Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Ongoing Training

As I build up my training for the Midstate Trail through-run and subsequent races in May and June, I am trying to focus on putting together some longer back-to-back runs. I haven't succeeded yet in this, but I am slowly increasing the long run and trying to insert some longer efforts before and after it. Here are a few of the fun runs that I've been putting in over the last month.

Douglas Midstate Run:

This was to be a two-part run, running the second half with Jason Gray. He is building up for a self-supported 50k in Vermont in early April (Twin States) and is starting to increase his mileage on the long runs. I ran from Rt. 16 in Douglas 5 miles down to the RI/MA border and back to the start where I would meet up with Jay for another 10-12 on the midstate. The second lap did not go as planned though as we encountered a deep river flowing across the trail. We ended up going around and finding some fire roads and ATV trails to extend the miles.

Strava link here 

Wallis Pond Douglas, MA before the snowstorm

Two Runs in Rutland:

Just after a light amount of snow, I headed out to an old standby trail system that I hadn't been to in a while out in Rutland State Park. This is an area that includes a maze of fire roads that intersect with the Midstate Trail and I like to put together long runs out there that combine the two elements. This run included some new singletrack trails that I had never visited as well as some running along the snowmobile trails with some packed snow.

Strava link here

The second long run in Rutland, I ran with Jason and included a section along the Midstate Trail as well as several fire roads. We ended up going out for 12.5 together while I ran a quick 4 miler before Jay arrived. The roads were in great condition with some packed snow surfaces that made it easy to run on and we caught some good sunrise views out in the fields near the prison camps.

Strava link here

Rutland, MA prison camps

Moore State Park Snowshoe Race:

This race was planned for only a few days after a decent winter storm and I read that the race director, Sean Blood, may be out breaking trail to get it ready. I decided to get there a little early on Saturday and make an attempt to help out with the task of breaking through the crusty top layer that we received due to some rain at the end of the storm. I ended up running a short 3 mile run out on part of the trails and seriously considered skipping the race because of the tough conditions. The trail was broken by Sean's visits a day or so prior and consisted of 2 inches of fluffy snow, 2-3 inches of crust, and about 12 inches of fluff underneath. This made it difficult to move to say the least.

I ended up arriving at the race and the photographer that was shooting the race let me borrow her Dion 121 snowshoes for the race. I took her up on the offer and strapped into the racing snowshoes. The 121 version is a very impressive racing type snowshoe that I loved running in. They didn't affect my gait and allowed me to closely simulate running on a trail with just a pair of trail running shoes on. I typically run in my wife's pair of hiking snowshoes, but the Dion's really are at a level of their own.

The 3.6 mile race began at 10am and included myself and three or four other runners. The conditions caused my run to be a tough slog at a 13 minute/mile pace that consisted mainly of breaking through the crust in places where the trail hadn't been broken and kicking up chunks of ice into my back and head. The loops through the fields and singletrack section were scenic and the race director did a great job designing and marking the course. I ended up winning the race in just under 45 minutes and earned a $25 gift certificate to New England Backpacker.

Strava link here
Moore State Park Snowshoe Race sunrise trail breaking

Mt. Wachusett and Princeton Run:

The plan for this run was to split it into two parts, the start would be a 12 mile road run through some hilly sections of Princeton, then hitting Mt. Wachusett for a few climbs after my legs were tired. The weather didn't help on this one, it was 6 degrees with 20-30 mph gusts which sometimes stopped me in my tracks, especially at the top of the mountain. I managed to get in a couple climbs after the roads and the Wachusett trails were in the best condition I have seen. There was about 2-3 feet of snow in the woods with sufficiently packed out snowshoe tracks.

Strava link here

Mt. Wachusett run

Mt. Wachusett run

Sterling Backroads Tour:

This run was supposed to be a 26 mile hilly run through Sterling and Leominster's back roads starting from Sterling Center. The plan was to run a 17-18 mile loop and return to the car, before heading out for another 9 miles. I ran out of time and could only manage a 21 miler, but caught some good sunrise views from some of the farms towards the end. Felt pretty good on this run, fitness is getting there.

Strava link here

Sterling Backroads Tour
I plan to continue to build on the long run as well as making an attempt to plan 2-3 longer back to back runs on the weekends. For instance, my hope is to get to a point where I can complete a 12-15 mile run Friday, long run Saturday of 25 miles and a hill climbing session at Mt. Wachusett on Sunday for at least 10 miles. I think this plan, along with running my normal weekday 30-40 miles, will help me to avoid as much suffering on the Midstate run as I did the last time I ran a 100 mile race. I think the longer back-to-back runs will be key to getting my body to a point where I can sustain a decent pace for the 95 mile Midstate Trail run.

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