Monday, June 28, 2010

Reality and a Ton Of Bricks.

Slow Poke Rodrigez

Fat and Lazy

This weekend, my slow training of the last few months hit me like a ton of bricks! Mt Washington post partum became a reality as I found out that training slow for racing slow equals......well really slow running even though the perception of effort feels normal.

As I ran a very slow race pace on L L Beans 10K course Sunday, I found that I felt just as bad as I would running my normal speed yet I was only accomplishing my average long slow training speed of years past.

This causes me to second guess my decisions of the last couple months. I thought concentrating on slow running would strengthen the muscles used for that and allow me to perform better. I didn't think it would undermine and discount my years of training for faster races. Honestly I thought the strong base would ultimately help me run faster and stronger.

I thought speed training and track workouts would be counteractive to the type of condition I needed for Mt Washington, so instead I ran mostly trails, hills and didn't worry as much about speed as I did distance and slow twitch muscles.

I also worked pretty heavy on core strength and upper body weight training. I could tell the core training helped me at Pineland and on Mt Washington, but the weight training seemed to be counteractive as I gained muscle at the same time which kept my overall weight higher.

I wish I could justify my remarks by saying I trimmed body fat at the same time I gained muscle but it simply is not true. As I remember back, I rationalized my slow training by thinking less about my diet as I thought I needed to feed the muscles for the weight training to be effective.....Ok that might be a cop-out, I just ate and drank more than I should have

This entry is not a complaint so much as it is a revelation. How many of you suddenly woke up from a certain regiment to realize your thinking was all twisted, yet at the time it felt on track.

For some reason, I thought stronger core muscles, toner upper body muscles, design slower running, would all relate to stronger and faster race times at Pineland and Mt Washington and then spill over to shorter distances.

Not to discount my performance at Mt Washington as my base plan was to finish for some very personal reasons and I did that, but I really thought at the same time I would impress myself with a superior result.

I always equated hill training to speed workouts, so I thought all those hill runs would suddenly give me faster leg turnover and great speed. The effort seemed the same in my mind, but my performance Sunday proved otherwise, instead I ran like I was carrying a ton of bricks.

I guess what this boils down to is.....quoting both Jeff and Blaine, "you run what you train."


8 mile run consisting of 5 race pace miles and 3 tempo miles.
5@44:09 (8:49 pace) Should have been more like 7:49 pace
3@28:18 (9:26 pace)
total run 8 miles @1:14:22 (9:17pace)
1/2 mile cooldown and 15 min swim


6.2 mile (LL Bean course) first 4 easy, last 2.2 race pace.
56:20 (9:05 pace)
6:03....166-167 (last .2 miles)

.5 cooldown@9:56 pace then 20 minute swim.

Friday, June 25, 2010


Ryan was talking about an epiphany the other day and at the time I didn't really relate to it. Now, I think I understand.

EPIPHANY; an intuitive grasp of reality through a simple event.

I had an epiphany while running up Mount Washington.

Life can be painful
But pain makes man think
Thought makes man wise
Wisdom makes life endurable.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Morning After

I expected the morning after Mt Washington to be a slow and pain full experience because of the way I felt during and immediately after the race. A real surprise to wake up at 7am, go for a refreshing swim and actual feel really good.....

I am planning on posting a race report but today is not the day for that as the family is showing up for what I suspect will be a great Father's day.

A couple quick notes though,
Thanks to my son and his girlfriend...him volunteering (missing the race completely)and her driving our car up the mountain.

A special thanks to the Trail Monsters. I will tell you right now, if you want the best support ever during a race, befriend the Trail Monsters. As I was falling up the wall (the last intimidating 22-30% GRADE just before the finish), the cheers for me must have caused most spectators to think there was some celebrity coming up to the finish.

Seriously all I could hear for the last tenth of a mile was the screams of my wife, my son's girlfriend and the group of Trail Monsters. They didn't stop yelling until I finished my kick and collapsed. One would think I was winning the thing.

The best advice I received before the race came from Mindy (also a trail monster) I listened to her, implemented her thoughts and it worked well for me. OK.....well honestly, I didn't start using her advice until I was completely humbled and intimidated after about 1/2 mile to the one mile mark (the first 1/3 mile which was the only downhill of the race was fantastic and I felt great!)

Anyway I made to the top finished with a pretty darn good kick (at least that was what the announcer said) I learned a lot running.....ok well shuffle stepping this race. I think though I didn't quite run the time I had hoped for, I have the knowledge to run it better next time.

Oh.....and congrats to Jeff for killing this course!!!!

The Mount Washjington race is as fantastic and exciting as it is humbling and discouraging. I can see why they say it is one of the toughest yet rewarding races a person can run.

Full report to come later...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

It's Time To Relax

Well, two days until the Mt Washington race. There is nothing I can do to prepare anymore, what ever my training has given me will be reflected by my performance on Saturday. My plans to hike back down after the race have evaporated and honestly I suspect they were a bit ambitious anyway.

I have decided to hike another day when I can concentrate on enjoying the hike rather than wishing for the bottom to appear. The plus now is that I can concentrate on just reaching the top as fast as I can convince my body to climb ......then I will allow myself to collapse for as long as it takes to overcome my foolishness.

I told myself I would take it easy and thanks to my wife, I have done well so far. The urge to get out there and run is so great that I can't hold back. To curb the desire, I ran the last two nights with my wife then finished off with an easy swim/ cool down.

It worked out perfectly, she started her training for BtoB Tuesday night which offered me an enjoyable pace that would not overwork me during this taper period. Without her holding me back I surely would have pushed much harder than I should.

We did the same Wednesday night and I feel great. Now I will just relax until Saturday morning and the start of the race. To help me forget about running, we are going to the Jimmy Buffet concert tonight in Mass, we will stay overnight and sleep in Friday morning, spend a relaxing day visiting relatives then drive back to Maine for a good nights sleep Friday.

My battle plan is to treat this race like an ultra, I will start slower than I feel I should and try to get a few miles behind me before I begin feeling the fatiguing effect of the constant hill. I am thinking 130-140 Heart rate for the first three miles, 140-150 for the next three then what ever I can conjure up for the last 1.6
This should put me at a finish time of slightly under two hours.

My other plan is to run like crazy for the first three to put some time in the bank and look amazingly fast for the spectators, take a short nap at the water stop and then crawl up the remainder of the course, finishing after the three hour cut off and wishing I had executed a different plan.

I know they have a lot of different bumper stickers out there.....I wonder If I can find one that says, I almost ran to the top of Mt Washington, you know, just in case.

Monday, June 14, 2010

I Read Jeff's Blog.....

 I am a little apprehensive about Mt Washington. Who wouldn't be, it's a big ass hill. Though I have hiked the trails many times, I have never run it before and only riding up the auto road once that I remember (which was at least 40 years ago) I have nothing in my mind to relate it to.

I have been reading Jeff's blog ( and boy is he ready. There is a guy who understands and knows how to train for a race. I feel ill-prepared compared to his training, though he is racing it and I am only running it.

Luckily for me, my goal is to make it to the top, be it walk, run or crawl. I feel I have the running base to guaranty at least that, besides, it will be a PR regardless of how long it takes me to reach the top. I do hope I have a Little bit left in the tank when I finish because my plan is to hike back down.

I am running this in memory of my dad. Though he was never a runner, when I was younger, we used to climb Mt Washington as a family. I have great memories and this race fell into exactly the right place for me to run it.

This years race falls on Father's day weekend, he died in June (1991)when he was 54 years old, I am 54 this year, one of the reasons I started running was to be in better shape and hopefully outlive my father (so far so good) as he grew up with bad eating habits and the huge mountain he climbed was with his weight as he yo-yoed with weight problems all his life.

At the same time I am locking my dad into my memory with this mountain run, I am creating great memories with my own son as he is volunteering at the base during the race. Perhaps he will run it it one day for me and start a family tradition.

My plan was to workout pretty heavy with core muscles and practice running slow hills(which I have done for the last few months). I purposely stayed away from speed workouts but didn't really get in the long runs I wanted. In the end , I hope I am ready. I suspect I will be hurting when I reach the top.

My last long run was Saturday and I must say I worked in some pretty tough hills and I am surprised to say they didn't feel that difficult at all. Of course they don't compare to Mt Washington but they did cause a calming feeling inside that should last for at least a mile at the race before the truth of the grade slaps me aside the head and wakes me up to reality.

Last weeks training highlights,
10 miles (backbay) 1:33:20 (9.19 pace)

Treadmill 3 miles @10% grade 36:29 (12:10 pace)

9 miles @1:42:34 (11:48 pace) avHR 138-max 153
Pit loop hill X2
Sweetser hills
Town Forest hill
Smith hill
Powerline hill
(total ascent 1108 feet)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Mowing By The Numbers

Those of you who really know me and I suppose the ones who suffer through reading all my stats in this blog, realize that I am a numbers kind of guy. It seems I can't survive with out relating my life to some type of statistic.

My running blog is full of all kinds of related and many seemingly unrelated comparisons between running miles and living life. For instance, bike riding compared to running is about a 1 to 3 ratio and swimming is just the opposite at 3 to 1.

I have calculated that my morning workout lasting about 20 minutes and working up a semi sweat is equivalent to about a mile of easy running. Last night as I semi jogged behind the lawn mower for about an hour, I found myself trying to convert my yard work into mileage so I can post it in my running log.

Not that I want to embellish my total miles so much as to have an accurate account of what types of physical activities I am doing when I run that fantastic unbelievable race know the one I mean, the perfect storm.....when everything falls into perfect alignment..even the stars.

I have had more than one such experience in the past but because I didn't have decent running records at the time, I do not know what the key element was, so I am unable to duplicate the results.

For instance, I ran my first and fastest 1/2 marathon (7:26 mile pace)while only running an average of 13 miles per week and no long runs beyond 6 miles. The next year (2003) I trained harder (16 miles a week, longest run of 8 miles)and ran my fastest 5K at 20:18 (6:34 pace) and a month before that my fastest 10K at 44:03 (7:06 pace).

So....what was so different a few years ago compared to now where I struggle to break 8 minute pace in a 10K. I run more miles but that should help me not hold me back. I have to assume that there were different things I was doing then to keep in shape that I am not doing now....perhaps I rode the bike more or swam harder or worked on the core more.

I find myself looking for that key that helped me perform so well, that one special thing I did then and have forgotten about. Is it possible that I am running too much, working out too hard and wearing down my body to the point that I can't perform at my best during a race?

Perhaps I should consider trading my push mower in for an easier tool.....maybe a John Deer motorcycle mower like the picture? Now I do have a riding mower I use for my larger front lawn, but this one is really cool.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Dragging that Ball And Chain

When I think of speed and running hills strongly, I remember only the past me....the current me feels like there is a ball and chain connected to my ankles and I just can't seem to break free of it.

I suspect that is the payback for training and running longer distances and dabbling in ultras. I long for the old feeling of strength and speed and honestly, I better find it pretty soon as the Mt Washington race is looming .....I sure do not feel ready.

I figured having a long hill to train on would give me a chance to work on settling into a pace. There is a pretty steep hill on Route 231 in New Gloucester, I drive it every day and every time I go up it, I think "hey this would be a good training hill" It is about a mile long and pretty steep.

Thursday I decided to give it a try. I figured to run it as slow as I could to simulate the Mt Washington run. My plan was to do at least two repeats, maybe three.
The first run up went quite well, I settled into a slow pace of 12 minutes and honestly if felt relatively easy.

The problem I found was in running back down the hill. I felt I was stressing my muscles because of the grade and ran a bit faster than I thought I should. It didn't feel right (though as an after thought, it might have been perfect training for Pineland)and it seemed I was not getting the uphill workouts I needed and my heart rate was going way below recovery.

I didn't run up a second time, instead I packed up and went to my old stand by, Oakhill in North Yarmouth. It is only about a quarter mile long but is pretty steep. I find that the repeats are much harder and my heart rate doesn't bottom out before I start back up the hill again (like the long hill).

I did five repeats and I felt like I worked much harder than the mile hill run. Wether or not it is better training, I don't know but it sure felt harder. I pushed a bit more on each repeat and stopped before I was completely spent.

Gloucester hill:
(up) 1.09 miles @13.10 (12:02 pace) avHR145---max163
(down)1.22 miles @10:22 (8:28 pace) avHR130---max148

Oakhill (grade 375' in 1/4 mile):
Parked at the school and .48 trail run to the hill
1st .23mi@3:01 (13:05 pace) HR..122-136
2nd .23mi@2:59 (13:01 pace) HR..140-152
3rd .23mi@2:55 (12:49 pace) HR..139-149
4th .23mi@2:42 (11:49 pace) HR..143-155
5th .23mi@2:26 (10:59 pace) HR..149-164
Ran 5 easy downhills @appr 10:30 pace then .38 trail run back to the parking lot.

Sunday 3 loops @ backbay
1st 3.5@29:39 (8:28 pace, 7:30kick)
8:54...147-155 (stopped @1.5mi for about 20 seconds)

2nd 3.5@31:57 (9:03pace, 6:54kick)

3rd 3mi@31:54 (10:37 pace cooldown)
Overall 10 mile run (9:19 overall pace).

PS....I noticed a trend in my second miles of each loop.....HMMMNNN. I'm going look back at workouts and see if it is consistant.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Good Plan...Bad Execution

Kev Jr 25K (866)

Mike 25K (698)

Kev Sr 25K

I can't say I am overly happy with my performance at the Pineland Challenge 25K Sunday. It was one of those races where you sit back and wonder what the heck happened.

That being said, I had a great time! The event, the atmosphere, the attention to detail.....all top notch as usual. I can't imagine anyone going to the Pineland Festival and not having a fantastic experience.

Ian, Erik and all the volunteers had one mindset, put on an event for all the people, not just the runners but their families and all who wander in, Including an event for the family dog (Especially special because dogs are not allowed on campass)

I even got a pretty good compliment, when I finished the race I was tired, beat and disappointed, so of course the first place I went to was the beer stand. Smuttynose was there and when I stepped up for my beer the attendant asked me if I ran the race (because if not you are expected to pay) well I looked at my running com padre, down at my sweat soaked clothes and we both laughed.

As bad as I felt and probably looked, I was surprised by the question, then my friend mentioned that apparently I looked so bad that the guy could tell I spent a large part of the time walking.....we both laughed even harder.....OK, so I guess technically I didn't RUN the whole race...The Smuttynose hit the spot and I felt much better.

Sometimes you just don't have a good day and I suspect this was one of those days. I know I prepared and trained right and I have the stats to prove it. I even ran a semi race pace run on this very course a week ago and was so happy with my pace, stamina and post run energy that I figured I would be able to pace my friend and still crush my previous PR.

My race strategy was really fairly simple. On my practice race pace run, I split into three segments. I ran 14 miles so I had two five mile and one four mile split. I ran the whole way including all hills. My heart rate was very consistent even though I sped up throughout the run.

My splits and heart rate are as follows:
1st 5 miles.....145avHR--158max(10:33 pace)
2nd 5 miles.....144avHR--158max(10:02 pace)
last 4 miles....154avHR--161max(9:55 pace)

Now judging by that run, I ran 144 average HR which is 85% of my max. My peak during the run (not counting the kick)was 158(90% of HR) and I ran negative splits overall.

My plan for the race was to run slower the first 10 miles, because I was pacing a friend and then speed up and race the last 5.5 miles. I was looking to run in the 11s for the first ten then 9s for the rest. My race pace run more than supported my plan and actually would make one think that I could pull off low 9s and finish with an easy 10:30 average.

It sure looked good on paper but I failed to follow that plan and not only messed up my friends race but also my own. Somehow I didn't do a very good job of slowing my partner down and actually pushed the pace myself a few times. Because of that we ran an average of 10:39 for the first 5 miles with two of those miles being in the mid 9s.

We started out too fast, that combined with the heat and inadequate fueling caused
a positive split race with a discouraging and painful finish. I was plagued with leg cramps during the last five and ended up walking alot. I actually felt better during my 50K finish last year and walked considerably less.

I suspect there are other factors involved here, perhaps an over training issue and/or poor fueling because my heart rate does not mirror my performance. This causes me to re-think my approach to the Mt Washington race.

Race splits:

1st 5 miles...147avHR--156max (10:35 pace)fastest 9:38, slowest 12:16
2nd 5 miles...143avHR--153max (12:27 pace) fastest 11:44, slowest 13:22
3rd 5 miles...144avHR--153max (13:03 pace) fastest 10:49, slowest 13:53
last .5 mi....152avHR--167max (12:43 pace & 8:10kick)

Total 15.38 miles (according to Garmen) @3:04:44 (11:55 PACE)