Thursday, December 31, 2009

One, Can Not Question Real Commitment.

I love chocolate...I don't think a day goes by that I don't devour my fair share (especially dark) My family makes jokes, people buy me chocolate gifts .....let's just say my desires are very well known......yet I realized that I am not commited. The photo above shows a women so commited that she dove into a large vat of chocolate sause.

Now that shows commitment and the electrons in my "guy" brain are firing off the wall with thoughts and ideas....Hmmmnnn...a women covered in chocolate, I think there is a heaven.

It got me thinking though, when related to my running this year, did I jump in head first to work toward my goals? No, I surely dipped in a couple toes, probably tasted a bit off the tip of my finger and ultimately dangled my legs in, but I didn't dive in.

Oh, I put in effort, actually good effort. What does one get from good effort, good performance? That's right you get back what you give. I wanted great things this year so I should have put in great effort. Had I dove in head first, I would have emerged covered in lushous dark chocolate.

2009 was a pretty good year for me running wise. I ran my first 50k ultra race (though some seasoned ultra racers do not view a 50k as a true ultra) I broke a thousand miles for the first time in a year, I ran some fun races, I spent some quality time with a bunch of running friends and experienced no real injuries.

Thing is, I started out pretty strong. I trained extensively for the 50K and ran the race accordingly. It was a high point and supposed to be the start of and a stepping stone to a great year. Somehow, things sort of rambled from there. I guess my training and races just sputtered and stalled.

I spent the summer and fall running some pretty OK times and there is no doubt that I had loads of fun. I must admit though, that I am sitting here today, the last day of the year and looking back a bit disappointed.

Yes, I am complaining and I do realize that I had a great year running, but it feels like Christmas morning is over, all my presents are opened, yet I didn't get the big special one I talked about and dreamed of all year.

There is no reason to feel this way. Hell, I ran a 50K, I ran 10 races, I spent some great times out on the trails with some fantastic people. How unfair am I with so many people out there that can't even run one mile(I ran over a thousand), people that are much less fortunate than me ..... who am I to complain?

I spent all year saying to myself, "I am doing this for fun, it doesn't matter what the outcome is." doesn't matter...I didn't think it did matter, yet I am not as satisfied as I thought I would be.

So, either it does matter or I am being very selfish. I suppose I have to do some soul searching and decide what I expect from myself and the upcoming year. I suspect if I had pulled off one good speed race, say a 5K or 10K PR, I would feel totally different.

I have to be honest with myself and admit that I didn't put in a PR effort during my shorter races so I can't expect a PR result. I can't be disapppointed because I got all I bargained for. I put in "OK" effort and received "OK" results. I have to be happy with that........I have to be.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Morning Dream

I love winter (when it's not raining) and would not trade the four season changes for anything.....but if I could wake up every morning to only one view, it would be similar to this one.

Well, last week was Christmas, I was sick, my furnace quit, I had shopping to do(I always wait till the last week) and only 3 days to schedule 5 days of work (I took one of those off to repair the furnace). There is no doubt that the week before Christmas is the ball and chain that breaks my flow and interupts any chance that I can get in my runs and workouts. Because of this and the extra problems this year, I basically took the week off from running. It was a good choice even if I gained a few pounds from all the food.

In my mind I visioned various long runs during the three days off for the holidays and dreamed of how great it would be to accomplish that.....of course it didn't happen but I did finally get in a short run on Sunday and it felt good to stop eating for a few minutes.

I got up early Sunday only to hear the heavy rain beating down on the roof which helped me decide to run inside and work on a hill workout. 4 miles continuous on 10% grade is a pretty decent workout and my body felt it. Not quite the long run I wanted but at least it was a run.

With the Holiday rush behind me, I am looking forward to some good long runs to prepare for a busy spring. I feel a little bit out of shape for the fatass GAC race but figure I will at least show up for the social aspect and probably knock off at least two 10k laps.

I have been meaning to catch up with these southern New England trail runners for some time and it seems this is a good chance to do just that. My schedule is a bit up in the air right now as I may run down to Boston and catch up with my son first ( I am hoping to get him to run with me as the 9th is my birthday) We will see what happens.

All and all, I am psyched for the new year. I am planning some new adventures, a few PRs and hopefully a 50 miler or at least a couple 5oK. I am thinking of the Vermont 50 or Stone Cat as options. Of course it all boils down to my health and my schedule, if they both co-operate 2010 could turn out to be a great year.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Reflecting.....Careful As you May Be Suprised!

This is a time of year that many people reflect on the past 11 months, try to understand themselves and bring their ups and downs into relevancy. Soul searching in a way to convince themselves that the year has brought their lives to a higher plain.

Are we seeing the honest truth or is our mirror distorted by a convex view? Do we see our true selves or merely an image of who we want to be? Perhaps what we should see is the reflection of who we want to be rather than who we are.

Until recently I thought a mirror should be honest and reflect who we really are, but after reading about a couple's passion to hike the Appalachian trail, I realized the mirror's job was totally different.

If one looks in the mirror and sees a reflection of a non-hiker,a non-runner, a non anything, then perhaps that is all they are and all they will ever be.

In this reading, the hiking couple apparently looked in the mirror and saw the reflection of two people with huge backpacks on, wearily smiling from ear to ear as they take the last step of their journey.

They saw this same reflection every time they looked in the mirror, regardless of what obstacle was thrown in front of them. They did not quit after hiking more than 1500 miles and being forced to stop because of an injury that postponed the continuation of their journey for a year. No, they still looked in the mirror and not only saw the projected end of their trek, but took that last step of the journey together three years later.

If the mirror only reflected their current image then perhaps they would never had finished the hike. I am envious that I didn't take on a journey like theirs, envious that I didn't have a personal relationship that paralleled theirs. Two people on the exact same wavelength, wanting the same end result and having the willpower and tenacity to see it through.

Yes, I am impressed and somewhat jealous as my journey at their age was so different and uncontrolled. perhaps adventures like theirs are long past for me but surely there are still images to be reflected from my mirror.

I now believe I should view things differently and use the past as great memories but not as a means to judge my capabilities. Even at my age, my future is still what ever image the mirror can show me.

I no longer need to reflect on last years or the last decades accomplishments. Instead I have to discount the true reflection of my past and embrace the distorted image of who I want to be.

I will be 54 in two weeks. My dad passed away when he was 54. He was feeble as I remember and I believe when he looked in the mirror he saw a feeble reflection of a once great and strong man. Perhaps if he had seen something other than the truth, he might have stayed around longer. The mind is a very strong tool and as I have seen with ultra running and the couple hiking, it is the mind that allows a person to finish the journey.

Reading the couples journey reminded my of the many times my dad took us hiking. We could descend Mt Washington in record time without injuries. He had no problem keeping up with us kids and he taught us so much about nature and the respect of it. It is his legacy I cherish as I run the trails and experience the excitement of what might be around the next tree or over the next rock. Once us kids moved on, he stopped his adventures.....I don't remember him ever hiking again.....I really don't know why.

My dad died on June 4th in his 54th year on this earth. I think it makes sense for me to climb Mt Washington on that day of my 54th year as a tribute to him and all he taught me. Perhaps his essence will meet me up there one more time.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

If Dragging Ass Was An Olympic Event....

My screen is gray and my keys are droopy as my internet connection is clouded by the unfortunate arrival of some bad-ass bug.

I should have known last week end when I "felt" tired and couldn't seem to get a run in. But, by Monday I was over it and ended up with some good runs along with some very strong workouts. I was actually impressed with how fast I sprung back.

I should have thought about it as I was put on Penicillin about a week ago to prep for some dental work.......I know it doesn't seem to make sense as one would think the medication would guard against sickness, but it actually kills the good hard fighting bacteria too.

So... here I am just a few days after bragging about how I couldn't remember the last time I was sick....well I can remember now! I start out pretty good in the morning but by mid afternoon I am dragging some serious ass and the last thing I am up to ...well..anything!

It is actually kind of humerous as Murphy's law seems to strike at the most in-opportune times ......Sunday I am Chrismas shopping and feeling like total crap, I get home and stagger into bed hoping that I die relatively soon......and what happens? Well 8:30 pm and the furnace quits.....OK..I can laugh now but at the time it felt more like a javelin piercing me right between the eyes. The best I can do is set up some electric heaters and collapse back in bed.

Monday morning I get up extra early to get on top of things at work before heading home to tackle the furnace. The morning starts well as I find out very quickly that my truck doesn't go too well with only three tires that have air in them. Luckily I have a second vehicle.

Seven hours later and more money than I am prepared to spend, I finally have our house back up to temp only to have the thing work real good for the evening and then decide to act up after midnight and when I am trying to sleep. I think things are purposely designed to break on or after midnight...actually I am sure of it!

One thing I learned as I grew older is not to get too worked up about things beyond my control and also that Murphy really tends to like spending time with me. I think I am his best friend or something.

So, no big deal and I will address the furnace tonite when I get home. I am sure by this weekend I will find the energy to get in a couple of good runs. In the mean time I will quietly suffer with this sickness and try not to bring down the Christmas spirit around me. HO...HO...(cough..cough)..HO.

An overview of last week:

3:00Am morning cardio and weight workout
6:00 pm 5.5 mile hill workout on the treadmill

3:00 Am morning cardio and weight workout.

3:00 Am morning cardio and weight workout.

3:00 Am morning cardio and weight workout.....this is feeling pretty good!
Early warning sign (fast forward to Sunday, the belt was the least of my worries)...the belt on the furnace broke..which made me late for my operation.
5 long hours getting 9 new teeth mounted (long story) Then replace the belt on the furnace...which is now working good (little did I know, the furnace would be back to haunt me on Sunday)
2:30 pm 5 mile hill run on the treadmill

At 3:00 am I am feeling a bit tired and sleeping like a baby, there was no way I was going to get up and workout! Worked all day and decided to call it a "rest day" with the plans of a long run on Sunday at Bradbury.

Am, dragging ass out of bed and feeling a few steps short of a good run.....decided to do an easy trail run of 3-4 miles and call it a day. Ended up running 4.65 and actually beside the fact I was feeling the sickness pretty heavy, I felt better after running. I think the brisk air helped clean out my lungs a bit.
PM...the furnace really broke this time.

I have a nagging feeling rolling around my brain as I should be thinking about 2010 running goals and plans.....yet I can't seem to get past my short term hurdles and immediate concerns....perhaps next week after Christmas has finally past and my schedule is a bit back to normal I will design a plan of all plans and begin 2010 with full intent of being a banner year....who could hope for more?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Could A Run Be A Scientific Expedition?

As I read the blog piece sent to the trailmonsters today, it started sounding very familiar......The trailmonsters are scientists! That's right, I couldn't believe it either.

The modern notion of science is a special kind of knowlege about the world (mountains, woods, trails) practiced by a distinct group (trailmonsters and all trail runners)and pursued through a unique method (trail running). Starting to Ring a bell?

Systimatic knowledge based on prescriptive practice (running logs and pace times) That is capable of resulting in a prediction or predictable type of outcome (Jeff's mathematical genius for the Hell race or any prediction of pace for certain race distances) In this sense, science may refer to a highly skilled tecnigue or practice (fell or trailrunning)

So training is really just a scientific experiment to help us realize our true potential. Perhaps we can qualify as a religion .....The Scientology Of Trailrunning....and our preacher (Ian) can guide us through the normal difficulties of life.

Our Sunday sermons (trail chatter as we negotiate places like Bradbury and Ian standing on a milk crate giving special guidence like "the bees will help you kick harder"or "run straight through the first puddle and the rest will not bother you") allow us to encompass all the worldly problems known to man.

It seems we could become a non profit endity and through federal grants and donations have the rescources to purchase vast tracts of undeveloped land. The possibilties are endless.

It's amazing.....I am a scientist and I didn't even know it!

Here is the site for those of you who have not read it...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Could I be turning Bi polar?


I woke up at 3:30 am, 3/4 of an hour earlier than usual, and was wide awake, feeling great and full gumsion. Wow, what a difference a day can make. After a discouraging weekend and felling very sluggish, I suddenly felt like I could shoot lightning bolts.

I decided to do my cardio/weight workout and honestly, it felt great! Perhaps I should workout this early every day. I put in a good half hour of heavy sweating, took a shower and made it to work 15 minutes early.

I only wish I had more time and I would have thrown in a run too. I guess I just don't understand as I am usually quite level emotionally and never fluxuate like I have in the last two days. Is it possible I am becoming Bipolar?

One problem I have is working 12 hour days.....dark on the way to work and dark on the way home....I think I would really struggle if I had to live in Alaska where it is continually dark for long periods of time.

It does feel good though to not be whinning and actually feel energetic. I thought perhaps I might be coming down with something as I just didn't feel well and I was experiencing body pains.....I can't remember the last time I had a cold or the flu and I was afraid it was finally getting to me.

But...No, I felt great this morning! There was no sickness getting the best of me. Suddenly I am thinking good running thoughts again and anxious to install my new Ice Spikes. They came today and though the head is somewhat smaller than my regular screws, they do look a lot stronger and grippier.

I was a bit disapointed though as I paid extra for the special tool....$10.00 to be exact.... only to find out it is nothing special, just a normal everyday hex head tool.

I have a bunch of them and they are all of a much better quality than this one. If anyone out there is thinking of purchasing these spikes, I would recomend to skip the set with the tool and just buy the spikes.....well assumimg they work well....I will report on that later.

I suppose, if someone did not already have a hex head socket, then the tool would work well for them but the web site could have explained what the tool was so people would not purchase something they didn't need. we will see what time I get up tomorrow is any ones guess!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Total Exhaustion

I didn't run Saturday and I didn't run Sunday, actually I havn't run since why am I so exhausted? Sure it has been busy and I have packed a lot of events into the last three days......but I feel as though I ran a 50K this weekend and then stayed up all night shoveling snow or something.

Even as I sit here and think of the many excuses I can use, it just does not make sense. Excuses only mean you didn't make things happen.....I did have a couple oppourtunities to get a run in but elected not to.

Friday night after work, I stayed late (11:30pm)installing a motor in my son's jeep and went back 6am Saturday to finish. once done I had to hurry home to get ready for my neices wedding, didn't get home until 10:30 pm so not much of a chance to get in a run.

Even though friday and Saturday were a wash, I was up early Sunday morning and could have at least fit in a 3-5 mile run before the Grandkids woke up, instead I went to the town garage and got 1/2 yard of sand to cover up the ice skating ring in my driveway.

Sunday afternoon I helped my son's girlfriend move her furniture and then put up the Christmas tree. After that I watched the last half of the Patriots game, I could have watched it while running on the treadmill....but I didn't. Sunday night I just fell onto the couch and tried to stay awake.

It is discouraging to realize that I only ran 10 measly miles this week and all of them were fairly easy on the treadmill. If I keep this crap up, I will not be running too many races in the near future.

Perhaps the past few months are just catching up with me and that coupled with the Thanksgiving and Christmas season is causing me to run on empty. It seems odd because I have no injuries to blame, I should be running like crazy.

I ususally take time off from running heavy during the late fall early winter .....maybe my body just expects that this year. I think it is more than that...I think I should have much more energy than I am feeling in these bones today.

What I need is a doll that looks like me to sit in my chair as I hide under the desk and catch a few Zs. One that looks pissed off so no one will want to come in my office, that way I won't get caught. I could hang a do not disturb/ meeting in progress sign on my door. What am I going to do to cover up the loud snoring though?

I am starting to think a 50 miler in the spring is not going to be plausable unless I get out there and do some long runs. Hell,the GAC fatass in two weeks seems beyond me, even though I was only planning 2-3 laps anyway.

I am getting older and I know that can play a part in recovery, but I have already been splitting up my runs with rest days and besides my mind keeps drifting back to the older guy (by 12 years) at the Bradbury 9 mile mountain race that not only pushed me during the first half but actually passed me a couple times, then finishing right behind me. He sure seemed to have plenty of energy!

The other thing that strikes me odd is that I haven't really raced a 5k or 10k this year....I mean racing to the point of gasping for the next breath and wondering if I can keep up the pace. Though I did race this year, I was not pushing to the point of no return as I have in the past and my times reflected that.

Is it possible that I am just going to keep getting slower and be more discouraged with my performance? Do I have to adjust my thinking to just running races rather than racing them? Like I heard someone say once, "if you can't run fast, then run long"

I suppose, thinking on the positive side, the motor job,the furniture moving and sanding the whole yard does kind of qualify as weight training and the dancing at the wedding is sort of cardio I could count those as a savior for the weekend and call it some training.

Sumary of a discouraging week:

3.27 10% grade hill workout @ 35:01
.4 cooldown

6 mile treadmill run @ 5% incline

.75 cooldown hill walk

12/10,11,12,13/09 nadda..nothing..ziltch.....a sad excuse for a runner.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Virgin Snow Runner

I missed the Saturday morning run with the Trail monsters but hoped to possibly catch a couple of them doubling up and running Bradbury Sunday.

Saturday night,I pulled out my Northface gortex trail runners and re-installed the screws from last year. It was spitting snow and there was a prediction of at least a few inches. I found myself becoming a bit excited as I prepared for a Sunday morning run on fresh snow.

As luck has it, and due to the fresh blanket of fallen snow, I was late getting to Bradbury. I arrived at 8:30 and figured anyone running today would surely be long gone and enjoying the trails already.

I was quite suprised when I turned into the park and there were no tire prints in the snow, I was the first one here, but that also meant that no other trail runners were likely to show up. This didn't dampen my excitement any as I suited up for the run, hey fresh virgin snow was just waiting for me to leave the first footprints of the day.

As I started my run it reminded me of a thread a few months back about gortex trail runners and how most of the comments were about the uselessness of them. Well in deep puddles I supose they are not too useful but in this type of run they were absolutely perfect.

There was some standing water in places but nothing deep enough to cover the whole shoe up to the ankle area. With 4" of snow and a little standing water the shoes did an excellent job of keeping my feet dry. To compliment that I wore my gaters to deflect the loose spraying snow. A perfect situation for Gortex.

What I wasn't prepared for was the trees throwing piles of snow at me. I am pretty sure they waited until I was passing by to drop huge mounds of snow from their branches. Anyone seeing me would have thought I rolled in the snow rather than ran in it.

One draw back to this run was the fact that the ground under the snow was still very soft and muddy. This made for an odd feeling when running and a situation where the energy was being sucked right out of my legs. It felt kind of like running on a snow covered mattress.

Another problem was navigating through the trail. Being the first one out on fresh snow cover, it was quite difficult to see the trail at times and I am sure I bushwacked a bit. I wasn't too worried though as I knew I could always follow my tracks back to the start.

Overall the run was fantastic. The minor inconvienences became the meat and potatoes of the run, without them what would make this run stand out in memory other than the snow sparkling as the sun peeked through the branches and the chrystal clear air.

Though my legs tired as the miles passed, my core felt great. I think the workouts I have been doing are really starting to prove themselves.

Weekend stats:
7am 3 mile cardio/ weight workout
3 pm 2 mile run at Twinbrooks with my daughter's pup.

Sunday...8:28 am 7.38 mile trail run @1:17:29 (10:28 pace)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Do I Need A Reason?

I really don't need a reason because I love to run, but my family, work and aquaintances expect it. Should I have to justify my runs? How does one carve up their time and decide what percentage is allowed as personal time? When does a person become a fanatic? I am sure this is a matter of perception and in the eyes of the beholder.

In a household where both spouse's have the same vision and drive, I am sure it is an easy question to answer and the reason does not come into question. What about a situation where only one of the spouses spends all their waking time running, what happens then?

I find without a definate goal or race, It becomes increasingly more difficult to justify setting asside other responsibilties to get in my runs. When I was running shorter distances, it was much easier as I could fit in 2-5 mile runs about anytime.

Training for the longer distances requires much more time and commitment. It is hard to appear sane when coming back from a 2-4 hour run, just for the fun of it. It raises less eyebrows, and gains more acceptance if one can cite a particular race or event that requires this type of training.

That being said and the fact that I didn't get into Boston, I suspect the best thing for me to do is settle on a race or races that will allow me to train with reason. Not reckless abandonment but at least free up some time for longer runs.

I have been toying with the idea of a 50 miler at Pineland, but am not sure I can schedule the time needed to train for it, so perhaps the 50K again might be a better choice. Also there is the Sugarloaf marathon as an option for a spring race to replace Boston.

I think I know what I want but then I get conflicting thoughts as I missed running the road races this year. I want to run some fast 5 and 10ks yet I want to do well in long distant trail races. I love the speed yet dread the crowds in the large road races. I seriously love the trails but can't seem to run them fast enough to quence my "speed thirst"

I worry that I will pick a direction only to find myself wondering if am going the right way. It should be simpler than this. It seems I just can't commit and without that I will not do very well reguardless of my choice.

It seems life would be so much easier if one could ramble through it doing whatever strikes the fancy at that particular time. A free spirit to flow with life paralelling what ever adventure it encounters and ending up where ever it leads.

Reality is in front of me though and I suppose that is where I must focus. Last night I did my new cardio/weight workout and then ran a three mile hill run at 10% grade on the treadmill. If I keep this up, I just might do well at the Mount Washington race (assuming I get in)

I actually enjoy hill training on the treadmill as it allows me to run longer times and distances without a flat or downhill. I wish I had one that would give me over 10% incline though. I had thoughts of setting up a fan so it feels like I am running outside, don't know if that would help unless I added some water or snow to simulate weather. Of course then I would have to clean up the mess. Did you ever notice that there never seems to be a right answer?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Back Bay Is A Wind Tunnel!

My week ended totally different than I planned. How often does that happen to you? My mind was set on a tough mountain race at Blackstrap hell. Sure seemed like a great way to end a Thanksgiving weekend.

I found out instead that I am surely not in controll of my own destiny as I not only didn't race, but I didn't even get in a trail run. This time of year seems so unforgiving to me and I am not really sure why.

The week actually started out pretty well with a great cardio/run workout tuesday, a grueling hill workout Wednesday, A tough cardio workout and hill workout Friday, Then in lieu of a trail run Saturday, I elected to run Back Bay twice with my friend Mike.

The thought seemed smart at the time, stay off the trails on Saturday, the last day of hunting season where the desparate may be looking for that last chance to snag a deer, get in a somewhat long easy run to leave something for Sundays grueling Hell race.

The first sign of trouble with my plan was Saturday morning when a gusting gale wind decided to circle Back Bay and continually slam my body with a restriction that surely mimicked running Mount Washington much for an easy run.

I thought it strange that there were not hordes of people running and walking the Back bay route. Once we started running and felt the force of the wind, I instantly knew why. The feeling of running in place and gasping for the oxygen as it was wisped from my mouth by the wind was not what I had in mind and actually the thought crossed my mind to just pack it up for the day.

Instead we decided to at least do one lap and see how we felt as far as a second lap went. I was suprised how hard and solid the trail felt. I hadn't run this in a long time and seemed to remember a softer loose type surface.

After the first mile, I started settling in to a pace but had to double back quite a few times to meet back up with Mike. It is funny, ususally I have no trouble working pace with other runners, but today I kept creeping into a faster pace ....perhaps it was the wind and my mental attitude to try and prove it was not the boss.

Once I warmed up, I actually felt pretty good and embraced the wind head on. Even with the run backs, I gained speed each mile and finished with a pretty strong kick (considering the wind)

I worked so hard during the first lap that I felt I should scale things back a bit for the second and vowed I would stay with Mike this time. Of course I couldn't seem to hold back enough and did circle back a couple times. In the end I layed out a pretty good finishing kick and was finally satisfied with my run for the day.

Sunday was shot in the eye as I had to make a decision to skip the Hell race. What made the whole thing worse is that I was the one who made the decision and could blame no one but myself for the heavy heart.

There was no one to yell at, no one to watch my temper tantrum as I complained about the unfairness of life. Not one person to blame other than me. Is it still a fair excuse when it is yourself? Why do we have to be responsible? Who instilled those moral beliefs in my brain that causes me to make wise choices? Why did my parents have to do such a Damn good job.

I want to be selfish, yet I can't and I wasn't .... so the end result is a missed race and a missed oppourtunity for a great amount of fun. Someday I will retire and have the luxury of time. Yeah...someday.

Week's Workouts

Tuesday: Three mile cardio/and weights
Wednesday: 34 minutes cardio, 3 mile hill workout 10% grade on the teadmill
Friday: 48minute cardio, 5 mile w/ 3 mile 10% grade
Saturday: double Back Bay

1st loop 3.72 miles @34:20 (9:14p)
8:33....149-163 (kick@7:51)

2nd loop 3.59 miles @36:05 (10:03p)
8:28....143-160 (kick@7:35) running at all!