Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ending on a good note

8:40 AM - BSC - Bike, 30:00.
Steady 65-70% effort throughout.

This will be my last post of 2008, making it a paltry 110 entries for the year but a whopping 21 this month. That's almost 20% of my annual output! In a period of plummetting productivity, there's something to be said for closing out the year on a killer note. My main mission with this blog for 2009 is to carry this renewed momentum through the new year and help the daily runaround live up to its name once again.

For all you number crunchers, I'll start compiling year-end mileage totals over the next couple days and provide all those unexciting details when I've got nothing better to do. Till then, take it easy and Happy New Year!

Shoe shocked

8:05 AM - Westboro - 8 miles, 1:01:00.

Just got home a short while ago from a 13-hour day at the store, highlighted by the always exciting end-of-the-year inventory which has left me in a mental tailspin after hand counting a shitload of shoes, so this will short-n-sweet. Nothing overly exciting about this morning's run around Westboro other than enjoying the cool company of Brian Cann for the last 30 minutes of an easy hour on the roads. Tomorrow will be nothing more a short spin on the bike followed by a solid stretching session, and if the weather doesn't get to whacky and the roads are clear by 11 o'clock on Thursday morning, I'll line up for the annual Freezer 5 in Sterling to test out a little tempo run. For now, however, it's off to bed in an attempt to snag a few hours of sweet shuteye. G'night.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Step on it

10:20 AM - Westboro - 7 miles, 50:00.
11-minute stretch toward the end at a comfortably hard effort, 2:40 for the last 1/2 mile on the track. 4 x 20-second strides afterward.

11:35 AM - BSC - Bike, 30:00.
5 x 2:00 out of the saddle @ 85-90% effort w/2:00 seated recovery.

After idling along for the past couple days, it was time to step on the accelerator again this morning with a steady stretch of sustained effort along the backroads of Westboro. I'm gradually starting to put some gas back in the engine in the hope that I can get this car running efficiently again soon. I'm being careful not to pour too much in at once in order to keep everything running smoothly. So far, so good.

I'm approaching the seven-week mark of my return to running and I've been pleasantly surprised at how quickly I've been able to re-find my rhythm. I finished this morning's steady segment on the ol' 400-meter oval just to get an idea of what speed I was traveling at, and I had to crack a small smile when I saw 2:40 staring back at me as I looked to my watch after a two-lap tour of the track. It wasn't so much the round numbers that made me happy as the ease of the effort with which I made them appear. It's still early in the comeback quest, but I'm feeling oddly optimistic, both physically and mentally. 2008 was a tough year on many different levels, but 2009 is going to be a great year. I can just feel it.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Race Report: Hudson Elite Invite

SATURDAY
8:25 AM - BSC - Bike, 1:00:00.
Spin class.

SUNDAY
9:50 AM - Hudson/Marlboro - 10 miles, 1:12:00.
3 sets of drills afterward.

Unbeknownst to me, I was entered along with seven other unsuspecting souls in the inaugural running of the Hudson Elite Invitational Road Race this morning. It was quite the who's who amongst runners with Central Mass. ties when the figurative gun went off just before 10 AM, and less than twenty minutes into the affair I had established my spot in a pack that consisted of a 2:10 marathoner, an NCAA D1 cross country All-American, a World Military XC stud, the 2008 Bay State Marathon winner AND course record holder, the fastest red head to ever to rock a pair of black OxySox, a Mike Mahone Cross Country All-Star and last but certainly not least, the course-record holder of the challenging Clinton Tribute Road Race. This was faster company than I probably should have surrounded myself with for only my seventh week back in action, but I felt confident that I could hold my own so I just stuck my nose in there and let my legs do the work. There were a few elbows thrown and some smack was talked, and somewhere around the 60-minute mark the pack began to dissolve and chaos ensued. Hours later, I still can't say with any certainty who was declared the overall winner of this late-December scorcher, but if there happens to be an award for outleaning the red headed fella at the telephone pole that doubles as the unspoken finish line, then I'm in line for some hardware if the non-existent photo finish rules in my favor. Otherwise, I'm shit out of luck and probably won't be invited back next week. Still waiting to hear back from the race director for an official ruling. Someone let me know when they post the results on coolrunning.

Having trouble figuring out the true identities of this elite unit? First person not amongst those listed above to correctly identify all eight of the aforementioned participants wins a prize.**

**The "prize" and its distribution is at the full discretion of the author. Play at your own risk.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Brick

8:15 AM - Westboro - 7 miles, 50:00.
4 x 20-second strides afterward.

7 AM, day after Christmas,
I throw some clothes on in the dark.
The smell of cold,
car seat isn't freezing,
because the Corolla's locked up in the garage.
Down the stairs to my garage,
I grabbed my gym bag off the couch.
I stopped at McDonald's for some coffee,
and then made my way down to Westboro.

The gym is packed,
no one seems to be working,
so I lace up my running shoes and on head on out.
Now that I'm surrounded by a bunch of joggers,
I feel like running alone,
more than I ever have before.

I feel like a brick and I'm running slowly,
down the street and I'm heading nowhere.
I feel like a brick and I'm running slowly.

I finish the run before 9:30,
and I do some strides in the parking lot.
Then I walk back in the building
to stretch my legs out and loosen up.
Can't they see it's me I'm running for,
I'm running alone,
more than I ever have before.

I feel like a brick and I'm running slowly,
down the street and I'm heading nowhere.
I feel like a brick and I'm running slowly.

As the minutes go by,
the treadmill joggers think I'm not fine.
They told me son,
it's time to run inside
like the rest of us.

They broke down,
and I turned around,
because I was tired of explaining.

Going back to the locker room,
for the moment I was alone.
They leave me alone.
I run alone,
and now they know it.

I feel like a brick and I'm running slowly,
down the street and I'm heading nowhere.
I feel like a brick and I'm running slowly.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Most Wonderful Run of the Year

9:10 AM - Auburn - 9 miles, 1:04:30.

Today is hands down my most favorite running day of the year. Thanksgiving turkey trots and July 4th road races have nothing on the annual Christmas Run through the serene streets of Auburn. Today's little tour of the town was the fourth edition of this late-December classic and every year it just seems to keep getting better. If you want in for next year, applications can be submitted by way of commenting on this post and are due for review no later than 12.24.09.

Anyway, a brief history. Four years ago, one Katie Gwyther and I realized that we had not much more than a half mile separating our respective whereabouts on Christmas morning and this was a long-overlooked geographical gem that needed to be capitalized upon. As with all things that were just meant to be, everything eventually fell into place, Fitzy's Market became the spot to meet and 9 o'clock became the time to start running. After two years of just the two of us running together, word started to spread and the Christmas Run started to grow.

2007 saw the addition of Millbury's two most-celebrated Woolies, Erin Dromgoole and no, not Ron Darling, but this guy who just so happens to sit at the top of my blogroll. Marky Mark Driscoll jumped on the bandwagon for the first time this morning and proved he has what it takes to run with the big dawgs around Pakachoag Hill on December 25. If things continue to grow at this rate, we might have to start turning people away. Consider signing up soon.

The Christmas Run, and just Christmas in general, has taken on a very special meaning to me, especially this year. Today, for me, was about gifts. No, not giving them and getting them, but appreciating those that I have -- my family and my friends. I'm very thankful to have such great people in my life -- especially my Mom, who I know is always with me -- and it absolutely made my day to be surrounded by, talk on the phone with or otherwise communicate with those who mean the world to me. I really couldn't have asked for anything else.

A Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I gut nuthin'

DAY OFF.

Zero, zilch, nada. No running, no biking, no lifting, no nothing -- and I planned it that way. I did get in to see Mike Roberts this morning at Central Mass. Physical Therapy and that appointment proved to be very insightful and helped paint a clearer picure of my anatomical imbalances. I'll go into more detail when I have more time, but basically I'm a myofascial mess who could benefit from doing a little more core work.

In the meantime, I invite you to sing along to the sounds of the season with my crazy cousin Dominic. If you're offended, please don't take it personally. He's an ass.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Short-n-Sweet

8:55 AM - Westboro - 6 miles, 41:00.
Workout: 3 x [2:00-1:00-0:30 @ 10K effort] 1:00 recovery between reps, 1:30 between sets.

9:50 AM - BSC - Bike, 30:00.

It's getting late and I've got an early appointment with this guy tomorrow morning, so I'll make this quick. Today marked my first workout on land since I busted my backside on October 1st and all things considered it went very well. This was meant to be nothing more than an easy icebreaker to get my legs and lungs back on the same page and that's exactly what it ended up being. I felt very comfortable and in control throughout and couldn't be happier with this initial effort. Tomorrow is a planned off day from activity so I can rest up for the annual Christmas Run on Thursday morning with KGwyth, E-Diddy, Marky Mark and Mr. McRun, where there is better than good chance that my ass will get dropped.

Monday, December 22, 2008

McRun & Me

9:25 AM - BSC - Bike, 30:00.
5 x 2:00 out of the saddle @ 85% effort w/2:00 seated recovery.

12:45 PM - Millbury - 9 miles, 1:02:00.


Since I started running about 10 years ago, I've run many, many miles with many different people, but none more than with the fella pictured next to me in the photo below.

Mr. McRun and I go all the way back to our battles as scholastic superstars in the Southern Worcester County League -- I as the jackass junior from Auburn, he the sophomore stud of the mighty Millbury machine. After a few back-n-forth battles and the urging of a mutual friend we'll call Old Man Willy, the two of us took advantage of our geographic proximity and started training together over the summers. It proved to be a fortuitous arrangement and the birth of a lifelong friendship that's lasted through high school, college and beyond. If I had to guess, we probably ran a couple thousand miles together from 1998 through 2006 and maybe only a couple hundred, at best, since then. Today's 62-minute tour of Woolie World was just like old times, but only the first time we've together since January 4th of this year. Unfortunately, geographical proximity isn't what it used to be, and there's not a mutually-convenient spot somewhere between Worcester and San Diego that would allow us to run together on a regular basis. Let's hope that changes sometime in 2009.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Haile Motivated

1:55 PM - BSC Treadmill - 7 miles, 50:00.
4 sets of drills and walking stretches in the gym afterward.

3:05 PM - BSC - Weights, 30:00.

8:00 PM - The 4-0 - Yoga, 30:00.
Various poses from The Athlete's Guide to Yoga. Need some work!

Haile Gebrselassie -- yes, holder of 26 World Records and the first and only man to run under 2:04 for the marathon -- motivated me, holder of I think one, maybe two school records still at Stonehill College, to train today.

No, the Ethiopian Emperor didn't show up at the 4-0 to stumble through the snow with me, nor did he ring my cell, send me a text, shoot me an e-mail or otherwise try and initiate personal contact. I'll need to cut about 25 minutes off my marathon PR before Mr. G starts communicating with me on a regular basis.

Luckily, letsrun.com once again acted as a messenger for the masses with this morning's Quote of the Year. For those of you who have never visited the site, might be boycotting or otherwise refuse to frequent the Number 1 running resource on the web, here are the words that got me out the door this afternoon.
"We had to stay in the Sheraton next to Heathrow but when we arrived it was about 11 o'clock in the evening and the middle of the winter. It was impossible to train outside. I started to think about how I could train and then I noticed that my hotel corridor was very long. I put on my shoes and started to run up and down it, and then some of my friends joined me. By that time it was close to midnight and people started to come out of their rooms to look at us. Do you know what happened? They all thought it was an emergency and started following us. One old woman was shouting and running down the corridor in her pyjamas."

"The reason I'm telling you this is that I didn't want to miss a day's training. I always tell young athletes the same thing, 'Wherever you go, whatever you do, what must your top priority be? Running'. In my life I do a lot of things but I never forget my training. Athletics is in my blood. The top priority must always be training, training. This is a discipline. You have to do it."
After returning home from grocery shopping this morning I had absolutely no intention of leaving the house again today. Then around 1 o'clock I developed a fast-spreading case of stir craziness, started feeling like a slacker and decided that I had an itch to go belt dancing at the Boston Sports Club, snow-covered roads be damned. That said, if this guy could have hijacked a reindeer-powered sleigh and made it over to my place for the Pats game, I likely would not have moved from the couch other than to fetch one of the 30 bottles of beer left over from the Hergie two weeks ago.

Kidding aside, I'm glad that I got out (more so that I made it back unscathed) and got my workout in today. It's always a fantastic feeling to start the week on a good note, and it was kind of nice having the gym to myself while watching the Pats crush the Cardinals. Now, if all this snow would just go away as quickly as it came in life would be grand again.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Slowwwww Saturday

8:15 AM - BSC - Bike, 1:00:00.
10 x 2:00 out of the saddle @ 85% effort w/2:00 seated recovery.

Slow Saturday on many fronts so this will be short and sweet. Since complaining about the weather again won't get me anywhere and there's only so much I can write about a one-hour workout on the spin bike, I'm gonna take a mulligan and try to tee off again tomorrow. Hope everyone's having a super snow-filled Saturday, or a 60 and sunnyish Saturday if your names are Mark Driscoll and Katie Gwyther.













You two will get yours next week. Just you wait.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow Day

8:35 AM - Westboro - 5 miles, 36:00.
4 x 15-second strides in the parking lot afterward.

I was able to squeeze in a short run on clear roads before opening the store this morning, my final foray into forward motion to wrap up this week of wacky weather. I have an early date with the spin bike tomorrow morning and my hope is that by Sunday the roads will be runnable once again. I'm happy to have made it through this seven-day stretch with no issues other than a pair of taut calves, which are no doubt a direct result of a serious spike in mileage. 33 for the week, in five days no less. Watch out now!

In other news, I closed the store at 2 o'clock this afternoon and got home early enough to actually cook myself dinner tonight. Translation: Cook myself dinner = I did not use the microwave. This is a rarity in my world and it was kind of fun. I also managed to not burn my house down either, adding to the excitement. And for all you doubters, I've included evidence of the finished product below.

Speaking of product, yesterday Rich and I took a peek at the Brooks footwear line for next fall. As I alluded to yesterday, it was expectedly solid. If I could make one criticism, however, it would be that Brooks just flat out has too much shit in their line. A couple years back they went ahead and created their own support category for crissakes. The bottom line is that the line needs to be dialed down. There, I said it.

As for specifics, there were no big surprises in my eyes other than the axing of the Axiom. Fear not, footwear fiends, Brooks did not - I repeat, did NOT - eliminate a shoe from their line. Oh, no. They just went ahead and created a similar shoe with a nifty new name known as the Ravenna. No split post like its predecessor, but the differences between old and new pretty much end there. This is a light stability shoe, "Guidance" by Brooks standards, and fits somewhere in the support line between a nimble neutral shoe like the Ghost and solid stability shoes such as the Adrenaline and Trance. I won't even bother getting into the Switch, Infiniti or this new neutral pseudo-racing shoe whose name escapes me at the moment. Don't have that kind of time. Actually, I do, but I don't feel like wasting it right now. That said, I like the Ravenna and can't wait to give it a whirl.

Also worth mentioning would be the transformation of the Trance from a low-riding, firm stability shoe to a high-flying plush pillow that tries to be a carbon copy of the Kayano. That said, I'm not sure this strategy is very sound. The fit of Trance 8 isn't quite as dialed in - or consistent as - the Emperor of the Asics kingdom. The new marshmallow-like midsole will mimic the super-soft step in feel of its number one rival in a well-cushioned stability shoes, but the big question is whether or not it will steal some sales from the Kayano or Hurricane. Considering the consistent following shoes in this category tend to develop, my short answer is no.

Last, but not least, would be the awesome array of racers Brooks continues to put out year after year. Nothing revolutionary here, and not many changes to write about, which, as always, is a good thing in my book. As I said in a previous post, if it ain't broke, don't fix, or at least don't mess with it too much. The # 1 cross country spike at PR Running, the Mach, only undergoes a color change for next fall, and it's a pretty sweet change at that. It almosts looks Turbo Phantomish with dueling color schemes on the medial and lateral sides of the shoe. As for road flats, I can't argue much with the T6 and Racer ST. They're proven winners with a fantastic fit and cool cosmetics.

And that's more than enough shoe talk for one night. Time to head out and shovel the driveway. Again.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Home Run

9:40 AM - Worcester/Auburn - 9 miles, 1:04:00.
3 sets of drills in the parking lot afterward.
12:05 PM - BSC - Weights, 30:00.

Depending on what time the snow starts falling tomorrow, this morning's little jaunt from home may have been my last element-free run for a few days. I'm not sure on the specifics, but it looks like we're gonna get slammed with a little bit of weather over the next few days. So much for a mild winter, and it hasn't even started yet.

My run this morning covered a route which has taken on a special meaning for me over the past few months. After descending from the small mountain I call home, I made my way down Hope Ave. and into the Notre Dame Cemetery, where my Mom is buried. This is a place of peace for me. It's a spot where I can have a few uninterrupted moments with myself, my thoughts and most importantly, my Mom. It may sound crazy, but I can absolutely feel her presence every time I make this brief stop. This provides me with a tremendous sense of comfort I'm having trouble putting into words right now, so I'll just leave it at that.

In other news, Rich & I took a look at the Brooks footwear line for next fall this afternoon and - as expected - it was solid. I'd go into more detail but it's now 20 past 11 and I need to get my ass to bed. With the impending storm I'm sure I'll have some time on my hands during the next day or two to mumble about MoGo midsoles and hype up Hydroflow. Until then, take it easy.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Scaling the Pyramid

8:30 AM - BSC - Bike, 55:00.
2 x [1-2-3-3-2-1 minutes out of the saddle @ 90% effort. 1 minute recovery between reps, 3 minutes between sets.]

Old Man Winter made his presence felt this morning, ruining the roadways and adding 20 minutes to my usually calm commute. I had hoped to bang out an hour or more on the bike, but since the absolute latest I can dismount and still get the store open on time is 9:25, 55 minutes was all I had time for this morning. I made the most of it, however, climbing the pyramid twice for 24 minutes worth of work. It was a solid effort and I was able to get my heartrate up into the 180 range. This highly accurate reading was taken off my very primitive heart rate monitor, meaning I put my index and middle fingers to my neck, counted beats for 10 seconds and multiplied by 6, so 30-31 x 6 = 180-ish. How's that for targeted training?

No other excitement worth writing about today as it was a pretty slow day at the store, and I believe a lot of that had to do with the weather. The roadways were fine after 10 AM, but something about the first real sloppy day of the season has a way of keeping people indoors. And with a forecasted 8-10 inches of snow on the radar for Friday, a nor'easter on tap for later in the weekend and Christmas now only a week away, this only means one thing: we're in for a pre-holiday pummeling some time next week. I'm hope that's the case, anyway. Definitely makes the day go by faster.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Sound Mind, Sound Body Sound Off

9:30 AM - Westboro - 6 miles, 42:00.
7:30 PM - BSC - Bike, 35:00.


I had hoped to squeeze in both of my workouts before work today, but my hair cut ran a little long and I only had time for six miles and a solid stretch before looking at the Asics line somewhere around the 11 o'clock hour this morning. Neither workout is worth rambling on about, but I did work the three hills pretty hard during my run this morning and I'm no worse for the wear as I write this entry. As expected, my legs and lungs weren't on the same page but my lungs felt fantastic and my legs felt like lead and that, quite honestly, was a bit of a surprise.

No big surprises in the Asics line today though, as a lot of the old stuff simply has a brandy new number after it. Heck, if it ain't broke, don't fix it, or at least don't mess with it too much. Asics, for the most part, does a pretty good job of this. Here's a few quick quips on what Shalane's dad had to show us.

Kinsei 2. Same ugly shoe, new uglier colors. The best upgrade Asics could make to this shoe is just to get rid of it altogether. It's a waste on many levels: ridiculously expensive, ridiculously ugly and a ridiculous excuse for a functional running shoe.

Kayano 15. Only one noticeable change here, that being the addition of an asymetrical overlay right across the middle of the forefoot, making for a tighter fit up front than classic Kayano wearers may be used to. It will be interesting to see how this will be received, as a similar stunt in the Nimbus 10 didn't go over so well.

Nimbus 11. Ch-ch-ch-changes. A couple worth noting, anyway. The biggest being the elimination of the asymetrical overlay in the forefoot that had many Nimbus 10 wearers going to a wider width or a 1/2 size bigger altogether. It was a change that needed to be made and has this shoe fitting more like Nimbus 8 or 9 than the current version of this cloud. Change # 2 is conservatively cosmetic. Asics actually toned down the look of this shoe, making the primary color a very white white with a touch of basic blue. Think along the lines of the cosmetics of the Kayano 13. They've also taken out the PHF stitching across the entire line, making the collar seemless and softer than every before. Add in a layer of memory foam on the inside of the tongue and this already plush shoe is going to give the Michelin Man a run for his money.

Cumulus 12. This cloud didn't change much, and that's a good thing. Despite a forefoot sans overlays, this shoe fits the snuggest of the core neutral trainers. That said, it's not super snug. My ugly bunions had plenty of breathing room up front.

Gel 3010. The 3000 was a nice addition to the Asics line last year and the new version doesn't disappoint, either. This shoe basically splits the difference between the 2140 and Kayano, and not by much. Think of it as the 2140 on steroids. The posting is very similar to its little brother, but there's a dynamic cradle that extends to the forefoot, addressing the needs of that late stage overpronator. This shoe is a little lower to the ground than both of its brothers, but it's a bit softer and fits snugger than either of its siblings.

DS Trainer 14. Love, love, LOVE this shoe. They finally got the DS Trainer right again after two terrible versions of what has traditionally been regarded as the best lightweight performance trainer on the market. The sizing has been fixed, it's no longer running a half size too small. Asics hasn't messed with the tooling all that much, but they have cleaned up the upper and fixed forefoot, leading to a racing flat look that feels fast on the feet. No price change, either. All the more reason to love it.

2140. It's already in the stores, but no changes to The Franchise for fall 2009 other than an additional colorway. The current version is sleeker and softer than the 2130, but hasn't been messed with much. Now weighing in at $100 though, which has been the trend amongst shoes in the stability category.

Evolution. Looks like any evolving will have to wait a while with this shoe, as the only changes made were to the colorways. A solid stability shoe to the highest degree, but it's no Beast. Then again, as my rep put it, "the Beast barely classifies as a running shoe."

Landreth. Same wide-open forefoot, widest of what Asics has to offer in the cushioned category. Not as plush as the the clouds it gets grouped together with, but responsive enough to hold it's own as a solid everyday trainer.

Racing flats. Bandito hasn't changed, neither has the Hyperspeed other than some fancy shmancy new colors. The Piranha hasn't changed much, but then again how much can you change on a shoe that barely weights 4 ounces. As for the cross country spikes, the new Dirt Dog and Dirt Diva are running a full half-size bigger than last year and will have to do without the rubber plugs for 2009, as those suckers had trouble staying in their respective holes.

Yeah, that's what she said.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Training Trifecta

11:40 AM - Auburn - 6 miles, 44:00.
3 sets of drills on turf mid-run w/200m stride on the track in between sets (34.49, 34.02).
2:25 PM - BSC - Weights, 30:00.
3:05 PM - BSC - Bike, 45:00.
7 x 2:30 out of the saddle @ 80-90% effort w/2:30 seated recovery.

Foreword: I'm allowing myself no more than 20 minutes to write this entry. Aaaaaaaaaaand go.

Solid day on the training side of things as I had the day off from work and all kinds of time on my hands. It's a nice luxury for sure, but a rare one. I'm very happy to have taken full advantage of it.

There was nothing special about any of my workouts today, but it did feel good to hit the track this morning and get a small taste of speed with a couple strides in between sets of drills. The idea was to just open up the legs a bit, and I figured I could keep things under control and run 5-minute pace without breaking stride. As luck would have it, I had the wind at my back and as such it was smooth sailing around the turn and into the straightaway. The times were a couple ticks faster than I expected them to be but the effort was right where it should have been.

And that concludes the training talk portion of today's entry. I've been racking my brain for things I should, could or might want to talk about for the better part of a week now and I came to the harsh realization that I don't have the mind-boggling mileage of this guy, the musical mind of this fella or the mindless back-n-forth banter of these two clowns. I do, however, have a dorky obsession with running shoes and ironically enough it happens to be the start of the Fall 2009 selling season in the world of specialty running retail. Rich and I have already looked at Saucony, tomorrow we've got Asics, Brooks rolls in on Thursday and every other vendor under the athletic shoe umbrella will make their presence felt sometime between now and the early part of 2009.
It's easily the most wonderful time of the year for a specialty running store. With eight different vendors to look at, it's like Hanukkah for a Shoe Guy.

Bottom line, quite literally, is I'll do what I can within the constraints of confidentiality to share with you, my readers, what's hot and what's not in the running shoe world of the future.
Stay tuned.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Mario & Bob's Excellent Adventure

11:40 AM - WB Rail Trail - 7 miles, 1:01:00.

I wish I had a camera with me this morning as Hodgie-San and I navigated our way along the wind-battered West Boylston Rail Trail. The carnage was almost comical as we avoided obstacles every couple hundred feet for about 3-1/2 miles, at which point we retreated to the road for the remainder of the run. The overall pace of the run was easy peezy lemon squeezy but the gymnastics involved in getting over, around and through the busted branches that tattered the trail were in fact quite a challenge. I'm almost tempted to log it as cross training.

Slow pace aside, this was my longest run in 11 weeks and so far, so good. No pain in my butt and overall everything is holding up incredibly well. I'm a very happy runner right now. To ensure that I stay that way, I've made an appointment at Central Mass Physical Therapy with a guy named Mike Roberts, who will look me over soup to nuts and hopefully help figure out why I keep cracking and how I can prevent it from happening again. Mike comes highly recommended by close friends and loyal customers and I am excited for my long overdue appointment at the ass crack of dawn on Christmas Eve morning.

I'm also excited for the third annual PR Running holiday extravaganza, which is now less than three hours away. And by extravaganza I mean a nice dinner with my co-workers somewhere other than crowded around a small folding table in the back room of the store. Time to clean up and look classy. Translation: take a shower and don't wear sneakers.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Ice Man Cometh...

FRIDAY
8:20 AM - BSC - Bike, 45:00.
7 x 3:00 out of the saddle @ 85-90% effort w/2:00 seated recovery.

3:20 PM - Westboro - 5 miles, 36:00.

SATURDAY
7:50 AM - BSC - Bike, 1:00:00.
65-70% effort throughout. Drills in the gym afterward.


...and the Ice Man taketh away the internet at the 4-0 last night, making this update a day late. Please accept my apologies, but I doubt anyone was staying up past midnight waiting to read about spinervals or an easy run around Westboro. I hope no one was, anyway. If so, you really need to find a new hobby.

Oh well, nothing I can do about dime-sized raindrops and 60 mph wind gusts. Power lines, some houses and most every other inanimate object within striking distance of a tree didn't stand a chance. I actually saw some guy standing next to a big-ass ark on the side of the road trying to hitch a ride, for what it's worth.

Backing up a bit, yesterday was a good day for ducks, and that's about it. Everyone else was pretty much shit out of luck. Definitely not a good day for runners - not before noon time, anyway - which is exactly why I waited until 3:20 to put my shoes on and antagonize the asphalt for a little over half an hour. It didn't help that I was cramped for time before work, either, but it did help that we had a third body around at the store, allowing me to sneak out for a 36-minute tour of the town. Ah, the luxuries of working at a running store.

Today was about as interesting as 60 minutes on a stationary bike can be. Nope, that's not saying much, but it is saying more than USA Track & Field has about the results of this afternoon's National Club Cross Country Championships which ended some, oh, eight hours ago. Word on the street is the ladies of New Balance Boston snagged second in the team race, the lady Unicorns of the BAA grabbed third and NBB's own Rebecca Donaghue won the whole enchilada to cap off a solid New England showing. As of 10:31 EST, however, that's nothing more than an educated guess because there's still no trace of anything remotely resembling official results floating around anywhere in cyberspace. Way to go, USATF.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Better late than never

10:55 AM - Westboro - 6 miles, 43:00.
Drills and strides in the parking lot afterward.
12:00 PM - BSC - Weights, 30:00.

Had the luxury of a late start at work today so I was able to get in a solid session this morning without rushing around. Of course, I still managed to waste more time than I should have leaving the house and skipped out on the 30-minute spin I was planning on post-run, but I can live with that for now.

I'm trying to make a real effort to keep consistent with doing drills on a regular basis from here on out. I haven't been doing anything too technical or fancy, just three sets of high knee skips, kickouts, backward running, quick feet, butt kicks and side-to-side shuffling, followed up by a few 15-20 second strides. The whole routine takes about 10 minutes and I hope to do it three times per week. That's 30 minutes per week and two hours per month more than I was doing. Heck, that's a whole day's worth of drills over the course of a year. I'm hoping it helps with form, efficiency and all that good stuff.

Weights are another new addition to my weekly routine. I had been hitting them three times a week for the past 8 weeks but now that I'm back to running regularly I'm scaling that back to twice. No, I'm not worried about turning into Mr. Universe, but two sessions a week - Mondays and Thursdays - fit nicely into my schedule. The whole circuit takes 30 minutes, so there goes another two days of my year right there. If it helps keep me injury-free, however, it's well worth the laughable looks I get from the meatheads in weight room when I'm squatting the bar, benching a big 65 pounds or curling a dumbell that pales in comparison to the size of some of these guys' morning turds.

Sorry for that vile visual. Disgustingness aside, I feel good about the direction things are heading. Let's leave it at that.

Lastly, I wanted to plug an outstanding article in the latest issue of Running Times, but it's already after 11 PM and I promised myself I'd get to bed at a decent hour tonight so I'll be brief and boring. Scott Douglas penned a piece on six lessons he's learned in 15 years of close contact with elite runners. He couldn't have hit the nail on the head any more squarely, and that's all you're getting out of me. Now go to your nearest newsstand and spend the $4.99. It's well worth the scratch.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A new spin

8:25 AM: BIKE, 1:00:00.

Easy hour on the spin bike this morning before work as I had no designs on running today. I woke up feeling spry after a solid night of sleep and felt pretty good on the bike as a result. I've been dragging a bit the past two weeks or so, mainly due to poor sleeping habits and negligence toward nutrition, hydration and taking my vitamins. I need to recommit myself to doing the little things necessary that will make the big things possible.

As mentioned in my previous post, today marked four weeks since I started running again. Now that I've got a month of pain-free running under my belt, it's time to start turning an eye toward training again and not just covering ground. Of course, there's no need to rush anything, either, so it will be a gradual reintroduction to running fast when necessary. I still need to sit down with Kevin sooner than later and map out a plan of attack for the next few weeks, months, years and figure out the best route to the starting line of the 2012 Olympic Trials Marathon, all while keeping the road blocks to a minimum. I've run into more than my share of them since 2004 and quite frankly I'd like to avoid them from here on out, otherwise it might be time to keep this car permanently in park.

But enough about me. Before I forget, I'd like to wish the best of luck to the ladies of New Balance Boston, their bodyguard Justin Lutz, and the rest of my Boston-based buddies heading out to the Evergreen State for Club Nationals this weekend. I'd express my jealousy, but c'mon folks, this is Spokane, Washington in December we're talking about here. Not that last year in West Chester, Ohio was anything to write home about, either, but I digress. Who the hell picks these places anyway?

Overdue excitement

So I've got some super exciting news and as of this posting it's exactly four weeks overdue. I'm slacking, I know. Big shock there.

No, I didn't win the lottery, I'm not getting hitched and there isn't a running shoe being named after me anytime soon. No, no such drama or imagined excitement making its way into Mario's mundane world. I am running again, however, and I couldn't be any happier about it. After seven weeks devoid of meaningful forward motion I'm back in the game and feeling good.

I started on November 12 with 10 minutes of slow slogging every other day and have progressed to the point where I'm running -- jogging, really -- 30 to 45 minutes comfortably and pain-free four to five times per week. It's been a nice change from the stuffy solidarity of the spin bike at the gym. I will, however, keep spinning the wheels a few times a week as I think it will aid my recovery efforts and keep my injuries to a minimum. That's the hope, anyway.

I'm also hoping to get this blog off the ground again for the 54,321st time, so I will start posting my daily training again soon, maybe tonight if I can get my ass in gear. That's right, training, not just the day's running or biking totals. The goal is to get back on the track in 2009. It's been a long time coming and my track PR's have been around way too long for my own liking.

And let's not even get into the irregularity of my updates around here of late. I'll just chalk 2008 up to being a down year. Anyway, here's to fast times and frequent posting as we head into 2009. Godspeed.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Pat on the back

Pat Tibbetts, this entry is for you.

It continues to amaze me the people who stop by and read this thing, nevermind the fact that people still actually stop by and read this thing at all, so in the spirit of giving, well, here you go.

So who is Pat Tibbetts? All you need to know is he's a customer of mine, he runs in the Asics Kayano and he stopped by the store yesterday and asked me how my healing was coming along. His inquiry threw me for a bit of a loop since I only see Pat every 400 miles or so, but it was a nice gesture on his part and served as a reminder that anything you need to know about me - as far as running goes at least - is public knowledge.

Which is fine. That's why I have this blog. And I plan on keeping it going, even if I don't update as regulary as I would like, in hopes that I can keep people informed and more importantly, entertained. Hey, I aim to please.

For now, however, I've got to please the running masses around Westboro and go open the store for what is sure to be a Sunday slamming for the Rich Guy & I. More later.

Maybe.

Monday, November 24, 2008

People are strange

The gym is strange place, chock full of weird people, and yours truly is apparently no exception. I get a lot of funny looks, anyway.

In the last 8 weeks I've become a bit of a gym rat because, basically, I've had nothing better to do. Seriously. The alternative - sitting on my ass - would be neither advisable nor entertaining. Sitting on the spin bike at the gym, however, now that's advisable, not to mention wildly entertaining.

Take this comical encounter from a couple weeks back, for example. I jump on my usual bike, plug in my headphones and get down to business. After a few minutes of pedaling I started sweating. Can you believe it? Beads of sweat actually forming on my brow and dripping toward the floor. You'd think it was raining in Death Valley the way one worried woman reacted to my workout.

"Are you OK?" was the inquiry aimed my way after I flipped off my headphones in anticipation of exchanging pleasantries with someone I assumed was just another customer trying to get my attention.

"Yeah...I'm fine," I responded before taking a seat and a much-needed breath. "Why?"

"You look like you're in pain," she informed me.

"I am," I said, before flipping my headphones back on and resuming my workout. God forbid you break a sweat and refuse to read US Weekly on the recumbant bike.

Fast forward to today. Same spin bike, a little less intensity on my part, which means more time for me to take in the scenery rather than focus on my own half-assed effort for the day. I look toward the treadmills and what do I see but a guy running. No surprise there, that's what people do on treadmills. Except this guy was running with 2-1/2 pound weights in his hands! He must have been a long-lost alumni of Stonehill cross country, because the only guy I've ever known to condone - even encourage, in fact - this sort of behavior was old Chieftain coach Dana Boardman. I should have asked the guy on the treadmill if he ever practiced visualizing running like a cantelope through an open field at any point of his adult life. (Ed. Note: Unless you ran cross country at Stonehill under ODB and crashed the team van on your first day of practice, partook in Run Like a Kenyan day, tackled Vinny's hill or experienced running on 6 inches of woodchips, you have no idea what I'm talking about.)

And there's more, like the guy wearing work boots on the stair climber, the woman singing to herself on the spin bike and the lady on the elliptical with the permanently-planted smile on her face. And let's not forget the Toby Keith wannabe in the weightroom who insists on wearing a cowboy hat to do his lat pulldowns. One of these days I'll bring a camera. Promise.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Burying the 'stache

The fella with the messed-up mustache pictured in the post below this one requested -- wait, begged and pleaded -- earlier tonight that I remove him from his perch at the top of my page. For the record, by hitting the PUBLISH POST button on this entry I'm not trying to appease him, not in the least. I'm saving the rest of you from having to stare at his frightening face every time you check in to the daily runaround.

Now that I've done my good deed for the day, let's talk training for a bit. Cross training, to be specific, since it's taken up a good chunk of my time the last seven weeks and looks to be a permanent part of my overall training program moving forward.

First things first. I haven't been killing it in the pool since the boo boo on my backside manifested itself on October 1. I've done one 2-hour pool run and treaded water for a solid 90 minutes this morning, but any other deep-water escapades have been in the range of one hour and have been few and far between. That said, I have been making more frequent use of the shallow end of the pool for 10 minutes worth of drills - high knees, quick feet, butt kicks, backward running - a couple times a week.

My preferred mode of non-impact aerobic activity is the spin bike. Honestly, I'm really starting to like that fucking thing. I've been getting in the saddle 5-6 times a week for 45-75 minutes at a whack, even attending organized classes Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings to get a few organized harder efforts in. I like that I can stand up on the pedals and mimic running to some degree, put my heartrate through the roof and leave a sick puddle of sweat on the floor when all is said and done. My hope is that when I'm back to running regularly again on land I can make use of the Spinner 2-4 days a week in place of recovery runs and/or secondary workouts if necessary.

And, hold the phones, I've been lifting M-W-F for the last two weeks. All I'll say about that is the whole routine takes me about 30 minutes and I'm gonna be jacked before you know it. Justin Lutz better watch out.

Is any of this advancing my fitness? Time will tell, but my early guess is probably not and I'm OK with that. Seriously. I'm not putting in Ian Nurse-like hours in the pool or on the bike, but I am doing more than enough to stay less fat during my layoff and smooth the transition when I am able to return to running, which believe it or not is right around the corner. To say I'm about as excited as a pig in shit would be a gross understatement.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Public Blogging Announcement

As promised to him in person earlier today, I'm calling out Mark Driscoll to man up and join the blogosphere. For the record, this Public Blogging Announcement has the full support of his girlfriend, Katie Gwyther. She does not, however, in any way, shape or form support the mustache pictured below.


To speed this process along, however, I -- we -- need your help. Why? Because peer pressure's a bitch people. All parties involved in the Betterment of the Blogosphere, namely myself and KG, believe Marky Mark and his quick wit would make a great addition to your daily blogroll.

So how can you help? It's easy, my friends. Simply leave a comment or two here or flood MD's inbox at mpdriscoll-at-gmail-dot-com. Thanks!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Sneak peak

It definitely doesn't classify as training - hell, it barely resembled jogging - but I put one leg in front of the other today at a faster-than-walking pace about half a dozen times for 15-30 seconds at a stretch, and that, my friends, has me more amped up than this guy at a Radiohead show.

OK, that's more than a slight exaggeration, but I was pretty fucking excited to do something that looked like running, smelled like running and tasted like running and not have it feel like someone was shredding my left ass cheek with a machete every time my foot struck the ground.

So I know what you're all asking yourselves, because, yep, I'm just that good. Running, jogging or Gallowalking - whatever you want to call it - was I supposed to be doing it? Let me put it this way.

I liken today's foray into faster forward motion to sneaking into my parents' closet a few weeks before Christmas and getting an early look at the unopened presents I wasn't supposed to be looking at until they were put under the tree on Christmas Day. I didn't open anything today, but got just enough of a glimpse to know that if I keep being patient I'll be a happy camper when I finally get to pull the wrapping paper off in a couple weeks.

In the meantime, I'll continue to ride the bike, tread the water, pump the iron and get funny looks while I do my drills in the shallow end of the pool. Maybe I'll even start writing more, or more regularly, anyway. Actually, a former co-worker e-mailed me earlier today asking if I'd like to cover a high school football game on Thanksgiving morning. Not that it required all that much contemplation given my current condition, but leave it to Jim Wilson to let me know that I really didn't have a good excuse not to cover a game this year.
Perfect. We were bouncing around ideas today and I figured you might be in the mix, since I didn't see any "Fucked Up Pelvis Turkey Trot 5K" on the running calendar.
I can't argue with the man. While I was hoping to try and hold off this guy and his hard-charging younger brother at finish line of the Tri-Gobble for the second year in a row, I guess I'll just have to wait until next November to rob the flying McArdles of another $50. Then again, I'll be making $75 for this little gig, and the work is far less strenuous. Being injured sure does suck, but at least it's good for my wallet and less damaging to my ego.

Friday, November 07, 2008

New sheriffs in town

I don't update this thing nearly as often as I would like - and I make sure to reiterate that fact about every fifth entry or so - for no good reason, honestly. That's about it. I keep this shit up and I might have to start calling this thing the weekly runaround pretty soon.

In all seriousness, this space has two things preventing it from living up to its name. Three, if you also count general lethargy on the part of the author. You see, there's only so much shit I actually want to share with all of you out there in the blogosphere. Yes, that sounds stealthy, but that's by design. Number two, outside of running and the occasional instance of tomfoolery with friends, my life is pretty damn boring.

Hey, I'm having trouble believing it too, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Anyway, seeing how I haven't run in almost six weeks now, what little content I did provide on a somewhat irregularly regular basis is now completely non-existent. Let's face it: no one wants to read about hour-long escapades on the spin bike and swimming in the shallow end with scantily-clad 70-year-olds. If I'm wrong about this please tell me and I'll try to make a better effort to share these stories with the viewing public.

Luckily there's been a couple new sheriffs in town to restore order in my absence. Their running cred far exceeds mine, not to mention their tremendous display of wit is worth a rousing round of applause in and of itself. So without further a due, I give to you the blog of a fitter, happier and more productive Keith Kelly, as well as the return of Tom McArdle to cyberspace. And for those of you unfamiliar with the original internet home of the Dartmouth Dandy, here's a small sampling of what I would waste a solid 10-12 hours a week dissecting my junior and senior years of college. If nothing else, the new version is an incredible grammatical upgrade from the original.

Enjoy.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Write away

Man, there's not much to write about when I'm not running, not that I actually write all that much when I am running, but what the heck, it's Friday, I ain't got no job and I ain't got shit to do.

Alright, so maybe it's really Sunday, as far as I know I still have a job and I'm pretty sure I've referenced the above movie quote somewhere else amongst these pages, but this ain't no time for fact checking, it's time for writing, so let's get to work. For a little while, anyway.

Today was the umpteenth running of the Mayor's Cup cross country races and as usual they didn't disappoint. The ladies of NB Boston tore up the team race, the men more than held their own and many of my other fast friends had killer days out on the course, and it was all very exciting to watch. I had a great time catching up with my 'mates and the many others who frequented Franklin Park on this incredible October day. I enjoyed taking it in and talking it up with everyone, and despite the disappointment of not racing I left the park encouraged, excited and eager to get back out there. This is a complete 180 from a couple weeks ago when I was discouraged, borderline depressed and ready to join a rec basketball league soon as my broken butt started to feel better. Luckily, I've adjusted my attitude -- not to mention my killer crossover still needs some work -- so it's probably best I put my hoop dreams off for at least a few more years, anyway. Plus, I'll be back schooling this guy in his driveway prior to Sunday long runs again before he realizes I've just nailed three straight fadeaway jumpers in his eye as my warmup to an 18-miler.

Injuries, frustrations and diminishing ball-handling skills aside, I feel extremely lucky to be in a good place surrounded by great people. Today served as another reminder of just how good this place is and how great those people are, so thank you guys.

Lastly, and speaking of great people, Rich and Jess had a baby girl yesterday, making me an 'uncle' for the third time in the last two years. I leave you with a couple photos of my newest 'niece', born Saturday afternoon at 2:09 and checking in at 20 inches and 7lbs, 3 ozs. She's a cutie.




Thursday, October 23, 2008

After midnight musings

Now that I've got all this free time on my hands I've got no excuse not to be updating this space on a more regular basis. Keeping with the spirit of this blog, however, I'll continue to make those excuses anyway because, hey, consistency is the key to success in life -- no matter what form it takes.

That said, I've got no real desire to ramble on about anything because it's almost 1 AM and I really should get my inactive ass to bed. Of course, I've got no real reason to get up in the morning either, so let's see what I can come up with in the next few minutes.

There's been a big to-do in the news about the gal who "won" the Nike Women's Marathon last weekend in San Francisco, as Arien O'Connell ran the fastest time of the day but wasn't awarded the first-place prize because she didn't start in the "elite" corral. Pardon my elitist insincerity, but this entire situation has hilarity written all over it.
1. O'Connell had a PR of 3:07 going into the race, and as such she didn't feel she deserved a spot in the elite field. Good on her. 3:07 is far from an elite woman's marathon time.

2. The "elite" race was won in 3:06, which sorry folks, isn't much more elite than 3:07. O'Connell finished amongst the rest of the non-elites in 2:55, surprising herself and throwing everyone from race officials to newspaper columnists into a ticked-off tizzy.

3. "At this point we've declared our winner," Nike media relations manager Tanya Lopez said Monday after the race. O'Connell went home prize-less and is pictured with a pissed-off scowl on her face, presumably the result of being slighted by the Swoosh.

4. Note the snazzy Nike sweater O'Connell is sporting in the photo that ran with the article.

5. Two days after the race, Nike changes their tune, sends O'Connell an award and "decided to eliminate the 'elite' category in the annual San Francisco event and would let everyone start at the same time."
Race organizers could have just saved face, gave the girl a lifetime's supply of Rice-A-Roni and forgot any of this mess even occurred, but in the end, they decided to sing Kumbaya, eliminate the "elite" start and let everything else come full circle, which is worth chuckling at. The comments on the article take the cake though. I'll share a couple of my favorites before I head off to bed.

krwalsh - 10/20/2008 10:20:37 PM
Arien, get on the phone with New Balance, or Reebok, or anyone BUT Nike and get yourself a sponsorship deal, now. Any shoe company would buy the publicity that Nike is apparently willing to piss away. You win. Nike loses.

Sorry krwalsh, but not Nike, New Balance, Reebok or even Keds are gonna sponsor the girl.

albanyan98 - 10/20/2008 10:21:48 PM
At 8th grade graduation my name was left off the announced list of the top students in the class when I had the best GPA in the school. I've never forgotten it. Maybe if it had happened when I was older I would have handled it better. After that I just quit trying, dropped out of school, wrecked my car, picked fights in bars, got into drugs and finally overdosed on cough syrup at 9th and mission and now I'm in purgatory awaiting the final day of reckoning. See you in hell you stupid race organizers.

Best. Comment. Ever.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Can't catch a break

Actually, I caught one for the second time in as many years, as the results of the MRI revealed to me today. As suspected, there's a stress fracture in my sacrum -- only one of them, not two as I was lead to believe at the beginning of the weekend. A silver lining, not so much, but one crack is better than two as one Katie Gwyther so eloquently put it to me earlier this evening.

The prognosis? 8-10 weeks no running, maybe more, depending on how quickly the damn thing heals. Obviously, the quicker, the better, but at this point there's no reason to rush. Time -- along with rest, PT, cross training, a few new supplements and the right attitude -- heals all wounds. That's my belief, anyway, and I'm sticking to it.

Look, I don't want one more person to tell me they're sorry or feel bad that I can't run for 8 weeks, 10 weeks, or however long it's gonna be. Yeah, it sucks -- no doubt about it -- but in the end it's only running. Yes, it's a huge part of who I am and what I do but it's not all that I am and all that I do, although it may seem like it sometimes. Trust me, I'll be just fine. I've dealt with a lot worse this year. This is nothing.

The gal pictured below and to the left, however, now she is something, that something being the champion of yesterday's Bay State Marathon. Christy Mae blazed the blacktop with a 2:51:38 clocking, some six minutes -- yes, 6 minutes! -- ahead of the second-place woman. And an almost 7-minute PR to boot!

On the whole, it was a solid day for the boys and gal of NB Boston. Ryan, my trusty training partner, took second overall behind the always tough Matty Pelletier, who still had 16 miles of shit in his legs from Chicago the week before. Not to take away from Matty P's near-record and incredibly impressive performance, but my boy in blue put forth one hell of a solo effort himself into the wind, finishing up in 2:27:13. It was killing me not to be out there with him.

On the undercard, Mike Maceiko - or MacEiko, according to the finest newspaper in the Merrimack Valley, the Lowell Sun - won the half marathon by a convincing 5-minute margain in 1:09:24. Must've been all those Wednesday night hill repeats on Eli Whitney Street in Westboro with myself and the Movie Star.

OK, maybe not but let's just go with that theory. There's no way to disprove it, so we might as well just give ourselves all the credit.

Kidding aside, I was proud of my 'mates and and happy to support them, as well as all my other friends, out along various points of the course yesterday. Each and every one of you provided the injection of inspiration me and my injured ass so desperately need right now. Thank you.

Friday, October 17, 2008

No news day

For those who are curious, I've got no news on the MRI front, except for a rescheduled appointment to 7:45 tomorrow morning because HMO's apparently exist on making things difficult for those who carry their type of insurance.

I won't even get into the load of BS I've been through the past couple days, but luckily I've got some great people working on my behalf and after jumping over this fence and running into that wall this thing is finally gonna get done, and more importantly, be covered.

And that's about it. Bay State is two days away and I'll be heading up there to give a good yell for this guy, this gal, this animal, this gal, as well as this guy and a whole host of others I wish I was joining for a 26.2-mile stroll around scenic Lowell.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

No news isn't good news

Sorry I haven't updated this space in about a week but the fact of the matter is there isn't much to update. My left lower back/butt/hip are still jacked up despite hours of icing, e-stim, numerous adjustments, ART appointments and massages. On a scale of 1-10, walking yields a constant reading of 2-3 on the discomfort meter; any attempt at running, which hasn't exceeded 20 yards in the last week, and that number immediately escalates to 9-10. I had x-rays done on my back/pelvis last Wednesday, which, as expected, revealed nothing. I have an MRI in less than two days time and hopefully that sheds some light on this gloomy situation.

Given my lack of physical improvement since two Tuesdays ago, earlier today I decided to officially pull the plug on Bay State this Sunday. Let's face it, I can't run 26.2 yards right now, nevermind race 26.2 miles. My fitness is fine but trying to tough it out on a busted ass probably isn't best for what's left of my competitive career. I had a nice chat earlier today with Keith Kelly, my Reebok rep and race # hookup, who has suffered two stress fractures in his pelvis and one in his sacrum during a similarly injury-riddled post-collegiate running career. As sad as it sounds, it was comforting to share familiar frustrations with bad timing and bad breaks, both of the literal and figurative sort.

So what am I gonna do? Good question, and one I don't have an answer to right now. I know I need to get the MRI done and read, figure out what's wrong, why it happened and how to fix it. Other than that, I honestly don't have a clue.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Bummed out

About two months back I proclaimed that by the time October rolled around, "I'll either be in 2:24 shape or very very injured." Well, call me Moses because as of October 1 both of those prophecies came true, apparently at the same time.

As I was finishing a workout with my 'mates around the BC Res last Tuesday night I felt two things: elation at the ease with which I was able to execute the intervals, along with a sharp pain in my lower back - just above my left butt cheek - toward the end of the workout. The former feeling was quickly overtaken by the latter as I was forced to cut my cooldown short because of the sharp, stabbing sensation surfacing with every stride.

Bottom line is I haven't run in over a week, minus 2 measly miles on the grass at Balboa Park in San Diego this past Saturday. In the meantime I've been mixing water workouts with 60-minute sessions on the spin bike in an effort to maintain some semblance of the hard-earned fitness I've busted my butt for over the past 12 weeks. And yes, the pun there was indeed intended.

I'd best describe my mindset right now as optimistically pessimistic - optimistic because if we can get this thing figured out sooner than later I'm confident I can still run in the 2:24-range 10 days from now at Bay State; pessimistic because my current symptoms eerily resemble those of the stress fracture of two years ago and aren't improving efficiently enough to leave me feeling even the least bit encouraged.

At this point I'm just doing what I can do, controlling the things I can control and que sera sera.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

I got something

OK, still no Reach the Beach race report, haven't posted a training log in a couple weeks and have just been pretty terrible about keeping this place current in general, but here goes something on a soggy Sunday in September.

Reach the Beach, in a nutshell, was the funnest 24 hours of running-related fun I've ever been a part of. As Captain Carrara put it, "there's nothing funner." Of course, it's always nice to win, too. Luckily, we had all our bases covered going into battle and everything came together for us at the right time.

Of course, preparation is key. We couldn't have done what we did without the help of 2 Chevy Tahoes, 20+ pairs of running shoes, 10 blinking lights, 6 reflective vests, 2 headlamps, a dozen bananas, 10 gallons of water, 2 lbs. of Swedish fish, 2 loaves of bread, 1 large bucket of GORP, a jar of peanut butter and a partridge in a pear tree. And most importantly, don't forget a dozen of funnest, funkiest-smelling, sleep-deprived runners to ever blaze the blacktop between Cannon Mountain and Hampton Beach.

Sadly, RTB '08 is over, but I am already looking forward getting down during the pre-race warmup (see photo below) and defending our crown next year with the same crazy contingent of Kitty Killers.

Anyway, on to the other topic of interest I've failed to touch on in the past few weeks, that being training. The numbers don't lie, and in the grand scheme of things they probably don't matter much, either, but the fact of the matter is I've been packing away the miles in the last month getting ready for this marathon that is now exactly three weeks away.

My last four weeks since the hammy went haywire in New Haven have totaled 71, 104, 80 (6 days), and 93 miles for the 7-day stretch ending yesterday. I've nailed a smattering of solid workouts in the last month, many of them with this guy, including a hearty hill session on Heartbreak, 25 magical miles on the roads of New Hampshire, a solid Squires long run on the trails, a few fantastic fartleks and most recently, a terrific 10-mile in-n-out tempo run on the track - yep, all 40 laps of it - in 53:34, alternating odd miles at 5:27-5:31 with the even ones at 5:11-5:16. Man, did I go adjective happy there. I'll stop now.

Kidding aside, I can say with confidence that my fitness is as good as it's ever been for a 26.2 miler. I've nailed my workouts with hammer-like precision, I'm recovering quicker than I have in recent memory and other than the niggle at New Haven, I've kept the health hiccups to a minimum. My resting heartrate is 5 beats south of 45 and I feel like a lean, mean, running machine. I don't weigh myself or keep tabs on my body fat, but when my grocery bill jumps 15-20 bucks a week, I'm pooping at least three times a day and I'm forced to pull my belt buckle back to the 4th hole so my pants don't fall off my ass, I don't need a scale to tell me I'm rounding into form. Take my word for it from past experience, there's no need to stress over a few pounds. When you're fit, they'll disappear just as quickly as that fourth belt loop does when you're not.

And that just about covers it for my own running-related ramblings of the past few weeks. Maybe - and you know how that goes around here - later this week I'll babble on about this morning's manifestation of brilliance in Berlin. That said, I'm off to San Diego on Thursday to visit this guy and his galloping-girlfriend-turned-fiance for a few days of much-looked forward to R, R & R - running, rest and relaxation - so that babble will likely be put on the backburner.

Hey, the thought's there, along with a 6-hour flight. We'll see what I can do.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Excuse me

Boy, do I suck at updating this thing. In my last post exactly one week ago I laid out these grandiose plans of updating this space more frequently - providing insights, pictures and all kinds of other new and exciting stuff on a regular basis.

In case you haven't noticed, I've failed miserably.

For the record, it hasn't been due to a lack of desire or editing interruptions. More an absence of free time and other unforeseen interruptions than anything else. A full-time job, 90-100 miles a week of running, recovering from those two time-consuming endeavors all the while trying to hold on to some semblance of a social life leaves less than enough time to plop my exhausted ass in front of the computer to release whatever shred of invaluable insight is left up there after a long day.

So if nothing else I'm full of excuses, for the time being, anyway. If I can't even come up with so much as a weekly training log, I'll try to offer at least a weekly excuse until I've got the time to saturate this space with something of substance. For now, however, bed comes before blogging, effective through October 19. Goodnight.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Testing, 1, 2

No, this isn't the Reach the Beach recap, but with any luck I'll have that sucker up by the end of the week. The idea behind this entry is to stretch out my stream of consciousness, something I have a bit of trouble doing when I sit down to fill this space. You see, here in lies the problem. I was an editor before I was a writer. Yes, it's about as backward as it sounds, but it's the truth. Too bad if you can't handle it.

So what's the problem with this reverse way of doing things? Simple. Editing inhibits writing, in my case anyway. In most cases editing in fact enhances writing, but when the editing prevents the writing from reaching it's full potential, you have a shitty piece of writing, even if it's grammatically correct and punctually sound. Too often when I sit down to spew my thoughts onto the screen I'm stopped dead in my thoughts to reverse, re-word or otherwise rework exactly what it is I'm trying to ramble about, and that my friends pisses me off. Why so? The Daily Runaround doesn't live up to his name - bottom line - and I oftentimes give up on an entry before it ever gets onto the screen. Such is the struggle of a perfectionist with an eye for errors.

Time to change that, or try to anyway. Less evaluating, more writing and hopefully more entries to keep everyone entertained. I'll sacrifice a few missed periods, misspellings or other minor miscues if it means I can wade through the muddle in my mind more efficiently and hit the Publish button on a regular basis.

And so far, so good. I'm pulling the plug on this entry at 20 minutes, and that includes a pee break, quick phone call and no major errors that I could pick up on with a quick once over. Next goal: RTB recap by the end of the week. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Training Log: September 7-13

Sunday - AM: 17.5 miles, 2:00:00 with TJ $mith in Bridgewater. PM: 5.5 miles, 36:00 at Lake Park after work. Did two pickups of 6:20, 6:10 at PMP, finished with a mile on the track in 5:22.

Monday - AM: 10 miles, 1:14:00. 6 x 20/40 strides.

Tuesday - AM: 6 miles, 43:15. PM: 8.5 miles, 51:00. First mile in 6:51, then steady as she goes the rest of the way with an emphasis on working the hills. Last mile in 5:35. Solid effort in the dark.

Wednesday - PM: 6 miles, 44:00. PM: 6 miles, 42:00.

Thursday - AM: 8.5 miles, 1:06:00. Really dragging ass on this one.

Friday - 7:30 AM: 4 miles, 32:00 from the hotel with Ryan, Christy Mae and Yvonne. 4:50 PM: 12 miles. Leg # 2 of RTB, 8.9 miles in 50:35 (5:41 pace). 11:50 PM: 9.5 miles. Leg # 14 of RTB, 7.7 miles in 44:20 (5:45 pace).

Saturday - 7:20 AM: 10.5 miles. Leg # 25 of RTB, 9.3 miles in 55:15 (5:56 pace).

Totals: 104 miles, 12 runs. Solid week, first one at 100+ miles in over two years. Very happy to hit 37 of those miles at marathon-ish effort, and even more pleased that everything seems to still be in one piece as of this posting. I've been feeling really strong of late and my overall fitness is finally starting to come around.

As for Reach the Beach, it was the funnest running-related event that I've ever been a part of, not to mention a great marathon workout, and I'm thrilled to have been a part of the first co-ed team to pull out the overall victory. I'll post a separate entry on all that craziness when I get a chance.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Lots o' new stuff...

...coming soon!

Or maybe not so soon, but I swear it's coming sometime. Sit tight!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Training Log: August 31-September 6

Sunday - AM: 6 miles, 42:00. 6 x 20/40 strides on the way home.

Monday - AM: 10.5 miles. New Haven 20K (DNF). 41:27 for 7.5 miles. Hammy went haywire at 5.5, hobbled through the next 2 miles before calling it a day.

Tuesday - PM: 6 miles, 48:00
with Casey after work. Hammy a bit sore but otherwise no issues.

Wednesday - AM: 4 miles, 30:00.
Hammy good - everything else, too, for that matter. PM: 8.5 miles, 1:00:00 with Old Man Willy at the Rail Trail.

Thursday - AM: 10 miles, 1:13:30
with Scott Graham around A-town.

Friday - AM: 4 miles, 30:00. 6 x 20/40 strides. PM: 12 miles, 1:15:00.
1-2-3-4-5-5-4-3-2-1 fartlek with equal recovery. 5-5:15 pace for the fast stuff, 6-6:30 on the recovery intervals.

Saturday - AM: 10 miles, 1:14:00.

Totals: 71 miles, 9 runs. Shitty start to the week, but salvaged it somewhat with a good workout on Friday. New Haven was a big disappointment but very happy that the hammy was back to normal by Wednesday morning. Didn't lose anything, but I've only got 6 more weeks to get where I need to be. Need to get my ass in gear. Now.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Not enough

Like Dave Matthews, I sometimes eat too much, but unlike the musical hero of the Abercrombie & Fitch generation, I apparently don't drink enough. That seems to be the consensus among the hydrationally-educated ones around me after an evaluation of my water/juice/milk/occasional beer method of fluid replacement. Mix in a less-than-adequate sodium intake, chronically tight leg muscles and an alignment even Midas would have trouble getting straight and apparently you've got a recipe for disaster.

Well, disaster struck on Monday, so the past few days have been focused on getting the relief effort off the ground. It started with introducing some massage, moved on to making some changes in my hydration practices and will continue tomorrow with some structural work on my fragile frame.

I've been running easy the past few days and so far, so good, but with a little less than 7 weeks to go until Bay State I really want to make sure I cover all my bases in order to avoid any future cramps, catastrophes or crapping out in general.

Is that too much to ask?

Monday, September 01, 2008

Laborious day

You can save yourself the aggravation and stop scanning the results, because you're not gonna find my name anywhere amongst the 2,090 finishers of this morning's New Haven Road Race.

No, this assclown didn't run off with my race number, and no, my chip didn't fall off somewhere before the finish line mat. My left hamstring went haywire somewhere around the 5-1/2 mile mark and despite two quick stops to stretch the sucker out and salvage some kind of result, I called it quits at 7-1/2 miles.

Shitty thing is that I was rolling right along until that shit hit the fan. Splits before I stepped off...

5:32.10
5:21.67
5:22.02
5:13.79
5:22.80
5:30.24
5:45.13
3:20.13

It sucks, but it is what it is, and hopefully it isn't anything serious.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Race Report: Chamberas 6K

"Always what I thought cross country should be all about. A group of runners meeting in some field some place and racing through ungroomed woods and fields."
- Ryan Carrara, two-time winner of the Thomas Chamberas 6K cross country race
I couldn't have summed the race up any better myself, not to mention this guy's won the damn thing two years in a row now, so who am I to argue with him.

Plus, he doubles as my training partner, so I wouldn't want to piss him off in the event he's feeling good on a Tuesday night hill session or a weekend workout. We've got enough of them left before Bay State and I don't wanna take a chance on getting an unexpected drilling, thank you very much.

Anyway, I will take a quick shot at wrapping up this past weekend's race in my own words. I'm a little strapped for time, so a few key adjectives will have to suffice for now.

Fast. Competitive. Technical. Raw.

And at the risk of reinforcing my reputation as an unoriginal bastard of the blogs, I'll now steal a full line from Jim Johnson and call it a night.
"You don't slow down to conserve or back off while thinking about pace....you just hammer."
Like I said, raw. Racing in it's purest form. No mile markers, no splits, no mercy. Real cross country, baby.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Mahone Tone

This rendition of the Star Spangled Banner was even better live on Sunday morning. Just trust me on that, but click the link anyway for your own listening pleasure.

P.S. I swear it won't contaminate your computer, just your ear drums.

P.P.S. Race report by the end of the week. Maybe.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Flushed

I was going to post a race report today - really, I was - but I ended up getting a lot of other lingering shit taken care of instead. And tonight I had dinner with my sister Jayme, who arrived home in the wee hours of the morning from her first stint as the lead lighting techie on Carnival Cruise Line's Conquest. Plus, just as I was starting to feel good about the 91 miles I ran last week, I came across Nate's most recent training log and any motivation to write about my own running went right down the shitter. With a little luck it will resurface later in the week - my motivation, that is.

In the meantime, here's a couple pics from the race (courtesy of Jim Rhoades and Jim Johnson, respectively) to tide ya'll over.



Sunday, August 24, 2008

Training Log: August 17-23

Sunday - AM: 17.5 miles, 2:01:30. Solo through Millbury and Grafton. Last 45 minutes a dehydrated death march.

Monday - AM: 6 miles, 42:25. 6 x 20/40 strides on the way home. PM: 6 miles, 44:00.

Tuesday - AM: 4 miles, 30:00. PM: 11 miles. 12 x 1:00 hills on Heartbreak with the Justins and Jen. Alternated sets of 3 between grass and road.

Wednesday - AM: 6 miles, 44:25. PM: 6.5 miles, 48:00.

Thursday - AM: 10 miles, 1:12:00. Felt a bit rough around the edges.

Friday - PM: 12 miles, 1:23:30. First 5 miles easy with SKinney, then 7 x 2:00 on/1:00 off @ 10K effort.

Saturday - AM: 7 miles, 51:00. PM: 5 miles, 36:00. 6 x 100m strides afterward.

Totals: 91 miles, 11 runs. Finally got the long run up over 2 hours and the overall mileage into the 90's, so I accomplished my two major goals for the week. Tuesday's hill session was short-n-sweet and Friday's fartlek was just enough to keep the wheels spinning heading into this morning's Chamberas 6K cross country race, which I will write about in detail tomorrow. New Haven's next up on the racing docket, so next week's log will be pretty boring - as if this one was all that exciting to begin with.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Training Log: August 10-16

Sunday - AM: 15 miles, 1:46:25 with A-Ten at West Hill.
Monday- AM: 7.5 miles, 57:45 on the bike path with Hodgie-San.
Tuesday - AM: 11 miles. 5 x 1 mile w/1:30 recovery with Ryan at the Morgan Bowl in Hudson. 5:02, 5:04, 5:05, 5:05, 5:01. PM: 6 miles, 45:00 with Casey at West Hill.
Wednesday - PM: 9 miles, 1:07:30 with Casey in Westboro.
Thursday - AM: 13.5 miles, 1:31:00 including 6 x 20/40 strides.
Friday - OFF.
Saturday - AM: 13 miles. 7.5-mile solo PMP in 40:31 at Fresh Pond. 13:35, 13:31, 13:25 for the three loops which works out to an average of 5:24 or so per mile.
Totals: 75 miles, 7 runs. We're inside 10 weeks now till the Big Show otherwise known as Bay State and training is finally getting to where it needs to be. I missed a couple of easy runs because life got in the way, but I nailed all the important stuff so I'm gonna go ahead and call this a pretty good week. I'll try my damnedest to kick things up a bit this coming week and then I'll rest up for a week before New Haven on September 1.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Tuesdays with Ryan

I'd hate for Ryan to have a stressful weekend down the Cape, so to ease his nerves here are our splits from Tuesday morning's 5 by 1-mile workout at Hudson High's Morgan Bowl. Recovery was a scant 90 seconds between each repeat.

1. 5:02.99
2. 5:04.97
3. 5:05.53
4. 5:05.58
5. 5:01.10

This was a solid effort for the two of us, and we successfully avoided the the clown walking across Lane 1 on the final repeat, so no casualties. And the weather was about as cooperative as it's ever gonna be in August, so no complaints there. We've still got a long ways to go, but all in all, I'd say we're off to a good start. Just gotta keep the ball rolling...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Relax!

I'd love love LOVE to write in this space much more often, but let's face it, time, or lack thereof, just doesn't allow me to do so as regularly as I would like. I've got a few free minutes this morning as I roll my f'd up foot around on a golf ball, and thought I'd share a relevant little snippet from Marty Liquori's autobiography, On the Run, which I am slowly making my way through a few pages at a time.
"I was a compulsive worker, and maybe I still am. I've only recently learned how to relax, I've only recently realized I never knew how to relax. I still work at it, which may sound contradictory, but that's what I do. I'm still learning that I don't have to feel guilty when I just sit and listen to records. I'm still learning that I don't have to feel guilty when I go off and strum my guitar. I'm a workoholic, and it's a curse."
Boy, is it ever. This "Go! Go! Go!" way of thinking can become so consuming that while we're so caught up in trying to get everything done, we end up missing out on everything else. I'm getting better at trying to reverse this wacky way of thinking, but as my boy Marty alluded to, it's a tough pattern to break.

The lesson here? Relax, folks. I'm still learning how to do so myself, still working at it a little bit every day. Right now, however, I've gotta run, quite literally. Ciao!