Thursday, April 30, 2009

It is All Fun & Games Until Someone Gets Kidney Failure!

Hi Everyone, this is just a really quick advisement to all runners and endurance athletes, both experienced and novice, that mixing Ibuprofen and activity can be extremely dangerous.

The last couple of days I have been having a scent of ammonia in my nose, wondering if someone is trying to poison me at work, but I have been fighting a cold for the last few weeks and occasionally get those persistent scents associated with stuffed up sinuses. Upon a quick search of what could cause a scent of ammonia, I found Kindey failure as one of the causes... yikes!

This comes on the heels of researching hyponatremia and how it can effect Ultra Runners, along with some other research about ibuprofen. Where I am not exactly convinced I am going into renal failure, I am well aware that my hair brained idea of popping a couple Ibuprofen to stay any inflamation of my IT Band during longer races or training runs may have some serious side effects beyond the general advisement about doing so to mask unwanted pain. I am slightly concerned to the point that I am making a doctor's appointment to at least make sure everything is functioning properly. Especially with longer races and adventures on the horizon.

Since I now know the level of my stupidity, I am hoping the discontinuation of the ibuprofen and the healing power of the human body will take over.

Nothing like a nice scare to get you going in the morning.

I have continued my research, my sister the nurse tells me a normal dose of Ibuprofen is 800 mgs, so consuming four over the course of a long run might not be the worst thing in the world. In fact, as long as a hydration strategy is followed, hyponatremia isn't certain.

Plus there is Dan's comment below and consultation with other Ultra runners that seem to agree that anti-inflamatories might not be such a bad thing.

This just goes to show that anything must be under scrutiny and carefully considered, as everyone's body chemistry is different. Still not sure what to think, but believe me, I'll be looking into it.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Blue Hills Fox Trot 10 Miler: "Agua Erotica"... Among Other Thoughts.

"If your goal is plain survival, be clever - not beautiful"
- Hawksley Workman's song 'Clever, Not Beautiful'

There once was time where I'd get myself so worked up before races I'd be in the bathroom for too many minutes taking care of the byproducts of pre race anxiety. These days I only worry about essential gear, and that is pretty much it.

I am competitive, but I have been on sort of a weird path training wise since getting injured last October. It has been one of those paths that one might find themselves on just before dawn, still in darkness, going slow because the terrain is not altogether identifiable, but continuing to move forward because it makes the most amount of sense and is easier than standing idle in the vast nothingness with your thoughts.

This truly is a strange place to be in. A year ago I was starting to physically develop to handle the stress of running past an hour, but it really hurt. I had more speed, but my body was still converting back into a runner's body. People might think that is bull ticky, but having gone from speed baron, to sedintary man, to runner reborn, I have felt and seen the muscle groups in my body reconstitute themselves to adapt to the change in activity.

Oh yes, race report...

So I am definitely not in great shape right now 'racing' wise. I have been working on the longer runs because my IT Band seems to be cool with the combination of slow mileage and trails, which means less of a base, and virtually no speed or tempo work so far. My times are way off what I would like to be doing right now, but running slow sure beats sitting on the couch! Each race is a new adventure and a new opportunity to get just a little faster. Plus, next year when races are revisited I'll be shattering these times :-).

So the race itself, it is hard to say how great of an event it is because the field is limited to 250 and I am really looking forward to coming back next year! The Colonial Road Runners put on a great event, and you arrive to an army of smiling volunteers. The race is another with no frills - no T-shirts or trophies, but I would much rather have a finisher's award of freshly baked cookies! The terrain is a nice mix of challenging single track and easier fire roads, but it is everpresently rolling. I discovered once I found a little bit of cadence and smooth pace I turned an ankle as a little reminder of who was really in control. There are a couple brook crossings (my favorite!), and a couple switchback climbs. Plenty of juice, water, snacks, and friendly faces at the finish as well. I would suggest, though, if you are lucky enough to get in, make an additional donation above and beyond the $5 fee. All the proceeds go to the Trailside Museum, which draws its life from State funding, and we all know how that is working in these times. If you have the desire to run a trail race, odds are you love nature, and have or will have kids that will truly benefit from the animals and exhibits provided by the museum.

Breakheart Dan reciprocates this in his race report (found here), but the heat was sneaky. The weather reports made it obvious it would be warm, but I honestly think this was my first time running in 70 degree weather in months. The start was on a shady, paved section of the reservation, 3 mile and 10 mile trail runners bunched together. I walked through the crowd looking for my hombres, Breakheart Dan and kZ, but couldn't find them, and figured I'd pick a shady spot somewhere in the middle, knowing I'd see them at some point.

Start call goes off and I feel a little spring in my step. I figure I'll go with it for the first couple minutes, knowing the 3 milers will be directed off the trail at a detour over their course, while the 10 milers ease on down the fire road for the long haul.

Oddly enough the heat really wasn't bothering me those first couple miles. There were a couple of extended downhills, and I realize that in a race like this, pounding the ascents are great ways to get a few seconds back that will be lost in the climbs. I didn't look at my first split, I wish I had, and then just before mile two my body provided the initial signs that I had probably picked a pace that was not smart. Two mile split 17:23 (8:51, 8:32), which is where I should be, but am not.

Arrive at the first water stop, feeling alright, but definitely smelling the smoke of a fast approaching flame out. Mile three what where the first large hill arrived, which was just enough to zap the legs still tired from my Marathon Monday tribute training run, but I can't complain, my 18.5 miles is nothing compared to kZ's Don't Run Boston 50k adventure over these same Blue Hills, on tougher trails, over the course of 8 hours. Just about then I hear the dynamic duo scream out, "Rob"!

We ran together for the next four miles, surging every little bit, busting chops, bitching about the heat. The company was great for morale, and actually gave a little lift (it was that or the Double Latte Gel I pounded). I said a brief adios at mile 4 and ran the fifth mile in 9:14, which was a vast improvement to the 25 minutes it took to amble miles 3 and 4. The three amigos met up just about the midway water stop, which, as alluded to in the synopsis, seemed to come out of no where. We drank and doused, and Dan, with the comment of the Spring, in joy utters: "Agua Erotica!" Seriously people, you can't make this up! We laughed for a good quarter mile, and then another climb was a fitting mood killer - this trail running is serious business.

This is where I started falling apart. My quads were toast, my stomach was turning over, and the heat was breaking my concentration. I began to fall off and Dan urged me to go with him, which I was able to do for one of the climbs, but could not on a second incline. Mentally and emotionally I danced with the demons those next few miles. A runner or two would pass here and there. I started to feel slightly good, run a little, and then just get zapped by the heat and exhaustion. There were a couple of other friendly runners I managed to chat with a little. Mostly just encouragement as we yo-yoed with each other over the last two miles. I dug in an found that remaining push to look cool running through the finish and grab a spot or two, and then tried to find a shady spot to go and dry heave.

Of course, my two sons were excited to see me finish and wanted to hang, which sort of was cool, only I didn't want them to see Dad throw up all over himself.
(Still not fast, but smiling every step of the way - Photo credit Breakheart Dan)

1st half: 52:24
2nd half: 58:41
That would be a second half Bonk-o-rama!

Hung out with Breakheart Dan and kZ after the event. Listened to more of kZ's tale of DRK50K - amazing. Drank from the Gatorade cup o' bliss. Realized how I have never been very social, and if it weren't for this blog, I probably wouldn't have any other friends or experiences that have come from meeting others in the trail running community. Having friends to train and race with really is a blessing.
It is so cool to come to a race and greet people with names like Nipmuck Dave, kZ, Gilly or Pixie. Breakheart Dan and I have both lamented that we desire our unique trail monikers, but these things seem to come through a far more organic nature. Some do come from people's blog handles, so maybe it is time I change mine, I'd rather not be known as RunninRob, but I'd like to earn a moniker, rather than impose one on myself. If the stars align, and Dan, kZ, and I run the PF50k together, there may be enough exhaustion induced creativity to earn these names.

(Post race - a Motley Crew, coming to a course near you!)

Until The Next Adventurous Thought or Challenge...


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Would LOVE to Post, But Work is Kicking My Butt...

...and working pays the entry fees and cost for gear, etc.

In brief, until I can elaborate let me throw a few ideas and questions out there:

1.) Blue Hills Fox Trot 10 miler... Rob goes out way too fast 8:30's first two miles, BONK way too early. Ran with kZ and Breakheart Dan for a little while and discovered "Agua Erotica" (copyright Breakheart Dan). It seems to be a combination of heat, humidity, goofy trail runners, and a water stop that seeems to appear out of no where in the middle of a ten mile trail race with no road crossings. Water never tasted so good!

2.) Does anyone else consume Ibuprofen during long races? I read an article that doing so promotes Hyponatremia. Help!

3.) Thinking about using the GAC 6-Hour as another long training run in preparation for the Pineland Farms 50k, I know, I know, make up your stinkin' mind! It seems Breakheart Dan might go to run it with kZ, and mentioned 12/min mile for a target pace, which I think I am capable of, and will gladly sign up for a 50k if I know I'll have a friend or two (not of the imaginary variety) to help through those last 10 miles. Shared suffering is far cooler than solo suffering!

Well, I'll hopefully have a moment or two soon to elaborate a little, but until then...


Saturday, April 25, 2009

App. in the Mail...

So I have officially, at least mentally, commited my feet, legs, and all other vital organs and systems in my body to the GAC 6 Hour. I think my legs shuddered and cramped when I put the envelope in the mail box. :-)

Yes, probably a stupid thing to shortly post, but it means a lot to me. Most events I enter these days are sort of nonchalant because I have come back to running after living a sedintary lifestyle, where running a 5k was the ultimate challenge, and these days, for the most part, I know I'll be able to finish no matter the distance or the terrain. The 6 hour seems simple enough, keep moving for six hours over a 3 mile course, but I totally respect and understand the challenge.

Excited, but sort of nervous...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Serving Two Masters, Bad Ice Cubes, and Doing the Fox Trot

Thank God Sunday will not be a dance contest because I really can't dance! I can recite to you the steps to the fox trot, but the action itself, not so much!

So far this has been a weird week. I feel like I have been on a right brain/left brain tug of war when it comes to the training. I basically did nothing over the weekend and then decided to head out on Sunday afternoon for a little 'speed' work. Keeping in mind I haven't done anything of the sort for months, I wasn't expecting much!

Went out and decided to just do a little 'pick up' workout. Running 4 minutes at a moderate pace to begin, and then going up a gear or two for 1 minute of faster running. In leiu of walking breaks, I decided to make it continuous - 6 sets for 30 minutes of running. Quads were adequately thrashed at my first attempt to add a little speed to the training, but it was good, I didn't wuss out or stop and walk for the latter reps.

Monday I spent the morning moping because I hadn't gotten my stuff together to get out and run long, which basically meant I wouldn't have another opportunity to do a long training run between now and the GAC Six-Hour coming up on Mother's Day, basically because both weekends are races, and would probably be a little too much trying to piggy back a longer run and a race. Watching the Boston Marathon coverage, one of the perks of living back in Mass. on Patriots Day, I quickly got inspired by two amazing performances by Ryan Hall and Kara Goucher. Yes, both finished in 3rd place in their respective races, but both ran to win, and just when it seemed like Kara was down for the count she surged back. Great, great stuff.

Thinking it is never too late to turn a day destine for a zero, into something of worth, I quickly gathered the gear and headed out to the trails. The basic goal: to run for three hours and do so in a manner where I didn't feel too awfully thrashed afterwards. At the close of the day I had 18.5 miles on the Garmin over 3 hours and 31 minutes, the problem was it turned out to be learning through suffering. The last three miles were not very fun, and instead of putting me in the right frame of mind going into the 6 Hour, they made me happy I hadn't sent in my application yet.

The first couple of hours were okay, but from 2:10 to 2:40 I just lost it altogether and really couldn't sustain any extended periods of running. I think I am just too ambitious for my liking at this point. I went into the run thinking I'd drink every 20 minutes, eat every 40, pop ibuprofen at 2 hours, as well as a S-Cap at 2 hours. My strategy was to use a 10 min. run / 2 min. walk strategy. Though the first 20 minutes were without a walking break, and at a pace under 10 minutes a mile. First mistake. I also tried to walk the ups and downs, which screwed with my timing of walking breaks. The second mistake was that as I got closer to two hours I didn't scale back the intervals in a logical progression 9/3, 8/4, 7/5. Instead, I sort of plopped down at 2:10 or 2:20 mad I couldn't handle 10 minutes of continuous running, and thinking about the time, distance, and pace. I also started feeling gross from the Power Bars, or Succeed Ultra, or S-Cap, or something.

Cover 18.5 over 3 1/2 hours isn't bad for a bloke who hasn't had much of a training base since coming back from injury land, and in my growing knowledge of Buddhist Philosophy, one of the elements to Happiness is Inner Peace, and this partly arrives through reflecting on the things we have, and not longing for those we do not. Greater fitness will come with more training, but the ability to be out in the solitude and serenity of nature, happily plodding along, is a very nice ability to have.

When I arrived home I had the usual cramping muscles and aches, but I also developed a pain in the pit of my stomach that made sleep uncomfortable and the following day unpleasant sitting at my desk at work. Bad ice cube? Rejection of the S-Cap? Sort of baffled and scared at the same time, but I feel okay now, so what ever it may have been has hopefully passed.

I am still optimistic about attempting the GAC 6 hour, I don't really have any other times to experiment between now and then for a longer period of time, but perhaps I can go with the distance goal of running my first marathon ever, road or trail. Yes, I know, I shouldn't be ultra dreaming without the Marathon under the belt. Whatever, I sort of find that line of thinking a little passe', especially if you have long training runs in excess of 2 hours on multiple occassions. Remember, this blog should be a spot for discussion, so please fire away with comments!

Looking forward to my Fox Trot with Trail Running friends Sunday, also with the hopefully 1st Annual MacDonald Family Hill Climb to the top of Big Blue following the race. I have a three-year old and five-year old that want to trail race Dad to the top of the 'big' Hill, and last year after the Skyline Race at the Blue Hills the older, then 4, was halfway to the observation tower before we reigned him in.

NMC Overlook Trail 7 Miler to follow the next weekend in Fitchburg, and then the GAC 6 Hour... hopefully. I honestly look at the 6 hour as my 100 miler right now. I know what I am currently capable of and 6 hours just seems far out, but no one arrives at a 100 or 150 KNOWING they are going to be a finisher. I know I can do 4 hours, those remain two are where I endeavor to move beyond myself.

The next few weeks are also exciting because I will be beginning a coaching position working with people who want to run and walk their first 5k, great stuff!

Happy Trails!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Oh No... Bitten by the Ultra Bug...

Okay, another quick post, which never guarantees anything from me!

So if you have been reading this blog, you know my goal is an Ultra, and Pineland Farms was initially my thought of debut. I have basically eliminated PF from my race calendar, and have turned my focus to the Eastern New England Trail Running Series. I have one race under my belt, and look forward to the next race a week from Saturday and then the third about a week after that. So all is good in the hood, right?

Then yesterday afternoon I get an email from Trail Pixie wondering if I'd be interested in going over to Bradley Palmer for a run. Hmm, let's see pounding out three lonely miles on the roads, or running trails with an actual human being? Yeah, no contest.

So Trail Pixie and I headed over to Bradley Palmer, and she gave me the tour of the 3 mile loop used for the Mother's Day 6 Hour Run put on local Trail and Ultra enthusiasts, Gil's Athletic Club, or GAC for all 'in the know'.

As we plodded along I thought about how a couple of weeks ago I was open to the idea of making a really conservative attempt at the 6 hour, then after my 4 hour training run, which broke me hard, I was all set to run ENETRS races and get myself to a little bit of a better place for an Autumn ultra. Now as I sit here and think about it, I am more open to the idea, especially after covering the course, and hearing Trail Pixie's story of her 6 Hour Run last year.

Yes, I am probably under trained, but the 6 hour allows the flexibility of tapping out at the end of any loop. It is a three mile loop, which means less gear and more opportunity to have a personalized aid station stocked with all the things that could make it doable. Most of all though, it is a great challenge, and will undoubtedly be a learning experience, and will certainly challenge both mind and body, which will be huge for the possibility of running a 50 miler in November.

We'll see... I got my supply of Succeed Ultra and S-Caps this week, so I am going to experiment this weekend on a three hour run, but there is that positive attitude that looks at the Six-Hour Run and thinks, "Why the hell not?"

Happy Trails Everyone...

Consult the GAC website if you might be interested in the Mother's Day Six-Hour (There is also a three mile walk): Http://

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Race Recap - Merrimack River Trail Run

I need to keep this brief because I am sick as a dog from hanging out in the raw and cold Saturday Morning before, during and after the Rivah Run. Coursing fluids through the system to try to get everything back in working order.

As advertised from fellow trail runners and bloggers, the course is fairly flat over the first 3 miles, and then the climbing and descending begins for the next two to the turn around point. Then the battle continues with the hills to the last three miles of mostly flat running. Basically the hills were my downfall. The first three miles all had splits under 10 minutes a mile, but the hilly miles were well above that. Fortunately I had enough at the end to rattle off negative splits of 9:55, 9:41, and 9:16.

It was a total lift seeing kZ in the group ahead of me for most of the first half of the race, and Trail Pixie was lurking somewhere behind me for the first 9 miles, but came surging past me and a group of three other guys. It was neat seeing the results and having kZ, Trail Pixie and myself all finishing under 1:40 and within 4 1/2 minutes of each other. Great race guys!

All things considered, I finished the course in 1:39:50, 152nd place out of 228. Above all though, I am just happy to be trail racing again. The winter was long and trying. I have no speed work, or tempo work, or hill work under my belt since getting injured in October. Meeting fellow trail junkies and getting muddy over wild and wet courses together is way too much fun to mope around complaining about how I'd rather be in better shape before I race.

The bottom line is that the adventure of trail races makes me happy and the middle miles of hills at the Merrimack are chock full of stream crossings and roller coaster ascents and descents, who could ask for more?

Special shout out to Trail Pixie and her fabulous Gator Bait Gators: Threw on my custom made pair prior to the race and can't wait to get out on the trail for more training with the Gator Baits!

Numerous photos from the event can be found here:
Courtesy of the photographic handiwork of Jim Johnson ('Double J") and Jamie Doucett.

Click here to see my honest attempt at ascending the power line hill (outbound):
Courtesy of Jaime Doucett.

Next week I hope to get the Succeed and S-Caps I ordered for some experimentation out on the trails - perhaps a three hour run next weekend. Next adventure will be the Blue Hills Fox Trot Trail 10 miler on April 26th.

Happy Trails (Cough, cough, sniff, sniff)...

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Against All Good Logic... Goin' Long

"Don't Act Broken, even when you are broken" - Hawksley Workman, or, "I must break you / You will lose" - Ivan Drago, or, "Death is Quick" - Hey Rosetta!

This was another weird week for me. I logged a couple of runs, but I honestly had an issue getting out the door. I thought a lot about my IT band, I thought about my realistic training goals, I thought about what I want to do with every aspect of my life. Still sort of thinking about running Pineland Farms, I took some advice from Pathfinder to get some hills in. I headed off to a smaller conservation area that has a steep hill, I did a little trail recon as this was my first trip actually running through these woodlands, and hit the steep climb a couple times. Huffing and puffing like I smoke a carton a day, I headed home thinking to myself, "Well, clearly I am not ready for anything remotely hilly".

The rest of the week I was plowed by thoughts of work and concentrating on how to preserve my job. That aptly drained me physically and mentally, thus no running until today.

I had no intentions of running, it was beautiful, but I was bummed. I was thinking about a training plan that resembled scaling everything back. Ditching long runs until running 4 times a week @ 20 minutes a run feels okay with the knee - basically bagging everything in order to be healthy for the Fall. Then I stumbled across the pictures from some trail friends tearing it up on Saturday at the Blue Hills. I wanted to be a part of the run, but I know the Blue Hills are no joke, and my current level of fitness really doesn't allow me to rock hop on the granite faces down there. Frustration escalated and there I was filling the Nathan HPL to the top with EVERY intention of pushing myself to three hours.

- Ibuprofen
- 2 Clif Bars
- 1 Power Bar
- 70 ounces of Gatorade in Nathan HPL 20
- TrailCam & Cellphone
- Hat and Sunglasses
- Asics Trabucos w/ pair of Wright Socks
- T-shirt and Shorts, Sunny, upper 50's and Blue, blue sky!

As I mentioned above, the basic directive was to go out for a three hour run. I wanted to get some decent mileage, but time on feet, hydration, eating, and walk-run strategy were the major principles with which I wanted to experiment.

First 1.6 miles on the roads were okay, probably a little too fast, but I was distracted trying to tighten and fasten the HPL to ride properly. My initial thought was to drink every 20 minutes, walk every 30 minutes for upwards of 5 minutes as needed, and chow a power bar/ clif bar every hour or so. I also wanted to experiment with taking a couple Ibuprofen pills halfway through to see if that would abate the pain and pinching I had at the end of the Fells run a few weeks back.

Through the connector trails that bring runners and hikers from Georgetown-Rowley State Forest to the Hood Pond trails I was loving the Springtime weather, and it is clear that Mother Nature is in labor, getting ready to give birth to the new season. Although, as I came around a corner I saw old man winter's claws still gripping in - damn, should have brought the Kahtoolas! :-)

Through the Hood Pond section of the Bay Circuit Trail, and across Route 1, I arrived at the entrance to Willowdale's Pine Swamp section:
I never ever enjoy this section of trail from Route 1 to the tree line on the East side of Pine Swamp because it reminds me of a horror movie. Dead pines and lots of mud, nothing romantic here. It is rumored that this section of trail made Nathaniel Hawthrone throw up his salt cod back in the early 19th Century... alright, maybe not. But it could have happened. :-) Another delight this short section beholds is a rickety foot bridge constantly tormented by a colony of beavers that have clearly been busy building their lodge this young Spring:

The lookout saw me and darted into the water for safety. I looked at the bridge and thought, "Eh, what the hell". I made it to the other side and thanked my good karma, especially after a section of bridge began submerging with my initial steps:

Into Willowdale proper, I looked at my Garmin and saw I hadn't quite been at it for an hour. Kept cruising along. Was just overwhelmed with how great the day had been. I gave no notice of mileage or pace, just wanted to cruise along. I really have to thank Nipmuck Dave in this respect because I barely talked with him during the group run at the Fells three weeks ago (he was cruising over the terrain as I was crawling my way over the rocks), but I learned a very important lesson by watching his gait. It almost looks like a shuffle, but is effective in avoiding most rocks or roots. It seemed like he was barely lifting his knees, but he was moving quick. I think this really helped me during the first half of this run because I expended far less energy on flats and descents using this faux-shuffle style. Thanks Dave!

I have to admit, Willowdale looked so different in the Sunny Afternoon and I got slightly lost, but relied on the compass on the GPS to move in the general direction I knew I should have been going. Eventually I picked up the Bay Circuit again, and the bridge over the Ipswich River - into Bradley Palmer State Park:

(Over the Ipswich)

I lost the trail first thing into Bradley Palmer, and I was a little unsure about sticking with the BCT while there, not really knowing anything about the conditions and terrain. Realizing I didn't have any better ideas, I found the next white blaze and ambled on. The recently consumed power bar started to provide a little bit of a lift, which was good because I found myself ascending Moon Hill. Arriving at the top one enters an open field which instantly reminded me of a scene where there should be some large modern art sculpture prepared for a Pink Floyd video - Boy I hope this isn't where I hit the wall!:

Following the perimeter of the field I eventually caught back up with the Bay Circuit, going up and over Blueberry Hill. After descending Blueberry Hill I found myself lost again, encountering what appeared to be a trail covered in grass, but was actually a quagmire of mud and standing water. I splish-sploshed my way to the end of the bog, finding one of the access roads that go through Bradley Palmer. I was not agreeable to heading further up the boggy trail and really wanted to find the BCT again. Following the Access Road for a little jaunt I noticed I was at 1 hour, 40 minutes OUT. I felt pretty good, yet I could hear the lyrics from one of the songs by a new band I really like, Hey Rosetta!: "Ambition Give Me Wings, Ambition Break My Legs". I decided running for another 5 minutes would get me close to 3:30 for the run, which is essentially what I did at the Fells, so no harm, right?

Well kids, I noticed I was pretty close to 10 miles out and thought there was no harm in running 20 miles, right? 1:45 turned to 1:50, and then the BCT spit me out on an unfamiliar local road. At this point I saw that I still hadn't eclipsed 10 miles yet, and followed the road for as long as it would take to get that 10.

Here's where I arrived:

(South Entrance, Bradley Palmer S.P.)

(Cool 'Castle Gate' to the Park)

About a quarter mile into the park I finally hit 10 miles and promptly turned around to head for home - I guess this means I am now committed! This is where the torment really started to seep in. I was hydrating like crazy, and I purposefully removed the Bladder from the HPL to see where I was regarding fluid. It appears I only actually took in 20-24 ounces over the first 1:45 of the run, which may have contributed to what follows.

Out of Bradley Palmer, and down the road, I came across the sign for the Pingree School where I initially met Breakheart Dan and kZ:

(Sorry, I snapped it as I was running - no time to stop, I need to get home!)

Having eclipsed the 2-hour barrier I reached in and grabbed the Ibuprofen I was keeping. I had been feeling some discomfort in the legs, but I am not sure if it was IT related, or just the extended, unwanted time on the pavement. The payoff was great because for the remainder of the run I didn't have any IT Band issues. The compression strap was great, I loosed it a little before it had a chance to kill my hamstring, and the Ibuprofen allegedly alleviated any inflammation - that test was a success! What was not a success was the consumption of a Clif Bar at two hours. I had to choke it down in small bits and it really turned my stomach over. It only amplified the discomfort the Gatorade was clearly causing me. I didn't hurl, but boy it seemed like one of those times when yakking vs. not yakking would be the way to go. Wow, a lesson learned from earlier days of irresponsible consumption of alcohol, wonders never cease!

I quickly fell apart at about 2:20. It wasn't good. I easily took all five minutes of a walking break early, and then ascended Blueberry Hill, which just about made me decide to call it a day at the Fishing Bridge and call the wife for extraction. Back into the Pink Floydian pasture - no High Hopes, just Brain Damage... "The Lunatic is on the Grass... Got to keep the Luners on the path", indeed. I thought I was hallucinating when I saw a baby carriage coming toward me on the perimeter path, but it was a couple that was dreadfully lost. I got a little break here giving them directions ( I hope I was coherent!), and mercifully headed DOWN Moon Hill, wooooo hooo!

Across the Fishing Bridge and back into Willowdale, which is NOT a kind place when you are running the main trails in a clockwise direction. Whatever I had left was taken here, and the last 80 minutes were completed on pure grit, honestly. At this point the 30-5 run walk strategy was out the window. I ran as long as I could, and walked when I had to. I made haste on the flats and descents, and arrived back at Beaver Dam Bridge. It dawned on me that I only had an hour of time left, you can see it did nothing for my spirit:

(Look Mom, I am worn down to the core! This is a fun ride! Zombie Runner for sure!)

About a half second after this picture I took a digger into a log and a mud puddle, good times! Talk about beating a guy when he is down! It actually sort of cracked me up!

I continued to try to work the flats and the downhills, but even the flats were not going well with movement. I just felt that primal need for "relentless forward motion", as they say in the Ironman Triathlon circles.

Amid my crapulence I was treated to another cool critter appearance! One sure sign of the arrival of spring is hearing the chorus of the 'Pseudacris crucifer' or as we call them here in New England, the Spring Peep-ahs! (Volume might be a little sketchy as the TrailCam has a crappy Mic.):

I exited the BCT and was back on the roads again. Everything hurt and I could feel that my shoes had clay and mud inside. It was really pissing me off, but at this point I knew if I stopped to do maintenance on the shoes I might not get going again. I was basically employing a run .2 of a mile, walk .1 of a mile strategy. Running longer if I could. Eventually I hit the 20 mile mark, and then kept going to get 4 hours, I figured it was only right.

Wanna see what four hour feet look like...? Please also take care an notice the new personal champion of blood blisters on the right foot. The thing was easily the size of a large green grape. I was so proud.

All being told I covered 20.6 miles over 4:00:39 (11:40 pace). When I uploaded the data to MotionBased I got: 21.72 miles, Moving Time: 4:08:46 (11:27 pace), Total: 4:26:19 (12:15 pace).

Either way this was a most excellent adventure, and a good butt-kicking for me. I pushed myself past that safe place and left everything out on the trail. I honestly think more training on the roads would chew me up and spit me out, which makes me wonder, do I become one of those runners that sticks to the trails? It makes no sense to me that I can run for four hours on trails, but basic road mileage is more of a test to the system. I feel like I have a long way to go still, but doing these types of training runs can only help. I also wonder if consuming S-Caps or a more specialized Sports Drink like Succeed would help with the stomach issues and the overall quality of the run. I spaced the fluid properly, running out with a mile to go, but was it the wrong fluid? More experiments are needed, for sure.

Still debating whether or not I'll be running the Merrimack 10 miler next weekend, but after this run I am definitely encouraged! Plus it looks like there will be trail friends there too!

I am left wondering if there is anything better than a 4 hour jaunt over the countryside on a beautiful spring afternoon and evening to cure what ails you? I think not! :-)

Happy Trails Everyone!