Thursday, July 31, 2008


I'm sore from yesterday's workouts.

My morning weight workout was all legs. I ran an easy 6 at night and I felt beat up then. This afternoon, I'm planning 7, with the middle 4 at anticipated marathon pace (AMP).

I have to admit that my AMP is actually a moving target. I want to be in shape to run 7:45s from the start at the marathon, but decided to approach that speed gradually in training. My goal was that my AMP training in July would be at 8:00 pace, then 7:55 in August, 7:50 in September, and 7:45 in October.

So, today is 4 miles at 8:00 pace, if my legs will allow it.

Tomorrow morning is the Bodyweight 500 workout again, and then an easy 20 on Saturday.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Still working out, but I'm saddened beyond belief

Jim Hutchinson ("Hutch") has been a big influence on me. He mentored me when I became a member of our local Select Board. He used his vast experience to tell me when a particular battle was worth fighting vs. when a battle might be unwinnable or political suicide. Because he spent so much time working with Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports (VASS), and because VASS works at the mountain where I teach skiing, I had some connection to VASS as well. Because of knowing Jim, I wrote a grant request that got $2000 for VASS. When I won a snowboard in a raffle last winter, I figured I could use it sparingly or find a way to put it to better use. I asked Jim about it and he told me that VASS could use it in a season-ending silent auction fund-raiser.

That's the kind of guy Hutch was. Once you got to know him, you got sucked into his causes because he so clearly cared about them. Because of Jim, I also started to volunteer for the Vermont 100 a few years ago, rather than just running or pacing. I've come to greatly enjoy that work each year. While I did run the Vermont 100 before Hutch was the RD, it's hard to imagine the race without him as an RD. I know that his wife wanted him to step down and actually relax a bit in his retirement, but Jim only seemed to have one speed - full on.

Jim was one my two representatives in the Vermont House of Representatives. I greatly respect his work there, and even those who disagree with him, have found him hard to dislike. The local papers have focused on Hutch the politician. It's the rest of his life that I admire the most.

Last summer, I attended Jim's 60th birthday party. It was a great event, despite some rainy weather. There was a lot of beer and a lot of meat cooked in a big smoker. There was a lot of laughter as well - all day long.

So, Hutch represented me in town government and in state government. He directed a race that I love. He is the past director of VASS, an organization that I greatly admire. Jim mentored me in local government. He sucked me into volunteering more in my life. He was my friend. I can't even describe how much I'll miss him.

Workouts (they don't really seem important right now): 7 x 800 meters last night, averaging 3:24.5 (slower than two weeks ago). Lower body weights this morning: squats, deadlift shrugs, step-ups, Bulgarian split squats (all 4 x 10), and then some inclined reverse crunches (3 x 15). I'll run easy for an hour tonight.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

At a loss for words...

Jim Hutchinson, the race director of the VT100 has died.

I served on the Select Board of our local town with Jim. I helped out as much as I could with the race, even in years I was running it. Jim was a great example to many on how to live a life of service to others.

He was my friend and someone I greatly respected. His wife, who volunteers at the VT100 every year, is a wonderful lady and was my daughter's 1st and 2nd grade teacher.

It all seems hard to believe.

It's only money.

My tractor died last night while mowing. The new part was $55.

My car got hit and I'm still hoping it will cost me nothing other than inconvenience, but it's not fixed yet. I have to fill out a heinous multi-page accident report for the state.

My running shoes for road training are shot. A call to Road Runner Sports just cost me $266 (3 pairs of shoes).

My driveway needs some repairs before the snow flies. I'm afraid to even get the cost estimate.

I need new snow tires for my car.

We have 8 cords of firewood on order ($1600+)

The side of grass-fed beef I bought last summer is about gone, and it's time to order another, despite a 10% price increase. I guess grass growing in the sun costs more this year.

My son needs new skis sometime this fall.

I think I need a 3rd job or a change in lifestyle.

Hey, but gas is under $4/gallon - only about 2.7 times the price we paid when Chucklehead took office.

Easy run

Last night, I headed out for a 6 miler and decided to explore some different roads. That's the really nice thing about having a Forerunner, although I worry sometimes that I'm too worried about time and distance and my training log, and don't pay enough attention to training by feel. I ended up doing 6.1 miles at a 9:10 pace and it felt really easy.

Today, I got to sleep in and I've got 7 x 800m at the track tonight. I'm going to a real track tonight rather than the dirt track I normally run on. I really enjoy running on the track and doing it on a "real" track will be fun. It's been a long time since I've done speedwork on a proper track.

My wife and son are going along tonight and they are both doing 4-6 x 400m as a Daniels "R" workout - very hard effort with long recovery between repeats. My son only has 13 days until high school soccer practice starts and he's making progress in some areas, but slacking in some others. My wife is trying to do some interval work on her non-lifting days. She's lifting MWF, and then trying to do something short and intense on Tuesday and Thursday. She has really fallen in love with lifting and would much rather lift than run these days. She's gotten great results from lifting, so I'm not going to argue with her.

Both of my relay races seem to be approaching quickly - the 100 on 100 here in Vermont and Reach the Beach in NH. One is 2.5 weeks from now and other is less than 6 weeks away. In both events, I'll run 3 legs for a total of 15-17 miles. At 100 on 100, I'll get about 4 hours between legs, while I'll get twice that much rest at Reach the Beach. Both will be good speed/strength work for my marathon training.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Workout and anger management

My workout this morning was great. I had forgotten that it was upper body only - six different lifts, in 3 supersets, doing 5x5 of each lift. There is a long break (90 seconds) between sets, so it's lift hard, rest a lot, repeat. My legs should be fine for an easy run tonight and speedwork tomorrow.

Anger management: I'm furious right this minute. I'm so angry my hands are shaking somewhat. Yesterday afternoon, I discovered some major damage to my car in the right front quarter panel. From the height of the damage, it looked like an SUV backed into my car.

When we arrived at work on Saturday to catch the bus to the Red Sox game, we parked beside a red SUV. When we got off the bus after the game (we got off last because we were in the back), that car was gone. But, the people who drove the car had been on the bus.

My wife knew who the people were. This morning, I took a walk around our parking lot, looking for the vehicle. I found it and the owners clearly knew they had hit something, because there were marks on their vehicle where they tried to rub off the evidence. I took the parking pass number of that vehicle to HR and they confirmed it was the person my wife said was parked beside us.

So, on Saturday night, these people got off the bus, hit my car hard, and simply took off. Who does stuff like that? It's an employee parking lot, so they had to know they'd hit a co-worker's car. It wasn't even something random in an anonymous parking lot. But, even if it had been anonymous, I would never leave the scene after doing something like that. My car probably has at least $1000 in damage and the other person simply took off.

I asked HR to contact the person because I was so angry about the whole thing. I told HR that I'm going to contact the police by the end of the day and file a hit and run complaint if the responsible party doesn't own up to the damage.

Who would hit the car of someone they know and just quickly drive away? I just don't get it.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Saturday Run

I had a great run yesterday - 12 miles at an 8:48 pace on rolling roads. I started out nice and easy and after a mile, started trying to focus on running a 9:00-9:15 pace, but I failed miserably. I simply felt good and I'd look at my Forerunner at times to find myself moving closer to 8:00 pace. I was slower on the ups, but I just felt great the entire run. Obviously, this isn't a fast pace, but a run like this on the roads makes me feel good that I can transition my fitness from ultra training to some faster running on the roads.

The baseball game yesterday was fun, except for the Yankees winning easily. We got home really late last night and I slept in today. But, it's a rest day, so I'm not in a hurry to do much of anything. I have to mow the lawn and buy groceries, but that's about it.

Tomorrow morning, I'll start a new lifting routine from New Rules of Lifting, so I'll probably be sore for a few days this week. Tomorrow morning is a 5x5 day, meaning high weights and low reps. Tuesday could find me in a lot of pain and I'm scheduled for 7 x 800m at the track that day.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Bodyweight 500

Unrelated to my normal obsession with workouts, I'm going to talk about work for a minute. Last night, I made a presentation to the Board of Trustees of the hospital where I work. It was a short presentation about a project that I've been working on for the past 18 months. I wasn't able to report to them that things have been an overwhelming success, but I think we're doing the right thing and making slow but steady progress on some performance improvement techniques.

My boss was nervous about the presentation and she and I worked together all week to re-word my slides. I was looking forward to making the presentation; it's something that I really love to do. Yet my boss, who was only introducing me and then observing, seemed worried.

I only had 15 minutes and I spent the first 3 minutes or so on a "Why am I here right now" story - giving the history of my involvement in the project and why I like it so much. Then, I went into the meat of the presentation. Along the way, I picked on our CEO in front of the board. I also picked on my wife, who was taking the minutes of the meeting. And, I included a story about my daughter near the end. I really enjoyed making the presentation.

When my wife got home from the meeting, she told me that she'd heard positive things about the presentation after I was gone. Of course, people aren't going to tell my wife directly that I gave a crappy presentation, if that were the case.

Many, many years ago, I started a doctoral program in mathematics at Penn State - a top 10 program at the time. Financially, it was difficult for me, but the reality is, I wasn't really mature enough to handle that level of program at that point in time. All my life, I'd gotten by on smarts rather than hard work, and suddenly, for the first time in my life, everyone around me was really, really smart, plus they all had great work ethics. I was overwhelmed and bailed out of the program.

Yet, the reason I'd gone into the program was because I wanted to teach. I know that my friend Ollie, a math professor finds many frustrations in teaching math at the college level, but I've always enjoyed teaching, no matter what the subject.

I love the ski teaching I do in the winter, where I know that I'm a better teacher than I am a skier. The program at work I was discussing last night is a program where I do most of the teaching within our hospital. I really enjoy the work and I think we're making good progress. Yet, I have to make sure that my love of teaching doesn't blind me to the real progress (or lack thereof) in this program.

Anyway, enough about work. This morning, I did the Bodyweight 500 workout for the first time in a few months. It took me 41:13 vs. 43:38 last time, so I was faster. Yet, in some ways, I don't think I did some of the lifts as well. My form on inverted rows was not as good as last time. And, I did very heavy lat pulldowns instead of pull-ups and chin-ups. I added some Abmat sit-ups, but didn't add the burpees I'd planned to add. Gaining just a few pounds since I left for Western States, and doing less weight training has really cut into my chin-up and pull-up ability.

Tomorrow morning, I'll do a moderate pace 12 miler before heading to Fenway for the Red Sox-Yankees game.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Harrisburg Marathon

Before I have a chance to change my mind so I can continue goofing off right through the fall, I just entered the Harrisburg Marathon.

Race entry fees are really out of control when a $45 race seems like a bargain.

Back in the saddle

My son got the Aerosmith Guitar Hero recently, and I've been hearing the song named above too much, along with many other Aerosmith songs that I liked a lot until recently.

Anyway, last night, I finally felt recovered from the weekend and whatever had me sick on Monday night. I went to the gym and did deadlifts, step-ups, DB shoulder presses, reverse crunches, and close-grip lat pulldowns. After that, I hopped on the treadmill (it was pouring outside), warmed up, and then did 10 x 100m at 6mpm pace - not too hard, but just enough to loosen up the legs after 30 very slow miles Saturday night.

Today, I had Yasso 800s on the schedule and I had some issues. I'm making a presentation to the Board of Trustees of the hospital where I work tonight. I won't have time to get to the track after that. If I waited until tomorrow, the 800s would mess with my 12-miler on Saturday morning. So, I decided to use my Forerunner and do 6 x 1/2 mile on the road this morning. I prefer to do interval work later in the day, but life doesn't always cooperate. The roas is simply not the same as the track and I knew I'd be a bit slower, especially on rolling terrain, but it's the workout rather than the speed that matters most right now.

I warmed up for a mile and then did the first half. I then walked for one minute and then jogged until it had been 1/4 mile since I'd finished the last one. Then, I did it again. Overall, I ran slower than on the track but I took shorter rest breaks. The good thing is I managed to get in a key workout when it would have been easy to skip it or do something easy. I averaged just under 3:30 for the six repeats - definitely slower than last week

Tomorrow is a bodyweight day at the gym, where I'll do 10-50 reps of each of the following exercises:

Prisoner Squat
Stability ball leg curl
Stability ball jackknife
Close-grip push-up
Inverted Row
Abmat sit-up

I'll do 500 total reps in the workout.

I'll do an easy 4 miler with the dogs tomorrow night and then a moderate paced 12 early Saturday morning. After that run, I'll board a bus full of Red Sox fans with beer on a trip to Fenway to see the hated Yankees. Sorry Jamie, I'm going to keep my tickets to this one. I haven't seen the Yankees play at Fenway since September of 1986.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


It was a long weekend, so this will probably be a long post. My son and I arrived at the race site on Friday morning about 10:30 or so. For the past few years, I've volunteered for the medical check-in on Friday, usually weighing people, because I don't know how to take blood pressures. It's a great way to meet people that I know by name but not in person. The runner I was planning to pace, Cecil, was there early after claiming he's arrive in mid-afternoon. He got checked in and then went for a short run, backwards on the course, to see the last stretch we'd be running later.

I saw so many friends on Friday that I can't even mention them all. I finally met Jamie Anderson in person, and I even got to run with him for a couple miles late Saturday night. My friend Joe Hayes was here for his second attempt at his 1000 mile buckle and he pulled it off this year, with a time around 27 hours. Jeff Washburn was hanging around and so many people were glad to see him at the race.

Late in the afternoon, we got swamped by registrants arriving just before the meeting. But quickly, they were done and it was time for the meeting.

Oh yeah, I wanted to mention something. Maybe it's a mini-rant. I've been manning the scales at this race for four years on the day before the race. To be perfectly honest, I don't care how much you weigh. I don't care how much anyone weighs. The weigh-in helps the race to keep runners safe and gives the race management a tool to stop runners from being really stupid at times. I did not personally manufacture the scales and I didn't certify them. I do know how to use the scale though. If you don't like your weight, it's not my fault. For the 20 or so of you who insisted the scale was wrong and went to the second scale, you found it agreed with the first. When you weigh in for a race or you get your BP done, if you don't like the result, please don't be rude to the volunteers. I happen to be an ultrarunner who is always fighting my weight, so I understand wanting that number to be as low as reasonably possible. But, if I was not an ultrarunner, some of the attitudes I encountered on Friday would lead to me never volunteering again. We need the volunteers at our races and being rude to them is never acceptable.

Anyway, it started to rain just about the time the meeting started. Luckily, the meeting was under the tent this year. Not wanting to fight the lines for dinner, I left as soon as the meeting was over and cooked dinner for Cecil and his wife at my house. I didn't get to bed until almost 10:00 and I could barely sleep then. At 1:45 a.m., it was time to wake up. I grabbed a quick shower and a cup of coffee and Cecil and I were on the road. It's nearly an hour from my house to the race site, so we had to leave before 2:30.

We got there in plenty of time and got Cecil checked in. We had time for a bagel and coffee. Then, the rain started. Cecil started with a rain jacket, but many runners didn't have jackets available.

After the start, the RD assigned me to a number of duties for the day. I was supposed to make sure the timers at mile 21 and 30 were familiar with the timing equipment and knew how to recover from errors, if they happened. I also helped with the aid station at mile 30.

Because I needed to talk to the timers before the first runners arrived, I got to see the leaders come through a few aid stations. I was amazed to see Jack Pilla (age 50) in the lead at mile 21.1. He was still in the lead pack at mile 30 and he finished an amazing 3rd overall. Cecil had ideas about going after the 50+ title, but Jack's performance left no doubt in that category. Cecil ended up 6th of 28 runners in the 50-59 category.

At mile 30 (Stage Road), I was able to stay longer because I didn't need to help with the timers at my next assignment. I helped with the aid station and encouraged runners I knew. I saw Jamie come through here. I saw Sherpa John come through as well, a bit slower than I'd expected, but still with a smile on his face.

I met Chihping Fu at this aid station when I helped him to cut the line at the port-o-potty. I helped Rich Collins with a few things as he went through on his way to 3rd place in the 100K. John Geesler was already moving up through the pack a bit at this point, on the way to a 12th place finish, which might be the first time he's been out of the top 10. Carol O'Hear was running great as was Lori Lebel at this point. I didn't know the lead woman, Devon Crosby-Helms from Seattle, but she apparently led from start to finish.

Eventually, the sun started to come out, the temps soared, and the station was running out of ice. I went to a local store to try to get some ice, but they were out. By the time I returned, the re-supply truck had been by and the station was fine with ice. At this point in time, I decided to get some lunch and head to Camp 10 Bear, the mile 47 aid station.

At Camp 10 Bear, I missed the first few runners, but saw many of the faster runners come through. At this point in time, most were doing pretty well. There had been a few drops already, but not too many. Somehow, I was helping one runner when Cecil came through, and I completely missed Cecil. After realizing that I'd missed him, I headed out to Tracer Brook, where my assignment was to make sure they were fully stocked with ice. They were fine, so all I had to do was crew Cecil. Cecil was doing fine when he came through and he'd moved into the top 25 or so runners at this point. He had started a bit fast in the first 21 miles, but by now, he'd settled into a comfortable 5mph speed. After Cecil came through, I headed for the start/finish, and my ride back to Camp 10 Bear, where I would start pacing.

On the way back, a really nasty thunderstorm hit. I saw Randy Witlicki on Rt. 106, getting pounded by the storm. At the start/finish area, the storm was outrageous. The winds where strong and I thought the two big tents for the race were going to blow away. There was hail and torrential rain and lightning. I sat it out in my car in air conditioning, feeling sorry for the runners. But, when I stepped out of my car, I realized the air temperature had dropped a bit.

As soon as the storm was over, teams with chainsaws were dispatched to clear out newly fallen trees. There were a lot of trees down, especially in the last 10 miles, and the crews did an excellent job clearing the course.

I got my stuff ready for running and my ride - my wife, Cecil's wife, and my son - showed up to take me to Camp 10 Bear. We were expecting Cecil by 5:15-5:30, but he came in closer to 5:50 - still under 14 hours for 70 tough miles. At this point, a sub-20 seemed unlikely, but Cecil is a tough runner and I hoped we could pull it off.

However, as he and I took off, his demeanor told me a different story. At first he talked about 21 hours on our first climb. After that climb, we ran a bit, and then on our next trail section, we walked almost the entire time. Cecil started talking about sub-24. I thought he was crazy given how much time he had in the bank and his fitness level, but I wasn't in his shoes. On our last stretch before the West Wind aid station, Dan Brenden passed us. I let Cecil know that Dan was in his 50s, but Cecil wasn't concerned about place at this point in time.

At the West Wind aid station (mile 77), we met our crew and got our lights. I'd never gotten to West Wind in daylight as a participant in the past. After West Wind, there are two miles of tough trails, and after that, almost 10 miles of mostly runnable roads. Those roads are where I thought Cecil would make up some time. But, as soon as we were on the roads on a downhill stretch, Cecil kind of snapped at me when I suggested running. Every time I tried to push him a bit, he started to repeat that he only wanted sub-24.

Just after we got on the road section, Jamie Anderson passed us. I tried to get Cecil to run with him, but no go. Later, we passed Jamie somehow. When he want back past us, I told Cecil that Jamie was also a schoolteacher like Cecil and I started to run with Jamie. Cecil reluctantly ran for the next two miles or so, to the Goodman's aid station at mile 81. I had no idea at that point, but Cecil would not run another step until mile 90, and then only briefly. He wouldn't do any sustained running until mile 96.5 or so.

Many people started to go past us in the next few miles. Well, not huge numbers, but a steady trickle of runners was going by. Jamie disappeared en route to a 22:26 finish. Between Goodman's and Cowshed, we found a 100K runner in distress on someone's lawn. The homeowner had called 911 at the runner's request. She turned down all offers of help from me and I agreed to report her to race officials as "out of the race".

After Cowshed, we briefly hooked up with a guy who was a chef, who had gone to cooking school in VT. I wonder if this is the same chef (a vegan chef) that Jamie mentioned in his race report. If so, I probably grossed him out when I mentioned something about foie gras. On the long downhill before the big climb to Bill's aid station, Cecil walked every step of the way. This was the most runnable terrain in the last 15 miles, and we walked it all. At West Wind, I had estimated we would hit Polly's aid station at mile 95.5 by 11:45. Our crew was meeting us there. Instead, we barely got to Bill's, at mile 88.6, by this time.

Not long after Bill's, the trail crosses a stone fence that had Cecil saying a few choice words. But, he got over it and continued. After that trail, you go downhill through a mowed hayfield, and Cecil started to run a bit when two nice looking ladies passed us. But, he couldn't keep up.

After that, it was a tough, long uphill that is also the first major climb in the Vermont 50. Then, a right turn and another climb followed by a brief descent to the Keating's aid station at mile 92. Shortly after this station, you turn left up Matrone Road - probably the steepest climb on the course. It's not too long, but it's a nasty climb. Next, we had a stretch of runnable roads, but Cecil wanted to walk and so we did. Then, a left hand turn onto trails that gradually climb for more than a mile. This stretch took longer than I remembered and Cecil was getting impatient with my "almost there" mantra. Finally, we got back onto the road and made a left and a right and we were at Polly's. Here, Cecil ditched one bottle and his second Garmin Forerunner of the race, which was running low on batteries. I dropped some gear with our crew as well and we took off for the last 4.5 miles. We had plenty of time to walk it in for a sub-24.

Then, about a mile later, we were passed by a lady from PA who lives close to where I grew up. Cecil decided to follow her and ran so close to her that I was afraid he would push her off the road. It was nice to see him running again, no matter what it took to get him moving. We ran the rest of the way to the mile 97.7 aid station - the last aid station. From there, we had a mile on trail that goes gradually uphill. The three of us ran it all, led by Cecil. The lady from PA and I talked about PA and the Harrisburg Marathon, which I'll be running in November. She was curious why I'd picked that race, unless I had family nearby (which I do).

After the trail section, we had a brief downhill on dirt roads and then a steep ascent on Blood Hill Road. Then, a left onto some hilly trails. After a couple minutes on the trails, we hit the "1 mile to go" sign. The lady from PA was pulling away from us, but Cecil was still pushing. That last mile seemed to go forever though. We finally got to the "1/2 mile to go" sign and I knew the terrain was pretty easy from there. Cecil kept asking if anyone was catching us, and the answer was always no. It turned out that 25 more runners finished after us (23:16:19) and below 24 hours, and the closest runner was just over a minute behind us. A total of 28 runners finished between 23 and 24 hours, and only 3 finished between 24 and 25.

We got Cecil to the medical tent, mostly for some food and drink. I was staying behind, while the crew took Cecil back to our house for a shower and sleep. I checked in at the medical tent and they didn't need any help. So, after cleaning up somewhat and changing clothes, I grabbed a beer and went back to the finish line to cheer people in. I was happy to see Chris Martin go sub-24. We were together for part of the "Trail Animals Don't Run Boston 50K", and he was apparently doing some sandbagging there about being so slow. Going sub-24 in those conditions is not slow, IMO. Nate Sanel, a friend of Sherpa John's, who I'd run with in late May, also made it in sub-24 in his first 100. Stan and Chrissy Ferguson, the Arkansas Traveler RDs made it in sub-24 as well.

I saw Zeke Zucker finish in the mid 25s, and then I was back in the medical tent when Joe Hayes showed up at 27:02 for his 10th finish. Joe assured me later that he will not be attempting another 10 finishes, but I bet he'll run a few more times.

Finally, about 8:00 or so, I was becoming super sleepy and almost incoherent, so I took a nap in the medical tent. When I woke up, my wife was beside me. She pointed out a friend, Tania, who had just paced a first timer to a sub-29 time. Tania has run a few marathons but no ultras (yet). She had fun though and I bet we'll see her name in the Vermont 50 in the next year or two. I slept some more, until it was time for brunch and the awards.

A huge number of people had finished in the last hour, but I'd slept through it all. The last place finisher, a 71 year old person attempting the Slam finished with 11 seconds to spare. Two runners finished over the 30 hour time limit.

After some food and more socializing with friends, it was time to go home. I got home in the early afternoon and took a shower. Then a nap. I got up for some dinner, and then went back to bed. Monday, I felt sick and slept another 12+ hours. Yesterday, I took a nap after work and then slept 9 more hours at night. Today, I'm finally feeling almost normal and I'm going to work out tonight.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Where did this come from? (not for the squeamish)

Yesterday afternoon, I started to feel a bit sick. No, scratch that - I started to feel a lot sick. Like I was going to hurl kind of sick. I ate a salad for lunch from our cafeteria salad bar and then I had a protein shake mid-afternoon. It seemed like everything was just sitting in my stomach and not moving at all. I felt like I weighed 300 pounds.

After work, I had to stop at the supermarket and the drugstore. In both stores, I was sure I was going to lose it. Shopping for food while you think you're going to start puking isn't a lot of fun. I finally made it home and simply laid down in bed and dozed off. My wife, the non-cook, had to deal with dinner, which was more complicated than she would have liked. She had to apply a spice rub to a beef brisket and then slow cook it on the grill - way more than she's used to doing. But, my son and a friend of his ate almost the entire brisket, so I guess she did OK.

Around 7:00 p.m. or so, I woke up suddenly. My stomach had had enough and within seconds, everything came out. Luckily I made it to the bathroom in time. After that nasty event, I brushed my teeth and went back to bed until 7:00 this morning. Today, I feel better, but kind of weak. The weakness isn't really surprising, considering that I essentially had a zero-calorie day only a day after being on trails for 9+ hours.

I had hoped to do an easy workout last night and another this morning, but neither of those happened. Maybe tonight I'll get to the gym for some easy lifting. Maybe not.

Yesterday was the first day of my marathon training and it wasn't a good start. Well, maybe I dropped some weight, but nothing good other than that. The rest of this week is going to be tough because of meetings, a presentation to the Board of Trustees of our hospital, and going to Fenway for the Red Sox-Yankees game on Saturday. The game isn't really a "tough" event, but my free time is limited this week, and that just exacerbates the problem.

I still need to write up a report about the race over the weekend. In some ways, volunteering and then pacing and then volunteering again seemed to be more draining than running the thing. I know that it was physically easier, but it was tough nonetheless. However, it's also really enjoyable to spend a weekend giving back something to a sport that has given me so much over the years.

Monday, July 21, 2008

40,000 Miles and brief VT100 mention

Sometime on Saturday evening, if my record-keeping is accurate, I passed the 40,000 mile lifetime mark while pacing at the VT100. I started keeping records on 4/1/1985.

I'll write more about the race and pacing later; today, I'm too busy trying to catch up at work.

The conditions were the toughest I've seen in the 8 years I've either run or paced at the race, although 1999, when I did a triathlon instead, was undoubtedly tougher because of extreme heat and humidity.

Many runners failed to reach the times they hit last year and the dropout rate was about 35% - higher than normal for the Vermont 100.

It was great to finally meet Jamie Anderson in person, plus I got to see many friends that I don't see often enough.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


I haven't run 3 days in a row in over a month. My weight has crept back up a few pounds. This morning, I turned off the alarm clock and didn't run before work. I always claim that I'm truly a lazy person who is just a couple bad decisions away from being obese and inactive. Lately, I've just felt really lazy.

Mostly, I think it's a letdown from Western States. I invested so much mental and physical energy into preparing for that race and then the race got cancelled. Even though I've come up with a new set of goals, my efforts have been half-hearted at best.

Hopefully, spending this coming weekend at the VT100 with other runners and friends will get me focused on training and eating well again.

I could run tonight, I suppose, but I'm going to go out for a couple beers with friends instead.

I'll get back to doing things right tomorrow. Or maybe Saturday.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Intervals - Yasso 800s

Most people who have ever trained for a marathon have heard of "Yasso 800s". I don't subscribe to Runner's World any more and I haven't for years, but I did subscribe in my road racing days. I think that the linked article above was the most valuable article that I ever read in the magazine.

Bart Yasso didn't write the article, but his name is forever attached to the workouts. A couple years ago, I talked to Bart at the runners' expo for the Vermont City Marathon. We were mostly talking about ultras (his wife is an ultrarunner), but I had to bring up the topic of his eponymous workout. He told me that he ends up discussing that workout with more runners than any other topic about running.

Anyway, in 1995, I used a months-long progression of Yasso 800s in marathon training. My final workout of 10 x 800 predicted a marathon time of 2:57:18 and I ran 2:57:35. So, I was sold. Over the years, I've seen many runners argue about the validity of the "predictive" aspect of this workout. I think that some people believe that if they can go out and run 10 x 800m at 3:00 each, they should be able to run 3:00 for the marathon according to the article. I read the article a slightly different way, seeing the workout as not only predictive, but as an integral part of training.

The way I use the workout is to start at 6 x 800, and move up one rep at a time until I hit 10, but I do each number of reps twice. All told, I do 10 workouts of 800 meter repeats. By the time I get to 9 x 800, I do the workout only ever other week, because it takes so much out of me.

So, I've picked a target marathon on 11/9 - the Harrisburg (PA) Marathon. I want to do my last 10 x 800 workout about 3.5 weeks before the race. At that point in time, I hope to be able to average 3:15 or better per repeat. I "only" need to run 3:30 to qualify for Boston, but I want to be in better than 3:30 shape in case something doesn't go quite right on race day.

Last night was 6 x 1/2 mile on a dirt track. I'll move to a higher quality 400m track for some of the workouts, but the closest track to my house is an old dirt track at Norwich University. I expected to average about 3:25-3:30 after not being on a track for a while.

My first repeat was 3:11 but I knew I'd pushed too much. My second was 3:15. Then, 3:22 - a bad trend. Then, I continued to slow down, with a 3:22, 3:25, and 3:26. But, my average was 3:20 and the median was 3:22, which was better than I expected.

In 2006, I ran the Vermont 100 in 27:20 or so. After recovering for about 6 weeks, I decided I wanted to try to qualify for Boston that fall. I picked a late year marathon, run on 12/23. I did OK for 10 miles, struggled a bit to 15 miles, and then gradually faded and quit at mile 22 when I had no chance of qualifying for Boston. As I look at my training logs from that fall, one thing stands out. I did the long runs I needed to do. I did tempo work and I did marathon pace work. My weight was low enough that I should have been able to qualify. But, I didn't do any Yasso 800 workouts - not one. This time around, I hope this workout makes the difference.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Easy Run and VT100 Weather

I went out last night for an easy 2.5 miles with my son and our dogs. My son was pretty worked over from his workout on Sunday, so we did 2.5 instead of our planned 3-4 miles. After running with him, I still wanted to get in some more miles, for a total of 6 or so. I headed back down the road, but I'm pretty tired of running back and forth on my dirt road. I've been avoiding the trails because of mosquitoes and deer flies, but decided I needed a change. So, I turned left and headed into the woods.

Within a mile, I'd found a patch of chanterelles (wild mushrooms). I'm going back tonight or tomorrow to pick them. I saw a few turkeys and one partridge hen (In Vermont, if you call a grouse a grouse rather than a partridge, you are instantly known to be a flatlander). There were a few mosquitoes and a few deer flies, but overall, the bugs weren't too bad. I ran past a site where I've found morels in the past, but no luck last night.

I ended up doing 6.5 hilly miles at a relaxed pace. Sometimes, I get so focused on how many miles that I've planned to run, that I forget how peaceful and relaxing a casual run through the woods can be. Even though that's what I allegedly love about ultras, I need to be reminded sometimes.

This morning, I heard the first detailed forecast for the weekend on the radio. If only the race could be today, everyone would be happy. Today is going to be sunny, low humidity, with temps in the mid-70s. Friday and Saturday are going to be very different. By Friday, humidity levels and temperatures will be rising. There is a chance for severe thunderstorms and microbursts on both days, which could make race day interesting. Temps on Saturday will approach 90F with high humidity. Two years ago, temps were in the mid to high 80s with high humidity, and it didn't bother me too much, but many runners complained about the conditions that year. Maybe it's because I live here and I'm used to those conditions. In 2005 however, things were much worse, with temps in the mid-90s and high humidity. I volunteered and paced that year, and I saw a lot of people struggling early in the race. Hopefully, the temps will stay down somewhat and any storms won't be too severe.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Boring day

Work all day. Easy run after work. Maybe go for a swim after the run. Cook dinner. Wash dishes. Read. Fall asleep before it gets dark. No baseball games on the radio tonight to keep me awake.


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Lifting today

I took it very easy at the gym today. I did deadlifts, step-ups, DB shoulder presses, reverse crunches and lat pulldowns. I deliberately kept the weight low on all of the lifts, especially the deads. Hopefully, I'll feel just fine tomorrow.

My son tried a different workout today that I've done before - a 500 total rep bodyweight workout. I think he thought it would be easy, but it worked him over pretty good. Hopefully, he won't end up sore and trashed like he was last week.

I really need to get back to training harder, but I also have to be ready to push hard while pacing on Saturday. I think my plans for this week will be an easy hour run on Monday, intervals on Tuesday, lifting and an easy hour on Wednesday, and then an easy 45 minute run on Thursday. After that, I'll rest until Saturday afternoon, when I start pacing.

Well, time to start the grill and cook dinner in the rain.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Recovered - finally

I took Friday off because my legs were still killing me. This morning, I finally ran again - a hilly 8 miler - and my legs felt pretty good. It was warming up and muggy when I ran, but the real issue was deer flies. They are usually at their worst right around the time of the Vermont 100, so I should have expected to deal with them today.

After running, my son and I did some yard work. I bought a chainsaw last weekend to deal with some downed tree limbs on our property. I wanted to do the work earlier this year, but I kept imagining myself unable to run Western States because I'd sliced off half of my foot with a chainsaw. So, I finally took care of the work today.

My wife and daughter are gone for the weekend, so it's just my son and me here. We must live pretty boring lives, because I'm playing on the computer and my son fell asleep watching a DVD. We'll probably go for a swim in a while and then figure out what to do for dinner.

Tomorrow morning, my son and I will go to the gym to lift. This time, I'll be a lot more careful with the weights I use.

It feels kind of funny to not be tapering for the Vermont 100 right now. I've run it the past two years and this year, I'll be pacing rather than running. Of course, in some respects, I've been tapering for about 6 weeks right now.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Interval workout (not)

After work yesterday, I went to the track as planned. I went to South Burlington High School and they have a beautiful track. Originally, I was going to go to Burlington High School, because their track is newer. Plus, how many people ever get to run on a track where the high school mascot is the Fighting Seahorses? In a state that doesn't border any salt water?

Did I mention that I was sore from my lifting on Tuesday? Really sore? I deliberately kept the weights low - only 135 on squats and 2x25# DBs for lunges. My glutes are in pain plus some hamstring muscles as well. I'm not good enough at anatomy to know exactly which hamstring muscle, but it doesn't really matter when it hurts like hell. Pain is pain.

So, I pulled myself out of my car and stretched for a while. There was a soccer practice going on - high school aged girls. I was hoping that their coach wouldn't yell at me for using "their" track, but who really cares about a fat old man lumbering around a track?

I do most of my track workouts on a dirt track at Norwich University and this track was quite a contrast. It might have been the nicest track I've ever seen. The soccer field inside the track was astroturf! Our local high school doesn't even have a track and we use that quaint stuff called "grass" to cover our field.

That reminds me of a funny baseball story. Tug McGraw, an oddball relief pitcher who spent most of his career with the Mets and Phillies was asked once about the difference between astroturf and grass. He replied (and I'm paraphrasing badly, no doubt) that he didn't really know, because he'd never smoked astroturf.

Oh yeah, I was allegedly talking about my workout. Ha! Anyway, the first lap of my warm-up went OK, but I was in some pain. The second lap was OK. On the third lap, it was pretty apparent that I wasn't going to be able to run fast. Hell, I wasn't going to be able to run slowly. On my 4th lap, I tried some accelerations. Tried. No go. On the far side of that lap, I noticed that my car appeared to be miles and miles away. I was hoping I could make it to my car.

I thought I was going to fall over. I started to imagine the high school girls freaking out when an old fat guy fell over on the track beside their practice. They wouldn't know what to do. I would know that it was only sore muscles that had me stuck on the ground. But, they'd be thinking about the possibility of a heart attack that had put me there. "Who's going to do CPR?" "Not me" "What about mouth to mouth?" "On him? Ewwwwwwwww!" "Quick, call an ambulance" "Wait, no, let's just leave and all agree that we saw nothing at all"

After one mile, done in 10:23, I called it a day. I drove home and made myself a mojito and grilled some chicken for dinner. The second mojito seemed to dull the pain in my legs for a while, but it hurts again today. My wife and I are planning to run a few miles together this evening. She normally runs at about 12-13 mpm pace. I hope I can keep up.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Sore and Tired

After not lifting for almost 3 weeks, even a basic workout left me amazingly sore. It's been two days since I lifted and right now, it hurts to move in just about any direction.

Yesterday afternoon at work, I was running some long database queries for some reports that I produce every couple months. I was feeling really tired and almost dozed off while some of the queries were running. When it was time to go home, I was exhausted and we had thunderstorms in the area. Our electricity was out at home.

I laid down in bed at home and immediately fell asleep. My wife woke me up to tell me she was taking the kids for pizza and to see Wall-E (or however it's spelled). I was so out of it that she had to remind me that it was Wednesday evening, and it wasn't time to wake up for work. I woke up about 7:30, got some dinner, did some consulting work for a while and then went back to sleep by 10:30.

So, with today's weather being much nicer, I'll run track intervals tonight. If it doesn't hurt too much to run. I may end up doing some long distance hiking rather than a long run this weekend. I haven't hiked in VT yet this year and it's something I miss doing.

I'd like to say that I should do a mini-taper before pacing at VT100 next week, but it seems that I've been tapering for months now.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Back to the gym

Until yesterday, I hadn't lifted in almost 3 weeks. I'm planning on going through a new series of workouts from The New Rules of Lifting over the next couple months. But, having not lifted for a while, I decided to take it easy yesterday, using the "Break-in" workouts from NROL. My son and I did the same workout last night, although with different weights.

He really struggled with form on squats and I'm sure he'll struggle with deadlifts tomorrow as well. But, we got through the workout OK - squats, lunges, 2-point DB rows, push-ups and Swiss ball crunches. I kept the weight low on all of the lifts and I'm still a bit sore today. I'll stick with the break-in workouts this week and next, so I'm not too beat up when I pace at the Vermont 100. After the 100, I'll get back to harder gym workouts.

My son was complaining that lunges were tough last night because his quads were sore from the 100 meter repeats the day before. Last year, about three days into soccer season, he could barely walk down stairs because his quads were so sore. Hopefully, we'll fix that with his workouts this summer.

After the workout, we went for a swim and then met my wife and daughter and went out for dinner.

Today's forecast includes significant thunderstorms, so my track workout might get moved indoors to the treadmill. Even if I can run outside, it's not going to be much fun - very hot and humid and the air quality is very poor right now.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A different focus

For the next six weeks, I'm going to be working with my son, helping him to get ready for his high school soccer season. He will be a sophomore and he has the ball skills to make the varsity team this year. It's been his lack of speed and fitness that's been his major issue in past seasons, and he really wants to improve on that. With the base he has from track season, he's in decent shape right now. I don't know if he'll be able to make the varsity team, but he wants to be in the best possible shape when practice starts. They'll have two new coaches for the boys this year, so there shouldn't be any preconceived notions about the talent.

Because I'm now training for a marathon, I need to change my training as well. I'll spend less total time running but with more quality work.

Last night, my son and I worked out together. We took the dogs out for a slow 2.5 miler as our warm-up. They were incredibly lazy in the heat. Then, we did 10 x 100 meters, with 40 seconds rest. The goal for each 100 was a smooth start, good form, and gradual acceleration through the distance. My time was about 20 seconds per 100, and my son was doing mostly 22s. On the last one, I told him he could run as fast as he wanted, but he said he was beat and just holding on. Then, he took off and ran a 17 to finish. I'm not sure I could have beaten him if I'd wanted to, but I didn't admit that to him.

This morning, I ran a very easy 6 miler at just under 9:30 pace. Tonight, my son and I will lift weights together before heading to the pool. It's going to be over 90F today and very humid, and a swim after lifting will feel great.

Tomorrow night is track work for me, mobility work for my son. He'll be on the football field inside the track as I do loops around him.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Back home and back to training

What a great vacation - one of the best ever, even without the race. But, vacation is over and I'm back home and back at work. It's also time to get back to training. I'm afraid to step on the scale right now, so I'll wait until I'm back into my eating and workout routine for a few days before I face the music there.

I'll be pacing at the Vermont 100 in 12 days. That should be a moderate pace 30 miler for me, while pacing a pretty fast runner. I'm guessing he'll be close to 20 hours and he might go sub-19 if he has a great day. I'll also volunteer at the race on Friday and early Saturday before I start my pacing duties.

After VT, my focus will really change for the next few months. I'm going to try to run a Boston qualifier this fall somewhere. Right now, this is my candidate list of races:

Harrisburg, PA on 11/9
Cape Cod on 10/26
Bay State on 10/19
Green Mountain (South Hero) on 10/18
Mohawk-Hudson River on 10/12

I've also got the 100 on 100 relay on 8/16 and Reach the Beach on 9/12-9/13. Both of those days will provide me with speed/strength work, as I race multiple times in each event, for a total of 16-18 miles.

At the moment, I'm leaning towards Harrisburg, because I want as much training time as possible.

Here is the rough template I'll use for my training weeks through the fall:

Monday: lift in the morning, easy 60 minute run after work
Tuesday: Speed work - probably Yasso 800s, building to 10 x 800
Wednesday: Same as Monday
Thursday: Marathon Pace running - gradually building the length of these runs
Friday: Lifting and stretching, but probably bodyweight work rather than moving iron.
Saturday: Long runs, done at MP + 75-90 seconds per mile. I already have a solid base for my long runs, so I may intersperse some shorter MP runs on Saturdays.
Sunday: Rest day

If I run Harrisburg, I'll probably also enter the Mohawk-Hudson race as a training day. I'll probably do 15-18 miles at MP and then either quit or jog slowly to the finish.

Oh yeah, for an old guy like me, I need a 3:30 to qualify for Boston. I tried at the end of the year in 2006, but I hadn't done enough quality work near my marathon pace, and I had a bad race that day. I was uncomfortable with my pace (7:55 or so) by the 10 mile mark, I knew I was in serious trouble by mile 15, I was slowing by mile 17, and at mile 22, I called it a day. My plan had been qualify or bust, so I took the latter option.

There are two primary goals for this decision to race a marathon. First, I haven't run Boston since 1996 and I would really like to run it again as a qualified runner. Secondly, the speed work I do for a marathon should give me a great base to start next year's WS training in good shape.

I guess I should reset my countdown timer to next year's WS100 race on 6/28.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A Big Thank You and a Brief Run Report

I have heard from so many people by comments here or by e-mail, letting me know that they understood my disappointment when WS was cancelled. Thank you to all of you for your nice comments. I did work my butt off and I won't let the fitness go to waste, but it just wasn't time for me to finish WS yet, I suppose.

I have some friends who I work with and run with on occasion, and they are both planning a fall marathon, with plans of going to Boston next spring. I think I'm going to focus on the same thing plus my lifting and getting leaner through the next few months.

One occasional reader of this blog quickly saw through that plan, suggesting it was a ploy to give myself a better chance of running sub-24 at WS next year. And indeed, that was my thought as well. If I can get lean enough and fast enough to qualify for Boston, that will put me in a great position for a good spring next year, leading up to WS 2009.

I guess the fact that I didn't get to run this year means I'm going to continue this blog for another year as well. That might not be good news for the internets.

Oh yeah - a run report. I ran at Rancho San Antonio this morning again, but did the shorter loop, so my wife could have the rental car to take the kids to the beach for the day. I ran the loop in 65:44. I've run it three times now, and I've run the one tough uphill mile in 9:50-9:58 each time. I might run it one more time tomorrow before we head home on Friday morning.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

If vacation lasts much longer...

I'm gonna need a new wardrobe, size XXXXXXL.

I ran at Rancho San Antonio again yesterday - slower than last week. Then we went to Taqueria La Bamba - the best burrito place I've ever visited. The burritos are amazing - especially the carnitas, but they are big. It had been at least a dozen years since my last burrito there, but nothing has changed about the place.

Later, we spent some time shopping in a newer shopping area in San Jose, and then we went to a wine tasting. After that, dinner with friends and some swimming.

Today, I slept in while my wife ran at Rancho San Antonio. Then, we went to lunch and then a wine tasting at Vin, Vino, Wine in Palo Alto. VVW is two doors down from the new Zombie Runner storefront, but it looks like the Zombie store isn't open yet. From the wine tasting (amazing Chablis from 2003-2006), we went to visit a running friend and his family. We went swimming for a while and then had dinner at a small Mexican restaurant.

No exercise today. I'm stuffed.

Tomorrow morning, I'm planning 10 miles at Rancho San Antonio. Tomorrow night is dinner at Theo's Restaurant in Soquel - a great restaurant co-owned by a friend of mine.