Sunday, March 29, 2009

Eastern States 20 Miler

The journey back to some sort of fitness has to be near the end as I ran a strong race today and am pleased with the outcome.  This was my first race and real hard effort since March 1st.  The Eastern States 20 Miler (results) runs from Kittery, ME, through 5 NH towns and ends in Salisbury, MA (3 states, 7 towns, 20 miles).  The weather was not really on our side today but at times, the tail wind really helped.  It was very windy overall, but it seemed like we had a tailwind up each hill, which is fine with me.  The rain and cold temps made it pretty unpleasant at times, but it didn't stop the young guy on the left from breaking the course record (which he already owned).  Casey Moulton blazed a 1:45:40 (5:17 pace) over the 20 mile rolly, rainy, and windy course to crush the field and whoop my ancient arse by 11 minutes.  But I am still pleased with my 1:56:31, which is 1:06 faster than I ran last year in ideal conditions.  I'll take that as a sign that my fitness coming off the injury and illness isn't as bad as I thought it was.  I felt very strong for about 14 or 15 miles. I was just out there running in my comfort zone and at my pace (though I stayed with a couple of GBTC guys, Junyong Pak, and Ryan Aschbrenner for the first 6 miles).  At 10 miles I was pleased to see my time in the mid 56 min range, and then a volunteer leaned into me to give me a cup of red Gatorade and drenched me. The entire cup (and that thing was full) went straight into my chest.  At the finish, race director Don Allison thought for a second it was blood as I came across the line.  It was all over my new WHITE t-shirt that I wore...figures.   At about 15 I lost my groove and started to slow considerably....  Not sure what it was, but I'm thinking that the fact that 15 is basically my long run has something to do with it :).  The wheels came shooting off but I still maintained an ok clip and ran in 5th place for 18 miles until the 5th place guy came out of absolutely nowhere and screwed by me like I was standing still.  I would love to see what he ran for splits.  I looked behind me for 15 miles and never saw anyone.  3 miles later, I'm in 6th.  But I'll take it for sure.  It was the same exact place I finished last year...but the fact that I finished this race with no major issues and actually ran over a minute faster than in 2008, really boosts my confidence.   I had back tightness and hamstring, calf, and foot pain for the last 7 or so miles, but that is to be expected.  It wasn't anything I couldn't handle.   For a little bit (around the halfway point and right after I had a nice new pink shirt on) I felt my hamstrings start to bark a little bit up high...and I tried to relax a bit.  It never got any worse than that, but the banged up marathon legs started to show signs near the end...I'll probably be running very slow over the next couple of days for sure...

The splits:

Mile 01) 5:35
Mile 02) 5:38 (11:13)
Mile 03) 5:38 (16:51)
Mile 04) 5:30 (22:22)
Mile 05) 5:41 (28:03)
Mile 06) 5:44 (33:48)
Mile 07) 5:38 (39:26)
Mile 08) 5:38 (45:04)
Mile 09) 5:43 (50:47)
Mile 10) 5:43 (56:30)
Mile 11) 5:46 (1:02:17)
Mile 12) 5:49 (1:08:06)
Mile 13) 5:53 (1:14:00)
Mile 14) 5:48 (1:19:48)
Mile 15) 6:02 (1:25:51)
Mile 16) 6:02 (1:31:54)
Mile 17) 6:10 (1:38:04)
Mile 18) 6:22 (1:44:27)
Mile 19) 5:51 (1:50:19)
Mile 20) 6:12 (1:56:31)

Special Thanks to Steve Wolfe who was my ride back up to Kittery after the race.  I met Steve this morning before the race in Salisbury.  We left his car right next to the finish line and I drove us up to the start.  We then hopped in his car afterwards and shot back up to Kittery to get my car, then back down to Hampton for the post race festivities.  Having his car at the finish was a huge bonus in these conditions.  I finished the race, grabbed a drink, then headed straight for the car and sat there out of the wind, cold, and rain until Steve came in and we were off.  

No Kristin today as she was under the weather and the actual weather was too crummy for her to stand around for 2 hrs.  I don't blame her.

Not sure what's up next...It will depend on how the next few days go...either give the half a go this weekend (or some other smaller substitute) as a last workout before Boston, or just go with 3 more weeks of straight running.  I'll know by midweek.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Another Tivo Video and Update

Tivo must not have much doing these days as he has once again published a retro video from August...The Bridge of Flowers 10k... It shows a pretty cool warmdown we did up to a stone firetower in Shelburne Falls, MA.

On a personal running note, I may be either bagging the 20 miler in 3 days or just jogging it (as I have already paid). I'm pretty sure I won't be able to run it now. Yesterday I had a 100 degree fever all day, massive headaches that didn't go away, and was throwing up just about everything I had eaten the night before. Today I feel much better, but still haven't gotten out of bed as I am still pretty ill. I couldn't move yesterday and doubt I'll be able to run not only has March been a complete disaster for me (missing New Bedford), but now Eastern States is done, and Boston is probably just going to be horrible...but hopefully I'll be able to at least run and finish it...then look forward to the rest of the year. It has been a very disappointing last month for sure...after the start of the year I've had w/ all the snowshoe fun, etc. I really didn't get a chance to use the fitness I built up and now need to start all over as soon as this infection or whatever I have now is gone.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Mount Washington Lottery

Today, they announced the field for the 2009 Mt. Washington Road Race. I am very pleased to see fellow snowshoers and bloggers Scotty Graham (acidotic), Bob Jackman (TNT), Scott Mason (TNT), Max Thomas (WMM), Paul Kirsch (WMM), former UML/MVS teammate Brad Klinedinst (NB Boston), and fellow GSR members Scott Masse and Mountain Goat Sarah Prescott in the announced field of about 1000 brave souls who will go to battle on 'the hill' on June 20th. It's exciting to also see my friend and elite runner (now running for GTD) Jon Healey throwing his name in there.  I really think Jon will run very well at Washington and hopefully if he decides to have further fun in the summer, Cranmore and Loon... He is coming off a very productive fall of a 1:09 half and 2:29 marathon in Philadelphia. Knowing his competative nature and strength he should be mixing it up, up front for sure.

CMS looks to be once again sending a strong contingent to Pinkham Notch this year with 20 runners all toeing the line at the start of the Mt. Washington Auto Road.  


I'm disappointed my sister didn't get in...and she is half disappointed and half relieved.  Better luck next year (I hope she enters)...

Monday, March 23, 2009

Tivo Vid - Greylock Glen

As the winter winds down (we hope) and the last of the super cold temps are behind us, it is interesting to recall just how cold this winter was at times. Tivo pushed a new vid out to the world this week and recaps the Greylock Glen Snowshoe race back in January (where I very graciously let teammates Justin Fyffe and Ben Nephew finish ahead of me ;) ). It ended up being my worst finish all year in a snowshoe race, but the competition at that race was obviously the best.  Also, contrary to what Dave Dunham says, Tivo is a great guy!  Look for a cameo from yours truly, right near the end... Tim leaves the best for last ;)

Now...if only my legs would cooperate, maybe I can post stuff about my current running exploits...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

New Bedford Half Marathon

On Sunday I hitched a ride w/ Dan Verrington, Dave Dunham, and the brothers-Quintal down to the New Bedford Half Marathon (results) which served as race #2 in the USATF-NE Grand Prix for 2009.  Unfortunately, due to my recent issues with the hamstring, hip, and back, I was forced to sit this one out and watch from the sidelines... I threw my bike in the back of DV's truck and went on down to snap some shots of my friends from CMS, the Squad, GTD, MVS, GCS, SISU, Whirlaway, R.UN, and numerous other clubs in the area...  The weather seemed to be perfect, which made it even that tougher to swallow (not running) but my new outlook after today is definitely positive (which I'll dive deeper into in my next post) so I will refrain for complaining and dwell on the positive.

I got almost 1000 photos and a couple of video clips on the day... It was my first time going to solely photograph a race and now I know what Kristin goes is NOT easy to try to get all the faces you know when you are pointing and shooting continuously.  Factor in the times she's had to stand out in the rain and cold weather and I can't begin to imagine how I could ever complain about her missing me ever again ;).  

Video Clip 1 - Start

Video Clip 2 - Halfway

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Stalled Out Completely - Quick Update

Ran just about 3 miles yesterday in intense pain and shortness of breath because of my back....and today managed to run for 2 minutes up the street before having to stop and walk back home.  My back is so bad now I need to go see someone about it and am having to scratch New Bedford again for the 2nd time in 3 years.  I have no idea when I'll be able to get back into it.  Eastern States is now a couple weeks away..hopefully I can be back running by then.  

Monday, March 9, 2009

Stalled Out but Looking Forward

Well I have come to realize 2 things in the past week. First, something seems to happen to me every March, which sets me WAY back and forces me to miss time.  Second, I CANNOT and WILL NOT do any more mid-week workouts. None. Zero. Mario called me out on it and he was right... '...what the hell were you doing a workout for? Stick to races!'  I race too much and have realized that I know what works for ME and what doesn't work.  Everyone is different and no one philosophy or training schedule works for everyone.  I've learned more by experiencing setbacks, than in any running/training book or article I've ever read.  For my old, tired, and extraordinarily inflexible frame, I cannot continue to try to show up to a hill or track workout 2 or 3 days after racing, and 2 or 3 days prior to racing when my schedule is already keeping me doing a fast day at least once every 7 days...  I've tried it and it doesn't work and I continue to SCREW MYSELF.  Why do I continue to do this?  What do I all of the sudden think I can do it without getting hurt?  Well, I'm writing this to try to convince myself that it will NEVER work.  I don't have a number, but I'd say I'm batting about .200 or less when it comes to doing a successful workout without the back, calf, or hamstring going on me.

Why am I mentioning all this?  Well, last Tuesday I attempted to do a hill workout after doing the Claddagh Pub 4 Miler (which was a good enough workout)... Instead of running long, I figured I'd go down and meet up w/ some folks and do the planned hill workout at River Rd.  BIG mistake.  My hamstring went on me on either the 2nd or 3rd hill out of 15.  Like a schmuck I did all 15 and killed my hamstring.  I tried to quickly stretch it in between sets and ended up doing way more harm than good.  I could barely do the cooldown and had to completely bag Wednesday.  Yep, a frickin ZERO.  Then, Thursday I was able to do two 5 mile runs easy...with tons of pain, but the hamstring stayed in place and didn't pop all around like usual when this happens.  Friday I was able to do an easy 10 but had to stop half way and then again at about 7 miles to stretch and massage the lower part of my hamstring behind my knee.  At that point my entire hamstring hurt from ass to knee.  It was so tender on Wed, and Thurs that I could barely touch it.  Friday it appeared to be getting better.  Saturday, I again was able to get out in the beautiful weather and do 10 and this time was able to do it almost without issues.  Pain is tolerable, but the clicking and popping out of place behind my knee makes it unrunnable.   Yesterday I had plans to run an easy 9 and salvage 60 miles for the week (on 6 days).  No dice.  I got 2 miles out and the hamstring went on me.  Couple this with throwing my back out (yes, throwing it completely out on both sides) and I had to hobble back to the house.  4 miles on the nicest day of the year so far.

So I wrapped up my lowest week of the year as I should be increasing my mileage... Part of me is acknowledging the fact that I have to heal and it is necessary, but the other part of me is p*ssed and nervous.  I hope this gets better.  The worst of it is my back.  Yesterday I could barely walk, I couldn't sit or lay down, and found myself on the floor for most of the day.  I had to pick Kristin up at the airport in Boston and I could barely stand it.  Sitting in the car and driving into Boston was brutal.  Last night I barely slept as I had to lie flat on my back but with a pillow folded up and under my lower back, arching my body in a way where the muscles in my back weren't tweaking and spasming.  Icey Hot, Advil, heat pad, and tons of water the past two days now.  2 Epsom salt baths and a hot whirlpool today with constant sticking, massaging, and kneading (with a hockey ball up against the wall) to try to loosen up my back.  As I type this I am kneeling on the ground as I can't even sit in a chair....  The only bright spot is that the weather is balls.  Yesterday was 60 and sunny, today its been a blizzard all day and it's been snowing here all day.  At least 5 inches plus of snow has fallen today.  A good day to bag it and try to get better, but the mileage will suffer again.  I'm starting to realize there is really nothing I can do about it.

All this said, I am still planning on giving New Bedford a go even if I can't run all week. The most annoying thing about this all is that it happens to me EVERY year at this time:

2007: My first year running since early 1999 and I had been back running for 6 months but for about 3 or 4 seriously (meaning every day).  I pulled up w/ major calf issues the week of New Bedford and I had already registered and paid for it.  Didn't race.

2008: Back full swing into the running scene.  Went to Flagstaff the week before New Bedford.  A combination of the altitude, week long stomach problems, and a slight head cold led to a mediocre race, but I did race!  

2009: Now 6 days out (5 after today) and I have 4 miles in the bank in the last two days and can't walk.  Deep breaths actually hurt right now.  My back is so bad I really don't even know how bad my hamstring is and probably won't know until the race, as I don't plan on running hard from now until then.

My really mediocre half marathon splits from 2008:

1 Mile: 5:24
2 Mile: 10:51 (5:27)
3 Mile: 16:17 (5:25)
4 Mile: 21:48 (5:31)
5 Mile: 27:07 (5:19)
6 Mile: 32:32 (5:24)
7 Mile: 38:00 (5:28)
8 Mile: 43:29 (5:28)
9 Mile: 49:19 (5:50)
10 Mile: 55:20 (6:00)
11 Mile: 1:01:20 (6:00)
12 Mile: 1:07:21 (6:00)
13.1 Mile: 1:13:49 (6:27)

Total Time: 1:13:49 - pace: 5:38 per mile.

As you can see it hit the wall BADLY at Mile 9...maybe even 8.  It was my first half marathon, my 1st race ever above 10 miles, my 2nd race ever above 12k, and my 3rd race ever above 10k (so you do the math on that one ;) ).  Somehow I plan on trying to run faster than that this year, but fat chance at this point.

The image above is from the race last year.  I bought it.  The only online photo I ever purchased.  I didn't get any of me in this race except at the end and they were all blurry.  It was like $40. I'm a sucker.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

February Recap

In the interest of trying to post more than once a week (I swear I'll get better at that) and to keep in line with a lot of others out there, I'll try doing a very quick monthly summary of what went on in my world of training/racing during the past 30ish days as I work my way towards Boston in April. 

February saw the last of the snowshoe action for me this year as I wrapped up the Granite State Snowshoe Series, qualified for U.S. Snowshoe Nationals (which I passed on this year).  I also set a 30+ PR of 55:08 for 10 miles at the USATF-NE 10 Mile Championships in Amherst, MA, on a hilly and icey course...indicating that (barring injury, etc.) I may be able to run much faster on a slightly flatter course in better conditions (i.e. Newburyport in July).  We'll see.

February Training:

Total February Miles: 312.3 Mi - 36:21:42 of running total time (all in Feb).

Week 1: 75.7 miles (including last 6 days of Jan.)
Week 2: 76.1 miles
Week 3: 76.8 miles (6 days)
Week 4: 81.3 miles
Week 5: 73.0 miles (only 6 days - including 1 day of March)

2 days off (Thursday - 12th, Monday - 23rd).

February Racing:

5 races total
- 4 snowshoe
- 1 road
- Places: 3 x 1st, 1 x 2nd, 1 x 22nd (New England Championship)

Racing Results & Summaries / Posts:

02-07 - 2nd of 61 - Sidehiller Snowshoe (4.11M) - Center Sandwich, NH - [31:54/7:45 pace]
02-08 - 1st of 141 - Frosty's Dash for a Cure (3M) - Atkinson, NH - [24:28/7:54 pace]
02-14 - 1st of 50 - Horse Hill 7k Snowshoe Race (7k) - Merrimack, NH - [30:41/7:03 pace]
02-21 - 1st of 107 -  Kingman Farm Moonlight Snowshoe (5k) - Madbury, NH - [22:36 / 7:16 pace]
02-22 - 22nd of 596 -  DH Jones 10 Mile - USATF- New England 10 Mile Championships (10M) - Amherst, MA - [55:08 / 5:31 pace]

Goals for March:

Training: Keep up with 70-80 (maybe even 90+) miles per week plus some workouts from coach Fernando Braz to keep me on track for being in shape enough to run Boston.  Same (similar story) as last month... A couple of longer races this month to look forward to though...

Racing: On the road to Boston, I will be stopping in at the New Bedford Half Marathon (USATF-NE Grand Prix Half Marathon Championship) and taking a tour of the ME/NH/MA seacoast in the Eastern States 20 Miler. Both are longer races (longer than I'm used to) that should help me get ready for Boston in April. I may shoehorn in a 3 miler this weekend for some speed and maybe a shorter race between New Bedford and Eastern States in a couple weeks.  Goals are definitely sub 1:13 at New Bedford and sub 1:57 at Eastern States (both barring weather/wind issues)... Gotta love New England (we got a foot of snow in the past 24 hrs here in southern NH)!

March Schedule:

03-01 - Claddagh Pub 4 Mile Classic (4M) - Lawrence, MA
03-07 - Spring Ahead 3 Miler (3M) - Concord, MA
03-15 - New Bedford Half Marathon (13.1M) - New Bedford, MA
03-29 - Eastern States 20 Miler (20M) - Kittery, ME - Salisbury, MA

2009 Yearly Totals: Jan-Feb (649 Miles)

February: 312.3 Mi / 36:21:42
January: 336.7: Mi / 41:00:41

Claddagh 4 Miler

This weekend I amazingly had just one race on the schedule (as I passed on the Joppa Hill race and officially hung up the snowshoes for the season).  I headed 4 miles down the road in Lawrence, MA to the Claddagh 4 Miler (results) which is part of the Wild Rover series. The conditions were interesting to say the least....the snow covered roads made the footing a little uneasy, especially on the hill and the couple of turns near 2 miles...

The course starts off in downtown Lawrence, MA next to the Claddagh Pub (site of the Mill Cities Relay finish) and runs along the canal for a flat first mile before turning into a climb that is steady for 3/4 of a mile and then steep for a quarter mile or so.  It then circles around and reverses course (which makes the 3rd mile a nice downhill mile and the last mile a flat reversal of the first).  

Mike Quintal and I did a 3 mile warmup with some strides before heading out with 744 other braves souls in the snowstorm.  Immediately the front pack was set with myself, New Balance's Mario Fraioli, and Dave Dechellis, with Mike lingering a bit behind.  By the hill, it was just Mario and myself chugging along and not really racing as much as just keeping up a steady clip which we did intensify a bit closer to the end, but neither of us made any sort of breaks to the finish (I don't think either of us really wanted to sprint for the end)... We talked back and forth most of the way and I felt pretty solid.  I know Mario was coming back from injuries, illness, etc. and was just getting in a good tempo, which is all I was after as well.  Not a bad run for either of us as we came in within a second of each other for 1st and 2nd overall and in a decent time for running in a snowstorm with flats on...  The most important thing for me was the fact that the legs felt great, cardio is good, and I know I'm in far better shape right now than I was last year and am ready to roll at New Bedford for sure.

Mike and I immediately went out for a 3 mile cooldown to wrap up the week, quickily changed clothes, and then went up inside the Claddagh for some post race festivities.  Mario, Mike, Kristin, and I hung out a bit and ate...Dave was milling about with beer in hand and I had a couple of adult beverages which are affecting me still, as I write this.  The afterparty was pretty cool with some live music, free food, a free beer (with ticket), and some of the usual suspects on the running scene this winter (chatted w/ John K and some other MVS folk who were out in full force as usual).  We all got Claddagh pint glasses and Mario got a Whirlaway gift cert which he graciously gave to me as he works at PR Running and gets all the swag he needs from there... I owe him a beverage or two the next time we meet!

Splits: 4 Miles (21:36 - 5:25 pace) - 2nd of 744

Mile 1: 5:30
Mile 2: 5:45 (11:15) (uphill + snow)
Mile 3: 5:09 (16:25) (downhill + snow)
Mile 4: 5:12 (21:37)

Total Finishers: 744.

I also got to chat a bit with Andy Schachat who was gracious enough to mention me in his latest column on Fosters, in which he discusses the recent phenomenon that is snowshoe racing in New England... It's really exciting to see it getting more and more popular and I think (and hope) next season will be even more popular among New England runners looking for a great alternative to indoor track, winter road races, or sitting on their rump during the colder months... Also, always great to chat with Andy, as he's very knowledgeable and passionate about the New England running scene.

Kristin braved the cold and elements once more to get the end of the race on SmugMug (Photos).

Next week is a toss up...not sure exactly what I'll be doing...Potentially a race on Saturday... 2 weeks until New Bedford and I think (hope) I'm ready to roll there.

Below are 3 cool photos from the start (by Ted Tyler) in which shows the nice was worse by the end.  In the second photo, I am yapping about where the course goes and pointing to where the next turn is.  With me is DC and Mario.