Monday, June 30, 2008

Squaw Valley - Tahoe City Pics

Here are some pictures from Thursday and Friday. Thursday was from our run up to Emigrant Pass. Friday was from my trail run on some cross country ski trails in Tahoe City. Unfortunately, it was on Friday when my camera stopped working for a while. Somewhat mysteriously, it's working again now.

Link to album page.

James and I are heading up to the White Mountains for a big run tomorrow. Need to get some tune-up work done for VT100.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Headin' Back to Maine

I sit here in Reno (this city is a rat hole, at least there's free wifi at the airport!) waiting for my flight, ready to head back to Maine after my Western States preview weekend. It is really nice knowing that we'll be back next year. The general area where the race start is and also what I saw of the course is absolutely beautiful. Can't wait to come back!

I was musing that if I talked to a genie a few weeks ago...

"Excuse me, umm, sir. How am I going to do at Western States?"

"You will not return home with a buckle," he might reply.

I definitely would have been shocked and probably not even considered it wasn't the result of a DNF, but of the race being canceled. Hee hee.

But to recap from where I left off last: After my run on Friday, I took a nap and my brother and I met up with our old friend Brooke who lives in Tahoe City. Great to see her as it's been a while, and after catching up a little we hopped on some bikes (she has a full arsenal) and rode about 8-9 miles to Squaw Valley for the WS dinner.

As we were locking up the bikes, a woman in a truck asked us if we were going to the dinner. Turns out she was Nikki Kimball's pacer, and she introduced us to Nikki. Didn't talk with her long but it was nice to meet her.

Unfortunately, it was a bit crowded and the line for grub was long, so we opted to skip out and get pizza and drinks at one of the nearby restaurants (sorry I missed you there Damon, see you in a few weeks). After eating, we biked back and hung out on Brooke's patio which overlooks Lake Tahoe and chilled for a bit while enjoying a few more drinks.

Biked 17 miles @ ???/pace.
Paved bike paths.
Slightly hilly.
Upper 70s, sunny.
Shorts, short sleeved shirt.

On Saturday, my brother and I headed back over to Squaw Valley. I had forgotten what time the flag raising ceremony on top of Emigrant Pass was, but it turns out we got there just in time. Cool! I ended up talking with the brother and sister duo of Paul and Kathleen Braun in the parking lot and hung out with them on the summit. Cool folks. Kathleen was to pace Paul, who was going to run the Grand Slam. Kathleen herself is also an ultrarunner and one of the few dozen people to finish the Kettle Morraine 100 in some very insane weather conditions. They'll both be at the Vermont 100 in a few weeks and we've made plans to exchange microbrews when we see each other again.

While waiting with the group to go up, I was privileged to meet and talk briefly with Tim Twietmeyer and Cowman A-Moo-Ha, two well known WS veterans. The group then headed up and I ran (well, power-hiked) up with Chris Wight from Australia. Really nice guy, and I learned a lot about the "land down under" after barraging him with questions.

Four and a half miles and 2550' of vertical later we were at the top. My brother took the sky tram up and met us there. While the smoke didn't seem that bad down at Squaw Valley, it still looked VERY thick to the west where the course ran. It actually got worse during the time we were up there and nearly totally obscured the views of even some of the closer ridges. It was reassuring that the race officials had indeed made the right call.

After the ceremony, I flew down the mountain, almost literally. I don't think I've ever run that fast downhill for that long in my life. Not exactly sure of what my time was down, but I think I covered the 4.5 miles in a little over half an hour. That was fun. Was pleased with my downhill form and it was good reassurance that I'm becoming stronger on the downhills, though I still think I have some work to do for downhill trails that are more technical.

Ran 9.0 miles @ ???/pace.
Dirt roads.
Insanely hilly.
Upper 80s, sunny, smoky.
Shorts, singlet.

After I got back down we headed back to Brooke's and went for a swim in Lake Tahoe. Water was cold, but refreshing. Grabbed lunch, chilled in the hammocks in her backyard, and then bid farewells to Brooke and headed over to Reno for the night due to my brother's early flight. Looking forward to getting back to Maine, doing some quick crash work in my training for the Vermont 100, and also relaxing a lot when I'm not running.

I'll post pics soon.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Runnin' Near Tahoe

The skies out here are much clearer today than they were yesterday, but this is only one area and as far as I know there are still fires threatening the course and/or access to aid stations. Went out for a great run on some awesome mountain bike trails near Tahoe City. After some climbing I had some amazing views of Lake Tahoe. The woods out here are gorgeous. Nice to experience a new ecosystem and all of the new plants, trees and critters.

Also nice to run in some altitude. Nothing crazy, but I estimate I was between 7000-8000' during today's run. I can't say it really affected me much, but I wouldn't think that's too surprising for anyone in halfway decent shape. It's just neat to be running up that high.

I've taken a lot of great pictures, but my old school camera needs a cable to talk to my laptop. I'll post them after I get on Sunday night.

As for the rest of today, my brother and I are meeting up with our friend Brooke later and we'll attend a little Western States party going on in Squaw Valley this evening. Tomorrow, another trail run and exploring the area.

is on his way out for some other adventures in the great state of Cali with his friend Danny. I can't thank these guys and my brother enough for being willing to come out and help me for the run, even though it never happened. We had a very good time all hanging out together yesterday. Stephen was cracking us up the entire time! He is one funny dude. For any members of the Trail Monster gang reading this, be sure to ask him about his mountain crabs when you see him next.

Ran 10.4 miles @ 9:47/mile pace.
Very hilly.
Upper 70s to lower 80s, sunny.
Shorts, short sleeved shirt.

It's Official!

This year's Western States runners will have an automatic entry for 2009. Delayed gratification at it's finest and another year to daydream and prepare:

"Due to cancelation of the 2008 Western States Endurance Run, each person on this final Start List will be given an automatic entry to the 2009 event."

Thursday, June 26, 2008

More on the Western States Cancellation

Greetings from Lake Tahoe. First off, thanks for all the kind words I've gotten. It really is appreciated. Now that I've seen it in the daylight, the smoke in the area is pretty damn thick and the race committee definitely made the right move. Had the chance to talk to several other would-be runners today and they all shared the same sentiment. Still, it was a bit hard to visit Squaw Valley today (where the race expo and race start is), look up at these gorgeous mountains and imagine the adventure we would have had.

However, the smoke was also so thick it was hard to see a lot of the mountains! Stephen, his buddy Danny and I ran/power walked up to the first and highest peak on the course and the smoke was significantly worse off to the west where the race course ran. While we felt fine for the most part on our little jaunt today, I don't think running a 100 miles in it and in areas with even thicker smoke would be too smart. Some of the fires are also apparently endangering access to the aid stations. It's just a mess.

I really feel bad for the race directors and other folks who put on the race. Can you imagine having to tell 400 something runners that have made many sacrifices that the race is canceled? Being the bearer of bad news is never fun, even if it's in no way your fault and due to circumstances you have no control over of.

But it is what it is. It's looking like this year's runners will be guaranteed a slot next year, though that's not official yet. It only seems fair though. I'm anticipating that being the case and look forward to coming back next year and kicking some butt.

I also have the Vermont 100 in three weeks. Just some brushing up on training between now and then I should have a good run there with some fresh legs that are raring to go. Time now to look ahead and not back. There are trails to be run and many good times to be had.

Onward and upward!

Today's stats:
Ran 8.9 miles @ ??? pace
Insanely hilly.
Dirt roads, trails.
Lower 80s, sunny, thick smoke.
Shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Western States Has Been Cancelled

Needless to say, I'm bummed, but the race directors have made the right choice. Getting off the plane in Reno, the smell of smoke was strong and the haze was thick. I'll write more later, as I'm tired, but below is a copy of the email sent to the runners:

Dear Western States Runners,

It is with deep regret that we announce today that the 35th running of the Western
States 100-mile Endurance Run has been cancelled, due to the unprecedented amount
of wildfires that have struck northern California in recent days and the health
risks that have been associated with these wildfires. The Board of Trustees of the
Western States Endurance Run has consulted with many of our local and state race
partners, including the U.S. Forest Service and the Placer County Air Pollution
Control District, in coming to this decision. We apologize to our runners for any
inconvenience this decision has created.

The race’s organizers are currently working on a revised schedule of runner
activities for Thursday and Friday in Squaw Valley, and these details will be made
available soon. Although there will be no race for the first time in our 35-year
history, we still wish to make this experience as meaningful as possible for our
runners. Activities will include annual events such as runner check-in for goodie
bag pickup on Friday morning, the pre-race briefing and raffle on Friday
afternoon, the showing of Western States documentaries on Friday night, and a
special gathering of runners commemorating the race’s start on Saturday.

Since the beginning of more than 840 wildfires statewide, 312 wildfires in
northern California and more than 3,200 lightning strikes in the Tahoe National
Forest alone on June 21, the race’s organizers have worked closely with a variety
local, county and state agencies in determining the best course of action for our
race. It has become apparent that given our race’s paramount concern – the safety
or our runners – holding this year’s race would pose too great a risk to our
runners, to our aid station personnel and to our volunteers. Given the close
proximity of at least two fires that are within two miles of our race course and a
critical access road, as well as the deteriorating air quality stretching from our
start in Squaw Valley to Auburn, Calif., the board has determined that
cancellation, rather than postponement or the use of an alternative course,
represents the safest and most prudent decision for our 2008 event.

Our decision was based on three factors:

1) Proximity of the fire to the race course, which has the potential to impact the
safety of runners, aid station personnel and volunteers at any point during the

Fire projections indicate that the Westville Fire has the potential to reach the
Foresthill Divide Road by the weekend; in addition, the Peavine Fire could reach
Last Chance and Mosquito Ridge Road, possibly compromising access in and out of
these areas. In a statement, Jan Cutts, District Ranger for the American River
Ranger District, said, “In addition to the potential direct impact by the fires,
(the race’s cancellation) is based on safety concerns surrounding the increased
number of vehicles on the road and congestion associated with the Run. We see
hundreds of vehicles on the Foresthill Divide Road and Mosquito Ridge Road for
this event each year. That’s just too many additional vehicles when we’ve got
fire-fighting equipment and personnel using the same roads for fire suppression
operations. … Safety is our overriding concern and we felt we could not provide a
safe environment for this year’s Run because of the unprecedented fire activity in
the area.”

2. Air quality deterioration.

Placer County Air Pollution Control District officials have issued an air-quality
advisory. Air quality specialists with Placer County are advising individuals to
reduce their exposure to the unhealthy air, and that includes vigorous outdoor
activities. Medical representatives from the Western States Board have consulted
with several physicians regarding their expert opinion on running a 100-mile trail
race through rugged country through such unhealthy air; the consensus has been
that such an activity would not be recommended, with the potential for serious
health risks – even for the most highly trained of athletes. As a point of
reference, a high level of pollution is 35 micrograms of material; in Auburn on
Wednesday the level was 10 times that amount, according to figures from Placer
County. In addition, Placer County Air Pollution Control District officials have
characterized the air conditions as extremely hazardous and the worst recordings
the area has had in more
than 10 years.

In a statement, the Placer County Public Health Officer, Air Pollution Control
Officer and Director of the Office of Emergency Services, all concurred with the
decision to cancel this year’s run:

“The current situation in Northern California with respect to poor air quality and
active fire danger is unprecedented. Within Placer County there are three active
fires burning in the American River watershed, two of which have potential to
impact the Western States Trail directly. These fires, as well as ones burning
outside of the American River watershed to the west and north are creating
unhealthy smoke concentrations throughout the foothills. This has necessitated
county public health officials to issue advisories recommending a curtailment of
voluntary outdoor activities that include strenuous physical exertion. These
recommendations include reducing exposure to smoke.” Added Tom Christofk, Placer
County Air Pollution Officer: “The widespread smoke throughout Northern California
is forecasted to remain as long as the wildfires continue to burn and the weather
conditions do not substantially change. The poor air quality conditions being
experienced in Placer County
are expected to persist through the weekend and impact elevations from the valley
to Tahoe. High particulate matter concentrations affect respiratory and
cardiovascular systems negatively, and I concur with the decision to cancel the Run
from a public health perspective as we have been issuing health advisories
recommending the limiting of outdoor physical exercise until conditions improve.”

3. Safety of our runners.

For 35 years, the Western States 100 has been predicated on our runner’s safety.
As stewards of the race, the Western States Board has always recognized that
running 100 miles over snow, through high elevations, into infernal canyons and
through the dark of night can pose great challenges for even the most skilled of
runners. Couple the challenging nature of our run with the existing combination of
close proximity of wildfire, potential volatile fire activity that could cut off
key access points to the course as well as some of the most unhealthy air the
region has seen this decade, and the decision was made in recognition of our
preeminent goal – the safety of our runners.

For all of you, today’s news is disappointing. Since the lottery was held in
December, you have trained with remarkable diligence and focus to get to this day.
You have dreamed big and made countless personal sacrifices to prepare for one of
the greatest days any trail runner can ever have. As a group, the Western States
Board would like to commend you for your dedication and devotion not only to the
preparation that is required for our race, but to the community of trail runners
of which we are all a part. You are members of a special group, one that relishes
challenge, constantly strives to improve the limits of what is believed possible,
and seeks the special kindred spirits of others who revel in the beauty of our
sport. We have been honored to have your name as part of our race’s start list
this year.

We would be remiss if we did not publicly thank the men and women of the American
River Ranger District, particularly Jan Cutts and Ed Moore, for their consultation
and constant flow of updated information regarding this very challenging fire
situation. The City of Auburn, City Manager Bob Richardson, and officials from
Placer County, in particular Tom Christofk, Placer County Air Pollution Control
Officer, and Dr. Richard Burton, Placer County Public Health Officer, have also
been invaluable sources of information and advisement. Thanks to all of these
trail partners.

In the coming days, we will announce details regarding entries for next year’s
race, which will be determined in a fair and equitable manner. It should be noted
that per our race rules, all race entries are non-refundable.

Thank you again for your participation and interest in the Western States 100. We
hope that we will see you in 2009.


Tim Twietmeyer
Western States Board President
Greg Soderlund
Race Director

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Final Pre-Western States Run in Maine

These short runs during the taper are great, but are also in stark contrast to the feeling one gets during a 100-miler which is a bit like a one-legged cat trying to bury turds on a frozen pond.

Today was my final pre-Western States run in Maine. Will likely do another short run on Thursday out in Cali (I'll have my laptop with me and plan on posting then). Went very slow and power-walked the steeper uphills on purpose today.

Ran 3.5 miles @ 9:20/mile pace.
Very hilly.
Lower 70s, sunny, humid.
Shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Speaking of steep uphills, another WS entrant has posted video of the entire grueling climb up Devil's Thumb (46.1 miles into the course). It's in five parts, and I posted part three below. While it may not initially look steep, keep in mind that the camera is mostly parallel to the slope of the ground, making it seem flatter than it normally is. It climbs 1565' in 1.7 miles and most do it during the hottest parts of the day.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Arsenal for Western States

Race is five days away and I'm pretty much crapping my pants. It's a good kind of crapping my pants though. Just a lot of excitement laced with nervousness.

I was musing during my morning run how this is so much different than when I ran the Vermont 100 last year. It was my first 100 miler back then, and while I couldn't have been happier with how it all went, I was doing it after coming off an injury and losing a lot of training, so the expectations were very low.

Not this time. No sir. I'm well trained (for me), know what I'm doing just a little more, and quite a few people will be following my progress online. Yeah, there's pressure. But pressure is good. Makes it all the more exciting. Exciting is the opposite of boring. Boring bad. Excitement good.

All of my gear is organized and I'm pleased with the arsenal I've assembled. As of now, I'm planning on having three drop bags (might add a fourth). The race officials changed the rules this year in that drop bags can't really be any bigger than a shoe box. Mine were never going to be that big anyway, so no big whoop. All will have Clip2, Gu, and S! Caps.

They'll be at:

1) Last Chance (43.3) - this aid station is before a grueling climb up to Devil's Thumb. Good point to stock up.

2) Foresthill (62.0) - Crews also have access here and this where I pick up my pacer, Stephen. I only want one here really for my headlamp, just in case there's an alien invasion and the Slitheen hold up my crew from getting there. You see, it's important to take these things into consideration.

3) Rucky Chucky Far (78.1) - A pair of socks will be in this bag, since it's right after the river crossing. Some extra batteries as well.

In addition to the drop stations and Foresthill, there will be three other additional points (miles 29.7, 55.7, 93.5) where crews have access, excluding the start and finish. And of course, a whole host of other manned aid stations, so I should be well covered. Just ready to get my butt on the plane on Wednesday and get over there!

As for today, the morning run went well. Very muddy with the huge thunderstorms we had yesterday afternoon, so it made it all the more fun. With the short distances I've been running in the taper, the legs were raring to go. Pace was fast, given the technicality of the trails and the mud.

Ran 3.5 miles @ 8:24/mile pace.
Very hilly.
Upper 60s, extremely humid (humidity 95%).
Shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Running With the Gray Fox

Ran a little over 4 1/2 miles on the trails across the street. The deer flies were once again brutal along the mile long dirt road section. Like yesterday, not as bad on the shade covered trails.

A very special treat when I was about a half a mile from home. I rounded a turn and saw what I first thought was a coyote running about 50 feet in front of me in the same direction. It hadn't seen me yet, so I kept running, making a point to be quiet and try to catch up to it a little more. I then noticed it had a big, bushy tail and got a better look at the color of it's hide, which was gray with red highlights. Yup, gray fox! About 10 seconds later it must have heard me, turned around to get a peek and then darted off to the side and into the woods. Cool.

Today I'll organize my drop bags for Western States. I already have a good idea of what will be in each one. All will have some Clip2 drink mix, S! Cap electrolyte pills and Gu. I'll go ahead and put my headlamp in the ForestHill drop bag, where I pick up my pacer, Stephen, at mile 62. A pair of socks will also in the drop bag at Rucky Chucky so I can change if needed after the river crossing.

Ran 4.7 miles @ 8:41/mile pace.
Trails, dirt roads.
Very hilly.
Lower 70s, sunny, humid.
Shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Congrats Mt. Washington Runners

I had the privilege of helping out Stephen and some of his friends at the Mt. Washington Road Race today. I ran this race the past two years, and while I'd love to have participated again this year it was nice to watch from the sidelines. Also nice to run into Ryan and Danielle there.

I played the role of chauffeur and drove them down off the mountain after they finished. Driving on that road is scary as hell.

Check out Stephen's blog and Ryan's blog in the near future for race reports. Great job guys!

Also, Ian volunteered at the race, but ran up and down Mt. Washington before the race (on the trails), and then did it all over AGAIN after his duties were over. Keep an eye on his blog for a report soon.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Lord of the Flies

Ran eight miles in the woods out back, pretty much the same route I did last Monday. Saw the same red shouldered hawk that I saw yesterday in the same area. No deer though.

Deer flies were particularly bad today, especially in the paths that were more open. Seems like I could lose them better in the winding trails in the thicker areas of forest. But on the fire road and more open trails, they were pretty vicious. And unfortunately, I've yet to find any bug spray or anything else that effectively thwarts these little bastards. Just have to live them for the next few months.

Deer flies aside, it was a pretty good run. I felt pretty sluggish for the first 3 1/2 miles. At that point, I had reached the lake and decided to climb out on a fallen tree that goes over a shallow part of the water. I sat there for about five minutes, enjoying the scenery and listening to the green frogs calling, which is sporadic and sounds a bit like a banjo string being plucked. After I got going again, I felt great and was on cruise control.

Worth noting I fell twice during the run. Once pretty hard, but zero injuries from either. I gotta be a little more careful being this close to the big show.

Ran 8.0 miles @ 8:44/mile pace.
Trails, fire roads.
Very hilly.
Upper 60s, partly cloudy, very humid.
Shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Hawks and Pre-Western States Thoughts

My mid-morning trail run yielded some pretty impressive wildlife sightings. I was jealous last week when Stephen, Ian and Chuck went for a long run and got a good look at a hawk and heard it screeching. Today I got my turn, as I ran into an area of the woods that had been clear-cutted a few months ago, and got a very good look at a red-shouldered hawk as it took off and perched on a tree on the edge of the clearing. As it did so, it screeched a few times. Really cool to see and hear.

I also saw a deer. Wish I would have kept count of how many I've seen in the past month. It'd be at least a few dozen.

Run itself went quite well. The effects of the taper are being felt in that my speed on the trails is increasing without me realizing it until after I look at the data from the Garmin. Was pretty surprised at today's pace given the technicality of the trails and slowing down to see the hawk and not hitting the stop button.

Ran 5.3 miles @ 8:47/mile pace.
Trails, some fire roads.
Very hilly.
Upper 60s, partly cloudy.
Shorts, short sleeved shirt.

So, the taper is obviously going well. I am feeling very ready for Western States. In fact, it consumes every period of free thinking I have. The biggest source of "stress" is that if I'm having a good day, I think I have a decent chance at breaking 24 hours. There are times when I'm sure I can do it, and times where I doubt I'll be able to.

I'll list a few of the reasons below to document what's going on inside my head. I hope the "Why I think I can" doesn't sound boastful. It's seriously not my intention. I'm merely just jotting down the analytical process of my approach to the situation.

Why I think I can break 24 hours:
1) I typically finish in the top 25% in ultras. This would put me under 24 hours based on previous results, even during years when the weather was bad. Even with a field that is more stacked at Western States, the math still says I can do it even when taking that into account.
2) I ran the Vermont 100 last year in 22:09:55 three months after knee surgery and missing a lot of training. While the WS course is obviously harder, I'm much better conditioned now compared to then.
3) I'm better conditioned because I've had a pretty decent training period for the past half year, with several great long runs where I've felt strong. I've also focused on my downhill running and have improved my strength and technique, which should bode well for the 23,000 feet of elevation loss.

Why I think I might not be able to break 24 hours:
1) I know of several other runners who have run the VT100 faster than I, but still failed to break 24 hours at WS.
2) If you follow the equation that basically states that Western States is 16% harder than the Vermont 100, my finishing time at Western States would be around 25 1/2 hours. This is consistent with the times mentioned of the runners I've analyzed in the above point.

I can counter the two "why I think I might not be able to" points with that a lot of those runners ran the VT100 when it was a few miles shorter (they made it a true 100 miles last year, apparently after finding out it was two-point-something miles under the mark). And it also doesn't take into account that I didn't go into the VT100 as well trained as I could have been because of the injury.

So, this is obviously a lot of back and forth going on inside me noggin. You know what though? It really doesn't matter much. The only real control I have over the situation is running my best and doing it smart. That means staying hydrated, eating right, keeping the pace steady and keep moving forward. Above all else, I do realize this. So I'm looking forward to getting out there and giving it my best. That's all I can really do.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Summer Vacation

The last day of school was today, so I'm off for the next two and a half months. This school year was a great one and I had a lot of really terrific students. But time to enjoy some time off. Came home today, took a nap, went running. Yessir, life is good.

Run itself went well. Just a short jaunt on the powerline loop near my house. First run in what seems like a while where I haven't seen deer.

Western States preps continue. It's amazing the mind games I'm playing with myself as the result of nervousness/anxiousness. I'll elaborate more on everything in the next few days. It's all good though.

Happy running!

Ran 4.7 miles @ 8:57/mile pace.
Trails, dirt roads.
Very hilly.
Upper 60s, partly cloudy.
Shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Eight Out Back

Nice run this evening in relatively cool but very humid conditions. Was ungrogging from a nap for the first mile or so, but still felt strong throughout. I hit the trails behind my house, running a lollipop loop out to the lake and back, and then adding another small loop that goes through a swamp.

This latter section is now tricky, since a snowmobile bridge going over a brook is in very bad shape and is resting on top of the water. When you walk across it (I dare not run on it), it sinks into the water and looks like it could break apart at any moment. It was right before this section that I also saw a deer. I have been seeing a lot of them lately.

Western States logistical preparations continue. Like Damon said in a recent blog post, I share a chief concern with him about flying over and something going awry with that. Having two connections on the way over just makes me nervous. But I'm flying out the Wednesday before the race, which should give me plenty of time... but still.

Ran 8.1 miles @ 8:40/mile pace.
Trails, fire roads.
Very hilly.
Lower 60s, overcast, humid.
Shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Sun, Coffee and Bambi

Today's run could be the last run in sunny weather for several days. The forecast is calling for a 30% to 70% chance of rain every day for the next week. But being that this is New England, the forecast can and will most likely change.

I hope the rain does fall though. It would beat down the pollen that is driving my sinuses a bit nuts. It had me feeling sluggish today, but there were also other contributing factors. I made a large cheese omelet for breakfast, which doesn't exactly give me much energy. A combination of fruit and grains usually works best for me, but I was out.

I've also begun slowly weening myself down off coffee. Down from three extra large mugs to three small mugs, which is about a 2/3 reduction in volume. Today started a new step down. I don't want to have to be a coffee whore during Western States, and also want the maximum effects of caffeine to be felt.

But overall, the run still went pretty well. The highlight was as I was cresting a hill, not even three feet in front of me was a fawn that could only have been a few weeks old. Of course, it startled the crap out of me, and I let out a yell that for some reason sounded like Hank Hill, sending the poor little baby deer running into the woods. No sign of mama around.

Ran 11.0 miles @ 9:02/mile pace.
Very hilly.
Upper 60s to lower 70s, sunny.
Shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Stocking Up

I got a new pair of Asics Trail Attack 4 WRs today from the Maine Running Company. My "old" pair is still going strong, but I wanted to have two pairs for Western States. They're a pretty flexible shoe and break in pretty quick, and I started that process today by doing two laps around the Back Cove in Portland. These shoes fit me perfectly and for me, they're simply the best trail shoe out there.

Also, before I headed over to Portland I stopped home after work and a package from Succeed! was waiting for me. My order for a new bottle of S! Caps and Clip-2 had come in. Sweet. Good to go.

Also at work, I was able to laminate my pace charts. Damon over in Vermont is also entered into Western States. He created an in depth pace chart and kindly emailed me the spreadsheet. I printed them out at the school and one of the graphics students laminated a few copies for me, my pacer Stephen, and my crew. Thanks Damon and helpful student!

And since I'm plugging companies and other runners away like mad in this post, I'll go ahead and mention that the 6-mile Bradbury Scuffle is this weekend, directed by none other than the famous Ian, our fearless Trail Monster leader. I'll be volunteering and look forward to it. Meant to post about the race earlier, but if you can't make it this weekend, click on the below button for some other Bradbury trail races that will be happening this summer!

As for my run today, it went well. The Back Cove only has one small hill and the trails are well groomed, so it's pretty fast. The new shoes already felt great, and if they're like my other pair, just a couple more runs and they'll feel perfect. Afterwards, met up with Heather and we got some healthy burritos from Herb Gully's and watched the boats from the Eastern Promenade as we chowed down.

Ran 7.1 miles @ 7:40/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - N/A (actually forgot the Garmin, timed myself with the Timex and the trail has mile markers)
Slightly hilly.
Mid 70s, sunny.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Attack Thwarted

With a day off from running yesterday combined with decreased mileage during the taper, legs felt very fresh today. But yesterday wasn't a total day off, as I went kayaking in Casco Bay with Heather. We encountered several harbor seals at one point, and two followed us for a while.

It didn't occur me until later that this was likely an attack attempt ordered by Andrew in retaliation for me trying to convince the Puffin Army to attack him during his early morning runs. However, my plan was thwarted after I foolishly and accidentally tipped Andrew off. Worth noting that the Puffin Army has made it clear that they see me as an incompetent fool, and told me to take any future mercenary offers I might have elsewhere.

As for the run, it went well. Explored a new-to-me trail in the woods behind my house that ended up being a nice loop just a few clicks under four miles.

Ran 3.8 miles @ 9:14/mile pace.
Trails, fire roads.
Very hilly.
Mid 70s, sunny.
Shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

¡Hace Calor!

Had a great run in the heat today. Temps were in the lower 90s and the humidity around 65%. I really wanted to take advantage of this heat wave since the canyons at Western States can get up in the triple digits. While these shorter runs in the heat during my taper period will not have much of an impact, it does feel good to get out there and build a little confidence.

I like to think I'm at somewhat of an advantage since I grew up in Florida and playing outside in conditions like this and worse were normal and we never thought twice about it. Obviously a different ballgame altogether during a 100-miler, and I'd be a moron to think otherwise. But still, there is good reason to hope, and today's little trail run felt really good. Sure it was hot, but I was rather enjoying myself out there.

Ran 5.5 miles @ 9:03/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - N/A (once again didn't feel like wearing the strap)
Trails, dirt roads.
Very hilly.
Lower 90s, humid, sunny.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Mo' Heat

I was hoping it'd be hotter today to get in some more running in the heat, but perhaps today was a good warm-up of sorts for the 90+ temps we're supposed to get again tomorrow. Today, just the lower-mid 80s depending on which thermometer you want to believe. Humid also. Not soupy, but the air was still far from dry.

Run went well. Hit the railroad beds near the school, which provide gradual hills and wide, relatively smooth trails. I felt really sluggish the first mile, but after that, a complete turn around and I felt great for the rest of the run.

Ran 7.1 miles @ 8:38/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - N/A (didn't feel like wearing strap)
Moderately hilly.
Lower-mid 80s, sunny, humid.
Shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Recovery and Heat

I woke up feeling pretty sore from last night, more so than expected. Still, nothing horrendous. Was anxious to get out today and take advantage of running in the heat. It can get into the triple digits in the canyons on the Western States course, so I want to be ready.

Because I was (am) sore, I played things by ear. Plan was to do the full 4.7 mile trail loop from my house and do it very, very slow. No need in trying to be a hero during a taper. I also wasn't going to hesitate cutting it short if needed. Fortunately, not the case. Felt better as the run went on and the muscles loosened up.

Big difference in temperatures between last night and this afternoon. Last night, with temps in the lower 50s throughout the run, we were shivering a little before and afterwards. Today, in the mid-80s and humid. A differential of more than 30 degrees!

Will probably rest tomorrow, as it's a busy day and I could probably use the day off. Heat is supposed to be around still on Monday, so looking forward to another run then.

Ran 4.7 miles @ 10:07/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - N/A (didn't feel like wearing strap)
Trails, dirt roads.
Very hilly.
Mid 80s, sunny, humid.

Long Run at Night

Tonight's run was my final long run before Western States and I'll begin tapering down now. The hay is in the barn!!! (I love saying that)

I joined Ian, Emma, Stephen, Erik, Jim, Shauna, Blaine, Allen and Phil at 8pm at Pineland Farms to get in some night running on the trails. Workout went great. I am really pumped especially for Ian and Erik as they're running their first 100-miler at the Vermont 100 this July.

We ran a 7.6 mile loop once, followed by another loop between two and a half and three miles long that we repeated. At night, it doesn't seem repetitious, at least not to me, since all you can really see in front of you is the small circle of light from the headlamp.

Half the group stopped early, and much of the second half of the run Stephen and I ran together. I had just casually mentioned that I wanted to try Clip-2, and Stephen just so happened to have some and shared a bottle of it. This was great, as my stomach totally took it in well and I liked it. Now that I've tested it, I'll go ahead and order some and do a few more runs with it and probably use it at WS. Thanks again Stephen!

Stephen and I also chit-chatted about said race and made some further plans. I'm really lucky to have him as a pacer. No doubt he'll keep me going. He's going to rock the VT100 course again next month as well. Homeslice has some serious speed and endurance.

Around four hours later, we were done running, and I was satisfied with getting in just over 20 miles as planned. We then headed over to Denny's for some grub, and we're joined by the squirrel loving Mindy. Looking forward to having her back on the trails with us this summer once she recovers from her stress fracture.

Ran 20.3 miles @ 9:36/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 140/169 (data skewed due to stops after each loop for drinks and food).
Very hilly.
Lower 50s, cloudy.
Shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Thank You

Just wanted to say thank you for the nice blog comments, e-mails and phone calls I've gotten during the past few days. I really do appreciate it. I don't want to get all sappy, but Chris will be in my thoughts a lot when I run the Western States in three and a half weeks and I'm dedicating my run to him.

Thanks again.


Tuesday, June 03, 2008


Ran 15.4 miles @ 9:42/mile pace.
Extremely hilly.
Upper 70s, humid, overcast.
Shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Passing of a Friend

I received horrible news today that a good friend of mine, Chris Douglass, died in a head-on car crash over the weekend. Chris was so full of life and a total free spirit, which makes it come as a huge shock to me. In many ways he reminded me of Christopher McCandless, doing what his heart desired and not afraid to follow his dreams. His positive attitude and extremely outgoing and friendly personality made him hard to miss, and he touched the lives of many... including mine.

Chris was about to embark on an epic walk from Colorado to Maine. He was so excited about this trip, and we had been talking on the phone about it at least every other day for the past few weeks, often multiple times a day. When his walk was to be over and he returned to Maine, we made plans to run the Vermont 50 again together, a race we did together in 2006.

His girlfriend, Amy, was driving him to a campsite the day before Chris was to begin his trek, when a drugged up punk speeding in an SUV swerved over and hit their car head-on. Chris was killed instantly. Amy is currently still unconscious and in critical condition as I type this.

Chris loved running, and just plain out loved to be alive and live life to the fullest. It's a big loss for all those who knew him, and a big loss for those he would have met if we were still alive.

More on Chris and his trek.

Local news article.

Another news article.

Chris and I. We were about to go flying with his Dad over the Vermont 50 course:

Pic I took of Chris in the plane:

Chris at our campsite when we ran the MDI Marathon in 2006:

Chris at the "Mile of Champions" tree along the MDI Marathon course:

Chris at Somes Sound:
Chris with some of the Trail Monster gang:
Chris running:

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Local Trail Run in Injinjis

Felt very lazy this morning, but finally managed to convince myself to get out for a trail run. Once out, the lethargy vanished and I had to convince myself to slow down. Yesterday's pace on trails that were pretty darn technical was a good, hard workout. I didn't want to repeat that today in the stage of training that I'm currently in (today's pace was faster, but the trails are also smoother). Hay is pretty much in the barn at this point, no need doing anything stupid.

I also had a chance to try out Injinji socks for the first time. It seems like everybody I run with has tried them but me. James' father sent me a pair as a thanks for pacing his son at Massanutten a few weeks ago, which wasn't necessary, but of course was appreciated and a very nice gesture. I really liked the socks. They're supposed to help prevent blisters, and given how comfortable they felt, I'll be using them at Western States later this month (holy crap, I can say "this month" now).

Ran 7.4 miles @ 9:16/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - N/A (didn't feel like wearing the strap)
Very hilly.
Upper 70s, partly cloudy turning mostly cloudy.
Shorts, short sleeved shirt.