Browse Category: New Jersey

George Washington Bridge Challenge 10K

Unicorns are REAL! They talked to us and told us many wondrous things that I’m not allowed to reveal.

My wife and I ran the George Washington Bridge Challenge 10K today. How often does anyone get the chance to run on one of the busiest bridges in the country? (One time per year, as far as I know.) That’s what made this race so appealing.

The race started in Fort Lee on the New Jersey side of the Hudson. We took a ramp up onto the bridge. Then we ran out and back over the bridge twice. Coming off the bridge we ran along Main Street in Fort Lee and then down Henry Hudson Drive to the Ross Dock Picnic Area to finish. The majority of the race was on the flat bridge and then downhill after that, hardly any uphill. A nice run!

Considering I had only run twice in the past two months, including this race, I was pleased with how my running felt and the fact that I finished in 1 hour, 7 minutes. I struggled now and then, walked when I felt like it. I went into the race with the idea of simply running according to how I felt and not worrying about my time or pace. I didn’t worry about comparing myself to anyone else. I just chugged along and enjoyed the scenery and the satisfying feeling of moving my feet. I was actually surprised that my time was as good as it turned out!

Here are some photos:

Getting started
Entering the lower level of the GWB
Looking toward Manhattan
Overlooking Palisades Park in New Jersey. If you look real close you can see the yellow arch at the finish line.
On the GWB
Under the GWB
Finishing up
Many thanks to our friend, Zach, for the cool signs and for tending to our child!

The Place is Lousy with Beavers

Two beaver lodges (foreground and background)

While hiking at Mahlon Dickerson Reservation today, I spotted two beaver lodges that I hadn’t noticed before. They are in a location that I always pass when hiking or running here. I just never noticed them before. I think I noticed them this time because the vegetation is getting much greener. I stepped off the trail closer to the water to get a better look. This watery area was more extensive than I realized. When I’m running these trails I guess I’m focused on the ground so I don’t trip on a rock or a root and bust my skull. I need to stop and smell the beaver lodges more often.

I’m not sure if these lodges are still inhabited. I didn’t see any signs of recent beaver activity along the banks of the water. The usual signs include small trees gnawed off and bark chewed off of larger trees. All I noticed was a large tree that had been chewed sometime in the past, as you can see below. Maybe the beavers abandoned this one lodge and set up house in the more remote lodge away from all the tourists.

Where have all the beavers gone?

Beavers are amazing creatures. Lots of creatures gather and transport various materials to build nests and dens. But beavers take it to another level. They are quite industrious indeed. That’s a lot of work to cut down trees and haul them through the water. “Busy as a beaver” sure is an apt phrase. I’d love to spend a day hiding in beaver territory observing them going about their business.

For more on beavers in this area, see my video: “Beavers at Saffin Pond.”

Skin in the Game

Being in the Woods = Happiness (at least at the beginning of this run)

My last run introduced a new challenge to the mix of getting ready for the Hyner race: BLISTERS. With three weeks to go until the race, the blister problem has become a Gordian Knot situation that needs to be solved ASAP.

When I first got these Saucony Perigrine shoes a few months ago I worried the heels might prove to be a problem. But I ran in them a handful of times on rail trails and then on trails at Mahlon Dickerson Reservation. Their heels weren’t as snug as I’d like but they didn’t seem to be a problem. I ran at the Delaware Water Gap a few times with snow on the trails, my distance averaging 6 miles. It wasn’t until the trails were clear and I was able to go farther that I encountered the problem of blisters on my heels.

I did a little research and decided to do a test run near home today. I slapped on multiple Band-Aids and wore two pairs of wool socks. I went over to the Dickerson Mine Preserve (not the same place as the Mahlon Dickerson Reservation, but named after the same guy).

My plan was do run 5 miles. By mile 2 my heels were on fire again. The double socks didn’t help. I ground out 3 more miles, running more than walking because I just couldn’t wait to be done. Plus, I was in a hurry to get back to the drawing board to find a different solution to this problem.

And one other thing. It snowed again today. Aren’t we like 2 weeks into Spring? What the heck?

Here are a few photos from the Preserve:

One of several easy trails here
Power lines coming through
Same lines, different part of the trail
You know you’re on a New Jersey trail when there are empties left by a tree.

Early Morning Run at the Water Gap

Leaving the house at Zero Dark Thirty

I left the house at 5:30 AM to meet my son for a 6:00 start at the Delaware Water Gap. Our goal was to run a 10 mile loop twice: up the Red Dot Trail on Mt. Tammany, along the ridge on the Tammany Fire Road, the Turquoise Trail over to the AT by Sunfish Pond, the AT back to the start. And… Finally! The trails at the Delaware Water Gap were free of snow!

The run was tough going for me. I felt slow and tired. We got to mile 7 and what I thought to be a small stone in my shoe turned out to be a blister on my heel. By the time we finished the first loop, I had blisters on the backs of both heels. I put Band-Aids on them and started up Mt. Tammany again. My heels were ON FIRE!
Halfway up the mountain I started getting spasms in my hamstrings. I had taken Endurolytes and Sports Legs to prevent spasms. But that wasn’t enough to overcome the fact that I had not run more than 7 miles in one shot in months. The second time up the mountain got me. It seemed to take forever to make it.

I knew I couldn’t make the full 20 miles. So I sat on a rock and bemoaned my miserable condition. While my son continued on the full loop, I took the Blue Dot Trail back down to the parking lot. I was done.

I made it 13 miles. But according to my crazy training plan I should have done 21. Things are not going according to plan. But here are some photos.

Looking through the Gap just before sunrise
The Moon in the Belt of Venus, halfway up Mt. Tammany
Giving it my best on Mt. Tammany
Sunshine on Mt. Minsi, the shadow of Mt. Tammany, the Delaware River, the Poconos, the Moon, the Belt of Venus… all beautiful!
A snow-free Tammany Fire Road

My son taking in the beauty of the early morning sun and the snowmelt along the Turquoise Trail
Sunfish Pond

(Once the blisters start, fuck taking any more pictures.)

Beavers at Saffin Pond

Oh, hi. We got more snow again. If you’ve read any of my previous posts about my wishful 50K training plans you can surmise what more snow means: I AM DOOMED! What did the plan call for this weekend? 18 miles? By the way, it’s officially Spring. This is bullshit.

That being said, my mood improved once I finally got out the door. Read on.

I went to Mahlon Dickerson Reservation to run yesterday. I lacked motivation and felt like a loser after not going for my long run that morning… because I lacked motivation and felt like a loser. It’s a vicious cycle. But my wife came home yesterday afternoon and said, “Hey! It’s really nice out! You should go for a run!” That, in my mind, translated to, “Hey! You’re a lazy fat slob! You could really use some exercise! Why don’t you get off the couch for a change!” So, I got up and went.

It turned out that the trails were even more snow covered than the week before, as seen below. The previous weekend it took me 2 hours to trudge through 5 miles of snow and I took the road back to the parking lot for the last mile because my feet were so cold. This time I decided to go 2.5 miles and turn around instead of attempting the 6 mile loop.

There’s a trail under there somewhere.
When the only person to travel the trail before you was wearing snow shoes… lucky bastard.

Since I didn’t have a lot of motivation and since the snow made my effort to exercise turn into one big suck, I reminded myself that it has often been under those circumstances that I’ve been rewarded by seeing something cool, like a bald eagle, or a deer up close, or a cool snake. Though snakes don’t usually come out in the snow.

I saw a few ducks at mile 2, not too exciting. Then I was taken by surprise to see beavers swimming in Saffin Pond, which is near the parking lot. I had seen evidence of beavers in another area of the reservation (see photo). I had not previously seen any indication that they were in Saffin Pond, which often has many humans about it given its proximity to the parking area.

Looks like there’s a beaver around these here parts.

Seeing the beavers was truly rewarding. I could have watched them for hours if it wasn’t close to sunset and my wife wasn’t waiting for me to come home for dinner. So I recorded several minutes of their activity. The video above is 5 minutes of peaceful beaver swimming with a momentary disruption of an angry beaver slapping his tail.

It took me an hour and 45 minutes to go 5 miles this time at Mahlon. It was a little faster than the prior week because I just wanted the suck to be over. However, all the snow we have gotten this month has buried my training plans. I was supposed to do 18 miles this weekend. That’s hard to do when it takes almost 2 hours to just go 5. It’s impossible to do when your motivation tank is empty. I need to get with the program because my 50K is only 4 weeks away. Here’s hoping for a warm week and some rain to clear this snow before next weekend!