Chasing 42

Life, the Universe, & Running

Archive for the tag “Brandywine Creek”

Daily Chase: Vol. 77

As much as I claim to hate the heat and humidity, I certainly can’t argue with the fact that it creates quite a lush green landscape in the state parks in the area! Of course, that also means poison ivy at every turn, but as long as you know what you are looking for, you can pretty well avoid it. At times, I feel like I’ve been transported to a lush jungle or northwestern rain forest environment, and it truly adds to the enjoyment of the single track. There is just something special about being able to mentally escape while on a run and focus your energy on the beauty around you. I’m always a bit confused when I see people out on the trails with headphones in their ears, as though they were doing their best to forget they were in the woods in the first place. So, get out there, find your happy place, and enjoy #chasing42, no matter where your single track may take you!

Lums Ponds-1

Lums Pond State Park

Chasing42 Log: 20170619- 20170709

Run: The miles have been relatively consistent over the past few weeks, although the combination of a Laurel Highlands recovery period and hot/humid weather has left my legs a tad bit sluggish. It’s really only been in about the last week that I’ve started to have the same spring in my step that I felt during the comfortable spring months. A solid summer routine has certainly helped push through the heavy legs and keep the summer training moving forward. Here’s a quick snapshot:

Monday- comfortable group run with the Delaware Running Club crew

Tuesday- track workouts at a local high school when I can make it, or tempo miles         around campus

Wednesday- progressive track workout with Delaware Running Club crew (how do you speed people do this all the time!)

Thursday- no drop trail miles at Brandywine Creek State Park

Friday- recovery run, short and easy

Saturday- long trail run, increasing vertical gain

Sunday- mid-distance trail run, more vertical gain

So, the #chasing42streak is still going strong, and a consistent schedule of rolling and interspersed comfortable miles has kept my legs feeling fresh…well, not that I’m starting to acclimate to the heat at least!

BCSP-1

Rainy Mist at Brandywine Creek State Park

Thought: I’ve been thinking more and more about running grit lately, in large part due to the running of the Western States 100 just a few short weeks ago. The conditions are always hot, and the net downhill course definitely creates challenges for many runners. It also increases the likelihood of a mid-race bonk that can feel like the end of the road. Those runners that can truly remember that they’ve been there before, they know they can come out of it, and they are committed to finishing strong are the ones to watch. This was perhaps no better exemplified than by ultrarunning start Kaci Lickteig, who came into this years race with the F1 bib as the returning champion. She went out strong in the early miles, but his a really tough patch where even walking was a challenge. It’s always humbling to hit those points, even after knowing you did everything correctly in training. However, her humility, perseverance, and grit are a large part of what makes her a true champion. She eventually came out of her slump and finished the race, and her experience and the grace she displayed during and afterwards are part of why I love this sport so darn much! You can listen to her fabulous interview on ultrarunnerpodcast.com here for a great reminder of the ups and downs we all face while #chasing42!

Battery Park

Battery Park along the Delaware River 

Daily Chase: Vol. 54

Did you think I forgot about you? Well, I wouldn’t say it was forgetting as much as simply not having enough time 🙂 The training has been picking up over the last two weeks, and I’ve been doing my best to stay on top of everything else going on in my life. I’ll certainly never accuse my life of being boring, and that’s a sign of good decisions as far as I’m concerned! There is simply so much to learn, investigate, and explore in the world…so if you think you are bored, it probably just means you are boring 😉 Now, if that reality check didn’t offend you and scare you off, then read on for some more highlights and updates!

It's nice to have so many choices!

It’s nice to have so many choices!

Chasing42Log: 20160704-20160716

Run: There has been a lot of miles and a lot of exploring going on in the past two weeks and it has made my training all the more enjoyable as I kept the #runstreak going! Here are a few highlights:

I love finding abandoned furnaces and other structures along the trails!

I love finding abandoned furnaces and other structures along the trails!

  1. New access to White Clay Creek: I discovered a trailhead into Middle Run, right next to White Clay State Park, and easily on my way home from work. I started bringing running clothes to work so I could go directly out from work, and it was brilliant! The trails were new, peaceful single-track and I loved wandering around in the woods after work. I haven’t gotten down to WCCSP nearly as much as I would like since Brandywine Creek is closer, but now I can get in a mid-week trail fix!
  2. I still get lost: I was reminded last Saturday that my directionally challenged nature is still quite relevant to my running. I drove out early for the group run, intending to do a quick 50-minute loop that we had done many times before, and be back in time to meet up with everyone else. Unfortunately, I managed to get pretty lost in this endeavor, didn’t make it back in time, and spent the rest of the run on random trails secretly hoping that I’d run into the group. I didn’t, but it was still a relaxing 15-miler with plenty of vertical gain, so I was happy.
  3. More hills: I’m back into full-on vertical gain seeking mode, which means looking for opportunities to squeeze as much climbing into as short amount of time as possible. I found two new options that will work quite well for this task. The Ramsey Hill climb is in Brandywine Creek State Park, and I’ve run by it plenty of time but had never done repeats. I also ventured out to explore the Newark Reservoir, which is only a few minutes from campus, and there is a fantastic hill leading from the parking lot to the water itself, which will make for some great mid-week climbing. I’ve certainly done far more climbing since moving here a little over a year ago, and I am enjoying the added challenge!
  1. Another new park: Last but not least, was my unanticipated discovery of the Carousel Park trails. I showed up to our regular Tuesday track workout but it had been moved and I didn’t see the email. I didn’t have time to get over to the other track so I went exploring and stumbled across yet another park and system of trails I didn’t know existed. Bonus!

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Thought: I finally quite waffling and registered for the Grindstone 100! I knew I needed a key fall race to really focus my training, but I was hesitate for reasons I don’t entirely understand. However, now that it’s a go, I couldn’t be more excited! It is supposed to be a fantastic race with some serious climbing, and it even starts at 6PM, so I’ll be running through the night when I’m awake and alert- score! It will certainly be a challenge, and I’ll be hitting the hill repeats and ramping up the mileage as the summer goes on, but I can’t wait for October 7th. My mind is ready for the challenge, and now it’s time to make sure my body is ready- time to keep #chasing42!

Run Report: Brandywine End to End

Sometimes you seek out adventures and sometimes they seek you out. The Brandywine End to End was definitely the latter, and it turned into quite the memorable experience! Several months ago, a friend mentioned the event and invited me along. Frank had run the 36 miles on several previous locations and spoke very highly of the event itself, so it didn’t take much convincing. I’m always up for a new event, especially when I get a chance to join a friend for some quality trail miles. Mother Nature might not have been feeling charitable on this particular morning, but it was still a blast!

The Wilmington Trail Club has been organizing the Brandywine End to End 36-Mile hike for 55 years, so there is no shortage of history associated with this event. For most folks, this is an all-day event and a chance for a rather long day-hike from the north in PA down along the Brandywine Creek to the state park in Delaware. I’m not sure how long folks have also been running the course but I’m guessing there have been a few intrepid souls tackling it at a bit of a faster clip for some years. The fee was quite low, and the group provided t-shirts and aid stations, so it had all the makings of an inexpensive ultra race and a pleasant morning. The forecast had been predicting rain and snow all week, but the percentages kept fluctuating, so I was hopeful that the storm system might miss us a bit. Alas, it did not.

My 3:30 alarm caused some brief disorientation, as it always does on race days, but I managed to get myself up and quietly moving pretty quickly. I packed my Solomon pack the night before, and actually managed to lay out my clothes, so getting ready involved minimal mental effort. We had to be at Brandywine Creek State Park by 5:00AM at the latest in order to catch a bus to the start. I made it in plenty of time, checked in and grabbed my number and a map/list of directions before climbing onto the bus. The hour drive was mostly in the dark at this point, so I never really had a good sense of where we were going, but then again, I’d be running back on foot so it didn’t really matter! We arrived at the start, otherwise known as a random dirt road, around 6:00AM, and everyone piled out of the bus and lingered for a bit before we unceremoniously began our journey.

Aside from Frank and I, I noticed two other runners jumping out to the front of the pack. We ran alongside another woman for a few minutes before our pace found us ahead of her. The other runner was already out of sight and he was clearly on his own mission! This wasn’t a race by any means, and we were treating it much more as an adventure, with aid stations every 10-12 miles or so. The first few miles were mainly on side roads until we hopped onto the Brandywine Trail and began following the white blazes. The temps were cool and in the high 30s, and we had yet to feel the impending precipitation, but it was only a matter of time. We enjoyed some nice single-track for a bit as we ran through Marsh Creek State Park and along the reservoir. From there, we picked up the Struble Trail, which runs along the Brandywine Trail, and served as a nicely paved bike trail. We began to feel some slight precipitation, but nothing significant, and I began to naively hope that was all we’d experience. We hit the first aid station around mile 13, just north of town, and they were happy to see us. We learned we were about 20 minutes back of the speedster we saw at the start, not that we had any notion of trying to catch him.

We headed out after a quick fuel-up, and this paved section led us into Downingtown, PA and we picked up some more single-track south of town as we continued our journey. The trail itself is by no means technical, and with 2218 ft of gain, and a net downhill, we were free to enjoy ourselves. That’s not so say that we didn’t find some steep climbs, however, and they served to break up our pace and routine nicely. We made our way south, continuing to make sure we didn’t miss the white blazes (by “we”, I mean me, of course!), and eventually hit the Stroud Preserve, which offered some nice trails and more open landscape. We had been running for around 3 hours at this point, and that’s when the rain/sleet/snow began to rear its ugly head. The winds were calm, but the temps were just warm enough that it became a constant fluctuation between rain, sleet, and snow. I was starting to get a bit chilled, but happy I decided to opt for tights instead of shorts. We arrived at the second aid station (mile 23) and they had strategically set up shop under a small bridge, which offered some welcome cover. We topped off on fluid, enjoyed a few Oreos and were on our way before we got too cold standing around. I pulled out my waterproof mittens at this point, although I probably should have done so sooner since my gloves were pretty darn wet by this point.

Conditions got sloppy and muddy quickly!

Conditions got sloppy and muddy quickly!

We hopped back on the trail and were treated to a nice climb up a ridge line, which afforded us some decent views of the surrounding area. This transitioned to some more road-running, which was made all the more uncomfortable by the oncoming traffic and wet weather. By this time, the snow was coming down in wet clumps and I was brushing it off of myself every few minutes to prevent it from soaking in at least a little bit. We made our way to Chadds Ford, PA and hopped back onto trails that were familiar to me as Frank had led us out on a longer run along this section a few weeks prior. It was nice to see some familiar scenery and have a sense of where we were and how far we had to go. We crossed the state line on the normally nice single track trails, which were now a sloppy, muddy, slushy mess and headed for the last aid station. We stayed even more briefly as it became clear that moving to stay warm was the name of the game. I have to hand it to the volunteers that toughed it out at these aid stations- it couldn’t have been a comfortable experience, especially considering we were a few hours ahead of the closest hikers at this point. Major props for their effort and organization!

This was an April event, I promise!

This was an April event, I promise!

The final section led back into the north end of Brandywine Creek State Park, and the trails were messy but familiar. We came up on a few hikers, but most folks had enough sense not to bother spending any time out in this weather! We reached the damn and headed onto the last mile of single-track leading up to the park shelter and it brought yet another smile to my face. We stomped and slopped our way up the final hill where a few folks were waiting for us under one of the park shelters, and took a deep breath. The conditions had been far from ideal, our feet were soaked and cold, and the rest of us wasn’t much better, but there was still plenty of reason to smile for a great morning of challenging trail running. I couldn’t have been more happy that Frank had invited me along, and the experience definitely embodied what #chasing42 is all about. We paused briefly to take a few pictures, thank the volunteers, grab and snack, and then we eagerly headed to our cars to turn on the heat and begin thawing. I’m pretty sure it took my feet the rest of the afternoon to warm up, but it’s all part of the adventure!

Wet and muddy trail shoes = happy runner!

Wet and muddy trail shoes = happy runner!

 

 

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