I'm already in nervous/anxious mode less than two weeks away from the Nipmuck Trail Marathon. I'm not really sure what to expect. How will my legs hold up? What time to shoot for? I've thought of a couple of goals, but they seem rather arbitrary: my 40K time at the TARC Spring Classic, comparing results of other runners, calculating average pace, etc. I'm also not sure how to run the race: stay with certain runners with known track records at Nipmuck, go conservative, go relatively hard and try to maintain? We'll see what happens soon enough.
Monday: 10 miles - Big River trails alone. The weather was really nice and it was very quiet in the office. I decided to try my luck on a few Strava segments and get a decent trail workout in. I made up my course as I went along, continually changing my mind. I began at Greasy Joe's and worked my way down Foster's Folly and Spider at a decent clip. I then had the urge to run the ridge trails so I took the double track back up to the chimney and ran south from there. I ended up following a faint trail off the ridge and eventually met up with a wider trail that I recognized. I stayed on it until I reached the beaver dam, and carefully made my way across. I was now near where I wanted to be: the blue arrow trail. This new trail is a mile plus of ups and downs and hairpin turns. It's also narrow and overgrown with small pines so it's hard to anticipate what is coming. I ran it on a steamy hot day a couple of weeks ago and put up a pedestrian time I wasn't happy with. I first ran the trail in reverse and completed it in 8:19, which was as a CR. But the faster times are posted in the other direction. After a 2/3 mile recovery, I ran it again in the more popular direction. I felt winded and slower, but ended up posting a 7:30 and another CR. I recovered and ran very slowly until reaching one more segment - the very flat and straight Pump Trail. I think of it as a trail 600 meters. I sprinted this section and beat my CR by quite a bit, finishing in 1:45 (since bested by Bob Jackman later in the week). I finished off the run on the New London Turnpike which included a not so graceful fall (stepped in a small hole). A nice afternoon run in the woods.
At night I ran alot with my kids around the house and yard. Lots of short sprints that added to my soreness the next day.
Tuesday: 8 miles - Big River trails alone. I was in a funk and didn't feel like running. I ended up driving to the Hopkins Hill Rd lot and thought I would give it a go. I didn't enjoy this run until I was a few miles in. The weather was perfect otherwise I wouldn't have done it. I took a familiar route around Carr Pond and then connected over to Tarbox Pond. I even gave the beaver dam segment a go. I had some awkward steps, got my feet wet, and didn't run my best time. I'm not sure how Bob and Scott run it 10 seconds faster.
More sprinting with my kids around the house at night. My legs are toast.
Wednesday: 10 miles - half Ryan Park trails, half NK roads alone. Another low motivation day, but I need to be outside in this weather. I ran the techy stuff on the west side of Ryan, trying to enjoy the cool air and fall colors in the fields, and ignoring my dead legs. Once I finished zigzagging, I decided to run up Hatchery Road to Rte 2 and turn around. The roads felt very easy on my legs. I finished by running another mile through Ryan back to my car.
Thursday: 15 miles on two runs. 9 miles - CCMS track with Nate, Chris, and Mike. It was very dark at the track when I began warming up at 5:45AM. Slowly other shadowy figures would emerge and join me. The plan was to do a workout I saw on Strava yesterday. Ryan D had done a 2x800/2xmile/2x800 workout (400 recoveries) that looked challenging, but fun. I wasn't sure if it was too much distance for the other guys, but we agreed to at least make an attempt. My plan was to run goal 5K pace or slightly faster. That meant using a tidy 80 seconds per lap as my guide. Chris stuck with me on the first 800's before getting antsy to join Mike on the miles. We ended up finishing the complete workout. After completing the miles, 2 more 800's seemed easy. Results: 2:37/2:38/5:21/5:24/2:37/2:35. Boom! Felt good even with beat up legs. I wish I ran the miles a tad faster, but really can't complain. The final 800's felt good. Great day with a great group at the track.
6 miles - Quonset roads and bike path alone in the afternoon. It wasn't as warm as forecasted (overcast and breezy from the NE). I decided to run a loop or two at Calf Pasture Point, but when I reached the beach the tide was high and the tidal stream was unjumpable. I was too lazy to take off my shoes to wade through so I turned around and ran a loop of roads. The route is pleasant enough if you can ignore the cars.
Friday: 7+ miles - Big River trails alone. I couldn't help getting sucked into a Strava battle over the Blue Arrow trail segment. Bob Jackman took the CR from me on Thursday night and despite everything telling me to take it easy today, I ended up trying to get my record back. I ran very conservatively for 30 or so minutes, mixing up the normal routine by exploring different trails at times. I then reached the open area before the segment. I briefly stopped, shook out my legs and made one last attempt to talk myself into not doing it. I had to at least try. I ditched my shirt and took off. After 30 seconds I was winded and thought about quitting. I already had fatigued legs and now my breathing was off. I continued on not sure how I was doing. When I finished, it appeared that I was 10 seconds faster than earlier in the week, which would mean a 5 second CR, but you never know with GPS. I jogged back to my car, exploring a fun side trail that parallels the New London Turnpike. I will definitely add it to my routine. I uploaded my data and Strava announced that I had set a new CR. However, my time was exactly the same as Bob's, so we are now tied. I would like to call a truce, but somehow I know this will be continued.
Saturday: 9 miles - Carter Preserve trails with Jeff, Mike B, Nate, Seth, and Muddy. Good sized morning trail crew on a rather chilly morning. The plan was just a fun run on fun trails and maybe a fast lap around the field. Everyone was game, so that's what we did. Somehow I set my PR on this mile (5:24), despite very heavy legs. It was great to get these group runs started again.
Sunday: 5+ miles - Burlingame loop solo in the mid afternoon. A lazy day for the most part. My son and I did an easy hike in the Hopkinton Grills Preserve looking to connect to the silver blazed hilly trail, but there still is no unnamed bridge crossing Tomaquag Brook yet and it looked too muddy and overgrown to try and cross on our own. We made the best of our hike though. After a nap and a cup of coffee, I had time for a short run. The weather was perfect, and if I had the time, I would have run forever. I kept to my planned route though. At one point I could hear mtn bikers approaching. They were talking about the Secret Trail and quickly hushed up when they saw me. The first rule of the secret trail....
Overall: Is this tapering? A fun week of running. I pushed quite a few trail segments and also had a good workout on the track. The plan is all easy short runs leading up to Sunday's Nipmuck Trail Marathon.
Weekly Total: 64 miles
Last Week: 72 miles
Year to Date: 2413 miles