Thursday, December 31, 2009

My New Home Gym

A few weeks ago I posted about my treadmill dying and said it was OK, I should be running outside anyway. Well since then I have been reminded that a lot of work days have me on the road until late in the evening and then on call even later than that. Mornings find me working from home importing stuff on the computer, which involves a lot of waiting around. The treadmill was an excellent way to get a run in on those late work nights while still being close to the phone and pager, and a way to squeeze in a few extra miles in the mornings while importing charts.

I found myself spinning on the bike trainer last night for lack of treadmill. Spinning is worse torture than a treadmill run could ever think of being! Neither Blues Traveler nor The Counting Crows could make up for the fact that I was spinning on the bike. I told myself I'd spin until Kevin got home from work, hopefully no longer than 30 minutes. I kept the cadence up and kept my heart rate at 146-152. I can be disciplined if I have to. But didn't I hate every second of that workout. Wouldn't you know it? Kevin was about 18 minutes late and I ended up torturing myself for 48 minutes. When he came in the door instead of saying hello, I said something like, "thanks a lot, I had to do this asinine thing for 48 minutes instead of just 30!" Not to worry, I have ordered a new treadmill.

My daughter JUST moved down to Florida and I am making her room into a gym. I've already got my Bowflex and my bike trainer up there. Today I'll move my free weights, exercise ball, mats, and all that. When the new treadmill arrives my gym will be complete! Let's hope the daughter doesn't come back home in a week. She'd be disappointed to find she had to sleep on the weight bench.

This morning I will be heading outside for a run on the roads and snowmobile trails (if they are well packed). Outside running is always my preference, but a treadmill run is better than no run at all. Even on days when I get my outdoor run in, I try to do a second indoor workout in the evening. Normally this has been done in my combination office/gym/pellet stove room. Needless to say, a room with a pellet stove in it is a hot place to work out. I'm excited about the new gym and I might even post a picture after the treadmill arrives. Just don't mention a thing about any of this to my daughter!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2009, Boom or Bust?

Early in the year I re-injured my lower spine and couldn't run at all for a while. When I was able to resume running, my pace had become much slower and my stride much much shorter...
but I was able to resume running!

I made a lot less money than in past years...
because I quit my second job and have more free time to enjoy life and spend time outside having fun!

I now have a cluttered and crowded house...
and it is full of more happiness and love than it has ever been.

I injured my right shoulder...
and I did it while developing a new passion for mountain biking!

I DNFed at two hundred milers this year...
but I finished under 24 hours against all odds at the Vermont 100 and had fun doing it!

Those are the only negative things I can come up with and they all seem to have a positive twist to them. Hmmm, what else happened in 2009?

Kevin and I spent a lot of quality time sitting on the front porch with our feet on the rail in the evenings this past summer. I enjoyed at least some small part of every single day. I've had some great hikes, road bike rides, trail runs, road runs, walks, mountain bike rides, snowshoe runs, and cross country ski outings. Kevin and I built some fantastic new trails for biking and running! I spent a lot of time outdoors and in the woods.

I was healthy and fit and active for the majority of 2009. I smiled a LOT. I fell in love. I kept my good job and my beautiful home (I know some who weren't as fortunate). I have two healthy kids. My old dog is still alive and kicking. I have plans and goals and dreams for the future. I am very happy.

2009? Definitely a Boom year.

Monday, December 28, 2009

I Got Lost on a Road Run !?

I ran in Buxton near the end of my work day yesterday. Buxton always confuses me. The roads don't run straight across at nice angles to each other, they kind of criss-cross at strange tangents and never seem to come out where I think they should. I get confused driving in Buxton and just have to trust my GPS without using my own sense of direction. Since I don't use a GPS running, I should have known I'd get into trouble running in Buxton.

I had a few hours to kill before I could see my last patient. I usually look for a school, post office, or library to park at while I work in the car. I located a little elementary school using the GPS. But after an hour of working on the laptop in my cramped little car, I was getting claustrophobic and restless. I changed my clothes and went out into the rain for a nice run. I figured I'd run 30 minutes out and then return the same way. The 30 minutes out felt great. The rain was a lot lighter than it had been earlier in the day and the temperature was near 50 by my estimate. Unfortunately, I was day dreaming throughout the run out and when I turned around to head back to the car, all I remembered was that I had crossed the Saco River at one point...not a lot to go on.

Retracing my steps the best I could, I occasionally saw something that looked familiar. Then I'd ask myself, "is it familiar from this run or from driving past it during my work day?" I did cross back over the Saco River on the same bridge I had crossed earlier, but after another thirty minutes went by I realized I was not on the road the school was on. I was on a road with a lot of big fields and an occasional farm house.

Just when I was wondering what to try next, I saw a woman walking an enormous white dog. I approached her from behind and scared the bejeepers out of both her and the dog. After they settled down I explained that I was trying to find my car, which I had parked at "a little white elementary school." It turns out there are a few little white elementary schools in the area. She gave me directions to them.

The first one I tried was the wrong school. I was still feeling good and having a great run, but I still had to get to my patient's house. I started to feel a little twinge of panic. I back tracked and then followed the woman's directions to the second possibility. I was almost sprinting at this point because I really had to get back to work soon. Suddenly things started to look familiar! I was very excited to find my car. I put in over two hours of good hard running and hit the towns of Buxton, Hollis, and Saco. I made it back in time to change my clothes and arrive at my last visit wet, but a few minutes early. I woke up with sore legs this morning. There's nothing like a little panic to make me push the pace!

Thursday, December 24, 2009


I did my Plyometric workout last night instead of today because I wanted to have Christmas eve freed up for other things! I also did my two planned workouts for yesterday, a short easy run and an upper body strength workout. So this morning's 6 mile run with 1 mile at tempo pace was done on sore and tired legs. But I got through it with only a minimal amount of whining and groaning.

Plyometrics is a killer, but fun! For Plyometrics, I do the P90X hour long workout. I suppose one could dog it a little on this workout, but I work hard because I love the leg and butt strength it gives me and the cardio workout I can get at the same time. I can keep my heart rate up in the high 160's for 45 to 50 minutes straight during Plyometrics while making my quads, gluts, and calves "feel the burn" for the entire time. It is an hour of jumping, squatting, jumping, lunging, and more jumping. I finish this workout with my hands on my knees, gasping for air. I love it!

Tomorrow I don't plan to do a formal workout, but I might get out for a walk or something. I've always tried to keep holidays free to spend time with family and friends. No Thanksgiving Day races for me, no New Year's Day Resolution Runs, and definitely no Christmas Day workouts. I will be working some of the day tomorrow, but whatever free time I have I will want to spend with my loved ones. Happy Holiday to all!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Road and Trail Run

This morning I was due for an 11 mile run. I decided to run 5 miles on the road and then stop by my house for my snowshoes. Then I'd run the last 6 by snowshoeing back and forth over the 1 mile stretch of singletrack we call River Run. Running back and forth three times over a 1 mile stretch of trail might sound nuts, but I have my reasons!

I have been itching to get out on the snow on my mountain bike. This is a busy week for me with work and with the holiday coming up, but I'm thinking I might be able to get out on the trails with the bike on Christmas Eve. So today I was grooming the trail while I put in my miles. I think Kevin will be surprised to see how much use this trail has gotten since the last snowfall and how nicely packed it is. It is looking very good for biking!

The snowshoe portion of the run was very exhausting! I'm beginning to realize that a marathon is a long way to run on snowshoes. I did a twenty miler on snowshoes once last winter, so I know I can do it. But it will be tough.

Monday, December 21, 2009

This Week's Plan

This week's training plan is as follows:

M-chest, back, and abs strength work and short easy run
T-11 mile run
W-abs, arms and shoulders strength work and short easy run
Th-6 miles with 1 mile at tempo, Plyometrics
F- off for Christmas
Sa-short easy run
Su- 6 on snowshoes at Marathon Pace

Today I ran against the wind on a steady slight uphill for 2 miles before turning around and heading home. It was brutal! I was working hard and still ran slower than 9 minute miles. But coming back home with the wind at my back and a slight downhill the whole way, I flew! Late this afternoon I'll squeeze in my strength workout.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Icy Cold Morning Run

This morning's 11 degree run on rock hard snowmobile trails was fun! This is a great surface for running fast. Only a few sledders had been eager enough to get out on the trails this early in the season, so it was packed, but not overly so. There was no ice, just good solid snow. I put in about 4 miles at a fast pace because I was in a hurry to get home to bacon and eggs!

I'm focused on the snowshoe marathon the first week of March. I've written up a plan leading up to it and should be in good enough shape to finish it and enjoy it. This should transition well into training for some moderate distance trail races in the Spring and then the Vermont 100 in July. It feels good to be working toward something!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

9 Miles on the Roads

This morning I ran a nice 9 mile loop on snow and slush covered roads. I ran the Spec Pond-Black Bog-Colcord Pond loop, which is VERY hilly. It took me 1 hour and 20 minutes, the Black Bog part of the run was very icy and really slowed me down, but I wasn't in a hurry so I didn't mind. I was supposed to do some Fartlek today, but the road conditions wouldn't allow it.

Less than a mile into my run I realized I had forgotten to eat before I left the house. I hoped the abundance of sugar that I put in my coffee would hold me over. It did, barely. The other thing I realized early on, was that I was suffering from TTRBS (Too Tight Running Bra Syndrome). This occurs when your running bra shrinks in the dryer and you don't realize it until you start running and find you can't draw a deep breath. You ladies know what I'm talking about. Those two problems aside, the run went beautifully!

I tend to stay off the roads until winter, at which time I do about 50% roads and 50% trails. The back roads in this area aren't plowed very well and aren't usually salted or sanded at all. Right now they are completely covered with snow, slush, and ice. It is actually a nice surface to run on, as long as you aren't trying to go fast. This was a wonderful morning run. The ponds are still open water with snow surrounding them and it was very pretty. There is very little traffic on these roads in the winter months so it was quite peaceful.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Snowshoe Run Today

As I headed out the door for my run this morning with snowshoes under my arm, Kevin said, "Have fun. Too bad you've been banned from snowshoe racing for the rest of your life." Very funny. True, I did hit a few nerves with my post yesterday. There's a reason I only voice my opinion about anything about once or twice a year.

Anyway, I ran to the Osippee Trails the long way for a one mile pavement warm up. As I ran past the construction site, a young worker said in an appreciative tone, "Nice!" I'm 47 years old, I don't get that very often. But when I glanced his direction, he clarified for me, "Dion Snowshoes, Nice!" Well, they are nice snowshoes.

I put my snowshoes on and headed into the woods. We got about 4 new inches of snow last night, but it is very crusted on top and soft and wet under the crust. Big wet clumps were melting and falling from the trees because of the warm temperature this morning. I was soaked in minutes. I kick up a lot of snow when I run on snowshoes. The chunks I was kicking up were pieces of the hard crust and I swear I must have bruises all over my butt from them! But what fun!!! Kevin and I had packed some of the trails by snowshoeing after the first snowfall and those parts were fast and fun running! The deeper unpacked snow was more challenging and difficult, but good hard work! I ran about 5 miles in the woods on the snowshoes and two miles total on pavement. I loved it!

This weeks training plan is as follows...
M 3-5 easy / Chest and back and abs strength workout
T 9 with Fartlek / Plyometrics
W 3-5 easy / Shoulders and Arms and Abs strength workout
Th 8 hill work / Plyometrics
F 3-5 easy / Legs and Back and Abs strength work
Sat + Sun 3-5 easy

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Getting on My Soap Box for a Change

The Granite State Snowshoe Grand Prix team competition is shaping up to be interesting. The way the team scoring works, the more runners you have the better your team scores. It helps to have fast runners, but it helps more to have a LOT of runners. So I have been fielding email requests and hints from various people about joining one or the other of the two "super teams" that exist in the New Hampshire snowshoe circuit. Team "A" or Team "D" are the only teams that could possible win the series because they have the numbers. All you have to do to be part of either of these teams is to put the team name on your race form. You too, could belong to a winning team! It's that easy!

I have never believed in "pick up teams" in any form of running. You either belong to a team or club, or you don't. I once ran for a competitive women's team who brought in a "ringer" for an important women's race. All of us that had trained with and competed with each other for the entire season felt hurt and confused. I never ran for that team again. It's just not fair to the other teams or to the people who are truly on the team. If you can't win it on your own, you don't deserve to win it.

The concept of scoring based on how many runners are in a race and how many runners your team has in that race is ridiculous. It's even more ludicrous that you can just keep recruiting and adding runners to your roster as the season progresses. This is not "team competition." It makes a lot more sense to encourage a lot of teams to compete by only scoring your top 5 or top 7 runners, or scoring the top age group winners in each race. Rewarding teams based on how many runners they have will eventually put an end to the whole team competition aspect of the series. There will only be one team because everyone will want to be on the winning team!

I love snowshoe racing. I'm not sure about the New Hampshire series this year, but I'll definitely be doing some New England races. If I do run any New Hampshire Series races I'll be putting Rochester Runners as my team on my entry form. We have an excellent chance of finishing third in the series this year as we'll be the only runners out there that don't belong to team "A" or team "D". Next year there will probably only be a team "A&D" so Rochester Runners will probably finish second!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Blustery Cold Morning Run

I put off yesterday's hill workout until today due to slushy slippery roads yesterday. Today the paved portion of my loop was bare pavement with a few icy patches, but the dirt portion was slippery packed snow and ice. I guess it's time to get out the Stabilicers. It was about 24 degrees and very windy this morning.

I ran the 7 mile Deveroux Loop clockwise (steeper climbing this direction) and repeated the steepest portion of Deveroux Hill once, making it an eight mile run. I pushed hard on the uphills and didn't really get a good break until the last 2 miles of gentle paved downhill. The climb was on ice and against a strong head wind today, good hard work! I have been in better shape for this particular workout, but I have also been in a lot worse shape and struggled a lot more with it in past runs.

The mailman was keeping me company for the last half mile or so, slowing down and waiting for me to pass and then delivering to a few more houses before doing the same thing again. He pulled up in front of my house just as I arrived there. It turns out he had a letter that needed to be signed for and he didn't want to get out of his warm vehicle. Good thinking on his part, it's pretty damned cold out!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

R.I.P. Treadmill

The snow started a little earlier than expected this morning, and by the time I got my act together the roads were snow covered and it was coming down like crazy. I decided to get on the treadmill for today's run. The moment Kevin plugged the old thing in for me, the circuit breaker tripped. So I tromped down to my dismal damp granite cellar and reset the breaker. I went back to the treadmill and tried to test it to see if it would go, but it tripped the surge protector that it was plugged into as soon as the belt started moving. I plugged it into a different outlet and was able to start it up. I got about a mile of running in before it tripped it's own internal breaker. It allowed me to reset it, but by now I was muttering swear words and wanting to kick something. I was able to run almost another mile before it tripped itself again and started smelling like something was burning. I declared it junk and headed outside, where I should have been all along. I ran another two miles on 5 inches of light fluffy snow on un-plowed streets. It was beautiful. Why was I bothering with the treadmill anyway?

I followed my run with the weight session I had planned for this evening. I wanted to get it in early, in hopes that I can get out on the snowshoes tonight. This is shaping up to be a great snow storm here in Kezar Falls. There is more than a foot out there already, the Christmas lights are on, and I'm about to have my second cup of licorice tea.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Two Good Workouts Today

I did my Plyometric workout in the morning and saved my run for later because I was hoping to let temperatures rise a little before going out. Plyometrics is an hour of intense jumping and lunging that keeps my heart rate in the 145 to 160 range the entire time. It is hard work, but fun!

I had an acupuncture appointment in Portland and thought it would be nice to do my planned 9 miles with Fartlek on the Standish rail trail on the way home. The Standish Rail Trail is 9 miles out and back, has those convenient markers every quarter mile, and is flat. So it was perfect for today's planned run. I stopped to have snow tires put on my car before leaving Portland. Because a storm is expected tomorrow, there was a big back up at the tire place. I ended up waiting about two hours. I thought about heading out for my run during that wait, but that would mean running in Portland traffic. No thanks. So by the time I got to the Standish Trail, it was already getting dark.

The surface was crusted snow and ice with a little dirt showing here and there. There was no moon out, but I could see OK because the trail is wide and open. The only time I slipped was when a border collie pushed me for some reason. Maybe he was trying to herd me like a sheep. Anyway, I only went down on one knee and no harm was done. The border collie and his owner were the only others on the trail tonight.

I did 8 quarter mile pickups without timing them. I put in a good effort and was pretty pooped by the time I got back to the car. So far, so good on the training schedule...but it's only been two days.

Monday, December 7, 2009

This Week's Plan

I have formulated a training plan leading up to the Peak Snowshoe Marathon. I'll use Tuesday as my long run day and Thursday as my hill work day. I'm starting my long run at a conservative 9 miles and working up from there. I have no injuries, or even any aches and pains at this point so I want to ease back into training to keep it that way! I'll keep my weekends short and easy as this works well with my work schedule and with my social life. This week's plan is as follows:

Mon-3-5 easy in AM, strength in PM
Tues-9 with Fartlek in AM, Plyometrics in PM
Weds-3-5 easy in AM, strength in PM
Thurs- 8 with hill repeats in AM, Plyometrics in PM
Fri-3-5 easy in AM, strength in PM
Sat and Sun 3-5 easy

Now that I've posted it, I'll have to do it.

This morning I ran 4 miles on roads at a relaxed pace. I have a bit of a cold and hated to step out into the chilly air, but once I got going I felt fine. The ponds are starting to ice over and it won't be long before the ice fishermen will be out there. The shoulder of the road has a nice crusty crunchy snow covering that made a nice sound under my running shoes. I ran to the top of the hill on Spec Pond Road, took in the view of the mountains for a moment, and then ran back home. Strength work tonight will be P90X chest and back and abs.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

No Go on Western States

I didn't get picked for Western States and I'm fine with that. I ran it in 2007 and had a good time, but to tell you the truth I have more fun at the Vermont 100. I love the trails and remoteness of the course at Western States. But there's a lot to be said for the Vermont 100. There are always a lot of people I know at Vermont, either running or crewing or pacing. So the support I get while out on the course is awesome. I like the low key, casual atmosphere at Vermont. I'm not much for "hooplah" as I call it. I kind of think of Western States as the Boston Marathon of Ultras. And like Boston, you HAVE to do it at least once. I would have been glad if i got in for a second running at Western States, but I'm not disappointed that I didn't.

I am formulating a plan for events I want to participate in for 2010. I think the first big one on the list will be the Peak Snowshoe Marathon on March sixth. I like to have something on the horizon to work toward. So I need to get my long runs started up again. I'll get one in on either Monday or Tuesday this week. I'm looking forward to it.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

New Training Cycle

December 1st was the official first day of my new training cycle after taking a full two months off from training. I did run and bike during those two months, but took it very casually and just enjoyed myself. I have to say, after putting in a few days of good work I am glad to be back at it! It feels good to see the wooden clothing rack in my room covered with sweaty clothes in various stages of drying out for re-use. It's nice to have a little ache in the calves and hamstrings at the end of the day.

Today I left for my run in warm temperatures and pouring rain. I ran the Spec Pond Loop, which is about 7 miles of pavement and old dirt roads. I normally don't check weather forecasts unless it will make a difference in my day's plans, so I was very surprised and happy to see the sun break through the clouds after a half hour of running. I was almost dry by the time I got home.

A few days ago I decided I should time my runs and keep an eye on my pace to stop being so lazy. This was prompted by a few comments from my sister about our slow pace when I ran with her a week or two ago. I didn't remember to time myself today until the last mile. I tried to hold the same pace I had done for the previous 6 miles to get some idea of how I had paced through the entire run. My last mile on pavement was 8:26. Not very fast, but not totally embarrassing. This felt like a relaxed pace, I definitely wasn't pushing. So I don't think I'm all THAT pokey right now. It's a good starting point for this training cycle. But more important than my fitness level starting out, is the fact that I am healthy and un-injured now.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Stress Relief Run in the Snow

Suddenly I have family members, loved ones, and a dog in crisis. It is stressing me out! All I can think of to do about this is get out in the woods and run. Yesterday I drove to Vermont to help out my daughter the best I could, which wasn't a whole lot. I planned to stop on rte 302 on my drive back and run an out and back on the Davis Path. I soon figured out that I was running a little behind schedule and wasn't going to make it to the trail head before dusk. I ended up stopping outside of Bethlehem, NH and running snow mobile trails instead.

It actually turned out to be quite nice. It was my first run of the season that I ran on snow. This stuff was wet and slushy, the kind that wicks up your tights and soaks you up to your knees. I ran about seven or eight miles of it, the second half in the dark. Of course, I didn't have a light. Even if I do bring a light I rarely use it. I really don't need to see much in order to stay on the trail. There was a hazy full moon casting a tiny bit of light onto the snow last evening and it was fine running.

There is nothing like breathing that cold air out and in, while chanting "out with the bad, in with the good" to clear the head. By the time I got back to the car I was feeling pretty relaxed!

Then I got home and found my dog was in worse shape than when I had left and the stress came crashing back. Maybe I should have done 16 miles instead of eight. Anyway, I'm off for a nice run this morning and then I'll be ready to deal with more stuff. As always, I am very thankful for my love of running and my love of the outdoors.