Monday, April 30, 2012

Trail Tales, Part 2

I am happy to report that I successfully navigated the trails above Green Lakes State Park on Sunday, April 29. Last week I wrote about getting off track, so I decided to tackle the trails in reverse (no sense returning to where I had goofed up in the first place).
Well, except for one spot where I turned left instead of right (and fortuitously ran into Green Lakes Endurance Runs director Todd Baum, who pointed out the proper way), I did it!
The goal here is to discover how I really feel about possibly running an ultramarathon on a trail, Green Lakes, perhaps. I know how my body feels after just one loop on that course; either I choose to build up to four loops (for a 50K ultra distance), or I don't. This is one reason I'm giving myself so long to work toward this--any ultra will come in 2013, though I have two smaller trail runs in mind for 2012.
Meanwhile, I am starting to get the jitters about my half-ironman, Aug. 19. Par for the course, I suppose. Last week, on a whim, I attempted to swim 3000 meters; that's not the HIM distance--2000M is--but I had the time, so what the heck. I was able to do that, while resting only a few times.
It's hill work I need, especially on my bike. And my biking will be made easier when my husband installs my new clipless pedals, and I get my new biking shoes delivered. I can't wait! For the past three years, I have biked wearing running shoes and with standard bike pedals. How? I have no idea; when you don't have a huge disposable income, you purchase what you need when you can.

I am biking in the same shoes I ran in. Not the most effective way to compete.
So look out! I'm hoping the new gear shows up in time for me to practice for and compete in Du the Lakes, May 12.
Meanwhile, I have a little running race coming up May 6, known as the Mountain Goat. "Little," as in 10 miles up and down the city's hills. Bring it on!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Trail Tales

So, I've decided to tackle an ultramarathon. Ultras come in several distances--25 kilometers, 50K, 50 miles, 100K. Since I'm planning on running a road marathon in October, the Empire State Marathon, right here in little ol' Syracuse, a 25K will seem anticlimactic. So a 50K--31 miles--it is! Luckily, there already exists an ultra in Syracuse, the Green Lakes Endurance Runs, held every August at lovely Green Lakes State Park.

So I'm considering August 2013 for my maiden ultra, which provides plenty of time to train.

Which leads me to the point of this blog--the trail system at Green Lakes. I took a break from the Mountain Goat training runs (that race is May 6) on Saturday, April 21, to tackle the 8 miles or so that one loop of the Green Lakes ultra course entails. It was a cool, damp day, and I dressed like I would for an 8-mile run in 50-degree weather.

Unfortunately, conditions deteriorated quickly--it got colder and damper--and I was soon too chilled to really enjoy myself. Then there was the confusing map I had printed, in color, and carried with me, confident that I could find my way. Once I made my way up the steep hill from Round Lake, I encountered a confusing intersection and pulled out my map. A helpful hiker happened by: "Do you know where you want to go?" I couldn't resist in my answer: "Sure, I know where I want to go; I just don't know how to get there." He pointed me in the proper direction, really trying to assist me--"It's a right, and then a quick left and then another right. . ."

At one point I called my husband, who asked if I was all right. I was fine, I said, and, while not technically lost, still having difficulty finding my way. Stubborn is one of my strengths, or not, so I kept at it, following the printout right out of the state park and onto private property that was labeled with a "No Trespassing" sign.


I turned around and headed back down the steep hill I had climbed, found another trail which again led to private homes, headed back out and then tried yet again. After having run for an hour and starting to feel it (trail running, while not so jarring on the lower body, carries with it its own set of challenges, and my legs were starting to complain). So I headed back out and made my way back to the beginning of the series of trails (those above Round Lake).

The map showed a less-serpentine route at the back end of the prescribed route, so I took that for a few miles, hoping to link up to where I had gone wrong. Those legs just weren't going to cooperate, however, and I headed back down. Fatigue (and hunger; not dehydration--I had plenty of water and Gatorade) won out over my obstinate nature.

Here's the issue I discovered with the trail map vs. the trails that map outlined: it was confusing! The map labeled the trails by their name--Deer Run Trail, Old Growth Trail, etc. The trails are labeled with small colored signs and corresponding blazes on trees. So. . . I'm out there looking for the Deer Run Trail, and all I see is yellow (the label I discovered after comparing the maps).

When I got back to civilization I studied both the race map and the state park map; I'll be damned if I can figure out how the green trail, which should have linked with the orange trail on the backside of the route, wound up with me, scratching my head, on posted private property.

So next time I head out that way, maps in hand, I will run this route in reverse. Eventually I should remember exactly where I need to go.

Now if only the miserable damp weather we've had for most of late April will be gone by then, so I can adequately warm up while I'm out there.