Category Archives: fitness

2019 Hyner Training Run

In 2018 a group of my friends were all registered for the Hyner Trail Challenge in PA. I was not registered for the race, but had heard my friends talk about it. I was interested in the event and I wanted to see what the hype was all about. So I joined them for a group training run at Hyner to run 14 miles of the 16 mile course. It was really not the best day for a long hard run and certainly not the best day to be encountering the challenges of Hyner for the first time.

Now this year I am registered for the Hyner Trail Challenge. Once again myself and a couple of friends are making the trip down to PA for a training rung on 14 miles of the Hyner Course. It was a fairly typical cold winter day for our region, but it was made to feel even more frigid after enjoying multiple days of warmer weather including two days of 60 degree weather the previous two days. Then the floor dropped out of those temps and 24 hours later we were back to subzero temps in the morning with a high of mid 30’s. Luckily at least we had sunshine today.

Climbing up Humble Hill is no joke. The exertion level is high no matter what pace you are going. Despite the exertion raising body temps and the nice sun shining above the wind combined with the chilling temps to make it feel quite cold especially on the last quarter of the climb. It is cold and difficult but the view from the top makes it all worth it. It was still pretty windy and cold at the lookout point so it is not easy to stick around too long, but I hung out long enough to capture a few photos.

After that climb you switchback down the side of the mountain into the valley and you encounter the first of what will be many stream crossings. We stopped here to eat something quickly and drink some water. It was also a great spot to take some photos. I had brought my small Nikon camera with me and decided to get that out again and immediately proceeded to drop it on the rocks damaging the lens. Now that camera was out of commission for the rest of the trip after only about 3 miles. Not what I had in mind.

The next section is relatively flat but littered with so many stream crossings that you cannot really keep track. The freezing cold water from the snow melt doesn’t help either. Being that it was  a training run and not a race we decided to pick out way across the streams and try to keep our feet dry-ish as much as possible, but this is simply is not possible in places. You have to take on that freezing cold water. By the end of the stream crossings your feet are numb.

After the stream crossings you start another ascent. If you thought climbing meant no more water, you’d be wrong. On this climb you essentially climb up a stream bed as the water pours down the hillside and over your feet. After another descent you climb again and eventually reach SOB and whose name is well deserved. Then you reach the most moderate section of the entire course. There is some times spent at a relatively flat section on top of the mountain and then you have a long not too steep decent back into the valley. 

The most interesting aspect of this training run was the snow. Last year we ran in February. No snow. This year we are running in mid-march, nearing spring and there was quite a significant amount of snow especially on the second half of the course. I was hoping the snow would be melted. I am really hoping that the snow is melted by race day. It made the course interesting and was great for photos, but it did make for some slower going if for no other reason that just to be careful and make sure you had good footing.

Like many runners I use Strava to track my runs. One of the features I do really enjoy on Strava is the segments. When you run in an area where there are a lot of segments that have been created it allows you to pretty easily see how your performance has changed, hopefully for the better from run to run. There are a lot of segments that have been created for Hyner. I was happy to see that Strava had notified me of 12 achievements. Many of these achievements were 2nd best times on a segment which in this case doesn’t mean anything since it was only the second time I have run here. But there were several segments where I had PRs meaning that I ran better than last year. This was really good news to me because we really felt like we were taking it easier and not pushing too hard on this training run. So the fact that our perceived effort level was lower but we were actually faster on a lot of segments indicates to me that our physical conditioning has improved from our training over the past year. Hopefully this will translate to a nice strong run at the race in just over a month. 

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This Run Almost Didn’t Happen

Training for an ultra marathon has been a lot of work. The first race I’ve ever done any official training plan and I picked a doosey. The have been challenges along the way, but today was a big one.

Today was the closest I have come to not running at all on a day that my training plan has me scheduled for a run. I was mentally exhausted after a long day at work. I was hungry. I was tired. I just needed to eat and sit for a minute.

I nuked some rice and beans and ate it quickly. Then I just wanted to sit back and close my eyes for a minute. My eyes were burning and my brain was buzzing. Just closing my eyes would help everything settle down.

As soon as sat back my loving dogs swarmed me. Three of my dogs laid on anf around me. Theu snuggled up with me and nearly put me to sleep. After about an hour I was able to pry myself off the couch and change into running clothes.

I got in the treadmill and started running. I needed some motivation for running and REI Presents: How To Run 100 Miles https://youtu.be/iC7Lh4opLsc was spot on.

#1. It Helps To Have A Friend Along

#2. It’s Going To Be A Struggle At Times

#3. You Have To Put In The Work

#4. Eventually You Have To Start The Race

#5. Commit

#6. You Have To Keep Moving

This might have been the perfect movie to watch durring a struggle of a training run.

Then I watched some Jam Jam and some Ginger Runner. They helped get me through.

Today was supposed to be speedwork but after 2 miles at 10 minute miles I tried to speed up to 8 minute mile pace for 1 mile but I just didn’t have it. I was too sore and tired from yesterday’s workout. At about 2.5 miles the combination of the big TV, the space heater, and the treadmill managed to blow a fuse. So I had to get off the treadmill and reset the breaker. It took every ounce of willpower to get back on the treadmill.

The next 4.5 miles were a mental challenge. Being on the treadmill where I can literally stop any time I want with no negative consequences is a real challenge to keep going when it gets tough. Boy did I want to stop. With one mile left I was literally chanting out loud to myself “One more mile.” Over and over until I was done. But I did get it done.

It’s not always easy but it is always worth it.

STRC Pie and Glove 5K

I spent Thanksgiving Morning volunteering at the Southern Tier Running Club Pie and Glove 5K. I photographed the event for the organization and posted the photos online for all the participants to see. Here are a few that I liked.

Red Baron Half Marathon

The last race I ran was the Wineglass Half Marathon in early October. The next race I was planning to run was the Red Baron Half Marathon in early November. In the month in between I was focusing on recovering from some minor nagging injuries and getting over a bad cold. So, my running was not what I would have liked it to be. I was already anxious about running Red Baron because I have never run on terrain like (Hills) that for that long of a distance (13.1 miles).  I was very concerned about those hills. With the encouragement of my friends at STRC I lead a group run to practice the first 6 miles of the Red Baron course which is where most of the hills lie. After the practice run I felt like the hills were doable for me. I felt a little relief. In the days before the race doubt began to creep in once again. In the time between the two races I never ran anything longer than 8 miles. I was not sure I would be able to sustain my effort for the whole race. Everything about this race was different for me. Different terrain. Different start time. Different needs for pre-race food consumption. It had me very unsure about just about everything. My mind kept cycling between maybe I could PR or maybe this will be my worst half marathon distance run yet.

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On race day I was already a step ahead of the game from my pre Wineglass experience as I had remembered my headphones and remembered my battery for my camera, both of which I forgot at Wineglass. When you are a both a runner and a photographer you try to figure out ways to take photos of your races thus the camera and battery. I was at the race venue and feeling good. The weather was great. I was relaxed and able to meet up with some friends, chat, and feel relaxed. I was recruited to take a few photos pre-race by STRC. Thanks Scott. That helped me take my mind of the race. I was ready to go.

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As the race started, I began at the back of the field since I had been taking photos. I found this disconcerting for some reason, even though it’s a fine place for the pace I run. For the first several miles I felt pretty good. Maybe too good. I began to think I went out too fast, so I slowed down some and found a friend to run with and talk to for a little while. The hills rolled by. On the largest hill of the bunch it was tougher on me than I would have liked but I did not succumb. I was able to surmount the obstacle without feeling like I gave too much of myself and depleting my reserves.

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The second half of the race was what I was hoping would be the fun part for me. It consists of a lot of downhill which I actually enjoy. To my surprise it was not as easy as I would have liked. By miles 7 and 8 I was feeling pretty tired. I could tell I was slowing down already. Maybe I did go out to fast after all. All the second thoughts and doubts were getting to me. By mile ten I was feeling the pain. My hips were tightening up and I was doing anything I could to just try to stretch them out. I would occasionally check my pace and seeing how much I’d slowed down try to push myself for just a little more speed. I didn’t have any left though. As I was crossing the bridge back the school I could barely lift my feet off the ground. I almost started walking, but I knew I was so close, I knew I could make it. I pushed on at a run, however slow at that point. At the bottom of the bridge my friend from earlier in the race that I ran with caught back up to me, as I thought she might. She pushed me and challenged me to give this last stretch all I had. She challenged me to sprint through to the finish, so we did. Or at least I tried.

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I didn’t run the race I had hoped for or finish with the time I hoped for. But I also did not run the race I feared or the time I feared.

The race was a great event put on by a great organization and a stellar bunch of volunteers. I had a great time with the challenge and I will be back next year to take it on again.

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