Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Giant Pile of Dog Crap

That's pretty much how I felt during my run today. No energy and I was surprised the pace was what it was. I did feel a little better as the run went on, but that's still not saying much.

Likely reasons:
A) Jumping into an intense week last week without properly easing up to that level (no doubt this is the biggest reason).
B) Busy day, as school has started and was followed with XC practice. As a result my brain is a bit frazzled.
C) An okay, but still not stellar diet the past two days. Because of A and B proper diet becomes even more important.

A) Set the ego aside and take tomorrow off.
B) Get a good night's sleep tonight.
C) Eat even healthier, including making sure I'm getting lots of iron.

Ran 5.6 miles @ 8:03/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Moderately hilly.
Upper 70s, partly cloudy, humid.
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Replicated Streams

Got in a second run of the day with the gang over at Twin Brooks. A lot of fun as always. Ran primarily with Jeremy, Jim and Zach (he's a lego maniac!). Legs felt pretty heavy for the first mile but the feeling soon dissipated and we ended up with a pretty solid moderate paced run.

Not sure what I'm going to run tomorrow. It'll be a somewhat busy day with it being the first official teacher workshop day of the school year followed by XC practice. I'm thinking I'll hit the railroad trails afterwards but we'll see.

Ran 5.5 miles @ 8:37/mile pace.
Moderately hilly.
Lower 70s, partly cloudy.
Adidas Adizero XT, short, short sleeved shirt.

Shakedown Day

This week will be really busy with school starting and two cross country meets on tap, so I had hoped to get in a run yesterday. But... during morning practice, as the runners ran mile repeats and I jogged over to another part of the course to provide times for pacing, my legs begged for mercy and to not go for a run afterwards, so I took the day off.

Monday was my first rest day in two weeks, so I was definitely due and delaying a rest day to another busier day later in the week might have made scheduling convenient, but it would not benefit my running at all and quite possibly put a dent in things. I'll just have to be a bit creative with scheduling later in the week (i.e. early morning running).

Glad I took the day off, as after this morning's run I could tell they had recuperated quite a bit. First of what should be two short and easy runs today equated to an easy 5K around the neighborhood. Legs felt pretty good. Second run later today will be a few miles longer but also at an easy pace.

Ran 3.1 miles @ 8:17/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 60s, sunny.
Brooks Mach 13, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Long Run With Irene

We're under a tropical storm warning, but it still seemed safe enough to get in my long run. After all, what's a little rain and wind? At least in my corner of Maine it was manageable. I hemmed and hawed all morning on what route to run and ultimately decided to do the first half on roads and the second half on trails. That turned out to be a great choice.

As I set out on the road portion of the run the rain was actually really light for the first couple of miles. It was really humid and I had wished it would hurry up and start raining harder again. Not surprisingly, a couple of miles later when I reached the top of the ridge it was back to pouring down rain. The run descended to the flat, final three mile stretch back to my house. It was here that the wind started to really pick up as well, and blew the hard driving rain right in my eyes. I had to turn my hat backwards or risk the wind taking it away, so I was no longer benefiting from the shield of the hat's bill, which made it a bit tough.

Made it home for a quick change into my trail shoes and a quick drink of water. I was then off to hit the woods out back. I reached the fire roads and saw Kate! She was out for a 13-miler and it was great to run into her. I joined her up the hill and then took off at my own pace, but it wasn't the last time I would see her.

If I did my standard Woods Out Back Loop, I would be a few miles short, so I made a grid pattern out of some other snowmobile trails. This took me back to the fire road where I was once again ran into Kate. Yay! I mentioned I was getting hungry and she shared a Shot Block with me, which was a nice little piece of insurance. I ran with Kate for a bit until I reached the trail that would take me back into the woods and continued on.

A few miles later I was running along and heard a loud crack from behind. I turned around to see a thick branch make a deep thud sound as it hit the ground just 20 feet behind me. Whew. That would have hurt. The whole time the wind was gusting pretty heavily now, so it was a good reminder to keep my eyes and ears open.

The trail reached another fire road and guess who I saw? Yep, Kate! She had taken the fire roads back around and was heading to the roads for the final three or so miles home. I was also about done, but took the fire roads back.

I took a few detours to explore some trails that really didn't end up going anywhere and then when I was about a mile from home I decided to head over to the road to see if I could see Kate. I thought that through the hard driving rain I could make out a figure way in the distance and began to run in that direction. Then I saw the person cross the road and go down a small side street. I began to second guess if it was Kate but after I talked to her when she got back, I found out it was. She had taken the side street to tack on more mileage.

So, I got home and was actually kind of disappointed to be done since I was having so much fun out there. But I also had gotten in plenty of mileage for the day, and also for the week as well. Good cap to a 77 mile week that also included a tempo run and hill repeats. Pretty happy to get in the mileage as well as the holy trinity of key workouts (long, interval, tempo).

Ran 21.1 miles @ 8:52/mile pace.
Paved roads, muddy trails with lots of puddles.
Very hilly.
Around 70 degrees, light to heavy rain, very windy.
Saucony Kinvara (first half), Adidas Adizero XT (second half), shorts, cap.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Mt. Chocorua

We took the cross country team on a hike up Mt. Chocorua for a bit of team-building fun today. Very fun day with a great group of kids. Here are some pics of the scenery:

Hiked 7.6 miles in 4:03:03 (includes all stops)
Mountainous terrain. 
Lower 80s below and around 70 on the summit, partly sunny. 
Adidas Adizero XT, shorts, short sleeved shirt, Mountain Hardware Bebop backpack with 60 ounce bladder (water).

Friday, August 26, 2011

Z-Hill Repeats

No, this was not a French variation of hill repeats. The "Z" refers to the route up the hill. This was one of those nice instances when my workout coincided with the cross country team's workout. With the other coach, an alumni member and an injured runner also present, there was plenty of help with timing and recording times so I was able to join them.

I didn't record my times, but my times going up the .19 mile route, featuring two sharp hairpin turns and a 30 ft. climb, ranged from :54 to 1:04. I'd guess I averaged about :58 overall. After a jog down and a brief pause to grab a sip of water, we'd line up and do it again. After every fourth rep, an extra two minutes of rest was given.

Great, buttkicking workout. The team did awesome and given the speed these guys have, it was a great push for me. Doing them alone just doesn't compare to running them with a group of energetic, talented young runners.

w/u - Ran 2.1 miles @ 8:36/mile pace.
12 X Hill repeats - 2.3 miles @ 5:06/mile pace (excludes the jog down)
c/d - Ran 1.8 miles @ 9:27/mile pace.

Paved roads.
Slightly hilly for w/u and c/d.
Very hilly for repeats.
Upper 60s to mid 70s, sunny, humid.
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Make It A Double

I had planned on eight miles on the railroad trails at an easy pace this morning, but XC practice ran long and I had to get over to Kate's classroom to help her set up. So, I cut this run a few miles short and decided I could just do a short run in the evening from home to get in the mileage (and even a little more than originally planned).

Run itself went great. Legs and energy felt good, but at the same time it was pretty easy to keep the pace slow. Humid out but it would be nothing compared to...

... holy crap it was humid out this evening. It had rained lightly not that long prior to me heading out the door. I had hoped the next batch of rain would hit me during the run but no luck. Great run otherwise and the plan was still to keep the pace easy and the distance was short, so not a big deal at all.

Morning run:
Ran 6.1 miles @ 9:00/mile pace.
Railroad bed trails.
Slightly hilly.
Lower 70s, overcast, humid.
Brooks Mach 13, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Evening run:
Ran 2.9 miles @ 8:03/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Lower 70s, overcast, very humid.
Brooks Mach 13, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Second Life

After a pretty lackluster medium-long run yesterday, I wasn't sure what to expect today. Compounding that uncertainty was Kate and I going to a double feature at the drive-in last night which meant a late night, and given that I had to be at XC practice at 8am, I only got four hours of sleep at best.

However, I oddly didn't feel all that tired upon wakening and after practice I was itching to hit the woods out back for a trail run. I got underway and felt pretty darn good from the get go. Everything simply felt normal. That really wasn't expected, so I was stoked I had rebounded. Still took it easy, but a very pleasant run as a result.

Despite it being somewhat warm and pretty humid, there were NO deer flies. Not one. Very cool. I felt a couple of them the other day when I ran with Kate, but they were so slow and weak that they were a non-issue. Another few days of their absence and I'll be declaring their season officially over.

Ran 7.7 miles @ 9:08/mile pace.
Very hilly.
Mid to upper 70s, partly cloudy, humid.
Adidas Adizero XT, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap, Salomon Hydro 45 belt (diluted Gatorade).

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Heavy Legs

My legs felt like two pillars of concrete during today's run. It got better as the run went on but I never totally shook it off. The past several days have featured some pretty good workouts and I'm not back yet at the level I want to be at in my training, so I'm sure those two factors were why, pure and simple. Diet and sleep have both been going well though, so that's good.

Less mileage also at an easy pace is on tap for tomorrow. Likely will do a trail run, perhaps hitting the main loop in the woods out back.

Ran 15.0 miles @ 8:31/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Upper 60s to lower 70s, sunny.
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, short sleeved shirt, handheld bottle (water).

Monday, August 22, 2011

Bonus Run With Kate

An impromptu second run of the day for me as I decided to join Kate for her evening run. Great to have her company and it felt good to shake my legs loose a little after this morning's run. Opted to wear the Saucony Kinvaras even though it was a shorter distance. I think they were starting to feel neglected.

Ran 2.9 miles @ 12:03/mile pace.
Paved roads, some trails.
Slightly hilly.
Upper 60s, sunny.
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Progression Run

It's been a long time since I've had a run where I felt like I was firing on all cylinders. Today, the planets aligned and I definitely had a solid "F%&$ yeah!" kind of run.

I did a very hilly seven mile loop from the school. I was taking it easy at first while working the climb up the ridge. Then I started to let it rip. In all fairness, the last two miles were downhill but the splits still turned out a pretty nice progression.

1 - 8:03
2 - 7:39
3 - 7:28
4 - 7:31
5 - 6:53
6 - 6:33
7 - 5:54
last .1 - 5:41/mile pace.

Interval work aside, that's the first time I've ever had a split go sub-6 during a training run. Pretty sweet. But I was just happy to feel in sync and comfortable pushing the pace a bit. I've run this route dozens of times, and this could be the fastest I've ever done it, but I don't care enough to check.

Great weather today as well. Cold front pushed through yesterday bringing cooler dry air and some pretty strong winds with it, which was great to run in.

Ran 7.1 miles @ 7:08/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Around 70 degrees, partly cloudy, windy.
Brooks Mach 13, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Today's run rocked almost as much as these guys:

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Barefoot With Strides

I have been feeling a bit beat up the past few weeks with running. Just little aches here and there, most come and go in a matter of hours or at the most a few days. Running barefoot seems to help with that since the pace is easy, the soccer fields I do them on are soft, the legs get more extension and therefore more stretch, and it's also good for running form.

On that latter point on form work, Tim had suggested a few times that I try incorporating some barefoot strides as well. I thought about it during the run, wondering if it was a good idea because I was feeling a bit beat up, but I ultimately decided I'd try a couple and take them a bit slower at first and see how it goes.

So, after about 4.5 miles of running slowly, I did a couple of them, running from one soccer net to another. I felt fine, so continued on, then taking the amount of acceleration and top speed to close to how I'd do them on the track or other hard surface. Finished with 10 X 100M and enjoyed it. Hard to measure how much it helped the form, but being barefoot it doesn't allow much room for error, which was nice.

Ran 5.2 miles @ 7:58/mile pace (includes 10 X 100M strides)
Grassy fields.
Mid 70s to around 80, sunny, humid.
Barefoot, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Bradbury Bruiser Review Run

Ran at Bradbury Mountain today to run the Bruiser course. Race is in three weeks and I'm pretty excited about it. Makes sense to run the course again to refamiliarize myself with it. Set off with Ian, Jeremy, Blaine and Nathan, though we'd later lose Nathan.

Run went well. We took it at a moderate pace and had the usual and always entertaining banter as we ran. Was feeling pretty good which was nice. When we reached the O-Trail, Blaine and I didn't run it all out fast, but we did take it up a notch.

To each their own, but I think the O-Trail section gets a bad rap. It's super twisty and turny while being pretty technical throughout, but it's also nothing terribly hilly. Not a lot of people like it, which just seems kind of odd to me. I think it's actually pretty fun, and enjoy accelerating out of the turns in particular.

Worth noting there were only a few deer flies out and even then they were only in a few sections. Moving pretty slowly and not a real nuisance. Not much longer until they're gone again until late May/early June!

Topped off the morning with lunch at Edna and Lucy's, then Kate and I ran some errands in Portland. Fine day.

Ran 11.9 miles @ 9:49/mile pace.
Moderately hilly.
Lower 60s to mid 70s, sunny, humid.
Adidas Adizero XT, shorts, short sleeves shirt, cap, handheld bottle (diluted Gatorade).

Friday, August 19, 2011

One Mile Time Trial

The nice thing about helping coach the XC team is that I'm often able to run with them and I love taking advantage of that when the workouts fit into my own training. That was the case today. I wanted to get in some leg turnover but also didn't want to do anything too extensive given the race recovery (which I'm just about over with).

On tap: A one mile time trial. I had planned to go all out and break my PR of 5:31, which I set about four years ago (and haven't attempted to break since).

After a warm-up, I lined up with the boys and we were off. Very fun to run with those guys and push each other the whole way. I felt I paced it nicely but still only came in at 5:26. A new PR, but I had anticipated coming in around 5:15. I think I'm capable of that, but perhaps the planets just weren't aligned today. Oh well. Still nice to PR though. Afterwards, went for a short cool down.

Looking forward to running the Bradbury Bruiser course tomorrow. Sunday will be another easy day, probably on trails as well. Next week, I plan to start ramping up the mileage without overdoing it (around 55?). Focus continues to narrow in on the MDI Marathon this fall. I have a lot of work to do if I'm going to break my time from last year (which is the goal).

w/u: Ran 1.6 miles @ 7:29/mile pace.
Ran 1.0 mile in 5:26.
c/d: Ran 1.6 miles @ 8:53/mile pace.

Warm up and cool down on slightly hilly roads.
Upper 70s, sunny, humid and hazy.
Brooks Mach 13, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

New Flats

I got home from cross country practice and work and found a box I had been waiting for: my new shoes! After 11 months of regular and faithful service, my Brooks Mach 11s (spikeless) were ready to be retired. I haven't calculated the mileage on them, but I'd venture I put in at least 600 miles on them. Not bad for a pair of racing flats.

Brooks Mach 13 spikeless
I replaced them with the newer (and louder) Mach 13s (spikeless). What I've come to discover is that racing flats are a great addition to any shoe rotation. They're perfect for most runs under 10 miles. Lightweight, low profile, and good flexibility for a low price ($58.50 using a coupon code at They are also very versatile and great for both roads and trails. I have the spikeless model so they won't have a lot of grip in muddy conditions but other than that, they're great. I don't get why more runners don't incorporate them into their arsenal.

The test run in them would have to wait a few hours though. I opted for a nap, and then when I woke up Kate and I decided to hit the beach to beat the warm temperatures (mid 80s in the afternoon). Nice to enjoy such things while we can before the school year starts and we're both much busier.

Horses seen during the walk down to the beach
As for the run, it went well. Despite not eating much today my energy felt fine. The shoes felt great as well. As expected, they were a bit stiff the first mile or two but then they started to break in and felt really comfortable. All indicators point to another successful pair of flats, just like the earlier model. Good stuff.

Ran 5.7 miles @ 7:16/mile pace.
Paved and dirt roads.
Very hilly.
Around 80 degrees, partly cloudy.
Brooks Mach 13, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Some Roads, Some Trails

After a full morning of XC practice followed by getting some work done in my classroom, I set out for a short run around the town I teach in. Most runs this week will be at an easy pace for recovery... and given the slightly longer than anticipated run yesterday keeping it short was a good idea.

The route was an ample mix of roads, trails and paved paths. Kinda fun. I explored a new-to-me trail that climbed up to the apple orchard and on to their abandoned Nordic trails, so that was a lot of fun to explore. Headed back down and then meandered through some roads and paths that led back to the school. Good little run.

Worth noting: no deer flies again today! It seems it's a few weeks early for them to be done with their season and I suspect they'll be back, but I think it's safe to say that the worst is definitely over.

Ran 4.8 miles @ 8:52/mile pace.
Paved roads, trails, paved paths.
Very hilly.
Upper 70s, sunny.
Brooks Mach 11, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Wherever You Go, There You Are

High school cross country season has begun and we have practice each weekday at 8am. So, Mindy graciously agreed to meet with me at the land trust over at the Bunk of Kenny for a trail run later in the morning after practice.

We first explored the land trust about a month ago and we were both very impressed with it. The trails are extensive, scenic and just all around great. Like last time, today we ended up getting lost. Not really lost, per se, but seven miles into the run we had a "saaaaay, wait a minute..." moment and we weren't where we thought we were. But we knew where we were. Or at least Mindy did. She had run there one other time so she was more familiar with the trails than I was (though she had gotten lost then as well) and led us back on track.

But the extra mileage was most welcome. Missing a turn ended up tacking on almost three extra miles, but my legs are feeling pretty good from the race Sunday and the stiff ankle I had rolled was loosened up and feeling fine a few miles into the run. Plus, the conversation was entertaining and ran the gamut of topics of races, books, writing, education and other stuff.

And another awesome bonus: NO DEER FLIES! 'Nuff said.

Ran 10.2 miles @ 10:22/mile pace.
Moderately hilly.
Mid 60s, overcast.
Adidas Adizero XT, shorts, short sleeved shirt, hand held bottle (water).

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Bradbury Breaker Race Report

This race came be summed up in four words: Nine miles of hell. Rugged, technical trails and insanely hilly terrain. Throw in fantastic race management by Ian, Ryan and kick ass volunteers and you have all the ingredients needed. Mix them all together, bake at 65 degrees for an hour and change and you have something good comin' out of da kitchen.

So, I went into this race knowing I wasn't 100% from a pretty brutal 50k two weeks ago, but I still hoped to beat my time from last year. That would be a fun test/experiment, as last year I was getting in progressively better shape but wasn't at my prime yet, and I came in 1:17:05. Before the race, I mused that while being in better shape but with the tired legs I would probably come in around the same time as last year as a result.

Worth noting that there were quite a few others who also had big races or running events recently (notably Jeremy and Ian) who were no doubt more beat up than I was, and they still had huge PRs and very impressive performances. Glad to see so many of us had good races even if not in top form.

First Half of Loop One
Race was off, and after a few hundred yards I was maybe 15 or so people back. I actually felt I was going out too fast so I dialed it back a touch after the first mile. At this junction, we were running on the Boundary Trail which circumnavigates the peak for a good while. The trail is full of ups and downs and there are some tough climbs. A few folks passed me and I passed a few folks, so going along pretty nicely.

Second Half of Loop One
Made our way towards the front of the park which meant a gnarly climb to the summit was about to begin. During the ascent, my buddy Ryan passed me, looking strong. So strong that he tried to pull down my shorts while telling me to pick up the pace. I think I called him a name here and tried to just get up the hill. I was feeling really sapped here. Legs were aching and not much pep at all. I felt like dog crap.

Made it to the top and then meandered back down. I started to feel some energy returning on the long downhill and was gaining some ground on some folks in front of me, and I could also see Ryan. Then the course goes back up to right near the summit again.

I playfully yelled "I'm coming for you, Ryan!" as we climbed. For this race, it was totally in jest. Here's why: Remember that scene in Pulp Fiction when Butch is being chased by Marsellus Wallace after they got in a car wreck, and they're all beat up from it and Marsellus can hardly hit the side of a barn with a gunshot? Well, that would be a gross exaggeration of Ryan and I, but he is coming off a stint with injuries and I'm not healed up from my race, so that's what it kind of reminded me of. Neither of us in a state of decent race conditioning. With that in mind, I wasn't racing Ryan or anyone else for that matter, I was just concerned about getting a decent finishing time and not worrying much about what place I would finish. A long meandering downhill and the first loop was done.

First Half of Second Loop
Passed three guys and caught up to Ryan. We chatted a bit as we ran and I continued to feel better. Still tired, quads were sore, but energy was feeling better. Then, as Ryan started to move ahead again, I rolled my ankle. Yeeowch! I limped for a few hundred feet until my gait was more or less back to normal.

Pain dissipated a few minutes later, but I felt it after the race (and still feel it, though not too badly) . Ryan continued to move ahead and not too much later, those three guys I passed to get to Ryan passed me back. But as the ankle got better and my energy continued to stabilize a bit, I started to gain ground again.

Second Half of Second Loop
Moving along and I passed the three guys back. Then I caught up to Ryan again. I think this all occurred on the downhill after summiting the peak for the third of the four total times. I commented to Ryan that I was running the downhills better than the uphills, which was weird. He immediately said back "that's not your style", which summed it up nicely.

Climb up to the summit again, and was feeling more or less pretty good here and tried to block out the sore quads. Energy felt at a pretty normal level for this stage in the race. Given how I felt like total dog crap on that climb to the summit for the first time, I was glad I was able to bounce back. Caught glimpses of Ryan who wasn't too far behind. Very impressive that he was running so well given he was still getting back into the swing of things.

Major downhill done, made a right turn, and now just a rolling stretch to the finish. Ran it pretty hard and in my state of delirium, I nearly went wide right of the finishing chute, despite it being clearly marked and everyone yelling at me to correct my course. Duh. That probably cost me a second or two. But I finished in 1:15:55, beating last year's time by a minute and ten seconds. Also came in 16th place overall, which was up seven places from last year. Not bad, I'll take it.

Very fun time on a brutal course. Afterwards, a bunch of went to Gritty's in Freeport to refuel and recap the morning, which was a lot of fun and was glad to drive home with a full belly.

Ran 8.7 miles @ 8:44/mile pace.
Official time: 1:15:55.
Placing: 16th out of 131 finishers.
Rugged trails.
Insanely hilly.
Lower to upper 60s, overcast, very humid.
Adidas Adizero XT, shorts, sleeveless shirt.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Shakedown Run

Hit the athletic fields at the local high school for a short barefoot run. Purpose was to just shake things loose for the Bradbury Breaker tomorrow. Felt pretty good and the quads didn't feel sore at all, but this obviously wasn't much of a challenging test.

Hard to know what to expect for tomorrow. Last year I ran it in 1:17:05. I was in very good shape then, but not yet at my prime. This year, I'm just two weeks out from a hard fought 50k race. So, I'm thinking both scenarios are about even, and I expect to run around a similar time. However, if the quads start to feel trashed after the first loop, I might have to slow it down. We'll see.

Ran 3.3 miles @ 8:55/mile pace.
Grassy fields.
Lower 80s, partly sunny, hazy.
Barefoot, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Morning Trail Run

Nice and slow trail run this morning, noting the abundant goldenrods and Queen Anne's Lace that are very common in late summer. Also, the deer flies were hardly present. I only noticed them twice when I stopped  for a water and a bathroom break. That tells me they were moving quite slow since they weren't around while in motion, likely because of the cool temperatures last night and it's also late in their season.

I also tested out the Salomon Hydro 45 water belt I won at Brookvale, which arrived in the mail yesterday. Hardly necessary for a run this short, but the purpose was merely to get a feel for it. I was concerned there would be significant bounce which is pretty common in single bottle water belts, but at least on this test, it was very comfortable and nothing negative to note. I'll be curious to see how it performs when running faster, but all indicators are that it should be fine. I think I still prefer just carrying a handheld, but I imagine this belt will still come in handy.

As for the run, quads still felt a bit sore, but better than yesterday. Will run very light and slow again tomorrow to get them ready for the thrashing they will endure on the hills of the Bradbury Breaker.

Ran 4.5 miles @ 9:27/mile pace.
Trails with some dirt roads.
Moderately hilly.
Mid to upper 60s, sunny.
Adidas Adizero XT, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap, Salomon Hydro 45 water belt.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Blinded By The Light

I had an eye doctor appointment today. It was my first trip to the eye doctor probably since I was three or four when I had a lazy eye that thankfully corrected itself in my early years. My reason for today's appointment was it seems it's been harder to look at things really close up. Objects in the distance also didn't seem as sharp as they have been, but I wasn't sure about that and any difference in that area was small at best.

They made me look at things and read things while looking through quite a few different sets of funny glasses and contraptions. After quite a few tests, it turns out my vision is 20/15. Okay, I was way off on that one and I guess I'm more than fine there.

For super close-up, they said I was actually at a pretty normal level for my age, but I would perhaps benefit from a cheap pair of reading glasses for close-up, but that seems moot since I hold my Kindle and other reading material well within "clear focus" distance. I don't with my smartphone though, but I probably spend more time than I should on that damn gadget anyway.

Anyhow, they also put some drops in my eyes that dilated them big time. They said it would be okay to drive with them like that as long as I had a good pair of sunglasses, which I did, but I still found it challenging. I got to work okay though. But man, any source of light was amplified big time. It was pretty nuts.

It of course dissipated over time, but by the time I got home I was still feeling some of the effects of the drops and wore the sunglasses and a cap during the run, which helped. I hoped the deer flies wouldn't be bad when I hit the dirt road, as I usually turn my cap backwards so the bill protects the back of my neck, but that would mean more light hitting my eyes. Thankfully, the deer flies were very chilled out, so that worked out well.

Kept the pace easy, but it probably would have been better if I would have went :20-:30 slower per mile. Quads were feeling a bit sore, no doubt because of a combination of the 50k the other weekend and yesterday's tempo run. No biggie though. Feeling pretty good about Sunday's race. I won't be 100%, but I should be reasonably close and hope to still put up a time that's good for me.

Ran 5.6 miles @ 7:56/mile pace.
Paved and dirt roads.
Very hilly.
Upper 70s, sunny.
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tempo Run

I wanted to get in a quicker workout to fine tune up a little bit for the race on Sunday. Did that this morning and it went pretty well, all things considered. 

I woke up really late this morning (8:30am) and wanted to get out the door before the sun broke through the clouds, so I hadn't had breakfast yet. As a result, I felt... well... hungry, and my energy was a bit down. But I still maintained the pace I had hoped for. 

Ran 5.4 miles @ 6:31/mile pace. 
Paved roads. 
Mostly flat. 
Lower 60s, overcast, misting. 
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, short sleeved shirt. 

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Two Brooks That Are Identical

Great run with the gang at Twin Brooks. Ian, Jim, Ryan and I hung back in our little wolf pack, running easy as we are all either recovering from races or injury. Very fun (and funny) conversations. Well worth the drive over.

Feeling pretty darn good with race recovery. Not 100%, but I'm feeling good enough to possibly attempt a short tempo run tomorrow. I think it'd do the legs some good to get some quicker turnover in. After that will just play it chill until Sunday's race, doing only shorter easy runs. I doubt I'll be fully recovered by Sunday, but still should be able to beat last year's time, or so I hope.

Ran 5.5 miles @ 8:42/mile pace.
Moderately hilly.
Lower 70s to upper 60s, mostly cloudy.
Adidas Adizero XT, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Early Morning Muddy Fun

Normally the pitter patter of rain lulls me into a deeper sleep and I'm slow to crawl out of bed. However, having cloud cover all night long didn't allow temps to cool down much, so I was a bit restless. I had some tea and waited for the sun to come up a little, and then was out the door at 5:53am.

I hit the Woods Out Back Loop and enjoyed splashing through the mud puddles while a light but steady rain fell. Deer flies were surprisingly pretty active. I never noticed them swarming, but instead they went right to the back of my shirt to hitch a ride, likely the result of them wanting to avoid flying too much in the rain but still wanting a bit of my blood for breakfast. I was hoping it would rain hard enough to keep them away entirely, but not the case this morning.

Despite that, it was a very enjoyable run. Legs felt a bit creaky at first, but one warmed up I felt pretty great. Good energy and I ended up with a decent pace for this route, especially given the slippery conditions.

Ran 7.8 miles @ 8:54/mile pace.
Trails and fire roads.
Very hilly.
Upper 60s, overcast, light rain throughout.
Adidas Adizero XT, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Short and Sweet

Hit the trails in the woods out back today, taking advantage of a fun little hilly loop that is pretty technical up until it meets with the fire roads. Deer flies were out but moving very slowly today. It was really nice. Their season only has a month left at the most, so perhaps they're starting to wind down.

Hamstrings felt fine but I noticed the hip flexors more. Not surprised, given the punishment they took on Sunday. However, it's a pretty mild soreness. Just need to continue taking it easy for the next several days which I'm okay with.

Also, I stopped to munch on some wild blueberries along the way. I wish they grew year round, but that's a pretty tall order.

Ran 3.8 miles @ 9:12/mile pace.
Trails and fire roads.
Very hilly.
Upper 60s, overcast.
Adidas Adizero XT, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Recovery and Exploration

I haven't run since Sunday's race. Legs got a nice break there and I hit the woods out back to shake them loose a bit. Kept the pace slow and easy. Feeling fine overall. Some lingering soreness in the hamstrings but nothing abnormal which is good.

Will continue with all easy runs for the rest of this week and next. I have the Bradbury Breaker trail race a week from Sunday, which is an extremely hilly and tough nine miles. I'd like my legs to be as fresh as possible for that but at the same time don't want them to go stale, so it's a matter of playing it by ear and just maintaining.

As for today's route, I started out on the fire roads and some single track but then I explored a lesser traveled trail I don't think I've been on before. I thought I pretty much had redlined all of the trails back there, but I guess not. Trail ended up gradually fading out though, and I was soon bushwacking. Decided to turn around and call it good.

Ran 3.7 miles @ 10:45/mile pace.
Trails, some fire roads.
Mostly flat.
Mid 60s, overcast.
Brooks Mach 11, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Brookvale 50K Race Report

Not my best running performance, but not terrible at the same time. Overshadowing any glitches in the matrix was an outstanding race, beautiful course and awesome people. In fact, epic would be an ample one-word description. Prince Edward Island by itself is an incredible place, and running an ultra here just made it all the more special.

I also can't express my gratitude enough to the race director, Shawn, and the numerous volunteers who worked hard to put on a terrific, well organized event that provided a great time for all of us. Top notch event with a well marked, butt-kicking course that was a total blast.

Kate and I arrived about 45 minutes before the 8am start, giving us plenty of time for bathroom breaks, arranging gear and socializing. In the parking lot, we saw Jodi and Karine who we met the day before at Sporting Intentions while picking up our "race kits", which is the same as a race packet (being very untraveled outside the U.S., those little idiosyncrasies are pretty fascinating to me).

I also met and chatted with a runner named Rob from Moncton, NB. Perhaps it was a sort of fate, as I'd later link up with him for a significant portion of the race.

Not surprisingly, the pre-race vibe was just as great as any race down in Maine, or the U.S. for that matter. Everyone was very friendly and welcoming. The electricity in the air of everyone's collective excitement was shared by all. I knew it was going to be a fun day.

Pink Ribbons and the Course
The course. Photo courtesy of j. norman-bain. 
Elevation course per my Garmin 410 (which always comes up
short on distances, but the elevation should be roughly okay).

Three different races were held, a 50K, 25K and a 10K. We all started at the same time, and given that the race was relatively small, the mass start did not feel overcrowded.

One nice touch that was new to me was that those of us running the 50K wore a piece of pink ribbon pinned to the back of our shirts to identify us as such. This was very helpful, as if someone blazed past you and there was no pink ribbon, you knew they weren't in your race and there was no point in giving chase. Somewhat conversely, if you saw someone ahead of you with a pink ribbon on the back of their shirt, you knew you had a potential target to chase down if you chose to.

As for the course, there was a 25K loop we'd run twice. The 10K loop would join us for several miles before veering off on a different path to the finish line.

We're Off! The First Few Miles
The start. Photo courtesy of j. norman-bain.
The race director gave us the pre-race instructions (including if you get lost, not to worry as you're on an island and eventually will reach the coast) and then we were off. The trail was quite wide for the first several hundred yards and made its way downhill and past the shooting range (for biathlons, as the start/finish area was at a Nordic skiing facility).

I kept an eye out for how many pink ribboned 50K runners were ahead of me. Looked to be around five or so, from what I could see anyway. I had a loose goal of coming in the top three and also breaking five hours. Both were hard to surmise though, as I knew little of the runners in this exotic foreign land and also didn't know the course. However, Shawn, as well as Jodi and Karine, had told me the day before it was hillier than Pineland and Stonecat (they had all run both). They were quite right on that one.

In the first few miles, I noticed one 50k runner who had a peculiar strategy of reasonably running/walking the uphills but then completely blowing the lid off and charging the downhills with extreme ferocity. You'd have to have quads of steel to keep that up for 50K, and if you did, you could probably stand to take the uphills a bit faster.

With each uphill I would gain more ground and he kept repeatedly glancing over his shoulder. Checking with that much concern this early in the race seems pointless to me, and given the downhill Blitzkrieg approach I mused that he was probably pretty new to this sort of thing. Nice guy though, and we exchanged good lucks once I passed him.

Linking Up
Three or four miles in now and the course continued to take advantage of very hilly and technical trails with the occasional cross country ski trail thrown in. I was definitely taken a bit by surprise at how challenging the course was. That's not a complaint, mind you. That's a compliment. And along with the rugged terrain of the course was the rugged beauty of red spruce and other trees of the woods that were very scenic to run in. Also, with it raining the day before, the trails were pretty muddy and slippery. The soil on PEI is predominately a red dirt which turns clay-like when wet.

The humidity was also much higher than I expected. Thankfully the temperature was reasonable (I don't think it ever got above the lower 70s at the hottest point of the day) and it was overcast for much of the morning, so at least there was cloud cover for a while.

It was around this time that I linked up with Rob, the fellow I had chatted with before the race. We would end up running much of the remainder of the first loop together. I can't tell you what a treat this was. It seems like the past few years with every marathon or ultra I've somehow ended up running alone (I hope that's just by chance), with the exceptions of Val's Fat Ass run last February in which I ran the whole thing with Ryan and maybe Pineland where I ran with Joe for a bit, but that wasn't for a long stretch.

Rob was great company. We naturally talked about the races we've done and which ones we liked best. I really enjoyed hearing about his Canadian races, particularly an obscure one up in Labrador that took place on a summer midnight in the daylight.

The course was well marked, but given that it was unfamiliar territory for both of us it was nice to have an extra set of eyes to help make sure we were staying on course as well as keeping each other's spirits up. My groin muscles/hip flexors were aching pretty badly at this point which concerned me since it was pretty early in the race, but fortunately they reached a point where they never got worse and talking with Rob helped keep me distracted.

The Experimental Forest
We got through the single track, hit the aid station and then ran alongside a road for a few hundred yards where we hit a trail that went through a very cool section of experimental forest. I had to stop to pee and Rob pulled ahead. Signs marked which trees grew in the different areas, including Norway Spruce, Douglas Firs and various other trees I can't remember. The way it was laid out was great, as much of the time there was little underbrush and it had a medieval kind of feel to it.

There was only one real section with underbrush near these trails, and given that it must have felt it needed to make up for it in grand fashion. The bushes overgrew and totally obscured the trail, but the markings made it quite clear that you were to go through it. None of the twigs and branches were stiff though and easily gave way. After 15 feet or so of running blindly as leaves whipped your face, you were through it and back to tall trees and cleared ground where you expected to see fair maidens dancing around maypoles at any moment.

I caught back up with Rob after he went off course a bit but figured out his mistake. Together we made it back to the road, headed back towards the aid station, and then up a very steep service road.

Third Section
I divided each loop into three sections: that first section of mostly single-track with some cross country ski trails thrown in, that experimental forest section, and now this final section, which was roughly equal parts "heritage roads" (another idiosyncrasy, they are like a cross between fire roads and the carriage trail roads of Acadia National Park), single track and cross country ski trails.

The heritage roads came first, and began with a steep climb that gains over 200 feet in half a mile. However, once up, the ups and downs to the finish of the loop were much more sane and also went through a roughly equal mix of single track and ski trails.

Rob and I finishing up the first loop. Photo courtesy of j. norman-bain.
Rob and I finished the first loop and waved at the folks at the start/finish area and went on for our second and final loop. Time for the first half was around 2:40, so the rough goal of breaking five hours was now definitely out of the question, but I didn't give it much thought as I felt that was a pretty decent time for me on a course this tough.

Rob and I heading out for the second loop. Photo courtesy of  j. norman-bain.
Second Loop Begins
Not long after we began the second loop, Rob mentioned he was tiring and needed to slow down. I had really enjoyed running with him and would miss his company, but we wished each other good luck and I moved on.

For the first time I was alone now but was grateful the course did two loops, as I knew what to expect now. I just kept the pace up as best as I could and tried to block out the sore hip flexors, but was still moving pretty well overall.

Groin Guy
I was running on one of the ski trails when in the woods to my right I caught a glimpse of a runner wearing a yellow shirt and a white hat. Pinned to his shirt was the pink ribbon. I mused that I was probably coming up on the turn into the woods and he was just ahead of me, and sure enough as I rounded the bend, there was the turn.

A few minutes later, I saw the runner sitting off to the side of the trail, stretching with his feet together in front of him and wincing in pain. As I approached I asked if he was okay and he replied "Aaaaaaaaaaaaah! My groin!! Aaaaaaaaaaaaargh!!!" In a very lame attempt to try to console the fellow, I mentioned I was also having some groin pain and should probably stop and stretch as he was but was pushing through it for now.

With some effort, Groin Guy got up and ran behind me for about about a hundred feet, but on the next uphill he was having some trouble and I pulled ahead and we wished each other well.

With the passing of Groin Guy, I mused I might be in the top three, but wasn't sure at this point. While I wasn't running horribly, I also knew I wasn't having my best day, but if I was in the top three that would be pretty neat.

Hey Look! It's Kate!
Kate was doing the 25K and she had just reached the top of that long climb on the heritage road and I could see her from the intersecting section I was on as I passed by. We yelled hellos to each other and it was obvious she was in great spirits and having fun. I had been a bit concerned as she was perhaps a bit undertrained for the race and is having IT band problems, so it was a nice mental boost for me to see her faring well and having fun.

Single Track of Death
Shortly after that, the course ducked back into the woods and I was on single track. This time around, it seemed to take forever. I thought for sure I'd be coming up to the roadside aid station again soon, but alas, it was like one of those dreams where you are running from a monster but aren't going anywhere.

Related to this, I was at my worst energy point of the day. I knew I had to fuel up and I took a Gu here and made a point to mow down some more boiled potatoes and take in a generous amount of coke (both of which I was taking in at each aid station). My water bottle also soon emptied and the humidity was pretty tough and I was getting thirsty. Not ideal. Part of me wished I had brought my double water bottle belt or had at least had dranken more liberally at the aid stations.

One hill came after another and going up them became tough, but finally I was heading down overall and came to the aid station. I drank and drank, refilled my water bottle and mowed down some boiled potatoes. I also asked one of the volunteers if she knew how many runners were ahead of me. Just two. Whoa, sweet, I did have the podium as of now. Just had to keep it.

Experimental Forest Section, Part Deux
As I made the few hundred yards up the road to the experimental forest, I looked over my shoulder and down the hill to see if anyone was behind me. Nada. I appeared to be safe for now, but such thinking is dangerous especially when there's still around nine miles to go. It's best to convince yourself someone is on your tail and run accordingly, so that's what I did.

I did see the second place guy coming back from the experimental forest section and we exchanged good lucks. Wow, he was way ahead of me. In fact, all of the top five runners were pretty spread out, with an average of about 20 minutes between us for our finishing times.

Given this section is much easier than the first section, my hydration was in check, and I had some fuel in me so I was moving much better now and feeling the proverbial second wind. However, I was still tired and kept repeating in mind "Keep the podium... keep the podium...." It would remain my mantra until the finish line.

Final Section
Experimental forest section completed and I made my way back down the road to the aid station. I was a bit more talkative and energetic this time around. I commented "just six more miles to go" which seemed to give the volunteers some pause. Did I miscalculate the distance? Just as I realized what was up, one of them confirmed it by saying "yep, just 10 kilometers to go". Ah, the metric system. Slightly embarrassed, I then remarked on the beauty of the course and made my way up that big ass hill.

When I finally reached the top, I rejoiced. It was just four miles or so now to the finish. A few times on my way up, I looked behind me but saw nobody. Still, I kept repeating "keep the podium" to myself in my head and pressed the best I could.

Those sore hip flexors began to cramp a little for a few minutes but thankfully dissipated. Less than a couple of miles to go though and then my calves... both of them... were threatening to cramp up. I had been taking S-Caps but took two more and hoped it wasn't too late. Thankfully, they never fully cramped.

Soon, I emerged from the woods and turned left and saw the finish line and crossed. Official time was 5:30:16 and was good enough for third overall out of 16 finishers. Even though it was a small field of runners, I was still honored to take the podium. Worth noting the top runner finished in 4:25 and second place in 4:51. Those guys are beasts.

Fifteen minutes later, I was happy to see Rob cross with a smile on his face. We congratulated each other and recapped our experiences a bit. Another fifteen minutes later and Groin Guy came in, also with a smile on his face. About 10 minutes later I saw him stretching again and he was still hurting a bit but seemed very happy.

Award ceremony was held and I won a Salomon water belt for getting third place. Pretty sweet. But obviously the best part was the experience, meeting new folks and getting to battle a tough and fun course in a new area. Prince Edward Island is beautiful enough as it is, and getting to run a race there made it even better.

Almost there. 


Kate and I after our finishes. 

The RD, Shawn, and I during the awards. 
Ran 31.1 miles @ 10:38/mile pace.
Official time: 5:30:16
Place: 3rd out of 16
Single track, ski trails, some heritage roads.
Extremely hilly.
Mid 60s to lower 70s, overcast to partly cloudy, humid.
Adidas Adizero XT, shorts, singlet, hand held bottle (water).