Ian Erne’s Rock The Ridge Race Report

Recently I’ve posted about different ways of talking to yourself while running, and in reading Ian’s race report from a 50-mile ultramarathon in the Shawangunks, I was impressed by his thoughtful strategy for mitigating risky conditions and his on-the-move decision-making.

By guest author, Ian Erne (shared with his permission – thank you, Ian):

I managed to finish the RockTheRidge 50-miler on a very rainy day with temperatures in the 40s. Approximately 100 of my fellow ultramarathon enthusiasts/competitors had to DNF for various reasons. Hypothermia being the biggest reason. As I stated in a previous post, I was under-trained, but felt I could finish if I ran conservatively and intelligently.

ian 1

Continue reading “Ian Erne’s Rock The Ridge Race Report”

Ian Erne’s Rock The Ridge Race Report

Ashokan High Point

With all the peaks for May complete, the Catskill Grid is on pause until the 1st of June.  With some time on my hands, I was thinking the other day about the Catskills All Trails Hiking Challenge, also known as Redlining the Catskills, a project where you keep track of all your hikes and runs until you’ve covered every step of the 345 miles of official trail.  On a whim, I downloaded the list and started checking off the trails I’d completed as part of the Grid and other adventures, and perhaps that was a mistake, or put differently, these projects are slippery slopes and even if they don’t sound compelling at first, once the spreadsheet is created, then you feel the force of gravity starting to tug.

With respect to the Redlining project, my calculations showed around 40% of the 345 miles complete.  There are a number of connector trails and side-loops I’ve never explored, particularly out west.

With the forecast calling for a beautiful spring day, a glance at the map identified Ashokan High Point as a place I’d never been with a trail that wasn’t too long and a trailhead that was only an hour’s drive away.  So Odie and I piled into the car and off we went….

Continue reading “Ashokan High Point”

Ashokan High Point

Tramping along the Shawangunk Ridge Trail

In years gone by, I’d think nothing of thru-running the entire 70-mile Shawangunk Ridge Trail (SRT), most recently in 2015, when it took me around 24 hours.  This year, however, still recovering from a sore ankle tendon, it would have to be a slower execution, and accordingly I drew up plans to thru-hike 40 miles of the trail over a two-day period.  This is the stretch of trail I’m responsible for as a volunteer supervisor with the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, where I work with a crew of twelve other volunteers to keep the trail marked and passable.  This hike would be an opportunity to inspect conditions and see what work was needed.

The exotic beauty of the Shawangunk mountains never fails to amaze  me — the gritty white conglomerate and dreamy pine barrens so different from other New York landscapes.  Each trip brings fresh discoveries, and familiar sights are revealed in new ways.  Here are some photos and observations.  I hope they inspire you to come experience the trail for yourself….

(The Shawangunk Ridge trail connects the Appalachian Trail in High Point State Park, New Jersey, with the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail in Rosendale, New York.  For thirty miles, the SRT is co-aligned with the Long Path, New York’s signature long distance trail.)

Continue reading “Tramping along the Shawangunk Ridge Trail”

Tramping along the Shawangunk Ridge Trail

What I think about when I think about running

Sometimes writers raise the question, what is it that runners think about?  Often the writers are looking for something beyond the inner dialogue of effort and discomfort, they’re hoping for clues to deeper meaning in the runners’ lives or even hints of spirituality.

That’s fine, but why shouldn’t runners think about the act of running?  Call it being “mindful,” or just paying attention to what you’re doing.

In fact, there’s enormous interest among coaches, journalists, and psychologists in the best kind of “inner dialogue” for athletes.  Often this advice focuses on confidence, determination, motivation, visualizing peak performance, or getting into the “flow.”

I was thinking about this the other day when I heard about an emergency landing of a passenger jet which had lost an engine:  the pilot was lauded for keeping her cool.  A former fighter pilot, she had been taught to “exude confidence,” a practice that some attribute to legendary test pilot Chuck Yeager, who once commented that as situations became more dangerous, he would speak more slowly.

This line of thought led me to conduct an experiment:  I’d take some notes on my own thoughts while completing a high-intensity speed workout at the local track — an exercise that doesn’t carry the same risk as piloting a jet fighter, but which subjects the runner to high levels of discomfort and exposes him or her to heightened risk of injury.  The goal of the experiment:  observe how I talk to myself while running.

After the first try at this experiment, however, it became clear that what was going on in my head wasn’t a monologue, but rather a conversation among several speakers — all different parts of myself, admittedly — but with specific roles.  This segregation of duties, based on my military and corporate experience, seemed to help the decision-making process during the run.  Perhaps others will find it useful to organize their thoughts this way.

I’m a little nervous that this transcript may strike people as somewhat nerdy — but why shouldn’t I try to be as calm and collected as a fighter pilot?

See what you think…

Continue reading “What I think about when I think about running”

What I think about when I think about running

Finishing the April Grid

Notes on some of the other Catskills hikes that took place this month, with a special focus on views, birds, and battling the last remnants of snow and ice…

Continue reading “Finishing the April Grid”

Finishing the April Grid

A Long Day

Slowly whittling away the remaining peaks for April, the warmer weather finally making things at little easier — and not just for me, but birds everywhere calling and singing and flitting about from branch to branch or circling overhead.  I started out this hike in high spirits, but well before the half-way point it was turning out to be more difficult than anticipated….

Continue reading “A Long Day”

A Long Day