Thursday, December 30, 2010

York Beach Run

Yesterday at about two in the afternoon I took a break from my work day for an out and back run along York Beach to Nubble Light. It was a beautiful sunny day with temps in the thirties. I couldn't wait to get started. I changed in my car and then hopped out, ready to go. I took my first lurching step forward and found I could barely lift my feet off the ground! Within the past week I have had some snow shoe outings, a long cross country ski, strength workouts, and a lot of good running. My body is aching! My hip flexors ache, my ribs ache, my shoulders ache, and my quads ache. Ouch. I stumbled on, trying to ignore the two speedy nimble woman runners that passed me from the opposite direction. I couldn't help muttering a "Damn you," after they had passed and I was sure they couldn't hear me. I pushed on.

Glancing down at my Garmen (which I hate, but use sometimes to keep myself honest) I saw that I was running around 8:30 pace. I could live with that, but shouldn't it feel easier? After a mile or so, my gait finally lengthened and I started feeling a lot smoother. By the time I got to the lighthouse, I was feeling great.

I was scheduled for running drills that day and imagined doing them in the empty parking lots of the Viewpoint. Surprisingly, I found the place packed with winter sight seers. No problem, I'd never see any of them again. I swallowed my pride and did my three sets of drills. One fit looking Japanese tourist actually applauded me as I butt-kicked past. I like to think he knew what I was doing and approved. The other option is that he thought I was hired entertainment.

On my run back to my car I realized why those two women were so speedy and nimble, there was a tail wind! I hadn't really noticed how much of a head wind I was fighting on my way out. Heading back was fast! And wouldn't you know? Those same two women runners ran by going back toward the light house and they were struggling. We smiled at each other and commented on the wind. I guess I am still lacking confidence in my running fitness. Back a few years when I saw runners who were moving faster than me I'd just think, "good for you" and not "Damn you." I'll get there again!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Seasons Greeting from Kezar Falls!

Don't you have a love/hate thing for all those Holiday letters people stick in with their Christmas cards? Well, here's my attempt at a sappy Christmas letter (only available for Blog readers, you poor devils.)

Seasons Greetings From Kezar Falls!

2010 has been a busy year for us newlyweds in Kezar Falls. It's been a year full of fun walking, running, and biking in the woods. We have enjoyed about a hundred meals of steak and greens together. Speaking of Greens, we had a killer garden this year! I have been served coffee in bed over three hundred times in 2010. Morning bacon and eggs on the weekends have been consumed with gusto, only to be burnt up on the trails, calling for further sustenance which we find is best consumed at the Moat Mountain Brewery. There has been lots of fun mountain biking at the Kingdom Trails, Bradbury, FOMBA, Bear Brook, Pudding Pond, and the Moats. I have enjoyed a lot of running on some of those same trails! We've gotten through a broken neck together, but still struggle with Dan's broken truck sitting in the driveway. Last January, this young (at heart) couple enjoyed a winter trip to East Burke with their friend, Zoey. Sledding, walking, fine dining, and beam balancing were some of the activities we partook of while there. May found us having a top secret riverside ceremony involving rings and bubbles and crazy friends. We worked together for a successful completion of the Vermont 80 mile trail race in July. Chafing has never been so much fun! There was a nice little back packing excursion to explore an area we had never been to before. Camping at Acadia was another highlight of the year (I learned to ALWAYS use a flash light to find the rest room after dark!) There was a lot of local trail building, and then a lot of riding and running to be done on those trails! I finally managed to get back into a regular running routine and Kevin has continued to add miles to the local trails for me to run on. But it hasn't been all go-go-go, Porch sittin' has continued to be a favorite evening activity. Our senior citizen dog, Bart continues to amaze us all with his quest to become the oldest and lumpiest dog in Maine. Most importantly, we have been very happy together. In short, It's been a hell of a good year! Hooray for 2010!

What does 2011 have in store for this duo? We plan to continue to enthusiastically enjoy the great outdoors! We plan to raise lots of Kale and Collards again this year. We are going to adopt some laying hens in 2011. There is going to be a great Grand Canyon North Rim Mountain Biking trip in the coming months. We will also enjoy lots of mountain biking here in New England. There is going to be a new local island trail opening in 2011! Of course, we will continue to put in plenty of miles running and riding the existing local trails. I'm sure we'll enjoy a few pints of Iron Mike's Pale Ale at The Moat and a few Hangar Steaks at The Tamarack this coming year. This winter Kevin will get out on the snowboard regularly and I will cross country ski more than last year. Snow shoe stumpin' will be enjoyed by both! I will run a few trail races this coming year and give them an honest effort. I will redeem myself with a good hundred mile finish late in the Summer. And of course, porch sitting will continue to occupy many a warm summer evening. Hooray for 2011!

Happy Holidays and a Very Happy, Active, and Fun 2011 to all!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Moat Area Long Run

Yesterday's long run was done on some of the nicest single track in the area. The meandering, hilly mountain bike trails in the Moat area are fantastic for riding and running. The lay out of the trails is smooth and flowing, a little challenging here and there, and quite scenic in places. The White Mountain chapter of NEMBA is responsible for these trails and they do great work there. For late Fall, the trail conditions were remarkable. I only had to climb over two blow downs and these were both on service roads, the single track was clean and clear.
I left the car at the gate and ran up the road a bit before getting on the High School Trail which took me the long way to the Mineral Site Trail. From there I ran what we call the "High Trail." This is a long trail with some rough sections and a ton of climbing. It is very difficult for me on the bike, and nice challenging running! I forgot about the water crossing until I came to it. By then I was a long way in and didn't want to back track. The rocks and edge of the stream were very icy but I found a place I could just wade across without having to climb out onto ice. It really wasn't bad.
Next I ran some service roads, hiking trails, and then did the four nice single track loops. I threw in my two miles at marathon pace effort in the Hundred Acre Woods after setting up my camera on timer to check out my form. I have been trying to open up my stride more and lose that hundred miler's shuffle. I have some shorter faster distances planned for Spring! The photo shows me as a blur, but my form is looking better. Then I repeated the loop to retrieve my camera.
With one loop and the climb back out to the car remaining, I realized it was going to get dark before I finished. I hadn't been able to start my run until about one o'clock due to having work to finish up from the weekend. Not to worry, I had thought to bring my headlamp. But when I checked my pack, I realized that although I had thought to bring it, I hadn't actually brought it. It was still sitting on the kitchen counter. Oh well, I was very familiar with these last trails and there was an option to return on service roads instead of single track. The roads would be just as far in distance, but would be more open and easier to follow. But when I finished the loop I decided to throw caution to the wind and return on the Mineral Site Switchback. I love that trail!
I made it out to the last mile of service road running just as total darkness fell. The service road was easy to run on in the dark and i made it back without incident. I ran somewher between 19 and 20 miles in just over three and a half hours. I felt like I had another two or three hours left in me!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Visit to the Beach

Today I ran a nice ten miler in the middle of my work day. I run where I can during my travels, and today that happened to be in Old Orchard Beach. I ran about three miles on the sand, then moved out to the pavement for the rest of the run. Of note for all you non-heel-striking enthusiasts, I left no heel prints in the wet sand, wore regular old trail shoes, and wasn't even trying! I've never been cool in my life and suddenly here I am, a natural forefoot striker in a time when forefoot striking is cool. :-) The surf was high this afternoon and it was very pretty and enjoyable.

The road running was actually pretty fun too. I ran along the main strip from Ocean Park, through OOB, and into Scarborough. In the Summer months, this stretch is a madhouse. This time of year most of the businesses are closed and the automobile traffic is very light. Also, there was absolutely no foot traffic on the sidewalks. I was afraid I might get a parking ticket because there isn't much public parking on the Ocean Park end. But a police officer watched me park in front of a sign that said "no parking unless you are here to play shuffleboard," and didn't say a word when I took off running. I was prepared to tell him I was there to play shuffleboard, but it didn't come to that.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


If you've been running for a while, particularly if you have a track background, you have probably done running drills in one form or another at some point in your running career. I have a strong track background and I was coached for some time by an Eastern European track coach, so I am certainly familiar with running drills. They are also sometimes called Plyometric Drills. There are many different forms of these exercises, but they all involve fast explosive muscle movements. They help build strength, speed, and running efficiency (or economy.)

My coach, Jack has Incorporated these drills into my December training schedule. When I read over the exercises he recommended, I was familiar with all of them. Today was the day to get out there and give them a try! Ideally, today would be a cross training recovery day since I ran long yesterday, but my work schedule is busy for the rest of the week and I wanted to be sure to get this workout in so I did it today.

I warmed up with a two mile jog over the trails to the Sacopee Valley Fairgrounds. These fairgrounds provide level paved and dirt roads which are closed to traffic. They aren't scenic or interesting, but I've found they work well for my faster paced running and I knew they'd be perfect for today's drills.

I did sets of 7 different exercises for 30 seconds each with 30 second jogs between each exercise and between each set. I was to do these sets of drills for a total of two miles, which worked out to about 3 1/2 sets of the seven exercises (one doesn't cover much ground hopping or kicking one's own butt.) It's been quite a few years, but they all felt familiar and smooth and fast right from the start. This workout made me feel like there is still a fast young track runner inside this tired old ultra running body! It was a lot of fun, and quite a good hard workout. I didn't feel it so much while I was doing the actual drills, but I was huffing and puffing and staggering on those 30 second recovery jogs!

The drills I did today were as follows:
1. run backwards
2. karaoke step (we used to call them leg criss-crosses before karaoke was invented) in one direction
3. karaoke in the other direction
4. butt kicks
5. skips
6. hops
7. all out sprint with fast turnover (this one doesn't hurt until you stop)

You can do an online search for running drills or plyomtric drills and see descriptions of these and other drills. It's a fun way to break up the monotony and it gives a great workout. Here is a good video demonstrating some of the drills. I'm sure I looked just as crisp, clean, and quick today as this woman looks in the video. :)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Two Good Runs

Yesterday I ran five miles on the Ossipee River Trails. Kevin had tweaked his hip the day before and planned to walk at a leisurely pace, so he brought along my extremely old Springer Spaniel, Bart. He gave me a head start before letting Bart off the leash. I felt great and ran at a pretty fast pace. When I was about a mile and a half into my run, I met up with Kevin at an intersection. Right away I saw that he had lost the dog. Kevin told me Bart had taken off after me as soon as he was let off the leash. This was surprising, considering that walking Bart these days usually involves a lot of coaxing and prodding just to keep him moving forward.

I said, "I'll back track and see if I can find him." I knew this wasn't going to be easy since Bart is deaf and doesn't see well. What were the chances he had been able to stay on my trail? Kevin said, "He's probably right behind you, he was moving pretty fast." I thought there was no way that deaf blind dog in his late teens was right behind me. He had been a hell of a good running companion back in his day, but let's face it, he's really really old now! I turned around to back track and there he was, looking happier than he has in years. Goes to show you, once a runner, always a runner! Bart needed to be carried up and down the stairs last night (I've felt that way myself at times), but he seems fine today.

Today, I set out in the rain for a long run on the Standish rail trail. Temperatures were mild in the upper forties and the rain was gentle. I felt very good and averaged about 8:30 pace. I ran an out and back with 6 miles on dirt road and snowmobile trails and the other 12 on paved flat multi use trail. The last mile back to my car was uphill on soft dirt. That was the only time I felt a little tired. Whether I ever get gong ho about racing again or not, it still feels very nice to be in shape!

This is an extremely busy time of year at work for me. Getting my runs in has been a challenge. My toughest work stretch starts on Wednesday with 5 twelve hour shifts in a row and on-call at night. I'll do my best to get the runs in, but I refuse to stress over it. I'm aiming for 53 miles for this week. Wish me luck!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Green Mountain

Kevin and I climbed the Dearborn Trail up Green Mountain in Effingham, New Hampshire yesterday. There was a dusting of snow on the trail. I forgot my Stabilicers in the truck, but the snow wasn't problematic. The culprit was the thick layer of slippery, icy leaves that covered most of this trail. Those leaves are always thick on that trail, making for tricky running even in the summer because they hide all the rocks and roots. There were a few patches of ice, but the lone woman hiker in front of us left her slide marks through the snow on the ice to warn us not to step where she had. (Thanks, lady!) The temperature was mild and comfortable. Views weren't all that clear from the fire tower at the top, but we had a great day in the woods today!

Old ceramic tile trail marker with tree growing around it.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Long Time on the Trails yesterday for Not So Long Mileage

I wasn't very excited about doing my long run this week, so Kevin suggested running at Bradbury Mountain State Park for a change of scenery. We mountain biked there a lot over the Summer and Fall, but for running I usually head West or North into the mountains if I don't want to run locally. I thought Bradbury was a great idea and I was rearing to go! What I didn't count on was snowy slippery trails. We didn't get a single flake at my house.

I pulled into the parking lot and made the first set of tracks in the snow. There was one other vehicle there, a pickup truck that looked like it had been there over night. Yay, it looked like I'd have the whole place to myself! I got out of the car and walked over to the pit toilet. I slipped and fell on my ass half way there. Hmmm, running might be interesting this day. I hadn't brought any traction device with me.

My plan was to run all the single track on the East side, using the double track as needed to get from place to place. Then I'd stop at the car to refuel before heading over to the West side trails. I wanted about 17 miles total. It was a great theory. What I didn't realize setting out was how looooooong this would take me on slippery trails. It was treacherous! The light coating of snow was over ice, which was over leaves, which were over mud and water. I was careful and only slipped a few times, usually while running onto thin ice without realizing it was there. Bradbury is a very wet area and there is often standing water in the trails. The mountain bikers do an awesome job building bridges and board walks over the worse areas, and keeping other areas drained of water. But, as Kevin points out, they are pretty much done for the season.

Almost two hours into my run, Kevin called to check on me. I was having a good time and was kind of lost in my thoughts at that point. I had finally come across a single set of mountain bike tire tracks and was following them, curious as to who else was out there on these slippery trails on a Tuesday morning. When Kevin called, it brought me back to the moment and I glanced at my Garmen for the first time. I don't remember the mileage I saw, but I remember thinking, "I've been running for almost two hours and have only gone this far!" I also realized for the first time that I was soaked to my knees and it was COLD out! I only stopped running for a few seconds to check in with Kevin then I had to get running again to stay warm!

Back at the car I found that I had run 12 miles in well over two hours. My leg muscles and back muscles were aching from the effort of staying on my feet, but over all I was feeling fine. The length of time this run was taking was a bit discouraging so I turned the Garmen off and set back out for what I guessed was another five miles. I was supposed to do some threshold paced running in the middle of my run but hadn't found any place that I could do it. So I did that on the road before heading back into the woods to finish up. I believe this was the longest amount of time I've spent running since Vermont 100! And I didn't run very far! But that's Okay, I got it done and had fun.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Speed Play and Jogging Strollers

Today's assignment was ten miles with the middle miles alternating 1 minute fast and 4 minutes easy. I ran on the paved railway trail from Standish to Windham. It was a beautiful sunny day in the forties, perfect running weather!

My legs felt great on my warm up so I knew I'd have a good workout. The one minute intervals were all between 6 and 6:15 per mile pace according to my Garmen, but I don't put much stock in it's accuracy. Since this was supposed to be Fartlek, the pace didn't matter anyway. At the Windham end I couldn't help but venture onto the Presumpscot River single track for a bit, fitting in one minute of fast running on dirt during that brief foray. Then it was back to the quicker pavement running.

On the way back to the car I was passed by a woman pushing a jogging stroller during one of my four minute slow segments. She was young, fit, and fast, but still, getting passed by a jogging stroller is always a bit of a slap in the face! I caught her on the next one minute fast segment and picked up the pace of my recovery intervals so as not to allow that to happen again. I was once passed by S.F. pushing his kid in a jogging stroller during a one mile road sprint because his child care arrangement fell through. That was by far the fastest moving jogging stroller I've ever seen, he ran around a five minute mile that day. Today's was the second fastest.

All in all, it was a very satisfying and fun run. My legs are starting to remember how to turn over and push off at a faster-than-ultra pace. I think I see a few short snow shoe races in my near future!