Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday Night Blogging League

8:20 AM - BSC - Bike, 40:00.
60-65% effort throughout.

2:55 PM - Westboro - 5 miles, 37:00.
4 x 20-second pickups.

It's Friday night, and let's face it, if you're reading my blog right now you most definitely need to find something better to do, like joining a bowling league or cruising the strip with your homies. While the daily runaround prides itself on providing instant entertainment, the beauty of the internet is that it's not going anywhere anytime soon, so you can always save your surfing for a slow Sunday night or a dreadful day at work when the TPS reports are sending you into a tailspin.

Plus, I'm neither excited, nor motivated, to write about an easy effort on the bike or a short, slow stroll around town, so there's not much worth reading regarding today's training, anyway. Your local news or old reruns of TGIF will be much more entertaining, trust me. I've got an early workout on tap for tomorrow morning with this guy and possibly this guy, so I'm gonna put the kibosh on this entry, get a good meal in me, put my legs up for a bit and hit the hay at an early enough hour so that I'm feeling fresh when I roll out of bed manana. Take it easy.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Crazy 8

11:15 AM - Westboro - 8 miles, 1:00:00.

I'm not sure exactly how far I ran this morning, but it was somewhere in the range of 8 miles, likely a little longer, possibly a bit shorter, but somewhere in that neighborhood. One of the biggest things I've been trying not to do since I resumed running again post-stress fracture is getting too caught up in hitting X number of miles in a given day, week or month. Instead, I'm trying to focus on nailing my key workouts and doing whatever it is I need to do in order to recover and stay injury-free in between those sessions. Bill Bowerman said the magic is in the man, not the 100 miles, and I've been telling myself that every time I lace up my shoes to train.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm a huge believer in volume, but given my injury history, it's apparent that the old body just can't handle mileage like it used to. It only took a partially torn right Achilles tendon, bad tendinitis in the left one, a bout of tarsal tunnel syndrome, a nasty case of posterior tibial tendinitis, two sacral stress fractures and various other aches and pains for me to finally reach that conclusion. So, in an effort to keep myself healthy, and since I'm doing a fair amount of my recovery work on the bike, I'm starting to log my total training volume in minutes first, then figuring out the miles afterward. Not exactly revolutionary, but it's a change from the norm and forces me to think less about covering X miles in Y minutes and more about covering Y minutes and letting X miles equal what they may. So far, so good.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Circus Act

8:30 AM - BSC - Bike, 30:00.
8 x 1:00 @ 80% effort w/1:00 recovery.

6:45 PM - RLTAC - 11 miles.
Track Workout: 2 x 800/mile/2 x 800 @ 2:24-25/4:55/2:24-25.
2:30 recovery after the 800's, 3:30 after the mile.
22:00 warmup, 32:00 cooldown.
2:23.63 (2:34.85 recovery), 2:23.68 (2:31.82), 4:53.11 (3:28), 2:24.79 (2:28.00), 2:23.59.

8:00 AM - BSC - Bike, 1:00:00.

2 x 2:30/1 x 5:00/2 x 2:30, all @ 90% effort.
2:30 recovery after 2:30, 3:30 after 5:00.

It wasn't quite as quiet at Reggie last night as it was last week, with bobbing and weaving in and out of Lanes 3 and 4 seemingly as necessary a maneuver as hitting the split button on your watch. I'll keep my bitching and moaning to a minimum, but that place is a circus after 7 PM on a weeknight. It wouldn't be so bad if etiquette wasn't an issue, but apparently people have trouble running single-file, in a straight line, in unison or sometimes even in the right direction. It blows my mind. This guy's, too, apparently. And don't even get this guy started.

As for the workout itself, it was my best one since I resumed running again 11 weeks ago. Scott Munro and I formed our own little dynamic duo behind the two-steppin' tandem of Ragin' Ryan and his Canadian counterpart. I wore flats for the first time in forever and my legs are no worse for the wear as I type this today. I felt easy at 4:50-55 pace, which was encouraging, and has me toying with the idea of fighting it out over 5,000 meters at end of February.

This morning I put a new spin on my standard 60-minute, post-workout recovery ride, simulating last night's effort without the tight turns of the track or the hassle of having to hate on clueless clowns taking up too much space in Lanes 1 & 2. I got this idea of adding in some extra aerobic work without the impact from Jason Jabaut (via Mark Driscoll), who would simulate his mid-week running workout with a similar session the following day in the pool. I don't know if, or how long, I'll continue to keep this practice as part of my regular routine, but it was at least worth a shot at this stage of the game. I figure that since I won't go hard again until Saturday, I've got two full days to get a workout and a half out of my legs. (Hopefully) it shouldn't be a problem.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Back in The Game

11:10 AM - BSC - Bike, 40:00.
First 20 minutes @ 60-65% effort, last 20 minutes @ 70-75%.

4:30 PM - Auburn - 7 miles, 50:00.
6 x 30-second pickups.

An easy hour and a half of easy aerobic activity was all I had on tap for today in an effort to recover from the weekend and freshen the legs up for tomorrow night's track session. My one remaining goal for the day is to get my ass to bed at a decent hour and stockpile some sleep for the week ahead. I won't be back to fill this space again until sometime on Wednesday, so I'll leave you with a link to my first published piece of 2009 -- posted earlier today on the web-only issue of Running Times -- to hold you over until then. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Weekend Update

8:10 AM - Westboro - 9 miles, 1:00:00.
20:40 warmup, 10:39 cooldown.
Tempo Run: (28:41 - 5:42.63, 5:46.89, 5:46.42, 5:44.50, 5:41.21)
Note: 5.3 miles on 1.07-mile loop

9:30 AM - Hudson - 13 miles, 1:35:00.

1:50 PM - BSC - Bike, 40:00.
5 x 2:00 @ 80-85% effort w/2:00 recovery.

I'm currently tied up trying to tie up loose ends on an article I'm authoring for another online outlet, so this will be brief. It was a fantastic weekend of training with a solid tempo run yesterday and my longest long run of the year thus far this morning. I'm very happy with the direction in which things are heading right now. Now I just need to find some races to start working my schedule around.

Speaking of races, the weekend was full of fast ones, many of them run by close friends, teammates and local rivals. Best bud Sean McKeon ripped 2+ minutes off his half marathon PR today, clocking in at 1:11:29 at the Carlsbad Half Marathon this morning. Fellow transplanted Californian and former Chieftain, "Beverly Hills" Matt Mills went the full distance, PR'ing in 3:23:16. Congrats to them both!

Current NB Boston teammates didn't disappoint, either, tearing shit up at the Terrier Classic, with Jenn Donovan stealing the show and qualifying for US Indoor Nationals with a smokin' fast 3K of 9:26 and some change. Sergeant Justin Lutz pulled a full four seconds off his 3K best, crossing the line in 8:12 to lead the charge on the men's side. Last but not least, the men's 5K was full of fast times and phenomenal performances, with the two lads from Lowell, Nate Jenkins and Ruben Sanca, pushing the magical 14-minute mark and BAA badass Terry Shea turning in the race of the weekend with a 20-something second PR of 14:31. Good shit, kids.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Go West, young man

8:25 AM - BSC - Bike, 35:00.
5 x 2:30 @ 85-90% effort w/2:30 recovery.

3:05 PM - Westboro - 5 miles, 37:00.

Hit it fairly hard during a short session on the spin bike this morning, the first time I've upped the non-impact intensity in a few weeks. I got the heartrate high and kept the risk of injury low, and right now I really can't ask for much more than that. I capped off the day with an easy run around Westboro in tropical 40-degree temps. It was magical.

OK, that's a bit of an exaggeration but it was a nice way to break up the work day.

In other news, my spring racing plans have been altered of earlier this week, as the Gate River Run in mid-March will no longer be a reality. For me, anyway. While the rest of my mates from NB Boston will still be heading south, I will be going west, for work of all things. Earlier this week the store received a formal invitation from Brooks to attend their annual Symposium in Seattle from March 12-15. This is a big deal for our little store -- a huge deal, really -- as we were the only specialty running account from the New England region to receive an invitation to this annual event. It's easily the biggest honor and best recognition bestowed upon us by one of our vendors in the four years we've been in business. Personally, I wrestled for a little while about where I should go and what I should do, but professionally this is a too tremendous an opportunity to pass up. It promises to be a great time and I'm very much looking forward to spending a few days in Seattle sipping on west-coast coffee and rambling on about running shoes while watching the puddles gather rain.

As far as races go, there are plenty of other ones out there. Gotta sit down when I get a second, take a look at the calendar, talk it over with Kevin and see what makes the most sense. Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Three's Company

10:10 AM - Westboro - 8 miles, 1:02:00.
6 x 20-second strides afterward.

Easy run from the store this morning with Todd Swenson from Saucony and this old fart from Clinton. The pace was pedestrian but the conversation was comical and the time passed by rather quickly. I was happy to get in my second stride session of the week afterward but I'll be honest and admit that my turnover is pretty terrible at this point in time. I actually commented to Todd that I have a hard time believing I ever broke 4:10 for the mile. Running fast, regardless of the distance, just feels so foreign to me right now. With a little bit of time, a lot of patience and a solid stretch of injury-free consistency, however, that feeling will once again be a familiar one. I really do believe that.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


8:20 AM - BSC - Bike, 40:00.
5 x 2:00 @ 75-80% effort w/2:00 recovery.

6:45 PM - RLTAC - 10 miles.
Track Workout: 5 x 800m @ 2:28-30 w/2:30-3:00 recovery.
21:00 warmup, 23:00 cooldown.
2:29.59, (2:34.35 recovery), 2:28.42 (2:53.51), 2:27.78 (2:39.25), 2:25.94 (2:33.97), 2:26.06.

8:10 AM - BSC - Bike, 1:00:00.
Steady 65-70% effort.

Call me Britney Spears -- on second thought, please don't -- but oops, I did it again. Last night was my second straight week back at Reggie and the second week in a row where I miscounted laps during a workout. Luckily, this time it wasn't in the middle of an interval, but rather when the all the intervals were all said and done - or so I thought, anyway.

Kevin had me cued up for 6 by 800 meters in the range of 2:28 to 2:30 with 2:30 to 3 minutes recovery between each interval. After getting my legs and lungs on the same page during the first two intervals, I settled into a steady rhythm and finished the workout satisfied to have comfortably completed all six reps under 5-minute-mile pace. That is, until I got home and my trusty Timex told me otherwise. Apparently, I never quite completed that sixth interval, or even started it for that matter.

Truth be told, in the grand scheme of things half a mile worth of work hardly matters, but the fact that I unintentionally ignored an interval has me kind of concerned about my seemingly foggy focus of late. Not sure what's led me to lapse twice in as many weeks now, but I've got to get my shit together before it becomes a persistent problem.

And that'll do it for this entry/self-loathing session. I'd write more, but one of the co-authors of this blog had me on the phone for well over an hour tonight trying to convince me to take a trip to the neo-hippie capital of North Carolina. His sales pitch was solid, so much so that I'm booking a flight for the first week of February. Can't wait!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Wise Guy

10:00 AM - BSC - Bike, 30:00.
5 x 2:00 @ 80-85% effort w/2:00 recovery.

3:35 PM - Auburn - 8 miles, 56:00.
6 x 20-second strides.

It's not often that I make wise decisions before 8 o'clock in the morning, but electing to put my run off until after noon time today was nothing less than an act of pure brilliance on my part.

Of course, the fact that I was in a miserable mood after digging out my driveway for the second time in as many days helped make my decision to ride the bike this morning an easy one. A wise man once told me not to run angry, and believe me I was in a much better mood this afternoon with the temperature above freezing and plenty of clear pavement at my disposal than I would have been sliding around in 5 fresh inches of snowy shit earlier this morning.

Bitching and moaning aside, today turned out to be a solid day on the training side of things. Nothing worth noting about either workout, just putting in the time and trying not to tax my legs too much before I hit the track again tomorrow night. I did strides for the first time in recent memory and it felt oh-so-good to open things up a bit and turn the legs over a little. Still got some stretching and core work to take care of tonight, so I'm gonna call it quits on this entry and ensure those things get done. Take it easy.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

No race for you!

9:00 AM - Raynham - 10 miles, 1:11:30.

So what's a guy to do when he shows up to a race and is told the event is canceled? Run the course anyway, albeit at a much lesser effort than he otherwise would have had a gun been involved.

That pretty much sums up a miserable morning of driving down to Raynham, but after an hour and 40 minutes in the car I was going for a run whether the cops condoned it or not. Old rival Andy McCarron shared similar sentiments and didn't hesitate to throw on his Yak Traks to join me for a snowy stroll on the 15K course. With the money off the table, we chose to cruise around at a comfortable clip and called it a day at 10 miles.

I spent the rest of the day brunching in Berkley with the Kinneys, their kid and special musical guests Los Reinos. Many laughs were had, much coffee was consumed and an enormous amount of eggs were eaten. Fun times with friends, minus getting my butt beaten badly in Wii bowling. Gotta work on my hook!

Dani-girl helping her Uncle Mamo improve his core routine.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Quick spin

8:10 AM - BSC - Bike, 45:00.
5 x 1:00 @ 80% effort w/1:00 recovery.
2 x 2:30 @ 85% effort w/2:30 recovery.

Kept it short-n-sweet on the spin bike this morning with a more extensive effort on tap for tomorrow in Raynham. I threw in some short spurts of intensity just to spice things up a bit, but otherwise didn't push the envelope. Plenty of opportunity for that in the morning, and plenty of snow to boot. Should be fun!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Room for growth

8:20 AM - BSC - 6 miles, 41:00.
5 sets of drills in the gym afterward.

Apparently, I need to grow a new pair of balls. It seems my existing set is still frozen from yesterday or something.

Upon rolling out of bed this morning, I fired up the laptop, hopped on to and didn't hesitate to throw a pair of split shorts and a t-shirt in my gym bag when I saw the current temperature for Worcester, Massachusetts reading -2, feels like -10. Jumped in my car, stopped at McD's for a coffee and proceeded to the gym, where I danced the belt of death rumba for 41 minutes with a with a fancily unfanned Precor treadmill. The time flew by, and since I was just putting in easy mileage I didn't feel so bad about staying indoors.

Until I got to work. Come to find out my step-in momma Sherry, a chronic asthmatic, ran outside for almost an hour this morning. Then this gal came in later in the afternoon and let me know that this guy ran 85 minutes today. Outdoors, NOT on a treadmill. And to top it off, during my nightly conversation with my brother-like bossman, I learned that his hands actually started to sweat on his run today despite the temperatures reading well below zero when he headed out the door.

Well, my hands didn't sweat from running outside this morning. They very well may have in my Paradox mittens, but I didn't give them that chance. I left those, along with my balls, in the locker room and ran inside on the trendy treadmill instead. And now I feel absolutely terrible about it.

No, not really, but thought I might as well drum up some drama and keep things interesting around here. Bottom line: stay warm, wherever it is you choose to run. And if that just so happens to be outdoors, I have two words for you: wind boxers.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Timing is everything

10:30 AM - Auburn - 9 miles, 1:04:00.

Coldest day of the young year thus far and despite everyone's bitching and moaning it actually wasn't all that bad of a morning for running outside. Of course, it helped that I didn't have to be into work until this afternoon, allowing me to head out at the unusual hour of 10:30, which is apparently when Mr. Wind takes his coffee break during the winter months. Good timing on my part, I guess.

The run itself wasn't anything worth writing much about, just an easy hour on the roads to get the blood flowing a little bit. I would have liked to to do a few sets of drills afterward, but snot was starting to freeze inside my nostrils so I decided to put those off until tomorrow when I have the BSC gym at my disposal. My legs, and the rest of my body for that matter, feel recovered from Tuesday night's track session, which is encouraging. My next hard effort will be Sunday in Raynham when I take my third straight stab at one of my favorite winter races, the Frostbite 15K. Last year I found myself in pretty good form and pulled out the win with a solid effort and a still-standing PR of 48:40 in conditions very similar to this morning. I'm not anywhere near the shape I was in at this point last year, but I'm looking forward to getting another good workout under my belt and having fun with friends afterward.

As far as where I'm heading in terms of my training and racing, right now the two main goals are to keep things consistent and stay healthy, otherwise I'm not going anywhere. There is no marathon in cards for the early part of 2009, so training for the time being will be geared toward lowering the track times listed along the right side of this page. Of course, the hope is that proceeding in this manner will make my next block of marathon-specific training that much more effective.

In regard to races, Kevin and I decided that the Gate River Run in mid-March would be a good short-term target to shoot for over the winter. Plus, the race directors down there in Jacksonville are really putting a strong emphasis on the club competition this year, providing a perfect opportunity for a handful of us from NB Boston to strut our stuff on the national level. That said, I'm very much looking forward to taking this little sojourn south in a little less than eight weeks time. From there it will be all systems go through the short summer track season, the first time in five years I'll be shifting my full focus toward running ridiculously fast around the ol' 400-meter oval. Not gonna lie, it's got me kinda excited.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


8:20 AM - BSC - Bike, 35:00.

Steady 65-70% effort throughout.

7:30 PM - RLTAC - 10 miles.
21:30 warmup, 34:30 cooldown.
Track Workout: 800-400-800-800-800-400. 800's @ 5K pace, 400's @ 3K pace.
2:26.74 (3:04 recovery), 70.59 (3:07), 2:25.82 (3:11), 2:23.37 (1:50), 2:27.12 (3:07), 69.95

7:55 AM - BSC - Bike, 1:00:00.
Steady 70% effort throughout.
Full stretch afterward.

First indoor track workout in two years last night and you better believe that I managed to f*ck it up. Royally, in fact. A bulk of the distance guys were doing sets of 1000's and 600's at 5K and 3K race pace, respectively. The mission assigned to me by our fearless leader was to piggyback off the group and do 3 sets of 800 @ 5K pace/400 @ 3K pace with ~3:00 recovery between everything. In short, the mission failed.

Apparently, my unfamiliarity with the old 200-meter oval had an effect on my once innate ability to count laps. I messed up on my second 400 and inexplicably ran an 800 instead, thus accounting for the shortened recovery before starting the final set of intervals. Talk about a brain fart. That said, more than 24 hours later I still have no good explanation for why the hell I was running my 800's in the range of 2:25 and my 400's in 70 when I should have been NO FASTER than 2:30 and 73.

Note to self: You are not in 15:00/8:40 shape right now. Not even close.

Inability to count laps and failure to hit proper paces aside, it was great to be back with the group last night. The energy at Reggie was electric! I was beyond thrilled to once again be a part of it all and I look forward to rejoining this weekly ritual on a regular basis throughout the rest of the winter and beyond.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Ghost Ridin'

8:45 AM - BSC - Bike, 30:00.
Steady 70% effort throughout.

4:35 PM - Auburn - 7 miles, 52:30.

Manic Monday? Yeah, it was something like that. Hopped on the bike for a short spin this morning and followed that up with a quick stretch before heading off to Hopkinton to see Glenn for a long-overdue massage. I shot back down Rt. 135 afterward and popped into the store for what was supposed to be a quick visit and ended up staying for well over an hour. Funny how that works, especially when free shoes are involved. Then it was off to Roxbury to renew my membership at Reggie, which would have been much easier to do before tomorrow night's track workout, except for the fact the membership office is only open on odd days of the week, and at odd hours to boot. The important thing is that it's done, and all four tires are still on my car, so I'm chalking it up as a successful trip into the city. I celebrated with a quick pit stop at the NB outlet for some schwag on the way back and still managed to beat traffic through the tolls, arriving home just in time to hit the roads at a decent hour. The plan was to take my brandy new pair of Brooks Ghosts out for an easy 50 minutes and some strides, but a downhill digger in the dark left me thinking that strides probably weren't in my best interest this evening. I popped in to see my Pops post-run, beelined it over to the East Side to visit my Nana before she called it a night and now find myself finally back at home, still not showered, but filling in the faithful followers of this blog on the dull details of my mundane Monday. I've really gotta find something better to do. This looks like a good place to start.

Sunday, January 11, 2009



9:45 AM - Hudson/Marlboro - 12 miles, 1:35:00.

2:20 PM - BSC - Bike, 30:00.
Steady 70% effort throughout.
Full stretch, core and upper body work afterward.

Sunday has always been my most favorite day of the week, even more so of late because it's now one of my regular days off from work. What's so special about Sunday? Nothing, and that's what I love about it. It's such a carefree day, with nothing more to worry about than running with friends in the morning and enjoying a big ass brunch afterward. Of course, an afternoon on the couch watching football is always fun too, unless your team goes 11-5 and doesn't make the playoffs, then that couch just doesn't seem so appealing any more.

But I digress. Football or no football, sun or snow, trails or roads, blueberry waffles or Swedish tea ring, soft leather couch or stiff pleather saddle of a spin bike, you just can't beat Sunday. It's like Ralph Wiggum failing English - unpossible!

On the training side of things, last week was decent despite dropping a big 0 in the log book on Saturday. Volume-wise, I more or less mirrored the week before, with 41 miles running on 5 sessions, totaling just under 5 hours worth of meaningful forward motion. I did increase the overall intensity a little bit, with a solid hill session on Tuesday and an encouraging, but otherwise unspectacular progression run on Friday. I fell one ride short of my intended 3 hours in the saddle, but I can live with that. Stretching, strength and core work was much more consistent than last week, which is another step in the right direction. I just hope to keep heading that way.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Progression Session

8:15 AM - Westboro - 9 miles, 1:01:00.
6:08 warmup, 31:53 cooldown.
4-mile progression run (22:59 - 5:58, 5:49, 5:41, 5:31)

I was a little delayed in getting out the door for my workout this morning, as an argument of the locker room variety kept me indoors for a few minutes longer than I originally planned. The exchange with Gym Guy - who liked to start every sentence with the word "boy" - went a little something like this.

Gym Guy: Boy, big game for the Celtics tonight.
Me: Yeah, the Cavs are perfect at home. Should be a good one.
Gym Guy: Boy, that LeBron is one helluva player, isn't he? They're saying he's going to out-do Jordan.
Me: Well, he's gotta win at least six NBA titles first. But he's young, he still has time.
Gym Guy: Boy, he has a great team behind him, that's for sure.
Me: Jordan's wasn't bad, either, and he kept them together for the better part of 8 years, which is most impressive to me. He had Pippen, Paxon and Ho Grant...who does LeBron got?
Gym Guy: Boy...the center there...what's his name? Ahh, I can't remember. I'm drawing a blank.
Me: You must be talking about Wallace.
Gym Guy: Yeah, Wallace. Boy, is he a force in the paint.
Me: He sure is, but he plays for Detroit.

Now, like any true philosophy major, I love a good argument. But, boy, if you're gonna argue with me, at least get your facts straight!

As for the progression run, the goal was 4 miles starting at 6-minute pace and chopping 10 seconds off per mile to finish at 5:30 for the final go-around. Give or take a few seconds here and there, I pretty much nailed it dead-on. Happy with the effort given the early start and cold conditions, but just glad to get this one in before what is shaping up to be another weekend chock full of crappy weather. I don't mind the cold, but for crissakes can we get one - just one! - weekend where there isn't any white shit falling from the sky? If anyone knows the guy I can file this request with, please let me know.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

No surrender

9:15 AM - Westboro - 6 miles, 43:00.
6 x 20-second strides. 4 sets of drills & walking stretches afterward.

It snowed (again) last night, not a whole lot but just enough to leave the roads a little sloppier than I would have liked to see them when I woke up this morning. I contemplated running on the rat wheel for a while on my drive to the gym, but thought better of it when I could pick out some patches of pavement as I rolled into Westboro. The run itself was unspectacular at best, but I did spice it up with a few strides toward the end to flush out some of the crap taking up temporary residence in my quads. They're still feeling a bit battered from an up-and-down battle with ol' Eli Whitney the other day, but those seasoned soldiers aren't ready to throw up the white flag just yet. They'll be back to fight hard another day, possibly as soon as tomorrow.

In more exciting news, it looks as if I may be taking my running ramblings to other areas of the web on a freelance basis in the near future. I'm withholding details until I get more details myself, but I'm excited about the opportunity to potentially have my name back in a byline sometime soon, so keep yo' eyes open!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

To hill with it

8:05 AM- Westboro - 9 miles, 1:01:00.
17:00 warmup, 16:00 cooldown.
6 x 2:00 hills @ 90% effort w/jog down recovery.

8:10 AM- BSC - Bike, 1:00:00.
65-70% effort for the first half hour, 80-85% by the end.

This space drew a big blank yesterday, and for that I apologize. Hope no one missed me too much. The excuses are a plenty, so let's just bypass the bullshit and get back to business as usual.

Yesterday was my first hill workout since last September, and other than the cold burn of some blustery air trying to burst out of my lungs, it went off without a hitch. I made six 2-minute trips up Eli Whitney St. in Westboro, site of many a similar workout last fall with Carrara and Ceiks, and to my surprise I was able to reach the same mailbox we used as our benchmark back in August and September. I'll be honest, yesterday's effort wasn't completed with anywhere near the ease I was able to handle this hill with last fall, but it was a solid session for where I'm at right now. My fitness level isn't buried too far beneath the surface and with a little more diligence I know I'll have it dug out in due time. The nice thing is, there's no rush.

This morning's solo spin session at BSC was anything but entertaining, so I'm not gonna waste many words on it. An hour is a long time to kill on a bike that doesn't go anywhere, so I found myself working a little harder the last half hour than I otherwise would on the day after a workout. Luckily, the absence of impact helps keep my maladies to a minimum, so I should be no worse for the wear when I roll out of bed tomorrow morning. Just gotta get there first, so that will do it for this entry. Goodnight.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Ice, ice baby

7:45 AM - Auburn - 6 miles, 46:30.

3:05 PM - BSC - Bike, 35:00.
65-70% recovery effort throughout.
Full stretch, core routine, pushups & dips afterward.

The name of the game today was recovery, both from yesterday's jacked up day of training and this morning's root canal. To be totally honest, the root canal didn't take very much out of me, or otherwise leave me feeling as f'd up as a lot of people told me it would. In the end, it more or less amounted to a glorified filling. I had a fat lip for a few hours but nothing that left me even the least bit uncomfortable or immobilized for the rest of the day. Look, I'm a distance runner. I deal in discomfort. The last 10 miles of Boston was much more excruciating. I was popping ibuprofen within an hour of crossing the finish line. As of this posting, 10 hours later, the only anti-inflammatory I've ingested thus far has been ice water. Not sure what all the hype was about!

Speaking of ice, there was plenty of it this morning for my skating session around town. It appears that we got hit with a bit of rain during the wee hours of the morning, which in turn froze itself solid by the time the sun came up and turned the roads into a rink. Never fun. I couldn't find my skates, but the Mizuno Inspires I've been putting some miles on of late did the job just fine. Some strides were in order after the run, but it didn't strike me as the safest approach given the conditions. I'll put those off until tomorrow, road conditions permitting.

Last thing I want to mention in this entry is a bit of great news I received from my buddy Jarrin this afternoon. None of what I'm about to share has any direct effect on any of you, or even myself for that matter, but when news is this good, I can't not give it mention.

First, a little background. Who the hell is Jarrin? Also known as Rob, Jarrin is best friends with my boss, Rich Allen. I met Rob on one of his semi-annual visits to New England a couple years back, and since then we've become close friends and communicate on a regular basis. In fact, when Rob treks up this way from DC, he saves on a hotel and crashes at the 4-0 in what will be renamed the Robert Jarrin Room.

Now to the aforementioned great news. Rob's mom, Rosa, has been in remission from Stage III-C ovarian cancer for almost two years now. Recently, her numbers have not looked good and there was concern that the dreaded disease was returning to her body. Today was a big day, a culmination of tests and much anxiety that have been building over the past couple weeks. Thankfully, as of 4'oclock this afternoon, all bloodwork came back normal, the numbers looked good and Rosa is still in remission and cancer-free. This is most wonderful news for a most wonderful woman.

Jess, Meg, Grandma Pat, Rosa, Uncle Rob & Uncle Mamo, 10.25.08

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Fill the holes

9:25 AM - Hudson/Sudbury/Marlboro - 11 miles, 1:20:00.
4 sets of drills and walking stretches afterward.

2:20 PM - BSC - Bike, 40:00.
5 x 2:30 out of the saddle @ 90% effort w/2:30 seated recovery.
Full stretch, core routine and light lifting afterward.

Two hours of high-end aerobic activity makes Mario a dull and tired boy. That said, it was a solid day on the training side of things. All of the inconsistencies that I've been rambling on about the past couple days came to a simultaneous screeching halt. I figure if I'm gonna try to fill some holes in my training I might as well do it all at once, and let's face it, with the day off from work and the Pats not in the playoffs what else was I gonna do?

No, you don't have to answer that question. In fact, please don't. Let's move on.

This morning's run was my second straight week back at la casa de Carrara, and while we didn't have the same all-star cast as last Sunday all the usual suspects were almost on time and ready to run by 9:30. Ryan, Christy Mae, Sir Bradford and myself raised a ruckus on the backroads of Sudbury without being told we weren't eligible to win their town road race or otherwise didn't belong there. I think it helped our cause that we picked up a Sudbury resident mid-way through our Sunday stroll, exonerating us from any potential problems our unwelcome presence may have been presumed to cause.

After a hearty helping of waffles, turkey bacon, fruit and the best goddamn homefries this side of 495, I hit the road and hit up the Boston Sports Club on my way home to fulfill my self-imposed aerobic obligation of two hours for the day with a 40-minute spin session on the bike. Since my last hard effort was sliding around for 28 minutes in the snow on Thursday morning, I wanted to make sure I included a quick injection of intensity this afternoon to get my heartrate humming at a high level once again. The prescription: 6 sets of 2:30 hard/2:30 easy. It stung, just a little bit.

The rest of my time at a busy and boisterous BSC was spent with my old friend the stretch rope, a stability ball and a couple of weight machines. Something about a skinny guy in bike shorts pelvic thrusting the sky while laying on top of a stability ball with a theraband wrapped around his knees seemed to send everyone into a tizzy this afternoon. People parted faster than the Red Sea. Moving forward, I might have to relocate my core routine to the privacy of my own living room, and probably draw the blinds for good measure.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Easy ending

7:45 AM - Auburn - 7 miles, 52:00.

I took off on a rare run from home this morning, my first foray from the 4-0 since Christmas day. The scene as I stepped out of my garage actually somewhat resembled the stereotypical image of Christmas morning, with a fresh dusting of snow making it just slippery enough to put me in a pissy mood. I'll cut off my complaining there, however, as the run turned out to be quite the enjoyable affair. I kept the effort easy and just focused on covering ground without causing any more undue harm to my fragile frame. It was an appropriate ending to what otherwise ended up being an average-at-best week.

Speaking of the week, it finished off with 42 miles and just under 5 hours of running on 5 sessions. I spent two hours in the saddle and didn't lift a lick. My core routine was inconsistent at best and I really need to get back into the swing of stretching again on a regular basis. The goal is to gradually add another hour of running and another hour of biking over the next few weeks and get my lifting and core routine back off the ground. I might sound like I'm being hard on myself but I need to be to get where I want to go. The good thing is, I'm on my way.

Freezer 5 finish, 01.01.09 (Courtesy: CMS)

Friday, January 02, 2009

Flip Flop

8:20 AM - BSC - Bike, 1:00:00.
65-70 % recovery effort throughout.

In the interest of acting intelligently, I decided to flip-flop my workouts for today and tomorrow, using today as a non-running recovery day and giving my easily broken body another day to bask in the absence of impact. Down right brilliance, I know. Not sure what's gotten into me.

One thing I do need to get into, or back into I should say, is a regular lifting and core routine. I was Steady Eddy for almost 10 weeks, then the holidays hit and everything went to shit. I haven't touched a weight in almost two weeks now and my newly-refined core routine - thank you Mike Roberts - has been inconsistent at best the last couple days. I need to get my ass back in gear and not half-ass the essential exercises that will keep my ass in one piece.

Sorry for the overabundance of ass right there, but I felt the need to admit my inconsistencies on the internet. It's for my own good. Just because I'm feeling fit again I can't allow myself to fall off the rehabilitation wagon - not yet, anyway. Who am I kidding, at the rate I'm going I'm probably never getting off the thing, and that might actually turn out to be a blessing in disguise. As long as I'm in the driver's seat I might as well stay along for the ride, because with my injury history the last thing I want to be doing is falling off wagons.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

(Frozen) Solid Start

11:00 AM - Sterling - 1:03:54, 10 miles.
Freezer 5 Road Race (1st - 27:54).
20:00 warmup, 2 sets of drills, 2 strides, 16:00 cooldown.

Let me make one thing clear right off the bat. When a road race is named the Freezer 5 they call it that for a reason. I've run this ridiculous race 3 or 4 times now and I can't remember one instance where the conditions weren't less-than-ideal. The air temperature this morning was a balmy 9 degrees, but the wind chill made it feel like a brisk -4. Not to mention the roads resembled snowmobiling trails. But hey, I'm not complaining. It's January in New England and this is what you're gonna get. If you can't accept the harsh realities of winter before you fill out an entry form then you might as well not even show up. Well, not if you're hungover, anyway.

Hungover I wasn't, but eager I was, as today's race took on a lot of significance for me on a few different levels. Above all, this was a very emotional effort for me, today marking the 6-month anniversary of my Mom's passing. Truth me told, I really wanted to win this otherwise insignificant race for her and I thought about my Mom every step of the 27 minutes and 54 seconds I was out there looking for a clear patch of road to run on. Insignificance of the event aside, it meant a lot to me that I was able to cross the finish line first, a finish line I crossed with tears in my eyes, finger pointed to the sky and a smile on my face. All I heard ringing in my ears as I walked back into the gym afterward was Mom telling me, "nice job, bud." It was an incredibly surreal moment, one I'll never forget. I felt her presence out there in the cold today more so than I have at any other point in the last six months. As for being able to feel my toes afterward, well, that's a whole 'nuther story.

As far as the race itself, the plan this morning was to get the new year off to a solid start with a steady sustained effort and I'm happy to have safely executed that plan to perfection. I didn't take any splits, but I know I was 5:53 at the mile mark and 22:18 at Mile 4, for what it's worth. The effort felt very much under control, which given the conditions and the circumstances, is encouraging. Most importantly, everything seems to still be intact and in good working order so I couldn't be any happier with how everything went today. Of course, winning is always nice, too, even when it wasn't exactly a hard-earned victory. Hey, winning is never a bad omen, unless of course you're trying to recover from a gambling addiction. That said, thank you to my good buddy Ryan for deciding to sleep in this morning and not defend his Freezer 5 crown, making me look like Kenenisa Bekele racing against a bunch of high schoolers and allowing me to take home a nifty blue re-icycled sweatshirt as my gold medal. You snooze, you lose, pal.