Sunday, January 31, 2010

An End to a Great Month

I could describe this month as one of the most well-rounded training months I've ever had. While I sacrificed some running miles for XC skate skiing, the fitness gained from that should translate very well to running. I think that was evident this week, with a lot of the snow gone and all of my running went really well, including today's 24 mile run.

Totals are:
Running = 130.7 miles (including two runs over 20 miles)
XC Skiing = 90.1 kilometers
Elliptical = 19.2 miles
Snowshoeing = 3.0 miles

I should note that the XC skiing distance really equates to a lot of work, as I am not very efficient yet and those were buttkicking workouts.

Back to today... Blaine was hosting a Fat Ass 50K, though he was the only one that went the distance. I stuck to my plan of doing three loops that were eight miles each to give me 24 total. It went really well. I feel I'm finally getting my endurance legs back underneath me, as my energy was great throughout.

The only obstacle was 18 miles in when my foot broke through the ice and I took a tumble, badly twisting my ankle. After shouting a few curse words, I got back up and got going again, hoping it'd lessen, which it did, but the ankle remained very tender and it slowed me down quite a bit. I'm still hobbling around.

It's not a big deal. I've had my fair share of ankle sprains, and know I'll be fine in a few days. Planned rest day tomorrow, but will play things by ear after that. At the most, might have to take Tuesday off as well.

Here's some footage from today's run, starring many of our Trail Monster Running members... note the icy beards:

Ran 24.0 miles @ 9:51/mile
Trails with ice, snow and bare patches.
Moderately hilly.
Upper single digits to start, around 20 degrees at end, sunny.
Brooks Cascadia 3 (screw shoes), long pants, fleece jacket, long sleeved shirt (shed after eight miles), short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Running on Ice

Chilly morning, so I ran some errands early to allow the temps to warm up to the upper teens before I hit the trails in the woods out back for a run. Conditions were as I expected: there were some bare patches of ground here and there, but mostly long stretches of ice coated with a thin layer of snow.

As a result, the conditions were relatively fast for running. The screw shoes did their job and gripped the ice well. I also felt strong and energetic throughout. Very pleasant run.

Speaking of screw shoes, I was given a set of IceSpikes to try out under the condition that I'd write a review of them on this blog. I guess now would be a great time to test them, so I'll probably install them tonight and give an honest review after I do a few runs in them.

Ran 7.3 miles @ 8:49/mile pace.
Trails, coated with ice and thin snow. Some bare patches.
Very hilly.
Upper teens, sunny.
Brooks Cascadia 3 (screw shoes), long pants, fleece jacket, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Ditching the Wind

This afternoon, the temperature was 13 degrees F and the winds were gusting over 40 mph, giving a wind chill of -7 F. Given that, I wussed out and decided to use the school's gym for my workout.

Took it easy today and didn't press too hard so I could rest up for the weekend. Tomorrow will likely feature a trail run in the woods out back, and Sunday will be a long run with the Trail Monster gang.

Elliptical: 6.1 miles in 30 minutes. Random hill setting. Level 10 of 16.
Dreadmill: Ran 1.0 mile @ 9:12/mile pace. (cool down, and about as long as I could stand running on that thing anyway)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Mo' Hills

Ran an abbreviated version of yesterday's run in the opposite direction. No real goal in mind other than to run by feel. As a result, I took my time warming up and the run resulted in a nice progression, but I never really pushed things too hard. Much easier to go faster in the second half due to the downhills. Splits were 8:31, 8:26, 8:25, 8:10, 7:44, 7:23, and 7:07.

Ran 7.1 miles @ 7:57/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Around 30 degrees, overcast.
Asics GT-2140, long pants, fleece jacket, short sleeved shirt, beanie.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hitting the Hills

Didn't feel particularly energetic all day today, so I knew I wouldn't be that fast for my afternoon run. However, still a good pace given the hills on this route. Was kind of surprised the pace was what it was, as I didn't feel warmed up until about five miles into the run, so that's good at least.

The route I ran is one I've done several times before, but normally I run it clockwise and today I decided to do it counter-clockwise. I think I like them both about the same, but felt good to mix things up a bit.

Was probably a bit overdressed today. I anticipated it being more windy on top of the ridge where the cow pastures don't offer any wind protection, but alas, it was quite calm up there.

After the run, I stopped by Harris Farms to pick up some milk and hamburger patties (all produced from the farm... better quality and buying local is the single best way to "stick it to the man".) Was sad to see the Nordic ski trails in worse shape than I thought. The pastures were only about 50% covered in snow, the rest exposed. The owner said in the woods there was still at least four inches hanging on though, so that's good. I hope it snows again soon!

Ran 10.7 miles @ 8:25/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Extremely hilly.
Upper 30s, overcast.
Asics GT-2140, long pants, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

January Thaws Suck

The weather yesterday was very depressing for any winter sports enthusiast. A warm rain really did a number on the snow pack. It's hard to believe that just last week, the base was building great after a big snow storm on Monday that was followed with more snowfall through Wednesday. It looked like we could be good for the rest of the winter. But now, that has all changed.

So, doesn't look like Nordic skiing will be happening until we get another good snowfall. Hopefully it'll be soon. I'm really enjoying the skiing and it's kicked my butt in ways I didn't know were possible. I mean that in the most complimentary fashion.

I tried to think positive and embrace this evil warm weather with a road run in the Vibram Five Fingers this afternoon. I told myself this winter that whenever the temperature gets above 40 degrees, I'd take advantage of it and run in the Vibrams even if it meant sacrificing distance and/or pace. I'm still only comfortable doing a little over five miles in them on the roads slowly until I can do more runs in them regularly and ramp up properly, so that's what I did today.

Ran 5.2 miles @ 8:33/mile pace.
Paved road.
Slightly hilly.
Lower 40s, partly sunny, windy.
Vibram Five Finger Sprints, shorts, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Biathlons: Skiing + Shooting = Big Fun

Ah, the biathlon. Growing up, I'd always see it on the Winter Olympics and found the combination of skiing and shooting intriguing, if not a bit odd. I always thought it'd be fun to try, and since I've really been getting into Nordic skiing lately I was keeping my eyes open for opportunities. And then I found the perfect one.

The Southern Maine Biathlon Club teamed up with the Bethel Nordic Ski Center to host a clinic on the sport followed by a low-key race. It's geared at folks like me who are looking to give the sport a try for the first time.

First off, the SMBC and Bethel Nordic folks did a great job hosting the event. Everyone was very friendly and they created a fun and encouraging atmosphere that was perfect. We spent the first two hours going over rules and safety, but mostly target shooting using high powered pellet guns designed for biathlons (in the Olympics they use .22s).

In our event, we'd ski a 2.2 km loop three times. In between each loop, we'd shoot five targets that were about 50 feet (???) away. These targets were small, roughly the size of a silver dollar. You know if you hit one because it turns from black to white (so satisfying when you see that happen). For each one you miss, you ski a penalty lap around 150m long.

I was doing pretty mediocre in the shooting practice, going either 2 or 3 out of 5 each time. Combined with the huffing and puffing I'd be doing coming in from each lap, I was preparing myself to do quite a few penalty laps.

The Race
I am not a good skier, and don't pretend to be one. I'm new to skate skiing and have only done it around ten times now, if that. Knowing I'm still in a major learning phase, I was quite realistic in knowing I would probably finish towards the back of the pack, especially when it was obvious everyone in the group was much more experienced than I was. I was of course more than fine with this. I just wanted to have fun and learn a new sport.

Lap One:
So, we lined up, and I took a spot behind everyone else (around 15 of us total). We were off, and in the double-pole zone I let the others get ahead so I could skate comfortably with nobody in my immediate vicinity. Right past said zone was a short downhill, followed by a short uphill. By the time I reached the top of the uphill, the rest of the group was already pulling away.

But three people were behind me at this point, so that was good. Granted, two of them were on classic skis and the other guy was elderly, but hey, so be it. After a little over a kilometer out, the loop begins to make it's way back. There were a few semi-long straightaways with nobody in sight in front of me. Damn... I am slow!

Shooting Round One:
I got in prone position (we'd do prone for both times) and aimed at the first target. I fired and missed. Dang. One penalty lap. Took a breath, exhaled, and aimed for the second and hit it. Then hit the third. The fourth. And then the fifth. Sweet! Just one penalty lap.

Lap Two:
As I began the second lap, it became apparent that some of the others did not shoot as well since I could see three people ahead of me, two of which were only about 50 feet away. I knew I wouldn't catch them, not unless they were really tired. Apparently they weren't really tired, as they began to pull away.

Shooting Round Two:
Dropped to prone position again. Two breaths, hold on the exhale, fire. Hit the first target. Repeat and hit the second, third, and fourth. Then, right after the fourth shot, the gun misfired! Crap! I either hit the trigger or the side lever and it went off, wasting my fifth and final shot. I was in a zone, and certain I would have went five for five, but oh well. Just one penalty lap, so still not bad.

Third and final lap:
Another skier was wrapping up multiple penalty laps, allowing me to be nearly even with him starting the third and final loop. However, just like the other skiers before, he slowly pulled away. At least I had him in sight the whole time though. The finish line was at the end of an uphill, and by then I was quite wiped out. Crossed it with a smile on my face. That was tough, but a lot of fun.

Post Race
According to the Garmin, I skied 7.1 km total and I believe my official finishing time was 37:30. The top guys were about ten minutes faster than that. I believe I ended up finishing fourth from last out of around 15 folks. Again, about what I expected. It was a good eye opener in that I have a LOT of room for improvement in my skiing. But I really had a blast and hope to do it again soon. Very fun sport, and extremely challenging.

Looking forward to a rest day tomorrow. I feel I've earned it given the past two exhausting days.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Farther and Faster

Best day of skiing yet. Both the fastest and farthest skate ski I've done to date. I had a big assist from awesome trail conditions though. It was perfect out there at Harris Farms today.

I hope this doesn't sound egotistical as it was just a funny thought that occurred to me on the ride home, but I imagine the past few weeks as a montage from an 80's movie, showing clips of my floundering and poor form at first, but showing improvements as it goes along, all set to a cheesy song that makes generous use of synthesizers. Today could mark the end of the sequence, with what I felt was much better form and technique (though still far from perfect).

I really focused on my uphill form today, and felt I did much better. I was able to V1 up the hills much more efficiently, to the point where I was actually looking forward to the uphills, just like I do in running. Great day.

I'll be capping off the week tomorrow by attending a biathlon clinic. Looks like a great opportunity to learn more about the sport. Two hours of instruction and practice, followed by a low-key race. Sweet!

Skate skied 20.5 kilometers @ 11.0 kph/avg.
Trails, packed and fast.
Very hilly.
Lower 20s to lower 30s, sunny.
Long pants, fleece jacket, short sleeved shirt.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sunny Day!

I've skate skied at Harris Farms five times now, and today was the first day I did so where it wasn't snowing and the sun was actually shining. The break in the weather allowed the freshly groomed trails to hold better, and the trails were in awesome shape. They did a great job grooming them.

As a result, I explored some new trails. I'd say about half of what I did today was on the intermediate trails. As a result, I wasn't too fast. However, I think I was much more efficient. I took Jeff's advice and worked on pacing myself better. I think I sometimes start my next glide too soon when I haven't gotten all I could out of the one I'm on, so I worked on getting the most
out of each stride. As a result, it felt much more efficient.

The trails were fun. Big fun. It was great to explore some new paths I hadn't been on yet. A lot of the intermediate trails were really hilly, so I got in some good climbing practice. I think I have room to improve in that area. I noticed I'm still not leaning forward into my glides as much as I should, and as a result, they are shorter and less efficient. Practice, practice, practice...

Another neat thing about Harris Farms is they have two friendly dogs that hang out at the ski center. They sometimes greet you when you approach from the trails. Dogs are cool.

Skate skied 10.4 kilometers @ 9.7 kph/avg.
Trails, well groomed.
Very hilly.
Mid to lower 30s, sunny.
Long pants, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Faster But Still Slow

Another skate ski today at Harris Farm. Conditions were better than yesterday, but still very slow. I ventured on to some of the trails less taken, which was slow going as there was much more loose snow on some of those sections. That definitely slowed the overall pace down considerably. I'd say it's the running equivalent of running through thick mud.

However, the more popular trails were much more manageable, but still slow as it was snowing while I was skiing and had been doing so for a few hours before I arrived. They had groomed the trails earlier, but it's hard to keep up with mother nature.

Set a new distance PR today. Overall, I felt great. The breaks to catch my breath, while still numerous, continue to be taken less frequently.

Skate skied 9.3 kilometers @ 8.9 kph/avg.
Trails with fresh, loose snow. Slow conditions.
Very hilly.
Lower 30s, overcast, moderate to light snowfall throughout.
Long pants, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

And Still the Snow Falls

After getting over a foot of snow in a storm that ended yesterday, today saw more of it falling for at least a few more inches. Thank goodness for XC skiing. Without it, on days like today I would have opted to workout inside in the gym. I'd much rather do something outside.

That being said, conditions weren't ideal. With a moderate snowfall falling all day, it would have been impossible for the groomers to keep up with the trails. So, conditions were quite slow, with a good two to three inches of unpacked snow coating most of the trails.

I started off exploring some intermediate trails, but it was obvious they were less packed than the other more popular trails. As a result, the first kilometer was quite slow.

I headed back to the popular Joe Buzzell Lane trail, and shortly afterwards while taking a break before a climb, I watched a woman fly past me with pretty good speed. Ah, okay. Sure the conditions are slowing things down, but it's not a total excuse.

So, off I went and thankfully the JBL trail was indeed pretty skiable. Opted to take a small section of black diamond trail on the Deer Run trail back, before it turned back to intermediate. That was on a downhill, and fun to fly down!

Decided to call it a day after that, as I knew the drive home was going to be a bit of a white knuckle drive with snow conditions and I wanted to beat most of the "rush hour" traffic, if such a thing exists in rural Maine. Planning on returning tomorrow.

Skate skied 5.5 kilometers @ 8.4 kph/avg.
Trails with a 2-3 inches of unpacked snow. Very slow conditions.
Moderately hilly.
Upper 20s, overcast, snowing moderately throughout.
Long pants, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Mini-Me of Yesterday

I still ran in the morning and skied in the afternoon like I did yesterday, only shorter and slower on both fronts to allow for recovery. I woke up feeling pleasantly sore from yesterday. Keeping things in check wouldn't be a problem.

Just did an out and back in the woods behind my house. Pretty uneventful. Saw a guy walking his black lab, and I stopped to say hello and pet the dog. Also saw two women snowshoeing, though the trails were packed and snowshoes were far from necessary.

Ran 4.6 miles @ 8:58/mile pace.
Snowmobile trails, well packed.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 20s to mid 30s, partly sunny.
Brooks Cascadia 3 (screw shoes), long pants, fleece jacket, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

In Between Run and Ski
Came home. Lounged around. Took a nap.

Left the house around 1pm and hit Harris Farms. I bought my season pass there, and was pleasantly surprised that they credited the money from my day pass a week and a half ago towards the season pass. They did so without any prompting from me. That's what I love about Mom and Pop operations. Plus, the family that owns it is just super nice. And, the trail network there is excellent for cross country skiing (check out their trail map below)! I can't say enough nice things about this place.

Unfortunately, the trails were a bit icy. However, that was already changing while I was skiing, as a moderate to heavy snow started to fall. And, additionally we're supposed to get 6"-9" tonight and tomorrow. So, it should be great when I return tomorrow.

So, I just did a few kilometers on the Joe Buzzell trail. I didn't want to wipe myself out too badly and wanted to save myself for tomorrow when the conditions will no doubt be better. I was also pretty darn tired from the past two days. Still am. It's a great feeling.

Oh yeah, treated myself to a quart of their chocolate milk again afterwards.

Skate skied 3.1 kilometers @ 9.4 kph/avg.
Groomed trails, very icy and thin snow in many spots.
Moderately hilly.
Around 30 degrees, overcast, moderate to heavy snow.
Long pants, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Great Run, Great Ski

I had ambitions of getting in a trail running with the Trail Monster gang this morning, and following it up later with a cross country skate ski. It all went really well. Much better than expected actually. I had hoped for at least 10 miles running and at least 5k skiing, but I did more on both fronts and hit faster paces than I had expected to.

The Run
Had a good showing, with around 13 of us starting off and the distances for each varied. Ian, Jim, Nate, Blaine, Val, Rick, Erik, Randy, Lilly, and some others were all there, making for a fun crowd. I mostly ran with Ian and Nate, and the three of us got in a full 15 miles.

The trail conditions were superb. Despite warm temps the past few days, the trails were very well packed, making it easy to go faster. I was pleasantly surprised to see our overall pace when we ended (8:51/mile). Not bad at all for a trail run on snow and on some pretty gnarly hills. What was also great was it felt relatively easy. Felt great to be clicking on all cylinders.

Here's a little video of today's run:

Ran 15.0 miles @ 8:51/mile pace.
Snowmobile trails with well packed snow.
Very hilly.
20 degrees, rising to upper 30s. Sunny.
Brooks Cascadia 3 (screw shoes), long pants, windbreaker (shed after a couple of miles), long sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves (off and on).

In Between the Run and the Ski
After Bradbury, I headed to Stephen's house to visit him and his family. We drank coffee, had a beer, and played Call of Duty on his Playstation 3, doing our best to survive sniper attacks and machine gun fire from teenage kids who were way better than us.

The Ski
Arrived at Pineland Farms just after 1pm. Jim was going to maybe meet me here, but snowblower repairs thwarted his plans. Temperatures were now in the 40s, and I wondered what trail conditions would be like. I ran into my friend James, who had just wrapped up a session with his daughter and some of her friends. He said the conditions weren't too bad, but recommended I ski the Oak Hill side, so I did that.

I felt great and continued to feel in very good control and felt I was much more efficient. I stuck to the green trails, but even then, these were pretty hilly (at least to me!). Still, I continued to improve all around, as evidenced by nearly identical overall speed as last weekend, despite hillier terrain, going farther, and having done a run earlier in the day.

Darn good day.

Skate skied 8.4 kilometers @ 10.4 kph (6.5mph)
Groomed trails, icy and pretty fast.
Moderately hilly.
Lower 40s, sunny.
Long pants, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Carpe Tepidus

A warm day today, with highs in the lower 40s. Since days like this are very few and far between during the winter here in Maine, barefoot/minimal footwear training outdoors is quite difficult and sporadic.

I took advantage of the weather and got in a good road run in the Vibram Five Finger Sprints. Running on the roads in these shoes requires a bit more care than the trails due to the hard surface. I did a little over five miles in them, which is about my upper limit in them on the roads for now. Can't move to quickly in them yet either. That'll all increase as the opportunities arrive when the weather starts to warm up this spring, but of course I'll take great care to make sure I'm gently ramping things up.

Also felt good to run in shorts. However, I'm thankful we'll be dropping back down to seasonable temperatures this weekend, and get in a bit of snow. That'll bode well for XC skiing, which I plan on doing a lot of this weekend.

Ran 5.3 miles @ 8:34/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Lower 40s, partly cloudy, breezy.
VFF Sprints, shorts, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Cross Training Day

Hit the elliptical at the school's gym. Good workout. Our district is holding a "Biggest Loser" competition for teachers and faculty, so the gym was packed. That's a good thing. I know another school district that held the competition last year and it was a huge success. Looks to be the same in our area so far.

Weather is supposed to be warm tomorrow with a high temp around 40. Might be able to do a road run in the Vibrams!

Elliptical: 6.7 miles in 30 minutes. Random hill setting. Level 10 out of 16.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Long Live Raw Garlic

I sped up beating that nasty head cold with a remedy that really works well for me: raw garlic and orange juice. Yesterday afternoon I crushed two cloves of raw garlic and minced them up, ate them raw and chased them down with a big glass of orange juice. Did the same before I went to bed and again when I woke up this morning.

It tastes nasty. It makes you smell. But it works.

By the afternoon today, I knew I was perfectly fine for a run. I had actually forgot to pack my jacket and gloves, so running from my work like I normally do was not really an option. So, I just high tailed it home, quickly changed, and immediately hit the woods out back to ensure I'd have enough daylight to get in 7-8 miles. I did bring the headlamp just in case, but I didn't need it.

The run went very well. I just took it easy, not pushing it too hard and running by feel. Pace was very good for this route. The snowmobile trails were well packed, allowing for relatively good speed. There was only one small section probably about a quarter of a mile long with no
snowmobile traffic to lay down the trail, but I hopped through it just fine.

Ran 7.8 miles @ 9:14/mile pace.
Snowmobile trails with well packed snow.
Very hilly.
Mid 20s, partly sunny turning to overcast.
Brooks Cascadia 3 (screw shoes), long pants, fleece jacket, long sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Stupid Cold

Not the weather, the sickness. Just as I had good momentum going with the training the past few weeks, it's been thwarted by coming down with a nasty head cold, forcing me to take yesterday and today off from doing anything other than work.

Ah, but could be worse. It's not the flu. Few days off shouldn't hurt the training much, it's more just wanting to do it is all. Maybe tomorrow I'll be good enough to do something, but will play it by ear.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Capping Off a Well Rounded Week

I hit Twin Brooks with Jim D. this morning to get in some skate skiing. Continued to improve a lot, and towards the end of the session, it was actually feeling easy. The needs to stop for a breather were less as the morning went on and I felt pretty fluid on the uphills, and continued to skate the flatter terrain and downhills with much more confidence.

It's been a very well rounded week, which is my goal this winter. Breakdown is as follows:

34.7 miles running
13.9 kilometers skate skiing.
6.4 miles elliptical.

The skiing distance is pretty unimpressive for someone who knows what they're doing, but that's not me yet. The effort put forth to get most of those kilometers equates to buttkicking workouts for me as I'm still learning. However, the tide may be starting to change there, as I continue to see big improvement and it's feeling easier.

That being said, I still have a lot to learn with skate skiing. Jim pointed out that I need to lean forward more when climbing, and he's right. And I noticed by watching my own shadow when the sun was at my back that I need to keep my poles closer in. I'm sure there's more.

Really great day though. Happy to have gotten out. Legs didn't really feel sore from yesterday, which was a nice surprise.

Skate skied 6.6km @ 10.5 kph/avg (6.5 mph).
Slightly hilly.
Well groomed trails (fields were great, woods were icy.. after one short section in the woods, we stuck to the fields).
Mid teens to around 20, sunny.
Long pants, fleece jacket, long sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Long Run in Powdery Snow = Slow

Ian, Erik and I headed down to Topsham, MA for the 12th Annual GAC Fat Ass 50k today. My plans were to run by feel, and I anticipated on getting at least 20 miles in, but hoped to do at least a marathon or the full 50k. I did pretty much the bare minimum of my goals, getting in 20.6 miles, but given the conditions (more on this later), this was just fine by me.

We arrived and immediately met up and got reacquainted with people we knew. George and Ann, who are also in Waterboro, were there. So was John O'Connor, and Michelle. And of course, several other members of the GAC crew. I view their running club as a neighboring, friendly tribe. They are super supportive and welcoming of our Trail Monster crew, and it's always nice to cheer them on at events here in Maine and elsewhere when we see them. Really good folks.

The run got underway at 9am and we were off. I had kind of hoped to run with Ian a bit, as we ran it together a couple of years ago. However, since then, he has gotten much faster and plus this was only my second run over 20 miles since June, so I knew I wouldn't have kept up with him anyway.

The first loop (each loop is 10k) went well, but I was really surprised at how loose the snow was. Given the temps in the mid-upper teens at the start (and would top out at 22 degrees F), the snow was very fine and powdery. Another runner would later say it was like running on sugar, which was very accurate. And as the day went on, you would think the trails would get packed down some with all the runners. In most sections, this wasn't really true. The snow simply got moved around. It was really tough. Snowshoes seriously would have been more appropriate. It was a great challenge though, and I enjoyed the extra effort.

I finished the first loop in about an hour and four minutes. Very slow, but not too bad given the conditions. I was feeling good, and given my breakfast of a large bowl of oatmeal, an orange and a banana, I wasn't really hungry just yet and my hand-held water bottle was still full so I checked in at the aid station and was immediately off.

Second loop went pretty well, but mid-way through I could tell I was starting to get tired. I continued running with a guy from South Africa named Blaise (pronounced like "Blaze"). Nice guy, and I enjoyed hearing his stories about the Comrades ultra and running in general on his home turf. John and I also ran together with some leapfrogging of each other thrown in.

Third loop was pretty slow going. I knew during this loop that I would finish this one up and tack on a few extra miles to get myself over 20 miles and call it a day. I was more than fine with this, given where I'm at in my training (i.e. lack of long runs). And, the level of difficulty with the snow was pretty darn big, so I was happy to get in a true long run in these conditions and do so relatively comfortably. It should serve as a good springboard for more long runs as I work on my base more here during the winter.

So, I finished the third loop with John, then I turned around and got in a couple of extra miles, and was happy to be done. Eric was now also done, and we chit-chatted with everyone while waiting for Ian, who ended up finishing with a marathon distance, which was awesome. Good day!

Didn't bring the video camera out with me, which was a good call due to all the wobbling while trying to run in that snow. Too bad, as it would have been fun to visually capture the trails. Next year...

Ran 20.6 miles @ 11:28/mile pace.
Trails, coated with fine, powdery snow.
Moderately hilly.
Mid-upper teens to lower 20s, sunny, windy.
Brooks Cascadia 3 (with screws), long pants, fleece jacket, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Not Sure What I Was Thinking

I don't know why I opted to workout inside today. It was nice outside... sunny and relatively warm (lower 30s). But yet, I brought only indoor clothes with the mindset of working out in the school's gym this afternoon. While it was a good workout, I think my line of (not) thinking was kind of stupid.

Anyway, did the elliptical for 30 minutes, while cranking Eisbrecher on the iPod. Afterwards, I tested out the school's new treadmill for a mile. I'm not fond of these things, but it was a good way to also cool down. I'm not used to running on them so I kept the pace very slow.

Also, I wore the Vibram Five Finger Sprints. This drew curious reactions from both students and the other staff. I couldn't help but notice the students were much more open minded overall about the logic behind wearing them. Smart kids.

Elliptical: 6.4 miles in 30 minutes. Random hill setting. Level 10 of 16.
Dreadmill: 1.0 miles in 10:00.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Slow Five

Felt pretty sore from the past two skate skiing ventures recently. Almost took my rest day today, but wanted to get outside so I compromised and just did five miles at a slow and easy pace. Will take a rest day tomorrow or Friday, depending on how I'm feeling.

Ran 5.0 miles @ 8:09/mile pace.
Paved roads, patches of ice and snow
Slightly hilly.
Upper 20s, sunny.
Asics GT-2140, long pants, fleece jacket, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Skate Skiing at Harris Farms

I just confirmed how lucky I am. I live just ten minutes away from Harris Farm, a full fledged working farm that grooms trails through it's woods and farmlands for cross country skiing in the winter.

I hit it after school for the first time, able to get in 7.3km. I'm still learning, and continued to make very good progress today. I made it up the uphills much more efficiently, which I was stoked about. And on leveler terrain and the downhills, I was able to pick up the pace with confidence.

The only thing that went wrong was today was I got a little lost. This was due to me not really paying attention to where I was going as well as I should have.

It all ended well, but it did stress me out a little when I thought I was close to the finishing point and realized I was actually a mile and a half away and the snow was picking up and the darkness was approaching. Ouch. However, because of this I opted to take a shortcut using some of the blue intermediate trails, a step up from the easy greens I was on, and I handled the hills fine. Great confidence builder, and I was quite pleased to finally reach the true finishing point.

Very pleased with how I did today. Pace would have been faster had I not have gotten a little lost there towards the end and slowed and stopped often to make sure I was getting back okay. But good day, and next time I'll know where I'm going.

This farm also produces their own milk. I picked up a quart of their chocolate milk afterwards, a well earned treat that was quite delicious!

Skate skied 7.3 kilometers @ 8.4 km/hour (5.2 mph)
Groomed trails, well packed and groomed, some icy patches.
Moderately hilly.
Lower 30s, overcast, snowing.
Long pants, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Better Than A Treadmill

With all the snow we've gotten in the past several days, I knew the roads around the town I teach in would be bad. So, I opted to run figure eights around the high school and adjacent junior high school, each lap totaling a little over a mile. That's better than the treadmill.

Ran 8.1 miles @ 8:20/mile pace.
Paved roads coated with slush.
Slightly hilly.
Around 30 degrees, partly cloudy.
Asics GT-2140, long pants, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Why Nordic Skiers Have Bigger Upper Bodies Than Runners

I experienced this first hand today. It was my third time XC skiing skate style. A bunch of the Trail Monster crew was present but Ryan graciously hung back with me and gave excellent instruction on how to make my skating more efficient. Jim also hung back and helped as well. Not necessary of them, but much appreciated.

Ryan REALLY helped out big time. Huge. I made big leaps and bounds in my progress today, refining my stride, and learning diagnol V-skate and V1 to get up the hills, all thanks to Ryan (and an assist from Jim). Those uphills were the buttkickers. Especially later in the session when I was tired and my form got a little sloppy. Ryan's instruction was top-notch. He explained things clearly and was also very encouraging. Thanks dude! I left today stoked at how much I learned.

I still have a ways to go and much to learn, but I am having a total blast with skate skiing. It's such a great workout all around (my pecs and triceps are noticably sore, I'm sure they'll be more so when I wake up tomorrow). Really, really fun.

I can now fully appreciate this clip:

XC Skate skied 4.7 kilometers @ 7.7kph/avg.
AHR/MHR - N/A (heart rate would have been sky high, that's for sure!)
Groomed trails (some said they were kind of slow conditions)
Slightly hilly (by running standards)
Upper 20s to lower 30s, cloudy, snowing.
Long pants, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, long sleeved shirt,

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Short Snowshoe Out Back

Too much powdery snow has fallen to really break trail with XC skis, and definitely too much to attempt something to resemble running, so that only means one thing: snowshoes!

Neighbor Kate headed out with me but we didn't go too far, as she's not feeling well. But we had a good out and back trek at a slow pace, and saw several fresh deer tracks in the snow. At least one even took advantage of our packed trail, we saw it's tracks laid over ours on the way back.

Neighbor Kate

The fireroad (our turn around point)

Snowshoed 3.0 miles @ ???/pace.
Trails with 6"-8" of fresh powder.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 20s, overcast, snowing.
Long pants, Goretex jacket, long sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Kicking Off the New Year With a Run and a Ski

The New Year begins! Headed out for a great little trail run. Rather than write about it, here's a video:

Ran 7.0 miles @ 9:35/mile pace (includes a few stops to shoot footage)
Trails, coated with a thin layer of unpacked snow, icy at times.
Very hilly.
Upper 20s, overcast, light snow at end of run.
Brooks Cascadia 3 (screw shoes), long pants, fleece jacket, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

On the way back from the run, I saw the grooved tracks left by somebody who XC skied in and took another path. Hmmmm. Sounded good. I went home, refueled on homemade beef stew and homemade bread, grabbed my classic skis and drove down to the main trail head.

Unfortunately, the snow was pretty sticky. My classic skis are really old and beat up, and in desperate need of waxing. They're great for just tooling around though, which is all I really care to do with this kind of thing. I have the skate skis for the serious stuff (though I have a long way to go with those and much to learn). Anywho, it was fun to go a few kilometers in them, even if I couldn't really get a good glide going and it was slow.

XC skied (classic style) 4.3 kilometers @ 11:11/km pace.
Trails, coated with a thin layer of unpacked snow.
Mostly flat.
Lower 30s, overcast, light snow.
Long pants, windbreaker, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.