Friday, July 31, 2009

Stone Cat 50M

I got home from a rain soaked run this morning. It was a pleasant break from the heat and humidity that has been beating me up all week. Before jumping in the shower I checked the GAC website and there it was:

"What's New? 7/31/2009 Stone Cat Application is up for 2009. Click here for the application. Click here for more info. Race date is November 7"

I immediately filled out my application and brought it to the post office. I know there was no need to rush mailing in my application but this is the race I have been thinking about all year. I just couldn't wait!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

National Trail Running Day - August 22, 2009

Chris, a follower of my blog, is promoting the Inaugural National Trail Running Day in order to bring awareness to the sport of Trail Running and asked if I would help him by mentioning it here. We all love the sport deeply so whatever we can do to get others involved is a good thing. I just hope it doesn't get too popular. I would hate to see the commercialization and chaos of the road running scene make its way to the trails.

Wednesday Night At The Races

Being off from work allowed me to make it to the Lynn Woods Races without the stress of fighting my way through Boston's rush hour traffic. Before the race I picked up KZ at the Oak Grove T stop and soon we were on the road to the race. Well, actually not so soon as we got stuck in Route 1 rush hour traffic. There's just no escaping it!

After registering for the long (5.5 miles) race we went out for a warm-up on the short (2.5 mile) course. From the start you could feel the air, heavy with moisture from the obsessive humidity. We probably ran the warmup a little to quick and I was already dripping by the time we finished the warmup.

The race went off and KZ and me settled in somewhere mid-pack. Still, our pace felt slightly fast considering the heat and humidly. I decided to just go with it and see how long I could hold on. We were passing people along the way and about 1.5 miles into the race KZ pulled away on a downhill. He is a must faster downhill runner than me and can accelerate quickly when he makes a move. I kept him in sight but I knew there was no catching him.

About 2.5 miles in KZ slowed down so I could catch up. We hit the climb on Dungeon Road, a hill I can usually run but today I had to take it using a brisk walk. The humidify was really kicking my butt. Once cresting the hil we starting running again. Once again KZ pulled away on the downhill and later on waited up for me. He definitely helped me though this run. If he had not waited up for me and pulled me to the finish line I know I would have just slowed down and coasted on in. He kept me honest today. Thanks KZ.

When I finished I was soaked from hat to shoes. I looked and felt like I had gone for a swim in the lake. A tough workout for sure but I was happy to have done some faster running and glad KZ was able to make it.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Escaping The Heat

I ran in Lynn Woods today to escape the sun and heat. I strategically ran the trails that would offer the most shade and cooler temperatures. Still a bit wet and muddy in spots but not as bad as it was on Saturday. I felt pretty good and ran a decent pace (for me) averaging 10:30 for a 15K workout. My legs felt fine so my recovery from Saturday's 24 mile run seems to be complete. My only concern was some tightness and pain in my right hamstring. I hope it's just some residual stiffness from the weekend and nothing more. It worries me a bit because i never have any issues with the right hamstring. I think I'll take Pathfinder's advice and take it easy for a few days. It can't hurt.

Oh, almost forgot. I saw a blue heron standing atop a rock on the banks of Walden Pond. First time I've spotted one. Unfortunately, I scared it off before I could take a photo. Beautiful bird!

Weekly Training Update- Jul 20 - 26

My goal for the week was 40 - 45 miles but I missed getting out one day for a planned tempo run and came up short for the week at 37 miles. A little disappointing but still not a bad week. I got in a very good long run under difficult weather conditions. Still, I'm hoping the hot, humid weather stays away for a while, even if it is summer.

Weekly ReCap:
Total Miles: 37
Long Run: 24
# of Runs: 4
Avg. Run: 9.25
Trail Miles: 63%

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Getting Along With Galloway

Maybe there is something to this run:walk method promoted by Jeff Galloway. I did my fourth run:walk long run and my second in a row using a 5:1 run:walk ratio. Today's run was sort of weird. My legs got tired early, like only 2.5 hours into the run, but my pace got faster not slower. In fact, my pace got faster with each consecutive 5 mile split, the first 5 miles the slowest and the last the fastest. Go figure?

Sweet,soft single-track twisting through the trees. Happy feet!

It was a pretty warm day and when I reached for my S-caps 45 minutes into the run they weren't in my pocket. The plastic bag I was storing them in must have fallen out somewhere on the trail. I was a little concerned the lack of sodium would cause problems later in the run but then I remembered I packed some pretzels in my CamelBak. I would have to rely on them for my sodium intake. I only used 2 gels and ate pretzels instead. I didn't get hungry late in the run like I usually do. Maybe eating solid food instead of gel is the answer.

Plenty of water and wet feet on today's run.

I learned today that I can handle a lot of fluid on warm days. I normally drink about 22 oz of Succeed on my long runs, even on hot days. Today I decided to bump it up to 30 oz to see if the additional hydration would help me from fading late in the run. It seemed to do the trick since my pace never slowed. I think the extra drinking may have caused me to get a side stitch. I never get them but today I got one around 2 hours into the run and it stayed with me off and on until the end of the run 4 hours and 39 minutes later.

I thanked the builders of this boardwalk over the swamp. Dry feet are happy feet.

I did 24 miles today. I'm sure I can finish the 50K next month but that still leaves 7 miles of uncharted territory. I'm not sure if I should go for 26 on my next run or not. My legs feel fine after a cold water bath so I guess I can handle more training miles. I'm pretty sure I'll stick with the 5:1 ratio for the 50K but I may try a 4:1 split on my next long run to see if the results are different. Decisions, decisions.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

History Of My Training Grounds

Natural History of Breakheart Reservation

Acre for acre, Breakheart is perhaps the most naturally diverse park in metropolitan Boston, with over 700 acres of pine-oak forest and numerous fresh water habitats such as ponds, marshes, and rivers. Scenic vistas that can be seen from seven rocky hills of over 200 feet elevation revealing the area’s natural beauty. These rocky outcroppings and the lowland wetlands below them were formed by glaciers approximately 25,000 years ago. Additional glacial features include large boulders, called erratic, which dot the landscape.

In the 1700’s and 1800’s, New England was deforested for firewood and farming. Numerous farms surrounded the park. The remains of this land use can be seen today with the stone walls that meander through the park. Due to the clearing of trees, animals that depend on forest habitat largely disappeared from the area. Then, during the Industrial Revolution of the 1800’s, people began to abandon their farms to work in factories, and the abandoned farmland eventually turned back into forest. This forest has now matured enough to support many forest-dependent animal species. In the early 1990’s, naturalist David Brown reported that, after being absent from the park for decades, animals such as deer, coyote, fisher and wild turkeys had returned to Breakheart Reservation.

Breakheart’s diverse habitat serves as a home and dispersion route for wildlife, with Lynn Woods to the east and the Middlesex Fells to the west. Abundant oaks, hickories, and blueberry bushes provide food for wildlife. Coyote, fisher, owls, and hawks feed on the large populations of grey squirrel, cottontail rabbit, and chipmunk. Breakheart’s two lakes, Pearce and Silver, are home to bass, pickerel, and both painted and snapping turtles. The lakes provide food for various bird species, including great blue heron, cormorant, and osprey. After sufficient rainfall, the lakes overflow into Saugus River. The river and its surrounding wetlands provide a rich corridor for wildlife to travel and seek food and shelter.

Cultural History of Breakheart Reservation

For thousands of years, Native Americans came to Breakheart for food, shelter, and stone for their tools. Local tribes quarried Saugus Jasper, a local reddish buff stone, which was favored for its ability to be worked into projectile points and tools. The Saugus River which flows through the park was a source of food and transportation. Today the river provides drinking water to the city of Lynn.

In colonial times, the area was common land, shared by families living in what was to become the towns of Saugus and Wakefield. In the 1770’s, the Edmunds/Bailey Farmhouse was built at the entrance to the park. Its remains can be seen today next to the exercise area the Saugus entrance. In 1810, a linen mill was built along the Saugus River. The mill produced sail duck for boats and soon went of business as the war of 1812 ended and the need for sail duck diminished. The mill’s remains can be seen today at the end of the Mill Site Trail. During the Civil War (1860’s), legend has it that Breakheart earned its name when soldiers training here found it “lonely and remote,”, thus breaking their hearts. In the 1890’s, two wealthy Lynn men, Benjamin Johnson (lawyer) and Micajah Clough (businessman), owned portions of the land and used it as their private hunting and fishing reserve. To attract game and improve fishing, they dammed the two spring fed marshes, creating the upper and lower ponds, now called Silver Lake and Pearce Lake respectively. Mr. Johnson also built a few structures on the land, including a hunting lodge, which stood until the 1950’s. Its remains can be seen today on the Lodge Trail.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Weekly Training Update - Jul 13 - 19

This has been my best week of training in the past month. I hit my highest weekly total for 2009 at slightly over 45 miles. I was able to do a 5.5 mile trail tempo run in Lynn Woods after missing the Wednesday event the past two weeks due to heavy rush hour traffic. I also had a fairly easy time with my 22 mile long run and recovered quickly. My legs feel fine less than 24 hours later.

Weekly ReCap:

Total Miles: 45
Long Run: 22
# of Runs: 5
Avg Run: 9
Trail Miles: 91%

Sunday, July 19, 2009

5 +1 = Awesome Long Run

Today I did my third long run using the Galloway Method. I had previously used a 10:2 and 8:2 split with some success. Today I used a 5:1 run / walk ratio. This ratio worked very well for me as I was able to run 19 miles before I started to feel any signs of fatigue. Even then it never went pass the point where it became a problem for me. I continued to push past the 20 mile mark and went on to run 22.4 miles of a beautiful, warm sunny day.

The only glitch in the entire run was when the battery on my Nike watch died around one hour into the run. I had set the timers on the watch to alarm at 5 and 1 minutes so I would know when to run and walk. Once the battery died I had to keep checking the time on my Garmin to maintain my splits. This took a lot of the fun out of the run since I spent as much time looking at my Garmin as I did enjoying the scenery in Breakheart and Lynn Woods.

It was a pretty warm day and I was going through my fluid faster than anticipated. I knew I wouldn't have enough to get me through the entire run. I made a detour out of Lynn Woods and ran to a Seven-Eleven store about one mile away to buy some Gatorade. Running to the store, plus the road running I did to get from Breakheart to Lynn Woods and back again, made for a total of 4 miles of pavement running on the day. I was concerned that much pavement running would bother my PF but it didn't feel bad at all. I was very pleased with that since I've never been able to do more the 2 miles in the past without causing some PF pain.

I'm very happy with the run today. I'll try the 5:1 split on my next run to see if the miles pass as easily as they did today. If I can duplicate today's run, I'll use the 5:1 ratio when I run the 50K next month.

I think summer has finally arrived....

Monday, July 13, 2009

Skyline Trail Race Report

I headed to the Blue Hills Ski Area this past Sunday to run the Skyline Trail Race, race # 10 in the Grand Tree Trail Race Series. This would be my fifth Grand Tree race of the year. I arrived to the race very early and helped the RD and a few volunteers carry food and drinks up the hill from the parking lot to the starting line. As a "reward" for my help I was jokingly offered a 10 minute reduction to my finishing time. I declined the gift, stating I would need at least 30-40 minutes if I would have any chance of "winning"the race.

The Skyline trail is constant roller-coaster of steep, technical, rocky ascents and descents with very little flat running. Trail running veterans Paul Young and Paul Funch likened it to a "mini" Escarpment and agreed this was great prep for the Escarpment race in two weeks. Negotiating the trail was made more difficult by the heavy rains that fell in the early morning hours. The slick granite was treacherous, the mud thick and plentiful and some of the trails were turned into streams of running water. I witnessed several falls during the race. Almost all happened when descending on wet granite slaps. The stuff was like ice!

Steep and slick most of the race.

Over 2000 feet of elevation gain in 7.6 miles.
You really have to LOVE rocks to run this race. Or be a little crazy!

I felt good most of the race and actually passed many people on the climbs. That never happens! Maybe my many miles on snowshoes this winter is paying off. I ran most of the rocky downhills with extreme caution. I felt it was better to lose some time on the descents and live to run another day. I was pleased with my Roclite 320's. They gripped well on the wet granite with only a few small slips and powered through deep, thick mud without a problem. They drained well after running through several puddles and never felt heavy on my feet.

It's been a slow month for me. Not much racing lately and nothing coming up for another four weeks. That will give me time to get in a few more long runs before my 50K.
Is it summer yet?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Karl Meltzer Wins 2009 Hardrock 100

Karl Meltzer won the Hardrock 100 for the fifth time finishing the race at in 24:38, 2 hours faster than his previous best time. Diana Finkel is currently the first female and is third overall. Jim Campiformio, Race Director for the Grand Tree's Northern Nipmuck Trail Race left the Ouray aid station (mile 56.6) at 3:14 this morning per the last update.

You can get the latest live updates as the race progresses and some video of the race :

Live Twitter Feed:

Jaime and Meltzer arrive at Cunningham Gulch aid station:

Approach to Virginius Pass:

Monday, July 6, 2009

Weekly Training Update - Jun 29 - Jul 5

After racing almost every weekend between the last week in March and the second week in June, I haven't had anything going on for three weeks. Believe it or not, but I'm missing the race scene, especially meeting up with friends and sharing our passion for the trails. Historically a solitary runner, I now find great pleasure in long group runs or racing with friends.

This past week was a bit of a disappointment training wise. I missed my Wednesday tempo run at Lynn Woods due to heavy rush-hour traffic and cut my planned long run from 20 to 15 miles purely out of boredom. I've done my last four long runs on the same trails so I'm in need of a new location for my next one.

Weekly ReCap:

Total Miles: 35
Long Run: 15
# Of Runs: 5
Avg.Miles: 7

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Making A Commitment

After months of talking about running my first 50K I finally made a decision. I had been thinking all along that I would run the Pisgah 50K in September. It seemed like the logical choice. It's a Grand Tree race, meaning I can accumulate more points in the race series. It's also a relatively short 2.5 hour drive to New Hampshire's Pisgah State Park. More importantly, a few of my trail running friends will be running it making for a fun day overall. It was settled, or so I thought. It turns out my wife's school has an event scheduled on the same day as Pisgah. Ugh! Time to come up with Plan B.

Finding an ultra in New England is not an easy thing especially when it needs to fit into your overall training plan. My 50K attempt is step toward running the Stone Cat 50 mile in November so the race date is of some importance to me. I would like to have enough time to recover from the 50K and still have time to ramp up my training for the 50M. After much searching I've committed myself ("committed myself", that sounds about right) to running the Green Lakes Endurance Run 50K in Fayetteville, NY. It's not my 1st choice but it's the best I could come up with under the circumstances.

Here's what I like about it:
  1. I've never run there before so it will be new and exciting experience for me.
  2. Based on the photos I've seen, the Green Lakes area is a beautiful place to run.
  3. Most of the race course looks very runnable.
  4. It's a multi-loop course eliminating the need for drop bags.
  5. The field has been small the past two years so it should be a low-key fun event. (Note: Valmir Nunes, winner of the 2007 Badwater Ultramarathon, (where he crushed the course record), was in the area last year on unrelated travel. He entered the 100K race and won by 2 hours. Probably just an easy training run for him!
Here's what I don't like about it:
  1. It's a 5+ hour drive to the race requiring an overnight stay at a minimum. Logistically, away races make things a little more difficult and stressful.
  2. It's a multi-loop race. If I'm hurting it will be easier to drop at the start/finish area. On the up side, Stone Cat is also 4 loops so this will be good mental training to push pass the start/finish line when all you really want to do is stop.
  3. The race is in August. Heat and humidity are very likely to be factors in the race. I am a terrible heat runner. If it's hot, I'll be jumping in the lake, not running around it! My hydration/nutrition intake will have to be spot on or I'll suffer greatly.

Picking the race was the easy part. Now I have to train for it.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Monthly Training Update - June

This was my best month of running in two years topping out at 164 miles. That’s the most I run since June 2007 when I ran 235 miles. Four days later I won the 50-59 age division in a 5K race on July 4, 2007. Then I didn’t run another step for seven months due to a few medical problems, some of which still persist. I’m so much slower now than I was back then but still I’m very thankful to be running again, at any pace. I don’t think I will ever regain what was lost, but that won’t stop me from trying.

June ReCap:

Total Miles: 164
Longest Run: 21
# of Runs: 18
Avg. Miles: 9.1

I saw three turkeys during my run along Muddy River today. It’s the same three that like to wander around the Campus of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. They are big and ugly. No wonder I only eat them once a year.
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