Thursday, April 30, 2009

Nice Eight

Today's run was eight hilly miles on the Newfield Trails. It was a wonderful run, with lots of sunshine and a nice breeze. There were only a few really wet spots and they were easy to get around. I was able to run a good steady pace and my legs felt rested and strong.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Trail Tempo

Today my training plan called for 30 minutes of flat running at tempo pace. I was happy to see the side note, "trails OK, just go by effort" because I am completely in trail mode at this point. I have very little desire to run on the roads. I ran on at Hobbs Swamp in Parsonsfield, which is flat and fast as far as trails go. I don't know the mile marks, but I ran a steady hard 30 minutes at a heart rate of 168. With a good warm up and cool down, I think I ran about 8 miles total.

I am backing off some on the mileage this week, but doing a few high intensity workouts. Then the next two weeks will be a true taper. My friend M, who is training for a May marathon was just telling me she hasn't done enough long runs and enough training, but now she has to start tapering for the marathon. I know that feeling all too well. I have often gone into tapers feeling like I needed to train more and wasn't ready to back off yet. Not this time. I am thinking, Thank God it's time to back off a little! Thanks to good coaching help, I built and built and just as I am starting to feel like I don't have much more to give, it's time to taper! Now that is what I call a good training plan.

This weekend I will do a 3 to 3 1/2 hour trail run with my friend, Bob who is also running Massanutten. I haven't done any recent training with fellow ultra runners, so I am looking forward to it. It will be nice to talk race strategy and logistics with someone who can relate so closely!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Easy Run and Looking Ahead

By the time I finished my run this morning it was 80 degrees and humid. Phew.I've got to start getting out there earlier! I ran 6 miles easy on the Box Shop Trails in about 57 minutes. No speed records today, I'm still letting my legs recover. At the end of the run I was threatened by a Domestic Goose that had gotten out of its pen. It came running at me hissing with its wings spread out to the sides. But she was all bluff. Thank God.

I finally bit the bullet and took an in depth look at the entrant list for Massanuitten. As always the women's field is small but strong. Let's face it, Massanutten doesn't attract the weak at heart. I try hard not to let my competitiveness come into play in any race longer than 50 miles. It's very hard, but to finish a 100 miler I have to run how I feel and ignore what everyone else is doing. So I looked, took note of who will be there, and now I'll try to forget about it.

One disturbing thing I realized today, is that I have worn out all my shoes but one pair. I have to break in some new ones as soon as possible so I won't have to rely on this one pair to hold out through the entire race at MMT. I normally don't change shoes during a hundred miler, but I like to have a pair in one of my drop bags just in case. I'll have to order a pair for express delivery as soon as I'm done with this post. Some more hammer Gel and Shot Blocks need to be ordered, too. I love ultra training and the racing, but I'm not crazy about all the logistical planning and preparation.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Ran Out of Gas, Literally.

Today I wasted a good part of the day due to my own stupidity. I ran out of gas on the way to a dental appointment! How does something like this happen, you ask. Well, my Jeep makes a convenient little chime when it gets down to 1/8 tank and that reminds me to fill it. Apparently my new Yaris has no such warning system and a driver must actually look at the gage now and then. Imagine that! The Yaris goes a long long way on a tank of gas, but as I found out today, not indefinitely.

I called my daughter to come and get me, which turned into a fiasco of it's own because she arrived with no time to spare for trivial things like driving me to a get gas for the car. Shawna had to get to work and then had classes. She drove me back to Gorham with her, which is better than sitting on the side of route 25 in Limington, I guess. Long story short, it took me most of the day to get myself and my car back home.

Once back home I had all those household things on my list that still needed to be done. But let's face it, the day had really sucked and what I needed most at that point was to get out and blow off some steam. I had planned to take today off from running to rest my legs, so I opted for a bike ride followed by a fast uphill walk. It worked wonders. I feel a lot better. Big deal, so I ran out of gas and wasted an entire day sitting in a sunny window in a coffee shop in Gorham drinking way too much caffeine and reading the newspapers (all of them). There are worse ways to spend a day.

I learned my lesson, you can bet that I will never run out of gas again.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Two Days of Hill Climbs

Yesterday I ran up and down Green Mt with BJ with some side trips for a good day of hill work on trails. I tried to upload a video, but it disappeared when I posted. Oh well, it just showed the good hard hill work I was doing. My quads and calves are feeling very strong on the climbs and my cardio fitness feels great.

Today I decided to cap off the week with some more climbing. I took a short drive to Burnt Meadow Mountain and was surprised to see more cars parked at the trail head than I have ever seen before. This is the nicest weekend Maine has had yet this year and it is Sunday, so it makes sense. I almost kept driving, this trail is steep and technical in the second half and hikers who are clinging to rocks as they scramble for foot holds don't appreciate seeing someone "jogging" on the trail. I have had rude comments in the past, such as "you're gonna kill yourself you idiot!" But I decided to pull off the road and go ahead with my planned run.

I passed groups of hikers all the way up and they were all nice. Two different people asked "what are you training for?" Which is a good sign, I look like I'm training for something! I made it to the top in 25 minutes and 13 seconds. I don't know for sure, but I suspect this is the fastest I have ever climbed this mountain. I went down the back side on a less challenging, but longer trail. I turned around at the road and climbed back to the top. Pretty much all the hikers I had passed on my first climb were on the summit now. On my first trip through, I had the summit all to myself.

I ran back down the first trail. I didn't let myself really fly down the trail. I'm three weeks out from Massanutten and a sprain or strain is not something I want right now! Plus, with so many hikers out today I had to be cautious, I didn't want to bump into anyone. I have a little magnetic decal on my car that says "running girl" which was a gift from Bill and Kathy. On the way down I passed a group of guys heading up the trail and several of them nodded knowingly to each other and said in unison, "running girl." It struck me as funny.

So it really wasn't bad sharing the trail with so many people today. It made the run more intersting and fun.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Tired Legs

3 hours of snow mobile trails today after yesterdays 3 hours up and down Green Mountain, reminded me what my legs feel like at the end of a hundred miler. I had almost forgotten. I was still running, mind you. But it was the way I imagine I'll be running when I am in my eighties.

Tonight strength work.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Green Mountain Triple Ascent

Green Mountain in Effingham, New Hampshire is one of my favorite places to run. It is only a ten minute drive from my house and I have been waiting impatiently for the trails to be free from ice so I could get a good run in there. Today was the day!

I parked my car on Rt 25 and ascended via the Highwatch Rd and then the Highwatch Trail. Highwatch Road is just a stream now, but still runnable.

The Highwatch Trail is my favorite Trail up the mountain. It has some steep technical parts and is a challenge the whole way. Normally I walk briefly about three times on the way up. BJ had put the idea in my head that I should be able to run the whole way up. He set this as his goal for this summer, which of course planted the idea in my head. So when I got to the fallen tree which was my landmark for my first walk break, I just kept running. Before I knew it, I got to the place where I usually walked a second time and I kept running!

Then I finally got to my third walk place, a slippery steep rocky technical stretch. It had some ice on it today and the rocks that were exposed were wet and slippery. But I kept running and made it to the summit without a walk break. I was almost seeing stars at the top and my breathing was at a 1 to 1 ratio, one breath in with a step and one breath out with a step. That was hard work, but I was really happy that I had run all the way up.

The summit was windy! I didn't stop at the top, I figured I'd stop on my last visit to the summit, but not until then. I ran down the Fire Warden's Trail at a good pace. This trail is mostly loose rocks, a lot like Massanutten. At the bottom I ran over the Libby Road and Hobbs Rd to the next trail head, the Dearborn Trail. Libby and Hobbs roads are unmaintained, just double track trail now.

Dearborn Trail is always covered with dry leaves. I don't know why. Even in the winter there are dry leaves on top of the ice and snow. I don't understand it. Under those dry leaves there are little stones and roots and washed out places. This is a tough trail to run on, but probably the one I would recommend for hiking with kids. It is steep in spots, but not steadily steep like the other two trails. Also it is more sheltered than the other two. But it's a bear to run up and down! I ran up this one and surprisingly, didn't walk a step of it! I tripped a few times, but didn't go down.

At the top I met up with a couple of hikers. I ran back down Dearborn and over Libby and Hobbs Rd again to the Fire Warden's Trail. I ran up Fire Warden's and of course, I couldn't walk now! I had been running the entire time without a walk break, I couldn't blow it. I finally paused at the summit since this was my third and last trip to the top today. My heart rate was at 180, pretty close to my max. It was very windy at the top, but I climbed the fire tower for the view anyway.

Then my last descent was back down the Highwatch trail. I decided I would try to catch the two hikers I had seen at the summit earlier. They had climbed Highwatch and I guessed they would descend the same way. I had the advantage of knowing I was in a race. They were just moseying along, unsuspecting. I really flew down this trail. It is dangerous in spots, but I felt pretty sure footed. BJ had done some trail maintenance there a few weeks ago and it was much appreciated. I could tell where he had left off. It made a big difference.

I got all the way down to the trail head just in time to see the hikers driving away. I waved, even though I felt like shaking my fist at them and yelling, "I'll get you next time!" Then it was a nice easy downhill slope on Highwatch Road back to my car. But my planned three hours wasn't up yet, so I ran back up and down again on the Highwatch Road adding about 2 more miles.

All told, I ran up and down each of the three trails, starting at an elevation of 400 feet and hitting the summit of 1884 feet three times. Each trail is about 1.5 miles long. I did about two miles on Hobbs and Libby Roads and another four miles on Highwatch Rd. I'm calling the run 15 miles. It might be closer to 14, I'm not sure. It took 2:56. This is by far the best I have ever done on this route. I am very happy with how my run went today!

The photos were taken on the fly! So they aren't perfect, but might give you a good idea of the varying and challenging terrain on this small mountain. What's not to love?!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Black Flies and the Dump Man

The first black flies are out. I got one in each eye and one up my nose this morning. It will probably be another week or two before they are out in full force. I remember my first Spring in Maine as a student at UMaine in Orono. A group of us went out for a run in the woods. I was the only out-of-stater and I was eaten alive by the black flies. The flies didn't seem to bother the Maine natives. Maybe they had built up some sort of immunity from being bitten over and over again throughout their lives. I came back from that run covered with red welts which they all found very interesting and odd. The Black Flies don't effect me that way anymore so apparently people do build up some sort of resistance to their bites.

I ran 6 miles at an easy pace on wet trails this morning followed by hill sprints. My legs were tired from marathon pace running yesterday morning and an insane plyometric workout with BJ in the evening. The only real fan of my running that I have here in town is the Dump Man. He drove by as I was returning home on a short stretch of road. I had to pull it together and pick up the pace until he drove out of sight. It almost killed me, but I can't have him asking why I was dogging it next time I go to the dump. He can be a harsh critic at times.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Marathon Pace Run

Forty-five degrees with pouring rain and wind did not look very inviting for a run this morning. I told myself not to think about it, just get out there and do it. I was scheduled for an hour at 7:15 pace. I ran the flat eight mile Kezar Falls and Cornish loop with a mile around the Kezar Falls neighborhoods added on to make sure I ran the full hour.

My legs felt great after a rest day yesterday. I had a little soreness in the upper hamstrings from a lot of hills last week, and aching shoulders and arms from strength work last night. But I felt good and was running at what felt like a comfortably fast pace. I checked my watch at the 4 mile mark at Rite Aid and it read 29:20. As soon as I looked up from my watch I had to jump off the road because a crazy driver pulled out of the Rite Aid parking lot and started driving on the shoulder of the road straight towards me with no wipers or headlights on. I don't think he ever even saw me. Boy, do I hate running in town.

The pace was a little slower than hoped for, but I didn't think I could go any faster and still hold it for the whole run. So I just worked on staying steady for the rest of the way. I started imagining I was trying to hang onto the lead pack of women in yesterday's marathon. My imagination isn't so bold that I could imagine I was leading the women's pack, but hanging on to the back wasn't out of the realm of my fantasies. This second half of the loop was against the wind and the rain was really coming down, but I was living in my little pretend world and I felt OK.

As I get tired it is hard for me to push off with any spring to keep my stride open. Lately, I have been trying to increase my turnover when I feel my stride starting to shorten and tighten. So with a few miles to go, when my stride started to tighten up and my pace started to slow down, I started concentrating on a quick efficient turnover. This isn't natural for me. I tend to have a slower turnover with a long loping stride. My natural running form is not the most efficient in the world. For years, other runners tried to teach me to increase my turnover and shorten my stride. It just never stuck. But today I really focused on it and this allowed me to hold my pace to the end of the run. It absolutely uses less energy to run that way, but old habits are hard to break. I'll have to keep working on it.

I ended up with nine miles in 1:06:47. This works out to be 7:24 pace or so, a little slower than my hoped for 7:15, but I did my best and held a steady effort the whole way.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Rest Day

I was tired on my run yesterday and decided to take a rest day today. Well, not complete rest, just rest from running. I did a 4 mile uphill treadmill walk at full incline while watching the exciting Boston Marathon coverage over the internet. I walked at 4.2 MPH and it was a nice workout without the wear and tear of running. Tonight I am going to BJ's for an arms, back, and abs strength workout. I have lost a little weight with all the training I have been doing and my arms are starting to look and feel like cooked strands of spaghetti. Well, maybe not that bad, but you get the idea.

Tomorrow will be marathon pace running. I should be rested and rearing to go.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Nice Recovery Run

BJ and I met at the elementary school in Parsonsfield after I saw my last patient this evening. I wasn't at all sore from yesterday's long run, but I was pretty tired. I knew BJ had turned an ankle while running on his trails Thursday night and was still sore from that, so I figured he would be good slow company for me today. He was willing to give running on the ankle a try, only asking that we run on pavement or solid level trails. I took him out on the old Hobbs Swamp Road, only to discover that it was neither as solid nor as level as I thought it was. BJ had to walk on some of the soft washed out areas to avoid aggravating his ankle, but I was so slow tonight that he really didn't fall behind much as I continued running over those spots. We ran to the end of the trail at Chase Rd and decided to return on the pavement. I think we ran a total of 6 miles in about an hour, 3/4 of it on rough trail/old washed out dirt road. It was a really nice recovery run.

Friday, April 17, 2009

50K Plus

I gathered all the motivation I had and left my house just before 4AM for my run this morning. It was 26 degrees and dark when I started. Tracy Chapman was singing, "if not now, then when..." on my MP3. Fitting, since I had to get this long run in this morning before work, or it wouldn't be happening at all this week. I have a tough working weekend ahead of me.

I started with two miles on the road, then hit the rough, rocky, hilly snowmobile trails and tote roads of South Hiram, Porter and Brownfield. These trails are good Massanutten training with loose rocks, wash outs, and water crossings...what more could I ask for!

I hit Devil's Den on the way out, then continued to Brownfield and climbed Burnt Meadow Mt from the back side, then back to Devil's Den by a meandering wet path, down to Colcord Pond, then Black Bog... I was just wandering. I've been on all these trails before. It is possible to run for many hours without ever hitting pavement in this area. I didn't pre-plan my route, I just went where I felt like going.

I tried out my new UV water purifier. I'm used to squeezing or pumping water through a filter, or adding iodine tablets. The Steripen UV system seemed too easy. There was something a little disturbing about stirring a blue glowing wand around in the water for a few seconds and calling it good. It felt like I was performing some sort of magical spell. I even said out loud,"Hocus Pocus, protozoa be gone!" We'll see if I come down with some sort of gut wrenching parasitic infection within the next few weeks.

I tried Cliff Shot Blocks today along with my usual Hammer Gel and granola bars. I probably ate about 1200 calories during my six plus hours of running. That is more calories per hour than I have ever eaten during a run. But I felt better throughout the whole run than I have ever felt on a run of this length. I was practically prancing up the hills even at the end. OK, maybe not prancing, but not shuffling or staggering. And I felt great after I was done running. That's a good thing as I still have to work this afternoon.

I had started shedding layers as soon as the sun came out. By the time I was done it was 56 degrees and I had so much stuff tied around my waist, it looked like I was wearing some sort of odd rendition of a ballerina's tutu. But instead of the usual frilly pink stuff, there were gloves, a hat, a few tops, a vest, sunglasses, a water purifier, a cell phone, a pager, and a fanny pack tied to my waist. I exited the woods in Kezar Falls, about a half mile from my house.

I looked it up on my topo maps and my run was at least 32 miles, probably a little more. It took me 6 hours and 9 minutes. This was a great confidence builder. I am ready for Massanutten!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Newfield Trails Revisited

I had a brief taste of the Vernon Wallker Wildlife management Area last week and couldn't wait to run there again. Finally, today my work travels brought me back there for a late afternoon run. I brought my digital camera and took photos at all the intersections so I could find my way back. This is a trick I learned from BJ. It's easy and effective.

First, I climbed up to a scenic overlook from which I could see Mount Washington in the distance. It was very pretty with clear blue skies. I was having an easy relaxed run today, so I took the time to enjoy the scenary for a few minutes. On the way down from the overlook, I practiced fast downhill running. I could feel that I have really improved on my steep rocky downhills. No more tiptoeing carefully, I just let myself roll!

I took a side trail and climbed up to some grassy fields with three turkeys picking at something on the ground. Then the trail led me down another steep rocky descent for more downhill practice. I eventually reached some wetlands that were very noisy with the sound of birds singing. I ran very slow on all the uphills and flats, and flew on all the downhills. The trail did not seem to be circling back toward my car, so I turned around and ran back the same way I had come. I ran just over an hour and I'm guessing it was about 6 miles.

My plan is to get up very early and do a long run before work tomorrow. It will be my longest run before Massanutten. I sure hope I will have the will power to drag myself out early. I have to work and take call all weekend, so if the long run doesn't happen tomorrow it won't happen this week.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tempo Run on Standish Rails to Trails

At work today I was "loaned out" to the Portland division, so I had the opportunity to run on the Standish Rails to Trails. I used to run there quite often on the way home when I worked out of Portland. I wanted to do a tempo run today and this was the perfect course for it. It has convenient little markers every quarter mile (give or take), it's a rail bed so it is pretty darned flat, and it is only lightly used so there aren't many people to witness my strained expression and my flying sweat. I parked in Standish and ran to Windham for a bout 4.5 miles, and added another mile on a paved exercise path that continues from Windham toward Portland. This paved portion is new since I last ran there.

I did a mile and a half warm up and then picked the pace up to around 7 minute miles for 4 miles. This brought me to the turn around point. I felt pretty good on the tempo part of my run, but it was still hard work. I think of tempo pace as just over the threshold of uncomfortable. It isn't supposed to feel like a walk in the park.

The trail was fairly firm for the most part. The sun was shining and it was warm enough for shorts and a tank top. The trail passed a few grassy fields and they were just starting to turn green. There were only a few small patches of snow left. I love the Spring.

I really relaxed on the way back, but still made good time. I have been doing almost all my runs on hilly courses lately, so the flat run today felt like a treat. My run today was a total of 11 miles with a total time of 1:28:14, including 4 miles at 7 minute pace.

I am definitely more fit than I have been in a few years and it feels good! I am still not as fit or fast as I was about 5 years ago before my cascade of injuries started, but I am very glad to be where I am with my running. Two times in the past two weeks I have had new patients ask me out of the blue, "are you a runner?" Both times I was in my professional attire, so it wasn't the running shoes or sweat pants giving me away. I look like a runner, that makes me happy!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

North Conway Run

I asked M to start without me for a change today. Usually I am the one planning on more miles so I head out first for an hour or more before we start our run together. Today, M wanted to do 3 hours and I thought I still needed one more easy day to recover from back to back long runs on the weekend. So M started without me and I joined her a little later.

M had already done about 10 miles when I joined her. She ignored me when I said I only wanted to do an hour today, and led me out into the National Forest at the end of Town Hall Rd in North Conway. I really didn't feel too bad and ended up running 1:55 for about 12 miles of dirt roads and trails. My hamstrings were a little tight starting out, but felt better by the time we finished. The weather was beautiful, sunny and in the fifties. It was nice to see dandelions out!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Second Long Run

My legs are a little tight today, particularly the hamstrings. But otherwise, I felt pretty good for my run this morning. It was 29 degrees and sunny when I left my house. I ran on easy ATV trails and dirt roads. After the clear Connecticut trails yesterday, I was disappointed to find Maine still has snow and ice in spots. I definitely didn't have a lot of spring in my step today and ran at a much easier effort than yesterday, but thanks to the easy trails, I ran faster and covered more distance today. I did about 18 miles in 3:04.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Northern Nipmuck Trail Race

During the 3 1/2 hour drive to Connecticut I put together some race goals for today.
1. Run the whole thing. Unless there were spots that were absolutely too technical to run, I didn't want to walk any of the course today.
2. Use the race to work on uphill and downhill form and efficiency. This course was said to have many many steep ups and downs throughout the whole run. I wanted to put them to good use.
3.Run equal splits for the first and second halves of the race. It was an out and back course and I wanted to pace myself to be just as strong at the end as at the beginning.
4. Finish in about three hours. I had looked at previous years race results and saw that runners of about my ability had been running 3:00-3:10.
5. Don't fall.
6. Feel good and enjoy myself the whole run. I know this can't be forced, but I'd do my best!

The light rain showers had ended and the temperature was about 45 degrees at the start of the Northern Nipmuck 16 miler. The course started with a long steady climb, which warmed me up quickly. I wore two light long sleeve tops and medium weight tights, and I had a light pair of gloves tucked into my waist band. Most people had on less clothing than me, but I hate to be cold.

I ran the first half of the race trading places with Deb Livingston. I should just leave it at that so all of you who are familiar with the Northeast trail running scene will be extremely impressed. But the truth is that she was taking it easy today because she is expecting her second child. This gave me the opportunity to see a very gifted and natural trail runner up close and learn a few things. Her downhill running is truly amazing. She is incredibly fast, sure footed, and smooth on the downs. It is really beautiful to see. I tried to match her pace on the downs which meant I had to increase my turnover and also increase the length of my strides. The moment her foot touched the ground she instantly and effortlessly pushed off into the next stride, so I tried to do the same. To stay with her on the downs I had to trust my footing and just let myself "roll" down the hill. When I did it right, it was much easier and faster than my usual short fast choppy downhill steps. Also, after a little practice, I started feeling like I had more control and I was less likely to fall. Funny that letting go more made me feel more in control, but it really did! Deb and her husband gave me a few more pointers on downhill running after the race as we walked back to the cars. They are both very friendly and open people.

I ran up all the hills except for a few times when I had to walk a few steps until I could get around the person in front of me. There were a lot of hills, actually very little flat. The hills were relatively short, but very steep. It was a very fun course and perfect for the training I wanted to do today. I checked my watch at the turn around and tried to hold my pace and effort steady for the return trip.

I ran for a while with a guy named Frank. He told me a lot about the Javelina course which I plan to run in October. He gave me a lot of useful information and I enjoyed his company. Eventually I had to let him go on ahead while I took a pit stop. I had fun working for the next 15 or 20 minutes trying to catch him again. When I finally got him in sight it looked like he might be starting to cramp up. When I caught him he confirmed that his calves were cramping. I stayed with him for a bit and then went on ahead.

With about 6 miles to go, the temperature started dropping and it started showering lightly. Then it got even colder and started raining harder. I pulled my sleeves back down from my elbows and put on my gloves. I was moving along well and stayed warm and comfortable. I got to the last aid station with 4 miles to go. there were two young guys working the station. They had plastic cups filled with Gatorade, water, and soda set up in exceptionally tidy rows. I lifted a cup of coke and it slipped out of my wet glove and surprisingly, spilled almost every cup on the table and soaked both of the men. I'm still not sure how I did that. One of the guys turned to the other and said, "I told you stuff like this would happen when the runners came through the second time, all delirious and hypothermic." I grabbed the only cup of coke still standing, said sorry and thanks, and took off for the home stretch. I felt remarkably fresh and strong all the way to the finish.

I went straight to my car and changed into dry clothes so I wouldn't get chilled. I enjoyed the post race pizza and delicious homemade soup while standing near the fire pit talking running with a friendly bunch of people I had never met before. I also got to talk with Dan, from snowshoe racing and Barbara, one of the toughest runners I know. The runners that were coming in after me looked very cold and miserable, complete with blue lips and the shivers. I was lucky to have finished before conditions got too bad. Race organizers and volunteers had a tough day out there in the cold rain. Thanks to them Northern Nipmuck went off without a hitch. It was an awesome race on a beautiful and challenging trail. I'll definitely do it again.

results .here

So, how did I do with my race goals?
1. I did run the whole way except for a few steps here and there when there were runners walking in front of me.
2.I am very happy with the hill training I did today. People have TOLD me over and over again how to improve my downhill running, but having someone SHOW me made a world of difference.
3. I ran the first half in 1:24:30 and the second half in 1:30, not equal splits, but there was rain and a lot more mud on the way back.
4. I got an unofficial finish time of 2:54:30, so I met my time goal.
5. Despite slippery wet rocks and roots, I never came close to falling! I love my Salomons.
6. I had a blast and finished feeling that I could probably continue running for another ten miles.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Nice Evening Run

Tonight BJ and I set out from his house for an easy run. My legs were tired from too much exploring yesterday. We turned off onto an old road that looked interesting. There had been a lot of recent logging activity in this area, but the road itself had been cleaned up well when they were done and it was very nice running. As with so many of these old unmaintained roads, there were stone walls and house foundations hinting at what the area used to look like over a hundred years ago. There was some mud, but it really wasn't too bad. BJ might disagree with that statement, as he likes to keep his shoes clean.

We made our way up to a nice hilltop with views of the area. BJ pointed out the different landmarks for me. We ran back down, trying to curve around so we could make a loop and return on the paved road. We got to within about fifty yards of the paved road, but the trail ended at someone's house. We didn't think it would be good manners to march right past the house and up the driveway to the road, so we did a short bushwhack to the road instead. It was a very relaxed and enjoyable run.

I will have to take another easy day tomorrow to rest up for a tough training weekend. I am planning to drive down to Connecticut for the Northern Nipmuck 16 miler this Saturday. I think it will be a fun day trip for me. It will be day one of back to back long runs this weekend. I'll get out for an early morning day two long run on Sunday before cooking Easter dinner.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Newfield Trails

There are two trail heads in Newfield on rte 11 that I drive by quite often. They are about four miles apart from each other, one on each side of the road. I decided today would be the day to finally explore one or both of these trails. So on my way home I pulled off at the first trail. An old decaying hand carved wooden sign said, "Bond Homestead, Bond Mt Summit, Silver Mine, and Burial Ground. Well Worth the Walk. Enjoy." There was a spring near the road with a sign saying to help yourself at your own risk. The water was crystal clear, cold and delicious.

The trail climbed steadily for about a mile. The incline was just right for running, hard work but not hard enough to bring me to a walk. At the top there were several old foundations with hand carved signs indicating the historic significance of the different sites. The summit probably had nice views about ten years ago, but now it is covered with ten foot high hemlocks. I enjoyed looking around and imagining what this hill top looked like when Sergeant Thomas Bond lived here with his family back around 1820. The burial ground was flooded over with snow melt. As I left I noticed another small sign mounted on a tree with the following inscription carved onto its face, "Thomas and Amanda Bond Married here in 1993." I thought that was sweet.

I zipped back down to the spring for another drink, jumped into the car, and drove the few miles to the next trail head. The sign here read "Vernon Walker Wildlife Preserve, Maintained by Maine Dept of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife." This trail is the kind of trail I run on in my dreams! (Yes, I do dream about running on trails sometimes). The path was a carpet of old pine needles and the woods were dense and dark and pressing in on both sides. It was about 6:30PM and cloudy. The lighting was just right to make the woods feel mysterious and a little scary. The trail sloped down to a fast moving brook that looks like a great trout stream. I should know, I was married to a trout fisherman for 23 years. I have the waders and fly rod to prove it. There was a nice little wooden bridge over the stream, quite a luxury!

There seems to be a complicated and extensive network of trails through this area. The trails are in beautiful condition with very little erosion. I ran up to the height of land and had some nice views of some distant mountains. I'm not sure which ones they were, possibly the Ossippee Hills. I turned back when it started getting dark. there is a lot of trail left to explore out there with some really great running! I can't wait to get back out there. I might be able to run there tomorrow before work, it depends where they send me.

The trails are still quite wet in spots, but most of the snow is gone. I did hit a little ice and snow in some of the more sheltered spots, but nothing serious. The shoe drier that Dan gave me two years ago has been working overtime. It has been plugged in and running with one or another pair of running shoes on it for the past two weeks. That is one of the best gifts I have ever received!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tempo Repeats

Today's tempo pace repeats went very well. This run gave me a much needed confidence boost after a couple of rough running weeks. I ran on the trails that run along the Ossippee River in South Hiram. The trail starts about a mile from my house. It is a 2mile loop of rolling hills on well groomed single track trail and grassy fields. Normally I wouldn't be crazy about running a two mile loop over and over again, but I wanted to check the pace of my repeats today. I was aiming for 5 X 5 minutes at 7:00 pace, but to make things easier to keep track of, I decided on 3/4 mile in 5:15. On my first warm up loop I paced off what was roughly the 3/4 mile mark of each mile. I know, I'm not supposed to get hung up on the exact pace, it's all about effort. But I really needed to show myself that my training was going OK.

My repeats ranged from 6:55 pace to 7:05 pace depending on the uphills and downhills. I returned to an easy pace to recover for 1/4 mile between each repeat and reversed direction each loop. I did all five, but probably didn't have another one left in me. I did an easy loop afterwards and with the mile to and from the trail it was a total of 10 miles. On the last road mile back to my house my legs were aching and tired. What a great feeling! Now I can lie around on the couch and read all this cloudy wet afternoon without feeling guilty.

Monday, April 6, 2009

A Real Maine Trail Run

This morning I finally felt like my old self. I had a beautiful run on the old Town Farm Rd. This is nothing but doubletrack and singletrack trail now. I like to look at the old foundations, stone walls, and the occasional piece of rusting farm equipment. I try to imagine what this road looked like 150 years ago and wonder why at some point, it was just abandoned.

The loop I do is about 6.5 miles. Today some of the higher points were solid bare ground. I daydreamed about summer trail running on those stretches! A lot of the hills were running water streams from the snow melt. This was actually good running because the stream beds were solid and rocky. These stretches gave me a chance to get my shoes clean. There was still some snow, knee deep in one low lying area!

I met up with a landowner that I hadn't met before and finally had the opportunity to ask if it was OK for me to run through his property to get back to Kezar Falls. I have been running through here for years, but never met the landowner before. He was very nice and welcoming. He even gave me some tips on other trails to run on.

Maine has a very unique tradition of what is called "open access." Privately owned undeveloped parcels of land are accessible to the public for recreation, unless they are posted with signs limiting or restricting use. I never go on posted land, and out of respect for the landowners, I try to ask permission to go on unposted land. More and more land is being posted and our "open access" tradition is in danger. The state is doing a lot of research trying to figure out how to avoid loosing public access to private lands. When you consider that 90 percent of Maine land is privately owned and 38 percent of Mainers enjoy recreation of one sort or another on these lands, it sure would be a shame to loose this tradition.

I think if we want to continue to enjoy the privilege of public access, the most important thing we can do is be respectful and considerate to the landowners. This means talking to the landowners if we meet them, staying away from structures and houses and gardens, not ever leaving litter behind, not being loud and obnoxious, leaving the land like we find it, and respecting any limits the landowner puts on public use (like no hunting or no motorized vehicles.)

This cause is near and dear to me. I'm not one to frequent maintained and official trails so much. I love to travel and explore the tote roads, old abandoned town roads, and foot paths in the local woods. To me, this is what trail running in Maine is.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Sun and Mud

Today was a beautiful sunny early Spring day. I was scheduled for an hour at 7:20 pace today. I haven't been successful at getting any of my other planned workouts in this week, so I decided to at least get this one done. I didn't start my run until 5PM because I saw a few patients today for overtime pay. By the time I started the wind had picked up quite a bit, but otherwise it was perfect running weather.

I ran a fairly flat eight mile loop and it took me 1:01:28. Not exactly 7:20 pace, but still a good effort. My legs are feeling good, but I still have some wheezing and coughing left over from being sick. Earlier this week I was starting to fear I might have bronchitis or pneumonia. Now I am finally on the mend and I think I can stop worrying about this turning into a prolonged lay up. Phew!

After my marathon pace running I went out for a short jog into the woods to check the trail conditions. I'm happy to report there is plenty of mud out there, which means springtime in Maine!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

New Trails!

After a nice brunch of waffles (my favorite) I headed out from BJ's house in Cornish for my run today. About two miles from his house I was tempted by a lightly trafficked snowmobile trail that looked to be well on its way to melting down to bare ground. I had never been out on any of the ATV/snowmobile trails in that area. I turned off the dirt road I was on and headed into the woods. Because of my scare a few nights ago, I called BJ on my cell phone shortly after leaving the road to tell him about my change in plans. Then I relaxed and enjoyed the trail.

I was in heaven exploring new trails! There was a lot of bare ground, some water and some snow. I knew I was heading toward town, I just wasn't sure how far I would have to go before hitting a road or looping back. It was great fun with good steep climbs, mud, rocks, and running water. I am still not back to 100 percent, but I felt pretty good today. I know it's a good run when I catch myself smiling for no special reason as I run along.

After about an hour and a half I came out on a dirt road. At first I couldn't figure out what road it was, but I knew I had run on it before. I finally realized I was on Pendexter Rd. How had I gotten so far away from BJ's house?! I ran until I had done a total of 2 hours and then called BJ to ask him to come get me in the car. I am finally getting over my cold and didn't think I should push myself by doing another long run today.

I loved this trail! I will try to incorporate it into my next long run.


Imagine running through icy winds in a down pour with a chest cold and you will get the picture of how yesterday's long run went. It wasn't fun and I didn't go as far as I had hoped to. We'll leave it at that.

I'm discouraged about this weeks training, it has been very poor because I've been sick. Better now than on race weekend in May. I am trying to tell myself that a week of low mileage and slow running will leave me well rested and fresh jumping into next week's training.

I'm not a big believer in vitamins and supplements. I feel a person should be able to meet all their nutritional needs through a good diet. Most Americans take in much more vitamins and minerals than their bodies need. What the body can't use, it doesn't absorb. Studies have shown that Americans have the most expensive crap in the world (the studies put it more delicately). So I try not to play the supplement game. I can't afford to throw 100's of dollars in the toilet each month.

Having said that, I am going to jump on the American Supplement Bandwagon today. I'll pick up some sort of multivitamin at the pharmacy. I have been sick too much in the past month!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

My 2009 First Run in Shorts

There have been a few nice warm days before today when shorts would have worked, but work kept me from running during the warmer mid day hours on those days. So today was the day! BJ and I ran 5.2 miles out and back on Spec Pond Rd. We didn't start our run until about 6PM and it was still so warm that I had to shed one of my two top layers at the turn-around. It was a nice run. BJ and I usually manage to talk non-stop through our runs, so the miles go by fast. Today my lungs and throat were burning from the last of my cold and every time I tried to talk I started coughing, so I had to let him do all the talking. Tomorrow is supposed to be a 5 hour long run. I'm meeting M. in North Conway for 3 hours and if my cold doesn't stop me, I'll do an additional two hours alone after. Then we'll be going out for a much needed night on the town.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

After Three Decades of Running Alone in the Woods, I Am Still Learning Lessons

I couldn't wait to run after work today. I am starting to get over my cold, but I didn't think I should push my luck with the planned fast paced workout. So I parked on the side of the road in Parsonsfield about an hour before dark and headed out into the woods for an easy run. I hadn't run on these particular trails in about 10 or 15 years. They were never what I would consider well maintained and they are still in pretty rough shape. Tonight there was snow, slush, ice, and mud in equal amounts. When I was still married and my kids were young these trails were regularly used for my evening runs. I'd tear through as fast as I could while Jeff read the kids their bedtime stories. My goal was always to make it home in time to say good night to the kids.

The first few miles were a little nostalgic. I was talking to myself saying things like, "oh, here's the spot where that old rabbit hunter called me a Woods Nymph," and "here's where I found that huge heavy moose antler and ran 4 miles home carrying it!" and "I remember seeing a black bear in the berry brambles along this stream one time while I was walking in here with Shawna." I hate being nostalgic, it depresses me.

Then the trail turned into a bog. Trails change over time, it's no secret. But it surprised me to find it wasn't the way I remembered it. I should have turned around and retraced my steps because it was getting dark. But by now I was on a trip down Memory Lane and I had to see it through.

I started to bushwhack around the bog. Does anyone feel a recurring theme coming on? Yes, I lost the trail. But in addition to the usual going off trail, it got dark, it started to rain, there was no cell phone signal, and I had left my light in the car. But...I did have on a reflective vest for some reason. At least I wouldn't get hit by a car out there.

It's that damned explorer gene I have. I blame my father. I can't just stick to the beaten path, even when it is the wise thing to do. So I tromped around in the woods looking for the Fred Morrill School where I was determined I should eventually come out. There were no moon and stars visible, I couldn't see any house lights anywhere, and I couldn't hear any traffic. I started to get a little scared when I came upon some footprints in the snow. Bending down and squinting at them, I realized they were mine... heading in the same direction I was currently walking. It occurred to me that I was doing the proverbial "walking in circles" that all the idiots who get lost in the woods do. I hate to admit it, but I came close to panicking for a minute or two. I started walking and running in no particular direction. I just wanted to get out of there.

I have been known to be "lost" before. I even have a little quip about it below my profile picture on this blog. Often, people who agree to run with me in the woods find themselves exploring new routes and running twice as far as they had planned to. They joke, "don't run with laurel, she'll get you lost for hours!" But we were never really "lost" on those runs. We might have been traveling over unknown trails but we were heading in a set direction and knew pretty much where we would eventually come out.

I was only worried for a few moments before I realized that I wasn't really lost. I stopped moving so I could clear my head. I told myself that I wasn't an idiot so first, I should stop walking around in circles! I had been spending time in the woods since I was very young.I knew where I was in a map in my mind and I knew how to walk in a straight line in the woods. I was fine. These were the same friendly woods I ran through so many times in the past. I had allowed the dark, the rain, and the poor footing to distract me. I couldn't see much, but I could hear a stream. I kept it to my right and followed it. It was simple, but if I hadn't calmed myself down I might still be out there running around like an idiot in my ridiculous reflective vest. The stream eventually brought me back to the bog where I had originally gone off course. From there I followed the trail back to my car.

I was out there for 2 hours and 54 minutes. Lessons learned:
1. I should always carry a light if there is a chance I will be out on the trail after dark.
2. I need to make sure someone knows where I am (I had called home to tell Dan to let Bart out because I was stopping for a run before coming home, but stupidly did not tell him where I was running.)
3. I should save the bushwhacking and exploring for days when I have an unsuspecting sucker, I mean running friend, along for the run.
4. I need to stay calm and think things through whenever I am in a tight spot.
5. No matter how benign or familiar the trail is, I have to be prepared to keep myself safe.