Monday, April 24, 2017

April 17 - 23, 2017

Monday: 7.4 miles, 427', 9:36 pace. Morning recovery run on local roads and trails. quads are in rough shape, climbing is good but downhills are tough.

Tuesday: 6.0 miles, 394', 9:07. Concrete sidewalks in the urban sprawl of Alpharetta, Georgia. Flew into town for an engineering conference. Business travel is always tricky because it's hard to find run time and I tend to overeat when going to a restaurant with a group of people for a few nights in a row.

Wednesday: 6.5 miles, 423', 8:24 pace. Alpharetta sidewalks. Legs are still sore but improving. Need to find some trails.

Thursday: 5.9 miles, 1260', 10:41 pace. Ran Kennesaw Mountain in the dark. Being on the western edge of the time zone, it gets light out much later here than in New Hampshire. I was hoping to catch a sunrise from the top but ran out of time before having to head back to the conference.

This small mountain was fortified by the Confederacy in the civil war, in an attempt to stop General Sherman's army from reaching Atlanta. I'm not superstitious, but I am a history nerd, and it was a little eerie knowing that roughly 4,000 people died in the vicinity. There were old entrenchments and replica artillery batteries high up on the mountain that would periodically pop out of the dark and fog. Reading history is one thing, but getting a more visceral impression of real events is something valuable to me. The thought helped break up some of the boredom sitting in a sterile, overly air-conditioned conference room later in the day.

Friday: Zero. Travel hang over.

Saturday: 14.5 miles, 1982', 9:23 pace. Bear Brook trails with my dog. The unofficial trails I used to access the park suffered the brunt of a logging operation and were hard to follow. The rest day did me some good and my legs are feeling fully recovered, pushing the pace came easily.

Sunday: 9.5 miles, 1709', 9:44 pace. Pawtuckaway Trails at dawn with the dog. I felt great but kept things shortish. This was supposed to be a recovery week.

I also delivered on a promised ride in "Daddy's little blue car" to get ice cream.

Totals: 50.0 miles, 6194', 7h 54m.

Week 15: April 10 - 16, 2017 - Breakneck Point Trail Marathon

Monday: 8.1 miles, 643', 8:47 pace. Now that the snow is melted, I took the opportunity to do some Manchghanistan trail scrounging. Temps were win the mid-70s and I did my best to just ease into it.

     AM: 9.8 miles, 591', 7:05 pace. I almost didn't get out of bed, but reminded myself of the warm temps. 55 degree mornings are pleasant to run in and, despite feeling a little creaky to start, I felt good enough to throw in some miscellaneous pickups and make it a fartlek run. Most of them were just smooth accelerations uphill for a few telephone poles, but also some ~5 minute up and downhill ones as well. It all went well, considering I was also running in a fasted state.
     PM: 6.8 miles, 372' gain, 8:27 pace. Exercised some restraint and actually ran slow on my lunch run. 80 degree temperatures helped.

Wednesday: Zero.

Thursday: Zero.

     AM: 9.8 miles, 591', 7:35 pace. Managed to drag myself out of bed early enough to do the usual route. Scoped some beav' in the swamp on Podunk Road. Spring peepers, phoebes, robbins and turkey calls are making for a much livelier morning soundtrack lately.

Saturday: 28.3 miles, 8806', 11:23 pace. Breakneck Point Trail Marathon, Beacon, New York.

I've wanted to run this one for a while now and this was the year it finally fit in the schedule. Traditionally in April I've done races like Traprock 50K and the TARC Spring classic as early season tune-ups, but this year I was in the mood to try something new. Breakneck, held on the banks of the Hudson River, offers nearly as much elevation gain as the Pemi Loop, and I was surprised to learn how technical the terrain was. This video from 2015 was what really sold me on it.

Ben Nephew was the only competitive name on the entrants list that I recognized but, being outside New England, I didn't recognize most of them. I set no real competitive goals and just wanted to explore a new area and enjoy running hard on some snow-free trail after a long winter. As such, I didn't let it bother me when I was around 15th place for the first mile. By mile two the field had settled down a bit and I'd caught up to the lead pack without straining myself. This provided some useful feedback on my current fitness level as I was often able to gain ground on the flats and downhills, but would quickly give it back on the climbs when running with the other guys - likely a direct result of running on the road for most of the winter.

Another insight was gained by having run the Hyannis Marathon less than two months prior. Despite taking nearly twice as long to cover the same nominal distance, I was willing to accept a much higher exertion level at Breakneck, in the form of very high breathing and heart rates on the steepest climbs, well over lactate threshold. At Hyannis I tried to settle into a steady pace and gradually increase my exertion level to hold it consistently over the course of the race (that was the idea, at least). My mile splits were all between 6:24 and 7:29. A tough trail marathon is really more like a long set of intervals; climb hard for 15 minutes, then recover on the downs, so you shift the load around between different energy systems and muscle groups. My Breakneck splits varied from 6:23 (309 feet of loss) to 21:24 (1031 feet of gain). I see lots of hill repeats in my future.

By about the halfway mark the packed thinned out and I settled into fourth place. I'd occasionally catch a glimpse of Ben through the tree about a minute ahead, but he grew his lead and disappeared. I ran alone for quite a while before catching and passing another runner who was out of water, like me. With a course reroute this year, the overall distance was closer to 28 miles and there was a rather long stretch to get to the last aid station. I pushed a bit on the last few miles, descending hard to lock up my podium spot and finished in 5:22 - good enough to take home a bottle of wine and a blueberry pie.

Sunday: 5.2 miles, 307', 9:32 pace. Easter Sunday recovery run, trying to resurrect my sacrificed quads - paying for those last few miles at Breakneck. It was worth it.

Totals: 68.4 miles, 11302', 10h 42m.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Week 14: April 2 - April 8, 2017

     AM: 9.9 miles, 591', 8:06 pace. I feel like I put out the same effort on most morning runs and the time that pops up on my phone at the end is a pretty accurate reflection of my fatigue level. This is to be expected, given that I had a pretty solid finish to last week. Crummy weather  is forecast for tomorrow, so I can take an easy day then.
     PM: 6.1 miles, 304', 8:15 pace. Lunch scrunble. Still tired, but making hay while the sun shines.

Tuesday: Zero.

Wednesday: Zero

Thursday: 9.8 miles, 591', 7:55 pace. Slow, despite two rest days.

     AM: 9.8 miles, 591', 7:54 pace. Still slow.
     PM: 6.9 miles, 374', 9:04 pace. Lunch run with Mike. The Piscataquag River in Manchester is running pretty high with the snowmelt and recent rain. We had to bushwhack around a flooded section of trail.

Saturday: 11.9 miles, 723', 7:43 pace.

In the evening, I stuffed over 450 square feet of laminate floor in the back of the Foz. I calculated the weight out to 722 pounds and measured 3 inches of sag at the receiver hitch. The drive home was performed... gingerly, but ultimately uneventful. Saggin' wagon, indeed.

     AM: 7.5 miles, 942', 9:02 pace. I squeezed in a brisk 1:08 lap of the Skyline Trail in Middlesex Fells before meeting a friend later in the day. This was my first warm, dry trail run in months and it felt glorious to do some legit trail running again.

PM: 15.3 miles, 3619', 14:02 pace. An afternoon double traverse of the Blue Hills Skyline Trail with Keith. I dragged ass a bit on the return leg, experiencing nausea and a headache. It was only in the upper 60s but I felt hot. Barfed in the parking lot at the end.

Total: 77.6 miles, 7730', 12h, 05m.

Despite two off days, I never really felt much pep in the legs. My Fells loop was at a good effort level, but I'm not really sure it counts as a workout. In any case, I accumulated some good time on my feet, built some elevation gain, and a took a refresher course on running technical trails. Good enough.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Week 13: March 27 - April 1, 2017

Monday: Zero. Pouring rain. Sniffed some Minwax fumes while staining pine boards for my family room ceiling.

     AM: 10.0 miles, 591', 7:20 pace. 33 degrees, damp, and overcast. I ran well with little effort, not really noticing the hills, but then again, I should after two full days of rest.
     PM: 6.1 miles, 287', 8:08 pace. Easy lunch run. On the Manchester bike path that I frequently use, I passed by a house surrounded with yellow crime scene tape and cop cars around it. The local news is reporting a murder. Yikes.

Wednesday: Zero. Road running in the dark and rain is a bit beyond my tolerance for risk, so no AM run. No lunch run either because I got stuck in a meeting.

     AM: 9.9 miles, 591', 7:19 pace. Settled in to a moderately quick pace again, probably a direct result of the zero day. Paid a short visit to the horses across the street since they were close to the fence.

     PM: 6.8 miles, 375', 7:52 pace. Lunch run with some scrambling. I disturbed a couple of turkey vultures near the top of Cigarette Butte and got to watch them soar around from the top of the cliff for a bit.

     AM: 9.9 miles, 591', 7:54 pace. I managed to exercise some restraint on this one and keep the pace easy.
     PM: 5.8 miles, 1041', 8:49 pace. 10 x 60s hill repeats on Harrison Street. It was snowing hard enough that I had to squint my eyes to see. The ground was still warm and everything was melting before it could accumulate.

Saturday: 9.7 miles, 470', 7:44 pace. Easy run in the post snowstorm slop.

Sunday: 11.9 miles, 702', 8:13 pace. A little tired, not much restraint was needed to go slower than 8s.

Totals: 70.5 miles, 4639', 9h 14m.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Week 12: March 20 - 26, 2017

Monday: Zero. Rest day.

Tuesday: Zero. Cranky hamstring.

Wednesday: 10 miles, 591', 7:42 pace. Strava GPS app gave me a bonus 2/10ths of a mile on my staple morning route.

Thursday: 9.9 miles, 591', 7:48 pace. Only 1/10th of mile extra today.

Friday: 9.8 miles, 591', 7:56 pace. Back to normal.

Saturday: 14.8 miles, 4918', LOL pace. "Ran" the Hancocks and East Osceola in much slower, more taxing conditions than I'd hoped. There was a firm, packed base but ankle-deep fresh snow up top made it like running on the beach, except with elevation gain. My pace was slow and I didn't feel that great, but the biggest benefit was probably recalibrating my level of patience from the roads to trails.

Sunday: Zero. I slept in and let a cranky hip and some soreness rationalize myself into taking a zero day. Still, there's value in this in that I can do a little self-examination. Is it better to take a zero day when my motivation is low and I give in to excuses that are always lurking in the background? Are they valid excuses or not and how do you draw the line? Just because I felt a little hip pinch a few times am I flirting with a serious injury, or is it just normal creaks in the machine? I don't have answers, but it's best to remind myself that I can't take decisions back, so just let go and move forward.

Totals: 44.5 miles, 6690', 8h 14m. Modest mileage but mediocre volume when looked at in hours.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Week 11: March 13 - 19, 2017

Monday: 9.7 miles, 650', 6:59 pace. Shrugged off some inertia to get out the door for a run on my lunch break. I can usually tell how things are going to go within the first few steps and this one felt great before I made it past the end of my building. The effort:pace ratio was good and I never felt strained.

Tuesday: 9.8 miles, 591', 7:54 pace. I was able to sneak an easy pre-dawn run in before the forecast blizzard. Snow was falling hard enough the last 3 miles that I was blinded by my headlamp when cars passed by. I usually leave the light off and let my eyes adjust to the dark, which is more than adequate for road running, and just turn the light on when a car is coming. Luckily there's little traffic on my morning route, and even less on snow days.

Wednesday: Zero. 18 inches of snow, the sidewalks were buried, and the roads a sloppy mess. I almost went out mid-day but a well-timed lunch invite from coworkers sealed the deal.

     AM: 9.8 miles, 591', 7:33 pace. Easy morning run with a bright  moon to see by. The stark shadows of leafless trees on snow is one of my favorite things about running at night in winter - something I would have missed had I stayed in bed. There's still a lot of snow on the roads but it's well packed and grippy, even with road shoes.

     PM: 6.1 miles, 1092', 8:32 pace. 10 x 60 second hill repeats on Harrison Street - with an 18% grade, it's a favorite for short, early season interval work to season the legs.

Over the weekend I listened to an Andy Wacker interview on Ultrarunner Podcast and heard him make a comment to the effect of specific hill work being unnecessary. His claim was that that uphill running performance is simply determined by running fitness and that flat intervals are adequate preparation for hilly races. While Andy is a champion runner across multiple surfaces and distances and I'm just a recreational putz, I'm not buying it because Andy also said that he prefers races with smooth footing and moderate grades. I'll continue to do hill repeats on the steepest, longest hills I have available to build specific strength for climbs that are steep and rocky enough to require hiking. Nothing against Andy, he's got a good thing going, but there are so many schools of thought out there that it's impossible to get any training done without rejecting some successful person's approach.

     AM: 7.5 miles, 350', 8:45 pace. Recovery run, sore ass. I guess that means I'm doing it right.
     PM: 7.1 miles, 395', 8:18 pace. Easy run, still sore. With most of the Manchester sidewalks covered still covered in snow I explored some North End neighborhoods. There's some swanky architecture tucked away in corners of this kinda dumpy city.

Saturday: 10 miles, 300', 10:43 pace. Mashed potato snowmobile trails with the dog.

     AM: 4 miles, 131', 8:17 pace. Pre-dawn jog trying to work out some lingering soreness. My stabilizer muscles got a bit of a wake up call from running in sloppy snow yesterday.
     PM: 14.2 miles, 873', 7:30 pace. Run home from kids' swim class.
Totals: 78.7 miles, 4951', 10h 47m. Right about where I'd like to be for volume. I'm finding that I need to rely on doubles nowadays to get my mileage up. It used to be that the bulk of my volume came on weekend long runs, often back to back trail 20+ milers, but that's doesn't really fit with my responsibilities any more.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Week 10: March 6 - 12, 2017

Monday: 9.8 miles, 591', 7:25 pace. I planned to take this one easy , but it was 7 degrees and I put out some more effort to get warmed up, then never really felt like backing off.

Tuesday: 9.8 miles, 591', 7:53 pace. Pre-dawn easy (for real this time) run.

Wednesday: Zero. A nice, spring-like day but sometimes life gets in the way.

     AM: 7.6 miles, 348', 7:45 pace. Pre-dawn easy run.
     PM: 6.8 miles, 380', 7:52 pace. Easy lunch run with a little scrambling.

Friday: 6.8 miles, 377', 8:13 pace. Easy lunch run with a little scrambling. Blustery.

Saturday: 11.8 miles, 738', 9:09 pace. A balmy 15 degrees with lots of wind. Got out with the dog in the afternoon in Bear Brook. Mostly bare, frozen ground, with some styrofoam snow and icy patches in shaded areas. Nice to get out on some dry-ish trail, but a major storm is forecast for early next week will be a setback for running in the woods.

Sunday: 7.3 miles, 423', 8:10 pace. Easy run on a mix of roads and trails. Pretty congested - running usually helps, but not this time. Spent the rest of the day snoozing on the couch. I meant to get this one on early in the morning but used the time-change and single digits temperatures to rationalize going back to bed and putting the run off until the afternoon.

Totals: 60.2 miles, 3478', 8h 8m. Half way decent volume but no true workouts. I'll chalk it up to recovery and aerobic base building.