Sunday, December 28, 2014

Old Mountain Field Trail 5K 2014 December Version

No doubt you've already read many other write ups about this race.  Sorry mine's so late.  Here's my take: 

Pre-race Thoughts:

I was super excited to find out a couple of months ago that Mike Galoob was still planning on putting on his 4th Season trail race series.  The OMF 5K would again be the first race.  I really like this course.  Despite the short distance, it is diverse and challenging.  And feels long.  I ran it a few times the week of the race and it would take me 25 - 30 minutes to complete depending on my effort (and the 25 was a good push).  In December 2012 I had a good race here and finished in 19:33.  I knew I should be faster two years later and had the goal of possibly finishing just under 19 minutes.  That was my only real goal besides a team WTAC win over TNT (and any others).  As the pre-registries came in on the site, it was obvious the field was going to be large and stacked.  My plan in previous years was to go out super fast and get to the single track first or with the lead pack.  Well, the results of that plan have humbled me, and I didn't want to do that again.  Maybe a more conservative start and then passing people later would be better.  I even searched out Chris Garvin's opinion about it at the WTAC Christmas party. 

Fast forward to race day and I was feeling good.  Because of a very busy work and family schedule, I hadn't been logging that many miles leading into the race.  I felt fresh.  That was good.  Mentally, I've been lacking confidence in my speed since I've had a bit of a training lull since the Li'l Rhody Runaround.  That was bad.  I already knew who would be at the race, but arriving there just confirmed the amount of competition.  I really just was hoping for a race I felt good about at the end. 

I ran the course a bit early with my brother Greg and Tom Gruczka.  We brought orange tape with us to help block off possible wrong turns.  Tom is a super friendly guy and we had fun on our 30 minutes of mostly running the course, occasionally stopping to tie up tape.  We had about 15 minutes left before the race start.  I stripped down to just a singlet, shorts, hat, and gloves on this 35 degree gray day.  I then did some more running to stay warm, mixing in a few field strides.  Mike got us all lined up and it was time to race! 

The Race:

The start was a mad sprint like always except this year there were so many more people involved.  I tried to be conservative, but quickly found myself in what I verbalized as 40th place.  I made the turn around the ball field and onto the partly paved section where the clicking and clacking of spikes could be heard.  Must be high school or college kids.  After the next turn at the bottom of the pond I made the quick decision to sprint even harder as I didn't like how many people were ahead of me so near the single track trail entrance.  According to GPS, my pace for this first quarter mile fluctuated between high 4's and low 5's. 

Finally I entered the woods maybe in 12th or so place.  The pace eased off immediately and I maneuvered around someone at the first bridge.  I needed to recover from the sprint - my breathing was out of whack and I was tired, but I was in the middle of a furious train of runners.  I did my best to keep pushing despite how I felt.  I passed Dave Principe along this stretch who sounded like he was feeling worse than I was.  I made it to the bridge at the top of the pond and I finally was feeling recovered.  I quickly passed a young runner on a wider stretch and then caught up to more runners on the rock jump stream crossing.  I patiently had to wait my turn (the runner ahead of me had spikes on and I wouldn't have been surprised to see a bad fall).  I made my move to go by at the power line, cutting up my legs in the process.  Now we were in the soggy far end of the course.  I caught another younger guy and now found myself with a sizable gap behind the next person up ahead (Tom) and then I could sometimes see glimpses of the leaders (Garvin, Greg, Bronson V, Jackman, Brightman).  Muddy was still behind me, as well as many other fast guys.  I kept pushing through the slop.  As the trail got more technical and twisty, I wasn't racing to catch anybody, rather I was trying to stay ahead of Muddy who was now clearly on my heels. 

Non-rant Sidebar: 

It's pretty amusing how many times this scenario has presented itself this year in trail races - me being closely trailed by Muddy for the majority of the race.  I feel that we are so closely even in ability and train so much together that it sort of makes sense that we race together.  And I prefer to lead.  Being "pushed" from behind helps me maintain my focus and effort.  As soon as I get passed, I have a tendency for a let down.  I lose focus and determination.  I believe we have pushed each other to great races this year.  Besides, I think the results are about 50/50 this year on who finishes ahead of whom. 

Back to the Race:

The course begins to rise gradually and then with a rather significant hill.  I was pushing to stay in front of Muddy, but now Tom was coming into view.  We definitely were gaining a lot of ground on the hill climb.  After summiting and then clumsily dropping down the steep stairs, I knew I was going to pass Tom on the next short hill.  He heard me coming and graciously pulled off to the side and offered words of encouragement.  I appreciated the gesture and saving my legs from more cuts.  I was hoping to get a gap on Muddy here, but sure enough he was back on my heels.  We crested the "Old Mountain" again, and then began negotiating tight switchbacks down the hill.  I was afraid that I would get passed here and really tried to descent quickly.  Besides Muddy, this was prime Gazelle territory and also Dave Principe.  Surely they weren't far back.  Near the bottom of the hill we began seeing and gaining on local road speedster Bronson Venable.  He was racing as a Turtle, so besides the excitement of catching up to a fifteen minute 5Ker, there could be team racing consequences.  I knew that he was inexperienced on trails, and hopefully the tough course was doing him in.  I wanted to pass him on the uphill switchbacks.  Then suddenly on a tight turn Muddy cut sharply inside and almost went by me.  But it was just like NASCAR and he lost all his momentum.  I pushed on up the hill and finally resigned to the fact that I wasn't catching Bronson here, and soon we would be out of the woods. 

The finish is on grass around the skate park for 200 meters, then on pavement for 200 meters, and then back on grass for another 200 meters or so.  I remained a couple of seconds back of Bronson with Muddy a second or two behind me.  I picked up my pace, more to hold off Muddy at this point.  Once we reached the pavement however, Bronson seemed to slow a bit.  I quickly took off and made my move.  I just passed a super fast dude!  I tried to keep on the jets.  Surely this wasn't the end.  I rounded the turn onto the field and continued to press, but here comes company.  Muddy and Bronson overtook me.  Ugh!!  I tried to find another gear - I've no doubt done this in previous races - but couldn't find the turnover to catch back up.  Bronson surged ahead of Muddy and then a couple of seconds later, we crossed the line.  Race over. 


I had to take a few moments to make sure I didn't throw up.  What a finish.  Despite "losing" at the line, I was very pleased with my race.  I felt good about how it all went.  My time was 19:27, good for 7th place in a stacked field.  A modest PR, but I'll take it.  Team WTAC got the win! 

Thanks to the Galoob family for putting on such a great race.  It was a record turnout too.  Rhody trail racing is strong and I can't wait for more races in 2015.  Happy New Year!! 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Thanksgiving Week: 11-24-14 to 11-30-14

My desire to get out and chase miles everyday has been waning as the days get colder and darker.  Maybe it is still a Li'l Rhody hangover.  I eclipsed the 3000 mile mark for the third consective year during this week.  Honestly, I don't see how I've run that many as I feel like I've been running a little less this year (I know that sounds crazy). 

Monday: 10+ miles - "Boring Loop in Dullsville" solo.  That was my Strava title.  I just wasn't into running today and had a bad attitude.  I did manage to rally and come up with a new loop that began from the Cuttyhunk Preserve parking lot.  I ran a mile plus of trails and then ran east on the messy Stony Lane.  I stayed on Stony Lane once it became paved and then looped back to my car on roads: Narrow Lane, South Road, Shippee Road, Frenchtown Rd, Bates Trail, and then back on Hopkins Hill Road.  I was annoyed with my watch as it seemed rather slow on the roads for my effort.  Total time: 1:15:18 with 446' of climbing. 

Tuesday: 10++ miles - EG/WG roads alone.  Another new loop, this time from the basketball courts on Frenchtown Road.  My motivation was Strava segments, which helped me start out at a spicy pace.  I ran east to Tillinghast Road and then ventured north.  This was more hilly than I anticipated, but I was more concerned with not getting run over by a Mercedes or a lawn service truck.  I then turned west onto Middle Road and was getting antsy for the first Segment to begin.  I knew it started somewhere after the stream crossing.  I turned up the pace knowing that Jackman had averaged 6:30 pace on this 3/4 mile hill climb.  It was hard, but at the end of the road I figured I had nailed it.  I so wanted to rest, but the next segment began immediately.  It was on Carr Pond Rd from Middle Rd to Division St.  I thought it was an easy downhill mile, but the road gradually climbed for the first half.  I was hurting as I struggled to maintain a peppy pace.  Finally I reached the screaming descent and knew I had taken the segment.  I turned west onto Division St briefly before diving into the woods in Big River on the New London Turnpike.  My goal was to keep up the peppy effort for the duration of my run.  I ran the dirt turnpike to Hopkins Hill Rd and turned south.  There is a sneaky steep little hill before a very steep and curvy descent to Tarbox Pond.  I then had to make the big climb back up Hopkins Hill.  There is a Strava segment that Garvin made untouchable, but I still pushed myself nonetheless.  I eventually crested the hill and could relax on the 2+ miles left back to my car (via Bates Trail and Frenchtown Rd).  Total time for the 10.2 miles was 1:06:08 (6:29) with 571' of climbing. 

Wednesday: 7+ miles - XC workout with Galoob.  We met up at Tuckertown Park in the pitch black.  The weather today was going to be nasty, but we only dealt with sprinkles.  Mike had mapped out a roughly 1/2 mile loop (more like two really long straightaways with short turns between them) on level soccer fields.  Without headlamps, it was hard to see where we were running, but managed to figure out the landmarks to use for our lap (it was measuring .53 miles on GPS).  After two miles of warming up with strides we changed into our spikes and got to work.  6 x 800+ with 400 rest.  Results: 2:54/2:58/3:00/2:59/2:58/2:57 (GPS average pace was 5:33 - 5:44).  I was happy with this.  Total time: 52 minutes.  Somewhere during the last two intervals I surpassed the 3000 mile mark for the year! 

Thursday: 12 miles - Run to Thanksgiving Dinner.  I ran from my house on roads to my in-laws.  I've done this a couple of other times.  The route is not fun, but the reward is good food and drink.  I used the Strava app on my phone and had no idea what my pace was.  I didn't feel great, but the pace seemed okay.  I was surprised to see my time of 1:20:17 (6:45) when I was done. 

Friday: 10 miles - Beach and road run with Muddy, Gazelle, and Seth.  We met up at the bakery and then ran down to the Charlestown Breachway.  We then ran east on the beach out to Moonstone Beach Rd (Seth left us at Green Hill).  It was low tide which was good, but there were tough rock sections in Green Hill and Moonstone.  Fun conversation throughout the run and at the bakery afterward.  Total time: 1:16:01. 

Saturday: 0 - We ended up driving to Stoddard NH in the early morning rather than on Friday afternoon.  It was ridiculously snowy and cold up there (at least 12" of snow, icy roads, high temp of 27).  I couldn't talk Glenn into a short run and I wasn't motivated to go out on my own.  At least I strapped my snowshoes on and played in the snow with my kids for an hour. 

Sunday: 10 miles - Stoddard NH icy dirt roads with my wife and then solo.  I was happy to have company to get me out in the winter wonderland (I'm totally not ready for snow running conditions).  My wife and I ran together for an hour and then she talked me into going back out for a few faster miles.  It was an easy sell.  I ran a hillier route, and wished I had better traction.  So much warmer later in the day back in RI with no snow.  Total time: 1:29 with 850' of elevation gain. 

Overall:  Decent week that would have been good if I didn't zero on Saturday.  I want to continue to train hard for the winter trail race series, but I'm worried about my usual December slack off. 

Weekly Total: 59 miles
Last Week: 70 miles
Year to Date: 3033 miles
November Total: 253 miles

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Catching Up: 11-10-14 to 11-23-14

Here's what I've been up to the last two weeks:

Monday 11/10: 17 miles - long run with Muddy.  I took a vacation day to make a 4 day weekend and I was able to meet up in the morning with Muddy, who was also off today.  We parked at the new lot on Rte 3 in Hopkinton at the Canonchet Brook Preserve.  We ran the trails in here and then connected to Canonchet Rd at Long Pond via the Narragansett Trail.  We then ran roads for a few miles.  Luckily my trail shoes (Terra Kiger 2.0's) do well on pavement.  Muddy needed to gobble up some more town roads, and we found some cool places.  I enjoyed the nice level dirt roads in particular (Grassy Pond and Kenny Hill).  The roads back were torture.  I was extremely fatigued and could only think about my solo lunch field trip to Taco Bell I was planning (hey, it's my day off).  Muddy was dropping low 7's, and the roads were not flat.  I was almost bonking when we veered off Canonchet Rd onto Lawton Foster North.  Another steep hill awaited us, but then the footing got softer.  We finished on the trails back to our cars.  Then fun didn't stop there as Muddy had a dog tied to his truck and we waited for animal control to come get it.  Weird!  Total time: 2:10.  1,103' elevation gain. 

Tuesday 11/11: 0 - Veterans' Day.  My body was tired, but it was my returning cold that kept me from doing a short run in the morning before heading out with the family for the day. 

Wednesday 11/12: 10 miles - Ryan Park trails alone.  Decent run, decent pace.  Total time: 1:13:27. 

Thursday 11/13: 9 miles - Calf Pasture Point alone.  3 loops.  Total time: 1:09:47. 

Friday 11/14: 5+ miles - Ryan Park trails alone.  Easy peasy.  Tapering for LRR.  38:17. 

Saturday 11/15: 0 - busy day with the kids and then family and friends in the evening. 

Sunday 11/16: 13 miles - Li'l Rhody Runaround 8M Trail Race

Weekly Total: 54 miles
Last Week: 54 miles
Year to Date: 2,904 miles
November Total: 124 miles

Monday 11/17: 0 - earned rest day after monster race the day before. 

Tuesday 11/18: 11 miles - EG/NK road loop alone.  Testing new shoes - Saucony Kinvara 5's.  I needed to find a new shoe since Nike has messed around too much with my beloved Free Runs.  I can't find the 3.0 model that I like anymore on the internet (they stopped making them 2 years ago).  They don't have a Free Run model that I like as much.  Running Warehouse compared the Kinvara 5's to the Free 3.0's so I thought I would give them a shot.  Similar weight and the same heel drop.  The Kinvara's feel pretty good.  Not quite the same, but I can envision being very happy with them.  I ran a road loop that included a couple of miles of hills.  490' of climbing.  Total time: 1:15:31 (6:52).

Wednesday 11/19: 13 miles - scouting the Nooseneck 18K course alone.  I parked south of the course on Sunderland Road and connected with the race course at the intersection with Pardon Joslin Rd.  It was a chilly late fall day perfect for running.  The roads were mostly empty of cars and included many hills.  The start/finish area is a particular steep one.  It was also interesting to see new trails (to me) off of this road (technically still Big River).  The best part of the race is that it includes Pardon Joslin Rd - my favorite spot for dirt hill repeats.  I hammered home the hill and then had another 3/4 mile to reach my car.  I really want to do this race, but being the day after Christmas, it is not likely, but I'm working on it!  Total time: 1:28:10 (6:47) with 844' of climbing. 

Thursday 11/20: 8 miles - Ryan Park trails alone.  Not inspired to run today.  Total time: 1:04:38. 

Friday 11/21: 10 miles - Rome Point coastline and trails alone.  I noticed from my office window that the tide seemed really low in Wickford.  I checked the tide charts and sure enough there was a negative tide happening (-.2').  I decided to quickly head down to Rome Point and see how far south I could get.  It was a very cold day - mid 30's and a screaming NW wind.  The way out was fun.  I had the place to myself and the tide was even lower than I hoped (wind direction?).  I made it as far as ever, and debated trying my luck to go farther.  Getting my feet or possible entire lower body wet, didn't seem like a good idea today so I turned around.  The run back into the wind was brutal.  It has to be good training for something.  Once I reached the trails, I spent some time hitting up my favorites.  Total time: 1:17:04. 

Saturday 11/22: 18 miles - Arcadia/Pachaug trail loop with Muddy, Galoob, Gazelle, and Jackman.  This was a really awesome adventure with a fast crew.  I was a little scared at being able to keep up after logging too many miles the previous four days.  The pace was what I thought - spicy, but I did a good job keeping up until the last few miles.  I didn't slow down, everyone else seemed to go faster.  I was excited to explore the Deep Pond area.  The trails to/from were awesome and I can't figure out why I never made it here before.  I need to come back with the family.  Good hills and rugged terrain throughout this run.  Total time: 2:20 with 948' of climbing. 

Sunday 11/23: 10+ miles - Burlingame campground trails alone.  I ran longer than I planned.  I parked at the picnic area and then ran to the Kimball/Kettle Pond trails.  My legs were doing okay, although the thick leaf cover was tough.  I then connected to the Brrr-lingame trail course.  I picked these trails today because of the mostly smooth footing.  Thanks to mtn bikes, the leaf cover wasn't too bad either.  I felt peppy making my way around the loop.  I even stayed on course through the campground (which isn't easy).  I then was fatiguing, but had more on my agenda.  I ran through the campground to the west end of the Burlingame/Kettle Pond trail connector.  There is a nice kiosk here showing the trails.  However, I got confused due to scorched earth (recent bulldozer activity) and ended up not on the trail.  No bid deal - I'll just bushwhack over to where the trail should be.  Problem - it took way longer to connect.  My body was getting scratched up.  I finally reached not the trail I thought I was aiming for, but I at least knew where I was.  Checking my watch, I was already going longer than I anticipated and I still was almost two miles from my car.  Plus I wanted to run out to the Kettle Pond lookout tower.  I ditched that plan and just made my way back.  Sanctuary Road feels so long when you are tired and hungry.  Total time: 1:23:04. 

Weekly Total: 70 miles
Last Week: 54 miles
Year to Date: 2,974 miles
November Total: 194 miles

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Li'l Rhody Runaround 2014

Every once in a while I run a race where I feel that I've truly given it my all.  Often I enter a race in great shape and with lots of quality training under my belt, but feel a little underwhelmed with my result - not necessarily my finishing time, but wondering if I had really "emptied the tank".  I believe this is a flaw in my racing, or at least an area that can be improved upon.  Maybe it isn't realistic for every race, but I certainly see other runners who seem to be better at it than I am.  There's an extremely short list of races that I feel I've achieved this, with the best example being this year's Big River Trail Half Marathon.  I can now add the 2014 Li'l Rhody Runaround to this list. 

I didn't have as many pre-race jitters leading up to this race as usual.  I know that I am faster than last year and expected to better my PR of 48:59.  I thought that 48:30 or maybe even low 48's was possible, but I knew I couldn't be "greedy" and expect minute plus PR's every year.  I also wasn't sure that I put in the consistent speed work that I had been the previous two years.  Most of my workouts take place on trails these days.  Luckily (?), most of my running frenemies would be in attendance.  This will help, but who could I realistically finish ahead of? 

The morning of the race I was still feeling good albeit a little antsy to get started.  I picked up my brother Greg and arrived over an hour early at registration.  Already, the field was looking stacked.  I grabbed my bib and the orange technical singlet I had been anticipating.  The weather was chilly, but great for racing.  A large group of us headed out for a two mile warm up.  My body felt really good.  I returned to my car and stripped down to the orange singlet, shorts, and a hat, and I was ready to start this thing.  I toed the line up front between my brother and Mike Galoob.  Also in attendance were my targets for the day (Bob Jackman, Steve Brightman, Muddy, Ryan Davenport, Chris Garvin) and other surprises like Ben Nephew and Ryan Carrara, and probably others too.  I'm always impressed with the number of fast people who show up for this trail race.  Time to run hard for the next eight miles! 

Front and center at the start.  Photo by Jana Walker. 

The race begins on a gradual down hill on a dirt/gravel road.  The start is always fast and this year was no different.  I tried to find the balance of allowing the adrenaline to propel me without falling victim to early fatigue.  Greg was leading the charge with Galoob a few seconds behind.  There were three guys following him (including Ryan Carrara and Ben Nephew) and then it was myself and Steve Brightman.  I wanted to stay with Steve.  He beat me last year here and ran 48:30.  I made sure to not let him get away, while worrying about going too hard.  We hit the short single track section before the campground.  I was looking for some relief from the hot pace, but no one was letting up.  We popped out into the campground and I passed the first GPS mile in 5:35 - very similar to last year.  I knew there was a train of fast guys right behind me, and this motivated me to not let up.  As we approached the halfway portion of the campground I was gaining on Steve and another unknown runner.  I picked up my pace and went by without saying a word or looking back.  I wanted to appear strong.  I maintained my 5th position as we re-entered the woods.  With Greg, Galoob, Carrara, and Nephew ahead of me, I knew my race was with the people behind me. 

As I ran along this easy straight trail I could feel a runner right on my heels.  I believed it was Bob Jackman.  My goal was to not let anyone pass me at this juncture and I made the necessary surges to stay in front (mile 2 GPS 5:39).  I was anticipating the upcoming technical sections, hoping that would be a strength for me, rather than racing the fast guys on the easier stuff.  I was really pushing and seemed to create a bit of space.  I also was now gaining on Ben Nephew.  This seemed really strange, and I worried I wasn't racing smart, as I was sure he was.  Still I ended up right behind him on the very long bridge section.  I joked to him that the race was now one long bridge (since he hadn't raced here in a few years).  I'm not sure if he acknowledged my admittedly lame attempt at humor.  He seemed to slow even more, and I made the decision to pass once off the bridge.  This was right before Klondike Road.  Passing a trail legend (at least in my mind) seemed crazy and reckless, but again filled me with a rush of adrenaline.  The terrain continued to be challenging, but I was making quick work of the obstacles.  Someone was on my toes again, and I believed it was Bob. 

This section of the race is where things seem to start changing.  I was afraid of hitting the wall, which happened last year.  I tried to push every small up hill and then make sure to not let up on the descents.  I felt like this was working - I was keeping the pack behind me directly off my heels.  GPS Mile 3 - 6:19 and Mile 4 - 6:10.  I reached the water stop and jumped onto Buckeye Brook Road.  I told myself I was feeling better than last year and I was already halfway done.  Still, I didn't like being exposed on this 1/4 mile of road section.  I was sure everyone would catch right back up to me. 

I re-entered the woods and immediately felt a slow down.  That makes sense because of the technical terrain under the ledges, but it is mentally deflating.  Footsteps behind me getting closer again.  I never glanced back, but since I didn't recognize the breathing/footstrikes, I assumed it was Ben Nephew.  This validated my theory that he was running smart and I was foolish for the aggressive start.  I tried to pick it up, carelessly running over anything - jagged rocks, roots, no matter.  I've run this trail a hundred times and never had taken some of the lines I now was running.  I was taking the straightest, shortest route.  I was holding off "Ben", but I felt the inevitable pass coming.  GPS Mile 5 - 6:21.  On the rooty spot before the long climb I was finally passed.  To my surprise it was not Ben, but Chris Garvin!  This made me feel better for some reason.  He is the most disciplined trail racer I know, and the fact that he was only passing me now made me think that I was running really well.  I didn't really expect to finish ahead of him anyway today.  I was still ahead of Ben, Muddy, Jackman, and Brightman.  I couldn't hear anyone else behind me at the time.  I kept Chris close as we climbed the long hill.  I felt rather slow doing this, but somehow Chris and I tied for the Strava segment CR for this hill climb (even 5 seconds faster than Galoob who set the LRR course record today). 

Here comes the 47 minute crew.  Photo by Gail Ornstein.

Finishing up our Strava CR hill climb. Photo by Gail Ornstein.

One more.  Photo by Gail Ornstein.

At the top of the hill my in-laws were there snapping pictures and cheering the runners on. I got to hear how much space I had on the runners behind me, and unfortunately, it wasn't much at all.  This was a low moment mentally.  I vocalized a motivating phrase to myself (it would have been funny if Chris could hear this).  I dug down and pushed onward.  Except for a quick steep descent, the trail is rather flat and even for a bit (GPS Mile 6 - 6:29).  I was determined to stay ahead of whoever was now tracking me down.  Unfamiliar footsteps - must be Ben Nephew for sure this time.  I was happy for the trail to get more technical near Schoolhouse Pond Trail.  I was going to make the trail legend work to pass me, and I continued to take calculated risks over questionable objects.  For as tired as I felt, I knew I was closing in on the end of the trail.  I was proud of myself for holding off Ben at least until we got to the road.  Okay, let's finish this thing.  GPS Mile 7 - 6:37. 

I popped out onto the road with about 3/4 of a mile left.  I could hear Ben's Inov8's slapping on the pavement behind me.  Now I was gaining in confidence.  I knew I could hammer the road home.  I had enough left to do it.  Pretty quickly I could hear a gap developing.  I kept pushing and pushing, especially up the modest hill.  It was here I finally looked at my watch (I did peak at it at the first mile too).  It read 45:30's.  How much was left?  Half a mile? 3 minutes?  I knew I was PR'ing.  Garvin was ahead of me, but never got within striking distance - not that I could go any faster.  The slapping shoes sound had faded and I finally peeked back as I made the turn into the campground to confirm.  I was shocked to see the clock read a tick over 47 minutes when I got a visual.  No way!  But my watch confirmed when I crossed the line (I stopped it late at 47:08, somehow SNERRO had my time as 47:10).  GPS final .75 miles averaged 5:06 pace and my second fastest 1/4 mile recorded by Strava (over 2 years of data) in 67 seconds!! 

Finishing up.  Photo by Jana Walker. 

I was elated!  I knew I had just run one of the best races in my life and somehow knocked off almost 2 minutes from my great performance last year.  It doesn't seem possible.  After holding off the initial impulse to throw up, I gathered my breathing and watched the finish behind me.  Muddy was right after me - it wasn't Ben.  In fact, I learned afterwards that it was Muddy gaining on me on the final mile or so in the woods.  After the amount of time we've spent running in the woods together, I can't believe I didn't recognize him.  There was a sizeable gap and then Ben finished with Jackman right on his heels.  Brightman was another minute back. 

31 runners finished sub 56 minutes.  What a stacked field! 

  I continued to chat with other runners and watch friends and family finish up their races.  I then joined another big group on a 2.5 mile cool down run.  I then was beginning to bonk.  I ate some soup which helped and hung out with my kids during the awards.  It was then time to meet back up at my house for celebration. 

Me and my son.  Photo by Gail Ornstein.

Post race thoughts:

I still get excited days later thinking about the race.  My time this year was faster than everyone's time last year (a field that included Ryan Woolley, Mike Galoob, and Chris Garvin) except my brother's. 

Speaking of Mike, I didn't realize that he had set the course record.  I thought it was 44:05, but that was done when the race was 7.9 miles long and in the other direction. 

On the trail conditions topic - it was a great day weather-wise, and trail-wise no doubt, but erosion over time cannot be discounted.  The trail is not getting faster over time (despite the increased amount of bridges - I don't feel like I can even run them as fast as the terrain below them), it is the runners getting faster. 

Running an 8 mile race with the first two miles in the 5:30's and the final mile in the low 5's makes me think I have an excellent shot of a sub 17 minute 5K before the end of the year.  Might have to be a track time trial, but I should do it. 

Can't wait for the first race next month in the 4th Season winter trail race series! 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Recovery Week: 11-3-14 to 11-9-14

Monday: 0 - sick day.  My chest cold has moved into my head as well and even if it wasn't the day after the road half, there was going to be no running today. 

Tuesday: 0 - sick day again.  Not feeling terrible, but running didn't make much sense. 

Wednesday: 8 miles - East Greenwich roads and trails alone.  I decided I needed to run today.  Yesterday I stumbled upon the Frenchtown Park / Frye Nature Preserve looking for a nearby playground for my kids on their election day off.  We hiked around the mill remains and pond, but there was a map showing more trails.  I thought I would explore in there and then run down the road a bit and explore another potential small trail system (Briggs/Boesch Farm).  I did not feel great as I began my run.  My body felt tired and my lungs still not fresh.  I pushed on and after a mile of roads, jumped into the Frenchtown Park trail system.  The trails were more technical (with rocks) than I anticipated which was cool.  The tough part was the amount of leaves on the trails.  I had on my Nike Frees and could not get any traction at all.  Still I was pleased with the 3.5 miles or so I ran in there.  I then ran down the road to Briggs Farm.  They have a nice map of the trail system (on an active farm), but I got confused instantly.  The main trail had cattle on both sides and then there seemed to be a new wire across the main path.  Was I supposed to stop there?  I wasn't sure and the cattle were getting all excited as I ran by.  I decided to turn around and head back on the roads to my car.  Total time: 1:00:27 with 416' of elevation gain. 

Thursday: 10 miles - dirt hill workout alone in the cold November rain.  My health continued to improve.  The weather was dreary so I opted  to stay warm by running hills.  I ran trails in Cuttyhunk and then made my way over to Pardon Joslin Rd to my favorite unimproved dirt road hill.  I pushed the downhill and then turned around and ran back up at a challenging pace.  I did this 4 times.  I had to keep squeezing the water out of my shirt as it felt cold and heavy on my chest.  It seemed too cold to not wear it however.  This was a hard workout, but super rewarding to complete.  Felt epic in a way to be all alone in the woods running up and down this giant hill in the rain.  Total time: 1:14:43 with 1,260' of elevation gain. 

Friday: 10 miles - Rome Point shoreline (6 miles) plus some trails and roads alone.  Full moon and the low tide was corresponding to my usual lunch run time.  I decided to run the coastline around Rome Point south past Plum Beach.  One day I want to make it all the way to Casey Point.  I don't know if this is possible.  Today I made it pretty far, but inevitably faced a roadblock.  The low tide was -.3 feet.  I need to check other full moons to see if it goes even lower. Also, wind direction may help.  Oh, and getting my feet completely wet.  We'll see.  It was chilly out there today and rather quiet.  Another run with an epic feel to it.  Fun stuff!  Total time: 1:18:42. 

Saturday: 16 miles on two runs.  First was a sunrise trail run in Arcadia with Muddy and Matty P.  I mapped out a loop that included some new to me trails/dirt roads, but parts of the Breakheart, Escoheag, and Mtn Tom trails too.  It was chilly at the start (27 degrees) and my chest was feeling crappy again (cold coming back?).  The pace was peppy at times (on the dirt roads) and slow on the technical stuff (lots of leaves).  I enjoyed the long big climb up Austin Farm Rd to the top of Escoheag Hill.  We also had decent climbs up Penny Hill and Mt Tom.  We returned to our cars with some time to spare so we bagged a couple of more easy miles on wide trails.  Total time: 1:44:04 with 1,090' of elevation gain.  I then drove my kids to karate in Westerly and on to the twins' 1st birthday party in New Hampshire.  I snuck out with my brother Greg just before sunset for a short run up Daniels Mountain to Moon Ledge.  This was an awesome spot.  The trail up sucked because of all the leaves and it was so damn steep.  Greg had terrible road shoes with zero traction and fell often.  The views from Moon Ledge are awesome.  On the way back down I watched Greg slip about 20' on his butt.  He got up and then disappeared down the trail.  It was getting dark at this point, but I stayed on course.  Total time: 20 minutes with 527' of elevation gain. 

Sunday: 10 miles on two runs.  I spent the morning outside doing yard work, and when I finished I decided to bag a few miles doing home trail loops.  The weather was awesome.  The loops went well.  My times (3 laps = 1 mile) were good, and it got my kids to run around in the woods while I did them.  My daughter insisted I do a 10th lap.  Total time: 23:56.  Although not terribly exciting, the terrain is actually pretty gnarly with small ups and downs and tight turns.  Not bad trail racing practice.  In the afternoon we packed the kids' bikes in the car and met another family down in Ninigret.  This was time for my normal run of the day.  I wasn't feeling too inspired to run by myself here, but then I checked Strava for some segment motivation.  Hmm.  I could do the Arnolda loop (just under 2 miles) and then the bike circuit loop (.9 miles).  Mix in a warm up, recovery, and cool down, and the time should pass rather quickly.  I wasn't sure how fast I would be.  My cold was still "coming back" and my body was tired from all the previous days' running.  Still I gave it my best shot.  The Arnolda loop was first and it felt long.  It was really hard, but I was pleased to see that I averaged 5:37 pace and set the CR.  It took me some time to recover as I jogged passed the family to see if they were still having fun (yes!).  I made my way onto the bike loop.  There were a couple of soccer games going on and I wondered if anyone would recognize the bald bearded man sprinting around the bike track.  I reached the start of the segment (NW corner) and just let my legs go.  I felt much faster than on the Arnolda loop.  Parts of this loop were tough, especially when I was running into the wind.  I finished strong and was surprised at my finishing time (well under five minutes).  When I uploaded the data I had run the .9 miles in 4:34 (good for 5 minute flat average pace) and the CR.  Total time for the 7.1 miles was 47:09. 

Overall: Great week considering the two sick days to start and never feeling 100% healthy for the duration.  Li'l Rhody next Sunday, so another easy week on tap. 

Weekly Total: 54 miles
Last Week: 59 miles
Year to Date: 2,850 miles
November Total: 70 miles

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Gansett Half Marathon: Week of 10-27-14 to 11-2-14

I was bummed about missing out on the Mayor's Cup XC race last Sunday (10/25) when I began thinking about jumping into another race the following weekend.  A neighbor had been talking to me about the Gansett Half Marathon, but I had dismissed it as too expensive.  But besides the price, it should be a fast course and a great chance to put up a half marathon road time that I would be proud of (I've never run one before on roads).  I then sent out a couple of feeler texts to gauge other people's opinions about the idea.  After their feedback I was convinced this was a good race to try.  I registered on Tuesday. 

My week of running went well.  I snuck in a longish run on Monday and a XC workout with Galoob on Tuesday.  Then I tapered.  There were just two things working against me for a great race on Sunday: the weather and my health.  The weather initially looked good when I signed up - sunny and high 40's with some wind.  The reality was that it was going to be very windy (high wind advisory), cold (high 30's), and wet.  I awoke on Saturday feeling a little under the weather.  No bid deal, just a minor cold from my son, but it was in my chest.  I was not thrilled with the idea of running in the cold damp air with a chest cold.  I hoped the race might get cancelled.  I had a poor attitude. 

Sunday morning, and the weather may have been worse in Narragansett than advertised.  The rain was "stuck" over that portion of the state, and it was cold enough for snow to be mixing in.  The sustained winds weren't too bad, but there were incredible gusts from the north northwest.  The course mostly runs north to south and then back.  The second half of the race would be brutal.  I still had the chest cold thing going on.  I told my neighbor that I was 50/50 about going and I might need to be talked into or out of it.  She replied with this text: "My friends say we are New Englanders running in November and to buck up."  For some reason this worked.  My attitude improved and I got ready to race, including a five minute shake out run to test my legs, lungs, and how cold it really was (cold!). 

I arrived at registration about an hour early.  I didn't need to even go inside since I had picked up my bib at Camire's the day before (good excuse to get fish tacos at El Fuego), but hanging out in my car alone didn't seem appealing.  I packed up my bag with my seven wardrobe possibilities and two pairs of shoes and ran inside the inn.  The place was packed, but I wasn't seeing anybody I recognized.  I wiggled my way over to the far corner and claimed my spot. 

To backtrack a bit, I had some goals coming into this race.  Before the gloomy weather forecast, I had the following time goals: (A) sub 1:18 or better, (B) 1:18:30ish (6 minute flat average pace), (C) sub 1:20.  I really felt that I should have no trouble attaining (B), unless I did something stupid.  I was hoping for (A), and thought I had a great shot at it.  My revised goals that morning were to still go sub 1:20, but hopefully place in the top 3 (cash prizes).  I figured that the crappy weather would keep away some fair weather fast runners, and that with my trail experience and my run year round no matter the conditions training, I had a shot. 

Back inside pre-race, I finally saw someone I recognized - Derek Jakoboski.  Damn.  No chance of beating him.  Still I felt pretty confident as I scanned the crowd for other fast looking runners.  At 35 minutes to go, I headed out into the elements for a warm up.  I was cold for the first few minutes, but did warm up.  I ran along the open roads near the town beach, and got to practice running into the stiff wind.  It was terrible.  I then veered off into the woods on the Canonchet Farm Trail.  I turned around after 3/4 of a mile and returned to the inn.  It was very warm and stuffy in there.  I decided to bail on wearing tights and switch to shorts, which were still in my car.  Ugh!  More running and changing.  I wore a warm long sleeve underneath my new long sleeve WTAC tech shirt, hat, and gloves.  I switched shoes at the last minute, opting for the comfort of Nike Free 3.0's versus the lighter untested Fly Knits.  Time to line up.  Way too cold, so more running while I waited, until 2 minutes to spare.  I ducked into the crowd for body warmth.  Lots of BAA jerseys up front, and many fast looking women.  Hopefully I would not be running alone today.  I toed the line for the siren. 

I took it out very relaxed at the start.  My plan was to not go too fast, and try to stick to an almost 6 minute mile.  I executed it perfectly, but for some reason Derek (in particular) and others were starting even slower.  I was leading the race and it shouldn't be happening.  I kept checking my watch to make sure I wasn't messing up, but I was consistently in the high 5's.  Finally, as the course veered north (into the wind) on a small hill (Earles Court), Derek pulled up along side of me.  We passed mile 1 in 5:58.  I was happy to run on his back shoulder to let him do the work into the wind.  Still it was tough going.  The course then turned west for a cone turnaround (following the Super 5K course so far), and a BAA runner caught up to us.  We ran together for most of the 2nd mile, passing it in 6:01.  That seemed good considering most of it was into the wind.  Derek then picked up the pace.  I did not have any delusions of sticking with him, and instead stuck to my pace that I had settled in to.  It felt manageable, but I was disappointed my legs (or more precisely lower core muscles) didn't feel that great already.  Was this lingering fatigue from NipMuck? 

I was now solidly in third place.  My feet and clothes were already soaked, but I wasn't cold.  In fact, as we turned left onto Rte 108, the wind was pushing from the side and behind, and I debated taking off my hat.  I passed mile 3 in 6:05.  Hmm.  I continued down Rte 108 following 2nd place by about 10 seconds.  The course then veers left again on a side street (Clarke Road).  Someone was gaining behind me (another BAA guy).  With the wind at my back and a slight downhill mile, my pace seemed quick.  Oh well.  I figured this guy was going to catch me soon.  Still, I passed the mile 4 marker in 5:56, as the light rain switched to snow here.  Soon I turned right onto Ocean Road, where there were many volunteers, port-o-potties, and photographers.  It was nice to get support.  Mile 5 was a peppy 5:55, thanks to the wind.  Mile 6 was tough.  It was very open on Ocean Rd, passing Scarborough Beach.  The wind was from the side and gusty.  I was passed here by the BAA guy who had been stalking me the last two miles.  I was now in 4th place overall.  I distracted myself by taking a GU.  Mile 6 came in at a slow 6:10.  Mile 7 (6:06) was lonely, except for the Ocean Rd, Rte 108 intersection that had a few volunteers and spectators.  I wasn't happy being alone and continued to be exposed to the nasty elements. 

I was now nearing the Point Judith Lighthouse turnaround.  I passed Derek who was firmly in first place, and then the two BAA guys.  I made my turn and then was greeted with a horrifying head wind.  My tech hat (which fits tightly) almost blew off my head and I had to turn and look to my right hand side to avoid being straight into the wind.  It was deflating.  I pushed harder than ever.  Why not?  Over halfway done now.  I could see how close 5th place was to me (another BAA guy!) and also the top 2 females.  This may have contributed to my increased effort as well.  Still, 5th place moved up to my back shoulder by the time I passed the 8 mile marker (6:11).  I continued to break the wind (heading NE into the NNW wind) for this guy and knew exactly what he was up to.  I let him draft off me for a half mile or so, before deliberately slowing down and tucking behind him.  I told him it was his turn, which he said he was happy to do.  We were actually catching up to 3rd place at this point.  I was getting excited (mile 9 - 6:17).  It became obvious that the guy I was running with was slowing down.  I wanted to keep 3rd place close, so I quickened my pace and retook the wind-breaking position.  The guy I was with fell off my pace, and by the time I reached mile 10 (6:15), I had gapped him by a few seconds.  What a miserable stretch though, again running by Scarborough Beach. 

I now focused on 3rd place as I began the "climb" up Ocean Road.  5K left.  I was going to be able to finish this thing in decent shape.  I took a second GU.  I didn't know if it would help with the race, but again it was a distraction from the wind.  The hill was tough and then there was little relief the rest of the way.  Wind gusts would cripple my pace to a crawl.  The guy in 3rd place seemed to put some distance on me, but I was increasing my lead on 5th place.  It was turning into no man's land.  Mile 11 was a hilly windy 6:27!  Ditto for Mile 12 (6:20).  Just over a mile left now.  I increased my effort, but the wind seemed to increase when I reached the seawall.  I was not catching 3rd place, and kept glancing back to see if I was going to be caught from behind (nope).  I was annoyed with the traffic.  I then reached the 13 mile marker (6:11).  Time to sprint, but the wind gusted one more time through the towers that again almost took my hat away.  38s final .1 and I crossed the line in 1:20:37.  I was done!  I congratulated the guys who finished ahead of me and the guy behind me.  Soon the top women finished.  I need to get inside as I was cooling off and soaking wet.  I was the first runner back inside the inn.  I quickly changed into dry clothes and then chatted with others until the buffet opened up.  I had to wait around for a while to get my age group award (top 30-39 finisher) and then headed home. 

Results here

Even though I missed my finishing and time goals I was happy with this race.  The conditions were really tough.  My shoes and clothes were soaked the entire time.  I battled a headwind for half the race (it seemed liked more than that!).  I was slightly under the weather (my cold got worse on Monday).   Finishing 4 minutes behind Derek seems about right (he finished 4 minutes ahead of me in a 10 mile trail race earlier this year).  I'll take it, but I'll need to run another road half someday to prove I can run sub 1:18. 

Week in a glance:

Monday: 13 miles - Saunderstown mix of roads, trails, beach, and hills in 1:31:07 with 830' of climbing. 

Tuesday: 9 miles - XC workout at Curtis Corner fields and trails with Galoob.  4 x 1200 (estimated) repeats which included a decent little hill and plenty of grass.  Results: 3:52/4:00/3:58/3:56.  We then did 6 x 15 or 16 second field sprints.  Total time 1 hour with 414' of elevation gain. 

Wednesday: 9 miles - Quonset Bike Path and Calf Pasture Point alone in 77 minutes. 

Thursday: 5.5 miles - Ryan Park trails (west side) alone.  Nice and easy in 43:38. 

Friday: 6.5 miles - Beavertail roads alone.  I parked at Mackeral Cove and ran to Beavertail and back.  My effort felt easy and I was averaging 6:50 pace.  Feeling good.  43 minutes (6.3 miles). 

Saturday: 0 - chest cold beginning, took it easy. 

Sunday: 16 miles - Gansett Half Marathon with 3 miles of shakeout and warm up.  No cool down. 

Weekly Total: 59 miles
Last Week: 70 miles
Year to Date: 2,796 miles
October Total: 268 miles

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Week in Review: 10-20-14 to 10-26-14

Finally my body is feeling recovered from the marathon and biking.  I decided to celebrate by beating it back into submission last week. 

Monday: 11 miles - long hilly road tempo solo.  Unplanned workout.  I was feeling so good at the start, and my pace was peppy without too much exertion.  I began from the park and ride on Rte 2 in East Greenwich.  My plan was to run roads today and mix in some long hills.  I mapped a course that included 3 miles up, 1 mile down, 1.5 miles up and then turnaround.  The weather was cool, but perfect for running.  By the time I crested the first hill at three miles, I had a good pace going, and decided to keep it up.  The second hill (on Bates Trail) was new to me, and seemed way longer than I remembered from the map.  I was really pushing myself up this hill, knowing that it was mostly down hill once I finished it.  The way back was fun.  I didn't settle for easy descents, instead I worked them.  My last two miles dropped to the 5:40's and 5:30's.  I put a good amount of effort into this run, but certainly there was more in the tank.  This definitely put the idea of running a road half marathon in my head.  Total time: 1:08:46 with 726' of climbing.  Average pace: 6:14.  GAP: 6:06. 

Tuesday: 10 miles - middle Big River trails alone.  Fun run with some exploration.  I was feeling tired from yesterday's workout and decided the mellow trails in the middle of Big River would be perfect.  There are some hills, but the trails are mostly smooth, and definitely not technical.  After getting confused for a bit between Hopkins Hill Rd and the Cardi Rd, I popped out of the woods and reentered on the Sizzler single track.  I made my way north and then remembered seeing a faint trail off to the north after Sizzler peters out to the west.  I took it and hoped I could figure it out.  I thought there was a loop segment somewhere, but was worried I was wrong, or there would be other trails to get confused on.  Well I found it - the mtn bikers call it Archie Says.  There was no evidence of any recent use, and with all the fallen leaves, the trail was barely still visible.  It's a fun loop, and one I will probably incorporate into my routine.  I returned via the more straight wide trail to the Cardi Rd.  I then ran some more trails, finally returning up the hill via the new single track.  Total time: 1:20:13. 

Wednesday: 8 miles - Ryan Park trails alone.  Workout Wednesday?  Sort of.  It was a crappy weather day and I needed some inspiration to get out the door.  I decided to head over to Ryan, a favorite rainy running spot, and try my luck at two new segments in the park: one I tried before NipMuck that is .8 miles on the wide dirt/gravel lane through the fields (no GPS match) and the other is a 3.3 mile loop of the main trails around the pond including Oak Hill Road (paved).  I've never done this loop.  I figured I would warm up for a mile or two on single track, then run this long loop at a CR pace (I needed to be in the low 7's), then run the field segment hard back to my car.  I ended up running a 20 minute warm up before beginning the long loop segment.  I tried to just run smart, taking advantage of the road section (which has a steep descent).  I ran the loop in 21:40, good for a 6:40 average pace, and the CR.  I then recovered for a few minutes before embarking on the field segment.  I ran this fast, not as fast as my attempt a few weeks ago, but ended up averaging 5:41 pace and grabbed the CR.  I ran a mile cool down before calling it a day.  Total time: 56:31. 

Thursday: 11 miles - SK road/trail mix with Galoob.  I knew I may be in for some trouble based on how my legs were feeling and the fact that I was meeting Mike for a run.  We kept the pace peppy throughout this fun jaunt through trails, the bike path, and neighborhood roads.  We even ran a short powerline section that had just been cut.  Literally we were running on top of brier stubs.  It was fun talking about XC racing (I was assuming at this point I was racing the Mayor's Cup on Sunday).  The miles on pavement were in the 6:40's with a 6:20 finish.  Total time: 1:12:54. 

Friday: 8.5 miles - Carter Preserve trails alone.  This was just the spot to keep the pace easy, but the fun high.  I had the place to myself.  Total time: 1:07:28.  In other news, it looks like Sunday's race will be a no go for me. 

Saturday: 16.5 miles - Tillinghast Pond - Wickaboxet trails with Muddy and Matty P.  I quickly made a plan to run with Muddy in the morning and I've been hoping to show him these trails for a while.  I then decided to reach out to Matty P, who lives nearby these trails, to see if he wanted to join us.  He was in too, except that he only was looking for 45 minutes or so as he continues his Hartford Marathon victory recovery.  We met up at 7AM and ran a fun loop on these relatively easy trails with lively conversation.  We dropped off Matty P after 48 minutes and then headed back out towards Wickaboxet.  We detoured off the well marked trail system to check out Rattlesnake Ledge.  After briefly getting off track coming back down, we re-followed the blazed trail.  We then took the white trail into the Pratt Preserve which had a good sized hill, and at the end, followed it back down.  We then ran the north segment of the trail system, finishing up on the scenic Logging Trail.  Total running time of 2:15:09 with 783' of climbing.  No fuel either, which meant a stop at D&D on the way home for donuts and more coffee. 

Sunday: 5 miles - local roads to Schoolhouse Pond and back alone.  I had a short window to run before we met up with family for the rest of the day and after my wife's morning run with a friend.  My goal was just to grab some easy miles to get 70 for the week.  I ran roads to Schoolhouse Pond, which includes almost 2 miles on dirt, and back.  Total time: 36:36. 

Overall: Great week.  I needed Monday's run to feel fast again.  Sometimes the roads are good for that.  You just can't tell your fitness using GPS data on the trails.  My new plan is to possibly run a longer road race this fall.  I'm feeling confident about Li'l Rhody Runaround on 11/16. 

Weekly Total: 70 miles
Last Week: 64 miles
Year to Date: 2737 miles
October Total: 225 miles

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

NipMuck Recovery, Block Island Getaway, and Maine: 10-6-14 to 10-19-14

Catching up on the last two weeks:

Monday 10/6: 0 - recovery day from the marathon.  My running parts felt okay, but soreness in my feet and lower core.  I hiked down to the bay at Rome Point and then soaked my feet in the cool salt water for fifteen minutes.  I then hiked back on the wooded single track.  2.2 miles of walking. 

Tuesday 10/7: 0 - recovery day #2.  Feeling better and better.  Today I went to Wilson Park and played basketball by myself for an hour.  It was windy which made my rusty shot worse, but it was very fun.  The high school kids who showed up near the end didn't ask me to play, which I was kind of hoping for.  I guess I looked too old.  I wore my watch and accumulated 2.7 miles shooting around on one end of a court.  More than I thought! 

Wednesday 10/8: 8.5 miles - Rome Point mostly shoreline out and back alone.  I was inspired by my conversation with Mike earlier in the morning about his Block Island lunar low tide ride he was planning.  The tide today was low in Wickford at 3PM.  I wanted to see how far south I could run along the NK shoreline.  I parked at Rome Point and took some trails to the shore along Bissell Cove.  I then ran the gnarly shoreline around Rome Point and south under the Jamestown Bridge.  Despite the low tide, there was an unusual amount of wave action in this part of the bay.  I made my way south along the rocks and sand beaches, but it wasn't as exposed as I hoped.  I also had to get my feet wet in the waves a few times.  I finally reached a steep cliff side that I could not run under (this is the usual low tide roadblock).  I turned around and trudged back.  Tough running, but fun adventure.  Total time: 1:12:47. 

Thursday 10/9: 9 miles - Big River trails alone.  Today's run was inspired by Garvin's record breaking Lego segment run the evening before.  Even though my body was still recovering, I had the urge to try running fast.  My goal was to also run the Lego segment hard and beat my own PR (3rd place overall behind Garvin and Galoob).  I parked at Greasy Joe's and ran up the road to Pickle Park to run the 95 single track back to my car.  My mind was feeling good, but my legs were still heavy.  No matter.  I was still going to push them.  I then reached the Lego start (a long twisty single track trail that is about 3 and 3/4 miles long in my opinion).  Right away the quickened pace felt hard on my legs and not maintainable.  I wasn't going all out, and didn't really feel that fast.  This trail always takes forever.  I felt like I did a good job throughout and was pleased to see I lowered my PR by 22 seconds (23:29).  I was toast though!  I dragged myself around part of Dead Shed and then some other single track, finishing up on Foster's Folly.  Total time: 1:06:31.  Not ready for prime time yet. 

Friday 10/10: 10 miles - DuVal trails alone.  Coming off my two recent races, I felt like I had the right to not worry about training smart for the next week or two and just do whatever I want.  That meant more segment sprinting today.  It was a beautiful afternoon before a long weekend, so naturally everyone in the office left early.  I drove to the graveyard and began my run there.  My legs still felt trashed.  I ran for about 2 miles and then decided to go for the CR on the Bull Head Lollipop segment that Garvin took from me recently.  I knew the time to beat and that I needed to push myself very hard.  That's what I did.  It's mostly downhill on the way out and I was flying.  I then reached the end loop which is hilly and awkward.  I tried not to lose much time here.  The way back out was brutal. I was already tired, but now running uphill.  I knew Garvin probably paced himself and finished strong, so I tried to dig deep.  My watch showed a CR time, but you never know how the GPS matches up until later, which I found that I did get the CR.  Garvin seemed agitated, so I'm not expecting to keep this one for long.  I also don't think I can run it any faster.  Anyway, I recovered for a couple of more miles, taking the main trail out to Red House Road.  Then I ran the long segment (my guess is 2 miles) back hard, hoping to better my PR from two years ago (again 3rd place behind Galoob and Garvin).  I pushed the hills, both up and down very well.  I was stoked to see my time as 11:52, but somehow GPS had it as 30 seconds slower at 12:22.  Frustrating!  I still would be in 3rd place, but much closer to the other guys.  Fun nonetheless.  Total time: 1:12:23 with 726' of climbing. 

Saturday 10/11: 14.5 miles - Burlingame trails with Muddy.  We waited out the rain and ran in the middle of the afternoon from my house.  We had two things to do on this run: check out the new single track cut by NEMBA, and check out the bathroom situation at the picnic area.  The fun part was all the trails to and from both and the new trail is really fun to boot.  We kept the pace lively (NipMuck pace?) throughout.  Total time: 1:52:37 with 781' of climbing. 

Sunday: 10/12: 0 - Block Island 10th anniversary getaway with my wife.  We took the early ferry ride over with bikes and hopefully everything we needed for a couple of days on the island.  Riding a bike around the island was super fun, even with saddle bags and a backpack.  We road along the coast to Black Rock Beach, where we hiked down to the shore.  After hanging out there we rode north to New Harbor for lunch at The Oar.  We had to hustle out of there to check into our place by 1PM, finally getting tired on the bike, especially going up hills.  10 miles total riding on the day.  We opted to get a taxi at night into town for dinner (Mohegan CafĂ©) rather than more biking. 

Black Rock Beach
The Barn

Weekly Total: 42 miles (+15 miles cross training)
Last Week: 57 miles
Year to Date: 2603 miles
October Total: 91 miles

Monday 10/13: 5 miles - Block Island early morning mix.  I awoke to the early light and headed out at sunrise to run a loop I hoped I could complete.  I ran down to the shoreline and then ran east.  The beach was not easy terrain - thick sand and large rocks and debris.  I ran for two miles and then backtracked after I realized I missed the trail climb through the bluffs I was looking for.  Luckily the trail (with a rope) did exist and I was now on trails in Rodman's Hollow.  I was feeling pressure to return, so I picked up my pace as I navigated north to the road.  It was all uphill!  Finally, I reached the road and hammered back (half paved, half dirt) the last two miles in low 6 minute pace.  Total time: 36:19. 

Sunrise along the bluffs during my run

We then biked to breakfast (diner at the airport) and then the north end of the island.  We wanted to hike in the maze, but had trouble finding it.  After our 10 miles of biking we located the trailhead (Clay Head Trail).  We hiked north along the top of the bluffs with incredible views and nice foliage in the shrubbery.  The maze was to our left, but we left that for the return back.  From one spot, we saw a pair of peregrine falcons flying in and around the bluffs.  We reached the end of the trail at a boarded up building that had views of the lighthouse.  We then noticed something really strange in the water - a large headed seal with a very big ray in it's mouth!  Luckily we had binoculars and watched this spectacle for the next 15 minutes.  I'm pretty sure based on the size and head structure that it was a hooded seal.  It eventually ripped off the "wings" of the ray and ate them.  We then walked back, this time exploring the maze.  I was beginning to bonk, and used my GPS to "cheat".  We made it out rather directly. 

We then rode back into town starving.  Everything was closing for the season, but luckily we stumbled upon a sandwich place still open.  We then loaded up on groceries to make dinner back at our place and had to ride again.  8 more miles riding on the day. 

Tuesday 10/14: 14 miles - Burlingame trails alone.  We had to take the early ferry back in the morning which meant one more ride (4.5 miles).  Once at home, I had time in the early afternoon to run before we greeted the kids at the bus.  I ran in Burlingame from my house, keeping a peppy pace throughout hitting up my favorite single track.  Great run.  Total time: 1:46:35 with 849' of climbing. 

Wednesday 10/15: 10 miles - Ryan Park trails alone.  Felt good on this run and again ran at a good pace.  Total time: 1:11:47. 

Thursday 10/16: 10 miles - Cuttyhunk and nearby trails alone.  Pouring rain.  Miserable conditions.  Great running fun!  Total time: 1:21:01 with 766' of climbing. 

Friday 10/17: 8 miles - 3 x 1 grass mile repeats along the Quonset bike path alone.  Ugh.  This workout was a bummer.  I felt like I had bided my time after the marathon and after the shock of biking to begin regular workouts again.  My next big race on the radar is Li'l Rhody, and as a tune up, I plan on doing a XC 5K race on 10/26 (Mayor's Cup).  I did a local XC 5K last year and it was fun.  Today, I wanted to practice grass running at 5K pace.  My hope for was for 5:30's.  I went to the Quonset bike path to use its measured miles and I knew I could run the grass along the side of it.  As I warmed up on the actual path, I noticed the grass looked thick and uncut.  This was going to be challenging!  I ran two miles with some strides and then began my first mile (uphill/flat/downhill).  My lungs were burning early on, but I liked my pace on my watch.  Then my pace got slower and the mile felt harder.  The grass miles were measuring a little long, which made sense, so I was just going to wait and see what my average pace was for each and use that time.  My plan was 2 minutes rest between each, but I had to use the bathroom in the woods after the first one.  The second one was in the opposite direction which has a little longer uphill in the beginning.  My pace on my watch never looked good to me and I was struggling aerobically again.  This was terrible!  I jogged for 2 minutes and then ran the same mile location as the first one.  I knew I was going slower, but at least I was on the last one.  Results: 5:41/5:46/5:52.  At least my Grade Adjusted Pace looked better: 5:36/5:35/5:45.  Here's Strava's discussion about GAP:

Grade Adjusted Pace (GAP)

Grade Adjusted Pace estimates an equivalent pace when running on flat land, allowing the runner to compare hilly and flat runs more easily. Because running uphill requires extra effort, the Grade Adjusted Pace will be faster than the actual pace run. When running downhill, the Grade Adjusted Pace will be slower than the actual pace.
The adjustment generally becomes larger as the grade steepens, although research has shown that the downhill adjustment peaks around -20%, after which it becomes slightly less extreme. Grade Adjusted Pace does not account for terrain differences or the technical difficulty of running downhill. The calculation of Grade Adjusted Pace is inspired by work done by C.T.M Davies and Alberto Minetti studying the effects of grade on the energy cost of running. 

Total time: 56:52. 

Saturday 10/18: 9.5 miles - Burlingame trails with Jeff and Mike B.  Early morning group run to scout the Vin Gormley trail conditions for next month's race.  We began in the dark at 6:30AM.  It didn't get light out until we reached Klondike Road, but I was happy no one fell.  Fun chatting with the guys and the course seems to be in good shape.  We detoured on the new trail cut where we ran into a female bow hunter.  Total time: 1:19:02. 

Sunday 10/19: 7.5 miles - Prouts Neck coastline singletrack repeats with Brett and family.  We drove up to Maine Saturday morning and stayed with our close friends who live in the Portland area.  After the ladies ran in the morning, Brett, myself, and two others drove to Prouts Neck in nearby Scarborough.  There was a Strava segment here that called itself single track that Brett thought would be really interesting.  After finally finding a public place to park (Ferry Beach) we ran the mile of roads to the trail head.  We then broke up at that point, with a plan to meet back up at the car.  I wanted to hammer this trail, maybe a couple of times if it was fun.  It was more fun and amazing than I realized!  It was single track with jagged rocks up on a bluff overlooking a rocky coastline.  Sometimes you had to run across a rocky beach.  There were quick ups and downs and tight turns.  There was a high danger factor.  It was awesome!  I completed the first one and then jogged for two minutes.  I then headed back out in the opposite direction, a wee bit slower this time.  I got to see the other guys and was happy to see they were having fun (although they thought it was really hard to run on this type of terrain).  After finishing up, I jogged again for two minutes, and headed back out one more time.  This time, I began a little slower, but finished strong.  I was interested to see which one would be faster (1st or 3rd) and I ran them in 7:38/7:39.  My GPS measured the trail as 1 and 1/4 miles long and I think it was a little longer than that.  I think my 2nd repeat (opposite direction) was about 8 minutes.  I then jumped onto the beach and ran the two miles back to the car.  Total time: 46:48. 

Weekly Total: 64 miles (+23 miles cross training)
Last Week: 42 miles
Year to Date: 2667 miles
October Total: 155 miles

Thursday, October 9, 2014

NipMuck Trail Marathon 2014

Not sure how to begin to describe the roller coaster of an experience the 2014 NipMuck Trail Marathon was for me.  The end result was a fast time and a memorable event.  But am I happy about it?  Was there too much pre-race nervousness, too much in-race pain, and too many post-race questions? 

Planning to do this race was a no brainer after last year's surprising 2nd place finish.  The race went outrageously well for me at a distance I didn't have confidence in.  The weather was terrible, and it was highly probable this year the weather would be better.  I've been faster in all repeat trail races this year as well.  Plus the experience of knowing the trail would be to my benefit.  Muddy was also running the race, so I knew that I would most likely have someone to race with, pushing the pace throughout, rather than running all alone.  I didn't have a fixed time goal.  I knew I should be a few minutes faster this year.  Could I knock off eight minutes to get to 3:30? 

I felt like I prepared well for the race.  I knew my fueling strategy, acclimated to my new shoes (the 1 ounce lighter Nike Terra Kiger 2.0's), and tapered appropriately.  Mentally, I was more nervous than I've been for recent races.  Last year, I had low expectations, but this year I was expecting a lot out of myself.  I was anxious all week.  I couldn't wait to get the race over with. 

My bag was packed for my 5AM wake up and I even managed to sleep okay.  I wolfed down my normal pre-long run D&D meal and then carpooled with Seth and Muddy to Ashford, CT.  We arrived about an hour early.  Most of the hour before the start was spent in Seth's car fidgeting.  It was cold - about 45 degrees.  Finally I headed out for two short jogs, just to loosen everything up.  Things felt good, and I was now focused on having a great day in the woods.  With 10 minutes to go, I wandered down to the pre-race meeting still wearing a long sleeve jacket and hat.  Just before the start,  I stripped down to just my WTAC singlet (I debated keeping the hat).  I lined up front, noticing a shirtless Sam Jurek.  I was pretty sure he would win, but you never know with these things.  Time to go....

Race photo of the start

I was very deliberate on the road climb up to the trail, but I found myself up front.  I then entered the woods, and I got to be the trail "finder" in the lead.  The blue blazes are numerous,  and good thing.  The trail (like last year) was hidden under a coating of wet leaves.  Sometimes roots and rocks would peek through exposing themselves.  Most times you just found them after stepping awkwardly on them.  Sam latched onto me after a minute or two, but kindly let me lead.  I knew this was probably just his early race strategy, unless the pace was too slow.  I didn't mind leading, since I was dictating the pace I wanted to go, and I could keep tabs on everyone else.  After a few minutes of silence, he began chatting with me.    The conversation (about running) was fun, and helped pass the time on the early miles.  Occasionally on turns I would notice Muddy lurking just a few paces behind us, finally joining us just as we reached the 6.2 mile turnaround. 

Race photo from early on: me focused, Jurek eating, Muddy's shoes lurking

I didn't take any aid and just turned around and headed back north.  I noted my time was two minutes faster than last year.  That seemed perfect.  Muddy had now joined the conversation and the three of us talked as we made the long climb back up, passing runners coming in the opposite direction.  I made sure to take my first GU at about an hour, and sipped water from my small handheld, even though I wasn't thirsty.  The trail already seemed to be drying out.  I remained the leader of our group throughout the return to start/finish area.  Sometimes Sam would get right up on me, and I wondered if he was going to make a move.  I figured he would be content to stay with us for a while based on our time, and his comment about working together for 3 sub 3:30 finishes. 

I took my second GU right before the next aid station at the start/finish area.  I quickly had my handheld refilled with water while I gulped down a small cup of Gatorade.  I then was off, noting the time was 1:31.  This was five minutes ahead of last year and it took me 2:02 to complete the northern out and back then.  Clearly, 3:30 was in play!  I was momentarily excited, but then Sam took the lead on the trail. 

For the next few minutes, I tried to stick with Sam with Muddy in tow.  It was clear the pace was quickening, and finally I accepted that it was time to bid him adieu.  I verbalized this to Muddy, and I was happy that he seemed content to stick with me at a slower pace.  I was already noting signs of fatigue in my feet and lower core.  These are my problem areas on longer technical runs.  Sometimes they pop up and sometimes they don't.  I was not happy that they did today.  This was going to be a struggle! 

We still were making good time, at least compared to my race last year.  We crossed a dirt road in 18 minutes (took 20 minutes last time) and then reached the Iron Mine aid station (didn't stop) in 27 minutes (now three minutes ahead of 2013 pace).  The last few miles out to the Boston Hollow turnaround were now upon us.  I knew this section was hilly, but I may have over estimated it, as it didn't seem that bad to me this year.  That was the only good part.  My feet were aching and I hated the down hills and the rock garden valleys.  At least I had Muddy there to commiserate with.  Complaining was now my distraction technique.  I got a bit impatient anticipating the Boston Hollow staircase to the aid station.  We crossed paths with Sam who stated that he was two minutes up on us.  Right before the stairs I fumbled my GU (#4) and had to stop to pick it up off the ground.  Muddy went ahead of me, and I sort of panicked.  Luckily the stairs are slippery and awkward, so there was no place for him to surge. 

At the aid station I refilled my handheld and sucked down another small Gatorade (or 2?).  I noted the time was 2:31 - seven minutes quicker than 2013.  It took exactly an hour to get here from the start area.  That was two minutes faster than last year, however the split from Iron Mine (34 minutes versus 32) was slower.  We were clearly slowing down.  I figured that I could survive the final seven miles, and minimally better my PR of 3:38.  I wasn't optimistic about a sub hour finish that would get me to 3:30.  Maybe there would be a second wind somewhere? 

I resumed my position in front of Muddy as we struggled our way out of Boston Hollow.  It felt so slow.  And then we began seeing the runners behind us, including Seth in fourth.  I estimated we were only 4 minutes ahead of him, and clearly he was having a great race and ahead of last year's effort.  I was very worried about being caught by him.  More runners went by, all seemingly looking strong, fit, and fast.  More commiseration with Muddy.  Were we doomed?  The only positives were that I was still running and Muddy wasn't surging by me. 

The return to Iron Mine was a real running low for me.  There was no second wind.  Just increased leg pain.  It was taking way too long to reach the aid station.  I was still with Muddy, but I was really worried about being able to finish the race running.  But surely if I walked Seth and others would pass me.  I trudged along with a bad attitude.  Even passing Becky and Crutch didn't give me a mental boost (even though they both had fantastic positive attitudes).  Finally I knew the aid station was near and I ate my last GU (#5).  I really wanted to make a quick stop for the mental break from my misery.  Muddy kept going.  Damn.  I sucked down two small cups of Coke, shook out my legs, and resumed running.  This leg took 32 minutes which really wasn't that bad at all.  At 3:13, I still had a decent PR going.  The end seemed to be in sight. 

Race photo nearing the finish

I made my way on the 1 mile (?) road portion.  I could see Muddy ahead of me, and I thought briefly that there was a chance he would either slow down or I would make headway on the long climb.  This didn't happen.  I fought off urges to quit running on this hill, but it was a grind.  After a short trail section I crossed the final dirt road and noted that it only took 10 minutes.  Only 20 or 21 left!  I tried not to anticipate the finish too much.  My body had long ago failed me, but at least my energy was good.  I told myself to just keep running (not at all fast) to the last climb and then I can walk it.  I peered back on long stretches to look for Seth.  I surprisingly kept passing people still on their way out on the course.  It wasn't easy, but I was making progress.  I then reached the final climb and was able to continue running.  At the rock scramble at the summit, I stopped to stretch my legs to make the last two minutes more enjoyable.  Instantly my hamstring began seizing up, and I quickly resumed running before disaster struck.  I ran faster, concluding with a mad careless sprint down the final hill to the finish line, crossing in 3:34:43. 

Results here

I was so relieved to be done.  My legs were now even tighter and screaming at me.  I shuffled around congratulating Muddy (3:31) and Sam (3:26), and made my way up to Seth's car to change, seeing him finish up in 4th (3:41).  Good day for team WTAC!  After throwing on clean clothes and many layers, I was able to make my way back to the finish area for some veggie soup and Coke.  I then found a spot in the sun, sheltered from the wind, and relaxed and ate.  No bonk this year.  We then made our way back to RI.  My feet and lower core were so tight and painful.  I spent the afternoon and evening massaging, applying heat, etc.  It was the most suffering I felt after a race ever. 

A few days later my body is now fine.  I took Monday and Tuesday off from running (like last year), but still stayed active.  The pain went away on Monday, and the tightness just about completed disappeared by Wednesday.  I have mixed feelings about how my race played out.  Did I go out too fast?  I don't really think so.  If I ran slower early on, I might have felt better at the end, but netted the same time.  I'm feeling better and better about my result.  3:34 for 26.4 miles of technical trails and about 2,500' of elevation gain is something to be proud of. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Post Pisgah Pre Nipmuck Doldrums: 9-22-14 to 10-5-14

After the Pisgah race on Sunday, 9/21/14, I suddenly realized there wasn't much time before the Nipmuck Trail Marathon on Sunday, 10/5/14.  Last year there were three weeks between them.  I wasn't worried about the timing, just that I would be stuck doing boring runs recovering and then tapering.  You might be saying to yourself - take days off, it's no big deal.  I can't!  The weather is too nice this time of year and besides that, I need the mental break of some quality time outside. 

Monday 9/22: 7 miles - Rome Point easy trails and beach alone.  Too nice not to run.  My legs didn't feel that bad after 21 miles the day before.  Other parts of me (lower core) were sore from the pounding descents in Pisgah.  Total time: 59:22. 

Tuesday 9/23: 10 miles - Ryan Park trails alone.  Another nice day.  My legs again felt pretty good and I decided to shoot for 10 miles in the park.  Total time: 1:15:18. 

Wednesday 9/24: 10 miles - Cuttyhunk trails and nearby dirt roads alone.  I wanted some more hills today and also some more technical footing.  I can't remember if it rained on this day, or was just overcast and very humid.  This was a good run that took a while for my legs to get loosened up, but felt speedy at the end.  I pushed the pace on the downhills and managed to get 843' of elevation gain.  Total time: 1:17:38. 

Thursday 9/25: 10.5 miles - SK/Narragansett roads/trails/beach with Galoob.  Light rain, but not as bad as we expected weatherwise.  We ran from his house on roads, through woods, parking lots, and more roads, and on to the Canonchet Farm Trail.  We then ran on the town beach, which is hardpacked and way easier than the other beaches I run on.  We stopped and chatted with Gunshow who spotted us from his car.  He was out scouting surf.  We returned on the CFT and then on roads and parking lots through Wakefield.  Legs felt great.  Total time: 1:13:58. 

Friday 9/26: 10 miles - Charlestown breachway to Matunuck out-and-back on the beach alone.  Gorgeous afternoon - high 70's, sunny, and offshore wind.  I parked at the Charlestown town beach lot and ran out to the breachway.  I hopped on the beach there, and ran east along the shoreline.  The wind (NE) was in my face on the way out, which was a bit challenging.  There were many people out enjoying the late season beach day.  The tide was low enough that I could pass in front of the wall at Green Hill and the couple of houses further down near Roy Carpenter's Beach.  I made it all the way to the large rock wall in Matunuck and then turned around.  Running west felt much easier, but hotter.  The sweat was pouring off my head now.  I couldn't wait to reach Charlestown town beach again and swim.  The swim felt fantastic and then I only had a short walk to my car.  Total time: 1:15:00. 

Saturday 9/27: 4 miles - hilly road tempo loop from my house.  Fun day planned with the kids and I didn't have much time to run in the morning, so I decided to grab a few miles from my house.  As my window diminished, I threw on my new Nike Free Flyknit 3.0's and decided to run the short hilly road loop from my house.  This was the first time running fast since Pisgah, and without looking at my watch,  I wasn't sure how fast I really was going.  I ended up doing the 3.7 mile loop in 21:47 - quite a large PR and good for a 5:49 average pace.  This included my fastest climb up Shumankanuc Hill Rd from the north which I was happy about since I worked incredibly hard on this finishing ascent.  Fun body boarding at Misquamicut with the kids and friends after.  Shenanigans with Muddy's family at night. 

Sunday 9/28: 15.5 miles - Hillsdale/Beaver River Preserve mostly trail run with Galoob and Seth.  I wasn't feeling great at the start of this run, but I knew I would feel better for doing it.  We met at the Beaver River D&D and ran from there after throwing down some breakfast and coffee.  We ran up the paved Small Pox Rd and then veered left onto the jeep road portion of Punchbowl Trail.  We stayed on this until reaching Hillsdale Road.  We then explored the wide trails of the newly acquired state land in this area.  The trails (clear double track) are great for running and the surrounding woods (with their drought induced stunning fall colors) are beautiful, and mix in some undulating terrain.  It was like Christmas for trail runners.  We reached Old Mountain Rd and ran up a nice long hill.  The cool temperatures we had been experiencing changed to warm and muggy as we reached the top.  It was quite the contrast.  We veered north into a neighborhood with big houses until a dead end where the Beaver River Preserve trails are located.  I've never been here since it's not a big area, but now it is close to more trails.  This single track was rocky and hilly, and tremendously fun.  After exploring all the trails, we climbed back out to the roads.  It felt great to descend back into the cool temperatures of the valley.  We returned through Hillsdale, taking a different way back to Punchbowl Trail for most of it.  We finished up in 1:53.  We were moving pretty quickly throughout this run.  Great place to run and I hope to go back soon. 

Weekly Total: 67 miles
Last Week: 59 miles
Year to Date: 2504 miles
September Total: 276 miles

Monday 9/29: 8 miles - Calf Pasture Point loops and bike path alone.  Mike let me know the Jack Daniels' running plan for the week before a marathon.  Today was an easy hour of running.  The weather felt like fall, and I was running a bit too fast.  Oh well.  Total time: 57:57. 

Tuesday 9/30: 0!!  Finally the weather cooperated and was crappy enough to make me not want to run.  Ideally,  I was going to do an easy workout of 4x1200 @ T pace as prescribed by the good doctor, but the dreary day kept me feeling lazy and I opted to stay inside. 

Wednesday 10/1: 9+ miles: Ryan Park trails alone.  Workout Wednesday!  It was even rainier today, but I was determined to run and do my last workout on wet trails.  I figured that it would be appropriate since with all this rain, the Nipmuck Trail is bound to be very wet on Sunday.  Instead of running 4x1200(approx.) on the rail bed, I stuck to varied terrain throughout the park.  The first interval was the length of the wide dirt trail through the fields on the west side of the park.  Someone made a new segment here, and I wanted to take the CR.  After a almost 2 mile warm up with some strides, I sprinted this .8 mile segment.  I knew I had to go fast to beat the 6:09 pace of the leader.  I maintained a 5:30 pace according to my watch and beat the CR by over 30 seconds, however the GPS didn't match when I uploaded the data.  Ha!  I'll have to try again on another day, maybe when it isn't raining.  I then recovered for a few minutes before embarking on the Middle Trail segment.  This is a fun single track that is in the strip of woods between the fields and the power line.  I ran fast, but didn't sprint (probably the equivalent of T pace on trails).  I recovered for a shorter time and then ran the power line trail segment hard.  I was moving well and finished with my 2nd fastest time.  It was now time to head back to my car.  I did another T pace pick up on the dark single track near the pond (there is no Strava segment for this).  At one point I slipped on a root, but somehow managed to not fall.  I was nervous about hamstring and groin pulls from this.  I reached the rail bed, feeling pretty good, if not very soggy.  I made the decision to sprint the shorter roots segment.  Bob Jackman has an untouchable record from the 10K here in 2013.  I can't get close no matter how fast I go.  It's tremendously fun.  Very rooty and narrow.  I ran really fast, but had to take it slow on the "slippery when wet" bridge.  I need to try again on a dry day.  I ended up tying my PR (Strava has me running it 67 times).  I soon after reached my car, but decided I should cool down for a little bit longer.  I just stuck to the ball fields area.  I had an awkward fall on a bridge however.  I should know better, this bridge has tricked me before.  I planted my foot and it was like a sheet of ice.  I would have fallen into the stream 5' below if the bridge didn't have side railings.  I didn't feel injured, but my upper left thigh got sore immediately after.  I'm a little nervous about it.  Heat and ice at night seemed to make it feel much better in the morning.  Total time: 1:02:38. 

Thursday 10/2: 7.5 miles - Cuttyhunk Preserve trails alone.  My plan was to do a loop or two on the main marked trails and see how everything was feeling after the slip and slide yesterday.  The rain had stopped and the sun would occasionally peak through the clouds on this rather chilly day.  My body was feeling okay, but not great.  The loop was marking shorter than I hoped on GPS, so I ran another one, still feeling blah.  I then went for a third, and my legs felt looser and my thigh thingy wasn't bothering me as much.  I ended up taking a side trail that used to dead end in the middle of nowhere, but now is much longer.  In fact, it goes all the way out to Rte 102 near Purgatory Rd.  I was wondering if there was another trail on the other side of the road, but there was too much traffic.  Back into the woods and up the hill to my car.  Total time: 1:00:38 with 500' of climbing.  This leaves me feeling better about the marathon on Sunday. 

Friday 10/3: 5.5 miles - Calf Pasture Point alone.  Overcast, and with the wind - chilly!  I was happy to run as I've been feeling anxious about the race, but running only a few miles is unfulfilling.  My legs felt tight at times, probably from nerves.  I should be good to go on race day.  Total time: 43:08. 

Saturday 10/4: 0

Sunday 10/5: 27 miles - Nipmuck Trail Marathon, 3rd overall, 4 minute PR, but an absolute sufferfest.  Separate write up to follow. 

Weekly Total: 57 miles
Last Week: 67 miles
Year to Date: 2561 miles
September Total: 284 miles
October Total: 49 miles