Monday, March 31, 2008

My Calf Exploded


D and I went for a run on the bike path today. Well, we attempted a run. With my take it easy plan for this week, we were only going to run 3 miles. I only made .75. My right calf was a bit tight going in, but it just blew up. Not good times. Basically, it feels like a big knot. I couldn't run any more, and I can barely walk.


At least I don't have a 10-mile trail race in 12 days. Oh, wait a minute...

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Red 3 Standing By

OK, so I was looking for something on YouTube that the proofing Nazi would find annoying. Instead, I found this, and it's just too good not to post here. Besides, it's a happy time in the Snowman Says Intergalactic Headquarters.

And in case you're wondering, yes, it is another wild Saturday night here.


It has come to my attention that this blog is not always 100% accurate with its grammar and spelling. For this egregious transgression, I apologize. I will strive to do better in the future.

To the person who pointed this out to me, who shall remain nameless, but happens to be married to me...bite me.

The 100th Post

For reading this post, you will receive a year's supply of super absorbent sponges and Rice-a-Roni, the San Fransisco treat.

So guess whose new shoes fit? This guy!
Ran four miles on the bike path today in my new Brooks Infiniti. They felt really good. The cushioning is completely different from my Asics, so they're going to take a little getting used to. But, no rubbing, no blistering, no bad stuff. Happy time.

In honor of happy time, let's watch something happy:

Friday, March 28, 2008

I'm Tired...Or...Stop Being a Dumbass

In response to how I felt yesterday during and after my run, I've been thinking a great deal about the current state of my fitness and health. Fitness up. Health up. Fatigue definitely up. It struck me while I was looking at my training log this morning. I'm going to end up running about 70 miles in March. Now, while that's not a lot of miles for most people, it's the most mileage I've done in any single month in years. Literally. So, I guess it stands to reason that I would be tired. In other words, I'm feeling more positive about the current state of things when it comes to my "training." I'm working pretty hard...for me. But the obvious key is to not overdo it. (At this point, D is shaking head saying, "I told you so, you stubborn bastard.")

So, here's the plan. I'm going to stick with my plan for this week. That means about 4 miles tomorrow to close out the week above 20. Instead of trying to ramp it up again next week, I'm going to back off. I'm going to take it real easy: 4 days, 3-mile runs. It will let me keep up my fitness, but not get burnt out.

Really, this is all an experiment for me. Sure, I'll be racing, or, more accurately, participating in events with other people in which I receive an official time. But, I'm really just trying to get into shape. I'm not going to fall behind by taking an easy week. In fact, it should help me in the long run. This whole year is really about building a base. Slowly.

I believe this is called maturity or maybe less dumb in my case.. This is exactly what I never figured out in college, and why I never improved. Not running fast? Run more. Oh, look, I'm injured. Gotta get back running as soon as possible. Vicious cycle. In order to avoid that circle of disappointment and frustration, I'm backing off. So, next week should actually be a lot of fun. Short, easy runs. Looking forward to it. After all, this is supposed to be fun.

OK, Enough

Um, yeah, it can stop snowing now. It's been fun, but I'm done.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Great Gulf Trail...OR...Just Not Feeling It

On a scale of 1 to 10, today's run sucked.

Yesterday I must have eaten an angry dwarf because he was trying to get out of my large intestine all morning. Things were just a rumblin'. Not good times. And, I didn't sleep all that well last night. I was just not in the mood for a run. Plus, I was tight from yesterday's skate ski. All signs pointed to taking the day off.

I didn't. So the positive is that I actually pushed myself out the door. The problem is that the running options in Pinkham Notch are really limited right now. I took a chance that the Great Gulf Trail would be packed, and for the most part it was. But it was wicked soft. Really, really slow going. That happens to snow when it's 40° out. So, yeah, not the best choice. It was also sporadically postholey, which didn't help either. I struggled to boundary of the Great Gulf Wilderness at 1.6 miles and turned back. Well, to be truthful, I took about five steps past the sign, realized that things weren't going to get any better, and turned around. About two minutes later, I postholed and was on my face. Not good times. My YakTrax were also not up for the run as for some reason I couldn't get them to stay in place. This was another minor annoyance. Tired, gassy, slipping, falling, hungry...just all out of whack.

I made it back to the car and decided to run 2 more miles. The "schedule" called for 5 today, and I'm an idiot, so I headed out along Route 16. Running on Route 16 blows. The shoulder is wide, but that's the only positive. It was painful. Boring, yuk. I was able to move along at a more normal pace was I still wasn't feeling that great. In fact, I was starting to get a pain in my lower leg, just above my right ankle. Has the makings of an early shin splint. CRAP! I turned around at what I thought was about a mile—the return mile was of course both uphill and into the wind. By the time I finished, I was pretty defeated. What a sucky run. I called D and whined and moaned—much like I'm doing here. It was twice as fun for her to listen to as it is for you to read; trust me.

As the evening has gone on, I'm less concerned about how I felt because that just happens. The leg is a little worrisome, but I'll be sure to stretch it out good tomorrow, as I've already done tonight. I'm also going to move into my new shoes, which I hope will make a difference. I need to do a good inspection of my current shoes, but perhaps they are dead. I hope so. I'm really not to high on the idea of being injured. I've had a lot of practice, and it's not fun. Tomorrow is an off day, easy run on Saturday, probably ski easy on Sunday, and then we'll reassess the plan of 12 on Monday. Maybe I'll just sit inside and eat all day.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A National Champ for Bowdoin

From the boasting about your alma mater portion of the program, comes this shout out to Walt Shepard, Bowdoin class of 2010 (gulp), for his three victories at the North American/U.S. Biathlon Championships. Walt won the 10k sprint, the 12.5k pursuit race and the 15k mass start. Because of his strong performance he was invited to race with the U.S. National Team at the Canadian Biathlon Championships, which are being held on the 2010 Olympic courses, this week. Congrats, Walt. Of course, shout out to the head Bowdoin Nordic coach who whipped Walt into shape this season...even though he's too much of a sissy to run 12 miles with D and I next week. (I mean Nate, not Walt...Walt knows how to use a rifle.)

In a related story, I skated about 8k today and nearly died.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

My Feet Suck

In the continuing saga that is my search for trail shoes, a new direction has been taken. I ran in my new Asics GT-2130 Trails last week. The results were not so great. As usual, I could feel my heels moving around and the start of a blister after only 4 miles. Basically, the same situation I was in with the Inov-8s. It wasn't nearly as bad as the Inov-8s, so I thought a new lacing system might do the trick, since they are so similar to my current shoes. Well, about 30 seconds in our run today, I realized they weren't going to work. After a minor hissy fit, we went home, and I switched to my old shoes. This, of course, led us back to Maine Running Company this afternoon.

The mission: Try on every shoe until I find one that fits.

You know it's a bad when you've never actually bought a pair of shoes (that you've kept) from a running shoe store, and they recognize you. So I told them my recent plight, and the quest was on for a stability shoe with a good heel cup/tight fitting heel. I tried on 6 different shoes and ran down the street in each of them. Included in this batch was the updated version of my current shoes, the Asics Kayano. Here's my question: What do shoe companies change their shoes? The new Kayanos fit completely differently. In other words, they don't fit me at all. So, thanks Asics. And, I won't be buying your shoes this time around. Same goes for you, Nike and Mizuno. Here's what I did buy: the Brooks Infiniti. They're heinous. They have this weird plastic support thing on the bottom and something else called Mogo. Whatever. They fit. Or at least I hope so. I think I'll be testing them out on Saturday. They're not a trail shoe, but I've been running trails in my road shoes, so I'm going to stick with that plan. Again, it's all about fit right now. Since so few things few me, who cares? If I have to go back to Maine Running Company again, I'll probably take up cycling.

With that in mind, huge thanks to Maine Running Company. They have been awesome. Everyone there is super nice, and the top shoe fitting guru, Maggie, claims that they're not laughing at me. I doubt that, but at least they've been helping out my feet, and that's really what I need right now. So, if you find yourself anywhere near Portland and in the need of anything running related, go there. They're great.

Oh yeah, D and I got in a run today. Easy tour on the Middle Bay Loop. Windy, but nice and easy.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Flashback Run at Bradley Palmer State Park

On Saturday night, D and I headed to my parent's house to "celebrate" Easter on Sunday. We didn't really celebrate, but my grandparents and uncle came over for brunch. I made omelets, and they were fabulous. No really, I'm the man when it comes to omelets. My dad made pancakes. They were really good, too. Eventually, the morning rolled along into the afternoon. We ate pie...chocolate banana cream pie, to be exact. So as you can see, our training regimen is all about nutrition.

Finally, at around 3:30 in the afternoon, we motivated to go for a run. They don't live far from Bradley Palmer State Park, and we had printed out the trail map for just such an occasion. The cool part about this for me was that in high school my home cross country course was at Bradley Palmer. I hadn't run there since high school, so I was pretty excited.

On the way to the park, we passed by a sign for Mass. Audubon Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary, which is where I used to cross country ski with my family as a little kid. I also attended a number of summer camps there. That would be nerdy, science, ecology, outdoor camps. The funny part about that place is that D and her family used to go there when she was young because she lived right around the corner. So, yup, a couple seconds after we saw the sign for the Wildlife Sanctuary she said, "Hey, there's Willowdale!" She lived there until she was 9.

So with all this good karma, we headed out on our run. About 30 seconds into the run we came to a puddle. It was deep. About 33 seconds into the run our feet were wet. Of course, we were pretty psyched to be on actual trails...not trails covered with snow. We were on an actual trail run. Overall, we probably had about 65% dry ground, 25% mud, 5% water and 5% snow. It was great. We also incorporated my old cross country course into the run, which was a lot of fun for me. While I didn't quite remember all of it, we had the map, which was enough to jog my memory.

We twisted and turned and managed about 8 miles. We finished caked in mud. Good stuff. And good flashbacks.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Bradbury Slop...or Not Slop

Today I was able to wrangle a run at Bradbury. It was late in the day, and the conditions were really variable. Anywhere the sun was hitting the trails, things were really, really soft. Anything in the shade was rock solid. The soft parts were really slow. The firm sections I could move right along.

I was looking for about 5 miles today, but I wasn't really sure about the trail distances. I don't quite have Bradbury dialed for that yet. I headed out the Northern Loop Trail to the Boundary Trail to the Summit. I stopped briefly to take in the view and say "hello" to the hawk counter dude. Then I headed down the Tote Road, which was really firm and sweet for running, back to the Northern Loop Trail to the parking lot. I thought about heading across the street onto the Snowmobile Trail, but I knew that they would have seen a lot of sun. I didn't really feel like slogging along in the soft snow for an out and back. So, since I'm an idiot, I thought it would be a good idea to go up the Summit Trail. At the summit, I took a left onto the Boundary Trail and followed in the opposite direction from earlier then back to the Northern Loop Trail and done. Based on the trail map, I ran 5.8 miles in 1:01:44. Based on the conditions, I think that's a pretty solid pace. Either way, it was a beautiful afternoon, so I'm psyched I got out. Plus, that put me over 20 miles this week, which is sadly momentous.

Totally unrelated, but earlier, I was driving my hybrid, wearing an LL Bean plaid shirt and tan corduroys...while listening to Ice Cube. That's awesome.

It's Official: I'm an Idiot

On June 21, I'll be running this.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Still Winter - The Musical!

Here's a little somethin', somethin' I put together for work.

Winter is still in full effect in the mountains. Part of me is ready for spring and running on non-snow covered trails. But, I'll also take the skiing for as long as I can get it.

Of course, I'm done with waxing my skis. I can't seem to put the energy in that, which is really bad. Maybe tonight. My bases are looking thirsty.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

New Race on the Schedule

D and I have been trying to figure out how to add another race to our schedule this spring. We really want to get another race in before the Pineland Farms 25k. Scheduling is a pain in the ass. But, we've figured it out. So...
The Merrimack River Trail Run is on the schedule.
From what little information we can find about it, we think it will be a fun and challenging 10 miler. Of course, anything in April is really going to be based on the weather. We'll see.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

5-Mile Recovery Run

It's really nice to be able to say that. Five miles is now a recovery run. That's good stuff. Not that long ago 5 miles was my long run.

D and I hit the bike path today for a run that was completely opposite of yesterday's. It was flat and easy, and we just cruised along. With the temperature hovering around 45, spring fever has hit. This was the busiest I think I've ever seen the bike path. It was good to see so many people out, but really odd to have to weave in and out of everyone as we moved along.

Earlier in the day, we headed to Maine Running Company. I decided to return my Inov-8s. I tried a couple different lacing patterns and tried adding some padding. None of it really worked. I could just tell that they weren't going to work. I'm kind of bummed because I was hopeful that I had found a good trail shoe. However, all is not lost as I picked up a pair of Asics GT-2130 Trails. The fit is very similar to the Asics Kayanos I've been using, so I think they'll work out well. They're not a pure trail shoe like the Inov-8s; they're more of a modified road shoe, the GT-2130s to be exact, but ultimately, it's the fit that matters. I ran in them today, and the fit was good. They're really stiff and my feet were actually cramping for the first mile or so. I think they'll take some getting used to, but I'm confident I've made a good choice. Plus, they have more of the support that I'm used to, which is probably a good thing for my fragile parts.

So, that's 15 miles in two days. The goal for the this week is 20 miles. I'd say that's a good start.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Bloody Bradbury

Once again listening to the "schedule" led me to a 10-mile run today. D wasn't so thrilled with the idea. She was even less thrilled with the idea of doing that run at Bradbury. With the slightly warmer temps and sun higher in the sky, the snow has been softening up. I didn't think it would be that bad, so I convinced her to give it a go.

Instead of just heading out and back on the Snowmobile Trail like we did last week, we decided to run a loop on the west side of the park. D had the idea to try the 4.5 mile loop that Ian is planning to use for a new trail race this summer. It will make for a tough race, since today we only managed 12-minute miles through this part of the run. The conditions were tough, though. Any where the sun was hitting the trails things were getting soft. We had our YakTrax on, which helped a lot, but the soft parts were like running in sand. Other places, the trail was straight up ice. Plus, this loop had us going up the steep trail to the summit. It's short, but especially tough in today's conditions. The Terrace Trail hadn't seen much traffic and involved more postholing than we woudl have liked. Good loop, though, and a good first half of the run.

Next we headed across the street to go out and back on the Snowmobile Trail. As we headed up the gradual hill that makes up the bulk of the first part of this trail, D announced that she planned to do her next long run on the roads. "I've had enough of this." She was moderately grumbling for the first part of the run as she struggled with the footing. At one point, she even said she wanted to finish this run on the roads. In other words, she had completely mentally checked out. Conditions were tough, and I wasn't thrilled for the whole run. But I think based on my last run, I had a huge mental advantage. I took the lead from this point on, and few words were spoken for the next 45 minutes or so. The worst part was that the Snowmobile Trail was really soft in places. The sun was doing a job on the condition of the snowpack. It was really tough going in places. But, in other places, it was still firm, and easy to move right along. In my mind I was pretty psyched actually because I knew that these runs are going to be a huge help down the road. If we can run in this stuff, we won't find many harder conditions. Between me feeling good and D being grouchy, I picked it up a bit...well, since she wasn't a lot of fun to hang out with about now. Kinda jerky, yeah, but I didn't want ole grouchy pants to bring down my run. Then again, 9-minute miles isn't exactly flying. I waited for her in a few spots—each time she grumbled that I should keep going. Each time I did because I didn't want her to catch me and beat the crap out of me.

Anyway, we ended up on the trails for 1:48:01 and are still married. Ultimately, I think this is going to be a run we look back on and realize it was good for us to tough it out.

The worst part of the entire run was the final result and the blood stain on my shirt. I ended up with two bloody nipples. It was warmish, we were working pretty hard, I got really sweaty and the rest is history. Not good times. I also ended up with a bloody toe. By the end of the Mid-Winter 10-Mile Classic, the middle toe nail on my right foot was completely black. It stayed that way until this run. When I got home the black had mysteriously disappeared. Since that time the nail has started to fall off. Today it must have been sitting in a weird position as the dead nail cut into the toe next to it. The nail is still pretty solidly attached at the base, so I don't want to just rip it off. Also, not good times.

Bloody nipples, bloody toes and nearly a blood bath. Ah, running is fun.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Tuckerman Ravine Trail

The "schedule" called for a run today in the 5 mile range. I'm at work for a few days, and my options are limited. Sure, the skiing's great right now, but it certainly limits the trail running options. And there was no way I was going to run up and down Route 16. That would have been a whole new level of misery.

I'd spent the last couple days trying to come up with a solid plan to no avail. Finally, this afternoon, I decided that I would check out Dolly Copp Road. I figured that it would have seen a lot of snowmobile traffic. At around 4:00, I drove the couple miles up Route 16 and parked near the Hayes-Copp Ski Trail giving me a two-minute run to the unplowed portion of Dolly Copp. Well, Dolly Copp had seen snowmobile traffic, but only one snowmobile. I made it about 2 minutes up the road constantly postholing and at one point I went in almost to my knee. Enough of that. I turned around and went back to the car. Plan B it is!

Ideally, I would have gone a short way back south to the Great Gulf Trail, which is great for running, but after my Dolly Copp experience I wanted to go somewhere I was certain would be packed out. 50/50 shot at the Great Gulf Trail, and I couldn't take another strike. So, I drove to the AMC Pinkham Notch Visitor Center to head up the Tuckerman Ravine Trail.

I know this trail pretty well having skied Tuckerman Ravine many times when I was younger and more foolish. (I once skied this. What the hell was I thinking?) My plan was to run the 2.4 miles to Hermit Lake Shelters, aka HoJos, and back down. Here's the catch the trail rises about 1900 feet in those 2.4 miles. So, yeah, I'm an idiot. The good news was that the trail sees a ton of traffic and was really well packed. I wore my YakTrax, and they were perfect. I also noticed some interesting tracks in the trail. They looked just the soles of the Inov-8 Mudclaw 340's. (Yes, I'm a total shoe geek.) Who could that be?

Anyway, running that much uphill is hard. Really hard. Actually, it reminded me a lot of cross country skiing because it hit a level of pain within the first half mile or so, but never got any worse. It just hurt. I took it pretty easy as not to die on the side of Mt. Washington. I was forced to stop (twist my arm) at one point because the snowcat was coming down the trail. Tucks is such a popular destination, the snow rangers have a snowcat for supplies, etc. In summer the trail feels like it's 8 miles wide, but in winter it is exactly one snowcat wide. So, I graciously moved to the side. And by the side, I mean the unpacked snow off the trail. I sunk in to mid-thigh. Just what I was hoping for. The snowcat churned up the snow making the sides of the trail much softer, but in most places I was able to stick to the hardpack in the middle. The corners were toughest because things were just more uneven. At one point it felt like my feet were falling asleep. I guess I was up on my toes so much that everything was getting a good stretch. It was a strange feeling.

I'm happy to report that I ran the whole way. No walking. Although the pace I was going could hardly be considered running. I reached HoJo's in about 37:30. This was the reward:

(OK, that's not actually what it looked like today as I didn't have a camera. It's a blatantly stolen pic from somewhere. But you get the point.)

There were about a dozen folks hanging out on the deck at HoJos eating dinner and whatnot. Couple comments. Couple questions. Then one woman said, "Well, you're better dressed than the last guy. He was wearing shorts. He said it took him 27 minutes."
"Um, was he skinny, glasses, soul patch type facial hair thing"
So I expected to arrive at HoJos as the toughest guy they'd seen all day. Instead, I decided to do this run on the same day and only about an hour after this guy. If he wasn't such a nice guy, I'd be pissed. Kevin's been in the top five of the Mt. Washington Road Race, so I guess I can take getting smoked by 10 minutes. Plus, he was rocking those snazzy Inov-8's. I wonder how he got those? Needless to say, I didn't hang around too long at HoJos. My "fans" seemed more concerned than impressed. I downed some Hammer Gel and headed back down the trail. Plus, I had worked up a good sweat on the way up. It was warm today, and with just a light top and a shell, I was overdressed.

The run down was great. In fact, as tired I felt on the way up, I felt pretty fresh on the way down. I figure that's a good sign. I ran in the snowcat tracks practically the whole way. They were soft and made for a nice landing. The YakTrax gave me the grip I needed, so it was nice. It took me about 21 minutes to get to the bottom for total of 58:25.

It wasn't the most fun I've ever had on a run, but it was definitely a good workout to say the least. I'm sure I'll hit it a couple more times as the season goes on.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

How Many Passes?

On Mt. Washington

So I did nothing relevant to this blog today. Nothing. No fitness. I did, however, have a photo shoot for work, which put me at 4,000 feet on the side of Mt. Washington. It was an amazing day, and I'm stunned that I was able to pull it all together and have such perfect weather. Yup, I'm the man.

Here are the early returns:

All photos by my buddy and go to photo guy, Greg. (He's too busy taking photos and working for the man to update his site.) If you need pics of anything, he's the man.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Skiing in the Hinterlands

I'm beginning a ridiculous stretch of work. I won't go into the details, but it's chock full of scheduling insanity—even for me.

It all began this morning, when I hit the road at 7:00am and headed for the Balsams. Don't get me wrong, any time spent at the Balsams is a good thing, but even this trip is crammed. I needed to get moving early if I wanted to get any skiing in, which obviously I did. I need to bust out early tomorrow morning in order to get back to Great Glen for a photo shoot. I'm going to miss the sweet Balsams AYCE breakfast. I'm not happy about this.

After braving the giant frost heaves of the Route 26, I made it to the Balsams. At one point in my drive, all radio ceased, save two stations—both French. I listened to one for about 15 seconds when the DJ said, "vous blah vous blah Patrick Swayze avec She's Like the Wind." Oh yeah.

Unfortunately, that was stuck in my head for my entire ski, but I soldiered on.

If you talk to anyone who has skied at the Balsams, they will pretty much all tell you the same story: "It's such a great system, I just wished they groomed it better." Today was no different. The grooming was random and sporadic. The good news was that pretty much everything looked like it had been groomed within 3 days or so. That being, said the skiing was still pretty good. But skiing is clearly an afterthought here, which is too bad because the trail system is fantastic. One of my favorites.

Luckily, I was able to check in when I arrived at 9:45. I changed and headed right out. To access the trails I wanted to ski, I had to walk across the parking lot and up the always icy and treacherous hill that leads pass the ice rink. (Again, skiing is an afterthought.) I negotiated the hill and arrived at the trails only to find that the bumper on my right binding was missing.

Needless to say, you can't really ski without a bumper. (The bumpers are the black pieces. They're soft rubber and act like, well, bumpers.) So, I left my skis and poles on the trail and retraced my steps back to the car—down the icy slope of doom. Luckily, I found the bumper in my ski bag after minimal searching. As I made my way back up the aforementioned slope of death, I saw the groomer coming back from grooming the trail I was about to ski. "Sweet! Freshly groomed!"... ... ... "Shit! My skis are lying across the trail!" Now I had to sprint up the ice floe of certain death to save my skis and poles. I reached the trail a couple seconds before the sporadic groomer rolled past, and I honestly don't know if the operator would have noticed them lying there helplessly. Disaster averted, I reattached my bumper and headed off.

The rest of the ski was very uneventful. Awesome, but uneventful. I didn't see a single person and everywhere I went for the first hour or so, I was the only one to have skied there today. It made the skiing slow, since there was powder in the tracks that hadn't just been groomed, which was the vast majority of them. In fact, the only freshly groomed trails I hit were the first trail I skied out into the system that I'd just seen the groomer finish and another short trail that brought me back to the hotel. So, it was slow going, but the conditions were pretty good. I ended up skiing about 17k in about 1:20. All the trails at the Balsams have numbers, and the last leg of my journey was on trail "0". Thankfully, Patrick Swayze was replaced by the Smashing Pumpkins.

Too bad it was only for the final 10 minutes of my ski. (Yeah, no idea what's going on in the video.) I was even able to shower, eat a tasty bacon & bleu cheeseburger and get to my meeting on time.

So far, it's been a solid week. I'm actually starting to feel moderately fit. Scary. Today was a great example. I had a lot of climbing at the beginning of my ski, but I could feel myself getting stronger and feeling better as the ski went on. Good stuff.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Test Run

Today, I tried out my new Inov-8 Roclite 315's. I was waiting until I had a short, easy run planned to test them out, and today was the day. D and I headed to the bike path for 4 easy miles. (They're a trail shoe, but there was now way I was going to wait until the spring to test these babies out!) My body felt great after yesterday's long run, which was very encouraging.

As for the Inov-8's, well, the jury is still out. The shoes themselves are awesome. They'll be great shoes for the trails: stiff, firm soles, but they're really light. Plenty of support in a lightweight package. They just feel like good solid shoes. Good stuff. However, my heels were rubbing a bit by the end. I hate my feet. My feet are really hard to fit: narrow, low volume, thin heels, but normal length. *grumble* But, I think I have a solution. I'm going to experiment with some padding to lock my heel down. I'm going to try to mimic the heel of my Asics Kayanos, which fit great. We'll see. I really hope it works because a shoe that's only good for about 3 miles is pretty worthless.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Bradbury Out and Back: The Aftermath

Yeah, that's beer and donuts. What's your point?

Bradbury Out and Back

The "schedule" called for a long run today. I really didn't want to run 8 or so on the roads, so I convinced D that the conditions at Bradbury would be good for running. I figured that with the recent rain and the cold temps, the trails would be firm. I lucked out because the trails were in great shape for running...well, most of them anyway.

After an expertly prepared breakfast by me, we headed for Bradbury and put on our YakTrax in the parking lot. We thought an out and back on the Snowmobile Trail would be the best choice. We figured that the snowmobilers would have been out, and the trail would be evenly packed. Our guess was that the hiking trails would have an uneven mix of snowshoe tracks and footprints making a lumpy, uneven and potentially ankle twisting surface. Once again, we were right as we headed out on the Link Trail that, surprisingly, links the parking lot to the Snowmobile Trail. The Link guessed it...lumpy, uneven and potentially ankle twisting. All the traffic from warmer days was still evident and frozen...basically fossilized. It was a bit tricky.

After a couple minutes on the Link Trail we passed the Lanzo Trail which is a really great single track trail. We had no plans of running it, since it would no doubt be a festival of shin banging postholing. But I took a good look at it, then a couple steps down it. The trail had seen a fair amount of snowshoe traffic, and there was a well-defined, well-packed trail. And, it was frozen solid. WOOHOO! With me in the lead, we cruised along the twisty, turny trail with only a couple minor postholes—none deeper than just an inch or so. It was a lot of fun. Then we hit intersection 83.

Just past intersection 83 something happened. The trail looked basically the same, but it was dramatically different. It was a festival of shin banging postholing. I have a legitimate cut and bruise on my left shin. In a couple places I sank in past my knee. So, after a minute and a half of crashing through the thick crust and picking ourselves up, we turned around. A rare wise decision by us. Defeated, we arrived back at intersection 83, regained our composure and returned to the Link Trail via the evil temptress that is the Lanzo Trail.

Back on the Link Trail we stumbled and bumbled until we hit the Snowmobile Trail, which was perfect for running. Unfortunately, I was not feeling perfect. I was dragging as we headed up the hill that begins the Snowmobile Trail. I didn't really get my first wind until about 40 minutes into the run. Maybe it was the Clif Shot Bloks... Maybe it was the Raspberry Hammer Gel... Maybe it was just a coincidence, and I need time to warm up... I'm going with the coincidence theory, but I felt really good on the way back. I was even thinking about adding another small loop, but I thought D might kill me for suggesting it.

Anyway, it was a great run, and it was fun to explore another section of trail. The Snowmobile Trail actually takes you out of the park, and I think we were actually out of the park longer than we were in it. It's pretty rolly, too, which made it fun. At out point, the trail had a stream running under it, and it won't be long before the trail is the stream. The ice and snow at that point will quickly become mush. I can't wait to run through it when it hits that phase.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Races are Cool

The atmosphere around races is really cool. And there's something to be said for being at a race, but not actually having to race in it. Such was the case today for Ski to the Clouds. That being said, a whole host of us worked our butts off to make this race happen. There are a lot more details, but let's just say I'm pretty impressed with my coworkers. As for me, I get to do the fun stuff:

I would also like to add that daylight savings time kicks ass.

Friday, March 7, 2008

February Recap

Recently I've received a number of emails (read, none) asking me why I've yet to post a February recap. It's become a very popular feature here at Snowman Says (read, no one cares). I've been a bit busy, so I haven't had the chance (read, lazy). For that, I apologize (read, whatever). So without further ado...

February was solid month, albeit a diverse one. The month started with the Maine Track Club Mid-Winter 10-Mile Classic, and it felt as long as its title. It was a good first race of the year, and I'm pleased with the result. I'm more pleased that I can actually run that far. I spent the next two weeks just taking it easy. In the final week, I started the plan to pump up the mileage to something that resembles mileage of someone who actually considers himself a runner. I'm not there yet, but trying. So from racing to barely doing anything to ramping it up, February pretty much had it all. It also had lots of great skiing and the heart of the Nordic Meister season. I think I got in more quality skiing this month than perhaps ever. Good stuff.

Here are the numbers:
Miles: 47
Ski Days: 10
Hours: 18

March has started out strong, and I'm planning to just slowly build the mileage over the next couple weeks. Hopefully, all the body parts stay together.

Here's an impressive performance from the Big Ten track championships (watch the second race):

And with that inclusion, I'm officially a runner geek. (Well, again, anyway) Thanks to Blaine for digging that up.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Lost in the Slurpee

I was in search of 6 miles today, but I wanted to stay off the roads. The snowbanks are pretty huge right now, and many of the shoulders are non-existent. Additionally, it's been warmish (above freezing) the last couple days, and that's when the roads take a beating. The water gets in them, and huge pot holes open up. So I headed for the Town Commons. I figured it would be somewhat soft since it was about 38 when I left the house, but I wasn't too worried. My plan was to run the same loop that D and I hit the other day.

As I started out from the parking lot, I realized that is was going to be tough going. There was about a 2 inch layer of mush on top of a hard frozen surface. It had the exact consistency of a slurpee. I was really happy to be wearing my YakTraks. My traction was good, but with every step I was pushing a fair amount of energy right into the snow. Tough going. There is also a small stream you must cross at one point. I jumped over it and onto what looked like solid ground. Well, it was soft ice. I fell through, soaking my right foot and falling onto the other side of the bank. I'd only been out 9 minutes. UGH

I headed out in the section of trail that has long been my nemesis. Not because it's difficult, but because when I'm by myself I always get lost. I have a very good sense of direction, but for some reason the sides trails in the Commons baffle me. There are a couple turns that just don't make sense. Anyway, I hit the first two turns correctly, but our loop is a longer loop and definitely off the beaten path. In fact, only one set of footprints was to be found in this section. I was postholing to at least my ankle for most of this section. I came to the third intersection and couldn't remember which way to go. I headed right, which was wrong. I realized this after about 2 minutes when a house appeared that I didn't recognize. I turned around and postholed back. As I was pulling myself out of one hole a vicious, angry branch struck me in the head. (OK, really I just didn't see it, but I'm going for the dramatic.) So, there I was beaten down by seemingly endless postholing and dazed from running into a tree. I made it back to the third intersection and headed straight (or left if coming from my original direction). I knew this was not the correct way to go, but it was the best packed of the trail choices and I vaguely remembered that it was the most direct route back to the main trail. (As it turns out, I should have gone straight at intersection 3, but at this point I just wanted a firmer surface.) Now, this section of trail was better packed, but still slurpee-like. Thankfully, it did lead back to the main trail, and I was able to finish the rest of the loop as planned. Actually, this loop is really made up of two loops. The big loop is the one I got lost on, and the smaller loop is run twice—once in each direction. Anyway, this meant that I had a couple opportunities to bail when I passed the car or a shortcut to it. I stuck it out and ran the whole loop, so I'm happy about that, but it was a tough run. I ended up with 54:39, which I'm officially calling 5.5 miles.

I would like to dedicate this run to the woman who watched her dog poop smack in the middle of the trail and not pick it up. I almost punched her. Do dog owners not realize that the rest of the world does not find their pooch's feces attractive? It's not a gift. It's foul. And this goes for all the other Commons dog walkers who left other steamers along the way. And, yes, I'm going to bitch about this every time I run in the Commons.

After I finished, I was stretching in the parking lot, when a moderately sketchy looking dude pulled into the lot. But, he couldn't have been all that sketchy, since blaring from his car was this:

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Exhausted? Feel Like Crap? Go for a Run!

Of late, work has been kicking me squarely in the nuts. It's been ridiculous. Granted, I'm not a rocket surgeon, but the stress level is high. I have way too much on my plate. As a result, I found myself awake at 1:15am last night in a cold sweat thinking about work. Two hours later I was still awake. By morning my gastro-intestinal state was not pretty. I have a history of gut issues, and it's not good times. I feel like I swallowed the Hindenburg. Needless to say I wasn't feeling particularly frisky today. In fact, I felt like crap. On top of that, the weather was complete ass. Rain, freezing rain, sleet and 33°. It doesn't get any nastier. Incidentally, I moped all day. However, somewhere in the back of my mind, this little voice kept telling me that I was going to run 4 miles today. After all, the schedule called for 4 miles. But between the way I was feeling and the weather, I was not listening to the little voice. Until 4:15. "F@?$# It!!! I'm going for a run!" I have no idea what happened. I went upstairs. I changed. I stretched. I scraped off the car. I drove to the bike path. I ran 4 miles. For those 34 minutes and 27 seconds, I didn't think about work. It was nice. Luckily, by the time I was running it had stopped precipitating, so it wasn't completely nasty. It was still cold, raw and damp, but I really didn't care.

In completely unrelated news, apparently Patrick Swayze has 5 weeks to live. Well, this is what was reported by the National Inquirer. That's terrible...for anyone. I hope it's not true. Either way, it reminded me that Roadhouse is one of the greatest movies of all time.

And remember, kids, don't eat the big white mint.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Nordic Meisters, Week #8 - The Finale

Holy crap. Last night it rained and turned the snow into a sucking vortex of sucking suction. It was really bizarre. The snow was really, really, really slow. It was literally sucking your skis down into the snow. No glide at all. On top of that, the klister that should have been working was worthless. No kick. None. It was some of the strangest snow conditions I've ever seen. So after spending the previous evening meticulously waxing my skis, doing a phenomenal job applying my klister—World Cup quality, testing my skis and warming up, I realized that they were worthless. I grabbed my waxless skis and took my run. And, run was the operative word. In all honesty, I think I could have run the course faster. But I was forced to run with skis. Needless to say, the kick was ridiculous, I ran right up everything. Unfortunately, I had to double pole down the hills. Well, not all of them. Anyway, it was a wacky day. By the time the late comers hit the course in the afternoon, things had firmed up and gotten considerably faster. That's why I got crushed by a 12 year-old. No really, it was a lot faster.

So that's the end of Nordic Meisters for 2008. I think I'm going to end up with my highest finish ever. Not that that's saying a lot, but it's been a good season. No more ski racing for this season. Well, because ski racing is dumb. Running just hurts. Skiing hurts and it's dumb.

Monday, March 3, 2008

End of the Season?

D and I skied today at Great Glen. You can read D's account here. I don' have much to add, but it was a beautiful day and despite someone's grumpiness, we had a great ski. (It was odd, usually I'm the grumpy one.)

Mad props to my boy, Nate Dawg, on his successful first season at the helm of the Bowdoin Nordic Ski Program. Great results for a rookie coach with a young, up and coming team. But the season is over? Really? There's still 18 feet of snow on the ground. Things wrap up too quickly. Well, maybe coach will have a chance to actually ski now. Maybe...

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Somewhere Between Wimping Out and Coming To Our Senses

Our original plan for today was run the Trail Monster Running Fat Ass 50k. Or at least part of it. The 50k was three loops, and we had planned on running one, 10.5 miles, which would be a long run for us mere mortals.

Well, it snowed about 6 inches of heavy wet slop on Saturday, and despite planning to go we when hit the sack on Saturday night. We came to our senses/wimped out when we got up this morning at 5:30a.m. The course was mostly on snowmobile trails, which may or may not have been packed out. Even if they had seen some snowmobile traffic, they would be really soft. D put it best: We didn't need a long run at this point in our training. Based on the suspected conditions, I suspect we would have been running for 2 hours. Probably would have done more harm than good. That being said, I'm a little bummed to have missed out on the Fat Ass race experience. In the words of John Bender, "That's kind of social. Demented and sad, but social." Fat ass races are non-races in that there's no entry fee, no t-shirts, no prizes, no nothing. Just a bunch of running geeks getting together to torture themselves for fun. It's the potluck of running. Everyone brings something for the "aid stations" and goes for a run. It would have been cool to meet some like-minded yahoos. Like I said, demented and sad, but social. Maybe next time.

In lieu of that experience, we slept late (really late) and I made a delicious vat of scrambled eggs, mushrooms, peppers, sausage and 12 pounds of cheese. That was fuel for our run in the Brunswick Town Commons. We ran the same loop we ran a couple weeks ago, plus another loop twice, and it affirmed our decision to skip the 10.5 mile loop. Even though the Commons had seen a fair amount of traffic, the packed trails were soft and the untracked trails were downright tough—lots of sinking in and postholing. That being said, it was a great run—a great 6-mile run, that was right up our alley.