Thursday, January 20, 2011

Couple Early Winter Training Runs

So I don’t normally write about my training runs but there were two that I completed over the last few weeks that I want to highlight.  The first run was on the AT in Pennsylvania north east of Harrisburg on January 8th.  The access point was in Pine Grove and I cover the mileage during a nice morning snow over Blue Mountain.  The trail was well marked there was parking at the access point.  There was an overlook to Tower City that was very scenic.  I didn’t see anyone on the trail but had the impression there may have been horses or mountain bikers accessing the trail because my foot was sinking into frozen indentions under the snow at times.  Nothing too bad – no ankle turns.  Just more challenging to navigate.  The trail was on top of the mountain so there was not too much elevation gain.  As I ran out the snow stared coming down and during my trip back the snow was falling.  No one in site and very pleasant way to start the morning.  The access point is about 5 minutes from my parents house so I definitely want to run it farther next time I visit.  After looking at a map, I think I can take it up to Ft. Indiantown Gap and back for a good 25 plus training run.
The second run was in Thurmont in the Catoctin Mountains on the Blue trail (January 15th).  This was one of a series of runs to get a feel for the CAT-100 course that I will be completing at the end of April.  This trail is very challenging and is comprised of a lot of ups and downs with hardly any flats.  There are rocks, roots and the like but the trail is well marked.  We had about 10 people at the start and over half of the folks split off at the 16 mile mark.  Jeff, Jim (CAT race director), and two other folks in addition to myself finished the first 24 miles of the course.  Now you think 24 miles and may equate that to 4 ½ hours on the trail with an average of around 5 an hour.  Add in 4 plus inches of snow on the ground, sections of the trail that had not been touched since the snow, and oh yeah – the rocks and roots under the snow – now how long?  It took 6 ½ hours to cover this distance and needless to say I was feeling it that afternoon but recovery came quickly.  Running with snow on the ground is quite challenging and slow.  It was fun to catch up with folks that participated and no one got lost which is always nice.  This race at the end of April will be a true test of the soul and I plan on sticking to a training plan throughout which will focus on more trail running on similar terrain in Patapsco Park.    We will have a few more group training runs on the trail to prepare for CAT and one or two of these will be night runs to get used to the conditions when the sun goes down. 

Jack Frost

So the motivation was starting to get low after PHUNT because of the winter, the post holiday blues, the dark mornings, lack of sun, etc.  You know all those things that runners complain about with the winter in the Mid Atlantic.  After these two trail runs, I was able to kick those feelings to the corner and get refocused on my running with the goals of keeping family balance, maintaining health, reducing stress, and preparing for the next race.  Until next time, happy trails.

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