The Streak, Modified

Back when I was training for marathons, I would occasionally take part in the Runner’s World Run Streak. The premise is simple: Run at least one mile every day between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. It was a great motivator for me when the busyness of holiday life (and in Maine, the crappiness of weather) conspired to suck the mileage from my running log.

This has been a down year for both running and hiking. I established an expected minimum combined running+hiking mileage total for the year back in January (not a resolution; a GOAL) and, thanks to packing and moving to Virginia, have fallen way off the mark. Well, the chances of my hitting that target are practically non-existent, but I’m thinking maybe participating in the RW Streak would be a nice way to end the year and give positive momentum to the start of 2018.

But I may have to tweak the purity of the running streak a bit, as hiking definitely figures into my plans over the next six weeks. The way I see it, I have three options: One, I can simply run a mile while I’m on the trail for a hike. I have a few thousand miles of trail running experience, and my daypack typically only weighs ten or eleven pounds, so that wouldn’t tax me too badly. I also tend to hike wearing my Garmin running watch, so I could actually time an exact mile and have access to pace, elevation gain, etc. Two, I could simply run a mile around the subdivision before I head out for my hikes. I won’t work up much of a sweat in November and December doing that, and it would fulfill the requirement. Or three, I could simply adhere to the spirit (and not the letter) of the streak’s rules and count my hiking days as “running” days. I am now keeping a training log with combined running/hiking miles, so that would fit my own personal narrative.

I have a week to decide. But I do plan on attempting The Streak regardless of which plan I choose to follow. And I’m determined not to give up my chances to hit the AT before the snow flies for a running-only streak…



I’m Becoming Too Weight Conscious

Not my body weight, mind you, though I’ve managed to get a head start on winter weight gain by virtue of some questionable food choices. I’m talking about gear weight. I’ll never be a gram counter (at least I don’t think so), but weight is beginning to influence my potential future gear choices to a strong degree.

Take, for example, my seemingly endless quest for the “right” multi-day pack. My initial list of wants did mention weight, but very near the bottom, just before “integrated sternum strap whistle.” Seriously, it was a consideration, but other things, like an integrated rain cover interested me more.

But with reading comes education, and as I continued to pore over every site backpacking related, I discovered that carrying more than 20% of my body weight on my back while schlepping along wooded trails didn’t really appeal to me. Granted, the stuff I’ve already bought can’t be changed (for now), but I’m still in a position to save weight on a bear-proof food container, stove and backpack. Those are the three main items left on my “expedition” gear list. The first one is easy. Ursack. No way I’m carrying a canister unless the area in which I find myself requires one. Stove? Well, for hikes of three days or less, I’ll probably not carry one. As one of the world’s least picky eaters, I can survive a few days without a hot meal. When I do carry a stove, I’m leaning towards the Solo Lite. As a primarily AT-bound hiker, fuel for that will be pretty much everywhere. Of course, I may hate it when I try it, but hey…I’m a total newbie, which practically requires mistakes to be made in the interest of gaining knowledge.

Then the pack. *Sigh* Anyone who has graced this site has read my back-and-forth battle with choosing a pack. I’m getting closer, and one of the key considerations for me now is weight (after capacity, of course). Being more weight-conscious has eliminated several great packs from my list. The other day I was in REI with my son-in-law looking at bags, and we fitted him for an Osprey Atmos AG 50. He pranced around the store with about fifteen extra pounds of sand on board, and just loved it. I did too, until I saw visions of Gossamer Gear Mariposas and Granite Gear Crown2s dancing in my head. Then it felt like steel in the hand. At four pounds, it’s not a heavyweight by any stretch, especially when compared to one of my other considered options, the Deuter Futura Vario Pro 50+10, which weighs ten ounces more than the Osprey. But when stacked against the two pound, five ounce Crown2, it’s flat-out heavy…er. I’m learning that two extra pounds (give or take) is a whole lot of weight on my back. Especially if my back is going to be dealing with PUDs in Virginia for days and days on end.

So while he, thirty years younger and much bigger than I, may ultimately choose an Atmos, I’m still wrestling with the lighter weight choices.

Oh, did I mention the ULA Circuit?

The Youngest And The Oldest. In The Same Year

Nine year-old Christian Thomas completed the final leg of hiking’s famed Triple Crown, becoming the youngest to conquer the three American long trails by finishing the last 1,200 miles of the Continental Divide Trail on September 18th. On October 26th, Dale “Grey Beard” Sanders became the oldest person to finish a thru-hike of the AT at 82 years of age.

I’m amazed by both for the same reason: I couldn’t imagine doing either one.

Christian started his Triple Crown journey when he was five. Five! When I was five, I was trying to master riding a bike without training wheels and starting a baseball card collection. He was hammering up and down mountains with his parents on the AT. Unreal.

On the other end of the age spectrum, Dale was doing the same hammering with an 82 year-old body that did, at times, slow him down but could not stop him. I cannot imagine that, twenty-eight years from now, I’ll be all on fire to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. Assuming I live that long, of course. Again, unreal.

The key component they shared was the belief that they could accomplish their respective goals. Self-confidence mixed with a healthy dose of determination will get you through many a difficulty on a long hike.

And yes, in life as well.

Congratulations to both on their remarkable achievements. Happy hiking!