Friday, December 31, 2010

Snowshow Recon - GAC Fat Ass 50K Course Preview

I planned on spending the last day of 2010 snowshoeing at a Mass Audubon property south of Boston.  Unfortunately, I overslept and then spent most of the morning drinking coffee and gazing out the kitchen window at the 20 inches of snow in my back yard. Moose Hill would have to wait for another time.  The weather was too nice to waste by staying indoors all day so I decided to take a short drive to Bradley Palmer State Park to check out the GAC Fat Ass loop.  I know several people from the Lynn Woods Crew and The Ultra Gang who will be running there next weekend so I thought I could give them a heads-up on what to expect.

The good news is that it should be a much faster course than last year when the snow had the consistency of granulated sugar.  This year the snow is much wetter and has been compacted by a snowmobile and xc-skiers.  I'm not saying running 50K in the snow will be easy, just easier than last year.  The snow is still mushy in spots but with the colder temps forecasted for next week it should firm things up for race day.  The toughest sections will likely be the half mile uphill climb from marker 11 to 17 and then again from marker 21 to 58 near the open field.   It looked like I was only the second person to pass through these sections and the snow was soft and deep.  It is holding a lot of moisture though, so it should compact nicely on race day after everyone makes a first pass over it.  Running from marker 61 to the start/finish will be a piece of cake.  It's been plowed down to bare pavement.

Trail map with 10K loop.

Overall, it's a fairly easy course.

Wish I could join in the fun. Have a blast!

Some photos of the course HERE

Monday, November 29, 2010

Looking Ahead

This is the time of year when I normally reflect on my running accomplishments (and failures) during the past 12 months. Although 2010 started out with some very good race results through April, injuries kept me out of the game for most of the summer and fall. Since most of this year involved no running at, I'm going to avoid looking back but instead focus on the future. Having such a disappointing year has motivated me to come back stronger than ever and establish a lofty goal for 2011.  Initially, I thought about running my first 100 miler but realized the motivation behind that was more from external sources than from a burning desire within. To attempt such an undertaking without being 100% committed is foolish at best and I sense I would find little joy in it. 

However, I do enjoy running long distances, and more specifically running ultra races, so I came up with the idea of running an ultra for every month of the year.  Yes, you heard me correctly.  That's 12 ultras in 12 months in 2011.  I like to call it my "12 in 12 in 11" plan.  To some, this may not seem to be a difficult task nor lofty goal.  But I have never run more than two ultras in one year so it is a stretch for me. On the surface this appears to be a very unrealistic goal seeing that I'm still injured and haven't run a step since Stone Cat in early November.  But I recently read a book that encouraged me to dream big and I think I can pull it off with a little bit of luck (ok, a truck load of good luck), something I've been lacking of late.

What it may take to be successful is training less, not more. I usually train about 30-35 miles per week when I am healthy but training at that level and running an ultra every month will likely lead to over training and injury.  If I reduce my mileage to 15-20 per week it should allow for adequate recovery between races.  It also means that I will suffer greatly during each race as I will be woefully under trained for long distances. Given my recent injury prone history, I think it's the only way to go.

Running ultra races is a costly endeavor in terms of entry fees, fuel costs, miles driven and time away from family.  In order to minimize these costs, I have tried to pick races that are either Fat Ass events or have low entry fees and/or are relatively close to home. Fortunately, I was able to find races that matched my criterion without too much effort. With that in mind, here in the plan for 2011 (subject to change and subject to me regaining good health of course).

January - GAC Fat Ass 50K
This is a no-brainer.  It's nearby, free to enter, has tons of good aid station food and also happens to be the only game in town.  Plus it's a G.A.C event and they know how to host an ultra race.  If the course is covered in soft snow like the past two years it will a tough day.  WIth little training before Stone Cat and none since, this could prove to be the hardest race for me to finish all year (if I can even make it to the starting line).

February - TBD
This will be a hard month to find a race.  The only February ultra in New England is the Frozen Fat Ass 50K on Cape Cod.  I like the fact that it is free and not too far away, but the course is run entirely on the beach.  Running two loops in soft beach sand is something my sacro-illiac joint can't handle. 31 miles in sand would put a serious hurt on me. I may just have to host my own Frozen Fat Ass to meet my February ultra requirement.  How does "Breakheart Dan Does Bradley Palmer" sound?  I'm talking about the state park, not the wealthy attorney long since passed.
March - Fells Trail Ultra Vernal Equinox Edition 32M
The RD for this race, Steve Latour, is a bud of mine and my partner in this "12 in 12" madness. He claims to have suggested this to me over a year ago but I fail to recollect that conversation.  Steve's a self-professed cheap bastard which means he wouldn't think of charging an entry fee to his race.  That's good for me, another free ride (except for all the running up and down rocky technical trails that is).  Can't beat the fact that it's a 25 minute drive from my house.  It is the Fells though, and I hate running the Fells! :-)

April - Don't Run Boston 50K
This was a hard decision for me. Last April I ran the Traprock 50K in CT.  I loved the race and vowed to return in 2011.  The only problem is that it's on the same weekend as DRB and I obviously can't run both.  DRB is much closer to home and is a Fat Ass event so it wins out over Traprock.  This past winter I ran several times in Blue Hills with the Trail Animals Running Club who host Don't Run Boston. Blue Hills is a very challenging place to run with a lot of big climbs and rock scrambling.  The TARC's motto is, "No animal will be left behind."  Well it didn't always work out that way but I did manage to find my way back to civilization.  No hard feelings though.  

May - GAC Mother's Day 6 Hour Run
I'll have to get permission from the wife to run this one.  After all, it's her day not mine.  I'm certain a precedent much have been set somewhere, sometime for celebrating Mother's Day on a Saturday.  If not, there's always Wapack. Yikes!

June - Peak Ultra 50M
I'm told this is one of the toughest 50 mile races in the U.S. with 14,000 feet of elevation gain and some bushwhacking to boot.  After running an easy course at the Mother's Day race the timing will be right to take on the serious challenge at Peak.

July - 24 Hours Around the Lake Ultra
I'm not really sure about this one. It's a 5K loop around Lake Quannapowitt which is less than 10 miles from my house. My only issue with it is the course itself.  It's on pavement or concrete sidewalk and I can't run more than a mile or two on pavement because of my long-standing plantar fasciitis.  I'm fairly certain half the loop can be run on a narrow path of dirt next to the sidewalk but I have to confirm that before committing to this race.  The race starts at 7PM and the idea of running throughout the night does appeal to me.  I've never done that before.

August - 24 Hours of Waterbury
Race Director and ultra runner extraordinaire, Josh Katzman claims this is the hardest 24 hour race in the USA.  Here is a description from the website. "This is a genuine trail run - it is tough, but beautiful and rewarding.  The trails on Perry Hill are maintained by the Vermont Mountain Bike Association (VMBA), and they do a really spectacular job at it.  The 15 miles of trails are quickly gaining national attention for being awesome!  There are some tough climbs, some technical sections, and some really smooth, runnable sections of carpeted pine needles that will be very welcome, especially as you get closer to the 12 and 24 hour marks.  We will be running loops, using 8.4 of the trails and will have about 1,550 feet of elevation GAIN per loop.  Yeah, that's a lot of uphill!"  It sounds like a "must do" to me.

September - Pisgah Mountain 50K or Vermont 50K
Two great races one week apart.  Not sure which one I'll run but if RunninRob decides to do Vermont I told him I'll be his wing man.

October - Bimbler's Bluff 50K
I've had my eye on this race for two years now but was never able to fit it into the schedule.  2011 will be the year.  The Bimblers Bluff 50k runs through several inter-connected woodland preserves in southern Connecticut. Consisting entirely of rolling forest roads or single track that can be extremely rocky, the course provides a true test of a runner’s fitness and mental stamina.

November - Stone Cat 50M
This is another race that is within a 30 minute drive from my home and has a reasonable entry fee. It's also one of my favorite races with an abundance of single track, great volunteers and aid stations and almost a 100% guarantee for getting your feet wet.  What more can you ask for?

December - Fells Trail Ultra Winter Solstice Edition 40M
Same RD and course as the spring edition of the Fells race but likely to be more difficult after running eleven other races during the year.  Unlike the spring race, I'll be shooting for 40 miles instead of 32.  I must be insane!

Well, that's the plan.  Simple to design, difficult to execute.  I just need to start training, and soon.  I want to get in at least four weeks of training before the GAC Fat Ass in January and I'm running out of time.  If my neck issue prevents me from starting soon I'll have to postpone the start of my racing season.  But whenever I do start, my goal will be to run one ultra race a month until 2011 comes to an end.

Wish me luck.  I'm going to need it.

Friday, November 19, 2010

When It Rains, It Pours.

And I’m not taking about the weather.

The elation I felt after finishing the Stone Cat marathon was short-lived. Two days later, I injured my neck doing something stupid (I’ll leave it at that) and had a return of the neck pain, muscle tightness and head and facial numbness and tingling I first experienced three years ago when I first injured my neck. It’s the worse pain I’ve had in two years and resulted in a week off from work. I guess every cloud has a silver lining but I can think of better ways to spend a week off from work. I’m feeling slightly better now but still far from well. It looks like I’m facing more down time. So what else is new? On the plus side, this will give me more time to rehab my IT band and the plantar fasciitis that flared up during Stone Cat. I’m not going to let this get me down because I’ve set a lofty running goal for 2011 (more about that in my next post) and I’m not about to give up on it before the new year has even begun. Still, I feel like the deck is stacked against me. Just another obstacle to overcome and I have plenty of experience doing that.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Stone Cat Marathon Race Report - My Race From The Rear, Or How Running A Personal Worst Can Be So Rewarding.

For those that know me, this hasn't been a great year for me running-wise.  I've been dealing with a very stubborn IT band that has kept me from training much during the past six months.  When I registered for Stone Cat a few months ago I thought I would be over this injury come November.  Well, race day arrived and my ITB was still misbehaving but this was one race I refused to record as a DNS [Did Not Start]. 

Having done little to no training in the months preceding the race (12 miles per week average with one long run of 15 mile) I decided to start the race at a very conservative pace, as in walking.  This would serve two purposes.  First, it would allow me to loosen up my IT band and hopefully prevent, or at least delay, it tightening up and causing knee pain.  Second, it would allow me to spend some time catching up with Trail Pixie.  She also has been injured and was going to walk the entire 26.2 miles.  Or so she said. Funny how pre-race plans often change in the heat of battle.  (She walked all but seven miles and still finished in six hours!)

After taking a ten minute detour due to a road closure, I arrived at the school gym to pick up my race number.  It was still early and I had plenty of time to talk with several good folks from the Lynn Woods Crew and The Ultra Gang.  I spent most of my time with Karen G who was running her first 50.  I think she had some pre-race jitters but hid it well. Turns out she had nothing to worry about and completed the 50 mile race feeling fine and enjoying the company of owls. Seeing so many familiar faces is another reason why Stone Cat is one of my favorite races. 

Some of the Lynn Woods Crew (photo credit: Team T.)

A few of The Ultra Gang before the start. (photo credit: Streph T.)

As we walked into the cold darkness for the start of the race I drifted to the back of the pack.  I was getting cold standing around and wanted to get moving.  I never heard the "Go" command but when the crowd in front of me starting to move I knew the race was on.  Emily was not nearby but I caught up to her when runners starting stacking up trying to go from the open field into the first single track section.

Minutes before the start.

A light stream of runners. (photo credit: Keith Magnus)

Emily and I walked together for the first 20-25 minutes as runners drifted away into the woods, the small specks of light from their headlamps bobbing in the darkness. Emily is a very fast walker and I had to work to keep up. I didn't feel like we were losing that much time to the runners who had to deal with wet, slippery rocks , roots and leaves with very little light.  Once I felt like I was adequately warmed up I said goodbye to Emily and began to run slowly.

Because I started dead last, or close to it, there were about 300 people ahead of me.  It was fun catching up to runners, chatting with them for a while, and then moving on to chase down the next group. Because much of this race in on single track trails there were many times when I could not pass as quickly as I wanted and had to run the pace dictated by the lead runner.  I think this helped me in the long run since it kept me at an easy pace for the first half of the race.

Chasing after the early morning train.

As I made my way through the first loop I got a chance to run with many friends.  Although my stay with them was brief in most cases, it helped the first loop pass quickly. I also had a great time grazing at the two aid stations on the course.  When I arrived at Al Cat' Lounge it was still very early in the morning so I decided to have breakfast.  I looked for the pancakes but couldn't find them. I settled for bacon.  It was so good I grabbed four more strips and continued on my way.  It was the first time I ate bacon during a race but it won't be my last.

Feeding frenzy in the early morning fog.

There was a section of trail between two swampy ponds that was mostly under water.  Many runners tried to keep to the side of the trail to stay dry but I knew from my previous runs here that it was a waste of time.  It slows you down quite a bit and you end up getting wet feet in the end.  I just blasted through the river of water as quickly as I could so I would not prolong the suffering.  In all honesty, I actually liked running in the water even though it was very cold.

What are you afraid of? It's only water people!

Yeah baby, that's what I'm talkin' about! Steve T. walking on water, well, almost. (photo credit: Team T.)

This made me think of green smoothies but I'm sure they taste better than they look.

I finished the first loop feeling very Strong and after some chicken noodle soup I headed back out for the final 12.5 miles. By now, the field of runners had spread out and I ran alone for long stretches at a time.  Along one of my favorites sections of single track Ben Nephew came hammering by me and was out of sight in a flash.  He went on the set the 50 mile course record in a very fast 6:24:47.  A short time later, someone behind me asked if I was Dan.  It was Josh Katzmam (second place overall) who I know by name but we had never met.  He told me he checks out my blog occasionally and I told him I was aiming to run his race in VT next summer.  His stride was gazelle-like and soon, he too, was gone from view. 

Lapped by Ben Nephew soon after taking this photo.

Rich, Streph, Bill (first 50 finish!) and KZ.

I was expecting my IT band to bother me at some point but I guess my walking warm up did the trick . I didn't have any issues and it felt fine the entire race.  What I didn't expect was a return of my plantar fasciitis which had been in check for the past few months.  But at mile 15, I started to feel pain in both feet.  My left foot wasn't too bad but the right foot got worse with each passing mile.  By mile 20 my right foot was very painful and it was effecting my stride.  I tried running different ways, landing on my heels, mid-foot and toes but nothing helped.  I just had to suck it up to the finish.  By the time I made it back to the school with the finish line in sight, I was hobbling like an old man.  Well, I'm sort of old so it was kind of fitting that I finish the race looking like one. 

At 5:03:08 it was by far, my slowest marathon ever but I was not disappointed.  In fact, this was one of the most satisfying finishes I've ever had.   First, I never expected to race again this year because of my injury. It was awesome to run with the gang again.  Once I did made it to the starting line, I thought I would struggle with the distance due to lack of training.  That never happened either.  Although I slowed over the last 2 or 3 miles I felt very good during the race. Finishing Stone Cat definitely rescued me from a very bad year.  For that, I am most grateful.

Thank you, Stone Kitty.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Stone Cat, Or Not?

I sure do have some crazy running friends.  Steve ran the Vermont 100 Endurance Run in July on training of 11 miles a week.  He went into the race with a bad IT band and had to hobble the last 80 miles to the finish line.  Talk about determination!  Another good bud Streph, also ran the VT 100 with only one 20 mile long under his belt. He says he likes to under train and then taper for a race. It seems to work for him.  Perhaps the craziest of all is my friend KZ, who ran the VT 100, Escarpment (hardest race on the east coast) and the Speed Goat 50K (a tough mountain ultra in Utah) on consecutive weekends in July!  He's pretty quiet about his training method but I think it involves one mid-week training run and a race every weekend.

For me, the past six months have not been much fun.  To summarize:
  1. I got injured.
  2. Took off six weeks
  3. Returned to running too soon and developed chronic IT band tightness and pain.
  4. Been averaging 12 miles of very slow running per week.
  5. Did one long run of 15 miles.
So, I've been thinking to myself, "This is no way to prepare for a marathon. There's no way I can run Stone Cat this year." Or can I?

If I asked any one of my friends mentioned above they would likely tell me I'm over trained for such a short distance.  "It's only a stinkin' marathon!" they may say.  Actually, I received a text message from KZ the other night.  It was short and to the point.  It simply said, "Training is for wussies." 

I think I just made up my mind.

Monday, October 25, 2010

RD's Report - Tuff Ten Trail Race

It's been a week since I made my debut as a Race Director at the Tuff Ten (10K) Trail Race in Breakheart Reservation.  I learned early on that organizing a race is a huge effort and would consume many hours of free time.  On race day I learned that you can't plan for everything and something is bound to go wrong.  You just have to roll with it. Overall, the race went very well but there were a few things I could have done better.

For most of the 63 runners this was their first time in Breakheart Reservation. They all seemed to enjoy the venue and the post-race refreshments served next to the camp fire. Many commented on how beautiful and difficult the trails are in Breakheart.  Yes, the race course was a difficult one.  The top two runners completed the course in over 49 minutes and both of them are 32 minute 10K runners on the roads.

On the down side, several ribbons, flags and arrows used to mark the course were removed by vandals which contributed to people losing the trail in some places.  Also, the orange spray chalk I purchased in the Summer when everything was green was difficult to see now that the forest floor was shades of yellow, orange and brown.  No one seemed to be bothered much by the little detours.  It's just a part of trail running.

Runners leaving the start. (Photo credit: Dan Burgess)

Runners descending Breakheart Hill. (Photo credit: Strephon Treadway)

Runners top Eagle Rock. (Photo credit: Strephon Treadway)

Race winner Matthew Carter. (Photo credit: Dan Burgess)


Monday, October 11, 2010

Update On Tuff Ten Trail Race

Less than one week to go to the Inaugural running of the Tuff Ten (10K) Trail Race in Breakheart Reservation and there's still much to be done.   I never realized how many hours go into organizing a trail race, even a small one, and I now have greater respect and appreciation for all Race Directors.  Still, I am enjoying the experience but happy the race is this weekend so I can then focus on getting myself healthy and back to some serious running in 2011.

I mapped out a challenging course that will be enjoyed by most runners although I'm sure I will be cursed by a few when they hit the first climb up Breakheart Hill. I am considering an alternative course that will keep runners off the Ridge Trail if there is rainy weather on race day.  It can get very slick and hazardous up there when it wet.  As a runner I would run that trail no matter what the weather brings but as a Race Director I would not feel comfortable putting runners at risk by sending them there if the weather does not cooperate.

We have a good selection of awards and raffle prizes including trail running shoes, Dymax socks, Marathon Sports gift certificates, one year subscriptions to Trail Running magazine, iTunes gift cards and many more goodies.  If you're looking for a race to run on Sunday, October 17th, check out the race website here. A direct link to online registration is here.  Online registration cost is the same as a mail-in registration. No extra fees.

Hope you can make it to the race!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I'm Alive

Today I felt more alive than I have in months.  Running trails with a group of friends will do that to you. At least it does for me.  The struggles I've faced in the past five months with rehabbing my IT band and the boredom I've felt on far to many solo runs was all forgotten in the span of running 6.2 miles of rocks, roots and hills.  Ah, the hills.   I got so caught up in the excitement of it all that I actually allowed myself to run up and down most of them today.  Damn you IT band! I'm not babying you today!  Thanks Team T, Dan, Roz, Bill M., Bill H. and KZ for making this possible. 

A few interesting comments were heard as we previewed the Tuff 10K Trail Race course in Breakheart Reservation.

"Runners will be calling this hill, Dan's Death March."
"It's a little Seven Sisters like."
"Thanks for taking us on a 12 mile run, Dan"

and my favorite of the day,

"This is F&%*ing insane!"  I was told that meant the Sarge approved of the course which means it must have lived up to it's name. 

It was a good day indeed.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Inov-8 310s in search of Mr. Right

Hi, my name is Flyroc and I’m looking for a new owner.  My current Master purchased me at the Merrimack River Trail Race and one week later took me on a 10 mile jaunt in Blue Hills Reservation. It’s the only time I was able to run wild since April. Although he told me he was very pleased with my performance, he said my low heel caused pain to his plantar fascia. I told him to stop being a candy-ass sissy-boy and to man up. He responded by tying me up and stuffing me into a dark, cramped cardboard box. I haven’t seen the light of day in four months. I really need to feel the earth beneath my endurance rubber soles and the wind through my breathable mess uppers. Won’t you please help me?

I am extremely loyal and require very little care. I do not need to be watered or fed and only need an occasion bath when I become so stinky that your significant other will make me sleep out on the back porch. I will protect you from all harm (below the ankle) and will bring you hours of freedom and joy. I am most happy when running over gnarly roots, ridiculous rocks, wading through water and muddling in mud. Sorry, I do not enjoy long walks on the beach, unless maybe it’s at the Cape Cod Frozen Fat Ass. In that case, you better be moving faster than a walk or you’ll freeze off more that your ass.

If interested in a mutually satisfying, long-term (as in 400-500 miles) relationship, please contact me here.

PS If you're one that believes size matters, then I'm a size 10.5.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Moose On The Loose Training Run

I haven't had much success trying to run any distance over 5-6 miles on the trails of my usual training grounds.  The constant changes of elevation in Breakheart Reservation takes a toll on my ailing ITB.  I thought the nearly flat trails in Mine Falls Park in Nashua, NH might be the way to go.  I had no plans to race here, just maintain a steady pace and get through 10 miles pain-free, or as close to it as possible.  RunninRob came along for the ride but he ended up being much more than an "also ran."

I'm not sure how this race came to be named "Moose on the Loose Trail Race."  I'm sure there hasn't been a moose sighting in the city of Nashua in quite some time.  I do know, however that this was the best weather I've encountered  in the three times I've come to this race, 70 degrees with some humidity.  My first run here was in the year of the "Monsoon Moose" with four inches of rain falling during the race.  I will say running through all the large puddles and mud created by the rain only added to my enjoyment.

My second run here was not so pleasant as I had the misfortune of running in the year of the "Melting Moose" with 90+ degrees and high humidity.  Moose was also a NH grand prix race that year and it was first time I ever heard a runner in a race yell to others, "Slow runners to the right!" so she could pass without weaving her way through traffic.  Needless to say, I planned to stay to the right this year.

As the race went off I started out slowly an soon found myself just one runner away from DFL. Not that I cared.  I was admiring  the scenery and fantasizing about running through the river we just crossed instead of taking the bridge over it. Shortly after, I ended up in a cluster of chatty Cathys who's conversations were a distraction... to put it politely. After running with them for a half mile or so I determined I would either have to pick up the pace and escape or take my own life.  I chose the former.

The course, which is a 2.5 mile loop run four times, is great if you're looking to run a fast time but can get boring if your just out there on a training run like me. The boredom factor was compounded since I ran the rest of the race on my own. My only contact with other runners was when I passed the ones that went out too fast, and they weren't in a talking mood.  I did get lapped a few times, or passed by the relay runners, it was hard to tell which race people were running.  I just know they were moving way faster than me when they went by. They were talkative though and offered encouragement to me.  I guess I looked worse than I felt.

I ended up having a decent 10 mile run.  Sure I was slow, but not as slow as I thought I would be.  I ran progressively faster "slow" 2.5 splits:
  • 23:18
  • 22:37
  • 22:02
  • 21:57
I felt a little fatigue setting in about one mile from the finish but I expected that.  Most of my runs have been in the 3-5 mile range so this was bit of a push for me.  The good news is no knee pain during or after the race.  That's all I was hoping for. As for RunninRob, he ran a PR and finished second in his age group!  Not a bad day for the north shore boys.

Run safe...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Summer Lost

I can hardly believe summer will soon be coming to an end.  Even though it's not my favorite season (especially for running) I still hate to see it pass.  Speaking of summer running, I haven't done much of it.  My ITB injury is proving to be as stubborn as Garry Harrington's ass (as in burro) and it's healing oh so slowly. In fact, I only ran 110 total miles during the months of May, June and July. I know Vermont 100 finishers Steve and Streph would call 110 miles in 3 months over training but I like to train more for my mental health than physical. August is starting out slightly better but I still have knee pain whenever I run more than 5 or 6 miles.  It's been, and continues to be, a long process but I hope to be fully recovered by the spring of 2011 so I can run a few ultras that interest me.

Not running so much has freed up a fair amount of time to pursue other past times such as camping, hiking, biking, gardening and volunteering at the weekly races in Lynn Woods.  It's also allowed me to check off a few long-standing items on the honey-do list.  Still, the list just seems to grow longer each year.

Base camp at Mt. Desert Narrows

The ocean was about 20 yards from our tent.

The ocean breeze did a good job of keeping the mosquitoes at bay.

Scorpion rock.

Watching the sun set.

We got to witness this every evening.

Off to hike Cadillac Mountain.

Up and away.

Taking a look behind.

But this is where we're heading.

From here these islands look like stepping stones.

Closing in on the summit.

We stopped smiling after we realized we had to hike back down to our car.

Biking on the many miles of fine carriage roads in Arcadia National Park.

These gravel carriage roads are in better condition than most of the roads in Massachusetts.

A tranquil pond.

And rushing water.

Eagle Lake

Taking a break at Eagle Lake.

This is a good place to start your hike around Eagle Lake.

Back home tending to the salvias and celosias.

And impatiens

An osteospermum draped swan.

It's a yellow rose but it ain't from Texas.

Yes, I've been keeping busy but damn, I'd rather be running.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Traprock 50K Report In July Issue of Ultrarunning Magazine

I was happy to see the article I submitted to Ultrarunning Magazine was published in their July issue.  I know editing is something that must be done due to space constraints but I was disappointed that the last paragraph of my article and none of my photographs were included by the magazine.  The omission read like this:

"Co-Race Directors Steve Nelson and Kevin Hutt and all the volunteers did a fine job in providing a much needed spring ultra to the New England area. The course was adequately marked and the aid stations were well stocked and staffed. All the runners I spoke to during and after the race were very positive about their Traprock experiences. This is definitely a race I’ll be running again in 2011."

And the photographs looked like this:

Elaine Romano (3rd female) on technical descent.

Runners working their way up the steep "Stairway to Heaven"

Here is the published article:
Ultrarunning July 2010

Monday, July 5, 2010

June In Review

My plan for June was to refrain from running and continue with rehabbing my ITB but I still held on to the hope of running Wakely in July.  The lure of Wakely won out over common sense and I started training two weeks earlier than planned. I felt encouraged that running 3-4 miles every other day on flat surfaces did not cause any knee pain. I added a slightly longer 5 and 7 mile run on the weekend and still no pain.  Things were looking up!

June Re-cap
Total Miles: 37
Longest Run: 7
# of Runs: 8
Avg Run: 4.6

With Wakely only three weeks away I decided to test the ITB on a longer run with more challenging terrain this weekend.  I needed to know if I could handle some distance before driving 5 hours to the Adirondacks for the race. The good news is I covered 10 miles in the blistering heat.  The bad news is my knee was in pain by mile seven. I probably should have walked the last three miles out of the woods, but I didn't.  I can be stubborn at times.

I have to be realistic about my injury.  It's just not going to heal as quickly as I would like. Any thoughts of racing (or training) long distances have to be banished for now.  I'll rest and ice for a few days and go back to my boring 3-4 miles runs.  It's better than no running at all.   I'm sure you're sick of reading about this injury as much as I am of writing about it so I'll be signing off for now.  I won't be back until I have something positive to say. I hope it's not too long.

Have a nice summer....

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Western States 100

The Western States Endurance Run is one of the oldest ultra trail events in the world and certainly one of the most challenging. It's the "Granddaddy" of ultras, the race every ultra runner aspires to run. Sort of like the Boston Marathon for serious road runners. The Run is conducted along the Western States Trail starting at Squaw Valley, California, and ending in Auburn, California, a total of 100 miles. Most of the trail passes through remote and rugged territory. The trail ascends from the Squaw Valley floor (elevation 6,200 feet) to Emigrant Pass (elevation 8,750 feet), a climb of 2,550 vertical feet in the first 4½ miles. From the pass, following the original trails used by the gold and silver miners of the 1850’s, runners travel west, climbing another 15,540 feet and descending 22,970 feet before reaching Auburn.

A few of my trail running friends will be toeing the starting line in about one hour.  I'll be checking in during the day (and night) to watch their progress. They are all mentally strong runners so I'm sure they'll do well.  I just hope the weather isn't insanely hot as the temperature in the canyons can rise to well over 100 degrees.  Running 100 miles in 100 degrees, there's something very wrong with that.  And to think I entered the the lottery to run this thing! What was I thinking?

Lucky for me, I never win anything.
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