Sunday, November 16, 2014

Summary Nov 10-16

Monday November 10, AM 3 Miles, 151' 23m16s
Short shake-out type thing. Legs haven't fully recovered from the previous Saturday's abuse... I might still be able to grind out a 4+ hour run, but recovering from it is another story.
PM Bike, 47m34s
Local neighborhood bike ride, figured I'd take 'Zilla out for what is probably the last ride of the season.

Tuesday November 11, AM 7 Miles, 663' 55m46s
Overall a really desultory local road loop out my front door. I'd been foolishly hoping that a couple of days of light running/XT would give my legs ample opportunity to recover, but the reality is that the ability to grind day in and day out is probably my biggest indicator of fitness, and is sorely missing right now.
PM Climbing 2.5hrs
Headed over to the rock gym with Zach. Spent most of the time bouldering and learning better ways to do a sport that I'm admittedly pretty terrible at (perhaps why I'm so intrigued by it right now).

Wed Nov 12, 10 Miles, 879' 1h21m
Another grindtastic day. First time in recent memory that I can recall seriously considering walking some road uphills. Suffering from a really general lack of strength, and inability to climb in any way becoming of a runner.

Thurs Nov 13 AM, 10 Miles, 896' 1h15m
Lunch-time run with Jay. Surprisingly peppy after a few days of grind, especially when I think about how I walked down the stairs in the morning. Sometimes you just need a bit of companionship to get the pop back into your legs.
PM 3.1 Miles, 148' 27m49s
Shakeout-like modified broken-shin loop with the highlands hashers.

Fri Nov 14, AM 3.5 Miles, 568' 32m17s
Figured I'd hit up the power-lines with the fresh inch or so of powder on the ground. Awful time gaining purchase on the inclines combined with the shitty legs I've had all week made for a much slower than anticipated outing.
PM Climbing 1 Hour

Saturday Nov 15, 13.5 Miles, 3120' 2h33m
DunCreek TH>Tammany Via Red dot>Sunfish>DunCreek>Tammany>TH. Very mercurial outing at the Water Gap. Legs were a lot less peppy than I would have liked, and the fresh coating of snow made for a lot of questionable footing.

Sunday Nov 16, 3 Miles, 161' 21m42s
Another shake-out run... I felt really good out the door, but I was reminded of the latent fatigue in my legs within a mile or so... Ugh, failing to recover any sort of leg peppiness is getting tiresome.
PM Climbing 1 Hour

Totals 53 Miles, 6585' 7h50m

Overall not a bad week. It's remarkably comforting to be back in the "regular" grind of things, and while there's still a lot of miles ahead of me, it's nice to feel like I'm finally able to put some behind as well. I may have been a little over-exuberant in last weekends efforts, at least relative to my body's ability to recover, an ability whose diminution I'm acutely aware of....






Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Summary November 3-9

Monday November 3, PM 3 Miles 200' 21m21s
Generally Lethargic post-work outing. Monday's are trending towards relatively lazy runs as a result of residual running fatigue from the weekend combined with my unreasonably early wake-up call to start the work week.

Tuesday November 4, AM 10 Miles, 863' 1h15m
I was lucky enough to be able to work from home, so I sent a text message to my friend Jay (who also works remotely) to see if he wanted to snag some midday miles. It turns out that Jay's out-the-front-door 10 miler is a lot hillier than mine.
PM Climbing Gym 1 Hour
I recently joined the local climbing gym, and have been making an effort to drop in as often as I can. Of course with my current (lack of) climbing fitness, an hour is about as long as I can continue to climb before my arms/hands start failing.

Wed Nov 5, AM 7 Miles, 653' 54m33s
Mid-week grind sesh. Dead legs, and generally pretty tired, It's obviously been too long since I've managed to maintain any sort of day-in day-out consistency, and the 10+7 kind of got to me
PM Climbing Gym 1 Hour
Didn't feel sore all day, so I figured back to back climbing days would be fine/fun... turns out that routes I could climb easily yesterday are near impossible today.

Thurs Nov 6, PM 8.1 Miles, 506' 1h1m
Broken-shin and a half with Jason Dave and Jeff. Stopped the watch to collect the guys for the usual 5 miler, which made things look a little goofy on strava. Started out feeling reasonably tired, and heavy-legged, but the final five miler turned into more of a fartlek than a recovery run, or at least the perceived effort seemed like it

Fri Nov 7, 3 Miles, 157' 21m35s
Easy day shakeout before the inevitable Saturday long-run.

Sat Nov 8, 22.7 Miles, 4623' 4h13m
Sometime in the middle of the week I got a text from Eric asking if I'd be interested in a 20-25 mile outing at the Delaware Water Gap. Normally, considering that my longest "run" since May has been in the 15 mile range, I would decline something this foolish, but it turn out that the Auto-Correct on my phone changes "that's probably not the best idea" into "count me in" someone needs to fix that bug in iOS 8..... We took the longer/less steep blue trail up Tammany, passed a few people running the DWG 50K before taking the fire road out behind Sunfish Pond, and finishing the day with back to back ascents on Minsi and Tammany again via the AT and Red dot trails respectively. Much to my surprise my legs felt reasonably solid all day, and my energy levels were much more consistent than I would have expected considering how long it's been since I've put out any real  long efforts on the trails.

Sun Nov 9, 6.2 Miles, 823'1h
Oih, tired today. Legs felt surprisingly solid, very little residual soreness, but generally lacking strength, especially on climbs. Otherwise, I just felt well.... tired, and rounding out the 10K was all I could really muster out of myself for the morning....

Totals: 60 Miles, 7825' 9h7m

This is the first week since April that I've managed to string together consistent daily mileage without re-aggravating any lingering dings or niggles. While I know that 60 miles over 7 days is still a sub-maximal effort, I'm glad to recognize that I've got a reasonable base right now, which will give me something to build on for the 2015 racing season. After close to 5 months of inconsistent mileage, aches, niggles, and fear of re-aggravating old injuries, the familiar indicators of training are a comfort; walking down the stairs sideways in the morning, eating as if one of your legs is hollow, or even the most banal: sleeping through the night uninterrupted. While it's obvious to me that I have some serious work to do to get back to top shape, having some consistency right now feels like a major victory.


Tammany with Eric Photo courtesy of random Stranger-Girl
Crossing the River
Summit of Minsi. Photo courtesy of Eric Ashley
Looking West off of Tammany


Post-run recovery with some BioSkins. Photo courtesy of Eric Ashley
Sunday Allamuchy






Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Rising from the ashes

For the first time since May, I'm finally feeling like myself in my running shoes. This is perhaps a slight exaggeration; I'm still substantially over race weight, don't really have any long legs yet, and seem to have forgotten how to pace myself for anything lasting more than 2 hours.Considering the past several months however, I'll take what I can get. Injuries are... a bitch. Not only do you suffer the inevitable insult of not being able to run for whatever length of time it takes to resolve the affliction, each progressive day without training leads to atrophy and apathy, making getting things going again only that much harder. In my head, the whole getting back "into shape" bit turns into a downward spiral of not wanting to train because you're "out of shape" (this is a relative term) which only results in being more "out of shape" causing me to want to train less, which inevitably ends up with me sitting on my couch, fueled by Dominoes and Bulleit while trying to convince my friends that at one point I was a competitive runner.

My most recent bout of injury-induced sloth, was, according to my Physio, a result of high-mileage and an atrophied VMO which manifested itself as IT Band pain on my left leg. So, after about 5 weeks of doing exceptionally un-sexy exercises the pain went away, but the damage was done... almost 2 months lost (after you consider how long it took me to go see a physio) plus an underlying fear of pushing things too soon, and ending up doing even more lunges/small squats instead of running.

Obviously, any sort of injury-setback is less than ideal, it disrupts your life, training, racing, and in my case, usually my general happiness as well. But there is usually a silver lining as well. Injuries present an opportunity to learn. Learn about your body, your musculature, your gait, and why things have gone wrong. Armed with this information, we can prevent, or at the very least intervene earlier, to stay healthier longer.

As for the present, I'm rather bullish about 2015. I've finally got some legs under me, and plans laid out to keep them there. I'm also proud to announce that I've recently become an ambassador for BioSkin and have been using their calf sleeves for recovery the past few weeks with incredible results. While I'm still figuring out my 2015 schedule, I'm sure that it will at the very least include The North Face ECSNY (Jordan I think it's your turn to bring a headlamp?) and most likely the Whiteface Sky Marathon. Also on my short list are the Tammany 10, UTHC, TNF Ontario, and maybe a 100 stuck in there somewhere.

Also, notice the new blog layout, you can follow me on Strava as Andrew Siegmund,  on Twitter @SiegmundRuns and on Instagram @Siegmundruns.
Allamuchy, One day I'll start actually tallying these...

Obligatory 'Muchy Shot

Looking West

Never Gets Old

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Hiking

Mountains should be climbed with as little effort as possible and without desire. The reality of your own nature should determine the speed. If you become restless, speed up. If you become winded, slow down. You climb the mountain in an equilibrium between restlessness and exhaustion. Then, when you're no longer thinking ahead, each footstep isn't just a means to an end but a unique event in itself. This leaf has jagged edges. This rock looks loose. From this place the snow is less visible, even though closer. These are things you should notice anyway. To live only for some future goal is shallow. It's the sides of the mountain which sustain life, not the top. Here's where things grow. But of course, without the top you can't have any sides. It's the top that defines the sides.”

--Robert Pirsig

In the past several years of running pursuits it seems that I've to an extent lost touch with the real reason for going into the woods. Running is of course, enjoyable in its own right, and I by no means intend to diminish my love of the sport, or the races that exist on the terrain that so compels me. Instead I intend to embrace the realization that I've been training for the sole purpose of competition, and not for the sake of training itself, and these two views needn't be mutually exclusive. 

The last week of August I received a text message from Steve wondering if I wanted to go to the White Mountains for a few days over Labor Day weekend. Little did he know that I had already reserved a camp site with the intention of doing some running/hiking/sleeping trail-side to clear my head after a summer almost entirely devoid of the activity. 

Steve had run his 100 mile debut at Leadville 2 weeks prior, and had invited his friend Bradley, with the main intention of hiking the Presidential Traverse. I added my old college buddy Marcus, and his co-worker Jed to set off on what turns out is my first pure hiking trip since 2011. The Presidential Traverse allows hikers to spend the majority of their day above treeline while bagging arguably the most iconic peaks that the range has to offer, all while being incredibly technical, and accumulating 7000-9000' of ascent over 22 miles. 

It's important to be clear that while we were hiking throughout the trip, we still maintained a running-oriented aesthetic, travelling lighter than most hikers traditionally would, and moving comparatively fast. Considering this, spending 8+ hours above treeline, moving at a relatively leisurely pace, eating "real" food (okay, nutella and tortilla is probably not a great example of real food, but compared to my running habit of gels-only it's a major upgrade) and being able to chat and joke all day was a welcome refresher from the huff, puff, grunt and groan of the true mountain run. 

Moving at a pace designed with the sole intention of enjoying the space you're in is strangely liberating. The camera beckons more, the lichens on the rocks speak differently, chatting with strangers is suddenly not an annoyance, but simply something you do. The lack of a goal (other than perhaps, reaching the bar before the kitchen closes) changes the entire dynamic of the adventure, reminding you that you're doing this for the sake of doing it, not to win races, not to look better naked, not to win the adoring hearts of women and pets, but to simply exist in a rugged environment.

In one of the more recent TNF vignettes, Rory Bosio says that if you're doing it right, training shouldn't feel like training, it should feel like vacation. I've seemed to lose track of this, concerning myself too much with the statistical side of my running, getting frustrated with myself on days where my legs refuse to allow me to run up a given incline, or across particularly technical terrain. But in reality there's a validity to hiking, it's a necessity in almost all ultra-marathons (or at least in almost all of the races that I'm eyeing). Hiking up hills is an acquired skill that must be practiced, and the descent can be a clinic in foot placement. Most overlooked however, is that hiking, whether for the sole sake of it, or part of a training regimen, or even sometimes because that's the fastest your body will allow you to travel is good for the soul, a proper recharge, or chance to hit the reset button and evaluate your priorities in both your athletic and regular life. 

Photo Courtesy of Bradley Barr

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Bear Mountain 50 Mile Race Report 2014

2:45AM and my alarm is screaming it's far-too-familiar xylophone ring-tone that I've specifically reserved for wake up calls. It's time to roll out of bed, and start getting ready for a 50 mile run through the inevitably soaking wet trails in Bear Mountain State Park. Dave, Sean and I had booked the "official" race hotel this year, which besides just being plain nicer than the fleabags we'd stayed in previously, was exceptionally well equipped at 3AM with hot coffee, granola bars, and myriad treats to chow down on before leaving for the race. So, I had my typical cup of coffee, a small bowl of oatmeal with some Udo's Oil, and double-checked my kit, which consisted of 4 gels, one handheld filled with plain water, about 15 S! Caps, a few Tums, a Singlet, Split Shorts, MT110's, a Buff, and my Sunglasses.

After sitting around at the start line for a little less than an hour, 5AM finally struck, and the race was underway. I immediately settled in with the lead pack from the beginning, taking advantage of Jeff's super-bright headlamp since mine had effectively died immediately at the starting line(and Jordan was pretty confident that the lamp would be superfluous anyway). The lead group of roughly 10 men ran surprisingly comfortable through the first aid station, and didn't actually seem to start pushing the pace until the first road section, wherein things got decidedly quick in a hurry. I managed to stay with the leading men through the second aid station, and perhaps a bit afterwards before I decided that it would be best to stay within myself for the majority of the day, and at this point, continuing to run with the leaders would surely result in a pretty hard blowup.
Jordan McDougal, Jeff Gosselin and Myself in the early morning
After watching the lead pack slowly gain some distance on me, I began to really find my stride, and much more fully-embrace my tendency to power-hike steep inclines, and make up the difference on the downhill. The course had deviated some from the previous years, trading some technical single track and steep inclines for rocky double track, but the primary difference was the water. Having gotten ~1.5 inches of rain in the days prior to the race, there was practically no section of trail on the course where you could expect even a modicum of dryness.  For the next 10 or so miles, I found myself completely contained within my own head, never really running with anyone, and working my hardest to maintain a consistent effort, never letting myself get too excited, or too low. Most frustratingly however, coming into aid station 6 I was expecting to see my drop bag, which contained little more than a stick of body-glide, which I felt desperately in need of, but it wasn't there yet, forcing me to ditch my singlet and grind on for another 7 miles hoping it would be there for my second pass. During those miles a never-ending side stitch began to develop, which I initially thought was salt-related, but upon further thought I've realized is a result of fatigue related to cross-training oversights (note: do more core work), but things rarely got bad enough to create the true sort of desperation I usually experience in the middle miles of a long race.
.25 Miles into the course...
The second pass through the aid station provided my much needed opportunity to re-lube my thighs, fill up my bottle, grab a couple of  gels and head back into the woods, wherein a decidedly bad report by one of the volunteers informed me that I was the "30something runner" through this point (I think he had been counting people starting the loop, not finishing the loop).

For the next several miles of meandering single and double track, I found my energies waning, and my side-stitch only seeming to get worse, taking a lot of pop out of my stride, especially since excluding last years TNFEC race I've not experienced this sort of discomfort.

Around Mile 34 things took a turn decidedly for the better when I was caught up to by the women's leader Rory Bosio. After rather creepily announcing "I know you!" followed by an apology for being creepy, which included several backpedaling sentences about how I'm not actually that creepy, but you know, she's kind of well known in circles of people who follow ultrarunning etc etc etc, we latched into the same pace, and began grinding our way back to Anthony Wayne. Rory's presence was truly a game-changer, especially after having spent the majority of the day alone, and knowing that there was at least another 10K until I could pick up Jayson, having her as an indefatigable chatterbox was a breath of fresh air, as well as a brilliant opportunity to learn from one of the great ultrarunners.

Running into Anthony Wayne, and seeing both Jayson and Alli waiting for me was and incredible pick-me-up, especially since Jayson arriving as a pacer was a very much last minute addition to my race plans. What I didn't anticipate at all was the intimacy with which Jayson knows the last 10 miles of the course, seemingly every 100 feet he had an observation, and directions as to what would be coming up next, as well as our best plan of action for attacking different sections of trail, and especially how to attack the intimidating Timp Pass. From the moment I picked up Jayson I was relieved of all decision making processes, directed when to drink, eat, run, hike, breathe, and heckle Rory as we continued to yo-yo eachother for the last ten miles of the course. When we finally came upon Timp Pass, Jayson's planning started to become obvious, we had closed the gap on a few more runners, and found ourselves grinding up the hill, only to barrel down the super-steep technical backside, effectively putting the screws to the couple of runners we had passed on the ascent. We then blew right through the final aid station, knowing it was less than 5K to the finish, and that things had been going well enough that I could relatively comfortably run those last few miles without any additional fluid or calories. 8h20m from the start of the race I crossed the finish line with Jayson, and Rory a mere 16 seconds behind, landing me in 14th place overall, with a 43m35s PR on course.


Jayson, Rory and Myself at the finish

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Summary April 7-13

Monday April 7, 7 Miles 466' 53m8s
Relatively stiff dead-legged shakeout. Saturday's effort didn't leave me as knackered as I originally anticipated, but there's definitely some residual fatigue kicking around in my legs.
PM 1 Mile, 7m45s
Post-work shakeout on the suffer-machine, hoping to move the blood around and get some pop back for tomorrow.

Tuesday April 8, 9.7 Miles, 3537' 2h1m
Three loops around Tammany, experimenting with some "euro" rules (cutting switchbacks etc). Generally awful legs, I felt pretty resilient on the downhill, but overall pep-less for the inclines. I also forgot how uncomfortable a hard workout can be on decidedly un-recovered legs.

Wed April 9, 10 Miles 571' 1h15m
Typical neighborhood road-loop through town. Pressed for time between jobs, still feeling rather fatigued.

Thurs April 10, 10 Miles, 1319' 1h27m
Allamuchy: Waterloo TH>White>Yellow>White>Green>SSX>Iron Mine>SSX>TH. Attempting a near-race-pace effort on a reasonably similar course on tired legs. Overall a successful effort, but again, still noticing the fatigue (this is a deliberate trend...).
PM 8 Miles, 530' 64m
Modified Broken Shin loop with the guys, trying to generally take it easy and not push anything.

Fri April 11, 10.3 Miles, 1227' 1h25m
Double-Powerline loop. All that my log book says is "worst legs to date, taking it "easy."" In hindsight, still a respectable effort, and considering my upcoming race schedule, it's probably been a good idea to really get some grind-time in.

Sat April 12, 12 Miles, 248' 1h23m
2 Mile Warm-up followed by 10 Miles of MP progression. Last 3 mile splits were 6:37, 6:18 and 6:20 respectively. Unsurprisingly fatigued legs considering the trend throughout the week, which of course was by no means a recommended way to start a hard workout. Although, encouragingly enough, the last time I did this particular workout with the same guys, we were ~20 seconds/mile slower in the last 5k, and I was noticeably suffering, whereas this time around, even with the faster pace, and arguably much more tired legs, I finished stronger. 2 Miles, Shakeout, 16m01s
PM 4 Miles, 528' 42m
Desultory outing at Allamuchy. Hoping to put in substantially more mileage at a rather relaxed pace, but instead dealt with the worst feeling legs I can recall, period.

Sun April 13, 10 Miles, 991' 1h23m
Tourne loops in between jobs, nice to feel the sun on my back (although my sunburned shoulders may disagree)
PM 2 Miles Barefoot 16m19s

Totals: 86.1 Miles, 9,314'12h13m

Very much a mercurial week, especially since I basically felt like shit for the entire duration. I'm rather pleased with the consistency of my shorter efforts, while equally displeased with my inability to string together quite enough climb, or quite a long enough run this close to my next race. Saturday was kind of a bust, having to bisect my day with teaching, and I'm not wholly sure that running hard in the morning was the best idea, especially considering the flat/fast nature of the workout. What I can say however, is that with the amount of residual fatigue in my legs beginning the run, I've not felt that sort of discomfort/desperation outside of a racing situation period, and there has to be some sort of advantage to that.



Monday, April 7, 2014

Summary March 31 - April 6

Mon March 31, 7 Miles, 459' 51m9s
First "real" run since coming down with an unusually aggressive stomach-virus the previous Thursday. Still feeling marginally weak, with the sensation that my stomach could only hold a few ounces of food/liquid combined without being knotted up.
PM 1 Mile, 7m30s Treadmill session after work, stomach faring substantially worse.

Tues April 1, 9.4 Miles, 3547' 1h55m
Three anti-clockwise trips up and down Mt. Tammany. Overall a relatively consistent/substantial effort on the mountain, especially considering the havoc that the winter had wreaked on both my access to technical ascents/descents and my overall vertical gain. My stomach was still showing signs of the weekends distress, evidenced by its reluctance to take in food/water, but even with some mild bonking I'm really happy with the performance of my legs.

Wed April 2, 10.3 Miles, 1217' 1h24m
Power-line trails in the late AM. I was wholeheartedly expecting my legs to be completely shot after Tuesday's vertical fiasco, but other than some very generalized soreness, the whole kinetic chain was functioning properly and without complaint. I probably should have pushed a lot harder, but just wasn't seeing the point  of it... some general mental fatigue combined with a little prudence yielded a much more compassionate pace.
PM 2.5 Miles, H20 Treadmill, 20m
Unusually grinding effort, typically I feel rather free taking advantage of the underwater treadmills at work, but today everything just felt kind of sloppy/difficult.

Thurs April 3, 14 Miles, 988' 1h45m
Kind of a modified Broken-Shin-esque outing from Morris Ave. Ran into Dave a few miles in, and talked him into joining me for the remainder of my primary loop before meeting up with the rest of the guys for the usual 7pm jaunt. I decided to pick things up in the middle of the typical 5 miler, rounding down into the low 6:00 range for a couple of miles to generally see how my legs would respond to some up-tempo running with some substantial residual fatigue and found that in actuality, it was pretty effortless.

Fri April 4, 11 Miles, 314' 1h26m
Generally a desultory outing, mist/rain combined with a complete lack of pop in my legs pretty much guaranteed a pretty miserable experience. I could probably justifiably blame some of the shittiness on the knowledge that Saturday was going to provide great weather, and my longest outing of the year (providing some incentive to take things lighter) but really it was just a crappy day to be outside, and a crappy day to be using my body for running.

Sat April 5, 25 Miles, 5279' 4h33m
Dunnfield Creek>Tammany>Sunfish Pond>Dunnfield Creek>Minsi>Tammany>Dunnfield Creek>Tammany>Dunnfield Creek. Probably the most technically demanding and vertical intensive course I could imagine without putting some serious mileage on my car as well. The initial ascent, was only 28 seconds slower than my PR(18:18 as opposed to 17:50), but felt pretty awful, and generally speaking it took a solid hour before I began to really find any sense of rhythm. Once I managed to settle in, things began to flow a lot better, and even exerting maximal effort seemed not just right, but compulsory.
Sun April 6, 6 Miles, 420' 46m35s
Shakeout, not overly sore, but generally a perfunctory effort. Suffering from some indigestion (Falafel was a bad idea) and generally feeling fatigued.

Totals: 86.2 Miles, 12,254' 13h10m

An exceptionally productive week. Running in the mountains again I'm constantly reminded of the flow that we seek in every single outing, that perfect synergy of mind and body wherein comfort transcends the physical, and becomes a sensation of rightness, of total immersion in the activity at hand, a place where the tedious and the sublime hold equal levels of importance. Long days in the mountains are nothing if not an intense self-examination of experiencing a moment with full attention.