Browse Tag: Trail Running

Morons in Love

Morons in Love
Morons in Love

At some point early on Sunday morning while I was running my Tammany Loops (See my post: “Early Morning Tammany Loops”.), during my second loop to be exact, some knucklehead spray painted the above endearment along the red dot trail. Some time between 7:15 and 8:30 AM the deed was done.

I remember what it was like being young and crazy about a girl, “in love,” as they say. I remember writing a girl’s name all over my desk in 6th grade. Come to think of it, I wrote a different girl’s name all over a desk a few years later.

Then I remember an act of vandalism I inflicted upon the unused factory across the street from our house when I was 15. I spray painted letters on one of the doors. They were letters of true love. They were not for a girl. They were for a band.


My old neighbor, Mr. Bennett, thought for sure it was someone with the initials “LED” in love with someone else with the initials “ZEP.” He was about 500 years-old, drove a big old station wagon, had a wife who was OCD about washing her hands constantly, and he had a plot of land a few miles down Route 31 where he grew an abundance of vegetables. He was kind enough to give our family plenty of tomatoes and zucchini. I’ll never forget the day he pointed over toward the factory and said to me, “Look at that, Sammy. Must be somebody in love.” I thought, You moron, it’s a band! The best band in the world! Thinking about it now, he probably wasn’t as senile as I took him to be and probably saw me painting the damn door the day before, like a knucklehead.

My family had a Ford Torino in those days. When my stepfather was at work and my mom was occupied with my baby sister, I would take the keys and drive that car, a pukey tan colored boat, up our gravel driveway onto the street, down the Bennett’s driveway and around their house, over and over like it was the Indy 500. Mr. Bennett got a kick out of it. He also seemed to think I was as innocent as a Boy Scout. He never knew that I cut a corner too close and took a chunk of cement off his house with that Torino. (My stepfather took a chunk out of my hide that day though!) Mr. Bennett also did not know how I and my best friend, who turned me on to “LED ZEP” in the first place, used to throw the rocks from the gravel driveway to bust out the windows of that old factory. Sometimes we used our Wrist Rocket slingshots.

But I digress in telling you about what a moron I was as a teenager. All I intended to do with this post was say that there is really no excuse for graffiti in the woods. What is the point?? Or is “MB 03 05 A…(What is that? A backward D?)” a new band I don’t know about? Either way, you got the first letter right: M. For moron. Because if you think the hikers and runners will pause to appreciate your sign of deep and true love, you, my friend, are a moron.

Early Morning Tammany Loops

A Tammany Loop is a course that follows the red dot and blue blaze trails on Mt. Tammany on the New Jersey side of the Delaware Water Gap. It’s approximately 3.3 miles long and has an elevation gain of about 1,100 feet. It’s a good work out.

Yesterday morning I was able to get an ultra-early start on hiking/running the loop. I was on the trails by 5:45 AM. The baby woke up at 3:45. I fed him and couldn’t get back to sleep, eager to get to the mountain, I guess. I was in the car before the sun came up.

I completed the loop 3 times (up red, down blue). Even though it took me 4 hours to do those 3 loops, I was happy with my effort. It’s been a year since I was last able to do 3 Tammany Loops in a row, which is the most I’ve done so far. I’m a little slower than last year thanks to my compromised ankle. But I’m happy to be back to covering that amount of distance and elevation. Speed will come later. My ankle still needs more healing. (During the third loop it let me know it wasn’t happy. It was on fire!)

The temperature and humidity were pleasant in the morning. As you can see below, the temperature started at 62° and rose almost 20° during my run. What’s interesting is that the humidity dropped as the temperature rose. Maybe it’s because the sun burned off the fog. Both the sun and the fog made for nice photos, which are below.


A view of the Gap from I-80 at 5:30 AM
A view of the Gap from I-80 at 5:30 AM
Fog over the Delaware River between Mt. Tammany and Mt. Minsi
Fog over the Delaware River between Mt. Tammany and Mt. Minsi
Fog over the Delaware River and off into the Poconos
Fog over the Delaware River and off into the Poconos
Moon and Belt of Venus over Mt. Minsi in the early morning
Moon and Belt of Venus over Mt. Minsi in the early morning
The morning sun over the terminus of the blue blaze trail on the summit of Mt. Tammany (is that a skull on the trail??)
The morning sun over the terminus of the blue blaze trail on the summit of Mt. Tammany (is that a skull on the trail??)
Gypsy moth caterpillar.  Let's hope there aren't too many of these this year.
Gypsy moth caterpillar. Let’s hope there aren’t too many of these this year.
Mountain laurel
Mountain laurel

Return to Peroneus Brevis Hill

Peroneus Brevis Hill - The scene of the crime.
Peroneus Brevis Hill – The scene of the crime.

Today was my first return to “Peroneus Brevis Hill,” as I now call the hill upon which I sprained my ankle badly while running at the Delaware Water Gap ten months ago.
There’s a picture of it to the left. It’s a bit steeper than it looks in the picture. It’s covered with loose gravel, shale, and other stones. (Click here to read a fascinating article on the geology of the Delaware Water Gap.) It was a wobbly stone that did me in last year. It may have been shale. It may have been sandstone. It was hard to get a good look at it while falling down the hill. I already wrote about that fall. You can read about it here. Right now I’m going to write about the path I’ve been down since injuring myself, some of what I’ve learned a long the way, and how good it felt to be running in the woods again.

Et tu, Peroneus Brevis?

Who is this one, Peroneus Brevis, of whom I speak? He sounds like a Roman of treacherous character, one who would betray and murder the emperor.


Peroneus Brevis is one of the tendons that runs from a muscle in the outside of the calf around the outside of the ankle and attaches to the outside of the foot. It everts the foot. Which means it pulls the foot to the outside.

Mine betrayed me. It tore when my ankle rolled.

(There is also the Peroneus Longus tendon in the same area. Peroneus Longus is a man of noble character.)

Here are a few ways in which I feel betrayed:

  1. Betrayed in my physical fitness – I went from 100 mph to zero in regard to my physical fitness. I had been logging a good amount of running miles every week. Then suddenly I could not run at all. I had done several races in the few months before my injury, including the Hyner View Trail Challenge (photos here), the Asbury Park Half Marathon, and a race on ski slopes (photos here). And then everything stopped.I also gained 21 pounds while dealing with and recovering from this injury. That was largely due to being depressed over my situation and being lazy about doing other types of exercise. The appetite I had developed to sustain all the running I had been doing did not diminish. It increased as my self pity increased. It wasn’t very long until I began overeating and stuffing my face with lots of junk. (But those Wise potato chips are SO GOOD!)

    Half way up that mountain today and I regretted every potato chip, cookie, and cheeseburger I had ever eaten. This is how it felt:


  2. Betrayed financially – My wife said, “When I told you to go out there and crush it, I was not referring to our deductible!” This injury took me through months of physical therapy, 73 sessions all together. That’s a lot of copays! Plus, seeing as my ankle had a torn tendon and was not simply sprained, it needed surgery to put it back in working order. The bills came rolling in. In the beginning, my doctor had me go through two months of physical therapy to get the swelling down. Healing wasn’t progress as well as hoped at the end of those two months. He sent me for an MRI. (Another bill.) When he saw a tear on the MRI results he said, “Let’s try four more weeks of PT to see if that does the trick.” It didn’t. He then had me see a surgeon who quickly determined I needed surgery. One month after surgery I went back for more PT. The new year came and brought a new deductible to be met before PT was finished. Bills, bills, bills. I had no choice but to go through the treatment.
  3. Betrayed in my goals – At the time I injured myself I was registered for several races. I had a 50K scheduled just six weeks from the date of my injury. It would have been my first. I attempted it and couldn’t finish. I wrote about that here.I was registered for the Runner’s World Festival in October. That’s where I ran my first half marathon in 2014. I was looking forward to being there for my third year in a row. I had to defer to next year. By October I was deep into the Wise potato chips.

    Another race from which I had to withdraw was the Hyner View Trail Challenge, which actually took place today.

Mile 19.8

All that talk about Peroneus Brevis and his Brutus-like betrayal being said, the difference between me and Julius Caesar is that Caesar died. I on the other hand am starting to make a comeback.


The thing that motivated me to get out the door early today, indeed to prepare my running clothes last night, was the thought that today the Hyner race was taking place and I could not be there, BUT I could make this the day of my return to my favorite training grounds. I was so excited last night that I had a hard time getting to sleep. It was like that nervous excitement like one gets the night before a big race. On my way to the Water Gap this morning, at mile marker 19.8 on I-80 west, where you get the first glimpse of the Gap, I felt that nervous excitement like butterflies in my stomach, something my wife refers to as “a wee in her belly.” There it was in the distance and I couldn’t wait to get there.

It was wonderful to be in the woods again! It was wonderful to plod my way up 1,100 feet of elevation. It was wonderful to feel the rocks under my feet. The first time I tweaked my ankle, which smarted not just a little, I remembered what my surgeon said when I saw him last month: “That tendon is healed up. It’s fixed. You can return to whatever activity you want. You have to build up strength in your ankle again. But no activity you do now is going to harm that tendon.” So I carefully and happily continued on. I went down Peroneus Brevis Hill as if my little injury never happened. By the time I got back to the parking lot I was feeling so good that I ran out to the bridge on I-80, across to Pennsylvania, and back, adding another 2.7 miles to the 3.3 I did on the mountain.

I still have a way to go in recovery and much farther to go in training. But I’m back in the game. And by that I mean I signed up for that same 50K I couldn’t manage last year. I’m hoping for a much better experience this year.

Oh yeah, and I lost 9.5 pounds so far.




It never felt so good to set foot on a trail as it did yesterday. It had been 19 days since I sprained my right ankle badly. To make it a half mile up Mt. Tammany, carefully, was rewarding indeed. To be walking without crutches, to be walking without a fracture boot, to be able to fit my foot into a sneaker and walk with tolerable pain, felt good. To return to the scene of the crime, so to speak, was a psychological necessity. Even the 30 minutes I spent on the trail was satisfying.

Here’s what happened on June 26. It was a Sunday. A nice sunny day, not extremely hot. I arrived at the Delaware Water Gap later than I had planned. By then there were quite a number of hikers on the trails while I was running. I always enjoy the friendly encounters with people on the trails, but it increases the obstacles along the way. This is what led to my downfall. Literally. I was two miles into my plan of 12 to 15 miles. Coming down the mountain, moving rather quickly, weaving between people, I stepped on an unstable rock. My ankle rolled in. Then my ankle rolled out. My ankle completely gave out with the next step. My momentum was too strong and the grade of the hill a little too steep for me to get control and stop myself. While everything seemed to be happening in slow motion, I remembered to tuck my head and roll, just like we did when we were kids. I think the ground has gotten much harder over the years since I was a kid!

My first thought was, “I hope I can finish the rest of my run.”

After several steps down the trail, my thought became, “I hope I can make it out of the woods to my car!”

I managed to hobble nearly a mile to the parking lot. I then drove the 30 miles to home. My wife took me to a “walk in” urgent care facility. I’m not sure the manner in which I maneuvered myself into the place would be considered walking in. Then I traded a running shoe for a stylish boot.


Several sessions of physical therapy and many hours of icing my foot later, I was able to traverse a half mile of the Red Trail up 360 feet of Mt. Tammany’s 1,100 feet of elevation gain, at which point there is this wonderful view:


Coming back down the trail was significantly harder on my ankle than going up. I had to be ultra-careful. A slight slip on gravel caused enough pain for me to doubt the wisdom of my decision to go up the trail in the first place.

A funny thing happened along the way down too. I got a phone call. It was an automated reminder of my upcoming appointment with my orthopedist on Tuesday. It was like he sensed I was pushing my limits. Or maybe he was just letting me know he was thinking of me.

I have a long way to go to be back in good running shape. Walking and moderate hiking are now tolerable. I am able to use a stationary recumbent bike for up to 45 minutes. So, at this point, the following picture sums up the way I feel about my progress so far. Onward and upward!


Running at the Delaware Water Gap (Photos)

February 27, 2016 – I did the Tammany Loop (up Mt. Tammany via the Red Trail, down via the Blue Trail) twice. Total miles = 6.7.

March 1, 2016 – I did the Tammany Loop once. Then I ran the Appalachian Trail out past Sunfish Pond and back. Total miles = 13.5.