Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Hiking & Running at Ice Glen & Laura's Tower, Monument Mountain, and Fountain Pond State Park
Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sunday, September 28, 2008

2 Mile Walk Along the Genesee Riverway
Sunday, September 28, 2008

Ann and I wanted to get outside for a bit, so we headed up to Turning Point Park to walk on the Genesee Riverway boardwalk over the river in the Turning Point Basin... that's always a good place to see some nifty wildlife. Heading toward Lake Ontario may have been a mistake... it was raining lightly in Gates, but fairly steadily up in Charlotte. But we decided to brave the elements to headed off down the path anyways... at least we could be fairly sure the boardwalk wouldn't be too crowded! (I think we saw one guy on a bike and one guy fishing... and two people heading out on the path as we were coming back into the parking lot at the end.)

Along the way we saw lots of fish jumping, three herons, the swans and their two grown cygnets (interestingly, the grey one has remained grey... I had thought he'd molt at some point and turn white, but maybe he just isn't old enough yet ) and a few groups of mooching mallards... also a wood duck who remained perched on a log for a surprisingly long time, allowing me to get some nice photos of him.

Fortunately, as we started back, the rain eased up and I was able to get a few pictures... it was actually very scenic (in a grey, foggy way) when it wasn't raining so hard that it was tough to see!

A Short Walk at Mendon Ponds
Sunday, September 28, 2008

Despite the somewhat dreary weather, I didn't want to leave Mendon without getting a few pictures (the leaves are just starting to change, giving some very nice color contrasts in spots) so I headed over to Hopkins Point and walked a short ways down the trail around Hundred Acre Pond. All in all, a very pleasant way to end the morning there!

While I was walking I made a somewhat tentative decision to do the trail run there in November... probably the 10k or 20k, since I don't see myself being ready for such a hilly 50k by then. Attempting the Stone Cat Trail Marathon continues to be an intriguing prospect (both because of the distance and because I've never run it before) but I think Mendon is the better choice, both in terms of cost and my being prepared for the run and ultimately having a good time. (Actually, I just checked and the Stone Cat marathon is full... another reason why Mendon is a better choice!)

NOT-SO-LONG DISTANCE 2008 - Race #22
Rochester Autumn Classic F1 Duathlon
Sunday, September 28, 2008

2008 Autumn Classic Duathlon results

Yesterday I told a couple of folks I've done the various Rochester Classic Du's at Mendon that I could follow the course with my eyes closed. And then last night I wished for a dry morning... could I have done anything more to jinx myself? Rain, rain, rain. Not terribly hard rain, fortunately, but steady enough that at least one competitor wearing glasses (ie. me) spent the whole time looking at the blurry trails and roads in front of him wondering if tiny windshield wipers for glasses really are impractical. This wasn't the first wet du I've done - the 2006 Lake Effect "Snowshoe" Duathlon won that dubious distinction, but that was only 4 miles of running and 12 miles of riding, as opposed to today's 6 mile run and 20 mile ride. On the other hand - it was a heck of a lot warmer today than that first Lake Effect race was!

As I was getting ready to leave Ann looked out the window and commented that I would be running in the fog... I pointed out that running in fog is no big deal and can even be kind of fun, and besides it would probably clear by the time we started. I didn't remind her that I would also be riding in the fog, which is the scary part. At least the rain had let up for the moment. I wish I'd had my camera up front on the ride over to snap some photos - the fog and the barely starting fall colors were very scenic. As I pulled into Mendon Ponds Park I passed one field with a fairly large herd of deer munching away... very cool. Every year I arrive at pretty much the same time, and every year I end up parking further from race HQ - while that bodes well for the future of the event, I'm thinking I may need to get there a bit earlier in the future so that I'm not parking out on the road.

Picked up my packet, which included a truly hideous tech fabric shirt in eye-searing greenish yellow, and then lugged my bike and gear into transition. After that I geared up and went for my typical pre-race walk down to the beach. The fog was thick enough that I couldn't see across Hundred Acre Pond... all in all it was a pretty neat morning for a race. Eventually we all gathered at the starting line, got the usual pre-race briefing which included a special emphasis on being very careful on the slippery roads, and then took off across the fields and into the woods.

more to come...

2008 Event Totals
Run 170.1 mi / 39 hr 21 min
Bike 52.4 mi / 3 hr 46 min
Snowshoe 45.7 mi / 13 hr 19 min

states visited: CT, MA, ME, NH, NY, PA, VT

Saturday, September 27, 2008

1 Mile Walk at Ontario Pathways
Saturday, September 27, 2008

After a rainy morning and afternoon spent first at AMAI's autumn ceremonial breakfast (when folks who've tested for various ranks of black belt get their certificates) and then a 3 hour instructors' meeting, Ann and I were really pleased to see clear skies as we got closer to Rochester. We had wanted to get outdoors for a bit, so we stopped at Ontario Pathways in Phelps and walked down the trail and along the creek a ways.

Nice weather, several pretty waterfalls, the beginnings of fall color, and walking in the woods with my sweetheart... what more could I ask for?

OK, OK... how about dry weather for the duathlon tomorrow morning...


Friday, September 26, 2008

7.4 Mile Run in the Pine Bush
Friday, September 26, 2008

I had planned to run either Wednesday or Thursday night, but found myself with a serious lack of both energy and motivation. So rain or no rain, tonight was a definite night to run. Headed over to the Great Dune trailhead of the Pine Bush, figuring I'd do some variation of the perimeter loop, since the yellow and blue trails are still closed for "habitat restoration."

It felt really good to be out in the woods again, and the rain stayed a very fine drizzle, so it was actually a pretty cool evening... fog drifting among the trees and so on. Turns out they've cleared the cut trees off the yellow trail, so that was runnable... but it bums me out to be running along the edge of a torn-up open hillside when it used to be a wonderful shaded woods path. Curiosity got the better of me, so I ended up heading down into what used to be the old field and ran some trails I haven't been on in a long time... that was fun!

Along the way I saw flocks of finches, two bucks with antlers coming in nicely, and a small herd of deer. And best of all I managed to get back to the car before it got too dark to see the path, since I didn't have batteries with me for my headlamp.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

15 Mile Ride at the Corning Preserve & Schuyler Flatts
Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I had originally planned to take tonight off and just do some work, but the weather was so nice on my ride home that I decided to go for a short, easy ride... along the way I saw a replica of the Half Moon (or more accurately, the Halve Maen), the ship which Henry Hudson sailed up the Hudson River as far as Albany in 1609 before concluding that the river was not a route to the much-sought Northwest Passage.

As nice as it was when I got out of work, it sure got chilly quickly when the sun started to set!


Monday, September 22, 2008

17.5 Mile Ride Along the Mohawk Hudson Bike Path
Monday, September 22, 2008

As the various weather people talked about today being the first official day of fall, I found myself thinking about the irony that even though I have fairly rigorous training as an astronomer I don't really associate the seasons with the equinoxes and solstices in my own head. I've been thinking of it as "autumn" since the start of September!

The change of the seasons is most definitely upon us... I ended up riding the last 6 miles or so in ever-increasing darkness. Before too much longer I'll need to break out the mountain bike and lights to ride after work, even on the bike path - the wider tires are just much more forgiving and safer to ride on in the dark...

I also found myself contemplating using tights... it wasn't quite that cold yet, but it was definitely getting there!


Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Long Drive Back to Albany
Sunday, September 21, 2008

Ack. That was a long haul. Left southern Acadia at 1:45 PM and arrived in Albany at around 10:15 PM. Fortunately the weather wasn't so great... it would have been the pits to spend a beautiful afternoon driving for hours and hours.

Traffic ranged from tolerable to god-awful, with the worst being the five miles or so of backed up, bumper-to-bumper traffic at the Mass Turnpike/I-84 interchange. There was also a short intense downpour as I was driving down I-495 which reduced visibility to almost nothing and had traffic moving at a 30 mph crawl for 15 minutes or so... that was scary.

I have to admit, it was nice to get past I-84 along the Mass Pike - the traffic cleared out a lot, and I was on a road I've travelled a fair number of times in the last few years for various races. While I would have rather stayed at Acadia for a few more days, I was pretty darn glad when the drive was finally over and I was lugging gear from my car up to my apartment.

All in all, this was a fun weekend... despite the horrendous amount of time on the road at each end!

ACADIA! 2.7 Mile Hike Along the Ocean Path
Sunday, September 21, 2008
ACADIA! 1.6 Mile Hike Across Sand Beach and on Great Head
Sunday, September 21, 2008

Saturday, September 20, 2008

ACADIA! Driving the Park Loop Road
Saturday, September 20, 2008
ACADIA! A Brief Visit to Sand Beach
Saturday, September 20, 2008
ACADIA! 11.3 Mile Ride Around Bubble Pond, Jordan Pond, & Eagle Lake
Saturday, September 20, 2008

Shortly after my drive to the summit of Cadillac Mountain I parked at the Bubble Pond trailhead... in the last available space. I have to admit it would have been really aggravating to get there and have no place to park! Broke out my ATB and gear and headed on down the carriage trail along the western shore of Bubble Pond.

The carriage road along Bubble Pond was slightly rougher than the ones I'd run on in the morning, but still pretty easy to ride... at least in terms of the trail surface. The grade was another matter... this ride is listed as "moderate" in the AMC Discover Acadia National Park guidebook and it involved a decent amount of climbling, though nothing too terribly steep. Maybe I would have thought it was easier if I hadn't run a half marathon in the morning! On the plus side, the climbs were balanced out by some long sweet downhills.

After leaving Bubble Pond, the carriage road wound its way toward Jordan Pond, passing under a nice escarpment in the process... I even saw a nice little trail-side waterfall. Eventually I crossed the Loop Road and rode past the Jordan Pond access areas, then had a rather disappointing stretch where there were enough woods between me and the water that I couldn't really see anything, despite the fact that the views of the pond were supposed to be a highlight of the ride. In the end, it turned out I just needed to be patient... further up the hill the trail opened up on both sides as it traversed an enormous rock slide along the eastern slope of Penobscot Mountain, with the steep ridge of the mountain to the left and a rocky drop down to the pond on the right. It's too bad I was there later in the afternoon, when the trail was in the shade of the mountain - the views were great as it was, and probably would be positively awesome in the morning sunlight.

After that the path headed back into the woods and I eventually found my way down to the Eagle Lake carriage road. Instead of taking the right turn uphill to loop around the southern end of the lake and make my way back to Bubble Pond, I decided to go left and do most of the loop around Eagle Lake in the reverse direction of how I'd run it that morning. In other words, more sweet downhill riding! All too quickly I came to the north end of the lake. Toyed briefly with the idea of doing a lollipop ride out to Witch Hole Pond, but decided it was getting too late in the day, plus I wasn't sure I wanted to add another 4-5 miles of riding. So instead I continued around Eagle Lake, with some glorious views across the Lake from the relatively open northern shore and best of all - sunshine!

Despite a little bit of climbing, all too quickly I found myself at the turnoff to Bubble Pond... I guess in some ways I was lucky, because I didn't have to climb the steep hill at the south end of the lake. A short distance later I crossed the Loop Road and found myself back at the car. After loading the bike on the rack and changing into warmer clothes, I took a short walk down to the shore of Bubble Pond before heading back out on the road for the southern end of the park.

Despite my legs being more than a bit tired, this was a fun ride - I wish I could stay longer and explore even more of the carriage roads! Maybe I can do a little riding tomorrow morning...

ACADIA! Cadillac Mountain Summit Drive
Saturday, September 20, 2008

After taking care of paying for my motel room, I spent some time relaxing, eating my lunch, and trying to decide how to spend the afternoon. In the end I settled on riding what was supposed to be one of the easier carriage road loops, along Jordan Pond and Bubble Pond. Initially I thought I'd save money and avoid the Park Loop Road, but as I was driving back down to Acadia I changed my mind and made my first stop the Visitors' Center, where I picked up yet another park map and paid $20 for a 1 week pass to drive inside the park itself.

As I was heading along the Loop Road to the Bubble Pond parking area, I saw signs for the road to the summit of Cadillac Mountain and decided to drive to the top today instead of waiting for tomorrow morning. Cadillac Mountain is the highest peak on Mount Desert Island and also the highest point within 25 miles of the eastern coast of the US. There were some great views as I drove to the summit, along with several turnoffs where I could stop and take pictures. In particular, at a number of points I was able to look out over all of Eagle Lake (which I'd run around in the morning) and could see a number of peaks in the distance, as well as other ponds and bays.

The summit itself was crawling with people... I can only imagine what it must be like in the summer. Still, there were some excellent views out over Bar Harbor and the Porcupine Islands to the northeast, and out over the Atlantic Ocean and the Cranberry Islands to the southwest. I doubt my pictures can even begin to do the view justice.

If I visit Acadia again someday, hopefully I can hike to the summit instead of driving!

NOT-SO-LONG DISTANCE 2008 - Race #21
MDI YMCA Half Marathon
Saturday, September 20, 2008

2008 MDI YMCA Half Marathon results

The general practice for this race is for runners to pick up their race packets the day before, presumably to prevent huge lines as 400 runners all try to get their stuff the morning of the race. Since I couldn't get there the day before, I'd made arrangements to get my packet this morning... except I had to pick it up before 7:15 AM. So I got to the Bar Harbor YMCA at 7 AM and then had a 90 minute wait until the fun began. One plus - I had no problem finding a place to park!

I decided to walk down Main Street to kill some time, get a look at the waterfront, and get in a little warmup. Saw lots of shops that I decided I might want to check out after the race, and ended up at a very nice little park overlooking the harbor. Lots of boats to see, of all shapes and sizes, including a big cruise ship off in the distance. Took some nifty pictures of boats and birds (mainly gulls, but there was also a loon out on the water) and then headed back to the YMCA to get ready to run.

Last night had been pretty chilly, but my walk convinced me that I'd be fine with a short-sleeved shirt during the race. Changed into my running gear, waited in line at one of the bathrooms and listened to the locals talk about what a tough course it is (great...) and then wandered around outside for a while waiting for things to start. We certainly had a great morning - cool and sunny - and I was really looking forward to getting underway, despite all the hills I'd heard we'd be running up (though I did revise my finishing time estimate to definitely over 2 1/2 hours.) A few minutes before things were scheduled to start we all wandered over to Main Street and clustered behind the starting line. I think the RD may have tried to say something before we started, but I couldn't hear anything over the racket people were making. And then, with the honk of an air horn, we were off and running!

The first part of the run took us down Main Street, retracing my walk from an hour or so previous... at the waterfront we turned and ran out of town, at which point the hills began. I passed the first mile marker in about 11 minutes - not a bad pace, considering that a lot of the first mile was a gradual downhill and I was trying to take it really easy at the start. Leaving town we had a long uphill climb to get to one of the entrance roads to Acadia, at which point we turned into the park and ran mostly uphill to one of the entrance to the carriage road system and (hurray!) left pavement behind for about 8 miles.

The carriage roads we were on were in much better shape than I'd anticipated - they were essentially hard-packed dirt roads and easy running. We ran through woods with some nice views of ponds and wetlands, generally heading uphill, sometimes very gradually and other times a bit more steeply. At a couple of points we had some nice views of mountains off in the distance, too. I continued to maintain about an 11 1/2 minute pace, which felt decent going up the hills... passed a few folks as we made our way around Eagle Lake (unfortunately, we could only really see the lake through the trees) but often was passed in turn when I stopped to snap a photo or grab a sip of water. About 6 miles in came one of the hills I heard about - a decent climb about a mile long, but once we reached the top we had a series of downhill stretches where I started opening up the throttle a bit, both because it was easier to run downhill and because I was feeling good and thought I could pick up the pace for the 2nd half. Started consistently passing more runners and a few walkers (they'd started an hour before us) and worked at pushing a tougher pace as we came around the other side of the lake (which included some great views across the water... unfortunately, clouds had rolled in so it wasn't quite as scenic as it would have been otherwise.)

Sadly, once we had gone all the way around Eagle Lake it was time to say goodbye to the carriage roads and return to pavement... starting with another long climb. But one plus to that was a lot of downhills to run afterwards, where I really tried to push along, especially as the miles ticked down and I got closer to the finish. Passed some more runners and walkers... I think some of them wondered why I was pushing hard, but I really wanted to finish strong and see what I could do time-wise with the energy I had left. Finally got off the main road and took some quieter streets down into town, with volunteers periodically telling me I was almost there... in the end, the finale came quicker than I'd expected (mostly because I hadn't realized what direction we'd be approaching the finish line from) - I took a dirt path through some trees and bushes and found myself running as hard as I could across the athletic fields, to hit the finish at 2 hr 20 min 18 sec - a much better time than I'd expected (I figured I'd have to struggle to break 2 1/2 hours) and a sub-11 min pace, with definite negative splits (I ran the 2nd half faster than the first.)

After that I snagged a snack and staggered around trying to get my breath back and keep my legs from shutting down on me... changed into dry clothes and went into town both to keep moving and to do a little shopping (gifts and lunch.) Then it was back to the motel to pay for my room, eat my lunch, and figure out where in Acadia I wanted to go for the afternoon.

I definitely had a good run today... some of that was probably the conditions (cool weather) and some the fact that the distance wasn't crazy and the course was not that tough compared to the races I've run this summer... what can I say, running/hiking singletrack up the side of a mountain puts courses like this in a certain perspective, which is a good thing. I've had enough miserable races this year that I appreciate the good ones. I was able to run up all the hills and I feel like I ran a smart race that left me with enough energy to run progressively harder in the 2nd half. I don't know that I'll come back to this one next year - it's a nice course but nothing that screams out to me that I have to run it again, and the trip is definitely on the expensive side and more than a little time consuming. But I'm really glad I did it this year, both because I enjoyed the race and because it put me in the position to spend some time exploring a small part of Acadia National Park for the rest of the weekend.

Next up: the Rochester Autumn Classic Duathlon. This will be the 8th time I've done one of the variations of the Yellowjacket Racing du course at Mendon... should be fun!


2008 Event Totals
Run 164.1 mi / 38 hr 18 min
Bike 32.4 mi / 2 hr 19 min
Snowshoe 45.7 mi / 13 hr 19 min

states visited: CT, MA, ME, NH, NY, PA, VT

Friday, September 19, 2008

On the Road Again...
Friday, September 19, 2008

Got off to much later start than I'd hoped for, and didn't leave Albany until 4 PM... which gave me an 11:30-12 midnight arrival time at my motel 15 minutes from Bar Harbor. The drive was exactly what I expected... a bloody long time (almost 8 hours) spent in the car, with a few tense moments of dealing with other idiot drivers.

The first 4 hours were fairly routine... I've driven both the MA Turnpike and I-495 a few times over the last couple of years, both for races and even for the trip to Nova Scotia Ann and I made back in 2004. It was kind of cool crossing the NH/Maine border and looking down the river to see the bridge we ran over about 1 mile into the Eastern States 20 Mile race in March 2007.

After that I was mostly in (for me) parts unknown - I've only driven to Maine once before, and we took a different route to get to and from the border crossing into New Brunswick, Canada. It was also getting dark, and driving through Maine in the dark was a bit nerve-wracking... it's bad enough to be concerned about deer darting out in front of the car, but seeing signs warning you to watch out for moose crossing the road puts a scary spin on that, given the size of those critters!

Had a few minutes of worry as I was cruising the final few miles and noticed that some of the motel signs weren't lit, but fortunately mine was... unfortunately, there was no one at the office! I spent a few minutes worrying that I'd be spending a very cold night trying to sleep in the car before reaching the owner on an outdoor courtesy phone, so that he could tell me to check the key box because my key was probably in it. Hurray!

Room was pretty basic and pretty cold, but I figured out how to get the heater working, grabbed my sleeping bag out of the car for an extra layer on the bed, and crawled under the covers for a few hours sleep before heading into town in the morning...

Friday, September 19, 2008

That strikes me as a really good question to be asking about my upcoming trip, seeing as it will entail 16+ hours of driving in just over 2 days and a decent amount of money spent on gas, a motel room, food, and so on. So why exactly am I making this crazy trip to Bar Harbor this weekend?

Can't really discount the "it's an adventure" factor, though the last time I did a crazy race weekend based on that (the snowshoe triple weekend back in February) I decided I would never do that particular combo of races again, and I would probably never drive 4+ hours and spend the night at a motel for anything less than a 15k (and that would have to be a darn cool 15k to boot!)

I've been contemplating running the Mount Desert Island Marathon for a while now... in some ways this trip is research for that, checking out the area and the terrain, as well as learning just how bad the drive out there really is. I don't think much of driving 4 hours after all the times I've gone to Rochester over the last eight years... but 8 hours is a whole other story!

I've also wanted to visit Acadia National Park ever since I ran into info about it while researching the trip Ann and I made to Nova Scotia back in 2004... this is a chance to see some of Acadia during and after the race and figure out if I should try to convince Ann that we really should go there sometime.

So I guess that's what it comes down to... research! (OK, it's also a potentially fun adventure... and don't discount the fact that I am CRAZY.)


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

6.3 Mile Run in & around the Pine Bush
Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Some days there are just too many options for places to run... I knew I was going to hit the trails in the Pine Bush for 6-8 miles, but which section? I finally went with my gut feeling and ended up at the Blueberry Hill East trailhead, looking forward to a nice mix of hills and flats, woods and fields.

Unfortunately, a little over 2 miles into my run I hit a snag - the trail was blocked off and marked with a sign that a large part of that section was closed for two days due to herbicide application. Phooey. If it had been mowing I'd have ignored it (they don't mow at night, after all) but potentially toxic chemicals... not something to mess with. So I headed back the way I came, then took another trail down to the Blueberry Hill West trailhead... that required a quick dash through a small section of the closed area, but I was willing to risk that.

From there I spent a while running on local roads until I reached the Kaikout Kill Barrens trailhead, where I was able to head back into the woods. Ran half a loop, then turned around and ran the full loop in reverse before heading back toward the closed area. Made another quick dash through and was back on the trails I'd started out on.

It was getting pretty dark by the time I looped around the fields of Blueberry Hill East, so I broke out my headlamp and tried something new, taking a trail I'd never been on before to another one of the many parking lots in the Columbia Circle office complexes. Then it was just a matter of making my way through the lots back to my car, to wrap up a rather unusual and somewhat disjointed run.

In another day and a half - I'm off to Maine!


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

10.3 Mile Run on the Mohawk Hudson Bike Path
Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I don't know if it was all the sleep I got last night or the cool temperatures or running in the dark... but tonight was just a good night for a run. On several occasions when I checked my Garmin I was doing between 10 and 11 minute miles... a positively bookin' pace for me. Or maybe it's running on the nice smooth bike path - after all the gnarly trails I've run in the past few months, the bike path almost seems too easy sometimes!

I did get off to a slow start, first because there was a heron and an egret at the edge of the canoe launch, so I had to get some pictures... and even after they flew off, there were two green herons who seemed incredibly nonchalant about my presence... though they both took off when an oblivious bimbo yacking on her bloody cell phone came crashing down the path with her dog.

After a short warmup walk down the path, I made a side trip to snap some shots of the abundant yellow flowers, then finally started the actual running, though I did take a break about 2 miles later to get some photos of the sunset over the river. After that I was able to concentrate on running until the last few miles, when I paused a few times to try to get pictures of the moon... in the process I found a setting on my camera that I think works better for that than the one I'd been using previously, which is pretty cool.

One more run to go, probably tomorrow night in the Pine Bush... and then I give my running legs a rest until Saturday's half marathon in Maine.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

6.1 Mile Run at Thacher Park & Along the Long Path
Sunday, September 14, 2008

I woke up at around 4 AM to the sound of fairly heavy rain outside... then again at 5:30 AM when my alarm went off, and it was still raining. Checked the forecast... more rain, for much of the day. Debated about going to Olana and Tivoli Bays, and decided that 2 1/2 to 3 hours of round trip driving so that I could get soaked running in the rain didn't especially appeal to me. Crawled back into bed and enjoyed sleeping late on a Sunday morning.

Of course, when I woke up the rain had stopped, and the sky was clearing... sigh. Maybe I should have gone south to run after all.

I spent a while debating over where to run this afternoon, and finally settled on Thacher Park and the Long Path which comes into the park along its western border and then runs through the park toward Altamont. Overall, the Long Path is a 320+ mile hiking trail that runs from the NJ side of the George Washington Bridge to just past Thacher Park. Much of the path is hiking trail, though some sections are routed along local roads where off-road access isn't available. One section of the trail runs between Beaver Dam Road at the western edge of Thacher and then up and over a ridge to Elm Drive. It's a tough run, since the first part is virtually all uphill, but then it turns more rolling and eventually comes out at a cleared area on top of the ridge, with nice views off to the west and south. The original path from the high point was rough, especially in the summer when it became overgrown, but in the last year or so that was rerouted to take a more direct route switchbacking down the other side of the ridge toward Elm drive... a nice path with a fairly easy downhill grade, good running overall.

Unfortunately, word came down about a week ago that the section of trail up and over Roemer's High Point would soon be closed by order of the landowner, and the trail has been reblazed to follow the roads and bypass the closed section. I couldn't find any details anywhere, but knew I wanted to get up there at least one more time before legal access is withdrawn...

Since I wasn't sure how long I'd be out and about, I parked along Beaver Dam Rd (in case I finished after sundown, when they close the gates to the parking areas at Thacher) right near the point where the Long Path crosses the road. I immediately found out how word had gotten around that the trail over the High Point would be closing - there was a sign posted on the gate! I did a short loop along some fairly level trails that roughly parallel the road, then headed up the hill, planning to run the High Point loop before stopping to refill my water bottles and spend some more time on the Thacher trails.

The initial uphills through the fields can be a little misleading... first there's a relatively easy grade, which gets you thinking "this isn't too bad." Then the path goes around a curve and climbs a second, steeper hill, before leveling off briefly. Just when you think the worst is over, there's another curve, and then the really steep section kicks in. I don't think I've ever managed to run all the way to the top, and I'm usually gasping when the path finally levels off as it heads into the woods. Another sign about the trail closing greeted me there, and then I had a short level bit before the last steep climb - the trail used to switchback to the top of the ridge, but it was rerouted a year or so ago to climb pretty much straight to the top... another gasper.

From there the trail runs along the ridge, rolling and gradually climbing until it runs into a series of old logging roads. Then it follows the dirt roads over rolling terrain, until finally it tops out and comes out into an open area on top of the ridge - Roemer's High Point.

The view from the top was a bit murky today, but still pretty nice... I could see the houses and farms in the valley, and the mountains and Thompsons Lake off in the distance. I spent a while taking what will probably be the last pictures I get from up there, then headed down the path on the other side of the ridge, through woods and brush fields before finally coming out at Elm Drive.

I briefly considered going back on the trail, but decided I didn't particularly want to climb back top the top and I definitely didn't want to deal with the steep downhills back to the park. So I headed off down the road instead. My Vasque trail shoes handled the pavement better than I expected, though I think I'm going to try to get insoles with more cushioning. Along the way I passed a farm with two goats in a field, and from the way one of them was walking I think his knees were grumbling as much as mine. (Mine have been especially cranky since iaido class Friday, since we spent a big chunk of the time doing yin-no-kata and yan-no-kata, both of which involve a lot of kneeling.)

Got back to the car, and between my grumbling knees and the heat/humidity, decided to call it an evening and settle for a short run instead of the 11-14 miles I'd been planning to do. I'll get out tomorrow for a longer stretch.

I'll miss the run up to the High Point - there are places with better scenery, but this one was a nice combination of a tough workout and a nice view at the top. When word first started to get around about the trail closure, there were some folks who had some pretty negative things to say about the landowner... but the way I see it, he's well within his rights to decide whether or not to allow access to his land, and I'm grateful he allowed us to use these trails for as long as he did. Hopefully the property will remain wild and not be cleared for logging or development or set up to be destroyed by yoyos on ATVs.


Saturday, September 13, 2008

Saturday, September 13, 2008

I had planned to go to New Hampshore to run the Pisgah 23k trail race tomorrow... but as the end of the week approached it became more and more clear that trip just was not meant to be... between being pretty tired from a busy week and the forecast of possible rain tomorrow, I just couldn't muster up much enthusiasm to make a 5 hour round trip drive to stagger around in the woods in the rain for 4+ hours.

Right now I'm planning to head down to Olana for the Barry Hopkins Run - a 3.8 time prediction run or 7.6 mile race on the carriage trails and roads of the Historic Site (I'm looking at running the longer distance.) After that I'm hoping to go a little bit further south and run some trails at the Tivoli Bays WMA.

Of course, that could all change depending on how I feel in the morning...

21.1 Mile Ride at the Corning Preserve & Schuyler Flatts Cultural Park
Saturday, September 13, 2008

After two days of relative inactivity (I'd actually planned to go for a run on each day, but first lack of time and then both lack of time and rain derailed those plans) I finally got outside for a bit of a workout... didn't feel like driving any significant distance, so I headed down to the river to ride through the Corning Preserve. I tend not to ride there much as the season progresses - the path is only a bit over 4 miles long, so even with side trips to Schuyler Flatts and down to Hudson Riverfront Park, I have to ride laps to accumulate any real distance. But tonight it fit the bill... nearby and fairly easy riding.

After the last couple of days of cool temperatures, today's warm humid weather was took a little getting used to... fortunately riding generates a breeze. (Though my glasses tended to fog up whenever I stopped.)

Along the way I had a great view of a cormorant perched on some branches just offshore... as I rode by he had his wings spread, but then he tucked them in when I stopped to take some pictures. Also spent a couple of minutes watching a heron in the small inlet just past the entrance to the preserve... but by then it was getting dim and it was tough to get good pictures. Of course, one advantage of the sun going down... even downtown Albany looks decent all lit up in the dark!


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

10.1 Mile Run on the Mohawk-Hudson Bike Path
Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Definitely a good night for a run on the bike path, even if the temperatures were more like late October than early September. I ran from the Niskayuna Lions Park to the GE R&D entrance at the top of the hill. It was getting dark by the time I reached the base of the old landfill, and by the time I reached GE the sun had fully set, so I did the entire run back in the dark... except, of course, for the bright light of the moon, which was about 2/3 full, and provided ample illumination. I had expected my legs to complain the whole time, but overall things felt pretty good - a pleasant surprise!

When I got to the park, a blue heron was coming in for a landing down at the muddy canoe launch, and a cormorant took off down the river... the heron flew off a little ways when I walked down to take his picture, and apparently I startled a green heron as well. A bit further down the path, an egret was going to town where the Lisha Kill flows into the Mohawk... I watched him catch several fish or frogs and eat them. But the real surprise was the gulls at the Lock 7 dam - there must have been several hundred of them, floating, flying, and standing on the edge of the dam. Needless to say they made quite a racket!


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Complete & Utter Chaos - Part 8
Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Well, I wasn't expecting to walk into the other room this evening and find a certain cat sleeping in an old shoebox... I have to wonder what goes in in her head, that she looks at a shoebox and says "Hmm, looks like a good place for a nap!"

Looks like she's either a size 10 1/2 or 11...


Monday, September 08, 2008

18.5 Mile Ride on the Mohawk Hudson Bike Path
Monday, September 8, 2008

It felt good to get out on the bike and get the blood moving in my legs. Though I did find it a bit of a bummer that it was almost completely dark when I finished and it wasn't even 8 PM...

Didn't see any beavers tonight, though I did watch a heron for a bit and saw quite a number of wood ducks, including a pair of males in full plumage (for much of the summer they were in molt and hard to distinguish from the females.) I also watched a group of what I suspect were cedar waxwings swooping around catching bugs - their maneuverability is incredible!

Tonight's ride also left me wondering - why do people set out riding at dusk wearing dark clothes? Even on a bike path, that's just foolish. Fortunately it was cool enough by the time I turned around on the far side of Rotterdam Junction that I was able to use my neon-yellow jacket... while I didn't have a light, I suspect people could see me a good ways off!


Sunday, September 07, 2008

Driving Around Pittsfield State Forest
23.7 Mile Ride on the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail
Sunday, September 7, 2008
NOT-SO-LONG DISTANCE 2008 - Race #20
Curly's Trail Half Marathon
Sunday, September 7, 2008

2008 Event Totals
Run 151.0 mi / 35 hr 57 min
Bike 32.4 mi / 2 hr 19 min
Snowshoe 45.7 mi / 13 hr 19 min

states visited: CT, MA, NH, NY, PA, VT

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Saturday, September 6, 2008

At various points throughout the early afternoon it sounded like the rain had eased up quite a bit... but when I went out to retrieve my car (ended up parking a ways away last night because of all the stupid college kids parking on my street so they could walk over to Madison and get drunk) it was raining steadily enough that I bailed on my plans to go for a ride in the drizzle. Shame I have a race tomorrow... this would have been a nice cool day to go for a run.

So this has now become one of those days where it's tough to summon up the motivation to do much of anything... oh, well. I should make up for it tomorrow, with 13 miles of running in Pittsfield State Forest, possibly a short hike to see Balance Rock in the summer (I went there last January after a snowshoe race), and probably a 22 mile ride along the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail... assuming it's not still raining...


Friday, September 05, 2008

6 Mile Night Run in the Albany Pine Bush
Friday, September 5, 2008

Between work, errands, and covering the Friday night class at the karate school, there was no way for me to get in a run until after dark. In some ways, that was probably fortunate - today was another extremely hot and humid day, and sundown alleviated that slightly, though I still found myself completely drenched by the time I was done.

Hit some of the trails at the Madison Avenue Pinelands and Great Dunes sections of the Pine Bush, mostly because I know that area very well and have run it in the dark more times than I can count. The current "habitat restoration" work has parts of the blue and yellow trails closed, which meant I had to be creative to come up with 5-6 miles without running repeat loops, but I managed.

Running after dark in warm weather has a major difference from all the fall and winter night runs I do - it's much noisier! Tons of insects, peepers, animals... there were numerous points where I heard rustling in the woods beyond the light of my headlamp, which can be a bit disconcerting, but in the end I know there's nothing in the Pine Bush that's likely to bother me. Even the coyotes are likely to head away from me as quick as they can.

With tomorrow's storm moving into the area, at times there were wonderful cool breezes blowing across the open areas. I stopped twice to just stand there and enjoy the cool air, the night sky, and the sounds of nature all around me.

Wednesday's long haul at Plotter Kill definitely took a toll on my legs... they were stiff and sore all day today, and it took quite a while for me to warm up during the run tonight... and every hill hurt. Hopefully they'll have recovered more by Sunday's race in Pittsfield!


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

11.1 Mile Run at Plotter Kill Nature Preserve
Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The trails at the Plotter Kill Nature Preserve west of Schenectady are probably some of the toughest in the area to run. The trails are rocky and root-covered, and in some spots very muddy. And the hills are a killer, though there are also level stretches which provide a little bit of a break from climbing and descending. Whenever I'm there I'm always struck by how much it's like running on the gnarly Berkshire trails where I first started trail running, and where now I run a decent number of trail races each year. I first learned about Plotter Kill from two sources - Jon Binder's waterfalls site, which prompted a visit there with Ann in December 2004, and the Albany Running Exchange, which has hosted several informal trail runs there. Since then I've run there twice, and both times it proved to be a real challenge. I hadn't gotten back there yet this summer, so today I took advantage of not needing to be at work during the day (though I'd have to go during the evening to get my classroom ready for the first day of school tomorrow) to head over there for an afternoon of torturous fun on the trails.

Plotter Kill is home to three high waterfalls (50 to 60 feet each) and a variety of smaller step falls and cascades. Unfortunately, the only really good views of them require walking along the creek, and I'd never managed to do that. Ann and I did get some distant views of the Upper Falls from the ridge trail, while the leaves were off the trees, but all we could really see was that the waterfall was frozen and there were folks ice-climbing on it. I had hoped to get there this year while there was a decetn amount of water flowing, but my first glimpse of the creek (a bed of mostly dry rocks) showed me that wouldn't happen today. But at least it would be easy walking along the creek bed...

I started out running the small loop near the parking lot that passes by two "overlooks" on the cliffs above the major waterfalls. Unfortunately, between the trees and the lack of water, nothing was visible. Then I headed down into the main portion of the preserve. Since no one was around I decided to detour to the top of the Upper Falls (a popular gathering spot for local teenagers) to get some people-free pictures. I suppose I could get more impressive shots if I was braver and willing to go right out to the edge of the waterfall... but better safe than sorry, I think. There are multiple signs around the preserve warning hikers that the cliffs are unstable and undercut in spots, and there's ample visible evidence of collapses and landslides along the edges.

From there I headed out on the Highland Trail, which was much less muddy and overgrown than it had been back in 2006 when I was here last. Initially it seemed like the trail wasn't as steep as I remembered either... but then I hit the steep section! Fortunately not long after that the trail leveled out and then headed back downhill through the woods until it rejoined the main trail overlooking the gorge.

At that point I took a side trip I'd never done before - a trail down to the creek, which came out by a very nice step waterfall (well, it would be if there had been any real water in the creek.) Hiked upstream and had a great view of the upper falls from below. I spent a while wandering around the area, startling frogs in the various pools of water that were trapped among the multitude of rocks on the streambed. I was also surprised to see a number of fish in the pool below the falls. Then I hiked back downstream to the top of the middle falls... had a bit of a view down the gorge, but nothing spectacular. Instead of retracing my steps to back up to the main trail, I climbed a steep hillside along a "herd path"... that was a mistake, the footing was terrible and I expended far too much energy getting to the top, but once I'd gone part of the way up it was safer to keep climbing instead of trying to go back to the bottom.

The next stretch of path was probably the toughest of the entire run. First there's a steep descent to Rynex Creek, just upstream of the top Rynex Falls, then a steep climb up the other side. I took a break in between to wander along the streambed and check out the top of the falls. After climbing up the far side, the trail wanders up and down, before passing a trail down to the streambed... I passed by that and continued along the north rim, under one of the several sets of power lines that pass through the preserve, and then down the 2nd trail to the bottom of ravine and the streambed.

Monday, September 01, 2008

10.7 Mile Run on the Mohawk-Hudson Bike Path
Monday, September 1, 2008

I was seriously torn over where to go for my run today. For a while I had planned to go to Mt Washington State Forest in SW Massachusetts and run a fairly strenuous loop that would have taken me over several mountains... I used to run at Mt Washington fairly frequently and miss it a lot. But that would have been a 3 hour round trip just to go there and return (not to mention the 3-4 hours it would take to run/hike the loop I'd researched) and I really didn't feel like driving that far in the end. Then I considered driving to Pittsfield and running the Taconic Skyline and Crest trails... but I'm going to be running a half marathon at Pittsfield State Forest next weekend. I also researched going to Partridge Run Wildlife Management Area and State Forest, about 20 miles from here, to run the Long Path and maybe a few other trails... but I had a hard time getting my backside in gear (especially after going outside to chop down the jungle in front of the house and finding out how hot it was!) and I didn't want to risk ending up on unknown trails in the dark, even with a headlamp. I even almost talked myself into just taking today off... but that would have been a waste of a beautiful (if bloody hot) day, now wouldn't it?

So in the end I drove over to Lock 8 west to Schenectady and ran along the bike path, first out to the end of the path at the railroad tracks in Rotterdam Junction, and then down to a small park just east of Lock 8. Nothing too hard, though my legs were still depressingly creaky by the time I was done.

Spotted a cormorant out in the rocks in the river right at the start, along with the ubiquitous gulls. Saw a kingfisher twice on the old canal, and upset a great blue heron sufficiently that he took off for parts unknown. Also had a monarch butterfly putting on a very nice show for me at one point... shame the pictures didn't come out a little bit sharper, but I didn't want to get too close and scare him off.

More beaver-chewed trees in the spot where I saw one the last time I rode over here... guess that beaver's moved in! Best of all, I caught a glimpse of him swimming in the river a little ways downstream as I was running back to Lock 8. I'd love to know where he's living, but the shore is sufficiently overgrown right there that it's probably not visible unless you're in a boat.