Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Turning Point

Last night, I stepped on the scale.

"Honey, I'm going on a diet," I called to my wife downstairs. She protested a bit, saying I was fine, but I wouldn't let it rest. Let's call a spade a spade: I've gained weight.

While training, for me anything around 175 is pretty normal. Now I'm at 186. Four pounds away from Clydesdale. I have a big frame, but still, I care not to fall into that equin race category.

This is on top of my very obvious discomfort with purposely stepping down my training. It wouldn't take Sigmund Freud to read my blog posts over the past several months to see that I was out of my element. The goal was to take a break and make myself hungry again. Well, I'm now there. Mission accomplished.

I need goals. There is Boston, but that's a ways off and I need something sooner. I'm formulating something, but I want to think about it a little more still so I'll hold off telling anyone in mass for now. As for weight, well, the goal is to get back down to 175. Shouldn't be too tough. Better diet with stepped up mileage and speed workouts will take care of that.

So, I hit the woods out back this morning. Enjoyed the cooler, dryer air immensely, especially after spending two weeks down in Florida. A former student/CC runner took good care of our place and cats while we were away, as evidenced by The Cheat and Nordi giving us the human equivalent of a casual "Oh. Hey, what's up," when we walked in the door. And it was a great trip, very glad I got to hang out with family and friends.

Deer flies were quite tolerable. Bad in a few spots, but in many areas they were barely noticed. Ran the big loop out back and just had fun.

Followed up the run with a short bike ride with Kate to the farm stand to load up on local veggies and fruits. Made an awesome salad for lunch with the ingredients. Yum.

Ran 7.5 miles @ 9:49/mile pace.
Very hilly.
Lower 70s, cloudy.
Saucony Peregrine, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

See? That Wasn't So Bad.

Short run this morning. Almost didn't go, but made myself. Given the Florida humidity it was tough to get in a groove.

For the first half, I went at a very easy pace. Ran to a bathroom on a golf course, wrecked it, then on the return back I decided to pick up the pace.

Averaged just over 7:00/mile on the way back and you know what? It wasn't so bad. Granted, it was only for a mile and a half, but it felt good. Tempo paces seem scarier when not training as much, but the bark is often worse than the bite. It's kind of like going to a restaurant for the first time and you wonder if you're underdressed... then you're inside and see everyone is dressed like you.

Ran 3.4 miles @ 8:02/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Upper 70s, sunny, very humid.
Saucony Virrata, shorts, short sleeved short.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Ocean Freighter Analogy

I ran yesterday. The first time in over a week. We're down in Florida, and for a while the weather was actually cooler here compared to back home, but that's not saying a lot. So that with the usual distractions of travel/visiting home along with the lack of killer instinct in my training lately (more on that below) led to a week off.

Naturally, I'm rusty and it's starting to bug me. I just put in my usual easy effort, but it resulted in a slower than normal pace, even if it was soupy as a mofo out. It got me thinking...

First, a bit of a physics refresher: Imagine an ocean freighter. It's big. It's heavy. And despite the horsepower of its massive engines it still takes a while for it to get up to speed. It can be at full throttle but will still crawl for a long while. Ever so gradually, its speed picks up and eventually it's cruising at a good clip.

While at high speed, the captain can reduce the throttle here and there, maybe even cut the engines briefly, and the ship will still be moving along at a respectable miles per hour. Momentum. It's all about momentum.

That's also training: It can take a while to get to that cruising speed. Once there, the workouts come relatively easily. One can get away with missing some time or workouts here and there, but only for a while. That's what happened with Boston. It was my second fastest marathon time despite only averaging 45 miles a week. Other races during the training cycle, including the Mid Winter Classic, all fit in the same category. Yes, those helped rev the engine higher, but only between periods of the engine at a lower than ideal throttle.

But now the ship has lost its momentum. The engine is idling. Sputtering, really, and it's showing. I'm obviously struggling with this and am at a grand paradox: On one hand, I don't feel much like competing and forcing myself to do a regiment that allows me to effectively compete. On the other, I don't like not having that speed and fitness. Angel and devil. Yin and Yang.

So what's next? Dunno. I'm going to continue to let the chips fall where they may but I am seeing signs that a fire is being reignited. I will say this and with a degree of was part of my plan all along. I wanted to let myself go in order to get that competitive drive back. It's happening now, but it's early. It's clear though in which direction things are heading, and it's good.

Ran 6.2 miles @ 8:41/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Moderately hilly.
Mid 70s, overcast, very humid.
Saucony Virrata, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap, handheld bottle (diluted Gatorade)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Bradbury Scuffle Race Report

Undertrained, unmotivated and it showed. This was my fourth time doing this race and it was my third slowest, significantly so compared to the past two years. But enough whining, one reaps what he sows, and I have spent little time working in the fields.

So, that all being said, it could have been worse. Here's the skinny:

Warmed up with Nathan and could tell my legs didn't have it in them, a far cry from last year when I told Zak during the warm-up "my legs feel spry".

Lined up and Ian gave a very moving talk about how the race is dedicated to our friend Chris Douglass who died in a car accident five years ago. It kinda got to me a little bit but fortunately the race officially started moments later or I might have been more of an emotional wreck.

Miles 1 and 2:
Fast start. Too fast. I bit off more than I could chew. A year or two ago the pace would have been fine, but not now. Lesson learned. By the time the first mile was up, I was letting runners ahead of me. All I could think was Oh crap. By the end of mile two my pace had slowed to a crawl. The heat and humidity was also not helping.

Miles 3 and 4:
By now, I was really mentally defeated, perhaps more so than physically. More runners passed me. I had pretty much decided to just jog it at this point. Seriously. I was at my bonafide easy pace. I didn't really care.

However, there was a bit of a turning point. At the end of mile four, one guy passed me and I decided that he shouldn't be ahead of me. It lit a fire. I got him back either right before or shortly after the turn on to the snowmobile trail, which would soon start to turn downhill and at a very runnable grade to boot.

Miles 5 and 6:
Mojo is back. At least chilling out for those middle two miles recharged the batteries. I had three friends in front of me and I worked at picking them off, one by one. By the time we were on the Knight's Woods Trail in the final half mile, I had my sights on a younger fellow and worked to reel him in.

We made the final turn and only a tenth or so of a mile to go, but the young guy looked over his shoulder and now knew I was there. He kicked it up a notch and I couldn't get him. Crossed the finish line in 48:13 and in 19th place.

Talked with the young guy I was trying to catch, he came up and thanked me for pushing him and I thanked him for the pull and added incentive. I love the sportsmanship in running, it's one of the many things that makes our sport awesome.

Went on a cool down run with Scott H. and I puked. Watched other runners coming in, including Kate who had a really good finishing time thanks to her injuries not really bugging her as much, which is great news.

I dreaded the race, knowing I wasn't in decent race shape and I simply didn't want to do it. But I ran it and I guess I'm kinda glad I did. I had fun. Saving grace was the final two miles where I got it together a little more physically and mentally.

Is this race lighting a fire under my butt? Nope. I really still have very little desire to race for now and just want to continue running for fun. No idea what I'll do for the Breaker (I'm registered for all three races), might just run it with Kate. We'll see.

Oh yeah, the new shoes (Saucony Peregrine 3); they did well overall. Bit of an adjustment for me as they are higher off the ground than I'm used to for trail shoes, but I suspect my ankles will learn after a few more runs. Grip and fit were otherwise great. They'll serve me well.

Courtesy: Maine Running Photos
Official Results

Ran 5.9 miles @ 8:12/mile pace.
Official time: 48:13
Official place: 19th out of 145
Moderately hilly.
Mid to upper 70s, sunny, humid.
Saucony Peregrine 3, shorts, sleeveless shirt.

w/u: Ran 1.1 miles @ 9:57/mile pace.
c/d: Ran 1.2 miles @ 13:16/mile pace.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Breaking in the Saucony Peregrine 3

I usually get a full spring/summer out of a pair of trail shoes, often extending their use into winter by converting them to screw shoes or using them for snowshoe racing. So, when the Kinvara TR prematurely blew out during the Presi Traverse last month, I was pretty disappointed. Thankfully, Saucony agreed to replace them with a pair of Peregrine 3s.

Broke them in a little this evening. Putting it briefly, they appear to be very sturdy and I fully suspect they'll be with me for a while. Trail conditions were pretty muddy and I was pretty stoked they gripped very well in the slop. I'll do a more extensive review after another month or so.

So, confidence is high. I love Saucony's road shoes and have gotten awesome mileage and performance out of their Kinvara series and now the Virratas. Huge, huge fan so I want to like their trail shoes too. I suspect these Peregrine's won't disappoint. They'll get a good test this Sunday at the Bradbury Scuffle.

Ran 3.5 miles @ 9:07/mile pace.
Very hilly.
Around 70 degrees, partly cloudy.
Saucony Peregrine 3, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Bad or Good Start to the Morning?

I slept like a baby last night, getting in nearly 10 hours of sleep and I didn't wake up until 7:30am. Very late for me. Why is that so bad? Well, the weather is now perfect... cool, dry air is in place and it would have been nice to wake up earlier and take advantage of it.

It worked out well though. I didn't really feel like running anyway. Weird how that's been lately, my motivation just comes and goes regardless of the weather, but then again I suppose that's totally normal with no goal race(s) on the horizon. Truth be told, as awesome as the Bradbury Trail Race series is, I kind of wish I hadn't signed up for it. Just not feeling very competitive these days, I'm preferring just running when I feel like it, at least for now.

That all being said, it was a lot of fun running with Kate this morning. We just took it easy and I stayed with her at her pace. Good times, it's always nice to run with her. We just enjoyed the morning and chatted... well, I chatted. The pace was much easier for me and I had a captive audience since I didn't have to breath hard. She should feel lucky I avoided talking about fly fishing. :-)

Ran 2.9 miles @ 11:53/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Slightly hilly.
Upper 60s, sunny.
Brooks Mach 13, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Stephen King Loop

At the in-law's last night. Was up early, making getting in a run before everyone else awoke easy. Ran across the bridge into Bangor and looped past Stephen King's house. Fun route.

Past two days off for a few reasons: It was our anniversary and we're up in the Bangor area. Also, I twisted my ankle pretty bad the other day. How, you ask? It wasn't from a mountain run above treeline or anything spectacular... I was simply walking on a lawn and found a small pothole the hard way. Cool story bro. Felt okay during the run today... a bit sore but very manageable.

Ran 6.3 miles @ 8:20/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Very hilly.
Mid 60s, overcast.
Saucony Virrata, shorts, short sleeved shirt.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Cathance Run

Great run yesterday. For what it's worth, this post is late because when I got home yesterday, I face planted on my bed and went to sleep. Kate woke me up saying it was time to go to a friends' place for dinner, then when we got home I face planted on my bed again. Run, sleep, eat, sleep. A simple yet awesome cycle.

The run: Went well. Met up with Ryan, Andy, Jon and Nathan for some mileage on the trails near Ryan's place. Though it was very hot and humid, the deer flies were surprisingly very manageable. Legs felt awesome and it was a good cap to the week, which had me a few tenths of a mile away from 50 for the week, despite three days off. Given I'm not training for anything, not bad.

Ran 13.3 miles @ 10:29/mile pace.
Slightly hilly.
Upper 70s to lower 80s, sunny, very humid.
Nike Waffle Racer VIII, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap, handheld bottle (diluted Gatorade).

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Annual Fourth of July Baldface Mt. Loop Run

Very fun morning running the Baldface Mountain loop with Ben, Ian, Chris and Doug. I'll let the pictures do most of the talking:

The route. 

Slick rocks left us feeling like one-legged cats trying
to bury turds on a frozen pond. 
Ben, first peak in the background.


Clouds being pushed up the circ. 

Summit crew. 
'Merica! And Canada... 

Ian: Lord of the Flies.
Random notes:
- Arrived early, unexpectedly caught Ben who planned to get a head start and ran up with him. Not long afterwards the others arrived.
- Wore my cross country flats since my replacement trail shoes haven't arrived yet. Grip sucked. Rocks were especially slick and the lack of grip didn't help. Several slips, but thankfully no real falls. 
- Though drenched in sweat on the ascent because of the humidity, it didn't feel oppressive. Much cooler above treeline; refreshing. 
- Ben and I fell behind on the descent and accidentally took the wrong trail down (linked up to the right trail eventually). This threw Ian, Chris and Doug off a bit. Sorry guys. 
- Emerald Pool was packed with several obese folks. Quick jump in and we were outta there. 

Ran 9.4 miles @ 21:27/mile pace. Includes stops except for first summit and Emerald Pool. 
Insanely hilly. 
Lower 70s below, mid 60s above (?), partly cloudy, humid (lower elevations). 
Nike Waffle Racer VIII, shorts, short sleeved shirt, Nathan double water pack (diluted Gatorade). 

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Racing the Slugs

Recovery run on tap today, goal was to run very slow to loosen the legs after yesterday while banking some more miles. Pace ended up being very slow.

I could have pressed harder but that would have been counterproductive. Plus, I also have a mountain run on tap for tomorrow. I hope I have a bit more pep by then, but I suspect I'll be fine.

Ran 6.3 miles @ 9:14/mile pace.
Paved roads.
Mostly flat.
Mid 60s, overcast, humid.
Merrell Bare Access, short, short sleeved shirt, cap.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013


Legs still felt okay after this morning and the weather was still cool... so I thought, hmmmm, why not do a short, slow trail run so I can get in twenty for the day? Mission accomplished.

Deer flies were few and moving slow... a very rare treat for an afternoon in early July. Pace was very slow, thanks to giant puddles that could probably hold trout and legs that were still a bit tired.

Ran 5.5 mile @ 11:09/mile pace.
Very hilly.
Lower 60s, overcast, misty.
Nike Waffle VIII, shorts, long sleeved shirt, cap.

River Run

It seems much less common lately that I actually look forward to a run. Today was an exception though, as close to fifteen miles on the roads down to the Saco River and back seemed like it would be fun. 

And it was. I did have some GI issues in the first half and could feel and hear my stomach sloshing but that went away in the second half and things were much more pleasant. 

Fortunately, the weather was relatively cool and it was raining off and on. Good run all in all. I just wanted to run at whatever pace would allow me to finish comfortably to give myself a mental boost and I think I succeeded there. 

On a side note, wrote an email to Saucony about my Kinvara TRs blowing out on me during the Presi traverse and provided some pictures. Looking forward to their response. 

Ran 14.8 miles @ 8:10/mile pace. 
Paved roads. 
Moderately hilly. 
Around 60 degrees, overcast, intermittent light rain and mist. 
Saucony Virrata, shorts, short sleeved shirt, cap.