Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Mount Beacon: Perfect place for mountain repeats! (Except when it is covered by ice!)

Mount Beacon: Perfect place for mountain repeats!

Saturday, February 2, 2013
Workout Types(s): Trail running, road running
Miles ran: 18ish
Where: Palisades Interstate Park
Temperature: High 20s
What I wore: Elita turtleneck, Northface fleece, random vest, elita thermal leggings, Adidas leggings, 2XU calf sleeves, smartwool socks, Bondi Band
Sneakers: Inov-8 Rock-lites 315
How I felt: Happy
What I thought about while running: Life is good.
Food consumed: Zico coconut water, two zone bars
Notes: Ran from my house to the Palisades, ran along the Palisades, and then ran back.  Totally bumped into my gastroenterologist, who was out hiking with his wife.  Cool.

Sunday, February 3, 2013
Workout Types(s): Mountain repeats
Miles ran: 20ish
Where: Mt. Beacon
Temperature: High teens, low 20s
What I wore: Elita turtleneck, Northface fleece, random vest, elita thermal leggings, Adidas leggings, 2XU calf sleeves, smartwool socks, Bondi Band, microspikes
Sneakers: Inov-8 Rock-lites 315
How I felt: Pretty good.
What I thought about while running: I could spend all day doing this.
Food consumed: Zico coconut water, one zone bar, dduk boki (Korean food).
Notes: Why can’t this mountain be closer to me??!!! 

Monday, February 4, 2013
Workout Types(s): Recovery run
Miles ran: 6
Where: My neighborhood
Temperature: Low 20s
What I wore: Elita turtleneck, Northface fleece, Adidas leggings, random ankle socks, Bondi Band
Sneakers: Inov-8 Rock-lites 315
How I felt: Brrrrrisk.
What I thought about while running: Don’t recall.
Food consumed: Nothing.
Notes: So hard to get out of bed this morning.  Good thing I wore my running clothes before I went to sleep. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Nothing yet.  Will probably climb, run, and strength train tonight.

This weekend was fantastic because I was able to stick to mostly running in the woods.  On Saturday, I ran the Long Path in Palisades Interstate Park.  The Long Path begins at Fort Lee Historical Park, parallels the Hudson River in North Jersey and makes its way all the way up to Albany.  For those unfamiliar with the Palisades Interstate Park, it's a park that hugs the Hudson River and starts about a half a mile south of the George Washington Bridge and extends all the way past the New Jersey/New York state line.  It is easily accessible via public transportation from Manhattan and so it is a common training ground for some of my trail-loving Manhattan friends.  The park has two major trails, the Long Path and the Shore Trail and a few little trails that connect the two.  The Long Path is on the cliffs and the Shore Trail is, you guessed it, on the Hudson River shoreline.  In between the trails is Henry Hudson Drive, a popular road for cyclists and road runners.

From my house, it is about a 5K, mostly uphill run to the Palisades, which made me nice and toasty by the time I hit the Long Path.  I ran six miles on the Long Path and then took the Huyler's Landing trail down to the Shore Path.  Since I was pressed for time and I was not running the Shore Path as fast as I would have liked, I had to leave the trail, climb a short distance to Henry Hudson Drive and then book it as fast I could back home.  

Sunday's run was a lot more interesting.  When I first found out that I got into Western States and started asking around for advice on where and how to train, nearly everyone said that I had to practice long ascents and descents, the longer the better.  This worried me, because besides Harriman State Park with its Bear and Bald Mountains, I didn't really know of any longish climbs in the area.  

Fortunately, an ultrarunning friend and Leadville-veteran, Michael Oliva told me about Mount Beacon, which is located in the Fishkill, NY, only an hour drive north from my house.  There are a couple of approaches to the peak, but the fastest and steepest (and best for my Grand Slam training) route is via Mount Beacon Park in Beacon, NY.  Using the red blazed "Casino Trail," you start at an elevation of 200' and finish at 1400' in less than two miles.  Once you get to the top, there is a fire lookout tower that you can climb for an additional 200 feet of altitude.  It sounded perfect for mountain repeats.  Mike said I should be able to climb back and forth easily at least ten times in order to prepare for Leadville.  That Sunday, I decided that I would do five to get an even twenty miles.  

Getting to the trail was easy.  The Mount Beacon Park parking lot is located right at the trail base, so I just drove, parked, threw my backpack on and started running.  And then stopped almost immediately because I saw a very curious tree that was dotted with colorful balls.  When I walked closer, I realized that the balls were actually pieces of gum left by hikers throughout the years.  Cool, but gross.  

The gum tree.

After taking a few photos of the tree, I kept going and then stopped again because I encountered some stairs.  In my limited research of Mount Beacon, I didn't realize the first part of the ascent involved climbing about two hundred steps to the actual trail.  But since the stairs were going in the right direction, I went up and finally saw my first red trail marker.

Hello, trail marker.

So I bounded up the trail.  It was steep, but definitely runnable.  However, I resisted the temptation to just run and focused on practicing my speed hiking, a very useful skill to have in trail ultramarathons.

Easy peasy.

Hello, itty bitty rocks.

The ice was getting annoying, so I threw on my microspikes.

Hello, annoying ice.

After less than twenty, twenty five minutes of hiking and taking pictures, I reached the first major lookout point.  According to my quick wikipedia search, back in the 1900s, this very spot used to have a popular casino and there was a railway that went up and down the mountain; at that time, it was the world's steepest funicular.  Everything is now in ruins, but the view was still pretty nice.

The view.  Hello, Rob.

Abandoned railway funicular stop.

Inside the old railway.

After taking a few photos, I kept on following the trail.  Although this ascent wasn't nearly as steep, it was definitely icy:

My microspikes came in handy during this part.

And then I was at the top!  At the top of Mount Beacon was a fire lookout tower which offered 360 views of the Hudson Highlands.  Unfortunately, the entrance was padlocked.  

The fire lookout tower!

Should I climb it?

This may or may not be a view from top of the lookout tower.

This also may or may not be a view from top of the lookout tower.  Look at those itty bitty trails!

While I was happy to be at the top, I was a bit sad because I wanted to take some photos of myself and there was no one around.  However, from where I stood, I could see a group of hikers on another peak, about a mile away.  This will sound crazy, but I just knew that they were Korean.  And if they were indeed one of my brethren (I am Korean), at least one of them would be more than happy to take my photo! 

If you squint really hard, you can see a group of hikers.

So I ran, ran, ran over to the next peak.  And by golly, I was right.  They were Korean!  And they were cooking something that smelled delicious.  As soon as I said hello, they told me to sit down and eat with them.   Turns out they were cooking ddeokboki and it was spicy and delicious.  After I ate a few and thanked them a million times, one of the women was nice enough to snap my photo.

Hello, my people.  
Hiking photo: Achieved.

On my way back, I could see the lookout tower, and more importantly, I could see little figures just hanging around the top.  If I ran really fast, I could get there before they left and they could take a photo of me at the peak!  So I ran, ran, ran back as fast as I could to the top of Mount Beacon. 

A view of the lookout tower from the other peak.

Unfortunately, I just didn't move fast enough and was less than a quarter mile from the lookout tower, when I ran into the folks hiking back down.  However, by this point, I realized that there would probably be more hikers, so I contented myself by power hiking up and down Mount Beacon until I encountered another group of people.  After all, I was there to train, not to take pictures!  

But finally, I ran into a cool couple from the area and they were more than happy to take my photo:

Jumping photo: Achieved.

The rest of the day before the sun went down was pretty much the same.  Up and down and down and up.  Climbing up was pretty easy - I am starting to think all my stair mill workouts are actually accomplishing something.  However, going down was not as productive as I would have liked, mostly because I could never get a good rhythm going for more than a minute.  Parts of the trail were just much too icy and at certain points, I needed to sit and slide down because running down was just too dangerous, even in microspikes.  But sliding down was a lot of fun, even if I didn't reap any training benefits.

Finally, at around five o'clock, I decided to call it quits.  My iPhone was dying and it was growing dark and I was getting cold.  After saying good bye to Mount Beacon, I drove to Beacon's downtown area and looked for the nearest cafe so I could drink something hot.  The only thing I could find was a wine bar and it was deserted because apparently the Super Bowl was on.  Oops.  I totally forgot about the Super Bowl.  Oh well.  The Grand Slam of Ultrarunning is my Super Bowl ;).  

Time to go home.

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