Sunday, June 29, 2008

Taper Time

My sympathy goes out to all the Western States 100 runners who did not get to run this weekend. I think I would be seriously disappointed if I trained for so long and then have the race be cancelled. I'm sure the race organizers did the right thing, but it's still tough. Big props to the Vermont 100 organizers for opening up 40 more slots. This will be one tough field for the race! It's good for the race, and good for Northeast ultrarunning.

Well, the race is less than 3 weeks away. I'm ready to taper both mentally and physically. My body was begging for rest this week.

Tuesday, 6/24 - After a rest day on Monday, I was still not up to my usual 20 miler on Tuesday. I didn't have the time, but secretly was happy to do an easy 10. I ran into the Goat along the way. We picked up the pace for a mile or two around mile 7, and then I stopped for a drink before doing a 2 mile cooldown. My right calf tightened up, and I was concerned. I massaged it quite a bit that night.

Wednesday, 6/25 - Feeling a bit tired at the start. I decided to carry a bottle due to the heat, but still managed to hold a decent pace for the first 9. I ran into Sean, husband of a friend of Dawn's, and we connected for the rest of the run. We had never run together, but I knew he had run a marathon and was a biker. He really has some lungs, and I had trouble hanging with him at the top of the big hill. He is strong, but doesn't have the endurance yet. We pushed eachother, so it was much faster than I had planned. After a 2 mile cooldown, I was feeling good, but wondered what the expended effort would do to the weekly plan.

Thursday, 6/26 - The "Easy 10" I intended turned into a hilly, hard 10 due to the humidity and selected route. I think my body was trying to tell me something.

Friday, 6/27 - Planned to do speedwork at the track, but my body said, "No way". I went to the gym and did some spinning and stretching.

Saturday, 6/28 - Felt a bit better, and did 12 with the Goat. The pace was easy, and I was starting to feel life in my legs again. The weather was warm and humid.

Sunday, 6/29 - Very humid and warm. A good 32 miles at the reservoir in about 4.5 hours. I considered adding a couple more miles to get to 5 hours, but opted to give my body some rest. I'd like to get some speedwork in this week before the serious tapering begins.

Weekly Total - 84 miles. I'm pleased with it considering how my body felt this week. I was feeling overtrained and needed some rest. The next 20 days will be fairly tame compared to the last 4 weeks.

As many have said at this point, "The hay is in the barn". It's a matter of getting myself rested and strong over the next 19 days. There's still lots of prep work to do before heading north.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Big Weekend!

After the Montreal trip, I was exhausted. No running on Friday. I still wanted to get 100 miles in for the week, so it was going to require back-to-back long runs on the weekend.

Saturday, 6/21/08

On Saturday, I met Bill, Tim, Paul, and Pete from our Red Eye Runners Reach the Beach Relay team. It's always good to see the gang, and it was fun to catch up with everyone. Everyone likes to joke on these runs and today was no exception. We headed north from Reservoir 6 and crossed over Rt. 185 into Penwood State Forest. We did a loop through the park that was very pleasant. I usually do the Metacomet trail through there, so it was nice to try something different.

After heading back to the cars, we had logged about 10 miles. Bill was heading out for more, so I connected with him for a couple more miles before heading up to Heublein Tower. At the top, I decided to head down the paved road as I had never been that way. This added some good vertical. At the end of the run, I had covered 21.5 miles in about 3:15 running time (not including the stop at the cars in between). I felt pretty good about the running considering that I was dragging at the start. Now, the key was to follow it up with a big day on Sunday.

Sunday, 6/22/08

The Goat and I planned to meet at 7:30AM, so I figured I would get there early to log some early miles. We parked at Penwood as my plan was to do a lot of hard miles with vertical and single track. Bottom line - this was going to be a punishing run to prep for the big hills in VT. The temp was mild, but the humidity was oppressive. I headed north on the Metacomet trail at approx. 6:25AM to the lookout and looped back to catch the Goat. Goat was running late, so I managed to get 90 minutes in before we connected. We did the paved loop out and the trail back again in Penwood, and then we headed for the Tower. Goat was in good spirits and we were moving well. The conversation was the usual stuff. Goat was planning to do at least 3.5 hours with me, and he was doing great. We managed to make 3 trips up to the Tower and around the reservoir before he called it a day. Wow! Four hours for the Goat! Good stuff. I was at 5.5 hours and really wanted to get to 8 hours for the day. My breaks were getting longer and my body was hurting. I did another Penwood loop, and then convinced myself to do another reservoir loop and then head up to the Tower for trip No. 4. This last trip was brutal and I walked the trail to the top. The downhill was welcome and I cruised into the parking lot at 39.3 miles. I wanted to finish it right, so pushed on to 40 miles in exactly 8 hours. I was soaked to the bone from humidity and some rain, had some serious chafing, and was mentally burnt out. My ability to run the uphills was gone, but I was still fine on the downs and flats. I know I could have gone farther, but I figured 8 hrs was enough for the day. It's 5 miles less than last week, but the terrain was much harsher on this run. Also, I had a rest day before last week's long run compared to a 3+ hr run yesterday.

In review, I'm satisfied with the run. I have one more week of hard training, and then time to taper. Tomorrow will be a rest day to get some life back in this body.

Weekly summary -

Monday - Rest
Tuesday - 20 hilly miles fast at reservoir 2:28. Fantastic Run!
Wednesday - 7.6 miles to work - Easy
Thursday - 2.5 hours in Vermont (15 miles?)
Friday - Rest
Saturday - 21.5 miles 3:15
Sunday - 40-41.4 miles (depending on GPS sites), and 12K-17K vertical depending on which site you believe.

Total Mileage - 105ish

If anyone has experience with the Garmin Forerunner 305, please comment. I get different mileage and vertical depending on whether I download to Motion Based or Garmin Training Center. Which is more accurate? I'm liking the Motion Based site better, but who knows?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

It seemed like a good idea at the time...

I had one of those epiphany-type ideas earlier this week. Do you ever get those...? The idea that just jumps from your brain and you immediately embrace it as "Brilliant!" Well, my brilliant idea popped into my head while I was getting ready for a business trip to Montreal. I was driving up on Wednesday afternoon for a meeting on Thursday. The meeting was scheduled to get out by 3pm, and I would be happily on my way back through Vermont to arrive home by 9 or so. Hmmm, how was I going to get in a run on this trip? Duhhhh! I slapped myself....I'll be driving through the Woodstock, VT area around 6pm...plenty of time for a test run on the VT100 course. BRILLIANT!

I guessed that the meeting might not end by 3 as planned, and traffic might be an issue, etc. I was tired from the previous days run. I had no idea how to find the course, and I remembered very little of it. Dawn had given me a map from Google showing the aid station locations, and I had read a post recently on Sherpa John's cool blog indicating that a group had recently done the 10 Bear loop. It seemed like a good idea. So, if I could find my way to 10 Bear, memory might get me the rest of the way. I packed my new headlamp and Garmin Forerunner as I knew I would need them.

After a crazy morning which required me to drop of my car for some body work (damn deer), and run to work...I picked up a rental car and headed north. I told Dawn about my plan and she quickly emailed me the VT100 course map. Thanks Dawn!

OK, so after hours of driving and sitting in Montreal traffic for more hours and going to the wrong hotel, etc. , I pass out in my room. The next day, I am in a fog and wondering how I am going to survive the meeting. My body is tired from all the training, work, etc. I look at my running gear and think, "Why did I even bring this stuff?".

After surviving a day of meetings, I practically run to the car to get ahead of the Montreal Traffic Madness and get on the road. I drive like a crazy man..only stopping for a couple Clif bars and Powerade. After meandering through Woodstock, I jump on Rt. 106S and start looking for the Camp 10 Bear turnoff. Ten miles pass and there it looked so much different without tents and people and cars everywhere. It was just so nothing special ever happened there. The memories were there though. I remember people cheering as I came into 10 Bear for the first time 2 years ago. I was hurting, but re-grouped with my crew. I weighed-in and then was off. I felt like I should have sprinted away, but just walked up that hill.

So, there I was...I wasn't sure which way the course went as I hadn't looked at the map Dawn sent. OK, I drove up to the T and tried figuring it out. After driving on the wrong road for a ways, I headed back. I asked one guy for course directions and he had no clue about the race. How could you not know about a 100 mile race that passes your front door every year?

So, I head back to 10 Bear, and pull up the map Dawn sent on my laptop while I changed into my running gear. I took a quick look and tried to commit it to memory (yeah, right). I put on the Garmin thinking this will at least get me home if I get lost. It talks back to me, "LOW BATTERY". Great! Well, at least I have my headlamp.

Off I go! I cruise up toward the T, and a couple walking along the road ask, "When's the big race?" YES! Finally, I am in the right Universe. As it turned out, the race was in exactly one month. I smiled and trotted on... turn left at the T and head down a bit, and then recognize the road...I'm back! I can feel it. I was running with the Scottish gent on this section. Cool!

I get down to the bridge and it's out. Yikes! I find a little foot bridge and sketch my way across. Take a right onto 106 and take the first right back onto gravel roads. I get to the end of the road and it's just driveways. Am I on the wrong road? I find a trail into the woods and see a pink marker...Hmm, could this be it? I go up a way and find a yellow plate on a tree...YES! The race markers...The trail seems quite overgrown, but I plug on. I see a few more yellow markers and am happy. The trail dumps out on a gravel road, and I follow it down to an intersection. I don't know which way to go, so try one road that leads to nowhere. I try another road that leads to barking dogs and a scary man that knows nothing about the VT100. By now, an hour has nearly passed, and I decide to retreat back to the T and try doing the course in reverse. I figure I can take the gravel road up to the top of Prospect Hill for some fun. Well, this didn't work too well either as I couldn't figure out which road was right. I ran up a couple hills and eventually onto a trail. It was dark by now and I was getting scared of the creatures in the woods. I figured something was about to jump on my 132 lbs. of weakling and have me for dinner. So, I high-tailed it back to the car. At the car, I wanted to get at least 2:30 on my feet, so tried heading back from 10 Bear to the earlier part of the course. I climbed another big hill and thought, "These hills sure seem a lot bigger than I remember". I headed back to the car with my tail between my legs and a better appreciation for the task ahead.

I was home shortly after midnight. Reflecting on the adventure, I was pleased that I made the effort to re-familiarize with part of the course. It was fun and brought back some memories. I wish I had printed a copy of the course map as it would have helped. My new headlamp works great (Thanks for the tip, Mark!), and I know I need to keep working the hills to get my quads ready. All in all, it was a successful endeavor! Total mileage was probably about 15ish, but it's just a guess. Gotta charge that Forerunner!

Looking forward to being back there in 4 weeks for the adventure of a lifetime! Cheers!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

You just never know...

I was dreading today’s run. I know it’s not a healthy attitude to have when training for a 100 mile race, but I did not feel ready. My plan was to try to get in 8 hours and at least 40 miles. Here’s how it shaped up…

Friday was hot and I did a hard 20 miles in the afternoon. I’ve been taking ½ vacation days to get in some extra mileage. While the run was about the same as the previous week, the heat sucked the life out of me. I was toast. Saturday was hot and humid and I felt sluggish all day. I went to my niece’s birthday party, and felt lousy. Ugh! “How am I going to run 8 hours?", I thought. I spent some time at Dawn’s in the evening, and then tried to get ready for the run. I wanted to wake up at 4:30 to get started before the heat got bad. The humidity and loud neighbors kept me awake most of the night, so I was dragging when the morning arrived.

The sky was overcast and it was spitting some light rain. The plan was to get in a couple hours and meet Goat and 7:30. I didn’t get started until just before 6, so I decided to do my 9 mile out and back ridge run which parallel’s the Metacomet trail. I was sucking wind from the start and thought, “This is going to be a long day”. I did the run in a little under 90 minutes and met the Goat on time. I still did not feel energetic, and my feet were very sore. The Goat and I headed off toward Heublein Tower and hiked most of the trail to the top. The conversation was good and it was nice to have some company. I could feel the humidity easing up a bit, and I was starting to feel decent. I did 12 miles with the Goat, and then it was back to solo running.

I grabbed the iPod and used it for another 9 mile ridge run. I stopped for refueling at the car, and my feet were really sore from the pounding on the rocks. The music was not doing it for me, so I ditched the tunes and headed for the Tower again. As the miles clicked by, I started feeling better about things. The temp was good (low 70’s) despite the humidity, and I felt strong. I decided to run most of the trail to the tower, and was pleased with the results. No views to be had today, so back down to the car. By now, I was at 37 miles and feeling good. Wow!

I had a great surprise on the last lap by running into Dawn, and she did the last 4-5 miles with me.

This run was a great confidence builder for the race because I did not bonk at all. Other than my feet being super tender, I felt good the whole way. I’m very encouraged about my progress with 3 weeks of hard training left.

Dawn and the girls made a great Father's Day dinner for me and I felt like a king! We even had chocolate cake for dessert. What a great day!

Thanks to the Goat, Bubba, and Dawn for great running company this week.

Weekly Recap -
Monday – rest
Tuesday – 18 or so miles, 2:30…felt good despite the heat/humidity
Wednesday – Recovery run with my brother, Bubba…8 miles, 1:45…some single track, and Bubba had a groin pull.
Thursday – Speedwork, 4x1mile repeats, 11.5 miles total. Felt good, but got sun-burnt.
Friday – 20 miles, 2:35. Felt spent afterwards. Very warm.
Saturday – rest
Sunday – 45 miles, 8 hrs – felt good.
Total – 102 miles …felt like a solid week.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Here we go!

There are less than 6 weeks until the Vermont 100, and I’m really getting excited. My training has been going well, and I learn more everyday. I’m grateful for the ability to run and to have the time to train for this event. I’ve put a lot of things “on hold” as I prepare for this race, and now it’s less than 40 days until the big day. The Western States folks are putting the finishing touches on their training and beginning to taper, and I am hitting the biggest mileage weeks of my running life. This past week was almost a 100 mile week for me, and I’m grateful that I was able to make it happen.

Here’s a quick list of other items that I have gained an appreciation for during this training effort:

1. Thanks to my family, friends and co-workers for supporting me in my endeavors to adventure into new territory in body, mind, and spirit.
2. Thanks to Dawn for the support, encouragement, massages, companionship, great food, and overall great coordinator of things. Dawn will be crewing for me this year, and has already been a huge help with the planning.
3. Thanks to all the running partners I’ve had the chance to share the road with this year. Some new partners like Matt Estes, Scott Turco, Mark Buongiorno, and others, and some old partners like The Goat, Ray Wise, Stan the Man, and the Reach the Beach Team. I’m looking forward to connecting with more folks (some old and some new) over the next several weeks as we get ready for this race.

The list could go on forever, and I’m sure I left out some big ones. Anyway, thanks to everyone!

What have I learned recently?

1. Ultrarunning is something special! It allows one to explore the depths of themselves as well as bring folks together. There’s a magic in the air as the race approaches…it’s fun to share the magic!
2. 100 miles (98 actually) in a week is possible despite work and home life. My body did not explode, but my mind is kinda mush. At one time I thought my body could not handle it, and I was wrong. When Matt told me about his 100 mile training weeks, I did not think it was possible while working in a corporate job, etc. Well, it is possible! I did not think it was possible to do speed work with such high mileage. Guess what? It is possible!
3. I learned that I can live on a Vegan diet and run as fast as I have ever run in my life. We’re still tweaking the diet, so I won’t elaborate much more. One thing is certain – my recovery is amazing now.
4. I learned that everyone has fears, hopes, and dreams in these events, and we do better by supporting each other in our efforts to excel! Also, find the humor in all of it. It makes the runs easier and more fun!
5. The race is within ourselves and not with others. It doesn’t matter what place you come in or how fast you go. What’s important is the satisfaction you draw from it and the enjoyment you can bring to others through the sharing of your experience.

I don’t know what the next 6 weeks will bring, but I will be grateful and enjoy the adventure. I will learn and grow, and continue to share the experience with others.

As Bill Bowerman once said, “If you can find meaning in the kind of running you will need to do to be on this team, you may also find meaning in one of our other favorite past times…“Life”.

Bring it on! Let's go!

Weekly recap –

Monday – Rest
Tuesday – 19 miles at the reservoir after work – Sweet Run – a bit too fast
Wednesday – 8.5 mile recovery run on roads near home
Thursday – Speed work – 4x1mile. Total 11.5 miles
Friday – 20 hilly miles at reservoir (sub 8 min pace) – felt very good
Saturday – Easy jog – 3.5 miles
Sunday – 35.5 miles on Northern Nipmuck – very hilly, single track 7:23 very hot
Total – 98 miles

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Stan the Man

The past week has been full of ups and downs in my training, but overall I'm very pleased with my recovery from the Pineland Farms Race. It's been a little tough getting out for workouts and motivation is hard to come by at times. I always try to find running partners and today I was lucky enough to have one. Stan is one of my Reach the Beach teammates, and lives nearby. We had talked about running together several times, but never seemed to get together. We connected after he checked out last week's race report, and arranged to run this morning. I had good runs of 11 and 16 miles on Thursday and Friday, and felt I was well recovered from the race. On Saturday, I wanted to go slower and get some time on my feet, so decided to run a very technical section of the Metacomet trail. After almost 4 hours of flailing, I had only covered 17 miles. I was beat, my feet hurt, and my mind was not into it. I decided to cut the run short and go home. So, I was really excited about running with Stan today. I was tired of solo running, and was glad to be able to catch up on things with Stan.

As luck would have it, we both wore the same RTB relay shirt from 3 years ago with blue shorts, so we looked like total running geeks. Go figure! Anyway, I took Stan on the standard 8 mile loop, and we moved along quite well. Stan talked about his run at the Marine Corp marathon last Fall, and his current training plans. He's planning to do the Hartford Marathon this year, so will be ramping up his mileage soon. Stan is one of the nicest people I have ever met, and it was a pleasure to run with him. After we finished the loop, I refueled and decided to do a cool down. After 1 mile, I felt so good that I decided to run another loop. I reflected on our conversation and took in the great weather. It was fun to run again!

Note: I'm always looking for training partners. If anyone out there wants to join me for any type of mileage, please drop me a line. I really enjoy the company!

Weekly Mileage:
Monday - rest
Tuesday - 3 miles, cross-training
Wed - Cross-training
Thursday - 11.5 miles, 1:20+/- tempo
Friday - 16 miles, 2:00 - moderate
Saturday - 17.5 miles, 3:45 - slow, grueling
Sunday - 17 miles, 2:15 - moderate
Weekly total - 65 miles