Friday, October 30, 2009

Tough but fun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Better Decisions

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Weights again and running tonight

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 26, 2009

Wet, wet weekend

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 23, 2009

Sore all over

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Tough lifting workout

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

Here's the run down

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

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


Fail at 305

Crawl to the car.

Tonight is an upper body lifting night.

Work is busy today.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Nice run

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Thanks David

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

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

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

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

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

That should be good enough.

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

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

Monday, October 19, 2009


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sore today

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 12, 2009

A man's got to know his limitations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 9, 2009

Another lifting PR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Hill Repeats

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

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

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

Snowflakes are expected at lower elevations next week.

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

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


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

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

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

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

Monday, October 5, 2009

PRP Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stark Mountain Hill Climb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 2, 2009

Lifting - Rack Pulls PR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 1, 2009


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

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

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

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

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

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