Wednesday, March 29, 2006

It only hurts when...

It only hurts when sit, run, walk, stand, sleep, think, eat and type. Other than that I'm fine.

My back hurts (from lugging wood?). My knees hurt because who knows. My right quad hurts from all the miles after a brisk hilly course. My joints hurt. Then my other leg starts to hurt. My calves hurt. My ankles and feet hurt. Heck, this is starting to hurt my feelings.

I have a suspicion that I'm under the ill effects of a virus my eldest daughter cooked up called the "5th disease". Some childhood nothing that exhibits a rash on the face of 8 year old girls. If passed on to their dear old dads, it becomes a joint ache. That's what I think all of this is. This is nuts.

I took Monday off after really feeling low after Sunday's run. I thought some extra rest, complete muscular rest for the legs, and just a day off would do the trick. Unfortunately, the reward center in the brain detected the lack of pleasing "running chemicals" produced by my volume of miles and decided to punish me by making me "down". Then Tuesday came, I was still sore all over. Coupled with lethargy courtesy of my mind, and I found another reason not to get out for even a shake out run - even though I had all my gear with me ready to go. I slept in again today to help with the pain. But lunchtime came and went with me reading a book instead of pounding the river trail.

Then I got lucky. I closed up shop and found that I was running about 30 minutes ahead of schedule. I was going to just drive home but for some reason I got the "I don't know what to do with myself" feeling by being off schedule. See what not running does to one? It throws your whole mood off. Instead of feeling up and cheerful, I've had three days of down and miserable. So I forced myself to to don the running gear and off I went down the river trail for 3 short miles.

By mile one, my brain was very pleased with me. The blood was flowing and my world was starting to brighten. By mile two I was happy, and mile three had me back in my normal state of mind. To think I am so susceptible to a little thing like exercise!

The only pain I felt during the run was the intermittent back pain. I must have pulled a muscle slightly bringing in some wood. I hope this settles down by Sunday's half marathon. When I stopped, the right quad was still sore - and more sore when I got home. But it relaxes when I run. The calves were tight during the run but those too worked themselves out. Looks like this week is turning into a taper week for the half marathon - and it was needed.

So the moral is: don't stop running. Except when you have to. But then start up really quickly.

Training so far this week: 26 miles. Today was 3 in 21:01.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Just Like the Bad Old Days

Sunday's long run was a lot of fun - but it had all the after-effects that I used to feel in the "old days" when doing 22 miles was a new endeavor. Back when I started training for marathons with Marc, I'd come home exhausted, tired, befuddled, and not good for anything more than lying on the couch groaning about the ache in my legs. For hours I'd be out of commission, unable to participate in life as I hobbled from one room to the next, restless, tired, and spent.

My argument was that this would all pass. I'd progress to the point where running 22 miles easily with friends would have no impact on anything else scheduled for the day. This became partly true. 

But yesterday hit me in all the wrong ways. I was incredibly sore. More sore than I have been in a long time and just as weak and fuzzy-headed as my beginning runs. I knew better than to lie down on the couch - as I'd never get up. But the whole day was a battle to stay awake. I went to church and could barely keep my eyes open, I went to my Dad's birthday party and ate pie to no effect, and struggled to become motivated for anything needing attention at home. I even tried a shake out run and called it off at 1 mile due to the soreness. It wasn't until I ate my first piece of french toast late in the evening my daughter made me that I suddenly perked up and felt much better.

Ugh. I think it was the accumulation of the miles on the 'ol system. I hit the sack early and didn't set the alarm so I could acquire as much sleep as possible. This did the trick. This morning I awoke refreshed and could have gone for a run if there had been time. However, by the time I walked around the house a bit, my right quad was still very sore so I made the decision that today would be a rest day.

It's one thing to fatigue the aerobic system and recover after re-introducing the right amount of carbohydrates and rest. But it's another thing entirely when one of the muscles has been stressed a little too much and is in need of further agressive recovery.

I can trace this problem back to a day last week (I think) where I ran a pretty brisk pace on a hilly course. I remember after the run my quad being sore and thinking that I pressed a little too hard on the hills for the condition of my muscles. Without any standard rest days, this muscle has had a difficult time fully recovering. It feels fine when running at a brisk pace. It's the slow stuff that makes it twinge. So with this in mind, I took the day off for complete recovery.

Lucky for me, it fits this week's plan fairly well. It's a "drop" week in order to rest the body a little before I go into some marathon specific training over the following two weeks. I don't know exactly how much I'll drop the mileage but I assume it will be significant enough to provide the muscular rest I need. Next Sunday is a half marathon in St. Martin's, NB which I'd like to run as well as I can. A good practice session on race strategy. This is another good reason to "taper down" this week.

The following two weeks I'll try to include less low aerobic running in favor of longer MP runs. Hopefully, with the additional rest for the legs, the MP runs will be brisk but certainly doable. It should provide an indication of where I can expect to hold a pace for the marathon distance (or slightly slower). Since I have been focusing on aerobic conditioning (and plan to continue for now), and that I am fairly early into this new program, I can't expect wonders now. But I can take advantage of the better conditioning I already feel and shoot for that sub 3 performance.

Training so far this week: 23 miles.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Week Roundup

While I posted this morning about resting and relaxing I did end up getting my two workouts in. The first, a 3 mile recovery run in 26:39 to get the blood flowing after sitting around all morning. After the run, we quickly headed out to the Moosehorn for a short hike and then to the Weather Spotter training. The Weather Spotter training was 2 hours longer than I thought it would be so I ended up getting home late afternoon. Instead of heading out for my LT workout, I chopped wood and hung around the house. I figured I'd done enough etc. etc. and could afford not going.

Then I read Mike's post about doing the right thing in terms of training. It inspired me to go out after supper and put in some more miles and a few 1/2 mile repeats at threshold pace to finish off the week. I am glad I did. I feel great physically, feel great mentally, and overall happy to have my two in for today. So Mike, thanks for the kick.

Week's training: 110.7 miles. The breakdown:

Recovery 31.6 miles - 29%
Aerobic 54.6 miles - 49%
Long 23.0 miles - 21%
Tempo 1.5 miles - 1%

Looking forward to the slow drop in mileage and perhaps a good feel as to what the real "race pace" will end up being.

Resting on a Saturday Morning

Decided to not roll out of bed today and do an easy 3, but defer it until later on in the morning. Then after some Skywarn training for the NWS with my 8 year old daughter, I'll do some sort of LT workout at the airport this afternoon. No need to jump right into it after all - it's Saturday. A day of lax routines, unstructured loafing, and long bouts of reading. Even an hour walk in the Moosehorn with the family is on tap. Love weekends!

I have just come off of two hard days of running. But they weren't both "hard" in terms of effort. Just the completion of them was difficult.

Thursday I did a 3.4 miler in the morning to shake out the legs. 30:09. Then on the way to work, I realized I had forgotten my sneakers. This changed my schedule so that I had to come home from work early in order to get the workout in. I am lucky that this option was open to me. The run turned out to be very difficult to accomplish. The plan called for 60 minutes in the high aerobic zone (or MP) after a short warmup followed by a short cooldown. The course was out the highway in Eastport to the Passamaquoddy Indian Reservation and back. Just as the core part of the run got started, a north wind started to blow and squalls were crossing the bay. Thus the snow and rain came in sideways at me but luckily the squalls were short in duration.

From the start I had such difficulty getting the heart rate up into the proper zone. The legs would have none of it. They were tight and were rebelling against any sort of increased turnover. This was very frustrating and made the first few miles very labored and uncomfortable. However, I kept going because I figured at the lower heart rate, I was in no danger of working beyond my aerobic capability. The head wind kept at me as I struggled across the causeways to the turn around point.

Then at 4 miles (and about 1/2 mile before the turnaround) the legs suddenly loosened up allowing for increased turnover and the heart rate jumped up 3 - 6 - 9 beats per minute within seconds. The tempo was up and game was on! No idea why it took 4 miles to have the engine catch or why it caught at all but this lifted my spirits considerably. I mean, if I was going to feel bad, I wanted at least to have some decent splits to go with it!

I turned around at 30:30 (4.5 miles) and the headwind turned into a nice tailwind. The legs were turning and now the feet added to the list of bodily complainers. The nice thing about repeating this type of workout is once you've done it, you realize that you can always do it. So, no matter the legs are complaining, you know the lungs will take you in to the finish. This is important because in the past when the legs started to hurt I'd start to wonder if I could make it to the finish at the pace. Now I have much more faith in lung capacity to drag me through to the end and I let the muscles slow me down on their own accord - but I try not to willingly notch it down aerobically if I don't have to.

With all that said, wasn't I glad when the workout was done! The last mile is uphill and it was hard to keep the pace. In the end I completed 9 miles in 59:51 with an average heart rate just under MP. So I was pleased. This is where I need to have faith in the training as I couldn't imagine keeping up this tempo for a marathon with the legs feeling like they were. But with rest the muscles should feel fine and the lungs are doing great.

Then Friday - ugh. Fridays are just hard. Two hours of "low aerobic" always morphs into two hours "slow slog". This is the "no sugar" run. The only place a two hour workout will fit is in the wee morning hours and that means rolling out of bed and onto road without the benefit of tea or bread. But it is done - 13.4 miles in 2:02:44.

Sore is where this left me and the only cure is..... more running! I popped over to the Moosehorn for 30 minutes of easy recovery and didn't my legs complain! For the first miles is was tough but things loosened up a little by the end. I'll call it 3 miles.

Next week will be a "drop" week by dropping the time on course to 50 - 75% but running the same efforts. I'll still put in the long run at scheduled on Sunday. The following Sunday is a half marathon in St. John, NB that Mike & I are running. I want to be somewhat fresh for this race as I'll practice some race strategy. Following this race, I'll move my training to focus on longer MP runs and less "low aerobic" running. This should have the result of lowering my weekly mileage but increasing the proper focus on race strategy and race preparedness.

Only 3 weeks of training left before the taper: 1 drop week with same hard/easy pattern just reduced time on course, 2 weeks of "coordination" training focusing on MP running longer distances (12 - 15 -18 perhaps). Then 2 weeks taper.

Training so far this week: 103.7 miles.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Another Tough Tuesday

I went out to do 60 minutes in the "high aerobic" zone - which includes marathon pace, and trouble found me or I found it. The end result was success - 9 miles in 1:00:22 or a 6:42 pace with an average heart rate of 81%. But I was flagging at the end, if not the middle.

The course is the river trail in Calais. It is muddy this time of year and the gravel is soft. I'd probably get a few seconds on the total time if I was on pavement. On the other hand, it is fairly flat and is very similar to the surface quality of the first 10 miles of the Holyoke Marathon. It was warmer today and I took my outer shell off after my .9 mile warmup. The warmer weather contributes naturally to a faster pace in my opinion so I can't attribute all pace improvements to my training. My first 3 mile split was 19:51, but it wasn't too long afterward I could feel the pace start to fade with every mental distraction. The heart rate would correspondingly fall as well, basically letting me know I was slacking off the pace. The 2nd 3 mile split was 24 seconds slower in 20:15 and the final lap in 20:16 included a threshold pace "sprint" for the last .1 miles.

It could have been fatigue, motivation, distraction, and even the muddy course. But it's done and one must have faith in the training. .9 miles back to the bank felt oh so good. Top of the world. There's nothing like jogging after running hard for an hour.

Add this to my 5.1 mile shake out run this morning in 50:57 and I get 15.9 for the day. This morning's shake out run was pretty nice by the way. Out of razors, I stopped by the Irving to pick one up for the interim and instead of jogging home with my purchase in my pocket (a nod to Alison), I grabbed a coffee and walked home instead. Ahhh.

Yesterday brought 14.5 miles to my legs with a 90 minute morning run and a 3 mile evening shake out run. Add this to Sunday, and so far this week I've got 56.4 miles in the log. Tomorrow is another 90 minutes easy with a shake out run at some point. I'm not sure what order I'll do the workouts in. I'd rather do the 90 minutes at noon, but sometimes it's hard to disappear for so long in the middle of the day. I guess it depends on what time I awake.

And as a parting treat, I offer the world a glimpse of some genuine Boston Marathon sneakers, worn by local celebrity, Mike of St. Andrews, NB.

Watch these sneakers smoke down Route 135 through Framingham, merge effortlessly onto Route 16 in Wellesley, flatten the Newton Hills, and glide with the ease of well delivered curling stone down Boylston for the finish.

Mike claims that before this photo was taken, the shoes had only seen the surface of a treadmill.
(Word has it, the shoes rest in a special glass case under lock and key).

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Running with Marc

Finally got to run with Marc again on Saturday. Can't believe we haven't got a run in together since the Cape Cod Marathon. But such is time. It just slips by as we go our separate ways. The good thing is we keep in touch pretty much daily and this makes our conversation when we meet up the same as if we just met yesterday. Nothing new except the size of our children. Here's a photo of two good friends:

In this photo we were at the Bangor track where we jogged around it for the most part. I was able to squeeze an LT workout in of 4x400 with 400 recovery. Felt great.

This run ended the week with 113.1 miles. The breakdown follows:

Recovery: 40.1 miles (35%)
Aerobic: 54.1 miles (48%)
Long: 17.8 miles (16%)
Tempo: 1.1 miles (1%)

It was a very good week ending on a high note with the run with Marc. Felt good all week without excessive fatigue which I attribute to good sleep and good recovery running.

*Sunday 3/19*

Blogger was giving me trouble yesterday so I'm a day behind on my posting. I'll post about today's long run (it was great) and Mike's new shoes a little later. 23 miles in for the long run and 3 for this afternoon's recovery gives me 26 to start the week. A hot bath to boot and I'm good to go for another fun filled training week.

Friday, March 17, 2006

A Pleasant Friday Run

Not only did I take it easy, get up on time, have some tea and a bagel prior to going out, and bask in the bright sunshine, I finally met up with Eric again at mile 2. Therefore, the bulk of the run was in conversation. Eric and I have had different running schedules for a few months now and I was glad to see him running up the strip at the airport just as I was about to cross it. Good running partners sure make what could have been a dull 2 hours, fly by in no time flat. By the time we dropped him off at his house, I had just 43 minutes left in my workout. Another 5.2 mile lap, and I was done.

I usually dread the Friday run due to its length and placement in the week. Having resolved to run as easily as needed helped me out physically and probably psychologically. It's labeled a "low aerobic" run but I run it just below the zone if necessary to keep the peace with my body. Today's average was about 63% maxHR instead of 70%. But benefits accrued anyway and I was able to pick up the pace for a brisk downhill last mile.

I didn't sleep well last night due to incredibly detailed dreams - and to make it worse, they were about work. I awoke a little before my alarm clock and got up anyway. I'd rather be tired than risk working in my sleep.

13.8 miles in 1:59:16 or an 8:38 pace.

At noontime, I got out for my lunch run. Only this time it was my recovery workout instead of the core workout. Did 6 easy on the river trail in 55:52 or a 9:19 pace. Felt good after 1 mile as the blood flow to the legs brought the healing power of the recovery run.

Tomorrow, I meet up with Marc. It will be good to run with him again!

Training so far this week: 103.1 miles.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

So Much Better Than Tuesday

Today I repeated Tuesday's workout on the river trail in Calais. Basically, the workout calls for 1 hour "high aerobic" or in Lydiard terms, 1/2 effort. This translates into MP for me or around 80% maxHR.

Ever since I switched to doing the time guides instead of the mileage guides from Lydiard's books, my body hasn't been breaking down (as often). For example, Lydiard's 1/2 effort runs call for 10-12 miles or about an hour. Well, for me, 10 miles will take me a little longer than an hour at 1/2 effort. I found that trying to follow the mileage guidelines too closely resulted in over exhaustion. Now, by running by the time guidelines (and they remain *guidelines* of course), I found that I am starting to succeed at keeping my pace at good aerobic efforts. As Lydiard Mike mentioned, I had a real struggle last December when the mileage got too high. The pace per mile was so bad I was barely moving and each successive run took even longer! What misery, I hate to think back on it.

So today I ran for an hour at high aerobic pace without the benefit of a stopwatch as I had left it home. I did have the HR monitor but that only records the time when I finish. And since it was chilly today (32F w/north wind/spitting snow) the monitor was covered by my mitten so I didn't bother checking it. I ran by feel which is something I wanted to graduate to at some point anyway. The result: 9 miles in 1:00:30 - average 82% maxHR. Slightly faster than MP I think, but a good solid "high aerobic" run. Add 1.8 miles at recovery pace for the warmup/cooldown and I got in 10.8 during my "lunch hour".

This morning I got in 3 miles with 1 mile total striding telephone pole to telephone pole. I shuffled the first mile then did the T-pole strides over the next 1/2 mile, recovered, again 1/2 mile, and finished with another recovery. 26:19. These shake out runs in the morning do wonders for me. Loosen up the legs and get me set for the core workout later on.

Unfortunately, tomorrow is Friday. This means an early wake up to do 2 hours of low aerobic running. 2 hours is a little long to get away with during my "lunch hour" so I am forced to watch the sun rise. Bonking is an issue on these runs because there's the war between sleeping to the last minute or getting up for toast and tea prior to the workout. Sleep usually wins causing bonks after 90 minutes. But if I get up too early, I pay later. In Lydiard's schedule, this run would the 18 miler. However, my low aerobic pace nets me just under 15 miles for these buggers. I usually grant myself a low, really low, aerobic pace - especially in the beginning! But if I feel well enough, I'll increase the pace as the workout wears on hoping the average will come up over 70% by the end (and perhaps snag an extra mile).

This also means my shake out run will be during lunch. I'll probably shuffle down the street tomorrow or go out to the Moosehorn for 30 minutes. The river trail is pretty mucky just now (it's a walking path along the St. Croix River - 1.5 miles long). It's nice in the summer as the surface is smooth and easy on the feet. No hills so you can get the aerobic workout in without stressing the muscles too much. But now with the rain and thaw, some places are just so muddy I lose a little time hot footing it around puddles and mudholes.

I do three "laps" (or out & back's) on this trail to get my 9 miles on high aerobic days. Not too many people out walking just now but in the summer you end up whizzing by lots of folks. The only soul out there these days is the Border Patrol agent walking the beat (the St. Croix is the international border). I whiz by him and we always exchange a small bit of conversation each time I go by - which is about 3 times. By the end of a week we'll have finished one topic and begin on another for the next week. In order to get more conversation in, we'll have to begin shouting to one another once in view. But until then we must be satisfied with the tiny snippets of information we pass along.

In addition to my personal Border Patrol agent guarding my safety during my run, the State Police also keep an out for me. The Troop's satellite office is along this path. Just the other day, a detective, who happens to be one of my clients, picked up the phone to call me when I buzzed his window trying to hold down a 7:00 pace in the rain. Later on he told me he said to another trooper, "Well, looks like I won't be getting a hold of him just now."

Training so far this week: 83.3 miles.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Sunday Monday Tuesday... Wednesday

How time flies! I started this post on Sunday but got delayed and before I knew it, eight workouts have elapsed. So here I will start with Sunday and move forward:


"I don't mix workouts." So I said as I excused myself from Jon and Steph's quest for another 3 miles to make it 20. My legs were burning from the long run as Mike made us do 13 of the 18 miles at marathon pace ~ 7:30's. We're all a slave to his plan and he turned our normal 20 mile trot into a pretty brisk long run. The good news is - we were done sooner! The bad news - at the finish of our 17 mile loop plus .8 "cooldown", I knew running another 3 would only invite the possibility of injury. Even though the last 3 would be run at recovery pace, I played it safe and decided that the additional miles after running the last 13 at "high aerobic" wouldn't serve any meaningful purpose for me.

Even with the tired legs and soreness the run brought, it was refreshing to run a good pace for a long tme. We all agreed that we would not be running as briskly if it wasn't for the group. A lonesome Sunday run would involve paces conducive to daydreaming. Today, we might have chatted a lot but attention was paid to keep the pace in line. 17.8 miles in 2:21:28 (7:57 pace).

Sunday night

Did a 6.4 mile recovery run in Eastport to clear the legs. 1:02:12 (9:43)

Monday AM

4 mile recovery run in Eastport. 40:18 (10:04)

Monday PM

9.1 miles low aerobic. Had to run after work and was pressed for time. Ran on the river trail in Calais. Trail a little wet and muddy but not bad. 1:09:21 (7:37)

Tuesday AM

6.4 mile recovery run with 1/2 mile striding near the end. 1:00:23 (9:26)

Tuesday Noon

10.8 mile high aerobic run. 9 miles at MP heart rate. Tough run. Rained all morning but let up for 2/3 of the run. Then the skies opened and drenched me to the bone. Trail was very wet, muddy and full of puddles. Felt very labored by this run. Not very enjoyable. 9 miles in 1:03:11 (7:01 pace). 1.8 miles warmup/cooldown 18:21 (10:12)

Wednesday AM

3 mile recovery run in 26:48 (8:56). Beautiful morning, crisp air, bright sunshine. Top of right foot hurting a little. By the end of the 3 miles I felt fine.

Wednesday Noon

10 mile low aerobic run with another 2 mile warmup/cooldown. total = 12. Felt so much better than yesterday. Ran out the highway instead of the trail to get some long gradual hills and to keep my feet dry. Tail wind outbound, cold headwind inbound. Lost 1:24 coming back plus a few ticks on the HR monitor. However, I felt smooth and relaxed and was pleased to see the heart rate nice and low for the most part. 10 miles 1:12:43 (7:16 pace). 2 miles warmup/cooldown 17:52 (8:56).

Training so far this week: 69.5 miles.

The bad news... after this afternoon's workout, I had a piece of birthday cake at the office for one of the coworkers. Now I feel very ill.

The good news... this Saturday I will have the chance of running with my good friend Marc! He'll be in Bangor and I have to be there as well. We'll get together for a nice run around his old haunts.

And finally, have you ever wondered about those odd group photos that Mike posts to his blog? Here's a little video from one of those Sundays...

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Signs of Spring

There are many signs of spring. The buds on a maple tree, red-breasted robin, blades of green amidst the straw, and of course the early morning light. However, the first sign of spring that I lend any credence to was spotted this evening just as I finished my 3 mile shake out run in 28:17. It's got four legs, is fairly black, and has a white stripe from its head to its tail. It plodded out into the road as I approached the house. It literally looked like it just woke up from a long winter's rest. Its hair was all a mess, it moved with an exhausted amble, and didn't appear to be happy to be up and about this early. I swear I saw it yawn.

A sure sign of spring is the frowsy-headed skunk.

My 3 mile shuffle got the kinks out again except for a slight soreness in the right inner thigh. Looks like Ibuprofin will be called upon for that. The main workout this morning was the LT workout scheduled for Saturdays. Here was my plan I cooked up for purposes of training at threshold pace:

1.5 mile warmup
.75 mile threshold
.75 mile recovery
1.5 mile threshold
.75 recovery
2.25 mile threshold
.75 mile recovery
3 mile threshold
1.5 mile recovery.

In the end I was able to do the workout through the 2.25 mile threshold run. My left lower calf muscle started getting tight on the hard airport surface and I dared not put it through any more. So I ended with a 1.5 mile recovery run after the 2.25 mile threshold run for a total of 9 miles. 4.5 miles at threshold pace (90% maxHR) and 4.5 miles at recovery pace. The good news was I was capable aerobically to finish another 3 mile threshold but lucky for me, I found a good excuse not to. In case my chosen mileages seem odd to you, the airstrip is .75 mile long - so I'm basically doing laps.

Everybody and their dog were out today. No plane could have landed for fear of squashing a canine and its handler. Courtesy was the word of the day as I saw more than one set of dog owners leash their dog when they saw me running by or approaching. That was much appreciated.

The wind! Lucky I had the HR monitor or I would have been hard pressed to figure out threshold pace on 1/2 of the run. A steady 20 mph headwind from the west really turned down the pace on the inbound legs, but I kept the heart rate right at 90% and figured the heart didn't know the difference. Perhaps in terms of leg turnover I lost a little bit but nothing to worry over. You'd think I could make up the difference going out with the wind at my back, but I suspect that is not the case.

The hardest thing about LT workouts is getting the pace up to where it belongs. Once I am there it is generally easy to keep the pace there - although it does take concentration, so I can't let my mind wander. I look down at the monitor and can't believe I'm not there yet at this pace! I wonder how much faster I can go considering this is not an interval. But sure enough, once I get into the groove I can stay with it. Considering this is the pace that I am supposed to be able to maintain for an hour, it should come as no surprise that I can handle it for 15 minutes. LT workouts are hard, but they sure make you feel good when you're done.

This week's training: 94.1 miles. The breakdown:

Recovery: 28.1 (30%)
Aerobic: 42.3 (45%)
Long: 19.2 (20%)
Tempo: 4.5 (5%)

Looking forward to tomorrow's 20 with the group. Word has it Mike will have us running MP for most of it.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Train Track Training

In my quest to winkle out the terminus of an inviting gravel road deep within the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge, I found myself faced with the prospect of running on the rails. Luckily, these tracks are not used and have been cut of brush some time ago; so I was able to amble down them safely but not without some discomfort. Time was my issue today and it left me without satisfactory alternatives. In order to return in due time, I was forced to freight my way back to the car along the old rail bed (complete with rails and ties). By the time I finished, I was blowing like an old diesel carrying its sad load home.

While today's Moosehorn run didn't have quite the same level of uplifting joy produced on Tuesday, I was still satisfied with my environs as I paced pleasantly along new roads taking in the wonderful scenery. I parked in a slightly different spot this time and immediately headed down the Barn Meadow Road to the intersection that I turned around at last time. The plan was to continue down the road to the end (known to be Route 1), come back and try the second road (destination unknown) if there was time.

Well time there was and there was not. By my calculations I had about 6 minutes to spare - which gave me 3 down the road and 3 back. But as curiosity would have it, I spent all six minutes following the secret way with the hope I'd come upon a road/trail/path that apparently (by its direction) led back to the the car. Well I did (in a way). I came upon the railroad tracks that run along the Charlotte Road in places - but here they were nestled out of view in the woods. Out of time for a return trip back the way I came, and knowing trains hardly ever take a round-about way of traveling, I turned west towards my place of beginning and began my pedestrian imitation of the Acela Express.

Tough going from the start. Running on the ties is like an obstacle course and running just to the side of the rails leaves one foot always sliding down the steep bed threatening to take the rest of the body with it. I was pleased I was able to keep the pace up, but the concentration was tiring. When the road and tracks became adjacent, I jumped the tracks and opted for the road. By then I was toast, but only 8 minutes from the car.

Total time: 1:00:23 estimate 7.6 miles.

Traveling backward in time, I have two other workouts completed since my last post. This morning's shake out run was fine. These easy 30 minute runs do the trick. I roll out of bed and onto the road. But with such a short outing, I am not in any danger of running out of fuel which generally is my problem with "roll out runs". 3 miles: 27:18.

Yesterday's main workout was 90 minutes "low aerobic". This workout, in addition to the pleasant morning run, was rather hard. While my heart rate averaged 151, it felt harder and I knew that today's high aerobic workout would be downgraded in intensity. Nevertheless, a fine run except for a foolish notion to wear shorts. The temperatures were near 40 or so but the north wind did a number on me for 1/2 of the run and made it uncomfortable. It convinced me to wait awhile before trying that again. 12.3 miles: 1:30:08.

Training so far this week: 65 miles.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Delightful Downeast Running

While there are no fields quite covered with wildflowers yet, the unfrozen ground, bright sunshine, and flowing brooks and streams does the heart good. Since Sunday I have had some very pleasant workouts that have lifted my mood and reminded me why I like to run so much. While I am the fan of the occasional blizzard run, I can't motivate myself to successfully run through the drab ice box of a Downeast February. That is why this recent bloom of mercury with its melts and muds soothes my running soul.

Sunday afternoon I went out for a 3 mile shake out run. Not having run in a week and then doing a 19 mile group run really had my legs sore. So out I went to clear some of that lactate acid. Monday morning proved recovery was still necessary as one lap was all that was in me and I finished the day with 5.2 miles. But the weather continued to warm and Tuesday brought 48 degrees to Calais and I knew I was going to have a good run at lunch.

Here's an excerpt of a morning email I sent to Marc before my noontime run:

"The weather is so nice, do you know what I am going to do? I am going to run at the Moosehorn at lunch. Yes, a frolic up and down the gravel roads, through meadow and woods, streams and marsh, enjoying the cool breeze as the crunch beneath my feet sound out the letters S-P-R-I-N-G."

Later I went out to the Moosehorn and it was as good as I thought it was going to be as I wrote again to Marc:

"Drat! All this moose poop tracked into the bank! Just kidding. Didn't see any moose or any of their leavings. But what a rush of a run! Beautiful weather (it must be near 40F with clear blue skies) and the roads and trails were ready to be run on. A little soft here and there but nothing to cause concern. My pants were spackled with mud dots just as they should be after a brisk run of 1:06:11. I am guessing 8 miles or so. I did the normal 3.8 mile loop opposite the HQ side. The hills on that thing are pretty steep! Ran briskly but in the low aerobic zone in general. When I crossed the road on the HQ side, my pace increased and I veered off course immediately for some fun unstructured running! I turned at the first right which took me up to the HQ building but in a curved manner, then through the main gate and turned right again onto Barn Meadow road (we usually go straight and do our loop if you remember). What a nice road! I strode down that road for about 10 minutes before I had to turn around. And "down" is the operative word. Down, down, down the road twisted and turned through woods, meadows, and flowages. Even after 10 minutes of steady running I still hadn't come to the end. I came to an intersection where both roads looked promising . I guess straight went to Route 1 and right to the Charlotte Road but I won't know for sure until next time. I turned around and started climbing! I didn't realize what a hill the Moosehorn is on. Then on the way back, I noticed the Raven Trail which I had also noticed a sign for at the HQ building. Therefore, I went trail running and took the trail back to the HQ area. That was a blast too! I am definitely going to do these new roads again. A guy could get a 3 hour long run in at the Moosehorn easily!"

Yesterday's run truly lifted my spirits and I was glad to be back out to the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is rather large and has wonderful gravel roads and trails to run on. Closed to traffic, it is the perfect running park. My first email to Marc was for the purpose of teasing him. He loves the Moosehorn as much as I do and loves it when I twist the knife a little.

So, this morning I went out for an hour recovery run in Eastport out to Shackford Head State Park. A little park in Eastport, it has a main trail that goes to the top of the Head with incredible views of Cobscook Bay. So I jogged out there this morning (takes about 20 minutes from the house running slowly) and took a 2 minute "stretch break" while I gazed out onto the bay as I stretched the tight legs. Then I ambled back down the trail but took a side trail to the beach at Broad Cove. There I did 6 x strides on the beach. Not easy and not hard, the beach has quite the tilt to it as it plunges into the deep bay and the surface is all loose shale. But the purpose was some fun unstructured striding to bring the heart rate up ever so briefly with a full recovery as I jogged back to the beginning. My eyes watered from the sun's reflection as light dispersed in the silent cove from the still water's surface. Salt air, cool air, silent air. A pleasant morning run!

Total so far this week: 40 something. Planning an afternoon run later on.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Let's See If We Can Try This Again...

It has been said the most important workout in marathon training is the weekly 'long' run. This is a good thing as it's the only run I seem to be doing. I can't even credit myself with running this all important workout for reasons related to training - I run it for the joy of running with the group. All is not that bad however. It was a mere let-up, dry-spell, hiatus, holiday, low motivation filled week of cold mornings shivering under the covers when I should be out running. I joined the crew this morning and the week's tally was offered up. 70-some miles for Mike. Increasing mileage for Steph just back from injury. Even Ozzie showed up (finally!!) and brought his consistent 60. Me? I offered 21 miles for the week, one session. Mike went home last Sunday after our brutal outing and licked his wounds then got back out to rage against the (wind) machine. I cowered liked a kicked dog refusing to move more than 2 feet away from the life-giving woodstove as the cold winds taunted me outside the frosted windows for the rest of the week.

But no longer! Spring has stuck its nose under the flap of winter's tent and breathed an additional 20 precious degrees into the atmosphere and that has made all the difference! Gone my melancholy ways! Goodbye to shivering fear of frostbite! Hello sunshine! Welcome melting snow! I anticipate the purr of the street sweepers grinding up the road grit at 5am outside the house. I foresee the telltale tracks of mud, the liquid precipitation! Back to training!

I still have six weeks of training left before I taper for the Holyoke Marathon. And what will they be like? - "My prediction? Pain." - Clubber Lang (Rocky III)

And why? Because I have the same problem Lydiard Mike has when he says "Ah, yes, that splendid feeling of running out of fuel before running out of road." I need to solve the issue of the bonk in the final miles. Get beyond mile 22 in good form. Part of the problem (since resolved) is racing strategy. However, there is so much lost from the severe discrepancy of pace pre-20 and pace post-20. Fuel efficiency is a factor and must be tended to. I hope over the next six weeks to put some of this to bed through some good mileage training.

Training this week (so far):

19.2 miles with group 2:49:14