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

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

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


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'


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


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, 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...

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.

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.