Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Red Queen

"Well, in our country," said Alice, still panting a little, "you'd generally get to somewhere else — if you run very fast for a long time, as we've been doing."
"A slow sort of country!" said the Queen. "Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!" [1]

While all the cool cats were slogging trail miles in MA, I pounded the Freeport roads at the Great Osprey 10K. It was a cool morning, some wind, but overall a beautiful day for a race. The front line was thin. My goal was very low 6:00s on the uphill miles, and very low 5:50s on the down hill miles. Mile one (uphill) was a perfect 6:01. After probably 1/2 mile, I found myself in 5th place. While the front pack was very thin, it still felt like a (spread out) pack since there's just not much cumulative spread in the first mile. I think running with everyone made the pace feel easy. Mile two (uphill) was 6:15. Ouch. By the mile one split, I was running alone and the pack feeling disappeared. Mile two felt hard especially for the pace. Mile three (downhill) was 6:02. This was supposed to be low 5:50s. There went my low 37s. Mile four (uphill) was 6:07. Somewhat soon after the mile 4 marker I caught 4th place. We ran together for all of mile 5. I started to pass him at least five times and each time he stayed just in front. I wasn't going to argue with his pulling me. At one point he did drop behind me for a bit, but then passed me back. Mile 5 (downhill) was 6:01. Finally, somewhere after the mile 5 marker, I passed him for good. Racing, and not just time-trialing, was fun, especially since I came out on top. Mile 6 (uphill) was 6:17. Ouch squared! Last 0.2 at 5:38 pace. 4th place. 2nd Master. About 3:30 behind than the 1st master. Ouch cubed!

Results were frustrating. 38:03. My goal was to go well under 37:30 and even reach for 37. I don't think I'm delusional. My workouts have been going very well, unlike last summer. My mileage has been dropping and I feel pretty fresh. I did an easier than normal workout Tuesday and some short snappy segments during my runs Thursday and Friday. I'm working harder but not getting faster. Apparently I haven't a clue how to train. Big taper, moderate taper, no taper? Doesn't matter. Pre-season, mid-season, late-season? Doesn't matter. I ran LL Bean in 38:06, 3 seconds slower. That was a hot, humid July day. And a hillier course. Both are USATF certified. And I hadn't even started, you know, race training like 5K-10K pace intervals. After stalking some race times this afternoon, I realized that the Osprey course is a lot slower than I had thought. The guy that I raced in mile 5 had been doing consistant 17:4x - 17:5x at Back Cove 5K during late summer and he torched me by by almost a minute at B2B - so at least I have that to cling to.

That's my penultimate race for 2012. I have NE XC champs in 2 weeks. Then I'm hanging up the shoes for a long winter's sleep. I've been training with my retrocalcaneal bursitis since March 6 and running on it since April 8. It really needs a rest.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Size matters

Ever since watching Floyd Lavery race sockless, I've always wondered how much the weight of socks matter to race performance. Haven't you? Today I read an article on the NYT blog (it's an old article) on the energetics of shod v. barefoot running and I didn't really care about the point of the article (barefoot is more expensive because we use active muscle to dampen contact forces which shoes do in shod running) but I zeroed in on the statement that an additional 100g of shoe adds about 1% VdotO2 to run at same speed. To determine how weight affects race performance I used an online running calculator that gave me the estimated VdotO2 for a given race performance. Here is what I found

10K time    VdotO2   %larger than VdotO2 @ 37 min 10K
37:00.0     52.26
36:55.0     52.4     0.27
36:50.0     52.55    0.55
36:45.0     52.69    0.82
36:40.0     52.84    1.11
36:35.0     52.99    1.40
36:30.0     53.14    1.68
36.25.0     53.29    1.97

I don't know if that's 100g in total shoe or per shoe. Let's say its total shoe. This means the difference in wearing say Asics Piranhas (122g) v. Saucony Kinvara (224g) is about 200g or 2% VdotO2 or about 35s over 10K assuming all else equal of course (like how much muscle work is being used to dampen impact forces). Thats about 1s/mile/oz/shoe. If its 1% per 100g per shoe then the difference would be only 17s. That's significant enough to me to wear Asics Piranhas (I do) or the Inov8 155s (I do that to). This doesn't mean I would advise you to wear Asics Piranhas or Inov8 155s  for a marathon because I'm guessing there would be variables other than weight (and having to do with dampening of impact forces) that would affect performance.

OK what about socks. Its hard to find the weight of socks but a pair of swiftwick aspire zeros weighs 23g for the pair. That's about an expected 0.23% difference in performance, or something just less than 5s according to the chart above. That's not very much and probably not worth the consideration. But then maybe you wear a heavier sock?

What about a pair of "performance enhancing compression socks"? I can't find how much these weigh. Plus the penalty in VdotO2 won't be exactly correct because lots of that weight is closer to the center of rotation. And then I'm not sure about the "everything else equal" assumption with compression socks since they are at least advertised to enhance performance because of the compression.

PS - well I just googled around and found the source. Confirms what I've written and fills in some unknowns as well.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Trail to Ale

Today was a perfectly stunning day to race. 36:57 10K PR. Greatly aided by 1) perfect racing weather, 2) net downhill, and 3) an uncertified course that was maybe a tad short : )?  It was also a cut-back week, so I was fresher than for the bruiser.

It was fun regrouping with Jeremy and Brett, at least for mile 1. Brett took off fast and quickly got a jump on Jeremy and me. About 3/4 mile in, a biggish group (maybe 10 runners, including Brett) with mixed abilities (from 35:30 to 37:30) was still together and I told Jeremy to not let that group get away. Jeremy quickly bridged the gap while I stayed in their wake. One gradual and one crazy downhill took us down to the Bayside trail and a 5:45 first mile. From there we ran to Tukey's bridge and did Back Cove clockwise. The big group slowly stretched out and I started to slowly reel in a few racers. Jeremy and Brett gained no extra space on me from mile 1 to maybe mile 4 or so. Somewhere between mile 4 or 5, Jeremy found another gear and started to stretch it out. I made essentially no progress on Brett until the climb to Tukey's bridge. From here I got within shooting distance. We turned onto the Eastern Prom Trail and I made a big push to catch and pass Brett at the top of the climb at the water treatment plant. We had about 1/2 mile left. Brett raced the Lobsterman Tri yesterday so I thought he was cooked. Actually, it was me who was cooked in pushing to catch Brett. I was in full gnu mode. Brett tucked in my wake for a few hundred meters than gunned it home with me hopelessly trying to keep up.

I won't take the PR too seriously since the course was not certified. But I'm happy with the result because I beat a few folks who torched me at B2B and that's what racing is really about. And even if the course was short, my watch-pace was 1s/mile faster than my PR pace from B2B in 2010.

A common site at road races the past 2 years - me 3-4s behind Brett

Monday, September 10, 2012

Bruiser Report

Perfect racing weather and conditions for a race like this. I jumped out at what I thought was a fast pace and traded pulling with Jeremy, James, and Brett Hellstedt through the first four miles. Just before bat cave I lost contact with that gang and that was it. Nice racing boys! If you want to read about real racing, read Jeremy's fantastic post. After I lost contact, I wasn't really racing anyone but thought I was running at my maximum sustainable pace. I was alone through bat cave, the remainder of Fox East, and the lower half of the snomo trail back to the top of the course but on the upper half of the snowmo trail, Gabe Flanders became visible in my rearview mirror. I found another gear (or maybe 1/2 gear) and kept him at bay until the O trail. At the O trail I let him by with the goal to have him pull me through faster than I could him. He drifted away very quickly but was always in sight, although it was impossible on that trail to figure out what the gap was. He finished 1:10 ahead of me. Wow. About 1/2 way through I became keenly aware that George and Morgan Laidlaw were in sight behind me and seemed to be catching up. They didn't but they closed the gap to about 35s.

So my O-trail was slow. Jeremy's statement that he entered the O-trail at 1:11:xx is just flogging a dead horse. I entered at 1:13:32 so at most I entered 2:20 back but finished the race 3:27 back so lost at least 1:17 to Jeremy in there. Clearly my O-trail running is slow, which maybe shouldn't surprise since I have zero acceleration skillz.

Here are my segment splits compared to 2010, the last time I raced the bruiser (and the O trail)

Segment2010 2012 Seg Diff % diff
start + Lanzo 0:02:57 0:03:04 0:00:07 3.95
Island 0:13:52 0:14:17 0:00:18 2.75
Ragan + Ginn West 0:24:58 0:25:48 0:00:25 3.75
Ginn East 0:36:28 0:37:50 0:00:32 4.64
Bat Cave 0:42:09 0:43:54 0:00:23 6.74
Fox East 0:47:16 0:49:25 0:00:24 7.82
Snomo 0:53:41 0:56:07 0:00:17 4.42
Ginn/Fox West 1:05:40 1:08:27 0:00:21 2.92
Uphill to O trail 1:10:45 1:13:32 0:00:00 0.00
O trail 1:32:13 1:35:55 0:00:55 4.27
Finish runout 1:33:01 1:36:34 0:00:09 -11.36

I'm very surprised that the first few segments were slower than 2010 because my watch was telling me these were faster. Never believe a gps watch on a twisty single track trail (note this criticism doesn't affect my segment times since these can be found very accurately on the map). My slowest segments were in the middle when I was racing all alone. Interesting.

It felt good to get out and do a long trail race. For many reasons, that was my first trail race of the season (I'm not counting the Pineland 10K). I'm happy with the effort, if not the results. That said, the race absolutely destroyed my foot (the retrocalcaneal bursitis that I've had since March).

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Cruisin' for a Bruisin'

Since the B2B, this has been my buildup for USATF NE XC championship race in November. Rolling 7 day average of 66 miles, which is a lot for me (>30% more than my summer mileage). This is all in singles and only 2 runs were logged as "long", so it's mostly 9-10 milers. My recovery days have been about 1 hour runs at a really slow pace. The red runs include segments from a little faster than MP (about 6:35) to a little slower than MP (about 7:00) or the equivalent effort if on trail (estimated by HR). Only one fast day in there and that was a 5K race. The goal is to keep up this mileage through October AND add 1 day per week of faster interval type work, which will probably be at Twin Brook on Wednesdays. Early interval stuff will be 5K-10K pace with long recoveries. Later intervals will start to target my 8K pace and the recoveries will get shorter as November approaches. That's the plan at least.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Am I slower or are summers hotter?

Fig. 1. I am getting slower! These are my 5K equivalent times for all races 5K to 10K distance over the last three years. For the 8K, 5M, and 10K times I used McMillan to estimate the 5K equivalent time. Day is simply number of days since a race in 2005, so you can see the 2010, 2011 and 2012 clusters. The correlation here is .65 Also notice that race times get worse through each season. You cannot tell this from the graph but my 2010 summer races were especially cool (at least B2B). This suggests...

Fig. 2 Dew Point matters! This is a pretty stunning, given all the other factors that can effect race performance including especially point in training cycle and freshness (no, mild, or full taper). The linear correlation is .81. I would expect the relationship to actually be quadratic (green line) as dew point should have little effect when low but dramatic effect when high. The quadratic component is not significant statistically but shouldn't be rejected using a model selection approach. This summer's B2B was super high dew point and I also ran a 5K in Florida. By contrast in 2010, my only 5K was in early spring and the B2B was beautifully cool and dry. This suggests...

Fig 3. GLOBAL WARMING!!!! Not really, but this is even more stunning because this very high correlation (.77) is completely coincidental. I happened to run early spring races in 2010 and 2011 and summer race days were mild in 2010, hot in 2011 and even hotter in 2012. This suggests that maybe my slowdown (Fig. 1) is only apparent and that actually what is happening is that I've been simply racing in hotter weather. This suggests...

Fig. 4. I'm not slowing! The Y axis is my 5K equivalent times corrected for dew point. That is, I used the residuals of the Times v. Dew Point regression and plotted these against Day. Voila! To verify this, I used a simple multiple regression with Dew Point (and DP^2) and Day in the model. Day explains very, very little variation above and beyond Dew Point.

Conclusion: What appears like a very clear slow down over the past 3 year is really due to the differences in the timing of my races between 2010, 2011, and 2012 AND warmer, more humid 2011 and especially 2012 compared to 2010. Sadly though, I'm not getting faster either. 

file under: how to lie with statistics

Sunday, July 29, 2012

B2B training & Baldface

In May I was 100% convinced that I would not be writing this post because of writing off 2012 racing due to my RCB. Perhaps paradoxically this led to my decision to jump into the Pineland 10K for fun since any damage from the race wouldn't matter. While that race completely sucked, it did give me confidence that I could train a little harder without aggravating my RCB to an unrunnable state. I set a pretty conservative goal - a workout (interval, tempo, or long run) every 4 days or so instead of the more typical every-other day. My intervals and tempos have also been conservative - My tempos have been at something between MP and 1/2MP while my intervals have been 1/3 - 1/2 mile hill repeats at a hard effort. No track work. Only one Daniel's 20 minute tempo at 15K pace. I also entered a few road races and counted these as workouts. In the end, I'm extremely happy with my buildup for B2B considering that I thought I would still be running 10 min/mile trail runs at this point.

I was hoping to get a few solid 60 mile weeks in but that didn't happen. Here is my mileage compared to the last two years.

I'm averaging just shy of 50 mpw, which is the same mileage as 2010 when I set my 10K PR and 5 miles/week less than last year. Not really high mileage for my time goals but I cannot seem to find the mojo to train more. I do feel like I'm only a bit short of 2010 fitness but the early forecast for B2B is high humidity (dew point of 66F) so I'm expecting a slogfest like 2011 instead of a PR day like 2010.

Today I celebrated my buildup with a sweet Baldface Loop with Don, Tom Hoag, and Susannah. We had cool temps but 100% humidity, which meant wet rocks and bodies. I went at a steady-moderate pace (about 53 min) to the first false summit (at the top of the ledges below South Baldface) but took it easy after that. We descended the Bicknell trail which has very spectacular views of the cirque and loop. Then we took the Eagle Cascade link over to the Baldface Circle trail. The link trail was through really, really beautiful forest. Emerald Pool was the perrrrrrrrfect temperature. My total run was about .4 miles long because I did a down and back from the false summit to allow the others to catch up : ). After the run we stopped at the Stow Corner Store, which was recommended by Ian and Emma. I had a large slice of pizza and gIANt cinnamon roll topped with a secret recipe crumble and whipped cream.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

racing, heat, humidity, sun energy

In preparation for the B2B next week, I've looked a little more into climate factors that affect pace. A very nice explanation of humidity and dew point is here. Dew point is the better guide to comfort level. Kristin Barry sums it up with this chart:

50–54Very comfortable PR conditions
55–59ComfortableHard efforts likely not affected
60–64Uncomfortable for some peopleExpect race times to be slower than in optimal conditions
65–69Uncomfortable for most peopleEasy training runs might feel OK but difficult to race well or do hard efforts
70–74Very humid and uncomfortableExpect pace to suffer greatly
75 or greaterExtremely oppressiveSkip it or dramatically alter goal
I've roughly estimated the mid-point T and dew point for my summer races for the past 3 years using the climate history data at weather underground.

Year Race                          T    Dew Point   Result
2012 Bridge of Lions (Florida)     78F     73F    18:32
2012 LL Bean 10K                   66      63     38:06
2012 Fathers Day 5K                61      48     18:12
2011 B2B 10K                       68      64     38:00
2011 LL Bean 10K                   65      65     38:30
2011 Mothers Day 5K                58      49     17:52 PR
2011 Clam Festival 5Mile           70      58     30:0x PR
2010 B2B 10K                       58      48     37:24 PR

I also think the directness of the sun matters (so the sun temp and not shade temp) since most of these races are run in direct sun and not shade but I don't have any historical record of sun temp.

What amazes me is the actual temperature of the maine races is generally very cool but comparing the dew temp with the chart shows that some of the races will suffer, such as both LL Bean's and the 2011 B2B. B2B 2010 was really perfect. And againmale runners over 35 y.o. and in top 400 who competed in 2010 and 2011 were, on average, exactly 1.0 minute slower in 2011 than 2010 (N=61).  In this light, I guess my Bridge of Lions 5K isn't too bad but it's really hard to compare since that is my only race in that kind of temp/dew point.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Florida Five

My speedwork for this week was the Bridge of Lions 5K in St. Augustine Fl. My goal for the race was to go out a little slower than 18 min. pace and see if I could hang on in the heat and humidity and maybe even break 18. My first mile was 5:50, so right on target. And I was feeling shockingly good. Mile two was 5:49. Now I started to think about breaking 18 with a fast 3rd mile. I had started to feel a little pain a little after the 1/2way mark, which is pretty typical in a 5K for me. By mile 2 I was still ok. Finished mile 3 in 5:53. Hmm - definitely a slow down there and not a speed up but still looking at very low 18s. I crossed the finish line in 18:32 - so a good 20-25s slower than where I thought I was. What happened? Did I walk the last .1 mile? What happened was a major mismatch between my watch and the official distance, which is USATF certified. My final pace according to my watch was 5:50 but my pace according to a 5K distance was 5:58, an 8 sec/mile difference (the race results say 5:59 pace). My watch has never been more than 2s/mile off on a road race. Maybe I failed to run tangents although I was thinking about these. Look at the course:

That's a lot of turns. I gmap-pedometered the course using the automatic route finder and got 3.21 miles. I then did the manual gmap pedometer making sure to mark the tangents and got 3.15 miles. This all points to the importance of tangents on a turny course. Ah well. It's a race and we all ran the same course. I finished 14th T13th overall (thanks mom for noticing this) and 2nd master.

The course itself is ok. It starts at the very cool fort (the Castillo de San Marcos), crosses the Bridge of Lions, and then turns into the old Davis Shores neighborhood, which is a nice old neighborhood. The turns in the neighborhood are a bit excessive. And running a race in Florida in the summer is kinda stupid. Other than that, it was quite nice and I'll run it again if I happend to visit the padres in mid-July again.

Which reminds me, I'm in St. Augustine visiting my parents and sisters and their familias. My parents moved to St. Augustine Beach after my dad retired from UF in Gainesville. Here are my other runs from the week. No hill repeats this week!

All on the beach except my 14 mile concrete sidewalk run on Sunday.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

LL Bean 10K

LL Bean in 38:06 this morning in cool but very humid weather. Race analysis paralysis to follow.

  • The Good - won my AG
  • The Bad - as Ryan noted, my AG is certainly less competitive TO WIN then either M40-44 or M50-54
  • The Bad - My 5K conversion time was 8s slower than FD5K last month and my FD5K was 22s slower than my 2011 MD5K on the same course
  • The Good - I was 25s faster than last year's LL Bean 10K.
  • The Bad - I ran this race last year at the end of a 60 mile week. This year was a 50 mile week with a rest day 2 days before the race.  The weather this year was maybe slightly cooler and slightly less humid (last year's humidity was about 150%)
  • The Good - I have done zero running faster than 1/2MP since last October?November? other than FD5K and the 1st half of the Pineland 10K.

I'm happy with the result because 1) I'm focussing on the 25s faster than last year's race AND 2) the fact that I really haven't taken my workouts down to even 10K pace AND 3) I raced so poorly last summer/fall so I need to be happy about something 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Mount W and FD5K: Not your doctor's management plan

I had been planning on running up Mount Washington since March 18, which was when I heard that I failed to make it through the lottery for the road race. I was excited to both 1) get in my first mountain run of the season (I'm not counting Pack Monadnock) and 2) watch the elite racers take on the wall at the finish of the race. Despite the absolute fantastic forecast and the chance to watch the badass mountain elites, and the opportunity to get in what I would think would be a badass double weekend that should be the bread-and-butter for Big Brad/Vermont 100 training, I got a lot of negatory responses from TMR. But Susannah Beck took the bait and we had a great climb in gorgeous weather. The goal was to simply get in some strength training, not twist an ankle, and not challenge the O2 delivery system, so we maintained a very reasonable running pace and even walked some of the steeper sections. Once we turned onto Lion's head, it was almost all walking. Above the treeline, we briefly chatted with Jamie and Kate, who were also hiking to watch the race. The last little push to the top (rock hoppin' the boulder field) required a surprisingly high effort given that we were walking but I guess the trail is kind of steep in that section! We reached the summit sign in 95 minutes and in one piece.

We stayed at the summit for about 1 hour and then took the Tuckerman Ravine trail down. I had never been in the ravine so was eager to see it despite the looooooong train of hikers ascending. This made for slow progress. Once we passed ho-jos we did a very ez jog down the ski trail. At one point I turned around to look for Susannah and noticed two guys running down at a moderate pace and figured they had also run up to watch the race. But it was Sage Canaday (1st place) and Max King (8th place) - not who I was expecting to see running down the trail (wasn't there an awards ceremony at the base of the auto road?). We also ran into Chuck and Katy heading up! Our time down was about 2 hours and our pace on the ski trail was about the same as that climbing it! My left retrocalaneal bursitis and my right achilles felt surprisingly good until we spent 5 minutes soaking our feet in the very cold river and THEN starting jogging again. Running on the frozen tendons was NOT what the doctor ordered.

I had also been planning on racing the Sea Dogs Father's Day 5K since I signed up for the MD5K back in February. I bailed on the MD5K due to injury. I still have the same injury but I've either grown in wisdom (that I can race on it) or thrown wisdom out the window. I also decided to race in my asics piranahs, which are about the sweetest, reasonably durable racing flats out there (< 5 oz). The low heel drop (4 mm) and fast pace would put a strain on my L and R achilles that they hadn't seen in 9 months. The race went well enough, I guess I thought a 18:15 was on the table but given my complete lack of fast training (other than last week my fastest training pace was about 7:20 - last week I dropped this to 6:40). I ran 18:12 so I'm pretty happy with that. I even outkicked some guy in the last 100 m. Following the race I did a 4 mile cool down, also in the Piranahs despite having brought wu/cd shoes.

Mountain runs and 5Ks in low-heal racers are not the conventional prescription for calf/achilles/RCB issues. I'm going to take this weekend as a green light that I can bump up my running and maybe even train to race and not just run slow in the woods.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Pack Monadnock

My annual fishing trip was rained out so I decided to go run a small mountain instead, the Pack Monadnock, which is #3 in the USATF mountain running series (meaning many of the big dogs were out to play). I stayed with a friend in Concord NH the night before, which may have been a mistake because I was up late (for me) and had lots of beer (for me), which meant I had  3.5 12 oz beers and was in bed by midnight.

The Course
The race is point-2-point and despite the elevation profile, is quite rolling with short climbs and descents and a net gain of around 670 feet over the first 7 miles. The first mile climbed 260' in a 3/4 mile stretch. That's a good way to start a race! The 8th mile (still not on the mountain) climbs another 190 feet. The first 8 miles averages 197 feet of elevation gain per mile, which is slightly more than, say, climbing Mountain Rd in Falmouth (about 180'/mile). This is hilly for a road race but certainly not a mountain run. The Mid-Winter Classic 10 miler averages 70' per mile elevation gain, so is super flat by comparison. The first 7 miles really did roll; the number of descents surprised me enough that I wasn't actually sure that we had done any net climb by mile 7 (obviously my "feel" was way off).

At 7.9 miles the course turns onto route 101 and there is a good climb (6-8% grade) to the park entrance. At 8.7 miles you enter the park and actually start the mountain climb. The race web site advertised grades like Mt. Washington and it didn't disappoint. The first 1/2 mile of road is about 12-14% grade continuous. This is harder than Mt. Washington. The second 1/2 mile is back to about 6-8% and makes you feel like running, if you still have gas in the tank. The last 1/3 mile  starts with a Mount Washington grade but then turns onto a loooooong wall of  >20%. The wall is maybe 200 meters, which is much longer than the final wall on Mt. Washington and just as steep. It's sick.

Grade over the last 2.1 miles (from the turn onto Rt. 101 to the finish). The park rd. begins at mile 8.7. Individual points for the grade were averaged over 11 gps points (taken every 3 seconds) so even the red line is smoothed. The error is in the location of the GPS point which on a steep hill can create lots of noise.

My Race
I'll be brief. My goal was 1:18 which seemed conservative but given my 10K last week maybe even this was optimistic. I was very conservative on the first mile (which was again very uphill) and lots of people passed me. I passed a few people after mile 1 but then settled into a long lonely race where I ran alone, wasn't passed by anyone, and took about 6 miles to close the 50 meter gap with the two guys in front of me. Once I caught them I dropped them quickly and slowly closed the gap with another pack of about 5. I passed this entire pack on the Rt. 101 section between mile 8 and the park entrance (mile 8.7). On the park road, I passed about 4-5 more runners, and again, wasn't passed by anyone from behind. Finish time was 1:17:55 for 38th out of 201 runners. Wow, nailed the goal which is good, but not great since it was a conservative goal.

My Achilles
About 10 days ago I started to lean toward the source of pain being retrocalcaneal bursitis rather than insertional achilles. I based this conclusion on the ability to cause pain when I poked my heel with the achilles flaccid but not when tensed (hence the pain would seem to be deep to the tendon unless a tense tendon isn't painful for some reason). In response, I started myself on an NSAID treatment, which is usually something that I avoid (again tendon injuries aren't typically inflammation but tears).

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

My Garmin premium softstrap HRM sux

My average HR for the mile segment of the Pineland 25K from the River Loop, through the field to the base of the Campus loop (location of the Pony aid station) yesterday was 173. This is about my HR max. I was running easy. My average HR over the 2nd mile of my run today was 77. This is the rate of a slow walk but again I was running easy on roller coaster singletrack. Apparently my "ez run HR" ranges between 77 to 173.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Pineland Double

Racing, or Fun?

I decided to double this weekend. My flow of thought went something like this. "I have no goal races this year. I'm running the 25K easy with friends. Jamie and Ryan and Scott jumped into the 10K. I want to race them. Jumping in the 10K can't keep me from racing any goal race since I don't have one. ergo - I'm going to jump into the 10K too." So my goal was to race the 10K and hope that I didn't aggravate my achilles enough to not run the 25K. I thought this would be about a 25% chance of making it to the 25K.

At the start of the 10K I decided that I was going to go for it. My only clues to my fitness level were that I couldn't keep a 25K race pace for more than about 2 miles 4 weeks ago and I couldn't keep a 5K track pace for more than about 1200 meters 2 weeks ago. Those are pretty big red flags, but I ignored them. Instead I went out at the pace that I should have gone out...last year. Jamie and Scott kept up, indeed for much of the first 1-2 miles we leap frogged each other. I think Ryan fell back pretty early. About the 2 mile mark, with more net downhill to go, I started feeling like the pace wasn't really sustainable but still felt surprisingly fit. By 3 miles I was toast and just like toast, nothing could untoast me. Not drinking at the aid stations, which I did. Not walking, which I did. Scott was long gone and had a good race on a hot day. Jamie and I continued to leap frog each other or it was more like reverse leap frog because Jamie was bogging down due to the heat. Somewhere around mile 4, I slowed enough that Jamie passed me for good and I had zero will to get dragged. I nearly DNFed at every trail junction that led to a shorter path to the finish but I kept hearing Ian's voice of rebuke in my head. So I kept running at a pace that was only slightly less than extremely painful and over a minute per mile slower than the same sections of my race last year, in which I was doing the 25K! Here are the splits for 5 of the common miles of both races (the first two are downhill while the last 2 are uphill):

2012 10K     2011 25K
  6:06         6:26
  6:37         6:28
  7:47         6:55
  8:26         7:23
  8:42         7:27

My foot felt little worse for the wear Sunday morning and I registered for the 25K. I did zero warm-up, as I wasn't racing, but this meant that I hadn't a clue how my foot would feel until I started running. I had decided about a week ago to run this at a 9 min pace with Mike Pratico and Paul Green. We were joined by Sam Kane, who skied for James and I on the FHS nordic team, and Pat Connolly, who is the dad of another skier on the team (Mike and I are also, of course, dads of FHS skiers). I was the pacer. The 9 minute pace proved too hard, especially on the downhill sections. We maintained a pace around 8:45 throughout, something closer to 830s on the downhill miles and 9s on the uphill miles. Our official pace was 8:48 but I kept my watch going while I ran around the Yurt aid station 3.5X while Paul was taking a bio-break. We lost Sam and Pat about 1/2way but they didn't finish too far behind us. We picked up a couple of extras in Oak Hill and paced them in. My foot felt mostly great the whole way - only slights twinges here and there. Weird. Almost makes me want to train for something.

Monday, May 21, 2012

at least I'm running

I was hoping this would be my first of a string of 60+ MPWs. But Thursday I started an ez road/trail run but had immediate and fairly substantial (4/10) achilles pain. Where had that come from? I turned around. Friday I planned to run but was swamped with grading and didn't run. So much for 60s. Wednesday was discouraging and really drove home the dichotomous choice I face - train to race and endure the pain or just have fun running and don't race at all.

Something to think about: I've been doing weekly 70-75 minute runs at my top aerobic pace (about 81-82% HRMax). These seem unusually hard - not like a tempo run but a rate that would be hard to sustain for, say, a marathon. Yet its 10-14 beats/sec lower than my HR during the Maine Marathon training runs. So why does it "feel" hard? My average marathon HR was closer to 17-18 beats/sec more. Could I sustain that now? It's easy to think of pace as waxing and waning but this comparative HR data baffles me, especially since its not like I've taken any time of from general aerobic work. I would have thought that 82% was easily sustainable its just that as I get fitter, the pace at 82% gets faster. So I can understand somewhat the variation in the ability to maintain pace at a specific HR (or VO2 percent) level. Regardless, I suspect this feeling is a consequence of the reaaaaaaalllllllly long time since I've done any regular tempo work or fast hill repeats and of course anything resembling 3K-5K track work hasn't been done since last summer.

Total Hours: 6:58:47
Total Distance: 45.9 mi.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Way back

Just like my west trip in 1976 to the Wyoming and Colorado. After experimenting with what does and does not aggravate the achilles, I've narrowed it down to running fast and yard work (pushing a wheel barrow or lawnmower). While the little fast running I've done in the last couple of weeks has only minorly aggravated the achilles, I'm a little worried about any kind of systemic ramp up to real training so, being risk averse, I've decided to not run intervals, TNR sprints, strides, fartleks, and sadly, races. I backed out of MD5K. I am going to jog Pineland 25K. In mid-June I'll re-assess.

Time: 8:35
Distance: 57.7

M East Branch trail
T TMR TNR @ Twin Brook
W HR test on track
R Twin Brook
F Back Cove/East End Beach
S Pineland 
S Community Park/Hadlock loop

          M     T     W     R     F     S      S
Sched Min 45    90    60    90    45    120    90
Sched HR  L0-1  L3-4  TT    L1-2  L1    L3-4   L1
Time (H:M)0:55  0:47  1:04  1:32  1:01  1:51   1:24
AHR       131   132         136   134   144   125
HR %      74    75          77    76    82    71
Miles     5.6   5.5   7.9   10.5  7.2   13     8

Sunday, May 6, 2012


One of the first pieces of advice that I read on insertional achilles is to cut a slit or a V into the heel counter of your running shoe. In fact, I've seen advice to do this prophylactically. I chose not to cut any of my new running shoes but I switched immediately to the Nike Frees (1st edition), which have a very soft, flexible heel counter, for my everyday shoe. After failure to find any pattern in what does and does not aggravate the achilles, I decided to cut a slit into my NB790s for my 10 mile run at Pineland yesterday. My feet felt great when I got home but I put on a pair of Wellies (rubber boots) to do some yard work and hadn't walked 50 yards before my achilles was screaming. I had worn these only a few days before with no pain so clearly there was a run X boot interaction. I switched into my slit running shoes to do yard work but the damage was done, my achilles was sore all evening. Today I woke up with zero achilles pain and ran 110 minutes in the same slit NB790s. Again, everything felt great. I then slit a pair of old NB 901 road shoes for yard work. OMFG, the 901s are considered a lightweight trainer but the heel counter was more earthquake proof than a tokyo skyscraper. It took quite the surgery to cut out a V (a simple slit wouldn't have done anything with the plastic stability plate in there). Regardless, it worked and my achilles feels fine. I'm a little hesitant to slit my new inov8 195s so I'll probably just run in old shoes for a while; hopefully not all season.

I've finished week two of easy running - no tempos, MP, intervals, fartleks, sprints, etc, although I did do strides at Twin Brook on Tuesday. And I did 4 x 800m hill repeats at 127, 132, 137, 142HR (all still very far inside my aerobic zone - less than 80% HRmax). I'm planning on running MD5K Sunday and I suspect my achilles will not be happy about that. And I suspect the 25K at Pineland will be even worse.

Total Time: 8:27
Total Miles: 55.9

M  Passive Recovery
T easy 1:10 (8 mi)TMR TNR @TB
W easy 1:32 (9.3 mi), Presumpscot River Westbrook
R Fast-easy 1:15 (9.7 mi), Back Cove/East End trail
F 4 x 800 slow to fast easy hill repeats 1:08 (7.7 mi), Brook Rd/Halls Hill
S  easy 1:33 (10.5), Pineland
S easy 1:48 (10.8), Presumpscot River Westbrook

            M     T        W        R      F       S        S
Plan (min)  45    75       90       75     60      120      90
Plan (HR)   L1    L3-4     L1-2     L4     L1-2    L3-4     L1-2
Time (min)        70       92       75     68      94       108
Miles             8        9.3      9.7    7.7     10.5     10.8
AHR               133      127      139    128     133      126
HR %              76       72       79     73      76       72

Thursday, May 3, 2012

dialing it back

I dialed back my spring training plan from a typical late phase race plan to an early phase base-building plan. I've decided to follow Hadd's method from the looooooooong LRC thread. Not sure at this point how high I'll get my mileage because 1) going forward, I will be running lots of slow singletrack, where it takes me 25 minutes longer to run 10 miles and 2) I'm afraid of doubles given the pain in my 2nd run of the day two days ago. Upper 50s should be easy enough but I'd like to see what I could do off of more mileage than that and I've never really been successful at consistently getting above high 50s.

The insertional achilles is frustrating to figure out. Some runs I never notice it, most I notice it in the first 1/2 mile and maybe the last bit if its a run > 1 hour. More perplexing is soreness* between runs. I ran 90 minutes Sunday on Falmouth singletrack and had zero soreness during or after. Monday was a rest day. Tuesday was an easy run at Twin Brook. Yesterday I ran 90 minutes on Falmouth singletrack and my foot was sore last night into this morning. Was it the rest day? Was it running 80m strides at Twin Brook (no sprints this week!).

*Soreness is level 1-2 on a 10 point scale, so the soreness is very, very, minor

Total Hours last week: 7:38
Total Miles last week: 53.1

M 27 min / 3.4 mi (77% HRmax) Brook Rd + 3 x 12s hill sprints
T 66 min / 7.8 mi (79% HRmax) TMR TNR @ TB, incl 4 x long sprints + 4 strides
W 67 min / 8.1 mi (76% HRmax) Falmouth road loop
R 74 min / 9.8 mi (81% HR max) Back Cove/East End Beach
F 62 min / 7 mi (72% HR max) Brook Rd
S 65 min / 7 mi (76% HR max) Pineland
S 96 min / 10 mi (76% HR max) East Branch/Community Park

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Neither epiphany nor style

M - passive recovery
T AM: 5.2 level 3 on track (HR test) PM: 5.8 level 2 @ Twin Brook
W 7.2 level 1 @ River Point
Th 7.5 level 1 @ Back Cove
F 6.1 level 1-2 @ Leighton Hill
S 12 level 2-4 @ Pineland (2.5 mi @ race pace)
S 6.8 level 1 @ Hadlock

Total: 50.5 mi / 7:22 time

What I learned: the 2nd run of the double really really hurt (achilles) for about 1 mile. The 2.5 mile at race pace on Saturday was well short of what I was hoping (5-7 miles). This was very humbling.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

active recovery

Started running this week because I was bored not running. Not so much bored with roller skiing.

M 3.5 miles @ 8:36/mi, Back Cove
T 5.7 miles @ 8:15/mi, Twin Brook
W 6 miles @ 9:02/mi, River Point
Th 5.8 miles @ 7:50/mi, Back Cove
F 7.8 miles @ 8:44/mi, Pineland + 48 minute roller-ski (two good climbs)
S rest
S 9.8 miles @ 10:03/mi, Hadlock

6:30 total training hours

Beginning of week I had mild (1-2/10) soreness at about 1/2 mile in but zero after that and zero between runs. End of the week I had zero soreness during runs but mild (1/10) between runs. The Twin Brook, River Point, Pineland, and Hadlock trails all contain short steep hills which didn't seem to particularly aggravate anything. The no-pole climb on roller skis at Pineland definitely aggravated the achilles (pain 2/10).

My training hours were light last week and normal this week but I was hoping to ramp it up this season and maintain 9-10 hours per week and see what that does for me (other than give me achilles injury).

Monday, April 9, 2012

State of the Union (between my achilles and heel)

Running injuries are a balance between running and recovery. This is as true for returning from injury as it is for creating injury. Old school injury management was RICE - rest, ice, compression, elevation, and of course vitamin I. Lots of anecdote and some real data suggest that tendon/ligament injuries recover faster with continued running, to encourage proper blood flow and inflammation, and of course, no vitamin I (again, inflammation promotes repair). Given all the panic stories about achilles tendonosis, I followed the old school management school for the past 4 weeks, sort of. I continued to train, but on roller skis.

I've decided to transition back into running, for no other reason than I want to. I did a 3 x 2/3 mi jog yesterday with 1/3 mi walk breaks. Pain was 0/10. Pain last night was 0/10. Pain this morning was 0/10. This afternoon, I was going to do something similar but a 2/10 achilles pain began within about 1/4 mile. I then decided that walking would be fruitless. So I decided to run 1 loop of back cove, easy, but without walk breaks. After maybe 1.5 miles, the pain settled down to maybe 1/10. There were hints of it disappearing all together, but these were short lived.

Now its 3 hours later and I have 1-2/10 pain simply walking around. Do I go back to old school and not run, or do I have faith in the new school and run (ez) through it? With the exception of my metatarsal stress fracture, I've largely run through my injuries, with at most a few days off. This includes multiple bouts of minor plantar fascitis, calf strain, achilles weirdness, posterior tibial tendonosis, "piriformis syndrome" (both sides but at different times), and osteitis pubis. But these running injuries didn't really hurt while running although the OP hurt to cough or sneeze and the piriformis hurts to sit. Running through the injuries has taken a variable amount of time. The OP took 2 whole seasons. The left piriformis too 2 whole seasons (that is, the injury lasted through ski season despite effectively not running for 2-3 months).

I can't say I'm very optimistic about my achilles. First, it's a weird location. While running, it feels like plantar fascitis, but I'm fairly convinced its insertional achilles tendonosis/itis, that is where the achilles joins the heel bone. I don't look forward to running with this all season, or simply dealing with it walking around. But, I'm an experiment of one and I'm impatient to run. So inflame on!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Breaking the 4 minute mile and other good news

Good news from the stress echocardiogram on achilles pain! I also learned that I had no long QT interval while my heart was working at about 93% max HR and the cardiologist gave it a clean bill of health.

Things I've learned wearing my HRM while roller skiing the last two weeks

1. my HR is very low (<130, or very ez run rate) when I'm skating without poles but raises about 10-15 bpm when I V2 (poling with each skate push). Indeed, when I'm V2ing, my HR is often near 140 and its hard to have a really easy HR (say 135 or below). Here is a video of a V2.

2. My HR while skiing is not a good indicator of my effort level, at least if I compare to my running HR. Today I did a 3 x ~9-10 minute cruise intervals. The first two I did just skating (no pole). My average HR was 145 on the first (downwind) and 151 on the second (stiff headwind). My max HR was 157 and 159. I was rolling as fast as I could go (without poles) yet my max HR was about the average for something like Pineland 25K or the Maine Marathon. The last interval I did with poles and it was, again, down wind and my avg HR was 153 and my max was 164. That's about my max HR during the Maine Marathon or Pineland 25K, but again, I was rolling as fast as I could, this time with poles.

My fastest mile (the 2nd mile of the 3rd cruise interval) was 3:52.91. This was a rolling net descent of about 85-90 feet (1.7% grade) and down wind. This is also 15 mph. Elite skiers AVERAGE 15 mph over 50K. Helige schiesse! That is wicked awesome power and wicked stunning balance (and wicked high cadence with the poling as well).

This all sheds some light on why I suck so much at ski racing: 1) I simply don't have enough leg strength to generate the power to ski faster (that is my heart is overdeveloped for my skiing power) and 2) I don't have the balance to pole during really high speed skiing. This is harder on roller skis of course (where a mistake hurts more). I can run as fast as Moses Mosop's marathon pace, at least for a very short distance. But I cannot ski as fast as Petter Northug's 50K pace, no matter how short the distance.

(I also learned that skating really hard stressed my achilles a bit much)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

sell out

I got about 3 miles into my roller ski today and thought "what the hell am I doing this for?" So I WALKED back to the car, drove home, and put my roller skis AND snow skis AND new inov8 shoes that I just bought (and haven't worn yet because of the achilles) on Craigslist. I then put this boytoy down on my cc:

my new indoor recreational toy

I am paying for one day delivery so I can watch the BIG DANCE tomorrow night. I also bought a six pack of PBR and I'm on my 6th now.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Rolling in LSD

All my training now is on roller skis as I recover from my achilles injury. I'm not exactly sure what the injury is now that the pain is confined to a small point on the back of the heel - could be insertional achilles tendonosis or it could be retrocalcaneal bursitis. I don't really care as its not worth spending tax dollars to scan my foot 1000 ways to ultimately tell me to rest, etc.

And because of my syncope episode on snow skis last week, all of my training is long slow distance. The heart thing motivated me to replace my HRM to insure that I'm not stressing my heart too much. I'm not - even my fast rolls are at an average HR of 129 with a max in the upper 140s, which is about 85% MHR. I'm eager to do some tempo rolls and get the HR a little higher and my training more in line for racing. But the cardiologist discouraged that - he's concerned about my long QT interval. Looking into the literature, I should be concerned too. Except that I have no family history of this and it's really a genetic long QT interval that seems to be the concern. Still waiting for a stress test, which is next week...

My HR has jumped because of a few near-fall episodes. The first was last week when I was paying more attention to a car behind me than the road ahead of me and my right pole went into a storm drain. Deep into it. I nearly did a front flip. I had to run with my roller skis to keep from falling and somehow I managed to stay upright. I looked a bit like the picture above but on roller skis. And in shorts.

Then yesterday I had my left ski buckle (roll) at the ankle thrice, twice while I was rolling fast downhill (the other time will climbing a steep hill). I've been working on my balance and trying to actively skate these fast downhills instead of just rolling and I think if the ski is angled just a little to far sideways the friction on the tires is greater than my brain expects and I get the buckle (ankle roll). But why the same phenomenon on the uphill? And why only the left leg? I thought maybe that the first event weakened my boot since this had never happened to me and once it happened yesterday it happened twice more. But my left boot doesn't appear to be any weaker when I just roll my ankles in. Anyway, I didn't fall on any of these but if it keeps happening I'm in for a nasty wipeout.

Weekly training since stopping running (all LSD)
3 weeks ago - 53.7 miles - over the last 4 days (last run was on Tues)
2 weeks ago - 20 miles (roller ski + ski) - took time off to let achilles recover from long roll previous week
1 week ago - 77.1 miles - achilles not aggravated even on the long rolls

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Elite marathoners have wheels

So my EKG was normal (or actually I have a borderline long QT interval for what its worth and I have clinical bradycardia but he gave me a pass since I do the running/skiing thing). I was given the greenlight to train lightly until my full cardio workup next tuesday. I did a sweet 15 mile roller ski today in 90 minutes, so that's averaging 5:54/mile, which is about 15 s/mile faster than my faster skis. It was a pretty ez ski although I wish that I'd had a HR monitor to compare with running. I've been working on really leaning forward at the ankles and getting my hips forward and maybe this increased my speed some or maybe I just was excited by the beautiful weather. I definitely had to remind myself to slow down on the short climbs and I got a little perky on the trip back downhill to the car. Still, today just seemed fast. 5:54/mile.

This got me thinking about comparing running paces. 5:54 is about my 8K/5M race pace but it certainly seemed faster than I could run. This led me to think about elite marathoners who are cranking out 4:45 miles. Holy shit. I did one mile under 5 minutes (4:57.67) and it was downhill and I was on wheels! I think those guys must be on wheels too.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Postscript to passing out

I had written this as a postscript to my description of passing out but thought I'd give it its own post as a public service announcement:

Postscript - I had pretty much figured out the physiology of passing out after stopping after climbing the hill but I did some google scholaring to fill in a few blanks and quickly discovered that it is imperative that I go see the doctor to take a battery of tests to rule out a long laundry list of (mostly heart) issues. It is very, very likely to be entirely benign. 

so I passed out skiing sugarloaf today

At the top of the climb at mile 3 in the pic above. Seriously! I reached the top, which is the intersection just past mile 3 on the map, and Mike (Pratico) and I stopped and I asked if we were going to go up trail 50 or down trail 29. I then commented that I was feeling dizzy (the same feeling you get when you stand too quickly) and the next thing I know I hear "Jeff, Jeff, are you ok?" and I woke up, still standing but with my head resting on my poles. I had actually been dreaming! For a few seconds after waking I was pretty confused where I was. I felt as if I had awakened from a pretty good sleep but Mike thought the whole thing lasted less than a minute and he was only really worried and calling me for about 10s. I can't remember putting my head down on my poles so I assume after I got the dizzy feeling I put my head down and just simultaneously passed out. Totally weird.

We resumed skiing and our next time up the same climb we took it easier and even continued up trail 50 to the top. This climb made the first climb look puny. It was a great day, other than passing out and all.

[see postscript below]

My achilles felt awesome after the ski, as if the ski were some kind of therapy. Weird. This was especially surprising because I had aggravated my achilles snowboarding Saddleback the day before. Cacky and did our first downhill day in 3 years - it was gorgeous spring skiing. The snow was excellent. I was in a thin summerweight smartwool top with Bradbury white out T and no gloves (never even took them out of my pockets). My boot rubbed my achilles from the start but didn't really aggravate it. On what became my 2nd to last run, I tried a deep front-side carve (not generally my style of riding, I'm more like a small wave ripper than old school carver) and this stretched my achilles a bit. On my next run, which became my last, every single front side turn torched my achilles. Again surprisingly I seemed no worse once I got my boots off and walked around.

Postscript - I had pretty much figured out the physiology of passing out after stopping after climbing the hill but I did some google scholaring to fill in a few blanks and quickly discovered that it is imperative that I go see the doctor to take a battery of tests to rule out a long laundry list of (mostly heart) issues. It is very, very likely to be entirely benign. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

armchair racer

Super busy week and weekend being an armchair racer following the USSA junior nationals xc ski races in Utah, the NCAA championship ski races in Montana, the J2 festival ski races at Black Mountain, the Granite State snowshoe championships at Great Glen, the World snowshoe championships in Canada, the Bretton Woods ski marathon in NH, the Kerryman 5K in Saco, the midcoast 1/2 marathon in Lincolnville, and the Gate River Run (USATF 15K championship) in Jacksonville FL, which I considered running until the plane tickets got too expensive (I could have visited my sister). I did none of these because I have achilles tendonopathy. I did get in an epic (for me) 21 mile roller ski yesterday. It felt great. But my achilles was very sore after and still a little sore this morning.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Snowshoe racers like a big dump

hanging on to Ian's tail (I think I was closer than this picture shows)

Luckiest snowshoe series in New England? Or do Ryan and Ian have a direct line with the snow gods?

Regardless, we got dumped with snow Thursday and the snow survived Saturday's rain allowing us to race  in snowshoes at the final Bradbury Winter series race, the Bradbury Blizzard.

I had not been planning on running this race all winter as it conflicted with my annual Rangeley Loppet weekend but as race-week progressed I was more in the mood to snowshoe race than ski so I registered online last minute. I ski-raced 25K yesterday having dropped down from the 50K because my 12 mile classic ski on Friday left me feeling very un-fresh going into a double-race weekend. After the race I felt great and wished that I had stayed with the 50K but I'm sure this would have changed 180 degrees by about 1 mile into lap 2. Anyway, I left Rangeley this morning and made it to the Bradbury parking lot 10 minutes before race start! My warm-up consisted of running to the registration desk to get my bib.

The course was again moved to the east side of Bradbury to avoid the icy trails. My only real goal - and this was a huge longshot - was to beat Ian by a minute so I could come in 2nd in the Badass standings. The gun went off and as usual, everyone shot off like HS boys and I was out of breath by 1/4 mile in. A gap was opening between the Ian+Scott+Andy pace group and the rest of us so I passed David and Jamie so I could keep Ian in sight. I was in full wounded gnu breathing mode at this point but Ian slowed and I caught them without much effort and we actually ran the middle 2.5 miles at a fairly modest pace. The course used lots of the twisty-turny singletrack and this was even harder to run in snowshoes than in the summer as it required efficient foot placement and agility. We had a tight train with me following Scott following Andy following Ian. Somewhere around mile 2.5 a very small (like 10-15ft) gap opened between Andy and Ian and I really didn't want to lose Ian so I accelerated past Scott and Andy to make insure that I stayed right on Ian's tail. At some point I noticed that Andy had indeed been dropped. We continued at what I thought was a pretty modest pace and I started to get itchy with about 1.5 miles to go. I aborted a couple of moves around Ian with 1.25 to go and finally found my chance at mile 4. I had to pump up the pace and attempt to drop Ian if I was going to beat him by a minute. I was now back in full-on wounded gnu breathing mode and I thought I saw Ian fall back a little but that was short lived (if indeed it happened at all). We did manage to drop Scott though. We finally came out onto the link trail and Ian effortlessly passed me and encouraged me to stay on him. Yeh right. I did manage to stay within about 10s of him for 3rd place in the race and 3rd place overall (thanks Jeremy for having some other commitment today!).

Scott came in not too far behind me and not too far behind Scott were Jamie (sweet race Jamie!) and Andy and Peter K. and David and Zak. As always, the race was followed by good food, conversation, fire, and awards. And the Atayne badass shirts are pretty sweet too.

Jamie letting me by so I can close the gap with Scott, Andy, and Ian

Only 3 racers to go (I'm not counting Judson)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


I've decided to exploit the local terrain around my house more by using the hills even for ez training. I had largely been doing this with hill repeats but now I've decided that even my easy runs I'm going to pack with the local hills. No more (or at least, much less) back cove! In order to maximize the vertical, I've decided to avoid long stretches of flattish road by either repeating a hilly loop or just yo-yo-ing a particularly good stretch. For my long run last week, I did a 3 x 5 mile loop right outside my door on what I call the "top-o-Falmouth" because a little side road off the loop takes you to the top of Falmouth, which is a little higher elevation than the top of Bradbury.
I was planning on doing a variant of this loop yesterday for my long run but I stopped after loop 2 to deal with an emerging blister problem and the stop just made it worse so I bailed. I ran these two loops with Ian and it was nice to have his company except that he ran it faster than I was expecting - good thing I bailed after loop 2! I needed my long run so I took off today without any real plan and I thought briefly about a double woodville loop but ultimately decided on yo-yo-ing Field Rd. because this would allow me to really avoid all flat roads. The hills weren't as high as the Blackstrap loop but it was a fairly constant up-down-up-down (you can see the yo-yo between miles 3 and 11).

I've also done a hill repeat at faster than easy pace on a more local hill than Skillins. Its on the road but the traffic is pretty minimal and its a longer climb than Skillins
I'm hoping that by including more hills in my easy days, I develop a little more leg strength. Even if I don't, these runs should make racing flat roads feel like a breeze.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

I came, I saw, I followed

The Bradbury Whiteout, race #2 in the Bradbury Snow series, welcomed racers with cold temps, bright blue skies, and a gnarly mix of ice, hardpack, and powdah. The course was moved from the mountain side to the bike side of the park in order to find some snow stashes. While the conditions weren't quite what they were for the first race, at least we were racing on snowshoes, unlike many racers in New England.

After 2 days off this week due to the perfect storm of ski-coaching, job, and family, I needed to get some miles in and I new I wouldn't have the will to get those in following the run, so I arrived to the race early enough for a 50 minute (5.6 mile) warmup on the snowmo trail. Other than the access trail, which was really icy, the footing was excellent and no screws or icespikes were needed and none were worn. I finished my warm-up with just enough time (10 minutes) to change into my race top and strap on my new Atlas Run snowshoes, which I had yet to try.

At the gun, I took one step and caught Ian's snowshoe. I grabbed a racer's shoulder on either side of me to keep from falling, was carried a step, landed, and started racing. I heeded Ryan's advice to Jamie from the last race and tried to keep up with Ian and Scott H. but I just cannot start that fast and by about 3/4 mile I was 10-15s back and pretty much stayed there for the rest of the race. George A-C was on my tail for about 2 miles but fell off, I think after I tried to pick up the pace on a downhill (in a failed attempt to catch Ian and Scott). At 2.5 miles I was toast but a rope tied from Scott to me kept pulling me forward and I simply moved my legs to keep from being dragged like Hector behind the victorious Achilles. In the last mile, on the old roadbed and in the Lanzo singletrack, I made my last efforts to surge and catch Scott and Ian but no can do.

The race was followed up by more good soup and goodies and awards and fires and friendly banter and all that.  Kudos to Ryan, race director par excellence, for finding enough snow to remind us that this is winter and trail races are meant to be run with floatation.