The Gunks

 

4am. I’m up and ready to conquer the day.  Or find some semblance of winter.  It’s been extremely mild in NJ and I’m craving the chilled winter air.  My pre packed bag is ready.  I rummage through it real quick and am good to go with food, clothes, and incidentals.  For some reason I kept obsessing over baby wipes to the point where I woke up several times though out the night.  Hey, if we’re stranded on the mountains I want to be clean.  Oxymoron, yeah, got it.

About an hour and a half later I’m on the road and pick up two friends.  While the plan is to meet up with a larger group of hikers at the base of the mountain, my gut feeling is that there are too many quirky personalities to risk an awkward hike.

By 9am we reach the Catskills and an amazingly beautiful wilderness conservation center.  Completely decked out with stuffed wildlife hanging from the ceilings to the floor, wall painted murals, and the friendliest staff.  $10 for all day parking.  Meet up with the group, a pretty chill bunch.

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I started climbing and was immediately awestruck by all the tabletop rocks.  There was a bit of ice and snow, no big deal as long as you had microspikes.

 

Next stop was Lake Maratanza, halfway up the mountain.  This was the first and only time the sun poked through the clouds.

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Miles later we stopped to check out the views of New York.  Snacked and kept moving. The  group hiked at a quick pace.  I stripped a few layers.  It was all good. We made it to Verkeederkill Falls.

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Our last and final stop was to reach Sam’s Point Ice Caves.  It was gated off, closed.  Just our luck.  Much to my content there were a few renegades that just kept it moving.  When you drive over two hours, you want to check out the caves.

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I slowly lowered myself into the cave.  It felt like someone put the air conditioner on high.  Freezing was an understatement. Also, let’s just say that a foot or so of ice and no railing made that part of the trip pretty unmanageable.  I’m okay with that.  When I think of caves, leave the manicured stairs and railings out of it.  Give me scrambling pitch black openings into the earth.  I want to rappel into a bat infested hole and feel my heart beat out of my chest.

We ended up turning back and headed towards the car.  I received a call from family that it finally started snowing pretty hard down south so we opted to leave early.  The rest of the group headed into Ellensville to a little Mexican spot.  Yum.  Missed out on that one.

 

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Follow the plan

Some honest thoughts about my trail race training.

My next race, The North Face Endurance Challenge 50K, is scheduled for April 9th, 2016.  Just a little over two months away.  This will be my third ultra trail race.  I have never really followed a training plan in the past for two reasons.

  • I run mostly for the pure enjoyment of being out in nature, so it’s hard to stick to a plan when I’m exploring new areas.  I enter trail races for the opportunity to check out new areas, on a pre-planned path, in relatively short period of time.
  • I typically run long distances, between 30-40 miles per week, just for fun.  When I have looked up training plans in the past, the sum of the weekly mileage really doesn’t change much from what I’m already doing.  Up until the last month prior to a race.  So I tend to ramp up my mileage and intensity one month before a race.

It’s time for a change. My goals are to start racing in different states with varied terrain.  This requires planning.  I’ve decided to use the 50k training plan from ultraladies.com.

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So far, so good with the exception of this past weekend’s winter storm / blizzard.  Thanks for the snow, Jonas.