Saturday, January 31, 2009

Lame Week...Sort of...

This week was lame from a training standpoint. Sort of... I'm not really upset about it being lame...or perhaps I am because I've termed it lame. In any event, I wanted to take it easy this week as part of my quasi-taper/feel not sick program.

For the feel not sick part, I think I did pretty well. I've been feeling better the last few days. I'd say I'm about 94.7%—give or take. For the quasi-taper part, well, we'll see.

I already told you the tale of Nordic Meisters, so you heard about the meh. Then I took Wednesday off, except for stretching every chance I got. It snowed so much on Wednesday, I had to get out for a ski. The original plan was to ski first thing in the morning, but it was blowing like stink. So, I waited until the afternoon, which was wise as the winds had died down. However, those winds left drifts on the trails in places I had never seen before. Fairly crazy. I skied for an hour and felt not that bad. And look how happy I was:

And, note the old school lid.

Nothing on Friday, and then an easy 3-mile run on the bike path today. I felt surprisingly smooth. Last night, D helped me stretch my hamstrings last night, which was great, and hopefully, I can convince her to do the same tonight. But, the reason for the lame tag is that I ran a total of 6 miles this week. Yup, that's lame.

Tomorrow is the Mid-Winter 10-Mile Classic. My grandiose training plan just didn't happen. Hence, I have no idea what I can run. I can't make the "I'm in XX:XX shape" statement. I just don't know. Here's what I do know: I'm going to be grumpy after the race. Last year, I ran 1:12:15 fresh off the couch. I'd barely run at all. I'm certain I can run faster than that, but each second closer to that I am, the grumpier I will be. Anything over 1:10, and I'll be Captain Crankypants for a week. Plus, I'm also certain that after this race I'm going to be sick. The 5.3% of the cold that is still sticking around will no doubt be looking for a fight. That will make me grumpy. Oh, and there's a 99% chance that either one or both calves or hamstrings will explode. Literally, explode. Think snapped window shade explode. So, I've got that going for me. In other words, I'm really looking forward to this race and in a completely positive frame of mind, which is the key to success.

(Alright, I'm not totally dreading it. I really like racing. Really. I just wish I was in better shape.)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Nordic Meisters 09, Week 4

I'm not really sure why, but I decided to ski Nordic Meisters this week. I guess it was a combination of peer pressure and the nice weather that I didn't listen to the little voice that was saying, "You have a bit of a cold. Skiing aggravates the pain in your leg. And, you have to run 10 miles at a not completely slow pace on Sunday. So, you should stay inside, dumbass." Yeah, that voice. I didn't listen. And, predictably, the result was less than stellar. I didn't ski well: flail-o-rama. I didn't feel great: pant n' wheeze-o-rama. And, I got smoked. However, I don't think I did any further damage. I don't feel any more sick, and, thanks to the massage from Shannon yesterday, my leg feels fine. Tight, but fine. So, I'm only 3 races away from qualifying for the prize raffle in which I will win socks. I always win socks. Yay, skiing.

I knew this before, but I've decided that ski racing is dumb. Skiing for me is just like golf. I don't play much golf, but I'm comfortable enough to go play with anyone when they suggest it. I generally hit a few good shots that draw oohs and ahs from the crowd, but I'm not lighting it up. I'm not embarrassing out there. If I tried to play in a tournament, though, I'd get laughed at. I could reach a tournament level, but I'm not going to put in the extra 15-20 hours a week to work on my swing. Skiing is just like that. Want to go for an easy ski? Sure, and I'll even look like I know what I'm doing. Put me in a race situation, even a small pond, and I get crushed because I'm not going to put in the extra 15-20 hours a week I need to work on my technique. And, I'm OK with that. As long as I get socks. But, it's still dumb.

So, the not taper continues tomorrow with snow shoveling. Oooh, cross training.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

I Love Massage and Looking Ahead

Not only did Nate & Shannon feed us dinner tonight, but Shannon also gave me a massage. Everyone, and I mean everyone, should have a friend who is a massage therapist. Upon her expert examination, she concluded that, yes, my hamstrings are tight, but the larger problem is with my adductors. (Which, incidentally, is what Jeff mentioned to me in another post because he's like wicked smart.) So, she worked on my legs, and I instantly felt better. The cause is definitely the combination of skate skiing and that whole 40k thing. The good news is that she said I wasn't too bad, and with stretching, I should be good to go.

Speaking of going, there's a certain matter of the Mid-Winter 10-Mile Classic on Sunday. I have no idea how it's going to go. I'm hoping that my barely running over the last week is just like a good taper. Even though I know it doesn't really work that way. Of course, assuming nothing still hurts, my race "plan" hasn't changed at all...well, because I'm an idiot.

And, speaking of being an idiot, I've started thinking about races for the year. So, here are the potentials races.

4/11 - Merrimack River Trail Run - 10 Mile
4/19 - Muddy Moose Trail Run - 22k
5/3 - Blue Hills Trail Race - 10 Mile
5/24 - Pineland Farms Trail Challenge - 50k (This is the big one.)
6/20 - Mt. Washington Road Race - 7.6 Miles
7/12 - Bradbury Scuffle - 10k
7/26 - Escarpment Trail Run - 30k
8/16 - Bradbury Breaker - 9 Miles
8/30 - Wapack Trail Race - 17.5 Miles
9/13 - Bradbury Bruiser - 12 Miles

From there, it gets interesting. I'm going to do one of the following depending on...well, a lot of things...

9/27 - Vermont 50 - 50 Mile - I'm not really sure about this whole 50-mile thing. I'll see how the 50k goes in May...because what's another 19 hilly miles among friends?
10/4 - Maine Marathon - If I choose this option, it means that I've decided that I want to run a "fast" road marathon and qualify for Boston. Why? Because it's there. Of course, it would be my second road marathon, and I'd be looking to PR by 28 minutes in order to get the, um, yeah...I'm an idiot.
11/? - GAC Stone Cat Marathon or 50 Mile - This race just sounds like "fun."

So that's the not plan plan for 2009. Feel free to talk me out of any of that.

Operation I Have No Idea

After my ski on Thursday, the parts were feeling good. I stretched well after the ski, which was not only smart but also a huge help.

On Friday, I went for an easy run on the B/T bike path, which had about 3/4" of fresh snow on it. I ran the entire path, out and back, about 5.4 miles, and felt really good. Smooth and relaxed, so I was thinking that Operation Rejuvenation was on the right track. Plus, it was 3 minutes faster than when D and I did the same route on Monday. Another sign that things were headed in the right track. Woohoo.

Then I woke up yesterday morning. My hamstrings were cranky, tight, almost painful. Not good times. And, on top of that, I think I have a bit of a cold. Not a real cold, since I don't believe in them, but it's definitely something. OJ, vitamin C and Zicam...better than HGH and steroids.

So, all this means that we're smack in the middle of whining and excuses season. I'm a grump. But, I'm not sick. Nope.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Operation Rejunvenation Detour

Well, I didn't really veer off the plan, I just changed the activity. Instead of a short run today, I went for an easy ski. The conditions right now are just too good to pass up. Picture perfect packed powder. There was a bit of wind, but as soon as I got in the woods it was barely noticeable. I decided to that in order to keep the heart rate down classic skiing would be the better choice. Since it was not much past 7:00, I had the trails to myself. All in all, a great morning.

Now, although I said and I'm convinced that the skiing is contributing to my hamstring tightness, I figured that if I took it really easy it wouldn't hurt. So, I skied really easy for about 50 minutes. And, after the ski, I stretched fairly well. Hopefully, no harm done. Either way, I felt much better for the rest of today. I didn't feel like I was dragging just walking around, so I think the rest has been good.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Operation Rejunvenation, Part Number Three

Operation Rejuvenation continues. Today, the legs felt better. No sluggishness. The critical third part of Operation Rejuvenation is stretching. I need it, and today, I spent as much time stretching as I could. However, it was tough as I was pretty much chained to my desk. More than once I got up and went for a walk just for the sake of moving some blood around. It was fun distracting other people from working, anyway, and my parts are feeling better.

This is a short post, and that's it. I didn't even have time today to post random crap from the Intertubes. I need to slack off more.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Operation Rejunvenation, Part Number Two

Today, I discovered there is an additional component to Operation Rejuvenation. However, this was an unplanned portion of the recovery program. This piece: Looking at race possibilities. Not necessarily possibilities for the next couple months or even this year. But, possibilities for...well, sometime. Eventually. (This looks fairly awesome.)

Regarding the process of Operation Rejuvenation, today I did squat. No, not squats. I did absolutely nothing. My legs were still all draggy, so I think the same is on tap for tomorrow. Short run planned on Thursday.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Operation Rejunvenation

I need to start over. Well, not completely, but I need to pull it back together. My legs are dead. My legs are tight. I'm kind of dead on my feet. So...Operation Rejuvenation.

Today's run, or shuffle, confirmed that. D and I hit the bike path for 5.5 miles, but I was worthless. No spring. No energy. No nothing.

Time to remedy that.

So, the plan for the next two weeks is slow, short, easy runs. But only a few of them. I'm also going to skip Nordic Meisters tomorrow. My hamstrings have been really, really tight, and I can directly attribute that to skiing. And, trying to ski fast. So, no ski racing. That's Operation Rejuvenation. Plus, lots of eating. Eating a lot always seems to help.

My training plan for the 10-Mile Classic has long since been out the window. I've done maybe 3 of the workouts/tempo runs I've planned. So, instead of going in "fast," I'm going in well-rested. (Of course, in my mind, I still think I can run just as fast.) And, hopefully, rejuvenated. OK, time to eat.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

If You Go Outside, You Will Die

Well, that's what you would believe if you listen to the Weather Channel. (Which, I must remind you is based in Atlanta.) Sure, it's cold, but it's not that cold. Actually, I may have bought into a bit of the hype myself, as I felt a bit overdressed on my run. It was 11 when I headed out the door, but there was no wind. And once I got over the initial frozen nose, it was quite pleasant. I ran the 5-mile quasi-out-and-back in the Commons, and the trail was in great shape as it had been packed out by a number of walkers and skiers. All in all, a good run.

It was my first run since Saturday, but I haven't been sitting around. I've gotten in two skis since then, but I have to admit, I think my "cross-training" is kind of hurting me. I know that's somewhat ridiculous, but I was really tight. Much tighter than I was after the 40k on Saturday. Using those different muscles certainly has left a mark. More stretching and foam rolling tonight.

Being a bit of a Stars Wars geek...not the dress up in a costume and go to a convention geek, but rather the own all the movies and have seen them a thousand times kind of geek, I found this to be one of the funniest things ever:

Incidentally, if anyone knows where I can sell a good lot of mostly in great shape played with action figures, let me know.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Nordic Meisters 09, Week 2 OR Hello, Hip Flexors!

Week #2 of Nordic Meisters is in the books, and my thoughts are: meh. Not great. Not terrible. It just kind of happened. Maybe that's too harsh. It was pretty OK. I skied better, but I was more tired going in. (I wonder why?) Additionally, my hip flexors were sore from Monday's ski. But, those things aside, I actually felt good while skiing. I was able to push hard, but, more importantly, I flailed much less. I was definitely more on top of my skis. On the downside, I didn't get out to take my run until almost 3:00, and as the day wore on the conditions got slower and slower. I had to contend with windblown snow, small drifts and tough light. My own fault, but my guess is that the conditions cost me about a minute over the folks that hit the snow early. Or perhaps, I'm just rationalizing why I once again got crushed. I need to keep reminding myself that I'm just not that good of a skier.

This morning, I had planned to sneak in a quick 5 miles. I didn't. For the most part, I just wimped out: cold, windy, snowy roads—a combination that leads to sloth. So, sloth it was. However, my hip flexors are really sore. So, perhaps, a rest day isn't such a bad idea. No need to overdue it after the 40k and before the 10-mile Classic.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Afternoon at Pineland Farms

Despite the pull of the couch, D and I headed to Pineland Farms for a ski this afternoon. It was the first time we'd skied together this winter, and the first time I classic skied this winter. Both good things! The temperature was perfect, the snow was great, the views were beautiful, and the company was the best. It was a great afternoon on the snow. D posted some pics.

Physically, I felt good. We skied easily, and I wanted to make sure the heart rate stayed low. After all, I had just run a few miles the other day, and this was a recovery ski. My ankles aren't really still sore, but I can still feel them. Other than that, no ill effects. I'm very pleasantly surprised. Tomorrow is the second week of Nordic Meisters, and I'm hoping to lose by slightly less. Really, I just want to ski smoothly. Limiting the flailing should lead to a better result. If not, I'll look at cutting the course.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

GAC Fat Ass (Less Than) 50k: (It's Not A) Race Report

I started Saturday morning by growling. Or at least that's how I think it started. It was before 6:00, and D was telling me that it was time to hit the road. Luckily, I was soon treated to Dunkin' Donuts coffee and a beautiful moon set, so I woke up pretty quickly. By 8:20, we were in the parking lot at Bradley Palmer State Park on cold morning with a bunch of other yahoos to take part in the 2009 GAC Fat Ass 50k. The course was a 10k (6.2 mile) loop, and people were running anywhere from 1 to all 5 loops. My plan was to run at least 2, hopefully 3.

The not-race started at 9:00. Well, for most of us. Someone was stuck in the bathroom, so Ian, Emma and I waited for her and started a couple minutes late. Eventually, we caught up to the rest of the pack and we kept an eye on Mindy up ahead. Her red hat was unmistakable!

The first lap went by fairly quickly as the pack was pretty bunched. The conditions were a mix of solid ice, firm snow, soft snow and shin deep sugar. With my screw shoes, the solid ice was the best to run on...the shin deep sugar, not so much. I popped a chocolate munchkin at the aid station and headed out with the crew for the second lap. The aid station gave us the chance to catch up with Jamie and Stephen, and I ran with them long enough for Jamie to tell me a joke about a glass of milk, a tuna, a whale and a bartender. Also, at some point in this lap Jim decided to moon me. Luckily, my chocolate munchkin didn't come back up.

It was still cold out, but by the middle of the first lap, I was pretty sweaty. I meant to change my shirt between laps one and two, but I kind of forgot. So, after the second lap, I dropped my heavier shirt and switch to a t-shirt, which was a good move. The aid station had Pringles, so I was a happy camper. I was still stuffing my face, when D announced that she was headed out for her third lap. I told her, I'd catch up, and off she went. I started this lap alone, and I ran alone for almost 2 miles. I pulled over to pee and was soon caught by Ian and Stephen. I ran with them for a bit, but they were moving along at a good clip and I just wasn't feeling it. They slowly pulled away from me, and I decided to eat a couple of the Clif Shot Bloks I was carrying with me. They definitely helped as I slowly started to get my energy back. The timing was good, too, because I was coming into the toughest part of the loop, which was an uphill single track section that seemed to get longer with each lap. Just before this section, I finally caught D who was running with Shauna. They let me pass, so I knew that I had to pull it together and look good! I soon caught back up to Ian and Stephen who were a part of a longer train, and I ran with them for a little longer.

At this point, a common phrase I heard was: "How far you going today?" Every one was assessing how they felt and trying to determine if they could run another lap or two in the kind of tough conditions. Once I got my energy back, it really came back, and I felt great. I started contemplating running a fourth lap. As we came to the end of the field and onto a road, the trail, which usually required single-file running, opened up, and I pulled to the side to wait for D. I could tell she was tired, so I offered here the Twizzler that I had put in my sleeve for just such an occasion, and I think it perked her up quite a bit. I ran the remainder of this lap with her and Jim. And, Jim, kept us amused the entire way in.

I was still feeling good and comfortable as I finished the third lap. So, as I was eating some potato chips, I decided that one more lap was in order. Sort of a snap decision, but...what the hell?!?! Ian and Stephen were also running another lap, so I decided to get one board the train. We were running together at one point, and it hit me: "This will be the second longest run I've ever done." I even said it out loud, sort of out of nowhere, and I think they thought I'd lost it. My plan was to hang with them as long as possible, which I hoped was through the single track, which was about halfway through the course. Well, I stayed with them, and we were chatting the whole way. Shortly after that section one of them said, "OK, I'm starting to feel it now." I responded, "Well, I'm glad I'm not the only one." Keep in mind, both these guys are training for 100 mile races this summer. Me? Um, yeah, I've run a marathon...once. Anyway, they helped me out a ton on the final lap and basically pulled me all the way through. We finished together all tired and happy with our "only" 40k. And, yes, it was the second longest run I've ever done. It was a PR for the amount of time run.

Here are the stats:
Lap 1: 1:00:10
Aid station: 3:04
Lap 2: 59:20
Aid station: 5:01
Lap 3: 1:01:00
Aid station: 3:06
Lap 4: 1:00:06

Total time: 4:11:50
Run time: 4:00:36
Avg pace: 9:42/mile

All in all, it was a great day. Thanks to the GAC for putting on a great event. Mindy, Emma and Jamie are all coming back from injuries, and each ran 2 laps. (Well, a little more for Emma and Jamie, and not quite that much for Mindy.) Great to see all of them back at it. D, Jim and Shauna each ran 3 laps. And, then Ian, Stephen and I finished 4. Clearly, I was the happiest of the 4 lappers, as those guys were hoping to run all 50k. But, it was a great day for the Trail Monsters!

Today, my ankles are sore, which isn't a surprise based on...well...running 24.8 miles in snow. The calves are tight. But, really, I feel pretty good. That's very encouraging. Not nearly as bad as I thought I'd feel. We'll see what the rest of the week has in store.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Snow Squall 5

It was very lightly snowing when I headed out the door this afternoon. Really lightly...just a couple flakes. By the time I was a mile in, it was pounding snow and quite windy. Then a mile later the sun was out. Wacky.

I did the same loop D ran this morning, but I won't wax quite as poetically about it. 37° when I left the house, so the snow was squishy, which certainly slowed me down. But, the run felt good. Short jaunt tomorrow, then the GAC Fat Ass (I'm not doing all) 50k on Saturday.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Nordic Meisters 09, Week 1

The weekly torture has begun again: Nordic Meisters. And by torture, I mean torture. OK, it's not really that bad, but I'm just not a good ski racer. I can get from point A to point B eventually, but it's not pretty. In order to change up the torture, I've made a radical decision this year: I've gone to skating. In every other year, I've raced classic. My theory is that classic is closer to running, and, therefore, I'd have more success. Plus, I learned to classic ski when I was a kid, but didn't learn to skate until college. So, overall in my lifetime of nordic skiing about 75% is classic. However, the real key to classic skiing is the kick wax. Kick waxing is a pain in the ass. Hence, the skating choice. So, really, my choice was fueled by laziness. That shouldn't be a surprise. Of course, the problem with skating is that anytime you see a hill, your heart explodes. And, did I mention I'm not that good at it?

All that being said, I sort of surprised myself today. As the results show, if I had two asses they both would have been handed to me, but I skied kind of not that bad. Sort of. From a technique standpoint, it was a bit of a flailfest. I'm not smooth and I'm not efficient. Then again, I don't ski enough to get smooth and efficient, so I didn't expect to be. That being said, I do hope to get better as the winter goes on. From a fitness standpoint, my heart never exploded...completely. I felt pretty good. Best of all, my body parts felt good. The foam rolling from last night must have really worked on my cranky leg. Of course, were I more efficient I would have felt better. And, since I do nothing with them, I was starting to feel my arms by the end. But, all in all, it was a good day on the snow. Admittedly, I wasn't really looking forward to it going in, but while warming up I actually got into it. And, the racing part was kind of that painful not fun at all way. We'll see what happens next week.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Streak is Over

Alas, one of the greatest streaks in running history has ended. Until today I had run every day this year. Yup, 4 days in a row. And now it's gone. There will now be a period of mourning.

I had planned to run today, but thought it best to take the day off. My right leg is...well...I'm not really sure. It felt a little tight after Saturday's run. Then yesterday I thought that I could just run some blood into it. Instead, I ran some more tightness, some quasi-pain and an all around strange feeling. It's in my calf, knee, shin, ankle, hamstring...yeah, my leg. It's tough to describe, but I don't think it's anything serious. So, no more typing and more foam rolling.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Snowmobile Trails

Met up with the Trail Monster crew at Bradbury this morning. Ian, Stephen, Randy, Jamie, Jim and Mindy were all in attendance. (Note how we all linked to each other's blogs...yup, we're dorky.)

I honestly had no idea how far I planned to run today, so I just went with the flow. The flow ended up being 14.5 in about 2:14. I wasn't sure how my calf would feel, but it felt fine the whole way. I was tired by the end, but it was a good long run for me. I ran with Mindy at the outset, as she was wishing she hadn't left her Yak Traks at the car. She and Jamie turned around at about 3 miles, and then we lost Jim after about an hour plus. At one point, I considered bailing out early, but the run was too nice and the directions were too complicated. (OK, it was really like go straight and take a right, but I was oxygen deprived.) Plus, Ian and Stephen kept playing the role of Papa Smurf: "Not far now."

A good day on the trails on a killer loop devised by Ian. He also took some cool pics, which you can see here.

I came home and made a huge breakfast. It was full of deliciousness. Shortly after that I ate lunch.

Friday, January 2, 2009

2008 Year in Review

Ladies and gentlemen, it's time for the official Snowman Says 2008 year in review.

In short, it was a great year. It wasn't easy. It wasn't perfect. But, I couldn't have asked for anything more.

At the beginning of the year, I really just wanted to find out if I could be a runner again. Well, mission accomplished. I'm not fast (yet), but I'm running regularly and feeling good about it. I'm actually enjoying it. That was really what I was hoping for. I hadn't really enjoyed running since...well, a long time ago.

When I started out, I said I'd be happy to be able to just go out and run for an hour. Just an hour. Well, I pushed through that barrier pretty easily, and I'm hungry for more. I did a number of runs over 2 hours, and in the process, I found out that I really like long runs. Plus, you get to eat while your running. I like eating.

Also accomplished two "life" goals this year: Finished the Appalachian Trail and ran a marathon. Not planning on hiking the AT again, but another marathon is definitely in order. Also ran up Mt. Washington...well, I walked a bunch, but I still go the bumper sticker.

It wasn't all rainbows and candy. I did strain my calves 3 times: right twice; left once. The first strain in my right calf was the worst and sidelined me for most of April. I'm just recovering from the latest, but I see to be back on the right track. Also, had a minor flare up with some plantar faciitis, but that was following our week on the AT in boots that should have been retired a couple states ago. Plus, a pile of creaks and pains on top of all that.

Of course, I couldn't have done any of this on my own. Huge thanks go out to Danielle...even though I still think she's trying to kill me. She'll no doubt try more elaborate ways to get rid of me in 2009. Then again, I keep volunteering.

Here are the numbers:
* Miles Run: 1053.5
* Miles Hiked: 309.5
* AT Miles Hiked: 279.3
* Hours: 330.75
* Ski Days: 36
That's an average of 2.88 miles per day. 54:13 per day for an average of 18:49 per mile. I'm not running and skiing that slow as hiking time is factored into that, and as you can see we spent a lot of time hiking. Overall, I think those are good numbers. I don't really have anything to compare them to. We'll see what I come up with in 2009.

And, speaking of looking ahead, my big goal for the year is the Pineland Farms 50k. My result in that race and my health will dictate my plans for the fall. I'm kicking a couple different ideas around, and I'll let you know when I make up my mind. I'm sure you'll lose sleep over it. In the short term, I'm still focused on the 10-miler on February 1, but I'm not anywhere close to where I'd hoped to be. I was hoping to get a lot more speed work in, but it just hasn't happened. As a result, I'm not feeling too good about my chances to run fast thus feeling less motivated to train hard. Vicious cycle. I'm still going to try to get in a few more speed sessions, and after those I'll readjust my goals. It's a small fish, so I'm not really broken up about it, but I'd still like to do well. We'll see.

So, here's to PRs and good health to everyone in 2009.

Team Snowplug on the AT

At long last, I completed the video of our Appalachian Trail hike. It took me almost as long to put together as it did for us to hike it!

Warning: It's long. 25 minutes long. It was really hard to pare down 4 years of photos. So, I recommend watching it in pieces. Or popping some popcorn.

Team Snowplug Hikes the Appalachian Trail from sn0m8n on Vimeo.