Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Random Laurel Highlands trail running and training

The bearded Woodz Ninja @ Middle Fork overlook 
The weeks are flying by and I've been running as much as I can.  Training has been improving with my increased intensity.   The last couple of weeks have been productive as recent runs reflect.  I've begun light weight work on my shoulder without any pain.  Lots of time to get it healthier before the ice begins to form later this year.  I feel like things are setting up for continued running and a good winter climbing season (weather permitting). Running has been a lot of fun lately.  Miles have been blurring together, each run more fun than the last.  I've enjoyed sharing trail time with my wonderful girlfriend Laura.  We spent a few days hiking on rest days from separate solo runs.  Several days were spent in Quebec Run on the great trails that reside there.  Hill training has become a staple once again.  I love climbing, rocks, ice whatever.  It's only natural that I like the climbs in running as well.  My focus has been on the larger vertical rises in the region.  I've spent a few heart pounding days doing hill repeats (4 mile laps) down and up "Heart Attack Hill" on the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail (mile 8 to 6 then back up to 8).   Great for building hill climbing efficiency and endurance.  "Heart Attack" along with many other up and down runs are helping a lot.

Statistics for July:
Miles - 185
Duration - 40:48
Elevation - Gain 39,362' - Loss 38,539'

Miles per week is down, but elevations have greatly increased.

Some run highlights since last post:
July 19
Bear Run Nature Reserve, I went and ran the super fun 5 mile trail sprint we call the "Tiny Tulip Traverse" This was my second time running this challenge.  I lowered my record to 44:16 from 45:41.  A slight improvement.

July 22
Ran 14 miles of the LHHT.  Gate to 7 and back in 2:46 for a pace of 11:51.  Elevation: gain 3700' loss 3700'

July 25
On a whim, I enjoyed a nice long run from Ohiopyle to Hickory Flats Road (38miles).  Thursday night around 11:00pm I was talking to Laura, telling her I wanted to do a long run, but was uncertain where I wanted to go.  Laura offered the idea that I should run as much of the LHHT as possible, she'd support along the way.  I quickly accepted and stayed up a few more hours.  With 3 hours of sleep, Laura lovingly dumped me in Ohiopyle the following morning.  Early on I could feel my elevation workouts paying off.  I starting slow and calm,  but couldn't help kicking it up a notch on the long climbs.  A 15 minute or so emergency bathroom stop and chaffing had me burning and doubting early.  This was around Maple Summit.  Luckily an emergency Vaseline tube kept things only slightly uncomfortable until Laura saved the day with some Mission Anti-friction cream and replacement shorts at  Route 653 trail head.  The rest of the run I ran at a comfortable pace enjoying the views, cooler temperatures and empty trails.  I was expecting to get water at 7 Springs, but upon arrival the faucet was damaged and running.  The continual flow was spewing nasty, orange iron water.  Skipping the refill and stretching what I was carrying sent me to  Route 31 parking area and Laura with clean water.  My 50K time was  6:18 despite my breaks.  A slight discomfort was developing in my left foot.  I was aware, but not concerned.  I refilled and continued on as did the pounding on my left foot.  I met Laura at Hickory flats Rd. (MP 38) where my foot was considerably more tender than before.  Fearing that continuing might lead to missed running days ahead, I finished there and ended with an elapsed time of 7:45.  I was happy with how fresh and spry I was feeling, but disappointed random pain kept me from continuing.  A good nights sleep and a couple easy days had my foot back to normal and doing "Heart Attack Hill" repeats again.  In retrospect it was a good call!  Here are some photos from my run.  It was one of the sunniest, driest days in the last couple weeks.  It was great to enjoy a long section of the trail on a glorious uncrowded weekday.  Elevation: gain 7100' loss 5500'

Clouds over the Youghiogheny River valley
Overlook of Middle Fork at mile 21.3 on the LHHT
Turnpike bridge over the PA Turnpike mile 36.75
Trail sign at Firetower Rd., Rt. 31 intersection.

July 28
I recently signed up for Strava GPS run tracker and have been having fun with their "segments."  Runtastic is my normal GPS of use. (I find both equally inaccurate, but help in tracking elevation).  I'm new to using Strava so I don't understand all of it, but segments appear to be short challenges (segments) created by Strava based on runs by users.  You can compete against all others that have completed each "segment."  Many segments exist along the LHHT due to Laurel Ultra racers using Strava on race day.  I decided to set my sights on some of the current Strava records for local "segments".  The segment I was excited to try was named "Conn Rd Climb."  This segment starts at Bidwell Rd. and climbs 1.6 miles and 1,264' of elevation to Conn Rd. It has an average grade of 15.4%.  There have been 19 recorded users on the segment.  The record of 25:27 was held by Jim Trautmann of Pittsburgh.  He set the record on June 12, 2010.  Seventeen runners have done the segment since him.  I would be number 18 to try.  I parked at Conn Rd. and walked to milepost 8 to begin.  I did 2 slow warmup laps of MP 8 to 6 to 8 repeats sans GPS.  I used my watch to clock splits.  On my way back up on repeat 2 (mile 7.25) I stopped and grabbed my phone.  I started it at mile post 8.  My third time down to 6 I picked up the pace increasing my cadence as well as stride adjusting to the high turnover about to commence for my record attempt up.   I turned around at milepost 6 and started the long grind up with vigor.  I ran close to red line for quite a while until I broke to a power hike.  I kept attacking "Heart Attack."  The grade backs off just before MP 7.  I picked back up into a sprint at the shelf and continued past 7 and up to the next steep section.  I ran all I could from MP7 up to the finish at Conn Rd.  I wasn't sure where it ended, so I  kept my effort up all the way to MP8 where I ended my lap.  I uploaded my run and it was official.  I squeaked by the old Strava record for Conn Rd. Climb.  My  time was 24:56.  A minor record, but still cool in my eyes.  I'm sure its been run faster by others.  It would be cool to get a King of the Climb going on for "Heart Attack Hill"  Mile post 6 to 8 which I officially clocked (with a watch at mile posts) 27:56.  After spending some time looking around Strava I've noticed that Jim did quite a few quick trail runs on the trails in the Laurel Highlands.  How cool! Hope to see you out there some day...

July 29
I decided to run the Route 31 to Route 30 section of the LHHT.  Another glorious day with plentiful sunshine and temps around 68°.  I had the trail to myself.  I passed one lone hiker on this roughly 15 mile section.  This time I went with limited water, no electro replacement capsules and only 1 gel as a slight handicap.  The whole section went well and I cruised along at a good pace finishing the section in 2:35.  Elevation Gain 2805', Loss 3202'.  The trail was recently maintained in this section and is in wonderful condition where thick spots usually exist.

So many good runs recently, I could mention them all.  To end this and save you from a longer post.  I'll leave with some recent photos.  Happy trails!

First Copperhead I've ever seen on the LHHT! I can't believe it...
Quebec Run, Hess trail
Quebec Run, Hess trail, Photo L. Hahn

Laura and Elmo
Grove Run Trail head, Linn Run State Park


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