Thursday, December 31, 2009

Resolutions?! Vee Don't Need No Steenking Resolutions!

Merriam-Webster's online dictionary defines resolution as follows:

1 : the act or process of resolving: as a : the act of analyzing a complex notion into simpler onesb : the act of answering : solving c : the act of determining

Let's face it. In the context of New Year's resolutions it's really defined as people making well intended goals that they often don't follow through on. Many times these involve drastic lifestyle changes with exercise and diet that are undertaken without a proper plan put into place and, as a result, most people often end up failing and are left feeling disappointed. It's a silly process, and all brought about by a calendar changing a few numbers. As a result,a healthier lifestyle often has a sense of failure attached to it for many folks and they give up, which is unfortunate.

I applaud the effort though, but just never got the point of waiting for a calendar to flip over to try something new and then rush into it. Enough ranting though. And with all that being said, it is hard not to look at the calendar year ahead and plan things out with running, and hope that things pan out the way you want them to.

These aren't really resolutions. These are goals related to something I'm already doing and I've had them for quite some time. Here are a few of mine for 2010, most of which are related to my race schedule:

January through March - Now that we have a good blanket of snow on the ground (it's coming down good as I type this), I plan to incorporate a lot more cross country skate skiing into my regiment, along with the running. I'm hoping this will bode well when I transition back to pretty much running exclusively (with some core work thrown in). I also hope to do a few XC skate ski races, even though I suck really bad.

March - April - Ramp up the running mileage and intensity as the snow melts, incorporate a lot of barefoot and VFF running as the weather becomes more conducive to do so.

May - Pineland Farms 50 Miler. I hope to do it wearing the Vibram's.

June - Pemi Loop mountain run, for fun and training. No real goal attached. Other training targeted for the Vermont 100.

July - Vermont 100, with the goal of breaking 22 hours (PR is 22:09).

August - recover properly from Vermont 100 and play things by ear.

September - Most likely the Vermont 50, though I haven't ruled out the Iroquois 100 if I'm feeling good. All contingent on Vermont 100 recovery.

October - Mt. Desert Island Marathon. Was bummed I couldn't run it last year after coming off the stress fracture, so it'll be great to run it again (for the fifth time). If I do the Vermont 50, I can't realistically expect a stellar time (races are three weeks apart).

November and December - keep the mileage low to recover and give the body a break until the snow starts flying and then pick up the intensity again with XC skate skiing.

So that's it. All subject and likely to change. It's a lot, but if I play things smarter I should be able to avoid major injuries and be fine. Bring it on and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Morning Run at the Back Cove

Sunrise at the Back Cove.

I met up with a pretty sizable group this morning consisting of Jim, Ian, Shauna, and a few other folks for a couple of laps around the Back Cove in Portland. Pace was relaxed and easy and we enjoyed a pretty sunrise while we ran. We went out to breakfast afterwards at the Miss Portland Diner. Good run and a good time!

This was my last run for 2009. Goals for next year? Just avoid major injuries, and even minimize the minor ones. I have my race schedule mapped out and some goals attached to that, which I'll post later today or tomorrow.

Happy Running!

Ran 7.3 miles @ 8:20/mile pace.
Firm trails with some icy patches.
Slightly hilly.
Upper teens, partly cloudy.
Asics Trail Attack 4, long pants, fleece jacket, short sleeved shirt, long sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sunny Ten

Even with temps in the teens, a sunny, cloudless sky gave the illusion of warmth and beckoned me outside. Got in a nice 10 miler on the roads. It did take about five miles for the muscles to warm up, however. Patches of ice made it a bit slow at times, but not a big problem.

Ran 10.0 miles @ 8:01/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - N/A (got to remember to get a new battery for the strap next time I'm out)
Paved roads, patches of ice and snow.
Moderately hilly.
Mid teens to 20 degrees, sunny.
Asics GT-2140, long pants, fleece jacket, short sleeved shirt, long sleeved shirt, gloves, beanie.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Morning Five

Got in five miles with my brother this morning from our mum's house. Flying back home tomorrow, which will be a rest day. Wanted to run in the Vibrams, but the soleus muscles were sore (as expected) from yesterday's run in them, so I went with the road shoes. Still, they weren't as sore as I thought they'd be.

Ran 5.0 miles @ 8:55/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Lower 40s, partly cloudy.
Asics GT-2140, shorts, windbreaker (shed after four miles), short sleeved shirt.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

San Felasco Hammock

Good trail run today in the Vibram Five Fingers. Hit the trails at the San Felasco Hammock. Brought along a video camera I got for Christmas to test it out. It's great! Small enough to easily bring on runs (as long as not too much water is present).

Here's a little video I edited with the footage:

Ran 11.4 miles @ 8:49/mile pace.
Well maintained trails dotted with occasional tree roots.
Slightly hilly.
Upper 40s, overcast, period of light rain at the beginning.
VFF Sprints, shorts, long sleeved shirt.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

10K Jaunt Around Hogtown

Ran 6.2 miles from my Mum's house on the outskirts of Gainesville. This part of town is actually pretty hilly, something not normally associated with Florida.

I really wanted to run again in the Vibram's, but my calves felt a little tight from yesterday's run in them. Opted to run in road shoes today so I can do a trail run in the Vibram's tomorrow.

Felt a little sluggish, especially at first, due to eating a slice of thick crust pizza from Leonardo's about an hour before the run. Other than that, still a good run.

Ran 6.2 miles @ 7:42/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Moderately hilly.
Lower 50s, mostly cloudy, muggy.
Asics GT-2140, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!!! I'm down in Florida having a great Christmas with family. My father got me a pair of Vibram Five Finger Sprints. I tested them out when headed to the University of Florida campus and got in a couple of laps around Lake Alice today. They fit great!

It was only my second time running in Vibrams ever and the first time I ran with them on pavement, so I was happy to keep the pace and mileage low. Went well!

Ran 5.0 miles @ 9:01/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Mostly flat.
Upper 60s, mostly cloudy, muggy.
VFF Sprints, shorts.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Didn't really feel too motivated to run today, so instead of bailing I just did a short run at an easy pace. That's always a smarter way to go, as something is better than nothing.

Ran 3.5 miles @ 7:56/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 20s, windy, sunny.
Asics GT-2140, long pants, refl. vest, fleece jacket, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Monday, December 21, 2009

On This Darkest Day

The sun was obscured by a thick blanket of clouds on what is already the shortest day of the year, making for a somewhat dark setting for a run on an already cold and blustery afternoon. There is often a Zen-like quality to days like this for reasons that are hard to put into words. Perhaps this was also aided by my Garmin's battery being drained, and I ran without a true quantitative measure of my pace and I simply went by feel.

And the pace simply came with what felt comfortable, no doubt slow at first, but quickened as the run went along and the muscles warmed up. The hills are pretty big and rollercoaster-like on this route, making for a fun run that was challenging at times, especially when the wind was colliding head-on. Good run, and now it's time for the sun to start reclaiming the days from now until June.

Ran 7.5 miles @ ~7:50/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Mid to upper 20s, overcast, very windy.
Asics-GT-2140, long pants, reflective vest, fleece jacket, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

2009 Recap: A Craptastic Year of Running

The year is winding to a close, and thankfully it's ending on a good note with healthy, injury-free running, even if it's on a far from intense level. I'll take it for now and enjoy it. And for good reason, because overall 2009 sucked! At least it did until September, and I'm grateful for that turning point. Here's a recap:

January - I returned from a month hiatus because of significant plantar fasciitis issues (which began in August of 2008), only to find out I still had significant plantar fasciitis issues.

February - I started seeing Jamie Raymond for chiropractic and active release therapy work, and he ended up helping me get back on the path to getting over the PF issues. He was awesome and a major contributor to me eventually beating this thing, but healing doesn't happen overnight and the running still stunk. I did manage to get in one 20+ mile run, but limped through it and it was tougher than it should have been.

March - I managed to run a 50K fat ass, coming in DFL, but was just happy to do it. Foot held up okay.

April - Managed a 101 mile week which instilled confidence. PF continues but is at least manageable at this point, but still nagging.

May - Paced at Massanutten 100 (37 mile mountain run for me), and followed it a week later with the Pineland Farms 50-miler. Did the same the year before, and quietly noted to myself that both events seemed much tougher this year. Ugh. Not good.

June - Beginning of the month I began experiencing a nagging pain in the right ankle. Later that month, I DNF'd at the Western States 100 at mile 44 because of said ankle pain, and I also badly tore my left quadricep (likely a result of limping because of the ankle).

July - Ankle diagnosed as stress fracture, which is what I suspected. I was actually quite relieved.

August - Lifted some weights since I couldn't run, but mainly did a lot of fishing.

September - Started running again, experimenting with barefoot and minimal footwear running, which accelerated the healing of the PF. Stress fracture now a non-issue.

October - Gradually ramping up the mileage. By mid-month I declared the PF dead and fortunately it's stayed dead with no zombie reincarnations to speak of. Everything going great!

November - A pretty slack month of running, due to work and grad school being especially busy but also poor time management for training on my part. Ended the month with an informal 10k trail race which was big fun, and I did pretty well. Also got in a 20+ miler which went well.

December - More or less a repeat of November. Not a lot of mileage, but still running healthy and casually. But grad school is now over. For good. I'm graduating! Ah, more time for training coming up. Looking to get in another 20+ miler over Christmas break.

I've said it repeatedly, but I'm just happy to be running with zero injuries again. I think in part I've kept the mileage low the past few months to not risk anything and just enjoy it.

Thanks for reading. I'm surprised that people like to follow this blog. I'm happy some find it entertaining, but in truth, I do it for myself. It's just very useful documenting notes and stats for every run and race I do. But it is nice to know that some of you enjoy checking in every now and then, so thanks! I enjoy reading your blogs as well and find a lot of inspiration in them.

And for anyone who might be interested, I have my 2010 race schedule mapped out and will be posting it soon, as well as a training plan for the winter that involves a lot of cross training with XC skiing.

Happy Running! 2010 is going to be FANTASTIC! I can just sense it.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

No Country for Cold Men

Small turnout this morning, with just Jim, Erik and myself hitting the trails at Bradbury Mountain Hill. Too bad, as the cold wasn't that bad and it was a beautiful morning.

We started out on the side of the park that's across the street, but not a lot of it was broken in, so we decided to head back and hit the Boundary Trail, which we mused would be packed down (it's a popular trail).

The Goretex jacket started to seem a bit much, so I shed it when we passed the cars. I wondered if just a long sleeve shirt over a short sleeve shirt would be enough. Jim was running with about the same, but he's a bit crazy, so that had me concerned. However, it was fine. Bit chilly at first, but didn't think much of it after a mile.

The Boundary Trail was as expected, well packed down and relatively easy to run on. Lots of big patches of ice, but the screw shoes helped a lot. A picture is below. However, I think I need to add two to three more per shoe to get a little better traction. The 18 screws per shoe configuration I used the past few years made me feel like Spiderman and gripped superb, but I don't think I need quite that many though to get the desired results.

Ran 7.6 miles @ 10:45/mile pace.
Trails, coated with snow (mix of loose and packed) and lots of ice.
Very hilly.
7F degrees to start, 19F degrees at end, sunny.
Brooks Cascadia 3 (w/ screws), Goretex jacket (shed after 2.6 miles), long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Winter is Here

Coldest day of the year so far, and even still pretty darn cold by mid-winter standards. But I was dressed right for it so I was pretty comfortable. Felt great to get out there!

Ran 6.0 miles @ 7:55/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
12F/-11C, windchill of -5F/-21C. Partly cloudy, windy.
Asics GT-2140, Goretex jacket, long sleeved shirt, reflective vest, long pants, balaclava, beanie, gloves.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Crazy Nazi Helmet Guy

You'd think the woods would be safer to run in after deer hunting season is over. Other types of hunting are still legal this time of year (all small game), but the woods should be safe for running as the odds of being mistaken for a snowshoe hare or coyote are pretty acceptable and the number of hunters out are small in number. However...

When running in the woods with daylight creeping away, and you come across a guy wearing a German World War II helmet with a big Nazi "SS" logo on it, clothing that looked like it was from the same era, and a bolt action rifle strapped over his shoulder, it makes you think twice.

The dude was walking in the opposite direction and I was puzzled, not noticing the details of his attire too much at first. And as I slowed I asked, "Hey, isn't deer season over?" (the rifle he was carrying looked pretty heavy duty).

"Yeah, I'm hunting coyotes," he answered non-chalantly and pretty slowly. I gathered the guy was a bit dim. "Got one yesterday. Also, there are rabbits, foxes, and bobcat. All sorts of stuff to hunt back here, the woods are full of them."

That's when I noticed the Nazi logo on the helmet and got a better look at the clothing. WTF?! Who goes hunting with a heavy German helmet and olive green clothing that looked like something an old school soldier would wear?! Had I not seen the guy's footprints, I might have thought it was a ghost from a German soldier who's U-Boat crashed off the coast of Maine in the 1940s.

It was pretty apparent that the cheese had definitely slid off this guy's cracker a little, so I just politely wished him luck and ran on. I ran out to the lake and then returned home the same way, keeping an eye out for the Crazy Nazi Helmet Guy. I could see his tracks in the snow, and fortunately he didn't turn on to the 1.5 mile long path that led back to my house. Whew.

Hopefully the guy won't stick around. He talked as if he's been hunting back there his whole life or something, but I've been running back there for years now and have covered a lot of ground and have never seen this dude before.

The run itself went well. Slow pace due to very loose and soft snow for half the run. Wanting to get home definitely helped me pick up the pace some though.

Ran 6.3 miles @ 9:52/mile pace.
Trails with very loose 8" snow for half, moderately packed the other half.
Very hilly.
Lower 40s to upper 30s, partly cloudy.
Brookes Cascadia 3, long pants, short sleeved shirt, beanie.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


My original plan for today consisted of more Nordic skate skiing, but I had to scrap those plans. Reason being, the snow on the athletic fields near my house was much deeper and crested with ice, making it virtually impossible to ski on. Way different than the athletic fields at Twin Brooks unfortunately, but so be it. I'll be getting a season pass at a XC ski area near my house soon. They should be opening soon, if they're not already.

So, plan B was in place to snowshoe with Neighbor Kate in the woods out back. She just got a new pair yesterday and was eager to try them out. It was a good time, we just went at a pretty leisurely pace and enjoyed the woods, seeing several deer beds and tracks. I love how quiet the woods are in the winter.

Snowshoed ~ 3.5 miles.
Trails with unbroken snow for roughly half the trek (8"-12").
Slightly hilly.
Upper 20s to mid 30s, partly cloudy turning to overcast.
Long pants, fleece jacket, long sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves (off and on).

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Nordic Ski + Run

Thanks to my buddy Ryan, I have a complete arsenal of cross country skate ski gear. Well, expect for the poles, but Ryan has custom fitted a pair for me and I'll be getting those soon. I'm new to the sport though, and my friend Jeff recommended that I actually ski without poles to get the technique down, so I set out this morning to do just that.

I headed to Twin Brooks, happy to see the trails were indeed groomed. I clicked into the skis, and was off... straight to the ground to kiss the snow. For the first half hour, it felt just like the only other time I had tried to skate ski. I floundered, flailed, flopped and fell repeatedly.

I was getting a bit frustrated and then something magical happened. On a small decline, I went off the trail and fell. I discovered that the snow off the trail was actually very packed and firm, and I kicked to the side and glided. Holy crap, I was moving forward and with ease! Everything just clicked. I was so pumped. The icy trails were screwing me up, and this was much more manageable.

So I stayed on the soccer fields, practicing my stride, enjoying moving along and being in control (at times). I had actually watched this video over and over again, and remembered the lessons on centering and using the arms. It really did help. I tackled a very minor hill several times, successfull staying in control on the downhill, turning while kicking with the extra speed and also moving on the uphill (just barely). I still fell several times, but a lot of the time I was in legit control and my motion felt smooth and efficient.

I then went back on the groomed trails. Even though they were really icy, I'd bet a skilled skier could still move on them. I could not, even after practicing on the fields. So, I still have a lot of work to do. But I'm really stoked with the progress I made today.

And man, what a great workout. It wore me out pretty good. But on the way home, I decided to stop at the Back Cove and run a lap, but during the last mile especially, I could tell my muscles were worked out pretty good from the skiing.

Skate skied ~4km @ unknown pace (fell and forgot to restart watch several times, so no real idea of pace).
Icy trails, soccer fields coated with firm, packed snow.
Slightly hilly.
Lower-mid 20s, sunny, windy.
Long pants, windbreaker, long sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Back Cove run:
Ran 3.6 miles @ 7:41/mile pace.
Trails, well packed dirt.
Slightly hilly.
Mid to upper 20s, sunny, very windy.
Long pants, windbreaker, long sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Six in the Slush

A nice six miles after work today. Roads were a bit tricky, with patches of ice and slush left from yesterday's storm (around a foot of snow fell). But all in all, not too bad. Felt good out there today.

Ran 6.0 miles @ 7:40/mile pace.
Paved roads, patches of ice, snow and slush.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 30s, partly cloudy, windy.
Asics GT-2140, long pants, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves (shed after two miles).

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Existential Thoughts on Losing the Massanutten 100 Lottery

And so I sit at home with a cleared mind on a snowy day, with school canceled and my final paper emailed in to my grad school professor, feeling quite philosophical on running, ultras, and the like. Which brings me to yesterday's Massanutten 100 lottery. I love their unique system of getting in based on the stock market. It's fair. It's fun. But alas, the Dow simply didn't close in my favor yesterday and I did not get in.

Yet, strangely, I don't really care that much. Enough so that I'm contemplating not even bothering with the waiting list. Don't get me wrong, the race is top notch and I really would love to do it. I've paced there the past two years and the course is awesome. And, like all 100s that I know of and most other shorter ultras as well, the race management is top notch. They do a great job and it's a grand time for runners, pacers, crews, and volunteers. But, I would rather plan on the absolute, even if there's a good chance I would get off the waiting list. I still have some time to think about it, but as of right now I'm thinking of not trying to get in.

Laurel mentioned to me yesterday, and I'm paraphrasing here, that when it becomes a competition to get in a race, it can detract from the fun. I'm obviously experiencing that now. That, and it's hard not to think that there are great races nearby that are much less of a hassle to get in (i.e. no lotteries needed) like the Vermont 100 and the Iroquois 100. As of now, I'm thinking of doing those two. And it'll be really fun to do the local Pineland Farms 50-miler on fresh legs. I've done pretty well there the past two years, but have done so just a week after pacing at Massanutten, involving a 37-mile mountain run for me... and last year with some plantar fasciitis issues to boot. I'm curious to see how I'd do with a proper taper and legs that aren't sore.

This is all subject to change and nothing is carved in stone at this point. One of the things I've really enjoyed the past several months coming off the stress fracture is having my options open to me. I've been enjoying taking my time ever so slowly ramping up the mileage, not stressing too much when I have down periods in my training (like the past week and a half) because of work and grad school commitments. I'm pleasantly surprised at the speed I've gained back, running most of my shorter runs at faster paces with ease, and knowing it's now just a matter of working on the endurance. I'm really enjoying running for the sake of the love of running, and not worrying much about races looming on the horizon, because there are none. I'm also really thankful I'm running with zero injuries or nagging pains, something I haven't had in while. And I'm also treasuring spending a good chunk of my time running with my Trail Monster friends, who are the best group of running buddies one could possibly ask for.

So.. with so much to enjoy lately, why should I be disappointed? I have a feeling 2010 is going to be a great year!

Happy running.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Slow Five

I'm never too crazy about running on the roads in the town I teach in after it snows. The roads there aren't very pedestrian friendly to begin with, and the snow only complicates matters. So sometimes running shorter, safer comfort loops multiple times is a good compromise. Did just that today.

Took the pace really slow. Will likely continue that trend with all running this week, when I can run. It's a busy week with a big grad school paper to finish up before class on Wednesday, taking The Cheat to the vet for his annual check-up tomorrow, and having to be home for the heater repair guy (again) later this week. I want this week to end!

Ran 5.2 miles @ 8:28/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 30s, overcast.
Asics GT-2140, long pants, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves (shed after 1.5 miles).

Saturday, December 05, 2009


Ran with Stephen and Jim Gott at Pineland today, as we wanted to get in a last run there before it's open to skiing (snow starts flying tonight and more expected next week).

Unfortunately, I wasn't really feeling it today. Had intended on at least 15 miles but that just wasn't happening. So instead of trying to start a fire with wet logs, I cut it short. A bit disappointing as I've had plenty of rest days this week, but so be it. Light running the next few days along with healthier eating.

Ran 7.1 miles @ 9:08/mile pace.
Muddy trails.
Very hilly.
Mid 30s, overcast.
Brooks Cascadia 3, long pants, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Mt. Hope

Ridiculously unseasonably warm weather today (mid 60s), but I can take comfort in knowing that Old Man Winter will be back in town in a few days. With that in mind, I enjoyed what is hopefully the last hoorah of the warm weather we've experienced overall this past month. Hopefully things will rebound with lots of snow, as I'm itching to use my XC skate skis.

Anyway, ran up Mt. Hope today, which is really more of a glorified hill. Still, it's a buttkicker, with a ridiculously steep climb, followed by rolling hills, and a sharp downhill then pretty flat to the end.

First three miles heading to the base of the hill felt rather sluggish. I had really hoped that the rest of the run wouldn't be a slog, but after I reached the top, I felt warmed up and the rest of the run was rather pleasant. Didn't push the pace, but still ended up with a nice overall pace for this route. Nice to be sub-8, don't think I've ever done this route below that.

Ran 11.0 miles @ 7:57/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Extremely hilly.
Mid 60s, variable clouds.
Asics GT-2140, shorts, short sleeved shirt.