It is now official, I am on the list for the Pennsylvania Triple Crown of Moutain Running. If you are not aware of it, this is a challenge for finishing what is probably considered as the three most difficult trail races in Pennsylvania:
Hyner 50K: the appetizer, the warm-up – a hard 50K that is not qualified as a race but a challenge.
I took advantage of this Seattle trip to explore the trails around. Staying in Bellevue, WA, I tried to find a challenging trail not too far. After searching online, it sounds like the Tiger Mountain Trail could be what I was looking for. In the nature, with some good elevation, it can be a good training run, especially the day after running the Baker Lake 25K.
When searching what trail I can run the night before, I found out that you need a pass to park. This is a good initiative: if you are using the trail, you have to pay a fee (so, people that does not use the trail does not pay this tax). More fair than a tax system (where both users and non-users pay), it was unfortunately too late for me to get a pass: being in my bedroom at 10pm and as I wanted to run in the morning at 7am, I had no way to print it before I get there. But the start of the Tiger Mountain Trail does not require a pass, so, I was safe on that front. If you plan to run in the area, consider taking a pass – I will definitively take one when coming back, especially if I use the trail for few days.
The trail is well maintained and well marked. Getting lost is very unlikely. Prepare ahead of time, look the course on google maps, this is pretty easy to follow. The route is mostly single track with some roots and rocks here and there. Nothing really crazy. I ran the first 6.5 miles and take some good climb, having a 2000 feet of total elevation. Not so sure about the total mileage and elevation since the garmin lost the GPS reception several times during the run.
If you are running it early in the morning, you will get also a lot of fog as you climb. Also, the temperature can be very cold – after climbing 2000 ft, I stopped for a while and was feeling very cold – it was time to move again and avoid to get lost. Finally, if you do it, get some shoes with good traction – as it often rains in the area, rocks can get very slippery.
If you want to do it …
if you do not have a pass, you can park at the start of the trail
get shoes with traction – the rain and make the terrain slippery
be careful of the temperature: as you climb, it can be pretty steep
This year was full of exciting news. Sometimes for the best, sometimes for the worst. Let’s take a couple of minutes and look back at what happened.
Many training opportunities around Pittsburgh. Most training runs were with friends in Moraine State Park, Ohiopyle and within the city. By running mostly every day, it provides the opportunity to discover Frick Park with another perspective and it can provide a lot of good training opportunities (there are many hills that can be the base of a good training for ultra races). On top of that the Steel City Road Runners runs add more miles and also gives a chance to explore other areas in the city. Definitively, the most interesting routes are in Ohiopyle and Moraine State Park. If you are looking to train in this area during the week-end and are interested to join a group, please drop me a line!
In the meantime, other training aspects were not too impacted or neglected: cross-training every other day, biking during week-ends, etc. Mostly, each day included between one to two hours of moderate to intense physical activity.
In run a total of about 3500 miles in 2014, an average of 9.5 miles per day.
The biggest change introduced in 2014 was to use running as a primary way of commuting. It started in January, 2014. This decision was based on having a more training and avoid wasting time, money and efforts every day. Being a run commuter is hard in the beginning but pay off:
better training: you know the different routes and choose the one according to your training needs
time: you do not have to drive to work (which takes time) and workout later. Your commute is your workout so when you are at home, you can put the priority on non-running activities (read or write an article, shopping, playing, etc.)
predictability: you know how much you are doing (in terms of training intensity) but also when you will be at work. You are no longer late for meetings because of traffic issues.
finance: you save money directly (you do not need parking or gas) or indirectly (low-mileage insurance)
There is no regret for having doing it and no plans to use my car again to go to work. Probably the best decision made this year.
2014 was the opportunity to run more than 23 races during the past year, including one 50 miles, one 50K and 5 marathons. It includes also a few half-marathons and smaller races. However, 2014 was the year of the first half-marathon. Also, this year is the one with a PR for each distance!
The focus is not really longer on road races but rather on trail runs. While road running is fun, running is not a competition for me but rather a way to meditate and explore. Also, the trail running community is less competitive and seems more friendly. This is why the focus the the race calendar is mostly on trail running and more specifically ultras, mostly 50K and 50 miles.
The coming year will be focused on better training and running longer distances. The race already includes three 50K and two 50 milers. Not sure where all these distance will bring us. There is a strong desire to support the community, continue to pace runners (probably during ultra events such as 100 milers) but also raising money for charity. Being active, helping your friends and your relatives, connecting with others and discovering the nature is something that needs to be promoted and encouraged. I hope that I could be useful and able to support any activities or efforts that would try to work on these topics.