Monday, March 31, 2008

The Eastern States 20 Mile and Mount Washington

The last half of last week went well from a running perspective. My weekly runs were status quo while I ended the week with a race, the Eastern States 20 Mile. Wednesday's and Thursday's run were the standard Freeport lunch run. Wednesday we ran the 6.1 mile loop that mimics the L.L.Bean 4th of July 10K at a negative split pace. The pace was a 7:18 with an average HR of 157 bpm, extremely high for this pace and distance. This is a clear indication of a lack of sleep, thanks to a teething toddler and older sister who can not sleep anywhere but in mommy and daddy's room. Thursday was a bit slower as Jim and I agreed to take it easy. The pace was a pedestrian 7:41 with an average HR of 145, still a bit high but better.

The weekend was all about the Eastern States run. Saturday was a prep day with 8 miles run on the basement. The roads were a little sloppy after a snowfall (yeah, it is spring in Maine) Friday night and the trails around me are in little condition to be run on, so I hit the treadmill. The pace was easy with the intent to just wear the legs down a bit. I seem to run better on race day if I run a decent distance at a moderate pace. This keeps my legs fresh and ready, while also increasing the training value of the next day's race when training for an even longer run. On to Sunday...

Sunday was beautiful and the Eastern States course was even more spectacular (at least the first 15 miles). Brian, my buddy and pacer in last year's Vermont 100 and also in the upcoming edition of the race, carpooled down with us. The intent was for us to run together but Brian wisely bailed out before the race due to foot pains (possible stress fracture - not good to run on). So I got my extremely unattractive purple/burgundy tech shirt which will never see the light of day except maybe on one of Kelly's grandmother's beautiful quilts, and headed to the start with Kelly, the kids, and Brian. There I joined Jamie and his friend Mindy, a very talented runner (Mindy - where does 5Squirrels come from???), for the next 20 miles. We started with a conservative pace and through the run threw in some good tempo increases, but for the most part kept it on the easy side.

As I said above, the course was beautiful. The houses along the New Hampshire coast were spectacular. I felt as though I was running in Newport, Rhode Island in Rockefeller's neighborhood. These houses were grossly too big, but fun to look at all the same. Jamie and I made sport of the houses and their imagined owners by wondering if we could take them in fisticuffs (helped pass the time). While the course was great, it seemed like the run took forever. I think this was due to my hunger, which I should have expected given the late start (11 AM) and the fact that the last food I had was at 8:30 AM. By mile 7, I started getting antsy for the finish. This isn't a good thing for a race that was over 7 miles. To truly enjoy a race, you can't worry about where the finish is. Once your mind goes there, it's over. But you have to keep running, which we did. The course and the run turned a little south once we hit the mile 15 marker when we left the beautiful part of the New Hampshire coast for the Jersey shoreline (Jamie's statement). The last five miles of the course seemed like we were running through Old Orchard Beach on steroids. To add insult to injury, my nose started to bleed at this point and did not let up until crossing the finish line. It isn't unusual for me to get a nose bleed during winter runs due to the cold, dry air, but this one was persistent and added to my elevated heart rate. It would have been quite easy to track me down on the course by following my blood trail!

While the course was beautiful and the company top notch (thanks Jamie and Mindy), I do have some gripes. While not terribly outspoken about race issues, there are a few grievances I feel I must air here. First, the shirt. Why burgundy? Second, there was no food at the finish. I paid $35 bucks and got a bottle of "Smart Water" at the finish. I have run 5Ks that featured a buffet table that would give a Vegas buffet a run for its money. 20 miles and nothing. The least the race organizers could have done was notify participants that no food would be handed out at the finish and that they should fend for themselves. I would have been okay with that. Finally, my chip did not work and my finish was not recorded. Crazy colored shirt, nose bleed, no food, and no record of running. 'Nuf said.

Race stats: Eastern States 20 Mile / 20.3 Miles (includes a detour for a potty break)/ 8:17 avg pace / 145 avg HR / Eastern States results

On the bright side, I got into the Mount Washington Road Race today, courtesy of Erik Boucher and the Maine Track Club. I was fortunate to get one of the ten club slots for members. I don't know why I should be this psyched to run 5,000 feet up a "hill" in 7.6 miles, but I am. This will be my first time up the auto road, and I have to say I think this is a much better way to get up than via auto.

And finally, regarding regarding registration for the L.L.Bean 4th of July 10K, I heard today that we are about 20% of the way to handing out all the free shoes after having only opened registration about a week ago. If you are interested in running and getting some great schwag, sign up now.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Beautiful day for a run and the L.L.Bean 4th of July 10K

After last week's running with no days off, I took the liberty of rest yesterday and felt great today for it. I joined Ethan for the first part of his interval run. We had a pretty deep, existential chat as we made our way over to South Freeport. The weather was great, with a slight chill in air, which contributed to the nice, up-tempo run I found myself doing on the black, sandy Freeport roads. The run turned out to be a nearly perfect negative split run and I felt strong the entire time.

Run Stats: South Freeport / 44:56 / 6.3 miles / Avg HR 156 bpm \ Max HR 183 bpm
Splits: 1 - 7:44, 2 - 7:19, 3 - 7:14, 4 - 6:59, 5 - 6:49, 6 - 6:51, Last 0.3 - 6:42

Also, consider signing up now for the L.L.Bean 4th of July 10K. Besides supporting a great cause in the Casco Bay YMCA kid's scholarship program, you get a great looking technical t-shirt and a pair of New Balance Running Shoes (the 1062, which is a top of the line, neutral shoe which retails at $110). The price of the race: a measly $17. This is truly one of the best deals going and it's a great race. Please note that only the first 500 registrants who sign up by May 15th will get shoes. Sign up through me or on

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Wind, wind, more wind...and another failed lottery.

I entered this year's Mount Washington Road Race lottery thinking I deserved to get in. To this point, I had already failed twice to get in via lottery or other means in my first two 100 mile race choices this year. Well, once again I was disappointed with the results. As far as the official lottery goes, I am a no go. There is still one back channel I am working so wish me luck and stay tuned.

My runs the past few days have been good but challenging due to the weather, specifically the wind. Friday's noon run was chilly and windy. Temps were just below 30 degrees, but coupled with a wind of just shy of 30 mph the "feels like" temp was nearer 14 degrees. Chilly. Also, the last mile and a half was running into this brisk wind so the average pace of 7:24 was hard earned. The splits started around 7:30 and progressed to 7:16 by mile 4 and then settled around 7:24 for the last couple miles.

Friday: South Freeport / 45:17 / 7:24 pace / Avg HR 154 bpm / Max HR 181 bpm

Saturday was my 6th straight run this week and was my long one at 17 miles. I did a fairly typical route from my house down Tuttle Road to Route 88 for a run along the water and then back home through Yarmouth. I cut just over a mile off my run back to shelter myself from the 16 mph headwind but taking a more sheltered but hilly road which culminated in having me scale Bruce Hill in my minimalist Nike Frees (please see the elevation spike in the chart to right). The road ends at Bruce Hill and turns into an impassable, and now snow covered jeep trail, which is the intersecting points for many trails, only one of which I have ever explored. I plan on doing more exploring back there this spring and summer. Anyhow, this climb was a challenge given how tired my legs were and the fact that I could find no purchase in the snow. All in all, this run was good but illustrated the point that I have a ways to go to build my long run endurance up. But I've got plenty of time. Oh yeah, I loaded on my iPod and gave a listen to Blaine Moore's interview with Emily LeVan. Fun listen. Go donate!

Saturday's Run: Route 88 Run / 2:11:29 / 17 miles / 7:44 pace (the first 10 miles was near 7:20 with the last 7 much slower due to the uphills and wind) / Avg HR 154 bpm / Max HR 179 bpm

And Happy Easter! This evening Kelly and I went for a nice little run of 4 miles (my 7th of the week). And this took me 38:28, slower than usual. But I was also running behind my two kids in the jogger, pushing them up the backside of the Bruce Hill from Saturday's run (see end of elevation chart above). So a good run; one that I plan on working into my 100 mile and hopefully Mt. Washington race prep!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Ready to roll...and Emily LeVan interview

I am back at it, almost 100%, but running again. Monday and Tuesday I took it easy on the treadmill and today I hit the roads to face the sleet storm we were/are getting slammed by.

Monday's treadmill run was slow, really to test my upper respiratory system. I came through it with minimal hacking and felt pretty good.

Monday stats: Treadmill / 5 miles / 43:50 / 8:46 pace

Tuesday's run was a little quicker but still a little on the easy side. I did increase the distance and felt almost normal.

Tuesday stats: Treadmill / 6 miles / 46:30 / 7:45 pace

Today I took a solo run around Freeport. I headed up Route 1 North past the L.L.Bean Retail store and hung a right on Upper Mast Landing Road to Lower Mast Landing Road and back to my office. With the exception of the almost two miles on Route 1, this run is beautiful with water views for a good portion of it. The pace today was much quicker, back to my normal up tempo pace, with some sub 7s mixed in with some low 7s. The pace wasn't intentional but more fueled by a desire to get out of the sleet and snow that was wreaking havoc on my exposed face. And tomorrow is the first day of spring...

Today's Stats: Upper Mast Landing / 5.7 miles / 40:31 / 7:06 pace / 151 Avg. HR / 173 Max HR (This HR average is much better than my last tempo run right before I got sick - I should have known something was up with the high reading last week.)
Splits: 1 - 7:15, 2 - 7:11, 3 - 6:51, 4 - 7:09, 5 - 7:14, 6 - 6:51

Last week my buddy Blaine, of interviewed elite marathoner Emily LeVan, whose fundraising I wrote briefly about last week. Check out the interview if you can. You can also download it as an mp3 for iPod listening, making it the perfect companion for a long run! The interview can be found at the link above or this one...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Still alive...and ready for Spring!

It's been quite a few days since my last post. Since then I have done about everything but run. Wednesday afternoon I developed a nasty sore throat which by Friday had developed into my first full blown cold in over a year (which is saying something considering I have two youngsters in daycare). So, I wasn't able to coax myself to run this weekend. But all was not lost.

Thursday I took advantage of one of L.L.Bean's best and unique benefits, the Outdoor Experience day. Each L.L.Bean employee is given so many days to practice what the brand represents. That is, we get days off to do what we sell: camp, hike, ski, hunt, fish, etc. These days are above and beyond the vacation days we get. So on Thursday I organized a trip to Pineland for some snowshoeing and cross country skiing. Seven of my fellow co-workers participated with half skiing and the other half snowshoeing. Despite the warmer weather and ran last weekend, the trails were perfect and the day was gorgeous with the most beautiful view of Mt. Washington I have seen from there (barely visible in photo). I was able to get in about 2 1/2 hours of skate skiing which was a great workout. As my throat was hurting pretty bad Thursday night, I skipped my run.

Friday my cold was in full swing so I took the day off and ate instead. I joined my team for a Gritty's lunch and then dinner at Flatbread Pizza Company with some friends. Pure gluttony, but there is no better way to celebrate bonus day! Saturday was terrible. Terrible night of sleep and I did not want to get out of bed. I finally pulled myself up and joined Kelly on some morning errands. I am glad I joined her because the day ended up containing a milestone. While we were out we took Riley to see her first movie in the theater - Horton Hears a Who. Good fun. Today my cold is much better and I did get out with the family to Shawnee Peak for an afternoon of downhill skiing. Riley further honed her skiing prowess and while this was probably the last of this year's skiing, she is well positioned to kill the slopes next year!

I do feel like this past week mentally closed out the winter for me. Since living in Maine, the end of each winter and summer finds me at a point where I am ready for it to be done. This is not unique to me, as I suspect about everyone up here goes through this. However, having lived in Virginia where each season is represented beautifully, up here we only get a winter and summer with "something" in between. There is no clear definition. Summer just ends and winter begins, and vice versa. There are no cherry blossoms in March to herald in Spring and warn you summer is coming. I guess the closest thing in mind up here to welcome spring is the apple blossoms which happen in mid to late-May, but by that time we are only a week away from our hottest week of the year. I guess you could count the crocus as an early indicator but most of the time these hardy guys are required to poke there flowers through snow cover!

The reason for that diatribe is to simply say I am ready for spring and some trail running, on dirt. I am ready to join the Trail Monsters on Tuesday nights and I am ready to start spending my early weekend mornings out on Pineland's beautiful trails. It is race season and it is time to start putting in the real miles!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Snowy wet run, Eastern States and Two Trials

I was fortunate to avoid the treadmill the last couple days. Monday I took as a rest day and yesterday I got out for a noon time run with my buddy Tom and we had a great run in moderate temps and a nice partly sunny day. As has been the case with the last few weeks of runs, we started somewhat slow (7:37 pace) and hit negative splits for the entire run, ending at a 7:00 pace. I felt great, but my heart rate was quite high due to the topic of conversation which involved the Democrat Primary race. Nasty and getting nastier.

Tuesday Run Stats: South Freeport / 46:55 / 6.4 miles / 7:22 avg pace / 151 avg hr / 173 max hr

Today I ran with Ethan on the same course as yesterday. The weather was a bit different than yesterday. There was a pretty good mixed precipitation falling which left things quite wet. My feet were soaked at the end of the run but this didn't slow us down. I don't mind running in nasty weather like this but I don't trust drivers on the roads when they are clear, much less when they are slushy. But we escaped unscathed and ended with a beautifully consistent negative splits. We started at a 7:39 and dropped roughly 9 seconds a mile to finish at a 6:49.

Wednesday Run Stats: South Freeport / 44:34 / 6.1 miles / 7:20 avg pace / 155 avg HR / 183 max HR

Other fun stuff. I signed up for the Eastern States 20 Mile. There should be a great group of friends joining me. Jim from work, Jamie, Brian, and maybe my man James. Also, please take the time to check out the following link: This is Emily LeVan's website that allows you to track her progress while she trains for the US Women's Olympic Marathon Trials and as she cares for her 4 year old daughter who was recently diagnosed with leukemia. Awesome site. Awesome woman (even though I don't know her with the exception of running many of the same races she runs). Awesome child. Check it out and donate!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Trip arrangements, VT 100, and Epic Treadmill

As rough as the week started, it sure ended well. The mid week runs on Wednesday and Thursday were mediocre at best, as I ran on the treadmill at work on Wednesday due to time constraints and weather and Thursday I ran an abbreviated run at noon with Tom. The runs measured 5 and 5.2, respectively, and found my pace near 7:30s. My stomach was still a little unsure of itself Wednesday but by Thursday I was back to my near 4,000-5,000 calorie a day diet. Gotta love high metabolism!

Friday I took the day off due to work and family commitments, but by Saturday I was right back on schedule. Kelly got a jump on me Saturday morning and took the AM shift for herself. That was okay by me as our daughter awoke us near 5 AM and was not interested in fulfilling our wish of sleep. By mid-morning I was itching to get outside and as I was prepping to hit the roads of Cumberland and my wife was getting the kids ready to help her run chores out of the house, my son decided he had had enough with wakefulness and really wanted his bed. So...I was called back in to hang out with my son as he napped. My wife and I had a date planned for later in the day through the evening, my only option was the treadmill. So downstairs I went. I love the treadmill. I really do. But when you have your sights set on an outdoors run, it is hard to run on a belt.

Anyhow, I started the run planning on doing only 12 miles. The plan was to run an easy first five miles, pick it up for the next 5, and cruise in the last 2. What actually happened was I ran an easy 5, a hard 7 at about a 7:15 pace, an then another surprise 6 at about a 7:35-7:40 pace, for a total run of 18 miles. After the first 12 I jumped off the treadmill to check on my son, who routinely naps a couple hours at a pop, and when I discovered he was still happily asleep and I had nothing better to do, I kept going. The run felt great and today I had no after effects. My ramp up to this distance has been less than ideal but my consistency has been good and my strength is high, so I felt okay going this distance. And tonight I got in another easy 5-miler to stretch things out and I felt good.

Saturday's stats: Treadmill / 18 miles / 2:17:00 / 7:36 mile

Other great news. I booked my airfare to California to fulfill my pacing duties for Jamie Anderson. I am all set to arrive in San Jose, CA to meet my best bud Danny, who lives out there, and we are going to head over to Yosemite or some other natural wonder blessed by God out West for a couple days before the race. I am then heading home on a red eye Monday night. I am really looking forward to this trip and feel absolutely honored and blessed than Jamie chose me to help him. Other good news. I am now an official registrant in the 2008 edition of the Vermont 100. Please note: my name has been misspelled for the second year in a year. Last year the VT 100 crew listed me as Stephens Wells, which really tripped the announcer at the awards banquet. This year I am Stphen Wells, so I guess I have a little Swedish or other Norther European thing going on. I think I will try getting that corrected.
Finally, I am thinking of adding a race to schedule: the Eastern States 20-miler on Sunday, March 30th. If anyone would like to join me, let me know.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

No Fat Ass

Sunday I awoke hopeful for a great run at Bradbury partaking in the Trail Monster Running Fat Ass 50K. My plans were to do 2 of the 3 10.5 mile loops. My stomach was aching when I rolled out of bed and was no better when I got to the run site. I stood around with all my running buddies, old and new, hoping that the food I took in would somehow ease my stomach. No such luck. The stomach got worse, I wished everyone well as the run started, and I limped home. The roads in Maine after a tough winter are not kind on sour stomachs, thanks to all the great frost heaves. When I got home I laid on the couch and was a permanent fixture there pretty much until this morning. And this is what all my daycare money goes to...

Check out the Trail Monster Running blog for some great links to race reports from the Fat Ass.

Tonight I tested my stomach with a treadmill run. Not my most memorable run. Apparently there are still some unsettled spirits in there that did not want to be disturbed. On the good side, the treadmill is still running.

Stats: Treadmill, 6 miles, 45:40, 7:36 pace, No HR

Other news...I am signing up for the Mount Washington Road Race. Great race, "only one hill", or so the tag line goes. 7.6 miles with 5,000 feet of vertical climb. It is a lottery so wish me luck. Given my luck with lotteries this year, I will need it.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Road, Treadmill, and hopeful Fat Ass

Friday was a group lunch run at work. The whole gang was there: Jim, Ethan, and Tom. The run started off quick and got quicker (at least for what was supposed to be an easy run). The reason for the quick pace was the topic of conversation. Anytime our conversation centers around politics, drug testing in cycling, or even product merchandising at L.L.Bean, the pace creeps downward. Friday's run started in the low to mid 7s and quickly went sub-7 in the second mile without any of us really noticing. Ethan left us near the 3.5 mile mark to do his interval workout while the other three of us cruised in.

Friday's run stats: Upper Mast Landing, 5.69 miles, 41:35, 7:19/mile, Avg HR 149, Max 172

Today I slept in (awoke at 7 AM, so many may not consider this worthy of the "sleeping in" designation). We had received a pretty good amount of snow overnight and it was still coming down so I stayed in and had breakfast with the family. Around mid-morning I headed out for some shoveling of the snow. Great workout, especially since there is no where easy left to push the snow but over 6-7 feet high snow banks. I love snow, and it is part of the reason we moved up here, and I will love it even more tomorrow if I get out skiing, but I will not mourn it's passing this year. After shoveling I headed in and hit the treadmill. The run went well and all felt good. I am now looking forward to the morning's Trail Monster Running Fat Ass 50K. I am looking at doing 2 of the 3 offered laps, for a 21 mile day. We'll see how well the snowmobilers packed down the trail today and tonight.

Today's run stats: Treadmill, 9.5 miles, 1:14:40, 7:52 pace (seems real memory of the time might be off)