Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Days One and Two of Vermont 100 Training

I've had a wonderful four months of just running for the love of running. I've had some of my highest mileage weeks ever in October, November, and December over wonderfully hilly singletrack. This past month has seen some fun times in the woods, but with less mileage due to my return to full time work. Now with the coming of February it's time for me to utter that evil word... training.

I have signed up to run my fifth Vermont 100, and want to be in good shape for a decent run there. That's the only "race" I have my sights on, although I might jump into a few of my favorite shorter trail races this Spring. I know I have at least one more sub 24 hour hundred miler left in this weary body. So I have to stop my mindless meandering and get a little focused with my running...just a little focused, mind you.

I recall the days of laboriously charting out training plans to the last mile and the exact minute-per-mile. Those were the days of keeping meticulous records of all my training runs including every detail from miles, speed, grade, terrain, heart rate, shoes worn, how many times I stopped to pee, and what I ate and drank. I vaguely remember things like interval work, tempo runs, and hill repeats. Those were also the days of 3 hour marathons and 38 minute 10K's. That was an era of 7 hour 50 milers and 4 hour 50K's. Well let's get something straight right here and now... this is a different era! I'm almost 50. I now have a well balanced happy life with many interests besides running. So when I say training, I mean doing a little more than just sight seeing when I'm out running the trails. I mean getting out to run regularly and putting in an honest effort each time. And that's about all I mean, so maybe I should come up with a better word than "training". I'll work on that.

Monday, Jan 30: 4 fast miles on icy trails with Scout early in the morning.
Tuesday, Jan 31: 10 miles on hilly snowmobile trails alone. Poor conditions, powder on top of a thick crust. Kept breaking through with every step. Good resistance training. Averaged 12 minute miles, and that was working hard!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

New Woods to Explore!

Saturday I ran through unbroken snow in my Dion running snowshoes over extremely hilly terrain with Scout. It was in the teens, very comfortable since I was working hard. We left from camp and headed into the woods with the goal of seeing where the trail went. The "trail" that starts at the corner of our drive is an old tote road, by the looks of it. It had about a foot of fresh snow on it and made for some excellent snowshoe running. I promised myself I would do an out and back to avoid the embarrassment of coming out in someone's back yard twenty miles from camp and having to call Kevin for a ride. That is the sort of thing that happens to me when I explore new trails. I hate to turn back. I just have to see what's around the next bend.

We ran mostly downhill for a few miles before hitting an intersection. I turned right and went up and down some ridiculously steep short hills before hitting a major snowmobile trail. I didn't know how Scout would behave around snowmobiles, as he had never seen one before, so I turned and tried the other direction. We went several miles, steadily downhill. Our camp is near the top of a small mountain, so running from camp always involves hills. I tell myself it's good for me! When I realized the trail was not leveling off but continuing to descend indefinitely, I decided it was time to turn back while I still had enough strength to climb back to camp. Running back up was a killer! By the time we made it back I was huffing and puffing like a 2-pack-a-day asthmatic.

The next day temperatures had plummeted below zero. I was going to cross country ski, but decided I would stay warmer on snowshoes. This time Kevin joined me and Scout. I wanted to show him the trail so he could give me some input about where I was headed and how I could turn this into some sort of long loop. Kevin has an uncanny sense of our position on the map no matter how many twists and turns we make in the woods. Using direction, topography, distant landmarks, and intuition he can usually give a pretty accurate account of our position. After checking out the intersection, he felt the left downhill option (that Scout and I started but turned around on Saturday) would probably work for some sort of long loop. He thinks it will join up with a snowmobile trail that comes out near the bottom of a dirt road I am familiar with and that will eventually take me back up the hill to camp. I'll try it next time I am feeling energetic and adventurous.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Ice and Hills

We just got back from another fun weekend in Vermont. The snow in Burke is pretty sparse, so there was no cross country skiing or snowshoeing. The mountain is open, but Kevin is a little particular about open trails and snow conditions, so he didn't want to snowboard, either. We managed to have a fun time anyway.

Saturday, we took a brisk hike on the trails. I had planned to run, but even with spikes it was way too icy! There was about an inch of solid, clear, smooth ice covered by a couple of inches of powdery snow. Even walking was treacherous. I had to slide down some of the steeper hills on my butt.

Sunday we went to get some building supplies for finishing the trim work on the camp. I had Kevin drop me off 5 miles from camp on the way back. Running to camp from town is all uphill... steep, steady, slippery uphill. To make matters worse, a friendly black lab joined me with about three miles to go. I turned and brought him back home when I realized he wasn't going to go back on his own. That meant running back down the hill. It looked like he was going to stay so I headed back up again, only to hear him clomping along behind me about a half mile later. I turned around and started back down the hill and soon he ran off ahead, going toward his home. I turned and ran back up. As I neared my turn with a mile and a half of the steepest climbing ahead, Good Old Blackie caught up to me again. I ran up the icy dirt road, scolding him between gasps for oxygen, "you are a very bad dog. You should not be chasing runners. You are going to be in big trouble when you get home." He just jogged along beside me with his tail wagging and his tongue hanging out of his mouth. When I got to camp, Kevin came out and told my new dog friend to "go home". Blackie turned and trotted back down the hill. Apparently, Kevin has more clout with dogs than I do. It was a good solid hill workout. And the doggy distraction probably helped keep me from thinking about how hard it was.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Icy Hilly Single Track

After working all weekend, I was happy to have today off to celebrate the new year with Kevin and Scout. We drove out to North Conway and traveled the rogue mountain bike trail that runs around the back side of Rattlesnake Mountain. Kevin walked and I ran over the hilly terrain. I get up ahead for a while, then turn and run back until I find Kevin again, then do it all over again. It's a fun way to get miles and hills in. Scout runs a bit with me, then gets worried that we are leaving Kevin too far behind and stops to wait while I go on. Then when I turn around and meet him coming back, he gets all excited and joins me running back for Kevin.

Hilly stuff out there! And today it was very icy, too. I wore my Brooks Adrenalines, which I never cared for until Kevin studded them with screws. They work great on ice. Coming back, a mountain biker passed us and Scout looked at him moving fast over the ice, looked at me moving slow over the ice, and made his decision. He took off with the cyclist with his tail wagging. I took chase. Luckily, the cyclist stopped on the trail and waited for me, otherwise I'd still be out there chasing them. Bad dog.

We wrapped up our day at The Moat with a few beers and some good food. Its been another great day in the woods with my honey and my (bad) dog.