Friday, January 3, 2014

Winter Weather Week: 12-30-13 and Old Mtn Trail 5K Recap

I eventually will get up a Year in Review post.  It's been a busy vacation with hosting parties and traveling to NH and Boston.  Back to work (sort of - snow day today) and back to normal (except for the interesting weather).  I can't wait to race on Saturday - the Old Mountain Trail 5K.  The area picked up about 6 inches of snow on Thursday/Friday, but it is so light and fluffy, the course should be in OK shape.  Hopefully the conditions will help me and slow down my competition! 

Monday: 7 miles - track workout in Cambridge with my brother-in-law Chris.  We left NH the afternoon before to avoid the snow and stayed in Cambridge with my wife's sister's family.  It rained alot here and then froze over as the temperature dropped.  Chris and I headed out in the morning for the track at nearby Danehy Park.  The park was a mess.  So much rain now frozen on top (despite being 35 degrees).  We ran a warm up for almost 20 minutes.  The track is awesome.  It sits atop a hill and has an AstroTurf soccer field inside of it.  Unfortunately it was still frozen, with ice in spots.  We scouted it first, and it seemed passable.  We then began the workout of 400's.  My plan was either 6 to 8 at mile pace (75) or 4 to 6 at mile pace plus some 200's.  I ran the first one too fast thinking that I wasn't going hard enough - 69.  I then settled into a good groove of 74's.  I then did 200's and they felt pretty good too.  Results: 69/73/74/74/74/74 32/33/33/34 with all full recoveries.  Solid day on the track and I'm continuing to see improvement in my splits.  On a side note, I've been dealing with some soreness/tightness/swelling in my left foot/ankle.  I began noticing it a couple of days ago.  I believe it may be from running on frozen trails.  The hard uneven surface is to blame.  I've dealt with this before.  I'm wondering if more cushy shoes would help. 

Tuesday: 10 miles - Barn Island group trail run with Jeff, Nate, and Mike B.  Last run of the year and it was a fun one.  We met up in the dark at 6:30AM again.  It was cold (16 degrees at the start and finish).  Jeff led us on a tour of the park (almost 1000 acres).  It has a mix of wide lanes through low lying marshes as well as plenty of twisty wooded single track.  The time passed quick as the conversation was lively.  My foot was tight at the start, but felt better after a mile or two.  My beard was super frozen at the end.  Finished the year with 3,236 miles!! 

Wednesday: 0 - house guests and a 70th birthday party for my father-in-law didn't really leave me with a time to run.  I welcomed the day off anyway figuring it was good for my foot.  Year to Date miles: 0! 

Thursday: 6+ miles - Old Mountain trails with Galoob, Nate, and Nate (Mike's cousin).  We met up at the park to scout the course for Saturday's race.  It was cold (about 25 degrees and windy).  There was a fresh coating of snow which did a good job hiding all the tricky obstacles.  The water crossings were tricky thanks to ice and higher than normal water levels.  But the trail was in good shape overall.  Just needs to be flagged and possibly packed down a bit (after the storm).  It was fun to catch up on Mike's trip to Oklahoma and talk to his cousin about running at URI. 

Friday: 4 miles (based on effort) - Burlingame snowshoe loop from my house in the early afternoon.  Since the state closed down for a moderate storm (I would guess 5" of fluffy snow here, but  very cold), I stayed home from work.  After shoveling in the morning and then sledding later on, it was time for a run.  I donned my Atlas Run snowshoes and hoped I would stay warm.  I began by running down the hill in my woods and then bushwhacking to state land to connect to the trails on the other side of the road near the beaver pond.  I was able to connect, but it was not easy.  The woods are wet and full of thick brush including briers.  I had talked about doing this 10 years ago when we bought the house, but never got around to it.  Not sure if there is an obvious place for a trail, but when everything is frozen and covered in snow, you can make it work.  Things got easier once on the trails, but since I was the first creature to lay tracks, it was still slow going.  Eventually my clothes got wet from my snowshoes throwing snow on them.  I made it out to Burdickville Road and then took off the snowshoes.  What a strange feeling running with just shoes.  Fun run, but sort of a sufferfest. 

Saturday: 8 miles - Old Mountain Trail 5K - 25:33!, 6th overall.  Official results here.  This was not the performance I was hoping for, but this will be a memorable race due to the conditions and the fun I had with all my friends in attendance.  First, there was the bitter cold:

Possibly the 2nd coldest night in 10 years at my house

I packed so much gear into my bag and also wore a bunch of layers.  The funny thing was that the day never really felt that cold and it didn't factor into the race really.  What was a huge factor was the snow on the course.  Probably 6 inches deep and not packed sans a couple of snowshoe tracks and a few runners on their warm up.  Footing was terrible.  I ran with my old Inov8 Roclite 295's with Yaktrax.  I stilled slipped alot on my warm up with Muddy and Woolley.  The effort to keep the legs churning in the snow was exhausting and we were going slow.  After a mile or so I wanted to get the heck off the trails, but we were at the far end of the park and there was no choice but to keep plugging along.  My partners were in great spirits nonetheless.  Eventually we bypassed the last mile and jumped on the snow covered bike path (yuck) and then a crusty road, where we saw many of our friends doing their warm up.  It also took us a long time and we didn't have much time to make final preparations (shed layers and retie shoes for me) before Mike Galoob had us lining up for the start. 

The race:  I lined up front next to 25 other members of my WTAC team and many other running acquaintances.  The mood was light, thanks to the conditions.  This was going to be interesting!  I told myself that I was not going to jet out front trying to reach the single track ahead of everyone.  I needed to save my energy for the snow slog.  Well, the start was really slow, and I did move up front with Garvin and a couple of others. 

Charging to the front at the start.  Photo by Jana Walker

We reached the end of the field and now had to run down an embankment.  I was wide right and had to trudge through some really deep snow and then poof! - I fell face first and slid down the bank.  I got up laughing and then noticed Woolley tumbling down in another spot.  I got myself back together and forged forward.  I found myself in 6th place entering the woods, a couple of seconds behind a group of 5 that included Garvin (WTAC), Woolley (WTAC), Jackman (TNT), Mike Galoob's cousin Nate who ran for URI, and a new TNT guy I guessed was Dan Hawkins (I was correct).  I wanted to stick with the group, but they were putting distance on me right away.  I knew there was a train behind me (probably my teammates), but I felt there was a few seconds of space.  I was working hard and not feeling very fast at all.  The footing was even more terrible trying to go fast.  The Yaktrax were just not getting it done today.  I was hoping that everyone else was in the same boat and that I could at least hold my position and then possible catch a couple of the guys up front later in the race if they tired.  The trail is extremely technical, but today the snow covered most of the obstacles.  The stream crossing (on snow and ice covered rocks) went well.  I was plugging along (feeling tired and slow), but after a mile or so, I was catching up to Nate.  I reeled him in and then he let me pass, giving me words of encouragement.  I was happy to be in 5th place, but that was short lived.  My hopes of putting space on everyone behind me and just focusing ahead were quickly doused.  Someone was on my heels.  Ugh!  I didn't have another gear.  I hated being pushed.  Slipping with each step and lungs burning, I was working hard with little payoff.  I figured out it was my teammate Nate.  He just sounded strong.  I tried to go faster where I could (any downhills, tricky spots), but I wasn't shaking him.  I felt like he was just being polite by not passing me.  I felt like a wildebeest being chased down by a lion - the outcome was determined and it was only a matter of time I would have to give in to my fate.  But the race went on.  On the long gradual climb I could see the orange TNT jersey of Dan Hawkins.  I was gaining quickly, and despite Nate on my heels, optimism prevailed.  Dan made it to the top before us and briefly put a small gap on us.  Scott Mason was there taking photos: 

Dan Hawkins ahead of me and Nate.  Photo by Scott Mason

Me taking the longest stride of my life.  Photo by Scott Mason

After the photo shoot I reached the treacherous stone stairs drop.  I took one step and then just jumped to the snow covered ground.  Luckily I didn't land on any rocks and I let out a quick shout.  The course then climbs again - brief but steep.  I quickly caught Dan and passed.  I hoped I put space between me and Nate here, but I could hear him pass as well and then move right back up on me.  I reached the height of the climb at the large boulder and then began the switchbacks down towards the parking lot.  I tried to go faster, but the snow and my shoes were not allowing me to.  This was going to be it I told myself.  Soon enough I hear Jeff's voice behind me.  He then flew by saying that I would catch him on the next hill.  I hoped so, but judging by how fast and nimble he looked, I wasn't confident.  Nate was still right on my tail, waiting for his moment.  Others were back there too.  I reached the bottom and hoped for the best on the switchback climb. 

Full suffer mode.  Being stalked by Nate and look it's Seth too!  Photo by Jana Walker

My climb  did not go well.  I slipped so much and was going so slow, I was embarrassed.  I knew that Nate would pass on the downhill out to the skate park.  Possibly Seth too.  Jeff was long gone.  I accelerated down the hill, but Nate flew by.  I was cooked.  Seth stayed behind me, but I'm sure he was licking his claws.  Unfortunately the snow was super deep trying to get back around the ball fields to the finish.  This was going to be slow and painful.  I kept glancing back to see if Seth was going to catch me.  I made the last turn and tried to go faster, but it seemed useless.  Another peak at Seth.  Did he have a final sprint in him?  I finally reached the finish six full minutes slower than last year.  I ended up in sixth overall, behind Jeff and Nate, but ahead of Seth (barely). 

I was so happy to be done!  Post race was festive.  Everyone had a different adventure to tell.  Jackman won, followed by Garvin then Woolley.  It became apparent that people who had microspikes or really good shoes (Inov8 Talons) did rather well.  Those with Yaktrax (like me) had trouble - most Yaktrax malfunctioned (mine slipped onto the top of my shoes) or broke.  So long Yaktrax, time for something different.  I got to see my dad working the uphill switchbacks from the parking lot and then finish a few minutes later.  We posed for a WTAC team picture and then headed out for a big group cooldown - on roads thankfully.  Yes,  I did just say that. 

All smiles (almost) post-race WTAC group shot.  Photo by Jana Walker

Thanks to Mike Galoob and his family for putting on another memorable winter trail race! 

Sunday: 15 miles on two runs.  My plan was to wake up early and run for two hours (6AM to 8AM).  I had no trouble waking up and getting out the door despite hanging out with Muddy and family the night before.  The issue was the weather.  It was supposed to be 25 degrees at 6AM, but instead it was 12 degrees.  I thought I was still dressed well enough, but I felt cold right away on the dark roads.  I wasn't sure I should venture too far in case I needed to go back and seek refuge.  I decided to make a loop and see how it went.  My hands, head, and lower legs were still cold.  It was single digits in the valleys and the air was damp (unlike the dry air yesterday).  I finally made the decision to go home and try for more miles later.

I finally got back out at about 2:30PM.  It was now about 32 degrees (still colder than forecasted) and a little drizzly out.  My plan was to get 50 miles for the week, so I needed to go another 10.5 miles.  The roads were finally melting.   I thought I would stick to them, but I was finding them boring and unappealing.  I decided to head down Buckeye Brook Rd and then try the woods for a while.  Good decision!  The snow was now wet, and the footing was pretty darn good.  Very little slipping.  I altered my course and stuck to running the Vin Gormley Trail CCW.  I made it to the campground and it's plowed by icy roads.  Annoying, but over quickly.  Eventually I was back on blacktop, running up King's Factory Road to my house.  Thanks to the AH who was speeding, didn't slow down, and buried me with slush.  Both feet were feeling tight, and I was happy to finish with 15 on the day. 

Overall: Fun week in winter conditions.  Not many miles, but that happens this time of year.  Next race is the Resolution Beach/Trail 5K next Sunday!  Trying to be more "bloggy" in 2014.  I will get my year in review and goals post up soon. 

Weekly Total: 50 miles
Last Week: 60 miles
Year to Date: 33 miles
Last Year: 3236 miles


  1. I like the new header photo - funny comment about the longest stride of your life! Sounds like a fun race.
    Happy 2014!

  2. Funny - I'm also planning on grabbing my Mason photo from Old Mountain to update my blog header...just like after the Beaver race.

    Nice job suffering through Old Mountain and great write-up! Though I certainly wasn't licking my claws - more like trying to catch my breath!

  3. Jonny, nice race and awesome report! Sounds fun. I love the pics, I also laughed out loud about the longest stride of your life comment. Is it just me, or does Pard look like a diesel beast in the team photo?