Monday, February 23, 2009


Desert Places by Robert Frost

Snow falling and night falling fast, oh, fast

In a field I looked into going past,
And the ground almost covered smooth in snow,
But a few weeds and stubble showing last.

The woods around it have it--it is theirs.
All animals are smothered in their lairs.
I am too absent-spirited to count;
The loneliness includes me unawares.

And lonely as it is that loneliness
Will be more lonely ere it will be less--
A blanker whiteness of benighted snow
With no expression, nothing to express.

They cannot scare me with their empty spaces
Between stars--on stars where no human race is.
I have it in me so much nearer home
To scare myself with my own desert places.

It happens every year, but for some reason I feel completely blown-away by it this year. I should know better; I don't know why I thought this year would be different. But it’s official . . . I’m having a real mental meltdown! I am just plain sick and tired of the snow, cold, but mostly the wind! I think the biggest factor in this is the bipolar-ness of this time of year. One day I’m out running in shorts and short sleeves, the next it’s back to heavy winter tights, long sleeves, gloves, and hat. It really hit me on Friday this week when I finally had a day off and hoped to get in some good miles but when I looked outside it was dark and cloudy and the winds were just blowing like mad! Really, I love where I live, but anyone living anywhere but here would probably have a hard time understanding this. When we have snow and wind on our hill there is likely no snow and very little, if any, wind in the lower-lying areas. But when the weather is good up here, there's no place I would rather run. So I just have to accept it and try to work with it.

That said, I have to confess that this week’s mileage was pitiful, at best. I sequestered myself to the garage, put on the mp3 player, and just biked as hard as I could . . . I think hoping that I would just get to a warmer place. It's not running but at least I can work-up a sweat (without it turning to ice on me!) and get my heart-rate up, like speedwork would do for me (if I did speedwork).

On a positive note, Lance did well in the Tour of California, helping his teammate, Levi Leipheimer to the win. However, Six Nations rugby has been on a break this week but will resume this weekend with what should be an awesome match between Ireland and England. Joe and I were able to get in one of our favorite regular running routes this week – one that we have to avoid all winter (it’s a seasonal dirt road through the forest that gets so snow-covered that it could only be run with snowshoes). Granted, we had to dance around some icy spots, but it was just great to get out to an area surrounded by woods and no traffic. I’m itching for the trails and maybe that bodes well for a good run at HAT in March.

So there is no reason to post my weekly mileage since the number is rather embarrassing and disappointing to me. I hope that all of the cross-training that I am getting in will give me some extra strength. I have already started looking at the weather forecast for this week to plan my running around and it looks like I may be able to get my long runs in this week. Please, someone give me a freaking break!

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost (1874–1963)

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Back In The Saddle

Well, this week was a good running week. Despite the bipolar weather around here, I managed to run in shorts three days this week! Sunny and shorts yesterday, heavy winter tights & layers again today! I had some really great running days this week and made the effort to organize my time better to accommodate some more mileage and despite two days of non-running I managed to get in higher mileage.

MONDAY 2/9: 7.7 miles before work. 36 degrees, sunny, no wind. Ran in shorts!

TUESDAY 2/10: 0 miles. Joe had an eye doctor appointment, an all-day event, and then off to see the tax man in the PM.

WEDNESDAY 2/11: 16.7 miles. 6.2 miles in the AM with Joe. 10.5 miles at 2pm – started out sunny & warm, finished under clouds & with some major winds. Started feeling a little whippy with 1.2 miles to go & should have eaten a gel, but I guess I felt that I was too close to the finish & talked myself out of it. Recovered with a beer instead.

THURSDAY 2/12: 0 miles. HUGE 40-50 mph winds, so I opted for a hard bike workout, lifted weights, did crunches, & jumped rope. Off to work after.

FRIDAY 2/13: 7.5 miles before work. 30 degrees, WINDY, but sunny. Ran in shorts!

SATURDAY 2/14: 17.65 miles with Lorrie & Becky. Hilly run starting at home & finishing at home. Excellent hills & I ran them (minus a short bit of power walking to stretch my hamstrings). Joe saved the day with dry shirts for me & water for Lorrie & Becky @ the half-way point.

SUNDAY 2/15: 3.1 miles at the Big Flats Valentine’s Race. Ran with Joe & we came in 5th in the Sweetheart’s division . . . some tough competition this year. But I have to say that we looked the best!

TOTAL: 52.65 miles!!!!!!!!!!!!

So there’s nothing really exciting to report. Just getting geared-up for the HAT Run 50K. And rugby continues – Ireland plays tonight. So let me just leave you with some thoughts of wisdom that I learned this week:

1- Don’t put a battery in your pocket with coins. You could set yourself on fire.
2- Don’t spit, pee, or blow snot rockets into the wind.
3- And don’t f*#! with the Lone Ranger (OK, this has nothing to do with anything, but still . . . good advice).

Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’, keep them doggies rollin’ . . . RAWHIDE!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Promises To Keep

The name of the poem is “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost, one of my favorite poets. You may not recognize the name of the poem, but many know the final verse:

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

This is the ultra runner’s mantra. This week I realized my promises . . . the promises of the big races that I have made for this season. And I realized that I have to take each race as it comes in order to be successful at each. Putting down the list on paper helped me to realize the enormity of what I want to accomplish and has given me a renewed sense of desire to get my training going. Unfortunately, work and other life necessities came-up this week and I was not able to accomplish the mileage that I wanted to, but I did put a lot of thought into some other things that will hopefully help in my successes (i.e., dietary habits being the biggie – time to lay-off the chicken wings and pizza!). So here is the 2009 line-up:

HAT Run 50K – March 21
Bull Run Run 50Mile – April 18
BPAC 6-Hour Distance Classic – April 26
Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run – July 18
Iroquois Trail 100 Mile – September 19
Interspersed with some short local races that I hope will put a little extra speed into my feet!

Notice that Bull Run Run is scheduled . . . which means I GOT IN and they acknowledged my very pitiful plea for a men’s large shirt and I GOT THAT, TOO! Does it get any better? Oh, yes, Joe will get his BRR fun, too, volunteering at the event. Spring in Maryland (HAT Run) and Virginia (BRR) . . . I can’t wait!

Monday, 2/2: 5 miles and then off to work.
Tuesday, 2/3: 5.5 miles and then off to work. Got my new Brooks Adrenaline sneakers and my feet really like them!
Wednesday, 2/4: 0 miles. No work today and too many errands to run so I just didn’t have the energy to run. A pitiful excuse, I know, but I did do a hard bike session and lifted weights instead. All was not lost.
Thursday, 2/5: 5.5 miles. 19 degrees outside and still snowy, so Joe and I snowshoed under excellent conditions! Off to work.
Friday, 2/6: 6.2 miles. Sunny & 26 degrees & WINDY! Late afternoon run.
Saturday, 2/7: 7.5 miles. Snowshoed 5.5 miles and then ran home. Temps in the 30s with a warm wind. First run of the new year without gloves on! Off to work.
Sunday, 2/8: 0 miles. Cleaned house (very necessary!) and did errands before work.

TOTAL: 29.7 miles. The number is very disappointing, but I know that the main reason for this is the lack of my long-run, which generally cannot be accomplished on the weekends that I work. Need to figure out a day during the week (when I have to work the weekend) to get the longer run in. It’s an ongoing work in progress.

On the upside . . . Six Nations Rugby started yesterday and my Irish team came through with a big win over France! Woo hoo!! My man Ronan O’Gara was in fine kicking form. This week will be a challenge . . . miles to run, rugby to watch, and the Tour of California starts on Saturday. Should be interesting to see what kind of form Lance is in – a good predictor of his fitness for this year’s Tour de France.

So that’s the week in review. I am hoping that next week will build-up stronger – I have promises to keep (and Lorrie, you keep reminding me of that!) and miles to go before I sleep (or is it weep? NO . . . there’s no crying in ultra running!)

Over and out!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

And A Plug for the FL50s

And for all of you ultrarunners out there - and you "closet" ultrarunners who may not be up to the distance yet but want to be part of the fun - check out the Finger Lakes Fifties at and for updates on! Entries are now open!

I'M IN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It's official - I'm going to Bull Run Run! There were 375 people who entered the lottery, so the Virginia Happy Trails group decided there was no need for the lottery system this year, and all those who entered the lottery are in! The down-side? Entrants are given gender-specific shirts - women can't get a men's shirt, the computer entry won't allow the change. The good news? You can plead your case for a different shirt. So now it's time to plead! No women's sizing for this clydesdale!

Monday, February 2, 2009


When this week started out I was sure it was going to be a bust. Everything was (and still is!) all white up here and the temps were still sub-20 degrees. There have been quite a few mailbox fatalities from the snowplow, although ours was lucky to succumb to minor injuries only. I am just getting tired of it. I love my winter sports, but I think I have had my fill of them. Everything is just black and white outside and I was just in such a funk over it because it seems that I am just doing the same thing and it’s just not fun any more.

Saturday would have been our annual snowshoe race. However, due to lack of snow in the past few years and lack of participation, last year’s race was the last. But, of course, you knew that once the race was cancelled we would have major snow – and the best snowshoeing conditions that the Finger Lakes National Forest has seen in a long time!! So I thought we should go for a snowshoe run on Saturday to commemorate our dearly-departed, but I was really excited when Joe suggested that we go to Binghamton for a 10K race.

So on Saturday we headed to Binghamton to run a road 10K race. The terrain & the distance were surely just my polar opposites, but the idea of doing something – anything – different right now sounded really sweet! So I got home from work on Friday night at midnight & went to bed around 1:30am, got up at 6am, downed 1 cup of coffee and some Ensure and hopped in the car. Now Joe assures me that I told him the race started at 9am; I know I never said that (it started @ 10am). So we arrived in Binghamton with time to waste. And what better way to waste time than to go and have breakfast with some good greasy diner food. So I powered-up on an egg, toast, apple juice, and hash browns with less than two hours to go before race time. Let me just say that running hard with this much food in your gut is a real challenge. My stomach rolled most of the race and I re-tasted the hash browns several times. And somehow I managed to run a 45:49! And I had a blast! We saw a bunch of our friends and got race info for some upcoming races in the area. Now it’s time to hone my speed a little more . . . I have my Clydesdale title to defend at the upcoming St. Patrick’s 4-Miler in March. And for any of you who can make it to the race on March 14, let me just say this is the most awesome race with the best spread of food and free beer. It’s another 4-thumbs up on the Chris & Joe Race Rating Scale!

And yesterday was Super Bowl Sunday. Now I don’t follow football and I don’t really care who won the Super Bowl, but it’s a great excuse to eat a lot of food, drink beer, and not feel bad about it. So I ate a lot of chicken wings and some pizza, a couple of Moo Thunder stout ales, some taco chips, and ice cream. Oh, and some salad to balance in the healthy factor. But I made sure I had a long run in the morning, so I figured I was allowed some lenience in the food department.

So, from FUNK to FUNKY, here’s how the week panned out:

MONDAY 1/26: 5 miles. 14 degrees, sunny, no wind.

TUESDAY 1/27: 7.5 miles.

WEDNESDAY 1/28: 0 miles. Sleet storm and then more snow. So I was sequestered to the garage on my bike for a hard 35-minute session along with some weight-lifting and ab exercises.

THURSDAY 1/29: 5.5 miles. Joe and I started out xc skiing, but the crust over the snow from the sleet storm made skiing difficult (and painful as it sliced through the sides of our boots when the skis sunk under!), so we opted for a run.

FRIDAY 1/30: 0 miles. Sunny & 32 degrees out, but I just didn’t have the mental energy to run & I thought it might be good to rest my legs for a potential race-effort tomorrow. Biked hard for 35 minutes, weights, and ab exercises.

SATURDAY 1/31: 9 miles. 2-mile warm-up, 10K race, and then cool-down. COLD & WINDY!!!

SUNDAY 2/1: 17.5 miles. FLRC track meet at Cornell, so I ran from home to Cornell and then ran a relay with Joe (2 x 800 meters). I have no idea what my time was for my 800 meters, but I surprisingly felt good doing it.

TOTAL: 44.5 miles!!!!!!!!!!!!

So now there sits a pile of race entries on the kitchen table waiting to be filled-out. How exciting! And today is the end of the Bull Run Run lottery, so I should know by tomorrow if I got in or not. The “Versus” channel has been turned-on for free for a month so I might actually get to watch Lance at the Tour of California. The big rugby tournaments are starting. So things are actually looking up!!!!!!!!! (If you don’t think about the pending snow storm that will hit TONIGHT!)

Until next week, stay safe and warm.