Monday, May 22, 2017

May 15 - 21, 2017

Monday: Zero. Right achilles is still grouchy, as is most of my left leg above the knee (quad, hamstring, and some other stuff). A big purple bruise has appeared where I fell on Sunday.

Tuesday: Zero.

Wednesday:
     AM: 9.8 miles, 591', 8:08 pace. Easy on the normal loop.
     PM: 8.9 miles, 1352', 10:57. Evening run in Pawtuckaway. Hot temps and a desire to not stress my achilles kept the pace slow and easy. At least the humidity was low. Decided to leave the dog home because of the heat.

One of my favorite things about trail running is the shirtless, windows-down drive home on a summer evening. There's something deeply relaxing about the sense of accomplishment combined with the feeling of warm, turbulent air drying off my skin. First one of the year in the books.

Thursday: Zero.

Friday:
     AM: 9.7 miles, 591', 7:34 pace. Easy morning road run.
     PM: 7.8 miles, 630', 8:08 pace. Easy lunch run. Mixed roads and trails. I may not be able to run this route for much longer; this is a route I've been doing for a few years with use windows in spring and fall when there's not too much snow or poison ivy.

Saturday: 14.4 miles, 1742', 9:37 pace. Bear Brook trails with the dog. The endorphins were flowing this morning and I felt like I was floating the singletrack trails through a leafy green tunnel with the sun just coming up.

Sunday: 15.7 miles, 4419', 12:57 pace. I tried to go for a fast time on the Squam Range Double Traverse but got suckered into a wrong turn and went a mile downhill in the wrong direction before I realized the problem. The junction is signed but a little confusing, especially considering that the blazes on both trails are yellow. Oh well, my legs felt kinda heavy anyway and I decided to call it a day and turn back at the summit of Mount Morgan.


Totals: 66.5 miles, 9564', 10h 57m. Not bad for a week with three zero days. Also probably not bad to cut back a bit as something weird is going on with my right leg. My achilles pain persists, usually mildly, but there are a bunch of other shifting pains on the back of my leg between my knee and glute. I'll see if some foam rolling helps.

Monday, May 15, 2017

May 8 - 14, 2017 - Wapack 21.5 Race

Monday:
     AM: 5.5 miles, 157', 8:44 pace. Easy morning run exploring an old railroad grade near my house.

Tuesday: 9.8 miles, 591', 7:21 pace. Up-tempo morning road run.

Wednesday: 
     AM: 9.8 miles, 591', 7:51 pace. Easy morning road run.
     PM: 3.7 miles, 82', 7:38 pace. Managed to squeeze in a quickie between hotel check-in and dinner in Cleveland.


Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame

Thursday: 4.6 miles, 108', 8:09 pace. Easy morning sight seeing run in downtown Cleveland.

Lake Erie

Friday: 9.8 miles, 591', 7:47 pace. Easy morning run shaking off some travel grogginess. I was supposed to land in Manchester at 9 pm, Instead, through some United Airlines snafus, I ended up touching down at Logan airport after 11 and had a 55 mile cab ride to Manchester, not arriving home until the wee hours of the morning. I should have stuck with Southwest.

Saturday: 21.3 miles, 5030', 9:50 pace. Wapack Trail Race, fourth place, 3:29:46. In most years, this would be a very good time, the seventh fastest on record according to Ultrasignup.com Yet, this year had the strongest field Wapack 21.5 has ever seen, nearly ideal weather and ground conditions, and I didn't even make the podium. From what I could see, the field had mostly sorted itself out by the first aid station at Miller State Park at mile 5 and I essentially ran alone for the rest of the way. I lost a few minutes sorting out some stomach distress, emptying rocks out of my shoes, and took an ugly fall coming down Mount Watatic near the end, but even if I'd been 5 minutes faster the results would have been unchanged. I'm reasonably happy with my time and there's little I could have done differently on the competitive front.

Sunday: Zero. My achilles was acting up, as was the knee and toe I smashed up on Saturday.

Totals: 64.8 miles, 7129', 9h 7m. A bit of an easier week on the distance, elevation, and time front. Could be worse when considering the travel and possible injury.

I'm getting excited for the next race on my calendar, my main "A" race of the year; the Ultra Trail du Mont Albert: La Grande-Traversée (yeah, it's a mouthful) up in Gaspesie, Quebec. Last year I won the 100k distance at this event and had a magical trip overall. New for this year will be a 165k version with 8500 meters of elevation gain, held on a point-to-point course on the International Appalachian Trail. Based on what I saw last year, I'm expecting the difficulty to be similar to the Wasatch 100 and a sub-24 hour finish should be plausible. A french language TV show did a segment on the 100k that gives a good impression of the landscape up there, even if you don't understand what's being said: http://tracedetrail.com/en/trace/trace/25043 I make a cameo at at the 1:38 mark.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

May 1 - 7, 2017

Monday: Zero.

Tuesday:
     AM:  3 miles, 200', 7:56 pace. Morning road jog.

     PM: 10.3 miles, 1926', 9:51 pace. My wife picked up the kids from school, so I was able to get an evening run in after work run in Pawtuckway with Cooper. Rain earlier in the day made things rather wet but the temps were good -  right around 60 and the humidity was low. Sunshine gave way to passing showers and made for some cool light contrasts and a double rainbow.



Wednesday:
     AM: 7.2 miles, 430', 8:14 pace. Easy morning run. My achilles starting acting up in the first two miles and I almost turned around. Oddly, it improved the farther I ran and I felt totally normal for the last few miles. I've also been having some tightness in my upper calf, near the knee, at the beginning of my morning runs and I'm wondering if the two issues are related. Still, it handled relatively heavy mileage and elevation gain last week, so I'll just have to keep an eye on it.
     
     PM: 8.1 miles, 1639', 8:29 pace. Hill workout, 10 x 2 minutes at McIntyre ski hill. Happy I got out for this one, given that workouts make me anxious and it's easy to find reasons not do them. I have to play mental games with myself, only looking so far ahead on each repeat and not thinking about how many are left to do. The burning in my quads and short, frequent breaths are where the magic happens for working on my weaknesses, though. Getting back to the office, I was light headed for the rest of the day, pleasantly and naturally high. No noise from the achilles.



Thursday: 7.5 miles, 350', 7:38 pace. Easy morning road run.

Friday: 9.8 miles, 591', 7:52 pace. Easy morning run. Got stopped by the local constabulary and asked if I'd seen a horse running loose.

Saturday: 14.5 miles, 1988', 9:52 pace. Sopping wet Bear Brook Trails with the dog. I spent some time doing guerrilla trail maintenance; draining puddles and discretely moving brush in a logged area where my approach trail got obliterated. It was hard to get out the door in the pouring rain at 5 am  when it was barely light out, but the pay off was was a really fun run to start the day.

Sunday: 19.2 miles, 5007', 12:34 pace. Wapack trail out-and-backs from Temple Mountain with the dog. I was a little sluggish to start but picked up enthusiasm a few miles in. Preparing for the shorter 21 mile version of this race has put the trail in a different perspective for me. Terrain that would've been sluggish and tough at 50-mile pace is now viewable as fun and runnable, especially the ridgeline south of Temple Mountain. I'm excited for the race and in a good mental spot; I may or may not win, but I'm going to have a good time either way.

Totals: 80 miles, 12126', 12h 55m. Another good spring week in the books. I feel great and  I'm optimistic for June. I have plans, big plans, and I'm psyched.

Monday, May 1, 2017

April 24 - 30, 2017

Monday: Zero.

Tuesday: 9.8 miles, 591', 8:06 pace. Easy morning run, some light right achilles burn toward the end.

Wednesday: 9.4 miles, 479', 8:45 pace. Easy run at Musquash Conservation Area after work. I almost didn't make it but ran out of excuses, for once. This was my first time in this area, a little odd that I've never been, given that's it's so close. The trail were very runnable but nothing of spectacular quality. Seems like it'd be more fun on a mountain bike. Right achilles burn reared it's ugly head for the last few miles.



Thursday: 8.2 miles, 1437', 8:23 pace. 8 x 2 minute hill workout at McIntyre ski hill. Muddy and sluggish, but good to get some deliberate high intensity stuff in. I should do more of that. NO achilles problems on the uphills, but some light burn again on my cool down.

Friday: 
     AM: 5.2 miles, 286', 8:18 pace. Easy run with a quintuple beaver encounter. They weren't real happy with my being there and were slapping the water with their tails. I've never seen so many, so close, for so long before. Achilles felt fine.



     PM: 7.9 miles, 647', 7:53 pace. Manchester trail scrounging.

Saturday: 14.4 miles, 1903', 9:40 pace. Early morning Bear Brook Trails with dog. We had a close call with a porcupine. Luckily, it shambled off into a boulder cave before the dog noticed anything was up. Again, some achilles burn after about an hour, not really painful but still concerning.

Sunday:  26 miles, 8000' gain, 13:39 pace. Rambling with Ryan in the Belknap Range. We were  happy to find snow free trail conditions and a good early season mountain run. The trails in here are pleasant, with relatively short climbs and generally runnable footing. A satisfying way to close the week. Achilles burned lightly but never got any worse. I wouldn't call it painful or say it qualifies as an injury at this point, especially when it was able to take so much elevation gain. Something to keep an eye on.



Totals: 81.3 miles, 13327', 13h 53m. My biggest week of the year so far, and I generally feel good. My climbing and technical running skill is noticeably returning and that bodes well for the rest of the year.

I've been doing some thinking - a dangerous thing for a guy who's frequently the dumbest person in the room. Lately, I've been contemplating the privileges I enjoy, bequeathed me by my parents and earlier ancestors. I imagine I have more opportunity and leisure time than any of them and I've been trying to get a handle on how my running (mountain running, specifically) fits into that. I work hard, but it's often cardiovascular work rather than farming, building a stone wall, working in a factory, being a computer technician, or nursing patients in a clinic. I'm the first person in my family to earn a bachelor's degree. Having children of my own has helped put some of this into perspective, as I make personal sacrifices to ensure they have best possible life opportunities open to them and I try to be good role model. I live in a modern world, without any great war to fight or great economic depression to labor under. How do I live up to the achievements of my predecessors? To me, the crux of the privilege question is not about guilt or level of deserving, but how to best make use of the opportunities I've been given. I choose to strive at something I'm good at, running, to achieve something, and to be an inspiration to those who come after me - even if at the end of the day my high water mark amounts to being a big fish in a small pond. It's the least I can do. When I feel like quitting a phrase that keeps coming to mind is; don't squander the gift.


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.

Tuesday:
     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.

Friday:
     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

Monday:
     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.

Friday:
     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.



Sunday:
     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.