Friday, April 27, 2012

Taking the Bad With the Good

Just when I have made my peace with being old and slow, Meghan Arbogast had to go and prove that 50 isn't too old to run well at Ultra distances. Her performance at the World 100K Championship race was quite inspiring. Still I struggle on, heavy legged and...slow. I am putting a good effort in and covering the miles. I'm enjoying myself out in the woods. I just don't have the speed, spring, or flexability that I used to. Some days are so bad that I think to myself, "that's it, it's time to move on to something else. No more running for me." I had one of those days Tuesday this week. Then I'll have a day where running feels effortless and natural. I'll find myself thinking, "Wow, I'm so strong I didn't even feel that huge hill I just ran up!" I had a day like that yesterday. I won't even talk about Tuesday's bad run. Yesterady, on the other hand, is worth talking about. I ran with Scout on old unmaintained town roads in Porter. These are hilly and rocky and fun. We did about 8 miles and loved every minute of it. I used these roads to train for Massanutten in the past, but hadn't been on them for a while. I forgot what excellent training trails they are! I ran out and back to avoid taking Scout out on the roads. This worked well because we climbed all the way out and then cruised downhill all the way home. On the way back I forgot all about being old and slow. I was feeling that old spring and speed. And it felt GOOD!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Runnin' in Style on the Moat Single Track

I hate running with my Garmen Forerunner. I don't like the way it teases me with a painfully slow increase in the mileage count. I don't like the way it makes me compete with myself to keep the average pace up where I think it should be, and then makes me watch as the average creeps to an unacceptably slow number as I run up a huge hill or over rugged terrain. I can't stand it when I think I am virtually flying down an easy stretch of trail and the average pace should be getting back where it belongs, only to notice I have lost the satellite signal and the numbers aren't changing at all. I hate it when I forget to hit the stop button for a pee break or forget to hit the start button after a pee break. It's upsetting that the smallest setting on the band is still big enough to strap around my thigh and the watch face itself is bigger than my palm. I loathe that when I download the data from my run onto my PC, the speed, distance, and elevation graph comes out all choppy and unreadable. When I trouble shoot this online I am told I need to purchase and download all sorts of stuff to correct my device's errors. The only time I love my Garmen is when I take it off and throw it into one of my desk drawers for a few months.

Today I ran 20.3 miles on the Moat area single track in just under 4 hours and I could have figured that out pretty accurately by checking my car clock before I left and after I got back. I don't care about my max speed (4.8 minute mile pace! -probably when I was sliding on my ass down that steep gravel hill) or my average pace (10.6 minute miles). I don't want to know my slowest pace (20.2 minute mile) or what my elevation gain was (8313 feet). I don't want to slide the data over to Google Maps and create a nifty picture of my loop (my device makes a choppy blocky zig zag line instead of the nice smooth loops everyone else seems to get). And I don't want to post all the charts, graphs, and maps on facebook. Honestly, I just like to run in the woods.

Not only did I wear my Garmen Forerunner 305, I also wore a running skirt and a snazzy lime green cami. And I haven't admitted it to anyone before now, but I've been running in shoes that are classified as minimalist for all my runs for over a year now. What is this world coming to? I normally have a style all my own which does not include fancy running clothes, trendy shoes, bright colors, or matching outfits, especially not in the woods! The shoes, Saucony Peregrines, work for me because they are light, flexible, and comfortable. They can't help it if they are a minimalist shoe, so I don't hold it against them. And I have to admit, the skirt worked out pretty well. It didn't cause any rubbing or chafing. Maybe I will become one of those stylish trail divas yet! But I draw the line at animal prints. If you ever see me in pink zebra stripes or lavender leopard spots, just shoot me.

I really hoped to run longer today, but I took Scout with me and he reached his limit about 3 and a half hours into the run. I will have to start leaving him at home on long run days now that my mileage is getting up above his comfort zone. He'll still get plenty of trail runs in on my other days. My next long run will be next Tuesday and I hope to get back to the Moats for it. I am only fitting in two really long runs a month on my two weekdays off from work that I have each month. I am also getting in one speed work day, one hill work day, and several moderately long trail runs each week. It feels like plenty. I think I'll be fine for Vermont. Instead of running the traditional weekend long run, I'd rather spend my weekends doing things with Kevin that we both enjoy like mountain biking, trail work, hiking, and kayaking. I have struggled with the "weekend long run" for my entire life. It never felt right. My kids probably still hold those weekend runs and races against me! This new balance makes me feel very well rounded and happy.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Trail Miles

Yesterday, Mary and I ran ten trail miles from the ball field on Route 35 in Standish to Sebago Lake and back. We were quite a bit slower than last week. we blame this on dirt and hills verses pavement and flat. We only managed two pickups, but they were longer and hillier than last week's pick ups. I admit, neither of us felt too peppy yesterday, but we got it done.

Today I will be back on the Ossipee River Trails after work. Running there is always fun and effortless. I love my home turf!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

We've Still Got It!

Mary and I met for a ten miler on the rail trail between Standish to Windham after work today. A while ago, she and I had made some sort of vow to start speed work and get back into racing shape starting this April. I don't know what I was thinking agreeing to something like this. I may have been drinking at the time.

As we set out this evening, I was hoping Mary had forgotten all about the speed work idea. I decided to just not mention it. But after about three miles, Mary stopped in the middle of a story about her family life and said, "See that sign up ahead? Let's go!" So I went. I was able to run fast enough, but I felt very clumsy and awkward. It just didn't feel smooth or natural. About a half mile later we fell back into our easy pace. Apparently Mary didn't feel all that graceful with her fast pace either. She told me she felt like comedian, Jerry Lewis flopping down the trail with her arms flailing. On one of our later pick-ups, a couple walking their dog actually backed up off the bridge they were starting out on and shoed their dog and themselves off the trail when they saw us barrelling down on them. We'll have to work on our style and grace.

We did a total of four pick-ups of about a half mile. It didn't kill us so we decided to meet for more of the same next Tuesday evening. Hey, we might be middle aged has-beens, but we like to think we've still got it!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Trail Work on the Ossipee

Yesterday was a great day to be out on the trails. The sky was blue and the temperature was pleasantly cool. The river gurgled and splashed beside me while the birds chirped in the trees. Kevin went up ahead to finish the initial clearing of the new loop, using loppers and boots to push dead fall and loose rocks aside. I started at the beginning of the loop doing what I like best, working down to the dirt with my rake. There is something strangely satisfying about watching a flagged route through the woods become a trail. After Kevin completed the loop, he joined me for the ground work. He uses the McCloud for this. That tool is too heavy for me since I've had my shoulder surgery, but it does an excellent job of removing the top organic layer and getting down to the dirt. Anyone can drag a rake through the woods, but to make a trail sustainable and flowing takes some work and some know-how. Luckily Kevin has the know-how. He has designed a narrow meandering single track that works perfectly with the terrain and the setting of the island.

The island we are working on has a lot of debris left behind from what we believe was a log drivers camp, probably in the nineteen forties judging by the bottles we have found. Some might call it litter, but Kevin and I both find this stuff fascinating.

We missed the trail work at Bear Brook Saturday, as we just couldn't get out of bed early enough. But we did get out there for a nice mountain bike ride later in the morning. Kevin and I started our ride on the steady uphill of Hemlock, hoping to find the trail crew still working. Starting a ride with a climb just about kills me, ugh. We found that the crew had already come and gone. The NEMBA folks had already cleaned up the logged section of Hemlock. This made Kevin happy. He had built this trail himself and was a little sorry to see it logged so heavily. Now it is completely ridable again! We owe NEMBA a trail work day for that, and we'll be sure to get out of bed in time for the next one.