Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Running to Work, Part 2

Yesterday, I put in an easy 6 on the treadmill before work, but it wasn't easy. I'm not a big fan of treadmills. I can manage to stay on them without losing my mind or getting injured, but I'm close to the line on both. Dawn thought I might post something about it, but we all know how treadmill running can be....

So, last night I was really psyched to run into work today. This was my second attempt, so I had my systems down (somewhat). I decided to increase the load a little by carrying some yummy homemade vegan cornbread, but tossed the extra running socks for the return trip (my work socks would serve 2 purposes now).

I started off just before 7AM with temps in the low 20's (a bit cooler than last week). The hill climb felt tougher this time which I surmised was the extra weight and the fact that this was my 4th day of significant running in a row (I rarely run 4 days straight). When I got to the end of my first leg (2 mile mark), it seemed a bit faster than last week. By normal standards 16-17 min seems a bit slow for 2 miles, but with major vertical (I'll have to measure it), and 7 lbs. on my back, I was pleased. The bushwack was not so pleasant, but it was smooth sailing once I hit the Metacomet Trail. The view of the Farmington valley is incredible from the ridge, and I hit my next timing point about 30 seconds faster than last week.

The rest of the route was uneventful and pleasant. Total time was about 45 minutes for 5 miles with a fair amount of trail and good vertical.

It's strange, but I was on cloud 9 all morning after that run. It replenishes my soul whereas the treadmill is almost exclusively a physical workout. Running outside on trails washes away the bad stuff and fills my tank with positive mojo and a big smile.

I left my office at about 5:40 or so for the trek home. Normally, I'm in a rush with the car,...a rush to get home or somewhere, ...a rush to go "do" something, but there's no rush in running home. Yes, I pushed the pace, but I was where I wanted to be the whole time. I was doing what I love so much. It feels so good that I can't believe it's free! I keep feeling like there should be a toll or something. Shhhh - don't tell anyone! PLEASE! :-)

The run home was a bit faster than last week....

...I'm hoping it will take longer sometime soon ;-)

Wishing you all the equal or better experiences!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Ice Dancing with Dawn

Dawn is my girlfriend. We started running together and subsequently dating in the Spring of 2007. We met through rock climbing, and she's every bit my equal or better when it comes to scaling vertical or overhanging rock walls. She kicks my butt at the rock gym regularly.

Dawn enjoys running, but can only get out to run a few days a week. Nevertheless, she's completed a few half-marathons with very respectable times. I like to run with her, but I'm not sure she would call it running together. She describes it as if she were chasing a bunny rabbit.

Last week, we did our regular loop at the West Hartford Reservoir in about 1:16. It's 7.25-7.5 miles or so, but the path was covered in snow and ice. This was a new experience for Dawn. She was a real trooper, but it took a lot of effort. She normally does this route in just over an hour.

This week, we planned to do the same route. The footing was somewhat better although very slippery in areas that had turned to ice. We were moving very well from the start. My quads felt a little fatigue from the run with Matt, but I was just happy to be outside. The sun was shining and the wind was minimal.

Dawn chugs along at her pace, and I cruise along at mine. Invariably, we get some distance between us and I loop back to see how she's doing from time to time. We chat here and there, but spend more time apart than together.

Once we get to the high point on the run, Dawn seems to relax a bit more. There's no visual or verbal indication, but I know she likes to get that hill behind her. On the way down the hill (approx. 4 miles into the run), a couple hikers asked for directions. One of the hikers turned out to be the infamouse John Rek from our rock climbing group, Connecticut Climbers and Mountaineers. The "Wrecker" is a big hiker, and has previously completed the Appalachian Trail. They were looking for the Metacomet Trail and I asked which way they were heading. John said "North" in just that may words, and I pointed them in the direction were were going.

There's a fairly wet and woodsy section on the way back in that causes some footing issues. I detoured around some icy patches and thought Dawn saw me. I turned to watch her, and she proceeded to go straight across the ice. She started sliding and I thought she was going to wipe out. Somehow, she held it together for about 15 feet, and got herself off the ice. She said, "It's a good thing I know how to skate". She's one tough cookie. I smiled. It looked more like ice dancing to me ;-)

We rolled into the parking lot at about 1:15 (approx. the same time as last week). Another great run with Dawnie!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Long Run with Matt Estes

I met Matt Estes by chance at the West Hartford Reservoir this past summer. I had just finished a long run and decided to do a little cool down. I was running behind Matt who was carrying a water bottle. I figured he was going long, so pulled alongside to chat. After talking a bit, I learned that Matt has won the HURT 100 and Masanutten 100. Wow! I thought I was an ultrahead! It was great to find someone to run with, but I never expected that the winner of those 2 races was living right here in CT.

Matt and I managed to meet for a run a couple weeks later. He was peaking for the Vermont 50, and I was not in peak shape. It was hot and I was hurting after we logged about 24 hard miles in about 3:06. A couple weeks later, Matt won the Vermont 50. Way to go, Matt!

I saw Matt from a distance at the Hartford Marathon. He clocked a PR at around 2:41 or so, and I hobbled in at 3:04.

He got busy with studies after Hartford, so we hadn't had another chance to run together. So, I was really psyched to run with him today! Our plan was to do 2-2.5 hours at a comfortable pace. Matt said he hadn't been getting in a lot of mileage, but I was still a little concerned that I might not be able to keep pace with him in the snow and ice.

Matt said I looked like I lost weight. I adopted a Vegan diet shortly after I ran with Matt last, and I have lost about 5 lbs. I also trained hard in November and December.

We ran the first 4.5-5 miles to the far side of my normal 8 mile loop, and Matt mentioned that it would be cool to get up to Heublein Tower. We had just run a big hill, so I wasn't sure how much I had in the tank for another big climb. I felt good enough to get up it, but didn't want to hold Matt back. We headed toward the hill and Matt talked about his record setting traverse of the Metacomet Trail (the path we happended to be on at the time). Matt ran the entire 67 mile trail in a bit over 11 hours a couple years ago. Nice work Matt!

Heading up to the tower, I was leading the way. I wanted to walk in a couple spots, but didn't want to slow Matt down. I just kept my head down and kept moving my feet while attempting to keep my heart rate at a manageable level. Near the top of the climb, the trail crosses the autoroad leading to the top. I was so happy when I saw the road, I had to let out a big hoot.

Matt led us the rest of the way to the top and we took in the view before heading back down. I think it must be one of the best views in CT. It took us about 1:15 to get to the top, so I figured we were on pace for 2.5 hours.

The run back was mostly downhill or flat, so we brought it in at 2:15. I'm guessing our total distance was only around 15-16 miles, but we were slowed by the snow/ice and some climbing. Matt felt a bit fatigued and was having a tendon issue, but I expect he'll be blowing my doors off in a week or two. He's motivated for some big races this year, and I'm hoping we can help keep eachother motivated toward some good results.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Let's go!

Here's to my first blog post. Yes, I'm now a blogger. I figure it's a good way to leave a mark, and share my life with others.

About me:

I'm a runner and climber who has recently adopted a Vegan lifestyle. I enjoy practicing yoga and just about any adventurous, healthy pursuit that has minimal environmental impact.

I'm not sure how to organize this site yet, so I'll just start with something.

This week, I did something that I have wanted to do for many, many years. I commuted to work without the use of fossil fuels. I ran with a small pack about 4.5 miles. It was about 50% road and 50% single track. It's very hilly too, so I was pleased with 43:45 for my first trek in the snow. There was about 5 minutes of bushwacking to pick up the trail, so I'm hoping that will go smoother next time. I showered at our fitness center and walked about 10 minutes to my building. The run home was about 0.5 miles shorter since I didn't have to go back to the fitness center.

The run was so exciting and I felt great all day. I managed to log about 9 miles and didn't have to rush to cram it in a lunchtime, etc. It took considerable preparation, but I think I can get the routine down for at least 2-3 days per week.

I'm lucky that I live close enough to work and have a reasonably safe route to make this possible. It's only recently become a reality for me.

There's a guy at work that has been doing a similar route everyday for the past 20 years. He's a pioneer and great trail runner. I don't think I could do it everyday, but it will be part of my life going forward.