Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Scout's Point of View

For our run tonight, Mom took me to a spot I'd never been to. I could smell the swamp mud as soon as we got out of the car and I got so excited that Mom had to use her stern voice with me, "out of the road, now! " Of course I know I can't step on the black hard ground without a leash, but sometimes I forget. Mom took me by the collar, which I find humiliating, and escorted me to the trail head. I was off in a flash as soon as she let go. Glorious dirt, mud, rocks, and roots! Hooray!

Mom followed. She tries to keep up, but she only has two legs. Plus she isn't exactly a puppy anymore. That's Okay. When I get too far ahead I stop and fool around until she catches up. I roll in stuff, chew on sticks, or practice lifting my leg. This leg lifting thing is new for me. I've been watching my neighbor, Apollo do it and decided to try it myself. Apollo can lift his leg straight out to the side and squirt urine on objects 3 feet off the ground. He's amazing. I can only get my leg up in the air for a few seconds, then I loose my balance and end up squatting. Also, sometimes when I lift my leg nothing comes out. So until I get this leg lifting thing down, I only do it out in the woods where Apollo and the other neighbors can't see. Tonight I lifted my leg at least 30 times and got it right about three times.

The trail we took tonight was awesome. It was long and straight and wider than what we usually run on. Dad calls it "double track" and he says it like it's a bad word. But I like it, this stuff is built for sprinting! Even Mom can get up a little speed on this sort of trail.  After a while, we hit a stretch of mud holes. This was the stuff I was smelling when we got out of the car. Mom tried to keep her colorful foot coverings out of the mud but wasn't successful. I just plowed right through. A few times I stopped right in the middle of deep smelly mud and laid down. I did this just to get a rise out of Mom.

After about an hour of steady running, we came to a river. It wasn't wide and shallow and fast like the river we usually run beside. This was narrow and deep and slow. The banks leading down to the water's edge were steep. This river's bottom was sandy instead of the rocky kind of bottom I'm used to.  I went barreling down the steep bank and ended up in the river with a big splash. I found that I couldn't touch the bottom so I started paddling around. I paddled up the river and then down the river. I paddled across. I paddled around under the bridge. I got out and climbed the steep bank, then ran back down and splashed into the river again. I started doing this over and over again, up, down, splash, up, down, splash... I got out of the water and picked up a big stick and started running in circles. Then I carried the big stick into the river and tried swimming with it in my mouth. I got out and rolled in some moose turds. I tasted one, but it wasn't fresh so I spit it out. I lifted my leg and peed on my own foot. I shook the water and mud off my coat onto Mom and I was ready to go.

The run back seemed tougher. Mom was ahead of me instead of behind. She had to wait for me . I walked up the big hill. I squatted instead of lifting leg when I felt like peeing. I jogged past a perfectly good pile of deer poop without even giving it a sniff. I edged past Mom and tried to slow her down by blocking her way. But on that Damned double track, she had plenty of room to go around me.  Mom joked, "you simply must learn to pace yourself better!" I fell asleep in the car on the way home and dreamed about running and swimming. I can hardly wait for our next run!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Getting Technical

I think I have been getting spoiled by the smooth, flowing trails of Northeast Vermont. Yesterday we mountain biked at Bradbury State Park in Pownal, Maine. Early on, Kevin looked back to ask how I was doing and I answered, "I have butterflies in my stomach."  Sure, there are some tough trails at the Kingdom Trails, but we know those trails so well it's easy to ride the correct lines to set up for whatever obstacle is coming. And tough sections at the Kingdom Trails are broken up by long stretches of smooth, fast, riding. Bradbury is alternating twisting, rocky, rooty, steep, loose, muddy, log hop, step up, drop down, high narrow bridge, stone wall... you get the picture.

After my initial shaky 5 or 10 minutes, I got into my groove and couldn't stop smiling.  It is exhilarating to get over a big rock that I wasn't sure I could make, Ride to the top of a rooty rocky steep climb without coming off the bike, and find the nerve to finally ride over the high bridge (which has been shortened and lowered a little, I must admit). It's even fun to try  to make it up or over something and come up a little short. 

By the time we got back to the parking area my legs were wobbly. What a fun ride! And what a beautiful day! Today looks like another gorgeous late summer day. we are off for a paddle on Ossipee Lake.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Running, Riding, and Trail Building

Last week I made it through my planned training exactly to the letter, except for Thursday which I took off due to craziness at work which kept me sitting at my laptop far later into the evening than it should have.

Thanks to near perfect weather and fantastic trail conditions, Kevin and I had one of our best mountain bike rides ever on Saturday on the Kingdom Trails. It helped that we were both well rested and feeling energetic and strong, for me this was because I took Thursday off from running! See, things always work out for the best. We did our favorite long loop in three hours. This loop usually takes us three and a half to four hours. Leg fatigue didn't set in until the last few uphill climbs on Beat Bog, which is exactly how I like it. I'd hate to finish a good long ride feeling like I wanted to keep going!

Sunday we started laying out a trail loop around our camp. This is more difficult than you'd think. It is hard for me to tell if a climb or turn is going to feel fun and smooth on the bike or awkward and clumsy. It is also difficult to see where I am going and where I have been through the dense trees and brush. Luckily, Kevin has some experience in this and a good feel for it. This took us several hours, but now the loop is all marked. It will be a lot of fun to ride...eventually. We have a lot of work ahead of us.

Work promises to be even more chaotic and crazy this week. We are going through some "transitions" which are going to require us all to put in extra time. I can only take it one day at a time. So for today, I have to fit in eight miles at some point. Should be simple enough.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Getting (Semi) Serious

After those fun long runs at Vermont and MMD, I am fully recovered and ready to get serious... or at least, semi-serious...about my training. There, I said it, training, as opposed to running, romping, and joyously frolicking through the woods.  Believe me, there was nothing joyous about yesterdays fast paced five miler on a paved exercise path in 85 degrees of high humidity while sucking frantically at the air trying to get enough oxygen to my brain to stay conscious and moving. The only joy I had was near the end when two elderly women on bicycles came up from behind and chatted away the last mile with me. They were very sweet. I especially liked the one that said, "your gait is just beautiful! You look like you could run in the Olympics!"  I probably should have answered, "and you two look like you're ready for the Tour De France!" But all I could do was muster up a weak smile.

Today will be 4 miles of Fartlek after work. It promises to be just as hot, humid, and painful as yesterday's experience. I should have set up a run/ride date with those two old gals for today. I need all the help I can get.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

MMD Photos and Results

From left, Laurel, Rich, Patrick, Craig, and Bob
Rich and Patrick early on, before the sweating started
Craig, Frank(?), and Fred on Baldface Circle Trail
Michelle ran the first 11 miles , then hiked another 3 or 4 tough miles with 50 pounds of much appreciated water to leave on the trail for the participants.

Bob and Bode

Results below (I hope)

Monday, August 6, 2012

MMD 2012

The 2012 edition of the More and More Difficult Run (MMD) was held this past Saturday in Evan's Notch. Event founder, Jonathon gave up his role as director this year as he is busy with other things. There was some talk that the event wouldn't be held, but thanks to Bob N, and volunteers Robin N, Jeff L's wife Kelly, and good old Kevin, the event went off without a hitch. Bob N put everything together before the event, then handed the reins to the above mentioned volunteers so he could run. Many of the usual cast of characters showed up to participate as well as several new faces. The course was a beauty with plenty of climbs and descents, lots of great views, nice runnable stretches, some sections of challenging footing, and good support with two aid stations and a cache of water in the exact spot where it was needed most. This water was hiked in by Michelle R after she ran the first ten mile section of the course. I have to say, we were all VERY happy that Michelle lugged all that water in. The day was extremely hot and humid and that water was a life saver!

The course was a big figure eight, more or less. Link to the map below.

I found myself running the Baldface section with Craig, Bob, Rich, Fred, Patrick, Michelle, and a few guys whose names I don't remember. The open ledges were already hot when we passed through in the morning. It was just a taste of things to come. Despite my best efforts to keep up with water and electrolytes, my feet were already cramping when we came into the first aid station at about mile ten. After passing through this station manned by Robin, we crossed 113 and started up toward Speckled Mountain. This is where the temperature and humidity became brutal. Rich, Patrick, and I gained a little distance on the rest of our travelling companions in this stretch. It was much too hot to wait at the summit to re-group, so the three of us went on. Rich was moving extremely well, and Patrick and I let him pull us along for the ride. My cramps were spreading from my feet to my calves and shins. At one point, my right calf cramped so badly that my leg stretched out against my will and my foot dragged on the ground causing me to fall. I was still laying there, rolling around and pounding on my calf when Patrick caught up from behind.  It was not one of my most graceful moments.

Back down at Rte 113 we found the next aid station manned by Kevin and Kelly. The watermelon and iced tea were so good there and the chairs so comfortable, Patrick decided to stay. I gave Kevin a big smooch since I had forgotten to when we set off at the start, then Rich and I moved on up toward the Royces. There was a short half mile spur trail to the summit of East Royce that was much tougher than I expected. It had looked so insignificant on the map! After a brief rest at the summit, we started back down the same half mile stretch. We ran into Fred heading up. He grinned broadly and said, "This climb is wonderfully terrible!"  I think he meant it. This guy is 61 years old and looks and moves like he's about 45.  This would be the last time Rich and I saw any of the MMD participants until the finish.

My cramps remained irksome, but after a point I just had to accept them and concentrate on all the things that were going well. I had plenty of energy. Other than the cramps, nothing hurt. My stomach felt good and I was able to take food and fluids well. Rich was kind enough to wait each time he started gaining ground on me even though I urged him to go on without me, so I had good company. And clouds were rolling in and thunder was booming in the distance! I was silently praying for the rain to reach us to cool things off.  Finally as we started down off the summit of Mt Meader, we felt the first smattering of rain drops. It wasn't much, but it gave us a brief respite from the heat and humidity. By the time we got down to the road, the sun was back out and it was more humid than ever. We alternated walking and jogging back to the campground where we were greeted by the early finishers and volunteers standing and clapping for us.

After having Kevin dump a jug of ice cold water over me to clean off some of the grime, I enjoyed sitting and sipping a few beers while we watched the rest of the field come in. Everyone made it back by dark, no one was seriously injured or lost, and everyone seemed to have enjoyed themselves. All in all it was another great MMD!  I'll post photos in a day or two.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Still Recovering


 68 miles of the Vermont 100 took more of a toll on my legs than the full hundred usually does. It's mostly my right quad. I think I was under trained and did not do nearly enough running on hard surfaces in preparation. On race day, I ran the early hard packed downhills much too aggressively for the training I had done. Looking back, I was already feeling twinges in my quads while I was running the paved re-route through Woodstock early in the day. My right quad is still angry about it.

So this past week I rode my road bike and walked. After a full week of not running or mountain biking, I was ready to go! Saturday, Kevin and I mountain biked a four hour long hilly loop around the Kingdom Trails. I was happy my legs felt as good as they did. I was picturing myself walking the bike up all the hills and that wasn't the case. I was moving a little slower than usual, judging from the fact that Kevin had to keep waiting for me and a few groups of riders passed us, but it felt great to be out there. Kevin pointed out that it is unusual for riders to pass me these days, which sure wasn't the case a year ago.  It's really fun to take up something new at this age. Where I see myself slowly declining in some of the things I like to do, mountain biking is something I am still improving at.

Sunday I decided to run. The problem was that it is extremely hilly where our camp is. To start from camp, I have to run straight downhill for about a mile, loosing around 1400 feet of elevation. From there I can either turn right to continue down, or turn the other direction and climb. Flat isn't an option. I did OK, but ended up walking the entire last mile back up to camp. Monday I tried to run a flat 4 on the local trails, but my quads made me cut it short. Yesterday I got back on the mountain bike and that went very well. I have to be patient. Right now I just have a little muscle strain, I don't want to turn it into a real injury.

This weekend I am planning to run an annual 30+ miles through the White Mountain National Forest with friends. I'll go anyway but if my legs aren't willing, I won't run. Kevin is working the aid stations, so I could always help him instead of running. I've still got 3 days left to recover, so you never know.

By the way, I've been eating plenty of greens. That's gotta help with the recovery!