I doubt I'll be sore, as I feel good now.

6.85 miles - 2:11:22 (19:11 pace)  3338 feet of elevation gain
5 repeats (mileage and pace not quite accurate)

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Another 4 Tammany Loops

I didn't get out to run on Saturday morning and I was at a Fourth of July party too late to run in the afternoon or evening.  I took a zero day.  I knew I had a big day upcoming anyway.

I was going to Mt. Tammany again for loops.  I figured anywhere from 4 to 6 loops, depending how I felt and whether I really wanted to push myself or not.  It would be anywhere from a quality day to a tough day.

Earlier in the week, it looked like another big Trail WhippAss party there.  However, the number of people coming decreased as time went on.  Some people were there and doing other stuff, like Ryan.  I got there before 8 AM.  Ryan was late and Mel had said he was coming.  Daniel did a loop before me and he waited to do more loops with me.  Finally at 8:15 or so, the two of us took off.

I was unsure on attire.  It was a bit chilly at the start.  I opted to just go shirtless, since I knew the shirt would be coming off after a few loops anyway.  That was a good choice, as the climb already had me sweating.  I was soaked, but by the end, but it wasn't too bad.  Some areas have trees without leaves, so it can get up hot near the top.

Daniel and I took off nice and easy.  We hiked a lot and ran a little on the way up.  The company and conversation kept me distracted.  The pace was easy too.  There was no need to rush.

When I had been driving up, I came through a lot of fog.  I was hoping it might still be there and luckily, some of it was.  I got a cool picture of the fog rolling over Mt. Minsi.  That was worth stopping for.

We cruised down the Blue Trail.  The rocks were fun and it was nice and easy.  The trail was damp in spots and slightly muddy, so I was cautious at times.  Overall, it was pretty good though.  We finished this first loop around an hour.

As I refueled at my car, Jun from T.W.A. ran by.  He's a beast.  He does 100 milers all the time and is training for the Bigfoot 200 out west.  He flew by and kept going.

It was on to loop two.  This was more of the same as the first loop.  It was easy and we took our time.  We were running pretty consistent.  It was mostly a hike up and a run down.  I felt quite fresh after two easy loop.  Again, it took us about an hour.

Some friends had finished up running other parts and were chatting.  I said a few words, but wanted to get going.  Daniel had a wedding to go to, so this was his last loop.  It was his 4th and my 3rd.

The 3rd loop was a real struggle last time.  Today, the climb up was quite tough.  I was breathing heavy at times and starting to overheat a little.  With Daniel a loop ahead of me, he had some issues too.

We got to the summit and began to head down.  Daniel fell behind and it gave me a boost.  Even though I struggled on the climb, the descent was great.  I wasn't stumbling, I was cruising down the technical stuff.  I think taking enough Tailwind was a big help, although I probably wasn't drinking enough fluids in general.

Daniel caught me on the descent.  Apparently he wasn't struggling, but had a call from his wife.  We ran in together to finish this loop and then he had to leave.

I rested briefly, but figuring this might be my last loop, I wanted to get going.  I was surprised that I hiked pretty well.  A guy was running downhill and told us about a bear at the top.  I was disappointed because I figured I'd never see it up there and I didn't.

I felt so good going up this climb.  This loop ended up being the reverse of the previous loop.  I was slipping now and couldn't run down the steepest and most technical part.  I wasn't comfortable with my footing.  I still ran a lot of the descent.

I heard that there were more bears down the trail.  I was thinking that I might finally get to see them.  Then, I saw a bunch of hikers looking into the woods.  There were two bears in amongst the trees.  They were about 100 yards away, so I could barely see them.  At least I finally did see bears here.  It took me 28 loops this year before that happened though.  I'm sure I ran by some off in the woods at times and never even noticed.

I ran on down after the bear stoppage and finished up the loop.  I was hoping maybe I'd see Ryan at the parking lot.  Flo was supposed to come at some point and I guess she wasn't too far behind me.  I never saw her though.  If I had company, I would've went out for a 5th loop.  I didn't feel like doing it solo though.

This went a little better than the 4 loops last time.  By the end, I was close to cramping.  The rocks still beat up my feet and they were quite sore.  I was starting to get uncomfortable when I stopped, but I didn't push my limits.  My legs are still so strong at the moment.  All of this climbing has really helped me improve.

I have no idea what I'm doing next.  I'll run tomorrow I'm sure.  I was thinking of going long.  I'd love to run 2 long Trexler loops if I don't work.  That could be hot though, so we will see.  I might be better off parking by the zoo and then having water halfway through at the Environmental Center.

15.12 miles - 4:19:05 (17:08 pace) 4709 feet of elevation gain
Mt. Tammany Summits 25, 26, 27 and 28 for 2015

Friday, July 3, 2015

Runnable Hill Repeats

I wanted to get some more hills today.  I was going to do repeats at Wind Gap yesterday.  Instead, I made that today.  I arrived at the AT lot in mid afternoon.  I hoped to do 5 repeats.

It was fairly hot and sunny.  Still, it was at least in the 80s.  I can deal with that.  I sure was soaked by the end of this run though.  I was shirtless and my shorts looked like swimming trunks.  I got it done though.  I might be getting a little better with the heat.  I guess if it jumps into the 90s, that would be the real test.

I started off going southbound on the AT.  The plan was to run to the top, or at least the end of the switchback section.  I did these in the winter, but that was with snow on the ground and much tougher and I had to hike.  I wanted to run here because it is about my limit of running.  I get close to wanting to hike and then the trail gets a little easier.  It is perfect.  Still, in the conditions and doing many repeats, I wasn't sure that I would keep running.  I figured that I would either have to rest after each repeat or perhaps after every two repeats.

I started off nice and easy.  I won't ever say any of these are a breeze, but the first one wasn't too bad.  The steepest parts are near the powerline and right near the top.  I know a lot of continuing to run is mental.  It helps a lot that I've run this whole stretch in the past.

I made it to the top the first time.  I went over a bit to a tree on a flat section.  That gave me some recovery.  I would've liked to have gone on the rocky trail up to the right, but that is right at the top and just too tough for me to keep going at that point.  Maybe next time I am here.  Each climb was just under 400 feet of elevation gain.

I ran back down nice and slowly.  It is funny sometimes how that works.  Going slow, I'm not as focused and stumble on some rocks.  This trail isn't too technical, but it definitely has some technical spots to it.  Going faster, I run smoother sometimes.

I went back up for the second repeat.  I felt pretty good on this one too, other than a lot of sweat.  I wove my way up.  I went to a second tree this time.  I headed back down.  I was thinking that I might want to rest a bit after this one.

However, I recovered well on the steady downhill.  I decided to push up it again.  I don't remember on which repeats I ran into hikers, but I had quite a few.  They were all kind and moved out of the way, but a few were probably annoyed by me.  There were 4 together and they had to move for me 3 times.  One older guy watched me run uphill as he was going down.  I think he was impressed.  I tried to beat him to the bottom, but he was move quickly and I didn't quite make it.

This third repeat might have been my toughest.  I felt like I was falling apart.  Oddly, I went back up for the 4th one and felt better.  At this point, I knew it would be four repeats without a break.  That was beyond thrilling for me, because I figured I'd need a rest.

There are two very short rocky stretches.  I did hike them in the later repeats.  I also stopped briefly at the top and bottom a few times.  Overall though, I was basically running up or down the entire time.  I was thrilled when I finished the 4th repeat.

I headed back up one more time.  I thought about turning around if I saw a hiker.  I did see a woman, but it was near the top, so I wanted to finish this final one.  I was breathing so heavy and my legs were burning at the top, but I made it.  I then caught the woman again, near the bottom.

I ran on back down and back to the road and to the parking lot.  I was amazed that I finished up the five repeats and I ran every one of them.  I parked next to the older guy and he talked to me briefly.  On a funny note, the elevation profile for this looks like breasts.

This was a nice Friday workout.  It is good to be able to go uphill on some runnable stuff.  That said, my legs still weren't quite pushed.  My breathing is really what limited me.  I feel like I need almost 6,000 feet of gain for it to have any real impact on my legs.  They are so strong right now.

Tomorrow, I'm hoping to run in the morning.  I'll head to Trexler to run the longer, tougher loop.  Some people are meeting at 7 AM.  I was going to go at 8 AM.  We shall see whether I can get up any earlier or not.  I'll be at Mt. Tammany on Sunday doing loops there.

6.24 miles - 1:25:10 (13:38 pace) 1766 feet of elevation gain

Thursday, July 2, 2015

First Breakneck Ridge Run/Hike

I had off today, so I decided to change plans.  Rather than hill repeats, I headed to New York to run at Breakneck Ridge.  It is a little over 2 hours away, along the Hudson River.  It is a very popular hike and super technical.  I really had no idea what I was in store for.

I got there around mid afternoon.  It was in the low 80s or so.  Maybe even the upper 70s there.  Not bad for most people, but still hot for me.  That was especially the case since a lot of the trail was exposed rock.  I was shirtless and sweating a lot.  Luckily, I carried along a small towel to wipe of the sweat.

As I was taking a photo of a sign, three young ladies started to hike right in front of me.  That annoyed me because this part was runnable.  They let me by and I ran.  I ran past a panting dog.  I would soon understand why.

Running didn't last long and I hit some boulders.  Small boulders would not have been bad.  However those didn't last long.  It soon just became solid rock face.  I tried to follow the blazes, but that was tough.  It wasn't even hiking, I was basically rock climbing.  I've never done that and being short, it was hard to reach in a lot of places.

Some times I would think I was taking a better route around the side of a rock and it would turn out to be even worse.  One time, my route seemed to just end.  I had to carefully slide along a rock face.  It was pretty crazy.

All of this and I still had only gone the first quarter mile to the overlook with the flag on top of it.  It provided a great view up and down the Hudson, with the mountains all around.  I was surprised to have this view to myself.  There were a lot of cars in the lots and on the roads, but I actually didn't see too many hikers.  The weekends are supposed to be a zoo, so that is why I was there during the week.

I was hoping that this first rock climbing part would be the worst of it.  I was wrong.  It continued to be more of the same and just as tough.  They actually have signs everywhere that say the easiest way to the bottom is to keep going up.  That is because it leads to connector trails.  I was unsure if I would make it back down if I did attempt the head back the way I came.  Some spots would've required butt sliding or jumping.

What didn't help me was carrying a handheld.  It only allowed me one free hand.  I don't know why I didn't think of not bringing a handheld.  This was good prep for Escarpment though, as I know a handheld won't work there.  I'd imagine this was similar terrain as that.

At one point, I had to put the handheld down, just to climb up.  Another time, I started sliding slightly down the rock.  Luckily, I didn't fall.  I've never been on such tough terrain.  Eventually I got to the Undercliff Trail, but I wanted to keep going up.

There were actually some signs that said "easier ascent."  I'm one to always take the hard way, but it this case, I went with the "easier."  "Easier" being the key word, as it still wasn't easy.

I saw a few hikers on a slightly easier part.  I laughed when I looked at my watch at one point and I was around 1.1 miles and it took me 35 minutes or so.  To say that that was slow was an understatement.

Even when I got to some nicer and flatter sections, it was often exposed and still hot.  I didn't have a lot to drink.  I ran some when I could, but the climb had taken a lot of my energy.  Even in between climbing segments, there were some small up and down parts. 

Some parts of the trail were smooth, but most had rocks.  It was pretty when I got near the top and had some nice running back in the woods.  I finally started to enjoy it a bit.  Even up there, it seemed like there were multiple paths to follow.

I was so happy to see the red blazed trail that said that that was the way to Route 9D (the start).  I wanted some more mileage though, so I went out a little further.  Some hikers were looking for that red trail later and I told them they had passed it.

I ran to the blue blazed Notch Trail.  I took that as it descended.  That would give me more gain on the way back.  It was very rocky and hard to run downhill.  It went quite far down, but I didn't take it all the way.  There was a small lake up there and I heard people swimming or something.  That must've been nice.

I turned around and headed back up the Notch Trail to the Breackneck Ridge Trail.  I then found the red blazed trail to head down and back to the start.  I was around 2.5 to 3 miles now. 

I saw a sign for the red blaze to the left, yet the trail appeared to be to the right.  I went to the right.  It was an unmarked trail that was descending steeply.  I figured that it must go somewhere, so I continued on it, rather than climbing back up.  Sure enough, it eventually came to the red blazed trail.

I ran into the hikers again, right at that point.  I was wondering why I had not passed them yet, as I had been running some.  The red blazed trail was much smoother and I ran a lot more.  It was still semi technical, so I had to hike in spots.  I had fun descending.

I could hear the traffic from Route 9D and I was very happy when I got to the road.  I had to run about a quarter mile back to my car.  I only ended up with less than 4.5 miles.  That was enough though.  It still took me over an hour and a half.

It was a fun run, but I'm not sure I'll go there again.  If I do, I'll probably go on the more runnable trails.  The Breakneck Ridge Trail is just crazy.  I would like to explore the rest of the area.

Tomorrow, I'll probably go out for the hill repeats.  I think I'll head to Wind Gap.  I hope to get in some good gain.  It would be nice if I could run a lot of it.  Weather will likely play a big factor in that.

4.41 miles - 1:39:46 (22:36 pace) 1406 feet of elevation gain

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A Green AT @ 191

Today, I was looking for some miles.  I also wanted to mix in a little technical running and a little elevation.  I didn't want too much of either though.  I decided to head to Route 191 and run the AT.  It starts at the top of the mountain there.

It wasn't too hot when I started in the evening.  I wore a singlet, but probably could've been shirtless.  There was some wind in open areas, but not much on the trail.  I was sweating a bit by the end of the run.

I started off heading Northbound.  The trail was amazing.  It is a fun, flowing singletrack along the ridge.  What really surprised me is how green everything was.  Last time I ran there, it was snow covered.  It has been awhile.  I don't even think I ever ran there while it was actually green.

The beauty made the run easy to enjoy, but the technical nature of the trail made it slow.  I got out to the cool view within the first mile, after passing a hiker with small kids.  At the view, a few thru hikers had setup tents.  That was neat.

I went back along on the rolling terrain.  Originally, I was thinking about going out 2 miles and back in each direction, to get 8 total miles.  However, I enjoyed this section so much that I figured I'd go farther.  I felt pretty good too.  Then, around 2.5 miles, I began to get tired.  I was mostly running, but there were some technical parts that slowed me to a hike.  Totts Gap was a good place to make it to.

I figured I had to at least go out 3 miles this direction.  Then, I'd have 6 miles already when I got back to the car.  I hit mile 3 right at the woods road.  Although I didn't really have enough water to go another mile out and back, I figured why not.  It would be easier running.

This part is boring, but faster.  There were some big puddles.  I went around one of them because I knew hikers had made a path.  The grass was slightly high, but not too bad.  I ran in tire tracks when I could.  I passed some hiker that was resting or snacking.  He seemed weird and wasn't very friendly when I said "hi."

I was kind of hoping I'd make it to the Mt. Minsi summit by mile 4, but I didn't.  I turned around at mile 4 and headed back.  The sun would be in my eyes going this way.  Luckily, it was setting.

I really enjoyed how the trail went from the top of the mountain to a ridge along the side.  Small ups and downs.  I ran most of it.  I did tire some as I approached mile 6.  I was moving faster now.  Maybe that was due to the faster section earlier.  It was also cooling and I think that helped.

Some of the technical parts are neat.  Running like this are fascinating to me.  I don't take any calories, so I hit some low points and yet I seem to bounce back.  That really happened at mile 6.75.  I don't know what compelled me to pick it up, but I did.  I got very focused and started flying over some very technical terrain.

That lasted for most of the rest of the run.  I took a brief water break on the short uphill by the open view.  The hikers were out talking and I waved to them.  Then, I blasted on down the trail.  I was making great time now.

This got nice and smooth around here too.  I could really push and have fun.  Closer to the very end, it got technical again and I had to be a little more cautious.  Right at the end, I came across a young couple hiking out.  It was nearly dark, so maybe they were going to the view to watch the sunset.  I don't know, but if so, they had to share it with the hikers.

I finished up right at the AT sign at the road crossing.  I was very pleased with this run and thoroughly enjoyed this section.  I wish this was closer, so that I could run it more often.  I should at least get up there monthly, on semi easy days.

Tomorrow, I'm looking to run some hills.  I asked Destrie if she wants to run any repeats down her way.  If not, I'm going to do them at Wind Gap.  I'm thinking 5 repeats there would be great.

8.01 miles - 1:45:59 (13:14 pace) 610 feet of elevation gain