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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Extremely hilly.
Upper 50s to mid 60s, mostly cloudy, humid.
Saucony Peregrine 3, shorts, short sleeved shirt, handheld bottle (water).

Thursday, June 12, 2014


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.
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.
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.
Very hilly.
Mid 50s, sunny.
Saucony Peregrine 3, shorts, short sleeved shirt.