Thursday, July 13, 2017

July 3 - 9, 2017 - Bear Brook Trail Marathon

Monday - Friday: My legs felt fine by my head didn't feel like running. I also returned to a pretty stressful week at work but hopefully the worst is past.

Saturday: 31.1 miles, 3360', 5:07-ish, 10:00 pace or so. Bear Brook Trail "Marathon". This race takes place nearly in my backyard on trails I routinely train on. The course passes within two miles of my house. Many years ago I was thinking of setting up a 50K in the park but didn't really have enough initiative to take it past the planning stage. My buddy, Ryan Welts, did and thus the race was born. I volunteered for the last four years but had never run the full course myself. This year, with a change in race directors I was out of the loop and didn't know the race date. Friday afternoon I saw surprised to learn that it was the next day and I was being offered a last minute entry. I accepted pretty quickly, taking the chance to run the most local of races and hopefully pull myself out of my slump.

Ryan and I ran together for nearly the entire race, moving up a couple positions when people got lost, to jointly hold second place until near the end. I was suffering a bit from the heat and residual fatigue and chafe from last weekend, and couldn't hold on to Ryan on the last climb. He took off because he was convinced we were being caught by another runner, though it turned out we had a sizable gap. Despite not feeling like I put in a very good performance, I really can't complain about third place. Overall times seemed substantially slower this year, as some course reroutes added a few miles, making it closer to a 50k.

Sunday: 17.8 miles, 2h 15 m. Mountain bike ride in Bear Brook for some good active recovery.

Totals: No point in adding them up when I only ran once and biked once. See above.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

June 26 - July 2, 2017 - UTMA Grande Traverse DNF

Monday: 4.9 miles, 1648', 14:53 pace. Early morning run up Mont St-Anne above Perce, Quebec. I left right from our campground, kept the effort level easy, stopped for lots of gawking and picture breaks, and was rewarded with a spectacular view.



Tuesday: 6.0 miles, 1398', 9:46 pace. Ran up Mont St-Alban from our campsite in Forillon National Park. A bit of an up tempo effort, but it felt easy and I wanted to stretch my legs on some runnable climbs and descents. More excellent views.


Wednesday: Zero. Raining, slept in. Did a short hike to a waterfall with the family.


Thursday: Zero. Hiked Mont Jaques-Cartier with the family and ended up carrying my 4 year old on my back. We kept an eye out for caribou but didn't see any.




Friday: 60 miles, 16000'. Ultra Trail du Mont Albert Grande Traverse - DNF.

I'm still digesting this one, as DNF's are always hard and the decision to drop leads to lots of second guessing. The course itself was excellent and I enjoyed some time running jointly with Jean-Francois Cauchon, who went on to win the race. Unfortunately, I started having trouble urinating around mile 30, and by mile 60 I was concerned for my health and also unable to fathom another 40 miles. Maybe my health truly was at risk, or maybe I just don't have the drive to keep pushing through pain and danger that I once did. In any case, I think I'm done with hundred mile races for the foreseeable future.



Saturday: Zero.

Sunday:  Zero.

Totals: 67.9 miles, 18842', 20+ hours. What can I say? I put a whole lot of resources into something that I failed at. I'm trying to reflect positively on the rest of the trip and the time I got to spend with my family. It's selfish to sulk and feel sorry for myself.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

June 19 - 25, 2017

Monday:  7.3 miles, 400', 8:14 pace. Easy morning run, ran into one of the few other folks in my neighborhood who gets out this time of day and spent a mile or two with him before our paths diverged.

Tuesday: 3.1 miles, 214', 8:19 pace. Token morning 5k. Useful for clearing my mind and getting myself mentally ready for the day ahead. Lots to do before leaving for vacation Friday.

Last night I dreamed that I was running Manitou's Revenge and struggling way too hard to keep up. Like, sprinting while others jogged and I was still just barely holding on to them. Then the course markings lead me into an old house, twisting and turning down hallways and through closed doors. I was by myself and confused as the flagging had me climbing through windows and doubling back in crazy directions. This is a recurring experience for me in the days leading up to a race that I'm anxious about, usually a hundred miler. The race in the dream varies, as does the type of building; sometimes it's an institutional building like a hospital or school. This began before my first 100 miler, Vermont, in 2009 and it keeps coming back. I don't know why or what it means, but it's a clear sign that there's a lot going on in my sub-conscious that I don't have a handle on.

Wednesday: 7.3 miles, 400', 8:28 pace. I used to have to deliberately hold back to turn this kind of pace just a few months ago. Now this feels like a moderate effort. My sciatica pain is pretty mild but I wonder if it's affecting my stride and slowing me down.

A new video came out today, showing some of the early miles of the UTMA course; my first real glimpse at that part of the trail. https://viago.ca/video/sur-les-pas-de-logan/

Thursday: 5.5 miles, 300', 8:29 pace. Easy morning run. I slept poorly because of work, vacation, and race stress. Running helped me let go of the visceral sense that my nightmares were real. My cat greeted my at the door when I got back.




Friday: 3.0 miles, 210', 8:13 pace. Early morning shake out before the long drive tonight.

Saturday: Zero. Travel. Arrived safely at our campsite on the Baie de Chaleur. Seaside camping at its finest.



Sunday:
     AM: 3.2 miles, 91', 8:49 pace. Morning seaside jog in Bonaventure, Quebec.



     PM: 6.8 miles, 1326', 10:37 pace. Rode on a boat out to Bonaventure Island off Perce, Quebec. Ran some clifftop trails, reminiscent of Acadia N.P,, for a bit before rejoining the family to hike and check out the tens of thousands of nesting gannet birds.






Totals: 36.5 miles, 3000', 5h 22m. A good taper week, lots of short runs and nothing too strenuous. My sciatica pain and assorted other minor issues seem to be fading.

Work and travel stress have me feeling a little on edge, as does the race. Reading my report from last year, I talked about how I had no anxiety at the start because no one knew me and I had no expectations. That helped me run on my own terms that just so happened to put me in a competitive spot for the second half. I'm trying hard to get to that place in my head this year, but it's more difficult. I'd say being on vacation helps some, especially when I can listen to waves on the beach while I sleep, but traveling with two small children has his own added difficulties.

I just have to run from my thumb to my forefinger.


Monday, June 19, 2017

June 12 - 18, 2017

Monday:
     AM: 3.1 miles, 220', 8:08 pace. Easy morning jog with some foam rolling. I feel surprisingly good, much better than last Monday. The only physical reminder of the weekend is the soreness in my shoulder and back but at least I can turn my head all the way left now.
     PM: 7.2 miles, 390', 8:19 pace. City sidewalks. Easy heat training run, 91 degrees out. This went better than expected; I was hot but not that uncomfortable.

I got an email from Ultra Trail du Mont Albert this morning informing me that there will be a delayed start (noon, rather than 10 am) for anyone expecting to cover the first 100K in less than 18 hours. I guess that includes me. There will also be a limit on when runners can enter the Mont Jauqes-Cartier zone because the reindeer that live there are so heavily protected. I suppose that's the trade off that has to be made to be able to use the area. I'm still trying to figure out what this does to my prospects of a sub-24 hour finish. If anything, I'm hoping it'll keep me from going out too fast, especially when the last 25 miles of the race look mostly downhill and runnable; It'll be good to save some legs for that. Along those lines UTMA released a picture of their sub-30 hours 100 mile belt buckle today. I wants it. There will be an as yet undetermined award for sub-24. I want that too. Funny, how I can be so motivated by silly little trinkets.


Tuesday:
     AM: 5.2 miles, 443', 8:34 pace. Easy local roads and trails.
     PM: 7.2 miles, 394', 8:44 pace. Easy city sidewalks and trails. Hot, a right angle day (90 degrees). Apologies for the dad joke.

Wednesday: 3.8 miles, 222', 8:09 pace. Easy morning on country roads. A few years ago I didn't usually bother with runs so short, not thinking they were worth changing my clothes for. Nowadays, I'm seeing more value in them, if for nothing other psychological hygiene. They're a good way to boost mileage, stay loose, and avoid a zero day. I also think about all the times I had a mileage goal for the week and missed it by less than 5 miles because I was too tired or out of time when Sunday rolled around.

Thursday: Speaking of zero days...

Friday: Zero. Trying to get things together for my trip next week.

Saturday: 16.8 miles, 5520', 3:38:08 elapsed time. Another favorite training staple of mine; the Twins, Zealand, Hale loop. I often throw on detours to Galehead or the Bonds, but today decided to put in a focused effort on the simple, classic version. My best time from a few years ago was a little over five hours, albeit at a lackadaisical effort level, and Saturday I felt motivated to give it a good, solid go. Call it a 90-95% effort - hard enough to be a workout and turn a quick time, but not so hard as to overly fatigue me or risk injury. It was a gorgeous, soul-stirring morning to be out.




Sunday: 7.8 miles, 2935', 1:50:00 elapsed time. I wanted to get another hard mountain effort in before leaving for Quebec and managed to hit up the Osceolas from Tripoli Road at dawn. Similar to yesterday, a 90-95% effort got me a personal best time (and back home in time for breakfast.)

Totals: 51.2 miles, 10118', 8h 59m. Not quite the volume I wanted (those two zero days don't help) but I got over 10,000 feet of vert. We'll call it an early start to my taper.

Monday, June 12, 2017

June 5 - 11, 2017 - Waterville Value Pack

Monday:
     AM: 3.1 miles, 210', 8:45 pace. Easy recovery jog in the rain trying to work out some hamstring tightness. I did about 10 minutes of foam rolling beforehand to try and loosen things up and prevent my sciatica issues from resurfacing.
     PM: 5.2 miles, 171', 8:22 pace. Easy run around Manchester with an old friend.

Tuesday: 3.1 miles, 213', 7:48 pace. Same deal as yesterday, foam roll and then an easy jog in the rain.

Wednesday:
     AM: 5.2 miles, 433', 8:27 pace. Easy run with 10 minutes of foam rolling the hammies. Still experiencing some sciatica.
     PM: Mountain biking, 22.5 miles, 1755', 3 hours. Easy evening ride in Bear Brook. Seemed to help with my hamstring issues.

Thursday: Zero. Trying to wrap up my family room renovation. It's not quite done, but close enough that I moved the table in so we could have dinner together.



Friday: 9.8 miles, 591', 7:41 pace. Easy morning run on local country roads. I ran across a tom turkey showing off in someone's yard.


Saturday: 15.4 miles, 1841', 11:07 pace. Easy trail run in Bear Brook with Mike and Cooper.

Sunday: 25.7 miles, 8825',  Waterville Value Pack, 7:03:28 elapsed time. I spent the day practicing some easy mountain endurance for UTMA and managed to cut 45 minutes off my best time on this route. I ran into a pretty gross dead moose, covered in flies on the North Tripyramid Slide. Later, I managed to jack up my back a bit when I took an awkward spill off a rock, but at least I didn't humpty-dumpty myself like the moose did. The heat got to me a bit on this one, as I experienced some nausea and a headache towards the end.

The WvVP is another favorite training staple of mine. It goes like this:

  • Park at Livermore Road
  • Climb Mount Tecumseh via ski trails.
  • Descend the backside of Tecumseh to Tripoli Road on nice, soft, singletrack.
  • Run up Tripoli road for a mile or two.
  • Traverse Mount Osceola and East Osceola to Greeley Ponds.
  • Descend Greeley Ponds Trail.
  • Climb the abandoned Flume Brook Trail (hard to find, easy to follow) and Old Skidder Path to Livermore Road.
  • Traverse the Tripyramids via the North and South Slides.
  • Return to the car on Livermore road.






Totals: 67.6 miles, 12503', 12h 24m (plus 3 hours cycling). A satisfactory week, given the slow start. I was hoping to do a Hut Traverse but snowy, wet conditions on the Twinway last weekend and nagging to-do list made me opt out. I'd like to see what I can do with an aggressive effort but it may have to wait until I come back from Quebec.

Monday, June 5, 2017

May 29 - June 4, 2017 Sandwich Dome, Pemi Loop XVIII

Monday: 8.1 miles, 2850', 11:30 pace. A daybreak start and brisk effort got me up and down Sandwich Dome in 1:38:21 and back home before breakfast.

Tuesday: Zero. Blew my  morning and lunch run windows on figuring out how to get the check engine light in my Forester to shut off. I achieved success, I think.

With the occasional malfunctioning emissions system, creeping fender rust, and nearly 178,000 miles, I'm not sure how much more life I'll get out of this car. I know everything is finite, especially tools that get used on a daily basis, but I love my Forester and there's really nothing else out there that quite matches it's appeal to me. Now, it seems like most everything that would fit my needs is too expensive, too slow, too clumsy, or comes with a shitty CVT transmission. My options are limited and I plan to string this baby on as long as I can. Specifically, I have a 2007 Subaru Forester Sports XT with a manual transmission in World Rally Blue. What all that means is that it's a turbocharged all-wheel-drive station wagon in a very rare options package and color, especially with the stick shift. Ten years ago I scoured the website of every Subaru dealership in New England looking for the exact combo I wanted, with the intent of owning it for the long term. At the time, it'd been a year since I'd graduated college, I'd established some stability, and wanted to reward myself for making it through school. Getting a kick-ass new car was one of the motivations that kept me plugging away on relevant school work and coping with all the other bullshit gatekeepers in academia. I'll be sad when I finally do have to let her go.



Wednesday: 3.9 miles on the mountain bike. Went for a ride in the evening with a friend until a broken chain cut things short.

Thursday:
     AM: 5.2 miles, 436', 8:19 pace. Easy morning run.
     PM: 11.2 mile bike ride at lunch.

Friday: Zero.

Saturday: 12 miles, 1952', 11:00 pace. Pawtuckaway trails with Kieth.

Sunday: 30.6 miles, 9405', 14:15 pace. Pemi Loop number 18 is in the books. Had to work a lot harder for my 8:13 finish than I would've liked due to snowy, wet conditions, not enough calories, and too much beer the night before.








Totals: 56.2 miles, 14639', 11h 48m.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

May 22 - 28, 2017 - Moosilauke Figure 8 and Franconia Notch Loop

Monday: Zero.

Tuesday: Zero. Experiencing nerve pain in my right hamstring area going up and down stairs. My layman's diagnosis that it's probably sciatica and some foam rolling should help.

Wednesday: 24.6 miles, 6956', 12:07 pace. I had to go to Rumney in the morning for a work function and, wrapping up by about lunch time, I seized the opportunity to go a little farther north and bang out a good run on Mount Moosilauke before dark. This is a favorite training route of mine with good distance, elevation gain, views, and a variety of terrain; call the it the Moosilauke Figure Eight.

It goes like this:

  • Start at the Dartmouth Outing Club's Ravine Loj. 
  • Run to the summit of Moosilauke via the Snapper Trail and Carriage Road.
  • Descend the Benton Trail (a nice, lightly used route on the back of the mountain).
  • Take the very runnable Tunnel Brook Trail around the mountain through a deep, narrow valley.
  • Climb steeply back up to the summit on the Glencliff Trail.
  • Descend back to the car on the Beaver Brook and Asquam Ridge Trails.


Today, the run went very well and I set a personal best for the route. I eased into things and found myself making very good time without feeling forced or strained. No issues with my sciatica throughout and only some minor achilles crankiness made itself known. My strengths and weaknesses don't seem to have changed much this spring, I can still roll gentle terrain very well and my climbing is mediocre. Ground conditions were fairly good, with only small patches of snow until the final descent down Asquam Ridge where I postholed crotch deep (with ice water underneath) through rotten spring snow for a few hundred yards. Still, I enjoyed my first good mountain run of the season.







Thursday: Zero.

Friday: Zero.

Saturday: 24.6 miles, 9748', 16:12 pace. The Franconia Notch Loop is another favorite spring training staple of mine and a quick way to accumulate some elevation gain and seven Four-Thousand-Footers; I've done it annually for the last four years. The route goes like this:

  • Park at the Basin off I93.
  • Take the Liberty Springs and Flume Slide Trails to the summit of Mount Flume.
  • Follow the epic Franconia Ridge Trail over Liberty and Lincoln to Mount Lafayette.
  • Descend the Greenleaf Trail past Greenleaf Hut back to I93 in Franconia Notch at the Cannon Tramway.
  • Take the Kinsman Ridge Trail over Cannon Mountain, the Northeast Cannonball, and North Kinsman to South Kinsman.
  • Backtrack over North Kinsman to Kinsman Pond.
  • Descend back to the car via the Kinsman Pond, Cascade Brook, and Basin-Cascade Trails.



While not as strong of an effort as Moosilauke on  Wednesday, I'm pretty happy with my pace and finishing time of 8:16, given that I kept the effort pretty casual. My best time, from 2015, is 7:42. I climbed steadily and wasn't too aggressive on the downhills; prudent given the wet conditions. I was also slowed significantly by stretches of rotten snow below Kinsman Pond. My feet were wet all day but I didn't experience maceration, blisters, or any other foot problems except for a hole in my sock that was doing its best to circumcise my big toe. Time to retire that pair of Drymax. All good preparation for Ultra Trail du Mont Albert Grand Traverse in a month.





Sunday: Zero.

Totals: 49.2 miles, 16703', 11h 37m. Rather odd numbers this week, reflecting my laziness with doing any shorter road runs. No sign of sciatica or achilles pain, or any other kind of injury, though, on the two run/hikes I did do.