Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Exploration and Wear Patterns

Was able to run here from the school in between two meetings this afternoon, which was nice. Decided to explore a new route, just for the sake of something new. Route was okay, but might be a bit problematic once the snow starts accumulating, given the narrow roads. But still might do this one from time to time when conditions allow. Nice hills on this route also.

Heart rate monitor was acting erratic again the first mile and change but then settled down and worked perfectly. Going to experiment with wetting the strap down more on both sides to cut down on static. Have read that the Polaris soft strap works much better and is compatible with the snap-button detachable main unit of the Garmin Premium strap, so if I continue to get aggravated I may go that route. Too bad Garmin hasn't gotten that right yet, especially given the prices they charge for their "Premium" strap. :-/ The Garmin 410 itself continues to perform very well though and I'm very happy with it.

Worth noting that now that I'm getting close to 100 miles running with the Brooks Mach 11 shoes, I've noticed a wear pattern on the bottoms that is pleasing to see. Right on the center forefoot, and no wear whatsoever on the heels. Pretty impossible to heel strike in these shoes, at least not without great discomofort.

Ran 6.8 miles @ 7:42/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 149/167
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Lower-mid 40s, overcast.
Brooks Mach 11, shorts, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Gamut Loop

Technical, hilly trails coated with a dusting of snow to flat, wide abandoned railroad beds to paved and dirt roads and everything in between. This loop has it all. I've mountain biked this route several times, but think I've only run it once or twice before. Fun loop.

Kept the pace very easy. I'm already far exceeding my original plan of keeping my mileage in the 15-20 mile week range until Christmas. Doubled it, in fact (39.3 miles for the week). I think the original plan is a bit overly cautious though, and would just lead to a longer ramp up time for the Boston Marathon training cycle. Doing 30-40 miles a week of mostly easy runs should still minimize injury potential while maintaining a better level of fitness.

Speaking of fitness, my heart rate data was very suspicious this morning. Check it out:

Powered by RunningAHEAD.com

There's no way my HR was that high the first two miles. I thought at first it might be a reaction to the cold while I was warming up, but I don't think so. I would have felt it. And note the spike just after mile four. I stopped for a second there and wetted the contacts, and that seemed to solve it. From then on out looks right on par.

In all fairness, the cool and very dry air probably had a lot to do with it. And I never sweated much during this run, so my skin remained dry. I'll experiment with being more adamant with keeping the contact points a bit wet so better contact is made.

Regardless, a very good run. Nice to enjoy the morning quiet of the woods and countryside.

Ran 8.6 miles @ 9:14/mile.
AHR/MHR - 138/170* - see above notes
Technical trails coated in dusting of snow, easy trails, dirt roads, paved roads.
Very hilly.
Mid 20s to lower 30s, sunny.
Adidas Adizero XT, long pants, fleece jacket, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Pineland Farms

Fun run today at Pineland Farms with the gang. Had I have known the trails were consistently coated with sleet and snow, I might have opted to wear my Adidas Adizero XTs if I had brought them. But the minimalistic shoes I'm testing out still performed just fine.

Was really nice to see Jeff running again, as he's bouncing back from a stress fracture. Homeboy played it very smart, stopping at just over three miles and walking back to the parking lot, per his plan for easing back into it. He'll be back in no time.

We did the longer side in it's entirety, and then Ian, Blaine and I hit the other side of the road to tack on a couple more miles to bring us into double digit mileage for the day. Good day. We all just kept the pace easy and enjoyed the trails.

Afterwards, coffee and treats at the visitor center before heading our separate ways home. Stopped at Trader Joe's on the way back, and I think I've now accumulated enough food from there to last me until Christmas.

Ran 10.3 miles @ 8:53/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 144/173
Trails, coated with sleet.
Very hilly.
Mid 20s to mid 30s, sunny.
X-shoes, long pants, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Bangor City Forest

Up in Bangor with Kate for Thanksgiving, and had a chance to head over to the Bangor City Forest this morning before the Thanksgiving feast gets under way. I pulled into a very full parking lot at around 8:15am, and walked over to a table where two people were standing around. They asked if I was there for the race. A race? I replied no, and asked when it started. Fifteen minutes ago was the reply. Oh well. I was actually glad, I wanted today to be at an easy pace, the race would have been too tempting.

However, they had trail maps for the race, and I glanced at one and figured out my route. Hit the West, East and Deer trails to get in a bit under six miles. Really neat trails here, with the added bonus of no hunting allowed. The trails I were on were very tame and well groomed, but several side trails offered plenty of technical single track, but I just stuck to the main ones.

Really fun little run. As I type this I'm starving, which is all part of my master plan. You see, I purposely skipped breakfast, did my run, and will be able to commit full acts of gluttony when we eat here in a few hours and watch the Patriots whip the Lions butts.

Ran 5.8 miles @ 8:23/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 135/154
Well groomed trails.
Slightly hilly.
Lower to mid 20s, sunny.
Adidas Adizero XT, long pants, windbreaker, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pie, Hills and Wind

The above picture is how I spent part of my morning. Time well spent, and time will be even better spent consuming this fine, homemade apple pie tomorrow for Thanksgiving. It's made by following a top-secret recipe I found on the internet.

Once that was out of the oven and set out to cool, I headed out for a run on a hilly, 10 mile loop from my house. The second run with the Garmin 410 went great. I experimented with the Auto-Scroll setting, which switches data screens every few seconds once the run starts. You can also pick the speed and I figured the medium setting would be a good start.

I wasn't sure if the Auto-Scroll would annoy me or not, but I actually found it useful and liked it. I have it switching between two screens: one shows the chronograph, lap pace (set at one mile), and distance. The other shows a HR zone graph, current HR, and average HR. That seemed to be just fine and dandy, so I think I'll leave this feature on for at least a while.

Run itself went great. Chilly and windy out, but given that I haven't seen the sun in several days, I found the brightness to be invigorating and got in a good run. The first few miles were a bit slow, but as I warmed up the pace quickened. Almost a true progression run, aided by having the wind at my back for the final few miles.

Ran 10.0 miles @ 7:44/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 151/164
HR Zone - 3.7
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Upper 30s, sunny, windy.
Saucony Kinvara, long pants, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

You can see a couple of spikes in the beginning of the above HR graph, but I suspect that's the result of me adjusting the strap while running. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Garmin Forerunner 410 - First Impressions

Came home to find the brown truck delivered my Garmin 410. Sweet! This is much needed. I'm a stats geek, especially with my running. So when my Garmin 305 kicked the bucket a few months ago, it was tough to go without it but I wanted to wait until the the 410 came out and see what the initial reviews had to say about it. They were favorable, so I went ahead and ordered it.

So, why the Garmin 410 and not the 310XT or even another 305? Well, while I loved the 305, my only real complaint was it's durability. The average life span seems to be about 18 months... maybe 24 months if you're lucky... with regular use. My first one lasted about 18 months and the second factory refurbished one started to slowly kick the bucket at around the same lifespan mark before finally dying a few months later.

And why not the 310XT? Well, the crazy long battery life (20+ hours, the 410 is listed at 8 hours, but in reality reports indicate around 7) of the 310XT is definitely a huge selling point and the people I've spoken to who own them are very happy with them. But, for ultras and long mountain runs, I've always been fine with going off a stopwatch and taking splits on laps or peaks when I already know the distance. Sure, that battery life to allow the GPS to run would be pretty neat to have while running the Pemi Loop, but I really don't care about tracking my mile splits when doing such things. I can just turn the GPS off and still use this one for those activities.

Also, the design of the 310XT just seems too much like the 305 in terms of build. Just makes me wonder if it's as fragile as the 305, but the jury is still out on that. It's obvious the circuitry has to be substantially different for the 410 given the smaller and sleeker design, so hopefully it's more durable as well. (speaking of smaller and sleeker, it's small enough to wear as a normal wrist watch and you can turn off the GPS, which saves the battery and puts it in watch mode, showing just time and date).

So, the 410 looks to provide everything I'll need with splits, distances, and all of the other quantitative data that I love having records of, including having a working heart rate monitor again. The new premium soft strap is really comfortable. I never had any problems with the old one, but this one definitely feels nice. No problems with HR spikes on this first run, an issue some people have reported.

Only thing that is taking some getting used to here in the early onset is the bezel. As I mentioned before, it apparently works much better in moisture than the 405, but it's just simply getting used to operating the bezel instead of buttons. I'm getting the hang of it though, and kind of like it.

The wireless ANT technology to upload data to the web was a really easy set-up and works great. Nice feature.

As for the run, it went great. I picked up the pace a little today and felt just fine doing so. Nice to drop the hammer a bit, first time hitting a tempo pace since the two marathons this month and last month. And, really nice to actually know my mile splits again during the run. Ahhhhh...

Ran 4.6 miles @ 6:58/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 162/179
Paved roads.
Mostly flat.
Lower 40s, overcast, foggy.
Brooks Mach 11, shorts, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, refl. vest, beanie (shed half way through).

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Rejuvenating Trail Run

After yesterday's craptastic run, today was most welcome. Hit the trails behind my house and got in a very pleasant run. The morning calm combined with the chilly air provided an inviting ambience that was really enjoyable. Good mix of technical trails and fire roads, but still kept the pace slow on the easier sections.

Really enjoying the shoes I'm testing out for a certain company. I think it's safe to say they are pretty similar to the New Balance Minimus trail shoes (but no, it's not them). I feel more comfortable with the protection they provide compared to the Vibram Five Fingers, but they still maintain a tremendous amount of flexibility and a low profile. Love the fit also. Great product.

Ran 7.7 miles @ 9:03/mile pace.
Trails and fire roads.
Very hilly.
Upper 20s to around 30, sunny.
X-shoes, long pants, windbreaker, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Wakefield Loop

Just wasn't feeling very peppy today and I'm surprised my pace was what it was. No biggie though, just one of those down days. No hunting on Sundays in Maine, so I think a trail run in the woods out back tomorrow will do me some good mentally.

Ran 4.6 miles @ 7:55/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Mostly flat.
Lower to mid 30s, mostly cloudy to sunny.
Brooks Mach 11, long pants, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Horse

Took the pace easy as I didn't really feel too motivated to run today. Did a hilly route from the school and after a long climb to the top of a ridge, I ran by one of the farms. A horse trotted over to the fence and ended up running beside me for a bit. That was pretty neat. Afterwards, I had more of a hey-it's-nice-to-be-out kind of feeling.

Colder air has also moved in, so it felt much more seasonable out there today, which I liked. Almost didn't pack my windbreaker this morning, but I was glad I did. 

Ran 7.1 miles @ 7:58/mile pace. 
Paved roads. 
Very hilly. 
Upper to mid 40s, sunny, windy. 
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, cap. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


My Garmin 305 died again after coming back to life briefly on Sunday. Easy come, easy go. Will upgrade very soon though.

Today's run went well. Calves were a little sore from running more miles than I had planned in minimalist shoes last Sunday, but nothing bad and I handled running in flats today just fine. Took the pace very easy at first but kicked it in on the last mile.

If I get in a run tomorrow, it'll be short. If not, no big deal. Still want to play things chilled out for the next month and change before I start training seriously for Boston after Christmas.

Ran 5.0 miles @ 7:39/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Lower 50s, overcast.
Brooks Mach 11, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


First off, big thanks to my friends Ryan and Danielle for hosting several of us at their place to go running on some nearby trails at the Cathance River Nature Preserve, followed by pancakes, bacon, coffee, and assorted other goodies. Very gracious of them to open their home to us and it was a real blast, and as always I really enjoyed their company as well as the other Trail Monsters. I'm so lucky to have such an awesome group of folks to run with on a regular basis!

That was a guaranteed good time, but what made it even sweeter was an unexpected event that occurred a few miles into the trails. Even though it no longer had even been looking for satellites, I had been using my Garmin Forerunner 305 as a stopwatch. This had been working out okay as along as I stuck to routes I knew the mileage of and could calculate my pace afterwards.

A few miles into the run, I looked down at it and noticed it had started taking mileage readings again! This occurred 2.4 miles into the run, based on looking at other folks Garmins. I'm guessing a loose connection somewhere had been somehow corrected and it's now reading the satellites again. Sweet. Don't know how long it'll last, but I still plan on picking up a Garmin 410 soon.

I also ran in the minimal shoes I'm testing for a certain company (I've been asked to keep things somewhat quiet since they're in the test phase). My longest run in them so far, and over some pretty technical and muddy terrain and I was really impressed with them. Good product.

Went longer than I had planned today (which was around five miles), but the pace was slow and several stops were made because we had a big group, which helps justify the mileage. Felt great overall, but tomorrow will be a rest day as scheduled.

Ran 8.3 miles @ 14:22/mile pace (includes several stops).
Technical trails.
Moderately hilly.
Mid to upper 40s, partly cloudy.
X-shoes, shorts, long sleeved shirt, cap.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Back From a Week Off

Felt really great to run again after taking the last week off to give the body some rest. No ill effects from the two recent marathons, just some general light rust and creakiness that is to be expected from not running for a full week.

Took the pace easy and just enjoyed the run. Unusually warm out today. Yeah, yeah, real nice and all but I want the snow to fly. My Rossignol's are itching to skate on some well groomed trails.

Ran 4.6 miles @ 8:03/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Mostly flat.
Upper 50s, sunny.
Brooks Mach 11, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Future Reflections

The decision to take this week off from running, though wise, is still driving me a bit nuts. I'm anxious to run again, and the challenge will be sticking to my plan of 15-20 mile weeks through December to give the body some rest to reduce the chance of injuries.

Then it'll be time to ramp up the training for Boston while squeezing in a good amount of Nordic skiing. That'll be fun, and I've also been trying to map out my race schedule for 2011. As of now, I'm thinking of the following for marathons and ultras:

4/18 - Boston Marathon
5/29 - Pineland Farms 25K or 50K
10/16 - Mt. Desert Island Marathon

I would love to do the 50K (or 50 miler for that matter) for Pineland, but the 25k option might make more sense. I'm weary about doing too much.

Also, I'd like to do several shorter distance races like I did last summer when preparing for MDI, such as the Bradbury Mt. Trail Running series. I really, really enjoyed that training cycle which allowed me to incorporate that series and a few other races into my regiment. I just had a blast with all of that last summer and it worked out really well, so why not do something similar again?

But looking closer to the present, the winter training cycle will be a bit more of a challenge. The tracks will be covered in snow, so I'll have to be a bit more creative. Also, I really fell in love with skate skiing last winter, and would like to continue to do that and even enter a few more Nordic races, but I also want to train for Boston pretty seriously. Boston training gets priority for sure, but still not sure exactly how I'll balance those two just yet, but at least they are complimentary to one another.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Stone Cat 50-Mile Marathon Report

The Stone Cat races feature a 50-mile race and also a marathon across some great trails down in Ipswich, MA. However, if you are running the 50, you have the option of dropping down to the marathon at mile 25 by letting them know and then you run a 1.2 mile loop.

I decided to take advantage of this today, and am really happy I did. I don't regret it one bit. In fact, the only thing I do regret is not just signing up for the marathon from the beginning. 

Why? Simple. I put enormous pressure on myself to qualify for Boston at the MDI Marathon 20 days ago. I came, I saw and I kicked ass. But for this race, I didn't feel any such pressure and had nothing to prove. I had no real goals and was not in my usual competitive mindset. I just wanted to have fun.  

And fun I had. I ran the first 12.5 mile loop with my buddy Chuck. We chatted through most of it and finished that leg in just under two hours. Not bad, given we were running under headlamps for a good chunk of it. Trails were pretty wet and slippery given the rain and fallen leaves, and a section of the trail that goes through a bog was underwater, so I wouldn't exactly call it fast conditions. Still, we finished the first loop in 1:57.

I noticed, however, that getting that first loop in under two hours was a touch harder than I had hoped. Then, about a mile into the second loop, I noticed my calves were starting to feel pretty tight, and the left one was threatening to cramp up. I began to think that maybe doing the drop down option was a logical choice, but would wait and see. 

I ran along and not much changed. I hemmed and hawed about going on for the 50-miler or just settling for the marathon. Inevitably though, I would come back to the notion that I had nothing to prove with this race and the goal was supposed to be to just have fun. Just didn't feel competitive at all. 

And let's face it, I'm pretty injury prone. A lot of that stems from trying to do too much. Sooooo.... What the hell am I doing trying to run 50 miles just 20 days after a marathon where I left nothing on the course? Yeah, totally cool with dropping down to the marathon. If I had continued with the 50, I don't think I'd be having much fun anymore, especially with no real goals in mind.

So, I wrapped it up with doing that 1.2 mile loop. In doing so, I saw my friend Danielle coming in just ahead of me. She did great! And, my good friend Neighbor Kate also completed her first marathon! She worked really hard for it and did great, despite being sick. Valerie also did great, as did George (50-miler) and Anne. 

I was happy to finish the race and was in a great mood afterwards. Yep, right decision and no regrets. I really had a blast today. I was super stoked for my friends that did well, and was really happy to see and hang out with other running friends and acquaintances that I typically only see at races.  Also nice to meet new folks, including one fellow (sorry, I forget the name) from Natick, MA who said he regularly reads my blog. Why, good sir, you do so is beyond me, but thank you and it was nice meeting you. 

The future? Well, I'm going to go forward with my plan of extremely light running until January. This means just 15-20 miles a week until then, but for this week I don't plan to run again at all until the weekend. Bodies need breaks, pure and simple. I plan on focusing on really strengthening my core during this time by stepping up the ab and upper body workouts. Then I'll crank up the training again in January to prepare for Boston.

Ran 26.2 miles in 4:14:25 (9:42/mile pace). 
Technical trails. 
Moderately hilly. 
Lower to mid 40s, overcast. 
Adidas Adizero XT, shorts, sleeveless shirt, Moeben Sleeves (half the time).

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Beating the Rain

Supposed to get soaking rains later today through tomorrow, so I was glad to unexpectedly get in an early morning run, due to waking up earlier than my alarm. Pretty short and uneventful, which is good. Nice to run in the cool, 24 degree temps.

Tomorrow will be a rest day. Saturday, the Stone Cat 50. Continue to feel good about the race, but at the same time, not nervous or pressured with any goals that are of real importance to me. I'll still do my best, but I really don't care much what happens and just want to have fun out there. Break eight hours? Hey, cool. Having a bad day, something goes wrong and I finish in over 10 hours? Ah, so what. Just gonna enjoy the ride.

Ran 3.1 miles @ 7:47/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 20s, partly clear skies.
Brooks Mach 11, long pants, windbreaker, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt, refl. vest, beanie, gloves.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Short and Sweet

Had originally planned on a few miles more today and slower, but opted for shorter and faster. Ran with our top high school XC runner during his warmup, which worked out well. I wanted to get some faster turnover going in my legs anyway, so this was a good opportunity to do so.

Good tempo pace, but less than two miles so nothing overly done for keeping the legs fresh for the Stone Cat 50 on Saturday. Feeling good about the race. Forecast is now calling for 2"-3" of rain tomorrow and Friday, so no doubt the course will be quite muddy. I'll run in my Adidas Adizero XTs, which have very good grip in the mud. Should be fun!

Ran 1.9 miles @ 6:37/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Mostly flat.
Mid-40s, partly cloudy.
Brooks Mach 11, shorts, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Seven in the Afternoon Sun

Really bright outside this afternoon, with deep blue, cloudless skies that contrasted with the cooler air. Despite that ideal setting, I felt a bit sluggish at first, primarily from lack of sleep last night. Stomach was also a bit gurgily.

Still nothing bad though. Stomach settled down and once I was more warmed up, the energy started to return and I kicked it in a bit more on the last few miles. Good run.

Weather is looking interesting for Stone Cat 50 this weekend. Looks like a good amount of rain the day or two before the race and we could get some more rain on race day. It'll be cool and muddy, which will be a lot of fun! Will make a warm shower feel all the more nicer afterwards.

Ran 7.1 miles @ 7:42/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Upper 40s, sunny.
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt.