Friday, June 27, 2014

"Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do...."

I outed myself on Facebook this morning (although Dave knew before that of course) so I guess it's time to come clean here as well.

I've set my sights on the 2015 Susquehanna Super Hike (SSH). I feel the need to explain myself if for no other reason than to see my thoughts in print to make sure they make sense. Of course now that I've said  it out loud it kinda doesn't matter if it makes sense. I have to try regardless. *shrug*

Why is admitting it a thing? I set the goal back in mid-May but I was hesitant to say anything out loud because in the year preceding that, I  had a lot of starts and stops. After having to give up on the Bob Potts Marathon in May 2013, and the three months it took to get cleared to work out again, I just couldn't seem to keep any fitness routine together. I know that's only embarrassing to me but it is (was). So my plan for the Super Hike was to hike my heart out this summer, see how it went, and then go public with my goal.

So what broke me? Well, I started officially training Memorial Day weekend and I'm up to a 4 hour hike set for tomorrow. I'm feeling really good. Like really really good. So I posted to Misery Loves Company this morning.
"So trail RUNNERS... I have a serious question and you cannot offend me with your answers. I really want to know. Aside from the Susquehanna Super Hike which has HIKE in its name, How do trail RUNNERS feel about hikers in a trail running event that has a time limit that works for the hiker. This group (MLC) is so freaking friendly (and inclusive) that I think the answer is yes .And then I wonder if you can possibly be representative of the whole trail running culture. Thank you."
Their responses were more than supportive. The gist of the many responses was that many trail runners do hike or walk part of the courses anyway especially at longer distances. When you look at it that way, as long as I respect the trail and the other participants no one is going to care or be bothered by me.

I didn't post this morning with intention of announcing my goal. I was just curious because recently I've become aware of some trail running events that have time limits that (based on my current hiking pace) I could manage to finish as a hiker and I wondered if I should consider some of them as practice for the Super Hike. And then someone mentioned their own goal of the Super Hike in the conversation and I spilled the beans. It just felt like the right time.

Why not the 2014 hike? Start with the observation about starts and stops above. I need some confidence still. My goal is always to finish an event. I want to finish this one standing up! At least until I cross the finish line. :) I've got a plan and it has three parts. Pause while you roll your eyes, smile or outright laugh. It's ok with me. I'm secure in my dork-ness. ;) Plus I know I can't possibly be the only obsessive compulsive training planner.

Part I: Build up my physical and mental endurance. I think the mental is just as, if not more important, of the two. The Super Hike has two distance options: 23.4 or 29.6 miles. On flat ground (which it decidedly is not) I'd need close to 10 hours to finish either distance. That's a long time to be out on the trail. I started out at a 2 hour hike/walk at Heinz Refuge on Memorial Day weekend and I'm working up to a 10 hour hike on October 25th. October 25th is the last day of DST. During this time I also have to figure out what I need to eat and drink to keep moving and smiling that long (or longer).

I will be volunteering at SSH 2014 this year and when asked where I'd like to volunteer I asked for the finish line so I can see what it looks like to finish.

Part II: Strength building. Climb and descend everything I can get my feet on.
"This daunting trail challenge event on the Mason Dixon and Conestoga Trails alternates breathtaking vistas with steep descents into dark, scenic hollows followed by strenuous climbs to the next vista. Prepare yourself for the steep hills, rocky terrain and deep ravines of the Susquehanna Super Hike, an arduous, undulating and challenging course." - Super Hike Description from the KTA website. 
I am taking that statement very seriously. I will look to the Misery Loves Company group to tell me where to go to get elevation. I'm not shying away from hills right now but my focus is on hours. During winter it will be on elevation. Especially the descents. My Garmin tells me that I slow down on descents. I'm afraid of falling and I have to get over that.

Part III; Goal training. A schedule to get ready for Super Hike day. Part I of the plan is based in hours. Part III will be based on miles. And several trips to the SSH trails will be part of that.

So far I am having a blast. It helps I suppose that every weekend this summer has been gorgeous but it's more than that. Hiking and walking have always been fun for me. Running was kind of an accident really. When I decided to walk the Philadelphia Marathon in 2008 I joined a running group because I was afraid of being picked up by the SAG truck. Finishing last was ok with me but not finishing before time expired was not. So I joined the running group and ended up running 75% of the marathon. Then I got hooked on the people in the group - not so much the running.

I joined MLC because I love trails. Running them just wasn't doing much for me. But when I'm hiking them I can't seem to get enough.

So here I am off on another adventure. Thanks for reading.

Keep Smiling and Keep Moving.


  1. I think your goal and training plans make total sense. Leslie Howlett, who recently won the Bryce 100, said her biggest piece of advice for people interested in ultra distances was to give their body TIME-- she specifically said "years"-- to build up the distance. Makes total sense for hikers, too. Setting your goal for 2015 instead of this year is a great plan.