Monday, December 29, 2008

Moderately Successful Test

D and I ran an easy 3 miles on the bike path this afternoon. The good news is that my calf felt fine. Seems like a week of relative rest was a good thing. I'm going to go easy on it the next few days. If all goes well, I'll ramp back up this weekend. On the downside, I was really sluggish throughout the run. I had zero energy. The most likely causes are the travel and time off...oh, and a distinct lack of Pringles over the last week. Hopefully, I'll get the zip back. Not sure what the rest of the week has in store, but I'm hoping to mix in some skiing. I do know that it is most likely not related to the 10-mile training plan...guh, that thing is out the window.

Coming soon...the exciting year-end recap.

BTW, scroll down...I'm absolutely crushing it.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Time to Detox

Since we last left our hero (um...that's me), I was curious about my calf. Well, it's about the same. Or, it's more accurate to say that it is indeed a calf strain, and I haven't run in almost a week. I tried one day, but made it about 50 yards before experience told me not to push it. So, more rest and massage and it should be good to go. But, really, I need to figure out why I've had 3 calf strains in 6 months.

I already knew that this week would be a down one from a running standpoint, but I didn't plan on it being this down. But, aside from the calf, it was a great few days with two Christmases: one with my family in Massachusetts and one with D's parents in North Carolina. Here's a photo recap of the festivities:

This is before I battled with Obi Wan:


Javatinis! (Made by me...even melted the chocolate.)


My sister enjoying the deliciousness:


Family shot in North Carolina:


Golf is serious business:


Absolutely crushing it:


Looked so pretty it should have gone in:


Festiveness:






A pause on the course to take a shot with one of our groupies:

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Ho Ho Ho

I couldn't think of anything more original. But, it's the thought that counts, so Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays and whatnot.

On the running front, I ran a not quite 8-mile loop on the roads yesterday, and my right calf did not react well. Not a full on calf strain, but it's close. I'm pretty certain it's a combination of a number of factors including the addition of skiing and a lack of focused stretching. Luckily, this was expected to be a down week running-wise. I took today off as a precaution, and tomorrow I'll do the same. Further assessment as the week goes on.

And now, Christmas & mullets:

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Snow Day!

Got the chance to ski today. Well, it was for work. This is what it looked like:



I had to show the goods for the official work blog. What can I say? It's my job.

Skating was not the best choice with all the new snow. It made it significantly more difficult. But, I didn't bring my classic gear with me, so skating it was. I was out for about an hour, so I probably skied for about 45 minutes because of the camera set up time.

I'd planned on getting a run in tomorrow, but with the crazy snowfall, I think I'll be skiing again. Woe is me.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

35

End of a good week. 35 miles. Well, 35.75 to be exact. I'd consider that a "real mileage" week. Coupled with weeks of 31 and 30 in the previous two, I'm feeling pretty solid. Not doing the speed work that I laid out in my "plan," but I have the feeling that too much increase in intensity would be a bad thing. So, perhaps I'll stick with the one workout a week plan. Although, next week is a bit of a crap shoot with the holidays and the traveling and the merriment and whatnot. I should have a chance to ski in the next couple days, which will be nice, and definitely a good addition to the fitness. And, yes, this is a boring post.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Morning Run

Not much to say about today's run, but it was quite nice. Easy 4 miles along North Rd. in Shelburne, NH. It was "north country plowed," meaning most of the snow was pushed aside, but there was still plenty of packed snow in the road. I had my screw shoes, which were a big help. Felt good, which was a good sign after my repeats the other day.

Now, apropos of nothing:

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

800 Meter Repeats

Yup, you read that right.

Actually, I was supposed to already have a couple workouts under my belt, but due to a number of circumstances, read avoiding it, they hadn't happened yet. Today, was the day.

I avoided the track, so they didn't feel too real. Instead, I went to the bike path, which has markers every quarter mile. Well, almost. The 1.25 and 1.75 markers are worn away. And, I only spotted the 1.5 marker because I remembered that it was near a particularly white birch tree. Anywho, plan was 2-mile warm up, 4x800 with a quarter mile in between, 2-mile warm down. I based my pace off the of the McMillian Running Calculator. (Incidentally, I think McMillian might be full of crap based on some of my recent results...really, I can run a 3:13 marathon, right now? But, anyway, it's a guideline.)

Felt good, so I added another repeat. (Scary, huh?)
3:05, 3:11 (This one was long...missing 1.75 marker), 3:05, 3:00, 2:51 (ouch)

So, like I said, I planned on running a two-mile warm down, but I'm an idiot. My last repeat finished at the .5 marker, and I couldn't figure out the math to run two miles from there and finish back at zero. (The answer is run to the 1.25 marker and turn around.) So, I ended up running 3 miles. I'm an idiot. Math while oxygen deprived is not my strong suit.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Shorts?

Three miles this afternoon with D. Probably could have gone with shorts, but stuck with the tights out of principle. It's December! Mid-December! It's supposed to be winter. At this point, I'm more comfortable with 29 than I am with 49.

I'm hungry. I had two huge bowls of D's delicious pasta creation for dinner. Then nachos. Little bit o' wine. Now what should I eat? Off to scavenge in the cupboards.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Glug Glug

Normally, I'm a big fan of the glug glug sound. It means that I'm drinking delicious beer. But, today my gut was making that noise on our 15-mile run. It was much less enjoyable than drinking tasty malt beverages. I think it might have been the oatmeal I had for breakfast. D described it a "fibrous"—from the Latin for making your gut go glug glug. Luckily, I avoided any kind of mid-run calamities, but I was uncomfortable the whole way. I also let out some nasty burps. It's so much fun hanging out with me.

I also wore a new pair of shoes on this run. As in, fresh out of the box new. This lead to a couple blisters. My other road shoes are now screwed, so I didn't want to click clack the whole way. For the most part, that was a good choice. D only has screw shoes remaining, so she was much better on icy shoulders than I. And the road down to Simpson's Point was treacherous.

My legs felt pretty good the whole way. Tired by the end, but not too bad. The views of the ocean and the ice on the trees were well worth it.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

1000 Miles!

Wow. 1000 miles this year. I'm sure I'll have a more thought provoking and insightful post in my year-end recap, but for now, I'll just say that it's really cool. I haven't run that many miles in a single year since...I'm guessing...1996. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if I'd barely run 1000 miles total since then.

I headed for the Commons this afternoon, and a real good test of my screw shoes. They worked great, and I never worried about slipping despite the fact that the trails are completely frozen over. There's about 4 inches of frozen slush covering everything. Felt good...but...I'm way off on my training plan for the 10-mile race. Maybe I'll just jog the 10 miles.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Pringle Power Poll

With 4 inches of slush/ice/yuk hitting the ground today, it was a great excuse to take the day off. And, it also gives me the opportunity to update the Pringle Power Poll.

"What is the Pringle Power Poll?" you ask.
Well, it's only the most important, non-scientific, gastrointestinal experiment in deliciousness ever conducted by me. In short, I'm on a quest to try every variety of Pringle I can get my hands on.

I've recently fallen in love with Pringles all over again. They're uniform crisps of all un-natural awesomeness. They're pure magic. I eat them as often as I can...better keep running.

Onto the poll...

1. Bacon Ranch: It's ranch plus bacon. Oh my. They should just call them "Lil' Crisps o' Heaven." It's tough for me to stop eating these.
2. Sour Cream n' Onion: The only reason these aren't first is because they lack bacon.
3. Plain: (I refuse to call them "Original" as they are officially labeled.) If they'd never made all the flavors, the plain Pringles would still rank extremely high in the junk food pantheon.
4. Ranch: Why bother? Good, but nowhere near the Bacon Ranch...because...well...bacon.
5. Blazin' Buffalo Wing (Extreme): These were a total surprise. I was little concerned about the "Extreme" factor thinking that they would be overly covered in mysterious chemical buffalo powder, but they're not. They are spicy, but that's good because it keeps you from eating the whole can at once. I only just started a can of these, so these could rise.
6. Barbecue: These have sweet barbecue flavor, which is a good balance with the salty Pringle, but a little strange. Still tasty, though.
7. Cheddar Cheese: These puppies are coated in a mysterious orange powder. It's cheesy, but it's not that good. I don't really like overly coated chips, i.e. Nacho Cheese Doritos, which are my least favorite kind of Doritos.
8. Pizza: Um...yeah... Good in theory, but terrible in practice. Where I would buy the Cheddar Cheese again, I plan on skipping the Pizza.

Flavors I still need to try:
Loaded Baked Potato (I can't wait to get my mitts on these.)
Jalapeno
Chili Cheese (Hmmm....)
Salt & Vinegar
Spicy Guacamole
Extreme - Kickin' Cheddar
Extreme - Sreamin' Dill Pickle (I have a can of these in the cupboard. Report coming soon.)

They also make something called Select. It looks like it supposed to be the gourmet Pringle. Huh? Gourmet and Pringles should never date. Plus, they don't come in a can, so I'm not interested. And, Stix...pfffft...baked wheat? No, thank you.

Time for a snack.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Driving By Pineland? Go for a Run!

I can now convincingly say that listening to Rob Zombie while driving in freezing rain isn't the best idea. It doesn't exactly encourage taking it easy.



It does kind of keep you moving during a run in freezing rain, though.

Fair amount of driving for me today, and as part of that driving, I found myself going by Pineland. I wasn't sure how or when I was going to squeeze a run in today, so I just pulled into the Y parking lot and headed out. Oh, and yes, I'm that guy: I now make sure I have running clothes with me at all times...just in case. Anywho, I ran the Oak Hill Loop backwards. Well, not backwards, but in the opposite direction of the Pineland Farms Trail Challenge 50k and 50M. (See how I didn't even mention the 25k? There is no 25k. It's dead to me.) Felt good despite getting pelted with frozen nuggets from the sky.

Side note: Wore my new screw shoes. Seemed fine. Probably could have done without them, but they definitely helped on uphills. Things were crispy...frozen crispy.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Snow Means Slow...That is the Tempo

...with apologies to the Beastie Boys.

With the weather forecast, I figured that my best bet for weather conditions was to get out no later than lunchtime today. It was supposed to get rainy and gross as the day went on. It started snowing about 7:30 and picked up throughout the day. The temperature was also rising. I knew the rain was coming. So, at about 11:30, I headed out. It was snowing heavily, and it was about 20 degrees.

I headed down the powerlines for the 5-mile Highland Green loop with the plan to run the first mile easy, and then run the next 3 as a quasi-tempo run. With the conditions, I had no idea what pace I would hit, so I just picked it up as I went. There were about 2 inches of snow on the ground...just enough to hide the ice underneath. I never fell, but I slipped a number of times. I ended up running the middle approximately 3 miles in 22:06. So, kinda slowish, but it was snowy. And, I was trying not to kill myself. I wasn't taking any chances. Not sure it really tells me anything, but it seemed like a good, moderate workout. I felt pretty comfortable throughout. After I got home, the snow stoppped...grumble. Screw shoes would have really helped. And speaking of screw shoes...

During this time of year, you'll find households taking time to hang wreaths, trim trees, and generally make their homes festive. We spent the night with smelly shoes, power tools and sheet metal screws. Then again, Body Glide is also a permanent fixture on our coffee table. The process would have been much quicker if both my drill batteries had not been dead. (When you loan someone your drill and they return with two dead batteries, you can legally smack them the next time you see them. So, Nate will be getting a smack next time I see him.) It was kind of a hassle, but I had the system nailed by the end. D...well...she was angry. There was much swearing.

Here are my results:




And here's Ronnie wondering why I gave D the drill:



That's true fear in his eyes.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Long Lost Update

I can't believe I haven't had a chance to update since Wednesday. D might claim that it's because of my new mistress. In reality, I've been crazy busy. I'm currently sitting on my butt on the couch watching football in my new crystalicious HD, so it's time for an update.

Crappy run on Thursday. Rain, cold, cramp, busy road. All bad. But, I got the miles in, and it didn't kill me.

I bounced back with a great run on Friday morning. I was up at work and took the opportunity to explore the North Rd. in Shelburne. Actually, the run started on the AT...well, the road is the AT. Great views of Mt. Washington and Mt. Adams, plus a nice sunrise. Good stuff.

Yesterday, we had an event at work...actually, we have enough to host the first ski race of the season in New England. The race went well, but it meant a long day for me. I didn't get home until 8:30, and then I still had videos to edit. If you're interested in groovy ski photos and videos created by me, click here.

With the long day and late night, I wasn't sure how frisky I would feel today when we headed out for our run. We met Mindy and Tim at Pineland at 9:00 for a tour of the very crusty trails. Snow was falling, so we were feeling hardcore. The trails were a mix of frozen mud, frozen grass, frozen hard stuff, cold squishy mud and really cold water. In other words, perfect for this time of year. Company was great, and I think I'm going to begin my training to be an Olympic archer. After a tour of the lower fields and the campus loop, Mindy and Tim called it a day at about 8 miles. I was surprised at how good I felt, so D and I stuck to the plan and headed out on the Oak Hill Loop. We cruised along, skipped Gloucester Hill and arrived back at the car at just under 2 hours. Great run, but it was time for food! The four of us headed to Stones Cafe for an awesome breakfast. Pretty much the perfect morning.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Brilliant Recovery Strategy


To Recap: Last Thursday, I raced in the Feaster Five, pictured at left in my brand new, ultra-badass, TMR gear. Friday: Off. Saturday: I skied in the morning and ran in the evening. Sunday: D and I ran 11-ish at Bradbury, and despite the claims of both Chuck and Ian, I swear I wasn't intentionally pushing the pace. Monday: Easy 3. Tuesday: Off, so it was looking more like recovery...but...

Today, I ran 5 miles a touch faster than I should have. I was cold at the start, and I did the stupid "run faster because it will make me warmer faster" thing. Then I got caught in the "I know I'm running a little too fast, but I just can't seem to slow down" thing. I don't know any of the mile markers, so looking at my watch wouldn't have done me any good anyway. Plus, I was running the loop in the opposite direction for the first time. The end result was 5 miles in 38:58. Not blazing fast, but more effort than I needed while trying to recover. And, I know I need to recover. The official training plan called for 3x800 today. I'm really glad I didn't go that route. I did a good job recovering from the marathon, so I need to pay a little more attention so I'll be ready for the race in February. That being said, I keep thinking about the second Oak Hill Loop in the Pineland Farms 50k, and I keep thinking about crushing it. So, I'll be taking it easy the next couple days, and doing my best to get out despite diminishing daylight and other early winter challenges.

Monday, December 1, 2008

What Training Plan?

So, I'm two days into my official training plan for the Mid-Winter 10-Mile Classic, and I've already broken it. Different runs both days. Yup, I'm batting 1.000. I was supposed to run 5 on Sunday and a 4-mile tempo run today. Um...not so much. I ran 11 on Sunday, and just 3 easy today.

I knew this was going to happen, for a couple reasons. First of all, I was supposed to start my plan a couple days after racing a 5-miler, so I knew that I would need to recover a bit. Secondly, I like long runs, so I'll be doing more of those. Third, I'm lazy. Most importantly, I'm going by feel, and this is what I felt like doing. I really felt like I needed to take it easy today, and I'll probably stick with that plan this week. I'd rather start my speedwork feeling good than feeling beat down.

Speaking of training, D and I went to Frontier tonight to have dinner with Nate, Shannon and Finley. The good thing about eating dinner with a 1 year-old is that you get to walk around and burn off calories while you eat. Maybe that's why I had two panninis...or maybe it's because I'm a pig. I also had 2 great beers. First, Williams Bros. Brewing - Edulum Elderberry Black Ale, which despite the presence of elderberry, was really good. Normally, I disapprove of fruit in beer, but in this case, it actually added to the taste. Second, I had an Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout. In short, this thing is aggressive. Good, but at 9% alcohol, it packs a punch. A delicious, tasty, alcohol-filled punch.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

This Is Why I Run

D and I met Ian and Chuck at Bradbury this morning and ran about 11. Frozen mud and moosh were the primary trail conditions. I was dragging at the start, but felt better after about 30 minutes. Nice morning on the trails and great company.

Then we came home and made this:


So delicious!
But I think I'm still hungry.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

I'm That Guy

I don't know how this happened. I cross country skied this morning, and then ran in the dark this evening—to make sure "I got my miles in." I've turned into that guy. Crap.

I received an unexpected call from my boss yesterday afternoon informing me that we had enough snow to open the trails. I didn't think there would be enough snow, but a couple more inches fell. He spent most of yesterday out grooming, and it was all systems go. So, I headed up this morning to take care of the official opening day marketing duties. Among them, was photo taking:





Even though, it's still November, the skiing was quite good. I was out on the trails for about an hour and half, shooting around getting pics and talking to people. Maybe half that time I was actually skiing, and when I was, I was taking it very easy.

I have to admit that racing on Thursday, then skiing on Saturday probably wasn't the best idea. My calves and shins were pretty tight after the race, and the first day of skiing always causes more tightness in the shins...the whole balancing thing. I could really feel them by the end, and was happy to head back in.

By the time I left work, I knew that if I were to get a run in, it would be in the dark. So, I headed for the Brunswick/Topsham bike path. And, by headed for, I mean drove 2 hours. I've been avoiding the bike path for as long as possible, but it is winter, so I guess it's bike path time. It's a great option in the winter because it's plowed and there's no cars (obviously), but it's pretty blah. Anyway, it was indeed dark when I started my run, and I was glad for the lights along the path. Well, for the lights that I thought were along the path. As it turns out, it's not as well lit as I thought/remembered. In a few spots, it was completely black, and all I could do was follow the white line. Kinda funky. In other places, I was completely blinded by the lights from the cars along Route 1. In other words, I'm dumb. I felt decent during the run. Tight, but decent.

Side note: On the way to my run, I stopped to pick up a snack. I was intrigued by the Met Rx Big 100 Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Meal Replacement bar. I implore you: do not be intrigued by these. They're gross. The first bite was OK, but by the time I tried to swallow, I knew I was in trouble. Stay away. Stay far away.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Feaster Five Race Report

I attempted to write this race report earlier today, but couldn't get past the title. Just wasn't feeling too enthused. Which is strange because the entire crew had a really good day. Plus, we got free pie!

The day started like any other race day, except for the fact that we had someone with us who had never run a race before. Ever. This was my sister's first foray into racing after she started running about 4 months ago. Her original plan was to run a bit to get in shape for ski season, but when I mentioned that D and I were planning on running this race, she signed right up. Not only did she sign right up, but she bypassed the 5k option and went right for the 5-miler. So, we helped her through the finding your name and number at registration, explained the self-seeded signs, and generally just made sure she made it to the start line. It was actually really cool, and definitely helped me keep my mind off my own nerves. Meg had enough for all of us.

D and I did leave her alone for a bit as we went for a 2-mile warm up. I felt really good warming up, but it was pretty comical every time someone blew by us. As I said to D, "Just the reminder we needed of how much were going to get smoked."

I have to say that the race is extremely well organized. It's impressive how smoothly things roll with a race with 2 separate distances and 7200 finishers. But, as my grandmother says, "You're always griping about something on your blog," so here I go...
Actually, my gripes are not with the race organizers. My main gripe is with the port-a-potty company. Without going into too much detail, I just have to say that the toilet paper was so thin, you could barely get it out of the dispenser. And, as is pre-race custom...I needed quite a bit. My second gripe is with the lack of attention people pay to the pace seeding. Put it this way, I saw a woman cross the finish line a good 20 minutes after I did, and she was standing right in front of me at the start. WTF? I did so much dodging and weaving in the first mile I must have run an extra quarter mile.

OK, on to the race...

At the start I couldn't get any closer to the front than a little ways behind the 7:00 minute per mile sign. From here, it took me about 30 seconds to get to the start line after the gun went off. Not a huge deal, but like I said, there were a number of shufflers in front of me. I tried to find my pace, but it was tough with all the people. I guess this is what you get when you enter such a huge race.

The first mile is a gradual uphill. I hit the first mile in 6:58...oh crap. About 20 seconds slower than I wanted, and I already felt like I was working hard. Not good times. Shortly after the mile mark, the 5k runners take a left, and the 5 milers stay straight. Things thinned out a bit after the break, and I tried to keep picking it up. It was mentally easy to do this because I'd been passing people the entire way. I hit two miles in 13:38, a 6:40 mile. Faster, which is good, but I was still behind my goal, and I wasn't sure I could keep it up. Mile 3 was another 6:40, and I was getting worried. I wasn't hurting, but I was uncomfortable. Then again, I was still passing people. Fewer of them, but still passing.

At around 3.5, the course heads down a hill and rejoins the 5k course. I could see a wall of people moving past. The race directors put cones up along the center line: 5k to the left, 5 mile to the right. But as soon as I turned the corner and was alongside the 5k runners, I knew that the division wouldn't stay so clean. Every so often, a 5k-er would move to the right into the path of us 5-milers, who were moving much faster. A couple times I almost took someone out/got taken out, but nothing catastrophic happened. At about 3.75, two guys passed me. They were moving well, and moving faster than I was. This was a huge stroke of luck for me. For the rest of race, I did everything I could to stay with these two. Mile 4 was a 6:37, and I had to chuckle because my 4-mile time today was only about 30 seconds slower than my finishing time 12 years ago. Oh well.

The last mile was tricky. My entire focus was on those two guys. Every so often, we'd need to get a round a 5k-er. Sometimes it was smooth. Other times, I'd have to take a different path than my buddies, and I'd lose them. A couple times, I had to snap myself back and refocus on them. I managed to stay with them for the most part. I at least kept them in my sights. In the last 200 meters, the course turns tight up a hill that is just mean. Two guys blew by me going up the hill, but I was already all out. Think exploding hamstrings and calves. I crossed the line in 32:52 for a final mile of 5:56.

I'm really pleased with my race. I never backed off, and was very close to my "pie-in-the-sky goal of 32:30, and I would have been thrilled with anything under 33:00. My safe goal was 34:00, so I'm psyched. Plus, I was wearing my snazzy new Trail Monster shirt, so I had to look good. I ended up 96th out of 2575 finishers, 26th out of 344 in my age group.

D had an awesome race. Her goal was 37:30, and she crushed it. She ran 36:18! 259th overall, and 8th in her age group. Damn. (If you read here blog, you'll see she has slightly different numbers, as they've made a number of edits to the results. I assume this is due to 5k runners going over the 5 mile finish. For instance, in the original results, I was just 2 seconds ahead of a 12 year-old girl...I'm not that slow.)

And, in her debut, Meg ran 49:25, and was all smiles at the finish. D and I waited for her, and I'm glad she ran so well because we were getting cold! I have to say I'm very proud of my little sister. Now onto the half marathon, right, Meg!

The three of us made our way through the parking garage, dropped our timing chips, picked up our potato chips and met our family. Oh, and we picked up our pies! The best part of the race.

Huge thanks my parents and grandparents for cheering us on and delaying their turkey. The biggest thanks goes to Meg's husband, Chris, for getting up extra early and chauffeuring us to and from the race.

It was a great race and a great day! Maybe a new Thanksgiving tradition?

Official Results

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I'm so Hardcore

I ran 5 miles this afternoon in the worst weather ever: pouring rain, temp of 43, winds gusting to 20mph. It was ridiculous, and really, although I'm hardcore, it basically sucked. I was saturated in about 2 minutes. Add the wind on top of that, and I was cold. Perhaps I should have worn something waterproof. Anywho, even when the wind was at my back, it was still chilling. Anywho, I survived. And, oh yes, I'm so hardcore.

This morning, I wasn't even sure I was going to get out for a run. When I first woke up, I had some pain in my left knee: in the front, below the kneecap, just left of center. Strange. It hurt quite a bit, and just magically appeared. By the afternoon, I stretched a fair amount, and it was feeling better. I'm 90% sure it's based on tightness. Yesterday, I wasn't so good to myself. I got up, drove 125 miles, sat at desk, drove 125 miles, went to bed. Not really the healthiest day. It felt fine while I was running, but it's a touch squacky this evening. Should be OK, though.

Today also marked the maiden voyage for my new watch. I have a pretty kick ass watch already, and it hasn't failed me yet. It has way more features than I use, but the altimeter is great for hiking, and the barometer is pretty useful. But, the stopwatch function is very limited. It only has one lap split, and you can't go back and review it. So, not great for running. I went all out on my new watch: $25 Timex Ironman. Yup, the classic. The good news is that it only has a 30-lap memory, so I can't run anything longer than 30 miles.

On tap this week, besides gorging myself on turkey, is the Feaster Five. I guess I'm ready. I haven't really done any speedwork, so I'm not sure how I can think that I'm ready. Either way, it will give me a good baseline for where I am speed-wise. Although, I'm not really sure I want to know. Should be a fun race, nonetheless. Everyone gets a free pie...how can that not be fun? Anyway, my goal is to come within 5 minutes of the time I ran here the last time I ran this race. Not sure I can pull it off. I last ran this race in 1996. I was a senior in college, and I was coming off a cross country season in which I was, surprise, injured for most of it. I'd healed up in the last couple weeks of the season, so by Thanksgiving, I was in pretty good shape. I ran 27:26 to finish 17th overall. Like I said, it will be tough to get within 5 minutes of that. Something tells me my race report will include the phrase: "my hamstrings felt like they were going to explode."

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Quantum of Bradbury

OK, it's official: these post titles are getting ridiculous.

D and I headed to Bradbury late this morning. Damn, it was cold. The thermometer reading was warmer than yesterday's, but it felt colder. Perhaps, I'm just getting soft in my old age. In any event, we wandered around the east side trails for just over an hour. Plenty of frozen mud and ice to go around. Plenty of mountain bike tire ruts were frozen into the singletrack. I eventually warmed up, but trailed D for most of the run. I didn't feel all that great today...just a bit sluggish. I was also pretty tight, so I'm going to blame that. Nice run, though.

We came home, and I made delicious turkey bombs...one of my many specialties. Trust me, they're awesome. Then we went to see Quantum of Solace. Although this isn't a movie review website, here's my 2 cents. If you like the Roger Moore brand of James Bond, you won't recognize this Bond. The camp and the kitsch are gone. It much more serious, much darker and more violent. It's also much more sophisticated and much slicker. I actually think Daniel Craig's version of Bond is much closer to Sean Connery's version...just updated by 40 years. I like the update, and I liked the movie. It's different, but it's still Bond. And, there are a number of reminders of that, including a very cool homage to Goldfinger. But, if you're planning on a relaxing evening at the movies, don't choose this one. The action and the way the action is presented are nonstop, furious and jarring. You barely have time to rest in your seat, and there are only brief moments of levity. In other words, this is not Octopussy. The real unfortunate part of this film is the new Bond song...it's brutal. I couldn't wait for the opening credits to end. They should have gone with this:



I love that. D doesn't like it as much...because I sing it a lot.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Cathance River Attacked by Trail Monsters

Perhaps it wasn't that dramatic, but it was a nice group run at the Cathance River Nature Preserve with a band of Trail Monsters. A good sized group came up to our neck of the woods at the suggestion of Scott, whom we'd never met, and he led us on a winding route through the Mt. Ararat trails to the Cathance River trails. I've run out there a number of times, but he added a couple pieces I wasn't as familiar with. It was good to see things from a different perspective. All in all, it was a great run on a cold morning. D and I ran home after the run, and with our sweaty hats we both had ice cream headaches due to the wind. Luckily that was brief, and I made a tasty breakfast, which made everything better.

Solid week for me, about 32 miles. I have to admit, I only had 3 weeks with more mileage than that during my marathon training, so I'm feeling pretty good about where I am right now. I'm good at running slow, a point which will no doubt be proven next week at the Feaster Five. Looking forward to it anyway.

I keep forgetting to mention that after the Blackstrap Adventure, I lost the toenail on the toe. So, now, instead of a black toenail, I have black quasi-skin where the toenail used to be. So, I still have 5 black toes, but only 4 black toenails. I know how interested you all are in my toes, so I wanted to keep you abreast of the situation.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Not Sweating

I ran 3 miles easy this afternoon. It was cold. I had to navigate ice floes and hoar frost along the powerlines. I barely broke a sweat. Granted, I was touch under-dressed, but...brrr!

This is my new favorite thing ever:



Someone give her a TV show. Please.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

An Actual Training Plan?

I have to admit. I was both tired and sore after the Blackstrap Experience. My back was pretty sore. This is no doubt due to the "slightly challenging" terrain, but more likely due to the fact that I am too lazy to do any core exercises.

Yesterday, D and I did an easy 5 miles in the Commons. I was tired. The pace was slow, and so was I. Definitely not a bad recovery run, though. Today, I headed out for a not quite 8-mile loop from my house. It was windy, and I was still a little tired. Nothing exciting to report.

Not that you come here for excitement...but that's about to change!!!!



No words con do justice to the amazingness of that.

Anywho, I spent a chunk of time last night looking over training plans for 10-mile races. I'm trying to figure out a way to run...well, fastish. The Mid-Winter 10-Mile Classic is on February 1, so that's the current goal. I quasi-settled on a Hal Higdon plan. It involves tempo runs, track intervals, race pace miles...yeah, serious stuff. I'll no doubt make a few tweaks as I go along, but I'm hopeful that I can stick to it. I'm even more hopeful that it will work. I have a goal time, but that's to be revealed at a later date.

It donned on me a little while ago that I'm not likely to just magically regain speed by thinking about running faster. I'll actually have to work at it. I used to work at it, and that's how I got it. Again, it didn't magically appear. I'll officially start the plan the week after Thanksgiving. Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Blackstrap Hell Trail Challenge Race Report

First of all, mad props to Jeff for putting together one hell of a race. He came up with a killer (almost literally) course, a cool race format and even went the extra mile by inviting everyone over his house for beer and potluck vittles afterward. The assist goes to Ian for helping with course marking, planning and prizes. A free race with prizes!

Well, the Blackstrap Hell Trail Challenge almost lived up to its name. With all the rain over the last couple days, I figured it would be a bit muddy, but I had no idea that it would be all mud. Some of the mud was even under two feet of water. Jeff devised a seeding system in which the faster people would start last. He came up with some secret formula using entrants time from the Bradbury Trail Running Series and May's Pineland Farms Trail Challenge. The theory was that everyone would finish at approximately the same time. As it turned out, his seedings worked amazingly well, and was within one or two minutes for most of us.

I started in the middle of the pack with another runner, Don. We ran together for the first quarter mile until the first (of many) major stream crossing. D and I had done a very brief warm up on the course but didn't cross this stream, so I knew it was coming. I watched Don make his way through and realized it was mid-thigh deep. And about a second later, I was waist deep and on my face in the mud on the other side. Two minutes into the race, and I was completely soaked and covered in mud.

The first fall out of the way, the rest of the race was pretty uneventful. Well, as uneventful as this race could be. Everything was wet, slippery, squishy, and it was tough to keep from sliding away. The trail was either mud, water, wet leaves over mud, slippery rocks, uneven slippery rocks, or wet leaves over uneven slippery rocks. Even without the wet trail conditions, this course would be really, really hard. It was very hilly, including one all fours scramble. In short, it was awesome. Jeff and Ian did a great job marking the course, and unlike some others, I had no trouble following the course.

Eventually, some of the fast guys started to catch me. On an extremely steep downhill, Juan took one of the best falls I've ever seen. He looked like he was going to down about six times, until he finally ended up head over heels and down. Did I mention the slippery mud? He got up and kept going. Shortly after that, Stephen passed me only to turn his ankle with an audible pop about a second later. It sounded bad, and his limping let me know it was bad. Hopefully, he has some ice on it tonight.

After these calamities, the course went up a long hill, and I passed a couple people. Then a reasonable downhill, followed by the longest uphill ever. It just kept going. Eventually, I reached the powerlines, which signaled the almost end of the race. I passed a couple more people, including George who told me their were Pringles at the finish. This put a little hop in my step, which is what I needed, because Floyd was gaining on me. I thought that I must be coming near the end, but as I crested one hill I realized I still had a long way to go. I have to admit that a part of me kind of gave up here. I had the "are you kidding me moment," and I realized how tired I was. Need to work on that. Shortly after Floyd caught up to me, and I knew that he was going to pass me. So, instead of trying to hold him off, I threw myself on the ground. Well, that wasn't really how it happened, but I did almost take him out. I picked myself back up, and tried to chase him down. A couple minutes later I went into a puddle and couldn't get out. If I was in a cartoon, you could have heard a woop woop woop woop woop. The legs were spinning, but I wasn't going anywhere. I half decided to give up since I knew that I wasn't going to be able to get upright, and I dove forward. Once again, I picked myself up, and I made my way towards the finish.

It was a messy effort, but a good one. My time was 51:40ish, which for that terrain is nothing to be upset about. I'm a little disappointed in that give up moment, but I'm sure with more work, I'll remember how to push through those. And, really, it wasn't like I just sat down in the trail...I dove into the trail. GRRRR. All in all, a good race, and a lot of fun.

Most of us made our way to Jeff's house, and thanks need to go out to his wife, Cacky, for letting a bunch of muddy, stinky people invade her home. Food, beer and a good time was had by all. Can't wait for next year...maybe next time it will be muddy.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

"Who's Crazier? You or Me?"

Yesterday, that's what a lady walking her tiny-poodle-esque dog asked me. It was dark. It was raining. I said, "Both, I think."

Anyway, I didn't run Wednesday or Thursday because I was attending a conference. I had to travel from Maine to New Hampshire then to Vermont on Wednesday. Then back home on Thursday. It was a lot of driving. I could have conceivably gotten in a run on Thursday morning, but I didn't have my stuff with me. The result of this was extreme tightness yesterday on my run. Holy crap was it ugly. Pick a muscle, and it was angry. Not paying attention to stretching or really even thinking about it certainly makes a difference.

But, like I said, I did get in 5 miles yesterday...in the dark and rain. I was planning to just do an out and back, but the out was so boring I decided to explore a bit. Instead of turning around at the end of the road, I continued on the dirt road that goes beyond the end of the Highland Green development. It ended up making a nice loop. Even though running through the somewhat generic 55+ community of Highland Green isn't that exciting, I'm sure I'll do this run again. It was actually a good run to do in the dark because there's a wide sidewalk, good for walking poodles, with streetlights. I also saw two deer. No hunters. (Yes, I was wearing my bright orange, don't shoot me vest.)

Today, was more of the same. Wet and dark. Gawd, I hate November. Although, it was close to 60 when I headed out for a quick 3 miles in the Commons. Nothing exciting to report.

Tomorrow is the Blackstrap Hell Trail Challenge. Should be groovy.

Emma sent me a cat vid, and I would be remiss to not post it. It's pretty good.



Cats = funny. But, sloths = completely, freakin' awesome!!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bikes, Wind and a Fartlek

Since we last heard from our hero (that would be me), I've been really busy. We had a bike race at work this weekend. And despite soggy weather, it went really well, but it tired me out. I wasn't racing, but I was running around assisting with the organization and taking photos and video. I did sneak in an easy 3-mile run on Sunday morning, which was really good for my psyche.

I only ended up with one day off this week, but it was nice and relaxing. Starting the day off by getting up eventually and eating a huge breakfast is always a good thing. The only negative is that it's really hard to motivate once you slip into the food coma. For some reason, this food coma extended into my run, too. I didn't feel quite right until about 6 miles in. Weird. However, it was a nice run out through the Commons and down to Simpson's Point. I often forget how close to the ocean we really are. It's always nice to see the view.



Today, I did my first almost speedwork in a really long time. I decided that a fartlek would be a nice way to ease myself back into the world of speed—much easier mentally than 6x800 on the track or some other form of torture. For those who haven't heard the term before, fartlek is Swedish for "speed play." It's also makes me feel like I'm making a poop joke, so that's always a plus. Basically, it involves adding a series of harder/up tempo periods within the run. Anywho, I ran the usual 5-mile, not quite out and back in the Commons. Therefore, it was mostly trail. I ran 4 minutes easy, 4 minutes hard. The easy minutes were at my normal pace, 8:30ish, and the hard minutes were at a pace that I felt like I could hold for 4 minutes without blowing up. The end result was 5 miles in 36:00 flat for a 7:12 per mile pace.

What does this mean? I have no idea. Felt pretty good, though.

Friday, November 7, 2008

3 and Puking

The 3 was mine. But the puking wasn't.

Wrapped up a solid recovery week this afternoon with 3 miles. Felt pretty good. Still tightish, but not nearly as bad as yesterday. Once again, I had some mysterious friskiness and ran moderately not slow. Gonna try to work some speedwork (gasp) into the schedule next week. The Feaster Five is looming, and although I know that I'm going to run slow, I'm also delusional. I've convinced myself that some type of speedwork will help me run slightly less slow, even though I've done ZERO speedwork since the Clinton administration, and the race is just 20 days away. The other funny thing is that in the grand scheme of things, this race means absolutely nothing, so I figure I'll try to step it up. Yup, I'm an idiot.

Speaking of being an idiot, I was wandering my way through blogs this evening and somehow, somewhere I stumbled across a video of a cross country race. The video was unexciting, and I've already forgotten where or when the race was. However, the cameraperson was standing at the finish filming people come across the line. At one point, the unmistakable sound of someone yakking could be heard. I immediately thought: "That's awesome!" I can clearly remember doing that. Man, those were good times. Perhaps, I'll run so hard, so fast at some point in the future, I'll be allowed to throw up at the finish. That would be fun.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

We (Don't) Want the Funk


(That's D's all time favorite ad.)

I think I'm suffering from some form of post-marathon malaise. A funk of sorts. My motivation to get out and run has been kind of low. I'm just not really feeling it. I'm just feeling a little off. I don't have any particular excuse or reason, so I assume it's a funk. My plan is to run through it. Good idea? I don't know. That being said, I have gotten out the last two days.

On Wednesday, I did a quick 3-miler. And, it was actually kind of quick. That's the weird thing: while I'm running, I'm feeling really good. Well, except for the tightness. My calves and hamstrings are both really tight.

Because of the funk, when I was looking at my training log last night, I decided that I would take today off. But, in the back of my mind, I knew that I should get out for a run. So at some point, I hatched a plan to get up early with D and run with her. Since I barely heard the alarm, that didn't happen. (I barely heard her when she got back.) That's the other thing that's been off: my sleep patterns—stupid funk. Anyway, thanks to job flexibility, I was able to get out at lunch time. It was raining, and I ran 5 miles in the Commons. (Same route D ran this morning.) I felt really good. Relaxed and smooth, and I wasn't plodding along either. Again, except for the tightness. My right shin was actually hurting. Ridiculously tight. It eventually felt better, but it was borderline "should I stop?" painful in the first mile.

Because of all of this, I decided I need a team.

Roster spots include:
1. Coach
2. Physical Therapist
3. Massage Therapist
4. Sports Psychologist
5. Nutritionist
6. Exotic Dancer

The coach will help me put together an actual training plan. The physical therapist will keep all my parts in order. The massage therapist will make all the parts feel good. The sports psychologist will keep me from going crazy. The nutritionist will make sure that everything I eat doesn't involve either melted cheese or Pringles. And, the exotic dancer...well, all work and no play...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes We Can!

Great summation of an extraordinary evening by Rachel Maddow.



I have to admit I'm looking at the American flag with a lot more pride today.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Seeing the Sights

Sunday started off with us helping out with the Bowdoin Duelathon. Dumb name, cool event. It's a run, then a rollerski race put on by Bowdoin Nordic as a fundraiser for the team, which is woefully underfunded by the College. D and I were part of the timing crew, and things went pretty smoothly. Plus, by volunteering it got me out of racing...and probably finishing last.

We headed home for lunch, and then got sucked into the couch. It was really difficult to get motivated, but we made it to Pineland in the afternoon. The plan was for a not long run, but a slightly longer run than we've been doing. We headed out on the Campus Loop for starters, and then made our way over to the Oak Hill Loop. I wasn't feeling 100%. My hamstrings were tight and my stomach wasn't feeling kind of squenchy. Nothing terrible, just not awesome. I made some snide remark, as I am wont to do, about D pushing the pace. She got cranky. We bickered. It was fun. Apologies done, we finished the run in just over an hour. And, it was a nice day on the trails. We had a great view of Mt. Washington from the YMCA parking lot when we got back to the car, and we were reminded that we live in a cool place.

Monday began with an important mission: take Ronnie to the vet. Not good times. Much screaming and wailing, and that was just D. Luckily, we were the first appointment, and we were in and out.

Then we headed for Reid State Park for a short run. I had run the ski trail there last summer, so we'd been meaning to get back to check it out. It's a really nice trail actually leads away from the beaches and passes by a very nice beaver pond. About 2 miles into the run we passed a single track trail and decided to check it out. It was a really cool trail that after plenty of ups and downs, mud and roots made its way to the parking lot at the far end of the Park, which is for Half Mile Beach. We headed for Mile Beach and ran along it back towards the car. Luckily, it was lowish tide, so we had a fair amount of firm sand to run in. We also had a nice tailwind. One of the best runs ever: dirt road, single track, mud and a run along the beach. Even though it was a bit longer than I had hoped for, about 4.5. It was really cool to get out an explore a great place that's so close to us. A lot of people head to Reid State Park in the summer for the beach, but it was great to have the place all to ourselves on a great November day. I was fairly tired by the end and have decided that another easy week is order for more recovery. Or, I was just hungry, since I didn't have a very big breakfast. Probably a bit of both.

A great two days seeing the sights here in Maine. Here's why we like living here:







Saturday, November 1, 2008

Two Runs

Not much to report over the last couple days. Still in recovering mode.

Did a 3-miler on Thursday. Didn't feel that great. I basically had no energy. I've chalked it up to lack of fuel. I was hungry when I started the run, and I just got hungrier. Luckily, it was a short run, and there were Pringles waiting at the end.

Took Friday off, but ran today. Another 3. Felt relatively really good...if that makes sense. My hamstrings are tight. Have been this week. I'm not sure if it's marathon of recovery or the fact that my runs have been sporadic....or at least less frequent. I'll keep stretching and keep an eye on them. But overall, I'd say I'm feeling good.

Speaking of marathons, check out this article from the NY Times.
Two points:
1. D and I decided that it's really great that we both run, so we both get it.
2. Everyone in this story, on both sides, struck me as self-absorbed jerks. It would have been nice if the NY Times had found some normal people. Then again, it probably wouldn't have been as good of a story.

Greatest Invention Ever? Greatest. Invention. Ever.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wassup!

The Wassup Guys 10 Years Later.



True.

I always liked the Superfriends version the best:



Thus ends your flashback for today. Stay tuned next time for clips from the Arsenio Hall Show!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Betterish

Headed out today at lunch for another easy 3-mile recovery run. In the first couple steps, I could feel a difference. I immediately felt like my pre-marathon self with a bit of spring in my step. Very good sign. Still taking it easy this week, though, as the goal is still recovery, but it's always nice to be heading in the right direction.

I did a run today that I hadn't done in a long time, but it was a staple of my return to running regimen. It's a hilly, trail/road mix that's right from the front door. Good stuff.



Look at mapmyrun.com's groovy new elevation profile! Now with pretty colors! WHEEEE! I guess when you return to running by running a hilly loop regularly you like running hills. Hence, MDI success. Yay hills on what I call the Mt. Ararat 30.

30, because it takes about 30 minutes to run. I have no idea how long it took today. I forgot to hit my watch when I started/hit the wrong button/I have no idea what happened. Regardless, I didn't look at my watch once while running, so I didn't realize I didn't have a watch on it. Another good sign that I'm feeling good.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Recovery Scuffle

Is there anything more theraputic than running through mud, puddles and muddy puddles?

D and I headed to Bradbury today for a 5-6-ish trail run. We decided to run the Bradbury Scuffle course...very easy. After last night's rain, things were really messy, and with all the fallen leaves many of the squishy parts were hidden. Perfect conditions! It was really nice to not be on the roads, and we made our way slowly along. Still feeling tired, but this run was as much about mental recovery and it was physical. We decided to cut it a bit short and turned for the parking lot at the Link Trail giving us almost exactly an hour of running. Nice day in the woods.

On the negative side, I wore my official MDI Marathon Finishers shirt. Dear t-shirt designers: Don't screenprint a big green blob in the shape of Mount Desert Island on the front of the shirt. It sort of defeats the whole wicking thing. And, it's kinda heavy and scratchy. Then again, all the chicks were digging it.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Apparently, Pants are Optional

As I was nearing the end of my run this afternoon, I passed through a four-way intersection in the trail in the Commons. This intersection is less than a half mile from the parking area. As I crested a small hill and began to run down into the intersection, I realized there was a woman sitting on the bench directly across from the direction from which I was approaching. The woman was partially obscured by a bush, but I could tell that she had her pants pulled down. But, sadly, this is not the start of a Penthouse Forum letter. The woman in question was...how do I put this...hmmm...um, heavy set. Yeah, that's it. She stood up and pulled up her pants, as I tried my best to avert my eyes, but I was caught in a bit of the "train wreck factor." She said in a friendly tone and very matter-of-factly, "Hi, how are you?" I'm not sure exactly what I said, but I was really just hoping the entire situation would just end. I ran a little faster.

Speaking of the run, I felt exactly the same way D felt on her run this morning: it felt like waaaaayyyy more effort that it should have been for a slow, 3-mile run. I guess I must have run a marathon last weekend. To be expected while recovering I guess. I'm still pretty tight, but, again, that's no surprise. Slow and steady the next couple weeks.

Nothing new to report on the toe front, but I bet you're all happy that this new post pushed that picture below the fold!

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Toe

Per request (in other words, this is all Ian's fault), here's a picture of the toe:



As you can see, it really doesn't look that bad. OK, all the toes look bad, but only one of them hurts. It's the fourth toe with the issues. It feels like a mashed it repeatedly with a hammer. Or ran 26.2 miles on pavement. One or the other. Pretty certain the nail will be falling off.

So, there you have it. Hopefully, you're not eating.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Back At It

Got out today for my first post-marathon run. I even had to relace my shoe that I'd attached my timing chip to. I wore shorts. It was in the 40's. I'm wicked tough. Overall, I felt good. A little tight, but nothing out of the ordinary. Seems like that's a good sign.

The only negative is the awesome toe. It's not so awesome. It kinda hurts. It doesn't look that bad, but it doesn't look that good. I hope another day off of it tomorrow will be a good thing.

By the way, winter's coming. Here's what Mt. Washington looked liked today:



There's even a few patches of snow on the ground at the base of the mountain. Back to those shorts I wore today. Yeah, I think it's time for me to get actual running tights. I have some heavier pants, but they're only good when it's really cold. I didn't think I really deserved real tights recently, since I was just a dabbler. But, I think I'll get a pair. Look out, ladies!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

More MDI Thoughts and Looking Ahead

As if my 60,000 word race report wasn't enough, I still have more thoughts from the MDI Marathon.

Most importantly, stairs are no longer the enemy. I can walk down stairs without any assistance today. I've taken the last three days off, which has been a good call. But now that I'm not sore anymore, I'm itching to run. Plan to get back at it tomorrow.

The awesome toe looks much less awesome. It was purple and gross after the race, and at some point on Tuesday it drained. Ewwww. I had a little bit of bloody ooze in between my toes. Ewwww. Now, it just looks beat up. The nail will most likely fall off...but who know when? Maybe I'll start a pool.

Couple more thoughts on time. Final time was 3:43:03 for an overall per mile pace of 8:31. Goal was to run 8:45 per mile. The time at the half was 1:54:02 for a per mile pace of 8:42. Second half was 1:49:01 for a per mile pace of 8:19. I'm not 100% certain of the 20-mile split, but let's go with 2:53:30. May have been in 20's, but let's go with that. Which means that the last 10k was 49:33 for a per mile pace of 7:59.5. And, no, I refuse to round that up. The conclusion here is that I probably could have run faster. Am I disappointed? No way. (More on that in a second.) But it has certainly got something churning in my brain. And that something is the desire to run another one. Just not yet.

Since this was my first marathon, I didn't know what to expect, and in fact, for this whole year, I haven't known what to expect. I know I've talked a lot about time and goals, but my goal for this marathon was to prove that I could do it. Eighteen months ago, I never would have guessed it would have been possible. About a year ago, I entered the Bradbury Bruiser basically because we had a couple friends who wanted to do it. I didn't think I would survive. I did, and I decided it was time to get back into running. Since then, I've been seeing what I could do. Testing the waters. Getting back into it.

Full disclosure: I used to run a lot. In fact, I used to even be kinda fast. Then one day in 1997 during my senior year of college, I was running a track workout indoors. It was 800 meter repeats. It was before outdoor track started. In the middle of one of the 800's, I stopped. I'll never forget those last few steps. I walked off the track, showered and never went back. I was done. I had been running competitively for all of high school and college. I'd had a mediocre, injury-riddled college career, and running just wasn't fun anymore. So for about 10 years, I stayed away. My ego believed I was still a runner. I dabbled a bit. But, really, I wasn't a runner anymore.

This year has changed that. Sunday really changed that. It's time to get serious. Running is fun again. So, let's have some serious fun.

Jamie threw out the idea of running the Hyannis Marathon in February. The course is flat, so it's very tempting. But, I don't really want to run the Hyannis Marathon. It doesn't sound...well, you know...fun. Plus, I'm not quite sure I'm ready to be that guy. You know, the guy that runs 12 marathons a year. I'd like to remain as injury-free as possible. However, there is a flattish, fastest marathon in my future. I'll also no doubt run MDI again. It's the perfect marathon for someone who likes to run trails because...well, just trust me. It's a cool race.

So, what's the plan?
(This is where I start to sound like D. Help me!!!!)

Short term: Recover. I'm taking it easy for a couple weeks. Then on Thanksgiving, D and I are running the Feaster Five in Andover, MA. It's a few minutes from my parents' house. No expectations, but I might try a sneak some speed work in. All depends on how I feel. The best part is that my sister is going to be running, too. Her first race ever. Should be good times.

Medium term: Mid-Winter 10-Mile Classic. I'd like to run kinda fast here.

Long term: Pineland Farms 50k. Yup, you hear that 25k? That's me extending my middle finger to you. Time to step it up. I'd like to...well, run kinda fast here.

I'll be more specific about what kinda fast means as soon as I figure out what exactly I think it means. But, the bottom line, is that I'm going to come up with a real training plan. This year, I proved to myself that I can actually be a runner again. Now, it's time to find out how good. Most all, I'm going to keep having fun and make sure I don't just step off the track.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Official MDI Marathon Race Report

On Saturday, D and I headed for Bar Harbor, and immediately broke from tradition: we stopped at Tim Horton's instead of Dunkin Donuts. The results were positive, and a sign of things to come. Remember, kids, it's all about proper nutrition.

Saturday was uneventful, but a perfect pre-marathon day. We picked up our race numbers at the race expo where we bumped into Jamie and his dad and stepmother at the Expo. We made plans to meet up for an afternoon run, then we headed out to drive the course. There was much less cursing by me on this go around, which I guess was a sign that I was ready to go. We ate lunch in Southwest Harbor, and then met Jamie for a short 2-mile-ish run. D's parents arrived just as we finished our run, and we hung out with them until it was time to head to the pre-race pasta feed. The pasta was tasty, and the company was great as we talked with Jamie and his dad about what else? Running. My parents arrived later in the evening, and our official race crew was set. Time to hit the hay.

Sunday morning dawned downright chilly. D and I hid in our hotel room, which was right at the start, until about 10 minutes before the race started. Good mornings and good lucks all around, and we found our place on the starting line...or rather back in the starting pack. At some point, we decided that we would run as much of the race together for as long as we both felt comfortable. We'd done all our long training runs together, so why not run the race together. In the end, this proved to truly be the key to our success.

And we're off...

After standing at the start line, for what seemed like a month, it was a relief to hear the gun go off. A couple minutes in, we commented that our feet were cold. I'm not sure what the temperature was at the start, but it definitely wasn't above 40. The plan was to run 8:45's for as long as it felt comfortable. First mile: 8:42. Nailed it.

Miles 1-6: Just Getting Warmed Up

Not much to report from the early miles, aside from the brilliance of our pacing. We were both feeling very comfortable and warming up as we went. Miles 3 and 4 are hilly, and it seemed like a number of people were passing us. But we just stuck to our plan and stayed relaxed. At 5 miles, I said to D, "Can you believe we're already at 5?" The response: "Shhhhh." Really, the only annoying part about these first 5 miles was all the spectators drinking coffee. Thanks for cheering, but please hide the coffee mugs next year. It was way too tempting to pull over to the side of the road and curl up under a warm blanket with a cup of coffee. Feeling very comfortable, we hit mile 6 in 51:58ish.

Miles 6-12: That Wasn't Too Bad
At mile 6, I had my own form of coffee—Espresso Hammer Gel. Then we hit the hill before mile 7. Bad name, grouchy little hill. In the course description, they say it "runs easier than it looks." I don't necessarily agree, as it was definitely noticeable. We were still feeling good as we ran through the high rent district of MDI. There was also more uphill from mile 7 to 8 than I remembered from our course drives. Oh well, still feeling comfortable. Our amazing race crew (our parents) was at the 8.5 mark in Seal Harbor, and it was great to have some early cheers. The next part of the course was tough. The climbs in this section, up until mile 10, were tough. We managed our way through them comfortably still running the same pace. I hit a low point between mile 10 and mile 11. It felt like it was taking forever to get to mile 11. I was dragging more than I wanted to admit, but as soon as we went by the "11" sign that feeling went away. We saw our parents again just before the 12 mile mark, and it was another huge boost. We hit mile 12 and the aid station at 1:44:50ish. We'd slowed a touch, but we were still right on target. My plan was to stop at this aid station, drink a cup of water and "regroup." I ate a couple Clif Shot Bloks, Margarita flavor, walked and stopped to stretch a bit.

Miles 13-18: Where is Everyone?
D didn't quite understand, when I said I was going to stop and take a break that I was really going to stop and take a break, so she got quite a bit ahead of me. It took me a little bit to catch up, but we were soon together again weaving through the mean streets of Northeast Harbor. We hit the halfway mark in 1:54:02, and now it was time to get serious. Soon after we hit halfway, the roads got very quiet. There were a couple people around us through here, but for the most part we were alone. It was very strange. In these miles, we passed a couple people, but never any packs, and no one was running with us. Just before mile 14, my shoulder/neck started to tighten. I have a "thing" that happens when I carry a backpack and sometimes on long runs, and it can be pretty painful. I spent a lot of time from miles 14 to 15 trying to stretch it out. I was very concerned that it was going to get progressively worse, which I knew would spell disaster since when it gets painful it hurts so much it constricts my breathing. It's an angry thing that I should probably get looked at, but for now, I just hope it lies dormant. Needless to say, it faded away through my stretching and rubbing, and by mile 15, I was cautiously optimistic. It certainly didn't slow us down, though. I don't remember the split from mile 15, but I said, "Well, that was kinda frisky." D agreed, "Yeah, that might of been a little fast." We decided that we were still both feeling very comfortable, so we didn't get too worried about it. I think that the pace I was running when I was trying to catch up to D after the Mile 12 aid station must have just stuck. As we went past the "famous tree" of MDI Marathon logo fame, we were right along Somes Sound, and a stiff wind started to blow in our faces. Not only was it an unwelcome challenge, but it was also cold. I'm certain that subconsciously we wanted to just get through this section, so our pace didn't slow any even though we were starting to get into some hills. At mile 16, I had a GU packet (Lemon Sublime) as we were climbing, and climbing, and climbing. At about 16.5, I heard from behind: "Anybody need a box of wine?" It was Mindy and Pete on their bikes, and they couldn't have shown up at a better time. The hills, the wind, the being alone were starting to be a drain on us, and it was really great to see some friendly faces. Thanks, guys! It was a huge lift, and before we knew it we were at mile 17. They'd totally taken our minds off the hills, and we thanked them as they rode away. Shortly after we hit an intersection, and there were our parents again. This double shot of cheering and good karma was just awesome. I high-fived my Dad, and off we went. It was a good thing we saw them because the next piece of road sucked. It was slightly uphill and into the wind all the way to mile 18. We were able to ride the adrenaline wave to turn off onto Butler Rd.

Miles 18-21: OK, We're Tired
Shortly after the turn onto Butler Rd., D said, "I need to pee." I had been fighting a slight urge to pee for a few miles, so I didn't complain. We were in and out of the woods in a few seconds, and right back at it. By the way, at the other end of Butler Rd. there are porta-potties. After 18+ miles of running, we found this pretty comical. Now, the course gets really tough. We worked hard on these hills. Really hard, but we were holding our pace. The hill that closes out mile 19 is downright mean, but we pushed right through, even passing a couple people. In fact, after mile 14, no one passed us the rest of the way. Our parents once again gave us a lift right at the nasty hill at mile 20. Another great boost. We hit mile 20 at 2:53:30ish...well ahead, of the projected 2:55:00 to finish at the 3:49:00 goal. Everyone says the marathon starts at 20, so I was prepared for something terrible to happen here. Nothing terrible happened, in fact, I was still feeling pretty good. My plan was to use from 20 to 21 to "regroup." I took stock of how I felt, had another GU, and we kept on going. There was a short steep bump as we headed through Somesville, and I thought to myself, "D looks much stronger than I feel. I think she's got me." I told her that she shouldn't worry about me and just go if she felt good. Unfortunately, she couldn't really respond because she was half choking on a Shot Blok, but the message got through and she mumbled the same to me.

Miles 21-26.2: "Release the Hounds!"

Again, since this was my first marathon, I was somewhat terrified of the final miles. Having watched and run with D in the final 4 miles of the 2006 Maine Marathon, I saw firsthand what these final miles can do to people. As I waited for her that year at the aid station at 22 miles, it looked like a mash unit. Downright ugly. Plus, the MDI Marathon has some big, mean, nasty hills in the final miles. So, I think it was prudent to be fearful. That being said, I had hoped in my best case scenario planning of this race, that once I hit 21, no one was going to pass me. That was my hope. We passed someone right after the 21st mile. He tried to run with us for a few steps. We dusted him. It was on. Also at this point, you can see a long stretch of road in front of you. In my mind, I told myself we were going to catch all those people. We did. Before I knew it, we had climbed one of the bigger hills in this section, and we were really moving. At one point, we passed a guy who said, "Wow. Release the hounds!" Yup, we were serious. We were picking people off left and right. I lost count at 15 around mile 22.5. My brain was too oxygen deprived to count any higher. Sometime around mile 23, we started climbing another hill, and I pushed ahead a little bit. As I surged, I extended my hand back to D, which she slapped, and I was off. I yelled back to her at the top of the hill hoping she could catch back up, but I had just a little more juice. For the first time today, I was alone. I pondered this for a couple seconds because it felt really weird. I guess part of me felt bad, but I know she's really tough and would stay right behind me. Of course, I still didn't want anyone else to pass me because I had told myself no one was going to pass me. So, my head was down, and I kept catching people one by one by one by one. Then all of a sudden I saw the "Top of the Hill" Restaurant, which is indeed the top of the last hill. Where were all those hills that were supposed to be so hard? Had I missed them? I had a brief "holy crap, I'm actually going to finish this thing, and finish it well" moment. I pushed that aside quickly, though, because I still hadn't crested the hill and I was still worried about keeping it together. So, after that short celebration, I put my head down again and really dropped the pace as best I could. There's a long downhill after the restaurant, and you pass the 25-mile mark. My quads felt like they were going to explode. I kept pumping my arms, but hands looked they were detached from the ends. The whole experience was surreal. Oh, and it was really starting to hurt...a lot. A whole big pile of hurt. I started to really worry that all those people I had been passing were going to come back and pass me...making me look like a fool. "Hey, there's the guy that went too early." I didn't want to be that guy, and since I'd never run this far before I was still worried that I was just going to melt down. At 26 miles, you can see the final .2. You can see the finish banner. It was the longest .2 ever. Not a single step of this final .2 felt natural. It didn't even feel like running. I'm sure it looked even worse. I can't say I particularly cared because, well, I was finishing my first marathon! Just before the finish, my Mom was jumping up and down cheering, and I cracked a smile the best I could. I ran across the line, staggered a bit, and turned around to look for D. Of course, our parents wanted to know where she was. "She's fine. She's right behind me." And, then there she was. Hugs and congrats all around. Best. Race. Ever.

Final Results:
Me: 3:43:03, 139th overall, 10 out of 39 age group
D: 3:44:29, 143rd overall, 6 out of 44 age group, an 11-minute PR!

The Aftermath
After teetering and shaking for a bit under my heat sheet, I was finally able to put on some warm clothes. Mindy was at the finish, so we were able to thank her for her help at mile 17. We also got congratulations from Jamie's father and stepmother. And, we congratulated Jamie, who despite some bad stomach issues, still rocked out a 3:27. Best of all, it was so great to have our parents there. The boosts they gave us along the course were phenomenal, and it was just awesome to have them at the finish. They were the best race crew ever. Thanks, guys...and that's not enough. While walking back to the car with my Dad, he asked me, "So, would you do it again." Without hesitation, I said, "Oh yeah."

Today, I'm sore. Stairs are difficult. Really difficult. Getting into or out of a seated position is difficult. My quads hurt the most. (That last downhill destroyed them.) My ankles and hamstrings are sore, too. Also, a touch in my arms and back. Ready for an easy, relaxing week. We've walked a little bit, which has helped, but I don't exactly look fluid. I also earned an enormous blood blister on the fourth toe of my right foot. (Might have to post a picture of it.) It's gruesome and awesome.

Overall, as I think you can tell, I'm obviously really happy with my race. It went amazingly well. I'm so glad that D and I decided to run together as I'm certain that's the reason we both did so well. I definitely could not have run as well without her alongside. I most proud of the negative split. We ran the second half much faster than the first. Everyone who told me not to go out too hard: Thank you. And, thanks to everyone who supported from a far. Especially, thanks to my awesome grandmother for her awesome emails about me doing awesome...and, yes, I called my grandparents today. :)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

MDI Mini-Report

Full race report coming soon, but here's a Sunday night update.

Awesome day for us. D and I ran together for pretty much the entire race, which was not only amazingly helpful but a lot of fun. I ended up having a little more juice over the final hills to finish just ahead.

Me: 139th, 3:43:03
D: 143, 3:44:29 (A 10-minute PR!!!)

Right now, everything hurts. It hurts to wear socks...seriously. More to come soon...

Friday, October 17, 2008

Let's Do This



Seriously, does anything fire you up more than Asia?

This will in all likelihood be the final post before the marathon. The cold is mostly gone. Not completely, but what can I do? There's a medical tent at this thing, right?

Despite what you may have read, I will not be deviating from my plan. I will still be going out easy, with the goal time of 3:49.
Here are the splits that I'm going to focus on:
1 mile - 8:45
6 miles - 52:30
12 miles - 1:45:00
Half - 1:54:38
16 miles - 2:20:00
20 miles - 2:55:00
21-26.2 miles - bring it

So, there it is. We're headed to Bar Harbor tomorrow to pick up our numbers and such. We'll probably do another drive of the course, too.

Say "HI" if you see me tomorrow. I will be the only guy NOT wearing running shoes, jeans (most likely a braided belt), a technical long sleeve from a road race (tucked in), a technical running cap and a Boston Marathon jacket. Seriously, though, why do runners do this? I get it. You run. Congrats. But you're making us look like tools.

Also, feel to say "HI" on race day. I'm not sure what shirt I'm wearing yet, but I will be wearing a gray hat and camo Moeben sleeves. Why? Because they're freakin' camo!

Now to really get fired up the Greatest Music Video of All Time:


If you fail to see the unadulterated awesomeness of that, it's just not going to work out between us.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Burning the Second Grilled Cheese

I needed to run today. It was essential. I hadn't run since Sunday due to my cold, and I was starting to freak out. Additionally, I haven't been sleeping. Lots of staring at the ceiling at midnight. Good times. Tapering is awesome.

So, I got out this morning. Like the second grilled cheese, I was really looking forward to this run. It was meh. So so. I didn't feel very good. In fact, I felt downright sluggish. I had no energy. Uh oh. Of course, this is how you're supposed to feel when you're tapering...um, right? I haven't tapered for so long, I can't remember. The real downside was that while I was running along feeling like boo boo, I started thinking the dreaded negative thoughts. "I've been sick, so maybe Sunday won't be my day." AHHHH! Be gone evil demons! In the last mile, I did a pretty solid job of exorcising those wicked spirits as I felt better and better as I finished up my run. How did I do this? I kept thinking about all the people I'm going to pass in the final 5 miles of the marathon.

I've also decided that marathon weekend is going to be awesome 80's dance party weekend. The iPod will only be playing tunes from the 80's. The drive to Bar Harbor is going to be so much fun! (D hates me already.) And, for your viewing pleasure, if bands sang exactly what was happening in their videos: