Thursday, June 23, 2005

Summer Solstice 14K Trail Race
Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Summer Solstice Run results
Summer Solstice Run info

Wow, Lake Minnewaska is a beautiful park this time of year. Too bad I was too busy running the race to really appreciate it. (That's why I'm going back in July with my ATB... to really see the park instead of a pretty blur.)

The Summer Solstice Run is a 14 K (8.7 mi) along some of the carriage trails, which were pretty damp and slippery from the rain today. The first 4 miles is pretty much all uphill (with a few short flat sections between the climbs.) Then there's about 2 1/2 miles of downhill/flat followed by about 2 miles or so of more gradual uphill. The sadists who picked the course have the last 30 m or so to the finish line straight up a STEEP hill... on the plus side, the trails are wide and not terribly technical... you could probably run them in road shoes with no problem. And the scenery is great... part of run goes along the cliffs with some wonderful panoramas. If I hadn't been trying to make good time I would have stopped and really enjoyed it.

This was a good evening. I got to the end of the uphill section in about 45 minutes, with really consistent running... just at the edge of losing control of my breathing, but never did. Then I booked through the downhill/flat section (leaving behind these two chatterbox women who were 100 feet behind me for the first 4 miles... they never shut up! I wanted to turn and tell them to run faster, since they clearly had far too much breath to spare. But I didn't.) For the last half I had one person visible on the trail with me... I followed him most of the time (he was about 100 m ahead of me.) The last mile or two hurt, but that's OK. Made good time overall... 93:08, for an average pace of 10:42 per mile... so all the work I've been doing seems to be paying off (and I lucked out and had a good evening.) I came in 160th out of 185... seems more and more fast people are trail running, and more and more of the slow people like me are staying away. When I ran this race 6 or 7 years ago, I finished in about 80 minutes and was 4th or 5th in my division.

Not that the winners have anything to worry about... in my age group (30-39, and soon to be 40-49) the top guys finished in 55-60 minutes. Yow. Must be good to be biomechanically blessed. I couldn't do that if a bear was chasing me the whole way.

I'm really looking forward to going back down there mid-July to see the park at a more leisurely pace.... if you're down that way, I recommend it as a really nice place to go. The 'Gunks in general are gorgeous.


Next up - the Indian Ladder 15K (the race I've run the most times - 5 times in the last 7 years.)

Monday, June 20, 2005

Mount Greylock 5K Trail Race
Sunday, June 19, 2005

Greylock trail race results
Greylock Trail race info

Today the membership of the AMAI Trailrunning Turtles doubled! I managed to convince Miss Linda Moller that she really wanted to run the Greylock 3 mile trail race (and despite her protests about being out of shape and so on, she did really well!)

We met bright and early (well... early...) and headed over to Adams and Greylock Glen. A fairly scenic drive, other than the stretch through Pittsfield. Checked in, went through the usual pre-race stuff (dressing, strapping up the various injured bits, and standing in line at the outhouse.) After a brief pre-race meeting (which was mostly for the crazy folks doing the 14 miler up and over and around the mountain) - off we went!

Since all the runners started at the same time, we hit a bottleneck pretty quickly... but then the 2 groups split and we headed off on the "easier" run. Easy for Greylock, at least. The trail was fairly technical and had a lot of climbing in the first half - found myself sucking wind a LOT. We got to run along a stream and through a small covered bridge, which was kind of neat. Finally we emerged from the woods and had a little over a mile of pretty much non-stop downhill to the finish -- if only I'd had some juice left in my legs at that point...

I made it in 32:34, Miss Moller finished in 37:26 (pretty darn good for someone who hasn't been running trails!) We snagged some munchies and some stuff to drink and then - time to head back home!

It was cool having company for the race - I'll probably have a tough time convincing her to come over for it next year, since I think I'll shoot for the 14 miler. Either way, it should be a good time - the folks from the Western Massachusetts Athletic Club are a great group to run races with!


Monday, June 06, 2005

Trail running in Mt Washington State Forest
Sunday, June 5, 2006

Mt Washington State Forest info

photo slideshow

Back when I lived in the Berkshires, one of my favorite places to run and XC ski was over in the Mt Washington State Forest. While there are a lot of uphills to run, you usually won't see too many other people, and the woods can be very peaceful and very pretty.

Given that this has been the year for me to re-visit some old running routes, I decided to drive down to the park and run a 10 mile loop along the Ashley Hill trail up to Mt Frissell, then along the South Taconic trail and loop back to the Ashley Hill to return to the trail head.

One of the things I'm finding as I run in the Berkshires is that the trails are much more technical than the realtively "tame" trails near Albany. Makes for a harder run... but also good training. So I guess in a lot of ways I don't really mind. And it's great to be back in the Berkshires again, even if only for a little while.

While out on my run I had a unique experience that showed that today wasn't my day to die... for which I am very appreciative. I was several miles into the run when I heard something rustle by my feet; also caught a slithery movement with my peripheral vision. I know what THAT means! So I jumped into the air (and probably shouted "SNAKE!!!!") and landed a few feet away, turned to see if I could see the culprit... and coiled in the middle of the trail was the biggest freakin' timber rattlesnake I've ever seen (OK, the ONLY one I've ever seen in the wild... but this sucker was big, I'd guess 6-8 feet uncoiled.)

Apparently he was just as shocked as I was, so he coiled before striking (or maybe they have to do that... my rattlesnake physiology is pretty weak) and I jumped far enough away from him that he didn't strike. In other words, some higher power was looking out for me.

Since I had to come back that way, I marked the trail a few feet away from the snake so I'd be careful coming back through. (Of course, he was long gone by the time I returned to that stretch of trail.) And I kept my eyes glued to the trail from then on (which is probably why I missed my turnoff later on and added an extra mile or so to an already long run as I went down the wrong trail and then had to backtrack.

Having run that trail many times previously and never seen a rattlesnake, I can only assume I was "lucky" today (in many ways.) I must admit, though, it's going to be a bit nervewracking when I go there to run again.

The run itself was long and exhausting (it was supposed to be 10 miles and take 2 1/2 hrs - it turned into 12 and took 4 hours, with my water supply pretty well gone when I was still a few miles from the trailhead - it was MUCH warmer than I'd expected, really a beautiful late spring day and a great day for a run.) Throw in a massive adrenaline dump about 90 minutes in, and I'm fried.

I'll post some photos from along the trail... unfortunately I used all my film before getting to the top of the mountain, so I don't have any pictures of the gorgeous views. Maybe next time.


P.S. a side note - I ran in three states! Much of the park is in Massachusetts, but some of the Taconic trail dips across the border into New York. And at the top of Mt Frissell is the Tri-State marker, which shows where the borders of MA, NY, and CT intersect... so I was also in Connecticut very briefly. Pretty cool...