I've picked up some awesome new gear recently that I'd highly recommend for my fellow crazy people out there.
For Christmas, my parents got me the National Parks Explorer Southern Appalachian Mountains edition: http://www.natgeomaps.com/southern_appalachian_explorer.html. For a bunch of nationals parks, National Geographic has built software that maps out all the trails in the park.
I was pretty excited about getting this, and man is it awesome! It has every trail and lets you easily map out routes just by pointing and clicking. It tells you the exact distance as well as the elevation gain. I used it to map out the Cat 8 route before heading out there. The map it produced is below (it is actually a really high quality map, but I couldn't figure out how to get a high res version in the blog).
This will really be helpful for exploring new areas out in the Massanattuns. I've already mapped out two routes for a Saturday/Sunday weekend camping trip (Jen and Eve will be thrilled about this I'm sure).
This last week I picked up a few other items. A lot of people have been talking about using compression gear to speed recovery. I decided to get a pair of compression calf sleeves: http://www.zensah.com/compression-leg-sleeves.html. They also make compression tights, but I figured I'd take a smaller leap into this silly looking gear. So far I really like them. Jen makes fun of me a lot, but they really do seem to speed recovery. I've been wearing them after long runs and tough workouts, and I do think I feel better the next day.
Will all this snow, I also bought a pair of Yaktrax: http://www.yaktrax.com/ProductsPro.aspx. They're basically like tire chains for your shoes. I tried them out during 4 trail miles of my 26 mile run yesterday. They worked really well! I was tearing through that snowy, icy trail. The only problem is that running with them on roads ruins them, so if you're switching terrain (which I do a lot), you have to take them on and off.
Lastly, when I placed my order online at ZombieRunner, I decided to try Clif Shot Roks, their newest product: http://www.clifbar.com/food/products_shot_roks/. They are similar to Clif Shot Bloks but have more protein and fat , which means they should be perfectly suited to ultrarunning. I haven't tried them yet but look forward to it.
In other news, DC is finally starting to thaw out. Yesterday was in the low/mid 40s, and today hit 50. I ran about a marathon yesterday and tagged on another 16 today. The marathon went pretty well. I did the 4 miles with the Yaktrax early on in the run, which was exhausting! The snow was still really deep on the trails, so I knew I couldn't do too much snow running if I actually wanted to make it 26 miles. After that I hit the roads and explored some new areas, which was fun.
Today it hit 50 degrees, and a lot of the snow had already melted. I felt really fresh and not sore at all, which is great considering the tough run yesterday. I ran pretty fast and was grinning ear to ear running in the beautiful warm weather. These last few weeks of running in the snow and ice has been tough, but I think I'm in better shape for it.
Next weekend I'll be skiing with Dad out in Jackson Hole. Then the following weekend I have the Seneca Greenway 50K, which I'm looking forward to it.
Happy trails everybody!