Sunday, September 30, 2007

Kitchen calamity

8:50 AM - 17 miles, 1:55:45 - Carrara's Trails.
Tour de trails with Ryan and Christy Mae. Perfect morning for some long running.

Nice run this morning in Hudson from the ever-evolving Casa de Carrara, gateway to the niftiest network of running trails east of 495. Given the fact that we all ran hard yesterday and have another up-tempo effort on tap for Tuesday, the three of us kept things pretty relaxed this morning and enjoyed the serenity of the Sudbury State Forest and Assabet River Wildlife Refuge.

I've managed to fall into a nice pattern of consistent training over the last five weeks with mileage totals of 69, 70, 76, 78 and 81, a steady increase well in line with Jogger World's never-to-be-broken 15% rule. Long runs have gradually made their way into the two-hour range, workouts have been - for the most part - spot on, and recovery days have been slow enough that those who religiously read the aforementioned magazine could probably keep up.

It's been frustrating though that the mild discomfort I've been feeling in my groin of late has refused to go away. The dull ache on the left side of my "kitchen" started manifesting itself about a week ago, and while it hasn't got much worse, it hasn't really improved either. There's no noticeable swelling or obvious signs of external damage but the internal strife that accompanies certain everyday movements has been too consistent to ignore for much longer. Other than a few instances of first-step stiffness in the suspect area, running hasn't been affected that much, although a similar sensation did resurface toward the end of today's longer effort, which has me slightly concerned. Walking around at work afterward was slightly less pleasant than the previous days and any attempts at lower ab work since last Monday have been a complete failure. Frustration is definitely setting in. My own early suspicions point toward either a groin strain or a sports hernia, but the symptoms are often indistinguishable, so self-diagnosis probably isn't going to help any. I'm gonna ride this out for a couple more days, re-evaluate, and go from there.

For now though, I'm gonna go watch TV and try not to move too suddenly. Hasta mañana hombres.

Quote of the Day

“I said to him, ‘Sorry, Paul, try next year.’”
- Haile Gebrselassie, talking to Paul Tergat after running 2:04:26 to break the Kenyan's world record in the marathon.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Side stitch Saturday

9:10 AM - 10 miles - Lincoln.
17 minutes up, 5-mile tempo in 26:40, 18 minutes down. Known splits of 5:34, 5:21 for the first two miles and 5:14 for the first mile of the "classic" tempo loop.

Unlike those of you who slept in for a few hours this morning, woke up sometime around 10, sipped on a cup of coffee and moseyed around in your jammies, I did not enjoy the start to my Saturday, not one bit.

Instead, I made my first weekend trip out to Lincoln to take part in one of the staples of the New Balance Boston fall training program, that being the tempo run. Take part was about all I was able to do, and even that participation was limited, as my workout went downhill pretty quickly thanks to an unwelcome side stitch 3 miles into it. I honestly can't remember the last time I cramped up during a workout or race, but by the time I stepped off the road just after 5 miles it felt as if I had a vice grip on the area just south of my right rib cage. It sucked, and I was sucking wind because of it. My legs felt great, but from 3 to 5 miles I couldn't catch a breath, which was a problem during an aerobic activity of relatively high intensity that was supposed to last for 8 miles.

Adding to the frustration of having to cut the tempo short was that when it was all said and done I felt like I had totally let my teammates down, especially Ryan and Brad, who soldiered on for another 3 miles without me. We had a great little group - which also included Ryan Fenton through 5 miles - working together and feeding off one another's energy. It killed me not to be able to contribute to that any more than I did. Sorry guys.

The drive to work started with me in a miserable mood, but when my head finally cleared I was able to remind myself that this was just one workout, one that was over and done with and one that I needed to forget about and move on from. Fact of the matter is that I still got a solid 5 miles worth of work in, so I still put some money in the aerobic piggy bank. Not as big a deposit as I was hoping to make, but money in the bank nonetheless.

Quote of the Day

"You’ve still got to keep plugging away. You’ve still got to keep that edge."
- Alan Webb

Friday, September 28, 2007

Free pass

11:45 AM - 7 miles, 47:30 - Rail Trail.
Out-n-back on the trail. 7:22 to start, 6:40 in the middle, 6:18 to finish things up. Full set of drills afterward.

Since I've spent a good part of my day writing feverishly for another outlet, I'm giving myself a free pass on tonight's entry for this sad space. Plus, I'm tired and really just don't feel like staring at this screen for much longer, so I'll end it at that. Goodnight.

Quote of the Day

"Let's ask the pope to reschedule. Or better yet just stay away."
- Perhaps the most logical solution in regards to the potential conflict surrounding the Pope's visit to Boston next April and the women's Olympic marathon trials.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The air that clears

8:30 AM - 13 miles, 1:30:00 - West Hill.
Canal path, two loops at West Hill and back. Added on a mile or so on the roads to finish up, including 6 x 20-second strides. Humidity sucked but otherwise no complaints.

For most people, working until 8 PM on a Thursday night probably wouldn't be considered desirable, but since it allowed me the luxury of two extra hours this morning -- just enough time to get my ass down to West Hill for a longer run on those blessed trails -- you won't find me complaining one bit.

I've had a couple long days at the store this week and a few hard runs on unforgiving pavement, so this morning's brief respite from it all was both welcome and necessary. There's something about romping around on the trails that's physically, and perhaps more so mentally, therapeutic for me. My legs certainly feel better, but so does my head. Maybe it's the fresh air and lack of car exhaust, but I'm able to think clearly and focus more effectively.

As I was trailblazing this morning, I began to think about short term goals, long term goals and how the two feed into one another. These flowing thoughts got me excited but helped keep everything in perspective as well. What I do today is no more or less important than what I did yesterday or will do tomorrow as long as it gets done. As Hodgie has told me 12,345 times, it's all money in the bank. Making consistent deposits is the key to longterm success.

This fall will be an exciting time. I'm looking forward to making a return to cross country and racing alongside my teammates at Mayor's Cup, New England's and Club Nationals. I'm looking forward to stringing together consistent weeks of training and building toward the future, using the next few months as a stepping stone to Boston in the spring, Chicago next fall and the Olympic Trials four years from now. Mostly, however, I'm looking forward to staying healthy, working toward my goals and enjoying the process of seeing just how good I can really be.

Quote of the Day

"So, in the end, I never raced or gained racing experience, I lost money and I lost fitness, but I gained incentive. I found a world I’m driven to be a part of. I’m now more determined then ever to get the absolute best out of myself before I hang up these shoes."
- Brendan O'Keefe on what he learned while spending the summer not racing in Europe.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Skeleton entry

7:25 AM - 8 miles, 56:40 - RockPak 8.
Easy does it. No need, or desire, to go any faster this morning.

Quote of the Day

“I’m not a talented guy. I just work real hard. I truly believe there are a lot of guys out there who could make the Olympic Trials if they’re willing to work their asses off for seven or eight years.”
- James Carney

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I love the smell of hills in the morning

7:25 AM - 10 miles, 1:07:10 - Forest Park.
15:41 up, 12 hill circuits (0.46 miles) on Forest Park condo loop (33:34-5.52 miles), 17:53 down. Continuous run, hills were 1:02-1:04 in duration, recovery jog down the other side was 1:40-45. Good effort throughout, felt better as the workout progressed. Abbreviated drill set on the grass afterward.

7:15 PM - 4 miles, 30:15 - Westboro.
From the store with Casey after work. Ran the exact same loop in the exact same time we did two weeks ago. Yeah, we're that good.

I had a somewhat well thought out entry I was about to start typing away at before this guy gave me a call from the Left Coast and before I knew it 29 minutes and 22 seconds went by and everything just went to shit. Actually, nothing really went to shit except for my motivation to think and type, which is proving to be a small problem. No need to force things, however, I'll just get my ass to bed and try again tomorrow. Goodnight.

Quote of the Day

"Other guys may be more talented than me but if I ran my best when it counted I could make up for some of the difference. The key was to be totally confident when I toed the line. Confidence and lack of doubt goes a long way."
- Weldon Johnson

Monday, September 24, 2007

Monday moseying

8:50 AM - 6 miles, 44:15 - Hopedale.
The usual double loop of the pond with a planned interruption halfway through the second time around for 6 x 10-second hill charges. That's about it, there's really nothing exciting about running 7:20 pace on Monday morning.

6:40 PM - 5 miles, 35:00 - An Cu Liath.
First time back to the pub in a few weeks, had a good time as always. 21:35 for 3.5 miles, then an easy cooldown with new pal Ernesto Soto, the mad chemist from Guatemala. Didn't have to work all that hard for the win tonight, but man, Harrison Street is still one bitch of a hill.

Seeing how I have a date with a hill roughly 9 hours from now I'd best get my ass to bed soon, but before I go I'd like to announce that when my competitive running days come to a halt in 15 years or so I'm not gonna be that guy chasing around easy prize money on the master's circuit. Oh no, I'm gonna rise to the real challenge and try to win this spectacle instead. Just need to put on 60 pounds or so.

Quote of the Day
"...professional distance runner, a genotype for whom life is ruled by a hard, uncompromising routine of up early every day, out the door to run over the same well-traveled loops, his meals and bedtime repeating with a monotonous regularity."
- NYRR profile of Dathan Ritzenhein, describing the same script a lot of us non-professional distance runners are playing similar roles in.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Random run-in

8:15 AM - 18 miles, 2:00:00 - Rail Trail.
1-minute pickup every 5th minute for the first hour, easy with Bill for about 30 minutes, last 30 minutes a hair under 6-minute pace. Good run, likely north of 18 but probably not by much.

It's funny who you'll happen to cross paths with - quite literally - in the middle of a two-hour run. About halfway through my weekend romp at the Rail Trail this morning I ran into old buddy Bill Gaudere, who oddly enough I had been trying to meet up with over the past few weeks to no avail, that is until our unintentional encounter earlier today. This chance meeting at the 55-minute mark of my long run forced me to alter my original plans somewhat, but I was more than happy to do so since Old Man Willy and I don't run into one another all that often these days. Our schedules conflict more than they used to, but then again, my current schedule seems to conflict with just about everyone's, so that's nothing new. Still, it was good to catch up with the guru who's had as much an influence on me as a runner and a person as anyone else I can think of. He's hooked me up with some pretty sweet retro t-shirts over the years too. And for the record, the old bastard can still crank it.

Quote of the Day

"You have to expect the unexpected on Trials day. You show up as fit as you can, and the rest is magic. This race has so much meaning for me, and that makes a big difference once the gun goes off. I would have hung them up if I didn't think I could run fast again another day."
- Trent Briney

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Wrap it up

Weekly Summary: September 16-22
Sunday - 10:30 AM: 10 miles. Canal Diggers 5K, 15:44 for the win. Ran 16:47 on the same course 15 minutes before as part of a workout. 5:45 PM: 6 miles, 45:25. Easy shakeout after work. Beer and barbecue after run.
Monday - 4:25 PM: 10 miles, 1:07:30. Relaxing romp from Reebok with Keith Kelly.
Tuesday - 11:20 AM: 4 miles, 31:35. Pre-workout shakeout. 6:30 PM: 12 miles. 10 x Bottom-to-Top on Heartbreak Hill with the boys of NB Boston. Drills beforehand.
Wednesday - 8 miles, 57:10. Tired, but otherwise not feeling too bad.
Thursday - 8:35 AM: 12 miles, 1:23:00. 6 x 10-second hill charges afterward.
Friday - 7:25 AM: 10 miles, 1:03:30. 8 x 100m strides mid-run at Horgan track, last 4 miles progression in 6:00, 5:55, 5:35, 5:20.
Saturday - 7:50 AM: 6 miles, 44:25. Easy does it to end the week.
Totals: 78 miles, 9 runs. Solid week with a good amount of quality running mixed in there. Sunday went better than expected, Tuesday was a great workout and although Friday's progression run was rather unimpressive, I still got something out of it. Consistency is the main goal this fall, so I think if I can string together a few more weeks like this I'll find myself in pretty good shape, literally and figuratively.

Quote of the Day

"We fight on. We don’t give in...The thing is that we bounce back and we don’t let things get us down for months on end. We get over it and we move on."
- Benita Johnson on how she and Craig Mottram respond to a setback.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Progression session

7:25 AM - 10 miles, 1:03:30 - Horgan Track.
4 miles to Horgan (28:00), 2 miles of striding the back straight on the track (12:40), 4-mile progression back home (22:50 - 6:00, 5:55, 5:35, 5:20).

Not gonna lie, this one wasn't as easy as I hoped it would be but then again running hard first thing in the morning rarely ever classifies as effortless. Normally I wouldn't consider finishing up the last couple miles of a run at a mid-5:30 pace all that difficult an endeavor, but doing so less than an hour removed from a deep sleep is a whole different story. Menial complaints aside, the important thing is that I got the damn thing done, not with the ease or speed I was hoping for, but done nonetheless.

The rest of my NB Boston teammates will run a similar session tomorrow morning in Lincoln, but because of my wacky weekend work schedule and relative lack of proximity to the aforementioned location, I get the privilege of doing the the second workout of the week on my own. It's not an ideal situation, but because of the circumstances it is what it is. If anything, I think flying solo through turbulence once a week this fall will pay huge mental dividends when it comes time to toe the starting line. It's one thing when you can latch on to someone and fly the friendly skies, it's a whole 'nother kind of adventure when you hit a rough stretch without the luxury of a co-pilot. The real test is not abandoning your aircraft when it starts taking a nosedive.

Quote of the Day

"Keep the faith, 2008 is a big year for running and life."
- Keith Kelly, speaking, er, e-mailing, the truth.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Every hour counts

8:35 AM - 12 miles, 1:23:00 - Sterling Rail Trail.
6-mile loop, not once, but twice. 42:15/40:45 for each go around, keeping things under control the entire way. 6 x 10-second hill charges afterward.

Got a bit of a longer run in this morning since I didn't need to be in to work until noon, perhaps the biggest, if not only, advantage of keeping the store open an extra hour on Thursday nights. The combination of Sunday's workout/race and Tuesday night's hills and drills seem to have finally taken their toll on my legs, mostly my calves, and I really had no desire to pick things up this morning, not even a little bit. I was still able to get in some good mileage, however, and finished up the run with 6 short hill charges on a moderately steep grade. The whole goal with the hill charges is to work on my form and improve my basic power, two things I deem important but regretfully haven't paid much attention to the last few years. Ideally, I'll do one or two of these sessions a week after easy runs and I'm hoping that along with drills, the short hills will make me stronger, more efficient and less injury prone. Time will tell, but given my recent history, I figure they're worth giving a shot.

Quote of the Day

"Chess is like track and track is like life. In all of them, you have many choices, and depending on your choice, there will be consequences. So one must choose wisely."
- Khadevis Robinson

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Make it quick!

7:30 AM - 8 miles, 57:10 - Rockland 8.
Easy does it on this crisp morning, the first one in a long while that warranted wearing a long sleeve t-shirt. Legs expectedly tired given the combination of mileage and intensity the last three days, but feeling pretty good on the whole.

This one will be quick - surprise, surprise - because it's getting late and I've yet to devote any part of my day to stretching and core work, two things I deem very important and two things I haven't been doing near enough of lately. Also, by getting taking care of these two essential exercises in a timely fashion, I can get my ass to bed at a reasonable hour, another area I've been failing miserably in of late. And let's face it, a slow distance run and a relatively uneventful day at work don't make for interesting blogging, but if and when they ever do I'll be the first to share, unless, that is, any of the names listed on the right side of this page beat me to it. Hasta mañana hombres.

Quote of the Day

"I didn’t find myself saying 'God, these girls are the best in the world.' I was thinking to myself 'you are, too; you earned your spot here.'"
- Anna Willard on racing at the World Championships

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Final draft

11:20 AM - 4 miles, 31:35 - Lake Park.
Lil joggy jog on the dirt to stretch the legs out a bit before tonight's workout. First 1/2 mile on the track a dead-on 4 minutes, last 1/2 in a spot-on 3:20. The three outer loops and a mile on the track works out to exactly 4.36 miles, but c'mon, who's counting?

6:30 PM - 12 miles - Heartbreak Hill.
8 x Bottom-to-Top with Ryan, Jeff, Fabian, Justin and new addition John Nieskens. Drill set beforehand on the grass, consisting of butt kicks, quick feet, backward running, karaoke and bounding. Workout went well, felt very strong throughout. Times ranged from 1:55 to start down to 1:48 for the last one. Solid group, this fall is gonna be exciting.

Quote of the Day

"Saw this and thought of you!!"
- E-mail this morning from good pal Melissa Kinney, regarding the above image. For the record, I've never once considered removing a non-essential body part in the hopes of cutting a few seconds off my 10K time. The removal of non-essential body hair, yes, but that's a whole different cartoon.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Talking shop

4:25 PM - 10 miles, 1:07:30 - Reebok International.
Roads to Blue Hills trails and back with Keith, then added on 2 miles with Ted once back on campus. Good run, legs seem to have bounced back well from yesterday's effort.

Great afternoon at Reebok world headquarters in Canton checking out new product, talking shop and going for a run with Keith Kelly, our store's sales rep and an all-around good guy to boot. It was cool to see how the other side of the athletic footwear industry operates and get a peek at all the shit that has to go down before a new shoe lands itself a spot on my store's wall. The amount of innovation, design, testing and tweaking that a shoe undergoes before it gets released is absolutely mind-blowing. And even then there's no guarantee that they "got it right", but that's where feedback from retailers and wear-testers comes in handy before the designers go back to the drawing board, so to speak. From a retailer's perspective, it's always exciting to be asked for product feedback by a vendor who really wants to improve the quality of the stuff they're putting out and then to actually see those improvements take place. Reebok is a company that certainly falls into that category. A lot of the old footwear from back in the DMX days left a sore spot on a lot of runner's feet and has made a lot of folks, specialty retailers included, reluctant to give their current line a shot. It's too bad, because while the new RBK stuff certainly isn't perfect, it's a lot better than it used to be. And an early look this afternoon at next year's line showed me that Reebok is willing to take the steps necessary to improve a product that can compete with established industry leaders. Ridiculous past marketing campaigns aside, this company has the right people in the right places to make it happen, so it's up to specialty retailers like PR Running to give the Reebok product a shot and help grow the brand as best we can. As someone who's seen up close the direction Reebok Running wants to go in, I'm happy to do so.

Quote of the Day

"I don't rest on past laurels."
- Steve Scott

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Double your fun

10:35 AM - 10 miles - Canal Diggers 5K.
Ran the inaugural Canal Diggers 5K as the second part of a pre-arranged workout with Kevin of 2 x 5K. No splits, but did the first on my own in 16:46 (5:24 pace), raced the second in 15:44 (5:04 pace). Nice to reacquaint myself with old friend Ann Aerobia, even if just for a brief minute or two.

5:45 PM - 6 miles, 45:25 - Hopedale.
Double dose of the pond after work. Lightheaded and woozy but legs felt fine.

Just got home from a night consisting of barbecue, beer, baseball and the Brady Show at Rich's house, so this will be quick. Busy day today with a workout/race all rolled into one this morning, an afternoon shift working at the store, a refreshing evening run on the hallowed dirt of Hopedale and one of the biggest nights of New England sports in recent memory. Let's just forget about the fact that the Sox dropped 2 of 3 to the Yanks at home and revel in the Pats 38-14 dismantling of the Chargers instead. Yeah, let's do that.

Anyway, as I mentioned on Friday, this morning's workout was 2 x 5K with goal paces of 5:25-30 for the first go around and 5:10-15 a few minutes a later. I didn't get any splits along the way, but hit 16:46 (5:24), 15:44 (5:04) with about 15 minutes in between the two. I was shooting for only 10 minutes of respite, but the start of the race was pushed back 5 minutes so the walkers could get an unnecessary head start.

Overall, I'm very happy with the effort, even more so to pull out the win. The course was flat and conditions were ideal, but I'm not gonna lie - I was busting my ass the second time around. Once the singlet went on and the horn went off, hitting splits went out the window and the only goal became to win the damn race. After a choppy start, I spent 2-1/2 miles trying to chase down Byron Gartrell until I finally caught him with just over a 1/4 mile to go. I got gapped, but I didn't quit. When I went by Byron, I went by him hard. I didn't check splits, I raced. I'll be sore tomorrow, but I can sleep well tonight.

Quote of the Day

"The last lap I tried to catch to him. But I didn’t have the energy. But now I have the courage. I do not fear anybody. Because I now realize that even me, I can make it.”
- Moses Masai

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Bad taste

Sorry, I've been choking on last night's entry since I woke up this morning. How in the world the Sox blew a 5-run lead in the 8th inning with the best bullpen in baseball is beyond me. Looking back, it's probably better that I turned the game off early rather than putting something through the TV screen and cursing myself to sleep. Luckily, the boys bounced back this afternoon and whacked Wang around to bring the division lead back up to 5-1/2 games. Thank you Cy Young, I mean Josh Beckett, for making my day just a little bit brighter.

Week Summary: September 9-15
Sunday - 8:35 AM: 16 miles, 1:43:05. Miles 12-15 in 5:44, 5:37, 5:27.
Monday - 11:10 AM: 6 miles, 43:05. 5 x 10-second hill charges afterward. 7:35 PM: 6 miles, 48:10.
Tuesday - 8 AM: 4 miles, 28:25. 6:10 PM: 10 miles. 10 x 1-minute on Heartbreak Hill.
Wednesday - 7:40 AM: 8 miles, 57:20. Tired.
Thursday - 7:20 AM: 10 miles, 1:08:35. 4 x 100m strides, 4 x 400m (73.13, 71.07, 71.85, 70.55).
Friday - 11:45 AM: 10 miles, 1:10:35. 5 x 10-second hill charges at 45 minutes, 5 x 20-second strides during the last mile.
Saturday - 8:05 AM: 6 miles, 43:45. Easy today, hard tomorrow.
Totals: 76 miles, 9 runs. Another good week in the books. Hope to string together a steady slew of these throughout the fall.

Quote of the Day

"I think a lot of people go into races, especially the marathon, just so determined to run a certain time. Though my times are important to me, I realized at Boston I just had to relax and let it go. During the race I just tried to stay really attuned to how I was feeling and respond to that."
- Ann Alyanak, who ran a 10-minute PR to finish as the second American woman in the 2007 Boston Marathon

Friday, September 14, 2007

Off day, or is it?

11:45 AM - 10 miles, 1:10:30 - West Hill.
Parked at the canal, roads down to West Hill, one loop and back. Added on with a little out-and-back toward Plummer's Landing and stopped at the intersection of Upton Road and Pudding Street 45 minutes in for 5 x 10-second hill charges. Threw in 5 x 20-second strides over the last mile as well, just to stretch the legs out a bit.

Day off from work today, but a busy one nonetheless. It's funny, my days off aren't ever really "off", but rather days where I try and get all the other crap done that I manage to neglect during my irregular work week. Today started with a doctor's appointment for my aching right eye, which it turns out is infected. Looks like I'll be wearing my glasses for a few days till this sucker clears up, literally. From there, I headed home to update the local Running Calendar, which will run alongside my twice-monthly running column in this Sunday's paper. The column itself still needed some work, but I deemed completing my own run more important than completing the column, so I took off to West Hill to get some mileage in on soft ground. After getting home in the early hours of the afternoon, I showered, then sat down and had some lunch before meeting with a representative from Gallo Builders to pick a new tile for the foyer in my new pad because the first color I chose had recently been discontinued. For the curious amongst my loyal crowd, I went with "rocca grey" which replaced the "stone grey" I originally had my sights set on. I'm still wondering why this substitution couldn't be taken care of over the phone, but apparently, me initialing the change was a key part of the equation. Damn bureaucracy.

Anyway, after taking care of the trivial tile matter, I went to pick up my prescription from the pharmacy, which took close to 20 minutes. Mind you I dropped the script off on my way home from the appointment this morning, and never mind the fact that the damn thing was nothing more than a tiny bottle of eye drops. Yes, eye drops!

Moving on. Eye drops in hand and eventually in my eye, I got home, had some fish for dinner with the rents and got back to work on my column. The goal was to finish the thing by 6 so I could head out to Stonehill for the football home-opener at W.B. Mason Stadium, but it wasn't meant to be. 2-1/2 hours and almost 20 inches of type later, I put the finishing touches on a piece highlighting the importance of making yourself visible while running outside during the fall and winter months. I even managed to work a reference to Clark Griswold in there. Make sure to check it out here on Sunday.

Speaking of Sunday, I'll be racing in this inaugural event hosted by the one and only Paul Collyer. After talking things over with Kevin earlier this week, I'll be using the race as part of a tempo/threshold workout consisting of 2 x 5K. The plan will be to navigate the course at 10:35 AM all by my lonesome at what will hopefully be a leisurely aerobic pace of 5:20-5:30 a mile, then at 11 AM try and lead 400-500 other runners on an even faster 3.1-mile tour of Worcester's thriving Canal District. The goal is to get down to 5:10-15 pace or thereabouts the second time around. Yes, I realize that's not much of a drop in pace, but there's a very fine line between my aerobic and anaerobic capacities right now. A few more weeks of steady mileage mixed with some well-placed hill workouts, tempo runs and fartleks should help to widen that gap a bit.

And few hours of sleep right now will help ensure that I'm well-rested for my efforts on Sunday morning. I'm feeling pretty good about the 7-2 lead the Sox are holding over the Yanks right now in the seventh, so I don't mind shutting this one off early. Let's just hope I don't wake up tomorrow morning eating those words.

Quote of the Day

This is the point where it gets interesting, you sort of ride the line just below being injured (hopefully), and I personally am lucky if I have two runs a week where I actually enjoy myself. This is what it takes to compete in the trials though, and most of the guys are willing to do it, I just hope we can walk in ten years."
- Brian Sell on going 'ballz deep'

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Runaway winner

7:20 AM - 10 miles, 1:08:35 - Horgan Track.
28:20 to Horgan, 2 miles on the track in 11:50, 28:25 back home. 2 miles on the track consisted of striding the back straightaway on the odd laps and running a faster 400 on the even ones. Even laps were as follows: 73.13, 71.07, 71.85, 70.55.

Yesterday morning gets my vote as Morning of the Year for 2007. It's gonna be a hard one to beat - 50 degrees, sunny, slightly breezy and most importantly, dry. Absolutely pristine conditions, I thought that even Mayall would be hard pressed to complain, but a check of his log this morning reveals that he indeed did.

As for the run itself, I was feeling a little less fatigued than Wednesday morning, borderline energetic in fact. Depending on how I felt, I was planning on throwing some short pickups into one of my runs either Thursday or Friday, and the combination of beautiful weather and adequate energy levels steered me toward getting it over with sooner rather than later.

So, rather than carrying out the original plan of a few 1-minute surges and strides yesterday, I decided on the fly to make use of the Horgan track mid-run and do 2 miles around the oval instead, alternating between strides on the odd laps and full quarter-mile pickups on the evens. I figured 5-minute pace or 75 seconds would be pushing my limits on the one lappers, but I was pleasantly surprised to comfortably click off four rotations in the low 70s. Given where I'm at right now, this was certainly encouraging. Never mind that a few years ago I used to click off 12 laps straight at this pace, but let's not dwell on the past, for the future looks brighter.

That's it for now. I'm off to go bang out 10-12 miles on the hallowed ground known as the West Hill Dam. If I'm not too strapped for time this afternoon, I may even update this page again later today. Take it easy folks.

Quote of the Day

"Well, you don’t want to be the kid in the backyard imagining that he just hit a three-point shot with no time left in the NBA Finals. Then you’re just a dreamer. Success in our sport comes from putting in the work, enjoying the process and getting yourself as ready as you can be."
- Matt Downin

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Doubling up

8:00 AM - 4 miles, 28:25 - Pakachoag 4.
Easy shakeout before work.

6:10 PM - 10 miles - Newton Hills.
Just me, Justin Maloney and most of the ladies last night for 10 x 1 minute up Heartbreak Hill. Small crew for this one, but just happy to be back with the team. Luckily the rain let up for us and conditions were near perfect. Felt strong throughout, but could feel my form starting to unravel a bit toward the end of the last two.

7:40 AM - 8 miles, 57:20 - RockPak 8.
Tired, but otherwise no complaints. Nice morning, finally starting to feel like fall.

I apologize for the lack of an entry yesterday and a bare bones one tonight. It's been a busy week on many fronts, so a few things have unfortunately fallen victim to my own neglect, this blog included. That being said, and seeing how I've got a full day on tap at the store tomorrow, I'd be best served to get my ass to bed at a reasonable hour. Come to think of it, right now seems reasonable enough. Goodnight.

Quote of the Day

"This may sound masochistic, but forcing yourself is a part of competitive running and you either are good at it and become better at it, or you never take up the challenge."
- Bill Rodgers, Marathoning, page 167

Monday, September 10, 2007

Got shoes?

11:10 AM - 6 miles, 43:05 - Sterling Rail Trail.
Kept things short and slow as planned. 5 x 10-second hill charges afterward. The idea is to do these again on Thursday and keep them in the rotation twice a week after easy runs.

7:35 PM - 6 miles, 48:10 - Easton Y.
Pre-Owen's run with Bergs, Reino and Fran. 3 x 100-yard strides on the turf at Stonehill mid-run to stretch the legs out a bit. We successfully managed to navigate the Sheep Pasture trails in the dark but were unable to accomplish our goal of infiltrating the scene of this morning's house explosion. Still had a blast though.

Behold my fleet of footwear, currently fighting strong at 27 pair. This elite running unit draws from various brand backgrounds and represents an array of different sizes, shapes and colors. Some play a more prominent role on my feet than others, but like a youth basketball team, everyone will eventually see some playing time. Not all those pictured here can cut the mustard though, and this cohesive unit bound together by shoe goo doesn't rebuild, it simply reloads. Every 4 to 6 weeks new recruits hoping to replace old warriors must go through a rigorous training program that tests the very heart of their beefed-up midsoles. Those who can eclipse the magical 100-mile mark are among the fortunate few who have shown me they have what it takes to earn a spot on my feet for 300 to 500 miles. The ones that can't, well, these poorly constructed piles of EVA foam aren't totally neglected, just relegated to the menial, often boring, but equally important task of protecting my feet at low-impact times of the day.

Quote of the Day

"They did offer a laptop computer as the big prize for the raffle. No word on whether the hard drive had users' personal info on it.'
- New Balance Boston's Mark Mayall, winner of yesterday's 3.5-mile Road Race

Sunday, September 09, 2007

On the ropes

8:35 AM - 16 miles, 1:43:05 - Stone Church.
52:36 on the up-and-down 8-mile loop, keeping things pretty relaxed minus a few piss poor attempts to run the hills hard. 50:24 for the second "8", which in reality is closer to 8.4, including a steady 3-mile stretch from 12-15 in 5:44, 5:37, 5:27. Finished up with an easy mile before calling it a day. Solid run, but soft compared to Casey's effort over the same distance this morning.

Finally back on a regular schedule, but that doesn't mean life has been any less hectic. Rich and I survived another asskicking at work today, the second day in a row the two of us have been pummeled by fall marathoners, weekend warriors, high school cross country runners, fitness walkers, Team In Training Gallowalkers and everyday Joe Schmoes with every podiatric malady under the sun.

As physically exhausted, not to mention mentally battered and bruised, some of these difficult cases have left me, it was a great weekend at the store, made even better by the woman who put a big smile on my face when she bought not one, but two, Garmin 305 GPS units yesterday. I even got a chuckle this afternoon when told by a high school runner that the apparent ignorance I displayed by not mentioning her team's home cross country course in this article made one of her teammates mad. I'm not gonna lie, as the local running writer who works at the local running store and crosses paths with 98% of the local running population, it made my weekend.

Exhaustion, Garmin-induced smiling and basking in my own ability to piss people off aside, it's been both exciting and satisfying to see how much this small store has grown in the scant year I've been fortunate enough to call myself an employee. It's a good feeling to see Rich and Jess fulfilling their dream, while filling what was a gaping hole in the Central Mass. running community.

Speaking of filling gaping holes, the folks over at Gallo Builders are doing a nice job turning the pile of dirt at 65 Sophia Drive into a structure that is starting to resemble a livable dwelling. The following photos were taken this morning. Lovely color, don't ya think?

And that's gonna do it for today. I've got a much-needed day off from work tomorrow, which should leave me plenty of time to get some rest and start brainstorming ideas for my next running column. I wonder who I'll manage to piss off this week...

Quote of the Day

"Personally, I don't think human beings should ever run when its 90 degrees. I try to avoid it, and am moderately successful...Any race that's run in temperatures over 80 degrees should be boycotted by runners!...I always have hated summer running. Maybe we can ban it...Run as you feel, not according to some running guru's theories. Half the time those guys were never really very good. Sorry, had to say that."
- Bill Rodgers, in an excerpt from the "Ask Bill" section of the Running Times website. Check out this page, it's a true gem.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Run easy

7:40 AM - 5 miles, 35:50 - Pakachoag 5.
Easy does it to end the week. Felt much better than the past couple days. It's amazing what 8 hours of sleep and 7-minute miles will do for your energy levels.

Weekly Summary: September 2-8
Sunday - AM: 16 miles, 1:45:00. Last 5 miles in 5:19, 5:33, 5:12, 6:18 (recovery), 4:54. Pretty much all downhill. 5 x 10-second hill charges afterward.
Monday - 10:15 AM: 7 miles, 51:00.
Tuesday - 6:55 AM: 8 miles, 54:00.
Wednesday - 9:45 AM: 8 miles, 51:20. 5 x 2 minutes @ 5K effort w/2 minutes recovery. 5 x 10-second hill charges afterward. 7:35 PM: 4 miles, 30:15.
Thursday - 8:45 AM: 12 miles, 1:21:45.
Friday - 7:20 AM: 10 miles, 1:09:50. 10 x 20-second strides.
Saturday - 7:40 AM: 5 miles, 35:50.
Totals: 70 miles, 8 runs. Solid week, best one since VCM. Still have a long way to go to get where I want to be but I've got plenty of time to get there.

Quote of the Day

“He looked at me and said, ‘I wouldn’t count on it. You probably won’t be that great.’ So right then I’m thinking to myself, ‘I’m going to prove this guy wrong.’”
- Anthony Famiglietti

Friday, September 07, 2007

Early night

7:20 AM - 10 miles, 1:09:50 - RockPak 10.
First 3 miles all north of 7-minute pace. Tired from the time I rolled out of bed, not too sure how I managed to pick things up as much as I apparently did. 10 x 20-second strides over the last 4 miles might have had something to do with it. Surprisingly, those didn't feel too bad.

It's 9:51 p.m., and I'm going to bed. Now.

Quote of the Day

"Sometimes, you're feeling like crap, you're out there and sometimes it's just the team and you know they're counting on you...and there's just something different about it, you know, about being a part of a team really and you know, contributing to it."
- Ohio State coach Robert Gary on being part of a cross country team

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Tireday, I mean Thursday

8:45 AM - 12 miles, 1:21:45 - Rail Trail.
Back-n-forth on the trail a few times, starting out pretty easy and gradually working down to 6:20 pace or so by the end. Body still tired, legs a little on the sore side from yesterday's hill charges but on the whole not feeling too bad.

Con Senora y Senor Ponce the night after the wedding.

Quote of the Day

"There isn't any secret to being a great runner. You must just train very hard. Very, very hard. That's the secret."
- Said Aouita

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Fill 'er up

9:45 AM - 8 miles, 51:20 - RockPak 8.
Plan was for 10 x 1-minute hills, but too tired and sluggish from travel to actually go through with it so I improvised on the fly. Hit the first 3 miles in 7:21, 6:48, 6:26, then did 5 x 2 minutes @ 5K effort w/2 minutes float for recovery. Ran the last mile up and over Malvern Road in 5:28 - 1 second better than last week - and finished up with 5 x 10 second hill charges on Auburn Hill afterward. Good effort, but not great.

7:35 PM - 4 miles, 30:15 - Westboro.
Easy shakeout from the store with Casey after work. Felt good to stretch the legs out.

First full day back in Mass, first full day back to work and first full day of training for the upcoming fall racing season. I'm not gonna lie, it was a lot to squeeze in for one day, so hopefully I still have some room left for a few hours of much-needed sleep.

The good thing about this full-fledged dive into September is that I'm finally going to be back on a regular schedule with work and running, making everything else that much more manageable. This morning's makeshift workout made me realize 1. how much I really need the team right now to maximize the effectiveness of my harder efforts and 2. that I really need to be more diligent about getting a sufficient amount of rest so I'm recovering properly and getting the most out of said efforts.

So, taking these two key points into consideration, Tuesday night can't come soon enough. It will be my first workout back with the team since before VCM and I'm really looking forward to feeding off the energy of my New Balance Boston teammates and training hard again under Kevin's watchful eye. As Ryan and Jeff both alluded to in their own blogs, it's going to be an exciting season - full of long and short hills, explosive drills, up-tempo paces and kickass races.

Time to get psyched up, spiked up and ready to tear it up!

Quote of the Day

"And if you want to leap up to their level, no one's going to give it to you. You've got to work for it to make the jump."
- Peter Gilmore on what it takes to reach the next level.

Zoning out

Monday - 10:15 AM - 7 miles, 51:00 - Alton Baker Park.
Comments: Hit up Pre's Trails and ran the roads in and around the U of O. Legs were pretty messed up from yesterday's downhill silliness but didn't feel too bad once I got going. Woodchips were just what the doctor ordered.

Tuesday - 6:55 AM - 8 miles, 54:00 - Beaverton.
Comments: Got out early from the hotel before the flight home and by shit luck managed to stumble upon Nike world headquarters. An absolutely incredible facility, what with a 2-mile woodchip running trail and all. I'm just glad I didn't get booted for my New Balance hat, Sporthill shirt, Reebok shorts and Mizuno sneaks.

Just got in after 12 hours of travel and stops in three different time zones. I'll have more to write about my trip in the coming days, but for now I have trick my body back into believing it's 12:52 a.m. and it would be in my best interest to get some much-needed sleep. G'night fools.
Quote of the Day

"Nothing like being put in the hot seat, but then it's one of my favorite places. If the answers to all running shoe questions were easy, I'd have to go out and find a real job. An ugly thought indeed."
- J.D. Denton, aka the Running Times "Shoe Guy", telling it like it is.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Great discovery

10:15 AM - 16 miles, 1:45:00 - Forest Park.
Comments: Hit up the out-n-back Leif Erikson trail in Portland, conveniently marked every 1/4 mile out to Mile 6. Net uphill on the way out, just the opposite on the way back. 2 x 2 miles @ ~6:00 pace at 40 and 60 minutes, last 5 solo in 5:19, 5:33, 5:12, 6:18 (recovery), 4:54. 5 x 10-second hill charges afterward.

This will be brief because I've got to get ready for the wedding soon, but if you ever happen to find yourself out this way, make sure you check out the Leif Erikson trail just off the end of Northwest Thurman Street in Portland. It's magical. I must've seen at least 75 people out running and another 25 or so ascending and descending the trail on their bikes. The beauty of it all is that the entire gravel road is marked, wonderfully shaded and has plenty of room for everyone. Definitely a Top-5'er.

Quote of the Day

"Kara showed that if you dream big and follow through, your dreams can come true."
- Steve Slattery on former Buff Kara Goucher's success. Not bad advice for the rest of us, either.

Saturday, September 01, 2007


7:15 PM - 9 miles, 1:05:00 - Beaverton, OR.
Comments: Went exploring from the hotel with Mariko. Hit a couple parks and a nice sports complex with a short wood chip trail. Very stuffed up for some reason but felt much better than I expected to after traveling all day.

Running column complete, arrived safely in Oregon and not as tired as I thought I'd be. Good start to the weekend.

Quote of the Day

"He’s not looking at the foothills, he’s got his eyes of the mountains."
- Dan Browne on Ryan Hall