Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Breaking Stuff and Squeezing 'Em In

Even with the hectic schedule of the holidays, I've been able to squeeze in some decent training since I last checked in. Not great, but decent.

Last Tuesday, I figured that if I was going to race on my snowshoes, I should at least run hard on my snowshoes. So, I headed for the Highland Green golf course in the evening for a temp run. So, yeah, speed work in the dark on snowshoes. Not exactly a rational choice, but it went pretty well. There's a road crossing at 1.25 miles, so I figured that the other side of the road, 3.25 miles, was the right place for the tempo run. The pace was slower than I would have liked, but I'm not really sure what to expect on snowshoes. I know it's condition dependent, but I hope to repeat this work out again.

The only negative of the run was a broken snowshoe. When I finished the run I realized that the toe cleat on my right shoe had snapped somewhere. (Note: I took my shoes off for the road crossing.) I hadn't noticed while I was running, and I was pretty disappointed. Granted, the snowpack wasn't very deep or soft, but this was only my third run in my new Dions. But, this story has a really happy ending.

That evening, I emailed Dion Snowshoes with the story of my busted shoe. The next day, much to my surprise, I received a call from Bob Dion. We talked for about 10 minutes, and he was apologetic and eager to help. He also gave me some tips for snowshoe racing this winter. In a couple days, I had a replacement cleat, and one extra just in case it happens on the other shoe. Just awesome customer service. So, in short, buy some Dions.

The rest of the week saw a couple runs on the roads. The best was 5 miles with D. Her parents offered to watch the Little Lady, so we were able to head out together. It was great to be running together again. Hopefully, once the Little Lady has better neck control we can take her out in the B.O.B. together. (I need to figure out a way to get her to push.)

On Christmas Day, I squeezed in a quick three miles, emphasis on quick. It was a time crunch, so I ran a bit too fast. Same happened two days later, when I hit the treadmill at my parents' house. Between the time crunch and my pure hatred of the treadmill, I ran 3 miles in 21:00. Ooops. I had the data panel covered because I can't bear to watch the seconds tick away, and before I realized it I'd run 2.75 miles. At that point, I just finished it off. Perhaps the Killers weren't the best choice for the iPod.

The upshot of these two quick runs, and the lack of stretching afterward, was a very tight right hamstring. Not an injured right hamstring, but it was quite guitar-string-ish. I had a bit of trouble getting out of bed on Monday, and it didn't get any better after running 5 miles in the cold rain that evening. I took yesterday off, and it felt only slightly better today. Segue...

This afternoon, I took my tight hamstring to the Bike Path for a tempo run...on ice. I'm wicked smaht. Same workout from 2 weeks ago, but I'd hoped to go a touch faster. The strange thing is that it was mission accomplished under tougher conditions, but I would describe the workout as unspectacular. The ice was a factor. The entire bike path wasn't covered, but it was certainly prevalent...and sneaky. If it looked tacky, it wasn't. If it looked slick, well, it was. OK, maybe not sneaky, but definitely a nuisance. Luckily, no major slips. The first mile was 6:44, a touch frisky. The next half mile was fine, but I needed to slow dramatically at the turnaround because of ice. (Here's the math: The bike path in 5.5 miles long. I ran 1 mile easy, then 1.5 miles of the tempo to the 2.5 mile point. I turned around at that point to finish the remaining 2.5 miles back at the beginning.) Unbeknownst to me, a not insignificant wind had been at my back the entire time. Heading back into the wind was tough, and it showed in the pace. Final three miles: 6:55, 6:57, 6:59; total time 27:35. Like I said, unspectacular. The good news is my hamstring actually feels better tonight. We'll see how it goes during the 4:00am diaper change.

Speaking of diaper changes, marvel at the cuteness:

Along with the sporadic posting (see cuteness above), I've also been remiss in my 80's references. For this I apologize and offer this: While channel surfing this evening, I stumbled upon "One Hit Wonders: New Wave" on VH1 Classic, aka the greatest channel ever. They claimed that Devo is a one hit wonder. WHA? Blasphemy.

Speaking of Devo, check out the groovy Pandora widget I've added. Devo is prominently featured in my "Skipping Gym Class" station along with the Smiths, the Cure, Depeche Mode and other awesomeness. It will make you want to get stuffed in a locker.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Quick Update

I should really be in bed right now, but I'm having trouble getting up from the oh-so-comfy couch. So, here are a couple things on my mind.

1. Two great snowshoe runs in the last couple days. I really dig my new snowshoes, and I'm getting steadily more comfortable with them.

2. I'm itching to race. I'm feeling kind of, sort of, quasi-fit. It's probably all in my head, but that counts for something, right?

3. My run yesterday was in a blizzard. It face. Bad times.

4. Try these. They're super tasty.

5. Happy Holidays! As a gift to you, here's a pic of my super adorable kiddo:

She's ready for spring training to start.

Monday, December 14, 2009

That Was Encouraging

After a great day of hanging out and running errands with my girls, I got out for a tempo run on the Bike Path as the sun was setting. In other words, it wasn't quite dark, but it was getting close. I parked in my usual spot, the one right under the sign that reads "You will be towed if you park here." It's either park there or park inside the gate, which is locked at sunset. Two out of three times I've run on the bike path in the last two weeks, the gate has been closed upon my return. I've made that embarrassing call to D before, and it's a real pain to go pick up your car the next morning. But I digress...

In short, I had a surprisingly good run. I wasn't feeling too frisky upon arrival due to the angry troll wielding a chainsaw in my belly. Not sure what I ate yesterday, but it was cranky. Luckily, he mellowed out once I got rolling. I ran one easy mile, and then got into it. My hope was to run 4 miles at 7:00/mile. In other words, up the ante from last week. I felt comfortable for the entire first mile: 6:59. Groovy. The next two miles also felt good: 6:54, 6:55. The final mile was a bit tricky because it was now mostly dark and the temperature had dropped turning some of the wet patches into icy patches. Despite the trickiness and my starting to tire, I finished with a 6:58. Total time for the 4 miles: 27:46. A one-mile cool down, and I called it a day. This run felt much better than last week. It wasn't easy, but it wasn't hard. I knew I was working in the final mile, but that's not a bad thing. My pacing was really encouraging, as I'd really like to get that sense back. All in all, a very encouraging workout. I'm not sure I could keep that pace up for another 6 miles (hint, hint), but encouraging, nonetheless.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Another No Race Report

I'm thinking about racing a lot, so it seems odd to be posting about training. But, here goes. In short, knock on wood, things are going well. I've been feeling good and somewhat frisky on most of my runs, and the pace has reflected that. And, right now, we have a sleeping child and I'm drinking a Shipyard Prelude. Ahhhh....things are good.

I ended up running in the dark twice this week. I replaced the batteries in my headlamp, which made a big difference. In other words, I could actually see where I was going. Not certain how good my headlamp would be for anything technical, but it's been fine on the road and snow covered/icy dirt road I ran on this week. Running in the dark makes me feel like I'm flying, even though I'm not. Not sure if it has anything physical to do with the limited field of vision, or if it's all ego based since I feel hardcore for running in the dark. Either way, it's odd.

The bigger news from this week is that I did my first snowshoe run. Ever. I borrowed D's snowshoes, and since they're made for little people, they were decent for running. Although, I was running in fresh, wet snow, which made the going tough and slow. I ran a 1/2 mile loop around the Mt. Ararat trails three times, and I was pretty happy with that. Luckily, a snowmobile had already been through earlier, so about 1/3 of the loop was packed. I was very pleased to see how comfortably I was able to move along on the packed snow. It was a good run, even though I was out in the wind-driven snain. Snain is gross. I carried the shoes the 1/2 mile to the trails, but realized on my way back that there was enough snow packed on the roads to leave them on the whole way home. Overall, it was a great first snowshoe experience. Obviously, I need to increase the distance, but it was too gross to be out any longer the other day.

And, really, my entire focus right now is on snowshoeing. Specifically, the Granite State Snowshoe Series. I've never raced snowshoes before, but I think it will be a blast. Painful, but a blast. And, as I've mentioned, way better than running on roads all winter. Blech. And, as you see at left, my new snowshoes arrived the other day! I'm going to wait until we get more snow to give them a try (or go somewhere that has enough snow), so I don't mangle them on a rock the first time out. Hopefully, I'll be able to get some time on them before the first race of the series, which is on Jan. 2. I'm even more hopeful that a couple Trail Monsters will join me in the suffering. So, like I said, snowshoe racing is my focus right now, and part of the plan is to race myself into shape. The final race of the series in a 10k on March 14 (hosted at a place I know fairly well), and it's going to be a really, really tough race. That's the focus. But, I'm not really sure how to focus. That's the trick. Once I get a couple races under my belt, hopefully, I'll have a better idea how to train. In the meantime, I'm going to throw into the mix a couple workouts that focus on suffering. I think suffering will be the key to successful snowshoe racing. Mmmmm...suffering.

Of course, as I write about snowshoeing, it's raining. I think I need to get screw shoes ready to go...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

No Race Report

First of all, proof that I did actually out kick someone. This is the finish of the Maine Running Company Turkey Trot:

That's worth $5 at Hannaford right there! Photo from Maine Running Photos.

With my recent string of races, it's been feeling a bit strange to post an entry without a race report. But that doesn't mean things haven't been going well, and this week, I put in a solid week of training.

I have to admit that I was pretty sore after Hell. Those trails are way to hard to try to run fast on them. And, on Monday, the feeling on my run could be best be described as creaky. Tuesday was better, and then my life schedule dictated that Wednesday would be a day off.

Wednesday night it rained. A lot. And, Thursday was your typical December day with temps in the mid 60's. Huh? It was tough to make the mental leap to wearing just shorts and a t-shirt. So, between the temperature and the numerous a deep puddles along the powerline trail, I had a really fun run. It was so wet in fact, that I didn't even look muddy...just wet.

Friday ended up being a hectic day between work and the chaos of having an 8-week old baby. I didn't have a chance to run until late. And, late this time of year means dark. With limited options, I decided on marking the official start of winter with a run on the bike path. I only run on the bike path in winter (because it's plowed) and hadn't been out there since February. It also a good option in the dark because I don't have to worry about cars. It's not exactly lighted really, so I brought my headlamp, which most likely needs new batteries because it did a less than stellar job of illuminating the paved path. According to my "training plan," Friday was a day for a tempo run, so within minutes I went from staying inside and not running at all, to just sneaking in a short run, to running kind of hard. I was glad I stuck to the plan, but I was less than thrilled with my results. I'm going to blame it on the dark, but based on my recent results and goals plugged into McMillan, I was slower than I would have liked for the effort. Although, I was trying to not go too hard and keep the suffering in check, since that would defeat the purpose of the tempo run. Of course, this smacks of what I think my biggest strength is: suffering. I'm a good sufferer, so if I was trying not to suffer then why would I be impressed? Either way, I do think the darkness was a factor as I had trouble pacing myself. My hope was to run between 6:50 and 7:00 for each of the three miles. My splits were: 7:29, 7:11 and 6:52. So, not bad, but, like I said, it felt harder than I would have liked.

On Saturday, my original plan was to run with the crew at Bradbury, but after a enjoyable night of limited sleep thanks to the Little Lady, I involuntarily opted to sleep in. When I woke up with 5 minutes to get to Bradbury, I thought rolling over and snoring some more was a good option. I did get out for a short run later in the day and was pleased to see that all the parts felt good after the previous evening's festivities.

Today, we woke to about 4 inches of new snow on the ground, and that made my run plans that much more awesome. My plan was to hit the trails of the Cathance River Preserve, and I didn't waver from them. I was breaking trail most of the way, although I was both pleased and excited to see that a pair of folks had been walking down by the river. I couldn't blame them, as it was beautiful. Snow makes everything better, and today was no exception. Of course, snow also make everything more slippery, so the footing was tricky but fun. I stayed upright the entire time despite a couple close calls. It was definitely one of those "this is why I run" kind of runs. I think the loop is about 6.5 miles (possibly longer) and looking back through my training log, I was pleased to see that I was only a couple minutes slower for the loop than during other times I've run it. Final time was 1:05:09, which is right about 10:00 per mile, which I'm pretty happy with for that terrain in the snow. I just wish I'd brought my camera.