Tuesday, March 31, 2009

New Toy

Well, it's a used new toy, not really new.

It's a 2004 Felt F45 road bike.

A co-worker was looking to sell this bike because it doesn't fit him quite right. I was looking for a high quality bike, but didn't want to spend the money for a new bike.

Many years ago, my primary racing focus was triathlons. In 1991 or so, I decided that I really loved running and I hated swimming, so I changed my focus to road running. A few years later, I found ultras and I've been doing them ever since. But, I really enjoy road riding and I've missed it. And, a decade ago, I lent my road/tri bike to someone and never got it back. So, I have been riding my mountain bike at times for cross-training purposes, but I have never really enjoyed mountain biking as much as road riding.

In 2002, when I tore my ACL, I borrowed a bike from a co-worker and rode a lot as part of my rehab. I even did a triathlon that year. I thought about buying that bike from my co-worker, but it never worked out. But, last fall, when my current co-worker mentioned that he was going to sell his road bike, we started talking. And, during ski season, I saved my paychecks to I could buy the bike from him.

On Sunday, I have an appointment with a bike shop called FitWerx. They specialize in bike fitting and people come to their shop from all over New England to make sure that their current bike is set up as perfectly as possible, or to get measured so that their next bike fits them perfectly. It's kind of expensive to get the fitting done, but I think it will be worth it to have a nice bike that is perfectly adjusted to my body.

Of course, in the next 13 weeks, my focus really needs to be runnning and that's not going to change. I'm likely to use the bike mostly on days that would have been rest days or days where I might ride rather than do a short, easy run.

Speaking of running, I'm planning a 10.5 miler home from work today. I lifted last night. My plan for the week is to lift 3x, run 3x (10.5, 12, and 24 or so on trails), and perhaps ski easily for half a day on Sunday. Over the next few weeks, I want to build my weekly mileage so that I'm consistently over 50 miles. Then, in May, I'll do some 70-80 mile weeks.

My first ultra of the season is a 50K in just under 3 weeks.

Monday, March 30, 2009


So, I'm done teaching skiing for the season. Next Saturday morning, I'll hop in my car and drive to MA for a long run on trails. I'm really looking forward to that. Next Sunday, I will sleep in and then spend a few hours skiing at a leisurely pace with my family. That should be fun too.

Teaching skiing can be stressful at times as well. The past two weekends, I had 10 students per day. Some of them were feeling the effects of a long season and they weren't skiing well and they didn't really want to be there. One girl in particular, who had perfectly well behaved all season, simply fell apart the past two weekends. She was physically tired, mentally tired, and she was not having fun. My job is to make sure she doesn't get hurt and that she has fun. So, for the most part, I dialed back the intensity the past two weekends. For some of the girls, though, this was not what they wanted. They wanted to push hard. The girls were arguing over which trails to ski. Some wanted only easy terrain. Others wanted only hard terrain. The past two weekends felt more like work than play.

Our season ended at noon yesterday. It was raining yesterday, so we didn't ski a whole lot. After our last run, we had a party for the kids. Yesterday was the 10th birthday of one of the girls in my group. We had a cake for her. I handed out end of season evaluations. For the most part, my group will return next year. But, I had to recommend that a couple girls change instructors for next year. One of the girls is amazingly well behaved. Her parents are involved and interested in her progress. She's my best skier. And, it's time for her to move to a more challenging group so that she'll continue to progress. I really like skiing with her. She really likes the girls in the group. I had a conversation with her yesterday where I told her all of the good things about her behavior and skiing. And then, I suggested she ski with a different coach next year. It wasn't her first choice, but I think she understood why I made the recommendation. But, after multiple seasons of skiing with a child, there's an attachment. It's tough to sever that bond.

So, I'm glad to have my weekends back. But, I'll spend the spring, summer and fall missing the kids with whom I skied for the past four months. And, next December, most of them will return to hang out with me for another winter.

One of the girls in my group asked me partway through the season what my most favorite and least favorite seasons are. I told her that spring is my least favorite season. She asked why. I told her that I loved winter for the skiing. I love summer for the racing season. I love autumn for the changing leaves, the first feel of cold in the air, and the trail running over fallen leaves. I told her that spring was my least favorite season.

She argued with me, giving me the "rebirth" argument - leaves, flowers, grass, etc. I understand that argument. What I didn't tell her is that every spring, I have to say goodbye to my youngest friends for the next few seasons, and that is a hard thing for me to do at times.

Friday, March 27, 2009


My wife tells me that I rarely smile. She says that some of our co-workers say the same thing about me.

However, on the weekends, when I'm teaching skiing, my wife says that I am smiling every time she sees me. A coach who has been a tremendous mentor to me calls me "Smiley" all the time when we're at the mountain.

I do love skiing, I love skiing with little kids, and I feel very free and relaxed when I'm on the mountain with my students. But, what about the rest of the time?

Last night, I ran 12 miles after work, and I spent the whole run thinking about smiling. I wasn't smiling while I was running, just thinking about it.

Despite fighting depression, which I've mentioned before, I think I'm a fairly happy person overall. My depression is fairly well controlled, but I'm not over-medicated to the point of being ebulliently happy all the time, if such a thing is even possible.

Last night, while running, I was having fun. I was tired from my workouts earlier in the week, and I worked hard to maintain a decent pace through the run. It was work, but it was fun. As I saw other runners out there, I was wondering how many people go out for double-digit mileage runs mid-week, except serious marathoners and us crazy ultra-runners.

But, despite the fact that it was fun, I wasn't smiling. I went out to dinner after my run, and three people from another state were talking loudly. One of the three tried to pick up 3 different females in the time it took me to eat dinner. Each of the three people from out of state was talking about how wonderful it is to visit Vermont, but the people are "backward" and "uneducated" and there are no good jobs here. Their uninformed prejudice probably should have made me laugh. Instead, it made me angry. Despite having some good food to enjoy after my run, I wasn't smiling.

David Burns, in his book about cognitive behavior theory, claims that no one else can make us angry. It is only our own individual reactions to others' behaviors that can make us angry.

Maybe I should spend more time focusing on those things that make me happy, and a lot more time ignoring the things that don't make me happy and that I can't control.

Despite all the books I've read about Buddhism in my life, I think I have a long way to go before I can let go of so many things. If I did that, maybe I'd smile more.

One place that my wife doesn't see me, but where I do smile a lot is when I'm running an ultra in a beautiful location. I think I smiled for most of Hardrock and most of Wasatch, just struck by the beauty of the courses. I smile when I'm on the VT100 course too. I smiled for a lot of WS, at least until my race fell apart, a few years ago. Maybe I just need to run and ski and get rid of working for a living. Of course, if I did that, my wife would never smile again.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Now vs. 2005

In 2005, I got pulled from Western States at mile 93.5, after missing the cut-off. I missed it by a fair amount, but mostly because once I knew I couldn't make it, I really backed off on the big hill to the aid station. My training could have been a lot better in 2005 and yet, I almost finished WS. Of course, despite the high snow levels early in the race, conditions that year were very nice overall, with lower-than-average temperatures. Plus, the easy way around Duncan Canyon was still in use. So, I clearly need to be in better shape this year than I was that year. I also need to avoid running a 50 miler three weeks before WS, which I stupidly did in 2005. Late in the race in 2005, the fatigue of the 50 really caught up to me, causing me to slow dramatically more than I have in any other 100.

I was looking at my training log from 2005 yesterday, to compare where I was at this time that year, to where I am right now. I took a look at 2005 mostly because I know I'm lagging a bit on my training from last year, and I wanted to compare this year to another year I was entered in WS. Maybe I just wanted to make myself feel better about this year's training.

I had a few training issues in 2005. I broke a rib while skiing that year, on 3/12, which cost me some miles in March. I skied about the same number of days that year that I'll end up with this year - 50 or so. I lifted less that year, although I did some Nautilus work that in retrospect didn't do much for me. I cross-trained more that year, using elliptical machines, bikes, and stair climbers.

My first run of 20 or more miles in 2005 came at the DRB50K in mid-April. I've done two runs of 20 or longer already this year and I'll do one more before I run DRB next month.

I had my annual week off of running because I got sick that year, and it happened again this year.

Overall, my training pace is significantly faster this year than it was in 2005. I attribute that to my marathon training last fall and my continued interval work, even though there isn't a lot of it recently.

I was lighter at this point in time in 2005 than I am right now, although my BF% is probably lower right now.

I am obviously 4 years older.

So, what does any of that mean? Probably not too much. I think that there's no way I can even think about sub-24 at WS. I'm just not close to fit enough to consider it. I simply want to finish the race this year, something that's eluded me for so long. And, I want to have fun with my training and racing.

Last night, I ran an easy, uphill 9 miler. Tonight, I'll run a mostly flat 12 miler, although the first mile is all downhill and the last mile all uphill, with 10 flat miles in the middle.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Feeling Burnt Out

I didn't go out for a run last night when I got home. It wasn't that I was too tired. I simply didn't feel like it.

I think that I've simply been trying to do too much for the past few months and it's really starting to catch up to me. As much as I love skiing and teaching skiing, I have to admit that I've been counting down the weekends until I'm done teaching for the season. The end of my teaching season is now 4 days away.

I've been working 4 days per week at my "regular" job, and I've been working about 25 hours per week at my second job recently. I think that something will change here soon and I'll be working fewer hours per week between those two jobs. But, last week, every single night of the week, after either working my day job or teaching skiing, I went home and fired up my laptop to work at the second job.

Over the past few weeks, I have just felt like I'm drowning in work. I'm still doing my workouts and I'm enjoying them. However, I haven't been eating very well, I've been drinking more alcohol, and some of my motivation is waning.

And yes, I understand that having a job is a good thing these days. Between the 3 jobs, I make enough money for my family to live fairly comfortably, and I can afford to travel to ultras. I can afford to ski all winter. I know that could all change at any time. Even though the hospital where I work is very financially stable, they recently deferred annual raises for employees to help make their budgets for the current fiscal year.

I don't think it's a coincidence that I got sick a few weeks ago. I was simply trying to do too much and my body had had enough. I'm mostly recovered now, but the stress is still out there.

So, this weekend, I'll enjoy my last weekend skiing with the kids. I really like spending the days with them and going skiing, and I'll miss it as soon as it's over. I think I'm about done with the stretch of long hours at my part-time job. Our grant application is due the end of next week. I'm going to run long the next day, on April 4th. And then, a week from Sunday, on April 5th, I'm planning to turn off my alarm clock when I go to bed. I'll sleep as late as I want that day. I haven't been able to do that since mid-November or so. My only non-working days since mid-November still required me to get up early and be somewhere or do something.

On the positive side, I'm in pretty good shape. My 22 miler last week went very well. My 9 miler on Monday went well. I'm having fun in the gym. I'm going to run 9 tonight and 12 tomorrow.

But, I need some mental downtime, and I need to do better with my diet as Western States gets closer.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Run, Lift, Tired

Yesterday, when I ran home from work, it was raw outside. The temperature was 25F, which isn't that cold, but there was a stiff wind out of the north. My run took me south to start and I could feel the wind pushing me. I knew that when I turned to the north that things would get tough. But, overall I felt pretty good on the run and ran the long route home (9.1 miles, 780 feet of climbing) about 3.5 minutes faster than I ran it last Thursday.

This morning, when I got up to lift, my legs felt a bit sore and tired. I'm not sure if it was because of yesterday's run, Friday's run, this weekend's skiing, or all of them, but I felt tired. Nonetheless, I got through my lifting just fine. In my current lifting cycle, I alternate between two workouts and one of them is clearly more difficult than the other. Today was the more difficult workout, which is actually more fun than the easier workout.

I'll see how my legs feel later today, but I might go out for a short, fast run this evening if I feel OK. Or, I might rest.

There's a somewhat interesting debate going on right now on a listserv for ultrarunners. The subject line of the thread is "Fat Melting Secrets". I don't think there are any secrets, or at least no one on the list has given us any yet. It's the usual battle between the "calories-in-calories-out" crowd and the anti-sugar, lower-carb, pro-Paleo, be careful of insulin crowd. On the exercise side, it's the pro-Maffetone types (lots of very long slow miles) vs. the "metabolic disruption" types - weightlifting, intervals, etc.

It seems to me that it's always the skinniest people who make the calories-in-calories-out argument, assuming that everyone who is overweight is simply mentally weak and undisciplined. I think that one thing the discussion has pointed out is that being an ultrarunner is no guarantee that someone will be lean. Clearly there are enough runners on the list who aren't as lean as they'd like to be, or the conversation would have died a while ago.

If any of my 2 or 3 readers knows the "secret", please pass it on.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Inevitable

I was pretty tired while skiing on Saturday, but the girls in my group didn't seem motivated to ski a lot anyway. I had 10 girls show up on Saturday and a few of them had been sick during the week. Despite their low energy for skiing, they seemed to have plenty of energy for bickering and mischief.

The morning was focused on a parent-child moguls competition. My wife and daughter were going to compete as a team, but my wife was sick. So, I was going to compete with my daughter instead. When coaches compete with their own children, we usually get some catcalls from the spectators, most about us being "ringers". Realistically, many of the other parents are better bump skiers than I am, although my son and I did win our division of the competition two years ago. Bump comps are about style, not speed, and my son outpointed me that day two years ago to "carry" our team. I'm not a big fan of taking air or doing tricks off jumps, so his tricks carried us that day.

As we took some warm-up runs before the comp on Saturday, my daughter was lagging behind the group. She seemed really, really tired. We skied the bumps course once and the bumps were huge and icy. I suggested to my daughter that we not compete. I was afraid that she was so tired she'd get hurt. Her response was "Thank you, thank you, thank you."

It's interesting to watch the children over the course of a full season. Some of the children that show up every weekend get stronger as the season progresses. Others simply wear down.

Most of these children go to private schools during the week. Having a group of all girls this year, they participate in dance and gymnastics and other sporting events. On Friday night, they get in a car for a 3-6 hour drive to the mountain. They get a little sleep and then ski all day with me. Then, they spend Saturday evening doing social things with friends and they don't get enough sleep. Then, they ski all day on Sunday before the long drive home. For many of them, I think they simply get worn down by being so busy for months at a time. The most important part of my job is keeping the children safe and recognizing when to back off. So, while some of the girls wanted to push this weekend, some were clearly beat and I had to back off. This caused some of the girls to get mad at some of the other girls, even though I made the decision. So, I had to put up with a lot of bickering amongst the 10 girls on Saturday.

On Sunday, only 6 of the children skied. I let my daughter take a rest day, one girl skied with her family, and two returned home to MA for family events. The focus yesterday was a race and we had some new, high-moisture snow that made the race course really slow. Other than the race, I didn't push the girls hard at all. And with a smaller group, the fighting disappeared.

So, next Sunday is our last day. The weather forecast this week is for warming temperatures and no snow. The "inevitable" reference in the subject line of this post is about melting snow. Just a week ago, all 111 of the mountain's trails were open. Today, we are down to 104. By the weekend, we'll be down to 90 or so. The next weekend, the count will drop significantly as one half of the mountain ceases operations for the season. The end is approaching. We've had the least snow March in many years, so we're relying on snow that accumulated during a very good February.

The good thing about the end of ski season is that this means I can focus more on my running, and I won't we working 70-75 hours per week any more. Western States is 96 days from now and I still have a lot of work to do to be ready for that event.

This week, I'll run about 35 miles, lift twice and ski twice. The next week, I'll shoot for 45-50 miles, including one trail run, 3 days of lifting, and perhaps half a day of skiing, at most.

It must be spring because I ordered some new trail running shoes from Road Runner Sports last week.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday Morning 22 miler

I'm swamped at work right now because I took the morning off to run 22 miles. Plus, I wasn't here yesterday, so people are freaking out about some reports that just about anyone should be able to do.

Anyway, my 22 miler went just fine, despite it being cold and windy this morning. It was close to 20F when I started and during my first 10 mile loop, my bottle of HEED froze up. On the second loop, my bottle didn't freeze, but the temperature never got above freezing.

I was slow, as I expected, but fairly steady on a rolling course. Now I need to get some work done and then get some rest before I teach skiing tomorrow.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Deer, mouthwash and shampoo

Last night, I had a great 9+ mile run home from work. On the way, I saw 16 deer grazing in various fields, a sure sign that winter is heading towards its close. I ran at the same speed I ran on Monday, but ran a little bit longer last night.

This morning, I lifted at the gym. I got a late start because no one seemed to have the keys to the gym. So, I hurried through my workout and then hit the shower. I headed to the shower with a towel and a bottle of shampoo. After soaking my hair, I poured the shampoo onto my head, but it smelled pretty funny. Suddenly, I realized I was trying to wash my hair with mouthwash. At least my hair doesn't have bad breath right now.

It's been a fun week - deliberately doing only one workout per day instead of trying to train before and after work. Daylight savings time and nice weather make that much easier than it's been all winter. I haven't been on a treadmill for a few weeks right now.

Tomorrow morning, I'm taking half a day off work to run about 22 or so miles. I'll get started about 7:00 a.m. and I should get to the office in time for lunch (and some work, I suppose).

After that, it's skiing all weekend. With two weekends of teaching left, the season is really winding down, even though there's still a lot of snow on the hill.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Not sore this time

A week ago at this time, I was really sore. After doing the same weight workout yesterday that I did last Tuesday, albeit with different set/rep counts, I'm not sore. A little tired maybe, but not sore.

Yesterday, in the coached eating program that we're doing, we had to eat vegan for a day. I spent a year (2005) as a vegetarian and had my worst competitive season in the past decade. That year, I was sick a lot in the winter, fell behind in my training for Western States and then got pulled at mile 93.5 in Western States.

I paced at the VT100 and then decided to run Halliburton Forest. I managed to give myself food poisoning there (Perpetuem that had gotten damp and fermented somewhat), and dropped at mile 65. I made one more attempt at 100 miles that year at Javelina, but I was sick and injured on race weekend, and I made it to mile 64 or so (4 loops) before I dropped. At the end of the year, I went back to eating meat and I've been racing better since then.

Was my poor racing year a direct result of the vegetarian diet? I don't know, but I don't think I want to try the experiment again. There are so many reasons that I would like to be a vegetarian or a vegan, but I just can't imagine doing it forever.

However, yesterday reminded me that I probably eat more meat and create more of an enviromental impact with my diet than I need to do. In my life, I have known some overweight vegetarians, but does anyone know an overweight vegan? It seems like it would be impossible to be fat on a purely plant-based diet, unless you lived on sugar, avocados and nuts.

Tonight, I'm going to run the 9-mile uphill route home after work. It sounds like it will be raining a bit, but not pouring.

The weather for my 20+ miler on Friday morning sounds pretty nice.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Running in shorts

The forecast was calling for a high in the mid-40s yesterday. I was planning to run home. I packed tights and I packed shorts, but I fully expected to run home in tights, knowing I'd get home after 6:00 p.m.

But, the forecast was wrong, and it got up to the mid-50s yesterday. I ran outside in shorts. It felt great. OK, I still wore gloves as the temperature started to drop and I had on two shirts, but I was wearing shorts.

The first six miles of my run are rolling, but not too bad. I averaged just under a 9:30 pace for those six miles. The last 3 miles are mostly uphill and I walked some of those hills yesterday. Overall, I felt pretty strong for the run.

This morning I lifted, the same workout as last Tuesday, but I did 5x5s instead of 2x20s. I much prefer 5x5 days because I can lift heavier weights. On 2x20 days, I feel like I should be using the pink dumbbells because I have to drop the weights so low. Hopefully, I won't be as sore this week from this workout as I was last week.

Tonight, after work, I'm going to take the dogs out for a leisurely walk. I think I'll make the kids come along too. They need to get outside rather than watching TV and playing video games.

We're into the second half of March, we've only had one minor snowstorm this month, and there is no real snow in the forecast. Yesterday, the first patch of brown grass appeared in my lawn.

Monday, March 16, 2009

New Toy

My wife recently got some new ski boots. As we were shopping for the boots, the owner of one of the ski shops mentioned that he had a ski I might be interested in. It's the current-year model of the ski that replaced the ski I've been on for the past two years. I typically ski for two seasons on a pair of skis, putting about 100 days on a pair before I get a new model. So, it was about time for me to get some new skis, but I'd been planning on waiting until next fall to do that.

The shop owner mentioned that he still had "pro stock" on this ski, so he could offer me a very good price. In the ski industry, equipment manufacturers like to have ski instructors and patrollers on their equipment. Everybody is always curious about what the "pros" are using for equipment. So, every year, the companies allocate a limited number of skis or boots or other equipment to be purchased at very competitive prices, trying to entice people in the industry into using their gear. This shop had still not sold its pro allocation of this particular ski.

I took them out to ski on Saturday and I was very impressed. The ski I'm current skiing, the Rossignol B3, is my all-time favorite ski. It's a versatile ski that I can use in deep powder, on groomers, in the trees, on ice, or on the race course, and I feel comfortable with the ski at all times. I'm someone who prefers to master a single ski rather than having a different ski for different conditions. The new ski, the Rossignol Phantom SC 80 was very similar to my old B3s. Yes, there were a few differences, and they're all too technical (meaning boring to non-skiers) to discuss here. I think I made 3 or 4 turns on Saturday morning before I realized I was very comfortable on the ski. Normally, it takes a while to get acclimated to a new ski and its differences from a previous ski. But, this ski was so similar in many ways to my old skis that I felt right at home instantly. It looks a lot different than the old ski, but it skied very similarly.

The picture doesn't really show much detail. The skis are black but they are overlaid with some sort of holographic designs showing some sort of bird of prey. They look pretty cool in the bright sunlight.

Conditions on Saturday were icy and the ski did great on the ice. It was on the ice that I realized how much my old skis have deteriorated over 100 days of use. My B3s are "tired" and don't hold a tune very long any more. They just don't grip on ice like they did when new. So, after trying the ski out all day Saturday, I purchased them that afternoon. I skied on them all day yesterday, mostly on steep bumpy terrain in spring conditions (soft snow) and they were fun all day long.

I have two weekends of teaching left and then I can get more serious about my long runs.

This week, I'm planning to run just three times. I'm going to run a 9+ mile uphill route home after work tonight. I'll do the same run on Wednesday evening. And Friday, I'll take the morning off work and run 22-24 miles. I'll lift on Tuesday and Thursday.

I realized yesterday that I still haven't taken care of my service requirement paperwork for Western States. I volunteered over 40 hours for the VT100 last year, but I need to get the RD to sign the forms for me, so that I don't get bounced out of the race for failing to turn in paperwork.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Encouraging run

I got out of work by 4:30 yesterday and headed for the bike path along Lake Champlain. A friend had told me that the path was nearly clear of ice and snow, except for one stretch that gets lots of shade and was still icy. I decided to go with road shoes and take my chances. My plan was to run outbound for either 6 miles or 60 minutes, whichever came first. Considering that the first mile from my office to the path itself was downhill, I hoped I would hit 6 miles first.

My legs were still a little bit sore from lunges, but I didn't feel it at all while running. I was happy that my left hamstring/piriformis area felt much looser than the day before. I felt like I was moving really slowly - 10mpm+, but every time I looked at my Forerunner, I was in the 9:30mpm range.

The one long icy patch wasn't too slick, probably because it was fairly cold out, and I got through it just fine. I hit the 6 mile mark in just under 57 minutes and turned and headed back to the office. I was slower on the way back, but most of that was due to going uphill in the last mile. Overall, I felt fairly strong for the entire run, which was very encouraging after being so sick last week. This was the first time I'd run on 4 consecutive days in a while, so feeling good was an extra bonus.

Tonight, I'll lift weights after work. Then, I'll ski over the weekend (of course). There are no snow storms (or any storms, really) on the horizon, and the days are supposed to be relatively warm for a while. A big field near my house is mostly clear of snow, although my yard still has about 18" of snow. If things stay warm and we don't get any more snowstorms, this will be an unusual March here in Vermont. March is typically a fairly snowy month for us, but we've only had one small snowstorm so far, along with 2 rainstorms. If we don't get a snowstorm or two soon, ski season could end fairly early this year.

After I'm done teaching on 3/29, I don't know how many more days I'll ski, but the mountain usually manages to keep at least a few trails open into early May.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Different exercises, different effects

All day yesterday, my quads were sore. After an intense day at work, I was mentally beat and really didn't feel like running. I was sure my quads would feel terrible while I was out there. And, to be honest, I felt like going home and drinking some wine while I cooked dinner.

But, I forced myself out the door. I had my wife go home without me. We work together and once she left, I had to get home on my own power, including a steep 500' climb in the last 1.25 miles.

As I started running, I was surprised that my quads felt OK. Not great, but not terrible. If my quads were this sore from doing a tough downhill run, more running would hurt a lot. But, they were sore from lunges in the gym, andd they felt fine while running. I'm sure there's a lesson in there somewhere about how lifting might help a little bit with running, but lifting can't replace actual running in my training.

Even after a visit to the chirpractor last week, my left hamstring and piriformis remain tight. I'm stretching as much as I can, but my stride isn't quite right. I'm hoping I can get this area to loosen up before I end up with some sort of overuse injury.

Today, it's colder here than the past few days and it won't go above freezing. But, I'm still planning a 2-hour run after work this afternoon. I think I'm going to pick a nice day next week and take half a day off work to do a 22-25 mile run. Then, by the start of April, I can move my long runs to the weekends.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Sore Today

I'm not surprised, based on how I felt after lifting yesterday, but I am really sore today. The worst is my quads, but my lats are sore, my shoulders are sore and my calves are sore.

In my last lifting cycle, I did Bulgarian Split Squats and Step-ups as lunge variations. However, it seems like neither of those lifts hits my quads anything like true lunges with a barbell on my shoulders. My quads are just aching today.

I ran an easy 4 miles outside last night before the rain started. It rained most of the night and a number of schools to the north and east of us were closed or delayed today due to freezing rain. I'm surprised that the ski areas managed to open, especially given the forecasts for mountain winds. Wet, windy, rainy days are not prime time for ski resorts and they lose money by being open.

I worked late at my second job last night and deliberately slept in this morning. This afternoon, it's supposed to be warm and the rain will be gone, so I'm planning to run 60-90 minutes outside after work, depending on how my legs feel and how my lungs feel.

Tomorrow, it's supposed to stay below freezing all day, but high winds today should dry out the road surfaces before the temperatures drop. Hopefully, the roads and the Lake Champlain bike path will be clear for a 2-hour run after work tomorrow.

I'm not ready to hang up my skis, and I'm even going to demo some new skis this coming weekend. But, I'm ready to do my running outside on reasonably dry surfaces, and Vermont's fickle March weather can be challenging for runners. I was surprised to see two women running last night at 6:00 p.m. when I was out for my run. Sometimes, I think I'm the only runner in the tiny town where I live.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Back to training

Last night, I did 4 miles on the treadmill. I did a slow mile, then 10 minutes at 8 pace, a slow half mile, and then 10 more minutes at 8 pace. My lungs are still a bit congested, but I got through this run OK.

This morning, I started my next lifting cycle. Starting a new cycle with new lifts usually means I'll end up sore for a few days the first week. I was really well adapted to the last cycle by the time it was over, but now it feels like I'm starting over.

This morning I did barbell clean presses, barbell front squat/push presses, barbell reverse lunges, wide grip cable rows, dumbbell bench presses, side planks and reverse woodchops. By the time I was done, I was shaking from fatigue. I can already tell that I'll be sore tomorrow.

I'm hoping to run an easy 4 miler after work today, but my wife is busy and I don't know if I can find the time to fit the run in. The next two days, I'm hoping to do longer runs - 90 minutes or so on Wednesday and 2 hours on Thursday. After that, I'll lift on Friday and maybe do a short run.

All of this assumes I feel healthy enough to do the workouts. I'm still not 100%, but after not running for 9 days and not lifting for almost two weeks, it was time to get moving again.

We've been having typical crazy March weather in VT. Saturday, it was warm and we had spring conditions on the mountain. Saturday night, it rained hard and then the termperature briefly went below freezing. So, the snow was harder on Sunday, but things eventually warmed up. Yesterday, we got 5" of snow. Today, it's supposed to hit the mid-40s. Tonight, it's supposed to pour all night and there are flood watches posted statewide. Then, things start to get cold again. By Friday morning, the temperature will be in the single digits. It will be at least a month before I take the snow tires off my car.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Slow recovery

So, I've now been feeling a little under the weather for 8 or 9 days. In the last 9 days, I've skied 6 times and a few of those days were tough skiing days. I haven't run or lifted in about 10-12 days. Tonight, after work, I am planning to either lift or run, whichever seems more appealing and possible at the time.

Despite the extra daylight after work, the roads are a mess right now, so running outside might not work so well. And, I'm trying to run on the treadmill as little as possible these days. Our back roads right now are essentially mud, covered by a few inches of new snow.

Either way, while I'm not 100%, I will start training again today. I looked through trainings logs from the past few winters and it always seems like I have a week or two like this past week. I simply get healthy and get back to my training. Given the nature of my winters, where I train during the week and ski all weekend, I probably just reach a point where I really need some rest, and my body tells me that when I get sick.

I have three weekends of ski teaching left, so I'm starting to really think about my training in April and May. I'm very excited to have some weekend days to do long trail runs, even if I have to drive south for a few hours to find clear trails.

Right now, the most important thing is to get healthy so I can train at full speed as soon as possible.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Snowshoe marathon - not gonna happen

I spent the past two days in a skiing clinic. Well, I actually spent 1.5 days in the clinic. We skied hard the first day and it really took a toll on me. The focus of the clinic was steep terrain and gladed terrain. Our group was 10 very solid skiers plus the clinic leader. I might have been the worst skier in the group, but I was able to keep up with everyone; my form just wasn't as good as the rest of them.

The second day of the clinic, I was feeling old and tired when we started skiing. Just before lunchtime, on a tough tree run, I fell 3 times. I was skiing defensively, with my weight back, and that's a recipe for disaster in tough terrain. So, at lunchtime, I told the clinic leader that I needed to cut the day short.

Last night, I was trying to think about how I could still do the marathon on Saturday despite feeling so tired from being sick. I was trying to rationalize it in my head, and then I got hit by a coughing fit. It's clear that I'm not healthy enough right now to do the race. Maybe I'd get through it, but it wouldn't be fun. And, pushing that hard while less than 100% might leave me sick for weeks. So, I'm going to skip the race tomorrow.

I saw my chiropractor this morning for the first time in a few months. My left hamstring and piriformis have been very tight, and he worked his normal magic on those. He also found a spot high in my back that needed an adjustment. He said that he could see something as he walked behind me to the treatment room. He said it might have come from one of the falls I took skiing this week. I will see him every few weeks between now and Western States.

So, my legs feel much better right now, but I am tired from the skiing and being sick. Today will be a rest day and I will end up with a zero mile running week. I think I end up with one week like that every winter. Hopefully, by Monday, I'll be ready to go again.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


The doc said I have bronchitis. My breathing doesn't really seem to be compromised much and I haven't had to use any albuterol (I have very mild asthma and take albuterol perhaps once a year) so far. But, my lungs didn't sound so good through the stethoscope, so I'm taking it easy for a few days. I didn't run yesterday and I'm not going to run today.

The doc gave me some antibiotics, but we agreed that I would wait a couple days before I take them. There's no sense taking them if the cause of the bronchitis is viral, so I'm going to wait a few days to see if I'm getting better without the meds.

I'm scheduled for a 2-day ski clinic starting tomorrow, but I may cancel that if I don't feel better. The only problem with canceling is that I'm required to take a clinic this year to keep my certification up to date. So, if I skip this one, I have to pay for another clinic and attend it later this month.

I think my decision on the marathon will wait until Friday. I don't want to do the race if I'm still feeling run down. A couple winters ago, I tried to train hard through a wintertime illness and I ended up being sick for six weeks. I will wrap up my ski instruction for the year on 3/29 and I want to be ready for hard weekend runs every weekend in April. So, I don't want to risk an extended illness if I'm not feeling 100% by Friday.

Unlike some other years, I'm planning to get out of Vermont almost every weekend starting in April so I can run on trails. In past years, it seems like I've run only on the roads through May, and I think I need more early trail work this year.

So, I'll just take the next few days as they come and see how I feel.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Four days from bliss to bust

Skiing this weekend was about as bad as it's been all year. We did have one rainy day back in December where the skiing itself was nice, but the rain made it no fun to be outside.

This weekend, we skied on ice. Lots and lots of slick, glare ice. The ungroomed trails were very firm and tough to navigate. Some skiers braved those trails for the weekend, but most of the traffic was on slick groomed trails. Those kind of conditions make skiing a dangerous sport. On Saturday, another instructor was hit by a skier. That skier was moving so fast that he hit a student, lost his skis, and then flew into the instructor.

One of the girls in my group was almost hit by an out of control skier, who then tried to blame the near-collision on my student. He was clearly at fault (see The Skier's Responsibility Code) and I tried to politely make this clear to him. He had violated both of the first two rules of the code. I hate to get into a disagreement with a customer, but my primary job is to ensure the safety of my students.

Yesterday, the older sister of one of my students was run over by a snowboarder and had to visit the medical clinic. I was on edge all weekend long, doing everything I could to keep my students safe. However, weekends like this are common in the northeast and we had been lucky so far this season.

It's snowing right now, but the bulk of the big storm that is hitting the east coast will pass to the east of the VT ski resorts. We'll get some snow, but not as much as we need to recover from last Friday's rain.

This week, my plan is to run easily for an hour both today and tomorrow. Then, I have a skiing clinic on Wednesday and Thursday. Friday is a planned rest day before the snowshoe marathon on Saturday. Sunday, if my feet aren't too swollen from the marathon, I'll teach skiing.

But, I seem to be coming down with a cold, which puts a lot of the week's activities in jeopardy. I can't remember the last time I got this far into ski season without getting sick, but my luck seems to have run out. A lot of the instructors are sick right now. As the ski season wears on, and the instructors have frequent close contact with many guests and with each other, it seems like illness is inevitable. Hopefully, I'll be over this quickly and won't miss any more training time than necessary.