Friday, August 28, 2009

Green Lakes Endurance Runs

This Sunday I will be running the 100K at the Green Lakes Endurance Runs in Fayetteville in Central New York State. I wish I was feeling in better shape for it, but I'll give it an honest effort and enjoy the journey.

It looks like the course will be a mixture of groomed walking trails, rougher single track, and grassy fields. The grassy fields are not a favorite running surface for me, that's why you won't catch me back at the Pineland Farms races here in Maine. They kind of remind me of college cross country, which was a good experience, but not something I'm into right now. These days I like to be out among the trees. I like my trails narrow, winding, and hilly. The good news is that at GLER there will be plenty of that type of running as well. Am I becoming a little fussy as I age? I figure it's OK to be fussy. I currently run for the sheer enjoyment of it so why run on a course I don't enjoy?

GLER is a multiple loop course, which presents a challenge to any ultrarunner. We all get to a point in an ultra where we are very tired and just want to stop. Multiple loop courses make stopping too easy! It will be a good lesson in self discipline, running eight 12.5KM loops on tired legs and poor conditioning. Yay! I can't wait! It will actually be very good for me because this is training for the Oil Creek 100 Miler on October 10th, which is a three loop course. Heck, if I can drag myself out of the main aid station eight times at Green Lakes, it should be a cake walk to do it three times at Oil Creek! Plus my conditioning should be better by then.

So how am I feeling about this race? I'd say I'm feeling pretty good. I don't plan on tearing up the course and setting any speed records. I do plan on having a good long run on scenic trails with a bunch of like-minded trail ultra people. I used to start my races with a bunch of nervous energy, thinking about the outcome from the very beginning. Now I find I stay in the moment and enjoy the journey. The outcome just happens and I can accept it for what it is. This isn't the right mind set for a competitive runner, and I was a competitive runner for a lot of years. Something happened to that drive and I don't think I'll ever get it back. I don't really think I want to get it back. But I never say never. That 50+ age group will be upon me in a few short years, and I have seen people pop back into the race scene out of nowhere when they enter a new age group. But don't hold your breath.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


I think it has been a good rest week. Starting last Sunday, my legs were feeling tired and achey, my energy level was low, and I was feeling a bit down in general. Taking a week to rest, enjoy some easy road biking, and do some reading has helped me re-energize and re-focus. I think I'm ready to jump back in there!

Today I went out for an easy trail run on the cross country ski trails behind the local schools. While out there I cleared some debris from the trail and set up some little practice obstacles for mountain biking. I even took a few minutes to sit on a rock to watch the river flow by and meditate a little.

In a couple of minutes, I'll be off to practice on the mountain bike for a while. Next time I ride with Kevin I hope to be able to impress him with all the progress I've made... or at least not fall face first in the dirt as often as usual.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


I think the problem with my running is the fact that I took a lot of time off with an injury before running Vermont, ran Vermont 100 on residual fitness and cross training, and then expected to just be able to continue training as if I had never taken the time off. I never really gave myself a chance to re-build to full fitness.

As advised by Paul D., I will plan to run the 100K at Green Lake as a training run for the Oil Creek 100 miler. Paul advises that I pace at Green Lake 100K as if it is a 100 miler. Knowing my fitness and strength is not back to baseline was causing me some stress with the race coming up this weekend. To do it as a training run makes perfect sense and takes all the pressure off. Now I have a much better attitude about the race and am looking forward to it.

Yesterday I took a day off from running and rode my road bike instead. I felt crappy starting out, but better as I went. I finished off feeling more like my old self. I'll ride again today and do my strength workout. I definitely can't get into shape in this one week before the 100K, but I can rest up my running legs as much as possible and adjust my attitude to feel more positive and optimistic.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Tired Legs

The past week of running has been tough. My legs are fried. I have been getting out for my daily runs, but they have been very hard. Yesterday's run was extremely hot and humid, on top of the tired legs. I knew things were bad when an ATV rider asked if I needed a ride back to my car. He said I looked like I was "ready to drop." Not a big confidence builder.

I plan to run the Green Lakes Endurance 100K this cominhg weekend. This is a multiple loop course on single track. I am thinking I might skip running this week all together and just bike. If my legs feel this heavy and slow when I get to upstate New York for the race, it isn't going to be a good time.

I'll run today to finish off the week, and then take it how I feel for the rest of the week.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Recovering (again)

Both Monday and Tuesday I ran 5 miles at an easy, yet painful pace with a few short walking breaks. Those mountains really beat up the legs. Last evening I took a walk on Wells Beach with Mary and my legs suddenly felt great. Maybe it was the swim in the icy cold ocean that cured them! Anyway, this morning I did seven miles on trails and some pavement and felt very good. I ran over rough snow mobile trails and then the old Town Farm Road and returned on Spec Pond Rd. I took a very refreshing dip in Spec Pond about a half mile before getting home. It was a great way to start out the day on my first day back to work after vacation.

Steve Pero's MMD blog report and photos from MMD can be found at

Bob Najar's MMD photos can be found at

Don't look at the unflattering photo of me with my eyes closed and my mouth full at the top of Mt Adams.

Monday, August 17, 2009

MMD 2009

Seventeen participants started the 2009 "More and More Difficult" event at Midnight Friday. Event organizer, Jon, AKA The Evil Bastard, sent us on a journey over 34 miles on some of the most rugged terrain in the Northeast. We climbed a total of about 14000 feet summiting the Carters, Wildcats, and Northern Presidentials. Some finished and some didn't. Regardless, it was an adventure for all.

Frank, Rich, and Bob N. were already feeling it after climbing to Wildcat Ridge. I suspect Frank was smiling because he had already made his decision to drop when he reached Rte 16. Several of us traveled as a loose group most of the night. The company was nice and it gave us a chance to catch up on each other's lives.

Pat from Canada looks like he was still having fun on Wildcat Ridge. He and I broke off from the pack and traveled together to the ski slopes. There, we were supposed to chose any route we wanted down the mountain. Word was that Deb knew of a mowed path down the slope, so Pat decided to wait for her. I had a ham sandwich waiting for me at the bottom and didn't have the patience to wait. I picked my own path and ended up wading through 3 foot tall grass and brambles all the way down the mountain. Damn that impatience of mine!

In this photo Kirby and Unka check in Rich and Deb at the bottom of the ski slopes. I waited around for someone to leave so I wouldn't have to continue alone. No one was in much of a hurry because we knew we had some big climbing ahead of us. Ohio Bob was the first one to head out and I asked if he minded if I tagged along. He didn't so we set off together up Tuckerman's Ravine Trail heading for the Huntington Ravine Trail. I dropped Ohio Bob somewhere before the junction and ended up starting Huntington alone. I had promised several friends that I wouldn't do Huntington alone. There have been numerous fatalities on this trail and it is extremely difficult and dangerous. I decided to work my way over the boulder field and when I reached the sheer cliffs I would wait for some company.

After waiting a while I heard my name called from below and before long Bob N. popped out from behind a boulder. Rich was right behind him.

After we started up the sheer slope, Tom unexpectedly sat up from where he had been laying on a narrow ledge. He had taken off with the lead pack and was now worn out and wanting to drop when he reached the top of Mt Washington. He had been napping and waiting for someone to climb Huntington with him, feeling too fatigued to risk it alone. Bob N. and Tom went ahead and Rich and I picked our way more slowly and cautiously.

Tom did drop at the summit of Washington and Bob N., Rich, and I ended up traveling the rest of the day together. Rich was having a bad day, which is very unusual for him. We stuck together, took frequent breaks, and just kept moving over the rocky trail.

Mt Madison was our last summit. We then headed down the Daniel Webster Scout Trail. Definitely not the easiest way off the Presidentials, but at least we were going downhill! Part way down, I spotted kevin up ahead of us. He had been hiking in the presidentials during the day and planned to descend Daniel Webster around the same time he expected me to come through. His timing was perfect. He fell in behind and had no problem keeping up with us as we moved faster and faster down the trail, just wanting to get it done! We finished with a run over dirt roads to the campsite.

Back at camp, everyone sat around a campfire and enjoyed good food, drink, and company. Finishers and non-finishers alike, went home with coveted MMD painted rocks. We also all took home bruises, scrapes, and sore quads. I can hardly wait for next year. I'm sure Jonathon is already thinking up some new twists to throw in for 2010.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Acadia and MMD

I had a wonderful vacation in Acadia National Park this past week, and managed to get back home with plenty of time for the midnight start of MMD tonight!

Kevin and I camped at Seawall and had a great time hiking, mountain bike riding, running, and sampling the local beer and food. The weather was exceptional and we really had a lot of fun. I managed to get a few good runs in and was happy to find my legs felt great and my energy level was high. We biked and I ran on the carriage trails. This was a lot of fun. Those carriage trails are one hill after another! Our hike up the Southwest Ridge Trail was very fun, too. Kevin doesn't run, according to him, but he hikes very fast and I swear I saw a lot of running steps mixed in with the hiking. I love traveling fast on the trails!

I enjoyed lobster stew and pop overs at the Jordan Pond House and lots of great grilling back at Seawall. Lounging around on the rocks near the ocean or sitting by the campfire with a Bar Harbor Real Ale were also very relaxing after our days of activity. I hadn't been to the ocean in quite a while and this trip was just what I needed. I'm the daughter of a fisherman, I should get back to the ocean more often! Just the smell of the salt air was enough to make me smile for hours.

Tonight I will begin the 2009 edition of MMD in the White Mountains. MMD stands for More and More Difficult, and it is. This is a "fun run", not a race. The group of participants is small and by "invitation" only, making it a "non-event" (for those of you who are familiar with the White Mountain National Forest regulations). It's just a group of fun-loving trail runners/fast packers out torturing and exhausting themselves for hours on end. What fun!

I have a 50% finish rate there. Last year, a hardy group of men and women set off and only a very few found their way over the entire course. Hail, rain and cold were part of the problem, the steep slippery slope of Huntington ravine and the bush whack up Wildcat and another bush whack over a no-longer-exsisting trail added to the challenge. This year's forecast looks great and the course looks a little more friendly. Every year is different and we aren't informed much in advance about what the current year's edition will be like. The organizer, Jonathon, likes to keep us on our toes.

The midnight start is a bit of a challenge for me. I think my plan is to do a little reading until I fall asleep this afternoon (reading works better than any sleeping pill if I do it in a reclined position). Then I'll have a big meal before driving over to the campsite to say hi. I might follow that with another nap in the car and then be ready for our midnight start.

I'll write about how it all goes when I get back Sunday. I should also be able to post some fascinating photos of new bumps, bruises, and scrapes.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Not Quite Devil's Den Run

Yesterday's Devil's Den run was buggy, hot, and difficult...yet a good run. The run started on familiar ATV and snowmobile trails. The deer flies and mosquitoes were all over me in seconds and it was stifling hot and muggy in the thick woods. I told myself that this was all part of the experience and I tried to tolerate it with a good attitude. I looked forward to reaching the top of Devil's Den because I knew there would be a breeze and no insects! So I traveled fast and made good time, all the while thinking, "breeze, no bugs, breeze, no bugs..."

Sadly, when I got close to the top, just as I should have been breaking out of the trees into the nice breezy open meadow with the beautiful views, I ran into an area that had recently been heavily and brutally logged. Logging is a big part of the economy here and I have nothing against it when it is done responsibly. But these woods had been demolished. Slash had been piled up on both sides of the trail, building a very effective dam so water was pooled 3 feet deep in spots. Side trails had been cleared by just plowing through the trees and brush, and anything knocked down had just been left lying there. The main trail that I was running on had ruts that were 2 and 3 feet deep from driving skidders over it when it was wet and muddy. It became messier and messier with more and more slash strewn about. The water and the mud in the trail started looking black and smelling of oil. The flies seemed to thrive in this environment and I was being eaten alive.

I started looking for the turn off for the summit, but there was so much waste lying around that I couldn't even tell the main trail from the recently cut side trails. I made the wrong choice twice and came to dead ends and had to back track. Eventually I came out onto a dirt road that I recognized and realized I had missed the summit completely. So I was left with no breeze and plenty of bugs. I opted to stay on the dirt roads and headed toward Colcord Pond in Porter. This was much nicer running and the flies seemed to thin out quite a bit. I decided I would run the last 10 miles on pavement to avoid running back through the logged area and to stay out of the bugs.

The roads I ran on have almost no traffic and are very scenic. So, although it was getting close to noon and was very sunny and warm, I didn't really mind running the roads back home. I jumped into Spec Pond for a cool off at the end of my run. I ended up running about 22 miles in 4 hours. Some of those miles were very slow through the messy logging area, but it was all good hard work and I finished with that nice exhausted feeling I get after a good effort.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Back on Track

For the past week I have been back to daily running. My lumbar spine seems to be stable. My hamstring and hip remain tight but still allow me to run comfortably. As of yesterday, I am back on a traininhg schedule and have some goal races on the calendar.

I was really enjoying the cross training I was doing while injured, and it kept me surprisingly fit! The mountain biking, hiking, road cycling, yoga, plyometrics, and strength training gave me plenty of variety and I felt like I was playing, not training. Now that I am back running, I still plan to fit those fun cross training activities into my training schedule.

Yesterday I did a quick easy run on ATV trails early, then hiked Burnt Meadow Mountain with Amy. Burnt meadow is a short hike, but very steep. When we were almost at the top we met an elderly man on his way down over a very steep rocky section. Amy and I were impressed and we both vowed that we will still be able to do these sorts of hikes when we are his age.

Today I plan to run for about 3 1/2 hours on trails and tote roads, leaving from home and running to Devil's Den and back. I need to get a strength workout in after the run and I hope to get a mountain bike ride in later in the afternoon. So many fun things to do, so little time in the day!