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 mucheasier 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.
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.
The Shawangunk ridge, known as Kittatinny Mountain (or Kittatinny Ridge) in New Jersey, and Blue Mountain in Pennsylvania is the continuation of the long easternmost ridge of the Appalachian Mountains. The Gunks as they are locally known extend from the NY/NJ border to the Catskill mountains, and are arguably best known as a climbing destination.
While arguably find-able on the internet there is a fast-growing fat-ass running community led by Mike Cat Skill* (This is not Mike’s actual surname).Those of us lucky enough to know Mike are aware that he spends countless hours doing trail work, runs and scrambles like a certified boss, and then in his spare time comes up with courses in his backyard to satisfy whatever distance he’s currently dreaming of, then posts them online and persuades people to run them on the same day.
On Nov 19, Mike laid the groundwork for the Fallback 50K, a nearly perfect (distance-wise) point to point run through the Gunks that hit all of the iconic landmarks, several scrambles, and a fair mix of single track and carriage road. Our group of 9 managed to stay together for the entire day, hitting 31 miles with 4488′ of gain several scrambling routes, one minor medical emergency (that we came upon, not within our group) in a casual 6h41m. Here are the photos
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!
I hadn’t run a pain-free step between March 15 and May 30th, and according to my journal, began running again on May 31. Knowing that it would be several months before I could be in form again, I quickly pegged Mountain Madness as a goal race. Historically it’s an aggressive showdown for local trail runners at the end of September, and just getting myself to the starting line would be an accomplishment, but it f I could show up actually in shape, I might even have a chance to try for the podium. Still under-confident, I waited until the week of the race to sign up, hoping that my mind and body would get out unscathed.
5:45AM, and I’ve beaten my alarm clock by 30 minutes in waking up for MoMa, maybe I’m a little more torqued up than I originally anticipated.. I’ve prepared well the night before, laying out my race kit, arranging my gels, writing out instructions for my crew, and making sure that once I wake up, there is little to do other than eat, drink some coffee, down some water, and hit the road, but judging by how fitful my sleep was, all of this preparation was seemingly for naught.
Prior to the 9:00AM start, Eric gave me some last advice, reminding me that there is always someone who’s going to sprint from the starting line, not to be that guy, not to follow that guy, and to trust that I’ve got the right game-plan to execute today. Soon it would turn out that I am that guy.
As the runners lined up, Rick McNulty gave his pre-race briefing and in his typical, low-key, old-school form counted down the last five seconds before the race began. Immediately I jumped out in front, knowing that there was less than a half a mile to jockey for position before the single-track began, inevitably forcing the runners to adhere to the pace of the man in front of you. Not wanting to compromise to someone else’s gait, I made it a point to hit the off-road stretch first, and be the pacemaker.
I quickly fell into what seemed like a reasonable, yet slightly aggressive clip. Ryan Jones settled in on my heels, and it was beginning to look like the race was on. We found an early rhythm with Ryan about 50 feet behind me when a spill on an early descent destroyed my Ultimate Direction bottle, spilling almost all of my water a mere two miles into the race.. I quickly downed the rest, took an S! Cap and hoped that the inevitable lack of hydration through AS2 wouldn’t come back to bite me in the ass later.
Ryan and I continued to Jockey for position through AS1, where I took a couple of gulps of water, made sure I was headed out the right way, and quickly sprinted down the Cannonball trail towards AS2. The soft-single-track was delightful, especially in the still cool-morning light, and for the first time in the race, I was genuinely alone.. in front. After running hard out of AS1 for about 10 minutes, confident that I had built a few minute lead I decided to dial things back to a more manageable pace, ate a GU, and continued to grind towards AS2. Foolishly however, I missed a turn adding about a tenth of a mile to my day, and squandering the small lead I had built. After finding the correct trail again, I hastily hunted Ryan down, and gained about 20 seconds on him before AS2. Waiting for me were Eric and Luisina who I quickly told the bad news about my bottle, then I downed a couple of cups of water, and headed back out into the race.
Heading from AS2 to AS3 I found the rhythm I’d been seeking all morning, slipping into a pace that for the first time all day seemed like it was genuinely sustainable for the duration of the race. By the time I reached AS3, I had become comfortable with my lead, so I spoke with the volunteers for a few moments, refilled my bottle, popped a Gel and started the descent into AS4
Strategically I had decided well in advance that I would use the descent into AS4 to my advantage, what I had forgotten is that the descents are spread out, and come across as two steep fire-road descents with a stretch of undulating single-track in-between them. I began to catch up to and eventually pass some 25K runners before some lingering stomach issues forced me to jump off-trail for some shorts-around-the-ankles time. Surprised that no one caught me with my shorts down, I quickly resumed bombing down-trail cruising into AS4 where Lui and Eric hastily refueled my bottle as I checked in with the AS Volunteers, who informed me that I was the first 50K runner inbound. I downed another 2 cups of water, opened up a gel and began my ascent.
The downside of running off the front of the pack like I’d been doing all day, is that you genuinely have no clue where anyone else is in the race, so the out-and-back stretch provided the only opportunity for me to check up on the competition.. and for them to check me out. My stomach had continued to feel funky, and while the few moments spent squatting in the bushes had helped, I wasn’t sure I was finished with GI troubles for the day. I knew however, that this was the only time my competition was going to get a clear sight of me, so I convinced myself to grind as hard as I could into AS5, determined to hide any signs of weakness. It was here that I spotted Ryan Jones, Ryan Kunz, Marcus, and Jay a few minutes behind me, followed by a healthy spotting of Sean on the lower end of the single-track. After running nearly every step of the climb to AS5, I again refilled my bottle, slugged a couple of cups of coke, re-confirmed my directions, and headed back towards Shepherd Lake.
I ran well (and scared) along the fire roads out of AS5 until things quickly turned to the gnarliest single-track of the day, forcing me to concentrate substantially harder, and as if the terrain change was’t challenging enough, this coincided with my lowest point in the race. I recalled my 2013 MoMa, where this same section caused the greatest despair, and was once again finding myself considering dropping at the next aid station. While I knew I had at least a few minutes on my competition, I began to feel like my strength was seriously waning… I was still making good time, but I was convinced of the impending vulnerability of my lead, and sure that should I be spotted, I would be caught. This was exacerbated by an ever growing doubt in my ability to even finish the race, never mind win the damn thing. So in a move of desperation I doubled-down my efforts with the knowledge that I would eventually drop out on a fire-road with a long descent wherein I could relax a bit, and hopefully earn some extra time on the chase-pack.
After some more meandering single-track, I finally dropped out onto the fire-road taking me back to the lake, dumped my bottle for Eric and Lui to refill, checked in with Rick and the timing mat, and left as quickly as possible, hoping to get long-out-of-sight before anyone else came in, knowing that psychologically it would be harder for my competition to catch a ghost than someone they had recently spotted.
I ran the remaining 7 miles in 1:06:38, convinced that someone was hot on my tail, while grinding through the only genuinely tedious part of the course. My feet had begun to succumb to the abuse of the incessantly sharp rocks, making me wish I had worn something a bit bulkier than the racing flats I’d run all day in, and yearn for the moment I could cross the finish line, take off my shoes, and sit down..
I finally crossed the line in 5:12:56, 2m19s faster than my 2013 time, and first man across the tape for the day. Ryan came in second, in 5:28:27, followed by Marcus, and Jay, in 5:35:54 and 5:36:06 respectively. Ryan Jones finished in 6:01:07 (11th) and Sean finished his second of 4 MoMa’s in 6:15:58 (14th).
A special thanks goes out to Luisina and Eric who spent the day blowing up social media, and slinging water bottles. Jay M. gets a special shoutout for the 6AM tempos, and Jeff Boyardee for the confirmation of race strategy. Also, Bioskins for their aid in training and post-race recovery.
“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.
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….
Monday November 3, PM 3 Miles 200′ 21m21s Generally Lethargic post-work outing. Monday’s are trending towards relatively lazy runs as a result of residual running fatigue from the weekend combined with my unreasonably early wake-up call to start the work week.
Tuesday November 4, AM 10 Miles, 863′ 1h15m I was lucky enough to be able to work from home, so I sent a text message to my friend Jay (who also works remotely) to see if he wanted to snag some midday miles. It turns out that Jay’s out-the-front-door 10 miler is a lot hillier than mine. PM Climbing Gym 1 Hour I recently joined the local climbing gym, and have been making an effort to drop in as often as I can. Of course with my current (lack of) climbing fitness, an hour is about as long as I can continue to climb before my arms/hands start failing.
Wed Nov 5, AM 7 Miles, 653′ 54m33s Mid-week grind sesh. Dead legs, and generally pretty tired, It’s obviously been too long since I’ve managed to maintain any sort of day-in day-out consistency, and the 10+7 kind of got to me PM Climbing Gym 1 Hour Didn’t feel sore all day, so I figured back to back climbing days would be fine/fun… turns out that routes I could climb easily yesterday are near impossible today.
Thurs Nov 6, PM 8.1 Miles, 506′ 1h1m Broken-shin and a half with Jason Dave and Jeff. Stopped the watch to collect the guys for the usual 5 miler, which made things look a little goofy on strava. Started out feeling reasonably tired, and heavy-legged, but the final five miler turned into more of a fartlek than a recovery run, or at least the perceived effort seemed like it
Fri Nov 7, 3 Miles, 157′ 21m35s Easy day shakeout before the inevitable Saturday long-run.
Sat Nov 8, 22.7 Miles, 4623′ 4h13m Sometime in the middle of the week I got a text from Eric asking if I’d be interested in a 20-25 mile outing at the Delaware Water Gap. Normally, considering that my longest “run” since May has been in the 15 mile range, I would decline something this foolish, but it turn out that the Auto-Correct on my phone changes “that’s probably not the best idea” into “count me in” someone needs to fix that bug in iOS 8….. We took the longer/less steep blue trail up Tammany, passed a few people running the DWG 50K before taking the fire road out behind Sunfish Pond, and finishing the day with back to back ascents on Minsi and Tammany again via the AT and Red dot trails respectively. Much to my surprise my legs felt reasonably solid all day, and my energy levels were much more consistent than I would have expected considering how long it’s been since I’ve put out any real long efforts on the trails.
Sun Nov 9, 6.2 Miles, 823’1h Oih, tired today. Legs felt surprisingly solid, very little residual soreness, but generally lacking strength, especially on climbs. Otherwise, I just felt well…. tired, and rounding out the 10K was all I could really muster out of myself for the morning….
Totals: 60 Miles, 7825′ 9h7m This is the first week since April that I’ve managed to string together consistent daily mileage without re-aggravating any lingering dings or niggles. While I know that 60 miles over 7 days is still a sub-maximal effort, I’m glad to recognize that I’ve got a reasonable base right now, which will give me something to build on for the 2015 racing season. After close to 5 months of inconsistent mileage, aches, niggles, and fear of re-aggravating old injuries, the familiar indicators of training are a comfort; walking down the stairs sideways in the morning, eating as if one of your legs is hollow, or even the most banal: sleeping through the night uninterrupted. While it’s obvious to me that I have some serious work to do to get back to top shape, having some consistency right now feels like a major victory.
Tammany with Eric Photo courtesy of random Stranger-Girl
Crossing the River
Summit of Minsi. Photo courtesy of Eric Ashley
Looking West off of Tammany
Post-run recovery with some BioSkins. Photo courtesy of Eric Ashley
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…
When I woke up at 4:30 AM sans alarm clock on Saturday morning I finally realized that I was actually pretty anxious/nervous to toe the line at this years Mountain Madness 50K. MoMa has a reputation as being one of the tougher 50k’s in the Northeast, which is definitely represented in it’s 4h39m course record (held by Mike Dixon) which, for a low-altitude race is patently indicative of how tough of a course it is. Race reports, both published in blogs as well as orally dictated to me by myriad runners of varying abilities articulated only one thing for sure: rocks. Surprisingly, peoples impression of the course ranged from calling it near-impossible, to wheelchair accessible, so obviously some of the opinions I found were outliers to say the least.Considering this, it looked to me like I should be expectant of a rocky course with a substantial (6000′) amount of climbing.
Rick McNulty provided the oral countdown leading precisely into 9AM (apparently he’s consistently punctual about start times) and we were soon rounding Shepherd Lake and heading into the woods. Within a mile or so (after hearing some runners in the chase pack yelling “too fast!” at us) the lead pack had reduced to a trio of Myself, Seth (who looks like Tarzan carrying a camelbak) and Bill Cuthbert. We headed up the initial climb at a staggeringly fast pace, and maintained what to me seemed like a relatively reckless clip through the first aid station (5.6 miles) wherein no one took any aid, and continued through several miles of the next leg until Seth and Bill gained ~200′ on me as Mike Dixon caught up, only for Bill and Seth to miss a turn (which Julian, who was taking pictures eventually reeled in and re-directed). Mike and I dialed things back to a more manageable pace heading into AS2 wondering if Bill and Seth would go too far off course, and taking some comfort in the lead that we had developed over the chase pack (at AS1 we were “reportedly” 5 mins ahead of Mike, and the chase-pack proper was supposedly several minutes behind him at this point). I refilled my bottle, downed a cup of Coke, and a couple of cups of water, snatched a few gels, and the two of us were out of AS2 reasonably quickly. I had been expecting to see Mike on the course, and since his reputation preceded him as a dominant runner at pretty much any race up to the 50-Mile distance (as well as a solid sub-24-hour showing at the WS100 in 2012) I was glad to be able to run with him most of the way into AS3 before I started to lose the pace, giving him about a minute lead going into AS3. Seeing Mike leaving as I came in, I tried my best to keep myself together, drink a bit, fill up my bottle, grab a couple of gels and give chase, but admittedly I was already starting to feel some stomach issues rising, primarily what seemed like an insatiable thirst, and a surprising reluctance to continue forcing down gels. The route from AS3-AS4 was an out-and back consisting primarily of fire roads with a stretch of single-track in between. Roughly 1/3 of the way to AS4, Seth caught up to me, and the two of us took full advantage of the downhill, basically running recklessly into AS4, while I was mentally coming to grips with the fact that this 3-ish mile downhill was going to turn into a 3-ish mile uphill before I knew it, and a low point was definitely coming up. Seth came into AS4 and left without taking anything, roughly 30 second ahead of me, not feeling so great, and already noticing some of the early onsets of dehydration (dark urine, constant thirst) I took a few moments to collect myself, grabbed a fresh bottle from Dena (who was slinging bottles for the day) socked back a few cups of water, and started my way back up the hill. The nice side of the Out-and-Back is that you can see any competition/friends, as well as how they’re doing. As I was leaving, Bill was charging into the aid station, followed by Jason, Lindsay, and David Allara, all of whom have had some rather successful races in the recent past, and from what I knew going into the race, Dixon, Hamoudi, and Allara should be the Raritan Valley triumvirate to look out for. I also had the pleasure of running into the Parakeet, as well as Robbie and Adam from the Salt crew on this stretch, and their encouragement was more than welcome to say the very least. In spite of the obvious proximity of formidable competition, my own waxing misery was starting to get the best of me, especially with respect to the seemingly interminable climb (which, for the record was a blast to go down) so as I was getting close to AS5, Bill eeked by me a few hundred yards before the aid station. Coming into AS5, I could see Dixon and Seth heading out, and Bill refueling unbelievably quickly and hustling after them. Feeling dejected and dehydrated, I had my bottle refilled by a kindly volunteer, drank a few cups of water, and rudely informed (upon being asked) another volunteer that you could get a buff with a visor from the internet (the same place you can buy anything) before I headed back out on the trail to try and hunt my way back into podium position. Feeling fundamentally miserable, I recognized that it’s precisely this point in any given race wherein you can really test your gumption, and after mulling over the idea of DNF-ing at the next aid station, I began to slowly, but surely start grinding my way back into the game. Fortunately, this section was (at the start) pretty steep and technical, so power-hiking no longer felt like I was surrendering to fatigue, but rather a smart game plan. I began to regain some strength and energy, finally reeling Bill back in on one of the extended declines. Little to my surprise however, on the next incline Bill quickly went out of sight (and apparently soon after took a wrong turn). Before long, I could see Shepherd Lake again, and started to pick things up headed into the aid station. Upon retrieving my bottle, slugging back a cup or 2 of water, and ditching my singlet, I was informed that I was in 3rd place, with the leaders only 5 mins ahead of me (it turns out that this was a grossly wrong estimate of the amount of a lead that Mike had on me), so elated,I left the aid station at full-steam(and letting out a primal scream). As I was leaving, I saw Lindsay coming in, figuring that I had ~90 seconds on him, and that if I really went hard I just might catch up to the leaders, I was acutely aware that I was both hunting, and being hunted. With every squirrel that moved, or breeze that blew a tree, I was convinced that someone was catching me on the final seven mile loop headed into the finish, running scared is a wonderfully exciting, as well as stressful endeavor. In the final 7 miles there were several sections that utilized switchbacks, with my fear of being caught up to, I found myself incessantly looking back on every turn whilst trying to keep a low profile, foolishly hopeful that this might make me harder to see (it doesn’t). After just over an hour of running like my life depended on it, I came across the finish line to find myself in 2nd place, 5:15:15 elapsed, and laid down next to the finish line to take off my shoes and soak in some sun. Bill came in 2 minutes later (5:17:16) Seth DNF’d, Lindsay came in 4th (5:24:36). Jason finished 9th in 5:45:15, Adam 20th (6:32:49) Robbie 30th (6:45:06) and the Parakeet DNF’d after reportedly taking no water for the first 6 hours. A special thanks goes out to the following: Jeff Perry, for his incredible advice with regards to tapering, and race planning, Dena Orkin, for tossing bottles all day, and Jayson Kolb, for the race description, and the Saturday long run guys for their companionship the past few weekends out.
Taking off the shoes right after finishing (Photo Credit: Dena Orkin)
Sun-soak post-race (Photo credit: Dena Orkin)
Chewing the fat Post-Race with Dixon and company (Photo credit: Dena Orkin)