Wednesday, January 30, 2008

On the Rebound

Off the medication, and on with the training. Schizo weather today had me thinking twice about running outside this afternoon, so I opted for some cross training in the school's gym instead.

Hit the elliptical first, taking it easy the first 10 minutes at which point I realized I was free to kick it in a little harder for the remaining 20 minutes. Huge difference from how I felt on Monday. Huge. Muscles are free of that weird soreness and they were anxious to get to work.

After the ellipticals, hit the exercise bike for another 30 minute workout. Felt equally great.

Quads again got a very good workout with this kind of cross training, which is what I feel I need to strengthen the most. Very happy about that. Another nice thing is that while I don't like bringing the iPod with me while running, working out at the gym is a whole 'nother story. Modest Mouse and Nine Inch Nails were excellent company throughout.

The 50K race is on for Saturday. On like Vultron...

Elliptical for 30 minutes.
6.1 miles.
Random hill setting.
Level 10 out of 16

Exercise bike for 30 minutes.
9.8 miles.
Hill climb and descent setting.
Level 6 out of 16.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Avelox Blues

Since starting up my running again last week after being sick, I've noticed some unusual muscle soreness. I wasn't sure if it was because I was rusty from taking a week off or maybe it was from my medication. A recent thread on the ultra list discussed how certain antibiotics can cause excessive muscle soreness and also weaken tendons. Yup, after some further research, it turns out the medication I've been on, Avelox, is in that category. I really think it's more the medication than rust. In the future, I'll talk to my doctor about other medications that may do the same job and are sans this anti-running side effect.

Saturday's trail run in particular felt like it beat me up more than it should have (more so afterwards), so I rested yesterday. Tried the elliptical machines at the school today, and perhaps it's somewhat psychosomatic, but the muscles felt too tight and I decided to call it quits after 13 minutes.

All in all, not a big deal. I'm just about done with taking the prescription and suspect things will return to normal shortly afterwards. I'm still planning to run a 50K Fat Ass down in Cape Cod this weekend, but I realize I may have to cancel if I can't rebound in time.

Since I already used a picture of the world's smallest violin after whining a few weeks ago about being sick, I'll just post this video instead:

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Bradbury Trails

Had a good long run today at Bradbury Mountain State Park. Ian, Erik and Blain were there at the start, and we completed the three mile loop that goes up Bradbury and then set off on the other trails to get in the miles. Early on we were lucky to spot a pileated woodpecker darting around the trees. Neat looking bird.

We cruised along, talking about race plans and what not when we reached the powerlines. Ian and I decided that we'd run along the paths that parallel the powerlines until we reached 12 miles, which would give us about 21 miles total on an out and back. Shortly after we set off on these paths, Blaine reached the mileage he wanted and turned around and went back, while Ian, Erik and I continued.

A humorous moment when we stopped for a water/refuel break, and Ian had difficulty squeezing the contents of his energy gel out of the packet. The cold had nearly frozen it, and it looked rather amusing in its thickened form, prompting several juvenile jokes that had us laughing pretty hard.

We reached the top of a ridge that marked the 12-mile mark and we turned around and headed back. Ian and I picked up the pace the last few miles. That was tough and I had a little bit of a hard time keeping up with him. But alas, we reached the parking lot when I thought we still had a little more to go. Soon after, Erik came in. We then went our separate ways, which meant a stop at Tim Horton's on the way home for me. Their coffee rocks!

Ran 21.1 miles @ 9:05/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 146/163
Trails, coated with packed snow, ice.
Very hilly.
10 degrees at start, mid-20s at end. Sunny.
Long pants, fleece jacket, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Cross Training

I opted to try out the elliptical machines at our school's gym this afternoon. Was glad I did. At the risk of sounding snooty, I always snubbed such machines, thinking that they're wimpy. Wrong. The nice thing was it really worked out my quadriceps big time, which are also my weakest leg muscles. I need to get those puppies stronger for the long downhills at Western States. Perhaps doing the ellipticals once a week or so could help.

Elliptical - 6.8 miles in 30 minutes.
Random hill setting.
Level 12 (out of ???)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Afternoon Fifteen

While we're still in the middle of winter, the nice thing is the days are getting noticeably longer. It really dawned (dusked?) on me today that I finished the run with plenty of daylight left, despite the additional time taken to make a pit stop. Legs still felt a little rusty and the heart rate was a little on the high side, but all in all I felt it went really well.

Ran 15.0 miles @ 8:25/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 146/162
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Mid to lower 20s, partly cloudy.
Long pants, fleece jacket, short sleeved shirt, refl. vest, beanie, gloves.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease

Feeling significantly better, so time to shake the rust off. I explored a new route today that had some great hills. Effort wise I felt good, just a bit rusty. The heart rate was a little high, even with the hills, but that's to be expected. Looking forward to getting my mileage back up. All systems appear to be a go.

Ran 8.1 miles @ 8:28/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 151/169
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Lower 30s, sunny.
Long pants, fleece jacket, short sleeved shirt, refl. vest, beanie, gloves (off and on)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


So, I've been seeing this questionnaire going around on other folks blogs, primarily trail runners. The deal is you answer the questions and "tag" another person or two and they have to do the same. Devon tagged me the other day, so here it is!

1. 2007's most memorable moment on the trail...
During the Vermont 100, my brother and father met me and my pacer and good friend Chuck at the aid station at mile 77. After downing some soup pretty quickly, Chuck and I were off. We ran down a hill and across a pasture as the sun began to set. It was beautiful. As we crossed the pasture and were getting close to the woods on the other side, I heard my brother yelling from the top of the hill, "C'mon! Pick up the pace!" This made me laugh. So many great moments during that race, but for some reason this one stands out the most.

2. Best new trail I discovered in 2007...
Probably the network of trails right in woods behind my house. Challenging terrain, beautiful woods, ponds, swamps and tons of wildlife. I've seen bear, deer, mink, barred owls, bald eagles, turkeys, porcupines and beavers out there to name a few.

3. My best performance of the year...
Without a doubt, the Vermont 100.

4. I don't know how I previously survived without...
Larabars. Tasty, healthy, and organic.

5. The person I would most like to meet on the trail in 2008...
Devon (see you at WS!)

Stephen, Ian and Chuck... consider yourselves tagged.

I'm back to running tomorrow. Gave my lungs an additional day to clear out today. Good to go.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Bring Out Your Dead

Today's run was a test to see how I'm doing with the recovery from the sinus infection. Main area of concern was my lungs, as they are still a little congested but also no longer producing anything slimy and green after I cough, just slimy and clear (sorry if that's TMI).

Run felt pretty good. Heart rate was way high, but that's to be expected. Lungs held up just fine, but at the same time, I don't think jumping into double-digit miles right away is a good idea. Perhaps by the end of the week if all goes well.

Ran 3.0 miles @ 7:53/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 157/169
Paved roads.
Mostly flat.
9 degrees, sunny, windy (wind chill -5).
Long pants, Goretex jacket, long sleeved shirt, gloves, beanie.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Sinus Infection from Hell

Oh woe is me... oh woe is me...

Well, while not being able to run the past several days because I've been sick has been a bit frustrating, the good news is the doctor says I don't have strep throat. Just a really nasty sinus infection. He prescribed me some antibiotics which should take care of things. I'll take my time getting better, and I suspect I'll be back at'em next week. No big deal. The legs are ready, willing and able once the sinuses calm down.

I typically get sick once a year (teaching hazard), so good to get it out of the way now while there's still plenty of time for what's ahead. I'll also be sending in application for the Vermont 100 this weekend.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


A moment to whine... I have come down with a really bad cold, possibly strep throat over the past few days. Glad to get it out of the way now. I expect I'll be back to training by Thursday.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Weekly Recap

After much thought, decided not to run today. Legs still have some go in them, but giving them a rest day along with a recovery week next week will probably pay bigger dividends in the long term.

Monday - 15.0
Tuesday - 15.0
Wednesday - 0
Thursday - 26.4
Friday - 0
Saturday - 16.2
Sunday - 0

Total = 72.6

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Mashed Potato Trail Run at Bradbury Mt.

We had a good crowd for our run at Bradbury Mountain State Park this morning. Stephen, Ian, Emma, James, Erik, Chuck and Blaine were all present at 8am.

We hit the trails and the conditions were very... interesting. There was more snow on the trails than I thought there would be after this warm spell and also the rain yesterday (though that was a very cold rain, mixed with sleet at times). Very icy though and I was thankful to have my screw shoes on, which again provided fantastic traction.

But with the warm weather, much of the snow was loose (especially later on), and the ice sheets near the puddles and brooks were thick, but brittle. On the old TV show Pee Wee's Playhouse, there would be a word of the day and whenever anyone said it, everyone would yell. That's what we sounded like whenever one of us would break through the ice and plunge into the water, which happened quite often. Even if it didn't happen to you, you would still yell. This amused me greatly, and I couldn't stop laughing.

Despite our racket, we did manage to see a barred owl flying on the edge of a field at one point which was of course a real treat. Chuck took a shortcut home shortly after that and the rest of meandered back to the parking lot. As it got warmer, the snow became very soft with the consistency of mashed potatoes, making the running very slow going, but a great workout.

Race plans were also discussed and I'm honored to pace James when he runs the Massanutten 100 this May. On a selfish note, it'll be a good workout for me as well. I'm also very stoked that Stephen wants to pace for me at Western States. If he can make it, it'll be great since we're of course good friends and have a lot of fun doing longer runs together.

We eventually reached the parking lot eventually, and Ian, Emma and I opted for a few miles more and did a loop back up Bradbury Mountain (really a hill) and back down. Great run with a great group, and a lot of fun.

Ran 16.2 miles @ 9:21/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 143/161
Trails with mushy snow and ice.
Very hilly.
Upper 20s to start, around 40 degrees to end. Sunny.
Long pants, fleece jacket for first three miles, then ditched for short sleeved shirt and moeben sleeves.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Running to Work and Back

I was out the door at 4:45am to run to work this morning and also ran back home. Good 26.4 mile day. Nice to do so while we're still in this January thaw as the weather is supposed to become more seasonable within a few days.

Started off very windy. A few miles into the run, I dropped a glove and the wind carried it quickly away from me, forcing me to turn around and run quicker to retrieve it. By the time I climbed the hill that roughly marks the halfway point, I noted that the wind had died down significantly. Felt good.

Ran 13.2 miles @ 8:32/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 142/158
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Upper 30s, clear skies.
Long pants, fleece jacket, short sleeved shirt, refl. vest, beanie, gloves (off and on)

I grew pretty sleepy by the end of my last class, and hoped it wouldn't affect the run home much. Fortunately it didn't. Felt overdressed for the first few miles but as the clouds grew and the temps dropped a little, I was dressed just right. Felt stronger than I thought I would for the push home, but I'll welcome the rest day tomorrow all the same.

Ran 13.2 miles @ 8:19/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 146/160
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Mid 40s, cloudy.
Long pants, fleece jacket, short sleeved shirt, refl. vest.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Juggling Act

Knowing it was going to be very warm this afternoon, my heart sank a little when I came into work this morning to find out I had forgotten about a grant writing meeting I needed to attend during the afternoon. However, I devised a back-up plan that ended up working out great. The meeting went long as expected, but it was productive and the grant will really benefit our students greatly if it all works out, so of course it was well worth it.

As for the run, I set out in temperatures still in the upper 50s as the sun was setting. I ran a 1.75 mile loop that was relatively traffic-friendly, and then added a couple of loops around the school to round the mileage up to an even 15. I thought I'd be pretty bored with the small loop, but I actually didn't think much of it once I was going. Nice slow pace with a HR in the 130s which I'm very happy with.

Darn good run. Tomorrow is a rest day and a longer run is planned for Thursday.

Ran 15.0 miles @ 8:52/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 137/152
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Upper 50s falling to upper 40s.
Long pants, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt. Fleece jacket for second half.

Monday, January 07, 2008

15 in the Thaw

Warmer weather means all that snow we've gotten is melting pretty fast. Lots of big puddles to contend with in the mile to mile and a half section of this route at the beginning and end which goes through town I teach in. Once out on the more country roads it was much better.

Lot's of strange pockets of especially warm or especially cool air. You'd feel them for several seconds as you ran through them before the temperature felt "normal" again. The cold pockets were around the bigger snow banks, but the warm pockets... no idea.

Ran 15.0 miles @ 8:26/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 142/157
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Lower-mid 40s, mostly cloudy.
Shorts, fleece jacket, short sleeved shirt, refl. vest.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Great Day for a 50K

Awesome day for a long trail run. Warm weather helped make the Gil's Athletic Club's 10th Annual Fat Ass 50K a very enjoyable event. For anyone reading this who might not know, the loose definition of a "Fat Ass" race is one that is very low-key and there is typically no entry fee. All that is asked is that you bring something for the aid station table (I brought a 12-pack of Moxie, cookies, and chips). They are very laid back and more of a glorified training run than a race.

Ian and I headed down this morning, arriving in plenty of time to get our gear ready and socialize. Was happy to see Ron Farkash and John O'Connor there, two running acquaintances who also ran the Vermont 100. Was happy to learn that John also got in the Western States. Jeff Washburn also made an appearance, and is looking really great after suffering from a big stroke several months ago.

For the run, I was trying out a newly constructed pair of screw shoes to help with traction on the ice and snow. I drilled 18 sheet metal screws (each) into the bottom of a pair of old trail running shoes. They did even better than I expected. A+ for sure. Sure the snow and ice inevitably made things slower, particularly the uneven footing on the snow, but there was never one ounce of doubt of slipping. Grip was incredible on the icy sections.

The race started at 9am and we were off to run the 10K loop five times. Ian and I both had the same goal, to not race it and just treat it as a relaxed training run. Mission accomplished and we had a blast, running the entire race together.

Loop by Loop Recap

Loop one was fun, and Ron and I in particular yucked up a storm of conversation around all things ultra-related. Easy to do with energy so high early on.

Loop two was also fun. I started the race with a fleece jacket over a short sleeved shirt, but ditched the jacket for this loop and replaced it with a long sleeved shirt. Ron moved ahead here but John stayed with Ian and I.

Loop three, yup, still fun and feeling strong. Day continued to get warmer and the snow a bit softer, but it never turned as mash potato-like as I thought it would, which was good. I mused during this loop that since there were five loops, the race was like a work week. It was now Wednesday.

Loop four - John called it a day here, but Ian and I went on. Ditched the long sleeve shirt and wore a pair of Moeben sleeves. The owner graciously sent me a few pairs to share with my friends and try out, and I really like them a lot (Ian likes his too). Very comfortable and warm. Our splits for each loop were pretty consistent. I regret not taking the auto-lap counter for each mile off, and manually taking a lap reading after each loop instead. But overall, our times look like they were pretty close for each loop. The only thing that got longer was our stops at the aid station, but we didn't care. Conversation was pretty minimal from here on out. We were both feeling strong, but obviously a bit more tired.

Loop five - Final loop. Friday. I marveled at how well I was still feeling. Granted, we had been running at a snail's pace from the start, but still. We kicked in the turbo for the last half mile or so and finished with plenty left in the tank. Funny that I set a new 50K PR with this race even though I wasn't trying... but it had been a long while since I've run a 50K and my time before was way slow to begin with. Not a big accomplishment on that front, but I thought I'd mention it anyway.

Really fun time. An absolute blast in fact. Those GAC running club guys are a lot of fun and put on some great races. This was no exception.

Ran 31.1 miles @ 10:26/mile pace.
Time: 5:24:02
AHR/MHR - 144/171
Trails with packed snow.
Very hilly.
Upper 20s warming to around 40. Clear to mostly cloudy.
See notes above regarding clothing, since it varied so much.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Good 12

Temps were pretty cold, but a far cry from the double digit below zero temperatures I woke up to. Also, the sun was shining brightly, which always helps mentally. Run felt great. Will likely to take tomorrow off since I have a 50K run on Saturday and I also have to take The Cheat to the vet.

Ran 12.2 miles @ 8:19/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 147/158
Paved roads, patches of ice and snow.
Slightly hilly.
8 degrees, sunny.
Long pants, long johns, Goretex jacket, long sleeved shirt, refl. vest, balaclava, beanie, gloves.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

2008 Begins

Out the door this morning to beat another nor'easter that's supposed to hit us pretty hard this afternoon and tonight. Did an out-and-back variation of one of my routes that climbed to the top of a ridge. Was feeling good so I tacked on a few miles more than the eight I had originally planned.

Overall I love the snow. But when there's a lot of it on the ground, it does make bio-breaks in the woods challenging. Fortunately, a couple of deer had post-holed a path into the woods near the top of the ridge.

Eyelashes froze together on the way home, but that was just a minor nuisance. Otherwise, felt great throughout the run.

Ran 10.2 miles @ 8:34/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 143/161
Paved roads, patches of snow and ice.
Very hilly.
Mid to upper teens, partly sunny.
Long pants, fleece jacket, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.