Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Garmin 305 HR monitor...

is really annoying when it does this sort of stuff. That's not a HR spike lasting a few seconds but a HR FUBAR lasting nearly a mile. This was at Back Cove. On the non-bridge side. And my breathing was invariant - one breath every 3 stride cycles - throughout.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A trail race (almost) without Trail Monsters

The Pathfinders 5K XC race was held this morning at Pineland Farms. Absolutely. Stunningly. Gorgeous. Cool, dry air, bluebird skies, and fast trail conditions were enjoyed by all. Roller coaster hills and long climbs were enjoyed by at least me. The race, starting at the "stadium" in front of the visitor's center and using the campus loop, is the toughest 5K XC course in the area. Fast running on tough courses is almost as fun as fast skiing on these courses! And the prizes are pies and pineland cheese. Sweet!

As much as I've run at Pineland, I've never run fast there so I wasn't sure what to expect. The first mile is a net downhill but over some rollercoaster terrain. I hit the mile in 6:11 in (what I thought was) 4th place. Mile two starts with the end of the roller coasters and then begins the long, gradual climb; the net climb is about 130 feet. I hit the 2 mile mark with a 6:40 split and was (what I thought was) 3rd place. At this point I was well ahead of my guestimated pace and at the top of the hill. Mile 3 is back downhill and I hit the mark in 5:50, still in (what I thought was) 3rd place. My splits are based on my Garmin 305 so when I hit the 3 mile mark well short of the finish, I knew the course was long. My official time was 20:55, in what I thought was 3rd place but the winner was actually far enough ahead that I didn't see him on the windy course and so quickly forgot about him! Just ahead of me was 13 year old phenom Will Shafer, so I got schooled by a middle schooler (check out his mother's day 5K time though). I took home a delicious apple pie but I'm more thrilled about my average pace, which according to my watch was 6:11. My average pace (again according to my watch) at the Craig Cup last October was 6:22.

All the racers were cheered on by Ian (where was Mindy?), who was there running long, and Stephen (who was with his kids trying to find Kelley, who was at Back Cove). It was also nice to finally meet Dave Howard, Jim Gott, and Lonny Reny (the winner).

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Heart Rate

I dig number crunching. Which is why I have fun throwing together stuff like yesterday's post on my running goals. Today's post is really part II to that post. It's another way of quantifying improvement. The data above are average heart rates and pace over mile segments at back cove from this summer. The top graph is pace as a function of HR. Pretty simple, my HR sets limits on how fast I can run, so the faster the HR the faster I can run. I fit a quadratic polynomial curve to the data. Some of the variation off the curve is due to things like coffee status, time of day, heat, humidity, wind direction and speed, etc. But I'm interested if the speed that I can run at a certain HR has increased over the summer. So in the bottom figure, I took the residuals from the curve in the top figure and plotted them against day of year (DOY), with Jan 1 =1 and today being 266. I then fit a linear regression to these data. It's pretty crystal clear that today I can run faster at a given HR than I could early in the summer (the first datum is from May 27). In fact, the curve suggests that I can run about 50s/mile faster at any given HR. That seems like too much. Indeed, it would mean that on May 27 my 5K speed was about 20:53. Certainly I coulda run faster than that! Although maybe it explains my bonking at Muddy Moose, Pineland 25K, and the Clam Festival. Another possibility is my little analysis doesn't work so well for predicting the extremes. So I redid the analysis using only HR>155, which is a fast tempo run. With this subset of data, I find that I'm running 32s/mile faster at the faster heart rates. So that's a 19:59 5K. Still think I coulda beat that on May 27. Maybe next year I'll run the Mother's day 5K just to see how well my HR retrodiction works.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Running Goals

Whenever someone asks me "what are you training for",  my usual response is "the Craig Cup 5K". This is another way of saying, I am training "to get faster". That is my goal. And the Craig Cup is a race that I do every year so, as a consequence, I can monitor my speed increase. I also do this with a yearly road 5K and 10K. I don't really even have an ultimate time goal. Because when (if?) I reached it, what would I then do? Maybe my goal is to break 18:00 in a road 5K. But then I'd just move the bar to 17:30. Or to 18:30 for the Craig Cup. So my goal remains to get faster. That is, to keep training for the Craig Cup. At some point age will catch up with me and I'll start getting slower. That's when I'll re-assess some new goals.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Trail Monsters attack Lowell Preserve

(as always, click picture to enlarge)

Jamie, Ian, and I had a blind-leading-the-blind run on a stunningly beautiful morning at the Lowell Preserve. Actually our 11+ mile run was only the middle of Ian's run, but I'll let him tell you about that.

The Lowell Preserve is behind the firebarn on Falmouth/Babbidge road in Windham. Part of the Falmouth/Windham snowmobile network scoots through there but the Windham Parks & Recs has been improving many of these and adding single track. Its a crazy crazy network that will be fun to get to know. Most of the snowmobile trails are very rocky. Not loose rock but big buried boulders. The single track has great geometry, not super tortuous like Bradbury, but fun, freeform, flow. In the map above, our run is the navy blue track. Somewhere just north of the network is Atherton Hill, a local 500+ foot hill with a network of old snowmobile trails that I've not explored. The red diamond is a parcel that the Town of Falmouth just purchased. The western border of this parcel is the Lowell Preserve border, so Falmouth will hopefully work with Windham to extend the single track toward and into the red diamond. We ran part of the snowmobile trail east toward Blackstrap Rd. After crossing the road, this trail goes downhill to Blackstrap Hill/Wilshore Preserve. So yes, you can run from these trails to pretty much anywhere, including all the way to the Presumpscot River Trail. We're going to do this in early November after a key bridge is built!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Check out the e-mail that I just got from a friend...

"I found a pair of sunglasses yesterday on the trail at Ridgewood... I seem to recall that you lost a pair when we were walking there last Fall with the a larger group. Does that ring a bell?"

Woohoo! My photochromic Optic Nerves are returning home!

Sunday, September 13, 2009


I've had an easy weekend - my sister and brother in law are visiting from Florida and we've been visiting Peak's Island, Portland Headlight, Mount Battie, and, of course, the Wiscasset Bay Gallery. But I got out for a short 5 miler with Sasha and Rodney yesterday. No long run because I needed to get back and eat a relaxing breakfast before rushing downtown to make the Peak's Island Ferry. And no long run because I didn't want to completely tire myself before a PR attempt at the 5K this morning. While I couldn't escape long enough to do the Bruiser (what with all the socializing afterwards), Sam, Tom, Will, and I did got out to our local 5K, the Dan Cardillo.

The Dan course is pretty flatastic, but maybe not as flat & fast as Eliot. When I decided to run the Dan a couple of weeks ago, I thought I'd use it as a tune-up to check my fitness level before a fall 5 & 10K. My Clam Festival race was a big drain on my confidence, but over the past few days I thought I could at least match my 5K PR of 18:45. So that was my goal time. Goal pace: 6:02/mi. My first mile was 6:00 and I felt fine. My second mile was 5:58. Again fine and I knew that I had a small downhill ahead (very shallow but I'd take anything). So I pushed it a bit and ran 5:45 for my third mile. The finish is on the Falmouth track (one half lap). I don't have much of a kick but I gave it what I had and finished in official time of 18:23. Sweet. Even though this is a small race (only 260 runners or so) I only finished 7th in my AG (14th overall). What does it take to get a podium in a small 5K in Portland Maine? (the answer for this race was 17:14 for 3rd place in 40-49 AG). 17:14 is the low end of "National Class" according to my WAVA calculator. Anyway, it's a great race and I'd highly recommend it, especially if we can figure out how to get it and the Bruiser on different weekends.

Not long after I finished, I watched for Sam and Will (Tom decided not to run because of sore feet, so he too photos). I could hardly recognize Will running down the track because he was running faster than I'd ever seen him run. Will finished in 21:24 smashing his 5K PR by 4 minutes or so (the 2008 Dan)! Man he looked good. Sam didn't have such a good race. He plays soccer, so doesn't run much, and typically goes out faster than he can maintain (typical HS kid). So he got in a world of hurt but was a good sport when Will passed him. Sam finished in 21:59. I had meant to register us as a team but didn't. Shoulda because we would have placed 3rd, ahead of the Maine Track Club!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Portland Trails Trail to Ale

This is a week of missed group runs. Last night at Twin Brook. Tonight at the Back Cove 5K. Saturday marking the Bruiser course. And Sunday at the Bruiser race. Tonight I did run Back Cove, but a 10K not 5K. I helped Mark Goettel, the race director of the Portland Trails Trail to Ale 10K locate the mile marks. The race in the past has started at East End Beach and finished near the end of Thames St but this year that will be reversed. We managed to enter the Back Cove 5K course at Tukey's Bridge just before the first 5Kers whizzed past us. Mark could have schooled them, but he had work to do.

I've not been whining enough about my injuries so I'll make up for that now. I currently have, count 'em, FOUR injuries! I have my L. piriformis, which has been nagging me since the week before Pineland. I've had very, very mild plantar fascitis for maybe a month, but it's gotten noticeably worse the past few days. Not even close enough to even think about slowing down my running, just worse. Then Monday I awoke with a really sore R. hamstring, from my ass to back of knee. Jim thought this might have been from doing my 8X400 on the roads. Then last night after my 3X1600, my left calf was a little sore. I'm making up for last season when I didn't have the slightest pain. I really hope the snow comes early and deep.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Missed TMR TNR

I just missed my 3rd TMR TNR @ TB since my first post-snow TNR on April 13. I had to be at a "mandatory" meeting for FHS XC parents. Did you know there are 70 something kids on the FHS XC team?!?! Anyhoo, I wanted to be at the meeting, but not sure it needed to be mandatory. So instead of the smooth trails at Twin Brook, I did 3X1 mile on the Woodville Road loop while Tom & Will were running with the team.
Total distance 7.14 mi
Total time 52:39
Pace 7:23/mi
Shoes Asics Piranha

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Piscataqua Trail work

The East Branch of the Piscataqua River in Falmouth runs through a conservation corridor from Rt. 100 to Community park. Two of the parcels were acquired by the Falmouth Land Trust long before any vision of a conservation corridor. But some key work by the Falmouth Open Space ombudsmen Bob Shafto has filled in the gaps and a motley crew of Falmouth Conservation Corps and Falmouth Trails Advisory Committee members have been out this summer cutting trail and building bridges. A key bridge (over the W. branch of the Piscataqua) still needs permitting and a couple of short sections of trail still need cutting.

Sam, Tom, Will and I were joined by Ted Asherman this morning to attack these uncut sections. Ted attacked with the chainsaw while Sam followed, clearing the cut trees/branches. They completed the uncut section on the McCrann section. Tom, Will and I did the more tedious clearing of the small woody plants and perennials that could be pulled off the treadway, as well as clipping of branches that extend into the trail corridor. We through maybe 1/4 of the uncut section. But given the clearing done by Ted and Sam, even the unclipped part of the trail is easily passable, unlike a couple of weeks ago when five of us bushwacked through this section on our jungle run.

The McCrann section of the Piscataqua trail will be a very fun trail to run, walk or ski when it's completed. The woods are beautiful and the terrain is very rolling. This will not be a loop trail. Short loops would require some road sections, for example Falmouth Rd. to Twin Ponds Rd back to Community Park. Or if we can bushhog the powerline, then a loop trail wouldn't need road at all.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

My Bruiser

Ian, Emma, Val, Lily, Brett & Sarah (Hellstedt), Owen (Lisa) and I had a beautiful run on the Bradbury Bruiser course this morning. Ian, Emma, and Owen ran the course in 1:53:xx while the rest of us cruised in in something like 2:07:xx. This of course meant the rest of us had to scratch our heads at a few intersections. Still, we were making decent time until the O trail, where the 11+ min. miles actually felt like 8 min. miles! And it was fun to see the bikers on the O trail looking at us like we were brothers from another planet. Unfortunately for me, I will be missing the bruiser next week (my sister and bro-in-law are visiting us from la Florida) and all the pain during and fun after.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What's up with goretex running shoes?

Inov-8 has just announced new fall 09 running shoes, including a lighter f-lite, which I'd like for roads. But what's up with the 275 GTX and 345 GTX? Why goretex in a running shoe? Goretex isn't going to stop water from entering from above - either from rain or any respectable sized puddle. But inov-8 also has goretex gaiters. Does this combination work in deep puddles or streams? The major problem that I see is getting the sock wet in winter from a deep puddle or stream crossing and then the goretex not allowing the sock to dry quickly (remember its made to keep water from crossing it). Ouch. Are there reviews of the gtx system that are especially relevant to cold and real water, from a real user?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Lewis Maharam - bullshitter of the week

And the bullshitter* of the week award goes to the medical director for the New York Road Runners, yes that one, the one that directs the New York City Marathon. Dr. Lewis Maharam won this prestigious award for this gem: “In 95 percent of the population or higher, running barefoot will land you in my office”. And what evidence does Dr. Maharam have to make this claim? None that is published. I suspect it was a gut feeling. The distal part. From the male of the species Bos taurus.

*"[a bullshitter's] eye is not on the facts at all, as the eyes of the honest man and of the liar are, except insofar as they may be pertinent to his interest in getting away with what he says. He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose." - Harry Frankfurt, in his treatise On Bullshit.