Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I Love Winter..But I'm Craving Spring

My running plan this winter is distorted by a new approach that seems a lot like a convex mirror image of my dreams. I know the result will be there, but the here and now is not feeling like much of an accomplishment.

In lieu of junk miles, I am working with weights and strengthening the core through ab workouts. I can't say that I have felt much of a difference when running but I did notice that I had no lame muscles Saturday after shoveling a 75 foot roof packed with three feet of snow.

My winter schedule really sucks as I only have time for outdoor runs on the weekend and lately even that has been a struggle to fit in. My best laid plans tend to melt right before my eyes as the weekend draws near.

This weekend will be no different as I am in Boston on Saturday and have a scheduling glitch I am trying to repair that will probably stop me from participating in the Fatass on Sunday. Perhaps I can at least get a few miles in, we will see.

I keep telling myself not to worry about it as I am only running for base right now, but as usual, I don't listen to myself very wife say's I don't listen to her I say join the club!

Update since the last report:

Morning workout 1.5 miles
morning workout 4 miles
afternoon easy trail 3 miles
Bradbury long trail run (cut short) 4 miles.
morning workout 2 miles
morning workout 2 miles
morning workout 2 miles.
Evening run 3 mile tempo, 1 mile hill, 1 mile easy hill

My only chance for a long run was Sunday at Bradbury Mountain and honestly, with the soft snow trail conditions and the things I should have been doing looming over my head, I just wasn't feeling it and cut the run short. I can't say it was satisfying or enjoyable.

Todays entry brings up an important question though......didn't I learn anything during my post last weekend? I thought I did, Perhaps I should go back and read it over and over until it sinks in.

I think I need spring....something about daylight that makes me feel good.....

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Doesn't It Seem Like You Never Quite Make It?

I guess I would be the first to admit that I don't have a solid training plan and no precisely defined goals. I sometimes wonder if the reason I don't feel like I have made that last step is directly related to my lack of solid planning.

YOU-THINK? I do set goals and I do train for them individually but I don't really think long term. Perhaps that is why my year ended slightly disappointing. Is it possible that running the 50K in the spring ended up being the high lite of my year so without stepping up to something greater or at least something different, my focus just blurred into nothingness?

I made it to the end of the year and found that sign in my said you are not here. I didn't quite get the great feeling of taking that last step and finishing. I suppose it is entirely possible that someone keeps moving the sign, but I suspect it is all in my head.

It IS in my head as I have been thinking all wrong. I look at all the races and events, I get confused, do I want to run this one, should I enter that one, how will it affect my next run or race.

I have hit upon the answer and it is quite simple. I experienced the solution last week at the GAC fatass....but I didn't realize it at the time. During my first lap, I kept thinking about how difficult it was and how much further I had to go ....wether I would even do more than one was miserable.

During the second lap, I let go of all expectations because of the running conditions and the time loss. Instead I concentrated on the run and focused on enjoying the experience. I had no expectations other than finishing the lap.

Once I threw time out the window, the run began to be much more enjoyable. Even though the conditions were worse, I was having much more fun. At the time I didn't realize what had happened.

It dawned on me Sunday during my road run. You see I had some serious time restrictions and scheduling conflicts Saturday and Sunday. I wanted to get a run in on Saturday as the weather was so nice and Sunday my window of time was a very short 1.5 hours if I started at 7am.

Well, Saturday was a no show as the run just didn't materialize so that left Sunday for my long run. A trail run would have only netted 6 miles or so. I considered that unacceptable. Instead, I reluctently hit the road for a run, I needed to get in at least 10 miles.

I stepped out the door at 7am, a bit disapointed to be running the road and as I started running, my brain began mulling through some of my last runs and how they would affect my training.

I suddenly realized I was enjoying this early morning run and because I didn't have to concentrate on the terrain, my brain had the chance to process. I realized that the important thing was to enjoy the moment. Reguardless of how difficult it was or wether it fit into any type of long term plans.

That is why I enjoyed my second loop much better last weekend and also why I was happy with my road run.....I was allowing myself to experience the moment. You see if you experience the moment and every moment of the run or race, the last step has much less importance.

I think I am finally understanding the mentality of an ultra runner. Sure they want to reach the 50 or 100 mile goal, of course they want to beat their best time, but not finishing is a looming possiblity right from the start and wether one finishes or not does not discount the time, effort or difficulty up to that point.

In the end, it is the trip that is memorable, not always the outcome and if one can enjoy the journey then they don't really need a plan or a goal. I ran the road because it gave me the distance I wanted and fit into my schedule.....the fun part was a bonus.

10 mile long (tempo 8+2.2) road run.
1:39:59(9:48 pace)
9:45...148-156 (hill)
10:10...153-160 (long steeper hill)
8:50...152-160 (8:20 kick at end of 8 mile loop)9:36pace for the 8
10:12..135-139(.2 miles)

Friday, January 15, 2010

On The Fence

I ususally run the Midwinter 10 miler in Cape Elizabeth every year. Last year I used it as a long run. I ran a 5K right before the race, toed the line within minutes of finishing and then after ran another 2.5 miles. I was beat but I also felt good about the effort.

This year I am on the fence......should I run it or find a trail race instead. I even could just do a long trail run instead. I guess I am not sure what benifit the race will do for me as I will surely not PR it this year.

It seems if I am serious about a 50 miler in the spring, it will do me much more good to focus on that training and not road races. On the other hand, all my road racing friends must think I have dropped off the face of the earth........... Perhaps in a way I have.

Except for a little soreness in the right back area, The tender spots from last weekends run at GAC's is past me. I was a bit worried about the right hip as it became very sore because of the loose unpredictable terrain, but all is fine now.

I am looking forward to my long trail run this weekend and and opportunity to enjoy nature. I miss the trail runs during the week but I get home so late it is just not feasable this time of year.

I seriously think there is something wrong with me because I have been eating like crazy this week. I could understand if it was a "growing spurt" but at my age the spurt would be out not up, so I don't want one of those.

My week so far:
treadmil....3 mile hill run 10% grade (11:39 pace)
1 mile easy recovery 4% grade(9:16 pace)
half mile cooldown

Wednesday and Thursday
early am (3:30)
wight and ab workout 2 miles each day.

I know.......pretty lame week, I suppose I will call it a recovery week.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Totally Trashed

My flame was completely burnt out after Saturdays long run. I call it a long run by time rather than miles as the difficulty reared it's ugly head, which made the miles relatively short.

During my one and a half hour ride home, I wished someone else was there to drive as a nice warm nap sounded very inviting. Though tired as hell, I was so pleased with the effort I put in. The fact that I forced myelf into the second lap and enjoyed it was encouraging. Had I quit after one lap, I think would have been very disapointing.

By monday morning, I knew I pushed the envelope a bit as I had many new pains to enjoy. I decided not to run for a couple days because my right hip was pretty sore and I learned in the past that the hip needs rest or there is hell to pay.

I counted at least 6 muscles that I thought were pretty tuned up ......but now were complaining everytime I stood up and because of the loose terrain, I now have 3 new blisters that will soon become black toenails. All battle scares with no regret.

I ended up with a near three hour workout mostly in zone 4 and 5 of my heart rate, A perfect workout to start the new year. It took me a long time, but I think I finally have learned how to appreciate a hard workout without dissecting it and finding reasons to discount my effort.

As for the Ice Spikes, I have decided they get a thumbs least for me and the way my running and workouts go. There is no doubt that theses spikes have a fantastic grip and surely are much better when walking or running on smooth ice.

I felt they seemed loose in my shoes and part of that may be the fact that I previously had the slightly larger sheet metal screws in them and perhaps the soles were stretched out a bit. Reguardless, they are the runners I use in these conditions so I will put the old screws back in.

In my run Saturday, most of the conditions were quite soft. I did hit a few roots under the snow and the last half to three quarter mile was on a plowed tar surface. In the process of two laps on this course, I lost 5 out of the 24 spikes in my shoes. At a cost of approximately 50 cents each, I feel that it would be too expensive to continue using the Ice spikes.

What I might do is try the Ice Spikes in another pair of runners as I got 8 extra spikes in the kit so that gives me enough to outfit a second set of runners. perhaps in new holes, they might not pull out as easy.

So, I am not saying they are not good, it's just doesn't seem cost effective for me. I didn't see a huge benefit over the sheetmetal screws when comparing cost verses performance.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Hauling Ass ....What Did I Expect?

One thing I didn't have to worry about at GAC's fatass 50k on Saturday was getting pulled over for speeding by the trail police. As a matter of fact, I was in grave danger of being mistaken for a bystander as the front runners passed me during my second loop (they were on their third) Five runners managed to lap me and it was darn embarrassing as they must have thought for sure I was a spectator.

Now, don't get me wrong, as I am not complaining about the race or even my performance. I am merely stating a facts that I must learn to admit to myself. I have to come to terms with my condition, my livestyle and my reasons for leaving the road and hitting the trails. If it were for speed and easy running, I fear I have surely made a wrong turn.

In terms of an adequate workout to start my new year and give me an understanding of where my fitness level is, I suspect I found the perfect conditions at this race. My battle plan was to kick off a fairly easy two loops and then if time permitted and I felt good enough, pound out a third. A three hour run would be a fantastic start for the new year.

There are so many good things about Saturday, I Don't know where to begin. First of all I finally met up with Dan, running Rob, Kevin, Michelle and a couple others I can't can't seem to get their names out of my head at this time. What a great bunch of runners.

Kevin, I had already met and run with at Pineland and I didn't actually meet Michelle to the point of shaking hands and saying hi. Besides that George and Ann was there, Ian, Erik and Jamie (Fellow Trail monsters) plus a couple of others guys from maine that I didn't know.

I was pretty well prepared and even though it felt quite cold waiting for the start, I knew I had the right amount of layers. I decided to wear a new light weight backpack that I purchased for long trail running in the winter to replace my Nathan pack. I only wore it this day to get the feel of it. I also had the new ice spikes in my shoes to see how well they performed.

As I walked around on the plowed areas (and ran a short warmup) I could feel the traction of the new spikes on the ice underneath. There is no doubt that I got the feel of very stable traction that allowed me to push off strongly.

The race started and George was kind enough to hold back and run the first mile or so with me. I must admit he is a great guy and enjoyable to talk to. Unfortunately he is much too fast for me so the conversation was short.

Right off the bat, I realized that the spikes would be pretty much useless as the snow was mealy and running on 5 inches of cornmeal. Absolutely no traction and the feet would give no early warning signs of which way they were going to slide. Seriously, snowshoes would have been much better.

Though mostly single track (even in wide areas because of the virgin snow off the trail), many people seemed much better prepared and I got passed a lot. By mile three, I had serious doubts about doing three loops. Once I hit mile four which was the single track switch back kind of trail and the hilly part of this 10k, my body was complaining big time.

I swear my feet moved as far sideways as they did forward. As I struggled in mile four, I became discouraged and I questioned my goal of attempting a 50 miler in May. I came to the conclusion that one loop was surely going to be enough for me this day.
It kept crossing my mind, if I can barely finish one relatively flat but difficult 10K, how can I reasonably think I can run a 50 miler?

What should have taken me a little over an hour ended up being almost an hour and a half. I felt beaten and taddered as I headed for the food table and finished my measly 10K. God, it felt more like 30K..... I was so glad this run was over, all I wanted was to jump in my truck and limp away (with my head hanging low).

As I grabbed for a gaterade, I recognized running Rob and introduced myself. I have to say he was much taller and in better shape than I visioned. I think his writing does not show an accurate picture as he also talked with great confidence. His attiude and matter of fact discussion about the first loop made me realize that a person is only beaten when their mind says so.

He ran the same loop as I did, yet he was willing to attempt a second. It got me thinking, hey I drove one and a half hours to get here, I had to at least run longer than I drove. I don't know what got into me, but I ran back to my truck, threw my backpack inside, sucked down a gel pack and headed for loop two.

When I came back to the food table, I realized how packed it was with every goody one can imagine. I grabbed a couple potatoe wedges and a brownie then went on my way. The attidude adjustment worked as I actually was enjoying lap two.

I instilled some changes that helped a lot. First of all I shortened my stride and centered my body weight so I didn't push off with my toe so much. Also I slowed the pace down just a bit. Not having the backpack somehow felt much lighter, though I seriously doubt it weighed more than a few pounds.

This second loop felt so much different.....not really easier as the conditions actually were much worse after all the traffic, but I guess I just accepted them more and time was not a factor. I kept telling myself I could turn around when ever I wanted but once I crossed the three mile mark it was a mute point.

In mile four the front runner passed me on his third loop. He sure didn't look as tired as I felt. Actually he was running like we were on pavement. Quite impressive, as were the next three front runner that passed me. I didn't know if they were all doing the full 50k but I suspected they could if they wanted.

In mile five and six I settled in to a somewhat of a rhythm and actually reeled in and passed three other runners. Then during the last half mile I picked up the pace and caught a pack of four runners right at the finish.

I was beat and sore, but I felt accomplished as I was able to continue and prove to myself that I do have something deep down to help me when things get tough. In the end I ran close to the three hours I was planning, just not as far in miles.

My first loop was 1:24:54 and it felt like hell, the second loop was 1:28:02 and even though the conditions had deteriated considerably I felt much better during the run, was able to catch and pass some other runners and also was able to pick it up to a decent kick during the last half mile.

On the way home, I realized that my last run of over two and a half hours was way back in August, so my overall time of 2:52:56 for the 20K was a great start to the new year. Funny how a person's prospective can change in such a short time.

As far as the new ice spikes, I am still on the fence. They did work much better than the sheet metal screws on smooth ice but I also lost 5 of the 24 in my shoes during this one run. So because of the much higher cost and the fact that on most surfaces the sheet metal screws seem pretty comparable, I don't think I would buy more of them unless I was racing on glare ice.

Overal 12.45 miles (20K) @ 2:52:56 (13:59 pace)
142 average Heart rate with a max of 158

Monday, January 4, 2010

Long on Ambition, Not So Long on Results.

I decided, instead of waiting for the first of the year to begin my new and improved running schedule that is to be coupled with some quality cardio/weight/ab workouts and plastered with many long trail runs, I would start the week before.

Sure seemed like a good way to start and with plenty of time during the three day weekend, I would surely get in a couple long trail runs. Hey why put off what you can do today...right?

On paper it looked awful good and made plenty of sense. There is no doubt, if I am going to gear up for some PRs and at least one or two ultras in 2010, I better get cracking on the long runs.

I stunk of raw ambition and actually was impressed with my plan, I would send the word SPEED packing for a couple months and just concentrate on a good runing base. There was no doubt that 2010 would easily surpass my running high this year of 1140 miles.

It all sounds good in theory but I am also realistic, I know there will always be interference and priorities when the job and families are factored in. Of course my training schedule would have to be pliable.

Coming off a very short Christmas week of only 4.5 miles running, I would not have to accomplish much to feel like I have made progress. Though I didn't match my ambition, I did get in a pretty solid week to begin the new year.

Friday was not a very good start, I stayed up late the night before and a morning run just didn't seem to be part of my new year vocabulary. It's not that I was lazy or anything as I did do all my shoveling and plowing, and kept saying I would get the run in later.....later just never materialized.

Saturday I finally got out on the snowshoes and it didn't take me long to remember how taxing it is to run on them. The added weight along with the change in stride pushed my heart rate up very quickly and I found myself stopping and walking quite a bit.

Sunday had me plowing in the morning and again with all the shoveling (this covered my weight/ab workout for the day) The conflict came with the day wearing on and having two desires, watch the Patriots and get in a long run. Well the solution was running on the treadmill and I was fine with that.

My original ambitious plan was to double up on long trail runs of 8-12 miles, Saturday and Sunday. I didn't pull that off but still was able to get in a couple good runs to finish off the week with a decent total.

Weeek recap:

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday morning: cardio/weight/ab workout 2 mile run

Thursday afternoon: 5 mile tempo, 1 mile hill & half mile cooldown.

Saturday:Snowshoe run/walk 1:20:13 4.5 miles.

Sunday:8.25 long run(treadmill)... 6 mile tempo,1.5 mile hill(10%grade), .75 cooldown (total 1:40:02)

Weeek total 25.8 miles