Friday, July 31, 2009

Lifting again and weekend plans.

Just two lifting workouts in the past two days.

Last night was a lower body workout with kettlebell swings, barbell Bulgarian split squats, snatch-grip Romanian deadlifts, and then swiss ball hip bridge/curls. I didn't feel like I'd done enough after the scheduled workout, so I added in a few straight deadlifts and some rack pulls. My glutes are telling me today that I worked hard enough last night.

This morning was an upper body day, with some new lifts. After my warm-up, I did pull-ups, barbell shoulder presses, seated cable pulldowns, alternating dumbbell shoulder presses, Cuban rotations, straight-arm cable pressdowns, and kneeling cable x-rows. Four of those were lifts I'd never done before.

Tonight, my son and I will play racquetball for an hour or so.

Tomorrow, my wife and I will run for a couple hours.

Sunday, I'll do a bike ride with a friend. And after my bike ride, my wife and I will have a nice dinner to celebrate our 23rd wedding anniversary.

And just like that, it will be time to go to work again.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


It's been a long time since I've done any running just because I wanted to run. Somewhere after Western States got cancelled last year, running seemed to just become a chore. Something I had to do for my fall marathon. Something I had to do for WS this year. Something I had to do just because it's what I do.

But, I wasn't running because I wanted to run.

And then in April, I got hurt. Running became even more of a chore. It still is a chore. There is not flow, no easy stride to my running. It's all work.

But, to be honest, except for what happened to my Western States training and race, that hasn't bothered me. If I'm hurt, I don't have to run. At the Vermont 100, I volunteered to pace, but my heart wasn't really in it. I gave everything I had to two different runners, but I wasn't there because I wanted to be.

The past few days, I'm finally feeling like I want to run again. I was unhappy when the rains hit last night. I'd mapped out a course that would finish at the pool with a swim, and my wife was going to pick me up. I know the run would have been tough given how my hamstring feels, but I wanted to go. I'm looking forward to my next run.

And, I'm really looking forward to the visit to the doctor next week, to see if we can find a way to make some progress with my hamstring. I have a race I'd like to do this fall, and I am starting to feel like I want to train for it. I just need to get healthy enough that running can be fun again.

Stupid Weather

I was planning to run after work yesterday. It was warm and humid all day, and surely enough, that generated afternoon thunderstorms. Our local area had rain reports of more than an inch up to 3.5". There were local flood watches in effect. And, there was too much electricity in the air to even consider running. My son and I probably should have played a game of racquetball, but I guess we were just being lazy, and we did nothing.

So, I decided I'd try running this morning before work, but that meant getting up at 4:30, and after sleeping just a few hours in a car the night before, that didn't work either.

Today is a lower body lifting day. I'll lift after work. Tomorrow is an upper body lifting day (morning) and maybe I'll run some.

Saturday, I'll run with my wife, and Sunday, I'm going to try to do a long bike ride. But, Sunday is also my wedding anniversary (23 years), so I need to make sure I don't take up the entire day with my ride.

It's now been over two months since I stopped drinking alcohol. It's also been almost a month since I returned from our vacation to CA and Western States. In the past two weeks, I've finally gotten my diet really dialed in to where I want it to be, and the weight I needed to lose before WS is starting to disappear now.

In 8 days, I see the sports doc about my hamstring.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

For Those About to Rock...

It was a very interesting show. It was certainly the loudest concert I've ever attended. I wore earplugs the entire show and had no problems hearing anything. People who didn't wear earplugs are probably having problems hearing today. I could feel the bass pulsing through my body.

Essentially, they played a few songs from their newest album (the best songs, IMO) and then the classics. Brian Johnson doesn't have the vocal range that he had in 1980, and he especially seemed to struggle on some older songs originally sung by Bon Scott.

And, surprisingly, You Shook Me All Night Long, perhaps their most popular tune, was probably the most bland tune of the evening.

But, the real show was Angus Young. He has to be close to 60, but he spent half the show stripped down to just his standard knickers, dancing around with his guitar like a madman. The final song of the main set was a 20+ minute version of Let There Be Rock that was essentially an Angus solo effort. He was amazing and he owned the show.

For an encore, they played Highway to Hell and For Those About to Rock. They used film, fireworks, other amazing pyrotechnics, a large "crashed train engine" on the stage, a giant inflatable "Rosie", huge video screens, cannons, the Hell's Bell, and other props that I'm sure I've forgotten. It was classic large stadium rock and roll.

I'm glad I finally saw them.

Right now, I could use some sleep. I'm planning to run for at least an hour after work today and then I'll get to be early tonight. I did an upper body lifting session before we left for the show yesterday.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

"Turn Back the Clock" Day

It's 1979. I'm in high school. I spend all my spare money on albums. Vinyl. LPs. Some of you youngsters can ask your grandparents about this ancient technology. (I still listen to and buy vinyl, by the way). I was a couple years away from starting to waste my money on intoxicants, and like many teenage boys, I was addicted to music.

By 1979, I'd graduated from Kiss, but I preferred heavy metal. Yeah, I listened to Steve Miller and Styx and Kansas and some other popular stuff from those days (Meat Loaf, anyone?). But, Zeppelin was near the top of my list. Aerosmith too. Black Sabbath. And, I was starting to discover other metal bands.

In 1979, AC/DC released an album called "Highway to Hell". I forget how I heard about it, but I bought it. And listened. Again and again. Wow! I was hooked. I started buying older albums by AC/DC. Powerage. Let There Be Rock. High Voltage. I heard of an album called "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap". It was an import and available as a special order for about $15. That was a fortune to me, but I ordered it as well. I wonder if it's worth anything today.

Then, early in 1980, "tragedy" struck. AC/DC's lead singer, Bon Scott, became another rock and roll statistic - dead from alcohol-related asphyxiation. Oh well, I had the older albums and I was about to discover Judas Priest and the Scorpions. But, AC/DC didn't actually disappear. They added a new lead singer, Brian Johnson, and before 1980 had ended, they'd released Back in Black. Yeah, Johnson wasn't Scott, but the new album rocked. It became the best selling album in the band's history.

Then, I headed off to college and I discovered "New Wave" and "alternative" music. The heavy metal drifted to the back of the stack.

Sometime in the 90s, when I'd finally been forced to convert to CDs, I bought Highway to Hell and Back in Black on CD. I'd listen to them on occasion. The great albums never go out of style.

In the past few years, my son (age 16) has really gotten into music. He went through all of my discs and listened. He found his favorites. He likes a lot of stuff, but he really loves metal. Iron Maiden. AC/DC. Aerosmith. Black Sabbath. He loves '90s grunge - Nirvana, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains (I'm not quite sure where to categorize these guys - grunge, metal, something else?), etc.

For Christmas last year, he asked for AC/DC's new release, "Black Ice". I was surprised that they were still putting out new music. I'd heard some of their singles since Back in Black - Thunderstruck, Who Made Who, For Those About to Rock, etc., but they'd ceased to exist as a current band for me.

I will admit that Black Ice doesn't do a lot for me. But, the release did get AC/DC back onto the road. Expensive tickets. A long indoor tour last winter. My son wanted to see them, but the ticket prices were absurd.

Then, they announced a very short outdoor US tour - 9 dates, 4 of them in California. The first show is in Foxboro, where the Patriots play. Tickets were ridiculously expensive. I told my son that I just couldn't justify the cost. But, a funny thing happened. I don't know if the band is just too far past their prime, or if it's the economy, or if they were never really as popular as they were in my mind, but tickets didn't sell. Eventually, they had to drop the ticket prices.

Last Wednesday, I got an e-mail from one of those big ticket companies. I'm on all of their mailing lists. Apparently, good tickets still existed and the prices were lower. They were offering deals on cheap seats and good seats. I wondered how good the good seats were. Fifteenth row? Wow! I checked with my wife and my son. My son offered to buy his own ticket. My wife had zero interest, but said we should go.

So, I'm working half a day today and then driving to Foxboro. Almost 30 years ago, this would have been my dream concert (well, an AC/DC and Zeppelin twin bill would have been my true dream show). Tonight, I'm looking forward to some old time heavy metal, and I'm hoping they mostly play the old stuff. And, I'm hoping they can still PLAY the stuff.

The earplugs are packed.

I'm guessing this will be a much different crowd than we saw at the Green Day show.

Next week, we are seeing Social Distortion in a club. I'm guessing that audience will be a lot different than tonight's crowd.

Now, where's my black T-shirt?

Monday, July 27, 2009


Overall, I had a great weekend, with only a couple short workouts.

Friday night, I tried to install the bike rack on my new car and discovered that the rack doesn't fit the bars. Considering that the rack and the bars are both Subaru parts, I'd think they'd fit just fine. I'm going to the dealer today to see what's up.

Saturday morning, my wife and I got up early and did five miles with a friend. On our way to the run, we dropped our dogs off at the kennel for an overnight stay. By the end of a hilly 5, my hamstring was complaining some, so I stopped, but my wife ran a couple extra miles to our local farmers market. I drove to the local coffee shop to get us some coffee while she finished running. Then, we did our weekly produce shopping and headed home.

By early afternoon, we were on the road to Albany to see Green Day in concert. I've been going to concerts on a regular basis for about 30 years now and this might have been the best show I've ever seen. Previously, I would have ranked a 1983 show in Philadelphia by Talking Heads at the top, but I think this show exceeded that show in many ways.

Billy Joe, the lead singer and true leader of Green Day was just full of energy for about 2.5 hours. He expected the audience to participate in many, many ways. Some people were brought onstage to sing, others to play guitar, one small boy was used as a "prop" in the intro to a song, and another small boy was brought onstage to shoot a water cannon at fans.

They played about half of their new album, half of their previous release and then most of their hits from earlierreleases. They also goofed around, bringing in small snippets of Sweet Home Alabama, Crazy Train, Ironman, Freebird, Swanee, I'll Be There and Earth Angel.

The audience was "required" to sing a lot of the lyrics, and for a punk/power-pop band like Green Day, not ever lyric is easily understood. The show wasn't even sold out, but that didn't seem to deter the band at all. They were simply full of energy and enthusiasm for the entire show. This show came at the mid-point of their current tour, so I'm guessing that they've got any kinks worked out and they aren't yet burned out in any way. How Billy Joe can throw out that much energy night after night is amazing.

We got home late after the show and then slept in on Sunday. When I finally got out of bed, I started getting ready for a bike ride and then it started to rain. So, we went for groceries instead (mostly proteins to eat with Saturday's veggie haul). The weather turned out OK, despite a nasty forecast, and I could have ridden, but it wasn't a big deal. Instead, after shopping, my son and I played racquetball for an hour. Then, I let him practice driving for a while. I offered to let him drive the entire way home, but he doesn't feel ready for real traffic yet, so I'm not pushing him.

Then, a nice dinner of fresh veggies and chicken on the grill, and the weekend was over.

Tonight, I'll lift after work.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Two weight workouts

Lower body last night - warm-up followed by front squats, back squats, rear lunges, and lateral squats.

This morning, it was bent-over DB rows, incline DB presses, corner presses, corner rows, push-ups and inverted rows. The last two are brutal - 50 reps of each as fast as you can pull it off.

Today ended a four-week cycle and I get my workouts for the next four weeks tomorrow. I'm guessing we will start to see some interval work in the next month in addition to the weight work.

Tomorrow morning, my wife and I will run 10 miles with some friends, if my hamstring and other portions of my legs allow me to go that far.

Then, we'll head to NY to see Green Day tomorrow night. My son and I are also going to see AC/DC on Tuesday and we are going to see Social Distortion the following Tuesday. My ears may be ringing for weeks after these shows. It seems that many people "of my age" have stopped going to concerts, but I still really enjoy seeing rock shows, and I'm looking forward to all three shows. I've seen Social Distortion before, but not the other two bands. The reviews of the current Green Day tour have been fantastic.

Sunday, if the weather cooperates, I'll do some bike riding.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Easy 5 miler

I ran an easy but hilly 5 miles last night. My stride is a mess.

In some ways, I have to wonder why I even considered starting Western States. And then, not only did I consider it, but I did start. After fewer than 24 miles, my left knee hurt, my right foot hurt, and of course, my hamstring hurt.

My right foot is getting sore from running these days. My left hip and knee don't like running at the moment. My stride is so compromised that there is simply no fun in running right now. I'm trying to run twice a week or so, simply to maintain some level of running fitness, but even that's tough.

I can lift and I can ride my road bike, so I'm not being sedentary. But, I miss being able to run easily with a smooth stride.

It's 15 days until I see the sports doc. It could be a long 15 days.

Tonight after work, I'll do lower body lifting, concentrating on squats.

I'm already not looking forward to a planned 10 miler with my wife on Saturday morning. I'll enjoy the time with her, but not the running portion.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Back to Training

I've got a busy work week, helping out at my old job and having a co-worker on vacation at my new job. But, there's always time to squeeze in some workouts.

Monday, despite being exhausted from the weekend, I did a lower body workout in the gym. Last night was upper body. Today, if the weather holds, I'll run 6-8 miles outside. If the weather turns nasty, I think I'll do intervals on the stair climber.

Then, I'll do another lower and upper body weight workout on Thursday and Friday.

Saturday morning, my wife and I will run about 10 or so, and Sunday I hope to get out on my bike for 30 or more miles. Sunday could be tough because it's supposed to rain later in the day and I'm going to see Green Day in Albany on Saturday night. I'll get home pretty late and I'll need to get up early to beat the weather.

I made an appointment earlier this week to see a sports doctor about my hamstring. The podiatrist who is the medical director of the VT100 talked to me a lot about the hamstring on Friday. These doctors all work at the hospital that I recently left.

Anyway, he thinks that given the time since the injury and the lack of healing that I should consider platelet rich plasma treatment for the injury. I'd already been thinking about that possibility and I'm going to talk to the sports doc about it in early August, when I see him.

PRP is a fairly new treatment process that got a lot of press around the time of the Super Bowl, when two injured Steelers made near-miraculous recoveries to play in the game. Not only is this a new type of treatment, but most insurance companies won't pay for the treatments, which cost about $1000 each. But, if it gets me back to running with a smooth easy stride, it will be worth the money out of pocket.

The providers at the local sports medicine clinic have had very encouraging results with PRP so far and they are one of two clinics in the state offering the treatment.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Vermont 100

Given how little sleep I got, the whole weekend seems to be a blur.

I spent Friday helping to check in runners and doing a few other easy volunteer tasks. It was fun to meet new people, connect with old friends, and just hang out at the race. New RD Julia Hutchinson really seemed to have things in control, and things stayed that way all weekend.

After I was done on Friday, I decided to skip the pre-race meal and go home to sleep. I got home by 7:00 or so, but couldn't fall asleep until about 11:00. At 1:30, I was up and heading back to the race site to do last minute check-ins. And then, the runners were off, starting in a little bit of rain that ended fairly quickly.

We discussed the favorites, and the men's field seemed wide open, with 51 year old Jack Pilla a potential winner after being 3rd last year at VT and Wasatch. Everyone seemed to think that Annette Bednosky would win on the women's side.

I was quickly put to work and unlike most years, I had no chance to follow the race from aid station to aid station. I went to Camp 10 Bear (the mile 47 and mile 70 aid station) and they had all kinds of work for me to do. I spent hours shuttling equipment between 10 Bear, Bill's (mile 89 aid station) and the finish line.

Finally, around lunchtime, I made it to Camp 10 Bear to stay for a while. My wife and kids were helping there, so I got to hang out with them. I kept missing the leaders, but I knew that Jack was in the lead, being closely chased by a youngster, and the women were being led by a 100-mile rookie.

When the 100K started at 2:00, the number of runners at 10 Bear increased as those runners made it to the aid station. We were just plain busy, especially as the wave of people shooting for sub-24 all seemed to arrive together. Eventually, around 10:00, things slowed down. I checked with one runner who I'd earlier offered to crew and pace, but she and her boyfriend had things in control.

At about 11:00, I told the pacer coordinator that I was available for pacing, but I didn't really want to do 30 full miles. We made a deal for two of us to split 30 miles for a runner, and I'd take the first 19.

Andy was an experienced 100 miler and triathlete and an orthopedic surgeon. I really enjoyed the time we spent together, but I'm not sure he did. He had tweaked his back riding a back-up bike in a 1/2 Ironman recently, doing the ride on a back-up bike. As our time together progressed, he was dealing with cramps in his back on the uphills and he gradually slowed down. By the time we hit the mile 77 aid station, he'd had enough and decided it was best for his health to drop. Given his experience and his profession, I simply assumed that he knew best what to do and I didn't argue. He fell asleep in a chair within minutes of stopping.

While I waited for the shuttle van, another runner arrived and announced he was dropping. I asked him why. He said his feet were trashed beyond repair. I suggested they could be repaired and reminded him that he had plenty of time to fix his feet and beat the cut-off out of the aid station. I also told him that I'd pace him if he wanted to continue. Suddenly, he decided he was back in the race. We moved well for about 4 miles and then he started to fade. At first, it was a slow fade. Then, as foot pain accumulated, it became dramatic. I became worried about cut-offs and turned on my Garmin to get our speed. It took us 52 minutes to cover a mile, during which he decided that he simply could not continue.

At mile 82.5, the course loops back to the camping area by the start, and he dropped there. After never failing to get a runner to the finish at VT100 before, it happened to me twice in one night. During out 52 minute mile, we did have one strange sighting. I found a cooler beside the trail in a forest. I joked that it was full of beer for us and I opened it. I was shocked to find that the cooler really did contain six beers on ice. We have no idea how it got there, but we left it untouched.

When we got back to the finish, I got a ride to pick up my car. When I got back to the race site, it was just a bit past 5:30. Apparently, a few volunteers had failed to show, so Julia said she could use some help. So, I manned the finish line until the final cut-off at 10:00. Last year, our last place finisher had 4 or 5 seconds to spare. This year, Karsten Soldheim finished last again, but he had over 5 minutes to spare.

After the finish line stuff was done, I managed to catch about 30 minutes of sleep on a medical tent cot. Then, it was lunchtime and awards time.

Jack Pilla did indeed win - the first Vermonter to win the race outright. A newcomer, Stephanie Case from NY, won the women's race. Some friends of mine had solid performances. After dealing with a recent injury, Laurel Valley ran sub-24, egged on by sadistic pacer Melanie. Joe Hayes was on sub-24 pace at mile 70, and faded badly, but got his 11th lifetime finish. I believe that the first 9 finishes were all sub-24. Jamie Anderson's runner went sub-24. Sherpa John ran his 3rd consecutive sub-24, I believe. Mike Hall ran 22 and change in his first 100. Nate Sanel had an awesome race. There were many happy faces on Sunday morning as people collected their awards.

Finally, at 12:30, I decided I was done. I have a lot more work to do for the race, but it won't start for a few more days. So, I headed home. I took a shower when I got home and I was asleep no later than 2:00, probably earlier. I slept until my wife brought some pizza home for dinner. I got up to eat some pizza and promptly fell asleep on the couch. I went back to bed and slept until 6:00 this morning.

I still need a bit more sleep.

After work today, I think I'll lift, eat dinner, and get to bed very early. In some ways, volunteering and pacing for the whole weekend does seem harder than just running. There are so many more things to worry about when you're helping, vs. a few simple things to do when you are running.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

One more gym night

Legs last night. After a warm-up, 5x4 of front squats. I hate front squats, but I feel like I'm finally getting competent at them.

Then 5x5 of back squats. I took it relatively easy with some pacing at the VT100 planned for this weekend. I worked on good form for every rep but kept the weight at 155-165.

Then, DB reverse lunges, and finally lateral (weighted) squats with a single 60# DB. I was afraid to try them with a 100 pound wheel from the squat rack.

Tonight is an arm night. Then, I volunteer at the VT100 all weekend.

It will be strange at the race without Jim Hutchinson there. Jim was a friend to many, many people and I considered him to be a mentor in many ways. We served together in government and he's the person who really got me interested in volunteering in my life, rather than just always doing my own thing. He's been gone for almost a year and I still miss him very much.

His daughter, Julia, is the new RD for the race and I'm sure she'll do fine. But, I think she's nervous about the oversized shoes she is attempting to fill.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Even I'm bored with my recent posts

Yeah, I got a new car last week. That was exciting. To me. Nobody else cares.

I'm following a very specific workout and nutrition plan right now. I lift four days per week, two days upper body and two days lower body. Then, some easy endurance work to fill in the week. Yesterday, I trashed my arms with chin-ups, shoulder presses, wide-grip lat pulldowns, Scott presses, DB curls into an upper cut press, and French presses. How many people even know what all those lifts are? A month ago, I had never done the last 3. Now, they are my friends every Tuesday.

My arms hurt.

Today is a legs day focusing on squats.

Friday, I will head to the VT100 race site. I'll be there through Sunday. I'm not racing; I'll be volunteering and crewing and pacing. I'm glad to do those things, but racing is so much more fun and so much easier in some ways.

I'll run a bit on Friday morning to see how my hamstring feels.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Lower body lifting day

Last night was a leg night at the gym. After a warm-up focused on the legs, I did deadlifts, single leg Romanian deadlifts, kettlebell swings, and Swiss ball bridges/curls. It was a very intense workout, but only 50 minutes start to finish.

Today is an upper body lifting day.

Because we are working with a consultant at work this week, I need to be in the main office most of the week, so my time is limited and I'm only able to train once a day.

Friday, I'm off work to start a weekend of volunteering at the Vermont 100 miler. After lifting for 4 straight days, I'll do some running on Friday morning before I head to the race site.

I'm looking forward to seeing a number of friends at the race this weekend.

Monday, July 13, 2009


The weekend went pretty much as planned and it was a very pleasant and relaxing weekend.

My wife and I went to the farmers market on Saturday morning and then did an 8 mile run together. My hamstring is still not happy, and my tough lifting session on Thursday (lots of squats) had left my legs even more sore for the run than usual.

Saturday night, we hopped in the new car and made a trip to my wife's parents' summer camp to have dinner with them. It was nice to spend the evening with them, and it gave me an excuse to drive some more. We would normally stay overnight, but the dogs were in their crates and we had to come home to rescue them.

Sunday morning, I slept in and then went for a 20 mile bike ride. Then, in the afternoon, we went climbing at Lower West Bolton. We focused on a 5.7 route named Harvest Moon. My wife nailed it three times. I was pathetic, as usual. I haven't climbed much the past few years and I think I need to go back to 5.4 or 5.5 climbs for a while until I'm comfortable on the rock again. My wife is a way better climber than I am. She also loves climbing the way I love running, and it was nice to get her out climbing for the day.

On the way home, we stopped at a great little beer place in Montpelier called Three Penny Taproom. My wife had a couple beers while I drank water. Then, we headed home to grill some steaks for dinner.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Weight workouts

Yesterday afternoon, I did a lower body weight workout - front squats, back squats, alternating rear lunges and lateral squats. I'm not as beat up as I was after the same workout last Thursday, which is good because I increased the weights yesterday.

This morning, I did bent over alternating DB rows, incline DB presses, BB corner presses, BB corner rows, 50 push-ups and 50 inverted push-ups (which are really a form of pull-up).

Tomorrow, my wife and I will do an easy 8 miler together. We are both planning a fall 50 miler (I don't know what she's thinking, but I'm not going to dissuade her), so we'll do a lot of weekend training together for the next few months. My race is a month before hers, but mine is also easier (Maine Track Club vs. Stone Cat trail race - road vs. trail), and I'm already sort of in ultra shape, so my wife has the most work ahead of her.

Sunday is supposed to be beautiful, so I'll do something - probably ride and rock climb, which I think I mentioned yesterday.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

First run since WS

Last night, while I was waiting for my wife to arrive to sign the paperwork for the new car, I had a little time to kill. And, it was "only" drizzling - the nicest weather in quite a while. So, I snuck in a 3 mile run. My left leg/hamstring felt terrible. I think the main problem is that ever since WS, I've stopped stretching and foam rolling the leg.

So, I need to get back to those activities. But, it's now been 10+ weeks since the injury and things are far from normal.

I'll lift today and tomorrow, and then run again on Saturday. Sunday, I'm hoping to get in a bike ride and my wife wants to go rock climbing. Hopefully, the weather will be good enough to fit both of those into the day.

The new car is lots of fun so far, but I'm curious to see how it does on fuel. It has the same fuel efficiency rating as my 2004 WRX, and if I get the same mileage, I'll be happy. I still question whether this car or any car that exists is environmentally consistent with the things I love to do in my life - being outside in nature - but that's not an issue I'll probable ever fully resolve on my own.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

My new toy

This isn't the exact car I'm about to buy and that's not me behind the wheel, but in a couple hours, I'll be signing the paperwork for one of these:

Vermont 100 miler - will it be a canoe race?

The rain is never going to stop. This is ridiculous. It's pouring right now. Yesterday, we had rain storms, hail storms, thunder and lightning and it just transitioned to straight rain overnight.

The VT100 course is going to be as muddy as I've ever seen it, I'm afraid, and the race is still 10 days away. I'm not even running the race - just volunteering, crewing and pacing - but I still wonder how bad the mud will be. Agony Hill, at about mile 48 or so, is going to be really nasty. The last couple miles should be pretty bad too. Well, to be honest, I can think of a lot of places that are going to be tough. And, the rain seems to be creating a super-strain of mosquitoes that are relentless.

Nonetheless, I'm still looking forward to race weekend.

Tonight, after work, I'm picking up my new car. I'm hoping to sneak in a run in between when I'm done working and when my wife arrives to sign the car loan paperwork. As long as there's no thunder or lightning or hail, I imagine I can survive running in the rain for a few miles.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Lifting, mowing, and lifting

Last night, I did a lower body lifting workout - trap bar deadlifts, single leg Romanian deadlifts, kettlebell swings, and Swiss ball bridges/curls. Including my warm-up, the whole thing took less than 50 minutes and I could barely walk out of the gym.

Regretfully, when I got home, the rain hadn't yet started, which meant I needed to finish mowing the lawn. I spent at least 90 minutes finishing the mowing and it just plain sucked. From now on, I'm either going to mow every 3 days or so, or I'm just not going to mow at all. Mowing after a month of rain and rapidly growing grass is torture. It took me about 5 hours over two days to get the mowing done.

This morning was an upper body day in the gym, and my arms are so beat it's hard to type.

Running? I'm going to run tomorrow after work. I think.

I need to do some running miles between now and the VT100, just to be sure I'll be ready to pace. But right now, I'm having fun in the gym.

In about 4 months, the snow guns will be turned on in the northeast and ski sesason will be approaching.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Two workouts - one easy and one way too hard

I went out for an easy hour on my road bike yesterday. That was entire planned workout for the day.

Then, I took my son driving for a while.

After that, it was time to mow the lawn. I spent all day Saturday repairing my tractor. Within 5 minutes of starting it up, a belt tore, and I was left with only my little John Deere self-propelled mower. Because the lawn hadn't been mowed in forever and the grass was very high and very wet near ground level, this turned out to be a ridiculously hard workout.

It took me about 3.5 hours to mow 75% of my lawn. At 8:45, it was starting to get dark and I was beat. I had to call it a night and get a shower and some dinner before bed. Sometimes, the unplanned workouts are the worst of all. Every fall, when I stack firewood for the winter, I end up sore for a few days - same sort of thing. I guess if I was a caveman, I'd be used to all of this "functional" movement rather than just my gym strength or running endurance. But, I bet cavemen didn't have to mow the lawn.

It's supposed to rain most of the week again. The VT100 course could be really sloppy on race weekend. I think I'm going to wear my new Inov-8 shoes for pacing there. They are light, shed water pretty well, and even if the tread gets muddy, the shoe won't weigh a ton.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

I am still so unbelievably sore (and other random thoughts)

I never worked out yesterday. The gym was closed and we had rain and thunderstorms all day long. Plus, I am so sore from lifting Wednesday through Friday that any movement at all hurts. Two of my three lifting days were upper body, but it was squats on Thursday that really did me in. I had done very little lifting, especially lower body lifting, since I hurt my hamstring in April.

My wife and daughter are out of town for the weekend, so my son and I had the day to ourselves yesterday. My son just got his driving permit this past week, so I took him out for his first ever drive yesterday. We stayed in empty parking lots for the day, but we may venture onto some little-used roads today. It's fun watching how excited he is to learn how to drive a car.

Today, it's windy but sunny outside. I may run a few miles with my son at an easy pace, but I think my main goal is to ride some miles on my road bike. Then, it's time to get the lawn mowed. I managed to repair my lawn tractor yesterday, so I have the tractor and a new self-propelled mower to attack the lawn. It's been 3+ weeks and if we don't do it soon, we'll have hay to sell pretty soon.

It's only two weeks until the VT100 and I'm hoping the course has a chance to dry out between now and race day. The mosquitoes are pretty bad right now and some dry weather would help with bugs and trail conditions.

I guess I'm doing my part to stimulate the economy right now. I just took two vacation trips, including one to CA to help their economy. Then, I bought a new lawn mower on Friday. And, I also put down a deposit on a new car the same day. Assuming that the paperwork all goes as planned and the dealer offers a fair price when they look at my trade-in this week, I'll be driving a new Subaru WRX by the end of the week.

My 2004 WRX has been the perfect car for me and my lifestyle. In the summer, it's just plain fun to drive, including on my long commute to work. In the winter, I put studded snow tires on it and it goes just about anywhere and always gets me to my ski teaching gig. But, that car has almost 150K miles on it right now, and my wife's car has almost 130K miles. So, it's time to upgrade one of the cars. We haven't had a car payment for over 3 years right now, so that will be an adjustment. But, I've been very lucky in my employment situation recently and there is a tax incentive for buying a new car this year, so it's time.

The 2009 WRX is faster and more powerful than the 2004. Plus, I'm buying it in red. I have only gotten one speeding ticket in the 150K miles on the current WRX. Hopefully, the red color won't invite too much more scrutiny from the law.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Three straight gym days

Since I got back from CA, I haven't run. I think I'll run tomorrow and maybe bike on Sunday, if the weather holds. But, I have lifted 3 days in a row. Wednesday was an upper body day, yesterday was lower body, and this morning was upper body again.

I can barely type right now. I'm really looking forward to the training plan that I'll be following for the next five months. Endurance work will be de-emphasized in favor of lifting, although I'll still have 2-3 days per week for endurance work.

All in all, it will be a nice change of pace from my recent training.

It's also nice to be home and preparing meals in my own kitchen rather than eating in restaurants all the time (Eclipse Pizza excepted, of course). With July here, the farmers markets have lots of fresh veggies and fruits and it gets a lot easier to eat healthy food for a while. Plus, Alaskan salmon is in season as well.

Somehow, I got roped into working today, on a planned holiday. I guess that goes with the territory in a small start-up kind of company, especially if you've been gone most of the last 2.5 weeks.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

OK, Let's be real

So, I go to a race, injured, out of shape, overweight, and not ready for extreme heat. Yeah, I'm going to retire. Sure I am.

As many of you have already pointed out, it's not likely to happen.

So, I think I have a plan for the rest of the year.

These are my goals:

1) Lose Body Fat
2) Run one ultra - the Maine Track Club 50 miler, in under 11 hours.
3) Reapply to WS

#1 will hopefully happen with the use of Precision Nutrition's coaching program. I did so poorly in that program last time that I decided to repeat it. It was my fault that I did poorly, and I dropped about 6 pounds over six months. My weight at WS was the second most I've ever weighed for a 100 miler. The program includes lots of lifting and limited endurance work. However, I'll make sure that I use my endurance days to full advantage, doing long runs every chance I get.

#2 is the easiest fall ultra in the northeast. It's a fairly flat 4-mile loop that I've run many times. It's about the easiest WS qualifier that I know about.

#3 is kind of obvious. It's not so much that I want to try again next year, but rather, I want to start the process of getting into the race in a future year. I think 2012, when I'm 50, would be perfect. And, assuming I don't get into WS next year, I probably need to run a different tough 100 to prove I can still handle this sport.

When I do get picked again, I'm thinking I may take the winter off from ski instruction, simply so I can focus my winter of running fitness rather than skiing. I don't know if I could handle not skiing all weekend, every weekend, but it's something to think about.

I'm going to continue to live without alcohol in my life. That is one of the main reasons that my weight didn't drop through the winter and early spring, and I need to simply avoid the stuff. Maybe after I finish WS someday, I can go back to my old bad habits. But, for now, I need to focus on getting rid of body fat and improving my overall health.

My arms are sore from an upper body weight workout last night. I'm afraid that tonight's lower body workout will leave me too sore to walk tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Back home, back at work, back to working out

We got home within 10 minutes of our scheduled arrival last night.

I know that people always complain about the airlines and I've had my share of travel snafus over the years. However, in the past 3 weeks, I've flown 8 flights, two of them international flights, and every single one has flown without being cancelled. The worst thing that happened was a one hour delay on our final flight home from Costa Rica.

This morning, I got up early, picked up the dogs from the kennel, and then came home to work from home for the day. The dogs and cats seem very happy to have everything back to "normal" for now.

Tonight, I'll go to the gym and do an upper body lifting workout. I haven't done much lifting for the past month, so this one will probably leave me sore. By the weekend, I'd like to ride my bike or run, but it seems like it's going to rain forever in VT right now.

So, am I done with ultras? I've been thinking about that for a few days now. For two years, I've been planning to retire from 100s after I finished WS. In some ways, that still seems like a good plan. And, I still haven't finished WS.