Thursday, July 30, 2009

Be Careful What You Wish For!


We all have been talking and wishing for good old Maine summer weather......We used to call it "The Dog Days Of Summer" When the sun would beat down in an unrelentless
manner, hot and humid with nary a breeze....Oh it was perfect swimming weather. We complained about it when it arrived yet yearned and dreampt of it when adding those extra layers in the sub zero temps of winter.

Lately.....well for the last month or so we have had day after day of rain and very few bright sunny days. Everyone has been talking about the good ole times with endless days of bubbling warm rays of sunshine.

Well, today we got our wish. So much so that there was at least three H's in humid making the 88 degree reading on my thermometer seem wrong....surely it was at least a hundred. I knew it would be a tough run today, yet I was so looking forward to it. I was undecided.......duplicate the track workout I missed last night or an ass kicking tempo run in the woods?

Finally I decided that if the humidity was going to make me miserable, at least I could find a way to enjoy it. Now, I do enjoy track workouts (especially if it is raining) but in the humidity something about having to do math also just felt like too much work.....calculating and checking splits, stopping and I think a step up tempo style trail run seems much more fun. Besides, if it does start thunder and lightning, I think I would rather be in the woods.

I went to Bradbury (east side) and hit the trails with vengence. I didn't do a warmup.... Hey I was already sweating while putting on the running shoes! I realized immediately I had made the right choice, besides the slight distraction of a few bikers, I couldn't have had a better run.

I felt strong and fast, I negotiated the corners with a calculating precision and occasionally switched from Bipod to Tripod as I used a tree to slingshot my body to the right direction.

I couldn't have been wetter if it was pouring out. The humidity raised it's ugly head and my body laughed.....laughed at the sweat, snickered at the shortness of breath, cut through the thick air as if I were a huge knife that had been sharpened that very morning.

There were bikers behind me but they couldn't catch me as I created air over rocks and stumps, while dodging the gooey center of semidryed up mudpits. I was suprised how much standing water and puddles have dissapeared since my run here last Saturday.
Left behind were the mudpits from hell as it seemed their only function was to steal my traction and attempt to force me off the trail.

I rounded one corner and heard the yell of a biker...."Runner!" He pulled to the side of the trail as I easily skipped around him while saying thanks. The riders behind him scattered off the trail as if he had yelled Bear or Moose! I felt honered that they acknowleged my determination not to fall as the down hill gravitational pull would not allow me to stop gracefully.

As the sweat poured out of my body, I found my mind wandering to a vision of ice covered trees and cars ..... how cool would that feel at the end of this run? Completely covered in ice and calming down the hot sizzle imbedded in my skin. That is when the thought came to me....."careful what you wish for" surely I was not going to wish for winter....not right now anyway. I resigned to the knowledge that the 75 degree water of my pool would more than satisfy my baking bones.

It was a great run and surely it was no where near as fast as it felt....but it sure felt fast! Of course as usual the Garmen regestered many strait lines proving that it missed oh so many turns of the trail, thus making it hard to calculate my true mile pace. I did however have the Nano on (which always reads a bit long because of the shorter strides in the trail) Between the two I think I have a fairly accurate protrayal of my run.

6+- miles ..55:44 (9:20 pace?)
8:28...153-169(8:09 kick)
Not sure about these splits, I felt faster in miles 1 and 3 than I did in mile 2.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wednesday Morning Pancakes

Every Wednesday morning I have a large helping of blueberry pancakes. It has become somewhat of a tradition. I am usually pretty hungry the day after my extensive track workout. I don't hold back either.....a heap of butter and plenty of syrup....not that I plan it that way as it is purchased not made at home. My boss brings in breakfast for the men each morning. Wednesday is the only day I get anything.

Well.....this morning he showed up with my pancakes and I didn't really want to eat them. Oh.....not that I wasn't hungry or didn't want them but because I skipped track last night and had that nagging feeling that I didn't deserve them.....or more like didn't need that many calories after a night of only mowing and swimming.

You see, I had no choice but to trade off track night for mowing night as the forcast showed rain and thunder showers for the rest of the week. With me racing Saturday, that left no time for the mowing if it rains Sunday.

My rational thought pattern last night was that I can easily run in the rain but can't mow in the rain. This has been such a rainy spring and summer, I felt I better get the mowing done before it turned into haying.

It made plenty of sense last night right up until I finished and it started getting dark. It was then that the reality kicked in and I was hit with the fact that I didn't run track....I didn't get that workout my brain and body felt for sure I needed before the race.

I could conjour up a vision in my mind of my track buddies laboring through the last of the 6x800s....gasping for as much oxygen as they could find, swiping the massive beads of sweat from their face,their muscles screaming for relief yet their body bubbling over with that huge feeling of accomplishment.

After the meek workout I had mowing, with barely a bead of sweat breaking through to the surface, I didn't earn the breakfast. I wish I could go back, I wish I could get that workout in, but they say one can't make up for a lost workout. All I can do now is move on.

My only hope is that I can kick my own butt tonight with a very hilly tempo run to burn off the syrup, the butter, the pancakes and this feeling of letting myself down.
A second option would be to go to the track and duplicate last nights workout. I may do that.

This is exactally the reason I have not trimmed down to my PR racing weight. I enjoy eating way too much. In 2003, when I PR'ed this race, I was 10 pounds lighter.....I totally planned on being at the same weight this year....I am not.

In 2003 and 2004, I could literally watch the winter weight peel off my body on a daily bassis as spring turned into summer.....since then, I have really struggled. The only thing I can hope for is to at least beat my last years 10K time of 48:03. Perhaps I can do that.

After tonight, there will be no more time for quality training as I must taper and rest for the race. Tonite is my last chance...I hope I don't blow it by skipping the run and replacing it with a huge spagetti dinner or something.

As usual, I am on the wake of a race that is important to me and I am not as prepared as I should be or could be. I have discounted my own training by not sticking to the plan. I again have to tone down my goals to match my condition.

My brain want's to crush my 44 minute run in 2003 but my body will have all it can do to beat the 48 minute run from last year. Luckily for me, I ran 50 minutes the year before so it is pretty certain that I won't run my worst time on this course.

OK....I am done whinning and complaining....see what unearned blueberry pancakes can do to a person?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

From one extreme to another


Saturday I ran my long...muddy...wet...trail run of over 10 miles in an overcast like condition. Upon return the first thing one must do is wash the running shoes and legs. Sunday I ran with Mrs. pathfinder as an easy run.

She is training for the Beach to Beacon 10K and the plan I laid out for her very first race ever was a walk/run combo to guarantee a finish. You see she has never run before and this is probably a pretty tough race to do as a first one.

Anyway, we hit the road for a planned 4 mile walk/run at a combined pace of 13+ minutes or so. Mostly tar, with humid sunny conditions, at this effort was quite a contrast to Saturdays trail say the least.

We got talking during the first mile of the run and she mentioned she had hoped by now she would have progressed enough to run the whole 10K. Well, we would have had to adjust the training before now to gear up for that and honestly until the last 2-3 weeks she hasn't pushed the running too much.

I decided to see if she had a steady run in her and offered to pace her in a 5K distance with out walking to see how she would do. We would run a 5K loop from our house with a fair amount of uphill and about 1 mile of dirt roads.

She took the bait and we ran the whole distance. The pace averaged out to about 12:40 pace which was quite a bit faster than we were training the walk run. I was impressed with her detirmination and the fact that she did have the running base to pull off a 5k. I also reminded her that there was nothing wrong with a walk/run pace and if she got tired to switch back to that.

She was quite happy (and tired) when we finished. I told her to put a little extra effort in her stretches after running that distance. Her response was suprising, she wanted to run again on Monday.


The air was hot heavy and sticky today at work and I seriously doubted that the Mrs was going to be up for a run. I assumed I would get home to hear her complain about the stiffness in her legs, the hot humid temps and opt for either a walk/run or no run at all.

The suprise was on me as she immediately hit me up when I got home. She asked if I still wanted to run with her. Wow......I agreed but decided we should shorten the distance a bit to be sure she didn't push too hard.

We ran a 2.5 mile loop at a much faster 12:04 pace and she did extremely well. I congratulated her and we went for a cooldown swim after. I told her that this doesn't neccesarily mean she will be able to run the whole 10K, but if she starts this way, stops at each water stop to drink, there is a good chance she might pull it off.

I am suprised how much I enjoyed this very easy pace, it gave us a chance to talk without the normal interruptions. I figure this type of running works very well for me and gives me a fun running partner on rest days.

Sunday 3.1 miles @40:29(12:40 pace)
Monday 2.5 miles @30:09(12:04 pace)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Great trail running


For some reason, Friday was a tiring day. Right now I can't think of what I did out of the ordinary to be that way, but I went to bed totally beat. I kept thinking about my commitment to run Bradbury Saturday morning. I kinda promised Mindy I would be there at 6am and at the time I definately planned on it.

I thought about just showing up at 7 am and only running one loop but I really wanted to get in two hours of trail running. What a delema, if only I had an idea of how I would feel in the morning.

I decided to let fate take over. I would go to bed and stop thinking about it and when I woke up in the morning I would see what time it was then decide what to do.
So I half woke up at 5 am, squinting at the clock, I felt tired and beat, there was no way I was going to roll this old body out of bed and I made a mental note to lay my head back down and shoot for the 7am start instead.

Since I was still half asleep, I only felt half guilty about closing my eyes and wasting a good hours run, surely someone else will show up early and run with Mindy.
Besides, I didn't really commit to 6am, I commited to running saturday morning. No matter how my brain rationalized it, I knew I would not be happy with myself for making this half asleep decision. Too late now though as my eyes closed and my brain fell into a dream about something....what I don't remember.

Suddenly, as if the person whose was responsible for wake up calls finally realized they were not living up to their duties, my eye lids were pried open and I was awake.
To my suprise when I looked at the clock, it had only been 10 minutes since I grudgenly (OK, maybe the word should be anxiously?)decided to be lazy and lay my head back down on the pillow.

Isn't the mind odd? merely 10 minutes ago I could hardly force my head up off the pillow and now I was wide awake. I jumped out of bed, got dressed, made a cup of coffee, got all my running things together and hit the road. By 5:45 I was driving toward Bradbury and pretty darn happy about it.

By the time I covered myself in bug repellent, (which I found out later I didn't need), Mindy was tuning into the entrance to Bradbury. I think she recognized me right away because she waved. OK......well maybe she didn't recognize me as much as she saw a person with running attire on an assumed it must be someone that showed up at 6 to run the trails.

I had the pleasure of running with mindy last winter as we were both coming off injuries and running a bit slower than the group. Well actually I was running much slower, lagging is a better term and the running together was during the run back to the parking as we both quit the group after about 4 miles.

I really wasn't looking for a "race pace" run this day and hoped that Mindy was up to something much more casual. We figured we would run the Scuffle loop and be back in time to meet up with the others who were starting at 7:00.

Other than getting pretty wet and muddy, (of course that was expected after a full night of heavy rain), the pace and the run was perfect. We talked pretty constantly and I am sure she is sick of hearing me brag about my kids.

Upon our return to the start, we almost missed the 7am group, I think they started a bit early. Luckily they noticed us coming out of the othere trail and yelled to get our attention.

This group consisted of Ian, Steve and Valerie, we met up and proceded to follow Ian back into the woods. The larger group was fun because we jockied positions a lot which gave us the oppourtunity to talk with different people during the close to 6 mile run.

By the time we finished this loop, I had logged over 10 miles and reached the 2 hour limit I had set upon myself. Now I could scoot back home, get a few laps in the pool for a cooldown and still be able to meet my obligations for the day.

When we reached the parking lot, a new group of runners were ready to join for the mountain side run which I think they planned an additional 9 miles or so. I would have loved to run the Breaker course with them but I had to go.

It seemed to workout fairly well to have approximate 1 hour loops so we could meet with the others at their starting times, yet still run as a group. I guess I have probably said this too many times before but Bradbury is such a great place to run and train.

total trail miles 10.68...1:55:11(10:48pace)
First loop 4.98 miles (11:43 pace)
Second loop 5.69 miles (9:59 pace)

Friday, July 24, 2009

What's My Plan?

It's friday morning and it's raining. Actually it seems normal to me as we have had so much continuous rain this year. I took Wednesday off from running and just swam some laps. This old body was pretty tired from the track workout and the last thing I want is an injury.

Thursday, I wanted to run an easy 4 miler with the Mrs. as it would be a perfect easy run for recovery. Well it threatened of rain (though it didn't) so the mrs just didn't feel like running. It's OK because she has been doing so well.

Funny thing though, I could have gone without her but honestly I was feeling tight and tired. I think subconciously I jumped at any excuse to just veg on the couch. I am doing a long trail run this weekend so I suppose not running a few nights in a row won't affect me that much.

I have been thinking about the hard workouts like track, if I put in so much effort that I feel like taking numerous days off after, am I gaining or losing in the long run? As hard as it was, as much effort as I put in, I still had fun and felt satisfied. Surely it would be viewed as a combination long run with the distance of 9.9 miles I put in.

It seems that after a "hard/long" a rest would be expected. Yet....something inside is nagging me about the time off, yeah I know it is only a few days but I feel a bit guilty, like I will be sorry as my performance will suffer in my next race.

I know that is not true in the common sense part of my mind. I know a few days will not make or break a runner. Somewhere deep inside this weird mind though there is a voice and it is saying, "you need to run more, harder, longer, or you will never meet your goals....stick to your plan"

Whait a minute! What plan? Honestly my plan was training for the 50k, I didn't really devise a plan for after, for the rest of the summer. Sure I signed up for some important races and I kept training.......but a plan?

The analytical part of my brain, which by the way seems to take over my life most of the time, suddenly realized that I had failed. I did not think about my goals, my reason for training, my need to feel good about my progress......I have been running without a plan.

It brings this cartoon image in my head of a bunch of small people dressed in very colorful atire, running around, waving their arms and chanting, " A PLAN!...A PLAN!...HE HASN'T GOT A PLAN!...OH ME, OH MY, HOW WILL HE GET BY!!

Do I really need to have a plan? At what point does a persons actions become fanatical and who decides what fits into that catagory? If I run because I enjoy it, it's a hobby. If I train and conciously plan for performance gains, it's a sport. If I begin to plan my running to intertwine with my life I am a serious runner. If I wrap my life around my running I guess that is finatical.

I find myself wondering, when did I cross that line? What day was it that I became a finatic? Do you think this is how drug addicts feel? They ramble through life enjoying their recrational drug use then suddenly one day they wake up and realize they are addicted. Their whole life now evolves around getting that drug....thinking only of the next fix.

I suddenly realize it is true, people don't ask me, "are you running this week?" they say "what are you running this week?" They know I am running, that is a given.
I don't wake up in the morning thinking, hey maybe I will run a race this weekend or maybe I'll train for a race next month. No.....I worry about the runs I will miss and the things that will get in the way of running.

I try to continuously work my schedule around running. I get discouraged when things interfere and I have temper tantrums when I miss a workout or a race. I think to myself that I can stop if I want and somedays I really want to......but I don't....I can't. I realize that I NEED to PR that next race, I NEED to run that longer distance, I WANT to climb that huge hill.

In writing this entry, I find I do have a plan after all. My plan is to run when ever I can, to get out there and enjoy nature while at the same time leaving the worries of everyday life behind..... even if it is only for an hour or so. I guess that is not such a bad it?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ass Kicking At track


The track workout seemed excessive when I read the email, I was hoping for an easy rain because I knew it would be extremely hot attempting this workout. I got my wish as there was a steady rain during most of the session.

To start with I planned a mile or so warm up but by the time I was done talking I had run 3.01 miles. Oh well it was quite easy and I didn't think at the time it would affect me too much....that was until I started working out.

I can't blame the difficulty of this workout just on the warm up though as I set my goals a bit agressive. We run intervals at a percentage of our mile time trial. I hadn't run one since the first of June so I wasn't really sure how much I might have progressed.

My June time trail was 7:10 and that was done alone with no competition so I figured I probably could have done at least 7 min and now that a few weeks have gone by, probably a bit faster. Somehow I translated that into 6:50 mile pace....not sure what I did to decide that but like I said, probably a bit agressive.

After the stretching and form runs,which included lunges,butt kicks, skips, leg lifts and step up speed sprints (equaling about .5 miles), the plan was 4x200 intervals @ 110% of mile time and 100 jog recoveries between.

I figured my pace should be about 6:08 for 110% of 6:50. Somehow I ran the 4x200s at an average of 5:43 pace. Though I kept telling myself (and my group) that we should slow down..(and they agreed) we still ended up running the faster pace.

I knew it would probably come back to haunt me during the 800s, but luckily they were at much better, or so I thought. The plan was 4x800s on the track then 1x800 on the double hill (to simulate pace on two uphills and two down hills) then right back to the track for 2 more 800s.

I think the coach was snickering behind our backs on this plan as he knew the hill work would throw off our workout and cause us to really suffer during the last two 800s. He was right of course. The first four 800s went pretty good, then we got carried away on the hills and somehow it felt like a race.

This was all fine and dandy until I started the final two 800s....damn, my legs were like concrete pillars and I felt like my form was all off.....and we had 4 more 200s to do after...I was having trouble visioning being able to run the 200s.

All said and done, the 800 splits were planned at 95% of mile time or 7:08 pace. I got carried away..again.... and ran an average pace of 6:49, but the hill work was at 7:02. The whole group was complaining about the 200s to come and they decided to take a break and rest before starting them.

I didn't think it was a good idea as we would tend to stiffen up a bit and the 200s would probably feel much I just jumped right into them alone. I was right as the group said after how tough it was to get into the 200s after resting for 10 minutes or so.

Being right was not rewarding at all as I really struggled with the pace and recieved a serious butt kicking on the 4x200s. I planned 110% or 6:08 pace but just couldn't find that gear. My average was 6:20 pace, though my last 200 was at 5:44 pace (it seems I just have to kick at the end of any run).

I did enjoy watching the rest of my group suffer as they were still running their 200s when I finished. Boy did they look beat. I only cracked a little smile on the outside but was laughing quite hard on the inside.

Well, any good workout deserves a cooldown run and this was no exception, though I really felt like just slumping into my truck and just driving home by this time.
I ran a seemingly easy cooldown of .81 miles at a respectable 8:59 pace.

The coach say's that if you can't finish the workout at the planned pace then you didn't do it right.......Yeah, like he didn't plan on a bunch of sore butts after this
extensive workout that he called "a step down workout because most of the runners were signed up for a 5K this Sunday."....What?... A step down? I figured it was good thing cause a "step up" would surely have killed me!

All said and done the workout was:
Warmup run
form running and stretching
7x800@95% (#5 being a hill workout)
cooldown run

Total miles for the night 9.9 miles and boy was I beat.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Vacation Running.

Bradbury Scuffle....We look so clean here...the mud has no idea what is about to come, it will soon be slapped around by hundreds of unforgiving feet!

Yes, it is true that I actually took my first vacation last week with absotulety no destination. I have never just stayed home for a week and done whatever.....well until now.

One thing I noticed is that I was much busier than I thought I would be....I didn't even write in this blog. I did however get in some good running, a couple races and spent plenty of time lazing around the pool.

I will quickly recap the weeks running:
7-9-09 double 3.4 mile loop at close to race pace with a 1/2 mile cooldown
6.8 miles @56:28(8:19pace)

7-12-09 Bradbury Scuffle RACE. After rainning all night, the puddles and mud were nothing short of exciting. Ian recommended to just power right through the first puddle and that is exactally what I did. I did loose my right shoe in one mud pit but didn't loose too much time getting it and putting it back on.
6.34 miles (garmen) @9:32 pace. .....1 mile warmup @10:16, .75 mile cooldown @ 9:48pace. This race was lots of fun and as usual Ian did a great job. when I got home the cooldown in the pool felt perfect.

7-13-09 In the morning I ran an easy (for me) 4 miler with Mrs pathfinder and she did a great job.
In the afternoon I ran the Pat's pizza 5 mile loop in preparation for Saturdays race and to show a new runner the course. 45:40 --8:57pace.

7-14-09 Trip to inlaws in running today, I left at 5:30am and returned at 12:00 ...yeah midnight! I was quite tired.

7-15-09 Easy 3 mile run in the morning with Mrs Pathfinder(34:16)then swimming laps.

7-16-09 Easy 3 mile run in the morning with Mrs Pathfinder (35:41) swimmung laps then took the mrs to climb the rocks at Fort Williams and show her the finish to the B to B(which she will run as her first race)

7-17-09 Easy 3 mile run bla bla bla bla with the Mrs......(33:59) swimming laps.

7-18-09 1 mile warmup for Pat's RACE @9:24 pace. Ran pat's 5 miler at 38:27(7:41pace) Then .81 mile cooldown. I felt very good racing and my time, though not a PR was very respectable and satisfying.....when I got guessed it some tiring laps in the pool then the well deserved beers.

7-19-09 Easy 3 mile run with Mrs Pathfinder (31:45....see the trend? She is doing better each time) Then lots of swimming with all the company that stopped by....because it was hot and we had a pool.

7-20-09 Damn.....4:30 am came so quickly and it was back to working for a living.

Total miles for the week 28.6 not counting the lap swimming for cross training.
Hmmnn....I think I could enjoy retirement, sure is easier to get the running in.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Dreams, Desire and Determination

When we see people accomplish things beyond our own perceptual capabilities, we tend to mention their talent. “What a talented runner”, “If only I had the talent to swim that fast!”Is it really talent that we can give the nod to or something else? I find myself pondering this very thought. I have run a lot of races, I never win or even place in my division. I suppose I would be called a “middle packer” Am I lacking in talent?

Recently I realized that talent is really Dreams, Desire and Determination. We need these three things to accomplish most goals. Though we all have certain attributes that may allow us to progress beyond others in many categories, they are almost useless without a conscious thought to utilize them. The Kenyan’s have features because of their build structure and environment that allow them the opportunity to do very well when running, yet every Kenyan is not a first class runner.

What this shows us is that even if we are blessed with athletic features, we need something else to reach our goals. To start with we have to have the internal vision (dreams), thus creating desire. When desire is combined with determination, we achieve results. Of course an athletically designed body will offer a chance for greater results.

The point here is, nothing is easy or free, we have to work and train to achieve our dreams. The question is: To what sacrifice and level are we willing to go to experience our dreams? Until this year I was one of those people that viewed great feats by others as something they were probably born with…like some special internal mechanism that I wasn’t lucky enough to get when they were handing out bodies. They were so lucky!

This year I decided to train and run an ultra, specifically the 50K (31 miles) at Pineland Farms Trail Challenge (New Gouucester, Maine). Until I actually ran it, I could not imagine in my mind running that far through the woods. Hey the human body is not designed to run that far. I did my research and found out how to train properly. I was lucky enough to cross paths with The Trail Monsters. These crazy trail runners were bubbling with pertinent information and anxious to help me with my endeavor.

The decision was the easy part (the dream), the difficult part was the massive time commitment needed to train for such a long race. I developed a plan and followed it as best as I could considering the training started in the dead of winter. It was so different than anything I have done. I had to stop thinking about speed and start thinking about time management, fueling for the body and understanding my own limitations.

I honestly had two thoughts when I started training, am I crazy and this will probably be my first DNF (did not finish) ever. I shuttered at the thought of quitting or in the case of running ultras, being forced to quit. Forced because of injury, physical or mental breakdown. Unlike shorter distance running, finishing is not guarantied, it is a luxury.

The training is where desire comes into play. It takes a lot of desire, to set aside family functions, work requirements and personal responsibilities to allow enough time to train for this distance. One training run on the weekend takes a whole day, 4 plus hours of running (basically running until you are dead and the muscles just plain give out) and the rest of the day recouping from the training. Sometimes struggling the next day too because I overworked a muscle or did not fuel or hydrate properly.

Unlike short races, you can’t run the total distance in practice to bring on the mental confidence you need to tell you that you CAN finish. Instead you show up on race day hoping you have some special mental toughness or capability to go the distance. I trained for 4.5 hours on my feet, I estimated 6.5 hours to hit the finish line. I had two hours of running that my mind could not wrap itself around. It was something I had never done……never. I didn’t know if I could do it.

Finally after training for months, running on snowmobile trails, climbing the power lines on snow shoes, tromping through piles of mud and water from the snow melt off, The race was only two weeks away. I did not feel ready at all. Suddenly I felt I required at least two more months to train. Surely I was not yet capable of running 31 trail miles, what was I thinking? Why didn’t I train harder or run longer? Why did I sign up for this? I must have been crazy?

The thought actually crossed my mind (more than once) to find some type of excuse not to show up. I couldn’t fathom having to tell people that I couldn’t finish. My running acquaintances all told me I was ready. They had been following my training and were sure I could accomplish an ultra……yeah easy for them to say. This is where the determination starts. I had to trust my training, trust my physical condition, trust my mental toughness. Besides all that training, all the inconveniences, all the times I missed out on things, would be for nothing. I had to at least try.

Well, surely I wouldn’t be writing this if I hadn’t shown up to the starting line and maybe I wouldn’t be writing this if I had not finished (who knows). So, we all know that I finished and that was the determination part of the equation. The last 2 hours were no mans land and I made it through. I knew deep inside that my body was trained for this endeavor, what I didn’t know and wouldn’t admit to everyone is whether my mind could step up to the plate and push me to the finish.

I could give a blow by blow account but the race took me 6 hours 28 minutes and 46 seconds. I would normally have to write a book to cover that. Honestly, I don’t have much to write about because the whole thing went so well. I had very few issues, my battle plan went like clock work and my mind came through in the end. I split my race into 3x 10 mile segments and ran almost even splits. The funny thing was that the minute the cowbell went off and we started running, I knew I was going to finish, there was no doubt what so ever.

I think there is something magical about the open green fields, the smell of pine needles in the woods, the rays of sun light peaking around trees, The calming sounds of forest creatures reminding you that you are not alone, your own essence blending with and becoming part of nature. Ultra running is so different than road racing, it is not a race, but more like an adventure.

Instead of racing people, you interact with them. I had dozens of interesting conversations during my 6 plus hours of running. I met seasoned runners, first time runners, some didn’t get around to talking about their running. We talked about life, and why we were spending the whole day tromping through the woods. We talked about our families, our jobs, our mutual enjoyment with running. No one was there because they hated nature, no one was racing to beat each other to the finish line. We all talked about meeting at the end and enjoying that final step, the last of thousands that echoed the words “I finished”

This course gave me a dose of everything, continuous rolling hills, spacious open green fields, early morning dew, amazing views, blazing sun, cooling rain, babbling brooks, the smell of “camp”, majestic trees, interesting people and a huge smile when I was done. Oh, and if you finish, you get a cowbell……….yeah how great is that? I literally enjoyed the whole race, It was worth all the prep, the effort and the months of training

I have to give a lot of the credit for my success in this race to the Trail Monsters and the Pineland farms Challenge. What a well organized event and run by people who know what trail running is all about. The atmosphere was fantastic, the BBQ and beer was amazing and every little detail was covered. For all my effort I received a much sot after cowbell, a life time memory and the title of Ultra Runner……what more could I ask for?

In the end I realized, that it didn’t take talent to deliver me to the finish line, what it took was the Dream of running, the Desire to train for my dreams and the Determination to follow through to the end. This is a formula that can be applied not only to running but to any endeavor in life. One other thing I gained from this experience is confidence. I now know that if I decide to run a 50 miler, a 100 miler or take on any type of task, I will accomplish my goals.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

What Is Not Fun About Running Bradbury In The Rain?


Well it was track night and honestly I could not force myself to run around the track in the heavy rain. Somethings just suck in this kind of weather and a track workout is one of them.

As I watched the rain barrel out of the sky, I was hit with the vision of the Bradbury Scuffle last summer. The weather sucked....the race was excellent! It got me thinking about the Scuffle this weekend. I suspect it will probably rain. I base that on the Law of Averages....let me see 22 days of rain in the last 25 days....yeah it might rain Sunday.

Now I hate to miss a chance on some well needed sprint workouts, especially with the B to B coming up in a few weeks, but Bradbury East in the rain and mud at a somewhat race pace is a great substitute.

In the beginning I was looking for a core workout and used the dodging of puddles, mud and branches for the legs and core. It is a great way to work in plyometrics and my legs can attest to that this morning.

After a couple miles my focus changed to speed more than core, plus the fact that my feet were completely soaked anyway, I paid very little attention to the puddles and stomped right through them. There is something from my childhood that surfaces when pounding through puddles and mud......kind of a tranquil feeling.

It's funny, once you accept and embrace the rain, it no longer proves to be a hinderance and actually helps me as I run cooler. The one thing it doesn't do in the muddy woods is cleanse......boy was I muddy!

After the 4 plus mile run, I walk/jogged up Bradbury mountain and gained a vision of mostly fog at the summit. I then ran a cooldown for about a mile back to the parking lot. I guess it wasn't really a cooldown as I ran pretty fast and utilized a decent kick at the end. How could I not with the force of gravity pulling me down the hill.

After this run, I am looking forward to the Scuffle race this weekend. I just hope I don't end up with schedule problems. It seems to be a struggle this year, I have had many unforseen and quick changes with my time management.

4.5 miles trail @ 44:54 (9.28 pace)
8:12 (decent kick)
.4 mile hill climbing (walk/jog)
1 mile cooldown/really too fast for a cooldown run (10:01 pace)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Good Time or "Good Time"


After running my race pace 4 mile workout Friday, I thought perhaps I would have dead legs for the LL Bean 10K. I know....why did I push it that hard on Friday? Well I didn't get to run Thursday and I planned on an easy 3 mile run on friday .....Honestly I started my run that way..nice and easy.

Well one thing lead to another and next thing I knew, I was running close to race pace and really enjoying it! I ran 4 miles with huge negative splits...started at 9 min but average 8:09 pace. During my 1 mile cooldown run I felt just plain great about the run though I did worry a bit about jeopardizing the 10k for Saturday.

My plan Saturday was to use this race race as a training run, so start out at 80-85% effort .... (8:25 pace) then just let the run happen. This would be the first time I have run this race more as a training run than a race. I suspected it would end up quite slow and I would probably be disapointed after the fact.

I definately started a bit too far back as I walked for 15 seconds to the start line then walk/run surged for at least 200 yards. I hate that....I just want to start running.

The first mile felt easy and the conversation was good as my youngest son ran with me even though he was running injured. I think he wanted to justify getting the shoes because he probably should have sat this one out. (yeah we got new running shoes because we were in the first 400 to great is that?)

It is funny how things work out. My oldest son wanted to put up a good time, but he drove from a 12 hour overnight shift at the hospital to the starting line (he did pull off a not too shabby 7 min pace), My daughter downgraded her run to a walk/run because of a sore hip, her boyfriend was running his first race,I was training more than racing and my youngest son had sore ribs....what a crazy group and on top of that it was a very foggy day.

I came through at 7:44, A bit faster than I planned but it was mostly down hill to this point. At mile two I was still feeling very good and even with the hills I averaged 8:09.......again pretty darn good for a training run. I knew the big hills were still lurking out there and was glad I was saving some energy for them.

After mile two my youngest backed off and I continued to pick off runners as I maintained a good pace. I felt great! I don't know how else to describe it. Was it the slower than normal start, The heavier base training this year or just one of those days?

I figured if I could maintain this pace through the big hills, then I would try to pick up the pace in 5 and 6. I worried about the mile four hill though, I remember the last two times I raced this and how horrible it was.

In the end I hoped to be around 50 minutes and anything under that would be great but not mandatory to satisfy me. It was crazy how many people I was passing as I powered the mile 4 hill. I felt strong in complete control and my pace only slowed to 8:14 for the toughest hill.

Miles 5 and 6 were just fantastic as I continued to pass so many runners. I was so suprised how fresh I felt not only after but during the hilly part of this race. As i turned onto Main street, I knew the finish was only a mile or so away and really started picking up the pace.

I turned on the turbo at the 6 mile mark and I swear I passed 20 or 30 people during that two tenths to the finish. I had a great kick and a satisfying finish. I immediately turned around and ran back to catch up with my daughter. I was suprised to find her at the 5 mile mark.....she looked good and was running not walking.

We ran the last mile together and I was able to kick for a second time as I ducked out right before the finish. Not many cooldown runs end with a second race kick....but this felt great.

In the end I didn't have a fast time but I enjoyed this race more than any other time I have run it. It was just a perfect day, a fun race and I really enjoyed it.
It was a GOOD TIME after all.

Friday 4 mile run 32:36 (8:09 pace) 1 mile cooldown@9:12

.5 mile warmup
LL Bean 10K 49:56 net time (8:04 pace)
8:09....151-158..(rolling hills)
8:14....152-155..(long -big hill)
7:55....155-160..(continuing hills)

1.11 mile cooldown with a second race kick...153-158 heart rate.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Am I Expecting Too Much?


Missed track because of a sudden commitment. I was disapointed on my way home from work, but things happen and schedules change. It is something we all need to adapt too. Problem is that Time trials were scheduled tonight and I was looking forward to see how well I have progressed.

As it turns out, I got lucky and was done at 6:30. Of course I didn't have time to drive all the way to Auburn, but I decided I could go to the local track and do the workout on my own. I figured I would probably not have enough time to get the whole workout in but at least I could run a time trial.

Upon arriving at the track, I found the summer track program for middle schoolers in progress. This creates a bit of interference as the kids just don't think track edicate and are not given good direction by the conselers. I knew this from last year as I ran into the same problem at this track.

My warmup went pretty good with only having to dodge a few loiterers, but I knew the speed work would be much tougher. With the kids working on hurddles and running I found it difficult to do stretches and form work so instead of doing 6x100 striders, I decided to do 8x100 sprints with 100 full recovery.

At the time I thought this would be a good warmup for the time trial and while I was running them, I felt quite strong. My pace was hugging the 5-5:45 mark with the fastest @ 5:02 pace. I could feel a bit of leg fatigue during the last one and started wondering if I had made a smart choice.

I knew my 1 mile trial would probably be a little slower tonite as I had no one to run with, which normally will push me to a faster pace and there were a lot of kids running and standing around......pretty much in the way with little reguard for others on the track.

Yeah the track is for the kids, but I do pay taxes in this town so I do have some rights. I hoped for 1:45x 400 splits which is 7 minute pace and if I kick good on the last lap I would be under 7 minute pace by 5 or 10 seconds. Just about where I feel I should be.

The first two laps went pretty good with very little interference with the kids. I guess they were paying a bit more attention than I thought. My third lap didn't go so well as my legs were heavy and I just couldn't seem to get enough oxygen. I tried to push hard on the forth but really had no kick.

I think the 8x100s were a mistake at the speed I was running them and it showed in my time trial. Either that or I am just not progressing like I should. It is what it is though and I will have to go forward from here.

After the mile time trial, I felt pretty spent and was discouraged with my performance. It seemed that 8x400 @ 100% of the new trial, (which is what the workout called for this week) was out of the question at this moment. Oh, I used the excuse in my mind that it was getting late but honestly, I didn't feel up to running them tonight, so I ran a mile cooldown and went home.

1 mile warmup 8:37 pace
8x100 sprints @5:20 average pace

1 mile time trial @ 7:05 pace
1:43...(target 1:45)
3:28...(target 3:30)..split.1:45
5:20...(target 5:15)..split.1:52
7:05...(target 6:50)..split.1:45 no real kick.

1 mile cooldown @8:46
Total track workout 4 miles.

This workout left me wondering if I am expecting too much this year. Yeah I have a great base after training for and running the 50K, but the three surgeries so far, the fact that I haven't accomplished the weight loss I planned combined with my seemingly low energy level, have me wondering if this will end up being a dissapointing season.