Monday, July 28, 2014

Blogging Hiatus

Lately, keeping up with this blog has seemed like an unwanted chore. I think it's time for a break. I'm sad about that. Since 2006 I've had a lot of fun using this blog as a running log which has been very valuable for many reasons, but lately, it's felt like trying to start a fire with wet wood.

I guess the reasons why are multifaceted, but primarily because of other means of logging data and also an increasing burnout on social media.

I'm of course still running though. In fact, the passion for running trails and ultras in particular is as fiery as ever. Perhaps I'll continue this blog in some capacity in the future, but in the meantime, I hope to see you on the trails.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Ossipee Mountain

A nice run up the local mountain this morning. Legs felt quite dead for the first three, flat miles, but once the 2.5 mile climb up Ossipee began, things got better. Funny how that works.

Deer flies were numerous, but the nuisance factor was pretty low. They weren't biting much, and were moving slow and stayed out of my face. Most were content to ride on my shoulders and just stay there and not do anything, but I killed them anyway.

Vermont 100 is this weekend and I'm pacing John R. for the last 30 miles of his race. Very much looking forward to that.

Ran 11.0 miles @ 8:44/mile pace.
Paved roads, dirt roads, trails.
Extremely hilly.
Mid to upper 60s, partly cloudy.
Saucony Virrata, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap, handheld bottle (diluted Gatorade).

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Scuffle, Baldface and Deer Flies

A bit of catch-up....

Sunday:
I had taken Saturday off because the legs felt dead. I felt a rest day would allow me to absorb water that shouldn't really have been in the drain, but it was. Sunday was short, as the running consisted of sprinting over to help set up the aid stations for the Bradbury Scuffle, and also running with Ian to check on the placings of runners.

The race went very smoothly, with lots of happy runners always up for a challenge. Very rewarding to volunteer, as always.

Ran 3.0 miles @ 9:06/mile pace.
Trails.
Moderately hilly.
Lower 70s, partly cloudy.
Inov-8 Roclite 243, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Monday:
Ran the Baldface Loop and fly fished a nearby brook afterwards. The run was awesome. The fishing was awesome. The day was just awesome.

Humid and slippery below treeline for the run. Thankfully the tougher scrambles above treeline were in the sun and were dry for the most part. Cooler up there as well. Didn't see a single soul until I was finishing up, as a few people were hiking in to swim the Emerald Pool (which I skipped to allow more time for fishing).

Afterwards, I assembled the three weight rod and hiked over to a nearby brook. The water was very clear and cold, thanks to being fed from up higher. This meant great trout fishing. Delicate presentation required with the crystal clear water, but I managed to land a trout in nearly every pool that I found.

Mt. Washington in the distance. 

Looking towards Quebec. 

Looking back at the way up. 

Blue and green. 

Cold water. 

One of the trout. All had great colors. 

I caught a nice one right in that pool next to the stump. It may not look it, but the water
there was at least two feet deep.
Ran 9.5 miles @ 19:14/mile pace.
Trails.
Extremely hilly.
Lower 70s to mid-80s, partly cloudy, humid.
Inov-8 Roclite 243, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap, Nathan double bottle belt (water).

Today:
Set out with 7.5 miles on the trails in mind, but ended up taking the shorter loop because the deer flies were so bad. I was spoiled yesterday, they don't ever seem to even exist in the mountains. Not surprising for the woods out back today though; it was hot, humid and the sun managed to break out of the clouds for a bit shortly after I began.

I'll chalk up the endless swatting as cross training and view those little yellow winged bastards as pacers, but I'll try to avoid their services better in the future. At least the run ended up being a tempo pace for these trails. May head out for a second run later today in the rain since today was so short though.

Ran 3.4 miles @ 8:45/mile pace.
Trails.
Very hilly.
Upper 70s, mostly cloudy, very humid.
Inov-8 Roclite 243, shorts, sleeveless shirt, cap.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Scuffle Course Marking and a TRAFFIC Run

Met up with Ian this afternoon to help mark the Bradbury Scuffle course. Arrows are in place, and some others will put up flags tomorrow. Looking forward to volunteering there on Sunday.

Run itself was fun, with Ian and I talking about our upcoming races and also what's in store for our friends. Legs and energy both felt just okay. Not great, not bad, just okay.

Ran 6.3 miles @ 10:24/mile pace.
Trails.
Moderately hilly.
Upper 70s, partly cloudy.
Inov-8 Roclite 243, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Immediately following the run, I bid Ian farewell as he had to get home for daddy duty. I strapped on my backpack that contained my fly gear, and ran a few miles down to the connector trail to fish Thoit's Brook. All I caught were small chubs, which was a bit of a disappointment.

Legs felt heavy on this segment. Granted I was carrying a backpack with gear, but even with the water bladder nearly full the pack is still not that heavy. Still, it was likely a combo of the added weight and not feeling totally on to begin with. Just one of those days, and tomorrow is a new one.

Ran 3.0 miles @ 12:33/mile pace.
Trails.
Moderately hilly.
Upper 70s, partly cloudy.
Inov-8 Roclite 243, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap, backpack w/ FF gear.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

From Dusk to Dark

Another night run, this one a bit longer. Last night was a fun adventure, so I thought I'd do it again. It also just scheduled in well (kitchen cabinets were finished today, yay!).

Went out at dusk, and after about a mile the trail entered some thick woods and the headlamp went on. Rather enjoyable once again. Heard a few critters but saw none, other than several hundred lightning bugs. Branches snapping, followed by quiet but somewhat heavy sounding foot falls indicated deer, judging by the sound of the gait. Some large, slow wing flaps were most likely owls.

Saturday and Sunday will be a little tricky with weekend plans, so it'd be wise to get in something a bit longer tomorrow.

Ran 6.9 miles @ 10:38/mile pace.
Trails.
Very hilly.
Upper 60s to mid 60s, partly cloudy.
Inov-8 Roclite 243, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Lightning Bugs

The past several days have been quite busy with putting in new kitchen cabinets. I know very little about carpentry, so I've learned a lot through my father-in-law who's been leading the charge. It's been a lot of fun also, thanks to no real major hiccups. In a way, it's also been great cross training and we should be done today.

But with two days off from running in a row due in large part to the remodeling, I couldn't stomach taking a third. So, at the tail end of dusk last night, I headed out into the woods. My headlamp, an almost full moon and hundreds of lightning bugs lit the way. The nighttime ambience was great; very quiet and peaceful, with a sense of adventure that the darkness brings to spice things up.

Other benefits were zero deer flies and cooler temps. I'll trade the lightning bugs for deer flies any day, and while the pace is slower at night, especially on technical trails, the trade-off is worth it. I will definitely remember this, especially on those warmer days.

Ran 3.5 miles @ 10:34/mile pace.
Trails.
Very hilly.
Upper 60s, partly cloudy, night.
Inov-8 Roclite 243, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Yesterday and Today

Yesterday:
Arrived back from Brewer, went for a short run to loosen up the legs. Sore quads, but they loosened up. Ran into several ATV'ers, all very friendly, with one group stopped off the trail for a cigarette break (yech) and beers. Their surprise at seeing a runner out in the woods was apparent and quite comical.

The wind and dry air helped keep the deer fly numbers down. Water levels were high and muddy at the brook from the rain from Hurricane Arthur's outskirts the day before, and the salmon weren't rising.

Ran 3.5 miles @ 9:24/mile pace.
Trails.
Very hilly.
Upper 70s, partly cloudy, breezy.
Inov-8 Roclite 243, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Today:
Met up with Ian and Mike at 11am to run the BBU loop. Warm out, but the humidity was low and the wind was kicking. Nice to once again run in the heart of deer fly season and not have them be too big of a nuisance.

Legs were wicked tired at first, and I wondered if I'd be able to complete the loop. Ian reminded me that I should tough it out, regardless of pace, for training purposes. He was totally right, and I did. Thankfully, the pace didn't need to slow to complete the loop; I felt much better after a few miles, only feeling sore quads on the steepest climbs and descents and my energy was fine.

Great run, capped off with a quart of chocolate milk afterwards.

Ran 15.5 miles @ 10:28/mile pace.
Trails.
Extremely hilly.
Upper 70s to mid-80s, sunny, breezy.
Inov-8 Roclite 243, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap, Nathan double water belt (water).

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Walter Hunt 3K Race

Photo courtesy: Ashley L. Conti, Bangor Daily News
More or less on a whim, Kate and I decided to enter the Walter Hunt 3K while we were up in Brewer visiting her folks for the Fourth. I was intrigued. 3K? Not five, but three? It sounded painful.

The race has a good history behind it, falling on Independence Day every year for over 30 years. I hemmed and hawed about whether to run it with Kate or "race it"... or at least as much as I could given that I just ran the Pemi Loop last week, did a tempo run the day before, and other than that have done practically zero speed work and I'm still ramping up my mileage. Naturally, I decided to race it.

The first mile is all downhill. Talk about recklessly fast. I managed a 5:45/mile split which in a way was kind of discouraging because... well, I was going downhill. I quickly reminded myself that I'm not in race shape so I should just shut up and run.

Right after that first mile we were heading into Bangor over a bridge, which features a slight uphill. The gear change was noticeable. We then turned right on to Main Street where the crowds were super thick, thanks to the race being the precursor to the big Fourth of July parade. That was pretty neat.

Another series of right hand turns and we looped around towards the finish. We crossed another small bridge going over a canal right before the end and I found enough kick to easily pass a group of other runners, beating all but one of them. I crossed the finish line in 11:06, good enough for 39th place overall and fifth in my age group. All aforementioned things considered, I was quite pleased.

Kate exceeded her own expectations and crossed in 15:26. Her elation turned to frustration when she later found out she was just three seconds away from winning an age group award. I love it when she gets competitive.

Good day. As much as I don't like these shorter races, I wouldn't mind doing this one each year if we can.

Worth noting: This was my first road run since Boston.

w/u: Ran 2.1 miles @ 8:52/mile pace.
Race: Ran 1.9 miles @ 5:58/mile pace.
Overall place: 39th out of 568
Age Group (M40-44): 5th out of 26
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Lower 70s, mostly cloudy, very humid.
Saucony Virrata, shorts, sleeveless shirt, cap.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Bangor City Forest Loop X 2

Did the bigger Bangor City Forest Loop twice. My GPS went wonky in the first loop, so once that was done, I reset it so I could get a (hopefully) more accurate reading and make it easier to do the math for the total.

The second lap I pushed at a tempo pace, and ended up getting the Strava course record for the loop. I just started using that site and can see the addition. Totally Ryan's fault.

Ran 7.8 miles @ 7:42/mile pace.
Trails.
Mostly flat.
Upper 70s to lower 80s, partly cloudy, humid.
Inov-8 Roclite 243, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

The Swarm

The deer flies were horrible this morning. Quite glad I only had something short on tap. They weren't really biting; but they were numerous, flying fast, and a huge nuisance. One managed to fly down my throat, much like that scene in the original Star Wars where Luke Skywalker shoots the torpedoes right into that one small opening to blow up the Deathstar.

So, while the pace wasn't exactly flying, it was still faster than planned in order to retreat to air conditioned refuge away from those winged bastards. Thankfully, I finally feel like I've nearly full absorbed the Pemi run... only some very light calf soreness left and that was hardly noticeable.

Ran 3.8 miles @ 9:29/mile pace.
Trails.
Very hilly.
Around 80 degrees, sunny, humid.
Inov-8 Roclite 243, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Post-USA World Cup Defeat Run

Was over at Peter's watching the USA/Belgium game. They lost, but not without putting up a good fight, especially at the end. I'm not a huge soccer fan, but the World Cup is the World Cup, it's hard to not give it some attention.

After two days off, I had hoped my legs would have a little more pep. They're recovering just fine from the Pemi Loop, but not surprisingly, it's going a bit slower due to the lack of mileage.

However, we maintained a comfortable pace on some trails in Cape Elizabeth, getting in just under six miles. It was a great way to loosen up. Onward.

Ran 5.8 miles @ 10:44/mile pace.
Trails.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 70s, partly cloudy, humid.
Inov-8 Roclite 243, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap, handheld bottle (diluted lemonade).

Monday, June 30, 2014

Pemi Loop Run

The other day was a great day with friends. Zak, John, Jim and I headed over to the Whites to run the Pemi Loop, going counter-clockwise. Well, Jim's plan was to run with us to somewhere between Bond and South Twin and turn around, which he did and kindly went into town to buy barley sodas for when we were done.

I was clearly the weakest link of the three of us doing the full loop. Zak and John are in the prime of their 100-mile training, and this was their last big run before tapering down for the Vermont 100. As for me? Well, since Boston I've been averaging about 15-20 miles a week. Granted, that's been increasing a little the past few weeks since I'm ramping up for the Big Brad Ultra, but running the Pemi at this stage might have been stupid.

However, it went great. Yes, I was slow. Yes, it's been two days now and I'm still more sore than I'd like to be. But no harm done and throughout the loop I felt great. Mentally with it, never bonking (though the last few climbs were tough). I was just slower, is all.

Glad I did it. A great boost all around for my goals and I plan to run it again later this summer at a faster lick.

Zak, Jim and John on Bondcliff. 
Franconia Ridge: the final ridge. 
If you look really close on the foreground ridge, there is a blackish shape that is a moose. 
Looking at Flume from Liberty. One peak to go. 

Squirrel's nemesis: the spruce grouse. 
Ran 31.5 miles @ 21:34/mile pace.
Overall time: ~11:19
Mountain trails.
Insanely hilly.
Lower 60s on summits, upper 70s in valleys, partly cloudy.
Inov-8 Roclite 243, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap, fastpack.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Another Short One

Eight days in a row of running. The mileage hasn't been anything spectacular due to the ramp up, but consistency is important and the motivation and desire is definitely there.

Run went well. Same short route as yesterday, and nearly the exact same time (two seconds slower today). Pace still intentionally easy to save the legs for tomorrow. Still loving the Inov-8s.

I'm really stoked to be running the Pemi tomorrow. I haven't done it in a few years and the weather looks perfect, with highs in the upper 50s and partly cloudy on the higher peaks according to the MWO. Fun, small group of us as well, it should be epic.

Ran 3.5 miles @ 9:29/mile pace.
Trails.
Very hilly.
Mid 60s, sunny.
Inov-8 Roclite 243, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Finally... A Pair of Inov-8s That Fit



I've always been just a touch jealous of my friends who run in Inov-8s. They are brand loyal for seemingly good reason, but alas, over the years I've never been able to find a pair that properly fit my feet. They were either way too narrow or just didn't feel right. However, Inov-8 recently has been touting new models with wider toe boxes, and after some research, I decided to order a pair of the Roclite 243s.

They arrived yesterday afternoon and I tore open the box like a kid on Christmas morning. I took a deep breath in anticipation, really wanting them to fit... and then I slipped them on. They fit! Not only that, they really fit, in that perfect sense that leaves you without any doubt that as long as they grip well and are durable, they will be winners.

Speaking of grip and durability, the initial run in wet and somewhat muddy conditions helped prove the former, and the reinforced sidewalls have me confident these should last me through the summer. Also, the low profile with hardly any heel lift (3mm) were must-haves. Yep, I'm pretty excited and optimistic about this pair. They'll get a good test on the Pemi Loop on Saturday.

Because of the Pemi Loop run, today's run was really short and slow on purpose. If I run tomorrow, it'll likely be the same. I'm still ramping up, so I'll save the heroics for the mountains.

Also worth noting, I killed around five deer flies and dropped them in the salmon pool. The fish were most grateful for the breakfast.

Ran 3.5 miles @ 9:29/mile pace.
Trails.
Very hilly.
Mid 60s, overcast, very humid.
Inov-8 Roclite 243, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Nice Surprise

Hardly any deer flies out this morning! It was odd. Not that I'm complaining. But still, for mid/late morning this time of the year and with the warm temps and humidity that have been building the past several days, it should have indicated a full on blitzkrieg of the little bastards. Not much wind either, though that wasn't the case earlier this morning, so maybe that played a factor? Whatever. I'll take it.

Just an easy five miler on mostly flat trails and fire roads. Running the Pemi Loop on Saturday, so tomorrow and Friday will also be light days, maybe even one of them a rest day. I'm still ramping up, so best to play it cautiously for now. Very much looking forward to hitting the mountains with some good friends!

Ran 5.1 miles @ 9:20/mile pace.
Trails.
Mostly flat.
Lower to mid 70s, partly cloudy, humid.
New Balance MT110, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Woods Out Back

Solid seven miler this morning, running the big loop in the woods out back. Good energy, despite only having two cups of espresso and no breakfast other than two blocks of energy chews.

Deer flies were only bad in two spots: on the old logging road at the start of the run and a climb up a hill about halfway into the run. I had feared they'd be bad on the final, long stretch of fire road, but the wind kept them at bay there. Non-existent on the single and double track. That was a nice treat.

Very good pace for this route. I'd classify it as moderate. You can fly on the fire roads but the actual trails are quite technical... good mix and the effort was the same all around.

The new Inov-8s come in tomorrow afternoon, looking forward to that.

Ran 7.4 miles @ 9:13/mile pace.
Trails.
Very hilly.
Mid to upper 60s, partly cloudy, breezy.
New Balance MT110, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Early Morning TRAFFIC Run

Today is going to be busy, but I woke up really early and couldn't fall back asleep so I decided to take advantage of the extra time and go for a TRAFFIC run.

Just went to the Salmon Pool out back. Caught eight salmon parr and one chub. With 3.8 miles run, the total score was 118.5. (38 points for mileage + 80.5 for the fish).

It was a good way to get in a run (and some fly fishing) on a day that was going to be a rest day. Nice and cool out also, keeping the mosquitoes and deer flies to a very minimum.

I don't think a lot of people understand just how much fun small stream fishing is. You're not going to land any lunkers or even any keepers for that matter, but it presents numerous other challenges and is very enjoyable. And a 3 weight rod is smaller and easier to run with. Here are a couple of pics:



Ran 3.8 miles @ 10:21/mile pace.
Trails.
Very hilly.
New Balance MT110, shorts, long sleeved shirt, cap, TRAFFIC gear.
Upper 40s to lower 60s, sunny.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Feeding the Fish

It is immensely satisfying to stop at the Salmon Pool, swat and kill deer flies, drop them into the water and watch the baby salmon gobble them up. Today I dropped two into the water and within seconds there was a splash and they were gone. Awesome.

Run itself was short and sweet. Just wanted to loosen up after yesterday. Surprisingly, not really creaky or tight at all, just some general muscle fatigue. Very comfortable recovery pace. Very, very glad that the heel continues to feel fine. It really was the shoes.

Speaking of which, I ordered a pair of Inov-8 Roclite 243s this morning. Should have them by mid-week, giving me the chance to get in a few runs with them before tackling the Pemi Loop on Saturday. The shoes, on paper at least, are everything I was looking for: Low profile, very little heel lift (3mm), aggressive tread and reinforced sidewalls. Hopefully they'll fit okay.

Ran 3.5 miles @ 10:03/mile pace.
Trails.
Very hilly.
Lower 60s, sunny.
New Balance MT110, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Money, It's Got to Be the Shoes!



Last week, a few miles into the BBU loop my right heel started nagging. I was wearing some questionable shoes which I theorized gave me problems last year. So, I switched to an older pair I had laying around that had served me well. Today, a few miles into the BBU loop, the heel felt better. I was impressed, not to mention happy.

The run itself also went well. Was with Ian and John for the pretty much the duration, but was also joined by Mike and Sean for the first half.

Because the heel felt better, I was more comfortable with the pace. Not blazing fast at all, mind you, but still faster than last week and over 2100' of elevation gain on technical trails doesn't allow for much speed.

However, I'm not sure that the pair of MT110's I ran in today have too much life left in them. Like a bad Rocky movie, they were taken out of retirement but are on their last legs. The new MT110 v2s won't be released until July, but I haven't been able to find out when in July. Early in the month, I might be able to wait. Might. Late in the month? That's a stretch. We'll see.

Ran 15.4 miles @ 11:14/mile pace.
Technical trails.
Extremely hilly.
Lower to upper 60s, partly cloudy.
New Balance MT110, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap, handheld bottle (water).

Friday, June 20, 2014

Back from Jackman

Returned from an epic 4-day camping trip in the north woods outside of Jackman (near the Canadian border) yesterday afternoon. The trip was a great way to celebrate with some fellow teachers/fly fishermen the end of a successful school year.

I missed running during this time. Many times I looked at the surrounding mountains and wondered what the views were like on top. A big part of me wanted to run up them, but the focus was on catching trout and salmon, and there was plenty of that. Plenty. I lost track of how many I caught. So did everyone else.

We caught (and ate) some big ones, saw a moose cross the river next to us while we were wetting our lines, ate moose meat for dinner (not the same one), and simply had huge fun catching plentiful amounts of fish in the middle of nowhere. Great time with some great people. I didn't take many pictures because the fishing was so great, but here's a few:

One of many salmon. 

Post storm rainbow in front of our Camp Fish Slayer.
After that trip, it felt great to be back home with my wife and also sleep in my own comfortable bed. I did miss being sung to sleep by loons and great horned owls. One can get very used to that. But I woke up refreshed and eager to run. I just did five miles, sticking to a mostly flat route on fire roads. It was a good way to kick off some rust and save a little for something longer tomorrow.

The heel is still bugging me. I'm going to do some aggressive foot and calf stretching for a while and see if that helps. I also took the New Balance MT110 out of retirement today since they are very low profile and that seems to help. They're also the least beat up out of my trail shoes, despite having over 650 miles on them. I'm going to try to hold out with those until the new MT100 v2 comes out in July. Those look promising.

Ran 5.2 miles @ 9:33/mile pace.
Trails, fire roads.
Mostly flat.
Around 60 degrees, sunny.
New Balance MT110, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Barefoot Five

Opted to run barefoot on the athletic fields to help loosen things up. Went well. Normally, this is very boring. The loop is 6/10 of a mile and therefore quite monotonous. The excitement factor is pretty nil.

Today, however, I had some good side entertainment as a boy and a man, presumably his grandfather, were flying a remote control airplane overhead. I've always been drawn to many of the "nerdier" hobbies, and found it pretty fascinating to watch. They left after I had a few miles in, but my mind remained occupied with other happy thoughts and time went by quickly.

Weather was really nice. Dry air has moved in and with a somewhat cool breeze out of the northwest made it an especially nice morning to get out. Breaks in the humidity are always welcome from this time of year through September.

This could be my last run until the end of the week, as tomorrow afternoon I'm heading north for several days to camp and fly fish. The trip of course will no doubt be a blast, but I am regretting that I likely won't be able to get in any running. Signing up for that 50-miler definitely has me rejuvenated. Perhaps if I can manage to wake up early tomorrow, I can get in a few miles.

Ran 5.1 miles @ 9:41/mile pace.
Grass fields.
Flat.
Barefoot, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap.
Upper 60s, partly cloudy.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Big Brad Ultra Loop... Well, Kind of...

Goal today was to get in a preview of the 15.5 mile Big Brad Ultra loop, starting at the Bradbury Mountain main parking area (as opposed to the school). I did most of it... but got a bit lost at times. That's alright, getting in about 75% or so of the correct trails was pretty satisfactory.

I should know these trails better than I do, but whenever I run here, it's usually with a group and someone else is leading. I haven't had to pay much attention to where I was going, making me the man who was given the fish but was not taught how to fish.

I started off with Ian, Zak and Nathan but my right heel was bugging me after a few miles so I opted to slow down. That, and I'm rusty. Nathan hung back a few times to make sure I was making the correct turns, but I missed the Fox West trail and was going down the snowmobile trail at one point, trying to remember if that was part of the course (I verified it wasn't when I got home).

As for the heel, I've been wearing the Saucony Peregrine 3 shoes from last year... the same ones that gave me trouble back then as well. I'm only wearing them now because I blew out my New Balances, and the Peregrines have actually served me well this spring up until now... but now they're also blown out (huge tear on the left side of the left shoe), so they've been given a fitting death. Will do some research today on what pair I want to try next. I've had several adequate trail shoes before, but I've still yet to find a pair that's perfect, or at least somewhat close to perfect. I suspect the heel pain will go away with a better fitting shoe, just like last year.

Anyway, back to the run... despite the rust and the heel, it went quite well. Pace was very slow, but that was intentional. I just wanted to get in the mileage and get a good visual of the course. Towards the end, could not find the Lunchbreak Hill turnoff to save my life. Was a bit frustrated by that, but decided to just continue down the Terrace Trail and call it good.

Ran 13.8 miles @ 12:04/mile pace.
Trails.
Extremely hilly.
Upper 50s to mid 60s, mostly cloudy, humid.
Saucony Peregrine 3, shorts, short sleeved shirt, handheld bottle (water).

Thursday, June 12, 2014

WD-40

Strategy is to run very regularly but keep them short until the rust comes off. This is opposed to banging out the usual 7+ mile runs during the week, but only being able to manage a few of them being that I haven't been running as much. This will also be good mentally as I get into a rhythm and start to build up the base for the BBU 50-miler.

That being said, will be taking four days off next week, as I'll be up outside of Jackman on a camping/fly fishing extravaganza. Will be running longer this weekend though, so hopefully that'll make up for it some. However, if the fishing is slow, I'm told there there are a few good peaks to run up.

Yesterday, ran the 3.5 mile loop out back. Felt fine and was uneventful. Did feel the tap, tap, tap on my head from a deer fly. Grrr. Those things suck. Afterwards, met up with Peter on the river and while it was slow, we both did land some trout. I beat up one a little too much so I decided to take it home for dinner. Tasty.

Filleted and pan fried with butter, garlic and white wine. Quite delicious. 

Ran 3.5 miles @ 9:32/mile pace.
Trails.
Very hilly.
Lower 70s, partly cloudy.
Saucony Peregrine 3, shorts, short sleeved shirt.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Bit of Ketchup Catch-Up

Rewind to last Saturday. The TARC 50/100 down in Massachusetts. Kate and Danielle were running the 50 and Bob D. and Tom W. were running the 100. Perhaps obviously, I was focused on crewing for Kate and hopefully seeing her get through her first 50 mile race.

The course was hilly and technical and the weather was hot; not a good recipe for a first 50-miler. Long story short, Kate had to drop at mile 35 due to foot pain. But... I cannot express how sincerely proud I am of her. This pride is not to be mistaken for being cliche or as a token gesture after a perceived failure. She fought like hell and kept pushing even though she knew later on during the race that she wasn't going to make the cut-off. She exhibited true ultra-runner spirit to the bone by not giving up until she had to and being disappointed that she dropped, but still proud of her effort. She's hungry for another shot at a 50, and given her display of toughness, I know she'll get it.

Danielle finished the 50 and Tom the 100... both putting up great efforts despite the course and the heat, which contributed to a 65% finishing rate for the 50 and only 15% for the 100.

So, the decision that evening was easy. Given the inspirational performances from my wife and friends, it was more than enough to push me over the edge towards registering for the Big Brad Ultra 50 Miler this October. I am really glad I did.

And now today. Just a short four miler. Some rust, humidity and lack of decent sleep the past few nights conspired against me. Not a slog and it was quite enjoyable... just didn't feel very peppy is all. It happens. Next time.

Ran 3.8 miles @ 9:43/mile pace.
Trails.
Very hilly.
Lower 70s, mostly cloudy, humid.
Saucony Peregrine 3, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

A Break in the Routine

Didn't teach today, since I was scheduled to go to Southern Maine Community College for dual enrollment orientation. I'll be teaching one of their courses to my high school students and they'll get free college credit out of it, which of course is a great opportunity and I'm excited about that.

Said orientation didn't begin until 10am, which allowed a nice window to easily get in a run before I headed out. Ran the seven mile loop in the woods out back. Went quite well. Easy paced and a rather enjoyable run in the woods.

After the seminar, I swung by the river on the way home to fly fish. Beautiful afternoon out, aside from a pretty gusty wind which made casting a bit tricky but double hauling and keeping the line low helped a lot. Ended up catching a smallmouth and a brookie on a bead-headed nymph.

Low water levels. 

Blurry pic of the brookie (was in a hurry to return him to the water)
Ran 7.3 miles @ 9:49/mile pace.
Trails.
Very hilly.
Mid 50s, sunny.
Saucony Peregrine 3, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

A Saturday Morning at Bradbury

Met up with a large contingent at Bradbury Mountain State Park this morning. Splinter groups were formed and as planned I ran with Ryan and John and we were joined by David R. and Mike. Great time.

I was expectedly rusty but taking that into account I did quite well. A little over ten miles that was made easier with great company. Ryan, John and I constantly bust on each other which is always a hoot. Capped off with a brunch at Edna and Lucy's it made for a perfect Saturday morning.

Ran 10.6 miles @ 10:25/mile pace.
Trails.
Very hilly.
Mid to upper 50s, partly cloudy, humid.
Saucony Peregrine 3, shorts, short sleeved shirt, Nathan double water belt.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Beating the Storm

I did have plans to chunk and swing large streamers in a nearby river to go after some larger trout and salmon I suspect exist in one particular run, but the radar showed some boom boom moving in and I changed plans.

So, for once, I cancelled fly fishing in favor of running, rather than the other way around. With lightning possible, I figured running under dense tree cover was much safer than being out on a large, open river while waving a nine foot graphite rod.

Besides, the run would be short since I have something longer planned with Ryan and John tomorrow. I could also beat the storm, and I did. However, as I type this, the skies are darkening and a distant thunder is rumbling on the horizon. Yep, good call to go running instead. 

Ran 3.5 miles @ 9:27/mile pace. 
Trails. 
Very hilly. 
Mid 60s, partly cloudy, humid. 
Saucony Peregrine 3, shorts, short sleeved shirt. 

A Tough Assignment

The antibiotics have left my system and I'm feeling great. I'm going to start ramping back up my activity, and kicked that off with a work-related mountain bike ride yesterday.

As a media instructor, I get asked for video help quite a bit. I'm not going to lie, the vast majority of the time it is aggravating and while I love to help other people out, I also want video projects to fall within the curriculum and also challenge students. Otherwise, I'd rather not waste my time nor my students' time, especially since others are expecting this work for free. I say No, sorry often and unfortunately, I have to be somewhat stern about it at times, which is not fun. I'll stop now before I go on a rant.

But once in a blue moon, a sweet proposal comes along that we'll jump on, and recently a very fun one plopped itself on my lap. Since it's the end of the school year, my seniors are understandably distracted since they have graduation on their brains, and my juniors are busy with end of the year projects. No worries, I gladly accepted this project myself.

The town's grant writer wanted me to mountain bike a 3-4 mile section of trail with a GoPro and time lapse it down to three minutes for a presentation he has later next month. Fun to film and very easy to edit, making it an ideal task.

It was a nice ride, and despite taking a few wrong turns the filming was otherwise a success. The highlight was perhaps running into a family of geese, complete with at least four fluffy little babies and their angry, honking parents at the end of the trail.

It was also a good litmus test for me to gauge how I was feeling. I've been pretty tired for much of this week, but feeling better each day and I felt great during the ride. Still monitoring things, but I suspect I'm in the clear.

Some screen grabs from the video:

Trees.

Open trail. 

Honking geese parents and their fluffy little children. 

Mountain biked 7.5 miles @ 9.3mph/avg.
Trails.
Mostly flat.
Upper 60s, partly cloudy.
Specialized P.2, Saucony Peregrine 3, shorts, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Ticks Suck

That's no boob. That's my tick bite.
So, I've been taking it easy the past several days as a precaution. I was given a large dose of antibiotics the other day for Lyme Disease after a mysterious rash developed on my side around an embedded tick. It might be Lyme, but it could be something else.

Let me rewind a bit first. I distinctly remember feeling a minor irritation on my side last Sunday while I was fishing. I wrote it off as being a mosquito bite on or near a scar I have from a previous surgery, especially since I was devoured by said flying insects along with their black fly brethren the previous day while also out fishing and stupidly forgot to use bug spray. The fishing was great though, with three salmon on Saturday and two browns and a brookie on Sunday... all on dry flies and in a short amount of time... but I suppose that's neither here nor there.

So, on Monday morning, Kate noticed an embedded tick an inch or so below the scar with a quarter sized red rash to go along with it. In the immediate vicinity of where the tick was, the skin was very black (more on that later). Kate kept pretty calm, which for her is good given her propensity to freak out about insects. I said "I guess I should go to the doctor now, huh?". Kate replied, "Yes. Yes you should." Before I left though we pulled the tick out and killed it, but kept its exoskeletal carcass in a bag in case it was needed.

Off I went. The doctor looked at it briefly and prescribed a single, 200mg dose of doxycycline, which is standard procedure for effectively treating Lyme within 72 hours of a suspected infection, or so I've read.

However... that black dot. It's odd. It's not a bruise from where the tick was, as it doesn't look like it and also the black dot was present when the tick was still embedded. It's consistent with an eschar, which is a good indicator of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever or one of it's related bacteria that are present in Maine.

Long term treatment for RMSF is the same as Lyme, but it's unclear from what I've found if that initial dose of 200mg is enough for that disease as well. I guess I should go see a specialist, but waiting to see if I get the initial headache and fever followed by an outbreak of body rashes is kind of adventurous in a sick kind of way (pun intended). Stay tuned.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Mountain Bike and TRAFFIC Run

In the morning, I mountain biked a trail with the intent of filming the ride with a GoPro. I was going to edit the footage for the grant writer of the town I teach in, but I discovered just before the ride that the battery was dead. Argh. Still, we rode the trails so I at least now know the route. I'll have to go back next week.

The ride was fun though. Nice to take the bike out for the first time this season. Fun to do every now and then for something different.

Mountain biked 6.0 miles @ 8.3 mph.
Trails.
Mostly flat.
Upper 50s, partly cloudy.
Saucony Peregrine 3, shorts, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt.

Later in the afternoon, I packed up the 3 weight fly rod and ran out to the salmon pool. And there was salmon! Only parr (babies) exist in this pool, but they're good catch and release fun.

Scoring details are still being worked out, but a rough draft is as follow: Points are scored based on mileage, fish species and size.

Mileage: Multiplied by 10. For example, a 15.4 mile run would yield 154 points for the run itself.

Fish species and size: Salmon and trout base points are 10 points. For every inch over 12 inches, an additional two points. In other words, any salmon or trout a foot or less is 10 points. If you landed a 15" brownie it would yield 16 points (10 point base, plus two points for each of the three inches over one foot = 16).

Smallmouth and largemouth bass have a 5 point base up to one foot, with the same point bonus for each inch over the base points that trout and salmon have.

Sunshfish are two points. No size bonuses.

Chubs are a half a point. Chubnobyles over a foot are one point. No incremental bonuses. Afterall, they're just chubs.

So today, yielded 67 points. The 3.7 mile run was worth 37 points. The three baby salmon were worth 30. But most importantly it was nice to know the salmon are back and active in the pool. Good fun for sure. Best sport ever.

I would have stayed longer but I moronically forgot the bug spray and the mosquitoes and black flies were horrendous. Stupid is as stupid does, I should have known better.

Ran 3.7 miles @ 9:50/mile pace.
Trails.
Very hilly.
Lower 60s, partly cloudy.
Saucony Peregrine 3, shorts, long sleeved shirt, cap.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Tale of Two Dogs

Jet and Kip. 
My good friends Ian and Emma are a bit busy with their newborn daughter, so I offered to take their super energetic, nuclear powered, turbocharged border collies, Kip and Jet, for a run this afternoon.

It was awesome, of course. While I know Kip and Jet are always super responsive around their owners when they run with us, I wasn't sure if they would extend the same courtesy to me while I was alone with them in the woods. They did and then some. They were simply awesome. Best running dogs ever.

My legs felt really dead, which warranted many stops and looks back from Kip and Jet as if to say, "Dude, you don't run as fast my masters". They were super patient, automatically waiting at trail junctions and then bolting ahead but always stopping or running back after a few dozen yards.

I really, really enjoyed it and it reinforced how much I can't wait to get my own dogs once we move. One will likely be a bird dog, but for the other one... a border collie would be pretty sweet.

Ran 5.4 miles @ 11:00/mile pace.
Trails.
Slightly hilly.
Around 70 degrees, partly cloudy, somewhat humid.
Saucony Peregrine 3, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Call It A Tempo Run

Ran the big loop out back again, but took a detour on a horse trail that goes around a badly damaged ATV bridge. Felt great so I let the pace drop, especially in the second half. Very fun run.

Several ATV'ers out which provided some good entertainment. The first group I encountered was a guy and a young female, presumably his daughter. The guy had just skirted around a very large, deep mud puddle on his dirt bike, but the girl on the ATV was on the other side and looked hesitant to cross. I nodded a greeting to the guy as I passed, then I ran smack dab through the deepest part of the puddle, not slowing down much despite the mid-thigh muddy water. Once on the other side I told the girl "That's how you do it" as I ran by and proceeded up the next hill. 

Another group was very large. Perhaps about a dozen of them in all, spread out along a long downhill. All were very polite and moved way over as I came along, which was much appreciated.

Overall pace was pretty darn speedy. Breaking 9:00/mile on this route is rarely accomplished. Given that, I'll chalk it up as a tempo run. 

Ran 7.4 miles @ 8:55/mile pace. 
Trails. 
Very hilly. 
Mid 60s, partly cloudy. 
Saucony Peregrine 3, shorts, short sleeved shirt. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Rain and Trails

The rain was winding down by the time I had my morning coffee. I headed out as a light rain still fell and it kept me company throughout the run, lending to some nice ambience.

Past three days were off from running... that allowed ample time to absorb last weekend's long run and the legs and energy were both pretty peppy as a result. That being said, I'm not all that happy with this week's low mileage. Looking to remedy that next week. 

Ran 7.3 miles @ 9:46/mile pace. 
Trails. 
Very hilly. 
Around 60 degrees, overcast, light rain throughout. 
Saucony Peregrine 3, shorts, short sleeve shirt, long sleeve shirt (shed after one mile). 


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Tardiness and Possible Truancy

This post is late. Truth be told, I'm burned out on blogging at the moment. Some reflection has revealed that, at least in part, it's due to a general weariness of social media in general. I read a study recently which said that social media use drastically declines for most folks after they get married. I guess that applies to me.

I'm seeing that same mentality cross over into blogging. What was once as natural as breathing is becoming a labored chore. Perhaps it'll pass. Perhaps it won't.

That all being said, I ran the other day. I brought my fly fishing gear, but never fished. The salmon pool was shallow and still held several suckers. The boggy stream was still occupied by a family of geese... though I didn't see their young ones this time, I mused they were close by. I yielded to their warning honks and left.

A few dozen feet later, a brown, prickly mass high up in a tree caught the corner of my eye. It was a porcupine. He/she was just sitting there, chillin' like Bob Dylan, reminding me of a mountain hermit poised on a cliff that has all of the answers to life's questions. I decided I liked that notion, left the porcupine to its own devices and ran home.


"42"

Ran 3.6 miles @ 10:27/mile pace.
Trails.
Very hilly.
Upper 50s, partly cloudy.
Saucony Peregrine 3, shorts, long sleeved shirt, backpack with FF gear.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Weekend at Acadia

A great weekend of camping with several of my Trail Monster Running teammates. Very fun time filled with hilarity. It was nearly perfect...except for the weather. We woke up to a light rain on Saturday morning, which soon turned into a downpour. It made it memorable though.

Ryan, John and I planned on a 20+ mile run that went up the North Trail of Cadillac Mountain. Once above treeline, the colder temps along with a horizontal rain that pelted us like a gang of boys with BB guns forced our hands and we decided to head back down on an improvised route.

We were glad we did. The trees provided protection from the wind and though we were soaking wet, we were relatively warm and comfortable. Jokes ensued while we tackled the Witch Hole loop, followed by heading over to Aunt Betty Pond and around Eagle Lake... and a little over 20 miles later we were done. Very fun time.


Ran 20.4 miles @ 9:59/mile pace. 
Single track and carriage roads. 
Extremely hilly. 
Lower to mid-50s, overcast, moderate rain. 
Saucony Peregrine 3, shorts, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt, cap, gloves (shed 1/3 of the way through). 

By Sunday morning, the weather had pulled a Cinderella. After packing up camp under a bright, warm sun, a few of us headed over to Eagle Lake while the others opted to run up Cadillac.

I ran with Shauna at first, but felt really creaky the first few miles. I told her to go ahead and shortly thereafter I stopped for a bio break. After that, my legs began to loosen up and by the end of the loop I felt great. Last mile clocked in at around 6:50. Nice cap to a great weekend.

An "Awwww" moment on Sunday morning with Jim and Shauna's labs.

Ran 5.8 miles @ 8:28/mile pace. 
Carriage roads. 
Upper 60s, sunny. 
Moderately hilly. 
Saucony Peregrine 3, shorts, short sleeved shirt. 

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Trail Trot

Did the big loop in the woods out back. Legs are definitely not in "let's go!" mode. More like "Dude, this is work" mode. That latter is fine for longer runs or speed workouts, but not for easy runs like today.

That's okay though. I'm in a post-marathon heal up and chill out phase, but it's time to start entering a rebuilding phase. What I'm working towards, I don't know, but I do know I don't like not being in decent running shape. Last summer took relaxing a little too far. This summer, I aim to still not compete (because I don't want to), but would like to still be in competitive shape (because I want to). Today was a good step in that direction.

Ran 7.3 miles @ 10:06/mile pace.
Trails.
Very hilly.
Mid 60s, partly cloudy.
Saucony Peregrine 3, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Monday, May 05, 2014

TRAFFICing

Trail Running And Fly Fishing In Combination = Trafficing. Clever, huh?

I packed my 3-weight rod and other fly fishing gear in my small lightweight, fastpacking backpack and ran to the salmon pool. This was a good test to see how it felt to run with the gear, and everything felt snug and comfortable.

Unfortunately, the salmon pool is still being invaded by spawning suckers. They should be clearing out within the next few weeks. I can only hope the salmon will move back in.

I continued on the loop with intent of fishing the boggy creek next. I noticed a few geese there the other day, right next to a spot where I got a strike the other week. They were still there, but upon closer observation I noticed it was actually a family, complete with a couple of older babies. I opted not to disturb them and continued on home.

I plan to develop a point system for TRAFFICing, where running mileage, fish size and species caught are factored in together for a score. I'll detail all of this within a week or two. It's fun, even if I'm the only one participating in this radical new sport.

Ran 3.6 miles @ 9:57/mile pace.
Fish caught: 0.
Trails.
Very hilly.
Around 60, partly cloudy.
Saucony Peregrine 3, shorts, long sleeved shirt, cap, TRAFFICing gear.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Birthday Run!

Celebrated part of my birthday with a run at the Bangor City Forest with Kate and her brother, Chris. Light train throughout but it was actually rather pleasant. The trails drain well here, at least on the East/West Trail, so not much mud which was fine with me since I only had my road shoes.

Kate and her brother ran counter-clockwise so they could visit the bathrooms while I ran clockwise. I heard them coming up the trail, hid and managed to scare Kate enough where she screamed. That was awesome.

Ran 4.6 miles @ 9:40/mile pace.
Trails.
Mostly flat.
Lower 50s, overcast, light rain throughout.
Saucony Virrata, shorts, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Exploration and Scouting

Short trail run in the woods out back. I also scouted animal tracks, looked for antler sheds and bushwhacked to explore a small stream. As a result, the pace was slow, but given there were multiple tasks on this outing, that's to be expected.

Tomorrow will be a planned rest day (will be fishing). Would like to get my weekly mileage back up into the 30-50 mile a week range in the next handful of weeks and maintain that during the summer... which equates to running when I feel like it. Ah, freedom.

Ran 4.1 miles @ 11:51/mile pace.
Technical trails.
Very hilly.
Lower 60s, sunny.
New Balance MT1010, shorts, long sleeved shirt (why I didn't go with a short sleeve shirt is beyond me).

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Nine Days

It's been a full nine days since Boston and I haven't run since... until today. Felt GREAT to get out. I hit the rail trails, so nice to be out in the woods.

Run went very well. Some rust, but not much, and the legs otherwise felt pretty great and well rested. Looking forward to entering my next training regime which focuses on absolutely nothing.

Ran 6.0 miles @ 8:41/mile pace.
Rail trails.
Slighly hilly.
Mid 40s, overcast.
New Balance MT1010, shorts, long sleeved shirt.

2014 Boston Marathon Race Report

Wow, where to start? I wasn't even going to run Boston this year. Last year was my third in a row and I figured I would take a break not just from Boston, but from doing so many races in general. But then those couple of pathetic losers had to do what they did, and myself along with tens of thousands of others of Boston Marathoners wanted to run as a show of resilience and fortitude, in essence giving the giant middle finger to anyone who dares %$#@ with our running community.

So, after last year... hours after the blasts, I believe... I turned to Kate and said "I really want to run it next year". Her response was an immediate "You definitely should". I already had a solid qualifier in the bank that I could use. All I had to do was sign-up, train and show-up. I'm very glad I did.

Pre-Race
Kate and I before the bus took me from South Street to Athlete's Village.

Kate and her parents dropped me off at South Street in Hopkinton earlier than ever. After bidding them adieu, I quickly made my way over to the porta-pottie. Stomach was not super happy, I just hoped it settled down before the race. Thankfully, it did.

The bus ride over was the usual scene. I sat next to a very down to earth fellow named Ernesto and we casually chatted over the occasional voice of a runner speaking a bit too loudly about their accomplishments. We arrived and were swallowed into Athlete's Village.

I had planned on skipping AV and heading down to the start line. Long story short, I was trapped inside and they weren't letting runners down there until it was around 45 minutes until their wave's start. However, the hours went by quickly thanks to linking up with a Yooper woman, a Canadian and a fellow from Denver in a prime, sunny spot against a netted batter's cage, and we had great conversations and also watched each other's stuff when bathroom trips were needed.

Soon, it was time to head down to the start. By now my stomach had finally settled down.... you know what, let's call a spade a spade... my colon had settled down, and for that I was grateful. Was worried about hydration as a result, but I drank as much as I could without risking stopping to pee on someone's front lawn early in the race.

Lined up in the corral. Excited, happy and nervous energy. Military helicopter flyover after the National Anthem. Starting gun. Just under five minutes to reach the official start line and I was off.

Miles 1-5
If there's a plus side to being sick last month and not really feeling on again until a week before the race, it's that there was no real pressure. Goals were hard to set, but I had a few, but they were more like very general guidelines, meant to be bent and broken, much like traffic laws are for Massachusetts drivers.

I would have loved to have PR'd (3:07:58) or at least broken my best Boston time (3:11:35). Those were reach goals. Without knowing what to expect from the time off from being sick, I figured I would finish in a window of 3:05-3:20.

So, anyway, we were off... the first four miles of downhill are real quad busters, but the crowds in that first mile serve as a speed governor. A few minutes into the race, a woman kicked the bottom of my shoe and fell. I wanted to stop and help, but in that split second of fast, instinctive thinking, I also knew I'd greatly risk taking out runners if I did. However, she bounced right back up and said she was okay. I was worried she might unleash a verbal assault even though it was purely incidental, but thankfully not the case.

Splits during this stretch were 7:08, 6:52, 7:01, 6:58 and 7:06. It felt like more work than it should have, but I had hoped I would come around. I've had that happen before, as well as the opposite. It was a gamble, but one I was willing to take.

Also, I was sweating. Something I haven't heard a lot of chatter about was the warmth. I'm surprised by that. Sure, it wasn't the 90F/32C degrees it was two years ago, but it did get up to the upper 60sF/~20C with zero cloud cover. I think that obviously affected a lot of people's times, and the amount of cramping carnage on the backside of Heartbreak Hill to the finish was very apparent.

Miles 6-9
Continued to hold the pace, but I was still feeling out of sync at first. Throughout the next few miles, that would thankfully wane and I would get my rhythm, but alas, during that transition my hamstrings would also begin to tighten. That's a new one for me. My quads are usually the first muscle group to go, so while I was concerned I was also slightly fascinated. Splits were 6:57, 7:02*, 7:02* and 6:54 (forgot to hit lap button for seventh mile split, so that's an average between the two miles).

At around mile seven, I noticed a group of around 7-8 runners ahead of me all wearing "Eagle AC" singlets. Grellan had told me a few days ago that several members of his team were running Boston and to keep an eye out for them. Low and behold, here they were. Cool.

I caught up to them and introduced myself and asked if they knew Grellan. It was great entertainment to hear their excitement in their native accents. They were extremely friendly fellows and I really enjoyed running and chatting with them for a few minutes. I moved on ahead, but I'd see them later.

Miles 10-16
The scream tunnel at Wellesley... stuck to the left side of the road to save my eardrums. Why so many cute, young college girls would be willing to kiss smelly, ugly, middle-aged runners is beyond me. Fun tradition though.

Hamstrings were now so tight I could play Dueling Banjos on them and my pace began to slow. Splits were 7:04, 7:14, 7:16, 7:13, 7:31, 7:43 and 7:33. That was a bit demoralizing. I was in a good amount of pain here and still had a ways to go. But I've been through worse. This is where having some experience in ultramarathons, especially 100 milers, pays big dividends. You put your head down and bulldog through with an intense concentration on moving forward the best you can.

Saw Chandra who was volunteering at the water stop at Mile 14, another nice boost.

Miles 17-21
The Newton Hills. The first one is actually before that right hand turn on to Commonwealth, though that's often overlooked. That one kinda hurt. Took a Chocolate Espresso Gu after the climb was over and felt a boost, making the turn and psyching myself up for the final three.

Up another and another and then Heartbreak Hill. Saw some co-workers and other friends along the way. The carnage was apparent. Before, when I had slowed down I was like a log in the current as the majority of runners passed. Now, I was even, and noticed many walking from exhaustion, cramps or other ailments. The warm weather no doubt contributed a lot to that and I was glad I had been regularly drinking water and Gatorade at the stops, as well as taking Gu.

While it felt great to crest Heartbreak, the hammies were tight and truth be told I was pretty miserable. The only selfish and somewhat evil consolation was that others were very broken; limping with cramps, walking slower than an old person at the mall, or outright stopping and gazing into the distance. I normally enjoy the Boston College crowd very much, but unfortunately it took all of my focus to keep my pace up and block out the hammies.

Splits were 8:06, 7:51, 7:44, 8:08 and 8:41. Ouch.

Miles 22-25
More carnage. Crowds were very loud and encouraging. I was in that deep trance where all focus and energy were intensely concentrated on moving forward. Kate Upton could have been running next to me in a bikini and I probably wouldn't have noticed.

Looking at my pace I set the goal of breaking 3:20. It would be nice to have my minutes in the teens. That kept me going and didn't allow much room for slack, as it would be close. Splits were 8:24, 8:22, 8:24 and 8:41. Ugh.

Mile 26 and to the Finish
Boylston Street bliss.
The Citgo sign came and went. Soon was the dip in the road followed by the right turn on to Hereford. This is a natural reenergizer. Along this street I caught back up the Eagle AC guys and said hello again (they had passed me back on the hills).

The left turn on to Boyslton. Man, I was just so happy now. It was almost over! I had fought some pretty intense pain from the tight hamstrings in warm weather, which I don't run well in. Despite that, I knew I'd be breaking 3:20. I would gladly take it. Not my best time, but one of my better battles.

Made my way over to right side of the road and knew to look for Kate, my in-laws and our friend Peter near the hotel with the flags. Found them, yelled hello, and then reached the finish line and crossed, glad to be done. Average pace for that last 1.2 miles was 7:57/mile. Official time: 3:19:39.

Post Race
After finding Kate at the family meeting area, I went to the parking garage to clean-up and change. Found a most-excellent healthy burrito joint that also had homemade milkshakes. Yes, please. That really hit the spot. If you've never had a milkshake after a long race, I highly recommend it. I think a new tradition is born.

Security was ridiculously tight on Boyslton and we couldn't get back in, but we managed to get over near the right turn on Hereford to watch Christine come in. She was near the second blast last year, a scary time for her and the BAA graciously granted her a bib number. Very happy she had a good race.

Analysis
Sub-par performance for me, but it could have been worse. It was disappointing to have January and February's training go so perfectly only to have it unravel in March with the flu and subsequent slow recovery. But these things happen. It wasn't the first time and it won't be the last. It's all part of racing, pure and simple.

Very proud of how I battled the warmer weather and tight hamstrings. That made it tough but I bulldogged through it.

And of course... how cool is it that Meb won? Honored to have ran in his wake as he was the first American to win Boston in 31 years. I had the pleasure of meeting him last summer, and he's the real deal, both as a competitor and a person. Super nice guy.


Ran 26.2 miles @ 7:37/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Moderately hilly.
Around 50 degrees to lower 60s, sunny.
Saucony Virrata, shorts, singlet.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

2014 Boston Marathon in the Books

Welp, it's said and done. My 4th consecutive Boston was a good one. Finished in 3:19:39 which is a very mediocre time for me, but I'm not really all that disappointed. I'm very proud of how I battled very tight hamstrings and warmer than expected weather. And of course, the vibe was electric.

Lot's of great takeaways here, which I'll detail in a full report within a few days. Will take my usual post-road marathon week off from running and enjoy going to Fenway tonight for the Red Sox/Yankees game and chasing trout. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Boston Marathon Eve


Positive mindset. Fresh legs. Pumped, psyched and ready to go.  And yes, that is a fly hanging off of my bib number. I caught my first trout of the season on it, and I thought it'd be a fun good luck charm. 

Let's do this!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Final Pre-Boston Run

Tomorrow we travel down to Boston. First stop will be the expo to check-in and then probably some lunch before we head over to our hotel to relax for the rest of the day. I am really looking forward to it.

So, my final pre-race run was today. I opted to run to the salmon pool and back. Prior to today, I haven't seen fish there this season.

Unlike when I was fishing here a few weeks ago, I was surprised to see the water levels at close to their nominal levels and running relatively clear. I wonder if it's because the trees are producing less tannic acid since it's early spring. Stones ranging in size from pebbles to basketballs could easily be seen carpeting the bottom. It was pretty.

I sat and watched the water, looking toward the usual spots, hoping to see a fish to rise. With the especially cold and snowy winter and also the super high water levels lately, part of me wondered if the salmon would still be here. It would have been easy for them to go downstream to another pool or even the Saco River.

I noticed a few midges and something bigger, likely a stonefly, fluttering about, so the food is there. A few times I thought I saw a few small boils on the surface, but decided they were just eddies. For the same reasons hunters get buck fever, I suppose trout fever can also exist for fly fisherman.

Then I saw the telltale concentric ripples in the water. It had to have been a fish. I waited a few minutes for another, but saw none. I played devil's advocate with myself, wondering if something could have fallen from a tree. Possible, but I saw nothing on the surface. I'm at least 90% certain it was a fish and mused that a size 20 Griffith's Gnat would be a good fly to start with...if I had my gear with me. Satisfied, I ran home and ate lunch.

By the way, if you don't think this post was about my pre-race feelings, you're wrong.

Ran 2.5 miles @ 9:12/mile pace.
Trails.
Mostly flat.
Mid 50s, partly cloudy.
New Balance MT1010, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Very Short Progression

A little over 5K getting progressively faster throughout, working down to a 6:34/mile split for the last mile. Felt great. All systems go, ready to rock.

Run felt great despite being up since 2am. Forgot all about that until I was driving to pick up a new fly reel after the run and was feeling tired and cranky. I was like "Oh yeah." After said task I met up with Kate and two other friends at our favorite Vietnamese restaurant for an awesome dinner which of course put me in a happy mood.

Now, off to bed to go.


Ran 3.2 miles @ 7:23/mile pace. 
Paved roads. 
Slightly hilly. 
Lower 40s, sunny, breezy. 
Saucony Virrata, shorts, windbreaker, long sleeved shirt, beanie. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

That's What I'm Talking About

Just three miles today. But you can tell a lot in just three miles. Or at least I can. I know early on in a run if it's going to be nuclear powered, a slog or anything in between.

Today, I felt it. It. It being that feeling that all cylinders are firing. It being that feeling I'm supposed to be having right now a handful of days away from a marathon; like a bull ready to break out of the gate and fling the cowboy on his back to the moon. It being that I'm ready to simply kick some ass. Faster and longer would have been no problem. No problem at all.

It's a better late than never situation, but I feel like it's legit. While the training cycle might not have gone as smoothly as I'd like due to circumstances beyond my control, the hay is indeed in the barn. Let's do this.


Ran 3.0 miles @ 7:42/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Around 40 degrees, sunny.
Saucony Virrata, shorts, windbreaker, long sleeved shirt, beanie.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Mud, Rain and Trails

Past two days off... well, kind of. Sunday was off but yesterday I did hike just under two miles to a remote pond to fish. But today, a real run on real trails in real mud. It was awesome. With the rain there were some puddles so big they could have held trout.

What was more important was I felt great. Given the mud and the pouring rain, the pace for this route was nice and it felt easy. If I can continue to feel like this for the rest of my short runs this week - but while holding back, mind you - I will be very confident when I toe the line in Hopkinton. 

And yes, I probably overuse this video for muddy runs, but I don't care because it's still one of the greatest songs of all time:


Ran 3.6 miles @ 8:49/pace. 
Trails, very muddy with large puddles and some patches of ice. 
Very hilly. 
Upper 50s, overcast, heavy to moderate rain. 
New Balance MT1010, short, short sleeved shirt, cap. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Jack and Jill and Gnarlins

A really great Jack and Jill baby shower today for my very good friends Ian and Emma. Naturally, running was involved, and it was a great day with my super duper awesome Trail Monster Running friends.

Kate and I got their early to help set up a bit. Well, Kate set up a bit in all fairness... I just joined the group getting a jump start on the running since Ry-Bread and John were going long.

My plan was 10 miles, but the trail conditions were... well... horrendous. Pretty much equal parts of dirt, mud, snow and ice. Treacherous ice at that. As a result, the going was very slow, especially since I had regular trail shoes that weren't screwed and the YakTrax were foolishly left at home.

So, as a result, I was very satisfied to get in roughly 8.5 miles (my GPS wasn't behaving). This run was worth at least 11 miles.

Afterwards, there were barley sodas, awesome food and of course, watching two awesome friends open baby-related gifts. All the while I was musing at what incredible parents they are going to be and that kid will be very lucky to have them.

Ran 8.5 miles @ 11:40/mile pace.
Trails, full gamut of conditions.
Slightly hilly.
Lower 50s to lower 60s, sunny.
New Balance MT1010, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Friday, April 11, 2014

70 Degrees

Yep. 70F/21C during today's run. It felt really, really nice. My body was like "Whoa, I'm not used to running in this warm crap" but my mind was like "Ha ha ha ha, this is awesome".

Legs... well, my kneecaps felt a little sore, but that was not an issue once warmed up. Just a mild case of runner's knee, I think. Energy... meh. Though with the sudden warm temps I'm sure that threw me off a bit. It always does.

Afterwards, some fishing near a friend's camp but got skunked... April is always extremely hit and miss, with way more misses than hits for most folks. Especially this year, with winter running later into the year. So, it's all good.

Came home, and Kate and I lit some logs in the fire pit while enjoying a few barley sodas. Peeper Ale was had. Why? Well, funny you should ask. We have an annual tradition that we have said beverage when we hear the spring peepers for the first time. Such was the case this evening. Nice.


Ran 4.1 miles @ 7:41/mile pace.
Paved roads, small trail section.
Slightly hilly.
70 degrees, partly cloudy.
Saucony Virrata, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Dog Crap

Dog crap. It sucks to step in. It sucks even worse when your run feels like it. Such was the case today.

Ran a warm-up and it didn't feel all that great. Began some interval work and the feeling stayed. Legs just felt dead, so I cut it short.

Gotta say, I'm really frustrated right now. Ever since I got the flu last month, I just haven't felt the same. Expectations are now pretty low for Boston. But it is what it is. Let's just run the dang thing and try to have fun, then follow it up with a spring/summer of minimal racing, but lot's of running and fly fishing... combined. I think my heart is already at running out to very remote streams and ponds and catching trout.

w/u: Ran 1.7 miles @ 7:46/mile pace.
Intervals: Ran .9 miles @ 6:46/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly for w/u, flat for intervals.
Upper 40s, partly cloudy.
Saucony Virrata, shorts, short sleeved shirt, long sleeved shirt.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Holding Back

Held back today. No, no, not my pace! The urge to go to the bathroom. After three miles a Code Brown alert was issued. I knew a path was just down the hill where I could get into the woods and take care of things, and it took all of my willpower to get there without fumbling the ball.

I emerged from the trees two pounds lighter and continued on my run. All of that aside, I otherwise felt pretty mediocre. Normally less than two weeks out from a marathon, I'm experiencing taper worms and having to hold back. This time around, I feel a bit like a semi-truck with three flat tires driving down a washed out dirt road. Stupid flu.

Very light interval workout tomorrow. Then I'll fish. Yesterday, I had good success on a local pond, landing my first brookie of the season. Despite part of the pond being covered with ice still and no hatches that were visible, they were hitting the surface and I landed this little guy with a dry fly.

Caught and released. 

Ran 7.1 miles @ 7:58/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Lower 50s, overcast.
Saucony Virrata, shorts, long sleeved shirt.