Monday, September 29, 2014

2014 Pisgah Mountain 23K Trail Race

This marked my 6th straight Pisgah race in a row (23K five times, 50K once).  I was excited to bring a couple of guys from my local track club up with me this time around.  Saturday afternoon I made the trek north with Crutch and Jeff.  We met up with my brother Greg, sister-in-law Jen, and the infamous Boj at Elm City Brew Pub in Keene.  After a festive dinner, we made the dark half hour journey up to Stoddard, to stay at my parents' place there.  We got to bed early and everyone seemed chipper in the morning.  I was feeling rather relaxed, getting out my pre-race jitters days before.  My body was feeling pretty good thanks to a decent taper, including the day off yesterday.  I had done the work and now it was time to just run hard.  I wasn't even that worried about achieving my time goal of sub 1:40. 

We registered early and then I drove the roads that the course began and finished on to show the guys.  In a car, the hills seem a lot less intimidating!  We returned to the starting area, and met up with many familiar faces, the cutest being my 10 month old twin niece's and nephew's.  My other brother Glenn had come early to see the race start.  Greg, Jeff, Clint, and I did an easy mile warm up.  Not much time left now, so I returned to the car for final race prep, which included removing my singlet.  It was going to be muggy out there today.  The temperature was in the low 60's and it was foggy and drizzly.  I was hoping for bone dry trails conditions, but the air was moist enough that there was a slick coating on most of the course.  No big deal, let's start this thing. 

What am I doing?  Photo found on the Red Clover Rovers FB page. 

I lined up front with Greg and looked around for last year's 23K winner Jerimy Arnold.  I didn't see him, but I saw a few other fast looking guys with 23K bib numbers.  I also knew that local fast Keeneyan Andy McCarron was racing the short race today.  No delusions of being out front this year. 
I found myself in 4th place behind Greg and Andy, and an unknown runner in a Whirlaway jersey after the initial downhill and then leveling out.  It's always a mental battle between getting out fast (it's a race!) and saving it for later.  I kind of fell somewhere in the middle.  I pushed a bit on the two road climbs to get into the park.  On the first one I overtook 3rd place.  That didn't last too long, but on the second harder climb I regained third position and even was gaining on Andy (who dropped back of Greg by this time).  I knew Glenn and the babies would be watching at the top and I wanted to put on a good show for them.  I thought I might catch Andy here, but talked myself out of going all out so soon. 

We entered the park and began the screaming double track descent.  Coming into the race, I knew this is an area I was much improved in.  But the Whirlaway guy went flying past me!  Ugh.  I couldn't hear anyone else at least.  As the terrain leveled out, I tried to find a good groove.  Boj's words to me kept running through my head - 9 mile tempo and then give it whatever you have left.  Instead of pushing the pace too hard, I had to trust that I am a stronger runner this year and just cruise. 

We reached the Reservoir Trail climb, which is probably the 2nd longest on the course.  I got my last glimpse of Greg here, and it looked like he was pulling away and ready to go hide.  There was a decent gap between myself and Andy and Whirlaway guy.  I kept the climb under control.  I was not overexerting myself.  I wasn't gaining on the guys ahead of me, but I didn't care.  Again, I was trusting my training.  Near the Monadnock overlook there is a bend in the trail.  I noticed a flash of bright green behind me - someone was silently gaining on me from behind?  This gave me a boost of adrenaline and I surged a bit to the summit.  Now begins a very long technical and dark downhill.  I knew I was making up time here and felt strong.  Somewhere in the middle of this low section is a tricky climb.  It's not too long, but sneaky steep, and usually I'm huffing and puffing terribly on it.  I kept to my theme of the day, and didn't overdue it.  But then another flash of green again?  Was I seeing things? 

The rest of the run to the 6.7 mile aid station was uneventful.  I glanced back a few times and didn't see anybody.  I felt like I was moving well and not tiring.  I blasted through the aid station and there was Whirlaway guy who had stopped.  He got moving again and put some space between us.  Now it was time for the hardest climb on the course up Pisgah Ridge.  I really was deliberate with my pace and just quick stepped my way up.  Whirlaway guy was in my sights, but I didn't push to catch him.  Again, I couldn't see the bright green shorts guy behind me. 

Every year this climb tricks me.  There are two false summits and one downhill section, and I always think I've already reached the top.  This happened again!  After the descent I could see the green shorts, and they seemed to be gaining on me.  I assumed he would overtake me on the last steep climb on the ridge since I wasn't going to race him up, but that never materialized.  What happened was that at the true summit, Whirlaway guy was off to the side and stopped.  We exchanged pleasantries as I went by.  Once off the ledges, I attacked the long downhill to Kilburn.  I could tell that I was descending this tricky spot way better than years past.  And I couldn't see Whirlaway or green shorts guy anymore. 

Northeast Racing Photos from the Pisgah Ridge

I reached the easy footing of the wide jeep trail near Kilburn.  I picked up my pace, allowing my legs to go as fast as they wanted, without overexertion.  I remembered I had a GU in my pocket and decided to take it.  As soon as I choked it down the 9.0 mile aid station appeared.  I really don't like to stop in a race this short, but I thought grabbing a water might not be a bad idea in this situation (wash down the GU, plus thirsty from the high humidity).  I compromised by taking a water and running with it.  I made good work up the hill and then "enjoyed" the long fast descent to the Rte 63 parking lot.  Jen was there snapping pictures and she either told me "someone right behind you" or "no one right behind you".  I wasn't sure which.  Either way, the fast speed I took into the start of Davis Hill was a shock to my system.  I had to slow down and find my groove again. 

On the early part of the climb, the course veers right up the hill, but there is another trail straight ahead (and downhill).  As I approached the intersection,  I saw Andy coming back up the hill from the wrong trail.  What a terrible time to get off course.  He said he had been about two minutes behind Greg, but lost about a minute on his wrong turn.  He stayed behind me for about half a mile on the climb, and it was cool to think that Greg and I were 1-2 in the race.  The trail levels for a while before climbing again, and Andy made his way past me.  I wasn't bummed, knowing that he is a much faster runner than me.  I thought that maybe there was a chance he would tire on the last couple of miles, but I just kept to my plan. 

I was now on the tricky single track between Davis Hill and Hubbard Hill.  The good news is that I was feeling much better than in previous years.  The bad news was that I was finding it hard to maintain a steady pace over the numerous roots.  Andy had disappeared ahead of me at this point, and I couldn't see anyone behind me.  I needed to keep pushing.  I reached the climb up Hubbard, which is rather short.  At the vista sign I checked my watch for the first time.  I was right at 1:25.  I was pleased to be ahead of last year's pace, but I had about 16 minutes to go from here.  I was most likely going to run 1:41.  Oh well. 

But I still fought on, as there were two small ups before the mega-downhill.  I was now seeing Andy again!  Even as I hit the descent, I was still seeing him.  This definitely was a mental-boost.  Sometimes the grade was painfully steep on my now tiring feet.  The trail was even a bit slippery on the grassy areas through the recently logged spots.  I reached the end of the trail and was now on the finishing stretch - a long gravel/dirt road downhill until you pass Greg and Jen's house, then pavement with a heartbreaking hill.  Andy increased his lead on me (which I assumed would be the case), but what scared me was seeing green shorts again!  He must be finishing strong.  I really didn't want him to pass me.  I received some final words of encouragement from Ferenc watching at the house.  I hammered the hill climb and hoped I could maintain the effort once over the top and through to the finish (about a half mile away).  Andy was coming back to me a bit and I had gained ground on green shorts as well.  Checking my watch,  I was on my way to 1:40:something.  I could hear my parents cheer for me as I crossed the finish line in 1:40:32.  I was exhausted, but felt really good about my effort.  I had cut over two minutes off my PR from last year by running the hills smart and everything else faster. 

Results here

I exchanged congratulations with Greg, Andy, green shorts (4th), and Whirlaway guy (5th).  Before I knew it, Jeff was crossing the finish line in a very strong 1:51, followed by Boj and Clint.  My running wasn't done for the day as I promised Jeff I would grab a few more miles with him after the race for marathon training.  I was happy when he said 5 miles would be enough, but even that was torturous to complete.  I was relieved to be done and return to the post race cookout where we met up with Crutch.  After getting our fill, we headed over to Greg and Jen's for more merriment.  A big thanks to Gary and Chris for many years of directing these great races. 

Post race scene at Greg and Jen's.  Photo found on the Red Clover Rovers FB page.   

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Pisgah Week: 9-15-14 to 9-21-14

Counting down the days to my 6th Pisgah Mtn Trail Race in a row.  I've settled on the "short" race (23K vs. 50K) after debating for most of the summer.  Being two weeks out from the Nipmuck Trail Marathon, the 23K works well.  Last year I was intent on a sub 1:40 performance, but fell short.  Reviewing my blog report and Strava data, I noticed a couple of things: 

1. I put an incredible amount of effort into the race.  It's intimidating!  I will need to work my butt off on Sunday.

2. One of the things I mentioned I needed to work on was descending.  I'm confident that I'm much improved in this area this year.  Since I signed up for the Mt Greylock race earlier this year, I've been working on it.  I either hammer or let my legs loose on downhills whenever I can.  I can feel the difference. 

3. Shoes.  Last year I ran in Nike Free 3.0's - my favorite shoe ever.  However, I questioned the choice in the race.  They are not trail shoes, especially if the terrain is technical or sloppy.  After the race I picked up the Nike Terra Kigers - light but sturdy trail shoes.  I've had good results in them, and I will be wearing them Sunday. 

4. Trail/weather conditions.  The trails last year probably slowed things down for me (5" of rain a couple of nights before the race).  This year the woods are dry, or at least at this point, look like they should be.  The weather is forecasted to be exactly the same - sunny, high 40's at the start, 70's by midday. 

I had a couple of goals for the 23K, but I've narrowed it down to one (I originally thought about going for the win - very dependent on who else ran - but that idea was nixed when my brother Greg told me he was also doing the 23K this year).  Now, I'm just fixated on the time goal of sub 1:40.  I don't care about my finishing position.  I can do it! 

Monday: 7.5 miles - hilly dirt roads and trails with Galoob.  We didn't have a long window for a run, but made the most of it by running fun terrain in the Cuttyhunk Preserve, Stony Lane, and Pardon Joslin Rd.  We ran at a conversational pace, even on the uphills, except I wanted to push the downhills.  Mike was using his new watch with a built in altimeter and it was interesting to see that it recorded almost a hundred feet more of elevation than my watch's 679'.  Total time: 55:47. 

Tuesday: 9.5 miles - trail workout in Rome Point alone.  I wanted to run some hard trail intervals early this week before shutting down the intensity until race day.  I decided the yellow dot loop at Rome Point would be a good choice.  It feels like a mile, it's single track - twisty at times, has a long gradual descent and then a long gradual climb (111'), plus a fast rooty decline to the finish.  The weather was nice, if not a bit humid, and the woods were relatively empty.  My legs still had some tightness in them.  I ran about two miles of my favorite trails in here as a warm up.  I then began the mile repeats.  I planned on four of them with about half rest in between (3 minutes).  The workout went very well.  My first one was a bit slow, but still quick (5:58).  I think that if I had done a few strides first I would have been faster.  The recovery loop I did worked out perfectly time-wise.  My next two miles were faster: 5:41 and 5:40.  These went very well and I knew I had more in the tank.  I considered doing five repeats, but opted to just stick with four, and run the last one the fastest.  I ran a 5:27!  My legs didn't feel overly worked either.  I ran my warm up route in reverse feeling really good about Sunday.  Total time: 1:08:16 with 703' of elevation gain. 

Wednesday: 7 miles - Calf Pasture Point alone.  Nice weather.  I carried my phone to take pictures, but the tide was really high and it was really quiet.  Total time: 56:07. 

Thursday: 7 miles - Ryan Park trails alone.  Even with the nice day, I didn't have much urge to run.  I decided to stay close and just park at Ryan off of Lafayette Rd.  As soon as I began, I figured out why I didn't have the desire to run - my feet and ankles were sore and tired from the workout on Tuesday.  I tried to ignore my sluggishness and just enjoy the surroundings.  I did a good job of this.  Total time: 56:14. 

Friday: 7 miles - Big River trails alone.  Sunny and 58 degrees in the middle of the day!  My legs are definitely experiencing the pre-race blahs.  I ran the loop of trails I call Turtle Loop (since the TNT guys created it, at least on Strava).  Sometimes I run this route as a tempo, but today it was just a casual affair.  I ran with a shirt, but still felt chilly the first few minutes, and didn't sweat until the end.  Quiet day in the woods with no drama.  I was extremely tempted to run the last section really hard after Jackman had taken a segment here yesterday (from Garvin).  I made sure to veer off course as I neared the segment start.  I did not need to kill myself today.  Total time: 57:14. 

Saturday: 0 - AM shakeout run didn't happen, travel to NH with Crutch & Jeff in the PM. 

Sunday: 21 miles - Pisgah Mountain 23K Trail Race, 3rd overall - 1:40:32.  I just missed my time goal, but feel very happy with this race.  I paced myself on the climbs, recovered quicker at the tops, and made up a lot of time on the descents.  Overall I felt much stronger than past years.  Separte write up to follow.  Torturous 5+ mile bonus run with Jeff after the race.  We couldn't find anywhere flat to run (about 400' of elevation gain even though we avoided hills).  It was hot and steamy in the sun at this point of the day.  Even soft trails of Friedsam Town Forest and the Chesterfield School fields didn't help the hurt my legs were feeling. 

Weekly Total: 59 miles
Last Week: 70 miles
Year to Date: 2437 miles
September Total: 209 miles

Monday, September 15, 2014

Week in Review: 9-8-14 to 9-14-14

I somehow managed 70 miles this week without a true long run (which I intended).  Lingering leg fatigue Wed-Sun.  I need to monitor it and taper appropriately for the Pisgah race next Sunday (9/21). 

Monday: 8.5 miles - 1 hour mix of bike path, roads, and trails with Galoob in SK.  Nice weather (not hot anymore) on a shorter than normal lunch run.  We hit up trails in TriPond Park, Curtis Corner, and Potter Woods. 

Tuesday: 10 miles - NK/EG road loop alone.  This was an interesting run.  I parked at a park on Frenchtown Rd that I've noticed before on previous runs.  I had mapped out a loop that was flat or downhill for 8 miles with 2 miles of climbing.  I kept the pace easy, but with the terrain I was moving in the 6:40's to 6:50's.  Roads are so weird.  I did pick up my effort on the long climb (250') up Stony Lane, but I wasn't killing myself.  I ended up running the 10 miles in 1:08:37 (6:51 ave pace) with 450' of elevation gain. 

Wednesday: 9+ miles AM - CCMS track workout with Jeff and Galoob.  Mike wanted to do the Yasso 800's marathon workout.  I was familiar with it (10 reps of 800 at min:sec = marathon hour:min).  I decided to use my I pace for the 800's, and I thought the workout would be rather easy since I was used to running I paced 1200's.  Wrong!  The morning of I felt fine as I warmed up with Jeff and Mike.  As soon as we began the 800's though, my legs felt flat.  I was hitting my target time, but I was working too hard too soon.  I prepared myself mentally to just shoot for 8 reps instead of 10.  This helped me get through it, and I think it was the right call based on how I was feeling.  Results: 2:39/2:41/2:39/2:39/2:40/2:39/2:40/2:39 (target 2:40).    

                     6.5 miles PM - Rome Point trails and beach alone.  Oddly empty today.  The tide was rather low and I enjoyed my southern journey along the shoreline.  Total time: 53:38. 

Thursday: 8 miles - 2 road hills alone.  I parked in EG at a park and ride on Rte 2.  I decided to do any out-and-back that would incorporate two long climbs - South Rd and Stony Ln.  My legs were tired, and I kept the pace easy.  I didn't realize there was a Strava segment on South Rd - I might need to come back on a better day.  Total time: 59:59 with 548' of elevation gain. 

Friday: 5 miles in the early afternoon - Calf Pasture Point shakeout.  The plan was to race tonight (Stavros 3M beach run in Misquamicut).  I ran the bike path out to the trail and then did an out-and-back along the beach.  Right away my legs were feeling sore, and the very easy pace was not making them feel better as I had hoped.  I wasn't sure what sort of time I'd be capable of at the race, but I was still looking forward to it.  Total time: 35:57. 

           0 miles in the evening.  I opted out of the race.  I talked myself out of it based how my legs were feeling.  Also my family was having too much fun with neighbors after school and were not going to be joining me at the beach.  I made the call to join them. 

Saturday: 10 miles - Westerly downtown hills alone.  This was a good run.  I had to bring my kids to karate makeup camp at 8am.  They were going to be there for about an hour and a half to two hours.  I decided I could run from there and periodically check in to make sure they were okay (most parents didn't stay).  I checked Strava and saw a bunch of hill segments right near where I would be.  I decided to go up and down each nearby hilly road (looked like 7 of them).  I wanted to work the downs as much as the ups, but it didn't quite work out that way.  I pretty much hammered the ups and tried to run the downs and flat in betweens at a fast pace.  I ran Oak St (Rte 91), Narragansett Ave (didn't match Strava segment?), skipped Park Ave since there was active construction/road blocked, Granite Street (Rte 1) and then stopped in at the karate studio.  Back out and ran John St, School St, and Cross St.  This was exhausting!  I ended up doing 6 roughly half mile to 3/4 mile uphill sprints.  Total elevation gain: 709' with a 6:46 overall average pace. 

Sunday: 13+ miles - Burlingame trails and roads alone.  My window to run was be home by 8:30.  I set my alarm for 5am, and hoped to be out the door by 5:30 to get in a 2.5-3 hour long run in.  It's really dark at 5am, and I just shut off my alarm and went back to sleep.  I woke up at 6:15 and got out the door at 6:45.  I was now feeling rushed.  My legs still felt tired.  The woods were really wet after finally getting rain the night before.  I ran down Shumankanuc Hill Rd to Buckeye Brook Rd.  I decided to jump into the woods on the Vin Gormley Trail after crossing Poquiant Brook.  After staying off trails recently because of bees, I was really enjoying running on them again.  I figured with the chilly temperature (50), I'd be okay.  I was cruising along nicely.   It's hard to know how fast I was really going, but I felt good about it.  I knew there was work done near the covered bridge, but I was surprised how many new bridges there were.  I'm not sure how I feel about this - I understand both sides of the argument.  The end result is less technical rock gardens and roots to negotiate.  I opted to take the long way around the campground, thinking I had enough time.  I even skipped the added trails along the ridge, but still felt rushed by the time I exited the woods onto Sanctuary Road.  And my stomach wasn't feeling great.  But wait - an open bathroom at the picnic area!  I then had to motor back on the roads.  I really wanted to take Sammy C's.  I ran these miles in the 6:40's.  Total time: 1hr 34min. 

Weekly Total: 70 miles
Last Week: 80 miles
Year to Date: 2,378 miles
September Total: 150 miles

Friday, September 12, 2014

Sub 5 Minute Mile and Bees: 9-1-14 to 9-7-14

September is here and finally it feels like summer.  Hmm.  My body was not used to the heat and humidity, but I powered through for a big week of running. 

I wonder if I'm the only runner having issues with bees this year?  I know late summer/early fall is the time for angry aggressive bees, but so far I've been stung on four different occasions.  This is too much.  I'm at the point that I've been sort of avoiding trails.  Running on roads feels so easy and my average pace seems too fast.  That's fine except that I'm racing trails this fall, and there is some doubt creeping in that I'll be in top trail shape.  Hopefully I'm just being irrational. 

Monday: 5 miles - Stoddard, NH dirt roads with my wife.  This was just an easy Labor Day morning run together.  I thought I might double at night when we got home, but didn't really feel like it. 

Tuesday: 4 miles AM - local hilly road loop.  I had some extra time in the morning so I snuck out for a quick run.  It was going to be a very hot day, so why not?  I ended up cruising around the block in 26:49 - 6:41 pace with 306' of elevation gain. 

                9 miles PM - Rome Point trails and beach.  Hot!!  I worked my way around the shaded internal trails for a while.  Thank you to whoever left the note about the bees nest near the point or I would have been stung once again for sure.  The SW breeze felt good heading down the shoreline, but I was roasting on the way back.  I stopped and swam briefly.  It felt fantastic!  High tide so the water wasn't sketchy.  1:10 with 545' of elevation gain. 

Wednesday: 9 miles - Big River trails alone.  Another hot day spent in the shade.  I ran mostly around Carr Pond at a casual pace.  I did pick some spots to move faster which included hammering down a gnarly double track trail back to the New London Turnpike.  I believe there was a segment there, but there was no GPS match.  Good Pisgah downhill practice anyway.  1:08. 

Thursday: 7.5 miles AM - track workout with Galoob.  This was a big day for me.  Mike was going to do some I paced miles.  I decided to run the first one with him to try to break the allusive 5:00 mile barrier.  After a warm up cut short by a bathroom break (thank you SK for the clean open restrooms), I put on my spikes (why not?), and then I was ready to go for it.  Mike set his watch to beep at 37 seconds for every 200 meters.  If we could stay on track, this would mean a 4:56 mile.  I was keeping time on my watch as well, but after two false starts at the mile line (my watch was having major issues),  I took mine off.  We began and the pace felt "easy" to me.  I didn't like that Mike's watch was beeping before the next 200 meter mark (to get a full mile the first lap is longer).  He kept assuring me we were on pace.  Laps 2 and 3 felt great physically.  Mentally I'm just a mess, but I had Mike reassuring me and shouting encouragement.  Lap 4 began, and we picked up the pace a bit.  At the 200m mark I couldn't match Mike's additional push around the turn.  At the final straightaway,  I gave up my fears and got back up to and passed Mike as he demanded.  We crossed the finish line just as his watch began to beep.  4:56!!  Damn that felt good.  I stumbled around for a few minutes and decided to run some fast 200's while Mike continued to do more miles.  My watch was still messing up (basically not responding right away when I would hit the lap button), but the reps that the watch did work correctly were 34s.  I ran 6 of them with 200 rest.  Rewarding day on the track.  Mike let me know later that the mile splits were 74/75/75/72. 

                 8.5 miles PM - Calf Pasture Point (3 loops).  This was a pleasant sunny double.  My legs didn't feel trashed at all and my pace was peppier than usual on the point loop.  I guess I didn't really do much speed work.  I've been enjoying the loop this summer.  On this day I saw migrating shorebirds and possibly a local radio personality.  1:05. 

Friday: 12.5 miles - Narragansett/SK roads and trails with Galoob.  This run was exhausting.  I wasn't prepared for the intense heat - sunny, 84 degrees, and very high dew point.  We kept the pace manageable for my legs, but I was struggling.  The shaded trails were nice, but on the way back (with tailwind) we were on a quest to find a water fountain.  We scored some water at the Narragansett tennis courts luckily.  We still had another three miles of pavement to go however, which was tough.  Total time 1:28.  At night I was nervous about running long in the morning (still going to be super muggy). 

Saturday: 17.5 miles - Grills Preserve (both sides)  and Woody Hill trails with a few miles of connecting roads with Muddy.  I decided to give the run a go and I'm glad I did.  I felt way better today.  We met in the dark at the Hopkinton parking area.  It was 6am and the temperature was in the low 70's.  We made our way around with the light quickly filtering in.  After crossing the bridge to the Westerly side I got stung by a bee.  Ugh!  Not again!  We made our way up Big Hill and then by Big Rock and finally exited the park onto Bowling Lane.  Without changing speeds, our pace magically became low 7's.  We stopped (after 1:15) at the elementary school where Muddy had stashed some Gatorade.  We continued on into Woody Hill.  With the overcast conditions and poor knowledge of the area, I had no idea which direction we were heading.  We cruised around the park on mostly double track.  Somehow we exited the way we came in.  I talked Muddy into finishing on the roads, rather than back down Bowling Lane and through Grills.  We still ran for 2 hours and 14 minutes.  Solid day on mostly trails. 

Sunday: 7 miles - local hilly road loop alone.  In the morning, my wife went out for a long run in Burlingame with a friend and I watched the bicycling portion of the Firmman (half ironman) go by my house with my kids.  I forgot about the race initially, and when we got outside to cheer one triathlete shouted out "there they are!".  It's really fun to encourage the riders up the hill and most seem to really appreciate it.  My wife returned, and before we spent a fun afternoon at the beach, I got in a short run from the house.  I avoided trails for the bees.  Even though I thought I would be slow, I managed a 6:48 pace for my run, which included the hard climb up Burdickville Road.  A fun end to a 80 mile week! 

Weekly Total: 80 miles
Last Week: 68 miles
Year to Date: 2308 miles

Friday, September 5, 2014

August Review Part 3: A week of workouts and final stats

In the final eight days of August I somehow managed to do four workouts and spent the other days recovering. 

On Sunday the 25th, my last day of vacation, I headed out the door from my house (not too early) to do some sort of long run with a few miles of marathon pace mixed in.  I did not run much in Maine, and any runs seemed rather short.  I wanted to salvage the running week with something longish, and I decided I would stick to roads to get real data.  My plan was to head south down Kings Factory Rd and then connect somehow to the bottom of Klondike Rd, where I would begin my marathon paced miles.  For some reason, I had the idea that running mostly uphill on the faster miles would be a good idea, plus there was a long Strava segment I've had my eye on for a while.  I figured from there I could continue north, and retake another Strava segment Muddy gobbled up recently on Rte 91.  I wasn't sure how many miles of MP to do - my idea was 8, and I wasn't sure which way I would go home.  The run began well enough - the sun was out, but it was dry and not too warm - and I clicked off some rather quick miles.  I decided to run down Sanctuary Rd (dirt) and then take the rather wide and straight Watchaug Pond Trail (I think that is the name?) to the Kettle Pond Preserve and jump on Rte 1 there.  I thought it might be about 5 miles total to the southern end of Klondike Rd, but I hit 6 miles when I wasn't quite there, still on Rte 1.  I then picked up my pace and hoped my GPS reception would be good enough so that I could find my marathon pace.  The pace immediately felt hard as Klondike Rd is mostly all uphill, albeit gentle.  My body adjusted and I knocked off two 6:14 miles (6:14 is my VDOT MP).  The third mile was a little more uphill to Laurel Lane, but I was pleased that it was actually dirt and not pavement (due to construction - a welcomed surprise!).  This was my slowest MP mile of the day - 6:20, but the grade adjusted pace was 6:01.  I headed north on Rte 216, joining up with the Rhode Warrior bike course for a mile or so.  I only saw a couple of bikes.  I then made the decision to veer left onto Woody Hill Rd.  This was another decent gradual hill with a steep decline payoff (6:11, 6:15 miles).  I again joined the Rhode Warrior bike course, but didn't see any bikes this time.  I wondered how spread out the race was?  I was now running north on Rte 91, more exposed to the sun.  The five miles of MP was getting to me and I wasn't looking forward to the hill after I crossed into Hopkinton (6:13 mile 6).  A surge of adrenaline helped me up the hill.  I was surprised at my pace on my watch.  I think this is where I got my second wind as I decided once I crested the hill, to run 10 miles at MP, rather than just 8 (mile 7 6:19 - GAP 5:58).  I continued on Rte 91, enjoying the more downhill terrain, but feeling really thirsty - I carried nothing but 1 GU that I never used.  Mile 8 - 6:12, Mile 9 - 6:17.  The last mile was a battle.  I was ready to be done and watching my watch made it take forever.  I finally finished up mile 10 in 6:11.  I slowed my pace, but instead of feeling relief, it felt worse.  And I had to run the mile hill back to my house!  Luckily I found a distraction in the form of a biker (again on the Rhode Warrior course).  She passed me on my road right before the grade rose, and then I proceeded to reel her in and almost pass her on the short steep spot at the curve.  It sounds silly, but it helped get me up the hill.  I finished up the full 18 miles in 1:59:21, good for a 6:37 average pace, with 701' of elevation gain. 

Mike contacted me about doing a track workout on Tuesday morning, and although I was sure my legs would still be tired, it was the last morning before the kids went back to school, and seemed like the best morning to workout.  His plan was a Daniels' T, I, R workout.  If I did my own I, R, F workout, then we could do the intervals together.  This has been working out well for both of us.  The plan kind of evolved as we went, but I ended up running 3x1200 @ I pace (5:20), 4x400 @ R pace (5:00) and then 3x200 @ F pace (Mike's R pace which seemed ridiculously fast to me).  Results: 4:00/3:58/3:58/74/74/75/73/33/32/32.  My legs definitely felt slow on the 1200's, but much better on the shorter, faster stuff. 

My hope was to do the Schonning 5K on Friday night, but I knew it would be a game time decision with the kids back to school.  We ended up getting invited to a neighbor's house back-to-school party, so no race for me.  I also didn't have much time to run during the day, so I decided to run a few T paced miles on the Quonset Bike Path.  Well, this was much harder than I expected, probably because of the previous two workouts and also running in the midday sun (warm day).  My plan was 1 mile warm up, 5 miles @ T (5:50 pace), and then 1 mile cool down.  The T pace felt hard right away and I felt like there was no way I could complete it.  The first mile was 5:54.  I tried to justify it based on the weather, the GPS coverage, and the fact my true T pace was probably closer to that than 5:50.  Things got a little easier (and faster) and any thoughts I had of breaking up the workout into two halves faded by the time I reached the far end of the bike path (almost 3 miles in).  Finishing was no piece of cake, but I did complete the full five miles: 5:54/5:50/5:53/5:51/5:48 - 5:51 average. 

We spent Labor Day weekend at my parents' NH house.  I planned out an early morning run on Sunday the 31st that would incorporate another section of the Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway.  I would take roads (some dirt, some paved - all hilly) to/from.  I've been nervous about bears around here since I've already seen them a few times and my brother Greg's talk about male bear thrill attacks.  I was able to overcome these fears and do the run.  The steep hill on Kennedy Brook Rd (dirt) right away took my breath away.  I felt like I wanted to walk.  My legs felt like junk.  The hill is super steep though - 200'+ of gain in a half mile.  Things evened out, until the next hill on School Street.  I then turned onto Center Pond Rd (dirt) and began a long descent to the pond.  I stopped briefly at the public boat launch and noticed a bald eagle eating something on the ground nearby.  I then backtracked the half mile (all uphill) to the MSG turnoff.  The woods were very dark and spooky.  The trail was an old road for a while and then became single track.  I was nervously cruising along.  I couldn't enjoy the Robinson Brook Cascades, but being scared also made the climb out not really noticeable.  I made noises the entire time.  Luckily I saw no animals or humans.  Eventually the trail rose steeply to some blueberry fields and I knew I was getting close to Rte 123.  I crossed the road and took the steep path up to the summit of Pitcher Mountain.  I kept my steps short and my pace slow on this 1/4 mile 265' climb.  I stopped at the chilly foggy summit briefly.  I then descended on the MSG heading north until it intersected a dirt road.  I then returned to the house via Rte 123 to Kings Highway, to the neighborhood dirt roads.  This was a fun run.  My pace was peppy and I got in 1,837' of climbing, with good descending practice as well. 

August total miles: 278
Week of 8/4: 70 miles
Week of 8/11: 70 miles
Week of 8/18: 48 miles
Week of 8/25: 68 miles
Year to Date: 2,228 miles

Thursday, September 4, 2014

August Part 2: Maine

Our annual Maine vacation was going to start a bit differently this year.  Our close friends that live near Portland were doing a road race the same night we were heading up.  Perfect!  I preregistered for the Saint Peters 4 Miler a few days before.  I wasn't sure what to expect after watching a video of the course - seemed pretty hilly.  I would try my best and have a fun night with family and friends, so there was no real pressure.  My plan was to taper a bit before the race, but that didn't really happen with 44 miles going into the Friday race (even with a day off!).  After the long drive up to Portland with a big lunch stop in Newburyport Mass, the pre-race nerves were coming on strong.  I couldn't wait to get to the race and headed out early with my friend Brett and brother-in-law Chris.  Once I picked up my bib I began sizing up the competition.  I saw fast looking young guys and some other very fit looking dudes.  I hoped to jump into a warm up with someone, but ended up heading out solo.  I asked a race official if the course was marked, but it wasn't - there would be marshalls out on the roads (open).  Okay, so I just ran the first mile plus of the course and backtracked so I didn't get lost.  Wow it was hilly.  The race began with a downhill but then climbed (steeply at times - 10% grade in spots according to Strava) along the Promenade.  Awesome views of the harbor and its many islands.  I was glad to take them in on the warm up since I never notice anything during a race.  I returned to the starting area with a few more minutes to kill.  I saw a guy doing strides on a side street and decided to do the same.  I may have been the last guy to hop onto the starting line.  I was surrounded by people in team jerseys with the usual bold jibber jabber.  At the gun I tried to stay under control, which is hard to do when it's downhill, and I was instantly behind about 25 people.  I tried to tell myself just wait until the first hill (the Promenade I had just scouted).  Just as I suspected, I began passing many people as the grade rose.  As it got steeper and longer, things strung out, and I was solidly in 5th place.  I was focused on the guys in front of me and not worried about anyone catching me for some reason.  I could see the guy I saw doing strides out in front with three young international runners chasing.  Based on previous years' results, this seemed right.  I was only a few seconds behind 4th, but I didn't have any delusions of passing at this point.  The road flattened out and I found a good groove.  Finally, we reached a sharp left turn on North Street.  This was a long gradual climb.  4th place began looking back repeatedly.  This was my chance.  I continued a steady pace up the hill and then got right on his heals.  He asked me how far into the race we were (about 2 miles) and we engaged in some light chitchatting until we crested the hill and he dropped me on the descent.  I made the mistake of looking at my watch and got annoyed at how slow it said my pace was here (probably poor GPS reception).  I began descending well.  Not fast enough to gain on the guy ahead of me, but I could tell it was fast for me.  We turned back onto the Promenade heading in the opposite direction, passing the 3 mile mark.  Almost done!  I really let my legs fly on the steep downhill and after a half mile my mile 4 pace was 5:17.  After a confusing left then right turn (with a good crowd), my heart sank as there was a straight big climb facing me.  4th place was too far ahead to think that I could again catch on the hill.  My legs were tired.  I glanced back and saw no one.  This was not my best hill effort.  I then turned right.  I knew there was another right turn for the finish, but I wasn't sure how far left.  My watch was showing that I was almost at four miles, but who knows how accurate that is.  I then recognized the road I would be finishing on.  I picked up my pace.  The finish line was down the road a ways, and I absolutely flew to it (Strava had my last .1 miles at 3:32 pace!).  I crossed the line in 22:39.  I was super pleased with that on a course like this.  The other top finishers were very friendly.  Sooner than I expected though Brett, Chris, and then Megan finished their races.  Everyone exceeded expectations.  After chatting it up, I again looked for someone to cool down with, but ended up going solo again.  I ran the Promenade one more time as darkness was falling.  I won my age division (35-39) and so Brett, Chris, and I hung around for quite some time for me to pick up my prize.  Fun night! 

Results.  Not bad for an old guy. 

Post race chromium replacing.  Black IPA with Oysters (8.0%). 


The next morning I headed out from our friends' house for an hour run.  I ran two miles of roads to a local trail I had run last winter - the Stroudwater Trail.  This is super fun single track that follows along a river - through woods and powerline fields.  I turned around after 30 minutes and headed back.  This ended up being a rather peppy run - maybe because I felt rushed for time?  The road miles were all in the 6's.  Later that morning we all headed "downeast" to our lake house vacation rental on Toddy Pond.  We detoured to Five Islands for lunch.  It did not disappoint! 
Lunch at Five Islands Lobster Co.
The house was incredible and exceeded expectations.  The swimming from the long dock was fabulous and we had access to kayaks and a canoe.  It had a huge kitchen and dining area to accommodate the 13 of us (8 adults, 5 kids).  There was a ping pong table in a separate garage, and mtn bikes we could use on the local dirt roads.  I ran three times from the house.  There was an awesome dirt road section in a blueberry barren that had great views.  I made it a point to run there each time.  I enjoyed cruising around the dirt roads, but since I was spending so much time outside being active, I didn't have the need to run like I normally do. 
My favorite running spot
Despite not really needing to ever leave the lake, I still managed 5 hikes - 3 with everybody, 1 with my wife and son on his birthday, and 1 with just my son.  It was awesome.  The first full day we hiked the nearby Blue Hill, and were surprised by a newer network of trails available (not in my guide books).  We made a fun loop. 
Climbing Blue Hill
The next day we drove to Acadia National Park and hiked Beech Mountain.  Since the other boys were out golfing for the day, I got to hike with my 30lb nephew in a backpack.  This was incredibly hard!  The way up was steep and the way down was long.  Great loop hike though, and a fantastic dinner in Bar Harbor followed. 

On Tuesday, it was my son's 9th birthday.  He found a hike in a book that he wanted to do on this day.  It was a "peakbagger's delight" - 4 summits in Acadia National Park, relatively close together.  I think we (me, my son, and my wife) were all nervous at the start.  The first climb (up Bald Peak) was longer and steeper than we thought, but awesome.  From the summit we could see the three other summits we were hiking to: Parkman Mtn, Gilmore Peak, and then Sargent Mountain.  My son wasn't sure about his ability to finish while we were on Gilmore and Sargent, but persevered.  The way down Maple Spring Trail was really nice, especially cooling off in the stream as we went along.  All in all, we were out on the trails for almost 5 hours!  What a great day. 

The next day was my daughter's 7th birthday and she made it clear she did not want to hike, just spend the day at the lake.  That's what we did and it was fun and exhausting.  I did a ton of kayaking.  I also got in one adventure run on my way to the grocery store.  A few miles away off of Rte 3, there is a new trail system called the Great Pond Mountain Wildlands.  I did an hour run and it was fantastic.  I had trouble relaxing during it, since the place felt so wild and beary.  I only ran a small portion of the trails, a mix of single track, old logging roads, and wide gravel/dirt roads.  This was the hottest day of the week and I was a sweaty mess most of the time, especially on a very long and steep hill climb.  I didn't see any bears - just lots of evidence.  I wish I wasn't alone and had more time. 

Thursday we were able to do one last hike as a big group in Acadia.  We parked at the Jordan Pond House and hiked to the Triad and back.  It wasn't a super exciting hike, but it was good for the kids, and another obscure peak to bag.  The reward was a delicious late lunch (lobster stew and popovers) at the Pond House.  Lobsters at the house later at night too. 

Friday was our last full day on Toddy Pond.  My son wanted to hike in Acadia again, but no one else really cared to except me.  So the two of us headed out early for a hike he picked out on Dorr Mountain.  It was a very impressively engineered switchback trail up the steep east face.  My son did awesome, and we made quick work of the ascent.  After a windy early lunch at the summit, we descended via the north face which was an easy, quiet, and scenic trail.  Another great pick! 

Dorr Mtn east face - looking out to Champlain Mtn

The summit - our 7th in Acadia this trip! 
The last day began with running, swimming, and packing.  We stopped again in Portland for a break, before returning to RI.  What a great trip!  I already can't wait until next year. 
August Part 3: a week of workouts and stats coming soon.