Sunday, June 29, 2008

Cranmore Hill Climb

Holy crap. That hurt.

At some point the day before Mt. Washington, I thought that I might like to try my hand at the Cranmore Hill Climb. Really, I have no idea why I thought this was a good idea. Basically, it fit into the schedule since I had to work yesterday during There's a Black Fly in My Eye and D was running it. Even after running Mt. Washington, I somehow still thought this was a good idea.

We (D as support crew) arrived at Cranmore..."What's Cranmore?" you ask. Oh, it's a ski area. Granted, not a very big one, but you still had to run to the top of it...twice. Anyway, we arrived about an hour and a half before the race start to cloudy skies. The clouds were covering a good part of the mountain, so we couldn't see the top...probably a good thing. I, yeah, I hadn't actually registered yet. So, I hadn't committed any money yet, and I still somehow convinced myself to go. I'm an idiot.

I did a mile warm up, and then went into the base lodge to stretch. Then it started raining, then the thunder and lightening, then the absolute deluge. It poured. Really poured. Hard. The rain turned most of the course into mush or moosh or yuk. It was still raining when we all headed to the start line, and it rained for most of my first loop.

Ah, the course. Basically you weave your way to the summit of Cranmore using the ski trails, some single track trails in the woods and a bit of service road. The final push goes straight up a black diamond. Here's the map. Don't look at it unless you want to cry. Once you hit the summit you take what's really the easiest, i.e. least steep, way down, except for one section that cut through the woods. Then, you do it again. Yup, two laps: up and down. It has to be a full 10k, after all.

The race started, and I settled into a comfortable pace. Things got bogged down as the pack entered the first single track section, and I found myself walking. Rush hour traffic. The climb was totally different from Mt. Washington. It was really steep, but there were breaks when the course would traverse the slope. But when it went up, it really went up...for the most part. Even on the first lap I walked a number of sections. And, I really walked, the black diamond pitch. It was ridiculous. It felt like it was straight up.

I could tell early on that I wasn't going to be tearing things up. My legs were tired. I was tired. This was my third race in as many weeks, and my legs wanted me to know exactly how they felt.

I hit the summit in around 22 minutes and started down. The down felt good because I could actually run, and I passed a few people on the way down. I was pretty certain I would see them again. By the time I reached the base, the rain had started to subside, and D was out on an elevated deck watching the action and cheering. I yelled up, "This is nuts." She replied, "You're the one who signed up." A good support crew is essential.

I went through the start/finish line in 35:00ish, and I knew things were going to go downhill on the uphill. The pounding of the descent had taken whatever friskiness I had in my legs. It was going to be a slog. And it was. I ran when I could, but I walked a lot. Slowly. By this time the entire field had already run the course once, and it was trashed. Just a slippery, muddy, gooey mess. I don't mind tough conditions, but this was messy. I slipped a number of times and fell once near the top. Suddenly my feet were going backwards while the rest of me was going forward. Seven or eight people passed on the way up, which for as dead as I felt was somewhat encouraging. I was still confident that I could make up some places on the downhill.

I hit the top in about 65 minutes. To save you the math, that's a 30-minute climb; 8 minutes slower than the first lap. My legs were barely moving. I was dead. I stopped at the top to take advantage of the water stop. It was less about the water than it was for an excuse to walk on something flat. I started running again and quickly passed a woman who had passed me just before the top and had the same water stop strategy that I did. I passed one other runner on the way down, but that was it. In fact, someone passed me. All those runners I thought I could catch must have gotten rides or something.

My quads were done. I just couldn't get them to respond. I kept trying to go faster, but the pounding on the hill hurt more with each step. And every step seemed to sap more and more energy. Most of the descent is on ski trail, but there is one section that cut through the woods. This section was nasty. Ankle deep mud. Roots. Loose rocks. Just ugly. I had been gaining on one runner until this point, but that section crushed me. I wobbled through it just happy to remain upright.

As I approached the finish, D was there cheering. Or rather warning me that someone was gaining on me. I managed to pick it up slightly and hold off this mystery person. I stumbled through the finish in an unofficial 1:16ish. I was toast. In fact, I'm still toast.

Not a great race for me, but not a bad one. I did learn something important: mileage helps. Really, there's no way I could expect much after running three races in a row on a maximum of 27 miles a week. Not to mention that I didn't exactly pick the easiest races. Today was hard. Not as hard at Mt. Washington, but it hurt more. That downhill was brutal. I'm never running downhill again. But, it was really the uphill were I lost time and places. My legs just didn't have enough in the reserves to handle another tough day of climbing. I was tired. And most of that goes back to my low mileage. As the experiment continues, I now have conclusive proof that I need build up the base. Somehow that base from college is no longer there. Hmmm... So, build up the base is exactly what I'll do. We'll be hiking for most of the upcoming weekends, so no more races for a long time. That's probably a good thing, so I can build up the mileage. Build, build, build.

Oh yeah, that was nuts.

(I'll post the results when they become available.)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Look to the West!

Couple things going on the left coast (I'm so freakin' hip!) tonight and such.

First of all, here's something that's not going on: Western States 100. Unfortunately for Jamie, Boom Boom and a whole bunch of other crazy mofos the wildfires have forced the cancellation of the race this weekend. Major, major bummer. Apparently, the smoke is really thick, and the fires are not too far away from the access roads. Not good times. I really feel for all the people that trained so hard for this "race," and I know it's been equally hard on the race organizers. Just a tough break. The good news is that all 2008 entrants are automatically entered in the 2009 race bypassing the lottery. Start the countdown!

Secondly, the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials begin in Eugene, OR today. (Fires not invited.) Tonight at 12:20a.m. EST is the women's 10,000m final. Blake, whom you may remember from a certain race, will be running the 10k. She already has her Olympic Team spot (KICK ASS!) in the marathon, so this is more of a tune-up. Should be a great race as it features a stacked filed, with Shalane Flanagan coming in as the favorite having run the American Record in her debut at the distance in May. (That would be 30:34...DAMN) Before this turns into an in-depth track and field analysis blog, I'll let you know that you can find the complete coverage schedule here. And, yes, I'll be up late tonight.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Just Taking It Easy...Or Not

I've been in and out of the Spring Trail Running Series at work this season. Unfortunately, I won't be able to complete the 6 out of 8 to qualify for the final standings or the prize raffle. Oh well, no socks for me this year. With that in mind, I just went out for an easy run on the course. My time will be in the standings, and, frankly, it will make it look like we have a few more people showing up each week. I wasn't quite sure I was going to run today as the rock in my calf was still kinda there the last couple days. It felt better today, so I decided to go for it. Well, I didn't really go for it. I just ran easy along the course. And, the good news is that my calf felt fine. Shannon once again hooked me up with a massage yesterday (because she's awesome), and I'll do some more stretching tonight. Should be good to go.

Go where? Well, I thought I'd do one more race. Yup, I'm insane.

So, on Sunday, it will be the Cranmore Hill Climb. At least it's an easy race. What? Oh...really? It's hard. Oh great. Yeah, it's a 10k that, you know, climbs to the top of a ski area...twice. But, what goes up must come down...yeah, twice. I'm pretty certain it's going to hurt. Should be good times.

So, if the calf feels good for the rest of the week, that's what I'll be doing on Sunday. But, this should be the last one for a while. Lots of hiking coming up.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A New Trail and a Rock

I headed back to the Cathance River Nature Preserve today with the intention of exploring the Ravine Trail. It's a bit further out in the system, and requires a fair amount of running on the dirt roads to get there. The good news is that one of the roads that leads to the trail is more like a trail itself. Good running. The Ravine Trail is a U that connects to the "road" on either end. It's a fairly mellow single track trail that follows along a ravine for about half of its mile length. The section of that road between the two ends of the "U" was fairly overgrown with grass, so a thorough tick check was in order when I got home. (None found.) At the furthest end of the "U" the road continues and there's another road junction there as well. More trails to explore. Overall, the run was good. Basically, an out and back that I'm going to call 5.5 miles. Not bad.

Everything felt pretty good while I was running. My calves felt fine. Some slight tightness in my right calf, but barely noticeable. But here's the thing, I now have a rock in my right calf. As the day went on, it just kept getting tighter and tighter. I've been stretching, heating and icing trying to keep it lose, but it's fairly grouchy. Hopefully, I can work it out. Here's the strange thing: it's not the place that felt tight after my race on Saturday, and it's not the place that I hurt at the end of March. It's a new lump. That being said, it doesn't feel like an injury. Just like a rock. Really odd. Oh yeah, my left calf is fine. So, as D often says to me: "You're a mess." Yup.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Another Strange Mt. Washington Thing

I forgot this earlier:
The guy who finished just behind me is also from Topsham. huh? And the guy right behind him is from Brunswick. huh? How does that happen?

If anyone wants to see the results.

Indiana Jones and the Ruining of a Legacy

D and I just got back from the movies. We never go to the movies. We save it for times when we think something will be especially good or something we really want to see on the big screen. We saw Indiana Jones and the Flibbity Flobbity Flu.

It was terrible. Absolutely awful. It was just embarrassing.

Do not go see it.

Feeling Groovy and More Thoughts from the Rockpile

Just got back from an easy 3-mile run on my favorite easy 3-mile loop in the Commons. Felt pretty good. Not particularly springy, but pretty good. Still a touch of tightness in my right calf, but it doesn't seem like anything to worry about. Left calf feels fine. I'll definitely stretch more tonight, and probably heat and ice both just to be safe.

Needless to say, I've been reflecting quite a bit on Mt. Washington. So, here are a couple more thoughts:

1. I know I said it wasn't the hardest thing I've ever done, but I may have to revise that statement. Maybe. I think I may have made that statement when I was still in the euphoria of finishing. Regardless, it's definitely pretty high on the list.

2. I think part of the reason that I'm thinking about revising that statement is because I think this is one that I'm really proud of. I ran (mostly) up Mt. Washington. That's pretty effin' cool.

3. I definitely want to run it again next year.

4. I will definitely train better next year. This includes not getting hurt and missing all of April. Oh, and perhaps some actual hill workouts. Yeah, those might help.

5. Shout out to my man Kevin for another really strong performance on the hill. Even though he's feeling down about his race, he's probably the toughest 78-pound guy I know. Kevin - I have no doubt that you will win this race. It will come together for you. In case you're wondering, he ran 1:06:30ish, which I can't even comprehend and would be easily in the top five most years. Which leads me to...

6. This year's race was absolutely stacked. The top 5 guys were all under 1:02. That's insane. 32 guys went under 1:10. That's crazy. I really wish I had been riding in the press truck to watch the battle up front.

7. Another shot out to Stephen for rocking out a sweet 1:26ish. Damn.

8. I also have to point out that I only got beat by one 70 year-old guy. He's so mine next year...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Mt. Washington Road Race

Well, it was an experience. It was just as hard as I thought it would be, but I can't really describe how hard it actually was. It was tough. It was really tough. That being said, I can't say it was the hardest thing I've ever done. As a whole. However, the spikes of difficulty were so much higher than anything I can recall. When it hurt, it hurt a lot. When it didn't hurt, it still hurt. I wouldn't recommend it.

As I mentioned, I was completely freaked out before the start. I was an absolute mess. Between the calf issue and the thought of running, you know, all the way up Mt. Washington, I was trying not to throw up...literally. I've never puked before a race, and I didn't want today to be the day. Eventually, I made my way to the start, and then the cannon went off...and I barely moved. After all that nervous energy, it took me about 15 seconds to get to the actual start line, and then when I did I headed out at an impossibly slow shuffle. It was a really weird way to start a race.

I was going to write a mile by mile description, but really they all kind of blend together. They were all uphill. Some variations, but they just keep going up and up. From driving the road, I was well aware that there were no real breaks, but a couple times I caught myself thinking, "It's going to level out just ahead." Um, no it's not. It's going to keep going up, and it's going to continue to suck. Often, a lot.

I felt really good for the first 2.5 miles or so. Just slow and steady. A lot of people that went out too fast came back to me. A lot. There's one infamous section in the second mile, the Raymond Grade, that has a sustained 17% grade. I was worried about this section, but, honestly, I barely noticed it. "Oh, I'm a the top of the Raymond" And on I went.

In the first half of the race, there are 3 water stops. I stopped at each and walked. I thought this was the best strategy. I didn't have to worry about spilling water everywhere, and I got a chance for a brief rest. This was the only times I walked in the first 4.5 miles of the race. I went through the halfway point in 47:40ish, and was feeling pretty good. Tired, but pretty good. But, I knew it was going to get harder, oh and it did.

At 4.5, I decided it was time to walk. This wasn't a big deal for me psychologically. I'd already seen many other runners walking, and I knew that I was going to be walking no matter what. So, I walked. I actually walked for about a quarter of a mile. It was a good break, and I really think it helped me later on. While I was walking a number of people passed me, but not a lot. And, in truth, I didn't care. This is the first race I've ever done, in which I didn't care at all what other runners were doing around me. It just didn't matter to me. Because of my calf, I had really lowered my expectations for this race. Originally, I was hoping to break 1:45:00, but now I was just hoping to finish.

Oh yeah, my calf. It felt fine. A huge amount of credit and thanks has to go out to Shannon for the massages this week. She rocks. It definitely felt tight, but no pain. I was psyched. Once I hit halfway, I knew that no matter what I was going to make it to the top. It started to get tighter around 6.5, but I ignored it and pushed on. The ironic thing is that I think my right calf is going to be more sore tomorrow, and that was the good calf going in! Oh well, I guess you can't expect to not have tight calves after running 7.6 miles uphill.

Along with that quarter mile section that I walked, I also walked the section known as Cragway. It's steep. I didn't like it. I started running again at the top of this section until the water stop just past 5.5. miles. More walking. I was happy to be walking here. I was really starting to feel it here. I was tired. The road just keeps coming at you. It doesn't stop. It just keeps pounding on you. But, like I said, the walking helped, and it didn't slow me down that much. It also didn't really make it stop hurting. It just provided breaks from the really painful parts, which were plentiful.

By the time I hit the 6 mile point, I was done. I had had enough. Time to really push and get this thing over with. I told myself I wasn't going to walk again. Well, then I hit the Hairpin Turn. The Hairpin Turn sucks. It's a sharp left hand, well, hairpin turn. The closer you stay to the inside of the turn, which is any runner's instinct, the steeper it is. I knew this going in, but I still found myself a little to far inside. I walked. It hurt. Then after this turn it took me a while to get running again. The legs just wouldn't allow it. I did manage to get up and running before I got to the Cow Pasture, which is shortly after Hairpin, so I had good momentum going into the Cow Pasture, which is the only sustained flat section after the initial piece at the very beginning. It was a welcome sight. I started moving pretty well through here, also knowing that the 7 mile mark was just around the corner. Time to put the hammer down. Tough to put the hammer down when you're running so slowly and so much uphill, but I wasn't going to back off. After I walked around the Hairpin, I only walked for a couple strides here and there all the way to the finish. I was really pushing it here.

Not only is seeing the 7 mile post a huge relief, but just past that is the 6000 foot post. Only 288 feet to go. You actually get a bit of a break through here as the grade isn't so bad, and I tried to take advantage of it. You can also see the summit buildings here. I tried to be relieved here, but I know what was coming up: the service road. The service road, aka "The Wall", is the final 100 yards of the race, and it's a 22% grade. It really does feel like a wall. I came around the final turn before The Wall, and really started digging. There was no way I was going to walk this thing. I'd run all that way, and there was no way I going to let it beat me. Plus, there was a crowd here. Gotta look good. Well, I'm sure I didn't look good, but I did run it...pretty hard, too. I actually passed a couple people on The Wall. Somehow, I could hear D yelling over the announcer, the music and crowd noise. I pushed through the finish, and it was over.

I was toasted. I got my snazzy silver heet sheet. I got my finisher's medal. And I tried to catch my breath. I was actually having trouble breathing. I think between the effort at the end and the altitude, I almost knocked the wind out of myself. It was a strange feeling...never felt that from running before. D found me, and held me up. All I could say was "I did it."

Final time: 1:42:40. (My watch had 1:42:22, so it took me a total of 18 seconds to get to start line.) I'm thrilled. Between the calf and the uncertainly of running the road, I don't think I could have done any better. But I think I can next year...

I Did It!

1:42:40, officially. More to follow.

It's Go Time!


That's pretty much the overwhelming feeling right now. Hour and a half to the start. I just ran a little, and the calf felt fine. Not great. Just fine.

Gotta stretch.

Update later, if I survive.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Snowman Says Wins Prestigious Award

Snowman Says been named "Great New England Blog" by Maine Runner. This is a highly coveted award that is only bestowed on a select few blogs in the realm of the global blogoshpere. Jamie uses some very specific and time-tested criteria, and not just any blog can be given this designation. Yup, it's a big deal.

In calf-related news, I was able to get another massage from Shannon today. (THANKS, Shannon!!!) She doesn't think there's any real damage in my calf. Just one tiny little spot of...well, you know, micro tears in the muscle. Not a big deal. It's not like I have a torn ACL and a broken leg. Do think this means that Steve Williams might be available to carry me up Mt. Washington?

Posture? Don't Ask.

It's got heat. It's got ice. It's elevated. I had a massage yesterday and another coming today. (THANKS, Shannon!!!) It's even feeling better. My back will probably be screwed from sitting like this, but that's not important right now. I may run out of days before Saturday, but my fingers are crossed...making it hard to type.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I Thought I'd Elaborate on "Shit."

I had a doctor's appointment this morning, so I thought I'd get a run in after that. I headed to the Field House despite the soreness in my shoulder from the Tetanus shot I'd received. Yup, I'm that tough.

I arrived at the field house parking lot to run the out-and-back in the Commons. I ran this route approximately 4,593 times in college. The route is still pretty much the same, but it's certainly been disrupted by some housing developments. D informed me of a little twist she puts on the route, so I opted to add that in. Anywho, I changed in the car and stretched in the parking lot. I didn't spend too much time stretching as I needed to get back home and get back to work, but I certainly didn't skip the stretching.

I felt great. Odd. I took yesterday off after Sunday's race
, but I still expected to be a little creaky. But, no creakiness to be found, and I cruised right along. I wasn't running fast, but I certainly wasn't plodding either. I was feeling really good. I was thinking a lot about Mt. Washington and thinking that I'm pretty much ready for Saturday to come. I'm ready to go.

Then it happened.

With about 1/3 of a mile to go, I felt some tightness in my left calf. Uh oh. It wasn't the same shot of pain I felt in March, but it didn't feel good. I finished the run and tried to stretch it out at the car. I was hoping it was just a cramp since it was certainly humid out. But, I think that was just wishful thinking.

I got home iced it. I've been elevating and switching from heat to ice. Oh, and moping. Lots of moping. I called Shannon—my massage miracle worker. She's going to take a look tomorrow. I'm going to keep moping.

So, what happened? It's not the same leg as earlier this year. Which I think is good. It wasn't as severe as earlier this year. Which I also think is good. It's in a different spot than before. Maybe that's good? I don't know. I know that I didn't stretch as much as I should have following Sunday's race. I stretched, but not much. I didn't do any real stretching yesterday, and obviously I didn't put in a good session before my run today. But, my calf didn't feel tight. It didn't feel any different than usual. And for 35:00 today, it felt fine. So, I have no idea.

I also have no idea if I'm going to be able to run on Saturday. And that flat out sucks.

My (Other) Calf Exploded


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Bradbury Scuffle "6" Mile Trail Race

This morning was the Bradbury Scuffle "6" Mile Trail Race. I put 6 in quotes because in the pre-race instructions, Ian said, "Well, it's about 6 miles. Definitely a little longer. But, hey, it's a trail race."

I left the house this morning at about 7:15am. It was raining. This would become a theme for the day. As I said before it was pretty weird to be going to the race alone. I almost didn't know what to do with myself. Luckily, there was a pre-race show. I was there a bit early and had plenty of time to watch the Civil War reenacters pack up from the day and night before. It was really odd. All these guys emerging from white pup tents dressed in full uniforms packing muskets and such into the back of minivans. Anachronism central.

The rain let up to a light mist as I picked up my number and did a short 1-mile warm up. I felt good on the warm up. Never a good sign. I stretched and headed to the start line. Ian went through a whole host of pre-race instructions, and about halfway through, I realized I needed to take one last pee. I scurried off to a not-so-out-of-sight spot, but, hey, it's a trail race.

The race started, and away we went. It was still raining lightly, and my lower half was soaked quickly as I hit the first couple puddles right away. I knew I would be getting soaked, so I wanted to get it over with as soon as possible. A bunch of guys shot out right away, but I took it pretty easy at the start knowing that the first half mile or so was all downhill. Once we started to climb, I picked it up steadily. As I reached the Fox East Trail, I caught another runner and followed him all the way through this twisty, turny section. I've run this trail a number of times before, but this is the first time I've tried to run it fast. It was tricky. And now it was really raining. The trees offered some protection but not much, and everything was messy: me, my legs, the trails. Just the way I like. No really, it was great. What wasn't so great was my back. Due to all the twists and turns and the branches I was ducking, I could feel it tightening up. Not great only 2 miles or so into the race.

The Fox East Trail has a fair amount of downhill, but once you turn right on Ginn there's more climbing. In Fox East, the guy I was following had pulled away slightly, as I was taking it easy around all the tricky sections. Shortly after I turned onto Ginn, another runner caught me and passed me. As he pulled away, I tried to stay with him. I didn't stay right on him, but I had picked it up enough to pass not only the guy I'd been trailing through Fox East, but also another runner. At one point on Ginn there's a spot where the trail hairpins, and you can see a piece of the trail up ahead. The guy who had passed me had caught another guy, and I counted about 20 seconds until I got to the point I saw them. "20 seconds. I can get those guys."

Shortly, after that point, I recognized the terrain and knew that Ginn was coming to an end. That meant that we were about to turn onto the Snowmobile Trail. The Snowmobile Trail is all downhill. Or so I thought. Suddenly, I found myself going uphill. "That's OK, the rest is downhill." I probably said this to myself about 6 times. The short hills just kept coming. But my back felt fine, and I was really digging at this point. Really trying to catch those guys, and they were getting closer. Suddenly, I saw one of them coming back at me. "Straight!" I yelled. They had gotten confused just enough by the trail markings to have to pause a look. A door had opened.

As happens so often in these instances, the guys who have to stop get a quick shot of adrenaline, and they started to pull away from me. "Crap, I don't think I can get these guys." I gathered myself and put my head down, and we reached a downhill. I caught them and took off. I was going pretty hard here, since I knew that we only had to get to the bottom of the hill and take a right. About .5 mile to the finish. Or not.

I was completely wrong. The course did not go right on the Link Trail, it went back over itself and onto the Knight's Woods Trail. I knew this from the map, but it didn't register. I was toast. I'd gone too soon. These guys were about to eat my lunch. So, I just kept thinking about my form and tried to hang on. I actually reeled in another guy, and passed him as we went up the steep hill at the beginning of the Knight's Woods Trail. I was hurting. After the steep hill, there's a much longer gradual hill. That hurt, too...a lot. I kept waiting...and panting...and waiting...and wheezing...and waiting. They never came. The hill leveled out, and I made a decision. No more waiting. These three guys had there chance. My head went down, my arms really started pumping and I was off. (I say "off". I was probably running a 7:00 mile. Not exactly lightening. But, hey, it's a trail race.) I turned right onto the homestretch and caught a couple quick looks behind me. No one was there, but I didn't let up.

I finished 8th in 46:35 (unofficially).

I'm really happy with my race. It was a hard effort, and the conditions were really hard. It was wet and sloppy and just all around tough. And, I actually raced. I didn't just go out for a run. I raced. I waited. I relaxed. I pushed. I attacked. I actually raced. I haven't raced in a really, really, really long time. It was fun. I have to admit I was nervous before this race. Really nervous. Maybe because I was alone. I didn't know what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised. Now, onto Mt. Washington.

It was also a fun race, because I met Jamie at the registration and Stephen after the race. Good guys, and I hope to meet up with them for a run in the future. Also, huge kudos go out to Ian for putting on a great race. He has a knack for it, and I can't wait for the next one.

I forced myself to do a 1-mile, very soggy, warm down. It was a good choice. I had gotten pretty chilly chatting with folks at the finish, and it warmed me up nicely. Plus, I want to be able to walk tomorrow.

UPDATE: Official Results

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Flying Solo

Tomorrow is the Bradbury Scuffle. D won't be able to make as she has to work. It's going to be the first time in a really long time that I'll be racing without her. It will be really strange.

I just got all my stuff together. Or at least I think I did. I'm not the organizing half of this pair. The chances are good that I'll show up with two left shoes. Either way, it should be fun.

I ran three easy miles today. Body felt pretty good, so I should be ready to go. And by "ready to go" I mean complete the 6 miles tomorrow. I guarantee it won't be quick.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Fooling the Dear Flies

Ever have one of those days? - Watch more free videos

I've been feeling a bit like that at work the last couple days. (BTW, word on the street is that the video is staged, so fear not office supply lovers.) Not quite as bad as that guy, but pretty worked. And, with my less than enthusiastic run yesterday, I was really psyched to get out today. I needed it.

I wasn't certain how I was going to feel, but I hoped to be able to get through 5 miles. I headed back to the Cathance River Nature Preserve by way of Mt. Ararat. I did many of the same trails as the other day, but made it a more normal loop. I ended up feeling great. A huge improvement over yesterday. I ended up running for a little over an hour. I'm going to call it 6.5. A good run.

The best part was that I killed four deer flies. Yup, four. I've developed a new technique. When they start that annoying buzz and bump know the one in which they fly at your head, buzz around your ears, bump into to your head and fly away. Yeah, that one. Hate that. Hold your hand, palm down, a couple inches above your head. Wait until the fly lands on your hand. Slowly bring it down and SMASH IT! It works like a charm. Like I said, I got 4 of the little bastards this way. HA HA!

From the D style of blog posting, flora & fauna report: Um, flora...yeah...saw some green stuff. As far as fauna goes, besides the 4 dead deer flies (OH YEAH!), I saw a Scarlet Tanager. I even knew what it was. Pretty cool. The CRNA is climbing the chart as a really cool place to run.

Completely unrelated...this ad just came on TV. I love these ads. "Loren Wallace is made of lightening." Cracks me up every time.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Still Alive

I am not in fact dead. Close, but not quite.

On Sunday and Monday, D tried to kill me. You'd think I'd have succumbed by now.

I was toast on Tuesday. I was barely functioning. Oh, and I had a crazy day at work. One of those 6:30am to 8:30pm kind of days. Good times. I felt better yesterday...slightly. But I had another ridiculous work day. I did manage to get home by 10:00pm. Ugh. All of this added up to exhaustion on top of the exhaustion, and no running. Really, even if I had had time, I don't think I could have.

Today, I ran three miles in the Commons. It was fairly miserable. Creaky. Tired. Out of sorts. Just yuk. Not good times. I am so screwed.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Cathance River Nature Preserve

When we bought our condo, we knew that we probably had access to a couple trails. We knew from college that there were trails behind Mt. Ararat High School even if most of them had been obliterated by the development of Highland Green. However, part of the development included the preservation of a chunk of land now called the Cathance River Nature Preserve. That may not be the exact history, but that's pretty much what it looks like. The nature preserve has a handful of trails that D and I have run once before, but this was the first time I had tried to run them directly from our house. I'm glad I did.

I took the most direct route through the Mt. Ararat trails to the nature preserve and reached the trailhead in about 17 minutes. The trails are really nice, but they aren't mellow. No real hills, but a lot of little ups and downs and a ton of twists and turns. Great trail running. The trails eventually reach the Cathance River, and it's really pretty. Or at least, I think it is. I spent a lot of time looking straight down trying to avoid roots and rocks. I could have explored more of the trails, but I didn't want to go more than 7 miles. I ended up weaving through the system and adding a little more on in the Mt. Ararat trails.

It was a solid run, and I'm looking forward to getting back out there again to explore some more of the system.

May Recap

Well, May was the exact opposite of April. May rocked.

I ran 100.5 miles. Survived the Pineland Farms 25k. And felt all around pretty good. Not much else to say.

As we move along through June, I am definitely happy with where I am, even if it's not exactly where I wanted to be. I'm still building. I don't think I really feel all that fresh for Mt. Washington, but that's fine. For me, it's gone from being a race, to being a challenge, and now I'm just in it for the experience. No doubt a painful one.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Spring Trail Running Series, Week 4

I need to work on my diet.

Today was the fourth week of the Spring Trail Running Series. I was looking forward to getting back in the swing of things with a good effort—my first hard effort since the Pineland 25k. Well, things didn't really go as planned, and I'm blaming the Thai food from last night. I wasn't feeling that great this morning, and then I had leftovers for lunch. Hot basil with fried tofu for lunch before a hard workout in the afternoon? Yeah, I'm an idiot. I went out for my warmup; about 15 minutes. Then I spent the next 15 minutes in the bathroom, and I wasn't blow drying my hair.

That being said, I ran pretty well. About 20 seconds faster than I have so far: 26:03 by my watch. Yeah, I don't know either. It was a good effort. I ran strong. Not fast, but solid. Then I did another 15 minutes for a warm down. I'm going to call it 6.5 for the day. Pretty solid.

But, in all seriousness, I really need to pay more attention to what I'm eating. Thai food before a hard workout? That's just dumb.

Sonic Death Monkey in Action

Here are some shots from the Pineland Farms Trail Challenge:

D cheering on Nate, our sole 50k team member, as he comes through 10 miles:

Tank - This was not when he called me "evil."

Here I was feeling really bad, about 7 miles:

Seriously, Mike, eat something:

NateDawg in happier times:

Vicky looking serious:

Willow looking seriously serious:

D looking wicked seriously serious:

Shannon is not so much into the seriousness:

I swear, I thought I was running here:

Mike cruising to the finish:

All photos from here or here.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Back from Aruba and Looking Ahead

We arrived back in Maine last night after a great trip to Aruba. Not our type of vacation, but we had a really good time. I think much better than we had anticipated. I know that I thought sitting on the beach would get really boring. It didn't. It was relaxing. That being said, it's not our version of relaxing. We like relaxation with stimulation. It's more relaxing for us, if we're out doing something...trail running, hiking up a mountain, camping by a stream. That's more our speed. Because there is some type of speed...not just sitting around. Although, I did relax, and even read a really good book. (Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain) Oh yeah, I also got to go to my sister's wedding. Maybe that's why it was such a fun trip.

Back in Maine, I slept better last night. Well, better when Ronnie wasn't climbing on top of me, purring, drooling and licking my face. I think he was happy that we were home. (In fact, he's sitting on D's lap right now, purring so loudly I had to turn up the TV.) That signal was that it's back to reality time. No more runs on the beach. No more treadmill in the Hyatt fitness center. In fact, I ran today in the mist/rain on the trails behind Mt. Ararat. It was 60° and rainy. A far cry from the 90+° temps and blazing sun in Aruba, and I was thankful for that.

Why am I running now? The Pineland Farms 25k is behind me, but there's more on the schedule. In fact, I have two races coming up.

On June 15, I'll be running the Bradbury Scuffle. I'm not running it for any other reason than to support the folks who are organizing it and because I love running at Bradbury. Should be a good time. Plus I'm not planning to take it too seriously. Mainly because...

On June 21, I'll be running Mt. Washington. I know I was on the fence about this, but I've decided to go for it. Am I ready? Yes and no. No because I haven't put in enough mileage. I haven't run enough hills. I haven't trained on the road. I haven't really focused on it. Yes because...well, why the hell not? I'm ready because I'm ready to give it 100%. (Sorry for the disgusting cliche.)

After Pineland, I've really adjusted my expectations and goals. I know that I've been saying that I realize I'm not as fast as I used to be, but I haven't really believed it. In my mind, I'm still a 4:31 miler. Unfortunately, my mind is no longer in that body. So, for Mt. Washington, I'm just going to run. Put on my number and go for it. Now, I still don't want to suck. I'm going to push. I'm going to do the best that I can based on the shape that I'm in right now. And, I know that a year from now, I'll be in even better shape. I'm just starting to really get back into this. It's an experiment. So, will I ever be that 4:31 miler again. Pretty unlikely, but I'm sure going to try to get as close as possible.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Sunscreeen is a Pain in the Ass

Being exceptionally pale, it is hypercritical that I wear sunscreen at all times while on a tropical island. The goal is not to get crispy, and so far so good. I'm still pale, and no one will believe that I ever went to Aruba.


In order to completely cover myself in the magical goo, it takes about 15 minutes each morning. Slather, rub, spread evenly and then repeat 78 more times. It takes forever. I'd much rather just throw on a coat because it's cold.