Sunday, May 31, 2009

Blackstrap Hell Ladder

Mindy, Jim, Ian, James, Don and I had trail monster fun doing the Blackstrap Hell Ladder this morning. It was a good change from the usual group run - by running up and down the same hill, everyone can go there own pace but still see each other every few minutes. For the ladder, we did 1/3 of the climb, then 2/3, then the full climb. Then worked our way down the ladder, then back up. James and I undershot the 2/3 and overshot the 1/3 turnarounds on the way down the ladder so I think it all evened out. Ian did the ladder perfectly but took a few wrong turns on the way down so got in some extra mileage. Don rode his bike to the trailhead so missed the start but caught up with us and showed us all how it was done on the final set climbing back up the ladder.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Lake Monster Paddling

Jim, Shauna, Cacky and I started the Lake Monster Paddling club yesterday. The inaugural paddle was a short jaunt from the landing to a little cove in Highland Lake, which is in the valley below Blackstrap Hill. Jim had his beautiful c1910 Old Town Canoe while Cacky and I had our c1970 aluminum canoe with all the beauty of a floating PBR can. We had to paddle against a stiff wind, so crossing the length of the lake was not in the schedule. But at least we were giving our tired and sore legs a rest. The swells in the lake were over a foot high, and at one point most of Jim and Shauna's boat was airborn (I bet you can guess which end was not). We finally pulled over into a little cove on the lee side of a peninsula and had a few beers and chatted as we'd slowly drift back into the heavy wind. We repeated this a few times. Paddling back to the landing was great but a little frustrating as it felt like I was on a surfboard trying to catch a wave but always failing.

Total Distance: 2.15 miles
Total Time: 2hrs, 27 sec.
Nutrition: 1 wee heavy, 1 old thumper, orange slices

Monday, May 25, 2009

Pineland Farms Trail Challenge Race Report

This was my first PFTC and my longest race evah, even though I only did the 25K. I started the morning a little after 6AM organizing the FHS Nordic Aid station by the yurt and helped at this station until Blaine, Jim, Al(losaurus), Floyd, Ryan, and Kevin came through with the 50K group. Then I headed back to the campus to register and prepare for the race, which started at 10AM.

I was pretty pumped for the race and feeling confident. I wore my HR monitor and decided to let that pace me, since I had HR data from a half-marathon that I did three years ago. The start of the race is fast because there is a lot of downhill in the first three miles. At about mile 2, I was running more-or-less with two guys from Acidotic Racing, Chris Dunn and Brent Tkaczyk, who were chatting back and forth and I was wondering how they could keep the pace and talk. At some point in the Winter Loop or the Valley Farm loop, I started to get a side stitch, but at this time it was very light and manageable. I have a history of side stitches in 10Ks (2 out of 5) and I had one in the Muddy Moose that I managed to mitigate. I noticed that talking aggravated it so I focused on my breathing and this seemed to keep it in check, although it continued to linger in the background (unlike Muddy Moose where it never recrudesced). As I was coming into the FHS aid station for the last time, I yelled out a big FHS Nordic cheer and the side-stitch suddenly jumped to a new, but still manageable level. I focused on breathing a little more and then woot-wooted to ryan, who was working on his 2nd 50k lap. Well, the woot-woot was the tipping point and the side-stitch was now full blown muscle spasm that felt like mohommed ali punching me from the inside. Maybe I gave up trying to work it out too soon but I stopped and walked to give it a rest, not that walking is the quickest way to ease the pain. As I walked, there I went from about 15th to 16th to who knows, maybe 10 people passed me?

After a couple of minutes the pain was back to what I thought was manageable and I took off, probably too fast because I thought "well I've walked for a few minutes so I must have lots of energy". Side-stitches are like hiccups. Hard to get rid of and they just keep coming back. I had to stop and walk again coming out of the fields and into the Valley Farm Aid Station, where I took an electrolyte tab and drank a coke given to me by my friend Peggy Paine. I took off up into the Campus loop and was feeling pretty good. The SS was very very light - I hadn't dropped it but I could run with it. On the big climb I passed a couple of people, crossed over into Oak Hill and was feeling pretty good. I had a couple of down hill miles in Oak Hill which I thought "I need to get some time back" but also "It's downhills that aggravate side-stitches". So I took it conservatively. In the little field loop just after the start of Oak Hill I lost it again and the SS came back. I stopped immediately before it got too big and I walked again and was passed by the two people that I had just passed. I started again and just decided to take it really easy on the downhill part of Oak Hill going into gloucester hill. Obviously stopping for a SS was worse than running slowly downhill.

One more very brief walk somewhere on Gloucester Hill and then it was mostly uphill. The ss was very manageable, not really painful at all, but I was afraid to really push the pace. Somewhere on the little loop after the Pownal Loop, I was passed by Katja Fox, who seemed to be running very easily. I couldn't/wouldn't keep her pace and let her go, she eventually caught up with Carrie McCusker and Ellie Tucker, who were about 30s and 1 minute ahead, so Katja was really moving.

I crossed the line in 2:01:05. I counted up my "lost pace" during my stops/walks and figured I lost about 6 minutes due to these, none of which I could get back without aggravating the SS. Chris and Brent finished in 1:54:19 and Don Medd, who I was a little in front of when I got the SS finished in 1:55:08, so 5-6 minutes lost seems about right. Woulda. Coulda. Shoulda.

Interestingly our Trail Monster 25K team (me, Don, Lily, Shauna, Stephen, Kelly) placed first, less than a minute ahead of the Acidotic Team. I'm glad my ss didn't slow me down any more.

So, not a great race but I've got many more ahead of me. Ian and Erik put on a brilliant show. It was great to finally run it. The cool, cloudy, showery weather that we had during the run cleared by maybe 1PM and we had a sunny, gorgeous afternoon with great music, food, and beer.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Why I don't live in Bend

This is a picture of Mt. Bachelor from two days ago. I snagged it from Dave Chamberlain's blog. Dave is there with all the hard core nordic skiers for early summer training. On snow. Fresh snow. Atop piles and piles of old snow. It must suck to live there. Think of the angst these athletes that live in Bend must have. How does one choose between skiing, biking, running, or beach volleyball at this time of year? It's like trying to choose which pair of inov8s to buy next.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Twin Brook mud

Trails are drying everywhere, except the stream-crossing trail and the cloverleaf trail at Twin Brook, which remain as muddy as evah. In the photo above are my new NB 790 trail racing shoes that arrived in the mail just before heading out to Twin Brook to run in the TMR TNR. They= 790s are very, very lightweight but not as flexible as the Inov8 x-talons. This was my first run in them and they felt great. They should be awesome for a dry Pineland 25K race. I actually wasn't sure if I was just going to walk for an hour or run, but I opted for the latter, largely because I wanted to see if it aggravated my m.g.m. This morning it seems no worse, just mildly sore. Also in the run were Emma, Ian, Eric, James, Alan, Jim, and Nicole. I didn't join the sprints tonight. The first sprint was James v. Alan. I don't think Alan realized it was a sprint - I think he saw James take off so he took off too. And quickly passed James on the steepest part of the uphill. James easily passed him after that since I think Alan left it all on the hill. Nobody did the 2nd sprint, I think because James was off looking for Mory. The final sprint was James v. Ian and they ran hard in a stiff wind. James "pull me Ian" Demer sat on Ian's tail letting Ian do all the work.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Piscataqua crossing

I hate not running. I love not running. I strained my left gluteus maximus Friday hill running. The run at Pineland Saturday morning aggravated it more. Yesterday I went for a short walk and it was painful *walking* up shallow hills (maybe 3-5 degrees!). I was going to run Back Cove today but instead rode my Bike - a 17.4 mile roller coaster in which I crossed the E. or W. branch of the Piscataqua R. in 6 different spots (The E. branch is what Ian jumps across at Twin Brook). I was motivated to bike because I drove down to Norwood MA west of Boston to buy a mid 90s Jamis Aurora that I picked up for $200. The Jamis Aurora is a touring bike - I bought it because I'm attracted to steel frames instead of aluminum, which is the other metal one can get if one is only willing to spend $200 on a bike. I'll use it as a second road/commuting bike and also let my kids use it so they can try out a road bike. It was nice to get a 1 hr workout without further damaging my arse. Still, I don't like biking nearly enough to replace any real running with it.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Pineland - one week to go

Lots of unknown runners this morning at Pineland so I'm not going to even begin to list who's who. My goal for the morning was to (1) run only the first 8+ miles and (2) run at estimated race HR on two 1-mile sections of this. The goal being to figure out what my race pace is on this course. For my race HR, I'm using the HR splits that I had during the Maine 1/2 marathon in 2005 - one of my only two 1/2 marathons (the other was the White Mountain Miler two weeks later and I didn't wear my HR monitor for that). The 1/2 marathon HR started at 160 and rose to about 163 (mile splits). My two race-pace miles are in yellow (picture above) although I kept the race pace for about 1.3 miles on the 2nd one because I wanted to see how my HR fared on the long climb up. During my first race-pace segment, I passed the pack but James joined me and we ran the rest of the way together. He kept me moving faster than I had planned in the interval between the race-pace miles but still within a reasonable HR range. He also was itchin' to push the 2nd race pace segment, and especially that last 1/3 mile hill even harder so he's got some pent up energy in there. He's going to be a monster in the 50M.

After the run, Cacky and my parents joined me and we went for a nice walk on the River loop and then had lunch in the market. Lots and lots of other runners were around including Jill from Muddy Moose. Also fun to see local ski star Adele Espy out doing some nordic pole running with her coach, Dick Taylor. Adele is deferring college (I think Dartmouth) to go out to Sun Valley ID later this summer/fall/winter to train and try to make the olympic team (Yes the winter olympics are almost here!).

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Did Chuck already link to this?

Chris McDougall interview on barefoot running. My own take: I sympathize with the minimalist/barefoot crowd but I freely admit that this is largely due to wishful thinking. Yes there is little to no "scientific evidence" that built up running shoes help to avoid injury but there is also little to no [good] evidence that built up running shoes cause injury or that minimalism/barefoot running helps to avoid injury. Lots of emotional, anecdotal stories though!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Another Tuesday Another sprint

Jim, Chuck, Jack (May), Scott (Ellis) and I carried the torch at Twin Brook tonight. Eric was there with Django but didn't join us. The explanation had to wait about 1/2 hour later when we saw him running with Jana from Pineland. Way to take one for the team Eric and wait for her to arrive. Since Ian wasn't there, we didn't have anyone to lead us across the brook so we took the long route around. The first couple miles were at a nice casual pace and it was good to talk to Scott and Jack. The 2nd half of the run, of course, has the newly implement sprints. I took off on the first one (about 260 meters) and put the hammer down. Jim didn't grab my shirt this week but Jack still caught me and we pushed each other hard - really hard becasue this one is uphill in the field- but he had more kick in the end. I'm not sure if Scott joined in and I know Chuck was taking it easy because he's running Sugarloaf as a warmup to Pineland. We kept a steady pace until the 2nd sprint (about 480 meters). This sprint is fun because its on the twisty-turny C loop and its feels great to lean into the corners. Jack again caught me about 1/2 way through but this time passed me. He then mocked me by staying in close range. Or maybe he was trying to pull me faster. Regardless, he had way to much power for me. We again dropped back to a sane pace and this time Chuck didn't hammer it home. On the 3rd sprint (about 550 meters), I took off as usual. No one ever caught me so Jack must have let me win this one. Scott and I finished the run with a barefoot lap around all the fields (about 1.3 miles). Scott wanted to dip into the woods but I was too much of a wimp. The grass felt really good. I'm limiting my sprints next week to <<100 meters but I want to see Ian going the distance.

Total Distance - 7.5 miles
Total time - 1:02:53

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Final fifteen

In preparation for the Pineland 25K, I've got in 15 mile runs the last two Sundays but the similarities end there. Last Sunday was extreme - hilly, rocky, rooty, bloody - and took 3:50. Today's run was on Falmouth roads and took 1:59. I tried to keep a sub 8 pace while keeping HR below 140 (80% of MHR) despite some good size hills (the first hill sort of dwarfs the other three). So it was good to get in a 15 miler at (close to?) my race pace for Pineland (of course that will be on a hilly trail).

On another note, I felt some plantar fasciatis pain at the start of my run yesterday and felt it *very* mildly this morning. Didn't feel it on the run today but I feel it now, or maybe my feet are just sore from running on the road for 15 miles. Looking at my notes on my last PF episode, I was doing a lot of runs in the Nike Free. Since then I've not done much running in the frees, except for the occasional race. But I did both my Wed and Thur Back cove runs in the Frees. Do Frees give me PF? Who knows. But I think I'll get out and run a mile barefoot on the soccer fields tomorrow for some active recovery and foot strengthening.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Oh Hell

Sasha, Rodney and I got in a modified Blackstrap Heaven run in, finishing just before the wicked big storm came through. We flushed a deer at two different locations, both quite close, but luckily I had Sasha on leash. The bad news is that someone has done some clearing on the trail that returns from the powerline to Hardy Rd (just north of the right-angle turn after mile 6 - yes it's the trail that you could really hammer near the end of the race). It looks like it might be a new driveway. I think I'm going to go chain myself to a tree and dare them to cut it.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

mile repeats

I thought I was in a pure base phase of training this spring but I decided to do some intervals this week and next in preparation for Pineland Farms 25K. I run for fun and race for excitement and neither treadmills nor tracks fit into this worldview. Back Cove is the closest thing to a track that I run, and it's a pretty nice substitute. Good surface, good scenery, good social scene, sometimes even a good smell if the wind is blowing from the bean factory or if it's low tide or if I'm running past the sewage treatment plant.

Today the goal was a short run with 3 X 1 mile repeats with full mile recoveries at back cove. I didn't do my homework before lacing up so I figured a 1 mile repeat must be about 5K pace. In the fall my 5K pace was around 6 min/mile but that was at the end of last season and back cove is a little slow so I took it a little slower and did 6:12, 6:06, 6:08. The first quarter mile of these felt great, the middle 1/2 mile felt do-able but hard, and the last quarter mile of each I wondered why the hell I was doing this. But if we're not thinking this then we're not working hard. And I only did three. The recoveries were at about a 8:20-8:30/mile pace - it's really hard to run much slower after just running fast. Anyway, got it done, finished the 6+ miles in 45 minutes, and I'm ready for some afternoon work. And it's way more fun to do this at back cove than some HS track.

But to procrastinate a little more, I did use the McMilan running calculator to check my pace. I'm not sure of my fitness but I put in 19:00 5K time, which seemed reasonable for back cove and at this point in my training. The calculator gave me a 1600m repeat time of 6:05-6:18, so my guestimate was spot on.

distance - 6.1 m
time - 45:09
nutrition - not enough - I need some effingham

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Check out Hellstedt

I'm not sure how much Brett has run in TMR tuesday night runs or saturday morning runs but he is a regular in the Bradbury series and won Blackstrap Hell. Anyway, Brett apparently has talents other than running. He came in 21/69 in the first of the very competitive Peak Performance time-trial series and 6/154 in the Polar Bear Triathlon. Good work, Brett.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Twin Brook

Sasha the Siberian bitch and I joined Ian, Chuck, Jim, Blaine, and Chuck's friend Jack May for the TMRTNRATB. Great run. We implemented all three sprints, which are in the 300-400 meter range so a little longer than sprints. Ian, I think won the first one. The second one included much of the C loop. Sasha and I started early and took a big lead but Sasha slowed, allowing everyone to pass by. Sasha got excited by everyone in front of us and took off again but I was spent and couldn't catch Ian and Jack. I think Jack may have taken this one. Chuck just kept the high pace for the rest of the run and Jack was on his tail for much of it. So I guess Chuck officially won the last sprint (ending at the cars). Ian and I started to pick up the pace somewhere on the dirt road and with about 50m left caught Jack. Chuck had finished showering by the time Ian crossed the line for 2nd, with Jack, Sasha and I sticking our chests or snouts out for third.

Camden Hills V. Seven Sisters

So how do the Ocho de Camden compare to the Seven Sisters? I've not done the latter but I downloaded the gps data from someone else's race from*. The chart above is the elevation profile of the 7 sisters (out and back) and of our trail monster Tour de Camden Hills**. The major qualitative difference is that Camden has fewer, higher climbs while Seven sisters has more, shorter climbs. The total climb for Camden*** was 3624 feet over 15.3 miles, or 237 feet/mile, and that for Seven Sisters was 2553 feet over 11.1 miles, or 212 feet/mile. So the difference at least hill wise is, do you like a few long steep hills or do you like many short steep hills?

* There were several race files and the distance varied but the 11.1 mile file looked pretty clean so I used this.
** I used the same spline smoothing algorithm for each file, not the raw data and not the motionbased algorithm.
***My profile is smoother than the motion based profile so the total climb estimated by me will be less than that of motionbased (which is more accurate is anyone's guess)

Monday, May 4, 2009

8 climbs

As I posted previously, we cut our 8-peak/20 mile run to 15+ miles but we still got in 8 climbs.
1. Mt Battie - 600 ft
2. Megunticook summit - 1050 ft
3. Megunticook backside - 450 ft
4. Bald Rock summit - 500 ft.
5. Cameron Mt. summit - 250 ft.
6. Megunticook ridge - 550 ft.
7. Megunticook front side - 300 ft.
8. Mt. Battie - 300 ft.
(the above image is the raw elevation profile because the MB gravity profile couldn't seem to handle the climb up and descent on the front fact of Battie).

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Camden Hills - TMR spring fling

Trail Monster Running did a road trip to the Camden Hills today for a planned 20 miler on most of the trails in the Camden Hills State Park. Ian came up with the route and printed out full-page color maps for all. Included in the mix were myself, Ian, Jamie, Floyd, Stephen, Ryan, Jim, Shauna, Danielle, Kelly, and Cacky. The group split immediately as the guys were going for Ian's 8 peak/20 miler, Shauna was doing her own run, and Danielle, Kelly, and Cacky were out for a power walk. I'm not posting an elevation profile but Jamie has one here (which is missing about 1/2 mile of trail). The weather was really perfect: upper 50s with little wind and high cloud cover, allowing us to see the stunning view that these trails afford without hot sun beating down on us.

My pics are here
Ian's pics are here

(long report)
We had a pretty quick run up the short, steep Mt. Battie trail to start the run, because its there and you just have to do it this way. Only about 1/4 mile after descending from the peak on the Tablelands trail toward Mt. Megunticook, my left foot snuck under an elevated root on the foot plant, which then kept it locked to the ground when I tried to lift off. Splat! I fell on a typical maine mountain trail - big jagged rocks, etc - except that there was actually a stone waterbar crossing the trail made of 1/2 buried upturned stones with the jagged edges sticking up like a fence post. My left arm took one for the team - This arm landed on the stones but kept the rest of my body from major damage. One stone did hit my chest at the lowest rib but didn't penetrate or brake it. Sweet - not even a mile into the run and I was down. Luckily it was just a flesh wound and after a 30s break - we kept moving. (you can see some of the damage in the pictures but my picture, at least, didn't capture the thin strawberry that is most of the length of my forearm).

We took the nature trail down to the base of Mt. Megunticook, then climbed past the overlook (nice) and the peak, then down the slope trail to the multi-use trail. The slope trail was wicked steep downhill with enough rock to raise the cortisol level but not enough to keep us from running it fast. The nicely graded multi-use trail didn't last long because we took the (ski?) trail back up toward the Megunticook ridge. This was a nice continuous climb that was a good workout for Mt. Washington road race. Ryan requested that Ian include the sky blue trail and after a few hundred feet of climb we took the sky blue trail back down to the multi-use trail. The sky blue trail was really sweet - smooth with a lot of pine straw and very little rock or root. A short distance down the multi-use trail and we turned up to climb Bald rock peak. This was another nice, not too steep, climb. Bald Rock gave us a nice view of Penobscot Bay and the mountains of Acadia National Park.

At this point, Jim and Ryan pressed on with the original plan but Ian, Floyd, Jamie, Stephen, and I decided that we wanted to limit our run to under 4 hours and the 20 mile/8 peak loop wasn't going to happen today (plus Ian had to get back for an appointment in Camden). So we skipped the Frohock out and back and descended Bald rock, crossed the multi-use trail, and took the Cameron Mt. trail, which is an old rocky, wet road bed. This was really the only mud on the run. It's not a great trail but it did take us to Cameron Mountain, which is a very short peak in the middle of a blueberry barren. Subsititute blueberry for heather and it's all very Scottish looking. Quick up, quick scan of the panaromic view, and quick down, took us back down into the woods for a another long climb up the back side of Megunticook ridge. At this point my legs were starting to burn but I was pretty persistant to maintain a running gait (if not a running pace). We followed this up to Zeke's trail then descended onto the begininng of the Maiden Cliff trail. This section of the trail was fairly sharply down and absolutely covered with large sharp boulders which didn't really let us move very quickly. Unfortunately, we didn't have time to run out to Maiden Cliff and the great view of Megunticook lake, so we did a U turn onto the Jack Williams trail which parallels the ridge trail a few hundred feet below the Mt. Megunticook ridge line. All pretty uneventful until Jamie hit the wall and stopped for some peanut butter. Stephen slowed down to run with Jamie. My legs were sore but worse I was starting to get little muscle spasms (charlie horses/cramping) in various foot and leg muscles every time I tripped on a root (which was becoming very frequent, though none of them sent me to the ground). Ian gave me a salt tablet which may or may not have helped but I never got any really full blown cramps, at least.

Ian, Floyd, and I rounded a corner expecting to start to climb Mt. Battie and were all a bit disappointed to see that we actually had to descend down a big valley before reclimbing to Mt. Battie's peak (which was about the height we were at this point). Oh well. Down and up we went to the top of Mt. Battie but not before we got a call from Cacky to say she was going to pick up Jim and Ryan, who were in no mood to do the whole 20 and found themselves way on the other side of the park. We climbed to summit where we found Randy Woods and family. A quick high five and then a quick climb up the stairs of the tower, but not before tripping on the first step and jamming my finger into the stone step. From here it was all downhill to the cars but a mostly really scary downhill with my level of leg fatigue and general lack of balance. Luckily, neither Ian, nor Floyd, nor I had an fatal falls and we got down reasonably quickly, though I'm not sure any quicker than we ran up at the beginning of the run. Ian was off pretty quickly for his meeting and within a few minutes Stephen and Jamie came flying to the finish. Five minutes later Cacky and Danielle arrived with Jim and Ryan who seemed no worse for the wear.

The burgers and beer flowed at Cuzzy's following the run, which happens to be where Cacky and I had ours last beer before getting married the next day (well same building, it was O'Neils at the time).

Total distance - 15.3 miles
Total time - 3:50:53
Total climb - a lot

Totaly awesome run, with great fun apres-run lunch in town, and good company during the travel.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

bird report

Runners at the weekly TMR SMR @ Pineland Farms were treated to the first really nice morning filled with the songs of spring migrants. I don't recognize as many songs as I used to, but the Black throated green warblers were thick everywhere. There were a few Northern parula and black and white warblers. But the star was the blue-winged warbler to the left of the path that crosses the fields on the way to the river loop.