Wednesday, June 30, 2010


The graph above shows how I've increased my running mileage from my November low (zero miles!). Some notes:

1. I took the last week of October and all of November off of running or training of any sort (with a tiny bit of roller skiing) to try to get rid of my gluteal pain that I had run with since May. Didn't work. Should have just kept running.

2. Because of the craptastic snow, I actually ran more over the winter than I have in previous winters. Not much but there were a few January and even February miles.

3. I'm running more miles now than I've ever run and I feel pretty damn good. A little tired maybe. I'd like to get up to 60-65 MPW but I'm not sure how to add miles without doing doubles and doing doubles feels like training. I hate training. I just like to run.

4. The graph below shows my ski mileage this winter. Its depressing to see that I'm running more miles than I skied this winter. I skied every day this winter but most of the snow time was spent coaching and not skiing. I really didn't get good mileage in until March (after the HS nordic season) and all of that was weekend mileage because of the lack of snow below 1500 ft elevation. But I absolutely loved March and the long weekend skis in gorgeous weather.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Some Running Reading

Some good running-reading from around the web:

SI article on Chris Solinsky. Good read. Much of the article focuses on Solinsky's body type and durability. Jamie and I once had a conversation on body type and injury. I looked into the literature after this and read that weight or BMI is not a good predictor of injury rate.

A pair of blog articles on strength training for runners. #1 is here. #2 is here. Note that I said in my post which was a response to Ryan's epiphany that I don't strength train using weights (the only strength training I do is running hills, which I do very regularly). These articles and others have convinced me that I will should add some gym time (I really hate gyms).

And the five types of hill training that Blaine linked to. Personally, I'd ignore the physiological explanation part.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Does 1/2 Marathon predict Mount Washington Time?

Updated with three years of data! The above graph illustrates the joint times of all male sub 1:45 runners at the New Bedford half-marathon that also raced the Mount Washington Road Race the same year for the years 2008-2010. The black line is a simple linear regression. The red line is a simple linear regression but the New Bedford times are log transformed with the natural log. The blue line is the line of equivalent times at both races.

1. There is a big difference between how sub 1:20 and over 1:20 half-marathoners perform at Mount Washington. Sub 1:20 half-marathoners don't seem to blow up. Over 1:20 half-marathoners do. Sub 1:20 half-marathoners often run faster at Mount Washington. Over 1:20 half-marathoners less commonly.

2. The New Bedford predictor is much steeper than the blue line, so the faster you are, the more likely you will get close to or break your half-marathon time at Mount Washington and the slower you are the less likely (a re-statement of #1).

3. The Mount Washington race predictor spreadsheet (downloadable from the race web site) predicts an expected time range, which is essentially a 5 minute window from 5 minutes less than your 1/2 marathon time up to your 1/2 marathon time. So the blue line in the graph is at the high end of the website's predictor. The New Bedford data show that this is really only a good predictor for the elite (sub 1:10 runners). For 1:10 - 1:20 half-marathoners, your half-marathon time is a pretty good predictor of your Mount Washington time.

4. If your half-marathon time is over 1:20, Mount Washington prediction is difficult. If you run a good race you should be close to your half-marathon time. But you are also more likely to blow-up (see final comment below).

5. The website predictor is optimistic if you are not an elite runner. And the slower you are, the more optimistic it is. Compare:

6. Does the official race predictor make sub-elite and especially over 1:20 runners go out too fast, sending them into a slow death spiral from which they won't recover?

Caveats - I don't have good data for sub 1:10 half-marathoners because not enough run both New Bedford and Mount Washington. Even worse, the sharp deviation of the curved line at the elite end may be heavily influenced by a single elite mountain runner, Eric Blake, whose Mount Washington Times are 7-11 minutes faster than his New Bedford times.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

2010 Mt. Washington Road Race report - no pain no gain

Tom Ryan, Carry Buterbaugh, Scott Brown and me: Top-o-the-world, or at least New England

Mt. Washington Road Race. 7.6 miles, 4600 foot climb, average grade 11.5%. 2010 was the 50th running of the race. This year the race was also the USATF National Mountain Running Championship and the sole race in which the US National Mountain Running Team would be picked. So it was a deep, deep field.

It was a spectacular day on the mountain...for watching the race at the top. Bluebird skies and highs in mid-high 80s. The predicted weather at the top was 60F and 30MPH winds. Snowman pulled out of the race with a sinus infection and took over DD from Dave Howard. Jim, Ian, Jaime, Dora, and Ann hiked up and cheered at the finish. Lots of familiar faces going to the start line including Dave Roberts, Bob Poirier, Tom Hoag, Kevin Robinson, Lily Childress, Scott Brown, Carry Buterbaugh, Tom Ryan, Chris Dunn, and my son's biology teacher Carry Boudreau. I wore a PR racing jersey for the first time. I promise to only wear it for road races and fall XC.

My goal time was 1:23. Last year I ran 1:25. I thought I had a 1:21 in me if I had the perfect race. I positioned myself close to the front and took off at a relatively easy pace at the canon. The first 100 yards drops in elevation about 20 feet. Then there is maybe several hundred yards of flat. Then the climb begins. The first 1/2 mile of the climb consists mostly of people settling out while they find their race pace. I keyed off the women mostly because I recognized several that would run about my goal time. 25 women were predicted to be sub 1:25 (only 6 were sub 1:25 last year). Probably 25 women were ahead of me.

I ran with no splits marked on my arm or really any goal splits. I was running mostly by feel but paying attention to my HR. My HR was steady at 158. Last year it was a steady 164-165. Should I be running faster? Was last year artificially elevated? Dunno but I was running at about a 1:20 pace so I thought I'd just stay at 158. I also tried a slightly different strategy from last year - I ran the tangents rather than the middle of the road. This meant a shorter run but a steeper climb. At the two mile mark, Kevin Tilton - one of the elite mountain runners trying to make the national team, was walking down and I heard him say "it's too hot". The sun was blazing and there was no relief - the tall trees that provided a little shade at the bottom quickly began dwarfing and by mile 2 or 3 there really wasn't any shade left. At the aid stations, I'd take one quick sip of water and pour the rest on my head. My singlet soaked it up and this kept the core a little cooler.

I hit the half-way mark right at 40 minutes but the top 1/2 is harder than the bottom. At this point I was steadily passing people, including lots of the sub 1:25 women. Somewhere around mile 4 marker I began to feel a side stitch, which I am prone to in races longer than 5K. Was this possible, on a climb, running 11 minute miles? I worked on breathing and then forgot about it. About mile 6 it recrudesced with a vengeance and it was somewhere around there that I slowed to a walk. My diaphragm was in such a spasm that I could hardly breath (remember the diaphragm is the muscle that make you inspire, filling your lungs with fresh air). I could actually breath more easily running but it hurt too much to run. I kept walking and amazingly, wasn't loosing huge time to the other runners. After about a minute I started to run again but that was too painful and I walked again. I walked for about 1/3 mile. One of the photographers snapped a photo of me in my painful struggle. I dug deep and returned to running and was able to keep the stitch from escalating again. I pushed it a little - I had about 1 mile left. Finally I turned into the final 22% wall and ran it the best I could. Ryan, Ian, Jim, Jamie, and Dave were absolutely brilliant. They were screaming their guts out. I heard one of them yell sub 1:23 and I dug deeper and kicked. I have a crap kick but I tried. I crossed the finish in 1:22:58 - right at my goal. I couldn't breath, I could barely stand. When I did finally catch my breath enough to have one of the finish volunteers let me go without falling I went over to the rocks to vomit but couldn't get it out. I finished 90th overall, 80th male and 8th in age group.

Mt. Washington is a painful race. The first 5 miles are great but soon enough the relentless climb begins to eat at you mentally. My mind kept expecting a crest to the hill but that just never happens. The last 2 miles of that race just hurts, mentally and physically. It's also a humbling race. And it's simply stunning that there are guys that run it in one hour. The beauty of Mt. Washington, though, is that the recovery is quick. There is no pounding on the body, just light little footsteps. It's the way running should be.

Big congratulation to all runners, and especially Chris D., Lily C., and Kevin R. on their first runs up the hill.
The final 22% climb.
and the turn to the finish. Can you see the speed in my kick?

Thanks to Carry, Jim, Ian, and Ryan for the wunderbar pics!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Mt. Washington treadhill climbs

I went into the Mt. Washington Road Race last year with a sore gluteal region and noticed how good it felt after the race. Following the race, I decided to try running on a treadmill at a Mt. Washingtonesque incline (11.5%) as an alternative to my regular running. This lasted all of two sessions (treadmill running is boring). These were my first treadmill runs ever.

The discovery of the incline feature was a revelation to me (dooohh!) and I decided to buck up and run on the treadmill once per week for Mt. Washington 2010. I did 3 runs in the Seattle Sheraton just after new year but didn't jump back on until late February, when the snow around here became sketchy and thoughts of Mt. Washington were rising to consciousness. So I paid my $45 for 6 months membership at the USM gym which is about 50 yards from my office. And I did manage to run it 11 of the last 15 weeks.

All treadmill workouts were at 11.5% grade (Mt. Washington average grade), generally 30-45 minutes, and almost all were tempo or tempo intervals (last week's was my only easy run).

Total miles treadhill climbing: 43.72
Total feet climbed: 26,260
Avg grade: 11.4%

That's about 5.75 Mt. Washington Road Races.

I'm ready to let my membership expire until next spring (treadmill running is boring).

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Exeter 10 miler race report

(The picture that should go here is found here).

This past Sunday, five Trail Monsters invaded New Hampshire for the Exeter Trail Races 10 miler. Joining me were Floyd Lavery, Joe Wrobleski, Alosaurus Morisson, and new TM Andy Kiburis. The race is an important team event as the results are included in the emerging New England Dirt Cup, which at this point is a competition between two teams, Acidotic Racing and Trail Monster Running. In short, the race was a most excellent adventure: 1) the trails make for fun running, 2) 10 miles is a great distance, 3) the course was well marked, 4) the competition was fierce, and 5) the raffle had great prizes.

1. Trails - The trails are a hybrid between old and new school. The system is an extensive network of wide singletrack, similar to the trails on the mountain side at Bradbury (course of the Bradbury Mountain Breaker), and much wider than the narrow, new school singletrack on the non-mountain side of Bradbury (e.g. Bat Cave trail). But the course was quite a bit windier than the typical old-school trail. Much of the trail was very rocky - not loose rock but large, angular rocks deeply buried in the dirt (kinda like icebergs). But the lack of loose rock generally meant the footing was very, very good, although many foot plants were necessarily on top of angled rock. The trail was wide enough in spots that choosing one's line through the rock was probably an important component of race strategy. Some of the trail was very rooty as well. There were also many, many bridges, including several quite long but narrow boardwalks winding their way across very swampy looking water. Definitely not wheel-chair accessible terrain. Finally, the terrain is not very hilly, it's not flat, it's just the hills are very short. But there is one really short, steep hill near the end of the race (when you least need it, of course).

2) 10 miles is a great distance for a race. I like to run fast through the woods; it reminds me of being a kid. And running fast on windy trails like these is twice the fun (the new-school bat cave or O-trail are too windy for fast running!). And one can run pretty fast for 10 miles without dying. Perfect.

3). The race directors marked the course by marking with painted white lines the many, many trail intersections and painting big white arrows on the trail in the direction of travel. The big white arrows turned out to be very easy to follow. The white lines made me work a little harder than caution tape; at one point I zoned out and crossed a white line after I went straight through an intersection instead of taking a 90 degree left turn. I immediately recognized this but my rhythm was interrupted. This is what makes it trail racing, of course.

4). The competition was fierce. There were 45 finishers in the 10 miler and I finished 15th. Damn! And I thought the Pineland 25K was competitive. My strategy was to follow Chris Dunn of Acidotic for the first 9 miles (he knows the trails) and then wave good bye as I left him in my vortex wake. Chris started out at what I thought was too fast, so I let him get a little ahead of me. After about 1.5 to 2 miles, I was running alone; about 50-75 yards behind Chris and the cluster of runners he was with and some unknown distance ahead of whoever was behind me. Andy Kiburis passed me about this point and joined Chris's crowd. I thought about just quickly closing the gap and running with them since we all seemed to be going the same pace but I decided to remain patient. I slowed and even stopped at an aid station at 4 or 5 miles(?) for a drink (again, I was being patient). At another point something seemed to have dropped from my body and I stopped for a second to figure out what it was (I didn't find it and quickly moved on). And at two points I made incorrect turns, both corrected immediately. Anyway, these little 2-3 second perturbations added up and I realized that I had lost Chris.

But I did catch up and pass an Acidotic racer who got dropped from the pack in front. This felt good as two AR runners passed me in the Oak Hill section at Pineland. But I wanted to catch Chris and at least 4 times I passed people walking the course or working the aid stations and asked "how far back am I" but failed everytime to get an answer. My astonishment at this lack of critical information was captured beautifully in a photograph by Brent Doscher. Finally someone said I was "2 minutes" behind the next pack. Schiesse. That's a lot of distance to make up with about 2 miles to go. My idea to really hammer the last two miles didn't come to pass. But I picked up the pace a little, figuring I'd never close a two minute gap. Good thing I didn't hammer it because I soon came to the one really, steep (but short) hill and I was glad to have the energy to run it. At this point, I caught and passed Floyd who I think went out a little too fast. With maybe 1/2 mile left I did hammer it and was surprised by how good I felt. I crossed the finish line in 1:15:44, which was under my goal time of 1:16:xx (which was Steve Wolfe's time from last year) - pretty remarkable given that I've never run the course. Was it the same course as last year? But my goal of passing Chris never happened - I ended up 45s behind him. Good race Chris! I'll see you at Mt. Washington.

5. The raffle, Race directors Ri and Sarah did their legwork and acquired some nice schwag for the raffle including six packs of some microbrew beer, various water bottles and water bottle belts from Nathan Sports, Road IDs, and 12 pairs of GoLite shoes! Sweet - I won a Nathan water bottle belt.

Overall a great event that should attract more and more runners every year.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Soul Food

Mixing up running sites is good for the soul. In addition to the usual Back Cove (but no Twin Brook), this week I ran:
Falmouth Community Park - Easy recovery run. I don't like running these trails often because the field trails are very cambered but it is always fun to run. This week I did hill bounding on all the short steep hills - not repeats as is usually done; just each time I came to a climb I bounded it.

The Sisters. I decided to postpone my leaving on my fishing trip to early Friday morning (left at 4:30AM) so I got to run the sisters with Ian Thursday evening. Another fun run.

Logging roads south of the Rapid River. Got a good set of tempo intervals on the back half of the out and back.

Libby Hill. I decided to run the single track (red track above that is not superimposed with green track) and it is sweet! You could have a really fun race here that combines the wide ski trails and narrow single track.

Exeter Trail Race - gnarly network of trails. Roots and rocks aplenty. Moderate twistyness. I'll write up a full race report later. As with Bradbury, the Garmin watch hugely underestimates True Mileage.

I also ran my last treadhill climb until next spring!

Total Miles 47.7 (time for a small Mt. W taper)
Total Time 7:01

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Unsolicited training advice

This is my response to Snowman's most recent post. At the risk of giving unsolicited advice, I'm offering unsolicited advice.

If you want to run faster then run more frequently, longer distances, and at a good mix of speeds. I just don't think changing nutrition or cross training is going to take you where you want to go. You have limited time away from family and the more time you spend on a bike (or roller skis!) the less time you spend running. Cross-training is great for overall fitness. Running is good for getting faster at running.

My recipe: 1. Run a minimum of 6X week. 2. Run a minimum of 6 miles per day. Do a double if you cannot do this in one shot. Take fewer showers and wear wool instead of funky synthetics. 3. Really, really try to avoid unplanned rest days 4. Run 3 miles on your rest day and see if you can run all 30/31 days in the month! 5. Run 2-3 uptempo runs which could be a progressive run, or a fartlek, or a "run to the barn" run (1/2M to M pace). 6. Run 1 fast tempo (15-20K pace) run/week. 7. Do speedwork at your peril. 8. Put hills in lots of your runs and run them fast during training (but slow down during a race!) 9. Easy runs need to be easy. 10. Strength training is hill bounding or hill repeats. 11. No upper body training other than double poling during ski season (I just don't see upper body training as adding any benefit but I know some disagree) 12. No stretching or core work. Stretching is useless for running. Core work is heavily promoted for avoiding injury but if the effect were anything larger than trivial, elite runners wouldn't get injured. They do. 13. Run in minimal shoes (Check out the Asics Tarther for road)
14. Long runs should be a small fraction of your weekly mileage. Consistency is more important than mileage on one run. If your major workout is a long slow run then you're training yourself to do long slow runs. 15. The more play you put in your runs the more fun they'll be. Run new routes, new trails, throw in a hill bound, run backwards, do flips, whatever. 16. The more you treat running as "training" instead of just running baby the less fun it will be.
17. Run with friends.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A day made for Trail Monsters

What's not to love? a 2000+ foot climb, steady rain, cool temps, a ridge full of open ledge, good company, no crowds, BBQ bob's, a deadly snowshoe hare with nasty, big pointy teeth...the list is endless. Thanks Blaine and Dave for joining me! We need more of these road trips this summer.

Training week - This may be my biggest mileage week evah. Not sure.
Monday 3.1 mile recovery run
Tuesday 6.1 mile recovery run @ twin brook
Wednesday 7.7 mile tempo @ Back Cove 5K
Thursday 7.9 mile easy run @ Back Cove
Friday 3.83 Treadhill climb 2 x 10 min + 2 x 5 min @ 11.5% grade @ sub-race pace
Saturday 13.8 mile easy run at Bradbury
Sunday 12.1 mile mountain run at Sunday River, largely easy pace (climbing is really not easy)

Total - 54.6 miles
Total Time - 9H:16M
Average Pace 10:12/Mi (how's that for an average pace?)