Saturday, February 28, 2009

And not so classic...

Cacky, neighbor John, neighbor Sarah (see picture above), and I joined lots of snowshoers and a few other skiers this morning for a fatass 3K backcountry tour of the Rines Forest, off of Range Rd. in Cumberland. This was all organized by by the Cumberland & Chebeague Land Trust. We had great snow and beautiful weather.

Yesterday and today, I tried to get some classic skiing in. On Wednesday, we had absolutely stunning conditions at Pineland for classic. Oh what a difference a rain makes. Yesterday I skied Riverside again, and the classic tracks ranged from +0.5 cm to -0.5 cm deep. That's right, the tracks were actually inverted in spots! This was the closest thing to running I've done since the first week of January. I finished after only 7.5K. After the BC ski today, I went to Pineland, expecting something sweet. Instead, the tracks (including skate) were ICE. I completely missed the klister (I used Swix Universal and Justin at Pineland said that I needed something much colder like Rode blue klister). I decided to just double pole everything, including almost all of the hills. I did about 11K. At least it was a beautiful day to be out.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Should workouts be all work and no fun?

I've skied mostly Pineland this winter but skied Riverside today because its only about one mile from my house. I did 16K in about 1:05. It was a decent workout and I was able to concentrate on my abdominal crunches during my poling in my v2 for long stretches. But it felt like going to the gym, or what I imagine going to a gym would feel like (I've been to the gym once since 10th grade). By contrast, when I ski for 2 hours at Pineland, it is fun, fun, fun, and the time flies. There is no monotony at Pineland. But Riverside has long stretches of...flat.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


River Valley loop exit, Pineland Farms, New Gloucester ME

22K. Doesn't get any better than today.

TMR TNS @ Twin Brook

I finally got out for a Trail Monster Running Tuesday Night Ski. My plan was to do classic but I threw my rock skate skis in the car just in case there were no tracks and I'd have to skate through a minefield of debris. I parked outside of the gate on the Greeley Rd. side and decided to skate since it was a long walk to the groomed section and I didn't want to have to walk back to the car. Good decision because there were no classic tracks set. Also good because I forgot to throw my bag in with my classic skis. Of course my bag also had all of my poles. No problem. No pole sessions are great training. Of course, these are usually 15-20 minutes. I skied 65 minutes. The A, B, and C loops were beautiful with all of the new snow. I started at 5:30P and sometime after 6 it got quite dark in the woods and my headlamp batteries were weak. I could see my Garmin ok (phew, what would I have done without numbers during the ski?) but couldn't see the trail at all. There was enough starlight in the fields so after a cautious lap through the B & C loops I did another big field loop and called it a night. I finished and was gently molested by Django, Eric's funny dog. Ian and Jim finished their snowshoe run at the same time and we headed out to Gritty's Portland for Fat Tuesday.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Finding tracks

I needed to talk to a colleague from Colorado State today about a collaboration and so used that time to drive to Pineland. I arrived about 2:30 and the ski shop and wax room were closed but the Market was open and apparently selling day passes. Nothing was groomed and I didn't even see any tracks crossing the field and I wasn't going to make them myself with my race classic skis.

So I drove to Twin Brook, which consistently groomed during snowstorms last winter. No such luck today. There was a decent pair of tracks made from wide touring skis and I hopped into these. I saw about 8 others out there, which is great to see given the fresh snow. Lots of debris in the woods loops. After doing the C, B, then A loops, I cleared the long, gradual, straightish hill on the A loop of sticks and did a series of no-pole hill repeats. So-so workout on the legs but a much needed balance session. About 8.5K in 1 hour.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

What I meant, of course

by a huge dump!

Pineland 40+

I finally got in a really good "overdistance" day. The snow was perfect for this; very fast but not icy. I also worked on hydration and nutrition management, including using gu and the little "sport beans". I've probably only had a gu once or twice before in my life. At the 20K point today, I had the apple pie flavored one from Hammer that I got in my race pack from the Great Glen 300. Thanks! Now I'm psyched for a huge dump : )
Distance: 41.95K (according to Motionbased. My watch had 40.99)
Moving Time: 2:42:28
Total Time: 2:56:39 (stopped at 25K to change gloves and ended up talking with friends for a few minutes)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Gloucester Hill Sucks

I've been working Gloucester Hill all winter, attempting to step turn around it and this has resulted in some success and some falls. Today, for the first time this winter, I thought I would take it easy and just snowplow it. I caught the downhill edge on my left ski and was launched like an intercontinental balistic missile. I landed on my face. I really hate that hill.

Sam exists!

Many people don't believe our oldest unmarried, Sam, exists, since he's never seen with us. But I took the dogs for a snowshoe yesterday on Blackstrap Hill and Sam joined us! And I got photo proof!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

coaching coup

I went for a ski on the Oak Hill loop at Pineland this morning with Morgan Laidlaw, coach extraordinaire of both Bill Koch kids and Maine Coast Nordic junior development kids, who generously helped me with my skating technique. Thinking that my V1 was solid, I was expecting more work on weight shift and poling during my V2, but we spent most of the time trying to reprogram my neuromuscular circuits coordinating (or uncoordinating) my V1, which is what is used to climb steep hills (or not so steep if the snow is soft). Wow. Lots of great help there. After our ski together, I continued working on technique, especially my V1 while climbing, but having wierd timing issues with my non-power side arm as it swung up. After climbing a hill, an older gentleman asked if he could give me a tip, which I gladly accepted. Turns out the guy was Dick Taylor, former captain of the Dartmouth ski team, captain of the 1964 US Olympic Team, and at Pineland coaching Adele Espy, a local Maine Coast Nordic skier just back from representing the USA in the *World* juniors. Adele was striding up the hill that I had been working on my V1. Wow, she's strong. New England skiing is a very small world and it's really wonderful to have so many generous skiers helping to keep the community active and fun.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Top photo: Cacky striding on the Ellis R. trail, Jackson NH.
Middle photo: Mt. Washington from the warming hut, Great Glen trails
Bottom photo: Trying to get in the photo before the autoshoot shot, Great Glen trails

We had an awesome two days skiing Great Glen yesterday and Jackson's Ellis R. trail today. The Ellis is supposed to be "the most famous trail in America" but I'm not sure why; I'll have to google that. We had a great stay at the Dana Place Inn, including a nice big room, good food, and an extremely accommodating staff. We went back to Moat Smokehouse for lunch before heading home.

Mt. Washington Valley

Full report with pics tonight but wanted to get something up now while sitting here on this little computer in the Dana Place Inn in Jackson NH waiting for breakfast.

Cacky and I drove up to Mt. Washington Valley for two days of birthday/Valentine's day make-up holiday. We were going to ski Jackson yesterday but the weather was so awesome over the Presidentials that we skied Great Glen (Ryan's stomping grounds) instead. It was stunningly beautiful: the conditions, the trails, the scenery, the sky, the temperature, the (lack of) wind. Perfect. Last week I saw one 5K loop 10 times. Yesterday, Cacky and I did about 10K total and got up to the warming hut, soaked in a nice view of Mt. Washington, then took a really fun and fast run downhill from there. Everyone in the lodge was super nice. (Sorry we'll miss you today Ryan, but we're skiing Ellis R. trail this morning).

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Race day

We had huge fun today at Pineland on the River Valley Trail at the Close to the Coast Valentine's Race & Couple's Relay. Props to Mindy, Pete, Ryan, and Jamie for timing and allowing me to ski, which I didn't think I'd be doing. Thanks to Ian, Emma & Stephen for coming to cheer us all on. Three cheers and beers to Erik O. & Rachel for taking first in the Couple's Relay (not counting the 2-man team from UNH nordic). Jim D. showed Heather S. that technique isn't everything. And Ryan didn't even have to Tanya Harding Floyd L. for me because I did that myself as he was passing me just before the finish; this allowed me to beat him by 6s (woohoo!).

If you are wondering how fast skiing is, I completed the 9.5K course in 33:23 and came in 37/63. The winner skied it in 25 min flat! We had a good showing of college skiers who didn't make the A teams competing at the Dartmouth Carnival (college event with both Alpine and Nordic) this weekend, which is even scarier. But some of the masters skiers, like the local runners, were the most impressive to me. 51 yo Robert Bradlee finished 2nd in 25:12, my teammates Charlie Woodworth and John Eldredge skiing for Coastal Nordic finished in 27:44 and 29:11, and 63 years young Trina Hosmer finished in 31:04!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Rest day

I haven't had a true rest day since Jan 2, so today was as good as any day to do it. I've definitely had easy days - skiing easy for 30 minutes doesn't require much work - just no true days off. It was hard mentally because I can sometimes become obsessive. But I'm tired and a little sore from a fairly routine workout yesterday at Twin Brook. And it's now been 2 weeks that I've had this upper respiratory infection that isn't going anywhere. Tomorrow I'll be at Pineland in the morning looking at the snow conditions for Saturday's race. Then Saturday I'll be working the race with other Trail Monsters. Good symmetry there as MCN and SMBC skiers volunteered for the Craig Cup. Sunday I might do the Flying Moose Classic in Bethel, where I'll do my best not to come in last place.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Great Glen Race Report

Or two reports. See also the post below this one! The NWS had the expected overnight lows in Pinkham notch at 24F and warming up to 35 by 3PM. They were backwards. The temperature was 47F and raining in North Conway at 8AM, low 40s in Jackson and was 40F and light showers at Great Glen when we arrived at 8:30. Uh oh. I had waxed with Ski-go orange LF. What I didn't know was that apparently the area warmed up to 50F that night! The precip quickly turned to snow after we arrived but the T wasn't really dropping below 40F. Oh, and the winds were huge - 20-30MPH with gusts over 40MPH? During the race, the temp cooled to about 35F or maybe a little less.

The race is a 5K loop that skiers ski as many times as they can within the 300 minute race time (yes that's 5 hours). Skate or classic. Solo, 2-person, or 4-person teams. The race started off with a bang (literally!) and I ended up behind one of the little Bill Koch skiers who took off like a rocket. He was pretty fast but I just couldn't get complacent following a 12 year old shrimp, so I took him on the first tiny uphill (admission. I did 10 laps and the Bill Koch foursome did 10 laps. Their average age was about 10.5). I then followed a woman named Susan with really good form for two laps, then passed her on the one climb on the course during the 3rd lap. Everything felt good. The glide was slow, but I really only noticed this on the downhills, especially right at the top when my head was a little two far forward and my skis didn't want to catch up and I had to keep myself from launching myself into a face plant. But at least it wasn't soft, which were the conditions of the only other two races I've done (the Rangeley Loppet).

My longest ski prior to this was about 36K and I stopped that day because I had bonked with no energy. My longest run ever is about 20 miles. So 5 hours of skiing intimidated me and I wanted to make sure I drank and ate enough during the race. I probably lost the hydration battle before it begain. I went out 3 times during the week, each time drinking 2-3 beers (which is about my limit), including the night before the race. Anyway, I stopped after lap 3 to drink some and eat a shot block. James warned me to keep the shot blocks on my body or else they would be hard candy. I of course left my shot blocks in my little bag by the lap line, so I only got one shot block down and that took about 6-7 minutes of chewing.

Since I had only that single shot block, and I was afraid of bonking, I stopped after lap 5 to drink a little more and take another shot block, which I had put in my pants pocket to warm up. It didn't. Each lap was 5.25K so I hit the 30K mark before coming into lap 6, at about 2:17. That's pretty slow and my legs were starting to tire.

My hands started to chill in my thin Swix gloves during lap 6 so I pulled over after lap 6 (31.5K) to eat 1/2 my pb&j and change into a fresh pair of thick Swix gloves. My hands must have swelled because it took about 4 minutes to put the gloves on - they just wouldn't slide over my hands. Add one minute to eat the pb&j and I was in the pit stop for 5 minutes. Too long! Susan with good form passed me while I was in the pit stop and she was looking strong and fit.

After lap 7, everything went downhill steadily. Wierdly, I still felt good on the climbs but I was out-of-balance and flailing on everything else. I stopped after lap 8 to drink more water and finish my pb&j. With this stop, I would was still on pace to do 12 laps only if I didn't stop again (or slow down any more), so I was thinking that I'd do that 12th lap even if I couldn't quite squeeze it into 5 hours. During lap 9, my hands started to chill in my thick swix gloves but, curiously, they weren't sweating (my first pair of gloves cause my hands to get cold because the gloves were wet with sweat). I thought I'd take one last water break (this was my 5th stop!). Then I decided to go to stretch my legs and go to the portapotty to pee. My urine was very dark - meaning that my kidney's were re-absorbing all my water. That and the fact that my hands were chilled instead of sweating meant that I had low blood pressure due to dehydration. My 10th lap was uneventful. I still had lots of time to do an 11th lap but there was no way to do a 12th. My legs were tired and a bit unsteady but it was mostly my dehydration and cold hands that I was worried about, especially since I have the two frost bitten fingers that still haven't recovered from mid-December. So, I unclipped from the skis and called it a day. 10 laps and 52.5K in 4:20.

So, for my skiing I need to work on getting more power out of my upper body. My legs were shot because they were doing too much of the work while my upper body wasn't at all exhausted. Ryan has some really nice photos and video on the race website and a small clip of the video shows me doing a V2 with some really wimpy poling. And for race management, I need to be able to figure out how to ski for 4-5 hours and more efficiently hydrate and re-fuel. This isn't easy with thick glove and poles strapped to my hands.

Good show

Ryan and the other Great Glen staffers put on a first class race yesterday, the Great Glen Nordic 300. But as Danielle said, we had some wacky weather. I met the snowplugs at the Gray park-n-ride and we had a good ride up to Great Glen. Ryan worked the race taking photos and video and posting pictures to the website after and even during the race. Cacky left me a text at 1:38 stating "look good number 64!". Danielle skied some then helped log in skiers as they made their laps.

Ryan, Danielle and I went to Moat Mountain Smokehouse in N. Conway after the race, where Ryan and I each had the ultimate slider meal - two crabcake, two pulled pork, and two bacon cheeseburger sliders. It had been a long time since I've eaten that much in one meal. We also had a couple of nice porters brewed in house. Thanks for the great day sparkmen!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Ants in my pants

I've had a low-grade respiratory tract infection since Friday almost one week ago. Not much soreness or feeling tired, just green phlegm and a little cough. But I've not wanted to aggravate it because I'm doing the Great Glen Nordic 300 on Sunday. Snowman will be there doing his job but not racing. Anyway, in the Nordic 300, they give us five hours to ski as many 5K laps as we can. My goal is 12 laps or 60K, which is a slowish pace, especially if the conditions are halfway decent. But I've never skied for 5 hours...I think my longest is 2.5 hours, so I will likely have trouble pacing myself and I'm likely to crash and burn not long after 3 hours! We'll see.

So as not to augment the infection, I've had a very easy week, doing about 12-15K everyday at a very easy pace. Today I even stopped a lot to talk to all the FHS skiers about states, the race yesterday, the race, saturday, etc. etc. So my body and mind are really itching to go long and hard. I'm not sure that's the mental strategy I want to take into the 300.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

underuse injuries

The article on Mary Slaney had the common but ignorant comment that running hurts your joints. Here are links to some informed opinion and data on that point...

and more generally...

Happy reading!

Are we mere joggers?

From a recent article...

Mary Slaney wants to run. Not jog. Run.

There is a difference. Jogging is for exercise. Running is for exhilaration. Jogging is comfortable. Running hurts.

But Slaney, America's greatest female middle-distance runner, can't run. Not like she wants. At 50, the legs and feet that have undergone an estimated 35 surgeries hurt too much when she gets up on her toes and pushes the pace.

So she jogs, every other day, five to six miles, at about a 7½-minute pace.

Ouch! I need to some PT for my ego!

Sunday, February 1, 2009


Congratulations James!

mid-winter classic

I did the mid-winter classic this morning - 23K of striding at Pineland in about 1:53. As I mentioned in my post this morning, I thought about doing the other mid-winter classic this morning but skipping skiing when we have all this snow just seems dumb. Plus I'd feel like crap right now had I run 10 miles. Today was the hardest I've gone in classic, and I was beat for the last few hills on the campus loop. Pineland is stunning right now and they are really doing a tremendous job grooming this year. The winter quarter at Pineland must be doing well; there are lots and lots of skiers, the shop is busy, the guy who does clinics always seems busy, the market upstairs with lots of yummy food is always busy, and of course the great snow year is driving the whole thing. Lucky us. Did a cool down with Cacky at Twin Brook after lunch. The grooming was subpar but maybe Pineland has me spoiled.

Rest day

I was supposed to be in Rangeley this weekend but Cacky and I were staying with neighbors John and Sarah at John's Uncle's house but John had a nasty respiratory cold so we had to cancel. Instead, I rode the schoolbus carrying the Nordic team to the Sassi Jr. race at Black Mtn. in Rumford. James couldn't ride the bus because he had to get there early and "check out the snow". Right James!

Yesterday was largely a rest day but not a day off - I classicked (easy) the 5K course at Black Mountain, and then helped get the kids to the starting gate and then did some cheering (and then rode the bus back). The Sassi Jr. is a huge race on an awesome course. Black Mtn. puts on a world-class race (literally). The kids did great and had lots of fun.

For the month of January, I ran 5 of the first 6 days and skied the last 25 days (and the 1st). Jan 2 was my only day off, which is a bummer because I wanted to go run that morning but I had to get the house ready for guests that were coming up for the Boston meeting. I largely alternated classic and skating but got more K in skating overall. I did do 496K of stuff, again another bummer because I would have added that extra 4K in yesterday had I known I was that close to 500K.

Since I'm not in Rangeley, I thought about running the mid-winter classic this morning with everyone. But the idea of a week of sore muscles following the run convinced me otherwise. Plus the snow is so good, it is hard to not go to Pineland and stride 25K. So that's where I'm going. And then to Twin Brook in the afternoon to skate with Cacky. I have no stress seeing my running shoes sitting in the corner looking lonely. Have a great race everyone.