AAR 7/29/19 Not my best effort, dog days of summer and working out

GREAT THING:  I actually feel like a normal person without pain.  Soreness is all good but daily pain was awful.  This is the first time in over a year that I have been a whole person able to workout without shoulder injury, back pain or shoulder pain! Trying to be smart not to reinjure while working strength again….this will take a while/past Ultra race date.

Good things last week:

  • Right shoulder feels great so started pullups/was crippled from Fri-last tuesday.  Got pullups bars for work!
  • Did some two legged lifting at Crossfit, which ended up hurting my back over the weekend but nice to feel like a normal person again
  • Got worked on by Steph/massage therapy
  • Sacrificed some working out for work and for deciding to spend time doing what I love, gardening in my yard Saturday before my birthday dinner
  • Tried out new Salomon Sense Ride 2 shoes, which held up great during Wachusett Run.  Felt more support than Alta Superiors, only “pain” was on right foot where bone sticks out near big toe and it was fine.  Feet did not hurt at end of run.
  • Technical running getting easier
  • Love the long rides and running the best
  • Avoided chafing by going commando running/was horrible last weekend

Things to improve

  • Missed three workouts T/W/R  Was just tired in morning and after work although did Crossfit one of those days.
  • Don’t forget salt stix!  Cycling on last hard week of month was surprisingly difficult/only did 2 vs. 3 hours and was tired.  No cramping though/only difference was salt stix.  Other weeks did 3 hours and felt spectacular after – strange.
  • Fear of mountains – fear struck my heart lucking up at Wachusett ski trails.  Going to the top was actually relatively easy but its the bare slopes.  I think fear of heights vs. work but who knows?  I don’t want to be intimidated by the mountain.  I wanted to run up and down the slopes to prove who’s boss but the guys at the top told me it was against the law.(?)  I think back to Bonefrog, which I absolutely loved going up, and down, and up,and down, and up, and down….
  • I don’t do as well in competition as I do alone.  Don’t know how to fix this.  Maybe because I never feel like I start out strong and am always struggling at the beginning (even alone).  During the race, what helps me a lot is encouraging others whether they are slower or faster than me.  Gets my mind off of me.
  • Afraid of 14000′ and the time on feet at Killington.  I remember what I read about how your body will do what it is expected to and you will always feel tired at the end of any run as you know it is the end.  If you knew you were going further, your body would adjust.  Am counting on that.
  • Need to bring sun block and bug spray

Here are some pics from my Sunday run at Wachusett – no falls, no tears!  Salomon Sense 2 shoes worked well



AAR 7/21/19 HOT HOT HOT!! Records were broken, flies eaten,snakes jumped

Challenging weather – or PERFECT weather as David Goggins would say!  HOT HOT HOT and humid!

Fri night interval training: after setting PR for mile run in 7:48 min (best by 6 sec), could barely finish the next and was pretty slow on the last but solid effort!  Two flies in the mouth.

Sat bike:  Biked 42 miles – furthest ever (my tracking got messed up as I forgot to restart once en route) with Teresa Kimberley here in Hollis which is a record for duration, 178 min 1562′ elevation, 3:06, 14.1 mph.  One bee sting on leg, one chain incident, homemade pancakes by Kenny at the end!!

Sun run:  17.68 miles total 99% running on Hollis trails (all but ~4 miles shaded) in very hot/humid weather.  12:27/miles pace in 3:40 hours.  Traded off hills for distance in shade today with the heat.  Furthest I’ve ever run by ~4 miles and am not crippled at all!  Ran last mile in 10:43!  One fly in mouth, jumped a snake, chased by one dog, one tick, two idiots in cars, two bathroom breaks at Silver Lake Park, one nice farmer who helped me when I went awary into his fields

What went well:

  • Hydration and nutrition – followed plan and used new inov-8 pack
  • Felt absolutely awesome on bike – not even stiff from riding/could have easily kept going
  • Did run in heat and humidity and practiced running tired
  • Carrying toilet paper for runs paid off
  • Didn’t do a lot of downhill running and feet felt good in the Altra superiors/not technical trails
  • Because right shoulder feeling better, started doing pull ups this week (crippled today)!!!!  Let’s get working that upper body now

What to do different:

  • Fix bike light situation/rear wasn’t charged.  Need USB power strip by door to keep lights charged.  Should get light for helmet
  • More mobility

Checkin on body composition/looks – nowhere near six pack which is discouraging – maybe not the best lighting but here I am:

AAR Skyline Trail 15.79 miles, Tears Were Shed

Maybe I was overly optimistic.  Dave Fatula was planning on finishing this trail in <4.5 hours starting at 5:45 am.  I thought I could do it and then still make the final OCR clinic at 11am.

Got up at 3:45 and we met at the trailhead at 5:45 down in Quincy, MA.  I knew right away I was going to slow him down and we parted ways around mile 2.  One day I am going to be able to keep up!  This is me and Dave around the halfway point when he was about 2 miles ahead of me after the turnaround:


This is a roundtrip trail ~7.5 miles each way – link on alltrails below:


I had two falls around miles 10 – tears were definitely shed and I thought the gentlemen from the “Dept of corrections van” might have been laughing at me when they saw me go down near the Ranger station.  Athleta leggings trashed:

Good things:

  • Planned and executed nutrition plan, had 5 hours worth of water and more of food.  I had brought extra knowing it could go longer and this paid off.  Even with a refill of one of my side inov-8 16 oz drink pouches, I ran out just before I finished but had extra food!  Lesson learned from Tough Mudder 🙂
  • Finished 15.79 miles – one loop of a Spartan ultra, on a technically very difficult trail with 4000′ of elevation.  The hills were the easy part, navigating the rocks was the difficulty.  This one loop finish is a great mental “cookie” as it is half the race and I know I can do that even if real race has more elevation.  I am not sure I would say I “ran” it but I did ran parts.
  • I felt pretty good after and that night.  Recall that months ago, I would have been totally crippled after 6 miles with back spasms.  Not that the back is fixed (I feel it during interval training for sure) but it didn’t hurt after the run or the next day and that is a GOOD THING!!  I was too tired to do much but way less than I have been after shorter runs.  It was a general fatigue and I did my best to eat to recover!
  • Avg moving pace was 21:16 min/mile over the 20 min/mile target pace on avg.


  • It was a cool trail with some beautiful scenery and varied terrain

Things to learn from:

  • I wore my Altra Superiors.  Tread was OK and I didn’t slip very much.  Issue was need for a slightly stiffer shoe for technical runs and that it is so comfortable, my foot moves around, which around mile 9 started to hurt on any downhills with my toes hitting the end of the shoe.
  • I need practice on technical trails, one woman just flew by me.  She stopped to talk though and said she has been doing this trail for 2 years – had speedcross shoes – and emphasized need for practice.
  • I learned issues will pass – my toes were hurting pretty badly then I hit a flatter trail and recovered.  Have to admit though that I was cursing all rocks after my two falls and toes hurt!

Heading out now for a 2 hr 40 min bike ride – will see how this affects it!

Thanks to my coach Gary for calling me and helping me fight fatigue, check-in as I missed the OCR clinic, as I drove the hour home from that race!

Tough Mudder 6-29-19 AAR

I was a last minute stand-in with a great “Herd of Dirt Turtles!”  ~7.5 mile obstacle course race in Charlton, MA.

  • Morning run to get my time in pre-race:  1 hour, 5.43 miles, 11:03 avg mile pace, 127 avg HR(Z3)/142 169 cad
  • Tough Mudder: 7.5 miles, 3:47:01, 719′ elevation, 12:59/mi moving pace.  Had huge thunderstorm near end so they had a few obstacles closed and about a 20 min wait before we finished when they closed the entire course.

Lessons Learned:

  • Bring enough food, etc and not rely on the course.  Just before we raced, they said this course has tons of food so I left all but 1-2 gels behind only to have 2 aid stations over the ~45 hours.  Besides the lack of aid stations, there were also unexpected long waits at obstacles.  I did not wear a hydration vest, just brought the gels and a bunch of salt stix.
  • Altra Superior shoes were fine for this but seemed to hold more water at first than my Inov8 F-235 lites/drained eventually.
  • Being on a team is way more fun than doing it alone and I liked the team obstacles where you had to help each other
  • I skipped all the heavy shoulder obstacles but did the wall climb overs
  • Loved the hanging down electrocution strips – got zapped on my bum at the very end.

Hills & Mountains for Training

TO DO: (from Dave Fatula)


skyline trail

Pemi Loop! Shut in by wind and rain on Lafayette Mountain and Garfield Ridge we finally saw the sky at Bondcliffs and through the descent back into the woods! 30 miles, 9,700’ elevation gain, nine 4,000 footers in the White Mountain National Forest in just under 15 hours.


Osceola (tough footing)




Nashoba Ski Resort (Westford, MA):  Do hills there every Tuesday morning 6:30am.  Each one is 0.20 miles and 250′.  Soul sucking but convenient and am among friends with weight vests, sandbags and buckets. Latest walk/run record is 3:11 on 6/18/19, 5:08 40 lb sandbag, 4:32 20 lb vest.  Hill steeper than it appears below.  My life changed the day my coach showed me hill climbing technique and I also realized that steady “walking” can be faster than “running.”  Also the value of pacing yourself – last week I had total muscular failure near top from going out too hard – have not had that happen before.  If I go steady, I like to be able to run the last 30 yards.





Wachusett Dam:  105′ each, nice loop to go up and down with.  First time I ever did it, only made it 75% of the way.  Separate post on this one elsewhere.

Neighborhood hills on Buttonwood:  0.23 miles, ~2:27

Pack Monadnock:  Did 6/2/19, 2.77 miles, 1:07:58, 919′ elevation.  Only took ~45″ roundtrip, too short and not hard at all

Mt. Monadnock: Did 6/23/19.  116 Poole Rd, Jaffrey, NH.  Took 2 hours roundtrip, 3.85 miles and 1800′ elevation.  Not much flat part to run – very rocky and a lot of rock clambering going up.  Need shoes with good tread for the rocks, which can be steep.  Slightly wet /got one shoe wet.  Tried out new Nathan vest (very sloshy) and Altra superior shoes (tread not good for this).  Took recommended route of White Dot trail going up from visitor center and White cross trail going down.

Skyline Trail – Blue Hills 7/13/19  Super Technical Trail, 15.79 miles, 6:12:54

21:16 moving pace, moving time 5;35 (rest was crying on side of the path), HR 126/170, 4170′ elevaion. Fell twice



Wachusett Ski resort  (7/28/19) Can get a variety of courses from the North Face Endurance Races:   https://www.thenorthface.com/get-outdoors/endurance-challenge/massachusetts/course-guides.html

Started at ski lodge parking lot but opposite area from lodge, Balance Rock Trail.

I followed 2/3 of the half marathon choosing to go straight up to the top. 11.02 miles, 3:42, 2507′ elevation (to summit twice plus up a short ski lift once).  Hot day.  18:13/mi moving pace

Trails way less technical than Skyline with clambering only on short stretches near the top.  Bicentennial trail although wrapping the bottom is technical – Visitor center for bathrooms/water


Hydration and Shoes

SHOES:  I had not realized how many different shoes there are for various non-road surfaces!  Here is my journey – which continues:

After sliding down the grassy slopes multiple times during bonefrog in my Inov8 F235Lites (fave crossfit and road running shoes), I decided I needed some shoes with tread for future races – not an easy task to find.  Evidently, trail running is a niche activity so the typical stores (all sporting goods, REI, EMS, specialized running stores etc) don’t carry many of them. Locally, I did find a few good trail shoes at Runners Alley in Manchester, NH.  In general, I recommend ordering online via zappos and just returning the ones you don’t want.  The issue is that you may end up keeping all the pairs like me 🙂

1st Test: Altra Superior (shown at top):  wide toebox, zero drop, good for hard packed trails, not so different from my inov8 f-lite 235s, except they weren’t beat to hell – I had forgotten what any cushion felt like.  I took these out of the box and ran a 9 mile interval workout without issue.  Used for run up Mt. Monadnock and it drains well but sucked on rocks/tread is not that great.  I had forgotten what any cushion felt like!

However, I used these shoes for 15 mile technical trail run on Blue Hills Skyline trail and they about killed me – toes got jammed into the end due to lack of midsection support and hurt like crazy and no stability support in the midsection for all the rock scrambling so…..


2nd Pair: Salomon Sense Ride 2 – Used on Wachusett 16 miler and did well on rocks and also on the scree at Nashoba hill runs; however, despite good socks and lubing my feet, I got a bad blister on the inside of my bunion on the right foot halfway thru the Spartan Super 8 mile race so…..

3rdPair:  Inov8 X-talon 260 Ultra (0 drop) – the 260s have a wider toe box than apparently other inov8s (although note the F935 Lites were very wide and awesome):  Ran 23 miles at Ragnar VT with no new blisters or sore spots and also 14 miles with 6000′ elevation at Old Speck Mountain without issue.  Overall working well but have to check drainage.  Needed to retie laces during run even with a double knot.  Note I’m not a huge fan of the speedcross method of lace tying also although they seem to stick better.

THESE SHOES WERE ROCKSTARS AT THE 2019 KILLINGTON ULTRA.  Could go up and down the grass, debris fields AND MUD without falling when many were sliding down on their backsides.  Tops of toes sore with one big toenail turning black.  Right foot top of bunion area painful but no blisters and the pain wasn’t enough to have affected the race.

4th Pair: Altra Lone Peak 4 – these felt similar structurally to the Sense Ride at the running store although a wider toe box.  After the beatdown on Skyline Trail, I got the Sense Rides that felt slightly more solid.  I bought these with the X-Talons and just decided to not return them (a burgeoning shoe fetish).  Shoe laces are short and harder to undo/do than the others.  Used on a 6 mile flat trail run and loved them – need to check them out on a technical hill.


Now that I am over 2 hour runs, am trying to do a better job with carrying water.  I had a 3 hr run last weekend so got the Nathan hard plastic waist bottles (each ~10 oz) ~$50 seen below and ran in a loop to refill every hour.  Mixed water with 1 scoop Tailwind and split between the two drinking every 15 min.  Was weird at first as you have to hold your elbows slightly out so they don’t hit bottles but was fine this week – no issues at all with waist carrying.

For this week, I wanted to plan a 4-5 hr mountain hike so needed a bladder.  I went to Runners Alley in Manchester, NH (good store) and got this basic $70 Nathan 1.5 bladder (as the small hand carry bottle alone was $40 I just upped the size). Several issues:

  • Evidently I forgot to get rid of all the air so it was horribly sloshy
  • The hose you drink from when hanging down, leaked whenever pressure was put on bladder.  I ended up tucking it upwards to help with this after my leg got wet.

Hike ended up being way shorter than planned (2 hr vs. 4-5) so I mostly just used the waist waters and a little of the bladder.


Then I purchased my Inov8 Two in one pack which, in addition to having a 2L hydration pack, has two 18 ml side water bottles and an extra, clip on storage area I can carry my shoes with to XFit during a bike ride or extra clothes on a hike.  This pack gets me 5 hours worth of water!  Have been using it for weeks now without issue.  I only wish the side pockets were more contained – feels like stuff can fall out.  I just use them for trash and keep food in my pants.

After researching for the Ultra race, I spent a whopping $85 to get 3 spare bottles (one bladder and 2 side bottles) so I can put them filled with tailwind in my transition bin for halfway changeout.

A Journey in Professional and Personal Continuous Improvement

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