Another weekend to get excited about. On Saturday, the folks at the Mohonk Preserve near New Paltz organized a training run and hike to promote their Spring 50-miler, Rock the Ridge. Though the morning was mega-cold and my right leg is still shaky, the sun promised to be out, Ken Posner of double-Badwater record holding fame would be hosting, and I had invited a young ultra runner who I’d met on the Long Path one day in August, so bailing was not an option. At the very least, I figured I could join the hiking group if I couldn’t keep up with the runners, or cut the run short of my 15-mile goal.
We met at the impressive historic-looking Mohonk Testimonial Gatehouse, which I hadn’t seen on my previous trip to Mohonk last year. The organizers kindly provided with day-use wristbands for the preserve, free of cost. After moaning about in our cars and making sure we were fully layered we stepped out for a short briefing and divided into two groups. I knew a bunch of people in the running group so I headed out with them, and then overheard something about three miles of uphill. Oh yay! Really it was more like four, but was great for keeping warm. I hadn’t run up a big hill since I was in Hong Kong, almost two months ago, so I didn’t feel too strong, but then the only way to get stronger on hills is to keep going up them, even if it means walking as needed.
Once we reached the top of the hill, some of the group headed back to finish the eight-mile option, and Ken took us up for a loop of a few miles around to Spring Farm, up and down, mostly on wide gravel carriage roads, with a few stretches of deep leaves covering frozen chunks of dirt. There were tiny patches of ice in a few places, a reminder to enjoy the last days of clean trails before they freeze over. When I visited Mohonk last year, I ran most of the western sections of the Rock the Ridge course, so I hadn’t seen any of this part before. It’s all lovely really.
At our next decision point, a few of the hardier souls opted to continue up the mountain to Skytop Tower, for a total of 20-25 miles, while I decided to head back and finish with 14 miles. I hadn’t planned to go more than 16 on this day, and was very happy that I could run pretty much the whole way with just a few short walking breaks in the later stages of the big hills. Next week, I will try to double the distance at Quad Dipsea, and then almost once more the following weekend at the North Face 50 Mile in San Francisco. Just for fun.
Oh, and I’ll be back in the Spring for the full 50 miles!
Sunday was the Philly marathon, and I decided bring my cowbell out again to cheer it on. Tons of people I know from my running team, trail and ultrarunning gang and all over were running, and I especially didn’t want to miss the chance to see Maggie and Yoshiko fun-running as Devil and Angel, and Ken Tom running his #kentomming birthday marathon.
I caught an early ride with Tiger out of the city and arrived in Philly a little past two-hours into the race and headed over to the mile 14/25 markers. We saw some of the Nike NYC crowd cheering there, but it was feeling a little chilly, so we decided to start cheer-walking north for a few miles along the side of the course before turning back and cheer-jogging back towards the finish.
Somewhere around mile 22.5, we came across a man sitting on the curb holding his calf, and after asking permission Tiger began to massage his leg cramp away. Several other runners paused to ask if he needed medical assistance, but he said he was okay and just had a cramp. One runner stopped and gave him his Clif Shot blocks for the extra sodium.
As we were getting ready to send him on his way to the finish, the Angel and Devil arrived, and we started running alongside them and taking some photos. It seemed that the Angel had decided to pick up the pace at the end and pass as many people as possible on the way to the finish, while the Devil was very strong, and I struggled to keep up– the hip flexors were simply not moving fast enough. I had a sense of déjà vu of running this race last year, the day after racing the 60K in Central Park—the perfect sunny fall weather was exactly the same, and those final miles were so joyous, as I decided to enjoy them and not push the pace to the finish at all for a change. But this year I was really happy to only run a few miles instead of the full marathon. After the Devil and I stopped at the portapotties by mile 24 or so, she sprinted off to catch the Angel and I gave up and took a break with the mile 25 cheering group before continuing towards the finish with my cowbell in one hand and camera in the other.
Come Monday I paid for my weekend fun. The right leg hurts, in the hip, flexor, quad and knee. So I took a total rest day- no swimming, no walking, no nothing. A few days ago I came across an essay on the Ultralist about running and addiction, in which the author wrote about running two miles a day even when his knee injury was at its worst. Even though I think I am probably addicted to running (I want to run every day, and get withdrawal symptoms during taper and recovery periods), I can’t stand to do it when it’s consistently unpleasant. So this week is off from running and even most walking until I start the Quad Dipsea on Saturday, and I don’t know if I’ll finish. It may be an unofficial “Double Dipsea” instead.