Saturday, February 26, 2011

Training 2/20 - 2/26

Well, I didn't quite get to the 50 I was hoping for this week, but I'm not disappointed. The key was to make certain I didn't overdo things after the marathon at the February Fat Ass last week. That being said, I may have overdone things. The pain/tightness I'm currently experiencing in my left shin/ankle is either just that: pain/tightness or something worse. Obviously, I'm hopeful it's the former and that a disciplined regimen of ice/heat/ibuprofen/stretching/foam rolling will cure it. Either way, this really was a week of second guessing. I was never certain if I was doing too much or just being overly cautious. Really an up and down week, at least mentally.

Onto the numbers...

Sunday, 2/20: 5 - 47:48, Topsham Snowmobile Trails to Lover's Lane. An easy run on what has become the old standby winter route. As expected from running 26.5 miles the previous day, my legs were tired, but, thankfully, no specific muscle soreness of any kind, which was a really good sign.

Monday, 2/21: 5.25 - 55:17, Bradbury Blizzard course, snowshoes. I wanted to check out the course, which I'd actually never snowshoed in full, only run, and also check out the start area. The park staff had agreed to pack the start area with a snowmobile, which was very nice of them, and I wanted to give the entire course a good look. Needless to say, it was firm and fast. Based on Friday's snow, I'll be very lucky to duplicate that time in Sunday's race. I had originally planned on adding on a few more miles, but I ran out of time and was ravenously hungry. The good news is that my legs felt great.

Tuesday, 2/22: Off

Wednesday, 2/23: 9.75 - 1:37:21, Granite State Snowshoe Champs course + add on at Great Glen Trails, snowshoes. Needed to get out first thing in the morning, and the thermometer was reading -2° when I headed out the door. Thankfully, it warmed up steadily throughout the run and my eyelids eventually thawed. Conditions on the groomed Nordic trails were perfect...for skiing...but surprisingly soft and slow for snowshoeing. The well-packed singletrack was actually faster. I really enjoy running the Aqueduct Loop and contemplated another lap of it when I finished the GSSC course, but decided that another 450+ of elevation gain and loss in 2.75 miles wasn't really necessary. Legs felt great for the entirety of the run, but I was bonking a bit by the end. Time for breakfast.

Thursday, 2/24: 11 - 1:22:10, River + Meadow Cross Roads. I was a bit on the fence of what type of workout to get in today, but I settled on a marathon pace run. Once I made that decision, I'd hoped to run 14 with the final 11 at MP, but it wasn't in the cards. I ended up taking the day off from work to stay home with a sick kiddo. I was pretty mentally drained by the afternoon, so I'm amazed I got out at all. And, the only reason I did get out was because D came home early from work to relieve me. With all that going, I have to say I felt great on this run. I ran this loop in the opposite direction for the first time, and it may become the regular direction. A stiff wind was in my face in a few places, but otherwise I rolled right along. The first 3 miles were easy, 7:55 pace, and the final 11 at MP, which on this day was a 7:17 average. That pace felt pretty reasonable, although my miles themselves were fairly uneven. Using the average lap pace feature on my Garmin as a guide, I'd basically slack off the first half of each mile then pick it up to get the split I wanted. I can only assume that I'd get complacent each time I saw a good split. Either way, still a great run.

Friday, 2/25: 14.25 - 2:21:41, Topsham Snowmobile Trails, Random. This could have been a really great run, but it didn't feel that way. D and I had a schedule sync again, so we headed out together. Her plan was to run the Topsham Snowmobile Dump Loop, to get 7, and I was hoping for 15. Snow starting falling shortly before we left, and we moved steadily for the first 5 miles together in about 2-3 inches of new snow. Great to run together again, even though she pushed the pace the entire time. :) At 5 miles we parted ways, her for home and I for a little exploring. I wanted to check out another branch of the snowmobile trail I'd never been on. Turns out it's just a two-mile out and back, but it meandered through some nice woods and gave me some good intel on some dirt road/trail potential for a snowless loop in the summer. I also saw a woman driving a dogsled...although neither she nor the dogs seemed to know what they were doing or particularly enjoying themselves. Very random. At about 9 miles, the snow had intensified, and I seriously contemplated heading for home to get what would have been about 11. It was at this same time that I could feel some tightness in my left shin, on the outside of my leg just above the ankle. Before my run on Monday on the Bradbury Blizzard course, I'd strapped on my old, giant snowshoes to pack out the Switchback Trail and must have tightened the binding on that foot too much. By Tuesday morning, my foot was very sore with what I've always referred to as "lace bite." I surmised that I may have tied my shoes too tight as well, but didn't think much of it since the pain had subsided on Wednesday and was gone by Thursday. Well, a couple miles later I was really thinking of it as it was pretty painful. I slowly sank into a full world of suck as by now the snowfall was near 5 inches, and I was sinking and kicking more and more with each step. Throw in some stiff wind gusts, and I just wanted to be done. Additionally, I'd only worn thin gloves since it was 32°-33° out, and after nearly two hours of running in falling snow they were soaked. I had to stow my handheld water bottle in my jacket since holding it made my hands too cold. I finally made it home, and despite putting in a solid effort and exploring some new trails, I was pretty down and concerned about my leg.

Saturday, 2/26: 2.5 - 58:03, Bradbury Blizzard recon, snowshoes. With plenty of heat, ice, ibuprofen and sticking the previous night, I woke up hopeful that my shin/ankle would be magically cured. It wasn't. A smart person would probably take a couple days off, but the Bradbury Blizzard is on Sunday—gotta race and race direct. The latter of these duties had me at The Brad early to "assess the damage" of 8-10" of new snow the previous day. Needless to say, conditions were very different from Monday, and I had a hard time even finding the same course. I was the first one into the powder, and it would have been a lot of fun if I was just looking to wander aimlessly and play in the snow, but I was on a mission. I did find "a" course, just not "the" course I had run on Monday. It will work well for the race, and bumped into Ian and the Saturday morning crew after on trip up and down, which gave me the chance to show Ian the devilishness I'd concocted for the race. Along with Zak, we ran one trip up the Switchback together, and we even managed to find the correct route again. (Even though it's not the true Switchback Trail.) I ran out of time due to the deepness of the snow slowing the pace and was unable to get a full lap of the course in, but all my wandering did add up to 2.5 miles, most of it up and down the Switchback. The good news is that although I could feel some tightness in my shin/ankle, I didn't have any pain. Fingers crossed.

Miles: 47.75
Trail: 36.75
Road: 11.25

Just a strange week all around with a huge damper on the end with the potential injury. My plan is to race the Bradbury Blizzard on Sunday and then assess. I have 4 weeks until the Gator Trail 50k, and I don't want to do anything stupid. The training has been going great, and I feel ready to throw down a good effort in that race. So, I'm not going to stress if I end up tapering 4 weeks instead of 3. Of course, I say this now, but I still want to get in one more 20+ mile run before the 50k. Holy crap! Four weeks to the big show!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Training 2/13 - 2/19

Taking a step back week last week was definitely the right call as the legs felt fairly springy this week. And, with what I put them through, they needed it: a snowshoe race, a snappy road run and a marathon. It all added up to...

Onto the numbers...

Sunday, 2/13: 8 total. Bradbury White Out.

Monday, 2/14: 5 - 46:52, Topsham Snowmobile Trails to Lover's Lane. Real easy recovery run. Trails were fairly soft, adding to the feeling in my legs that I had raced the previous day. My left calf was still a bit tight.

Tuesday, 2/15: 5.75 total, 3k snowshoe "race." Another week at Nordic Meisters in which I didn't go all out. I may have gone a little harder than necessary, but I felt pretty good. The conditions were firm, but I was surprised to go 19:05 on the 3k course. 2.75 warm up around the Aqueduct Loop again, and shorter 1 mile cool down. Although, the paces of the three pieces didn't vary by much. Overall, I'd say I felt better than I expected to, and my calf wasn't an issue at all.

Wednesday, 2/16: Off

Thursday, 2/17: 11.25 - 1:27:06, Meadow Cross + River Roads. I wanted to do something a bit up tempo, but not...well...a tempo. I have to admit that the 7:45 average felt really easy, even though it was probably a bit quicker than necessary. Oh well, I felt good, so I just rolled with it. This run has a few hills in it, too, so it was a good confidence booster.

Friday, 2/18: 5 - 47:32, Topsham Snowmobile Trails to Lover's Lane. D and I had a rare schedule sync up, so we headed out after she dropped the kiddo off at daycare. I felt a bit sluggish, no doubt from the previous day's effort, but we kept the pace really easy. Good to have the opportunity to run together.

Saturday, 2/19: 26.5 - 4:21:17, February Fat Ass. Is it normal to get together with friends and run for hours on packed, semi-packed and terrifyingly postholed snowmobile trails on a really windy day? Probably not, but if you're reading this, there's a good chance you would find it not that unusual. Our hosts, Valerie and Linda, opened their homes and nearby trails to us for an awesome day. My plan was to get at least 20, hopefully 25, and maybe all 31. The course was 5.28ish miles long and 5 laps was plenty. I never felt 100% during the run, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. It was good to get through a run like this without ever feeling great. Complete opposite of the trail marathon I ran in January at the GAC Fat Ass. However, just like the GAC Fat Ass, I ran practically every step with Jamie, and he really helped pull me through the last few miles. We pretty much hit on every topic imaginable, most not fit for print. Good times.

Miles: 61.5
Trail: 50.25
Road: 11.25

My second marathon of 2011 and my second week over 60 miles. Two more hard weeks, assuming I feel OK after Saturday, and then it's taper time. Getting down to it. I'm hoping to get over 50 this week, but it's all going to be based on how I feel.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Bradbury White Out Race Report

Alternate title for this post: Bradbury White Out Time Trial Report. The alternate title may be more appropriate as I ran all but the first 1/4 mile of the race alone, but I'll get to that part of the story in a bit.

I arrived at Bradbury Mountain State Park at about 7:45am, with 3 hours and 15 minutes to go until the start of the race. Yup, another double duty day: racing and race directing. After things came together fairly well for the Bradbury Squall, I felt like we had it all under control for this race. Now, that doesn't mean that I slept well, but things were feeling fairly automatic. Once again, Ian was a tremendous help, and after moving most of the items to the picnic shelter for registration and post-race activities, we headed out to finalize the course markings. We'd put all the flags in place on Saturday, so all that was left to do on race day was the arrows. Ian and I split the duties, and we were back in plenty of time for registration. Once again, I had a killer crew of volunteers, and at one point Ian and I looked at each other and joked, "Guess we just hang out until race time." There are always plenty of last minute details and questions, but things went very smoothly. Thanks again to my crack volunteer staff: Mindy, Valerie, Rick, Linda and Jamie.

I was pretty worried about my left calf, since it was pretty tight during and after my course marking excursion on Saturday. I stretched, heated and rolled it on Saturday night and hoped for the best. It felt OK, but still tight, when I was out placing the course markings, and I wasn't thrilled about the time between what would be my warm up and the race start: more than 2 hours.

I tried to keep my mind off of it by using that time alone to actually think about my race strategy. I hadn't given it a lot of thought until then, even though the first thing Ian said to me when we arrived at the park was, "Are you going to go out crazy fast again?" The more I thought about it, I decided that I was indeed going to go out crazy fast. Well, moderately fast anyway. Roughly, the course was all uphill in the first mile, followed by a long downhill for 2 miles (aside from the uphill parts), then another long climb to 3.5 miles at the top of the Boundary Trail. The remainder of the course was a crazy fast downhill for about .5 mile with about .1 uphill to the finish. My plan was to run it like a 3.5 mile race with the top of that hill being the finish line. I knew that I could go out hard in the first mile and recover on the downhill section. This would give me a chance to sneak away, I hoped. And, I figured that if I could get to 3.5 miles at the top of the hill in a good position, someone would have to go all out crazy to catch me in the last half mile, since I'm a decent descender. Plus, I should be able to at least hang on. Seemed like a sound plan.

As the race started, it was time to put that plan in place, and at the end of the field I was just behind acidotic RACING's Judson Cake, fellow Trail Monster Blaine Moore and unidentified fast looking dude. (I would later learn that the unknown dude was Nick Wheeler, owner of a 1:09 half marathon.) So, yup, going out hard again. Plus, conditions were firm and fast, so we were moving. On the first hill on the Northern Loop Trail, about 1/4 mile in, I moved past Blaine, and into third place. I watched Nick and Judson turn up the Terrace Trail, and I could still hear Blaine's footfalls behind me. I put my head down and hammered up the Terrace Trail, and it got quieter and quieter. I turned onto the Bluff Trail at the top and was able to catch a glimpse of a train coming up the Terrace Trail still: Blaine, followed by unknown guy, followed by Peter Keeney of Crow Athletics (and smoking me at Sidehiller fame). This was the last time in the race, I had any human contact.

My neck should be sore from all the times I looked back over the next three miles. I kept thinking I was hearing footfalls, but it was really my own neurosis. I stuck with my plan, though, and when I started climbing on the Boundary Trail, I wanted to bury it. There are a couple steep pitches that dare you to walk, but I never did. I hit the turn onto the South Ridge Trail, I was still alone and breathed a sigh of relief. I tried not to relax too much, but my focus went from pushing to staying upright. The course included a small loop out to the South Ridge Cliff that afforded the perfect opportunity to see exactly who was behind you. I timed the loop as I ran it: 40 seconds, and I didn't see anyone behind me. With the descent before me, I knew I had third place wrapped up as long as I stayed on my feet. Despite the sheer insanity that is trying to run down the South Ridge Trail, I did stay upright. Of course, there was still the small matter of the remaining cruel uphill to the finish. I hadn't dared look behind me since I timed that loop, but I wasn't about to let anyone catch me in this last section. I put my head down up the hill and through the line to finish in 33:52 in a very distant third place. Nick and Judson ran 29:48 and 30:36, respectively, so I was on the podium, but no where near the top.


Coming into the finish. Courtesy Maine Running Photos.

Overall, I'm happy with my race, but I know I could have run faster. No excuses, but running alone made it far too easy to relax. Although the look on my face on the above photo may tell a different story, I know there was a bit more in the tank. It was basically the opposite of my race at Sidehiller, when I always had someone just ahead and just behind. Very different race experience, and it really did feel like a time trial. That being said, it was a good race, and I was thrilled to get on the podium with the field that raced. I'm already looking forward to the last race in the series, the Bradbury Blizzard.

Training 2/6 - 2/12

Much needed step back week, and I think it's paid off. The draggy feeling I had in my legs early in the week had dissipated by the end. Additionally, the timing was quite good as my sinuses were in bad shape this week, thanks to our daycare kiddo. My face was sore all the way out to my ears for a couple days. Good times. So, I do thinking backing off on the mileage and the intensity was just what I needed to help fight it off.

Onto the numbers...

Sunday, 2/6: 5.25 - 1:00:10, Mt. Ararat snowshoe. A bit crusty and slushy on a warmish day, but much faster than the conditions from last Thursday. Decent effort, but could definitely feel the illness. Just never felt fresh.

Monday, 2/7: 10.25 - 1:23:35, Woodside Road. Kept the pace very easy, for both the legs and the sinuses, and, overall, I felt pretty good. Better than I expected, actually. That being said, the roads around Topsham and Brunswick right now are even less fun that usual due to the narrowing caused by the snowbanks and ice and slop all around. In addition, the temperatures were up a bit, and there was a little bit of melting. So, every passing car sprayed a sweet mix of water, road salt, dirt, gasoline, oil, and gawdknowswhatelse all over me. Running on the roads sucks.

Tuesday, 2/8: 4 total, 3k snowshoe "race." Back to Nordic Meisters again, but this week, I was really just going through the motions. Shorter warm up, moderate effort during the 3k and really short cool down. Just felt tired and off, but taking it easy was the right call. Because of this, my results aren't going to look that good, and Tuesdays are the best day for me to go hard. Really, it's all about keeping my ego in check and focusing on the bigger picture.

Wednesday, 2/9: Off

Thursday, 2/10: 5 - 42:45, Highland Green. Another real easy day, and I felt really good and comfortable. Very uneventful run, which was nice. Back road, the dirt portion of the loop, was very, very icy reducing my pace to shuffle.

Friday, 2/11: 9 - 1:20:39, Topsham Snowmobile trails. This was a sweet run. I had a really fun time just wandering and exploring some trails I'd never been on before. Kept the pace really easy and the legs felt great. I think that I can come up with 6- and 7-mile loops from my house, which will be great. Got a lot out of this run both physically and mentally. Great stuff. Well, not all great, I did tweak my left calf a bit with about a mile to go as I stepped into a posthole.

Saturday, 2/12: 4.5 - 1:20:15, Bradbury White Out, course marking. At The Brad early to get the course marked for Sunday's Bradbury White Out snowshoe race. Carrying a backpack full of flags, stopping at every intersection and then stressing about every single flag, tends to slow the pace a bit, but there is no denying that the course would be firm and fast for the race. Enjoyable tour of the course, but my calf was very tight from the previous day.

Totals: 38
Trail: 22.75
Road: 15.25

Pretty pleased that a 38-mile week represents a step back week for me, and even more pleased that my legs felt rejuvenated by the end. My mindset also changed throughout the week as I was not looking forward to my runs early in the week, but I was back to my usual ready-to-go attitude by the end. Hopefully, things will stay together with some big training weeks coming up. Looking forward to them. Obviously, I'll be monitoring the calf, just to be safe, but I don't think it will be an issue.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Training 1/30 - 2/5

Another solid week. Even though looking at the number of total miles, 47, it would seem to be low for this point in ultra training. However, a closer look will reveal some high quality and tough miles on snowshoes.

Onto the numbers:

Sunday, 1/30: 5 - 44:56, Highland Green. A very easy recovery run following Sidehiller. I'm not going to lie: I was tired. But, not sore at all.

Monday, 1/31: 9.25 - 1:34:58, Granite State Snowshoe Championship Course + add on at Great Glen Trails. This was a very awesome, but very cold snowshoe run. The sun was dipping behind the Presidential Range when I started, and by the time I reached the high point on the Aqueduct Loop, I was treated to a fine sunset. However, once the sun went down, it got cold. It was 3° when I, yeah, really cold by the end. My gloves and outer shirt were frozen solid. The good news with such cold temperatures is that the groomed Nordic trails were also frozen solid, making for some fast running. On the add-on portion, I opted to check out some singletrack. Unfortunately, I was the first person to do so, and the deep snow flung on my back from the snowshoes only added to my frozen state. But, like I said, this was a very solid run.

Tuesday, 2/1: 5.5 total, 3k snowshoe race. Another week of Nordic Meisters in the books. All the snow has made the sidehills pretty sketchy, and I was admitted a bit sluggish from the previous couple days. Decent effort, though, and more importantly, I didn't slide off the trail. 18:37 for the 3k, with the Aqueduct Loop for a warm up (again), but a very short cool down...I was already cool enough.

Wednesday, 2/2: Off

Thursday, 2/3: 5.25 - 1:15:10, Mt. Ararat snowshoe. Holy crap. With the new snow that fell on Tuesday and Wednesday, the trail hadn't been tracked out...and it was deep. I basically thrashed myself for 5 miles. Beautiful day, though.

Friday, 2/4: 17 - 2:08:41, Foreside Loop + Highland Green. Three miles easy: 24:10, followed by 14 at marathon pace, averaged 7:25 per mile. Once I realized that this run wasn't going to be easy, it felt a lot easier. Once I accepted that it was going to hurt a bit, it hurt a lot less. It was a solid run. I never felt great, but very happy with the result. I also got to flip off a jerk in pickup who was ticked off that I was taking up too much room in the road. He was very angry. I'm pretty sure he hates his life, if he was that angry at having to stop for 3 seconds.

Saturday, 2/5: 5 - 41:52, Highland Green (Out & Back). Couldn't run the usual loop since it hadn't been plowed, and I wasn't up for postholing. The out and back version worked out just fine. Felt a bit sluggish and my hamstrings were tight from the previous day.

Miles: 47
Trail: 20
Road: 27

Really happy with the week. Also a good week because I am definitely tired. I'm averaging 49 miles per week for 2011, when for all of 2010 my average was about 28. This is a big jump, and I think it's paying off. The real test comes on 3/26 in the Gator Trail 50k, which I think about every single day. I am confident with the direction my training is headed. That being said, I'm also smart as this up coming week will be a step back for some much needed rest. No long run or high intensity this week. I'm hoping to freshen up the legs a bit for four more big weeks of training before a good taper.