Sunday, November 25, 2012

Turkey Trottin' Week

21? miles - 2:45 on the rolling hills at Yankee Springs and the North Country hiking trail. Nice back to back runs from yesterday and today, and I feel pretty good about it. It felt nice to do a little of what I used to, just putting miles on and enjoying the trails. I can tell that the pep would be taken from my step if I did it long term, so I'll go back to shorter, intense efforts for the weekdays. Great times with Evan on the trail, hoping to not get shot by the orange coats. Finished up with beer and fries. Nobody else was in the bar at 2pm. Weird, yeah?

zippity - Installed drywall at my sister's place, then went to work for exercise classes. I didn't really feel bad about missing a run, nor did I really *need* to skip it.

4 miles - Another busy-ish day of drywall, drinking apple pie flavored homemade liqour of some sort, and a little wood splitting. Snuck out for a late 4 miler, with alternating 30sec on/30sec off for about 5 minutes. Turkey Trot in the morning. I felt decidedly unfashionable for not getting drunk on the biggest bar night of the year, but Sam worked all day, and the obnoxiousness of the crowds appealed to neither of us. Lonely in solitude. Uncomfortable in groups. The human condition, isn't it?

6 miles - Barely a mile's worth of warmup, then the Thanksgiving day Turkey Trot at the Muskegon YMCA. A great turnout this year to raise moneys for the food bank. Over 600 people turned out for some good times in good weather. I really love these kinds of events, in spite of them being low-key and not geared toward "serious runners"(what does that even mean? We all just run around and go nowhere. How the hell is it serious?). Looking around at these places, inspiration is plentiful. Kids running their first 5ks. Adults making their first steps toward getting healthy. College kids coming home and being with Families. Exercise for it's own sake, and people enjoying each other. Big races like the Leadville 100 are unforgettable in their grand uniqueness, but the realization that fun exercise and a smiling commnity exist in our backyards on a daily basis is even better.

Anyway, 17:38 on a flat out/back 5k course. 600 people running, jogging, strollering, and dog-walking right at me down the bicycle path made for some fun obstacle course style running. Even jumped over a small kid who darted out in front of me(he's fine, I even got my legs high enough to clear his head). 1st place. Its incredibly fun to see everyone on the course, especially my own family. My mom, aunt, cousins, sister(8months pregnant and walking briskly, no less), and girlfriend were enjoying the morning too. A mid 17minute 5k is what I was running while training in college, and it usually resulted in being laid up for a couple days with a bruised foot or tweaked knee. Today? Absolutely no pain whatsoever. A win is a special thing no matter how small the venue, and I'm thankful for the boost in confidence that comes with being the fastest on that course on that particular day. All I have to do is run a whole minute per mile faster to be a real 5k'er. No thanks.

2 mile cooldown back to Samantha and 12 year old cousin Emily, who were running together, and ran them in.

5 miles - First snow accumulation of the year, a nice recovery run was perfect. Spent a couple hours stacking wood in the cold air, then took off for a nice 5 miler. Started out kind of stiff, which I think was mostly from sitting on my ass all afternoon yesterday. Should have doubled. Got down to a 7 minute mile for number 4 before cooling down, so I feel restored back to my normal state.

4 miles - damn, I'm slacking this week. Fairly typical behavior for me, given the circumstances. The long runs tend to suck the ambition to plod out more boring miles. The holiday has presented more social obligations, as has the temporary joining of family into the "not-so employed club" due to holiday vacations. And I'm sure my subconscious has proclaimed "You've won two local, turkey-themed 5ks recently. If you don't back it down a bit, you'll be in the same boat as that Armstrong fellow."

...oh, right, the run. 4 miles in about 27 minutes. Did it as sort of a "blind time trial." Set my stopwatch on the table in the garage, did the loop, and checked it. Not an all out effort, but I knew the clock was running.

AM - 1 hour at the State Park. Ran about aimlessly, taking some pictures along the way. 5 miles worth would be my best guess. Lots of stopping and looking around, which just felt right. Every day can't be fast I guess.
Nice overlook over Snug Harbor.

One of my favorite hills to slog up. Holding a running gait up it is tough.
...unless you're staging a photo of course.

Great little section of trail. I think it's a deer run. One slip and you're cartwheeling down to "Lost Lake."
Cool overlook that was recently installed over the Gulf Coastal Plain.

PM - 2 miles - Kind of a random run. The sun popped out for a moment, so I did too. Only double of the week.

47 miles for the week. I told myself I'd chill out after the 68 mile week, and apparently I'm good at doing what I'm told, provided it involves laziness. Trust the plan, trust the plan, trust the plan, even if it's my own plan that doesn't jive with conventional ultra wisdom. 5k legs with just enough endurance just might beat a conditioned shuffler if I play my cards right.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Road Worrier

28 miles - (3:22) - Yep. An actual ultra distance run, albeit barely. A sparse dusting of snow was coming down this morning, and I knew I wanted to snag a long run to take advantage of a few mellow days of running last weekend.  The weather was awfully cold and wet, but hey, I had nothing better to do. Tights, my favorite joggin' flannel, hat, gloves, and my Ultraspire Spry vest. I put bananas in the back pocket, and GU in the zipper pocket. Perhaps I shall rename it the "banana hammock."

Started out easy and settled in for a long, boring jog along the roads that snake along the Muskegon River. It's not pancacke flat, but not not incredibly hilly. There are a few climbs of 100-300 feet, and a bit of a rolling flow to it. As far as roads go, it's tolerable. Before I knew it, the Garmin was ticking off miles in the 6:50-7:15 range. I just rolled with it, focusing on breathing from my belly and staying relaxed. Regardless of pace, I have to focus on staying relaxed and keeping my stride light. Doesn't matter if it's 10min/miles, 6min/miles, or 12. If I'm going to get my shit together, I have to make sure I can keep running even when it hurts. I'll get there, but for now, I'll be happy with the way this first installment of monthly long runs has gone.

AM - 3 miles(24:00) - Planned on an easy 6, but felt decidedly un-recovered from yesterday. My legs felt heavy, my intercostal muscles were sore, and I just felt sort of off. Called it good at 1.5 miles and turned around. No time to drive to the trails, and 28 miles of roads yesterday had my mind saying "no more roads, please."

This run, in spite of it's brevity, was enlightening. The sore, achy feeling was not only unpleasant, but vaguely familiar. I realized that it was familiar because it's how I felt for almost two years. I've been on the wrong side of the thin line between pushing limits and exceeding them. For the past couple months, I've been feeling better than ever. I'll try to keep it that way.

This is difficult as well. I'm getting quite excited about ramping up my training and moving on to a new phase but a slow recovery from a long run kind of took the wind out of my sails. On the plus side, there are no injuries to speak of, and I'm excited for a workout tomorrow. I may never put together weeks of back to back awesomeness like my ultrarunning heroes, but I can do the best I can with what I've got. I'll stop babbling and go to work now.

PM - 4 hours of water exercise. This may be the other thing that is keeping me feeling spry lately. Working on the core muscles while gently stretching and going the the range of motion of all joints for 4 hours has me feeling pretty great.

AM - 7 miles - 7 miles, right? Yeah, whatever. 7 miles. 3 mile warmup on the trails with Evan at the State Park, then 7 repeats of the Block House hill. The first was an easy time trial, but ended up being faster than the others. Fresh legs I guess. Each climb was in the 1minute range, with the last 20 seconds being about a 15% grade. Jelly legs and near vomitting by the end, which felt kind of awesome. 2-3 mile cooldown afterward.

PM - 4 miles - Shakeout in the dark. Felt a bit sluggish on this one, but got down to a normal pace by the end. Around the block, then out to the barn to feed animals.

9 miles - An easy/flat run from home, just for kicks. Overall pace was about 7:10. Somehow, my cruising pace has gone from 7:45 to 7:00-7:15 on flats and rollers. I won't question, but keep the course steady and keep the fingers crossed.

Water classes at night, followed by a 3 hour drive up North for hunting.

0.0 miles. Lots of swamp/woods walking with a gun and backpack strapped to my back, and big ass boots on my feet, but no running. Some serenity and tranquility in the woods. Not used to struggling to keep warm. The constant movement usually takes care of it. The sitting part was tough. In primitive times, I would have been to slow/sickly to be a persistence hunter, and too impatient/blind to be a "sit and wait" hunter. I guess I would have been a farmer.

...also didn't see a damned deer. Winning a turkey at a 5k has proven to be a more fruitful and cost effective form of hunting.

13ish miles. Met up with Jeff at Hoffmaster for his long run. It was the best weather we've seen in a while, and it was great to trot around on the trails with Jeff. 2 hours and 15 minutes of hills, trails, and beach sand. There was a special hunt going on in the park, so we had to stay in one particular part. Not sure how cramming 17 dudes who "will be shooting at movement"(the words of the steward who told us to leave), into a 30-40 acre plot of land with a bunch of deer who have never known hunters is okay, but I don't argue with people with guns, even if they're lazy pussies.

4 miles easy with Samantha and her baby-eating pitbull at the State Park. Mostly hiking, but an hour and a half of working against sand kept the heart rate up.

Is distance worth noting, no matter the pace? Ah, who gives a shit? I'll start wearing a pedometer all the time and logging my Christmas shopping at the mall while I'm at it.

68 miles - Considering two days off, this is a solid week. 68 miles is creeping into the "high mileage" range for this hobbyjogger. I guess when you run more than a marathon on the first day, its easy to knock off low mileage for the rest and still get a half-decent total. Though I wasn't happy to take two consecutive days off, it's no big deal. Still got some execercise and about 16 hours of fresh air each day. Within three days, I pulled off a fast-ish marathon+ and a hill workout. Cool beans.

...once again, I just have to stay mindful of injuries and try to keep the legs snappy.

Happy Thanksgiving, readers(friends, family, people who were searching for shoes, people who searched that weird picture of Street Sharks I posted a year ago and gave me more hits than anything else, etc.) !

Sunday, November 11, 2012

All Out-of-Doorsy and What Not

AM - 5 miles(35:05) - Just a cruise around the block to ease back into the week. First day this year that it's been "cold," not just "chilly." Tights, arm sleeves, hat, gloves, and 7min/miles couldn't warm me up. Not what I'd call an easy pace since I had to focus on my stride, but it felt smooth.

3 hours of splitting, hauling, and stacking firewood.

I woke up this morning and caught myself in a mental state that I shall avoid forever. I thought about my employment situation, and said to myself "I'm in a transitional time, I'll wait and it will get better." I never want to take such a passive approach to life. Certainly, there are times when patience is required for success. That fact lends itself to apathy and loss of focus. On a large scale, I need to put forth more effort to pursue my passion. On a day-to-day scale, I can't sit on my ass and wait until tomorrow to go to my part-time job. I grabbed my splitting maul and decided that if I'm not able to afford my own apartment/dog/baby/whatever the proverbial "next step" toward a stressful adult life is, I'll do my part to keep my family's home warm. Life is one transition from birth to death. If we spend too much time in a "waiting state," then that's all it will ever be.

A 14lb wedge welded to a pipe. As long as I can keep picking it up over my head, it does most of the work.
PM - 5 miles(34:20) - Afternoon run. Felt warmed up much earlier in this outing than the morning run, so it was a bit faster due to the first mile being faster. Same loop as the AM, but in reverse. On these runs, I run on the edge of the road. It's equally as boring as a road, but it has a few more obstacles to contend with that offer the chance to switch up the gait. Potholes, discarded McDonald's cups, dead animals, etc. It may be a temporary thing, but I love these runs.

An entire day spent outside. It was great.

 AM - 10 miles... I guess. 1 hour and 40 minutes on trails at the state park.  No pace or distance, so I'll just assume a pace of 10min/miles and divide. I was likely running a bit faster, but this could help even out all the bullshitting I do on a regular basis. Really relaxing run of varying intensities. Barely visible deer trails, crushed limestone, root-laden single track. A little of everything. Just kept saying to myself, "stay." Stay focused. Stay away from the car for at least 90 minutes. Stay upright.  Stay in that cool yurt building if the door happens to be unlocked.

PM - The usual - 4 hours in the pool doing active recovery, core work, super light cardio. Felt great afterward.

AM - 7 miles or so. 1 hour run. I was bored and didn't have the time to drive to the park for a run. This head cold came back with a vengence and sapped motivation to do a workout. Behind my house is an old, overgrown single track loop on 2 acres. I used to use it as a "test and tune" area for my dirtbike when I'd work on it. Not enough room for a good ride since its flat and sparsely wooded, but enough room to see if I got the jetting right on the carb, or adjust this or that. I ran around this loop for 60 minutes, each loop taking less than 2 minutes. Boring to say the least. The trail was filled with small tree limbs, thorns, and horse shit. If discomfort is a part of mental training, then this was a successful day.

Itchy, wooly legs.

4 miles - 45 minute jog was all I could muster on this day. Woke up feeling crappier than I've felt since beginning my bout of this cold. Barely coherent, I drove to Hoffmaster State Park in between leading my exercise classes(tought 6 today). Really easy loping around on the cross-country trails. It was so cloudy that a headlight was nearly required at 2:30pm. Today was a day that I don't feel as though I ever woke up before going to sleep. Tomorrow will be better.

AM - 7 miles - 3 mile warmup on the trails of the State Park. Mostly the more technical trails and sandy hills. Circled back to the car to do 6x1min repeats on the Block House hill. Not a super intense workout, but I wanted to get some intensity in to help shake the sickness out. I tentatively planned on a long run today(20-25 miles), but didn't want to tax the weakened immune system. 3 more miles to cool down on the gravel trails.

PM - 4 miles - Some easy jogging from home after lunch. Easy 7:30-8:00 pace for miles 1,2, and 4. Mile three was a 6:15, just for shits and giggles.

PM - 2 miles - I got bored. I hate TV and being inside lately, so I went out for a couple more. One tiny hill, maybe 50ft over 1/8mile.

Wore 3 different pairs of shoes today. inov-8 Trail Roc 235s, New Balance 1600s, and Brooks Cascadia 4's. All felt fine. Maybe all the ailments I've been blaming on shoes have just been my own sloppy form all along. Interesting. Maybe tinkering with shoes of varying weight, heel drop, cushioning, and sole thickness could allow for simultaneous stretching/strengthening/recovery of lower limb connective tissues.

A day off, and none too thrilled about it. I did, however, spend 4 hours stomping around in the dense swamps of Northern Lower Michigan getting hunting spots ready. The vegetation is so thick that my father, brother-in-law and I had to mark our way in(and out) with a hatchet to avoid getting lost. Two stream crossings, one of which required the building of a makeshift bridge. Our old one was washed away by the waist-high stream. We used logs and dead pine branches to make ground blinds. Not exactly high-intensity exercise, but it was 4 hours of stomping around in cold, wet boots and carrying soaked wood.
I also sharpened my hatchet throwing skills. Useless tricks are my specialty.
1 hour hike and a 4 mile run at the State Park. Running out of creative things to say about trails I run on a near-daily basis. Beautiful area with some challenging terrain, and some easy running.

48 miles. Ouch. Had some nice progress going there. Damned cold and a whole day off took its toll on the total.Some solid days that I refuse to believe were "undone" by not running. I've vowed to take less stock in the quantity of miles run, even though I'm aspiring to a 100 miler. I'm due for my monthly long run, so maybe I'll take advantage of some fresh legs.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Doin' as I Please

9 miles - 1 hour at the State Park + 2 miles at home. Not quite a "double" since it was only about 20 minutes between the runs. Just an hour of continuous running over the gravel cc loop and the sandy ridges and hills. I was thinking about how lucky I am to live so close to such a park. It's not the expansive trail system of the Boulder area, but it's less crowded provides adequate training grounds.

5 miles - Apparently the cold wasn't done waging war on my body. Felt achy, lethargic, and my joints hurt. An easy run at Hoffmaster, followed by some off trail running. Chugged up the back of a large dune to get a view of the big waves. Though I'm probably able to attempt a workout, I think it would be best to let the sick feelings pass. Not a bad run, considering it was 40 degrees and raining.

Typical 4 hours of water aerobics instruction. At least I have some exercise built into my day.

4 miles - 30 minute run from home. Slept nearly 12 hours last night, still woke up feeling stuffy and congested. An easy jog to keep from feeling cooped up and to clear my sinuses out. I realized that I may be a streaker. Perhaps trying to avoid total days off could benefit me.

AM - 17.5 miles. 2:01. Ran most of the Grand Rapids Riverbank Run course. Some rolling hills, but mostly pavement. E. Greez and I were really dreading this run, but did it anyway. I was aprehensive considering I'm barely feeling recovered from this cold, but I thought I might be able to hammer it out. To run 7:00 miles at such a casual perceived effort felt good. Headed to work for 4 hours of pool exercise classes.

...When I think of how well this run went, its a bit disconcerting. Though it was a successful run, I still realize the general not-so-awesomeness of it. Does a 2 hour 18 miler in any way indicate a successful 100? Maybe, maybe not. I've got a plan in my head, a goal in my mind, and a good feeling in my gut. I'm enjoying my training. Is it sad that 5 weeks is the longest I've ever trained consistently? It's exciting to build momentum and get a glimpse of the shape of things to come. I've had success in the past. That was almost two years ago. It's time to get over myself and accept that work will get me back to where I was. Starting where I am, not where I wish I was. I can run long and slow. These days, you have to run long and fast. I'm cool with that.

AM -  2 hour outing at Muskegon State Park. 5 miles on the ski trail, then a little over an hour in the dunes. While warming up on the ski trail, I felt disoriented and my vision was blurred. Had to slow down to a crawl and make it back to the car. Sat on my tailgate eating an apple and drinking water for a few minutes before heading to the sand. Mostly just hiking up the dunes and running the downhills. Testing out the sand proofiness of the MT110W. Awesome shoe for sand and (probably) slush.
If yesterday was about fast, easy gliding, then today was other side of the coin. Slogging up the uncooperative grades of sand trying to embrace the toils of hard, slow movement. Discouraging and encouraging at the same time.

PM - 3 miles (22:00) on the dirt roads in my Trailroc 235s. Free shoes, bitches! Review coming soon. Just when I thought I'd tank my blog with boring weekly mileage reports and no pictures...oh wait, that's been every week for two months.

7 miles - Maybe 6. 10 minutes of jogging with Ryan before the Turkey Trail Trot Gobble Wobble 5k Drumstick Dash Gravy Gallop or whatever it's called. A hilly, sandy trail 5k at Hoffmaster. It's on my favorite local trails, and my week has been pretty light on the workouts. Started out with the lead pack, and realized I was in the front. Once the course left the parking lot and started climbing, I stayed in front until the end. I think the hill repeats paid off, since I was able to put ground on 2nd and 3rd on the climbs. I feel like a poacher for winning a 5k with a 20 flat, but it was honestly a pretty fun course. Admittedly, I ran just hard enough to win. Running fast on technical trails is a lot of fun. I think I'll be signing up for more trail 5/10ks if I can afford it. I haven't won a race in a while, and it's a good feeling that should help spur me on in training. I don't expect to win or set a course record any time soon...unless I find another inaugural running of a virtually unadvertised race. Hey, I'm a drastically underemployed college graduate who lives at home with his parents and an ungodly amount of cats. If this is the beginning of a rags to riches story, it's a good one. Give me my fuckin' win, okay?

Cooled down 3 miles on the trails. inov8 trailroc 235s are awesome. This is #4 on my list of race wins, all of which are done on brand new, previously untested shoes.

6 miles - 3.2 on the trails around Lost Lake and adjacent ridges with Ryan, then 2-3 miles of hiking with Samantha.

2 hours of hauling/stacking wood with Ryan. Seriously, just stacking firewood. Sounds dirty...not that there's anything wrong with that.

60 miles. Once again, things went well this week. In spite of feeling sick and haggard early on, it evened out nicely. A bit of a breakthrough mid/long run, my first  real doubles in a while, some strength-building dunes, and a 5k win. Great hike on the lakeshore to top it off, and I'll call it a solid week. Slowly and steadily, I'll get there. As long as I don't get injured or lose interest or get a real job or any other such thing.

Enjoy whatever you're doing. I truly am.

"Adhere to your purpose and you will soon feel as well as you ever did. On the contrary, if you falter, and give up, you will lose the power of keeping any resolution, and will regret it all your life."
 - Abraham Lincoln

Halloween Ridiculousness.