Saturday, March 31, 2012

One More Mile for Sunshine

Big ups to my friend Blaine for completing a ginormous running feat today, his One More Mile for Sunshine Challenge. He ran as many miles as it was the day of the month for March. That means March 1st = 1 mile, March 2 = miles, etc, etc, all the way up to the final day today, which meant 31 miles.  Easy enough early in the month, but when you get towards the end...well...brutal.

But he did it and looked great doing it. And it was all for a good cause. He did it to raise funds for Camp Sunshine, which is a camp on Lake Sebago for kids with terminal illnesses. Their parents can come up with their children and stay there to enjoy quality time together in a beautiful setting. Great charity for sure.

Some of the participants today.
A host of us were there to support Blaine on his final day and it was a lot of fun. Many folks, if not most, ran long with a very good chunk also doing the full 50k for the day. Me? Not so much. I just had one lap of the course on tap which was 6.1 miles long. Very fun trail run though.

Finished up and pulled out a chair and read (Stephen King's "Full Dark, No Stars") while everyone else ran. Kate did great, getting in 12.5 miles.

Once everyone finished, a few of us went to the Blacksmith Winery for a tasting and I picked up a bottle of their blueberry wine, which I found to be most excellent. I'm more of a beer guy, but this is good stuff.

Looking forward to heading down to Beantown tomorrow to run the last 15 miles of the course with some friends. Should be another grand day centered around running!

Blaine finishing!

Trail Monsters after the run.

Jeff, myself and Kate.

Me, Kate, Blaine, Christine, Erin, Bob and Nate
at the Blacksmith Winery afterwards.
Ran 6.1 miles @ 9:24/mile pace.
Trails, small section of paved road.
Mostly flat.
Mid 30s to around 40, partly cloudy.
Brooks Mach 13, shorts, short sleeved shirt, long sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Tempo Friday

Had a little speed on tap for today. Warmed up for a couple of miles and then did the remaining five at tempo pace. Went well. Miles five and six were pretty fast but they were also on downhills. Felt great.

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About six miles on tap for tomorrow as I join Blaine for his final day of the 1 More Mile For Sunshine challenge. He'll obviously be running more, but it'll be fun to join him for a bit and a lot of our other friends will be there as well.

Ran 7.0 miles @ 6:41/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Mid 40s, sunny, breezy.
Saucony Kinvara 2, shorts, short sleeved shirt, long sleeved shirt.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Short and Easy

Short and easy run this afternoon. Found the pace creeping faster at times and had to remind myself to slow down. That's always a good sign and a lot of that will likely be happening for the next two and a half weeks before race day.

Pretty uneventful run. I have five at tempo pace planned for tomorrow, so at least there's that.

Ran 4.0 miles @ 8:02/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Around 40 degrees, overcast.
Saucony Kinvara 2, shorts, short sleeved shirt, long sleeved shirt (sleeves pushed up a mile in), beanie, gloves.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Stride Work

A session of strides was on tap today. It followed a very long and busy day at work so I was anxious to run once I was finally comfortable with leaving.

Ran the warm-up and then hit the track for a session of strides consisting of 14 X 100M w/ 100M of active recovery. Concentrated on proper form as I accelerated on the straightaways and then lightly jogged the bends. Fun workout since it gives the legs turnover but doesn't take anything out of the bank.

Nice to see our number one runner on the cross country team who is college bound to run for Bates next year. He was running hill repeats next to the track. Great kid with a very bright future ahead of him and it was fun to trade running stories for a bit before I hit my cool down. He'll be missed next year.

Finished the cooldown and headed home. Now I'm here and famished.

w/u: Ran 2.1 miles @ 7:52/mile pace.
14 X 100M strides w/ 100M active recovery = 1.8 miles @ 7:06/mile pace.
c/d: Ran 2.0 miles @ 8:23/mile pace.

Mid 40s, overcast (thankfully, no wind for once).
Brooks Mach 13, shorts, short sleeved shirt (w/u c/d only), long sleeved shirt, cap (w/u c/d only).

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Easy Six and Tapering

Six on tap at an easy pace today. Pretty uneventful. Windy out, but also bright and full of sunshine. Will likely hit the track tomorrow for a series of 100M strides to give the legs some turnover.

Taper plan is pretty much in place. 40-45 miles this week, 28-33 miles next week, and about 15-18 miles in the final week leading up to the race. Legs will get some turnover here and there each week as well.

As usual, I won't be going to mad this week since it's essentially just a step down week. Next week I expect I'll be getting antsy and in the last week I'll be going nuts. That's been the case the past handful of marathons when I've followed the same tapering principals (Pfitz). It's worked out well for me each time, so no plans to change things.

Ran 6.0 miles @ 8:11/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 40s, sunny, windy.
Brooks Mach 13, shorts, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Cold Rain

I woke up very late this morning. As a result, I didn't have time to get in a run before Kate and I were to meet up with Jim and Shauna at Harris Farm for Maine Maple Sunday. Lot's of folks there, despite a cold rain falling throughout, which was good to see.

Mmmmm, grass-fed steak. 
After feasting on pancakes, checking out the cows and buying some other goodies, we headed back and I got ready to run. Purpose was recovery. I love these runs that follow the hard workouts. It's nice to just go slow and enjoy it. What better place to do that than the woods?

Hit the trails in the woods out back and really enjoyed it, despite the cold rain. I was dressed right for it though. Just nice to be in the woods and listen to the rain fall and the occasional chirping bird.

Ran 7.7 miles @ 9:47/mile pace.
Very hilly.
Around 40 degrees, light to moderate rain throughout.
New Balance MT110, long tights, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves (shed halfway).

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Hay is in the Barn

Just about three week to go until Boston, so this was a key workout of sorts, especially for mental reasons. Wanted to do 17 miles at a little under MP, but I wasn't sure how that would go since my legs were feeling pretty heavy all week. I'm not sure if that was because of a pretty big last couple of weeks of training/racing, the heat or some combination of both. Regardless, the legs felt pretty spry upon wakening this morning, which was good.

It went well. Really well, in fact. I felt pretty great throughout. I can honestly say the first four miles were probably the hardest, but once warmed up I felt super and just kept it going.

Did have to stop for a bathroom break around mile seven or eight. I was a bit bummed about that, as I wanted to keep the heart rate up. Decided to make up for it by putting down the pedal a little harder for the next handful of splits, so I evened things out as best as I could.

Pretty stoked. It verifies to me that the half marathon two weeks ago wasn't a fluke. Confidence is pretty high right now, but I'm still going to be a bundle of nerves the morning of April 16th. I've pretty much done all that can be done now and I'm pretty happy with the hay that I've stacked in the barn during this training cycle. Bring on the taper madness!

Ran 17.2 miles @ 6:40/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Moderately hilly.
Lower 40s to lower 50s, partly cloudy.
Saucony Kinvara 2, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap.

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Friday, March 23, 2012

Easy Miles

Another easy day on tap. Weather was much better today, but the legs still felt a bit heavy. Not as bad as yesterday, but still enough to worry me about how I'll do with tomorrow's hard workout. We'll see. Hopefully the even cooler weather will help, but I suspect it's more my legs simply being tired.

Today was really two back-to-back runs. The first two miles were on roads and I ran with a teacher who is new to running. He did great! After that, I hit some hilly, technical trails for another four and half miles. That was good fun. Ran up the ridge to the apple orchard and explored the trails up there for a little bit and then headed back.

Ran 2.0 miles @ 9:44/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.

Ran 4.5 miles @ 9:38/mile pace.
Rail trails and rugged technical trails.
Very hilly.

Lower 70s, sunny, windy.
New Balance MT110, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Capital Idea

I was up in Augusta all day working with the Department of Education on some curriculum stuff. Very productive and worthwhile, but in our last hour of work my brain had clearly turned to orange jello. I was quite ready to go for a run.

I changed at the Statehouse once we were done and set out from there. I explored the river trail which turned out to be awesome! Paved path that goes right along the Kennebec River for miles and miles. Ran down for a little over five and headed back. Very scenic and fun to explore.

Extremely warm again today. I suspect that had something to do with my legs feeling very heavy at first. But as the run went on, it got better. Far from spry, but better. Cooler temps tomorrow (w00t).

Ran 10.5 miles @ 7:45/mile pace.
Paved paths.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 80s, sunny.
Saucony Kinvara 2, shorts, short sleeved shirt, handheld bottle (water).

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tick The Season...

Met up with Dora for a trail run at the Smith Preserve in Kennebunk after work. Another very warm day, but thankfully since we were closer to the coast it was a few degrees cooler.

Nice relaxed pace and we chatted away while we ran. As usual, the minor undulations on the trails here really slow you down without you realizing it. It's very deceiving and always seem a bit odd to see the overall average pace when finished.

Fell twice though, and after one of my losing battles with gravity I probably picked up a tick, the first one I've found on me this season. Some friends have reported getting them as soon as a few weeks ago. If this weather keeps up, the dreaded deer flies will be out before we know it. Yuck.

But on a good note, I didn't get lost. That's a first for this place. It took about a half a dozen runs here but I finally got it right (though at times I wasn't sure). Great little run. Another warm day tomorrow and things thankfully cool down after that.

Ran 6.9 miles @ 10:42/mile pace.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 70s, sunny.
New Balance MT110, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Dueling the Sun

81F/27C outside. That's pretty much a typical high temperature for late July/early August here in Maine, but in March? And the next two days are supposed to be even warmer? C'mon, man!

I'll go ahead and blame my craptastic tempo run on the heat. Seriously. I'm just not acclimated to it yet and I felt reeeeeally out of sync. My stride just felt off and I was getting some side stitches that were annoying. I also don't think I drank enough water during the day. 

I had planned on six miles at tempo but called it good at five. Bummer, but I felt it was the right call. Splits were 6:45, 6:25, 6:31, 6:44, 6:44 and it was more work than it should have been. Cooled down for about 2.5 miles and called it good. 

Easy days for the next three days and then a long MP run on Saturday. 

Ran 5.0 miles @ 6:39/mile pace. 
c/d Ran 2.5 miles @ 8:07/mile pace. 
Paved roads. 
Moderately hilly. 
Lower 80s, sunny. 
Brooks Mach 13, shorts, short sleeved shirt. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Getting My Muddy's Worth

Capped off the week with a muddy trail run in the woods across the street. Goal was recovery, which meant I could simply go slow and enjoy it. As always, it was great to be out in the woods, even if it was insanely warm outside (70F/21C).

Finished the week with 65.4 miles. Not bad, considering I was coming off the half marathon a week ago. If I included that race for a seven day period that would have ended yesterday I would have had 75 miles for the week. Quality workouts to boot. I feel I'm peaking at the right time and with the upcoming taper for Boston, I should have a really great race there and do something special (knock on wood).

Speaking of Boston, they released the bib numbers a few days ago. Your bib number is also your seed. This year, I'm 6584. Despite having a qualifying time that is about two and a half minutes faster than last year's, my number is higher (last year I was 6298). Faster field, obviously. Looking forward to it!

Ran 6.2 miles @ 9:33/mile pace.
Trails, muddy.
Very hilly.
Mid 50s to around 70, sunny.
New Balance MT110, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Trails and Roads

After a crazy two days of school competitions over in Bangor (we did awesome!), I allowed myself to sleep in a little and lounge around before heading out. By then the weather was warming up and it only got nicer.

The plan was to do the first 2/3's on roads and the other 1/3 on trails. This was a compromise, as it'd probably be smart to stick to roads because of Boston but I also really wanted to run in the woods.

The Roads
The original plan was to run everything easy today, but I decided to change gears a little for the road portion and the first five miles were a progression down to MP (tad faster, actually). Splits were 6:48, 6:42, 6:39, 6:48 and 6:40 before slowing back down to easy pace for the rest.

Had I have known I was going to do a portion at MP, I would have done the trails first so I could do this at the end of the run on tired legs. That would have made more sense. Poor planning on my part, but that's improvisation for you. Oh well.

Worth noting that in the final two miles, Kate drove by holding a bag of burritos out of the car window. Cruel. She thought I was finishing up so when I got home to change, I called her to let her know I still had some more left to do and to eat without me.

Ran 14.3 miles @ 7:25/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Moderately hilly.
Lower to upper 40s, partly cloudy.
Saucony Kinvara 2, shorts, long sleeved shirt, cap.

The Trails
After the phone call, some water, a shoe and shirt change I was out the door to hit the woods out back. By now it was even warmer and the birds were singing in full force. The trails were in terrific shape, only 5% coated in pebbled ice and packed snow. The rest was good ole dirt and mud. Simply great to be in the woods on such an awesome day. Kept the pace easy and just enjoyed it.

Ran 7.7 @ 9:02/mile pace.
Very hilly.
Lower to mid-50s, sunny.
New Balance MT110, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Treadmills Suck

Decided to sneak in a run on the hotel treadmill while the students attended an event that didn't require me to be there. I was grateful to get in a second run, but man, treadmills suck. I can't stand running in place. When running outside, I really don't want it to end, unless I'm having a really bad day. When on a treadmill, I can't wait for it to be over. Got in four and decided that was enough.

Rest day tomorrow. Long run Saturday.

Ran 4.0 miles @ 8:02/mile pace.
Flat (0% incline).
Brooks Mach 13, shorts, sleeveless shirt.

Calm Before the Storm

A very big school competition begins this afternoon. As a result, I have a bit of extra time this morning before the craziness begins. Took advantage of that by going for a short run.

I had planned on ten but cut it to six since my energy was feeling a bit down. Strictly precautionary and also not surprising. I haven't had a rest day since the race on Sunday and I was wondering when it'd catch up to me.

This was kind of by design as I knew all along that getting in a run tomorrow is going to be extremely difficult so I was hoping to use that as my weekly rest day. Fortunately, there was enough gas in the tank to get me there.

Ran 6.0 miles @ 8:25/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Mid 30s, partly sunny.
Saucony Kinvara 2, long tights, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Stream of Consciousness 15-Miler

Ran 15.0 miles @ 7:25/mile pace. 
Paved roads. 
Slightly hilly. 
Upper 30s, overcast. 
Saucony Kinvara 2, shorts, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt, cap. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Red-winged blackbirds are among the first birds to migrate into Maine each spring. I actually heard the first one of the season at around mile seven of the race on Sunday but forgot to mention it (they have a distinct "konk-a-ree" call). I heard them out in full force during one section of the run today.

The weather was once again very warm. Things cool back down a little tomorrow, but it should still easily be shorts weather.

Good little run. Trying to arrange the running schedule for the week but it poses some challenges with a big school competition on Thursday and Friday. Might try to get in a medium-long run at an easy pace tomorrow. Maybe a ten miler Thursday in the early morning and then take a rest day Friday, which is going to be nuts with the contests. Weekend should be considerably more open.

Ran 7.1 miles @ 8:19/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Upper 60s, mostly cloudy.
Brooks Mach 13, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Recovery Miles

Wow, what a great afternoon weather wise! Great to get outside and shake the legs loose after yesterday's race. Feeling pretty darn good overall. Quads are just a little sore, but nothing bad at all.

Still pretty stoked about yesterday, but it's time to move forward. The race fit in nicely with the training and there's still a few weeks to add to it before the taper for Boston.

Ran 5.0 miles @ 8:12/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Mid 60s, sunny.
Brooks Mach 13, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Midcoast Half Marathon Race Report

Epic race. Epic day. I think I'll be adding to the Midcoast Half Marathon on my yearly to do list for races from here on out. The race directors put on a top notch event. The course traveled over very scenic, hilly terrain that was challenging, beautiful and a lot of fun. Their volunteers were super friendly and helpful. All of that added up to a great vibe.

The race went incredibly well. I nailed my 'A' goal which was to break 1:25:00. As of last night, I had pretty much written that off given how hilly the course was. But I felt great today and paced myself well and had a good mindset. Very stoked to have come in at 1:24:53, good enough for 9th place.

I met up with Joe at the Back Cove in Portland to carpool over to Lincolnville and given that not only is Joe a talented runner but a teacher as well, we had plenty to talk about. We got there in plenty of time to check in, mingle with everyone and do our warm-ups.

There was about a half mile walk/run over to the start line, which was down the road from the winery (which served as the race HQ and finish line). I accompanied Amanda and Ty, and it served as a good final warm-up.

Miles 1-3
A very quick ready, set, go and we were off. The first mile is a big downhill. We'd later have to run up it, coming back. I found myself running with Amanda and a murder of her fellow Crow Athletics teammates. Great folks and company.

Into the second mile and it was now just Amanda and I. We chatted here and there, but half marathon pace doesn't allow much for conversation. We also saw Ian and Zak, who were driving around the course to cheer us on (Ian's wife, Emma, was also running). I would see them several more times, which was a huge boost.

We began to close in on a guy wearing green and as we did so, he began to pick up the pace to stay with us. Amanda dropped back and soon it was just me, Green Guy and another guy wearing a Mid-Winter shirt (I forget his name, which is a shame because we ran together for over half the race).

Miles 4-6
The wind was very gusty and had been in our faces for the past few miles. I'm 6'1" and have pretty wide shoulders so people like to draft off me at times. I usually don't mind, but Green Guy was being kind of aggressive about it. At one point I said "I see what you're doing" to get inside his head a little. Mid-Winter Guy and I ended up dropping him at the end of mile four and it was just us for a long while.

Saw Ian and Zak again and I tossed my gloves to them. Course turned on to Belfast Road and now we had some uphills to contend with. Field was pretty spread out now and I could make out a guy in all black ahead. I muttered to MW Guy that he was our target. We passed him at the top of the hill. A guy on a bike told us three miles of downhills ahead. I quietly told MW Guy, "Bullsh--, it's really two".

Miles 7-9
Two miles of downhills now and MW Guy and I picked it up. We chased down another runner and passed him. Splits for miles seven and eight were 6:21 and 6:12 and it felt comfortable. In fact, the whole race so far felt oddly comfortable. Yes, I was working my tale off but my head was in a great spot.

Another guy wearing a purplish shirt was pretty far ahead and I muttered to MW Guy that he was our next target. Saw Ian and Zak again.

Miles 10-12
MW Guy dropped back and now I was slowly reeling in Purple Shirt Guy. Saw Ian and Zak again and Ian ran alongside me a bit and gave some solid encouragement. I asked how Emma was doing and he said she was doing great. Cool.

Course turned right and I finally caught Purple Shirt Guy. But the real work was about to begin. The biggest uphills of the course were next.

Up and up and up. It was hard work and the wind was now blowing in my face again, but I was still pretty stoked at how much energy I had. The long, hard tempo runs I've been focusing on this training cycle were definitely paying off. However, it was still tiring, and by the time I reached the top of biggest hill where Ian and Zak were, I was gasping for air and going pretty slow. Still, I hit that split in 6:57, which wasn't bad considering the climb.

The Final 1.1
The hills were now slighter and rolling but given it was towards the end of the race they were a bit tough. Now I began the time calculations. Hmmm, was breaking 1:25 in the cards? It just might be. But with each passing uphill I had hoped to spot the final right hand turn that goes behind the winery where the finish line was but all I would see was another uphill. This happened a couple of times.

Finally, I crested a small hill and could see the winery. looked so far away. I glanced at my Garmin. It had just turned to 1:23. I didn't think I could get it and figured 1:25 and change was fine and now I booked it to get the best time possible.

I kept flooring it and reached the turn sooner than I thought I would. I looked right and could seen the finishing clock through the trees and beyond the final turn. It read 1:24:3X. Sweet!!! I would break 1:25:00 but I gave it everything I had to ensure I got as far under it as possible. I crossed in 1:24:53, giving a hearty fist pump as I finished. Kabam!!!

Post Race
Exchanged congrats with other runners, including the Purple Shirt Guy and I thanked him for pulling me along for a while. He was hard to chase down. Soon after, I saw Amanda, Emma, Joe, Jason and some other folks finished. Amanda and Emma got first and second woman respectively, which was awesome! I also puked a little. More like two or three glorified vurps, but I guess it counts.

Changed, socialized and then Joe alerted me that he saw the results and was like "Dude, congrats on getting top ten!" Okay, he didn't say dude as that's not part of Joe's normal vocabulary, but the sentiment was the same. Ian and I were talking earlier and thought I might have cracked top 15, but I didn't expect top 10. Saw the results and sure enough, ninth place overall. Stoked about that.

This race was an important one for a few reasons. First and foremost, it helped validate that the training for Boston is on track. I think the focus on longer, harder tempo runs is paying some pretty big dividends. A very good time for me, despite the tough course and the crazy wind. Also, MacMillan projects a 2:59:01 marathon time based on this race. I guess that's the goal now for Boston, and I look forward to the challenge. Still a few weeks to stack some hay in the barn before the taper.

Race Results

w/u Ran 1.8 miles @ 8:05/mile pace.
Ran 13.1 miles @ 6:29/mile pace.
Time: 1:24:53
Placing: 9th out of 156
AG (30-39): 3rd out of 17
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Upper 30s to upper 40s, sunny, windy.
Saucony Kinvara 2, shorts, singlet, gloves (ditched at mile four).

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Half Marathon Eve

I'm very much looking forward to the Midcoast Half Marathon tomorrow. Will be a bit of a long drive over and the fact that Daylight Savings Time begins tonight doesn't help much with the early departure time. Thankfully, I'm an early riser so it shouldn't be too much of an issue.

Been thinking a lot about what I hope to accomplish tomorrow. For one, tomorrow will hopefully serve as a good litmus test for my training and I can better gauge what I can expect for Boston. Additionally, this will also serve as a great workout, putting more hay in the barn before I begin the three week taper in just - gulp - two weeks.

I was talking goals with Ryan the other day, which was helpful... primarily because he reminded me that this isn't my goal race. It really helped that he underscored that because, well, it's true. Also, using this race as an indicator for Boston might not be as prudent since it looks like a pretty tough course. Looking at the elevation chart, I'd say it's a much higher degree of difficulty than Boston as far as elevation is concerned. Those last three or four miles are going to be tough, even though I run on hills often.

That all being said, I do have some goals:

- It'd be great to break 1:25, but that's a reach. I think I could do that on a flatter course if I was having a really good day, but that might not be the case tomorrow.

- Anything over 1:30 will likely be a bummer.

- Realistically, I think between 1:27 and 1:28 is reasonable.

It'll be pretty easy to hold a fast pace for the first nine miles, based on the elevation chart. I suspect I'll be on a sub-1:25 pace until that point. After that, I imagine I'll be seeing what I'm made of, so I guess that's the pacing strategy. Looking forward to the challenge.

Oh yeah, I ran this morning also. I took a rest day yesterday to ensure fresh legs. This morning, it was all about going short and slow to make sure they didn't get a little stale. A thin coating of snow on the roads provided good traction while also acting as an effective speed governor. Good run.

Ran 3.0 miles @ 8:16/mile pace.
Paved roads, coated with a thin layer of powdery snow.
Slightly hilly.
Upper 20s, mostly cloudy.
Saucony Kinvara 2, long tights, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Review: Yaktrax Pro

When I was asked to review the Yaktrax Pros, I was intrigued. I've been a loyal user of screw shoes using 3/8" sheet metal screws for years when it comes to running on snowy and icy surfaces. The reasons are simple: They're cheap and they do the job.

I've also tried Icespikes before and they clearly outperformed sheet metal screws. However, the downside is that they tend to wear down fairly quickly and also pop out easier. They're also expensive (~$25), considering their short life span. I just can't justify spending that kind of money when screw shoes do an adequate job but only cost three bucks.

Enter the Yaktrax Pros: I've talked to a few people who have used them and they seemed pretty happy. They cited that they provide very good traction and they liked the easy interchangeability. Additionally, they said they were easy to take on and take off, making them ideal if you have to run on a longer stretch of road or other surface where the Yaktrax aren't required. They sounded nice, so I was anxious to try them out and find out for myself.

Unfortunately, it's been a mild winter this year in Maine. I haven't been able to test them as much as I would have liked, but I feel that I've done enough in a variety of conditions to warrant an initial write-up:

Though I've only done a handful of runs in them so far, I've had the chance to run in slick, icy conditions as well as varying degrees of packed snow. Overall, they did great. On slick ice, caution is still warranted, just as if I were running in standard screw shoes. Really not much more different. I'd say they gripped just as well, if not slightly better, when running on ice.

In packed snow (specifically, snowmobile trails), the Yaktrax Pros really shined. Because they resemble tire chains for your shoes, they make more contact with the snow than screws and dig in accordingly. Yaktrax Pros definitely have a bit of an advantage there.

Comfort and Fit:
The fit was great. Nice and snug. I had the Large which is rated for shoes sized 11.5-13.5, and I wear a twelve. They fit nicely over my running flats (Brooks Mach 13) during one run and all other runs were done with my New Balance MT110. With the MT110s, the front part of the Yaktrax which fits over the toe would occasionally come off center, but was never at risk of falling off. It didn't noticeably affect the placement of the coiled rubber underneath. That also might be because the toe lip of the MT110's is off center.

Good fit with the racing flats.  
Tire chain like grip works very well, but shines in packed snow. 
Also a good fit with the MT110s. 
The velcro strap across the top of the shoe is also good insurance against loosing them in the event that they slip off, but I never experienced that scenario. The strap also helps hold the coiled rubber lines in place up against the bottom of the shoe.

A few people asked if I could feel them underneath while they were on. I couldn't, unless I was on ice or bare road. On the trails, I didn't notice them other than the added traction they provided.

The cost of the Yaktrax Pros varies, but as of this posting they cost around $25 online. I haven't been able to fully test the longevity, but given that I anticipate to get several seasons of use out of my current pair, I'd say that's a bargain. Plus, there's the added benefit that they can be easily transfered from shoe to shoe.

The Yaktrax Pros perform well and make winter running that much easier. They grip great overall, but it's a good idea to still be careful on sheer ice (as you should with any other traction aid). For around $25, they're a good bargain due to good performance, durability and interchangeability.

Weather Flux

It's really hard to believe that one week ago school was canceled because of a big snowstorm. I had a great snowshoe run in the woods out back on that day. It was a grand ole time. Today was also fun, but for the opposite reason. 67 degrees out and I worked up a sweat. March in Maine is pretty schizo weather-wise, but that just makes things interesting and fun.

My body seemed to struggle a bit with the warmer temperatures. Just haven't had enough time to acclimate to weather this warm. That being said, it was still a very good run. Did a few miles at MP and kept the rest moderate. Very easy days the next two days to ensure fresh legs for Sunday's race. Might even take a rest day.

Ran 5.6 miles @ 7:09/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
67 degrees, partly cloudy, breezy.
Saucony Kinvara 2, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Barefoot Beach Run

Nearly 50 degrees at the coast. Low tide in the afternoon. It's not tourist season yet. What does that spell?! BEACH RUN!

I sent out an email to the Trail Monsters to see if anyone wanted to join me this afternoon and I was thankful that some were able to make it. Nate, Jeff and I set out at Pine Point for the starting point. Blaine and Erin were supposed to join us but they were MIA for the moment.

About a half a mile in Jeff's achilles was barking at him and he did the smart thing and turned around. Nathan and I wished him well and trekked on. We went down to the planned mini-tidal stream and turned around.

Shortly after we began the return, we saw Blaine. Ah, there he was. He was late but it worked out well as it would get him close to his seven miles for his 1 More Mile for Sunshine challenge. Beastly.

Good run. Felt great to run barefoot. The whole barefoot movement had gotten so darn trendy and now many roll their eyes at it as a result, but doing it from time to time along with running in lower profile shoes has worked out very well for me and I have no plans to change things.

Ran 8.1 miles @ 8:44/mile pace.
Beaches with packed sand.
Upper 40s, sunny, breezy.
Barefoot, shorts, short sleeved shirt, long sleeved shirt, cap.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Hills and Stride Work

Hit a very hilly route after work, running it easy. Followed up with 10 X 100M strides. Went well. Pretty relaxed run and the strides felt great.

Sunny day without a cloud in the sky and I had a nice view of Mt. Washington on the highest part of the route. Some warm temperatures are ahead. Looking forward to running on the beach tomorrow!

Ran 7.7 miles @ 7:50/mile pace (includes strides).
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Mid 30s, sunny.
Brooks Mach 13, long tights, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Monday, March 05, 2012

De La Sol

With spring fast approaching, the sun continues to climb higher in the sky each day. Its brilliance gives the illusion of warmth even if it's still a bit chilly out. Such was the case today. Even with the breeze, it still felt about ten degrees warmer than it actually was.

Legs felt about as sore as I'd expect them to after yesterday's race (still stoked about how I did). Easy pace on a hilly route was on tap. Felt pretty good overall.

Looking ahead for the week, I'd like to have fresh legs for the Midcoast Half Marathon on Sunday. Will take it pretty easy this week as a result. Would like to get some turnover in mid-week just to keep the legs remembering. Might opt for a light session of 400M or 800M repeats.

Ran 5.6 miles @ 8:09/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Upper 20s, sunny, breezy.
Saucony Kinvara 2, long tights, windbreaker, long sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Bradbury Blizzard Snowshoe Race Report

Finally. A snowshoe race where I was happy with my performance. In all of my previous races, I've felt I was stuck in low gear. The rhythm of it takes some getting used to, at least for me. But today, I felt great and in sync. The fast snow conditions probably had a lot to do with that, along with taking the last two days off, but I'll gladly take it.

Big thanks to Ryan, Ian and all of the volunteers for helping put on an incredible race series that was a lot of fun! While today might have been quasi-warm, the other two races were definitely pretty darn cold. Not the easiest conditions to stand around and volunteer in while a bunch of folks are running around in the woods in snowshoes.

Kate and I arrived early to help out and socialize. As it got closer to the start time, Zak and I headed out for a warm-up on the course. "I'm feeling quite spry," is what I think I told Zak. My legs were fresh from the extra rest and I was feeling very energetic. The trails were also fast...the snow was packed down and pretty solid, thanks to the rain the other day. Barring some sort of meltdown, fall or some other catastrophe, I could tell I was going to have a good race as long as I was careful (read: not blow the engine out).

Pre-race. Courtesy: Maine Running Photos. 
We lined up and I saw David. I mentioned to him that we were close in the series standings. He was genuinely shocked by this, not knowing anything about them. He asked which of us was ahead and I told him I was. Then, he asked by how much. I smiled and said I wouldn't tell him and teased him about not doing his homework. To egg him on further, I told him somebody was between us in the standings. He asked who. I smiled and said I wasn't going to tell him (it was Zak).

The Race
We're off! Courtesy: Maine Running Photos. 
Fast start. Courtesy: Maine Running Photos. 
Ready, set, go and we were off. Within the first few hundred yards I was in third place behind Judson and Ian. Uh oh. No, that's not good. They're wicked fast. But I was mindful that while I felt my pace was a bit on the fast side for me, it was also somewhat reasonable. I wasn't killing myself here as I've done before in a few other snowshoe races.

Shortly thereafter I backed off a little and made room for Andy and waved him to pass. A little bit later I did the same for Scott. And then Jeff. On one hand, that was good as I knew those guys should be in front of me but on the other hand, I also wondered, "Okay, who's next?" I turned around and didn't see anybody in sight. Sixth place for now. Cool. The plan was now to try and hold that.

Jeff and I, just after he passed me. Courtesy: Maine Running Photos. 
At one point, I'm guessing maybe a mile or two in, a series of turns on the trails allowed me to see further back down the course and I noticed Peter and David running together. They appeared to be gaining. I had some distance on them still but wanted to keep it that way.

The course turned and traversed some more. At times I could catch glimpses of the pack that was Ian, Jeff, Scott and Andy. They were ahead considerably, but not as much as I thought they were. That made me feel good because it verified that I was indeed running well. I also saw Peter and David again, noticing that Peter was gaining some ground but David was now behind him and seemed to possibly be dropping back a bit.

On a straight away a bit later and I noticed Andy was falling off from the pack a little, but still quite a ways ahead. I was more concerned about Peter and David behind me. I turned around and saw Peter alone.

More twists and turns through the woods. I noticed I was every so slowly gaining more ground on Andy. Earlier, he would disappear from sight as the course navigated around and over the boulders, trees and hills. But now he was in sight more as I was geting closer.

A bit of a straightaway now and Peter didn't appear to be gaining and remained in place a hundred or so yards behind. Andy was now just a few dozen feet ahead and the trail took a right turn that I recognized. I knew there was only about a half a mile left, maybe less.

The trail was wide here and I caught up to Andy and decided to go ahead and make a move. I passed him and picked up the pace a little. It was kind of early to do that and strategically it might have been smarter to wait a litte bit, but fortunately it worked out okay. Andy is a beast. I have no chance of catching him during trail (or road) races, but snowshoe racing tends to mix up the variables in illogical fashion and plus I was having a good day.

I saw the finish line ahead and then initiated the rest of my kick and crossed the line in 40:27, good enough for fifth place. Sweet! I was very stoked about that.

Post Race
As usual, after I finish a hard run and my heart rate starts to drop, my stomach began to churn. I didn't puke though. I'm not sure whether to be proud or ashamed of that.

Afterwards, a myriad of us went for a cool down run along the side of the road (sans snowshoes) and it was a lot of fun trading war stories. Then the awards! This year they awarded long sleeved Bad Ass tech shirts from Atayne to those that ran all three races. Very, very nice, as is the race shirt for this race in particular. The beer theme for all of the shirt designs look great!  I also won a Dion Snowshoes beanie in the raffle. Very fun day!

Chillin' with Andy and Randy after the race. Courtesy: Maine Running Photos. 
Ran 4.5 miles @ 8:58/mile pace.
Official time: 40:27
Placing: 5th out of 37.
Series placing: 4th out of 11.
Trails with packed snow.
Moderately hilly.
Upper 30s, mostly cloudy.
Dion 121 snowshoes w/ New Balance MT110, long tights, short sleeved shirt, cap, gloves.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Winter Returns!

The Dion 121 snowshoes haven't been able to see much action this winter, but thankfully a significant snowstorm today provided a welcome reprieve. School was cancelled, so after a few cups of coffee and a bowl of berries and yogurt, I was out the door around 8am.

By then, there was plenty of snow on the ground. Probably a good 6" worth and higher in drifts and it continued to fall heavily throughout the run. I took the trail from my house, which unfortunately is next to the road for the first half mile or so. At times, I had to run on the banks which were quite deep and soft. I rejoiced once the trail ducked into the woods and the snow was easier to manage.

The woods were great. I had them all to myself. Wind picked up sporadically and the blowing snow reduced visibility to about a 100 ft. at times, which under the canopy of trees gave it a spooky ambiance, only adding to the fun.

I reached the pond three miles in and then turned around and came back the same way. On the return, my butt started getting cold due to the kicked up snow sticking to my clothing. All of my compression shorts need to be washed, so I was wearing my thicker bike shorts underneath my tights and was glad I had done so. I would have been much colder without them.

Very awesome run. Breaking trail made it a great workout, but at the same time it wasn't a drudge at all. Looking forward to a hot shower and another cup of coffee before I settle in and get some grading and writing stuff done.

Ran 6.1 miles @ 11:10/mile pace.
Trails, 6"+ unbroken powder.
Very hilly.
Around 23 degrees, overcast, heavy snow, breezy.
Dion 121 snowshoes with New Balance MT110, long tights, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.