Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Heat Wave

Tomorrow will begin the month of September, and yet another day well into the 90s. This is Maine, right? I'm sorry, I thought I was back in Florida. But enough sarcasm. At least cooler weather is on the way this weekend, and hopefully this will be the last stretch of temps in the 90s until next summer.

But for now, I opted to do a double today to get in the mileage and help break up the running to make it easier to beat the heat.

I was out the door around 5am and temps were in the lower 60s, which was very tolerable. I hit the trails in the woods out back, as my headlamp guided the way. The sun still showed no signs of rising, so it was very dark and I did manage to trip on a root and fall once, but not that bad.

Further into the woods, I heard a barred owl let out a single, long and loud hoot from a few tenths of a mile away. Not sure if it was directed at me, but it added to the Zen-like ambience of the early morning.

About halfway through the run, the sun began to rise, and increasingly lit the way as I headed back home to shower and have a few cups of coffee before work.

Ran 5.0 miles @ 9:09/mile pace.
Trails and fire roads.
Slightly hilly.
Lower 60s, clear skies.
Brooks Cascadia 3, shorts, short sleeved shirt, headlamp.

Things a bit hap-hazard in the afternoon, as the athletic director ordered practices be held at 6pm because of the heat wave. It was 95 degrees at the normal practice time of 2pm, so good call in my opinion.

The XC team was to run the trails adjacent to the school at their own paces and on their own reconnaissance, which worked out well for me as I was able to repeat a one mile loop around the school to check up on them and also get in my own workout.

Ran 5.0 miles @ 7:25/mile pace.
Paved roads and paved paths.
Mostly flat.
Mid-80s, sunny, humid.
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Oh yeah, I looked at my monthly total for August. Today's two runs brought me up to 244.2 miles for the month. Not bad for me, and chocked full of quality workouts to boot.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Capping off a 70+ Mile Week

Feels great to be able to hit a relatively high mileage week with 71.8 miles total. It went well, full of solid workouts, most notably the tempo run on Tuesday and yesterday's long run.

I consider this kind of mileage my redline. Doing this mileage on a weekly basis only increases the chance of injury significantly, at least for me. However, doing them every now and then does have great benefits, especially if I'm smart about how I do them and pull back to allow recovery. With that in mind, will take it easy the first half of next week.

Purpose of today's run was to shake the legs loose after yesterday's long run. Opted to hit the trails in the woods out back now that the deer flies have waned considerably. I felt a few out there, but not many at all and they were not an issue. They're usually gone by the first week of September, so glad to see they're on schedule for going away, despite an awful season where they got an early start and were numerous and aggressive for much of this summer.

Run itself went quite well. Took my time trotting along and was really stoked to see about a dozen other runners out there on the fire road section! In an area where most people don't take to the trails unless they're on something with a gas motor, this was great to see. Turns out I even knew one of them, a fellow educator who I had a grad school class with a year and a half ago. Hope the trend continues!

Ran 6.6 miles @ 9:37/mile pace.
Trails, fire roads.
Very hilly.
Upper 60s to upper 70s, sunny.
Brooks Cascadia 3, shorts, singlet.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Long Run to Beat the Heat Wave

Yet another heat wave starting tomorrow, so I decided a few days ago to do my long run today as opposed to Sunday. Good call, as it was a beautiful morning. While it did warm to the upper 70s at the end of the run, the air was still very pretty dry so it didn't seem bad at all.

Run started out fine on a few miles of relatively flat roads. My rhythm felt a bit off until I started hitting the real hills around four or five miles in when the climb up Deering Ridge began. At that point, I felt more comfortable.

Witnessed something quite sad about nine miles into the run while I was on a dirt road in the woods. I saw a very mangy fox or small coyote laying on the road. It was in such bad shape I really couldn't tell which. It struggled to get away, and it looked very, very sick. Heartbreaking to see. Didn't look like it was hit by a car, just really ill. Considered calling animal control, but doubt they would have cared much since it was in the woods after all. Nature just has to do it's thing, as sad as it is to see sometimes.

A few miles later, swung by the house and drank some water really quickly and was off again. I was now a little over halfway done, doing the hilliest section first. This was by design, as I just wanted to have a successful long run.

A good sign on the second half though as the speed picked up on the now easier section.  Eight of the last ten miles were all sub-8:00/mile, with the last seven miles acting as a progression whittling down to a 7:11 split for the last mile, and though tired, it still felt pretty easy at the same time. Last ten miles turned out to be a 7:44/mile pace average.

Very successful run. Already over 65 miles for the week, recovery run tomorrow should put me over 70.

Ran 21.1 miles @ 7:55/mile pace.
Paved and dirt roads.
Moderately hilly.
Upper 50s to upper 70s, sunny.
Saucony Kinvaras, shorts, sleeveless shirt, cap.

Click to enlarge

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Run and a Hike

Run broken up into two segments, as I ran to the cemetery with the XC team and then back. This was their warm-up and cool down for their hill repeats. Equated to two short runs about an hour or so apart at an easy pace for me.

Ran 2.1 miles @ 7:51/mile pace.
Ran 2.1 miles @ 8:14/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Lower 60s to lower 70s, sunny.
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, short sleeved shirt, hand held bottle (Water.

Pic taken with Retro Camera app (Android)

Ah, the real fun. After practice, we took the XC team up to Mt. Chocorua for a hike. Big fun. Their legs were tired from the hill repeats, and also sticking together meant a pretty slow pace going up and down. While not a very strenuous workout for me, it was blast doing the hike with the kids. We all had a lot of fun and it was a great team building activity.

Will still count the hiking mileage as running mileage, as I'm guessing heart rate wise it equated to a recovery run. Elevation gain was around 2200 feet over 3.8 miles.

Hiked 7.6 miles in 4:35:41 (includes all stops)
Mountain trails.
Insanely hilly.
Lower 70s at trailhead, lower 60s and windy at summit.
Asics Trail Attacks, shorts, short sleeved shirt, windbreaker (summit), Mountain Hardware Bepop backpack.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Trails and the Track

The cross country team met up at McDougal Orchards, where our home meets take place. The kids ran the course a few times, while the head coach, Smitty, and I did the same but explored a new possible route that would take advantage of a better section of trail.

We said on the onset that we'd run slow. And while we certainly were far from booking it, we weren't exactly running slow either. The trails are somewhat technical, but what makes them unique are the short and steep hills throughout. Made for a good workout and we set a pretty good pace considering the course.

Ran 3.0 miles @ 8:27/mile pace.
Very hilly.
Upper 60s to lower 70s, sunny, humid.
Asics Trail Attacks, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Hit the local high school track in the afternoon for 800M repeats. Truth be told, I had planned on doing the full Yasso 800 workout (10 reps). However, I only ended up doing half of that. Shortly into the workout, I got to thinking that the full deal might be a bit much if I want to do a successful long run on Saturday. Monday's tough tempo workout on hills also factored into the decision. Plus, have a pretty big hike with the XC team on tap for tomorrow.

Of course, making such decisions in the middle of a workout always make me wonder if I'm simply wussing out because the workout is tough. Yes, the workout was darn tough.. especially in the heat (still in the 80s after 5pm), but I'm at peace with the choice. And it was still a good, beneficial workout, even if abbreviated.

6.0 miles total.
w/u - 1.0 miles @ 7:22/mile pace.
5 X 800s w/ ~2:50 light jogging between intervals. 2:50, 2:51, 2:50, 2:51, 2:55.
c/d - 1.3 miles @ 8:00/mile pace.
Lower 80s, partly cloudy, humid.
Saucony Kinvara, shorts.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Steady Rain

Fun (and tough) XC practice for the team this morning as they did 400M repeats in a steady rain. Afterwards, I headed out for my own run. Ran six at an easy pace. Pretty uneventful other than the cool rain felt great to run in.

Planning on doing hill repeats with the team tomorrow and running them hard for my weekly speed workout.

Ran 6.0 miles @ 7:48/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Lower 60s, steady light to moderate rain.
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, windbreaker (shed after two miles), short sleeved shirt, cap.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

This Run Went to Eleven

Set out today on a very hilly route on the backroads from my house that's a little over eleven miles. Wanted to do marathon pace or faster, depending on how I was feeling.

Despite some initial sluggishness due to mowing down three brownies a few hours prior to the run (shouldn't I have learned my diet lessons by now?), I was able to keep the pace up and surprised myself a little at the results. Big climbs the first half of the route which were challenging, but the subsequent downhill and two miles of relative flatness to the end were pretty nice.

Great run and a great confidence builder. Not only that, runs like this put more hay in the barn. Really happy this one and am patting myself on the back a bit. Easy run tomorrow and speed workout Thursday.

Ran 11.3 miles @ 6:59/mile pace.
Paved and dirt roads.
Very hilly.
Upper 60s, overcast.
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, short sleeved shirt, hand held bottle (diluted lemonade).

Monday, August 23, 2010

XC Season

Cross country season has begun! Actually, it officially started last week, but I had to miss that because of the summer job (which has now ended). Felt really nice to be with the team again. Honored to be an assistant coach in a well run program with a great group of kids and a XC guru for a head coach.

I went ahead on the two mile warmup and reached the cemetery and ran an additional two miles there while the others arrived. Helped time the kids on their time trials, then ran the two miles back.

The run over is only slightly hilly, but the one mile course at the cemetery is actually very hilly.  Makes for a great workout. Felt much better than I did yesterday, confirming the bad breakfast theory. Today, had a fruit smoothie and felt 100%.

Ran 4.0 miles @ 6:49/mile pace. (pre-practice)
Ran 2.1 miles @ 7:07/mile pace. (post-practice)
Paved roads.
Moderately hilly.
Around 60 degrees, overcast, light rain.
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Breakfast Really is the Most Important Meal of the Day

Breakfast the past few months has mostly been homemade fruit smoothies, or occasionally a bowl of healthy cereal and a piece of fruit like a banana. I didn't realize I had neither this morning until it was time to eat. In fact, my cupboards and fridge were quite bare, as I've just been pretty busy the past several days and haven't had time to go food shopping.

All I did have was leftover homemade pizza. Without thinking much due to hunger, I quickly reheated a couple of slices in the toaster oven and mowed them down.  Ten minutes later, I was out the door for a long run.

Bad idea.

I actually started off okay the past few miles, thinking I would get better as I warmed up. After several miles, it became obvious that wasn't going to happen. Just the opposite, in fact. It felt like I had a nerf ball of dough and cheese just sitting in my stomach while I ran. I felt pretty crappy.

When I reached the Saco River, I decided I would cut the run down from a planned 20+ miles and just head back the most direct route and call it a day. I was just glad the run was over with. Surprised my pace was what it was, I expected it to be at least 15 seconds slower per mile.

On a bright note, this was supposed to be an exaggerated recovery week anyway. Just leaves more for next week. Just need to stock up on some healthy grub, particularly breakfast stuff, and everything should be fine for hitting it harder in the days to come.

Ran 15.4 miles @ 8:11/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Moderately hilly.
Upper 60s, overcast, humid.
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, short sleeved shirt, handheld bottle (water)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

National Trail Running Day

I celebrated National Trail Running Day with a run on the Bradbury Bruiser course with the Trail Monsters. Really good run. Just looking at the overall pace, it looks slow, but it's hard to run "fast" on this course due in large part to the twists and turns, primarily in the Lanzo and the dreaded O-Trail sections. Pretty rocky and rooty to boot. Effort overall was pretty moderate, despite the seemingly slow pace.

Great time. Weather was awesome this morning. Talked with Jeff quite a bit during the run. We're both running October marathons and both of our training plans have been coming together nicely, so it's been fun lately to compare notes with him.

Would write more, but have a lot of cleaning to do before my mum comes into town tomorrow.

Ran 12.0 miles @ 10:01/mile pace.
Rugged, twisty trails.
Moderately hilly.
Lower 50s to mid 60s, sunny.
Brooks Cascadia 3, shorts, short sleeved shirt, handheld bottle (water).

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Another Short Progression Run

Had originally wanted to do at least ten miles today but time constraints got the better of me. Was originally going to take tomorrow off, but since today's run was short, I'll try to get in another short 5-6 miles if I get back from Boston in time (field trip with the kids I'm mentoring).

The route I ran today, know as the Dump Loop, basically features a pretty big and gradual climb until midpoint followed by a little bit of a sharper downhill on a dirt road before leveling out the last 8/10 of a mile or so.

Pace progressed pretty nicely, and I don't mean to sound like I'm boasting or anything, but hitting the faster paces on this run and all runs recently has felt pretty easy. I had run mile five in 6:45 pretty effortlessly and then ran the last 6/10 of a mile at a 6:06/mile pace and felt great. Granted, some gravity assistance on mile five, but that area is actually a bit more rolling rather than all downhill. It's great to see my training plan truly working and coming together with results that are pleasantly surprising me so far.

Worth noting that there were no deer flies on that dirt road section. Despite it once again being quite warm out, they were non-existant. I'm sure they're still active in parts, but usually they're gone for the season in the first week of September, so their days are definitely numbered. Woohoo!

Ran 5.6 miles @ 7:25/mile pace.
Paved and dirt roads.
Very hilly.
Upper 70s, sunny.
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Pain and Agony of Rest Days

After much deliberation, I opted to take a rest day today. I feel fine and recovery from the Pemi Loop run is going super. No soreness left, not even in my quads. But I think only running every other day until the weekend is probably smart.

I'd rather play things safe here. The marathon is now just two months away (holy crap!). The hay has been piling nicely in the barn and I want to keep the momentum going, which is why using this week as an exaggerated recovery week is somewhat of a paradox. Laying off this week hurts the momentum mentally, but by doing so, physically it should surely help build to it. Looking at my training logs, I've taken a similar approach the week after the past several Pemi runs, and it's boded quite well.

There, now that I've typed that, I feel somewhat vindicated.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Short Progression Run

Decided for a bit of a change of scenery today, so instead of running when I got home from my summer gig, I ran right from the school when I was done. Ran my five mile loop that goes through Sanford and Springvale.

Intent was to run today and all this week at an easy pace to insure proper recovery from Saturday's Pemi Loop run. Just some minor soreness in the quads, but nothing bad at all.

Splits ended up being 8:14, 8:00, 7:49, 7:18, 6:27. The speed increase came easily, but will try to be more disciplined with the pace at least until the end of the week. Slower is probably better for the next few days.

Ran 5.0 miles @ 7:35/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Upper 80s, partly cloudy.
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, singlet.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

When Tree Swallows Attack

My run started out as anticipated... a low-key, barefoot recovery run on the athletic fields at the local high school with comfortable temperatures and a steady breeze blowing.  A few hundred yards into the run, I noticed a flock of tree swallows acrobatically darting through the air, chasing one another and flying low to the ground while searching for insects. Their speed and agility was quite fascinating. This is pretty neat, I thought. How lucky I was to once again view nature in its glory.

As I wrapped myself in these thoughts and was on the verge of a hippy folk song entering my head to reflect the mood, I noticed about 100 feet ahead one of these swallows was at eye level and flying right at me. I grew increasingly concerned as it showed no signs of slowing or changing its path. Its chirping sound that I had found so cute just moments ago was now growing louder and louder as it approached. It all happened so fast and the little bastard didn't swerve away until it was literally two feet from my face!

I cowered my hands over my face and ducked, avoiding getting hit. "Holy crap!", I exclaimed and cautiously ran on. The birds still flew overhead, and I imagined them monitoring me, but I moved out of the area and felt safe... for a while.

Unfortunately, each lap around the fields is just a bit more than a half a mile, so that meant I'd pass back by the area where the birds were hanging out quite a few times. Long story short, I was dive bombed three more times. The other interesting attack to note was when I was watching two potential aggressors to my left closely, only to hear a crescendoing bird chirp to my right and turned to see a bird flanking me and swerving two feet from my face again right as I turned. I was so startled I nearly fell.

I was thankful to have good reflexes, as they were needed during this run. I was perhaps a bit of a dumbass for running through that same area where they were attacking, but it was kind of fun. And it was somewhat comforting to know that there are much bigger dumbasses out there with reflexes equally as good:

Ran 3.1 miles @ 10:00/mile pace.
Grassy fields.
Lower 70s, mostly cloudy, breezy.
Barefoot, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Pemi Loop Mountain Run

Photo stolen and used without permission from Jeff Walker

A grand day on the Pemi Loop yesterday, a challenging 33+ mile mountain run in the White Mountains that included two side peaks (for half of us). What an awesome time. I'm still reveling in how much fun it was. Challenging route, great weather, and most importantly, a great group of folks. Jeff, Jim, Joe, Greg and Dave and I pushed the pace at times, but casually so. Nobody was setting out for any speed records and we took our time enjoying the views on the summits while waiting to regroup, but still finished the loop in a respectable time. 

Route: Did it counter-clockwise starting from Lincoln Woods, and added the side trips to West Bond and Galehead. 
Time: 11:59:15 Total Miles33.3 
Total Elevation: 9760' gain (19,520' gain + loss) 
Peaks (in order): Bondcliff (4265'), Bond (4698'), West Bond (4540'), South Twin (4902'), Galehead (4024'), Garfield (4500'), Lafayette (5260'), Lincoln (5089'), Liberty(4459') and Flume (4328')

Here's a quick play-by-play, and a video!

Section: Lincoln Woods to Bondcliff
Miles: 9.1
Time: 2:10:57
Notes: Started at 7am, probably the latest I have ever started the loop, but even with the quickly shortening days we still had ample daylight throughout. We got through the boring 4.5 mile section of Wilderness Trail, which is a flat, converted railroad bed that still has several railroad ties in place. We soon rejoiced when hitting the turnoff to head up Bondcliff and enjoyed the climb up, especially when we got above treeline to take in the views.

Section: Bondcliff to Bond
Miles: 1.2 (10.3 total)
Time: 35:26
Notes: Pretty steep climb up to Bond. Fun to look down on Bondcliff from there.

Section: Bond to West Bond
Miles: 1.0 (11.3)
Time: 23:04
Notes: West Bond isn't part of the traditional loop, but I always like to tag it since it's only an extra mile total to get there. Dave, Joe and Greg also tagged it, but Jeff and Jim opted to skip it.

Section: West Bond to South Twin
Miles: 3.3 (14.6)
Time: 59:34
Notes: Steady, gradual climb that isn't terribly strenuous for most of the way. We just bopped along.

Section: South Twin to Galehead
Miles: 1.3 (15.9)
Time: 49:49
Notes: Wicked steep downhill to the hut. Once there, Greg, Dave and I dropped our packs to tag Galehead, while the others waited. Like West Bond, this peak isn't part of the traditional loop, but it's also just a short trek to bag another peak, so why not? No views from the summit itself.

Section: Galehead to Garfield
Miles: 3.4 (19.3)
Time: 1:36:41
Notes: After tagging Galehead, we stopped at the hut for several minutes to refuel with food and fluids. Bought some lemonade from the hut, which was quite good. Refilled our hydration bladders and bottles and were off. Rolling traverse for a while and then a VERY steep and grueling climb up Garfield. Heat of the day is kicking in now and we're sweating like mad. Stopped at the spring near the primitive campground just down a bit from the summit. The mountain water was like sweet mana from heaven. Hydrated here as much as my stomach would allow and topped off my hydration bladder and bottles, as this is the last place we'd fill up for the day. I became quite chilly here, as my sweat drenched shirt was meeting the cooler and breezier air from the higher altitude. Was glad to get going again.

Section: Garfield to Lafayette
Miles: 3.5 (22.8)
Time: 1:33:19
Notes: The section from hell. It's hot, and there are quite a few ups and downs before you begin the real ascent up Lafayette. This section always seems to take forever whenever I do it. However, once the grueling climb brought us above treeline, it's a mental second wind once you take in the views that translates over to a physical one.

Section: Lafayette to Lincoln
Miles: .9 (23.7)
Time: 33:22

Notes: We waited on the summit quite a bit for the others to catch up, which was fine by me as I didn't mind the rest and it gave me a chance to refuel with peanut butter sandwiches. Got very chilly up here, and I put on my windbreaker, which provided ample warmth. The others arrived, and soon we were off.

Section: Lincoln to Liberty
Miles: 2.9 (26.6)
Time: 57:56
Notes: Pretty long stretch here. We were all pretty tired now and the conversation was pretty minimal.

Section: Liberty to Flume
Miles: 1.2 (27.8)
Time: 31:24
Notes: A real treat as we were ascending Flume and we ran into my friend Al not too far from the summit. He knew were doing the loop, and timed his trek well to meet us. He shared some water, which was welcome. My water bladder was about empty, and I still had a handheld bottle of Gatorade, which was plenty for the rest of the trip, but it was good insurance.

Section: Flume to the Finish
Miles: 5.5 (33.3)
Time: 1:47:45
Notes: I noticed at the summit a member of our group was bonking pretty badly and was very low on energy. Normally a very talkative fellow, he was quite silent and had that gazed over, empty look of someone who was completely exhausted. Fortunately, we were on the final downhill to the finish, which is overall a really easy and pleasant section. I opted to hang back with him to keep him company and make sure he made it down safely. I gave him my remaining Gatorade, as I felt fine hydration wise (thanks in part to Al sharing his water). After a few miles, we reached the really runnable sections, and he began talking more and was now running again for stretches and taking walk breaks. We shared some good conversations, and continued to slowly run-walk to the end, and still broke 12 hours. 

Afterwards, we washed up in the river. Felt nice to just lay in the cold water and get an ice bath of sorts for the legs. We then headed just down to the road into Lincoln, where we mowed down on pizza before heading back. 

Here's a roughly edited compilation of the footage I took on most of the peaks of yesterday's trek:

Friday, August 13, 2010

Hors d'œuvre

Short and quick 5k run, with the only intent of keeping the legs loose. A mere appetizer before a really big mountain run tomorrow with a group of friends. Weather looks excellent for the trek. Can't wait!

Ran 3.1 miles @ 7:15/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 70s, sunny.
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Run to the River

Good medium run down to the Saco River and back, taking the shortest, most direct lollipop loop. Felt okay overall. Pretty creaky the first few miles, likely the cumulative result of Sunday's race and yesterday's mile repeats, but nothing bad. After warmed up, just ran along at an easy pace.

Very short run tomorrow to save the legs for a Pemi Loop run on Saturday.

Ran 14.4 miles @ 8:01/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Moderately hilly.
Mid 70s to lower 60s, partly cloudy.
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, short sleeved shirt, hand-held water bottle (water)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Mile Repeats

Ah, the track. Seems like I haven't been there in ages. Two and a half weeks, I think? Reason being some races were substituted for speed workouts the past few weeks. But it was nice to return, and in a different atmosphere to boot. School is not far away from starting, and adjacent to the high school track, football workouts were going on the athletic fields while the cheerleaders also rehearsed ("Be! Agressive! B! E! Aggressive! B-E A-G-G-R-E-S-S-I-V-E!")

I had a root canal earlier in the afternoon, so with my mouth still numb from Novocain, I drooled a bit more than usual during the workout.  It went well though. In fact, a little too well in the sense that it seemed too easy. I did some research the past few nights and asked for advice on the RunningAhead forums on how best to structure mile repeats for marathon training.

I came to the consensus that 5 X 1 mile repeats at 10k race pace with four minutes rest would be a good place to start. The caveat is that I really don't know what my 10k race pace is. I went ahead and guessed maybe around 6:30-6:40/mile, so tried for that.

First mile was well below that. Second one was also, and at that point I decided screw it. I'll just run them somewhat fast since it felt somewhat challenging yet comfortable. Even then it was too comfortable. I averaged 5:59/mile with the pace increasing or staying the same with each rep. I'm wondering if I should decrease the rest in between each rep next time, and/or increase the reps. It just didn't kick my butt the same way Yasso 800s did. Any thoughts or suggestions are appreciated.

After the workout, ran a cooldown barefoot on the athletic fields. Felt good. Looking to do a medium run tomorrow at an easy pace.

Warm up: 1.0 mile @ 7:27/mile pace.
5 X 1 mile w/ four minutes rest: 6:08, 6:05, 5:57, 5:57, 5:48
Cool down: 1.4 miles @ 8:33/mile pace. Barefoot.
Upper to mid 70s, partly cloudy.
Saucony Kinvara, shorts.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Looking Ahead

An uneventful five miles at an easy pace this evening for a recovery run. Feeling great after yesterday's race. No soreness, aches, creakiness, etc. Good sign.

Will take my weekly rest day tomorrow. That'll help me rest up as Wednesday I'm planning on mile repeats at the track. That should be a good workout. Looking forward to it, have a feeling I'll break my mile PR, which shouldn't be too hard (5:31 on a hilly mile course at a cemetery).

Looking back on my training logs, I've been doing a lot of things right, but there are still some things I need to work on. For one is mileage. I've only been averaging in the mid-40s. I don't need (nor want) to get up in the 70-80 mile range like I do for ultras, but I do want to start consistently getting in the 50s for mileage. I've actually hit that a few times if I would start my training weeks on Sundays instead of Mondays, but still, would like to see it on my standardly structured weeks.

To make that happen, it won't take much. Need to consistently crank out a medium run of around 15 miles mid-week and/or do a double. But, I need to make it happen.

However, I am patting myself on the back a bit for getting in a lot of quality speed and tempo work the past few months. I'm still re-teaching my legs that speedier stuff and making good progress, and on the longer runs, my legs definitely are remembering, which is good. Also have been very good about doing ab workouts 5-6 days a week and push-ups three days a week.

Haven't written about weight in a while. That's because it's no longer a concern. Been averaging around 173-174 lbs. lately, which is right where I want to be (I was at 192 at the beginning of summer). The metabolism can handle eating more food now, and in fact it's demanding it, and all without gaining any weight. That affords more liberty in food choices as well, but overall I've still been eating really healthy. However, it is nice to once again occasionally indulge in some ice cream or a beer that isn't light.

Ran 5.4 miles @ 7:52/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Mostly flat.
Around 80 degrees, overcast, muggy.
Saucony Kinvaras, shorts, singlet.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Big Fun at the Bradbury Breaker: A Race Report

Before I weave my own tale, I'd be remiss to not give a big thanks right off the bat to Ian and his sidekick Ryan for putting on one hell of an event. Ian's passion for trail running is a driving force for the several successful races he puts on. Maine is damn lucky to have him. This race was, like all the others, was big fun.

And check out the t-shirt that Ian designed, which is the best I have ever seen of any race, anywhere:

Race strategy for the Bradbury Breaker 9-mile Trail Race: start conservative, end faster. Whenever I've been disciplined enough to do this in the past, it's always boded well, especially in marathons and ultras. Whenever I've done the opposite (which should be re-worded to "start fast, blow engine and struggle to the finish line if you even make it there"), it's sucked royally.

I executed the strategy well today (the first strategy), deciding pretty much last minute this was how I was going to run it. The only caveat is that I think I could have pressed a little harder there in the beginning and gotten a slightly faster time. Probably not by much though. But as a result, I had a blast and felt very comfortable and sincerely had a lot of fun throughout the race. 

0-3 Miles
The race started and we were off. I started about four or five rows back, and in the first quarter of a mile I let quite a few pass me with no worries. I was concerned beforehand about it being crowded at the beginning, but it was never bad at all. Plenty of room.

After the first mile, things stretched out a little more. We hit some uphills on the Boundary Trail and I easily passed quite a few folks who were huffing and puffing from going out too fast. Throughout the race, I used the uphills to my advantage, since I'm above average on climbs. Here it was even easier though.

The field continued to stretch out, and here and there I'd run with a few people, but make a move on an uphill and pass.

After mile two, we began a long, insanely steep climb to the summit. It was around here that I don't think anyone passed me and held it for the rest of the race, sans for one dude at the end. More on that later.  A fun downhill after the summit...

Miles 3-6
... and for a while now I had noticed Ryan ahead of me. He'd been in sight for about a mile or so now, and I thought earlier on I was going to catch him. But everyone was now dialed into their paces for the most part, and I never gained ground, only able to hold the distance between him and I.

We finished the first loop a little after mile four, according to my Garmin. I did some quick calculations on my time and realized I was on track to potentially break 1h 20m, which was a loose goal of mine. Goal is probably too strong of a word, though. More like a "that would be nice", as I hadn't run this race before.

Second loop begins, which is identical to the first, except for the last mile or so. Decided to ditch my shirt as I passed by the start/finish area. Was still running strong, feeling fine and things were pretty uneventful for a bit.

Miles 6-Finish
Field substantially thinned out now. Passed around a half dozen runners during the final three miles, including one guy I had been running with for a while. Just like every other time, I waited for an uphill, then made my move.

Somewhere in the final few miles, the aforementioned Ryan was now no longer in sight. I wondered briefly if he had been eaten by a bear, but thought it was more likely that he just pulled ahead.

After reaching the summit for the fourth and final time (each loop hits the summit twice), it began a different stretch of trail than the first loop. This one would be more of a long, fast, very runnable downhill to the finish, as opposed to the winding switchback on the first loop. Both routes are fun, but it's nice that the race ends on this long downhill. You can really fly on it.

I was alone on the entire downhill, aside from another runner in front of me I knew I probably wasn't going to catch, and then the route hit the Boundary Trail and turned right for the final less-than-a-half-mile stretch to the finish. It was here that some dude came out of nowhere and passed me pretty effortlessly. I was doing 6:46/mile from the summit to the finish, so I found his speed pretty impressive. Trying to keep up with him only pushed me to go faster, so that was good at least.

Soon the trail broke to the field and it was just a hundred yard dash to the finish line. Crossed it in 1:17:05.

Post Race
I was pleasantly surprised by the faster than expected time. It was good enough for 23rd place out of 127 people. Looking at the standings from the last two years, my time today would have easily put me in the top 10 in both years, but considerably more runners this year and it was also a very stacked field. Plus, the weather was also great (i.e. no humidity) today, so that no doubt helped everyone.

But the more I think about it, the happier I am with the race. I had a lot of fun while running it. I was running fast but comfortably, pushing it when appropriate and just plain having fun out there. It went very well, especially for this stage in my running.

After hanging out and cheering on the other runners at the finish line, the awards ceremony was given and then I helped break down the finish line. After that, we got some fine grub and brews at Gritty's in Freeport. Fine way to finish the day!

Full Results

Ran 8.7 miles @ 8:50/mile pace (distance and pace per the Garmin).
Time: 1:17:05
Placing: 23rd out of 127
Rugged, technical trails.
Insanely hilly.
Lower 70s to upper 70s, sunny.
Asics Trail Attacks, shorts, sleeveless shirt (ditched halfway)

Click to enlarge

Saturday, August 07, 2010

That's Better

Felt pretty craptastic during my previous two runs, so it was nice to rebound a bit today. Felt energetic and all around fine. Granted, the pace was slow, but I was barefoot and I never push the pace when I'm shoeless anyway. But the energy and pep that was absent the past two days was present today, and that's what's important.

Feeling pretty good about the race tomorrow. No real goals, other than just to run it hard and smart and see what happens. Looking at it more as my weekly speed workout than an actual competition as of right now, but I'm sure that'll change a bit once I'm lined up tomorrow and waiting for the signal to go.

Ran 5.8 miles @ 8:25/mile pace.
Grassy fields.
Upper 60s to lower 70s, partly cloudy.
Barefoot, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Slow and Easy

Headed out with the goal of an easy run this evening. The pace fit the description, but it still didn't feel too easy. Just didn't feel peppy at all, much like yesterday. However, the humidity was practically non-existent this evening. In fact, the weather was perfect. Dry air with a strong breeze blowing and temps starting in the upper 70s, falling to the mid-70s during the run.

I think spending the entire day at the beach with the kids I'm mentoring might have had something to do with it.  Sunny days at the coast tend to drain my strength. That and I wasn't able to eat too well, due to a logistical mix-up with lunches for the trip.

Not too concerned. Will do a similar pace and distance tomorrow. Want to have somewhat fresh batteries for the race on Sunday.

Worth noting the deer flies were non-existent on the dirt road portion of the run. Not one. Normally, they are REALLY bad on that section. No doubt the wind played a huge part in them being absent. Funny how they are such strong and fast flyers, but they hate the wind. You'd think they'd be able to handle it. Not that I'm complaining...

Also worth noting that the days are getting noticeably shorter at a very quick rate. Danielle noted this on her blog the other day, and it had been something I was mindful of especially the past week, with my shadows growing quite long at the end of my evening runs. If this were a Facebook status update, I'd be hitting the "like" button. It means fall is approaching, my favorite season. Ah, can't wait.

Ran 5.6 miles @ 8:24/mile pace.
Paved and dirt roads.
Very hilly.
Upper to mid 70s, partly sunny, windy.
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

More Humidity

Very humid day... during my summer job, it sapped my strength, and I struggled to keep from nodding off while the kids I'm mentoring Photoshopped pictures they had taken. I knew a nap was in order as soon as I got home. It coincided with thunderstorms from an approaching cold front, making it tranquil and easy to fall asleep.

I awoke no later than I wanted to, and while still very groggy I headed out. It had stopped raining, but with the sun now out the humidity was even worse. 92% to be exact. Granted, it was only in the mid-70s, but it sure felt worse.

Just wasn't very energetic today because of those factors. Still managed the pace I had intended, but the thick air made it tough. I couldn't keep my sunglasses from fogging up and my shorts were soaked after a few miles.

Enough whining about the weather though. The cooler, dryer air following the front will be in place by tomorrow. Forecast looks great for the weekend and into next week. Most excellent.

Ran 10.5 miles @ 7:53/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 70s, extremely humid.
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, hand-held water bottle (diluted lemonade)

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Twin Brooks

Ran with the Trail Monsters at Twin Brooks. Haven't made the Tuesday evening runs in a long time, so it was nice to come back. Generally a shorter distance and faster pace, especially with the addition of sprint lines.

More on these sprint lines: at three spots, you sprint. The end line is definitive, but the start is subjective. I just went when everyone else did. A lot of fun and a great workout. Almost made it like a Fartlek run. Rest of the pace was pretty moderate for these trails.

Trails were pretty muddy in the beginning. Fun run on short rolling hills with great company, as always. Rest day tomorrow.

Ran 5.6 miles @ 8:20/mile pace.
Moderately hilly.
Upper 70s, mostly cloudy, humid.
Asics Trail Attacks, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Recovery/Easy Run

Ran 4.5 miles barefoot on the local high school's athletic fields. Really like doing the recovery runs barefoot for a few reasons:

A) The temptation to run fast is lessened, as I'm generally very cautious (at least these days) while barefoot running.
B) The muscle groups are stretched out more, and generally feel more relaxed afterwards.
C) The bottom of my feet get massaged. Ahhhhhhh.

Ran 4.5 miles @ 8:37/mile pace.
Grassy fields.
Mostly flat.
Upper 70s, partly cloudy.
Barefoot, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Marathon Pace Medium Run

Not going to lie, I was a bit nervous about today's run. Goal was to run between 14-16 miles and try the whole run at marathon pace. The exact distance would be based on how I was feeling during the run, and I had hoped for around 7:25/mile. I knew there was a good chance I'd be successful and do it comfortably, but if I couldn't pull this off, I think it would have stirred a lot of doubts in my head.

However, it went quite well. I went a touch over the maximum and was even well under marathon pace. The faster pace was not really intentional.  I told myself to slow down a few times in the beginning, but the splits kept hitting into the seven minutes and teens for seconds. I decided to just go with it.

The course I ran follows a rolling downhill to the Saco River. A few uphills in the first half, but nothing big and it's mostly going down. That was easy enough. But the real test would be on the way back, with the rolling uphill back home, including two big hills, the second one being the biggest.

Those uphills were both no problem. I rejoiced after climbing the second one, still hitting that mile in 7:15. Here's how it all went:


Great confidence booster. What's even better is that it all felt relatively comfortable. I never struggled and just cruised along. Good sign. But complacency kills progress, and there's still plenty of time to train and still some work to be done.

Worth noting I carried diluted lemonade in my water bottle (half Newman's Own all natural light lemonade, half water). That really hit the spot. Good sports drink, will definitely bring lemonade on runs more often.

Ran 16.1 miles @ 7:15/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Moderately hilly.
Upper 60s to lower 70s, sunny.
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap, handheld water bottle (diluted lemonade).