Thursday, January 31, 2008

The end of a good month

My plans for January, if I recall correctly, were as follows:
  • Run about 40 miles per week
  • Lift twice per week
  • Ski twice per week
  • Lose some weight - hopefully about 1 pound per week.
I will run about 5 miles after work tonight, which will put me just over 190 miles for the month.

I lifted 10 times this month.

I skied 8 days this month.

And, if I use my weight from New Year's Day and my weight from this morning, I lost 3.8 pounds this month, from 197.2 to 193.4.

I'd have to say that January was a successful month. I also managed to stay injury-free and healthy, despite some illnesses in our household.

Tomorrow, I'll talk more about my plans for February.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Local Politics

Monday was the deadline for candidates to file for elections to be held on Vermont's Town Meeting Day, on March 4th. I am running to retain the Select Board seat I currently hold. I have not run before, but was appointed to the seat after a resignation last spring.

I found out last night that I will have an opponent. My initial thought was that I was glad to have an opponent. I think it's good for the voters to have choices and too frequently, we don't have enough candidates for our local elections.

My plan has been that I would not campaign for my seat, but rather try to let my voting record speak for itself. My opponent is a former member of the Vermont State House and the Vermont State Senate. He is a very intelligent man, with degrees from MIT and Boston College Law School. He is also someone I would definitely not support in an election, given how much we disagree on public policy.

It's quite likely that we'll have a radio debate. We'll have a chance to be interviewed for the local paper and that paper will probably endorse one of us.

But, I now have to decide if I want to actively campaign. He probably has more name recognition than I have and I'm sure he has a loyal constituency. I've got the advantage of being the incumbent and I have a recent voting record that I am proud of.

I'm expecting an interesting 40 days between now and the election. The local press talked to me about this already last night. The question I was asked was humorous, to me at least, and I'm curious if my response will be in this week's newspaper. (Yes, as a small town, we have a weekly paper that comes out on Thursdays.)

Oh yeah, I ran 7.5 this morning. I was planning 10, but the roads were dangerously icy and it took me about 25 minutes to go less than 4 miles to the gym. I'll run for another hour-plus tonight and then lift tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Increasing the miles

My basic plan for February is 50 mile weeks with a pair of 25 mile days. The past few weeks, I've been at 40 miles, so this week, I'm shooting for 45. Sooner or later, I'll find myself tired and I'll need a cutback week, but I don't think I'm there yet.

My run last night felt great, especially given that I lifted in the morning. This morning's run went well also. I may get to run outside for an hour this afternoon before I have two town meetings.

My weight dropped a bit again - not much really, but the lowest I've seen it recently, in a fully hydrated state. Weighing yourself right at the end of a long run can provide useful information about hydration, but it's not a real weight.

It looks like we're going to get hit by two ugly storms this week, with mixed precip tomorrow and Friday. If the ski area gets hit hard with ice or rain, crowds could be low this weekend. With most of New England consisting of Giants' fans and Patriots' fans, a lot of people might stay home to watch the game. But, I'll be skiing as long as the lifts are turning.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Body Fat Percentage - Not as Bad as I Thought

I'm such an idiot.

Last spring, I got a cheap set of body fat calipers and the information to calculate lean body mass and body fat percentage by taking 7 different measures on my body. I was surprised when the calipers told me that my BF% was about 25%, with 50 pounds of body fat on my frame.

The main reason I was surprised was because my lean body mass was in the 143 pound range according to the calipers. A few years ago, when I was not in great shape, I'd had my BF% tested by hydrostatic weighing. My LBM at the time was in the 153 range. So, how had I lost 10 pounds of LBM in a few years of consistently training hard and racing reasonably well?

Since I got the calipers, I have made progress with them. My weight is close to where it was when I started, but the calipers said I'd added a bit over 10 pounds of lean body mass. Thanks to NROL for the workouts that gave me that extra muscle.

But, according to everything I was measuring, I had barely dipped below 20% body fat, and I was still carrying almost 40 pounds of fat on my body. I look a lot leaner than a year ago, but there's still a lot of fat to lose, and the calipers said I was carrying 40 pounds of unneeded blubber.

Friday night, I got out the calipers again. My wife wanted me to measure her BF and I wanted to check mine again. As I was using the calipers, for the first time ever, I noticed a little sliding piece of plastic on the calipers that can be re-set and then moves for each measurement. It suddenly hit me that I've been using the calipers wrong the entire time, reading an inflated value at the wrong place on the device. I re-measured every site and found that my 7-site sum was way lower than than I'd thought it was.

I plugged everything into the calculations, and came up with 15.4% body fat with 29.9 pounds of body fat. My lean body mass was was 164 pounds. This all makes perfect sense and is consistent with old LBM numbers and my workouts for the past year. I'm still far away from being lean, but I'm not as fat as I thought I was.

This does mean that I need to re-think my weight loss goals for my Western States in June. I had set a goal of 175 pounds, thinking that my LBM was in the 154 range. Now, I think that getting to the 180-182 pound range would be a great accomplishment, and suddenly, the amount of weight I need to lose is much smaller.

The calipers I have are not fancy state-of-the-art calipers, which can cost hundreds of dollars. I'm also not an expert in their use, but I get fairly consistent readings. So, while I may be off a few pounds of fat or LBM, I think I'm pretty close, and it was good news. So, I guess I need to adjust my weight loss ticker at the bottom of the page.

My wife was quite happy as well. Within the past 8 months or so, she's gone from 128 pounds to 111 pounds. She's not quite 5 feet tall. She's been lifting some and running some and she's made great progress. Her BF% came in at just under 16%, with about 18 pounds of body fat. This has helped her to decide on a goal weight, which had eluded her before. She's decided that losing 6 more pounds of fat is all she wants or needs to do. So, she'd like to get her fat down to 12 pounds or so, and her weight to 105 plus any new muscle gains that she makes in the gym. She's going to start using workouts from NROL for Women tonight at the gym.

Friday, January 25, 2008

When I have nothing to say...

"When I have nothing to say, my lips are sealed. Say something once, why say it again?"

Talking Heads - Psycho Killer

Of all the phases of training for a race, base training is probably the least interesting. I do lots of slow miles, many days just like the one before. Today, 2 hours of easy running. Ski this weekend. Same old stuff. Nothing to say.

In the past 24 hours, I have solidified plans to pace Tom Watson at Massanutten this spring. I also printed the application for the Pineland Farms races in May, the weekend after Massanutten. I think I'll enter the 50 miler there for now, just so I have that option on race weekend, but I might drop down to the 50K if I'm tired from the previous weekend. I think my spring racing and long run schedule is now complete. All that's left is execution.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Western States Reservations

Things are starting to come together for our family trip for the race. We have plane tickets and a car reservation. We have hotel rooms in Auburn for Saturday and Sunday night of race weekend. We have a 3-night reservation in Yosemite the week before the race. Dinner at Eclipse Pizza is planned for the Thursday before the race. My scheduled pacer seems to be getting past some injury problems.

I still need to reserve a place for Thursday and Friday night in the Squaw Valley area. And, we will need a place to stay when we head back to the Bay Area for a few days after the race.

I'm starting to wonder what the snow conditions will be like on race day, given the recent storms that have hit the Sierra. In 2005, I ran through a lot of miles of snow on the course. We were lucky that it never got really hot that day. However, I think it was 1995 that was known as the Fire and Ice year at WS. They had a lot of snow in the high country and extreme heat in the canyons that day. There's no sense worrying about something I can't control though.

Most importantly, I have to continue to get ready for the race. I had a great weight workout this morning - 3x12s of the following lifts:
  • Deadlifts (185#)
  • Incline Dumbbell Presses (2x40#)
  • Bulgarian Split Squats (2x20#)
  • Mixed Grip Lat Pulldowns (90#, 90#, 100#)
  • Romanian Deadlifts (135#)
  • Cable Woodchops using the Rope hold (80#)

I did the first two lifts as a superset, and then the same with the next two and the next two, with 60 seconds rest between sets. A number of those weights were new highs for sets of 12.

Then, 15 minutes of stair climber intervals.

Tomorrow, I'll probably be a bit sore, and I'll run easily for 2 hours to wrap up the hard part of my workout week.

Monday morning, I'll step on a scale again to see how I'm doing there.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Snowshoe Run

I got new Dion snowshoes for Christmas. They've been sitting inside, unused, for weeks. I always seem to have an excuse: too cold, too icy, too dark, etc. On top of that, I plan my running weeks by anticipated mileage rather than time. Because snowshoe running is slower (for me) than treadmill running or road running, it's easy to rationalize that I won't get as many miles done in however much time I have available to train.

On Monday, I read Julie Berg's snowshoe marathon race report from this past weekend. I felt like a real loser after reading what she did over the weekend in weather way worse than what we normally see in Vermont. So, this morning, I decided I was going to do a snowshoe run - no excuses. I got up a bit earlier than normal. Last night, I got out some of my ultra gear - headlamps and gaiters. I found all of my coldest-weather running gear.

I left the house at 6:00 a.m. this morning. It was dark, but the snow was illuminated by the setting moon. We'd gotten a dusting of snow overnight, so the trails were a bit softer than they have been. It was 18F and calm. Perfect. I had an amazing run. About 40 minutes into the run, I was able to turn off my lights and I finished in the dawn light. I covered 4.25 miles in just over an hour.

In reality, I probably got way more benefit out of this hilly run than I would have gotten from an hour on the treadmill. I have to stop worrying about the number of miles in my training log and really think about the value of the run itself.

I felt good this morning after doing 14 yesterday. I'll run easily for another hour tonight.

And, my weight has finally dropped a bit. Not much, but it's a start.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Annual Physical and Weight Loss Thoughts

One of the nicer benefits of working at a small hospital is our free annual physical - not even a co-pay. The offer is only good in the month of your birthday, and I had my physical yesterday.

For the most part, everything was great. The doctor read back the note from a year ago, when I was complaining of fatigue and poor workouts. That trend followed me through early August of last year, when I decided to take an extended low-level rest period. I told him that I feel way better this January than I did a year ago. My weight was almost identical to last year, but I know my body fat percentage is lower.

My one complaint to him was about my weight and how difficult I find it to lose weight these days. His first response was "I can't very well ask you to exercise more, can I?", followed by some laughter. I asked if he had any other patients similar to me - lots of exercise but they really struggle to control their weight. I got a "not really" sort of answer, and he acknowledged that he has no patients who exercise as much as I do.

He then reverted to the standard "calories in, calories out" position. He did acknowledge that one medication I take could have an impact on my weight, but my dosage is so small that he doesn't think it's a likely issue.

So, that's it. Eat less. I really wonder these days about the huge disconnects between the USDA-sanctioned position vs. the millions of other theories out there. I know that the world is full of people trying to make a fast buck any way they can from people who want to lose weight. I know the drug companies are working on a magic bullet solution as well. The USDA sticks to its food pyramid, which I believe is absurd, but money talks and the dairy and grain lobbies don't want to see their products de-emphasized in the pyramid.

I guess I've become a convert to the thoughts of a number of fitness trainers and some of the basic tenets of the Paleo Diet. There are a number of trainers whose blogs I read, such as John Berardi of Precision Nutrition, Craig Ballantyne of Turbulence Training, Alwyn Cosgrove, Naked Nutrition, Avidity Fitness, and some others. They all seem to agree that weight loss is best achieved by high levels of intense exercise, diets that emphasize frequent small meals, and food choices that limit the quantity and timing of carbohydrates.

I try to avoid foods that have no nutritional value. That is, I try to avoid foods like white flour, sugar, white rice, etc. My overall grain intake is fairly low. A typical day for me includes a number of smaller meals, each meal containing some protein and some veggies. I've cut way back on alcohol consumption - none for 10 days right now - a significant streak for me.

But, there are certainly times when I could eat better. It seems that I'm most likely to eat some food I'd be better avoiding when I go too long with no food. A good example might be lunch on a Saturday or Sunday, when I'm teaching skiing. If I don't eat breakfast, I'm starving at lunchtime, and a cheeseburger will look a lot more tempting than a salad. Or, right after skiing, if I don't eat something right away, I'm more likely to go home and eat anything I can find in the kitchen while I'm cooking dinner. So, I know where I am likely to overeat or to eat the wrong things.

Precision Nutrition advocates that you can't really know how well something works unless you are at least 90% compliant on a long-term basis. I know that I don't hit 90% over the long term, although I have short bursts of high compliance compliance.

So, I'm not really losing weight. What's going on? Perhaps I'm losing fat but adding muscle. The way my clothing fits says this might be true, but I need to check with my body fat calipers. I might be semi-following a good program, but not following it well enough. I might be following the wrong program completely. Perhaps I've fallen for something that doesn't make nutritional sense at all.

Of course, I tend to believe that my body doesn't follow the laws of thermodynamics. It can't be my fault, right?

Yes, I think I know where the answer lies. It's in the choices I make every day. They just aren't good enough right now.

And, until I get my weight moving in the right direction, and under a particular goal, I won't drink any alcohol at all. That gives me some pretty good motivation at least.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Great Weekend!

Friday evening, I did my last run for the week. I was planning on an easy hour on the treadmill. After lifting in the morning, I was surprised at how strong I felt. In the last 20 minutes of my run, I did 6 quarters at 8:00 mpm pace. That's not fast by any means, but it's faster than most of my mid-winter base training. I simply felt good and wanted to crank up the speed for a little bit.

On Saturday, while skiing, I felt great again - really strong. I noticed that just walking up the stairs in the lodge, while wearing ski boots, I had a spring in my step. I felt the same way yesterday as well, and skied more vertical feet than most days with the kids that I teach . We skied a lot despite temps near 0F all day long.

My weight workout went great this morning as well. Right now, I'm very excited about how I'm feeling, after complaining less than two weeks ago that I was feeling pretty tired for some workouts. Typically, the months of January, February, and March are very draining for me because I'm trying to build my mileage base and ski as much as possible. If I can get through the next 10 weeks feeling strong rather than exhausted, I'd be very optimistic heading into my post-ski-season training.

I'm signed up for my first ultra of the season the last Saturday in March, which is earlier than I hit the trails most years.

On the down side, despite the fact that I've only touched alcohol once in the past 14 days and I feel like I've been eating well, and my weight isn't budging. I have my annual physical today and I'm probably going to whine to my doctor about this issue.

It's nice to feel strong and fit at this point in time, but strong and fit and lighter would be even better.

On a completely unrelated note, I'll find out this week if I have any opponents in our town elections in early March. I'm currently a member of our Select Board, the Vermont equivalent of a City Council. I was appointed to the seat by the rest of the board after a member of the board resigned last spring. I'm running to retain my seat and my candidate's petition was completed weeks ago. I've heard rumors about two other people running, but two seats are open and I don't know if they'll oppose me or oppose the announced candidate for a seat that's being vacated. I think it would be best for the people in the town if both seats had two or more candidates, so people have a choice. My feelings wouldn't be hurt if someone opposed me and I lost the election, although I do enjoy contributing my time to our little town here in the center of Vermont.

Friday, January 18, 2008


Today was my every-4-weeks visit to the chiropractor. I'd had a couple hot spots while running in the last week - my left hip and some general tightness in my left Achilles tendon. No pain, but things were definitely not quite right. When he put me on the table, he noticed that my normal leg length discrepancy was reversed. Normally, my left leg is functionally shorter than the right, but today it was the other way around.

He was curious about the difference, and we talked about my recent workouts while the e-stim and moist heat did their work. At the end of 15 minutes of e-stim, the discrepancy had resolved, so he chalked it up to a tight muscle that may have been overworked while lifting or running.

He then did the usual adjustment that he does, and I walked out feeling great. I'll run later tonight to see how things feel.

This morning, I had a really good weight workout. I'm at a point in a sequence of workouts where I drop the number of reps in each set and I shorten the rest interval. I'm supposed to increase the weight for every one of the six lifts in the workout, and I did that this morning.

I'm guessing that my hamstrings will be a bit sore tomorrow after I changed my form a bit on Romanian Deadlifts. This is a tough lift to perform correctly, and I ran across an article on recently that went into some details about the purpose of the lift and how it should feel. In skiing, we often tell students how a movement should feel, but it's rare to get that kinesthetic information about how a lift should feel, at least from the sources that I typically use. The article focused on engaging the hamstrings at the bottom of the lift and I was able to make that change. Tomorrow morning, I'm sure I'll feel it while skiing.

Speaking of skiing, we've had some new snow this week and some more is on the way, so the skiing is looking better. On the downside, Sunday will be brutally cold and windy, making it tough to keep the students warm and happy.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Second part of my 20 miler

Things continued to be crazy last night - for a while. I had to stop at a computer store downtown, return a movie, stop to talk to a business owner about some town business, and then stop at another store. Finally, after all of that, I got to the gym. The gym is my refuge from the craziness of the rest of my day.

I turned on the TV and started the treadmill and just cruise-controlled my way to the rest of the day's 20 miles. Partway through my workout, my wife showed up to do her workout, so we got to talk for a while. After my run, I was happy and relaxed and headed home for dinner. Because I wasn't working out this morning, I spent a little time on my consulting work and then a little time just reading. It was nice to just read for a while. It was even better to sleep in until 6:30 this morning.

Tonight, I'll do an easy 1-hour run on the treadmill. Tomorrow will be weights in the morning and then an easy hour on the treadmill at night.

The 20 mile day went surprisingly well - not nearly as tough as last time. But, the last time, I did the miles in a straight shot, rather than splitting them up.

It looks like the skiing will be much better this weekend than last weekend, but Sunday will be a tough day from a temperature perspective. When teaching kids, or anyone really, rule number one is always safety. So, I'm guessing we'll take lots of breaks this Sunday to protect cold toes and feet.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Not enough time in the day

I had a Select Board meeting last night that went until about 9:30. By the time I drove home and had some dinner, it was well after 10:00. My plan was to set the alarm for 3:00 a.m. and run 20 before work. Based on the time, I set the alarm for 4:00 instead. I got up at 4:30. I ended up getting in just over 10 miles this morning. So, I'll do 10 more tonight.

Tomorrow night, I have another meeting after work.

I'm still trying to wrap up some work on the consulting job I've been doing.

I'm doing my best to get enough sleep.

It's obvious that the days simply aren't long enough. Perhaps we could switch to a 28-hour day; that might be enough time in each day.

I think I have 8 unread books sitting beside my nightstand right now. I need to watch some Netflix discs to send them back. Either somebody has to add some time to the day, or I might have to quit my day job.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Delusional about my diet?

I feel like I've been eating pretty well. I've been following the guidelines of Precision Nutrition pretty well. I'm eating 5 small meals a day, with an emphasis on lean proteins and veggies, with some carbs allowed right after workouts. My evening meal always starts with a salad and veggie, so I make sure not to fill myself up on too much meat or other foods.

I'm working out very regularly and I've dropped my weight training from 3x per week to 2x per week, so I doubt that I'm building more muscle mass. Yet, my weight isn't dropping.

Last week, I drank alcohol one day, after skiing on Saturday. Yes, the weekend before, I had alcohol on three consecutive days, so that wasn't good. But, since that weekend, I've eaten very well and worked out hard with no change in weight.

I feel like I'm getting leaner and my clothes seem to be getting looser. But, the scale doesn't want to budge. According to my plan, today's weight was supposed to be 194.6, but I'm still sitting at 196.0, just like last month and just like 2 weeks ago. That puts me in the category of "no drinking allowed" until I catch up. Perhaps that's what's best for me anyway.

If I weighed in today for WS, I'd be at least 198-199. My official weight when I DNF'd in 2005 was 187, and that was still too high. I was at 194 when I ran my PR at Vermont last summer.

I have a physical on the 21st of this month and I'll complain to my doctor about it. He'll probably laugh at me and tell me to eat less. A couple years ago, he started running casually, usually running about 5 miles per day a few days per week. The weight just fell off of him and he's very thin now. So, he thinks it's easy to lose weight.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Week in review

My goals for January were pretty simple:

Run about 40 miles per week
Lift twice per week
Ski twice per week
Lose some weight

Friday evening, I felt strong on the treadmill and did some 60 second intervals near the end of my run. That hour of running brought me to just over 40 miles for the week. I did the lifting and skiing as scheduled last week. The skiing wasn't great - classic New England icy conditions, but I was getting paid to ski, so how bad could it be?

I forgot to step on the scale this morning, but I feel like my weight is dropping some. I'll try to weigh myself tomorrow morning.

My schedule for this week is to run 5-5-20-5-5 during the work week. I lifted this morning and I'll lift again on Friday. Then, I'll ski on the weekend.

Base training isn't an exciting part of a build-up to a race, but slowly and steadily building my mileage base now will pay off later.

February and March will be more difficult, as my mileage increases and ski season continues. My long runs this month will be 20, I'll do a couple 25s next month, and then a pair of 30s in March.

Getting up at 2:30 in the morning to run 30 miles on a treadmill before work is a true test of how committed I am to my training. It will only be 7 or 8 weeks until it's time for that workout.

I'm starting to plan some spring trail races for my long runs after ski season ends. There is an ultra the last weekend of March that has options for 28 and 38 miles, I believe. Then, I will do the Trail Animals Don't Run Boston 50K the day before the Boston Marathon. Then, I think I'm going to do the Wapack Trail 50 miler in May. After that, I'll need something good to do on Memorial Day weekend and the weekend after that, before I start tapering for Western States.

I'm also thinking about a road marathon in late February, if I can sneak a day off work at the ski mountain.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Up and Down Workouts

Wednesday evening, my workout was tough. Thursday morning was even tougher. Skipping dinner the night before during a power outage probably wasn't a good idea. Then, last night, I went to the gym for my second run of the day. I felt great and turned up the speed on the treadmill a little bit. After feeling so tired early in the day, I was shocked (and happy) to feel so good that evening.

Last night, I went home and ate a healthy dinner and then got enough sleep. I was looking forward to weights this morning. And then, at the gym, I felt beat again. I did increase the amount of weight I lifted for inclined DB presses, deadlifts and Romanian deadlifts, but each was a struggle. I don't like the workouts where I do 3 sets of 15 reps. I'd rather do 5-10 reps with more sets and higher weights, but I have a schedule/progression that I'm following.

For today, I was happy to go to 165 on the deadlifts. I did a 1-rep max of 255 a few weeks ago, but I failed a few days later at 275. Soon, I'll try that weight again. I did the incline DB presses with 2x40# DBs today, vs. 35s last time. Next week, I cut down to 3x12s, but increase weights on all of my lifts.

But, the whole workout today was a struggle. Tonight, I'll run easily for an hour or so, which will put me just over 40 miles since Monday. The next two days, I'll be teaching skiing, but with the conditions being poor, I doubt that we'll ski hard. I'll probably use it more as a teaching weekend on groomed terrain, probably with a racing focus.

If I end up skiing hard, I'll take Monday as a rest day. If the skiing is easy, I'll get back to running or lifting or both on Monday.

On Monday, I am doing a push-up test and a pull-up test. I've been doing a challenge with some people from Precision Nutrition, where we focus on push-ups and pull-ups for a month or two at a time. In the first challenge, I went from a max of 15 push-ups to 27. I took my pull-ups from 2 to 3. I'm hoping to get close to 40 push-ups on Monday and 5 pull-ups would be nice, but I may only be able to do 4.

I heard from my former running club teammate Cecil today. He is running Western States and Vermont this year. He asked me to pace him at Vermont, which I agreed to do. But, I remember the last time I paced at VT only 3 weeks after Western States. It was painful. I don't know how the slammers do it.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Blogging Toys

The web is full of so many cool little "widgets" for blogs. I've added a countdown timer to Western States, a weight loss tracker, and a site meter. I will probably add a list of the fitness and ultra-related sites that I like to visit as well.

Yesterday was a wild day here in VT. It was warm and then it got crazy windy. At the gym last night, lights were flickering off and on, but the power to the treadmill never got cut. I did an easy hour on the treadmill and headed home.

My road was a disaster. Cars were lined up where one tree was across the road. I parked my car on the left side of the road while I went to help, afraid that trees on the right side might land on my car. (This morning, I noticed that a tree had fallen later that would have landed on my car, had it been on the right side of the road when it fell.)

Finally, someone showed up with a chainsaw and we got the road cleared. I had to stop two more times on the way home to work with others to clear lumber off the road. The last time was kind of hairy, because the winds were still howling and we were afraid something would land on us. We used one guy as a spotter while two of us moved tree parts off the road. One tree from my property was blown into the road as well.

Our power was out from about noon until after 11:00 p.m. last night. As soon as I got home, I drank a post-workout drink, ate a couple graham crackers, and I fell asleep. My wife cooked some food for the kids on the wood stove.

I got up at 4:30 this morning and the winds were just about gone. The roof appears to still be on the house. But, our road is quite a mess and I'm sure town road crews will be busy with chainsaws for a few days.

I got to the gym early and ran easy for an hour. I was feeling the effects of no real dinner and perhaps being a bit dehydrated this morning, and I ran very slowly. I had a 7:30 meeting at work, and ate a muffin - something I would normally skip, but I was starving this morning.

I'll run easy for another hour tonight, and then lift tomorrow morning before running again tomorrow night. It looks like winter is about to return, but we lost an incredible amount of snow this week.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


I mentioned earlier this week that I was tired from skiing hard over the weekend. Yesterday, I ran for a total of 2:20 across two runs. I stayed up too late the last two nights on the consulting work I've been doing. This morning, I was beat at the gym. I was lifting this morning and I just felt weak. My push-ups were way worse than last Friday. My squats and rows were OK, but nothing felt really good.

I'm going to run easy for an hour tonight, but I think I'll take a night off from the consulting work. I need some extra sleep and I have a 7:30 meeting tomorrow morning. That means I have to be up before 5:00 if I want to run for an hour before my meeting.

Skiing is going to suck this weekend because of the weather we've been having, so I'm hoping that my weekend will be a bit less tiring than last weekend.

There's a chance of a big snowstorm Monday night into Tuesday, so perhaps skiing will improve again for the following weekend.

My wife and I need to go and check out the new gym that we just joined. My current gym is planning to close at the end of June, and we got a great family rate to this new gym through work, but we haven't even visited there yet. My wife has lost a lot of weight in the past 8 months - about 13% of her body weight, but she's been slacking off in the gym recently. She said this morning it's time to get back to work.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

A Real Run

Today, for the first time since November 13th of last year, I ran outdoors on the roads. We had an early start to snow and ice on the roads this year. When you combine that with the lack of daylight, I do most of my winter mileage on a treadmill.

But, it was warm yesterday. It was 42F at my house when I got up at 5:30 this morning. I heard on the radio that it was 55F in Montpelier. So, I found my reflective vest, my lights and my outdoor clothes and hit the road. Regretfully, it was below freezing in town where I chose to run, but I stayed vertical for the full 8 miles.

I used my Garmin 305 for the first time this morning. I discovered that the "3 mile" loop I use by the hospital is only 2.92 miles long. I use that loop for tempo workouts a lot, and I've apparently been thinking I'm faster than I really am for quite a while. At a 7:00 pace, the difference of 0.08 miles is about 11 seconds per mile. Oh well - I'm not going back and changing my training logs for prior years.

I have been deliberately running at an easy pace on the treadmill recently, and it was nice to run outside where my pace just "happens", rather than being dictated by electronics. I was happy to average a much faster pace outside today than I've been doing inside.

I'll run on the treadmill for another hour tonight.

I got my new MP3 player yesterday - a second generation iRiver Clix. The user interface is really amazingly simple - the whole unit can be "clicked" on any of the four edges. It took fewer than 5 minutes to master the whole thing.

The downside is that it didn't come with a case or an armband or an AC charger. I don't want the video screen to get scratched up and I don't want sweat dripping into it, so I ordered a silicon case this morning. Paired with Sennheisers LX-70 sport headphones, I was very impressed with the sound quality - way better than my previous player.

Too many toys, perhaps, but they make training more interesting at times.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Plane tickets for Western States

This morning, I purchased plane tickets for the whole family to travel to Western States in June.

This past weekend, I ate and drank like someone who doesn't have an important race coming up in a few months. I had alcohol 3 days in a row this past weekend and I certainly could have eaten better as well.

Friday night, we went to a Mexican restaurant and I had 3 margaritas with dinner.

Saturday night, we did a late birthday celebration and we drank wine at home. One of the wines was amazing - 1978 Chateau Beaucastel. I purchased this bottle almost 20 years ago. Actually, I bought two of them at the time and we opened one of them in 1992 or so. At the time, it seemed a long way from being ready to drink. On Saturday, it was fantastic, but it's time to drink it if you have it. I just don't see it getting an better than it is now, and it might be past its peak, depending on storage.

Yesterday, I had a couple beers after skiing. I've had some great beers from Stone Brewing Company in the past few months. Their Arrogant Bastard is a very nice beer, and the Ruinator IPA is also quite nice, but pricey at $15/6-pack here in the northeast. My favorite of their beers is probably the "regular" IPA, which is a relative bargain at under $10/6-pack.

I'm a little sore from skiing this weekend; we had great snow conditions and I skied hard on difficult terrain. I slept in this morning, and I'll run for at least an hour after work tonight, maybe more. Tomorrow, I'll run twice for a total of 2.5 hours.

I'll also step on the scale tomorrow morning. I created a chart that shows target weight loss numbers recently. I've decided that any time my weight is above the target number for a given date, I will completely abstain from alcohol until I get back to where I'm supposed to be.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Easy day

I couldn't decide if I wanted to lift or run this morning. I'd done each twice this week so far. I felt like I wanted to lift but like I should run. So, I did both.

I did push-ups, pull-ups, Swiss ball crunches, DB incline presses, wide-grip lat pulldowns, and reverse crunches - all upper body or core stuff. Then, I did 3 on the treadmill with 8 x 1 minute of moderate effort.

I'll be skiing all weekend, as usual. I need to step on a scale and see where my weight is. I feel like it's going down, based on the belt notch that I'm using, but I haven't touched the scale in a few days.

A doctor/runner where I work told me yesterday that it looked like I'd lost some weight. If only...

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Birthday Loot

I have to admit it. I'm a gear pig. Dr. Andy always gives me grief about my hi-tech approach to a low-tech sport. I like having an MP3 player and nice earphones for running. I have nice new snowshoes for running. I have been wearing a Suunto altimeter watch for years. I use my PSIA membership to take advantage of Patagonia's pro prices, probably more than I need.

After reading an article in the new issue of Ultrarunning magazine yesterday, I almost feel ashamed. Gary Cantrell wrote about the good old days of ultras, before everybody had fancy watches and electrolyte capsules and special drinks and special clothes and hi tech shoes, etc.

Yesterday was my birthday. My wife gave me a Garmin Forerunner 305. Yes, I'd asked for it, so it wasn't a huge surprise, but it's another piece of gear. Recently, my running headphones had died. I got some cash for Christmas and I was going to use that to replace the headphones. But, my son used his Christmas loot to buy a really cool Archos MP3/video player that has a touch screen and WiFi and all kinds of other capabilities. I started thinking about upgrading my MP3 player.

As a runner, I have a flash-based player. It has a 1GB capacity. It cost almost $200 when it came on the market as one of the first 1GB players. These days, 8GB players can be found for $200 and there are 16GB flash players out there as well.

I've been giving my wife all of my paychecks from my ski teaching this winter, hoping to help cover the bills and make it affordable for the whole family to travel to Western States this summer. I've also been doing the same with money I've been making from some consulting work. But, I "claimed" one of my skiing paychecks to get a new MP3 player. After doing a lot of research, I settled on the iRiver Clix 8GB player. It cost a little more than a Nano of the same size, and it had less capacity than the Creative Zen, but it's gotten great reviews. I record MP3s at 192kbps, so it will hold almost 90 hours of music. That should get me through any race I'm planning to do. The battery will die long before the music will start to repeat. The battery life is about 24 hours, so that should give me incentive to get faster for Western States. I want to finish before the battery dies.

Oh yeah - workouts. After running 20 on Tuesday, I only lifted yesterday. I have re-started a Fat Loss program from New Rules of Lifting, with some minor changes. In the Hypertrophy program that I just completed, there was an upper body day and a lower body day. After the lower body day, which included squats, deadlifts, Bulgarian split squats and bench step-ups, running was always tough for a day or two. The Fat Loss programs are whole body workouts. So, I'm hoping that these workouts will not leave me too tired to run on any given day.

Yesterday, I did deads, incline DB presses, Bulgarian split squats, mixed grip lat pulldowns, Romanian deads, pull-ups and push-ups.

When I started this program the first time around, in June, I was using about 60% of the weight I was using yesterday. Today, while I felt a bit tired from the workout, I wasn't trashed and my morning run went well.

Tonight, I think I'll do a nighttime snowshoe run with some of my new toys and my hi tech clothing. Maybe one of my low tech dogs will want to run with me, if it's not too cold at 5:00.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


Yesterday, I was off work like most of us were. The weather forecast showed a big snowstorm headed our way. The holiday "blackout" period at the mountain was over. During holiday periods, we aren't allowed to simply show up and ski at the resort. We have to at least volunteer to work if we are needed. Yesterday, I was allowed to simply show up and ski if I wanted.

But, there's that Western States thing out there in less than six months. So, my wife and I went to bed early on New Year's Eve. No alcohol at all for me. She got up early yesterday to go skiing. I got up early to run 20 on the treadmill.

My last single run over 10 miles was an easy 12 miler on November 10th. I've done some days since then where I ran twice to get over 10 miles, but no single runs of 10 or more. My last 20 miler was on September 23rd.

Because of my lack of long runs, I took it easy yesterday. Every five miles, I took a 5-minute walking break. I walked for a few minutes at the start and finish. I was amazed at how good I felt for the whole run. My time was slow, but it felt good.

Then, I went home and had some lunch and went out to snowblow the driveway. My wife called from the mountain at 4:15. She had just finished skiing and wanted to let me know how great the skiing had been. She was about to have a beer with some of our friends. It sounded like a great day - awesome skiing and a post-skiing drink with friends.

But, there are tradeoffs to be made these days.

A web-site I read regularly had this quote on it a few days ago:

"If you have a stated goal, but your actions are incompatible with reaching that goal, then it really isn't a goal."

Yesterday, my actions were compatible with the goal.

178 days until race day...