Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Recap of Recent Local 5K's

I was able to race two local 5K's the past two Sundays: Westerly Run for the Pumpkins and Charlestown FOP (aka Halloween Hot Pursuit).  These races couldn't be more different as far as course layout goes, but there were plenty of familiar faces at both. 

First off was the Westerly Run for the Pumpkins 5K (results here).  I won this race two years ago (huge surprise to me) and was second last year.  This year looked like at best another runner up finish since fellow teammate and training partner Chris Garvin was registered to run.  I wasn't sure if last year's winner (David Holgate) would be back to defend his title as well.  And what about Tommy FiveK? 

Because of busy family plans, I wasn't sure I could even do this race until a couple of days beforehand.  The morning of the race I was getting pumped up and had talked myself into the possibility of overtaking Garvin and the rest of the field on the steep hill during mile 2 and holding on for the win.  Chris had raced on Friday afternoon.  David had just beat me at the end of the Run4Kerri race this past August and 15 seconds at this race last year.  Surely I would be faster this year. 

I headed to the race with my family and met up with fellow WTAC'ers.  A few of us headed out for a warm up on the course, and it was as twisty and hilly as I had remembered.  The big climb is 98' and steep in spots and is totally out of character for a 5K road race (or pretty much any road race).  We were running out of time to do the entire course and I briefly panicked that I would get us lost trying to navigate the labyrinth of neighborhood roads back to the start.  We figured it out and had just a few minutes to spare. 

I lined up with Chris, Jeff, and many other WTAC teammates (great club turnout for this dual directed race, unfortunately not as many from the schools as previous two years).  My plan was to run the first mile fast (5:20), crank the hill, and then see what happens.  The weather was sunny, seasonable, and a bit windy.  I was ready to roll. 

I followed closely behind Chris for the first 1/4 mile out of the park and into the neighborhood.  He then pulled away and I couldn't match his speed.  The wind was annoying the first mile and I was disappointed with my split (5:29).  Chris's lead steadily grew and I knew that Jeff was probably lurking on the steep descent leading to the climb.  My attitude was sort of bad at this point.  I ran the hill pretty hard.  Whatever ground I made up on Chris wasn't significant enough to make a difference and I still had a bad attitude.  I tried to keep pushing especially since Jeff wasn't too far behind the last time I checked.  Mile 2 was 6:00.  Ugh!  Was I even going to match my time from last year (18:00)?  I pressed on the best I could.  My watch was showing a faster pace during the third mile.  This helped my mind.  I could still see Chris far in front of me, but he wasn't increasing his lead anymore.  Finally, the course leveled off and then dropped back to the park (mile 3 split 5:41).  I glanced at my watch and knew I was going to be sub 18.  I sprinted through the shoot (4:43 pace for final .1) in 17:45.  15 seconds faster than last year (and equaled David's winning time).  Chris unbelievably snuck in under 17 minutes in 16:59.  That's very fast for this slow course.  Jeff also PR'd.  The post race gathering was warm and fun as usual. 

Next up was the Charlestown FOP race in Ninigret Park (results here).  This was my fourth year in a row doing this race.  It is a PR course and I was hoping for one this year, hopefully just under 17 minutes.  I had handicapped my race by running very hard workouts during the week, but an easy Friday and Saturday of running had them feeling good on race day.  The weather was again seasonable and sunny.  There was wind (as usual this close to the ocean). 

I arrived an hour early and met up with many WTAC teammates including Jeff, Mike B & C, Seth, and Tommy FiveK.  We had a big group on a warm up run that included most of the course.  Time was running short again so I hightailed back to my car for final prep.  I then ran a few strides waiting for the race to begin.  I was hoping for third place (cash prize) as Will Sanders was in attendance and I can't hang with FiveK in his signature distance.  There is always the potential for other fast dudes showing up for the race.  I was anxious for the start. 

It was quite the show off the line.  Will Sanders hammered immediately with a sweatshirt/pants guy trying to keep up.  There were others sprinting off the line as well.  After 100 meters the chaos quieted down and I found myself in third place, closely following FiveK.  As we made a 180 turn the wind was now screaming in our faces.  I tried to pick up the intensity, but was losing ground on FiveK (expected) and hearing close footsteps behind me.  I kept checking my pace on my watch to make sure I was where I wanted to be, which I was until near the end of the first mile.  I didn't recognize the breathing/foot strikes of my chaser so I assumed it was Jay Seekell and not Jeff.  Turns out it was both of them plus Seth.  I reached the first mile in an announced 5:30 (5:34 on my watch).  Not fast enough, but mostly into the wind, so hopefully things would balance out later.  The second mile has a few more turns back into the open park and I was now running alone.  I couldn't hear anyone behind me and FiveK had a decent lead in front of me.  I tried hard to not have a mile 2 let down.  I didn't see my split (5:38 on my watch).  The last mile is mostly on an open bike loop.  The first 1/4 mile was into the wind.  I really tried to bear down here.  My pace was okay coming out of it and I now had the wind at my back for the duration.  I was still very alone, and battling myself mentally.  When to push harder?  Can I push harder?  I exited the bike loop and was getting close to the finish.  I passed Chris Garvin (spectating) and he told me I could still go sub 17.  I wasn't so sure glancing at my watch (mile 3 split 5:28).  Once I got a visual of the finish line I hammered it home.  I was running extremely hard, but it was too much too late, and I crossed the line in 17:04 (4:21 pace for the final .1).  A two second PR, but a few seconds short of 16:59.  Oh well.  It was a good race considering my week of running and not having anyone pushing me the final two miles.  My splits were very consistent which was encouraging. 

It was more exciting to watch the rest of my teammates (and other familiar local faces) finish up their races.  Jeff in 4th and a new PR, Seth in a huge PR and sub 18, Matthew sub 19, Shara for the win, Mike C PR?, and on and on.  We had another big group on our cool down out to Grassy Point.  Thanks Jeff for scaring us (hid in the bushes on our way back and jumped out at us).  Screamed like a girl.  Fun atmosphere post race. 

Photo by Jana Walker

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Weekly Log 10-21-13 to 10-27-13

I officially registered for the Charlestown FOP 5K in Ninigret this Sunday.  I wasn't sure if I would definitely be around or not.  This is a PR course, and hopefully I can knock a few more seconds off of mine and sneak under 17 minutes.  My mind waivers if I'm in shape to do this or not.  I probably should taper for this race, but I'm not going to compromise my training for upcoming goal races - Li'l Rhody Runaround and Christmas 10K.  We'll see what happens. 

Monday: 10 miles - Ryan Park trails with Dan.  I haven't run with Dan in a long time, but he was my main training partner for the first two years I seriously got into running.  This run brought the memories right back - he would push the pace faster than what I wanted to go, I would eventually get used to it and maintain it for the duration while he hung back.  Every run was done rather fast, and is opposite of the way I train now.  It made me think I really lollygag some of my easy trail runs.  Anyway, I followed him around the park for the first 4 miles or so, roughly following the Belleville Pond 10K course.  He told me to take over the lead after we stopped for some horses.  We finished up the run back at our cars (52 minutes), and I decided to run a couple of more miles, completing another loop around the pond.  Fun day. 

Tuesday: 10 miles - Big River trails alone.  I was inspired to do a long trail tempo today after yesterday's run and checking out the competition on Strava.  I decided to run the loop of Lego to Dead Shed to Pump House and back.  GPS measures it at about 6 miles, but definitely seems like 7.  Right away my legs felt tired so I opted for a short warm up that seemed to do the trick (about 1.5 miles).  The weather was sunny and warm (70 degrees) and I wondered if I would get hot wearing my required orange shirt.  I picked up my pace and began the loop.  I was running hard, but at a pace I thought (hoped) I could manage to maintain.  I was sporting my new glasses, but moving so fast on the leaf covered trails it was still a bit of an adventure.  I made it through the first half of Lego in about 14 minutes an knew that I was doing well.  What surprised me was my split at the end of 2nd half of Lego (PR!) and I still felt great.  I continued to push myself down Dead Shed.  I wasn't tired yet.  Unfortunately I didn't look at my watch and GPS didn't match the segment, so I didn't get my split for this trail (but likely a PR too).  I finally was experiencing some fatigue on the Pump House trail on the early twisty part, but I knew the end was near.  I turned it up some more on the straight Strava segment at the end (another PR) and continued to motor back up the New London Turnpike.  I completed the loop in 43:47 - a 5 minute PR and CR.  I then did another 1.5 mile cooldown.  This was a really good workout and a confidence boost for upcoming trail races. 

Wednesday: 8 miles - Rome Point trails alone.  Today felt like a late fall/early winter day.  It was gray and cold.  The trails were covered with dry brown leaves (except for trails that "the raker" had recently visited).  The woods were quiet except for the occasional flock of mixed winter birds (chickadees, titmice, juncos, etc.).  I was overdressed, and warmed up rather quickly.  My legs seemed okay at first, but felt tired for most of the run.  There's a new fun little trail on the north side of the park.  Good stuff.  Okay run. 

Thursday: 18 miles on two runs.  Today was an epic workout in the pitch dark.  The ambitious plan was another MacMillan 10K workout: 1 x 2 mile/5 min rest/4 x 1 mile w/ 3-4 minute rests all run at goal 10K pace.  That's 6 miles of speed work and I just ran a hard 7 mile trail tempo two days ago.  I wasn't sure if I could complete the workout or nail the target pace (5:40).  I had a restless sleep, and finally got out of bed at 4:50AM.  We needed to start the workout early so that Mike and myself could leave at 7.  I hit the road and arrived just behind Nate.  It was chilly (38 degrees) and going to be dark for another hour plus.  I dressed appropriately and decided to wear my shoes (Nike 3.0's) that I would be racing the Christmas 10K in (and maybe Li'l Rhody).  I wandered over to the track and began running while Nate stretched.  A couple of laps in Nate and Chris G joined me.  A few more laps and then Mike showed up.  We eventually stopped and I realized I ran almost a 3 mile warm up - oops, too long!  Without much delay we walked up to the start line and began the 2 mile interval.  Chris is racing this weekend and decided to run with/pace me.  This is super helpful as he had an old school watch and could check our splits.  It was so dark, it seemed like we were the only two on the track.  We were 2-3 seconds slow on the 2nd lap and it felt like we couldn't catch up, but I ended up with a 11:19 (11:20 target).  We ran two laps for a recovery and then began the 4 x mile repeats.  Honestly I thought we would do 3 of them, as none of us have been doing close to 6 miles of speedwork.  Chris again was going to run with me, but I was feeling great and stayed in front of him and did the math in my head each lap to ensure I wasn't going too slow.  After 3, Chris and Nate were stopping, but Mike was game for one more.  Fatigue was setting in, but I still felt pretty smooth on the last one.  Huge confidence boost.  I don't know if I can run 5:40 pace for a 10K, but I should have no problems PR'ing.  Results: 11:19/5:36/5:37/5:33/5:32 Boom! 

I was feeling pretty beat when the time for my early afternoon recovery came around, but the weather looked nice (sunny), so I tried to make the best of it.  I decided to stay close and just run the west side of Ryan Park.  My form felt ragged at first, but things got easier after a while.  I was moving slow and it was cold when facing the wind.  I mixed up the course as I went which took away some of the monotony.  I smashed my foot on a root and fell 4+ miles in.  I wished I had my trail shoes on!  I tacked on a mile across the road in Feuer Park before weaving my way back to my car.  Big day.  I need to make sure I replace my depleted chromium levels tonight. 

Friday: 9 miles - 3 x Calf Pasture Point loop (beach, trail, and bike path) alone.  This run turned out way better than I thought.  I had a bad attitude since my legs were tired, it was windy, cloudy, and cold.  Nothing seemed appealing to me as far as where to run, so I ventured over to the bike path since it is flat and scenic.  When I reached the beach, I was afraid the tide was too high for me to make it by the tidal stream, but it is currently dried up, so that wasn't a problem.  The sand wasn't as firm as I'd like and the wind was in my face for the southern half of the shoreline.  But I found myself enjoying the run more and more as I went.  After two laps,  I decided to run one more but in the opposite direction.  The wind situation was better at first, but then screaming in my face on the north end.  Oh well.  My legs felt pretty strong coming off the big workout yesterday. 

Saturday: 3 miles - 9 x home trail loops in the mid afternoon.  I wasn't feeling an early morning run in the dark and cold so I ran the only chance I had which was at my house during the kids' screen time.  I was glad I did get to shake the legs out.  Total time: 22:47 (7:32/7:40/7:35). 

Sunday: 8 miles - Charlestown FOP 5K - 17:04, 3rd overall, 2 second PR.  I needed to start my sprint a little earlier or just run a little tougher.  Still a decent effort since I was running alone and it was windy.  Separate write up to follow.  My splits according to Strava: 5:34/5:38/5:28/.1 in 4:21 pace.  Happy with the consistency. 

Overall: 3 speed workouts and decent mileage.  I hope to keep plugging away like this until Li'l Rhody week. 

Weekly Total: 66 miles
Last Week: 72 miles
Year to Date: 2668 miles

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Weekly Log 10-14-13 to 10-20-13

This week should be a fairly normal training week for me.  The weekend is still a bit up in the air as the kids have early soccer games on Saturday and then we are heading up to Boston.  I might get to race the Run for the Pumpkins 5K in Westerly on Sunday morning.  It's a tough course with a 100' climb mixed in.  I kind of like it.  We'll see. 

Monday: 4.5 miles - Carter Preserve trail loop with my wife in the morning.  Very chilly start - 38 degrees.  We ran the normal loop a little faster than we did back in the summer. 

In the afternoon we took the kids to a local corn maze and I decided to record it on GPS. 

Tuesday: 10 miles - Gilbert Stuart Road hill repeats alone.  My legs (hamstrings in particular) were sore for some reason, but I decided to stick with my plan of hills.  Repeating the baddest hill around rather than the usual round of Saunderstown hills was the more appealing option.  The weather was sunny and mid 60's.  The foliage is about at its peak right now and I enjoyed my views (when I wasn't climbing) on this pleasant quiet road.  My plan was 4 or 5 repeats, going a mile each way.  After 3, I decided 5 would be attainable.  I kept my pace consistent and climbed under control.  Each repeat got faster which I was pleased about.  Results (mile up/mile down) (7:39/7:08)(7:22/7:09)((7:21/7:01)(7:12/6:59)(7:05/6:37).  Each mile up has about 225' of climbing. 

Wednesday: 10.5 miles - Ryan Park trails alone.  I kept the pace brisk throughout the entire run.  I felt a bit rushed for some reason.  The day was fantastic for running.  I ended up going longer than I planned and I was tempted to call it 11 miles. 

Thursday: 8 miles - early morning track with Galoob, Nate, and Brian.  Another dark run on the track until near the end.  A new guy, Brian, joined us and I had no idea what he looked like the first 45 minutes.  This was the 2nd week of the MacMillan 10K workout plan.  10-12 400's @ 5K pace with 200 recoveries.  My target was 80.  It took a couple of reps to get consistent.  Results: 78/82/80/79/79/79/79/80/77/78/77/75.  Pretty good workout.  My legs were rather lifeless thanks to the previous two days, so it was nice to nail the workout. 

8 miles in the afternoon - Rome Point trails and beach solo.  Warm, humid, and cloudy.  My legs felt good and since the tide was low, I was able to run the shoreline south pretty far.  I love these double days! 

Friday: 17 miles - North Kingstown roads (3 miles dirt) alone.  Pushing the boundaries of a lunch break, I got in a rather long run this afternoon.  I decided to run from the office and chase quantity of miles versus driving to Big River for quality.  I have to say I didn't love being on the roads.  At least the GPS is accurate.  I knew I was in for some sort of sufferfest thanks to the double yesterday (including speed work).  I figured the lovely autumn day would make up for some of the pain, which was sort of true.  I was a bit impatient watching the miles tick off my watch.  During mile 8, my glasses fell off my head when I was wiping the sweat out of my eyes with my shirt, so I did the rest of the run without them, which included some easy wide trails in Ryan Park.  The positives were that the last miles felt the same as the rest of them.  My pace was okay - I was running on the uncomfortable/comfortable threshold throughout.  I didn't bring water or fuel and didn't need it.  The weather was fantastic.  The run was drama-free.  The negatives were the roads, tired legs, and a wind that always felt in my face. 

Saturday: 8 miles - local roads in the early AM alone.  Busy day on tap and my window to run was going to be before the sun rose.  I was out the door at 6.  It was very dark except for the full moon.  I enjoyed watching it as I ran my loop.  It was interesting (and a little annoying) to see how many cars were out on the road at this hour on a Saturday.  I was also surprised (pleasantly) to still see the full moon in the sky after I thought it was supposed to set. 

Sunday: 6 miles - Westerly Run for the Pumpkins 5K, 2nd place - 17:45.  Separate write up with the Charlestown FOP race to follow. 

Overall: High volume and intensity week.  I'll take it. 

Weekly Total: 72 miles
Last Week: 51 miles
Year to Date: 2602 miles

Friday, October 11, 2013

Weekly Log 10-7-13 to 10-13-13

Post Nipmuck Trail Marathon my body was rather beat up.  My lower legs and feet actually felt great, but it was my upper legs/lower core and surprisingly my triceps and upper back that were most fatigued.  I guess I need to get back to pushups.  I'm also heading to the eye doctor for new glasses (scratched and bent my current ones during the race) and see if I'm a candidate for contacts (don't think so) or possibly lasik (expensive but tempting).  I ended up taking two days off after the race to let my body heal.  Monday I was too tired and too uncomfortable to run.  Tuesday I committed to errands I had put off for weeks.  I was feeling better and the weather was nice so that was a little annoying.  Back to chasing miles on Wednesday. 

Monday: 0

Tuesday: 0

Wednesday: 11+ miles - Ryan Park trails alone.  I was feeling good enough for an hour or so run.  I ended up feeling better as I went, so I stretched it out longer.  The wind from Sunday/Monday knocked down a lot of leaves, so the woods weren't as colorful as I hoped.  At least it was sunny and a terrific day to be outside. 

Thursday: 16 miles on two runs.  9 miles in the early AM with Galoob at the CCMS track.  It was pitch black when I began warming up at 5:45AM and there wasn't enough light to read my watch for another 30 minutes.  We talked the night before about following a MacMillan 10K workout schedule for our two upcoming goal races: Li'l Rhody Runaround and the Christmas 10K.  The first workout was 6 x mile at 10K pace.  This seemed like an ambitious start and since we have plenty of time, we just did 4 x mile today.  My target pace was 5:40 and we did 400 recoveries.  Results: 5:38/5:36/5:35/5:38.  I was pretty pleased with this, especially coming off the trail marathon a few days ago.  We probably could have pushed for another rep or two, but the miles are supposed to be under control.  They are also supposed to be at 10K pace not faster, so I could have taken it down a notch.  Fun nonetheless.  In the afternoon I headed over to the Queens River Preserve.  I was looking for flat easy trails and dirt roads.  I ran with my phone and used the Strava app in case there were some nice foliage photo opportunities, but no dice.  I think the GPS on my phone aggravates me more than my watch.  I'm tempted to call this longer than 7 miles, but I won't. 

Friday: 8 miles - DuVal Trail alone in the afternoon.  I kept the pace on the challenging side, but with tired legs, who knows how fast I was going.  It was rather humid and by the time I reached Red House Road I took off my shirt.  I then ran the long segment of single track between the roads hard, hoping to improve my PR (Galoob/Garvin Strava battle has made the CR unreachable for me).  I was happy with my consistent effort throughout.  I finished up the way I began for a fun hour. 

Saturday: 11 miles - Grills Preserve group run in the early am.  There were seven of us this morning.  It was still dark when we began, but the light filled in rather nicely.  We stuck to the wider double track at first and then made our way up and over Big Hill.  We cruised along the river on yellow dot before crossing the Polly Coon Bridge.  After a detour to the overlook we ran my favorite trail in this system - silver diamond.  It's rugged, hilly, and well done.  We lucked out at Tomaquag Brook/swamp as the new bridge is being built and there were planks for us to cross.  We ran the easy double track there and dropped off 4 of the guys on Chase Hill Rd.  Muddy, Seth, and I ran back the fun way through the woods.  An excellent WTAC adventure. 

In the afternoon I took the kids to the zoo (met friends there) and there were lots of pumpkins in addition to the usual animals. 

Sunday: 5 miles - quick north Burlingame loop alone in the morning.  I decided that 50 miles for the week would be good enough post marathon, but once I got going, I wished that I had more time.  The weather was a tad chilly, but perfect.  I encountered no humans and began late enough that I wasn't worried about large predatory animals.  The white dot River Trail was nice and dry and I need to go back there with some loppers to keep this trail alive. 

In the afternoon my wife and I celebrated our anniversary with a nice hike around Green Fall Pond and Dinosaur Rock.  Nice colors out there and a perfect fall day. 

Weekly Total: 51 miles
Last Week: 66 miles
Year to Date: 2530 miles

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Nipmuck Trail Marathon 2013

Somewhere during the summer I decided to forgo an attempt at the Pisgah Mtn Trail 50K in mid-September and instead try my hand (feet) at the Nipmuck Trail Marathon in early October.  I could then run the "short" race (23K) at Pisgah as a tune up three weeks before the marathon.  I was excited. 

I came into the race on Sunday with a lot of miles under my belt, but doubts about my endurance due to lack of long runs (2.5+ hours).  Despite reading blogs and getting first hand accounts of the Nipmuck course, I wasn't sure what to expect.  Adding to my nervousness/anxiousness was the pressure I was feeling to post a fast time.  Simply just finishing would not suffice, but what was a realistic time?  It was a long few days leading up to the race....

I awoke at 5AM on race day after a few hours of sleep.  I had already packed my things and was ready to head out to meet Seth for our commute.  I checked the weather and noticed that the 30% chance of a rain shower looked like it was now 100% and more than just a shower.  Oh well.  I chuckled thinking how I thought just a couple days earlier the course would be nice and dry.  I picked up my normal pre-race breakfast of an egg and cheese bagel with hash browns and a small black coffee.  Seth arrived and we soon were off to Ashford, CT. 

The ride was uneventful and dark.  It began to rain lightly as we neared registration.  It also wasn't as warm (humid) as I thought and I debated my wardrobe.  I thought I wouldn't wear a shirt since it was going to be raining, but it seemed too cold not to.  I grabbed my bib, which included the dreaded red High Fall Risk sticker.  Really?  We bumped into fellow WTAC teammate Mike Crutchley and then spent the next 45 minutes in my car sheltered from the steady light rain.  With 10 minutes to go we ventured out into the elements for the pre-race instructions.  We placed drop bags along the trail (I had a pair of Nike Frees in case I wanted to switch out of my trail shoes, dry shirt, and dry socks).  My body felt good, my nerves were calm, and my only concern was my glasses - would they stay clear for the race. 

We lined up 100 yards or so down the road.  I introduced myself to Chris Hayhurst - last year's winner and a guy my brother Greg has battled in the past at Pisgah.  I also said hi to Stanislav Trufanov who I knew ran 3:40 here last year and was somebody I planned to keep my eye on during the race.  Seth lined up next to me and we were off. 

Me and Seth at the start.  Photo by Crutchley.  

Chris was still talking to me for the short stretch on the road before speeding away in the woods.  I had no illusions of sticking with him.  What was strange was that I seemed very alone in 2nd place right away.  I couldn't hear any close footsteps, and any voices seemed off in the distance.  The woods were dark, and the trail was hard to navigate with so many fallen leaves.  The trail has plenty of blue blazes to follow, and on a day like this, it was welcomed.  Still, it was a mental challenge to have to look up and away from my footing to make sure I was still on course.  The trail was single track, and it seemed like the wet leaves were hiding plenty of wet roots and rocks in many sections.   Other sections seemed really runnable.  I reached the Rte 74 crossing and fumbled my way over the guardrail and over to the other side.  Soon I was along a brook and the trail seemed wide or non-existent.  I followed the blazes.  The trail then ran west and climbed for quite some time.  I thought I was told this direction was all down hill? 

It was on this stretch that I felt very alone and possibly lost.  I was following blue blazes, but was I on the right trail?  I could see or hear no one.  The trail I was on was very runnable, but I was keeping my pace a bit conservative.  I was super pumped to see a course marshall at a road crossing.  Still on track!  The woods then went from mostly deciduous trees to evergreen.  I again was having trouble following the trail.  It just wasn't visible.  I just ran to the next tree with a blue blaze.  And then I hit a roadblock.  A large tree was across the trail.  I began to run around it, but then couldn't see the next blaze.  I panicked for a second and backtracked.  I figured out which way to go and continued.  Soon I was along a stream and saw Chris Hayhurst pass me in the opposite direction.  I was close to the turnaround point.  Sweet!  But then I could hear someone behind me.  Glancing back it was Stanislav.  This gave me an adrenaline rush and I picked up my pace.  I was now racing! 

I reached the turnaround aid station and had to ask where to go - run around a cone maybe?  Nope.  Just either stop at the tables or head back on the trail.  I didn't need anything so I kept going.  I could see many runners very close behind me, including Seth in 4th place.  Way to go! I stuck with my faster pace on the way back.  I enjoyed exchanging pleasantries to the runners as we passed going in opposite directions.  Even though the trail was narrow, everyone just stuck to their right, and there were no issues.  I also got a break from focusing on where the blue blazes were as I could just see the runners coming at me.  The trip back to the start/finish area was rather uneventful.  I took a GU at 1 hr and 1.5 hrs.  I drank water from my handheld.  Energy was good.  My feet felt a little tight, but no major issues. 

I reached the start/finish area to the sound of applause and ringing bells.  I tried to remember what I needed to do.  I grabbed two more GU's, threw out my trash, had my handheld refilled with water, and drank a very small amount of Gatorade.  I then took off.  I glanced at my watch and I was at 1:36.  I then remembered I was going to take off my shirt since it was soaking wet and I didn't care to deal with chaffing for the rest of the race.  I quickly stopped and dropped it on the side of the trail still close to the finish area. 

I tried to keep a good pace.  I was very alone and it was getting dark again.  I told myself that the 7 miles out were going to feel long and just try to relax.  The trail was more hilly, but easier to follow.  I noted how many minutes it took me to get to the first road crossing (20) so that I would know what to expect on the way back.  I quickly reached another road, but the trail didn't cross it, rather it followed it.  Hmm.  I think I remember someone talking about this.  I kept seeing blue blazes so I kept going - downhill for quite some time.  Then the road became paved and climbed.  I hoped I was on course.  Eventually  I saw cars in a parking lot and some guys setting up aid station tables.  I noted the time from the finish (30 minutes) said hello and kept running. 

The trail was wide at first and then returned to single track for the duration.  It was also very hilly, mostly uphill in this direction.  The light rain was becoming steadier and eventually my glasses got wet.  I tried cleaning them a couple of times, but it was useless.  My vision was crappy with them on or off.  This was mostly a problem in low lying areas (hidden rock gardens) and treacherous descents.  If anything, my visibility issues were a nice pacing tool, since I was still alone in 2nd place, and my legs felt great.  I was also doing well energy-wise.  I continued to take a GU every 30 minutes and sipped water as I went (not a lot, but more than I'm used to).  I managed to run up the super steep ascents which reminded me of the Pisgah race, but not as long.  I then crossed paths with Chris Hayhurst again.  I was relieved to know I was getting close to the turnaround.  The trail began descending and I finally opted to take off my glasses.  I hit the famous staircase and made my way down to the aid station. 

I drank two small cups of Coke and had my handheld refilled with water.  I then was off again.  My time was 2:36.  Before the race, I was worried about the last 7 miles, thinking that I would blow up or just break down during this section.  But I was feeling so good, and just knew I wouldn't have any trouble keeping up my pace and finishing rather strong.  Visibility was going to be the major hassle. 

It continued to rain harder and harder.  The first person I encountered in the opposite direction was Seth!  I was incredibly happy for him and this pumped me up.  I did check my watch to see what my lead was (5 or 6 minutes I guessed).  I then hit the train of oncoming traffic, more spread out now, and people weren't as chipper as before.  Everyone was drenched.  The trail condition was deteriorating and I was glad I was finishing up.  I knew that if I could keep this stretch similar to the way out, I could finish sub 3:40.  Once I made the long climb out of the hollow, it was mostly downhill.  I was able to stay on course.  My legs still felt good.  I couldn't see much.  It kept pouring. 

I was looking forward to the road section (and the relief it would bring), and therefore it seemed to take a long time to reach.  I had my first fall - tripped over who knows what, fell, and kept sliding.  I wasn't hurt and jumped right back up.  At the aid station near the road I stopped to get my handheld refilled since I had to dump out my bottle (got dirt in it during my fall).  Who do I see there - Crutchley!  We high fived and again I was pumped.  I knew that he was going to be out there in these miserable conditions for a long time and I was happy to see he wasn't going to give up.  My time was 3:08.  It took me 30 minutes to get here on the way out.  I needed to do it again to finish sub 3:40. 

I ran the roads well, including the steep dirt climb.  I re-entered the woods and tried to push my pace.  I hit the final road crossing and again noted that I was still right on pace from the way out.  20 more minutes.  The trail was mostly a stream at this point.  I could do this.  I hustled as best I could, but the anticipation was tough.  I fell again.  I almost slid off the trail a few other times.  I knew  I was very close.  But then the trail climbed.  It kept climbing and climbing.  Finally near the top I slid on a giant wet rock and scraped my glasses (in my hand) and my chest.  I couldn't worry about anything at this point.  I needed to finish. 

A few more turns and then I reached the finish banner and a few cheering spectators in the woods.  I had to ask if I was done.  I was.  3:38:02.  2nd place.  Crazy trail and weather conditions.  I couldn't have been happier. 

I stumbled around chatting with Chris (3:23) and some of the race helpers, and then realized I was getting cold.  I began hobbling to my car when I heard the 3rd place finisher arriving.  It was Seth!  He did it.  And crushed his time from last year by 30 minutes.  Unbelievable performance by him today.  I made it to my car and got into warm, dry clothes.  I went back down to the finish and got some delicious veggie chili (I was beginning to bonk).  I wandered around the woods to find my shirt.  I chatted some more with Chris and the RD Dave Merkt.  Finally I was getting really cold again (still raining and the temperature was in the high 50's) so Seth and I collected our prizes (pies!) and made the journey back to RI. 


I'd like to thank the Shenipsit Striders for hosting such a great event.  I can't wait to run this race again. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Nipmuck Week: 9-30-13 to 10-6-13

Ready or not here comes the Nipmuck Trail Marathon.  I've settled on some time goals, but basically I want to race and not just finish, so it should be interesting.  I figure I'll feel good for about 2.5 hours then who knows.  The weather should be decent.  Taper this week to be 100% on Sunday. 

Monday: 9.5 miles - Big River trails alone.  This was a really fun loop that I made up as I went along.  I was able to run my favorite single track on the west side of Hopkins Hill Rd, mostly in reverse direction.  The trails were hard to follow with a lot of fallen leaves (mostly birch).  I also had to jump a rather large snake and avoid an angry bee.  Mostly the trails are narrow, twisty, and hilly.  They don't get much use except for the occasional dirtbike it looks like.  I crossed Hopkins Hill Rd at Tarbox Pond and then ran on the east side around the ponds.  I decided to make a mad dash across the beaver dam and finally put up a decent time (19 seconds) despite getting my feet wet.  I continued on running the ridge before making my way around Carr Pond.  It was fun to try different trails.  I ended by giving the Strava segment up the hill to the parking lot a go.  I remembered that Bob Jackman took the CR from me back in August when I was on vacation.  I flew up the hill and felt fantastic.  I guess my legs are feeling fresh.  New CR by quite a bit.  This was a great loop on a great fall day. 

Tuesday: 6.5 miles - Ryan Park trails alone.  Today was rather warm (75 degrees) and sunny.  I parked at the high lot on Oak Hill Rd and ran the west side trails.  I forgot my watch, but could track my run on my phone.  The low bush huckleberry on the powerline were quite stunning so I grabbed a quick picture. 

I was impressed with the number of people I saw running today.  Also, it's really dry and the dirt trails are very dusty.  Total time: 53:53. 

Wednesday: 8 miles - Rome Point beach (6+ miles) and trails solo.  This was sort of a low intensity workout.  Easy pace, but very challenging terrain along the shore.  I ran through the woods over to the brook at the powerline.  I then followed the shore south for the next three miles.  It's a bit overgrown and muddy at first.  The cool part was seeing a bunch of fidler crabs.  It then gets very rocky around the point.  The going is very slow and frustrating.  It then opens up on shells/small rocks/thick sand for much of the duration.  It was hot today (80+ degrees) and suncreen was sweating off into my eyes.  The pace was slow, but I was working pretty hard.  The tide was low, but rising, and the southern end was a bit dicey.  This run was a good challenge for me mentally and physically (especially my feet/ankles). 

Thursday: 6 miles - Calf Pasture Point beach, trail, and bike path alone.  Another warm day spent mostly on the shoreline.  I'm feeling antsy about Sunday and my legs are beginning to feel tight and terrible.  Looks like it might be warm during the race too. 

Friday: 6 miles - Rome Point trails with Sandals.  I got an email last night from Aaron about running today, now that he is living in NK and back to running.  We met up at Rome for an easy stroll around the trails.  Looking forward to more weekday trail runs with him in the future.  Total time: 53 minutes. 

Saturday: 3 miles - Burlingame trail loop with my wife in the late afternoon.  A nice easy stroll through the woods.  31 minutes. 

Sunday: 27 miles - Nipmuck Trail Marathon - 2nd overall, 3:38:02.  Separate write up to follow Monday or Tuesday. 

Weekly Total: 66 miles
Last Week: 64 miles
Year to Date: 2479 miles