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Run Efficient: April 2012

Monday, April 23, 2012

100 mile week

Well it's happened, a hundred mile week.  Always wanted to do it, but it seemed way out of reach and possibly not necessary.  I can definitely say I see the benefits of "high" mileage training, old school style and don't want it to end.  I've really enjoyed the training, miles on my feet, new surroundings, chats with friends and the benefits of hills, speed, and LSD.  I've learned so much during this training schedule and really can't wait to coach other people, share with friends, tweak it for future events, and get back to another race.

This week my goal was not only to finish 100 miles strong, but to attain more elevation gain than the race.  Peaks is 10 laps, of ten miles with 2400ft of elevation each lap.  That's 24,000 for the whole race, but 12,000 up and 12,000 down.


Monday - The cold persists... rest.

Tuesday - Robinson Woods, 7.  Real nice and easy run getting the kinks out from last week. Still coughing but getting better.

Stroudwater, 7.  Night run on legs that felt hard. It almost felt like I was running on roads. Maybe due to the super dry conditions and hard ground, or maybe picking my feet up higher than usual so as not to trip. The entire trail was illuminated by spider eyes that glistened in the light of my headlamp a deep blue and green. I probably saw over a hundred of the little critters along the trail, enough that I was dodging them.

On the drive home I had a crazy coughing fit that almost took me off the road and at the same time picked ticks off of me by the dozens, tossing them out the window as I felt more crawling up my legs...not fun.

Wednesday - Blackstrap Preserve, 9.  A little rough start and a pace that felt much slower than it ended up being. Didn't have a whole lot of snap to the legs but overall a fun workout with great, clear views of the Whites.

Thursday - Winnick Woods, 7.2.  Felt surprisingly good today, finally. The cold is definitely on it's way out and I felt "in control" for the first time in a few weeks during the run. That is to say I wasn't constantly pushing to stay moving, I was running slow because I wanted to, not because I had no other choice.

Fore River, 7.2.  Another nice and slow run. My legs are starting to feel the inclines a bit from this week. Time to take 'er easy...

Friday - Blackstrap Preserver, 9.2.  Good run definitely slower than usual on the hills but saving my legs for the weekend.  The cold is gone!!  Hell yeah!!

Saturday -  Mt. Agamenticus, 31.2.  Zak joined me for a run at Mt. Agamenticus, and I joined him for a few extra miles, changing the weekend up a bit to run a 50k as opposed to the 26 I had on tap.  The day started out humid, with overcast skies and turned to a gorgeous day with sun, a few clouds and a cool breeze. 

We started out attempting the Big A 50k course but quickly got off course and basically just cruised around the whole day.  With a little bushwhacking, some slogging on the hills and a few stops at the truck to refuel and hydrate it was truly a great day.  We were both running "light" with only a handheld and a bar or gel and made quick transitions at the truck. 

For the final few miles we were definitely tuckered, dehydrated, and feeling the miles.  This semi-forced bonk was a great time to test out our endurance, and while I pushed it up a few hills, Zak most assuredly pushed it down a few hills, leaving me cringing with every foot-fall.

It was an absolutely fabulous, and hard day on technical terrain, both old and new to us and there is just too much to put in words.

Sunday - Pineland, 23.5.  Helped out a bit today with Ian's Pineland Trail Tour.  He had set up an event to help out 20 or so people who are running one of the many races during the Pineland event and asked Blaine and I to give him a hand.  The three of us ran with our respective groups in the cool, windy temps for a bit over 11 miles.

With a few changes of liquid and food I headed out for a steady 12 miles or so.  It was difficult to get moving again, and a bit challenging to keep the motivation up.  The legs were feeling a few of the miles for sure and as much as I tried there were very few pick-ups on the run except for the final few miles at Oak Hill. 

Time:  18:18:52
Distance:  101.3
Elevation:  13,552

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A realization of "low" points

Most of my runs this week were done feeling sick, fatigued, and were mentally just challenging.  It was real hard to get out, and get in the miles when all I wanted to do, and all my body wanted to do, was sleep.  The week felt like many of the low points experienced in an ultra.  So with that in mind I treated the week like low-point training, and simply slogged through like every other runner does at one point in their training cycle.

Monday - Rest

Tuesday - Eastern Trail, 6.  Nice and easy on a cool, overcast day.  I dressed like it was winter to keep my core temp up.  Kinda silly looking.

Wednesday - Rest

Thursday - Stroudwater, 6.  Really feeling sick today and with no sleep last night due to coughing I felt the run more than I should have. Good sleep deprivation training though.  I was supposed to do a double today but erred on the side of caution, and rest.

Friday - Blackstrap Preserve, 11.  Better than expected run feeling still sluggish from the cold. Coughed basically the whole way but kept the pace real, real slow and really enjoyed the weather, turkeys, and seeing a martin chowing down a chipmunk.  Tacked on a few of the miles I missed yesterday.

Saturday - Eastern Trail, 8.  Slow run, feeling rough.
Scarborough, 4.  My nose ran faster than I did.  Added this run in to get the mileage.

Sunday - Blackstrap Area, 35.5.  The plan today was to get in the miles, no matter what.  Luckily Ian and Tyler were up for a bunch of miles and were willing to hang for quite a while with my plan of mapping as many trails as possible in the greater Blackstrap area.

Beaver Dam
We met at the Preserve parking lot, donned our gear and I went over what I wanted to accomplish.  Basically I was hoping to hit the three bitches, Skillins Tree Farm, Blackstrap, and Lowell Preserves, with power lines and whatever part of the famous "Jungle Run" we could get in. 
Empty the shoes!
The three of us set out on the long downhill to the bottom of the gas line trail which led us up, and with a little bushwhacking, connected us to the three bitches.  At that point we did a few hill repeats at Skillins and continued on the power lines back to the vehicles where we refueled and hydrated.

Tyler had about 20 on tap for today and after the first stop we'd accomplished 12.  At this point I realized my original plan of hitting the power lines first before the sun got too hot was moot, as there are no leaves on the trees to offer shelter anyway.  So I was starting to feel the heat a bit, but hydrating like crazy to keep healthy.

On down the hills again and through some excellent single-track, then over to the Lowell Preserve, which is new to me.  We decided to tread cautiously as the area is vast, Ian had only explored a portion of it, and Jeff warned of the "lost" possibilities.  With that in mind I definitely wanted to hit some of the peaks, as did Ian, but we didn't quite crest anything large. 
"Let's hit the open space"
While Tyler turned around to finish his run, Ian and I trudged on.  Through fields, roads, sand pits and some undiscovered country.  We finally ended up at the lower parking lot on Hurricane Rd. and began the ascent back up to the parking lot.  Ian had just come off a momentous week, as well as a race the day before and made the smart decision to finish on a high note a bit under what he wanted.  With fluids running out, and the day getting hotter, it was a wise decision.

On to the final leg, 12 more miles.  I loaded up with potatoes, a few more salt tabs, a bar, and some apricots and headed down again.  This time as much as I wanted to explore more of the Lowell area I decided to stay closer and ended up hitting the bitches again with some exploration of side trails.  On the way there I experienced some nasty smelling mud, bushwhacked more than I really wanted to, and discovered a sweet ski jump. 
With about five miles to go I was once again out of water faster than anticipated.  So I decided to hit what I thought was Blackstrap Rd. and hit the truck for a refuel.  It was not Blackstrap however and I ended up running way more than I wanted to on the road and had to do an out-and-back while finding my way.  At this point Alison gave me a call wondering where I was and asking If I wanted Lobster for lunch...  Oh man, yes, and yes! 

After a quick stop at the truck I headed down for another real slow hill repeat to get in the final miles.  It was a great day with great company and really reiterated some ultra feel of running when tired, and mentally just done.  I hope I mimicked some conditions I'll feel in a month, and hope I can recall the drive to get through.

Time:  12:29 hrs
Distance:  70.5 miles
Elevation:  7600 ft

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Sir Coughs-A-Lot

Yup full blown cold.  Coughing is a great way to cross train at least.
Sunrise at 60mph on I295

Monday - Winnick Woods, 6.  Just did a few enjoyable outer loops and had a blast.

Eastern Trail, 6.  Went out later than anticipated on a dark, clear, comfortably windy night. Felt real sluggish at the end as I hadn't had dinner yet. Not a great idea for the grumbling stomach.

Tuesday - Blackstrap Preserve, 8.4.  Really gorgeous and fun run exploring a bunch of trails I've never been on. I still haven't touched some of them and can't wait to get back out. A bit sluggish still today.

Wednesday - Bradbury, 6.  Headed out today for an easy run at the Brad. I didn't want to do too much hill work so I started off at the school field and headed out where I used to rock climb a bunch. The trail meanders along nicely for a while then instead of going where I was used to I took a left over the river and headed up on trails I've not been on before. Eventually I ended up at the quarry, where I spent some time exploring and visualizing fun shallow water climbs for the summer.

After a few dead-ends around Mt. Tryon I found myself cruising along the back side of the connector and part of the Big Bad Ultra course. As much as I enjoyed the familiar trails I really felt the desire to explore so with my sluggish pace I headed up the back side of the Brad bushwhacking until I found a few more dead-end trails and finally the boundary trail.

At this point I figured I should head back and just did a clockwise loop around the mountain ending up at the south west corner of the boundary trail where another rarely used trail brought me back down to the field.

Eastern Trail, 6.  Just a cruise on the flat stuff. Big happenings by the marsh though. All sorts of fish and game, cars, fish nets and dudes in waders. Whoa...

Thursday - Blackstrap Preserve, 8.5.  Great run with Ian, Zak, and Andy at the preserve. Ian shared a few more of the hilly, single-track, super fun trails today and between the four of us and the dogs we got a great workout connecting some real exciting areas.

Decided to get my full 8 in so after running with Ian, Zak, and Andy I headed up to Hardy road to get in a few more miles.

Right at the start of the trail a dog began barking uncontrollably at me and ran along the property line. I've been up and down this trail many times and have never seen it before but I figured it wouldn't bother me too much and continued to run. I then noticed that it had no leash and was coming straight at me. OK, so hopefully there's an electric fence. I got a few more yards down the trail and heard him right behind me barking like Cujo. I came to a dead stop and turned, and the dog put the brakes on kicking up dust and leaves as it came to a stop as well. So began the stand-off for the next five minutes or so. I talked nicely to it and tried to calm it down, even turned again to walk away, but it started after me again. Now I started yelling at the house for anyone to come and get their dog. Nothing. I finally just started walking backwards keeping an eye on it, as every time I looked away it would start after me, barking the whole time. After about a hundred yards of backward walking up the hill it finally stopped and I was able to continue my run. Not cool.

On the way down I grabbed a hefty stick and took the road instead. Where of course I heard it barking at someone else. A couple was walking their tiny dogs and were trying to figure out what to do. I told them of my run-in and they just turned around, stating they'd never seen the dog before either.

Odd halo over the Back Cove
Friday - Stroudwater, 6.  Mellow run.

Scarborough, 6.2.  Annoying road run that just didn't feel right.

Saturday - Pineland, 18.  Started earlier than usual today and met up with a surprising number of people at the parking lot.  At least twelve of us headed out including Zak who was doing a 50k.  It was a fun, slightly quicker pace than anticipated but it's easy to get carried away with smooth trails after running technical stuff so much.

We looped back to the parking lot for the 8:00 crowd and picked up a whole lot more runners.  I ended up running mostly with Joe for the final 2/3's of the run.  We hadn't talked in a long time so it was real good to catch up and hear some of his plans for 2012.  I feel we might have pushed the pace a bit but it was good to be done quicker than I thought with so much going on during the weekend.

Sunday - Bradbury, 20.  Met up with Val and Mindy doing an epic 50k in cool, overcast conditions.  We caught up while exploring the vast trails of the brad.  On our tour we cruised through an interesting parcel of land with stone structures, alters, expensive bird houses, pools, and gardens, all fused with a rich, energetic atmosphere.  At one point we talked about animals and what we'd most like to be.  It was during this conversation I got Sinatra in my head:
After hanging with the ladies for a bit I headed out for some sort of hills or something.  I really wasn't sure, and definitely was not feeling any of the energetic atmosphere leftover from the commune.  However during a sluggish ascent of Lunch Break I heard Mindy and Val headed down the trail, and it was too good an opportunity to pass up.  So I hid behind a rock and proceeded to ambush them as they went by.  It was good to get some juices flowing and great to see the looks of surprise on their faces.

All said and done back at the car I ran in to Xar who was doing a few laps around the field to keep warm before joining the two bad-asses for the tail end of their run.  We chatted a bit about her possibly entering the Barkley next year what her training would look like.  It's gonna be a good year for her!

Time:  15:00hrs
Distance:  91.2miles
Elevation:  10,165ft

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Conversation Pace

Monday - Rest

Tuesday - Eastern Trail, 7.  Nice easy run with full winter clothing, Windstopper gloves and pants, hat two shirts. What a difference 6 days and 60 degrees can make! I was on the trail doing the same seven miles last week in just shorts.

Back Cove, 6.  Met up with Zak for almost two loops around the cove. I had planned on a real slow run, just a cruise really. Zak however seemed to have boundless energy and we zipped around in 7:20s. It was great to catch up and hear about the gorgeous, mountainous runs in Slovakia and talk about the races to come.

Wednesday - Blackstrap Preserve, 8.5.  Great run on fresh trails to me. Ian had briefly showed Zak and I these trails last winter during part of the double jungle run loop. Ian and I were possibly going to run today but our schedules didn't work out so after he posted his stats on Facebook I had to check out the area.

After a turn around I found the trail head and ran down, then up, then through the single track woods, and through the mud and up the rocks. Man what a great time. It even started pouring rain with a little sleet mixed in for twenty minutes or so. Excellent run with some super fun trails!

Thursday - Scarborough Downs Loop, 6.25.  Nice easy run on the soft road shoulder in light snow and cool conditions.  My pace was a bit quick at times and I kept reminding myself to keep it at a "conversational pace,"  You know, as long as you can talk and have a conversation you're not working too hard and your effort is..."easy."  Well I found myself saying this IS conversation pace as I was having a conversation with myself in my head...  Yeah, doesn't really count.

Robinson Woods, 6.  Partial night run nice and mellow with some poor footing at the end due to an antiquated headlamp.  Definitely have a cold coming on... bummer.

Friday - Stroudwater, 6.  Really feeling the effects of the cold I've had all week and today was full-on lethargy. Trudged through the usually easy 6 miles in great conditions with some high winds.

Saturday - 1 More Mile For Sunshine, 30.  Blaines 50k capped off his month of incredible running. A healthy group of us gathered fat ass style with food, liquid and excitement in cool conditions. The majority of the group set off at a fun pace on diverse trails around a six mile loop.

The first couple laps were filled with great conversation and too many TM's to name. I really enjoyed catching up with everyone and hearing the latest greatest on food intake, adventurous future runs and life stories. The pace had picked up a bit on lap three as we were starting to get a feel for the course. At the aid station I fueled with another bar, some potatoes, and a few dates.

The goal for today was a "steady pace" so even though it felt a bit weird to quicken the pace at a fat ass charity event I really wanted to use this as a solid workout and push for a negative split. The fourth lap was probably a bit too quick, but it felt good to stretch the legs a bit. The final lap I was definitely feeling it but really wanted to enjoy the push and see what I could do with a tired body.

Super impressed with everyone especially Blaine for running the miles!  Another excellent time had with all the runners, supporters, and people just hanging out.  I'm not really sure how I ever ran alone all those years before moving to Maine.
Thanks for the post-run elixir Zak!
Sunday - Scarborough Residential, 4.25.  Nice easy run around the neighborhood with Alison on her bike.  A bit creaky from yesterday's effort but not horrible.

Fore River, 6.  Another nice and easy run on a great day.

Time:  11:52 hrs
Distance:  80 miles
Elevation:  4332 ft