Friday, December 28, 2007

Doubling my fun

10:35 AM - 8 miles, 58:00 - Millbury.
Out-n-back in Millbury with Sean and Di. Nice to see the sun come out again.

6:15 PM - 6 miles, 42:40 - Industrial Park.
Easy does it in the dark.

Quote of the Day

"I don’t like people messing with me when I’m running. That’s my protective space."
- Brian Pope, U.S. master's stud

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Line 'em up

7:10 AM - 10 miles, 1:09:05 - Auburn.
The week of random road runs around town lives on. Kept the pace easy/steady for the most part, then threw in 6 x 20/40 strides on the way home to stretch the legs out a bit.

Between work, Christmas, catching up with old pals, a whole slew of house-related stuff and an increase in my training load I've been one busy dude of late. No complaints though, as I've got most of my ducks in a row. At least I think I do, anyway.

Due to the aforementioned goings on, the content of this here blog has taken a hit similar to the ones Eli Manning will experience on Saturday night. While I'm trying to scrape my creative juices off the ground over these next few days, let me offer some alternative reading material to make the time pass by a little quicker. Rest assured, this blog will rise again; as for ol' Eli, it probably won't come as easy for him after this weekend.

Quote of the Day

"Like the marathon, I kept putting one foot in front of the other. Whenever I ran up against a wall, I looked for ways around it and ultimately succeeded."
- Jon Dunham, writer, producer and director for the film "Spirit of the Marathon"

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


7:25 AM - 10 miles, 1:03:00 - Auburn.
Same loop as Monday morning but solo and 8 minutes faster this time around. First 6-1/2 miles in 42:29, last 3-1/2 in 20:31 [5:43, 3:23 (0.5 mi), 5:44, 5:41].

Sorry, but I'm going to be boring for a couple more days... if I were ever all that exciting to begin with.

Quote of the Day

"Nilan dika hasara." Whatever happens, happens.
- Kenyan philosophy

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

17 for Santa

9:30 AM - 11 miles, 1:21:30 - Pakachoag.
3rd Annual Christmas Run with KG, along with new additions Sean and Erin. Awesome run, might have to start flying more people in for this one next year.

5:50 PM - 6 miles, 42:55 - Fallon 6.
Easy does it after a day of gluttony. 6 x 20-second strides on the way home.

Quote of the Day

"You look like a Jewish Muslim."

- Dad commenting on the stylishness, or apparent lack thereof, of my new knit skull cap (pictured above)

Monday, December 24, 2007

'Tis the season to be icing

7:35 AM - 10 miles, 1:11:00 - Auburn.
Random road run around town with Rob - 10.25 miles according to his Polar RS 400SD. Might need to get me one of these gizmos.

You know you're in rough shape when you stop at home between family visits on Christmas Eve so you can ice various parts of your ailing anatomy.

No worries though, just preventative maintenance so I can take part in the annual Christmas Day run tomorrow morning. Can't wait!

Quote of the Day

"We've come here to find something out. I want to see what those bastards are made of, and remember this is only a stepping stone on the way to what we're after."
- Peter Coe, to his son Sebastian, before he went out in a blistering 49.3 seconds for the first 400 meters at the Prague 800 in 1978. Coe was eventually passed in the final straightaway by Steve Ovett and Olaf Beyer, who won the race in a world-leading time of 1:43.8.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Sunday stroll

8:30 AM - 12 miles, 1:30:00 - Milford.
Easy first hour with Rich & Rob, then solo for the last 30 minutes w/6 x 25-second hill charges to get the heart rate up a bit.

Quote of the Day

"There's always room for improvement, always something you can do better. I learned that if you can't do everything you want to do, you've still got to keep plugging."
- Alan Webb

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Early 11

7:05 AM - 11 miles, 1:13:30 - Auburn.
Another random road run around town before work, 11.75 miles according to G-Maps. No wind, no traffic and relatively clear roads made this one pretty enjoyable.

70 miles in 8 runs for the first week back after the mini-break. Weather wise it was tough going but I managed to get the miles in without too much trouble. I'll gradually keep building mileage and intensity from here but I've got 17 weeks to get where I need to be so no need to rush anything.

Quote of the Day

"So if you want to be exceptional at something, you have to make hard choices. You have to be brutally honest with yourself."
- Nate Jenkins in this month's New England Runner

Friday, December 21, 2007

A healthy dose of rhythm

12:45 PM - 10 miles, 1:15:30 - Milford.
Rhythm workout w/Rob. 13:03 warmup, 3 miles at 18:45 (6:00, 6:23, 6:22), 6:00 easy jogging, 2 miles at 12:42 (6:15, 6:27) 25:00 cooldown w/6 x 15-second strides.

My day off from work was chock full of a bunch of bank-related house bullshit to take care of, but the good news is that a good chunk of it is finally out of the way and life should be a little less hectic from now until I close on the place in a few weeks.

After a morning full of running around from this office to that bank, signing one document and initialing another, I finally met up with Rob at Rich's house in Milford. Rob's a good friend of Rich's who is up here visiting from DC for a few days, and he's also been training under my watchful e-mail eye for about a month now. My afternoon off from work allowed the two of us to meet up for today's scheduled rhythm workout of 3 miles at half marathon pace (~6:25/mile), 6-8 minutes jog recovery, 2 more miles at HMP. For the first time in his 37 years, Rob is finally training and not just running - yes, there is a HUGE difference - and we pretty much went 3 for 5 today on hitting the prescribed pace while only seriously butchering one of those miles, which was no one's fault but my own. All things considered the workout went very well, and it was pretty neat to do the hands-on coaching thing and see the prescribed training plan in action. Come February, Rob's race results will show if said Rx is strong enough or if the dosage needs to be adjusted.

Quote of the Day

“It's a spiritual thing. It's like breathing to me. It's who I am. I think psychologically, certain people, that's just who we are.”
- Dave Dial, who ran 2:24 at Boston at the age of 19.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Kickin' it old school

8:35 AM - 12 miles, 1:22:00 - Worcester State.
New loop down Hope Ave, past the cemeteries, into Webster Square, across to Mill Street, around Worcester State and back. 7:18 first mile, 6:17 for the last one. Felt pretty good.

Today marked my longest run in the past few weeks and other than slogging through two inches of fresh slush it actually wasn't all that bad. This winter thing is getting real old, real fast but since it's not going anywhere anytime soon I'll just shut up, deal with it and keep my complaining to a minimum. Casey's blowing out the belt on his treadmill, Jeff's sneaking in miles on the job, Terry and Voce are spending their Sunday mornings running in a parking garage, Nate's throwing down 17.6K progression runs at 5:30 average on sloppy roads and I have no idea what Ryan's been up to since he doesn't update his blog anymore but I'm almost positive he's been clicking off sub-6 minute miles on Raytheon's treadmill during his lunch hour.

Bottom line is I've got no excuses. None of the aforementioned fellas make excuses, old-school Mario never made any, and there's no reason for the present-day version to be doing so, either. If I want to bust out at Boston I've got to suck it up and get going, shitty road conditions and woeful weather be damned.

Quote of the Day

"People want to be good -- right now. They think that a couple months of training should put them in great shape. But it doesn't happen overnight -- you're changing tissue: heart, circulatory system and muscle cell tissue. Katie McGregor's running isn't about what she did this year, it's about what she did last year, what she did the last four years. The most important thing in athletic improvement is consistency."
- Dennis Barker, coach of Team USA Minnesota

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

'Tis the season

7:30 AM - 8 miles, 51:20 - McCracken Rd.
First 4 miles pretty easy, last 4 at 5:40-6:00 pace on mostly clear roads. Felt good to move a little faster for once.

It's the most wonderful time of the year - cold temps, accumulating precipitation and sloppy roads notwithstanding. No, this isn't another bitch session about the woeful winter weather we've experienced so far this season but rather a brief acknowledgment of good friends returning home for the holidays, the accompanying increase in seasonal training partners that comes along with those very same friends returning, family coming together, gifts exchanging hands and the general good cheer brought on by all the aforementioned.

'Tis the season, and despite the recent weather woes, it's definitely the best time of the year.

Quote of the Day

"Live the dream."
- Stephen Haas, spreading the universal message of the WHTC

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Enough already

8:20 AM - 10 miles, 1:13:00 - Auburn.
All over town on whatever clear stretches of road I could find, which wasn't many. This shit is getting real old, real fast.

I don't feel much like complaining in detail about the weather, whining about the road conditions or writing about anything else for that matter. I do feel like going to bed though, so that's what I'll do instead. G'night.

Quote of the Day

"Laziness is nothing more than the habit of resting before you get tired."
- Jules Renard

Monday, December 17, 2007

18 and counting

8:30 AM - 6 miles, 45:15 - Industrial Park.
Roads were a sloppy mess but not nearly as bad as I anticipated.

7:10 PM - 4 miles, 30:00 - AHS.
Back-n-forth on a ~150-meter carpeted stretch of the second and third floor hallways at the high school. 6 x 20 second strides during the last 10 minutes to mask the monotony.

I had these grandiose plans of summarizing my summer/fall of racing and training in this entry but it's amazing how fast my motivation waned over the course of 12 hours today. Lots of non-running related life stuff to take care of on my day off from work, but better to worry about those things now than on a Monday in April.

Like the one that happens to fall exactly 18 weeks from today.

That's right, 18 weeks. Let the countdown to Boston begin.

That leaves me 126 or so days to get myself in the most rip-roaring, run-till-I-drop, kickass shape I've ever been in for a long distance race. I'll need to stay healthy and train consistently to get to there, and if I'm able to do that I'm confident I can bust out a big one on Patriots Day.

As far as training goes, the general idea will be to get my mileage back up over the next 6 weeks and follow that up with 10 weeks of specific marathon prep and a two-week taper. I have a handful of races penciled in, including the Frostbite 15K, Paddy Kelly 5-miler, Stu's 30K and the New Bedford 1/2 Marathon. That list will likely change and be amended accordingly depending on how things progress over the next few months.

There will be pretty good-sized group of local studs and studdesses hoping to make a big splash on April 21 and I'm really looking forward to pounding the pavement with some of these fast folks as we prepare for Patriots Day. If you're not part of this crew, it's OK - just give us a good shout on Marathon Monday.

Quote of the Day

"What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from."
- T.S. Eliot (swiped from Casey)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Bitchy weather

4:35 PM - 9 miles, 1:00:00 - Treadmill.
Round and round on the rat wheel during/after work. Started at 7:30 pace, got down to 5:25-30 for the last couple minutes but kept it between 6:15-45 for the most part.

OK, so the elements didn't stop me today but they sure as hell kept me inside. Six fresh inches of snow, 30 mph wind gusts and freezing rain coming at me sideways forced me to alter my plans of throwing down an hour on the roads this morning. All was not lost, however, because I did have to work today and luckily we have one of those big fancy electric conveyor belts at the store that allowed me to do my best Casey Moulton impression without worrying if I was going to end up flat on my ass or not. I'm very fortunate to have this redundant option at my disposal for inclement occasions such as today but let me tell you that sucker sure is boring as hell. I don't know how you rat wheelers do it with any sort of regularity, but better you guys than me. I want nothing to do with that contraption if I can help it, so hopefully Mother Nature can give the road warriors amongst us a break and quit being a bitch. Judging by the forecast though, it looks to be that time of the month and we're just going to have to suck it up and wait out the storm. Fact of life, I guess.

Quote of the Day

"I think when you're hot and it's your time in the sun you've got to get out there and do it."
- Todd Williams on why you can't be afraid to get out there and race.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Celebratory Saturday

7:40 AM - 7 miles, 47:15 - Rockland 7.
Sub-7's felt pretty easy despite temps in the low teens. 6 x 20/40 strides on the way in. Maybe I need to take more days off, sleep less, or drink more often. Or not.

Work is done for the day and I'm off to the New Balance Boston festive occasion to celebrate a great season, great teammates, a great coach and a whole slew of other great things. It will most assuredly be a great time.

As for running this week, there wasn't much of it. 28 miles, two days off, too much beer, too many desserts and not nearly enough sleep. It's back to business tomorrow morning, weather permitting.

C'mon now, like a little precipitation ever stopped me.

Quote of the Day

"If you work hard, you are sure to improve."
- Ted Corbitt

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Preventive post

A few unexpected occurrences prevented me from posting yesterday, namely a big development on the house front, a nasty nor'easter and a chance encounter with an unforgiving spirit named Patron.

Oddly enough, the aforementioned occurrences took place in the aforementioned order, and by the time Patron cast his spell on me I was in no shape to type a coherent entry. Hey, it's my week off and I'm using that as my excuse - for everything, apparently.

10 inches of snow doesn't help matters either. The excessive accumulation of fluffy white shit yesterday was just that - excessive and shitty - and forced me to crash at Casey and Kate's place last night rather than drive home from Westboro after work. No blog, no problem though. We had a good time.

As for big news on the house, I'll no longer be moving into the cypress green dwelling at 65 Sophia Drive I've pictured on here many a time. My request to upgrade the living room and dining room carpets to hardwood floors turned into something of an entire house upgrade instead. Well, sort of. Let me explain.

At the time of my upgrade request I was informed of a similar style unit to mine with all the same features that was left over from the first phase of the development because the buyer backed out of the sale at the last minute. If interested, which I was, I could give it a look and decide if I'd like to switch houses, close a couple weeks earlier and save myself some dinero in the process.

If I decided not to do it than I probably wouldn't blog about it, so if you hadn't figured it out already, yes, I switched lots to 40 Sophia Drive. What's this mean? Not a whole lot, no pun intended. In a nutshell, I'll no longer have to climb a hill to get to my house, my backyard will require less maintenance and the exterior color scheme has shifted from green to gray. Like I could tell the difference anyway.

Quote of the Day

"Have other activities and interests...Good running alone will end up with you 35 years old and showing up to Sunday road races in a 1972 Volkswagen bus that you live in."
- Mark Wetmore

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Weekend Update, Part Deux

So I left off yesterday's entry with me getting back to the hotel in the wee hours of Sunday morning after an evening of sanctioned debauchery gone bad at the meet's host hotel. After a brief phone chat with my best bud Sean out in San Diego, I got to bed somewhere around 1, woke up to a clattering of beer bottles in the fridge just after 2 and quickly fell back asleep before a thundering knock on the door at the ungodly hour of 4:45 forced me to actually get my ass out of bed. Maloney, the intended recipient of all the commotion, was not getting up. Luckily for him, however, the little lass with the loud knock entered with a vengeance, gave the poor bastard a good tug and after some persuasive prodding, all was again silent. I quickly fell back asleep, only to wake back up again two hours later wondering what in the hell had just happened.

After a quick scan of the room revealed Maloney left behind his Reach the Beach jacket and the clanging I heard some 4 or so hours earlier was my 6 bottles of Sam Winter apparently sneaking themselves out of the refrigerator, I needed to remove myself from the premises. So what does one do first thing in the morning after 4-1/2 hours of choppy sleep? Go running, of course. Luckily for me, Shauneen, who probably slept a lot more soundly than I did and awoke without the stress of worrying about a half dozen wounded soldiers, was down for an easy 30 minutes.

OK, so the easy out-n-back on the deserted roads of Mason actually took 31 minutes, but the good company and good conversation made it well worth the extra 60 seconds. Afterwards, I showered quickly, saw my remaining teammates off to the airport, got confirmation that my six missing soldiers did indeed end up in good hands, packed my bags, met up with Driscoll and K.Gwyth, checked out of the hotel and made the short walk over to Bob Evans for an epic 2-hour-and-45 minute breakfast while waiting for our ride up to Ann Arbor. The atmosphere at Bob's restaurant was comfortably quaint, the food was actually pretty good and the coffee went down smoothly, perhaps too smoothly as evidenced by the half or dozen or so refills the waitress filled my cup with.

Around noon time the three of us hopped in a car with Anna Willard and her boy toy/third-place finisher from the men's race the day before, Jon Pierce of ZAP Fitness, for the 3+ hour drive up to the land of the Big Blue. Despite riding bitch the whole way in a cramped backseat, an increasingly sore ass and pulsating hamstrings the last 45 minutes, the ride north passed by pretty quickly.

In the interest of not further boring those of you still reading this, rather going into sickening detail about the rest of my brief, but very kickass stay in Ann Arbor with Driscoll and K. Gwyth, I'll conveniently provide the Cliff Note's outline version instead. Here goes.

1. Dropped off bags.
2. Stopped by Tortoise & Hare. Purchased souvenir t-shirt.
3. Went out to dinner with Driscoll, K. Gwyth and a 5-foot-4-inch African named Boaz.
4. Sat down to aforementioned dinner in a wet pair of pants. Learned that Boaz is "crazy man, just crazy." He also doesn't like pasta, bagels or french fries, in case you were wondering.
5. Hit up the State Theatre with Driscoll for an 8:45 showing of No Country for Old Men.
6. Crashed hard. Real hard.
7. Up and at 'em by 7:45 on Monday morning, drove out to a dirt road, slid down the hill in Driscoll's truck, realized our original plan of running on soft ground wasn't going to work and elected to run 5 miles in downtown AA instead. Followed an icy little jaunt up with a greasy breakfast at the Fleetwood Diner, which is no Town Common, but more than did the trick.
8. Showered back at the apartment, sat around on the couch and shot the shit for a couple hours, grabbed some coffee with Driscoll, tooled around downtown Ann Arbor for a bit, picked the brain of a fellow running store manager at Running Fit before finally meeting back up with Katie for lunch and gelato at Zingerman's Deli, which gets my vote for the best lunch spot anywhere, ever.
9. Took a couple pictures, dished out some hugs and headed to the airport with Marky Mark, who never fails in keeping me entertained.
10. Checked in for my flight(s), grabbed more coffee, hopped a plane to Baltimore and eventually ended up in Providence where I was picked up my padre at 9:45 PM, thus ending one of the best extended weekends of my life. Definitely a top-3 candidate, right up there with Vermont City Marathon weekend this past summer and Cape Week '04.

And with that, I'll end my second straight day of rambling and get my ass to bed. I hereby excuse myself from any extended entries of any sort for the rest of the week. Goodnight.

Quote of the Day

"You're all nuts."
- K. Gwyth, speaking the fortunate - that's right, no "un" necessary here - truth.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Weekend Update, Part I

The race results and the police reports may indicate otherwise, but let me tell you it was a great weekend in West Chester, Ohio and its surrounding areas.

So without further adue, here's the blow-by-blow, I mean day-by-day, recap of the 2008 edition of USATF Club Cross Country Nationals.

It all started on Friday morning when I was picked up by an identically-dressed sharp looking teammate with an equally awesome Italian last name and shiny silver Saabaru for the quick trip west on I-90 out to Chicopee, where we would meet up with Ned and Shauneen, the charter members of a select faction known as New Balance Boston-West.

After arriving at the East Coast headquarters of Skybus buslines, I mean airlines, we sat around on some of the most comfortable folding chairs you'll ever find in an airport terminal while waiting out a brief travel delay. Before we knew it, the four of us were flying the friendly (and cheap!) skies all the way out to Columbus, Ohio on a brandy new orange jet that was so chock full of innovative engineering even Ryan was impressed. Upon landing in Columbus, Ned took command of a not-so-pimped-out Chevy Impala and kept us wildy entertained (unprepared folks would likely have been mortified) on the relatively non-scenic 90-minute drive down to the strip mall metropolis of the world - Mason, Ohio.

Since a 45-minute wait for dinner and an 11 o'clock bed time don't exactly make for entertaining commentary I'll skip ahead to Saturday, which for me started at 7:30 AM when I rolled out of bed and right into my 767's for a 10-minute shakeout and some easy strides. I followed that up with a quick stretch and my standard pre-race breakfast of a couple mini bagels with peanut butter, strawberry yogurt, banana and well-timed trip to Starbucks with Jess and Kevin for the oh-so-important pre-race cup of coffee. It's a tried-and-true recipe for success, in theory anyway.

The rest of the morning was relatively low key and consisted of me watching Sports Center about eight more times before meeting up with Ryan, Ned and Justin for the short ride over to Voice of America Park. Short might be a gross under exaggeration, but we made it to the race with 45 minutes to spare and had no trouble finding a good parking spot next door to the course at - you guessed it - a strip mall.

As for the race itself, it was a cross between mud wrestling and distance running that had me feeling more like I was an Excitebike rider without his wheels than a cross country runner with 1/2" spikes on his feet. This was not a course for a rhythm runner who couldn't find his rhythm and as a result I was left stuck in the mud, literally.

All things considered, I didn't have that bad of a race. 34:59 for 156th overall certainly doesn't qualify as a good one but it was far from a total disaster and I did have some fun out there while managing to escape in one piece. I can live with that. Fact of the matter is I'm not a mudder - never have been, probably never will be, and while I claimed to more than one person at the post-race party that this was probably my last cross country race ever, in reality it probably wasn't. That was the free Bud Lite talking.

For NB Boston on the whole, it turned out to be a pretty successful afternoon. We finished 13th out of 50 teams on the men's side and the women went home with some silver hardware for their outstanding second-place efforts. Jeff, Justin, Ned, Ryan, Jess and Erin all turned in solid individual performances to round out a good day for the guys and gals in green.

The post-race festivities apparently couldn't wait and 5 minutes into the cooldown the first beer of the day was cracked as a Heineken keg can from who knows where made its way amongst the mud-laden boys of NB Boston. Probably not the most conventional means of refueling after a hard effort, but cross country is anything but a conventional sport so nobody questioned it.

The rest of the evening was full of food, beer, awards, more food and more beer, socializing, dancing, chicken wings, more beer, more socializing, tasering, walking, finding a ride back to the hotel, icing, texting, talking and finally bed. I didn't extend my evening at the Brazenwood like most of my other teammates did and elected to turn in early instead. Getting back to the hotel was an interesting adventure but luckily I was in good company. Besides, the roof rack was the only available seat left in the team van and it was starting to get pretty cold out.

And right now it's starting to get pretty late so I'm going to chop this long entry short and finish it up tomorrow. Like any of you are still reading anyway.

Quote of the Day

"I am not going to bring up who was looking mighty ridiculous dancing with a skinny red head from Michigan who looks like he lost his razor to a funk band in an Irish pub."
- Ryan Carrara touching upon the weekend antics of one of this blog's most frequent commentators.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Weekend pre-Update

So everyone out there in Blogland is waiting for a weekend update - and believe me, there will be a no-holds-barred Friday-through-Monday, leave-no-mile or beer bottle unaccounted for, blow-by-blow report from Ohio, Massachusetts and everywhere in between, rest assured - but it will have to wait until tomorrow evening when I am done working and have hopefully regained some semblance of cognitive function after an assuredly long, but highly entertaining, wildly successful and flat-out fun weekend.

In the meantime, check out Ryan's rousing recap from the strip mall capital of the world, otherwise known as southwestern Ohio. I'm going to not run tomorrow morning and catch up on sleep instead. Goodnight.

Quote of the Weekend

"I was standing there eating chicken wings feeling like I was watching a live episode of Cops."
- Kevin commenting on the post-race melee at the host hotel.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Go Midwest, young man

8:45 AM - 5 miles, 35:00 - Pakachoag 5.
Easy does it before boarding the plane. OK, well before boarding the plane.

This will be the last you'll hear from me for a few days as the ol' laptop is staying put on my desk this weekend. With a little luck, some free time and a convenient internet connection, I may provide an update sometime between now and Monday night, but I wouldn't count on it. Otherwise, expect a full recap sometime on Tuesday, perhaps Wednesday if I'm still feeling a bit knackered. I'm off to Ohio for the craziest cross country race I may ever contest, then spending a couple days in Michigan with two of my favorite transplanted New Englanders. It will be a great weekend. Adios amigos.

Quote of the Day

"If I'm still standing at the end of the race, hit me with a board and knock me down, because that means I didn't run hard enough."

-Steve Jones on the proper way to race cross country

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Ready or not...

8:50 AM - 6 miles, 42:00 - AHS Track.
Out-n-back to the high school, 6 x 20/40 strides on the way home.

...West Chester, Ohio, here I come. The bags are packed, my scalp is freshly shorn, the hay is in the barn and the 1/2" dagger spikes are ready for battle. I'm prepared for whatever this weekend throws at me, whether it's 500 lunatics in long spikes and the expected 10-kilometer slopfest at Voice of America Park to...well, I don't know what else, but whatever it is, I'm ready for it.

And so are my teammates. We've got two solid squads representing New Balance Boston and I think, check that, I know, we're ready to make some noise on the national stage. Get your earplugs ready.

Quote of the Day

"My strategy was to run the best race for me and not worry about what others were doing."
- Good advice from John Mentzer, 24th at the 2008 Men's Olympic Marathon Trials

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Show me the light(s)

7:30 AM - 7 miles, 48:30 - Rockland 7.
Same loop as Monday morning, 5-1/2 minutes faster.

Apologies for yet another short and admittedly boring entry. Lots going on this week and a lot still to get done before making the trek to the not-so-great Midwest on Friday. OK, the race itself and the atmosphere surrounding it will be great, visiting with Mark and Katie in Ann Arbor will be even greater, but the Midwest in and of itself not so much. I'd elaborate more, but I need to go look at light fixtures tonight. Man, I can't believe I just typed that.

Quote of the Day

"The Olympics are always a dream. I just want to focus on becoming a etter runner and improving my times. That’s my main focus right now."
Michelle Gallagher, who qualified for next April's Olympic Marathon Trials with a 2:43 debut at 2:43:31 at Cal International this past weekend.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Tuesday tuneup

7:50 AM - 4 miles, 30:45 - Hampton 4.
Little leg stretcher before work. Butt ass cold out there this morning.

6:10 PM - 8 miles, 59:00 - BC Res.
23:00 warmup, 8 x 1 minute hard/1 minute easy w/Fenton, 20:00 cooldown. Final tuneup before Saturday; felt pretty good.

Quote of the Day

"There is nothing special about training. You have to believe in yourself."
- Marilson Gomes dos Santos, 2006 NYC Marathon Champion

Monday, December 03, 2007

Shit show

7:15 AM - 7 miles, 54:00 - Rockland 7.
Shitty weather + shitty roads = shitty run.

Sorry Greg, I liked this title just a little bit better. Thanks for the algebraic equation, I mean suggestion, though.

I could have sworn it was mid-February when I stepped out the door this morning. The skies were gloomy, the footing was atrocious and I was slipping and sliding all over the place. I'm usually one to keep quiet when running by myself, but I actually yelled "this sucks" out loud at about 5-1/2 miles. Yes, it was that miserable.

While I'm on the topic of misery, hopefully tonight's Pats game is slightly less agonizing than last Sunday night's nail-biter. 30- point blowouts might not make for good TV, but they sure help me sleep easier. Plus, I want to try and keep the flying F-bombs to a minimum this week, especially since I'll be watching the game at someone else's house.

Actually, it's about time I get my ass over to said house. Go Pats!

Quote of the Day

"That's what cross-country's about, it's about racing. And the race is about knowing there's someone who can beat you."
Emily Jones, a youngan who "gets it".

Sunday, December 02, 2007

The trial of the Trials

8:50 AM - 13 miles, 1:34:00 - Hudson.
Sunday morning stroll through the woods with Ryan and Christy Mae. 6 x 15-second strides on the road afterward.

So the qualifying standards for the 2012 men's Olympic Marathon Trials have been changed to 2:19 for the whole enchilada, 1:05 for the half or 28:30 for 10,000 meters on the track. Forget running under 2:20 and the all-expenses trip to the Trials that goes with it, and never mind just settling for a sub-2:22 pay-your-own way "B" mark, if you aren't running 5:18 per mile or faster for 26.2 miles you better hope to hell that you've a damn good half marathon or fast 10K somewhere in your legs or you'll be watching the 2012 race from the same place I did the 2008 edition four weeks ago - the side of the road.

That was a good time and all but I'd really rather not have to do it again four years from now, so what it comes down to for me is this. Instead of chopping 6 minutes and 25 seconds off my debut time from Vermont last May, I've now got roughly three years to shave off that amount of time plus another 3 minutes, or an average of about 3:10 per year at minimum.

My long division may be off but at two marathons per year I think that leaves me about six chances or a 1:35 improvement from one marathon to the next in order to hit my goal.

Forget about the 10K - I won't even go there - and unless I catch one hell of a tailwind some cold March morning in New Bedford, I'm not banking on hitting the half marathon mark either. Fact of the matter is - and I've already accepted it - is that I'm going to have to suffer for no more than 2 hours and 19 minutes on a certified course with a start-finish separation of no more than 30% of the race distance and an elevation loss of no more than 1 meter per kilometer of race distance or I can forget about running in the Olympic Trials.

I've got to have the race of my life sometime in the next four years. Anything less than that isn't going to get me anywhere, anywhere I want to be anyway.

Quote of the Day

"Qualifying for the Trials has long been a point of pride amongst USA distance runners, and with the bar raised for 2012, qualifying will become an even greater badge of honor."
- David Monti

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Week ending

7:40 AM - 6 miles, 43:10 - Industrial Park.
Easy does it to end the week. Legs seem to have some life creeping back into them.

73 miles for the week. 1 good long run. 2 solid workouts. 6 days until Club Nationals. Nothing else to add.


Quote of the Day

"The important things in life are not really things. They are family, friends and the experiences along the way."
- Amy Yoder Begley

Friday, November 30, 2007

Fartlek & fun

7:25 AM - 9 miles, 56:25 - Bike Path.
16 minutes easy, 3 x 5 minutes @ 5K effort w/3-minute jog recoveries, 4 x 1 minute @ 3K effort w/2-minute jog recoveries, 6:25 easy jog back home. Solid effort, felt stronger as the workout progressed.

Good friends, good times and good beer tonight in the hotbed known as Hudson, Mass., home of such slices of Americana as the Hawks, Ryan Carrara, Bill Gaudere and the Horseshoe Pub.

The Horseshoe was the site of tonight's after-work fun, as well as home to 80 different types of beer on tap - more than enough options to make sure everyone's personal pallet stays satisfied. I kept it seasonal, and local, this evening with a pint of Wachusett Winter Ale. Good stuff.

I'd give a better review but it's now 11 PM and I've got an early-morning date with a lucky pair of running shoes. G'night.

Quote of the Day

"Having been at the course last year with my teams for NCAA’s – and leaving a pair of shoes behind as it was not worth attempting to even try to get the mud off – this course could be an extremely difficult one if there is an obscene amount of rain."
- E-mail from Ned regarding possible course conditions for Club Nationals next weekend.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

No time for typing

8:50 AM - 8 miles, 52:30 - Rail Trail.
7:25, 6:48 heading out, 6:22, 5:43 coming back. 6 x 20/40 strides over that last mile. Finally felt good for once.

Long day, short entry. Goodnight.

Quote of the Day

"I just want to make sure I don't die."
- Actual response from a customer this afternoon when I asked what type of exercise he'd be using his newly purchased Polar RS 200 heart-rate monitor for.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Drop it like it's hot

7:40 AM - 6 miles, 44:30 - Fallon 6.
Slow start, then settled in at around 7:00 pace for a good chunk of the run. Nice morning.

Today marked the beginning of a gradual 10-day drop in mileage and intensity heading into Club Nationals on December 8. Hopefully the third time's the charm for me at this race, one that has treated me rather unkindly the previous two times I've contested it. Last night was the last workout of any real volume for the season with just two little sharpeners on tap for this Friday and Tuesday of next week, and from there it's go-time and hopefully showtime in West Chester, Ohio a week from this Saturday. Good, bad or ugly, I'll take an easy week after the race before beginning the Boston buildup in earnest. Mmmm, Boston. I salivate just thinking about it.

Quote of the Day

"I didn't fear failure. After all, success in running means living on the edge of failure. You are going to fail sometimes. But if your personal goal is reasonable, you are ultimately going to attain it."
- Derek Clayton

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Boloco Tuesday

10:05 AM - 4 miles, 30:00 - Lake Park.
Same as yesterday, minus the spikes and the strides.

6:05 PM - 12 miles - Heartbreak Hill.
23:20 warmup, 12:18 tempo from BC Res to bottom of Heartbreak, 3-minute recovery, 6 x 1-minute hills, 3-minute recovery, 11:48 tempo back to BC Res, 15:40 cooldown.

Solid workout with Jeff, Ryan, Maloney, Brad and new guy Jake. Same mixed-up tempo and hills deal as a few weeks back but a touch faster which was certainly encouraging for everyone involved.

Afterward it was another Boloco Tuesday with Jeff and Maloney at the burrito joint located right around the corner from our regular meeting spot. You just can't beat having all your post-workout nutrition needs taken care of for the low low price of five American pesos. And to boot, it's ready for you in about 34 seconds and it all comes conveniently wrapped inside a soft tortilla shell. No wait, no mess and no more hunger. It's crazy, downright loco even.

Quote of the Day

"That's the beauty of the marathon. You prepare as best you can and run the race. You get to see what happens."
- Mark Conover, winner of the 1988 Olympic Trials Marathon

Sunday, November 25, 2007

No slaughter, no problem

10:20 AM - 4 miles, 30:00 - Lake Park.
First 25 minutes easy on the dirt, last 5 striding out on the grass in spikes.

6:35 PM - 7 miles, 52:25 - Easton Y.
Usual loop with the usual suspects. Threw down a token mile with Timmy while waiting for the late arrivals.

OK, so it wasn't the slaughter I originally called for but last night's win was just that even though it was only by 3 points and not the expected 30. My nerves were high and the f-bombs were flying but at the end of the night the P-men were still undefeated, so for another week, at least, everything remains alright with the world.

And in the words of Ryan Carrara, that's all I got. Goodnight.

Quote of the Day
"I don't go out fast. I go out even. If I go out fast, I'm dead."

- Josh Ferenc, former BAA teammate and winner of this past weekend's Talking Turkey 6-mile cross country race

Long run and the short of it

8:55 AM - 17 miles, 1:55:00 - West Hill.
First 35 minutes solo, last 80 with A-Ten discussing the possible benefits of 3/4-length man tights. Decided we need to consult Terry and Mark Miller before reaching a final verdict.

Last real long run before Club Nationals this morning and it was a doozy. I got a bit of a late start and came up just short of the planned upon 18 miles as a result but I'm not gonna beat myself up over it since I had the rare pleasure of throwing down some long overdue miles with the raging redhead of West Hill, Adam Tenerowicz, before he headed back to the 'Burg for a couple weeks. The trails were in good shape and we kept the effort honest with the last mile on the road in a steady 6:0-something.

I've got nothing else for today because it's time to join my pops in watching the playoff-bound Pats parade over poor Philadelphia. By the way, it's 1:22 into the game and the good guys just went up 7-0. Enjoy the slaughter.

Quote of the Day

"Well, we're all looking forward to the Patriots scrimmaging the Eagles tonight."
- Chris Collinsworth in the NBC pre-game show

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Crazy 8's (and eats!)

7:25 AM - 8 miles, 56:15 - Rockland 7.
Mid-run detour at AHS for 6 x 100-yard strides on the turf. Brisk morning out there, 18 degrees with a slight breeze.

Move over Blind Melon, 8, not 3, is the new magic number.

- Slept 8 glorious hours last night.

- Ran 8 frigid miles this morning, ending my week at exactly 80 miles.

- Worked 8 enjoyable hours at the store today.

- Ate about 8 lbs. worth of finger sandwiches, lasagna, chicken wings, cake and pie at Nate's Allen's 1st annual birthday bash after work. OK, so I'm exaggerating a bit here. Just roll with it.

- Shooting for 8 hours of sleep again tonight so I can be well rested for tomorrow morning's 18 miler which will begin sometime during the 8 o'clock hour.

Quote of the Day

"Some of these guys lapped me on the track a few months back, but this is more my kind of domain. I like hills and road races. I never give anything to anybody in this sort of race."
- Andrew Letherby, winner of the 2007 Manchester Road Race

Friday, November 23, 2007

Fade to black

7:00 AM - 10 miles, 1:09:05 - Auburn.
Same loop as Wednesday morning but solo and about 4 minutes faster.

Believe me, there's nothing even remotely exciting about running 10 miles by yourself at 7 o'clock on a Friday morning when it's 25 degrees out. Nothing exciting enough to write about anyway, and even if there were, I'm too tired to do so. Goodnight.

Quote of the Day

"We want to do the best we can with the tools that we are given. Most of that time, that means putting in the work, and minimizing excuses...Sometimes people tend to forget to enjoy what they do. If you enjoy what you are doing, success will follow."
- Haverford College superstud Don Letts in a great interview with

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Case of the missing Gobble

9:00 AM - 11 miles - Somerville.
Gobble Gobble 4-Miler (3rd, 20:46). 30:00 warmup on the course, 25:00 cooldown on the bike path with Erin, Kevin and Dan.

I realized a few things by the mile mark of the Gobble Gobble 4-miler this morning in scenic Somerville. No, it hadn't yet hit me that the traditional "Tri-Gob" was apparently and unfortunately renamed the "Di-Gob" somewhere between the opening of registration at 7:30 AM and when the results were posted sometime around 10:30. Fortunately, I didn't catch this blasphemous nomenclatural snafu until well after the fact, which caused me to shed a few tears before embarking on an equally emotional ride home.

OK, so no tears were actually shed and no emotions were had, but seriously, where the hell did the third Gobble go?

I may never figure out the answer to that one, but about 5 minutes into the race -- 5 minutes and 3 seconds to be exact -- I realized pretty quickly that an easy payday was not going to be in the works this morning. Owen Washburn, Wilson Perez and Tom McArdle must have caught wind of the race's unexpected name change prior to the starter's horn and in an act of defiant and unbridled protest proceeded to launch themselves off the starting line like a bunch of cruise missiles. They quickly left my tired ass and flat legs a good 13 seconds behind them at the mile mark, which had me wondering if any of the three of them were going to self-destruct before the finish line so I didn't go home empty handed.

Well, there's not much time for serious contemplation with 3 miles to go in a 4-mile race, so I quickly conceded first and second place and the $300 in prize money that accompanied it, backed off to tempo effort, put a $50 target on McArdle's back and decided to take my chances on stealing third should old Tom come falling back to me.

Like Johnny-fucking-Chan in the World Series of Poker, the gamble paid off. Barely. Just after the 2-mile mark, I pulled even with the wily old bastard from Dartmouth, who in turn situated himself directly behind my desperate ass for pretty much the remaining duration of the race. While I felt confident that I could easily hold off Bluegrass Tommy Mac to the tape I didn't realize that his brother, Boy George, was charging at me harder than a lion toward his unsuspecting prey. The younger McArdle managed to inch by me about 25 yards from the finish but a desperation lean at the line snagged me third place and 50 bucks for my troubles, I mean efforts.

My ridiculous long-winded commentary aside, things didn't go all that bad out there this morning. If you go by the official results, I ran 20 seconds faster than I did last year on the same course - 25 seconds if you go by my trusty Timex. I saw 20:40 on the clock as I crossed the finish line and when I stopped my watch halfway through the chute I came away with splits of 5:03, 5:17, 5:11 and 5:10. Where those extra 5 seconds came will probably forever remain a mystery, but as ol' KcoachB used to constantly remind me, it is what it is.

Along that same line, what today's race turned out to be was a hard effort on tired legs in the middle of one last hefty week of training before nationals - exactly what it should have been at this stage of the game.

Quote of the Day

"No, I'm going over to Dunkin' Donuts. I want to clean out my gutters this afternoon and I figure spending a few hours in a bar room before climbing up on my roof probably wouldn't be such a good idea."
- Kevin on his decision to forgo frequenting the Burren after the race this morning

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The numbers don't lie...

8:25 AM - 10 miles, 1:13:30 - Auburn.
Easy run around town with Erin before work. Tired, but otherwise no complaints.

...but they don't tell me much, either.

So what conclusions can be drawn from the set of statistics I posted last night?

Hell if I know, other than the fact that I'm a real skinny dude with a pretty good set of lungs. Beyond that, it's all Greek to me.

The only thing I do know is that I'm going back in a month or so to do it all over again because Jeff and Tammy don't believe I reached my true maximum heart rate. It's not costing me a dime, so I'll gladly thrash myself again on the rat wheel for the greater good of science.

I'll also thrash myself tomorrow morning for the greater good of my wallet, so I'd best be served to get my scrawny ass to bed at a decent hour in order to maximize my earning potential. Goodnight.

Quote of the Day

"I was just like you guys, when you race in gym class, that's how I started. I wasn't the fastest kid in my class, I was the second-fastest kid in the class but I wanted to be fastest. In fifth grade, I was the fastest in my class but I wanted to be the fastest kid in the school. Once I was the fastest kid in the school, then I wanted the school record."
- Alan Webb

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

VO2 maxed out

7:30 PM - 3 miles - BVHP.
Started off nice and slow but got up to breakneck speed and a nasty incline pretty quick.

Blackstone Valley Human Performance
Exercise Physiology Lab
***Metabolic Report***
Sex: M
Age: 25
Height: 68.0 in (173 cm)
Weight: 135.0 lb (61.4 kg)
Test time: 2007/11/20 19:37
Tech: Godin
Test Protocol
Test degree: Maximal
Exercise device: Treadmill
Test Environment
Insp. temp: 17.0 deg C
Insp. humidity: 31.0%
Insp. O2: 20.94%
(STPD to BTPS: 1.2207)
Baro. pressure: 754.0 mmHg
Exp. flow temp: Mean of room temp. and 37.0 deg C
Insp. CO2: 0.03%
Base Values for Sampling
Base O2: 20.94%
Base CO2: 0.03%

Max HR: 181 bpm
Max VO2: 4.47 L/min, 72.8 ml/kg/min, 20.8 METS

Body Composition Analysis (Skin Calipers)
Chest: 4 mm
Abdomen: 4 mm
Thigh: 5 mm
Total: 13 mm
Estimated Body Fat %: 4

Bioimpedance Analysis
Date: 11/20/07 Time: 19:25
Sex: Male
Age: 25
Height: 68.0 inches
Weight: 135.0 lbs
Measurement Results
Phase Angle: 7.4
Body Capacitance: 789 pF
Resistance: 516.4 ohms
Reactance: 67.2 ohms
Lean Body Mass: 89.7%
Fat Mass: 10.3%
Variance: +/- 4.5%
Body Mass Index: 20.5
Basal Metabolic Rate: 1713 cals

Test me

10:10 AM - 6 miles, 45:00 - Tufts.
40 minutes on the SNOW-covered grass, last 5 minutes on the roads to get my legs back under me. Starting to feel pretty good again.

In a few hours I'll be heading over to Blackstone Valley Human Performance in Grafton where I will be thrown on a treadmill and hooked up to a bunch of tubes in order to test my aerobic capacity, otherwise known as a Vo2 max test. I've never had anything like this done before, so I'm curious to see what the test reveals. From what I understand the higher your Vo2 max, the greater your potential for endurance-related performance.

I did a little research and came up with the following readings for a handful of successful endurance athletes.

Siberian sled dog: 240 ml/kg/min
Thoroughbred race horse: 180
Bjørn Dæhlie: 96
Greg LeMond: 92.5
Lance Armstrong: 85
Steve Prefontaine: 84.4
Grete Waitz: 73
Frank Shorter: 71
Derek Clayton: 69

The facility record at BVHP is listed on the website as 63.7 ml/min/kg. I have no idea what that means, or if I'll even have any control over doing so, but I'm going to try and break that record tonight. Yes, everything with me is indeed just one big competition.

As part of the testing package, one I was able to secure through a working relationship between BVHP and the store, I'll also be getting my body composition analyzed, which I'm guessing will reveal the ratio of skin to bones that makes up my ectomorphic frame. While I'm there, I'm going to try and cover all my bases and see if I can get my lactate threshold measured as well, even if it costs me an extra 110 bucks. I'm generally not one to get overly geeky about the scientific stuff, but if I'm going to get tested I figure I might as well run the gauntlet.

Stay tuned, I'll post the results here as soon as time allows.

Quote of the Day

"It was just flat out in the last mile-and-a-half almost. That last 50 meters I almost fell over my legs were so heavy.”
- Josh McDougal, 2007 NCAA cross country champion

Monday, November 19, 2007

Breakfast of Champions

10:50 AM - 8 miles, 57:00 - Rail Trail.
7:21, 7:06 for the two marked miles on the way out; 6:43, 6:43 on the way back. Easy does it the entire way.

6:40 PM - 6 miles, 43:30 - Easton Y.
Same route with the same crew as last week. 10 seconds slower though, cause we're getting old.

My world-famous cinnamon brown sugar chocolate-chip pancake, topped with real maple syrup. It pairs well with scrambled egg whites and a tall glass of OJ (not pictured). Good post-run recovery food, but sadly it only encompasses one of the four main food groups - syrup.

I am going to bed. You try not to salivate on your keyboard.

Quote of the Day

"Samuel's a name we haven't mentioned much today because the defense hasn't been on the field."

- Al Michaels during the Patriots' 56-10 stampede over the Bills last night.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Unlucky 13

11:30 AM - 13 miles - Franklin Park.
New England Cross Country Championships 10K (13th, 31:55). 20:00 warmup & strides, 28:00 cooldown.

5:45 PM - 5 miles, 37:55 - Pakachoag 5.
Post-race shake prior to the Pats game. Same loop as yesterday morning, but slower. A lot slower.

Bittersweet day at good ol' Franklin Park. Personally, I raced a helluva lot better than I did at Mayor's Cup, coming through 8K about 25 seconds faster today than I raced flat out for the distance three weeks ago. Teamwise, we ran pretty well on the whole but still lost to the rival Unicorns by a mere five points. Jeff, Roland and Justin placed 1, 2 and 4 respectively, but our fourth guy finished too far back for us to bring home the team title.

For the record, I was that fourth guy.

I fought and fought some more, but just couldn't close the gaps between myself and the blue singlets up ahead. Carter and Ferenc never came back after the initial split and Matt Ely absolutely lambasted my sorry ass over the final 2K. I tried like hell to pick up a few spots but I felt like I was caught between third and fourth gear for much of the race. Every time I tried throwing it into fifth to make a move, it was like the transmission got stuck. Hopefully some maintenance work over the next three weeks helps take care of this problem.

Disappointments aside, it did feel good to strap on the spikes again and get another race under my belt. I'm excited to do it again at Club Nationals in three weeks and I think our squad is ready to make some serious noise in the cross country capital of the Midwest, West Chester, Ohio.

Last, but certainly not least, congrats to the ladies of NB Boston on an impressive victory today, as well as our own Jeff Caron for taking home the individual crown in the men's race. Way to represent!

Quote of the Day

"6 miles...10,000 meters over hill and dale out in the middle of nowhere. Spit freezing on your goddamn chin. Five hundred complete wild men in the mud, running up on your heels with long spikes. Oh, I love cross country all right. I also like being flayed alive with a rusty straight razor."
- Everybody's hero, Quenton Cassidy, capturing the essence of this crazy business they call cross country.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

XC, Round 2

7:45 AM - 5 miles, 35:20 - Pakachoag 5.
Easy run around the block before work. 6 x 20-second strides on the way in to stretch the legs out a bit.

Cross country coming back atcha tomorrow morning in the form of the New England Championships at Franklin Paaaahk.

Team titles at stake for the men and women of New Balance Boston, redemption on the line for yours truly.

Only a few hours till I'm spiked up and psyched up, but for now I gotta rest up so I don't suck it up. Goodnight.

Quote of the Day

"You don't run against a bloody stopwatch, do you hear? A runner runs against himself, against the best that's in him. Not against a dead thing of wheels and pulleys. That's the way to be great, running against yourself. Against all the rotten mess in the world. Against God, if you're good enough."
- Bill Persons, coach in Hugh Atkinson's The Games

Friday, November 16, 2007

All in a day off

No training log entry today because, well, I didn't train. I planned to, but to be perfectly honest, I just didn't feel like it.

[No, there's nothing wrong with me. I'm perfectly fine, so just keep reading.]

On my first day off since August 19th - and first voluntary one in who knows how long - I did, however, get a haircut, work a full day at the store, pick up my cross spikes from Ryan and have a delectable fried fish & chips platter from Ted's Pizza for dinner.

As for any semblance of meaningful forward motion, I'm putting it off until tomorrow.

And just like that, my first attempt at replicating JC's famous 36-hour trick has magically turned into an incredible 48-hour affair. What can I say, I'm just that good.

Quote of the Day

"I run for the thrill of competition. I enjoy beating people in races. It also keeps me fit and strong."
- Nick Arciniaga, 17th at the U.S. Men's Olympic Marathon Trials

Thursday, November 15, 2007

And for my next trick

8:00 AM - 8 miles, 1:00:00 - Westboro.
Easy does it with Casey from his place before work. Mix of roads and rocky trails but managed to make it through unscathed. Still feeling a bit tired, but three days of reduced mileage and increased sleep should help take care of that.

In an unprecedented act of unadulterated thievery, I'll be stealing a page out of Jeff Caron's book, or blog rather, by attempting to pull off the fabled 36-hour trick between my easy 8-mile run this morning and tomorrow evening's projected 6-miler and strides.

The reason for such a heist? In a word, recovery. With the New England cross country championships merely three days away and a few hefty training/work weeks solidly in the books, I figure now is probably as good a time as any to try and rest my weary legs a little bit.

Excluding the week leading up to Bay State somewhere around mid-October, I haven't really "tapered" for any of the handful of races I've contested since Vermont City, and that's been by design. The main goal this fall wasn't necessarily to set off a string of PR's (although I did manage to snag one, thank you down week) but rather to string together as many consistent, injury-free training weeks as possible to cement a solid base of strength in preparation for the big Boston buildup this winter. Minus a few minor niggles and one persistent (but healing!) hiccup, I've been successful in laying that sturdy foundation with some steady mileage and a healthy dose of hill workouts. There's still a long way left to go, but so far everything is right on target for hitting the bullseye at Boston on Patriots Day.

In the short term, however, I would like to not embarrass myself at Franklin Park on Sunday in the same manner I did at Mayor's Cup a few weeks back, so I'm going to scale things back just a wee bit over the next few days. Let's hope a little extra rest does the trick.

Quote of the Day

"He would describe it as an ongoing brutal dance, the pushing of the body right up to the edge, close to injury, to collapse, day after day. As he approached and then surpassed a hundred miles a week, it had all come back to him: the night sweats, the muscles twitching in bed like different wild animals somehow alive on him, the searing panicky thirsts out of nowhere, the random cravings for pickled beets, chicken-fried steak, artichoke hearts, herrings in sour cream, carrot juice. Just the general feverish nervous physical anxiety that seemed to animate a blob of protoplasm vibrating itself into a higher state of physical grace. It did indeed seem to have something in common with pregnancy or illness."
- Quenton Cassidy, making his third QOTD appearance this week. Go buy the book.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

6 & 4 and not much more

7:35 AM - 6 miles, 43:30 - Industrial Park.
Tired and tight, but otherwise nothing to complain about.

7:30 PM - 4 miles, 30:00 - Westboro.
Solo shakeout after work. Nice night for an easy jog.

Busy, busy, biiiiiiiiiiiz-e. Too busy to blog right now, but stay tuned.

Quote of the Day

"Cross country running is all about the competition and the challenge. And it is a challenge. It is not easy running in dirt and on the grass. It will be a physical challenge."
- Benji Durden

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

12-hour Tuesday

7:50 AM - 4 miles, 31:10 - Hampton 4.
Slow going before work.

7:10 PM - 10 miles, 1:11:25 - Westboro.
14:30 warmup to Westboro High, 5 x ~250m hill, short jog to track, 5 x 200m in 33.42, 33.71, 33.73, 34.28, 34.72 (200m jog recoveries), jog back to hill, 5 x ~250m hill, jog back to track, 5 x 200m in 34.34, 33.74, 34.17, 33.94, 33.53 (200m jog recoveries), 16:45 cooldown back to the store.

Left the house at 9:20 this morning, returned at 9:20 this evening. Most important thing I learned during this lengthy 12-hour time period? Manhattan clam chowder was not a good pre-workout lunch choice. Good thing no one else was at the track, or anywhere in the surrounding area for that matter.

Quote of the Day

"It is important not to lose sight of why you run. If you enjoy what you do and it brings you happiness it is only then that you will be capable of your best."

Monday, November 12, 2007

Monday in the Motherland

11:55 AM - 4 miles, 30:00 - Lake Park.
Short-n-slow on the soft stuff. 6 x 20/40 strides during the last mile.

6:45 PM - 6 miles, 43:20 - Easton Y.
Relaxed romp around Easton with Bergie, TJ and Timmy C. Good to be back running with these clowns.

Quote of the Day

"I'm not saying I haven't missed a lot of it. You know, the shenanigans, the weirdness. Real life becomes...mundane."
- Quenton Cassidy, telling it like it is.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Buh-bye week

8:15 AM - 18 miles, 2:00:00 - 122 Long.
New loop from home: Bike Path, through Millbury Center, out to 122 in Grafton and back. The goal was to get some time on my feet at a relaxed pace, which is exactly what I did.

All work and no Patriots makes Sunday a dull day.

OK, so the atypical blitz of customers upon opening the store at noontime made for anything but a dull workday, but the gaping hole left in my afternoon by the Patriots' required bye week took away from the accustomed joy of watching the local football football squadron beat up on yet another hapless opponent.

Alas, I'll have to wait another week before reclaiming my spot on the Carrara's couch to watch another AFC East rival get buffaloed, but that's OK - winning, and winning big, never gets dull.

Quote of the Day

"Today we beat every nation."
- Bill Rodgers after the 1979 Boston Marathon, where Boston-based runners finished 1, 3, 8 and 10.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

It's a wrap!

Weekly Summary: November 4-10

Sunday - AM: 18 miles, 2:00:00.
Last mile in 5:23.
Monday - AM: 6 miles, 40:15. 8 x 20/40 strides. PM: 6 miles, 44:55. Easy does it.
Tuesday - AM: 4 miles, 30:00. Pre-workout shake by the lake. PM: 12 miles. 12:30 tempo, 3-minute recovery, 8 x 1-minute hills, 3-minute recovery, 12:02 tempo.
Wednesday - AM: 8 miles, 58:00. Legs good, groin sore.
Thursday - AM: 12 miles, 1:12:40. 1-2-3-4-5-4-3-2-1 fartlek w/1-minute recovery jogs throughout.
Friday - AM: 8 miles, 56:10. 8 x 100-yd strides. PM: 4 miles, 30:00. Easy does it after work.
Saturday - AM: 6 miles, 43:35. Cold, but comfortable.

Totals: 84 miles, 10 runs.
Best week so far this fall. Volume was good, long run went well, workouts were solid and I'm recovering quickly, too. I'll go long tomorrow before scaling things back a little bit before New England's next Sunday.

Quote of the Day

"There is a contract between the runner and his body: I will punish you and it will make me stronger. The worst that I will endure is pain. Every runner understands this credo. Ryan Shay lived it."
- Tim Layden

Friday, November 09, 2007

Friday fill-in

7:25 AM - 8 miles, 56:10 - Rockland 7.
Took a mid-run detour through the high school for 8 x 100-yard strides on the turf. Easy distance pace felt smooth and relaxed but strides felt slow and choppy.

7:10 PM - 4 miles, 30:00 - Westboro.
Easy does it on the "Casey Kellogg after-work loop", after work but without my buddy Casey. Might have to rename this one.

It's steady as she goes out here along the bumpin' backroads of Central Massachusetts. Training continues to go on full bore despite the nagging discomfort which has permanently parked itself just south of my center of gravity. Last week's MRI confirmed the suspected sports hernia and left me with the option of either dealing with the stupid thing or patching the sucker up for good.

Since the thought of a knife near my nuts and 10 weeks on the shelf didn't exactly have me jumping for joy, I passed on the patching option, for now anyway. Running doesn't seem to worsen any of my symptoms and the combination of twice daily icing sessions, the strengthening exercises James prescribed me and refraining from lower abdominal work, raucous laughter, coughing and sneezing have kept things pretty much at bay and allowed me to continue training at a high level with minimal restrictions.

I don't mind managing the situation as long as I can, well, manage, and for now I'm doing so without much difficulty. Hopefully it stays that way, or by some miracle of Ditka, improves altogether.

Quote of the Day

"Sell’s making the team is something deeply important to me, as well as others close to a number of us. It has an effect that is profound (but still difficult to convey). It is more than validating a training program (although this is very important). It is more than serving as inspiration to the all the 10 minute high school 2 milers (but I hope that all of those kids from our area in PA are following closely.) It is more than proving to one’s family a "delay in getting on with life" was worth it. The effect it had on me I think involves the process of the quest. I am old enough now to understand it is that which shapes us during the journey to our goal which truly gives the most meaning to our lives."
- Terry Shea, BAA long-distance stud and all-around good guy, reflecting on his Trials experience last weekend in NYC

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Live like a clock

9:30 AM - 12 miles, 1:12:40 - Sterling Rail Trail.
Two spins of the standard 6-mile loop (38:10/34:30), broken down as such: 26 minutes easy, 1-2-3-4-5-4-3-2-1 fartlek at 5K-8K effort with 1-minute recovery jogs after each hard segment, then steady at 6-minute pace for the final 13:40 back to the car. Never felt really good or terribly bad at any point, but definitely felt stronger as the workout progressed. Very pleased with the effort.

Quote of the Day

"What Jumbo meant was keep to your schedule. If your morning run was always at 8 AM, you go out and do a token run at 8AM, even if you're like tapering for a big race or on summer break. You're not really training, you're just keeping your body on the same routine. Eat at the same time, sleep at the same time. Live like a clock."
- Bruce Denton, the "famous American clock cleaner", once again imparting his wisdom upon the always impressionable Quenton Cassidy

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Three of a kind

7:35 AM - 8 miles, 58:00 - Horgan Track.
Easy out-n-back to the track. Legs didn't feel too bad but energy levels were a bit low this morning. Groin discomfort was more pronounced than it has been of late, likely caused by the long downhill stretch at the end of last night's workout.

Good times at Rosie O'Grady's in NYC on Friday night with Ricky, Bobby and seemingly every other non-participating marathon runner who just happened to be in the Big Apple for the weekend. And for the record, Hodgie-San wasn't rip-roaring drunk when this picture was taken, just very tired.

Quote of the Day

"The marathon is tempting to play with, especially in the beginning, like you would play with a little kitten. But you should respect it like you would respect a lion."
- Felix Limo

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Tuesday twist

11:05 AM - 4 miles, 30:00 - Lake Park.
Easy shake by the lake. Wet, but wonderful.

6:15 PM - 12 miles - Heartbreak Hill.
20:31 warmup, 12:30 tempo from BC Res to bottom of Heartbreak, 3-minute recovery, 8 x Crack-to-Pole (18:52), 3-minute recovery, 12:02 tempo back to BC Res, 15:00 cooldown.

Good workout tonight with Ryan, Brad, Jeff, Maloney, Fabian and Nisekens. A little twist on the Tuesday night norm but variety, as they say, is the spice of life - or in this case, the spice of training. I'd write more about it but my copy of Again to Carthage came in the mail this afternoon, so I'm gonna start - and probably finish - reading it before Jeff's pre-ordered version finally makes its way to Medford. Thank-you, Breakaway Books!

Quote of the Day

"Sell knows what he can and can't do, and he loves marathon conditions that turn the race into a knock 'em down, drag 'em out slug fest. Just like the Trials."
- Amby Burfoot on the expected weather conditions that Brian Sell will face in Beijing.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Containing my excitement

10:55 AM - 6 miles, 40:15 - Sterling Rail Trail.
"Easy" actually felt that way this morning. Finished up with 8 x 20/40 strides on the way in for my boy Driscoll.

6:10 PM - 6 miles, 44:55 - Industrial Park.
Easy does it in the dark. Nocturnal vision needs some work, or maybe A-Town just needs to install some more streetlights.

Mondays aren't typically known for excitement and running is apparently no exception. Just some easy mileage today to let the legs recover from yesterday's long run, and since we'll probably be going hard on the hill tomorrow night there was no point in pushing it today. The only pushing I'll be doing, in fact, is with the buttons on the TV remote. I don't wanna feel like a boob-tube slacker, so I better get going on that. G 'night folks.

Quote of the Day

"I had one nervous stretch around the sixth and seventh miles. At that stretch my legs started to burn a bit on the uphills and I thought of letting the pack go but I decided that the damage was done and that letting people by at that point was counter productive. So I made up my mind to stick in the mix as long as I could and that if I had to drop at 18 or 20 miles then so be it."
- Nate Jenkins, 7th place, U.S. Olympic Trials - Men's Marathon

Sunday, November 04, 2007

The thinking trail

8:25 AM - 18 miles, 2:00:00 - Rail Trail.
Out-n-back on the trail and over the hills. Threw in a 1-minute pickup every 10th minute for the first hour with easy to moderate running in between. Last hour was anywhere between 6-6:30 pace with the final mile in 5:23.

Lots of stuff floating through the old noggin' right now, so it was nice to have two hours to myself on the trail this morning to think things through. I still can't get yesterday's events out of my head, nor do I think I'll be able to anytime soon, but I never would have thought the unexpected death of someone I'd never actually met would totally flip my world upside down. When you can see a lot of yourself and your own close friends in that someone, even if you've never met that person, it really hits home. It did for me at least. You can't take anything for granted in this life - not your family, friends, talents, job, possessions or even life itself. It could all be gone tomorrow, so make sure to appreciate these things today. I'm not one for praying, but my thoughts are definitely with the Shay family. May Ryan rest in peace.

Quote of the Day

"If you had to die, and knowing what Ryan believed in, wanted and tried to accomplish, if something like this was going to happen, I guess that (Olympic Trials) would be the place."
- Joe Shay, Ryan's dad.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Trialed and true

11:15 AM - 12 miles, 1:22:00 - West Hill.
Canal path, two loops at West Hill and back. Threw in a few steady stretches mid-run and finished up with a 5:42 last mile on the path. Felt comfortable, but thought for sure I was under 5:30.

7:45 AM - 5 miles, 38:40 - Central Park.
All over the place with Hodgie and A-Ten while watching the Trials. Nothing but a whole lot of stop-and-go mileage, but made sure I clicked the watch every time.

I was positioned at the 6-mile mark of the men's Olympic Trials marathon in Central Park this morning, hootin' and hollerin' at the top of my lungs for the 120 some-odd studs who came flying by in a steady stream of sustained speed. One runner never made it to that early mile marker however, and all it took was one quick phone call before those excited chants turned into an eerie silence.

"Ryan Shay just went down," best bud Sean McKeon shouted at me from the other end of the phone.

"Did he trip?" I asked.

"No dude, they're giving him CPR," he informed me. "It doesn't look good."

Next thing you know an ambulance comes flying by with its lights flashing and people are wondering what in the hell is going on. About a half an hour later, rumor was floating around the park that Ryan Shay had passed away. The race, possibly the most exciting event I've ever had the pleasure to witness in person, suddenly didn't seem so important any more.

Needless to say, it's been an emotional day on many fronts. The race itself was exciting and inspirational - lots of positive energy making its way around the park this morning. Lots of impressive performances too, most notably Ryan Hall, Dathan Ritzenhein, Brian Sell and local homeboy Nate Jenkins. Ryan's untimely death put a terrible twist on an otherwise fantastic day, but sometimes such a tragic event can help to put everything else back into perspective.

This life is short, so you need to make the most of it while you can. Ryan Shay sure did, and he's inspired me to do the same.

Quotes of the Day

"You can't think about 'what if I fail,' because it will cause negative thoughts, so instead you have to turn the energy around and feed off that energy. All these people are cheering for you. They don't know you, they just want you to do well."
- Ryan Shay. RIP, 11.03.07

"You’ve got to run smart, but you’ve got to have the faith that you can finish. You can’t get scared. If I go out and feel good, I’m not going to be afraid to run with that lead pack. You have to take that chance. If that means I’m running 2:25 and crawling home, then so be it. At the same time, if it’s late in the race and I’m coming up on people, if you have even a passing thought of not thinking you can pass certain people like Meb [Keflezighi], then you won’t make it. The time to be in awe of them is after the race. Until then, everyone’s equal and you go for it."
- Nate Jenkins. He wasn't afraid, he took that chance, he didn't crawl home and he didn't have a passing thought about passing Meb late in the race.