Sunday, December 20, 2020


 I'm in physical therapy for my hamstrings and lower back. Running is very limited. Pretty boring and not worth spinning things into anything more.

Back on blogging hiatus until things are deemed somewhat more exciting. 

Monday, November 30, 2020

Physical Therapy

 Last Friday opened new doors of hope and optimism in getting a better handle on my chronically and debilitatingly tight hamstrings and that troublesome left heel. I met with my new orthopedic doc and it went very well. She's great and an athlete herself. She referred me to a sports physical therapy clinic and also wants an MRI done on my left heel to rule out a stress fracture, just to be sure. 

Very happy with the path I'm going down. The physical therapy clinic is very close to the school I teach at which could be very convenient if I can schedule my appointments in the afternoons. 

After that doc appointment, I went to my in-laws house where Kate was visiting with the dogs, grabbed Moxie, and hit the Bangor City Forest for a run. Went well, all things considered. 

Monsoon expected the next two days and I will play running by ear. 

Friday, November 27, 2020

Touch & Go With Sprinkles of Hope

 Well, after my last post, I had a very successful and fun run with Moxie up Eagle Mountain. My hamstrings were in a state of stark contrast to previous days where they were pretty tight and I was able to fully enjoy the run as a result. 

About this mountain: I live in a very rural area full of a crazy amount of off-the-beaten-path places to explore and Eagle Mountain is one such hidden gem. We parked just off the Stud Mill Road, a major artery logging road that runs to Canada. From there, we ran up an offshoot logging road for nearly three miles before taking the path the last three tenths of a mile to the top where there is a great overlook that faces east. 

Since that run however, my legs have felt pretty tight. Along with a busy schedule, the motivation took a bit of a dip. I did take both dogs for a very easy two mile run though earlier in the week. 

Then, with snow falling on Wednesday, I took the new Nanospikes out for a three mile spin. They work great! The front of the right foot kept sliding to the outside for the first few miles, but lessened as the run went on, so I think they just needed to be broken in a bit. They're great though. Perfect for slippery roads and other conditions where Microspikes might be too much but something is still needed... a very common scenario. 

And shifting gears... today I see the orthopedic sports doc, which I'm pretty excited about. It'll be nice to (hopefully) have better direction with loosening up the hamstrings. More on that after my appointment. 

Saturday, November 21, 2020


 Pretty minimal running this week. I hate to admit it, but after a few months of gradual progress, my hamstrings have taken a few steps backwards and have felt pretty tight. If they were at their worst with a rating of 10 last summer, they are probably now at a six or seven, as opposed to the three they were at just a few weeks ago. 

A busier week with work was either a blessing or a curse, leaving little time to run but more time to let them chill out as a result. The only bad thing is over the past year resting them does absolutely nothing to get them to loosen up. 

This all being said, I have gotten out a few times so far this week. I ran the dogs for a few miles earlier this week, and then dropped them off and did a little over three miles at a sub eight minute mile pace on my own. That 7:46/mile felt like a legit tempo run. So out of shape. Yesterday, I took the dogs for a hike up Chick Hill, which is just under three miles. 

I'll take Moxie out for another run at some point over the weekend. We'll see how it goes. However, I do have an appointment with an orthopedic doctor on Friday. It sounds like she has a solid reputation. At least there is hope. A silver bullet would be great of course, but regardless, I'm optimistic that a game plan can be developed with identifying the issue and coming up with a remedy. 

Monday, November 16, 2020

Adjustments, Chicken and Waffles

 The double digit run on Saturday never happened. After the first few miles, it became apparent that more than ten would be too much. The hamstrings weren't having the best day and my energy was a bit down, so I settled for 10k. I don't think it was a setback. Just an off day.  

On Sunday, I spent the morning at one of the two rivers in my county that are open year round for fishing. Both suck. Seriously. One of the things I miss about southern Maine is the abundance of rivers that are open every month of the year, and though they are filled with mostly stockies, they are still great fishing. So yeah, I got skunked. Will travel to another river a few counties over this weekend that should hopefully produce better results. I need to check off November still. 

Came home and took the dogs for a run, a form of procrastination from doing grading. Just under three miles, which was enough to partially satisfy our sleeker, athletic beast Moxie but more than enough to wear out little Hagrid. That got the motivation going for me afterwards, and I managed to clean the chicken coop and then get much of my grading done before making dinner for myself and Kate (who was much more disciplined with getting teaching work done). What did I make? Chicken and waffles. Mmmmm. 

Saturday, November 14, 2020


The surrealism of... well... nearly every news headline made in 2020 is well known. There was no capitulation of that this past week with our school shutting down for the second time this year for a few days because of corona popping in our district as the virus is now seemingly exploding across Maine alongside the country. The outlook for the next few months does not look optimistic for much in-person learning, I hate to say. 

That news is depressing and a bit scary, but at least it is balanced out somewhat with the hilariously pathetic floundering of the Orange Man and his lame-ass attempts to overturn democracy are failing left and right, which is great comic relief for us sensible people. 

And more good news is that the running continues to go well. I took Monday off and that night I had one of those wake-up-at-2am-and-can't-go-back-to-sleep events that occur every 2-3 weeks for no good reason. 

I was out the door by around 3:45am with the headlamp lighting the way for a five mile out and back along a quiet side road near my house. I always feel a sense of accomplishment when I upload these early morning runs to Strava and the default title says "Night Run". Was glad I got out. 

Naturally, I felt pleasantly tired at work that day, but that was erased in the afternoon when I learned we would be going remote for the rest of the week with that second case. We already had Veteran's Day off, which unexpectedly turned into a day to get new tires put on my truck after the old ones leaked chronically on top of being worn out. But while they were getting put on, we popped over to Acadia National Park and took the dogs for a little hike towards Witch Hole. And hey, new all terrain tires for the truck! Good deal on them to boot. Definitely a good day. 

On Thursday, I used my lunch break to get in four easy miles, and yesterday I took the pups for a two miler that ended up being a really great pace for little Hagrid! He booked it, with full support from myself and his sister, Moxie. Remote teaching is not ideal, but the flexibility is definitely pretty convenient (and the dogs love us being at home). 

Though it's Saturday, scheduling today's run will be especially tricky with Kate being away all day to help a friend with cooking meals for our members of our military, alongside various errands I have to run. Hoping for 10 miles, if I feel okay for it, but will cut it short if needed. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Pre-Dawn Contemplations

 I slept really, really well these past few nights after Biden secured the win against the Orange Man (yes folks, he won... deal with it). However, perhaps too much sleep and peace of mind woke me up early this morning. It didn't take long to come to a logical conclusion to take advantage of the early hours and go for a run. Glad I did. 

As my headlamp lit the way, I pondered the Maine Principal Association's recent decision to cancel the high school cross country championships. In short, the right call without question. During a meet last weekend where runners were required to race with masks, well... quite frankly it was a shit show. Some runners allegedly passed out, other runners were pulling their masks down either blatantly or when they thought nobody was looking, and others were playing by the rules and sucking it up and accepting a slower time. It was an experiment that definitely provided a lot of interesting insight to help make any decisions moving forward. 

Throw into the mix that Corona cases are starting to substantially rise, if not blow up, in most of Maine. The risk with that is obvious, but on top of that, a few teams wouldn't have been able to compete because of current shut downs, a few others would have incomplete teams due to quarantines, and a good handful had their seasons interrupted earlier in the year with shutdowns and weren't in top shape unlike some of the other teams. Our girls team had an outside chance of qualifying for states but that was thrown out the window when we were hit with quarantines in our district. I haven't heard of those aspects being taken into serious consideration and I can only hope that they were.

Back to the final meet of the season last Saturday... at that time, states had not yet been cancelled. I had asked a few coaches of other schools if they thought the championship should still go on. Naturally, responses varied... I'll just leave it at that. It underscored my belief that logic always rules over emotion when trying to assess these types of situations. However, like I said in my last post, I was very thankful that we at least had a partial season, even if it was a strange one. We had fun. We learned. Runners improved. It was a big success on many meaningful fronts. And as the season has ended, in a way I begin my own. As my injuries improve, so does my motivation. This morning was testament to that. I am starting to feel like a runner again. 

Monday, November 09, 2020

Another 20 Mile Week

 Yesterday saw another eight mile run to bring the weekly total up to just over 20 for the second consecutive week. It went well, with injuries continuing to fade, so Moxie and I opted for some local ATV trails that we hadn't run on in awhile. The weather was freakishly warm out, with more sweat on my brow than usual and more water stops at puddles for Moxie. 

On another note, cross country season is now over for us. I'm thankful we were able to give our kids a chance to run, even if the season looked quite different across the board. It's a lot of fun for me as well, but at the same time I'm looking forward to the extra time I'll now have. 

With that time, I'll be able to do workouts and other runs for myself, as opposed to jumping in with our athletes for whatever we had planned for them that day. The flexibility with locations will also be a big bonus. If I run around Ellsworth though, I may have to do so with a mask, where as in my tiny town I can not do so easily and pass the straight-face test alongside current state mandates. So, as of now, likely more runs from home after work gets out. 

Thursday, November 05, 2020

He Who Laughs Last

 Two days ago, the run went okay. The good news is "okay" these days would have meant "great" a few months ago, so definite progress. 

During yesterday's run, I did feel great. Hammies a non-issue and very, very minor heel pain. With any soft tissue injury, wild fluctuations are to be expected, but the range of discomfort is both narrowing and shifting towards less severity. 

It was a mere three miles at around 8:00/mile with the varsity EXC team for part of their easy run. I think it was the first time this season where I could actually hang with them and do so somewhat comfortably. I'm sure sometimes they want to be just with their peers, but it's clear they definitely enjoy the company of their coaches at times, and such was the case yesterday. Too bad that it's the final week of the season, but thankful to end the week with one of several good notes. 

Followed the run up with glute strengthening when I got home while watching the news with Biden all but securing the election while the Orange Man pathetically cried, whined and threatened with frivolous lawsuits. At least, for me, it's now finally crossing into the realm of scary to hilarious. Maybe I should consider declaring myself the winner of some key races in the past few years and sue the race directors to make it so.

Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Doctor Stuff

I finally had my appointment with my new primary care doctor this morning and I got what I had hoped for... a referral to a sports doc! They will look at my heel and tight hamstrings and hopefully come up with a game plan. 

My new PCP is really nice, as well. Younger, competent, and easy to talk to. Glad I'm finally in their system. 

After that, I went back to work. Turned out to be good timing, as my morning class went full remote because of the unexpected snowfall overnight. Business as usual with my afternoon students, including a snowman making contest during our mask break. 

Yes, the cat won. 

Ran 3.3 miles after I got home and set up the heated waterer for the chickens. Went okay... the usual issues, but not so bad where I couldn't get it done. However, there was an extra mental boost knowing that additional help is on the way. 

Monday, November 02, 2020

Six in a Row

 Pretty stoked to run six days in a row! Granted, most of those days were on the very short side, but consistency is key. There were a couple of noteworthy ones in there as well, though. 

Monday - off

Tuesday - 3.2 miles, which includes two, half-mile repeats at tempo pace. Interval work, woohoo!

Wednesday - 2.1 miles

Thursday - 2.5 miles with both dogs, easy. 

Friday - 1.3 miles

Saturday - 3.3 miles

Sunday - 8.2 miles w/ Moxie. 

Total mileage = 20.6

Hamstrings continue to show noticeable improvement. Heel is having more tolerable days, but I'm still wearing the brace off and on.  During yesterday's eight mile run with Moxie, it was off, but the heel started to show some discomfort in the last few miles. However, rather than linger, it quickly calmed down within a few hours. 

Cross country season only has a week left, which will give me an extra 20+ hours a week, making it easier to run and also manage a crazy year of teaching. It's always a bitter sweet end as coaching is so much fun, but at the same time, I welcome the extra time on my day and the Saturday's free. Will try to get in similar mileage this week.

Monday, October 26, 2020

This One's Optimistic

A promising run yesterday: 10K at a respectable pace. Though 8:48/mile felt like a bit of work, but it wasn't a struggle by any means and was totally in bounds. When in shape this would normally be an easy pace for this hilly route, so still a ways to go, but I can tell I've made a lot of progress in that direction. I am rounding the corner, which in my case is not a false, bullshit claim. 

Moxie ran with me, as she often does on the weekends. We also had a nice bonus towards the end when we came across Kate who was running a little over two miles with Hagrid. 

The PF was still aching but only very slightly, as it has been all week. The hammies a touch tight, but way looser... the biggest discomfort was sore glutes, which tells me they are likely activating and finally joining in on doing some of the work. Good signs! 

Will likely take today off from running and do a glute/core workout when I get home. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Lunch Break Run Courtesy of Corona

 I was just mentioning to Kate yesterday morning that the coronavirus appears to be creeping up the coast to Downeast, and low and behold, that afternoon we got word that a case of it popped up in our school. I am of course thinking good thoughts for those affected and am concerned for my community.

We went to remote learning for the day, which meant greater flexibility with time. In between my classes and a staff meeting was my lunch break, and I was able to get both dogs out for a run. Moxie is a natural runner. Little Hagrid, he's a natural sniffer, usually insisting on stopping every 100 feet to take in some whiffs of something good. 

He was way more focused today for whatever reason, and we got in a really fast pace for him. We also went 2.7 miles, up from the usual two miles even. For Moxie, of course, this was practically nothing but she was grateful all the same. 

So today was remote, but it's back to in-person learning tomorrow. I'm scratching my head a little at that. Actually, a lot. Granted, it was just one case and not (yet?) a community outbreak, but the CDC guidelines seem a bit... well... interesting? 

Everyone who was in contact with this person, defined by being in the same room (or on a bus) with the infected individual for more than 15 minutes must quarantine for 14 days. That part is logical, but that's also where it unfortunately ends. 

Among those in quarantine are three of my students and five of my cross country runners. Eight total. And do I have to quarantine? Nope. Allegedly, I'm good. Never mind that I was with them this week for several hours, and was on a bus with one of the runners. No, don't worry about, you're okay to return to school and be around others. Oooooookay. 

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Compacted Week

 I felt pretty good about my running for the prior week. This week? Not so much. The way the week played out just didn't make it easy, but the real culprit was poor time management on my part. 

One way to combat that is early morning runs... something I find difficult to do despite relishing in waking up early. However, whenever I do them, I am always very glad that I did. Looking at the week ahead with cross country meets on Monday and Thursday, I may have to give it strong consideration. 

Rewinding back to last week though, we had Monday off for Indigenous People's Day. I headed to a well known, if not famous, river about an hour and fifteen minutes from my house to capitalize on fly fishing the landlocked salmon run. I know this is off-topic but it's my blog and I can do what I want. 

The salmon here see A LOT of flies thrown at them and are all the wiser for it. However, I was the first person to arrive at one popular run, and on my third cast I hooked and netted a muscular 20+" salmon. The air was cold, my fingers numb, and the adrenaline was surging, so my picture sucked:

It was the only fish I caught. Talking to other fisherman confirmed that it was indeed a very difficult day, so I was extremely stoked to get that one... and it was a doozy.

The Monday off left the work-week crunched. I was only able to run once with the team, and even then it was just a mile and a half total on their warm-up and cool-down. However, yesterday, another biggish rain storm was moving through and Moxie and I got out the door in time to beat it. 

We did five miles and I opted not to wear the ankle brace. We took it especially slow, but the achilles felt a little tight afterwards but loosened up on its own. All in all, not horrible. I'll hopefully get out for a short three miler today but with the brace on this time. 

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Cooking With Gas

 A very encouraging week of running, with a total of 14.3 miles and feeling progressively better as the week went on. 

Granted, a few of the runs were very slow and easy, like the two miles with both dogs yesterday. While Moxie loves to haul ass and is built for speed, Hagrid is not. Plus, he loves to stop and sniff things every hundred feet. But, he of course loves it. 

This morning, I woke up and tied a few flies while sipping coffee. A few hours later, Moxie and I were out the door for four miles. Lot's of rust, but the hamstrings felt much looser. The plantar fasciitis has also waned considerably. The ankle brace is really helping with that. 

Still a ways to go, but this week was quite encouraging. Will continue the glute strengthening and core workouts while kicking off the rust. 

Thursday, October 08, 2020

Dangerous Riddles

 The fine line between encouraging signs and false hopes: Yesterday I ran a little over two miles with the cross country team on their warm-up. The pace was 8:21/mile, which felt at least a minute faster in my rusty state. My lack of fitness dominated my thinking throughout, which I realized afterwards was actually very good news. My tight hamstrings didn't feel as tight, my PF/heel issues were tolerable (though I was wearing the brace). 

I wondered if I would wake up today with aggravated heel pain or banjo string-hamstrings thanks to the run. I did not. Very minimal heel pain and hamstring issues that appear unaffected by yesterday. 

A good sign, but even a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day. Another case of king for a day, fool for a lifetime? Time will tell, but it's nice to have reason for cautious optimism. 

Wednesday, October 07, 2020

Balancing Acts

No bugs, colorful leaves; cool, crisp weather... many consider fall the best time of year to run. Let's rewind a bit though: Sorry if it sounds like somebody pissed in my Cheerios but we haven't had bugs in a long while thanks to the drought. The lack of rain also dried out the vegetation and many of the leaves have fallen prematurely with that first really windy day last week. The temperatures have been okay though... slightly above normal overall lately, but I personally love those damp, cold days of October where dark skies serve as a contrasting backdrop for technicolor leaves. Not so much this year. It is 2020, after all. 

I actually ran a few miles with the cross country team the other day with no repercussions with the plantar fasciitis/heel issues, or the hamstrings for that matter. I have been wearing an ankle brace for much of the day lately and also during that run. It appears to be helping, but I still have a ways to go. 

The workouts are continuing, with the focus on glutes one day day and core work the other. It's a bit tough sometimes to get them in since teaching and cross country practice make for a very long day and I often have to do at last an hour or more of work in the evenings. Balance that with wanting to spend time with Kate and the dogs and it's a bit tough and tiring, but it's been working okay so far. I've been sleeping well at nights lately as a result, at least. 

Looking forward in the shorter term, I hope to get in another run or two by the end of the week, hopefully one with the team for part of their run and another with my speedy dog, Moxie, over the weekend. Both will be short and slow, but I really hope by Christmas break I will be running somewhat regularly again. That would be great, but I'll take things as they come and adjust as needed... and am at least partially satisfied with being proactive and trying to make it happen. 

Sunday, October 04, 2020

Bald Bluff Mountain With Moxie and Hagrid

 Running is pretty tough to do, but hiking not so much. It doesn't aggravate the hamstrings as much and wearing an ankle brace helps with the plantar fasciitis. So, with Kate heading into town to run errands, I took the dogs to and headed to a local mountain called Bald Bluff. 

Coaching Cross Country

This weekend was the Festival of Champions.... normally not just the largest cross country race in the state, but the region. In the past, the event has drawn more than 1600 runners from states and provinces ranging from Rhode Island to Canada's Prince Edward Island where we converge in Belfast to compete on what many regard as the best cross country course in the area.

As you can imagine, this year was much different. Only regional teams competed, for a total of  just 120-something competitors. Varsity only and one coach on the premises at a time. No spectators allowed. Boys and girls races several hours apart. This helped maintain the state guideline of no more than 100 people for an outdoor gathering. However, our state has been fortunate enough to have competent and excellent state leadership and our corona numbers are relatively very low as a result. Most of us can see the big picture and want to keep our state safe and functional and are doing our part. 

The other coach, Louie, coached the boys team in the morning and I coached the girls in the afternoon. We had a blast! The approach this year is to put extra focus on keeping it fun and there was much laughter, joking (often at my expense), and all around positive vibes. Oh, and they ran well also. Goals were identified for this short season and the day provided a good building point moving forward. 

If you have ever considered coaching, give it a shot! Sharing the joy of running, the camaraderie, and the shenanigans make every year a blast. The championships are merely a bonus, and I'll brag a bit and mention that I have a few under my belt, including winning the state championship a few years ago, but the less competitive years are just as much fun. I mean, dude, it's running! How can it not be? Times are crazy, but I feel extremely fortunate to coach, and teach as well, and don't take for granted that I make a living helping young adults reach their potential in both the classroom and on the trails. The kids for the most part are really stoked to be back. Look closely under all of those masks and you'll see the smiles. A big part of my job is to keep them there.