The World is Going to Shit and I’m Fat and Lazy Again (or, just another February in New England)

This winter has been a shit show, but you don’t need me to tell you that.  I’ve significantly let my training go and I’m now paying the price.  The biggest drop in my fitness is felt when I’m done with a run.  I remember when I first started running, how red my face was when I was finished, and that shit is happening again.  It’s fucking embarrassing, but at least I know what’s happening and that a month is too fucking long to take off drinking beer, eating cake and playing video games.

This week I just started.  4 slow, short runs so far, but it’s definitely a start.  I hate how far I’ve slid, but I’m trying to focus on building my base back up.  I know that I can get back to where I was so that’s not really bothering me.  It’s mostly that I’m sore and tired from distances that I was past being sore and tired from years ago.  Damn that cake was amazing.

Gym Workouts and Computer Upgrades

It’s been an interesting first week of my alcohol-free diet.  First things first, it’s been way easier than I anticipated it would be.  I’ve been able to go to bed relatively early and am getting some decent sleep.  I’ve logged 14 miles running with another 6 planned today, plus 28 miles on the bike.  It’s windy as fuck today, so I might wait until tomorrow to hit the extra 6 before this weekend’s “Longer” runs.  Not really going to push it.  On Saturday I plan on hitting Drummer for the first time this year.  Chris wants to check out the course for this June’s Race and I always like going up there.  Depending on how that goes, I’ll head out Sunday for some junk miles or maybe hit the gym and do a little treadmill and bike work.

Onto the computer side of things.  I’ve been thinking about upgrading my graphics card for months now and I’m finally settling on a card.  I’m thinking about the AMD R9 380.  It’s locking around Amazon and Newegg for around $200, and maybe in a few weeks I can pull the trigger on it, we’ll see.  I’m not going to lie, it’s all about playing Fallout 4.  I wish I could finagle something about needing it for work, but it ain’t.  I was able to play Witcher 3 on my current card at low settings and it wasn’t terrible, but I’m super jealous of the details I missed, and don’t want the same thing to happen with Fallout 4.

First 20 of the Year

45mphSunday I knocked out my first 20 miler of the year.  It was an absolutely stunning February day and I was able to hit the rail trail for a majority of the run.  I’m pretty enthusiastic about the day and that I got in a 20 miler this early into this training cycle.  My right foot, which has given me the majority of pain since Ghost Train, feels pretty good and the knees were a little pinged later in the day, but mostly I feel my body has recovered nicely and ready for another week of training.

Yesterday I went to the gym for a 20 mile recovery ride on the stationary bike.  I’m actually not really sure how accurate the distance on those bikes are and if I’m going to hard or not hard enough on the tension.  I would love to build a trainer system with one of those fancy-ass computer programs that I see popping up on Strava here and there, but I’m scraping by with 2 pairs of aging shoes right now and don’t have nearly enough scratch to throw at a franken-trainer.

Probably the biggest news of the week is that I am officially quitting drinking until after the Spring Classic.  I’m struggling to drop the weight, and high-octane craft beers don’t exactly add to the strategic caloric plan I want to embrace.  I’m also going to try and do some sort of workout every day.  I’m even considering one of those daily, home workout subscriptions I keep seeing on Hulu.

I know April isn’t the goal month for the year and there are plenty of months left in the year and plenty of races, but I want a strong summer of training and feel like I’m behind already, although the 40 miles I put in this week makes me feel a little better.  Ghost Train registration just went live and I also want to do Pisgah again.  It’s a long season and I need to remind myself that I have plenty of time to run plenty of trails.

8 Miles On Trashed Legs

It’s been a while since I put in any significant mid-week miles and yesterday it showed.  I put in 4 on Tuesday, 8 on Wednesday, including 4 miles of intervals, and 8 yesterday.  After my marathon last April, I started up again too soon and really exhausted myself.  Then, in an attempt to mix up my training, switched from a mile based plan to a time based plan.  Even though I was able to complete my goal of 45 miles at Ghost Train, looking back, I don’t think I was training hard enough.  On the other hand, I think that if I had trained harder, I might have actually injured myself and not have been able to race at all.  Either way, I’m feeling way behind where I think I should be in my training for this year’s TARC Spring Classic.

The most telling example is yesterday’s run.  I went out feeling truly beat.  The kind of beat you feel in the last part of a race.  It was an all-around shit show.  It was warmish, but with a pouring rain.  A mile in, I cleared my nose and it started bleeding ridiculously, which lasted until about mile 4.  A few miles later, all the blood that I had swallowed started to turn my stomach.  I kept from barfing, but that made me almost shit myself…  All on legs that felt like cement.

I’m glad I got in the 20 miles this week with another 20 planned for the weekend.  I haven’t hit 40 in a while and am looking forward to pushing myself on the rail trail if it’s not a skating rink.  I love heading out and just doing a long out and back.  There’s excitement in exploring new trails, but I also love the comfort of a soothing out and back.  I’ll line up some podcasts and just get lost in my head without getting lost in the woods.

Beard, No Beard

I’m trying hard to beat the February doldrums with anything I can to shake it up.  Yes, even shaving the beard.  When I was younger and felt I needed to make a mental switch, I’d shave my head.  Not exactly sure why I thought a physical change would help with a mental hurdle, but it did.  Before I shaved the beard, I thought I would miss it or quickly realize that I’d made a huge mistake, but really it’s not that big a deal.  I might put it back on come fall, but for now, I’m enjoying not having beard in my food or food in my beard.

Yesterday I planned on hitting the treadmill and bike at the gym, but unfortunately, ran out of time and was only able to run.  I did manage to get in 8 miles, split between 4 miles of quarter mile intervals and 4 miles of an easier pace.  One thing I love about the gym is that I can catch up on my Hulu queue.  If the wife doesn’t particularly like a show, I toss it into my gym queue.  I’m currently watching the new X-Files and 11.22.63 which I’m completely digging on.  Without spoiling anything, the last few minutes of the second episode of 11.22.63 was so frantic that I unconsciously sped up my cadence and almost ran into the front of the treadmill.

Beard, No Beard

39 Miles on My 39th Birthday

Well, this old man turned 39 on Wednesday and I decided to attempt dumping out my age over the course of the day.  When I first thought up this little plan, I also wanted to do different runs with different people that I’ve run with over the past year.  That worked out ok.  My sister and friend Chris were able to make it and my buddy John would have, but spent the previous day in the ER with blood poisoning…  seriously, what is this, 1915?  Get better buddy.

I started by going to bed early on Tuesday and getting up at 2:30 for a 3am start.  I wanted to get at least 13 in before I had to be back at home on account of my wife needing to leave for work around 5.  It felt good running in the dark, it’s been a while since I’ve creeped myself out on a trail, with a headlamp, by myself.  I was able to put in over 13 before heading home and making coffee.  At this point I felt good and was stoked to get a third of the miles done.

After hanging with my daughter at the coffee shop for a while, we went over to my folks place which is near one of my favorite, local trail systems, Drummer Hill.  After visiting with my parents for a bit, I took off, up the hills for a little over 7 miles.  I was a little worried about how my legs would respond, but they were surprisingly springy and I was able to have a great time bouncing around the single tracks and fire roads before heading back to my parents place.  After that, we headed home and I took about an hour before heading back out, this time on the roads to even my overall mileage at 24.  When I got back, I showered, tried to eat something and took a little nap.  Although I was only able to pass out for about 20 minutes, it felt good to lay down.  I then started getting myself ready for the last 15 miles which I was breaking up into 2 runs.

The first, a 3 miler with my sister, who is recovering from a bitch of a knee problem and the second, the last 12, with Chris.  The first run was great.  I haven’t run with my sister in a long time and miss our conversations.  I’m definitely ready for her to get healthy and back out there this fall.  After about 20 minutes, I headed back out onto the rail trail, up about a mile to where Chris lives.  From there we continued up the rail trail for an out and back.  You should know, Chris is a hell of a trail runner and when he takes me on runs, I’m usually following him up stupid climbs and amazing single track.  I felt like a baby, but told him there’s no way that shit was going to happen today.  He had no problem with it and was great slowing to run my pace and keep my mind light with jokes and stories.  If I ever run a 50 or 100, I’ll beg this guy to pace me, he’s great.

That’s about it.  The day ended with beers and burgers at Elm City Brewing Company.  Overall, I feel good about the day.  I wish I had planned out a better eating schedule.  I wasn’t able to eat any “real” food until dinner.  My nutrition over the day consisted of bananas, Honey Stinger Waffles, Huma gels, raw almonds and Tailwind.  Although I didn’t bonk on any of my runs, I definitely need to start taking in regular chow before Ghost Train in November.

39 on my 39th.  That’s how it went down.  Next year maybe 40?  All at once?  Yup.

Inspired Again

Nothing bad has ever come from tacos and beer.  Last night the wife and I invited a fellow runner and new(ish) acquaintance over for some grilled chicken tacos and Stoneface IPAs.  I recently met Chris at our local coffee shop that we’ve both frequented for years.  After one of the baristas mentioned that Chris was an ultra-runner, I spat out my social awkwardness and introduced myself.  A week later, I was chasing him and his running partner up some hills in Marlborough and last night we broke bread tacos together.  Through all the reading I’ve done about trail running and all the videos that speak to the community, I’m becoming more and more convinced that it’s not bullshit.  They are some of the most welcoming and gracious folks I’ve met since starting this experiment about 10 months ago.  After just a few days, Chris had invited me on a run and never made it seem weird that I was there with them on the trail.  I consider myself a complete newbie to the sport and am still in the stage of laying low and watching the grownups do their thing.  Running with, or mostly behind, Chris and Keith, without being made to feel like I was holding them back, gives testament to the philanthropy of the trail running community.

marlborough_4.4.15_2

Yesterday was a truly beautiful spring day and it happened right when we needed it.  This winter was an especially cold and depressing season so the sunny, 70° weather yesterday was incredibly renewing.  After chowing, we all sat on the porch and chatted about some of Chris’s races and experiences on the trail.  He was gracious in answering what must have been child-like questions and took the time to tell some stories and have some laughs.  I woke up this morning inspired to hit the webs again with this little blog.  I have to remember that as new to this sport as I am, there is always someone who is newer than me.  My hope is that I’m able to pass whatever little bit of knowledge I have, down the line to the next person who will eventually do the same.

marlborough_4.4.15_1

On to a bit of a training update.  My first marathon is coming up in less then two weeks and I am at the point in my schedule where my weekly miles are shortening.  Last week I hit 40, but this week will be considerably less, probably somewhere in the mid 20s.  I’m still not sold on the whole taper thing, but I vowed to stick to the plan, and it’s been going well so far.  After Sunday’s 13 miler, I had a bit of soreness in my right knee, but nothing serious.  I’m hoping the let-up in miles will set my legs up for a smooth race, but who knows really.  Sure as shit, not me.  What I do know is that I’m still enjoying the run, the trails are thawing out, and if I was able to kick through 18 miles of knee deep snow, I can at least creep through 26.2 miles of trails.

Broken Month

this winter's broken me.

this winter’s broken me.

I’m going to get right into it, I’ve had a real hard time getting out there and putting in the miles.  It’s a total mind-fuck not having the motivation to go do what I love.  This month in New Hampshire has been, without a doubt one of the shittiest I’ve endured.  I’m not sure if it was any colder, but we definitely had more snow and that’s what has absolutely broken me.  This is the first winter I’ve spent as a runner and it’s crushing to not have the trails or even roads passable.  We’ve had such frigid conditions mixed with a ton of precipitation and it’s making for very icy sidewalks and mostly unusable trails.  Where I live there isn’t a great trail system.  There are mainly a couple of rail trails that the snow mobiles use and some remote areas that are just conservation land that isn’t maintained.  This is great in the spring/summer/fall months when you can pretty much run some decent technical stuff all by yourself without worry of dog walkers and bikers, but in the winter, with the snow up past your knees, it sucks for running.

I’ve had some other runners tell me that they tend to do less running and more snowshoeing and cross country skiing in the winter.  Those both sound great, but first it’s not running and second, I have to save up for a new pair of running shoes, I really don’t have the dough to drop on some seasonal gear.  I was using the gym, but after about 4 miles on a treadmill, I always develop blisters, so long runs are out.  I’ve fallen way off my marathon training without a long run in two weeks and that’s taking it’s toll mentally on me.  I moved my schedule around this week so I can get in a full week of running and that’s cleared my head a little.  I’m planning on an 18 miler this weekend and depending on how that goes, I’ll decide if I’ll still run the marathon I planned on in late April.  I’m trying not to beat myself up about it, but it still stings a bit.

I really didn’t think about how the winter here would disrupt my running.  We had such a mild November and December weather wise and then blammo, January and February were the worst, but I’m starting to see the end now.  I’m starting to feel the sun coming up earlier and we get to turn the clocks forward next week, which should help.  It almost feels like the worst is behind us and I’m looking forward to having a full season of running.  The good news is that I’m already miles ahead of where I was when I started last year.  I’m just going to try and make it through the rest of this crap and exhale as soon as I can.

5K Punch

The Run

This morning, I was trying like hell to wake up after another late night, this time sober and watching my Buckeyes beat Alabama, I thought hell, I can just take today off.  It’s only 3 miles and in the big scheme of things taking time off will help me stay healthy…  AHA!  but I realized that this was just my brain trying to trick me.  Stupid brain again, gotcha this time brain.  The temp is back up over 30° and was a nice morning, so I laced them up and went.  I was trying to keep a pretty brisk pace, but really didn’t think I would be able to keep it under 8s for the entire run.  There are a few bigger hills, two of which are smack dab in the last .75 mile of the run, so I wasn’t thinking personal best, just quicker than I’ve been.  I was able to keep a 7:53 pace overall, finishing the run in 24:37.  My last mile did fall off a bit at 8:07, but overall I felt good and wasn’t sucking too much air.

This run came exactly when I needed it.  I was thinking the other day about the training I did for my first 5K and all the speed work and intervals that were part of that plan and how very “unspeedy” I’ve felt during the time I’ve been growing my distances.  Today was nice in reminding me that I can still put the foot down on my gas.

The Shoes

I’ve logged about 260 miles so far in my pair of Altra Instinct 2 and am starting to see some wear.  I never really liked the bulk of the shoe and the toe and heal are the biggest of that bulk.  The toes has this giant rubber front that I don’t understand and where that piece attached to the side of the shoe is where the shoes are starting to fail.  Besides that, there is only a little wear on the outsole, which I would expect.

I’m going to start bargain shopping for some Altra One², the shoe I originally wanted to buy.  I do like these shoes, I’m not really complaining, but I would like to go back to a shoe that doesn’t have as much…  everything.

Tomorrow I’m planning a 5 mile pace run with 6 slower miles to follow on Sunday.  I haven’t been wearing the brace this week and so far haven’t encountered any problems with the knee.  Unless I wake up tomorrow with some pain or oddness, I’ll likely wait until next week’s 11 miler to strap it on again.

Long Run Recap and Some Other Hogwash

I know that I’m really hitting that spot in blogging when I’m not feeling that there’s anything to really pipe up about.  I would love to have fresh ideas every morning, but sometimes there just ain’t much to jabber on about.  Yesterday however, I had a fantastic run with my buddy John,  We did a long out and back on a local rail trail.  7 miles up, 7 miles back.  The whole run was enjoyable, including the sights and weather.  We did a 12 miler back a month or so along the same trail, just not as far up.  It’s crazy, but in just the extra mile we extended up the trail, we saw parts of our “back yard” neither one of us had been to before.  I wanted to take some pictures, but it just didn’t feel right.  I’m definitely going back up there with the DSLR to crack some shots, but I’d like to do it on a hike, when I don’t mind taking the time to relax for a minute or ten.  Overall, great conversations, great miles, great weather and a new feeling that I haven’t explored all there is around here.  (note, I’ve stopped linking my daily runs since I added the Strava widget to the right.)

Now on to the other hogwash.  First, I haven’t written much about it here, but I’m super deep into pc gaming and have been for a long while now.  It doesn’t stop there though, I’ve also played World of Warcraft for nearly 9 years and always get excited when they have there near annual convention in Anaheim, California.  It was a blast following the attendees blogs and tweets over the weekend.  This is definitely a “bucket list” event.  The new expansion for the game is released this Thursday, and I’m giddy like a drunk donkey waiting to get my hands on it.

MORE hogwash.  When I found Ethan Newberry’s Ginger Runner and began devouring all of his old live shows, I also came across a couple of other cats that are also making running movies.  One of those runners is Billy Yang.  Besides being a tremendous ultra runner himself, he’s made some fantastic films.  His film “Sky High Flag: the Town | the People | the Race” about the running community in Flagstaff, Arizona and the Flagstaff Skyrace was superb.  Well, we all knew he was working on a film that follows Sally McRae during her Western States 100 race.  The trailer for the film has been on Billy’s YouTube page since July and I’ve been waiting for the final product.  WELL, WELL, WELL…  What did I see this morning in my feedly?  Why it’s a review of the film by iRunFar.com.  I was so stoked thinking that we were getting close to a release date.  Up until this morning, I thought that Billy was only doing local premiers for the film and that being out here in New Hampshire, I’d have to wait even longer to see the final product.  What’s this I read?  Going live on his YouTube channel Tuesday, November 11?  OUTSTANDING!  I’m so excited to watch this movie and hope that you all head over there and check out his other films.