Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Hilly Trails and Race Schedule

Ran 5.4 miles @ 8:30/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 149/165
Extremely hilly.
Lower 80s, humid.

We had a good-sized group today for our weekly run, with nine of us in all. I haven't run anything hilly since the 100-miler, so thought today would be good to gauge how recovery is going. Quads and hamstrings felt great. Stephen, who also ran the 100, also reported feeling very strong. It's amazing how quick the body can recover. Having said that, I also realize I'm not fully there yet, and will continue to take it easy for the next week and a half as planned.

Been doing some thinking for the race schedule... Stephen, James and I will all be throwing our hats in the ring for the Western States 100 next year. We're also looking at the Massanutten 100 down in Virginia as a backup (or possible addition, since they're a month apart). And the Vermont 100 was simply too much fun, so that's definitely on the agenda as well.

Those are all in the spring and summer, and for the fall and winter, I'm looking at running the MDI Marathon again this year, followed by the Stonecat 50. Possibly will do the Hyannis Marathon as well. I'd love to qualify for Boston with one of those marathons, but in all honesty, I'm not that gung-ho on qualifying for it as I was last year. I'd still love to do it, but my running enthusiasm is more directed at ultras for now. That could change, but I'll just go with the flow and let the chips fall where they may. It's all about having fun, and I'm really enjoying the path I've set to take for now.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Repeat of Yesterday

Ran 4.6 miles @ 7:46/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - N/A (decided to wear stopwatch)
Paved roads.
Mostly flat.
Lower 80s, muggy, partly cloudy.

I ran the same tadpole-shaped loop as yesterday, but put the foot on the gas a little bit more today. Nothing drastic by any means, but I felt like I was going a full minute per mile faster than the actual pace. Very hot today, but at least the clouds provided some relief and there is a lot of shade along this route.

Taking tomorrow off, then trail running with the gang on Tuesday.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Up and Running

Ran 4.6 miles @ 8:03/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 150/163
Paved roads.
Mostly flat.
Mid 70s, humid.

My first post-Vermont 100 run was a good one. Just an easy jaunt on the roads at an easy pace. Felt great to be out there again and my legs have recovered quickly. I'd say they even recovered faster than the 50-miler I did last September.

The past week has been a whirlwind of events, notably a nasty stomach virus I contracted along with at least 10 other runners after the race. It lasted until around Tuesday, and thankfully I was well enough to give a presentation for grad school. Then I had a literacy conference to attend for work and got back yesterday. Good time to have a recovery week.

Next two weeks will all be easy runs, and I'll play the length by ear but the pace will always be relatively slow. Then it's time to regroup and start focusing on the MDI Marathon for mid-October. After that, more ultras. Woohoo!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Vermont 100 Race Report

Distance: 100 miles
Official time: 22:09:55
Place: 37th out of 143 finishers

Results page

Things couldn't have gone any better. I had totally written off this race when I had knee surgery three months ago to repair a torn meniscus, but decided in late May that I'd take a chance and kick my training into overdrive and give it a shot. Fortunately, everything fell into place and I'm grateful I had the chance to run this race and exceed my own expectations by a large margin. I was hoping for a sub-24 hour finish as a best case scenario to get the buckle. I never would have guessed that I would have finished with the time that I did.

Before the Race
My father and brother flew in from Florida and were part of my crew. We arrived at the start/finish area the day before, a large, scenic field in rural Vermont that overlooked a valley and horse farms. It would also serve as a campground for the runners. We checked in and my bib number was 7, either a good sign or potential jinx. We set up our camp, and hung out waiting for some other friends to arrive. Pre-race meeting was in the late afternoon where the race directors went over the rules, course conditions, and other details.

The Race
I was up at 3am, an hour before the race start. I was thankful to get in a good 5-6 hours of sleep. I gathered my water belt and double checked all of my supplies and had a double shot of espresso and a pop-tart for breakfast. Headed down to the race tent near the start line where the other runners had gathered. I couldn't find Stephen or James, two friends of mine I trained with and were also in the race, but it didn't matter much as I knew I wouldn't be running with them anyway (they are both much faster than I am).

Just a few minutes before the start of the race and I noticed I didn't feel nervous at all. Normally before any big race, I'm shaking like a washing machine. This is not to say that I was confident, far from it. My mindset was simply whatever happens during this race is what happens. I'll just give it my best and see how it goes, so why be nervous?

The countdown begun and we were off. We started off on a dirt road but it wasn't long before that led to trails. I chose not to have a headlamp or flashlight with me in the morning for that first hour of darkness, but wished I had. Fortunately, the field hadn't spread out that much yet and I was able to run under the lights of others.

The sun began to rise and the course took us back on dirt roads. From what I remember, it stayed like this for a while. I was running with a guy named Frank for a good while and enjoyed his company. We went through a small town and under a covered bridge, and shortly thereafter we reached the first aid station that allowed crew access about 20 miles in. My brother, father, Ian and Emma were there to help me put on sunblock and check in on how was I doing. Mowed down a couple of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and was feeling very good here and continued on.

Saw my father and brother again about 10 miles later and 30 miles into the race at the next handler aid station. Mowed down some more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and was off again. I remember a grueling climb here. In fact there were several between here and the next handler aid station. Kept pace with a girl named Elizabeth here for a good while who had a great sense of humor and was good company.

Course took us through another covered bridge and the usual mix of dirt roads and trails. I remember my feet becoming very sore, but at the same time, the amount of discomfort was maxed out and it was something I'd just accept and run with for the rest of the race.

Reached Camp 10 Bear aid station at mile 47 which was the first medical checkpoint. Was a bit nervous that I might have dropped weight, but I had only lost one pound (starting weight, 178).

Where I guessed was mile 50, I was about 10 hours into the race. I felt good about that, as having 14 hours to do the next 50 and buckle seemed very doable.

Next handler aid station was at mile 57. I did a quick shirt change here, downed some Accelerade and some food. Was off again on a really big climb and caught up with Elizabeth again and ran with her for much of the way to Mile 70, which would take us to Camp 10 Bear again.

Camp 10 Bear this time around looked like a scene from a battle zone. From what I recall, it looked like the medical staff had their hands full with several runners laying out on stretchers. I got weighed in again and my weight was the same. Excellent.

My pacer, Chuck, was there waiting for me and we were off to complete the last 30 miles. It was so great to know that I would have company for the last 30 miles, and Chuck is a great guy and terrific athlete. Was very glad he was there with me. Having an extra set of eyes and ears at this stage in the race is huge. And just as important, having someone to just talk to and take my mind off things was incredibly valuable.

We reached the West Wind aid station at mile 77. It was still light out, but the sun was sinking fast. Downed some very good chicken noodle soup here and was off. Ran down a hill through a field before tuning into the woods. I remember my brother yelling at me from the aid station to pick up the pace and getting a good laugh out of it.

Headlamps went on and we were running in the dark, guided along by green glow sticks hanging from the trees. I was getting tired, and remember I could only respond in grunts to some of Chuck's inquiries. Around mile 85 or so, running was very difficult so I walked pretty much the rest of the way. Fortunately, I was walking fast, and was speed walking the uphills still with very little discomfort. For me, these sections were easier than the downhills, so I looked forward to them.

We reached the last aid station with crew access at mile 95.5. Almost there. I thanked my brother and father for all of their help and told them I'd see them at the finish line. They were simply the best crew one could ask for, always having everything I needed available and busting their butts to get me in and out as soon as possible.

Up some big hills and into the woods for a descent that we knew was close to the finish line. Glow sticks in gallon jugs soon lined the path, and I knew we were close. The finish line soon became visible through the trees and Chuck and I ran through it. I was done, and it felt great. I couldn't believe my finishing time.

Post Race
I only managed an hour of sleep after the race, but it felt like I had gotten five or six. Went down to the finish line to watch some of the other runners finish, then went back to my tent and slept for another hour. Attended the awards ceremony and got my buckle. Felt great to get that!

Below is a picture of Stephen, me, and James (in that order) posing at the finish line with our buckles. Congrats to them as well for running terrific races. We all trained hard together and each of us had very desirable results. Rock on!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Final Pre-Race Run

Ran 2.9 miles @ 9:22/mile pace.
AHR-MHR - N/A (didn't feel like wearing strap)
Paved and dirt roads.
Mostly flat.
Lower 60s, steady rain.

Thankfully the steady rainfall during today's run isn't supposed to be the case for the Vermont 100 on Saturday. Upper 70s, dry air and sunshine are expected. Excellent.

No bears during today's run. My father and I did a super easy pace which will still by far exceed what I hope to do run this weekend. Words can't express my excitement and nervousness. But it's a good nervous. Not fear, more anxious anticipation. It will be a great time doing what I love doing in grand fashion while being surrounded by friends and family. What more could one want?

Best of luck to my friends Sue and Devon who are running the Tahoe Rim Trail Ultra this weekend out west (100 and 50 miles respectively).

Happy running.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Running With the Bear

Ran 4.5 miles @ 9:10/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 133/161
Paved roads.
Mostly flat.
Mid-60s. Overcast.

My brother and father flew in from Florida today, and after picking them up we went for a run shortly after getting back home. They got a real treat when less than a mile from my house and a huge black bear ran across the road about a 150 feet in front of us! They got a better look at it then I did, and I sprinted up to the edge of woods that he ducked into, looked up in the trees, but he was long gone. I'll take the sighting as a good omen for Vermont.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Taking It Easy at Twin Brooks

Ran 5.5 miles @ 8:43/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 148/161
Extremely hilly.
Upper 70s, sunny.

Met up with Ian, Stephen, James, Jim, Blain, Erik and Erin today at Twin Brooks. Had a great workout with the purpose of taking it easy and keeping the legs fresh. The easy pace made the conversations flow like wine, which were primarily centered around the Vermont 100 this weekend. Stephen and James are also running it, and Ian is helping pace James. My friend who is pacing me, TC Hazzard, was also there but we missed him as he was running with his wife and he got there earlier.

All systems go for Saturday. Feeling great and really can't wait to get there and go. My father and brother are flying in tomorrow from Florida and will help crew for me during the race. My dad has a few ultras under his belt and my brother is a marathoner, so they'll be quite helpful not to mention a pleasure just to have out there.

Oh yeah, and the aforementioned Stephen has started a blog. He's a fantastic athlete, super nice guy and a lot of fun to train with, so please check it out!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Early Morning at Pineland/Vermont Plan

Ran 7.0 miles @ 9:08/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - N/A (didn't feel like wearing strap)
Extremely hilly.
Lower-mid 50s.

Stephen and I met up at 5:30am to get in our final Pineland Farms training run before the Vermont 100 next weekend. The rolling terrain there is always a great workout. We just set out at an easy pace and discussed the race and a variety of other topics. Stephen is a great guy to run with, and I just wish he wasn't so darn fast (or I was faster) so I could run with him next week. I suspect he'll be leaving me and a lot of others in the dust!

Today I will finish buying supplies for next week and put together my drop bags and arrange my camping gear. Should be fun.

Below are my projected times for certain aid stations. Listed are my estimated times of arrival, along with the paces up to that checkpoint from the last with a progressively slower pace as the race moves along.

Start = 4:00am
21.1 miles - 8:15am - 12:00/mile
30.1 miles - 10:25am - 13:00/mile
47.2 miles - 2:05pm - 13:00/mile
57.0 miles - 4:25pm - 14:00/mile
62.1 miles - 5:40pm - 14:00/mile
70.1 miles - 7:30pm - 14:00/mile
77.0 miles - 9:15pm - 15:00/mile
88.6 miles - 12:15am - 15:00/mile
95.5 miles - 2:10am - 16:00/mile
100.0 miles - 3:30am - 18:00/mile

Total time = 23:30

I'm looking at the above as a best case scenario. I'll seriously be very happy just to finish. Even if I have to drop out, I'll be fine with that. I just feel fortunate enough to be running this race, especially after the knee surgery three months ago. Having said that, a sub-24 hour time to get the buckle would be very sweet, and that's what I'm aiming for. But regardless of what happens, it should be a lot of fun, and that's what it's about.

Friday, July 13, 2007

10 on the Hills

Ran 10.1 miles @ 7:46/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 159/174
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Lower 80s, partly cloudy.

Waited until it got warmer out to begin the run to get better used to running in the heat. Good run and felt strong throughout. I went a bit faster than I had planned, but no big deal. Runs from here until the race will be nice and slow, so it was good to get in what is likely my last somewhat up-tempo run.

Special thanks to my neighbor and good friend Kate for the aerodynamic haircut that kept me cool and provided a lot less wind resistance.

Also, for those who may not know, the Hardrock 100 race started this morning and you can track the runners' progress online. A lot of fun to follow.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Heat Without the Humidity

Ran 5.8 miles @ 9:45/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 138/165
Paved roads.
Moderately hilly.
Lower-mid 80s, sunny.

The heat made somewhat of a minor comeback today, but the humidity was long gone. Felt good to run in these conditions since we haven't seen the sun in a while. Ran with a co-worker and fellow grad school student today and we went at his pace.

The run was after our class today. I took him on a hillier leg to end the run, which was somewhat of a sweet revenge since he had me laughing uncontrollably in the middle of our class. I seriously couldn't stop for a solid 20-25 minutes! What had me going was repeated jokes about class running late and into our lunch break. You had to be there.

Anyway, the run went well. Felt good to take it easy. All systems continue to be a go and look good for the big show in nine days.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Tuesdays Mean Twin Brooks

Ran 5.5 miles @ 8:08/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 147/168
Extremely Hilly.
Lower 60s, cloudy.

Met up with the Trail Monsters at Twin Brooks. We had a good showing this evening, with 13 runners in all. Went out at a pretty easy pace. Trails were much more muddy this week, making it all the more fun. I cut the run a mile or two short from the others as not to push myself too much and I also twisted my ankle at one point later in the run. Nothing bad, but it feels a little sore. It's fine though.

Tapering continues to go well over all. Leg muscles are already getting fresher and it feels like they're raring to go. 11 days and counting. Tic toc, tic toc, tic toc....

Monday, July 09, 2007

Uneventful Four

Ran 4.6 miles @ 7:53/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 147/162
Paved roads.
Mostly flat.
Lower 60s, muggy and overcast.

Today was a wake and run day as I have a busy day ahead of me. Such situations usually result in slow times, as I have to get in several miles before I feel alive. Today called for a short run and as a result I never quite came to life but fortunately today called for low miles at a slow pace. This is not to say this morning's run was not pleasurable. Far from it. The very nice side about running first thing in the morning is you enjoy that post-run feeling/runner's high/whatever to start the day, even if the run is short one.

Worth noting that the morning was made a little tougher because I'm also weaning myself off of coffee just a little bit. Would like the effects of caffeine to be maximized for the Vermont 100. Down to two smallish cups a day now. Before I was at three to four good sized mugs worth.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

A Fine Morning at Pineland Farms

Ran 9.1 miles @ 9:02/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 142/162
Extremely hilly.
Upper 50s to lower 60s, partly cloudy.

Woke up early again to meet Steve (another Vermont 100 runner) at Pineland Farms at 6am to get in a run. Steve is great company and will be part of the pretty sizable Maine entourage we have going to the race in two weeks. He had been there about an hour before I got there and swept by the parking lot to meet up. We headed off enjoying the great weather and scenery while clocking in the miles at an easy pace. Extremely hilly area with constant ups and downs, many of them steep.

Felt very strong through most of the run, though the legs were a bit tired in the last half mile from the workout yesterday evening, but that's to be expected. I continue to be very happy with the shape I'm in for the race, all things considered. It'll be a great time for sure.

On another note, wanted to share this clip that I first saw on Bob Gentile's blog. Great stuff.

Happy running!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Tempo Run on the Hills

Ran 9.7 miles @ 7:09/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 158/177
Paved roads.
Extremely hilly.
Mid 60s, muggy.

Set out from my house on a variation of a run that I normally do that sacrificed 4/10 of a mile for more hills. Gradually picked up the speed on the first hill, where I saw a deer (a recurring theme in my runs lately) as well as a hawk. Route then goes down then up, followed by a steep downhill where I picked up the speed again.

Mile splits:
1 - 7:50
2 - 7:30
3 - 7:19
4 - 7:12
5 - 7:04
6 - 6:58
7 - 7:09
8 - 7:08
9 - 6:45
9.7 - 6:22/mile

Good run. Felt very strong throughout. Great to get in these tempo runs on hills for the Vermont 100. Just two weeks away! Can't wait.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Baldface Mountain Loop

Ran 10.0 miles @ 17:39/mile pace.
Insanely hilly. (3600' elevation gain)
Around 60 on the peaks, warmer in valley. Partly cloudy.

Ian, Jim and Andrew and I headed up to the White Mountains to run the Baldface Mountain Loop , a good way to take advantage of the great weather we've been having lately. It's a great route that goes up a mountain ridge above treeline where spectacular views are to be had. I was pretty much left in the dust by the company I was with, particularly Andrew. I'll blame it on the tired legs.

The initial climb starts off gradual and gets steeper as you move on, the latter parts I mostly power hiked. Was somewhat relieved to reach the summit South Baldface (3570'), and from there it was an down and up ridge run over to North Baldface (3610'). From there we ran over to Eagle Crag and then down the Baldface Circle Trail.

We made a side trip and stopped at the Emerald Pool less than a mile away from the trailhead where we took a refreshing plunge in a cold swimming hole. Made the rest of the run out even more pleasant. Good workout.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Weekly Trail Monster Run

Ran 6.2 miles @ 7:57/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 151/169
Extremely hilly.
Upper 60s, sunny.

Met up with the Trail Monsters for our weekly run at Twin Brooks in Cumberland. Good time on the ever-rolling trails. About eight of us all together. Not much else to add that I can think of other than that I felt good and strong throughout. We followed it up with burgers and beers afterwards. Good fuel for tomorrow's mountain run.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Fantasy Badwater League

I thought it'd be fun to put together a fantasy league for the Badwater Ultramarathon on July 23-25.

Here's how it works:

1) Look at the list of this year's participants at http://www.badwater.com/2007web/2007roster.html
2) Research the runners, decide which guys and gals you think are the top folks.
3) Come up with a list of the TOP FIVE guys in the order you think they'll finish, and the TOP THREE women. (more guys than girls in the race, hence the discrepancy).
4) With your lists, guess their finishing times in HOURS: MINUTES: SECONDS format.
5) Email lists to me at jamie (at symbol) jamieofthenorth (dot) com, and I'll compile them.

For each athlete you have in the correct placement, you will receive 10 points. If they are within one slot of which you guessed, then you will get seven points. Two slots, five points. Three slots, three points. Four slots, one point.

For the time, you can get as many as 30 points for correctly guessing the athlete's time. For each minute you are off either over or under, one point will be subtracted. Seconds will be rounded up to the nearest minute. For example, you guess Monica Otero finishes in 40:30:11. She actually finishes 40:39:22. The difference is 9:11, rounded up to nearest minute it's 10 minutes, so that would be 20 additional points.

Another example... for the men someone has:

1. Scott Jurek 24:23:11
2. Dean Karnazes 25:17:59
3. David Balsey 25:18:18
4. David Goggins 28:01:44
5. Anton Millar 29:33:24

The actual results are:
1. Scott Jurek 24:33:12
2. David Goggins 25:19:33
3. Dean Karnazes 25:30:47
4. Brian Kuhn 27:15:09
5. David Balsey 29:55:39

Points would be as follows:
1. Jurek (Placing 10 + Time 19 = 29)
2. Karnazes (Placing 7 + Time 17 = 24)
3. Balsey (Placing 5, no time points = 5)
4. Goggins (Placing 5, no time points = 5)
5. Millar (No placing points, no time points)

Grand total of 63 points.

Person with the most points wins.

Clear as mud? I know it's pretty complex, but so are helicopters, and yet they still fly. If there are any questions, feel free to ask for clarification, it just looks good to me but might not to you.

C'mon, play. It'll be fun and you know it.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Hay is in the Barn

Ran 20.o miles @ 8:01/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - N/A (strap in desperate need of cleaning)
Paved roads.
Moderately hilly.
Lower to mid 60s, partly cloudy.

Or so I hope. Three weeks until the Vermont 100, so tapering begins now. I thought that after yesterday's long run that I had more in me, so I decided then to get in another 20 miles today. I've read that back to back 20 milers are great ultra training, since it's good practice at running on tired legs. Was glad I did it.

Run itself was great. I combined two loops that I normally do. First 10.1 mile loop I did is very hilly, and I just moseyed along at around a 8:12/mile pace, enjoying the long uphill and subsequent downhill and feeling good. Two deer crossed the road not far in front of me around six miles into the run. Neat to see.

After that loop, I swung inside my house and downed 2/3 of a liter of water and took an electrolyte pill. Hurried out the door to do my 9.4 mile loop, which is only slightly hilly. Picked up the pace here, and most of the splits were under 8:00/mile, especially at the end. Reached my house and ran another .3 up the road and back to bring the mileage up to 20. Felt very good and very strong throughout the run. Good signs for sure.