Saturday, September 11, 2010

Trail Diary: Biscuit Brook to Big Indian and...somewhere else...

The Plan: Run from the Biscuit Brook trailhead on the West Branch Neversink up Big Indian Mountain (3,700 ft), over Eagle (3,600) and maybe to Haynes (3,420) and return. 16-17 miles.

The Reality:  Started out fine.  Some slow climbing up rocky sections for the first mile or so, then some excellent groove & flow on a very runnable, easy downhill.  But in a recurring theme for the day, it didn't last long.  For every 5 or 10 minutes of runnable trail, I slammed into something rocky, slick, or just steep enough that I couldn't run for the next 5 or 10.  And starting at maybe 3 miles in, the trail was frequently very overgrown.  Lots of small beech, raspberry, blackberry, viburnum, and woodfern.  Much of it was from ground to head, so you couldn't see the trail below your feet nor the  markers up ahead.  Lost the trail a bunch of times. Scratches from my ankles to my shoulders.  In other words, your basic fine day on the trail.  And Hammer ain't got nothin' like ripe blackberries for refueling mid-run.  Never did see the yellow trail junction at 5.6 miles, so I either never made it there or I missed it twice (on the out and on the back).  It would be hard to believe that I hadn't even made 5.6 miles by the time I gave up the ghost and turned around at 1:43 into the run, despite the roadblocks.  I was able to hammer some sections pretty well.  Finished the "run" in 3:16.  I'm sure I made it over Big Indian, but I don't know about Eagle, and I can't imagine I made it to Haynes (none of these are above treeline and much of the run is on a ridge, so you can't always tell if you're on a summit).  I'm guessing I got 11 or 12 in, but it was 3+ hours running a trail--that's nothing but goodness.

Run it again?  Only with a partner, and only if we were through-running all the way to Pine Hill or a side trail to somewhere else.  Beautiful forest, although at times you really couldn't see the forest for the trees.

Cool Feature: Once up on the ridge, you're running along the "Catskill Divide" which is the divide between the Delaware and Hudson River watersheds.  Well, it's cool to some of us....maybe you had to be there....

After the run: I ran again, an easy 5.  On the...gasp...poisonous roads.  Kids were playing in the pep band at the school football game, so I clenched my teeth and grabbed a few extra miles to school, then caught a ride back home.  Ahh, the exhaust fumes, rocky shoulders, and redneck drivers.  I am so done with all that.  Not sure what I'm going to do this winter, though.  Snowshoeing on my lunch hour just ain't gonna work. 

Be happy...go run a trail!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Race Report: Monster Marathon, Virgil, NY 9.5.10 - the non-ultra ultra

Distance: 26.2 hilly trail miles -- not ultra distance, just ultra difficulty
Elevation change: 5560 feet
Falls: 2
Close calls: 5
Near misses: 4
Almost really bads: 1
Broken bones: 0
Red stuff leaking out: just a little

  • Drove up from my in-laws house at Cuba Lake the night before and stayed with Chris and Joe of Finger Lakes 50s fame.  Thanks for the hospitality, guys!  Set me up nice for race morning. The Ipswitch Ale was tasty.
  • A perfect day.  Cool and damp, 40s to start, probably never warmer than low 60s.
  • Double out-and-back course. Wasn't sure I'd like that, but it was good.
  • Age-adjusted start.  I walked up to the line at my 7:38 start time (well, ok, got there at 7:39 (ish)--if it's possible to be late, I will be, even from 50 feet away).  And, then, off I went in a blaze of glory (or a slow jog, depends on your perspective).
  • Less than a mile of road (mostly dirt) to the Finger Lakes Trail.  Up it went.  Up.  For a mile plus.  Up. Nice warmup.  Up.  And did I mention it went up?
  • Some nice groove & flow once up (there's that word again) on top. Pretty variable trail surface--rocks, roots, dirt, pine & spruce needles, stream crossings, very short patches of dirt road, a little grass.  Sweet.
  • About 47 minutes to the first aid station at 3.2 miles.  About 10 more minutes to my first fall.  Nothing broken.  Little blood.  Life was good.  I was running a trail, how could it be anything but?
  • Forest monster at 6.3 miles.  You'll just have to run it to find out.
  • 1:22 at the turn, 6.55 miles. 
  • Somehow, 2:54 back at the start. What? (Do the math.)
  • Tired at the split, but got a second wind on the third leg.  Good math.
  • Somewhere north of 16 miles, started to think toenails were overrated.  
  • At 18 (19, 20?), the second fall.  Hydration packs make nice air bags.
  • About 25, the almost really bad.  It was a long way down to that creek.  With lots of rocks on the way.  And gravity would have been in full control.  Whew.
  • 6:22 finish.  They said add 1-2 hours to your road marathon times.  Got it.
  • Wraps, salads, and Roosterfish at the end.  What's not to like?
Recommended?  Oh yeah.  Check it out on the Finger Lakes Runners Club page.

Up next: Virgil Crest 50 miler on some of the same trail sections.  That will be....interesting.