Trail Running Challenge Blog (Ethan Banks)

Trailbagging Sam Willey & Saco River Trails (very runnable) + Crawford Cliff Spur (steep & rough)

Training today was trail running in Crawford Notch. Two runs.

Bagged Sam Willey & Saco River trails as an out-n-back. The run starts across the street from the Willey House and goes east to the Dry River Trail. Hot day, about 80F on the floor of the notch. I started feeling tired and not into it, but I've learned that this is my pattern on some level. I was unusually tired--just not quite enough sleep last night due to a long day trip. But the heat was also part of it. And then there's my pattern of taking about 2 miles before my body is ready to roll. Pushing too hard before I've got 2 miles is a mistake. In fact, I pushed a little hard on Lafayette the hard way a couple of days ago, and ended up slipping in the mud and rolling my ankle. After a couple of miles, I started feeling good--relaxed and starting to have fun instead of fighting my brain.

The two trails were a contiguous footpath, a roller that was down by the Saco River at its lowest, climbing to a high point where it intersects Webster Cliff Trail, and then mostly dropping to the terminus at Dry River Trail. Lots of small blowdowns that could be handled with a handsaw. Increasing levels of encroachment the further I got from Willey House. Hard to see my feet. Hard to see the roots and rocks. So, even if I was super-motivated, sections would have been hard to move fast on just because I couldn't tell what my feet were going to land on. There were also several moments of "Uh, where do I go now?" as the trail was hard to follow, but well-blazed so easy to pick back up again. I never got lost for more than a few seconds.

The way back seemed faster than the way out, mostly because the trail was more familiar. There are some loops and divergent paths to pay attention to if you are redlining the AMC guidebook if you want to be sure you get it all.

Bagged Crawford Cliff spur from the Mt. Clinton Road parking lot off the 302. By this point, I was feeling all warmed up and ready to go, so I ran/hiked up and ran down with a spring in my step. This was a short trail, very steep and rough at times, leading to a cliff outlook facing over the 302. It was ~500 feet of vert.

Observations for the day...

  1. I'm working on downhill speed improvement. Today wasn't a great day for that in that I was running a little worn out for most of the mileage. But I'm thinking about the angle of my torso to the ground, trying to lean forward more instead of my habit from hiking of leaning back and using my quads for braking. I'm also working on a longer downhill stride, stepping beyond obstacles rather than on top of them or coming up short of them. I find it's hard to "let it go" and just run when the terrain is too complex or steep, but I'm making small improvements. Perhaps the biggest gain I've made is sensing less stress on my quads. A long way to go here.

  2. I can run when I'm tired. This is another mental battle issue, but I've learned that being tired doesn't mean I can't means I don't want to--and those are different things. The corollary is that if I do just run, even when I'm not feeling like it, my body/brain seem to accept that I'm going to do it one way or the other, and gets on board.

Enough for today. A break from my feet tomorrow. I'll hit the weight room and try to get a bike ride in before the forecasted rain hits.