Thursday, August 28, 2014

August in Review: Part 1

Okay, so I'm a hypocrite.  I really enjoy reading running blogs, but I'm having trouble updating my own.  I haven't figured out a great time to do it.  Life is busy, and the free moments I have, I feel lazy.  I won't let this blog die however.  It's been an important part of my running the last five years. 

August is always an interesting month.  I take two consecutive weeks off from work.  So does my wife.  We have birthday parties for our kids (born two years and one day apart).  We go to Maine with my wife's family (I've been doing that for seventeen years) and close college friends.  We also go to my parent's house in New Hampshire for a few days.  The kids go back to school and I have to go back to work. 

Runningwise, this year began with a zero and a trip to Boston to see Katy Perry.  You read that correctly, and I can't say I ever envisioned this happening - but it was a night out with friends, no kids, good eating, and an entertaining show.  I then spent the next few days running around in the woods, gearing up for my next running adventure - 39K run to work for my birthday.  Logistics were easy enough: bring an extra lunch and clothes to work the day before, my wife was working the day of in NK so she could bring me home, and drop off water bottles at two spots along the way.  I used the same course as my run to work in 2013, but tweaked it a bit to get an even 39K (24.2 miles).  The morning of my birthday arrived, and I made it out the door by 6AM.  My running plan was to just wing it, but I hoped to average low 7's if I was feeling good.  The weather was fine, not too muggy, not too sunny.  I was annoyed that I had to wear a shirt (weird to show up to work without one).  I carried 5 GU's in my pockets and nothing else.  I hoped my stashed water bottles would still be there.  The run began well.  A downhill 6:56 and a flat 7:06.  Then I hit the powerline, which always slows down the GPS.  Still I managed a 7:30.  I then had an uphill mile and did another low 7.  Mile 5 is where things got interesting,  it was downhill into Shannock, and without trying, I ran a 6:41.  Uh oh.  I might be in for a world of hurt later.  After another low 7, my pace then stayed in the high 6's.  I was feeling good, so I went with it.  I stopped at 8+ miles for my water at the Beaver River playground and a GU.  Okay, now the hilly middle portion.  Mile 9 - 6:30 - nervous anticipation?  I then reached Small Pox Trail.  This was all uphill, but at a gradual grade.  My pace was still 6:40's.  I turned the corner onto Punch Bowl Trail and things got steep.  My pace still was under 7.  The downhill was steep as well on the other side, and I worried about the abuse I just put my legs through.  I recovered on the flat section of Glen Rock Rd along the reservoir, but then I had to deal with a surprise long climb soon after.  This was challenging, but I was moving really well (and also ate a GU at the same time).  The terrain mellowed out for the next few miles until I reached stop #2 at the entrance to the Queens River Preserve.  I hammered another water and ate another GU.  I stretched out some tightness in my lower core.  I ran with a 2nd water bottle I had stashed now.  My average pace kept getting faster as I went, and I spent a good number of these miles in the 6:30's.  I decided to change my course in North Kingstown, by staying on roads and avoiding the trails (old rail beds) I had planned.  I stopped briefly at Ryan Park to ditch my water bottle, eat another GU, and stretch out my annoying tightness one last time.  I then dropped some even faster miles on Rte 102 (taking an unknown segment in the process).  The hardest part of the run was the finish.  I needed to get to 39.0 Kilometers, but it was taking way too long to get there.  I had to run around the neighborhood at work, begging my watch to cooperate.  Finally, I hit the big 39.0K and stopped.  Total running time of 2:43:17 with an average pace of 6:43!!  Total unplanned.  I was blown away.  I kept thinking that I should have just run another 2 miles and put up a decent marathon time.  Oh well.  After a short day at work, it was off to pick up the kids at my in-laws, first swimming (really helped loosen up the legs), before celebrating at the Rathskeller. 

You would think I should take time off after this day or at least do some easy runs.  Strava had other plans for me.  I spent the next day in Big River, finally figuring out a longish segment called Sizzler, in an obscure part of the park.  This was my third attempt at matching the route, and most definitely my slowest.  Still, I took the KOM.  On my way back, I decided to sprint a short segment called Sporthill, and took that KOM as well.  This was a mistake, as it inspired Bob Jackman, and a Strava battle ensued for the next few days.  He went out the same night and took back Sporthill, and then a couple of other new segments in the park.  I stubbornly went back the next day, despite my now aching legs and lower core.  I felt so terrible on my warm up to the segments I was attempting to take back.  Still I managed to succeed.  Well, Bob went back again, and took one back.  There was a threat of getting Garvin involved, but has been all quiet since.  I was happy for a very easy weekend of running after. 

The following week was my first on vacation.  I began Monday with a DuVal/Burlingame double and then met up with Muddy for an early morning trail adventure the next day.  We parked near Green Falls and ran camp trails to Tippecansett Trail north to Rte 165.  We were pushing the pace, and on a longer dirt road section, even our watches were showing 6:30 pace.  This was a great run, as it mixed tricky terrain with occasional faster spots.  We looped over to the Pachaug Trail (running 6 flat on the Rte 165 hill).  At Green Fall Pond, we ran the east side single track, before finishing on wider old roads back to our car.  This was a great 15 mile loop that we did in 1:48. 

Part 2 - Maine - coming soon.  

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