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.

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.

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.




Tuesday: 
     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.

Thursday:
     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.

Friday:
     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.

Thursday:
     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.

Friday:
     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.



Sunday:
     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.

Thursday:
     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.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Week 09: February 27 - March 5, 2017

Monday: 6.2 miles, 331', 8:30 pace. Recovery run with some scrambling at Cigarette Butte. I'm less sore than expected after the marathon and ended up going farther than originally planned. The first few hundred yards made me think I'd call it a day after a mile or two, but the legs loosened up nicely.

Tuesday:

     AM: 6.7 miles, 236', 8:20 pace. Explored some roads and trails near home before sunrise. Discovered a couple nice new prospects close to home, but there's still a lot of ice in the woods so I'll have to come back in a few weeks. My right foot hurts a little bit.

     PM: Bike ride, 13.5 miles. Easy spin to loosen up the legs.



Wednesday: Bike ride, 25.7 miles. 60 degrees and humid, a welcome reprieve from winter.

Thursday: 6.6 miles, 377', 9:00 pace. Easy run with the office crew. Legs feel 90% recovered or so.

Friday: Zero. Stuffed my face at the local greek gyro place instead.

Saturday: 9.8 miles, 591', 7:59. Easy pre-dawn run on my staple 10 mile route. 7 degrees out.

Sunday: 11.3 miles, 453', 8:26 pace. Icy fire roads around Tower Hill Pond. 10 degrees and windy, but I was happy to let the dog burn off some energy as well as feel some dirt under my feet. Carbide studded Inov8 Orocs were just the ticket for mixed ground conditions.

Totals: 40.8 miles, 1985', 5h 43m running, 8h 17m with cycling added.

I'm feeling 99% recovered from the marathon last week, further confirming that I ran a smart race and pushed just hard enough to get the result I wanted without needing to take more than a week to get back into training. I'm looking forward to getting back to more trail and mountain oriented stuff, especially as the snow melts and the ground dries out in the next few weeks. Up next is the Breakneck Point Trail Marathon in New York on April 15th, which gives me six weeks to get some good hill work in.

Also, this week I realized that I'm lacking a qualifying race for the 2018 Western States lottery and most of the events on the list in the US are already full or conflict too with other things on my schedule. My options boil down to (A) Pine to Palm 100 in Oregon in September, (B) Pinhoti 100 (for a third time) in Alabama in November, or (C) just forgetting about Western States. While I would like to run it again, I'm not sure it's worth the cost and schedule disruption just to maintain a very small chance in the lottery. I'll need to think about it some more.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Week 08: February 20 - 26, 2017 - Hyannis Marathon

Monday: 7.3 miles, 367', 6:46 pace. Unplanned marathon pace workout; it felt good so I rolled with it.

Tuesday: 6.2 miles, 302', 7:30 pace. Easy run on shoveled bike path with some scrambling thrown in. There's a small trash and graffiti-strew cliff in Manchester that catches enough sun to melt out fairly quickly. It makes for a fun little class 3/4 detour with a good view of the city.




Wednesday: 6.3 miles, 305', 9:31 pace. Easy run with some scrambling with co-workers.

Thursday: 9.7 miles, 650', 7:23 pace.

Friday: Zero.

Saturday: 4.2 miles, 187', 8:20 pace. Easy shake out.

Sunday: 26.2 miles, 213', 6:49 pace. Hyannis Marathon in 2:58:33 net time.

Given the effort:result ratio, I'm pretty satisfied with this one. For less than half the training volume, I ran less than five minutes slower than my PR at Hyannis in 2014. This was my second time running sub-3 hours and with a 1:27 / 1:32 split, one of the more evenly paced road marathons I've run. By that, I mean that the second half didn't turn into a total shit show, helped by a couple write-off training weeks that tempered my expectations and kept me from going out too fast.

My stated goal when I signed up for Hyannis around New Years was to qualify for Boston 2018 with a solid time margin and sub-3 hours as a stretch goal. I came away with both of those met, so that's a bit of an uplift. Hopefully I can fit in a full training cycle and push for a personal best next year.

In any case, I'm looking forward to getting back on some snow-free trails and working on my climbing strength.

Totals: 60.4 miles, 2024', 7h 23m.