A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step – Lao Tzu
Whats more strenuous, a 10 mile hike or a 10 mile race? Although I had a 10 mile race scheduled on Sunday, I decided it was time to begin the Mount Rainier training and managed to squeeze in a hiking trip for Saturday. I figured that a stroll in the forest wouldn’t be a big deal. Little did Jon know.
HIKE 1: Mount Tammany
A 10 mile hike through Worthington State Forest located within the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area in NJ (New Jersey). There is about 20 miles of hiking trails within the park, including 7 miles of the infamous AT (Appalachian Trail). The route started off with a Mount Tammany summit followed by a roundtrip hike to Sunfish Pond via the AT. First, some definitions and fun facts:
– Delaware Water Gap: a water gap on the border of NJ and PA (Pennsylvania) where the Delaware River cuts through a large ridge of the Appalachian Mountains.
– AT (Appalachian Trail): a marked hiking trail in the eastern U.S. extending between Springer Mountain in Georgia and Mount Katahdin in Maine. The total length is approximately 2,200 miles.
– Mount Tammany: the southernmost peak of the Kittatinny Mountains in NJ. It’s 1,526 feet tall and forms the east side of the Delaware Water Gap. At the summit, you get a good view of Mount Minsi on the PA side.
– Sunfish Pond: a 44-acre glacial lake located on the Kittatinny Ridge within Worthington State Forest, adjacent to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. The AT runs alongside the western and northern edges of the pond. It was created by the Wisconsin Glacier during the last ice age.
Its been a while since I tried something new and felt like a freshman. I remember my first few running attempts. Wrong sneakers, wrong pants, wrong shirt, wrong attitude, wrong training, wrong expectation, wrong wrong everything wrong. And here we go again with hiking. Well, at least I have some marathon training as a foundation. But it was no match for bad hiking boots and the crazy idea that a whole day hiking wouldn’t be strenuous.
The trails were nothing like the roads/grass/gravel that I’m used to. Big rocks were sticking out of the earth in all different angles; a potential twisted ankle at any moment. It’s hard to look around and appreciate the views when you’re constantly looking down to avoid tripping. I ended up with a sore neck from constantly looking down at the ground. The fast walking pace surprised me the most. I was struggling to keep up by hour 5 and 6. The feeling of a backpack is brand new to me. It wasn’t 40 pounds or anything but my back was sore for 2 days. Sweaty back is the worst, ugh. Uphill has a new meaning as you ascend an Empire State building height (1500 ft) twice. They said bring 3 liters of H2O, yea right, like I’ll carry 3 liters and drink that much. But they were right. Although there were no bear encounters, I spotted some deer and this crawly dude.
OFF TO THE RACES :
Bronx 10 miler @ Bronx NYC
September 29th, 2013. 8:00AM and 60 degrees. 6,555 finishers.
Results: 8:02 pace, 1522 place, 77% percentile, (C+)
With barely 5 hours of sleep, sore back and butt muscles from the hike, I braced myself for a 10 mile race in the Bronx. How far could I go before my body breaks down? I’ve never felt worse before a race. Should I jog slowly to be safe or just race it? The passing of the start line reveals our true nature.
Mile 1, zoom. Yep, without thinking, I swerved through runners and ran on the express lane (sidewalks). I can’t help myself sometimes. The start line exposed my true character; eager and impatient. I didn’t know until the end but this was my fastest mile of the race; 7:20 pace. Mile 4-5 slowed me down a bit when the hills reminded my legs that they were already tired from yesterday. Ugh, I was feeling it, every pounding step. Was it the 2 Gatorade cups, the GU refill, the right tune on my iPod, or the really ancient guy who ran passed me? I dunno (maybe the last one), but I suddenly felt the power and raced it all the way to the finish. It was a PR! The moral of the story is that you’ll never know until you try.
My slam dunk finish line pose, haha.
1 month left until the NYC marathon and I’m not worried at all, unlike last year. With a 15 miler in a few days, I squeezed in a Storm King mountain hike the day after. Could day hiking be the ideal marathon cross training activity for me, who knows.