Thursday, December 31, 2009

Resolutions?! Vee Don't Need No Steenking Resolutions!

Merriam-Webster's online dictionary defines resolution as follows:

1 : the act or process of resolving: as a : the act of analyzing a complex notion into simpler onesb : the act of answering : solving c : the act of determining

Let's face it. In the context of New Year's resolutions it's really defined as people making well intended goals that they often don't follow through on. Many times these involve drastic lifestyle changes with exercise and diet that are undertaken without a proper plan put into place and, as a result, most people often end up failing and are left feeling disappointed. It's a silly process, and all brought about by a calendar changing a few numbers. As a result,a healthier lifestyle often has a sense of failure attached to it for many folks and they give up, which is unfortunate.

I applaud the effort though, but just never got the point of waiting for a calendar to flip over to try something new and then rush into it. Enough ranting though. And with all that being said, it is hard not to look at the calendar year ahead and plan things out with running, and hope that things pan out the way you want them to.

These aren't really resolutions. These are goals related to something I'm already doing and I've had them for quite some time. Here are a few of mine for 2010, most of which are related to my race schedule:

January through March - Now that we have a good blanket of snow on the ground (it's coming down good as I type this), I plan to incorporate a lot more cross country skate skiing into my regiment, along with the running. I'm hoping this will bode well when I transition back to pretty much running exclusively (with some core work thrown in). I also hope to do a few XC skate ski races, even though I suck really bad.

March - April - Ramp up the running mileage and intensity as the snow melts, incorporate a lot of barefoot and VFF running as the weather becomes more conducive to do so.

May - Pineland Farms 50 Miler. I hope to do it wearing the Vibram's.

June - Pemi Loop mountain run, for fun and training. No real goal attached. Other training targeted for the Vermont 100.

July - Vermont 100, with the goal of breaking 22 hours (PR is 22:09).

August - recover properly from Vermont 100 and play things by ear.

September - Most likely the Vermont 50, though I haven't ruled out the Iroquois 100 if I'm feeling good. All contingent on Vermont 100 recovery.

October - Mt. Desert Island Marathon. Was bummed I couldn't run it last year after coming off the stress fracture, so it'll be great to run it again (for the fifth time). If I do the Vermont 50, I can't realistically expect a stellar time (races are three weeks apart).

November and December - keep the mileage low to recover and give the body a break until the snow starts flying and then pick up the intensity again with XC skate skiing.

So that's it. All subject and likely to change. It's a lot, but if I play things smarter I should be able to avoid major injuries and be fine. Bring it on and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Morning Run at the Back Cove

Sunrise at the Back Cove.

I met up with a pretty sizable group this morning consisting of Jim, Ian, Shauna, and a few other folks for a couple of laps around the Back Cove in Portland. Pace was relaxed and easy and we enjoyed a pretty sunrise while we ran. We went out to breakfast afterwards at the Miss Portland Diner. Good run and a good time!

This was my last run for 2009. Goals for next year? Just avoid major injuries, and even minimize the minor ones. I have my race schedule mapped out and some goals attached to that, which I'll post later today or tomorrow.

Happy Running!

Ran 7.3 miles @ 8:20/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - N/A
Firm trails with some icy patches.
Slightly hilly.
Upper teens, partly cloudy.
Asics Trail Attack 4, long pants, fleece jacket, short sleeved shirt, long sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sunny Ten

Even with temps in the teens, a sunny, cloudless sky gave the illusion of warmth and beckoned me outside. Got in a nice 10 miler on the roads. It did take about five miles for the muscles to warm up, however. Patches of ice made it a bit slow at times, but not a big problem.

Ran 10.0 miles @ 8:01/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - N/A (got to remember to get a new battery for the strap next time I'm out)
Paved roads, patches of ice and snow.
Moderately hilly.
Mid teens to 20 degrees, sunny.
Asics GT-2140, long pants, fleece jacket, short sleeved shirt, long sleeved shirt, gloves, beanie.


Monday, December 28, 2009

Morning Five

Got in five miles with my brother this morning from our mum's house. Flying back home tomorrow, which will be a rest day. Wanted to run in the Vibrams, but the soleus muscles were sore (as expected) from yesterday's run in them, so I went with the road shoes. Still, they weren't as sore as I thought they'd be.

Ran 5.0 miles @ 8:55/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - N/A
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Lower 40s, partly cloudy.
Asics GT-2140, shorts, windbreaker (shed after four miles), short sleeved shirt.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

San Felasco Hammock

Good trail run today in the Vibram Five Fingers. Hit the trails at the San Felasco Hammock. Brought along a video camera I got for Christmas to test it out. It's great! Small enough to easily bring on runs (as long as not too much water is present).

Here's a little video I edited with the footage:



Ran 11.4 miles @ 8:49/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - N/A
Well maintained trails dotted with occasional tree roots.
Slightly hilly.
Upper 40s, overcast, period of light rain at the beginning.
VFF Sprints, shorts, long sleeved shirt.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

10K Jaunt Around Hogtown

Ran 6.2 miles from my Mum's house on the outskirts of Gainesville. This part of town is actually pretty hilly, something not normally associated with Florida.

I really wanted to run again in the Vibram's, but my calves felt a little tight from yesterday's run in them. Opted to run in road shoes today so I can do a trail run in the Vibram's tomorrow.

Felt a little sluggish, especially at first, due to eating a slice of thick crust pizza from Leonardo's about an hour before the run. Other than that, still a good run.

Ran 6.2 miles @ 7:42/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - N/A
Paved roads.
Moderately hilly.
Lower 50s, mostly cloudy, muggy.
Asics GT-2140, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!!! I'm down in Florida having a great Christmas with family. My father got me a pair of Vibram Five Finger Sprints. I tested them out when headed to the University of Florida campus and got in a couple of laps around Lake Alice today. They fit great!

It was only my second time running in Vibrams ever and the first time I ran with them on pavement, so I was happy to keep the pace and mileage low. Went well!


Ran 5.0 miles @ 9:01/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - N/A
Paved roads.
Mostly flat.
Upper 60s, mostly cloudy, muggy.
VFF Sprints, shorts.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Compromise

Didn't really feel too motivated to run today, so instead of bailing I just did a short run at an easy pace. That's always a smarter way to go, as something is better than nothing.

Ran 3.5 miles @ 7:56/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - N/A
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 20s, windy, sunny.
Asics GT-2140, long pants, refl. vest, fleece jacket, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Monday, December 21, 2009

On This Darkest Day

The sun was obscured by a thick blanket of clouds on what is already the shortest day of the year, making for a somewhat dark setting for a run on an already cold and blustery afternoon. There is often a Zen-like quality to days like this for reasons that are hard to put into words. Perhaps this was also aided by my Garmin's battery being drained, and I ran without a true quantitative measure of my pace and I simply went by feel.

And the pace simply came with what felt comfortable, no doubt slow at first, but quickened as the run went along and the muscles warmed up. The hills are pretty big and rollercoaster-like on this route, making for a fun run that was challenging at times, especially when the wind was colliding head-on. Good run, and now it's time for the sun to start reclaiming the days from now until June.

Ran 7.5 miles @ ~7:50/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - N/A
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Mid to upper 20s, overcast, very windy.
Asics-GT-2140, long pants, reflective vest, fleece jacket, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

2009 Recap: A Craptastic Year of Running

The year is winding to a close, and thankfully it's ending on a good note with healthy, injury-free running, even if it's on a far from intense level. I'll take it for now and enjoy it. And for good reason, because overall 2009 sucked! At least it did until September, and I'm grateful for that turning point. Here's a recap:

January - I returned from a month hiatus because of significant plantar fasciitis issues (which began in August of 2008), only to find out I still had significant plantar fasciitis issues.

February - I started seeing Jamie Raymond for chiropractic and active release therapy work, and he ended up helping me get back on the path to getting over the PF issues. He was awesome and a major contributor to me eventually beating this thing, but healing doesn't happen overnight and the running still stunk. I did manage to get in one 20+ mile run, but limped through it and it was tougher than it should have been.

March - I managed to run a 50K fat ass, coming in DFL, but was just happy to do it. Foot held up okay.

April - Managed a 101 mile week which instilled confidence. PF continues but is at least manageable at this point, but still nagging.

May - Paced at Massanutten 100 (37 mile mountain run for me), and followed it a week later with the Pineland Farms 50-miler. Did the same the year before, and quietly noted to myself that both events seemed much tougher this year. Ugh. Not good.

June - Beginning of the month I began experiencing a nagging pain in the right ankle. Later that month, I DNF'd at the Western States 100 at mile 44 because of said ankle pain, and I also badly tore my left quadricep (likely a result of limping because of the ankle).

July - Ankle diagnosed as stress fracture, which is what I suspected. I was actually quite relieved.

August - Lifted some weights since I couldn't run, but mainly did a lot of fishing.

September - Started running again, experimenting with barefoot and minimal footwear running, which accelerated the healing of the PF. Stress fracture now a non-issue.

October - Gradually ramping up the mileage. By mid-month I declared the PF dead and fortunately it's stayed dead with no zombie reincarnations to speak of. Everything going great!

November - A pretty slack month of running, due to work and grad school being especially busy but also poor time management for training on my part. Ended the month with an informal 10k trail race which was big fun, and I did pretty well. Also got in a 20+ miler which went well.

December - More or less a repeat of November. Not a lot of mileage, but still running healthy and casually. But grad school is now over. For good. I'm graduating! Ah, more time for training coming up. Looking to get in another 20+ miler over Christmas break.

I've said it repeatedly, but I'm just happy to be running with zero injuries again. I think in part I've kept the mileage low the past few months to not risk anything and just enjoy it.

Thanks for reading. I'm surprised that people like to follow this blog. I'm happy some find it entertaining, but in truth, I do it for myself. It's just very useful documenting notes and stats for every run and race I do. But it is nice to know that some of you enjoy checking in every now and then, so thanks! I enjoy reading your blogs as well and find a lot of inspiration in them.

And for anyone who might be interested, I have my 2010 race schedule mapped out and will be posting it soon, as well as a training plan for the winter that involves a lot of cross training with XC skiing.

Happy Running! 2010 is going to be FANTASTIC! I can just sense it.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

No Country for Cold Men

Small turnout this morning, with just Jim, Erik and myself hitting the trails at Bradbury Mountain Hill. Too bad, as the cold wasn't that bad and it was a beautiful morning.

We started out on the side of the park that's across the street, but not a lot of it was broken in, so we decided to head back and hit the Boundary Trail, which we mused would be packed down (it's a popular trail).

The Goretex jacket started to seem a bit much, so I shed it when we passed the cars. I wondered if just a long sleeve shirt over a short sleeve shirt would be enough. Jim was running with about the same, but he's a bit crazy, so that had me concerned. However, it was fine. Bit chilly at first, but didn't think much of it after a mile.

The Boundary Trail was as expected, well packed down and relatively easy to run on. Lots of big patches of ice, but the screw shoes helped a lot. A picture is below. However, I think I need to add two to three more per shoe to get a little better traction. The 18 screws per shoe configuration I used the past few years made me feel like Spiderman and gripped superb, but I don't think I need quite that many though to get the desired results.


Ran 7.6 miles @ 10:45/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - N/A
Trails, coated with snow (mix of loose and packed) and lots of ice.
Very hilly.
7F degrees to start, 19F degrees at end, sunny.
Brooks Cascadia 3 (w/ screws), Goretex jacket (shed after 2.6 miles), long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Winter is Here

Coldest day of the year so far, and even still pretty darn cold by mid-winter standards. But I was dressed right for it so I was pretty comfortable. Felt great to get out there!

Ran 6.0 miles @ 7:55/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - N/A
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
12F/-11C, windchill of -5F/-21C. Partly cloudy, windy.
Asics GT-2140, Goretex jacket, long sleeved shirt, reflective vest, long pants, balaclava, beanie, gloves.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Crazy Nazi Helmet Guy

You'd think the woods would be safer to run in after deer hunting season is over. Other types of hunting are still legal this time of year (all small game), but the woods should be safe for running as the odds of being mistaken for a snowshoe hare or coyote are pretty acceptable and the number of hunters out are small in number. However...

When running in the woods with daylight creeping away, and you come across a guy wearing a German World War II helmet with a big Nazi "SS" logo on it, clothing that looked like it was from the same era, and a bolt action rifle strapped over his shoulder, it makes you think twice.

The dude was walking in the opposite direction and I was puzzled, not noticing the details of his attire too much at first. And as I slowed I asked, "Hey, isn't deer season over?" (the rifle he was carrying looked pretty heavy duty).

"Yeah, I'm hunting coyotes," he answered non-chalantly and pretty slowly. I gathered the guy was a bit dim. "Got one yesterday. Also, there are rabbits, foxes, and bobcat. All sorts of stuff to hunt back here, the woods are full of them."

That's when I noticed the Nazi logo on the helmet and got a better look at the clothing. WTF?! Who goes hunting with a heavy German helmet and olive green clothing that looked like something an old school soldier would wear?! Had I not seen the guy's footprints, I might have thought it was a ghost from a German soldier who's U-Boat crashed off the coast of Maine in the 1940s.

It was pretty apparent that the cheese had definitely slid off this guy's cracker a little, so I just politely wished him luck and ran on. I ran out to the lake and then returned home the same way, keeping an eye out for the Crazy Nazi Helmet Guy. I could see his tracks in the snow, and fortunately he didn't turn on to the 1.5 mile long path that led back to my house. Whew.

Hopefully the guy won't stick around. He talked as if he's been hunting back there his whole life or something, but I've been running back there for years now and have covered a lot of ground and have never seen this dude before.

The run itself went well. Slow pace due to very loose and soft snow for half the run. Wanting to get home definitely helped me pick up the pace some though.

Ran 6.3 miles @ 9:52/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - N/A
Trails with very loose 8" snow for half, moderately packed the other half.
Very hilly.
Lower 40s to upper 30s, partly cloudy.
Brookes Cascadia 3, long pants, short sleeved shirt, beanie.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Snowshoeing

My original plan for today consisted of more Nordic skate skiing, but I had to scrap those plans. Reason being, the snow on the athletic fields near my house was much deeper and crested with ice, making it virtually impossible to ski on. Way different than the athletic fields at Twin Brooks unfortunately, but so be it. I'll be getting a season pass at a XC ski area near my house soon. They should be opening soon, if they're not already.

So, plan B was in place to snowshoe with Neighbor Kate in the woods out back. She just got a new pair yesterday and was eager to try them out. It was a good time, we just went at a pretty leisurely pace and enjoyed the woods, seeing several deer beds and tracks. I love how quiet the woods are in the winter.

Snowshoed ~ 3.5 miles.
AHR/MHR - N/A
Trails with unbroken snow for roughly half the trek (8"-12").
Slightly hilly.
Upper 20s to mid 30s, partly cloudy turning to overcast.
Long pants, fleece jacket, long sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves (off and on).

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Nordic Ski + Run

Thanks to my buddy Ryan, I have a complete arsenal of cross country skate ski gear. Well, expect for the poles, but Ryan has custom fitted a pair for me and I'll be getting those soon. I'm new to the sport though, and my friend Jeff recommended that I actually ski without poles to get the technique down, so I set out this morning to do just that.

I headed to Twin Brooks, happy to see the trails were indeed groomed. I clicked into the skis, and was off... straight to the ground to kiss the snow. For the first half hour, it felt just like the only other time I had tried to skate ski. I floundered, flailed, flopped and fell repeatedly.

I was getting a bit frustrated and then something magical happened. On a small decline, I went off the trail and fell. I discovered that the snow off the trail was actually very packed and firm, and I kicked to the side and glided. Holy crap, I was moving forward and with ease! Everything just clicked. I was so pumped. The icy trails were screwing me up, and this was much more manageable.

So I stayed on the soccer fields, practicing my stride, enjoying moving along and being in control (at times). I had actually watched this video over and over again, and remembered the lessons on centering and using the arms. It really did help. I tackled a very minor hill several times, successfull staying in control on the downhill, turning while kicking with the extra speed and also moving on the uphill (just barely). I still fell several times, but a lot of the time I was in legit control and my motion felt smooth and efficient.

I then went back on the groomed trails. Even though they were really icy, I'd bet a skilled skier could still move on them. I could not, even after practicing on the fields. So, I still have a lot of work to do. But I'm really stoked with the progress I made today.

And man, what a great workout. It wore me out pretty good. But on the way home, I decided to stop at the Back Cove and run a lap, but during the last mile especially, I could tell my muscles were worked out pretty good from the skiing.

Skate skied ~4km @ unknown pace (fell and forgot to restart watch several times, so no real idea of pace).
Icy trails, soccer fields coated with firm, packed snow.
Slightly hilly.
Lower-mid 20s, sunny, windy.
Long pants, windbreaker, long sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Back Cove run:
Ran 3.6 miles @ 7:41/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - N/A
Trails, well packed dirt.
Slightly hilly.
Mid to upper 20s, sunny, very windy.
Long pants, windbreaker, long sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.



Thursday, December 10, 2009

Six in the Slush

A nice six miles after work today. Roads were a bit tricky, with patches of ice and slush left from yesterday's storm (around a foot of snow fell). But all in all, not too bad. Felt good out there today.

Ran 6.0 miles @ 7:40/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - N/A
Paved roads, patches of ice, snow and slush.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 30s, partly cloudy, windy.
Asics GT-2140, long pants, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves (shed after two miles).


Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Existential Thoughts on Losing the Massanutten 100 Lottery

And so I sit at home with a cleared mind on a snowy day, with school canceled and my final paper emailed in to my grad school professor, feeling quite philosophical on running, ultras, and the like. Which brings me to yesterday's Massanutten 100 lottery. I love their unique system of getting in based on the stock market. It's fair. It's fun. But alas, the Dow simply didn't close in my favor yesterday and I did not get in.

Yet, strangely, I don't really care that much. Enough so that I'm contemplating not even bothering with the waiting list. Don't get me wrong, the race is top notch and I really would love to do it. I've paced there the past two years and the course is awesome. And, like all 100s that I know of and most other shorter ultras as well, the race management is top notch. They do a great job and it's a grand time for runners, pacers, crews, and volunteers. But, I would rather plan on the absolute, even if there's a good chance I would get off the waiting list. I still have some time to think about it, but as of right now I'm thinking of not trying to get in.

Laurel mentioned to me yesterday, and I'm paraphrasing here, that when it becomes a competition to get in a race, it can detract from the fun. I'm obviously experiencing that now. That, and it's hard not to think that there are great races nearby that are much less of a hassle to get in (i.e. no lotteries needed) like the Vermont 100 and the Iroquois 100. As of now, I'm thinking of doing those two. And it'll be really fun to do the local Pineland Farms 50-miler on fresh legs. I've done pretty well there the past two years, but have done so just a week after pacing at Massanutten, involving a 37-mile mountain run for me... and last year with some plantar fasciitis issues to boot. I'm curious to see how I'd do with a proper taper and legs that aren't sore.

This is all subject to change and nothing is carved in stone at this point. One of the things I've really enjoyed the past several months coming off the stress fracture is having my options open to me. I've been enjoying taking my time ever so slowly ramping up the mileage, not stressing too much when I have down periods in my training (like the past week and a half) because of work and grad school commitments. I'm pleasantly surprised at the speed I've gained back, running most of my shorter runs at faster paces with ease, and knowing it's now just a matter of working on the endurance. I'm really enjoying running for the sake of the love of running, and not worrying much about races looming on the horizon, because there are none. I'm also really thankful I'm running with zero injuries or nagging pains, something I haven't had in while. And I'm also treasuring spending a good chunk of my time running with my Trail Monster friends, who are the best group of running buddies one could possibly ask for.

So.. with so much to enjoy lately, why should I be disappointed? I have a feeling 2010 is going to be a great year!

Happy running.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Slow Five

I'm never too crazy about running on the roads in the town I teach in after it snows. The roads there aren't very pedestrian friendly to begin with, and the snow only complicates matters. So sometimes running shorter, safer comfort loops multiple times is a good compromise. Did just that today.

Took the pace really slow. Will likely continue that trend with all running this week, when I can run. It's a busy week with a big grad school paper to finish up before class on Wednesday, taking The Cheat to the vet for his annual check-up tomorrow, and having to be home for the heater repair guy (again) later this week. I want this week to end!

Ran 5.2 miles @ 8:28/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - N/A
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 30s, overcast.
Asics GT-2140, long pants, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves (shed after 1.5 miles).

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Blah

Ran with Stephen and Jim Gott at Pineland today, as we wanted to get in a last run there before it's open to skiing (snow starts flying tonight and more expected next week).

Unfortunately, I wasn't really feeling it today. Had intended on at least 15 miles but that just wasn't happening. So instead of trying to start a fire with wet logs, I cut it short. A bit disappointing as I've had plenty of rest days this week, but so be it. Light running the next few days along with healthier eating.

Ran 7.1 miles @ 9:08/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - N/A
Muddy trails.
Very hilly.
Mid 30s, overcast.
Brooks Cascadia 3, long pants, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Mt. Hope

Ridiculously unseasonably warm weather today (mid 60s), but I can take comfort in knowing that Old Man Winter will be back in town in a few days. With that in mind, I enjoyed what is hopefully the last hoorah of the warm weather we've experienced overall this past month. Hopefully things will rebound with lots of snow, as I'm itching to use my XC skate skis.

Anyway, ran up Mt. Hope today, which is really more of a glorified hill. Still, it's a buttkicker, with a ridiculously steep climb, followed by rolling hills, and a sharp downhill then pretty flat to the end.

First three miles heading to the base of the hill felt rather sluggish. I had really hoped that the rest of the run wouldn't be a slog, but after I reached the top, I felt warmed up and the rest of the run was rather pleasant. Didn't push the pace, but still ended up with a nice overall pace for this route. Nice to be sub-8, don't think I've ever done this route below that.

Ran 11.0 miles @ 7:57/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - N/A
Paved roads.
Extremely hilly.
Mid 60s, variable clouds.
Asics GT-2140, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Cross Training Day

Opted to do use the ellipticals at my school's gym after school today, thinking the weather was going to be dire but it turns out it wasn't all that bad. Good to blast the quads a bit. Listened to Nine Inch Nail's "Year Zero" as I did so.

Elliptical: 6.4 miles in 30 minutes. Random hill setting, level 10 out of 16.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Blackstrap Hell II - A Race Report

I knew this race would be tough. But it was even tougher than I thought. 10k of very steep hills coated with slippery mud that were rugged, gnarly and insanely tough and that is no exaggeration! It was a LOT of fun. I loved it.

This race is put on by fellow Trail Monster Running member, Jeff. What makes it interesting is he uses a staggered start. Runners go off in waves, alone or in groups of up to three. The projected slower runners go first and the projected faster runners go last. The goal is to have us all crossing the finish line within a few minutes of each other.

Me? I was seeded in the middle... 20th out of 40 people (as of the night before). I liked this for a variety of reasons. A) I haven't raced in a long while. B) I haven't race a shorter race in a much LONGER while. C) As a result of A and B, I knew there was a good chance my pacing would probably be off which leads to... D) Because of C, it would be good to have rabbits to chase and cheetahs on my tail, and the competiton of both could keep me honest.

Well... point "D" turned out to be true, but definitely not at first. I started with Tim and my buddy James Demer. James is super fast, and I know he is MUCH faster than I. Either Jeff overestimated my running lately by starting me with him or underestimated James, or a bit of both. That's not a complaint though. Projecting everyone's times based on previous races is never going to be an exact science by any stretch, especially when the data is limited with some runners (like me). Jeff did a really great job overall with this, and as it turns out we all finished within a short block of time within each other (except for three people who got really lost).

So, we were off. Long story short, I went out WAY too fast the first mile. I was leading the three of us and laboring away while noting that James would occasionally ask a question or make a comment, and he was anything but out of breath. I decided to put on the brakes and let James pass, and do my own thing without worrying about keeping up with that beast of a runner.

The race went on and about 2.5 miles in Ian and Chuck flew past me on a downhill. Crap! Not even halfway done and these guys already caught me (remember, we're supposed to be finishing around the same time because of the staggered start). They were really moving!

However, shortly after that, I was feeling my groove. I was flying well on the downhills and cruising the ups at a pretty good pace, feeling warmed up and in sync. All cylinders were clicking and I was running hard but also comfortably. I was working an uphill and saw a female runner ahead of me (I forget her name). Near the top, she turned left on to a trail and so did I.

I then heard Tim yell from behind me, "Hey Jamie! You're going the wrong way!"

"No I'm not!" I exclaimed, probably sounding like a five year old. Two out of the three arrows marking the trail did point left afterall (one was a snowmobile arrow, I should have ignored that.. the other was probably the backside of an arrow used for the other direction), and only one of the three said to go straight. There were also flags that went the direction I was going. Turns out this was for an earlier section of the trail. Crap!

"Yes you are! Trust me, it's this way!" Tim yelled back.

"Are you sure?!"

"Yes!!!"

As I ran my way back to the trail where Tim was I saw Floyd and Peter (two notoriously ridiculously fast runners) fly by ahead on the correct path. Ugh, I was indeed going the wrong way. I yelled to the girl who was ahead of me that it was the wrong way, but she insisted it was right and I think she kept going. I estimate the whole ordeal cost me about 45 seconds to a minute, so not too bad. It definitely could have been worse. Not a big deal.

So, on I went. With about a mile or so left, I looked behind me and saw a runner closing in. I couldn't tell who it was, as we were on the powerline trails and the sun was in my eyes when I turned around, but as the trail ducked into the woods and then meandered this way and that, I could see it was my buddy Ryan and he was gaining ground.

I like Ryan a lot. He's a great guy and insanely funny. He also hooks me up with great deals on cross country ski equipment. However, I didn't want him to catch me and I made it my goal to not let him do so.

We meandered and weaved between the trees and down the hill and I could see Ryan was gaining ground. We then did a U-like turn by crossing a creek and heading uphill on the other side, and I could see Ryan was now REALLY close. But somehow, I managed to fend him off on the uphill. Then there was a downhill to the finish and I crossed it at a good sprint (and then did a somersault for fun).

I crossed in 1:01:36 and 12th place overall based on the actual net times. I was hoping to break an hour, and had actually predicted to Jeff I'd finish in 57:57, which I knew was ambitious but I wanted to give myself a tough goal.

So, I'm a tad disappointed, but only a tad. I haven't raced a shorter race in a long while and didn't know these trails that well, so I don't think I did that bad considering that. The larger part of me is pretty pleased. I'm still not taking for granted that I am running TRULY injury free for the first time in well over a year. That alone makes any run fun. So that combined with a solid effort and not too bad of a finishing time (for me) for racing the first time in a long while, I'll take it with a sincere smile, but also with the realization that I still have some work to do.

BIG thanks to Jeff for putting on such a fun, challenging and unique event! It was awesome and a great time. The pizza and beer that followed afterwards with almost everyone there was also a grand time as we rehashed the day and enjoyed each other's company. I feel truly fortunate to run with such an awesome group of people. You guys all rock!

Crossing the finish line

Ran 6.3 miles @ 9:51/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - N/A
Rugged, rocky, muddy trails.
Insanely hilly.
Mid 40s, sunny.
Brooks Cascadia 3, shorts, sleeveless shirt.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Blackstrap Hell 2009 Preview

I missed last year's Blackstrap Hell race. I can't remember why exactly. But tomorrow I'll be there. Jeff puts it on. The race is informal but has an interesting concept, using a staggered start based on some crazy algorithm that Jeff came up with. It calculates your start time based on previous race times and is designed with the goal of having us all finish around the same time.

The course is around 10k of... well... hell. But most trail runners would actually call it heaven. Judge for yourself:


Race website

While this is a pretty informal event, I'd still like to test myself and run it pretty hard, given that my training has been going well lately. With that in mind, I'm taking a rest day today to help insure fresh legs. Looking forward to tomorrow!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Post-Turkey 5K Recovery Run

I had originally planned on a rest day today, but wanted to get out. I think a combination of yesterday's hard workout on the hills and then overstuffing myself with Thanksgiving grub resulted in me not feeling particularly peppy so it wasn't difficult to keep the pace slow.

Ran 3.1 miles @ 7:54/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - N/A
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Lower 40s, overcast, light but steady rain.
Asics GT2120 (heelless), shorts, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Ten on Turkey Day


Happy Thanksgiving!!! I spent the earlier parts of the morning preparing the above apple pie. It will be consumed when I head over to Neighbor Kate's here in a little bit for the festivities. Such a great holiday, this is!

So after the pie was done, I set it out to cool and then was out the door for a 10-miler. I went faster than planned, but it felt good so I just rode with it. Haven't done this route in a while so it was fun to run it again. Fun hills on it.

Hope everyone has a grand day with lots of great company, great food, great drinks, and football!!!

Ran 10.1 miles @ 7:21/pace.
AHR/MHR - N/A (dead battery in strap)
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Mid 40s, overcast.
Asics GT-2140, shorts, long sleeved shirt (sleeves pushed up one mile in)


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Two Turkeys Trotting Barefoot on the Beach


I met up with Blaine this morning for a barefoot run on the beach. We probably should have started a bit later, as the tide was going out but was still pretty high when we started. As a result, we had to splash through some sections which slowed us down quite a bit and the water was a tad chilly. Still, it could have been worse. This November has been very warm overall.

The run went well, however we did encounter an irresponsible dog owner with a large, aggressive mutt that charged us with it's teeth showing and barking angrily. It seemed to take a liking to Blaine especially, but fortunately we weren't bit. The owner was slow at getting his dog on the leash (which is the law, mind you), so I exchanged a few choice words with him that ended with me telling him what he could do to his mother (he didn't like that).

That aside, great run. Felt great and I don't think my calves and soleus muscles will be overly sore tomorrow. Last time they got worked out overly hard, but I'm a bit more acclimated now and this run wasn't as long.

Ran 10.1 miles @ 9:02/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - N/A (wore the strap, but I suspect it's battery is dead)
Very flat.
Beaches with mostly packed sand.
Mid 40s, overcast, slightly misty.
Barefoot, shorts, short sleeved shirt, windbreaker (shed after a mile), cap.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sorta Kinda Progression Run

I was pleasantly surprised at how fast my overall pace was when I ended my run. I thought it would be :10-:15 slower per mile, but obviously I'll take it. I knew I kicked it in the last mile, but thought my pace for the first half was slower than it actually was and I wasn't pushing the pace at all. Turns out I was pretty consistant for the first three miles, most of which is uphill.

1 - 8:11
2 - 8:11
3 - 8:11
4 - 7:56
5 - 7:45
6 - 7:18
7 - 6:44
last .1 - 6:28/mile pace

Very good day. Even though I don't feel like I need it, I'm still going to take a rest day tomorrow to be safe. I don't want to burn the candle from both ends, so to speak.

Ran 7.1 miles @ 7:44/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 149/165
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Mid 40s, overcast.
Asics GT-2140, shorts, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Good Recovery Run

I got some errands done earlier this morning, and by the time I was done the temperatures had warmed to the lower 40s and I swung by the local high school's athletic fields for a barefoot recovery run. Most of the frost on the fields had just melted, so it was perfect timing.

As I did my first lap I heard someone say "Hi Jamie!" as I neared the track. Turns out it was April, a literacy coach I know through education circles. She had a good plan of running the track with a friend to make it easier to keep an eye on her two kids, who played on the inside of the track while they ran.

The run felt great. No real soreness from yesterday's long run, which was somewhat surprising. Was glad to see the heart rate nice and low as well. Good signs.

Tomorrow will likely be a rest day, but I may delay taking a day off until Tuesday. I'll play it by ear. I'm off work Wednesday through Sunday and am only traveling 150 feet to Neighbor Kate's for Thanksgiving, so there will be plenty of time to get in some quality runs this upcoming week.

Oh yes, and a huge congrats to my friend Devon for winning the JFK 50 and setting a new course record! Super cool person who is full of life and obviously very talented!

Ran 5.2 miles @ 8:30/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 133/146
Grassy fields.
Very flat.
Lower to mid 40s, sunny.
Barefoot, shorts, short sleeved shirt, Moeben sleeves, cap.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Finally: A Run Over 20 Miles

Since the stress fracture, I've really been taking my time getting back into the running shape I want to be in. It's worked well in that I've built up the speed on the shorter distances but now it's time to start focusing more on the long runs.

Today I finally got in a 20+ miler and was able to do so relatively comfortably. Granted, I ran slow and the last few miles (which are uphill) were tough, but overall it went really well. I was a bit disappointed at my overall pace at first (9:40/mile), as normally in top shape I'd cover this distance on these trails between 9:10-9:20 pretty comfortably. But then I got to thinking that this was my first real long run since June, so with that perspective in mind I shouldn't complain much.

We had a good-sized group, despite a lot of our regulars not being able to make it. Jim, Blaine, Al, Lily, Susanna, Erin and Mercedes were all present, but we all did different distances. I was blessed with Lily's company until mile 18.3, when she opted to head back.

But before then, Jim earned the quote of the day. Jim had been mentioning some of society's problems which prompted a question from Al:

Al: Have you no faith in humanity?

Jim: Oh, I have plenty of faith in humanity (sarcasm). I just hope I'm alive long enough to when we nuke one another and destroy the world so I can see it.

That cracked me up. Also, worth noting that refueling on oranges and bananas after a little over eight miles really hit the spot and prevented any chances of bonking. I love oranges especially. They've become one of my top foods in ultras or any long run.

Ran 21.2 miles @ 9:40/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 139/161
Trails, very muddy.
Very hilly.
Mid 40s to mid 50s, partly cloudy, breezy.
Brooks Cascadia 3, shorts, short sleeved shirts, Moeben sleeves (rolled down after three or so miles).



Thursday, November 19, 2009

Tempo Run at the Back Cove

Got in a pretty good tempo workout this evening at the Back Cove in Portland. Ran two laps for a bit over seven miles. The goal was to have my average pace be less than seven minutes a mile, so mission accomplished. I felt I went out a bit too fast for the first two miles, but then settled down a bit for the next two, then picked it up for the rest at a faster but more comfortable pace. Much better to warm up first and then pick up the pace, so I was being stupid.

Splits:
1- 6:47
2 -6:47
3 -7:03
4 -7:10
5 -6:53
6 -6:53
7 -6:43
(last .2) - 6:53/mile pace.

Earlier in the day I had toyed with idea of doing three laps at a sub-7 pace, but I felt two was adequate and I knew I probably wouldn't be able to hold the pace much beyond that at this point. I felt bad because I started earlier and ended earlier than I had anticipated and as a result Chuck showed up just as I had finished (we had agreed to meet there a little after 5pm). He assured me it was no problem and while he ran I went and got sushi at Whole Foods. Chuck finished his run and left to meet me there, but alas I had just left again as he arrived. You see, this is the only way I can beat Chuck, as it won't happen when running.

However, we met up at Maine Running Company shortly thereafter (along with other Trail Monster runners Ian, Jim, Blaine and Scott) for a talk by Dr. Jamie Raymond on barefoot running. Dr. Raymond played an intricate part in helping me get on the path to curing my plantar fasciitis last year... very smart guy and very down to earth. He did a great job at explaining the mechanics of barefoot running vs. shoe running, as well as other related topics, to several dozen runners. Great clinic!

Ran 7.2 miles @ 6:54/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 163/174
Packed trails.
Slightly hilly.
Upper 40s, partly cloudy.
Asics GT-2120 (heelless), shorts, long sleeved shirt (sleeves pushed up after a mile or two).

Monday, November 16, 2009

Slow Start, Stronger Finish

Ran the Hansen's Ridge Loop from the school, and the first two and a half miles going uphill felt tough. The headwind didn't help much either. The pace was okay, but it still seemed like more work than it should have been.

However, things felt like they clicked into place a little better on the downhills... not so much because gravity and the wind were on my side, which did help, but I was also warmed up.

Tomorrow will be a day off, since it's parent-teacher conference night and it will be a 13 hour day. This will be made tougher if I follow through with my plans of waking up at 3am to watch the meteor shower.

Ran 7.1 miles @ 7:37/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 156/174
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Mid 50s, sunny.
Asics GT-2140, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Wakefield Loop

Ran the Wakefield Loop from my place today. It's a road route with slight hills that makes for an easy, short run. Was nice to see George who honked and waved as he drove by. He and his wife Ann are the only other trail runners I know of in our little rural town of Waterboro.

Soleus muscles still felt sore, but not too bad.

Ran 4.6 miles @ 7:45/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 153/164
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Lower to mid-50s, mostly cloudy, drizzling.
Asics GT-2140, shorts, short sleeved shirt, Moeben sleeves.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sore Soleus Muscles

I begrudgingly took the past two days off to allow my calf and soleus muscles to heal up. The longish barefoot beach run on Wednesday really gave them a hard workout, something I didn't realize until the next morning.

Today was a good test run, and I determined that the calves feel fine but the soleus muscles still need a few more days to heal up. Nothing bad, they're just really sore. So very light and slow running the next few days. Hopefully by mid-week I'll be ready to pick up the pace again.

Run was a fun one today... ran with Ian, Jim, Shauna, Lilly and Dom. Great company as always and we beat the rain.

Ran 7.1 miles @ 8:52/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 147/168
Trails.
Very hilly.
Mid 40s, overcast.
Brooks Cascadia 3, shorts, short sleeved shirt, Moeben sleeves (rolled down after 4 or 5 miles).

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Zen Barefoot Beach Run


I can usually tell after the first mile how a run is going to go. Sometimes I'm wrong, though. I might start off feeling great and then bonk out, or I may begin feeling sluggish and then things click into place after I warm up. But most of the time I can pretty much tell how things will pan out, whether it'll be a fast run done easily, a fast run that is work, a slow run that will go well and give me longer distance, a run where I may not make it the distance, and so on and so forth.

Today I felt it was going to be a great run. It wouldn't be fast, or particularly long, but enjoyable with the energy sustaining nicely throughout. And I was right. As a result, I decided to extend the eight miles to ten... but then with the Saco River jetty being so close, what the heck, might as well go the distance and do the whole stretch. I made it to the jetty, climbed up it, enjoyed the view for a few moments and then made my way back.

Today's run was done barefoot, my longest one to date. While it wasn't as warm today as it has been the past couple of days, it was warm enough and splashing through the shoreline at times was fun. And, I practically had the whole beach to myself.

Ran 12.7 miles @ 8:51/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 138/152
Beach with packed sand.
Very flat.
Mid 40s to around 50, mostly cloudy turning to partly cloudy, breezy.
Barefoot, shorts, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt, beanie.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Recovery Run

Normally I might take today off given yesterday's run, but the weather was too nice and I decided to get in a short recovery run instead. With it being ridiculously warm for this time of year, running barefoot was a no-brainer. Days like this are definitely numbered.

Felt good to loosen things up during the run. Tomorrow will be a day off though. Also feel a potential cold coming on, so good timing to have a rest day.

Ran 3.3 miles @ 8:34/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 136/142
Grassy fields.
Very flat.
Upper 60s, partly sunny.
Barefoot, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Shortened Run at Pineland

Awesome weather made it an especially great day for a run. Met up with Stephen, Jim, Lilly, Al and Nicole at Pineland Farms to hit the trails. Cool to start with temps in the upper 30s, but by the time we were done it was already near 60.

I had planned on 20 miles, but decided to cut it a little short. Reason was simple enough: hunger. My dinner last night was light and so was my breakfast this morning, and by mile 10 I was starving. A Gu at that point helped for a few miles, but by mile 13 I was really hungry again, and now my pace was dropping. So after second loop, the call of a chocolate milk and a cinnamon scone at the Visitor's Center was too enticing and I called it a day.

I'm a little disappointed at not getting in the 20 miles, but not a big deal. I'm still making good progress overall. I'll get there, and next time I try to go long, eating a bit more properly should help.

Ran 16.4 miles @ 9:23/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 142/163
Trails.
Very hilly.
Upper 30s to upper 50s, sunny.
Brooks Cascadia 3, shorts, short sleeved shirt, Moeben sleeves (rolled down after six miles).

Friday, November 06, 2009

Five is Good

I had considered doing more miles today, but decided last night it would be better to take it easier since I plan on doing a long run on Sunday. I've gotten in a few runs into the mid-teens since the comeback from injury, and feel ready for a 20 miler. However, I don't want to overdue this week's total mileage, so just doing a little over five today made more sense. Not being stupid about pushing things much has been paying off, so no need to buck the trend.

Tomorrow I likely won't run since I'm volunteering at the Stonecat 50. Several friends are running it, including my Trail Monster Running buds Ian, Chuck (both doing the 50-miler) and Mindy (doing the trail marathon). Good luck guys!

Ran 5.2 miles @ 7:35/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 152/164
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Mid 40s, partly cloudy, breezy.
Asics GT2140, shorts, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Altered Gaits

One nice thing about running barefoot and in shoes with the heels sawed off is that I've kind of relearned how to run. Even when wearing normal shoes, I naturally remember and my gait is still the way it should be... no heel striking and landing on the forefoot. It's nice, and just feels more efficient and natural.

I would just wear the heelless shoes all of the time with road runs, but they do tend to make my shin splints flair up a little on some runs, so I've just been wearing them here and there but still getting good results. I think a good solution will be to get some lower profile shoes, like racing flats, for the winter. My friend Chuck has been bouncing some good suggestions off of me, and I'd like to pick some up soon.

Anyway, had five on the agenda today. Went too fast. Tried to slow down a few times, but my mental discipline sucked. Would have been better to be about :30/mile slower and hit tomorrow's hill workout harder. Will just run that slower instead.

Ran 5.0 miles @ 7:18/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 156/169
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Upper 30s, overcast, very light rain.
Asics GT2120 (heelless), shorts, windbreaker (shed after 1.6 miles), long sleeved shirt.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Shaw's Ridge

Ran a slightly abbreviated version of the Shaw's Ridge loop. The climb up to the ridge isn't that bad, but then there's a sharp downhill followed by a sharper uphill that always sucks the wind out of me.

Felt the effects of yesterday's run, which is a good thing. Nice to know the legs are getting a bit of a beat down.

Scheduled rest day tomorrow.

Ran 6.5 miles @ 7:40/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 154/168
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Mid 50s, partly sunny.
Asics GT-2140, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Hansen Ridge Loop

With the high school XC season pretty much over, I can focus on my own running now. It was nice to be able to run the Hansen Ridge Loop from the school again. The fun part about this route is that you run uphill the first 2.5 miles, with the incline getting steeper until you get to the top. After that, it's a steep downhill, followed by a less drastic uphill, then a rolling dowhill to the finish.

I was actually happy to run on roads and not trails today for two reasons: A) it's hunting season. B) My toe would be happy not to kick any rocks. Felt great today, and was glad my toe felt fine while running.

I've been getting in a lot of quality runs the past few weeks. However, the quantity has been lacking. Hope to pick that up now that I have a bit more free time. My goal is still to work up to just doing 40-50 miles a week, maintain that when the snow starts flying and supplement it with equal time XC skate skiing.

Ran 7.1 miles @ 7:23/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 159/172
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Upper 40s, partly cloudy.
Asics GT-2140, shorts, long sleeved shirt (sleeves pushed up after a few miles), short sleeved shirt.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Bloody Good Barefoot Run


After the regional high school cross country meet, my buddy Chuck swung by and we did a run together on some of the trails at Twin Brook. After talking to Chuck about it, I decided to up the ante a little on my barefoot running, as there were quite a few long sections of trail that were pretty rugged compared to the grassy fields and beaches with packed sand I have been doing all of my barefoot running on. Chuck was wearing Vibram Five Fingers, probably a much better choice mostly because of a few gravely sections (which reduced me to a walk).

As you can see from the picture above, it wasn't flawless. I kicked a rock or root really hard about a mile or two into the run and consequently fell pretty hard. I immediately got up and started running again, not wanting to give the pain a chance to settle in. Fortunately, it looks worse than it actually is. Even after I stopped, it didn't feel so bad. No biggie.

That little incident aside, I was pleasantly surprised at how I did on trails with much more rocks and roots. They were pretty easy actually, only the aforementioned graveled sections were a nuisance. And also that rock or root that I kicked. However, it was a good little test. Glad I did it. Looking forward to a longer run tomorrow!

Ran 4.3 miles @ 9:07/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 138/162
Trails, varying terrain and pretty muddy.
Moderately hilly.
Upper 50s, partly cloudy overall.
Barefoot, shorts, long sleeved shirt, cap.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

R.I.P. Plantar Fasciitis (August 2008 - October 2009)

I've been meaning to mention it on the blog, but about a week ago I came to the realization that the plantar fasciitis is 100% gone. Its slow death was somewhat anti-climatic, as the past few months I had only felt it as soon as I got up in the morning and after the walk to the bathroom, it would go away. Now that's not even present. Good riddance.

I without a doubt think the barefoot/minimal shoe running helped. The PF was on its way out anyway, but the barefoot/minimal shoe running definitely gave it a noticeable push. I've read running barefoot can cause PF. Bunch of crap, if you ask me. Probably more shoe company propaganda. For me, it was just the opposite.

So, with that in mind, I strapped on the heelless road shoes and got in a touch over five miles before cross country practice started. Hit it at a pretty good pace, and though it was some work, at the same time it didn't require all that much effort. I seriously haven't felt this kind of speed and ease of pace in years. I attribute that mostly due to the fact that I took things really, really easy coming back form the stress fracture and taking my time with everything. Looking forward to starting to add some longer distances next.

I reached the practice field before the team, so kicked off the shoes and got in another 1.2 miles barefoot before the team arrived. Afterwards, shoes back on and ran 8/10's of a mile back to the school. Good day.

Ran 7.1 miles total.
Ran 5.1 miles @ 7:21/mile pace. AHR/MHR - 157/165, Heelless shoes (modified Asics GT-2120).
Ran 1.2 miles @ 8:28/mile pace. AHR/MHR - 146/152, Cool down run immediately after, done barefoot.
Ran .8 miles @ 7:15/mile pace. AHR/MHR - 146/156, Heelless shoes, run back to school after XC practice.

Paved roads for shoe run, grassy field for barefoot run.
Slightly hilly.
Around 50 degrees, sunny.
Shorts, long sleeved shirt.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Five in Perfect Autumn Weather

Ran the warm up and cool down with the cross country team, extending a mile on to the warm up. One thing I've been noticing in the past week or so is that the quicker paces have been coming easier. Most runs I look at the data and I've been pleasantly surprised by the pace. Sweet. Obviously a good sign.

The cross country season will be winding down soon, with regionals this weekend and states the following. I'll be looking to kick things up a few notches as a result, as it'll be easier to focus on my own running and I'll have more time to do so.

While I've been enjoying the Zen aspects of running the past several weeks, my attention is starting to drift towards races. I just need some goals. I'm looking at the Massanutten 100 this May. Before then, I might do the Hyannis Marathon... but Massanutten is a higher priority.

Ran 3.0 miles @ 7:15/mile pace. AHR/MHR - 155/167
Ran 2.1 miles @ 7:37/mile pace. AHR/MHR - 155/167
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Upper 50s, sunny.
Asics GT-2140, Shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Faceplant in the Mud

I set out to explore the snowmobile trail known as ITS 89, or Rt. 89, which connects all the way to Canada. It runs near my house mostly along the powerlines, and they've done a lot of work on the trail over the summer, so I was anxious to check it out.

Long story short, they did a great job on some key boggy sections that now make for some great running. Not all of the dots are connected yet though, but it's coming. I wouldn't mind contacting the trail workers and volunteering at some point, as I know I'll be making more frequent use of these sections in the future.

Anyway, I had contemplating bringing my camera along, and at one point on top of a big hill, I really wish I had... the fall colors looked spectacular. I figure we our pretty far past our peak for colors, but seeing the trees from this higher vantage point was an awesome, colorful sight.

However, a mile or so later I was really glad I didn't bring the camera. During one boggy section of trail that hasn't been worked yet, I was moving along at a pretty good clip. What looked like a shallow puddle in front of me turned out to be a mud pit that literally swallowed my entire left leg. I'm glad I didn't lose a shoe. I got out took a few steps, tripped and did a full-on faceplant in the mud.

After that, I pretty much decided it was better to navigate around this section so I bushwhacked into the woods and found my way around it. I mused I'd run into a trail I knew of up ahead that would lead me back to the powerlines, and I found it pretty much exactly where I thought I would.

I then came to a road crossing, standing there caked in mud waiting for a few cars to pass. I caught one lady's look, an obese female who was looking at me as if I were some sort of monster (the feeling was mutual).

After crossing the road, another troublesome boggy area had been "fixed" and it was a joy to run on it. I eventually reached an impasse though. I could see the trail on the hill ahead of me but couldn't quite figure out how to get to it. I mused I would have enough miles for the day if I turned around here though, so I didn't bother looking too hard and decided to head back.

Great run and a fun little adventure. Overall pace was slowed down because of some of those problem areas, but I was quite pleased when I saw the numbers. On the more runnable sections of trails, I was running at a pretty good pace (for me) despite the mud from yesterday's rain, which helped make up for it (several miles around 8:30/mile pace). Good day.

Ran 10.0 miles @ 9:27/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 145/168
Muddy trails with some very boggy sections, some bushwhacking involved, some dirt roads.
Very hilly.
Mid 50s, sunny.
Brooks Cascadia 3s, shorts, short sleeved shirt, hat.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Run in the Cold, Cold Rain

Great run in the elements today with Ian, Jim, Randy and Don at Pineland Farms. This is definitely one of those days where it helps to know that you are running with folks and feel committed to going, as with the steady, cold rain falling it is all too easy to stay in bed under the warm covers and take your time sipping coffee and procrastinating the day away.

We got in a pretty good pace for these trails and this distance. Felt great out there, but again, like last week I had pretty fresh legs because I wasn't able to run much during the week... this time because of a chest cold. Probably not exactly smart to run in this kind of weather as a result, but I'm over it enough where I felt it was an okay risk to take.

Dressed well for the weather. Moeben sleeves really shine in cold rain. I guess it's because it's a good combination of material, fit and thickness.

Afterwards, we refueled on coffee at the Visitor's Center and then checked out the cyclocross race going on nearby. Looks like a really fun sport! Great mix of athletic ability, technique, and simply having balls (especially on those downhill muddy sections).

Ran 7.2 miles @ 8:42/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 152/168
Trails.
Very hilly.
Upper 30s, steady rain.
Brooks Cascadia 3s, shorts, short sleeved shirt, Moeben sleeves, cap.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Teeny Tiny Run

Just did part of the warm up and cool down with the XC team. Unfortunately for the runners, the regional meet tomorrow has already been postponed due to expected heavy rains and wind. There are some pluses to the postponement though, but I still feel bad for the kids since they have to wait another week. They are definitely raring to go.

As for me, I'm fine with the shorter mileage I did today, as I plan on doing longer runs both Saturday and Sunday. Tomorrow especially will be interesting with the weather.

Ran 1.2 miles @ 8:15/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 137/147
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 40s, sunny.
Asics GT-2140 (unmod, but wish I brought the mods), long pants, short sleeved shirt, windbreaker.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Post Chest Cold Run

I reluctantly took the past couple of days off due to a chest cold, obeying the adage that states it's more or less okay to run if cold symptoms are from the neck up, but don't run if it's in the lungs. Fortunately, it's pretty much gone and I was also otherwise feeling great, so I did a short 5K run at an easy pace to test things out before XC practice got under way. All systems go.

Ran 3.1 miles @ 8:01/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - N/A
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Upper 40s, overcast.
New Balance (really old pair, forgot my real shoes), Shorts, short sleeved shirt, jacket (shed after a mile), cap.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Fitting Compromise

The XC team had a two-mile time trial on tap today, and I had originally planned on running it with them. However, I felt pretty crappy on the 2.3 mile warm-up run. Felt tight and not very energetic. I had run it at an okay lick, so I convinced myself that the warm-up run and the cool down of the same distance would be enough.

But then as the runners were doing the time trials, I was getting chilly. One of the kids came late, and I decided to compromise my plans and help pull him along at least for the first mile. This worked out well. I'd say it translated to about a 90% effort for me, and I was happy to squeek in one second under 6:00.

The mile course is a hilly one also. Check out the elevation chart below.


Ran 5.6 miles total.
2.3 miles @ 7:41/mile pace. AHR/MHR - 153/165
1.0 mile @ 5:59/mile pace. AHR/MHR - 159/171
2.3 miles @ 7:53/mile pace. AHR/MHR - 157/168

Paved roads.
Slightly hilly for w/u and c/d, very hilly for mile course.
Lower 50s, sunny.
Asics GT-2140 (unmodified), Shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Leapfrogging at Pineland Farms

A bunch of us met at Pineland Farms this morning, including Ian, Kate, Jeff, Mindy, Tim, Lilly, Jim, Tom, and a couple of others folks I had met for the first time and forgot their names. I haven't been able to run much this past week (busy with work stuff, but I had really just planned things poorly for running), so I was looking forward to hopefully making good use out of my fresh legs.

With most of us donning extra clothing for the colder weather (Jim still started in shorts), we all set out for various distances and paces. Long story short, I got in the distance I wanted, but also went at a much faster pace than I had anticipated.

This was due in part to the fresh legs, but also due in large part to Lilly. She's a fast downhill runner, and I'm not. So on the downhill stretches she would blow past me. But being that the hills are rolling at Pineland, there would soon be an uphill, and I would catch her and pass her on the climbs. Repeat... over and over again. Then take it up a notch every few hills.

As a result, our game of leapfrog had me going at a faster pace than I had anticipated. It was a great workout. Granted, an easier pace might have been more prudent at this stage, but it was fun and I held up just fine. It was tough though, but in a good way. My own little personal guideline is that anytime the pace is less than 9:00/mile at Pineland, especially when you're doing more than 10 miles, you're flying pretty darn good considering the relentlessly rolling hills. Pleased with the HR data as well.

Afterwards, we saw Kate had just finished her run and the three of us headed over to the visitor's center, got some very refreshing hot apple cider and ultra-awesome homemade cinnamon buns, sat on a big comfy couch, and chit-chatted while gazing at Mt. Washington in the distance. Great way to end a run!


Ran 14.4 miles @ 8:58/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 152/173
Trails.
Very hilly.
Lower-mid 20s warming to lower 40s, sunny.
Brooks Cascadia 3s, long pants (shed for shorts), windbreaker (shed for long sleeved shirt), beanie (also shed).

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Abbreviated Workout

Just a quick workout with the XC team yesterday. Did part of the warm-up and the cool down, and jumped in a few 400M quarters here and there at a fast, but not full-on, pace. The cooler weather is making running nice for now... hardly any sweating.

Ran 2.2 miles, including 4 X 400M @ around 5:45/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - N/A
Paved roads, grassy fields.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 40s, sunny.
Asics GT-2140 (unmodified), shorts, short sleeve shirt, windbreaker.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Shades of Gray


For much of last night and this morning, I debated what run I should do, if one at all. On one hand, I've run the past four days in a row, and a fifth day would arguably counter my resolve to take the post-injury running period (which I've deemed to be about two months long and am about halfway through) slowly and steadily, especially with the last two days at eight miles each day. A rest day today would seem logical.

On the other hand, I've been feeling really good lately, and I really wanted to run. With that in mind, I was immediately thinking exclusively of longer runs around my house, all eight miles or more.

Being the genius that I am, it didn't occur to me until much later that a good compromise would be to just get in a short run instead. Duh. Funny how we think in extremes sometimes and situations come across as an either/or situation, or to put it slightly more colorfully, black and white. Often times, the shades of gray make more sense.

The short trail run in the woods out back was a good one. Saw one hawk (probably a red-tailed hawk) and another large bird that might have been an owl, but it could have been a hawk as well. Gorgeous weather out. Perfect running weather in fact, with temps in the mid-50s and sunny. As a result, the pace was a bit on the faster side, given the technicality of the trails.

Ran 3.8 miles @ 8:43/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 150/168
Technical trails, small section of fire road.
Very hilly.
Mid 50s, sunny.
Asics Trail Attacks (heelless), shorts, short sleeved shirt, Moeben sleeves, cap.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Cold Temperature Limits of Barefoot Running

Winter is approaching, and the number of days where running barefoot outdoors are unfortunately limited. A sub-freezing night warmed up quickly today though. By the time I left my house it was in the upper 30s, and at the coast it was a bit warmer, giving Blaine and I temps in the mid-40s at the start of our run at Old Orchard Beach.

We got under way at 9am, and a mile or so into the run we both noted our toes were a bit numb. Nothing bad and it was definitely tolerable, but we both agreed that just a few degrees colder would be doable but would pretty much suck. That being said, Blaine showed me a link to a forum where a guy describes a way to acclimate your feet to colder temperatures. Interesting.

As the temperatures continue to drop there's also a natural acclimation. For example, I ran half the run today in a windbreaker. In mid-winter, this morning's temps would have had me running happily and comfortably in just a short sleeved shirt. Point being, I'll see how much longer into the season I can go barefoot as the body makes adjustments, but there will definitely be a point where I'll have to stop until spring, obviously.

The run went smoothly. Body felt great with no aggravations what so ever. Calves did feel a little tight towards the end of the run, but nothing unusual. Sun broke out of the clouds the last few miles and it felt perfect out. Excellent little run.

Ran 8.0 miles @ 8:37/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 140/153
Beaches with packed sand.
Very flat.
Mid 40s to start, lower 50s to end. Mostly to partly cloudy.
Barefoot, shorts, jacket (removed at halfway mark), short sleeved shirt.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Running Barefoot at Twin Brooks

I helped my buddy Jeff at the Craig Cup 5K today. He's the race director for the event and I helped work the finish line. Great to also see Stephen, Kelly, James, Val, Carter, Blaine, and others there as well. Thanks to Jeff's superb organization skills, the race went smoothly and everyone looked like they had a great time.

Hard not to have a great time this time of year. The leaves are nearing their peak colors and the weather, while a tad warm for this time of year, was still very pleasant. Great day for a run.

After the race was over, I got in my longest barefoot run to date. I stuck to multiple loops on the athletic fields, which are all grass and very barefoot friendly. Only real obstacle was dodging the occasional Soccer Mom. Blaine joined me for about half the mileage, and like me, he's also coming back from injury. We discussed barefoot running and races for much of the time.

I had originally planned on around five miles at around a 9:00/mile pace, but I was feeling really good so I went a little farther and faster and was able to do so very comfortably. I'm very happy with my post-injury progress so far, and am also really enjoying running as a result. Really nice to just concentrate on the Zen aspects of the sport without worrying about any races on the immediate horizon.

Ran 8.4 miles @ 8:16/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 146/161
Grassy fields.
Slightly hilly.
Lower 60s, partly cloudy.
Barefoot, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Running in the Thorncrag Bird Sanctuary

I had to travel to Lewiston for a teacher's conference today, and I arranged to meet up with my friend Val for a run at the Thorncrag Bird Sanctuary afterwards. Great run, but I was taken a bit by surprise at the terrain.

No offense to any birders out there... I really enjoy trying to identify our fine feathered friends myself and keep a couple of bird feeders out back and really enjoy seeing who flies in... but when Val mentioned we'd be running in a "bird sanctuary" I imagined flatter terrain that would be relatively easy for those who might not be in the best physical shape to get around.

Not the case. Any birders looking to cover any ground here better have some strong legs, because the sanctuary features many intensely steep hills that are also pretty technical. I loved it, and was pleasantly surprised. The woods are awesome, featuring some older growth trees and cool terrain.

Val and I went along at an easy pace, chit chatting about running, work stuff and just life in general. Was really glad she brought me here, she was great company and it was fun to explore new trails. And, the weather cooperated as well, with no rain falling. Only problem was some chaffing issues, but thankfully it was a shorter run.

Ran 4.4 miles @ 10:03/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 141/164
Trails, mostly technical with some smoother sections.
Extremely hilly.
Mid 50s, overcast.
Brooks Cascadia 3s, shorts, long sleeved shirt, cap.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Barefoot in the Park

The cross country team was running varying distances and routes around the school, so I opted to run loops on the grassy fields at a park where they would appear out of the woods here and there while I ran. Did a mile warm-up in shoes to get to the park, then 5k barefoot. Afterwards, shoes back on, ran with a couple of the girls for a short while on the way back to the school.

Have to drive up to Lewiston tomorrow for a conference. Would like to drag my butt out of bed early (very early, a la Andrew) and get in a run before I head up. More rain expected in the afternoon. Not sure which is the bigger deterrent for me, super early run alone or soaking run in cold rain... so we'll see what actually happens. If I wuss out entirely, will punish myself over the weekend.

Ran 1.0 miles @ 8:26/mile pace with shoes (Asics GT-2140). AHR/MHR - 136/152
Ran 3.1 miles @ 8:28/mile pace barefoot. AHR/MHR - 140/152
Ran .8 miles @ 8:51/mile pace with shoes (Asics GT-2140). AHR/MHR - 136/154
Total miles: 4.9

Paved roads (first mile), grassy fields (barefoot), fields and trails (run back).
Slightly hilly.
Upper 50s, partly sunny.
Shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Pushing the Pace

Was really happy with today's run. It was tough though. Really tough. Pretty much all of my runs over five miles during this post-injury period have been at a very relaxed pace. I decided today to push it. There were physical cob-webs to shake, as well as mental ones. I had no idea until now they were so thick, but I'm happy to have pushed through it.

I did the same route as Saturday, though this time the mileage was 1/10th shorter since I opted to walk once I hit the driveway at the end of the run.

Around two and a half miles of this route are on fire roads where the surface is smoother, but most of it is still quite hilly. Still, you can pick up the pace easier on those sections.

The rest is rugged, rolling, technical trails. I made it a goal to have all of my splits under 9:00/mile. During mile four, this almost came in jeopardy during a steep climb up a very rocky hill. I did it though in 8:52, and that was a nice little victory.

Ran 8.5 miles @ 8:07/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 160/177
Technical trails, fire roads.
Very hilly.
Lower 60s, partly sunny.
Brooks Cascadia 3s, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Cathance River Run

I drove up to Ryan and Danielle's place up in Topsham this morning for a trail run. Mindy joined us as well. Of course, Danielle is preggers (but not for long!), so unfortunately she couldn't really join us.

We hit the Cathance River Nature Preserve and got in eight miles on the network of trails there. Great area. The river itself is beautiful and lots of neat bogs on the land as well. I mused a few times that quite a few areas would be prime owl territory.

We kept the pace pretty slow. I actually thought we went faster, but I guess the slippery rocks, roots and bridges helped keep the pace down.

Afterwards, we mowed down Ryan's famous omelets. The dude really does make a mean omelet. And Danielle's chocolate chip pumpkin bread was also to die for. Nothing like good grub after a trail run! Thanks guys.

Ryan also brokered a deal with a ski friend of his and I got a great deal on these Rossignol Xium skate skis. Can't wait for winter!


Ran 8.0 miles @ 10:20/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 142/160
Trails, lots of slick rocks, roots.
Moderately hilly.
Mid 50s, overcast.
Brooks Cascadia 3, shorts, long sleeved shirt.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Rain, Mud and Trails

Rainy weekend, but those can make trail runs kinda fun. I hit the woods out back this morning, running an extended version of one of my regular routes, but ran it counter-clockwise instead of clockwise. This afforded me the chance to tackle a mile and a half long technical stretch on a downhill (starting at mile four), instead of climbing up. I liked this, as it was good practice, since running technical downhills is definitely my weak area.

Kept a good pace throughout. I continue to be pretty happy with my progress. The rust continues to come off at a good rate and I'm simply having fun running without major, nagging injuries getting in the way. I noticed a good quantitative measurement of this by comparing my heart rate and pace of today's run with this run last month. Same terrain, heart rate numbers are identical, yet today's pace was over :40 per mile faster.

Ran 8.6 miles @ 9:13/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 147/165
Technical trails, fire roads.
Very hilly.
Lower 50s, overcast, light to moderate rain throughout.
Brooks Cascadia 3s, shorts, long sleeved shirt, cap.