Monday, October 31, 2016

A Shoes Post - Brooks Cascadia 11

I've not run for... awhile. I've hiked, oh how I've hiked, but running - not so much.

In fact my running shoes are from 2009. Saucony Omni 8's. Since then the world has changed, I've changed. I've hiked a few thousand miles, I even jogged a few of those miles. But most of those miles have been on trails, and many of those miles were in the Salomon X Ultra 2.

For the past couple weeks, I'd broken out my old running shoes. The rubber on the bottom felt a bit odd, like it had hardened over the years. The running itself felt good though! On my trail runs I've been wearing my hiking shoes - Salewa Wildfire. The Wildfire is a great shoe, but it's an approach shoe, not designed with trail running in mind. Both, while comfortable enough, leave something to be desired.

Songbird and I went to Potomac Running Store yesterday at the Village of Leesburg to browse some shoes. Fortunately this store has a good selection of trail runners too, unlike their other stores. I tried a few on, while also researching online and I found the Brooks Cascadia 11 to be the most comfortable. I'll give a decent review of the shoe once I've put a few miles on them. The employees at the store were super helpful too. Songbird also got a pair of shoes while we were there, and I think she may have tried on every pair they had available! But I think she did great to find the perfect pair to meet her needs.

Of course, when you get some new kicks, you also need to get new Green Superfeet insoles and some awesome new Swiftwick cushiony socks too!

And it's a great day to throw out some OLD shoes!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A New Hope

Since the trail run a couple Thursdays ago, I've been slowly training and upping my activity levels (going from a stroll around the block to anything is upping!). First couple days after the trail run my muscles were awesomely sore! I rested a day and dove back in.

Below is my weekly(+) summary of activities.

Friday Oct 14 - 2.3 miles walking, .4 running
Monday Oct 17 - 1.3 walking, 1.2 running
Tuesday Oct 18 - 2.8 walking, 1.6 running
Wednesday Oct 19 - 2.5 walking, 1.2 running
Thursday Oct 20 - 1.8 walking
Friday Oct 21 - 1 hour stationary bike
Saturday Oct 22 - 1 hour stair-climber
Monday Oct 23 - 3.1 walking, 1.2 running

Not a terrible start to do after work, and on a cruise in the Bahamas. Definitely need to begin extending the runs, but it for sure feels better already. Plus the cooler weather is awesome to run in! This week I'll see some time to do another trail run on Thursday or Friday.

Some challenges up-coming will be a bunch or travel, cold weather, and shorter days. I'll negotiate them all and keep posting progress!! Songbird and I will be doing cross fit which will definitely help get us through both dark and cold times! Work travel, I'll need to very actively set time aside in the morning or evening to hit the treadmill or find area close to the hotels to run.

On the note of the cruise, went out of Miami for a work knowledge exchange. Good to see a lot of familiar faces, really good to catch up with everyone! While only a long weekend, the trip was enjoyable!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Trail Runner

I've been needing a personal physical goal for awhile. After completing the Appalachian Trail in 2012, it took me a year to not have incredibly vivid flashbacks pretty much all the time. So that was really a recovery year.

Lately I've been way less active than I've wanted to be; hiking on the occasional weekend, backpacking a few times a year, a very infrequent bike ride. Goal-less.

When Songbird asked if I wanted to join Crossfit, I said "No", I didn't feel like doing that. When she alluded to it in conversation I didn't respond, when she asked again more adamantly I began to introspect as to why I had no interest. I found that I didn't want to do it just for the 'health' of it. I would, however, want to do it had I a goal. I am very goal oriented.

Well, the last hike I did was nearly 25 miles - 16 miles the first day, the rest the following day. We'd started at 10am and finished by 4. We had 30+ pound packs. And WOW was I sore the few days afterward. Really muscle sore. But the thing is - I LIKE muscle soreness. Maybe not that sore though. I began thinking about that trail in particular. We could've done it in a day. Easy(-ish). Started earlier, carried less. If I could've easily (I say that sarcastically because it would've whipped my butt, more so I know I could've been able to to complete it - I would've had to dig deep though) done that trail in a day, could I go further? Could I go much further? Could I do the Four State Challenge VA to PA (43+ miles)? Could I do 50? Could I go all the way around the Massanutten Trail (71 miles)? Could I do the entirety of the AT in Shenandoah (105.3)? I might be able to - with training.

Karl Meltzer is 48, and a bad-ass. Anish is just an ultra-bad-ass.Jennifer Pharr-Davis. Scott Jurek. All recently have beaten the AT speed record. Now I'm not saying I'm going to try to attain that, or even any Long Distance hiking trail. I don't have the desire to do that for 48 days. But if they can do it for 48 days consecutively - I might be able to do it for a SINGLE day, right?!

A did a few marathon+ plus days while hiking the AT. My training ground was... every day before that. I can't train that way any longer, I've obligations, an awesome understanding wife that I like to see, a wonderful house that I like sleeping in, and great friends I get to see on the weekends and during the week. Doing Crossfit as part of the equation makes sense. I've got my goal now. I want to see how far I can go on foot, more importantly, on a trail.

To that end, I began today. I went for a 5.5 mile run according to the mapped mileage (5.9 mile run according to GPS, which is what I'll be posting). It felt GOOD. After I warmed up. I walked up the hills, and ran on the flats and downhill sections. I trip less and have a more surer gait when I'm going fast. I focus on the trail in front of me, get into a zone, and feel like I'm floating over the terrain - rocks roots and all.I've done bits like this before, but never in a premeditated way with a goal.

I'm going to begin posting here weekly with stats for the week, including when I start Crossfit with Songbird, and what other activities I'm doing. I'll be using this as a log for myself, as well as a convenient (and public!) place to track progress. Also, to tell others a goal is a way to keep focused and to keep training! I'll also use this as a place to rate the trails I'm training on, when I'm able to actually train on trails.

I ran from Route 7 to Raven Rocks. I actually really like this for this type of training. At close to 6 miles out and back it can be done fairly quickly. It also helps this is the closest nice trail to the house. It has a lot of roots and rocks, with some nice gentle grades, as well as some steeper sections. And the view at the mid-way point is great, with some nice rocks to lay down on and stretch out on, if need be (I needed it!). It took me about 3 miles to warm up, but on the way back from the view after the short rest, I felt awesome, really loose and limber. A wonderful fall day, with squirrels everywhere, deer, and a few backpackers that offered to be my support staff when I go to break the record (whoa there fellas, don't put that on me!!)

North Fork Mountain Trail

Flip came to visit and suggested we go for a hike. Not one to back really ever say no to that, we made plans to go to North Fork Mountain Trail in WV very close to Seneca Rocks.

I'm actually very surprised that I'd never seen or hiked this route previously, as it's very close to many favorite spots, including: Spruce Knob, Seneca Creek, and Dolly Sods. I may have viewed it briefly but decided that being a Point-to-Point hike made it logistically more difficult. Regardless, upon reading the description on Hiking Upward, I was sold!

Hikers describe the North Fork Mountain Trail (NFMT) as having "relentless views". They are correct, there are so many overlooks we couldn't mark them all on our hike map. If you want a view, walk no more than 25 yards to the west off the trail and you will find one! HikingUpward

I was excited to get out and see a new trail, and to see the back of Seneca Rock. One caveat was that the trail was mostly dry, maybe a flowing spring about half way through, but not to be counted on. I decided to carry enough water for 2 full days - just over 6L, close to 14 pounds. Even with the water weight my pack was ~32lbs.

We drove separately to accommodate the Point-to-Point hike, leaving before first light on Sunday. We arrived at the northern terminus on Smoke Hole Rd right in Cabin, WV at around 9am and made the 40 min drive down to the southern terminus at the top of North Mountain. The weather had started foggy and misty as we had been driving, but quickly cleared and the temperature was wonderful for hiking.

The trail follows the ridge-line for most of the 25 miles, dropping off for short periods of time. Often the trail is only 25 yards away from the ridge top, as the description above states, however, it's still 25 yards off! I wondered why the trail didn't follow the ridge and provide continuous views. But there were plenty of overlooks all the same - the valley overlooking I've driven many times on the way to or from Dolly Sods, or Seneca Creek.

We made very quick time, making it to a great campsite at mile 8 and walking a few more miles to have a great lunch overlooking the western views and Seneca Rock from the reverse side.

At mile 10 we made it to a gas pipe line/forest road and evidence of 4-wheeling, partying, and general red-neckery was clear evident. Beer cans (and shitty beer at that) littered the road for the next two miles, along with other debris. At mile 12 we came to the 12 mile mark and the suggested campsite on Hiking Upward. Keep walking! The campsite is on the road, on a hairpin turn. Littered with piles of beer cans and piles of empty water jugs - evidently people stash water for the hike and then leave their garbage instead of packing it out. Additionally there was a semi-permanent looking tent there with water jugs hoarded around it, so it may be a vagrant living here.

The next few miles the trail left the ridge by a few hundred yards and went through a burned out, eerie section of new growth and charred standing trees.

Mile 16 we found our slice of heaven. A fantastic campsite a ways off the trail, right on a cliff edge. there was a buffer of rocks on the cliff top that acted like a great wind break for the fire.

The following morning, after a great night sleep in the hammock, we made short work of the remaining 8 miles - the last couple of which dived steeply down into the valley and back to my vehicle. The views were again amazing and plentiful! A strenuous but rewarding day hike could be had by parking at the bottom and coming up to Chimney Rock, about a 6 mile out and back.