Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Weekly Log 2-27-12 to 3-4-12

Monday: 11 miles - Ryan Park trails alone.  I surprised myself by running this 12 minutes faster than on Friday.  I started okay - my legs felt tired, and then I purposely picked it up on the rail bed.  I then kept up my effort, even on the more technical sections.  Back on the rail bed I caught up to two galloping horses (okay, they weren't going that fast), eventually the riders let me pass.  I finished up strong and was pleased with the result.  Total time: 1:13:35.  Weather sidebar: I was excited about the forecast of 50 degrees and no wind, but I was really annoyed to find out the wind was actually 15-20 with gusts to 30.  At least the woods kept me sheltered from this most of the time. 

Tuesday: 9 miles - Rome Point trails and beach solo.  I was sort of just going through the motions today, feeling lackluster, but enjoying the great weather.  Total time: 1:08:57. 

Wednesday: 6 miles - Ryan Park trails alone.  I almost took a zero today, but willed myself to change into my running clothes and get out of my car in the rain.  I figured that if I was going to run in the miserable elements (mid 30's and rain with some snow), I was going to run fun trails.  I also didn't wear a watch or check the time before beginning.  My vision was an issue at times since I didn't wear my glasses either.  I explored some new side trails that have recently popped up between the pond and the fields.  I can't tell who or for whom these trails were made - not 4 wheelers/dirtbikes, no mtn bike tracks, and the trails seemed raked like in Rome Point.  Interesting.  Very fun, and now I need to figure out how to incorporate them into my routes.  My legs felt fresher than yesterday.  I was wet by the time I finished, but never got cold. 

Thursday: 11 miles - trail workout with Jeff, Muddy, Mike, and Ben.  We met up at TriPond Park in Wakefield and ran the trails of the park at a decent pace for a warm up.  We then arrived at the site of the upcoming Spring Forward 1 Hr Trail Race at the SK athletic fields.  Mike explained the two mile course, which is in figure 8 shape.  We then ran a mile on the course that he had measured earlier in the day.  His idea was for us to do mile repeats.  He designed the mile to end on a hill.  He also had the idea to stagger the start so that we all finished about the same time.  We based this on our pace at the Brrr-lingame 15K.  Jeff, Ben, and I (we all finished about the same time at the race) went out first, with Justin following about 15 seconds behind us, and then Mike sometime after that.  We began on a soggy field and then you pick up a short trail in the woods before entering back onto the field briefly.  Jeff, who was gazelling on the downhills immediately, had a GPS, and at the 1/4 mile mark we were going 6:40 pace.  The next 1/4 mile is on a wide trail and flat with one short and steep descent.  I felt a little out of control on it the first time.  Right after the 1/2 mile mark, besides hearing Muddy sloshing behind us, the trail gets really muddy with a couple of slippery bridge crossings.  The last 1/4 mile is all uphill, somewhat steep at times.  The first mile I completed in about 6:47.  It was hard!  I think that this course might be a little slower than the 15K.  We would then do a recovery jog for about 3 minutes before beginning the next mile (with the same staggered starts).  The second mile was my fastest in 6:42.  I was feeling good on the hills at the end.  Mile 3 was my slowest in 6:48.  Mile 4 I began in front of Jeff and Ben as I was just looking to get it over with.  I didn't hear anybody near me until after I finished (6:45), but apparently Jeff slipped off a bridge and was rescued by the rest of them.  He seemed fine afterwards.  We then ran the side streets and bike path back to our cars.  Total time: 1:18:30.  This was a super fun way to do a speed workout.  The combination of running out of control through the woods on a wet muddy day with a group of like-minded runners was awesome. 

Friday: AM - became Uncle Jonny at 6:26AM!  Congrats to Eliza and Chris on their baby boy.  PM - 7 miles Calf Pasture Point roads, trails, and beach alone.  I alternated between feeling good and terrible.  My legs are fine from yesterday's workout - gotta love trails!  I got wet twice trying to jump the tidal stream today.  It looked so easy, but the sand I landed in was like quicksand.  Lot's of singing red-winged blackbirds and grackles plus a kingfisher sighting.  Total time: 57 minutes. 

Saturday: 16 miles - Pawcatuck roads and Barn Island trails with Jeff, Muddy, and Tom.  I met up with the group at the Westerly Y parking lot at 6AM.  We were all relieved that it was not pouring rain with gusty winds as forecasted.  I nervously kept waking in the middle of the night listening to the rain.  I snuck out of my house early and headed to D&D in Ashaway to fuel up before the run (and to avoid making noise in my kitchen).  I was horrified that the D&D wasn't open yet, although it was supposed to open at 5AM.  Yikes!  I was hungry.  I ate my gronala bar and hoped to find something else open.  Right near the Y I stopped at the Bess Eaton there.  I was extremely happy with the quality of the product, although I had to shovel it in mere minutes before the 2 hour run.  We followed the same course that Jeff had designed back in January.  This time there was a lot more light as we made our way through Pawcatuck.  Muddy and I were a little nervous about the pace Jeff and Tom might have in store for us, but we kept it to a comfortable, yet fast pace (7:15-7:20).  We then spent a few miles wandering around the woods and marshes of Barn Island.  No duck hunters this time, which lead to more birds for us to see, including an early great egret.  The pace on the trails was a little slower and I was enjoying it.  Finally, we looped around the roads on the Pawcatuck River.  I was chatting away, not paying attention, and  before I knew it, we were entering downtown Westerly.  Jeff and Tom picked it up noticeably in the park, but Muddy and I kept it steady behind them.  Total time: 1:56:56.  This was almost 5 minutes faster than last time.  A great run with a great group! 

Sunday: 0 - family hike around Browning Mill Pond from my in-law's house. 

Overall: A really fun week of running.  I thoroughly enjoyed both group runs.  Two months in and I'm already almost at 500 miles.  Makes me think of this:

Weekly Total: 60 miles
Last Week: 51 miles
Year to Date: 498 miles

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Weekly Log 2-20-12 to 2-26-12

Monday: 0 - travel from NH to Boston.  Few more miles of walking.  My minor cold has gotten worse. 

Tuesday: 8.5 miles - sick track workout at CHS alone.  Sick as in sick sick.  Driving home from Boston in the morning, I passed the track and thought, hmm, I could do a workout there this afternoon.  I wasn't feeling that great all day, but the idea of running was still appealing.  Finally, at 3:30PM I headed over to the track, which was empty.  My plan was to warm up with a few laps to see how I felt.  That went well so I then proceeded with my plan of 2x(6x200) w/ full rest.  I checked my VDOT R pace to see what I should be doing these in - 39 seconds.  The first set felt really good.  I then ran a mile between sets just for mileage sake.  As I finished my 2nd 200 on the second set, I felt a muscle tighten in my thigh.  I stopped briefly to stretch it out, which didn't work.  I finally decided to just try to run on it to see what would happen.  I gingerly ran a 200, and then the last three felt better than the previous.  I did a 3 mile cooldown on trails behind on the school.  My thigh muscle was tight, but okay to run on.  Results:  (36/38/37/37/37/36)  (38/37/44/41/39/38).  Total time: 64 minutes. 

Wednesday: 7.5 miles - Calf Pasture Point roads, trails, and beach alone.  Warm, but windier than advertised.  I looped around the point twice with the wind at my back.  Busy out there today.  There was a big group of sanderlings working the shoreline.  Plenty of brant out there too.  My legs were a bit fatigued from the workout, and my cold is still lingering as well.  Total time: 60:49. 

Thursday: 0 - instead of running on my break today I met my wife and kids at Rome Point for a hike.  We went through the woods down to the point to check out the seals, which were numerous.  We then walked the shoreline back to the main trail.  This turned into a decent workout of shoulder/piggybag rides uphill to the car.  Sinuses are really clogged and annoying. 

Friday: 11 miles - Ryan Park trails alone.  Very happy to get in this run today, as the miles have been slow this week, the weather was kind of crappy, and my head still feels kind of crappy.  I thought about just napping in my car, but I motivated myself enough to get out of my car and run.  I didn't even pack appropriate clothes, so I ran with a short shorts/polar fleece combo.  After a mile my mood improved and I enjoyed the rest of the run.  I assumed the trails would be mostly dirt and mud, but I was wrong - snow cover the entire time.  I wish I put on the Yaktrax, but at least I had good trail shoes on.  I had to walk down a couple of steep slippery hills and over Bon Jovi bridge.  Despite my lingering cold, I had plenty of energy over the 11 miles.  Total time: 1:25:23. 

Saturday: 16 miles - Burlingame trail loop with Jeff, Mike, and Aaron.  We met up at 6:30AM at the picnic area.  I wasn't sure what to expect weather-wise or trail-wise.  It was very windy, but the temperature was about 40 degrees.  The wind helped dry up the trails so that no one really got wet.  It felt cold when you weren't running, but fine during.  Mike and I had the same idea of a course, but then he and Aaron were considering an extra hour or so of running by exploring Woody Hill.  Jeff and I were just going to run with them until we wanted to get back (only looking for a 2 hour adventure today).  We ran the Vin Gormley Trail counterclockwise until Schoolhouse Pond Trail.  We eventually ran a few mtn bike trails until we crossed Buckeye Brook Rd and entered the north side of the park.  Mike was looking for a hill workout, so we weaved around hitting some of the best ones, including Ledge Trail.  I haven't run that in probably seven years.  I think I'm a good climber, but these guys were even more aggressive than I am.  The pace was also fast on any of the more wide open trails, but I would catch right up on the technical stuff.  Once we hit the south side, again on Vin Gormley Trail, I began chatting with Aaron and didn't realize that Jeff and Mike were way ahead of us.  They waited at the spot where Mike and Aaron were going to split from us, but they decided that a 2 hour trail run was enough on this day, so we finished the VG trail (mostly) back to our cars.  The distance seemed perfect to me, as I was only getting tired at the very end.  Total time 2:03:44.  Mike and Jeff had various distances on their Garmin, but I don't think it was very accurate, especially considering the twisy trails we were on.  To me it felt like we were going under 8 minute pace, except for a few slow spots, and low 7 minute pace on some of the easier terrain, so I'm calling it 16 miles. 

Sunday: 8 miles - Burlingame trails alone in the afternoon.  I ran the mile down the road and entered Burlingame on the east side.  My body felt tired on this hilly road section, but at least it was snappy - 7:01.  I slowed it down in the woods, and made a creative loop around this side and then eventually returning through the north side by the beaver pond.  It wasn't quite the relaxing run I had envisioned, but I was appreciating the awesome trails I could run to from my front door.  Total time: 61:42. 

Overall: I was able to salvage the week after struggling early with a lingering head cold.  I thought I'd only get about 40 miles in.  We'll see what next week brings. 

Weekly Total: 51 miles
Last Week: 65 miles
Year to Date: 438 miles

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Weekly Log 2-13-12 to 2-19-12

Monday: 4+ miles - Ryan Park trails alone.  This was just a recovery run from the race on Sunday, but my legs were in pretty good shape.  I created a new 4 mile course utilizing trails around the fields - up Rte 4 trail, down trails between power line and fields, up through the fields, and down the trails between the pond and the fields.  Extremely fun trails. I did not like the 2 loose pit bull/labrador mix dogs I had to stop for.  The owners weren't pleasant either, but I was too afraid of them to say anything.  Total time: 32:30. 

Tuesday: 11 miles - Rome Point trails and beach solo.  I didn't have high expectations for this run, but my pace was decent throughout.  I was pleased to see only a couple of cars in the parking lot, and the people I did run into were friendly.  The high tide made things interesting, but I was able to avoid getting wet without changing my course.  Total time: 1:19:40.  This may be my fastest time on this newer 11 mile version. 

Wednesday: 9+ miles - Ryan Park trails alone.  I was thinking about a workout today, but my legs were finally feeling tired.  I decided to take it easy, and do a workout on Thursday.  I parked at the basketball court and did half of the 5 mile woods section.  I made the decision to go faster on the railbed.  I wasn't flying, but I picked it up noticeably.   I then did my new 4 mile fields loop.  I changed course to avoid people at one point.  Back on the railbed, I again picked up my pace, and then finished the other half of the woods.  I did stop briefly on the rooty pond trail because there were two scary looking german sheppards on the trail, leashed together.  A man politely held them back so I could tiptoe around them.  I realized that the dogs had K9 vests on, and the man was actually a police officer.  I'm glad I was friendly.  Total time: 1:08:03. 

Thursday: 10 miles - Quonset Bike Path workout with Calf Pasture Point long warm up and short cool down.  I'm feeling like a might be coming down with my wife's mild cold, so I set out for a loop around the point to see how my body felt.  Everything seemed fine, so after the 4.5 miles, I did my usual reverse ladder workout: 2 mile/1 mile/800/400.  Right at the start my legs didn't feel super fresh, but my breathing was under control so I kept it up, and I completed the 2 miles in 11:49.  After a short recovery, I turned around and ran the 1 mile.  My lungs were burning by the end of this, but I was happy with the 5:52.  I had a good start and finish to the 800.  I need to work on the middle. 2:52.  400 - 82.  Overall, I was happy with the results.  I did a brief 1 mile cool down around the harbor.  Total time: 1:11:16. 

Friday: 10 miles - Rome Point trails and beach alone.  I wasn't planning on this many miles, but that's what happens on a warm sunny day.  Total time: 1:14:52. 

Saturday: 21 miles - Long Burlingame Loop from my house alone.  I tried to find a partner for this run, but even though I couldn't find anyone do run it with me, I still decided to do it.  I don't have the chance to get a long run in like this very often.  I left my house at 9:20AM wearing a small backpack with water and snacks in it.  I never really noticed it on my run.  I ran down the road and entered Burlingame on the North South Trail off of Burdickville Road.  I was trying to go slow, and the terrain on this section definitely keeps it that way.  I then began the long descent to the river on a white dot trail.  I stopped after 16 minutes to check out 3 common mergansers in the river.  I haven't seen this species since I was kid - I was pretty excited.  I then followed the white dot through a pitch pine grove and back up to the main dirt path.  I forget how fun this deserted trail is, but the drawback is a large wet section.  Lots of rocks and cliffs that could be explored off the path.  Back on the main trail, I crossed Buckeye Brook and began the long climb up the hill.  I chuckled to myself thinking about how hard I used to work to get up this thing.  It's a decent climb, but much easier these days.  I eventually crossed Buckey Brook Rd (about 4 miles) and then went left on the Vin Gormley Trail.  I quickly turned right and took the old dirt road down to the north camp.  It felt really warm on the beach - full sun and sheltered from the wind.  I didn't linger and looped around the other side of the camp before taking the single track north back to VGT.  I then turned left and ran the usual fun sections of this trail down to Buckeye Brook Rd, then to Klondike Rd, all the way until the North South Trail split right before the main campground.  I was a little over 10 miles and 1:24 in.  I then did the mostly single track trails of last weekend's Brrr-lingame 15K, but in reverse.  I was able to make it back to the start/finish field without any wrong turns.  I stopped at a picnic table and took a brief break.  I was approx. 14 miles in at 1:57.  I enjoyed the warm sun, and ate my trail mix.  I might have lingered longer, but I saw hikers with a loose german sheppard that I didn't want to have to deal with, so I ran on.  The next two miles are on hard packed dirt and paved roads.  My legs, which were tired to begin with from my ambitious week, started to really fatigue here.  Finally I reached the woods again, but the technical single track of Sammy C's Trail did me in.  I was not having fun anymore.  This is where I needed a partner to distract me from my mental and physical pain.  I did get this distraction in the form of a friendly mtn biker.  I then had a good stretch on the Sammy C's extension #1 (another friendly mtn biker - what?) and extension #2.  It also helped that I knew I was getting close to home.  I took the new side trail up to where the old house used to be (how's that RI reference?).  I crossed Buckeye Brook Rd and took the old trail that my wife and I used to hike on alot when we first moved here.  I stopped on an open sunny rock to snack again and stretch my legs one more time before finishing.  I was at 2:44.  I thought I was 2 miles from my house, but I wasn't in a hurry, probably should have just finished.  Back running, I reached the main trail and saw another local trail runner!  I then turned right near the beaver pond, ran up the hill, and then took the road back down and up to my house.  Total time 2:54.  I thought this run would take about 3 hours - good guess!  I feel that this was a true 21 miles.  I'd love to do it again, but not alone.  Any takers? 

Sunday: 0 - drive up to NH in morning, walk in the afternoon. 

Weekly Total: 65 miles
Last Week: 59 miles
Year to Date: 387 miles

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Brrr-lingame 15K Trail Race

Race #4 of the South County 4th Season Series of trail races was this past Sunday, and it was by far my favorite.  Despite taking place in my home park, the trails used for the course were rather unfamiliar to me as I've never explored the side trails around the busy campground.  Warming up with Greg, Justin, Jeff, and Steve, the trails were as I suspected - narrow, twisty, rolling single track.  I couldn't wait to race.  My legs felt great, and I thought the course favored my strengths both in distance and technicality. 

Going in, there was a question of how many people would turn out on a cold windy day to run a new 15K trail race.  I was happy to see another great turnout, and a very strong field.  Waiting to start, I knew the top five would probably be my brother, Al Bernier, the URI kid, the kid who came in 2nd at Ryan Park, and Tom Bosquet (fellow WTAC teammate).  Then there was the usual group of runners I'd be chasing: Justin, Jeff, Aaron, and Boj.  What about the people I didn't recognize?  I wasn't sure top 10 was in reach. 

My plan was to pace myself.  No need to sprint the beginning of a 9.3 mile trail race.  At the siren, I settled behind about 15 or so runners as we looped around a field.  Aaron made a comment questioning why everyone was starting so fast to me and Boj, and I agreed with him.  Two seconds later, as we entered the woods, I could see the pace drop dramatically, and I quickly made the decision to take off.  I didn't want to start fast, but I also didn't want to get stuck going too slow. 

I soon found myself leading a group of runners through the single track.  I could see people ahead of me, but I wasn't gaining on them.  I could feel the people behind me on my heels.  I hammered every hill, both up and down, but I wasn't shaking whoever it was.  I knew that Boj, Aaron, and Jeff were there, and I wasn't sure if Justin was ahead of me or not.  The pace seemed fast and I had some doubts if this was a smart move.  I continued on, nervously leading this group.  The trail was relentless.

Eventually I caught up to a couple of guys, passing one easily and then just as I was going around the second one, the course veered hard to the left.  I couldn't make the turn and had to bushwack my way back to the course.  The guy I tried to pass got caught up in some bushes and I then saw Boj trip over a rock.  Jeff got through this "pile up" unscathed and shot ahead.  I sprinted up to him, not wanting to lose position.  We chatted briefly on the wider double track, before he steadily pulled away from me back on the single track.  He was in full gazelle mode on the long downhill section, and I wasn't sure if I would see him again.  As I approached the bog bridges I could here someone behind me that I recognized as Boj.  I tried to navigate the bridges, roots, mud, and rocks as nimbly as I could, but I knew that he was itching to pass me, and that he is a more talented trail runner than myself.  As soon as we turned right onto the Vin Gormley trail he went by.  Now in the campground, I was happy to see the course avoided the pavement by weaving through campsites. 

After a fast descent, I passed through the start/finish area and completed my first lap in 31:26.  Jeff and Boj weren't that far ahead of me surprisingly, as well as another runner that I quickly passed.  Taking a peek back in the field before entering the woods, I could see a runner gaining ground rapidly.  I realized it was Aaron, and he looked like he was ready for a huge negative split.  The four of us formed a single file pack on the single track with Boj leading.  On a short hill before the road crossing, Aaron blasted by the three of us in one shot.  Soon after, on a rather open gradual climb, Boj seemed to slow down a bit.  I waited for him to pick it back up, but eventually decided to pass him, assuming he would pass me again on the next downhill.  This didn't happen, and I found myself slowly pulling away from him and Jeff. 

I was in a nerve-racking position again.  I was guessing there were two miles left.  I had been running about as hard as I could for the entire time up to this point, and I wasn't sure I had enough left.  I especially felt slow on the wide double track, even tripping and falling over nothing at one point, but no one caught me.  I was beginning to see a new runner ahead of me.  It wasn't Aaron.  Boj and Jeff seemed to be a few seconds behind.  Before entering the bog bridges section, once again I could hear Boj behind me.  Again I tried to go as fast as humanly possible, but I knew he was just waiting for his chance to pass, which he did at the exact same spot as the first lap.  I still had a decent lead on Jeff, but I was fearful of his finish.  Running through the campground I watched Boj pass the runner I had been seeing, and then I made the decision to push harder to pass him as well.  I hoped that he didn't have any fight in him left, and we were very close to finishing.  I was wrong, he perked up as we both hammered the final descent to the finish line, but I held him off. 

My total time was 1:02:56, with a pretty even second split of 31:30.  I was really happy with this race.  I ran hard the entire time, and my splits showed that I didn't slow down.  I ended up in 9th place.  It was fun talking with the familiar trail series faces afterwards, as well as with my WTAC teammates (1st place again!), and my family (Jen and my dad also raced).  I loved the course and the 2 lap format.  I can't wait to incorporate these trails into an even longer loop around Burlingame. 


Photos courtesy of Off Rhode Racing

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Super 5K 2012

On Superbowl Sunday, I ran my first Super 5K in Narragansett, RI.  I was looking forward to testing my fitness on a flat road course as I've been a little down on my performances on the trails recently.  I didn't need a PR, just a decent time to show me I haven't lost anything since early December.  The other exciting aspect of this race was the team competition component.  This was the WTAC's first road racing event, and the Super 5K attracts a good batch of local runners, most of which are on teams. 

Justin picked me up early, and we were off to Narragansett.  We registered and walked around for a bit before returning to his truck to get ready for a warm up.  Unbelievably, it was still over an hour before the start.  We fidgeted until we couldn't take it anymore, and headed out to run the course.  It was a sunny day, but a tad chilly - mid 30's.  I've gotten so used to the warm winter weather this year that these conditions felt cold to me.  The wind was light and variable - or so it seemed - it always felt in your face.  I was planning to race in short sleeves, but I never got warm on the warm up, so I left my warmer clothes on.  We noticed a good number of fit and fast looking runners also out on the course.  Back at registration, we found our teammates Jeff, Tom, and Steve, and then made our way over to the starting line.  I chose to not toe the line, trying to play it smart, and ended up in the 2nd row, right behind last year's winner Will Sanders.  Tom, Justin, and Jay S were on my right.  Before I knew it, the race was on. 

I took off swiftly, but under control.  After a 1/4 mile, I was probably about 15th.  I noticed Jay ahead of me, and wondered if I should stick with him as we've been finishing near each other in recent trail races.  Justin went by, and then a 1/2 mile in, Jeff and Aaron R passed me:
Suddenly I found myself running with humans much larger than myself: 
The course veers right onto a side street, that is also the only hill, if it could be called that.  My first mile was 5:46.  This is right about where I wanted to be - not too fast, not too slow.  The course then flattens out and turns left down a very straight street.  Near the end of the street was a turnaround, so I soon was seeing the runners ahead of me go by.  I shouted encouragement to Justin and Jeff, before making my turn (which was rather awkward).  I then crossed the 2nd mile mark at 11:51.  Quick math told me I ran a six plus minute mile, and I needed to step it up. 

I picked it up as the course descended back to Ocean Road.  I seemed to be stuck in my position with no one that close in front or behind.  I managed to smile as I passed my wife and kids: 

As we neared the Towers, with about a 1/2 mile left, I made the decision to make myself more uncomfortable and try to catch the runners in front of me.  I could tell I was gaining on 3 of them, and then finally went by right at the Towers.  I was working extremely hard, and now was closing in on Jay.  I didn't check my time at three miles, instead I was concentrating on finishing.  Jay picked it up, and I soon found myself focused on the sprinting I could hear behind me.  I tried to find another gear.  It wasn't much, but I held onto my position and crossed the line in 18:18. 


I was really pleased with my time.  It wasn't a PR, but close enough (10 seconds).  This race let me feel confident again about my running.  It was fun chatting with my teammates and friends about our races afterwards.  Justin set another PR and finished in the top 10.  Jeff almost broke 18 minutes.  I think Jay said his time was a PR.  I left to meet up with my family before I knew the team results.  I later learned that WTAC finished in first place!  Going in, I thought that we would be battling for 2nd place, so this was a big surprise.  See team results and pictures here

Finally, I had to include this picture my wife took of Jeff in gazelle mode: 

Weekly Log 2-6-12 to 2-12-12

Monday: 11 miles - Saunderstown hilly roads (6M) and Rome Point trails (5M) alone.  Another warm sunny winter day.  I drove by a very packed Rome lot and continued on to the park and ride.  I ran up the long steep hills of Cottrell, Plum Beach, and Plum Point roads.  I then cruised down to Rome Point, and entered the trails.  I bumped into two coworkers finishing up a run, and after a brief stop and chat, I continued on my way.  I randomly weaved through the single track of the park, enjoying the shelter from the wind.  I was happy that my legs were feeling good again, despite the 5K yesterday.  I exhausted my single track options and hopped back onto the road.  I was greeted with one final hill (up 1A) on the mile back to my car.  Total time: 1:21:29.  This run felt longer than 11. 

Tuesday: 5 miles - Calf Pasture Point roads, beach, and trails alone.  Surprise - warm again.  I was considering a zero, but my legs have a lot of life in them again after being tired the two previous weeks.  I didn't wear a watch, but I wanted to keep my pace moderate, so I made sure to pick it up at times.  I was happy I got the wind right on the beach, so I could enjoy the sights.  Nothing unusual, but plenty of activity.  I ran in the Reebok's again today - I'm trying to decide if I like them or not.  Approx. 36 minutes. 

Wednesday: 11 miles - Ryan Park trails with Tom.  We parked at the upper Oak Hill Rd lot and made our way down through the fields.  We then turned left and did the loop one and a half times, where he stopped, and I kept going.  Our pace was pretty decent throughout.  I finished off the second loop and then when I reached the railbed I ran about a mile at a pace that felt faster than my recent 5K.  I was monitoring my pace with my iphone, but the GPS technology is garbage, and my pace fluctuated anywhere between 5:40 and 6:40.  It felt close to the lower number.  I then ran easy around the pond before pushing another mile on the railbed.  This time the pace varied even more, but on a very straight open section it was reading 5:35.  I'll take it.  I then slowly made my way back to the car, finishing up in 1:18:54. 

Thursday: 13 miles - Charlestown Breakway to Deep Hole beach run with some roads mixed in around Matunuck.  I had the day off, and a chance to run while my daughter was at preschool.  I parked at the breachway and hoped to reach the west wall in Jerusalem in an hour and then run back (I had two hours to run).  I didn't check the tides until just before beginning, and knew that I was in for a struggle since the tide would be very high.  The sand from the breachway to Green Hill was very soft.  I was going slow, but it was tiring.  Luckily the weather was awesome.  I was able to race the waves around the first Green Hill rock pile, but I had to find a way around the next one.  Fortunately, there were easy off, easy on access points.  The beach in front of Trustom Pond was a mess of rather large smooth rocks/deep sand.  I trudged on.  I figured that I wouldn't be able to get by the Carpenter's Beach houses on the water, but as I neared Moonstone Beach Road, I decided to try it anyway.  Again, I was able to avoid getting wet.  The beach here was also more firm.  I reached the SK town beach and hopped off and then hit the pavement of Matunuck Road.  I was at 47 minutes, so running to the west wall was not going to happen.  Oh well.  I wanted to see the access from Matunuck onto East Matunuck beach, as I notice people walking from there in the summer.  I ran to where I thought it would be, but the roads to get there were advertised as private.  I then ran to the Deep Hole parking area to see if I could skirt the shoreline there, but it was blocked by a rock wall.  Maybe if the tide wasn't so high I could do it?  At this point I had been running for over 57 minutes, so I retraced my steps back to my car.  The NW wind was slightly in my face, so I was glad I had my little red hood to wear.  Running this many miles on the beach was exhausting.  I did have firmer sand to work with as the tide receded, but it took forever to reach landmarks I was chasing.  I finally made it back in 1 hour 53 minutes. 

Friday: 7 miles - Ryan Park trails alone.  My lower legs and feet felt tired from the beach run as expected.  I still had fun doing the field loop in both directions, plus adding on some other trails.  Eight deer on the trail near Rte 4.  No humans.  52 minutes. 

Saturday: 0

Sunday: 12 miles - Brrr-lingame 15K Trail Race - 9th 1:02:56, 9th overall.  Awesome race!  Separate write up soon. 

Weekly Total: 59 miles
Last Week: 50 miles
Year to Date: 322 miles

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Belleville Pond 10K Trail Race

This past Saturday, I ran the 3rd race in the new South County 4th Season Race Series.  The Belleville Pond 10K took place in Ryan Park, one of my favorite places to run.  I've run here hundreds of times over the past seven years, and felt confident about this race.  My dad and I arrived pretty early and I waited around for Boj and Justin to show up while I watched the parking lot fill up on this gorgeous day.  I was excited to see such a good turnout for a new trail race in RI.  It also was evident that there was going to be some stiff competition.  My plan was to run my own race - not get caught up in a fast start and going too fast on the flat fast sections trying to stay with faster road racers - and wait for the more technical trails of miles 3,4, and 6 to gain ground.  I ran a 2+ mile warm up with Boj and had tightness and soreness in my left calf.  He let me borrow his calf sleeve and I decided to race with it since it felt helpful and comfortable.  

At the start, I found myself up front, but trying to not overdo it.  I was breathing easy, but my calf was annoying me.  It never got worse, but never got loose either.  Once we hit the straight railbed, I was passed by a number of guys in various team garb - NRA, TNT, and FuelBelt.  I didn't let this bother me as I knew that I would meet up again with them on the single track.  At the 2 mile mark I checked my watch and was at 12:40.  This was the pace I was shooting for, but I knew the next couple of miles would be slower.  I passed the FuelBelt runner (Jay S) upon entering the power line and then shortly after the gnarly water crossing, I passed the 2 TNT runners and Aaron R (NRA).  My confidence was soaring as I felt I was pulling away from them, and actually I was now gaining on Boj, who looked like he was just cruising along.  Before hitting the powerline again, I could see Justin right on Glenn G's heels so I shouted out encouragement to him.  The trail spilled out onto an open field and I could hear footsteps close behind me again.  I knew we would soon be back on technical single track, so I let Aaron and the two TNT guys go by me, without trying to speed up.  I didn't make up any ground on the first section, and then felt terrible trudging through the thick sand on the motocross course.  The thought of doing tricks in the air off the jumps still crossed my mind - maybe I could win in points MarioKart style.  I pushed my favorite single track section pretty hard, but it was evident that everyone ahead of me was comfortable with this sort of terrain as well.  My splits for mile 3 and 4 were each about 6:50, if the math I was doing in my head while racing was correct.  Mile 5 was mostly back on the flat railbed and although my split was 5:55, I wasn't able to catch anyone in front of me (I got close to Boj who then took off after mile 5).  Mile 6 included some of my favorite single track in the park and I think I could literally run it blindfolded.  I just cruised through this section as fast as I could.  Once we got onto the field, I could see someone not too far behind me, so I switched gears and sprinted to the finish. 

My time was 41:16, 9th place overall.  Going into the race, I thought I could finish under 40 minutes, but it wasn't to be.  Unfortunately my team, WTAC, was missing a couple of key guys, and we finished in second, but seeing all the team jerseys out there, I was really happy with this.  It was fun hanging out afterwards and talking with other runners.  It's great to meet local people who run trails besides me, and to talk over everyone's experience that day on the course, which was well liked.  I tried to join Justin and Boj for an extended cooldown, but my calf was so tight and sore, that I bagged it after a mile or so, resorting to hiking at times.  I'm looking forward to race #4 in two weeks!