Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Weekly Log 4-25-11 to 5-1-11

Monday: 9 miles - Ryan Park trails with Dan.  Warm day - low 70's and muggy.  We kept a consistent easy pace and then picked it up a tad on the last two.  My body was sore from the hard run on Sunday, so I let Dan dictate the pace.  The added benefit of this was that he took out the majority of the gnats around the pond.  Total time: 68:17. 

Tuesday: 9 miles - Saunderstown hilly roads alone.  Another scorcher today - 72 degrees and sunny, except when I reached the bay, which was 15 degrees cooler.  My expectation was to go easy and "enjoy" the big climbs.  I felt that I was working harder than I wanted to because of the heat, but my splits weren't too shabby, so I kept it up.  25 minutes in I had a calf cramp in the same one that has been off and on sore for the last week.  I was a little nervous, and 3 miles from my car.  I stretched and then began running again.  Within minutes I was back to normal, and my calf just felt slightly sore at times.  I went on and climbed the Gilbert Stuart Rd, Snuff Mill Rd, and Plum Beach Rd hills without incident.  Total time: 67:04. 

Wednesday: 9 miles - Rome Point trails solo.  Wow.  I had an exceptional run out of the blue today.  I was expecting to do a speed workout with Dan, but then he got swamped with work, so I was going to do a workout alone.  When it was time to go, I changed my mind and drove to Rome Point, as the day dreaming of running the trails of the upcoming Shad Bloom Trail 10K caught up to me.  My body felt tight after yesterday's hills, and my only goal was to feel good enough to get in 9 miles (tide willing).  I headed out on this gray day and got to work.  Right away, I was surprised at how good I felt, and even my calf issue was non-existent.  I felt that I was running well, but not overdoing it.  I checked my watch at the point, and couldn't believe the 8:42 it read - by far my fastest time.  I can't resist the possibility of a PR, so the race was on!  I now knew I was going fast and I didn't want to let up, but I didn't feel as though I was rushing or going too hard.  At the base of the single track hill, I checked my time and was sub 22 minutes - again my fastest split.  At the beach, I had trouble finding firm sand, and I faced a stiff headwind on my way out to the bridge.  Turning around, I could feel the wind helping me glide over the sand and rocks back to the trail.  I then pushed up the single track hill, and felt if I could give it a good effort, the last two or so miles would be easy.  I did just that, and finished up in 57:53 - 6:25 pace - a PR by a couple of minutes. 
I feel that this could be turning point for my running.  Without rested legs, without a really hard effort, I was able to run fast.  This run may have given me the confidence to do what I need to do on Block Island in a couple of weeks! 

Thursday: 5 miles - Ryan Park trails alone.  The weather was dreary, my legs were dead tired, and I wasn't enjoying running today.  Total time: 39:46. 

Friday: 11 miles - Calf Pasture Point roads, trails, and beach plus Quonset Bike Path solo.  My body felt alot better today, and I was able to get a decently long run in.  Gorgeous weather - 72 and sunny.  There were quite a few more people out today than normal.  Very windy on the beach - sand was stinging my body on the way out and I felt like I was running in place at times.  Pretty good effort.  Total time: 1:22:43. 

Saturday: 0

Sunday: 5 miles - Burlingame trails 4+ M in 29 flat with cooldown on my property trails.  A quick late run (out the door at 7:05PM).  I was sub 7 minutes I think for this run.  This was mostly because running at dusk seemed like prime time to be surprise attacked by a cougar.  Hills are feeling a lot easier. 

Overall:  Great week.  I didn't do a workout, but had some nice efforts Tuesday, Wednesday, and Sunday.  I'm planning on more hills and trails this coming week and then taper the following week for the trail race. 

Weekly Total: 48 miles
Last Week: 42 miles
Year to Date: 696 miles

Friday, April 22, 2011

Semi-Epic Pachaug/Arcadia Trail Adventure

I have a new tradition of planning epic trail adventures when Boj is in town.  I recently had purchased a Pachaug State Forest trail map, and upon studying it, I remembered a section of the forest Sarah and I had hiked probably 15 years ago.  I found the old hiking book that described it, and knew I had to include it in the next epic run.  Boj and I had a plan to meet up yesterday at 3PM, and he was able to convince his friend Matty P to join us.  I was a little nervous about this development.  First, I know Matty P as a ridiculously fast road runner. Second, Boj warned me that he is coming off 2 years of injury and he isn't used to trails.  Yikes.  I just found the most technical trail in southern New England. 

The day was sunny and warm with a slight breeze.  However, when I reached the Beach Pond parking lot, I was greeted with white caps and a wind that shook my car.  It was miserable!  Boj and Matty P pulled in a couple of minutes later, and we couldn't get in the woods fast enough.  The plan was to follow the blue blazed Pachaug Trail for a few miles and then assess what we wanted to do from there.  This section of the very long Pachaug Trail is amazing.  It consists of technical ups and downs with numerous rock garden stream crossings.  A couple of miles in, the trails scales a rock face wall and then runs along a very narrow ledge about halfway up it.  Boj kept saying that the trail reminded him of Seven Sisters.  The scenery was probably awesome, but I was too busy staring at my feet.  I do recollect this rocky area had lots of hemlock and mountain laurel. 

About a mile after passing through the Beach Pond boat launch parking area, we encountered our first headless carcass.  I did notice the skull a minute later as we were trying to find the blue blazes.  This was also the first time we had trouble staying on trail.  There was no evidence of any other hikers/runners or mtn bikers on the trail, and it looked like the trail hadn't been maintained for years (overgrown).  The trail continued to be challenging, until we reached the intersection with the (very faint) white dot Canonicus Trail.  We had the choice of continuing on the Pachaug Trail and then turn around, or take Canonicus and make a loop.  For some reason, this was the most difficult decision of our lives. 

We eventually agreed to do the loop.  I knew this would be easier to run, as the Canonicus Trail follows old dirt roads until it reaches Escoheag Hill Road.  I didn't know that we would be running by a killing field(?) two minutes in.  There were quite a few discarded carcasses and we began to feel this wasn't a place for us to be.  Unfortunately, the faded white dots were hard to follow.  I think my outdated hiking book referred to the blazes to be fading back in 1985, and I guess they hadn't been repainted for a few decades.  We stumbled upon a creepy campsite and had to turn around.  There were old roads and unmarked trails everywhere that weren't on the map.  Boj and Matty P were picking up the pace, and I felt slow.  We joked(?) about mountain lions, sasquatch, or hillbillies chasing us.  I was falling a few steps behind - not the position to be in these situations.  The trail began to climb steeply, which I welcomed, knowing that the end of the trail was near. 

It felt good to reach the pavement of Escoheag Hill Road, and quickly we reached the trailhead of the Tippecansett Trail.  After chasing hidden white dots, I was happy to see that this trail had a new looking sign and bright yellow blazes.  We were so giddy to get off of Canonicus Trail that the joke of "Tip A Gansett" Trail made us laugh.  It also was single track, and like the Pachaug Trail, looked unused.  Mostly downhill, we were making quick work, until we reached scarred earth.  It appeared that there was logging activity in the past couple of years here.  In addition to knocking down large trees, it seemed as though all trees with yellow blazes were targeted.  The three of us spread out, trying to find the trail.  After numerous deads end, we settled on a direction and when that fizzled out, I considered bushwacking.  Common sense prevailed, and we backtracked to the last yellow blaze.  I wandered in a different direction and found a yellow dot!  I was so happy.  We were still miles from our cars, and I didn't feel like getting lost or figuring out a longer way back.  My legs were scratched and cut in a hundred places.  I wanted to slap the "Epic" tag on this adventure, but Boj called it semi-epic, and he is the authority on such things. 

After a couple more confusing off-trail moments, we followed the Tippecansett Trail around Tippecansett Pond on decently technical single track.  The trail then runs along an old dirt road most of the way back to Beach Pond.  Matty P and Boj again picked up the pace and I fell slightly back.  We were cruising at a nice speed, and reached our cars after an hour and forty minutes of running and about thirty minutes of confusion and indecision.  Thirteen miles of semi-epicness. 

This course could easily be extended in any number of directions: continuing north on the Pauchaug Trail, heading east into Arcadia near Stepstone Falls, and/or heading south of Rte 165 on Deep Pond Trail.  After getting home, I did a little online research and found out this information about the Tippecansett Trail:  "The trail used to reenter the forest at the tower, but by 2009 an unannounced relocation was made -lengthening the trail by 1.2 miles (1.9 kilometers). The yellow-blazed Tippecansett Trail now overlaps a portion of the white-blazed Canonicus Trail. Look for both blazes on utility poles while descending west on Escoheag Hill Road."  Oops!  I do remember parts of the Canonicus Trail also having yellow blazes.  Next time I won't rely on a map and a twenty-five year old book! 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Weekly Log 4-18-11 to 4-24-11

Monday: 8 miles - Ryan Park trails with Brad.  A fantastic spring day - 60 degrees and sunny.  We took it easy through the woods and I finished up by running the fields plus some extra trail work to get 8 in.  Total time: 62:53. 

Tuesday: 9 miles - Rome Point trails with Greg.  My bro was down to celebrate our dad's birthday, and he also got to take advantage of some fast and dry Rhody trails.  We had a great run weaving through Rome Point and running the shoreline out to the bridge and back.  It was a nice fast pace, but not taxing for me, except when we pushed hard up the hill.  We stopped briefly to watch 3 deer be chased by some fast dogs.  Total time: 61:28. 

Wednesday: 8 miles - Calf Pasture Point roads, trails, and beach alone.  My body felt stressed and tight and I needed coffee before heading out for my run.  I took it slow, and stopped frequently to smell the roses (I couldn't smell them because they stuffed up my nose).  I wandered around to make sure I wasn't missing any hidden gem side trails (I wasn't).  My right calf felt sore, but I just kept running, guessing it wasn't a big deal.  Total time about 64 minutes. 

Thursday: 13 miles - Semi-Epic Pachaug/Arcadia trail run with Boj and Matty P.  Separate write up to follow.  Total time: 1:40. 

Friday: 0 - didn't get the chance to run during the day - tired anyway. 

Saturday: 0

Sunday: 4 miles - Hilly House Loop (3.67 miles) solo with trail cooldown with my kids.  I haven't run this loop in about a year.  My best time was 24:51 on this course.  There's a killer 1 mile climb near the end that always slows me down.  I wanted to see how I've improved in the last year, so I gave it a good effort.  My first mile was 6:06 and I was still on that pace at the second mile mark (not knowing exactly where it was).  There are some decent hills the first two miles, so I felt good about my time.  Beginning the one mile climb, I could feel myself slowing down, and I was losing the mental battle.  I finished up in 23:43 - 6:27 pace.  I was hoping to be a little faster pace-wise, but it did give me the confidence that I could string together 3.1 miles at 6:06 on a flat course to reach my goal of sub 19 minutes. 

Overall:  It's always a fun week when the Keenyans are in town on school vacation.  Great weather.  I  could have hit 50 miles if I was able to figure out when I could have run on Friday.  Oh well. 
This Week: 42 miles
Last Week: 44 miles
Year to Date: 648 miles

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Weekly Log 4-11-11 to 4-17-11

Monday: 12 miles - Wickford roads 5M and Ryan Park trails 7M with Dan.  My hamstrings were still particularly sore from paintball on Saturday, and I wasn't planning on doing this many miles, but Dan talked me into it.  I let him dictate the pace, and I would occasionally fall behind when he surged the technical sections in the woods.  Nice weather (high 50's and cloudy), and lots of signs of spring in the neighborhoods (forsythia blooming everywhere).  My hamstrings felt tight the last few miles, but it was a nice run.  Total time: 1:31:51. 

Tuesday: 9 miles - Saunderstown hilly roads alone.  I started a little early today, as I could see the rain coming on radar, and I ended up almost beating the downpour (missed by a half mile).  I picked a course that had four significant climbs and tried to run a good pace the entire time.  My legs were not feeling fresh, so this was a little more difficult than expected.  I was surprised by the challenge of running up Plum Point Road which parallels Route 138 (part of the Jamestown Bridge 10K course).  Total time: 65:15.

Wednesday: 0 - the window of light rain never materialized as I hoped.

Thursday: 10 miles - Quonset Bike Path 8x400 workout with Calf Pasture Point warm up and Allen Harbor cool down.  Awesome weather - couldn't wait to get out there today.  I ran my warm up at a pretty fast pace, and was surprised at how much sweat was pouring off my head and into my eyes.  My glasses kept sliding off my nose, so I ditched them before I began my workout.  I was able to map online where the first 400 meter mark would be, so I was eager to see if my guess last time of 85 seconds was accurate.  I did it in 86 seconds and I felt like I didn't give it my best.  My next 3 I ran for either 86 or 85 seconds (not knowing where 400 meters was), and felt like I was a few seconds ahead of the first one - maybe close to 80.  The last 4 were probably back to the 85 or 86.  At some point during the workout, I was wishing I brought water with me or had some in my car.  It's not winter anymore!  I had a good cool down, and my legs feel strong.  Total time: 75 minutes. 

Friday: 12 miles - Gravelly Hill trail out and back x2 with Dan.  I thought this would be a solo run, but Dan was able to join me.  I thought by how fast he was pushing the pace that he was only going to do the first out and back (6 miles), but was pleasantly surprised he wanted to do the next one with me too.  We took the second one a little slower (30 seconds per mile) and I was able to relax and enjoy this challenging single track.  It was great to run this trail again (first time since last November).  Laps: 21:40/21:34/23:13/22:53 Total time: 1:29:22

Saturday: 0 - nice hike in Fitzwilliam, NH with Sarah - Rhododendron State Park to Little Monadnock summit (1883 feet) and back.  Plenty of cross training dancing and chromium replacing later at Joel's wedding. 

Sunday: 1 mile - Ninigret Park bike loop with my son.  Jackson and I headed down to Ninigret after dinner for a bike ride (for him - jog for me).  He was hoping for two laps of this 1 mile course, but he got discouraged by a horrible wind that looked like it could knock him off his bike at times.  He made me run when the wind was at his back, as he let it push him along probably too quickly.  He was done after one. 

Overall: Fun week of running and non-running activities.  Four high quality runs.  Apparently the Jamestown Bridge 10K registration filled up early, so I won't be doing that race next Saturday.  My new plan is to do this trail 10K in May.  Better register early this time! 

This Week: 44 miles
Last Week: 41 miles
Year to Date: 606 miles

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Weekly Log 4-4-11 to 4-10-11

Monday: 8 miles - Saunderstown hilly roads alone.  A day after my disappointing 5K, I wanted to move on to train for my next possible race - the Jamestown Bridge 10K.  The course is described as having "three big climbs".  I parked at the race start and then ran my own course with three big climbs.  My legs felt really good despite "racing" the day before, and the first three downhill and flat miles were low 7's.  The first hill was the biggest - Gilbert Stuart Road - and my thighs were burning near the top.  Going back down felt even harder though.  The next hill is long and gradual - Snuff Mill Road.  No problems here, creepy guy walking erratically excluded.  Reaching 1A, I headed south to Cottrell Road - a screaming descent that again worked my legs.  Working my way north, I encountered a loose German Sheppard in the middle of the road.  I figured it was friendly, but I stopped, talked gently, and tip-toed past it.  The final climb was up Plum Beach Road.  Not quite as big as Gilbert Stuart Road, it is consistently steep and challenging.  I returned to my car for a total time of 58:43. 

Tuesday: 7 miles - Ryan Park trails with Brad.  Warm, gray, and windy today.  We ran the 5M woods section at a decent pace.  I felt really relaxed, and thinking back to the run, there are sections I don't even really remember doing.  I finished up the 2M fields section in which I dealt with the wind and then the rain.  Total time: 52:50. 

Wednesday: 10 miles - Quonset Bike Path and Calf Pasture Point roads and beach alone.  My legs were tight today, but I was excited to run in the sunny 56 degree weather (of course it was windy).  No workout today, but I thought I would push the pace on one mile going out and 2 miles coming back.  It didn't really work as I planned, because I was running every mile too fast.  I was up for this mental challenge, and ran my fast mile on the way out to the beach in 6:22, while running just over 7:00 the rest of the time.  The tide was pretty low, and I was able to find firm sand.  Not too much bird activity except for a few lingering brant and a new pair of greater black-backed gulls.  I kept a good pace on the beach and returned to the quiet paved paths.  I felt like I was running a little under 7 minute pace and then picked it up even more for my two mile tempo.  Unfortunately, I was running into a very stiff west wind, so I don't think my effort matched my times (6:45, 6:38).  I was really happy to finish up under 70 minutes (69:44) on a true 10 mile course (mapped online 9.98 miles) that included 2.5 miles on sand. 

Thursday: 9 miles - Rome Point trails with Dan.  A really nice day except for a strong wind on the bay.  We ran a comfortable pace and the tide allowed us to make it out to the bridge.  Total time: 66:42. 

Friday: 0 - half day of work, field trip with son, and travel to NH. 

Saturday: 7 miles - Pisgah trails with the Pisgah Twins.  I wasn't excited about the chilly, early start (26/6:30), but after drinking two cups of coffee, I was ready to go.  We had a nice run from Horseshoe to the Monadnock vista.  Glenn headed back from there, and Greg and I looped around - stopping at the Hubbard Hill vista - back to Horseshoe.  The trails were in rough shape with snow, mud, and downed trees.  It makes me feel spoiled running in RI - short winters!  Total time: 53:04.  Serious cross training later in the day with Joel's bachelor party crew.  Paintball was a blast, and we were fast and aggressive. 

Sunday: 0 - thought I might want to run in the early AM before driving home, but it didn't happen.  My hamstrings and glutes are sore from either the hills during my run in Pisgah, or more likely sprinting up the ridges in paintball. 

Overall: A fun week - hit my target mileage, improving weather, and a trip to NH.  Looking for a repeat next week. 

Weekly Total: 41 miles
Last Week: 37 miles
Year to Date: 562 miles

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Chariho 5K 2011

Sunday, April 3rd, was the 4th annual Chariho 5K.  This event is put on by a local Relay for Life team that is run by family friends.  Last year I was disappointed with my 20:14 finish.  I was hoping to be under 20 minutes.  My plan this year was to get under 19 minutes (my PR is 19:33 set last fall).  I knew this was an aggressive goal, but I felt my 40 mile a week training the last 3 months had set me up for it.  At worst, I would set a new PR probably in the low 19's. 

My wife, kids, and I headed over to the race with enough time for a mile warm up and pre-race socializing.  I saw Justin, Chad (with another fast looking guy), Jeff Walker, and a couple of potentially quick kids.  I felt really relaxed, and my body seemed ready to go.  I lined up next to Justin and Chad at the start.  I was out quickly behind only Chad and the eventual winner.  After a quarter mile I was joined by Justin and Jeff.  We joked about drafting each other (very strong headwind in the turf fields).  Justin pressed on, and I stayed next to Jeff, or a couple steps behind, for the next mile or so.  I figured this was a good plan as I knew Jeff ran 5K's in the mid to high 18's.  Our first mile was announced at 6:09 which seemed slow to me, but I chalked it up to the wind, and figured the second mile (opposite direction) would be that much faster.  At some point in the turf fields, Jeff surged ahead of me, and before I knew it, I was in no man's land. 
At the 2nd mile marker, my time was 12:30, and I knew I wasn't going to attain my goal.  This was kind of deflating, and I wished I had someone near me to at least race against.  The course veered right into the school campus and then right again straight into the wind.  Jeff seemed closer to me, but not catchable, as we only had one lap on the track to finish.  My wife clapped for me while my kids played on the pole vault mats, and I finished up in 19:30.  A PR, but not what I was hoping for. 

I feel that I don't race enough to know how hard to push my body.  The first mile I felt good, and actually tried to slow myself down the first half mile.  My second and third miles were uncomfortable, but not that bad.  I think I should be pushing myself harder.  I may need to experiment on future 5K's.  I think my strong suit is longer distances, definitely on trails, and hills.  But, I still believe I can get under 19 minutes. 

Post race, I caught up with Justin (huge PR!) and Jeff, and then with my dad, who also ran and won his age division, despite his lingering knee issue.  Instead of cooling down, I sat in the warm sun on the track with my wife and kids and chatted with various friends and family.  It was another fun Relay for Life event, and I'll be back next year to try again.