Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Three Weeks till GO TIME!!!

What a week for an old guy!!

Mon 3/23 9 miles in Medford
Tue 3/24 8 miles in Westford with ROAG
Wed 3/25 8 miles in Westford with ROAG
Thu 3/26 8 miles in Westford with ROAG
Fri 3/27 7 miles in Bolton with Joe, Spin and Glenn
Sat 3/28 21 miles on Boston course with Pete and David
Sun 3/29 REST!!!!

That totals 61 miles for the week. In addition I did a 60 to 90 minute P90X workout ever day including Sunday. By my calculations I spent over 15 hours exercising last week.

Which brings me to this week. On Monday I got up at 4 AM with every intention of running. Got my gear on and headed into work. I thought I'd do my standard 8 mile horseshoe. When I arrived at work it was still raining out so I decided to run on the treadmill. Not a good plan! I was still very tired from my long run on Saturday and after just 12 minutes I bagged the run and just did stretching exercises. I guess sometimes your body just knows when it's had enough.

Which brings me to today. I showed up early to the ROAG run and was able to get 3.8 miles in before the group showed up and then we put in a solid 5.5 miles, for a grand total of 9.3 miles. The really good news is my legs feel great this afternoon.

Just 3 more weeks to go. I need to make sure I don't do anything stupid. My wife told me yesterday that she thinks I'm ready. She said that I'm very grumpy lately and I complain about her not providing the right amount of carbohydrates at each meal. I can imagine what many people are thinking after reading this last sentence, "well make your own dam meals". And you'd be right. In fact, I do make most of my own meals. Breakfast, Lunch (yes I pack a lunch every day, I'm a runner and too cheap to buy lunch), and I help out with dinner every night. WOW did I go off track.

Anyway I think I'm ready, and all I want to do is one more 15+ mile run this weekend then start the taper. I'm not a real big fan of tapering because I start gaining weight so I tend to keep the mileage up but slow down a bit. So I'm thinking of running 8 - 9 miles a day up until Thursday before the race. Then run 5 on Friday, and 1 or 2 miles on Saturday and Sunday.

I just have to keep telling myself, "Don't do anything STUPID". NO FALLING!!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

2 good days in a row..WOW

Wow, I think things are really coming together now. After Saturdays long run I took it easy and only did a P90X workout, and gave my legs a break on Sunday. So come Monday morning I was ready to go. My routine is starting to formulate into running from work on Monday's and Wednesdays, at 5 AM and running from Westford on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6 AM. So Monday I got up at the crack of O'dark thirty (aka 4 AM), and headed into work. I work in Medford and there's not many places I can run without crossing MAJOR roads. So I end up running a out and back course that takes me into Malden and Everett. Still pretty dangerous but it's all I have right now and it gets me 8 miles. The funny thing is I pass Duncan Donuts 8 times on this route, four on the way out and four on the way back. People seem to be stunned to see me running by while they try to take their first sip of coffee to wake up.

On Monday it was cool...I take that back it was 21 degrees when I started and never warmed up. In fact it tends to get cooler as I run from 5 to 6 AM. I put in a hard effort and was rewarded with a time that was close to what I was running last year at this time. I'll take it.

This morning I hooked up with the Westford ROAG boys who are also training for Boston. I showed up about 25 minutes early so I could get a 20 minute warm up run going before we started. The boys tend to start fast, then pick it up to see who's got guts. Today did not disappoint. We started off fairly easy with about a 7:20 pace then after a mile or two it picked up. Tom who is not running Boston always seems to throw down the gauntlet and see who will take the bait. The three of us I think have wised up to this and just let him go and then reel him back in by the end. Sure enough with a mile to go David K and I started to really move. I'm guessing 6:30's or better. We sucked Tom in and shat him out the back sided. We all finished strong and didn't end up sprinting to the finish. Which in my mind is a smart move given we're only 4 weeks away.

David K is is super shape and I wouldn't be surprised if he goes sub 3:05 in Boston.
Peter F is also running really smooth. I'm guessing 3:15 for him.
Mike O is struggling right now but I think he'll pull it together for Boston and run a 3:20

As for me right now, I'm feeling very strong and I have 3 goals:

1. Finish, this is always my primary goal to keep the streak alive.
2. I will be happy if I run 3:10, but I think I can do better with the right conditions.
3. Stretch goal of going sub 3. This may not be in the cards but I'm willing to go for it.

At this time of the year I always seem to get to the point where I want to do the race ASAP. I'm tired of training and tired of running in the cold and darkness. I have to just stay focused right now and make sure I don't do anything stupid. That's very tough for me!!

I hope everyones training is going well. There's a whole bunch of racing that I know the ultra people are about to under take including the Fells trail race this coming weekend. Good luck, can't wait to read the reports.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Humpty Dumpty

I went out Saturday to do my long run on the Boston Marathon course. The plan was simple, start in Hopkinton and run to BC for 21 miles. The Greater Lowell Road Runners were hosting the run and would have water and Gatorade every 3 miles.

When I woke up Saturday morning, I did a quick check of the temperature and at my house it read 22.6 F. Ouch!!! I don't know about the rest of you but I'm getting pretty tired of running in sub freezing temperatures. Anyway it was suppose to warm up as the day went on but we were starting our run at 9 so when we got into Hopkinton it had only warmed up to 32 F. The problem I see with doing all this running in cold weather is it doesn't prepare you for race day in most cases. Typically Boston is run when the temperature is around 55 to 60 degrees. Which of course isn't bad but if you're used to running at temperatures 20 to 30 degrees less your heading for trouble with over heating and dehydration. A couple of years ago the temperature headed into the mid to high 80's which caused lots of problems for NE runners. In my case I did a blazing 4:21 walk of the course.

OK back to my run on Saturday. I started out nice and smooth running with Jill Trotter and we were knocking down 7:15's right away and I felt great. At 3 miles I grabbed a Gatorade cut with 50% water. And we were back out quickly running 7:15's. At about 4.5 miles I turned to tell Jill something when my left foot hit a mound of sand that was frozen and it sent me tumbling to the ground. As I went down I had both my hands out in front of me and thought for a split second that I was going to be OK. As my arms reached out to absorb the fall I turned my head to the left and I was tucking it in case I needed to roll. As I tucked my head, the right side ended up clunking off the curb and made a loud thud. I popped up right away and as I did Jill shouted at me to SIT. I then noticed that my balance was a little off and my head was spinning a bit. I took Jill's advice and sat down. I kept telling her that I was all right, but she kept telling about some movie star who hit their head last week skiing and ended up dieing later in the day. At the same time a couple of other runners who were coming from the other direction stopped and asked if I was OK because they herd the thud too. After about a minute or two, I felt well enough to continue. Jill asked me if I was OK about once every mile, and continued to make me assure her that I'd tell my wife what happened when I got home so she could monitor me. What I think that saved me was I was wearing my Kahtoola fleece hat that softened the blow and was just enough cushion to stop any abrasions. I won this hat at the Kingman Farm race. Thanks Chris Dunn!!!

Back to running. So Jill and I just continued to knock down the miles until around mile 10 where I was starting to tire and I let Jill pull away. At mile 12 I caught her again while she was getting a drink. She also needed to adjust her shoes so I took off, and was hoping to hold her off for a while, but that was not to be. I think she caught me by mile 13.5. She was flying. From this point on I was on my own. My goal was to get over 128 then run through the Newtown hills with out walking. My planned worked and I managed to average 7:30's for the entire run. Not quite where I want to be during the race but hopefully next weekend I'll be able to knock another 15 seconds a mile off my pace and will be closing in on my race pace.

Jill on the other hand is primed to run sub 3 hours this year and I'd like to wish her luck but I don't think she'll need it the way she's running.

As for my head it's still a little tender but I don't think any real damage was done. I'll live to run another day. For all my snowshoe buddies I'm sure their not to surprised that I fell given the number of times I fell this season during races. I really have to pay closer attention to where I step.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Keep on keep'n on

Training has been going surprisingly well for Boston. I'm getting out at least 1 hour each day with long runs on Saturdays. I'm a firm believer in the hard / easy method of training. However I'm doing a lot of runs with guys who (in my opinion) run hard every training run.

Some of you might think "What's wrong with that"? Well, your body needs a chance to rebuild muscle damage after every run and if you just keep damaging the muscle fiber your heading for a break down. The three other guys I'm training with David "I float like a butterfly" Katz, Mike "calves of steel" O'Connor and Peter "I'll run threw a brick wall" Floss have all been hammering every training run and every time I join them they're killing me with a fast pace. I've just about given up trying to hang with them the whole route these days and run according to how I feel.

This morning was a perfect example. I arrived early and headed out towards the direction David runs from every morning. David has been struggling with a sore hammy. When I met up with him I asked if this was going to be an easy run today. His reply was "Yes". I'm thinking "good that way I can relax this morning". As the group arrived we called out the route and off we went. 1 mile into the run, I looked at David and asked "I thought we were going to take it easy this morning". His reply "I guess not". GREAT!! I hanging on for dear life once again and after 3 miles was soon shat out the back door. The boys were nice and waited for me up at the pinnacle of our run in Westford center. As we headed down for the 1.5 miles to the finish the pace picked up once again. This time I was ready for them and explained to them that I usually do fairly well in Boston because it's a down hill course and I just let my long stride carry me for the first 16 miles, work through mile 21, then let my stride take over once again for the final 5 miles. So here we were with 1.5 miles of down hill to go. I just sat back at the back of the pack, resting and waiting for my time. With about 1/4 mile to go I made my move. The other 3 guys took note and began to turn it up too. First I passed Peter, then came David. Now I was chasing Tom "runs like a gazelle" Skahen. Tom loves to finish hard and I've never been able to catch him in the past. Today was different, I came along side him and he turned up the tempo 5 clicks. I found that I still had another gear and accelerated. As I pulled away I could hear him making one more effort to catch back up, but low and behold I had even one more gear. Where did this come from? My guess is 2 fold. First, these guys are running hard every day and are just plain tired and need to take a break. Second, with all the extra workouts I been doing with P90X, my hammys are much stronger and I'm able to turn over my feet faster.

Now the three guys, David, Peter, and Mike are all in good shape and will do very well in Boston this year. In fact I'm predicting that all three will PR. But I'll keep saying it to them that they have to have some rest days. All of them are in their mid 40's and sooner or later they will break down. I know, been there, done that, don't want to go back.

Anyway training continues. Two weekends ago I did a 13 mile run on the course from the Wellesley community center to BC and back and ended up averaging 8 minute pace. Last weekend I did a 20 mile run from Natick to BC and back and averaged 7:45's. This weekend I'm heading out to Hopkinton and will run to BC for 21 miles and hope to average 7:30's. But you never know. I feel strong and I'm not afraid to run hard. Of course I'll be taking it easy Friday and make sure I follow my hard / easy pattern.

Monday, March 16, 2009

I pulled the trigger

Despite my better judgment I ended up signing up for the Mt Washington Road Race over the weekend. I was pushed by several people who in my mind are crazier then me. Steve Wolfe for one who had one heck of a snowshoe season then ends up running at PR yesterday at the New Bedford half with at 1:19:55, CONGRAD's Steve!! Then there was Bill Morse, who also had a super snowshoe season and competed in the Nationals last weekend. He will be running his 28th time up the rock pile. 28 times!!! That's got to leave a mark.

So, this is one lottery that I'm not really excited about winning....YET.

Forecast for Mt Washington Road Race? Pain....Heavy At Times!!!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Mt Washington RR...To sign up or not!!

Well we only have 2 more days to sign up for the lottery for one of the toughest road races in America. I've only run this race 3 times, and each time I swear that I'll never do it again.

The first time I ran it was in 1990. I remember it was a very warm day at the bottom and I had not gotten a very good nights sleep because we were staying at the Eagle Mountain Nest and our room had to be in the 90's the night before and my new born son decided that he was going to cry most of the night. So I put him in the car at 2AM and went for a 1 hour drive to get him to sleep. It worked but it also knocked the snot out of me. To add injury to insult...I was running with a groin injury and was not able to take full strides. I don't think that really mattered that much because you can't take full strides in that race. That year I think I finished in 1:20 and right as I finished Mike Beeman who finished just in front of me grabbed his head and started yelling that he couldn't see. I guess that the strain and the altitude had cause his sight to go. DD and I grabbed him and helped him out until his sight returned. At that point I was cold and needed to get of the rock pile. So I jumped in the back of a pickup truck and was carted down. That night I DD and his wife and Me and my wife were hanging out in the bar watching a replay of the race. At one point the camera shows DD waking. It was priceless because DD immediately started squawking that "that was the only time I walked....REALLY" To funny.

Fast forward to 1999 and I wasn't in good shape but I figured I could gut out the race. A group of us went up and raced as teams against each other. It was Keith Spinney and Ken Rousseau against Joe Karner and myself. The losers would have to buy dinner for the winners. Joe ran a 1:25 and I ran a 1:30. While Keith ran a 1:25 and ken ran a 1:32. Thanks to Joe those steaks tasted wonderful that night. But once again when I reach the top I was very cold. I don't think I spent more than 5 minutes up there and I turned around and ran back down in 50 minutes. Boy did my quads hurt after that.

My last attempt was in 2007. However 1 week before the race I pulled a muscle in my lower back and was in an incredible amount of pain. After crawling around for 3 days my wife convinced me to go to the doctors. The doctor looked me over and decided it was just a muscle pull and I was to lie down for 2 weeks. Right after he told me this I asked him "Is it OK for me to run up Mt Washington in 3 days"? He shook his head and said, "you're a runner and you're not going to rest, are you"? Well I showed up to the race with Joe Karner and at the base of the mountain I was laying in the grass trying to figure out how I was going to run this race. I was in tears from the pain. I even had 800mg of IBP in me. So as I walked very slowly to the starting line I went directly to the back. This was a first for me. The gun went off and I was the last person to cross the starting line. All the way up the Mt I was in pain. For the final push to the finish I gave it everything I had and the picture of me crossing the finish line is priceless. I'm almost in tears. I ran a 1:50, and was very happy with the results.

Well a group of my buddies (Team ROAG) got a hold of that finish line photo and had it put on a Wheaties box and now give it out as an annual award at their holiday dinner. It's call the PHAT award (Pain...Heavy At Times). It's given out to the member of the group who pushes themselves way beyond all reasonable means. So far I've won this award for the past 2 years. However this year we have a member who pushed them self through a 90Km cross country ski race with little training. I think he owns it.

So what should I do? Sign up and take a chance at getting the PHAT award one more time or sit back and enjoy life? What would you do?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Training and more Training

I've been off the air for the past 2.5 weeks and doing double secret training. What am I training for you wonder? Well, the answer to that would be the 113th Boston Marathon. This will be my 24th consecutive running of the race. As my wife always says "Stupidity repeats itself year after year".

Anyway I've been able to get in 1 hour runs almost daily since my last snowshoe race. With a long run of 13 miles last Saturday on the course. What a beautiful day it was. In fact there were so many people out on the course that day it almost seemed like the race was going on. I ran from Wellesley to BC and back. The carriage road through the Newton hills was packed with runners.

So what the double secret part of the workout?

A couple of weeks ago I made the decision to get into really good shape. I noticed while running the Snowshoe series that my upper body was not holding up to the pounding my legs were giving it. I found that I was leaning over quite a bit and just didn't have the strength to drive to the finish in many races. My core muscles were just not fit. In addition I knew that I was at least 10+ lbs over weight.

So the question was how was I going to get into good shape? Well I was watching TV and flipped to an Infomercial and saw something that caught my eye. P90X. Now this was not the first time I had ever heard of this program but now I was watching something that really made sense to me. Their program goes on the premise of "Muscle Confusion". This is where you do exercises and before your muscles plateau as they get used to the exercise they change it up and push you to another level. I made a couple of phone calls to people I knew who had done the program and everyone raved about it. But they also warned me that you have to stick with it for 90 days!! I did a whole bunch of checking on the web and read countless reviews and almost every one of them was positive. The only negative ones were from people who just couldn't stick with it for the full 90 days. One other factoid I found out was that you needed to be in fairly decent shape to begin with. If you're a couch potato this is not a good program to start with. Lastly, they have a nutritional program you have to stay on. If you don't like chicken or fish you're in trouble.

So the day after my last SS race up at Kingman Farm I began the program, February 22, 2009. Day 1 went well for the first hour of arms and chest then I was killed during the final 16 minutes and 7 seconds. During this period you do an ab workout called "The Ab Ripper X". Holy S#!%!! What a workout!!!!!! The ab workout consists of 11 exercises that just blow your stomach apart. Of the 349 moves I think I was only able to handle 150 of them at best.

Now before starting this program I had a waist of 35 inches, I was at 175lbs, I had a constant sore back that was always on the verge of blowing out. I couldn't put socks on without sitting down, my right Achilles tendon was always barking at me, and lastly my neck was in constant pain.

Fast forward 17 days. My waist is now 33, I weigh 161lbs, my back feels super, socks are not a problem putting on while standing up, and my neck is loose as a goose (I don't know how loose a goose, but it works for me). Lastly my Achilles tendon is MUCH BETTER. Why do I think it's going so good for me? The program doesn't just have you lifting weights. Your also doing lots of exercises where you stretching muscles and improving flexibility. Yoga is one thing I've never done before and I thought that I was breeze through it. NOT!!! The first time I attempted it I was falling all over the place, couldn't do 50% of the moves and barely made it through the 90 minute workout. Tonight will be attempt #3 at Yoga. My wife is joining me, she should get a good laugh tonight. However I am getting better at it.

How am I doing on the "Ab Ripper X" workout these days. Well I'm not able to do 100% of it yet but I guessing that I'm hitting 334 of the 349 moves.

So has this helped my running? Yes, absolutely without a doubt.

More to come. Or as they say in P90X....Bring IT!!