Thursday, December 31, 2009

My New Home Gym

A few weeks ago I posted about my treadmill dying and said it was OK, I should be running outside anyway. Well since then I have been reminded that a lot of work days have me on the road until late in the evening and then on call even later than that. Mornings find me working from home importing stuff on the computer, which involves a lot of waiting around. The treadmill was an excellent way to get a run in on those late work nights while still being close to the phone and pager, and a way to squeeze in a few extra miles in the mornings while importing charts.

I found myself spinning on the bike trainer last night for lack of treadmill. Spinning is worse torture than a treadmill run could ever think of being! Neither Blues Traveler nor The Counting Crows could make up for the fact that I was spinning on the bike. I told myself I'd spin until Kevin got home from work, hopefully no longer than 30 minutes. I kept the cadence up and kept my heart rate at 146-152. I can be disciplined if I have to. But didn't I hate every second of that workout. Wouldn't you know it? Kevin was about 18 minutes late and I ended up torturing myself for 48 minutes. When he came in the door instead of saying hello, I said something like, "thanks a lot, I had to do this asinine thing for 48 minutes instead of just 30!" Not to worry, I have ordered a new treadmill.

My daughter JUST moved down to Florida and I am making her room into a gym. I've already got my Bowflex and my bike trainer up there. Today I'll move my free weights, exercise ball, mats, and all that. When the new treadmill arrives my gym will be complete! Let's hope the daughter doesn't come back home in a week. She'd be disappointed to find she had to sleep on the weight bench.

This morning I will be heading outside for a run on the roads and snowmobile trails (if they are well packed). Outside running is always my preference, but a treadmill run is better than no run at all. Even on days when I get my outdoor run in, I try to do a second indoor workout in the evening. Normally this has been done in my combination office/gym/pellet stove room. Needless to say, a room with a pellet stove in it is a hot place to work out. I'm excited about the new gym and I might even post a picture after the treadmill arrives. Just don't mention a thing about any of this to my daughter!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2009, Boom or Bust?

Early in the year I re-injured my lower spine and couldn't run at all for a while. When I was able to resume running, my pace had become much slower and my stride much much shorter...
but I was able to resume running!

I made a lot less money than in past years...
because I quit my second job and have more free time to enjoy life and spend time outside having fun!

I now have a cluttered and crowded house...
and it is full of more happiness and love than it has ever been.

I injured my right shoulder...
and I did it while developing a new passion for mountain biking!

I DNFed at two hundred milers this year...
but I finished under 24 hours against all odds at the Vermont 100 and had fun doing it!

Those are the only negative things I can come up with and they all seem to have a positive twist to them. Hmmm, what else happened in 2009?

Kevin and I spent a lot of quality time sitting on the front porch with our feet on the rail in the evenings this past summer. I enjoyed at least some small part of every single day. I've had some great hikes, road bike rides, trail runs, road runs, walks, mountain bike rides, snowshoe runs, and cross country ski outings. Kevin and I built some fantastic new trails for biking and running! I spent a lot of time outdoors and in the woods.

I was healthy and fit and active for the majority of 2009. I smiled a LOT. I fell in love. I kept my good job and my beautiful home (I know some who weren't as fortunate). I have two healthy kids. My old dog is still alive and kicking. I have plans and goals and dreams for the future. I am very happy.

2009? Definitely a Boom year.

Monday, December 28, 2009

I Got Lost on a Road Run !?

I ran in Buxton near the end of my work day yesterday. Buxton always confuses me. The roads don't run straight across at nice angles to each other, they kind of criss-cross at strange tangents and never seem to come out where I think they should. I get confused driving in Buxton and just have to trust my GPS without using my own sense of direction. Since I don't use a GPS running, I should have known I'd get into trouble running in Buxton.

I had a few hours to kill before I could see my last patient. I usually look for a school, post office, or library to park at while I work in the car. I located a little elementary school using the GPS. But after an hour of working on the laptop in my cramped little car, I was getting claustrophobic and restless. I changed my clothes and went out into the rain for a nice run. I figured I'd run 30 minutes out and then return the same way. The 30 minutes out felt great. The rain was a lot lighter than it had been earlier in the day and the temperature was near 50 by my estimate. Unfortunately, I was day dreaming throughout the run out and when I turned around to head back to the car, all I remembered was that I had crossed the Saco River at one point...not a lot to go on.

Retracing my steps the best I could, I occasionally saw something that looked familiar. Then I'd ask myself, "is it familiar from this run or from driving past it during my work day?" I did cross back over the Saco River on the same bridge I had crossed earlier, but after another thirty minutes went by I realized I was not on the road the school was on. I was on a road with a lot of big fields and an occasional farm house.

Just when I was wondering what to try next, I saw a woman walking an enormous white dog. I approached her from behind and scared the bejeepers out of both her and the dog. After they settled down I explained that I was trying to find my car, which I had parked at "a little white elementary school." It turns out there are a few little white elementary schools in the area. She gave me directions to them.

The first one I tried was the wrong school. I was still feeling good and having a great run, but I still had to get to my patient's house. I started to feel a little twinge of panic. I back tracked and then followed the woman's directions to the second possibility. I was almost sprinting at this point because I really had to get back to work soon. Suddenly things started to look familiar! I was very excited to find my car. I put in over two hours of good hard running and hit the towns of Buxton, Hollis, and Saco. I made it back in time to change my clothes and arrive at my last visit wet, but a few minutes early. I woke up with sore legs this morning. There's nothing like a little panic to make me push the pace!

Thursday, December 24, 2009


I did my Plyometric workout last night instead of today because I wanted to have Christmas eve freed up for other things! I also did my two planned workouts for yesterday, a short easy run and an upper body strength workout. So this morning's 6 mile run with 1 mile at tempo pace was done on sore and tired legs. But I got through it with only a minimal amount of whining and groaning.

Plyometrics is a killer, but fun! For Plyometrics, I do the P90X hour long workout. I suppose one could dog it a little on this workout, but I work hard because I love the leg and butt strength it gives me and the cardio workout I can get at the same time. I can keep my heart rate up in the high 160's for 45 to 50 minutes straight during Plyometrics while making my quads, gluts, and calves "feel the burn" for the entire time. It is an hour of jumping, squatting, jumping, lunging, and more jumping. I finish this workout with my hands on my knees, gasping for air. I love it!

Tomorrow I don't plan to do a formal workout, but I might get out for a walk or something. I've always tried to keep holidays free to spend time with family and friends. No Thanksgiving Day races for me, no New Year's Day Resolution Runs, and definitely no Christmas Day workouts. I will be working some of the day tomorrow, but whatever free time I have I will want to spend with my loved ones. Happy Holiday to all!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Road and Trail Run

This morning I was due for an 11 mile run. I decided to run 5 miles on the road and then stop by my house for my snowshoes. Then I'd run the last 6 by snowshoeing back and forth over the 1 mile stretch of singletrack we call River Run. Running back and forth three times over a 1 mile stretch of trail might sound nuts, but I have my reasons!

I have been itching to get out on the snow on my mountain bike. This is a busy week for me with work and with the holiday coming up, but I'm thinking I might be able to get out on the trails with the bike on Christmas Eve. So today I was grooming the trail while I put in my miles. I think Kevin will be surprised to see how much use this trail has gotten since the last snowfall and how nicely packed it is. It is looking very good for biking!

The snowshoe portion of the run was very exhausting! I'm beginning to realize that a marathon is a long way to run on snowshoes. I did a twenty miler on snowshoes once last winter, so I know I can do it. But it will be tough.

Monday, December 21, 2009

This Week's Plan

This week's training plan is as follows:

M-chest, back, and abs strength work and short easy run
T-11 mile run
W-abs, arms and shoulders strength work and short easy run
Th-6 miles with 1 mile at tempo, Plyometrics
F- off for Christmas
Sa-short easy run
Su- 6 on snowshoes at Marathon Pace

Today I ran against the wind on a steady slight uphill for 2 miles before turning around and heading home. It was brutal! I was working hard and still ran slower than 9 minute miles. But coming back home with the wind at my back and a slight downhill the whole way, I flew! Late this afternoon I'll squeeze in my strength workout.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Icy Cold Morning Run

This morning's 11 degree run on rock hard snowmobile trails was fun! This is a great surface for running fast. Only a few sledders had been eager enough to get out on the trails this early in the season, so it was packed, but not overly so. There was no ice, just good solid snow. I put in about 4 miles at a fast pace because I was in a hurry to get home to bacon and eggs!

I'm focused on the snowshoe marathon the first week of March. I've written up a plan leading up to it and should be in good enough shape to finish it and enjoy it. This should transition well into training for some moderate distance trail races in the Spring and then the Vermont 100 in July. It feels good to be working toward something!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

9 Miles on the Roads

This morning I ran a nice 9 mile loop on snow and slush covered roads. I ran the Spec Pond-Black Bog-Colcord Pond loop, which is VERY hilly. It took me 1 hour and 20 minutes, the Black Bog part of the run was very icy and really slowed me down, but I wasn't in a hurry so I didn't mind. I was supposed to do some Fartlek today, but the road conditions wouldn't allow it.

Less than a mile into my run I realized I had forgotten to eat before I left the house. I hoped the abundance of sugar that I put in my coffee would hold me over. It did, barely. The other thing I realized early on, was that I was suffering from TTRBS (Too Tight Running Bra Syndrome). This occurs when your running bra shrinks in the dryer and you don't realize it until you start running and find you can't draw a deep breath. You ladies know what I'm talking about. Those two problems aside, the run went beautifully!

I tend to stay off the roads until winter, at which time I do about 50% roads and 50% trails. The back roads in this area aren't plowed very well and aren't usually salted or sanded at all. Right now they are completely covered with snow, slush, and ice. It is actually a nice surface to run on, as long as you aren't trying to go fast. This was a wonderful morning run. The ponds are still open water with snow surrounding them and it was very pretty. There is very little traffic on these roads in the winter months so it was quite peaceful.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Snowshoe Run Today

As I headed out the door for my run this morning with snowshoes under my arm, Kevin said, "Have fun. Too bad you've been banned from snowshoe racing for the rest of your life." Very funny. True, I did hit a few nerves with my post yesterday. There's a reason I only voice my opinion about anything about once or twice a year.

Anyway, I ran to the Osippee Trails the long way for a one mile pavement warm up. As I ran past the construction site, a young worker said in an appreciative tone, "Nice!" I'm 47 years old, I don't get that very often. But when I glanced his direction, he clarified for me, "Dion Snowshoes, Nice!" Well, they are nice snowshoes.

I put my snowshoes on and headed into the woods. We got about 4 new inches of snow last night, but it is very crusted on top and soft and wet under the crust. Big wet clumps were melting and falling from the trees because of the warm temperature this morning. I was soaked in minutes. I kick up a lot of snow when I run on snowshoes. The chunks I was kicking up were pieces of the hard crust and I swear I must have bruises all over my butt from them! But what fun!!! Kevin and I had packed some of the trails by snowshoeing after the first snowfall and those parts were fast and fun running! The deeper unpacked snow was more challenging and difficult, but good hard work! I ran about 5 miles in the woods on the snowshoes and two miles total on pavement. I loved it!

This weeks training plan is as follows...
M 3-5 easy / Chest and back and abs strength workout
T 9 with Fartlek / Plyometrics
W 3-5 easy / Shoulders and Arms and Abs strength workout
Th 8 hill work / Plyometrics
F 3-5 easy / Legs and Back and Abs strength work
Sat + Sun 3-5 easy

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Getting on My Soap Box for a Change

The Granite State Snowshoe Grand Prix team competition is shaping up to be interesting. The way the team scoring works, the more runners you have the better your team scores. It helps to have fast runners, but it helps more to have a LOT of runners. So I have been fielding email requests and hints from various people about joining one or the other of the two "super teams" that exist in the New Hampshire snowshoe circuit. Team "A" or Team "D" are the only teams that could possible win the series because they have the numbers. All you have to do to be part of either of these teams is to put the team name on your race form. You too, could belong to a winning team! It's that easy!

I have never believed in "pick up teams" in any form of running. You either belong to a team or club, or you don't. I once ran for a competitive women's team who brought in a "ringer" for an important women's race. All of us that had trained with and competed with each other for the entire season felt hurt and confused. I never ran for that team again. It's just not fair to the other teams or to the people who are truly on the team. If you can't win it on your own, you don't deserve to win it.

The concept of scoring based on how many runners are in a race and how many runners your team has in that race is ridiculous. It's even more ludicrous that you can just keep recruiting and adding runners to your roster as the season progresses. This is not "team competition." It makes a lot more sense to encourage a lot of teams to compete by only scoring your top 5 or top 7 runners, or scoring the top age group winners in each race. Rewarding teams based on how many runners they have will eventually put an end to the whole team competition aspect of the series. There will only be one team because everyone will want to be on the winning team!

I love snowshoe racing. I'm not sure about the New Hampshire series this year, but I'll definitely be doing some New England races. If I do run any New Hampshire Series races I'll be putting Rochester Runners as my team on my entry form. We have an excellent chance of finishing third in the series this year as we'll be the only runners out there that don't belong to team "A" or team "D". Next year there will probably only be a team "A&D" so Rochester Runners will probably finish second!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Blustery Cold Morning Run

I put off yesterday's hill workout until today due to slushy slippery roads yesterday. Today the paved portion of my loop was bare pavement with a few icy patches, but the dirt portion was slippery packed snow and ice. I guess it's time to get out the Stabilicers. It was about 24 degrees and very windy this morning.

I ran the 7 mile Deveroux Loop clockwise (steeper climbing this direction) and repeated the steepest portion of Deveroux Hill once, making it an eight mile run. I pushed hard on the uphills and didn't really get a good break until the last 2 miles of gentle paved downhill. The climb was on ice and against a strong head wind today, good hard work! I have been in better shape for this particular workout, but I have also been in a lot worse shape and struggled a lot more with it in past runs.

The mailman was keeping me company for the last half mile or so, slowing down and waiting for me to pass and then delivering to a few more houses before doing the same thing again. He pulled up in front of my house just as I arrived there. It turns out he had a letter that needed to be signed for and he didn't want to get out of his warm vehicle. Good thinking on his part, it's pretty damned cold out!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

R.I.P. Treadmill

The snow started a little earlier than expected this morning, and by the time I got my act together the roads were snow covered and it was coming down like crazy. I decided to get on the treadmill for today's run. The moment Kevin plugged the old thing in for me, the circuit breaker tripped. So I tromped down to my dismal damp granite cellar and reset the breaker. I went back to the treadmill and tried to test it to see if it would go, but it tripped the surge protector that it was plugged into as soon as the belt started moving. I plugged it into a different outlet and was able to start it up. I got about a mile of running in before it tripped it's own internal breaker. It allowed me to reset it, but by now I was muttering swear words and wanting to kick something. I was able to run almost another mile before it tripped itself again and started smelling like something was burning. I declared it junk and headed outside, where I should have been all along. I ran another two miles on 5 inches of light fluffy snow on un-plowed streets. It was beautiful. Why was I bothering with the treadmill anyway?

I followed my run with the weight session I had planned for this evening. I wanted to get it in early, in hopes that I can get out on the snowshoes tonight. This is shaping up to be a great snow storm here in Kezar Falls. There is more than a foot out there already, the Christmas lights are on, and I'm about to have my second cup of licorice tea.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Two Good Workouts Today

I did my Plyometric workout in the morning and saved my run for later because I was hoping to let temperatures rise a little before going out. Plyometrics is an hour of intense jumping and lunging that keeps my heart rate in the 145 to 160 range the entire time. It is hard work, but fun!

I had an acupuncture appointment in Portland and thought it would be nice to do my planned 9 miles with Fartlek on the Standish rail trail on the way home. The Standish Rail Trail is 9 miles out and back, has those convenient markers every quarter mile, and is flat. So it was perfect for today's planned run. I stopped to have snow tires put on my car before leaving Portland. Because a storm is expected tomorrow, there was a big back up at the tire place. I ended up waiting about two hours. I thought about heading out for my run during that wait, but that would mean running in Portland traffic. No thanks. So by the time I got to the Standish Trail, it was already getting dark.

The surface was crusted snow and ice with a little dirt showing here and there. There was no moon out, but I could see OK because the trail is wide and open. The only time I slipped was when a border collie pushed me for some reason. Maybe he was trying to herd me like a sheep. Anyway, I only went down on one knee and no harm was done. The border collie and his owner were the only others on the trail tonight.

I did 8 quarter mile pickups without timing them. I put in a good effort and was pretty pooped by the time I got back to the car. So far, so good on the training schedule...but it's only been two days.

Monday, December 7, 2009

This Week's Plan

I have formulated a training plan leading up to the Peak Snowshoe Marathon. I'll use Tuesday as my long run day and Thursday as my hill work day. I'm starting my long run at a conservative 9 miles and working up from there. I have no injuries, or even any aches and pains at this point so I want to ease back into training to keep it that way! I'll keep my weekends short and easy as this works well with my work schedule and with my social life. This week's plan is as follows:

Mon-3-5 easy in AM, strength in PM
Tues-9 with Fartlek in AM, Plyometrics in PM
Weds-3-5 easy in AM, strength in PM
Thurs- 8 with hill repeats in AM, Plyometrics in PM
Fri-3-5 easy in AM, strength in PM
Sat and Sun 3-5 easy

Now that I've posted it, I'll have to do it.

This morning I ran 4 miles on roads at a relaxed pace. I have a bit of a cold and hated to step out into the chilly air, but once I got going I felt fine. The ponds are starting to ice over and it won't be long before the ice fishermen will be out there. The shoulder of the road has a nice crusty crunchy snow covering that made a nice sound under my running shoes. I ran to the top of the hill on Spec Pond Road, took in the view of the mountains for a moment, and then ran back home. Strength work tonight will be P90X chest and back and abs.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

No Go on Western States

I didn't get picked for Western States and I'm fine with that. I ran it in 2007 and had a good time, but to tell you the truth I have more fun at the Vermont 100. I love the trails and remoteness of the course at Western States. But there's a lot to be said for the Vermont 100. There are always a lot of people I know at Vermont, either running or crewing or pacing. So the support I get while out on the course is awesome. I like the low key, casual atmosphere at Vermont. I'm not much for "hooplah" as I call it. I kind of think of Western States as the Boston Marathon of Ultras. And like Boston, you HAVE to do it at least once. I would have been glad if i got in for a second running at Western States, but I'm not disappointed that I didn't.

I am formulating a plan for events I want to participate in for 2010. I think the first big one on the list will be the Peak Snowshoe Marathon on March sixth. I like to have something on the horizon to work toward. So I need to get my long runs started up again. I'll get one in on either Monday or Tuesday this week. I'm looking forward to it.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

New Training Cycle

December 1st was the official first day of my new training cycle after taking a full two months off from training. I did run and bike during those two months, but took it very casually and just enjoyed myself. I have to say, after putting in a few days of good work I am glad to be back at it! It feels good to see the wooden clothing rack in my room covered with sweaty clothes in various stages of drying out for re-use. It's nice to have a little ache in the calves and hamstrings at the end of the day.

Today I left for my run in warm temperatures and pouring rain. I ran the Spec Pond Loop, which is about 7 miles of pavement and old dirt roads. I normally don't check weather forecasts unless it will make a difference in my day's plans, so I was very surprised and happy to see the sun break through the clouds after a half hour of running. I was almost dry by the time I got home.

A few days ago I decided I should time my runs and keep an eye on my pace to stop being so lazy. This was prompted by a few comments from my sister about our slow pace when I ran with her a week or two ago. I didn't remember to time myself today until the last mile. I tried to hold the same pace I had done for the previous 6 miles to get some idea of how I had paced through the entire run. My last mile on pavement was 8:26. Not very fast, but not totally embarrassing. This felt like a relaxed pace, I definitely wasn't pushing. So I don't think I'm all THAT pokey right now. It's a good starting point for this training cycle. But more important than my fitness level starting out, is the fact that I am healthy and un-injured now.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Stress Relief Run in the Snow

Suddenly I have family members, loved ones, and a dog in crisis. It is stressing me out! All I can think of to do about this is get out in the woods and run. Yesterday I drove to Vermont to help out my daughter the best I could, which wasn't a whole lot. I planned to stop on rte 302 on my drive back and run an out and back on the Davis Path. I soon figured out that I was running a little behind schedule and wasn't going to make it to the trail head before dusk. I ended up stopping outside of Bethlehem, NH and running snow mobile trails instead.

It actually turned out to be quite nice. It was my first run of the season that I ran on snow. This stuff was wet and slushy, the kind that wicks up your tights and soaks you up to your knees. I ran about seven or eight miles of it, the second half in the dark. Of course, I didn't have a light. Even if I do bring a light I rarely use it. I really don't need to see much in order to stay on the trail. There was a hazy full moon casting a tiny bit of light onto the snow last evening and it was fine running.

There is nothing like breathing that cold air out and in, while chanting "out with the bad, in with the good" to clear the head. By the time I got back to the car I was feeling pretty relaxed!

Then I got home and found my dog was in worse shape than when I had left and the stress came crashing back. Maybe I should have done 16 miles instead of eight. Anyway, I'm off for a nice run this morning and then I'll be ready to deal with more stuff. As always, I am very thankful for my love of running and my love of the outdoors.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Speed Work?!

I don't know what got into me this evening. I just got back from an unplanned speed workout. This is remarkable given the fact that I haven't attempted any fast paced running in many months due to back problems. I haven't done a true speed workout on the track in several years. I planned to do an indoor cardio/strength workout for a second workout today, having done a short run this morning, but I just felt like getting outside for a run instead.

It was getting dark and I didn't bring a light so I left the trails after a few miles and was going to do some loops around the school fields. The next thing I knew I was timing myself for a 220 on the track. It felt awesome to open up my stride and push off like I meant it and breath hard. I ran the first 220 in 42 seconds. When I looked at my watch I yelled out with excitement, "Hey! I've still got some speed in these legs!" I ended up doing 2 X 220, 2 X 440, and 2 X 220. The 220's were all between 42 and 44 seconds. The 400s were 1:34 and 1:30. I jogged a 220 between each repeat. Every time I looked at my watch I caught myself smiling a big happy smile. Running fast is fun! I had kind of forgotten that.

Granted, this isn't much of a track workout. I only did a total of one mile of fast paced running. But the point is, I ran sub 6 minute pace and my body held up fine. I am feeling pretty happy right now!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Goals for 2010

Amy and I ran a nice 9 mile loop from my mother's house in Limerick today. We started on an old discontinued dirt road through some really nice woods. When we hit pavement, I had a vague idea where we were so we were able to make a good loop returning on paved roads instead of doing an out and back. We both hate out and backs.

I have been thinking about some goals for 2010. They aren't all running related, just adventure goals. I still have to work it out on the calendar and see if they will fit, but here they are in no particular order...

1. Run my two favorite races, Nipmuck Trail Marathon in the Spring and Mt Pisgah 50K in the Fall. And be in good enough shape and healthy enough to enjoy them both.
2. Complete a snowshoe marathon this winter.
3. Finish the Vermont 50, but do it on the mountain bike this time!
4. Try rock climbing.
5. Run a one hundred miler. It will be Western States if I get picked in the lottery by some miracle, otherwise I'll do Vermont.
6. Run my namesake race one more time, The Laurel Valley.
7. Do a solo Pemi Loop.
8. Run the 30th edition of the Maine Track Club 50 Miler. This is a road race, and the site of my 50 mile and 50K PRs. Roads are tough on my spine these days, so this is going to take some preparation! No, I'm not going to try to beat my PRs. I'd be very happy with an hour slower than my 50 mile PR or 30 minutes slower than my 50K PR.
9. Work on my core strength and my flexibility, which will both do wonders for my poor old spine and maybe give me those much coveted six pack abs.
10. Finish summitting those last few 4000 footers.

Yay, bring on the next year of my life! I feel like it is going to be a good one.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Exploring Trails

I explored some new trails on yesterday's run. I ran on the opposite side of the Ossipee River from where I usually run. Kevin had spotted and started to explore these on his bike last weekend and I had been looking forward to getting out there for a look. As often happens when exploring trails in a settled area, I eventually popped out of the woods in some one's back yard. I know snowmobiles go through there in the winter, so there has to be a way to continue on. I couldn't figure it out. I pushed on for a while in the direction I thought the trail should continue, but lost the trail and ended up bushwhacking back out to the road. The exploring part of my run was done at a very casual pace, stopping here and there to think about which direction to go and walking some overgrown areas. I ran home on the road, trying to pick up the pace a little for that stretch.

It strikes me as interesting that I found that run very entertaining. Years ago when I went out for a run I just wanted to run. I would try out new trails and if they were good running I'd be happy because I had a new route to run! But if they turned out to involve back-tracking or bushwhacking, or if they got so messy that I had to walk over stretches, I would get very annoyed thinking I was wasting time and ruining a good run. I was way too serious about the whole training thing! Yes, it's good to have a plan and a direction to head in with daily workouts and runs, but if things don't go as planned it's nice to be able to just make the most of it.

So I didn't do a lot of hard work on my run, but I spent some good time out in the woods on a beautiful sunny Fall day. I loved it. I did a double strength workout later in the day to make up for my weak excuse for a run. I did my planned arms, abs, and back, but also did my leg workout. I'm feeling it this morning!

I'll be heading out into the rain in an hour or so for a nice soggy run. Then I'm thinking about putting my road bike on my resistance trainer. I pedal hard, not fast when I use the trainer and think of it as strength work, not cardio. So it will be another good leg strength workout. It's never too early to start thinking about snowshoe season!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


This morning I went to see an acupuncturist for the first time in my life. I had to do something about my aching right arm. It has been bothering me over two months since falling while mountain biking at the Kingdom Trails. I have avoided seeking help from my regular doctor because I imagined this would lead to a referral to an orthopeodist, X-rays, an MRI and the eventual reccomendation to avoid using my arm until it healed. This would mean no biking and no skiing! So I chose to avoid seeing my doctor.

I spent over two hours with the accupuncturist this morning. The practitioner, Susan explained the theory of how accupuncture works, where and how it originated, and how it could help me. After taking an extensive history she let me know that she wasn't going to be just treating my arm, she was going to treat my entire body, including my spinal problems, my hormonal issues, my low energy levels, and my heart arhythmia. (Man, I'm a mess!) She explained that it is all about opening blockages in my Meridians. I'm still not sure why sticking a needle in a certain spot will open a blockage and I never knew I had meridians. But my arm was killing me so I told her to have at it.

She stuck me full of needles, all the while explaining what she was doing and why. I didn't find it painful at all. She definitely hit some spots that caused strange sensations in my arms and neck. When she started my arm was killing me. By the time she was done I had absolutely no pain in my arm. I waited for the pain to return on the one hour drive home. Driving has been one of the things that has consistently agravated the arm injury. All the way home I had no pain. When I got home I changed and went out for a one hour trail run. My energy was great, even after running long yesterday.

I don't think I'm completely mended at this point but things are much better. I go back next week for more treatment. I'm one of the biggest skeptics alive, but I'm giving this a fair chance and so far it seems to be working.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Longer Run than I was Ready For Today

Today I drove out to North Conway to meet my friend Mary for a late morning run. We ran on the tote roads and trails off of Town Hall Rd. This is a nice area to run as it is out in the mountains and has plenty of climbing, but the climbing is all runnable. We should have talked about distance before we started, because after a few hours I realized we were still headed out and away from the car. I hate to be a spoil sport so I didn't voice my concerns, but I haven't done a long run since my recovery phase started about six weeks ago.

I started to slow down and Mary kept asking things like, "did you remember to eat breakfast this morning?" and I'd say, "yeah, I'm just out of shape." Then a few minutes later, "Do you think you might be anemic?" and I'd say, "No, I'm just out of shape." Then from Mary, "Is your back bothering you today?" with my reply, "No, I'm just out of shape." This went on for a long time. Mary had a lot of theories about what was causing my lagging pace. Finally I had to grab Mary by the shoulders and shake her a little while I yelled, "I'M OUT OF SHAPE!" I think she finally got it, because a few minutes later she suggested we turn around and head back.

The beauty of running this out and back course is that back is down hill, but I was breathing hard and struggling even on the downhill. It was hard, but it felt good to get it done. Mary even had the decency to pretend she was also tired at the end. What a friend. I don't feel any worse for wear, just a little humbled. I'm not sure how far we ran I just know it was too far for me right now. I guess it's time to get training again!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Short Rainy Run in the Middle of a Long Day

Today was an extremely stressful and busy day at work (not done yet), but I managed to squeeze in a quick 3 miles on the Standish Rails to Trails in the pouring rain. I had to show up for my afternoon visits with soaking wet hair and no makeup left on my face, but all my clients were too polite to mention it. That little run made my day! I love running in the pouring rain, it is so cleansing and refreshing!

Tomorrow looks like it will be just as bad at work, but as long as I can get a run in I think I'll survive it!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Hilly Road Run

This morning I ran a nice 8 mile out and back on Dundee Road in Intervale, NH with my friend, Mary. Dundee Road is extremely hilly! The way we run, we do most of our climbing in the first half, then cruise back on mostly downhill. We started out and ended on pavement, but the middle three or four miles were dirt. If I'm going to be running on pavement, I'm going to have to get some different shoes. My Trail shoes don't offer much cushioning on hard pavement.

As always, we wasted a lot of precious energy talking and laughing. As loud as we were, there was no danger of being mistaken for deer by hunters. Mary is so loud and cheerful that people in their yards stop what they are doing and shout out good morning to us. People don't do that to me when I run alone, so I know it's Mary's boisterous personality that causes this to happen. I think it is very nice that Mary can cheer up people she doesn't even know while she is out on her morning run.

Usually we hang around and visit (and eat a lot of junk food) after our run, but today Mary had things she had to do with her kids, who were out of school because of some sort of teacher's workshop. So I drove a few miles over to Sticks and Stones and rode my mountain bike for a couple of hours. Now I'm tired! This afternoon has been set aside for "reading," which means I will lie down, open a book, read a sentence, and fall asleep for a few hours.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Another Great Running and Biking Weekend

I had two wonderful days on the trails this weekend. Saturday I rode and ran on the FOMBA (Friends of Massabesic Bike Association) trails in Manchester, New Hampshire with Kevin. Kevin designed and built several of these trails and worked on maintaining many of them. He has ridden all of them hundreds of times. He knows them like the back of his hand. This was nice for me because he could help me prepare for things before we actually got to them. For instance, he would call back "There's a little log hop ahead but you can get over easy," or "Get up some speed here because you have a steep little climb just around this corner," or "up ahead we ride over a stone wall to get to the next trail" (which was my cue to get off the bike and walk it!)

These trails were built specifically for mountain biking, which means you start at one end, twist, turn, curve, climb, and descend, over and over again for what seems like miles, only to come back out 20 feet down the fire road from where you started. With mountain bike trails, there is no destination and it's not about covering distance, it's about experiencing the trail. Two feats of accomplishment for me at FOMBA were doing the rock jump a few times and riding down the log roll. These things seemed impossible to me when we were there a few months ago.

We rode almost all of the trails that were within my ability range. This left two more difficult ones, Fireline and The Long Trail. We detoured back to the parking lot where we stowed my bike and gear, and I changed into running shoes. Then Kevin biked and I ran those two trails. Fireline was awesome for running, requiring a lot of leg strength to get up hills and over rocks and around curves and in and out of little dips, all after already riding the bike for a few hours. I loved it! Next was Long Trail. By then my quads were begging for mercy. But I enjoyed the Long Trail even more. I think it was the more difficult of the two, and I would have had to walk some stretches of this one if I had ridden the bike instead of running. After several weeks of easy recovery running, it felt great to have that familiar fatigued and quivering quads feeling! I ran hard for about six miles total. When we got back to the fire road Kevin asked how I wanted to run back to the parking area and I said without any hesitation, "which ever way is shortest!" Wow, what a leg workout!

Sunday we rode in North Conway. We are still learning those mountain bike trails. There is a map, but it is entirely different from what is actually out there. I'll post more about this area at some point. I'm sure we will be riding them a lot in the future because they are so close and because they are so fun! Some stretches require perhaps a bit more skill than I currently have on the bike, but if I'm going to continue to improve I have to go beyond my comfort level a little. On Sunday I was tired from the day before, which made me clumsy on the bike. But I survived the experience with only one new bruise and no blood at all.

Today will be a trail run day and I'm already dressed and ready to head out. I am loving Autumn in the woods in New England. Life doesn't get any better!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Cure for a Bad Day

Yesterday I had an all around crappy day. Days like that happen now and then. Late last night I was laying in bed wide awake, reliving every one of those many trivial and not so trivial things that didn't go right. They all added up to be one lousy day. I worked my way backwards through the day, dwelling on each little thing because it was late at night and that's what I do when I can't sleep. I thought...too much wine before bed (who could blame me after such a crappy day? but now it was keeping me awake and would make me feel crummy for work)... disagreement with someone I love (I probably over-reacted, why am I so sensitive?)... being late for my last appointment of the day due to traffic (I shouldn't have stopped to chat with a co-worker before heading out)... speaking up at a meeting at work and being misunderstood (I should have worded things more carefully)... client interactions that didn't go well (I have to remind myself they are sick. They deserve more understanding and patience from me)... forgotten lunch (it was right there packed and ready to go)... spilled coffee (shouldn't be driving, drinking coffee, and looking at my pager at the same time)... broken sunglasses (there's a reason I shouldn't throw them down in the driver's seat when I get out of the car)...

I finally reached far enough back in the day to remember my terrific run on the Osippee Trails first thing in the morning. I lay there in bed and relived the run in my mind... the sound of the river, that nice chhhh, chhhhh, chhhhh noise my feet make in the fallen leaves, spotting the same owl twice at different points on my loop, dozens of deer tracks on the benched trail, and wild turkeys scooting across the trail in a panic as if i was going to plow them down. What a fantastic way to start the day. Remembering my run helped me see that the day wasn't a complete wash out. I could finally close my eyes and get some sleep. I was able to get about an hour of sleep. Yay for running! I'd better get back out there this morning to make sure there is something good to think about tonight in the rare case that I have two bad days in a row!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Passion has a few different definitions. If you read romance novels, you probably think of the word differently than I do. I don't read romance novels and I'm just not all that romantic in general. So the definition I think of is..."Passion is a lively or eager interest in or admiration for a proposal, cause, or activity."

Yesterday I ran the same 5 miles that I have been doing on my run days. yesterday was supposed to be a day off from running on my rest and recovery plan, but the running is feeling good and I wanted to do it. I'm definitely not pushing it. I'm keeping it low mileage and at a fun pace. I'll run again today. I'm getting my running habit back and this makes me happy! The mountain biking is very exciting for me also. I feel passionate about both of these things!

Yesterday afternoon Kevin and I went out on the mountain bikes. As we were getting ready for our ride, my neighbor John, who has been MIA for a few months, came over to talk. I had been wondering where the heck he's been. It turns out he was in a bad road bike crash in Cape Elizabeth and has been in and out of the hospital for a few months, staying with a friend in Portland between hospitalizations. He was looking with envy at my bike and I could tell he can't wait to get back on his. It's always nice to see someone who has a passion for some sort of activity. It doesn't really matter to me what that activity is. I just think it is so important to have something in life that you do just because it gives you joy.

There are people who seem to find this offensive somehow. These are the ones who say, "all you do is run," or "all he does is walk around in the woods all day," or "he is completely addicted to fishing." They say this as if there are better ways we should be spending our time. These are the same people who are spending 20 hours in front of the TV each week or going shopping, not because they need something but because they need something to do with themselves. I have been a runner for a long time and I have heard a lot of these types of comments, sometimes even from people who are very close to me. I have a difficult time understanding why.

Anyway, it was nice to see that gleam in John's eye as he watched Kevin and me ride away. I know passion when I see it. John will probably heal faster because of his desire to get back on that bike of his. And when he can ride again and he pedals off with a big smile on his face, there is bound to be someone shaking his or her head and saying in a negative tone, "Jeeze, he's so hooked on biking, even that bad accident won't stop him." But the nice thing is , there will be others of us standing there shaking our heads and saying in an enthusiastic tone, "Jeeze, he's so hooked on biking, even that bad accident won't stop him!"

Monday, November 2, 2009

Sunday Biking

Sunday, Kevin and I had plans to drive down to the FOMBA trails in Manchester, NH for some mountain biking and running.We knew these trails would be challenging for me to ride, but I was up for the task. The plan was that I would ride some of the less challenging trails with him and then run the more difficult ones while he rode. But Sunday morning presented us with the very sad and difficult situation of having Xena, one of Kevin's beloved cats, pass away. So neither of us were up for a trip to FOMBA.

In the afternoon we decided to get the bikes out and take a ride locally. It was just what we needed. There is something about mountain biking that completely absorbs all my attention. I can go out on the trails and run or hike, and my mind will wander. Traveling on foot allows me to mull things over and think things through. Mountain biking is different in that it completely grabs every bit of my attention while I am doing it. If my mind starts to wander while I am biking, I usually end up getting hurt. My mind has learned not to wander!

The day was beautiful with sunshine and perfect temperatures for biking. It didn't take long before we both felt happy and started to enjoy the ride. We rode the single track and then went through the fairgrounds and onto the snow mobile trails for a while. I am trying to improve on some of my skills, so I like to goof around lifting my wheels over things I could easily roll right over and trying to do little hops where I lift both wheels off the ground at once. At one point I tried to do a bunny hop over a puddle and landed in the middle of it, giving Kevin the idea of splashing me in the same manner. Kevin can do a heck of a hop on the bike so I got a face full of water from that. He felt a little bad about splashing me more thoroughly than he had planned, but it just made me laugh.

I was also trying to learn how to jump off of things and I said out loud that I needed to find some sort of ramp to practice on, since jumping off of rocks or little bumps in the trails wasn't doing it for me. I babble away constantly when I am absorbed by something I am doing. I really don't know I'm doing it or that anyone is listening to what I'm saying. So later,when Kevin led me behind the elementary school and started dragging boards around, it took me a few seconds to recognize a jump ramp was being constructed. I immediately went into little kid mode. Let me tell you, jumping off that ramp on the bike was FUN!!!

This morning will be running and lifting. The sun is out, but it is cold! So I'm waiting a bit before I head out. I am tempted to run a little farther today than I have been running. But at the same time, this low mileage and every other day running is really working for me. I feel very rested and I am excited about my runs! I want to get back to 100%, both mentally and physically. I think I'm already there mentally, but physically I could use another month of recovery from a difficult season of training and racing and injuries. I think discipline works both ways for a lot of us. We have to be able to push ourselves when it is called for, but we also have to be able to hold ourselves back when it's in our best interest.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Age Groups

Yesterday,I stumbled on a blog posting about a recent road ultra. The guy basically said that there were no other fast guys in the race. I was upset by that because reading the list of finishers I saw some impressive names. Many of these runners had run much faster than this guy was currently running! (I have run faster than this guy is currently running!) We did it when we were his age and we are older and slower now. It seemed disrespectful. I wanted to post a comment telling him to do some research on some of these not-so-fast ultra runners. Instead I clicked out of there and vowed never to go back. But it got me thinking.

When I turned 40, seven years ago, I refused to acknowledge the change in my age group category in races. I believed it would encourage mediocrity. I could run slower and still win my age group, but if I wanted to place overall I had to haul ass. For several years after entering my forties I continued to run well in the open division, still winning races now and then. But over the past couple of years, injuries that have been nagging me for many years have started to take a toll on my speed. I guess this is what aging is, wear and tear on the body having an accumulative effect on one's physical abilities. I do know runners who are fast into their 50's and beyond. The ones I know, started running later in life and just have less bodily wear and tear accumulated.

I remember running speed work on an indoor track one winter with a group of speedie guys in their forties and fifties. I was about thirty at the time. They had all seen faster running days, but were still pretty competitive on the local road race scene. On one of our cool down runs the subject of age related slow down came up. They all agreed that it wasn't a gradual thing over many years, instead it was an injury or series of injuries that the body just couldn't completely recover from. At some point, they had suddenly each found themselves not as fast and flowing as they had once been. At the time I was thinking "what a bunch of pansies," because I was thirty years old. NOW I understand what they were talking about!

The last issue of Trail Runner Magazine briefly touched on the issue of becoming a "shuffler" with age. The magazine claims this can be avoided, or at least curtailed, by doing regular speed work. I believe there is a lot to that. Running fast forces us to open up our stride and run efficiently, yet powerfully. I haven't done any fast running in a long time due to spine injuries. I don't even push off anymore! I just kind of roll off the ball of my foot in a lazy half-hearted manner. I have become a shuffler!

I'm still out there and still enjoying running as much as I ever have. I can't remember the last time I won a race. Top ten is starting to sound pretty good to me! Sometimes I think I would be happier to just stop racing all together and just run on my own and with friends. But I love the social aspect of racing. Another option is to start racing for that good old age group win. But that's a hard pill for me to swallow. Maybe when I turn fifty!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

My Shuffle is Becoming a Stride!

What a beautiful day, with sunshine and temps in the high 40's this morning. I ran 5 miles of single track on the Ossipee River Trails. I ran the same course two days ago at 9 minute mile pace. Today I ran at the same effort but did 8:30 pace. I felt great! When I got back home, I took a breakfast break and then headed back out on the mountain bike. I rode for about two hours at a relaxed pace, just enjoying the woods.

I feel like all the wear and tear and injuries from training and racing through the Spring and Summer are healing. My shuffle is starting to feel like a stride. Soon I might even have my signature bounce back in my step! I haven't been scolded about my inefficient bouncing style of running for a long time. If that ever happens again, I'll know I am back to 100% !

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Runner's Burnout Almost Cured!

This morning I received a delivery of 3 tons of wood pellets for heating this old drafty farm house of mine through most of the winter(I'll probably need one more ton before winter is over.) Before I set to work on hauling the 40 pound bags into the far end of the barn one at a time, I decided to take a run.I knew I'd be in no condition to run after I was done lugging 3 tons of pellets! And I WANTED to run!!!

Since Oil Creek, I've been running just about every other day and only doing 5 or 6 miles most of those days. I am a person who normally runs 6 or 7 days a week and puts in some good mileage. If you've been reading this blog, you may have caught on to the fact that I was starting to get sick and tired of running. I wasn't enjoying it and I needed a break! Plus my lower spine problem had been giving me right posterior leg pain since May. It isn't a lot of fun to run with pain. All this taken into account, I still couldn't get myself to stop running completely for a few months' rest. So instead I decided to cut way back on the milelage, run every other day at the most, and run at an easy pace when I did run. I decided to enjoy my new found love of mountain biking during this time and concentrate on developing my abilities and getting more comfortable on the bike. I am happy to say that after only a few weeks of this routine, I am well on my way to being cured of the dreaded "Runner's Burnout". An additional benifit is that my right leg pain is milder than it has been in 5 months. I will stick with this routine until the end of November. By then I should be aching to get out and run longer and faster and more frequently!

Today's run was 5 miles on the Ossipee River Trails. It took me 45:22 which breaks down to about 9 minute miles. No speed records there, but I felt fabulous and enjoyed every step of it! I followed the run with a full body workout, hauling pellets into the barn. Believe me, I'll sleep well tonight!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Run-Bike Routine

I've fallen into a nice routine of alternating a run day with a mountain bike day. This every other day of running is keeping the running fresh and interesting for me. The biking is just plain fun. I'm also doing 2 to 3 strength workouts a week.It's a very nice relaxed system for now.

Yesterday I ran for one hour on the local trails. I went slow and enjoyed the woods. The trees are loosing their leaves and the trails have a whole new look. I can see the river for much of the run, while before most of it was hidden by the trees. The air is cold and crisp with a hint of wood smoke from people's wood stoves and fire places. And my whole run is accompanied by the sound of my feet shuffling through the dry fallen leaves. This is a beautiful time of year here in Maine.

Today I did a few hours of mountain biking with Kevin after work. We had a lot of fun. We rode all the single track a few times, some of the snow mobile trails, and some of the school fields. We goofed around in the school parking lots, hopping up on curbs and jumping back off. (Kevin jumped, I kind of plopped down like a ton of bricks.) People who saw us probably thought we were a couple of over grown kids. I practiced some of the skills I am trying to learn like wheelies, hops, and jumps. This stuff is great fun! I fell onto the ground only once, (because the other time I would have landed on the ground,Kevin caught me). So I'm doing better with these things, or at least doing better with landing on my feet when I do have to come off the bike.

Tomorrow will be another run day and I'm looking forward to it.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Biking and Lifting Yesterday

My Bike

The benched trail. We call it "The Clencher" because it scares me! If you go off trail and down that slope on the left, you will be in the Ossipee River.

This is part of the Pollywog Pond Trail to the left with the Ossipee River on the right.

I got a good strength workout and an hour of bike riding in yesterday. The strength work still has to be modified because of the right shoulder injury I sustained on the mountain bike in the beginning of September. But at least I can do some lifting with that arm. Pull ups are OK, but push ups are impossible right now.

The bike ride was great. I rode on the trails Kevin and I have been working on. Some of the things that were challenging to me a month ago are easy now. Other things are still difficult or impossible for me. I have plenty of improvement to look forward to. It is very rewarding to work at learning something and be able to see the progress along the way. If I ever master this mountain biking thing I might have to take up golf or something so I can continue to have this feeling of being motivated to improve at something. Really, I don't think anyone ever masters mountain biking. A rider can always find new challenges and continuously develop his or her skills. This is a good thing because I really have no interest in golf.

Today will be a legs and back strength workout and an hour of trail running. I'm feeling very good and very well rested right now. I'm loving this "down time." I'm still managing to stay active, but relaxed about my fitness routine.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Yesterday's Run with a Friend

Yesterday,Mary and I ran for about 1 hour and 40 minutes on dirt roads and trails from her house near North Conway, NH. We have run together on Tuesdays for years, but this summer we haven't seen much of each other. She's been busy with family activities and has taken a bit of a hiatus from running. Now she's back at it.

Mary has been running as long as I have. We both peaked on the road racing circuit around the same time and were good competition for each other. Despite the tough competition we gave each other, We always got along well. I can remember many occasions where we would be battling it out in a race and still take the time and energy to exchange a few pleasantries before one of us blew by the other. Over the years we became good friends.

Any run from Mary's house involves a steady climb for the first half, then a turn around and a steady downhill back. We had a lot of catching up to do, so the miles went by fast. Mary keeps me laughing. She told me that when she runs road races these days, other runners come up to her after the race and pat her on the back and say things like, "good for you, Mary. You can't run anymore, but you're still out here trying." Her new method of avoiding these comments is to run races with her young daughter so people will assume she is slowing down for the daughter. The problem with this is that her daughter is getting hard to keep up with!

After our run we had a nice lunch at Mary's house. We took some time to write up a training plan for the daughter. If she follows it, she'll be impossible for Mary to keep up with by Spring!

Monday, October 19, 2009


I've been saying all along that once Oil Creek was over I was going to take a few months of NO training,just biking, running, and hiking for fun alone!There hasn't been a lot of actual rest so far, but I am having a lot of fun and feeling pretty relaxed.

This morning I did a short run on trails,then went out again a little later in the morning on the same trails with the mountain bike. These are local trails that Kevin and I have been working on. We just finished benching a steep slope above the river yesterday. Well,Kevin did most of the actual hard labor, but I did what I could considering my arms were still very sore and tired from lugging lumber Saturday at Bear Brook.

Running over the new bench was great. I used to have to carefully walk through this stretch while clinging to the slope with my toes. Now it is completely runnable! Biking it was a little too scary for me. The drop off to the river is very steep and I could imagine myself loosing my line, riding out onto the soft edge of the bench, and careening down into the river. So I believe I will continue to walk the bike over the stretch with the steepest drop off. At least with the new bench work, the bike can be rolled along, we used to have to carry the bikes through this stretch.

The other recently improved trail, Pollywog Pond,was great riding. I have already run on this trail a few times since we cleaned it out, but today was my first time riding on it. It has an abundance of tight curves that are a lot of fun to run through and take a lot of concentration and rhythm to ride through. There is only one curve that is just too tight to ride without putting my foot down. We might have to fix that one.

I have to admit that fooling around on the mountain bike has given me a whole new awareness of the work that goes into building and maintaining trails. As runners, we can get through almost anything. There are times that we'll say that a trail isn't runnable because it is so eroded, wet, or covered with blow downs and debris. Usually I either walk over these stretches or avoid those trails all together. On occasion, usually when asked by someone,I will participate in a trail maintenance day. But really, most of the time while running I don't give trail conditions a lot of thought.

Mountain biking makes me much more aware of the condition of the trails. Biking trails that are smooth and flowing is a lot more fun than hopping on and off the bike, lifting it over things, and slipping and sliding on loose washed out areas. The thing is, by improving the trails for mountain biking, they become so much better for running! So I am reaping the benefits of my efforts both on the bike and in my trail shoes!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Bear Brook Trail Day

Yesterday I participated at the trail maintenance day at bear brook State Park in Allenstown, NH. I hate volunteering for things and then finding they really don't have much for me to do when I get there. I was assured by Kevin that this would not be the case at Bear Brook. He was right.

The project for the weekend was to replace 3 bridges on the Beaver Pond Trail. About a dozen people, (mountain bikers) were on hand for the work. My job was to haul lumber out over the trail. Construction started on the farthest bridge out, probably about 3/4 of a mile down the trail from where we could get the lumber by truck. I started out carrying fairly heavy loads, but as I fatigued I carried a little less of a load. Carrying the lumber over a rough trail was exhausting,but a good hard workout. I hadn't gotten a run in before leaving for the event, so each time I dropped my lumber, I ran back. I figure I ran about 8 miles total. It was a beautiful brisk clear morning and the trail was very nice for running.I really enjoyed (and exhausted) myself.

After about 4 1/2 hours of steady work, we stopped for the day and had pizza for lunch. Then it was time for "the ride". Great, I hadn't saved anything for a mountain bike ride. Two women, who had also spent the morning hauling lumber, said they were going to ride slow and easy,not with the rest of the group.They advised that I join them.I was more than willing. But I was assured by another(whose name I will not mention)that I could keep up with the larger, (much more experienced) group. I did my best and managed to trail the group for a little while,but started to fall back and felt like everyone was waiting for me. It didn't help that I was completely exhausted from carrying lumber all morning, add to that the fact that these people had been riding for years and I am a beginner.I started to get pretty frustrated after a while.

At one point, when the group stopped to let me catch up,Kevin asked,"are you tired?" I snapped, "that's the stupidest question anyone has ever asked me!" I meant that as a YES! I guess Kevin understood, because he told the group that we were breaking off. The two women who had set off for an easier ride came up behind us and we rode with them the rest of the way,over some very beautiful and fun trails. My mood was immediately improved when I didn't feel pressured and rushed anymore. I actually loved almost the entire time I spent riding,only feeling irritated for about 10 minutes total.

The ride was followed by socialization, eating, and drinking around the campfire. It was a very fun and productive day. My body is feeling it today! Hauling lumber is something I might have to work into my daily routine. Just think of the strength I could build!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Oil Creek Aftermath

Sunday,the day after dropping from Oil Creek,Kevin and I went to a pub for a late lunch and "Camo Pants," a guy I had run some early miles with on Saturday and never caught his name, limped into the pub with his family. He said he had just finished. Holy Hell, would I have been out there until this late on Sunday if I had continued?! Camo Pants didn't look like he'd be able to run again for quite a while. That course was brutal! But I'm glad he finished. He had been pretty determined from the get go. For some reason,seeing that Camo Pants had finished didn't make me wish I had continued, it made me feel relieved that I hadn't gone on!

After lunch, Kevin and I went for a 3 or 4 mile walk on bike trails to stretch out my legs. On our way back, Kevin froze in his tracks while gazing through an opening in the trees and said in a dazed sort of voice,"do you see what I see?" As if in a trance, he left the bike path and walked through the opening in the trees and across the field. I followed. Kevin has an eye for anything that can be biked.He had spotted a BMX track with a kid riding loops over the course and was drawn to it like a magnet.

We stopped and leaned up against the fence,watching. Kevin explained how to get over the "rollers" and "skips" and how to work the "Berms"(not sure how you spell that one) and how to ride the "table tops." Yes,I had a bit of a vocabulary lesson as well as a biking lesson as we stood there. After we had watched for a while I said half jokingly,"we'll have to come ride this in the morning." and Kevin answered in a serious voice, "that goes without saying."

So that's how I found myself grinning from ear to ear as I rode my bike over a dirt BMX track in Titusville,PA two days after dropping out of the hundred mile race. Every time my wheels left the ground I let out a little Yip.I'm sure that isn't a cool thing to do while riding BMX, but I couldn't help it. The funny thing about riding a bike around a course full of bumps and curves and banks, is that it is as exhausting as it is fun. It gives a whole body workout, you don't just use your legs. It was extremely fun. After we were done, I couldn't help checking out the score board and noticing there weren't any women competitors my age up on the board. Damn, too bad I don't live in Titusville, PA. If I did,I could ride BMX and win my age group! I could show them that this 47 year old woman is not above having a childishly good time! Of course,I'd have to stop letting out those little Yips if I wanted to be taken seriously.

Back home I have been out for two runs on the local single track.I feel slow, but good! Today I did about 5 miles, taking my time and clearing some blown down branches from the trail as I went. This was followed by a good strength workout focusing on shoulders and arms. I followed that with the P90X "Ab Ripper," fitting name, as I feel as if my abs have been shredded. I plan to work on strength and base fitness for the next month or two. I'll keep my runs easy and on the short side,and remember to have fun with them! I'll also get some good biking in. Before long it will be time to get the skis and snowshoes out!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Oil Creek, (I'm tough, but it was tougher!)

It looks like only 6 out of the 17 women who started the Oil Creek 100, actually finished. I wasn't one of them! The overall finish rate looks to be around 55 percent, but only about 30 percent actually made it in under the official cut off time and only 3 women came in under the cut off. So it was tough on everyone. But I believe the reason so few women finished had to do with the isolation we had to face out in those damp, thick, dark, muddy woods. I went for over two hours without seeing a soul during several stretches of the race. The aid stations were all about 7 miles apart, and those seven miles were long and difficult and lonely. Crew could only meet their runners every 15 miles or more. I run alone in the woods all the time and I have even done overnight backpacking trips in remote areas all alone. I have never been afraid or uncertain out in the woods, even at night. But those woods were very dismal, I have no other word to describe it. The woods were very thick and dark and damp, even in the day light. I felt uneasy a good part of the time I was running.

The trails were tough! The race website claims the course has 17000 feet of climb. It was not mountainous like running at MMT or in the Whites, but it definitely had a lot of climb. Trails were muddy and slippery, and cut into the side of a steep slope for much of the course. The trails were very narrow single track and didn't look like they normally get much use. When a runner slipped in the mud, he was more likely to go sideways off the trail and down the slope, instead of falling onto the trail. The race website promised it would be relentless, and it was! climb, descend, climb, descend... all on that same slippery sloped trail.

On the first 31 mile loop, I started to realize that it was going to be slow going, and I wasn't going to get many miles of daylight running in. We started our first loop in the dark and I figured out that it would be dark again before I finished my second loop. The third loop would be done through the night, all in darkness. Then I would be running the last 8 mile loop Sunday morning (or afternoon?!).

When I finished my first loop and saw Kevin for the first time (crew access for the first time wasn't until runners had completed 31 miles)the first words out of my mouth were, "this is going to take a while." It soon became evident that it was going to take even longer than I originally thought. The second loop was much worse than the first. The trails had seen 300 plus runners come through and had deteriorated quite a bit. This second loop is when things got very lonely for me. I don't mind working hard and I don't mind being alone, but for some reason the slow progress and the loneliness of the woods started to get to me. When I finally came to aid station #1 on my second time through, I didn't want to leave. But I moved on eventually. When I finally came to the crew station about 14 miles into the second loop, I wanted to ask Kevin to drive me back to the hotel. But I kept running. I had plenty of energy and nothing hurt. I was actually doing pretty well, compared to the other runners in the event. I really didn't have any excuse to stop. I was still moving well when I came into aid station 3. I had some soup, chatted with the volunteers, and moved on.

About two miles later, it became very dark and very cold. Progress slowed to a crawl. I was half way over a slippery wooden bridge when I noticed an older runner picking his way over slippery rocks on all fours. This was a fifty mile runner still trying to finish that event! Suddenly I just stopped in my tracks on that bridge and said out loud, I don't want to do this. I could not fathom running through a pitch dark damp night with temperatures in the low thirties on those dank lonely trails. I just didn't want to do it.

Instead of continuing on for 5 miles back to the end of the loop, I ran the two miles back to the aid station and told them I wasn't having any fun and I was done. They didn't question my decision. They called for a ride and gave me a seat by the fire and sat and talked with me for a few hours until my ride arrived to take me back to the main aid station. They were wonderful people, not runners, but volunteers from some kind of mountain rescue organization. I got a ride back over a slippery muddy dirt road and surprised Kevin by coming up behind him. He was standing on the street corner before the main aid station with some other runners' families. They were all peering off into the dark saying things like, "he should have been here by now."

When they noticed me there, I said, "I'm tired, I'm cold, I'm not having any fun, I'm done!" Kevin admitted that he was relieved that I wasn't going to continue. The other people on the corner pointed out that I had a big smile on my face. I guess I was happy for the first time all day! I have not had any regrets about dropping out. This is my third DNF in a hundred miler, I've had seven finishes. This is the first DNF where I have not felt any remorse about dropping out, although it is the first DNF where I could have continued and finished. Go figure.

Recovery has been fast and I feel great. I only completed about 56 miles or so, and it didn't seem to wear on me physically. Like I said, I was feeling well and moving well when I dropped. Would I do Oil Creek again? Only if crew were allowed out on the course in more places and pacers were allowed to join their runners earlier in the event. Over all, it was a good experience. I ran hard and got over some tough trails. Maybe I should have toughed it out to the finish, but I feel good about my decision to drop.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

On My Way to Oil Creek!!!

I'll be leaving for PA in a few minutes, probably stopping to spend tonight somewhere in NY before finishing the drive tomorrow. This morning's email from race director, Tom Jennings warns of lots of bees, below freezing temps Saturday night, ice on the numerous wooden foot bridges, and lots of blown down trees on the trail from a big windy storm yesterday. Sounds like great conditions to me, trail running is supposed to be tough!

I'm very happy there is no rain in the forecast. I can run in the cold and I can run in the rain, but put me in a cold rain and there is a very good chance I will end up being treated for hypothermia somwhere in the middle of the race. It's happened a few times before.

This is a first time event and I have no previous year's times to look at to set any time goal for myself. I'm just going to go as easy as I can for the first 50K loop, and then go by how I feel after that. I figure I have had 3 training runs of over 60 miles since May, 90+ miles at MMT, Vermont 100, and Green Lakes 100K. I shouldn't have any problem finishing as long as I don't do anything stupid. My running and fitness is feeling good. I actually feel rested for the first time since MMT. So we'll see how it goes. Look for my race report early next week!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Taper Mode

This week is going to be a week of short easy runs, with the exception being a short tempo pace interval thrown into the middle of tomorrow's run. This taper for Oil Creek 100 is not stressing me out at all because I am READY to wind down and rest up. Oil Creek will be my last ultra event for a while. I need to rest, both mentally and physically after this event.

Don't get me wrong! I am feeling good about my upcoming hundred miler. I feel ready and I'm looking forward to it. I have to sit down tonight and plan the logisitcs... think about what to pack, wear, and have on hand during the race, and make travel plans. I know, the race is in 4 days and I should have all this done, but I don't like to over-prepare and over-plan. I find it makes me nervous, rather than excited. Plus, I've done enough of these things to have the whole preparation process pretty simplified.

Friday, October 2, 2009

My Current Favorite Running Route

This morning's run was 1 hour easy on the trails near the river. This is currently my favorite place for my every day runs. A while ago, Kevin and I cleaned out some overgrown and unused single track so we could use it for mountain biking. There was already some clear runnable double track back there. Using both, I have come up with a 5+ mile course that I am loving for my morning runs. I can easily add on extra for more miles when I want to.

About a week ago, I was surprised to find that virtually every single rock, root, and stump on the double track had been marked with fluorescent orange paint. Someone has been out there re-marking and putting up tape and flags ever since. I am guessing that Sacoppee Valley H.S. has a cross country team again and they are using those trails for their race course. Cross Country was cut from the budget over a decade ago, so it's great if it is, in fact, back! But I can't understand the over-marking of the trail. It takes away greatly from the aesthetics of the woods, and it is WAY over-done. I think they had to really look hard to find some of the hazards that they marked, things you couldn't trip over if you tried.

I keep hoping I'll run into who ever is out there marking up the trail so I can talk to him or her and figure out what the heck they are thinking! If it is the cross country coach himself, I will try the tactic of telling him that he is ruining his home team advantage by marking every trip hazard. Instead, he should have his team practice on the course and learn all the hazards ahead of time. Then let the other teams have to pick their way slowly during the race while his runners fly over the hazards! Really, I don't care that much about the home team advantage, I just hate to see all that paint in the trail. Funny that things like this disturb me.

Anyway, paint aside, the trails are great for running. I start from home on about a half mile of road, do a short steep downhill into the woods, then hit the single track. The single track is flat, narrow, and winding, with nice views of the river and the changing leaves. (Mr Fluorescent Paint has not discovered these trails yet). These take me out to the double track, which has a few steep short bumps, then a nice long climb up to the school fields. Near the schools, the trail is flat again, followed by a really steep down on rough grass followed immediately by a really steep and rough uphill. I do this section fast because it's fun to fly down the hill and let my momentum carry me back up the steep uphill. I pretend I'm on the mountain bike while I do this, even holding onto the imaginary handlebars at times. Probably all the kids are looking out the school windows at me while I do this, saying "look, here's the lady with the imaginary bike again!" Then I go back into the woods and finish up by repeating the nice single track section, climbing back out of the woods, and running the half mile of pavement back to the house. Whoo-hoo, I love this course!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Yesterday and Today

Let me give you an update on my chiropractic visit. As you recall, Dr. D. crunched and cracked and snapped my shoulder and neck on Tuesday and I was feeling better when I posted about my visit. Well, that night those shooting pains returned, only now BOTH arms were involved instead of just the right. Plus my neck was killing me. I toyed with the idea of going to the emergency room and envisioned myself in a full body brace for the remainder of the year. I got through a sleepless night and decided to try to work, despite the pain and my growing concerns that Dr. D. may have fractured a vertebrae or something. As the day wore on, the pain subsided. By the end of the day it was pretty much gone. I slept like a baby last night. Today there is just a dull ache in both deltoids. I'm still not sure I will be able to carry a handheld water bottle at Oil Creek, I'll have to wait and see about that.

This morning I ran for an hour on fairly flat single and double track beside the river. After 15 minutes of slow jogging, I picked up the pace to a heart rate around 160 to 165 and held it for 30 minutes. This was fun because I was on the winding single track we use for mountain biking. It takes a little courage to keep the running pace up while making tight curves and hopping over logs. I ran off the trail a few times when I over-shot a curve. It's important for me to keep my running fun and interesting, whatever it takes to shake things up a little... new trails, challenging hills, speed games, even a new pair of running shoes can do it for me. I followed this faster paced running with another 15 minutes of easy jogging.

The rest of the week will be fairly easy running for me. I will do an hour and a half medium long run over the weekend, and the rest of my runs will be less than an hour at an easy pace. Oil Creek is in 9 days. I plan to start as conservatively as possible and hold steady through the entire distance. My goal is a strong run and a finish, it doesn't really matter how long it takes me as long as I have fun and feel good. I really want to finish off this season on a good note.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Chiropractor Visit

Three weeks ago I fell on my mountain bike and injured either my shoulder or my neck. It's hard to tell exactly where the actual injury is, all I know is it gives me a stabbing pain in the upper right arm and shoulder which radiates down my arm into my first two fingers causing throbbing pain in the fingers and a pins and needles sensation at the tips of those fingers. But I figured it's an arm, who cares as long as I've got my two good running legs. Heck, the arm thing doesn't even effect my biking. The only thing concerning me is that it does effect my sleeping at night. So after another night of tossing and turning and trying to get comfortable, I broke down and called my chiropractor this morning. He was kind enough to fit me right in.

I have posted about my chiropractor before. He is a wonderful practitioner and has really helped me with many injuries over the years. But he takes "Holistic Medicine" to a whole new dimension. I have a scientific mind and can't seem to fathom a lot of the hocus pocus sort of things that he uses to help people with their various problems. I know from the testimonial of friends, he does help a lot of people with his off the wall treatments. This chiropractor, Dr. D, does have his critics. My Osteopath claims this particular chiropractor "shakes a rattle at his patients" to cure them. I haven't actually seen him do that, but he might.

I was a little early and got to read the various posters and brochures in the waiting room. This is fascinating reading material. One brochure talked about a mat you place under your food. This mat infuses your food with all sorts of energy, so when you eat the food you get super-energized. Another brochure talks about a mat you lay on. It vibrates until all your millions of cells are vibrating in perfect harmony. This is supposed to be good for you, I guess. Then there are the usual magnets, crystals, and copper rings and bracelets, (gotta get me some of those to give out as Christmas gifts). Percussion therapy sounded interesting, but I was led into the exam room before I read very much on that. Basically it seemed to involve drumming on a person. I didn't read far enough to discover what the health benefits are.

Once in the exam room I started snooping around and immediately found the "Color Therapy Eye Glasses." These brightly colored plastic eye glasses each had a description of what they would cure. Apparently, one only has to look through them and Wah-lah, instant cure. The red ones would help the lower back and any digestive disorders. The orange ones were for sexual energy and reproductive health (not sure if you are supposed to wear them during the act or not.) I was just starting to read about the yellow ones when the good doctor came into the room and politely shut the cabinet that I was looking into.

Dr. D. isn't much of a talker. "OK, sit," or "face down on the table," are about the most I ever get out of him. I'd love to have asked him about the eye glasses, but he just isn't a chatty kind of guy. He worked on my neck for about 15 minutes and then did some stuff on my shoulder. It is pretty damned amazing that the pain and the pins and needles sensation in my fingers was completely gone by the time he was done. The shoulder still hurts, but it isn't traveling down the arm any more. On the way home my neck started hurting a lot, but he warned me it might. The test will be if I get any sleep tonight or not.

So the question is, is there any merit to any of these unusual treatments and cures that Dr. D and so many others practice? I personally believe in chiropractic and acupuncture, because I can understand the scientific principles behind them. Some of the other stuff is a little hard to swallow. But the thing is, this stuff makes people feel better. It takes away that feeling of being powerless and out of control of their health. Placebo effect is a real thing. It actually causes physical changes in a person. So I say more power to good old Dr. D. and his miracle cures. It would be better if Dr. D. sent his patients home with instructions to exercise and eat better, along with their copper bracelets, magnets, or vibrating mats. It would be nice if his patients walked out the door in their orange sexual health glasses with a new feeling of accountability and responsibility for their own health. But as long as he is helping people, who am I to criticize? Also, I have to admit, he is a hell of a chiropractor! My arm is feeling great right now.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Running, Biking, and Yard Work

Yesterday's run was a marathon pace effort run on single and double track in a cool rain. I felt great and surprised myself with a last timed mile of single track in 6:58! Today was a slow jog on the same trails and an hour and a half mountain bike ride later in the day. Now I have to get out there and rake up a bunch of apples that have dropped in the driveway before someone sprains an ankle. I'll try to do it with gusto, so I can call it my strength work today.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Last Few Days of Training

Friday's uphill treadmill tempo was a great confidence run for me. What we used to say about running on the track also holds true for treadmills, they don't lie. I was supposed to run at a 7% incline for 30 minutes at 9 minute mile pace. This isn't any where near as easy as it sounds, try it some time! I was able to hold pace without collapsing or falling off the back for 15 minutes, eased up for 5 minutes at 9:15 pace then finished with the last 10 minutes back at 9 minute pace. This kept my heart rate in my lactate threshold range for the entire time, around 168-172. I have been doubting my conditioning lately, but this workout went better than I expected and because the treadmill doesn't lie, I feel better about my current fitness level.

Yesterday was a quick and fun 40 minutes on single track and double track early in the morning. So early in fact, I went back to bed after I got back home. I'm just not cut out for that early morning stuff. Mid morning is my most energetic and productive time of day. When I got back up I went for a 3 1/2 hour mountain bike ride on the local trails. I had a lot of fun and felt very energetic during the ride. Because I was feeling so good, I tried a few little things that I probably shouldn't have and ended up on the ground a few times. On the way home, I even wiped out on the half mile stretch of sidewalk between the trail and my house. But it's all fun!

Today will be an hour at marathon pace effort. I go by heart rate since I don't want to run on the road and really have no idea what my current marathon pace would even be. I know marathon pace effort is a heart rate of about 165, just below threshold. Some day I may put in some speed work and run another road marathon just to see if I have any speed left at all. I'd have to decide I cared enough about it to put in the effort. We'll see. Never say never.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Treadmill in September?!

I haven't been posting much lately. The weather has just been too nice to spend time sitting at the computer. I have been getting my runs in and feeling... not great, but OK. My mileage is actually up where it should be, which surprises me because I don't feel like I have been doing enough training. I have Oil Creek 100 in two weeks and as always going into these things, I wonder if I am ready for it. Ready or not, I'll give it my best shot.

After Oil Creek, I plan to take a little time off from running to re-group. I'll bike and hike and do my strength workouts during that time. I just feel like I need a mental and physical break from running. Then I'll start thinking about getting ready for snowshoe racing and cross country skiing.

Today I have an uphill tempo run planned. I'll do an outdoors warm up and cool down, but the tempo portion will have to be on the treadmill so I can do the prescribed pace at the prescribed grade. Yikes, who wants to get on the treadmill on a beautiful September morning? I'll do it, but I might have to put the treadmill out on the front porch. I'll let you know how it goes!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Weekend Mountain Biking and Today's long run

Over the weekend Kevin and I mountain Biked at Bear Brook State Park in New Hampshire, the site of my first real mountain bike ride a few months ago. There were a few differences between that first ride and the ride I went on over this past weekend. For one thing, my first ride was on a borrowed bike. I have since purchased that same bike and don't feel quite as bad when that bike slams into the ground or into trees and bushes. For another thing, the bike didn't really slam into the ground or into trees and bushes all that frequently on this last ride, as compared to that first ride when I went home covered with bumps, bruises, and scrapes. I can see a lot of improvement, but want to be even better! I have never been considered a patient person.

I enjoyed the riding. The weather couldn't have been better. We started out on smoothly flowing trails with some really good climbs and a few obstacles that I could get the bike over without too much difficulty. For lunch we started up a difficult trail for just a short way and had lunch on some open ledges with nice views. I must have misunderstood, because I didn't think we would be continuing on that same hard trail. I just figured we'd go back the short distance we had come up that trail and continue on trails that I could handle. But after lunch, Kevin forged ahead and, ever willing, I followed.

This trail had sharp uneven rocks sticking up all over the place. I pushed the bike for about 50% of my time on that trail. This is something I haven't had to do much on past rides on easier trails. Kevin rode right over and around all the deadly looking rocks, leaving me muttering and swearing in frustration. This trail was so rough that I was thinking it would be almost impossible to run on, let alone bike. I can't remember the name of the trail, I refer to it as the Sucky Trail. Eventually we got off of it. Kevin asked, "that was a little challenging, wasn't it?" And I replied, "not challenging, it sucked." I am determined to go back there next year and ride the Sucky Trail with a minimal amount of time off the bike and no muttering and swearing.

The next trail, The Chipmunk Trail, was "challenging" for me and I enjoyed that one a lot. I really do enjoy a challenge... to a point. This one had some tough sections I had to concentrate on and work at getting the bike through. I was doing pretty well, so when I saw Kevin gently lift his front tire up onto a natural stone step and then easily lift the back tire up onto it as he continued along, never missing a beat, I decided I'd try to do the same. Now, I know I can't get my bike up onto something like that, but Kevin made it look so easy I had to try. I was so surprised when my bike actually got up onto the step, I didn't know what to do next. So I lost control and started riding off down a bank into the woods. Luckily, I remembered the brakes and used them. Looking up, I saw Kevin had chosen that moment to stop and wait for me and he was a short distance up the trail looking back. What do I do in a potentially embarrassing situation like that? I find it is most effective to just smile and wave, as if to say "I did that on purpose."

We finished up on "little Bear" which was a ton of fun because it was easy and fast. Just what I needed to end the ride on a positive note. I think Kevin has a good feel for that sort of thing. He likes to challenge me and make me work a little, but knows when enough is enough. Plus he probably didn't want to listen to me muttering and swearing the whole ride home.

Today was a beautiful three hour run on snowmobile trails. I have recently re-discovered these trails. I used to run on them about 15 or 20 years ago when I lived in South Hiram. They aren't exactly the same as I remember them being. They seem to have been re-routed. But the woods are just as nice as they were back then, very quiet and peaceful. There are some open areas for the sun to get through and a good variety of trees in various stages of growth. I love running these trails. My legs felt very good and it was an absolutely gorgeous Fall morning. I had just done my last long run three days ago, but I have a tough work week ahead and today was the day I had time for a long one this week.

I haven't been on my road bike in quite a while. If the sun stays out, this afternoon might be a good time for a leisurely scenic road bike ride.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Long Run

Today I ran 4 hours on snowmobile trails, ATV trails, and tote roads. I didn't feel like running long today because I was dealing with some personal stress having to do with a grown kid who won't move out and needs to. Anyway, I was feeling distracted and not wanting to run but knew if I did it would make me feel less stressed out. I kind of half-heartedly set out from home toward Parsonsfield. My legs felt fine from the start, but my mind wouldn't relax for quite a few miles. It took about two hours of steady effort, but eventually I was able to let it all go and just relax and enjoy my run. As always, I'm very thankful for the meditative properties of running.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

North Parsonsfield Trails

My last visit yesterday was with a woman in her 80's who had lived in Parsonsfield her whole life. As I was leaving, I asked her about trails or old dirt roads near by that I could run on. These elderly townies are some of the best sources for finding old unmaintained town roads, tote roads, and old carriage trails. Unlike some of my younger clients or co-workers, these older people don't seem to find anything odd about a woman going out to run in the woods alone. I'm not sure why.

This nice lady pointed me in the right direction and I had a great hour and a half run on hilly old tote roads and ATV trails. They led me to the familiar territory of the Leavitt Plantation, where I used to run when I lived in Parsonsfield a few years back. I also stumbled on some of Back Country Excursion's mountain bike trails, which are nice single track. I'm not sure if I should be running on B.C.E.'s trails since they are maintained by a business that is relying on those trails for a living, but I did explore them a bit.

My workout called for 2 minute "surges" and I did those on the dirt "Hasty Road" and on ATV trails. I didn't calculate the pace of the surges. Believe me, I don't want to know. All I know is that I got my heart rate up and worked kind of hard on those efforts.

Today's run was an easy hour on the local snowmobile trails. I was feeling the hills and the surges from yesterday. I think I'm going to need some time off my feet today with a good book.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Nice Long Run on South Hiram Snow Mobile Trails

After many weeks of no energy and feeling that my legs each weighed about a ton and not sleeping nights, I started taking estrogen and it seems to be working. I have had this estrogen problem in the past, usually when my weight drops below about 100 pounds. A woman needs a certain amount of body fat to produce estrogen. This is why anorexics often go into a premature menopause. Don't worry, the only eating disorder I have is over-indulgence. But because I tend to be very active I still have trouble keeping up with my caloric requirements at times (despite all the beer and burgers). I think now that I am keeping an eye on my weight, I will get it back to a healthy level and be able to stop the supplemental estrogen. For now, the supplement is helping immensely and I feel good again!

I was scheduled for a three hour long run for my last workout of the week. I ran on single track and snowmobile trails for a nice enjoyable run of about 19 or 20 miles. It was almost effortless, I felt like I was just floating along. It's been a while since I have been able to run like that! I had almost forgotten that I even liked to run. When every run is a struggle, it isn't much fun. I had even started to empathize with all those people who think running sucks. So on this long run, it was very nice to be loping along with a smile on my face, just loving every minute of it. Now I remember why I run!

This week I have back to back long runs scheduled. The Oil Creek 100 is in 4 weeks and I think I will be ready for a good run there. I'm looking forward to the next few weeks of training. I've got my running legs back and I'm loving it!