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

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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!