Monday, October 31, 2011

Pacing Au Naturale

I ran a hilly seven mile route from the school today, enjoying the ongoing winter preview of farm pastures blanketed in snow which contrasted brilliantly with the trees still dotted with their autumn colored foliage. Throw in bright sunshine and cloudless skies and it was quite beautiful.

Run went very well. I decided to run whatever pace felt natural and comfortable without pushing it. I think I only glanced down at the Garmin two or three times total. Ended up with a pretty decent pace that felt easy. Definitely pretty Zen.

Ran 7.1 miles @ 7:41/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Around 50 degrees, sunny.
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, long sleeved shirt.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Return to Pineland Farms

With hunting season underway, Saturday runs have switched to Pineland Farms, which is a safe haven for trail runners until we reclaim the woods again in December. Bit of a smaller crew this morning, consisting of Ian, Jim D., Zak, Nathan, Al and myself, but a lot of fun as usual.

Map from
We ran at a pretty good lick for these trails, basically amounting to a solid moderate pace. Leg peppiness continues and nice that the recovery is going well. Afterwards, no takers on coffee at the visitor's center, but in a selfish way that worked out well for me as I spent a few undistracted hours getting a lot of writing done while sipping pumpkin coffee.

Big snowstorm expected tonight, with 6"-12" predicted. Wow, and it's only October? Pretty interesting and exciting. Too bad it isn't happening 24 hours later, we'd be getting a snow day out of it. :-)

Ran 6.7 miles @ 8:21/mile pace.
Moderately hilly.
Mid 20s to lower 30s, partly cloudy.
Adidas Adizero XT, long tights, light jacket (shed a few miles in), long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Shortie and Strides

Another short run on tap today. Great weather and pretty funny that we actually got snow last night. And even funnier is that we're supposed to get several inches tomorrow night and a winter storm watch is in effect. Bring it. 

But today, mid-40s and breezy. Fun little short run and followed it up with 5 X 100M strides. Felt great to give the legs some turnover and I can feel them really coming around now. Lot of pep lately. This is good. Looking forward to getting in a little bit more distance in tomorrow at Pineland. 

Ran 3.8 miles @ 7:37/mile pace (includes 5 X 100M strides). 
Paved roads (strides on grassy field). 
Mostly flat. 
Mid 40s, partly cloudy, breezy. 
Brooks Mach 13, shorts, short sleeved shirt, long sleeved shirt. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fall Weather

Loved the weather today. Overcast and cool out, even a bit of light ran as we began the run. It isn't happy weather exactly, but yet there's something oddly appealing about it. Perhaps it's the colorful leaves backdropped against the gray skies? I don't know, but regardless it's peaceful in a way. 

Ran with some of the XC team to a local park, did repeats around a field there and then headed back. Good little run. Tomorrow will be a day off, and if we're lucky we might see our first snowflakes of the season. 

Ran 2.8 miles @ 7:53/mile pace. 
Paved roads, grassy fields.
Mostly flat. 
Upper 40s, overcast, light rain. 
Brooks Mach 13, shorts, short sleeved shirt, long sleeved shirt.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Windy Four

Short and pretty slow on tap again for today. I plan on most runs being no faster for the next few weeks at least, but I may throw in some stride work later in the week just to give the legs some turnover. Really windy out, but quite pleasant out nonetheless.

I'm afraid I'm going to go a bit nuts with my plan to take it really, really easy until December, but I think letting the body heal up completely and giving it a break will pay greater dividends in the long term, so will try to stick to that plan.

Ran 4.3 miles @ 7:49/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 50s, sunny, windy.
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, long sleeved shirt.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Woods Out Back

I had a fun morning, helping out at a 5K race in the town I teach in and then once I got home, I was eager to hit the woods out back for a trail run, so I did just that.

The mantra was slow and easy for today, though the legs feel fine from last weekend's marathon. Ran into a few interesting folks during the run. The first guy was a mushroom hunter. He had a 5-foot spear with him, which I assumed was for gathering mushrooms... but not the case, he was afraid of coyotes. I didn't argue the point much about the statistical data on coyotes and human attacks, but regardless, he was a nice guy and I told him I'd keep an eye out for any chaga for him. 

On the return back on the fire road, ran into another fellow who lost his dog after it chased some birds into the woods. I offered to help him out, but he said he was confident the dog would return at some point. I told him if I came across the dog I would do my best to corral it back to him, and I continued on. 

Good little run and the weather was perfect. Been thinking quite a bit about how I want to go about preparing for Boston. I'll detail that in a post sometime this week. 

Ran 6.6 miles @ 8:58/mile pace. 
Trails, fire roads. 
Very hilly. 
Mid 50s, partly sunny. 
Adidas Adizero XT, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

First Post-Marathon Run

The original plan was to take a full week off from running after the marathon to ensure proper recovery. Well, that lasted three days, but I feel my reasoning is sound. First off, my legs have never felt better after a marathon and recovery is going much quicker than anticipated. Secondly, I thought it would actually do some good to shake the legs loose a bit. Run went well and I kept the pace very easy. Likely won't run again until Sunday.

So what now? I'm pretty much going to run maintenance miles until December. That'll likely mean just 20-30 easy miles a week and a couple of days off each week. Reason being simply to give the body a break.

Once December rolls around, I plan to start ramping up the mileage and by Christmas time, it'll be 16 weeks out from the Boston Marathon, and I'll begin my training regiment.

Ran 3.1 miles @ 8:52/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Mostly flat.
Mid 60s (yuck), sunny.
Brooks Mach 13, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Monday, October 17, 2011

2011 Mount Desert Island Marathon Race Report

I can sum it up in two simple words: great race. I didn't break 3:10, but am super stoked to have run the course in 3:12:09 and set a new PR (old one was 3:12:41 at Boston last April). I also bested last year's MDI time of 3:14:33 by a good amount. Stoked. 

Kate and I arrived on the island around noon and hit the expo. Checked in there, went for a short run with Kate at Eagle Lake, hung out with Ryan for a bit, then met up with Jim D. and Shauna at the pasta dinner (always very good, but it seemed especially tasty this year), then headed back to Kate's folks' place in Brewer to spend the night. 

Ran 2.8 miles @ 9:52/mile pace. 
Carriage roads. 
Slightly hilly. 
Lower 60s, sunny, windy. 
Brooks Mach 13, shorts, long sleeved shirt. 

We drove back over and arrived at the race a little more than hour before the start. My stomach had been feeling a little off that morning, which worried me a bit. I was also feeling very nervous and anxious, which surprised me a bit because logically there really shouldn't have been much to worry about. It wasn't BQ or die unlike last year. Nothing was really on the line. But yet, I couldn't relax. At least I had the Trail Monsters to talk to and also kept bumping into other folks I knew.

Trail Monsters take to the roads. Jim, me and Ryan. 
The wind was blowing pretty hard and about 20 or so minutes before the race was about to start, a light rain began to fall. Brrrr. But soon it was almost time and the rain stopped. Gary (the RD) gave the final pre-race speeches, AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" cranked through the PA system, and then the cannon boomed. We were off!

We're off! Courtesy: Maine Running Photos
Ryan and I are underway!
Miles 0-5 - The Fantastic Four
Ryan and I hung together and we linked up with two other runners, Anita and Ty. Similar paces, similar personalities, and we laughed and joked as we worked together until just past the half marathon mark. This was completely awesome and VERY welcome. Last year, I was alone for most of the race. It was great to have other folks to run off of and exchange jokes with. 

The distraction was especially important for me, as I was feeling really out of sync and all sorts of negative thoughts were running through my head in the first half. I remember thinking to myself at mile four "Man, I am simply not feeling it today". My stomach also still felt a little off (thankfully, it never became a real issue). 

Miles 5-10 - Pushing
Seal Harbor. About 8.5 miles into the race. Courtesy: Maine Running Photos.
Still feeling out of sync and still wondering what was up. I was valuing Ryan, Anita and Ty more than ever as they were pulling me along. Pace was great and conversing with them was a perfect distraction, but secretly inside my head I continued to wage a bit of a mental battle with myself. Cooksey Drive was also a great diversion, as it provided stunning views of the ocean. Took my first Gu one hour into the race. Despite the questionable stomach, it didn't do anything to upset it. Whew. An important test and I had passed it. I also ditched the disposable water bottle I had been carrying and felt a bit more freed up as a result. 

Miles 10-15 - The Mental Demons Die
Ty and I at Northwest Harbor
We went through Northwest Harbor and it was great to see Kate and her folks here as well as the others... another lift. Still out of sync. But then, an eye opener occured. We crossed the half marathon mark in 1:34:57. Unacceptable. I crossed in 1:34:22 last year. I was ticked and knew I could do better. Fortunately, I was able to use that and my splits began to drop. For a while, I was a bit ahead of Ryan, but then he passed me up (and for good). Anita and Ty were now behind. The Fantastic Four had been broken up, but it was inevitable it would happen at some point. Took another Gu around 1:45 into the race. 

Miles 15-20 - Cruising
Coming off of Sargent Drive. Despite the pained expression, I was actually feeling really good here. 

A little after mile 18
Each passing mile was a huge confidence booster. HUGE. I remembered my splits starting to slow at mile 16 last year, but I was holding them down with no problem now. Even better, I was doing so relatively comfortably. This was great. Saw Mindy, Pete, Danielle, Kate and her folks as well others at multiple points along here which was awesome. I marveled at the turnaround and my head was now very much in the game.

Miles 20-25 - Tough Hills and the Headwind of Death

Around mile 21. Arrr matey, there be hills ahead!
Okay, now my legs have caught up to me a bit and were feeling tired. And having a cruel headwind along with some big hills in this stretch wasn't helping. But still, I trucked on and the pace was still respectable (for me) at this stage. I was calculating my finishing time, and early on in this stretch I knew I would probably beat last year's time if I could keep it up. Took the third and final Gu when the Garmin hit 2:30.

The miles and hills ticked by and the time calculations became more clear. Now, setting a new PR seemed possible, but I'd have to book it. Was still picking off a few folks and only one guy had passed me (the only one since around mile 15, now that I think about it).  

I soon saw the amply named Top of the Hill Restaurant which marks the top of the final big hill. Sweet! A very welcome sight. I honestly didn't expect it to see it when I did, I thought it was still further up the road. Big downhill, then a very small uphill was all that was left. 

25-26.2 - The Final Stretch
The new PR was now the firm focus but I knew I'd have to work hard. I was also keeping in mind that I had a BQ for 2013. Those two thoughts kept me going and I was pushing with all I had left. I cruised on the downhill, and soon came up on that minor uphill. If there's a nice thing about that final incline, it's that you know that once you're at the top you can see the finish line. 

Kept glancing at my watch all the while, and when the finish line was in sight I let loose with all I had left (which wasn't much). I got closer and closer and knew a PR was in the bag. I pumped my fist in victory and crossed the finish line in 3:12:09, good enough for 24th place overall. Excited as heck, but too depleted to express it. Ryan was right there to greet me and I used the man hug as an excuse for him to hold me up. By the way, Ryan rocked it with a 3:10:11. A gargantuan PR for him and he was seconds away from a negative split. Kate was also right there as well as Blaine (who rocked it with a 3:03:02) and the others. 

Approaching the finish

Post Race
I found a chair and sat down, recapping war stories with Blaine and Ryan. We flushed our legs for a good 10 minutes or so, which helped immensely (I'm surprised more endurance runners don't do this). Milled around and chatted with others, and made our way over to the beer tent for some beverages and a pulled pork sandwich (courtesy of Kate's folks.. big thanks!). 

Minutes after the finish

Leg flush!

Barley sodas!
Legs continue to feel surprisingly great. Sore, yes, but nowhere near the degree as MDI last year or Boston last April (I guess I didn't run hard enough, hardee har har). Very stoked still to have PR'd and qualified for Boston for 2013, but running that race again in 2012 might be enough for me. Plenty of time to think about it though and nice to have the option. 

Ran 26.2 miles @ 7:20/mile pace. 
Official chip time: 3:12:09
Overall placing: 24th out of 926. 
Age group placing (35-39): 7th out of 59 (stacked this year)
Paved roads. 
Extremely hilly. 
Upper 40s to upper 50s, sunny, windy. 
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, singlet, plastic water bottle first 10 miles. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

New PR at the Mt. Desert Island Marathon

Finished in 3:12:09, good enough for 24th place out of 924 finishers. Really stoked! Felt out of sync for the first half but pulled it together in the second. Full race report tomorrow.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

MDI Marathon Goals

Before I list my goals, it's definitely worth noting that I'm feeling very little pressure for Sunday's race. Last year, it was BQ or die. This year? Well, let's just run it fast and smart and see what happens. Don't get me wrong... I'm anxious and ready to race, but at the same time I feel pretty relaxed. I've broken it down a little more specifically than that and here's what it comes down to (hardest goal first with back-up/other goals in place):

A) Break 3:10. It would be cool to be a 3:0X:XX marathon runner. Not as cool as a sub-three hour marathoner, but first things first. 

B) PR. My best time is 3:12:41 set at Boston last year. 

C) Break last year's MDI Marathon time of 3:14:33.

D) I'm already in the 2012 Boston Marathon, but if I break 3:15:00, I would qualify for the 2013 Boston Marathon under the new standards (I'll be 40 then). However, I'll have another chance to qualify at Boston this April if it doesn't work out. 

E) Finish. 

There ya have it. I also ran today. Just a little over three miles in the mist. Rather pleasant running conditions and it was quite enjoyable. Taking a rest day tomorrow. Short run on Saturday and then it's race time!!!

Ran 3.4 miles @ 7:40/mile pace. 
Paved roads. 
Slightly hilly. 
Upper 50s, overcast, misting. 
Brooks Mach 13, shorts, long sleeved shirt, cap.  

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Short Jaunt and the Cheating Idiot

Just ran a short and easy 5K today. All systems continue to be a go for Sunday. Focusing now on making sure the diet is really in check. Lots of quality carbs and proteins, along with fruits and vegetables (well okay, more fruits than vegetables).

By the way, did you see the story of this cheating moron? The Marathon Gods will not be taking this one lightly, I'm sure.

Ran 3.1 miles @ 7:55/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 50s, overcast.
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Taper Worms

Good case of the taper worms today. Ran the warm-up and cool down with the cross country team (they did mile repeats today). Went way too fast on their warm-up, but was much more disciplined on their cool down. They averaged out to an acceptable overall pace for the two runs.

Feeling good about Sunday and am anxious for the race to hurry up and get here. Weather forecast looks good for right now, but of course it'll change five more times. I really won't pay it much mind until a day or two beforehand.

Ran 2.1 miles @ 7:11/mile pace.
Ran 2.1 miles @ 8:46/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Mostly flat.
Mid 60s, sunny.
Brooks Mach 13, shorts, long sleeved shirt.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Updates on Writing

I would just like to thank everyone for helping make my first book Maine to Boston: Marathon Training Through a New England Winter a success, primarily because it's been a very positive experience and something I have learned a lot from. In case you were curious, several dozen copies have been sold as of this posting (the book has been out for about a month). That's way more than I would have expected at this point, especially considering this book has a pretty narrow target audience, so I'm quite pleased. I seriously did this more for the experience and thought it would be a fun project. If I made a few bucks doing it, hey great, but that was never important.

I would guess half of the sales so far have been from family, friends and acquaintances who wanted to show their support (for which I say a big thank you). But what's also pretty cool is the other half of the sales are from people I don't know. Just like with blogging, it's pretty neat knowing others are checking out your work. The feedback has been very positive so far and it's been great connecting with folks I normally wouldn't have otherwise.

A few folks have asked me if I'm planning on working on a second book. The answer is yes. In fact, I've already started and though it's early, it's coming along great so far. This next book will be science fiction with a running twist, and I'll just leave it at that for now.

The biggest danger is hyping something up and not following through. It seems to happen quite a bit with folks first starting out with writing. That's what makes this Family Guy clip so funny:

The nice thing, however, is that I have confidence now that my first book is out there. For some additional motivation and research, I just finished reading Stephen King's "On Writing", which I would HIGHLY recommend to anyone out there who has even thought about writing. The biggest eye opener to me was in the final section of the book where he shares examples of the different drafts of a few pages from his short story "1408". The first draft seemed very amateurish, but that's also the point. In the second draft, the nuts and bolts were in place much more firmly and in the third and final draft, it was now a highly polished piece of work. On a side note, this made feel less guilty about going through blog entries and revising them several times after I've already posted them (I definitely make a lot of mistakes).

King also shows the notes he made in each draft and the whole process was pretty fascinating. It was really neat to see how he gets an idea down first and then focuses on getting it ready for the masses. He also refers to this as "writing with the door closed" and then "writing with the door open". King also gives many other valuable tips and insights, but it would take too long to list them all here. Just read the book if you're interested, you won't regret it.

Back to my own writing... The biggest obstacle in attempting to write fiction is that it's a very different craft that I don't have a lot of experience with. You can have the greatest idea in the world but what's even more important than the story itself is how you tell it. Great ideas are often ruined with poor writing. That being said, I feel I have a very unique idea and if I can tell it correctly, it will be a lot of fun to share it with the public. Now, I just have to avoid being like Brian...

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Elk Farm Loop

The final double digit run of the taper was on tap for today. However, there were some obstacles to work with. I was out late with the Trail Monsters last night celebrating some recent successes and was feeling the effects of that upon waking up. I spent the morning watching the Chicago Marathon (Mosop is a beast) and sipping coffee before finally heading out the door.

By then, it had already warmed up significantly, which just added to the unpleasantness. However, by the time I climbed the ridge up to the elk farm I had downed most of my water and was starting to feel better. Enjoyed the descent and relatively flat few miles back home. All things considered, not a bad little run, though I probably should have taken it slower.

Ran 11.3 miles @ 7:40/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Mid 70s to lower 80s (yuck), sunny.
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, cap, handheld bottle (water).

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Volunteering and Running

Jeff once again put on a very smooth Craig Cup 5K XC race today. I was happy to help out with registration and then organizing bib tabs at the finish line while cheering on friends and the other runners as they came in. Kate did well, and Jeff and Ryan especially put in some impressive performances. Ryan doesn't really want to hear it, but I think he's going to do something special at MDI next weekend...

After the race, Jeff, Ian, David, Nate and I hit the trails and got in a nice five miler. Unusually warm out, which actually kinda sucks, in my opinion. I'd prefer not to have August weather in October. Regardless, it was a very fun morning. Looking forward to taking an afternoon nap!

Ran 5.1 miles @ 8:58/mile pace.
Moderately hilly.
Lower to upper 60s, sunny.
Brooks Mach 13, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Tour de Skowhegan

Today was a long day, consisting of a day trip up to Skowhegan to attend a teachers' conference. Afterwards, I changed clothes and went for a run before I drove home.

I had never been to Skowhegan before, so I looked forward to exploring the downtown area on foot. As just about every runner knows, running is undoubtably the best way to check a new place out. Most of your senses are engaged... you feel the uneven stretches of pavement under your feet, see buildings and trees up close, smell the pies that must have just come out of the oven at the bakery, and best of all, have more freedom to check things out close-up. See a park coming up? Run on in and see what's there. Where does that street go? One way to find out. Cool, a river! Cross the bridge and check out the water below. It's always a fun little adventure, and one of the many things I love about running.

Ran 5.1 miles @ 8:23/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Moderately hilly.
Upper 50s, sunny.
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, long sleeved shirt.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Adieu, Piste

One last interval session on the track before the marathon next weekend. With a planned rest period of minimal running after the race and through November, the snow could start flying by the time I start ramping up the mileage in December for the start of the Boston Marathon training cycle around Christmas time. That means it's quite possible I won't hit the track again until the snow melts in late winter/early spring. That's a long ways off and it makes me kind of sad. I really do love the occasional track workout.

Today called for a light session of intervals to give the legs some turnover without wearing them down. In other words, a light reminder of what fast feels like. The session called for 6 X 800M at a 3K-5K race pace with 2:00 rest. I guessed that was just a bit under 3:00 so that's what I shot for.

So it was nice to hit the track one last time. I wasn't feeling too in sync today. Far from craptastic... I just didn't feel too peppy and I think that was due in large part to not warming up enough (cool and windy out again today). The last three splits felt the most fluent.

w/u: Ran 1.0 mile @ 8:05/mile pace.
6 X 800M w/ 2:00 rest. Splits: 2:51, 2:56, 2:58, 2:55, 2:53, 2:56.
c/d: Ran 1.0 mile @ 8:34/mile pace.
Mid 50s, partly cloudy, windy.
Brooks Mach 13, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Easy Fiver

Definitely reaching the point where the taper is driving me a bit nuts. Easy five on tap for the day and on several occasions I had to remind myself to slow down. That's always a good sign, but it's also a bit aggravating to force things slower as well.

At least tomorrow I have a session of 800M intervals on tap so it'll feel good to give the legs some turnover. It's taken from the Pfitz taper plan, with only six reps going in at just under 3:00 with two minutes of static rest in between, sandwiched between a warm-up and cool down.

Ran 5.0 miles @ 7:58/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Lower 50s, partly sunny, breezy.
Brooks Mach 13, shorts, long sleeved shirt.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

First Signs of Taper Madness

Legs felt fresh and raring to go, but I mentally kept on the brakes. One of those nice days when the cross country teams' workout more or less correlated with my own, however I didn't go at the varsity guys' pace.

Less than two weeks until the marathon and all systems go. I've more or less formulated a pacing plan and strategy for the course, but will keep that semi-secret for now.

Ran 5.2 miles @ 8:14/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Mid 50s, overcast, light rain.
Brooks Mach 13, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Weekend at Acadia National Park

Was up on Mt. Desert Island again this weekend, this time with my buddy Jim. We almost canceled the trip because of the rainy weather, but I'm really glad we didn't. Yeah, it rained quite a bit here and there, but there were breaks and we had a blast.

I arrived Friday night and set up camp at Blackwoods and Jim arrived shortly thereafter. After a trip to Hannaford's for some food supplies we ate and then went to bed. The distant sound of the bell from an ocean buoy lulled me to sleep and I awoke the next morning to the equally far away sound of ships blasting their fog horns. That was pretty cool.

I drove over to Belfast to meet up with the XC team for a big invitational meet (the kids did pretty well) and at the end of it I promptly drove back, anxious to get in a run before heading out to eat. Laced up the flats and ran the park loop road from Blackwoods to Thunderhole and back, garnering strange looks form tourists along the way. Took the first half easy, but dropped down to MP for the second half.

Came back, changed and Jim and I hit Geddy's for some grub and a few beverages. Came back to the campsite and the rain was light enough where Jim successfully started a really nice fire, and we had a few more beverages while yaking away until it was time for bed.

Ran 6.2 miles @ 7:27/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Mid 60s, ovecast, light rain.
Brooks Mach 13, shorts, cap.

Jim and I woke up, broke camp and then headed to the Brown Mountain Gatehouse and met up with Gary and Peter for a run on the carriage trails at an easy pace. Definitely a lot of fun, despite it being pretty wet and somewhat cool out.

Gary offered some great advice and encouragement with my marathon goals, which I really appreciated. I'm feeling pretty good about MDI in two weeks. All systems continue to be a go.

Ran 15.1 miles @ 8:18/mile.
Carriage trails.
Extremely hilly.
Mid 50s, overcast, moderate to light rain.
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, short sleeved shirt.