Orienteering (Foot) 3:56:40**** 25.6 km (9:15 / km) ahr:150 max:174 26c slept:8.5
HVO: Hudson Highlander in Harriman State Park. I returned to this classic orienteering long distance event for the first time in 2 years; post knee surgery last year. I was rather pleased with my results. Initially and on the first loop across the usually intimidating Surbridge Mountain, I felt well physically but very shakey with the navigation. I found myself less by design and more by it being the lessor of two evils, to be in the company of a small group that went left when almost everyone else seemed to go right at the start. Left seemed less steep and more direct while going right eventually would get to some trails. David Onkst was with me going over the first big hill and put it best after looking around at the others; he said something like this is a good group to keep company with. Besides Dave, the group included Wyatt Riley, a fast person unknown to me, and Daniel Schaublin. Daniel was actually course setter for the first loop so it really was good company to be in. Wyatt was slowly pulling ahead as everyone was tearing along. I was just trying to keep pace and in doing so I lost contact with the map terribly. Dave and the other unkown person fell off the pace and I found myself in the familiar position of trailing Daniel. I didn't want to let go as he and Wyatt were moving fast and reading much quicker than I felt I could. After finally getting to #1 in 18:47, we found ourselves ahead of most of the other racers. I did fine navigating on the next two legs--leg #2 was easy--just go up. I didn't push to be the King/Queen of the Mountain, preferring instead to conserve energy. Alan Young soon passed and led much of the way I went to #3. Daniel had taken a higher route that I recalled from a similar leg in a previous A-meet, being slower for me. I fumbled the final boulder for #3 passing it by a few steps and Daniel got it first. Leg #4 was long one. I drank water as Alan and Daniel took off. They both headed to a trail far to the south. It seemed out of the way but as it was the popular choice by locals, I chased. I caught Daniel as we got to the trail and followed along. On the map I hadn't seen a smaller trail that cut some distance and I was ready to pass it as Daniel turned up it. We went through Times Square and left further ahead at a distinct bend to contour around. My one contribution was to indicate getting too low. As soon as I said it, I saw a campground below so I really knew we were low then. I felt fairly confident going in to #4 from there and we saw Eddie Bergeron leaving the area. Daniel was decisive from there setting a route around the green but we agreed it best to cut in shortly. I had started gaining confidence in reading the map at the speeds we were going so I led the way up a reentrant toward #5. Making a left turn toward the control, I mistook one boulder for another and overshot the control. Coming back, Daniel was exiting the control. The sixth control was just off a trail and was the first aid station stop. I'd caught-up some of the distance on Daniel along the way and had seen Eddie Bergeron again as he stared off on the Trail leg.
I ate a bannana and drank some Gatorade, taking a longer time than Daniel had at the aid station before the Trail run. I felt good and moved along at a comfortable pace. I took care not to push too hard. As the trail headed downward, I really enjoyed the running--I got into a flow that I like. It's best described like water on stones. Seeing my wife Peggy and Bernie Bretton, I got a cheer. Soon I caught Daniel and we chatted a little. That's another nice thing about a Highlander and I find it much better than cyberspace. Oddly, I felt some hunger on the run so I ate a Gu. I asked Daniel who had set the trail run--it was much longer than others in the past. He told me that he had and that the it was partly because the next loop on Surebridge was highly technical and would use few trails. Eventually Francis Falardeau passed us--I wasn't expecting to be passed on the trail but I was cruising. Eventually Alan Young did the same. He apparently had made an error on #4 since I'd thought he was long gone ahead of us.
At the end of the trail run, I took my time again to eat bannas and to drink Gatorade. The injured Kris Beecroft was cheering and happy to see other Quantico runners. I restocked Gu in my pockets and took off chasing Daniel and Andis Vitolins who had gotten ahead somewhere around the aid station stop. I caught Daniel and chased Andis a bit. I didn't see him punch at #8 but his presence in the area gave me confidence to get to the right boulder. Going to #9, a shorter leg, I looked for the formline knoll and I got there pretty well. My confidence was increasing. As I led to #10, Daniel appeared to be slowing. I was hesitant to leave him partly because he had helped so much on the first loop. I decided to forge ahead and rounded a hill while descending toward a small knoll on a broad hillside that the boulder I was looking for was on. I spiked it so again I forged on. #11 was a tricky looking leg. I headed straight mostly for lack of a better route. An optional ridge route was out of the way and would have had extra climb. Going alone, I moved slower but steadily. At halfway there I found a distinct reentrant pointing toward the control so again my confidence improved. I attacked from below some cliffs and bare rock and spiked it. It's always a great feeling to round a corner or crest a hill expecting to see it and then to find it's really there. Going to #12, I rounded some vegetation and got up on a flattish ridge. There was lots of blueberry bush in the area with a few dot knolls sticking up above them. I went right past the control to one or two of the dot knolls before turning back and seeing it. As I did, Daniel came in the from the other direction, having gone right to it and getting there ahead of me. The dot knoll that the control was on was somewhat low and partly obsured by the blueberry bushes. Daniel led the very short leg to #13 as I chased. He led again to #14. I knew we were getting too far to the left but we hit the trail and came back just a bit to the aid station. Daniel got out first again but went wider to the left than I wanted. I cut across some blueberries and rounded a knoll to spike the control. Leg #16 looked scary. Up over a ridge and down to a boulder with literally 16 other boulders or boulder field symbols inside the circle. It helped that there were some trails and a hut up on the ridge even though it was a little hard to distinguish the building symbol for the hut from the nearby boulders. I descended a stony reentrant and when I saw some cliffs on my right, I stopped. I heard someone coming down from behind but I didn't look. I attacked and spiked it. It was then that I started to notice a trend where the control seemed to be on the largest boulder in the area, even though the symbols on the map were the same size. Going to #17 was perhaps a more tricky but similar leg that again crossed the ridge. I wanted to use a reentrant above the control to attack from but it didn't materialize as I expected it to. I kept my bearing anyway and spiked it. It probably helped that Brendan Sheilds and a woman with him were nearby, though at the time, I didn't know who they were. I got too low going to #18 and passing Brendan and the woman who were walking. However I recognized the spur that the control was on and I climbed on que to correct. I ran straightish to the map exchange, control #19, receiving more cheers from Kris Beecroft.
Going out toward the Silvermine map, I was undecided with a left and right route choice. I chose the left, down a road instead of up a trail mostly because it saved climb. I also thought I'd have a better attack by going left. Two steps off the road and into the green my right leg started to cramp. I walked it off. Next my left leg cramped in the same manner. I followed some green in toward the control while walking and was headed there pretty well according to my GPS track. I don't recall it but something pulled me up short and back up to the right. I recall seeing some boulders to my left that did the same but I'm just not sure what I did. I was having trouble relocating but my cramping was stopping. Soon Daniel came through having taken the trail and hill approach. He indicated that I probably stopped too short. I had already gone higher up so once I went forward more, I recognized the ridge that the control was to be on. I quickly found it from there. I felt a bit torn again leaving Daniel behind but there was still a long way to go. I moved fast on the long leg to #21. I don't recall seeing two trails that I was looking to cross but I kept a general bearing on rough compass across the blue berries. In my last previous Highlander, I recalled being in the area with a similar leg. I chose poorly last time so I rounded the large knoll that was west of the control by going around on the right. It meant a stony descent but I did okay. As I got low enough, I noted a large boulder to my right and sure enough, it was mine. I headed to #22 by ignoring the trail options to the left and going somewhat straight. I did get on an indistinct trail at one point and it helped me through the deep blueberries. I spiked the control on a spur and noted other Lowlander runners in the area. Over the ridge to #23, I moved well. I used a reentrant on my left as a handrail and once I got low enough I stopped. I looked around and noticed people to my right. Sure enough, the control was level with where I'd stopped. I dropped down on the way to #24, and eventually found a way across a boulder field where they were narrow. I moved more slowly climbing. I rounded a big cliff feature on the south side of it, then looked for 3 boulders lined-up close together. I'm not sure I saw them but I did see the large boulder that the control turned out to be on. I moved on a little bit renewed from a short descent and found myself with Nikolay Nachev. He indicated that all was well as long as we didn't get passed by Emily Kemp--I didn't know who she was but figured I'd seen her earlier in the course and still behind us. Using a trail, I intended to leave it from a junction that I knew had existed--I'd seen it 2 years ago in my previous Highlander. However it was now too indistinct. I thought I saw it but I was unsure and went past it. I had trouble making sense of the trail bends next and wondered what had gone wrong. Other Lowlander runners were using the trail but I wasn't sure where they were headed. I hesitated a lot but decided to stick it out on the trail. I knew it would make me climb a bit extra and go out of the way too but it should have been safe. I still doubted I was on the right trail for a long while and hesitated even more when another intersection failed to be visible at a distinct trail bend. I left the trail anyway and saw that Nikolay was still coming behind after me. I cut a bit more to the right than I should have while Nikolay went straighter. The blueberries were causing minor cramps again. We both spotted the spur near the control and I got to the reentrant just before Nikolay. Going straight toward control #26, I cut left on the first road a little. It was easier running but I had trouble pinpointing my location. Nikolay was just going on slowly and straight. I eventually did the same but started into a quick shuffle in-between bouts of minor cramping. Soon I was able to run better and left Nikolay. I had trouble making sense of the roads in the open areas but I just kept a bearing and eventually understood them enough to attack the control and spike it. I felt pretty good the rest of the way and had energy to run. I didn't go all out since the spikes in my shoes were starting to hurt my feet when I was on pavement.
I finished 14th and am pleased with it. I think I may have been further back had there not been a training camp the day before that others attended but I'm happy about just being able to run this distance again. The HVO crew really puts on a nice event with so few helpers.
45 situps in a hotel in Mawah, NJ. After errands in the morning, then driving up to New Jersey and eating dinner, there wasn't much time to do anything else, nor would it have been helpful for the Hudson Highlander.
From Northfield Rd. to Old Georgetown Rd. via Greenwich Park, to W. Cedar Ln. to Rockville Pike, to the Bethesda Trolley Trail to Maple Ave. to Old Georgetown Rd. to Huntington Pkwy. to Custer Rd. to Northfield Rd. I got out late again, around 10:45pm. There was a strong warm and humid breeze; probably in the upper 70s F.
From Northfield Rd., through Grenwhich Park to Old Georgetown Pike, to W. Cedar La. to the Elmhirst Trail, to Cedar La. to the Rock Creek Trail, to Beach Dr. to Grosvenor La. to the Bethesda Trolley Trail, to Old Georgetown Rd. and to Northfield Rd. via Grenwich Park. I got out the door at about 10:30pm on a cooler night and a gibbous moon--oddly similar to my last run on this route on July 5th. I've gotten a few more miles under foot since then; tonight was about 10 degrees F cooler (~57 F) and I weigh about 6 pounds lighter. I guess that accounts for being two minutes faster. The moonlight helped me get past a few of the darker areas without having to slow much. I felt stronger on hills too.
From Northfield Rd. to Maple Ave. via the Georgetown Branch Trail with Max in his trailer, then after dropping them off I rode to the Bethesda Metro Station via the Air Rights Building tunnel. It was colder this morning and I wore a jacket.
Bicycling (Commute) 12:21  2.51 mi (4:55 / mi)
From the Bethesda Metro Station, to Maple Ave. to pickup Max's trailer, then to Northfield Rd. via the Air Rights Building tunnel. It was warmer than anticipated. I was riding in the dark a bit.
From the Woodley Park Metro Station, south to the Rock Creek Trail, to Blagden Ave., unammed dirt trails on the west side of Rock Creek to Military Rd., across and uphill parallel to Military to the Western Ridge Trail, to Wise Ave. to Chestnut St., to Winett Rd. to Brennon La., to Thornapple St. to Underwood St. to Connecticut Ave. to Virgilla St. to Meadow Ln. to Oak Ln. to Leeland St. to Willow Ln. to 45th St. to Elm St. to the Capital Crescent Trail, to Woodmont Ave. to the Bethesda Metro Station at Edgemoor La.
I wanted to get a longer run in and was thinking of approaching 2 hours but this was all that I had time for. I wasn't feeling all that up for the run initially. I'd been feeling tired during the day and my left knee was bothersome. I got going and once I got on the Rock Creek Trail I found two guys not far in front of me tempting me to go faster. Fortunately they turned-off. I passed a few other slower runners later with less effort. I was trying to keep it a steady pace. I really enjoyed the dirt trail portions of Rock Creek. The conditions were optimal with dry smooth and visible footing. Climbing along Military Rd. I slowed and struggled a little but I felt good once at the top. Approaching the T-intersection with the Western Ridge Trail there were once again a pair of runners who turned my direction. I found out later that they were Ethiopians. They could have been graduate students or perhaps a bit older. It was hard to understand them with their accents. I'd caught them on the downhilll, not trying to do more than run efficiently. I surprised and perhaps embarassed them. They picked-up the pace upon seeing me but we were mostly running the same speed. As we crossed several dips and climbs it became apparent that they put a lot less effort on climbs than I did. I started falling off the pace at the tops of the hills whereas they kept it steady. They kept me distracted and got me through the hills much faster than I otherwise would have and I was out of the woods just before it got too dark in them. Finishing-up on the streets of Chevy Chase, I felt I was slowing down. In the darkness, I got a bit mixed-up and ended up adding a hill and some more distance. I was pretty happy with this hilly run and have better confidence in my physical strength for the upcoming Highlander.