Monday, January 31, 2011

Training 1/23 - 1/29

Numbers alone point to this being a very solid week. Very happy about that. However, I didn't feel particularly springy, but that's not a surprise with two races and a 20-mile road run. Maybe I'm nitpicking, but I want to make sure that I'm keeping up the positive momentum.

Onto the numbers...

1/23, Sunday: 8.75 total, Bradbury Squall.

1/24, Monday: 5 - 47:22, Topsham Snowmobile Trails to Lovers' Lane. Good, solid recovery run. Kept the pace very easy. The snowmobile trails were pretty decently packed.

1/25, Tuesday: 5.75 total, 3k snowshoe race. Fourth week of Nordic Meisters, and I was back at it after a week away. Snow conditions were much softer, making the sidehills pretty sketchy and borderline unrunnable. Those sections of the course aren't really a lot of fun, but the rest of the course is a fair test. Time reflected both the snow conditions and my effort: 20:18, which was not all out. Tempo effort, but it's tough to gauge with the aforementioned sidehill. Felt a little sluggish and cut the cool down short.

1/26, Wednesday: Off

1/27, Thursday: 20 - 2:39:27, Brunswick Bike Path. After the snow on Wednesday, I wanted to stay off the roads, or, more specifically, the uncleared, slushy, frozen mess on the road shoulders. The Bike Path was the obvious choice. Including the less traveled roads on either end of the Bike Path, the total length is about 3.25 miles. Yup, 20 miles on a 3.25 mile stretch of road. This run was really more of a mental test than a physical one. I did have some annoying back spasms at about 13 miles, but I was able to run through them. Did I mention the wind? Overall, this run was hard...or at least it felt hard.

1/28, Friday: 4 - 42:10, Mt. Ararat Snowshoe. Beautiful day: sunny with temps in the low 30's. I was tired from the previous day, and I cut this one short. With a race scheduled for the next day, I didn't want to push it. The tired legs were worrisome.

1/29, Saturday: 8 total, Sidehiller 4 Mile Snowshoe Race.

Miles: 51.5
Trail: 27.5
Road: 24

There are so many reasons I should be thrilled about this week, but I'm not all the way to thrilled. I feel like it's only OK. The mileage alone is better than any single week of 2010, and I had two great races on top of that. Good reasons to be excited, but I'd like to see this become more of a standard week in 2011, and, as I mentioned, none of it came easy. Then again, maybe that's the point.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sidehiller 4 Mile Snowshoe Race - Race Report

I suppose this race report should begin the same way the lead up to this race did: lots of whining and complaining. I'd been battling some type of sinus monster all week, and my legs were feeling pretty shot after a 20-mile road run on Thursday. I went for an easy snowshoe run on Friday, which ended up feeling anything but easy. Needless to say, my confidence was not high. However, I did have big plans for this race, since it is...well, a big race. A good chunk of the best snowshoe racers in New England make the trip to (the) Center (of nowhere) Sandwich, and I was anxious to see how I would stack up this year.

Fellow Trail Monster, Four, made the trip with me, and it was great to have someone to complain to about how tired my legs felt for the entire ride. A race like Sidehiller is great because it's basically old home week, and it was fun to catch up with so too many familiar faces to mention here. In many ways, it makes the race seem like an after thought, and in my humble opinion, the snowshoe crowd is among the best you'll find anywhere. Like the trail and ultra crowds, no matter where you are in the pack there's a great sense of "we're all in this together" that creates an awesome camaraderie. I also have to admit that it was nice to just be a racer and not have to direct as well, like last week at the Bradbury Squall, and, as a result, I was quite relaxed.

Four and I got in a 2-mile warm up, and I chatted with Scott Mason on the way back. It's always great to see Scott running at races rather than just shooting photos of them. I made my way to the start and said hello to a number of others, including Steve Wolfe, while doing a few strides. Steve had a "I can't believe I'm racing today" look about him and was a little off his game, unfortunately. After race director extraordinaire and White Mountain Miler top dog, Paul Kirsch, gave his pre-race instructions, I somehow found myself in the second row on the start line directly behind Kevin Tilton and Jim Johnson. I knew these guys would be duking it out for the top spot, so I was a bit concerned that I was going to get pulled out way, way, way too fast. As the gun went off that's pretty much exactly what happened, and if the race was 200 meters, I would have finished in the top 5. Luckily, the trail at the start is a wide Nordic trail, so I had enough space to let a number of guys by until things evened themselves out.

Race start. Photo by Joe Viger.

After getting a course description from Paul earlier in the week, I felt like I knew what to expect and set my strategy accordingly. The course began with about 3/4 of a mile on the groomed Nordic trails around the fairgrounds before crossing the road and into the woods for about 3 miles of singletrack. We would climb after leaving the road, cross a field, drop back down to the road, and then finish back on the groomed trails at the fairground. Knowing my strength/disregard for my own life on the downhills, my plan was to go out hard—borderline suicidally hard—then push the uphill with the hopes of maintaining on the downhill and surviving to the finish. Getting pulled out so quickly at the beginning certainly set me up nicely to implement my plan, but what I did not expect was the softness of the groomed trail. Normally, a groomed trail will be firm and well-packed, but we were still punching through with just about every step. In the first half mile, I knew this was going to be a very tough race.

First road crossing. Photo by Joe Viger.

Circling through the fairgrounds, I settled in behind Tuesday Night Turtle's Dave Principie and was not far behind him as we crossed the road—when the real racing and climbing begins. Dave passed another racer, and I went by him shortly after. I was being trailed by...well, I'm not exactly sure how many or who. I was really focused on climbing and moving forward, so I forced myself not to look back. The climb wasn't steep, but the snow was very loose. A smarter person would have backed off the pace, but I was determined to stick to my strategy, even though I thought a couple times, "I'm not sure how long I can keep this pace up."

After more climbing, I eventually reached the first field just behind Dave. I was relieved to be off the climb. My relief soon turn to despair as the fields turned out to be harder running than the climbs. I will have nightmares about these fields for years to come. The snow was a mid of sugar and wind-packed crust. If you ran in the footfalls of the person in front of you, you sunk deeper into the hole. If you tried to run in between the holes, the crust and sugar mix dragged you down. It was pure evil. I made it across the first field right on Dave's tails, and Crow Athletics' Peter Keeney went by both of us here and basically took off. We came to a second field, and it was more of the same. I was deep into a zone here and just focused on Dave's snowshoes. Four described running through these fields the best: it was like the scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail when the knight is running across the field, but not getting any closer. Drum, drum, drum, drum... If anyone was out there watching us come at them, I sure it would have been an apt description. I felt like I was hammering, but Dave looked like he was barely moving...and I couldn't catch him. Like I said, pure evil.

I don't think I've ever been so happy to see a stone wall in my life, as we exited the field a began the downhill to the road...or so I thought. As we started downhill, I picked up some chatter behind me and realized that Chris Dunn and Amber Ferriera of acidotic Racing were right on my heels. The racing history between Chris and myself is very one-sided and always follows the same script: he passes me within the first .5 mile of the race, and I never see him again. At this point, not quite three miles, into the race, I had been wondering when he was going to catch and pass me. He was right on my tails, and I said, "Either you're slipping, or I'm suicidal." He told me I was doing fine, and I knew he was content to stay behind in this instance.

Moments later, we reached another (really, the same) stone wall, and we entered another (really, the same) field. A third field crossing?!?!?! I thought we were headed down to the road?!?! I wanted to do terrible, awful things to Paul. Dave must have been thinking the same thing as he slowed, and I let him know I was coming around. Chris and Amber did the same, and I lead the three of us across the field. It was at this point that it occurred to me that I had been running a pace I had no idea if I could hold for more than 3 miles now. I was pretty certain I was going to blow up at any second.

The field ended and we started downhill. "Finally, we're headed for the road," I thought. Since Amber weighs about half of what I do, she literally floated by on my right side. I stayed with her on the downhill, and I could tell we gapped Chris slightly. Then, the trail started climbing again! Now, I was really mad at Paul. I was right on Amber's heels as we climbed, and she asked if I wanted to get by. I said, "I'm barely hanging on," and it was the truth. Chris had closed on us and was nice enough to announce that this was the last climb. "I didn't realize we were climbing," I quipped, and it was honesty the most sarcastic thing I've said in my life (that's saying a lot.) because that climb just flat out hurt. The order remained the same at the top of the climb, and I knew we were indeed headed down to the road. I nearly fell, and would have crushed Amber, on a sketchy, rutted-out corner, but stayed upright, and we crossed the road together. I thought Chris had fallen a bit back, but as we crossed the bridge to head across the field he was right behind us. I was beginning to think he was a horror movie villain. "Why won't he die?!?!"

"Pulling" Chris to the finish. Photo by Krissy K.

In the final stretch to the finish, I thought I was going to go around Amber and just at that moment she accelerated. I knew I wasn't going to get her, but, in all honestly, I wasn't racing her. I didn't care if she got me by a mile or vice versa, as long as I stayed ahead of Chris. About a second later, I felt Chris come right up on my shoulder, and I did the same to him. In the end, the order remained the same with just 3 seconds between the three of us. I finished in 16th place overall in 38:17.

Getting dusted by the reigning national champion. (Who probably would've run faster had she been able to see my face.) Photo by Joe Viger.

Finish Line. Photo by Joe Viger.


Post-race, Chris said, "Your!" That really sums it up. I'm definitely in better shape this snowshoe season, and, additionally, I'm learning how to race. I thought I was done on 6 or 7 separate occasions during that race, and it helped a ton to have great competition all around me. I certainly would not have run that fast without those guys pushing me. During the race, nothing was fun, but it felt really good after. Needless to say, I'm very happy with my performance, and it was an all around great day at the races.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bradbury Squall - Race Report

This race report is really a race report and a race directing report. So, I'm not sure if that means it will be twice as good or twice as bad, but I'll do my best.

The race directing portion of this report really starts somewhere in my head last winter during snowshoe season, when I thought, "We really need to have snowshoe races at Bradbury." A year of scheming later and after a summer "apprenticeship" helping Ian with the Bradbury Mountain Trail Running Series, I arrived at Bradbury Mountain State Park at 7:45 on Sunday morning ready to direct my first race. Ian, who was unbelievably helpful throughout the entire process, arrived shortly after me and summed it up best with the first thing he said to me, "How'd you sleep last night?" Red Meat arrived moments later, and the three of us headed out to mark the course. I had marked the singletrack section, Krista's Trail, on Saturday so that saved some time, but it still took longer than I had hoped. By the time we finished, my tremendous crew of volunteers—Linda, Valerie, Jamie and Jim, had already arrived ready to do anything and everything I needed. The race absolutely would not have happened without them. Thanks, guys!

The next hour and forty-five minutes were a total blur, and then suddenly I was changing into my racing gear. Then I had a surreal moment as I was the guy standing in front of the start line thanking sponsors and giving race instructions. I was very relieved to get on the starting line and just be a racer.

The cowbell rang, and the first-ever snowshoe race at Bradbury Mountain State Park was underway. My plan was to go out hard to get to the singletrack .6 miles into the race as far up in the field as possible, and as I reached the end of the field I was right next to Judson Cake—a 2:22 marathoner. Yup, going out hard. He pulled away from me, and another racer, a young kid whom I didn't recognize, moved past me and up alongside Judson. The snowmobiles had "groomed" the Northern Loop Trail and the Ski Trail making it very runnable, and I watched that duo steadily pull away from me with each stride. I had no illusions of running with Judson, so I didn't worry much about them. However, I did keep waiting for any one of the many talented Trail Monsters to join me. As I reached Krista's Trail, I was thrilled to be in third place and was very curious who was behind me as I could hear footfalls but hadn't looked back. It was not who I expected. It wasn't any of the Trail Monsters, but the tall, fit looking guy I saw at registration.

Once we hit the singletrack, he moved right up behind me, and I told him I would pull over if he wanted to go around. He declined, which was fine with me, as I appreciated the push. Aside from the two racers in front of us, it was clear that no one else had been through that trail since I had marked the course the previous day. It was classic snowshoe conditions: barely tracked powder, which means it was fun, but tough going. From behind me I heard, "Man, this is deep." I couldn't disagree. I did catch a glimpse of some of the pack behind us at one point, and I knew that they were right on our heels. Running that singletrack was really fun, but taxing. I made the pass offer once again, and once again he declined. We hit what I knew was the top of the climb on Krista's Trail, and I was able to open up a small gap as we descended through the twists and turns.

Once we hit the Tote Road, which was decently packed but only "groomed" by ski and snowshoe traffic, I'd maintained a small gap, but he soon closed it. About a quarter mile later, he said, "I think I'll sneak by now." I moved over and let him by pass as the trail climbed slightly. He put a good amount of distance on me in a short amount of time. Then we hit a short downhill, and I closed a bit. This would be the story for the rest of the race: he'd pull away on the uphills, and I'd close on the downs. For the most part, the Boundary Trail is downhill, so I was able to work back to only a few steps behind him at the low point of the whole course. After that low point, was what earlier that morning Ian had called "the worst part of the whole race." When he said it, I knew he was right, and I felt he was right as the trail steepened and then steepened again. That uphill on the Boundary Trail was a killer. And, true to form, I was loosing ground. I just couldn't stay with him.

I knew we had about three-quarters of a mile remaining, and I kept chasing. I never fully expected to catch him, but I was using him as a carrot. Throughout this race, I had a very strange feeling: I was running scared. I knew the caliber of guys behind me: Ian, James, Stephen, Jeff, Blaine, David and Chuck to name a few. I kept waiting to get caught. In any road or trail race, it would be a tough task to race with these guys, and I really wasn't sure how it would translate to snowshoes. I do have more snowshoe experience, but just because you've run more races doesn't make you faster. I knew that if I backed off at all, I'd get caught. Plus, I was racing for a podium spot, which was uncharted territory for me.

Eventually, the Boundary Trail brought us back to the snowmobile-groomed Northern Loop Trail, and I have to admit, it was nice to have a surface I could really open up on. But, it wasn't enough as I never made the catch. And, to my surprise, I also didn't get caught. I finished in fourth place in 32:24. It was great to get back to snowshoe racing, and I'm really happy with my race. Of course, it would have been nice to podium. At the finished, I congratulated and introduced myself to Scott Hornney. It had been a good race.


A lot of great performances by my Trail Monster Running teammates, many of whom were running their first snowshoe race. More importantly, it really seemed that everyone who raced had a lot of fun. Snowshoe racing is tough, and it was great to see so many smiles at the finish line. Well, maybe they were smiling because it was over. It was also good to hear that no one got lost. I did question every single flag and arrow as I ran past them during the race, so even while racing I was aware of my directing duties. I was as much pleased as I was relieved.

Awards, raffle, soup, chatting (getting warm) by the fire... It all added up to a great day. Very happy to have the first race under my belt, but really it was a team effort. I had so many people pitch in so many ways that I felt like everything was under control. Ian and I headed out to pick up the course marking, and we both bonked on the way back. Seemed like a fitting end to the day.

All photos courtesy Maine Running Photos.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Training 1/16 - 1/22

The mileage for the week seems a tad low with no true long run, but a deeper look will show some good quality. Only one road run, which was a tempo session, and the rest were in snowshoes or on trails. I'm definitely not hitting the speed goals of the Pfitz plan, but I'm modifying it to do what I enjoy and am certainly building strength. And, in many ways, it's those modifications that are informing my decision for my plans after the Gator Trail 50k. It's definitely dangerous to look too far beyond that race, so I'm trying to incorporate some workouts that will most closely reflect what I'll face that day, i.e. a lot of laps, to keep my focus.

Onto the numbers...

1/16, Sunday: 8.5 - 1:47:16, Bradbury Squall & White Out courses on snowshoes. Met a crew of Trail Monsters at Bradbury Mountain State Park to check out the courses for the Bradbury Mountain Snowshoe Series. Conditions were terrific with plenty of snow to good around. We broke trail on Krista's Trail and then lost the trail. We ended up running into a point, totally lost the trail, and turned around and ran back out the way we came. We decided to head back into Krista's Trail in the opposite direction eventually linking up (somehow) with the trail we made from the other direction. It wasn't how I planned it, but it made a great loop and it's always a blast to break trail on snowshoes...especially in good company. We finished the Bradbury Squall course, and then Ian and I headed out to run the Bradbury White Out course. It was a great run, and I felt strong throughout. That being said, I'd have enough when we finished the two courses, so a tour of the Bradbury Blizzard course will have to wait for another day. When I got home, I ate a quick lunch and headed out with D and the kiddo for a ski at Pineland Farms. It was our first time skiing with the kiddo in the backpack, and she loved it. Great day!

1/17, Monday: 5 - 50:13, Topsham Snowmbile Trails to Lovers' Lane. D had done this same run earlier in the day and reported fairly firm conditions. Well, since I out weigh her by almost 50 pounds, I found the conditions somewhat less firm. :) Wanted to keep this a very easy run, and that's reflected in the time. Felt good overall, though.

1/18, Tuesday: 15.25 - 2:39:00, Beautiful Loop. D was looking to get her long run in, and, hopefully, on trails. I opted to join her at Bradbury Mountain State Park to give her a tour of the Beautiful Loop, since she had never run it before. Flakes began falling as soon as we arrived at the park. Val joined us for the first 4.5 miles, which was great. This loop is awesome and really rugged with plenty of hills. Trail conditions were firmer than I expected, and we moved along well for the first few miles. We had a bit trouble finding the trail after the first crossing of Allen Rd., and the hills before Elmwood Rd. slowed D a bit. Plus, by the end of the run, there was at least an inch of new snow, slowing our progress. Pace is really irrelevant on this loop, though, because it just so much fun. I felt very strong throughout, and although not the mileage I'd like for my weekly long run, I consider it harder than 20-mile road run.

1/19, Wednesday: 11 - 1:22:08, Brunswick Bike Path, tempo run. Plan was for a 3-mile warm up, 6 miles at half marathon pace and a 2 mile cool down. Could have done without the wind, snow and snow/slush on the bike path. Not perfect conditions. Oh, and I don't know what my half marathon pace is right now, but I know what I'd like it to be, so I went with that. The hardest mile of the whole workout was the first, as I had trouble getting up to speed, and I consciously eased back a touch in the final two miles. In the end, I was only one-second off my per mile goal average for the 6 miles. Very pleased with this workout. Splits: 7:00/6:50/6:54/6:50/6:52/6:53. The only negative is that speedier runs on the road certainly tighten my hamstrings.

1/20, Thursday: Off

1/21, Friday: 5.25 - 1:04:06, Mt. Ararat snowshoe loop. Back to the same loop I ran last week, but it was a lot like starting over as two snowstorms had come and gone burying the loop once again. However, the top six inches were picture-perfect untracked powder. Just a ton of fun. Plus, I got to watch a gorgeous sunset. Unfortunately, as the sun set the temperature also dropped. The beautiful powder had stuck to me and especially my gloves. My hands iced up. Not so pleasant. Otherwise, an awesome run even if it is just a half-mile loop.

1/22, Saturday: 2.25 - 41:38, Krista's Trail, Bradbury Mountain State Park. With the first race in the Bradbury Mountain Snowshoe Series, the Bradbury Squall, coming up on Sunday, I wanted to get out and mark Krista's Trail, a .75-mile singletrack section that I assumed would be untracked. I was right. It was clear that it had snowed twice since the last people had been through there: that was the Trail Monsters on our Sunday run. I dropped the flags and shuffled along. It was slow going. Beautiful, but slow. With the loop completed, I reached the Tote Road and realized that I needed to head home so D could get to work. Daddy duty day! I'd hope to run the whole course, but I need to get that loop marked. Mission accomplished.

Miles: 47.25
Trail: 36.25
Road: 11

My hope was to be over 50, but it's not always in the cards. Part of it is perspective, I guess, as this would have been my second biggest mileage week of 2010. My hamstrings are still tight, but have been upgraded from "Damn, that hurts" to "Kinda tight." I know that running on the roads does seem to aggravate them, even at an easy pace—just another example of "roads suck." Overall, though, I'm feeling strong, and I feel like I'm building a solid base. It's not speedy, but I think it's speedy enough. I'm halfway through my eighteen-week training plan for the Gator Trail 50k, and I certainly haven't follow the plan letter for letter, but I never expected to. Up next: first snowshoe race of the season, the Bradbury Squall.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Training 1/9-1/15

This week didn't turn out quite as I had hoped due to the trials and tribulations of work, travel and general life scheduling. However, one of the keys this week was to be sure I was fully recovered from my marathon distance run at the GAC Fat Ass. (I'm pretty certain I'm not Italian.) Things seemed to be falling into place nicely early in the week, but the end of the week has left some question marks.

Onto the numbers...

1/9, Sunday: 5 - 44:31, Weldon Farm Road with D. Necessary recovery run. This run was a tale of two bodies. I actually felt relatively springy and had no muscle soreness, two great signs, but my hamstrings were awful. Strange because they hadn't bothered me all that much during the previous day's long run.

1/10, Monday: 5 - 50:50, Brunswick Town Commons. Instead of doing a medium-long run today, I wanted to be certain I was recovering properly, so I took another easy day. Unfortunately, the normally very mellow loop in the Commons was sketchy ice and ankle breakers most of the way. Even with screw shoes, the footing was treacherous, and I had to pay close attention with each step. This kept the pace very slow, and I was bummed to not be able to roll through the Commons as easily as I normally would. My hamstrings felt much better, however.

1/11, Tuesday: 6.5 total, 3k snowshoe race. Second week of Nordic Meisters was a mirror image of the first week: I ran the workout in reverse, starting with the longer warmup. My strategy was to take stock on the warmup to determine how hard I would hit the race portion. I felt great, including my hamstrings, so I decided to crank it up a notch. I ended up running 17:55 for the 3k, which was considerably faster, but I know there was a lot more in the tank. The limiting factor on my speed was not me, but rather the snow conditions. Even though the trails are firm, the snow cover is fairly lean, which means that the sidehills (of which there is a large amount) are not really filled in, making them very tricky. And, not wanting to kill myself during a Tuesday workout, I focused on staying upright rather than hitting those sections hard. It got dark during my cool down, and I was pretty chilly by the end.

1/12, Wednesday: Off. 14-16 inches of snow fell.

1/13, Thursday: 5.25 - 1:07:22, Mt. Ararat Snowshoe Loops. According to the Pfitz Plan, I probably should have hit the roads today for a medium-long, slightly up tempo effort, but with road conditions still poor from the previous day's storm, I opted for a snowshoe run. And, in reality, how could I not get on the snowshoes after such a big storm? I "groomed" a .5 loop around the Mt. Ararat trails, and after the third lap or so it became quite runnable. About 1/3 of the loop includes a snowmobile trail, so it was nice to take advantage of their "grooming" as well. Although, with so much new snow at once, the snowmobile trail is also quite soft. Great to get out in the snow, and would have done a couple more laps if I'd had more time. Worst part of the run was carrying my snowshoes home with wet gloves...brrrrrr. Do they really need to plow that .35 stretch?

1/14, Friday: 5 - 42:16, Mt. Ararat High School Loops. Back to Mt. Ararat today, but this time on the roads around the middle and high schools. I was really short on time after a day of meetings and travel for work, but before D go home with the kiddo. (I made dinner still dressed in all my running clothes.) I obviously hadn't eaten enough during the day as I felt flat and had no energy. 8-minute miles on this completely flat loop were a struggle. Plus, I'd been either sitting in a car or in meetings all day, and my hamstrings let me know. My stride felt awkward and forced. Just not a good run.

1/15, Saturday: 11 - 1:33:16, Meadow Cross + River Road. 4° when I left the house in a foul mood. I had originally hoped to get in at least 18 today, but we didn't have enough time for both D and I to get all our miles in before she headed to work and, frankly, I wasn't really up for it. Not a bad pace for a cold morning with no mojo, but I never really enjoyed myself on this run. Normally, I'll have a "this is awesome" moment on every run, but not today. Trudge, trudge, trudge. My hamstrings were a mess and are seemingly riding a roller coaster of tightness. I was completely frosted over by the end, so at least I looked hardcore.

Miles: 38
Trail: 16.75
Road: 21.25

Like I said, decent start to the week and then clunkers the last two days. I feel like I was smart with my marathon recovery and the last two days are their own issues, but it's so tough to tell. Aside from the hamstrings, the bummerness could be mental as I didn't want the mileage to drop that much this week, and I never got a long run in. I'm hoping for more consistency. That being said, I did have two great snowshoe efforts midweek, so what those workouts lack in mileage they make up for in strength/intensity/awesomeness. Hoping for a rebound next week.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Training 1/2-1/8

In the first full week of 2011, I ran more miles than any single week of 2010. It's unrelated to any type of New Year's resolution, but it does reflect what I plan to get done this year.

Onto the numbers...

1/2, Sunday: 6 - 47:48, Brunswick 6. Back from the dead after a couple days off due to a nasty cold. This loop was a new loop I'd never run before, so it was a good way to start fresh. My plan was to keep the pace really easy and was surprised it was as snappy as it was. Good sign. Still some tightness in my left hamstring.

1/3, Monday: 10 - 1:17:36, Woodside Road. This is a classic loop from Bowdoin College, but I ran it from home, doubling the distance. Not only is it classic, but it's also a bit hilly, especially from my house. Goal pace was 7:50 or so, and was pleased with the 7:44 average, especially on a very windy day. I didn't feel 100%, but I certainly didn't feel bad. My guess is that most of that feeling was mental, since I was not liking the road running. Left hamstring still tight.

1/4, Tuesday: 6.5 total, 3k snowshoe race. First week of Nordic Meisters at Great Glen Trails, and I'm happy to be able to take advantage of the snowshoe division again this year, since it's more specific for my training. My goal for the race was a tempo type effort. I ran the course easy as a warmup (12:10/mile), then slightly harder in the race. (19:38, 10:30/mile). The surface was fairly firm, but very uneven, so not as quick as it first appeared. Happy with the effort. I ran the 2.75-mile Aqueduct Loop for a cool down, a cool down with 461 of elevation gain. Good stuff. Mentally, it was very good to get off the roads. Both hamstrings a bit tight.

1/5, Wednesday: Off

1/6, Thursday: 8 - 1:02:19, Meadow Cross Road Loop. Shockingly relaxed and easy for 7:46 per mile. Uneventful run overall. Hamstrings felt much better today, which I'm attributing to two decent nights of sleep in a row.

1/7, Friday: 5 - 43:11, Highland Green Road. Blah. My original plan was for a trail run, but I ran out of time, so I hit the roads from home. Physically, I felt fine, but wasn't mentally there. No big deal as it was a scheduled easy day.

1/8, Saturday: 26.2 - 4:08:10, GAC Fat Ass at Bradley Palmer State Park. Great day on the trails. D and I headed down to my parents' house on Friday evening, so it was just a quick 15-minute drive to Bradley Palmer in the morning. We met up with Jamie and Kate right away, and off we went. My goal for the day was at least 3 laps, but I hoped to get 4, depending on the conditions. The trail surface for this event varies wildly from year to year, and on Saturday it was pretty firm with not much loose snow. However, it was very uneven with myriad "ankle breakers" along the course. So, not perfect, but they could have been a lot tougher. Screw shoes worked perfectly. D, Jamie and I ran the first two 6.2-mile laps together, and the miles came very easily. When the first two laps came and went so quickly, I was confident I'd get all four. A huge reason for the ease of the first two laps was the conversation with those two, and it felt great to be running with people. Plus, the atmosphere creating by the GAC crew for the entire event is awesome. After the second lap, D decided to back off the pace a bit, and Jamie and I headed off without her. Snow started to fall at some point in this lap and would continue to intensify for the rest of the run. It was in the third lap that I decided that I might as well tack on the extra mile and half and make it a marathon. I was feeling terrific, so I saw no reason not to go for it. (Admittedly, this was my "best case scenario" going into the day.) Jamie ran a bit of my fourth lap with me, so he could get an even 20, leaving me solo for my final miles. Once alone, I must have picked up the pace a bit, since my fourth lap was the fastest of the day. I didn't pay much attention to my watch or my splits, but we were just under and hour for each of the first three, and I pulled in the aid station at 3:54:xx on my final full lap. I asked the race officials what I needed to run to make it a full marathon and then headed off into the snow. I finished the marathon in 4:08:10, and, in all honesty, it felt very comfortable. My hamstrings were a bit tight by the end but not painful or limiting in any way. Thanks to the GAC for hosting such a great event. I ate a super roast beef, an order of chicken fingers, an order of onion rings and a Dr. Pepper post-race. Gotta refuel!

Miles: 61.5
Trail: 32.5
Road: 29

A great week. Not much else to say. I guess this is what real training feels like. My hamstrings are a bit troublesome, but they should work themselves out with some good stretching and foam rolling.

The only glitch in my training plan is that because of my snowshoeing, upcoming snowshoe races and general distaste for road racing, I don't have any real measuring stick for my training. I'm not going to ever really know where I am. Am I slower than I think? Am I faster than I think? With no plans to run any kind of certified road race, I won't really know. It's a bit disconcerting, but I'm coming to terms with it. Yes, I'm following a plan, but I running what I want to run. (See: 1/8, Trail Marathon. That's certainly not in the plan.) Mentally, though, I'm certain this is the way to go, since the main component of the plan is to have fun with it.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Training 12/26 - 1/1

Um, yeah,

This week was supposed to be a step back week, but not nearly this much of a step back. Long story short: I'm sick. I only managed to log 15.5 miles. The only decent run of this week was a snowshoe "run" on Tuesday in the fresh snow. The rest were garbage miles or no miles. *grumble*

However, this week, I did go over 1500 miles for the year. Not a lot for a lot of people, but a significant jump for me from 2008 (1053) and 2009 (1118). And, since I probably didn't run 500 miles combined from 1998 - 2007, I'll take it. That being said, I planning on even more in 2011.

And, I guess that's my wrap up post for 2010. The way I'm thinking about my training right now, I'm not really looking back. I have ALOT of work to do, so I'm focused on the year ahead. (Of course, it would be nice if I could shake this damn cold/plague and actually train.) I posted my race schedule (so far) at right, and I hope to add to it. As I mentioned, the Gator Trail 50k is my focus right now, and I'm already signed up for MDI in the fall. I'm not certain how I'm going to approach MDI yet: whether it will be a fun run or a goal race. I'll make this decision as I get into the summer, which will be informed by my spring "endeavors," which will be decided based on my results/recovery from Gator Trail, which will be determined by my training. Like I said, I better shake this cold...