Wednesday, December 16, 2015


The inflammation in my knee must have subsided finally, because I can move around with little to no issue. Per the doctor's orders, I'm supposed to run and log the kind of discomfort I have. Over the weekend I ran with long-time friend Ben Jenkins in the Ward Reservation. 5 miles very slow. My right hamstring was cranky but the knee didn't bark once. It felt great to run again.

On Tuesday of this week I ventured out to Andover roads with Alex. I did a number of PT exercises beforehand which I think helped a lot. We ran 8 miles including a loop around the Phillips fields. I felt surprisingly good aerobically. We rolled faster than I wanted from Phillips down to Shawsheen and it felt good but the right hamstring was the tiniest bit cranky again finishing up. No pain in the knee...

Friday, December 11, 2015

Visited the doc

I met with John Boyle out of the North Shore Center for Orthopedic Surgery and we reviewed my MRI and discussed what is probably the cause of the pain/issues that have been plaguing me.

What is definitive is that I have patellofemoral arthritis on the medial side of the knee cap. It's bone on bone for a couple centimeters. There is also some broken, floating pieces of cartilage in there causing an impingement. Apparently, a vast majority of people with this kind of arthritis are worn badly on the lateral side (outside) of the patella but my cartilage there looks fresh as a daisy. He told me very clearly that "going in and cleaning it up" would "almost certainly make (my) knee feel better".

But, given that most of the pain I experience is on the lateral side of the knee and actually behind my knee, he is suspicious that I have inflammation in the joint where the fibula meets the femur. He advised that I begin by trying a cortisone shot in that area. If the shot cleared me of the pain that prevents me from running, then the arthritis, though not good, is probably not the thing hanging me up.

So... step 1, if I want to pursue it, is a cortisone shot. I think I'm going to do it. But I don't know what to hope for. It would be cool if the cortisone shot took the pain away, but the implications of that would mean I have a complicated and difficult to treat inflammation of the joint there. But if the shot doesn't have an effect, surgery might be the only thing that could get me up and running consistently again. I'm wary of the possibility for other crap to result from surgery and in general I consider surgery a very last resort.

I guess the silver lining is I can still bike as aggressively as I want without any pain whatsoever. With or without surgery, maybe it's time to make multi-sport stuff more of a focus. When I consider the long-term, I get nervous that another 15 years of road running will trash my knee for the rest of my life. I've always understood that seriously training would yield some degree of arthritis eventually but I'm shocked at the degree of the breakdown in this one area of my knee. Ironically, the remainder of the knee looks super good. The primary joint in the knee looks "like an 18-year-old's". Completely healthy. My left knee is in super good shape, too.

So maybe I'll schedule a cortisone shot for next week. The doctor asked me to run for a few days to "make it hurt" and be sure the pain I'm experiencing really is on the lateral side of the knee before I go ahead with the shot. Meanwhile, OF COURSE  I'm sure that's where it hurts; I've been dealing on and off with this problem since I started this blog back in 2010.

That's all for now.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Injury update

Unwittingly, I included a bit of foreshadowing in previous posts about what is ultimately a flare up of a condition called patella femoral arthritis. I think I've described it in previous posts, but the basic condition is that due to an imperfect femur, my knee tracks poorly leading to breakdown of the cartilage between my kneecap and femur. Usually, it causes me no pain. And then sometimes it flares up and causes all sorts of pain. Usually, at the same time I develop something called a baker's cyst caused by poor drainage of the inflammation in the knee. The cyst bulbs out behind my knee and causes pain and poor firing of the calf and hamstring. The nerve pain caused by the pressure of the cyst can be felt down to my foot and up to my hip. All in all, it makes for the feeling of an unstable leg and the impossibility of running without a limp.

Basic treatment... varies. You rest. You can have it drained. You can have a cortisone shot. Those things aren't permanent and the likelihood of recurrence is high unless you can do something to basically restructure the tracking of the knee. It's also complicated because as the cartilage breaks down, the treatments, exercises, etc. that worked before won't necessarily work the next time. I used to be able to "pop" the cyst by rolling on a lacross ball and all would be well! ... except I still had arthritis. In this most recent bout of cyst-li-ness, I haven't had success trying to roll it out. Stretching doesn't appear to help. I've been hitting the inflammation with lots of anti-inflammatory drugs. I tried a few different braces which definitely don't appear to help. Certain shoes help.

Anyway, rather than whine about it and get down on myself, I've decided to really pursue an end-game solution. I made an appointment with a knee specialist recommended to me by a couple of folks who have dealt with similar stuff. He's one of those mega-endurance athletes and "gets" runners and what running means to them. I hear he can do some pretty cool stuff that's minimally invasive. It's too early to say this, perhaps, but part of me thinks that if surgery could stave off further damage down the road and allow me to race competitively for a few good years, it would be worth it. Plenty of runners I know have had minor surgery on a knee or hip and come back stronger because of it. The appointment is Thursday and I'm excited to see what he has to say/recommend. And I'm really pumped to find out he is in my network and completely covered outside of a $20 co-pay. Amazing, really. I thought I was limited to the nice but generally uninspired sports medicine department at Lahey... guess not!

Fortunately, I'm able to cycle without pain or sign that it's prolonging the inflammation. Now, I'm off to Breakaway for a group workout on the compu-trainer. Probably won't be training Tuesday-Thursday, outside of standard core work, for this week as Day 1 of winter track starts tomorrow and I'm excited to get everybody off to a good start for the holiday season!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Training 11/23 - 11/29

Monday - 10 miles / 60:47 - pretty quickly cut it down to 6 minute pace and kept it there. 6:00 seems to be about "tempo" or "up-tempo" right now. Aerobically I felt great but the calf got tight around 7 miles which was annoying. I stopped for a minute to try and stretch it out which worked for about a mile before it returned. I was worried I had done some damage but it resumed status quo of being tight but not painful by this morning. The test will be to see how it feels on Tuesday's run. I'll be taking it nice and easy Tuesday and Wednesday.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Training 11/16 -11/22

Monday - off. My cat was having some bizarre health issues so La and I spent the evening at the vet instead of on the roads.

Tuesday - 16 miles / 6:28 pace mostly in Andover. I ended up feeling pretty good and ran some of my favorite roads. This is the farthest I have run in maybe 7-8 months. I'd like to have at least one run a week between 16 and 18 as I really feel like my fitness comes around when I incorporate these longer efforts. Treating it like a workout so the next day or two will be nice and easy.

Wednesday - 6 miles / 42 minutes from the apartment. Afterward I did a bunch of lunges, dead lifts with 50 lbs, lat pull downs, sit-ups, curls, shoulder press. The run felt very comfortable aerobically.

Thursday - 8 miles / 56 minutes with Alex from the apartment to the Phillips Sanctuary and back. The Sanctuary course is in really nice shape for private school interscholastic champs. Felt really good aerobically but high hamstrings are thrashed from the lunges and dead lifts from yesterday.

Friday - .25 mi / 1:56 to the gate and back. Calf had been tight since yesterday and it once I got moving it just seemed too risky. A day off made sense anyway after the last 3 days of build.

Saturday - 4 miles slow with a buddy from my UNH days. Gorgeous day for a run. I did my hip exercises today which should have me feeling good for a long one tomorrow.

Sunday - 11.7 miles / 91 minutes in the Fells with the Narcissi brothers. Drizzly day but good company. Always nice to get a little lost in the Fells and end up with a fairly long run, at least in terms of time. 4x25 push-ups after

In summary:

46 miles on 5 days running is another step in the right direction. The calf bugging me on Friday was annoying but totally manageable on Saturday and no discomfort to speak of on Sunday. Feaster Five will be a test of fitness on Thursday and I might try to jump into a local fun run on Saturday.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Training 11/9 - 11/15

Monday: 4 miles easy on the treadmill. Intermittently I stopped and did a wide variety of strength/core stuff including push-ups, burpees, crunches, leg raises, shoulder press, lat pulls, bicep curls (for the obvious reason..), hamstring curls, quad extensions, lunges, dead lifts.

Tuesday: 5 miles easy in the dark during rush hour. Time to start running closer to 6:30pm. This 5pm stuff is too sketchy.

Wednesday: 6.2 miles with Newbould and Alex. 7:10 pace

Thursday: 7.4 miles with Alex in the murky darkness. 6:31 pace somehow. Sketchy visibility and traffic conditions per usual!! I signed up for a 5k on Saturday. That should be... interesting. I'm going to try to take it out around 5:10 and see what happens.

Friday: Easy 5 miles in 34 minutes on the treadmill. I felt fine but wanted to keep it short for tomorrow.

Saturday: I ran the inaugural Penmen for Patriots 5k at SNHU in Hooksett. I got there early so I spent a lot of time warming up on the course. I ran 3 laps, the first 2 alone and the third with Chris Mahoney who happened to be at the right place at the right time. I felt good on the warm-up in lots of layers. Meanwhile I noticed how every time I crested the one long, gradual uphill on the 2-lap course the wind gusted harder, and harder.

The race eventually started and I went to the front to try and clear out any fakers in the race. I also wanted to give myself a chance at a good, fast time despite the windy and cold conditions. In the end, I think going out in 5:04 might have cost me a bit of fight toward the end of the race, but at the same time, I don't think it would have changed the outcome. Chris and a young college grad named Joe were right there into mile 2 and hung through into mile 3 where Chris made a small jump and Joe responded. Vocally, I had been lamenting how I wished we were all on alpine skis in order to experience the 40mph gusts and cold that we were running into, and I guess I got complacent when the move was made.

I gave chase into the last uphill but with the two of them fighting for supremacy I knew my bid at the win was lost. When the leaders turned and saw the home stretch, I watched Joe turn on the after burners and the race was over. I had a tiny inkling that maybe I could catch Chris, but I didn't even attempt so it was more of a mental "what-if", and the gap in finishing time shows it. My finishing time of 16:56 (watch) was slow, but so to was the finishing time of the winner who last year this time was racing XC in the 25s for 8k.

Anyway, this was a good opener because I took it out hard, earned a few bucks, and had fun racing. It also helped scare me by showing that ... maybe I truly am in high 16 5k shape?

It's clearly time to focus!!

Sunday: 3.8 miles nice and slow after dinner. Good core and stretch session after. Felt very good. Long on Monday, hopefully.

Week in Review:

I ran every day this week. That is huge for me. I can already feel the benefits of the consistency in terms of energy levels and feeling generally better each run. Granted... Saturday was the only substantial mileage day and I'm looking at 43 miles on the week which is normally the bare minimum when I'm training at full steam. Feaster Five and Mill Cities Relay in the next few weeks have me feeling motivated about getting off to a good start for the winter season. Goals for this week: 50 miles, a fartlek or interval session, 2-3 core sessions.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Training 11/2 -11/8

Monday - Off? Locked myself in at work and tied up some loose ends. Home around 6:30 and starving. Bed by 8:30.

Tuesday - 4.2 miles / 6:28 pace on the track before coaching. Better than nothing. Before running I tried out the 10 minute core workout posted on Level Renner this week. My 'T' sure isn't low but I liked the idea of mixing up my routine a bit. It was harder than I expected! No rest between exercises catches up to you. I think I needed to warm-up first. I'll try the session again on Thursday.

Wednesday - 7ish miles. 3 miles up to the track. I threw on some soccer cleats to break them in for a teachers vs students soccer game on Friday and ran 10 minutes of diagonals on the football field. I had some time so I decided to run some 400s on 1 minute-or-so standing rest: 73, 72, 71, 72, 71, 71, 71, 70. Afterwards I led runners through some drills and ran 4 hard 100m strides. Lower mileage, higher quality running for a change! No cool-down.

Thursday - 10 miles steady. 4 of them with a couple of Merrimack College guys. 650 pace or so.  Felt pretty good.

Friday - no run,  but I did score a hat trick in the faculty vs soccer team game. Faculty won 3-1.

Saturday - 11+ miles with JVG and Narc. First 30 minutes in Maudslay and the remainder on roads. Great run! Probably averaged 7:00s.

Sunday - Random workout. The original plan was 45 minutes in the woods easy. But, after hitting the deck and rolling the L ankle twice I'd had enough and got out to roads as quickly as possible. I just wasn't in the mood for a slog on pavement so I went to check out the newly resurfaced Phillips Andover track. I have to say it is beautiful and especially so by comparison to its former condition! I went with the standard 5k run alternating 400s "hard" and 200s "easy". The hard efforts ended up being on the slower side for this workout but it was still fun to open it up: 78, 76, 76, 75, 75, 75, 75, 75, 36 * just to get to 5k. 200m jogs averaged around 50 seconds. 7 miles total.

Week in Summary - A pretty good week by comparison with the past few months. Might have eeked out 40 miles but I think if I really counted I came up a short by a few. I only did one core workout so I missed on my goal there. For this coming week I hope to see more of the same. I'd like to fit in a tempo run and maybe another session of 400s or even 800s if I'm feeling bold. Onward!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Training 10/26 - 11/1

Monday - 0, many a thing to do in the afternoon/evening. Should have run!

Tuesday - 7 miles with a variety of tempo intervals and surges. The idea was to practice surging off a good aerobic pase. It looked like this:

300 tempo, 100 fast
400 tempo, 200 fast
600 tempo, 200 fast
800 tempo, 400 fast
600 tempo, 200 fast
400 tempo, 200 fast
300 tempo, 100 fast * I ran 13-mid for 100m!

Wednesday - 0, meet in Barrington RI with the HSers. Home by 9:30 pm and all I wanted to do was eat and catch the highlights from the debate. Not a great running week, so far.

Thursday - 0, Wilderness trip meeting went late and doctor's appointment later on. Not a good week!

Friday - 4 miles very slow in Ward. Felt pretty terrible from an energy standpoint. Seriously long stretch followed by a light core session for the first time in weeks.

Saturday - 9 miles / Franconia ridge hike with my friend April. Perfect weather; high 40s at the base and not much below 30 at the top. No wind to speak of and sunny and clear all day. 7 hours with lots of breaks to take it all in.

Sunday - 8 miles at Maudslay with the Spaniard. Hips/quads sore from the downhill yesterday. Good spirits. Met the race director for Saunder's which was cool. We were the jerks avoiding the $5.00 parking charge at the main entrance by parking a mile down the road.

Week in review - in summary, not much to write home about. The hike along Lafayette, Lincoln and Little Haystack was definitely the highlight. I need to do more of that! The HS cross country season wrapped up this week which will afford me a lot more personal time than I've had. Lauren has one more month of grad school and once that's done I'll have more liberties in terms of training. Basically I'm trying to run as much as I can, where and when I can. I know I'm only a few weeks away from being fit enough to race if I can just get the miles up. At least I'm healthy! Hopefully for next week I'll be talking about how I ran 6 days with a couple days of quality and 2-3 core sessions. Looking forward to my 5th Feaster Five and Mill Cities Relays. Cold weather racing is where it's at!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Training 10/19 - 10/25

Monday: 6.1 almost exclusively on trails with Alex before nightfall. Felt 'meh'. Glad I got it in.

Tuesday: 3 miles, 17:58 before coaching.

Wednesday: 0 - off. Run down! Needed the rest.

Thursday: 8.3 at 6:28 in the dark with Al. Pretty low energy today so I was glad this went as well as it did. Pretty humid!The roads /people immediately around the new apartment are sketchy and high traffic but not bad about a half mile out. It's tempting to drive out and park just to avoid the Lawrence cronyism we experienced tonight.

Friday: 0 - Off.

Saturday: 10 miles / 62 minutes morning cruise with Al. Felt good for a morning run, which is rare. Hit the old stomping grounds around Ballardvale.

Sunday: 8.5 miles with Joe in Hampton. 90% winding mountain bike trails. 69 minutes.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Recent moves

Friday: 7 miles around 6:45 pace on the treadmill listening to Jorge Torres on the run faster podcast.

Saturday: 10 miles at 5:55 pace on the rail trail in Keene after playing disc golf with my dad. Otter brook has a super nice woodsy course. This was an amazingly nice run. Perfect fall weather.

Sunday: 4 miles around 7:00s before football and family festivities.

Monday: 6.3 miles mostly on trails feeling downright depleted. Tired and a tad sore. A road run might have been smoother / more ideal. Saw some 10 minute miles in the woods.

Tuesday: 7.5 miles easy with freshmen. 7:30ish pace. Some 8-9 minute pace with some low 6 pace stuff as I moved from group to group.

Wednesday: 2+ miles with circuit work every 1/4 mile. jumping jacks, bicycles, planks, lunges, squats, burpees, flutterkicks, scissor kicks, bridges, v-ups, etc. Pretty good for a rest day.

Thursday: Off - parent-teacher conferences plus staff meeting plus MVS track committee equals no time and no energy!

Friday: 8.4 miles easy with Alex before dark.

Saturday: Off- unfortunately I ran out of time between helping my cousin-in-law to dump around 1000 pounds of demo from his kitchen project and getting down to Narragansett RI for my another cousin-in-law's wedding!

Sunday: 10 miles with Alex and Eric Narcisi mostly on trails between Ward and Harold Parker. Small roll of the ankle but perfectly fine after. I need to watch where I'm putting my feet! 79 minutes.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Fall (in)activities

This fall I took on a bit more than usual by way of duties. I'm coaching the school's first-ever cross country team and the 12-15 kids who signed up for it. On day 1, we started with 4 kids total, so to fill out scoring boys' and girls' teams was actually pretty exciting. We're young and inexperienced, and I've been thrilled to see them all running healthy and improving tremendously throughout the season. While all of that has been good, I'm realizing just how hard it is to work, coach 5-6 days/week and fit in my own training. I've been running here and there, but at maybe 30% the volume of years past. Lingering viruses and the ilk have also kept my running a bit subdued.

Team Whirlaway ran at the Wayland XC festival this weekend and I definitely didn't feel ready to toe the line and run anywhere close to sub-6 minute pace, so I didn't join them. But then on Saturday night I had a ridiculously good run which has me surprisingly thinking about racing. It was one of those once-a-year,-I-feel-amazing,-just-shrug-and-go-with-it kinds of runs. The temperature was an ideal 50 degrees and the rail trail heading northwest out of Keene was in better shape than I've ever seen it. The trail gradually climbs all the way out of town so the farther you run, the more downhill you can count on for the return trip. I got to 5 miles out in around 31:30 and decided to try to keep a good ryhthm on the way back, rolling 5:42, 5:47 (decent hill and rougher footing), 5:17, which shocked me and at the time I decided the GPS was confused, 5:27 and 5:27 back to the car. Looking at it now, my last 5 miles were 27:40, or 12-ish seconds slower than I raced for 5 miles at the GP event in late summer. That's just silly! In any case, this run gave me hope that I haven't lost tons of fitness. It also helped me realize that I could probably race and have some fun with it even if I'm running only 3-4 days a week. Perhaps this was the glimmer that I need to get back on the horse? We'll see..

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Summer update

This summer has been a good one from most angles! I survived Mt. Washington, and we'll leave it at that. A competitive race up the cute little rock pile will have to wait for another year (hopefully next!) and I'm looking at this year as more of a learning experience. It was super hard, as I'm assuming it was for all mere mortals. I finished knowing I'd given it all I had and I was really hurting afterwards, and especially so after running back down. To recognize my hip/IT band managed that kind of 18 mile day showed me I can train about as hard as I want, although doing so still requires maintenance in the form of consistent hip and glute exercises. It was really fun to camp out the night before with the likes of Alex, Dan Princic and Pat Ard. The latter two had a lot of experience to share and their passion for the race is contagious. So even though I ran 1:28-and a lot of change, I know I want to go back for a second take.

Right after that race Lauren and I headed to Colorado for a week-long adventure through Denver, Boulder, Ft. Collins, Rocky Mountain National Park, and a couple days with friends in the Breckenridge area. I ran tempo on Magnolia Road outside of Boulder which was a check on the bucket list and had a bunch of generally good runs out there at elevations ranging from 5000 to 9000 feet. We caught up with distant, though incredibly welcoming family in Ft. Collins and reconnected with second-cousins who offered their homes to us on our next visit. We caught unbelievable views in the Rockies and I'm fighting the itch to book another trip back there over Christmas break to ski some of those bigger mountains. There's too much to say about this trip, but in word, it was incredible.

Our first day back east was moving day and I began shuttling boxes to our new home 5 miles north in S. Lawrence. A few days later the boys helped us move the larger stuff and like that, we were settled right in. I miss some of my favorite loops from Ballardvale but I don't miss the crazy traffic constantly buzzing by, among other minor inconveniences. A month into our stay at our new home we are definitely happy about the move. I've created some new loops and I can run a lot of familiar loops from different places. The track where I coach is 1.5 miles away and the Thursday night pub run is warm-up distance which works out perfectly.

My dad has made tremendous strides recovering from a rare and complicated ankle break and ensuing surgeries beginning last October. He and I agreed to enter a triathlon together and the Borderline Running Club offered a low-key race starting from the N. Andover Common. Did I mention it was FREE? Who does that? So I entered, and won the thing which earned me my choice of beverage and also got me hooked a little on cycling and swimming. I probably never ran more than 25 miles/week this summer but I kept busy on the bike and swam once or twice per week which kept me generally fit. Dad finished, and was even able to run the full 5k a bit over 30 minutes. Now he's down to 25 minutes which he's not impressed by, but I am, all considering.

After that it was on to the Cape with Lauren's family which was punctuated by good food, good wine, and too little exercise of any kind. It was wonderful, if not in the spirit of athletic pursuit. At one point in the summer Alex and I remarked that we had tons of time to prepare for the next race on the NEGP, the Bobby Doyle 5 Miler down in Narraganset. Somehow that time passed really quickly and I realized I had like... 6 days to remind my legs how to run. I did that by jogging a couple of days and running 3 x mile the Wednesday before the race with an average of 5:13 on 400m jogging rest. I knew that was faster than 5M race pace, and that I was probably toast for Saturday.

So, I was toast for last Saturday! I warned my teammates that I better not be 5th man like I managed at Hollis. I ran like a hero for my fitness through 5k and dug deep to run a couple of 5:40s to finish in 27:27. I think I was 8th man but I'm not positive. Upon finishing I came the closest to collapsing after a race as I ever have, but I didn't. I guess I must have run hard? But then I'm reminded of guys who bring that level of pain to nearly every race, and I'm further inspired by those few.

So that's the summer of 2015 in a nutshell. 4th year teaching, my first year as head coach of a HS team, beginning to prepare MVS club runners for Fall racing are but a few days away. Summer isn't over, but it's high time for more structure to my days and with that generally comes greater focus on my part to make the time for real training. I'll be on the bike less and on the track more. I look at it all like hitting the refresh button and, to be honest, 27:30 5M shape is a fine place to start from. I can do a lot with that. I'm looking forward to the challenges ahead and to the friendships and encounters I'll enjoy along the way.

Onward! Always onward.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Hollis Fast 5k Report

There I was, on day 1 of summer recess and the way I chose to relax after a long year with the tykes was to stick my nose in a pretty darn competitive 5k in Hollis, NH.

My goals heading into the race were pretty broad; compete well, go out hard but.. not too hard, and (as always) finish the day healthy. In terms of goal time I really had no idea what to guess at. The course drops over 200 feet which is awesome yet the temperature was in the high-80s. I tend not to enjoy the heat but I'm not sure it matters much over the course of 15-16 minutes. However those factors line up must be different for each individual as afterwards I heard some people estimating the course at 30 seconds fast and others claiming it closer to 50 seconds or more. I've even heard some sarcasm regarding the "Hollis not-so-fast 5k", so who really knows!? I guessed my 5k fitness was somewhere around 16-minutes, so I hoped a time in the low-to-mid 15s was possible. And I hoped I wouldn't be among the scoring runners on the team (top 5) unless I ran exceptionally well. Soon before the race started I learned Ruben wasn't racing and my odds of scoring improved just a smidge.

The first 400m was pretty frantic. I wanted to get out hard but I didn't want it to feel hard. Well, it felt basically awful and matters were made worse by the 50-or-so other runners near me who had the same idea in mind. One guy straight-up leaped across me, causing me to slam on the brakes and I made sure he knew exactly how stupid his move was as I passed him a minute later. Normally I'm a happy, friendly guy at the start of a race, as it helps me to relax and take some pressure off by joking around and making comments. Not this Thursday, though. Bambi and his huge loping legs almost taking me and a few others out before we'd even run 60 seconds ruined it.

Moving forward though I was through mile 1 without additional crisis and as I passed the mile I began wishing I'd had another 4 weeks to prepare for the leg speed and strength required to roll 4:40s. 4:51 was the number and it would be the fastest on the day for me. During mile 2 I fell asleep for a while and gave up my chance at a time in the very low 15s. The final mile was run in what felt like slow motion... A group had crept up on me and teammate Jefferson Welch had gapped me but gradually he lost ground as the swarm moved up. We caught him and I realized suddenly how soon the race would be over. Less than 400m. To the right Dave Kaz was yelling at Jefferson and I to kick like I mean it and I remembered that in these races every second truly does count. I finished believing I was 6th man and out of the scoring but later learned I was 5th in a time of 15:21.8 (chip time).

And that was that. When I finished I was a little disappointed with myself, not from a competitive standpoint but more from a rock-solid indication that my fitness is pretty average for me. I genuinely hoped my 165 lb frame would carry better on the downhill, but maybe that concept applies better to cycling.

The team placed second to Greater Boston by a mere 13 seconds. I'm happy about the overall finish but I lament the chance at a rare victory in the competitive open field. I asked the pressing question to myself: Did I have an extra 13 seconds in me today? And the answer was almost definitely not! I was happy for many of my teammates as most of us competed well. Shout out to Sam Fazioli for nearly cracking 15 coming off of Boston and also to my bro Alex who is back home permanently from an 18-month stint in Siberia and who took the team honors for us in 14:43. Also shout to Dan Princic and Pat Ard who raced well despite finishing VCM a mere few weeks ago.

Next up... 7.6 miles of climbing at Mount Washington. I doubt  my 165lbs will carry better up than down!!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Choose your surface

Several days ago I ventured onto the trails near my home and was surprised to find the flooding had subsided and I would have access to what is normally my warm-up 1.5 mi of bouncy, winding and rooted trails along the Shawsheen river, running in the direction of Andover HS. Ambitiously I ventured about 8 minutes down the path, absentmindedly dreaming about a day when I might endlessly roll along golden pine needle laden paths. The trails were mostly still covered in a layer of 4-6 inches of snow and ice but I was making the best of it when suddenly *Crack!*.. *Oof!*.... "****it." and I returned home along the railroad tracks so to avoid further damage.

At the time I thought I'd actually sprained my ankle. It hurt as badly but didn't swell very much. My peroneals were sore, but 72 hours later I was ready to try again and this time with more dexterity (read: attention). I had a great run, albeit a slow one. The next day, I had another great run. My hips and lower back seemed to relax after months of tension, all because of a change of environment. Recently I ran 15 miles at an aerobic pace without pain. Since that run I've been confident about my durability enough to think about training for something.

I'm still hopeful about the prospect of running the Vermont City Marathon, which I targeted way back in December. There isn't much room for error since the race is on Memorial Day weekend. My goals have changed and every long run really counts. I'm pretty sure I'll do most of my runs on trails, going for time rather than distance. I'll try to do something around marathon pace and below each week too. After that, I'll mostly focus on strength, balance and mobility. I ran 2:39 several 30 mile weeks so maybe a few years later I can run 2:40-45 on a bit more. Who knows?

Friday, March 6, 2015

Thursday, 3/5

10 miles / 65:13 - Too fast. I'm thrilled to be running again here and there but I need to remember that 7:00-7:30 pace is far more likely to keep me healthy.

Friday, January 16, 2015



44 lengths / half mi swim took a hair over 20 minutes.


75 minutes on the bike at Breakaway computraining. Warmed up 18 minutes then cycled through four long threshold segments. The threshold test I did about a year ago has my threshold at 265 watts which felt very tough tonight. No pain in the injured leg during or after the ride, which was the best news of the night!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


Sunday: Off

Monday: Off

Tuesday: I swam 88 lengths of the 20y pool for a total of exactly 1 mile. Almost all of it was freestyle. I took a few easy backstroke lengths to get the heart rate under control. The first 20 lengths felt pretty rough and I thought it was going to be a short workout but I felt better as things went on and I really got my breathing down which was the most difficult part for me. I'll probably time myself next time just to get a sense of how long I'm working for... I must have been doing something right because I had these infamous calf cramps upon getting out of the pool!

Saturday, January 10, 2015


First pool workout... I alternated using a kickboard and practicing getting long and breathing with laps of freestyle for half an hour. Very quickly lost track of how many laps. It was good to do something aerobic!

Also did about half an hour of yoga looking to lengthen my hamstrings, hips and lower back.

It's not running but it's not nothing. Knee remains swollen.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Boring update

No activity to report.

I got a few x-rays which came up with nothing. The doctor found swelling and some kind of lump behind my lower patella. Referred to orthopedics and PT, which confuses me because how can PT guess at how to treat it without information from ortho?

I also signed up at Cedardale, a gym about a quarter-mile from work. I have no excuse not to be in the pool there 3-4 x per week.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

12/24 - 1/6

Wednesday: 4.5 mi... warmed up. Began a workout of repeat 200s with a modest goal of 34s and came up lame on the 5th one. About 1/4 mi into the cooldown home a shooting pain rocked my knee joint and I ended up hobbling / walking for a couple miles before finally flagging someone down and using their phone to call Lauren and get a ride. Not good...

Thursday 12/25 - Thursday 1/1 off - the pain behind my knee gradually subsided but serious muscular tightness throughout the left leg remained.

Friday 1/2 easy 3.3 mi jog on trails. Legs felt like Gumby out there but it was good to move!

Saturday 1/3 easy 7 mi very slow on trails before the storm. Felt okay.

Sunday 1/4 easy 5 mi again very slow, this time on roads by night. Left calf, quad, hamstring all rigged up pretty badly in the last mile.

Monday 1/5 easy 2.9 mi very easy. Leg spazzed out again and I had to walk the last half mile back home.

Some history... in 2007 I had stress a stress fracture in my L proximal fibula.  It was hard to diagnose and didn't come up on x-ray or MRI until about a year later when I was scanned for something unrelated and my orthopedist found a lot of calcification a couple inches below the knee and asked me when I'd broken my leg. Another x-ray later showed stress fracture in my R proximal fibula. SO, I've had symmetrical stress fractures in this location. A blood test around that time showed my calcium was low and I started supplementing.

The symptoms I'm having are comparable to 8 years ago. Bouts of severe pain that come on suddenly after a few miles of running. Meanwhile a general feeling of instability/weakness and randomize muscle tension all around the weakened area... I'm skeptical of spending the time and money to do all the scans with predictably unclear outcomes... Game plan per moment is to get in the pool and to stay off my feet whenever possible. I can walk okay but going downstairs is a horror show. I'm hopeful I can find a sports medicine doctor through my new HMO at Lahey. Unfortunately I'll need to stay within the Lahey network. The recent dietary changes I've made probably necessitate blood work, at least.