Monday, April 29, 2013

TARC Spring Classic 2013

This past Saturday I was looking for redemption at the 50K distance on trails after suffering at the Pisgah Mountain 50K two years ago. Mike Galoob had run the TARC Spring Classic last year, and talked me (and a few other locals) into running it this year. It promised to be a fast course (for trails) and nothing like the Pisgah race. I was very happy with my training coming into the race, and I even tapered to be full strength. I was confident I could finish within 4 hours.

The format of this race was five 10K loops. The start/finish area had a huge spread of food, beverage, volunteers, and spectators. There were a few races running at the same time: 10K, 1/2 marathon, marathon, 50K. I arrived with Mike and Seth about an hour early and we picked up our bibs and then met up with fellow WTACers Shira, Mark, and Mike C. It was a tad chilly, but the day promised to be sunny and warm (60's). I got in a short warm up just to avoid the long line at the port-a-potties. I was feeling fresh and calm. My plan was to check my time each lap, knowing that 48 minutes was the magic number to get to 4 hours. I decided to wear just my singlet, shorts, and a warm hat. I had a drop bag ready with a regular hat and a hand held with water and 1 gu. Before the start, I had already eaten half a pb&j sandwich with oj and black coffee at home, a egg & cheese bagel from D&D, and then wolfed down a banana, drank some Coke, and plenty of water at my car. I was fueled and ready!

At the start, I was briefly in a group of three behind the leader (Mike G). One of the guys (Eric) asked what we were hoping for today and we all were shooting for about the same thing. I recognized the other guy as Adam Wilcox, who I knew had run just over 4 hours the last two years. Eric soon left us to get up on Mike's shoulder. Adam and I chatted for the first mile or so. The pace seemed a little quick, and despite thoughts of staying with him, I decided to take it down a notch as my first mile split showed 7:01 on my watch. Looked like he was in for a good day. I was rather impatient the rest of the first lap, basically just wanting to get it out of the way. This made it seem really long. It was mostly flat with a couple of short steep sections, and then there was more technical stuff the last couple miles, including some thick mud. I was mostly running alone, but I had a silent stalker the second half of this first loop, and I was passing runners (the 10K race began 10-15 minutes ahead of the longer races). This aspect I enjoyed, as being lonely on the trail can be mentally defeating. I reached the start/finish area at the 45 minute mark (Strava has it as 45:21). I was ahead of the 48 minute target - a nice little cushion for later, but not too fast. The silent stalker jumped into a port-a-potty as I stopped quickly to grab my handheld, and I was just then greeted by fellow training partner Ben (aka Gunshow).

Ben and I ran the next two laps mostly together. It was awesome to have a friend out there to talk to. Going into the race, I thought that we might be running similar paces - he ran 4:16 here last year and was coming into this race in good shape. The pace was feeling a little fast for me during the second lap, and Ben said he was feeling good. I tripped about halfway through and fell hard on a large root. I land on the left side of my body and it hurt. I hoped I didn't damage anything, and after a few minutes, the pain subsided. No big deal, but not a good sign! Getting closer to the finish of lap 2, I ate the GU stashed in the pocket of my handheld, as I was feeling a bit hungry. This perked me up a bit as we finished lap two at the 1:33 minute mark. We were still 3 minutes ahead of the 4 hour pace. I had my handheld refilled with water and I grabbed a cookie. I had good energy for the duration of the third lap. Ben and I kept up our pace, but my legs were beginning to fatigue. Near the technical section of the loop, Ben said he was going ahead for a while. I don't know if I was slowing down, but he definitely was not. I finished lap three at 2:22. Still two minutes ahead of 4 hours, but my slowest lap yet.

At the aid station, I had my handheld refilled with Gatorade (or whatever) and grabbed three chocalate chip cookies. When I looked up ahead, I didn't see Ben anymore. My legs felt slightly rejuvenated, and I was still hopefull I could finish the race with a good time. I still wasn't seeing Ben on any of the long straightaways, and I wondered if he had to take a bathroom break at the start of the 4th lap and he was going to catch back up to me. Then after a mile or so, my legs really started to feel like garbage. It's a familiar pain I get on long hard trail runs. My legs and feet ached. I knew my pace was dropping, but more importantly my spirit was fading. If I was experiencing this pain with a few miles left, then I would just gut it out. But to deal with it for 10+ miles was not a battle I cared to fight. I guess I was running too fast for my body to maintain on this course, but to run it slower wouldn't feel like racing. I wasn't just trying to finish a 50K, I was trying to put up a time I'd be happy with. So, I made the decision to run out the 4th lap as best I could. No walking. Then I would quit at 40K. Running a fifth lap wasn't really debated. It would have been the walk/pity fest that happened to me at Pisgah, and I wasn't about to repeat that performance, and with the 5 lap format, I had an easy out. Perhaps this a drawback of a multiple loop race. I also decided on that 4th lap, that I wasn't going to do anymore long races (50K's or marathons). I don't find them fun. I'm not motivated to just finish one, I need to feel like I'm racing, and apparently my body doesn't hold up. I certainly train enough, and there's not any room for more training. Why not stick to races that I can run hard the entire time? That is appealing to me. I finished up the 4th lap, but it wasn't pretty. Any elevation gain was grueling, and the technical spots slowed me way down. My shoes almost got sucked off in the mud. I reached the clock and stopped my watch - it read 3:15:05 (53 minute 4th lap). 

I walked around to the aid station. I then saw Mike and his wife's friends lounging in the sun drinking beer. I said I was done. They tried to talk me into going back out there, but they looked like they were having a lot more fun. I was going to join them. I told the directors I was dropping out. They tried to talk me out of it. Sorry. I drank some Coke, but it took a while to have the desire to eat solid food. Mike's race also ended prematurely after 4 laps due to knee pain. Unlike me, he was well in the lead, and on his way to posting a fast time. We hoped that someone from our club would finish the entire race! Thanks Seth and Shira for seeing it through. Ben gutted out an impressive 4:04! It was a blast hanging out in the sun at the finish area - way better than running. Finally, it was time to head home. Thanks to TARC for putting on such a great event. It was well run and had a great vibe. Someday I'd like to run another one of their races, just not a long one! 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Weekly Log 4-22-13 to 4-28-13

Saturday is the the trail 50K (TARC Spring Classic).  I feel prepared and relatively calm.  The weather looks good.  I'm doing a decent job of tapering.  Should be a good race! 

Monday:  6 miles - Ryan Park trails alone.  This was kind of a blah run.  I don't want to run too many miles on my runs this week, which makes these short runs feel sort of pointless.  This was especially the case today when the sunny day turned cloudy, windy, and kind of raw just before I headed out to run.  I stuck to the west side trails again, but this format is losing its luster.  I saw the same guy running as last week, and he still looks fast and unfamiliar.  Total time: 48:43. 

Tuesday: 7.5 miles - SK trails around the bike path with Galoob and Gunshow.  I was anticipating a zero today since the weather was so miserable.  I even took a page out of the FiveK/Boj/Seth book and did 100 pushups in the morning before work just for some sort of exercise.  Mike contacted me later in the morning about doing an easy run.  I wouldn't run alone today, but with a group I was happy to.  I met them at the Rte 108 Tri-Pond Park lot.  We ran some trails on both sides of the bike path and also in Potter Woods off of South Road.  It was good to catch up and talk about the upcoming 50K the three of us are all doing.  Total time: 1:01:25. 

Wednesday: 6.5 miles - DuVal trail(s) alone.  I had to leave work early to get the kids off the bus, and decided to turn it into a full half day of work.  That meant shoe shopping and a run.  I picked up yet another pair of Nike Free's since I put hundreds and hundreds of miles on them.  I "tested" them out by running at DuVal - a super fun place I hadn't run in for a couple of months.  No specific bear or mtn lion warnings on the bulletin board, rather just a vague "you may encounter hazards on this trail" sign.  Noted.  I purposely ran under control, especially on the numerous hills.  The weather was nice, and there was a coolish sea breeze keeping me from being really sweaty.  The ocean view from the lookout was fantastic today.  I passed a fellow unfamiliar runner.  I didn't encounter any hazards.  I didn't overdue it.  Fun run!  Total time: 51:58. 

Thursday: 0 - hike in the Queens River Preserve.  Highlights include brook trout(?)  visible from bridge, blue gray gnatcatcher, pine warbler, and great crested flycatchers. 

Friday: 0 - hike Cuttyhunk Preserve. 

Saturday: TARC Spring Classic (trail 50K) - 40K in 3:15. Quit after a miserable 4th lap (of 5) of leg pain. Separate (quite possibly lengthy and rambling) write up to follow on Monday.

Sunday: 0 - Red Sox game with my son.

Weekly Total: 45 miles
Last Week: 50 miles
Year to Date: 955 miles

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Weekly Log 4-15-13 to 4-21-13

With the TARC 50K coming up on 4/27, the hay is in the barn, and I'm really just going to run whatever I feel like doing on any given day.  This is school vacation week for my family, so running time may be short anyway.  I'd like to publicly wish my dad a happy birthday on Thursday - time to dominate a new age group! 

Monday: 9 miles - North Kingstown roads and bike path alone.  I wasn't feeling the effects of my track work the day before, and watching the marathon on my computer in the morning had me actually looking forward to running some roads.  I waited until Jeff's final time was posted before heading out (way to go Gazelle!).  I parked at the bike path, but mostly I was running a familiar loop of roads in the Quidnessett/Potowomut neighborhoods.  The sun was out and I felt comfortable in just shorts and a t-shirt.  I made sure to not look at my watch, but my pace felt quick and easy.  I did pick it up on the final mile +, but it was more to get out of the headwind and finish.  I was pleased to see my overall pace since I was running at a normal effort.  Total time: 1:00:02. 

Tuesday:  0 - busy day at work and I had to run an errand on my break.  I still considered getting in a short run, but it didn't seem worth it.  My legs (now sore) could use a break, and I don't need to chase miles this week. 

Wednesday: 6 miles - CHS early morning track workout alone.  After not running yesterday, and having a busy day working at the office and home, I decided I would get up early and hit the track since school is out this week.  I was looking for short intervals and figured 12x200 with full rest would be fun and not too taxing.  The weather was warm and a bit muggy when I began at 6AM.  After a two mile warm up,  I began the 200's.  They were great - my form seemed good and I felt fast again.  I was worried that I was running them too hard, and I was prepared to cut down on the reps if I needed to - no need to injure myself now.  I debated splitting up the workout with a couple of slow laps in the middle, but I was able to continue and finish as originally planned.  I even mustered up my fastest split on the final 200.  This was an exciting and encouraging workout! 

Results: 34.7/36.0/34.8/35.2/34.4/34.5/35.0/35.0/34.4/34.0/34.5/33.5  Total time: 42:15

         7 miles - Ryan Park trails alone.  This was a nice easy cruise in the sunny 70 degree weather.  I was going to run shirtless, but it felt a bit breezy, so I put a shirt on before heading out.  By the time I was on the powerline with the wind at my back, I was sweating up a storm so off went the shirt again.  I was able to wind around the west side trails, feeling good the first 4 or 5 miles.  My legs were beginning to hurt the last two (thanks to the morning's workout).  I saw another guy out running the trails.  He looked pretty fast, but he skipped the steep hill on the Rte 4 trail.  That's a sin in my book.  Total time: 56:14. 

Thursday: 3 miles - 9xhome trail loops alone.  This was the start of a short vacation and I snuck this run in before breakfast.  Legs are tired from the track, but these tight twisty trail loops are excellent conditioning for trail racing.  Chilly, but bright sun on top of the ledge.  Total time: 22:42.  Drove to NH with a stop in Worcester at the Ecotarium. 

Wind tunnel

Friday: 6 miles - Stoddard, NH dirt roads alone.  A quick cruise around the hilly roads near my parents' house.  Still some snow in spots, but it is definitely mud season up there.  Total time: 44:48. 

Saturday:  7 miles - Stoddard, NH dirt roads with my wife (4 miles) and then some trail exploration by myself.  We tackled a good size hill to start and then ran along the flatter lakeside road.  After 42 minutes, I continued on up the hill and found a wide trail (old road?) that continued to climb.  It was really wet and squishy, but the sun was out, and I was enjoying myself - not worrying about the animals I may encounter in this wilderness.  I ran until the trail began descending and was getting pretty hard to follow.  When I got back to the house, I was told I just missed a huge black bear in the yard.  Yikes!  Total time: 1:09. 

After lunch, we headed home, but stopped at the nearby Harris Center for a hike first. 

Sunday: 12 miles - 2 x Burlingame Campground trail loops alone.  I parked at the picnic area and ran towards the campground.  I then jumped onto the NWR trails that connect to the campground single track.  I was moving pretty fast, not that I could tell from GPS.  It was chilly so I wore gloves and a hat - something I didn't plan on having to do anymore.  I maintained my pace on both laps - about 5.5 miles (5.05 on GPS).  Total time:  1:28:49.  Fun run!  Later in the day, my family joined my in-laws in cleaning up the trails and parking areas around Browning Mill Pond.  This was part of a large clean up project by the Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Assn, and we were the only people signed up for this spot.  I have to say it was really fun and kind of addictive searching for hard to notice garbage (mostly beer cans and fishing line/equipment).  The kids did a great job, and it made me wish I had done something like this before. 

Overall: a fun little week.  Next week is TARC! 

Weekly Total: 50 miles
Last Week: 56 miles
Year to Date: 910 miles

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Weekly Log 4-8-13 to 4-14-13

Began this week with completely trashed legs from Saturday's long run coupled with the other high intensity workouts I did last week.  Less than three weeks out from the trail 50K, but I'm not ready to taper yet - although I need to get my legs back to do anything hard.  No real goals except to shoot for 60 miles I guess. 

This week's music comes from Rancid's B Sides and C sides album.  All sorts of song styles represented here.  This is one of the more catchy tunes and includes a signature Matty Freeman bass line:

Monday: 8 miles - Ryan Park trails alone.  I was feeling more beat today, two days after the long trail run.  The weather was nice, so I needed to do something.  I parked at the high lot on Oak Hill Rd, and ran up and down the trails on the west side of the park.  My legs perked up after about 10 minutes.  I then made the decision to run down the railbed and run a few more trails.  Instead of backtracking, I ran the mile back on the road to my car.  Total time: 1:04:54. 

Tuesday: 9+ miles - Narragansett roads, trails, and beach with Galoob and Nate.  I met Mike at the Commons on this summer-like day - 80 degrees!  We ran down Rte 1, crossed at the light, and then took some backroads and sketchy paths over to the Canonchet Farm Trail where we met up with Nate.  We then ran the trail to Narragansett Town Beach.  My legs felt a little better than yesterday and the pace felt a little peppy.  It was a little cooler at the beach and windy, but still warm enough to be full of college kids.  We ran down to the river mouth and back before heading back on the trail.  The roads back included a pretty good hill.  It's strange to sweat during a run.  Legs feeling good now.  Total time: 1:11:51. 

Wednesday: 9.5 miles - Big River trails solo.  Another nice day (high 60's - sun and clouds).  I decided to head up to Big River for some trail intervals.  I parked at the place affectionately called Greasy Joe's by mtn bikers.  I picked a fun loop, but I didn't plan the Strava intervals very well as the two on my course were back to back with no break.  So, basically I was doing a 4 mile warm up, 3 mile interval, 2.5 mile cool down.  My pace felt good from the start, but nowhere near my pace during the half marathon.  I followed the course for 1.5 miles before taking the trail by the old chimney and then running the ridge south from there.  I wound my way back north and west until meeting back up with the half marathon course near the 7 mile mark.  I felt hot running rather hard in the warm conditions, and wasn't sure how the speed portion coming up would go.  I reached the short steep hill where Bob surged past me during the race, and was determined to run fast once I hit Dead Shed.  I felt like I was running faster than my race effort on this trail.  I felt a little out of control, but I was having a blast.  I reached the New London Turnpike and then began the next Strava section called Twisty Fun.  I was definitely tiring by this point.  GPS gets really slow in here, so I had no idea how I was doing.  I finally reached the end on a dirt road, and then took it easier the rest of the way.  Overall, this was a great loop, and a fun workout.  Total time: 1:13:24. 

Thursday: 8 miles - Rome Point mostly trails alone.  No motivation today, but with tomorrow looking like a washout, I finally ended up running.  And it was fun.  I parked at Rome Point and ran the direct way down to the point.  I then ran the shoreline to the edge of the park and began zigzagging my way up the hill.  After 5 miles, I headed to the yellow dot loop for a fastish 1 mile interval (with a hill).  I began steady and increased my pace as I went along - a novel concept for me.  I really was flying up the hill and clocked in a PR tying 6:05.  I then slowed it down and ran trails out to Terre Mar Drive, where I came across a group of NK runners heading to Rome.  I finished up on Rte 1A, and was happy when GPS found me again, and I realized I my pace was in the 6:30's.  Total time:  58:52. 

Friday:  0 - Mike and I cancelled our midday run due to the pouring rain and gusty wind. 

Saturday: 13 miles - Arcadia trails with Rhody Seth.  We met up at 6AM at the John B. Hudson lot on Rte 165.  Usually my drive in the dark (out the door at 5:15AM) is lonely, but today was opening day for fishing, and the roads were packed and any place with water I passed was a zoo.  I worried my D&D breakfast might be in jeopardy due to long lines, but no one was in there.  Seth's plan was to run a loop of Mt Tom and Breakheart trails clockwise.  After the light improved and we warmed up, the pace got rather snappy.  We maintained a nice effort for the duration.  The hills felt good - I especially enjoy the climb up Penny Hill (it gets steeper as you go).  This is a great loop.  Good fun.  Total time: 1:43:32. 

     .5 miles - PM walk/run on the bike path with family and friends.  My kids were on scooters and this required a few sustained sprints to keep up.  I need to cancel out the .5 earlier in the week anyway. 

Sunday: 8 miles - CHS track alone.  Two words:  Aussie Quarters.  Loved the idea of this workout after I noticed someone doing them on Strava and then reading about them online.  The formula I was using was 8x400 (six to eight seconds faster per mile pace than race 5K pace) with 200 "recoveries" at 1 minute plus 5K pace.  Playing around with the numbers I decided I would shoot for 80 seconds per 400 (2 seconds faster than goal 5K 400 time) and 48 seconds recovery (6:30 pace).  What's cool about this workout is that if you start with a 200 "recovery" you get an even 5K for the total workout.  So, I've been excited about trying it, and finally had the ability to head to my local track on Sunday morning after breakfast to give it a whirl.  My legs as usual had some fatigue in them, but the weather was fantastic - high 40's, sunny, light breeze.  I ran a two mile warm up (14:11).  I then stretched and prepared myself mentally for the task at hand.  My first 400 was too slow - my watch measures the track wrong so my actual pace is slower than what the watch is showing.  I did get into a good rhythm, especially after getting three 400's under my belt.  Doing the entire workout felt daunting, but it felt awesome to complete it, especially being out there by myself.  Results: 

45/85/50/81/48/81/47/82/48/81/48/80/79/49/78/43 = 17:58

It was hard to run the 400's as fast as I wanted, but considering my PR 5K pace is really 5:38, I technically was on track.  The workout is really fun and challenging.  And it's cool to see what the total time (5K) comes out to be.  I then ran a 3 mile cool down (staying on the track).  I was running rather fast (20:07 total time), probably just anxious to finish running in circles. 

Overall:  Decent week.  Getting close to the TARC 50K now. 

Weekly Total: 56 miles
Last Week: 70 miles
Year to Date: 860 miles

Monday, April 8, 2013

WTAC Clamdigger Article

I just found this article online about yesterday's Clamdigger.  Best part is this quote from FiveK: 

“I love the 5K — it’s my favorite,” Bousquet said. 

Congrats to team WTAC!! 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Weekly Log 4-1-13 to 4-7-13

Feeling good post Big River race.  I'd been hemming and hawing about which race to do this Sunday, and then I realized that I'm only three weeks away from the TARC Trail 50K.  Better get a long run in!  My new plan is to try to run 3.5 hours in Burlingame early on Saturday, and then maybe race Sunday, depending on the family schedule.  On a music note, I dug up an old Face to Face CD to listen to on my way to the Big River race, and can't stop listening to it.   

Monday:  9 miles - Ryan Park trails solo.  Legs not sore, but a little flat.  I found a new trail between the field and powerlines which was really fun.  I thought about just staying on this side of the park, but did wander over to the other side, where I found another short new trail.  I finished up by doing the Rte 4 Strava loop at a decent pace.  Total time: 1:06:45. 

Tuesday: 6 miles - Old Mountain Field 13x150 sprints with surrounding trails wu/cd with Galoob, Gunshow, and Mark.  We met up for a 1PM workout.  The weather was rather blustery and cold.  We ran some trails for about two miles before embarking on the speedwork.  We sprinted the length of a baseball field, but ended by running up a short steep embankment at the end.  We then ran back and continued, not allowing for much recovery.  I liked this style of workout - short intervals and fast recoveries.  My pace for these generally got quicker and ranged between 4:26 - 5:00 per mile.  Short trail cooldown after as no one was feeling that excited about running more. 

Wednesday: 8.5 miles - Rome Point trails and beach alone.  I decided to give this place a shot after losing interest during the busy winter season.  There were only a couple of cars in the lot (good sign) and the sun felt warm in the woods.  I decided to make a segment out of the yellow dot loop trail.  I don't usually run the entire loop in one shot - just pieces at a time.  I decided to run the loop twice and at a peppy pace to set a good baseline.  On the first one, I reached a spot that has a huge fallen oak tree, and a side trail to get around it that includes a large stonewall.  I ran along the wall and then decided to jump on top of it (waist high).  My right foot planted on a large flat stone that slid, and I ended up smashing my left ankle/shin into the wall.  Ouch!  It really hurt.  I limped on up the hill and finished the 1 mile loop.  I thought about quitting, but decided it wasn't bleeding that bad, so I ran on.  I ran some more trails and then ran the beach.  It was rather windy, so I knew when it felt nice heading south, that I would be cursing the decision on the way back.  I ran more trails and then attempted the yellow dot loop again, this time without hurting myself.  My time was 6:05 - it feels like a mile although GPS reads .9 miles.  When I got back to my car I realized that my shin was swollen and kind of gross.  Total time: 1:05:32. 

Thursday: 10.5 miles - Quonset Bike Path (and beach) progression run alone.  My plan was to run steady out and around the point, and then turning it up on the bike path for about 6 miles.  My first mile was rather speedy, so I tried to go fast on the trail and beach to keep the pace up (almost impossible on thick sand).  I was doing fine until I almost got knocked over by a large wet dog.  It was playing in the water, spied me, and then ran right into me.  I tried to not curse until I was out of earshot of the owner.  My pace suffered the rest of the beach stretch, but I was able to pick it up back on pavement.  Heading west, I was fighting a decent headwind, but my splits were still good.  My goal was to be in the high 5's on the way back, and I knew the wind would help me along if I could keep it up.  I was on target as I returned, but fading as I finished 8 miles.  I wasn't back to my car, so I tried for one more mile.  It wasn't my fastest, but close enough.  This turned into a nice progression run.  Splits: 6:51/6:50 (trail/beach)/7:06(beach)/6:24/6:13/6:11/5:55/5:48/5:50.  I then did a 1.5 mile cool down.  This was a good workout. 

Friday: 9 miles - Ryan Park trails with Mike G.  A potentially rainy day that turned out awesome by the time I met up with Mike for our run.  We wandered around the usual trails, spending alot of time on the more interesting west side stuff.  My legs are definitely tired and I hope I can complete my planned run tomorrow.  Fun running in the sun and good conversation.  Total time: 1:08:29.  There was as Turtle sighting on the root trail....

Saturday: 27+ miles - Burlingame trails (6 miles roads) alone in the early AM.  I was able to execute the early morning solo start and get out the door at 5:30AM.  My plan was to run roads down to the campground entrance since it would be dark, and then run about every trail in Burlingame.  I carried a small pack for a mile and then dumped it in the woods at a lightly used trailhead.  This would be my aid station.  I tried to dial back my pace on the roads, but it was too dark to see my watch, so I had no idea what I was doing.  Right away, I could feel fatigue and tightness in my legs, thanks to a week of intense workouts.  This long run was going to be interesting.  After about two miles, there was significantly more light.   I thought about jumping on the Vin Gormley Trail, but stayed the course on Buckeye Brook Road.  After the mile uphill, it was a gradual decline on Klondike Road.  After almost 6 miles, I reached the North South Trail at the campground entrance.  I ran it north and then began running the Brrr-lingame course backward.  I startled about 10 deer in this section.  I continued on the trail that enters the NWR and then connected back with the VG Trail at Sanctuary Road.  I then followed the yellow dots CW for the next 4+ miles.  I worried about my legs early on, but eventually forgot about them.  I reached my backback at about 15 miles and 1:55 of running.  I wasn't hungy or thirsty, but I drank some Coke (ignored my water) and ate a small leftover Easter chocolate bar.  I then headed off on Sammy C's.  I was surprised to see another runner (the only person I saw all morning) here.  She had three unleashed dogs (large poodles), with one rather growly and aggressive.  She said "he's just a puppy." Oh, okay, what does that mean?  I continued on, and made the mistake of checking my watch.  I was getting angry at the GPS pace (nothing new for me!).  At least it kept my mind busy.  I reached Vin Gormley again, and then headed CCW until taking Schoolhouse Pond Trail.  I then jumped onto the secret trail, really cursing my watch, but the trail is slow going thanks to the insane person(s) who made it.  I realized that I missed the middle section, but I was beginning to get hungry at this point.  I reconnected with VG, and then headed south to do the old north camp loop.  GPS pace was looking better, but I really needed more fuel.  The long climb back up the dirt/sand road was torture.  I took the side trail back to my backback, reaching it at the 3:01 mark (I forget what the mileage was).  This time I ate my peanut butter granola bar, more chocolate and then drank the rest (2/3) of the Coke.  My legs, tired the entire time, were beginning to get worse.  I was going to stick with my pre-planned route anyway.  I ran the governor's trail to the old dirt roads of north Burlingame.  I looped around to the white dot River Trail.  I was dreading the climb up from the canoe camps, and it didn't disappoint.  Miserable.  Endless.  I then took the North South Trail north to Burdickville Road.  Another smaller but steeper hill, with plenty of loose rocks.  By the time I reached the road, and the last climb, adrenaline kicked in, and I finished on the strong side.  Total time: 3:40:24.  GPS mileage - 25.9 (8:31 pace), but 27+ seems more accurate, especially looking at my pace on the roads.  Overall, this was great confidence booster for the TARC 50K in three weeks - especially considering how tired my legs were going into today and how I plan to really taper for the race. 

Sunday: 0 - I ended up not racing the Chariho 5K.  My legs need a break, and racing seemed like an injury risk.  Instead, I loosened up the legs on a hike with the kids through the Hopkinton Grills Preserve.  Fun spot - soft dry trails through interesting forest and along the Pawcatuck River.  Later, I watched the kids and cheered on my wife running the Chariho 5K.  Topped the day off with the always delicious El Fuego/Brickley's Ice Cream combo in downtown Wakefield. 

The only map you'll find on the internet for this place

somewhere on Cedar Swamp Trail

Kicking it to the finish line

Weekly Total: 70 miles
Last Week: 56 miles
Year to Date: 804 miles

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Big River Trail Half Marathon

I had been excited about this race ever since race director Mike Galoob got the approvals to host a race in Big River.  The race would be held in the area of this expansive park that I am most familiar with.  The terrain is quite varied, and Mike's course took advantage of it all.  The first half would feature more technical trails - lots of rocks, short steep hills (with one long climb), awkward water crossings, among other obstacles.  The second half included easier footing and less hills, but the trails are full of twists and turns.  Besides regularly running most of these trails, I became even more familiar with the course when I helped plot it out with Mike and then later mark it. 

I had high aspirations for this race, thinking that it catered to my running strengths (distance, trails, hills).  I had finished behind Bob Jackman in the last two trail series races, and I wanted to try my hardest to reverse the trend.  This may not have been realistic considering what a talented and accomplished runner he is, but I was excited to try.  My plan was to go out hard, attack the challenging sections, and then maintain my effort for the duration.  I figured that if I could separate myself from Bob on the first half, I would have a shot at beating him.  Otherwise, his speed on the smoother trails would be too much.  I wasn't sure who else would be in contention as some of my speedy WTAC teammates were either injured/coming back from injury/or using the race as a training run, and I believed the same could be said for the TNT guys.  I wasn't aware of any speedy out-of-staters who had pre-registered.  I had my plan. 

The weather was spectacular on race day.  Bright sun, with temperatures climbing to almost 60 degrees.  I almost felt overdressed in shorts and a singlet.  I made sure to hydrate more than usual, and my body and mind were feeling good pre-race.  It looked like a huge post-registration turnout.  Lots of familiar faces, including more WTAC teammates than I expected.  Besides the Turtles, there were two fast guys in orange jerseys  - Steve Brightman and another unknown runner.  I headed out on the Lego Trail for a short warm up, that also included the road section to/from the parking lot.  I then chatted with teammates until the race was ready to begin. 

At the siren, I took off down the wide dirt road (New London Turnpike).  I was in front, but I had plenty of company.  I made the sharp right turn onto the first single track trail.  Known as Foster's Folly, I have run this fun trail many times, but never this fast!  Rocks and turns came up much more quickly than I remembered.  The trail is so twisty and narrow, it was hard to stay on it at times.  After passing the giant teeter-totter, the trail slowly climbs for some time.  On a sharp corner, I caught a glimpse of who was behind me - the unknown orange jersey guy and Bob.  Once the trail leveled off, I thought orange might pass me as he was right on my heels.  I was still moving fast, but tried to control myself a bit, as it was going to be a long race.  I took the turn onto the Spider Trail (again another one I know well).  I made a hard left turn where I thought the trail was, but I was wrong!  I hadn't been paying attention to the flags, since I knew where the course went.  The three of us had to turn around, allowing Dave Principe (TNT) to take the lead until we caught back up.  Soon after, Bob took a bad spill in a muddy section.  I continued to lead onto the wider trail with the water tower at the top.  Dave soon past by me on the ensuing downhill.  He told me pre-race that he was just using the race as a training run, so we joked about that when he went by.  Bob eventually caught up to us, but I stopped hearing orange. 

I retook the lead at the half marathon/10K split as Dave dropped back to run with his son, and Bob settled in a step behind me.  Even though we were racing, we still occasionally talked and joked.  I knew at this point that he probably would make a move once we got to the trails he ran often, but was content to have me lead until then.  My only hope was to get separation on the big hill up to the Hopkins Hill Rd lot (water stop).  I climbed well without overdoing it, but Bob was not letting me get away.  We then passed an injured Justin snapping pictures. 

The course then veered back down the hill.  Bob went by me and quickly ran down the hill.  I wasn't sure if he was making a move, or if I was just descending slowly (not one of my strengths!).  I caught up to him when he fell hard on his hands through a rocky section a minute or two later.  We navigated the two tricky stream crossings, up the steep hill near the party rocks, and then over then next wet section.  This part of the course was no joke!  I took over the lead again on yet another short steep climb.  We were now on the top of the ridge between Carr and Tarbox Ponds - more rock running and trail craziness to deal with.  Bob had yet another fall - it sounded bad behind me, but he assured me it wasn't a big deal.  We then descended the ridge to the north side of Tarbox Pond.  The relief was only temporary as we then had to climb again.

Soon, we reached smoother and easier trails.  I was still moving well and feeling "good".  We returned to the edge of Tarbox Pond and then reached the short steep hill at the second water stop (just after the 8 mile mark).  Justin was there taking pictures and telling us we were only 25 seconds behind Tom and Jeff (my WTAC teammates) and a third guy.  It was at this moment that Bob exploded up the hill.  This was definitely an aggressive move!  It was too late to switch gears on the hill, but I did pick up my pace once on flat ground. 

Bob had gapped me as we ran the trail affectionately named Dead Shed.  He was in my sights, but when I didn't catch him on the only hill, I knew that might be it.  I kept up my strong pace, but fatigue was about to set in.  The course crosses the New London Turnpike and continues on another interesting single track.  I could now see other runners ahead of me besides Bob - it was Jeff, Tom, and Eric W.  I passed Eric by the vacuum cleaner, but it took me another half mile to catch up to my teammates.  They let me go in front, but at this point my legs were losing steam, and they seemed to be running faster than me.  They told me they missed a mile or so of the course, but were in high spirits as it was an awesome day to be running in the woods and they didn't plan on running all out today.  They either sensed or I vocalized that I was struggling, and they stuck with me the rest of the way (final 2+ miles).  They encouraged me to keep it up and looked out for anyone gaining ground from behind (Dave P the last mile).  The footing was easy enough on the final miles, but the twists and turns were outrageous on tired legs.  I was so relieved when we reached the New London Turnpike, and I mustered up a short sprint to the finish line.


My time was 1:32:26 - a little over a minute behind Bob.  I wish the gap was a little closer, but I can't complain with my race.  It was a blast!  I wandered over to the food table and then found the cooler with the cold Coke's.  I drank two with two cookies and two slices of pizza.  There were a lot of runners milling around with the 10K race and lost half marathon finishers, all with huge smiles on their faces and stories to tell about their individual adventures in Big River.  I always love the vibe at trail races.  As a bonus, I ended up finishing 2nd overall in the 5 race trail series, something I wouldn't have dreamed of back in December.  Thanks to the Galoobs for hosting another incredible series.