Monday, November 30, 2009

Cross Training Day

Opted to do use the ellipticals at my school's gym after school today, thinking the weather was going to be dire but it turns out it wasn't all that bad. Good to blast the quads a bit. Listened to Nine Inch Nail's "Year Zero" as I did so.

Elliptical: 6.4 miles in 30 minutes. Random hill setting, level 10 out of 16.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Blackstrap Hell II - A Race Report

I knew this race would be tough. But it was even tougher than I thought. 10k of very steep hills coated with slippery mud that were rugged, gnarly and insanely tough and that is no exaggeration! It was a LOT of fun. I loved it.

This race is put on by fellow Trail Monster Running member, Jeff. What makes it interesting is he uses a staggered start. Runners go off in waves, alone or in groups of up to three. The projected slower runners go first and the projected faster runners go last. The goal is to have us all crossing the finish line within a few minutes of each other.

Me? I was seeded in the middle... 20th out of 40 people (as of the night before). I liked this for a variety of reasons. A) I haven't raced in a long while. B) I haven't race a shorter race in a much LONGER while. C) As a result of A and B, I knew there was a good chance my pacing would probably be off which leads to... D) Because of C, it would be good to have rabbits to chase and cheetahs on my tail, and the competiton of both could keep me honest.

Well... point "D" turned out to be true, but definitely not at first. I started with Tim and my buddy James Demer. James is super fast, and I know he is MUCH faster than I. Either Jeff overestimated my running lately by starting me with him or underestimated James, or a bit of both. That's not a complaint though. Projecting everyone's times based on previous races is never going to be an exact science by any stretch, especially when the data is limited with some runners (like me). Jeff did a really great job overall with this, and as it turns out we all finished within a short block of time within each other (except for three people who got really lost).

So, we were off. Long story short, I went out WAY too fast the first mile. I was leading the three of us and laboring away while noting that James would occasionally ask a question or make a comment, and he was anything but out of breath. I decided to put on the brakes and let James pass, and do my own thing without worrying about keeping up with that beast of a runner.

The race went on and about 2.5 miles in Ian and Chuck flew past me on a downhill. Crap! Not even halfway done and these guys already caught me (remember, we're supposed to be finishing around the same time because of the staggered start). They were really moving!

However, shortly after that, I was feeling my groove. I was flying well on the downhills and cruising the ups at a pretty good pace, feeling warmed up and in sync. All cylinders were clicking and I was running hard but also comfortably. I was working an uphill and saw a female runner ahead of me (I forget her name). Near the top, she turned left on to a trail and so did I.

I then heard Tim yell from behind me, "Hey Jamie! You're going the wrong way!"

"No I'm not!" I exclaimed, probably sounding like a five year old. Two out of the three arrows marking the trail did point left afterall (one was a snowmobile arrow, I should have ignored that.. the other was probably the backside of an arrow used for the other direction), and only one of the three said to go straight. There were also flags that went the direction I was going. Turns out this was for an earlier section of the trail. Crap!

"Yes you are! Trust me, it's this way!" Tim yelled back.

"Are you sure?!"


As I ran my way back to the trail where Tim was I saw Floyd and Peter (two notoriously ridiculously fast runners) fly by ahead on the correct path. Ugh, I was indeed going the wrong way. I yelled to the girl who was ahead of me that it was the wrong way, but she insisted it was right and I think she kept going. I estimate the whole ordeal cost me about 45 seconds to a minute, so not too bad. It definitely could have been worse. Not a big deal.

So, on I went. With about a mile or so left, I looked behind me and saw a runner closing in. I couldn't tell who it was, as we were on the powerline trails and the sun was in my eyes when I turned around, but as the trail ducked into the woods and then meandered this way and that, I could see it was my buddy Ryan and he was gaining ground.

I like Ryan a lot. He's a great guy and insanely funny. He also hooks me up with great deals on cross country ski equipment. However, I didn't want him to catch me and I made it my goal to not let him do so.

We meandered and weaved between the trees and down the hill and I could see Ryan was gaining ground. We then did a U-like turn by crossing a creek and heading uphill on the other side, and I could see Ryan was now REALLY close. But somehow, I managed to fend him off on the uphill. Then there was a downhill to the finish and I crossed it at a good sprint (and then did a somersault for fun).

I crossed in 1:01:36 and 12th place overall based on the actual net times. I was hoping to break an hour, and had actually predicted to Jeff I'd finish in 57:57, which I knew was ambitious but I wanted to give myself a tough goal.

So, I'm a tad disappointed, but only a tad. I haven't raced a shorter race in a long while and didn't know these trails that well, so I don't think I did that bad considering that. The larger part of me is pretty pleased. I'm still not taking for granted that I am running TRULY injury free for the first time in well over a year. That alone makes any run fun. So that combined with a solid effort and not too bad of a finishing time (for me) for racing the first time in a long while, I'll take it with a sincere smile, but also with the realization that I still have some work to do.

BIG thanks to Jeff for putting on such a fun, challenging and unique event! It was awesome and a great time. The pizza and beer that followed afterwards with almost everyone there was also a grand time as we rehashed the day and enjoyed each other's company. I feel truly fortunate to run with such an awesome group of people. You guys all rock!

Crossing the finish line

Ran 6.3 miles @ 9:51/mile pace.
Rugged, rocky, muddy trails.
Insanely hilly.
Mid 40s, sunny.
Brooks Cascadia 3, shorts, sleeveless shirt.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Blackstrap Hell 2009 Preview

I missed last year's Blackstrap Hell race. I can't remember why exactly. But tomorrow I'll be there. Jeff puts it on. The race is informal but has an interesting concept, using a staggered start based on some crazy algorithm that Jeff came up with. It calculates your start time based on previous race times and is designed with the goal of having us all finish around the same time.

The course is around 10k of... well... hell. But most trail runners would actually call it heaven. Judge for yourself:

Race website

While this is a pretty informal event, I'd still like to test myself and run it pretty hard, given that my training has been going well lately. With that in mind, I'm taking a rest day today to help insure fresh legs. Looking forward to tomorrow!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Post-Turkey 5K Recovery Run

I had originally planned on a rest day today, but wanted to get out. I think a combination of yesterday's hard workout on the hills and then overstuffing myself with Thanksgiving grub resulted in me not feeling particularly peppy so it wasn't difficult to keep the pace slow.

Ran 3.1 miles @ 7:54/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Lower 40s, overcast, light but steady rain.
Asics GT2120 (heelless), shorts, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Ten on Turkey Day

Happy Thanksgiving!!! I spent the earlier parts of the morning preparing the above apple pie. It will be consumed when I head over to Neighbor Kate's here in a little bit for the festivities. Such a great holiday, this is!

So after the pie was done, I set it out to cool and then was out the door for a 10-miler. I went faster than planned, but it felt good so I just rode with it. Haven't done this route in a while so it was fun to run it again. Fun hills on it.

Hope everyone has a grand day with lots of great company, great food, great drinks, and football!!!

Ran 10.1 miles @ 7:21/pace.
AHR/MHR - N/A (dead battery in strap)
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Mid 40s, overcast.
Asics GT-2140, shorts, long sleeved shirt (sleeves pushed up one mile in)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Two Turkeys Trotting Barefoot on the Beach

I met up with Blaine this morning for a barefoot run on the beach. We probably should have started a bit later, as the tide was going out but was still pretty high when we started. As a result, we had to splash through some sections which slowed us down quite a bit and the water was a tad chilly. Still, it could have been worse. This November has been very warm overall.

The run went well, however we did encounter an irresponsible dog owner with a large, aggressive mutt that charged us with it's teeth showing and barking angrily. It seemed to take a liking to Blaine especially, but fortunately we weren't bit. The owner was slow at getting his dog on the leash (which is the law, mind you), so I exchanged a few choice words with him that ended with me telling him what he could do to his mother (he didn't like that).

That aside, great run. Felt great and I don't think my calves and soleus muscles will be overly sore tomorrow. Last time they got worked out overly hard, but I'm a bit more acclimated now and this run wasn't as long.

Ran 10.1 miles @ 9:02/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - N/A (wore the strap, but I suspect it's battery is dead)
Very flat.
Beaches with mostly packed sand.
Mid 40s, overcast, slightly misty.
Barefoot, shorts, short sleeved shirt, windbreaker (shed after a mile), cap.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sorta Kinda Progression Run

I was pleasantly surprised at how fast my overall pace was when I ended my run. I thought it would be :10-:15 slower per mile, but obviously I'll take it. I knew I kicked it in the last mile, but thought my pace for the first half was slower than it actually was and I wasn't pushing the pace at all. Turns out I was pretty consistant for the first three miles, most of which is uphill.

1 - 8:11
2 - 8:11
3 - 8:11
4 - 7:56
5 - 7:45
6 - 7:18
7 - 6:44
last .1 - 6:28/mile pace

Very good day. Even though I don't feel like I need it, I'm still going to take a rest day tomorrow to be safe. I don't want to burn the candle from both ends, so to speak.

Ran 7.1 miles @ 7:44/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 149/165
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Mid 40s, overcast.
Asics GT-2140, shorts, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Good Recovery Run

I got some errands done earlier this morning, and by the time I was done the temperatures had warmed to the lower 40s and I swung by the local high school's athletic fields for a barefoot recovery run. Most of the frost on the fields had just melted, so it was perfect timing.

As I did my first lap I heard someone say "Hi Jamie!" as I neared the track. Turns out it was April, a literacy coach I know through education circles. She had a good plan of running the track with a friend to make it easier to keep an eye on her two kids, who played on the inside of the track while they ran.

The run felt great. No real soreness from yesterday's long run, which was somewhat surprising. Was glad to see the heart rate nice and low as well. Good signs.

Tomorrow will likely be a rest day, but I may delay taking a day off until Tuesday. I'll play it by ear. I'm off work Wednesday through Sunday and am only traveling 150 feet to Neighbor Kate's for Thanksgiving, so there will be plenty of time to get in some quality runs this upcoming week.

Oh yes, and a huge congrats to my friend Devon for winning the JFK 50 and setting a new course record! Super cool person who is full of life and obviously very talented!

Ran 5.2 miles @ 8:30/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 133/146
Grassy fields.
Very flat.
Lower to mid 40s, sunny.
Barefoot, shorts, short sleeved shirt, Moeben sleeves, cap.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Finally: A Run Over 20 Miles

Since the stress fracture, I've really been taking my time getting back into the running shape I want to be in. It's worked well in that I've built up the speed on the shorter distances but now it's time to start focusing more on the long runs.

Today I finally got in a 20+ miler and was able to do so relatively comfortably. Granted, I ran slow and the last few miles (which are uphill) were tough, but overall it went really well. I was a bit disappointed at my overall pace at first (9:40/mile), as normally in top shape I'd cover this distance on these trails between 9:10-9:20 pretty comfortably. But then I got to thinking that this was my first real long run since June, so with that perspective in mind I shouldn't complain much.

We had a good-sized group, despite a lot of our regulars not being able to make it. Jim, Blaine, Al, Lily, Susanna, Erin and Mercedes were all present, but we all did different distances. I was blessed with Lily's company until mile 18.3, when she opted to head back.

But before then, Jim earned the quote of the day. Jim had been mentioning some of society's problems which prompted a question from Al:

Al: Have you no faith in humanity?

Jim: Oh, I have plenty of faith in humanity (sarcasm). I just hope I'm alive long enough to when we nuke one another and destroy the world so I can see it.

That cracked me up. Also, worth noting that refueling on oranges and bananas after a little over eight miles really hit the spot and prevented any chances of bonking. I love oranges especially. They've become one of my top foods in ultras or any long run.

Ran 21.2 miles @ 9:40/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 139/161
Trails, very muddy.
Very hilly.
Mid 40s to mid 50s, partly cloudy, breezy.
Brooks Cascadia 3, shorts, short sleeved shirts, Moeben sleeves (rolled down after three or so miles).

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Tempo Run at the Back Cove

Got in a pretty good tempo workout this evening at the Back Cove in Portland. Ran two laps for a bit over seven miles. The goal was to have my average pace be less than seven minutes a mile, so mission accomplished. I felt I went out a bit too fast for the first two miles, but then settled down a bit for the next two, then picked it up for the rest at a faster but more comfortable pace. Much better to warm up first and then pick up the pace, so I was being stupid.

1- 6:47
2 -6:47
3 -7:03
4 -7:10
5 -6:53
6 -6:53
7 -6:43
(last .2) - 6:53/mile pace.

Earlier in the day I had toyed with idea of doing three laps at a sub-7 pace, but I felt two was adequate and I knew I probably wouldn't be able to hold the pace much beyond that at this point. I felt bad because I started earlier and ended earlier than I had anticipated and as a result Chuck showed up just as I had finished (we had agreed to meet there a little after 5pm). He assured me it was no problem and while he ran I went and got sushi at Whole Foods. Chuck finished his run and left to meet me there, but alas I had just left again as he arrived. You see, this is the only way I can beat Chuck, as it won't happen when running.

However, we met up at Maine Running Company shortly thereafter (along with other Trail Monster runners Ian, Jim, Blaine and Scott) for a talk by Dr. Jamie Raymond on barefoot running. Dr. Raymond played an intricate part in helping me get on the path to curing my plantar fasciitis last year... very smart guy and very down to earth. He did a great job at explaining the mechanics of barefoot running vs. shoe running, as well as other related topics, to several dozen runners. Great clinic!

Ran 7.2 miles @ 6:54/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 163/174
Packed trails.
Slightly hilly.
Upper 40s, partly cloudy.
Asics GT-2120 (heelless), shorts, long sleeved shirt (sleeves pushed up after a mile or two).

Monday, November 16, 2009

Slow Start, Stronger Finish

Ran the Hansen's Ridge Loop from the school, and the first two and a half miles going uphill felt tough. The headwind didn't help much either. The pace was okay, but it still seemed like more work than it should have been.

However, things felt like they clicked into place a little better on the downhills... not so much because gravity and the wind were on my side, which did help, but I was also warmed up.

Tomorrow will be a day off, since it's parent-teacher conference night and it will be a 13 hour day. This will be made tougher if I follow through with my plans of waking up at 3am to watch the meteor shower.

Ran 7.1 miles @ 7:37/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 156/174
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Mid 50s, sunny.
Asics GT-2140, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Wakefield Loop

Ran the Wakefield Loop from my place today. It's a road route with slight hills that makes for an easy, short run. Was nice to see George who honked and waved as he drove by. He and his wife Ann are the only other trail runners I know of in our little rural town of Waterboro.

Soleus muscles still felt sore, but not too bad.

Ran 4.6 miles @ 7:45/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 153/164
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Lower to mid-50s, mostly cloudy, drizzling.
Asics GT-2140, shorts, short sleeved shirt, Moeben sleeves.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sore Soleus Muscles

I begrudgingly took the past two days off to allow my calf and soleus muscles to heal up. The longish barefoot beach run on Wednesday really gave them a hard workout, something I didn't realize until the next morning.

Today was a good test run, and I determined that the calves feel fine but the soleus muscles still need a few more days to heal up. Nothing bad, they're just really sore. So very light and slow running the next few days. Hopefully by mid-week I'll be ready to pick up the pace again.

Run was a fun one today... ran with Ian, Jim, Shauna, Lilly and Dom. Great company as always and we beat the rain.

Ran 7.1 miles @ 8:52/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 147/168
Very hilly.
Mid 40s, overcast.
Brooks Cascadia 3, shorts, short sleeved shirt, Moeben sleeves (rolled down after 4 or 5 miles).

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Zen Barefoot Beach Run

I can usually tell after the first mile how a run is going to go. Sometimes I'm wrong, though. I might start off feeling great and then bonk out, or I may begin feeling sluggish and then things click into place after I warm up. But most of the time I can pretty much tell how things will pan out, whether it'll be a fast run done easily, a fast run that is work, a slow run that will go well and give me longer distance, a run where I may not make it the distance, and so on and so forth.

Today I felt it was going to be a great run. It wouldn't be fast, or particularly long, but enjoyable with the energy sustaining nicely throughout. And I was right. As a result, I decided to extend the eight miles to ten... but then with the Saco River jetty being so close, what the heck, might as well go the distance and do the whole stretch. I made it to the jetty, climbed up it, enjoyed the view for a few moments and then made my way back.

Today's run was done barefoot, my longest one to date. While it wasn't as warm today as it has been the past couple of days, it was warm enough and splashing through the shoreline at times was fun. And, I practically had the whole beach to myself.

Ran 12.7 miles @ 8:51/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 138/152
Beach with packed sand.
Very flat.
Mid 40s to around 50, mostly cloudy turning to partly cloudy, breezy.
Barefoot, shorts, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt, beanie.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Recovery Run

Normally I might take today off given yesterday's run, but the weather was too nice and I decided to get in a short recovery run instead. With it being ridiculously warm for this time of year, running barefoot was a no-brainer. Days like this are definitely numbered.

Felt good to loosen things up during the run. Tomorrow will be a day off though. Also feel a potential cold coming on, so good timing to have a rest day.

Ran 3.3 miles @ 8:34/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 136/142
Grassy fields.
Very flat.
Upper 60s, partly sunny.
Barefoot, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Shortened Run at Pineland

Awesome weather made it an especially great day for a run. Met up with Stephen, Jim, Lilly, Al and Nicole at Pineland Farms to hit the trails. Cool to start with temps in the upper 30s, but by the time we were done it was already near 60.

I had planned on 20 miles, but decided to cut it a little short. Reason was simple enough: hunger. My dinner last night was light and so was my breakfast this morning, and by mile 10 I was starving. A Gu at that point helped for a few miles, but by mile 13 I was really hungry again, and now my pace was dropping. So after second loop, the call of a chocolate milk and a cinnamon scone at the Visitor's Center was too enticing and I called it a day.

I'm a little disappointed at not getting in the 20 miles, but not a big deal. I'm still making good progress overall. I'll get there, and next time I try to go long, eating a bit more properly should help.

Ran 16.4 miles @ 9:23/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 142/163
Very hilly.
Upper 30s to upper 50s, sunny.
Brooks Cascadia 3, shorts, short sleeved shirt, Moeben sleeves (rolled down after six miles).

Friday, November 06, 2009

Five is Good

I had considered doing more miles today, but decided last night it would be better to take it easier since I plan on doing a long run on Sunday. I've gotten in a few runs into the mid-teens since the comeback from injury, and feel ready for a 20 miler. However, I don't want to overdue this week's total mileage, so just doing a little over five today made more sense. Not being stupid about pushing things much has been paying off, so no need to buck the trend.

Tomorrow I likely won't run since I'm volunteering at the Stonecat 50. Several friends are running it, including my Trail Monster Running buds Ian, Chuck (both doing the 50-miler) and Mindy (doing the trail marathon). Good luck guys!

Ran 5.2 miles @ 7:35/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 152/164
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Mid 40s, partly cloudy, breezy.
Asics GT2140, shorts, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Altered Gaits

One nice thing about running barefoot and in shoes with the heels sawed off is that I've kind of relearned how to run. Even when wearing normal shoes, I naturally remember and my gait is still the way it should be... no heel striking and landing on the forefoot. It's nice, and just feels more efficient and natural.

I would just wear the heelless shoes all of the time with road runs, but they do tend to make my shin splints flair up a little on some runs, so I've just been wearing them here and there but still getting good results. I think a good solution will be to get some lower profile shoes, like racing flats, for the winter. My friend Chuck has been bouncing some good suggestions off of me, and I'd like to pick some up soon.

Anyway, had five on the agenda today. Went too fast. Tried to slow down a few times, but my mental discipline sucked. Would have been better to be about :30/mile slower and hit tomorrow's hill workout harder. Will just run that slower instead.

Ran 5.0 miles @ 7:18/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 156/169
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Upper 30s, overcast, very light rain.
Asics GT2120 (heelless), shorts, windbreaker (shed after 1.6 miles), long sleeved shirt.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Shaw's Ridge

Ran a slightly abbreviated version of the Shaw's Ridge loop. The climb up to the ridge isn't that bad, but then there's a sharp downhill followed by a sharper uphill that always sucks the wind out of me.

Felt the effects of yesterday's run, which is a good thing. Nice to know the legs are getting a bit of a beat down.

Scheduled rest day tomorrow.

Ran 6.5 miles @ 7:40/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 154/168
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Mid 50s, partly sunny.
Asics GT-2140, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Hansen Ridge Loop

With the high school XC season pretty much over, I can focus on my own running now. It was nice to be able to run the Hansen Ridge Loop from the school again. The fun part about this route is that you run uphill the first 2.5 miles, with the incline getting steeper until you get to the top. After that, it's a steep downhill, followed by a less drastic uphill, then a rolling dowhill to the finish.

I was actually happy to run on roads and not trails today for two reasons: A) it's hunting season. B) My toe would be happy not to kick any rocks. Felt great today, and was glad my toe felt fine while running.

I've been getting in a lot of quality runs the past few weeks. However, the quantity has been lacking. Hope to pick that up now that I have a bit more free time. My goal is still to work up to just doing 40-50 miles a week, maintain that when the snow starts flying and supplement it with equal time XC skate skiing.

Ran 7.1 miles @ 7:23/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 159/172
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Upper 40s, partly cloudy.
Asics GT-2140, shorts, long sleeved shirt (sleeves pushed up after a few miles), short sleeved shirt.