Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 & 2008

A rest day today (and vacation doesn't end until Wednesday), so I thought I'd look back on the year that was and look forward to the year that is about to be:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...

My running went through a lot this year and I thought I'd record my thoughts not just too share, but also to remind myself of what what I felt were some great lessons learned. As a result, this post is a novel. Sorry...

Jan- Feb: Pacing and Being Honest with Yourself
I learned honesty is much easier than making excuses. January was great but in February, things took a turn for the worse. Though the meniscus was already torn during the Hyannis Marathon in February, I can still say with all honesty that it did not play a factor in my DNF. The injury made itself known during my taper period and didn't effect it much, and no pain or discomfort was felt in my knee on that race day. I DNF'd because I was overconfident and went out too fast. It would be easy to blame it on the injury, but the only reason I ran poorly was because of a poor decision. I was humbled for sure.

March-April: Patience
I learned to be patient and think positive. The diagnosis of my knee problem was a torn meniscus. Not a huge injury, but one that would still require surgery. I was not able to run much as a result, which required great patience and I learned to deal with it and stay positive. I looked forward to that surgery more than Christmas morning when I was a kid so I could get back on track. I also decided it was probably wise to forgo my race schedule that summer and concentrate on getting back in shape. A hard decision, but one I grew comfortable with (at the time anyway).

May: Listening to Your Body
I learned to listen to my body not just with injuries, but with recovering. I began running again at the beginning of May, a few weeks after the surgery, and with each run I became more and more comfortable. It was very tough at first, but the rust shed off quickly (thanks in large part to a good base of training laid down during the late fall and early winter) and by the end of the month, I knew the Vermont 100 would still be possible. The knee honestly felt and continues to feel perfect, but I was worried about being under-trained. But what the heck. If I was struggling during the race and couldn't continue, the missed training was a good reason. But if I did finish, it would be very sweet. I'd rather try and fail than not try at all.. What would I have to lose?

June: Perseverance
I learned that through perseverance comes confidence. The training continued to go extremely well and my confidence grew and grew, along with encouragement from friends and family. Stephen and James became regular training partners, and both were also doing the Vermont 100. They were not only very encouraging, but also fun folks to train and hang out with. They remain good friends and training partners to this day, for which I am thankful.

July: Relax
I learned to relax. I was very proud to finish the Vermont 100, my first 100-miler, in 22:09:55. Something big I learned was not putting too much pressure on yourself. Yes, I did put pressure on myself to recover from the missed training to be in relatively good shape for the race... but perhaps born out of that and my DNF earlier in the year, I also had a mindset of "whatever happens, happens. I'll just do my best and run smart.. what more can I do?". I think Buddha would have been proud. I wasn't even the least bit nervous before the race, and felt perfectly relaxed at the start. I really think that helped in more ways than one, primarily making it easier to run a smarter (and therefore faster) race.

August, September: Coasting
Nothing too noteworthy during these months, other than recover and getting my training going for the MDI Marathon, which included a bit more speed work. Mostly though, it was running for the sake of the enjoyment of running.

October: Kate is Not a Jinx
I learned my friend and neighbor Kate is not a jinx. She was with me at the Hyannis Marathon earlier in the year when I DNF'd. She was also with me this month when I PR'd at the MDI Marathon with a time of 3:21:37. Yes, Kate is not a jinx. Also worth noting that the relaxed "whatever happens, happens..." mindset I had at the VT100 stayed with me for this race. I pushed myself hard but I also felt I ran smart and relaxed. It's a fine line for sure. Enlightenment indeed.

November: Don't Run in Worn Out Shoes
I learned the hard way that severely worn out shoes will make your knees sore or cause other problems. I'm still amazed how the discomfort went away instantly when I finally bought a new pair in early December. Duh, should have done that sooner.

December: I'm a Lucky SOB
I learned that the small sliver of my ancestry that is Irish sometimes makes itself known. I won the lotto to get in the Western States 100 (16.1% chance). Also won the lotto to run the Mt. Washington Road Race earlier this year and last year (~50% chance each time). Say... what's the Powerball jackpot up to these days?

Goals and race schedule are below. Both are subject to change. I'm not a big fan of boldly proclaiming goals (superstition), but at the same time I want them documented for my own future reference. I think coding them is a good compromise. If you're up for a challenge and have some spare time, have fun trying to figure it out. I made it easy this time.

Race Schedule:
Jan. 5 - Fat Ass 50K hosted by the great folks of the Gil's Athletic Club down in Mass.
Niet toestand om het te rennen. De toestand om hem te behandelen als een training tocht en een kans om uit met vrienden en kennissen te hangen.

Feb. 3 - Mid-Winter 10 mile Classic
Dit een dat ik rennen zal. Maar gegeven dat ik gene ton van snelheid werk heb gedaan en plant naar niet, verwacht niet ik veel. Ik zal misschien kiezen een dikke ezel beneden in Cape Kabeljauw dit weekend in plaats van te doen.

June 28-29 - Western States 100
Het bereik is doel de tijd van de laatste honderd miler ik te breken deed in juli. Nochtans, zal ik meer dan gelukkig slechts zijn om twintig vier uren te breken en om de zilveren gesp te krijgen.

July 19-20 - Vermont 100
Ik wil geen twijfel nog steeds niet is een honderd procent na de Westelijke Staten, maar ik zal nog steeds proberen onder twintig vier uren te gaan om de gesp te krijgen.

Sept. 28 - Vermont 50 (maybe)
Niet zekere over het doen van deze koers. Zal misschien kiezen om hem weg te laten zo dat ik een betere tijd aan de MDI Marathon in plaats van kan opzetten.

October 19 - MDI Marathon
Indien ik de Vermont 50 niet doe, zal het doel zijn een nieuwe PR en te zetten kwalificeer misschien zelfs zich voor die kleine koers in boon stad die tijdens de bron vastgehouden is.

Happy New Year and here's to a great 2008!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Ending a Good Week

Got my weekly total up to an even 83 miles after today's run. Was able to do so comfortably as the pace was intentionally much slower overall for the week. I feel that I often go out too fast on my medium and long runs, so was happy to keep things in check this week.

Opted not to set the HR alarm today, as I originally planned. This route is very hilly, so I would have sounded like Sputnik for much of it.

Very beautiful day today. Mostly sunny out and relatively warm. Great day to be outside. Moderate snowfall expected tonight and tomorrow, so will either XC ski with Stephen or if the roads are too bad to meet up, will probably snowshoe out back.

Next week will be a bit more lax. I'm planning on doing a 50K Fat Ass next weekend. Would like to rest up a bit for it, so I'll lay off the mileage. I'm not planning on "racing" it... just treating it more like a training run and a chance to hang out and have fun with friends and acquaintances.

Ran 10.2 miles @ 8:35/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 143/157
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Mid to upper 30s, mostly sunny.
Long pants, fleece jacket, long sleeved shirt, beanie.

Week in Review:
Monday - 10.2
Tuesday - 21.1
Wednesday - 11.4
Thursday - 0 (travel day)
Friday - 15.0
Saturday - 15.1
Sunday - 10.2

Total - 83.0 miles

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Thank You Sir, May I Have Another

Ran the same course today as yesterday, but added a small extension that made it a tenth of a mile longer. I like this route, as it goes along the Saco River for a bit and is quite scenic.

Despite the high mileage this week, I'm feeling very minimal fatigue. Today's run still felt pretty effortless, in fact. Granted, I'm keeping the pace down, and I even felt today was too fast.

Tomorrow I'm going to aim to keep my heart rate in the 130s, and will set the HR alarm on my Garmin to help ensure that. I did that during the 21 miler earlier this week, and it worked well. Should cross the 80 mile barrier for the week after tomorrow.

Ran 15.1 miles @ 8:22/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 147/161
Paved roads.
Moderately hilly.
Upper 30s to mid 30s. Overcast changing to partly cloudy.
Long pants, fleece jacket, short sleeved shirt, refl. vest, beanie.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Slow and Steady

Back home. Warmer weather allowed shorts to be worn comfortably, which was nice. Went at a slow pace intentionally again today, as part of my plan at adding to my base. More snow tonight, but not a lot. Should be able to get in another good run tomorrow afternoon. If the roads are too crappy, will likely snowshoe instead.

Worth noting that I had indigestion during the run, especially the first half. Tofu enchiladas loaded with spices for an early lunch was the culprit. I think it also contributed to a higher heart rate. Otherwise, I felt great.

Ran 15.0 miles @ 8:26/mile.
AHR/MHR - 142/156
Paved roads.
Moderately hilly.
Lower 40s falling to upper 30s. Partly cloudy.
Shorts, fleece jacket, short sleeved shirt, beanie.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

San Felasco Hammock Trail Run

Final run down here in Florida was a morning run at the San Felasco Hammock State Preserve. Nice trails that go through some neat woods. Saw a bunch of deer during the first few miles.

Ran 11.4 miles @ 8:33/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 138/154
Slightly hilly.
Upper 40s, mostly cloudy.
Shorts, short sleeved shirt, Moeben sleeves.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

What better way to celebrate Christmas than by doing a long run? Dad, brother and I each got in over 20 miles at our own paces by repeating a loop that's a few miles long and goes around Lake Alice. Run took place on the campus of the elite and distinguished University of Florida (my alma mater).

Goal was to keep my heartrate in the 130s. Mission accomplished.

Ran 21.1 miles @ 8:33/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 136/150
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Upper 50s to lower 60s, humid, overcast.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Perfect Running Weather

50 degrees and light humidity. Pretty cool by Florida standards. Funny to see other runners out in long pants, jackets, gloves and beanies.

Ran 10.2 miles @ 7:47/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 146/162
Paved roads.
Moderately hilly.
50 degrees, sunny.
Shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Seven in Florida

Down in Florida for the holidays. Ran from my dad's house to my mom's house, which ended up being exactly 7 miles according to the Garmin. Good run that takes advantage of some hills that are actually of decent size for Florida.

Biggest obstacle was the heat and humidity... go figure.

Ran 7.0 miles @ 7:29/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 156/173
Paved roads.
Moderately hilly.
Upper 60s, very humid, overcast.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Owl and the Eagle

School was canceled today, so with the new snow I headed out for a snowshoe trek in the woods out back. Ended up being a real treat when nearly three miles in, I got a very good look at a barred owl. I spotted it in a bog just off the trail, where it flew up into a tree and swiveled its head around to look at me. Our eyes locked for several moments before it took off deeper into the woods.

Still riding on excitement with that, there was another, equally cool sighting. I reached the lake about 10 minutes later and as I stepped out on to it, a very large, fully matured bald eagle flew very right by. Not that I would, but if I had a frisbee, I probably could have hit it (if I had good aim)... it was that close.

Good workout to boot. Nearly two hours with a heart rate averaging in the 130s, which is was what I was hoping for. Anaerobic benefits as well since some parts were tough, especially in the drifts and uphills. Great cross training.

Pics below. Unfortunately, none of the owl or eagle.

Snowshoed 6.7 miles in 1:57:00.
AHR/MHR - 132/157
Trails with ~2 feet of powder, higher in drifts.
Very hilly.
Mid-upper 20s, snowing.
Long pants, Goretex shell, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

The brook that leads out from the bog, about half a mile in:

Looking back at the fire road:
The lake, about three miles in:

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Early Morning Run

More snow is expected this afternoon and is supposed to last into Thursday, so another perfect opportunity to do an early morning run. Headed out at 4:45am into the four degree air. Was dressed perfectly this time, as opposed to last week when the fleece jacket under the shell was too much.

Run went well. Heart rate was high, but I suspect that's from the hills combined with the cold, morning hours and extra clothing. Still felt fine. Was able to avoid most of icy patches by running in the middle of the roads since there wasn't any traffic. One stop for a bio break meant having to dig through two feet of snow to find some of nature's best toilet paper.

As usual, I was glad I did this. Once you get up and going, it's not that bad. No traffic and no worries about getting burned by work running late, the peaceful serenity of the pre-dawn hours... lot's of pluses to running in the morning. Having said that, I don't think I could do it every day, but it's nice to do it once or twice a week.

Ran 5.4 miles @ 8:31/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 149/170
Paved roads, patches of iced slush.
Very hilly.
4 degrees.
Long pants, Goretex shell, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt, ref. vest, balaclava, beanie, mittens.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Bad Roads

Had planned on doing much more today, but I cut it short because the roads were in such bad shape. Narrow road shoulders from the snow banks and blankets of ice and slush made it dangerous. Don't regret the decision one bit. Will likely opt to XC ski or snowshoe the next few days instead. At least there is sunny Florida to look forward to as I'm flying down this Saturday.

Ran 3.3 miles @ 8:14/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 143/159
Paved roads blanketed with ice and slush.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 20s, sunny.
Long pants, fleece jacket, long sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Quick Snowshoe Out Back

The snow has been coming down hard since very early this morning and doesn't look to be letting up until tonight. Strapped on the snowshoes for a quick jaunt in the woods out back. Very pretty, especially the bog.

Snowshoed around 2 miles.
Unbroken trails, powdery snow.
Slightly hilly.
10 degrees out, snowing and windy (-3 windchill).
Snowpants, Goretex shell, long sleeved shirt, beanie, mittens.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Long Run Before the Storm

Given the bright sunny skies throughout today's run, it's almost hard to believe a pretty big storm is on the way for tonight and tomorrow. Good day for a long run. Felt great, except I got VERY hungry the last four or so miles. Didn't bonk, but no doubt I would have if I had kept going. So on that note, I'm keeping this short so I can shower and get a big lunch ready.

Ran 21.4 miles @ 8:01/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 148/166
Paved roads.
Moderately hilly.
12 degrees at start, 18 degrees at end. Sunny.
Long pants, fleece jacket, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow...

The first few miles of my run were through snowflakes dancing slowly and gently towards the ground. Kids, who were no doubt happy that it was a Friday and that their Christmas break is in one week, were out having snowball fights, making snowmen, and sledding down hills. Winter Wonderland for sure.

Soon, the town was behind me and the cloudy skies parted allowing the sun to shine. The back roads weren't all that slushy. I thought it'd be worse given yesterday evening's storm. Still opted to keep the speed down and roll with the hills at an easy pace.

Looking forward to a long run tomorrow. Big storm is expected on Sunday. XC skis may see some use that day, before the Patriots game of course.

Ran 7.2 miles @ 7:55/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 148/164
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Mid 30s, light snow giving way to partly cloudy skies.
Long pants, fleece jacket, short sleeved shirt, refl. vest, beanie.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Business in the Front, Party in the Back

Temperatures were above freezing throughout my run this afternoon, but there was the wind to contend with. The route was more or less an out and back with a mini loop at the mid-point. Fought through a pretty fierce head wind for the first half that's up a very gradual uphill. But the last half was cake with the wind at the back, slight downhill, and warmed up muscles.

Roads were in good shape today. All the salt has now made the shoulders pretty clear of ice and snow. More snow (and cooler temps) expected tomorrow though, and what could be a pretty good-sized Nor'Easter on Sunday. Bring it on.

Ran 15.0 miles @ 7:47/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 149/161
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Upper 30s falling to mid 30s, mostly sunny, windy.
Long pants, fleece jacket, long-sleeved shirt, refl. vest, beanie, gloves (off and on)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

One Degree Run

With a grant writing meeting that's anticipated to run long after work this afternoon along with more snow and freezing rain, an early morning run only made sense. Headed out at around 4:45am while it was just one degree out. Cold out there, but I was actually overdressed. Could have done without the fleece jacket under the Goretex shell, but not a big deal. Felt good out there. Fun to run in the middle of the street on the back roads, just because I can.

Snapped a quick self-portrait with my camera phone before I headed out. Tell me... does this picture make me look fat?

Ran 5.0 miles @ 7:47/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 149/169
Paved roads with patches of iced slush.
Slightly hilly.
One degree, clear skies.
Long pants, Goretex shell, fleece jacket, long sleeved tech shirt, short sleeved tech shirt, reflective vest, balaclava, beanie, mittens (I felt like Ralphie's little brother from "A Christmas Story").

Monday, December 10, 2007

Afternoon Seven

Another inch or two of snow fell today, but by the early afternoon the sun was shining. Roads were in better shape than I thought they'd be, with no really huge patches of slush to contend with. Felt good out there today. Very hilly route and I felt pretty strong throughout.

Worth noting that I forgot my beanie and I wondered if I'd get cold, but it turned out to be fine. Wind was non-existent today, thankfully. Otherwise, I'm sure it would have been a different story.

Ran 7.2 miles @ 7:37/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 154/173
Paved roads with patches of slush.
Very hilly.
Upper 20s, partly to mostly cloudy.
Long pants, fleece jacket, short sleeved tech shirt, reflective vest, gloves.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

New Shoes, Big Fun

Yesterday I picked up a new pair of Asics GT-2120s, which I've had success with before. Long overdue for a new pair and man, what a noticeable difference. Huge, in fact. It was like there was a party in my shoes, and everyone was invited.

The pace, while not blazing, came easy, and the HR was about where I expected it to be. I had fun out there. Very enjoyable run.

Ran 9.7 miles @ 7:41/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 151/169
Paved roads with patches of iced slush.
Moderately hilly.
Mid 20s, overcast.
Long pants, fleece jacket, long sleeved tech shirt, reflective vest, beanie, gloves.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Short and Sweet

Almost didn't get out today as work and grad school projects ran later than expected. Was happy to just get out. Didn't get in the mileage I wanted, but I was due for a more up-tempo run anyway so I put that on order instead. Felt good out there. Slush was still an obstacle, but it just made things interesting.

If work and grad school continue at this crazy pace, I will have to start doing some more morning runs. I did this last year every once in a while and enjoyed it. It's just a bit tough getting out there in the early a.m. I admire guys like Andrew who do it on a regular basis and don't seem to think twice about it.

New running shoes will be purchased this weekend. Long overdue for them as well. The mileage on my current pair is waaaay over. I bet they're at about the equivalent of driving a Ford Pinto with 250,000 miles on the odometer.

On another note, a big thanks to everyone for all of the well wishes and congrats for the Western States 100. It really is appreciated.

Ran 5.5 miles @ 7:19/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - N/A (forgot my strap)
Paved roads with patches of slush.
Slightly hilly.
Uppers 20s, overcast.
Long pants, fleece jacket, long sleeved tech shirt, reflective vest, beanie, gloves (off and on).

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Slushy Run

Salted roads plus snow means contending with lots of slush on the busier roads. Fortunately, it wasn't all that slick out today though, but I was still careful. Run felt a little difficult, and the heart rate reflects that. The slush might have contributed some, but I think it was more myself. Still, it wasn't a slog and I was rather enjoying myself out there.

Ran 7.2 miles @ 8:00/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 154/168
Paved roads with patches of slush.
Very hilly.
Mid 20s, overcast.
Long pants, fleece jacket, long sleeved tech shirt, reflective vest, beanie, gloves.

Beaver Hill Loop v7.2 at EveryTrail

Map created by EveryTrail:Share GPS tracks

Monday, December 03, 2007

Cross Country Skiing

School was canceled across the entire state of Maine today because of the snowstorm. So after a fair amount of snow shoveling, I had a late breakfast and then busted out the XC skis to get in some practice. The paths in the woods out back were unbroken, so that provided a good workout but also made the going pretty slow. Also, I'm not very proficient at this yet, so that also kept me at turtle speed.

I more or less did an out and back with a few side excursions, so I was able to do the true kick-and-glide at times on the way back in the grooves I already laid down. I'm almost proud to say I didn't fall once, but I guess that also means I wasn't trying my hardest. It was fun though. Hope to do more this winter, conditions permitting.

XC Skied 3.6 miles @ 2.6 mph
AHR/MHR - 118/146
Unbroken trails, mostly powdery snow.
Slightly hilly.
Lower-mid 20s, snowing.
Snow pants, Gore-tex shell over short sleeved tech shirt, beanie, mittens.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Use the Force

I set out late this morning to explore some new trails in the woods out back. I came across a new snowmobile trail while hunting a few weeks ago and was curious where it went. Today I ran it and combined with a section I already knew about, so now I have a nice little three-mile dumbbell loop.

As I was running by the lake near the end of the run, I started hearing what sounded like laser guns firing from Star Wars. It was quite bizarre at first, but then I realized it was the ice on the lake moving. I stopped to listen to it for a few minutes. Pretty neat.

Still giddy over getting in the WS100. Running has new meaning and purpose now, as every run I do is for said race, even if it is still a ways off.

Big storm moving in tonight. A snow day tomorrow is all but assured. Hopefully my neighbor will take his snowmobile out and pack down the trails tomorrow so I can get in some quality cross-country skiing.

Ran 3.0 miles @ 9:20/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 149/167
Technical trails.
Very hilly.
Mid 20s, partly sunny.
Long pants, fleece jacket, long sleeved tech shirt, beanie, gloves.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Western States 100 - Here I Come!!!

The ultramarathoning gods must be smiling upon me. Despite just a 16.1% chance of getting in, I was picked in the lotto to compete in the Western States 100 today! I am excited beyond belief to have the opportunity to participate in the big show this June.

I was at Stephen's house, sitting at his computer and constantly hitting the refresh button waiting for the first listing of lotto winners to be picked. I started to lose the anticipation with each hit of the refresh button after over half an hour of doing so, when suddenly the first listing appeared. The waiting ended there, as my name was among the first picked.

From then on out, they posted lucky entrants in groups of ten, and we anxiously hoped Stephen and/or James' names would be added to the list. Unfortunately, that never came. The odds were against even one of us getting picked, and we knew that, but still. Both of them are better athletes than I am and great individuals to boot, so I would be lying if I said I didn't feel guilty for getting in when they didn't. They're planning on running the Massanutten 100 now instead, an even harder course and no doubt they'll both put out incredible performances as they did at the Vermont 100.

Big thanks to Stephen and his family for hosting all of us today. Stephen's parents, James's wife and daughter, Ian, Blaine and Chuck were also there making it a good time. A side event going on was an apple pie baking contest between Chuck and I. Verdict is still out on who won, but Chuck definitely gets bonus points for the lettering on his pie:

So, time to start looking ahead and planning. I'm extremely fortunate to have this opportunity and I plan on making the most of it. The Western States course is known as a quad-killer with it's long downhills, and I need to work on that. Goal is to go sub-24 hours for the silver buckle, which I think is very reasonable for me to do.

Happy running!

Friday, November 30, 2007

I Probably Shouldn't Have, But.... felt awesome. I decided to turn my planned 15 mile run into a 20 miler today after work. Probably not smart given the problems lately, but didn't feel any signs of trouble recently or during the run. Hopefully that'll still be the case tomorrow. Hee hee.

My friend and fellow teacher Tom ran 13 of the 20 miles with me, a new distance PR for him. I ran at his pace during that time, which was good for me to keep it a bit slower. Running with Tom is fun. He's one of those guys that you can talk into doing more miles since he doesn't like to back off a challenge. Today was a great example of that. Tom had planned on maybe doing 10. But it didn't take much at all to get him to do a bit more, and as always, he was glad he did.

A big reason for deciding to do today's distance was to get in a 20+ miler for November, which I hadn't done yet. I want to build a new streak of doing at least one a month, which was interrupted twice this year by the knee surgery and again after recovering from the Vermont 100. Today's run marks the third month in a row. Here's to many more (raise glasses of your finest ales, now drink).

Hopefully I will continue to feel okay without any major setbacks, as there is some work to be done in the months ahead. Tomorrow Stephen, James and I will find out if we got into the Western States 100 and we we will convene at Stephen's house and await for the news. Keep yer fingers crossed for us! But if I don't get in, I like my back-up plan just about as much. More on all of that tomorrow.

Ran 20.2 miles @ 8:49/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - N/A (forgot my strap)
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Mid to lower 30s, clear skies.
Long pants, fleece jacket over long sleeved wicking shirt, reflective vest, beanie, gloves.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Nice Fiver

Ran today with a coworker at his pace. Knees felt great and so did everything else. Hopefully this will continue! Will be taking tomorrow off as I have a dentist appointment, but am planning on a longer distance on Friday.

Springvale Loop at EveryTrail

Map created by EveryTrail:Share GPS tracks

Ran 5.o miles @ 8:07/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 145/168
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 30s, cloudy.
Long pants, fleece jacket over short sleeved tech shirt, beanie, reflective vest, gloves (off and on).

Sunday, November 25, 2007

My Dam Run

The rest has appeared to do the knees some good, so I set out for a trail run today behind the house. About half a mile in, I couldn't help but notice the stream I normally hop across was much, much wider. I looked over and noticed the small pool of water that collects before dumping into the stream was now a small pond. Looking a hundred yards further, I saw a new beaver den. Cool. If this keeps up, I'll have a new fly fishing spot this spring.

A few miles later along the fire road I reached the lake, which is starting to freeze over. I tested the thickness by first throwing a large stick, which slid a dozen feet and didn't break the ice. Did the same with a bigger stick with the same result. Now a small log. When it impacted the ice, it only left a small hole before sliding across and colliding with the other two sticks as if they were bowling pins.

Headed back and and added an extension towards the end which crosses the aforementioned bog. The water level has just about submerged the snowmobile bridge, which made the crossing tricky. When I was just about across, my foot broke through the ice and submerged in icy water. Great.

Reached a pond where I sometimes go fishing at, and noticed the beaver dams here were still intact. Could the beaver have moved down the brook into the bog? Was it an offspring from this family? Another beaver altogether? Guess I'll never know, but stuff like this makes trail running fun.

Ran 8.0 miles @ 8:20/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 152/173
Trails and fire roads.
Very hilly.
Mid 30s, partly to mostly cloudy.
Long pants, fleece jacket over short sleeved tech shirt, beanie.

On a side note, I exported my GPS data to Google earth. It shows the route as being 11 miles, which is three too long. It also shows some roads which don't exist (Jellerson Road dead ends long before and CC Road is a fire road through protected woodland).

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


I haven't really said much about it, but I've had some ongoing knee discomfort on both of my knee caps for a couple of months now. It's not overly painful, just annoying. I've finally had enough, and after some research I've self-diagnosed myself as having a classic case of "runner's knee(s)". Fortunately, it doesn't appear to be that big of a deal. Probably along the severity of shin splints, based on what I've read. So, aggressive icing, ibuprofen, and cutting back on the running for the next two weeks are in order. That and some new running shoes. No real worries though.

On another note, I've come across a couple of running stories/videos that really underscore determination and unselfishness. The first is a high school girl who breaks her leg at a meet several dozen feet before the finish line. That doesn't stop her though, as she scrambles on her hands and knees to the finish. Awesome. Now that is grit and determination. It happens 1:40 into the below video (or -5:35 by the counter). You can also read the story and see an edited down version of the video here. Definitely a must see (and read).

I also came across the below video while doing some research on the Comrades Ultramarathon in South America. It's the largest ultra in the world, with 12,000 competitors from around the globe running a distance of 56 miles. The race is notorious for it's strict enforcement of the 12-hour cutoff and the below video shoes the final few minutes of the race last year. :48 into it (or -4:25), you'll see a group of runners unselfishly carrying another runner across the finish line. I can only imagine these folks put their own finishes at risk to help a fellow runner who they probably didn't even know. Truly incredible, and defines the spirit of ultramarathoning. It's followed by a couple of other instances where runners appear to be helping each other out, and then the obvious dejection by those who didn't make the cut-off. Simply amazing to watch.

POST EDIT: Yikes. After further research, I learned that the man that was being carried died. I assume that the article is about him. Very sad. I assumed it was just a guy who had bonked pretty badly.

Monday, November 19, 2007


It's been a while since I've put the pedal down a little, so decided to make today's run a tempo run. Just did a quick five miles around the block from the school. As expected, first three miles felt tough but the last two were cake. Just need time to warm up in this cooler weather. Probably would have been smarter to allow two or three miles at a slow pace for that purpose.

Ran 5.0 miles @ 7:13/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 150/172
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 30s, overcast.
Long pants, fleece jacket over short sleeved tech shirt, beanie.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Sunday Slaughter

Today's run was quite the opposite of yesterday's, hence the title of this post (albeit a little overly dramatic, but it fit in nicely with yesterday's title). Not a brisk pace, but still a fast one given the technical trails we were running on. I felt great throughout and simply enjoyed it. Just the kind of run I needed, and my buddy Stephen definitely was a big help. We met up at Bradbury Mountain at 7am and disappeared into the woods on a sunny, cool morning. Temperature was 20 degrees when we started, which turned Stephen's water to slushy ice later into the run. My bottle was insulated on my running belt and was spared of any freezing.

The trails are very windy and full of rocks and roots which help keep the pace slow. The hills are relatively small, but constantly rolling. The combination of these two factors make for some technical trails that are a blast to run on.

As we cruised along, we chatted about hunting, fly fishing, teaching ethics, and of course ultras and the ultra scene. Both of us have our hats in the ring for the Western States 100, and we both are also going to run Massanutten 100 as a back-up. We'll find out in less than two weeks who's doing what.

Afterwards, we headed over to a local breakfast place in Cumberland to meet up with Stephen's wife, Kellh, and their two kids, Riley and Quinn. Riley's little 3 year old eyes lit up when she spotted me in the parking lot and she ran over and jumped into my arms, asking me to carry her. At the risk of sounding very corny, I've never been big on the idea of having kids myself, but that little girl always makes me think it wouldn't be bad someday after all. Cute kid.

Ran 10.3 miles @ 9:08/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 143/164
Technical trails.
Very hilly.
20 degrees to start, lower 30s to end. Sunny.
Long pants, fleece jacket over long sleeved tech shirt over short sleeved tech shirt, beanie, gloves (off and on).

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Saturday Slog

Rust? Low endocrine system? Low iron? Lack of certain vitamins? Worn out shoes? Not warmed up properly? All are questions I asked to myself during today's run, which felt difficult.

The bright side is the low point was felt in the middle two miles, where I took a few walk breaks. I actually felt pretty good the last two and half miles.

Runs like these make me appreciate the runs more where all cylinders are firing. I'll be there again soon. Rest assured a trip to the grocery store today will fill my kitchen with health food.

Ran 9.2 miles @ 8:08/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 144/169
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 30s, sunny, windy.
Long pants, fleece jacket over long sleeved tech shirt, beanie, gloves (worn off and on).

Friday, November 16, 2007

Garbage Week Musings

Crappy week for running for me so far. Just very busy, which is making the excuses come easy. Not a good cycle to get into, and I don't plan on letting it last long. Looking forward to a good run tomorrow and a longer one Sunday with the Trail Monster crew. Speaking of the gang, check out my good friend Ian's race report from the Stonecat 50 and wish him congrats. It was his first 50 and he rocked it.

New statistics are out for the Western States 100 lotto. Turns out with the increased number of entrants this year, there is only a 16% chance of getting in! That's less than half of what it was last year (37%). Bit of a bummer the chance is smaller, but on the other hand, there are some significant positives if I don't get in. For one, I'd run the Massanutten 100 instead. Doing so would mean cheaper travel since it's down in Virginia. Also, it'd allow an extra month to get ready for the Vermont 100, which I would love to do again this year. Either way, I have a good race plan to look forward to.

So on December 1st when the lotto takes place, James and I will gather over at Stephen's house and watch our fates unfold online as the lucky runners are selected and posted online as the names are drawn. Well, fate is a bit strong of a word. But it'll be a fun time regardless of what happens and I hope at least one of us gets in. No doubt 2008 will be a memorable running year like this one has been so far.

Happy running!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Morning Run in Rockland

I'm up in Rockland for a conference, staying at a pretty swanky hotel with an amazing view of the ocean and two lighthouses from my room. I was musing during my run that I travel much more as a teacher than I ever did in my prior career as a news producer. Funny.

The conference ran late last night and unfortunately I wasn't able to run. But I was psyched to wake up this morning and get in a few laps around the golf course, admiring the views of the ocean as I trotted along at a slow pace. I'm never good with speed on the earlier morning runs.

A bit of an auspicious end to the run when I walked up to what I thought was the sliding glass door to my room but it wasn't. Dressed in all black and wearing a beanie, I think I scared some poor woman to death who was still in bed. Oops. I yelled sorry and walked away quickly, my face redder than the rising sun.

Ran 6.2 miles @ 8:12/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - N/A (forgot to pack my HR strap)
Paved and dirt golf cart paths.
Moderately hilly.
40 degrees, dawn, partly cloudy.
Clothing: Long pants, fleece jacket over short sleeved tech shirt, beanie (felt overdressed).

Sunday, November 11, 2007


My run today was cut short due to GI issues. That aside, I just wasn't feeling it and the heart rate was up higher than it should have been. Oh well, no big deal. Good thing I cut it short and I'll reevaluate things tomorrow.

Ran 5.7 miles @ 8:02/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 150/169
Paved and dirt roads.
Very hilly.
Mid 30s, sunny.
Clothing: Long pants, fleece jacket over short sleeved tech shirt, beanie.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Hanging Out at the Stonecat 50

I headed down to Massachusetts today to root on some friends running the in the Stonecat 50 mile and trail marathon. A big congrats to Ian and Erik for completing their first 50-milers and making it look easy. Ian's wife, Emma, also placed first woman in the trail marathon and Mark's wife was second. Way to go!

While everyone else was out there doing all the work, Mark and I engaged in some great running conversation for a few hours. Great to see him and and a few other folks there I hadn't seen in a while.

In the late afternoon, Emma and I hiked in about two miles into the course where we met Ian coming in the opposite way and we ran back with him to the finish. I had a hard time keeping up, as he still had a lot left in the tank. Into the training log those miles go:

Ran ~2.0 miles @ ~9:00/mile pace.
Slightly hilly.
Upper 30s, dusk with partly cloudy skies.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Nice and Chilly

I'm really loving this weather. Even more so, I'm loving that my daily runs are getting back up there in the mileage department. After the muscles warm up and I'm on the back country roads, the mind begins to wander into a meditative state while the legs find a comfortable pace and hold it. Yes sir, life is good.

Ran 10.1 miles @ 7:51/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 144/161
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Upper 30s, overcast.
Clothing: athletic shorts over compression shorts, fleece jacket over short sleeved tech shirt, beanie, reflective vest.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Fifteen Before Dark

I'm quite pleased with this run, not so much for the distance or pace, but because I did it on a big lack of a good night's sleep. For whatever reason, I woke up at 1:40am and could not return to slumberland (I probably fell asleep around 9pm). But throughout the day, I kept psyching myself up for the run and sincerely looked forward to it, despite being very tired. That was enough, and I felt great throughout.

I faced a pretty brisk headwind along with a very gradual uphill for the first half of the run. But as I turned around to head back south on the return, I enjoyed the wind at my back and the gradual downhill. Dusk was well under way by the time I returned. Thank goodness for reflective vests.

Great run. Likely won't run tomorrow because of a dentist appointment, but I'm on track for my plan of 50 miles this week. Looking forward to 60 next week and then 70 the week after that.

I should note that the below elevation graph makes the route look much tougher than it actually is. It's misleading, as the climb and descent is actually very gradual, hence the "slightly hilly" rating.

Ran 15.0 miles @ 7:41/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 151/164
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 40s, partly cloudy, breezy.
Clothing: athletic shorts over compression shorts, fleece jacket over short sleeved tech shirt, beanie, reflective vest.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Night Creeps Closer

With the clocks now set back an hour, timing is crucial in order to take advantage of the daylight. Fortunately, we're allowed to leave at 2:15pm, so I imagine I have it easier then most folks. Still, a teacher's work is never done, and what is nice about leaving at 2:15pm is when I return to the school, almost everyone is gone and I can get things done uninterrupted, which is nice. But I digress. The days will only get shorter until the winter solstice and several of my after school runs will be longer. Like last year, the headlamp will be seeing a lot of use in the weeks to come.

I went out with my friend and fellow teacher Tom today and ran at his pace, which is getting much faster. Good for him, and it works out nicely for me having someone to run with after school. This route is extremely hilly, and a great buttkicker. Fun workout and great weather.

Ran 10.7 miles @ 8:17/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 146/171
Paved roads.
Extremely hilly.
Mid 40s, partly cloudy.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Turkeys Galore

I fought off my Sunday morning lethargic mood and got in a pretty decent run. Great morning for it. Noel has headed north, and the storm left sunny skies in its wake. By the way, nothing impressive in my neck of the woods. Just some wind gusts near 40 mph and about an inch of rain.

First mile is slightly rolling and then it climbs steadily for the next two. When I got to the top, I counted 19 turkeys in a field off the side of the road. Cool to see.

Pleased with how my heart rate has been looking the past few weeks. I'm seeing some improvement overall. Nothing drastic, but definitely there. Good signs.

Planning on running tomorrow and delaying my rest day until Tuesday, since we're supposed to have a cold rain then.

Ran 5.6 miles @ 7:31/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 152/168
Paved and dirt roads.
Very hilly.
Mid 40s, sunny, breezy.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Isn't it a Bit Early for "Noel"?

I canceled a mountain run/hike/whatever with some friends today because of Hurricane Noel, which will pass by the coast this evening and bring with it rain and high winds. I live about 30 minutes from the coast, and we're supposed to get gusts over 55 mph this evening. Conditions up in the mountains looked pretty bad in their own right, so I opted out of the trek. As far as I know, my friends still set out as planned. They are definitely much heartier than I am!

So instead, I opted for a medium-long run today and will also drive by the coast in a few hours to check out the waves. If I get some good pictures, I will post them later. As for the run, it was a good one. I wasn't feeling particularly speedy today, but I still felt good and the miles came along easily. Overcast and cool out, a bit breezy but nothing bad at all yet. It's always nice to run alongside the Saco River for a little bit. Another few miles tomorrow and I'll meet my 40 mile goal for the week. Shooting for 50 next week, then 60 the week after.

Ran 14.4 miles @ 7:50/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 150/166
Paved roads.
Moderately hilly.
40 degrees, overcast.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Trick or Feet

I don't know what "trick or feet" really means. Anyway, another good run today. Went out with another fellow teacher today and ran at his pace. Bit warmer than yesterday and well above seasonal temps, but a cold front is supposed to push through tomorrow and bring us back down to normal.

Legs feel great. Knees are a bit achy, but I'm also well above 400 miles for my running shoes. I suspect it's from that. Time to get a new pair soon, and I will buy the same pair I have now, the Asics Kayano 13s. In short, they fit great and provide the perfect amount of overpronation support I need.

Probably will take the next two days off from running, as I have a big mountain run/hike planned for Saturday that will push me well over the weekly mileage limit I had set for myself.

Ran 7.2 miles @ 8:15/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 145/172
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Around 60 degrees, partly sunny.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Autumn Running

Another great day for a run, as the ideal weather continues to hold. Looks like it'll stay this way for the next week (at least as of now). No complaints here. At the same time, I'm looking forward to it getting even colder. Reading Andrew's post today only served to make me jealous.

I ran today with a co-worker at his pace for the first 4.7 miles, than I tacked on a couple of extra on my own at a little bit of a quicker jaunt. Felt good overall. Marathon recovery appears to be going well, and the heart rate data is supporting that. I felt like I was overly slacking last week, but in retrospect it was probably smart. As for this week, somewhere around 40 miles is what I'm shooting for (Mon-Sun schedule), and then I'll continue to build from there.

Ran 6.7 miles @ 8:15/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 143/165
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 50s, sunny, breezy.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Back at 'Em

With cross country season over along with work and grad school commitments waning for the moment, I feel as if the proverbial huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders for now. Oh yeah, and now that the Red Sox have won the World Series (woohoo!!!!), it'll make going to bed earlier much easier. All of this is good timing, as the temperatures are very ideal and the extra time is needed to take advantage of the shrinking daylight as we approach the winter solstice. That will be even more of a factor after this weekend when the clocks fall back an hour.

So, it felt really good to hit the hilly roads near my school this afternoon. Sunny with temps in the mid-40s made wearing a long sleeve wicking shirt over a short sleeved one necessary. That felt great! However, it did take about three miles before my legs felt warmed up. Once they did, the run felt pretty easy and the pace began to pick up. A good step towards increasing the mileage again to get that base down, something I'm really looking forward to doing.

Below is a pic of Chuck and I working the finish line of the Bradbury Bruiser 12-mile Trail Race yesterday, taken by his wife Katy.

Ran 7.2 miles @ 7:38/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 151/172
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Mid 40s, sunny, a bit breezy.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Helping Out at the Bradbury Bruiser Trail Race

I had the honor of helping out my running buds Ian and Stephen with the Bradbury Bruiser 12-mile Trail Race this morning. I'm happy to report that it was a big success. The comments from the runners were overwhelmingly positive after tackling this challenging course on a day with nearly perfect weather.

The goal of this race was to bring more trail races to Maine, as well as raise money for where the race was held, Bradbury Mountain State Park. Many trail races are in NH and VT, but in our great state the quantity is very small, despite having some of the best terrain and scenery there is to far. Rather than sit back and complain about it, Ian and Stephen have led the charge to change that. The good news is, the success of today's race was just the springboard. More are planned. It was nice to see the vast majority of the 100 or so runners in today race were Mainers, indicating that local runners are indeed interested in trail racing.

As for my duties, I worked the registration tables with my friends, Kate and Chuck, and once the race began, we worked the finish line. Chuck manned the stopwatch as I wrote down the place numbers and times, while Kate updated the results board. Our neighbor and friend, John, was also there to help call out the runners numbers as they approached, which was a huge help. It all went very smoothly and without a hitch, not to mention it being fun.

As for my own running, I look forward to beginning to ramp up my mileage this week. I'll take slow steps to getting there, but should be back up to those much loved 60-80 mile weeks again by Thanksgiving.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Shorty Run

It's been a slack week for sure, and the excuses for that are many. Work meetings, grad school commitments, and the Red Sox in the World Series are all contributing factors. I really wish they'd schedule the games earlier! However, it is the second week of marathon recovery so I'm not going to beat myself up too much over it.

Got out today for a little jaunt around the neighborhood this afternoon. Very sunny with just a few high clouds in the sky, however that's supposed to change by tonight as a rain moves in and sticks around all day tomorrow. Hopefully there'll be some breaks.

Ran 2.9 miles @ 7:28/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 147/165
Paved roads.
Mostly flat.
Mid-upper 50s, sunny and breezy.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tour of the Hills

I ran with a fellow teacher, Tom, today, who set a new PR distance for himself. We had originally planned on 7.1 miles, but when we were about three and a half miles into the run, I asked him if he thought he could run the 10.7 mile version of the route by Thanksgiving. He instantly said he wanted to do it now. Cool. He did great, and I ran at his pace with him throughout. Lots of killer hills on this course and he was definitely very stoked afterwards, which he should be.

Recovery continues to go well and everything is on track. Not going to rush anything, as there is no need to do so. However, I am looking forward to building up that base again. More miles = more fun.

Ran 10.7 miles @ 9:51/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 134/166
Paved roads.
Extremely hilly.
Lower 70s, very windy.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Bradbury Bruiser Preview

I had the pleasure of running the Bradbury Bruiser course this morning with Stephen, Ian, Blaine, and two other guys whose names I forget (sorry). The race is a week from today and those that are entered are in for a real treat. The course is challenging in that there aren't really any monster hills, but the constantly rolling terrain combined with the very technical trails really make it tough, but also a lot of fun. It's hard to go fast on this course and it's certainly a workout.

The run itself went well. I couldn't stop laughing at one point early in the run after Stephen's reaction to a particular item that made news headlines recently. Lighthearted banter continued throughout the run, as well as talk of preparations for the race next week.

Legs felt tired, but not bad until the last few miles. I wasn't hurting or anything, just couldn't go much faster on legs that were still recovering. I took a wrong turn at the end (this was before the course was marked!) and got in some bonus distance as a result.

Afterwards, we divided up parts of the course to help get it marked and ready. The work we did which included putting up colored flags, signs with arrows, and raking off the trails should really pay off. By the way, proceeds of the race are going to the park. It's a great place to run, hike, bike, car camp, bird watch, etc.. So if you're reading this and will be in town, or know someone who will be, please consider signing up. It'll no doubt be a great race and a fun time.

Ran 12.5 miles @ 9:46/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 148/171
Technical trails.
Very hilly.
Mid-upper 40s, sunny.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Looking Ahead

XC season will end either this weekend or the next, depending on regionals. I of course hope we advance. Until then, the timing is working out pretty nicely for recovery mode as I'm running the warm-ups and cool-downs with them. On a selfish note, I'm looking forward to having more time in the afternoons to concentrate on my own workouts once I'm recovered.

I'm leaning towards not running the Stonecat 50 next month. I'm just not motivated, pure and simple. I will be going down though to cheer on several friends who are running it though, and maybe volunteer as well.

But as for my own running, I would rather ease into building up a good base again over the fall and winter. I'm convinced that served me extremely well at the Vermont 100. It was just a matter of kicking off the rust after the knee surgery, but because that base was there, I was fine. That base also served me well at the Hyannis Marathon last February, despite my DNF. I just ran a stupid race, and it was own mind that beat me, not my legs.

On top of that, building up that base was a lot of fun. I really, really enjoyed clocking in 70-80 miles a week and am looking forward to getting to that point again. It felt more like running because it was fun, because the pace was always pretty easy. The miles would tick by while the mind wandered. It was quite pleasant.

So what's the base for? The Western States 100 in late June, if I'm picked in the lotto. If I'm not picked, I'll do the Massanutten 100 in late May instead. And then in July, I'd like to do the Vermont 100 again. There will also be some marathons and shorter ultras thrown in there as well, but I haven't decided which ones for sure yet.

Ran 1.3 miles @ 7:33/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 136/143
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Lower 60s, misting.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Another Short Day

Today's run was a loop around the pond with the XC team. Meant to go slower, but felt okay to go faster so I did so. Though it wasn't fast, the quicker pace did seem to help loosen up the muscles more so I was glad I did it. I think I needed it, as my right calf muscle cramped up out of nowhere during my morning class. That hurt. Drank more water after that and also followed up the run with some extra stretching. Good to go.

Ran 3.3 miles @ 7:30/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - N/A (remembered the strap, but forgot the Garmin)
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 60s, sunny.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Short Jaunt

First run after the marathon was a short one. Legs of course felt a bit sore, but nothing out of the norm which is good. I'm going to take my time with recovery and then I'll decide what's next in the relative short term. One thing is for certain, I'd like to build up a big base like I did last winter. XC season is winding down, so it'll be much easier to do that soon. I really enjoyed putting in those 70-80 mile weeks last year and would like to get to that point again. Difference is I'd like to do more on trails and depending on the snowfall, that could mean more XC skiing and also snowshoeing... both of which I enjoy immensely. I'd like to do two 100-milers this late spring and summer, and I want to run both strong. Lot's of prep work to do to get there.

Ran 1.5 miles @ 7:57/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - N/A (couldn't find the chest strap, but later found it in the back of my car)
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Mid-60s, sunny.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Mt. Desert Island Marathon Race Report

To ask for a better weekend would probably be greedy, not to mention virtually impossible. I felt I ran smart and had a lot of fun in the process, and as a result I was very happy with my performance. And the good times didn't just start there. The drive up with Kate, spending the day before the race on the island followed by attending the pasta dinner with Andrew and Mike with their families and also Katy and some of her friends, and the drive back after the race all made for a very memorable weekend. Marc was also around, but unfortunately, our paths didn't manage to cross.

Kate and I left at 7am. The plan was to drive her to Bangor to drop her off at her folks house, and she would meet me at the marathon on Sunday and drive back down with me. She was great company on the drive up. We initiated a quest to find a new Tim Horton's other than the one in South Portland we already knew about. However, none were found immediately off any exits off the highways, so we finally settled for Dunkin' Donuts near Augusta.

We reached Bangor and when we were close to Kate's house, she asked if I had ever seen Stephen King's house. I hadn't, and was excited to check it out. We drove by it and I snapped a quick picture, not wanting to linger long out of respect, whether he's used to folks doing the same or not. I love King's books so it was a real treat to see where the living legend resided.

I dropped off Kate and met her father and then made the short drive over to the island, where my first stop was the race expo to get my bib number, timing chip, and all that jazz. My bib number was 50. Cool. I like round numbers. Last year I had 40. I took this as a good omen.

After that I secured my campsite at the Blackwoods Campground, about five or six miles outside of Bar Harbor. After getting my tent set up, I changed and went for a quick run from the campground and along the rugged coastline. I stopped a few time to take in the views and watch the waves crash ferociously into the rocks. Mt. Desert Island is truly one spectacular place. I love it there.

Stats for Saturday's run:

Ran 3.0 miles @ 7:28/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 145/169
Paved roads, some trails.
Very hilly.
Mid 50s, sunny.

After the run, I changed and went to Bar Harbor to get lunch and do some shopping. I ordered a sandwich at a deli and sat out in the courtyard to devour it. They actually messed up my order and I didn't mind as it was very good, but the counter guy came out and insisted on giving me my real sandwich and only charging me for one. I was hungry, and ate both.

Afterwards, I attempted to get some early Christmas shopping done, but I noticed the downtown was more crowded than usual for this time of year. What gives? Even with the nice weather and the leaves at their peak colors the crowds still seemed excessive. I made my way down to the waterfront where I saw two huge cruise ships docked about a quarter or half mile offshore, with several shuttle boats going to and fro to both. Ah, that's where all these people came from..

Went back to the campsite and took a nap and then headed out to the pasta dinner where I saw Andrew and his wife and daughters, Mike and his wife JoAnne, and Katy and two of her friends. The pasta dinner at this race is always good, but I found the meat sauce to be especially good this year, and had two huge helpings and was tempted to get a third. I also picked Andrew's brain on some ham radio stuff, a big hobby of his and something I've been wanting to get into recently.

The real treat of the evening was a speech by Joan Benoit Samuelson. I was impressed by her unassuming demeanor and sincere desire for everyone to do well at the race. She was a lot of fun to listen to and very generous to field several questions by the audience and she appeared happy to answer them while at the same time being very humble.

I returned to my campsite afterwards and slept very soundly that evening. Out like a light.

Sunday - Race Day
I arrived at the race at 6:45am, an hour and fifteen minutes before the start. I like getting to races early so I have plenty of time to make any last minute adjustments without stressing out about the time. I soon found Mike and Andrew, and we stayed warm in Andrew's hotel room until close to the start of the race (his hotel was right at the start line). Temps were a bit chilly in the lower-40s, but I decided on starting off in just a singlet and shorts.

I also found Kate and her father at the start line just before the race. She jokingly yelled to me "try to finish this time!" as I walked towards the starting field and I got a good laugh out of that. She was with me during my DNF at the Hyannis Marathon last February as a result of going out to fast. Hopefully it'll be a while before I make that mistake again and it was a good lesson learned.

Race Start
Like the Vermont 100, I didn't really feel nervous at all while waiting for the race to start. Again, and thankfully, the mindset of running smart, doing my best, and having fun was all I could do, so why worry? I had a soft goal of running 3:21, but if I needed to go slower to ensure a good finish, so be it. I took my position and BOOM!, the starting cannon went off and we began running.

The MDI course is extremely hilly. As a result, splits have the potential to vary considerably depending on whether you're going uphill or downhill. I knew I'd like to try to get in most of my splits in the 7:30s during the first half of the race, as slowing down in the even hillier second half (especially miles 21-25 which are insane) on tired legs is pretty much inevitable. Fortunately, hitting those splits in the beginning of the race felt comfortable and they seemed to tick along quickly and smoothly.

I reached the first major spectator point about nine miles into the race. I saw Kate and her Dad and they cheered me on, which was of course appreciated. The crowds in general are also amazing. They don't line every inch of the course like in major marathons, but when you see them at key spots, they are really cheering you on and makes it easy to hear people single you out. It's nice.

Onward and upward and downward and upward and downward... you get the point. Reached Northeast Harbor a few miles later where I saw Kate and her Dad again and yelled "I like turtles!". If you've seen that video on YouTube, you get it. I don't think anyone else in earshot did, but at least Kate laughed.

Reached the half-marathon mark at 1:39:40 and evaluated again how I was feeling. I really didn't have a heck of a lot in the bank for a 3:21 time, considering the even gnarlier second half. I started to feel some tiredness here, but not much. I still felt pretty strong and hoped it continue. Unless the wheels really fell off, I'd most likely still have a PR even if I didn't reach that 3:21 time. I was fine with that. I was having fun out there and that was all that mattered, and I was also running the way I wanted to run.

I reached mile 15, and from here for the next three miles is to me the most scenic. You run alongside the only fjord on the east coast of the U.S., and contrasted with the colorful changing leaves on the mountains on the other side, it is breathtaking. I enjoyed the views and reached the Gu station near mile 16. It reminded me that I hadn't taken any of the three Gu packets I had carried with me yet. I just didn't feel like I needed them, and perhaps alternating between water and Gatorade at the aid stations (spaced every two miles) had been enough for now.

Mental battle
Made the turn at the top of the fjord where I saw Kate and her Dad again. Could only muster a thumbs up to them at this point. Some big hills were ahead now, and they'd only get bigger. My pace was starting to slow into the 7:4os for the next handful of miles, and one split even reached 7:51. I also downed my first Gu here near mile 18, which seemed to help my energy. The race was also becoming a mind game now, the point where you dig deeper and direct all of your concentration and focus into keeping the speed up and blocking out the fatigue and pain in your muscles.

When I get to that state, I try to think of only positive thoughts. Upon reaching mile 20 and approaching the toughest uphill stretch, I told myself it was just about six miles and I envisioned a course I run from my house that's about the same length. Just have to run that much longer and do it strong and I'm done. That definitely helped. It was here that a gentleman informed me that I was in 5oth place. Crap! I wanted to place higher than that. Gotta move.

The Hills of Insanity
Mile 21, and the fun begins. Up, up and away for the next four miles, with only a few short downhill reprieves. My pace slowed considerably, but fortunately, so did everyone else's. Two people passed me over this stretch, but I passed a few more than that number. Man, my legs were burning. It took every ounce of mental energy I had to try and block it out. Saw a couple of runners here cramp up and were forced to slow down or stop. Felt bad for them, especially being pretty close to being done.

Final Stretch
Around mile 25 was a sight for sore eyes. The "Top of the Hill Restaurant". A big huge downhill here would lead to a slight uphill just before the finish line. I opened up my stride a bit and looked over my shoulder. Closest runner was about a hundred yards behind me, so no pressure there. About 50 yards ahead was a big pack of runners, but they were going the same pace I was on the downhill and I didn't think I'd be able to catch them.

As I approached the mile 26 marker, I noticed one guy from that pack beginning to fall behind. I slowly began to reel him in, and do so quietly. Shortly after mile 26, I made my move, and blew past the guy as fast I could to hopefully demoralize him a little in case he still had a kick. Fortunately, I only heard his footsteps growing fainter behind me, and I was glad I passed him as I later found out he was in my age group.

Finish line in sight and I crossed the line, tired and with a big smile on face. I finished in 3:21:37, and couldn't have been happier. I broke my old marathon PR by more than six minutes! Cool.

Waited for the others to finish and exchanged congrats. Katy got a BQ. Mike ran a great race considering he had run a marathon just three weeks ago. Andrew also did great, considering his recent bout with injuries. Those two weren't in their usual top forms as a result, but they still appeared to have fun nonetheless. Great job everyone! Thanks for being part of a fantastic and memorable weekend.

Time: 3:21:37
Overall placing: 43 out of 669
Age group placing (35-39): 6 out of 31
Ran 26.2 miles @ 7:41/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 159/175
Paved roads.
Extremely hilly.
Lower 40s to lower 50s, partly sunny.
Behind the back water cup tosses in the trash: 1 for 11 (way worse than last year's 4 for 12)

Link to race results

Mile splits:
1: 7:35
2: 7:43
3: 7:37
4: 7:29
5: 7:33
6: 7:29
7: 7:34
8: 7:36
9: 7:41
10: 7:41
11: 7:37
12: 7:42
13: 7:28
13.1 time = 1:39:40
14: 7:41
15 & 16: 15:26 (forgot to hit lap button, average pace of 7:43/mile)
17: 7:51
18: 7:44
19: 7:48
20: 7:44
21: 7:53
22: 7:57
23: 7:52
24: 8:11
25: 7:36
26: 7:32
last .2: 6:38/mile pace
+2:17 second half positive split

Pics taken by Kate and her father:

I like turtles.

Somewhere along the course

Around mile 18
Just past mile 20

Approaching the finish

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

More Pre-Marathon Thoughts

The legs continue to feel fresh and the speed on shorter distances over the past few months has been pretty effortless. I'm hoping that will combine nicely with the aerobic base I'm still riding from the Vermont 100. We'll see. My training hasn't been marathon specific over the past several months, so I'm not expecting a lot. My attitude is pretty nonchalant towards Sunday, and I just want to have fun out there.

That being said, I do have goals, but they are soft goals. 3:21:00 would be nice, which is a 7:40/pace. That would set a new marathon PR by almost seven minutes. That sounds like a lot, but when you consider that I set my current PR last year (3:27:58) during the same race and three weeks after running a 50-miler, it's reasonable. The reason I PR'd then on tired legs is because my older PR was set when I was still relatively new to marathons and ultras and didn't have the base that I do now.

If I don't get 3:21:00? I honestly don't care much. I really don't. This is not to say I'm not motivated to do well on Sunday. I'm going to give it my best. If I feel I can press down on the gas faster, I will. If I feel I'm having a not-so-good day, I'll slow it down to ensure a finish I can be pretty happy with.

As for today, just a quick jaunt with the XC team. Workout was broken up in quarter mile intervals, so that made the pace easier. I took it easy, while the team sped ahead. Won't be able to run tomorrow since I have grad school, or Friday since we have a XC meet. Good opportunity to put the final touches on resting up. Looking forward to the race.

Ran 2.2 miles @ 7:07/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - N/A (data skewed from running in intervals)
Paved roads and trails.
Moderately hilly.
Mid-upper 50s, overcast.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Countdown is On

Marathon is five days away and counting. Legs are feeling pretty good and raring to go. Looking forward to hopefully putting on a good performance on Sunday. Today's run was the warm-up and cool-down with the XC team. Probably went too fast today, but so be it. At least I didn't join the team for their mile repeats.

Ran 4.3 miles @ 6:57/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Upper 50s, mostly cloudy.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Those Crazy Marathoners

I had misunderstood Stephen a few nights ago when he asked me if I wanted to run the Maine Marathon course on Sunday. I had thought the race was on Saturday, and thought he meant he was going to run the course on Sunday as a training run. But Stephen clarified it to me yesterday and the race was today, and he and our friend James had decided last minute to enter and run. Not that it really mattered as I wouldn't have anyway, since I have my own marathon next weekend up on Mt. Desert Island, but I was amazed at their decision and pumped for them to do well. In their typical fashion, they were non-chalant about it and just wanted to go out and have fun. Also in their typical fashion, they did fantastic, with both finishing in under 3:20 (I think, race results aren't posted at the time of this writing) and making it look easy. Congrats guys! I had fun rooting them on along with Stephen's wife Kellh and their two adorable kids. We drove to various points along the course to see them and it was a real treat to cheer them and the other runners on.

A few hours later, I did my own little run on one of the many hilly routes from my home. Felt good and the pace came along relatively easy. Was pleased with my heart rate at the pace I did. Kept telling myself to slow down but it didn't do much good. Went faster than I would have liked, but given the low mileage last week I'm far from concerned about it. Also, great weather today, as a cold front has pushed through and close to seasonal temperatures have returned and it appears they'll be around for a while.

Ran 5.6 miles @ 7:13/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 155/173
Paved and dirt roads.
Very hilly.
Mid-60s, sunny.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Morning Trail Run at Bradbury

I have two alarm clocks, and both are quite reliable. One plays the local sport station. The other bats me in the face until I wake up. The latter started at the usual 4am, and I woke to see the usual dark silhouette of The Cheat (my cat) staring at me from less than a foot away. Bap, bap, bap, bap. He does it again, only instead of ducking under the protection of my covers for another hour, I crawl out of bed and immediately walk into my computer room to check on something in progress when I went to bed. Sweet, the Red Sox won.

After downing some coffee and a quick breakfast, I was on the road to meet with Stephen to get in some miles on the trails at Bradbury Mountain State Park, which will be the home of the Bradbury Bruiser 12-mile race in a few weeks.

As we were getting ready in the parking lot, I tucked my car key inside the gas lid cover, only to find that it fell down in an area just out of reach. Crap, I thought for sure I was going to have to ask Stephen to drive me all the way home and back to get my spare, but after several anxious minutes, I finally finagled it loose and retrieved it. Whew. Probably should just carry it with me anyway, so I think I'll do that for now on.

We headed out as the sun was in the very early stages of rising, and it was still quite dark. But with each passing minute, we had more light and picked up the pace, albeit very slightly. Going fast here is difficult. The trails are very technical, full of rocks and roots that make running feel more like a game of Dance Dance Revolution at times. And the constantly winding trails and rollercoaster-like hills definitely make it a fun place to run. I hadn't been here in a while, so I relished it.

Stephen and I enjoyed our usual gambit of entertaining conversations which ranged from running, hunting, races, and several dozen other topics. Perhaps that contributed to taking wrong turns here or there. Several times, the following conversation took place:

Stephen: "Hold on, we shouldn't be here. Let me check the map, sorry about that."

Me: "Don't apologize. We're in the woods. We're running. That's all that matters."

Conversation resumes for 10 minutes, and then...


It was pretty funny. Stephen's orienteering skills are actually top-notch, but given our yakking, it was early and dark, the fact that the trails are so technical that if you take your eyes off of them for one second there's a good chance you'll tumble (we both fell twice), and the leaves obscured the paths, it seemed pretty easy to become a little misplaced. For the record, the race will be a different story. No doubt the course will be very well marked.

We ended up getting in over nine miles which suited me fine. My legs felt fresh and I continue to feel good about the MDI Marathon a week from tomorrow. Speaking of marathons, Stephen, and our Vermont 100 partner in crime, James, will both be running the Maine Marathon in Portland tomorrow. I look forward to heading over to cheer them on.

Ran 9.7 miles @ 9:29/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 130/154
Technical trails.
Very hilly.
50 degrees, sunny.