Monday, December 31, 2012

Going Nordic

First skate ski session of the season. Ryan drove down my way and we met up at Harris Farm for a good butt whuppun', at least for me. For just a couple of snowfalls, the conditions overall were great. A bit soft in spots, but still faster than expected.

And as expected, the rust was apparent. I don't think I skied at all last year, only because it was one of those weird years with hardly any snow. It didn't take long for me to start sucking wind and for my heart rate's metronome to start kicking in the turbo, largely because of my inefficiency.

We hit Harris Farm's most popular trail first, the Joe Buzzell loop. After a while, I was beginning to more or less find my form, which isn't saying much. Ryan, however, was a big help and gave out some pointers that really made things easier. The biggest one was he showed me how to properly ski in low gear for going uphill. That really helped big time.

Definitely a lot of fun, and we got in over nine kilometers, which was great for me at this point. We had a blast, to boot. Afterwards, we headed back to my place and Kate prepared us an awesome post-ski lunch of grilled cheese sandwiches with avocado, tomato, onion and bacon. Great cap to the morning!

Skate skied 9.2 kilometers @ 10.2 kph/average.
Groomed trails, some soft portions.
Moderately hilly.
Upper 20s, sunny.
Long tights, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Motivation and Winter Fun

Opted to run in the snowshoes again today. I had a longer road run in mind but the road shoulders were sloppy from last night's snow and truth be told, my running motivation is still pretty low. Hopefully it's just a phase, but the training intensity required to run a fast road marathon just isn't floating my boat right now. Sigh...

However, snowmobilers were out so I took advantaged of trails that were in better shape for snowshoe running today. Now that I was looking forward to! The trails were packed down but not enough to avoid postholing without snowshoes, so I was grateful for another opportunity to use the Dions today. They performed awesome.

The run was great. Much easier than yesterday, but that's a relative term. I've decided there is no such thing as an "easy pace" when snowshoe running. My heart rate was probably the equivalent of a solid moderate road pace and I was hardly pushing it.

Low weekly mileage this week, but with cross training that includes some skating/hockey and the snowshoe running thrown in, pace and mileage aren't the best barometers for measuring what and how much was done.

Going to continue to think about things as far as training for Boston. Like I said, maybe the motivation will rebound. But right now, I'd really love to put more eggs in other baskets, like continuing to learn to play hockey, skate skiing (I'm going tomorrow!) and snowshoe running. Yes, some of those translate well into running, especially snowshoe running, but you also should train on what you'll race on. Bottom line, the point is to have fun, right? Those other things just seem like more fun to me right now. And changing gears to focusing more on ultras again is starting to sound better and better to me as well. Less speed, more long slow distance in the woods...ahhh. Time will tell if this is a sea change (or a puddle change).

Snowshoed 3.9 miles @ 10:45/mile pace.
Trails, well to moderately packed snow.
Very hilly.
Upper 20s, mostly cloudy.
Dion 121 Snowshoes, New Balance MT110, long tights, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Art of Snowshoe Running

Ah, back home. Was very surprised the snowmobilers haven't been out yet on the trails near my house. Seems like there's definitely enough snow. No worries, I was happy to break trail, even if it meant my breaking my ego.

With at least a foot of powdery snow, the going was tough. Extremely tough. I could hear my heart beating in my ears and it sounded like the double bass drums off a Slayer album. My lungs couldn't suck in the sweet oxygen fast enough. Ah, snowshoe running. I nearly forgot how tough this is.

Would love to get the heart rate monitor working again. Easily at least a 5K effort, despite going about the same pace as an old lady with a walker. I had hoped to go around 3-4 miles today. Ummm, I settled for a mile and a half. If the trails were broken in, obviously it would have been much easier, but I ended up with a buttkicking workout instead. Nice.

Snowshoed 1.5 miles @ 15:46/mile pace.
Trails, at least a foot of unbroken powder.
Slighly hilly
Upper teens to lower 20s, overcast.
Dion 121 snowshoes, New Balance MT110, long tights, fleece pullover, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Let it Snow X Three

Was really hoping to snowshoe this morning, but alas, despite the snow really coming down hard and heavy, not enough had accumulated by late morning. Movies and/or candlepin bowling are possibly on the agenda for this afternoon, so I figured I better get out while I can and didn't want to wait.

That was fine, I just slapped on the Yaktrax Pros and headed out. Kept it short but it was a great little run all the same. Traffic was relatively light. Didn't mind the heavy snowfall, except for the stretches when the wind blew it right in my face and my eyes were forced to blink rapidly like windshield wipers on the high setting.

Warmer out than it has been. If it weren't for the wind, it would have felt tropical. Legs felt really spry but kept the pace down for safety. Travel day tomorrow but I'm sure the snowshoes will see some action this weekend.

Ran 4.6 miles @ 8:50/mile pace.
Paved roads, coated with snow.
Slightly hilly.
Upper 20s, heavy snow, windy.
Nike Waffle Racer VIII w/ Yaktrax Pro, long tights, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Pond Hockey/Cross Training

Some of my Christmas presents yesterday included hockey skates, a stick and a puck. Was eager to break them all in so Kate and I headed over to Fairmount Park in Bangor where a large frozen puddle had solid ice and was great for tooling around.

This was only my second time ice skating and I was very pleased at how well I picked things up today. The skate skiing definitely helped me pick things up faster, and chasing around a puck with a stick provided a great way to focus and keep my mind off falling (only fell once) and I feel like it accelerated my progress.

Some younger kids who were very adept at hockey showed up and graciously granted me permission to take a few shots on their net, which was fun. It's a great sport. Too bad it's not bigger throughout the state.

Kate also had fun. Borrowing my stick from time to time and also happy to just be skating around practicing turns and hockey stops. We ended up skating around for about an hour.

So, excellent cross training. It worked out my legs pretty hard in ways they aren't used to. It'll be fun to play hockey here and there throughout the winter and help strengthen the legs, especially the quads!

Put the biscuit in the basket!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas! A short progression run on tap for this morning before other family arrives and we finish opening presents.

Ran a loop here in Brewer, allowing the legs to warm-up in the 18F/-8C air and dropping the pace accordingly. Splits of 8:28, 7:50, 6:51, 6:31 and 6:21 over some gentle hills. Big snow coming in a couple of days. Can't wait!

Hope you're having a Merry Christmas!

The Cheat checking out the tree. 
Ran 5.0 miles @ 7:12/mile pace.
Paved roads. 
Slightly hilly. 
Upper teens, partly sunny. 
Saucony Kinvara 3, long tights, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, long sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Monday, December 24, 2012

We All Float Down Here

At the in-laws' house for Christmas, and Kate, The Cheat and I are all relaxing with her folks and just enjoying the holidays. Was very excited to run a route that goes past several landmarks from Stephen King's It. I was going to do this one yesterday but we had a busy day planned and I ran out of time. Today though? No problem.

I set out from Brewer and crossed the bridge over the Penobscot River and into Bangor. A bathroom break was desperately needed, so after I crossed the bridge I immediately went to a riverfront park and the only porta-pottie there was out of toilet paper. Drat. 

Ran on a scenic walkway along the river, but my eyes were diverted to the ugly casino ahead of me. I'm not a big fan of casinos, especially this one, so I had no problems with stinking up their bathrooms. Reached the building, went around back to the hotel and found a bathroom near the lobby. I feel bad for whoever needs to use it next. 

Started the run again and went past the Paul Bunyan statue, which came to life in It and attacked Rich. This statue in real life used to look out over the river, but now the aforementioned casino is blocking his view. Perhaps he'll come to life for real someday and use his axe to clear the view again. That would be nice.

From there, I ran up a side street until I hit West Broadway, and ran up that and past Stephen King's house. The gate was open, but no cars were in the driveway. I hope my favorite author has a great Christmas, whether he's here or elsewhere.

Next up was the Standpipe a few blocks over, another famous It landmark. Like the last time I was here, I ran up to it and tagged it before I moved on. I guess it's now a tradition. 

Took a bit of a detour from It and over to 11/22/63, where I ran down Kossuth Street, where the Denning family lived (and many were murdered). It's a quiet, somewhat run down street that doesn't appear to be anything special, so I didn't hesitate to move on.

From here, I cut across a wooded section to another road next to the Barrens, where a large part of It took place. The Kenduskeag was still flowing pretty fast so any ice was limited to stagnant sections near the sides. 

Crossed over the Kenduskeag and meandered through some neighborhoods until I reached Center Street and took that downtown. Here I ran past the Bangor Public Library, where Mike worked in It. After that, I made my way home, stopping at the bridge to watch large, clover-shaped chunks of ice float down the Penobscot. Good run, and a fine way to spend Christmas Eve. 

Ran 11.0 miles @ 7:49/mile pace. 
Paved roads. 
Very hilly. 
Upper teens to lower 20s, sunny. 
Saucony Kinvara 3, long tights, windbreaker, long sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Good Samaritan Run?

This whole week, running has seemingly been a struggle. Both in my head and in my legs. I haven't felt very motivated and whenever I ran, my legs felt like they were in a gravity containment field with the juice turned up.

Today was much better, and gave me hope. I've had a lot of rest this week. As a result, the legs felt very peppy and up to whatever I threw at them today. However, time is not on my side and the run was very short. Encouraging though, and hopefully I can give the legs a beat down tomorrow up in Bangor.

But the bigger news was the wallet I found on the trails. There was a good amount of cash and credit cards inside, leading me to believe it wasn't stolen, simply lost. I carried it with me for the rest of my run and called the guy when I got home. He was from Massachusetts, and no longer in the area. Truth to be told, he didn't sound very thrilled, overjoyed or relieved when I called, which was weird. I know I would have been ecstatic. Whatever, maybe he was just having a bad morning. Regardless, he'll have his wallet (and everything in it) in the mail today.

Ran 3.0 miles @ 8:53/mile pace.
Slightly hilly.
Upper 30s, partly sunny.
New Balance MT110, shorts, fleece pullover, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

End of the World Eve

The basement is stocked with canned goods. Survival skills practiced and honed. Munitions checked and good to go. Ha ha ha, I kid, I kid. The interpretation of the Mayan calendar allegedly predicting the end of the world tomorrow is a source of many jokes, and for good reason. The world had a much better chance of ending with the Bay of Pigs Invasion, but still, things might get interesting tomorrow:

My legs and general motivation felt like they were anticipating the end, though. This seems to happen around this time of the year almost every year. Tis the Season. Holidays are always a good kind of hectic, aside that they do tend to distract my running. If history repeats itself, I'll be launching like a rocket in a few weeks. Unless, of course, the Mayans are right.

Ran 4.3 miles @ 7:52/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Upper 30s, overcast.
Saucony Kinvara 3, shorts, windbreaker, long sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Easy Ten

Past two days off. Monday was planned, Tuesday was not. I'd like to blame some holiday related errands, slushy roads and a cold rain on skipping, but the truth is I could have sucked it up and gone out.

As a result, I think the legs felt a little rusty. A little difficult to find my groove. Stuck it out nonetheless, and was glad I did.

Ran 10.0 miles @ 8:09/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Upper 30s, mostly cloudy.
Saucony Kinvara 3, long tights, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

An Expected Journey

Had considered running long today on the roads, but decided a shorter trail run would be more prudent, since I didn't want to push the weekly mileage too much at this stage and I was already far enough along for the week. I also had no plans on running fast, so why not hit the trails?

So, off I went. I explored some powerline trails that I hadn't been on before. Shortly after entering the new section, I came across a side trail that ducked into the woods. Naturally, I had to take it. In doing so, I came across a magestic, mile long section that went along a stream and some beautiful woods. The rocks and diversity of forest was amazing, including a pine hammock that featured some huge trees that could have been old growth. I also saw a snowshoe hare, its coat a brilliant white, bounce away at full speed and I immediately thought of Radagast's Rhosgobel rabbits (saw The Hobbit last night).

I wondered if it was the same section that Kate had stumbled upon several years ago, and after I got home and talked to her about it, we decided that was it. I remember her raving about that section of trail, so I'm really glad that it's been rediscovered. I'll definitely run there again.

I continued on the trail wondering where it would go and eventually I got spit out on to a road. By now, it had started to snow. Cool, another treat! Now I just had to decide where to go. I figured the road was Rt. 117 and I could take it back and reconnect with another road and eventually the trails again and started in that direction. Then I thought, wait a minute...why not take the road the other way, find the powerlines and run those back towards home? So, I turned around and did just that with no complications. The exploration was a huge success and I had a blast.

Happy to finish the week with 53.4 miles, a sound step up in mileage as well as intensity. The race last Sunday (though that was last week), a progression run on Tuesday and the hill repeats on Friday were very good additions and the easy runs were kept easy. Right on track and all systems go.

Ran 13.1 miles @ 9:40/mile pace.
Trails, one small section of road.
Very hilly.
Upper teens, overcast, light to moderate snow in the second half.
New Balance MT110, long tights, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, long sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Serene Seven

We're close to the solstice, which means the sun doesn't get very high in the sky. It appears to be tired. The shadows are especially long near dawn and dusk which gives the woods a peaceful glow as the horizontal rays break through the trees. There's a silence that is so prominent that it's loud, broken occasionally by the caw of a raven perched up in the trees. It's really nice.

Took the pace really easy. As the weekly mileage increases, so does the gap in pace for daily runs with the hard-easy principle. The legs were happy to take it easy today after yesterday's hill repeats but still more than up for the task of a slow, hilly run in the woods. Good. 

Ran 7.2 miles @ 9:49/mile pace. 
Trails and fire roads. 
Very hilly. 
Lower 20s to lower 30s, sunny. 
New Balance MT110, long tights, fleece pullover, long sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Z-Hill Repeats

A run was a good way to shake off the sadness of that horrific school shooting down in Connecticut. My students and I followed the story as it was breaking and we were all pretty shocked and disturbed. Didn't really feel like running when the day was done as a result, but figured it would help clear my head a little.

Glad I went and the workout went well. This was the Z-Hill route at the cemetery  As the name implies, there are two hairpin turns on the way up, so that adds to the challenge. It's .17 miles long,  climbs about 23 feet for elevation (post edit: appears to be more than that but hard to say by how much) and some parts are steeper than others.

Did 10 reps total with about a tenth of a mile of active recovery for the jog back downhill. Took an extended break of about 3:40 after five reps. Times were :60, :58, :59*, :61, :61, :58, :63, :60, :63 and :59. Asterisk on that third rep as it's estimated since I forgot to hit the lap button.

Could definitely feel how tired my legs were on the cool down, which assured me that the workout went well. Pretty stoked. This week is shaping up well in terms of mileage and quality...and it looks like the snowshoes will see some action next week. Bring on the snow!

w/u: Ran 2.1 miles @ 8:26/mile pace.
10 X Hill Repeats w/ active recovery. 2.7 miles @ 8:04/mile pace total, sans the extended break midway.
c/d: Ran 2.1 miles @ 9:20/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Mid to lower 40s, sunny, windy.
Brooks Mach 13, shorts, windbreaker (w/u, c/d), long sleeved shirt, beanie (w/u, c/d), gloves (w/u, c/d).

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Easy Seven

Slow and easy seven miler on tap. Went well. Frankensteined together sections from regular routes to create something quasi new. Pretty uneventful run, all in all.

Weather was pretty ideal. No wind at all to speak of, not even a wisp, which made it feel warmer. Me thinks some hill repeats are in order for tomorrow.

Ran 7.0 miles @ 8:15/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Moderately hilly.
Lower 40s to upper 30s, partly cloudy.
Saucony Kinvara 3, shorts, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12.12 Miles on 12/12/12

Yeah, I'm a nerd. But this was fun. It was also good incentive to ensure that I did the mileage, where as I might have cut it short otherwise since my legs felt pretty tired. It reminded me a bit of the green and polka-dot jerseys in cycling...reason to give it a little extra for a side reward.

So, I had a route in mind and it went as planned. Fun mix of roads and a few trails and I kept the pace easy. The tired legs came around about halfway into the run and it was actually quite pleasant. Kept a sharp eye on the GPS and stopped at 12.12 miles.

Ran 12.12 miles @ 8:24/mile pace. 
Paved roads and trails. 
Very hilly. 
Upper to mid 30s, partly cloudy. 
Saucony Kinvara 3, long tights, windbreaker, long sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Never a Dull Moment

The bell had run several minutes ago and it was just myself in the classroom, along with a few students who were hanging out afterwards when a sheriff's deputy walked in. Probably like most other high school teachers, I assumed that one of my students was in trouble. I began to rack my brain and guess who might be the culprit but thankfully, that wasn't why he was here.

The deputy needed help enhancing some video for a case he's working on. It's gotten the attention of the local press recently and I first heard about it on the local news this morning. It probably wouldn't matter if I mentioned it, but I'll refrain for now just in case.

Anyway, this is pretty exciting and fun in that challenging kind of way. I really, really want to be of help and hope I can pull off what is asked. It's a tall order, and the deputy realizes that, but it would be so nice if I could get it to work. But I'm kind of stumped. I asked some others who might have some tricks but none of our ideas fully worked. After an hour of trying every trick I knew, I decided to take a break and went for a run to clear my head.

I did the seven mile hilly route from the school. Went well. Legs felt great and I ran a progression, starting out at an 8:12 pace and working down to 6:09 for the last mile. During the run, I thought of something else to try with the video, came back and tried it, but it didn't work. It's just too low quality, but I'll give it a shot again tomorrow.

Ran 7.1 miles @ 7:27/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Upper 30s, partly cloudy.
Saucony Kinvara 3, long tights, windbreaker, long sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves (shed in second half).

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Hell is a Fun Place

A fun weekend, starting with Kate and I heading up to Bangor to visit her folks. The plan was to run up there on Saturday, but that never transpired. A cold rain was falling all day, and given the crappy run on Friday I figured it would be worth it to skip it, given what was planned for Sunday. If this were a month from now, I would have hiked up my big boy pants and gotten on with it, but for where I'm at now, I begrudgingly allowed myself to take the day off.

We got up early and drove down to the Thorncrag Bird Sanctuary in Lewiston. Don't let the name fool you...this is essentially a section of woods chocked full of hills. It was here where we met up with dozens of other Trail Monsters for the annual "Till We Meet in Hell" trail race (thanks Val!!), followed by the awards ceremony (thanks Ian!!) for several fun categories for performances, shenanigans, and whatever else that happened in the past year. It's like "The Dundies" for trail running. If you're not sure what that is, google it and also subtract 500 cool points from your account.

The course is a 1.2 mile loop...which drops a little over 200' in .7 miles and then regains that elevation in half a mile, which is brutal. You run as much of it as you can in 90 minutes. There were markers every tenth of a mile, so even when time was up, you'd get credit for a partial loop. There's also a handicap scoring system built in, so everyone can compete on equal footing. The different format is refreshing and a lot of fun.

So, Kate and I arrived about 30 minutes before the start, and several of our friends were already there. I began to surmise how I was going to run it...earlier in the week I had planned to go all out, but I revised my plan to just push it but only race it if I felt spectacular. I at least wanted a tempo pace out of the day.

We were off and I ran with Ryan, Ian, Emma and Jeremy quite a bit throughout. That was good fun. The pace for the first handful of loops was pretty casual...perhaps an easy moderate pace. It allowed for conversation and just having fun. I really enjoyed the downhill in it wasn't very technical and you could just fly. After that, a rocky, muddy section that requires some sweet dance moves to move across and then that beast of an uphill before you have a short, flat section back to the start area.

During the second half, the pace was picking up a little. I began to pull ahead of the group some and began to push myself, especially the last two laps, which I can honestly say I raced.

Finished a loop with around 10 minutes left on the clock and Ryan, who had called it a day, was there yelling "Go! Go! Go! Go! Go!", not really giving me an option to call it then and risk walking back once the 90 minutes was up. So, on I went.

I was thinking the loop was 1.6 miles for some reason, so was kind of surprised that I was so close to the starting area when time was up. In fact, it was actually in sight! Dang, I should have pushed it harder earlier, but happy to finish with 7 11/12 laps, good for 9.5 miles. That's about what I had hoped for.

Afterwards, the awards ceremony at Gritty's was great fun, giving all the chance to enjoy food and barley sodas while chatting away. For the second year in a row, I won the "Most Likely to Shit During a Run" award. I definitely have the Bruiser to thank for securing this most dubious honor.

Huge thanks to Val and Ian for a great day. I never take for granted how lucky I am to be part of such an awesome running group.

Chasing Ian through the starting area.

Ran 9.5 miles @ 9:29/mile pace.
Extremely hilly. 
Upper 30s, sunny.
New Balance MT110, shorts, long sleeved shirt. 

Friday, December 07, 2012

Slog and Sleet

Just an easy five on tap for today and that's a good thing, as my legs felt heavy and mentally I wasn't really into it. Not the most pleasant of runs, truth to be told. I guess if there's a positive it's that I stuck with it and didn't make an already short run any shorter.

Started to sleet in the last mile, which was kinda fun. The sound of it hitting the dead leaves resembled a distant snare drum. Wish we'd get snow soon...dying to do some snowshoe running and skate skiing.

Ran 5.0 miles @ 8:58/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Upper 30s, overcast, sleet in the last mile.
Saucony Kinvara 3, shorts, windbreaker, long sleeved shirt, cap, gloves.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

2000+ For the Year

Nice milestone today. Today's run put me over 2000 miles for the year. Last year, I reached it on November 22nd, so a bit behind, but the year isn't over yet. Just thankful to remain healthy and have another year of successful racing and training.

Just seven today at an easy pace. Legs felt great following the interval work yesterday. I anticipate something similar tomorrow. Informal Trail Monster race on Sunday and I plan on actually racing it this year. I'm not in race shape yet but I'm hardly in slug mode either, so it'll be another fun test.

Ran 7.1 miles @ 8:00/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Moderately hilly.
Upper 30s, sunny.
Saucony Kinvara 3, long tights, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Hitting the Track

Interval work on tap for today. After a warm-up, I did 6 X 800M repeats with 400M active recovery. Went okay. Truth be told, I'm a little disappointed with the times but I also realize that's stupid and illogical thinking at this early stage. Also, very windy out...and the stench from what looked and smelled like a faulty oil heater at the adjacent school made it tough.

But all in all, not bad. I know I can improve and there's time. Purpose today was to test the legs a little to get an idea of where I'm at, but at the same time not overdue it with the reps since I haven't had much build up yet. For a starting point, I guess I'm in a pretty good spot.

What will happen with the training cycle is these interval workouts will work up to two-mile cruise intervals, accompanied by another MP run during the week as well as a long run. That's pretty much straight out of the Hansons' plan, but there are also other weeks that will include some modifications like longer tempo runs, hill workouts and step back weeks. It's all in my head, just need to get it down on the spreadsheet and I'll share it this week (comments and suggestions welcome when I do).

Song going through my head during the workout:

w/u: Ran 1.8 miles @ 8:09/mile pace.
6 X 800M w/ 400M active recovery. 2:54, 2:57, 2:54, 2:57, 2:58, 2:51.
c/d: Ran 1.3 miles @ 8:46/mile pace.
Paved roads and track.
Slightly hilly for w/u and c/d.
Mid 40s, mostly cloudy, very windy.
Brooks Mach 13, shorts, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt, beanie (w/u, c/d), gloves (w/u, c/d).

Monday, December 03, 2012

Start of the Week

Easy fiver that felt a little tougher than it should have. I think it's just the weekend catching up to me a little, but really not that big of a deal to begin with. Just not super peppy is all. Also my lower back is bugging me again. Fortunately, running isn't appearing to aggravate it. Going to give it another day or two, but might have to make a call to Dr. J and have him straighten me out (literally!).

Might take tomorrow off since I have a staff meeting after school then anyway. I just love meetings (sarcasm). Scheduled to take one this week so it might as well be then. 

Ran 5.5 miles @ 7:51/mile pace. 
Paved roads. 
Moderately hilly. 
Lower 50s, partly cloudy. 
Saucony Kinvara 3, shorts, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt, cap. 

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Trails, Snow and Ice

Great trail run in the woods out back this morning. The YakTrax Pros provided great grip on the thin coating of snow and ice and the woods had that quiet, peaceful winter feel to them. Very enjoyable run.

Pace was easy. Nailed down over 40 miles for the week, which was the goal. The ramp-up is very much on track. Goal is to work up to 60-70 mile weeks for the new year as well as incorporating more speed. I'll post the details of the Boston training plan sometime this week.

Ran 6.8 miles @ 9:37/mile pace.
Trails, coated in a thin layer of snow/ice.
Very hilly.
Upper 20s to mid-30s, overcast, foggy.
New Balance MT100, Yaktrax Pro, long tights, windbreaker (shed halfway), long sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Wintery Run

Past two days off. On Thursday, a very inefficient meeting ran late and afterwards there wasn't much daylight left. Had the discussions been run properly, the meeting probably could have...and should have...taken 20 minutes. Instead, two hours later I was mentally exhausted and just wanted to go home.

Yesterday, I hadn't gotten much sleep the night before and decided to come home and take a nap instead. I was more or less okay with that since I knew my revised weekend running plans would still have me on target for my mileage for the week.

So... today... I was very anxious to get out the door this morning and then I grew even more excited when I saw it was snowing. Looking at the radar, it looked like I would have it throughout the run so I was pretty stoked to get out the door and enjoy it.

My hands and toes felt especially cold for the first few miles, despite warm gloves and wool socks. I was a bit puzzled at first but chalked it up to not really being acclimated to colder temperatures yet (22F/-6C outside). The body was probably jumping the gun a little and pulling  blood to the core to keep the organs warm, even though I was sufficiently layered. Fortunately, a few miles later things returned to normal, but not before my toes went through that unpleasant burning feeling of blood returning. After that, very comfortable all around though.

About five miles into the run, heard a series of honks that conveyed hey, I know you! What's up! I'm pretty sure it was Ann? If so, thanks.

Run went smoothly. Very easy pace throughout, but with the powdery snow on the road shoulders it didn't allow much room for speed, but that wasn't on the agenda today anyway. Distance was. Another good step-up to getting used to longer runs. The snow also provided the added benefit (of sorts) of taxing the muscles a little more from micro-slippage with each step. Good start to the month.

These guys rule:

Ran 15.3 miles @ 8:31/mile pace.
Paved roads, covered with a thin layer of powdery snow.
Moderately hilly.
Lower 20s, overcast, moderate to light snow throughout.
Saucony Kinvara 3, long tights, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, long sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Fighting Feeling Tired

Today was just one of those days that, despite work going smoothly, I felt exhausted at the end of the day. Did not feel like running. I'm in the early stages of a ramp up period and probably could have gotten away with taking today off, but continuing the recent good momentum gets precedence. As usual, I was really glad I didn't nix the run and it went great. Good stuff.

The route I ran today will be a good candidate for the Bomb Drop (downhills at tempo, rest easy) or Missile Launch (uphills at tempo, rest easy) runs I plan on incorporating for Boston. Nice rolling hills of varying degrees of steepness. Just an overall easy pace today though. Might hit the track tomorrow to give the legs some turnover, but it'll still be light.

Ran 7.5 miles @ 8:09/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Lower 30s, mostly cloudy.
Saucony Kinvara 3, long tights, windbreaker, long sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Hills and Knights of the Round Table

Ran a route from the school that goes by Ted's Fried Clams (closed for the season, see you in May!). The first half features two really brutal climbs. One sharp and another prolonged. Second half is gravy though; a few sharper downhills at first and then the last handful miles are on a gradual decline that's quite ripe for a killing.

Went really well. Legs felt great and I took the first half easy but ran a progression in the second half to give the legs some turnover.

Additionally, had a great meeting last night with the Professor and Crux at the Thirsty Pig in Portland (great place). They've been very valuable in the past, specifically with giving road marathon advice and I also wanted to keep the group very small so we'd stay focused. We hashed through a LOT... talking about what has worked and what hasn't, differing theories, what the pros do and if it's applicable to us, identifying strengths and weaknesses, what to do with them and about them, diet, rest days...the works.  It was extremely productive and insightful. I walked away last night feeling pumped and ready and will be putting together my Boston regiment with a lot more confidence now. Should have it all mapped out by this weekend.

Ran 10.6 miles @ 7:33/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Extremely hilly.
Mid 30s, overcast.
Saucony Kinvara 3, long tights, windbreaker, long sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Wind and the Woods

A sunny day with a brisk, cold wind, courtesy of a cold front moving through the other day. Nice day to be out.

Kate joined me for the first mile of a trail run in the woods out back. After that, she returned the way we came and I was alone with the sounds of the wind flowing through the trees accompanied by the soft thuds of my footsteps and the pants of my breath. With the trees and brush devoid of leaves, one can now easily view much deeper into the woods. I kept my eyes open for wildlife of any sort, but no such luck today.

On the way back, I explored a trail that I hadn't been on in a few years (and it didn't look like anyone else had either). Took the wrong branch of a fork and it kicked me back out on to the fire road. Drat. From there, I decided to lay down the law a little and kicked in a tempo pace for the last mile and a half. Good run over some substantially hilly (700'+ gain) and technical terrain. Really enjoyed it.

Ran 6.3 miles @ 10:05/mile.
Very hilly.
Technical trails, fire roads.
Lower to mid 30s, sunny, windy.
New Balance MT110, long tights, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Melancholy Niner

Heavy hearts in our house. We had to put down one of our cats, M, yesterday. Sad time for me, but an especially sad time for Kate, as he was more her cat and with her for the past 15 1/2 years. It was time though and I'm thankful knowing that he had a very good life and also brought a lot of joy to Kate.

So, that was on my mind a bit during this morning's run. But I also though of happier things, like the batch of homebrew I'm going ingredient shopping for today and will make tomorrow (a Christmas Ale), the Gator/FSU game this afternoon, Christmas being about a month away, snowshoe racing, pond hockey and the upcoming Boston training cycle. It was an ideal way to let the mind wander, which is what I needed and also what mellow runs like this are really, really good for. I think every runner can relate to that.

Ran 9.2 miles @ 8:19/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Moderately hilly.
Lower 40s, overcast to partly cloudy, breezy.
Saucony Kinvara 3, shorts, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Snarky List of Things I'm Thankful For

Facebook, Twitter, et all are all abuzz of things folks are thankful for. It seems like most of them are the garden variety So thankful for my friends, family, health... Hey, me too! I don't need a day to remind me of that. I'm grateful every day to be married to a my kick arse wife, been raised by awesome parents, have awesome family and equally incredible friends. Why not use this day to dig a little deeper and think of some other things you are really thankful for? C'mon, be honest. Even if it is selfish.

Here are mine:
- I'm thankful for the several folks who warned me with a healthy dose of smugness of how hard the 40-44 age group would be compared to the thirties. Yeah, screw you. Since turning 40 last May, I've placed second in my age group at a marathon and a half marathon. I also won my age group at the Scuffle 6-mile Trail race. I even outright won a 5K. That's more awards than I've probably ever won in the rest of my life combined. Thanks for giving me the incentive to kick some arse. I'm not done yet.

- Society jokes about how many folks don't like their in-laws. There's probably a good reason for that. I'm thankful that doesn't apply to me. I love my in-laws. They rock! They're here with us now for Thanksgiving and we're having a blast (and no, they'll probably never even see this).

- I'm thankful for my current streak of Boston Marathon qualifications. This April will be my third Boston. I'm already qualified for 2014. After years of having it stuck in my craw that I hadn't qualified and didn't think I'd ever really be good enough, I appreciate every single bit of it.

- I'm thankful that I have a job that I sincerely look forward to going to just about every single day. Teaching, guiding and mentoring high school students is hard work but even more fulfilling. I'll include coaching cross country with that as well.

There's more, but those are some of the bigger ones that come to mind right off the bat. Oh yeah, check out the apple pie I baked last night. Hopefully there'll be room for it after all of the turkey, stuffing, and everything else!

Mmmm, apple pie.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Ran 4.2 miles @ 8:44/mile pace. 
Paved roads. 
Mostly flat. 
Upper 30s, sunny. 
Saucony Kinvara 3, shorts, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Eve and Homebrew

Just a short and easy 5K run around the hood today. Tempting to do more, but I'm trying to play the ramp-up smart and I'm already on a good track for the next step up. Legs are feeling super though. Also a lot to do today, primarily getting the house (and kitchen) in order for tomorrow. Kate's parents arrive this evening, looking forward to a fun Thanksgiving at home.

On a homebrew note, we'll be cracking open a most excellent Kölsch to go with the Turkey Day feast tomorrow. We also test sampled the amber jalapeño beer last night (aptly named "Amberpeño Ale"). I was blown away. Thankfully, the jalapeños aren't overpowering at all. Present, but quite subtle and a really nice addition. Though the beer won't be mature for another few weeks, we just might have to crack open a few bottles tomorrow as well. Past two batches have been brewed using all grain and no extracts. Takes longer, but definitely makes a big difference.

From a few weeks ago: Adding hops to the wort. 
Ran 3.1 miles @ 8:29/mile pace. 
Paved roads. 
Slightly hilly. 
Upper 30s, overcast. 
Brooks Mach 13, shorts, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Back Cove With the Gang

Though today is Tuesday, it's really my Friday since I have the next three days off for Thanksgiving. What finer way to kick off the holiday then a run with good friends? Ran with Ryan, Ian, Blaine, Mindy, Zak and Sean at the Back Cove.

Nice, relaxed pace and fun to socialize with everyone. The lights of Portland looked really scenic reflecting off the water on the far side of the cove. And nice to now run four days in a row, something I haven't done since early October. Legs are feeling great and ready for more. Happy, happy, joy, joy.

Ryan, Blaine and I headed to the Great Lost Bear afterwards for some grub and a few drinks, but they were wicked crowded and we didn't feel like waiting 40 minutes for a table so we left. Saw a killer shooting star just before we left though, the kind that breaks up and leaves a sparkling trail in its wake. Pretty sweet.

Ran 5.2 miles @ 8:29/mile pace.
Packed trails.
Slightly hilly.
Lower 40s to upper 30s, clear skies.
Nike Waffle Racer VIII, long tights, short sleeved shirt, long sleeved shirt.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Chills and Hills

You'd think we're living in Denver right now. A month ago I forgot what the sun looked like but now it's the clouds that have been absent from the skies. Crisp, cool air to boot, so it's been perfect running weather lately.

Solid run today on a hilly route. Felt a little cold at first but once I hit the uphills after about a mile, I felt fine. Good energy and after four miles at an easy pace I let it loose on the last three. Worth mentioning those were downhill and flat miles, but still. Felt nice to let'er rip (7:04, 6:41, 6:13).

Running has been feeling great lately. I can tell I'm ready to start ramping it up here soon and can't wait. Sticking with the master plan but thankfully there's not much time before it's time.

Ran 7.1 miles @ 7:22/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Lower 40s, sunny.
Saucony Kinvara 3, shorts, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Trail Exploration

A nice treat this morning as Kate joined me for a portion of my trail run in the woods out back. She just wanted to get in a mile and a half, so after three quarters of a mile she headed back and I continued on.

I hadn't run the route I had planned in a while, and I realized halfway through that it was going to be a few miles short of the five miles I wanted to do. So, I explored some new trails and also some paths that I hadn't been on in a long while.

One trail dissolved into the woods, and after bushwacking around a bit I decided it was a lost cause and backtracked. Another trail has been closed to ATV traffic. Unfortunately, most people in my area don't venture far into the woods unless they're on something with a gas motor. As a result, there wasn't enough foot or bike traffic to make the way clear, and after getting off track a few times I headed back to the main path again. It's always fun to explore, one of the reasons why I love trail running. Great way to spend part of the morning. Perfect late autumn weather, to boot.

A mere 21.6 miles for the week. Last week was 21.3. The week before that, just 20.6. Nice. Just as I planned. It feels weird not doing a lot of mileage and also nothing very intense, but that'll change soon enough. I'll probably get close to 30 this upcoming week, and tack on 5-10 miles a week through December until I'm up to ~60/week. Then I'll introduce the intensity more regularly and be in full I'm-gonna-get-you-Boston mode. Bring it!!!

Ran 5.0 miles @ 11:14 (includes several where-the-#%&@-am-I stops and slow downs).
Very hilly.
Upper 30s to lower 40s, sunny.
Nike Waffle Racer VIII, shorts, windbreaker (shed after 1.5 miles), short sleeved shirt, long sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Land of Pine

Fun run at Pineland today and it demonstrated how out of touch I am with my running senses. Myself, Ian and Zak are all undergoing chill out periods before ramping up for what's next. I think we all knew we were going a bit fast but wrote off the effort as being relatively out of shape (or in Ian's case, recovering from a trail marathon two weeks ago).

Low and behold when we ended the run and I looked at the pace for the first time, it turns out we were indeed going relatively fast. I would have guessed our pace at 8:50/mile but it was actually just over 8:00/mile, which was a fun surprise to see. I think it's safe to say that Pineland is about a minute slower per mile than roads with an equal effort, so nice to get in a decent moderate pace. 

Lot's of others out running today as well. Ran with a new person in our group, Jeannie, for quite a bit. She's a really strong runner and just moved here with her significant other (forget his name, unfortunately) from Tennessee. Both really nice folks. 

Afterwards, Ian and I had coffee and breakfast sandwiches at the visitor's center while waiting for Emma to finish her run. Julia joined us for a bit as well. Nice end to the morning. Now I'm ready for an afternoon nap. 

Ran 7.8 miles @ 8:01/mile pace. 
Moderately hilly. 
Upper 20s to mid 30s, sunny. 
New Balance MT110, long tights, windbreaker (shed after a few miles), short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012


I didn't want my legs to forget what a faster pace felt like so I did a very light track workout to give them some turnover.

Warmed up for a few miles then did five 400M repeats on the track. Hard to quantify these things, but I'd say ~80-85% effort is probably accurate, so pretty light. Felt great. Running fast is simply fun.

My Brooks Mach 13 flats now have 460+ miles on them. Might have to retire them soon. They just feel a bit tired and worn out. My other flats are Nike Waffle Racers but they don't exactly fit me very well and are also a bit too knobby of a tread for anything on the road. Not bad for shorter trail runs though. Will have to keep my eyes on Running Warehouse for a good pair on sale.

w/u: Ran 2.0 miles @ 8:05/mile pace.
5 X 400M @ 80-85% effort w/ 2:00 static rest. 1:25, 1:21, 1:20, 1:19, 1:19.
c/d: Ran 1.5 miles @ 8:03/mile pace.
Paved roads (w/u and c/d), track.
Slightly hilly (w/u and c/d).
Lower 40s, sunny.
Brooks Mach 13, shorts, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

L'esprit Vide

There are few things more aggravating than pulling into the parking lot at work and realizing that you forgot to pack your running shoes. 

Because of the small window that I had to run today, the track workout will have to wait until tomorrow. No time during the day to retrieve said shoes. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Dead Owls

Just a slow and short out and back along Rt. 5. Legs felt great, despite the run up Ossipee yesterday. Still, kept the pace very pedestrian.

Saw a dead northern saw-whet owl by the side of the road. Poor little guy. I've heard them at night before but had never seen one in the wild, until now. I don't think dead ones count as official sightings though. If they do, it's certainly not as exciting.

Ran 4.1 miles @ 8:39/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Mostly flat.
Upper 40s to lower 50s, sunny.
Merrell Bare Access, shorts, long sleeved shirt, cap.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Ossipee Hill and Writing

Hit the local mountain this morning, running an out and back to Ossipee Hill. Given how I've been feeling lately, I figured I could do this run without any difficulty and I was glad I was right. It's official: a lot of the rust is now off, my legs are recovered and they feel primed for a ramp-up to a rigorous training cycle for Boston, which will begin in December.

Perfect running weather and a great day to be out. No hunting allowed on Sundays, but I kept an eye out for poachers nonetheless and was dressed in bright colors (notably the vibrant orange gloves, courtesy of volunteering at the Craig Cup). I've heard too many friends report hunters for poaching or trespassing in non-hunting areas this season, so best to be very careful. Thankfully no incidents though. Just a nice day in the woods. 

Did the usual climb up the firetower and saw the ocean and the White Mountains. Too hazy/cloudy to see the Presidentials though. Let the wind dry off my sweat but started to head down before I got too cold, and I had a nice gallop back home. 

Thought a lot about the current writing project while I ran. Getting married over the summer was obviously a pretty big life change, though one for the better obviously. With that, the start of the school year, cross country season and training for MDI, I just didn't seem to have much time for other projects. However, I also really hoped that my writing wouldn't be like exercise is for most people: something you want to do and feel like you should be doing but just never seem to have the time. 

But not having as much on my plate obviously makes doing projects easier, and that's the case now. The school year and married life have reached cruising altitude. Cross country season is over. Boston training doesn't begin for another month but even when it does, it shouldn't impact things too much. 

As a result of the above, I've picked back up on a story (horror/suspense) I had began working on earlier this year. I've read through what I've wrote and decided that I really like it. I rewrote the outline all the way to the ending, and the actual writing is going great. I feel like I have a rhythm going and most importantly, I'm having fun doing it. Not to get too corny here, but running obviously provides a nice physical outlet. I think it's just as important to have a creative one as well. Glad I've got mine going again!
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Ran 11.1 miles @ 8:59/mile pace. 
Paved roads, dirt roads, jeep roads, trails. 
Extremely hilly. 
Lower to mid 40s, overcast. 
Saucony Kinvara 3, shorts, short sleeved shirt, long sleeved shirt, beanie (off and on), gloves.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Alleviating Guilt

Took the past two days off. Wednesday, I gave some errands precedence but yesterday my actions transformed me into a hypocritical moron... it was cold and raining out, and I didn't feel like running in that kind of weather. This after I raved on Tuesday's blog post about how much I love running in cold weather. Normally, that's true. Yesterday, it wasn't. I instead used this being a chill-out month as an excuse to come home, crawl into bed and read Dan Simmons's Endymion. For what it's worth, it's the third book in his Hyperion series, a highly recommended read if you enjoy nerdy, intelligent, existential science fiction.

So with that, I sought to alleviate some guilt today by running a hilly seven mile route. It went really well. Legs didn't feel too rusty. Very enjoyable, aside from the old lady who nearly hit me with her SUV.

It's time to start creeping the mileage up some. Kind of a ramp-up to the ramp-up, though that sounds (and probably is) redundant.

Ran 7.1 miles @ 7:47/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
50 degrees, sunny.
Saucony Kinvara 3, shorts, long sleeved shirt.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Cold Snap!

I absolutely love running in colder weather. For one, I'm pretty comfortable with it. My races and training runs have also told me I run faster in the cold and the antithesis is also true... I don't do as well in hot weather and tend to overheat rather easily.

Today it was nice and chilly, so after I voted and swung by the Hannaford for a few things Kate and I forgot to pick up the other day, I changed and set out for a run on my 5K route. The legs felt pretty spry and the refrigerated air running over the bare skin of my face and legs felt great. Really enjoyable.

December will be here quickly. I hope to have a training plan for Boston mapped out by then. Will focus on being more regimented and disciplined this time around. I really, really want to go after that sub-3 and think it's within my realm, but talk is cheap. In the meantime, will continue to keep the mileage low while keeping my sanity.

Ran 3.1 miles @ 7:26/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Upper 30s, sunny.
Saucony Kinvara 3, shorts, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, gloves.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Trail Run and Trail Maintenance at the Brad

A fun day at Bradbury Mountain today. I hit the trails with Mindy and Dora for a little over five and a half miles. We kept the pace easy and there was no shortage of conversation which focused a lot on education, literature and film. Both Mindy and Dora are super cool and intelligent women, so it was naturally a blast. Glad we were able to run together again.

As we ran back to the parking lot, several others had arrived for some planned maintenance work. Kate, Amy and I cleared the Summit Trail. We primarily raked the trail, which might sound kind of silly but wet foilage on rocks and roots can make things quite slippery, which is of special concern for families hiking with small children, which there was a lot of today. Besides, the trail looked great after we were done with it! I should have taken a picture. 

Afterwards, Kate and I took care of some shopping at LL Bean and then hit Gritty's for lunch before heading home. Fun day. 

Ran 5.7 miles @ 13:27/mile pace. 
Extremely hilly. 
Mid 40s, sunny. 
New Balance MT110, shorts, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt. 

Friday, November 02, 2012

A Haiku

A short run today.
Ran a mix of roads and trails.
It was fun, ya know?

Ran 2.4 miles @ 8:53/mile pace.
Paved roads, trails.
Slightly hilly.
Lower 50s, overcast.
Merrell Bare Access, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Thursday, November 01, 2012


I actually felt like a runner today. Only felt a little bit of rust and my legs appeared to be much less confused. Good hills on this route as well. Sweet.

Was going to take tomorrow off but I think it would be prudent to compromise a bit and get in a short 2-3 miler, just to keep the momentum moving forward. It'll be hard to draw the line in keeping my mileage low this month, but giving the body a break while also making myself chomp at the bit for December is a good thing. 

Ran 5.5 miles @ 7:38/mile pace. 
Paved roads. 
Very hilly. 
Mid 50s, sunny. 
Saucony Kinvara 3, shorts, long sleeved shirt, cap. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


In the spirit of Halloween, something that's a bit scary is how much rust one accumulates after taking nine days off. Not worried though. Tis normal, especially when the marathon was about two weeks ago. Some light residual coughing still, but it's nothing bad at all and I'm otherwise officially over that ugly cold/flu virus thingy. 

Nice and easy. No rushing it on the pace. Could have went longer, but figured four was good for today.  Short runs on tap for the rest of the week and will probably make Friday another rest day. Next week, runs a touch longer and will incorporate some stride work. Starting next week, should be okay to get in the goal 20-30 miles a week of light running through November and then will begin ramping things up for Boston. 

Ran 4.0 miles @ 8:39/mile pace. 
Paved roads. 
Slightly hilly. 
Upper 50s, overcast. 
Brooks Mach 13, shorts, short sleeved shirt. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Rust, Sandy and Venison Chili

It's been a long nine days... a nasty cold virus moved to my lungs and was the source of regular coughing fits that happened for several days. The nasty deep down congested kind of coughing, to boot. Running just would have been stupid, especially since I'm in a recovery-followed-by-long-term-rest period anyway. I was worried I might have bronchitis, but just as I was getting to the point to where I was ready to call the doctor, I started getting better.

So, today I felt good enough for a short and slow run. Yeah, the outer fringes of Hurricane Sandy are hitting us, but I really wanted to go for a run, despite the wind gusts close to 50 mph at the time. No big deal, just kept a sharper eye on the cars and the trees.

Felt really rusty. I think my legs were confused. It felt unusually hard, but that's totally to be expected after nine days off. However, at the same time it felt great. Giving the legs some turnover while feeling Mother Nature's wrath as the wind whipped light rain in my face... it was freedom. I loved it.

Got home and showered, and shortly thereafter our power went out for about 2.5 hours, thanks to a tree falling on the power lines about a quarter of a mile down the road. It's back on now, and hopefully it'll stay that way. But while it was out, Kate and I were well prepared and we made a killer venison chili for dinner under the light of kerosene lamps. It ruled.

Adjusting the wicks on the lamps. 

Cooking sans electricity. 

The final product: a most delicious venison chili. 
Recipe for the chili, if anyone is interested. 

Ran 3.1 miles @ 7:58/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 50s, overcast, light rain, very windy.
Saucony Kinvara 3, shorts, long sleeved shirt.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Virus Redux

Started feeling a pretty moderate head cold last week. All I could think was thank goodness it didn't hit until after the marathon. The heat at Boston and the stomach flu at Sugarloaf were the result of horrible timing with the forces of nature, but this time it's nearly the opposite: got a head cold a few weeks before the marathon, it went away, and now that the race is over, it's back for a visit and stronger than before. Everything feel into place this time around, for which I'm grateful.

Unfortunately though, the head cold is moving to my lungs. That sucks because I reeeeeeeeeeally want to go for a run, even if it's just for a few miles. But eyes on the forest, not the trees. Now is a really good time to be sick, as far as running is concerned.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Running With Zak

Long day today, and it started with the regional cross country meet. Our girls team advanced to states for the first time since 2003 which is very exciting. The boys team ran well, but the competition was tough and we've been missing our number two runner all season due to injury. Very proud of how well they ran today though.

Afterwards, I headed over to the Big Brad Ultras to help out. Several said my efforts would be best spent by pacing my friend Zak. I was intrigued, but expressed grave concerns about running 15.5 miles not even a week out from my marathon. I compromised though and offered to run the last six.

That turned out to be great. It was awesome to see some of this beautiful and tough course first hand and help a good friend out. Zak was running super strong though and only picked up steam with each passing mile. Seriously. He came in mile 44 looking great and only left an increasingly hotter blaze of fire in his wake. On the downhills, I had a hard time keeping up, and it had nothing to do with my marathon last weekend... my legs felt fine... Zak was just that fast.

Zak's strong and smart running paid dividends: He came in second place. 'Nuff said.

Aiming to run four times next week for a total of somewhere between 15-20 miles. This blog might be relatively boring for a while, so apologies in advance.

Ran 6.0 miles @ ~11:30/mile pace.
Technical trails.
Extremely hilly.
Lower 60s, foggy, humid.
New Balance MT110, long sleeved shirt, shorts, cap.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Small Shakedown

Allowed myself a couple of miles today, broken up in two parts: joined the cross country team for part of their warm-up and then I got in a short run on the trails afterwards.

Legs feel surprisingly great. Even the day after the marathon, I was surprised at how well my legs absorbed the race. Walking down stairs made the quads bark a little, but it was nothing that bad at all. I've never felt this good after a road marathon, despite it being a PR. Pretty sweet.

Still will be doing very light mileage until December. I'm sure I'll enjoy it for a few weeks but after that I'm going to start going nuts, especially when cross country season ends. However, I'll still do everything I can to adhere to not doing too much to give the body a break. If I can remain patient then I'll just be all the more motivated for Boston when the time comes to start ramping things up.

Speaking of which, I've already been bouncing off some thoughts with a few friends for training ideas. I know I'm responding really well to longer tempo runs but I'd like to do more milage as well and also be more consistant. Sub-3 seems closer to reality now, but it'll only happen if I'm smart and work my arse off.

Ran 2.0 miles @ 9:30/mile pace.
Mix of roads and trails.
Slightly hilly.
Lower 60s, sunny.
New Balance MT100, shorts, long sleeved shirt.

Monday, October 15, 2012

2012 Mount Desert Island Race Report

The alarm went off at 4:25am and I got in a solid eight hours of sleep. Bagel, banana and coffee for breakfast as I scanned the weather reports. No changes. Cool temperatures, rain and wind were still on tap for the day and the headwind in the final, super hilly 10K was of the biggest concern. The rain I was fine with. The cool temps were welcome.

Kate, her folks and I drove over from Brewer and arrived an hour before the start. Plenty of time for final bathroom stops, saying hello to friends, meeting new people and doing some warm-up exercises. The rain was holding off for now which made moving around easier. I was prepared for it when it came though and had applied so much Bodyglide that I'm surprised my shorts didn't fall off.

Myself, Matt, Ty and Eric during the National Anthem
It soon became time to line-up. I was with Ty T., Eric M. and Matt H. at the start line and we chatted together and shared strategies. Race announcements were given, the National Anthem played and then AC/DC's Thunderstruck blared through the speakers as the fuse to the starting cannon sizzled and smoked. Fingers on the start buttons of our watches as we watched the fuse burned down towards its base. As always, the energy in the air in those closing seconds before the start is intense with excitement, anticipation and a healthy dose of nervousness. Then the cannon fires. BOOM!!! It all disappears and we're off.

Kate's video of the entire start

Miles 1-5
Ty and I had planned to do around 7:10/mile until we turned on to Cooksey Drive (at around 10K) and then let the pace fall after we were warmed up. However, there were others with us, and starting at about mile three their pace slipped about twenty seconds slower than planned so I moved ahead alone.

The rain had started and puffs of wind were felt. Raw day for sure. The cold temps (42F/6C) along with the rain definitely made it more difficult for the muscles to warm-up. However, by mile three my splits were now down to around 7:00/mile and would stay there for a while.

Miles 5-10
I continued running alone but there were other runners in the vicinity, so I hadn't entered No Man's Land just yet. Made my way on to Cooksey Drive, a curvy narrow road lined with luxurious mansions along the coast. These large, extravagant houses always seem vacant; mere trophies for the rich who likely only visit them a few weeks out of the year. What a waste.

Pace felt good and the splits were holding pretty steady... just above 7:00/mile for this section. I knew then that this is what I would be more or less holding. I was fine with that, as getting under 3:10 and hopefully winning an AG award were the main goals for the day.

Saw Kate and my mother and father in-law at Seal Harbor. Ditched my gloves and threw them at Kate. My hands were warm but my leg muscles felt slightly tight from the cold and rain. Sometimes it was my quads. Sometimes it was my hamstrings. At times, my calves. Not cramping, just feeling tight from the cold and rain. This would continue throughout the race. Thankfully, it never turned into an issue.

Shortly after Seal Harbor, Kate and my in-laws drove alongside me blasting Skrillex's "Bangarang" to keep me going. That ruled. I had the song going through my head for most of the race and it really helped.

Miles 11-15
Approaching Northeast Harbor, I linked up with a Boston runner named Cyrus for a bit. Nice guy and this was his first time running MDI. He asked about the hills, and I told him we were on the tamest sections of the course and advised him that he might want to save something for that final wave of big hills in the last 10K. He soon dropped back, but I would see him again.

Northeast Harbor
Saw Kate and my in-laws again in Northeast Harbor, which was another good boost. This is a big spectator spot and the crowds were really supportive. I love feeding off of that energy.

Past the crowds now and I remember a steady light rain falling and feeling more wind gusts at spots. This is the fastest section of the course and my splits showed it, four of them under 7:00/mile.

As we twisted and turned through a neighborhood I heard footsteps behind me and I had a guess at who it was. I turned around to see if my hunch was right and it was: Ty! Per our strategizing the day before, I figured he would catch up to me at this point and it played out as if right out of a textbook. Sweet. I waved for him to continue to catch up and he replied to hold my pace and he'd soon be there.

My plan was now to ride his shoulder as long as I felt was comfortably possible. Ty is a stronger runner than me, however he was having knee issues and that would later slow him down. Still, he pulled me along nicely for the middle miles here and his company was most welcome.

We crossed the halfway point in 1:32:18, my fastest time at this point yet. With that time in mind, I began to surmise a realistic finishing time in my head. I knew I'd slow down some on the final hills, but I figured coming in 3:07:XX was very realistic, so that was now the goal.

Ty and I then reached Sargent Drive. We continued to work together here, giving each other words of encouragement and pulling one another along with the very scenic Somes Sound to our left. The scenery during this race is top notch, even in bad weather.

Miles 15-20
We trucked along and reached the turn on to 198. Starting to feel tired here but kept the pace up. Shortly after the turn, some moron driver with Illinois license plates pulled a three point turn and nearly took out a runner about 100 feet ahead of us. I shouted some choice words at the driver as we passed. The anger from the incident gave me a burst of energy though and I used it.

The course hits a side street (Butler Road) and comes back out on 198. Soon after that, there's a short but very steep hill that is a real bitch to climb. It serves as a gruesome reminder that there are more hills ahead. It was around here that I began to pull ahead of Ty and I would be running alone for the duration. I turned onto Rt. 102 and the final 10K, and that really tough section of hills, was about to begin.

Miles 20-25

As expected, my pace began to slow. I felt the headwind at times but thankfully it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I can't say the same with the hills. I think of them as coming in three waves separated by plateaus and I just plowed upward as best as I could. The splits for miles 22-24 were particularly atrocious compared to what I was running earlier, hitting them in 7:54, 7:43 and 8:20 respectively.

That mile 24 is especially cruel, featuring the sharpest hill of the section. But if there's a bright side to it, the mile marker is right after the top of that climb and once you're up that, the worst is over and you're home free. The pace picks back up after that, and then there is one more shorter climb that bends to the right. You can see the Top of the Hill Restaraunt sign from there and then it's a very welcome downhill towards the finish, so long as your quads are still in good shape. I rejoiced when I reached the sign and calculated my splits again. I lost a lot of time on the hills and I'd have to move if I was going to come in under 3:08.

Final 1.2
Cruised on the downhill and then it flattened out. Many large puddles to dodge. Soon reached that final small uphill that in reality is a mere speed bump at best, but at this stage of the race it seems no better than the hill at mile 24.

Crested the hill and the finish line was in sight a few hundred yards ahead. Around that time, I heard footsteps coming up from behind. It was Cyrus, the guy I had run with just before Northeast Harbor. He passed me with ease and I didn't bother to give any real chase. His kick was way too strong and efficient and I knew I wouldn't catch him, but it was still incentive to pick it up. I talked to him afterwards and he said that he heeded my advice to save something for the hills and that helped him out a lot. Drat, that might have cost me a placing but I knew he wasn't in my age group and plus he was a really nice guy, so I really don't mind all that much.

Finish line getting closer now and I heard Kate yelling for me to keep it going and gave whatever I had left, my eyes locked on the finishing clock as it ticked towards 3:08. I began pumping my fists when I knew I'd break it and I cruised in at 3:07:58. As I did so, Gary swooped over with a big smile and slapped me five as I crossed, which was really nice of him. It ended up being a PR of four minutes and 11 seconds, which is pretty substancial for me at this stage. Stoked!

The finish, angle one: tired, sloppy form is quite apparent

The finish, angle two: head-on and all smiles

Post Race

That post-race feeling of awesomeness

Sweet granite trophy for 2nd place in the 40-44 division

Spoils of the race: A free barley soda and the AG award
Kate soon came over as well as my in-laws and gave me hugs, despite being drenched from the rain. I quickly changed out of my soaking wet clothes and then checked the results. All computerized this year, and a really nice guy working the timing for the race gave me my stats and I learned I got second in my age group. To me, that was huge. Reason being was I'd never won an AG award in a marathon before and doing so always seemed so far out of reach. I knew I had a very good shot at correcting that today and it happened. I was given a really nice granite trophy and have to admit I got a little choked up as I held it in my hands. 

Went over to the beer/food tent and and had a barley soda and the traditional pulled pork sandwich with Kate, her folks and fellow Trail Monster Al. He ran a really smart race and finished in 3:14:33, my exact time two years ago. Really stoked for him as well as several other friends who seemed to all run really well today. Thankfully, the weather wasn't as big of an issue for most folks, including Louis Luchini who broke the course record he set a few years ago, despite having to stop for a bio-break. Stacked race as well, with the top 15 all breaking three hours.

I thought I paced myself really smart overall, especially considering that I felt a bit undertrained for this race and I also had a light head cold going on. With that, it's hard not to be really, really happy with a pretty big PR. It could be argued that I should maybe slow it down a little in the first 20 miles to leave more in the tank for the hills in the final 10K and though I could be wrong, I suspect it wouldn't make that much of a difference. I think it'd all even out in the end because those hills are really killer. Perhaps more hill repeats could help though.

Worth noting that I made it a point to take more Gu than ever before. Took one 15 minutes before the race start and then again around miles 6, 12, 16 and 21. That's five total, two more than I've ever used before. I think it helped.

This is a great springboard for Boston, both mentally and physically. Boston can be a faster course but I really need to focus on strengthening my quads. I'll add downhill drills and maybe even strength training to correct that for April. Could bring my PR down substantially lower again if all goes as planned.

But for now, my race reason is over for the year. As I have done the past two years, it's time to give the mind and body a break. Really light mileage from now until December, like only 20-30 miles a week and mostly all easy paced. Then in December, the mileage starts to ramp up so I can hit it hard when the new year rolls around in preparation for Boston.

Speaking of Boston, another nice benefit of today is that not only did I qualify for 2014, but I'll also be able to register in the first week when it opens since I broke my BQ time (3:15:00) by more than five minutes. Additionally, I can resubmit the time from this race and get myself a lower seed for 2013. Sweet.

And last but certainly not least, Kate was super supportive both before, during and after the race. She knows how much running means to me and it showed. Really appreciate her support as well as my inlaws. Cheering somebody on in crappy weather and never complaining one bit is not something I take for granted. I married the right woman for sure!

Splits (taken maunally at each mile marker):

1 - 7:09
2 - 7:11
3 - 7:03
4 - 6:58
5 - 6:58
6 - 7:03* - average of mile 6 and 7, forgot to hit lap button
7 - 7:03* - average of mile 6 and 7, forgot to hit lap button
8 - 6:58
9 - 7:03
10 - 7:08
11 - 7:02
12 - 7:03
13 - 6:48
14 - 6:54
15 - 6:50
16 - 6:58
17 - 7:06
18 - 6:58
19 - 7:06
20 - 7:02
21 - 7:16
22 - 7:54
23 - 7:43
24 - 8:14
25 - 7:27
26- 7:17
Last .2 - 6:46/mile pace.

Ran 26.2 miles @ 7:11/mile pace.
Official time: 3:07:58
Official place: 24th out of ??
Age group (40-44): 2nd out of 46
Paved roads.
Extremely hilly.
Lower to mid 40s, overcast, light rain, breezy.
Saucony Kinvara 3, shorts, singlet, gloves (shed at mile 8)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

New PR at the MDI Marathon

Full report in the next few days, but I ran 3:07:58 for a PR, came in 24th place overall and got 2nd in my age group. Beat my old PR by 4:11. Really, really pumped, especially with the AG award. I've never gotten one in a marathon before and it meant a lot to me.

More later...

Saturday, October 13, 2012

MDI Marathon Eve

Checked in at the expo and am ready to go. Nice to run into Bob D., Ty T., Eric M. and Peter K. while I was there. Was strategizing with Ty and it looks like I'll be riding his shoulder for at least the first 10k. I was very happy to learn that his plan mirrored mine... take the first 10k relatively conservative to warm-up and also not burn as much mojo on that first wave of big hills. Once on Cooksey Drive, the pace drops and look out below. 

The weather forecast looks pretty raw. Windy, cool and rainy. Of the elements, the wind will by far be the biggest challenge. As Judson noted, it will be in our faces for the other big wave of hills at the end (as well as other sections of the course). That'll be tough, but so be it. I thought I handled it well last year when it was pretty similar. Not pleasant, but you just hunker in and bulldog your way through it. 

Ran today also. After I checked in at the expo I headed over to Eagle Lake for a couple of miles on the carriage trails. Pretty uneventful, other than the legs feeling very spry and ready to go. Just have to play things smart tomorrow and there's no reason why I shouldn't have a great race. Am taking extra measures diet wise to help ensure my stomach behaves tomorrow. I don't want a repeat of what happened at the Bruiser. 

Ran 2.1 miles @ 8:01/mile pace. 
Carriage trails. 
Mostly flat. 
Mid 40s, sunny, windy. 
Brooks Mach 13, shorts, long sleeved shirt. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Nice and Slow

Easy three miler after cross country practice. Pretty uneventful, aside from the sun being out for once but a stiff, autumn wind was blowing and that made things chilly standing around timing the kids during their workout.

All systems go for Sunday. Taking tomorrow off. As tradition dictates, I'll do 2-3 miles on Saturday after I check in at the expo. Will probably hit Eagle Lake. Then it's game time Sunday morning. There's a pretty good chance of rain, but anything is better than the heat after last spring and summer. I still haven't forgotten. I don't mind rain so long as it's cool out (which it will be).

Ran 3.1 miles @ 8:11/mile pace.
Paved road.
Slightly hilly.
Lower 50s, partly cloudy, breezy.
Saucony Kinvara 3, shorts, long sleeved shirt.