Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lynn Woods Run

Another Wednesday, another tempo run in Lynn Woods and another mad dash through Boston’s rush hour traffic. I made it to the woods 10 minutes before the start of the race despite leaving work 15 minutes early. Sometimes I wonder if trying to run a race from work is worth the stress involved in getting there. Once the run starts I forget all about the horrendous drive so I guess it’s worth it, maybe.

There was another good turnout for the race (127 runners) including the Lynn Woods Crew and several folks from GAC. I thought I might see Michelle or Emily this week but they weren’t there. I did see Paul Y who had just finished up a 2.5 mile warm up. I was happy to catch up with him after the race. It’s the first time our paths have crossed since Northern Nipmuck in early April. A cool guy and a fast runner!

It was wet, humid and still misting when the race started. The eighth mile course was mainly on dirt fire roads with one extended section of single-track on Boulder Path. The footing was good overall and really not much mud considering it has been raining off and on for four days. I went out slow like I have in the past few runs here. I just wanted to run 8 something pace and not get caught up in racing other runners.

After passing several runners in the first 1.5 miles I found myself in no-mans land. There was a large group of runners about 50 yards ahead of me. Their pace was just slightly faster than mine and I considered pushing it hard to close the gap and then try to hang with them for the rest of the race. Notice I said considered. After I thought about it, I decided to just stick with the plan and run even splits even if it meant running alone.

I ran 8:50s most of the way and then picked it up for the final mile. There were two runners ahead of me that I could have run down but I resisted the temptation to go all out and just brought it home with a strong, steady finish. Next week is Tour de Lynn Woods II. I am going to talk with the RD to see if he’ll let me set the course. If so, you’ll be in for a real treat!

Hope to see you there….

Monday, June 22, 2009

Lazy Day

I had planned a 10 mile run in Lynn Woods today but when I woke up this morning to heavy rains and winds I thought, Hmm, maybe not. Then I checked the temperature. It was only 61 degrees. I knew the trails would be a total mess and the rain and wind would have the vegetation drooping across the all the single-track sections. So, after breakfast I went back to bed.

When I woke up (the second time) at 11:00 I called my wife at work to see if she wanted to go to lunch. She thought it was a great idea so I picked her up at noon and we had lunch together. After returning her to work and doing a little grocery shopping I went home and took a nap. Yeah, I know, real rough day! Maybe I just needed to catch up on my rest because I couldn't get motivated to do anything today. Not a great way to start off the week.

Now, I have some catching up to do.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Weekly Training Update - Jun 15 - 21

I completed my second week in a row of 40+ miles and my 3rd in the past month. My current training in terms of total miles is way ahead of where I was last year at this time. I am racing slower this year but I think once I add some speed work and taper for a few goal races I have on my calender, my race performances will improve.

Total Miles: 44.5
Longest Run: 21
# Of Runs: 5
Avg Miles: 8.9
Trail Miles: 82%

I came across this video I took at the Soapstone Mt. trail race in May. It was taken while climbing a 0.3 mile long hill at a 33% grade. Even the leaders walked it! Unfortunately, I was holding the camera at the wrong angle. Maybe you can turn your laptop sideways?

Now you know why my race pace is so darn slow!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Galloway Run Week # 2

Last weekend I did my first long run using the Galloway run/walk method. I used a 10:2 ratio of running to walking and the run went very well. My overall pace was faster than my previous "all running" twenty mile long run. Although I did fade towards the end of the run, overall I felt better than usual. This weekend I ran my second long run using the Galloway Method. This time out I changed the run/walk ratio to 8:2. I wanted to see if the shorter running time would delay the onset of the inevitable fatigue that creeps into my body around 16 miles.

After my initial slow start for the first 5 miles, my 5 mile splits for 10, 15 and 20 miles were very even, no more the 1:40 separating the slowest from the fastest. The fact that I could hold a consistent pace for 15 miles is encouraging. I also didn't start to slow down until mile 18 when my legs really started to feel heavy. I finished the 21 mile run at an 11:44 pace. That was slower than last week but I think the humidity and the 2 races I ran in the past seven days took a toll on me.

Next week I will follow Emily's advice and try the 5:1 split. After that, I'll take a break from the long runs. Three 20s in a row is hard even for a young guy like me ;-)

Happy Father's Day to all the Dads out there.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Product Testing And Review - Inov8 Roclite 320

The Roclite 320 is Inov8’s answer to ultra runners looking for a minimalist shoe that still offers enough cushioning and support to go the distance. Similar to its popular 305 model, the 320 is constructed with beefier webbing materials and medial posting giving the shoe more structure and a solid feel. This structure provides more lateral support than other shoes in the Inov8 product line.

Also adding to the weight of the shoe is a very solid toe cap that fully wraps around the toe box. I have a tendency to stub my toes on rocks and roots so I really appreciate the additional toe protection. On a recent run I banged my toe very hard against an exposed tree stump and my Roclites absorbed the impact without any damage done to my little piggies!

Although the 320s are nearly as heavy as my Brooks Cascadia 3s they feel much lighter and more nimble due to their low-profile design. Because the shoe sits low to the trail I am able to pick my way though a rocky section of trail quicker and more confidently than when I am wearing my Cascadias. The Roclite tread also has better traction over a wider variety of terrain.

All Inov8 shoes have very little arch support, if any. If you suffer from PF like I do you will need to replace the insole with something that has more arch support. I have been using the Dean Karnazes' custom footbeds from Sole. I don’t think I could run in the 320s, or any other shoe for that matter, without the additional support offered by the Sole insoles. I’m sure Superfeet would also work well.

If you’re looking to jump on the minimalist bandwagon, the Roclite 320 is a good choice to transition from the many over-designed shoes on the market.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Boxford Forest 10K Race Report

I was able to get out of work on time so I made a decision to run the North Medford Running Club’s Boxford State Forest 10K. This is race number six in the Eastern New England Trail Race Series. I am currently ranked 3rd overall male in the series and 1st in the 50-59 age group. My quads were still toast from running Northfield Mountain on Saturday so I wanted to use this race as a ENE points bagging opportunity more than an all out race.

Traffic leaving the city was brutal as usual and made worse with the Red Sox having a home game. I kept checking my watch during the drive to Boxford and it wasn’t looking good for an on-time arrival. I still needed time to change from my work clothes into my running stuff and every minute counted. I had visions of the racers running off into the woods as I pulled into the parking lot and me leaping out of my truck, chasing after them in pants and dress shoes. Fortunately, I made it with 8 minutes to spare. Just enough time to change and register. Whew!

Pixie, Trailgrrl and RunninRob were there. I guess I wouldn’t be gaining any ground on Rob who is 1st in the ENE rankings through Trav’s Trail Run. It’s funny, we all had excuses why we may not be there, yet we all made it. Were we all playing mind games with one another? Nah! We got the mandatory instructions from the RD before the start of the race. I was talking to Emily and Michelle and missed every word of it. DOH!

The race was off and I fell to the rear like I almost always do. Rob took off like an Indy race car and quickly vanished from sight. Michelle was more like a train, starting out slowly and building up a head of steam, then moving at breakneck speed for the rest of the run. Emily is another story. She was behind me, most likely chatting it up with whoever was near her. Emily knows a lot of people at these trail races, and the ones she doesn’t, she quickly introduces herself to them. She still managed to pull off a race PR. Nice race Em!

The course was constantly rolling with wide and single-track trails and many wet and muddy sections. The trail had its fair share of rocks and roots but nothing like the trails I train on in Breakheart. Thankfully, there weren’t any prolonged climbs. I had enough uphill running at Northfield. The forest canopy was thick and several times the trail got very dark even though the sun was still out. Scary stuff but I didn’t see any trail monsters out there. Yikes!

I passed several runners in the first mile even though I was running easily. One guy was breathing like he needed a respirator when I went by him about a ½ mile into the race. I really never understood why someone sprints the first ½ mile of a 10K and then dies shortly thereafter. It has to be a painful death. About 1.5 miles into the race I went by Rob who slowed a bit but still finished close behind me. There’s no way he’s relinquishing his “Top Gun” standing any time soon.

By mile two I had passed a few more runners and got within 20 yards of Michelle. I hung on in that position for another ½ mile but then she was out of sight. I caught another glimpse of her and a male runner between mile 3 and 4 when we had to run a short section of road. Once the two of them tucked back into the woods I never saw them again. I ran the final three miles of the race alone so the miles passed VERY slowly. The bugs started to bother me so with a mile to go I picked up the pace just to get away from them.

The results aren’t posted yet but I ran an 8:48 pace and finished 17th overall. Not sure how many runners were there. I think the faster running at Lynn Woods on Wednesday nights and the shorter races like Trav’s and Northfield have started to improve my leg turnover. The effort extended at Boxford was much less than it was to run the same pace just 3 week ago.

I’ll probably be taking the next three weeks off from racing. I can sense the withdrawal pains already. It will be a good chance for me to work on my ultra training with long runs where I will continue to experiment with the Galloway training method.

Get a move on….

Monday, June 15, 2009

Northfield Mountain Race Report - What Goes Up Must Come Down, And A Whole Lot Faster Too!

Northfield Mountain was my introduction into the USATF - New England Mountain Circuit. I've run a number of races this year where running up and over mountains was just part of the race course. Cobble Mountain Snowshoe Race, Wapack Trail Race and Soapstone Mountain come to mind. This race would be a little different in that you only have to run up one side of the mountain and down the other and then you're done. One and done! I like the sound of that. It was great to see a number of my trail running friends, Bill, Dave, Emily, Kevin, Michelle and Stas and to make some new ones including Eric, Susanne and Julie.

My plan for the race was to try to run as relaxed as possible for the first 3.6 miles to the summit to conserve some energy for the downhill and then hammer the final 2.7 to the finish. The race started in a flat grass field but it wasn't long before the climbing began. Once it started it was unrelenting. There were occasional short breaks in the climbing but they didn't help much. It felt great to reach the water stop at the top on the mountain and knowing the rest of the race would be mostly downhill. Although it wasn't hot, it was very humid so I dumped a cup of water over my head and felt instant relief.

View Larger Map

My goal for the downhill was to pass at least one runner ahead of me. I did much better than that and picked up 8 places before the finish. Some of the downhill sections were extremely steep and the pounding caused a lot of pain in my feet. By the time I finished the race, my plantar fascia was throbbing and begging for mercy. I finished with a strong kick which makes me think I could have run the uphill section a little faster than I did. I may have left a little something out on the course. Still, I'm happy with my time and I had a blast. My pace from the start of the race to the top of the mountain was 10:28. My pace from the top of the mountain to the finish was 7:38. Running over a mountain guarantees negative splits!

Results: Here

Photos: Here and more Here

I think I'll need to take it slow for a few days to see how my feet come along. They're still very sore as I write this post two days after the race.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Week Of Firsts - Weekly Training Update, Jun 8 - 13

A week of several firsts for me. I ran my first long run using the Galloway method with encouraging results. I'll be experimenting with different run/walk ratios in the weeks ahead. I raced in my first New England Mountain Running Circuit race this weekend at Northfield Mountain (race report will be up in a day or two). The race also served as the New England Trail Championships, my first time competing in a NE Championship race. Post-race a hungry group of dirt dancers descended on the Wagon Wheel restaurant for a delicious lunch. Visiting the Wagon Wheel and the quaint Town of Gill (pop. 1,620) were also firsts for me.

Weekly ReCap:

Total Miles: 41
Long Run: 20.4
# of Runs: 5
Avg Miles: 8.2
# of Races: 1
Race Miles: 6.3
Trail Miles: 80%

Thursday, June 11, 2009

24 The Hard Way and Double Dirty Dozen

This post comes by way of request from my blogger buddy Charlie in Oklahoma City. Charlie is a race committee member for a 24 hour event being held in October. Yes, I know this isn't Kansas Dorothy but there aren't many timed events run on trails as far as I know so it's worth passing along the information for those that may want to tackle a 24 hour event. This event offers an option to run 6, 12 of 24 hours on a loop trail. Hey Ryan, this has your name written all over it. No more ring around the concrete of Lake Quannapowitt!

More complete information below as well as links to the race website.

On October 24th and 25th Bluff Creek will host a pair of 24 Hour races. 24 The Hard Way will pit participants against a 1 mile loop of pavement and offer a chance to set a new Oklahoma State record. The Double Dirty Dozen will test participants endurance against the undulating terrain of the Bluff Creek Trails.

Co-directing 24 The Hard Way are Chisholm Deupree (accomplished endurance runner and sometime race director) and David Wood (race director for the Redman Triathlon). Co-directing the Double Dirty Dozen are Bret Sholar (race director of the Boathouse International Triathlon and the Draper Duathlon) and Thomas Hill (president of the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon). Both races are being produced in partnership with PiraƱa Brothers Event Management.

Each race will feature a 6, 12 and 24 hour category as well as a 1 hour run Friday evening. The runs will benefit the United Way of Oklahoma.

“We are excited to be bringing an exceptional 24 Hr endurance event to central Oklahoma,” says Chisholm Deupree, “we are committed to providing the best racing experience to our athletes so that they can experience their best race.”

Registration for both events will open June 1 and will be limited to 250 in each event.

Road trip anyone?

I'm A Jogger

Another Wednesday tempo workout in Lynn Woods and another double run day. Once again I didn’t plan it that way but the weather was iffy all day so I went out for a short lunch-time run just in case the rain came later. Well, the rain held off and I saw no reason to skip the 3rd race in the Lynn Woods Summer XC Series. The race course for this week was a 5.5 mile loop on dirt fire roads. One on my least favorite courses in the series but it does provide a good workout with rolling hills from miles 3.5 to 4.5 and a few good climbs along the way.

I started out very slowly, chatting with other runners for the first mile. After mile one, I gradually started to pick up the pace and began passing runners that went out faster than me. I worked all the hills in the middle of the course and poured on the coals for the final mile to the finish. I felt very strong during the race and passed several runners without ever getting passed. Even though I wasn’t racing, having runners as “bait” to key on kept me motivated during the workout. Hopefully turning over the legs faster once a week will translate into some faster finishes in the Grand Tree and Eastern New England trail races I’m running in the weeks ahead.

I went out for an easy four mile run today during lunch and the plantar fascia of my right foot was pretty sore. This always happens whenever I run faster than a 9 minute pace and last night I ran sub 8:30s. Icing it for a few days usually helps. When I was running I ran past two young women who were walking in the park. As I passed, I heard one say to the other, “There are a lot of joggers here.” There was a time when I would have taken offense to such a statement. But that was back when I could run 56 minutes in a 10 mile race. Today, no offense was taken. As I slowly pulled away at 10 minutes per mile I just smiled and thought, “Yep, I’m a jogger.”

You got a problem with that?

Monday, June 8, 2009

My Long Run Experiment - Running the Galloway Way

Emily swears by it. Rob is a recent convert to it. I had to see what this run/walk method was all about. Sure, I walk during some of my training runs and races but it's never been structured. I've walked when I couldn't run. Like up long, steep hills or down them if the footing was too dangerous to attempt running. This run would be different. I was planning to walk before I had to walk. This was my first attempt at the Galloway method and I decided to try a 10:2 run/walk ratio. This meant I would run for 10 minutes and then walk for two minutes. This process would be repeated throughout the entire run.

At first this felt a little awkward, walking after only 10 minutes of running. Heck, I wasn't even warmed up after 10 minutes yet I was walking. Running again after my first two minute walking break I still felt stiff. I was already thinking how much I wasn't liking this. After I repeated this process a few more times it became easier to make the transition from running to walking and back to running again. This method does take a degree of discipline. A few times when I had gotten onto a nice running grove I really didn't want to go into the walking break because running was feeling so good. But, I stuck to the plan and walked the walk.

Ten miles into my run I noticed my overall pace (running and walking combined) was actually FASTER than my normal "all running" pace compared to my last time on these trails. Hmm, was there something to this Galloway thing? My running continued to feel very comfortable up to mile 15 or 16. After that I started to struggle a bit but not as much as I did on my last 20 mile run. I finished up with 20.4 miles at a 10:58 pace. That is about one minute per mile faster than my usual "all running" 20 mile trail pace!

OK, I'm not ready to say I'm convinced this is the way to train for all my long distance runs but it definitely makes me want to try it a few more times to see it the results can be repeated. I'm also curious to see how this method effects recovery time. I'll update you on my little experiment in the coming weeks.

Now for something less serious: I saw these 9 little ones following Mommy down the trail to Silver Lake. One tripped and rolled over a few times, sprung to its feet and got back in tow without missing a beat. Too funny!

I'm getting a little bored with this Breakheart - Lynn Woods loop but it's the best local training ground in the immediate area.

View Larger Map

About 2500 feet of gain on my run today. Not a ton but enough to keep me honest.

Ultra marathons are Gallowaking festivals....

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Maudslay Half Marathon - Weekly Training Update Jun 1 - 7

I had a very pleasant run in Maudslay State Park in Newburyport this weekend. Once the private estate of the Moseley family, the park was an undiscovered gem for me until I ran the Trav's trail race two weeks ago. I wanted to come back and enjoy the park at a leisurely pace so I could take in it's beauty without all the huffing and puffing associated with racing three miles.

Being unfamiliar with the park I needed a tour guide to show me around. Emily, aka Trail Pixie, was my gracious and knowledgeable guide for the morning run. We ran many of the trails passing several stands of flowering rhododendron, azalea and mountain laurel. In fact, Maudslay boast one on the largest naturally-occurring stands on mountain laurel in eastern Massachusetts. On one trail we saw a large colony of pink lady slippers (Cypripedium acaule) slightly past their peak but still something to see.

Tall and proud and in full bloom.

Delicate and delightful.

An enjoyable run in spite of the heavy humidity, capped off with a very delicious lunch of fresh fish on Plum Island, made me forget all about the "fun" I was missing at the Nipmuck Marathon. Thanks again Pixie!

Weekly Recap:

Total Miles: 34
Long Run: 13
# of Runs: 4
Avg Miles: 8.5
Trail Miles:71%

Maybe 20 on Monday?

Monday, June 1, 2009

What A Difference A Day Makes

I did a 10.5 mile trail run in Breakheart this morning. I had a very good run and felt no after affects from the tough time I had on the trails yesterday. Maybe it was the much cooler temperature today or the extra sleep I got last night. Whatever it was I'll take it!

I used this run to map out a possible course for a race I would like to put on in Breakheart if I can get permitting from the DCR. This is just in the initial planning stages and I'm not sure if I can pull it off by this fall. I wanted to have it in October but the Ranger at Breakheart told me October is a very busy month in Breakheart with many special events taking place. He said November would be better but that's getting late in the racing season and doing it then could limit turnout. Moving it forward into September doesn't give me a lot of time to line up sponsors, recruit volunteers, etc., etc. Freaking out just thinking about it.

Here is a short sampling of what the race will have to offer:

Running along the banks of the Saugus River.

More Saugus River running, just harder.

Sweet pine needle covered single track.

Trail to Camp Nihan.

Climbing Eagle Rock.

Your reward for climbing Eagle Rock!

Circumnavigating Pearce Lake under tall pines.

The start of Fox Trail.

Descending Breakheart Hill Trail.

One of many short, steep climbs on the Ridge Trail.

Beautiful view from Silver Lake Trail.

Running on Ash Path. Almost done!

Sweet Monday :-)
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