Friday, February 26, 2010

Hessian Hill

Today was scheduled to be 5 miles with a "long hill climb" according to my self-inflicted training schedule. Since the woods are a wet mushy mess, I ran the Hessian Hill loop in Cornish. This is paved, very rural with almost no traffic, and a heck of a good climb. I run it counter-clockwise so the climb is a steady tough 1.5 miles long and the descent is a screaming steep downhill half mile. When I bike this hill, I always do it in the other direction, because that steep half mile down will just about throw me over the handlebars and it hurts my hands to squeeze the brakes the whole way down. The rest of the loop is fairly flat and very nice running with no traffic and narrow country roads. I parked in a spot that allowed me to save the hill for last and do the easy stuff first. The entire loop (with a little out and back to my car) was 5.2 miles.

If I time this right, there is usually a beautiful sunset visible from the top of the hill. I was a little early tonight so I got to see the distant White Mountains instead. Also the almost-full moon was out early and was very pretty hanging there just above the tree tops. What an awesome run!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Planned Cross Train Day

These cross train days are tough because I feel like I should be running! But it is all part of the No-Injuries-In-2010-Plan and I know this is going to work! So tonight I did 60 minutes of Plyometrics. I do the P90X workout. This is a very tough workout. My heartrate maxes at 162 and doesn't go below 140 for the entire hour. Plus it makes me use those fast twitch muscles with all that jumping and hopping. Another plus is the squats and lunges, think glutes and quads. It's a killer. I grunt and groan through the entire thing and feel like a million bucks when I'm done!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Thoughts and Decisions

I finally took the time to check my calendar to see what my work weekends will be and how they will fit with my race plans. I ended up removing a few races from my list (including Laurel Valley, which I really wanted to do.) My work weekends aren't really negotiable. I also finally made a decision about the snowshoe marathon. I haven't been on snowshoes enough this winter to do it. Right now it sounds like they have very little snow on the ground in Pittsfield, VT, but more is expected this week. So chances are the marathon will still happen and they might even have good snowy trails for it. But I'm skipping it anyway.

So tomorrow is the official start of the next phase of my training. I've written out a plan which will keep my weekly mileage low, give me two cross training days each week, and include back to back hard efforts each week. This is a lot different than the high mileage, 7-day-a-week training that I have done previous years. I'm getting older and my body can't take that kind of abuse anymore. Injuries have been a constant struggle for me for the past several years so my big goal this year is to stay healthy and fit enough to have fun and enjoy the events I participate in.

Today was an 18 miler on the roads. It was long, boring, and painful. But it felt good to get it done and I averaged just under 9 minute pace for an extremely hilly route. I hadn't made the decision not to do the snowshoe marathon when I started this run, but had made the decision by the time I was done. So now I will back off on the long run distance, building up to several long runs of 25 plus leading up to Vermont. My weekly mileage will peak at 55. I know that sounds minimal for an ultra-runner, but I have a pretty good feel for what my body is capable of at this point in my life. Can I go sub 24 at Vermont on this type of training? I believe I can!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Ossipee Fun Run

The day is almost half over. I have a list of things to do that is about a mile long and all I've done so far today is run. But if I didn't spend my time doing the things I love to do, life wouldn't be so good. So I have no guilt, just a long list of things to do.

I went back out to the Ossipee Trails again today and did several loops. This definitely qualifies as hill work. Then I went out to the road, crossed Rte 25 and ran an out and back on Rye Field Rd, just to see where it went. Coming back, I noticed a snowmobile trail off through a big field (maybe the Rye Field?) and followed it. It crossed in front of the big Beaver Bog and then behind the Sappi Log Yard (Wow, who knew they had so much going on back there out of sight in the woods?!) then the trail curved out and away from Rte 25. After about an hour had passed, I started looking for a way back to the car without re-tracing my steps. I found a trail leading off in the right direction so I took it. The sign warned "Stay on the trail, or stay home!" in a serious Sappi International sort of tone.

This trail still had several inches of un-packed snow as it is sheltered and shaded. Soon I could hear Rte 25 traffic. Instead of "staying on the trail" as warned, I bushwhacked a short distance toward the sound of traffic. I came out level with the tops of the telephone poles on the side of Rte 25. It was quite a steep downhill shoe-slide to get to the road, but a lot of fun. After that it was only a mile or so back to the car. I have to admit, I like the sound of my screw shoes click-click-clicking on the pavement. I had a nice time exploring new territory. I really have no idea how far I ran and I don't care. It was fun!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

New (to me) Trails

Kevin and I put in a few miles on the Ossipee Trails today. This is not to be confused with our own local Ossipee River Trails. The Ossipee Trails we traveled today are over the border in Ossipee, New Hampshire. Kevin explored them a few weekends ago while I was working. He took me out there today to show me around.

There aren't a lot of miles of trails there, but there is potential for good running by doing loops and figure eights. It looks like great mountain bike riding, too. It is a pretty area with some wetlands, Ossipee Lake, views of the Sandwich Range, and views of the Ossipee Hills. I'm always excited to discover more paths through the woods!

I know I say that Kevin doesn't run, but he actually does. He just refuses to acknowledge that he is doing it and refuses to let anyone see him do it. He does all his running in work boots and Carhartt pants, I think to disguise the fact that he is running. I often hear him running just behind me, but when I turn to look he changes mid-stride from run to fast walk. He actually let me see him run once today while racing me up a steep hill. He beat me, even with the work boots. I'll have to buy him some running shoes and a pair of goofy looking tights and so he can start training to be my pacer for my next 100. Just kidding about the tights, but running shoes might not be a bad idea. I know a potential runner when I see one!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Same Trail, Different Run

I got a quick run in on hard icy trails this morning before work and then managed a slow slog through slush on those same trails this afternoon. This afternoon, it took me about ten minutes longer for the same 4 miles! It was tough going. I stopped and checked my heart rate when I realized how slow I was going. I wanted to make sure I wasn't dogging it. No, my heart rate was way up there, it was just hard work. It was like taking a stride forward then sliding half a stride back with the push off.

I am still training as if I will be running the Peak Snowshoe Marathon in the beginning of March. But honestly, if there isn't enough snow I won't do it, even if they still hold the event. Of course there is still plenty of time for more snowfall. I'm just thinking ahead and weighing the possibilities. Either way, onward with the training. If it isn't used for the snowshoe marathon, it will still be moving me in the right direction for some shorter Spring trail races and then the Vermont 100.

Now I'm off to my upstairs gym for a P90X strength workout.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Hiram Hills...

and Cornish hills and Brownfield hills and Porter hills is what I ran for 4 hours today. The snowmobile trails were melted down to only a few inches of solid hard surface, slippery and icy in spots. I really enjoyed my run, although my right knee was sore for the last hour or so. This started two weeks ago on a similar snowmobile trail run, recurred last week on snowshoes in Vermont, and started up again today. It didn't hurt a bit between these episodes. I know exactly what it is from, trying to stay in control on steep icy downhills. The solution to this problem is some fresh soft snow, and it's coming down right now!

These local snowmobile trails are incredibly hilly. I find them to be quite a good strength workout as well as the obvious endurance workout that any long run gives me. My quads were aching by the time I was done. I love that!

As I enjoyed the solitude of these beautiful trails, I found myself thinking that I really don't care much about the whole racing thing anymore. For me it is becoming more and more about enjoying the beauty of the woods and being strong and healthy enough to cover a lot of territory and to feel good doing it. Don't get me wrong, I do have some events planned for this year and I might even do well in some of them. It's just that the training is starting to feel more rewarding than the racing. I don't think this is a bad thing at all.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Ice, Snow, and Dirt

I just returned from a fun 5 miles on the Ossipee Trails. The terrain was constantly changing, making for an interesting run. I wore my screw shoes and started out on the popular River Run Trail. This has been heavily used this winter by myself and Kevin, but other members of the community have also discovered what an awesome trail it is. They have been out in force on snow shoes and in hiking boots. The surface today was about 25% dirt and 75% well packed hard snow. It was fantastic fast running!

Then I hit soft uneven and unpredictable snow for a short stretch before getting to "The Clencher". Deer have been using the nicely benched Clencher to get across a steep sloped area above the river bank. It has turned into some sort of deer super highway. The surface is rock hard ice with convenient little hoof prints frozen all through it to provide some nice traction!

I did the Pollywog Loop, which was covered with about 6 inches of soft snow. This is a low area and doesn't get much sun, causing the snow to melt slower through there. This was very slow and difficult running, more like a fast march at times. I returned on snowmobile trails. They were sheer shining smooth ice for long stretches interspersed with rock hard tracked stretches, kind of slippery even with the screw shoes. I ran fast down the steep slope behind the middle school, only because I didn't have enough traction to stop my forward momentum. I somehow managed to not fall on my ass. (Thanks to the screw shoes!)

I'm told that there is a snowstorm predicted for tomorrow. Yay, I love snow! Tomorrow is the day I plan to do my long run. I guess it might end up being run in snowshoes.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Vermont Vacation

I just got back from a great 6 day Vermont get-away with Kevin. We stayed in Lyndonville, the same town that my daughter lived in until last month. My daughter hated it there with great enthusiasm. She's a bit of a city girl and she prefers warmer weather. I guess that's why she's in Tampa now. I love that part of Vermont and wouldn't vacation in Tampa even if I was paid to do it. Each to their own.

Kevin and I got plenty of snowshoe time in on the Kingdom Trails. Kevin doesn't run, but he's a very fast walker. I was able to get some good running in with the snowshoes by doing the same thing my dog used to do when he ran with me, running out a way and then coming back. The Kingdom Trails are relentlessly rolling hills, excellent training for my upcoming snowshoe marathon.

I also did a tiny bit of Nordic skiing before I realized it was just too icy to be much fun. On the other hand, sledding on those icy sloping fields was very fun and fast! We got out on the trails once with the Stabilicers (Kevin wore screw shoes). We decided that the snow shoes were the better way to go. The snow wasn't deep, but there was enough of it that snow shoes were worth wearing. I have no idea how many miles we put in this past week, but it was definitely enough to counter balance all the good eating, drinking, and slacking that filled the rest of our time there. I totally wore myself out and needed a long nap when I got home this afternoon.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

In The Dark

Tonight I ran about 4 miles on snowmobile trails ater dark without a light. It was a beautiful starry night, but there was no moon in the sky. I did OK on the snowmobile trails, but as soon as I ventured onto the single track, I knew I was in trouble. I couldn't see a thing. I wasn't worried because I had the Ossipee River on one side and the South Hiram Road on the other. I was feeling good and running fast in my screw shoes. But I couldn't stay on the trail because I couldn't see anything, and ended up going bush whacking by accident. I wondered what Kevin would think about my strange tracks running helter skelter through the woods next time he went snow shoeing or hiking, but it all turned out OK and I had a great run and ended up back at the car as planned. Nice run tonight!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

River Run

I just returned from a great run on River Run and Pollywog Trails. I saw patients this morning and still have ton of computer work to do this evening, but I felt that I needed a run break before getting into it too deeply. Kevin had just presented me with a new pair of screw shoes that he made with an old pair of Brooks Adrenalines that were kicking around in my closet for the past few years. So I laced them up and went out looking for some ice to run on!

River Run and Pollywog are the singletrack mountain bike trails Kevin and I built last summer. I've been out on them in snowshoes several times this winter, but the snow is so settled and packed at this point, there really isn't any need for snowshoes. Running these trails in the screw shoes was awesome! And after feeling so slow and terrible on yesterday's hilly road run, I was extremely surprised to find myself feeling fast and energetic today. I did a total of 4 miles in 33:40, 3 miles of this was on snow and ice covered singletrack and the other mile was on the road to get to the trail and back.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Ramblings During a Rough Run Today

This afternoon I ran a very hilly 5 mile out and back in Parsonsfield. It was a struggle! My legs are still tired from Tuesday's long trail run. I think It's age. It takes me longer and longer to recover between hard efforts. Oh well, I'm thankful that I am healthy and active and more fit than most people. Here's where my mind was wandering as I grunted and groaned over those hills today...

Oh, what I wouldn't give to have my thirty-year-old legs back! I used to run this same hilly road 17 years ago and really push hard up these hills. I'd average about 7:00-7:15 pace on those hill workouts. I don't remember EVER running slower than eight minute miles even on my slowest easiest runs. Today I'm barely averaging 9:30 pace. Yikes! But truthfully, the legs are all I'd want back from when I was thirty. Each year my life gets better and better as my running gets slower and slower! I guess you could call it an inverse correlation. But really, looking at the whole scheme of things, what does it really matter if I run slow or fast as long as I'm happy and healthy and enjoying life? Though I must admit, I am NOT enjoying this particular run today. What the Hell happened to my speed?!

I wonder how old I'll be when I finally find myself finishing Dead F'ing Last in a race. I can kind of picture it, they'll have already taken down the finish line clock and given out all the awards. The refreshments and water will be all gone. The parking lot will be almost empty. There might be a few paper cups rolling around on the ground and the shredded remnants from when the winners' broke through the finish line tapes. A few stragglers heading to their cars might look up and clap as I come over the line. Someone will say, "Good for her, she doesn't care how long it takes her, she just wants to finish."

If I ever do finish DFL I am going to throw my arms up in the air as I run across the finish line. I was always too shy to do this when I used to win races. I thought it looked kind of braggy. But if I do it when I am old and slow and in last place, it will just look whacky and senile...

And with this last thought, I arrive back at my car where I had left it behind the Fred Morrill School. I throw my arms up in the air and paste a big fake victorious smile on my face, practicing for the day I finally do finish DFL.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

3 Mile Joggle

When I was a promising young runner in the seventies, I had a coach named Dimitri. He had defected to the US from Romania, where he had been a coach for the Romanian National Track and Field Team. So here he was in the good old USA coaching a rag tag bunch of teenage girls in Connecticut. He was forever promising me in his broken English, "you work hard, you can be champion!" The other thing he was always telling me in that same heavy Romanian accent was, "You are fat! You eat too much!" This when I was about 75 pounds and looked about 10 years old instead of my true age of 15. I took both those frequently repeated statements with a grain of salt.

After about two or three weeks of relentless day after day hard track workouts, better fit for Romanian Olympic athletes than amateur teenage runners, Dimi would notice us girls all kind of limping and dragging ourselves out to the track for the afternoon workout. On these days he would show a rare measure of common sense, (or pity?) and announce, "Today you just joggle a bit." He would put away his stop watch and his clip board and his whistle (yes, he used to whistle signals to us as we ran) and send us off for some easy meandering loops at no particular pace and for no particular distance. This was my introduction to the importance of recovery days after hard workouts. Sure, most people do a recovery day after EACH hard workout, but Dimitri was under the impression that one recovery day every two or three weeks of hard workouts was enough. I was 15, what did I know?

We always laughed about the "joggle" thing. (I know you remember this, Amy). No matter how many times we corrected Dimi, he would never say "jog" it was always "joggle." To this day whenever I do a short easy recovery run, I call it a joggle. So today, on sore tired legs from yesterday's long run, I had a nice joggle and thought about Dimi and found myself hoping he found that "champion" he always wanted.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Long Trail Run

I was feeling happy this morning and when I'm happy I take to the woods! Late this morning I tucked my Stabilicers under my arm and ran about 3/4 of a mile down the road to the Osippee River Snowmobile Trails. The snowmobile trails are hard packed and icy in spots but my Stabilicers kept me on my feet! The pair I own are probably 20 years old. I'm not kidding. They are the heavy, full soled, Velcro fastened originals. I think they easily have another ten years of use left in them!

I ran all the way to Apple Acres on trails and then crossed Durgintown Road and continued toward the Hiram Hills. I tried to make this into a loop run during the Fall but the trail across Durgintown Road was wet and overgrown without snow cover. Today it was perfect running! I made my way up to Tower Hill and then over to Peaked Mountain. There is a tall cinder block chimney at the top of Peaked that I found puzzling. Just past the chimney there is a great view of Cornish and South Hiram, where I had been running earlier.

So far things were looking good for a loop. But I knew I needed to start turning West and then South if I wanted to end up somewhere near home. But the trail did what it wanted, and kept sending me East toward Hiram Village. Just as I was beginning to think I would have to return the same way I had come I came to a 4-way trail intersection, complete with those little orange signs with handwritten directions in Sharpie Marker. The signs said cryptic things like "Oak Hill" and "Barne's" and "Unicell works here" and not anything useful like "Kezar Falls" or "Porter." A sign pointing back the way I had come told me I had travelled 13 miles from the schools. If it was true I was making good time, about 10:30 pace which is awesome on these hilly snow covered trails. I went with my gut instinct and veered off to my left.

After many more hilly icy miles I came out on a private dirt road with a road sign that said "Husky Haven." I knew where I was! Things were looking good, I was headed home! The trail went back into the woods. The loop ALMOST turned out perfectly, but I made an error in judgement at the last intersection I came to and was spit out onto pavement three miles from home. If I had chosen the other direction I believe I would have come out about a half mile from home. Anyway, those last three miles were the only ones where I wasn't feeling great. I was out of food and water and was bonking bad. I told myself that if someone I knew drove by I would flag them down and take a ride home. I was really feeling light-headed and hungry! Not a single car passed by.

I passed a co-workers home and thought I should stop and ask to use the phone to call for a ride home. True, I hardly knew the co-worker and she was at work anyway. But I knew her husband was retired and probably home. I pictured myself knocking on the door and saying, "Hi I know your wife...sort of. See, I just ran through the woods for 4 hours and I'm exhausted. Can I use your phone? And do you have anything to eat? Like a donut or a piece of birthday cake? Maybe a can of coke? A Snickers bar or some jelly beans? Candy Corn, fudge, brownies or ice cream? A tablespoon of sugar even?" I amused myself with visions of sugar plums dancing in my head all the rest of the way home. I normally don't eat that kind of stuff, but it sure seemed tempting to me at the time. When I got home I had an orange, a skim milk based recovery drink, oatmeal with raisins and nuts, and some bread. Ahhhhhh, it was good.

It looks like about 25 miles according to snowmobile maps. But they really aren't very accurate at all. I ran 4 hours and 32 minutes. The last three road miles in my famished state were by far the slowest of the day. What a great loop! I'll try to do it again next week and remember to bring more calories with me!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Indoor Workout

This morning I did an indoor workout for no other reason than that I wanted to wear shorts and a summer running top. I guess I'm getting a little impatient for warmer weather since the skiing and snow shoeing suck right now for lack of snow. I ran 5 miles on the treadmill, followed by my "shoulders and arms" workout and Plyomtrics. All told, I worked out for about 3 hours straight.

This afternoon Kevin and I did a fast paced 3 mile walk on hard and somewhat slippery snowmobile trails. I was scoping it out for tomorrow's run. It looks like nice running with Stabilicers or screw shoes.