Thursday, February 28, 2008

Happy Treadmill

I am happy to report that my treadmill is happy. I ran on it for the first time in almost two weeks tonight and it is running better than I remember it doing for awhile. I had to run chore at work today (got a parking ticket for my troubles) so I missed my outside run so I ran indoors tonight. I am quite happy that Kelly and I don't mind resorting to the treadmill. Without it I think that we would not get much running done during the winter.

Run stats: Treadmill, 6.0 miles, 45:45, 7:38 pace, 2% incline

Other exciting news. This weekend is the Trail Monster Running Fat Ass 50K at Bradbury Mountain State Park. There is a group planning on running just over 31 miles on snowmobile trails and other assorted packed (hopefully) trails. The course consists of 3, 10.5 mile loops. I am probably going to jump in for 2 of those as my training is not as ahead as some of these other guys who have earlier races than I do. My prime motivator at this point is to be ready for Memorial Day weekend's 50 miler at Pineland Farms and pacing Jamie 40 miles at Western States 100. I am also happy to report that I started my flight search today for transportation options out to California for said pacing duty. More on that as plans arise!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Some good runs

The last couple days runs have been good. Both days I was able to get out at lunch and enjoy the nice temps and good company of my fellow L.L.Bean runners. Yesterday's run was on the relaxed side as none of us felt particularly strong. But just getting out to run is always a good thing and yesterday was no exception.

Stats: South Freeport, 47:37, 6.27 miles, 7:35/mile, Avg HR 142

Today's run was a different story. While the temps were mild at around 35 degrees, there was some mixed precipitation (primarily light rain) to deal with but all in all it was a perfect day for a tempo run. It was me and Ethan the first few miles and then he peeled off to get in his tempo workout which is done at a pace much quicker than mine. Before he turned up the speed he decided to stop and stretch a little bit and I kept moving. At this time I decided to start my tempo workout which started at around a 6:50 pace. Not speedy but really not slow either. Well, it wasn't fast enough hold off a stretching Ethan for long. I probably got 300-400 meters on him before he started his workout and it took him no time to pass me by as if I was a spectator in a race. Flying. Anyhow my run went on and I was able to clock some really good negative splits while keeping my average HR in check and my max really low considering the pace I was running. Also, the backside of this course presents a good mile+ long uphill (see elevation chart below), which presents quite a challenge to keep a HR low while increasing pace. So today was a good day of running.

Stats: Upper Mast Landing, Freeport, 40:05, 5.69 miles, 7:02 avg. pace, Elevation gain/loss +378/-378, Avg. HR 150, Max HR 179
Splits: 1- 7:36, 2 - 7:06, 3 - 7:11, 4 - 6:54, 5 - 6:47, 6 - 6:37

Monday, February 25, 2008

Mistranslation and learning to ski

This weekend I did not run a mile. Last week I had a few rough nights of sleep and then Friday night I went to bed with the start of a sore throat. So I took Saturday off. The sore throat did not develop into much and I spent the afternoon with Kelly and the kids sledding at Pineland. What a hoot. My guess is that the million trips up the sledding hill schlepping Riley and her friend was equivalent to a 20 mile run.

Sunday morning I slept in (6:45!) and when Kelly and the kids headed out to the grocery store I made my way over to Pineland for some skate skiing. The temps was near the freezing mark which made for some warm skiing and interesting snow, the properties of which changed as I passed from shadow to sunlit trail. A little sticky and soft in the sun and nice and fast in the shade. No matter the snow properties. I had the best ski yet as my form is coming together a little at a time. I skied most of the trails over at Pineland and after a couple hours of skiing, my legs were shaking from exhaustion. Perfect. I am looking forward the snow we are supposed to get tomorrow night and later in the week. If it was up to me we would get snow through March and then April 1 (incidentally my birthday) the snow would all melt and I would have a dogwood (don't think they grow up here) blooming in my front yard. No such luck as April can be a pretty snowy month up here. Oh well, I will get more use out of my XC ski pass. Next year my winter plans will include the Rangeley Loppet, a 25 km XC race. Hopefully by that time my skating will be a little more honed in. If there is one thing I have learned up here is that you have to embrace each season as it is presented to you. That means loving the snow and skiing in the winter, grinning and bearing it in the short spring we have, and running and cycling everyday outside in the summer and fall.

Today I awoke with some soreness in my hips and legs from skiing. I knew I skied hard but had no idea I would be sore. Amazing that no matter how fit you are in one sport, that fitness just doesn't translate 100% to another sport. Different muscle groups and different demands. Anyhow, I was lucky enough to get out today at lunch for another beautiful Maine winter day. The temps were somewhere in the mid-30s and the run was a relaxing one. I ran with Ethan and Tom, both of whom had more physically demanding weekends than I did. It took me a little time to warm up to the run but once I did things moved along pretty well. I have included a Google map below to show how nice the running is around South Freeport as most of the run is near some body of water or another. Take note of the village and marina of South Freeport at the upper right corner of the picture and L.L.Bean Corporate HQ complex where I work marked "Start" on the right side near the middle.

Stats: 6.24 miles, 46:41, 7:29/mile, Ag HR 149, Max HR 174

Friday, February 22, 2008

Spirit, treadill, and tempo

Last night I was lucky enough to get out with some friends after work for beers, burgers and a movie on marathoning. Joining me were two of my running cronies, Ian and Jamie, and a few of my work/lunch run buddies, Joseph, Jim, and Mike. We first hit the Sea Dog Brewing Company in Topsham and then headed over to the theater for the encore presentation of Spirit of the Marathon. I won't make you endure a lengthy review because my buddy Jamie did a fantastic job of reviewing the movie for me. Check out his Maine Runner blog for a more complete retrospective. While I do agree with Jamie on most points (how couldn't I since he was a MSNBC producer before moving to Maine to teach our youth?), I have to grade the film better than a C+. I am going to go with a B+ because any movie on running automatically starts at a B. For a little known running flick, check out "Saint Ralph". See the trailer at Yahoo movies. Not sure why I was just thinking of this movie but it's a good B+, A- movie.

Upon returning home at 10:30 I noticed the treadmill belt had arrived. I really wanted to curl up in bed with my book but couldn't pass up the work that needed to be done for my beloved hamster wheel. I am happy to report the treadmill is once again restored to its former status as a torture device...and it only took me until 1 AM to get it running. Hopefully I won't have to do anything to it for another 5 years...but I'm not holding my breath.

I did not get out for a run yesterday but I did Wednesday and today. Wednesday's run mirrored Tuesday's run with the same cast of characters and a pace that was only a couple seconds slower per mile, albeit with a more consistent pace per mile. It was a little colder than Tuesday, but all in all, a great winter day for Maine running.

Run stats: South Freeport, 6.3 miles, 46:26, 7:21/mile, Avg HR 149, Max HR 176

Today I ran solo in a snow/sleet mix that stung both my face as I ran into it and my throat as I breathed it in. Good temperature in the mid-20s I am guessing and I held a pretty good pace throughout. For this early in the season I would classify this as a tempo run. Also, I was quite happy with my consistent pace and the negative splits I pulled off, despite the hilly course I took. Days like today remind me how much fun it is to train for speed distances (marathon) versus long distance (100-milers). Once my training for 100s steps up, these "fast" days will be a fleeting memory as I slog through my long, really slow runs.

Run stats: South Freeport, 5.19 miles, 36:44, 7:04/mile, Avg HR 154, Max HR 178
Splits: 1 - 7:27, 2 - 7:02, 3 - 7:01, 4 - 7:09 (lost a lens in my glasses and had to turn around to retrieve it), 5 - 6:49, Last .19 - 6:32

Not sure what is on tap for the weekend. I may take the AM off for fun family time. Nothing better than having a couple kids crawling on you in bed in the morning as a wake up call. Much better than Garrison Keillor on NPR...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

My poor treadmill

Saturday dawned early once more and I headed to the basement for some treadmill fun. The temps outside were a little much, although not as bas as I had anticipated. The run went well with no issues with the exception of the slipping belt on my treadmill. I love my treadmill on long runs. One second after the 99 mins. and 59 secs. mark the treadmill cuts off because there are not five digits for it to display. Having reached this point a number of times I now anticipate the "not as sudden as a power outage" shut down and step off the treadmill to restart the clock. It seems like simple programming for the manufacturer to have set the machine clock up to simply reset to zero at the 100 minutes mark without shutting down the machine. Or maybe it is the engineer's way to say "get off that stupid machine dummy". Anyway, I did not get off but rather ran another 20+ minutes.

Saturday's Run: Treadmill, 16 miles, 2 hours and 3 minutes, 7:41 pace, no HR but I did find my strap(!)

Saturday afternoon we headed off up North to spend the evening with Kelly's dad for skiing up his way Sunday. So no run on Sunday. Instead, we introduced Riley to downhill skiing and got to experience what parenting is all about...a child yelling "wahoo" as she experiences a new, exhilerating thing for the first time. It was awesome. The thing that really helped was a Lucky Bums Sports Harness. If you are going to teach a kid to ski or anything where they need help stabilizing this is the trick.

Monday there was no run. The slipping of the treadmill has progressed to a serious issue, so serious as to make the treadmill dangerous. I diagnosed the issue as a disentegrating motor drive belt (!), hence all the black powder over everything. So parts are on order (expedited). And to think I just heaped all this praise on this machine last week...however, the fact remains that this thing has chugged along for 5 years of pounding with not so much as a dab of treadmill lube!

Today was a lunch run. Good, quality run with Ethan and Jim. Ethan left us after about four miles and Jim and I had a great run, as we always do. The first couple miles averaged a 7:30 pace with the last few+ at 7:15.

Today's run: South Freeport, 5.7 miles, 41:31, 7:19 pace, Avg. HR 148 bpm (felt strong)

Thursday night I am planning on heading out with a few fellow marathoners+ for a viewing of the Spirit of the Marathon. Check out your local listings to catch this encore presentation.

And for fun...

Friday, February 15, 2008


Picture this: a person running full bore on a treadmill that loses power and "loses" its runner. We've all seen this either in a movie, on a commercial, or dreamt it when we see someone we don't like running on a treadmill. It is definitely funny unless, of course, you are the runner. Just after the 5.75 mile mark of Wednesday night's run, we lost power and the treadmill went from 8.5 mph to 0 mph as quickly as it could, and so did I. Not a nice way to end a run. Wednesday we spent the day at home with the kids because of a closed daycare center and nasty roads. Both Kelly and I worked from home and swapped off kid duties in between emails and conference calls. The roads were a wreck and the weather nasty, so I chose to use the treadmill.

Truthfully, I don't know what I would do up here if I was treadmill adverse. So many people I talk to treat running on treadmills as if it is a lower form of the activity. I must respectfully disagree because without the treadmill, my only option would be to not run. I have a demanding job that will not allow me to run whenever I want to and most times leave me with only a window of opportunity at night after the kids are put to bed.

Also, I seem to do just fine in races and training using the treadmill. Witness my pretty good performance at the Cape Elizabeth 10 Mile Mid Winter Classic a couple weeks ago. Over half my Ironman training a few years ago was spent on both the treadmill and bike trainer due to a nasty winter and I had a great race. Long live indoor training. I hope. I have recently noticed the treadmill belt slipping regularly so I think it is time we perform our first ever maintenance on our machine. We have owned our NordicTrack C 1800 for over five years now problem free so I think we have gotten a good return on our investment. I highly recommend this machine to anyone looking for a good, economical, smooth running treadmill. We routinely will put 3+ hours on the thing on a weekend day and 1.5-2 hours on a weeknight. I've done 2 1/2 hour runs on it and smelled only minimal burning of the belt. To get runs like this out of machine for over five years, experts would convince you that you need to spend ~ $5K to get a good machine. For the price we paid, less than $1K, the same experts would say the machine is only good for walking. Bullocks. Go cheap and run it into the ground...many years from now.

Wednesday run stats:
Treadmill, 5.75+ miles, 2% incline, ~ 43 minutes, 7:29 pace, No HR data

Yesterday I was lucky enough to experience the best of Maine winter days. Jim and I tagged along with Ethan on his recovery day and we had full sun and 26 degrees (17 with the wind). This was in stark contrast to yesterday's snow/sleet/rain combination! I am starting to feel the draw of spring, which is dangerous this early because March and even April in Maine can be cruel. The run itself was good but I felt a little flat. I write this off to a lackluster diet the last couple days. I got some fries in me today after the run so I should be all set tomorrow!

Wednesday run stats:
Noon run outside, 6.3 miles, 45:41 minutes, 7:18 pace, No HR data
Splits: 1 - 7:32, 2 - 7:18, 3 - 7:10, 4 - 7:24(?), 5 - 7:12, 6 - 6:55, End - Cool Down

On Tuesday I got outside at noon and ran with my whole group here at work, consisting of Jim, Ethan, and Tom. It was a great run with temperatures that were very conducive to a comfortable run. It felt really good getting outside and breathing some fresh air. The pace was pretty consistent throughout the entire run, even after Ethan peeled off to get in his tempo workout. And as always, the conversation was scintillating!

Tuesday run stats:
6.3 miles, 46:59, 7:27 pace, No HR data (still can't find my strap)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Krispy Kreme's sticky run

Today I was stuck inside at lunch, again, but it was just as well as the temperature barely got out of the teens today. With the wind chill, the temps were just beyond the single digits. Don't get me wrong, I am not afraid of cold weather running but having lunch indoors is just more comfortable. So not lunch run means a night time treadmill run. The run went well and I felt really good. The last couple miles were done at near 7:00 pace (largely aided by the battlefield scenes of the World War II movie I was watching).

Run: Treadmill, 52:30, Pace 7:30, No HR

From the fun files, my sister-in-law appreciates both my love of running and Krispy Kreme donuts so she sent me information on what is possibly the world's best run (besides the Pineland Farms Trail Challenge and the Bradbury Bruiser). The Krispy Kreme Challenge. This run consists of a two mile run from N.C. State University to the local Krispy Kreme where "race" participants must eat 1 dozen donuts and then run the two miles back, all in under one hour. Good fun. I wonder what the ultra distance of this race would be like. I am thinking I will propose something similar to Ian for the L.L.Bean race series. Maybe we have participants eat one whoopie for each mile of a race. So we do the 12 Mile Bradbury Bruiser and you eat a dozen whoopie pies. Perfect.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Perfect Triathlon: Run, Ski, Nap

Run: Treadmill, 92 mins., 8 miles, comfortable 7:45/mile
Ski: Skate, 1 hr, 15 mins.
Nap: 45 mins.
(the perfect triathlon!)

This morning was another treadmill day, albeit a little later than yesterday. I got in a very comfortable 8 miles at a gentle pace. My approach to early season training for ultramarathons is to double up the weekend runs and try to make them of the longer sort. That is not to say that I think 12 and 8 miles are long runs, but they are a nice progression to the 20 and 30 mile Saturday and Sundays I will be doing in a few months.

Having said that, I did prolong my work out a bit today by eating a quick breakfast (freshly baked bread in the form of french toast - thanks Kelly) and heading directly over to Pineland to meet the most excellent skier/ultramarathoner, James Demer, for some skate skiing. As I was rushing out the door I could not find my keys so I grabbed the spares and headed out. Upon arriving at Pineland I went to get my skis and poles out of my Thule roof box and realized that the key to the box was with my other key set. So, no skis. I also had no wallet nor money to rent skis so I went looking for James hoping he had an additional pair skis to lend me. Like myself, his box is full of gear (I always have a couple pair of classic skis, my skate skis, and Riley's little skis). So we set out skiing, me in his well-waxed racing skates, for some snowy skiing. The conditions were a little slow due to all the "wet" snow we had recently and the higher temps (near mid-30s), but this gave us quite a workout and a great opportunity for me to really work on my technique. We skied about 1 hr. 15 mins. before I had to head home to take over kid watching duty for Kelly. She was going to spend her afternoon at Maine's Democratic Caucus (won by Obama!). The rest of the afternoon went well with Quinn and Riley taking long naps (I also got one in, which is very rare but welcome, as I fell asleep reading to Riley. Gotta love afternoon naps!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Treadmill and Pulks

Today was a great day. I awoke early and hit the treadmill and got in 12 miles. My goal was to get my run in and join my family for breakfast, but I was a little too slow for their hungry bellies. The run was good but I was slow to get going. I think I was still asleep the first couple miles as my brain tried to catch up with my body. I have experienced this feeling a number of times on early morning runs - fuzzy vision and a disbelief of what you are asking of your body. But soon enough the blood sugar rises and you know the only way to finish is to accept what you are doing and look for the good. All in all I felt strong and got in a good run.

Run stats: Treadmill, 12 Miles @ 7:45 per mile

Around mid-morning we all headed out for some snow shoveling and post-storm clean-up. Kelly pulled the kids around the yard in the toboggan while I did the chores. Around 10 AM Boo Boo showed up for her day with Riley. Boo Boo had got Riley and herself tickets to Disney's Princesses on Ice. So after Riley left, Quinn headed off to Pineland with Mom and Dad for some Nordic Skiing. After all the snow we just got, it would have been a shame to not take advantage of it. We rented a pulk (sled) to pull Quinn around the trails. Things went as planned as he fell asleep 10 minutes into the adventure and slept almost the entire two hours we were out there. Pulling a pulk is definitely adds another level of fitness to cross country skiing, so to all my fitness buff childless friends, feel free to borrow my kids. Just let me know.

Ski stats: 2 hours \ Oak Hill Loop and Campus Loop \ Handicapped by ~ 35 pounds of child and pulk \ best time skiing all year

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Recovery and treadmill

Recovery from Sunday's race

Treadmill / 6 miles / 46 minutes / 7:40 pace / no HR data

Treadmill / 5.5 miles / 42 minutes / 7:38 pace / no HR data

Monday I awoke to some tight hip flexors from Sunday's race. I was quite happy with my performance and bore the soreness with some pride knowing I gave the roads of Cape Elizabeth all I had. I took the day off for some recovery. Funny enough my left knee, the one that has been bugging me for a couple weeks felt the best it has in weeks, and it is still feeling great.

Yesterday and today I hit the treadmill in the evening. Both runs were at a nice pace and all felt well. There is still some tightness in the groin area and my right knee (yep, the other knee) seized up about four miles into the run and was quite painful for a half mile but it worked it's way out as quickly as it came. So all is well again.

I thought I would include a Google Earth map (what a cool program) from Sunday's race. Thanks for the help Jamie. I was having an issue running the program and saving images but realized I needed to update my graphics driver (lost when I blasted my laptop a couple months ago). Now I am ready to go. I also wanted to throw out a big thanks to James Demer for volunteering at Sunday's race. Thanks for the flag work, James!

One more thing. I recently finished a work of fiction on the sport of biathlon, which unfortunately is woefully unappreciated in this country. It is called "A Medal of Honor" and can be found at L.L.Bean. I'm not plugging my company, this is truly about the only place you can find this book. This is no indication of how good this book is, only how ignorant this country is of the sport of Nordic Skiing and Biathlon. Check it out. Good stuff. One interesting thing about the author, John Morton, is that he is a XC ski trail designer and is the designer behind the trails at Pineland.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

10 Miles
1:17:00, Pace: 7:42

Cape Elizabeth 10 Mile Mid Winter Classic
1:04:55 , 6:30 pace
Elevation Gain/loss +547/-600 (MotionBased stated +982/-1022 but that seems a little much)
Avg. HR 179 bpm
Max HR 191

Friday night did not go down as I expected. I ended up working late, the weather turned foul, and I slept in my own bed. I had planned on joining Jamie in Cape Code for the Cape Cod Fat Ass 50K. Things didn't work out for me but Jamie soldiered on without me and did fantastic. Hats off to him. I ended up hitting the treadmill mid-day on a beautiful day. I was responsible for watching Riley so my choice was treadmill or no run. Treadmill won. I ended up getting in 10 miles at a moderate pace of 7:42.

This morning I made the decision to run the Cape Elizabeth 10 Mile Mid Winter Classic. The weather was fantastic with temps in the mid-30s and negligible winds, unlike last year's brutal conditions. My race went well despite the dual untied laces, which did not slow me down. My splits were positive, but very close. My fastest mile was the first mile at 6:26, which shows my inexperience given all my time off from road racing. Mile 6 was my slowest mile at 6:39. The ups and downs on this course are unrelenting, as is evident in the elevation profile to the right. The hills start in miles 2-3 and miles 8-9.5 are all uphill. Luckily we were spared the traditional headwind during the last couple miles which probably helped set PRs and course records. I felt good during the run despite the fact that none of my training has included speed workouts. My average heart rate was 179 bpm, but often hit the low to mid 180s and even 191 on the last hill, just 2 beats shy of my max. Today's time was good enough for my best time in three tries at this course. My first attempt was in 2005 with a time of 1:07:00 and last year was second in 1:08:22. So I ran almost three minutes faster this year than last. And given this course is the only 10 mile course I have ever run, this one was a PR. Hats off to Erik Boucher and the Maine Track Club for great post-race eats. But the pizza there was not enough to keep us from stopping at the new and improved Portland Pie Company (new as of Thanksgiving). Great new location and great pizza.

Oh and I would be remiss if I didn't thank the great water boy at mile 5 for the quality H2O. Thanks Jamie!