Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Speed Work?!

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

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

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

Monday, November 23, 2009

Goals for 2010

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 20, 2009

Exploring Trails

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


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

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

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

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

Monday, November 16, 2009

Longer Run than I was Ready For Today

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

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

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

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Short Rainy Run in the Middle of a Long Day

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

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

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Hilly Road Run

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

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

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

Monday, November 9, 2009

Another Great Running and Biking Weekend

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 6, 2009

Cure for a Bad Day

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

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

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 2, 2009

Sunday Biking

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

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

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

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

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