Friday, January 30, 2009


I'm complaining about being tired.

My wife just found out that a former boss and good friend has a very nasty form of cancer that progressed very far before it was found.

I'll stop complaining now and be thankful I'm capable of pushing myself the way I do.

Still beat

I'm confused. I'm tired all the time right now and I feel like my running isn't going well at all. The truth is, I've run more miles this month than I did in January of 2005 - the year I almost finished Western States. That's the only year I've started WS, although I've failed to make it to the starting line for all kinds of reasons. The next thing you know, the race will get cancelled by forest fires one of these summers. Oh wait...

Anyway, I feel like I'm not where I want to be right now. My weight is 16 pounds higher than it was when I left for WS last year. Some of that 16 pounds is muscle mass I've added through lifting since last June, but most of it is extra fat.

Last winter, I trained almost exclusively on the treadmill. This year, I'm snowshoe running/walking a lot more. So, perhaps I should look at time rather than mileage. For example, it took me 1:44:06 to do 6 miles on my snowshoes last night. I have a small footprint racing snowshoe and I was trying to run on a lot of fresh, unconsolidated snow. The workout was really difficult despite my slow speed. So, I should probably pay attention to my training time rather than my miles.

Every winter, between training, work, and teaching skiing on the weekends, I end up complaining that I'm tired a lot. Because I am tired a lot! But, I've avoided illnesses so far this winter, I'm training nearly every day, I'm getting enough sleep, and I think my bosses are all happy with me.

My left leg is a mess. I think that when I tweaked my knee a couple weeks ago, I set off some sort of chain reaction. After that tweak, I thought I pulled my hamstring while doing intervals, but now I'm pretty sure it's my ITB that's bothering me. I've gotten a massage, I'm stretching more, I'm using my foam roller more to work on hot spots, and I'm going to make an appointment today to see my chiropractor. But, in my left leg, I have hot spots on my hip, the lower ITB attachment point, my Achilles tendon, and the bottom of my heel. The latter is a bruise from a fall, rather than PF, but I still notice it at times.

Maybe I'm just getting old, which is why I feel tired. I'm finding it hard to rehydrate from one workout to the next. I am getting enough sleep, so that's not the issue. I'm also deliberately running a calorie deficit right now, which doesn't help with my energy levels.

I'm guessing that everything will be fine. I can find comments in my training logs for past winters where I have periods of time where I feel like I feel right now. In 2004, while training for Hardrock, I was running more miles than I'm doing now, but not weight training or snowshoeing. That winter, I fought through two tough colds and I hurt my back once and I hurt my left knee once. In 2005, while training for WS, I was sick for a few weeks in late January and early February. I was skiing a lot of days as I prepped for a ski instructor examination. And, I then cracked a rib skiing in March. In 2006, I was sick a bunch, skied a bunch, and my workouts for January-March sucked. I ran a 100-mile PR at VT100 that year. In 2007, I missed a lot of February with a cold and I ran another PR on a longer VT100 course.

So, the best advice I can probably give myself is relax, keep working, and things will come around. Panic will do me no good at all.

Last night, while fighting through ungroomed snow on my snowshoes, all I could think of was the snowshoe marathon in early March. If the course is fast and packed, my snowshoes will work great and I'll have fun. If the course is anything like what I did last night, I'll need all 10 hours that the course is open. My snowshoes are not designed for unpacked snow.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Treadmill miles and weights

It was snowing like crazy when I got out of work last night. My wife had lifted the night before, so she wasn't planning to go to the gym. So, we agreed that I'd drop her off at home and she'd start snowblowing the driveway. It would be my responsibility to finish the driveway this morning.

After I dropped my wife off at home, I headed back to the gym. I was the only car on the road at 5:00. Everyone else was already at home, hiding from the snowstorm. I did an easy 6 on the treadmill and headed home. My wife was still working on the driveway when I got home. I headed in to cook dinner and dinner and the driveway got finished about the same time. My wife and I were both exhausted.

Because I had a long commute today and I wanted to lift before work, I set my alarm for 4:00 this morning. I got up and ran the snowblower again, getting rid of the extra snow that had fallen overnight. Altogether, I think we got about 14" of snow.

I made it to the gym at 6:00, only to find out that the slacker college student who opens the place apparently didn't feel like showing up on time today. Just last week, I complained to the gym manager about employees being late, but the employees obviously don't care. At 6:15, she finally showed up and she managed to avoid the glares from the two of us who'd been waiting since 6:00. I had to fly through my workout to get to work on time, especially knowing that the roads were still snow-covered.

Tonight, I'm planning an easy 6-mile snowshoe run. However, an evil friend of mine told me that a great local bar has Stone's Double Bastard Ale on tap. I really should run, but I'd really rather have a beer with my friend.

Of course, in June, I don't want to have my WS wristband cut off at an aid station, leaving me thinking about how I was drinking beer when I should have been working out.

Besides, after I finish WS, I'm retiring from 100 milers. If I don't finish, I can't retire.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Snowshoe marathon - committed!

Before I had a chance to change my mind, I signed up for the snowshoe marathon on 3/7. It will be a perfect day of training for my pacing duties at Umstead in early April. I may have to talk to my boss at the mountain about taking that entire weekend off work.

Afraid to look at the forecast

On Sunday, we were hearing 4"-7" of snow for today. By Monday, it was 5"-10". When the winter storm warning got posted yesterday, it was 6"-12". By the end of the day, it was 7"-14". Then, 10"-16". Now, some parts of the state are expected to get 12"-20" and we're in that part of the state.

I'm not really afraid of the forecast and I'll really be glad for this snow when I ski on the weekend. A number of forecasters have compared the structure of this storm to the Valentine's Day storm of 2007, which is the biggest snowstorm I've ever seen. The mountain where I teach reported 59" from that storm. They won't get anywhere near that this time, mostly because this storm is only going to last 24 hours or so, rather than almost 48 hours, but the mountain could easily see more than two feet of snow.

I wish I could take the day off to go skiing tomorrow, but I really need to work.

Last night, I did a rare mid-winter road run after work. I got into work a little bit early and I was on the road after work by 4:30. I had to turn on my flashlight for the last mile or so, mostly when cars were coming towards me. My time was 58:31 for 6 miles. I can only run on the roads safely in the winter when it's been a while since our last snowstorm. I need the roads to be really clear and I need some daylight, because I don't want to be forced to dive into a snowbank if a car doesn't see me or doesn't feel like sharing the road. The roads were finally mostly clear, but it will be at least a week before that happens again.

This morning, I did 65 minutes on snowshoes on hilly terrain. The snowshoe trails were finally getting packed down enough that they are fast again, but today's storm will change that. Tonight, I'll do an easy hour on the treadmill and then work on snowblowing the driveway.

Last Wednesday, I pulled something in my left hamstring doing interval work. It bothered me off and on through the weekend, even when I was skiing. After my massage on Monday night, it was feeling better. Then, yesterday morning, I tweaked it again doing dumbbell snatches. This morning, it was really bothering me. I think I'm going to spend some time today sitting on a tennis ball to work on massaging the area where it's tight. That should either help or make things a lot worse. Either way, it will look ridiculous if anyone comes into my office and sees what I'm doing.

Best of luck to my friend Dr. Andy at the Pittsburgh Indoor Rowing Championships this weekend. He's had some great workouts recently and I'm sure he'll do very well.

Because the marathon in Albany that I've done many previous winters is during a busy time at the ski resort, I'm leaning towards attempting my first ever snowshoe marathon this year. The race is in March when the days will be longer and probably warmer. I think it actually rained for this race last year. There is a 10 hour time limit, and doing a slow snowshoe marathon will probably be better ultra training than doing a road marathon, mostly because I'll be out there longer. The downside is that the race is on a Saturday and I'd probably end up skiing the next day.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Massage and Rest Day

I spent an hour being tortured by a Swedish deep tissue masseur last night. There is a small massage practice right across the street from the hospital where I work, and I've had massages there before. But, to be honest, the owner is fairly gentle in her technique, and while the massages have been relaxing, I'm not sure they really helped with hot spots. But, the owner recently hired a deep tissue massage specialist and she suggested that I see him. Last night, the masseur kept murmuring out loud when he found a spot that was "interesting". He would then proceed to work on that spot until he was satisfied or I begged for mercy.

I was planning to lift after the massage, but instead decided to just take a rest day and lift this morning. I looked at my training logs this morning, and my last complete rest day was Christmas Day. I had a couple days where I only skied and didn't ski very hard, but I had either run, lifted or skied each of the prior 31 days until yesterday. That might explain my recent comments about being tired.

This morning, I started the 4th week of the current 9-week lifting cycle I'm doing. Each workout starts with a dynamic movement where I'm gradually increasing the weight and number of sets and decreasing the reps. This morning, I dropped to 4x4 (from 3x5) of dumbbell snatches to start the workout. After that, most of my sets were 2x20 with short rest intervals. To do all 20 reps without a rest requires using very low weights. For incline bench presses, I used about 50% of my 1-rep max. For squats, I used about 40% of my 1-rep max.

Tonight, I'm going to try a road run after work. The days are getting longer and I think I can get in at least 30 minutes on the roads before I'll need to turn on my flashlight. My plan is to run for an hour, so I'll wear a reflective vest and blinking lights so I'm visible in the later part of my run.

Late tonight, a winter storm warning goes into effect. We are expecting 7"-14" of new snow by the time the storm is finished. I'm planning a snowshoe run tomorrow morning and my evening workout tomorrow will probably be clearing the driveway.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Tired and Old

I'm amazed at how beat up I feel right now. It seems to me that I'm not doing nearly the volume of exercise I've done in past winters, yet I feel tired and beat up all the time.

Friday after work, I went out for a snowshoe run. The day had gotten warm and the snow was soft. It took me 75 minutes to cover 4 miles. It seemed like every step the snowshoes would sink into the soft snow and slip back a bit. It wasn't my slowest time for this loop this winter, but it was also far from my fastest.

I skied both days this weekend, but my total volume of skiing wasn't that high. It was simply too windy and too cold to be outside all day. Saturday morning, we got in three fast runs in training. But, in my 5.5 hours with my group of girls, we only did 6 runs. The wind chill just made them too uncomfortable and my top two priorities when I'm teaching are safety and fun. So, we took lots of breaks and we had a fun day, but not a truly difficult day.

Sunday morning training was done very quickly. It was even colder and windier than Saturday, but the snow guns had been blowing on a steep double-black diamond run for almost 24 hours and we had to ski it. The run was amazing - soft silky snow, sweet easy turns - very forgiving despite the steepness of the run. We had to do it again despite how cold we were.

With my ski group, we skied a warm-up run and then I took them to the double-black run. We skied it once and they loved it. We skied it again and they still loved it. But, everyone was freezing. The chair rides were almost unbearable for children. So, I took them to the gym for the afternoon and we spent some time on the climbing wall and some time in the pool. At 3:00 when I handed them back to their parents, they were safe and happy.

So, despite an easier-than-normal ski weekend, I'm still sore. My left hamstring is sore from interval work last week. My right elbow and wrist are still sore and not really improving. My left Achilles is a bit sore from being stretched on an awkward ski turn on Saturday.

Today, I slept in. Tonight, I'm going for a deep tissue massage, seeing someone I've never seen before. I think I need to spend more time with my foam roller, working on some of the sore spots on my body.

Last week, I lifted twice, skied twice, and ran/snowhoed for 6 hours and 20 minutes. My goal for the week had been 5-7 hours, so I hit that. I shouldn't feel so tired and beat up from that, unless I'm getting old.

Friday, January 23, 2009


I ran 6 slow miles on the Lake Champlain bike path after work last night. The footing wasn't bad, but it was uneven enough that I ran pretty slowly. I could tell during the run that I was just plain beat. I guess that whole routine of working and working out non-stop through the winter takes its toll.

After my run, I stopped for some dinner before driving home. I really felt like having a beer, but I thought about Western States and my need to lose some weight, and I skipped it. The waiter did his best to sell me alcohol and dessert, but I held my ground.

I didn't get home until 9:30 and I tried to read for a while after I got home, but I was falling asleep. This morning, when the alarm went off for my pre-work workout, I turned off the alarm and went back to sleep for 2 more hours.

Tonight after work, I'll do an hour on the treadmill or an hour of snowshoeing - whichever seems more appealing at the time.

This weekend, I'm scheduled to work as a trainer at the mountain. We do training between 8:00 and 9:00 in the morning on the weekends. We have lots of less experienced instructors who are "required" to show up for these training sessions, and they get paid for being there. I need to be ready to provide some useful training to a diverse group in a short amount of time. I like the fact that I've been around long enough and I'm trusted enough to be a trainer to other instructurs. At the same time, I always feel pressure to provide high quality training to my peers.

When I'm teaching the kids, I know that my skiing knowledge is way ahead of theirs. When training peers, even less experienced peers, that gap is much smaller, or non-existent in some cases.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Easy run and weights this morning

More typical training days. I did an easy 45 minute run last night on the treadmill. This morning, I lifted for about 45 minutes. I did jump squats, wide-grip lat pulldowns, single arm DB push presses, Romanian deadlifts, Bulgarian split squats, side planks and reverse crunches. I cut the prescribed rest periods so I'd make it to work on time. The rent-a-cop who unlocks the gym was late, so I got a late start this morning.

I'll run an easy 6 outside tonight. Tomorrow, I'll run 10. Then, like usual, I'll ski all weekend.

I'm starting to think I might be able to run the marathon in Albany next month. I thought it was at the beginning of the Presidents' Day holiday week, but it's at the end. That day tends to be less busy at the ski mountain, so maybe I can take a day off to run a marathon.

Not much else is going on. With 60+ hours of work every week between my 3 jobs, plus my workouts, this time of year is basically work, eat, sleep, work out, and that's about it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Intervals and Easy Run

I decided to do interval work on the treadmill last night rather than do a second snowshoe run for the day. It was a pretty easy interval workout - a one mile warm-up, and then 6 quarters, with a quarter mile recovery. I didn't run very fast - just under a 7mpm pace per quarter mile. I just want to make sure that as I increase my mileage over the next few months that I don't lose all of the speed I built through the fall.

This morning, I felt tired, but I did another easy 4 miles. It was -14F outside - way colder than yesterday, and I didn't want to risk frostbite of the toes, so I ran inside again. After the new snowshoe booties arrive, I'll be running outside in temps like this morning. I'll run for another hour or so tonight.

I looked at the website of the Hudson Mohawk Road Runners Club yesterday. They have a winter marathon that I've run a number of times. I think I've run it 5 times and if I ran it one more time, it would break a tie with the California International Marathon as my most-run marathon. But, the race is on 2/22 this year and that's a holiday period at the ski mountain. I can't really justify asking for a day off when we're at peak capacity at the mountain. So, I'm looking for an early March marathon somewhere in the northeast - just a chance to stretch my long run and do it outside on the roads rather than on a treadmill. I really want to get in two runs of 25-30 miles in March so that I'm ready to pace at Umstead in April. I can handle one of those on the treadmill if I have to, but I'd rather get outside for at least one of them.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Masters of War

I tend to stay away from politics on this blog, unless I mention politics local to my small town here in Vermont. Today, as I watched the inauguration, I had the lyrics to a Bob Dylan song in my head, as I thought of the outgoing power brokers.

The song isn't very charitable in any way, and while I find it goes beyond what I feel about certain people, it comes pretty close:

"Masters of War" - by Bob Dylan

Come you masters of war
You that build all the guns
You that build the death planes
You that build all the bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks.

You that never done nothin'
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it's your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly.

Like Judas of old
You lie and deceive
A world war can be won
You want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain.

You fasten all the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion'
As young people's blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud.

You've thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain't worth the blood
That runs in your veins.

How much do I know
To talk out of turn
You might say that I'm young
You might say I'm unlearned
But there's one thing I know
Though I'm younger than you
That even Jesus would never
Forgive what you do.

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes it's toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul.

And I hope that you die
And your death'll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I'll watch while you're lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I'll stand over your grave
'Til I'm sure that you're dead.

Cold morning of snowshoeing

I lifted last night, fighting the crowds at the gym. We got to the gym a bit later than normal and the place was packed. I started with dumbbell snatches, using 45# DBs. After one set, someone else grabbed the only pair of 45s, so I tried a 50 for the second set. I was able to do the second and third set with the 50 pounder and I may try 55 next week.

My next set was squats and some idiot was doing barbell shoulder shrugs in the squat rack. Most gyms have only one, or at most two, squat racks. The squat racks are supposed to be used for squats. Rack pulls are fine too. But it's a common practice for some people to find the squat rack convenient for another lift, and they then lock up a piece of equipment that they don't need while others wait for it. The worst is when people do barbell bicep curls in a squat rack. But, shoulder shrugs are just as bad and the guy could have done them anywhere else he wanted. Eventually I got into the rack and did a superset of 4x10 squats and 4x10 step-ups. Then, a superset of 4x10 incline bench presses and barbell rows. Then, some cable woodchops and some 3-point planks. I was exhausted by the time I finished.

I slept a lot better last night than I have recently, and I got up at 5:00 for a pre-dawn snowshoe run. My legs were tired and I was just plain cold this morning. The temperature was 6F when I finished. The biggest problem I'm having is with my feet. I don't have any shoes designed for winter running and all of my trail shoes just don't keep me warm enough. I've been debating buying snowshoe booties or a Goretex running shoe, and finally decided on the booties today. Crescent Moon makes a snowshoe bootie that ZombieRunner carries, and it costs less than half of what a Goretex-lined running shoe would cost. Now, if I can just stop my toes from freezing solid until the booties get here...

I'll go out for another easy hour of snowshoe running tonight. After being on the treadmill all week last week, I want to get outside as much as possible this week.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Weekend Wrap-up

I ran 10 miles on the treadmill Friday after work. That brought me to 15 for the day and 32 for the week. I hadn't run that many miles in a day or week since the day/week of my marathon in early November. Overall, I felt fine with the distance, although I've slowed down my pace as I've started to add some miles.

Saturday morning was nowhere near as cold as Friday morning, but it was still cold outside. My family skipped skiing that day, but I needed to be at work, so I went to the mountain. I spent the day with the kids taking one ski run and then going inside to warm up. We managed to avoid any frostbite and despite skiing fewer vertical feet than normal, we had a good day.

Three new girls joined my ski group this weekend, which means I'm now the coach for a group of 10 girls. On Saturday, only 7 of them were skiing, so it was pretty easy to maintain control of the group. On Sunday, 9 of the 10 showed up and I knew the mountain was going to be very busy. I grabbed my son as a second coach for my group, so I got to ski with both of my children for the day, plus 8 other little girls. As the groups get larger, it becomes harder and harder to give individual attention to each child, but I still think we had a good day. One of the toughest things about a large group is when we meet at a stopping point and I'm one student short of the number I should have. A few times yesterday, I counted 8 helmets and then I'd stand there trying to figure out which of the 9 girls was missing for the moment. Usually, the 9th helmet would ski around the corner before I could even figure out who was missing. One time, it was my own daughter who was the last one down the hill and I still couldn't figure out who I was missing before she arrived.

One of the highlights of the day was a race between me and my son. The girls wanted to see us race each other, and I knew what the result would be before we even took off. My son is a very good skier who started skiing at age 5. I'm an old guy who skied for the first time when I was 18, and I got serious about skiing 10 years ago. I beat him occasionally in the race course, but I would guess that he wins 80% of the time.

Yesterday, he smoked me on the course and the girls all thought it was hilarious. I had a terrible run and I'm afraid to go to the NASTAR web site to see how I did.

Because today is a holiday for many people, most of the girls were staying at the mountain to ski one more day. I gave each parent some "homework" for today - something to remind their child about as the families ski together for the day.

I didn't sleep well last night despite being exhausted. It seemed like I just couldn't fall asleep. I've never had insomnia issues in my life, but my sleep has been erratic the past few weeks. Some nights, I'll fall asleep early and then wake up at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning, and have a hard time going back to sleep. I don't think I'm overtraining right now, and I'll mention it to my doctor when my annual physical finally happens, but I don't think it's a big deal. I certainly don't want any drugs to make me fall asleep or stay asleep. I'd rather my body tell me when it wants to sleep and when it doesn't.

Tonight after work, my wife and I will go to the gym to lift. The gym has been really crowded lately with the "resolutionaries", but things should start to slow down in a week or two. Because of the holiday, I'm hoping things will be quiet tonight.

My plans for this week include two lifting sessions, 5-7 hours of running, and 2 days of skiing. Next week, I'll bump the running time up a bit.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Easy five to start the day

It was -29F this morning, so I chose to run inside. When I lived in Alaska, I ran outside in temps that low a few times, but I just didn't feel like it today, despite the lack of wind. Tonight, I'll run another 10 treadmill miles before a cold weekend of skiing.

My annual physical is scheduled for later this morning. One of the perks here at the hospital where I work is a free annual physical. It would "only" cost me $25 for a co-pay without that benefit, but I don't complain about the free visit.

Well, strike that. The phone just rang and my doctor is out sick today. So, no physical for me today. It will probably take them months to find another opening. I scheduled this visit months ago.

Over the weekend, the temperature is supposed to moderate slightly. I think that my wife and daughter are going to skip skiing tomorrow, but my son and I need to be there. Despite the cold weather, it's a holiday weekend and the mountain will be busy, so my son and I will both be busy working. After this weekend, the mountain will be a bit less crowded until Presidents' Day weekend. Hopefully, we'll get some new snow soon. Our last real snow was last Sunday and there are no big storms on the horizon right now.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


I didn't want to do it. I profess to hate electronic gizmos. But today, I waited in line 90 minutes to get an iPhone. I'm still playing with it and it seems like a nice toy, but I hope it ends up being useful too.

I ran for an hour last night, taking me to 2 hours for the day. This morning, I lifted before work. I've gotten up really early the last two days, but this is likely to be the norm for the next few months.

Tomorrow, my goal is to run twice for a total of 15 miles.

Time to get some work done. It was a long lunch break to wait in line for the newest toy.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Treadmill miles

My knee seems just fine on the treadmill and that's where I ran last night and this morning. I did an easy hour last night after work and another hour before work this morning. After work today, I probably have time for another 45 minutes or so on the treadmill. I'm curious how it will feel when I'm skiing this coming weekend, but I think it's going to be fine.

It looks like my attempts to gain early morning access to a treadmill are not going to work out. In the past, I've been allowed to have keys to two different places, and I could start long runs very early in the morning during the winter. A few times each winter, I'd start a long run at 3:00 in the morning and still make it to work on time. But, one of the two places is no longer in business and the owner of the second place has decided he doesn't want any off-hours access to the facility.

This means that I can't get to a treadmill before 6:00 a.m. at the earliest. I can start earlier if I'm running outside though. I've never done a long snowshoe run in the dark, but I think I see that happening in the near future.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Good workout, old body

My weight workout went well last night. I increased the weight on dumbbell snatches, a lift I did for the first time ever a week ago. Snatches are a much more dynamic move than most lifts and I'm really enjoying them.

After the snatches, the rest of my workout was sets of 5x5, so the weights were significantly higher than last week when I did 2x20s. Overall, the workout went very well and I was exhausted when I was done.

At home, while cooking dinner, I slipped in my kitchen on a wet floor, and did something to my left knee. This is the same knee that had ACL reconstruction surgery almost 7 years ago, and it feels like I tweaked something in the lateral meniscus. It didn't swell up, but I can really feel it when I change directions when walking.

I opted to skip my snowshoe run this morning, figuring that the uneven terrain would bother the knee a lot. Plus, I felt like I was still catching up on sleep, so I slept from 9:30 until 6:45 this morning - a long night of sleep for me. I'm going to try running on the treadmill tonight, where the footing will be nice and safe. If that bothers me, I'll ride the Lifecycle instead. Because a deep freeze is arriving tonight with high winds, I was planning to run indoors most of the rest of the week. With what I did to my knee last night, it's probably best to stay on a smooth surface for a few days anyway.

This morning, I just felt old. My left knee is tweaked. My right wrist and right elbow are also still sore from a skiing fall I took weeks ago. If I wasn't skiing or lifting, the wrist and elbow would probably be fine by now. If I didn't ski, maybe they would never have gotten hurt to begin with. The soreness isn't impeding my lifting or skiing, but I don't think it's letting things heal either. The skiing each weekend bothers the wrist. Pole plants really seem to irritate it.

On another note, this Thursday is a day that many Vermonters have been waiting for. Currently, there are two states where iPhones are not sold. Users of iPhones who come to Vermont are OK because AT&T has been piggybacking on Unicel's network. But, we've been unable to buy them in state because Unicel and Verizon dominated the market and AT&T had no presence. Last year, Verizon bought Unicel and it looked like the iPhone was never going to make it to the state. But, someone challenged the deal in Vermont courts because it would have given Verizon a virtual monopoly on cell service in the state. The result was that Verizon sold the Vermont portion of Unicel to AT&T.

On Thursday, iPhones become available in VT. I have to admit that I resisted getting a cell phone for years. Finally, after a terrible travel snafu on the way home from Western States in 2006, my wife and I decided that we needed to get a cell phone. We've had a bare bones model with bare bones service for 2.5 years. But, with our children growing up and spending time with friends away from home a lot, we want to be able to reach them and they want cell phones so they can play texting games with their friends.

So, on Thursday, I'm likely to spend some time in a line to get an iPhone for me, and two less exciting phones for my children.

It was just 4 or 5 years ago that I was an anti-tech person, even though I work with computers for a living. I didn't own a microwave. I had no TV channels. No cell phone. An old tube TV. Dial-up internet access.

Now, I have a microwave, an LCD HDTV, a BluRay DVD player, HD DirecTV, two XM radios, and now I'm going to buy an iPhone. My friend Jim recently questioned whether or not I was even really a Vermonter anymore with all those toys. Maybe he'll be happy to hear that I still have dial-up internet because no other options exist. To be honest, I think I'd trade all of those other toys for broadband internet.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Exhausting Weekend

Friday night, I did 8 miles on the treadmill after work. I did the first 6 at an easy pace and then the next two miles at a gradually faster pace, ending up at a 7:30 pace. After that, I went home, cooked dinner, and worked for a couple hours on my "second" job.

Saturday, I was up early to head to the ski mountain - my "third" job. I taught skiing all day, and then we went to a birthday party. Three ski instructors and the wife of a 4th instructor all have early January birthdays. So, we get together for a nice dinner every year to celebrate our birthdays. We had some nice wines and beers, and suddenly, it was midnight. I got to sleep at 1:00 a.m. or so, and I was back up at 6:00 to go skiing again.

The storm that affected southern New England on Saturday night and Sunday morning was not supposed to come this far north. Every forecaster but one was saying that at most, we'd get a dusting of snow. But one guy, a blogger had spent all week saying we would have 8"-12" of new snow on Sunday. It's kind of funny that on Saturday he backed down on that forecast somewhat, because his original forecast was correct. We arrived at the mountain yesterday to find 8" of fluffy new snow on the ground and it was still snowing. We ended up with 10" officially.

So, I was tired and probably a bit dehydrated, and I was faced with an amazing ski day. The girls in my group wanted to ski hard, and we did. Normally, the mornings are about some warm-up runs, a little teaching and practice, but overall, the mornings are fairly relaxed. We tend to ski hardest in the afternoons.

But, yesterday morning, the girls were demanding to ski one of my favorite trails at the mountain. It's a steep, twisty double-black diamond run off the summit and it's all natural snow. It was fun, but I arrived at lunch soaked from working hard in the morning. In the afternoon, the girls wanted to ski off trails and in the trees. So, we did that. At 3:00, when the girls were picked up by their parents, I really wanted to ski some more of the new snow. But, I was shot. So, we headed home. I almost fell asleep driving home, yet I knew I had to snowblow the driveway as soon as I got home. Luckily, it was fluffy snow and the driveway was clear in less than 45 minutes. Then, I cooked dinner and I wanted to go to bed. But, my second job still required some work. I worked two hours on the computer until I simply couldn't stay awake any more.

I'd planned a 4 mile snowshoe run this morning, but when the alarm went off at 4:45, I was simply too tired - physically and sleep-wise - to get out of bed. I'll adjust my running days later in the week to make up the four miles so I get to my target of 35 for this week.

I will lift tonight after work though - no complete rest days at this time of year.

Later this week, it's going to get bitterly cold here for a few days - some of the coldest temperatures we've seen in the past few winters. Regretfully, the cold weather is going to extend into next weekend - a holiday weekend that usually sees huge crowds at the mountain.

Oh yeah, last week I ran 27 miles, lifted twice, and skied twice. That weekly mileage total will be gradually increasing over the next 10-12 weeks, until I get to about 60 miles per week. After ski season is over, I'll be able to do some trail work, and I'll eventually get to about 80 miles per week in May.

Western States seems close already and I have a lot of work to do.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Snowy 8 miler

I headed out to run 8 miles after work last night. It was very cold and windy and I started by running into the wind. Within a quarter mile, I was freezing and thinking about quitting. I was worried about frostbite. But, I decided to push on to a spot where some trees would protect me a bit from the wind coming off Lake Champlain. When I got there, things were better, but my hands were still cold.

I decided I'd at least run out two miles and see how I felt. By the two mile mark, I was warm except for my hands and they were getting better. So, I decided I could at least get to the three mile mark before I turned around. On the way to the three mile mark, I started to negotiate with myself a bit. There is a nice little Mexican restaurant right near where I'd parked my car. I told myself that if I made 8 miles, I could stop there for dinner and a margarita before heading home. I think that gave me the motivation to continue for 8 miles.

The entire run was done on snow and my time was slow. But overall, I felt pretty strong despite being cold. I'm concerned about next Thursday, when I'll be working in Burlington again. The temperatures are supposed to plummet on the back-side of a Tuesday snowstorm and next Thursday might not get above 0F. On the days I work in Burlington, I have a 60+ mile commute each direction. The gym doesn't open until 6:00 in the morning and I have no shower at work. So, scheduling a quality workout on that day is tough unless I do it outside and after dark. So, I guess I'll need warmer clothes next week.

Yesterday, I got some new tights from CWX. They offer a pro price on the tights to members of PSIA and I'd asked for two pairs for Christmas. They arrived late for Christmas, but I got them yesterday. I got one pair of their tights for cold weather and I'll use them for winter running and for skiing. I got a lighter pair that I'll use for running on less cold days. I really liked how they feel when I tried them on. I've been skeptical of some of the claims about reduced fatigue, but the pro price made them affordable enough that I can give them a try. I'll report back on how they work after I've had a chance to ski and run in them a few times.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Weights last night

Just getting to the gym was a challenge last night, due to the weather. But, we made it and the gym wasn't crowded. Last night's workout started with sets of jump squats. Having never done them before, I did warm-ups with no weight at all and then did the sets with just a 45# bar. Next week, I think I'll try 65#.

The rest of the workout was 2x20s with short rest. High reps, lower weights, and short rest = labored breathing and lots of sweat. I was done with my workout before my wife, and I spent 20 minutes just laying on a mat recovering.

After the workout, I had some consulting work to do and dinner to cook, so my wife was nice enough to run the snowblower. I'll run it a second time when I get home from work tonight.

I'll run 60-80 minutes after work tonight, in darkness on the bike path beside Lake Champlain. Tomorrow, I'm hoping to run in the morning and at night.

Next week, it looks like we have a chance for two snowstorms and one of them could be big. After the second storm, the temps will plummet and our nighttime lows could reach -20F to -30F for a few days. Time to crank up the wood stove.

I hate the scale. I feel like I'm never going to lose any weight, no matter how I eat. It's frustrating.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Precision Nutrition

I've mentioned in the past that I use Precision Nutrition as the basis for my daily eating habits. Well, to be honest, I try to use it. Heading into Western States last year, I was using the system very well and I got my BF% down to 13% and I was as lean and strong as I'd been in a few years. Then, after WS was cancelled, I went back to my more typical bad diet, which included refined carbs and too much alcohol. I ended the year at just over 200 pounds and at about 20% BF. Not good at all - a gain of 20 pounds of weight and most of it was fat rather than muscle.

So, starting late last year, I signed up for a 6-month team-coaching program through Precision Nutrition. There is a separate coaching program for men and women, and we are about 6 weeks into a 6-month program. We have a daily lesson and most days, we have a homework assignment. One of our recent lessons was about portion size, and as a result, we had to photograph all the food we ate for a day.

A primary goal of PN is that each meal contains a veggie and a lean protein, and foods with lots of carbs are limited to during or immediately after workouts. I had a good eating day on Monday, so I thought I'd post what I ate here as well. My workout was in the evening on Monday, so my post-workout meal with carbs came as meal number 5 (of 6) that day.

Breakfast: 2 eggs, cooked in coconut oil, with sauteed onions and bell peppers:

Mid-morning snack: Celery and carrots and a scoop of Metabolic Drive protein powder:

Lunch: 1 chicken sausage, 1 baked chicken wing, lots of broccoli:

Mid-afternoon snack: Dry-roasted mixed nuts and an orange:

Dinner (post work-out): Soup made with garlic, leeks, chicken stock, tomatoes, chicken sausage, olive oil, and green lentils:

Pre-bedtime snack: Celery stick with natural (no sugar, no fat added) peanut butter:

I wish I could say I was this compliant with my food choices everyday, but this is what I strive to do. Yesterday was another fully compliant day, and today has been compliant so far. The overall goal of the program is to be compliant 90% of the time, and have those "cheats" be reasonable. It's not always easy, but it's something I'm constantly working on.

Interval work and snowshoe run (but not at the same time)

Last night, I did 6 easy quarter mile intervals on the treadmill as part of a 4-mile workout. My pace was about 7mpm for each repeat - not all out, but it was work.

This morning, I did 50 minutes of snowshoe running before work, running in a couple inches of new snow. It looks like our snow is about to turn to sleet and maybe some freezing rain later today. People to the south of us are going to get hit by another ice storm - at least their third such storm this winter so far.

The ski resorts to the north seem like they'll do fine in this storm, with over a foot of new snow.

If the gym doesn't close early due to the weather (the local schools are closed), I'll lift tonight. But, roads in VT and NH are all in pretty bad shape right now.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Weights last night, snowshoe run this morning

I started a new lifting cycle last night. This cycle will last for 9 weeks, lifting just twice per week. Each workout is a full-body workout, unlike the last cycle. The primary purpose of this cycle is to maintain strength while droping body fat.

Last night started with dumbbell snatches. I had never done snatches before, and I warmed up with light weights until I got comfortable with the movement. By the time I got the lift down, I was really enjoying them. After that, I did some squats and step-ups for my legs, some bent-over rows and incline bench presses for my upper body, and then woodchops and 3-point planks for my core. It was a fairly quick and hard workout.

This morning, I went out for a snowshoe run before work. For the first time this year, a common 4-mile loop that I use was in "fast" shape. The loop was mostly icy or a crust over compacted snow, and I finished the loop in under an hour for the first time this season.

Tonight, I'll do some treadmill interval work - short and hard.

Later tonight, a 2-day snowstorm will start. I should still be able to do a snowshoe run tomorrow morning, but tomorrow night's workout might be running the snowblower rather than lifting. Total accumulations from the storm should range from 6"-14", and the ski resorts may see more than that.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Last year's resolutions

I refused to make any resolutions for this year. I have goals for the year, but the whole "resolution" thing just doesn't make sense. Instead, I'm trying to work on some good habits that don't require a new "resolution" every year. Plus, the statistics on how people do with resolutions are pretty pathetic. But, last year, I posted six resolutions. I'll summarize each and discuss how I did with them:

1) When I weigh in for the race on 6/27, I will either be at 12% BF or lower OR I will be at 175 pounds or lower.

I was at 182 pounds and just over 13% BF when I got to WS. So, I just missed this.

2)Over the next six months, every workout, every meal, every skipped alcoholic beverage, every supplement, and every night of sleep will be dedicated to getting ready for this race.

If I had truly done this, I would have met goal #1. I came close, but like #1, not quite.

3) While I focus on my race prep, my family will still come first in my life.

I certainly did this last year. I think. Maybe I should have my wife "guest-blog" her response to this.

4) As much as I love skiing and teaching skiing, I will reduce my number of skiing days this winter to focus on this race.

I did this, skiing the fewest days I've skied in almost a decade. I typically ski about 50 days per year, and I'll teach 40 of those. The other days are free skiing or PSIA clinics. Last year, I skied only 39 days, and the first 37 days were teaching or training for teaching. My first "free skiing" day of the season occurred in April. I took no PSIA clinics last year, which means I'm required to take one this year to maintain my certification.

5) After the Western States race is over, I will not revert to bad habits for the next 6 months. I will maintain or improve the results of goal #1 through the end of the calendar year.

Fail, fail, fail. I ended the year with my body fat percentage just barely under 20%. I added muscle mass in the second half of the year, and but I added body fat as well, and my weight is close to 200 pounds right now. These changes certainly affected my marathon in early November.

6) I will recognize when I am overtraining and I will rest when I need to do that.

I was successful with this one and I had a relatively healthy year overall. I took my annual downtime at the end of the year and enjoyed a break from running. My November and December mileage totals were pretty low and I ran my typical yearly mileage - 1725. That's about my average for the past 4 years, although it's less than the 2500 miles/year I averaged in 2003-2004 - the years I ran Wasatch and Hardrock. This year, I have a "target" number of 1200 miles that I would like to run between now and the start of Western States. That's well below the 1500 I ran in the six months before Hardrock, but it should be adequate for me to run well at WS.

Another goal I had for the year was to lift weights 100 times or more. I lifted on 12/29, and when I logged it in my spreadsheet, I realized that it was my 100th lifting day of the year. I hadn't paid special attention to getting to this goal, but it happened. And, I ended the year much stronger than the previous year.

So far, in this calendar year, I've mostly skied. I did a 3.5 mile treadmill interval workout on New Year's Day after some brief morning skiing, and then just skied the past 3 days. Tonight, I'll start my next lifting cycle - a cycle focused on full body workouts and fat loss. Tomorrow, I'll start to get serious about my running for the year. I'm hoping to mostly do snowshoe runs in the morning and then speedwork in the evenings on the treadmill. Every other Friday, I'll do a longer treadmill run, probably starting at 15 miles or so next week, and building to 30 miles by the end of March.

It looks like I'll be pacing at Umstead the weekend after I'm finished with my ski teaching for the year, so I will need to get my mileage up to 30 or so to be ready for a slow 50 at Umstead.