Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Mt. A + 2 Geocaches

The trails at Mt. Agamenticus are hard to resist, especially since they're only about a 20 minute drive from my school. Headed down there again today to get in some trail running and knock out a couple of geocaches.

The first one, GCVNYR, was right off the dirt road along the normal loop I've been running and was a quick find. The second one, GCY0RK, was a multi-cache (in this case, first set of coordinates leads you to an actual cache). I hit after reaching the top of Mt. A and set out on some new trails to find it.

I ended up unecessarily bushwhacking when I got close to the second phase of the multicache, and stopped when I heard a buzzing sound. At first, I thought a yellow jackets nest was nearby, then I thought it might be water trickling under the rocks. I cautiously approached the area of the sound and noticed it was thousands and thousands of small, flea-like bugs jumping on the fallen leaves. I have no idea what they were, but it creeped me out. My imagination started to get the better of me and I envisioned them starting to crawl on me and biting me to holy heck, consuming me to the bone in a matter of minutes. I quickly got out of there and soon located the cache, signed the log, then headed back up to the top of Mt. A.

Headed down and then continued on for another loop up and down the mountain. Really like the trails here. They're technical, but very runnable. I think my downhill form has improved a lot the past few months, and I'm becoming stronger at it. I'll definitely be needing that two months from now. Tic toc, tic toc, tic toc....

Ran 9.0 miles @ 10:23/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 132/159
Trails, dirt roads.
Extremely hilly.
Upper 40s, mostly sunny.
Shorts, short sleeved shirt, Moeben sleeves.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Cross Training

Cold rain today, good excuse to cross train inside and focus on building up the quadriceps some more. Mission accomplished.

Elliptical - 7.1 miles in 30 minutes.
Random hills.
Level 12 out of 16.

Leg extensions, 5 sets w/ 8 reps each. 80, 90, 100, 110, 80 lbs.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Things Don't Always Go As Planned...

...but that's not always in a bad way. I set out today to run the dump loop with the goal of just under 8:00/mile. I thought that might feel a bit difficult after yesterday's 24 miler and the fact that I haven't done any tempo or speed workouts in a long, long while.


Mile 1 - 7:32
Mile 2 - 7:26
Mile 3 - 6:57
Mile 4 - 6:15
Mile 5 - 6:21
Last .6 - 6:08/mile pace.

Ran 5.6 miles @ 6:50/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 159/183
Very hilly.
Paved and dirt roads.
50 degrees, overcast.
Shorts, long sleeved shirt.

Weekly recap:
Mon - 0
Tue - 16.6
Wed - 5.7
Thu -
Fri - 8.7
Sat - 24.1
Sun - 5.6

Weekly total = 60.7 miles

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Fine Day at Pineland Farms

With temps reaching the upper 50s, it was perfect running weather today. James, Ian, Emma, Erik, Jim, another Jim, Tom and myself set out on the trails at Pineland Farms for a nice trail run. Felt pretty good overall, though I did get pretty tired towards the end. Far from a bonk though and a very good run overall. Felt great to soak our legs in the cool waters of the pond afterwards.

This stretch of incredibly nice weather we've had for the past two weeks is about come to end though. Arrrr, there be storms and colder weather ahead.

Ran 24.1 miles @ 9:23/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 138/158
Very hilly.
Mid 30s climbing to upper 50s, sunny.
Shorts, short sleeved shirt, Moeben sleeves (morning).

Friday, April 25, 2008

New Trail Loop

I set out today to explore some local trails that I thought would lead to some cliffs I knew about up on Deering Ridge. I thought I'd be running an out and back but was able to figure out another way back that created a loop. Nice.

Good hills and the trails themselves are great to run on. Technical in some parts but mostly pretty smooth going. It was a great mix. Found the cliffs four miles in. Opted to climb up them and take in the views for a few minutes.

My energy, however, did feel a little low today. Nothing out of the ordinary, just one of those days where things seem a bit tougher. I did feel better as the run went on though.

Worth noting I flushed a ruffed grouse early on in the run. I also spotted a red-tailed hawk riding a thermal above the power lines and later a cooper's hawk in the woods.

Ran 8.7 miles @ 9:30/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 144/167
Very hilly.
Mid 60s, sunny.
Shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Veazie and Sawyer Mountains

Call it a slow trail run or a fast hike. Either is fitting I suppose and speed wasn't really on the agenda anyway. Goal today was to check out the trails on a nearby land trust that contains two mountains as well as two geocaches (yeah, I am really hooked). Gorgeous day also, our first time reaching into the 80s this year!

Found the trailhead and was off. Began the steep climb up Veazie Mountain in search of this cache. I had to bushwack in a few tenths of a mile to get to it and it was all up a steep cliff. Slow going, but very cool! I loved the challenge. Also saw lots of fresh moose poop along the way.

Reached the top and had my Forerunner point me towards the coordinates and quickly located it. Signed the logbook, left a toy jeep and also took this geocoin to move it to the next cache (which is more accessible). Bushwacked back down, found the trail, and was off again.

Following a steep downhill off Veazie, the trek over to Sawyer Mountain featured a longer, grinding uphill. Trails in this area aren't very runnable. Lots of loose, softball sized rocks covered many sections of the trails, making footing very tricky. Also, lots of water running down the steep sections. However, it's a beautiful area, and I'll be back. Just not if I feel like going fast.

As I neared the summit, it was evident that the next geocache was down off the other side of the mountain a ways. I opted to reach the true summit first and then search for the cache. Reached the summit which had spectacular views towards the south. Wow! It was really beautiful. I sat in the shade of a tree for about 10 minutes and soaked it in while mowing down a Larabar.

Ran down the summit and headed off to find the cache. Ended up being an easy find. Signed the logbook and placed the geocoin inside. Better chance someone will take it and move the geocoin elsewhere from here. Left a toy dog inside also (BTW, kids often accompany parents while geocaching, and caches often contain small toys for the youngsters).

After that, ran back to the car. Fun morning.

Ran 5.7 miles @ 14:40/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 127/156
Trails, very technical.
Extremely hilly.
Lower 70s to lower 80s.
Shorts, singlet.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Little Ossipee Hill Run

It's spring break, and the weather is gorgeous. Life is good. Ran a similiar route that I did a few weeks ago up to Little Ossipee Hill. Huge difference in the amount of snow. All that's left is a few patches here and there.

Swung a little off the normal route to the hill to try and find a geocache that we were unsuccessful at finding yesterday. Did a wider search circle but I couldn't find it. Oh well.

Ran on and on the way to the hill had to run (wade?) through a few watery sections. Didn't mind as it was warm out and the cool water felt great!

Reached the climb to the hill and made my way up the best I could. There are two sections in particular that are wicked steep and I just powerwalk those parts.

Reached the top and had my Forerunner point me towards the Ossipee Hill geocache. My pointer took me towards the other side of the mountain that had amazing views towards the southeast. Didn't know about this particular area before and was glad to find it (one of the many joys of geocaching). After a short scramble down the cliff I found the cache, signed the log and climbed back up to enjoy the views for a few more minutes before heading back down.

Like last time, I took a shortcut on the return route that was relatively uneventful. Nice to run in summer like weather without the bugs. Deer flies are spawned by Lucifer himself, not looking forward to those buggers returning so I'm going to enjoy this while it lasts.

Still can't get over how nice the weather has been the past week and a half. It's simply been perfect. Homemade chocolate ice cream is in the freezer, but not for long.

Ran 16.6 miles @ 9:47/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 140/162
Extremely hilly.
Upper 50s climbing to lower 70s, sunny.
Shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Geochache Trail Run

My legs feel surprisingly great today after yesterday's 40-miler. I think soaking them in the cool waters of the pond immediately afterwards helped. Felt more than okay to go out for a few miles today and try something new: geochaching.

I uploaded the coordinates of three geochaches nearby and set off to find them.

I was 0 for 3. I'm about to head out with some of my neighbors, Kate and Karen, who are more experienced to try and find them. They were probably right in front of me, but we'll soon find out. (UPDATE: We found them all. They were indeed right in front of me. Now I know what to look for, but I still can't believe I missed a couple of them).

Ran 4.2 miles @ 9:36/mile pace (probably faster, forgot to hit stop a few times while searching).
AHR/MHR - 128/150
Trails (at least 50% still snow covered)
Moderately hilly.
Mid to upper 50s, sunny.
Shorts, long sleeved shirt, hat.

Weekly total = 70.8 miles

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Long Run at Pineland Farms

I met up with James at 5am at Pineland Farms. Plan was to get in 30-40 miles and was happy to do the longer amount. Felt really good overall for this run. Trail conditions were somewhat interesting in that 10-15% of the trails were still coated with mini-glaciers of packed ice, but on the dirt there were very few muddy spots. It was nice.

James and I headed out with our headlamps on and chatted away about Lost (best. show. ever.), as well as the Massanutten 100 he'll be racing at next month. I'll be pacing him which will be fun. James is a very strong runner, and no doubt he'll do very well.

At one point, James spotted a porcupine climbing a tree. It was quite amusing. It wasn't scrambling up in a big hurry. Just seemingly moseying its way up.

After almost 10 miles we headed back to the parking lot to meet up with the rest of the crew who had planned to start running at 7am. Ian, Emma, Randy, Jim, Shauna, John, another Jim, and Tom were all there and we headed off together. I was a bit concerned about the somewhat quicker pace at first (many of them were not running as long), but it turned out just fine.

Half of the group stopped after they got in about 15 miles. James, Ian, Emma, Randy and I pressed on. About 25 miles into the run, I got a strange second wind of sorts. I just had a big pick up in energy that lasted for about five miles. I think it was the peanut butter jelly sandwiches I had been munching on when we stopped at our cars (which was twice for each 15 mile loop). For my longer runs and ultras, this is by far my food of choice.

After my surge, I settled back down to normal levels. However, it was James' turn, and he took off. Ian and and Randy took a route back to the cars to call it a day and Emma and I continued along together along the normal Pineland Farms race route. We'll both be running the 50-miler next month, which will be fun. Speaking of 50s, worth noting Ian got in 20+ miles just a week after running the Bull Run Run 50-miler down in Virginia. The guy is an animal.

I was very excited when I heard a call that sort of sounded like a pileated woodpecker, but when I looked up, I saw it was really a Northern Flicker, a bird I've wanted to see and now have.

We reached the cars and caught up with James who was cooling off in the pond. He and I had five miles left to do at this point, and Emma had six to get in her planned 50K. Refueled, filled our bottles, and we were off.
Last five miles were a bit tough. Not a struggle though, just that the legs were starting to get tired. We walked more of the uphills and ran everything else pretty slowly. We did a few loops in the woods near our cars just to round up our mileage to our goals. Good day!

Afterwards, grub at a local diner that had darn good cheese steak sandwiches. James also taught me a cool trick: balancing a salt shaker on it's edge with the help of just a few grains of salt (pic below).

Ran 40.0 miles @ 10:23/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 138/158
Very hilly.
Lower 40s to start, mid 60s to end. Sunny.
Shorts, short sleeved shirt, Moeben sleeves (morning).



The salt shaker trick (Ian in the background, obviously very impressed):

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Short Trot on the Railroad Trails

Sticking to my plan of short runs during the week. With the awesome weather, it was difficult to hold back. Probably won't run tomorrow, despite another stellar day predicted.

I'm really looking forward to Saturday. A nice loooong trail run is planned at Pineland Farms. James and I will be meeting up there at 5am, and we'll be joined by the rest of the Trail Monster posse at 7am.

Ran 5.5 miles @ 8:45/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 141/156
Trails (now 90% dirt/mud, 10% snow)
Moderately hilly.
Mid 60s, sunny.
Shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Short and Sweet

Just ran five miles today with some co-workers. Took off on the last mile, hitting it in 6:23. Beautiful afternoon out!

Ran 5.0 miles @ 8:01/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 145/169
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Lower 60s, sunny.
Shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Mt. Agamenticus

Headed down to Mt. Agamenticus this afternoon to take advantage of some snow free trails. The "mountain" is really more of a big hill, but it is somewhat prominent compared to the geography of the rest of the area.

I ran the same loop I did last summer with a large group that were also training for the Vermont 100. This time, I ran the three mile route three times. I'm feeling my body getting much more on track but I still want to keep the mileage relatively low this week as a precaution.

The loop starts off with a mile of running downill on a dirt road, followed with a mile of running (more like speed hiking) a very steep uphill trail to the top, then a mile downhill on a winding, technical trail that switchbacks down to the parking lot. So, in essence you're getting a mile of steep climbing and two miles of downhills. It's nice. Good practice for me as I need to work on my downhill form.

Run itself went very well. Felt better as the run went on. Past few runs various leg muscles have seemed tight. Today it was the soleous muscles. After a few miles, they were fine. I guess I need to do a better job at stretching after my runs to keep things loose.

Worth noting that the skies were very clear and I could see Mt. Washington from a vantage point near the top of Mt. A. I could also make out Mt. Hope near my school and Little Ossipee Hill near my house, which I've been running on lately.

Also, a big congrats to Ian for doing a great job at the Bull Run Run 50 this past weekend!

Ran 9.0 miles @ 10:05/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 140/171
Trails, dirt roads.
Extremely hilly.
Mid-upper 50s, sunny.
Shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Railroad Run

I've become fascinated recently with an old railroad bed that runs by the school I teach at as well as my house. I spent yesterday exploring a few miles of it near my house (it was an easy walk, not a run or strenuous hike, so I opted to not do an entry for it), and ran on part of it near my school today. Basically the railroad started in the mid-1800s and was in service until 1961. It ran from Rochester, NH to Portland, ME, and was fittingly called the "Portland and Rochester Railroad". I've been digging up a lot of other history on it, but I'll save that for a later post.

Ran a little over seven miles total of it today on an out and back route. Legs felt tight for the first two miles, but great once I warmed up. Trail conditions were about a third snow, with the other two thirds being dirt and mud. Nice!

Ran 7.1 miles @ 8:45/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 143/158
Trails (65% dirt/mud, 35% snow).
Moderately hilly.
~50 degrees, partly cloudy.
Shorts, long sleeved shirt.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Streak Ends

I decided to kill my streak of 10+ mile runs today, going since February 27th. The wheels felt like they were starting to get wobbly and I didn't want them to fall off. I would have liked to have kept the streak going for another few weeks to make it two months, but logical thinking overtook the emotional (more specifically the ego), and I decided the best plan to move forward was to hold back and ease back into it. Continuing to ignore the warning signs surely would have been moving me backwards.

I first noticed the overtraining symptoms about a week and a half ago and took action by taking three days off. The signs were mostly trouble sleeping, fatigue, and a sporadic appetite. The trouble sleeping was most prominent. Taking that time off was a good start, but following that up with over 64 miles of running over a five day period only brought on the signs more. Duh. What did I expect? That was pretty stupid.

So, I took the last two days off. I noticed my body starting to get back on track again. Last night, I slept like a baby, and after a grad school meeting this morning, I came home and took a huge nap that felt wonderful. Plan is to ease back into things over the next week or two and do a better job at listening to my body. Doing so should only make me stronger, and that's the mantra I need to keep in mind.

So out the door today under beautiful sunny skies and temperatures close to 60 degrees. Ran a short three miles and called it a day.

Worth noting that the snow is melting extremely fast. It only really exists in patches in the heavily wooded areas, but even those are starting to shrink. Won't be long before the trees start to show some green. Sweet.

Ran 3.0 miles @ 8:20/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 140/155
Paved roads.
Mostly flat.
Upper 50s, sunny.
Shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Mt. Hope

Beautiful, warm afternoon. Ran up Mt. Hope and took a different way back that was shorter than I expected. Tacked on a loop around the pond to bring me into double digit mileage. I have a silly little streak going with that, with every run since Feb. 27th being at least 10 miles (if you exclude a hike up Mt. Mansfield in Vermont as a run).

Felt a little banged up today, but I loosened up as the run went on. Heart rate was a little high for this pace.

Not sure whether to label this route as extremely or very hilly. Will go with the latter since the climb up Mt. Hope and subsequent descent had steep grades (~4 miles), but the rest of the route was pretty gentle (~7) miles.

Ran 11.1 miles @ 8:29/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 141/171
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Mid 50s, partly cloudy.
Shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Trail Scouting

I've laid out some pretty nice trail routes from my house, so I wanted to do the same from my school. I often opt to run right from the school when I'm done teaching before I drive home. The temptation to relax and take a nap is often too great if I come home first.

The main purpose of today's run was to explore some trails knowing I'd probably reach a few dead ends or areas that weren't passable, but I was hoping to get at least an idea of a few good routes. It went as expected, and I explored some pretty nice sections and have a much better idea of what's out there now.

I also wanted to take it easy this run, so I kept the pace slow and enjoyed it. Most of the trails (90-95% ?) were still coated in slow, so going fast would have been difficult anyway. The snow is melting fast though. Quite fast. Cool.

Worth noting I saw a deer, an osprey, and three huge turkeys during the run.

Also worth noting that despite waking up at 2:30am and not being able to fall back asleep, I felt pretty okay during this run. Not my full self, but still pretty good considering. I suspect I'll sleep quite well tonight though.

Ran 11.5 miles @ 10:19/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 139/160
Trails, mostly coated with snow.
Moderately hilly.
Lower 50s, sunny.
Shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Sundays with Maurie (and James)

Had a great trail run with James and his dog Maurie down in Ipswich, Massachusetts. James was in the area visiting family, and I decided to meet up with him for something we had both hoped for and received: A long trail run with absolutely no trace of snow!

We met at the elementary school which also serves as the start/finish for the Stonecat 50, and we ran two modified loops of the 12.5 mile route. We got thrown off track a few times, but never by much.

First loop went great, as we just trotted along at a slow pace (James also had a big run yesterday, 24 miles on roads) and we chatted about everything, including some preliminary plans for the Massanutten 100. I'll be pacing James at that race, which is an honor and it will no doubt be a lot of fun.

Somewhere along the first loop, we encountered the horrific stench of something dead and decaying. It was very strong and had both of us gagging. We never saw the rotting corpse of whatever it was, but boy, did it stink. I've smelled plenty of dead things before, but nothing could quite compare to this.

We finished up the first loop and ran back to our cars to replenish our water and also stretch a little. Afterwards we were off for our second loop. During one of our wrong turns, we encountered a gargantuan, wicked steep hill that neither of us had ever seen before while running here. We were clearly off course, but decided that to not to tackle such a hill would be a waste, so we decided to get to the top and then run back down it before finding the correct trail. I marveled at James' speed while running down the hill, especially one that steep. That boy can really book it.

As this loop went on, we both began to feel a little tired from our respective death marches from the day before. By the time we hit mile 20, we both felt we were on the verge of bonking. Neither of us really brought any food, and had only eaten one Larabar each during the run. Maurie the dog, however, looked very fresh and continued to take the lead with great energy. That's one neat dog.

But we brushed our lack of energy aside and ran on. Fortunately, neither of us really totally bonked, and we even picked it up a little the last couple of miles. We both agreed it's finishing off runs like this that really can help mentally.

After we reached our cars, we stopped for pizza in downtown Ipswich. I mowed down an entire large pizza with no problem. Yep, I guess I was hungry.

Worth noting the Asics shoes and Nathan waist pack continued to perform excellently. Money well spent.

Ran 25.2 miles @ 9:52/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 135/159
Very hilly.
Lower 40s, overcast.
Shorts, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt.

Not sure what's up with the elevation there in the last mile, but the rest appears to look relatively okay:

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Tough Trail Run

After three days of rest, I was raring to go today. I took the time off in part because I wanted a light week this week, however, I also had to skip a scheduled run because grad school commitments took longer than expected. But still, good things can come out of these rest periods. My legs felt very fresh at the onset of this run, which was nice.

Fortunately, trail conditions near my house were better than I expected. While the vast majority of the trails are still coated with snow, they were packed down pretty well and runnable.

I had several goals for today: Explore some new trails, test out my brand new trail shoes (Asics Attack 4) and also test out my new waist pack (Nathan Elite 2V Plus).

A few notes on the Asics... they fit perfectly when I tried them out at the Maine Running Company. I knew they'd be winners. I was right. Great fit, very comfortable, light weight (10.8 ounces), and great grip. Even despite getting totally submersed in water several times today, not even a hint of a blister.

And a few notes on the Nathan Elite 2V Plus. I was worried this pack would be too big and bulky. I was wrong. It was less noticeable than my single water bottle carrier. No bouncing around and very easy access to the bottles. I couldn't be happier with it. I've heard some folks say their arms hit the tops of the V-slanted water bottles when they run, but I didn't experience that at all, perhaps due to my build.

The run itself: buttkicker, but a lot of fun. I began on some trails across the street that meandered up to the ridge and to the powerlines after a few miles. The powerlines were nice for a short while, and then I encountered the bog from hell. It took forever to negotiate through it, and several times I had to wade through icy cold, thigh deep water. I was never really upset about it though. All part of the adventure.

After getting through that bog, a few miles later I encountered another one. Going around it was futile, as several times I post-holed through snow up past my knees, and the icy snow did a great job at scratching up my calves. Once again, just thought it was best to plow through it.

Fortunately, that was the last of those areas. I enjoyed a run that left the powerlines and spent a few miles on the snowmobile trails towards the next big obstacle, climbing Little Ossipee Hill. It's slightly above 1000', and from the firetower at the top you are afforded great views of the White Mountains and also the ocean. Got to the top, climbed the firetower and enjoyed the views for a bit before climbing down and running down the mountain.

I decided to take a shortcut back to avoid that second swampy section by running along the dirt shoulder of Rt. 202 back to the powerlines. Climbed back up the ridge the way I had came, but just before that other swampy section, I found another snowmobile trail that looked to avoid that area and would join back up with the original trail. My guess was right, and I was happy to keep my feet dry. Soon after, I was home. Damn good run.

Ran 16.5 miles @ 12:00/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 137/162
Trails with packed snow, swampy sections.
Extremely hilly.
Lower to upper 40s, overcast.
Shorts, fleece jacket, short sleeved shirt.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Werewolf Fog

Warm temps combined with a light rain helped form low-lying blankets of thick fog that hovered just above the snow. It resembled something out of a horror movie. I was waiting for a werewolf to emerge at any moment, but then I realized it was still daylight out and no chance of a full moon, so of course that would have been impossible.

Route went up past the John Deere and up Mountain Road, down the other side, up Beaver Hill, and back around the armory.

Ran 10.4 miles @ 8:21/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 139/160
Paved roads.
Extremely hilly.
Mid 50s, overcast, light rain.
Shorts, long sleeved shirt.