Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Runnin' and Ridin'

 My Blog has been pretty quiet lately, but that doesn't mean I haven't been doing anything! The weather has been great so we've been up to camp in East Burke almost every weekend for mountain biking. We've been out on the local trails in the evening after work for runs, walks, and rides. I've also been running my long runs in the hilly Leavitt Plantation. 

The Leavitt Plantation is great fun. Just when I think I've found everything there is out there, I stumble upon another trail or tote road. Four or six hours of running goes by in a flash. The hills out there are killers, but they feel a little easier each time. I definitely feel fit with two days of mountain biking and five days of running each week, but I don't know if I am hundred miler fit. I only get two long runs in each month due to time constraints. I've been consistent with this for many months so maybe that will be enough.

Local mountain biking and running just got a little better. Kevin finished the Bootlegger Trail a few weekends ago. It is a beautiful loop trail on an island in the river. All together, we have about 5 miles of  single track out there now, plus the ski road and snowmobile trails. It's funny how fast the local people find the single track trails. We saw evidence that people were out on Bootlegger long before it was finished. And then on the day Kevin was out there finishing clearing the last piece, he met up with a female runner who told him she had been running the trail since early Spring.
Buying the camp in East Burke was a great decision. We love spending time there. Northeast Vermont trail conditions are as good as they get right now. Most weekends we get two good rides in. The Kingdom Trails are such fun to ride! We'll ride and ride until one or both of us suddenly announces, "I've got nothing left." Then we'll wobble back home and relax at camp or go out to the pub. I sure could get used to that kind of life every day! We dream out loud about quitting work, selling everything we own, and moving up to our one room cabin in the woods. Then one of us will remember that we'd still have to be able to afford good wine and nice steaks, so it couldn't work out.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Vermont Mountain Biking

We had another wonderful weekend in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. I ran from camp with Scout Saturday morning for about an hour and a half. We explored the tote roads and snowmobile trails in the woods behind the camp. Just when I thought I didn't know where I was and would have to back track for another hour and a half of running to get back home, Scout went ahead about twenty feet and turned to look back at me. He waited there until I caught up and then he showed me a little deer path that cut right across to the trail we had started out on, about fifty yards from camp. Sometimes I wish I had a dog's sense of smell!

We followed that with about three hours of mountain biking on the East Branch side of Darling Hill, fitting in as many trails as we could. Sunday was a hilly three and a half hour ride on the West Branch side. Holy cow, were my quads aching! Something that hurts that bad has to be good for me!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Fun in the Woods

Saturday's Big A 50K at Mount Aggie was my first "race" in over a year. I needed a long run and I wanted to see my Ultra friends, so the Big A was a good fit. Bob D ran the first loop with me. He has a marathon coming up and only wanted to run one loop. The 7.8 mile loop was rough and tough and lots of fun. I was told after the race, that the 50K included 12400 feet of climb and decent. I believe it! Twenty-eight runners started and I landed somewhere in the middle of the pack on that first loop, and stayed there throughout the run. I felt relaxed and ran well within my limits. I wasn't sure if I could run the entire 50K or would have to stop after three loops. I knew twenty four miles was well within my reach, but I wasn't sure about 31. I'm still building up the length of my long runs in my Vermont 100 training, so this was a good test to see how that was going. I ran the second loop alone, but could see Lori and her friends up ahead now and then.

Third and fourth loops, I was completely on my own. I had no idea where I was in the field and didn't care at all. I was really enjoying myself. I am totally happy when I am by myself in the woods. Still, it was nice to come through the aid station and see Rich at the end of each loop, just to assure me I wasn't the only one left out there. I started to notice that there were less and less cars in the parking area each time around. I ran steady for three loops as planned. About three quarters of the way around for the third time, a fast young guy went shooting past me on a very rocky downhill stretch. I wondered if I was being lapped by the leader. It turns out that I was. After finishing three loops I thought, what the heck, might as well do the whole thing since I was feeling fine.  It turns out that all but 7 runners dropped out before the full 50K. I ended up finishing fourth over all.  My quads were sore and tired, but all things considered, I was pretty pleased with my effort.

Sunday, Kevin and I mountain biked at the Moat single track. I just puttered along on tired legs. Any climb whatsoever, felt like Mount Washington. Still, it was very fun to be out with Kevin and Scout on the trails. There's nothing like playing in the woods! It was definitely a weekend of fun and smiles!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Recent Stuff

     On Sunday I set out from camp in East Burke to run the same nice ten mile loop of dirt road and trail that Kevin and I had mountain biked a few weeks earlier. Running from camp always involves a steep downhill mile to start and a steep uphill mile to finish. In between those beginning and ending miles, there is nothing but more hills. This is tough stuff, and awesome training for Vermont 100. At the height of land, I could look across from the ridge I was running and see our neighbor's house near the top of our little mountain. In all directions there was field, forest, and mountain. What a beautiful part of the country Northeast Vermont is. The ten miles really flew by, despite my burning quads. I ended the trail portion down the beautiful winding single track of Moose Alley. This, unfortunately, was followed by a two mile climb on hard packed dirt road followed by that one mile of STEEP uphill I mentioned earlier. I ended up having to walk two brief stretches on the final climb, but I was pretty pleased that was all the walking I had to do. This run gave me a good butt kicking. But that was only part one of Sunday's fun.
     Part two was a mountain bike ride on the single track on Darling Hill. When we got out of the truck at Mountain View Farm at the top of Darling Hill, we realized how windy and cold it really was. I layered up with two fleeces over my long sleeved jersey, but that still didn't feel like enough. I threw fashion to the wind and put my winter coat on over those other layers. Half way down Pound Cake two guys passed me on their bikes. The second guy looked at me and chuckled and shook his head. I warmed up by the end of the first trail and stowed my wadded up jacket in Kevin's Camel back. OK, maybe I was more embarrassed than warm, but I went without the jacket for the rest of the ride. We covered a lot of ground and rode a lot of hills. I work a lot harder than Kevin does on the technical stuff. Where he lifts and lightens the bike, I power over things with pure grit. It takes a lot out of me!
     Monday and Tuesday were easy runs on the Ossipee River Trails with Scout. Monday, my legs felt like cement blocks. Tuesday I felt light and fast! I was happy to only have one feel-like-crap day after my hard effort Sunday.
     I will be running some, or all of the Big A 50K on Saturday. I haven't built my long runs up to that kind of distance yet, but if I run easy enough I can probably finish. Either way, it will be a fun long run with friends.