Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Caribbean hills and track workouts

I was able to hang up my tights, gloves and hat for a couple weeks while I sail a few races in the Caribbean this month. Winter weather training has certainly been a challenge this year and I know I have a bit more in store for me when I get back. That said, it's definitely nice to have a break from the snow and freezing temps, even if it includes very steep hills!
I was back in the BVI last week racing and running around my old turf in the North Sound, Virgin Gorda. It was great to run a couple of my old routes, out to Oil Nut and up to Hog Heaven. I snuck in an interval workout on the horse track, too, the only flat area on the island!

This week's track

We had a day off of racing on Sunday and I headed out of the house without my shoes but decided to hike over Guy's Trail in my flips anyways. 
Running or hiking it is good to get to the top of the hills here because the views are always worth it!

This morning in St. Barths I found a great 8 mile loop that ran along some of the quieter roads on the island. I headed down into Toiny and around the south facing side toward Saline. As I circled back into St. Jean I was back on the main road and had to play the shoulder hopping game when the big trucks came by (the roads are really small here). All in all a good run and a part of the island I haven't seen before. I think I'll head down to the beach and get in a little cross training with a swim. 

Sunday, March 8, 2015


Sometimes you go to bed early on a Friday night so you can wake up early on Saturday morning to meet up with a new running group and run your first 20 of the season. Sometimes you get up extra early to ensure you have time to eat a banana and peanut butter and drink some water before getting in your car and driving. Sometimes you aren't able to poop before leaving the house and you stop at a Dunkin' Donuts on the way to meet the group and use their bathroom even though you weren't a customer that morning. Sometimes you meet up with a group and start your run but in the back of your mind you realize that even though their pacing at the same pace you would for this distance you are struggling to keep up. And you realize that the pit stop at the DD bathroom didn't quite cover it. And your hamstrings, which are always a little tight, are starting to complain a little more than usual. And as the distance between you and the pack grows you start to panic a little because you didn't bring your phone and you are running in a new place and you don't know your way around. And the complaining from your hamstrings is starting to sound more like yelling. And even after you find a side of the road Porto to use you still can't shake your tight muscles and sore knee. And you eat your chomps and you drink your water and your pace slows to a crawl and your hambos start to really scream at you. And you check in with yourself and know that, though they're screaming they are not tearing, just tight and sore. And you go back in forth in your head about how much distance you should cover and is this an injury or just something that hurts. And you turn around so that your total distance will be just over 16 instead of 18 or 20 that you intended. Sometimes you do everything right the week before and the day before and the morning of and you still have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad run.

Running is an amazing sport and it is as unforgiving as the road we run on. It doesn't matter if you are training for your fourth marathon or your 50th you still have to put in the miles and some of them are going to hurt. For the good or the bad of it, each run is a new day of running. The bad is that you can't bank last year's training sessions or miles, you have to run them again this year. The good is that we can start over after having a terrible run and know the next one will be better. Running keeps you honest and humble.

And sometimes, very rarely, but sometimes, you hit a runner's high. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015


This Throwback Thursday thing seems to be, well a thing, so I thought I would do a sort of year in review. Last Saturday was the 8 Tuff Mile race in St. John and though I was at a similar elevation, this year I was skiing down a mountain instead of running over one. And as I train for another May marathon, this time in the snow, it's fun to think back to where I was last year and where I went to get to here.
8 Tuff, St. John USVI

Sugarloaf Marathon, Maine

 Reach the Beach , NH

United Marathon, Newport, RI

Element Racing NYE 10k, Las Vegas, Nevada

Belleville Pond Trail 10K, North Kingston, RI

Monday, March 2, 2015

Letter to a Treadmill

Dear Treadmill,
I wanted to write you this letter to say thanks for being part of my running/training team. I know you often end up with a bad wrap and I wanted to put out there that I really do appreciate you and I wanted to tell you about a recent workout of mine.
This winter has been pretty interesting for me. I packed up my flip flops and dug out my snow boots for a few cold months in Rhode Island. I started training for a May marathon in January and it was going pretty well until it started snowing and just wouldn't stop. With snow banks rebuilding at least once a weeks the sidewalks were barely clear(ish) for any amount of time and the roads weren't much better. Though running on ice can make the miles slip by, (see what I did there? Ice. Slip) it doesn't do a whole lot for pace runs or long distance runs.
The other issue we have been having is the temperature outside. Though we feel clever when we can talk about running as many miles as degrees Fahrenheit that gets old pretty quickly. Finally, it got so cold and windy that I couldn't take it anymore and I headed over to the gym at the Shipyard to pound out some miles on the Treadmill there.
Before leaving my apartment I loaded up my iPod with new mixes from RockmyRun, anything to help pass the time. No offense, but workouts can get pretty monotonous when running in the same place staring out the window. As I settled in to a comfortable pace I decided on my plan to run 5 miles at a decreasing pace with a mile on each end to warm up and cool down. The first mile felt good and I decided to add in some incline bursts to each of the fast miles. Having the computer to do all the pacing work makes zoning out or tuning into my music so much easier. I am currently in a fight with my running watch and can't seem to ever get a good pace read off of it so it was nice to hit a button and know that my pace was constant. Knowing that I was running at a constant speed let me analyze if I could be going faster or pushing harder on each burst.
As I got into mile 4 and mile 5 the old running buddy, Doubt, started to surface. A run on a treadmill isn't only a workout of the legs but a can be a major test of will power since the urge to reach forward and tap the speed button can be irresistible. Instead of lowering the speed I tried adding in some incline, figuring that if I could run that pace with 3% grade for 0.2 miles than it would feel easier for the rest of the mile. Though it took a bit of restraint I finished my workout with more challenge than I had set out to do. I really enjoyed being able to run at any pace I chose, and let the belt carry me forward. It was a relief not to have to worry about traffic, slush, spray, ice and snow as well.
In closing, Treadmill, thank you for pushing me and my perceived limits. Though you encourage that little piece of me that says, "quit, quit!" you also push the part of me that says, "go harder! go faster!" You don't deserve all the bad press that is out there, runners know that there is a time and place for you and are happy that you exist. Though I don't see myself breaking any half marathon records by running on you for 13.1 miles (that's batshit stuff), I do see many more interval workouts in our future together.
Thanks again,