Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Week in Review: 6-16-14 to 6-22-14

I was ready for a running let down post Greylock race.  This usually happens after a really awesome race or adventure.  I was pleased that this wasn't the case this time.  Some of this was due to the fact that it was a very quiet week at work.  This left a little extra time to run that I took advantage of.  I ran over 80 minutes five days straight starting on Tuesday.  And in early summer conditions to boot.  I'll take it. 

My focus is still going to be on trails and hills with some speedwork sprinkled in to keep me honest.  My next race will be Run with the Beavers on July 12th.  It seems far away, but I guess it's sooner than I think.  I hope to improve my time from last year, but I'm not sure how much faster I can go.  Maybe 1:08?  I will give it my all.  I was planning on the WTAC Bottone Track Mile later this week, but our family schedule is ridiculously busy.  There's a chance it might work out, but I'm not counting on it at this point. 

Monday: 6 miles - Calf Pasture Point recovery run alone.  This run went better than I thought, as my pace and total miles exceeded expectations.  Total time: 46:41. 

Tuesday: 11.5 miles - Big River trail loop alone.  My legs felt lethargic, but the weather was sunny and the trails were dry.  I committed to a loop after a few miles in that there was no turning back from.  I was happy to finish.  I began at Pickle Park and ran the I95 trail down to the Carr Pond side of the park.  I approached the ridge from a different direction and then ran around the west side of Carr Pond and back up Foster's Folly.  Total time: 1:37:17. 

Wednesday: 10.5 miles - Rome Point trails and beach alone.  I had the urge to run the coastline in the hot sun (mid 80's).  I zigzagged on trails before jumping on the rocky shoreline at the point and headed south.  I couldn't make it very far as the tide was super high.  I would have had to wade across the tidal stream.  I was able to keep things interesting enough to last a few more miles.  I included one yellow dot loop (approx. 1 mile with one good hill) at a decent clip (6:47) near the end.  Overall, my legs were feeling better and my pace was borderline peppy.  Total time: 1:21:34. 

Thursday: 12 miles - Exeter(?) hilly roads (paved and dirt) solo workout.  It was cooler today (high 70's), but very muggy.  I parked at the ballfield on the New London Turnpike right off of Rte 102.  My plan was hills at a good pace.  There happened to be a bunch of Strava segments I could attempt from here.  I ran up the dirt hill and down Gardiner Rd.  I turned around after I finally reached the bottom of the meandering hill.  I pushed myself back up the .9 mile hill at 6:50 pace (KOM).  I then dropped down a short steep hill on Ten Rod Rd.  This climb was tough, but didn't last long (KOM).  I was now hot and thirsty, but I pressed on to New London Turnpike (unimproved dirt road section).  This feels like an endless downhill.  You just want to get it over with since the woods are sketchy (full of random garbage like half a hot tub, and numerous ATV trails).  I finally popped out onto Dawley Park Rd (paved) and began another Strava climb.  This one was rather long and had a couple of steeper sections.  I was fatiguing, but I got the KOM at 6:52 pace.  I turned around and ran back down, ready to end this run.  But I had two more climbs on the agenda.  First, the long dirt climb up New London Turnpike (felt endless - KOM) and then the dirt climb up Ten Rod Road I had done before with Galoob a few weeks ago.  This one was interesting.  As I began the climb (with a bad attitude) I could hear a car coming in the opposite direction.  I moved all the way over to the edge of the shoulder.  Then I saw this car going way too fast coming down the hill.  The driver panicked, hit the breaks, and then began fishtailing out of control.  I jumped off the road and into the woods for safety.  The guy did regain control, but I thought he was going to crash.  I now had a good adrenaline rush to carry me the rest of the way on this tough steep climb.  I didn't get the KOM (already have it, but missed my record by 2 seconds).  I let my legs go on the descent back to my car finishing up the 12 miles in 1:24:27.  1019' of climbing.   

Friday: 10 miles - DuVal trails alone.  Slow run.  My legs felt sluggish.  It was a nice afternoon however, and the mountain laurel was blooming.  Total time: 1:24:36. 

Saturday: 16 miles - Solo Sunrise Summer Solstice trail run in Arcadia.  The plans for a group run petered out, and I wondered if I would still wake up early enough to run by myself.  My alarm went off and I ignored it, but after trying to fall back to sleep without success, I headed out the door.  I wasn't on the trail by the time of the official sunrise of 5:13AM (I was still in my car), but I was off running by 5:29AM.  My plan was to run the proposed course for a friend's wedding next month.  I'm the designer and director.  The wedding will be at Alton Jones.  My idea is to make a loop of Breakheart/Hudson/Mt Tom/Escoheag trails and then connect to Alton Jones somehow.  It looks very close on a map, but figuring it out in the woods was another thing.  I parked at the John B Hudson Trail and ran the loop CCW.  It was chilly (49 degrees!), but it felt exhilarating to be out in this great wilderness alone.  I kept the pace peppy.  When I reached the possible Alton Jones connecting spots, I explored the possibilities (not obvious) and then backtracked to the one definite one (more out of the way though).  I found an old mtn bike trail that hugs the border which was fun.  I continued on to Penny Hill where I detoured (bushwhacked) to a secret overlook I had be shown 20 years ago.  Soon after this, I began to feel tired.  I was about an hour and a half into the run.  My pace slowed and the climb up Escoheag Trail and continuing on Mt Tom Trail was a real challenge.  Coming down the ledges of Mt Tom might have been harder.  At last I hit the soft pine trails near the Wood River and reached my car after 2:12:56 of running.  Total elevation gain of 1246'. 

View from Penny Hill Overlook

Sunday: 2 miles - Kettle Pond trails with my kids.  My daughter suggested I take her and my son on a trail run while my wife was out running with a friend in the morning.  Awesome!  We drove down to the Kettle Pond Preserve and ran the trail system there.  We kept it fun by stopping every few minutes at something interesting.  Usual a giant boulder to climb.  We also made it out to the lookout tower.  24:21 running time.  I decided to not go out for any more miles the rest of the day. 

Looking out towards Ninigret Pond and Block Island Sound

Trail Running!

Boulder break

Weekly Total: 68 miles
Last Week: 55 miles
Year to Date: 1585 miles
June Total: 187 miles

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Mount Greylock Trail Half Marathon 2014

This past Sunday, Father's Day, I made the trek up to Adams Massachusetts with my dad to run the Mount Greylock Half Marathon.  I have been putting in a lot of miles the last three months, and felt like I was in the best running shape of my life coming into the race.  However, being a true mountain race, I wasn't sure what to expect.  How do 150-200' hill repeats correlate to a 3 mile, 2,300' climb?  Not to mention the 10 miles of mostly descending.  Am I ready for that?  I was about to find out. 

My dad and I got our first glance of Greylock as we drove through the nearby town of Savoy.  It was mostly cloudy and cooler than expected up in the mountains.  Greylock looked intimidating.  I was in uncharted territory.  We got a close parking spot, but already it was busy more than an hour before the start.  We saw my brother Greg immediately.  He was talking with fellow WTAC teammate Mike Crutchley and his friend James.  We picked up our bibs and tech t-shirts.  It was chilly in Greylock Glen - high 50's, cloudy, and windy.  We retreated to my car for the next half hour.  There were a lot of people now, and plenty of fit looking runners.  Greg had pointed out a few guys in particular, and that was before we saw Derek Jakoboski (local RI runner and last year's winner) near the start area.  Greg and I got in a short warm up on the end of the race course.  More fast looking dudes were doing strides in the meadow.  I hoped most were doing the short race (5K), but they had bibs with the half marathon color.  It was going to be an interesting race! 

A few weeks ago I had looked through the previous years' results to form expectations for my own race.  I thought that if everything went right, I could sneak under 1 hour and 50 minutes.  My brother thought that I should shoot for sub 1:55.  I definitely wanted get under two hours no matter what.  So I had my A,B,C time goals.  I was also curious about the opening 3 mile climb.  Greg put it in my head to not charge up it (how I usually run hills, albeit much smaller ones).  I needed to keep it slow and steady.  What does 3 miles of climbing feel like anyway?  I didn't know what to think about the rest of the course.  I knew I would have to descend fast down technical terrain.  I just wanted to keep up a hard pace and obviously not fall. 

Time to race.  After chatting with those mentioned earlier and other local trail runners who made the journey, we lined up.  I was in the 2nd row behind a woman with bib #1.  The start of the race was very controlled.  After a short field section, the trail narrowed to single track.  My heart was pounding with anticipation of the climb.  I tried to go slow and relax my breathing.  The pace was so slow though, so I weaved my way up.  As the real climbing began, I found myself in a nice groove, and passing more people, until I was in 3rd or 4th place.  I felt like I wasn't working hard and feeling good.  After a few minutes, a couple of guys went by me.  I remember being in 7th place, although I wasn't concerned with my finishing place today.  I didn't change my gear, and kept grinding up.  The trail was as advertised: three miles up.  Sometimes the grade would ease up and sometimes it was steep.  I didn't dare look at my watch and assumed I had way more to go than I thought.  Eventually, I took the cue from the runners ahead of me and power hiked certain sections.  My legs were screaming for a break and hiking didn't really alleviate them.  There was an extended flat section about 2/3 the way up.  I tried to let my legs go fast here, but they felt like cement.  It was an odd feeling.  At this point, I had passed two people and was in 5th place.  I could tell someone was right behind me gaining.  Once the trail got steep again, I glanced back to see the same guy and also my brother Greg.  I bet he hammered that easy section.  I was convinced they both would catch me as the power hiking became more frequent.  Soon, I was hearing a loud horn, which I assumed announced the summit to the runners as they went by.  Wrong!  There was occasionally one runner ahead of me that I could see on straightaways.  On a more level section, I found myself now gaining on him.  I hoped the end was near, so I was taking more chances with my effort.  We reached an auto road crossing, and it seemed like we were really near the top now.  In an "exciting" move, I was able to out power hike this guy.  He countered again as we exchanged pleasantries.  I was able to make one more pass and run the last of the climb hard enough to put some distance on him. 

I had finished the climb!  I think I was in 4th place.  (uploading to later showed my climb time as 35:38).  Now what?  It was a tad confusing and I definitely lost some time up here that you just can't recapture later in the race.  I was on a paved road following sporadic cones and pink ribbon.  At one point the course runs along a stone wall and I caught a half second glimpse of an outrageous view.  Next thing I knew I was tucking behind sheds and maintenance vehicles.  Okay, there's the first aid station so I'm still going the right way.  I didn't stop for a drink at this point.  I felt bad for the volunteers as they looked extremely cold.  I followed the pink ribbons to a trail head and began a long steep descent on wet rocks.  I wasn't seeing any more pink ribbons (the director said pre-race that it was very well marked with pink ribbon every 200 yards).  I was not going as hard as I could.  I was nervous I wasn't on course.  Eventually, I was going slow enough that I could see the last guy I passed, and he was gaining on me.  I felt better, but was still a little too cautious.  As he moved very close where I could feel him, suddenly my brother Greg went flying by both of us.  He congratulated me on my climb and darted off down the trail, assuring me we were going the right way. 

Sure enough, we immediately crossed a road with pink ribbon and a few spectators.  I shouted out to Greg to go catch the leaders and he was quickly gone.  The trail now was narrower and more technical, but not as steep.  I was making my way down with the other guy in tow.  I felt like I was slowing him down so I let him pass.  He told me that I needed to be "looser" on the descents in this race.  This was good advice and appreciated to hear from a stranger, especially because  I knew I wasn't pushing myself hard enough.  I stayed close to him for the next three minutes, and soon found myself wanting to go faster.  I announced my intention to pass, and he graciously encouraged me on. 
I was hammering and soon I didn't hear him anymore behind me.  Sometimes the trail would spill out onto an old jeep road, and I'd really let me legs go.  At some point, I decided to check my watch and possibly eat a GU.  It was at 57 minutes!  I still had a long way to go.  I ate my GU and then popped out onto a wide dirt road that climbed up.  It was the first climb for miles. 

I made good work and soon reached the 2nd aid station.  I stopped for a drink.  The kids there asked if I had a twin in the race.  I laughed, never have been mistaken as Greg's twin before (he is a twin to my other brother Glenn).  I said he was my younger brother, and they made a comment about not letting the younger brother win.  I assured them he was faster than me, but they told me that maybe today would be my day to beat him.  Probably not, but this pumped me up as I motored off. 

This section of the course was lonely.  It was an overgrown technical single track that was on rather even terrain.  There were no pink ribbons.  I could see a few sets of shoe prints in the mud and I assumed I was on course.  But the doubts crept into my mind.  I was all by myself and somehow I had convinced myself that I wouldn't see another runner for the duration of the race (if I was still going the right way).  Again, I was losing time that I couldn't earn back later.  I reached a "T" intersection with no ribbon.  Not a good sign.  I went right (down hill) rather than up.  That was my best guess.  The trail was dropping steeply now with plenty of big rocks to negotiate.  Uh oh - what's that?  There was a new runner now behind me.  I didn't remember this person being near me on the initial climb and clearly they were descending very well.  This was another motivating moment for me.  I picked up my pace and was now hammering the descent.  The woods opened to a meadow with great views.  I still didn't see any ribbon, but there were a couple of spectators and a cameraman.  I was flying through here and emerged in a parking lot.  The third aid station was here, and the volunteers had to stop me from going the opposite direction.  The guy behind me now was with me as we stopped to get water.  He said that we were on pace to clip 1:50.  Nice!  I was surprised to still have my "A" goal time in play. 

The course was now on a double track that was at times gravelly.  It was downhill for quite some time.  The guy was descending like a champ and I had no chance of sticking with him as I was going all out.  The sun was now peaking through the clouds and I began to feel warm at times.  Eventually, the trail began to climb - an easy to moderate grade but sustained.  I was doing well, climbing hard.  I had determined to give it my all until the end.  I hoped I would catch up during this ascent, but this was not to be.  Once the trail crested and began going downhill, I never saw that guy again.  The trail was getting rockier and I felt like my body was going to rattle apart as I sprinted down it.  My legs were in decent shape for this point of the race.  Unfortunately I caught a glimpse back on a turn and saw a new runner gaining on me.  Ugh!  I'm not sure why I was so upset.  I knew that I didn't have this sort of training or experience under my belt.  A couple of minutes later the inevitable happened and I was passed.  We exchanged "good job" 's and that was that.  I couldn't see this guy very long.  I believed I was now in 7th place.  Could I even stay in the top 10? 

The trail continued to descend, and very steeply at times.  The trail was rather wide though, so I could maintain crazy speeds.  I hoped that I didn't fall.  It seemed like the right place in the race.  My legs were now tiring.  Steeper and steeper the trail went down.  Surely I was near the end?  I kept thinking any moment I would recognize the end section of the course I ran as a warm up.  I kept checking my watch, but I didn't know how much was left.  I also would glance back to see if anyone else was going to run me down.  At least the pink ribbon was prominent so I could keep the hammer down and not worry about staying on the course.  At one point I passed a kid walking on the trail - was he in the race?  Finally, I reached the last stretch of trail that I had run earlier.  I knew I had about two minutes left, but unfortunately my watch had ticked to 1:50.  I tried to keep up the hard work and then sprinted the final stretch of meadow to the finish line.  My time was 1:51:38.  6th place overall. 

So close to my "A" goal.  I was happy with the way I ran the race, except for the spots where confusion caused me to slow down.  I think if I had run the race before I would have had a great shot of 1:49 on this day.  I found my brother and dad, and then limped to my car to change.  We hung out in the meadow for a while, chatting with other runners and eating.  It was then time to hit the road for the long journey back.  What a great challenging race.  I'd love to come back next year and get that sub 1:50! 


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Greylock Week: 6-9-14 to 6-15-14

Finally, a race week!  It's been awhile - since Big River in early April.  I feel confident in my training and current fitness, but thinking about a 3 mile climb up a mountain and running technical descents is intimidating.  I've done the work so now it's go time. 

Monday: 10 miles - Ryan Park trails alone.  This is becoming the Monday routine.  Work is usually busy and I can't travel far.  Ryan Park wins over Rome Point most times as the local go to trails.  My body felt stiff at the start after taking a rest day on Sunday.  I hate rest days!  I mixed up the order of trails in a unique way and kept it fresh for the most part.  Peppy pace for an easy day.  Total time: 1:15:28. 

Tuesday: 8 miles - 10 x 400 @ R pace with Galoob.  Another early afternoon session on the old URI outdoor track.  Muggy day and overcast.   I talked Mike into meeting me here instead of at CCMS in the early morning.  I just haven't felt compelled to do workout day doubles like last year.  I'm getting plenty of miles in a week without doing them.  Plus things are busy at the house, at least until school ends.  Anyway, Mike came up with another plan for us to run together during the intervals.  I would do R paced 400's (75 second target) and he would do mile repeats at 5 minute mile pace.  I ran his first and fourth mile laps with him and cool downed for 2:30 during laps 2 and 3 and then we would cool down together for 1:15 between his mile repeats.  I actually liked the shorter rest between 400's.  I would feel sluggish on the longer rest ones.  As most workouts go, the pace and number of repetitions seemed daunting early on, and then I got in a great groove, and felt like I could do more. 

Results: 75/74/74/76/74/75/75/74/75/72

Total time: 56:30

Wednesday: 8 miles - Burlingame trail loop after dinner alone.  Long day.  I was a chaperone for my daughter's first grade field trip to Casey Farm.  The farm part I had done before, but the walk down to the bay (at Casey Point) was really fun.  There is a tidal pond that is a haven for small fish and other aquatic animals.  They used a net in the pond and we also lifted rocks on the bayside to catch countless small crabs.  I have to admit to some day dreaming about running.  How much further is this spot south of Rome Point?  Could I possibly connect on the lowest of low tides?  Could I run the trail back up to Rte 1A - the sign said it was open to the public?  Hmm.  After the field trip it was off to karate for the kids and possibly the first Westerly Fun Run.  Well, the last part didn't happen as the kids were too tired and my wife just ran during their class.  After dinner at home, I debated a short run or just bagging it since I was exhausted.  At about 6:30PM I just went for it with no real plan.  I ended up running to Buckeye Brook Rd and then running some of my favorite technical trails: Sammy C's to Schoolhouse Pond to Secret.  My pace was snappy, and I felt good blowing by two stopped mtn bikers on Sammy C's.  They didn't catch me after I heard them start back up in my direction.  Despite some sun and a late sunset, it seemed pretty dark in the woods.  My vision is not the best in dark conditions and it made things tricky.  No falls though.  I crossed Buckeye Brook Rd at the red gate and continued on through north Burlingame.  I kept running into people deep in the woods with unleashed dogs.  It was really weird.  My pace was now aggressive.  I finished up with the two climbs (one techy trail one road) back to my house.  Surprisingly fun run.  Total time: 58:43 with 560' of climbing. 

Thursday: 7 miles - Big River trails alone.  This was just an easy hour run on a sometimes rainy and muggy day.  Despite the easy pace my legs feel tight and sore.  I'm chalking it up to tapering/pre-race jitters. 

Friday: 7 miles - Calf Pasture Point and Mount View mostly beach out and back alone.  I decided to attempt to run rather than rest my legs and I made the right decision.  Not as much tightness today.  The run itself was a blast.  It began pouring almost immediately for just a few minutes.  I ran the trail out to the beach and the tide was rather low (thanks to the full moon tonight).  I ran north along the shore and decided to keep going in front of the Mount View neighborhood houses.  You can only pass on the lowest of low tides.  I continued north by Quidnessett CC and splashed through the large stream (since my feet were already soaking wet).  I made it to a very rocky area at exactly 3.5 miles.  I turned around today, but someday I will keep going and see how far I can make it.  I returned via the shoreline.  Nature highlights included a Common Loon (weird for this time of year), a snapping turtle, and a Little Blue Heron in Allen's Harbor.  Total time about 55 minutes. 

Saturday: 0 - busy early Father's Day alone with the kids.  I did a Father's Day karate class with them in the morning which was really fun and I didn't injure myself.  Then we had to take the cat to the vet (injured itself outside - will be fine).  After lunch, the skies cleared and we headed down to Misquamicut for the afternoon.  There weren't many people there, good waves, and the water is warm enough to stay in for a while.  Crashed a family party at Muddy's later that night.  Exhausting non-running day! 

Sunday: 15 miles - Mount Greylock trail half marathon.  6th overall, 1:51:38.  Incredible race with my dad and brother.  Separate write up to follow. 

Weekly Total: 55 miles
Last Week: 62 miles
Year to Date: 1519 miles
June Total: 121 miles

Monday, June 9, 2014

Weekly Recap: 6-2-14 to 6-8-14

I will get these posts back on track eventually.  Last week I was able to put in three solid workouts, but keep my overall miles on the lower side.  I even took a day off!  I'm highly anticipating the Mount Greylock trail race this coming Sunday, so it'll be an easy week. 

Monday: 10 miles - Ryan Park trails alone.  This was a good mental break and the weather was nice.  I tried to mix up the routine in here and succeeded for the most part.  Total time: 1 hr 20 min. 

Tuesday: 7 miles - T pace workout on the Quonset Bike Path alone.  I was having an extremely frustrating day at work.  I didn't have time for much, but I decided that no matter how my legs were feeling, I was going to run hard.  I got the idea to run the Quonset Bike Path (original portion) both ways hard with a 2 minute break in between.  I was calling it T pace, but I wanted to break my PR for this 2.3 mile stretch, and needed to average mid 5:40's to accomplish this.  It was hot in the sun and windy.  It was one of those days where the wind always seemed like it was in your face.  I managed to run out (east to west) in 13:10 - 5:45 pace (PR).  I jogged for just over two minutes and then headed back in the other direction.  This one felt harder and hotter.  I was able to duplicate my first result: 13:08 - 5:45 pace (another PR).  One mile plus warm up and one mile cool down.  This felt good and definitely helped reduce work stress. 

Wednesday: 10 miles - I pace workout with Galoob at the URI track.  Back to back workouts.  I was excited about this one.  Mike was going to do T pace work, which is the same as my I pace.  Besides the novelty of running with him on the track during a workout, he would also serve as my pacer.  I arrived at URI earlier than Mike  and ended up doing a rather long warm up of 3.5 miles.  My legs were actually feeling better than yesterday, although I was still nervous about maintaining 5:20 pace for 4 to 6 1200's.  The outside track is a mess.  Who knows how old it is and if anyone (besides a random professor or two) uses it.  The surface is asphalt I think that has some rubber remnants on top.  It also had some pot holes and sand.  It worked fine however.  Anyway, the plan was to run 1200's  at 4:00 each (40 second 200's) and then rest for 3 minutes.  What worked better was to run the 1200 with Mike and then jog a lap, turnaround and then start back up with him.  This meant 2 minute and 40 seconds of rest exactly each time.  My legs held up well during the workout.  My mind wavered after a couple reps and during the final one (until Mike demanded I catch up and go ahead of him the last 200).  I ended up doing five 1200's: 4:00/3:59/3:57/4:01/3:56.  This felt great.  I wasn't sure I could pull this off and I did without overdoing it.  Total time: 66 minutes. 

Thursday: 11.5 miles - longish, rather hilly trail recovery run in the steady rain.  I parked at Cuttyhunk, and headed out in the soon to be ending rain (or that's what the radar looked like).  I ran over to Pardon Joslin Rd and then ran loops of single track trails.  The rain didn't let up, and I was soon soaked.  I kept my shirt on because the air temp was rather chilly.  I splashed around for quite some time before making the trek back up the hill and into Cuttyhunk.  I was happy with my time on feet the day after two hard days, and my pace was okay to boot.  Total time: 1 hr 31 min with 769' of climbing. 

Friday: 8.5 miles - 3 x Calf Pasture Point loops alone.  Another easy day.  It was warm and mostly sunny.  I ran three clockwise loops today.  I was tiring by the end, but a decent run.  Total time: 1:05:30. 

Saturday: 15 miles - north Burlingame trails with Vin Gormley 8 mile trail tempo with Muddy.  I figured I'd be running alone as others were racing and I had to be home by 8AM.  Luckily, Muddy was game for some Burlingame action and I threw out the idea of mixing in the Li'l Rhody loop as a trail tempo during our 2 hour run.  We decided to go for it, after about 35 minutes of running on the north side trails.  We were running rather hard, but conversing the entire time.  My legs were fatigued the last three miles, but frankly I was surprised this didn't happen earlier.  We finished up the loop in 53:33!  Pretty darn good.  We then ran back through north Burlingame to return to my house.  Total time: 1:48:39 with 800' of climbing. 

Sunday: 0 - yup, I sometimes take these. 

Weekly Total: 62 miles
Last Week: 63 miles
Year to Date: 1464 miles
June Total: 66 miles

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Back Road Ramble Week Recap: 5-26-14 to 6-1-14

Another busy week, another late blog post. 

Monday: 4 miles - 12 home trail loops in the evening.  This was a busy day!  Began in NH for a Hammett family gathering.  In the morning I took my dad and my son down to Mt. Monadnock for a hike.  This was my son's choice and he picked the course.  The hike ended up being longer than we all thought, but I have to say he did another great job of putting together an awesome loop - the highlight being heading down the Cliff Walk trail.  The entire hike was 4.5 miles with just under a 1000' climb. 

My dad and son looking south from the Cliff Walk

We drove back in time to meet my brothers and their families for a Memorial Day get together.  It's always fun to talk running with Greg and Glenn.  I was getting fired up about the Mt Greylock race.  Eventually, everyone had to head home, which meant I would be driving the 3 hours back to RI while my family napped.  We stopped for ice cream as an early dinner.  Once home, my wife asked if I was running today, which I kind of had ruled out at that point.  Well, I guess I could do a short run?  I ran 2 miles of my home trail loops, ate some real dinner, and then ran 2 more miles.  Total time: 32:21. 

Tuesday: 10 miles - trails/dirt roads hill workout alone.  My plan was 5 repeats of the Pardon Joslin Rd hill plus the hills in the Cuttyhunk Preserve.  I would run the ups steady and push the descents.  This was to simulate Greylock: I need to grind out a steady climb - not push too hard and then run fast downhill.  Despite my fatigued legs, the run went great.  It was hot too.  Total climbing: 1427'.  Total time: 1:17:19. 

Wednesday: 13 miles - NK/EG roads alone.  Overcast and rather chilly day.  I wasn't motivated for anything, and decided to just run some roads, making sure to add in a good climb or two.  This was going to be an easy day of 8 or 9 miles.  As is the case more often than not, my pace was faster than anticipated on pavement, and then I just went with it.  I made some choices along the way that extended my run, but honestly I thought it was going to be 11 miles.  Oops!  I did the run in 1:26:32, incorporating the 3 mile climb up Stony Lane to the top of Shippee Rd.  My average pace was 6:39, but my GAP was 6:31.  After the first mile I was in a good groove.  Going fast, but not really trying.  Felt great! 

Thursday: 10 miles - Big River trail loop alone.  Ugh!  Legs are dead.  I did a nice loop, but the easy pace felt challenging.  This was a fun course that I'd do again, except that crossing the beaver dam was really hard.  Also, the blue arrow twisty trail feels like it takes forever when you're not sprinting it.  Total time: 1:21:46. 

Friday: 8 miles - Great Swamp with Galoob.  Legs are still trashed.  We ditched the planned T pace on the bike path for a flat easy run on the wide trails of Great Swamp.  The weather was great and this run was just right for recovery.  37' of climbing!  Ha.  Total time: 1 hr flat. 

Saturday: 14 miles - Browning/DuVal mostly trail loop hosted by the Garvins with the WTAC Crew.  9 of us today!  We met at Chris's house and ran down and around Browning, dirt roads, into DuVal, back up the road to Browning again.  The pace was snappy as usual.  this was a great loop that thanks to some exploring by Chris, eliminates almost all tarmac.  The breakfast spread post race was fantastic.  I felt guilty having to leave so early and not partaking in my specialty of doing dishes.  Thanks Chris and Katie!  Total time: 1:46:27. 

Sunday: 4 miles - Back Road Ramble 5K.  This was another long busy day, so it's funny to only get four miles of running in.  I began by meeting some friends at Deep Hole in Matunuck for a dawn patrol bodyboarding session.  Well I was the only one with a sponge, everyone else was surfing.  It felt great to get back in the water.  After figuring out how to get all my gear on, I spent a solid hour and a half paddling around and catching a ton of waves.  We stayed on the eastern break and had plenty of room (the other peaks were packed despite the early morning).  Really fun session. 

Later in the morning I headed down to Camp Watchaug for the 3rd annual Back Road Ramble.  I was excited to do this race again, especially after Jeff had a hand in altering the course and made it more interesting.  My legs didn't feel too bad, but I had already tempered my expectations after running long the day before and bodyboarding earlier in the day.  I knew Tommy 5K was racing, and my only chance of beating him would be if he was more sore than I was (after also doing the long run) and if the single track sections might slow him down.  My wife was out running the Vin Gormley Trail, so I wasn't able to get a real warm up in, instead hanging out near the pond with my kids.  My dad did stay with them so I could sneak in a mile right before the start.  It was hot in the sun - mid 70's.  The hill climb start seemed daunting and then I noticed Spy Barros was in attendance.  This was going to be interesting!  After sweating out the start (waiting for my wife to arrive to watch the kids with two minutes to spare) I lined up next to Spy, Tom, and Jeff.  My plan was to just run hard and at worst get a good workout in.  I took off at the siren and was out in front on the climb up through the amphitheater.  I hit the trail downhill section to the parking lot really hard (why not?) and then found myself alone on the trek down Sanctuary Rd (gravel/dirt road).  I was waiting for Spy and Tom to pass me here, but neither seemed that close to me.  I felt someone move up closer as we were about to enter the Kimball Preserve single track.  I put in a surge and ran the trail hard.  I did not get separation, and as I emerged into the campground, Spy pulled along side of me.  We stayed together for the next half mile until the water stop (about halfway?).  I knew that I was running out of steam and then Spy pulled away on the next trail section.  I tried to maintain a steady pace, but I wasn't digging deep.  Post race this annoyed me.  My body was not in top form, but I could've fought harder the last mile.  Anyway, as I emerged back into the campground I had new company in the form of Tommy 5K.  I tried to stay ahead as we jumped back onto the Kimball trail section, but as soon as we reached Sanctuary Rd he took off.  Again no fight.  I found myself peaking back to see if anyone else was within striking distance.  I was settling.  I continued up the never ending Sanctuary Rd and then ran across the hot parking lot.  I managed to put forth a decent trail climb/road descent finish.  18:31, 3rd place.  Spy won in 18:00 and Tom was 18:07.  After the race I immediately had to drive home to get my kids' bathing suits as they wanted to swim in the pond in the worst way.  Couldn't blame them.  I soaked in the pond and then enjoyed a picnic lunch and the awards.  Jeff talked me into a quick dunk in the pond which felt great. 

The Start.  Photo by Jana Walker

Charging up the hill to the amphitheater.  Photo by Jana Walker

My wife and kids post race at the pond.  Photo by Jana Walker

After a great time at the race, my family was off to the Grills Preserve for a geocaching group hike.  This is something we'd never done before and thought we'd check it out.  The long and short of it is that it was a beautiful afternoon to hike.  The kids got tired, there was a brief meltdown, and then we hiked back.  I don't know if geocaching is something I'll ever do, but I was happy to learn about it. 

Post hike we were all exhausted.  What a day!  Time to relax at home and finally try that homebrew Muddy gave me a couple of months back.  Aged well! 

Weekly Total: 63 miles
Last Week: 76 miles
Year to Date: 1402 miles
May Total: 322 miles!!