Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Chasing Miles: Week of 2-24-14 to 3-2-14

I'm hoping that this will be the week to get back to normal miles.  Last winter I was able to power through and have big weeks right out of the gate.  This year resembles two years ago - tough winter conditions, average weekly mileage in the low 50's.  Although the trails are still unrunnable (without traction devices and at a much slower pace), the retreating snow has left the streets as a viable option.  This is not my favorite surface, but at least I can run fast on them when I choose, and pick hilly routes.  I debated shaving off the winter running beard, but with another round of the polar vortex, I'm keeping it.  At this point I should keep it on until the Brrr-lingame 10 Mile Trail Race for intimidation purposes....

Monday: 9 miles - Wakefield roads (mostly) lunch run with Galoob, Nate, and Mark.  After a dubious start, where we all had the start time and location messed up, we converged and headed up Broad Rock Rd.  We then ran some neighborhoods roads that I never knew existed.  The pace was relatively easy, although my legs didn't feel energetic. 

Tuesday: 10 miles - Saunderstown hilly roads 6 miles threshold pace workout with Rome Point icy trail warm up and cool down alone.  The rather drab, chilly, windy weather inspired me to run fast today.  I've been loving the threshold workouts and decided to map out a hilly four mile loop that could easily be extended.  I opted to begin with the hill climb on Rte 1A so that the wind wouldn't be in my face on this exposed road.  I figured that my pace might be around 6:20 by the time I finished the climb and began the long descent down Snuff Mill Rd.  I should be able to knock out a mid to high 5:40 mile to balance things out.  The rest of the miles would be relatively flatter.  The goal pace depended on how long I ran, but I used the 30 minute target pace of 6:01.  After a 2 mile warm up that included 4 strides at the end I began my workout as soon as my watch clicked 2.00 miles.  I would occasionally check my watch (tracking my average pace) and by the time I got over the steep part of the hill and was about a mile in, I was faster than I predicted.  The next mile continued to climb at an easy grade, but it was wearing me out.  By the time I began descending down Snuff Mill my average pace was 6:09.  It felt good going downhill and recovering my breathe.  I checked my watch again when I was at the bottom (almost three miles in) and my overall pace only dropped to 6:04.  Hmm.  I totally didn't go as fast as I predicted.  I guess it all evened out.  At the end of four miles I kept heading north on Rte 1A to get five miles in.  My overall pace was now 6:03.  After another half mile or so, I decided to go for 6 miles.  My last mile felt longer than the rest, and cruelly was all uphill.  I was tiring and was happy to finish up in 36:18 (6:03 average pace).  This was actually a little bit faster than the adjusted threshold pace for this amount of time.  And it was hilly.  In fact, on Strava, my grade adjusted pace for the 6 miles was 5:47!  Here were my mile times, GAP, and net elevation: 
                Pace    GAP    Elev
Mile 1     6:05     5:23     126'
Mile 2     6:05     5:48       14'
Mile 3     5:59     6:23    -135'
Mile 4     6:00     5:42         1'
Mile 5     6:06     5:48         6'
Mile 6     6:04     5:47       30'

Wednesday: 10 miles - new NK/EG road lollipop alone.  I was looking to find roads that would be out of the wind.  I mapped out a run that would mostly be on quiet wooded side roads.  The parts I was familiar with, I knew were hilly.  This proved true.  The first few miles were all uphill.  I didn't bother checking my watch and just ran however fast my body cared to go today.  I was tiring at the end, but finished up in 70 minutes.  Pretty fun course. 

Thursday: 10 miles - NK roads (8M) and Ryan Park snow over ice trails (2M) alone.  I'm lacking motivation to go to the indoor track.  Instead I ran during a snow squall outside.  I parked at the upper lot at Ryan Park and ran the field trail over to Lafayette Road.  The trail was a mess.  A coating of fresh snow on top of ice.  I had miserable footing with just my Nike Frees.  I then ran neighborhood roads, some familiar, some new to me.  The terrain was quite rolling and my legs felt tired. 

Friday: 10 miles - NK roads with Dan.  I now have run most of the neighborhoods in NK this week!  I met Dan at his house and ran his 8 mile loop.  We took a detour and made one wrong turn.  Big houses.  I overdressed because of the brisk conditions.  My legs felt fine today, but the pace was slower than what I thought. 

Saturday: 16 miles - Richmond roads early long run with the WTAC crew.  8 of us began on this chilly morning (5 degrees according to my car).  We ran through Shannock, Kenyon, up to Rte 138 and back around Shannock Hill.  The pace was peppy, and I was happy I could keep up with all the mileage on my legs this week.  FiveK and I made a good push up Shannock Hill.  Fueling issues at mile 13 - should have taken a GU sooner - I was feeling weak and the pace was getting faster.  Finished up with a fast 6:21 mile that included a good hill at the start. 

Sunday: 9 miles - local hilly road loop in the early morning alone.  With a planned trip up to Boston, and my wife wanting to run in the morning, my chance to run was going to be early.  I left my house at 5:55AM and ran in the darkness.  I headed down Shumankanuc Hill Rd, and then ran the length of Buckeye Brook Rd.  I passed another runner here - scaring them in the process - sorry!  I then ran Rte 216 (not my favorite) through Bradford and then into Ashaway.  I was pushing myself today, but knew my overall pace probably wasn't going to be that fast (since my legs had a lot of recent miles on them).  I had a hilly finish up Burdickville Road, but was happy that I got a good hard run in by 7AM. 

Overall: 74 miles!  Feels good.  My body seems healthy and strong.  More roads this upcoming week waiting for the trails to clear up. 

Weekly Total: 74 miles
Last Week: 50 miles
Year to Date: 498 miles
February Total: 214 miles

Monday, February 24, 2014

All Over the Map: Week of 2-17-14 to 2-23-14

Last week was a bit of a roller coaster.  It began in Burlington, VT on a short getaway with my wife.  Then the we returned home to sick kids and I got sick myself.  Late in the work week I got in two local quality runs.  Finally, I spent the weekend in NH with my family. 

Monday: 7 miles - Burlington VT roads and icy bike path alone.  I ran at daybreak.  My phone showed that it was just barely over zero degrees, which didn't scare me.  I began my run and noticed how cold it was.  I had decided to try out a few Strava segments in town.  The first was a downhill one along Main Street.  After a mile or so "warm up", I began flying down the road.  I was surprised with how much traffic there already was on the road (by 7AM) and I knew I would have trouble crossing a couple of intersections.  This proved true, but I still did a decent job.  However, the GPS didn't match, so I don't know how I did.  I continued to the bottom of the hill and then ran a hill segment (actually three).  I began farther down the road to match the longest one.  I didn't give it my all right away, because the grade gets tough the last quarter mile.  I went too hard too early on the steep part, and had trouble finishing strong.  I ended up getting the KOM over a 106 people for the long segment.  The shortest segment I missed by a few seconds.  I then ventured down to frigid Lake Champlain and ran north along the shore, mostly on the bike path.  I kept hoping I had been running long enough to turn around and go back.  I could tell it was really cold out, but my body still seemed okay.  Finally I made the decision to go back.  I tried running hard up Main Street for a segment that I still owned from last year, but I had to stop at a light and there was snow and ice on the side of the street I was running.  The GPS didn't match either.  Still a good long hill climb.  When I returned to the inn where we were staying my wife looked a little concerned.  Apparently it was now -5 degrees in Burlington.  Definitely the coldest I've ever run! 

After some morning wandering around town, including walking out on the ice and snow covered Lake Champlain and an awesome lunch, my wife and I headed to a nearby state park to snowshoe.  The snow was deep and we tried to find the Hill Top Trail that had open views to no avail.  Still it was fun being out in the snow and sun. 

Tuesday: 7 miles - Burlington VT roads alone.  I planned out a loop that incorporated quite a few hill climb segments.  It was much warmer this morning - in the low teens.  First, I headed down Main Street and did the short hill climb I missed by a few seconds yesterday.  I guessed that the leaders ran the sidewalk on the opposite side of the road, as the one I ran yesterday veers away from the road and is longer.  I hammered this steep incline, and felt exhausted when I finished.  It turns out I missed the record by 1 second!  I then went back down the hill and did an even steeper short hill segment on Depot Road.  I had no dilusions of getting the KOM here, as it looked like this was the hill segment that people went nuts on.  I managed 11th out of 111.  I could do much better if this was my sole focus of the run.  I then headed south and worked my way over to some more hill climbs.  First an easy-ish segment on Locust Street (KOM by 1 second).  Then a popular couple of segments on Prospect Street.  I have to admit I was getting tired and a bit confused on where the segments began and ended, but I got the KOM on one and missed the other by 2 seconds.  This road was filled with fit looking runners (part of UVM campus) and it felt good to get my name on top of the leaderboards. 

Wednesday: 0 - sick day.  I took the day off from work to stay with my kids, home from break and getting over a stomach virus at my in-law's while we were up in Burlington.  My stomach had been feeling off as well, and I had body aches and chills on Tuesday night.  I was feeling better today, but tired and weak.  Easy decision to zero. 

Thursday: 10 miles - Quonset roads workout solo.  I was back to work and feeling close to normal.  I was excited to run in the warm weather, but clear roads would be an issue with so much snow still around.  I decided I could run the open roads in Quonset I did quite a few workouts on last year.  I hoped I felt well enough to do a threshold workout - hopefully 5 miles at adjusted T-pace.  I ran a two mile warm up and then dialed up the pace for the workout.  My target pace was 6:01.  I glanced at my watch early on and saw 5:48.  I then relaxed and by the time I checked again, my pace had climbed to 6:15's.  Oops!  I tried to push just a little harder the rest of the way and my average pace slowly dropped to 6:04 by the end of five miles (30:21 total time).  Any other day I might be bummed, but my body definitely was not 100%, so I was pleased I could still almost nail it.  I'm excited to keep making these runs longer and doing them outside rather than a 200M track.  I was able to extend my cool down to 3 miles. 

Friday: 14 miles - Saunderstown hilly roads alone.  Wow, I was really unmotivated today.  My body felt tired and I blew off going to the track for short intervals.  I finally drove over to the Rte 1A park and ride and got myself out in the dreary weather.  It was above freezing (high 30's), but not the forecasted 50 degrees, and it was overcast and very foggy.  Since I would be traveling up to NH early on Saturday, I knew I wasn't going to be able to get a long run in this weekend.  This was my chance.  I just began running.  I stayed mostly on the east side of Rte 1A.  I kept the pace casual, but hit up many hills (about 10).  These I would run at a harder effort, but not my normal attacking pace.  After a few miles I got in a good groove.  Sure the weather was crappy, my feet were wet, my legs tired, but I was putting together a pretty awesome run.  I went as far south as the end of South Ferry Road at the Bay Campus.  I finally glanced at my watch and figured I could get to 14 miles.  This was a little harder than anticipated, because I had to run more hills in Plum Beach to get the full mileage in. 

Saturday: 6 miles - Stoddard NH slushy dirt roads alone.  I was hoping that my brothers would want to run after a big midday meal, but Glenn already had run and Greg is injured.  At 4PM, after they had left, I willed myself outside to run on the messy dirt roads.  I tried to stick to the flatter parts, but I ended up getting another 500' of climbing in for the week. 

Sunday: 6 miles - Stoddard NH icy dirt roads with my wife.  We ran most of the same roads as I ran yesterday, but at a nice easy pace.  My legs are toast, so this was welcomed.  After almost 5 miles together, I tacked on some more (including a big hill) to get 50 miles for the week. 

Overall: I'm happy to get to 50 miles again.  Someday I'll be back into the 60's, but this winter and my schedule are just not cooperating.  Oh well.  Feeling relatively fit.  I was happy to get the T-pace run in and get to 3,400' of hill climbing for the week. 

Weekly Total: 50 miles
Last Week: 50 miles
Year to Date: 424 miles
February Total: 165 miles

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Hamstrung: Week of 2-10-14 to 2-16-14

Last week my running was literally and figuratively hamstrung.  I ended up taking my first day off since January 1st and my first official injured day since sometime in 2012.  My left hamstring that had been sore and sometimes worse from the week prior, was not getting better so I shut it down.  I ran easy the next day and it felt okay.  I then nervously ran long the next day and it held up great and is now a non-issue.  This horrible winter weather was the other limiting factor on my running.  Three snowstorms during the week.  That was on top of the already thick snow cover.  This leaves not many exciting options for running.  I can go to the indoor track.  I can run with snowshoes, but not far.  I can try running on shoulder-less roads with sketchy footing.  Somehow I was able to salvage a 50 mile week. 

Monday:  7 miles - Wakefield/Narragansett roads and icy bike path with the WTAC crew.  Pre-celebration run for the Super 5K team victory.  My hamstring was sore from the race the day before, but I was happy to run with friends on a sneaky cold afternoon. 

Tuesday: 7 miles - Ryan Park snowshoe run alone. I ran two trail loops on the western side of the park. I enjoyed the solitude and focus required on snowshoes. 

Wednesday: 7 miles - URI Indoor Track workout alone. I ran a one mile warm up and then did 5 miles @ T-pace (adjusted for time). My total time for the 5 miles was 30:09. One mile cool down. I was happy that I could hit the target pace without much effort. However, my hamstring was biting the entire time, and I gutted through the pain (since it wasn't getting worse).  Icing afterwards seems to help. Total time: 46:05. 

Thursday: 0 - injury day (and snow day). I debated a short snowshoe run from my house, but Galoob talked me out of it. More icing the hamstring.

Friday: 6 miles - Saunderstown roads with Galoob. We met up at the park and ride on Rte 1A and then headed down Snuff Mill Road. We stopped briefly to chat with Sandals, who was in his driveway. I was nervous about my hamstring, but it held up well. The overall pace was easy, but the effort seemed a little harder to me (probably feeling the effects of Wednesday's workout in them). 

Saturday: 17 miles - Chariho hilly road loop with the WTAC crew (8 of us!). I was nervous about this run. I hadn't run longer than an hour and a half in quite some time. I wasn't sure if my hamstring (now feeling almost 100% normal) could hold up. I was afraid Jeff and FiveK would push the pace to something I couldn't maintain. Luckily, I was the one planning the route, so I picked one that had a bunch of big hills in it. It also had options to make it shorter, and that's what FiveK, Garvin, and Nate chose to do. The rest of us (Jeff, Muddy, Mike B, Seth, and myself) did the long version. The pace was fine and like magic, my body felt better as time went on. I was enjoying chugging up the hills. I had no issues with my hamstring. Energy-wise I was fine. This run, besides being super fun, was a confidence builder. I still have plenty of fitness. I'm healthy again. 

Sunday: 6 miles - local hilly, snowy roads alone with Yaktrax. After a snowy night replacing chromium with Muddy and Co., I somehow had enough willpower to run in the morning.  The roads were plowed, but were still covered with snow and ice. These are actually the perfect conditions for Yaktrax. I ran the 4 mile hilly loop from my house and decided to tack on some more mileage (and hills), as I was feeling good. 

Weekly Total: 50 miles
Last Week: 47 miles
Year to Date: 374 miles
February Total: 115 miles

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Belleville Pond 10K Trail Race 2014

This past Sunday, I ran the 3rd annually Belleville Pond 10K Trail Race.  It was also race #3 in the South County 4th Season Race SeriesLast year was a breakthrough race for me.  I gained a lot of confidence from that performance and it carried me throughout the year on trails.  This year I hoped to duplicate last year's result.  I thought that I was capable of finishing in 38:30.  I had been doing a lot of speed training the last month.  I knew the course better than anyone.  I had the confidence. 

Things changed.  The trails that had been clear of snow, dry, and in fast shape the weekend prior, received two bouts of snow the days leading up to the race.  I was watching the forecast like a hawk, and hoped that it would be warm enough the couple of days before the race to melt the snow significantly, or at least with some traffic, be packed down.  Well, it never got above freezing the rest of the week after the second storm on Wednesday.  On Thursday, I ran the course with three other guys.  Besides the obvious fact that the parking lot was never plowed, the trails themselves were a mess.  The main trails had some uneven boot holes to deal with and the other trails had a thick crust with at least 6" of powder hidden underneath.  It took us twice as long to "run" the course as I hoped to race it.  Thoughts of returning on Friday to further pack it down were vanished.  It was too hard.  This goal race was looking to be more of a novelty race.  One that I experienced just a few weeks ago in the Old Mountain 5K.  One that I had trouble with traction and speed.  The snow race. 

The morning of the race finally arrived.  My thoughts wavered.  At times I still envisioned having a strong race if the trails were packed down just enough.  Certainly I had the base and the heart to gut it out.  Take it out hard and see what happens.  Maybe I could win or at worst finish top 3?  Other times I felt like it was destined to be a repeat of the snow race at Old Mountain.  I would have trouble with traction or just the wrong stride for snow running and I would finish off the podium.  It would be grueling, an adventure, and a good story.  Which would it be? 

My dad and I arrived about an hour early.  The parking lot was never plowed, which I wasn't surprised about since I work in North Kingstown.  People were having trouble parking, and I barrelled my Hyundai right into an untouched snowy spot.  I'd worry about getting out later.  After getting my bib and chatting with friends and teammates, it was time for a warm up.  Many were avoiding the snowy trails altogether.  I at least wanted a preview of the race conditions.  Jeff joined me as we tried the field finish area first.  My heart sank as the going was incredibly tough.  We jogged on the icy roads and then tried the main trail around the eastern end of the pond.  The going was much better.  It was packed down rather nicely, still slightly uneven, but runnable.  My confidence came surging back.  Hopefully most of the course would be like this and not like the field section.  I knew that I had to take my shot. 

Jeff, Seth (he joined us near the end), and I finished up our warm up and I had some time to change clothes and shoes before the start.  The day felt cold when I first arrived, but after an easy effort during the warm up, I was very warm.  I switched to shorts and one long sleeve layer besides my singlet.  I didn't even wear a hat, just gloves.  For footwear I took off my trail shoes (and Yaktrax) and put on my lighter Nike Frees with Yaktrax (the combination that worked so well for me last year).  I felt light and ready to roll. 

I toed the line and waited for the siren.  I picked a spot right in front of the only tracked snow.  I was ready to go for it.  This was going to be hard.  I hear the siren and take off.  Having the best line, I easily jumped out in front.  The first 100 yards was tough going since it wasn't packed down that well.  I reached the better trail around the pond and was able to push myself faster.  The hope was that an aggressive start might lead to a lead and get out of sight situation. The reality was that I was leading at least two faster trail guys, Chris Garvin and Bob Jackman, and I knew they weren't going to let that happen.  But I thought this strategy would at least lead me to a top 3 finish.  At least the trails were somewhat cooperating. 

Photo by Jana Walker

Photo by Jana Walker

Right away I noticed my left hamstring biting.  This was an out of nowhere injury that popped up on Tuesday when I was warming up for a track workout.  It continued to be sore to the touch, but it did not bother me with my slower runs the rest of the week.  I wasn't sure what was going to happen with it during this race.  Would it get worse and I would have to drop out?  I just tried to ignore it, and it stayed about the same discomfort level for the duration. 

Despite the fact that I was working hard, I believed it was an effort I could maintain.  I passed the one mile mark and was still leading.  This is where I fell to third place last year, but this time I stayed up front.  I kept telling myself to keep it up.  You can do this.  This is tiring for everyone.  You can outlast them. 

Right about the two mile mark we veered off the main trail and onto a side trail that only had a few footprints on it.  The going was really hard and my pace fell off considerably.  The trail was not packed down at all, and there was plenty of slippery powder to step on.  I felt the train of runners behind me breathing down my back.  I was beginning to panic this was going to be the end of me.  These conditions mimicked Old Mtn, and I would not do well in them.  I was holding out hope that the upcoming hills would be my only chance of staying out front. 

Well, after a couple of short steep hills, things did not improve at all.  At the beginning of the Rte 4 trail, Chris politely told me he was going to take the lead for a minute.  This move set off a flurry of counter moves.  Bob went flying past me to stick with Chris.  Seconds later Jeff went gazelling by too.  I tried to pick up my pace, but it was useless.  I had no traction.  There was nothing I could do but work hard to maintain my slow pace.  I had a group of runners on my heels.  Who would be next to go by? 

I reached the field trail, and it brought some relief and increased speed with it's packed down condition.  I had Justin behind me, commiserating on this horrible sufferfest.  Just as we headed down the hill and back into the woods we were passed by another teammate, Nate.  He was moving really well, and got a good lead on us right away.  I wasn't surprised since he beat us in the snow at Old Mtn.  The trail conditions were again not good.  My pace was so slow.  I just wanted Justin (and another unknown runner behind him) to pass me, so that I could run alone.  I felt pushed.  I had the stamina to keep up with the suffering, but knowing that I wasn't going to catch anyone and probably get passed by others before the end, was not motivating. 

I reached the more packed down railbed.  We could see Nate again, and the huge lead he had on us.  I was hoping to increase my pace dramatically, but after a hundred runners had come through on the way out, the snow was rather mushy now.  Every couple of steps my momentum would be interrupted by my foot sliding.  Ugh!  Justin stayed on my shoulder and I joked that we should make a pact to finish together.  I knew he is way too competitive and that he probably would make a move somewhere near the end of the race.  I didn't have any desire for a battle.  We also still had unknown company lurking.  I reached the final trail section that was rather runnable.  I took what it gave.  Justin said we dropped the guy.  We reached the parking lot with only the deep snow of the field to finish.  I thought Justin would pass here.  Nope.  The field immediately knocked my pace down to a crawl.  It was so disheartening to watch the "dropped" guy fly by us.  As we rounded the last curve and had the finish line in sight, Justin made his move.  I ignored it, and the encouraging words of the spectators, and sulked to the finish line. 

Sulking to the finish.  Photo by Jana Walker

I finished my race about 13 minutes slower than last year.  I sat down on a bench and threw off my useless Yaktrax.  I also noticed both lower legs were bloodied.  Then my hamstring tightened and throbbed.  After exchanging congratulations I hobbled to my car to get warm and sulk some more.  Running a cool down wasn't an option.  I made my way back over to the finish area for my favorite scalding hot chocolate.  My dad found me and I was happy he finished faster than I assumed.  I talked quite a bit with CT runner Todd Bennett.  I won some beer thanks to my awesome team. 

After I got home, I felt better about the day.  I gave it a shot, and I would most certainly do it again.  I wasn't going any faster on the beginning trails than I wanted.  If the conditions allowed, I would have done my best to maintain that pace for the entire race.  I don't do as well as others in the snow.  That is a reality.  I could (and will) try different traction devices in the future, but it's more than that.  Congrats to Chris Garvin on the win, Mike Galoob and family for throwing another memorable event, and the rest of my teammates and running friends for a great day. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Last Week: 2-3-14 to 2-9-14

Monday:  7 miles - snow run in Ryan Park with Garvin and Galoob.  Surprise post-Super Bowl snowstorm.  The roads were a mess and there was about 4" of fresh snow and still snowing when we met up.  The run was super fun, but I was not looking forward to the prospect of another snow race coming up at the end of the week.  Total time: 58:26. 

Tuesday:  3.5 miles - URI indoor track planned workout with Galoob.  The Daniels workout of the day was either 4x800 @ R pace or 3 x 800,200,200 @ R pace.  I was going to do the latter.  Near the end of the warm up and during our strides I noticed my left hamstring tightening up on me.  Didn't seem like a bid deal, but I couldn't shake it out.  I began the first 800 and it was biting me.  I stopped after a lap.  Not wanting to ever quit a workout, I proceeded to try to stretch, massage, and jog it out.  I couldn't get it loose, so I ended up quitting - something that really annoyed me.  Total time: 36:26. 

Wednesday: 4.5 miles - hilly snowshoe run from my house.  Snow day.  Second storm of the week brought another 5" or so before changing to sleet and freezing rain.  I ran down the hill through the woods behind my house and wandered around for a bit.  The going through the deep wet snow was brutally slow and challenging - especially any gains in elevation.  I was surprised to see human tracks at one point until I realized they were mine - totally got turned around.  I then bushwhacked my way through the briars and bent over trees to reach my road across from the beaver pond trail.  Someday I will make a trail that does this, but it's really wet and overgrown in places.  I slogged down to the pond and decided I should turn around.  Unfortunately that meant two big hill climbs and more bushwhacking.  Hamstring felt okay - sore to the touch. 

Thursday: 9 miles - snow run in Ryan Park with Dan, Nate, and Mark.  We just ran the Belleville Pond 10K race course to break trail and hopefully pack down the snow to make the race more runnable.  The parking lot was unplowed and a mess.  The trails weren't any better.  It took us twice as long to do the course as I planned on racing it (before the snow).  The railbed and trails around the pond had foot traffic that was uneven to run on.  The rest of the trails we had to punch through a top layer of ice and then sink into deep powder.  It was fun to suffer with others, but when you are working your butt off to run 13 minute miles, it was horribly difficult.  I'm calling it nine miles of effort.  Total time: 1:17. 

Friday: 8 miles - URI indoor track solo.  With no great options to run outside, I ventured down to URI hoping that I could restrain myself from running too hard.  I put on my headphones and looped around the track for 8 miles - 64 laps!  My hamstring did well - it is still a bit sore to the touch, but not an issue running.  My pace was about 7:20 for the first 6 miles.  I then built up my pace the last two just for fun.  I ran mile 7 in about 6:30 and the last mile in 5:30, but it felt effortless.  Total time: 55:22. 

Saturday: 7 miles - local roads in the morning alone.  I forgot to make a plan to run with someone else, so I had to run by myself on this frigid morning.  I waited until 7:45, but it was still only 13 at my house and I knew it would be colder in the valley (Wood River Jct).  I didn't worry about my time, but I was a little concerned about being cold the first few miles.  In Alton, I was in the sun, and felt warmer.  My legs today didn't feel as great as I hoped, but running in the snow (earlier in the week) is always tough on them.  I had to finish by climbing Burdickville Road - never easy! 

Sunday: 8 miles - Belleville Pond Trail 10K in the snow.  See separate write up. 

Overall: Sort of a crappy week.  This winter has been tough and not motivating.  The hamstring issue is annoying and hopefully doesn't stop me from training my butt off the next 6 weeks until my next race. 

Weekly Total: 47 miles
Last Week: 63 miles
Year to Date: 324 miles
February Total: 65 miles

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Super 5K 2014

I'm a little late on this report and lost a little motivation to write after being "outblogged" recently.  I will give it a shot. 

I came into this race with mixed expectations.  Sometimes I would think that I was capable of rocking a 16:59 PR.  Other times I figured I would be happy just to beat last year's disappointing result (17:35).  What I didn't do was taper.  Somehow, after the previous Sunday's indoor mile race, I did workouts on Tuesday (3 x mile @ 5K pace indoors), Wednesday (trail 10K tempo), and Thursday (4 x outdoor mile @ T pace).  My legs didn't feel bad on race day, but certainly this wasn't optimal.  This wasn't even my plan for the week, but I got carried away.  The other issue was that I was extremely anxious the night before and morning of the race.  This was beyond pre-race jitters, and dipping close to anxiety attack zone.  I'm not sure what was the trigger, but it was not fun. 

I got my act together and drove over to Narragansett.  I was hoping seeing my teammates and running would be the distraction I needed.  This proved to be the case.  I was ready to turn this anxiety into an awesome race performance.  So many familiar faces at registration.  I made sure to get out early enough for a warm up so that I had some time before the race.  I've felt rushed the last two races coming back late from warming up.  If it meant I needed to go solo, then so be it.  Luckily, Justin and Mike were able to join me.  I wanted to run nearby trails, but Mike convinced us otherwise.  I'm sure it was a Daniels thing.  We ran the course to check out the conditions.  Yup, I still hate it.  It is picturesque, but the hill at the end of mile 1 is tough in a 5K, I hate cone turnarounds, and it is always going to be windy along the water.  Okay, I just don't like roads too.  Anyway, it was going to be a headwind on the way out, tailwind on the way back.  Mike kept hammering home the idea of staying on pace through the turnaround.  It was downhill or flat the rest of the way with a tailwind.  Got it. 

I had a little over 10 minutes to spare for the start.  I fiddled with my wardrobe options: shorts and windbriefs or just shorts?; no hat, winter hat, or brimmed hat?; gloves or no gloves?  It was hard to pick since it was sunny and warm (mid 40's).  After figuring that out, I went back outside and did some strides.  We were told to line up and I parked myself behind Mike and next to many of my teammates.  After a longish wait, the gun went off. 

The start.  Photo by Jana Walker

What I do love about this race, besides the team competition, is that there is more competition for my level of running than in most local races.  I knew to not go out too fast and not be up front.  I kept my pace under control, and without looking at my watch, I knew I was in a good spot based on who was around me.   

I see me.  Do you see me?  Photo by Jana Walker
I was chasing the chase group that included Chris Garvin, Tom Bosquet, and Shaun Horgan.  Next to me was new TNT nemesis Dan Hawkins.  We seemed to take turns leading each other through this mile.  Nearing the turn onto Earles Court (the Hill), I checked my watch, assuming I was going low 5:20's.  Nope - 5:27.  This was not a good sign since I hadn't reached the hill that was definitely going to slow me down.  I made the turn and plugged away.  I passed a guy on this climb and he muttered good job to me.  I reached the mile mark in 5:35.  Okay, this is not going to be a PR day.  I continued to fight up the hill when Justin went by me.  Hmm.  I thought he was going to have a good day, but I didn't expect him to pass me on a hill.  My legs didn't want to go any faster and I was working hard.  I lost contact with him right away.  I was more focused on Dan.  He was still right on my heels after the hill.  We took another left and headed towards the cone turnaround.  I felt like I was giving a great effort, but I was clearly well off pace.  It was cool seeing Mike close behind Will Sanders.  I was a little afraid he was going to yell at me for not staying on pace.  More WTAC jerseys soon followed: Woolley, Garvin, Tom, and then Justin.  I then made a terrible turn around the cone.  I feel like I come to a complete stop. 

Now I had the wind at my back.  I could see many more WTAC jerseys heading in the opposite direction and many people called out my name.  I couldn't talk, I would just give a thumbs up.  Dan was still right with me and I was now nervous that my teammate Nate was getting closer.  At the mile 2 marker  (watch check - 11:27 - 5:52 2nd mile - really?) Dan surged ahead of me.  We were descending the hill.  I didn't let him get away.  I knew I could at least have a strong finish.  We then reached the long straightaway along the seawall.  I was working hard a second or two behind Dan with Justin another 10 seconds or so ahead of him.  I checked the distance on my watch, wondering when I should try to make a move.  There was about 1/3 of a mile left.  I threw down a sprint and passed by Dan.  I think he made a groan that let me know he was probably done.  I was still scared, since he ran a 4:37 mile the weekend before, and what about Nate? 

Last strides to the finish.  Dan behind me.  Photo by Jana Walker

I was able to put on a final sprint rounding the last turn to the line.  17:29 finish time (5:28 mile 3, 4:50's pace final .1).  My effort seemed like it should have been 20 seconds faster.  I'm hoping it was the hard week of training that was the cause, and not that 17:29 is the shape I'm currently in. 

It was fun chatting with everyone about their races and doing a large group cooldown.  It was then time to head back inside for food and awards. 

Men's and Women's team winners!  Photo by Jana Walker