Sunday, August 28, 2011

Training 8/14 - 8/27

A training fortnight!

Onto the numbers...

8/14, Sunday: 9 - 1:16:22, Bradbury Mountain Breaker. Still not really sure how or why I had such a solid result.

8/15, Monday: 5 - 41:35, Highland Green. A little tight and a touch of fatigue after the race, but not sore at all, which is even more baffling. Good to feel a bit tired after a hard effort. Hadn't had that feeling in weeks...months?

8/16, Tuesday: 7.75 - 1:35 running time, Beast Run. Drink a beer, run a mile lap in the trails. Suffice to say, mistakes were made, but a good time was had by all. Thankfully, I was given a ride home. Unfortunately, I rolled my left ankle quite hard only 2 miles into the run. Would've been ideal to ice it afterwards...

8/17, Wednesday: from life...

8/18, Thursday: 3 - 23:31, Patriot Commons. Flat, road run to test the ankle. It didn't feel that great. Booooorrrrrinng loop.

8/19, Friday: 5 - 38:30, Patriot Commons x2 (Canam Variation). Ankle felt good enough to push it to 5 miles, but not good enough to do something other than another boring, flat, easy road run.

8/20, Saturday: 5 - 39:00, Patriot Commons x2 (Canam Variation). No real/addition pain in the ankle, but left shin was extremely tight/painful from compensating. Some pain in my foot as well. Conscious of it with every step, which only added to the mental torture.

Miles: 34.75
Trail: 16.75
Road: 18

Not the mileage I had hoped for, but I'm playing it safe with the ankle/don't have a choice. More curtailing due to injury. I'd be mad if I didn't half expect it at this point, or I had rolled it at the end of the Beast Run, read while...well...drunk. Rolling it early was no different than rolling it on your standard trail run.

8/21, Sunday: Off. Planned to get in a run today, but my shin was fairly painful and randomly spasming all afternoon. Sam and I met D at The Brad while she was doing her long run. I hiked about 2 miles with Sam in the backpack, which must have aggravated it.

8/22, Monday: 9 - 1:09:38, Bowdoin Fields. Surmising that the increase in road runs was exacerbating the pain in my shin, I hoped that the relatively smooth treadway of the trails around Pickard Field would be a viable running option. Turned out to be a very good decision. Got in 9 miles at a reasonably quick pace (7:42/mile) without any shin or ankle pain. Each full lap is about 1.1 miles, and I was able to be creative with switching directions in various locations to keep from getting bored.

8/23, Tuesday: 5 - 37:58, Treamill. "GASP!" On Monday night, I drove down to New Jersey to visit my sister who is recovering from hip surgery. Trapped in the urban jungle, the treadmill in her apartment complex was the best option. I didn't want to risk my ankle on the sidewalks—to great a potential for odd changes of direction from cars and/or pedestrians. Treadmills are evil, but the run was a great way to get the previous day's 6-hour car ride out of my legs.

8/24, Wednesday: 7.5 - 1:28:50, Treadmill - Mt. Washington simulation. Since I don't normally have/want access to a treadmill, I figure I might as well up the torture quotient. Really, I knew that a strength workout would be the best thing I could do, and the treadmill was a safe place to do it without risking the ankle. I was a bit nervous how the constant incline would affect it. Admittedly, it was a touch sore by the end, but not a concern during the run. In any event, I set the incline at 11.5% and pace at 12 minutes from the start and the first hour (when the timer ran out on the treadmill...annoying) was easy. Upon the restart, I felt totally thrown off for the next couple minutes, but soon settled back into my groove. I cranked the pace up to around 11:30 for the final 2.5 miles and could really feel it by the end. Good workout. Although, I was worried my sweat might short out the gross. Clearly, running Mt. Washington on a treadmill isn't nearly as difficult as actually running the mountain, as I was well under my PR, but this reasonable facsimile was a great workout. Plus, knowing the road so well, I could really envision my location as I watched the miles tick by on the treadmill's read out. Just before 4 miles I thought, "Finally, I'm above treeline." And, really, running the road on a treadmill is akin to running the road below treeline: it all looks the same.

8/25, Thursday: 5 - 37:42, Treadmill. Easy recovery run on the treadmill, even though I pushed the pace at the end to get it over with. Legs were neither sore nor tired from the previous day. Luckily, I borrowed my sister's iPod all three days, otherwise it would have been impossible. Hopefully, on my next visit, I'll be able to get out on the roads.

8/26, Friday: 18 - 2:40:45, Bowdoin Fields, Brunswick Town Commons and Simpson's Point. I never fell good about my training unless I'm getting a long run in, and based on Monday's success and healing of the ankle, I hoped that a mish-mash route on flat, level terrain would work. Turns out, it did work. Started out with a lap around the fields, then headed out through the Commons onto the roads to the ocean at Simpson's Point. I kept the pace easy and stuck to the softer shoulders on the roads where I could. All in all, the run went well, although it's clear I haven't been running much—no spring in the legs, which is similar to how I felt during the Breaker. Set up an "aid-station" at my car, which worked well. I could feel my ankle the whole way, but it never worsened. My shin was never an issue. Not the type of miles I'd like to be doing (read: flat and easy), but better than no miles. Hopefully, I can get some real trails into my long run next week.

8/27, Saturday: 5 - 43:07, Highland Green. Easy plod around the familiar loop. Hamstrings/calves were very tight from the previous day, and I was low on energy. Neither were a surprise. Solid, smart recovery run.

Total: 49.5
Trail: 27
Road: 22

The total for this week was probably a bit more than I should have done, but I'm not known for my solid decision making. My ankle is still an issue—icing daily. I've hit a few small rocks/roots on a couple runs, and I can tell that a bad roll would do some serious damage. Trying to avoid that, while continuing to train is tricky. It will heal, but not if I roll it again. I'm very wary of it on all my runs. It sure would be nice to run some hills and real trails again.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Bradbury Mountain Breaker - Race Report

Well, lookie here! A race report!

After running 12 miles at The Brad on Monday, I decided to enter the race. Sure, I'm not in race shape—not even close—but I knew at the very least I could enjoy a 9-mile run around Bradbury Mountain. How fast would I go? I didn't really care. I really just wanted to enter a race. I haven't raced since March, and I was missing it. If I could never train and just race, I'd be happy.

Sunday morning arrived, and I managed to get out of the house without D knowing I was racing. I didn't tell her I was running simply because I knew she'd be worried about me. I figured if she didn't find out until just before the race, the better it would be for all of us. I don't think she was surprised to see me with a number on as we headed for the start line. I had arrived at the park before 7:00 to help Ian get everything set up, and, surprisingly, we were both feeling fairly relaxed thanks to a great crew of volunteers and Ian's diligence. Perhaps, we're getting this down.

At the start, my goal was to just run easy. I chatted for much of the first mile with Peter Keeney, until he pulled ahead. I finally caught up to Ian around the back of the Boundary Trail and was glad to hear that his legs were feeling good after his jaunt through the 100 Mile Wilderness. I passed both him and Alan on the climb and headed for the South Ridge Trail. My plan for the crazy descent on the South Ridge was to take it easy so as not to blow out what little strength I have in my quads early on. Ian and Alan obviously had other ideas, as they blew right by me. As we made the transition at the bottom to the uphill that leads to the aid station and the Summit Trail, I was pleased that my legs were still feeling fairly fresh.

I bypassed the aid station passing Alan and then Ian just as we started up the Summit Trail. To this point I'd be spying Jamie up ahead from time to time and said to Ian, "I'm gonna go pants, Jamie." I pulled right up on him giving his shorts a tug as I went by. Wheeee!!! Racing is fun! Well, it became less fun halfway up the Summit Trail, and I knew that my legs were really going to be suffering later in the race.

At some point on the Tote Road, I caught up to Scott Hornney and ran most of the remainder of this lap with him until he expressed his moderate dislike for technical downhills near the end of the Switchback Trail. I went by him here, and Dave Roberts did the same. Dave took a huge digger a few steps later, but was up like nothing happened. We all came through the aid station at the Start/Finish line close together, and I was surprised to see a split of approximately 36:45. That was about 45 seconds faster than last year and a bit shocking. It certainly didn't feel that fast.

Heading out on the second lap, Jamie caught back up to me. We chatted at length about our races thus far, and neither of were feeling particularly frisky. I really didn't feel like I was racing. I just found a pace/level of effort, got into it and stayed there. Neither my legs or my head were really into it. I wasn't going through the motions, but I certainly wasn't racing.

I pulled ahead of Jamie and ran mostly alone (I think) for the remainder of this lap. (Another sign my head wasn't really in it. Usually, I remember every detail of a race.) Each hill felt a little larger this time around, and I could feel a lack of power with every uphill step. By the time I reached the aid station at the base of the Summit Trail, I knew the next stretch was going to be brutal. And, it was. As I started up the Summit Trail, my legs essentially stopped moving. I ran a little bit, but I mostly walked. Five guys passed my during my stroll, including Scott, Jamie and Randy Woods. Not much I could or really wanted to do about it. The summit couldn't come soon enough.

Last year, my strategy was to hammer the Tote Road on the second lap, so I decided this time around to see what I had. To my surprise, my turnover was fairly decent, and I started moving pretty well. Randy was long gone, but I caught Scott and two of the other runners who had passed me. Jamie was also coming back to me. I got within about 5 seconds, but as we turned onto the Northern Loop Trail for the final climb to the summit, he pulled steadily away. I never packed it in, but I knew I wasn't going to catch him. I glanced at my watch as I was approaching the field and nearly laughed out loud realizing that was going to be pretty close to last year's time. I finished as strong as I could coming up just short of my PR from last year with a time of 1:16:22; 17th place.


Honestly, I have no idea how I ran that time. I was thinking 1:30 would be fine, and 1:25 would be a good result. Keep in mind, I've only been really running for 3 weeks. I guess I'm well rested. Interestingly, I wasn't really breathing that hard or struggling for much of the race. (Sure, the Summit Trail was ugly, but it's supposed to be.) I was chatting with people, smiling for the crew we had there cheering (watching Sam), thanking the aid station volunteers. I felt fine. I had my pace/level of effort, and I stayed there. My legs, on the other hand, were worthless. No fire. No pop. No nuttin'. surprise. Training matters, and I haven't been training. Stoked to come away uninjured, though. That's for sure.

Speaking of training, it was clear that since I haven't been training, I also haven't been training mentally. I haven't trained myself to really push it. I'm certain I could have run faster today, but I couldn't mentally push myself to do so. My head wasn't in the game. I didn't believe that I could run faster. I wasn't willing to take a risk. My head wasn't race ready. Now, this isn't a complaint. Just an observation, and a valuable lesson learned.

Thanks goes out to Ian for once again putting on a great race...and dropping a big PR on the day. I feel like we're in a groove with these races, and it's fun to help put them on. Big thanks to my in-laws for watching Sam, so D and I could both run. And, thanks to everyone who knew I was running for not telling D I was doing so. :) Oh, D was second overall to climb to the top of the series standings. More pumpkin bread for me!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Training 8/7 - 8/13

As I said to Mindy today, "I'm not back, but I'm mobile." Today marks the end of three weeks of actual running. Nothing earth-shattering, but I'm certainly not complaining. I did break the 30-mile barrier last week and bumped it up a bit more this week. I figured that warranted a long-lost training post, which I haven't written in three months.

Onto the numbers...

8/7, Sunday: 5 - 39:40, Highland Green. This loop is just about the flattest, easiest route I can tolerate. And, in reality, it's become a good barometer for how I'm feeling at any given point in the week. 40:00 is my benchmark. Just ducked under that mark on this day, despite my legs feeling a bit heavy.

8/8, Monday: 12 - 2:10:57, Bradbury Bruiser (w/o Island & O Trails) + Bradbury Squall. D and I were able to align our schedules to get out for a run together. Her hope was 16, but she just wasn't feeling it. My plan was 8-10 as a first long run test. The result was a great run for me, but not so much for her. I felt smooth and easy for most of the way. I could feel the miles near the end, but that was to be expected. Psychologically, it felt great to feel like a runner again: I used my handheld, popped a couple gels. Good stuff. Hopefully, this feeling will repeat itself on my next long run.

8/9, Tuesday: 5.5 - 47:51, TMR TNR @ Twin Brook. Prior to the run, I got a massage from Julia. It was great to hear that I'm not totally screwed up. More stretching, foam rolling and wrestling with a tennis ball is in the plan. Interestingly, she found a lot of tightness in my hips and glutes, and not the horrible monsters I expected in my calves and hamstrings. Anyway, it was awesome and hugely helpful. Of course, before I left, she made me promise to take it easy on the run. I dutifully obeyed and felt great during the run. Ran the whole time with Jamie, Ian and Jim and was in danger of getting a side stitch from laughing.

8/10, Wednesday: Off, planned

8/11, Thursday: 6.25 - 55:21, Mt. Ararat x12. With the feeling that I've lost all my snowshoeing strength, my hope is to hit Mt. Ararat at least once a week. It's the biggest hill near me, so multiple laps it is. I've devised three separate laps, and I actually really enjoy running them. Clearly, I have issues. While I still feel relatively weak, I actually felt much stronger on this run than a 10-lap outing last week. Like I said, not back, but mobile.

8/12, Friday: 5 - 39:00, Highland Green. I was anxious to see how my legs felt after the Mt. Ararat laps, and while my quads were a bit sore, in general, I felt fine. Easily sub-40:00. A very good sign.

8/13, Saturday, 4.5 - 58:20, 1/2 Bradbury Breaker. After marking the outer loop of the course with Jim, I met up with Mindy and Val who were running the Ultra Xtreeem Bradbury Bad Ass, aka all three courses at once, because they're bad asses. They had already run the 6-mile Scuffle and completed one lap of the Breaker, and I was happy to jump in for the second Breaker lap. Jim joined us for half the lap, and it was fun to catch up with everyone. Pace was very easy...well, not if you're running 27 miles. Great way to wrap up the week.

Miles: 38.25
Trail: 29.25
Road: 10

Knock on wood, that's a good start. The plan is to throw in a few tests and a few long runs in the coming weeks. Strength is the focus. Regardless, it feels good to be running again.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Disinterested, Baxter State Park and Percolating Mojo

With very little to no running going on, there's been very little to nothing to report on. Following my latest calf strain, I took two full weeks off. (Fifteen days actually.) No running. Just a lot of icing and self-messaging. That time off brought the total to 68 off out of the last 122 days. Not a very good percentage.

Thankfully, I was able to resume some light running on July 18, but I wasn't particularly motivated. Strange, as you wold have thought I would be chomping at the bit to get back at it. I wasn't. I was disinterested in running. This feeling had me more worried than ay of my previous injuries. But, the more I thought about it, I realized that I wasn't disinterested in running, I was disinterested in the short, boring, road loops I was somewhat forced into running. I was mentally ready to get back to the real thing but was physically stuck with the 3-mile road circuits of Patriot Commons and the Suck Loop. Blah. Juggling family and work, it can be tricky to get our runs in, and I wasn't interested in putting in the mental energy to figure out the scheduling. As such, I only managed 9 miles that first week back. The second week back was more of the same, although I did up the mileage a bit to a whopping 19.25. And, I can't say I felt particularly frisky on any of those runs.

This past weekend, we took a short vacation to Baxter State Park. The change of scenery was exactly what I needed. While I didn't get out for a super, groovy run on the AT like D, I did get in some fun runs of my own. I knew going in that I would probably run more than I should, but in such a stellar location it's hard not to. I did keep myself in check, by not tackling any major mountain runs, but it certainly was tempting. We stayed in a cabin at Kidney Pond, and after we arrived on Sunday afternoon, I ran the park (all dirt) roads from Kidney to Daicey Pond and back.

I felt surprisingly good, and subconsciously let the pace drop down. Of course, I'd told D that I was only going out for 3 miles, but I don't think she believed me anyway. The pull of running out onto the dock at Daicey Pond before turning around was too much. Monday was a similar story, but this time, I planned a trail run. I explored the Doubletop Mountain and Slaughter Pond Trails.

The first mile on the Doubletop Mountain Trail was very rugged with a tricky stream crossing at the mile mark. From there, the trail became more runnable and really fun. Despite some incorrect/potentially misleading signage on the Slaughter Pond Trail, I reached the shores of Slaughter Pond and a canoe graveyard. Near the shore of the pond, which I learned is just outside the park boundary, were at least 30 canoes strewn about the forest. Nonetheless, the view from and of the pond was beautiful. On the way back, I had to ford a stream that was only about calf deep, so I squished the rest of the way back. And, from the "HUH?!" category, I picked up a pillow with a leopard print case about a half mile from the trailhead. How did that get here? Not knowing the terrain, I told D before I left that I'd be back in under an hour. Fifty-nine minutes and change counts as under an hour. On Tuesday, I wrapped up my runs in the park with an easy four miles on the park roads. My legs were a touch tired following the previous days' efforts, but nothing surprising or worrisome.

Upon returning home, I wasn't sure what to expect on my next run. But, as it turned out, my run on Thursday was the best I've felt in quite a while as I cruised comfortably through the 5-mile Highland Green loop in 38:58. Forty minutes is a good barometer of how my legs are feeling, and this was a great sign. Last week, I felt terrible during a 41:33 tour of this loop, so this was a welcomed improvement. This evening, I did a 5-mile run over Mt. Ararat, summiting the mighty (read: not might at all) peak 10 times. Not a terrible run, but I didn't feel as spry as I would have liked. But, really, I shouldn't be complain. Plan is for another easy 5 miles tomorrow, which will get me to 30 for the week. Again, I'm easing back into things, so I'll take it. Something is bubbling just beneath the surface, so I'm feeling positive. Hopefully, it's not just gas.

My biggest concern right now (well, other than one of my calves exploding again) is my strength. With all that downtime, I feel as if I've lost all the pop in my legs. All that strength built up from snowshoe racing and training this winter is gone. I got nothing, and it's depressing. My plan is to run Mt. Ararat as much as possible to attempt to get it back. Hopefully, I don't have to wait for another snowshoe season.

On a positive note, my weight has stayed the same, which is a bit of a surprise. Well, not really. I've pretty much stop eating. My appetite is gone. That's the one thing that has remained from snowshoe season, so at least I won't have to work to get back that VO2 max advantage I gained, which means even though I feel like I'm starting from scratch, I'm starting from a better place.

Plan for MDI are still the same in that there is no plan. No other race plans, either. I have a long way to go before I set any goals. (If you believe any of those sentences, you've never met me.)