Tuesday, June 29, 2010

6/21/10 - 6/27/10

I finally succumbed to summer in southern RI.  I'm settling into my typical summer activities, but trying to keep up the running at the same time.  Monday was the solstice - I played basketball in the extreme heat with my coworkers on my lunch break (feeling more coordinated and quicker) then met my family at the beach after work.  Tuesday I spent the day helping my dad move furniture.  Wednesday and Thursday were very hot and humid, and it didn't make sense to me to run (I wish running in the early morning or night were an option for me this time of year). 
Friday, the temperature was in the low 80's, but much less humid.  I decided to get a long run in, and went with the 13 mile course I've been doing from my office the last few weeks.  I was a little worried about running for so long in the heat with only a water bottle, but I just finished up rereading Bernd Heinrich's Why We Run: A Natural History (here is a quick review that I thought was fair), and in this book he describes how humans evolved as long distance runners in the heat.  I kept my pace even and felt good as I did the 3.25 miles of roads and the 6.5 miles of trails.  The return on the road was a bit more difficult.  I finished my water bottle, and felt pretty hot the last 2 miles.  I stuck with it and finished in a time of 1:40 - the same time as my previous two efforts!  My legs felt tired that night, but my body felt good. 
Saturday, I took my dad and my kids to Parker Woodland in Coventry, RI for a hike.  Last cleared in the early 1900's, this forest has diverse species of large trees (especially oaks) and an interesting human activity past.  I was very proud of my 4 year old son who hiked two miles of it, before requesting (by whining) a shoulder ride.  My 2 year old daughter hiked about a half a mile, and I carried her on my shoulders or arms the other 2.5 miles.  It was a great day in the woods.  Sunday, we headed out onto my in-laws' sailboat and had a nice swim off of Napatree Point to complete my week. 

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Week of 6/14/10

An active week, but not a lot of running miles. 
Monday and Tuesday, I joined my coworkers for basketball.  This has been a tradition since I started working there in 1997.  As the years go by, there are fewer days that we can get enough people to play, and it has definitely had an impact on me running more.  Given the choice of sport, I will always choose basketball.  It's funny how running can make you worse at it.  I felt slow (quickness-wise), unable to jump very high, and uncoordinated dribbling.  I had more energy than the others, but that's nothing new for me.  It was a lot of fun though.  It's a great summertime activtiy, especially on really hot days I'd rather not run. 
Thursday, Dan and I were able to sneek in a long run at work.  We ran from the office and took the roads to Rome Point.  Then we did my 6.5 mile zigzag loop of trails and returned on the roads back to work for a total of 13 miles.  We took it easy on the roads as it was a warm day and we wanted to pace ourselves.  It felt so much cooler in the woods, and I was surprised at our time for this section - 50 minutes.  The run back on the road felt tiring, but I was very happy with an overal time of 1:40 for the run. 
The next day, another hot one, I decided to head to Big River for a relaxing trail run.  I purposely kept it slow, and really enjoyed myself.  I was sweating alot, but never felt hot.  I even was able to complete the loop without getting lost.  I think I have finally figured it out! 
Finally, on Sunday, my family and I hiked the mile down to Watchaug Pond for a swim.  The little beach was in good shape, and we had it all to ourselves.  I pushed the kids uphill in the double stroller on the way back to the car.  Then  I went for a meandering trail run back to my house.  I took a couple of trails I hadn't been on in years.  There are a couple of daunting hills that I really had no problems with.  I can't say the same for the deer flies.  It was too hot to outrun them today! 

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Fun Full Week

After my PR run on Tuesday, I spent Wednesday and Thursday relaxing on the tricky terrain of Big River.  It's nice running there, I don't actually know the mileage, I never run the same trails twice, and therefore, I'm not competing with myself for time.  Wednesday, I took it easy and stopped frequently for water breaks.  My body was really tired and I wanted to be smart, and in turn, enjoy myself.  I felt like I was going to figure out how to complete the loop on trails that I meant to take.  Nope.  I definitely did some zigzagging that could have been avoided.  On Thursday, I returned, determined to straighten this all out.  My body was feeling fresher, and I ran faster than usual.  I reached the confusing part, and headed left, confident in my choice.  I ended up on a wide old dirt road.  I was positive this was going to do it.  Then, I felt like I was running for too long, and I wasn't seeing any familiar landmarks.  It felt like I was circling Carr Pond again.  Suddenly, I knew where I was.  I had almost run around the entire pond and was no where near my car!  I stuck to the single track trail that I knew would get me back and ran faster than ever.  It was fun, and felt a little out of control on the downhill sections.  There is a large hill to climb to reach the parking lot, and I tried to hit it as hard as I could.  Right at the end, I kicked a rock, and fell fast and hard.  I was fine, except for scrapes and dirt.  I was impressed with the impact - I guess I was running fast. 
On Friday, I dreamed up a speed workout I could do on the nearby Quonset Bike Path.  It has distance markers every half mile.  I thought it would be fun to try running a 4xhalf mile with half mile jogs in between.  My first "speed" half mile clocked in at 3:01.  I didn't know how to judge it.  The next one was 2:54 and felt a little easier.  The third was 2:51 and again seemed pretty smooth.  I was ready to push the final one.  About halfway through my chest ached and I just felt sort of horrible, I slowed it down and was expecting a slow time.  I was surprised to see another 2:54.  I guess I was going a little too hard at first.  Overall, I was happy with this experiment, and plan to repeat it regularly. 
Sunday, I got to run with my brother Greg, who was in town, and had run a good 5K the day before (Gaspee 5K in Warwick).  This was his long run day, so he ran a few miles with his dog before meeting me at my house.  We decided to run about 12 miles - take the trails to the Vin Gormley Trail (8 mile loop) and then return on the trails back to my house.  It was fun running with my brother and catching up, while we attacked the challenging terrain.  With two inches of rain overnight, the trails were wet and muddy.  We looked pretty disgusting by the time it was over.  At about the seven mile mark, I started to go harder.  It felt good and I wanted to maintain a good pace and see what the 8 mile loop time was.  We finished the loop on the hardest hill and I checked the time - 62:30.  I was a little surprised, but Greg told me that I didn't need to race every time I ran and the humidity slows you down.  We jogged the last almost 2 miles back.  A great way to finish up a great week! 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Another CR Goes Down

Tuesday, I was motivated to get a long run in as the sun was shining and there was a lot less humidity.  My body was still sore from my race on Sunday - coupled with beach volleyball, and tennis yesterday with my coworker.  At noontime, the skies darkened, it got freakishly windy, and I was scrambling to check the radar and the updated weather reports.  I decided to run the 9 mile course in Ryan Park, as it looked like it was going to rain again, and I would never be more than two miles from my car on this run. 
I started off in the fields rather slow and let my body loosen up.  I was noticing how many types of wildflowers were blooming and thought about bringing my camera next time to document them.  After a lackluster two miles, I entered the woods and check my time.  I was surprised at how fast  I was going based on my effort.  I think this is due to the speedy workouts I've been doing lately and the lack of heat.  After three miles, my time wasn't that far off of my pace from 10 days prior when I set a new record on the 7 mile loop.  What was interesting to me was that I wasn't working nearly as hard as I was that day.  I kept it up and checked my watch again before re-entering the fields.  I check here to gauge what my time would be if I only ran 7 miles, instead of going 9.  My time was 47:02 - again still slightly slower than the 7 mile record.  I was running fast, but not hurting.  I completed the final two miles as fast as I could and finished up in 59:45!  My previous best was 61:57 done the week prior to the Lil' Rhody Runaround race last year.  I call it the course record because it's been run so many times by me and a few other coworkers.  This run helped my confidence after the disappointing Rhody 5K. 

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Milk Snake

My daughter (almost 3) with a milk snake she picked up in our front yard.  I have never done this in my life.  I couldn't believe how brave/gentle she was.  Hopefully this baby snake does not reappear in our house as a full grown adult (which happened 5 years ago!). 

Rhody 5K 2010

I had the opportunity to run a race this past Sunday.  I learned that my brother Greg was running the Rhody 5K, and he talked me into joining him.  It seemed like a good chance at a sub 20 minute time, as I had some good speed workouts recently.  The 9:30AM start had me believing it wouldn't be too hot, but as I pulled into the parking lot at Twin River, my car thermometer was already at 80, the sun was out, and it was extremely muggy.  I had still had high hopes, knowing that I do most of my runs in the mid-day heat, and I was only going 3.1 miles today.  I was a little overwhelmed by the scope of the race.  There were people everywhere.  I looked around for my brother's bald head/goatee and the CMS jersey he'd be wearing.  No luck.  I figured he was out doing a 6 mile warmup or whatever good runners do.  I registered and then decided to try a warmup of my own.  I felt loose, and not nearly as nervous as I usually do at races.  I decided to head back to my car for water as the sweat poured off my body.  With 10 minutes to go before start time, I jogged over to the starting line, hoping to run into my brother (pun intended) there.  Lots of runners were hovered under some trees for the shade and chatting about how hot and slow this race would be today.  Finally, with 2 minutes before the start, my brother appeared.  We got to talk before we needed to take our places.  I lined up next to some kid with my same Nike Free Run's. 
The horn sounded, and we were off.  I tried to not go out too fast.  I typically do, and I also wanted to avoid overheating.  For the first half mile I was getting passed left and right.  Then we approached a slight uphill, I picked up my pace as others slowed, and never got passed again.  I reached the first mile marker (with a large timer) in 6:48.  Way too slow!  I picked up my pace slightly and continued to quietly pass the runners in front of me.  Unfortunately, the course is not shaded, and it was full sun exposure.  I felt okay though.  I knew that I was in way better shape for the elements than the runners around me.  What this probably meant is that I was running too slow.  13:38 at mile 2.  It took me a while to figure out that this meant I hadn't gone any faster in my second mile.  The course here was on a road that cut through a large parking area - probably the antithesis of where  I'd like to be running - give me a wooded trail with a stream crossing please.  Another hill and I surged, passing mostly middle aged runners wearing different team jerseys.  The course then passes the start area, where the women were waiting for their start and cheering us on as we ran by.  Mile 3 - 20:14 - my exact time at the Chariho 5K back in April.  I turned one last corner and headed into the finish area.  I heard my brother call out my name, saw one more guy I could possibly catch, and decided to put on a good kick to the finish line.  My total time was 21:06.  At least the guy on the loudspeaker complimented my finish.  Body-wise I felt great.  I definitely think that I ran too conservatively.  I shouldn't have worried about the heat, or should just accept that running in this weather will produce slower times.  Greg was disappointed in his run - 16:09 - good for 4th place for CMS. 

Thursday, June 3, 2010

New Kicks

Just got back from a great 13 mile run in my new Nike Free Runs 5.0 - really happy with them.  I ran with the 3.0s on roads and some trails since last October and finally threw them out.  I'm guessing I put 500 miles on them, not accounting for the normal everyday use they got as my casual shoe option.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Need For Speed

My test run of the Lil' Rhody Runaround course last Sunday had been on my mind.  I felt with my training this year that I should be faster than ever.  Why then was my run so slow?  Maybe I'm faster on roads and easy trails (where I do most of my training), but so so on technical stuff.  Maybe I'm not faster at all.  Maybe last fall was my best effort, and as I near 35, it'll all be downhill from here....

Or, maybe I had a subpar day, because on Friday I set my PR and the CR (for me and my coworkers) on our Ryan Park trail loop (7 miles).  Dan texted me in the morning to get ready to run for the record on the loop today.  We hadn't talked about this at work, so I wasn't sure how I felt about it.  I responded that it seemed like a good plan.  He told me to get pumped.  After a couple of planned and unplanned days off, my body felt ready to run.  The weather was decent - 76 degrees, but not too humid.  With a half day of work before a long weekend, we hit the trail at 1PM.  The plan was to run as hard as we could, and to run our own race (well that's what it felt like -a race).  Our pace was quick, but comfortable.  I asked Dan what his Garmin said our pace was - 6:30 - so we were probably going faster.  It was hot in the fields with full sun exposure.  During the second mile it definitely seemed like we slowed down, and I was questioning if it was simply too hot for this endeavor today.  Returning to the woods, it felt much cooler, and I kept up the fast pace.  I was a little ahead of Dan which I knew was a good sign for me - he is always leading me in the early miles.  Time check at Garmin's 3 mile mark (which is wrong) and my time was around 20:30 - fastest I had remembered.  By the half way point, the mental battle started, especially running through the thick grass of the athletic fields.  I felt slow as I attacked the technical and then hilly section.  Not too far left to go.  I tried to pick up the pace on the long straight away on the old trestle trail, and then finished with everything I had left.  I stopped my watch and checked my time - 46:49 - destroying my old record of 47:30 I did the end of October last year (in optimal weather and when I was in top shape).  Dan finished up soon after, and was very complimentary on my run.  It made me feel alot better about my ability. 

Tuesday night I ran the hilly road loop around my house.  I wanted to do a longer run, but life got in the way, and I had a short window to run at night.  I wanted to do another speed workout.  It couldn't have been muggier out, so I knew this would be a good test of my fitness.  My first mile was 6:40 and I was a little disappointed, because I felt like I had given it my all.  So, I continued my effort, pushing the hills and sprinting the straight and downhill sections, but thinking that I wasn't going to be happy with the end result.  Wrong!  My time was 24:51 - one second faster than when I ran it in February.  It felt good to run this fast in the humid weather.