Monday, December 28, 2009


After working so hard to release a new software product before Christmas, I took advantage of the holiday and the weekend to just stay away from my computer for four days. I will admit I took a few looks at e-mail on my iPhone, but I wanted a break from the laptop that seems to be permanently affixed to my hands.

We released the software on Tuesday. By Wednesday, things seemed pretty stable, and I left work for the four day weekend in a good mood. Wednesday night, I went to a holiday party with some friends. On Thursday, I did a little bit of final shopping for Christmas. And, I practiced guitar for 90 minutes. Then, we went out for a nice Christmas Eve dinner - just my wife and the kids. It was very enjoyable.

Christmas Day was somewhat low key. My daughter had gotten most of her presents early, primarily a fancy new cell phone, and my son either got clothes (T-shirts and hoodies advertising his favorite bands) or video game stuff. I got a big gift certificate to buy some new cookware and another gift certificate for a local gourmet shop. My wife got a book, a new winter coat, some amethyst earrings, and some other clothes. We visited family for the day, but I needed to get home and to bed at a reasonable time because I was teaching skiing all weekend.

Saturday, the mountain wasn't very crowded, but six of the girls in my group showed up and we had a good skiing day. But, the weather turned on us and it poured rain most of Saturday night. Sunday's skiing was pretty marginal - only groomed terrain was really any fun and it rained all morning. By lunchtime, everybody was soaked, so I took the girls to the mountain's health club, where they split time between the pool and the climbing wall.

Today, it's back to work to me, but the lack of e-mails and low volume of posts on Facebook makes me think that I'm the only person at work today. If the system is still looking stable over the next day or so, I'll probably take Wednesday-Friday off from my "real" job to teach skiing for a few extra days. It's snowing today and we are expecting a big storm later in the week. By Friday, skiing conditions may be very nice.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Last night's workout was pretty simple. Three lifts - squats, bench presses, and then deadlifts. I did 5 sets of each lift with 3 minutes rest between sets. My rep counts for the five sets were 5-4-3-2-1. And, in every set, I increased the weight from the previous set.

My legs were a bit tired from skiing over the weekend, and I could feel it, especially on squats. I did a 285 pound squat last week, but last night I started at 225 and finished at 265.

For bench presses, I started at 135 and finished at 155. I don't know if I'll ever be any good at bench presses in comparison to the leg-dominant lifts.

For deadlifts, I started at 275 and finished at 315. After doing a 355 pound deadlift a couple weeks ago, only getting to 315 seemed kind of weak, but it was at the end of a tough workout. I was surprised that my grip seemed to be a limiting factor last night. I may have to resume doing farmer's walks to work on my grip strength for deads.

I'm hoping to get in some kind of workout over the next two days, but I have some last minute stuff to do for Christmas, so I'll have to see how it goes. Plus, my company released a new software product today, so I've got to monitor our systems pretty carefully for the next few days. I worked until midnight after lifting yesterday, making sure that the product was really ready for release today.

I'm certainly looking forward to taking some time off work later this week and again next week, after working hard on this new product for the past few months. I'm planning to ski on Thursday with my daughter, and then get in some more skiing days next week. Plus, I need to do some running.

Monday, December 21, 2009

It's a good tired

Two days of skiing have left me feeling a bit beat up again. I just don't have my ski legs back yet and we skied some tougher terrain this weekend. It's impossible to describe how much I love this job. There are parts of it that are frustrating - mostly little things, things related to the constant change in management at the resort, small rule changes (they doubled the price of an employee cup of coffee this year), etc. But, it's really pretty simple. Between 9:00 and 9:15, girls start showing up with their parents. I have the only single-sex group - 10 girls including my own daughter.

At 9:30, we head for a chair lift - no parents, no bosses, and I essentially revert to being a 10 year old for the day. Yes, I am a very responsible 10 year old, but I feel like a kid when I hang out with these girls all day. I sing silly songs on the chairlift, primarily to embarrass the girls. We joke with each other. They call me the "fat kid" in the group - really referring to me being adult-sized rather than truly fat. Yesterday, they decided they needed a female coach, so I needed a new name. They started with Dana and then realized that could be a guy's name. So, I became Delilah for the day. I told them that I loved being Delilah, because Delilah conquered the world's strongest man with nothing but a pair of scissors.

We ski a run to warm up. Then, I teach a skill. We practice that skill explicitly for one run. Then, we use a second run to blend the skill into our skiing. And then, one or two more runs and it's lunch-time.

After lunch, we head to harder terrain. I want to spend part of every day taking the kids outside of their comfort zone. That's where they learn the fastest. But, too much time out of their comfort zone, and the risk of fatigue and injuries increases. So, after one or two tough runs, I start dialing it back. I'm constantly reinforcing the morning lesson, but I do it by either telling the entire group when someone does it right, or whispering recommendations in an ear when someone doesn't quite have it. By the end of the day, we are all tired. Six hours together is a great length for our daily play date.

I take the children back to their parents. I suddenly have to revert to being an adult again. I tell the parents what we worked on and where we skied. If the parents are going to ski with the kids before I see them again, I give the parents a few pointers to reinforce my teaching. Frequently, the parents are impressed enough that they say they are going to take a lesson with me. Sometimes it actually happens, but most of my teaching time is devoted to my little group of best friends.

The days seem to go by so fast and two weekends are gone already. But, it's early in the season and I have 28 more days to ski with my littlest best friends.

It's really an amazing way to spend my winters.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Good day for a rest day (yesterday)

I am ridiculously sore today from Wednesday's squat workout. Resting yesterday was a good idea. Resting again today might not be a bad idea, but I'll probably do a short run to try to loosen up the legs before skiing this weekend.

The highlight of yesterday was a tasting of some amazing beers at an amazing pub in Montpelier - Three Penny Taproom.

The planned highlight of the evening was a beer called Life and Limb - a collaboration between Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada. Three Penny got 5 gallons of this beer - enough for eighty 8 oz. pours. A friend and I arranged for my wife to pick us up, so we wouldn't drive after tasting some high alcohol beers. The taproom has 22 lines and there were so many amazing beers to try last night.

Before the Life and Limb got tapped, I had Allagash Four from cask, Allagash Odyssey, and Southern Tier Cherry Saison - all very good. Then, at 6:20, the Life and Limb started flowing and every person in the room was smiling as they sipped that amazing beer. I figured the keg would be gone in about 15 minutes, but it actually made it for an hour, allowing some of us to get more than one taste of the beer. I would rate it as one of the ten best beers I've ever had. It's too bad that the production is so small. Many lovers of good beer may never get a chance to taste this beer.

Tonight is Christmas tree decoration night. And, I have to do a little gift shopping after work. Hopefully, I'll have time to squeeze in a run.

Then, the weekend will be all about skiing. I'll have fewer children skiing with me this weekend than I had last weekend. Many of the families that live outside of Vermont spend the weekend before Christmas getting ready for the holidays. So, it's typically a slow weekend. Sugarbush has more trails open than any other east coast resort and the skiing should be fun this weekend, despite some very cold temperatures.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Squat PR

After not completing my bench press at 175 pounds on Tuesday, I returned to the gym with squats and vengeance on my mind last night. I set a new PR last time I did squats by doing 275 pounds. This time, I intended to go beyond that number if possible.

After my warm-ups, here were my sets:

6 x 225
1 x 265
6 x 225 (wanted to not do too much before the next set)
1 x 275 (felt easier than last time)

At this point, I was supposed to do two lower weight, higher rep sets, but I wanted to go beyond 275. So, I added 10 pounds and gave it a whirl. My depth might not have been ideal, but I completed the rep.

So, I finished with the following:

1 x 285
10 x 205
18 x 155

Then, some Bulgarian Split Squats, some step-ups, and some core work.

My hamstring was not happy with the heavy squats. Sometime in the past few days, I irritated the hamstring muscle in my injured leg. Last night's lifting bothered both the muscle and the tendon attachment point. So, today will be a rest day.

Hopefully, my leg will feel better for some hard running tomorrow before I spend the weekend on snow.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

After four days of leg work...

Last night was an upper body workout in the gym.

The main event was an attempt at a new bench press PR. Last winter, my best was 165 (yes, that's pathetic, but I'm mostly a runner and skier with no upper body strength), and this winter I've done 170. I did a single rep at 165 last night that felt almost easy, so I decided to try for 175. I pulled the bar down and headed back up. And then, it just stopped moving. If I'd made it one more inch, I would have finished the rep. But, after what seemed like a minute (maybe 5 or 6 seconds), I asked my spotter for help. I'll get it next week.

My bench press sets were as follows:

6 x 145
1 x 155
6 x 145
1 x 165
1 x 175 (failed)
10 x 125
18 x 105

I mixed in bent-over barbell rows between the bench press sets. After that, lat pulldowns, dumbbell shoulder presses, windshield wipers, incline reverse crunches, and dips. After skiing three straight days, doing my first run in a couple weeks, and then hitting my upper body last night, I'm pretty much tired everywhere today.

Tonight is squat night at the gym. If my legs are feeling strong, I'll try shoot for a lift of 280 or higher, which would be a new PR.

I made minor progress towards Christmas last night. I bought our tree. We'll decorate it Friday night. I wanted to buy it yesterday before our weather put us into a deep freeze, which would have all the trees stored outside frozen solid.

Luckily, there's still plenty of time until Christmas, right? Nine days? Plenty of time.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Running? Oh yeah, I remember now.

My lungs are finally clear from the cold that has been dogging me for 2+ weeks. OK, maybe not 100% clear, but almost there. Last night, I did my first run since Thanksgiving Day. Regretfully, it was on a treadmill, but it was nice to be running again. I listened to tunes and just cruised my way through an easy 5 miler.

After skiing the 3 previous days, I wasn't sure how my legs were going to feel, but I felt pretty good overall. And, it was nice to just do some running again.

Between now and Christmas, like most people, I'm going to be really busy. Not only are the holidays coming up, but my company is also doing a major software release next week. My weekends are busy with teaching skiing. I still don't have a Christmas tree. And, I still have some Christmas shopping to do.

But, last night reminded me that, even on a treadmill, I still enjoy running. So, I need to make sure I find some time over the next few weeks to get back to running more regularly.

And, I somehow need to find the time to keep up with my guitar practice as well. I'm working on learning the Allman Brothers' "Melissa" and Pink Floyd's "Breathe". Both are much easier than the Dead tune "Around and Around", which has been frustrating me quite a bit recently.

Tonight, after 4 straight days of leg work, I'm going to do some upper body lifting. I'm also going to buy a Christmas tree tonight.

Monday, December 14, 2009

First weekend of skiing

What an amazing start to the ski season. A week ago, the mountains were brown and Sugarbush had two upper mountain trails open. But, with a storm last week followed by a lot (and I mean a LOT!) of lake effect snows, the trail count grew very quickly this past weekend. I got out on Friday afternoon and took my first run on a single-black diamond natural snow trail - no rocks, no sticks, just soft sweet snow.

Later on, I joined up with some other instructors and we hit a number of tough trails that were skiing very easily with small moguls, soft natural snow, and just perfect coverage. We skied for about 3 hours or so, maybe a bit less, and then had a couple beers after skiing. It was a perfect day.

Saturday morning was somewhat chaotic as we wrapped up a few items that needed to be done before we could start teaching. But, we got groups organized fairly quickly and I basically had returning students from last year, one of my daughter's good friends, and two other new girls who I've skied with before. I had 8 of my 9 assigned students all weekend.

I spent Saturday focusing on a few basics that we needed to get out of the way. Late in the day, we took those few tactics to our first bump run of the year and most everyone skied well. After that, we backed off for the rest of the day. There's no sense burning people out the first weekend.

On Sunday, I added one more skill to what I'd given them on Saturday. My timing was perfect, as I was teaching this new skill just as my two supervisors rounded a corner to check up on me and the group. Later in the day, we took that skill and Saturday's work, and skied our first black diamond bump run of the year. Near the end of this one, I could see that the girls were getting tired, so I decided to back off for the rest of the day. Regretfully, at that point in time, essentially every trail on the mountain was bumped up, and there wasn't any really easy terrain. So, we took a long break inside to let them recover. I could tell they were working hard because the girls purchased "snacks" that were essentially a second lunch. Finally, we did one last easier run and called it a weekend.

I have a really good group of girls and I'm really looking forward to the rest of the season. Until last year, I'd always had mixed groups of boys and girls, but I accidentally ended up with all girls last year and it stayed that way this year. I offered to take the little brother of a girl I'd taught the past few years, but when he found out he'd be the only boy, he backed out quickly. I don't blame him. In ten years, he'd kill for that ratio, but right now, it's terrifying.

It was a great, great start to our ski season. The whole weekend just reminded me how much I love this job. At times, I definitely envy my friends who can do it full time and still pay their bills.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Snow, snow, snow!

Early in the winter, there are conditions that can create huge amounts of snow in the Green Mountains of Vermont. If the fall is warm (which it was this year) and then the temperatures drop suddenly, cold air moving across the Great Lakes can pick up lots of moisture, which saturates the cold air. When that cold air starts blowing east and it hits the Green Mountains, it gets forced uphill and the air cools even more. At that point, it can't hold all of its moisture any more, and the moisture from the Great Lakes (Lake Ontario is our benefactor of the moment) becomes snow in the Green Mountains.

Right now, conditions are perfect for this type of snow and the mountains are getting pounded by snow. To the best of my knowledge, Sugarbush became the first resort in the east to open natural (no snowmaking) trails earlier this week. And, the snow just keeps on coming.

I drove home through whiteout conditions last night, courtesy of the lake effect snow. It's snowing now and I'm hoping to go skiing this afternoon. It's also windy, so the lifts might get shut down before I can get to the mountain, but if the lifts stay open, I'll be skiing this afternoon.

By the time the lake effect snows taper off tomorrow, the NWS has projected 40"-50" of new snow in the mountains this week. And then on Sunday afternoon, a storm is going to move in with some more snow.

So, in one week, we've gone from no natural snow at all to full-on winter. I can't wait to make those first turns of the ski season.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Driving in Vermont

Here is a copy of the map from the state's driving conditions web-site as of a few minutes ago. Areas shaded in pink mean difficult driving.

I'm glad I'm working in a coffee shop a few miles from home. The winds have really picked up and Sugarbush has recently put its lifts on a wind hold that will probably last for the rest of the day.

I love winter!

It just keeps hanging on (aka excuses)

I first started feeling a cold coming on around Thanksgiving Day. I felt sick enough that I took an entire week away from workouts. I feel fine now, but my lungs are still not quite clear. It was cold (19F) and blustery when I got out of work last night. After some early morning snow that had melted during the day and then re-froze, the footing was questionable. And, I knew my lungs weren't going to like running in the cold air. Oh yeah, it was dark and I was going to run by flashlight on an icy bike path. I just wasn't up for running in those conditions.

So, I went to the gym and lifted again. I did an upper body workout - bench presses, bent-over barbell rows, close grip lat pulldowns, dumbbell shoulder presses and dips. I finished with a little bit of core work.

Today, it's snowing like crazy. The snow is going to turn into sleet and then rain and then back to sleet and then back to snow. By the time we go to bed tonight, there could be as much as a foot of snow on the ground or we might have 6" of wet snow and sleet. I think my workout for the day is going to be running the snowblower to clear the driveway. If the snow gets covered with sleet or soaked by rain, it will take a long time to clear our driveway tonight.

The mountains are supposed to get hit hard by today's storm, and then hit hard the next few days by lake effect snow. By Saturday, the skiing could be pretty good. I'm going to ski Friday afternoon - a few runs before I start teaching Saturday morning. I have brand new boots that I've never used, and I need to get the feel for the boots before I have an audience of young students on Saturday. I'm going to ski with a couple other instructors, so we can critique each other's skiing and hopefully dial a few things in before we start teaching.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Monday workout - Deadlift PR!

Maybe I should take a week off more often. Last night, my workout started with deadlifts. My deadlift PR when I started the night was 335. Here are my deadlift sets from last night, with a 3 minute break between each set:

Warm-up (135 and 225)
6 x 245
1 x 315
6 x 265
1 x 345 (PR!)
1 x 355 (PR!)
12 x 225
18 x 185

Then, I did the rest of my workout. I'm tired today.

When I got up this morning, my plan was an easy five mile run tonight. But, given our weather, I'm leaning towards an upper body lifting workout instead. I'll see how the wind and snow change by the end of the work day.

We are supposed to get our first real snowstorm of the season tomorrow. It's the same storm that's already hit a lot of the rest of the country, and it looks like I'll be using the snowblower tomorrow night for the first time this year. My commute to work today was a bit slow and slippery.

Monday, December 7, 2009

PRP Update

I had my third follow-up with the doc about my PRP treatment this morning. By now, most of the healing is done, although I may still see some slight improvement.

At the last appointment, he told me he wanted me to push the hamstring harder. So, I ran a 5K and I've done a number of interval and tempo workouts. I would have run a second 5K, but this stupid cold was in my lungs on race day.

I've been able to set a new PR in the squat and I did a deadlift within 5 pounds of my PR. I set a PR on the bench press as well, but my hamstring didn't have much to do with that.

But, every time I go hard, the hammie does ache a bit for a day or two. I can't push hard on back to back days, and not even with two days between hard workouts. But, perhaps that will come as my fitness improves.

By next weekend, I'll find out how the hamstring handles skiing bumps, which will be another significant test.

Today, for the first time, we talked about the option of doing a second treatment and maybe even a third. At $900 out of pocket per treatment, I'm not sure if I want to go that route or not. I doubt that I could do it before the end of ski season, because it would require me to miss one or two weekends of teaching skiing.

So, I'm better than before the treatment. I'm not 100% though. The improvement so far was probably worth the $900. If the doc could guarantee that I'd be 100% with two more treatments, I'd agree to them. But, there are no guarantees. I have a few months to think about it and see if the hammie continues to improve on its own.

My stupid cold is still lingering a bit. I really want to work out, but I'm not sure if it will be today or not.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Talking about skiing

Sugarbush wasn't able to open yesterday. So, I had a six-hour day indoors with other ski instructors, talking about skiing. To be honest, I don't mind talking about skiing most of the time. During the season, groups of instructors often get together after the day to have a beer or two and talk about the day. But, talking about skiing when you can't ski isn't very exciting. Yesterday was made worse by the fact that the first 2.5 hours were spent talking about safety, risk management and other related topics. I'm sure we spent at least an hour talking about the risks of falling while walking.

On the positive side, Sugarbush did open today. Because there are only two trails open, management requested that employees not ski, leaving the snow for paying customers. As much as I'd like to ski today, I understand that request and I'll wait a bit more.

I start teaching Saturday morning, so I think I'm going to take half the day off work on Friday, just so I can spend some time in my new boots and on my skis, remembering how to make a turn. It's kind of tough for me to teach the first day of our seasonal program if I'm trying to remember how to ski for myself.

My cold seems to be lingering, just as it did for my son, who got sick a few days before I did. I lifted hard last Saturday, had a half-hearted lifting workout on Sunday, and I've been idle since then. Maybe tomorrow will be the day I really get back to working out. I feel like a slug. But, this is the first complete rest week I've had all year, so perhaps it's just something that my body needs.

It feels kind of odd to me, knowing that the lottery for next year's Western States 100 was yesterday, and I just plain don't care. I wasn't in the lottery, I have no idea if or when I'll be training for a 100 miler again, and Western States seems like such a remote possibility right now. Right now, I just want to be healthy, get back to working out, and mostly, I want to ski.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Skiing this weekend?

I finally visited the doctor today to get some medicine for the cough I've had for the past week. I've been coughing so much that my chest muscles are sore. Hopefully, I'll get some better sleep the next few nights.

So, the ski mountain didn't open today.

They couldn't make snow last night, so they've announced they can't open until Sunday at the earliest. They need two nights of snowmaking to be ready.

Sunday? Maybe. At this time last year, we were skiing on high quality natural snow. This year, we simply wait.

I do believe that I'm likely to get back to working out tomorrow. That's a positive.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

Ski season was supposed to start on 11/21. But November was too warm and when we got any precipitation at all, it was rain. It wasn't cold enough to make snow for Thanksgiving weekend. The snow guns finally started up again last Sunday, but right now, it's pouring and the expected high temperature for today is 55F.

Snowmaking probably can't resume until Saturday night.

Will ski season ever start?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Still feeling sick and it's less than two weeks before my company has a major new software release, and I've written most of the code for the release. It's a good time to focus on work while my body gets over this stupid cold. No workout today.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


I'm taking today as another rest day. I'm feeling way less than 100% and I simply need some rest so that I can get healthy again. Despite doing way less mileage than I did last year, I've still been working hard this year without much real rest. Back to work.

Monday, November 30, 2009

That time of year

A couple weeks ago, my daughter got hit by H1N1, but came through it pretty well. The rest of the family dodged that bullet (so far), which is especially good for my son and me, since we both suffer from asthma (mine much milder than his). But, a week ago, my son started to get sick, and it seems to just be a really bad cold. A rapid strep test was negative, but he's had a rough time with coughing and congestion for the past week. I was able to run this past Thursday, but by the end of the day, it was clear that whatever had my son had me as well.

I took a rest day on Friday and I felt better on Saturday. I had planned to race 5K on Saturday, but I knew that my lungs weren't up for it. So, I lifted hard on Saturday (PR'd in the squat by 5 pounds), and then felt terrible again yesterday morning. I tried another lifting session yesterday, but I had nothing to give. I probably should have skipped the gym session yesterday, to be honest.

So, today is a rest day.

As I look at my workout log for the year (and when I look in the mirror), I know that this will go down as one of my poorest running years ever. If I hadn't taken up lifting a few years ago as an alternative workout, this year might have been disastrous for me.

Hopefully, I'll be healthy by this coming weekend, and I hope to be skiing by Saturday. In some ways, being sick now is better than being sick when I'm scheduled to be on snow and teaching. But, it would be nicer to never get sick at all, wouldn't it?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Menu

I'm not a skinny runner. I come by that honestly. I come from a family of people who have struggled with their weight for years. And, I love good food, I love good drinks, and I love to cook.

Tomorrow, I'm cooking for my wife's family, and we'll have about a dozen total people here. I've been cooking our Thanksgiving meal since Saturday, when I started making stock for gravy.

Hopefully, I will get most of the knife work done tonight, and then tomorrow, after the turkey goes into the oven, my wife and I can sneak out for an 8 mile run. Here is tomorrow's menu:

Deviled pickled eggs
Goat cheese and piquillo pepper spread

A selection of stouts, including Dogfish Head World Wide Stout and North Coast’s Rasputin XII
Gruyet Rose sparking wine

Citrus and herb stuffed Turkey
Apple-sage-bacon cornbread stuffing
Gravy and wild mushroom gravy
Mashed potatoes with parsnips and chives
Yams with brown sugar, butter and bourbon
Green beans w/ white truffle oil
Copes dried corn cooked with cream, eggs and cheese
Cole slaw
Cranberry preserves cooked with orange juice, orange peel, sugar and candied ginger

White and red wines – Sancerre and Vieux Telegraphe 1989 from magnum

Pies (made by my sister-in-law, a much better baker than I am)
Whipped cream and ice cream
Vintage Port – exact bottle still to be determined

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Short but intense workout

Ten minute warm-up, (one minute hard, one minute easy) times 10, plus a 10 minute cooldown. Forty minutes shouldn't feel so hard. But, it was a good workout, done by flashlight right at dusk last night.

Well, it did come a day after I did a very hard leg workout in the gym, so my legs had an excuse to be tired. The first eight repeats weren't that bad, but number 9 came on a steep uphill and I had nothing left for #10.

After the workout, my wife and I headed out to get our groceries for Thanksgiving dinner; I always cook Thanksgiving dinner for my wife's family, so it was a big shopping trip. After getting groceries, we stopped for dinner and I could just feel my legs complaining.

Today will either be an upper body lifting day or a rest day, depending on how work goes. I had to completely re-write a really important piece of code in the last 24 hours, so I have a lot of testing to do today. It's going well so far, so maybe I'll make it to the gym tonight.

It's looking like we might get a big snowstorm on Friday night. Normally, I'd be ecstatic, but my wife and son are headed to Boston on Friday to see The Pixies, and I don't want them traveling home in snow while tired. I may have to find them a hotel room near Boston.

My son is a huge, huge fan of the Pixies and he is beyond excited about this show. He's never seen them and wanted to go so badly that he bought his own ticket and his mother's ticket. He is also sick right now, so I'm hoping he feels better by Friday.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Once Upon a Time...

I was once a runner. I've run over 40,000 miles in the past 25 or so years. Lots of marathons, ultras, shorter road races - well in excess of 400 races over 25 years.

Last week, I ran once. I ran 5 miles, and it was a speed session, but it was only 5 miles. For the whole week. This year will be my first year with fewer than 1000 running miles since 1985, I believe.

But, I did three very hard lifting workouts last week. That's where I seem to be having fun and what I want to do these days. I don't want to give up running, and I'd like to continue to run ultras, but maybe after 25 years of focusing on running, I'm just ready for something else.

Friday night, my workout was focused on bench presses. My fourth set was a single rep where I was trying to set a new best (After being a runner and skier for years, my legs are strong, but my bench press sucks, at least relative to the other powerlifts).

I needed to get to 170 pounds for a new bench press PR. My wife was there to cheer me on. I had a spotter. I lifted the weight off the bar really well, pulled it down, started to push up, and suddenly, something tightened up in my lower right side - my back and hamstring. I asked for help and the attempt was over. But, I knew I could have nailed it. So, I waited three minutes and tried again. This time, I did nail it. Maybe that's why I'm enjoying lifting so much right now. I'm setting PRs there while I'm far from being in decent running shape.

Saturday, I had a full day of ski instructor training, although we had no snow. Talking about skiing when you'd rather be skiing isn't the most fun training, but it's good to get back to using the right words and thinking like an instructor after a few months away from the mountain. After training, I never made it out for the run I'd hoped to do. There's some critical mass of ski instructors that leads to people drinking beer after anything skiing-related, and that's what happened. It was fun, but not the choice a real runner might have made.

Yesterday, I lifted again, focusing on deadlifts. Regretfully, despite having a math degree, I made an arithmetic error in my workout and didn't accomplish what I wanted. I was hoping to lift 340 pounds - 5 more than my current best. On my single-rep fourth set, I thought I'd loaded the bar with 325 and the lift went well. So, I added 15 pounds and did one more rep. And later, I realized that 6 x 45 pound wheels plus a 45 pound bar was 315 pounds, not 325. So, my heaviest lift was 330, not 340. But, I'll get to 340 or maybe even 350 next Sunday.

Because the gym is closed a few days this week, I will run more than I have recently. I'm going to do a short speed session after work tonight. Then, I'll lift the next two days. Thursday, my wife and I will run 8-10 together, and then I'll rest on Friday before running a 5K on Saturday. If the current weather forecast is correct, I'll be running the 5K in snow.

I'm trying to think ahead to ultras for next year. I really am. My hamstring seems to be healing well and I think I'll be able to run long next year. But, I'm not going to kill myself doing big miles during ski season. So, by the time ski season is over, I will have had almost a year of reduced running mileage. Can I consider a 100 miler next year, even late in the season? My wife and I have discussed either Leadville or Grand Teton as a race/family vacation. But, I have to decide if I have the health and the desire to make it happen. And right now, I'm just not sure.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Unplanned rest day

My wife and I both had long days at work yesterday. Neither of us was really in the mood to go to the gym. So, my wife suggested going out for dinner instead. My son was tired from staying up too late the night before, so it was just my wife and my daughter and I.

We enjoyed some nice food, a nice bottle of Cakebread's 2007 Sauvignon Blanc, and my wife and daughter even had some dessert. It was an early dinner and I managed to get to bed before 9:00. After sleeping for 10 hours, I feel much better today.

Tonight, my wife and I will go to the gym to lift. The gym should be nearly empty because the college kids are heading home for Thanksgiving week. My focus tonight will be bench presses.

Tomorrow, due to the lack of snow, I'm going to spend most of the day talking about skiing with other instructors. We call it "indoor training", but no one is really thrilled by it, because indoor training means we aren't skiing.

Then, I'll try to sneak in a run before dark, and I'll watch the Penn State-Michigan State game a few hours after it's actually played.

My biggest plan for Sunday is lots and lots of guitar practice.

Oh yeah, I have to start cooking Thanksgiving dinner this weekend as well. It's a multi-day process when I cook a holiday meal for a crowd.

Not really exciting, but work is so intense right now that I'm really enjoying somewhat quiet weekends. In three weeks, I'll be teaching skiing every weekend through the end of March, so I should really appreciate these quieter weekends while I can.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Speed (ahem!) work

One easy, one hard, one easy, one hard, one easy. It sounded so simple. I was tired from my Tuesday weight workout, but not too bad. My first mile was a net uphill and it took me 10:35. No big deal. Then, my hard mile took 8:05! It was hard. It wasn't fast. My third mile was slower than my first. My fourth mile was slower than my second. And, then my cooldown mile went OK - 5 miles in 47:30, and I was whipped.

I've got a long way to go to get any speed back. But, the hamstring is letting me push again. If I didn't have ski training this coming weekend, I'd run a 5K that my wife and kids are running.

Upper body lifting tonight.

Work now.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Rest days

I should take four days of rest more often. I felt really strong in the gym last night and my first workout in the new program went really well. The focus of each workout for the next six weeks is one of the three powerlifts. For example, last night, I started with squats, and I was scheduled to do 6 sets, with the following rep pattern:


The goal is for the first six to be at a moderately heavy weight. Then, after a 3 minute break, one rep close to your max. Then, for the third set, you drop down, but not the whole way to your first set weight. Then, the fourth set is the "big" lift of the workout. After that, the weight drops and you increase the reps for the last two sets.

Last night, my second single rep went easier than I expected, so I added 20 pounds and did an extra single rep. My max rep last night was 245 and my best ever is 265. Considering that I hadn't gone above 210 since last winter, I was very happy with the 245 and it didn't feel like I was at my limit. So, next week, I'll probably try 265, which would tie my best. Then, two weeks from now, I can try to break my PR.

Tonight is a five mile run - one easy, one hard, one easy, one hard, one easy.

Oh yeah, as I walked into the gym last night, I noticed that my hamstring felt really good. Perhaps it was the rest days or perhaps the PRP is continuing to do some magic. I didn't notice the hamstring at all during squats or my other lifts and it feels fine today.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Lazy days

I was out of town over the weekend. I lifted Thursday night, and then had some stuff to do at the ski mountain before I left for a long drive on Friday. The weekend was busy and workouts just never happened. I got home late Sunday night and pretty much went straight to bed. Then last night, I had another meeting at Sugarbush. I know that ski season is getting close when I find my self at Sugarbush 2 or more times were week, even without my ski gear. I got home late last night, drank a beer, and fell asleep.

This was my first four day break from exercise since the four days right after I injured my hamstring in April.

I was intelligent enough to turn down a request to play some 3-on-3 football this weekend. I think I've learned that lesson pretty well.

Since the beginning of June, I've been following a fixed workout schedule that I purchased from a company called Precision Nutrition. If I'd stuck with eating well the whole way through the program, I think I'd have some good results to show. I'm strong right now, but I am no lighter than I was at the beginning of June. That probably has something to do with not drinking for four months, and then returning to drinking some beer once football season started.

Starting today, I go back to being self-coached, and I'm going to start a weightlifting routine called Strength 1 from a book called The New Rules of Lifting. I saw my brother over the weekend. He is 3 years younger than I am. His squat is marginally better than mine, my deadlift is marginally better than his, but his bench press just kills my best. I can look at him and see how much his strength has improved. I don't understand the difference between our progress. He and I lift about the same number of days per week, we both lift hard, and then I run on days that he takes off. Maybe running is the problem (if so, it's going to stay that way).

But, over the next few months, I'd like to make some good progress in the powerlifts, work on my speed on the treadmill, and start enjoying ski season. For now, we can still run outside due to the lack of snow, but daylight is certainly at a premium, so I'm starting to use the treadmill more and more.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Treadmill intervals again

There's just not enough daylight these days, so the treadmill is becoming my friend again. Last night, I did a small pyramid on the treadmill - repeats of 400, 800, 1200, 800, and 400, with an easy 400 between each. I changed the pace a bit for each distance, running between 7:15 and 8:00 pace for each repeat.

If I'm not going to run often, I'm going to run hard when I do run. Last night, the hamstring bothered me more than it did last Saturday.

Tonight is upper body lifting, and then tomorrow, I'll do lower body lifting before I head out of town for the weekend.

Right now, it's back to software testing.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


After the weekend, I was beat, but I knew that today (Tuesday) was going to be a rest day, so I needed a good workout yesterday. But, my legs were tired a bit from the race and my arms were tired from stacking firewood. So, I just made up my own workout - something with a minimal number of repeats that would focus on strength:

Bench Presses

5x5 of each with 3:00 rest between each set.

This was a good workout for me, and as I loosened up, I was able to add weight to each lift as I progressed through the sets. I ended up at 210 for squats, 135 for bench presses, and 245 for deads. Those numbers are pretty pathetic, but they will change over the next few months.

A week ago, I did a single dead rep at 305. A few weeks ago, I hit 165 on the bench and then failed at 170. I've been doing high rep squats, but no heavy squats for a while.

My current single-rep bests are 265 for the squat, 165 for the bench press and 325 for the deadlift. By the end of the calendar year, I'm confident that I'll exceed all of those numbers. The squat will be the toughest to beat, most likely.

My current program ends this weekend, and after this weekend, I move into a couple months of pure strength work - work designed to push up my PRs in all three of the powerlifts.

Lately, I've been "playing around" with creatine monohydrate, and I see some good and bad effects from it. First of all, it's tough on my stomach and I have to make sure I take it right before I eat dinner. And, it has caused me to have some muscle cramping, mostly when I stretch out in bed at night.

At the same time, I've found that it seems to help me with heavier lifts or high reps in the gym. I didn't do any loading protocol (20g/day is recommended) so that I could avoid the water bloat that often goes with that. I've simply been taking 5g per day to see what would happen. I think I'm going to stick with this through at least my next four weeks of lifting and see what happens with my powerlifts. It's a cheap supplement and by most indications, very safe, and effective for most people, so I'm going to keep taking it for a few more weeks. If it negatively affects my skiing or running, I'll stop, but for right now, while trying to get stronger, I'm going to give it a chance.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Tough weekend

Friday night, I did an upper body lifting workout, figuring it wouldn't affect my race on Saturday morning. I got to bed early and got up early Saturday for the race. I really had no idea what to expect in the race. I'd done some recent quarters at 7:30 pace, but no more than 8 per workout, and no long runs. I thought I could go under 25:00, but I wasn't positive, and I wasn't sure whether I could simply sneak under that time or perhaps run in the 23s.

I had felt a little bit sick on Friday, but by Saturday morning, I was feeling fine, except for the anxiety of racing a 5K. The race was small and started with two laps on a dirt track. As we left the track, I was in 11th place overall, and even though this was a small race, there were many more runners behind me than in front of me. Regretfully, I would not pass one runner the rest of the race, but others would pass me.

According to my Forerunner, my first 3 miles were 7:34 (OK), 8:01 (not so good), and 8:14 (clearly a lack of fitness), and then just over a minute to the finish. My Forerunner measured the course at 3.14 miles, which explains the slow time after the 3rd mile split. I did notice on the course that I hit the 1 mile marker at 1.03 on the Forerunner and the 2 mile marker at 2.03. So, I may have meandered a bit in the first mile or perhaps the Forerunner was wrong, or perhaps the course was a bit long.

I ended up at 24:52, basically right at an 8:00 pace for the race. And, it was really hard. My stride wasn't perfect, but it was better than it's been recently. One good sign, as far as I'm concerned, is that the hamstring tendon attachment point was just fine. The belly of the hamstring muscle was sore after the race, but not the injury point.

The results aren't posted yet, but I know the overall winner was in my age group.

I headed home after getting some breakfast, ready to watch the Penn State vs. Ohio State game. Ohio State simply killed Penn State, making the race only the second most painful part of my day.

On Sunday, given the beautiful weather, we moved firewood into the garage for the winter - more than 3 cords of wood. We have a little bit more to move, but after almost 3 hours, we'd had enough and called it a day.

After moving the wood, I practiced my guitar for a while, but it was really difficult. My hands and forearms were so beat from the wood stacking that I was really struggling with the song I'm learning right now - the Grateful Dead's Round and Round, which uses all barre chords, which require precision and some strength. I'll work on it again tonight.

Tonight is a full-body lifting workout, although given our weather forecast, I wonder if I should just run instead. Today might be the last day of the year where I could run in shorts.

Friday, November 6, 2009

How can a leg workout trash me for an arm night?

Wednesday night was lower body stuff and I lifted hard. Last night was upper body, and my legs were looking forward to the break. Yet, on the second lift, I found myself struggling. I think the heavy deadlifts on Wednesday trashed my arms a bit for last night. So, I backed off the weight on one lift, and got through the rest of the workout OK.

Today, I'll do an easy run after work just to work out any soreness from Wednesday's workout.

Tomorrow morning, I'll "try" to race a 5K. I'm afraid it will be my slowest 5K in years, but I have to start from where I am. I'm anxious to see how my hamstring will tolerate the race, although it will probably be no different than my Tuesday interval workout, since I probably can't maintain the interval pace for 5K.

Then, I'll recover from the race by watching the Penn State-Ohio State football game on Saturday afternoon.

Sunday afternoon, we have a lot of firewood to stack, so that will be my workout that day.

I wish I was racing the Stonecat marathon in MA tomorrow, but we were too slow mailing our apps. So, I'll stay at home, save some money (tomorrow's race fee is $5), and get some work done. Plus, I need some guitar practice sometime this weekend. I've been so busy with work that I've been slacking on the guitar.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Lifting night

Squats - lots of them

6 x (3 front squats, 15 back squats, all at 145) = 108 squats
28 Bulgarian split squats per leg
28 Romanian deadlifts at 185


The last dead was my best since a 325 last winter. I'm beat today after intervals two nights ago and legs last night. Tonight is an arm night in the gym.

Saturday is a race day, something I've done very little this year.

Any predictions on how fast I can run a fairly flat 5K? I'm guessing 23:30, but sub-23 isn't impossible. I guess that 25+ is also possible.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Treadmill intervals

The doctor wants me to stress the hamstring by running faster. So last night, I hopped on the treadmill for 8 quarter mile repeats. Last week was the first time I'd tried anything remotely resembling speedwork since April, so I took it really easy - six quarters at 8:00 mpm pace. Those repeats felt pretty easy, so I sped up to 7:30 pace this week for 8 repeats. On the last one, I sped up to a 7:00 pace.

Overall, the hamstring felt pretty good. My stride still isn't quite right, but my left leg is extending better week by week. I think that is part of why the doc wants me to push the pace. As I run faster, my stride at slower speeds seems to be getting better and better.

But, racing a 5K on Saturday is just plain going to hurt, because I'll do it all out, with no real running base or speed right now.

Tonight is my "100 squats" workout, so my legs will really be beat tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

PRP update

I saw the doctor yesterday, just short of 8 weeks after the PRP.

He's very happy with my progress and has suggested two things. First, he thinks I should return to my chiropractor, which was off-limits for a while. He was afraid a quick adjustment might cause a problem in the injured area, but now thinks it would be beneficial so that my running stride is as even as possible.

And secondly, he wants me to run a race - any race at all, and push hard. Given that I haven't raced for a while, I think I'm just going to try a local 5K this coming weekend. Tonight, I'm going to do 8 quarters on the treadmill, and I hope to average 7:30 pace for the quarters. If I do that, it would be my fastest running since the injury.

I had some decent running and lifting workouts over the weekend, and we wrapped up the weekend with a nice dinner to celebrate my father-in-law's 81st birthday. We drank some very nice wines, including 1993 Bryant Family, a California "cult" wine that is worth a fortune right now, especially considering what I paid for it. Surprisingly, the wine was still very youthful and I think I'll save the other bottle we have for at least 5 years. Or maybe I should just sell the bottle, considering what it's worth. We also had a fantastic Vincent Girardin red Burgundy from 2005 - Pommard 1er Cru Les Grands Epenots Vieilles Vignes. I served that wine with cream of chanterelle soup, and included a little bit of bacon in the soup and topped it with puff pastry. It was a great match.

For dessert, we had apple crisp and I opened my last bottle of 77 Port - Warre's. Like many of the 77's, it was nowhere close to starting its downhill slide, but it was still amazingly good right now.

Thinking about that dinner, I probably didn't work out enough this weekend.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Tough but fun

The workout that I was supposed to do on Wednesday was a very tough lifting workout. Instead, in the interest of time, I did a short interval workout on the treadmill. I moved the lifting workout to last night. This was an incredibly tough workout, yet I loved every minute of it.

I think it's clear that being a runner and skier, I'm always going to do better on squats and deads than the bench press. A friend of mine recently set a new Vermont age group record in the bench press with 336 pounds and he's in an older age group than me. That lift was about twice my best ever. Yet, he can't touch me in the squat rack or in deadlifts.

Anyway, last night started out with a front squat/back squat superset. I was supposed to do 5 supersets, with four front squats followed by as many reps as possible of back squats, using the same weight that I'd used for the front squats. The week before, I'd used 135 pounds. This week, I moved to 145, which is the most I've ever done for a front squat. It's taken me a long time to find a grip that I can really work with on the front squat and progress has come slowly. But, the front squat really hits the quads hard and I can really see its value in conjunction with back squats, which hit the posterior chain more.

Just like last week, I did a total of 100 squats during this superset - 20 front and 80 back squats. I found that the first set of back squats was tough and then things got better in subsequent sets. My lowest rep total came in the first set.

After this superset, I did a superset of Bulgarian split squats and Romanian deadlifts - 5 sets of 6 reps each. Well, the Bulgarians were six per leg, not just six total. This went well, although the 185 pounds for the Romanians were getting very tough by the end. The fatigue just accumulates on these leg dominant lifts, and I'd done some running interval work the day before.

Last came deadlifts. I love deadlifts. I can lift more weight on this lift than any other lift, and I think I have the potential to break the Vermont age 50 record in the deadlift when I turn 50 in 2.5 years. Because I like it so much, I try not to focus on this lift excessively, preferring to focus on lifts I don't like as much - lifts where I clearly need to improve. But, even tired at the end of the workout, I really love doing deads.

I had just finished doing Romanian deads at 185 pounds, so I started from there:

5 x 185
5 x 205
5 x 225
2 x 245
1 x 265
1 x 275
1 x 285

The week before, I think I'd done a 295, but I was shot by the 285 last night, so I called it a day. I don't want to risk injury by trying too high a weight when I'm tired. I do deads without a belt, so I have to rely more on my core for back support, and no injury is worth the 10 extra pounds.

Tonight, I'll run easily for an hour after work, although after last night's workout, it probably won't feel easy. Perhaps I should say that I'll run slowly for an hour this evening.

Tomorrow, I'll do an upper body lifting workout to give my legs a rest and then I'll relax for the rest of day. I'll watch college football, chaperon my daughter and some friends for some Halloween festivities, and then maybe watch the world series game.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Better Decisions

Yesterday, I was scheduled for a guitar lesson from 5-6. And, I had to drop my son off at his keyboard lesson at 4:30.

So, I got to work by 7:00 and worked straight through until just after 4:00. I dropped off my son, went to my lesson, and then headed straight to the gym. I did four miles on the treadmill, including six slow quarter mile intervals. The hamstring is a bit sore today, but not too bad. I may try the same workout, only a bit faster, while it's pouring on Saturday.

So, I could have claimed a busy day and skipped my workout. Instead. I got home in time to cook dinner and eat with the family. After dinner, I read a little bit rather than watching the World Series, so I knew I'd get to sleep at a reasonable time. This morning, I was up early and into the office early.

That means that later today, I'll have time to stop at the gym for an hour or so on the way home for a lifting workout.

I have to get back to managing my time better so I don't create excuses to skip workouts.

Oh yeah, the intervals, as slow as they were, were the fastest running I've done since I hurt my hamstring.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Work has been kind of crazy recently. We are working on a second generation of our mail product and that version needs to be handling real patient data by mid-December. In the last 10 weeks, I've written over 10,000 lines of source code in Java and SQL. I've tested less than 10% of it so far. I have a lot of work left to do, and we got into a detailed technical discussion late yesterday afternoon at work. Suddenly, it was late. When I got out of the office and did the 10 minute walk to my car, I noticed that it was really windy and felt really cold. In some ways, the very best thing I could have done was changed clothes at my car and gone running. And, to be perfectly honest, it was the last thing in the world I wanted to do.

So, I hopped in my car, made one quick stop to pick up my skis from a local shop that had just tuned them, and then headed towards home. I decided that I'd lift instead of running. But, even as I got to the gym, I still felt stressed from the day at work. I changed clothes, did my warm-up, and then did my first set of front squats and back squats.

And then I decided to stop my workout. I just wasn't mentally there and I decided I'd rather go home and have dinner with my family rather than missing that time with them. I got home just as they sat down to dinner. Recently, on the days that I work at my company's office, rather than working at home, I've been getting home really late at times. I often miss dinner with the kids and my wife. There are even some days where I don't see my daughter at all, because I leave for work before she gets up and I get home after she goes to bed.

Today, I have a guitar lesson after work. And, I really need to get in a workout today after missing 3 of the last 5 days. I think I'm going to do a 30 minute speedwork session on the treadmill after the guitar lesson. That way, I'll still get home in time to make dinner and spend some time with my family.

Work and workouts and family life are in conflict right now. Workouts are very, very important to me, but sometimes, there just isn't enough time in the day. There was a time when I would have forced the workouts into the day, but that hasn't been my mindset recently.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Weights again and running tonight

Last night was a full-body workout in the gym. Until last week, I was doing two upper body and two lower body workouts per week in the gym. Starting last week, it switched to two full-body workouts, and one each of upper and lower. The full-body workouts are designed to be "metabolic" rather than pure strength work. That is, they get you breathing hard, sweating a lot, and you find yourself thinking "Am I done yet?"

My wife was laughing at my frenetic workout last night. I kept doing 3 lifts, back to back to back, and then getting a long-ish break before the next set. In each of the supersets, I had a bizarre combo of burpees and chin-ups or pull-ups. That is, I'd do a burpee, then a chin-up, then a burpee, then a chin-up, etc. I was supposed to do as many reps as possible of this weird combo as a single set.

By the time I was in my very last set of burpees and pull-ups, I thought I was going to die.

Today, I'm planning an 8-miler after work. The days have gotten short enough that I'll be carrying a flashlight for this run. But, there's still not snow or ice on the ground, so running in the dark is a minor inconvenience.

Tomorrow morning, I have my killer squat workout for the week.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Wet, wet weekend

Friday night, it was raining. Not a lot, but it did rain. And, I was really, really sore. So, I skipped running and my wife and son and I went for groceries and went out for dinner. On the way home, my son wanted to drive, but my wife vetoed his request. It was raining, it was dark, and we were driving on the interstate. Those were all new conditions for my son, and my wife didn't think it made sense for him to drive in those conditions.

Saturday morning, I got up early and did a lifting workout as soon as the gym opened. The weather was amazing; it was just pouring all day. After my workout and a shower, I took my son out driving. We got him some experience in the rain and on the interstate. He was kind of funny because he expected the higher speeds on the interstate to be really exciting, but instead, he found the wide lanes and the fairly straight road somewhat boring.

After our drive, we watched college football for the rest of the day, and we played some chess and cribbage. In the first chess game, my son made one small mistake and I played as flawlessly as I have recently. I beat him easily. In the second game, I was down a few points early, but then took a knight to take the points lead. But, I'd done a castle that had my king in a vulnerable position, and my son noticed it before I did. In two lightning moves, the game was over and my son was beaming.

Sunday, we did some more driving, this time giving my son some experience with studded snow tires. We started out on dirt roads, so he could get a feel for the tires, and then took them onto pavement. Overall, we spent a good 90 minutes driving. He's really improving and he's finally getting comfortable with manual transmissions. He certainly finds the automatic that he drives in Drivers' Ed at school to be easier, but he is starting to understand the fun side of a sporty car with a manual transmission.

My wife ended up running a few miles yesterday, but I took a scheduled rest day, even though I'd already taken an unscheduled rest day on Friday. Tonight, I'll lift after work and tomorrow, I'll run.

I really need to start increasing my running miles rather than goofing off so much.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Sore all over

As expected, my leg workout on Wednesday left me really sore. I didn't expect last night's upper body workout to leave me so beat up as well. I'm supposed to run after work today, but it's going to be tough.

Last night's workout was six different sets of upper body lifts and I worked hard on every single one of them. I'm just plain beat today. I'm sore from 100 squats and heavy deadlifts two days ago and tired from yesterday. Either I'm getting old really fast or I'm simply working very hard. I'm hoping it's the latter.

This weekend is about getting the house ready for winter. I need to take down the rain gutters. I need to start moving firewood into the garage. And, I should probably mow the lawn one more time, but I keep hoping that it will get covered with snow soon and be invisible until April.

Tomorrow afternoon, I will have to take a break from any outside work to watch Penn State vs. Michigan. And then at night, Iowa travels to Michigan State, who has been playing very well recently. Given my bad predictions for the teams that would go to the World Series, I will not predict anything for these games.

But, right now, I have to write a white paper about the next generation of my company's main product and why it changes our data requirements from clinical laboratories, and still meets patient privacy laws. Sounds like fun, huh?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Tough lifting workout

I didn't have the details of my workout quite right yesterday, but it was brutal.

Here's the run down

(5 front squats, 20 back squats) at 135 pounds, repeat four times. That's 100 total squats.

(5 Bulgarian split squats, 5 Romanian deadlifts) at 2x30# and 185#, repeat six times.


Fail at 305

Crawl to the car.

Tonight is an upper body lifting night.

Work is busy today.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Nice run

After work last night, I headed out for an easy six miler. The first mile is downhill, which is where my hamstring normally bothers me the most. Last night, I didn't even think about my hamstring. I was slow, but I felt strong and relaxed for the entire run.

The only time I even thought about my stride was on a slight downhill after about five miles, where I noticed that my left knee was complaining a little bit.

But, other than that, it was a very encouraging run - easily the best run I've had in six months.

I'm glad that last night went so well, because tonight's workout is legs in the gym and it's going to be a brutally tough workout. I can guarantee that I'll be sore for the next couple of days. The workout starts with a superset of front and rear squats. I will start with 10 reps of front squats. Then, whatever weight I can handle for the 10 front squats, I'm supposed to use that same weight and do back squats to failure. Rest 3 minutes. Repeat the front squat/back squat superset three more times.

And then, I have Bulgarian split squats and lateral squats to finish the workout. I'm sore just thinking about it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Thanks David

"Do what you love, love what you do."

That was David's simple advice in response to my whiny post yesterday. And, he called it a "trite" statement, but there's a lot of truth in there.

Right now, I have to keep doing something, so I may as well make it fun. It's possible to work very hard and still have fun. Fifteen minutes of very hard work can have a lot of value. I'm certainly not slacking in the gym these days. I will admit that my runs have been absent or too easy for a while, but the hamstring remains a factor there.

So, I'm going to have fun. In just over a month, that will mean skiing. Tonight, after work, it will mean a run along the shores of Lake Champlain. Tomorrow, it will be a really tough leg day in the gym.

Something almost every day, something that I enjoy, and try to make it hard at least some of the time.

That should be good enough.

And hopefully, while I have fun and remain fit, my hamstring will improve.

Next, I have to get my diet back to where it belongs rather than where it's gone recently. The food in central PA is evil and two recent trips to the area seem to have really derailed my eating.

Monday, October 19, 2009


I tend to draw my motivation to train from specific events. I often joke that I'm a very lazy person who could easily drift away from athletics completely, if I'm not careful.

Right now, I have no events on the horizon. I'm not sure if or when my hamstring will let me return to running at a decent level. I'm enjoying my training in the gym, but I don't compete in lifting. With the recent cold weather and snow, road cycling seems to be about done.

Even my wife, who ran her half marathon recently, seems to be unfocused and unmotivated.

Last week, I lifted twice. I ran zero times. I went out of town for the weekend and I took my running clothes, but running just didn't happen.

I feel like a boat lost at sea, just drifting aimlessly.

As my motivation for training has waned, my motivation to eat well has waned as well.

The food I ate this past weekend is not what I would have eaten two months ago if I'd made the same trip.

I feel fat, unmotivated, injured, and lazy. And that scares me.

I'm in decent shape and I need to get myself re-focused before I'm more fat and less fit. I need to be ready to ski in just a few weeks.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sore today

After missing my workout on Monday night, I decided I'd do that workout on Tuesday and half of Tuesday's scheduled workout.

So, I started with almost an hour of leg work in the gym, and then added some barbell rows and bench presses. On the bench press, I started with 5 reps at low weight, and just kept adding weight and decreasing reps until I failed. I failed at 170 pounds last night. If I'm going to get to 225 this winter, I still have a lot of work to do. It was encouraging to get almost to my best ever bench press last night, but also discouraging that it's so pathetic.

And, my arms are sore today. I've got a guitar lesson tonight, and my arms felt tired while I was practicing last night.

After my lesson, I'm planning some interval work, either on the treadmill or on the stair climber, whichever I choose at the time. Tomorrow, I'll do the second half of Tuesday's workout and all of Thursday's workout. That should leave me hurting again.

After Saturday, this workout cycle is over and I'll get the next four week schedule on Monday morning. Without a doubt, my running has suffered since I started my current exercise cycle in June, but I've gotten a lot stronger in the gym.

So, am I a lifter or a runner? Regretfully, I'm afraid I'm in some nether-land where the answer is neither right now. But soon, I'll be a skier again and that's good enough for me.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Not a whole lot to say today, but snow made the morning exciting

This is my car after I drove it a few miles to a coffee shop to work. Normally, on Tuesdays, I drive just over 60 miles to my office, but the roads were slick and I have soft-rubber, summer-only tires on my car until next week. Working in town was much safer.

Yesterday was a complete washout from a workout perspective. I stayed up too late both days on the weekend and by the time I was done working last night, I was ready for bed. I made a quick dinner and crawled into bed by about 8:00 or so. After 10+ hours of sleep, I'm much better today, and I'm planning to do lower body lifting tonight.

If I can wake up early enough tomorrow, I'll do upper body lifting in the morning and then running at night, after my guitar lesson.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A man's got to know his limitations

No, I didn't spend the weekend watching Dirty Harry movies. But, Harry Callahan did utter those words about limitations in Magnum Force, one of the Dirty Harry movies.

On Wednesday night, I ran hard just like the doc suggested. On Thursday, I did a hard leg day in the gym. And on Friday, I did an upper body lifting workout. I was glad it was an upper body day because my legs were just beat from Wednesday and Thursday.

Regretfully, that tiredness lasted into Saturday and I only ran for an hour instead of the longer run I'd planned. My left hamstring and knee were both complaining even for that shorter run. So, an easy day was a good idea.

We had a busy weekend planned anyway, so a short run worked out well. My wife was the coordinator for a 300 person awards banquet for the hospital where she works (and I used to work). She was busy with that for most of the day, so I spent the day with the kids, and then got them a pizza before I headed to the party. My wife did a great job and the party turned out very well.

After the party, we went to the house of some friends and hung out there until almost 3:00 a.m. We were exhausted yesterday, and we had plans again. We needed to get our kids their ski equipment for the coming season. My son needs to have his equipment by Saturday so that it can be safety checked at the mountain this coming weekend.

So, we headed off to the ski shop in the early afternoon and got the kids their gear. I also took my ski boot footbeds (sort of like an orthotic device for ski boots, but with a slightly different function) and ski socks with me. I wanted to try on some ski boots that I'd been thinking about buying and I wanted to try them on exactly the way I'd ski in them. My second fitting confirmed that the boot is a great fit for me, so I decided I wanted to buy them. But, someone at this shop had told me recently that they don't do "pro form" pricing, which is how instructors and patrollers usually buy equipment at discount prices. So, I asked the woman doing the fitting if they had any wiggle room on the price, given that I'm an instructor. I told her that I like their ski shop and I'd rather buy from them, but not at a price way above the pro form price. She told me that they would just do a pro form for me. Apparently, the previous guy I talked to didn't know the shop did pro form deals. So, I'll get my new boots in a couple weeks - hopefully before it's time to start skiing. And, I'll get them at a good price.

We are going to have some accumulating snow tonight, so ski season must be getting close. The mountain is hoping to open on November 21st, but other mountains may open before then. I've skied in Vermont in the first week of November and I think my wife and son skied in October a few years ago.

Hopefully my hamstring will continue to improve. Skiing moguls would be tough right now.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Another lifting PR

OK, so it's easy to get a PR in the gym, mostly because there are so many different lifts you can do. But, last night's PR for a lift called the rack pull was very encouraging.

I haven't liked my recent scheduled Thursday workout, to be honest, because it seemed too easy. Last night, I decided to change it a bit, making it harder and thinking ahead to two of my goals for the winter.

My current best for the squat is 265 pounds and my best deadlift is 325 pounds. My goals for this winter are 315 for the squat and 405 for the deadlift. Those might sound like arbitrary numbers, but they are based on standard barbell and weight plate numbers. An Olympic barbell weighs 45 pounds. The plates that you add to the bar to add weight start at 2.5 pounds, and then go through 5, 10, 25, 35 and 45. There are 100 pound plates used by super strongmen and for things like leg presses where even mortals can push a lot of weight around. My gym has only one set of 100 pounders and they rarely get used.

So, the 315 pound goal for the squat is the bar plus three 45 pounders on each side. The 405 pound goal is the bar plus 4 of the 45 pounders on each side.

I started last night with alternating forward and reverse lunges, using a pair of 45 pound dumbbells. I did 6 sets of 3 reps each with long rest. Next, I did pistols - 4 x 10 on each side. I'm getting better at these week by week right now. They are basically single leg squats and I'm doing just my bodyweight with them so far. Balance alone is an issue for this lift.

After those two lifts, I decided to deviate from the planned workout. Next, I moved to the power rack for some squats. My current schedule has me doing front squats but no back squats. I started at 135 pounds and 5 reps. Then, 155 pounds and 5 reps. Then, 185 x 5, 205 x 3, and 225 x 2. I hadn't been above 200 for squats recently and the last two sets were tough. I've got a long way to go to get to 315.

Next, I did some rack pulls, which are partial deadlifts. Rack pulls are basically the upper half of a deadlift, so the toughest part of the deadlift - getting the bar off the floor - is skipped. I started at 245 and moved up to 335, which I'd done last week. This week 335 seemed easier than a week ago, so I tried 355 and nailed two reps. That's the most weight I've ever lifted for any distance and it felt pretty good. Rack pulls work on grip strength and lat strength and are helpful when getting ready for heavier deadlifts. Through the winter, I'll use them frequently to help get ready for that 405 pound deadlift.

Today, I'll do some upper body lifting and then I'm planning an easy 10 miler tomorrow.

I'll be thinking good thoughts for my friends Dr. Andy and Laurel Valley at their 100 miler this weekend.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Hill Repeats

It seems odd to have have speed-work prescribed for recovery from a torn hamstring tendon, but I'm just the patient. And, I've been patient for almost six months. I'm tired of running slowly all the time, and not running that often.

So, yesterday, after a 2.5 mile warm-up, I did six uphill quarters on a dirt road. Other than the fact that I'm in terrible shape for trying to run fast, it was a good workout. My hamstring didn't complain, my stride seemed better than it has been, and it was a tough workout.

Tonight, I'll do lower body lifting. My next run will probably be a 10 miler on Saturday, in cold weather.

Snowflakes are expected at lower elevations next week.

My snow tires aren't scheduled for installation until the 22nd, I believe.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Work has been crazy busy this week. I've been writing lots of new software and I'm in the process of assembling components, finding places where I missed building something I need, and getting the new version of our system integrated. I managed to sneak in a weight workout each of the past two days, even though I feel like I'm coming down with a cold.

I'm going to try a short run after work tonight, with perhaps a few uphill repeats based on the advice I got from the sports doc on Monday. And then, I think I'm going to try to get to bed early tonight, even though the baseball playoffs start today.

Last night's game between Minnesota and Detroit was really amazing and it was too bad one of their seasons had to end. But, all but one of the remaining 8 will have the same fate in the next few weeks.

I'm predicting LA and Boston in the series. Boston's pitching staff is ideally set up for the shorter series. The same could be said of the Phillies in the NL, but there's the Joe Torre factor and the specter of Manny in LA. I think many Red Sox fans would love to face Manny in the World Series.

Monday, October 5, 2009

PRP Update

I saw the doc who did the PRP this morning. One of my first questions to him was about the healing timeline. I have to assume that by now, the platelets have dispersed and are no long actively involved in any healing at the injury site. So, I asked him how long I should expect to see improvement. In particular, is where I am now the full repair or will it get better?

He told me that the typical timeline they've seen is that the first two weeks get you back to your pre-treatment state. The next two weeks usually bring a very slight improvement. From weeks 4-12 is when the athlete starts to notice the real improvements. And, he said that some people continue to improve out to 6 months or so.

So, despite the fact that I've seen some real improvements already, I'm just entering the period where I should see the real improvement.

He told me today that my case is very interesting to him right now because he has two college varsity athletes with the same injury and both are considering PRP. I asked him if I was the first person he'd treated with this exact injury. He said I was the third, but then said I was the first "real athlete" of the three. Clearly, he was delusional, because he called me a "real athlete". So, he is watching my progress carefully as he tries to figure out the best way to treat the college athletes.

I'm supposed to start pushing things a bit now. Not too fast, not too hard, but harder. He'd like me to move my running to the trails and away from the roads for a while, or at least away from pavement. He'd like me to start some moderate speedwork, starting with uphill repeats, then level repeats, and finally downhill repeats, all on soft surfaces.

And, I can go back to using my foam roller to massage the injury area and the rest of my legs.

I left the visit feeling a lot better than when I arrived. While I'm happy with the progress so far, I was starting to wonder if I'd already seen all the improvement I was going to see. Instead, it sounds like there's potential for some significant improvements over the next two months, which would be perfect for ski season and beyond.

Stark Mountain Hill Climb

The weather turned out better for the Stark Mountain Hill Climb than had been forecast. Temps were in the mid-40s, winds were light, and there was a bit of drizzle. The mountain was soaked from rains overnight, but otherwise, conditions were mostly pleasant.

I had talked by e-mail on Friday with a friend who has a much better PR in this race than I do. He suggested an alternate course up the mountain. There is no defined course; you simply start at the bottom of a ski lift and finish near the top of the lift.

My friend suggested a route that included more service roads and less open ski trails. Every ski area has service roads that are used during the off-season to get equipment up the mountain to do work on lifts, buildings, etc. So, I started out to the left of the ski lift this time, instead of going right like I normally do. I left a service road briefly and then hit it again. I noticed that while I was off the road, the short cut had put me in front of a local ultra-running buddy. Despite the success of that shortcut, I decided to stay on the service roads. I put my head down and focused on my effort and my altimeter. I wanted to be climbing as close to 50 vertical feet per minute as possible. That number is my "red-line" when I'm in good shape.

While I had my head down and I focused on moving, I managed to miss a turn my buddy had suggested. I suddenly noticed that I'd crossed under the chairlift and I was at the base of a gladed ski trail that I have used in the race in the past. But, I decided to skip that trail and stay on the road. However, a few minutes later, I realized that the service road was going way, way to the right. So, I opted to head up the left edge of a ski trail named Canyon. This was a tough stretch, but I eventually hit the service road again and headed left and up.

The ski-lift has a mid-station, where skiers who don't want to ski the entire 2000 vertical feet can exit and ski the lower (easier) part of the mountain. I noticed that the mid-station was actually about 1200 feet up the hill - more than half-way.

At this point, I allowed myself to start thinking about my finishing time. My minimal goal was sub-50. My primary goal was sub-48, and my "I had a really great day" goal was sub-45. At the mid-station, it looked like sub-50 was a done deal, and I'd probably get sub-48. But, could I get the whole way to sub 45? That would take a lot of effort on the last 800 vertical feet.

Luckily, I was now back on the route my friend had suggested, and that route was a service road. I stayed on that road until I had about 250 vertical feet remaining, and at that point, the recommendation had been to go straight up the steep Catamount Bowl. Catamount Bowl is one of my least favorite trails at the mountain when I'm skiing, and it was even less fun when I found myself hiking up steep, lichen-covered rocks. Twice, I had to stop briefly just to catch my breath.

By now, faster runners were coming past me on their way back down the mountain. That was a bit demoralizing, but I knew I couldn't compete with some of those skinny mountain goat types. As I finally reached the top of the bowl, I saw that I still had a chance to break 45 minutes. I pushed hard for the last little stretch and hit my stopwatch at 44:21.

I can't find my results from my prior attempts at this race, but I think I was in the 48 range both other times. So, I think this was a race PR. Because the weather wasn't too bad, I decided I'd hike and run down. I started hiking with a group of runners but they eventually pulled ahead. A bit later, my ultra buddy caught me and we jogged down and talked about skiing the whole way.

The route that I had chosen to the top was 1.75 miles according to my Forerunner and the vertical ascent is just over 2000 feet. So, my climbing pace had been about 2800 vertical feet per hour, which is very good for me. On the descent, we took a slightly longer route, so I did a total of four miles for the day in about 80 minutes.

Yesterday, my wife ran the Leaf Peeper's Half Marathon, so my kids and I turned into her support crew for the day. I was very happy yesterday that my hamstring wasn't complaining about anything and I wasn't sore. I was tired, but not sore.

My wife struggled a bit in her race - not enough total training miles, and ran 2:15, about 10 minutes slower than I'd thought she would run.

I'm off to the doc in a few minutes to talk about how my hamstring is doing. I'm wondering if I should mention to him that I did a race on Saturday.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Lifting - Rack Pulls PR

Last night was a leg night at the gym. I got there late and the place was still crowded. Normally, the crowd is biggest on Monday and gets smaller as the week progresses. I think it's students who are "atoning" for their weekends early in the week and then losing motivation as the week progresses. But, maybe the trend is changing.

Anyway, last night was a fairly straightforward workout - all straight sets, no supersets. I started with alternating forward and rear lunges. Basically, I'd do a forward lunge with my left leg, a rear lunge with the left, forward with the right, and then a rear lunge with the right. That was one rep. And, I had a pair of heavy dumbbells in my hands. I did 4 sets of 4.

Next was pistols - 4 sets of as many reps as possible. I'm terrible at pistols (basically a single-leg squat) and I still use a slight cheating technique. I averaged 11 reps per leg per set.

Then, alternating lateral lunges, which are similar to a single leg squat in some respects. And the final lift in the workout was donkey kickbacks, which hit the injured area of my hamstring pretty hard. So, I'm still being cautious with this lift.

By the time I finished, the crowds had diminished somewhat, so I added a few extra reps on one lift. I want to work this winter on setting new PRs in the powerlifts - bench press, squat and deadlift. One of the lifts that is useful for getting better at deadlifts is called the rack pull. Basically, it's a partial deadlift where the bar starts close to your knees, and you only do the upper part of the lift. Because you don't have to start from the floor, most people can lift more weight on rack pulls than deadlifts. This allows your hands to get stronger as you hold the heavy bar and it allows your body to get the feeling of supporting the higher weight.

My deadlift PR is a pathetic 325 pounds. My goal for this winter is 405 pounds. I started my rack pulls at 245 last night and worked up to 335 - the most weight I've ever lifted for any distance.

I'm far from 405, but I've got plenty of time this coming winter to focus on training strategies to get there.

Tonight, I'll do an upper body lifting night and then tomorrow morning, I'm doing the mountain uphill race. Then, I'll take it easy the rest of the weekend, including rooting for my wife at her half marathon on Sunday.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Not much of it, but I saw some snow in the Worcester Range as I drove to work today. I imagine there is more snow up there in the mountains, but the higher peaks were obscured in clouds this morning.

Last night, I ran a hilly five miler, pushing the pace a little, but not too much. I still hate my wonky hamstring. I think that my Monday lifting workout is irritating the hamstring and that's making my Wednesday runs a bit tougher.

Tonight is a leg night at the gym and I'll do arms tomorrow morning. Then, on Saturday, I'm going to pin on a race number.

The current forecast for Saturday morning is torrential rain, cold temps, possible snow at higher elevations, and maybe some thunder and lightning. That should be about perfect for this race. Actually, if we have thunder and lightning, they may delay or cancel the race because they won't be able to run the chairlift to get people off the mountain quickly if needed. We'll see.

It looks like it will still be raining for my wife's half marathon on Sunday morning as well.

Today, two of my fingers are feeling a bit numb from guitar practice. But, I'm getting better at the changes between E7, A7, and B7, and my wife said my playing last night almost sounded like music. Progress!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Upper body lifting

Last night, the gym was crazily crowded. I really need to lift in the morning, especially on days when I've got bench presses scheduled. It seems that college boys are mostly interested in the vanity lifts. They want to do bench presses, biceps curls, and anything that makes their upper body look bigger. When I hear them talking about "triceps days", I find myself laughing quietly.

I lift for a number of reasons, but I think my reasons are very different than those of the typical male college student. They seem to focus on acquiring the muscles that will be noticed by females. I'm certainly not beyond vanity, but I'm quite happy with the one female in my life, so I'm not in the gym to turn my body into some sort of evolutionary advertisement.

My lifting is more about how my body performs rather than how it looks. I like being strong and seeing my lifts increase. I like the power I feel when climbing mountains, due to doing lots of leg work in the gym. I feel like lifting helps my bike riding. And, I know it helps my skiing. I think that lifting helps me to control my bodyfat levels. And yeah, I like it when my wife notices changes that come from lifting. My wife has certainly transformed her body through lifting and she is way fitter now than she has ever been.

On squat days, the only people I have to contend with to use the squat rack are older lifters. The older lifters know the value of squats and deadlifts and they do these lifts regularly. It seems that the college students do these lifts on occasion, mostly because some program tells them they "have to".

End of rant, I suppose.

So, I waited a while for a bench to do my bench press/bent-over supinated barbell row superset last night. It was an interesting superset, alternating between 3 reps and 9 reps. On the 3-rep sets, I used my highest weights for these lifts since last winter, which felt good. I'm thinking that by December or January, I'll be ready to set PRs in all three of the power lifts - bench press, deadlift, and squat.

After the first superset, the rest of my workout was something that didn't require the in-demand equipment, and I got through it fairly quickly. I worked hard and my arms are sore today.

Tonight after work, I'll get out for a hilly but easy-pace five mile run. I'll probably be wearing tights and rain gear for the run - it's that time of year. By tomorrow morning, wet snowflakes will be hitting the mountains.

The weather for the race on Saturday morning looks ominous - cold, pouring rain, potential thunder, and just maybe some wet snowflakes at higher elevations. If it's really wet, the route I've used for this race in the past could be dangerous. There is one small cliff that I've climbed on the upper mountain in the past. It's truly a small cliff, no more than 8-10 feet high, but a fall would not be pleasant. And, if it's icy or raining, it could be extra-exciting. Because I ski at Mad River Glen fairly often, I know the mountain well. I'll have to figure out the best route based on the conditions on Saturday morning.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

If I'm not a runner, why am I racing on Saturday?

The application has been sent in for the Stark Mountain Hill Climb race on Saturday. It's been a few years since I've run this race. Well, truth be told, I've never really run the race. It's straight uphill most of the way, so I've power-hiked it twice in the past. Two years ago, a new course record was set by Dave Dunham, in a time of 23:51, vs. the old record of 25:23.

It's been so long since I've run it that I can't find any prior results in the electronic running logs on my USB key. Those logs go back to 2004. It's very doubtful that I ran in 2003, because I ran Wasatch that year and a 5K the next weekend, so I doubt that I raced a 3rd weekend in a row.

I've done the race twice, and those two times were most likely in either 1999, 2001, or 2002. In 2000, I was training for the NYC marathon, so I probably didn't run it that year.

I'm trying to remember my times. I'm pretty sure that the two results were close to each other, near the back of the pack, definitely under an hour, and that's all I can remember. My times might have been in the 40s or the 50s - I just don't know. It's very unlikely that I was sub-40 either year.

I haven't climbed a steep hill since the first few miles of WS in June. I haven't raced since that day either. Well, it's questionable if I even raced that day.

So, Saturday should be fun; it's a brutally tough but fun course in the mountains and there is a slight chance of snow on the ground at higher elevations by Saturday.

Last night, I did a lower body lifting workout. Last week, this workout left me sore for days, even though I took it easy on the weights. Last night, I increased all the weights including new PRs for front squats and Romanian deadlifts, and yet I don't feel sore today. Yet.

Tonight is upper body lifting.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Still a runner?

My friend Tom wrote a blog post a few months ago, wondering whether he was still a runner or not. I'm feeling that way these days.

Over the weekend, I looked at my training since WS. My longest week just cracked 20 miles. This past week was 9.3 miles. I'm running 1-4 times per week, and the runs are all short and with minimal intensity.

Assuming my hamstring gets back to being healthy, how long will it be before I'm really running again? Soon, I'll be skiing every weekend rather than running. I'm still lifting 4x per week, although I'll drop that to 3x during ski season. But, I worry that after 25 years of calling myself a runner, that I'm drifting away from being able to use that term. It's almost like running is my cross-training sport these days.

Mostly, I want to be healthy and enjoy whatever it is that I'm doing. I'd prefer to focus on running, but my body is not yet ready for me to do that.


Lazy weekend

My wife and I ran an easy 6 miler on Saturday morning, and then I pretty much goofed off for the rest of the weekend. I had been planning to go longer, but I was tired and sore from workouts earlier in the week, so I decided that the easy 6 my wife was planning was enough for the day. Sunday was a much-needed rest day. The hardest work I did on Sunday was going outside to grill some steaks in the rain. I'm curious about the course conditions for the Vermont 50, which was yesterday.

My wife is tapering for the Leaf Peeper's Half Marathon next Sunday. I ran just under 1:38 in that race last year - my fastest half since I turned 40 in 2002, and I ran just over 1:30 in 2000 while training for the NYC marathon. But, this year, a sub-2:00 time would be a miracle and I'm not running the half. There's just no point in paying money to run a super-slow half marathon.

However, that does open another option for me. My wife's race is Sunday and one of my favorite races is on Saturday - the Stark Mountain Hill Climb. This is done at the Mad River Glen ski area. MRG has a single-chair chairlift that serves some of Vermont's wildest skiing - no snowmaking, no grooming, lots of trees, and lots of steeps. The race starts at the base of the single chair and finishes at the top of the lift. But, there is no defined route to the top. The only goal is to get there as fast as possible using any route you want. I've done the race twice before, and for me, it's really a power-hiking event. But, I have to mail in my app today or I'll be too late. The last time I did it, the upper half of the mountain had a light coating of snow, and that's a possibility for this coming weekend.

Autumn is really arriving in VT right now and this week is going to be cool and damp. Our first higher elevation snowflakes of the season may arrive by Thursday morning.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Short run

I finished my guitar lesson last night just after 6:00. The thunderstorms hadn't arrived yet, it wasn't dark yet, and running is better than the stupid stair climbing machine.

So, I headed home, turned on my Forerunner to let it start finding satellites, and then changed clothes. By the time I'd changed, a light mist was falling. I decided to do my basic easy course of 3.3 miles, but push the pace a bit. It's downhill on the way out and obviously uphill on the way home.

By the time I've finished one mile, the drizzle was turning into a rain. The dog that normally bothers me at mile 1.5 wasn't willing to leave her porch to chase me. When I turned around at 1.65 miles, the wind had picked up and a steady but light rain was falling. I'd done the out portion at an average just below a 9:00 pace - not bad for having really sore legs from lifting on Monday. And a wonky hamstring.

On the way back, I pushed the effort even more as the rain intensified. My pace didn't really increase, but it didn't drop much on the uphill sections. By the time I got to the last quarter mile, it was pouring. Hard.

Moments after I was inside the house, I heard the first rumble of thunder. I had to towel off in the mud room before I was allowed inside the house. From the front door, I was sent straight to the shower.

I did 3.3 miles in 30:06 - 14:45 out and 15:21 back - sub-9:10 pace. Regretfully, that's hard for me right now, but three weeks ago, it was not even possible.

Today is a leg day at the gym and the workout looks easy. I'm sure it's a trick.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


My hands hurt. My forearms hurt. My shoulders hurt. My abs hurt. My hamstrings hurt from Monday's leg day. Everything hurts.

I was going to run before work this morning, but it hurt to roll over in bed, so I slept in.

Last night's workout was bench presses, barbell rows, barbell corner presses, barbell corner rows, T-push-ups and reverse push-ups. It didn't look that hard. It beat me up.

Today is a busy work day. Then, I have a guitar lesson. I'm hoping to squeeze in a workout after my lesson. If I can move by then.

This post is brief because it hurts to type.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Lower Body Lifting

My schedule called for lower body lifting yesterday and this would be another test of my hamstring and its progress.

I deliberately kept the weights low, not wanting to risk re-injuring myself.

I started with front squats, and after my warm-up, I did 115 pounds. That's slightly less than a few weeks ago and it felt pretty good overall.

Next was Romanian deadlifts and I wanted to be very careful with these. Since the injury, I've been bending my knees slightly on this lift, which is not correct. When the legs are straight, the upper hamstrings are stressed a lot, so I've been very careful not to do this. I started at 135 pounds and eventually moved to 185 pounds. But, while I had my legs straighter than in the past few months, I still bent the knee just a little bit to be safe.

Next was trap bar deadlifts, which I did at 225 pounds. And then lumberjack squats. These are done with one end of a barbell in a corner and weight on the other end of the barbell. You hold onto the end of the barbell holding the weight and do squats with that weight. I was doing 3 sets of 15, so I started conservatively with 45 pounds on the 45 pound bar. After one set, I realized that was too easy, so I moved up to 70 pounds, which was just about right.

I finished up with some bodyweight squats where you jump up into a tuck position and then land, heading right back into a squat. These were for time - 3 x 20 seconds.

I think I did a good job of not going too hard. I feel a bit tired, but not sore today. Today, however, I'm just going to do some upper body lifting before I run again tomorrow.

It's nice to be able to do training with my legs again, after a ten day break. But, I still need to be conservative and not risk destroying any healing that is ongoing.