Saturday, March 16, 2019

Things, Stuff, and Canicross

A lot has happened since my last post: Our girls' cross country team won the state championship, I registered for the MDI Marathon this October, ran a bunch of races, ranging from 5ks to half-marathons (and doing quite well), and have been strategically creeping my weekly mileage up to the 40s for now, while maintaining bread and butter workouts from intervals to long runs.

Epic Finale 5K

Being more open to road running is one of the smartest things I have done in a while. It allows for more options, being able to track consistent splits is super valuable for getting faster, and there are more races available. Sure, trails are more fun, and somewhat easier on the body, but doing both just gives more options, and I'm enjoying feeling fast again for the first time in years. One should never underestimate consistent leg turnover if they are serious about gaining speed.

Another dimension I've added to my running is canicross, which is a cool sounding word that basically means running with your dog. We adopted Moxie, a greyhound/pitbull mix, last December. She is a natural runner, and goes bonkers when she realizes we're about to do a run together. I bought a basic hands-free leash set-up a few months ago, and just upgraded to a true, racing set-up which should be arriving soon. We'll be competing in the Pineland Canicross this May, and expect to do well there.

Moxie during a water break.
I can't express how much fun it is taking her out on the local logging roads. She just loves it so much and it's great to have some enthusiastic company out in the woods. I've taught her some running commands and she is super-focused for the most part. She knows "sow ahead", which really sounds like a quick sue-head... adopted from my wild boar hunting days, using dogs. That command has two-purposes: Get back out in front or go faster.  She also knows "haw" (left) and "gee" (right). A simple "easy" to slow down... we're working on that that one. She doesn't like to slow down.

Moxie on the run
Our other dog, Hagrid, is less enthusiastic about running, but enjoys the occasional 2-3 mile jaunt with Kate. The beagle and hound in him comes out and his nose is often right on the ground, picking up the scents of various woodland creatures and overcome by a desire to track them down. That's fine, he's just doing what he's genetically programmed to do, but one has to expect quite a few sniff breaks when taking him out for a run. Moxie... she just goes.

Hagrid and Moxie
It's great that the dogs and doing more racing have breathed new life in my running. Frankly, prior to all of that, running has felt a bit stale. No more. I've met many awesome new folks at local races, been enjoying the quicker turnover in my legs, and of course and having a blast with Moxie out on the logging roads and trails. Coaching again has also been a huge contributor. If you're surrounded daily by young, fast enthusiastic runners, I dare you not to be affected by it. Doing the workouts with them is a win-win and a lot of fun... and it's nice to know that even though I'm in my mid-forties, I would still make varsity.

Looking forward to warmer temps ahead!

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Running is Becoming Fun Again

I've taken most of the past week off (around 12 miles of running) to speed up recovery from the most annoying head cold I've ever had. It seems to have worked.

In that time, it's been a busy week, going into the weekend. Yesterday, our cross country team had a meet up in Presque Isle. We got back around 8pm last night, then it was get home, get to bed, then wake up early to meet up with the team again to volunteer at the Mt. Desert Island Marathon. Hagrid came along and provided lots of smiles for everyone.

This marathon holds a very special place in my heart. It was my first marathon. It was (and still is) my fastest marathon. I've run it seven times total and had a great time each time... even that one year I had stomach issues and had a disappointing performance.

The last time I was there in any capacity was when I ran it last in 2012 and PR'd with a time of 3:07:58. Being back there today at a water station and then a trip over to the finish and seeing the runners out there busting their tailss, smiling, having fun, and soaking in an electric, positive atmosphere fueled a desire... I can't wait to run it next year.

Sunday, October 07, 2018


Just three weeks and I have a string of races to knock out. The first being a six mile trail race followed by an eight mile trail race the following weekend. Then, the weekend after that, a half marathon (on logging roads).

I did the eight mile trail race last year, but ran it out of shape and used it as a training run. My time was crazy slow. Looking forward to seeing how much I can beat the time by.

But for all of them, it'll be let's truly race these and see what I can do. It'll be fun, and they'll serve as a great building blocks as I work back up to being relatively speedy.

I'm registered for the Millinocket Marathon but am now strongly leaning towards knocking down to the half marathon. Just not there yet. Better to race something well and comfortably then struggle and get discouraged.

Monday, October 01, 2018

The Dry Cough From Hell

Still battling this drive cough. Yesterday morning, I set out for 14 miles on the logging roads at a moderate pace. Legs were definitely up for the task, but the frequent interruption of coughing fits, a handful of which I had to stop for, set me back and my splits were all over the place. To top it off, my stomach was a bit upset, requiring a few other unwanted pit stops. I only resulted in 8:18/mile when I probably would have been :30/mile faster otherwise.

It's an unproductive dry cough, the lovely remnant of a sore throat. It's coming up on two weeks now since it first onset. I'm quite annoyed... quite annoyed indeed.

Doing research, I read a lot of great things about Throat Coat tea and honey for this kind of thing. Low and behold, it turns out we had a brand new box of it in our extensive tea stash. I drank several cups yesterday afternoon, and for the first time in a week a half, without any Nyquil I slept through the night without waking up in a coughing fit. Psychosomatic or not, I'll take it. We'll see how I feel during my run later today.

On a different note, I managed in the upper 30s for mileage last week, including quality speed work. I'm quite happy to get at least into the mid-30s, which is what I've been doing on average for the past month. It fits my plans for now and I'm looking forward to racing later this month while being in somewhat decent shape.... first time that's happened in a long while.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The Need For Speed

I'm over the sore throat from hell, for the most part. Paced the interval workout for one of the groups on our cross country team which meant four miles at around 6:00/mile pace, not including breaks between reps. While running, I was fine. When we stopped, coughing fits... not coughing up anything though. Just a battle-scarred throat that is aggravated by dry air and it triggered the coughing.

I'm really enjoying the prospect of working on speed again. After focusing on longer and slower for the past several years, it's nice to focus on getting that pop back again... as much as my 46 year old body will allow. Regardless, fun is fun. I'm looking forward to a few trail races next month as well as some road stuff that is yet to be determined. Bring it on.

Monday, September 24, 2018


Total jinx. It was actually starting to develop during the time I wrote my last post, but a full blown head cold has knocked me on my butt and I was forced to take three days off. There's the saying that if it's neck up, lace up. Most of the time, that's probably true, but not in this case. It was too bad also, since last week was off to a great start before I had to pull the plug.

The main culprit was an extremely sore throat that is resulting in coughing fits. The good news is, I appear to be over the hump. I did a test run yesterday that went okay, and I followed that up with a hike up Lead Mountain with Hagrid.

Will play the days ahead by ear, and hopefully I can do some speed work on Tuesday. Perhaps I merely got the bug out of the way early in the year. Onward.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Deep Thoughts by J. Andy

What a great past month. My new job is a perfect fit. My coaching gig is amazing. And my running... good God man, it's going great. I often get to run with the cross country team, which is a symbiotic relationship for which I am grateful.

As a result, my legs are starting to show signs of "pop" that were long absent due to either making little time to run or, when I did make time, I focused primarily on distance. I'm actually feeling comfortable about doing some shorter road and trail races coming up here in the next few months. Yeah, that's right, road races. Sure, I prefer trails, always have, but it seems stupid as hell to not take advantage of what is more readily available. Fun is fun.