Summer Solstice 14K Trail Run

Last Wednesday Jenna and I went down to Lake Minnewaska State Park Preserve near New Paltz for the Summer Solstice 14K trail race. It was the perfect night. The race started near the upper parking lot and ran uphill to Castle Point. It was straight uphill for 3.5 miles. From there, it goes back down back to the start making a big loop. It’s part of the same course as the After the Leaves Half Marathon that they hold in November.

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Jenna and I took a van down with the Albany Running Exchange! It was nice to not have to worry about driving down so late in the afternoon. The race started at 6:30PM.

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View from the course

There were gorgeous bushes of Mountain Laurel blooming all through the course. It was wonderful!

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I love that the race has so many awesome views and takes place on wide carriage trails.

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I finished in about 1hr, 35 minutes. Post-race refreshments included watermelon, strawberries and lots of other goodies! After staying for the awards (a lot of ARE members won in their age categories!), we got back in the van and headed back to Albany.  Minnewaska is really one of my favorite spots.

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Trail Running

One of my favorite places to be is on the trails. Obviously! Last night I ran at a new-to-me trail at the Pine Bush Preserve Madison Avenue Barrens. The thing I like about the trails here is that they are wide and not too technical (less chance of falling)!

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There is also a variety of trails here, too. One of the loops was pretty sandy, which made for a great calf workout!

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It also kind of felt like running at the beach!

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I think more of my races in 2015 will be trail races, so I’ve got to amp up my trail running and also find some good spots to run. The Madison Avenue Pine Barrens is now high on that list.

New to trail running and thinking of running a trail race soon? Here are some tips!

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1. Run on trails. This may sound like a no-brainier, but actually running on trails is the best way to train for a trail race! Road running and trail running are SO different. There are many obstacles like roots, rocks and uneven ground on trails that you will encounter, and the best way is to practice so your body can get used to using those different leg muscles. My favorite places to trail run in Albany are the Pine Bush, Thacher Park, Tawasentha, and Five Rivers.

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3. Incorporate hills into your runs. Most trail races have elevation. Surprise! Since many boast great views–you can’t get a view unless you climb high (usually), so hill work is essential to be prepared for a race with elevation.

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3. Wear proper footwear. Proper trail running shoes are also important! Sometimes I can get away with wearing my regular road shoes on a non-technical trail, but I find that trail shoes help a lot. They are more stable and grip the ground better and my feet just feel better in trail shoes in general.

Looking for a local trail race? Here are some local ones!

10/26 Squirrelly Six & Hairy Gorilla Half Marathon at Thacher Park
11/9 – After the Leaves Fall Half Marathon at Minnewaska State Park (I’m already signed up for this one!)

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Thacher Park Running Festival 10K

Saturday marked the 100 year celebration of John Boyd Thacher State Park. Ever since I was a little kid I have been coming here to walk the Indian Ladder Trail, and it’s still one of my favorite places to get outside in the Capital Region.

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I love going to Thacher for nature walks, trail running, fun trail racing, and even snowshoeing.

With one of the best views in the area, this place can’t be beat.

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This is why I ran the 10K on Saturday. As part of the Centennial Celebration, the Albany Running Exchange put on some trail races: a 5K, a 10K, and even a marathon and a 50K!

The 10K course was a loop that goes along part of the Long Path, a trail that I had never run on there before. I love running new trails and it was nice to see other parts of the park.

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There were even two great lookout spots during the race.

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The 10K was Kristin‘s first trail race! We spent the whole race chatting away and it made the miles fly by. Thankfully both of us stayed upright the whole time. I heard there were a few nasty falls during the day. I have been there before and its not fun! We finished in 1 hour, 14 minutes.

Overall, I really enjoyed the course for this race! Maybe I’ll even find myself running the marathon here in the future.

I really wish I was doing the Hairy Gorilla Half Marathon again this year at Thacher, but it falls on the same day as the Marine Corps Marathon! Speaking of marathon, if you were wondering: yes, I’m still training! Sunday (the day after the 10K) I ran my first 20 miler of my training plan! It went very well and I’m really excited to spend October 26th running around Washington DC for 26.2 miles.

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2014 Trail Running Camp at Dippikill

This past weekend I finally participated in something I’ve been wanting to do for a while–but couldn’t for various reasons–the ARE’s Trail Running Camp! TRC is a three night getaway at Camp Dippikill in the Adirondacks for runners who want to learn more about/experience some trail running. It’s open to runners of all abilities and is pretty much a guaranteed fun time.

Thursday night

I arrived at around 4:45 on Thursday night, checked in and got my bib for the evening’s run, along with our handbook and our Frog. The theme of camp is Frogs–because of the Froggy Five Mile Race held on Sunday. Frogs were everywhere!

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I was staying in Garnet Lodge with my friend Loretta, once of the nicer lodges on the facility. We had electric, woohoo!

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After getting settled in we had a 5:30PM group run. We got to meet our fellow campers and had the option of running various trails throughout the woods around Dippikill. I chose a shorter 1 mile loop and did it twice. It was such a nice night for running.

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After our run, we had some dinner (all meals were provided for us, cooked by the awesome John, one of the staff members at camp!) and an orientation, followed by s’mores. Also, the camp was BYOB so campers must be 21+ and are allowed to bring their own adult beverages. 😀

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Yes! It really felt like Summer camp for adults (which it pretty much was)–which is fun for me since I never went to summer camp as a kid.

Friday

Friday morning we had another run. I chose the Pond loop, a 2.6 mi look down to Dippikill Pond. It was gorgeous!

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After the morning run, I went to a seminar on running injuries, which was really interesting. We learned some important ways to prevent injuries (LESS SITTING!) and how to properly stretch. Followed by that, I went to the first yoga class of the day. We had the option of going to ab workout class, but I chose yoga instead.

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The yoga was intense and was something my tight running legs needed. I hadn’t done yoga in a long time. After yoga, it was time for swimming. Or better yet, kayaking! There were canoes and kayaks down by the lake so I grabbed a kayak and just paddled around the pond for a bit, while the other swam. It was nice and relaxing.

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After our pond adventure, there was more yoga. This session focused on stretching the hips and IT band, and it hurt! But in a good way. After dinner there was trivia. This was really fun and our team tied for first place, which was awesome. There was also an ice cream social. 😀

Saturday

Saturday was the Run & Tube event. This was open to other ARE members, so a few people came up just for this. Saturday morning we took vans to a tubing company in Lake Luzurne, where the tubing bus dropped us off five miles from the launch point on the Hudson River. We ran the five miles (or had an option of three miles), down.  I was kind of worried about how tired my legs would be but they held up fine.  It was time to cool off after our run.

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We really had the perfect weekend for all this.

When we got back to camp, we had some down time. After dinner there was the famous Talent Show, which was really fun. Some of the skits were hilarious. It ended with a video recapping the weekend.

Sunday morning

Sunday was the last day of TRC 🙁 and the Froggy Five Mile Trail Race! The race/run goes all the way up Dippikill Mountain and back down again. I just wanted to enjoy it and did a run/hike, since I was determined NOT to fall and get injured.

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The race start.

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So many frogs.

At the halfway point of the race, there was a summit and a gorgeous view of the Adirondacks. I stopped just in time to take picture and then went on my way. And just because I’m a hiking nerd, I had to find: out the summit of Dippikill is 1,562′ in elevation. I was worried again about how tired my legs would feel, but they were fine. I think the yoga and stretching helped a lot.

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I finished in 1 hour, 11 minutes, which is pretty slow, but who cares. I just wanted to enjoy it. There was a BBQ following the Froggy Five and with that–camp was over. We squeezed a lot in over the three days and it was so much fun. The ARE does such a great job at organizing this event, I was really impressed. It was one of the best weekends of my summer so far, because I got do everything I truly love in one weekend: trail running/hiking, kayaking, yoga, spending the entire weekend outdoors enjoying my favorite place, the Adirondacks. I’m definitely going to try to go back next year!

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Northface Endurance Challenge – Bear Mountain Half Marathon

I survived the NorthFace Endurance Half, and lived to tell the tale. Hurray! Chris and I drove down to Fort Montgomery, NY where we were staying (right near West Point) on Saturday afternoon. The drive was about 2 hours and pretty uneventful, as was our hotel. But the hotel was only 10 minutes from Bear Mountain, where the race was.

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We parked in a large parking lot and then got a shuttle to the starting line/finish festival area.

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It was a bit chilly, but the sun was out and it was a very nice day! Both of us were nervous because we didn’t get as much hill and trail training in for this race as we had hoped.

 

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The race began at 8am and they started it in waves (great idea) so the super fast runners could start first and the turtles like myself could start in the back. There were a fair amount of people in the fourth and last wave so I was really glad for that!

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The first mile or so was pretty easy. There were a few inclines, and one big decline with wet, slippery rocks, and of course mud. I took my time through the difficult areas because I wanted to avoid any injury as long as I could!

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Yup, it was wet.

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Around mile 5 or so, we hit a big boulder. There was an actual summit! Not sure which summit this was, but we climbed to the top and it was awesome. I was having blast.

 

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And then at about mile 8 the inevitable happened. I was running on a downhill and hit a branch, rolled an ankle and went down. Thankfully we were about .25  miles from the aid station where the super nice EMT wrapped it for me. There wasn’t much pain after the initial roll (none actually), and I could walk without limping, so I decided to keep going and walk the remaining five miles out to the finish line. It was really frustrating because I felt like we were doing really well.

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At least I got to admire the scenery.

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There were a few other stragglers back with us, but I was convinced we were last! The last few miles the trail opened up to flat, wide grass and we jogged for the last mile or so.

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I was determined to finish before they tore down the finish line..ha! The cutoff was 4 hours. We had 30 minutes to go the last mile. Totally doable. Before I knew it, I could hear the finish line festival. Made it.

 

 

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That was a tough one, folks. I knew it going into it, but I guess I thought I could run a trail race once without twisting an ankle. I guess not.

 

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Overall, the course was pretty challenging, especially for running. But it was a fairly easy hike, since I pretty much speed-hiked the last five miles. Chris was the best for sticking with me during the race. I don’t know what I would have done without him there! <3

We got some cool medals (I wasn’t sure if we were getting any because we finished so late), a pair of Smartwool socks, a Northface race shirt, and an Endurance Challenge water bottle. Pretty sweet swag! Our finish time was 3:56:17. Four minutes before cutoff! Makes me wonder how we would have done if I hadn’t fell. Stupid. But I am pretty proud of myself for completing it!

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