Friday, December 23, 2011

Running Goals for 2012

2011 was a bit of an up and down year for me running-wise. It started out very promising. A winter of base building (long runs) and strength training (snowshoe racing) left me primed for some early season road PR's. I ended up having a couple of good races and then promptly tore my hamstring in April. 

For the initial recovery, it took about 2 months before I could start training full-time again and then another 2 months to get myself back into reasonable racing shape. I had a couple of OK races in September as I built up my speed. But, from early October until now it's been one hamstring set-back after another.

Fortunately, with some deep tissue massage, active release therapy, graston technique and some core exercises I believe I have my latest hamstring issues solved. Or, at least solved enough to start setting some goals and making a plan for the New Year. With that in mind (and tempting fate beyond belief) below are my running goals for 2012:

Training Goals:
  • Stay injury free for the duration of 2012.
  • Get my weight below 180 (184 currently) and keep it there for the year.
  • Add more (and varied) cross training exercises to my training routine.
  • Learn to swim. Not just treading water, but proper swimming technique.

    Racing Goals:
    • Compete in my first duathlon race.
    • Complete my first 50 mile race.
    • Become an Iron-Runner by running each of the 7 NEGP races
    • Win a race - of any distance.

      Time Goals:
      • 1m: 5:10 
      • 5k: 17:30 (5:38) 
      • 5m: 29:00 (5:48) 
      • 10k: 36:30 (5:54) 
      • 10m: 1:02:00 (6:12) 
      • 1/2m: 1:22:00 (6:16) 
      • Mar: 3:00:00 (6:52)

        So there it is. In black and white.

        Now all that's left to do is make it happen ...

          Tuesday, November 29, 2011


          I really love running on the trails this time of year. All the leaves have fallen and are blanketing the brown & dirty ground. The sun is low in the sky but shines brightly through the leafless forest canopy. It’s crisp and cold but the snow has yet to arrive. Cross country season is over but snowshoe season is still a month away. It’s like trail running’s “curtain call” before the snow and ice of winter make the trails impassable (save for snowshoes) over the next few months.

          I’m particularly fortunate this time of year to have a wonderful system of trails right outside my daytime door. A patchwork of Conservation Land, Wildlife Refuges, and Town Forests just across the street from where I work in Carlisle, MA. The trails system I run on stretches along the west side of the Concord River from Route 225 in the South up to Treble Cove Road in the North and includes land parcels named Foss Farm, Great Meadows and The Greenough Land.

          Tuesday, November 8, 2011

          Couples Therapy

          Oh, Trail Running! Why do you hate me so! Today’s hidden trip, slimy-root slip, knee smash, face-plant in the mud on my lunch-time run was totally uncalled for. I know our relationship can be Rocky at times but this latest abuse is the last straw! That’s it, Trail Running. I’m walking out on you!

          Wednesday, October 26, 2011

          A Rocky Road to Fitness

          Yo, Taxi!
          As a runner who is constantly looking to push the boundaries of my fitness, I sometimes find myself becoming injured. Unfortunately, those injuries seem to be coming more frequently as I age. As a result, I’ve been spending a lot more of my time lately cross training instead of actually running. And, while I do enjoy sitting for hours upon hours on my comfy bike seat, after a while it leaves me wanting something more. So, recently I decided to take a page from the Italian Stallion himself and do some Extreme Cross Training!

          Most runners are probably all too familiar with traditional cross training such as swimming, biking & weight lifting. However, these methods can only take you so far. Fortunately, that’s where the patented Rocky routine comes in handy! And, as we’ve seen in countless movies, it only takes a few minutes to get in really, really great shape. Because, as everyone knows, Sly Stallone spends 95% of the Rocky sequels messing around and only about 5% of his time actually training. But, to his credit, he usually does it to a really cool soundtrack!

          You're a bum
          Now, I know what you’re saying, “What if I can’t find a flock of chickens or a side of beef to train with, but I still feel the overwhelming desire to eat lightning & crap thunder”? Well, fear not! You can start building some “hurtin’ bombs” today simply by following my easy plan to “Extreme Cross Training – The Rocky Way”. So without further ado, here is a summary of Rocky’s best training methods (from easiest to most difficult) with Domestic Equivalents (things you can easily do around the house) for those weekend warriors who are meat or poultry challenged.

          Tuesday, October 18, 2011

          All Crossed Up

          The cool crisp air, the brightening trees, the amber fields and, the dew-soaked grass. To most people, these are sure signs of Fall. But to runners, these autumnal images can only mean one thing - cross country season is finally here! From the long, thin starting line, to the clusters of color-coded runners. From the leaf covered paths to the scattering of orange marking flags strewn along the course. Nothing gets your competitive juices flowing like a good, old-fashioned cross country meet!

          The thrill of the chase
          Cross-country running is perhaps the oldest sport known to man, reaching back to our ancestral hunters and gatherers, messengers in ancient Rome, and the pursuits of excellence in the early Olympic Games. Unique in its team concept, cross-country racing affords the camaraderie of teammates while testing one’s own limits in running over hill & dale, through forested trails, across farmers’ fields and over rocks, mud & hay bales.

          Oftentimes, we reach a plateau in our road running - where merely putting one foot in front of the other on the same road, day after day, mile after mile, no longer gives us the “runner’s high” we once felt. A special feeling comes to harriers who have pushed themselves to the limits, on a hilly course, in extreme weather, with their team depending on their effort & result. For many, cross-country running can present a whole new challenge. So this year, I decided to take that challenge and mix some XC races into my usual autumn running routine.

          Monday, October 3, 2011

          Hanging Tuff

          Riding high on the comeback wave I headed down to Saugus last weekend for the Tuff Ten Trail Race. Wait?! A trail race in Saugus!? Who knew Saugus had trails?! Yup, right off Route 1. Just past the “Ship” and the “Leaning Tower of Pizza” is Breakheart Reservation. A 640-acre hardwood forest with jagged, rocky outcroppings, two fresh-water lakes, and a rambling section of the Saugus River. I know, surprised the heck out of me too!

          Tuesday, September 27, 2011

          A Race for the Aged

          Ok, boys and girls. This race report is a long one. But, like the race itself, it’s definitely worth your time. So, pull up a chair and pour yourself a cold one, a coffee or a shot of Jack. Because this is a story that starts in 2006 and you’re not going to believe how it ends …

          5 years ago, some friends of mine and I decided it would be fun to put together a 12-person team for the Reach the Beach Relay – a 36-leg race from the White Mountains of New Hampshire to the Atlantic Ocean, 200 miles away. The 2006 team was made up mainly of Gate City Striders ranging in age from 24 to 54. We called our team the Mine Falls Milers (after one of our favorite places to run) and headed out on our 24-hour adventure together.

          Needless to say, that first year was quite a learning experience! I never knew how hard it would be to assemble (and keep together) a team of 12 runners. Not to mention how hard it would be to run 3 legs (some in the middle of the night) over unknown terrain, with little recovery time and almost no sleep. We ended up doing pretty well (for a team of newbies) as we finished in 8th place (out of 296 teams) with a time of 24:08:43 and an average pace of 6:44 per mile.

          Thursday, September 22, 2011

          Raising the Bar

          Typically, August and September are months where, because of cooler weather, my mileage starts to creep up in anticipation of a fall goal race - like a Marathon or Half Marathon. However, this year has been anything but typical and, as a result, over these past two months I’ve just been trying to get my head above water – training wise.

          Late this August, I decided to test my current fitness level by running a 5k race. Of course I knew it was going to be a bloodbath because, as stated in a previous posting, I’ve got a lot of work to do on my speed. And, just how much work I had to do became very evident, very quickly. The 5k I chose was one of the last races in the Mine Falls Summer Trail Race Series and despite my high placing (fourth) it turned out to be a personal worst 5k time for me.

          Tuesday, August 16, 2011

          No Escape

          So, I guess I was built for long distance running after all …

          I am what I am
          If you’ve been following along at home (and that’s a huge assumption on my part) then you’ll be familiar with the troubles I’ve been having recently with my running. Since the latest comeback attempt began, my runs have been in the order of 4 to 8 miles long with most being right around 6 miles. And, the vast majority of them have been awful. When I say “awful” I mostly mean they were awkward, slow and not at all enjoyable. In fact, they were so bad that I recently considered a change of hobby - as seen here.

          Biddeford Pool
          Anyway, last week (while away on vacation) I attempted my first "long" run since early April. Of course, heading into it I was expecting much more of the same – except that the suffering would last twice as long! However, once I got going (much to my surprise) it was great! And, I’ll give you three guesses (and the first 2 don’t count) as to when it started feeling great. Yup, you’re right! Just past mile 6!

          Fortunes Rocks Beach
          I don’t know what happened, but after about 45 minutes of bumbling along the winding beach roads of Biddeford Maine, my body loosened up and everything just felt better. My stride lengthened, my turnover increased and my pace quickened. In short, I got into a regular running rhythm for the first time since the accident. Of course, with the lack of any real distance training, by mile 12 I was toast, but at least I know I can work on that.

          And, now that I know what I am, it’s time for me to get back to the track and work on improving those first 6 miles!

          Monday, August 1, 2011

          Time Trials

          So, it seems I’ve become a bike racer …

          After 12 weeks of “serious” bike training (and almost no running) I decided to enter the Charlie Baker Time Trial. It’s a 9.75 mile bike race series that takes place in Concord, MA every Wednesday night in the summer and is put on by the Northeast Bicycle Club. And, conveniently, takes place on the very same roads that I bike on during my lunchtime rides from work.

          Not me
          Now, I have no misunderstanding about where I stand as a bike rider. I’m a novice with a capital “N”. I’ve been riding off and on for a little over 2 years - mostly when I’ve been injured from running. And, lately, that's been quite a lot! I love watching the Tour De France and the amazing riders that survive it. But, I have no idea how to maintain my bike and can barely name its various moving parts.

          Nevertheless, I’ve been considering jumping into bike racing for a some time now. It’s been 4 months since my last running race and the competitive juices from doing road races still course through my body - even though my running fitness does not. And, the idea of doing a time trial (as opposed to an actual circuit race) appealed to me mostly because I wouldn’t have to worry about crashing into other riders around me. It’s just me, the road and the clock – What could go wrong?

          Tuesday, July 5, 2011

          A Crisis of Identical Proportions

          Dear Abby,

          I’m writing to you today because I fear that I’ve recently fallen out of love – with running. Yes, we’ve had some good times in the past - a nice race up Pack Monadnock, leisurely runs in the woods, one or two fast 5k’s, and a few good marathons. But, a recent string of physical setbacks has left me feeling defeated and uninspired. What once was great is now painful & joyless. And, I find myself asking the same nagging question: Is this relationship worth saving?

          Friday, June 17, 2011

          Walk With Me

          Come walk with me and be my friend
          We’ll hike the path until its end
          The primal feat of strolling the wood
          Our kindred exchange is pure and good

          Who will guide and who will show
          We each know much but much to know
          Birch from maple, fir from hemlock
          Worlds discovered along our walk

          Exploring fields to expand our horizon
          Seeking the truth and where it lies in
          In nature the world diverges from the real
          Perhaps in here we can start to feel

          The sun is racing our time is at hand
          We must share the load to cross the land
          Treasures we'll find along our way
          To take and pass to others someday

          The journey begins as a simple act
          We join together and make this pact
          Though the road is long and the peak is high
          Let us promise now to attempt to try

          - I wrote this poem for my Dad a few years back and decided to unearth it again in time for Fathers Day. I think the Father/Son relationship is sometimes complicated by what we've been taught about what it means to be a "man" - because it gets in the way of what it means to be "human"! 

          In any case, this poem was intended to break down some of those barriers. 
          I love you Dad!

          If you liked this poem, I have a few more here.

          Monday, June 6, 2011

          Unhappy Habits

          Now that I’ve been spending more time on my road bike (and less time running), I’ve noticed a few annoying (and quite dangerous) habits exhibited by some local drivers. If you bike, feel free to nod your head and smile knowingly. If you drive, please don’t be one of these people.

          Friday, May 27, 2011

          An Opus for Opie

          Before I met Matt Baldi, I met his sneakers - red, Converse “Chuck Taylors”, size 14. I had forgotten mine at home and desperately needed a pair for my freshman high school gym class. Another friend of mine had recommended that I borrow Matt’s since our feet were similar in size, or so he thought. I grabbed them from his open locker and quickly put them on only to discover they were about four sizes too big! Needless to say, gym class that day was a bit more interesting while wearing Matt’s “clown” shoes.

          Friday, May 20, 2011

          Status Report

          Not a whole lot of running going on at the moment. It's been a little over a month since the hamstring incident and the only thing that's kept me from completely losing it is that I've been able to ride my bike. First with my mountain bike and now with my road bike I've been doing about 20 miles per day (in the rain) with a longer ride to come this weekend. It's not the same as running, but at least it gives me something to do (besides PT) while I wait for my injury to heal. Unfortunately, in the meantime, I am missing out on some of my favorite summertime running events: GCS Outdoor Track, The Pineland Farms 25k, and The Mount Greylock Half Marathon. Plus, I was hoping to finally have a go at the Hollis Fast 5k. Alas, twas not meant to be ...

          Hopefully I'll be able to get back to running regularly sometime in June and maybe try a race in July or August. I really miss being part of the TEAM. Right now,  I just feel like one of the "invisible" injured.

          Wednesday, May 4, 2011


          Up in the mountains above the great north wood
          There grows a tree where nothing else could
          In a place where only the strong survive
          This twisted wood has learned to thrive

          Growing up close in groups of kin
          They protect each other from the wind
          Working as one against the cold
          These trees can live to centuries old

          Molded and shaped by ice and snow
          That controls the pace they’re allowed to grow
          Rebellious branches that go too high
          Are quickly frozen and exposed to die

          The bitter wind it is forced to fight
          Is the cause of its irksome plight
          Their seed is brought by the breeze below
          Where its larger cousins are free to grow

          From along the trail their look is rough
          But a hikers friend when things get tough
          They form a shelter in the wind
          A place to rest and begin again

          God bless the krummolz this alpine tree
          A model of living for all to see
          Its life may be hard from death to birth
          But its view is unlike any other on earth

          - Dedicated to my Mom who has been my shelter in the wind on more than a few occasions. Love ya' Mom!

          If you liked this poem, I have a few more here.

          Tuesday, April 26, 2011

          Trail Maintenance

          Here are some of the trails that I run on at lunch time ...

          Trail Entrance
          The Cathedral
          The Farm
          The Culprit
          Sizing it up
          The Bitter End

           Revenge is sweet. Petty, but sweet!

          Wednesday, April 20, 2011

          God's Country and the Devil's Thumb

          Life is funny. There are moments when you feel so completely happy and at peace with the world. Then there are moments when you feel so unbelievably upset and angry at everything and everyone. The funny part is that often times, these two very opposite kind of moments occur in very close proximity to one another.

          On Saturday, I went out for a long trail run with my friend Steve Wolfe. We headed over to the Wapack Trail in the Mondanock region of New Hampshire for a moderately challenging 16 mile round-trip jaunt from Temple Mountain over to the Windblown XC area and back. Steve’s getting ready for some serious trail races and I was just interested in having some serious fun. And, the Wapack Trail seemed like the best (and most convenient) venue for our exploits.

          Tuesday, April 12, 2011

          Better Off Red's

          This past Sunday was the 30th running of the Red’s Shoe Barn 5m. It’s now officially called the Red’s 5 Mile Road Race and 3 Mile Walk for a Better & Brighter Community, or something like that. But, I’m going to continue to call it Red’s Shoe Barn because the new name is just too lame. It’s sort of like calling the Boston Garden the TD North Center for the Indoor Sporting Arts or calling Fenway Park the Bank of America Stadium for Grassy Outdoor Events - it just doesn’t quite roll off the tongue.

          Anyway, this was my 4th time running Red’s and, like each of my 3 previous excursions to the mean streets of Dover, this race was expected to be a knock down, drag out, turf war that only the New Hampshire Grand Prix can provide. As the second race of the 2011 NHGP Series (and first scoring one) this race could very well set the tone for the rest of the season.

          Thursday, March 31, 2011

          The Long and The Short of It

          Recently I ran the longest and shortest road races I’ll be doing this year. And, just to make things interesting, I decided to run them on back-to-back weekends. The New Bedford Half Marathon was an early season goal race for me and much of my off-season training went into trying to uncork a good one. The Shamrock Shuffle 2m that followed, was entered as much for the parade (immediately afterwards) as it was for the race itself. Now, based upon that set-up, see if you can guess which of the two races went better. I’ll give you a hint...    ... neither.

          Tuesday, March 8, 2011

          A Sort of a Homecoming

          14 years ago this week I started this crazy adventure called running. When I began, I had no idea where it would take me. All I knew was that I needed to get out, get away and do something. Because, when you feel like you’ve lost all control, “something” is a heck of a lot better than nothing! At the time, there were troubles on the homefront and it seemed like the world was crashing all around me. I needed a way to release the stress and tension of the day, to have some time and space to myself, to clear my head and refresh my spirit. So, I went for a walk.

          Thursday, February 24, 2011

          No Shoe-In

          This winter, I made a few New Years running resolutions. You know, the usual: “Lose Weight, Get Stronger & Get Faster”. I also made another resolution: “Do more snowshoe racing”. Fortunately, the decision to do the last thing, made accomplishing the first three things so much easier. Although, when I first started out, it sure didn’t feel that way!

          Monday, January 24, 2011

          Feeling Good & Frozen

          It’s been about a month since I finished getting over my latest cold. So, as a result, I’ve gotten about 4 weeks of solid (un-interrupted) training under my belt since then. My weekly training regimen during that 4-week span has typically included: one long run of 16-18 miles, one hill repeat session, one snowshoe run, one cross train (gym) day, two recovery road runs in between and a race of some sort.

          Last weekend, my race day took me to Lyndeborough, NH and the Feel Good Farms 5m snowshoe race. FGF was quite an event. Racers are sent up and over Moose Mountain twice, with a total elevation gain of about 1500+ feet. Then, if that were not enough, they are asked to do the same loop again, just to be mean. Adding insult to injury was the 2 feet of fresh powder they (we) would have to trudge through on each loop.

          Monday, January 10, 2011

          Olde Salem Greens 5k

          This past Saturday I headed down to Salem Massachusetts for the Olde Salem Greens 5k snowshoe race. This would be my second snowshoe race ever and first in almost two years. Weather prognosticators had been telling us all week that a snowstorm arriving on Friday and lasting into Saturday would leave 6+ inches on the ground making for some ideal racing conditions. Unfortunately, they were completely wrong and the first (and only) snowflakes that fell occurred during the last mile of the race.