Sunday, July 25, 2010

Training Week 7/18 - 7/24

In short, this week did not go as I had planned. I was forced to take three days off due to an injury of sorts. It wasn't pretty. If you're the least bit squeamish, do not read the rest of this post...especially, if you're a guy. Seriously, don't read this. OK, I warned you.

Onto the numbers...

7/18, Sunday: 5 - 46:57, Homeplace Loop. Another warm and humid day, but I felt good (except for one area). Much better than the previous day.

7/19, Monday: Off
7/20, Tuesday: Off
7/21, Wednesday: Off

Why the three days off? Let's call it: debilitating dermatological distress of the undercarriage. Some might call this jock itch. In a matter of two days, I went from "Hmmm...perhaps I should sprinkle a little Gold Bond on that" to barely able to walk. After my long run last Friday, I noticed a little redness. On Saturday, there was more redness. I went with a different running shorts configuration on my Sunday run, but by Sunday night my crotch was medium rare: pink and bloody. Not good times. First thing Monday morning, I obtained special soap and cream. With this combo, each day things have gotten progressively less red, less itchy, less painful. I've decided at some point this will be funny. Not there yet. In a related story, I hate summer.

7/22, Thursday: 5 - 46:00, Homeplace Loop. A medical professional would have told me to take more time off, but I was absolutely freaking out. My man zone felt not that great, and by the end I had to focus on not altering my stride and risk tweaking something. The body also felt just off and if I had taken three days off. Best part about the run was a new pair of shoes.

7/23, Friday: 6.75 - 1:00:33, Part of the 24 Hours of Great Glen course at Great Glen Trails. Everything felt much better today. Very encouraging. Plus, the temperature was below 70°...Brrrrrr. This is a good, hilly route, and physically, I felt good enough to run more, but didn't want to push the crotch.

7/24, Saturday: 4.5 - 39:28, Mt. Ararat High School Loops x 3. I was on daddy duty for the day, so Sam and I went for a run together. Skies were looking threatening, so I didn't want to drive to the bike path only to have my child trapped out in the rain. With the loops from home, I could get us indoors fairly quickly if necessary. I had planned on at least a fourth loop, but when I came around the front of the BOB to check on her she squirmed and screamed, "Get me outta here!!!" So, home we went. She seemed pleased with that decision.

Miles: 21.25
Trail: 16.75
Road: 4.5

I managed to salvage something from this week, but it wasn't what I wanted/needed. It's a pretty dumb reason to miss time, but there's nothing I can do about it. Things are healing, and I'm planning/hoping to get back to normal this week.

In other news, the Tour de France is over. This bums me out. I'm a total Tour junkie.

For obvious reasons.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Training Week 7/11 - 7/17

More building. More mileage. More variation. Another very good week. The legs are getting used to the change, and some days I feel tired and others quite strong. I think that means I'm doing it correctly. This actually ended up as my second biggest week of the year in terms of mileage.

Onto the numbers...

7/11, Sunday: 7 total, Bradbury Scuffle.

7/12, Monday: 5 - 45:26, Homeplace Loop. A touch tired, but overall, pretty good. Better than I would have expected, especially considering how hot it was during this run.

7/13, Tuesday: 7 total, White Mountain Milers Inov-8 Summer Series, 5k - 21:44; 2 mile warm up / 2 mile cool down. Plan for the "race" was to take it out easier than last week, work the uphill middle mile and see how I felt on the downhill. That's pretty much how it played out. Felt very easy in the first mile and chatted with Paul Kirsch for a good chunk of it. We were both shocked to hear a 6:40 split at the mile. It sure felt a lot easier than that. As we hit the uphill, I deferred to Paul's Mountain Goat status (having completed all 6 USATF Mountain Races this season), and true to form he dusted me on the uphill. He claimed I'd catch him on the downhill, but I didn't really have the fire, nor the legs. I hit the two-mile split in around 14:00, and decided to just relax and cruise into the finish from there. Pleased with the time and the effort. May take a real shot at this course next week. Not that a fast 5k is a particularly critical portion of my training, but they sure are fun.

7/14, Wednesday: 6.75 - 1:05:48, 11x Mt. Ararat. More gettin' dizzy on Mt. A. I'm actually finding this run somewhat enjoyable. I'm probably ill. Ended up with 1,146 feet of vert. Good stuff. Legs were a bit tired, it was disgustingly humid and the deer flies were very aggressive. But, I viewed all this as good for training the mental part of my game. If I can circle Mt. Ararat eleven times in those conditions, it should bode well when I run/race in good conditions. Again, I'm probably ill.

7/15, Thursday: 0. Much needed rest day.

7/16, Friday: 10.75 - 1:52:41, Bradbury Mountain State Park (One lap of the Breaker course followed by a lap of the Scuffle course). Kevin Tilton was down in my neighborhood for work, so I offered to give him a tour of The Brad. He'd been looking to run there for a while, and I'd been itching to show off the goods. He's in a "restish" point in his training, so we enjoyed an easy spin around one lap of the Breaker course before he had to head out. It was a comfortable 50 minutes for the 4.5+ miles, and I know he dug it. Hopefully, I can guilt/berate/cajole him into racing in August. (Hint, hint, Kevin.) From there, I was on my own to battle the deer flies. We barely saw any on the mountain side, but once I crossed the road it was insane. The heat was rising and the sun started coming were the bugs. (Cue dramatic music.) In the six miles around the Scuffle course, I killed at least 30 of them and missed countless others. On three separate occasions, I slapped my back and killed two with one swong. I crossed path with a pair of mountain bikers at one point, and their shock at the swarm around me was telling. By the time I hit the last mile of the Scuffle course, I was at my wits end and practically hitting race pace. I seriously considered bailing at the Link trail, but I hung in there to finish the whole course. That's that illness. Plus, the deer flies were so bad, I barely noticed the humidity. I was drenched, and thankful for the thin cloud cover and the shaded trails. All that being said, I felt very good on this run. Once Kevin left and I headed out on my own, I had a bit of a down spot, but pushed right through. My energy was good the entire way, and in many ways, felt strongest near the end. Good, solid long run.

7/17, Saturday: 5 - 46:53, Homeplace Loop. Another warm, humid morning. Legs were a bit weary, but it was exactly what I expected. Just took it easy.

Miles: 41.5
Trail: 41.5
Road: 0

Second 40+ mile week of the year, and none of it on the roads. Forty is a milestone number for me, and one I rarely hit. My hope is that I can put in two more 40+ mile efforts in the next two weeks, followed by a mini-taper for the Breaker. I'm also going to up the length of the long runs. More importantly, as I've mentioned before, the variety of the runs is great: Race, Easy, Tempo-ish, Hills, Off, Long, Easy. That's much better than my previous weeks, which were 80% easy runs essentially. Of course, with the increased quantity and quality, I've had a few aches and pains: tight hip flexor one day, tight hamstring on another, but not a concern as they've gone as quickly as they've come. Again, I'm pretty happy with the week.

Neil Finn is the best pop/rock singer/songwriter ever. Doesn't get the credit he deserves.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Training Week 7/4 - 7/10

Another solid, building week. It wasn't big in terms of mileage, but it was strong and varied. Very pleased.

Onto the numbers:

7/4, Sunday: 5 - 46:02, Homeplace Loop. Just a nice, easy run.

7/5, Monday: 10 - 3:17:01 (approximately), Baldface Circle Trail in Evans Notch. Totally and completely kicked my butt. About 3700' of elevation on a really hot day. Thankfully, Jim, Jamie, Chuck and Erik were kind enough to wait for me on the climb up South Baldface. Heat and climbing are not my favorites, and it showed. I hung in a bit better on the descent, but by that time my legs were rubber. I dipped my hat and Buff in every stream I could find to cool off. I was very happy to reach Emerald Pool to cool off at the end of the loop. It was a tough day for me, but exactly what I need. I just couldn't maintain the same pace as those guys, but, overall, I felt good. My energy was good, and I stayed well hydrated thanks to a 22oz handheld and 70oz in my Nathan pack. In fact, I didn't even completely drain the 70oz of HEED. I managed the heat, well, too, which is always a challenge for me. So, again, I was slow, but I'm pretty pleased with how I fared. Hopefully, I'll be able to get in a few more mountain runs this summer as it's a great way to work on my biggest weakness. Oh, and it was beautiful. Pics on my Facebook page.

7/6, Tuesday: 6 total, White Mountain Milers Inov-8 Summer Series, 5k - 22:24; 2 mile warm up / 1 mile cool down. Admittedly, running this "race" the day after the Baldfaces wasn't the best idea. Didn't I mention temps were in the 90's? However, I didn't go all out and actually felt OK. All right, my legs were trashed, specifically, my quads, but I shut it down after two miles. The first mile is pancake flat, and I was feeling like a tough guy: 6:32. Bad idea. I attempted to run hard up the only, but long, hill that makes up a good portion of the second mile, but when I saw my two-mile split: 14:20ish, I knew I needed to back off. That was way too slow for as hard as I was working, and I didn't want to overdo it. A number of people cruised passed me in the final mile, but I didn't care because none of them ran the Baldfaces the day before. Good test, though, and I passed.

7/7, Wednesday: 3 - 26:29, Suck Loop. Quads still sore, so I made it a short, very easy day. Good decision.

7/8, Thursday: Off, but I did sneak in some strength work. Don't worry. I'm shocked, too.

7/9, Friday: 5 - 1:28:14, marking the Bradbury Scuffle course with Valerie. Additional strength quotient to this run due to carrying 4 million orange flags. Despite the oppressive humidity (and my excessive sweating) and the horrible deer flies, we had fun, and I was very happy to have some help. Valerie was great company, and we laughed and joked the entire time. Course marking takes a long time, but the run part felt fine. My quads were no longer sore.

7/10, Saturday: 3.75 - 35:37, random loop at Great Glen Trails. With the Bradbury Scuffle on Sunday, I decided to take another mellow day in hopes of putting a little freshness back in my legs. (It worked.) It rained quite heavily during my run, and I was actually a bit cold near the end, so I cut it a bit short. Felt very easy and relaxed, though.

Miles: 32.75
Trail: 29.75
Road: 3

So, again, not a big week, but a tough, smart week. I'll take that anytime.


OK, not retro at all. Get over it. In fact, the retro tune series may be morphing into what Ryan is listening to this week. Thrilling, I know...

Monday, July 12, 2010

Bradbury Scuffle - Race Report

The Bradbury Scuffle may be my favorite race of the entire year. It's short enough (6 miles) that you don't have to stress about the distance or your training, and it's not too tough (no major climbs) so you can just enjoy the singletrack and all the twists and turns. In short, it's fun. Additionally, this year, I'd volunteered to help Ian direct the race. In reality, he has it dialed in, but I like to think that I was at least able to help him relax a bit on race day. Plus, we had so many volunteers come out to help that things went very smoothly even with a record number of finishers: 147!

Going into the race, my mindset was that I'm definitely training through this race. I did run easy on Saturday, but other than that I'm in a building mode. No specific training or taper for this race at all. My legs were clearly a touch tired after running the Baldfaces on Monday and "racing" a 5k on Tuesday. So, I hoped to run well, but didn't expect anything spectacular.

After the pre-race set up, I snuck in a quick 1-mile warmup. It was humid. Temperatures had moderated from earlier in the week, but I knew that it still wouldn't be all that pleasant out on the course. Ian rolled through the pre-race announcements, including the reminder to all that the race is dedicated to Chris Douglass who was tragically killed in 2008. I never met Chris, but it's clear that his spirit lives on. His entire family comes out to volunteer or run the race. It's pretty special.

The start of the race was wild. Not only were there more entrants than ever, but there were more fast entrants than ever. The race went out shockingly fast. Way too fast for this guy. The initial downhill no doubt exacerbated the fast pace, and I watched a number of people pass me as I tried to settle into my pace. It wasn't time for me to race yet. I just wanted to stay relaxed and comfortable. After the turn onto the Snowmobile Trail, however, reality started to set in. I had really found my pace and moved up through the throng of runners that didn't realize the race wasn't just a half mile downhill. At this point, I was running with Tom Whitaker who is coming off a great 50 Mile race at Pineland. I congratulated him on his race and asked him how his recovery was going. He sort of dodged the question, so I assumed his legs would still be a bit tired. Ian was just in front of us, and I focused on him knowing that if I could stay with him through the more technical sections of the course, I'd have a good day.

Once onto the singletrack, I ended up leading a small group (five or six) with Tom right on my heels. Tom was clearly feeling good as we chatted a bit, mostly in Princess Bride quotes. (Oxygen debt makes you do crazy things.) As we wove through the Batcave Trail, we eventually hit the downhill section of it, and I heard one of the guys in our train say to another runner, "I'm not a great downhill runner, so let me know if you want to pass." At that point, I threw in a little surge and our group of five or six was down to just Tom and I. At this point, I felt like I had shifted from comfortable and relaxed to racing. I was going harder earlier in the race than I had planned, but I decided to just go with it. It was at this same point, that I saw Ian just ahead of us. I never expected to actually catch him on the technical portion of the course, since he's a much better technical runner than I am, so I decided to just focus on running behind him. We passed a handful of runners as we made our way along to Ginn. They had all clearly gone out too hard or were just not as comfortable on Bradbury's technical terrain. It was because of this traffic that I gapped Tom a bit.

The well-known strategy for this race is wait until the aid station to let it rip. At the aid station, the course turns left onto the Snowmobile Trail, and it's approximately 2 miles to the finish. The real technical running is behind you, and there is a significant downhill to come. I came into the aid station, just behind Ian and John Lamneck, a runner I know from the North Conway area who always seems to be just ahead in every race we run. Instead of stopping to drink like those guys, I grabbed a cup, dumped it on my head and took off. I couldn't see anyone in front of me, but I was hoping to change that.

When Valerie and I went out to mark the course on Friday, we made sure to take the course straight through all the deep puddles on the Snowmobile Trail. However, it has been so dry, the puddles were nonexistent. Imagine my surprise to find some deep puddles on race day. Saturday's rain had added a new element to the course, and the deep puddles only energized me as I tried to chase down the runners I couldn't see. Eventually, I did see a couple runners ahead of me and really focused on trying to reel them in. I didn't dare look back assuming that Ian would be right on my heels. With each step, I was closing in to the runner in front of me. I kept staring at his white hat. As I reached the new bridge, I could hear footsteps behind me. I never looked back, though, and I couldn't tell if it was one guy of five. I was totally surprised to see Tom go cruising by me with more Princess Bride. Apparently, he had recovered quite well from his 50-miler. I couldn't match his turnover, and he pulled away. I expected more runners to be with him, but he was alone. Now, it was just me chasing down the white hat with a mile to go.

From having run the course many times, I know just how painful the hill in the final half mile can be. I practically crawled up this hill last year. I was determined to run well on this hill no matter what. The white hat was still in front of me. Sometimes 10 yards. Sometimes as much as 50. The head games were on: "You can get him." "You're never going to catch him." I kept alternating between those two thoughts. In the middle of the hill, the white hat passed another runner who had started walking. When I was just about to pass the walker, he started running again. He was about three steps in front of me and wasn't running slowly. He went from walk to my pace very quickly. (Maybe I wasn't hammering as hard as I thought.) Immediately, I thought, "Dude, you're not going to get beat by a guy who was just walking." I gathered myself and went by him convincingly. I figured if he had been walking, I could break his spirit if I went by hard. Hey, no friends on race day.

Because of this acceleration, I closed the gap on the white hat. It was decision time: "Is this too much too soon?" I really wasn't certain. I decided to just go for it. Unfortunately, so did the white hat. We were getting close to a quarter mile to go at this point, and for one final time, I thought, "You're never going to catch him." I was just about all out, and he was still a few yards ahead of me. I'd been chasing the white hat for so long that I had to give it one last shot. There's one final left hand turn, and I saw him go a touch wide. It was the smallest of openings, and I started sprinting as hard as I could. I was really hurting, but I wanted to make another decisive move. I snuck by him on the inside and used the subsequent downhill to really open it up. Stephen Wells was cheering for me on the final right hand turn, and I was all out. By rights, I should have completely blown up, but I held it together through the finish in a time of 46:28, good for 20th place overall. Tom really put the hurt to me in the final 1.5 miles to finish 22 seconds ahead of me. The white hat was 7 seconds back.


Admittedly, I surprised myself. I didn't expect to run as fast as I did or feel nearly as good. I felt in control the entire way and could accelerate and really push it when I needed to. A bit of redemption for me this year, as well, running 4 minutes faster than 2009. That being said, the field was clearly stacked this year, as I finished 2 places lower this year despite the much faster time. Speaking of my 50+ minute race last year, Danielle easily topped that this year with an awesome race. Who needs speedwork? :) Great day for a number of other Trail Monsters, as well. On top of all that, my sister completed her first ever trail race and had a blast. All in all, I'd say the Bradbury Scuffle was a complete success. Thanks again to Ian for putting on a great race, and all the volunteers who made it all possible. Now, it's onto the Bradbury Mountain Breaker. I better get in some hill training, if I want to duplicate my success.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Training Week 6/27 - 7/3

Good building week, this week. More importantly, the runs were varied. Previous to the epiphanies, all my runs were basically the same: easy mileage. That's not going to get it done. I didn't come up with Jeff's 57 different run categories, but it was more varied. Because of that, it seemed a little easier to pack in the mileage. Still not a big week, but I don't want to do too much after three down weeks.

Onto the numbers:

6/27, Sunday: 5 - 44:07, Homeplace Loop. Consciously ran very easy. Along with varying the runs, I need to make sure that my easy runs really are easy.

6/28, Monday: 8 - 1:04:14, Meadow Cross Road Loop. This run started out as a tempo run, but after three miles I was just hoping to survive. It was hot, and I felt like total crap. I barely felt like I was lifting my feet off the pavement. So, instead of the 7:30-7:40 miles I was shooting for, I just tried to keep moving forward. Total bummer.

6/29, Tuesday: Off. Scheduling was not on my side this day. Seriously considered going out for a night run (because you never know when the skill might come in handy), but instead, I read Western States 100 race reports. Training by osmosis.

6/30, Wednesday: 5 - 43:38, Homeplace Loop. Another easy run on what's becoming my go-to loop. Felt a bit tight, but otherwise just fine. The most important part of today's entry is strength work—actual pushups and other pumpitude. I know, I'm somewhat amazed myself.

7/1, Thursday: 7.5 total. Great Glen Trails Spring Trail Running Series: 3.7 - 25:56; 2.25 warmup/1.5 cooldown. Ended up with my fastest time on this course after the worst warmup ever. I felt sluggish, creaky and awful on the warmup. In fact, I seriously considering bagging the race altogether. I popped a bunch of pretzels and M&M's in between and just went for it. Felt great during the race and shaved about 40 seconds off my previous best. Felt great on the cooldown, too. I have no idea.

7/2, Friday: 6 - 56:45, 9x Mt. Ararat. I'm really looking to up my hill training, so what better way than to run up a mountain? Unfortunately, this mountain is only about 220' feet above sea level. Living on the coast of Maine has its disadvantages. The plan for this run was to run comfortably, certainly not a hill interval workout. To break the monotony I varied my route to the summit, but I always climbed by the steepest route. As expected, I was a touch tired, but it was a good workout. I'll definitely be repeating this one and also extending it. Unfortunately, however, even with 9 summits of the mighty Mt. Ararat, I only managed about 650 feet of vertical in 6 miles. That seems pretty lame. Granted, about a mile of that (to and from my house) is totally flat, but I was hoping for more.

7/3, Saturday: 3 - 25:14, Suck Loop. BLECH. Worst three miles ever. I only had a brief window to squeeze a run in, so I was out the door shortly after rolling out of bed. I would have liked to have put in a few more miles, but perhaps it's a good thing I didn't have more time. Oh well. My entire right leg was very tight, and I felt like I weighed about 400 pounds. Hopefully, that was just a fluke.

Miles: 34.5
Trail: 23.5
Road: 11

So, again, good building week, slowly ramping up the mileage. And, speaking of that, the only thing missing from the week was a true long run. That will come. Tough to squeeze it all in. I think all races should have a separate category for parents with the age groups based on the age of your child.

Other then the running part, I've been doing "ALOT" of thinking about running. More specifically, what do I like about it? The answer is pretty simple: exploring and wandering. Give me a trail, and let's check it out. I'm going to use this basic philosophy to tailor my training and pick my races. Sounds like a lot more fun than track workouts and road races with 5,000 people. Not that you can't be into that sort of thing. Just not my style. Of course, this means races that are longer in nature. You know, ultr...