Thursday, July 28

Ironman Lake Placid Race Report

Summary: First IM (Iron-virgin)
Swim      1:28:55
T1                9:17
Bike        6:38:14
T2                5:49
Run         4:17:51
Finish    12:40:04

Total passed Swim to Finish: 924 Overall; 90 in M50-54

Race Plan: Objectives and Predictions - See prior post

Pre Race - I arrived on Wednesday afternoon with enough time to go grocery shopping and still get a swim in Mirror Lake. That lap was 44 minutes, reassuring me that 1:30 was possible. Thursday began with an early morning 50’ run and race check-in. Friday was an EN group swim at 7 but being so slow, I swam alone and managed a 42’ lap and felt very comfortable. After breakfast I did a 45’ bike up Cascade and down to Keene where Carole picked me up. The day ended with the Team dinner and an early bed. So far everything was easy and relaxed no pressure and no jitters.

My first real nervousness came Saturday when I realized I needed to get my bike and run bags ready. Something I had not thought of for several days. After many futile attempts to get it together, I was reminded that this is the reason I have lists! DUH! Much better with the lists. On my way home from the gear drop, my friend called me and wanted to know if I let the air out of my tires – lest they blow in the heat. Yeah, now I’m real nervous – the transition is closed and I fear that I’ll have a double flat by morning…….yikes! Thanks Mandy…..

The late afternoon meal was grilled tuna steak, stir-fry and pasta. Followed by an evening snack was soft serve ice cream – yum! Bed by 9:40.  

Race morning - Slept solid till about 2, then sporadic till 3:45 when I got up for my PBJ and coffee. Assemble my BSN nutrition bottle – 16 oz water frozen solid plus 24 oz chilled super concentrate (7 scoops Infinit). Got dressed and headed to the Oval to check on my bike (luckily no flats!!) and get my nutrition setup. Carole took my SN bags up to the drop off. RSN only had 3 Gu in it.

Swim      1:28:55 –  Place: 1977 OA, 155 AG
Seeded myself just in front of the beach and slowly moved into the deeper water as the beach filled up. By gun time I was about half way to the backside of the main pack. At first it was effortless without contact – good thing cause I get panicky in blender situations. Seemed to go well for a while following soft spots. About 300 meters out things suddenly got all jammed up. Took an elbow to the goggle and was kicked several times. Eventually I made my way to the outside and got clear of the masses. First lap done in 43:xx. The second lap was much quieter as I fell behind the bulk of the swimmers.

T1           9:17 – After T1 place: 1901 OA, 142 AG (passed 76 OA, 13 AG)
Transition tent was a mad house. Helmet, glasses, shoes, bib and go.

Bike       6:38:14 – After bike place: 1489 OA, 104 AG (passed 412 OA, 38 AG)
Managed to keep my climb to Cascade to 154w (.70). Combined with the descent and flats the first 60’ was 149w, (.651). The entire ride averaged 154w (.698). My peak 60’ began at the 1:50 mark as I turned the corner at the stone church in Jay on lap 1 and resulted in 160w (.732), just below my 3rd gear. My Garmin is set to vibrate every 15 minutes for nutrition and a reminder to reset my interval at 60’. Stopped to pee at Hazleton Rd aid station, 1st lap and again at the Horse Show Grounds beginning lap 2. 

The second lap was much more fun with almost no bikes passing me. Could pick clean lines on the decent and not break at all. Along the River Rd, I was passing everything in site and having a great time. No issues with power as long as I kept my cadence up and had no saddle soreness at all.

Interval details
Time       pNorm    IF            VI            Mi @ mph             rpm/HR
1:01         149          (.677)      1.07         19.8 @ 19.2            82/139
1:00         154          (.702)      1.05         18.0 @ 17.9            86/135
0:56         160          (.726)      1.03         14.8 @ 15.7            84/138
1:00         157          (.712)      1.1           18.0 @ 17.9            83/143
0:55         155          (.706)      1.02         17.9 @ 19.3            88/142
1:00         151          (.687)      1.04         13.9 @ 14.0            81/143
0:39         146          (.664)      1.1           9.7 @ 14.6              83/143

Bike Avg   154          (.698)      1.06         112 @ 17.0             84/140                     TSS 318.9

T2           5:49 – After T2 place: 1457 OA, 94 AG (passed 32 OA, 10 AG)
Not as busy as T1. Socks, Asics (slip-on), dark sunglasses, hat, Gux3 in pocket, guzzle 16 oz Infinit (200 cal), volunteer applied sunscreen, pee in trough and I’m off.

Run        4:17:51 – Final place 1053 OA, 65 AG (passed 404 OA, 29 AG)
                                Total passed Swim to Finish: 924 Overall; 90 in M50-54

Started with a hat on and my shoulders were already feeling burned. Looking for a stupid easy pace of 9:30 to 9:45 but couldn’t get there on the 1 mile downhill. Was able to settle in by mile 2 near 9:20 and made the decision to base my max pace on HR as the limiter, keeping it below 148 thru mile 6 and would walk about 30” per mile or more as needed. I walked all aid stations except the last, power-walk the big hills, and walked 15 to 30” between. I was being flexible with the walks. Sometimes it was 15 seconds at half mile intervals, other times I saved it for an incline or aid station. I never let my pace get below 9:00 (except the first mile by stupidity). I tossed the hat after a few miles – too hot with it on.

From mile 7 to 18 I kept my pace in the 9:15 to 9:45 range, slowing down as needed to keep my HR between 148 and 152. Holding pace after 18 was very hard but HR forced me to slow into the 10:30 to 11:20 range. I spent a lot of time running with my eyes closed, listening to the feet ahead of me or behind me. Part of why I needed to push was I couldn’t do simple math and figure out if I could make my 7:xx deadline, so I had to push. I tried to count bodies after mile 18 but it was too hard. Managed to get to 100 between 18 and 22 then gave up and just ran (eyes closed).

Carnage was everywhere – I saw some sitting or lying on the roadside with cramps and spasms. Several were being addressed by EMT’s. Watching other’s body language deteriorate rapidly, resulting in sudden eruptions of projectile vomit. My GI status was fine most of the run although I did have to be cautious for about 30 minutes. I pounded the water at every aid station, twice tried Coke (tolerable but not good) and once the broth (second sip almost came back). Basically I stuck to my normal Gu plan – 1 every 4 – 6 miles (5, 9, 14, 18, & 22). 

One of the coolest things was having all the EN kits out there. I was waving and high fiving left and right. Dace C, Pete J, Henry S, Bill F, Jim D, Martin J, Grant S, Bill M, Henry C, and a few others I think. While I did see a few with some minor distress, it was nothing compared to the general population out there. It was clear to me that we, as a team, were in much better shape that most of the runners I saw.

Coming into the Oval I was surprised to see some family right at the entrance. It was so awesome to run along the wall, hand out and high fiving all the way around the final turn. Looking up I was amazed at the time – 12:39:xx I was ecstatic! Not only did I make all 3 of my goals, I was going to beat my goal time by over 5 minutes – and I was thinking that goal was a stretch.

Need to fix/change
Add sunscreen in T1, no hat unless it is raining

What worked well – do again
Swim goggles under the cap, Infinit in the Speedfill, separate glasses for bike and run, Infinit performance mix for T1 & T2 for use as needed in transition, normal Gu strategy (marathons), getting off the bike to pee and stretch.

This is definitely something I will do again, likely several more times – it was just that great. I had next to no soreness after the race, or during the ensuing days. I attribute that to the superior training plans developed by RnP that provide a tremendous fitness base. Secondly, the race execution protocols we use help prevent major blunders but are flexible enough to allow a smart athlete to stretch just a little and know that they will be reasonably safe in doing so (provided you have the run fitness to back it up). And thirdly, the collective wisdom of the team that can answer any question about any topic pertinent to long course triathlons.  Notable mention has to go out to the vast knowledge base of the Wiki and to the supportive camaraderie that exist not only online in the forums but extends to race venues and on the course. 

I think had I gone another route and not joined Endurance Nation, I would have suffered tremendously if I was even able to finish in under 17 hours. That is no joke. The peaceful calm I had leading up to the race is something I have never experienced before. I owe it all to Coach Patrick, Coach Rich and the entire EN Team. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Next up, firewood, a short camping trip, some hiking in Baxter State Park, and another Cape Cod wedding. Next year I may look for a few HIMs and Olys to do. Be lots of fun to do a few as doubles or maybe a TTT….. Who knows… For now I need to lay low and find some quiet time.

Tuesday, July 19

Race Plan and Finish Time Predictions

Yes I’m still here.  Been training like mad since Boston.  So much so that I really have not had the time or energy do any blog updates till now.   Over the past 12 weeks my training weeks have consumed anywhere from 10 hours per week to as much as 20 during the LP training camp in June.  For the past several weeks I have been teetering on the edge of fatigue and overtraining.  Fortunately I suffered no injuries and my fatigue level has subsided considerably.  By race day I should be fully rested and at 100%.

The big day is fast approaching and one of the last things I needed to do as part of my race prep was develop a race plan.  That is what this post is about.   My first version was very conservative and overestimated split times.  That was the one I posted to the team last week.  Well since then I reconsidered my plan and decided I should revise it to accurately reflect my true expectations.  Yes they are still reasonable and based on actually training times that I know I can reproduce.  Whether I can reproduce them all in 1 day, the day that matters, is yet to be seen.  The point is, I am confident that the plan below is possible; I just need to be smart about pacing and overall execution.  If I get the execution right, I should be very close to my predictions.  Do the stupid things anywhere and everything after that will suffer – especially me!

So, here it is.  My race plan for Ironman Lake Placid 2011

(1) Finish first IM in daylight
(2) Run the full marathon.
(3) Finish sub 13 hours

Age: 53; height: 5’ 10”; race weight: 153.   
Swim pace (pool) 1:42, long OWS pace 2:12. 
FTP = 220 @ 3.1w/Kg.
vDot = 46; T pace 7:20

Saturday afternoon meal: broiled tuna with stir-fry and pasta.  Bedtime @ 9 PM. 
Morning meal:  PB&J and Infinite Run mix @ 4 AM.  Follow with 16 – 24 oz coffee. 
Drink 20 oz Infinite Run mix en route to swim start.

T0:      EN tri kit, Garmin 310, HRM, Orca Equip wetsuit, AquaSphere Kayenne goggles, ear plugs, cap

Swim: Anticipate 1:25 @ 2:00; (1:30 @ 2:12)

            Stand near the shore in front of the shore crowd and start just before the cannon.
Get into a soft spot behind the blender and deal with it.

T1:      Shimano T31 shoes, no socks; helmet; Tifosi Vogel glasses; bib #; 20 oz Infinite Run mix.

Bike:  Goal is 70% of 220w; Anticipate 6:40 @ 16.8 mph; (7:00 @ 16.0 mph). 

Ride first gear @ 146w thru Keene and half way to Jay. 
Ride second gear @ 154w after that except for long climbs @ 162w. 
Avoid time above 170w.

Nutrition is Infinite in Speedfill on the down tube, refill at BSN. 
Bike mix is 300 cal with 380 mg NA per serving; 3.5 hours per fill. 
Hydration will be in the seat tube cage and replaced at aid stations.

Nutrition: Take 5 sips every 15 minutes (70 cal)
Hydration: 48 oz on the first lap then 64 oz second lap. If temp > 80, more water both laps.
Recently added a Salt Stick as a tool of last resort if things go terribly wrong

T2: Asics 2140, socks, Solar Comfort sunglasses, 6 Gu in bag, 20 oz Infinite Run mix, hat?

Run:   Anticipate 4:00 @ 9:10; (4:30 @ 10:20)

            Target 9:30 to 9:40 for the first 6 miles (EP + 30). 
From mile 6 to 18 plan to hold EP –acceptable range will be 8:50 to 9:10. 
Walk 30 steps at each aid station, take water, supplement with Perform and Coke. 
Gu on 40 minute interval (~4.5 miles)

Rock Star

            Rock Star finish is a ‘Best Possible’ finish and is very much a long shot
            Goal finish is where I believe I can at the end of the day

Tuesday, April 19

Boston Race Report

The Start – wave 2, corral 4; setup in the front third.  My first Boston but marathon #16 in past 7 years.

My plan was to PR, aiming at 3:28 cutting a 2 minute margin from my BQ – PR last spring.  The goal pace was 7:56 but since GPS consistently under report paces by 4 to 6 seconds I would use 7:50.  The Data Tool lists my MP @ 7:48 based on a half marathon PR 2 weeks ago so I figured if I was having a good day I’d be reasonably safe.

Pacing strategy:  EN style

Miles 1 – 5 @ 7:55                (+ :05)
Miles 6 – 16 @ 7:40              (- :10)
Miles 17 – 21 @ 8:00 or slower based on max HR below 172 (+:10 or more)
Miles 22 on @ 7:50              (at pace or best effort)

Holding back from the start is always tough but being imbedded in a river of moving bodies makes it harder still.  Even so I managed to let the rabbits go mostly.  I even paused to pee in mile 1 resulting in an 8:18 mile.  The next 4 averaged 7:52 (a little too fast) but the 5 mile average was 7:57 – right on target.

The middle 11 miles were to be at 7:40 and 8 were within +/- 2 seconds – how is that for ninja execution?.  Overall average for this section was 7:41 – again perfect pacing.  I did begin to feel the downhill starting around mile 12 into Wellesley.  At first it was the lower quad just above my knees.  I knew it was going to hurt bad later on.

Heading into Newton I decided to be more conservative and held my HR down below 170 instead of 172.  My thinking was that the quad fatigue already spreading up my thighs and anything I can do to minimize the deterioration would be good.  I was hurting and it was going to get worse…. Despite that, I did manage to hold it together thru the hills, mostly.   Pace for the hills was 8:34, slightly slower than desired but managing HR and not burning all the matches was critical. 

As I started the decent from Heartbreak, the quads really started to light up.  By now the burning in my thighs  went from knee to hip flexor on every stride.  I longed for a flat road because the steeper the grade, the slower I ran – it just hurt too much.  Mile 22 @ 8:06 degraded to 8:29 by 23.  Now cramps were getting unmanageable and I was forced to stretch and walk in mile 24.  Pace had degraded to 9:53 and the wheels were off the bus.  Mile 25 was even worse with more cramps, stopping to stretch and walk it out – pace at 10:02.  I resorted to counting paces to keep things moving.  Count to 12 and start again.  Stay in the box…. 1, 2, 3,…, 11, 12…1, 2…  The final mile was at 9:09, pretty respectable after the previous 2 miles….

The bright spot in the darkness of the last miles was finding Carole in the crowd as I emerged from under  Mass Ave.  That made me smile and gave me what I needed to finish.

Final time 3:37:02 @ 8:17 (my Garmin had my pace at 8:10 reinforcing the 5 to 6 second under reporting)

Overall 9692 / 23879
Gender: 7395 / 13806
Division: 831 / 1924

Final thoughts
It was great to have the privilege to run Boston.  Not my best finish or a PR but it was my third best finish of 16 races.  I executed my plan perfectly for as long as I could.  In hindsight it may have been too optimistic but everything leading up to the race supported my plan.  Unfortunately my durability on the downhills did not.  On paper it looked like a fast course, I was wrong.

I liked the course, it was interesting to run in a crowd the entire way.  I had never run in a race that big before.  Fans were really something, especially the Girls of Wellesley.  Organization, logistics and support were amazing.   On the down side, I found the noise painfully loud at times and had me wishing for ear plugs.  It made it very hard to stay inside my box when the pain got bad.  

Bottom line – Mount Desert Island Marathon still rates better in my book for overall experience and scenery.

Friday, April 15

Chomping at the bit...

Getting psyched to go but need to pack yet.  Leaving in the AM and heading straight to the Expo…..


Run Strong!

Monday, April 11

You Call That Tapering?

The 115th Boston Marathon is in less than 7 days and I should be deep into my taper.  The thing is, I’m not.  In recent weeks I have cut my volume somewhat but have run 2 races and established PR’s in both.  This weekend should have been a bit easier in the final lead up but it didn’t turn out that way.

The workout schedule I built for myself had me going for 14 miles this weekend at an easy pace and not much else other than plenty of rest.  Well, Saturday came and the weather was so nice – like 60* and sunny –  I just couldn’t resist the temptation to go out for a ride.  It was the first time in 6 months I’d been outside on my bike.  The ride turned out to be a 32 mile ABP (always be pushing) lets see what you can do kind of ride.  It was awesome!  Not as fast as I had hoped but my cadence was 10 to 15 rpm higher than during the winter on the trainer and felt solid.  Overall the IF for the 116’ ride was 0.865 and I felt pretty spent when I got back.

Sunday came and since I did the 2 hour bike, thought I should back off the long run and do 8 miles with 2 miles at a tempo pace.  As the temp warmed to 44* under sunny skies, I headed out the door. It was a perfect day for a run.  After a mile to warm up, it hit the gas aiming at 7:30 (my HMP) and held on for 2 miles.  Mile 4 was a recovery mile and should have been my turn-around.  Miles 5 and 6 came and went but I just wasn’t ready to head for home yet.  Finally at the 7 mile mark I turned for home.  It was the first time looking at my pace since mile 3 and I was at 8:09 for the first 7 miles.  Way faster than I expected and realized that to run a negative split, I would need to run pretty hard – not something I was planning…..  Mile 8 felt comfortable at 7:45 which got me thinking “Hey, I can do this” so I continued to push, looking to hold my MP smooth and steady till the end.  I finished up with a 7:57 pace preserving my negative spilt with a 7:46 on the back half. 

Just as I got home, Sierra was messing with her bike and getting ready to leave.  I had told her before my run that I’d go with her if she wanted.  Well, looks like I had to hurry.  So, inside I changed into my EN bike kit and whipped up a smoothie to replace some calories – my first recovery meal.  We were on the road in about 20 minutes.  I could tell I was tired but I figured it would be relaxing ride.  We ended up going 20 miles in just over an hour and a half.  Now I was totally spent and in need of some serious calories.  My second recovery meal was a 1/3 lb burger on the grill with cheese and a glass of Carnation Instant Breakfast.

Thing is, my day was not over yet.  Carole was out back with the brush saw and wanted help.  My job was to go down on the river bank with the brush saw and cut all the brush between high water and the top of the bank.  Not an easy task because it is steep and slippery with all the round rocks covered by 4” of leaves.  Long story short, I got it done, mostly.  But I had nothing left afterwards.  It was all I could do to crawl up the bank and slump against a tree to sit for a spell. 

A little later on Carole made some pizza dough and I had my third recovery meal.  Home made pizza loaded with veggies and a big pile of cheese!  Yum!  Needless to say, I was useless the rest of the day….. so much for tapering!

Run Strong

Tuesday, April 5

Two Half Marathon Race Reports:

New Bedford, MA - 3/20/2011

"A Dead Whale or a Stove Boat"
This was my second time running New Bedford.  Last year I ran it with Sierra and set a PR by a 5:27 margin.  I had high hopes for this year as well and guess what......

I did awesome! I always seem to run well on a full moon.... weird I know but true so far. Boston is on a full moon too ..... just sayin....

Gun time temp was at 34* with a light E breeze at about 10mph. The day warmed to low 40's by the finish. The sky was a brilliant blue and no clouds. Race conditions were perfect. I raced more or less along the Endurance Nation HM pacing guidelines but I do pay a lot of attention to HR after the first few miles to make sure I don't burn too many matches and blow up. Basically I try to follow the pacing, but use HR as a governor.

So, in the end I was exceedingly happy with execution. The data tool has me a 7:30 for HM - a little too optimistic maybe.... but was able to finish in 1:40:53 @ 7:42. A PR by 3:34! My third half mary PR in a row - beginning with this very race last spring.

Stats: 719/2372 overall; 587/1366 men; 93/255 age group

Newmarket NH - 4/3/2011

I’ve run this 3 times before so I knew the course fairly well. No big hills, but a few of the hills that are there are steep. Miles 3 to 6 are on a dirt road, and with the 8” of snow Friday, I was concerned about muddy splash holes. Turned out much better than expected. No snow, no mud and only a few wet areas. Gun time temp about 41*, clear sky and NW wind at 10 to 15 mph. I was wearing sunglasses, shorts, EN tri vest, arm warmers and gloves at the start. The arm warmer lasted 3 miles, the gloves were on for first 4 and last 3.

Initially I thought lingering fatigue from Sunday’s 22 miles plus Wednesday’s 10 mile tempo would take the sharpness from my legs and I would be smart to hold back a bit… Na, it is a race, I had to go big. For the start, I lined up just behind the 7:30 Pacer – my EN HM pace. The plan was to hang on to the pace group thru to the end. That would give me my PR with a minute or 2 to spare. Not quite EN style pacing but…. as long as I could see the pacer, manage my HR and not overachieve early I believed I could pull it off. Heck, it’s only a half….. and a training run at that.

My HR was down for the early miles even though I jumped straight into 7:30 pace with a pace group. During the first few miles there were 20 or more runners in the pack. That diminished to only 6 or so by mile 8. By mile 9 I lost a few yards from the pacer and never could bridge back up. I ended up running 20 yards back the rest of the race, not gaining, and not loosing ground to the pacer. After mile 2, HR was stable between 168 and 172 for all but about 4 minutes on hills. Pace was fairly even other than 1 mile at 7:08 (gradual downhill at mile 11) all other miles were between 7:17 and 7:37. Finished strong with 4 of the original pace group.

Carried 20 oz water and 3 Gu. Took Gu at miles 4 and 9, augmented my water at 2 aid stations, and finished with less than 3 oz in my bottle. Perfect nutrition, hydration and run kit. Weather was impeccable. Overall outstanding race.

Chip time 1:38:46 @ 7:32; rTSS 159.3 (NGP @ 7:22) - 4th consecutive ½ marathon PR, this time by a 2:07 margin.

Stats:  104/1174 overall; 91/524 men; 8/67 age group - Best finish ever!

Boston, better look out 'cause I'm coming..... With 2 decisive PR's and feeling at 100%, I believe I have the fitness and courage to go big and PR at the worlds' most coveted race event.

Wednesday, March 23

Part II: Busting Out the Southbound Trail …

OK, I dropped the ball on this one. Should have finished last week but between training, work and traveling to New Bedford for a race, I just plain ran out of time…. Sorry about that.

Day 4

Start/end/time 7:50 – 2:35 6:45
Distance/ascent/pace 8.1 +647/-495 1.2 mph

Day 4 was the shortest mileage wise but took us the longest to complete. The trail was unbroken and had 8” to 10” of new snow from the storm the day before.  Air temp near 0 degrees. We got going fairly early anticipating a long day.

The first section was relatively flat but the drifts and hommocks were a pain.  Too steep for wax, and the trail too narrow to herring bone. At Wassataquoik Stream the sky showed signs of clearing.  We crossed at the normal summer crossing it looked solid. Jim was our probe and seemed to have no issues… I started to follow and about half way across, Jim says “Wait, I need to get a picture” and so I start to shuffle backwards for a pose. Suddenly, I realize my tracks are wet. I wasn’t worried about breaking thru, but icing my skis. As quick as I could I make for dry snow and higher ground – too late. Ice had already built up on my skis. Had to take them off and scrape the crust.

The middle section may be the toughest of the day. Not too much elevation gained but lots of water crossings with alders, and boulders, gullies, hommocks and steeps banks…. I stopped to wax - putting blue from tip to tail in an attempt to get some traction.  At no point can you get any gliding in, nor linked strides.  The only time I was sliding was backwards.  We begin to think about our shadow party and how sucky it will be for them and their sleds full of gear… The gullies and drifts were steep, the snow deep.  Even though Bart broke trail most of the way, I floundered a lot, falling repeatedly.  It was tiring to say the least.  Sometimes the only

reason I was able to make progress was due to brut force poling.

Eventually we get to the final section – traveling cross slope thru mostly open hardwoods, in and out of 20’ deep gullies every 200 to 300 yards. There were literally dozens of streams draining down from Turner Mt to our East. Each leaving another gully to clamber through.  I took my skis off 3 times to navigate the gullies - they were that tough - skins and BC skis would have helped a lot.

The high point of the day was at Whidden Pond – spectacular views of Hamlin, Baxter, and Pamola Peaks.  Sandy Stream Pond was awesome too.  From there on was no big deal, although there were a few sections where spruce and fir were laiden with snow that would dump its load in you face and neck as you try to pass by…brrrrr.

The cabin was empty on arrival and the ranger said no others would be coming in. Nice! Plenty of space for all our gear to dry. Outside a Pine Martin was scavenging something near the porch. Was fun to watch him….

Part III Heading for home….

Day 5

Start/end/time 7:15 – 11:05 3:50
Distance/ascent/pace 12.9 +455/-1337 3.4 mph

All were up early and eager to go. Conditions were excellent and looked like a good day. A sign in the cabin explained it was a 10 hour day to get to Abol Bridge from Roaring Brook. Took us less than 4 hours. Because of the groomed road, good snow, and my skinny skiis. Jim and Bart pulled the rear all day. Breaking trail or going uphill they would leave me in the dust, but on a trail like this, they didn’t have a chance against my long skinny skis.

Out standing trip. I would do it again. The big thing is – as always – conditions. The following weekend there was rain, several inches then snow, like 18”!! Had we gone that weekend it would have been unbelievably miserable. We were lucky.

Monday, March 14

Part II: The Trail South…

Day 3Start/end/time    8:15 – 12:10   3:55
Distance/ascent/pace 9.4      +789/-440   2.4 mph

Yesterday the Rangers told us the forecast was for 6” to 8” of new snow on a southerly wind.  We figured the earlier we got going the better off we would be.  We knew the trail would be generally good as the Rangers routinely run their sled and big tote down as far as Russell Pond to keep it open.

I woke at 6 AM sore and stiff from 2 days of hard skiing.  Breakfast was oatmeal and tea, fast and easy.  Air temp at 14* with new snow falling already.  Waxed up and extended kick zone with Green then added Blue underfoot for stickiness on the steeper pitches.  Outside the moose was still about, but had finished the first R. Pine and had move to start the second.  We had to take some obligatory moose photos before starting out.  We were heading out across the lake at 8AM.

Wind driven snow was in our face as we crossed to the south end.  Not bad at first, light snow and maybe 20+ mph headwind.  By the time we entered Upper South Branch Pond the snow was coming harder and the wind increased to up over 30 mph.  Strong enough to stop my dead in my tracks several times but still tolerable.   By Pogey Pond the snow was going sideways and the wind was gusting to 40 mph.  We had whiteout conditions the entire crossing with visibility less than 100 yards. 

From Pogey Pond the trail climbs rather steeply for 1.5 miles.  On two of the steepest pitches, I pulled my skis and walked.  It was just too much work to try and muscle my way up.  Jim and Bart had no problems with their waxless BC skis – I was very envious to say the least.

We made Russell Pond before noon and because the conditions had deteriorated further, Jim suggested we fill all our water jugs now and save another trip.  Very smart move.  With 12 liters in hand we struck off for the final crossing.  By this point the sustained winds were over 30 mph and most gusts were near 50.

  Half way across a particularly strong gust knocked me flat – one instant I’m struggling to make progress and the BAM!  I’m in the snow.  Looking back I see Bart had been flattened too.  Several more rogue gusts tried to do the same but I was more prepared. 

Once in the cabin we got a fire going and began drying all our gear.  As we busied ourselves with warm food, fire and dry clothes our attention kept going back to the other party (the one’s with the sleds).  We knew from the conditions it was going to be hard for them.  There was over 8” new snow by the time we arrived, meaning the later in the day they traveled, the more snow they had to deal with – not to mention the wind.  Eventually they arrived.  Took them over 7 hours to cover what we did in under 4.  Glad we didn’t bring sleds!

Tuesday, March 8

Part I, Day 2 – The Tote Road North…

Day 2
Start/end/time    7:55 – 3:45 7:05 (+:30 waiting for food drop)
Distance/ascent/pace 20.1  +1031/-1137 2.6 mph
Food & water   2L; 2 millennium & mainstay; Spanish rice (nasty!)

A cold start to a long day started with a double breakfast for me.  Oatmeal and eggs washed down with 3 cups of tea to round out a 600 calorie jumpstart.  I had pre-waxed my skis after dinner and cake with special green expecting temps around zero.   The actual air temp was -10* with a light breeze from the NW. 

I was smarter today with my hydration – bite valve tucked in my shirt and back drain the tube after each drink eliminated all icing issues.  Trail conditions were good, well for a snowmobile trail.  Typical of sled-heads, the first 2 or 3 ride straight down the trail and leave a nice ski surface…. Except the guy in the back is bored and slaloms back and forth for miles and miles… to make it worse, he has these super deep grooves in his front skis that are impossible to deal with on XC’s…. You either follow his track back and forth or look for untracked snow and break you own trail…. I did that for 2 miles just for a break.

Pace was moderate and steady.   We had a lot of miles to cover.   Breaks were short, usually less than 5 minutes.  The first part of the day was generally flat to uphill so I spent most of the time in the rear.  It is really hard to keep up with foresters who spend their days snowshoeing up and down hills and I sit behind a desk …. Eventually we got to the height of land – after a few really long uphill grinds.  Now is were my skinny skis shine!  Downhill baby! Yee Ha! 

One of the new things I tried this trip was different energy bars from Emergency Essentials.  One kind were called Millennium, a 400 calorie bar in cherry, orange and blueberry flavors.  Texture is like cross between a hard candy and graham cracker.  Taste OK, not great but certainly tolerable.  The other bar – Mainstay – those were awesome!  They had a softer texture and a nice butter cookie taste.  Mainstay come as 3 bars in s single foil package.  Each 400 calorie bar is only 2”x2”.  Takes no time at all to finish – good for fast calories on short breaks.

About midway thru the morning the grade increased.  There were several long steady climbs, one forced me to clip out and carry my skis.  At the top I took a moment to put on a long patch of blue wax – I really needed something sticky – blue did the trick.  The rest of the climbs were more manageable (read not all arms).  Eventually we got to the height of land and were treated to a couple of mile + long  screaming descents along with another 6 miles of fast and easy downhill striding.  

Within a few miles of Trout Brook Crossing, we could see the Traveler range to the ESE.  It gave a good perspective of were the bridge was and hopefully our food drop.  I felt like a horse smelling hay and just kept pressing…. Bart and Jim were close behind but I didn’t want to stop.  I was in the zone and was determined to make the crossing by 2PM @ 3 mph for 18 miles.   We did it.  Every one arrived at the bridge in just about 6 hours.  The sky was a deep azure blue, the air had warmed to the upper teens and no wind.  What an absolutely beautiful day!

Downstream view of Trout Brook

So, where was the food drop?  We looked about but no sign….. uggg!  We had to wait… and wait….and wait some more.  Eventually Andy’s sled could be heard in the distance.  Not too late ~ about 45 minutes…. Not to bad.  We divvy up the rations and head the last 2 miles to South Branch pond.

When we get there, 3 Rangers are hanging out talking about a moose.  They say it’s been hanging
around camp for 3 weeks.  That’s when I see him(her) – standing right in front of the cabin!  We actually had to walk around him to get in or out of the cabin – but the poor guy never moved.  Seemed to be suffering and not willing to use any energy to do anything.  He just stood there – munching on the few branches the little red pine had left. 

We were sharing the cabin with 3 others.  Their plan was to follow us to Russell in the morning and share the cabin there too.  Big difference was they had 2 sleds plus their backpacks.  We only had backpacks.  Jim and I knew they were in for a big surprise on the trail to Roaring Brook. 

Forecast for tomorrow had been for rain and sleet but the Rangers said it changed to 6” snow with strong gusty wind… We’d be smart to get an early start.

Sunset on North Traveler from  South Branch Pond

Saturday, March 5

Part I, Day 1 – The Tote Road North…

Start/end/time       9:15 – 3:30;  6:20
Distance/ascent/pace 15.7;  +1168/-543;  2.5 mph
Food & water   2.5 L; mainstay & millennium bars; turkey tetrazzini (2,500 cal)

Starting 2 weeks before the trip I was collecting everything I could think of that I might want to bring so that I didn’t forget anything important.  Then during the last week, I went thru the piles of stuff and eliminated at least half of what I started with.  In the end, I had pared it down to a manageable 28 lbs – not including water and a few incidentals.  With 3 liters of water on ‘go’ day the pack weighed in at 36 lbs.  A very manageable weight for me.
I got to the Abol Bridge parking area by 9AM but Jim and Bart were already there.  A few smart-aleck jokes later we were on our way.  Air temp about 12*, NW wind at 15+ under a clear blue sky.  I had some trepidation about the Friday snowfall, expecting 12” to 17” in the Park that would really make Day 1 a long, tough slog.  Fortunately the new snow was more like 4” – enough to cover the crusty stuff and make skiing really nice.

Stump Pond, looking north to Doubletop
The breezy day with moderate temps made moisture management a non-issue, although my hydration tube and bite valve froze up after 2 hours.  Made me dig into my pack for the spare bottle….. Using a hydration bladder in winter was new to me.  I did have an insulated sleeve but didn’t realize the bite valve would ice up so quick.  I was able to free it twice by warming it in my mouth.  But the wind chill on the tube – thru the insulation was too much and that froze solid.  I learned that I need to blow air in to back drain the tube after each drink and keep the valve in my shirt.

Doubletop Mt
All of Day 1 was on the Tote Road following snowmobile tracks.  Not the best conditions but far from bad.  Only in a few places were there any drifts to speak of.   I was on waxable skis (Fischer SC – not a back country ski at all).  Jim and Bart had short, wide BC skis with scales.  As expected they could out pace me on the uphills but had to step aside on the down’s or they’d get run over – by me!  Special Green was the wax of the day and worked very well all day.  Sun was nice but ineffective at warming the day.  Lots of photo-ops along the way.  

Near Martson Trail
Towards the end I was feeling my feet – I was getting a hot spot but didn’t want to stop.  I was pretty sure there was no blister and found out later I was right.  Air temp was definitely dipping as we pulled in to Nesowadnahunk and Camp Cozy.   Water and firewood were quick and easy.  Not sure where Mandy got water but the spring was very clean looking to us.   We had a 4 liter Platypus gravity filtration system and an 8 liter collapsible bag of Jim’s, making dinner and breakfast water a single fill event. 

Old guy gets a cake!

At dinner I jokingly asked Jim if he brought me a Birthday Cake…. He says, “Yes”…. But I thought he was joking.  An hour or so later – after dinner,  I see him pull something from his pack…. Surprise! A mini chocolate cake!! I was stunned to say the least.  Didn’t take long for the 3 of us to devour it all – yummy! 

Looking ahead we decided we should be on the road early – tomorrow was going to be a very long day – 19+ miles in all.  Wakeup was for 6, and we needed to start by 8.  So naturally bedtime was early too, like 8PM.  No complaints here.

Day 1 profile - Abol Bridge to Cozy Cabin at Nesowadnahunk

Part 1, Day 2 coming tomorrow afternoon....

Grand Tour of Baxter State Park

Well I'm back and it was a great trip.  We skied carrying full packs a total of 28 hours, covered 66 miles, including 4100' of ascent in 5 days. 

The crew from right to left:  Jim O'Malley, Bart Plourde & me
 A full trip report is in progress and Part I should be posted this evening after my 18+ mile long run. 

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 23

One digression leads to another...

Things have been very busy lately.  Currently in week 17 of the November OS and workouts are as tough as ever with longer intervals and higher FTP targets.  No issues to speak of other than being on the edge of fatigue all the time. 

My new Team outfit came the other day….. this is the tri top and shorts.  I also bought my first pair of bibs (not shown). 

I can’t wait to show off my new colors at Boston.  There should be 6 to10 EN athletes there all in Team garb.  IMLP is going to have over 30 athletes all in Team EN outfits.  That is going to be awesome!

The OS by itself isn’t too bad, but when I toss in lots of run volume as I ramp up for Boston and the 2 half marathon tune-ups, it adds up.  I also started swimming too.  So my normal Monday and Friday “off” days are now swim days.  I had signed up for some lessons but my instructor hasn’t really been all that great and she had to cancel twice.  I’m thinking of canceling the rest of the lessons and just working on my own again.  Most of my swims are 2000 or 3000 all pull.  I average about 1:55 per 100.

On the run front, getting ready for Boston has been going well since I finally got past the calf twinge that came on during the VO2 max sets in January.  I have been doing fairly well with my 2 key workouts – the long run and my mid-distance tempo runs.  Soon enough I will add back the third key workout: speed skills.  They usually come in the form of Yasso 800’s or hill repeats.  But between the cold crappy weather and the intense bike intervals, I just don’t have it in me to load them up yet.  Still have 8 weeks to go – plenty of time.
This past Sunday I did my long run of 22 miles on the Deadmill.  Yikes!  Well, it really wasn’t that bad.  It was much better than the single digit cold, windy, icy outdoor option.  Definitely turned some heads at EN….. They must thing I am loony tunes…..maybe they’re right…

My final long runs leading up to the race will sandwich 2 20’s and 2 half marathons like this ….. 20 – 13.1 – 20 – 13.1 – 12 then the race.  I did this last year leading up to the Kentucky Derby Marathon as I was seeking my first BQ.  The protocol left me fresh, strong and healthy – it was weather and my race execution that killed me.  I had been training in the cold NE spring and race day in KY was in the 80’s when I finished – well, I bonked.  Still I liked the training and I’ll try the same routine again, only I need do a better job of executing.

Big news of the week is my trip into Baxter State Park with Jim O’Malley and one other.  We’re calling it the Grand Tour of BSP.  It will be a 5 day, 65 mile ski with full packs to circumnavigate the park.  We start Saturday at Abol Bridge and head to a bunkhouse at Nesowadnahunk campground – 16 miles on the Tote road.  Day 2 continues on the Tote Road to South Branch Pond campground – 19 miles.  From there we head across the lakes and thru the woods to Russell Pond, only 9 miles that day.  From Russell we continue on to Roaring Brook, an 8 mile trip.  The bugger of that leg is a major river crossing that can be scary if the water level changed enough to break up the ice.  Then several miles of cross hill skiing that includes 10+ drainages – 20’ deep gullies with little brooks in them.  Steep in, steep out, go a quarter mile, repeat.  The last day is longer but mostly on a tote road some 13 miles back to Abol Bridge. 

The long range forecast is for 6” snow the night before we start which will really help to make conditions excellent.  Then the weather alternates between partly sunny and chance of snow.  Overnight temps in the single digits and daytime temps to mid teens.  Perfect conditions for a ski trip.  I hope to keep my pack to 35lbs with water and food.