Saturday, January 31, 2009

Cobble Mountain Snowshoe Race Report

Today I drove 2 hours north to Gunstock Resort in Gilford, NH to run my first snowshoe race, The Cobble Mountain Snowshoe Classic 6K. Cobble Mountain is the 2nd race in the Granite State Snowshoe Race Series. A few miles out from Gunstock I was stopped at a red light when someone behind me honked their horn. I looked in the rear-view mirror and saw it was fellow Dungeon Rock Racing teammates Bill M, Dan C and Steph C. Before long we were parked and heading to the registration area to pick up our race numbers.

Most snowshoe races are bare-boned events. Registration often takes place at a table set up in the middle of the woods. This race was different. Registration was in a very large, heated cabin. It was awesome to be able to stay warm before and after the race and to have a place to store your gear. Registration went smoothly and I began preparing myself for the race.

Big Stu's ready to rumble!

Pre-race warm up.
The Race:
The race started on groomed cross-country trails and after a short descent began a long gradual uphill. I expected the groomed trails to be much firmer than they were but I suspect the 1.5 feet of new powder that fell a few days earlier made for the spongy trail conditions. After the long uphill there was a long descent and I started passing several runners. It was difficult to get any real traction in the spongy, uneven snow but I was feeling pretty good at this time.

The feeling didn’t last for long as the next 1.5 kilometers were a series of uphills followed by a flat section followed by more uphills. In fact, there was so much elevation gain that I was beginning to think this was The Hill, Cobble Mountain, but it wasn't. This was just a warm up for the real McCoy. At 2 kilometers the course turned left into the woods for a twisting single-track bushwhack through knee deep powder. Although the snow was very soft it wasn't that bad because the terrain was mostly flat. After the single-track, it was back onto the groomed cross-country trail.

At 3 km the course turned again for more single track running in the woods. It didn’t take long for it to hit me; this was the climb up Cobble Mountain! It was on this long, steep, twisting climb that I really began to struggle. It was impossible for me to run up this mountain. The best I could do was to power hike it. The climb was so steep, and the snow so soft, that the runners before me left indentations in the snow that resembled steps. By placing my snowshoes in these “steps” I was able to make the climb a little easier.

I kept glancing over my shoulder to see if anyone was behind me. There was a string of runners to my rear but each time I looked back they did not appear to be gaining any ground on me. I really wanted to get off this mountain but each time I looked up all I could see was the sky and more trees. Would this monster ever end? I’m not sure how long, or how high this climb was but I know I was on the side of this mountain for at least 5-7 minutes. Finally, I reached the top and the RDs dad was there to offer some encouragement.

The descent down Cobble Mountain was insane! It was very steep, the snow was very deep, and the single-track snaked its way to the bottom. On the steepest sections I leaned back on my snowshoes and actually skied down the trail! Although this made for a very fast descent I had no control over my direction. This was dangerous since the trail had many sharp turns. I had to be very careful to stay in the blazed trail because one step outside the single track would surely have resulted in me being swallowed up waist deep in the powder. This was my favorite part of the race ;-)

At the bottom of Cobble Mountain was the 4 km mark and the course turned back onto the groomed cross-country trail. The trail was shaded here and the snow was much firmer. I started to recover a bit and I picked up my pace on a very long downhill section. I don't remember much about the race between kilometers 4 and 5. I guess I just zoned out. With about 1/4 mile to go there was one last hill to climb. I tried to run it but could only made it about halfway before I had to walk. After cresting the hill I ran down to an open field and could see the finish line about 200 yards away. The snow was very soft in the field but I sprinted as fast as I could to the finish crossing the line in 51:31. I felt like I was going to vomit. I wouldn’t think that was possible from running a 14 minute pace!

Race Director, Chris J. Dunn did a great job of marking the course, recruiting awesome volunteers and obtaining numerous sponsors. The post race raffle included a pair of Kahtoola snowshoes, 12 packs of Red Hook beer, 22 oz bottles of Double Black stout, YakTraxs, hats, a subscription to Trail Runner magazine and lots of other swag. Several members of Dungeon Rock Racing walked away with 12 packs of Red Hook, bottles of DB stout and Art was the lucky winner of the Kahtoola snowshoes!

Steph finishing with a smile.

Art finishing strong.

After the race, I met Jim Johnson, aka Double J Running, the winner of the first two Granite State Series races and a top finisher in several WMAC/Dion races as well this year. He is one of the best shoers in New England. Jim is a very cool guy, friendly, easy to talk with, and not a hint of cockiness. I wish him well at next weekend’s races.

Although team DRR was missing their top guns, Crystal Anthony and Chris Smith, we managed to get two shoers on the podium. Patrick Smith was first Master’s and Mike Doyle placed third in the Masters division. Mike ran a great race and I believe this is only his first snowshoe race! Patrick also won the Master’s Division at the Pooh Hill race. Congratulations to both of them. Once again DRR placed second in the team division behind Acidotic Racing. Acidotic combined speed up front (six finishers in the top ten) and team turnout (21 total racers) to take the title.

Acidotic may have the finished with the most points, but DRR has more beer! (Photo courtesy of Patrick Smith)

Here are a few things I learned from my first snowshoe race.
1. As hard as you think racing is snowshoes would be; it’s even harder than that.
2. Mankind (that includes you ladies) was not meant to run in snowshoes.
3. Uphills are my enemy.
4. Mountains are my mortal enemy.
5. Snowshoes make bad skis.
6. Snowshoe racing is fun, I think…maybe.

Next up: Frosty’s Dash for a Cure 5k.

Until next time…..

Friday, January 30, 2009

Winter Running?

Enough already! This snowy, winter weather is really hampering my training. It’s not that I don’t like training in the winter. It’s just that I am having a hard time finding places to run. I still have a bad case of plantar fasciitis in both feet so running on pavement is not an option. I have tired a few times to run on the roads. Each time I do, my feet are sore for a week. Without roads, my only other option is the treadmill or trails. The treadmill hurts my feet almost as much as the roads and the trails are buried in snow. I have been able to get to the trails on the weekends for some snowshoe running but that isn’t possible during the week when you work in one of the most congested areas in the City of Boston.

I know taking a break from hard training is good but I’ve had enough rest already. I ran less than 60 miles in December and I’ll run less than 100 miles this month. I am rethinking my goal for The Fells Race, my first trail race of the 2009 season. I was aiming for 3-4 loops (24 – 32 miles) on the Skyline Trail but my poor training, particularly the lack of long runs, has caused me to lower my goal. I’ll be happy with 16 miles on this rugged trail.

On a positive note, January 2009 will be a better month than January 2008. Last year I returned to running after a 7 month hiatus due to several medical issues. I only ran 12 miles in January of 2008 so I’m way ahead of where I was last year at this time. And last year turned out pretty well after all.

It’s Friday!

PS: This is my 100th post!!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Grand Tree Trail Race Series Schedule For 2009

With several inches (feet) of snow on the ground depending where you live, and more snow falling as I write this, thoughts of spring are filling my head with the release of the 2009 Grand Tree Trail Race Series schedule. It's time to start putting together my tentative trail race plans for this year. I know, I still have a few snowshoe races to run over the next 4 weeks but who can resist thinking about warmer temperatures and running through green forests!

Not all the race sites have been updated for 2009 as of today so I won't post any links until most of them are available. I'm bummed that Northern Nipmuck and Merrimack River are on the same day. I wanted to do both. I'm also disappointed that Diamond Hill is not on the schedule. It's a nice course and home of my first trail race so it holds some sentimental value. Those who know me well, know how sensitive I am. No laughing!

Ok, here is the complete list of 24 races for the coming year. Shake off those winter blues and start planning!
  1. 4.11.09 Northern Nipmuck 16M

  2. 4.11.09 Merrimack River 10M

  3. 4.26.09 Muddy Moose 14M

  4. 5.03.09 Seven Sisters 12M

  5. 5.09.09 MoFun Wapack 50M, 42M, 21M (Choose your poison)

  6. 5.17.09 Soapstone Mountain 14.5M

  7. 6.07.09 Northern Nipmuck Marathon (Has an entry requirement)

  8. 6.13.09 Northfield Mountain 10.3K (NE Trail Championships)

  9. 6.21.09 Greylock Trail Race 13.5M

  10. 6.28.09 Cranmore Hill Climb 13.5K (USA Mountain Championships)

  11. 7.12.09 Skyline Trail Race 7.2M

  12. 8.01.09 People's Forest Trail 7M

  13. 8.08.09 Oxford Dam Race 10.5M

  14. 8.16.09 Savoy Mountain 22M

  15. 8.23.09 Mt. Toby 14M

  16. 8.30.09 Wapack 17.5M

  17. 9.13.09 Pisgah 50K, 23K

  18. 9.20.09 Curly's Marathon, 1/2 Marathon

  19. 10.04.09 Breakneck 20K

  20. 10.11.09 Monroe Dunbar Brook 10.5M

  21. 10.18.09 Groton Forest 9.5M

  22. 10.25.09 Hairy Gorilla Half Marathon

  23. 11.01.09 Busa Bushwack 15K

  24. 11.??.09 Stone Cat 50M, 26.2M

A Great Ultramarathon Resource

I don't usually promote websites here but I recently found a great one for anyone interested in ultramarathons. The website is The Ultramarathon Store. This website makes it very easy to locate a race that fits into your training and racing schedule by listing every ultra in the USA by date, state and distance, with a direct link to the race website. The Ultramarathon Store also has links to sites dedicated to ultra running. The topics include, training plans for every ultra distance, forums, groups, blogs and many more. I think you will find this site to be a good reference tool.

Keep training.....

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Dungeon Rock Racing Group Run

This morning, I made my way north to Andover, MA to meet up with a group of runners from Dungeon Rock Racing for their weekly snowshoe training run. We were meeting at the Merrimack River Trail head, home of the Grand Tree Trail Race Series, Merrimack River 10 mile trail race in April. As I was having my morning coffee I checked the current temperature in Andover. It was 3 degrees! By far, this would be the coldest training day of the year for me.

I arrived at the trail head about 20 minutes early, a rare occurrence for me to be first to show. After sitting in my trunk of a while, listening to a Dave Matthews CD,the cars began streaming into the parking lot. Bill, Patrick, Dan C, Jay, Big Stu and Liza were the only ones willing to brave the cold on this sunny, Sunday morning. I expected a bigger turnout but the long drive may have keep some of the other team members away. I was anxious to get started. I wanted to try my new Dion 133B snowshoes that Bill picked up for me recently. I knew they would be a huge improvement over my Tubbs Ventures and should make the shoeing a little easier and way more fun.

The trail was in good shape and it appeared there had been a lot of xc skiing activity on the trail recently. The skiers had carved a neat 15-18 inch wide track though the soft powder and compacted the snow to some degree. The early going was a little rough as the track was very uneven, almost lumpy in spots. We soon approached the Route 93 overpass that spans the Merrimack River. In trail shoes we would have gone under the overpass running over the huge stone blocks that support the bridge and retain the earth in place. On snowshoes this was not an option since doing so would do serious damage to our snowshoes. We instead descended the river bank and ran onto the frozen riven. This sort of wigged me out a little and I stayed as close to the bank as possible. The ice creaked and cracked with each step and I was relieved when I got passed the bridge and back up on solid ground. Geez, I'll have to do that again on the way back!

I began to tire fairly quickly due to the trail surface and the fast pace being set by the more experienced shoers. I decided to slow down or else I would have no chance or making the 6 - 7 miles planned for the run. Once I backed off to a manageable pace, I started to feel more comfortable on the shoes and got into a good rhythm. I settled in near the back of the pack and enjoyed the views of the river and the surrounding trail. I had never seen the river in winter. It appeared that ice that formed on the river must have thawed and then refrozen. The river current then must have churned up chunks of ice making for an uneven surface on the river. These jagged surfaces were then covered with a layer of powder making the river resemble a lunar landscape. Pretty awesome sight!

Capt. Bill

About 3 miles into the run the lead group took a break to let everyone else catch up. There was some discussion about going on to the power lines before turning back. I knew that was about another mile up the trail and I wasn't sure about going that far. My previous, long run on snowshoes was 3.3 miles. I was already looking at a 6 mile run from this point so I was fine with going back now. It was decided we would go on another 5 minutes or so and then turn around.

I maintained a steady pace and was feeling pretty good on the way back. I was expecting to fade at any moment but it never happened. I'm sure wearing the lighter snowshoes helped a great deal. After doing this run today I think I am ready for the Cobble Mountain Snowshoe Race next weekend. Sure, I know I wont be fast but at least I know I can go the distance.

Weekly Re-Cap:

Total Miles: 24

# of Runs: 5

Avg Miles: 4.8

Trail Miles: 42%

Monday, January 19, 2009

Cabin Fever

Against my better judgment I went for a run today. I still have a heck of a cold, and resting would have served me well, but I am at times my own worse enemy. After three idle days I was getting cabin fever and 12 inches of new fallen snow was too tempting to leave undisturbed. I grabbed my snowshoes and drove the short distance to Breakheart Reservation to break a trail. I was getting a very late start but still plenty of daylight ahead.

It didn’t take long for me to feel the effects of this week long cold I’ve been fighting. On the first major hill climb I had trouble taking in enough oxygen. It seemed like my lungs were working at 60% efficiency. After slowly making my way to the top I turned off into some deep powder on Ash Path. Running here required a high knee lift to make any forward motion.

My pace was slow but the effort high. About half way through the run I started coughing up some nasty looking greenish-yellow “stuff”. I guess its better out than in! I started to second guess myself, wondering if this was worth it. On the way back I came across a x-country skier but other than her, I had the woods to myself. I thought I might have bumped into my friend Streph but he's one to get his workout done early in the day.

Don't get lost


I only managed 3 miles but it felt longer. Sure was glad when I finished.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Worthy Cause

I have a friend who is raising money for pediatric cancer research as she trains for her first Boston marathon. Please take a moment to read her story below and make a donation to this worthy cause. (See Firstgiving widget in right column to make a pledge) Thanks!

Dear family, friends and colleagues,

I am running the Boston Marathon this April and am asking for your support. My goal as a member of Mass General’s marathon team is to raise awareness of the amazing work undertaken by MGH’s Pediatric Cancer Research and find sponsors who can contribute to this cause. This is both my first marathon and my first experience as a fundraiser. I have been training hard with two other runners from Arlington (we do a weekly long run together on Saturdays – this week’s will be our longest yet…18 miles). My training friends (the two Sues) and I are also planning a fundraising kids’ concert with a popular local band. While we expect this to be a successful event, our challenge is to raise $3,000 each in order to be official MGH team members (and to run the race “officially”). So you can see…though I’m well on my way to fulfilling my goal of competing in one of the world’s most prestigious marathons while raising money to help children win their struggle against cancer, I still need your help.

To further encourage your support, everyone who donates money, regardless of the amount, will be included in a raffle. Three lucky winners will receive: 1) $100 Target gift card, 2) $50 Starbucks gift card and 3) $ 25 Starbucks gift card.

If interested, you can read about my training at

Thank you very much and please forward this link to anyone you think might be interested in supporting this cause

Weekly Training Update - 1/12 - 1/18

I developed a severe cold after running a 30K at the GAC Fat Ass last Saturday. On Monday, I did a 45 minute snowshoe run in the deep powder covering the trails in Breakheart. That only seemed to worsen my symptoms. Didn't get much sleep all week because I was either coughing all night or I couldn't breath through my seriously stuffed sinuses. I did two more short runs hoping it would help clear things up but it didn't happen. More sleep, some extra vitamin C and a few more days off are in order. A disappointing week for sure.

Total Miles: 10.3
# of Runs: 3
Avg Miles: 3.5

Now, more snow to shovel..........

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

G.A.C. Fat Ass - No Fees, No Awards, No Wimps

Have you ever wondered why you do some of the things you do? I was in this state of mind as I stood at the starting line of the 11th annual (Coach Gilly thinks it’s only the 10th) running of the G.A.C. Fat Ass 50K at Bradley Palmer State Park in Topsfield, MA. It’s easy to question your thought process when the temperature is a windy 17 degrees and you’re wearing nothing but a long-sleeve shirt and pants, a headband and gloves. I quickly got over this foolishness and took pride knowing the tradition of the hearty New Englander lives on in me and the 80 to 90 other trail animals toeing the line on this frosty morning.

The FA course is a pleasant mix of single and double track trails, open fields and a short stretch of pavement, all neatly wrapped up in a wheel-measured 10K loop. The terrain is tame by most standards but it does include one long, steady climb along twisty single track to the top of Moon Hill. (UPDATE: it's just an unnamed hill, not Moon Hill) This was my favorite section of the race, except when I was getting tired on my 3rd loop ;-) Although the race course is relatively easy the difficulty of the run was bumped up a notch due to the snow and ice covering the entire route.

This is a low key event, no entry fees and no numbers. Runners were asked to make a donation to the aid station table which made for a vast variety of tasty treats, a hallmark of all GAC races. The registration process consisted of writing your name on a blank sheet of paper. At the end of each loop you had to check in with one of the volunteers so you could get credit for completing the 6.2 miles. I imagine this also served as a way of keeping tabs on who was out on the course in case someone went missing. Getting lost would be a difficult task as the course was well marked with bright orange ribbons and flags. These markers really stood out against the pure, white backdrop of snow.

My friend Kevin Z and I had planned to run at Bradley Palmer a couple of times during the past few weeks to check out the course but the weather never cooperated. We finally got our opportunity on race day and it was worth the wait. The course was very runable despite the snow and ice. In fact, running on the icy patches was easier than running in the soft snow. The sheet metal screws in the soles of my Brooks Cascadias gave me excellent traction on the treacherous ice. Most of the runners I saw had some type of traction aid like Yaktraxs, Kahtoota microspikes or screws. These were a real help navigating icy stretches of trail but were useless in the open fields. In the fields, the powdery snow was so dry that even after hours of trampling by thousands of footsteps it never compacted. In some of the deeper areas it felt as though you were running in mashed potatoes. At one point Kevin sunk past his knees in the white stuff.

The race served as a good training run and we maintained a fairly even pace on the first two laps. We were in no way pushing the pace, just enjoying the scenery and stopping to take some pictures along the way. We finished the 1st 10K in 1:11:45 and the second loop in 1:08:29. We stopped at the aid table after each lap to sample some of the goodies. I had the best ever molasses cookie, made nice and chewy by the cold air. Yummy! On the 3rd and final loop we started to tire. The open fields that were tough going on fresh legs were getting very difficult to run with fatigued quads. We slowed to 1:14:01 on the final loop that included a lot of walking breaks.

I was very pleased with this run and happy that Kevin motivated me to do a 3rd loop. I was ready to bail after two! Even after six weeks of minimal mileage I was able to dig down and pull off a 30K in snow. Not bad. I guess I’m in better shape than I had assumed. I will be resting most of the upcoming week to see if I can shake this vicious cold in my head and chest. For anyone keeping score, Kevin Sullivan must have melted some ice blazing his way to a first place 50K finish in 4:03:30. And this was just a training run as he preps for the Western States 100 this summer. Nice job Kevin! Paul Young was 1st master and 2nd place overall.

Also, a special thanks to race director Roger Martell and all the volunteers who braved the cold weather for hours so we could enjoy a beautiful day of running on the trails.

Ok, now where’s the remote?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Pooh Hill Snowshoe Scramble - Race Report

Team Dungeon Rock Racing was well represented this past weekend at the Pooh Hill 8.5K Scramble, race #1 on the Granite State Snowshoe Race Series. Ten shoers from DRR made the trek to East Madison, NH where the race was held at King Pine & Purity Spring Resort. Trail conditions were ideal for a fast race with sunny skies and a "chilly" 5 degrees. This would be a barn burner!

The race course started on wide, groomed trails before it dropped down to and across a section on Purity Lake. A short section of up and down single track brought the racers to the 4K mark and the most difficult part of the course, the climb up Pooh Hill. This reduced everyone, including race winner Jim Johnson of CMS, to a power hike to the summit. The descent down Pooh Hill was more of a bush-whack through ungroomed backcountry trails. Once back out on the groomed access road it was smooth sailing to the finish. The only obstacle that remained was a final climb around the 8K mark. Race director Chris Dunn is a cruel man!

Team DRR looked strong in their inaugural race placing three shoers in the top ten. Christopher Smith was 3rd overall followed closely by teammate Crystal Anthony, 4th overall and 1st female. Way to go Crystal! Patrick Smith of DRR finished 10th overall and was 1st master. He’s not getting older, he’s getting better! Despite the strong performances of Christopher, Crystal, Patrick and team members Eileen, Art, Bill, Dan, Dave, Jay and Sal, DRR could not hold off Team Acidotic Racing and finished a close second in the Team category. Acidoticracing had 16 racers toe the starting line and that was too much for the 10 member team of DRR to overcome. (All racers earn points in the team competition). Still, it was a great start to the snowshoe racing season and the future looks bright for this upstart team.

Complete Results: Here --- Race Photos: Here

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Dungeon Rock Racing - Origins

I was asked recently if I would like to become a member of the newly formed Dungeon Rock Racing (DRR) Snowshoe Team to which I gratefully accepted. Last winter I had expressed an interest in snowshow racing to one of the founding members of DRR. I never was able to race last year because of my injuries but this year I agreed to represent the team in at least three races in the Granite State Snowshoe Race Series. I'm looking forward to the fun and rewards of team racing. It's been many years since I've been involved with one.

A little history lesson from Dan C. Last year a core group of North Shore athletes participated in both WMAC's snowshoe series and Acidotic's new snowshoe series. Acidotic's series included a "team" category for each race and for the overall series. As most of the current DRR team members were, and still are... extremely loyal to their respective teams and clubs (Team Comprehensive, Wicked Running, North Shore Striders, WMAC, etc.) we failed to recognize the potential benefit of combining our crazy band into one North Shore snowshoe "team". So after placing 2nd, 4th, and 5th (various teams) in the final standings we decided to create Dungeon Rock Racing, named after the famed location in our beloved Lynn Woods. In a nutshell, DRR is simply "team" racing/training for the love of snowshoeing. There is no membership fee; we don't have board officers, time qualifying standards, etc. What we will ask of you if you are interested in racing for the DRR Snowshoe team is that:

* You participate in at least one formal snowshoe event (WMAC, Acidotic, etc.) during the season (December - March).
* As a rep of DRR you behave in a sportsman(woman) like fashion at all times offering support and encouragement to all participants regardless of skill or perceived ability.
* You extend the utmost respect to the respective race director, respect and thank volunteers, and follow all rules/regulations as indicated; and it should go without saying, you have fun!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Weekly Training Update - 1/5 -1/11

Monday: no running.

Tuesday: 4.0 miles, 10:16 pace – My usual lunch time run to the park a half mile from where I work. I thought there would have been more snow melt in Boston compared to where I live on the North Shore but I was wrong. Once I got to the park it was mostly hard-packed snow and ice. I wasn't wearing my screw shoes so the going was slow in my Merrell Overdrives. I've had a few spills lately so I took it easy not wanting to risk any more injuries. The weather was almost perfect, just a little too much wind. I felt sluggish the entire run but would have gone longer if the footing was better. Expecting snow, sleet and freezing rain tomorrow so I will probably take the day off.

Wednesday: Snow, sheet and freezing rain as forecasted, no running.

Thursday: 2.4 miles, 10:17 pace - A pretty crappy run today. Ran from work to the park but it was covered in snow and ice from Wednesdays storm. I did one loop around the park and went back to work. No need to risk a fall with the tricky footing. (Note to self - bring screw shoes tomorrow.)

Friday: 3.7 miles, 9:31 pace - Another run from work around the park. Man is this getting boring. The sidewalks are clear but due do to my plantar fasciitis I have to avoid the concrete and run at the park. It's too bad because I have some pretty interesting running routes around Boston, Brookline, Jamaica Plain and Chestnut Hill..... maybe someday. Still lots of ice around the park but I wore my Cascadia 3 screw shoes and traction was not an issue like yesterday. Still the running was difficult because all the ruts caused by pedestrian traffic had frozen and the running surface was very uneven. I'm glad it's Friday so I can get out of the city and run in the woods over the weekend.

Saturday: 18.6 miles, 11:00 pace - Ran three, 10K loops with Kevin Z at the GAC Fat Ass in Topsfield, MA. A very cold and windy morning but at least the sun was shinning. Running in deep, powdery snow is exhausting! I am way under trained to be running a 30K but sometimes it's hard to quit even when you know you should. I'll post a complete report soon. Note: the new picture with my blog title was taken yesterday during the race. Beautiful scene!

Sunday: no running.......More Snow!! I've lost count, but I think this is the 5th storm of the season with measurable snow. It's going to be a long winter.

Weekly Re-Cap:

Total Miles: 29
# of Runs: 4
Avg. Miles: 7.2
Trail Miles: 65%

Monday, January 5, 2009

Weekly Training Update 12/29 - 1/4

Monday: 7.3 miles, 11:26 pace - After thrashing through the ice, snow, mud and water with RunninRob over the weekend I went back to Breakheart Reservation for more of the same. I had no real plan for the number of miles I wanted to run or what trails I would explore. I just sort of meandered my way around until I was wet and muddy enough to call it quits. I stopped at a water crossing and moved some boulders I found nearby to make some stepping stones across the brook. That really contributed to the wet and muddy factor. After playing in the brook for 15 minutes I started to get chilled so I ran back to my truck and called it a day. I felt some groin pain on the run indicating my SI joint is weak again. I’ll need to be careful about my activities over the next few days. No more excavating this week!

Tuesday: 4.0 miles, 10:16 pace – This was my usual lunch time run down Brookline Ave. in Boston over to the park that sits between Park Drive and the Fenway/Riverway. Nothing special, just two laps around the park and back to work. Still some slight groin pain.

Wednesday: no running.

Thursday: 2.9 miles on snowshoes, 11:41 pace – I drove to Breakheart for a short snowshoe run. The snow was light powder and didn’t offer much flotation. I ran on the 2.9 mile outer loop that includes some challenging, rolling hills in the second half. I was pretty wiped out when I finished. I have to say running in my Tubbs makes me feel like one. Happy New Year!

Friday: 5.8 miles, 9:05 pace – I had the day off so I drove back to Breakheart for a run. I was planning another snowshoe run but when I got to the parking lot I noticed the paved path (road) had been plowed. Instead of strapping on my snowshoes I laced up my Cascadia screw shoes and prepared for a run. This put a smile on my face since I wasn’t looking forward to killing myself on the snowshoes two days in a row. Although the road was paved it was still covered with hard-packed snow and ice in some spots. The screw shoes work great on this type of surface. I ran the outer loop twice making this a good hill workout. My arches were a little sore when I finished and stayed that way through the weekend. Damn plantar fasciitis!

Saturday: no running

Sunday: 4.4 miles on snowshoes, 10:57 pace. Met a bunch of people from Dungeon Rock Racing (a post on DDR is in the works) at Lynn Woods for some snowshoe training. Capt. Bill was gracious enough to let me use an extra pair of Dion 133 snowshoes for the workout. Boy what a difference!! Compared to my heavy, bulky Tubbs, these Dions felt sleek and fast. Not a lot of snow on the ground so you had to be on the lookout for large rocks and roots. There were many beginners on this run, including myself, but there was no pressure to hang with the big dogs. Everyone ran their own pace and met back at the parking lot for a post-run chat. This was the first time I felt good on snowshoes but I still have a long way to go before I can race with these things on my feet!

Weekly Re-Cap:
Total Miles: 24
# of Runs: 5
Avg. Miles: 4.5
Trail Miles: 60%

Trail shoes or snow shoes? I'll let the weather decide....

Friday, January 2, 2009

2008 - A Year End Review

I ended 2008 with nearly 1200 miles of training and racing. That is pretty amazing considering how I started the year. Plantar fasciitis, an imbalance of my sacro-iliac joint and neck pain prevented me from running a step during the last 6 months of 2007. After 38 years of running I was beginning to think I was done for good. Even then I wasn't quite ready to give up.

On a cold January evening while out for a walk I decided to jog for 1 minute to see how I would feel. Nothing hurt any more than usual so after walking for a minute I jogged for another. I continued this walk/jog pattern for 20 minutes assessing how my body was reacting to the increased stress. This is how my journey from the abyss started, one minute at a time.

I made slow but steady progress throughout the year. I increased my mileage in small increments, added some short trail races and started a long training buildup for a fall marathon. Things didn't always go smoothly and I did have setbacks when my symptoms worsened, but I never gave up on my goal to run the Stone Cat Marathon. My persistence would be rewarded. On a wet, mild morning in November, I completed my first trail marathon in 4:26!

- Finished the Stone Cat Marathon under my time goal and survived the Wapack Trail Race.
- Met some great people on the trail. A few became new friends and fellow racing warriors.
- Started snowshoe running. This should help me make it through my winter doldrums.

- Still plagued with PF and neck pain.
- Can't run of pavement making it difficult to train at times.
- Did not complete my first Ultra due to an ankle injury.

Overall I am pleased with what I DID accomplish in 2008. I am looking ahead to 2009 and hope to follow a path to improved health, consistent training and faster racing.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

2009 Mountain and Trail Race Schedule - Complete Listing

08.29.09 Thomas Chamberas 6K XC - ENE Race #10

09.06.09 Wapack Trail 17.5M - GT Race #15 & ENE Race #11

09.13.09 Farnum Five.5 5.5M -- WNH Race #6

09.13.09 Overlook Trail 7M - ENE Race #12

09.13.09 Pisgah Mountain 50K & 23K - GT Race # 16

09.20.09 Curly's Marathon - GT Race #17

09.20.09 Kimet Cliff Run - ENE Race #13

10.04.09 Houghton Pond 6M - ENE Race #14

10.04.09 Breakneck 20K - GT Race #18

10.10.09 A Pleasant Climb 12.5K - WNH Race #7 & ENE Race #16

10.11.09 Monroe Dunbar 10.5M GT Race #19

10.11.09 Wayland 5K XC - ENE Race #17

10.18.09 Ravenswood 4M - ENE Race #18

10.25.09 Groton Town Forest 9.5M - GT Race #20 & ENE Race #19

10.25.09 Ghost Train Rail Trail Race15M
11.01.09 Templeton 7M - ENE Race #20

11.01.09 Busa Bushwhack 15K GT Race #20 & ENE Race #21
11.07.09 Stone Cat Marathon and 50M - GT Race #22

11.07.09 Jack London 10K

11.22.09 Lil' Rhody Runaround 8M - ENE Race #24

2009 NE, NY and NJ Ultra Marathon Race Schedule

08.30.09 Green Lakes Endurance Runs 100K & 50K NY

09.13.09 Pisgah Mountain 50K NH

09.19.09 Iroquois Trails 100M & 50M NY

09.27.09 Vermont 50M & 50K

10.10.09 Can Lake 50M & 50K (Road) NY

10.17.09 Maine Track Club 50M & 50K ME

10.17.09 Mountain Madness 50K NJ

10.25.06 Bimbler's Bluff 50K CT

11.07.09 Stone Cat Ale 50M MA

11.15.09 Rhode Island 6 Hour (Road)

Date TBA - Trail Animals 50M MA
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