Friday, July 30, 2010

Last week's training (and a race)

Monday J19: AM 2:25 cycling- easy with some pickups PM 0:10 core 14km row in ???
Tuesday J20: AM 2:20 cycling- easy PM 14km row in ???
Wednesday J21: AM 2:08 cycling- easy PM 14km row in ???
Thursday J22: AM 2:20 cycling - easy PM 14km row in ??? 0:10 core
Friday J23: AM 1:04 cycling- easy PM 0:16 cycling 0:10 core
Saturday J24: AM 75 min WU- crit ~40 min? 45 min CD PM 45 min WU 16km hilly time trial in 22:29 20 min cd
Sunday J25: AM limited warm-up ~30 min 49 mile race in ?2:30? limited cooldown ~20 min

Comments: This week, I was focused on the Blacksburg Cycling Classic and I was pretty tired from my big weekend of cycling. My totals were 18:00 cycling (not bad for a race week) and 4:00 rowing (which is probably a high). The Blacksburg Cycling Classic when really well for me. It started out a bit rough when I missed the start of my first cat 4 crit and started almost a lap down (I realized that I had missed the start when I saw the leaders coming around the final turn of the .89 mile-lap). I took off and rode the hardest 40 minutes of my life- managing to catch all but the top 7 riders for some much needed omnium points but no cash. The course was great for me (as good a a crit course could be) with a nice big hill and brake-free corners. The weather was a different story (Photo by Dave Cobb of Team Traveller)

The time trial went a little bit more smoothly (I made there on time) but I had tweaked my rear derailleur just before the start and I think that I made it worse. It was find for the (easy) warm-up but when I started to hammer for the TT, it was pretty bad. I managed 3rd place in 22:29.1 0.4 seconds behind second- which is a good lesson to always dig for that extra 1/2 of a second... After the race, I tried to adjust my derailleur and the cable came clean out. Had that happened during the race, I would have been stuck with only my smallest cog? I guess that I was pretty lucky after all.

The road race was not until noon the next day and the theme of the day was the weather (courtesy of Nataliedee).

The cat 4 race was three flattish to rolling laps with a mountain-top finish tacked onto the end. There were minor attacks on the first lap but the peloton mostly stayed together- or so we thought. I breakaway of three riders had gotten away and and the beginning of the second lap, we learned that they were 1:10 up. No one really wanted to organize a chase and so we languished around on the second lap (with me pulling most of the back half). The third lap was just as bad and I pulled for some of it despite really trying not to. Toward the end of the third lap, one of the break away riders had come back but the other two had a pulled a 4:20 lead. I lead the chase group to the bottom of the climb and let it rip. I caught the two riders about 1/2 of the way up the hill and managed to pull off a very luckily timed win! Results can be found here.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Last week's training

Monday J12 AM 0:45 row (felt terrible) 1:05 elliptical (felt ok) all day in the field PM 0:10 core and 0:15 cycling

Tuesday J13 AM 4:15 ride to and from Holcomb Rock- easy

Wednesday J14 AM 0:59 easy ride PM 1:10 warm up (race delayed because of the combination of the earlier (4/5) and later (1/2/3) races) / 45 laps in 45 min??? 1:20 cool down (sorry, Dave) around downtown Roanoke and up and down the Greenway...

Thursday J15 AM 2:30 ride- Bratton's Run backward with an add-on in VMI- felt ok but tried not to push it so that I could recover from yesterday and get in some quality this weekend PM 714km row in 59:42

Friday J16 AM 14km row in 59:57 1:00 elliptical PM 2:30 ride- North Mountain from the side- rode at 3:00 pm = really hot!

Saturday J17 AM 7:55 ride to WV border and back- felt pretty rough around 3 hours in and much better in the second half...

Sunday J18 AM 4:10 ride- Vesuvius and the BRPW- felt tired....

Comments: First off, Wednesday's crit went really well. I got off to a really poor start due to some difficulty with getting clipped in but after that, I moved up pretty quickly and took the lead with 35 laps to go for a 45-lap race. I got out-sprinted for the preem but my corners were much, much better than last week and I managed to drop all but one rider instead of all but two riders... Saturday was a great ride to and from the WV border- this is only my third border crossing (MA to NH and NH to VT being the other two) and it started with a bear in the road just south of Goshen! I also saw a copperhead as roadkill... Overall for the week, I had 25:49 of cycling, 2:45 rowing, and 2:05 elliptical with 30:39 total. Not bad. Below is pic from Wednesday's crit with eventual first-place finisher, Gordon Wadsworth behind me. Photo was taken by Team Traveller's Dave Cobb.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Random Thoughs

Some random thoughts from the past few days...

1. I think that Annalisa is currently running more than anyone else in our immediate family (who would have seen that coming a few years back?)

2. I saw my second bear in two weeks this morning and I have heard stories from four other people who have spotted bears in Rockbridge County in the past few weeks. Awesome!

3. Nothing says, "screw you for leaving me off of the TdF team again" like this.

4. My favorite race is going off at 7:00am tomorrow (Sunday) morning. I am anxious to see if Matt C can make it up and down for the win one more year against Rickey G. I think that Rickey will run well at The Barr (based on past performances at "similar" races) but anyone who bets against Matt on his home course has just not been paying attention. Nevertheless, I expect a battle royal...

5. I got upgraded from Cat 5 to Cat 4 this week for road cycling by USA Cycling. For those of you who are not familiar with the category system, this means that I have graduated from "beginner" to the JV of the JV of the JV of the JV of the sport.

6. I rode from Lex to the WV state line this morning; now, I am tired...

7. I have a race (or a series of races) coming up next weekend. Saturday morning starts out with a crit (boo) and Saturday evening, I will do my first real (not uphill) time trial. Sunday morning, there is a road race with an uphill finish (yeah).

8. I forget what eight is for...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Last week's training

Monday 7.5 AM 4:20 Brattons Run backward with 42 extension- felt pretty good

Tuesday 7.6 AM 2:00 ride- out Forge back on Plank PM 0:10 core 14km row in 59:49

Wednesday 7.7 AM 1:09 ride- easy on Traveller PM Roanoke Civic Center Crit Series 0:55 warm-up 40-lap in about 40 minutes, 30 mine cool-down.

Thursday 7.8 AM 2:59 Borden Grant to Vesuvius to Irish Creek- felt great PM 14km row in 59:42 0:10 core

Friday 7.9 AM 1:57 ride- Big Hill but no Turkey Hill felt terrible and bailed PM 14km row in 57:49 (pr) 0:10 core

Saturday 7.10 AM 3:30 ride- felt pretty bad but tried to stay flat

Sunday 7.11 AM PM 4:41 cycling- to BBRPW on 60, south to top of Apple Orchard mountain, back via Petite's gap PM 4:19 cycling- group ride to Augusta county- mostly easy with some drills and sprints (really hot...). 0:10 core

Comments: Finally, a week that I can say was good; granted, no running but still a good week. The Crit on Wednesday was a really good workout as I led for the last half of the race before getting passed in the final straight be two riders. Friday, I had a great row, and Sunday, I got in 9 hours of riding. The photo below is me leading 1st and 2nd in Wednesday's crit (taken by Kristin N. Colonna).

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Last week's training

Monday 6.28 AM 1:57 ride around Quabbin Park PM 0:10 core and weights
Tuesday 6.29 AM 2:15 ride into UMASS via Shutsbury Center
Wednesday 6.30 AM 1:07 ride into UMASS PM 0:57 ride back from UMASS- saw two Moose (giant Cow and tiny calf) on Sand Hill Road
Thursday 7.1 AM 2:03 ride into UMASS via Shutsbury Center
Friday 7.2 AM 2:00 ride into UMASS via Shutsbury Center
Saturday 7.3 PM 6:30 ride from corner of 340 and 66 to near the end of Skyline Drive. Hilly the whole way. Saw a bear about two hour in (see below). I was going to ride the entire way but I stopped to eat at 10:00 pm 6:30 in and fell asleep almost instantly- woke up when only I got a text message and decided to sleep for a while.
Sunday 7.4 AM 4:15 ride from Skyline Drive to Lex via BRPW and Irish Creek starting at 5:00 am- very tired- somehow, I did not sleep well on the ground by the side of the road. ...a beautiful ride nonetheless. PM 0:30 ride easy to and from WalMart to buy a new phone (my 5+ year old one crapped out last night) and a fan for my 110 degree apartment. PM 0:10 core

Comments: A week of maintenance during a rough week of analytical work at UMASS. I got very little sleep (even less than during the semester) but it was good to get back and do some of my old rides- particularly the Quabbin and Shutsbury. I only did cycling workouts this week (though I did think about swimming in the old lake but did not quite make it) and got in a total of 21:34- not too bad except that is was mostly in two days. It was a great week for wildlife encounters with two moose in Amherst (of Shutsbury) and my second VA bear. I got dropped off at the corner of 66 and 350 (above Front Royal) with my driver's final works a joking "watch out for bears". Two hours later, I was heading down one of the many, many hills of Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park when I saw two cyclists on the other side of the road- one of whom was gesticulating oddly. She was pointing to a medium-sized black bear in the ditch on my side of the road. I passed by going pretty fast (downhill) less than five feet from it! This is by far the closest that I have been to any of the five other bears that I have encountered in the wild. The pic from this week is a set of four elemental abundance maps of a disequilibrium (reaction) rim of olivine and clinopyroxene surrounding an orthopyroxene xenocryst in a porphyritic basalt from the Uinkaret Volcanic Field in the Western Grand Canyon that I made during the week at UMASS.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Last week's training

Monday 6.21 AM 14km row in 58:56 0:30 elliptical PM 2:06 ride- variation on out on Forge back on Plank
Tuesday 6.22 AM 3:20 ride out South River, up Vesuvius, Back on BRPW to Irish Gap and back
Wednesday 6.23 AM 14km row in 59:56 0:30 elliptical 0:10 core
Thursday 6.24 AM 2:14 ride- valley and ridge
Friday 6.25 AM 14km row in 58:xx (really fast but I can't remember exactly) 0:30 elliptical 0:10 core PM 1:10 ride- valley and ridge
Saturday 6.26 AM 0:30 ride- travel day- this is all the time that I had in the AM (got up late)
Sunday 6.27 AM 3:22 ride circum-Quabbin- felt really good and hammered

Comments: Not a great week for cycling with only 12:42 total. I did get in a really good ride around the Quabbin, though... I am coming along on the rowing, though with three hours this week and two of my fastest 14km times thus far. 1:30 elliptical made for 17:12 total for the week. Below is a picture of me taken by Steele Burrow of Burrow Imagery during a foggy hill workout this spring.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Last week's training

Monday 6.14 AM 14km row in 59:57 0:40 elliptical PM 1:53 ride 0:10 core
Tuesday 6.15 AM 2:18 ride
Wednesday 6.16 AM 0:10 core 14km row in 59:36 PM 2:58 ride- South River, Vesuvius, Irish Creek
Thursday 6.17 AM 2:11 ride 0:10 core
Friday 6.18 AM 14km row in 59:24 0:30 elliptical PM 2:17 ride- Bratton's Run (out on 60) on new ride 0:10 core
Saturday 6.19 AM 4:15 ride 60 to BRPW, down Vesuvius, meandered back
Sunday 6.20 AM 4:30 ride to Holcomb rock, one hour of coring, back along BRPW

Another pretty good week for training. 20:22 cycling, 3:00 rowing, and 1:40 elliptical with three productive days in the field. On the other hand, I missed my third consecutive Mt. Washington... Below, the Holcomb Rock Dam taken from the field site...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Last week's training

Monday J07: AM 4:10 ride to and from Holcomb Rock PM 0:10 core
Tuesday J08: AM 2:11 ride Big Hill Turkey Hill 0:10 core: All day in the field
Wednesday J09: AM 0:10 core 14km row in 59:55 60 min elliptical: All day in the field
Thursday J10: AM 2:55 ride- South River, Vesuvius, Irish Creek PM 14km row in 59:47
Friday J11: AM: 14km row in 59:39 0:30 elliptical: all day in the field PM: 1:45 ride- first ride on my new ride- felt terrible (little sleep last night)
Saturday J12: PM 3:45 ride Bratton's Run backward with up and over North Mt. 0:15 core
Sunday J13: AM 0:10 core 2:17 ride to Holcomb Rock via the BRPW (all day in the field) PM 2:29 ride back from Holcomb Rock via the BRPW

Comments: A good week with no real monster rides but with some solid work and 19:33 of riding, 3:00 of rowing, and 1:30 elliptical.

I'm out

With The Hill coming up in less than two weeks, I regret to announce that I will not be in attendance this year. This is the third year in a row that I have been on the road to Mt. Washington early on in the year and been sidelined with injuries. In 2008, I had just run a fantastic race at the Pittsfield Snowshoe Marathon when I felt a irritating pain in my left knee. I ran a leg of the Tuckerman's Inferno before switching to an ambitious regimen of x-training. I ended up getting surgery that summer (July) to remove a dislodged piece of cartilage. In 2009, I was running well with quite a bit of supplemental x-training when I started to add uphill treadmill tempo runs to my routine (7.6 miles at 12% 13.1 miles at 15% et cetera) when my knee problem returned (I had just added uphill treadmill work to my routine in 2008 when my initial problems began). When the 2009 race came around, I was coming off of a very bad May and June, I was forced to withdraw again. I ran a few races later in 2009 but with not much success. Late fall of 2009, I had another hiccup- this time with my left (non-surgery) knee but by the beginning of 2010, I was once again on the road to The Hill. I had decided to use a cycling-heavy build up with specific hill-rep preparation for The Hill. I had worked up my long-run to 2:45 and had just started hill reps back in March when I started feeling pain in my right (surgery) knee. This was completely different than previous problems. Before, there was a dull pain right in the middle of the knee joint; this time, there is a sharp pain front and lateral. I took a few weeks of cross-training before trying to run (and then limp around for two weeks). Another few weeks, another run, and another few weeks of limping. I launched into my riding with the idea that with even a month of specific (running) training to supplement my cycling strength and endurance, I could maybe run well enough to make my ninth national mountain running team. Now that it is early June (and my knee is not improving at all), I have come to the realization that I will not be racing at The Hill (or probably anywhere) this year.

After three second-place finishes (and a 3rd and a 4th), and after living in New England for eight years, winning Mount Washington had been the at the top of my list of goals since I first ran in 2002. Granted, there was no chance of that in 2010... ...but it still would have been nice to compete and to see the many, many friends that will be racing. This year, it's going to be great. It is the 50th running, the national championship, and the only national team trial race. It is going to be the mountain race on the US scene for 2010 and might be the most competitive domestic field in the history of US mountain running. Missing it will be very, very difficult for me. I would like to wish all of the racers good luck.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A brief report on racing so far in 2010

Here is what I have been up to on the racing front for the first 1/2 of 2010.

April 10th: Rock Hill Omnium Road Race: I won the Cat 4/5 35+ road race on a solo breakaway from about 20 miles out in my first ever mass-start race... On my Moto... Results

April 11th: Rock Hill Omnium Criterium: On the following day, I lead for five of the last six laps before finishing 16th (again in the cat 3/4 35+) crit. Results

May 1st: Wintergreen Ascent: I finished 4th overall at the VA state hillclimb championship in Wintergreen behind some pretty fast dudes. There was a 6-foot long dead eastern diamond back on the course! Results

May 9th: TomatoHead Omnium Time Trial: I was really pumped for this race since I have wanted to do a time trial for a while; unfortunately, the race was a one-mile time trial with 11 turns- two of which were greater than 90 degrees...

May 9th: TomatoHead Omnium Criterium: I rode the masters (30+) crit and got my butt kicked! I think that I not very good at crits...

May 29th: Tour of Tucker County: Fitness/performance-wise I had a great day. 0:26 in, I was in the back of the lead pack and the climbs were feeling really easy when I flatted (front) and had to work really hard to catch up. I caught up on the top of the loop and had a few minutes to rest when I managed to drop my chain (random bump) at the bottom of a short hill. I lost some more time on the big downhill and then dropped my chain again (WTF?). I was far enough behind the lead pack that I blew a turn (the marshals must have assumed that I was in the pro/1/2/3 race and let me start a second lap). I probably went a mile out my way before catching up to some cat 3 riders and figuring out my mistake. I turned around and hit the last climb (7 miles long) hard and it took forever for me to pass anyone. I managed to pass all but the top two riders who were 30 seconds in front of me at the finish line. We were all under the old CR by quite a bit. I am looking forward to two laps at next year's race. Results

Last couple of week's training

Monday, May 3rd: PM 1:50 ride with Elliot
Tuesday, May 4th: PM 2:13 ride- North Mountain from the Side
Wednesday, May 5th AM 1:30 cycling- easy, spent all day in the river with EFM class with lots of swimming and wetsuit work PM 1:00 cycling- easy (tired)
Thursday, May 6th AM 1:00 elliptical, 5km rowing- wanted to do more but my arms were wrecked from swimming all day on Wednesday PM 2:10 cycling- up and down North Mountain
Friday, May 7th AM 0:10 core, 10km rowing erg in 43:XX, 0:20 elliptical PM 0:15 cycling
Saturday, May 8th AM 1:05 cycling- easy PM 0:32 cycling- easy, 0:10 core
Sunday, May 9th AM Tomatohead Omnium... 1:30 wu/1 mile TT/20 min cd/0:50 wu/0:40 crit/0:49 cd = 3:20 cycling

Monday, May 10th PM 2:00 easy ride
Tuesday, May 11th AM 2:11 ride cold and raining PM 10km row in 40:34 (fastest time in a while)
Wednesday, May 12th AM 1:55 ride PM 1:23 ride
Thursday, May 13th AM 1:15 elliptical & 0:45 row PM 2:12 ride
Friday, May 14th AM 0:45 row (10km in 42:49) 0:30 elliptical PM 1:50 0:10 core
Saturday, May 15th 6:50 ride- South River to Vesuvius north on BRPW to Shenandoah National Park back on Irish Creek
Sunday May 16th AM 4:04 South River to Vesuvius to Robinson Gap

Monday, May 17th AM 0:45 elliptical & 0:45 row (10km in 42:46) PM 1:00 indoor cycling 0:10 core
Tuesday, May 18th 2:36 North Mountain- muddy and soft PM 0:45 row (10km in 41:24)
Wednesday, May 19th AM 1:26 ride with Elliot 0:15 core PM 1:00 elliptical (8.7 miles) & 0:30 row
Thursday, May 20th 1:47- 1 hour on own, 0:47 with Elliot - high rpm drills PM 0:45 row (10km in 39:49)
Friday, May 21st AM 0:21 ride back from dropping off the van PM 3:30 ride on North Mountain (I was really tired and slow)
Saturday, May 22nd: 3:34 ride somewhere...
Sunday, May 23rd: 4:46 ride out to Devils Marble Yard and back on the BRPW & Robinson Gap

Monday, May 24th: 0:10 core 3:11 out South River, up Vesuvius, back Irish Creek PM 0:60 rowing
Tuesday, May 25th: 3:12 out South River, up Vesuvius, back Irish Creek PM 0:30 row
Wednesday, May 26th: AM 0:60 row & 0:45 elliptical PM 1:00 ride
Thursday, May 27th: AM 0:45 row & 0:40 elliptical PM 2:04 with Elliot
Friday, May 28th: AM 0:35 cycling easy 0:10 core PM 0:30 cycling easy
Saturday, May 29th: AM 0:30/1:51 Tour of Tucker County/0:35 cd PM 0:15 core
Sunday, May 30th: AM 2:35 easy ride 0:15 core

Monday, May 31st: AM 2:18 ride out Forge back on Plank with add on (briefly lost) 0:10 core (field work all day)
Tuesday, June 1st: AM 2:09 Big Hill Turkey Hill 0:10 core (field work all day) PM 0:49 ride out 60 back on Furrs Mill
Wednesday, June 2nd: AM 2:10 Big Hill Turkey Hill 0:10 core (field work all day)
Thursday, June 3rd: AM 2:04 ride out Forge back on Plank with add on 0:10 core PM: 14km row in 1:00:39 (field work all day)
Friday, June 4th: 4:11 ride to Holcomb Rock and back 10 min core
Saturday, June 5th: AM 4:16 ride to Holcomb Rock and back 0:10 core PM 0:35 ride- Turkey Hill PM 0:30 ride- back
Sunday, June 6th: AM 4:00 ride to Holcomb Rock and back

Saturday, May 8, 2010


My last blog post was written during my spring break which was pretty much the last time that I had a minute or two to sit down and write something that was not work-related. Winter semester was pretty full for me; I taught two new courses (Earth Materials I and Water Resources), supervised one 3-credit independent study student (who presented a talk at the NE/SE GSA meeting on xenoliths from the Uinkaret volcanic flows in the Grand Canyon (Lava Falls area), served as the advisory for two environmental capstone projects (one comparing the regulation of offshore oil drilling on the US and Brazil and one looking at lead contamination in ancient Rome and modern America), and went through another round of job applications (see below). Right now, I am at the midterm for a 4-week term where I am teaching a new course called Environmental Field Methods. Even though it is a new course and we meet over 20 hours per week, I feel a bit more relaxed... Plus, I only have 6 students this term instead of 59.

Update 1: After sending out a bunch of applications, I made it to the telephone interview stage for 4 positions (2 of which were tenure-track) and I am very happy to report that I have accepted an offer to continue at W&L for another year! Hopefully, the tenure-track positions that open up next year will be better than for this year (there were only three positions that I felt were worth applying for and I was really only excited about one of them).

Update 2: I have not been running- at all, I have managed to injure my knee (surgery side) in a (probably) different manner than before the surgery. My running was going really well up until February and I had worked up my long run to 2:45 and was just starting to to hill reps when I started experiencing pain in the lateral anterior part of my knee during medium grade climbs. A few days of x-training and no improvement... A few weeks of x-training and no improvement... Now, if I go for a run, I will limp around for about two week before the pain clears up. I will try one more time about a month out from The Hill but I am not terribly optimistic. This is unfortunate because I am in pretty good shape from lots of cycling (see below)

Update 3: I have been riding quite a bit (I will try to update my training more regularly...); it's definitely not running but it has been pretty fun. Plus, Lexington is an excellent place for road cycling- certainly the best of anywhere that I have lived. In order to satisfy my racing jones, I have started racing road bikes. So far this year, I have raced three times and I have joined the university's cycling club, Team Traveller. I will write more about my racing later.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Racing Schedule for (first half of) 2010

With the Mount Washington lottery opening up in a few days, I thought that I would post about my racing schedule leading up to The Hill on the third Saturday in June. For the past few years, I have planned my racing schedule at the beginning of the year up to The Hill because how I do (or would have done, since I have not raced on The Hill for the past two years) determines the course of the rest of the season. This year is no different, particularly since The Hill will be the site of the national mountain running team selection race and all road, trails, et cetera for me (and many others) lead to Mount Washington. Plus, I have no idea where I will be living next fall. There is also talk of a few new trail races in the Lex this spring and I will certainly be involved in those (if they happen) either as a racer or as a volunteer. I will start the season off with a few local and localish trail and road races some of which are part of the Trail Junkies RNUTS series centered around the Roanoke (VA) area. I would also like to add a few additional cycling events into the mix as well.

March 6th, Explore Your Limits 10km (trail), Explore Park, Roanoke, VA (60 miles)
A low-key trail race in a nice, hilly park. If it is warm enough in early March, I will race, if not, I will probably stay home and train. Last year, I cycled to a race that was in this park and camped out in the area after the race (it was a nighttime race). Right now, it is not looking very good for this race (the race will still be going on but I will probably not be running in it). We still have quite a bit of snow and the Parkway will probably still be closed (it is not plowed).

March 26th or 27th, 10,000m track race at W&L Carnival, Lexington, VA (0 miles away)
With four local races (three in town) this weekend, this is the one that I will probably be doing. As much as running 10k on the track sucks, it will be nice to have a competitive race with no travel this time of the year.

March 27th, 10:00am: Run From The Law 5K (multi terrain), Jordan’s Point Park, Lexington, VA (0 miles)
A very low-key race probably on the standard out and back Woods Creek Trail means up for the first half and down for the second half. A climb of 174 feet in a 5k means a 2.12% grade- certainly not enough for a mountain race but enough to make your 5k time pretty horrible.

March 27th, Montvale 10 Mile Trail Run, Montvale Park, Roanoke (area), VA (39 miles away)
A bit closer and later in the year than the Explore Your Limits 10km- plus a nice distance for this point in the season...

March 28th, 5-kilometer Torch Run for Special Olympics (multi terrain), Jackson Memorial Hall at VMI, Lexington, VA (0 miles away)
"Course: Challenging and scenic, a 5K course run on the pavement and dirt surface of the VMI campus and the Chessie Trail."

April 7th 4:30pm, Afternoon 5K, Jordan’s Point Park, Lexington, VA (0 miles)
A very low-key race probably on the standard out and back Woods Creek Trail see comments above.

April 10th 10:00am, RAOC 5K, Lexington, VA (0 miles away Jordan’s Point Park, Lexington, VA (0 miles)
A very low-key race probably on the standard out and back Woods Creek Trail see comments above.

April 17th, Mill Mountain Mayhem 10k, Mill Mountain Park, Roanoke, VA (52 miles)
This will probably be my first RNUTS race- it is during the break between winter and spring term and will be a nice chance to get out and race. Last year David Cheromei won by several minutes. He beat me at the Into the Darkness 4 Mile Night Trail Run last fall and his continuing presence in the area means that I could win any of the RNUTS races or lose any of them. By a lot.

May 1st Wintergreen Time Trial, (Hill Climb Championship) Wintergreen, VA (40 miles)
There are two races that I really want to do on May 1st and it will probably come down to what my x-training has been like in early 2010. If I have been doing a lot of cycling, I will probably do this race. I have done two other uphill road time trial races on my bike and I really enjoy them...

May 1st 10:00am 35th Annual Lexington Road & River Relay, Lexington, VA (0 miles)
If, on the other hand, I manage to get some time on the river, I would be more inclined to do the Road and River Relay. This is a "quadathlon" consisting of a short road run (4-5 miles), a short road ride (less than an hour), about 30 minutes of paddling, and a second run, this one a very short trail run (~2 miles). It sounds really fun and doing it would be great excuse to get out in a boat this winter.

May 28th Rock2Rock Trail 10k Camp Rockmont, Black Mountain, NC (280 miles)
This race has kicked off the La Sportiva Mountain Cup for the past two years; if it is part of the series this year, I will do it, if not, I will probably pass even though I would like to run it (I have heard nothing be good things about this race). I am still waiting to see if the La Sportiva Mountain Cup will be back again for its third year. I really wanted to run this series for the past two (injured) years and, if I can put together a run that does not create too ridiculous of a carbon footprint and the Mountain Cup is back in 2010, I will probably take a stab at it. With no announcement about the series, I am assuming that it will not be run this year.

June 5th, Trail Nut Half-marathon, Falling Creek Park, Bedford, VA (45 miles)
One more RNUTS race...

June 19th Mount Washington Road Race, Mount Washington, NH (?? miles)
This is the big one... ...and really needs no introduction.

View 2010 Racing in a larger map

Friday, January 29, 2010

Unsolicited Opinion: Empire Run Up: Part II

Back in 2004, I ran the Empire State Building Run-Up and I wrote an account of my experience there. The wide distribution of this account has, over the past few years, lead some perfectly reasonable yet woefully misinformed people to incorrectly assume that I was some sort of expert on all things Run-Up. Seriously, each year, a few people (who apparently skipped the part in the essay where I say that I suck at stair racing) contact me with requests for information about performing well at this race. I thought that, with the 2010 race fast approaching, I would write a post about my recommendations regarding preparing for, performing well, and recovering from the Empire State Building Run Up in list form ('cause I like lists).

1. Watch TiVo's video of the 2007 race: Tim went to the ESBRU a few years ago with high hopes. This video, in addition to showing those hopes being crushed, communicates the characteristic start of the men's elite heat better than words possibly could. If I was the RD for this race, the application would have a box that says "Have you seen TiVo's video of the 2007 race?" and if this box was not ticked, entry would be denied. By the way, "this man" mentioned in the video is former USATF Mountain Runner of the Year, Rickey Gates. Tim also has a video of the 2008 race, that is longer and involves a mechanical bull an an interview to multiple-time World Mountain Running Trophy winner, Marco De Gasperi (though, unfortunately, not at the same time).

2. Get your entry in early: The first year that I tried to run the ESBRU, I only contacted the organizers six weeks before the event. This was too late as the race was already full. Keep in mind that I was coming off of my seconds mountain runner of the year award at that point and was unable to get in. If you are not similarly credentialed, I would suggest entering as soon as you can.

3. Train generally: The most important components to performing well at a stairclimb race are going to be aerobic fitness, a high lactate threshold, and leg strength. Being in good 'running shape' is obviously a must for an event such as this.

4. Train specifically: If you look that the results from past ESBRU's entrants that are 'just' fast runners tend to not finish very high up in the results. The group of athletes that tends to do well consistently are mountain runners. Course record holder, Paul Crake was both an accomplished mountain runner and a professional cyclist. It's a good (and faily obvious) bet that the training that makes someone a good mountain runner translates well over to racing up stairs. As for the training that goes into making someone a good mountain runner, it seems to vary widely for every elite mountain runner that I have every met...

5. Train really specifically: The best way to get better at doing something is to do it; so, the best way to get better at stair climbing is to climb stairs. Most people do not have access to really tall buildings (like the Empire State Building) so this means stairwell repeats. Stair repeats will prepare you for the race in two ways. The first (and more obvious) way is that you will develop the muscles specific to running up stairs. The second (and somewhat less obvious) thing that the stairwell will do is that it will prepare you for the unfavorable indoor air conditions that you will encounter. Stairwell air is dry and often dusty and makes breathing during athletic exertion uncomfortable. You will still be coughing and hacking at the top of the ESB but this can be minimized if you work at pissing your lungs off in increasingly long increments. Also, don't even think that a StairMaster will prepare you for an event like this (beyond developing basic cardiovascular fitness- see #3).

6. Train really really specifically: In preparation for my attempt at the ESBRU, I did quite a bit of the stairwell training described in #5- five weeks of two to three hard stairwell repeat workouts per week. During my workouts, I would run at a hard but controlled pace (it took about two minutes to get to the top of my stairwell). I would turn the corners (two per flight) hard but I never once used the hand rails during my training. During the race, I used the hand rails extensively. Never mind that this was totally different than the training that I had done- it was clearly the optimal way to run the race. So, if I was preparing to perform well at a stair race, I would still do most of my repeats without the rails but I would add a few reps at the end of each workout where I practiced using the handrails.

7. Be prepared for the start: I do not really think that a person can really train for the start. The reaction time and sprint speed needed to reach a 36-inch wide door 40 feet into a race is something that you either have or you do not. You can optimized your chances for a good start somewhat (see #8 and #9) but, assuming that your start is not going to go well (as is the case for 95% of the first men's wave), you should at least be prepared for that. This means being prepared for two things. First your expectations about your performance should include the idea that your finish time might be effected (substantially) by a poor start. Second, the crush of humanity that occurs for all but the first few through the doorway is disturbing and uncomfortable. Even thought I was distracted by thoughts of being physically prevented from perusing my competitors, I was still aware of just how nasty this was. If this 'crush of humanity' actually appeals to you, please do not run the race. You are disgusting.

8. Get a low number: If you have not run the ESBRU or another high profile stair race before this will be difficult. Racers line up according to number if you are not in the first two rows see #7. I do not have any advice other than saying that unless you actually know someone in charge of assigning the numbers, you will probably have to run reasonably well off of a high number start position in order to get a lower number in later years.

9. Be a woman:
The women's field is much smaller than the men's and tends to be more spread out. This almost eliminates the chaos that is experienced by the men at the start of the race. Without the start and all of the problems that it presents, this would be a race that I would actually be interested in running again. Also, the women start first so they do not have the additional difficulty of having to pass the slower racers. While I have not actually run the women's race here (obviously) I have no question that theirs is a more positive experience.

10. Have fun after the race: I was so pissed off with my performance in the race that I was unable to enjoy the fact that NYC is a pretty cool place to visit. Granted it is wicked expensive but it is a unique place with plenty of cool things to see and see and do.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Unsolicited Opinion: Empire Run Up: Part I

Back in 2004, I ran the Empire State Building Run-Up and I wrote the story below about my experience there. This story, originally e-mailed to a few friends, got posted online somewhere and received some attention (people from Runner's World and Running Times contacted me about printing it). With the 2010 race coming up on February 2nd, I thought that I would post this since there are probable a few readers here that have not yet read it.

The Fleet Empire State Building Run-Up (FESBRU) is a race that I have wanted to run for a few years now. As a mountain runner, stair racing has intrigued me as a juxtaposition of the sacred and the profane. Mountain running is sacred. The races take place on courses that were, depending on your philosophical bent, created either by millions (or billions) of years of plate-tectonic-driven orogenic processes, God, or both. Race courses, as a matter of necessity, take competitors through unspeakable natural beauty and often finish in locales so perfect that one can't help but consider amending some future will in order to ensure that your ashes are one day scattered in such a place. Running inside, no matter what the occasion, is profane- even something so viscerally enlightening as the employ of nothing but muscle, sweat, and a little bit of luck to climb over 1000` in a matter of minutes. Actually, the lobby of the Empire State Building has some really nice granite and the view from the observation deck is unique, stunning, and, dare I say it, beautiful. In between lays a stairwell painted dark gray and a few service corridors whose design was not exactly aesthetic in its intent. The stair climb as an athletic event is thus an evolution toward purity. The mountain in the beauty void. Without the distraction of natural beauty, only pure effort and the singularity of getting to the top faster than anyone else remains. This is the intrigue- asking yourself for but a few minutes of shear, athletic aggression and expecting nothing in return.

The media frenzy surrounding this race in amazing. Admittedly, this was one major reason that I had wanted to run here. In the warm up area, one floor below ground level, there were a probably half a dozen cameras interviewing competitors. This was nothing compared to the scene in the lobby where bleachers were needed in order to accommodate all of the press. The winners were shown on CNN and countless major media outlets report on the race. USA Today even published an article in which they interviewed me regarding my training for the event. This, of course, was before it became public knowledge that I suck at stair racing.

Going into the race, I felt that greatest obstacles to my success were the start and the short duration of the event. The start is on the ground floor in the lobby with about 20 feet between the starting line and a single door leading into the stairwell. Race numbers one through ten had priority on the starting line; with number 41, I was very lucky to sneak a spot on the line to the extreme right side of the corridor. This was a big mistake. While I probably knew more about fluid dynamics that any of my competitors that day, I had not realized that this should have been a factor my choice of starting position. In a normal race, the field moves according to the decisions of individual competitors each of whom are trying to run the shortest allowable distance to the finish line. In the FESBRU, however, the field behaves as a Newtonian fluid wherein the flow velocity at the center of the flow conduit is double that of the average flow velocity. This is, of course, assuming laminar flow, which, it will soon be evident, was not entirely applicable to the situation. I do not remember anything between the blast of the starting horn and entering the stairwell. A well-timed photo from the NYCRR website indicated that numerous runners had already passed me in the first 5 feet of the race. Somehow, I managed to get to the bottom of the stairs halfway down in the field! After navigating my body through the doorway, I ran smack into the back of the runner in front of me. Instantly, the runner behind me ran into the back of me. It is at this point in the race, that the waiting begins. After running all out at the gun, the majority of the field than proceeds to stand still and wait for the congestion to clear sufficiently for forward motion to resume. This part of the race probably comprised less than one second; however, for those runners who's competitive nature has been sharpened by years of hard work (everyone in the race), the wait seems to take an eternity.

Finally, we were (physically) allowed to move forward. The next few minutes were filled with easy running as passing is very difficult. At this point, I was very discouraged about my chances of finishing well. Then, I looked up to see that race favorite (and eventual winner), Rudolf Reitberger was only two runners ahead of me. This convinced me that, despite what I thought was an awful start, I still had a chance to finish well since Reitberger had finished second in his previous two attempts at this race. The next few minutes of the race, I passed many competitors who had capitalized on a better-than-average lobby dash and were now victim to staggering levels of blood-borne lactic acid. Passing these runners was relatively easy despite the narrow (4 feet wide) width of the staircase as, by this time, I was moving considerably faster then they were. With every additional flight, however, passing became increasingly difficult. After six or seven minutes of running up stairs, I was not moving that much faster than the runners that I was passing. The last three or four times that I passed runners required several flights for me to completely get by. By this time, we had managed to work our way into the bulk of the women's field who had started five minutes in front of the first men's heat- adding significantly to the difficulty of navigating a race on stairs. With a few minutes to go, I had moved into third and was thoroughly dispirited as I could not see the leaders and time was running out. My last two passes had been extremely difficult (physically demanding and psychologically defeating) and I was completely fed up with the event and with my inability to deal with its rigors. The only runner to pass me during the race then came up behind me and repeatedly attempted to forcefully pass on the right (inside). After being shoved and yelled at for a few flights, I pulled wide on the landing and allowed him the opportunity to pass on the inside. This was another mistake. A few minutes prior, it had taken me five flights to finally pass this guy. When I did so, it was on the left (outside) with no assistance. In return, I endured a few shoves before entering into a nadir of apathy about the event and the nature of competition in general. This was the end of my race and I ran slowly to the top thinking about how much time and money had been wasted on the trip.

Before completing the event, I had said that to run well in the FESBRU would require 95% pure, mountain running fitness and 5% specific stair running ability. In hindsight, I would change that to 75% pure mountain running fitness (the winner, after all, was an accomplished mountain runner- a member of the Austrian national team), 5% specific stair running ability, and 20% ability to pass people on a four-foot-wide staircase while maintaining focus on the race at hand (to word it a politely as possible). I work hard year-around on the first 75% and, for eight workouts this January, I worked pretty hard on the middle 5% by running as many as 10 repeats of our 29-story campus library in the course of a single session. I could probably work to improve my standing by focusing on that last 20% but I would view preparing for this event the same way that I would view training for running fast down a steep incline. There is no way to properly prepare for running extremely fast downhill except to do it in a race. No matter how hard I try, I am never going to run as fast down a hill in training as I will during an important race. Likewise, there is no way that I would subject myself to the sort of situations that would allow me to train for 11 minutes of extreme unpleasantness. Short of attending a Who concert or waiting for DVD players to go on sale at the local Wal-Mart, I wouldn't even know how to go about it.

Such is the nature of the event. The FESBRU is the oldest, most prestigious, and greatest stairclimbing race in the world. Part of this race and its honorable tradition is the lobby start and the utter craziness that its competitors must endure in an attempt to win it. Tradition is an important thing in racing and I hope that 26 years from now, the FESBRU is using the same course, the same starting procedure, and the same observation deck finish. Meanwhile, I will be looking for columnar joints in basalt, dragonflies, and columbines during my races.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Training Update 20

Monday J4: AM 1:20 elliptical- 8.22 "miles" in first 60 min (far right back row); 10km rowing 43:58

Tuesday J5: AM 1:37 running- out and back on the Chessie Trail- still icy

Wednesday J6: AM 1:20 elliptical- 6.80 "miles" in first 60 min (far left back row); 10km rowing in 43:56 PM 0:30 running- around Lex in the dark

Thursday J7: AM 1:34 running- out and back on the Chessie Trail- somehow even slipperier than it was on Tuesday... PM 0:30 running- around Lex in the dark

Friday J8: AM 10km rowing in 42:44; 1:20 indoor cycling PM 0:30 running- around Lex in the dark

Saturday J9: AM 2:00 running- out and back on the Chessie Trail

Sunday J10: AM 1:36 running- out and back on the Chessie Trail

Weekly Totals:
8:17 running (57% of total)
1:20 cycling (9% of total)
4:48 elliptical and rowing (32 % of total)
Total: 14:59)

Comments: I had one week in Lex before classes started and it was nice to have the gym open (and pretty quiet). I started some rowing and elliptical work and ran up and down the Chessie trail for my 'real' runs or around the streets of Lex in the dark for a few shorter runs. The Trails here are really icy in places right now and it did not get above freezing at all this week so there was no change throughout the week. Basically, I have stretches of nice (hard) dirt where I can haul interspersed with icy stretches where I have to really slow down and be careful. This means that each run has been a bit of a impromptu fartlek. Running in VA this week actually made me miss January running Vermont (central VT, by the way had the best winter-time running of anywhere I have lived with the exception of Yorkshire).

Monday J11: PM 1:20 indoor cycling + 10km rowing in 42:43

Tuesday J12: PM 0:45 running- around Lex

Wednesday J13: PM 1:35 running- out and back on the Chessie Trail

Thursday J14: AM 1:30 running- out and back on the Chessie Trail

Friday J15: PM 1:36 running- out and back on the Chessie Trail

Saturday J16: AM 1:30 running- out and back on the Chessie Trail

Sunday J17: AM 1:38 running- out and back on the Chessie Trail

Weekly Totals:
8:34 running (81% of total)
1:20 cycling (13% of total)
0:42 rowing
Total: 10:36

Comments: Not a bad week for the first week of classes. The major casualty was my x-training. The Chessie trail is getting better (less icy) everyday but there is still enough ice that I am not hitting Back Campus yet (I can deal with icy and flat but icy and hilly is more problematic). With all of the melting, this has been a good week for the 318 GTX. The pic is was taken on a bike ride in Rockbridge County back in December. Can anyone guess why I took the picture?

Friday, January 8, 2010

One more round

Well, it's that time of year again- time to apply for a job. For the past three years, I have worked as a temporary instructor of some incarnation (Lecturer or Visiting Assistant Professor). This means that I teach full time for a college or university under a one-year (of nine-month) contract. During the my last round of applications, I applied to eleven colleges and universities in CO, WY, NM, TX, PA, TN, CT, WA, and Asia before ending up in Lexington (VA). That's right one of the positions for which I applied for the 2009-2010 academic year listed only the continent (it was a program that provides university-level instruction on US military bases, apparently in Asia). This time around, I have started the application season with ten applications only three of which are for permanent positions (shown in blue below). I will update the map as appropriate. Wish me luck...

View 2010 apps in a larger map

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

I am with inov-8 in 2010

You have probably already heard, but inov-8 (pronounced 'innovate' for those of you who have difficulty with these things) has announced its team of sponsored athletes and happy to report that I am on the list. This will be my fourth year of sponsorship with the small British-owned maker of high-performance offroad footwear. For those of you who know me well (or those of you who are really obsessive about following the obscure sport of mountain running), you know that my last two years have been typified by biomechanical difficulties related to a knee injury that (may have) required surgery in the summer of 2008. Needless to say, my racing during the past few years has been almost non-existent and, when I have raced, it has been, um, not fast. Any sponsor would have been completely justified in dropping me like a thing that gets dropped quickly and I am pleased that those in charge of dispersing the sponsorship resources at inov-8 have decided to take the long-term approach to my sponsorship on the gamble that I will actually be able to run quickly in 2010. I thank the inov-8 company for its generosity and loyalty. My bio on the team blog can be found here.

DoubleJ has a similar post here. Congratulations.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Training Update 19

Well, it has been a while since my last post on training but this being the new year and all...

Monday D28: AM 1:20 running- with K on the roads of Battle Creek- probably the last time that I will run with another human for a while.

Tuesday D29: PM 2:10 running- Littlefield Road and Deerfield Park (near Mount Pleasant, MI)- poor surface conditions

Wednesday D30: PM 1:00 snowshoeing- around my parent's property (near MP)- possibly my only snowshoe of the season?

Thursday D31: PM 2:20 running- Littlefield Road and Deerfield Park (near Mount Pleasant, MI)- poor surface conditions

Friday J1: PM 1:30 running- 1:15 outside (combination of snow, mud, and grass), 0:15 stairs

Saturday J2: AM 1:30 running- ran Back Campus but it got down to ~13F last night (it was in the high 30s yesterday) and the trails were icy, crusty, and all around nasty- felt terrible, just terrible

Sunday J3: AM 1:36 running- Chessie Trail out and back- felt better but still not great

Total: 11:26- All running

Comments: One more week of nothing but running... All of the runs in MI were pretty bad due to the surface conditions. In the past, I have not minded the icy dirt roads of Deerfield Township but for some reason, they were really slippery this year. Really, the only day that I felt good was Sunday- there are a few clear stretches along the Chessie Trail and it felt really good to feel some dirt under my feet. Next week, the gym will be open and I can get back to some x-training. Yea! The picture to the right was taken on a ride near Goshen Pass- on one of my last rides before the break (and the largest snowstorm to hit Rockbridge County in the past 13 years.