Sunday, June 13, 2010

Hacklebarney State Park Hike & Sourland Mountain Preserve Trail Run

Bulleted delivery over the essay form is hopefully one way I can still get a few blog posts in, while still struggling to adjust to my new work and running schedule.

Here are some random thoughts and goings-on:

* Why are we always complaining about the weather? I can understand that while running in 90 degree temperatures and 80% humidity, the weather might occupy the senses a bit more than usual, but when the skies are pouring down bountiful rain after 2 weeks of scorching heat, I would expect people to be grateful. But all I hear is how everyone misses the sun! Oh, come on!

* I am contemplating moving my long run day again, from Thursday to Sunday. I used to do my long runs on Saturdays. But I now run with the club on Saturdays, and Sundays have become my "explore trails/new running routes/hill running" day. Long runs got moved to Thursday. But that was before I acquired a 1 1/2 hour commute one way (in traffic). After a fitful, 4-hour sleep, waking up at 4 AM for a 16-mile run (painful, by the way - cramping, tightness and muscle pulls dominating most of it), rushing through breakfast and a shower, then sitting in traffic for an hour, rubbing my sore achilles, it finally dawned on me that the easier option would be to switch my long run days back to the weekend.

* Your helpful suggestions on speedwork are greatly appreciated. I tried a pyramid interval and a Yasso 800 workout. My view on speedwork? Disgusting, nauseating...and enormously gratifying! If only the muscles, tendons and knees would co-operate, I would like to squeeze in 1 day of speedwork every week.

* Saturday run at the towpath: The towpath runs are always fun and a great way to begin a Saturday. Yesterday's run was one of the best. DH & I were joining friends on a hike later, so I started the run a little earlier than usual, broke it down into sections, running the first 1 1/2 miles with an eager-beaver newcomer (who had begun his running journey to lose weight, lost 50 pounds in a few months and gained an addiction to running), the next 3 miles with the speedy girls, the next 2 miles chatting with Wenchi/Oleg, then wrapping up the last 1 1/2 miles on my own. Very balanced run. And more miles than I had planned for the day.

* Hacklebarney State Park in NJ's NorthWest Skylands: I can't get over the fact that a charming place like this exists just 20 minutes from home. We hiked an easy 2.8 miles surrounded by stunning scenery, followed by a lovely packed lunch.

I am already planning a trail run there, with a post-run dip in the trout-filled Black River. Ahhh!
* I have been able to get a few friends interested in group trail runs, so we ran the trails at Cheesequake State Park a couple of weeks ago and Sourland Mountain Preserve today.
We had a couple of drop-outs unfortunately, but 4 of us showed up at the trail head at Sourland Mountain Preserve in Hillsborough this morning, bright and chirpy, ready to tackle the hilly, rocky trail. These pics (stolen from the web) are deceptive.
The trail...
...looks more like THIS!
After manuevring hilly sections with boulders for a couple of miles, we came upon wide open space with a view...that looks a lot more beautiful in the pic than it did at the time, because the last thing we were focusing on was the scenery! The sun beat down furiously; we were sweating buckets and beyond exhausted. And we were making our way down a steep downhill portion with sharp rocks and gravel. One wrong step and we would be sprawled on the ground, face-down, with a mouth full of gravel and almost certainly, broken bones.
After a mile in open space,we had a choice to enter the woods again or stay in open space all the way. We decided that the forest with shady tree cover was preferrable.
But we separated as we made our way through the forest to the parking lot, and Glenn got out first, covering the trail once. The rest of us got lost in the woods, in a maze of white-blazed trails. It was hard to tell if we were heading toward or away from the parking lot! Prem and Sandy were able to make their way back through the woods with the help of another runner, while I ended up at the clearing again, doing the 1 mile steep downhill run again.
After what seemed like ages, I got to the parking lot and as I was guzzling water, saw Sandy and Prem make their way out of the forest. I was a little relieved I was not the only one who got a little disoriented! I have been running trails for a little while now, but my sense of direction has not improved. I covered 5.75 miles in total (walking and running). This was definitely one of the toughest trails I have done so far, but also a lot of fun.
So much for a bulleted post, eh? Hope you had a wonderful and eventful weekend!


Abby said...

As you settle into the new routine, if you have any tips on making that hour-and-a-half-each-way commute more tolerable, feel free to send them along! I'll be starting a comparable one in September (maybe not too far from you? I'll be headed to Union, NJ), and am pretty anxious about adjusting to all the driving.

joyRuN said...

Your view on speedwork is exactly how I'm feeling. I hate it with a vengeance, but it's gratifying when done.

Doesn't look like I can maintain weekly intervals though, so I'll intersperse with tempo.

Heather said...

The trail run looks like so much fun - I would probably get lost too!

Erica said...

An hour and a half commute? Good lord. That is quite a distance! Amazing that you manage to still fit it all in. The trails are beautiful. Waterfall this way? I'm in ;)

ajh said...

It looks like a nice area. You deserve to run in a nice place with an hour and a half commute! That sounds horrible!

Irene said...

I can't do speed work without tunes! I feel the same way! It's a lot of work, yet so worth the effort!

Marlene said...

So beautiful! Your posts recently make me want to run the trails!

lindsay said...

yikes 4am for 16 miles... i can get up and run then for like an hour.

1.5 hr commute! gross!! i complained like no other over an hour commute last year. i hate spending that much time in the car - seems like such a waste. i know, sometimes it has to be done. :-/

I Run for Fun said...

Abby, sorry. I have no tips...I find the commute equally mind-numbing! The commute does get slightly more bearable when I am still on a high after a run.

She-Fit said...

Who wouldn't want to join you for a group trail run after looking at these pictures... it's beautiful!

Mica said...

I love all your beautiful trail pictures! A trail run really sounds far more appealing than a hot, humid run where I'm pounding it out on the pavement.

Also, I really love the names of these places you are visiting: Cheesequake? Sourland? Hahaha.

(P.S. I moved my blog to my own domain.)

Scott Keeps Running said...

I love the clouds in the third from last photo.

Jamie said...

Those trails are awesome!

Running long before work is tough and even harder when you need to add on such a long commute!

Ravi said...

Wow! Very nice place. And not far from where I live. Thanks, you have enthused me to visit this park.

Good pics and post.

Anonymous said...

I happened upon your post while searching for a cover photo for my blog. Would it be okay for me to use one of these beautiful photos? I grew up in Hillsborough and spent a lot of time in the Sourlands and Hacklebarney! There's not a great place for a credit, but I'll give you a shout out in the About section :-)
Let me know,

I Run for Fun said...

Sam, feel free to use the those trails!