Monday, August 30, 2010

Trail Week

We've had a nice burst of trail building activity these last few weeks of summer in Falmouth. The top picture is on the segment of the Cross Falmouth Trail behind Falmouth High School. The picture was taken Friday afternoon - by Sunday morning when the Trail Monsters ran through here, the bridge was done, thanks mostly to Caleb Hemphill (thank him when you see him). The bridge makes this section of trail soooooo much nicer than what we had cut last year.

The 2nd picture is a small crew of FHS xc runners (including sons Tom and Will) who helped me polish off the Field Rd. trailhead into the Community Park trail system. Bob Shafto has been working hard on that system all summer and its super fun to run now. James and I will be using this trail head to get the xc skiers into Community Park from FHS.

Ian Parlin, Chuck Hazzard, Blaine Moore, Jim Dunn, Mike Pratico, Don Medd, and I took advantage of both of these trails in our Sunday morning Tour de Falmouth. The section from Hannaford to Winn Road is just really fun single track. The west side of Winn Rd. is a confusing network of snomo trails and everyone discovered that my proclivity for wrong turns is not limited to races. I'm eager to cut some single track in this area next summer. After reaching Gray Rd., Blaine, Chuck and I hung on for a little more trail running through the Blackstrap Hill Preserve. Coming out of the BHP, we hit the full length of the gas line, which is about a 3/4 mile of roller coaster (Hell does just a short section of this) but a net 180 foot climb. Its a butt kicker at then end of a long run.

The week:
M Easy 6 mi at Community Park with Ian, James
T Easy 10.8 mi TMR TNR @ Twin Brook
W 4 X 2 mi @ MP-10s @ Back Cove - very windy. 1st mile very hard, not bad after that. 10 mi total (2nd was actually 1.5 mi since I mistimed my start)
Th Easy 4.1 mi at Back Cove
F 1 mi wu + 9 mi MP on Rt. 88. Much harder than last week's run. Bummer.
S Very Easy 9.6 mi at Bradbury Bruiser course with Ian and Joe. Very tired for first half.
S Easy 15.1 mi Tour de Falmouth. Felt great.

Total 65.6 miles

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

dull training post

M rest
T AM 6.8 mi easy Mountain Rd. loop, PM 5.5 mi easy @ Twin Brook
W 2 X 3 mi at MP-10s (6:33, 6:29/mi) @ Back Cove, total 8.4 mi
Th easy 6.1 mi at Community park
F 1 mi wu + 9 mi MP (6:38/mi - 4s fast!) - felt good
S 9.8 mi easy at Bradbury
S 16.1 easy on Woodville Rd. (7:38/mi)

Total 62.8 mi
Elevation profile of Sunday long run. Did inner Woodville loop clockwise then counterclockwise

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Does anyone at Garmin actually run?

In 4 years I've had three 205s and one 305.

1 One 205 loss was partially my fault. I read the spec "water resistant to 1 m" and interpreted that to mean that I could swim with it. At the surface. Using the breast stroke. I swam about 10 m (out to a canoe) and the watch took on water behind the glass plate. Garmin kindly replaced the watch but...

2 In discussion with the Garmin tech I was told that "water resistant to 1 m" means the watch should be able to handle being dropped in a puddle but that they recommend to customers to avoid running in the rain with the watch. Wait what? It's crazy enough to build a sports watch that's not resistant to 50 m (which Casio built soon after digital watches first appeared) but to build a running watch that shouldn't be used in the rain? WTF?

3 A second 205 loss occurred because sweat corrodes the little metal plates on the back of the watch. This is a well known issue and my solution is to swap out the Garmin strap with a strap that covers these. Still, bad move building a running watch that is destroyed by sweat.

4 Garmin again kindly replaced my watch and the new 205 lasted about one year before the batteries just died on me and the watch wouldn't start. I could have replaced the batteries but I wanted a HRM and the 305 was now at a reduced price so I purchased the 305. At one point I thought I had lost the 305 and borrowed James 405. I had read reports that runners had a hard time turning the bezel with sweaty hands. I had a hard time turning the bezel with dry hands before the run. And with sweaty hands it was impossible. Again, bad moving building a running watch that becomes afunctional with sweat.

5 This issue doesn't affect me but Polar and Suunto seem to be able to make a HRM that can be worn *and actually record HRs* during swimming.

6 This summer (and last) I've had increasing trouble with artificially high heart rate recordings. Not short spikes but extended bouts of HRs ranging from 170 to 220. My HR max is 175ish and the only time I'm ever over about 165 is hammering a steep hill. This is also a known issue but is only supposed to occur at the beginning of the run. I had these extended bouts throughout my 16 mile run today. I googled the problem looking for solutions. It seems the Garmin HR monitor is sensitive to the static in a shirt (although more people complain about this with the 310xt and not the 305). That cannot be the complete explanation because I have this issue when I don't wear a shirt. Garmin suggests that runners wear a cotton t-shirt, which has less static than a tech tee. WTF?

7 While I'm on my Garmin tirade, I'll add that I loved the old motionbased site. This site was built by what, 2 guys in their spare time? Garmin purchased the site and promised upgrades. Then a year went by. Then another. Then they dropped the project. Now I use RunningAhead, which is an awesome site developed by a single guy (I think).

Apparently the staff at Garmin can run in cotton tees because they neither sweat nor run in the rain.

I'm not hating on the watch. Indeed, I love the big face of the 205/305 with it's screen divided into 3 or 4 parts. I can easily read HR, average pace, and distance while running with sweat in my eyes. But I find it curious that the watch is not resistant to common running related phenomenon, like, uh, sweat, and, oh, rain, and, let's see, tech tees. Is it that no one at Garmin actually runs?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Pemi newbie

This was my first pemi loop run. It was my first mountain run over 18 miles. It was my first run of any kind over 19 miles. Jamie has a post describing our run and Ian has a post from last year with cool Google Earth images of the route. My feet and legs were thrashed last night but have no residual soreness today, just a little stiffness that lasts about 30s after getting up from sitting.

The scenery is stunning and its pretty cool to stand on the Bondcliff summit and view the whole loop. It doesn't seem doable (at least in one day). But it was. I do wish Maine/NH mountain trails were more runnable. Dancing on the edges of boulders is mentally challenging and exhausting. Plus, I just like to run faster than the rocks allow. I actually enjoyed the steeper climbs, such as Garfield. But I disliked the jarring of the steeper descents.

Some stats: Distance - 31.5 seems to be the consensus but my Garmin 305 gave me 29.4 (I turned it off at the two rest stops to save battery so had to merge the three segments and I missed about 1/4 mile of one segment). Time - 11.5 hours including all stops. Fluids - about 160-180 oz. water and one small cup of lemonade. Feeds - leftover pizza for breakfast at 3:30AM, nutrigrain bar, lots of honey roasted peanut/mm's/raisin mix, one blueberry crumb cake, one pb&j. By Liberty/Flume, I was in the mood for another sandwich and not trail mix. Gear. Camelbak snoblast. Not a great running pack but it had the room that I wanted for jacket, first aid, food. inov8 hat (thanks Ian!). Tifosi Tyrant glasses - These are photochromic but I had these up on the head for the 2nd 1/2 of the loop while in the trees because I was tired and really wanted to see where I was planting my feet. Socks - old Wright socks Lo. The holes were fine but the low cut allowed my shoe to bother (but not really aggravate) a previous blister on the heel. Running buddies - Jamie, Jim, Joe, David, Greg. Well matched and fun group!

postscript. Adding this for my own records. I could feel a little soreness following a 4 mile run Sunday evening. Yesterday I had an unplanned rest day because of stress over work-related stuff. Last night, I had a very minor ache (left foot) that may have been more mental than physical. I ran a nice 7 miler this morning with three fastish hill climbs and everything feels great. The 31+ miles has been (so far!) non-consequential on recovery and continued training.

Some pics:

Monday, August 9, 2010

Quad B part deux - Bradbury Mountain Breaker

My penalty loop. The little bump before mile five in the elevation profile was the off-course section.

Because of the many flaws in a 7 day/week, 365.4 days/year calendar system, the Beach to Beacon and Bradbury Mountain Breaker fell on the Saturday and Sunday of the same weekend this year, so several of us had to double up and run the B2B2BB or Quad B. The Beach to Beacon report is here.

The beautiful Maine summer weather we had Saturday continued into Sunday. It was a nice break from the record warm Spring and Summer we've been having (hottest March and April, second hottest May, June, and July).

This race was an important Trail Monster Running event because Acidotic Racing came out of the woodwork of the tarpaper shacks they inhabit in NH (anyone ever read "An Arsonist's Guide to Writer's Homes in New England"? It's bloody hilarious). Bragging and Beer were on the line.

I wasn't expecting a fast race because of my 10K the day before. But I felt surprisingly fresh and started passing people after a moderate-paced start. This included sailing past Chris Dunn, guru of acid-and-pothead racing. Dunn smoked me at Pineland 2009 and Exeter trail races, but was pwned at Pineland 2010 and Mt. Washington. James Demer was impatient with the pace and passed David Roberts and I on the rolling part of the Boundary Trail before it starts climbing. Demer is a fearless downhiller, so I was surprised that we caught back up to him near the bottom of the go-as-fast-as-you-dare South Ridge trail. I mostly ran the summit trail but walked the steepest bits, especially near the top. Peter Keeney was running the whole thing and passed me but at the top he was only a step ahead and my walk and his run were effectively the same pace. We also closed in on Adam Zukowski and Steve Wolfe at the top. Sweet. Just before the crest, I started running again, passed Keeney and took-off, feeling pretty good about my strategy. I seemed to have dropped Keeney, Demer, and Roberts and was now running in Wolfe's wake and he was unaware of me. Perfect. Wolfe is an Acid-robotic racer who smoked me at Pineland but I pwned him at Mt. Washington. So I had a strategy now. Stealthily stay in his wake until either the 2nd climb up the Summit Trail, or even the Northern Loop trail, then run as fast as I can and see if I can hold him off to the finish. Unfortunately, this strategy failed spectacularly for two reasons:

1) at the top of the Northern loop climb (the 2nd and much, much easier ascent of the summit), Dora yelled out something like "go Jeff". Very sweet of her but I was outed and easily noticed on the switchbacks. I noticed Wolfe pick up the pace - he's a wily racer, no doubt. So I needed to alter my strategy. Hang back and let him think he dropped me. He was running fast so running slower was an easy strategy!

2) I had the 2nd run through the Northern Loop all by myself. Wolfe and Zukowski were maybe 50 yards ahead and no-one was in sight behind me. I'm not sure what I was daydreaming about but at one point I noticed that I a) no longer saw Wolfe and Zukowski on the straighter sections and b) didn't recognize what trail I was on. b, at least, didn't surprise me since I rarely run these trails and hadn't run the Breaker course since last year. So I kept running. But the climb was getting steeper and I realized I was climbing the mountain again but I was hesitant to turn around. Then I reached orange flags crossing the trail I was on. Oops. I turned and ran back downhill and reached the Boundary Trail turnoff just as Phil Dirusso was making the right hand turn. How many people had passed me? I saw one runner in front. This turned out to be Bob Poirier. It took some time but I caught and passed Bob. I ran hard down the South Ridge trail. The second climb up the Summit Trail was much, much tougher. I walked much more of it. I took off on Tote Road but had no clue about my relative pace. No sight of anyone in front of me and no one was closing in on my behind. I tried to run hard up the last climb - It's a perfect grade for fast hill climbing. And I ran hard down the Terrace Trail. At the hairpin turn back onto Northern Loop - the final flat stretch to the finish - I met Keeney coming from the wrong direction, I guess he had taken a left at this turn (or more correctly, gone straight) and had turned around. I outraced him to the end and crossed in 1:13:32.

Shit, there's Dunn with a smirk on his face. Did he just finish? No, he finished 20s ahead. Demer and Roberts finished about 1:15 ahead. Bowdoin Nordic coach Nathan Alsobrook finished 2:41 ahead. Wolfe, Zukowski and TM Andy Kiburis finished about 4:15 ahead. Shit - had I lost 4:15? No, the good (or bad in this case) thing about wearing a Garmin is I can go into the file and look at the time stamp from when I left and re-entered the course. I only lost 2:45. So Wolfe/Zukowski dropped me by 1:30 over the last lap.

Acrid-despotic racing finished 1st in the team race and my 2:45 diversion wouldn't have made any difference (but would 4:15?). The team competition this running season has been great. Lots of Trail Monsters had great races - especially the many lady Trail Monsters. Ian and Ryan did another terrific job directing the race. Apres-race beer and food at Gritty's was most excellent. After two days of racing, the quads are in revolt today. Looking forward to the Bruiser.

Quad B part I - Beach to Beacon

Ok I'll admit it. I registered for the B2B for selfish reasons: I wanted to see how I stacked up against other runners from the area. My expected pace based on Mother's Day 5K was 37:19, which would be a big PR (which was 38:12). But the 5K was in May and I should be in better running fitness after a great summer of running. But...

I race only 1-2 10Ks per year and while I like the distance, I tend to get side-stitches at this distance. These are not the little niggling stitches but the kind that feels like a knife twisting in my abdominal wall. I have to stop and walk. This happened in my last raced B2B, where the side stitch kept me from my first sub 40.

My risk-averseness won the day - I'd rather have a great run and PR then a side-stitch and walking. The day was perfect for racing, cool temps (60F?) at the start and relatively dry. My 6ish/mi pace seemed easily maintainable; at least I never had the "racing is stupid, why am I doing this?" voice in my head. Still, I was tense about a side-stitch that usually occurs between mile 4 and 5 so I had to focus on my breathing. Felt great at mile 4, felt great at mile 5. But somewhere around the last hill before the downhill before Ft. Williams park entrance (maybe 1/2 mile left?), I got the stitch. Too bad, but I'm running through this one given less than 3 minutes left to race. I think that I had enough endogenous morphines flowing through my CNS that it was all quite bearable and I ran hard enough to pass quite a few people on the final climb after entering the park. Remarkably no one passed me toward the chute, despite my lack of anything resembling a kick. Crossed in 37.24.3 net time. 9th in age group (they didn't include the two Africans who were running as open runners).

Awesome. Except that I couldn't breathe. My diaphragm was spasming, just as it had at Mt. Washington. I find it interesting that when the diaphragm is in a spasm (the source of the side stitch), it is easier for me to breath while running then when stopped. Something about running helps to ventilate the lungs. This is well known in quadrupeds (like a dog or cheetah) but I wasn't aware of it in us.

My son Will ran it for the first time. He ran it as a fun, training run. We waited in the line for the bus back to Sprague field but the line was huge. We decided to run back to the car. A Cape policeman gave us the shortcut, which made the cool-down only 4.5 miles. This was a little more than I wanted, given the 9 mile Bradbury Mountain Breaker the next day.

Elevation Profile and Splits (my Garmin mapped my run as 6.25 miles).
Distance Time Total Time Pace
1 Mi 06:00.7 06:00.7 6:01
1 Mi 06:06.6 12:07.3 6:07
1 Mi 05:57.8 18:05.1 5:58
1 Mi 05:58.8 24:03.9 5:59
1 Mi 05:58.4 30:02.2 5:59
1 Mi 06:05.4 36:07.6 6:06
0.25 Mi 01:19.0 37:26.6 5:16