Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Comes to a Close

I woke up with leg muscles so sore and tight, it felt as if trolls had beaten them with clubs in vengeance for breaking one of their mysterious laws of which us humans know little about. However, the reality is they are just sore from the past two days of XC skiing. I think the result of this soreness was more from the first half of the first day where my technique was REALLY off and my legs worked much harder than they should have, or so I like to tell myself.

However, despite this, I mused my legs were sore from skiing, not running. They were sore in areas they normally aren't, so it was probably okay to still run if I took it easy. I had some bailout points along the route to cut it short if needed, but my theory that I would be okay because the muscles were being used differently proved to be more or less correct. Run went well, and kept the pace easy which helped loosen things up.

So with that, training and racing in 2010 is done. Aside from the stress fracture last spring, it was a pretty good year with plenty of successes, especially qualifying for Boston. The injury took a dent in my running totals, but all in all not bad:

2010 Totals
Running = 1522.7 miles
Nordic Skiing = 127.9 kilometers
Mountain Biking = 306.9 miles

Hopefully 2011 will be injury free and full of even more successes and big fun. Hope it's the same for anyone reading this as well.

Today's totals:
Ran 10.3 miles @ 8:05/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 137/148
Paved roads, a few patches of slush.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 40s, partly sunny.
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves (shed halfway).

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Winter Fun in Maine

I awoke this morning feeling the effects of yesterday's skate ski session. My gluts, hammies and quads were all pretty sore. It felt as if I ran a 15 miler hard and I began to question my plan of skiing again today and following it up with a trail run, but wanted to take advantage of the skiing before it thaws out with the upcoming wave of warmth and I still need to get my running in. So, I compromised and told myself I'd take it easy on both. 

I started out on the Joe Buzzell trail at Harris Farm and noticed the trails were much more packed down and firm. No doubt getting into the single digits last night helped with that some. Much faster than yesterday. I soon noticed I was skiing much more efficiently and moving faster with greater ease, which was awesome. Probably took half the amount of breaks as yesterday also. The trail conditions no doubt helped with that some, but I also think I kicked off a lot of rust yesterday. Despite sore legs, I felt comfortable and was moving great (for me). 

I had planned on maybe getting in five or six kilometers today but got in about the same as yesterday, which was close to ten, since I was feeling so comfortable out there. Was really, really happy with how I did today. Feels like I'm at the point I was towards the end of the season last year, which is good news as I have the whole season to build on. Hopefully, we'll get some more snow soon though. Looks like the trails could be unskiable by the weekend the way the weather forecast is looking. 

Skate skied 9.8 kilometers @ 11.0 kph/avg. 
AHR/MHR - 148/163
Trails, packed and moderately fast. 
Moderately hilly. 
Lower 20s to lower 30s, sunny. 
Long pants, windbreaker (shed halfway), long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves. 

I came home, ate lunch, and rested a bit before heading out on the snowmobile trails in the woods out back about an hour or so later. The snowmobiles had packed the trails down a good amount overall, but it was still pretty soft though it could have been much worse. Run went well. Kept the pace easy and just enjoyed being out in the woods.

Converted my Adidas Adizero XT trail shoes to screw shoes last night. Ran in these puppies today and they did great. Granted, it was more snowy and not a lot of ice which is where screw shoes really shine, but they did their job and performed nicely.

Ran 5.6 miles @ 9:47/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 142/159
Snowmobile trails, moderately soft snow pack.
Very hilly.
Upper 30s, sunny.
Adidas Adizero XT (screwed), long pants, windbreaker, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves (shed halfway).

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Nordic Time!!!

While I was in Florida, a blizzard hit back home in Maine. I began to drool as thoughts of skate skiing danced in my brain. That was multiplied when I saw the local Nordic center, Harris Farm, got enough snow and was now open for skiing.

I got back yesterday in the late afternoon, so I hit Harris Farm this morning and purchased my season pass. I was giddy with excitement. I just picked up this sport last year and had a complete blast with it.

It's funny, because while I do relatively well at running, I suck at XC skiing. Case in point for purposes of comparison only: I finished 40th overall place at the MDI Marathon in October and was in the top 5%. At a Nordic race late in the season last year, I finished third from last and worked my butt off for it. Folks, this sport is tough. Raw athleticism will only carry one so far (maybe 10 feet) and technique is so crucial in this sport which is why I think it's so much fun. Combine great athleticism with great technique, and you have guys that can do this:

Flipping amazing. This sport is just awesome. It's challenging, gets your heart rate jacked and it's simply a blast.

Anyway, back to this morning. The trails were pretty good, considering it was only the first real snow of the season. Conditions were a bit soft because the trails aren't as packed down yet, and also it got a bit warm today. Still, it was great.

I was definitely a bit rusty, especially at first, which was to be expected. Biggest rust was felt when V2-ing up the hills. But overall I fared better than I thought I would. Glad the season is underway. Looks like it's going to continue to warm up going into the weekend, and we might even get some rain (WTF?!), but hopefully another blast of snow isn't too far off.

Skate skied 9.7 km @ 9.8 kph/avg.
AHR/MHR - 148/167* (took several breaks)
Trails, soft and a bit slow.
Very hilly.
Upper 20s to lower 30s, sunny.
Long pants, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Step Back

A combination of holiday foods, travel and perhaps the effects of ramping up the mileage the past few weeks led to a feeling of starting to crash. Took a rest day yesterday and just ran a very light Zone Two run this morning around the golf course near my Mum's house. Tomorrow will also be a rest day as I travel back home to Maine.

Stepping back is never easy. One wants to continue to push the mileage and the ego resists the logical choice of taking it easy for a few days to let the body rebound. Whenever I do though, I'm always rewarded for playing it smart.

Ran 5.0 miles @ 8:55/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 126/139
Paved roads, golf cart paths.
Slightly hilly.
Upper 20s to lower 30s, sunny.
Saucony Kinvara, long pants, windbreaker, long sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! Ran from my Dad's house to my Mum's house this afternoon. I felt like poop. Too many Christmas cookies and too much BBQ the past few days. Greatly altered diet and my heavy loads of fruits, veggies and whole grains have been absent and I'm paying the price. Oh well, tis the season.

Ran 7.0 miles @ 7:52/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 146/161
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Around 70 degrees, partly sunny, humid.
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, short sleeved shirt, handheld water bottle.

Friday, December 24, 2010

When Armadillos Attack

Went out to the San Felasco Hammock here in Gainesville with my brother for a trail run. Armadillos were everywhere. We saw one about every half mile.

About four miles in, I was pointing one out to my brother at one point when I heard a pretty loud "wump". I turned around to see my brother (a rather brawny fellow) bite the dust. A split second later, I heard the leaves move in the area of the armadillo, and as I turned in that direction, I saw the gray blur of the little bastard charging right at me. I suspect this was a result of stupidity and poor eyesight by the critter, not aggression. I danced out of the way and he slightly altered his path of trajectory and disappeared into the brush.

My brother had had enough at that point (it was his second time rolling an ankle and falling) and he opted to walk the mile and a half back while I ran on. I did the loop again, picking up the pace a bit since I was alone. Good run.

Ran 11.3 miles @ 8:46/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 133/158
Slightly hilly.
Around 60 degrees, sunny.
X-shoes, shorts, short sleeved shirt, hand-held water bottle.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Hometown Run

Back home for Christmas in Gainesville, FL. It's great to be home, but today's run was odd. Energy was good and legs felt fresh, but breathing rhythm was very off and as a result the heart rate was around 5 bpm higher than normal. I suspect four hours of driving and three and a half hours of flying along with a different diet and sleep deprivation had a lot to do with it.

Will get a good night's sleep tonight and back at'em tomorrow.

Ran 6.2 miles @ 7:33/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 151/164
Paved roads.
Moderately hilly
Upper to mid 50s, sunny.
Brooks Mach 11, shorts, long sleeved shirt.

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Running Around Aimlessly

Ran around the town I teach in with no concrete route or pace in mind. That was kind of fun. Pretty uneventful and felt pretty good. Almost didn't run today out of sheer laziness but I was glad I did, especially given things will be a bit haphazard with Christmas approaching.

Ran 7.8 miles @ 7:29/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 148/161
Paved roads.
Moderately hilly.
Around 40 degrees, partly sunny, windy.
Brooks Mach 11, tights, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Monday, December 20, 2010

My Review of the Garmin Forerunner 410

I've owned the Garmin Forerunner 410 for nearly a month now. As of this posting, I've run with it close to two dozen times and have gained a bit more insight since I last wrote an initial impressions review several weeks ago. I've been getting quite a few requests to do a more in depth review and I'm happy to share my thoughts, so here they are:

Running with Garmins - A Brief History
Several years ago I owned the uber-blocky Foreunner 201 that was a bit like running with a TV remote control strapped to your wrist. It was bulky and uncomfortable, but it was so nice knowing my distance and pace when out running... at least when it worked. Maintaining a satellite lock was often a problem with this model especially when trail running, but since not many other options were available at the time, most of us were forced to live with it.

Then the 205/305 series came out and I purchased the 305. Compared to the 201, it was much more ergonomic and also performed a bazillion times better. It acquired satellites no problem through heavy tree cover, which was a godsend for us trail runners.

I really liked the 305. It was more comfortable, accurate, easier to customize and easier to use than the 201. However, about 18 months in, mine kicked the bucket. Given the price I paid at the time, I was not happy. However, for a little less than $100, Garmin exchanged my broken one for a factory refurbished one and it performed well for another 18 months. At that point, it slowly started to fade, and finally, early this autumn it died. RIP little Garmin. I was happy with your service, but not your short life span.

Enter the 410
During my three and a half year stint with using the 305, Garmin released several other running GPS models, including the 405. It promised the same stellar GPS locking performance as the 305, but was smaller, sleeker and featured a nifty new bezel design that turned out to be not-so-nifty according to reports from many users. Apparently when the watch is wet with sweat and/or rain, or your fingertips are wet, the bezel reportedly doesn't work well, if at all, for many people. I thought that was a bummer since I liked the design. It actually looked like a watch as opposed to some ginormous science fiction gadget, which was appealing.

So, when word came out that Garmin was releasing the 410, essentially an upgraded version of the 405, I was intrigued. They apparently licked the bezel issue. There's also a few other differences, such as you can completely power down the 410 and apparently you couldn't with the 405, but apparently not too much else of great significance.

So with the timing of my 305 dying and the new release of the 410, I decided to give it a shot. Overall, I'm very happy with it, but I do have a few criticisms.

Performance and Displays
The 410 locks on to satellites quickly and with no problems and performs just as well as the 305 on that front. I've been in heavy tree and cloud cover quite a bit with it and haven't had any issues yet.

The displays are also nice. You can have three data fields at a time on the screen and they're easy to read while on the run. That's one less piece of data than the 205/305, but with the 410 there's the added benefit of the auto-scroll feature which alternates between screens with different data fields (more than 30 to choose from) and you can control how fast it does it (slow, medium, fast.. I've found the medium speed to be perfect).

You can have multiple data screens for the auto-scroll, but I've found that two is enough. I thought the auto-scroll might be annoying at first, but not the case. It's nice having all of that data displayed while I run and I find it very beneficial. On one, I have the running time, distance and lap pace (I also have it set to automatically take a lap each mile). On the other, I have it show a heart rate zone graph, current heart rate, and average heart rate. Given there are dozens of data fields, the possibilities of combinations are pretty darn numerous so most folks should be pretty satisfied.

The Bezel
While I don't mind the bezel that much, it does seem a bit gimmicky. In case you're not sure what the bezel is about, it's a touch sensitive outer ring that you either tap or scroll your finger around in a circular motion (think older school Apple iPod) for certain features.

However, I don't see what the problem is with just having buttons. Granted, there are two on the 410, which are used in conjunction with the bezel when setting up features and the buttons are also used for start/stop (top button) and lap/reset (bottom) when training, but the bezel is used for almost everything else. I've gotten a lot more used to it, but it's still a bit cumbersome and frustrating to use at times, but overall it's okay and I don't think much about it anymore.

I've never used a 405, so can't speak to the moisture issue with bezel sensitivity with that model, but I've run quite a few times with my 410 now in the rain or with sweaty hands and the bezel performance was fine. No problems at all with that.

Comfort and Fit, Battery Life
I never had issues of comfort with the 305, and I definitely don't with the 410 either. But a big bonus I like is that I can wear it with the GPS off and it serves as a wrist watch, allowing me to wear it at work rather than toss it in my gym bag. Because of it's smaller size, it actually looks a lot like a normal wrist watch and doesn't draw the curious inquiries from non-runners as much which is nice (unless you're "that guy" and maybe you want the extra attention).

Additionally, the 410 will automatically go into power save mode (aka GPS off) after several minutes of inactivity if the watch is stopped. You can turn that off if you want to, but I like to leave it on and it gives you warning when 30 seconds away from power save mode, which can easily be canceled by hitting the start/stop button.

Battery life? It's listed at eight hours with the GPS on (two weeks with it off) but apparently it's really around seven hours on a good day, according to other reports. That's fine by me, as during ultras or mountain runs I usually go by just a stopwatch anyway. Sure, it'd be nice to have the wicked long battery life of the 310XT, but it's something I can live without and seven hours is plenty for the bulk of my training and speedier races of marathon distance or shorter when I need to know mile split times. For ultras and mountain runs I don't.

Premium Heart Rate Strap
Ah, one of the bigger gripes here. Static electricity in clothing REALLY affects this thing big time and will totally screw up your data. Wetting down both sides of the strap liberally really helps though. Since I've been doing that I really haven't had any problems. But wetting it down especially in the colder, dryer weather every time does kind of suck. Never had that issue with the older style heart rate strap.

The strap is a bit more comfortable than the older style strap, but I never thought the older was really uncomfortable to begin with. If you feel the same, I'd just stick with the older style one to save money and some additional headache.

Post Run Data
The ANT stick is pretty nifty. It's a little smaller than most modern day thumb drives and plugs into the USB port of your MAC or PC (it's compatible with both). What this thing does is wirelessly transfer the data from the 410 to your computer, so no wires are used and you can leave the watch on your wrist. It's just a bit more convenient and works very well.

Once the data is transfered, you can upload it to Garmin Connect, RunningAhead, DailyMile, or whatever other online (or offline) training log you use. It works very easily and seamlessly.

Overall, a great running tool that is incredibly useful and I'm happy with it. Even if the bezel on the 410 is better in moisture than the 405, I still find it a bit quirky to use, but it's far from a deal breaker. It performs great and the smaller, sleeker design is also welcome. The customizability of features will allow users to cater the 410 to their liking and it's pretty easy to do so. If I were to give it a grade, it'd be a B+ or an A-.

- Relatively small size
- Great satellite locking
- Very good accuracy
- 30+ data fields
- Auto-scrolling between screens when running
- HR Zone graph as data field option
- Comfortable strap
- Comes with three different straps (rubber attached to watch, two additional velcro straps of different sizes).
- ANT wireless transfer

- Premium heart rate strap goes wonky with static electricity
- Bezel still a bit quirky, even if not affected by moisture
- Relatively short battery life (listed at 8 hours, in reality it's 7 on a good day according to others).

I hope that answers some questions and helps some of you in doing some research before buying. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask. I'll be happy to answer what I can.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

'Til We Meet in Hell

Good friend and fellow Trail Monster Running member Val put together an awesome race today entitled "'Til We Meet in Hell". The concept was a great one: Runners would run an extremely hilly 1.15 mile trail loop for 90 minutes and they try to see how far they could go. A handicap system was built in to level the field for all participants so everyone could have a chance at winning.

My plan was to take it easy and not race it, due to the tough 16-miler yesterday and a pretty tough 11-miler the day before that. Definitely the right call. One mile into it and I could tell my legs were dead from all of the hills the past two days. I was a bit more dead than I expected to be, truth be told, but that was fine and shouldn't be surprising.

I had a blast. Unfortunately, I spent much of the time running alone. Despite there being 24 of us running the loop, I was in an odd void where I didn't really encounter many people. However, Jeff came up and lapped me but decided to walk the rest of the time (a little over an hour into it at that point), so I walked with him for about half a loop.

I crossed the start point at around 1:21 and decided to just stop there and hang out and wait. I got in 6.5 miles which I was happy with. Mindy had called it a day earlier, so we chatted a bit until the other runners finished.

Worth noting that my good buddy Ryan and I had the same handicap. However, with fresh legs I don't think there would have been any way I would have caught him today. Not sure how many miles he got in, but the dude was flying and looked comfortable at it. I'm going to have my work cut out at the Bradbury series this summer trying to catch him.

Afterwards, we headed over to Sebago Brewing Company for drinks and lunch, as well as the award ceremony. Very fun day with very good friends!

Ran 6.5 miles @ 11:47/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 131/165
Extremely hilly.
Upper 20s to lower 30s, sunny.
Adidas Adizero XT, tights, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Ossipee Hill

Wanted to get in a good medium run on the local trails, and hadn't hit Ossipee Hill in a while so thought that would be a good route to go. Turned out to be a great choice. Had to do some bushwacking at times and negotiate some icy bogs which slowed things down here and there, but it was a fun adventure with some great rewards.

I meandered along the snowmobile and powerline trails until I got to Ossipee. I climbed my way to the top and accidentally took a turn on a new dirt road/jeep trail that went to a new cell phone tower. At first I thought they had knocked down the other radio towers and fire tower and replaced it with this bigger one, but then I realized my mistake. I backtracked down a few hundred feet and found the jeep trail up to the fire tower, which is at the true summit (listed as 1024' above sea level).

I climbed the fire tower and had incredible, clear views of the ocean as well as a snow-capped Mt. Washington and all of the Presidential mountains. It was amazing. Really wish I had brought my camera, but no such luck. I enjoyed the views for at least 10 minutes then decided to head back.

I decided to run on the dirt shoulder of a paved road for about a mile or so on the way back to the powerlines, which is part of my usual route. But I saw another trail going up a smaller powerline, and decided to take that one instead. I knew where this one would eventually lead, but had never run it before. I probably won't again, as the trail petered out and I had to do a fair amount of bushwacking.

Last three miles I was running on fumes. Had a very light dinner last night as well as a light breakfast this morning and I was starting to pay the price. The energy was starting to dip and I would have bonked had I had to go much longer. But made it home just fine and all in all it was a very good run.

Ran 16.3 miles @ 9:42/mile pace.
AHR/MHR 132/153
Rugged trails, jeep trails, dirt roads, dirt shoulders.
Extremely hilly.
Mid teens to upper 20s, sunny.
Adidas Adizero XT, long pants, windbreaker (removed two miles in), fleece pullover, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

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Friday, December 17, 2010

Trail Exploration

Feeling 100% better from yesterday, so was raring to go for a trail run from the school after work today. Decided to explore some side trails off the old railroad bed I often run on.

I took the first turnoff a couple of miles into the run, and meandered around on some snowmobile trails for a bit when I took a turn and suddenly encountered an older woman on a horse. I apologized to her if I had startled her or her horse, but apparently no harm done and we chatted for a bit. Turns out we knew some of the same people and I asked what the trails were like ahead. Apparently I was about to hit the top of the ridge and the trail dead ends on the street up there. Crap. Oh well, decided to hit the road and take it down a few tenths of a mile to rejoin the railroad bed so I did just that.

After getting back on the rail trail, I took it down and ventured off on to another side trail. This one was great. Went through some really neat sections of woods and I encountered several moose and deer tracks in one area, but no sightings of any of the beasts. The trail eventually looped back around and rejoined the railroad bed.

I took the railroad bed back down but decided to take another side trail just to see where it goes. It rejoined another road I was familiar with. Might make for a handy road/trail loop at times, but I turned around and backtracked back to the railroad bed and made my way back.

As I was getting close to the school, I spotted some of my students playing pond hockey and stopped to check out their game and chat with them a bit. Looks like fun, might have to give it a whirl sometime. Good run!

Ran 11.1 miles @ 8:30/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 139/162
Mostly trails, a few paved roads.
Very hilly.
Lower 30s to mid 20s, partly cloudy.
Adidas Adizero XT, long pants, fleece pullover, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Took today off as a precaution. It feels like my body is fighting something. I can hear the distant, muffled battle but can't quite make out the details. Figured it was better to not run today and go straight home from work and rest. I ate two cloves of minced garlic to help fight whatever it is I might have. Will just have to wait and see.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Chilly 800M Repeats

Winter has returned. A good half inch or so of snow dusted the grounds this morning but more significantly, the colder air has taken over once again (lower 20s and breezy during my workout). I didn't think the track would be clear today, but by the afternoon much of the snow had blown around and the track was bare. Nice. As a back-up, I had wheeled an 800M route around the school I teach at and plan to use that this winter since they clear the parking lots and not the track, but not an issue today.

I did my warm-up run and was feeling pretty good. Then I hit the track and nailed down 5 X 800 meter repeats with 400 meters of active recovery in between. This ended up giving me :30-:40 less recovery time between reps compared to when I did my active recovery by time (3:00) rather than distance, so the difficulty was a bit higher.

Went well though. Hit my splits in 2:58, 3:00, 3:02, 2:56 and 2:54. On that third one, I got mad at myself for being consecutively slower on each rep, so I cranked the next two out a little harder. Afterwards, enjoyed a pleasant cool down run.

Good reintroduction to interval work, as I haven't done it in a few months. Boston is just 123 days away now, so time to start ramping it up!

w/u - 1.6 miles @ 8:28/mile pace
5 X 800M repeats w/ 400M active recovery in between (3.6 miles). Splits: 2:58, 3:00, 3:02, 2:56, 2:54.
c/d - 1.6 miles @ 8:28/mile pace.

Lower 20s, overcast, breezy.
Brooks Mach 11, long pants, fleece jacket, long sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Shorts in Mid-December

While the mid-West is enjoying a true winter, us folks in Maine are in the midst of an Indian Summer which, in my humble opinion, flat out sucks. Upper 40s with a light rain this afternoon and I comfortably ran in shorts and the windbreaker pretty much seemed too warm. Yuck.

Things will cool back down to normal (actually, below normal) temps in a few days, however we won't be getting any substancial snow with it. Ugh. My Nordic skis are begging to get used.

Anyway, back to running. It went well today, I thought I'd just do six miles and hand the reins over to my body and let it dictate the pace based on how I was feeling. Turned out to be a marathon-paced run, which felt comfortable. Rest day tomorrow, anticipate a speed workout on Wednesday.

Ran 6.0 miles @ 7:21/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 149/163
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Upper 40s, overcast, light rain throughout.
Brooks Mach 11, shorts, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Casual Trail Run to End the Week

No real goal with today's run, other than beat the approaching storm (more rain today, NOT snow.. ugh) and get in the miles. I just enjoyed being out in the woods as usual, and will be able to run back there a bit more often now that deer hunting season has officially ended.

Stopped to sit on a fallen tree that goes out over a large pond about three miles back into the woods when a light sleet/freezing rain began to fall. It lasted through the rest of the run, but didn't really get me wet.

Finished the week with 53.8 miles. Not a bad total, and it's been going up each week for the past month and I'm feeling great. However, may opt to make next week a bit of a cut-back week for mileage but would also like to get in some quality speed work at the same time. During my training cycle for the Mt. Desert Island Marathon over the summer, having a cut-back week about every third week really helped pay dividends, so I'll likely continue with that trend for Boston.

Ran 7.7 miles @ 8:53/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 132/153
Trails and fire roads.
Very hilly.
Mid to upper 20s, overcast, light sleet/freezing rain.
Adidas Adizero XT, long pants, windbreaker, long sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Say, Wait a Minute...

I ran a route that I hadn't run in awhile, and thought it to be shorter than it actually was. So, instead of around 11.5 miles I got in an even 14 instead. I realized my mistake about halfway through the run.

Not a huge deal though, since I was keeping the pace slow anyway. A solid dusting of snow on several long stretches of the road shoulders helped to govern the pace.

I didn't feel too peppy the first few miles due to a bacon, eggs and toast breakfast but once the stomach settled down a little I was fine after that. Good run overall.

Ran 14.0 miles @ 8:09/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 137/147
Paved roads, stretches covered in dusting of snow.
Moderately hilly.
Mid 20s to mid 30s, partly sunny.
Saucony Kinvara, tights, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Easy Five

After the past couple of days, an easy/recovery day was in order so I let the heart rate dictate the pace with the goal of keeping the beats per minute in the lower 130s. Kind of tough running that slow, but mission accomplished. Pretty uneventful run.

Ran 5.0 miles @ 8:43/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 131/140
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 20s, mostly cloudy.
Brooks Mach 11, long tights, windbreaker, long sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Long Shadows

Winter solstice is right around the corner, and with that the sun doesn't really get very high up in the sky this time of year. The long shadows of the afternoon slowly diminished as the sun disappeared behind the tree tops while I ran. I was thankful to be wearing my reflective vest for added safety and the pace picked up a bit in the second half which had the added benefit of thwarting off the chill of the dropping temperatures.

I've only just cracked into double digit mileage a few times since the Stone Cat Marathon last month, so I would have been happy with around 8:00/mile. I was feeling pretty good, however, so I let loose a little more.

Pretty chilly out here. I was dressed okay but the $3.00 gloves I bought at Marden's yesterday performed like $3.00 gloves. Fingers were a touch cold towards the end but not too bad.

Ran 15.0 miles @ 7:32/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 149/168* (data skewed.. very erratic HR readings first several miles.. AHR probably around 5 bpm less)
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Mid to lower 20s, sunny, breezy.
Saucony Kinvara, fleece jacket, short sleeved shirt, refl. vest, beanie, gloves.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Afternoon Seven

Feeling 100% better after having a bit of a bug the other day. Thankfully it was just one of those 24-hour things. Another busy day at work today with another meeting after school, but thankfully it ended with enough daylight to complete a run before night fell.

Came up with a new route that covered roads I have run before but I connected them differently, just for the sake of something new. Rolling hills throughout, most of which aren't very big with the exception of the notorious Beaver Hill which is a steep and grueling climb that can get the heart rate jacked.

Fun run that ended up being around marathon pace. Pleased with the heart rate data... averaging 151 bpm is very good for me for this pace and this course. Pretty windy again, which made the cold temps seem colder but I was dressed just right.

Ran 7.1 miles @ 7:21/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 151/165
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Mid-20s, sunny, windy.
Saucony Kinvara, long pants, windbreaker, long sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

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Monday, December 06, 2010


Busy, whirlwind of a day that's drawing to a close. Speaking of whirlwinds... I managed to squeeze in a run right after work and before taking The Cheat to the vet. A cold wind was blowing from seemingly every direction and knocked me around like a prizefighter.

That wasn't so bad compared to the cold I've come down with. Felt it this morning when I woke up and while teaching went okay, when I ran after work it was apparent I'm definitely a bit sick with a head cold that is sapping my strength a touch.

I had planned on around 7:45/mile pace but based on how I was feeling I slowed it down, which was wise. What would have been wiser would have been just to nix today's run, but I know running tomorrow will be very difficult due to taking several students to visit some college campuses and it will be an extended day. Still, two rest days in a row would have been nice, and I may still do that by taking Wednesday off if I feel I need to.

Ran 5.0 miles @ 8:01/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 138/150
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Upper 20s, overcast, windy.
Brooks Mach 11, long pants, windbreaker, long sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

More Trail Exploration

Another morning of trail exploration, this time on some local trails near my house. I started off on some trails I'm familiar with, but veered on to another one which I suspected would connect to some other known trails and form a loop. That turned out to be the case.

About a mile and half into the run, I saw an owl (looked like a barred) getting chased around by two blue jays. I stopped and watched for a few minutes. Good entertainment from my perspective, but the blue jays looked pissed and the owl quite annoyed.

I then reached the new trail which was a lot of fun to run on. About a mile or so later, it connected to a trail I knew about, but in a different spot than I had expected. Cruised along and in the final mile I tripped and landed smack dab in the middle of a large mud puddle, and my pants and gloves were covered in earthy goo. Well, what's a trail run without getting a bit muddy, eh? Loop turned out a bit shorter than I thought it would, but still a good one. I'll definitely hit this one again.

Worth noting the heart rate monitor strap performed perfectly again today, as it has the past few days. Wetting down both sides of the stap with water pretty liberally seems to do the trick. Happy about that.

Ran 6.1 miles @ 9:27/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 133/148
Very hilly.
Lower 30s, overcast, intermittent light snow flurries.
X-Shoes, long pants, fleece pullover, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

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Saturday, December 04, 2010

An Adventurous Run Beyond Bradbury Mountain

Ian led Emma, Erik, David and I to explore some of the trails that will eventually connect Bradbury Mountain State Park with Pineland Farms.

This was a lot of fun, mainly because the terrain was really rugged. We were bushwacking at times and had to cross two rivers, the second of which was waist deep and pretty darn cold. And many of the trails we were on haven't seen much traffic. Throw in constant steep hills and you have a recipe for big fun.

Second river crossing, photo stolen from Ian. 

I must admit, I almost checked in my man card and didn't cross the second river. Wasn't so much the cold, but more that it looked sketchy. However, Ian and Eric made it look easy and when I saw Dave was going to do it, well... peer pressure. Turned out it was pretty safe, just flippin' freezing!

Had a lot of fun today. The more adventurous runs like this are always a blast. Big thanks to Ian for leading us on a fun day.

Climbing the hills on the powerline. Photo also stolen from Ian. 

Afterwards, we headed over to Stephen's to watch the Western States 100 lottery drawing. Stephen, Ian and James had their hats thrown in, but unfortunately, none of them got picked. Bit of a damper after a fun morning, but so be it.

Ran 8.9 miles @ 11:00/mile pace
AHR/MHR - 130/156
Rugged trails.
Extremely hilly.
Upper 20s to mid 30s, partly cloudy.
Adidas Adizero XT, long pants, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Friday, December 03, 2010

All Cylinders Firing

Today was one of those runs when everything is working right. You've had them before also, I'm sure. You just feel great and go with it and it feels effortless. Was really happy with this one.

Hit an extremely hilly route that is usually quite punishing. Kept the pace moderate tackling the two big hills in the first half of the run, and it came without much effort. The first hill is shorter and steeper, but the second one is more drawn out and just never seems to end.

However, today it all came easy. Was feeling great on the hills and then roughly matched my heart rate on the downhills by picking up the pace. And despite the pace and hills, I was pleased that the average heart rate was 152, officially making it a "moderate paced" run. I would have expected it higher. Speaking of heart rates, the strap performed perfectly today. No spikes whatsoever.

When I was finished I looked at the overall stats and my eyes widened a bit at the pace averaging 7:35/mile. I think the fastest I've ever done it before in this direction was 7:50-something a mile with more effort. Very good day. I'll buy that for a dollar!

Ran 10.7 miles @ 7:35/mile pace
AHR/MHR - 152/168
Paved roads.
Extremely hilly.
Upper 30s, overcast.
Saucony Kinvara, long pants, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie (off and on), gloves.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Heart Rate Training

I've been doing a lot of reading on heart rate zone training. I've run with heart rate monitors during several long stretches in the past, and found it valuable. It's nice to be able to quantify the amount of effort your body is putting out, as pace isn't always an accurate indicator of that depending on hills, terrain, and how one is feeling at the time.

In addition to my reading, a recent and very interesting podcast by Geeks in Running Shoes (episode 19) featured an interview with a couple of coaches from PRS-Fit who gave some extensive, in-depth information on the value of training in heart rate zones. On a side note, definitely check out this podcast if you haven't yet, all of their shows are very entertaining and informative. I'm really digging it.

So, it got me thinking more of using the HR monitor for recovery purposes. As an experiment, I let the HR dictate the pace today, with the goal of staying in the 130s to be in Heart Rate Zone 2, which is a recovery pace. I wetted the strap again and had a few, small spikes in the data in the first mile or so, but nothing too bad.

It went well. It was difficult to run that slow. Quite frankly, I'm surprised that my pace was as slow as it was for that heart rate. I didn't get much sleep last night, so maybe I can blame it on that? Perhaps it's because of yesterday's tempo run? I don't know. I have a lot to learn with this kind of stuff and I look forward to doing so. Would love to hear your thoughts on this or heart rate training in general, so if you have some food for thought, advice or whatever please leave a comment.

Ran 5.0 miles @ 8:51/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 134/157
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 40s, sunny, breezy.
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt.

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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Rabbit, Rabbit

I was going to kick off the new month by getting up a little earlier than usual to head out for a pre-dawn trail run. That never happened. I hit the snooze button a few times instead and then crawled out of bed when I usually do.

After making coffee and looking at the weather forecast, I was kicking myself a bit. There was no rain at the time and it was unusually warm out. Later today, I would have a meeting which would extend my day and make running a bit more complicated. It would also likely be raining. I thought to myself that I made a dumb move. And perhaps I did, but I decided to make the most of it.

I decided I'd do a tempo-paced run today in lieu of a moderate track workout tomorrow (will run easy tomorrow now instead). This would be easily accomplished by running a mile loop of paved paths and parking lots around my school. It's relatively traffic free making it a bit safer to run at night if need be. Plus, if the weather got too bad, I'd always be within a half a mile of my car.

So, work and the meeting were over and I changed and headed outside the school. It was already approaching sundown and the overcast skies and light rain made it even darker. Despite the long day and dreary weather, I oddly felt energized and anxious to go. I was off and hit my splits in 6:53, 6:51, 6:43, 6:46, 6:35 and while it was work, I felt great. Afterwards, rested for a couple of minutes and then ran a cooldown mile at an easy pace.

I also experimented with wetting the contact points and outer part of my heart rate strap more liberally in an effort to reduce spikes in the data. This helped tremendously (thanks Jeff). In fact, there were zero spikes in the charts, which I was very pleased to see. Something that might have also have helped was I only had on a tech shirt. With my other runs I also had on a windbreaker, and I wonder if the rubbing of the shirt and jacket may have helped create a static charge, especially early in the runs. Time will tell, but today it looked great.

Also, with a wet watch and wet finger tips from the rain, I played with the bezel on the Garmin 410 after the run. Worked fantastic. No issues at all getting it to function. I never owned a 405, but many have complained the bezel didn't work well (or at all) in wet conditions. Garmin added more contact points in the 410 to help fix the issue, and I thought today was a good initial test for that and it passed with flying colors.

Ran 5.0 miles @ 6:46/mile pace.
Ran 1.0 mile cool down @ 8:51/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 163/180 (doesn't include cooldown run)
Paved roads and paths.
Mostly flat.
Mid 40s, overcast, light rain, breezy.
Brooks Mach 11, shorts, short sleeved shirt, Moeben sleeves, cap.

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The drops in the pace about a quarter of the way through each mile were the result of having to slow down to take a very sharp turn to get through a gate during the loop. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Exploration and Wear Patterns

Was able to run here from the school in between two meetings this afternoon, which was nice. Decided to explore a new route, just for the sake of something new. Route was okay, but might be a bit problematic once the snow starts accumulating, given the narrow roads. But still might do this one from time to time when conditions allow. Nice hills on this route also.

Heart rate monitor was acting erratic again the first mile and change but then settled down and worked perfectly. Going to experiment with wetting the strap down more on both sides to cut down on static. Have read that the Polaris soft strap works much better and is compatible with the snap-button detachable main unit of the Garmin Premium strap, so if I continue to get aggravated I may go that route. Too bad Garmin hasn't gotten that right yet, especially given the prices they charge for their "Premium" strap. :-/ The Garmin 410 itself continues to perform very well though and I'm very happy with it.

Worth noting that now that I'm getting close to 100 miles running with the Brooks Mach 11 shoes, I've noticed a wear pattern on the bottoms that is pleasing to see. Right on the center forefoot, and no wear whatsoever on the heels. Pretty impossible to heel strike in these shoes, at least not without great discomofort.

Ran 6.8 miles @ 7:42/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 149/167
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Lower-mid 40s, overcast.
Brooks Mach 11, shorts, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Gamut Loop

Technical, hilly trails coated with a dusting of snow to flat, wide abandoned railroad beds to paved and dirt roads and everything in between. This loop has it all. I've mountain biked this route several times, but think I've only run it once or twice before. Fun loop.

Kept the pace very easy. I'm already far exceeding my original plan of keeping my mileage in the 15-20 mile week range until Christmas. Doubled it, in fact (39.3 miles for the week). I think the original plan is a bit overly cautious though, and would just lead to a longer ramp up time for the Boston Marathon training cycle. Doing 30-40 miles a week of mostly easy runs should still minimize injury potential while maintaining a better level of fitness.

Speaking of fitness, my heart rate data was very suspicious this morning. Check it out:

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There's no way my HR was that high the first two miles. I thought at first it might be a reaction to the cold while I was warming up, but I don't think so. I would have felt it. And note the spike just after mile four. I stopped for a second there and wetted the contacts, and that seemed to solve it. From then on out looks right on par.

In all fairness, the cool and very dry air probably had a lot to do with it. And I never sweated much during this run, so my skin remained dry. I'll experiment with being more adamant with keeping the contact points a bit wet so better contact is made.

Regardless, a very good run. Nice to enjoy the morning quiet of the woods and countryside.

Ran 8.6 miles @ 9:14/mile.
AHR/MHR - 138/170* - see above notes
Technical trails coated in dusting of snow, easy trails, dirt roads, paved roads.
Very hilly.
Mid 20s to lower 30s, sunny.
Adidas Adizero XT, long pants, fleece jacket, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Pineland Farms

Fun run today at Pineland Farms with the gang. Had I have known the trails were consistently coated with sleet and snow, I might have opted to wear my Adidas Adizero XTs if I had brought them. But the minimalistic shoes I'm testing out still performed just fine.

Was really nice to see Jeff running again, as he's bouncing back from a stress fracture. Homeboy played it very smart, stopping at just over three miles and walking back to the parking lot, per his plan for easing back into it. He'll be back in no time.

We did the longer side in it's entirety, and then Ian, Blaine and I hit the other side of the road to tack on a couple more miles to bring us into double digit mileage for the day. Good day. We all just kept the pace easy and enjoyed the trails.

Afterwards, coffee and treats at the visitor center before heading our separate ways home. Stopped at Trader Joe's on the way back, and I think I've now accumulated enough food from there to last me until Christmas.

Ran 10.3 miles @ 8:53/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 144/173
Trails, coated with sleet.
Very hilly.
Mid 20s to mid 30s, sunny.
X-shoes, long pants, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Bangor City Forest

Up in Bangor with Kate for Thanksgiving, and had a chance to head over to the Bangor City Forest this morning before the Thanksgiving feast gets under way. I pulled into a very full parking lot at around 8:15am, and walked over to a table where two people were standing around. They asked if I was there for the race. A race? I replied no, and asked when it started. Fifteen minutes ago was the reply. Oh well. I was actually glad, I wanted today to be at an easy pace, the race would have been too tempting.

However, they had trail maps for the race, and I glanced at one and figured out my route. Hit the West, East and Deer trails to get in a bit under six miles. Really neat trails here, with the added bonus of no hunting allowed. The trails I were on were very tame and well groomed, but several side trails offered plenty of technical single track, but I just stuck to the main ones.

Really fun little run. As I type this I'm starving, which is all part of my master plan. You see, I purposely skipped breakfast, did my run, and will be able to commit full acts of gluttony when we eat here in a few hours and watch the Patriots whip the Lions butts.

Ran 5.8 miles @ 8:23/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 135/154
Well groomed trails.
Slightly hilly.
Lower to mid 20s, sunny.
Adidas Adizero XT, long pants, windbreaker, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pie, Hills and Wind

The above picture is how I spent part of my morning. Time well spent, and time will be even better spent consuming this fine, homemade apple pie tomorrow for Thanksgiving. It's made by following a top-secret recipe I found on the internet.

Once that was out of the oven and set out to cool, I headed out for a run on a hilly, 10 mile loop from my house. The second run with the Garmin 410 went great. I experimented with the Auto-Scroll setting, which switches data screens every few seconds once the run starts. You can also pick the speed and I figured the medium setting would be a good start.

I wasn't sure if the Auto-Scroll would annoy me or not, but I actually found it useful and liked it. I have it switching between two screens: one shows the chronograph, lap pace (set at one mile), and distance. The other shows a HR zone graph, current HR, and average HR. That seemed to be just fine and dandy, so I think I'll leave this feature on for at least a while.

Run itself went great. Chilly and windy out, but given that I haven't seen the sun in several days, I found the brightness to be invigorating and got in a good run. The first few miles were a bit slow, but as I warmed up the pace quickened. Almost a true progression run, aided by having the wind at my back for the final few miles.

Ran 10.0 miles @ 7:44/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 151/164
HR Zone - 3.7
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Upper 30s, sunny, windy.
Saucony Kinvara, long pants, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

You can see a couple of spikes in the beginning of the above HR graph, but I suspect that's the result of me adjusting the strap while running. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Garmin Forerunner 410 - First Impressions

Came home to find the brown truck delivered my Garmin 410. Sweet! This is much needed. I'm a stats geek, especially with my running. So when my Garmin 305 kicked the bucket a few months ago, it was tough to go without it but I wanted to wait until the the 410 came out and see what the initial reviews had to say about it. They were favorable, so I went ahead and ordered it.

So, why the Garmin 410 and not the 310XT or even another 305? Well, while I loved the 305, my only real complaint was it's durability. The average life span seems to be about 18 months... maybe 24 months if you're lucky... with regular use. My first one lasted about 18 months and the second factory refurbished one started to slowly kick the bucket at around the same lifespan mark before finally dying a few months later.

And why not the 310XT? Well, the crazy long battery life (20+ hours, the 410 is listed at 8 hours, but in reality reports indicate around 7) of the 310XT is definitely a huge selling point and the people I've spoken to who own them are very happy with them. But, for ultras and long mountain runs, I've always been fine with going off a stopwatch and taking splits on laps or peaks when I already know the distance. Sure, that battery life to allow the GPS to run would be pretty neat to have while running the Pemi Loop, but I really don't care about tracking my mile splits when doing such things. I can just turn the GPS off and still use this one for those activities.

Also, the design of the 310XT just seems too much like the 305 in terms of build. Just makes me wonder if it's as fragile as the 305, but the jury is still out on that. It's obvious the circuitry has to be substantially different for the 410 given the smaller and sleeker design, so hopefully it's more durable as well. (speaking of smaller and sleeker, it's small enough to wear as a normal wrist watch and you can turn off the GPS, which saves the battery and puts it in watch mode, showing just time and date).

So, the 410 looks to provide everything I'll need with splits, distances, and all of the other quantitative data that I love having records of, including having a working heart rate monitor again. The new premium soft strap is really comfortable. I never had any problems with the old one, but this one definitely feels nice. No problems with HR spikes on this first run, an issue some people have reported.

Only thing that is taking some getting used to here in the early onset is the bezel. As I mentioned before, it apparently works much better in moisture than the 405, but it's just simply getting used to operating the bezel instead of buttons. I'm getting the hang of it though, and kind of like it.

The wireless ANT technology to upload data to the web was a really easy set-up and works great. Nice feature.

As for the run, it went great. I picked up the pace a little today and felt just fine doing so. Nice to drop the hammer a bit, first time hitting a tempo pace since the two marathons this month and last month. And, really nice to actually know my mile splits again during the run. Ahhhhh...

Ran 4.6 miles @ 6:58/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 162/179
Paved roads.
Mostly flat.
Lower 40s, overcast, foggy.
Brooks Mach 11, shorts, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, refl. vest, beanie (shed half way through).

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Rejuvenating Trail Run

After yesterday's craptastic run, today was most welcome. Hit the trails behind my house and got in a very pleasant run. The morning calm combined with the chilly air provided an inviting ambience that was really enjoyable. Good mix of technical trails and fire roads, but still kept the pace slow on the easier sections.

Really enjoying the shoes I'm testing out for a certain company. I think it's safe to say they are pretty similar to the New Balance Minimus trail shoes (but no, it's not them). I feel more comfortable with the protection they provide compared to the Vibram Five Fingers, but they still maintain a tremendous amount of flexibility and a low profile. Love the fit also. Great product.

Ran 7.7 miles @ 9:03/mile pace.
Trails and fire roads.
Very hilly.
Upper 20s to around 30, sunny.
X-shoes, long pants, windbreaker, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Wakefield Loop

Just wasn't feeling very peppy today and I'm surprised my pace was what it was. No biggie though, just one of those down days. No hunting on Sundays in Maine, so I think a trail run in the woods out back tomorrow will do me some good mentally.

Ran 4.6 miles @ 7:55/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Mostly flat.
Lower to mid 30s, mostly cloudy to sunny.
Brooks Mach 11, long pants, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Horse

Took the pace easy as I didn't really feel too motivated to run today. Did a hilly route from the school and after a long climb to the top of a ridge, I ran by one of the farms. A horse trotted over to the fence and ended up running beside me for a bit. That was pretty neat. Afterwards, I had more of a hey-it's-nice-to-be-out kind of feeling.

Colder air has also moved in, so it felt much more seasonable out there today, which I liked. Almost didn't pack my windbreaker this morning, but I was glad I did. 

Ran 7.1 miles @ 7:58/mile pace. 
Paved roads. 
Very hilly. 
Upper to mid 40s, sunny, windy. 
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, cap. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


My Garmin 305 died again after coming back to life briefly on Sunday. Easy come, easy go. Will upgrade very soon though.

Today's run went well. Calves were a little sore from running more miles than I had planned in minimalist shoes last Sunday, but nothing bad and I handled running in flats today just fine. Took the pace very easy at first but kicked it in on the last mile.

If I get in a run tomorrow, it'll be short. If not, no big deal. Still want to play things chilled out for the next month and change before I start training seriously for Boston after Christmas.

Ran 5.0 miles @ 7:39/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Lower 50s, overcast.
Brooks Mach 11, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


First off, big thanks to my friends Ryan and Danielle for hosting several of us at their place to go running on some nearby trails at the Cathance River Nature Preserve, followed by pancakes, bacon, coffee, and assorted other goodies. Very gracious of them to open their home to us and it was a real blast, and as always I really enjoyed their company as well as the other Trail Monsters. I'm so lucky to have such an awesome group of folks to run with on a regular basis!

That was a guaranteed good time, but what made it even sweeter was an unexpected event that occurred a few miles into the trails. Even though it no longer had even been looking for satellites, I had been using my Garmin Forerunner 305 as a stopwatch. This had been working out okay as along as I stuck to routes I knew the mileage of and could calculate my pace afterwards.

A few miles into the run, I looked down at it and noticed it had started taking mileage readings again! This occurred 2.4 miles into the run, based on looking at other folks Garmins. I'm guessing a loose connection somewhere had been somehow corrected and it's now reading the satellites again. Sweet. Don't know how long it'll last, but I still plan on picking up a Garmin 410 soon.

I also ran in the minimal shoes I'm testing for a certain company (I've been asked to keep things somewhat quiet since they're in the test phase). My longest run in them so far, and over some pretty technical and muddy terrain and I was really impressed with them. Good product.

Went longer than I had planned today (which was around five miles), but the pace was slow and several stops were made because we had a big group, which helps justify the mileage. Felt great overall, but tomorrow will be a rest day as scheduled.

Ran 8.3 miles @ 14:22/mile pace (includes several stops).
Technical trails.
Moderately hilly.
Mid to upper 40s, partly cloudy.
X-shoes, shorts, long sleeved shirt, cap.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Back From a Week Off

Felt really great to run again after taking the last week off to give the body some rest. No ill effects from the two recent marathons, just some general light rust and creakiness that is to be expected from not running for a full week.

Took the pace easy and just enjoyed the run. Unusually warm out today. Yeah, yeah, real nice and all but I want the snow to fly. My Rossignol's are itching to skate on some well groomed trails.

Ran 4.6 miles @ 8:03/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Mostly flat.
Upper 50s, sunny.
Brooks Mach 11, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Future Reflections

The decision to take this week off from running, though wise, is still driving me a bit nuts. I'm anxious to run again, and the challenge will be sticking to my plan of 15-20 mile weeks through December to give the body some rest to reduce the chance of injuries.

Then it'll be time to ramp up the training for Boston while squeezing in a good amount of Nordic skiing. That'll be fun, and I've also been trying to map out my race schedule for 2011. As of now, I'm thinking of the following for marathons and ultras:

4/18 - Boston Marathon
5/29 - Pineland Farms 25K or 50K
10/16 - Mt. Desert Island Marathon

I would love to do the 50K (or 50 miler for that matter) for Pineland, but the 25k option might make more sense. I'm weary about doing too much.

Also, I'd like to do several shorter distance races like I did last summer when preparing for MDI, such as the Bradbury Mt. Trail Running series. I really, really enjoyed that training cycle which allowed me to incorporate that series and a few other races into my regiment. I just had a blast with all of that last summer and it worked out really well, so why not do something similar again?

But looking closer to the present, the winter training cycle will be a bit more of a challenge. The tracks will be covered in snow, so I'll have to be a bit more creative. Also, I really fell in love with skate skiing last winter, and would like to continue to do that and even enter a few more Nordic races, but I also want to train for Boston pretty seriously. Boston training gets priority for sure, but still not sure exactly how I'll balance those two just yet, but at least they are complimentary to one another.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Stone Cat 50-Mile Marathon Report

The Stone Cat races feature a 50-mile race and also a marathon across some great trails down in Ipswich, MA. However, if you are running the 50, you have the option of dropping down to the marathon at mile 25 by letting them know and then you run a 1.2 mile loop.

I decided to take advantage of this today, and am really happy I did. I don't regret it one bit. In fact, the only thing I do regret is not just signing up for the marathon from the beginning. 

Why? Simple. I put enormous pressure on myself to qualify for Boston at the MDI Marathon 20 days ago. I came, I saw and I kicked ass. But for this race, I didn't feel any such pressure and had nothing to prove. I had no real goals and was not in my usual competitive mindset. I just wanted to have fun.  

And fun I had. I ran the first 12.5 mile loop with my buddy Chuck. We chatted through most of it and finished that leg in just under two hours. Not bad, given we were running under headlamps for a good chunk of it. Trails were pretty wet and slippery given the rain and fallen leaves, and a section of the trail that goes through a bog was underwater, so I wouldn't exactly call it fast conditions. Still, we finished the first loop in 1:57.

I noticed, however, that getting that first loop in under two hours was a touch harder than I had hoped. Then, about a mile into the second loop, I noticed my calves were starting to feel pretty tight, and the left one was threatening to cramp up. I began to think that maybe doing the drop down option was a logical choice, but would wait and see. 

I ran along and not much changed. I hemmed and hawed about going on for the 50-miler or just settling for the marathon. Inevitably though, I would come back to the notion that I had nothing to prove with this race and the goal was supposed to be to just have fun. Just didn't feel competitive at all. 

And let's face it, I'm pretty injury prone. A lot of that stems from trying to do too much. Sooooo.... What the hell am I doing trying to run 50 miles just 20 days after a marathon where I left nothing on the course? Yeah, totally cool with dropping down to the marathon. If I had continued with the 50, I don't think I'd be having much fun anymore, especially with no real goals in mind.

So, I wrapped it up with doing that 1.2 mile loop. In doing so, I saw my friend Danielle coming in just ahead of me. She did great! And, my good friend Neighbor Kate also completed her first marathon! She worked really hard for it and did great, despite being sick. Valerie also did great, as did George (50-miler) and Anne. 

I was happy to finish the race and was in a great mood afterwards. Yep, right decision and no regrets. I really had a blast today. I was super stoked for my friends that did well, and was really happy to see and hang out with other running friends and acquaintances that I typically only see at races.  Also nice to meet new folks, including one fellow (sorry, I forget the name) from Natick, MA who said he regularly reads my blog. Why, good sir, you do so is beyond me, but thank you and it was nice meeting you. 

The future? Well, I'm going to go forward with my plan of extremely light running until January. This means just 15-20 miles a week until then, but for this week I don't plan to run again at all until the weekend. Bodies need breaks, pure and simple. I plan on focusing on really strengthening my core during this time by stepping up the ab and upper body workouts. Then I'll crank up the training again in January to prepare for Boston.

Ran 26.2 miles in 4:14:25 (9:42/mile pace). 
Technical trails. 
Moderately hilly. 
Lower to mid 40s, overcast. 
Adidas Adizero XT, shorts, sleeveless shirt, Moeben Sleeves (half the time).

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Beating the Rain

Supposed to get soaking rains later today through tomorrow, so I was glad to unexpectedly get in an early morning run, due to waking up earlier than my alarm. Pretty short and uneventful, which is good. Nice to run in the cool, 24 degree temps.

Tomorrow will be a rest day. Saturday, the Stone Cat 50. Continue to feel good about the race, but at the same time, not nervous or pressured with any goals that are of real importance to me. I'll still do my best, but I really don't care much what happens and just want to have fun out there. Break eight hours? Hey, cool. Having a bad day, something goes wrong and I finish in over 10 hours? Ah, so what. Just gonna enjoy the ride.

Ran 3.1 miles @ 7:47/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 20s, partly clear skies.
Brooks Mach 11, long pants, windbreaker, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt, refl. vest, beanie, gloves.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Short and Sweet

Had originally planned on a few miles more today and slower, but opted for shorter and faster. Ran with our top high school XC runner during his warmup, which worked out well. I wanted to get some faster turnover going in my legs anyway, so this was a good opportunity to do so.

Good tempo pace, but less than two miles so nothing overly done for keeping the legs fresh for the Stone Cat 50 on Saturday. Feeling good about the race. Forecast is now calling for 2"-3" of rain tomorrow and Friday, so no doubt the course will be quite muddy. I'll run in my Adidas Adizero XTs, which have very good grip in the mud. Should be fun!

Ran 1.9 miles @ 6:37/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Mostly flat.
Mid-40s, partly cloudy.
Brooks Mach 11, shorts, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Seven in the Afternoon Sun

Really bright outside this afternoon, with deep blue, cloudless skies that contrasted with the cooler air. Despite that ideal setting, I felt a bit sluggish at first, primarily from lack of sleep last night. Stomach was also a bit gurgily.

Still nothing bad though. Stomach settled down and once I was more warmed up, the energy started to return and I kicked it in a bit more on the last few miles. Good run.

Weather is looking interesting for Stone Cat 50 this weekend. Looks like a good amount of rain the day or two before the race and we could get some more rain on race day. It'll be cool and muddy, which will be a lot of fun! Will make a warm shower feel all the more nicer afterwards.

Ran 7.1 miles @ 7:42/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Upper 40s, sunny.
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

2011 Boston Marathon Confirmation Received

Forgot to mention it yesterday, but I received the final confirmation email from the Boston Marathon that my BQ time was verified and I'm in. While this was never in doubt, it was a bit nail-biting to gradually see practically all of my running friends and acquaintances names appear on the list bit-by-bit each day, wondering when my name would appear. But no longer, as I'm now on the list:

2011 Boston Marathon Entrants

And... exhale. It only took a little longer because my BQ marathon was the day before registration opened, and according to the Boston Marathon website, they need to receive the official results from the marathon, so naturally it took a bit longer. I figured this was the case, but now I can officially relax. I'm in.

Seeing my name on that list is both humbling and an honor. It's really hitting me now. Qualifying for Boston was a monkey I've had on my back for several years. Now that it's off, now that I'm locked and loaded, it really feels special. I remember my dad running it back in 1979. His bib number along with cut up strips of his mylar blanket were framed and displayed on our living room wall afterwards. I plan to do the same.

These thoughts and more danced through my head during a casual run in the woods out back this morning. Just ran by feel and let my legs do whatever felt comfortable, and ended up with a pretty good pace for this route. Last two miles I could tell I hadn't eaten breakfast though, and didn't feel terribly energetic as a result. Still a good run though. Now, bring on football!

Ran 7.7 miles @ 8:38/mile pace.
Trails and fire roads.
Very hilly.
Upper 30s to upper 40s, partly cloudy.
Adidas Adizero XT, shorts, windbreaker, shirt, beanie, gloves (shed halfway through)

Saturday, October 30, 2010


I was up in Belfast today for the Maine High School Cross Country Championship meet. Our team did really well, placing 8th out of 16 teams, which we were really happy with. Many of our kids also set PRs, which was great. Good time!

And, I got there early and ran the course before the races started and tacked on a little extra as I ran to the start line. The coach from Gray-New Gloucester joined me and we ran together, chatting away and I really enjoyed the conversation.

Really liked the course. It's fast, but still challenging and a lot of fun to run on. Kept the pace pretty easy, but was pretty surprised it was as fast as it actually was. Looking forward to a longer run tomorrow.

Ran 3.2 miles @ 7:51/mile pace.
Moderately hilly.
Lower 40s, overcast, windy.
X-shoes, shorts, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Easy Five

Short little jaunt around the town I teach in after the day was done. Kept the pace easy but wasn't feeling particularly energetic anyway. I'll blame it on the bee that stung me about an hour before the run.

Not sure if I'll take a scheduled rest day tomorrow, only because I doubt I'll be able to run on Saturday. Will play it by ear. But that's the beauty of being in a three week recovery/taper period between a marathon and a 50-miler, you can always adjust and when in doubt... rest.

Ran 5.0 miles @ 7:59/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Upper 60s, sunny.
Brooks Mach 11, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Seven in the Seventies

Ugh, 70 degrees out during my run this afternoon. And muggy too. Yuck. At least it'll cool back down by the weekend.

Did a very hilly route from the school after cross country practice was over. Took the pace easy and just let the mind wander and enjoyed the scenery. Don't know my splits, but it was definitely a progression run albeit nothing crazy at all. 

Felt great and the marathon recovery is going quite well. Happy with how things are progressing and I suspect the legs should be pretty fresh for the 50-miler a week from Saturday. 

Ran 7.1 miles @ 7:58/mile pace. 
Paved roads. 
Very hilly. 
Lower 70s, overcast, humid.
Brooks Mach 11, shorts, short sleeved shirt. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Cemetery and Back

Pretty uneventful couple of runs today that were around 30 minutes apart. Ran the warm-up and cool-down with our cross country team to the cemetery and back where they did their workout.

Feeling great, but probably went a little too fast per my plan of taking all runs pretty easy here between the marathon and 50-miler. Not a big deal I did it today, but don't want to make a habit of it. Planned rest day tomorrow. Will likely stick to run two days, take a day off and repeat from for the next couple of weeks leading up to the race.

Ran 2.1 miles @ 7:36/mile pace.
Ran 2.3 miles @ 7:24/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Lower 50s, overcast.
Brooks Mach 11, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Woods Out Back

Nice run in the woods out back. There was actually no wind for once, which felt a bit foreign given it's been very breezy nearly every day the past few weeks. Along with the overcast skies and cool temps, the morning definitely had a bit of a wintery feel to it.

Took the pace pretty easy at first, given last night involved a little bit of celebrating of last weekend's BQ at the MDI Marathon. Last few miles I picked up the pace though and did so pretty easily, so it's good the legs are recovering nicely. Nice overall pace for this route, given 2/3's are on technical, hilly trails and the other 1/3 are fire roads (which are easy to run fast on).

Ran 6.6 miles @ 8:24/mile pace.
Trails and fire roads.
Very hilly.
Upper 30s to lower 40s, overcast.
Adidas Adizero XT, shorts, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Short and Sweet

Short and slow run today. Equal mix of roads and trails. I'm testing out a new pair of minimal shoes to give a company feedback, and really liked them. Kept the pace slow to get used to them.

Nice to keep the pace slow and easy. Everything is feeling great post-marathon still, but am still going to keep all of my runs short and slow for the two weeks leading up to the Stone Cat 50 to continue the recovery.

Really cold and windy out. Was only starting to feel warmed up and then the run was over.

Ran 2.7 miles @ 9:07/mile pace.
Paved paths, paved roads and trails.
Slightly hilly.
Lower 40s, mostly cloudy, windy.
'X' shoes, shorts, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Early Morning Run

I woke way earlier than usual, at 2:30 am, and couldn't fall back asleep. Milled around a bit and then decided it'd be smart to do my run now. This worked out well, as we could have another rainy afternoon. I'm also way behind on grading, so it's nice to free up my afternoon a bit to get caught up.

Run went really well. Legs felt fresh and no soreness was noticeable, not even in my quads. Taking the last three days off was really smart.

All runs between now and the Stone Cat 50 on November 6th will be short and slow to allow for somewhat proper recovery. Goals for Stone Cat? Just have fun. I feel I have nothing to prove with this race and no monkeys to get off my back. After taking the MDI Marathon super seriously, it'll be fun to just do a race and enjoy it with no pressure. I've volunteered at this race the past several years and it's a really fun atmosphere, so it's the perfect race to do so.

Ran 2.9 miles @ 8:11/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Around 30 degrees, clear skies.
Brooks Mach 11, long pants, windbreaker, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt, refl. vest, beanie.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Mt. Desert Island Marathon Video

I'm still basking in the glow of a very successful marathon at MDI and am daydreaming of running Boston in April. Legs are recovering nicely. Quads were very sore post-race but that's dissipating. Would like to do a short run today but have to head to South Portland to help coach a junior varsity cross country meet. Most likely will do my first post-marathon run tomorrow.

Focus on running the next two and a half weeks will be recovery and keeping the legs loose. I have the Stone Cat 50-Miler on November 6th, so just want to have fresh legs for that event. No pressures with this race though. Just going to have fun and don't really care about my time that much.

In the meantime, here's some footage my brother shot of me on Sunday. I edited this Monday when I got back and was pretty wiped, so I messed up the finishing time on the fullscreen at the end, but I corrected it through YouTube's annotation system:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Boston Marathon Registration Fiasco: Blame it on Social Media

First off, I got in the Boston Marathon and am darn happy about it. Their website crashed and sputtered. I cursed a lot. But, I got through Monday morning and though I didn't know it at the time, my problems with registering were pretty minuscule compared to what others went through.

Seven or so hours later, the race was filled. Compare this to last year when it took two months and people flipped out about that. And I compare that to four or five years ago when I can remember a friend registering for Boston after qualifying for it two months prior and with no worries. Ah, the salad days.

So... what gives?

I asked around about that and the common answer in one form or another was this: The hype. Mass hysteria and panic that it was going to fill up served as a positive feedback mechanism for the inevitable mad rush to get in before the cap was reached. I bought in, and so did others. The result: Bam! Record setting fill-up time.

The field limit is still the same. The qualifying standards are still the same. I'd venture to guess the number of those that did BQ this past year really wasn't significantly more compared to recent years either. But the drum beating that the race was going to fill up quick was not the same. How much did the race director play in that? Hard to say for sure, but there is now a huge mess for him to clean up and a lot of unhappy people to deal with.

What helped accelerate it? Simple. Social media. Enter Facebook and Twitter, where information is dispersed quickly and efficiently, primarily from peers that we trust and pay more attention to than other information outlets. In my opinion, there is no way this level hype would have been possible without it. Send out tweets or status updates that it'll fill up fast, and people will flock in droves. Your friends and family will pass along the word, adding in their own concerns along the way.

Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed to see the Mt. Desert Island Marathon going this route. The race filled up this year over the summer, which was faster than ever. And I love this race to death, but this morning they were sending out tweets and status updates threatening that the race would be filling up very soon like Boston did:

"The 2011 Boston Marathon sold out in a few hours on Monday and we're right behind them. Don't wait or you'll miss our 1)th [sic] edition, it's gonna be epic! WE PROMISE!"

Okay, now that is just flat out beating the drum. No doubt this race will now fill up very soon as a result, but is it ethical to start a fire in your own crowded theater? This rushes people into the decision making process for the sake of filling up your own race quicker and the hype was happening even before the registration for MDI opened, so it makes me wonder.

Going back to Boston, as a result of the quick fill-up and people not getting in as a result, an ugliness has ensued. Check the Boston Marathon's Facebook page and you'll see. People are looking for scapegoats, and one target has been charity runners. Some are very harshly saying Boston should do away with that group to allow more slots for BQ'ers, but when you consider the charity runners numbers, it's stupid to blame them. I've heard 1350 spots are given to charity runners... not a big impact. And c'mon, it's charity for crying out loud. Where's your heart?!

People who got in the Boston Marathon because they are affiliated with a business that sponsors the event in some way? Well, a bit more of a fair target there, but hey, if a business or organization sponsors in some way, they deserve a few slots.

If you must blame someone, blame the hype machine. Blame social media. Blame Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and everything else. That's what really caused it.


Someone has to drive it. I hope more race directors will use more caution in the future for everyone's sake. There are better ways to bring people to your races. Intentional or not, I think Boston might have learned this lesson the hard way.