Sunday, May 31, 2009

hill sprints

I ran the same seven mile loop as yesterday, but a little slower today. At the end I did 6 hill sprints up chapel street. The side and back of my right hip felt funny and got a little more sore with each repeat. Maybe I should have stopped, but it doesn't feel any worse for wear tonight. It's a funny kind of hip soreness when it comes, kind of a surface pain, like I had scraped it or something. This makes me think it is nerve pain, what people call a "pinched nerve". It really doesn't feel like muscle or joint pain. I'm not that concerned about it at this point. This is the sort of thing they make ibuprofen for!

By the way, the hill sprints felt fine! It's all the squats I've been doing with my strength training.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Back in my Groove

I had a fabulous run this sunny Saturday morning before heading off for work. I love the sun after all the rain we've had! I did a seven mile hilly loop that is 50% road, 50% trail. I'm trying to get out on the harder surfaces to prepare for those rock hard packed gravel roads of Vermont. This loop is one of my favorites, with hills, quiet country roads, and a nice stretch of trail in the middle. As is often the case the day after a faster paced run, my relaxed pace was faster than usual today. I'm not sure what cause this phenomenon, but I've heard other runners say the same thing happens to them. I think this was one of my fastest recent times for this loop, 56:08! HR averaged 155. I feel myself getting back into the training groove. Yay!

When I came back into Kezar Falls I was confronted with a bunch of parked cars (some right on my front lawn, but that's OK), people strolling about, vendors and craftsmen with booths set up on every patch of available grass, and poor Bart standing up in the front window watching it all. Our road is usually fairly boring so I think Bart was excited to have something to look at besides stray cats. Today is the Kezar Falls Lilac Festival. I won't feel so bad about leaving Bart home alone today while I work since he will have plenty of entertainment all day.

Friday, May 29, 2009


It is a little hard staying motivated to keep training/ building for the Vermont 100. I had originally planned to train hard and put in a good effort at Massanutten, then kind of back off a bit and have more energy and time for some of the other things I like to do for a few months. I had planned to run Vermont, but just for fun! Yes, I can run a 100 and have fun as long as I have no time goal and no expectations. Since I dropped at MMT, I feel like I should keep building on what I have done so far and put in a good effort at Vermont.

This morning called for an hour at 7:20 pace. This cold rain we have been having for a few days has been sapping my energy, plus I have had a bit of a stomach bug. Oh well, you gotta do what you gotta do. So I ventured out and did it and it wasn't all that bad, actually it felt pretty good. If I can get a few more good runs in I might be able to get back into my training groove.

I will run Nipmuck next weekend. Last year it fell 2 weeks after MMT and I had a lot of fun there. I started incredibly slow at the back of the pack with my tired 100 mile legs. I didn't pick up the pace and effort until the second half. I moved up through the pack for the entire second half of the run. Now that felt good, feeling fresh and fast when everyone else was tiring out. It didn't get me a fast finish time, but it sure rubbed the ego the right way!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

easy 5

Today I ran slow and easy and listened to the birds. I did a flat out and back on Spec Pond Road mid morning with temps still in the low forties. The bushes around Spec Pond were full of birds. I think they were so active because they were trying to get warm! I've got to try to get out on the roads a little in preparation for Vermont. I consider that race more of a road 100 than any other I have done. There are trails, but there is a lot of hard packed gravel road and some pavement also. These surfaces are hard on my ankles and hips. But if I train on hard surfaces, it should get better.

Last night's upper body strength workout almost killed me. At one point I collapsed flat on the floor mid push up and considered just staying there the rest of the night. But I do love that achey feeling I have in my triceps and shoulders today!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Sandwich Range

BJ and I ran for about 4 or 5 hours in the Sandwich Range today. Hard core mountain runners are always puzzled when I tell them that the Sandwich Range is my favorite place to run in the Whites. These trails are like the poor cousins to the Presidential Range and the Pemi Wilderness. There aren't many open ledges with great vistas, there are only a few impressive peaks, and there isn't a lot of that bone jarring-foot bruising-fall provoking terrain that some of the other areas of the White Mountains offer. It isn't very impressive to spend a day running around Mt Paugus, Whiteface, Passaconway, and Chocorua as compared to "doing the Pemi Loop" or "doing the Presidential Traverse."

What the Sandwich Range does offer is lots of very runnable trail with challenging climbs and descents that can be run instead of walked (if you are in good enough condition). There are no crowds unless you climb Chocorua. BJ and I ran for our 4 or 5 hours on this beautiful Memorial Day and never saw another human the whole time. We ran, sometimes wishing for a steep climb or rough terrain so we'd have an excuse for a walk break. We ran over gravel, loose rocks, slippery flat rocks, old railroad beds, roots, mud, pine needles, and boulders. We ran on sections of trail that were just narrow strips clinging to the sides of mountains with steep drop offs on the outer edges.

We climbed over and under blow downs on the Cabin Trail. We loved the sweet two mile downhill stretch on the Old Mast Road. We ran through the beautiful ravine on the Kelly Trail. We admired the work of trail volunteers evident on the way up Lawrence Trail. We sweated down near Whitten Brook. We shivered in the breeze up at the top of Paugus. We both stopped in our tracks when we suddenly came upon the huge rock face towering above us on the Old Paugus Trail on the way down. We enjoyed trying to run over the 5 river crossings on the way out and the 3 on the way back without breaking stride.

I guess what I'm saying is that I love running in the Sandwich Range because it's fun!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Bike Ride

I rode with the Casco Bay Bike Club on a 37 mile ride this morning. It was a lot of fun. Seven of us left Gorham at 9:00 and rode west towards the dark clouds. Half way through the ride it really looked like heavy rain was heading our way, but we only felt a few sprinkles and it never cooled down enough to be uncomfortable. It was a very enjoyable ride. I kept a steady moderate effort the whole way and felt like I had a great workout.

After the ride we went to the local coffee shop and spent some time together there. This is when the rain really started coming down hard. Perfect timing!

This marks the end of my recovery week. It's been a good one, with lots of hiking and cycling. My legs and body feel ready to hit the trails at a running pace. Tomorrow BJ and I will head to the Sandwich Range for a trail run. I'll see how lost I can get us!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Mt Kearsarge

Mary and I hiked Kearsarge today. We are both having a recovery week, me from my attempt at MMT and she from her excellent Boston qualifying marathon. She will have to write a book titled "Build from Zero Miles to a Marathon in Eight Weeks" because that's what she did.

We talk a lot when we run or hike together. Today's subject was our love lives, which was cause for hysterical laughter all the way up the mountain. Our love lives are the stuff of romantic comedies, but without the romance. I guess that makes it the stuff of plain old comedies. The hikers on the summit could hear us coming from a mile away. I think they were surprised to see it was two middle aged women making all that obnoxious noise in their otherwise tranquil day.

I am still trying to get my lawn mowed, but better offers keep coming up. I live right in town and there are a lot of Memorial Day Weekend events that will be happening in the neighborhood. Everyone else already has their lawns all spiffed up, so I'd better get out there right now! Then legs, back, and abs strength work tonight.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Bike and Hike

I biked Skyline Drive for 40 miles yesterday. The first 20 were more or less uphill, but the steady not-so-steep kind of pitch that I enjoy. Ask anyone who has ridden with me on the Casco Bay Bike Club's "notch rides," there is a certain pitch (think the Kanc) where this lean runner's build works well on the bike and I can put some distance on everyone else. Then as soon as the road gets steeper (think Bear Notch), everyone goes right past me with their big bicycling muscles. Yesterday's ride was like The Kanc, and I loved it.

After the ride I took a run/hike on a trail loop in the park. I ran down the Buck Ridge Trail then fast hiked back up the Buck Hollow Trail. My legs feel good. I am still amazed by that. The right hip only hurts if I jar it (tripping over a rock or jumping over something in the trail), otherwise it just feels like a bruise. I have 2 loose toe nails on the left foot and a blister on my right foot. Otherwise I'd never know I had just attempted a hundred miler.

On this hike I saw no bear, just a bare...butt. I was looking down at the trail deep in thought, and glanced up just in time to come face to face with a naked white shining ass. I cleared my throat loudly. The guy had his pants up and clutched around his waist quick as a flash (no pun intended). He stammered out, "I was trying to take a tick off my willy" and I said, "well, carry on" without even breaking stride. When I got back to the car I checked and sure enough I had a bunch of very tiny ticks clustered around the leg openings of my shorts. I still had on my bike shorts and the ticks seemed to stop climbing when they reached the elasticised leg bands. This is something I wish the bare assed guy knew about.

Today I head back to Maine. I would love to stay for more biking and hiking, but I miss Bart and I have to get my garden in. I have made peace with my DNF. If I had pushed on I might have finished in 30 hours or so. It would have still been a disappointment and my hip might have sustained more serious damage. I'm still well trained and no real harm was done at MMT. Next up is Nipmuck Trail Marathon and then Vermont 100. Also on the agenda, many long fun trail runs in the Whites. I enjoyed most of my run at MMT, even more than last year because I was pacing myself better and feeling less strain and stress during the run so I could enjoy the scenary. After the race, I had 2 wonderful days in Shenandoah National Park doing the things I love to do. I have no complaints about this trip, or life in general.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Close Encounter

Yesterday I took an eight mile hike on the White Oak Canyon Trail and some horse trails in Shenandoah National Park. I wore my heaviest hiking boots so I wouldn't be tempted to run. Honestly, I wanted to run the day after running a tough 90 miles (all told). That has to be a good sign about how my recovery will go.

I was taking my time and enjoying the sunny day on the trail when I saw a huge centipede and crouched down to watch it walk (I told you I was taking my time). I heard a branch snap behind me and looked up behind me. There was a black bear about 10 feet from me, just stepping onto the trail from the woods. He looked right at me and started walking toward me at a slow pace. I stood up and looked as big as I could and yelled stuff like, "you don't want to come over here and mess with me! You see these muscles? I'll whip your butt good. So just back off buddy..." This always works on Maine bears, but Virginia bears are apparently different than their northern kin. He kept coming and I found myself backing up. I pulled my pathetically small can of pepper spray from my pocket, looked at it, and said out loud, "yeah, right." I ran.

About a hundred yards down the trail I rounded a curve and almost bumped into a young school teacher and one of his students. We talked about the bear and the teacher decided to regroup before going on, thinking a big noisy bunch of junior high kids would surely scare the bear away. I continued on at a leisurely hike, passing a steady stream of tired looking kids dragging their feet over the trail with their heads down walking toward their teacher. I could tell they were thinking this was too much work. About 15 minutes later, the kids started passing me again, this time going the same direction I was going. They were running, faces beet red, arms pumping, sweat flying, and mouths open gasping for air. A few of them grunted out the single word, "bear" as they passed. By the time I got to the upper falls, at least half the kids had gone by. They were regrouping at the upper falls where they had two tired looking chaperones sitting on the rocks waiting for them to come back. The group had parked at the opposite and of the trail as I had. The kids were doubled over excitedly talking about the bear between gasps.

I continued on to the middle and lower falls and stopped on the flat rocks overlooking the lower falls for a picnic lunch. Then I took my shoes off and laid down for a nap in the sun. I woke to find the whole group of kids, the chaperones, and their teacher standing around me. The teacher said, "we met your bear." He said that as they noisily rounded the curve they found the bear laying in the trail. When the bear saw them he got up and started walking towards them. The kids all yelled and threw things, but he kept coming so they ran. This teacher is an avid local hiker and he said this was unusual behavior and advised I return to my car by a different route. The kids were very excited and I was their captive audience. They gathered around me and told the story over and over again. The bear was at least 600 pounds in their eyes, (he was really a small juvenile). One tall lanky young man stated, "I'm a distance man myself, but I out sprinted that son of a gun." They had me laughing. What a great bunch of kids. I enjoyed them.

So I took the long way back on horse trails and it was nice. I saw a lot of birds, some of which I couldn't identify. I also saw deer and a rabbit. I stopped at an overlook while driving out of the park and ate dinner and waited for the sunset. It was gorgeous. I had a wonderful day.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

DNF at 84.1 Miles

I'll just give the facts about the DNF on this post and tell more about the run later.

I'll jump into this report at 75.9 miles. I had run over Short Mountain in good shape, hopefully on my way to my goal of 28 hour finish. Coming out of the woods and onto a minor gravel road, I started looking for Edenberg Gap Aid Station. Usually an aid station is a noisy lit up place. I ran all the way down the road searching left and right with my flashlight and never saw or heard anything. It was after dark, raining and very foggy at the time. I got to the stop sign at the end of the road and shone my light up and down the highway. I saw two reflective markers hanging on the left hand side of the road across the street from the stop sign, and nothing else. 2 markers together are supposed to mean turn that direction, but I didn't see any more markers down the road and I didn't remember running on the highway last year. Then I shone my light across the road and saw a trail of markers leading back into the woods. So I followed it, up and up. I was climbing another mountain.

I saw a woman I thought was Donna Utakis heading down the trail about a mile in and asked about the aid station, she told me to turn around because I had missed it. I assumed she was walking back to drop from the race, but I see they have a finish time next to her name, so it couldn't have been her. Anyway I ran back down the rocky trail at full speed because I was impatient and annoyed. I stubbed my left foot coming down and threw my right foot out in front of me to try to avoid falling forward. My right leg jammed the ground hard with the knee locked and all the impact went into my right hip. I got to the road and for some reason that only someone who has run 78 miles over mountains could understand, I turned down the highway and ran about a mile or more looking for the aid station. This was down a steep hill on pavement and it really caused me some problems with the hip I had just jammed. At the bottom of the hill, I knew I was wrong. So I turned around and marched back up that same hill. I had spent well over an hour (I would guess it was getting close to 2 hours) looking for the aid station at this point.

As I neared the top of the hill on my way back, I saw two headlamps entering the trail I had first gone down after missing the aid station, but my hip and general fatigue wouldn't allow me to run fast enough up the hill to ask them where the station was. So I yelled out with all my might, "Hey, you two runners, STOP!" And they did, thank God. They waited for me. They knew I was the "girl who missed the aid station" because there was talk at the aid station about going to look for me. The woman runner (who apparently was not Donna) had been back to Edinberg and didn't understand why they hadn't seen me yet which was causing some concern.

The two men directed me back to the station, which was basically, right on the corner near the stop sign off the road a bit on a little dirt drive. There were no glow sticks or reflective markers marking the way in and I assume the runners were entering from some other place and exiting where the men directed me to go in. I still couldn't see the aid station from the road through the fog. Cars had parked between the station and the road and were blocking any lights from showing. Also it was extremely quiet there! Like I said, I think the runners must have turned off somewhere else. I'll have to figure that one out.

Also I want to note, one of the runners with the headlamps said he missed the same staion a few years back and ran down the highway looking in the same direction I did. I believe him because he added, "it was a hell of a hill to climb back up when I found out I was wrong. I also met an aid station worker at Woodstock Tower who said he made the same mistake last year but didn't go all the way to the bottom of the hill. I add this information so I won't seem like a total moron.

I checked in to Edinberg Gap. One of the volunteers was just heading out to hunt for me as I came in. After checking in I headed back up the trail toward Woodstock tower, the same trail I had first taken when I missed the station. My heart wasn't in it, my hip hurt, and I wasn't going to finish in 28 hours. My hip reduced me to a walk and my crushed spirit reduced me to a crawl. I'll admit it, I was moping. I got to Woodstock Tower eventually and told them I quit. I blamed my hip, which probably would have made me walk most of the remaining miles, but really I think it was more the disappointment of having a good run turn bad from such a stupid mistake. The hip hurts, like a bad bruise, but I could have pushed on if my spirit was willing.

So that is my sad story. It makes me sound kind of stupid, but don't throw stones unless you haven't done something stupid in the dark after running over 80 miles on rough trails through the mountains. On a lighter note, so you will understand how my mind works after running for so long, just before this unfortuante event I was wondering why my handheld light wasn't shining where I pointed it, and then realized I had the handheld pointing at the ground and was trying to shine my water bottle down the trail. Maybe a pacer wouldn't be a bad idea next time.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Virginia Bound

I'm off to Virginia this morning, by way of Conneticut to visit my sister, Amy. I'm looking forward to a fun trip and a good race. Showers are expected both days in Virginia this weekend, but the temperatures are supposed to be warm. Warm temperatures are a good thing for me as I don't run well when I'm cold.

My primary goal for this year's MMT is to run an hour faster than last year. Last year I was injured and putting in very low training mileage, so I should be able to go faster this year. If not, then I'd still be happy with a strong effort, a fun time, and a finish! I look at photos taken during my run last year, and I am smiling and enjoying myself right up through the last miles. If I can do that again this year, it will be a success. I love running up and down hills on rough trails, it's that flat fast stuff I'm not crazy about! So what's not to smile about at MMT? There aren't any flat fast sections!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Three Miles at Old Dog Pace

I took Bart out into the woods behind the schools this morning for an easy 30 minute run. He is really getting too old to run, although he still loves to try! Gee, I hope nobody says that about me. Anyway, I let him set the pace and stop to drink from the river as often as he wanted. He set a perfect pace for this run, with just a few days left until my race.

I don't really feel nervous or anxious about Massanutten but I am feeling very irritable about work today, which isn't like me. Normally I might think to myself how stupid or inefficient something I'm being asked to do is, but then just let those feelings go and do what I'm asked. Today I found myself grumbling to Bart about all the annoying work things that lay ahead of me today. It's bad enough to catch myself complaining to a dog, but Bart is completely deaf as well. If I am complaining about work to a deaf dog, I must have some anxiety going on after all!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Crews and Pacers

It's another beautiful morning! I ran 5.5 miles with 10 minutes at 7:15 pace in the middle. No problem today, I feel good!

I've set aside time this afternoon for planning and packing a few drop bags. I'm a low maintenence kind of hundred miler runner. Usually no crew, no pacer and only one or two drop bags. I will probably only need to get into the bag for my light, a restock of Hammer Gel, S-caps and Shock Blocks, and warmer night time running clothes. I figure they have aid stations at these things, why not use them? Plus, as with everything in my life, I hate to make things more complicated than they need to be.

Most people have pretty laid back crews. Often just the wife and kids. But I have seen other runners come into crew stations and be treated like they were entering a pit stop in the Daytona 500. The runner plops into the chair, a friend grabs the empty bottles to refill, someone else has taken the shoes off and is rubbing ointment between the toes, another crew member has his face inches in front of the runner's shouting how far ahead the next runner is and what kind of finish time is predicted at this point in the race, and someone else is pushing food into the runner's hands. All I can do is say a silent "wow" as I grab a handfull of chips and let the friendly volunteers help fill my bottles. I hate a lot of attention. That's why I don't think I could do a race like Badwater where you have to rely on so many people to help you through it.

My friend, Bj has crewed for me in a very low key way. He'll walk over and talk to me at the aid station table, "You're doing great. Do you need anything? See you in a few hours." Perfect.

The pacer thing is a whole other story. I think I might like a pacer at the beginning of a hundred mile race. Too bad it doesn't work that way. In the beginning half I am just trying to relax and let the miles and the hours pass as easily as I can. It would be nice to have someone to distract me and entertain me during this time. Later in the race I am getting tired. My muscles and joints hurt. My mind is having trouble concentrating on important stuff like getting calories and water and electrolytes. I am starting to doubt my abilities. I don't need a pacer to help me through these times, I need to go within myself and dig deep.

A pacer makes me feel guilty. I start thinking I should be moving faster, I should be more cheerful and talk a little. This person has come all the way out here to help me and I am being a grumpy bore just slogging along at this unbearably slow pace. A pacer makes me feel stressed out! I've run six 100's and had pacers twice (one of my pacer-less hundreds was a DNF). When I count paced runs,I don't count the time my faithful crew of BJ ran back from the finish line and ran in the last 5 or 6 miles of Western States with me. That was actually perfect. I was almost done and I was feeling happy. It was very nice to have someone there to share that with. So I'll revise my statement about wanting a pacer only in the early miles. I'd take one at the very end also.

At this year's MMT, they have added a new division. This new Stonewall Jackson Division is for runners without crew or pacer. I noticed several runners who usually have both crew and pacer have signed up for this, I guess as a novelty or a challenge. I think many of them will discover how liberating it is!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Easy Run

The key word for this week is easy, so that's how I ran today. I was planning a 1 hour run and ran the trail off Pine Street here in Kezar Falls. It is rough and overgrown, not very good for fast running but perfect for easy running. I even took the time to move some branches and logs off the trail on the way out. This trail goes up over a big hill and back down to the old Town Farm Rd. I turned around there and ran back the same way. It is almost 6 miles round trip and it took me just a few seconds over 1 hour.

I have Yoga tonight. I am getting better at it and starting to enjoy it more. I'm looking forward to tonight's session.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Trail Sense

I did some of my run today on the Rails to Trails in Sanford. I had seen the trail sign on many occasions. It is only 1/2 mile away from my Sanford office, but I have always been leery of it. I don't like the idea of entering the woods alone in plain view of passing motorists. I also don't like the idea of running in a wooded area so close to a heavily populated area. My theory is the more people in an area, the more likely there will be bad people among them.

I spend a lot of time alone in the woods, but I try to enter unnoticed. I usually move away from parking areas and trail heads as fast as I can and stay especially alert until I am a mile or more into the woods. Several years ago, shortly after the brutal murder of a Canadian woman in New Hampshire's White Mountains, a Forest Service worker stopped and spoke to me about hiking and running alone in the woods. He did not lecture to me about hiking alone, instead he said that he understood why people like the solitude of being alone in the woods. Then he went on to explain what I could do to stay safe. He gave me a lot of sound advice. The advice that struck me most is to always move away from the parking areas and trail heads as quickly as I can without drawing attention to the fact that I am there alone. He advised that I stay especially alert while within a mile or two of the parking areas. He pointed out that the majority of incidents against women in wilderness recreation areas occur within a mile of their vehicles. The average assailant isn't an outdoorsy athletic type and isn't likely to hike miles out into the woods to wait for a chance meeting with a lone woman. Instead he is likely to scope out the trail heads and follow his target into the woods.

I will always remember an incident on the Sawyer Pond Trail back when I was in my early thirties. I was returning from a very long day of hiking and running and was less than a mile from the parking area. A man was leaning against a rock in an unnatural looking pose. His hiking clothes were top quality and brand new and spotlessly clean. He had a corny looking walking stick and a brand new pack that was big, but appeared almost empty. I took all this in as I approached and I suddenly felt nervous about him. He stepped out in front of me and said, "you don't want to continue that way, there is a big bear in the trail." I made a wide sprinting detour around him through the trees on the side of the trail and was past him and back to my car in a flash. I got in, locked the doors, and left there as fast as I could. I never gave the alleged bear a thought, the guy just gave me the creeps. He could have been a harmless guy who was trying to keep me from getting mauled by a bear, or he might have been a lonely guy trying to find a date in an unusual and original way, but I trusted my instincts and got the hell out of there.

Today I jogged slowly on the sidewalk in front of the trail head taking note of the parked cars and pedestrians nearby. Once I was fairly certain that nobody was showing any interest in what I was doing, I entered the trail system and moved away from the road fast. On the trail itself I was alert for "red flags", things like beer bottles, cigarette butts, and campfire pits. I didn't see any of these things on the trail today. I kept my guard up and trusted my gut feelings. Because of my gut feelings I avoided a trail where someone had left their bike leaning against a tree. When pedestrians approached, I made sure to give a wide berth. When someone tried to talk to me I make a quick friendly comment and moved on pointedly, without hesitating.

I love running alone in the woods, sometimes I feel like I live for it! But lets face it, as tough as I pretend to be, when all is said and done I am still a 102 pound weakling. And at this stage in the game (my sub 18 minute 5Ks are long behind me), I can't count on outrunning an assailant. So what is a solitary woman trail runner to do? Get out there and enjoy every day, but do so with caution.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

A thorough Drenching

I drove around all day today visiting patients and thinking about what a fantastic day it was for a run or bike ride. Every where I went people were out running and riding. Finally at around 7PM I was able to pull off the road and head out for a trail run in Newfield on my way home. It sprinkled a few drops as I changed my clothes in the car, but seemed to brighten up a little by the time I hit the trail.

About 5 minutes into my run it suddenly got very dark and a torrential downpour came washing over me! It was just in time for the hill tempo part of my run and because I was getting chilled, it really motivated me to push hard up the hill to warm up. I got a thorough drenching and could hardly see the trail at times. At the top as I ran over bare ledge, I heard one crash of thunder and decided not to waste any time at the top before turning around and heading down.

All the rain came running off the top of the mountain down the trail I was running on. It was strange when this mini flash flood caught up to me from behind on the steep downhill. The wash came by me with a foot high wall of water at its front and was followed by a steady stream of 6 inch deep water. I tried to get out in front of it again and was able to pass it on a flatter section. It was a very odd thing to see such a defined beginning of a stream of water. I don't remember ever seeing anything like it before. It was very cool.

I made my way back to the car just in time for the sun to come back out. The sky was beautiful with dark clouds being silhouetted by the early evening sunshine. It was almost breath taking. I did another short out and back to take advantage of what was left of the day's sun. I really enjoyed the weather on this run and I guess I'm glad I didn't get out earlier in the day like I had hoped to.

Friday, May 8, 2009


Ahhh, finally a little spring in my step this morning. I'm an impatient sort of person. I wanted my legs to feel fresh and rested the minute I said I'm in taper mode. Well, it has taken almost a week, but they are starting to come around. I got good advice from a friend by e-mail, cut way back on the strength work until after the race. Dan's and Damon's comments on my last post were also very helpful. And let's not forget the meditative and calming qualities of a good Yoga workout. OK, so the Yoga still isn't exactly meditative and calming, but it is teaching me how to "breath through the discomfort" which might come in handy at mile 85 or so.

This morning's run was 7 miles, the first 4 1/2 were on trails and the last 2 1/2 were on the flat to slightly downhill Spec Pond Rd. I checked my road split for the last 2 1/2 miles and I was running sub eights and feeling good doing it. Total run time was 1:02. I really needed that run for my confidence.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Taper Anxiety

Yesterday I didn't run at all, just did an uphill walk and a strength workout. Today was 5 miles with 20 minutes at 7:00 pace. It didn't feel as easy as it should have, but I got it done. Tonight I have Yoga and I plan to take it easy. I've been doing Yoga for three weeks now, and this Yoga business isn't as easy and relaxing as I imagined it would be. I knew it would involve working on flexibility, but the core strength work has taken me by surprise! The good news is that it really has helped my flexibility. I am now only as stiff as a board, when before starting Yoga I was as stiff as a cast iron skillet. Quite an improvement. As far as the core work, it hurts pretty bad during and after the Yoga session. When I see people doing Yoga on TV and in pictures, they don't have the same pained expression I seem to be wearing throughout the session.

I am waiting patiently for my legs to start feeling fresh and fast from having started my taper for MMT. So far they are still feeling pretty tired and slow. No worries! There is still over a week before the race. My hip that had been bothering me has fixed itself, snapping into place on my fast uphill walk yesterday. I am going to hold off on the chiropracter because right now, it feels fine.

I am feeling a little "performance anxiety" about Massanutten. It is much easier to go into a race under trained and with no expectations from myself or anyone else. It's absolutely pressure free when I go to a race thinking, "gee, I haven't really trained at all and if I make it to the finish line it'll be a miracle." It is much more anxiety ridden to think, "I've been training for this specific race for 4 1/2 months. If I don't do well, it will all have been a waste of time and effort." Oh well, all I can do is my best. One of my favorite things about racing ultras is that once the race starts and the first mile or two are behind me, I become totally relaxed and can just run in the moment without worrying about what lies ahead. So at least this nervous anxiety I am feeling right now should be gone by 5:30 AM a week from Saturday!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Just Fooling Around and Having Fun on Today's Run

This morning I drove out to Effingham, NH with the vague notion that I could find a link between two of my favorite running trail systems and put together a route for some sort of epic journey for later in the summer. After a little driving around aimlessly, I eventually found the trail head for the Fire Warden's Trail up Green Mountain. Until today, I had only been to this trail head by coming over the mountain on foot. I parked and ran 30 minutes on old unmaintained roads and trails and confirmed that I could connect my "Hobbs Swamp Run" with my "Green Mountain Run". The pleasant surprise is that there is only about 1/2 mile of pavement between the two. Oh joy! I'll have to map it out to see how long of an adventure this will be. Most of these roads and trails aren't on maps, so there is a little guess work involved.

I ran back to my car and checked my watch. I had run for almost an hour at a relaxed effort. My plan for today had been 45 minutes of running followed by an uphill walk. So I immediately set off for a brisk hike up Green Mountain. It was getting cooler, cloudier and windier as the morning passed. So it was good incentive to walk FAST! I started 1/2 mile down the road from the trail head, so I walked 2 miles for about 1400 feet of elevation gain in 29:44. This trail is rocky, but not bad footing for hiking. I was trying to break 30 minutes, you should have seen me checking my watch and restraining myself from breaking into a run near the top as the seconds ticked closer and closer to 30 minutes. My walk was getting pretty close to a run as my time ran out and I was doing a good impersonation of Groucho Marx by the end. I realize how silly it would have looked if anyone else had been there. Thank goodness I was alone. Hopefully the fire warden wasn't watching from the tower.

Then, because I am finally feeling a little less stiff and tired, I let myself fly down the hill at gravity's mercy. 2 miles back to the car in just under 16 minutes with my heart rate never going over 126. Good old gravity. BJ would have been faster. I have him beat on the ups, but for some reason he can really move on the downhills. It always looks like his feet are going to go out from under him at any moment and he will go into a wild somersaulting death descent, but it never happens. I'm going to keep practicing on the sly, so someday I will be able to beat him going up AND coming down. I have a bit of an evil streak.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Relaxed Morning Run

I headed out for a very slow easy recovery run in the woods behind the schools today. I had a long run Saturday and a good hill climb yesterday. I'll admit it, my legs are tired. I'm not sure why, but over the years these woods behind the schools have become my Sl-o-o-o-o-ow run trails. I find these trails beside the river very relaxing.

On today's run I tried to find all the caches that the JROTC had set up for some sort of military orienteering-like exercise. I did pretty well, considering I didn't have a compass. The clues were tacked to trees and were not too not hard to follow.

Running through the school's athletic fields on the way back, one of my road racing rivals from college right through the 90's was out instructing a P.E. class. I believe she is still running 18 or 19 minutes for a 5K, more power to her. I wonder what she thought of the 10 or 11 minute pace I was doing today. Funny, but I don't really care.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Mt Aggie Run

Yesterday I drove down to York to run with my friend, Bob. As far as I'm concerned, Mt Aggamenticus is the Ultrarunning Capitol of Maine. When I first started running ultras, the only people I knew of that did these crazy races were the Mt Aggie gang. I seem to get down there to run about twice a year and it always feels like I am running on hallowed ground.

Bob and I are both going to be running Massanutten. He just had an excellent Boston Marathon so his training leading up to MMT has been more road and speed focused, while I have been focusing primarily on trails and long steep hills. Despite our different training styles, our paces were very well matched yesterday. I never felt slowed down and I never felt rushed, well except for the last few miles and I'll get to that.

We left right from Bob's back door and ran for 3 1/2 hours on the informal and unmarked network of trails leading up to the mountain. It is a little complicated out there. If Bob had decided to sprint ahead out of view at any time during our run, I'd still be out there trying to navigate my way back to civilization. The trails are beautiful and very nice for running. It was easy to forget how close we were to town.

When we got to the mountain top, we did three repeats up and down the steepest part. This was a lot of fun. My climbing is very strong right now, just what I need for MMT. I wore my heart rate monitor and found that I could keep my heart rate well below threshold while climbing at a fast pace. Once done with our repeats we headed back on a slightly different route.

When we got to the last few miles we found ourselves on wide logging roads, perfect for fast running. Coincidence? I think not. I had forgotten that Bob likes to pick up the pace at the end of his long runs. And he did. I took chase and was able to stick for a mile or so, but started dropping back ever so slowly. It's his damned marathon legs, he has finished over 100 marathons and they have all been with very decent times. I hung on the best I could and it was a nice way to finish our run.

Afterwards, Bob took me to a Kentucky Derby party that turned out to be a lot of fun. I was skeptical, I'm not a horse race fan and didn't think I would fit in with a crowd that was. But I was wrong and we had a good time. They must have planned on having two famished runners show up, because there was plenty of great food. I parked myself at the food table and ate much more than my share and even sampled a Mint Julep to get in the Kentucky Derby mood. Once Bob mentioned the topic of ultramarathons, I was never at a loss for conversation because people had a lot of questions and seemed genuinely interested.

Today will be a hill tempo. This is supposed to be on the treadmill at a controlled pace and incline for 30 minutes. But I have a steady incline at Green Mountain that takes about 30 minutes. I think I will take advantage of the beautiful day and run there for my hill tempo. I can keep the effort and pace steady if I wear my heart rate monitor. BJ is eager to do another Green Mt run so I will have some company today.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Time for a Chiropractic Visit

I ran 8 miles in the Massabesic Forest today. It was surprisingly warm and humid. I am having a little twinge in my right hip, which I have had in the past. It isn't really a pain, more of a strange cramping feeling. I will have to get in to see my chiropractor because he has fixed this same thing for me on many occasions in past years.

My chiropractor on Washington Ave. in Portland is wonderful, but I have very little patience for all the hocus pocus stuff that he and his office staff are into. It isn't just straight forward chiropractic medicine in that office, there is a lot of use of herbal remedies, crystals and charms, laying on of hands, and all sorts of other practices that are uncomfortable and embarassing to me, a hard core old fashioned registered nurse. I come right out and tell him to cut the crap and snap my back and my hips. He pretends to comply with my wishes, but I often catch him in the corner of the room meditating and "focusing his energies" between snaps.

Apparently people love this stuff! The waiting room is always full. People are constantly leaving the office clutching brown paper bags or glass vials full of who knows what. An aquaintance of mine has had both of her children "de-toxified" in that office. I shudder to think about what that might involve. Another aquaintance had her early dementia cured by the doctor and his staff. I have a hard time buying into all that stuff. The good doctor is willing to accept my views and follow my wishes for him to stick to the chiropractic stuff, but he hints that I could feel a lot better if I let him and his staff go to town on me. All I care about is that he can do a percise and effective snap on my lower spine and hips that can be heard out in the waiting room. When I leave there I have to adjust my car mirrors because I am suddenly taller. After one visit I am good for another six months or so. I'll keep you posted about how my next visit goes.