Sunday, July 21, 2019

Training for Marine Corps Marathon Week 4: Getting it done

There were a million reasons to skip my workouts this week:

-Getting 1100 bales of hay over the course of 24 hours
-Being really busy at work
-The humidity rising, an the temps soaring
-Being old and sweaty

I did not skip any runs, but I did move things around a bit. I really can't wrap my head around a long run in 96 degree temps, with high humidity. Nope.

I did have a little trouble with my calves this week, and it's hard to say why. They don't really hurt but during two of my runs they both felt really tight, as though they were on the verge of cramping. I see this being one of two things (as my shoes don't really need to be replaced yet.) My legs are either protesting somewhat, as they transition to better fitness. Or, I'm still not nailing the whole electrolyte balance thing. Who knows.

Due to the Friday/Saturday/Sunday extreme heat warnings, all the real work was done early in the week.

Monday was basic stuff, on tight calves.

Tuesday I ran super early, the legs felt just fine and I ran a little fast here and there. Certainly not a structured speed workout, but a little zoom.

Wednesday was bitch hill, tight calves, super gross out. Like, hot pea soup.

I did my long run after an even longer work day on Thursday. Overall, it was ok. I had to call Eric for some extra food, as I became starving! It was just a tough long run. I was tired, it was hard. I did the planned mileage, suffered moderately, and sucked it up.

Also disgusting
I scooted out early Saturday(in just horrible humidity) for a short few with Ellie. The weather was just sopping and disgusting. It was really an unpleasant weekend.

Miles: 35.1
Hottest day: 94, I did not run. Hottest run was 80, super humid, and with 2.3 million deer flies
Longest run: 13.4
Hiking miles- NONE TERRIBLE!!!!! (busy. work. stupid. no day off. AGAIN)


Sunday, July 14, 2019

Flume and Liberty, 4k #11 and #12 of '19, July 7th 2019

Eric, Ellie and I lucked out with a really nice weather day last Sunday, and decided it was time for a slightly longer hike then we have done lately. 

We were 100% committed to Mt. Liberty (in the Franconia notch) and about 50% committed to Flume. We decided that we needed to check out trail conditions before we decided to attempt the flume slide (a long stretch of very steep and sketchy rock. scrambling required.)

We parked at 7AM at the Flume Gorge lot (the "far" side of the lot, at Mt. Pemigewasset Trailhead). Since it was early there was lots of parking. Flume Gorge is a real circus during the summer and we weren't sad to avoid the chaos (mostly...)

We got off to a good start on the paved bike path. #hiking
The path is about .75 miles long, and is the only way to get to the trailhead. 

 Ellie is like "WTF??"
Pretty soon (because walking on pavement is so easy) you bang a right over a bridge and are on Liberty Springs trail. 

I always love a nice bridge
The trail wound along over pretty easy terrain for about half a mile before coming to the junction with the Flume Slide Trail. This gave us enough time to evaluate the conditions, and decide which path to take. 

A nice day for a walk
We knew there had been rain the night before but it was a really pleasant day, and things seemed to be drying out quickly. Based on that, we continued on up the Flume Slide trail. 
This trail was pretty amazing for the first couple miles. Beautiful conditions, easy incline, fun river crossings. I must admit that the blazes left something SERIOUSLY to be desired, but the path is clear enough to inspire some confidence. (I want to go out with a paint can....) 

I had some trepidations about the "slide". Eric and I have scrambled around enough, and I feel we can basically get by. But what about little Ellie? I was ready to pull the plug on the whole adventure if she seemed afraid. 

Before we knew it the trail took a turn for the MUCH steeper, and the first of the small rocks arrived. 

The slide breaks you in for a minute or two. Steep incline, but manageable terrain. First some "typical" rocks, then some sketchy loose crap, then some totally walkable slabs.

Totally walkable slabs
And THEN. AS EXPECTED. Things got real. The below photo was before things got too intense to take pics. Here are my wise thoughts:
-Our dog was a rockstar, and did an amazing job (I can't think this trail would be a good choice for anything other than a brave and athletic canine)
-This is a trail that certainly would be quite dangerous in wet or icy conditions. Also, I would not be AT ALL excited to come down this stuff. 
-It's a long stretch. Over half a mile from what I could see- and possibly slightly more. 
-There are "bail out" (totally unmarked) options in the woods but they are TOUGH. Basically straight uphill, just grabbing trees. I took one of these for the sake of the dog, and it was fine but NOT easy. I would not take small children, timid dogs, or beginner hikers on this trail. 

The easy part....
In the end, we made it up without issue. I never felt terribly nervous, I just found that I had to pay attention and not be an idiot. 
After the slide finished, there was only a short distance (of mostly very uphill work) to the intersection with Franconia Ridge Trail. 
Ellie saw the peak (or close to it!) and sprinted up. 
I may not have been so quick to let her scramble up, had I known it was basically a cliff. 

Queen of Mt Flume
It was a MONEY DAY. Blue skies, light breeze, only a little haze. Definitely a day to be above the trees!

The "other side" of what Elle climbed up.....
After spending a few minutes on top the hill, we headed off to traverse to Liberty. The map said it would be about 1.5 miles to the next peak (watches measured closer to 1.1 miles- who knows what is right!)
Generally speaking, it was a pretty straightforward path through the woods.

Moseying along
Gotta get the photo op!
Pretty soon, there was a short and straightforward scramble, and we got a great view of where we had just been!

Hello, Flume
A few steps later, we summited Liberty. And it was glorious!!

Just me on a big rock
You could see for forever
We definitely dilly dallied for a while at the summit. It's not often that we score such a perfect day, and we wanted to make the most of it. Also, we wanted to give the dog a moment to eat and recharge (not that she needs it....)

Family Pic!!
After we enjoyed some time up high, we headed back down the mountain. A short stretch on Franconia Ridge took us to the junction with Liberty Springs Trail. The temptation to continue along the ridge was strong, but it would have meant too many miles for Mrs. Ellington.

Franconia Ridge, in the trees
Liberty Springs trail is one of those rocky pain in the butt experiences. It was a moderate to steep grade in places, and was just a bunch of rock hopping and stone stair stepping. Nothing extreme like the slide, but it would certainly give you a good workout in the uphill direction!

Looking up Liberty Springs Trail
The final mile or so of the trial is downright pleasant- and seemed to have tricked quite a few "family" hikers into thinking it would be a good summit to achieve with their VERY small children (in flip flops....) I mean.... Maybe? But my vote is no.
We took the required "sign" photo at the junction of Liberty Springs and Flume, and met up with another hiker who we had seen at the top of Flume. He had come own the slide and proclaimed it to be "the worst thing I have ever tried to do." Let that be a warning! Haha.
We then forged onwards, a trio now, and proceeded to take our own trail back to the bike path. The very well beaten path would make one thing that we were not the first adventurers to do such a thing.
Just make sure to take a left at the junction to stay on the*actual* trail!
(or go straight and you''ll still be ok! we figured there hadn't been to many blazes anyway, so why start looking for them now! and with the clear and obvious din of I-93 ahead of you- you're not getting lost.)

Obligatory sign pic
Anyway! After 6 hours and 2 minutes of hiking, snacking, photo taking, and playing in the river we made it back to the PACKED parking lot.
I managed to take a spectacular tumble while watching Ellie play in the river- but it was *technically* after the hike was over. So it was a "no fall" hike!!

I had a FLUME beer!!! How appropriate!!
We relaxed at a picnic table for a while, and were swiftly joined by an entire age group of summer campers. They had 4 million questions to ask us, and from me they learned what it means to Spay a dog, and how best to pee in the woods without being shy. I am very helpful.

Overall- this may have been the best hike of the season. It was a great length, a nice challenge, perfect weather, and low hiker traffic. It certainly is NOT a great hike for a first timer, but definitely one to put on the must do list. Probably a good choice for those days that the Franconia Ridge loop is just too busy to even cope with.

Strava data: (we take this with a grain of salt) 
-elevation climbed: 3,846
-miles covered: 9.8
-elapsed time: 6:02 (we never shut off our watches- so this includes all down time)

Difficulty: Strenuous. Coming in at around 10 miles, and dealing with the slide are what edges this out of my normal "hard" category. If you are looking for a beautiful, wooded and "easy" hike, hit up the bike path and the first couple miles of Flume Slide. While the slide does not take up the majority of the hikes that (plus the steed descent in places on Liberty Springs) would make this no fun for beginners. 

Views: Excellent and numerous. Impressive. 360 views from both peaks. 

Bugs: Black flies were out, and were mildly annoying

Dog friendly trail? Ish. Only for the brave and athletic friends. Lots of "water features" for the playful doggos, but the slide isn't something for every canine. 

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Training for Marine Corps Marathon: Week 3. More summer.

There were about 1.2 million reasons not to run during the past week. Hot, humid temps. A mid week 2 day horse show. Stuff and Things.

But I got out and did it.

Still no speedwork, which I must remedy.

I'm still in a place where I need to figure out my hydration/sodium/electrolyte balance as well. I know my stomach gets funny when things aren't quite in the correct balance, and it seems to be a work in progress (I'm looking into those salt stick pills as an option. I use the huma gels with the added sea salt- and really like those. But feel that I need more for longer workouts. Help??)

I bumped up the long run to 12 and change this week with no issue. My other 3 runs were basically at a standard pace, although one was over bitch hill (more of a workout, clearly.) We had one family run (Eric, Ellie, Me) at ass o'clock in the morning. I'm not too fond of running early, and yes, I am aware that I am a rare case.

There were massive fires in Canada last week, and we were smack dab in the path of the smoke. Apparently, the smoke was so high that did not impact the air quality, but it certainly created some serious haze.

Easy, early 5 miles on Tuesday morning. No photo, no proof.

Bitch Hill Thursday in the HAZE.
Some clouds but mostly smoke

Basically every run was a sweaty slog. I am determined to LOVE THE HEAT.

And yes, I have embraced being the person who wears a hydration pack. It's something I learned to love while hiking, and it is convenient AF. How else can you easily carry 1.5 liters of water?? Also, Osprey makes a really tidy little pack and I am a huge fan. I hydrate more with water than with beer on pub run day at this time of year, and I appreciate the capacity of this pack.

Miles: 30.4
Hottest day: Well, we had a 91 degree day but my hottest run was an 80% humidity 80 degrees
Longest run: 12.6
Hiking miles- NONE TERRIBLE!!!!! (busy. work. stupid. no day off.)


Monday, July 8, 2019

Training for Marine Corps Marathon: Week 2. When summer hits.

No doubt about it. Summer is here!

It was an active week. Busy at work. Several solid runs. 14 miles of hiking. Definitely not a lazy time!

I lucked out again on Saturday, and by the time I got out to run the weather had changed from 92, blazing sun and cloyingly humid to 75, thunder and rain (and cloyingly humid.) Other than the inevitable chafing they occurs, there is nothing bad about a rainy run!!

The one area lacking this week was speed work. I am going to have to figure how to toughen up and get it done. Yes it was 86 degrees during my "speed work" workout time, which left me feeling incapable of any speed at all. I imagine it will probably be that hot for many runs. The thought of getting onto the treadmill is just horrible- so I will have to figure this out.

I have ended up concluding that my long runs will just have to be "sometime" on the weekend. I ran a 9 miler last Sunday to try to "get ahead". As it turned out, I ended up deciding this whole notion was dumb and confusing and I just went out for a normal "long" on Saturday. I was planning to count the 9 from last Sunday in this weeks mileage, since I did not technically count it last week.

Things are going pretty well. It's gross running in the summer but it was my choice to do this so I'm going to either make excuses, or make it happen. I'm going to become a god damn summer warrior.

To the pub in the thunder

To a mountain top (at a walk hahah)

Over the bitch hill

Miles: 27.5 (an yes, the poor lost 9.1 is still not being counted hahaha)
Hottest day: 86 gross (92 but I didn't run then)
Longest run: 10.4
Hiking miles- Close to 14


Sunday, July 7, 2019

Cannon Mountain: 4k #10 for 2019

Eric and I had exactly enough time on July 4th to do a small hike, so we decided to brave the potential crowds at Cannon.
We weren't terribly concerned about trail traffic, but Cannon has a Tram to the summit which is wildly popular and brings quite a crowd to the top. It is a zoo.

We headed off in the hot (80 at the base) and humid (VERY) conditions. We took the Kinsman Ridge trail, which is easily found all the way to the left hand side of the Cannon Mountain Tramway lot.

Right away, the trail is quite steep and it never really lets up. That is what one gets for trying to do a 4100 foot hill, in 4 miles round trip!

It was steeper than it looks
We tried to take it easy because of the heat, but Ellie wasn't a big fan of that plan. She ran like a lunatic, climbing extra rocks and generally tearing it up.

"don't tell me to be slow"
The trail winds through the woods, and throughout what I believe were some wicked dangerous looking glade ski trails. No thanks. I'll pass on skiing down ANY of this.
(for those not in the know, Cannon is a ski mountain.)

You don't get any feeling of being "remote" what so ever during this hike. If course, it is very popular due to being smaller, because you can always take the tram down if you can't make it on your own feet, and Franconia is just crazy pants busy all summer long. We saw about 50 hikers, all happy and sweaty, so there was not an insane amount of trail traffic. The noise of I-93 in the distance though, reminded us that we weren't far from civilization.

Looking out onto I-93 and Echo Lake
About half way up, I heard what I thought was a lawnmower (why that would be, nobody knows!)
Clearly, it wasn't a mower on the mountain. It was the tram!! It was really fun to see it zip on by.

Smart humans in there
The best thing about Cannon, is that you get an incredible chance to get great views many times. This is by FAR the best of the shorter 4k footers in the scenery department.

Scenic overlook about 3/4 of the way up. HAZE
After the little scenic viewpoint the trail continues through some trees, then pops out above treeline. This part of the trail was great fun, with some rock hopping, amazing scenery, and a variety of beautiful alpine flowers.

Once you reach the (almost) top, the trail follows the Ridgeline towards the observation deck, and the crowds from the tram become intense. The views along the ridge are stunning, and you get a great look at the Franconia ridge.

We didn't spend a ton of time in the observation deck because it was both crowded and hot, but the views were impressive.

We also got a family photo which is always good!

It was so hot that Ellie was even hot
We headed back down, waved to the departing tram, accidentally frightened some very fearful children with our dog (who literally ignored the children....) and took a few extra minutes for more photo ops. Really, the motto of this hike was to move slowly and enjoy looking at things.

Ellie thinks we are nuts
The hike down was uneventful. Steep, as expected. The trail was in good shape, and very very easy to follow. Nothing technical, but some fiddly rocks here and there.

Fussy little rocky stretch through a ski trail #nope
Finally, covered in SWEAT SO MUCH SWEAT, we made it to the finish!

One of our better photos
It was almost too hot for a parking lot party. ALMOST.

It was really hot though
So anyway. A solid 4th of July hike. This hike wasn't my favorite, for no particular reason. I would highly recommend it to hikers in decent shape (because it's fairly steep in an unrelenting manner for the first mile or so) but it is short. The views for a short 4k footer just can't be beat. I love the trail on Hale- but we know the views leave something to be desired. You couldn't ask for better scenery on Cannon.

Strava data: (we take this with a grain of salt) 
-elevation climbed: 2,250
-miles covered: 4.1
-elapsed time: 3:08

Difficulty: This is a very short trail with absolutely nothing technical (not even a stream crossing to be found.) However, it is a steep little asshole for the first mile-plus. I'm in decent shape and I was still like, come ON!!! But it's short. You can't get too mad. So this is somewhere between easy/moderate for me.

Views: Excellent and numerous. Impressive.

Bugs: Black flies were out, and were mildly annoying

Dog friendly trail? Yes, nothing challenging for the canine friends on this trail