Saturday, May 31, 2008

Beach and More Beach

Here's today's results:
Run on Beach
Eat Breakfast
Sit on Beach
Go in the Ocean
Sit on Beach
Eat Lunch
Drink Frozen Margaritas
Sit on Beach
Go in Ocean
Sit on Beach off to dinner...

Friday, May 30, 2008

Get a Jeep

Today rocked the house. We terrorized pretty much all of the island of Aruba in a Jeep. We're not really into tours as we don't like being herded from place to place, so we made our own tour. It's funny, all the people we've talked to for advice always want to send us to the most touristy places. It's tough to explain to them that we're not the typical American tourists and that we hate McDonald's.

Our goal was to get to Arikok National Park. Just getting there is a challenge. Aruba is not so big on road signs. In fact, we got lost about 10 different times today, but we did make it to Arikok. At first we didn't know we were there because the road was partially blocked and, of course, no sign. We drove into the park, and I have to say that my Jeep driving skills are epic. I was tearing around all over the place.

Our first stop in Arikok was Cunucu Arikok. Apparently, a Cunucu is some sort of historical site. We ran around the trail here which after about 7 minutes brought us back to the parking lot, where we turned on the trail marked "Cero Arikok, 1.4km." As we ran along, we realized that Cero means Mountain. It got steep. Oh, did I mention that Arikok is basically a desert and it was about 95 degrees. Beautiful, but hotter than hell. Our run turned into a hike, as we just took it easy in the heat. But it was awesome.

After Cero Arikok, we headed for Fontein Cave along the coast. The cave was OK, but the drive out there was sweet. More dirt roads. Rugged stuff, and quite fun to drive in a Jeep. Although, Jeeps pretty much are the least comfortable vehicles of all time. After Fontein Cave we stopped at the roadside bar for lunch. It didn't look that appetizing, but the food was killer. I had pork on a stick with peanut sauce and french fries. What's better than that?

More crazy roads lay ahead as we headed towards the town of San Nicolas and Baby Beach. San Nicolas is also home to Valero Oil Refinery. It's huge. It's disgusting. Ah, paradise. We eventually found Baby Beach...again, no signs. We went for a swim to cool off since Aruba is nothing but hot.

Lost once again after we left San Nicolas, but eventually reached our next stop: Natural Bridge...or what used to be Natural Bridge. It collapsed. Oh well, the drive there was beautiful.

A stop for ice cream, and then back at the hotel. A long day, but a great one. It was great to see more of the island, and, in fact, to see what the island is really like. We're staying in the uber-touristy section, appropriately named, High Rise Hotels. The rest of the island is nothing like it. It's poor. It's run down. It's struggling. Life on Aruba is not all rainbows and candy as the staff of the Hyatt has tried to make it seem. I almost feel like the concierge was pushing us to take the tour, so we'd stay in the touristy areas. No way. Driving through the streets, neighborhoods and towns was much more real. And more interesting. Did I mention hot?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Team Snowplug Invades Aruba

It's hot.
It's sunny.
It's different.

We're in Aruba for my sister's wedding. So far, we've eaten and drank. Not too bad. Tomorrow, we've rented a jeep to explore the island. Could be awesome. Could also be disastrous. We're hoping to run in Arikok National Park. Wish us luck.

(FYI: Internet connection is spotty, so updates may be minimal.)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Morning Runs Are Dumb

Morning people are evil. I ran with D this morning. She's evil. I hate running first thing in the morning, but today the scheduled dictated that I must. It was only 3 miles. I survived. I was cranky, but I survived. I think my body felt fine, but it was still asleep.

One thing I failed to mention was a significant anniversary that happened this weekend. While cruising through race results on Cool Running, I realized that the Catholic Conference Championship Meet was held this weekend. Sadly, my alma mater lost to B.C High. The significance, however, of this meet is that I hold a record for the meet. "Wow, you must have been fast in high school," you're thinking. Well, not really. I hold the record for the slowest winning time in the history of the 2-mile. Or at least I think I still do. Fifteen years ago (gulp), on a really hot day at White Stadium in Franklin Park, I won the Catholic Conference 2-Mile Championship in a pedestrian 10:21. (I think, it might have been 10:23.) At the time, and a couple years post, it was the slowest winning time in the history of the meet. I couldn't find any info online about the meet's history, so I'm going to assume that I still hold this "honor."

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Recovery Skip

OK, I wasn't actually skipping, but I did just runs 3 miles in the Commons. I felt great. Wow. I was a little tight, but that whole Pineland thing did just happen. I expected to be really creaky, but I felt great. I would also like to report that there are in fact a lot of ladyslippers in the Commons. But not 90. Maybe you need to be closer to the ground to see them.

Speaking of the Pineland thing, I've been thinking a lot about my result, and the more I think about it, the happier I get. I think my Mom put it in perspective for me. Normally, Moms aren't great for perspective: "I'm sure you were the best and most handsome runner out there!" But, she said, "Well, you ran." Based on how things looked a month ago, I guess that really is an accomplishment. I didn't run for a whole month! And that month was last month! I've also been reading a number of race reports from across the Interwebs (Everyone agrees it was an awesome race!), and I realized that these people have all been doing a lot of running. Me, not so much. The most mileage I've done in any single week so far this year is 26. 26. That's it. Plus, I've come to realize I'm really starting from scratch.

Mike and I were talking after the race, and he said that I should run the Mayor's Cup, which is a annual cross country race held in Franklin Park each October. To race, they request that you can run a sub-30:00 8k.
Me: "There's no way I can break 30:00 for 8k right now."
Mike: "You used to be able to do that in your sleep. Sure you can."
Me: "That was 10 years ago."

And, I think that's just it. I haven't been this interested in running since college. Not even close. Between injuries, burn out and more injuries, running just hasn't been a priority. Sure, I've dabbled, but barely. This is all a little different. I'm starting over. Yes, I once ran 16:09 for 5k, but that was a different person. So, for now, I'm going to keep running, build up the mileage and throw a few races in between. Who knows where I'll end up. And, really, right now, just running is the important thing. So, the Pineland Farm 25k? I had an awesome race. That being said, it still hurt like hell.

Speaking of awesome races, here are a couple race reports:
Jamie (I haven't officially met him yet, but I read his blog. He runs a lot. Impressive.)

So, this post is all full of happy happy, here's something gross. It involves poop. Running and poop. And something that I'm really glad didn't happen to me on Sunday. Click at your own peril.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Pineland Farms 25k

I really can't put into words how much that hurt.

Brief Synopsis: This is fun. This is OK. This is starting to hurt. This really hurts. Oh my God! I'm going to drop out. I'm feeling a little better. I'm OK. I'm moving along. This hurts. I'm walking. Why won't this end? Ouch. Just get to the finish.

Team Sonic Death Monkey Assembles
Starting on Friday night, our friends starting rolling into town. We had 5 other friends running the 25k and 1 dumbass running the 50k. We, well me, decided to dub our team "Sonic Death Monkey." (Ed note: Couple F-bombs coming up.)

Since "High Fidelity" is one of my favorites movies, I thought it was appropriate, and somehow, everyone was cool with it. We are Sonic Death Monkey!

First Miles
We arrived at Pineland Farms over an hour before the start of the race. Well, the 25k, anyway. The 50k had started at 8:00am, which meant that Nate was out there somewhere. The yahoos running the 50 Mile had started at 6:00am. ugh. We had plenty of time to get everything in order before the race, but somehow I forgot to put my number on. You know, I've only done 8,000 races in my life, so naturally, I'd forget this. I scrambled back to Camp Death Monkey, fished it out my bag, and got it pinned on just as the race started.
My plan was to go out really easy. The first 3 miles are mostly downhill, and I didn't want to charge out and pay for it later. So, I started way back in the pack. As it turned out I ran the first 1.5 or so with Mike and Vicky—our friends and esteemed members of Sonic Death Monkey. Shortly after this, Mike pulled ahead and was never to be seen again. Vicky and I chatted and ran easily through 3 miles. I was feeling really good at 3, and we went through in around 24:15ish. (There were no mile markers, so all my splits were a bit of a guess based on my course knowledge.)

Gurgle, gurgle
I bypassed the first aid station, since I was wearing my Fuel Belt. I had one bottle of water and one bottle of water/Hammer Gel mix. This combination had worked really well me on all my long runs. At some point around 4.5 miles, my stomach started rumbling, and I was burping a lot. At this point we were running through one of the many wide open fields. The sun was hot. Then my stomach started to cramp. Not good times. I tried to ignore it. At 5 miles, there's a decent climb, and my "race plan" was to maintain my pace up this climb, figuring I'd move up on a number of people. As it turns out, this is exactly what happened. I ran the hill well, and Vicky was trailing along behind. At the top of the climb, the course heads back out into another field, and I really started to feel bad through here. My stomach was killing me. Cramp, cramp, cramp. As we exited the field and back into the woods, Vicky went by me, and that was the last I would see of her. In fact, a number of people passed me from mile 6 through mile 8. I was hurting.

The Horror
At mile 7 the course goes back out into another field. Between the heat and my stomach, it was brutal. I knew that I was getting dehydrated, so I tried to drink some Hammer Gel and water. But every time I did, my stomach felt much worse. In fact, I couldn't really keep the Hammer Gel down. I never exactly threw up, but I would burp and Hammer Gel goo would come up along with it. Acidic, raspberry yuk. Things were not going well. I was also starting to hunch over from the pain in my gut, which isn't exactly conducive to running. Since the course is so twisty, at different points, you can see other runners that are either ahead or behind. At this point, I saw D, and I think all I said was "Ouch." Going through the 8 mile point, I was really hurting. I was seriously thinking about dropping out. It was through here that I was getting passed on a regular basis. Up until my 7 or so, I was doing all the passing because I'd started so conservatively, but now I was getting crushed. Every so often, I'd come upon a 50k-er or 50-miler who was going slower, but it was little consolation, since they were running twice as far. There's an aid station at 8.5, and I stopped here to try some water. I hoped that walking and drinking would help, as opposed to trying to drink on the fly...or on the crawl as the case may be.

I'm Not Dead Yet

The cold water and the walking helped. That was a really good thing, since from 8.5 to 10 miles the course is basically all uphill. There are two steeps sections, which I walked, but even as I was walking, I was passing people. These were small victories, but I think they helped. My stomach was still cramping, but back down to a manageable level. Then I was basically alone. I ran from about mile 9 to mile 11 by myself. At 10 miles, the course passes through the start/finish area, and I actually was feeling pretty good. Up until this point, my stomach had felt so bad, I failed to do any mental checks of my legs, but they felt pretty good for running a hilly, rough 10 miles on a hot day. Again, the stomach was still cramped, but slightly less angry. I'm sure the adrenaline of going through the start/finish/festival area gave me a boost. I stopped at the aid station at 10.5 for more water and motored on. At this point, I was really glad and I didn't drop out, and I wasn't going to be put on the cart.

Just Survive
As I entered the Oak Hill section of the course, which is the final 5 miles, I was starting to see people in front of me. I was actually gaining on people. At this point, I didn't care if they were running 50 miles, I was actually moving faster than someone. (That being said, quite a few of the 50 milers ran the same pace I did for 15.5.) Of course, the point where I could see people was around another field. The fields were so hot. It was the hottest weather I'd run in all season, and it was really draining. I could feel my feet getting hot. My energy was waning. I knew that a little Hammer Gel would help, and I tried one more sip. Bad idea. More yuk. But, only a handful of people passed me from miles 11 to 14.5. It was weird because I was mostly alone in my suffering. Someone would close on me and go by quickly, or I would do the same to someone else. I never really had anyone to run with through here. I'm using the term "run" loosely, as I did a fair amount of walking on the hills through the last 3 miles. The pain in my gut had really taken a lot out of me. In fact, every time I reached a downhill, my pace would naturally quicken, which would knot up my insides. It was really draining, both physically and mentally. I just wanted to survive. My goal was to keep it together and finish strong. I knew that my legs had enough in them to keep me upright through the finish. Although, they were starting to get heavy. Not a lot of spring left, which was no doubt a combination of the lack of training and energy sucking pain in my gut.

At Last
At 14.5, you have to run out into another field...just a brutal way to finish. One guy passed me just before we hit the field, and somehow the competitive runner in me kicked in, and I stayed just behind him until the finish. I even passed a couple people in the final mile. Mike and Vicky were just up from the finish to give me a final cheer and push to the end. My watch read 2:19:02, and I feel like I felt every second of it. I nearly fell over when the nice volunteer tried to take the tag off my number to record my finish. I spent the next couple minutes in a daze. Too tired to get water or Gatorade, and my gut too angry to make think I wanted to drink it. Now, it really started to hurt. I slowly sipped some water and groaned.

What Happened?

I'm not really sure what caused the stomach cramps. I had some yogurt for breakfast. Maybe that was it. I've eaten yogurt tons of times before runs, though. Maybe it was the heat. It was really hot in the fields, and I hate the heat. Maybe my stomach does, too. Maybe it was the meatloaf I ate for dinner two nights before the race. I have no idea.
All that being said, I'm actually fairly happy with my race. It was slower than I had hoped, but I'm really pleased with my effort. I pushed hard through the tough periods. After not running for all of April, my body felt pretty good. My quads are a bit sore today, but not bad. Also, 15.5 is the longest I've ever run. That seems a bit strange to say, but it's true. Somehow, I never managed to run that long. I think I did one 15-miler in college, but that was it. Obviously, I really wish my stomach hadn't been so cramped, but looking ahead, I don't imagine that I could possibly feel any worse for such a long period of time. Basically, I felt bad for 10 miles. That's a good percentage of the race, yet I was still able to hang in. And, really, I figured that 2:19, which is 9-minute miles was a realistic goal. I was really hoping to break 2:10, but I'll take it.

Sonic Death Monkey Rocks the House

As far as the team goes, it was a great day. Official results haven't been posted yet, but I'll link to them when they're up.
After starting out in the back of the pack with Vicky and I, Mike worked his way up through...well, everyone to finish 4th! He ran 1:48 and change, which I can barely comprehend. I think he cheated. He finished first in his age group and scored a sweet trophy.
Vicky, who wasn't even planning to run the race, finished in 2:14. She's running the Covered Bridges 1/2 Marathon next weekend, and she decided that after this race that is going to feel like a piece of cake.
D had a great race. Her goal was to break 2:30, and she crushed it. 2:25/2:26 or so. Right on my heels! I need to get rid of that stomach cramp.
In her first race since birthing out Finley, Shannon ran 2:42, and said it was "fun." I'm not sure she was running the same race.
Willow snuck by us at the finish, and I can't recall her time. But, she said she couldn't believe how hard it was.
In the last few yards, Tank told me I was "evil." That may or may not be true, but he ran a really strong 3:03. As he put it: "Having someone on your team named "Tank" doesn't really improve your chances." I beg to differ.
NateDawg was next to come into the finish as he finished the 50k. He finished in 5:15, and was not a happy camper. He said to me afterwards: "I think the 25k would have been a wiser choice." Hopefully, he got a good night's sleep and has actually eaten something by now.
Team results have yet to be posted, but I think Team Sonic Death Monkey will fare pretty well. We have the coolest name anyway.

What a great race. Pineland Farms is a great venue, and the race organizers did a fantastic job. Great atmosphere, and a great post-race barbecue. Well, once I managed to be able to eat. All in all, a first class race. We stayed until about 5:00 watching the 50k and 50 mile finishers. A lot of fun.
The course, however, is brutal. There are no breaks. None. It is relentless. It hates you. It's by far the hardest race I've ever run...and I wouldn't even call what I was doing racing. I'm really impressed by all the 50k and 50 mile runners. I can't even imagine doing more than one lap of that course. That being said, I'm certain I'll be back for the 25k again next year. I'm such an idiot.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Oh Well

Ran 3 miles this afternoon on the trails behind Mt. Ararat. Didn't feel that great. Just kind of off. Rolled my ankle. Not enough to cause any issues, just annoying. I wore my crappy shorts. Got a little uncomfortable rubbage. grumble

Not exactly the easy, confidence boosting run I was hoping for. Oh well, nothing I can do about it all now.

Pineland, here were come.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Spring Trail Running Series, Week 2

You know, running is dumb.

My plan for this week was to just take it easy. I wanted to run a solid effort, but not really push it. Sort of a quasi-tempo run. And, this is what I did. I just stayed relaxed and rolled along. I felt pretty good. It was a good effort, and not nearly as hard as last week. I finished strong and...well, I was only 4 seconds slower than last week. HUH? Running is dumb.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Short, easy run on the trails at Great Glen this evening. I explored some single track I hadn't run before, which was cool. Overall, I felt kind of creaky. Nothing hurt, but everything just felt a little off. Probably due to a crazy work day and the fact that I didn't hit the trails until about 6:15. I definitely prefer to run the afternoon, but this was a little too late. Anyway, nothing exciting to report. Trail Running Series again tomorrow night. I'm not planning to go all out as there's that little matter of 25k on Sunday.

It's funny, I do find myself thinking a lot about the 25k when I'm out running. I feel like I pretty much have my "race" strategy planned out. I know where I want to take it easy, and I know where I want to push it. I am missing one major piece: the pace. I know what I'd like to run, but that's probably not going to happen. I have an idea of what I think I could do pace-wise, but that seems really slow. I really don't want to die like I did in February at the 10-Miler. That sucked, so I'd like to avoid a repeat performance. So, maybe I don't have a strategy. Crap. I just stressed myself out.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

No Run Today?

No run for me today. So, let's go to politics. Hey, it's my blog...

For me, this pretty much sums it up:

Sportscenter aficionados will realize, the only things missing is "Way Downtown...BANG!" That being said, I'm not sure if I should laugh or cry.

Obama/Olbermann '08?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Bruiser without the O

Today, D and I ran the Bradbury Bruiser course but left out the "O" Trail. (I have no idea why O is in quotes.) That works out to be a 10-mile tour of the west side of Bradbury Mountain State Park.

I woke up feeling a bit creaky after our hike yesterday, especially my hamstrings and back. I was a bit surprised, since the hike came so easily yesterday. Needless to say, I was Mr. Crankypants for most of the morning. Of course, when you're not feeling great, a twisty, turny, uneven trail is a great choice. (I'm not that smart.) Once we the the trails, though, things started to feel better. And, all in all, I felt pretty good for the entire run. The difficulty of the terrain keeps the pace slow, which is just what I needed. About 30 minutes in, I had pretty much decided to be sure to get the 10 miles in. Psychologically, I felt like this was pretty important with the 25k on the horizon.

At about 1:30, D turned into Ms. Crankpants because that was all we had originally planned to run. At this point, even the shortest route back was .5 mile. She started in that direction, but eventually joined me for the rest of the course. Grumpily, I might add.

But, it ended up being a great run, and I feel like I'm in moderately OK shape for next weekend.

Baldface Cricle Trail

Yesterday was our first hike of the 2008 hiking season. Our hope was to get out and backpack a section of the Appalachian Trail, but the word on the street, is that there is snow most places above 3000 feet. This didn't really bode well for an AT attempt since most of the hikes we have left involve some peaks over 3000'. Either that, or they can only be reached by still impassable roads. With all that in mind, we had heard that the Baldface Circle Trail was free of snow, even though it reached the summit of North Baldface at 3610'.

After weaving our way across Maine, we started hiking at around 9:30. The black flies were aggressive. guh. I hate black flies. The first 2.5 miles of the trail were fairly mellow, and we cruised right along. We stopped for a break at the Baldface Shelter, and then began our ascent up the ledges. We had hiked this trail about a 1000 years ago, so we knew there were ledges. Somehow, we had forgot how rugged and difficult the trail really was. There is no way I would want to do this trail in the rain. I'm not sure it would be possible. Anyway, we scrambled and tussled our way up the ridge. At one point, I climbed up ahead, and D had to use my outstretched foot to pull herself up. Like I said, it was tough. That being said, the hike was beautiful, and it only got better as we went along. Once we finished the ledges, we spent the next few miles on open ridgeline above treeline over the summits of South and then North Baldface. It's a really great loop. We hit a little bit of snow on the way down from North Baldface, but it waseasily navigable. In last couple miles w ran into a number of blowdowns, a lot of debris in the trail and hobblebush that was blooming and taking over the trail. We have a few cuts and scrapes to go along with the black fly bites. The strangest moment of the day came when I stepped off the trail to pee. I spotted something red and shiny a few yards away. I found a treasure! Yeah, that's a balloon. You can't really tell, but it has a horse on it. It floated from somewhere.

All in all, a great day, and a great way to kick off the season. Here are the photos.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

I am a Colossal Dork

I know this isn't really news to any of you out there, but it has been proven once again. Today I signed up for Fantasy Track & Field. I'm such a tool. I've been playing fantasy sports for a long time now. I used to be really into it. And by really into it, I mean obsessed. I've played football, baseball, basketball, hockey, even golf. It was a disease. I've had as many as 4 football teams in one season. (That year, I did win 3 out of 4 championships, I might add.) But fantasy track & field? I don't even know half these people. But, perhaps that's the point: I now will be watching the women's high jump with some interest. Maybe fantasy track & field will get people interested in the sport. Well, maybe at least dorks anyway.

So, get your lineups in. The adidas Track Classic airs on ESPN tomorrow night.

In other running news, Oscar Pistorius has been cleared to run in the Beijing Olympics, overturning a ruling by the IAAF. I have to admit I'm on the fence about this. Being a double amputee certainly doesn't give you an advantage in life, but his prosthetic legs may give him an advantage on the track. Possibly. Are they "technical aids?" I don't know enough about physiology or physics to really be certain, but if there is a question at all, it doesn't seem like he should be allowed to compete. That being said, he's certainly impressive.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Spring Trail Running Series, Week 1

First of all, don't each enchilada pie for lunch on race day. It's just a bad idea. Trust me.

Well, the first week of the Spring Trail Running Series is in the books, and I have to say it was successful. My plan was to run hard, but conservatively. I needed to test out my calf, but not overdo it. Mission accomplished. Everything felt fine during the run, and everything feels fine today. Tight in the hamstrings from the effort, but nothing to worry about. That being said, I'm definitely not as fit as I would like. The course is really hilly. The first mile is easy, but the second mile is killer—practically all uphill with plenty of gnarly single track. It's rugged, and a good test. I would have felt better about the test if it hadn't been my first real speed work of the season, but I'll take it. The course is 3.5 miles, and I finished in 26:27. Slower than I would like, but faster than I thought it would be after my test run on Wednesday. All in all, a good day. Here are the results. (Before anyone gets all excited about my name being at the top of the results sheet, you have to know that it's a really, really small pond. Plus, I did get beat...but she was in the Olympics.)

Shifting gears, I found this compilation of "Manny's Greatest Hits" too good not to share.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Course Preview

This afternoon, I got out to check out the course that will make up the Spring Trail Running Series at work that starts tomorrow. It's going to be tough. It measures out to 3.5 miles and is a nasty mix of single track, carriage roads and hills. It's all hilly. Then it gets hilly. Like I said, it's going to be tough.

I'm going to use tomorrow as a test to see where I am. I have to admit, I'm feeling pretty confident after the two long runs I've done at Pineland and Camden in the last two weeks. Granted, I haven't done any speed work, but I haven't had any problems with my calf. That's the key. Not confident, I'll be fast, but confident I can finish. So, we'll see how it goes.

In a completely unrelated story, the rest of the world hates W, too.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Back in the day, I was seen running a steeplechase or two. Not very fast, I must add. But, thankfully, I've never done this.

Kid Fails At Steeplechase - Watch more free videos

And, yes, these are the posts you'll be subjected to on my days off. Then again, they're probably not any better than the regularly scheduled programming.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Recovery Run

Here's a boring post: We ran 3 miles in the Commons today. Felt pretty good after yesterday's effort. That's it.

Here's a preview of the Pineland Farm Trails Challenge by way of review. (We are all going to die.)

Nice work by Jamie with the video. (Also found by Boom Boom, as noted in the comments to this post. But he gets no credit because he's limp.)

Camden Hills State Park

Yesterday, D and I headed up to Camden Hills State Park for a long run. We've hiked in the park a number of times, and we had wanted to run there for quite some time. For obvious reasons, it hadn't quite come together yet, but yesterday it all worked out. Camden Hills offers a good mix of dirt roads, mellow trails and serious hiking trails that make it a great place for a long run, and we hit each of those three categories yesterday. Our plan was to go for a run, but we knew that due to the steepness of the trails and the roughness of the terrain that we would also be hiking in places. Overall, we probably ran about 80% of the trails.

We started on the Snowmobile trail at the north end of the park, which is really a dirt road. It's mostly uphill as it reaches into the heart of the park, but it was a relatively mellow way to start out. After a short downhill section, we hit the Slope Trail, which climbs about 800 feet in 1.5 miles to the summit of Mt. Megunticook. This was by far the steepest section of trail we encountered, and it was where we did most of out hiking. There was a brief reprieve in the middle, where the trail traversed the slope, allowing us to run, but it was only a couple hundreds yards long. The rest was all up, up, up. When we hit the summit, we headed left toward Ocean Outlook, which is about a 1/2 mile to the east of the summit of Megunticook and offers great views. From here we headed down from Ocean Outlook to the Jack Williams Trail, which traverse beneath the leadge of Mt. Megunticook. This trail was fairly flat and made for great running. Not great running in the sense it was a flat road, but that would have been boring. It was a fairly rugged trail, and trail running is where it's at. We eventually junctioned with Ridge Trail, which was rough, rooty and fairly steep. It was definitely tough going at this point in the run as we had been out for about 1:30. After the Ridge Trail, things mellowed out quite a bit on Zeke's Trail, which was flat to downhill and grassy. Very smooth. Next, we headed left on the Sky Blue Trail, which was out favorite of the run. It's only about 1.5 miles long, but worth the trip alone. There's nothing stunning about it, but it's a great trail for running. Because of it's location in the park, it seems to get less use than many of the other trails, but it's not to be missed. We finished up back on the Snowmobile Trail for the downhill cruise back to the car. Well, there really wasn't much cruising at this point, since we were both pretty tired.

We ended up running/hiking for 2:13:00, a total of 11 miles. That works out to just over 12:00 per mile, which is pretty solid for the terrain. Definitely a long time to be out there. That being said, it was a good training run, and a confidence booster heading towards the Pineland Farms 25k of Death. Here are the rest of the photos.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

No Power

Hit the trails at Great Glen for the first time this spring. Still one of my favorite places to run. Great mix of carriage roads, tough hills and single track. But enough of the shameless plug for work.

My layoff had a strange affect: no power. When I hit the hills, I seem to just slow down. And the answer isn't: "Well, of course, you idiot, it's a hill." It's hard to describe, but I feel like I'm missing a gear. Hopefully, that gear will magically reappear, since there are a couple hilly runs on my calendar this summer.

That being said, it was a great run. Not sure how long I ran as I guess I hit the wrong button on my watch. The stopwatch didn't start. I think it was around 50 minutes, though; about 5 miles. I also wore my Merrells, and it's official: they rock.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Commons, Shoes, Racists and Swimmers

Back to the Commons today for a 3-miler. Basically, it was a recovery run from our long run the other day. I was a little creaky at the start, but overall, I felt fine. Nothing at all from the calf, and my cold is just about gone.

The best news of the run was my new shoes. Believe it or not, I've actually found another pair of shoes that fit: Merrell Cruise Controls. As I was running along I thought, "I'm cruising, but I'm in control." They'll be great trail shoes, and they only weigh an ounce more than my Asics. I'm psyched to finally find something that will work. I'm also thinking about using these on dayhikes because they're fairly sturdy.

The run was also good because I had to blow off some steam after running a couple short errands that took about 8 times longer than they should have because of people in my way. Don't people realize that I have things to do. "Buy three get one free" means that you have to buy three, not two. And, no I don't mind standing here for 5 minutes while the clerk explains it to you.

Also, while driving around, I was listening to NPR again. They were breaking down the Democratic Primary in Indiana. (Like I really needed to hear more after staying up until midnight last night watching MSNBC.) One of the analysts was profiling the voters that Hillary Clinton did the best with: white, lower income, less educated. He also said that these voters are those who are likely to vote for McCain, if Obama were to win the democratic nomination. Also in Indiana, among white voters that said that race was an issue, 75% or so voted for Clinton, and the majority of those voters have a lower income and are less educated. In other words, racists are likely to vote for McCain. That's awesome. ARRGGGGHHHHHHH!!! NPR makes me mad.

On a more uplifting note, this is impressive:

I think I need to spend $100,000 on a support crew. I'd be fast 41-year-old mom. Um, that didn't come out right.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

And, We're Back!

After barely surviving yesterday's run, I awoke this morning with only a little bit of tightness. So, really, no ill effects. Good stuff. That being said, we are still all going to die.

With that in mind, we're going back to saying and not whining. So, let's keep it up around here.

Today, there was a great link on AdRants (which I highly recommend) to the Greatest Commercial Parodies of all time. Very funny.

Monday, May 5, 2008

"Take Comfort in the Fact that You Didn't Sign Up for the 50k."

We're all going to die. Seriously.

D and I ran at Pineland today. The goal was to check out the side of the course that I skipped last week. D has already run a good chunk of this part of the course, and she warned me that it was a bit more difficult than the Oak Hill Section. Well, it's not only a bit more difficult, it's fraught with death. Holy schnikees. We are all going to die.

In the vein of not overdoing it, my original plan was to run with D for a couple miles, and then make my way back via a shorter route, while she completed the rest of the course on that side of Pineland. I was hoping that my calf and whatnot would be OK through at least five, perhaps even seven miles.

The course is really hard. And, I mean, really hard. There are no big hills, but there are no flat sections. I think it might be easy for about 10 feet over the 25k. At about 5k D said, "Take comfort in the fact that you didn't sign up for the 50k." The trail is rough and the hills just keep coming. It's not going to be pleasant.

Just before 6k, we arrived at the yurt. I had originally planned to turn back here, but I decided to run the winter field loop with D because I was feeling good. To those of you that are running this race: When you look at the course map, do not scoff at the field loops. They are hilly, uneven and evil. They will eat your soul. We are all going to die. Seriously.

After this loop, the course heads back into the woods, and I told D that I thought I'd like to continue on with her. She didn't complain as this meant she wouldn't have to read the map by herself...that never ends well. So we kept going along the course. We skipped one of the field loops because...well, we kind of wussed out. Anyway, we made our way through the rest of the course and began the Campus Loop.

At this point, we had probably run 13k, and I thought I was going to die. I was pretty beat. That's when it goes uphill. The next 2k are basically all uphill. All of it. Uphill. We are all going to die.

We made it back to the car in 1:34. We figured this was about 9.5 miles. I then whimpered at the car. D begrudgingly went on for more mileage. She wasn't psyched about it, but she was hoping to run longer. I was glad to see her suck it up and go for it. Most impressive. For me, I'm really psyched to finish this run without pain in any of my many vulnerable parts. Very good sign.

With that in mind, due to the difficulty of the course, my expectations are even lower. I just want to survive. We are all going to die. Here's my recommendation if you've already signed up: Go to the race, pick up your number, skip the run and just drink the free beer.

It's gonna be hard.

We are all going to die.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

April Recap

As has been well documented, April kinda sucked.

That being said, April was not without its lessons learned. The experiment continues. Even though, I'm just starting up again, I'm hopeful that I am still on the right track. Sounds strange, I know. But I feel like I've learned enough to keep me on the right track, anyway. My summer races won't be what I had planned on, but hopefully, I'll be better off in the long run. No pun intended.

I'm still planning on running the Pineland Farms 25k. Well, at least I'll be putting on a number and attempting to complete the course. That's about the level of expectations right now. Depending on how May goes, I'll make a decision on Mt. Washington. Right now, I'm 50/50. It's not a race that I want to go into undertrained. I think that would be a really bad decision. So we'll see. Also on the calendar, which I haven't mentioned yet, is the Trail Running Series at work. I had pretty much been hoping to do some damage in the really small pond, but at this rate, I'll be pretty happy just to do the 6 out of 8 weeks and win socks. Again, the expectations all around have been lowered.

Anyway, here are the anemic April numbers:
Miles: 19.75
Hours: 3

Boy, am I tired.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Help! I'm in a Triathlon!

I had a fairly wacky dream last night. Somehow I found myself entered in a triathlon. But, of course, this was a dream, so it was a fairly whacked out triathlon. This is as much as I remember, so there are a few holes.

First of all, I arrived at the triathlon venue. It was half high school gymnasium, half mall, half outdoor pavilion. I picked up my race packet and proceeded to get ready for the race. I had a bag of race wearables and such, and plenty of time before the race started. Since this was a dream, the order of the triathlon was backwards: run, bike, then swim. So, as I proceeded to get ready to run, I realized that even though I thought I had plenty of time, the race was about to start. For some reason, I couldn't get myself to the starting line. Putting on a shirt, tying my all seemed to take forever. It was very stressful. I barely made it to the start line, but I didn't have time to pin on my race number. Instead, I wore a number from another race. I just happened to have one with me. For some reason this was easier to pin onto my shirt.

The race started, and I immediately felt lost. I think M.C. Esher was the course designer. Packs of runners seemed to be coming out of every corner of the woods. (Apparently, the run portion of the triathlon was on trails.) I knew I was on the right course, but I couldn't figure out where all the other runners were going to or coming from. I kept asking people if I was going the right way, and they each said I was. The run seemed to drag on forever, and every second it was more and more disorienting.

I assume because this was a dream, I skipped forward over the bike portion. I don't remember ever finishing the run, but I know that I did the bike portion because I went into the transition area after the bike with a bike helmet on. The transition to the swim was a locker room. In the locker room, I was to change into my swim gear and choose my swim course. I could A. swim in the ocean, which was very rough; B. swim in a lake, which was full of leeches; or C. swim laps in a pool. Not many people chose the pool, but I did. I had to swim 160 laps in the pool, but it was an honor system. You had to count your own laps. Presiding over the pool was a Nurse Ratched type character who seemed very displeased with the whole situation.

I jumped in the pool and began my laps. I realized that I would never be able to keep track of 160 laps, so I started by counting with the alphabet. I figured that this way, I could then switch to numbers and then back to the alphabet without losing track. After a lap or two I realized that not everyone was doing their 160 laps. Some competitors jumped in the pool and jumped right back out, announcing that they were finished. I didn't protest because I figured that Nurse Ratched would inform the race committee. Instead, she started yelling at me for swimming. You see, the pool was only about 3 feet deep, so instead of swimming I was supposed to half run, half sideways swim from one end to the other. Swimming was not allowed. I switched my technique, and the more laps I did in this awkward half run/half swim, the shorter the pool got. Soon, I could reach from one end to the other without moving. I just had to reach my arm out, so I quickly reached my 160 laps.

Out of the pool, I changed back into my running clothes to run to the finish. (Apparently, my triathlon had a fourth stage of running at the end.) At the finish, race officials informed me that I was disqualified for wearing the wrong race number. I protested because the number I wore, 3, was the same as the number I had been given for this race. But to no avail. I was disqualified.

Then I woke up.
Anyone have any idea what that means?

Friday, May 2, 2008


Short, 3-miler today in the Commons. Same route I always get lost on. Didn't get lost today, which was an accomplishment. Also, an accomplishment was just getting out the door, since I'm still fighting this cold. Felt better today, but still not 100%. It felt good to get the blood flowing. Oh yeah, the calf thing. Nothing to report. No news is definitely good news.

The Commons were surprisingly dry, even though 6 inches of rain fell the other day. My new shoes still look almost new. They're embarrassingly glowing white.

Speaking of new shoes, I know you've all been wondering what I ended up doing with my shoe dilemma. I returned the Brooks to Maine Running Company. I don't think they would be bad shoes for me, but those are the shoes that I initially hurt my calf in. So, they have bad juju. They had to go. (The good news is that we traded them in for a new pair of shoes for D.) I ended up finding my old shoes online, so I'm right back where I started. I'm happy though because I really like them. They fit. What a novel concept. So, I'm back in the Asics Kayano IX's, which are three versions behind the current model. Hopefully, I'll be able to pick them up for a little while longer. I also picked up a pair of Merrell Cruise Controls at L.L. Bean. I had never even thought about Merrell for running shoes, but they look to be really nice trail runners. It make sense, they make great hiking boots. I'm had good success with their boots in the past, so I'm hopeful that these will work for me. If not, I can return them. I could set them on fire, and L.L. Bean will still take them back. I haven't run in them yet because I was waiting until my calf healed. I'm planning to try them next week.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

NPR Makes Me Mad

I said I wouldn't do this...

I drive a lot. Therefore, I listen to the radio a lot. What I most often listen to is NPR. (Close on the heels of NPR is Sports Radio, but that doesn't make me mad.) NPR makes me mad. It's not NPR itself that makes me mad. Everything they report on makes me mad. I often find myself yelling at the radio.

Last week, John McCain said that the problem with health care in America is that it's too expensive. Really, John, I had no idea. Thanks for that insight. I yelled at the radio. Today, Hillary Clinton has been showing the state of Indiana that she's a regular person who understands the plight of regular working people. She did this by sitting at a table and talking to people. She just didn't bring up the fact that she and Bill made $9 million last year. (Not the exact number, but it's close. Besides, this isn't exactly credible journalism.) I yelled at the radio. And Barrack Obama, well, I don't really have anything bad to say because he doesn't make me yell at the radio. And because of that, he's my choice. Is it bad that I'm basing my political allegiance on whether or not I get angry at my car radio? Sadly, I don't think so.

In running news, I feel like crud. Some kind of evil black plague has fallen over me. Yay, my calf is better. Oh, no running, you're diseased. WTF?!?!? I feel like yelling at the radio. Although, I think I'm going to run tomorrow just to get the blood flowing. I think it will make me feel better. Psychologically, anyway.

I'm Sick

I'm sick and I'm pissed.