Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pre-Dawn 5k

Another very full day on tap, but fortunately just three miles were on the agenda with the taper plan and I opted to do them in the early morning hours. After spending 15 minutes searching for my headlamp (I had left it in my backpack) I was off. Pretty uneventful.

Ran 3.1 miles @ 8:13/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Upper 50s, overcast, foggy/misty.
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, short sleeved shirt, refl. vest, headlamp.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Back Cove X 2

The cross country team had a meet in South Portland today, so I met up with Zak at the Back Cove afterwards to get in a couple of laps at an easy pace. He's running the Maine Marathon on Sunday and is looking prime for a good run there, so I was feeding off the energy of his anticipation of the race as we talked about it.

Good little run. A giant chicken burrito from Chipolte afterwards hit the spot, as it was the first time I had eaten in nine hours. I was hungry.

Ran 7.2 miles @ 8:00/mile pace.
Packed trails.
Slightly hilly.
Mid to lower 60s, partly sunny.
Brooks Mach 13, shorts, long sleeve shirt (overkill), handheld bottle (water).

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Moronic Dog Owners Hopefully Learn a Lesson

Cross country practice ended early so I changed plans and decided to do a run from my house and hit the woods out back, as it's been a while since I've run back there. The plan was just to go at an easy pace (as most of my runs will be during the taper) and just take in the scenery. I was rather enjoying myself, that is until about six miles into my run, when a curious set of events occurred. At least for me, it fortunately had a happy ending.

I rounded a turn on the fire road and saw a guy and two women, all looked to be in their mid to late twenties, up ahead and walking in the opposite direction. With them were two small dogs and one medium dog... all off leash. The dogs ran at me and were yapping and barking like mad, but stopped short about fifteen feet away. I waited for the owners to call the dogs back, but nope. They were doing nothing.

I was really annoyed and trying to keep my cool, and after several moments I asked if the dogs were friendly. One of them said yes, so I squatted down and held out my hand. I do love dogs after all, just sometimes not their owners.

Dog #1 came up and sniffed my hand and let me pet it. Its tail was wagging. Good doggie. Dog #2, the medium sized dog, then came up and sniffed my hand. I moved my arm ever so slightly and the dog jumped and snapped, but fortunately all it caught was air.

I stood up and the dogs jumped away. "You know, your dog just snapped at me," I said to the group. I'm sure my annoyance (turning to anger) was obvious. One of the girls answered, "Oh did he? I'm so embarrassed." That's fine you're embarrassed, but how about an apology? Saying your sorry and meaning it really does go a long way. But no. Just embarrassed. And I was amazed that the group was making no attempt whatsoever to corral their dogs and put them back on their leashes (which they were carrying).

By this point the group of walkers and Dog #1 and Dog #2 had now walked past me, but Dog #3 (the other small dog) stood there staring at me, looking very jumpy. I took a step forward and the dog ran in the opposite direction the owners were walking (and in my intended direction) about 50 feet and stopped and looked again.

"What is Lana doing?" asked one of the girls. Ah, okay. Dog #3 = Lana. Well, it was pretty obvious to me that precious little Lana thought I was chasing her and intended to high tail it if I continued on my run.

A sadistic plan quickly ensued in my evil little brain...

"Sorry, I can't wait around anymore, I have to run," I told them. And run I did. And so did Lana. And fast. That dog full on bolted it up the trail and had no plans of stopping. Neither did I.

"LANA!!! LANA!!! COME BACK!!!", one of the women screamed. The dog was soon out of sight as it rounded a turn in the fire road. "LANA!!! LANA!!!"

I looked over my shoulder and yelled, "This is why you should always keep your dogs on a leash!" I then started to laugh quietly to myself. Yeah, I probably could have been a better person here, but I guess the little devil hanging out on my right shoulder seemed a lot cooler than the angel on my left.

"Lana! Come back, Lana!!!" The intensity in her voice was still there but it was now pretty distant as I continued my run (and so did Lana). About two thirds of a mile later, I saw Lana up ahead, finally not running but instead she was walking around and sniffing some bushes. I'm not a complete bastard, I was hoping the dog would be safe and I figured it would be okay. The odds of a coyote jumping out of the bushes for a quick snack were pretty slim, after all. I was glad to see she was fine.

The turn I needed to take to get back home was far enough away from the dog so I wouldn't scare it again, and I made the turn and listened to the woman continuing to call for her dog, now growing pretty faint, but she would soon be reunited with little light-footed Lana. And hopefully she learned a lesson at the same time, but one can only hope.

Ran 7.8 miles @ 9:13/mile pace.
Trails and fire roads.
Very hilly.
Lower 70s, sunny.
Adidas Adizero XT, shorts, short sleeved shirts.

Monday, September 26, 2011

2012 Boston Marathon, Here I Come!!!

Shortly after my students left for the day, the email came. I'm confirmed for the 2012 Boston Marathon! Even though it looked like my chances of getting were very good despite being a week two registrant, it was still a relief to see it was officially official. Stoked to be running Boston again.

The cut-off times for week two folks shaped up like this (taken from the BAA):

2012 Mens Qualifying Performances and Accepted Times

18-343hrs 10min3hrs 08min 46sec
35-393hrs 15min3hrs 13min 46sec
40-443hrs 20min3hrs 18min 46sec
45-493hrs 30min3hrs 28min 46sec
50-543hrs 35min3hrs 33min 46sec
55-593hrs 45min3hrs 43min 46sec
60-644hrs 00min3hrs 58min 46sec
65-694hrs 15min4hrs 13min 46sec
70-744hrs 30min4hrs 28min 46sec
75-794hrs 45min4hrs 43min 46sec
80 and over5hrs 00min4hrs 58min 46sec

2012 Womens Qualifying Performances and Accepted Times

18-343hrs 40min3hrs 38min 46sec
35-393hrs 45min3hrs 43min 46sec
40-443hrs 50min3hrs 48min 46sec
45-494hrs 00min3hrs 58min 46sec
50-544hrs 05min4hrs 03min 46sec
55-594hrs 15min4hrs 13min 46sec
60-644hrs 30min4hrs 28min 46sec
65-694hrs 45min4hrs 43min 46sec
70-745hrs 00min4hrs 58min 46sec
75-795hrs 15min5hrs 13min 46sec
80 and over5hrs 30min5hrs 28min 46sec

It turns out I had a relatively good cushion with my 3:12:41 time at Boston last April (35-39 age group). That's a good thing, as my BQ time at the MDI Marathon last year of 3:14:33 would not have been enough for this year (the 2010 MDI Marathon times could have been used for the 2012 Boston Marathon as well since they fit in the overlap window).

I'm really excited to be in it again. Really excited. I had a blast last year and am really looking forward to doing it again. It's an impressive event, and I'm honored that I qualified again and can't wait to try to do even better this year.

As excited as I am, I'm also pretty damn bummed for some friends and acquaintances who didn't get in. They worked their butts off and a few of them didn't make the cut by mere seconds. Even the tweets from folks I don't know (hashtag is #bostonmarathon) expressing their disappointment at not getting in are pretty heartbreaking to read.

But despite the joy or sadness, it sounds like most agree the new rolling registration system is very fair and I've yet to read of any real complaints. Hats off to the Boston Athletic Association for coming up with a unique system that is fair and apparently works really well, both for them and the runners. They hit a home run (something the Red Sox could use a few more of this month).

Happy running!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Hay is in the Barn

I love these posts. The ones where I declare the hard work is done and now it's a coasting taper leading up to the next big race. And that is the case today. Now it's time to rest up and let the workouts culminate to a point where I'm hopefully in peak form for the MDI Marathon three weeks from now.

This morning was not without obstacles though. I've come down with a nasty head cold. It sucks. Ear aches, head aches, sniffling, and the body even feels a bit achey. Last night I felt like ass, but this morning I felt slightly better but that's still not saying much. It was also really humid out. REALLY humid. Like 97% humidity humid. Soupy weather sucks, especially when it's officially autumn and the leaves are already changing.

But I was determined for one last big run. This "training cycle" has been an odd one. Just a lot of races, both long and short, this spring and summer. They've gotten in the way of training, pure and simple. But I've definitely had some very high points, both in races and in training, so I can't complain.

Okay, on to the run. I had planned on 17 miles with at least 10 miles at marathon pace (7:18/mile). I figured even with the head cold and the weather I could at least manage that. I worked down to MP by the second mile and then dipped below it and held it there comfortably.

I fought through not feeling well and the muggy weather by simply ignoring it and just zoning out on the rhythm of my footsteps. The pace came pretty easy. Very pleased. Now on to an afternoon of vegging on the couch and watching football.

Ran 17.1 miles @ 7:07/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Moderately hilly.
Mid 60s to lower 70s, partly sunny, very humid.
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, handheld bottle (water).

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Volunteerin' and Runnin'

A big event sas happening today at Pineland Farms to raise money for the Cancer Community Center in South Portland, which included group bike rides and also a 10k and a 5k trail race. My buddy Stephen was the RD for the trail races, and I was more than glad to help out. I helped distribute the bib numbers and then worked the finish line along with Jeff and Jim G.

Race went pretty smoothly and all of the entrants appeared to have a great time running in some pretty muddy and squishy conditions. Afterwards, I hit the trails, running the main loop on the campus side at a planned easy pace. 

Felt okay. Legs felt pretty heavy, which I think was a delayed reaction from the mile repeats the other day (legs felt better yesterday) and also some pretty crappy humidity. Still, not too bad. Today was about taking it slow anyway. Tomorrow will be a longish run with some MP mileage thrown in. Looking forward to that!

Ran 8.0 miles @ 9:57/mile pace. 
Very hilly. 
Lower 70s, overcast, humidity. 
Adidas Adizero XT, shorts, short sleeved shirt. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

To The Meet and Back

Took the longer uphill to the apple orchard for our home XC meet. Meet went okay, then afterwards took the shorter downhill route.

Normally the day after a big speed workout my legs feel pretty beat. While they were a little tired, it wasn't that bad at all. That was nice.

Ran 3.0 miles @ 8:35/mile pace. Run up the hill to the XC meet.
Ran 2.0 miles @ 8:36/mile pace. Run down the hill from the XC meet (shorter route)
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Around 70 degrees, overcast, humid.
Brooks Mach 13, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mile Repeats

Wanted to get in another interval session before I start tapering for the MDI Marathon as I haven't done one in a while. Opted for mile repeats with a quarter mile of active recovery.

All day at work and cross country practice, I didn't feel too peppy. After those were over and I did my warm-up, I still didn't feel peppy. Fortunately, on the intervals... I felt peppy.

Splits were 5:49, 5:56, 5:51, 5:49 and 5:45. That's an average of 5:50/mile. I'll have to double check, but I'm pretty sure that's my fastest session of mile repeats ever (post edit: it was, by a pretty large margin).

Hit the cool down drenched in sweat (super muggy out) but very satisfied with how I did. I wasn't expecting it, but I'm definitely welcoming it.

w/u - Ran 1.6 miles @ 7:38/mile pace.
5 x 1 mile repeats w/ .25 mile active recovery. Overall average pace including active recovery = 6:23/mile.
c/d - Ran 1.5 miles @ 9:47/mile pace.

Paved roads for w/u and c/d.
Slightly hilly for w/u and c/d.
Track for repeats.
Mid 60s, overcast, muggy.
Brooks Mach 13, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Very Easy Day

The cross country team was running between 4-6 miles, so I ran back and forth between groups checking up on the runners and tagged along with each for a bit, but mostly with the JV guys and the girls.

That amounted to a very easy paced run, which was by design and after practice, I tacked on a little extra mileage on my own. Looking to possibly do some interval work tomorrow.

Ran 7.9 miles @ 9:00/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Moderately hilly.
Lower 70s, sunny.
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, short sleeved shirt, handheld bottle (water).

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sanford XC Course

Just realized that this is my third consecutive run on race courses... without racing them. Today? Our home high school XC course. I ran a mile warmup as the team arrived and then I ran with the varsity runners as they did locomotive sprints, which equated to a three mile tempo pace for me.

After practice was over, I hit the course again. The course goes through an apple orchard and the adjacent woods, and two miles in I saw what I thought was a very strange looking siamese cat running up the trail ahead of me. When it turned to duck into the woods, I thought "man, that cat has an odd shaped, long body" and then it hit me that it wasn't a cat, but either a weasel or a pine marten.  I stopped at the spot where it ducked into the woods to try and spot it again, but no luck. However, as I was looking, a barred owl hooted in the distance. Cool. 

Ran 7.1 miles @ 8:18/mile pace. 
Moderately hilly. 
Mid 60s, overcast, muggy. 
Adidas Adizero XT, shorts, short sleeved shirt. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

MDI Marathon Course Refresher

Long run on tap today and I ran the last 21 or so miles of the MDI Marathon course to get reacquainted with the route. It was a most curious run. I had some stomach issues early on and never really felt in sync until the final big hills in the end, and despite the obstacles I still ended up with a faster than expected pace.

Kate very graciously dropped me off outside the Blackwoods Campground and would meet me over in Southwest Harbor several hours later. Lots to do on the island, so I knew she would have no trouble entertaining herself while I ran (she went for a hike and then got some tea and did some work).

I started along on Rt. 3 and a few miles later made the left turn on Cooksey Drive. A few hundred yards later, I spotted a mama deer and her teenage offspring on the road staring at me intently and I stopped and made eye contact with them. It's always pretty cool looking wildlife right in the eyes like that. Why not look at the legs or feet? It's always the eyes. Kinda eerie. She stamped a hoof showing her disapproval of me being there and I then continued to run, but slowly and pretty much right at them. The mom startled at first but was holding her ground. Fortunately, when I got within about 20 feet she and her offspring dashed into the woods.

About a mile after that the first wave of stomach trouble began and I ducked into the woods for a bio-break. I was hoping I would feel more in sync after that, and I did but only a little bit. I continued on to Seal Harbor and was still feeling pretty out of rhythm. My stride just seemed off and I also wasn't feeling very energetic, but at the same time not exactly sapped either.

Several miles later I was in Northeast Harbor, and I was beginning to feel the need for a biobreak again. I checked some of the businesses and parking lots as I ran by, hoping to see a porta pottie but to no avail. If it was a dire emergency, I could always ask a business to use their restroom, but I wasn't feeling bold and I wasn't in that desperate of a situation yet.

I was then through the downtown and now in the neighborhood section and the roads were repaved so the yellow course indicators weren't there and at one point I took a wrong turn. That turned out to be a blessing, as it led me to a school's athletic field where a very clean porta pottie was available. Ahhh.

After doing my business, I backtracked and got back on the course, feeling slightly better. Made my way up and around Somes Sound. About 14 miles into the run at the top of the fjord, Kate drove by and stopped. She had some water and I refilled my handheld and we made plans to meet up at the coffee shop in SW Harbor.

I then reached the often dreaded hills on the final section of the course. Oddly, things began to turn around for the better here. I felt way more in sync and the energy was decent as I climbed each section of hills. Made it to the highest point and enjoyed the mostly downhill section to the finish. Easily found Kate and I rehydrated with some lemonade to end the morning. Nice.

Glad to close the week with over 60 miles. One more week until the taper!

Ran 21.4 miles @ 7:55/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Extremely hilly.
Lower 50s to lower 60s, sunny.
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, long sleeved shirt (sleeves pushed up), cap, handheld bottle (water).

Saturday, September 17, 2011

esreveR ni esruoC nohtaraM flaH IDM

Kate was running the MDI Half Marathon this morning and I wondered a bit what would work out well for my own run for the day. Then a few days ago Blaine and Gary came up with a brilliant idea of running the course in the reverse direction, starting about an hour ahead of the race so we could see significant others and friends along the course as they ran and catch them at the finish as well.

The run was great and I enjoyed the company. It was great to get to know Gary better and he's a really entertaining guy with a lot of positive energy. He had some great stories to tell which made for a fun run.

We began to see the front pack runners as they were about three miles into the run and after a while we saw Mary, Erin, Christine and Kate, all looking great and having fun despite going up a pretty tough climb (while we were subsequently enjoying the downhill).

We soon finished, changed and cheered for the runners as they finished. Kate ended up rocking the race, coming in at 2:21 and crushing her old PR by 21 minutes! Super proud of her! Here's a pic of her shortly after the finish:

Aren't I a lucky guy?

Ran 13.2 miles @ 7:54/mile pace. 
Paved roads and carriage trails. 
Very hilly. 
Lower to upper 40s, sunny. 
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt, cap, handheld bottle (water). 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Afternoon Quickie

Get your mind out of the gutter...

Was able to squeeze in a quick run in the afternoon. It was only 5K, but it felt great to put the pedal down a bit and get some turnover. Looking forward to some longer running this weekend.

Wow, today is also the fifth anniversary of this blog! I write for myself but am honored that folks like to check in from time to time, so thanks for reading.

Ran 3.1 miles @ 6:46/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
60 degrees, sunny, breezy.
Brooks Mach 13, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Early Morning in the Chilly Air

Another hectic day on tap for today, so I opted to get in a pre-dawn trail run. Yesterday's cold front brought some much welcome, cooler air behind it. Mid 40s during the run, so I broke out the long sleeve shirt over a short sleeve shirt. Great weather on tap for the next several days!

The moon was also nearly full and shining bright. The headlamp almost wasn't necessary. Will hopefully be able to sneak in another short run later this afternoon.

Ran 5.1 miles @ 9:26/mile pace.
Trails and fire roads.
Mostly flat.
Mid 40s, clear skies.
Adidas Adizero XT, shorts, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt, cap, headlamp.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Run Up Mt. Hope

Very light days Monday and Tuesday. Yesterday off. Legs feel rested and recovered from Sunday's race so time to put them to work again. Opted to run an extremely hilly route that goes up Mt. Hope and then hits Hanson's Ridge.

Goal today was run at a natural pace. In other words, let my legs dictate the speed. No pushing it, just run how the legs want to. Reason for that was to give a better gauge where I was at after the Bruiser. That resulted in an above average pace for this route. I didn't kill it or anything, but anything below 8:00/mile on this route for me is definitely decent.

Might have to run pre-dawn tomorrow, and if I'm lucky, I can sneak in a shorter run in the afternoon. Man, work is just uber-busy lately, but at least it's the good kind of busy!

Ran 11.0 miles @ 7:50/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Extremely hilly.
Mid to lower 60s, overcast, intermittent light rain.
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Another Recovery Run

Legs still feel pretty tired, so three at a recovery pace on the trails was ample enough today. Normally I would like to have taken a rest day today, but tomorrow will be a very long day so I opted to run short again today and just take tomorrow off.

The cross country team ran locomotive sprints (same as Indian sprints, but a bit more PC of a name) on our home course. I ran to the side of the JV squad as they did the workout.

Really hot out there today, but cooler weather is on the way in a few days. Ahhhh.

Ran 3.0 miles @ 9:56/mile pace.
Moderately hilly.
Lower 80s, partly cloudy, humid.
Adidas Adizero XT, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Recovery Runs

Late post, but yesterday I ran the warm-up and cool down with the XC team which amounted to a couple of short recovery runs a bit over an hour apart from each other. Legs felt tired from yesterday's race, but not overly so and well within what one would expect. Still relishing in Sunday's race and glad it went well for me and also several friends.

Will likely get in another short recovery run today and take tomorrow off. I'm due for a zero day and it's also open house at my school, so good day to take it.

Oh, and my book Maine to Boston is currently #8 in the "running and jogging" section for e-books at! I didn't expect it to start so well and am grateful for the support.

Ran 3.1 miles @ 8:13/mile pace.
Ran 2.1 miles @ 9:01/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Moderately hilly.
Lower 80s (yech), sunny.
Brooks Mach 13, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Monday, September 12, 2011

My Book: "Maine to Boston" is Available Now!

A shameless plug: My book "Maine to Boston: Marathon Training Through a New England Winter" is available now for digital download on Kindle! It chronicles my training last year as I prepared for the Boston Marathon and is full of tips for running in the winter. A good amount of the content was taken from this blog, but I cleaned it up and added other notes and chapters as well. It's only $2.99, so hopefully most will find it's well worth the small cost!

Here's a link. If you opt to check it out, I hope you enjoy it and would appreciate your feedback: Maine to Boston

Big thanks to Ryan for the cover!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Bradbury Bruiser 12-Mile Trail Race Report

Wow. Forget my whining the past few posts about being tired from chain racing and blah blah blah. For me, I had a really great race today. I shaved off over a minute from my time last year, which was when I was in peak form and feeling great. Using that as a barometer, I guess I'm not as worn down as I thought I was and I'm pretty darn proud of how I did today. Really, really, ridiculously pumped and it was a great confidence booster that I think I really needed.

The Start and Island Trail
Ian gave us the "ready, set, go" and we were off. I lined up at the front and sprinted, wanting to avoid any congestion when the trail turned on to single track just a few tenths of a mile up ahead. When I reached said turn, I was in the top 10 and feeling pretty strong.

I then linked up with fellow Trail Monster Bob and ran right behind him for the next 3-4 miles. He was setting a great pace... a manageable kind of fast. Shortly after we hit the twisty Island Trails he began frantically swatting his head. I asked what was up and he said a bee had stung him. Ouch. I was grateful that my racing partner didn't go into anaphylactic shock and it never slowed him down.

Ragan and Ginn Trails
We made it through the Island trails and were now on the less twisty Ragan Trail now. There's a gradual uphill on this section and Bob and I continued to cruise along. Pretty uneventful here. I was aware of three runners behind us but couldn't make out who they were. At this point, they were still quite a ways back, but I was aware that they appeared to be gaining some ground.

We then hit the Ginn Trail and Bob was pulling ahead ahead a little here and there and I was finding it harder to keep up. I remember turning around to check up on the runners behind me and heard Ryan yell "Quit turning around to see who's behind ya!" to which I promptly retorted with "your mama". I also had a case of gagging here a bit and vurped a little, but shook that off and kept moving.

Fox East Trail
Now, the three runners had caught up to Bob and I. It was Ian and two other runners. Ian was having a phenomenal day and was looking incredibly strong while also moving incredibly fast. I was really stoked for him. It was here that Bob waved us ahead, and I then let Ian and the two other runners pull me along.

The four of us then hit the snowmobile trail that leads uphill for a good ways. We stayed together and I tried to gauge how the other two runners were doing. They looked strong as well. Hanging with these three would be tough but I was going to let them pull me along for as long as possible.

Fox West Trail
Us four horsemen were now barreling down on a fast gradual descent. I was in the back, Ian in front of me, and the other two guys in front. The other two guys were getting just a few more feet ahead and I didn't want them to gain more ground so I whispered to Ian "keep them in sight". He promptly sped up (quite easily) and was back on their tails and I did my best to try to catch back up.

We then came across two mountain bikers who weren't able to get off the trail in time (grrr) and Ian and I nearly took them out. Ian shouted to them that there were 150 more runners behind us and the looks on their faces was priceless.

We kept going on the downhill and Ian and the two others were starting to pull ahead. I figured it was best to let them go. Then, I kicked a rock or root, stumbled, prepared myself to hit the ground while flying sideways through the air, landed on a buttcheek, bounced back up on my feet and kept running. I must say, it was pretty graceful and I didn't loose too much momentum and was thankfully not hurt in the slightest from it.

The O-Trail
This section is infamous for its insane twists and turns that can literally be nauseating. It's not all that hilly, but given the constant sharp turns over very technical, rocky and rooty terrain, it's very challenging. Many hate it. I actually kind of like. It's kind of fun to accelerate out of each turn.

So several turns into this section and I could see Ian the two others ahead but gauging any distance now was impossible because of the constant sharp and often hairpin turns. I did notice one runner gaining ground on me though. Crap! But then I saw it was Jeremy. Oh. Good! He's way faster than me and I was surprised he was just now catching up (he had mistakingly lined up too far back), so it didn't bother me that it was him. Jeremy passed and we exchanged good lucks. I told him Ian and two others were ahead and he should try to catch up to them.

Not too long afterwards I was getting tired and frothing at the mouth a bit (and I think I vurped again), but still pushing along pretty well and keeping the pace up. However, I began to wonder if I was going to beat my time from last year. I could also see Bob behind me at times... but again... impossible to tell by how much and I wanted to hold my place so I kept motoring.

After two fallen logs, I now saw the "Castle in the Sky" was here. It's a small rocky mound that the trail goes up and meanders around a few times and is my landmark that the O-Trail, and the race for that matter, are just about over. As the double track trail was starting to come into view I remember hearing the crowd cheering at the finish line off in the distance. I also looked at my watch and knew I was going to beat last year's time. Sweet! Time to pick it up though.

The Finish
I hit the double track and let it rip, kicking with everything I had in order to get my time down. I crossed in 1:36:24, beating last year's time of 1:37:33. I also came in 10th place! I was really stoked about that. It's the fifth time I've had a top 10 finish this race season and prior to this year I don't think I've ever placed in the top 10 once.

But most rewarding of all was that my time was also good enough to contribute to a Trail Monster Running team win. Pumped about that! And the prize? Six pack of Long Trail Ale. Oh yeah!!!

Shortly after I finished, I ducked into the woods and puked. Nice. I was surprised I had anything in my stomach to throw up, but I could clearly see and taste the coffee I had earlier in the morning (sorry, that was probably TMI). I was fine though. I often throw up after I run hard, so no big deal.

I should also note that the course was a bit muddy and slippery in spots and it showed. There were broken bones, gashes needing stitches, severely sprained ankles and countless other runners coming through the finish with big scrapes dripping with blood. Definitely no road race, that's for sure.

Big huge thanks to Ian and his sidekick Ryan for putting on yet another great event. We really are super lucky here in Maine to have such awesome race directors and the Bradbury Mountain Trail Running series is top notch on every front! Can't wait for next year.

Ran 12.0 miles @ 8:02/mile pace.
10th out of 135 finishers.
Technical trails.
Moderately hilly.
Upper 40s to lower 60s, sunny.
Adidas Adizero XT, shorts, singlet.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Bruiser Eve

I'm really looking forward to tomorrow's Bradbury Bruiser 12-Mile Trail Race. I'm also really thankful I was able to pull things together in the past week so I'd be pretty ready for it. One week ago from today I was hobbling around a XC course in order to root and give instructions to the runners on our team. My knee felt sprained and I had wondered if it was something serious.

Fortunately, a week later and any discomfort is gone. I have pretty much forgotten about it until now. I think it was just a sprain and not IT-band related. But with that issue along with feeling run down as a result of overtraining, I took it really easy this week. Patting myself on the back a bit for not pushing it and sticking with the plan.

Last year, I felt the shorter races worked in well with my training schedule leading up to the MDI Marathon. I didn't do any other big races last summer, so the shorter races here and there were great speed workouts. But with this cycle, with three marathons or ultras (26.2M, 50M, 50K respectively) since April along with a good handful of other shorter races, it's been quite a bit for somewhat like me and I can't say I feel 100% fresh at this point. Just not much time to recover from anything and it's been a roller coaster of running hard at races, try to recover, repeat.. and all in a pretty short span.

Tomorrow will be a good test of where I'm at in that sense. But I've already pretty much decided that as much as I love racing I think doing half of what I did race wise this spring and summer would be more prudent. I'd prefer to spend more time training and not wonder if I'm recovered enough from each race. Though it's been fun, chain racing just isn't for me.

As for today's run, I did a short but hilly mix of pavement, dirt roads and trails. Kept the pace easy and felt pretty good overall. Went well. Glad dryer air has moved in, it was really nice outside. Now, time to devour a salad...

Ran 5.1 miles @ 8:36/mile pace.
Paved roads, dirt roads, trails.
Very hilly.
Around 70 degrees, sunny.
Brooks Mach 13, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Pre-Dawn Trail Run

Today will be busy especially since we have a cross country meet this afternoon, so the best window of time to get in a run was early. I was out the door at 4:35am to hit the trails for a five miler at an easy pace.

Felt pretty good and awake despite not having run this early in a while. I normally hear barred owls hooting and screeching on this stretch of trails, but no signs of them this morning. A bit disappointing, but otherwise a good little run.

Ran 5.1 miles @ 9:16/mile pace.
Mostly flat.
Upper 50s, cloudy skies.
Adidas Adizero XT, shorts, long sleeved shirt (sleeves pulled up 1.2 miles into the run), headlamp.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Rail Trails

Long and very busy day. I'm still acclimating to full days of teaching followed immediately by XC practice. Despite it being a good day, I still felt pretty wiped out by the afternoon but today and the next two days call for shorter, easy paced runs so at least there was that. I feel a bit of a head cold coming on, but hopefully it won't get much worse.

Run was on some rail trails from the school, which aren't very hilly and are pretty well groomed and packed down. Can't think of much else to write so I'll just end the commentary here.

Ran 5.6 miles @ 8:41/mile pace.
Rails trails, small sections of road and paved paths.
Slightly hilly.
Upper 60s, mostly cloudy.
Adiadas Adizero XT, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Running in the Rain

After a very busy day putting the final touches on getting my classroom and curriculum ready for when students start tomorrow, followed by a staff meeting and then XC practice, I was ready for a little "me" time on a hilly route from the school. Adding to the ambience was a cold and steady moderate to light rain throughout the run, which made it pretty Zen. I guess finding comfort in otherwise dreary conditions makes me a bit of a Goth at heart...

Temperature was 57F/14C throughout, so combined with the rain it was pretty chilly. I was actually kind of cold for the first mile or so, but then once I started hitting some of the hills, I felt pretty warm and comfortable. Good little run and had to remind myself to slow down at times, which is always a good sign. Ended up with a moderate pace, but keeping the pace easy for the three days leading up to the Bruiser would probably be wise.

Ran 8.4 miles @ 7:28/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
57 degrees, overcast, moderate to light rain.
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

McDougal Orchards

Ran a mile warm up with some members for our XC team and then we ran the home course. Their easy pace equals my moderate pace. Fun run on some great trails.

Knee feels an honest to goodness 100%. It didn't even occur to me on the ride home that I had been having troubles with it, so out of sight, out of mind. Very happy about. Will continue with my plan of shorter runs at no greater than a moderate pace until Sunday's race though.

Ran 4.0 miles @ 7:54/mile pace.
Very hilly.
Upper 60s, overcast, intermittent light rain.
Brooks Mach 13, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Another Successful Test

I'm a bit pleasantly baffled at how two days ago I thought I could be potentially be going on the DL with my left knee. Over the past two days, it's only gotten better and better. Glad it was just apparently some soft tissue tightness that has since loosened up.

Following yesterday's successful trail run, I thought I'd hit a short but hilly road route as another test. Took the first two miles easy and then after that I let the pace get a little faster. Didn't let it rip, but just a notch or two quicker.

I think it's smart to continue with short runs (5-8 miles) at an easy to moderate pace for much of the week. Two related reasons: A) to ensure proper recovery B) to make sure I'm going into Sunday's 12-mile trail race (Bradbury Bruiser) with legs that are ready.

Ran 5.7 miles @ 7:23/mile pace.
Paved and dirt roads.
Very hilly.
Around 80 degrees, partly sunny, humid.
Brooks Mach 13, shorts.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

That's More Like It

During yesterday's cross country meet up in Ellsworth, running around the course to check up on our runners had me on the verge of pressing the panic button. Not in regards to our runners (they did very well), but in regards to my left knee. That aching sprained feeling was quite prominent. I was even hobbling around at times.

But by the evening, the ache lessened some. I woke up this morning and performed a series of stretches and foam rolled the buttocks, hamstrings and knee area and felt pretty good. Then I went for a run.

I was going to play the run by ear and not hesitate to turn around if it got bad. For the first quarter of a mile it still ached, only a notch better than yesterday. But after that, it got progressively better. I still noticed a very slight and dull ache here and there during the run, but it was very faint. Other times, I was mindful that there was no pain or ache at all. Very good signs whenever a pain or discomfort lessens during a run, and usually an indicator that something is tight but potentially easily loosened back up on a more permanent basis.

I'll continue to aggressively stretch and strengthen the key areas, which will involve lots of various forms of leg lifts (using both elastic bands and gravity for resistance) and foam roll. I think that'll definitely continue to help, but time will tell. I'm encouraged though. Taking it very easy by running lightly only every other day last week helped physically, and even a bit mentally.

Looking ahead, I'm hoping I can put together a mileage pyramid in the six weeks leading up to the MDI Marathon. In other words, cautiously ramping up the mileage for three weeks and then taper for three weeks.

Worth noting there were more deer flies than anticipated this morning, but that's still not saying much. They were few in numbers and moving pretty slowly, which translated to easy kills. Had I have worn a hat, I doubt I would have even noticed them.

Ran 7.8 miles @ 9:02/mile pace.
Trails and fire roads.
Very hilly.
Around 70 degrees, sunny, humid.
Adidas Adizero XT, shorts, short sleeved shirt, handheld bottle (diluted Gatorade).

Friday, September 02, 2011

Beat Up and Chain Racing

Yesterday's additional rest day was needed and did some good. Ran barefoot today on the soccer fields at a nice, slow pace. Legs still felt tired, but not as dilapidated.

One thing that's curious is the IT Band. It's been tight for a over a year on the left side, but it has never really been much of an issue. There were times, especially around a year ago, that I couldn't cross my left leg when sitting because it was so tight. But it never hurt, and I rarely felt it when running and when I did it was seriously nothing. Therefore, I never mentioned it.

What is curious now is that it doesn't feel that tight. Unlike back then, I can cross my legs fine. However, while I'm running it has a sprained kind of feeling on that outer left part of the left knee, the same region as the IT Band. It's a bit bothersome, but it's odd because it's not really tight... I know what that feels like... but it feels sprained. Maybe it is sprained?

No doubt all of the above is the result of approaching the trail end of a pretty demanding race season. It's been a season of what I've dubbed as "chain racing", where you run a marathon or ultra, more or less recover enough, then race again. For me, that's translated to running a race followed by spending a handful of weeks recovering, then if I'm lucky I would get in a few weeks of real training before it's time to spend another handful of weeks tapering. Repeat.

Being more specific, I ran the Boston Marathon in April. Six weeks later I ran the Pineland Farms 50-miler at the end of May. Nine weeks later I ran the Brookvale 50k at the end of July and now I have the MDI Marathon on tap in mid-October, yielding a 12-week gap.

Despite increasing amounts of time between each race, I've been feeling a bit more beat up and run down after each one. Overall, though, the training has still been going pretty well... that is up until now. I definitely overdid it last week, tackling a big week when I wasn't ready. Lesson learned (or more accurately, relearned). Hopefully it's just a hiccup, but definitely warrants care and monitoring.

Big XC meet tomorrow, so not sure if I'll be able to run. If I can't, that's not a bad thing, but if can, it'll be something short and light like how today was. Hopefully I'll be okay for something a bit longer on Sunday.

Ran 4.2 miles @ 9:14/mile pace.
Grassy fields.
Upper 60s, partly cloudy.
Barefoot, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap.