Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Comes to a Close

I woke up with leg muscles so sore and tight, it felt as if trolls had beaten them with clubs in vengeance for breaking one of their mysterious laws of which us humans know little about. However, the reality is they are just sore from the past two days of XC skiing. I think the result of this soreness was more from the first half of the first day where my technique was REALLY off and my legs worked much harder than they should have, or so I like to tell myself.

However, despite this, I mused my legs were sore from skiing, not running. They were sore in areas they normally aren't, so it was probably okay to still run if I took it easy. I had some bailout points along the route to cut it short if needed, but my theory that I would be okay because the muscles were being used differently proved to be more or less correct. Run went well, and kept the pace easy which helped loosen things up.

So with that, training and racing in 2010 is done. Aside from the stress fracture last spring, it was a pretty good year with plenty of successes, especially qualifying for Boston. The injury took a dent in my running totals, but all in all not bad:

2010 Totals
Running = 1522.7 miles
Nordic Skiing = 127.9 kilometers
Mountain Biking = 306.9 miles

Hopefully 2011 will be injury free and full of even more successes and big fun. Hope it's the same for anyone reading this as well.

Today's totals:
Ran 10.3 miles @ 8:05/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 137/148
Paved roads, a few patches of slush.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 40s, partly sunny.
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves (shed halfway).

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Winter Fun in Maine

I awoke this morning feeling the effects of yesterday's skate ski session. My gluts, hammies and quads were all pretty sore. It felt as if I ran a 15 miler hard and I began to question my plan of skiing again today and following it up with a trail run, but wanted to take advantage of the skiing before it thaws out with the upcoming wave of warmth and I still need to get my running in. So, I compromised and told myself I'd take it easy on both. 

I started out on the Joe Buzzell trail at Harris Farm and noticed the trails were much more packed down and firm. No doubt getting into the single digits last night helped with that some. Much faster than yesterday. I soon noticed I was skiing much more efficiently and moving faster with greater ease, which was awesome. Probably took half the amount of breaks as yesterday also. The trail conditions no doubt helped with that some, but I also think I kicked off a lot of rust yesterday. Despite sore legs, I felt comfortable and was moving great (for me). 

I had planned on maybe getting in five or six kilometers today but got in about the same as yesterday, which was close to ten, since I was feeling so comfortable out there. Was really, really happy with how I did today. Feels like I'm at the point I was towards the end of the season last year, which is good news as I have the whole season to build on. Hopefully, we'll get some more snow soon though. Looks like the trails could be unskiable by the weekend the way the weather forecast is looking. 

Skate skied 9.8 kilometers @ 11.0 kph/avg. 
AHR/MHR - 148/163
Trails, packed and moderately fast. 
Moderately hilly. 
Lower 20s to lower 30s, sunny. 
Long pants, windbreaker (shed halfway), long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves. 

I came home, ate lunch, and rested a bit before heading out on the snowmobile trails in the woods out back about an hour or so later. The snowmobiles had packed the trails down a good amount overall, but it was still pretty soft though it could have been much worse. Run went well. Kept the pace easy and just enjoyed being out in the woods.

Converted my Adidas Adizero XT trail shoes to screw shoes last night. Ran in these puppies today and they did great. Granted, it was more snowy and not a lot of ice which is where screw shoes really shine, but they did their job and performed nicely.

Ran 5.6 miles @ 9:47/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 142/159
Snowmobile trails, moderately soft snow pack.
Very hilly.
Upper 30s, sunny.
Adidas Adizero XT (screwed), long pants, windbreaker, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves (shed halfway).

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Nordic Time!!!

While I was in Florida, a blizzard hit back home in Maine. I began to drool as thoughts of skate skiing danced in my brain. That was multiplied when I saw the local Nordic center, Harris Farm, got enough snow and was now open for skiing.

I got back yesterday in the late afternoon, so I hit Harris Farm this morning and purchased my season pass. I was giddy with excitement. I just picked up this sport last year and had a complete blast with it.

It's funny, because while I do relatively well at running, I suck at XC skiing. Case in point for purposes of comparison only: I finished 40th overall place at the MDI Marathon in October and was in the top 5%. At a Nordic race late in the season last year, I finished third from last and worked my butt off for it. Folks, this sport is tough. Raw athleticism will only carry one so far (maybe 10 feet) and technique is so crucial in this sport which is why I think it's so much fun. Combine great athleticism with great technique, and you have guys that can do this:

Flipping amazing. This sport is just awesome. It's challenging, gets your heart rate jacked and it's simply a blast.

Anyway, back to this morning. The trails were pretty good, considering it was only the first real snow of the season. Conditions were a bit soft because the trails aren't as packed down yet, and also it got a bit warm today. Still, it was great.

I was definitely a bit rusty, especially at first, which was to be expected. Biggest rust was felt when V2-ing up the hills. But overall I fared better than I thought I would. Glad the season is underway. Looks like it's going to continue to warm up going into the weekend, and we might even get some rain (WTF?!), but hopefully another blast of snow isn't too far off.

Skate skied 9.7 km @ 9.8 kph/avg.
AHR/MHR - 148/167* (took several breaks)
Trails, soft and a bit slow.
Very hilly.
Upper 20s to lower 30s, sunny.
Long pants, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Step Back

A combination of holiday foods, travel and perhaps the effects of ramping up the mileage the past few weeks led to a feeling of starting to crash. Took a rest day yesterday and just ran a very light Zone Two run this morning around the golf course near my Mum's house. Tomorrow will also be a rest day as I travel back home to Maine.

Stepping back is never easy. One wants to continue to push the mileage and the ego resists the logical choice of taking it easy for a few days to let the body rebound. Whenever I do though, I'm always rewarded for playing it smart.

Ran 5.0 miles @ 8:55/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 126/139
Paved roads, golf cart paths.
Slightly hilly.
Upper 20s to lower 30s, sunny.
Saucony Kinvara, long pants, windbreaker, long sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! Ran from my Dad's house to my Mum's house this afternoon. I felt like poop. Too many Christmas cookies and too much BBQ the past few days. Greatly altered diet and my heavy loads of fruits, veggies and whole grains have been absent and I'm paying the price. Oh well, tis the season.

Ran 7.0 miles @ 7:52/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 146/161
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Around 70 degrees, partly sunny, humid.
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, short sleeved shirt, handheld water bottle.

Friday, December 24, 2010

When Armadillos Attack

Went out to the San Felasco Hammock here in Gainesville with my brother for a trail run. Armadillos were everywhere. We saw one about every half mile.

About four miles in, I was pointing one out to my brother at one point when I heard a pretty loud "wump". I turned around to see my brother (a rather brawny fellow) bite the dust. A split second later, I heard the leaves move in the area of the armadillo, and as I turned in that direction, I saw the gray blur of the little bastard charging right at me. I suspect this was a result of stupidity and poor eyesight by the critter, not aggression. I danced out of the way and he slightly altered his path of trajectory and disappeared into the brush.

My brother had had enough at that point (it was his second time rolling an ankle and falling) and he opted to walk the mile and a half back while I ran on. I did the loop again, picking up the pace a bit since I was alone. Good run.

Ran 11.3 miles @ 8:46/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 133/158
Slightly hilly.
Around 60 degrees, sunny.
X-shoes, shorts, short sleeved shirt, hand-held water bottle.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Hometown Run

Back home for Christmas in Gainesville, FL. It's great to be home, but today's run was odd. Energy was good and legs felt fresh, but breathing rhythm was very off and as a result the heart rate was around 5 bpm higher than normal. I suspect four hours of driving and three and a half hours of flying along with a different diet and sleep deprivation had a lot to do with it.

Will get a good night's sleep tonight and back at'em tomorrow.

Ran 6.2 miles @ 7:33/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 151/164
Paved roads.
Moderately hilly
Upper to mid 50s, sunny.
Brooks Mach 11, shorts, long sleeved shirt.

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Running Around Aimlessly

Ran around the town I teach in with no concrete route or pace in mind. That was kind of fun. Pretty uneventful and felt pretty good. Almost didn't run today out of sheer laziness but I was glad I did, especially given things will be a bit haphazard with Christmas approaching.

Ran 7.8 miles @ 7:29/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 148/161
Paved roads.
Moderately hilly.
Around 40 degrees, partly sunny, windy.
Brooks Mach 11, tights, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Monday, December 20, 2010

My Review of the Garmin Forerunner 410

I've owned the Garmin Forerunner 410 for nearly a month now. As of this posting, I've run with it close to two dozen times and have gained a bit more insight since I last wrote an initial impressions review several weeks ago. I've been getting quite a few requests to do a more in depth review and I'm happy to share my thoughts, so here they are:

Running with Garmins - A Brief History
Several years ago I owned the uber-blocky Foreunner 201 that was a bit like running with a TV remote control strapped to your wrist. It was bulky and uncomfortable, but it was so nice knowing my distance and pace when out running... at least when it worked. Maintaining a satellite lock was often a problem with this model especially when trail running, but since not many other options were available at the time, most of us were forced to live with it.

Then the 205/305 series came out and I purchased the 305. Compared to the 201, it was much more ergonomic and also performed a bazillion times better. It acquired satellites no problem through heavy tree cover, which was a godsend for us trail runners.

I really liked the 305. It was more comfortable, accurate, easier to customize and easier to use than the 201. However, about 18 months in, mine kicked the bucket. Given the price I paid at the time, I was not happy. However, for a little less than $100, Garmin exchanged my broken one for a factory refurbished one and it performed well for another 18 months. At that point, it slowly started to fade, and finally, early this autumn it died. RIP little Garmin. I was happy with your service, but not your short life span.

Enter the 410
During my three and a half year stint with using the 305, Garmin released several other running GPS models, including the 405. It promised the same stellar GPS locking performance as the 305, but was smaller, sleeker and featured a nifty new bezel design that turned out to be not-so-nifty according to reports from many users. Apparently when the watch is wet with sweat and/or rain, or your fingertips are wet, the bezel reportedly doesn't work well, if at all, for many people. I thought that was a bummer since I liked the design. It actually looked like a watch as opposed to some ginormous science fiction gadget, which was appealing.

So, when word came out that Garmin was releasing the 410, essentially an upgraded version of the 405, I was intrigued. They apparently licked the bezel issue. There's also a few other differences, such as you can completely power down the 410 and apparently you couldn't with the 405, but apparently not too much else of great significance.

So with the timing of my 305 dying and the new release of the 410, I decided to give it a shot. Overall, I'm very happy with it, but I do have a few criticisms.

Performance and Displays
The 410 locks on to satellites quickly and with no problems and performs just as well as the 305 on that front. I've been in heavy tree and cloud cover quite a bit with it and haven't had any issues yet.

The displays are also nice. You can have three data fields at a time on the screen and they're easy to read while on the run. That's one less piece of data than the 205/305, but with the 410 there's the added benefit of the auto-scroll feature which alternates between screens with different data fields (more than 30 to choose from) and you can control how fast it does it (slow, medium, fast.. I've found the medium speed to be perfect).

You can have multiple data screens for the auto-scroll, but I've found that two is enough. I thought the auto-scroll might be annoying at first, but not the case. It's nice having all of that data displayed while I run and I find it very beneficial. On one, I have the running time, distance and lap pace (I also have it set to automatically take a lap each mile). On the other, I have it show a heart rate zone graph, current heart rate, and average heart rate. Given there are dozens of data fields, the possibilities of combinations are pretty darn numerous so most folks should be pretty satisfied.

The Bezel
While I don't mind the bezel that much, it does seem a bit gimmicky. In case you're not sure what the bezel is about, it's a touch sensitive outer ring that you either tap or scroll your finger around in a circular motion (think older school Apple iPod) for certain features.

However, I don't see what the problem is with just having buttons. Granted, there are two on the 410, which are used in conjunction with the bezel when setting up features and the buttons are also used for start/stop (top button) and lap/reset (bottom) when training, but the bezel is used for almost everything else. I've gotten a lot more used to it, but it's still a bit cumbersome and frustrating to use at times, but overall it's okay and I don't think much about it anymore.

I've never used a 405, so can't speak to the moisture issue with bezel sensitivity with that model, but I've run quite a few times with my 410 now in the rain or with sweaty hands and the bezel performance was fine. No problems at all with that.

Comfort and Fit, Battery Life
I never had issues of comfort with the 305, and I definitely don't with the 410 either. But a big bonus I like is that I can wear it with the GPS off and it serves as a wrist watch, allowing me to wear it at work rather than toss it in my gym bag. Because of it's smaller size, it actually looks a lot like a normal wrist watch and doesn't draw the curious inquiries from non-runners as much which is nice (unless you're "that guy" and maybe you want the extra attention).

Additionally, the 410 will automatically go into power save mode (aka GPS off) after several minutes of inactivity if the watch is stopped. You can turn that off if you want to, but I like to leave it on and it gives you warning when 30 seconds away from power save mode, which can easily be canceled by hitting the start/stop button.

Battery life? It's listed at eight hours with the GPS on (two weeks with it off) but apparently it's really around seven hours on a good day, according to other reports. That's fine by me, as during ultras or mountain runs I usually go by just a stopwatch anyway. Sure, it'd be nice to have the wicked long battery life of the 310XT, but it's something I can live without and seven hours is plenty for the bulk of my training and speedier races of marathon distance or shorter when I need to know mile split times. For ultras and mountain runs I don't.

Premium Heart Rate Strap
Ah, one of the bigger gripes here. Static electricity in clothing REALLY affects this thing big time and will totally screw up your data. Wetting down both sides of the strap liberally really helps though. Since I've been doing that I really haven't had any problems. But wetting it down especially in the colder, dryer weather every time does kind of suck. Never had that issue with the older style heart rate strap.

The strap is a bit more comfortable than the older style strap, but I never thought the older was really uncomfortable to begin with. If you feel the same, I'd just stick with the older style one to save money and some additional headache.

Post Run Data
The ANT stick is pretty nifty. It's a little smaller than most modern day thumb drives and plugs into the USB port of your MAC or PC (it's compatible with both). What this thing does is wirelessly transfer the data from the 410 to your computer, so no wires are used and you can leave the watch on your wrist. It's just a bit more convenient and works very well.

Once the data is transfered, you can upload it to Garmin Connect, RunningAhead, DailyMile, or whatever other online (or offline) training log you use. It works very easily and seamlessly.

Overall, a great running tool that is incredibly useful and I'm happy with it. Even if the bezel on the 410 is better in moisture than the 405, I still find it a bit quirky to use, but it's far from a deal breaker. It performs great and the smaller, sleeker design is also welcome. The customizability of features will allow users to cater the 410 to their liking and it's pretty easy to do so. If I were to give it a grade, it'd be a B+ or an A-.

- Relatively small size
- Great satellite locking
- Very good accuracy
- 30+ data fields
- Auto-scrolling between screens when running
- HR Zone graph as data field option
- Comfortable strap
- Comes with three different straps (rubber attached to watch, two additional velcro straps of different sizes).
- ANT wireless transfer

- Premium heart rate strap goes wonky with static electricity
- Bezel still a bit quirky, even if not affected by moisture
- Relatively short battery life (listed at 8 hours, in reality it's 7 on a good day according to others).

I hope that answers some questions and helps some of you in doing some research before buying. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask. I'll be happy to answer what I can.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

'Til We Meet in Hell

Good friend and fellow Trail Monster Running member Val put together an awesome race today entitled "'Til We Meet in Hell". The concept was a great one: Runners would run an extremely hilly 1.15 mile trail loop for 90 minutes and they try to see how far they could go. A handicap system was built in to level the field for all participants so everyone could have a chance at winning.

My plan was to take it easy and not race it, due to the tough 16-miler yesterday and a pretty tough 11-miler the day before that. Definitely the right call. One mile into it and I could tell my legs were dead from all of the hills the past two days. I was a bit more dead than I expected to be, truth be told, but that was fine and shouldn't be surprising.

I had a blast. Unfortunately, I spent much of the time running alone. Despite there being 24 of us running the loop, I was in an odd void where I didn't really encounter many people. However, Jeff came up and lapped me but decided to walk the rest of the time (a little over an hour into it at that point), so I walked with him for about half a loop.

I crossed the start point at around 1:21 and decided to just stop there and hang out and wait. I got in 6.5 miles which I was happy with. Mindy had called it a day earlier, so we chatted a bit until the other runners finished.

Worth noting that my good buddy Ryan and I had the same handicap. However, with fresh legs I don't think there would have been any way I would have caught him today. Not sure how many miles he got in, but the dude was flying and looked comfortable at it. I'm going to have my work cut out at the Bradbury series this summer trying to catch him.

Afterwards, we headed over to Sebago Brewing Company for drinks and lunch, as well as the award ceremony. Very fun day with very good friends!

Ran 6.5 miles @ 11:47/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 131/165
Extremely hilly.
Upper 20s to lower 30s, sunny.
Adidas Adizero XT, tights, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Ossipee Hill

Wanted to get in a good medium run on the local trails, and hadn't hit Ossipee Hill in a while so thought that would be a good route to go. Turned out to be a great choice. Had to do some bushwacking at times and negotiate some icy bogs which slowed things down here and there, but it was a fun adventure with some great rewards.

I meandered along the snowmobile and powerline trails until I got to Ossipee. I climbed my way to the top and accidentally took a turn on a new dirt road/jeep trail that went to a new cell phone tower. At first I thought they had knocked down the other radio towers and fire tower and replaced it with this bigger one, but then I realized my mistake. I backtracked down a few hundred feet and found the jeep trail up to the fire tower, which is at the true summit (listed as 1024' above sea level).

I climbed the fire tower and had incredible, clear views of the ocean as well as a snow-capped Mt. Washington and all of the Presidential mountains. It was amazing. Really wish I had brought my camera, but no such luck. I enjoyed the views for at least 10 minutes then decided to head back.

I decided to run on the dirt shoulder of a paved road for about a mile or so on the way back to the powerlines, which is part of my usual route. But I saw another trail going up a smaller powerline, and decided to take that one instead. I knew where this one would eventually lead, but had never run it before. I probably won't again, as the trail petered out and I had to do a fair amount of bushwacking.

Last three miles I was running on fumes. Had a very light dinner last night as well as a light breakfast this morning and I was starting to pay the price. The energy was starting to dip and I would have bonked had I had to go much longer. But made it home just fine and all in all it was a very good run.

Ran 16.3 miles @ 9:42/mile pace.
AHR/MHR 132/153
Rugged trails, jeep trails, dirt roads, dirt shoulders.
Extremely hilly.
Mid teens to upper 20s, sunny.
Adidas Adizero XT, long pants, windbreaker (removed two miles in), fleece pullover, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

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Friday, December 17, 2010

Trail Exploration

Feeling 100% better from yesterday, so was raring to go for a trail run from the school after work today. Decided to explore some side trails off the old railroad bed I often run on.

I took the first turnoff a couple of miles into the run, and meandered around on some snowmobile trails for a bit when I took a turn and suddenly encountered an older woman on a horse. I apologized to her if I had startled her or her horse, but apparently no harm done and we chatted for a bit. Turns out we knew some of the same people and I asked what the trails were like ahead. Apparently I was about to hit the top of the ridge and the trail dead ends on the street up there. Crap. Oh well, decided to hit the road and take it down a few tenths of a mile to rejoin the railroad bed so I did just that.

After getting back on the rail trail, I took it down and ventured off on to another side trail. This one was great. Went through some really neat sections of woods and I encountered several moose and deer tracks in one area, but no sightings of any of the beasts. The trail eventually looped back around and rejoined the railroad bed.

I took the railroad bed back down but decided to take another side trail just to see where it goes. It rejoined another road I was familiar with. Might make for a handy road/trail loop at times, but I turned around and backtracked back to the railroad bed and made my way back.

As I was getting close to the school, I spotted some of my students playing pond hockey and stopped to check out their game and chat with them a bit. Looks like fun, might have to give it a whirl sometime. Good run!

Ran 11.1 miles @ 8:30/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 139/162
Mostly trails, a few paved roads.
Very hilly.
Lower 30s to mid 20s, partly cloudy.
Adidas Adizero XT, long pants, fleece pullover, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Took today off as a precaution. It feels like my body is fighting something. I can hear the distant, muffled battle but can't quite make out the details. Figured it was better to not run today and go straight home from work and rest. I ate two cloves of minced garlic to help fight whatever it is I might have. Will just have to wait and see.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Chilly 800M Repeats

Winter has returned. A good half inch or so of snow dusted the grounds this morning but more significantly, the colder air has taken over once again (lower 20s and breezy during my workout). I didn't think the track would be clear today, but by the afternoon much of the snow had blown around and the track was bare. Nice. As a back-up, I had wheeled an 800M route around the school I teach at and plan to use that this winter since they clear the parking lots and not the track, but not an issue today.

I did my warm-up run and was feeling pretty good. Then I hit the track and nailed down 5 X 800 meter repeats with 400 meters of active recovery in between. This ended up giving me :30-:40 less recovery time between reps compared to when I did my active recovery by time (3:00) rather than distance, so the difficulty was a bit higher.

Went well though. Hit my splits in 2:58, 3:00, 3:02, 2:56 and 2:54. On that third one, I got mad at myself for being consecutively slower on each rep, so I cranked the next two out a little harder. Afterwards, enjoyed a pleasant cool down run.

Good reintroduction to interval work, as I haven't done it in a few months. Boston is just 123 days away now, so time to start ramping it up!

w/u - 1.6 miles @ 8:28/mile pace
5 X 800M repeats w/ 400M active recovery in between (3.6 miles). Splits: 2:58, 3:00, 3:02, 2:56, 2:54.
c/d - 1.6 miles @ 8:28/mile pace.

Lower 20s, overcast, breezy.
Brooks Mach 11, long pants, fleece jacket, long sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Shorts in Mid-December

While the mid-West is enjoying a true winter, us folks in Maine are in the midst of an Indian Summer which, in my humble opinion, flat out sucks. Upper 40s with a light rain this afternoon and I comfortably ran in shorts and the windbreaker pretty much seemed too warm. Yuck.

Things will cool back down to normal (actually, below normal) temps in a few days, however we won't be getting any substancial snow with it. Ugh. My Nordic skis are begging to get used.

Anyway, back to running. It went well today, I thought I'd just do six miles and hand the reins over to my body and let it dictate the pace based on how I was feeling. Turned out to be a marathon-paced run, which felt comfortable. Rest day tomorrow, anticipate a speed workout on Wednesday.

Ran 6.0 miles @ 7:21/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 149/163
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Upper 40s, overcast, light rain throughout.
Brooks Mach 11, shorts, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Casual Trail Run to End the Week

No real goal with today's run, other than beat the approaching storm (more rain today, NOT snow.. ugh) and get in the miles. I just enjoyed being out in the woods as usual, and will be able to run back there a bit more often now that deer hunting season has officially ended.

Stopped to sit on a fallen tree that goes out over a large pond about three miles back into the woods when a light sleet/freezing rain began to fall. It lasted through the rest of the run, but didn't really get me wet.

Finished the week with 53.8 miles. Not a bad total, and it's been going up each week for the past month and I'm feeling great. However, may opt to make next week a bit of a cut-back week for mileage but would also like to get in some quality speed work at the same time. During my training cycle for the Mt. Desert Island Marathon over the summer, having a cut-back week about every third week really helped pay dividends, so I'll likely continue with that trend for Boston.

Ran 7.7 miles @ 8:53/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 132/153
Trails and fire roads.
Very hilly.
Mid to upper 20s, overcast, light sleet/freezing rain.
Adidas Adizero XT, long pants, windbreaker, long sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Say, Wait a Minute...

I ran a route that I hadn't run in awhile, and thought it to be shorter than it actually was. So, instead of around 11.5 miles I got in an even 14 instead. I realized my mistake about halfway through the run.

Not a huge deal though, since I was keeping the pace slow anyway. A solid dusting of snow on several long stretches of the road shoulders helped to govern the pace.

I didn't feel too peppy the first few miles due to a bacon, eggs and toast breakfast but once the stomach settled down a little I was fine after that. Good run overall.

Ran 14.0 miles @ 8:09/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 137/147
Paved roads, stretches covered in dusting of snow.
Moderately hilly.
Mid 20s to mid 30s, partly sunny.
Saucony Kinvara, tights, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Easy Five

After the past couple of days, an easy/recovery day was in order so I let the heart rate dictate the pace with the goal of keeping the beats per minute in the lower 130s. Kind of tough running that slow, but mission accomplished. Pretty uneventful run.

Ran 5.0 miles @ 8:43/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 131/140
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 20s, mostly cloudy.
Brooks Mach 11, long tights, windbreaker, long sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Long Shadows

Winter solstice is right around the corner, and with that the sun doesn't really get very high up in the sky this time of year. The long shadows of the afternoon slowly diminished as the sun disappeared behind the tree tops while I ran. I was thankful to be wearing my reflective vest for added safety and the pace picked up a bit in the second half which had the added benefit of thwarting off the chill of the dropping temperatures.

I've only just cracked into double digit mileage a few times since the Stone Cat Marathon last month, so I would have been happy with around 8:00/mile. I was feeling pretty good, however, so I let loose a little more.

Pretty chilly out here. I was dressed okay but the $3.00 gloves I bought at Marden's yesterday performed like $3.00 gloves. Fingers were a touch cold towards the end but not too bad.

Ran 15.0 miles @ 7:32/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 149/168* (data skewed.. very erratic HR readings first several miles.. AHR probably around 5 bpm less)
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Mid to lower 20s, sunny, breezy.
Saucony Kinvara, fleece jacket, short sleeved shirt, refl. vest, beanie, gloves.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Afternoon Seven

Feeling 100% better after having a bit of a bug the other day. Thankfully it was just one of those 24-hour things. Another busy day at work today with another meeting after school, but thankfully it ended with enough daylight to complete a run before night fell.

Came up with a new route that covered roads I have run before but I connected them differently, just for the sake of something new. Rolling hills throughout, most of which aren't very big with the exception of the notorious Beaver Hill which is a steep and grueling climb that can get the heart rate jacked.

Fun run that ended up being around marathon pace. Pleased with the heart rate data... averaging 151 bpm is very good for me for this pace and this course. Pretty windy again, which made the cold temps seem colder but I was dressed just right.

Ran 7.1 miles @ 7:21/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 151/165
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Mid-20s, sunny, windy.
Saucony Kinvara, long pants, windbreaker, long sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

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Monday, December 06, 2010


Busy, whirlwind of a day that's drawing to a close. Speaking of whirlwinds... I managed to squeeze in a run right after work and before taking The Cheat to the vet. A cold wind was blowing from seemingly every direction and knocked me around like a prizefighter.

That wasn't so bad compared to the cold I've come down with. Felt it this morning when I woke up and while teaching went okay, when I ran after work it was apparent I'm definitely a bit sick with a head cold that is sapping my strength a touch.

I had planned on around 7:45/mile pace but based on how I was feeling I slowed it down, which was wise. What would have been wiser would have been just to nix today's run, but I know running tomorrow will be very difficult due to taking several students to visit some college campuses and it will be an extended day. Still, two rest days in a row would have been nice, and I may still do that by taking Wednesday off if I feel I need to.

Ran 5.0 miles @ 8:01/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 138/150
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Upper 20s, overcast, windy.
Brooks Mach 11, long pants, windbreaker, long sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

More Trail Exploration

Another morning of trail exploration, this time on some local trails near my house. I started off on some trails I'm familiar with, but veered on to another one which I suspected would connect to some other known trails and form a loop. That turned out to be the case.

About a mile and half into the run, I saw an owl (looked like a barred) getting chased around by two blue jays. I stopped and watched for a few minutes. Good entertainment from my perspective, but the blue jays looked pissed and the owl quite annoyed.

I then reached the new trail which was a lot of fun to run on. About a mile or so later, it connected to a trail I knew about, but in a different spot than I had expected. Cruised along and in the final mile I tripped and landed smack dab in the middle of a large mud puddle, and my pants and gloves were covered in earthy goo. Well, what's a trail run without getting a bit muddy, eh? Loop turned out a bit shorter than I thought it would, but still a good one. I'll definitely hit this one again.

Worth noting the heart rate monitor strap performed perfectly again today, as it has the past few days. Wetting down both sides of the stap with water pretty liberally seems to do the trick. Happy about that.

Ran 6.1 miles @ 9:27/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 133/148
Very hilly.
Lower 30s, overcast, intermittent light snow flurries.
X-Shoes, long pants, fleece pullover, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

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Saturday, December 04, 2010

An Adventurous Run Beyond Bradbury Mountain

Ian led Emma, Erik, David and I to explore some of the trails that will eventually connect Bradbury Mountain State Park with Pineland Farms.

This was a lot of fun, mainly because the terrain was really rugged. We were bushwacking at times and had to cross two rivers, the second of which was waist deep and pretty darn cold. And many of the trails we were on haven't seen much traffic. Throw in constant steep hills and you have a recipe for big fun.

Second river crossing, photo stolen from Ian. 

I must admit, I almost checked in my man card and didn't cross the second river. Wasn't so much the cold, but more that it looked sketchy. However, Ian and Eric made it look easy and when I saw Dave was going to do it, well... peer pressure. Turned out it was pretty safe, just flippin' freezing!

Had a lot of fun today. The more adventurous runs like this are always a blast. Big thanks to Ian for leading us on a fun day.

Climbing the hills on the powerline. Photo also stolen from Ian. 

Afterwards, we headed over to Stephen's to watch the Western States 100 lottery drawing. Stephen, Ian and James had their hats thrown in, but unfortunately, none of them got picked. Bit of a damper after a fun morning, but so be it.

Ran 8.9 miles @ 11:00/mile pace
AHR/MHR - 130/156
Rugged trails.
Extremely hilly.
Upper 20s to mid 30s, partly cloudy.
Adidas Adizero XT, long pants, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Friday, December 03, 2010

All Cylinders Firing

Today was one of those runs when everything is working right. You've had them before also, I'm sure. You just feel great and go with it and it feels effortless. Was really happy with this one.

Hit an extremely hilly route that is usually quite punishing. Kept the pace moderate tackling the two big hills in the first half of the run, and it came without much effort. The first hill is shorter and steeper, but the second one is more drawn out and just never seems to end.

However, today it all came easy. Was feeling great on the hills and then roughly matched my heart rate on the downhills by picking up the pace. And despite the pace and hills, I was pleased that the average heart rate was 152, officially making it a "moderate paced" run. I would have expected it higher. Speaking of heart rates, the strap performed perfectly today. No spikes whatsoever.

When I was finished I looked at the overall stats and my eyes widened a bit at the pace averaging 7:35/mile. I think the fastest I've ever done it before in this direction was 7:50-something a mile with more effort. Very good day. I'll buy that for a dollar!

Ran 10.7 miles @ 7:35/mile pace
AHR/MHR - 152/168
Paved roads.
Extremely hilly.
Upper 30s, overcast.
Saucony Kinvara, long pants, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie (off and on), gloves.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Heart Rate Training

I've been doing a lot of reading on heart rate zone training. I've run with heart rate monitors during several long stretches in the past, and found it valuable. It's nice to be able to quantify the amount of effort your body is putting out, as pace isn't always an accurate indicator of that depending on hills, terrain, and how one is feeling at the time.

In addition to my reading, a recent and very interesting podcast by Geeks in Running Shoes (episode 19) featured an interview with a couple of coaches from PRS-Fit who gave some extensive, in-depth information on the value of training in heart rate zones. On a side note, definitely check out this podcast if you haven't yet, all of their shows are very entertaining and informative. I'm really digging it.

So, it got me thinking more of using the HR monitor for recovery purposes. As an experiment, I let the HR dictate the pace today, with the goal of staying in the 130s to be in Heart Rate Zone 2, which is a recovery pace. I wetted the strap again and had a few, small spikes in the data in the first mile or so, but nothing too bad.

It went well. It was difficult to run that slow. Quite frankly, I'm surprised that my pace was as slow as it was for that heart rate. I didn't get much sleep last night, so maybe I can blame it on that? Perhaps it's because of yesterday's tempo run? I don't know. I have a lot to learn with this kind of stuff and I look forward to doing so. Would love to hear your thoughts on this or heart rate training in general, so if you have some food for thought, advice or whatever please leave a comment.

Ran 5.0 miles @ 8:51/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 134/157
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 40s, sunny, breezy.
Saucony Kinvara, shorts, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt.

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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Rabbit, Rabbit

I was going to kick off the new month by getting up a little earlier than usual to head out for a pre-dawn trail run. That never happened. I hit the snooze button a few times instead and then crawled out of bed when I usually do.

After making coffee and looking at the weather forecast, I was kicking myself a bit. There was no rain at the time and it was unusually warm out. Later today, I would have a meeting which would extend my day and make running a bit more complicated. It would also likely be raining. I thought to myself that I made a dumb move. And perhaps I did, but I decided to make the most of it.

I decided I'd do a tempo-paced run today in lieu of a moderate track workout tomorrow (will run easy tomorrow now instead). This would be easily accomplished by running a mile loop of paved paths and parking lots around my school. It's relatively traffic free making it a bit safer to run at night if need be. Plus, if the weather got too bad, I'd always be within a half a mile of my car.

So, work and the meeting were over and I changed and headed outside the school. It was already approaching sundown and the overcast skies and light rain made it even darker. Despite the long day and dreary weather, I oddly felt energized and anxious to go. I was off and hit my splits in 6:53, 6:51, 6:43, 6:46, 6:35 and while it was work, I felt great. Afterwards, rested for a couple of minutes and then ran a cooldown mile at an easy pace.

I also experimented with wetting the contact points and outer part of my heart rate strap more liberally in an effort to reduce spikes in the data. This helped tremendously (thanks Jeff). In fact, there were zero spikes in the charts, which I was very pleased to see. Something that might have also have helped was I only had on a tech shirt. With my other runs I also had on a windbreaker, and I wonder if the rubbing of the shirt and jacket may have helped create a static charge, especially early in the runs. Time will tell, but today it looked great.

Also, with a wet watch and wet finger tips from the rain, I played with the bezel on the Garmin 410 after the run. Worked fantastic. No issues at all getting it to function. I never owned a 405, but many have complained the bezel didn't work well (or at all) in wet conditions. Garmin added more contact points in the 410 to help fix the issue, and I thought today was a good initial test for that and it passed with flying colors.

Ran 5.0 miles @ 6:46/mile pace.
Ran 1.0 mile cool down @ 8:51/mile pace.
AHR/MHR - 163/180 (doesn't include cooldown run)
Paved roads and paths.
Mostly flat.
Mid 40s, overcast, light rain, breezy.
Brooks Mach 11, shorts, short sleeved shirt, Moeben sleeves, cap.

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The drops in the pace about a quarter of the way through each mile were the result of having to slow down to take a very sharp turn to get through a gate during the loop.