I give up. My hopes of running up significant trail miles are dashed. How many miles did my lunatic plan call for this weekend? 15. And I haven’t gone more than 6.7 miles on any given run yet. With several more inches added to the trails, forget it.
I did not attempt the Delaware Water Gap this weekend. Instead I stayed closer to home and ran at Mahlon Dickerson Reservation. “Ran” is not exactly what I did for most of the time I was out there. The first mile wasn’t too bad. After that, forget it. The farther I ventured on the 6-mile trail, the deeper the snow got and the less the trail had been traveled. I plowed through snow for 5 miles. That took me 2 1/2 hours! My feet were pretty dang cold and my socks were crusted with ice by then. There’s a camping area near mile 5 with a paved driveway that leads to the main road. I got out of the snow at that point and ran on the road for a mile and a half back to my car. The road was scary! No shoulder, hills, curves, and cars going way over the speed limit! I was glad to be done when I reached the parking lot.
Below are some pictures from this early morning adventure. I’m not reaching any of my training goals, failing pretty hard and considering dropping out of the upcoming race. But at least I’m getting some nice photos. Enjoy.
Week 3 of my 50K training. I was shooting for 12 miles this week. But seeing as we had a nor’easter AGAIN a few days ago, I was sure the trails would be covered even more than last week. I knew that attempting to gain miles via the Tammany Fire Road was not a workable plan. Reaching 12 miles by doing Tammany loops (3.35 miles each) would mean up and down Mt. Tammany 4 times. When I got up at 4:30 AM I knew I didn’t have it in me to make it 4 loops, especially with increased snow on the trails.
When I arrived, I soon found that the snow was deeper on the trails as I suspected. It was mildly packed on the Red Dot Trail. It was less packed on the Blue Dot Trail. That made for a super fun descent on the mountain. Most of the rocks were well covered. Running on the narrow slightly packed single tracks was a breeze. The steeper sections of the trail were less packed and a lot of fun to careen through! I knew if I fell it wouldn’t matter. I would just land in deep snow. It felt like being a kid again! Plus, I set my fastest times ever on that trail. But I only had enough in me to do 2 loops, not nearly 12 miles.
My training plan called for 9 miles this week. The plan starts at 6 miles and adds 3 miles each week. I know it’s not the best idea, but I’ve become a bit of a lunatic in my plans in order to get ready for a 50K on April 21 that I really do not want to miss. So I set out for the Gap with 9 miles in mind.
However, there are always things that challenge my accomplishment of all the miles I have in my mind. For one, a nor’easter covered northern New Jersey with several inches of snow a few days before. Also, my family’s schedule has gotten pretty hectic with a toddler in the house, both my wife and I working full time (she working two careers), and both of us needing time to run. The first challenge made the trails harder to run on. The second group of challenges means my time for exercise has decreased, which means my physical conditioning has decreased. I should add one other factor here. My weight has increased. Lugging myself up a mountain is no small feat at this point.
What follows are photos (and a video) and some comments in three sections: The Way Up, The Fire Road, The Way Down.
The Way Up
The snow made for gorgeous scenery. The Red Dot trail up Mt. Tammany was packed with snow, not too hard to navigate. The views were beautiful.
The Fire Road
One aspect of my family’s tight schedule is that my wife often works on the weekends. Add a snowstorm into the mix and time becomes even more limited. Due to that snow, I postponed running until Sunday, but had to wait until the afternoon when my wife got home. Well, that added another challenge. By the time I got to the Gap, there were quite a few people on the trails. That just makes it hard to run while maneuvering around folks, something that contributed to badly injuring myself in 2016.
So, when I got to the head of the Tammany Fire Road trail, I decided to see how far I could make it along that route. The trail was covered by several inches of pristine untrod snow. It was irresistible, my pathway to solitude away from the crowds.
I stomped through that snow for 45 minutes making it almost a mile and a half. My toes were getting cold even in their wool socks. My thighs were on fire from marching nonstop. So I retraced my steps back to the Blue Dot trail.
The Way Down
The way down the Blue Dot trail was slushy and sloppy. My thighs were on fire but I had a good run down the mountain.
At the bottom I was surprised by the number of trees that had fallen in the storm along the Dunnfield Creek. It was quite a mess! Climbing over some of these obstacles was a challenge with my spent thighs.
I called it a day at 2 1/2 hours with 6 miles covered. I didn’t hit the 9 mile mark. The effort expended in the snow made up for the 3 missed miles.
Since it has been decided by unanimous executive decision (by me, myself, and I) to prepare for the Hyner Challenge 50K as best as possible over the next two months, today was my first of 8 planned weekly “long” runs. The object of this plan is to build up my distance each week until I reach the goal of 31 miles at the race on April 21. This is the plan of a lunatic, but I won’t get into that now. Maybe I’ll address the lunacy as I move along in the plan.
If you peruse my blog posts over the past year, it quickly becomes evident that one of my favorite places to run is Mahlon Dickerson Reservation. It’s close to home. It has varied terrain. I usually do a 6 mile loop there. So it made sense to start with that loop on my return to training after my latest injury.
Below are some photos from the trail with a few more comments mixed in.
Of course, my ankle was bothersome while running. That’s my new norm. My legs where a bit tired. My aerobic capacity has declined due to inactivity. Weighing 226 pounds now doesn’t help anything.
While writing this post I learned that a beaver’s home is called a “lodge.” I guess you could say I relearned it, because when I looked it up I thought, I knew that. But that spoiled a pun I was going to make for the next 2 pictures. I was going to say, “Beaver Dam” for the first and then, “Damn Beaver” for the second. You know, because the damn thing is eating the hell out of that tree. But that bit of wit got “lodged” midstream by my reacquired knowledge.
What is interesting about the next 2 pictures is that one half of the sky was covered by clouds and the other half was perfectly blue. There was a demarcation directly overhead. When I faced the direction of the clear sky, my surroundings appeared more colorfully and the blue of the sky was reflected off the wet trail. (The photo does not do it justice.). When I faced the opposite direction toward the cloudy sky, everything looked bland. If you had seen me at that point, turning 180 degrees back and forth, you would have sworn I was lost. I was simply amused by the color observations.
And then there is graffiti on a tree. These letters were either sliced long, long ago and have expanded in width, or someone carved them with a spoon. Logic says it’s the former. I hope “JW” is still remembered.
That’s a wrap until the next batch of photos from the woods.
This time my son, Tim, joined me on the six mile loop through the woods. He could have run circles around me, an overweight guy with a gimpy ankle and 24 more years of age. But he was polite enough to not do so.
(Originally posted on the website Continuum...) Failure. That's right. Photography failure. This past weekend I finally popped a roll of film into the 35mm camera that was given to me. A roll of black and white film. I spent the weekend taking photos and learning how to adjust the exposure. On Monday morning, I stood out in the freezing Continue Reading →