Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Fourth Week of January

I hear birds outside my bedroom window and it reminds me of spring. Still enamored with fresh snowfall, but the only thing I'm tiring of is washing so many shirts.

AM - 6 miles - Ran to Military fitness, hoping for less cardio and more resistance training to give my body a different challenge and some rest after the previous day's 20 miler. Of course, it was sprint day. It ended up not being so bad, even rather enjoyable at times. I'm not sure it its a lack of explosive strength in general or tired legs, but I find that the basketball court length sprints aren't quite long enough for me to find my stride. Its actually a lot of fun, so I should work on it more in the coming weeks. Sprinting makes me feel like I'm on the playground again. They did take quite a toll on my legs, so the run home was embarrassingly slow. At least it was still dark.

AM - 7 miles - Great time at Al Sabo this morning. The weather was warm(28F) and the snow was crunchy and packed down from skiers. The more well-travelled trails provided great traction with YakTrax XTRs on. The little used single tracks were still untouched from our last snow with a pretty crusty base underneath. With a list of my favorite spots in mind, I ran to each one and took a couple pictures. Speed wasn't very important to me on this run but I still occasionally glance down at the Garmin and wasn't disappointed. The day wasn't the most photogenic I've ever seen here, but it wasn't too shabby.
The map that doesn't serve much of a purpose.

I resurrected my MT100s because they suck considerably less than my MT101s. The YakTrax hold the upper together with some duct tape. I removed more midsole material from the heel and pulled the glued-in midsole out. I still greatly prefer my Merrell Trailgloves, but they superpliable sole doesn't bode well for traction aids.

The Al Sabo Preserve has many different terrain types in one small area, making it feel bigger and more interesting.

cool stairs that ascend to Lookout Tower.

A nice little stream crossing that isn't exactly necessary, but the alternate path seems to be eroding, so I avoid it to minimize excessive wear.

This is about as close as these swans let me get.

tree tunnel on the land bridge

back to my awesome-ugly car.
 PM - 8 miles - Its funny how quickly things can change. A very defeating run with Alex, Joey, and Josh. 3 warmup to a water fountain downtown, then was time to see how Alex's crazy idea worked. He decided it would be a good idea to shovel one of the lanes of the track and do a 2x2mile workout. The only problem is that we had two shovels-my snow shovel and Alex's dollar store mini shovel. After 1.5 hours of shovelling, we had a crappy lane dug out and ready to go. I made it through one of the 2milers at 13 flat. I was really disappointed in myself when I let Joey and Alex take off on me. I thought I was making progress in my running, but was quickly reminded that I may have a long way to go before I develop a sufficient amount of leg speed. I felt drained and decided to sit the second 2 miler out. Allowing myself to quit was, in retrospect, salt in the wound.  3 mile cooldown. The highlight of the day, other than my awesome trail excursion, was walking around and riding the bus with a snow shovel. I even had to go to the bank. I guess never wearing shoes in public has trained me to deal with stares.

AM - 5 miles - My semi-daily grind run to Military Fitness, with some warmup laps when I got there. It was a very push-up oriented day, but not without its sit-ups as well. 8x1minute of various core exercises, pyramid pushups(1, 2, 3, 4, 5,(...)10, 9, 8, 7, (...)3, 2, 1), 3 laps, partner sit ups, 78 continuous sit ups, 10 pushups on the 1 minute mark. There was some other stuff in there, but you get the idea. Stretched and ran back home with 10 minutes to eat before hopping on the bus back to campus.
PM - 6 miles - I was late getting to Gazelle Sports for the Wednesday night group, so I had to run solo. I ran the normal route that Shawn and Alex run, hoping they were running it backwards. I didn't catch them, but had a decent jog on the quiet streets downtown.

AM- 4 miles - Nice little shakeout at Al Sabo. The footing wasn't spectacular, so it made for some slow going on the hills. No big deal, I was just out to take in some air and jog around. I knew I'd be doing the indoor workout in the evening, so I didn't want to have a repeat of Tuesday's lackluster track session. Enjoyable solo run in the snow. Maybe its because I'm still a relative newbie to this running game, but I still feel happy to be able to run 4 miles on a whim. It would be a good long-term mental goal to continue to appreciate the little things like this. Higher mileage and faster times create about 20% of the happiness, the ability to enjoy movement is the other 80%.

PM- 6(?)miles -  Indoor track workout at Read Fieldhouse. As it turns out, Joey and I were the only ones doing the workout. A few of the others had slight nagging injuries, so they opted to sit one out. This time of the year, its definitely a wise decision. The workout wasn't vomit inducing, but still got the legs turning and the heart rate up. The goal was to simply stay below 3:00 for 800m repeats. I ended up doing 4. [2:58, 2:55, 2:43, 2:55]. Once the times started to curve upward again, I decided to call it good, do a few pickups and cool down. Workouts are finally starting to feel good more often than not, so I may dabble with increasing intensity in the coming weeks.
AM - 10 miles - It was my "lucky day" today at Military Fitness. After running there, we were told to run on the track or on the elliptical for the entire hour. Since I dislike elliptical, the choice was easy. Didn't really count miles, but maintained a decent clip for 55 minutes. I'll lowball it and assume 9 minute miles to make sure I don't lie. Add the 4 mile round trip, and presto- mileage is done for the day. I still feel good, but I'm trying to play it cool and hit an about 70 this week for consistency's sake. The rest week is upon me, so I just need to hold on for a little bit longer before I drop down to 1 run/day for a week.

PM - 3 miles - I didn't have any running stuff with me, but still managed a 3 miler in my jeans with Josh, Alex, and Shy. (note: I was the only one in my jeans...poor verbiage). Didn't really need to do it, nor did it serve much of a purpose, but there's also no need to be anti-social. We jogged around the state hospital grounds for a bit and headed back to school.
0 miles- I didn't even wake up until early afternoon, and when I did, I was greeted with a fever and a cold. Rather unpleasant frustrating.
AM-25 miles - Whenever I'm especially drained and sleep deprived, I can always count on an early am run with Jason and/or Jeremiah to occur. We met in Grand Haven and ran along the lakeshore, post holing in the snow until reaching some roads that took us to Coast Guard Park. We then ran 9 trail miles and headed back through Grand Haven to our cars. A great run that didn't drain me or leave my legs feeling dead. I was tempted to do more miles once daylight came about, but I had already surpassed my mileage goals and lacked motivation after a week of almost constant sleep deprivation(with the exception of Friday night's sickness).

Jeremiah and I decided to do some sweet snow angels in the crystallized snow at 4:30am
Photo: Jason "I'm too cool to make snow angels" Robillard.

Total 80 miles

Not quite the 70 mile week I had envisioned, but close enough. I was slightly ahead of schedule on Friday, so saw no reason to run through a tight work/weekend schedule or the nasty sickness. The illness cleared and I got a great night run in. I'm hoping to make this week easier on me, so I may limit my running to Military fitness and run club workouts, forgoing the solo stuff for a bit just to temporarily reduce volume. One of my biggest enemies last year was burnout and overuse, so gradually building the mileage would be a way to improve quality and consistency coming into this spring. The "3 weeks on : 1 week off" practice is commonly used for real athletes, so why couldn't it work on me?

Have a great week!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Week of 1/17-1/23

11 miles- No double today. Im feeling a little under the weather, and I think my body agrees. I slept nearly 11 hours last night. Travelled back to Kalamazoo, did a little studying, and met up with Alex and the WMU running club. 2ish to the Rec, ran for an hour, easy 2 home. NB101s "do not shine on the road" as Alex commented on our shoes. Got in a couple loops as Kleinstuck trail and a couple hills, so it wasn't entirely just bumming around. Embrace the difficult sluggishness that is winter!

Damn, my foot hurts. Had to bail on 4 miles with alex. Strange feeling in my lateral arch, sort of like a bruise. It could either be some sort of soft tissue damage or plantar fasciitis. I guess time and some soleus stretching/trigger point work will tell.
PM Workout in the fieldhouse- 9 miles- ran to Reed for the warmup(2miles) then a few indoors. George Dales Prefontaine workout: 1200m, 800m, 400m, 400m, 800m, 1200m. Jog 400m in between for rest. Pickups for a few laps, then cooldown outside/run home. I figured it to be roughly 9. It was a great workout for me. The pace wasnt 100% effort, but it was just about right. I was able to climb back up to the final 1200m and kick the pace down to negative splits. Most of the workout was run between 5:40 and 6:00 per mile pace, so I was very pleased to not throw up all over the place. The dry air really makes things uncomfortable, but wearing shorts and a sleeveless shirt is a welcome exchange for thermal tights and 1/2 zip.

AM- 5 miles- Ran to Military Fitness, but had to bring my day's worth of school stuff on my back this time. Indian run for 20 minutes, Light jogging, and some high knees/fast twitch stuff to prepare for Friday's diagnostic(self test to measure progress during the semester).

PM- Scrapped my PM workout due to exhaustion and being late for the Wednesday night group run. Im just recently a runner of enough base miles to do actual speedwork sessions, and now Im doing high intensity interval training 5 times weekly(speed workouts T/R and Military Fitness MWF). When I combine that with 3ish hours of sleep some nights, I've got a damned convenient list of excuses to whine about. Just tired today and let the winter doldrums get the best of me. I'll shoot for a 15 mile day tomorrow to put me back on track.

AM - 6 miles - Trail Shakeout with alex, around 50 minutes. We got a chance to get to Al Sabo to shake out some tired legs before another indoor track session. Going out there reminded me that I can't wait for some longer trail miles this weekend to get my head back on straight. Nothing crazy long, but enough to breathe a little cold, fresh air in.

PM - 4 miles - The warmup for our indoor workout ended up being my entire run for the evening. There was some sort of event going on at the feildhouse and the track was congested. We were going to proceed with the workout regardless, but were then told we couldnt be in there without ID. We've been doing workouts in there for 3 years, and never been asked for ID. Oh well, I had a study group to get to anyway. Still a 10 mile total for the day.

10 miles - Rough going today. Ran to Read Fieldhouse to meet Alex, Shy, Josh, and Jordan. Did a rather arduous 3 mile loop around campus, a 3 mile out/back downtown then headed back home. I found out later from alex that with a windchill it was about -4 degrees. This suprised me since I was sweating through my first layer of clothing. The jog was decent overall, but felt a bit like a chore to me. I was happy I did it, mostly for the sake of keeping the weekly mileage from slipping too badly. I shouldn't complain too much; the sky was clear and the sun was shining. I felt as though I was running with plywood laced to my feet- MT101s simply arent road shoes for me(not that it was their intended design, but they were the only dry shoe in my rotation).

5 miles- A little pressed for time, I managed 40-45 minutes of running. Left my place and ran to Asylum lake for a quick loop, then went back to head to work. Nothing amazing, but spent the bare minimum amount outside.

20 miles- 3 miles to the fieldhouse(took the long way), then joined in on an 11 miler with Alex, Joey, and Evan. Managed a 7 minute pace while taking turns reciting lines from all the good Adam Sandler movies. I felt like a real clown when I seemed to be the only one impressed with the pace(its all relative I guess). Good times and a solid effort. The difficult part came when it was time to take the long way home to get my desired mileage in for the day. I hadn't done anything long in a while, so I figure tonight would be a good time. I needed 6, so I took the Arboretum path and did a loop around one of the blocks in the suburbs. When I first parted with the group, I was having a really hard time turning my legs over, but eventually brought it back down to a decent pace again for the last miles home. The Tralgloves were a good shoe choice for the day, as more traction than my KSOs as needed, but the boots(MT101s) would have been overkill.

70 miles

2 weeks of consistent mileage? I'll be right back, I have to mark it on my calendar. Now I should do something rob Fort Knox with a slingshot. One more week like this, and I'll have actually completed a real 3 week training cycle. Reworking my plans and keeping the mileage at 70 per week has helped me place a more of a premium on quality and consistency than on high mileage and numbers. Like a baby trying to keep its balance, I have to slow down, re-center myself, and take things one step at a time. Im not ready for consistently high mileage, so having random 100 mile weeks every 6 weeks does more harm than good. Im sitting in a good place for the upcoming season, getting in some solid cross training, and focusing on more important things like school, relationships, and some ever important self-reflection. Lets hope I can get another 70 mile week in and go from there. If I can comfortably manage another 70 mile week, then I'll most likely try to add 1 or 2 miles per day to my average and aim to do 3x 75-80mile weeks. Hardly the numbers of a competent ultrarunner, but I (hopefully) never claimed to be one. Just a slacker who likes running long.

This week has been a good week of running, but something about it felt a bit artificial. I miss consistently running trails in lieu of roads and track, but sometimes I guess we have to maintain fitness in less than ideal conditions.

Have a good week, everyone.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

1st week back at school in 2011

AM- 6 miles- some guesswork there, but I'll lowball it. Ran the 2 miles to the Rec for Military Fitness class, It happened to be cardio day, so I was able to avoid making a fool of myself on the first day. Warmed up on the indoor track, then ran stairs in the fieldhouse followed by some squats, corework, and a cooldown. The ROTC were easing back into PT after a long break, and I was assured that it would get harder. The class is a WMU gym class, but its basically me and a few other civilians doing training with the ROTC program. Ate no breakfast, but downed a butter pecan Ensure shake after running home. Im not sure why, but I neglected to think about my appearance for the class. I showed up with long hair, a beard, a tye-died shirt, and orange shoes on. I was the ONLY person not wearing black shoes, black shorts, and a grey shirt. At least I know now.
PM- 4 miles- Met up with Alex for a mid day run following some delicious Taco Bell(quesadilla, soft taco, side nachos, large mellow yellow). We both took it easy as we have each sustained some sort of lower limb strain over break. Al least he has an excuse-he logged 90miles a week for three weeks! Im just a bum who took a false step on an icy trail. Either way, we did an easy 4 downtown, but the pace wasn't terribly slow. Went home and made a portobello burger(grilled portobello mushroom cap, kaiser roll, pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomato)
PM workout- Swim with the club for the first day of practice. Became absolutely wrecked after 30 minutes of swimming. 3 hours of sleep and two workouts finally caught up to me. Felt hot, dizzy, and tired. I knew I had blasted the warmup and was essentially screwed. Bailed and hitched a ride to the Chinese restaurant with Megan, Erik, and Heidi. The workout was a mess from jump street, but I also hadn't taken into account that I hadn't done an actual swim workout in almost 1 year.
After 1 day of slightly below average mileage, it already seems apparent that a few more calories may be in order to sustain the energy levels I need.

breakfast-leftover Chinese food(rice, chicken, egg roll)
8 miles- Headed to Al Sabo to see if hardpack trails would bother my lame foot. With a little protection for the lateral part of my midfoot, it wasn't too bad. Im not sure if its a lack of traction, fitness, or both, but running on trails has been very laborious. May try to pick up some sort of traction aid to see if it improves things. I got a little turned around in the trails and snow filled my tracks before I could return to follow them out of the lesser-explored areas. I could get lost in a sleeping bag, I swear. Ate Burger King for dinner. Seeing this in print is downright depressing.

AM - 5 miles- Less running today at Military Fitness, as it was upper body day. Pushups, followed by more pushups. Some situps and jumping jacks in there, but mostly different variations of pushups. Oh, and there were also some pushups. My foot was aching pretty badly today. I'm convinced that its a soft tissue injury and will heal-if only I could stay off of it. If I were one to heed my own advice, I would take 2-3 days off, and may just end up doing so. The problem is that it starts to feel better after sitting, so I: start to get all fidgety and excited to run again. It will probably reach critical mass this weekend, resulting in a couple days off and a spoiled week. such is life, I suppose.
PM - 10 miles - against my better judgement, I hauled myself down to Gazelle for the Wednesday night run. Ran with Shawn and Steve for a nice 10. The road pace was just barely out of my comfort zone, so it was a perfect tempo-ish effort as usual. We all run about the same pace, so it wasn't a race by any means, but pretty quick(quicker than I've been running lately anyway) jaunt around Kalamazoo/WMU campus. The leg felt fine for the entire run, but ached terribly after getting home and going up stairs. I think its a combination of stressors. My bruised tissues on the lateral arch are causing me to compensate, then the lower limb muscles are straining. Couple that with a more substantial shoe than I'm used to(the MT100), and Its no wonder I'm sore on my injured leg. If it doesn't feel better tomorrow, its time for a day off.

AM- 4 miles- Went to Al Sabo to test my new YakTrax XTRs(Review coming soon). Had to cut it short because they broke. I was going to bring them back to my car and keep running, but I figured that it was the only time I had to return them for a few days. Joe at Gazelle exchanged them without issue. I'm assuming it was just a fluke that they broke, as I've heard lots of good things about the company. I tripped on a boardwalk that was covered in snow, and my MT100 shoe blasted right through one of the front chains. My running experience in them was great up to their breaking point.
PM- 6 miles- My first indoor workout of the new semester. Nice and easy, running 6x800 at a 6:00min/mile pace, with an 1/8 mile of rest in between. 6 miles including warmup and cooldown. The workout was a little difficult for me, but I attribute some of it to the horrendously dry air in there. I'll get accustomed to it, though, tomorrow is cardio day at Military Fitness. Hoo Rah.

AM - 6 miles - 4 to/from Military Fitness. Some running on the track, an indian run, suicides, and plenty of pushups. PT was an hour long, so almost two hours of training, one of which was a high intensity. Definitely feeling the effects of an indoor track workout, 3 hours of sleep, and a high-intensity training session in less than 12 hours. Hopefully catch a nap before work.(note- I don't have the ambition to guestimate some sort of mileage conversion for circuit training, nor do I want to log combinations of sit ups and nearly 200 push ups, so I'm just going to document running miles only. It kind of hurts to write down six miles in two hours, but running is running and everything else is everything else)
PM- 7 miles- After work, I figured I was near Fort Custer Recreation Area, so I may as well go run the red loop. I was wrong- I wasn't nearly as close as I thought, but was too stubborn to turn around. I started running just as the sun went down. After swearing at my tweaked ankles in my MT101s for a few miles, I decided to take the shortcuts back to the trailhead. The rocky terrain didn't work well with the new shoes, as they are stiff as boards to run with. I'm hoping that after some more running and lots of flexing of the shoe, they will break in like my old 100s(may they rest in peace). I got lost in the dark for so long that I may as well have just stayed on the red loop. An poor run overall, but at least I got some fresh air and some quiet. To be honest though, I was fighting the urge to go into panic mode.

0 miles - No miles were run Saturday on account of working and travel. I knew I'd be running in the wee hours of Sunday morning, so I was cool with that.

Sunday -
AM- 20 miles - Jason, Brandon, Mark and I decided to do a road run from Allendale to Aman Park near GR. 12 miles of road running, and 2 loops in the park. More road running than we'd like, especially on the side of a divided highway at 3am. A bit of a slower pace but the goal of the run is get accustomed, physiologically and mentally, to running in the dark on little sleep.

Our skeleton crew for the evening(left to right): Mark, a masked ninja hobo(me), Brandon, Jason
Total - 73 miles

This week exemplifies what I would like to be doing for the next two months. The cross training was intense, as were the couple of speedy sessions I had. Lots of trail miles that allowed me to relax and recharge the batteries. I've discussed this to some extent, but the past seven days of running have shown me that I can successfully have a split personality.
a) I truly enjoyed my intense sessions of cross training, sprinting, stair workouts, and trackwork. The headrush of putting forth near-maximal effort and feeling the sweat flow from my pores makes modern day stress disappear as it is replaced by my body doing what nature taught it to do. I've been struggling with a few less than stellar weeks of training, but there has been some assuagement of this melancholy-other than a new pain in my foot(I'm thinking its caused by a couple tight soleii), I'm running higher mileage than last year with a negligible amount of muscle soreness.
b) This new found appreciation for fast running and intense exercise is, contrary to my preconceived notions, had a boosting effect on the quality of my solo trail runs- the runs I'm using to simply be outside and observe. I have no idea the pace at which I'm running them, but it seems as though my ability to comfortably carry myself through the woods while feeling the seasons run their course is increasing. One of my favorite runs of the week involved running at the nature preserve while huge, downy snowflakes fell from the sky onto the wetlands. I would run just long enough to warm up and find a good vantage point, then sit and observe until I started shivering again. By any logical runner's standards, this is "junk miles" defined. My goal for these runs, however, is to assume the role of an observer and not a training athlete.

Instead of choosing one of these paths to follow, I see no reason that I can't pursue a balance.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

New Year, New Stuff

Its a bit late to be doing a "New Year's Resolution" post, but as a new semester starts in approximately 6 hours, I feel that this could be my opportunity to take a mulligan on starting anew. Starting new habbits on a new year seems arbitrary, but I feel like my change in schedule, addition of a part-time job, and general laxity of classes will allow me to revamp the process of my day-to-day life. There's a few things I'm hoping to accomplish this year, running and otherwise(bear in mind-this blog is mostly about running, but I hope that I'm not). I've initiated some new changes already, but hopefully I'm able to adhere to the nuances. I'll go over them with brevity since I can't sleep.

I want to become an early riser. When I was working my public works job prior to dropping back into school, I was either up at 6:30am to be to work by 7:00, or up at 5 to be to the YMCA pool before work. In the winter, I was up anywhere between 3:00 and 5:00 to plow snow. Though I felt drowsy at times, I generally enjoyed being awake and watching the sun come up, whether I was running, driving or pedaling to work or already clearing snow from alleys. Whether my lazy side wanted to stay in bed or not, I had people counting on me to get out the door and get moving. The motivation of having somewhere to be is now gone and I had classes until 11am. To initiate a change, I've sabotaged my lazy streak by registering for a military fitness class at 6:40am. I may regret it to some extent, but I feel that it will help me get a good jump on the day, study more, and get more miles in. Its awful hard to maintain a high GPA and high weekly mileage when I'm sleeping my life away, so forcing myself out of bed  and seeing the sun come up will give me the energy I need and get my on a sleeping schedule that, I feel, my body truly longs for despite my staying up late. Since I don't own a parking pass and the class is at an odd time, I plan on running the 2 miles  there. This gives me a built in double as long as I attend running club or hit the trails on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Tuesday and Thursday are days with no class at all, so they will be spent doing longer, easier runs and, more importantly, studying chemistry. If I can survive it, I'll be doing speedwork at night on at least one of these days as well.

Another effort I hope to make that sort of leaves the realm of academia is to read more and write with more quality. Reading various running books, novels by Chuck Palahniuk, and a few others have given me a thirst for the written word. Reading more will serve a few different purposes. Being able to read challenging works will help me understand English more deeply and get a grasp of the language I speak every day. I also want to become a better writer, for the sake of improving this blog and because I want to write as part of my career(don't ask me how-I have no idea). I feel that becoming a better reader will expose me to more author's writing styles, enabling me to create my own voice. Im currently reading Walden by Henry David Thoreau. His literary voice speaks to my naturalist side and I greatly enjoy reading his accounts of the outdoors, something I obviously enjoy documenting myself. Though I very much enjoy the work of many authors, both professionals and my fellow bloggers, I want to create my own unique ideas, not simply revamp that of others. At the present moment, I feel that this blog is lacking a little originality, echoing the voices of Jason Robillard's Barefoot Running University, Tony Krupicka's Riding the Wind, and Thoreau's Walden. I don't intend to flatter myself, but merely to point out that I see the influence that these writers have on my work.  My aim is to practice more and develop a voice that is my own. I look up to all three, but imitation is only flattering for so long.

One more issue I hope to address is my diet. I realize that my caloric needs are high as a result of being a young endurance athlette, but trying to cut out excess meat and junk could still be smart move. In an effort to get a more dialed-in diet, I'll be attempting to document my eating for a while. If I notice a degree of consistency, then I'll stop. If my suspicions are correct, I'll see that I eat a large amount of garbage at the wrong time of the day, leaving energy metabolically unavailable. I know myself well enough to know that like mileage, dietary quality will increase the moment I start documenting it. That is my aim with keeping track of it on this blog.

I either do my best or worst writing when drowsy. I'll check back in the morning to see which pile this goes in. Military Fitness in 5 hours.

First full week of 2011

6 miles- The snow called me out for a last minute night run from Sam's house. It was dark, cold, and snowing like crazy, but was pretty enjoyable as it was pretty quiet. Planned on only doing four miles or so, but ended up doing six. The snow insulated the cold asphalt, so I got in a long overdue run in my Vibram KSOs. This run sort of set the tone for the week. Im not sure if it's the lack of sun, boredom, or the repetition of the same old routes, but I had a hard time getting my foot out the door.
7 miles- Once again, I stalled for nearly the entire day before just getting out the door and going for a run. Ran a nice 7 mile look at Muskegon State Park in the dark. My unpredictable difficulties with dizziness/spotty memory struck again as I ran the singletracks/deer runs in the park. I sat a minute or two to regain composure, then headed back to the car. This problem has yet to happen on a long or fast run, which makes in all the more confusing. Good run overall with lots of deer sightings. It was really strange to hear the waves colliding with ice on Lake Michigan, to be unable to see them in the dark. The fresh powder sitting atop frozen spots made for some tough navigation.
9 miles- Travelled back to Kalamazoo to help Abbey move and catch a long overdue run with Alex, Shawn, Steve, and Mark along with the rest of the Wednesday night group. I felt like a fish jumping back into water, joining the speedy group and running nice and easy at a good clip on the road.
13 miles- Met up with Rick, and Mark to run at Hoffmaster, but decided to go early to get some extra miles in. Explored some of the smaller singletracks  and stayed close to the beach, slipping and sliding on the icy trails. Met up the the guys for the last 5 before calling it a night.
10miles- Pretty flat, easy run from home on icy roads. The main roads were fairly busy, so I alternated between running on the icy shoulder, ankle deep slush, and occasionally the driving lane. I was suprised to find Samantha running the same loop. I think shes a closet ultrarunner. Upon crossing a busy road, I nearly did a "Dukes of Hazzard" hood slide. Note to self - non metropolitan drivers are generally unaware of pedestrian laws.
4 miles- nice hike around my home, running just fast enough to stay warm and get to where I wanted to go. Played aound with my camera and looked around behind the house. I haven't been back there in several years, so it was a very nostalgic feeling wandering behind the horse pasture where I spent my childhood.

A few more inches of snow, and this road looks like an ice tunnel.

One of the barn's security guards

An artifact from a previous life-and certainly one of the sources of my limp.

Unless I get some miles in the next few hours, put me down for a big fat goose egg.
49 miles
This week has been rather demoralizing for me. I attempted to steadily increase mileage the week, but was unable to do so. I fell to the vicious cycle of being idle. Nothing to do led to me doing nothing. Days would blur into each other and I found myself being less and less productive as time went on. I still had fun with family and friends, being a "normal" person for a while. It felt good, but I felt as if part of me was missing. Im happy to be back into the swing of things, but being home was great as well. I enjoyed the holidays, watched some good movies, and did a fair amount of sitting around. A highlight was finding a used copy of Incubus' album Monuments and Melodies. Im not sure if they're underrated, overrated, or just right, but they're one of the few bands that I've listened to since 7th grade and still haven't outgrown. Here's one of my favorites from the album.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Day by Day- 12/27/10-1/2/11

0 miles...unless you count walking around in stores. Went with Sam to return some stuff, get some dinner, and by groceries. Yes, it took pretty much all day. I wasn't thrilled to not get a run in, but I can't complain. Sat around in the morning and got lots of reading done, intermittently stopping to watch the ice melt off my roof.
30 miles- Headed for the North Country Trail with Jason. Our Goal was to leave the staging area before dawn, and we managed to do so. We intended to make a few stops, eat from our backpacks, and enjoy the snow. I'll post a write-up in another post. We were shooting for 50, but fell short for a few reasons. The snow and extra weight provided a pretty intense workout. It was great for training, but I only recall a few moments of being in the groove of effortless flight, my usual favorite thing about trail running. Certainly a very unfavorable ratio of effort/speed but it was a great experience.
11 miles- Left my house for some easy running to shake out my tired legs and feet. The only part that continued to hurt was my bruised back from yesterday's fastpacking adventure. The sun was shining brightly today and the run was great. I, for some reason, needed music to get my lazy self out the door, but turned it off after a few choice Incubus songs got me into a groove. Hopped onto some train tracks to get off the road for a bit and mix it up with a few miles of fist-sized rocks and the off camber slope of the tracks. I found it pretty impressive how the trees and brush continually try to overtake the railroad.
0 miles of running- Very frustrating day, but also enjoyable. Wanted to get a run in, but never found the time. Left in the morning for Grand Rapids to see the Bodies Revealed exhibit at the museum. Fantastic display and a fun trip with Sam, my sister(Megain), brother in-law, and mother. It was a really fun experience, but consumed the entire day by the time we returned home. further proof that even with a huge amount of padding, I can still manage to run low mileage weeks. I'll just keep telling myself that is part of the "off season."
9 miles- Possibly one of the nastiest days of weather this winter. The snow is gone, relplaced by pouring rain, mud and ice. I sit now, in front of my computer, eating a rather gross Hot Pocket, trying to find th motivation to run in the rain.
The rain let up around 1pm, so I headed to the trails at Muskegon State Park. I left the watch(and therefore odometer) at home and just ran around in a t-shirt and shorts for a while. The plan was to run the singletracks and hills until I felt tired, then go home. I did so, then hit the beach for about 30 minutes of barefoot running. No shoes(wore my MT100s for the majority of the run), t-shirt, shorts, and the beach...on New Years Eve? In Michigan? I learned never to get in the habit of dressing a certain way. Im not sure how far I ran, but lots of technical, icy singletrack sureley slowed my pace. I ended up running for a couple minutes shy of 2 hours. I stopped to watch some deer, picked up some garbage on the Muskegon Lake side of the beach, and climbed a tree to watch some waves roll in from the highest hill in the park, so I'll call it 9 miles to err on the conservative side.
5 miles- Sam and I made a trip to the State Park to do some hiking/running. It was incredibly cold, but we managed to get 5 miles in before calling it quits. We(especially I) underestimated the severity of the weather, but were quickly shown before even parking the car-several other park visitors were entirely covered and wearing parkas. We typically run the downhills and the flats, and power up the hills. I like this because hiking up steep, technical grades works my leg and core muscles differently than running. It takes longer and requires a bit more power than agility. Running is, of course, better training. Hiking was still a great way to spend 2 hours or so outside. The waves were huge on the lake, but my hands were far too cold to snap any shots.
20 miles- Jason and I planned on a night run due to schedule-related convenience and for a training effect. The better we can be accustomed to running at night, the better off we will be when I accompany him on the latter portion of Western States. I have spotty memories from our night at burning river...and I was merely the pacer. Learning to run when my body wants to sleep is definitely something I need to work on. Hiking 5miles, going out with friends, taking a 1 hour nap, and then running 20 miles in 5-8 degree weather seemed like a good idea at the time. We started out miserable, but quickly warmed up and I had a really enjoyable run. For some reason, the cold and dark gave a certain feel of adventure and mystery that made the empty town and roads seem not only bearable, but fun. I stopped at McDonalds afterward for 2 breakfast sandwiches and went home to pass out for a couple hours. More running in the afternoon seemed really inviting, but I ran out of time. My legs felt a little sore, but generally fresh after 5 hours of sleep. Better off saving my legs to start a new week fresh.
75 miles
This week has treated me really well, especially considering that I took 3 rest days. If all of my training weeks looked this way, I'd find myself with a great aerobic base, but leg speed would soon begin to vanish. At the end of most of my runs, I do some sort of very short intervals(typically a couple fast 1/4 mile accelerations) to remember what quick turnover feels like. This is helping to maintain, but is doing little to improve speed. Off season is beautiful- low mileage AND neglecting speedwork AND gaining a little weight. Im slowly starting to develop a little enthusiasm for high mileage and speed again.