Friday, February 29, 2008

Updated Race Schedule

Resting today and probably tomorrow also for the 50K run we're doing on Sunday. Good time to update my race schedule for the rest of the year and jot down some thoughts, since I just registered for a few more.

March 2 - Trail Monster Fat Ass 50K - More of a glorified training run amongst friends. Will be interesting given the snow storm that's supposed to hit tomorrow (yup, another one).

April 12 - Bear Mountain 50-miler - this will be fun for nostalgic reasons, as I used to live very close-by and my mother's side of the family has firm roots in Peekskill across the river from where the race is being held. I'm a bit nervous as North Face is putting on this race as part of a series, and there were several reports of big problems last year for the series, related to bad race management. I'm hoping the corporate giant learned a few lessons this time around.

May 25 - Pineland Farms 50-miler* - No worries about race management with this one. Top notch in every aspect. Unfortunately, I'm not sure if I'll be running it. May opt to concentrate on training rather than risk temptation to "race" this one relatively close to Western States, which I want to do well at. Goal should be to put hay in the barn around this time, not burn it. Will see how I recover from Bear Mountain before deciding. There are 50k and 25k options available, but an admittedly stupid all-or-nothing mentality is preventing me from considering those at the moment.

June 28-29 - Western States 100 - The big show. By far the biggest race on my agenda and I have a great crew assembled for it. Stephen has graciously offered to fly out and pace me. My father and brother will be helping me crew again, and they did a fantastic job last year when helping me with the Vermont 100. Also helping crew will be my friend Brooke who lives in the area and is a Reiki Master. A-Team for sure.

July 19-20 - Vermont 100 - Expectations are somewhat low since this is just three weeks after WS. It'll be fun though, and that's all that matters. Many do WS and then VT every year (though last year there were four weeks between the two races). I'm confident I can do it and finish. I'll just be slower.

October 19 - Mt. Desert Island Marathon - I've vowed to do this race every year. It's beautiful, fun and very well organized. Good amount of time to recover and concentrate more on speed work leading up to this one.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Making Lemonade Out of Lemons

The snow banks along the roads now resemble a city skyline, making running on the roads after work a bit treacherous in the town I teach in. Thank goodness we averted having a snowday the other day, unlike this poor woman a few hours to my north.

Came up with a plan to avoid the town's roads altogether by running a 1.15 mile figure eight loop ten times that went around the high school and the adjacent junior high school. A bit boring, but better than missing a run altogether and it was quite nice not having to worry about traffic one bit. Just moseyed along and allowed the mind to wander.

Ran 11.5 miles @ 8:19/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 143/152
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Lower 20s, partly cloudy.
Long pants, fleece jacket, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt, refl. vest, beanie, gloves.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Hit the elliptical and stat bike as the latest storm starts to move in. Goal was a light workout, with emphasis on light.

Elliptical - 5.4 miles in 30 minutes.
Random hills.
Level 10, to 7, to 10.
AHR - 141

Stationary bike - ??? miles in 15 minutes.
Hill climb.
Level 6
AHR - ~118 (forgot to hit stop afterwards, data skewed).

Monday, February 25, 2008

Hittin' the Hills

Another warm day today, which was welcome on the first day back from winter break. I was anxious to get out today, and once again was very tempted to tack on more miles, but I stuck with my plan. Something that helped do this is the Fat Ass 50K us Trail Monsters are running this weekend at Bradbury Mountain. We'll be running a 10.6 mile loop three times, and it's guaranteed to be a lot of fun. See Ian's blog for more details if you're in the area and are interested in joining us for even part of the run.

Nice enough weather to run with the Moeben sleeves I own. Though a cold snap is ahead after the next snow storm (starting tomorrow), spring is right around the corner, and I'll have more chances to wear these bad boys. Nice in that their versatile in that you can peel them right off and stick them in your pocket if you get warm. The gel pocket is also nice. Great piece of gear. And I'll admit it, I think they also look pretty darn cool (mine are camo).

Back to my run... went well for the most part. Calves felt tight on the initial ascent. Took my legs about four or five miles until they felt warmed up, but after that I was coasting. Unfortunately, it was time to start heading back around that time. At least this was one doozy of a hill run. Good hills that take advantage of the back roads near the school I teach at.

Cough is improving significantly. I suspect it'll be gone in just a few more days.

Ran 7.7 miles @ 8:04/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 151/166
Paved roads.
Extremely hilly.
40 degrees, partly cloudy.
Long pants, short sleeved shirt, Moeben sleeves, beanie.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Avoiding Temptation

Intense rays of sunshine, unabated by not even the slightest trace of clouds, bounce brightly off the white snow banks as they reach the earth, seemingly magnifying the warmth of an already brilliant afternoon. I am tempted to run further, but I don't. Instead, I stick to my plan of easing back into my mileage after battling another round with a nasty cold virus. Life can be cruel.

Ran 8.6 miles @ 8:12/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 149/165
Paved and dirt roads, patches of slush.
Very hilly.
Mid to upper 30s. Sunny.
Long pants, two long sleeved shirts, short sleeved shirt, refl. vest.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Moooo-ving Along

Felt that I was recovered enough from my cough to go for a run today. Felt good to do so, but at the same time going any further could have been pushing it. Nice day also with sunny skies and just a light wind. Roads were in okay shape. We got another 5" of snow yesterday evening, and the shoulders were pretty slushy and narrow in spots, but overall not bad.

I took the back roads up the ridge to get in some hills and also avoid traffic. On the way up, I saw a guy walking two young cows wearing a double yoke alongside the road. I stopped and talked with him a bit. Turns out he was getting them out for some exercise. I didn't ask, but I presume it's because of the amount of snow cover and their younger, shorter legs made it difficult for them to move around.

Reached the three mile mark and turned around and went back the way I came. I picked up the pace in the last mile, hitting that split in 7:00. It felt smooth and effortless, which was good.

Overall, the HR was pretty high. Probably best to ease back into things a bit here and not try to be a hero.

Ran 6.1 miles @ 7:39/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 160/179
Paved roads with patches of slush.
Very hilly.
30 degrees, sunny.
Long pants, fleece jacket, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt, refl. vest, beanie, gloves (on and off)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Spirit of the Marathon - My Long Winded Review

A fine evening, as I joined Ian, Stephen and three of his co-workers for dinner and drinks at the Sea Dog Brewery in Topsham before seeing the documentary, "Spirit of the Marathon". Mindy was also there, but unfortunately, we didn't see her until afterwards.

I should mention that there are some spoilers below.

In short... not bad. Not great, but not bad.

Let me unpack that a little. The movie started out... well, hard to say because the audio cut out for several minutes in the beginning. I ran out to notify the theater folks of the problem and asked if they could restart it and they said no to that (and rather rudely, I might add). I retorted that they should at least offer refunds, and to their credit they did give out free movie passes to everyone after the movie was over.

Anywho, the movie was very well produced. A far cry from the lower budget documentaries on ultramarathons that I've grown accustomed to. The movie features six or so different runners of varying abilities: Two elite athletes (Deena Kastor and Daniel Njenga), a guy who was a bit better than a middle of the packer and his wife, a girl who was not quite a middle packer, and a few back of the packers.

That's a great mix, covering the spectrum nicely and increasing the chances of the audience (runners and non-runners alike) being able to relate to at least one of them in some capacity. However, the execution was a bit off the mark. For example, the guy who was a bit better than a middle of the packer was around my age, and had just missed qualifying for Boston in a previous attempt. The Chicago marathon was going to be where he would BQ, and then low and behold, he's having knee problems and is diagnosed with a torn meniscus. Gee, sounds very, very familiar. Unfortunately, that was it and not even midway through the movie, he all but disappeared , only to reappear towards the end to root his wife on as she ran the race. Well, did he have the surgery? Was it hard watching his wife continue to train when he couldn't? It really disrupted the flow.

But maybe that was just me since I really could relate to that guy. However, I got to thinking that they also really didn't get as personal with the other runners as they could have. I would have liked to have seen more glimpses into their lives and gotten to know them better. That would have gone a long way in making me want to root them on more. One running documentary that did this really well was Running on the Sun (Netflix has it). It was a shame because the potential seemed to be there to do so with this movie, especially since they chose a seemingly great group of folks. I'd grade that aspect a C-.

One thing I appreciated was how they explained the history of marathoning and how it has come to be what it is today. I learned a lot from it actually, and it really made me appreciate those who paved the way for how things are now. They earned an A on that front.

I think someone who hasn't done a marathon before but is thinking about it would really appreciate this movie. They'll get a better sense of what's involved and further see the rewards. The movie seemed more targeted for that demographic, which is great. But I think audiences would get more out of it if they dug in a little deeper with the characters.

Overall grade: C+

Just my two cents...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Test Run

After continuing to feel the cold that has resurfaced and also barfing up my dinner last night, today's run was obviously in question. Just want to make it clear that I'm not fishing for sympathy here (though the comments from yesterday are appreciated), just documenting! Being frustrated with this nagging cold, I did my best to stick it to the man by doing the following last night and this morning:

- Ate lots of candied ginger (for stomach)
- Increased fluid intake (ginger ale)
- Increasing vitamin C (lots of orange juice)
- Ate two cloves of raw garlic (good thing I'm off all of this week for winter break)
- Taking DayQuil liquid caps
- Taking Ibuprofen
- Continuous sipping of hot water and mint tea (to kill bacteria in mouth and throat, mint tea also for the stomach)

The one thing I can do better on is probably the most important: REST. I had decided to do just that today until there was a knock on my door. It was UPS, and they delivered the new strap for my HR monitor. Yippee!

So, I compromised. Just a short run today. The fresh air might do me some good, right? If I go slow I won't stress my body too much, right? And the HR data might give me a better sense of how this cold is affecting my body, right?


Ran 3.0 miles @ 8:18/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 143/159 (better than I expected, but still a little high)
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 20s, very windy, sunny.
Long pants, fleece jacket, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Ocean Run

I had a dentist appointment this morning down in Kennebunk, so I decided to take advantage of the area for a run since the snow totals are less along the immediate coast (meaning more room on the roads), and plus running near the ocean would be nice. Beautiful day out today also, with sunny skies and temperatures around 40 degrees. It felt tropical.

First point of interest was Parson's Beach, where I go often in the summer for striper fishing or just to enjoy the beach. I stopped and watched the waves for a few minutes before heading back up Rt. 9 to the other beaches closer to downtown. Definitely a lot of fun watching the waves crash on the rocks as I was trotting along.

Just as the road turned away from the shore, it crosses over a tidal river where the sound of a common loon stopped me in my tracks. I stopped to admire two of them in the water, noting their winter plumage. One of them was pretty proficient at catching fish. Twice I saw him dive under and come up with a pretty good sized meal that took him a while to gobble down. Worth noting several dozen mallard ducks also shared the water with the loons.

Another cool sighting as I neared the end of my run as I saw about three dozen wild turkeys in someone's yard. Just about every one of them was huge. One healthy looking gaggle, for sure.

Run felt pretty good. I say pretty good because I noticed a cold coming on yesterday, but I feel somewhat better today. Hopefully this one won't last as long as the one I had last month.

Ran 12.4 miles @ 8:08/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - N/A (new strap coming by the end of the week, woohoo!)
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Around 40 degrees. Partly to mostly cloudy.
Long pants, long sleeves shirt, short sleeved shirt.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Carter Dome Mountain

I met up with my friend Natasha for a great day of hiking. Plan was to hike up Carter Dome Mountain, and also take it easy with no worries about speed. Just enjoy the day. And what a fine day it was.

We started off on the 19-Mile Brook Trail and it wasn't long before we covered the 1.9 miles to the Carter Dome Trail. Natasha is an accomplished adventure racer, so even though the plan was to take it easy, we were still moving at a pretty good lick. Keeping up with her, particularly on the downhills later on in the hike, was a challenge. That is until I cheated. But more on that later.

As we got higher and the treeline began to shrink, we had great views of the snowcapped Presidential Range. As usual, Mt. Washington was the most impressive, set up against a backdrop of a clear blue sky. We stopped often to take in the views when a clear spot through the trees permitted.

We were a couple tenths of a mile away from the summit when we decided to strap on our snowshoes. Until now, the trail had been very well packed with no risk of postholing. We ate a quick lunch, put on another layer of clothing and balaclavas, and pushed on to the top.

The summit was great and as we were about to head down, the clouds began to move in but no precipitation ever fell. Natasha is great at running downhills, and along with her smaller and lighter snowshoes, she pulled ahead pretty quickly. Furthermore, the crampons on my snowshoes are small and warn out so my traction was negligible. But that would soon prove to be an advantage.

I discovered that if I put my snowshoes together and sat down on the back end, I could sled down the steeper sections with very good control and also rocket-like speed. Now that was big fun! There were several stretches a few hundred feet long, and these were a real hoot. Needless to say, I made excellent time down to the Carter Notch Hut a little more than a mile down off the summit.

We were about at the hut when we stopped to let a couple of other hikers climb a really steep section. We felt bad as they were really struggling and seemingly not confident at all. Eventually they made it up though, one of them crawling on his hands and knees. Natasha rewarded him by hand feeding him some Swedish fish, which seemed to make him feel better.

We reached the hut and stopped in for a final snack break. We left, strapping our snowshoes back on to our packs knowing the final 3.8 miles back wasn't particularly steep and the trail was also well packed down from all of the foot traffic from folks hiking to the hut.

We ran most of the way back, stopping to marvel at the occasional stream flowing under the ice, or chatting with the occasional hiker. Made it back to our cars and stopped at a great restaurant in Gorham for some grub and drinks before heading our separate ways home. Great hike!

Hiked 10.0 miles.
Carter Dome Mt. (4832')
2 degrees at start, 20 degrees at summit (temperature inversion). 20-30 mph winds, higher gusts. Sunny to mostly cloudy.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Another Beautiful Day!

Sunny skies and well packed snow on the trails made it easy to forget the cold during our run (mid teens) at Bradbury Mountain State Park today. Trail conditions were significantly better than last week. In fact, you couldn't have asked for better for running on snow covered trails. The snow was very well packed down by the snowmobiles and the cold helped make sure the snow didn't loosen up. It was perfect.

I joined Ian, Emma, James, Erik, Blaine and his friend Josh at 8am. My plan was just to go 10 miles. I was definitely burning all the hay in the barn during my long runs the past three weekends, when I should have been letting it build up. Though tempted to do more since I felt great today, I stuck with my plan. I also have a hike planned for tomorrow in the White Mountains and want to have some legs left for the climbing.

I had a freak moment a few miles in, when all of a sudden my right ankle felt sprained. I didn't roll it or even come close. The discomfort just came on for no apparent reason and within about 20 seconds it was hurting pretty bad and I was running with a limp. I slowed to a walk and let the others go ahead, scratching my head as to what in the heck happened. I stretched it around and a few minutes later I was fine, and as I ran on it again the pain/discomfort disappeared completely pretty quickly. Very strange. I'm musing it was just a funky cramp or something.

Other than that, the run went very well. Cruised along effortlessly and when we reached the power lines, Erik and I turned around and headed back together (Blaine and his speedy friend had already turned around and flew back). Ian, Emma and James went on, as they were planning on 18 for the day.

I put the pedal down for the last handful of miles, cruising the long uphill with little effort and feeling good. Far cry from how I felt during the same stretch of trail last week. Reached the parking lot and Erik showed up shortly there after.

Ran 10.2 miles @ 9:01/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - N/A (ordering a new strap today!)
Trails with packed snow.
Very hilly.
Mid teens, sunny.
Long pants, fleece jacket, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Afterwards, I headed to LL Bean to pick up a new pair of sunglasses. They had some folks doing snow sculptures in the courtyard out front. Really neat what they came up with. I snapped a few pics with my camera phone... here are my two favorites:

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Beautiful Day

Sunny skies and warm temps this afternoon had me jonesing for a run outside especially since it's been a while. I did just that, opting to run the 1.75 mile armory loop a few times from my school. Lower speed limits and less traffic on this loop made it a safer option, since the snow banks were tall (stomach high to overhead) and the puddles were large (you could probably catch a fish in a few of them).

Felt great, and for the first several miles I cruised along at a slow pace, which has become comfortable. I wondered if I could still go fast and do so comfortably. Been a long while since I've done that. Opted to drop the hammer the last mile and a half and see how it felt. I was somewhat surprised at how easy and natural it came, despite not doing speed work in a long while. I ran the last mile in 6:25 and still felt I had a lot left in the tank. Cool.

Ran 7.0 miles @ 7:47/mile pace.
Paved roads, patches of slush and puddles.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 30s, sunny.
Shorts, fleece jacket, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Snowshoeing, Smoothies and Excavation

For the fifth time this year, school was canceled today because of snow. I shoveled the walk and moved my car for when the plow truck comes through, but not before taking my time after waking up at 5am and making coffee and a fruit smoothie for breakfast. The recipe I use for a fruit smoothie is a big favorite of mine. Great drink that provides lasting energy. If you can handle the fiber, it's great just before a long run:

Place the following in a blender:
5 strawberries
1 apple, sans the core
1 banana
1 container of blueberry yogurt
1 cup of orange juice
2 ice cubes

Blend until all ingredients are liquefied.

It makes enough for a huge glass, which I have no problem downing. A few of the kids on the cross country team tried it a few months ago and really liked it, but they did comment that it made a lot and they were surprised I'd drink the whole thing. So if you try it out, adjust the recipe or simply share it if you see fit. It tastes great!

So after all that was taken care of, I strapped on my snowshoes and was off. It was apparent right off that this would be a good workout, as the snow and sleet was deep. I found it interesting that despite temperatures being in the lower 20s it was sleeting and not snowing. I'm guessing that means warmer air is aloft.

I was a bit disheartened shortly after I began the trek to find that the first snowmobile trail I usually take has been excavated, apparently for someone's driveway. A few hundred yards later, an area looks to have been cleared out for a home on top of a small ridge and next to the bog. Fortunately, judging by the excavating tape on the trees this looks to be it. Much better than some real estate developer putting up an entire neighborhood (which would be hard to do anyway, since a lot of the land back there is protected).

I noticed in late autumn that the land went up for sale, and also noticed that it had gone up for sale right after the motocross track right next to it had closed for the season. The track is VERY active during the warmer months and it can get quite loud. Who in the heck would want a house that close? I can think of two possibilities: One, the person building the house owns or is affiliated with the track in some way. Two, given the timing of when the land went up for sale, somebody got suckered. Big time.

Regardless, I hope the landowner won't mind me cutting through to access the trails. Even if he or she isn't gracious, there are other ways around. This way just happens to be the most convenient.

Anyway, I continued on enjoying the woods. Didn't see anything for wildlife, and no fresh tracks of any animals were seen. I made it to the fire road and turned around and headed back. Tough conditions with the deep snow, so it was a good little workout.

The fireroad

The next four days look pretty good weather wise, at least for the most part (more snow expected Friday night, but doesn't look to be much). I'm somewhat optimistic that the road shoulders will be okay for running tomorrow afternoon. It's been a while. Fingers crossed...

Snowshoed 3.1 miles in 1:04:51
Trails with unbroken snow.
Moderately hilly.
Lower 20s to start, mid 20s at end. Sleeting.
Snow pants, Goretex jacket, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt, beanie, mittens (off and on).

Monday, February 11, 2008

Ducking the Wind

Old man winter sure has been one cranky dude lately. Fine by me though, it'll only make spring seem all the more pleasant. Still, I opted to cross-train inside today. Bitterly cold and a strong wind a blowin'. Looks like we might have a small window of reasonable weather beginning on Thursday.

Elliptical - 6.7 miles in 30 minutes.
Random hills.
Level 11 out of 16

Stationary bike - 8.7 miles in 30 minutes.
Hill climb and descent.
Level 6 out of 16

The new playlist I set up on my iPod specifically for these indoor cross training workouts was of big help in keeping me going today. Definitely helps fill the void of sensory input that running outside usually provides. Playlist is below for anyone who might be interested. Doesn't represent all of the music I listen to, just the heavier or more upbeat stuff.

Nine Inch Nails - The Hand that Feeds
Nitzer Ebb - Lightning Man
Faith No More - Mouth to Mouth
Tomahawk - Sun Dance
Mr. Bungle - Ars Moriendi
Ween - Transdermal Celebration
Sleepytime Gorilla Museum - Helpless Corpses Enactment
Faith No More - The Gentle Art of Making Enemies
Secret Chiefs 3 - Welcome to the Theatron Animatronique
Primus - Jerry Was a Race Car Driver
Rammstein - Sonne
Faith No More - Surprise! You're Dead!
Mindless Self Indulgence - Shut Me Up
Android Lust - Kingdom of One
Nine Inch Nails - Survivalism
Faith No More - Everything's Ruined
Orbital - Illuminate

Saturday, February 09, 2008

River Quest Turns to Slog Fest

The battle cry for this run was to reach Androscoggin River, just a mile and a half or so longer than our run starting at Bradbury Mountain State Park two weeks ago. Things didn't quite turn out that way though. I was joined by Ian, Eric and Blaine and we were off at 8am.

The first half of the run went pretty well. The trails were runnable, but noticeably softer and less packed down than they were two weeks ago. Not surprising, given all the snow we got last week. But I found the trails to be especially difficult, not being fully recovered from last weekend's 50K plus bonus mileage through soft sand and crazy winds.

After about 9 or so miles, it was evident the snowmobiles hadn't traveled these sections of trails much. Blaine made the smart call to turn around shortly before here and call it a day, but Ian and Eric and I pushed on. We postholed our way along another mile and a half at a snail's pace. Now I was spent. Really spent. Drank water and mowed down a Larabar, but it was of little help. Ka-bonk.

We all decided the river would have wait another day. The trails weren't getting any better and continuing on the last mile or so to the river would have taken enormous effort, at least for me, and I was already running on fumes.

The return "run" back was very difficult. The snow was even looser now that the temperatures were warmer and I was run-walking more than I'd like, but what can you do? Uphills were particularly tough, of course. Was very relieved to finish.

It was clear this run was not a good idea. 10 miles probably would have been a good distance for today. Just not recovered enough from last weekend. I think a smart plan is to hit the reset button, and stick with shorter distances for the next few weeks and rebuild back up. No regrets about today though. It was still fun and it was great to get out before yet another storm hits this evening.

Ran 20.7 miles @ 12:00/mile pace.
Trails with packed and loose snow.
Extremely hilly.
8 degrees to start, 32 degrees at end. Partly to mostly cloudy.
Long pants, fleece jacket (removed about halfway in), long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt, gloves, beanie.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Good Day for X-Training

The weather has been pretty non-running friendly today and yesterday (school was canceled yesterday, and might be tomorrow). Good week for it, since I'm in recovery mode from Saturday. School was on today, so it was a good opportunity to take advantage of the school's gym after the students were gone. I'm pretty fortunate to have good equipment within easy reach, and its also free. The Polyphonic Spree was good company on the headphones while I worked out.

Elliptical - 5.8 miles in 30 minutes.
Random hill setting.
Level 10 out of 16.

Stationary bike - 7.9 miles in 30 minutes.
Big hill setting.
Level 6 out of 16.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Loosening Up

I had hoped on going longer today, but I put the ego aside and ran what felt like a perfect distance for loosening up the muscles. I actually feel pretty good after Saturday, just some tight calf muscles that felt much better after today's run was over. However, going any further might have been pushing it.

Bad weather in the forecast tomorrow and Wednesday. Bad being defined as a cold rain. Will opt to cross train on the elliptical and stationary bikes if the forecast holds true.

Ran 6.2 miles @ 8:38/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - N/A (missing strap)
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Upper 30s, partly cloudy.
Long pants, fleece jacket, short sleeved shirt, refl. vest, hat.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Cape Cod Frozen Fat Ass 50K

Today's race: grueling. It took an enormous amount of mental effort to get through this course. I even took a wrong turn early on, and tacked on an additional 1.7 miles as a result. But that wasn't anything compared to the 25 mph wind with gusts up to 45 mph throughout the race. Half of the time at your back... the other half in your face, all on the beach or the backside of sand dunes, totally exposed without the shelter of trees. Either direction, the loose sand also made the going slow.

I don't mean to paint a picture of misery here... I had a blast. It was a challenge and the scenery was beautiful. The people were also great. It's the kind of event I'll look back on with fondness since it was so tough.

Fortunately, I have a couple of good friends, Andy and Kris, who live on Cape Cod, and their house was just 20 minutes from the start. I drove down Friday afternoon in a nasty storm. Snow in Maine and New Hampshire, sleet in northern Mass, and as I approached Boston, a hard driving rain that had my wipers on full speed for quite some time. I still made it to the Cape in decent time, all things considered. We chowed down on some incredible pizza (a healthy variety) and soon afterwards I was off to bed.

A Mighty Wind
I woke up and arrived at Sandy Neck Beach about 45 minutes before the 7am start, chatting with a few runners until we were gathered on the beach, a line was drawn in the sand and we were off.

The course is a 15.7 mile figure-eight styled loop that is run twice. The first part of the figure eight loop is five miles and returns at the start/aid station. You then continue the rest on another loop.

We battled the first part of the loop into that gnarly headwind. It was insane. A group of four runners pulled ahead and I was alone as I pulled ahead of the rest of the pack. My plan, like last month, was not to really race this but treat it as a training run. However, I did like the fact that I was in fifth out of 20-something starters, and thought it'd be fun to try and hold that position. This along with what would happen in a few miles helped fuel a more competitive mindset than I had originally anticipated.

After about 2.5 miles, I was quite happy to round the corner of an estuary and run on the other side of the dunes with the wind at my back. Made good time back to the aid station, mowing down a banana and a packet of Gu and was off again.

Wrong Turn
Just after mile 7, I for some reason thought we were turning left at one junction. I saw some footprints and assumed it was the other runners who were ahead of me. The trail led back to the beach, and soon afterwards I realized my mistake. Crap! I used adult language quite profusely as I backtracked to where I was supposed to be and couldn't believe my stupid mistake. When I got back to the right trail, I wondered what the heck I was thinking. It was pretty obvious which direction to go, but I failed to see it. Oh well, not much I can do about it now, just move on.

I pushed on and passed a handful of runners over the next few miles. I had hoped I'd be able to regain some ground, but didn't want to put the pedal down too hard, as that is a futile line of thinking, especially after a blunder that is causing you to run longer. Made it to the left turn which would take us over the dunes and back on the beach, with that evil wind in our faces again.

At the beach, you could see for miles ahead of you, and I could make out eight other runners ahead of me. Somehow I managed to pass five, and catch up with the other three at the aid station. Battling the wind was enormously tough, and finding a path on the beach that minimized soft sand or giant patches of rocks was a challenge.

Second Half
Now I was really spent, and was alternating running with walking more often. So were the other runners I saw though. I was looking forward to rounding that turn again to have the wind at my back.

Reached the turn and the wind at my back seemed to be of little help though, as I was quite tired. I even thought about calling it a day a few times when I reached the aid station. But fortunately, I was able to convince myself that finishing this off would make it memorable. That overrided any thoughts of ending early.

Reached the aid station and downed some really good soup, refilled my bottle with diluted Gatorade, and was off for the final 10.7 miles, with no bonus miles planned.

The sand on the backside of the dunes was more broken up now with the traffic, and much softer. I opted to walk these sections, and run the ones that were wet and packed down from last night's storm. All in all, I'd say half was soft sand and the other half of the easier to run variety.

After about five miles, made the turn to go over the dunes to reach the beach again. I had hoped the wind would have died down some by now. Wishful thinking. It seemed to have actually picked up.

It was with great relief when I reached the finish. I was spent. I came in seventh place (not a big deal when there were 20-something starters, and only about a dozen finished), and mused that I had probably only lost one or two spots as a result of the time lost from the wrong turn. All finishers were presented with a really cool hand painted quahog shell (see pic below).

The Cape Cod Ultra Society folks graciously invited me into their RV where the other half dozen finishers were hanging out. I sat and chatted with them for a bit while I enjoyed more of that soup. Good group of folks. I enjoyed the conversation, but had to leave after about 10 minutes to get back to my friends and then get on back to Maine.

Really good time!

Ran 33.1 miles @ 11:14/mile pace.
Total time: 6:12:12 (official time 6:06, not sure where the discrepancy came from, but I like the official time better)
Placing: 7 out of 15 finishers
AHR/MHR - N/A (I lost the elastic part of the strap to my HR monitor)
Beaches and sandy trails.
Mostly flat to slightly hilly.
40 degrees at start, upper 40s to end. Winds 25mph, with gusts to 45mph. Sunny.
Long pants, long sleeved shirt, short sleeves shirt, beanie, gloves.