Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Last Long Run Before the Taper

I set myself up for a hard time on my last long run before starting my taper for Vermont. First, I started a new strength program the night before. I haven't been able to fit the long P90X workouts in with all the biking and running this summer, so when I saw a link to "" posted on Facebook (thanks a lot, Jamie)I had to check it out. Then I saw that they also had programs for squats and crunches. Monday night I started all three. I probably should have skipped the squats. When I was done destroying my legs with all those squats I sat out on the front porch and drank way too much wine for the evening before my long run. What was I thinking?

Tuesday morning I set out for my 6 hour long run with aching quads and a queasy stomach. The first hour or so wasn't pleasant. I ran on the Moat area mountain biking trails and hiking trails. The flies were eating me alive and it was in the high 80's with a lot of humidity. I hadn't eaten much due to the wine stomach and my energy was low. I thought about throwing in the towel and heading home. But then things started to get better and better. Each hour my pace was faster than the hour before. I guess I was flushing all the lactic acid (and wine) out of my system.

As I got to the 5 hour mark I knew I needed to head back to the car, but I really didn't want to! I timed it well and ran just over 6 hours. I had to phone Kevin as I neared the end of my run because i couldn't find the elusive last trail I wanted to finish on. This one has the BIG climbing and I wanted to finish strong! Kevin was able to direct me in the right direction over the phone and I ran back to the car the hard way. I drank 60 ounces of iced tea, water, and ginger ale during the 40 minute drive home. I guess I was a little dehydrated.

Today, my lower back is sore, but my legs feel fine. This run wasn't fast, but I got it done in good form (after the initial hour). I wish I had time for 2 or 3 more runs of this length, but I have less than three weeks before the hundred miler and the best thing to do now is taper. I don't expect Vermont will be a good race for me, but I do expect to finish!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Saturday, Sunday, Today, and Tomorrow

Besides gaining a little confidence in my climbing fitness at Saturday's Mt Aggie run with four fast (for me) paced runs to the summit, I also secured Melanie for a pacer at Vermont 100. She did an excellent job last year so I am very happy to have her agree to do the same in 2010!

I was hesitant to ask anyone to pace for me this year, although if there was ever a time when I needed a pacer it is this year. It is always difficult for me to request that someone travel all the way out to a race, give up a weekend of his or her life , spend much of that weekend hanging around on the side of dusty dirt roads or trails, trudge along at an unbearably slow pace through the dark of night, listen to me whine and complain in the wee hours of the morning, and if all goes well, tolerate a big smelly sweaty incoherent hug at the finish line. This year I was even more reluctant to ask because I am nowhere near as fit as I would like to be and am uncertain about how things will go at the race. Melanie reassured me that she planned to be there anyway and that she wanted to do it. What a relief!

Sunday, Kevin and I mountain biked for about 5 hours on awesome single track near the Mineral Site in North Conway. We got ridiculously turned around at one point, heading in completely the opposite direction than we thought we were. It was a matter of taking a trail that wasn't on the map and mistaking in for one that was, back tracking when it didn't come out where we thought it would, and then finally figuring out that we hadn't back tracked at all but instead were going the direction we had originally thought we were going.

We were both still scratching our heads on the side of the trail trying to figure out what the hell we had just done, when the girlfriend of the president of the White Mt NEMBA chapter rode up with some friends and enthusiastically filled us in on the lay out of the trails. She was very friendly and seemed genuinely happy that we were enjoying their trails so much.

Today will be an easy 5 on the local trails and tomorrow will be my long run of 6 hours. Why didn't I run my 6 hours Saturday at Mt Aggie where I would have company? Because I would rather spend time with Kevin on the days he isn't working! He'd be supportive if I spent half my weekend training, but we have things we both enjoy doing together and I'd rather spend our weekends doing those things. I have days off during the week where I can be selfish with my time. I know most people aren't as fortunate and have to steal a lot of time away from their families on the weekends if they are going to train for a marathon, triathlon, or ultra. I've got a good thing going!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Western States Commemorative Run at Mt Aggie

I ran at Mt Aggie yesterday in the WS Commemorative Run, hosted by the Mt Aggie gang. It is a six hour run over dirt roads and trails with some good climbing and descent over multiple loops of a three mile course. The loops make it nice for visiting with others on the trail. After all, this is as much a social event as a running event.

I arrived at about 8:30 (the run started at 7) because I didn't plan to run more than a few hours. Many people stop by to run a few loops without doing the entire six hours. I only had to wait a few minutes for someone to come through to run with. Bob N. and Michael came in with a pack of dogs, finishing up their third loop at a fast pace. Since they were starting their fourth and I was just starting my first, I figured I could keep up no problem. We set off and had a nice loop together. I ran the next loop hard with Michael who was finishing up for the day. Kevin joined us on the mountain bike at the summit and followed us down. We caught up with Cheryl, Melanie, Craig, Jeannie, and Bob D. at the bottom. I also met two women, Heather and Emily(?) who will be running their first hundred miler at Vermont 100 this year. I ran a half loop with Bob D and the two girls, walked a bit with Jeff then caught up with Melanie on the way down. If this was a competition to see how many different people I could run with, I'd be doing well!

9 miles done and I had seen almost everyone I hoped to see there. I decided to do one last loop and run it in the opposite direction so I could say hi to Joe and Charlie Z. before stopping for the day. On my way up I passed Craig, then Lori and some other fast GAC runners, then Jeff heading down. I went over the summit and soon ran into Charlie Z who told me he had just passed Joe, who was running the same direction as me for some reason. Oh well, I turned around and ran back down with Charlie for a total of about 12 miles at a good effort.

Kevin and I drove off to get a part for his bike (the Mt Aggie rocks had done a number on it). Then we explored the area a bit. By the time we got back to the run, everyone was finishing and I finally caught up with Joe. Some of us went over to Rich and Cindy's for good food, drink, and company. Rich is recovering from a serious accident, but was able to run one loop in the morning before I got there. He hopes to be well enough to run at MMD in August.

All and all it was a great day. The weather was perfect, the company was fantastic, and the running felt great.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

River Run Squatter Update

Squatter: One who settles an unoccupied piece of land without legal permission

If you recall, the last time I passed through the Ossipee Trails I left a note for the squatter who had set up camp in the middle of the River Run Trail. I politely requested that he clear a path through his tent site so people (mostly me and Kevin, but I made it seem like a lot of people,) could run, walk or mountain bike through there. I thought he might retaliate by expanding his camp even more, or by being rude when I went through, or by sabotaging the trail. I also thought perhaps he would move on and stay somewhere else. Then again, I wondered if he had just used my note as fire starter without even reading it. Well, I laid low for a few days to give him a chance to do something if he was going to.

Tuesday evening, after I had rested up from my long run, Kevin and I took the mountain bikes out on the Ossipee Trails. I was riding in front, but when we got ready to enter River Run I pulled aside and insisted that Kevin lead. I think I was a little nervous that my note might have offended. Even with the please, thank you, and smiley face, you just never know how someone will take a request. When we got to the spot where our town visitor had been camping, the trail was clear and so was the side of the trail that sloped down to the river. At first I thought he had left. But then I saw that he had moved his tent about 5 feet off the trail on the side away from the river. He had also moved all his gear to that same side of the trail.

This makes me very happy because I believe if this person had enough respect to grant my request he must be an OK person. So early this morning I ran through by myself and didn't worry at all about the feet sticking out the tent door or the snoring coming from within. Life on River Run is good again.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Another Long Run

This morning I got up early for a change. This caused Kevin, Zoey (the cat), and Bart (the dog) to all stare at me suspiciously as I bobbed around them in the kitchen, filling water bottles, stuffing power bars and S-caps into pockets, and gulping down a cup of coffee. They are used to seeing me drink my first cup of coffee in bed and then shuffle around in a haze for a while before starting to wake up. Today, I was on a mission!

I drove over to Echo Lake, arriving two hours before the time I had agreed to meet Mary for our two hour Tuesday run. I wandered the trails around the park border and over Cathedral and Whitehorse Ledges at an easy jog. I came back into the park with more time to kill so I headed back out on some nice single track that wasn't on my map. Eventually I came out in a golf course at the base of Whitehorse Ledge. It was getting close to the time I was supposed to meet Mary, so I called her from my cell phone and asked the quickest way back. She lives in the area and was married to an avid golfer for years, so I knew she could tell me. Unfortunately, instead of following her instructions which would take me back on roads, I turned off into the woods as soon as I saw an interesting looking trail that appeared to head in the right direction. So I was a half hour late getting back and Mary had already started running down the road to meet me. My bad.

Thanks to cell phones, we were able to meet up and join forces after I had run almost three hours. We ran over Whitehorse Ledge and towards the Moats, chatting and laughing the whole way. We passed a couple hiking in the opposite direction and the woman said in a pleasant voice, "you girls are certainly enjoying yourselves," and the guy said in a grumpy voice, "they obviously aren't running hard enough." I should have told him how long I'd been at it by then.

We ran two hours together and ended back at Echo Lake, where we jumped into the icy cold water. It felt wonderful. So there's another five hour run in the books. I'll be running a few loops at the Mt Aggie Run this Saturday, but I'll wait for the full week to pass before I do another super long one. Next Tuesday I should be able to run six hours (I hope.) Kevin asked me last night, "how are you feeling about Vermont?" He knows my training is WAY behind this year. I told him I could finish it, and I really believe I can.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Biking at Bradbury and Tent Town on the Trail

We got some good fun mountain biking in this weekend, but I didn't run. It was just too hot. When I am moving along on the bike, I create enough air movement to stay fairly cool. Running in the heat and humidity really wipes me out for days. With mountain biking (or road biking for that matter,) I can get some good exercise and have fun on hot humid days without depleting myself too much. My next long run will be tomorrow with Mary. I'll do an hour before we meet and 1-2 hours afterwards to make it a good training effort for Vermont.

Yesterday Kevin and I biked at Bradbury Mountain in Pownal. It's not really a mountain, only a small hill. I think it's 450 feet above sea level or something like that. I ran the trails there many years ago, but don't remember a thing about it. Yesterday we set out on our bikes with a park map and a good attitude. We just like to have fun on our rides, that's the only goal.

The trails were pretty wide for single track, but had rocks and roots and mud and short steep climbs to make it a little challenging for me. I also liked that the bridges were wide enough that I didn't get all stressed out every time I had to cross one. Some trails I have been on have been so challenging that I get either scared or frustrated and then I stop having fun. This wasn't the case at Bradbury. I really had a lot of fun. The park isn't very big, but there is a good network of trails. It's less than an hour drive from our house and it is well worth it. We'll definitely go back there for more riding.

This morning I found that there are now two tents on my beloved River Run Trail. The trail is completely blocked by the tents, fire pit, cooking gear, chairs, clothes line, etc. I think they are here for the summer. I could see through the screens that people were sound asleep inside the tents. I took a paper card and a pencil out of the fishing registration box at the end of the trail, and wrote them a nice note, kindly requesting that they clear the path so people can get through on foot and on bike. I even said please and thank you and put a smiley face on it so there wouldn't be any hard feelings. I left it on a rock near the fire pit. I really can't understand how these people could fail to recognize the fact that they are blocking the trail. So far, each time I've run through they have been asleep. I really don't want to go through there if they are up and about. Maybe this will encourage me to keep getting out there to run earlier than usual!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Pudding Pond Revisited and Company on the Local Trails

This is turning into a high mileage week for me. That's OK, I feel good. This morning I ran with Mary at Pudding Pond. I had a lot of fun running and biking there a few days ago so when Mary asked where we should meet to run today, I suggested Pudding Pond. We ran 8.6 miles in 1 1/2 hours. This is actually pretty quick for those trails. It rained the entire time we ran and we got good and muddy.

Yesterday I ran on the Ossipee Trails and was surprised to find someone had set up a tent right in the middle of the River Run Trail. Judging by the two hairy feet that were sticking out the tent door, I suspect it is the hairy young guy who has been wandering around town for the past week. I hate to make Kezar Falls sound like Mayberry or something, but when there is a new character in town people notice. We have had people wander into town and set up temporary homesteads in the past. I think some of it stems from the "Hippie Fest" we had at the fair grounds several years back. Thousands of free spirits from around the country crowded into the fairgrounds for a weekend of music (and pot smoking) and saw what a great community this is. The town people were very welcoming and accepting.

Anyway, I think I will avoid that trail until Hairy Guy moves on. He doesn't appear to be as friendly as some that have visited town in the past and I'm not sure I trust him. I might have to encourage him to find a new tent site if he stays too long, that is my favorite local running and biking trail! I'm thinking a couple of rented bear suits and a midnight visit to his campsite might do the trick. Kevin is thinking more along the lines of that old Disney movie "Parent Trap." He thinks we should pour honey on his feet while he's sleeping and let the ants have at him. The guy does seem to sleep with them conveniently sticking out of the tent.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Fun at Pudding Pond

Today was supposed to be my long run day, but a friend suggested we do our long run together Saturday. I generally prefer to run long alone. I can't explain it, I just do. Mary is an exception and is fun to run with because she doesn't blow the whole training and racing thing out of proportion. The friend I will be running with on Saturday is the same way... not competitive in training because he has nothing to prove, a good conversationalist, funny as heck, and the opposite of intense. Boy, do I hate spending a lot of time running with intense people. For God's sake, if a person is going to spend time doing what they enjoy, shouldn't it be relaxed? (I'll be the first to admit that when I was training hard and running well at the shorter distances, I was pretty intense. I'm not sure I was actually enjoying it very much though.) I am looking forward to good fun company for Saturday's long run.

Anyway, with my long run on hold until Saturday, today I ran a nice hilly eight miles on the single track mountain bike trails near Pudding Pond in North Conway. I ran it to find my way around so I could bike it afterwards. The run went great. I took a few brief wrong turns, but caught myself quickly. I loved the steep climbing near the Redstone Quarry, which is difficult on the bike. Also the rickety narrow bridges don't seem as bad on foot as they do on the bike. I ran fast and strong today for a change, so it was a good confidence builder.

After the run, I got my bike out of the car and pedaled off with a smile. Honestly, I had been looking forward to the mountain bike ride during the entire run. I know most of you Blog followers know me for my running, but I can't help it, mountain biking is just so darned fun! I had planned to take it really easy on the ride because I had worked pretty hard on the run. But once I got started concentrating on the tight curves, rolling over rocks and roots, struggling up steep climbs, squeezing between trees, and hopping the occasional log, I forgot all about feeling tired from the run and found myself just out there playing. Luckily, no one else was out there today because I was cheering myself on over tough sections and applauding myself when I managed to do something I didn't think I could. The fact that I am a big goof is well known to my friends, but I don't want the general public to find out.

My house didn't get cleaned today, I didn't go to the dump, and I didn't mow the lawn, but I sure had a great day!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Wells Estuary and Fryeburg Single Track

I had a busy working weekend but had a great run in the Wells Estuary Reserve on Saturday afternoon. The trails are narrow with a variety of footing from rooty dirt to boardwalk to mowed grassy fields. I also put some miles in on the sand of the beach as well. There is an abundance of birds in that area. I wished I had someone with me who knew their birds, as I couldn't identify some of them. The Reserve is as flat as a pancake, without a hill anywhere. It was a lot different from the dense hilly woods I usually run in and I enjoyed the change.

A run wasn't in the cards for me on Sunday. So when I got home from work I was grumpy and had a headache. Kevin prescribed an evening walk to cure the "work hangover" and it worked wonders.

Today I drove over to Fryeburg to mountain bike some single track that Kevin had heard about and ridden this past weekend for the first time. He made me up a crude map and gave me a general idea where to find the trail head. Mountain bikers must belong to some secret society or something. These "home made" trails are difficult to locate and sometimes hard to follow and figure out. You'd probably never even know these sorts of trails existed if someone didn't clue you in. I've developed a habit of watching the side of the road when I drive, looking for tell tale bike tire tracks leaving the road or a glimpse of single track through the trees. I still don't have the eye for it, though.

Thanks to Kevin's directions, I didn't have much trouble finding the trail head. I enjoyed the trails immensely! They were very narrow and winding and fun. There was a lot of climb and descent to keep it interesting. Early on I strayed from the map Kevin had drawn for me and found myself on a trail that was a little too technical for my abilities. I managed to make it to the top of a rocky rooty steep quarter mile climb, and found myself back on Kevin's map. Either he hadn't seen that trail or knowing it was something that would be hard for me to ride, he had just left it off the map. The rest of the riding was well within my comfort zone and I rode all the other trails a couple of times. Then I rode out on the fire roads and ATV trails for a while before returning to the great single track. I finished up with some BIG climbing on snowmobile trails and returned to the car by following the old railroad tracks and then the paved road. This ride was a lot of fun and some good hard work!

Tomorrow will be my next long run. Yikes, I hope it goes better than last week!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Being Flexible

I've been getting my runs in all week, although this is my every third week long stretch at work. Sometimes I can run before I start my work day, but other times duty calls just as I am dressed to run and heading out the door. On those days I throw my running gear in a bag and wait for a break in the day (and hope there just happens to be a great trail nearby to run on when it happens.) Over the years, I have found ATV, snowmobile and equestrian trails all over Southern Maine. There are also many town recreation trails and state park trails. Then there are all those unmaintained dirt town roads, logging roads, and fire roads. I never find myself lacking for dirt to run on! I love living in Maine!

Today's work travels will find me in York, Wells, Hollis, Saco and Waterboro. It will be interesting to see where and when my run happens today. All I can say for sure is that it will happen.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

5 Hour Run Done...

and it wasn't pretty! I chose a route through the woods of Parsonsfield and Porter, ME and Effingham, NH that has similar terrain and similar topography as the Vermont 100. I as able to do 25 miles of hills and mud in the 5 hours, which is OK, but I m disturbed by how terrible I felt during the last hour of running. I felt like I normally would during hour 21 or 22 of a hundred miler!

Well, with all the walk breaks I had to take in that last hour, I had plenty of time to think. Here's what I came up with:

1. I am a positive and happy person, but I have to also be realistic.

2. I can finish the hundred miler, but it is going to be slow and difficult.

3. I must banish the phrases "sub twenty-four, belt buckle, and top ten" from my thoughts and vocabulary from now until after the race.

4. I will aim for a finish within the time cut off and be very happy to achieve that.

5. I am extremely lucky that I will be able to participate in this event at all, only 3 months and 5 days after a C-5 vertebral fracture.

Now I have to go to the race website and find out what the time cut off is. Let's hope it is a generous one!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Last Week

Kevin and I got married at the river side of the Ossipee on May 29th. The bride wore Patagonia and the groom wore Timberlands. It was an informal event with only two invited witnesses and one wedding crasher as guests. Our officiant, Marilyn was a great sport, willing to walk out into the woods, fight the mosquitoes, and climb a huge hill to get back out of the woods. She managed to remain completely professional while our guests scurried around on the rocks, blowing bubbles, taking photos, and flirting with each other.

The ceremony was followed by a great deal of fun and misbehavior, particularly by our wedding crasher. It certainly wouldn't have been as much fun without her! No pictures of the after wedding celebration are available for viewing as we don't want to scandalize anyone.

The next day Kevin and I drove to Lyndon Vermont, where we stayed for 3 nights of luxury in the school house cottage of the Wildflower Inn, followed b 3 nights of roughing it at the very primitive Burke Mountain Campground. Each evening, we consumed huge quantities of fine locally raised beef and locally brewed beer. At the cottage, we enjoyed listening to a big Belted Galloway Bull bellowing at the top of his lungs at the bull in the next pasture. He was quite entertaining!

During the days, we spent hours mountain biking, running, and walking the Kingdom Trails. I rode some trails that I haven't been skilled enough to enjoy until now, like the fun downhill Kitchel and Toddy's trails. I attempted Sidewinder where I reached a speed of about 35 miles per hour on singletrack before bailing out (I'll ride the whole thing next time.) We previewed Jaw on foot and I will not be attempting that one at any time due to very long and narrow bridges over much of the trail. I know a broken-neck-waiting-to-happen when I see one.

(I know the photo is sideways, I couldn't fix it!)

It was an absolutely perfect trip! I believe we stayed active enough to make up for all the indulgence in good food and drink. I've run since returning home and feel great. Now back to the business of preparing for Vermont 100. I'll be running as Laurel Cox this year, so it will be a personal best for that name, no matter what!