Saturday, January 31, 2009

Cobble Mountain Snowshoe Race

Today I ran the Cobble Mountain Snowshoe Race under sunny blue skies. Temperatures were in the high teens and there was just a slight breeze. The race took place at Gunstock Ski Area in Gilford, New Hampshire. It started out on wide groomed Nordic trails. This was a 5 1/2 KM race, which meant I had to push hard right from the start. With the wide trail there was plenty of room to pass and find my spot in the pack. I was pleasantly surprised that I was moving along at a good pace. In my first snowshoe race three weeks ago, I didn't have the technique or fitness level to do anything but watch in amazement as all the fast runners took off early in the race. Today I did a better job moving along with the faster runners. Of course, some of this change was thanks to having the right equipment. My new Dion Snowshoes made a big difference.

It felt like there was an awful lot of climbing in the first few kilometers, one hill after another. I thought to myself, "maybe this is Cobble Mountain and we are climbing it on these nice groomed trails one piece at a time with these nice flatter areas to catch our breath between the climbs. Sweet!" All too soon we turned off of the groomed trails into deep snow that had been tromped through only by the few dozen snowshoe runners in front of me. Wow, that was tough. Then we started to climb for real in that same ungroomed deep snow. I was behind a man who was taller than me and had a longer stride than me, so I had to stretch out my legs to step into his tracks. The alternative was to stride more naturally, and slip and fall into his tracks anyway. This climb was very steep and long and there was no question that this was the Cobble Mountain in the race name.

When we got to the top R.D. Chris Dunn's dad told me I was the second woman. During the entire climb up I could hear another woman behind me. She obviously had more energy than me because she had been making little quips about the climb and yelling out the occasional "Whoo-hoo" type of thing in appreciation of the climb. I decided to put some distance on her so I wouldn't have to duke it out with her at the end. I passed the guy in front of me and started flying down the hill as fast as I could in the deep snow. This was a little dangerous at times. I was sinking in so deep that it was hard to get my snowshoes to clear the snow with each push off. But I think I made good time down this technical descent.

We got back onto more firm snow and continued down. I could really open up and move through this section. I could hear the other woman, Liz Hall right behind me doing the same. We passed the 5KM mark and the trail leveled off. She pulled up beside me and started to pass. I told her she looked great, because she did! she was moving! We had a short steep hump to get over and I stayed with her to the top. Then we turned right and had about 100 yards of level packed straight-away to the finish line. It came down to every ultrarunners nightmare, a sprint to the finish! Well, she sprinted and looked darned good doing it. I kind of picked it up half a notch and was glad to find I could do that.

I am definitely doing better on the snowshoes. My quads are getting stronger and my aerobic conditioning is improving. These races are the hard fast paced stuff that my training has been lacking. I absolutely love them! And to have them be helping me reach my training goals is icing on the cake.

The finish, that's me behind Liz Hall. She had a much stronger finish than I did. .

Friday, January 30, 2009

I did an easy 2-3 miles of very slow snowshoe running on the local snowmobile trails with Bart this afternoon. It was just a relaxing jog as this is a recovery day. It was nice to get outside after dealing with tedious household chores all day. Then I did the good old ab-video workout. I have to say, it is working! My stomach is definitely looking and feeling tighter. I took the time to do a good stretch at the end of it all.

Week's Training Plan Out the Window

This week's training schedule was completely ignored. It started to fall apart when I decided to make up Monday's long run on Tuesday. That threw the whole week off. I did get good mileage and good training in this week, but next week, I'll stick to the plan.

Yesterday I ran 5 miles on snowshoes on BJ's trails. We had 12 inches of new snow and the trails were only lightly packed. It was good hard running. I took my pulse after running three miles and it was 180! That is right around my maximal heart rate. Then I did two more miles at an easier pace with my heart rate in the 150's. There was a lot of backsliding and some sinking in which felt just like running on loose sand. The trick is to ignore how slow I am moving forward, and just keep plugging away at a good effort. My leg turnover was fast, it was just the forward progression that was slow. I could feel how much I was working my quads and upper hamstrings, good stuff.

The new Dion racing snowshoes are great! They are much lighter than my Red Feathers and don't extend as far medially. So unlike with the Red Feathers, I don't start clicking the inside frames together when I get tired. I'm excited about trying them in the Cobble Mountain race tomorrow.

After my snowshoe run I helped BJ get the Max, the vehicle he uses for grooming the trails, back up the big hill to his house. On such deep loose snow it isn't an easy thing to do. The first time it got stuck, I started pulling the winch line up the hill to attach it to a tree and BJ said, "try pulling." So I dug in with my snowshoes and leaned back and pulled with all my strength and it worked! It was pretty cool! But I only had the strength for that one effort, after that BJ pulled some and we winched some. By the time we got it up to the house we were both freezing. I had been out for too long in sweaty clothes and BJ had been sitting in the Max for too long. We were both shivering and hopping around saying, "oh, my feet, my feet!" Pretty comical.

Today is a beautiful day. I will probably go out on skis or snowshoes, but I have to remember to take it easy. I have a snowshoe race tomorrow and have done intense workouts every day except one this week. Believe me, I feel it in every muscle in my body.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Treadmill Recovery Run

I had to run on the treadmill tonight due to heavy snowfall. I ran a very slow 3 miles. My legs aren't sore from yesterday's run and ski, just very tired in the quads. The recovery run did what it was supposed to, it stretched, loosened up, and pumped blood to the tired muscles. They feel better now than before the run.

After my run I did those hard-core abdominal exercises with my new workout video. I have never owned a workout video before. I pulled the blinds. I don't care if my neighbors see me working out, I just don't want them to see me working out to a video. It feels like such a sterio typed middle aged woman thing to do. I know, I have issues.

Then I did an intense upper body weights workout. I was just finishing up my last set when I remembered I had done a hard weight workout during the last snowstorm. Afterwards, I regretted it when it was time to clean up the snow and my arms were tired and useless. Oh well, I can't undo it now.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Long Run/Ski Revisited

Bailing out of my long run and ski yesterday was still bugging me this morning. So I waited until late morning for the temperatures to climb into the teens and headed back over to BJ's Mile Loop with my snowshoes and skis for another try. I brought extra clothes and my warmest Gortex winter hiking mittens. My hands did get cold about two hours into the workout today and I was thankful I had the mittens. This pesky cold hands thing gets worse every year.

I set up a little aid station and started out on my snowshoes. Things went better today. I did a total of 20 miles, snowshoe running at the beginning and the end and skiing hard in the middle. I felt very good and enjoyed myself. Every 5 miles I stopped for a snack and some Gatorade.

Around mile 15, I was feeling so good that I toyed with the idea of going for 26 miles and having my own little winter sports marathon. By mile 18 it didn't seem like a good idea anymore. The first 18 loops were very consistent, but the last 2 miles on the snowshoes were pretty slow. My legs were shot. The whole thing took me 3:25. It was an excellent workout.

When I got home I was excited to see that my new Dion Racing Snowshoes had arrived! I'll get to try them out on Saturday in the Cobble Mountain race.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Long Run/Ski Aborted

Today I went out to do 3-4 hours of snowshoe running and cross country skiing for my long run. I used BJ's "mile loop" which is a wooded trail that he has well packed and tracked for skiing. I started with a run of 6 miles on snow shoes and felt pretty good. I was doing each loop in around 10 1/2 minutes and thought that was a good pace. Temperatures were in the mid teens and I was comfortable with my 2 long sleeve tops, light weight fleece vest, winter running tights, hat, and 2 pair light gloves. My plan was to switch over to skis after mile 6 and do another 6 miles on skis, then finish off with a final 6 on snowshoes again.

I switched to the skis and enjoyed the first two miles of skiing. Then my fingers started feeling cold. I pulled my sleeves down over my hands the best I could and started the next loop. My hands just got colder and started going numb. By the end of my 5th mile on skis I had to call it a day. My hands were completely numb.

I can't remember ever having to bail out of a run for cold hands! I think my hands must have become sweaty and wet during the snowshoe running and then with the wind generated by skiing, they just froze up. When my hands started warming up again in the car, I had to pull over because they hurt so bad.

The long run is my key workout each week and I hate to have stopped after less than 2 hours. I may try to get it in on another day this week. My usual rule is that if I am following a training plan and miss a scheduled workout, I stick with the schedule and don't try to make up the missed run. But, in this case I might decide to break my rule.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Limerick Snow Mobile Trails

I found myself in Limerick at the end of my work day today. I parked my car at the end of a dead end dirt road and hit the snowmobile trails for my scheduled 1 1/2 hour run. I was a little apprehensive about tonight's run because I had such a crappy run yesterday. Luckily, it turned out to be just a one day thing because tonight I felt great.

The trails were well packed and firm, excellent running conditions! I headed out in the last half hour of daylight. Since I didn't know the trails, I decided to run out for 45 minutes and then turn around and come back the same way. There were several intersections and I just picked my route randomly. I turned around and looked back now and then for landmarks. The landmark idea turned out to be useless because I ended up running back in the dark, but I found my way back without any problem. The run out was pretty and peaceful and the run back in the dark was beautiful. It was so quiet out in the woods. The only sound was my feet crunching on the snow. Just as I was beginning to worry that I had taken a wrong turn somewhere, I popped out of the woods and there my Jeep was.

I had tied my key to the drawstring of my pants so I wouldn't loose it on the trail. When I got back my hands were too cold to untie the knot. After struggling with it for a few minutes, I just stretched out the drawstring as far as I could and drove home with my pants tied to the key in the ignition. I had images of getting stopped by a cop and having to explain. Luckily, that didn't happen.

Tomorrow is my long run day. The hour and a half today was the start of inching my way up to back to back long runs for 100 mile training.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

6 pack abs

I did a very slow jog this evening. I didn't feel sore or tired before my run so I was surprised how tired and heavy my legs felt when I started running. I must be paying for yesterday's skiing. I can't say I enjoyed my run, but I got through it.

I started a new abs workout tonight after my run. As with many runners, my abs are weak. I've been regularly doing a series of exercises with the stability ball, but it just doesn't seem to be doing much. So I did what any middle aged woman with flabby abs would do...I bought a workout DVD. Tonight I did back to back "10 Minute Solution" workouts for 30 minutes of intense abdominal exercises that almost made me cry. I think this DVD might be the answer! If my abdominal muscles hurt this bad I must be on my way to a six-pack stomach.

This was followed with my upper extremity weights routine. I probably should ramp this up a little, too. But I'll focus on one thing at a time.

Friday, January 23, 2009

1-2-3 Ski

Today BJ and I kept our January 23rd (1-23) yearly tradition of skiing at Bear Notch Ski Touring Center. The trails were in the best shape we have ever seen them. We started out on some of the easier trails and then progressed to the more hilly ones. BJ is a much faster skier than I am. I chase him for all I'm worth and still have trouble keeping him in sight. On one flat straight stretch he challenged me to a sprint race. I said "no way, I'm not racing you," as I accelerated and got as much of a head start on him as I could. I was half way to the finish line before he realized I was racing. He still won.

There was one great downhill stretch, smooth, long, and fast. After skiing down, BJ climbed back up twice more to ski down again and I climbed it once more for another ski down. We skied for about 3 hours, stopping to talk and take pictures along the way. When we were almost done for the day, we decided to add on one more small loop. It started with a moderate climb. BJ was up ahead of me. About half way up the hill I just ran out of energy. I finally caught up to BJ and announced, "I'm done." Then I stuffed 3 peanut butter cups into my mouth all at once, without even offering him one. I needed the energy and he looked like he was doing just fine. That's the great thing about BJ, I can just be myself and it doesn't phase him a bit.

We stopped to eat after our ski and then headed home. It was a fun and exhausting 1-2-3 2009.

BJ skiing

Thursday, January 22, 2009

treadmill calibration

I had a great run this evening after taking an unscheduled day off yesterday. I needed it. Tonight I ran 7 miles on the roads with 3 miles in the middle at about 7:50 pace. Temperatures in the 20's felt down right balmy after the cold weather we had last week. My legs felt fantastic!

When I came home I calibrated my treadmill. I have been suspecting that it is off by quite a bit. What feels like an easy pace on the roads was feeling fast and difficult on the treadmill. So I found my Daniel's Running Formula (the runner's bible back in the mid to late nineties). I remembered he had a few pages instructing how to calibrate a treadmill. I found the chapter and got out the tape measure, marking tape, calculator, pen and paper, etc. What a process! It involved measuring the belt to the nearest centimeter, timing 10 revolutions while running at a certain pace, and doing the math. I went through the process several times and finally got three consistent results in a row. So what I learned is that when the treadmill says I am running at 7MPH I am actually running at 7.3MPH. I can't believe I put so much time and effort into this tonight. If I heard that someone I knew had done this I'd probably tell him to get a life.

See what is happening? I am becoming one of those number obsessed runners. It starts innocently enough with counting miles and wearing a watch for runs, then before you know it I'm counting how many times a piece of tape passes beneath my feet while I run at a percise pace staring at my stop watch. Next thing you know I will be posting elevation profiles and satelite maps of all my runs.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Long Run on Messy Roads

Yesterday was my scheduled long run of 3 hours. Road conditions were pretty bad and I thought about skiing instead. But after shoveling snow for two hours, my arms felt like overcooked spaghetti. I was in no shape for skiing. So I strapped on the Stabilicers and headed out.

The road surface was about as bad as it gets for running, several inches of loose snow on top of slush and ice. My cleats just couldn't get through all that to get a solid grip on anything. So with every push off, I slid back half a step. I checked out the snowmobile trails but they were much too loose for running without snowshoes. If I was planning to run a specific number of miles for my long run I would have quit and gone back home. But since I was running for time I figured I'd just keep going and even if I only made it around the block in the three hours, I would still have my long run done for the week.

Because I had no pre-planned route for the day I had brought my cell phone with me. I have been known to wander off on a run and find myself twenty-five miles from home in need of a ride. The phone rang just as I got to the top of Deveroux Hill. It was BJ asking what I was doing. From where I stood I could see Towles Hill, where BJ lives, in the distance. So I told him I was running to his house if he was willing to give me a ride home. He agreed, so now I had a destination.

I stuck to the back roads and only saw 2 cars the whole run. The uphills were really frustrating with the back-sliding, but I just kept trudging along. I figured I was doing 15 or 20 minute miles on some of those long uphill stretches but didn't worry about it. Since I was running to BJ's and would be so close, I wanted to run over Hessian Hill . The views from this hilltop are fantastic. But the climb up Hessian Hill is Cornish's version of the Mount Washington Auto Road. Unbelievably steep and long.

When I got to the turnoff, I was pleasantly surprised to find that this was the only road in all my travels that had been plowed down close to the pavement and sanded. There are a few houses on this road and I wonder if they pay privately to have this road maintained so well. I took off the Stabilicers and ran up. This stretch felt great and the views from the top were breath taking. Then I ran back down and another 4 miles or so to BJ's house. Three hours of hard running for a whopping 15 miles. I had a nice hot shower and a good dinner before my ride back home.

Today was a warm up and cool down on the roads with my 3 miles of faster paced running on the treadmill. I'm totally beat. Tomorrow is supposed to be an easy run, but may need to be a day off. We'll see.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Snowy Morning Run

This morning it was 10 degrees, windy and snowing heavily. I would have used the treadmill, but I felt like running early and Dan was sleeping on the couch in the same room I have the treadmill in. So I bundled up and went out for a run in the snow. With the wind it felt colder than 10 degrees. There were about 3 inches of new snow on the roads and the plows hadn't been out yet. I wore my Stabilicers and the traction was great. Visibility was terrible for me, so I imagined that the few drivers that were out on the roads would be having trouble seeing, too. So each time I saw headlights heading my way I stopped running and stepped off the road onto the snow banking. This only happened a few times. I stuck to back roads and a short stretch of snowmobile trail for 5 miles at a relaxed pace.

After showering and dressing, I went back out to feed the birds and found that conditions had gotten worse. I'm glad I got out when I did. And I'm glad Dan was sleeping on the couch because it was fun to run outdoors in the storm.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Beaver Brook 5K snowshoe race

The Beaver Brook 5K was another great snowshoe event. Just over 50 runners competed, which is pretty remarkable when you consider that this race was put together over just a two week period of time. I started off with a 3 mile warm up on the road with my dog, Bart. Then I put him back in the jeep and promised I'd be back "really fast." I was trying to think positive, but I don't think Bart was convinced.

We started the race with a mad sprint across a field of light fluffy snow before taking a sharp turn onto the Cow Path Trail. After the race, my friend likened that run across the field to the mass start of the swim leg in a triathlon...hundreds of arms and legs flailing, water (in this case snow) churned up and flying everywhere, and competitors bumping into each other. My heart was racing through this first bit of the course, partly because of the effort and partly because I was afraid I'd fall and get snow-shoed to death.

Once we turned onto the Cow Path Trail there was the usual shuffling about for position. I saw almost immediately that I wouldn't be keeping pace with fellow Rochester Runner, Brian on this day. I had done pretty well staying with him on last week's Pooh Hill race, but this was a shorter and faster race. I feel out of my element with short and fast. I had glanced at the course map and in my mind it was broken up into 4 segments. First was a steady slight decline along the Cow Path. This was pretty well packed on both sides of the double track with loose snow in the middle. Through here I was already sucking wind, but holding a good pace.

The next section was the flatter Beaver Brook trail, which we followed to its end before turning around and coming back the same route. Going out, I was looking for the front runners on their way back because it would mean I was coming to the half way point. Finally, there they were. I couldn't wave or cheer much, this 5K business is really hard.

I was already exhausted at the turn around, but I told myself "who cares? It's just a little more than a mile to go!" I pushed hard through this next section back over the Beaver Brook Trail. I suddenly realized that I was just running, not really worrying about the snowshoe part of things. Maybe I was finally getting used to them!

We hit the intersection and turned back onto the Cow Path. The last stretch was payback for the downhill first stretch. I tried to catch somebody, anybody, on this last part. I had established a position in the first half mile or so and not given up or gained a place since. This was supposed to be a race and I wanted to do some racing, darn it! There was a short steep section where I finally passed the guy who had been in front of me. Then, of course, I had to keep pushing so he wouldn't pass me back. I heard grunts and gasps coming from somewhere and thought the guy behind me was trying to pass me back. But no, it was just me.

I actually doubled over with my hands on my knees after the finish, as if I had just run the 400 in the olympics. You gotta love it! These races are so much fun. As with all trail events, everyone is friendly and welcoming. Also, I love the fact that these races are so different from what I have been doing so I have plenty of room for improvement. And I love that snowshoe racing is making me work hard during these usually lazy winter months.

I took a 2 mile cool down out on the road with Bart. My legs felt so light and fast after taking the snow shoes off! My next race is in 2 weeks at the Cobble Mountain 5K. I can't wait!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Marathon Pace Run on the Treadmill

Northern New England is having a bitter cold snap. This evening temperatures were below zero by the time I was done with work and ready to run. A more rugged individual might have ventured out into the cold and dark, but I went with the treadmill again. I was scheduled for 3 miles at marathon pace. I ran 1 mile easy for a warm up and then 3 miles at 7:45 pace. My legs are much better today after stretching and using Icy Hot last night. 7:45 pace felt smooth and easy. I followed that with a half mile at full incline at about 9:30 pace and then a mile cool down.

Tomorrow will be an easy cross train day followed by a very cold 5K snowshoe race on Saturday. Last Saturday's snowshoe race was the first time in a very long time that I went beyond my aerobic threshold for more than a few minutes at a time. I'm sure this next snowshoe race will push me just as hard. I don't care too much about time or place in these races, it just feels good to get out there and work hard. I'm sure the training benefits are huge. Anything that hurts that bad must be good for me!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Recovery run on the treadmill

Wow, my muscles are sore! It might not have been all that smart to ski so long and so hard on my first outing of the year. But, it kind of feels good to be sore. When I think back to when I used to run at a more competitive level, I was sore all the time! I remember I used to come home from Wednesday night track workouts and have a hard time walking from the car to the house. Then I'd wake up during the night over and over again with my legs cramping up. Ahhhh, those were the days.

I really took it easy today. It was too windy and cold to run outside comfortably so I went with the treadmill. I really didn't want the neighbors seeing me run as slow as I needed to run today anyway, so the treadmill was a good choice.

I need to take the time to do a good stretch and self massage tonight so I can do my marathon pace running tomorrow without too much pain.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tempo Run

I got my half marathon pace (or tempo) running in this morning, but it was tough. My muscles hurt from skiing yesterday. I loosened up and felt better as I went. I am still surprised how slow I have gotten. I have been doing only long slow running for several years now, concentrating on ultras. But I kind of thought that if I wanted to I could still run fast. I guess speed is one of those "use it or loose it" kind of things. I still want to concentrate on ultras, but would like to get a little leg speed back. I'll keep at it and if I don't get any faster I can accept it.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Today's long run turned into a long ski instead. You'll notice that I do count nordic ski miles as running miles in my training. I don't do that for cycling or any of the other cross training I do, but skiing is very similar to running as far as training goes. I actually work harder on skis, getting and keeping my heart rate at a higher level through the workout. I'm no slacker on the skis!

I normally have a yearly membership at Jackson Ski Touring, but times are tight and I opted for the low budget, low frills, Five Fields in Bridgton today. There are some differences between the two places, other than the price. In Jackson you have a modern lodge with locker rooms, deluxe bathrooms, rental room, waxing room, and pro shop. The trails are impecably groomed to professional racing standards. There is a warming hut and an outhouse along the trail. The trail map is high quality and color coded. The trails are full of fast skiers in fancy outfits. I love it there!

At Five Fields there is a barn that is kept slightly warmer than the outdoors. There are some old skis leaning against the wall and I assume they are for renting if one needs skis. You put your 10 bucks in the cigar box and hit the trails. There are no tickets and no trail maps (today anyway, he might have some maps next week). There is a port-a-potty outside. The trails are well groomed in places, not so well groomed in places, and not groomed at all in places. There is no warming hut. The skiers on the trails are of all abilities. I was the only one in fancy skiing clothes. You must allow plenty of time to talk with the owner before and after your ski because he is a nice and friendly man. I love it there!

I skied for 3 hours and worked hard the whole time. I hit all the trails a few times and then finished by doing figure eights around the apple orchard for the last hour. Each figure eight was 2 or 3 KM and had two good climbs and two descents. I tried to do each one faster than the one before. Then I staggered back to the car, talked with the owner for about an hour, and headed home. Now, if I could only get my aching body out of this chair so I can make some dinner.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

5 easy on the treadmill

Yesterday's race was so much fun that I added a few more snowshoe races to my race calendar. It was definitely good training. It took me outside of my comfort zone and reminded me what it is like to work hard. My legs aren't bad today, but I do have an overall general fatigue thing going on.

I am putting my long run off until tomorrow due to bad road conditions. Also, it gives me a day to recover from yesterday's snowshoe race. Since I plan to do another snowshoe race next Saturday I am adjusting this weeks training plan so I will do my next long run on Monday, too. Having Mondays off from work is coming in handy.

This morning I ran 5 miles at a relaxed pace on the treadmill. I felt surprisingly good and the miles went by fast. The only muscles that feel a little tender are my upper hamstrings and butt. Snowshoe running makes me lift my legs higher than I normally would and it really worked those muscles. I'll do the stability ball and weights tonight.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Pooh Hill Snowshoe Race

That's me, near the finish

The snowshoe race was awesome! It was around 8 degrees at the start, but I got good and warm within the first quarter mile. I worked hard! The race took place at King Pine Ski Area in Madison, NH. The course was mostly sheltered and wooded. The trail was about 50% nordic groomed and 50% ungroomed. There were plenty of small hills and one monster called Pooh Hill.

At the start I couldn't believe how fast people were running on snowshoes. They ran as if they were on bare roads running in racing flats. I haven't run in a short distance race in a very long time and I forgot how fast some runners can move! I tried not to get pulled along with the fast runners, but found myself in oxygen debt within the first kilometer. As soon as I recognized that I was working too hard, I reigned in my pace and got into a good rhythm. Before the race I had mentioned to Tom that I wasn't sure how to pace myself since I had never raced on snowshoes and hadn't run a short race in many years. He pointed out a woman who had run many of the snowshoe races last year. Tom told me to "stick with her, she knows what she's doing." Without even looking for her, I found myself running right behind her almost from the start. I followed her for the first 4km. She set a good steady pace which really helped me.

Early in the race I fell twice on ungroomed portions of trail. Both times I only went down on my knees and got right up again hardly breaking pace. For the first 6 km Brian, from my running club, and I traded places several times and exchanged a few friendly words between gasps for air. I stayed with Brian all the way up Pooh Hill and down again. Pooh Hill was ungroomed and steep. As far as I was concerned, It was unrunnable on the uphill. I did a strong march all the way up, passing a few other runners. Then there was a steep, sliding, scrambling, tumbling, fast descent down on loose snow. There were times when it felt more like skiing than running on that downhill! I just went with it and had a blast on that stretch. When we got to the bottom of Pooh Hill and back onto groomed trail, I saw Kathy just starting up and we yelled to each other. Then Brian said, "hey, that's Tom in front of us." When we caught up to him we figured out together that he had somehow missed the turn for the climb up Pooh Hill. I wished him well and pushed on.

With about 2k to go, Brian started pulling away. I wasn't feeling winded like earlier in the race, instead I was feeling total leg fatigue. Before the race I had talked with Dianne from my running club and we both said we wanted to run the entire race, only walking the uphill portion of Pooh Hill. So, despite the exhausted legs, I pushed on to the finish without walking. There were markers at each km and I was really happy to see the 7km mark. But the last km started to feel long and painful, where was the freakin' finish line? Then I remembered the race director had told us the course was actually 8 1/2 km instead of 8. Let me tell you, that extra half km hurt! I finshed strong and was happy to have run as hard as I could for the entire distance. It always feels good at the end of a race to know you couldn't have run any faster.

We stuck around for the raffle and awards. I won the woman's master division, which was nice, but in my mind I am still competing against the 25-year-olds so I don't consider it a real win. Then 7 of us went to the Poor People's Pub for lunch and beer. It was an all around nice day. I think I like snowshoe Racing!

Kathy, coming in with a smile.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Bike Trainer

I did my upper body weight workout and abdominal exercises on the stability ball this morning. This evening I rode my bike for 30 minutes on the stationary trainer. Pedaling my bike on the trainer always feels harder than riding it outdoors. I'm not sure why.

I'm looking forward to seeing my friends, Tom, Fay, and Kathy at the snowshoe race tomorrow. We are planning to go to lunch afterwards. It'll be a fun day. It is supposed to be very very cold tomorrow so I'll be bringing lots of layers!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Snow Shoe Run

I ran on snowshoes with Bart for an hour in the Box Shop woods this morning. The "Box Shop" was a factory that went out of business and left behind a big polluted mess. The town of Parsonsfield owns the land now and has done a lot of work to clean it up and turn it into a recreation area. I try to carry out a little bit of junk every time I go there.

I have been getting stressed out over this weekend's snowshoe race, even though I told myself all along that it was just for fun. While I was out this morning, I tried to figure out why I was getting nervous about the race. I realized that it was because I was trying something I had never done before and it was something I didn't think I would be very good at. Well, when I put it to myself that way, I saw how stupid those reasons were and I immediately stopped dreading it and started looking forward to it.

As for the snowshoe jaunt this morning, I worked hard and had fun. I am still a slow and clumsy snowshoe runner. To prove the point, my 14-year-old dog beat me back to the Jeep, I think he is something like 98-years-old in dog years. Notice how he tries to look so bored, like he has been waiting there for hours. Show off.

After the snowshoe run, I ran 2 of my scheduled 3 miles at marathon pace on the treadmill. After working so hard on the snowshoes, the treadmill really got my heart rate up! It felt like I got a really good workout in this morning. And I still have snow shovelling to do, yipee!
I took some time to look ahead at my work schedule and had to make changes in my 2009 race plans. I posted my new preliminary race plan in the right hand column. As with everything in life, it is subject to change.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

2009 Race Planning

I ran a quick 3 miles on the treadmill after work, followed by an hour of cleaning up snow and ice. There will be plenty more to clean up by morning, but I was trying to get a headstart on it. While I was out there in the sleet and wind, I started thinking about race plans for 2009.

Originally I had planned to try to get into Hardrock this year. But current finances won't allow that sort of travel right now. So I will run Massanutten 100 in May and then Vermont 100 in July. I'd like to do the Nipmuck Marathon between the two hundred milers, but I don't know if Dave will let me in. I spoke with him after Pisgah and he said he was going to be more selective in 2009 because the field was growing too big. I will run the MMD event in August. I am 1 for 2 at MMD and I need another finish to have a success rate above 50%. I want to run Pisgah 50K, Bimbler's Bluff 50K, and the Vermont 50 mile early in the Fall. If my ankles stay healthy and I can tolerate a road ultra, I would consider the Maine Track Club 50 miler in October. Another alternative would be the Arkansas Traveler 100. I ran it once and thoroughly enjoyed it.

So there, I have a preliminary plan. I just have to sit down with my calendar and see if it will work. My work weekends are pretty much carved in stone. It is almost impossible to get one off so I have to plan my races around them. I also might think about throwing in a few shorter trail races, just to shake things up a bit.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

"Speed" work

Tom called me this afternoon to remind me that I had a snowshoe race on Saturday. I remembered, but I was kind of hoping he had forgotten and I wouldn't have to go through with it. Have I mentioned that I lack coordination? Snow shoe hiking is fine, I can stay on my feet most of the time. When I pick the pace up to a jog, I stumble, step on my own snowshoes, and often land on my face. But, I said I'd do it so I will. It should be fun, or at least interesting.

Today I went out on the roads for a two mile warm up with Bart then hit the treadmill for my "speed work." It still seems funny to call 7 minute miles speed work, but it's all I've got right now. Anyway, I was supposed to do 2 miles at 7 minute pace. I hung on for dear life for 1 1/2 miles before having to slow the pace down. Is this what getting old feels like? I don't think I like it. On the bright side, if I can hang on to what little speed I have for another 30 years, I can probably set some age group records. There is always a bright side.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Long Run

I ran for 3 hours and 20 minutes in the woods today. It was sunny with temperatures around 30 degrees when I started and up to 40 degrees when I finished. I ran about a half mile on the roads and then entered the Box Shop woods in Parsonsfield. The Box Shop trail wasn't broken. I had to run for about 2 miles through shin deep snow. It was good strength work, but slow going. By the time I reached Kezar Mountain Rd I was huffing and puffing like I had just run a 5K race. I ran a few miles of dirt road on Kezar Mountain Rd, crossed rte 160 and entered the Parsonsfield woods near the Ossipee River. Snow mobiles had been through this section when there was deeper snow in mid December, so it was a packed base with some loose snow on top. It was excellent for running.

When I came to the first brook crossing, I saw that the bridge was out. The ice seemed to be pretty thick so I started across carefully. On my last step before I would be back on solid ground, my left foot went through and I was thigh deep in cold water. It was a big clumsy process to get my right foot up on the banking and extract my left foot from the brook. I have found it is never as easy coming back up through the ice as it is going down through it. My foot was cold, but I knew from prior experience (yes, I have had this happen before)) that It would warm up if I kept moving. About 100 yards down the trail the second bridge was out, too. I decided to be more careful and walked out into the woods to find a narrower crossing that I could jump over. I would have made it if my wet left foot hadn't become a 5 pound block of ice. That's what it felt like, anyway. This time both my feet got wet. It was a little annoying at the time, but within a mile my feet were warm and I forgot all about it. I was surprised to find my feet were still wet when I got home.

The next stretch of trail had been re-routed around a new landowner's property. A sign told me that the Landshare Riders ATV club had put in the new trail. It was winding, narrow, and hilly and added some distance to the old route. I thought it was a lot nicer than the old trail. The stretch that was bypassed had been sold within the past few years. The new owner had given me permission to run through, but didn't sound happy about it. It was kind of like, "well, I guess you can run through here if you absolutely have to." So I felt a little unwanted running through there and was always afraid I would meet up with the landowner again and it would be awkward. Now I had a way to bypass that stretch.

I don't like the noise, pollution, or tire ruts that ATVs make, but the snowmobile and ATV clubs in this area do a lot of trail maintenance and they work on landowner relations to keep public access. At the rate that Southern Maine is being developed, this is important work. I have never come across an ATV or snowmobile rider who hasn't been respectful and polite to me when we meet in the woods. So, although you will never catch me on an ATV, I plan to send a donation to the club for the work they have done in the area where I ran today.

When I reached the Chase Road I had to make a descision...continue over Merrill Hill, run back on the roads, loop around through the Effingham woods...the trail conditions had been so nice heading out that I decided to turn around and run the same trails back to route 160. I didn't fall into either brook on the way back. From Rte 160, I ran back home on old unmaintained town roads through the woods of Porter. I had someone's snow shoe tracks to run in for a while, then logging truck tracks all the way to Chapel St in Kezar Falls. I love finishing on Chapel Street. It is a screaming downhill on a paved road with almost no traffic. I let gravity carry me almost all the way home.

I ran about 20 miles today and loved every minute of it.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Ossipee Hill

One of the nice things about my job is that it takes me all over Southerm Maine and gives me opportunities to run on trails and roads that I otherwise wouldn't. I found myself in Waterboro for my last patient visit today. The timing was perfect for a sunset run up Ossipee Hill after I was done with the visit.

A Waterboro run always reminds me of Tom, my long time running friend. He and I used to meet in Waterboro for runs. It is hard for me to believe, but that was probably over 10 years ago. I still consider Tom one of my best running friends. We still get together for a run now and then. Tom collapsed with a dangerous heart arythmia the day after he ran the Sugarloaf Marathon several years ago. He is lucky to be alive, and very lucky to still be able to run. His cardiologist says he has to wear a heart monitor and keep his heart rate at a ridiculously low rate, so he can't run fast and he has to take walking breaks. But he is running!

It is one of my happiest running accomplishments to have accompanied Tom in the Clarence Demar Marathon the year following his collapse. Tom was a serious runner in his day and had run right around 3 hours for his marathon PR. I don't remember how long it took us that day at Clearance demar, but we were out there for most of the day. When we finally crossed the finish line and I saw the pride and happiness on the faces of his family, I cried. It was the most rewarding marathon finish I have ever experienced.

Waterboro is about half way between Tom's house in North Berwick and my house in Kezar Falls so we used to park at the elementary school and do a fast 8 or 10 mile loop on the roads. Sometimes we would do a more relaxed and enjoyable run up Ossipee Hill instead. There is a nice loop that can be run by going over the mountain and then returning on the roads. I didn't have time for the loop tonight, but the out and back was very enjoyable.

This is a really nice uphill, steep and long enough that you want to walk some of it, but not so steep and long that you have to. From where I parked my jeep it was about 2 1/2 miles to the lookout tower. It took me 30 minutes to get to the top and 20 minutes to come back down. The trail was well packed with some icy stretches. Stabilicers worked perfectly. I made it to the top of the tower just in time to see the sun set.

I really enjoyed the twilight cruise down the hill. Downhill running in the winter is so much more relaxing than in other seasons when you have to watch for roots and rocks. Don't get me wrong, I love the roots and rocks, but it sure was nice to just let my feet glide along on the dark trail without worrying about tripping. I think I was smiling all the way back to the car.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

working weekend

This is what the floor of my car looks like after a
twelve hour shift on the road. I'm not proud of it.

This is a work weekend for me. I work 12 hour shifts Saturday and Sunday every third weekend. When my 12 hour shift is over I have 12 hours of on call. So for 48 hours straight I belong to my employer. Running is tough to fit in on these weekends. Heck, eating and using the bathroom are hard to fit in on these weekends. I managed to run 45 minutes late this evening. I was really tired, but glad to get it in.

My scheduled long run is probably not going to happen tomorrow, but I knew that when I wrote up my training plan. I figure I can bump the long run to Monday if I need to. Mondays are scheduled as off or cross train days so it works out well.

On a sad note my computer, which friends have referred to as an antique, finally died last evening. BJ helped me find a new one which seems awfully sleek and modern looking. I'm kind of afraid of it. This baby cost me two weeks of cashed in vacation time which is a little hard to swallow. BJ, being a professional computer geek, warned me not to set it up until he was around to if I could just ignore it sitting there in the box. So far I don't think I have ruined anything.

Friday, January 2, 2009

4 degrees this morning, Brrrr

Yesterday became my cross train day instead of today, as BJ had the day off from work and I had someone to work out with for a change. I used his stepper for 45 minutes. It was fun because it was a new workout for me. It takes coordination (which I don't have) so I'm sure it was amusing for BJ as well. Then I used his home gym instead of mine for my upper body weights and core work. Some people thrive on routine, I need variety. So working out on different equipment was fun.

After our workout, we made homemade bread and homemade pasta. I loved cranking out the dough with his pasta maker. It reminded me of playing with playdough when I was a kid! I have got to get myself one of those pasta makers. I wish I knew I wanted one before Christmas, I would have hinted around to my son to get me one. Anyway, dinner was delicious.

This morning was a frigid Kezar Mt. run on ice and packed snow wearing Stabilicers. 4 degrees is normally too cold for me to run. I have almost no body fat and my muscles tighten up and it is very difficult for me to run when it is below 10 or 15 degrees. It doesn't seem to matter how much I wear or how hard I work, I just don't get warm enough to feel loose and comfortable running. But I couldn't bear the thought of another treadmill workout this morning so I ran with stiff cramping muscles.

It was another beautiful run on one of my favorite dirt roads. Lots of birds out this morning, blue jays, chickadees, nuthatches, juncos, and titmice. I heard a cardinal, but didn't see it. The road was criss-crossed with deer tracks and rabbit tracks. There was only one set of tire tracks since the last snow fall. As always, I stopped at the cemetery at the top of the first major climb and took some deep breaths and looked at and listened to the woods. I couldn't stop long today, it was really cold! I feel so alive and invigorated after a run like that, I love starting my workday out like this.