Summary Nov 20-26

Monday Nov 20, REST

Usual scheduled rest day, did some walking around, standing desk working, light stretching, and tons of foam rolling/R8 abusing.. you know, the usual crap

Tues Nov 21, 10.3 Miles, 312′ 1h15m

Very controlled effort at the rez, keeping things consistent/autopilot-ish. Threw in 4x30s fast with 2min recovery in the last 3 miles, for a little extra stimulus.

Wed Nov 22, 11.3 Miles, 476′ 1h26m

Plan was for 4 miles easy, 12x1min fast, 1 min easy, and 4 miles back, so I decided to start the run from my front door and head towards the reservoir to hit the intervals on the cushy gravel before heading back to the house. Overall I was feeling pretty soggy out the door, but perked up when it came time to put in “the work.” Return trip was plagued by some mild heartburn, and some seriously waning motivation so I basically jogged it in, slowly removing some more rubber from the bottom of my shoes

Thurs Nov 23, 11 Miles, 1493′ 1h42m

Martha dropped me off at the TH for Sanitas so that I could out and back the swoop (lion’s lair) and run back home within the prescribed daily distance. Caught a dude on his deck near Wonderland Lake blasting “Alice’s Restaurant” so I had to join in for chorus while I passed. Overall things felt really controlled/easy, and definitely warmed up the oven for some Thanksgiving consumption.

Fri Nov 24, 6 Miles, 420′ 50m

Super casual out the front door jog on the Foothills trail. Kept things deliberately easy/ controlled before driving to Crested Butte for the weekend.

Sat Nov 25, 15.3 Miles, 2014′ 2h38m

Martha found what looked like a pretty chill trail out the front door of our Crested Butte rental, so that seemed like the best idea for some higher altitude trail running. I didn’t however plan for the terrain being either ice covered, or shoe-sucking mud for the entire route, so after knotting my fists for a while I decided that it would just have to be an adventure, and that I might as well enjoy the scenery while I’ve got it. After slogging through the day (and forgetting to eat the gel I carried) i was pleasantly surprised at the overall pace — it almost looks like running!

Sun Nov 26, 12 Miles, 2264′ 2h2m

Front Door>Wonderland Lake>Goat Trail>Red Rocks>Sanitas via Swoop>East Ridge>Goat>Dog Park>Home. Threw in 4x 30s uphill striders before leaving the Sanitas Valley and cruising back home. Legs are feeling pretty solid after a big week, and even the late-run strides felt pretty reasonable.

Summary: 66 Miles, 6978′ 9h55m

Overall a good week. My legs have felt really solid through the increased distance, and intervallic work. I’d like to get a bit more vert, but that was mostly a symptom of time/location, and I’m pretty confident that next week will be ripe for some more climbing, and speed-work while keeping the volume similar.

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Looking North (Sanitas)
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Crested Butte (Pic: Martha Scheler)
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More CB (Pic: Martha Scheler)
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Summary Oct 16-22

Monday Oct 16 REST

Scheduled rest day after 2 weeks worth of business travel with a wedding sandwiched in-between. Really enjoying the new 7-3 schedule my boss requested, it has both the advantage of increased overlap with my co-workers (who are mostly on EST and GMT) and allowing me to wrap up unbelievably early. Spent the evening getting intimate with my R8 Roll Recovery, and hitting the rack early

Tuesday Oct 17, 8 Miles, 1565′ 1h16m46s

Very casual effort on the Mesa trail starting at Chautauqua and heading South. Fell into taking the uphills comfortably hard, and really relaxing on the downs. I haven’t spent much time on the Mesa trail–mainly using it as a means of accessing Green/Bear/South Boulder, so I was pleasantly surprised by the vertical gain/loss, as well as the rockier stretches.

Wed Oct 18, 10 Miles, 906′ 1h22m52s

4.1 Miles out my front door through Boulder and over towards the Centennial TH for repeats. Ran 10x30s uphill repeats from the TH enjoying the cushy gravel and views up the Canyon/over to Sanitas during recovery periods. Followed the repeats up with a casual jog back and around Wonderland lake before heading home. Perfect late afternoon sunshine over the foothills made for a nice cool-down.

Thurs Oct 19, 9.5 Miles, 1109′ 1h23m04s

MAGS! I texted El Jefe to make sure that it was okay to run Thursday’s effort up on Magnolia Road, and was pleasantly surprised when he not only green-lit the idea, but suggested hitting up Mags for anything that isn’t a slow/chill day. Headed out super-casually from the South end of the road for 4 miles, followed by another 10x30s uphill  session and a 4 mile casual run back to the truck. Some moderate heartburn ensured — note to self: spicy lunch and afternoon runs aren’t a great combo.

Fri Oct 19, 6 Miles, 480′ 47m22s

Easy-does-it front door effort on the  Foothills trail. It took the first three miles to shake the brain fog off of the work day.

Sat Oct 20, 14 Miles 3796′ 2h33m02s

NCAR>Bear Peak (8459′)>Green Mountain (8148′)>NCAR Via Mesa, Bear Canyon, and Green/Bear. Decidedly casual effort up to the top of Bear. I picked it up in the last 500 or so feet mostly because I was getting a chill from the winds. Built up some nerve headed back towards Green, where I ran into Ben, and the two of use decided to let loose back towards NCAR. Probably took the downhill a little faster than I should have (6:58, 7:53 through the switchbacks, 7:04 and 7:35 back to Mesa) but it felt too good to open up a little. Took a pretty gnarly spill about .5 miles from the mesa trail due to pure idiocy, but seem to have gotten out pretty much unscathed. Followed the run up with a proper FATurday celebration, and found myself no match for the Boulder Beer tempeh burger… I’ll try harder next time.

Sun Oct 21, 10.5 Miles, 2490′ 1h58m53s

Plan called for an “easy” 10 miles anywhere I wanted followed by 4x30s uphill strides, so I drove out to NCAR and headed up to Green Mountain via Bear Canyon>Green/Bear.  This is definitely my favorite stretch of trail in the area–a decidedly non-technical cushy stretch of single-track that averages 500’/mile (enough that you know you’re climbing, but not so steep that you can justify hiking). Ran much more conservatively than Saturday, really just soaking in the sunlight and enjoying paradise. 4x30s uphill at the end of the day was a serious junk-punch, but driving some quick turnover while run-down was still pretty fun.

Summary: 58 Miles, 10344′ 9h21m

Overall a really successful week. I’m unbelievably stoked to have some help with my training plan, and the feedback loop included within. While I’ve never had trouble getting the motivation to step out the front door, there’s a different degree of accountability driven by having a coach… and that makes those end of week uphill strides that much easier to do harder to avoid. I’m really excited to see where this goes as we head into winter, and start making concrete plans for 2018.

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Hmm, the #Tonkamotel might need some winter upgrades
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I can see my house from here!
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NoBo towards Green
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Green #35 (lifetime)
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No #cleanplateclub for me today 😦
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Summit #36

Summary Dec 5-11

Monday Dec 5, 6 Miles, 449′ 47m56s

Overslept the 4:30 wakeup call which meant leaving the house at 6:17 on a compressed schedule. Generally the legs felt okay but lacked any sort of snappiness as has been the norm since the Fallback 50K right before Thanksgiving. Fortunately my hip seems to have recovered better, and is substantially less sore.

Tues Dec 6, Warmup 1.5 Miles 59′ 12m, Workout –6.7 Mile, 174′ Tempo, 45m13s 

Pre-dawn solo Tempo Tuesday. Avg HR was 167 throughout the workout, and the first 3 miles felt exceptionally grueling, add to that a very dejecting 6:52 split for mile 3 made me rethink the idea of tempo runs in the cold-pre-dawn hours without a training partner around to push me. Final 3.7 miles felt better, but didn’t provide much more in the way of snappy splits despite the elevated HR effort. Afterwards my hip flared up a bit an felt tight for the remainder of the day — back to fire-hydrants and foam rolling. .49 Mile cool down 

Wed Dec 7, 8 Miles 745′ 59m59s

Forecast called for snow, so rather than doing pre-dawn battle with the snow-plow man I chose to sleep in and hit my run after work. Naturally no snow was on the ground when I got up, but conditions after work were ideal, so I can’t really complain. First two (downhill) miles out my front door were recklessly quick — especially relative to the “8 miles EZ” written in my plan for the day. Legs felt confidently snappy making for a very enjoyable outing

Thurs Dec 8, 7 Miles 338′ 51m

Negatives workout with JP. JP has been espousing his regular negative split workouts running from 8-830 pace down to a final all-out mile, so I finally got myself together and joined him for a 7 mile version. Mentally the need to consistently best your previous mile makes for an interesting workout from a pacing/effort calculation point of view, and the constant acceleration facilitates a sort of fatigue that for now feels more than a little unique. Splits were 8:29, 7:55, 7:27, 7:06, 6:54, 6:40, and 6:19.

1 Mile cool down (9m9s 39′) followed by 5 Mile Social run (44m43s 337′)

Fri Dec 9, 2.3 Miles, 259′ 19m56s 

Easy neighborhood shakeout. Generally fatigued throughout the day and wanted to take the chance to recover a bit before Saturday’s inevitable sufferfest.

Sat Dec 10, Warmup — 2.3 Miles, 180′ 18m3s, Workout — 13.1 Miles 1h27m33s

Typical Chatham loop Saturday course with Jay and Jeff. With Jay and I just starting our training blocks, and Jeff in between a PR and planning his next races no one was checking their watches until we hit mile five or six. Surprisingly we were only a few seconds faster than our agreed upon pace of “45-ish” although I still can’t seem to wrap my head around how much easier tempo runs seem to get after the first few miles. We finished the workout alternating 400m pace line pulls dropping the group down to a 5:59 final mile, and according to my watch, the last 10th got to 5:47 pace.

Sun Dec 11, 11 Miles 1578′ 1h52m1s Allamuchy TH>Overlook>White>Waving Willy>SBX>Cement Mixer>TH with Pack and Eric

Woke up feeling pretty stiff/fatigued from Saturday’s effort as well as ravenously hungry, with some disconcerted swelling in my necks lymph nodes. Overall effort was pretty relaxed on the mountain, and considering the vert over the course I’m actually quite pleased that low 10’s are possible with an avg HR of 135. Great day to get out with some friends and hit up some always stellar trails.

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Eric at the Overlook
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Pack’s first Allamuchy Ramble
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Mmm, Mate

 

Summary Nov 7 -13

Monday Nov 7, 8 Miles, 830′ 1h3m

Teeing off from home before the work/travel day starts.. Still definitely feeling some funk in my legs from Saturday’s effort with Eric, but occasionally it’s nice to have the extra resistance to work against

Tuesday Nov 8, 4 Miles 29m4s–Treadmill

Unwilling to go out and explore pre-dawn in Sacramento before starting the workday, so I relegated myself to Heart-Rate based treadmill sessions. I was pleasantly surprised to find that below 7:00 pace I was still under 150BPM, which definitely bodes well for overall fitness/racing plans for next year (although I can’t say I truly trust the treadmill as a facsimile for real-life)

Wednesday Nov 9, 4 Miles, 30′ 29m1s

The hotel I was staying at has a nearly perfect mile-loop straight out the front door, so I found myself doing basically a MAF test.. teeing off at 5:24AM while suffering from some weird jet-lag sleeping issues. Again, pleasantly surprised that during a stressful week I was able to maintain a pretty peppy pace without going above 150BPM

Thursday Nov 10, 5 Miles, 367′ 42m40s

Broken Shin with Mikey and Smitty, generally taking it pretty relaxed, but negative splitting throughout. Great to get off of the plane and immediately into running shorts

Friday Nov 11, 1.5 Miles 151′ 12m14s

Jogging shakeout type thing

Saturday Nov 11, 15 Miles 522′ 1h53m

Generally a tempo run with Schooley’s Mountain thrown in the middle just for fun. Zack had wanted to do 15 hard on the rail-trail as his last prep run for JFK, but I couldn’t help but make sure we hit the overlook in Schooley’s. According to my watch, only 2 miles on the rail trail were over 7:00 (one at 7 even, one 7:01) so all-in-all a pretty solid outing

Sunday Nov 12, 13 Miles, 4908′ 2h41m

Last weekend Eric and I ran 4x Tammany, and upon getting home I realized that I’d done 4 loops of the mountain only a few times before, once in 2014, Once in 2012, and of course the time he and I hit five loops in 2015. We had agreed that our 3:1x last Saturday was decidedly sub-maximal, but when I found splits in my logbook indicating a 2:46 total moving time I was tempted to call bullshit on myself, knowing that I lacked a GPS, or particularly disciplined timing during those years, but I did some digging and found that I had written out splits for the ascent/descent of each lap, including an 18:43/18:59 first lap! Judging from the blog post it seems that I did take some time to take pictures on the top of the mountain, so I assumed that the logbook indicates moving time without effectively compensating for stoppages, but regardless was indicative of a rather aggressive effort against which I felt increasingly compelled to compare. the results are as follows:

Lap 1 — 19:53/20:05 (39:58 Lap) vs 18:43/18:59 (37:42 Lap)

Lap 2 — 20:43/19:14 (39:57 Lap) vs 21:48/20:42 (42:30 Lap)

Lap 3 — 21:26/19:43 (41:09 Lap) vs 22:43/20:10 (42:53 Lap)

Lap 4 — 21:21/18:43 (40:04 Lap) vs 23:35/19:33 (43:08 Lap)

What interests me more than the ~5 mins I shaved off the elapsed time is the consistency of today’s laps. The total margin of 1:12 between fastest and slowest is pretty stellar over a ~40 min loop, but having 1,2, and 4 being within 7s of each other is totally wild!

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Always choose the window seat.
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Limber Up
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Always Familiar
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Aftermath of Tam-Fest

 

Summary Oct 19-25

Sunday Oct 19, 2.3 Miles, 249′ 19m15s

Standard neighborhood shakeout type run, Monday’s are typically a hectic workday, which seems to gel pretty well for my lightest planned running day for the week.

Tuesday Oct 20, 9.7 Miles 315′ 1h3m

Started at Jay’s house, and “jogged” (~7:30pace) The 1.7 miles to Emman’s Road, our standardized tempo-stomping ground. We both stopped the watch to reset the metrics and crank out 8 miles @6:20 pace with a slight negative split in the last 3k. Generally it’s been feeling pretty good to open up my legs and see what they can do on a flat road course, although admittedly the sensation of a consistent grinding tempo run is still a little bit foreign to me.

Wed Oct 21, 9 Miles 466′ 1h9m

Left my apartment to drive the 2 miles into Flanders mostly to avoid running on bad roads during rush hour, although eliminating the ~250′ climb from the main road back up to my apartment was a nice bonus. Should have brought my camera with me, as the sunset on the ridge overlooking town was spectacular, I need to make a mental note that when running during golden hour it doesn’t matter if I’m on the roads, I should be bringing a camera… Overall the legs felt pretty solid after Tuesday’s tempo effort, even if they were a little bit heavy.

Thurs Oct 22, 4.5 Miles 571′ 40m3s

Standard HH 3.5 mile route with 5x repeats on the first half of the first hill. Coached Donde through my typical hill-repeat routine, which is primarily a strength building exercise with each repeat ending at LT effort, and a super-easy recovery jog back down the hill.

PM Run #2, 5 Miles, 413′ 40m15s

Standardized broken-shin loop with Smitty, relatively uneven pace as the legs wanted to go a bit harder than I had planned, forcing me to put the brakes on every mile, mile and a half to keep things from getting out of hand.

Fri Oct 23, 4 Miles, 741′ 39m58s

Easy Allamuchy loop with an overlook tag. The weather was just simply too stunning to keep myself relegated to the roads for another day. Unfortunately trail runs don’t seem to have a solid way to fit into my marathon training, and I’ve definitely been missing the mountains.

Sat Oct 24, 15 Miles, 456′ 1h50m

An overnight update of my iOs seemed to deactivate my alarm causing me to midd my scheduled run with Jay and Jeff, so in lieu of training partners I decided to throw in another workout. 3 Miles warmup in the 7:30 range followed by 10 miles under 7, and a 2 mile shakeout/cooldown. Admittedly I was a little disappointed about the splits during the 10 mile tempo, which definitely show how much pop the 8 miler and hill repeats took out of my legs.

Sunday Oct 25, 2.4 Miles, 236′ 21m56s

Super-easy shakeout run

PM HashOween 6.3 miles 558′ 2h53m

Nothing like crawling through sewer pipes, wading through rivers, getting lost in cemetery’s, and having  couple of wood-beers to wrap up your week… Dave and Gene officially lay the worst hashes every (and seem very proud of it)

Totals: 58.6 Miles, 4006′ 9h37m

Overall a pretty good week. I’ve been concentrating on working out more, and “running” less as I get tuned up for the Phila Marathon on the 22d. Coming off of MoMa I have a lot of confidence in my long-legs, and general ability to grit things out when it gets tough, but having not run a marathon since 2011 I’ve certainly been feeling a lot of internal and external pressure to put up a reasonably good time at a distance that’s so easily comparable across the field. The concept of running consistently hard splits, with nary a downhill for recovery still feels somewhat foreign to me, but looking across training logs I’ve been seeing my tempo runs get progressively faster, often with slightly lower HR’s associated as well, which keeps me optimistic that I’ll be able to deliver a solid performance come race day.

Utilizing the Standing-Desk to break up my workday
Utilizing the Standing-Desk to break up my workday
Allamuchy never fails to deliver
Allamuchy never fails to deliver
More Allamuchy, this one from a recovery hike Post MoMa (Photo Credit: Luisina Figuero Garro)
More Allamuchy, this one from a recovery hike Post MoMa (Photo Credit: Luisina Figuero Garro)

Taper (Mountain) Madness

“Tapering Sucks” was the singular text I sent my main training partner Eric. Eric, in his ever-positive voice of reason (one of his best character attributes) sought to remind me that I’m “building the energy,” which while comforting (and true) still doesn’t quench my desire to go for a several hour run right now.

I’ve always found tapering to be menacing, cutting off my training when it’s usually going the best seems cruel at best, at and times down right torturous… When I’ve timed things right, I hardly ever feel as if I need to taper, usually having already gritted my way through the hardest weeks of training,  and convinced my body that the volume of running I’m putting in is permanent, and thus sustainable.

This is of course complete bullshit, as very often, my body feels incredible just before it starts breaking down. It did so in March before my latest bout with running-induced injury, as well as before all of my best performances (and most painful injuries). I’m well aware that when I time my taper correctly, my body is as close to injury and breakdown as it can be without crossing that invisible line… and I’m also aware that often my body chooses to ignore aches and pains when it realizes that I have no intention to stop, only for these niggles to re-appear during tapering (see: healing). Intellectually I can process this, but emotionally… not as well. I know that I’m tuned up, and denying myself chances to run makes me feel like a fat kid left in a candy store who’s been told that he can’t touch anything, it just seems torturous.

As I continue to rest for the next 2 days leading into Mountain Madness, I have to remind myself that even without consistent testing my body is well prepared for the race. Until then, I’ll try to sleep more, eat as well as I can, and be patient. On Saturday however, I will toe the line, take the gloves off, and push myself towards the finish line as fast as I can, a return to my natural form, an ultra runner again, rather than some guy who keeps telling barroom stories about how he used to run far. Since it’s been a while since my last posting, here are some photo’s from the summers training.

Eric and Jason at Bear Mountain
Sunfish Pond (Photo: Eric Ashley)
From the annual Maine pilgrimage
The last battle with the Bonkasaur
Allamuchy

Summary Nov 10-16

Monday November 10, AM 3 Miles, 151′ 23m16s
Short shake-out type thing. Legs haven’t fully recovered from the previous Saturday’s abuse… I might still be able to grind out a 4+ hour run, but recovering from it is another story.
PM Bike, 47m34s
Local neighborhood bike ride, figured I’d take ‘Zilla out for what is probably the last ride of the season.

Tuesday November 11, AM 7 Miles, 663′ 55m46s
Overall a really desultory local road loop out my front door. I’d been foolishly hoping that a couple of days of light running/XT would give my legs ample opportunity to recover, but the reality is that the ability to grind day in and day out is probably my biggest indicator of fitness, and is sorely missing right now.
PM Climbing 2.5hrs
Headed over to the rock gym with Zach. Spent most of the time bouldering and learning better ways to do a sport that I’m admittedly pretty terrible at (perhaps why I’m so intrigued by it right now).

Wed Nov 12, 10 Miles, 879′ 1h21m
Another grindtastic day. First time in recent memory that I can recall seriously considering walking some road uphills. Suffering from a really general lack of strength, and inability to climb in any way becoming of a runner.

Thurs Nov 13 AM, 10 Miles, 896′ 1h15m
Lunch-time run with Jay. Surprisingly peppy after a few days of grind, especially when I think about how I walked down the stairs in the morning. Sometimes you just need a bit of companionship to get the pop back into your legs.
PM 3.1 Miles, 148′ 27m49s
Shakeout-like modified broken-shin loop with the highlands hashers.

Fri Nov 14, AM 3.5 Miles, 568′ 32m17s
Figured I’d hit up the power-lines with the fresh inch or so of powder on the ground. Awful time gaining purchase on the inclines combined with the shitty legs I’ve had all week made for a much slower than anticipated outing.
PM Climbing 1 Hour

Saturday Nov 15, 13.5 Miles, 3120′ 2h33m
DunCreek TH>Tammany Via Red dot>Sunfish>DunCreek>Tammany>TH. Very mercurial outing at the Water Gap. Legs were a lot less peppy than I would have liked, and the fresh coating of snow made for a lot of questionable footing.

Sunday Nov 16, 3 Miles, 161′ 21m42s
Another shake-out run… I felt really good out the door, but I was reminded of the latent fatigue in my legs within a mile or so… Ugh, failing to recover any sort of leg peppiness is getting tiresome.
PM Climbing 1 Hour

Totals 53 Miles, 6585′ 7h50m

Overall not a bad week. It’s remarkably comforting to be back in the “regular” grind of things, and while there’s still a lot of miles ahead of me, it’s nice to feel like I’m finally able to put some behind as well. I may have been a little over-exuberant in last weekends efforts, at least relative to my body’s ability to recover, an ability whose diminution I’m acutely aware of….



Rising from the ashes

For the first time since May, I’m finally feeling like myself in my running shoes. This is perhaps a slight exaggeration; I’m still substantially over race weight, don’t really have any long legs yet, and seem to have forgotten how to pace myself for anything lasting more than 2 hours.Considering the past several months however, I’ll take what I can get. Injuries are… a bitch. Not only do you suffer the inevitable insult of not being able to run for whatever length of time it takes to resolve the affliction, each progressive day without training leads to atrophy and apathy, making getting things going again only that much harder. In my head, the whole getting back “into shape” bit turns into a downward spiral of not wanting to train because you’re “out of shape” (this is a relative term) which only results in being more “out of shape” causing me to want to train less, which inevitably ends up with me sitting on my couch, fueled by Dominoes and Bulleit while trying to convince my friends that at one point I was a competitive runner.

My most recent bout of injury-induced sloth, was, according to my Physio, a result of high-mileage and an atrophied VMO which manifested itself as IT Band pain on my left leg. So, after about 5 weeks of doing exceptionally un-sexy exercises the pain went away, but the damage was done… almost 2 months lost (after you consider how long it took me to go see a physio) plus an underlying fear of pushing things too soon, and ending up doing even more lunges/small squats instead of running.

Obviously, any sort of injury-setback is less than ideal, it disrupts your life, training, racing, and in my case, usually my general happiness as well. But there is usually a silver lining as well. Injuries present an opportunity to learn. Learn about your body, your musculature, your gait, and why things have gone wrong. Armed with this information, we can prevent, or at the very least intervene earlier, to stay healthier longer.

As for the present, I’m rather bullish about 2015. I’ve finally got some legs under me, and plans laid out to keep them there. I’m also proud to announce that I’ve recently become an ambassador for BioSkin and have been using their calf sleeves for recovery the past few weeks with incredible results. While I’m still figuring out my 2015 schedule, I’m sure that it will at the very least include The North Face ECSNY (Jordan I think it’s your turn to bring a headlamp?) and most likely the Whiteface Sky Marathon. Also on my short list are the Tammany 10, UTHC, TNF Ontario, and maybe a 100 stuck in there somewhere.

Also, notice the new blog layout, you can follow me on Strava as Andrew Siegmund,  on Twitter @SiegmundRuns and on Instagram @Siegmundruns.

Allamuchy, One day I’ll start actually tallying these…

Obligatory ‘Muchy Shot

Looking West

Never Gets Old

Bear Mountain 50 Mile Race Report 2014

2:45AM and my alarm is screaming it’s far-too-familiar xylophone ring-tone that I’ve specifically reserved for wake up calls. It’s time to roll out of bed, and start getting ready for a 50 mile run through the inevitably soaking wet trails in Bear Mountain State Park. Dave, Sean and I had booked the “official” race hotel this year, which besides just being plain nicer than the fleabags we’d stayed in previously, was exceptionally well equipped at 3AM with hot coffee, granola bars, and myriad treats to chow down on before leaving for the race. So, I had my typical cup of coffee, a small bowl of oatmeal with some Udo’s Oil, and double-checked my kit, which consisted of 4 gels, one handheld filled with plain water, about 15 S! Caps, a few Tums, a Singlet, Split Shorts, MT110’s, a Buff, and my Sunglasses.

After sitting around at the start line for a little less than an hour, 5AM finally struck, and the race was underway. I immediately settled in with the lead pack from the beginning, taking advantage of Jeff’s super-bright headlamp since mine had effectively died immediately at the starting line(and Jordan was pretty confident that the lamp would be superfluous anyway). The lead group of roughly 10 men ran surprisingly comfortable through the first aid station, and didn’t actually seem to start pushing the pace until the first road section, wherein things got decidedly quick in a hurry. I managed to stay with the leading men through the second aid station, and perhaps a bit afterwards before I decided that it would be best to stay within myself for the majority of the day, and at this point, continuing to run with the leaders would surely result in a pretty hard blowup.

Jordan McDougal, Jeff Gosselin and Myself in the early morning

After watching the lead pack slowly gain some distance on me, I began to really find my stride, and much more fully-embrace my tendency to power-hike steep inclines, and make up the difference on the downhill. The course had deviated some from the previous years, trading some technical single track and steep inclines for rocky double track, but the primary difference was the water. Having gotten ~1.5 inches of rain in the days prior to the race, there was practically no section of trail on the course where you could expect even a modicum of dryness.  For the next 10 or so miles, I found myself completely contained within my own head, never really running with anyone, and working my hardest to maintain a consistent effort, never letting myself get too excited, or too low. Most frustratingly however, coming into aid station 6 I was expecting to see my drop bag, which contained little more than a stick of body-glide, which I felt desperately in need of, but it wasn’t there yet, forcing me to ditch my singlet and grind on for another 7 miles hoping it would be there for my second pass. During those miles a never-ending side stitch began to develop, which I initially thought was salt-related, but upon further thought I’ve realized is a result of fatigue related to cross-training oversights (note: do more core work), but things rarely got bad enough to create the true sort of desperation I usually experience in the middle miles of a long race.

.25 Miles into the course…

The second pass through the aid station provided my much needed opportunity to re-lube my thighs, fill up my bottle, grab a couple of  gels and head back into the woods, wherein a decidedly bad report by one of the volunteers informed me that I was the “30something runner” through this point (I think he had been counting people starting the loop, not finishing the loop).

For the next several miles of meandering single and double track, I found my energies waning, and my side-stitch only seeming to get worse, taking a lot of pop out of my stride, especially since excluding last years TNFEC race I’ve not experienced this sort of discomfort.

Around Mile 34 things took a turn decidedly for the better when I was caught up to by the women’s leader Rory Bosio. After rather creepily announcing “I know you!” followed by an apology for being creepy, which included several backpedaling sentences about how I’m not actually that creepy, but you know, she’s kind of well known in circles of people who follow ultrarunning etc etc etc, we latched into the same pace, and began grinding our way back to Anthony Wayne. Rory’s presence was truly a game-changer, especially after having spent the majority of the day alone, and knowing that there was at least another 10K until I could pick up Jayson, having her as an indefatigable chatterbox was a breath of fresh air, as well as a brilliant opportunity to learn from one of the great ultrarunners.

Running into Anthony Wayne, and seeing both Jayson and Alli waiting for me was and incredible pick-me-up, especially since Jayson arriving as a pacer was a very much last minute addition to my race plans. What I didn’t anticipate at all was the intimacy with which Jayson knows the last 10 miles of the course, seemingly every 100 feet he had an observation, and directions as to what would be coming up next, as well as our best plan of action for attacking different sections of trail, and especially how to attack the intimidating Timp Pass. From the moment I picked up Jayson I was relieved of all decision making processes, directed when to drink, eat, run, hike, breathe, and heckle Rory as we continued to yo-yo eachother for the last ten miles of the course. When we finally came upon Timp Pass, Jayson’s planning started to become obvious, we had closed the gap on a few more runners, and found ourselves grinding up the hill, only to barrel down the super-steep technical backside, effectively putting the screws to the couple of runners we had passed on the ascent. We then blew right through the final aid station, knowing it was less than 5K to the finish, and that things had been going well enough that I could relatively comfortably run those last few miles without any additional fluid or calories. 8h20m from the start of the race I crossed the finish line with Jayson, and Rory a mere 16 seconds behind, landing me in 14th place overall, with a 43m35s PR on course.

Jayson, Rory and Myself at the finish

Summary March 31 – April 6

Mon March 31, 7 Miles, 459′ 51m9s
First “real” run since coming down with an unusually aggressive stomach-virus the previous Thursday. Still feeling marginally weak, with the sensation that my stomach could only hold a few ounces of food/liquid combined without being knotted up.
PM 1 Mile, 7m30s Treadmill session after work, stomach faring substantially worse.

Tues April 1, 9.4 Miles, 3547′ 1h55m
Three anti-clockwise trips up and down Mt. Tammany. Overall a relatively consistent/substantial effort on the mountain, especially considering the havoc that the winter had wreaked on both my access to technical ascents/descents and my overall vertical gain. My stomach was still showing signs of the weekends distress, evidenced by its reluctance to take in food/water, but even with some mild bonking I’m really happy with the performance of my legs.

Wed April 2, 10.3 Miles, 1217′ 1h24m
Power-line trails in the late AM. I was wholeheartedly expecting my legs to be completely shot after Tuesday’s vertical fiasco, but other than some very generalized soreness, the whole kinetic chain was functioning properly and without complaint. I probably should have pushed a lot harder, but just wasn’t seeing the point  of it… some general mental fatigue combined with a little prudence yielded a much more compassionate pace.
PM 2.5 Miles, H20 Treadmill, 20m
Unusually grinding effort, typically I feel rather free taking advantage of the underwater treadmills at work, but today everything just felt kind of sloppy/difficult.

Thurs April 3, 14 Miles, 988′ 1h45m
Kind of a modified Broken-Shin-esque outing from Morris Ave. Ran into Dave a few miles in, and talked him into joining me for the remainder of my primary loop before meeting up with the rest of the guys for the usual 7pm jaunt. I decided to pick things up in the middle of the typical 5 miler, rounding down into the low 6:00 range for a couple of miles to generally see how my legs would respond to some up-tempo running with some substantial residual fatigue and found that in actuality, it was pretty effortless.

Fri April 4, 11 Miles, 314′ 1h26m
Generally a desultory outing, mist/rain combined with a complete lack of pop in my legs pretty much guaranteed a pretty miserable experience. I could probably justifiably blame some of the shittiness on the knowledge that Saturday was going to provide great weather, and my longest outing of the year (providing some incentive to take things lighter) but really it was just a crappy day to be outside, and a crappy day to be using my body for running.

Sat April 5, 25 Miles, 5279′ 4h33m
Dunnfield Creek>Tammany>Sunfish Pond>Dunnfield Creek>Minsi>Tammany>Dunnfield Creek>Tammany>Dunnfield Creek. Probably the most technically demanding and vertical intensive course I could imagine without putting some serious mileage on my car as well. The initial ascent, was only 28 seconds slower than my PR(18:18 as opposed to 17:50), but felt pretty awful, and generally speaking it took a solid hour before I began to really find any sense of rhythm. Once I managed to settle in, things began to flow a lot better, and even exerting maximal effort seemed not just right, but compulsory.
Sun April 6, 6 Miles, 420′ 46m35s
Shakeout, not overly sore, but generally a perfunctory effort. Suffering from some indigestion (Falafel was a bad idea) and generally feeling fatigued.

Totals: 86.2 Miles, 12,254′ 13h10m

An exceptionally productive week. Running in the mountains again I’m constantly reminded of the flow that we seek in every single outing, that perfect synergy of mind and body wherein comfort transcends the physical, and becomes a sensation of rightness, of total immersion in the activity at hand, a place where the tedious and the sublime hold equal levels of importance. Long days in the mountains are nothing if not an intense self-examination of experiencing a moment with full attention.