Monday, November 29, 2010

Epic Arcadia Run 11-28-10

Sunday marked a few new running milestones for me.  I had planned this run back in July as a solo journey I would attempt on my 35th birthday.  Life got too busy, it didn't happen, and I soon forgot about it.  A few weeks ago, my brother Greg did a long trail run in Vermont with a few of his friends.  This awesome run reminded me of the one I never did.  I contacted Justin about it.  My brother found out my intentions as well, and was interested in joining us.  We decided to run it over the Thanksgiving break.  Logistics were worked out, invitations to others were extended, and we settled on a Sunday, 6:30AM start.  According to the mileage on my map, the total distance would be somewhere between 21 and 22 miles.  I was a little skeptical, thinking that the author might have used GPS to calculate, and it might be longer.  I figured we would just take our time, go slow, and stop and smell the roses along the way. 

We set off  at 6:41AM.  It was still pretty dark and cold (my car read 23 degrees).  Our pack included me, Justin, Greg, and Boj.  Our Arcadia journey began appropriately on the Arcadia Trail.  The first few miles were mostly uphill, and the trail was technical.  We passed one annoyed hunter, and made jokes about him once we were safely out of his ear and gunshot.  We stopped at the Boulder Field so that I could snap a picture:
The trail finally descended to Upper Roaring Brook Pond - long name for a small pond.  Around a turn we ran into another hunter.  He seemed jolly and friendly, but maybe that was due to his resemblance to Santa.  We stopped at Bates Schoolhouse Road so that Greg could ditch some clothes.  According to the map we had gone about 5 miles, but our time was 57 minutes.  Hmm.  Boj commented that he was marginally prepared for a 20 mile run, but he was afraid we were going to end up going 30 miles.  I'm not sure he was really prepared for anything since he went to bed at 2AM and brought no food or water with him.  Finally, we spilled out onto Rte 165, the end of the "7.1 mile" Arcadia Trail in a tick under 70 minutes.  If we were running 10 minute miles then I'll quit running.  Boj lead us most of the way and we were actually going faster than I anticipated - not slow at all. 
We crossed 165 and hit the John B. Hudson Trail.  This short trail connected to a favorite of mine - Breakheart Trail.  Boj briefly wandered off course, so I took over the lead, as I didn't want to miss the yellow markers (this part can be tricky - I've messed up before).  Somewhere on this trail we hit the half way point.  Who knows where for sure.  The guys were not amused that I could only assure them that we might be halfway done or then probably a little over halfway.  Eventually, we began the climb up Penny Hill.  The sun was in our eyes, but its warmth felt great.  We stopped at the summit (well, false summit) at the two hour mark.  Here's a quick video I took.  I'm not proud of my heavy breathing. 

We started back up again, hit the real summit, and then had a nice long descent to the Falls River.  Here we picked up the Escoheag Trail.  Also, I hit a new milestone for time running, eclipsing my previous long of 2 hrs 15 minutes at last year's Pisgah Mtn 23K.  Unfortunately, this portion of trail was all uphill, steep at times, and very technical (or maybe it was because my legs were getting tired).  We turned left onto Mt. Tom Trail and continued ascending the mysterious Mt. Tom.  Luckily, this part was not steep at all, and very easy on the legs.  Right before reaching Rte 165, the trail descends steeply.  I felt a little out of control, and grabbed for a small tree to slow me down.  The tree snapped and I stumbled.  Greg was concerned (or convinced) that I was bonking.  I assured him that I felt good energy-wise, and we only had less than 6 miles left to go.  This last comment was met with laughter.  No one believed me. 
South of 165, the Mt. Tom Trail meanders along exposed rock ledges for a mile or so.  This is my favorite spot in Arcadia, and it's a place my family likes to hike a few times a year.  We stopped at a couple spots for pictures and to take in the views.  I took another quick video: 
We reached the bottom of the ledges, the trail evened out, and was lined with a bed of pine needles.  Everyone was happy to run on them, but my feet were so fatigued that nothing felt good.  I fell behind the others, but I willed myself to never get too far back.  We were rudely greeted by two more steep hills before reaching Summit Road.  Although a dirt road, it was hard packed, and it made the last two miles, plus the half mile of paved Arcadia Road challenging.  Greg and Boj pushed this part to get it over with, while Justin and I held on for dear life.  We returned to our cars after 3 hrs and 20 minutes of running time (about 4 hrs total).  My feet hurt, but nothing else really did, and my energy level was good.  Boj calculated the true distance in his head - 24 miles (based on his and Greg's expert opinions on our pace).  Sounds good.  New record for me!  Another confidence boosting run this fall. 
One day later, and my body still feels good.  I have no soreness in my feet.  I now have the idea of doing a trail marathon next year!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Weekly Log 11-22-10 to 11-28-10

Monday: 7 miles - Ryan Park trails with Dan.  A nice untimed run the day after the Runaround.  Feeling surprisingly good. 

Tuesday: 4 miles - Rome Point trails with Dan, Brad, and JS.  Woke up a little more sore today.  We had a nice orange pack running through the woods.  Total time: 31:50. 

Wednesday: 15 miles - South County Bike Path (12 miles) and Tri-Pond Park trails (3 miles) alone.  I had a half day at work and planned to run errands in Wakefield.  I figured I would do the entire bike path and check out some side trails I had noticed before.  Although the temp was close to 50 at the start, the strong NW wind made things chilly.  I started in Peace Dale and got the annoying section out of the way first.  The trails were really fun.  I couldn't find a good map online, but there is a good one on the bike path.  I did a mile on the south side near California Jim's Pond.  Then, on the north side, I explored the other two ponds.  Lots of bridges and roots on this side.  Back on the bike path, I ran into the wind toward the Kingston train station.  Not too many people out there, but it was nice to see a few other hardy runners.  On the way back I was much warmer.  My lower legs (feet mostly) were tired and sore the last two miles, but I kept up my pace (mostly 7:15 to 7:20 miles).  Total time: 1:52. 

Thursday: 0 - I'm pretty sore - probably because of all the pavement the day before. 

Friday: 0 - family hike around Browning Mill Pond in Arcadia.  Bass slappin' at night. 

Saturday: 0 - why not at this point?  Saving it for Sunday. 

Sunday:  24 miles - Epic Arcadia trail run with Greg, Boj, and Justin.  Write up to follow.  Total time: 3 hrs 20 minutes of running. 
Weekly Total: 50 miles

Last Week: 27 miles
Year to Date: 1,259 miles

Monday, November 22, 2010

Lil' Rhody Runaround 2010

Sunday was the day for the race I anticipate all year long.  My local trail race doubles as my family's Thanksgiving, and the race is always fun no matter what shape I'm in.  This year I was in the best running shape of my life, and I couldn't wait to run it.  I have to drive by the course at least two times a day and I would often envision how I would be feeling at a certain point or how hard I would need to push myself.  I decided on a very light running schedule for the week (3 runs - 17 miles, 3 days off). I had a great big meal the night before (similar to my Pisgah race) and slept very well.  I wasn't too nervous until I began fidgeting around my house waiting for my dad to pick me up.  Finally my wife advised, "Remember, this is supposed to be fun."  Good point.  This actually helped.  My dad and brother Glenn picked me up and we were at the race over an hour early.  Luckily, a lot of our friends were there early too, and it was fun to hang out, catch up, and discuss strategy.  I wasn't planning on a warm up, but I ended up doing a pretty long one with Justin.  We timed it really well, because as we returned to the parking lot, it was time to line up at the starting line.
I was in the second row, behind my brother Greg (going for the win and course record) and Bojo, and next to my coworkers Dan and Tom. 
At the gun, someone behind me (Tom?) stepped on my foot and my shoe almost came off.  I was stuck behind some slower people.  I worked my way around them and let it fly.  I allowed the adrenaline do the work for the first mile.  I was amazed at how many people were passing me despite the blistering pace.  Finally, we hit the first single track trail.  The speedsters ahead of me (road runners?) slowed down upon hitting the woods.  My theory in these situations is that it is better to pass and run faster than you'd like then sit behind someone at a slightly slower pace.  I worked my way around quite a few people until the trail opens back up in Burlingame campground.  Then, in typical Lil' Rhody Runaround fashion, the slower trail runners turned back into faster road runners and I was passed by many of the same faces.  The trail re-enters the woods in a low lying area.  I skipped the first bridge and ran to the side of it.  The next one I took, and from behind me I could here someone skid off and crash into the bushes.  Ouch!  Soon after, I heard two more falls behind me, and we hadn't hit any technical stuff yet.  As the former race director would say, "People, this is a TRAIL race!" 
After the first couple of miles I was feeling it - it being the pain of maintaining my speed.  I was in a single file group of runners that seemed to know what they were doing.  No one was slowing down at the rock gardens and stream crossings, or getting up the hills.  Somewhere before mile 3 I was passed by the first female.   Then I was passed by an older guy with a big white mustache.  And finally, Justin went by at the 22 minute mark.  This is the furthest I've made it before he has caught me (I tend to start too fast).  At the water stop (the half way point time wise), I grabbed a water thinking I would try to get a drop down, but the cup exploded in my hand.  So, I tossed my wet gloves to my waving mom and sister-in-law and began the short road section ahead.  I was expecting to get passed by more road runners here.  However, I was able to work my way past quite a few people including the first female and the mustache man.  The pace was still fast entering the next technical single track.  I nimbly hopped my way up a short rock climb section and then dealt with the roots.  At the bottom of the biggest hill on the course there was a very young hunter with a large gun leaning against a tree right on the trail.  Yikes!  I made a joke here and somebody behind me topped it as we climbed the hill.  For some reason this hill finally slowed down a few people in front of me, and I passed five runners.  It took me a while to recover from my effort, and the mustache dude passed me again.  The guy was an animal out there!  Soon after this point my body felt strong again (2nd wind?).  I followed someone for a little while and then went for the pass.  I hammered the remaining rock gardens and uphills and reached the road at 48:20ish.  My spirits soared as I now knew I would reach my sub 56 goal.  I then passed the mustache man again and I swear he groaned at me.  I caught one more guy on the road, who then sprinted by me, slowed way down, and then I went by him again.  I soon figured out what he was looking to accomplish: a mad dash for the finish line.  As we turned back into Burlingame Park, I was run down by this person, who was locked in an epic sprint battle with the mustache man!  I didn't have that sort of kick in me, and they finished a few seconds ahead.  I was ecstatic to see the timer just click to 54 minutes (actual time 54:02) as I passed under it, and tried to stop my body from wanting to throw up (I didn't). 
It was fun to see my wife and kids at the finish line, and get to see Glenn, Dan, Tom, Jen, Pard, and Brad finish their races.  I was expecting to set a PR by a decent margin, but didn't envision by 4 minutes and 17 seconds.  Running 8 miles at 6:45 pace on this course has increased my desire to run faster, further, and funner (bad grammar intended).  I was proud of the way Glenn fought his way to a 57, and excited for Dan and Tom's 58's, Greg's win and PR, and Justin's own huge PR.  This race never disappoints.  Can't wait for next year!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Weekly Log 11-15-10 to 11-21-10

Monday: 0 - let the taper begin.  Nick Cash I was very tired and overwhelmed with work and didn't get the chance or desire to run. 

Tuesday: 7 miles - Ryan Park trails fartlek with Dan.  A nice easy run sprinkled with 6 out of control sprints on the gnarliest hilliest sections.  Total time: 54:35. 

Wednesday: 5 miles - Rome Point trails with Dan.  Another easy run.  I had to laugh at myself.  Two minutes into the run I tripped over a root and couldn't stop myself from falling onto the ground.  At least I fell on nice hard dirt.  Total time - 38:50. 

Thursday: 5 miles - Ryan Park trails with Brad.  Yet another easy run.  Perfect weather.  Untimed. 

Friday: 0

Saturday: 0

Sunday: 10 miles - Lil' Rhody Runaround 8 mile trail race - 19th place.  Total time: 54:02 - 6:45 pace. 

Weekly Total: 27 miles
Last Week: 50 miles
Year to Date: 1,209 miles

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Weekly Log 11-8-10 to 11-14-10

Monday: 0 - crappy weather day, couldn't get motivated to run.  Went and bought new Free Runs. 

Tuesday: 13 miles - Wickford roads (6.5 miles) to/from Rome Point trails (6.5 miles) with Dan.  It was nice to do a long run with someone else for a change.  Weather was decent enough, except when facing the wind.  Nice pace on the roads and in the woods.  I picked it up on the roads on the way back - covering the final 3.25 miles in 21:25.  Total time - 1:35:01. 

Wednesday: 10 miles - 6 x 800 (or more accurately .5 miles) on Quonset bike path with 3+ mile warm up and 3- mile cool down on Calf Pasture Point roads.  This was a fun but hard workout.  I mapped out a way to squeeze in 6 800's on the 2.3 mile bike path (one way) with .2 or .3 mile recovery jogs in between.  I wasn't sure what to expect.  Strong tail wind for first 3 and head wind for last 3.  My results: 3:01/2:52/2:53/2:52/2:56/2:54 - total running time of 1:17:45. 

Thursday: 0 - legs are tired and told me not to run.  I did have an outrageous amount of energy today though.  I raked my front yard, played bass off and on all afternoon, and then 2.5 hours straight at band practice. 

Friday: 12 miles - Vin Gormley trail plus roads to/from with Pard.  I took today off to make a 4 day weekend and get a break from the craziness at work.  I met Pard at the trail near his house and we ran the Lil' Rhody course backwards at an easy pace.  Great weather - 40 degree start, 50 degree finish and sunny.  The course is in tremendous shape: no blowdowns, dry as a bone, even the leaves are getting packed down (oaks dropped them early this year).  Should be a fast one next Sunday, but remember "this is a TRAIL race". 

Saturday: 9 miles - Shumunkanuc Hill roads and Route 91 alone.  I pushed this early morning run.  My legs felt pretty good and I thought I would try to do a 7 mile 7 minute per mile run.  I was right on pace for the first two miles.  I was surprised at how cold I felt despite it being 40 degrees at my house when I left.  When I hit the 3 mile mark (I think) I was suddenly a minute off.  I'm not sure how that happened.  At 5 miles I was at 36:15.  Annoyed, I pushed the hilly Burdickville Rd hard, and then decided to keep running after 7 miles (50:20).  I added two hilly miles and finished up in 64:08.  My guess is that my legs were not at full strength, because the effort was there for a fast run.  I have to rest my legs later this week so that they are hungry for Lil' Rhody. 

Sunday: 6 miles - Shumunkanuc Hill roads solo.  I snuck this run in during the late afternoon.  My first mile was pretty fast, so I decided I would push it, and have this be my last hard workout before next Sunday's race.  This run was hard, but I was rewarded with a great time on a hilly out and back.  The course can be described as first mile more ups than downs, 2nd mile all down, 3rd mile all up then reverse direction.  My results: 6:44/6:32/6:52/6:26/7:10/6:10 Total time: 39:54 (6:39 pace).  This run was only topped by an awesome family hike with another family on the Long Pond Ell Pond trail earlier this afternoon.  The amount of green is stunning - hemlocks, mtn laurel, and giant rhododendrons.  Tricky terrain for the five five and unders, but no one got hurt and had a lot of fun.  I think the kids' favorite part was eating my homemade GORP.  Good week - 50 miles again - have to remind myself to take it slow this upcoming week....

Weekly Total: 50 miles
Last Week: 40 miles
Year to Date: 1,182 miles

Friday, November 5, 2010

Weekly Log 11-1-10 to 11-7-10

Monday: 0 - couldn't get out of the office - dealing with a sales tax audit.  Stressed and anxious! 

Tuesday: 12 miles - Gravelly Hill trails (2x6 mile out and back course) alone.  I needed this run.  I've mentioned before how hilly this run is and doing it twice was awesome.  Colder and darker out there than I expected.  I pushed it pretty hard.  My 3 mile splits: 21:13/22:08/22:39/22:03 - total time 1:28:03. 

Wednesday: 7 miles - Ryan Park trails solo.  This was an untimed lazy run.  I planned to do 9 miles, but I was happy to get 7.   Feeling tired and weird - temporarily quit caffeine to get my anxiety under control.  I miss coffee! 

Thursday: 0 - rainy day.  My body is still sore from Tuesday's run and it felt good to rest.  I did get in a good 1.5 hours of bass slappin' at band practice. 

Friday:  14 miles - Ryan Park trails (2x7 mile course) alone.  Decent weather and no humans.  Felt nice and easy until last mile or so, then I pushed it to the finish.  Total time 1:44:37. 

Saturday: 0 - family trip to Maine.  Lots of backyard football though. 

Sunday: 7 miles - Shumunkanuc Hill roads alone in the morning.  A nice brisk run on the hilly roads around my house.  Hunters everywhere in Burlingame - I'll stay out of there until Lil' Rhody.  I pushed the pace, left the watch at home, and enjoyed every minute of this run.  I'm happy to get 40 miles despite the whacky week. 

Weekly Total: 40 miles
Last Week: 47 miles
Year to Date: 1,132 miles

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Jamestown Jack-O-Lantern Jog 5K

Sunday, I headed over to Jamestown, RI with my family to once again attempt to break a 20 minute 5K.  I was very confident this time, and figured I would be about 19:50 (previous best 20:12).  I was more anxious than usual beforehand, and I hoped this wouldn't hinder my performance.  I stopped in to register and then jogged up the hill to the start line.  I thought I might run into a couple of coworkers who might be running as well, but it became evident I would be doing this one solo.  I wandered over to the front of the line next to a few younger guys who looked faster than me.  At the gun, I let my adrenaline do the work, and settled in to about 10th place or so.  About a quarter mile in, the course turns onto a wide, straight, exposed road, and the wind was howling in my face.  I lost some enthusiasm about the race on this stretch, but when I turned the corner and ran up a hill, I was happy to see my first mile come in at 6:03.  The second mile was much more protected from the wind, however it had some decent hills.  Nothing noteworthy, but it definitely kept this mile slower for me - 6:28.  When mapping this course online, it appeared that the last mile was all downhill.  To my surprise, there was a very large hill (for a 5K) halfway through this final mile.  I felt strong getting up it, and hoped it wouldn't mess up my final time too much.  Once over this hill, there is a fast descent, and I concluded my run with a pretty good sprint to the finish.  I was thrilled to see my time of 19:33 - 39 second PR, and with a flatter course, I know I can do better.  I found my family afterwards, and we headed back through town to the playground and an awesome bakery for coffee.