Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Catching Up: 11-10-14 to 11-23-14

Here's what I've been up to the last two weeks:

Monday 11/10: 17 miles - long run with Muddy.  I took a vacation day to make a 4 day weekend and I was able to meet up in the morning with Muddy, who was also off today.  We parked at the new lot on Rte 3 in Hopkinton at the Canonchet Brook Preserve.  We ran the trails in here and then connected to Canonchet Rd at Long Pond via the Narragansett Trail.  We then ran roads for a few miles.  Luckily my trail shoes (Terra Kiger 2.0's) do well on pavement.  Muddy needed to gobble up some more town roads, and we found some cool places.  I enjoyed the nice level dirt roads in particular (Grassy Pond and Kenny Hill).  The roads back were torture.  I was extremely fatigued and could only think about my solo lunch field trip to Taco Bell I was planning (hey, it's my day off).  Muddy was dropping low 7's, and the roads were not flat.  I was almost bonking when we veered off Canonchet Rd onto Lawton Foster North.  Another steep hill awaited us, but then the footing got softer.  We finished on the trails back to our cars.  Then fun didn't stop there as Muddy had a dog tied to his truck and we waited for animal control to come get it.  Weird!  Total time: 2:10.  1,103' elevation gain. 

Tuesday 11/11: 0 - Veterans' Day.  My body was tired, but it was my returning cold that kept me from doing a short run in the morning before heading out with the family for the day. 

Wednesday 11/12: 10 miles - Ryan Park trails alone.  Decent run, decent pace.  Total time: 1:13:27. 

Thursday 11/13: 9 miles - Calf Pasture Point alone.  3 loops.  Total time: 1:09:47. 

Friday 11/14: 5+ miles - Ryan Park trails alone.  Easy peasy.  Tapering for LRR.  38:17. 

Saturday 11/15: 0 - busy day with the kids and then family and friends in the evening. 

Sunday 11/16: 13 miles - Li'l Rhody Runaround 8M Trail Race

Weekly Total: 54 miles
Last Week: 54 miles
Year to Date: 2,904 miles
November Total: 124 miles

Monday 11/17: 0 - earned rest day after monster race the day before. 

Tuesday 11/18: 11 miles - EG/NK road loop alone.  Testing new shoes - Saucony Kinvara 5's.  I needed to find a new shoe since Nike has messed around too much with my beloved Free Runs.  I can't find the 3.0 model that I like anymore on the internet (they stopped making them 2 years ago).  They don't have a Free Run model that I like as much.  Running Warehouse compared the Kinvara 5's to the Free 3.0's so I thought I would give them a shot.  Similar weight and the same heel drop.  The Kinvara's feel pretty good.  Not quite the same, but I can envision being very happy with them.  I ran a road loop that included a couple of miles of hills.  490' of climbing.  Total time: 1:15:31 (6:52).

Wednesday 11/19: 13 miles - scouting the Nooseneck 18K course alone.  I parked south of the course on Sunderland Road and connected with the race course at the intersection with Pardon Joslin Rd.  It was a chilly late fall day perfect for running.  The roads were mostly empty of cars and included many hills.  The start/finish area is a particular steep one.  It was also interesting to see new trails (to me) off of this road (technically still Big River).  The best part of the race is that it includes Pardon Joslin Rd - my favorite spot for dirt hill repeats.  I hammered home the hill and then had another 3/4 mile to reach my car.  I really want to do this race, but being the day after Christmas, it is not likely, but I'm working on it!  Total time: 1:28:10 (6:47) with 844' of climbing. 

Thursday 11/20: 8 miles - Ryan Park trails alone.  Not inspired to run today.  Total time: 1:04:38. 

Friday 11/21: 10 miles - Rome Point coastline and trails alone.  I noticed from my office window that the tide seemed really low in Wickford.  I checked the tide charts and sure enough there was a negative tide happening (-.2').  I decided to quickly head down to Rome Point and see how far south I could get.  It was a very cold day - mid 30's and a screaming NW wind.  The way out was fun.  I had the place to myself and the tide was even lower than I hoped (wind direction?).  I made it as far as ever, and debated trying my luck to go farther.  Getting my feet or possible entire lower body wet, didn't seem like a good idea today so I turned around.  The run back into the wind was brutal.  It has to be good training for something.  Once I reached the trails, I spent some time hitting up my favorites.  Total time: 1:17:04. 

Saturday 11/22: 18 miles - Arcadia/Pachaug trail loop with Muddy, Galoob, Gazelle, and Jackman.  This was a really awesome adventure with a fast crew.  I was a little scared at being able to keep up after logging too many miles the previous four days.  The pace was what I thought - spicy, but I did a good job keeping up until the last few miles.  I didn't slow down, everyone else seemed to go faster.  I was excited to explore the Deep Pond area.  The trails to/from were awesome and I can't figure out why I never made it here before.  I need to come back with the family.  Good hills and rugged terrain throughout this run.  Total time: 2:20 with 948' of climbing. 

Sunday 11/23: 10+ miles - Burlingame campground trails alone.  I ran longer than I planned.  I parked at the picnic area and then ran to the Kimball/Kettle Pond trails.  My legs were doing okay, although the thick leaf cover was tough.  I then connected to the Brrr-lingame trail course.  I picked these trails today because of the mostly smooth footing.  Thanks to mtn bikes, the leaf cover wasn't too bad either.  I felt peppy making my way around the loop.  I even stayed on course through the campground (which isn't easy).  I then was fatiguing, but had more on my agenda.  I ran through the campground to the west end of the Burlingame/Kettle Pond trail connector.  There is a nice kiosk here showing the trails.  However, I got confused due to scorched earth (recent bulldozer activity) and ended up not on the trail.  No bid deal - I'll just bushwhack over to where the trail should be.  Problem - it took way longer to connect.  My body was getting scratched up.  I finally reached not the trail I thought I was aiming for, but I at least knew where I was.  Checking my watch, I was already going longer than I anticipated and I still was almost two miles from my car.  Plus I wanted to run out to the Kettle Pond lookout tower.  I ditched that plan and just made my way back.  Sanctuary Road feels so long when you are tired and hungry.  Total time: 1:23:04. 

Weekly Total: 70 miles
Last Week: 54 miles
Year to Date: 2,974 miles
November Total: 194 miles

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Li'l Rhody Runaround 2014

Every once in a while I run a race where I feel that I've truly given it my all.  Often I enter a race in great shape and with lots of quality training under my belt, but feel a little underwhelmed with my result - not necessarily my finishing time, but wondering if I had really "emptied the tank".  I believe this is a flaw in my racing, or at least an area that can be improved upon.  Maybe it isn't realistic for every race, but I certainly see other runners who seem to be better at it than I am.  There's an extremely short list of races that I feel I've achieved this, with the best example being this year's Big River Trail Half Marathon.  I can now add the 2014 Li'l Rhody Runaround to this list. 

I didn't have as many pre-race jitters leading up to this race as usual.  I know that I am faster than last year and expected to better my PR of 48:59.  I thought that 48:30 or maybe even low 48's was possible, but I knew I couldn't be "greedy" and expect minute plus PR's every year.  I also wasn't sure that I put in the consistent speed work that I had been the previous two years.  Most of my workouts take place on trails these days.  Luckily (?), most of my running frenemies would be in attendance.  This will help, but who could I realistically finish ahead of? 

The morning of the race I was still feeling good albeit a little antsy to get started.  I picked up my brother Greg and arrived over an hour early at registration.  Already, the field was looking stacked.  I grabbed my bib and the orange technical singlet I had been anticipating.  The weather was chilly, but great for racing.  A large group of us headed out for a two mile warm up.  My body felt really good.  I returned to my car and stripped down to the orange singlet, shorts, and a hat, and I was ready to start this thing.  I toed the line up front between my brother and Mike Galoob.  Also in attendance were my targets for the day (Bob Jackman, Steve Brightman, Muddy, Ryan Davenport, Chris Garvin) and other surprises like Ben Nephew and Ryan Carrara, and probably others too.  I'm always impressed with the number of fast people who show up for this trail race.  Time to run hard for the next eight miles! 

Front and center at the start.  Photo by Jana Walker. 

The race begins on a gradual down hill on a dirt/gravel road.  The start is always fast and this year was no different.  I tried to find the balance of allowing the adrenaline to propel me without falling victim to early fatigue.  Greg was leading the charge with Galoob a few seconds behind.  There were three guys following him (including Ryan Carrara and Ben Nephew) and then it was myself and Steve Brightman.  I wanted to stay with Steve.  He beat me last year here and ran 48:30.  I made sure to not let him get away, while worrying about going too hard.  We hit the short single track section before the campground.  I was looking for some relief from the hot pace, but no one was letting up.  We popped out into the campground and I passed the first GPS mile in 5:35 - very similar to last year.  I knew there was a train of fast guys right behind me, and this motivated me to not let up.  As we approached the halfway portion of the campground I was gaining on Steve and another unknown runner.  I picked up my pace and went by without saying a word or looking back.  I wanted to appear strong.  I maintained my 5th position as we re-entered the woods.  With Greg, Galoob, Carrara, and Nephew ahead of me, I knew my race was with the people behind me. 

As I ran along this easy straight trail I could feel a runner right on my heels.  I believed it was Bob Jackman.  My goal was to not let anyone pass me at this juncture and I made the necessary surges to stay in front (mile 2 GPS 5:39).  I was anticipating the upcoming technical sections, hoping that would be a strength for me, rather than racing the fast guys on the easier stuff.  I was really pushing and seemed to create a bit of space.  I also was now gaining on Ben Nephew.  This seemed really strange, and I worried I wasn't racing smart, as I was sure he was.  Still I ended up right behind him on the very long bridge section.  I joked to him that the race was now one long bridge (since he hadn't raced here in a few years).  I'm not sure if he acknowledged my admittedly lame attempt at humor.  He seemed to slow even more, and I made the decision to pass once off the bridge.  This was right before Klondike Road.  Passing a trail legend (at least in my mind) seemed crazy and reckless, but again filled me with a rush of adrenaline.  The terrain continued to be challenging, but I was making quick work of the obstacles.  Someone was on my toes again, and I believed it was Bob. 

This section of the race is where things seem to start changing.  I was afraid of hitting the wall, which happened last year.  I tried to push every small up hill and then make sure to not let up on the descents.  I felt like this was working - I was keeping the pack behind me directly off my heels.  GPS Mile 3 - 6:19 and Mile 4 - 6:10.  I reached the water stop and jumped onto Buckeye Brook Road.  I told myself I was feeling better than last year and I was already halfway done.  Still, I didn't like being exposed on this 1/4 mile of road section.  I was sure everyone would catch right back up to me. 

I re-entered the woods and immediately felt a slow down.  That makes sense because of the technical terrain under the ledges, but it is mentally deflating.  Footsteps behind me getting closer again.  I never glanced back, but since I didn't recognize the breathing/footstrikes, I assumed it was Ben Nephew.  This validated my theory that he was running smart and I was foolish for the aggressive start.  I tried to pick it up, carelessly running over anything - jagged rocks, roots, no matter.  I've run this trail a hundred times and never had taken some of the lines I now was running.  I was taking the straightest, shortest route.  I was holding off "Ben", but I felt the inevitable pass coming.  GPS Mile 5 - 6:21.  On the rooty spot before the long climb I was finally passed.  To my surprise it was not Ben, but Chris Garvin!  This made me feel better for some reason.  He is the most disciplined trail racer I know, and the fact that he was only passing me now made me think that I was running really well.  I didn't really expect to finish ahead of him anyway today.  I was still ahead of Ben, Muddy, Jackman, and Brightman.  I couldn't hear anyone else behind me at the time.  I kept Chris close as we climbed the long hill.  I felt rather slow doing this, but somehow Chris and I tied for the Strava segment CR for this hill climb (even 5 seconds faster than Galoob who set the LRR course record today). 

Here comes the 47 minute crew.  Photo by Gail Ornstein.

Finishing up our Strava CR hill climb. Photo by Gail Ornstein.

One more.  Photo by Gail Ornstein.

At the top of the hill my in-laws were there snapping pictures and cheering the runners on. I got to hear how much space I had on the runners behind me, and unfortunately, it wasn't much at all.  This was a low moment mentally.  I vocalized a motivating phrase to myself (it would have been funny if Chris could hear this).  I dug down and pushed onward.  Except for a quick steep descent, the trail is rather flat and even for a bit (GPS Mile 6 - 6:29).  I was determined to stay ahead of whoever was now tracking me down.  Unfamiliar footsteps - must be Ben Nephew for sure this time.  I was happy for the trail to get more technical near Schoolhouse Pond Trail.  I was going to make the trail legend work to pass me, and I continued to take calculated risks over questionable objects.  For as tired as I felt, I knew I was closing in on the end of the trail.  I was proud of myself for holding off Ben at least until we got to the road.  Okay, let's finish this thing.  GPS Mile 7 - 6:37. 

I popped out onto the road with about 3/4 of a mile left.  I could hear Ben's Inov8's slapping on the pavement behind me.  Now I was gaining in confidence.  I knew I could hammer the road home.  I had enough left to do it.  Pretty quickly I could hear a gap developing.  I kept pushing and pushing, especially up the modest hill.  It was here I finally looked at my watch (I did peak at it at the first mile too).  It read 45:30's.  How much was left?  Half a mile? 3 minutes?  I knew I was PR'ing.  Garvin was ahead of me, but never got within striking distance - not that I could go any faster.  The slapping shoes sound had faded and I finally peeked back as I made the turn into the campground to confirm.  I was shocked to see the clock read a tick over 47 minutes when I got a visual.  No way!  But my watch confirmed when I crossed the line (I stopped it late at 47:08, somehow SNERRO had my time as 47:10).  GPS final .75 miles averaged 5:06 pace and my second fastest 1/4 mile recorded by Strava (over 2 years of data) in 67 seconds!! 

Finishing up.  Photo by Jana Walker. 

I was elated!  I knew I had just run one of the best races in my life and somehow knocked off almost 2 minutes from my great performance last year.  It doesn't seem possible.  After holding off the initial impulse to throw up, I gathered my breathing and watched the finish behind me.  Muddy was right after me - it wasn't Ben.  In fact, I learned afterwards that it was Muddy gaining on me on the final mile or so in the woods.  After the amount of time we've spent running in the woods together, I can't believe I didn't recognize him.  There was a sizeable gap and then Ben finished with Jackman right on his heels.  Brightman was another minute back. 

31 runners finished sub 56 minutes.  What a stacked field! 

  I continued to chat with other runners and watch friends and family finish up their races.  I then joined another big group on a 2.5 mile cool down run.  I then was beginning to bonk.  I ate some soup which helped and hung out with my kids during the awards.  It was then time to meet back up at my house for celebration. 

Me and my son.  Photo by Gail Ornstein.

Post race thoughts:

I still get excited days later thinking about the race.  My time this year was faster than everyone's time last year (a field that included Ryan Woolley, Mike Galoob, and Chris Garvin) except my brother's. 

Speaking of Mike, I didn't realize that he had set the course record.  I thought it was 44:05, but that was done when the race was 7.9 miles long and in the other direction. 

On the trail conditions topic - it was a great day weather-wise, and trail-wise no doubt, but erosion over time cannot be discounted.  The trail is not getting faster over time (despite the increased amount of bridges - I don't feel like I can even run them as fast as the terrain below them), it is the runners getting faster. 

Running an 8 mile race with the first two miles in the 5:30's and the final mile in the low 5's makes me think I have an excellent shot of a sub 17 minute 5K before the end of the year.  Might have to be a track time trial, but I should do it. 

Can't wait for the first race next month in the 4th Season winter trail race series! 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Recovery Week: 11-3-14 to 11-9-14

Monday: 0 - sick day.  My chest cold has moved into my head as well and even if it wasn't the day after the road half, there was going to be no running today. 

Tuesday: 0 - sick day again.  Not feeling terrible, but running didn't make much sense. 

Wednesday: 8 miles - East Greenwich roads and trails alone.  I decided I needed to run today.  Yesterday I stumbled upon the Frenchtown Park / Frye Nature Preserve looking for a nearby playground for my kids on their election day off.  We hiked around the mill remains and pond, but there was a map showing more trails.  I thought I would explore in there and then run down the road a bit and explore another potential small trail system (Briggs/Boesch Farm).  I did not feel great as I began my run.  My body felt tired and my lungs still not fresh.  I pushed on and after a mile of roads, jumped into the Frenchtown Park trail system.  The trails were more technical (with rocks) than I anticipated which was cool.  The tough part was the amount of leaves on the trails.  I had on my Nike Frees and could not get any traction at all.  Still I was pleased with the 3.5 miles or so I ran in there.  I then ran down the road to Briggs Farm.  They have a nice map of the trail system (on an active farm), but I got confused instantly.  The main trail had cattle on both sides and then there seemed to be a new wire across the main path.  Was I supposed to stop there?  I wasn't sure and the cattle were getting all excited as I ran by.  I decided to turn around and head back on the roads to my car.  Total time: 1:00:27 with 416' of elevation gain. 

Thursday: 10 miles - dirt hill workout alone in the cold November rain.  My health continued to improve.  The weather was dreary so I opted  to stay warm by running hills.  I ran trails in Cuttyhunk and then made my way over to Pardon Joslin Rd to my favorite unimproved dirt road hill.  I pushed the downhill and then turned around and ran back up at a challenging pace.  I did this 4 times.  I had to keep squeezing the water out of my shirt as it felt cold and heavy on my chest.  It seemed too cold to not wear it however.  This was a hard workout, but super rewarding to complete.  Felt epic in a way to be all alone in the woods running up and down this giant hill in the rain.  Total time: 1:14:43 with 1,260' of elevation gain. 

Friday: 10 miles - Rome Point shoreline (6 miles) plus some trails and roads alone.  Full moon and the low tide was corresponding to my usual lunch run time.  I decided to run the coastline around Rome Point south past Plum Beach.  One day I want to make it all the way to Casey Point.  I don't know if this is possible.  Today I made it pretty far, but inevitably faced a roadblock.  The low tide was -.3 feet.  I need to check other full moons to see if it goes even lower. Also, wind direction may help.  Oh, and getting my feet completely wet.  We'll see.  It was chilly out there today and rather quiet.  Another run with an epic feel to it.  Fun stuff!  Total time: 1:18:42. 

Saturday: 16 miles on two runs.  First was a sunrise trail run in Arcadia with Muddy and Matty P.  I mapped out a loop that included some new to me trails/dirt roads, but parts of the Breakheart, Escoheag, and Mtn Tom trails too.  It was chilly at the start (27 degrees) and my chest was feeling crappy again (cold coming back?).  The pace was peppy at times (on the dirt roads) and slow on the technical stuff (lots of leaves).  I enjoyed the long big climb up Austin Farm Rd to the top of Escoheag Hill.  We also had decent climbs up Penny Hill and Mt Tom.  We returned to our cars with some time to spare so we bagged a couple of more easy miles on wide trails.  Total time: 1:44:04 with 1,090' of elevation gain.  I then drove my kids to karate in Westerly and on to the twins' 1st birthday party in New Hampshire.  I snuck out with my brother Greg just before sunset for a short run up Daniels Mountain to Moon Ledge.  This was an awesome spot.  The trail up sucked because of all the leaves and it was so damn steep.  Greg had terrible road shoes with zero traction and fell often.  The views from Moon Ledge are awesome.  On the way back down I watched Greg slip about 20' on his butt.  He got up and then disappeared down the trail.  It was getting dark at this point, but I stayed on course.  Total time: 20 minutes with 527' of elevation gain. 

Sunday: 10 miles on two runs.  I spent the morning outside doing yard work, and when I finished I decided to bag a few miles doing home trail loops.  The weather was awesome.  The loops went well.  My times (3 laps = 1 mile) were good, and it got my kids to run around in the woods while I did them.  My daughter insisted I do a 10th lap.  Total time: 23:56.  Although not terribly exciting, the terrain is actually pretty gnarly with small ups and downs and tight turns.  Not bad trail racing practice.  In the afternoon we packed the kids' bikes in the car and met another family down in Ninigret.  This was time for my normal run of the day.  I wasn't feeling too inspired to run by myself here, but then I checked Strava for some segment motivation.  Hmm.  I could do the Arnolda loop (just under 2 miles) and then the bike circuit loop (.9 miles).  Mix in a warm up, recovery, and cool down, and the time should pass rather quickly.  I wasn't sure how fast I would be.  My cold was still "coming back" and my body was tired from all the previous days' running.  Still I gave it my best shot.  The Arnolda loop was first and it felt long.  It was really hard, but I was pleased to see that I averaged 5:37 pace and set the CR.  It took me some time to recover as I jogged passed the family to see if they were still having fun (yes!).  I made my way onto the bike loop.  There were a couple of soccer games going on and I wondered if anyone would recognize the bald bearded man sprinting around the bike track.  I reached the start of the segment (NW corner) and just let my legs go.  I felt much faster than on the Arnolda loop.  Parts of this loop were tough, especially when I was running into the wind.  I finished strong and was surprised at my finishing time (well under five minutes).  When I uploaded the data I had run the .9 miles in 4:34 (good for 5 minute flat average pace) and the CR.  Total time for the 7.1 miles was 47:09. 

Overall: Great week considering the two sick days to start and never feeling 100% healthy for the duration.  Li'l Rhody next Sunday, so another easy week on tap. 

Weekly Total: 54 miles
Last Week: 59 miles
Year to Date: 2,850 miles
November Total: 70 miles

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Gansett Half Marathon: Week of 10-27-14 to 11-2-14

I was bummed about missing out on the Mayor's Cup XC race last Sunday (10/25) when I began thinking about jumping into another race the following weekend.  A neighbor had been talking to me about the Gansett Half Marathon, but I had dismissed it as too expensive.  But besides the price, it should be a fast course and a great chance to put up a half marathon road time that I would be proud of (I've never run one before on roads).  I then sent out a couple of feeler texts to gauge other people's opinions about the idea.  After their feedback I was convinced this was a good race to try.  I registered on Tuesday. 

My week of running went well.  I snuck in a longish run on Monday and a XC workout with Galoob on Tuesday.  Then I tapered.  There were just two things working against me for a great race on Sunday: the weather and my health.  The weather initially looked good when I signed up - sunny and high 40's with some wind.  The reality was that it was going to be very windy (high wind advisory), cold (high 30's), and wet.  I awoke on Saturday feeling a little under the weather.  No bid deal, just a minor cold from my son, but it was in my chest.  I was not thrilled with the idea of running in the cold damp air with a chest cold.  I hoped the race might get cancelled.  I had a poor attitude. 

Sunday morning, and the weather may have been worse in Narragansett than advertised.  The rain was "stuck" over that portion of the state, and it was cold enough for snow to be mixing in.  The sustained winds weren't too bad, but there were incredible gusts from the north northwest.  The course mostly runs north to south and then back.  The second half of the race would be brutal.  I still had the chest cold thing going on.  I told my neighbor that I was 50/50 about going and I might need to be talked into or out of it.  She replied with this text: "My friends say we are New Englanders running in November and to buck up."  For some reason this worked.  My attitude improved and I got ready to race, including a five minute shake out run to test my legs, lungs, and how cold it really was (cold!). 

I arrived at registration about an hour early.  I didn't need to even go inside since I had picked up my bib at Camire's the day before (good excuse to get fish tacos at El Fuego), but hanging out in my car alone didn't seem appealing.  I packed up my bag with my seven wardrobe possibilities and two pairs of shoes and ran inside the inn.  The place was packed, but I wasn't seeing anybody I recognized.  I wiggled my way over to the far corner and claimed my spot. 

To backtrack a bit, I had some goals coming into this race.  Before the gloomy weather forecast, I had the following time goals: (A) sub 1:18 or better, (B) 1:18:30ish (6 minute flat average pace), (C) sub 1:20.  I really felt that I should have no trouble attaining (B), unless I did something stupid.  I was hoping for (A), and thought I had a great shot at it.  My revised goals that morning were to still go sub 1:20, but hopefully place in the top 3 (cash prizes).  I figured that the crappy weather would keep away some fair weather fast runners, and that with my trail experience and my run year round no matter the conditions training, I had a shot. 

Back inside pre-race, I finally saw someone I recognized - Derek Jakoboski.  Damn.  No chance of beating him.  Still I felt pretty confident as I scanned the crowd for other fast looking runners.  At 35 minutes to go, I headed out into the elements for a warm up.  I was cold for the first few minutes, but did warm up.  I ran along the open roads near the town beach, and got to practice running into the stiff wind.  It was terrible.  I then veered off into the woods on the Canonchet Farm Trail.  I turned around after 3/4 of a mile and returned to the inn.  It was very warm and stuffy in there.  I decided to bail on wearing tights and switch to shorts, which were still in my car.  Ugh!  More running and changing.  I wore a warm long sleeve underneath my new long sleeve WTAC tech shirt, hat, and gloves.  I switched shoes at the last minute, opting for the comfort of Nike Free 3.0's versus the lighter untested Fly Knits.  Time to line up.  Way too cold, so more running while I waited, until 2 minutes to spare.  I ducked into the crowd for body warmth.  Lots of BAA jerseys up front, and many fast looking women.  Hopefully I would not be running alone today.  I toed the line for the siren. 

I took it out very relaxed at the start.  My plan was to not go too fast, and try to stick to an almost 6 minute mile.  I executed it perfectly, but for some reason Derek (in particular) and others were starting even slower.  I was leading the race and it shouldn't be happening.  I kept checking my watch to make sure I wasn't messing up, but I was consistently in the high 5's.  Finally, as the course veered north (into the wind) on a small hill (Earles Court), Derek pulled up along side of me.  We passed mile 1 in 5:58.  I was happy to run on his back shoulder to let him do the work into the wind.  Still it was tough going.  The course then turned west for a cone turnaround (following the Super 5K course so far), and a BAA runner caught up to us.  We ran together for most of the 2nd mile, passing it in 6:01.  That seemed good considering most of it was into the wind.  Derek then picked up the pace.  I did not have any delusions of sticking with him, and instead stuck to my pace that I had settled in to.  It felt manageable, but I was disappointed my legs (or more precisely lower core muscles) didn't feel that great already.  Was this lingering fatigue from NipMuck? 

I was now solidly in third place.  My feet and clothes were already soaked, but I wasn't cold.  In fact, as we turned left onto Rte 108, the wind was pushing from the side and behind, and I debated taking off my hat.  I passed mile 3 in 6:05.  Hmm.  I continued down Rte 108 following 2nd place by about 10 seconds.  The course then veers left again on a side street (Clarke Road).  Someone was gaining behind me (another BAA guy).  With the wind at my back and a slight downhill mile, my pace seemed quick.  Oh well.  I figured this guy was going to catch me soon.  Still, I passed the mile 4 marker in 5:56, as the light rain switched to snow here.  Soon I turned right onto Ocean Road, where there were many volunteers, port-o-potties, and photographers.  It was nice to get support.  Mile 5 was a peppy 5:55, thanks to the wind.  Mile 6 was tough.  It was very open on Ocean Rd, passing Scarborough Beach.  The wind was from the side and gusty.  I was passed here by the BAA guy who had been stalking me the last two miles.  I was now in 4th place overall.  I distracted myself by taking a GU.  Mile 6 came in at a slow 6:10.  Mile 7 (6:06) was lonely, except for the Ocean Rd, Rte 108 intersection that had a few volunteers and spectators.  I wasn't happy being alone and continued to be exposed to the nasty elements. 

I was now nearing the Point Judith Lighthouse turnaround.  I passed Derek who was firmly in first place, and then the two BAA guys.  I made my turn and then was greeted with a horrifying head wind.  My tech hat (which fits tightly) almost blew off my head and I had to turn and look to my right hand side to avoid being straight into the wind.  It was deflating.  I pushed harder than ever.  Why not?  Over halfway done now.  I could see how close 5th place was to me (another BAA guy!) and also the top 2 females.  This may have contributed to my increased effort as well.  Still, 5th place moved up to my back shoulder by the time I passed the 8 mile marker (6:11).  I continued to break the wind (heading NE into the NNW wind) for this guy and knew exactly what he was up to.  I let him draft off me for a half mile or so, before deliberately slowing down and tucking behind him.  I told him it was his turn, which he said he was happy to do.  We were actually catching up to 3rd place at this point.  I was getting excited (mile 9 - 6:17).  It became obvious that the guy I was running with was slowing down.  I wanted to keep 3rd place close, so I quickened my pace and retook the wind-breaking position.  The guy I was with fell off my pace, and by the time I reached mile 10 (6:15), I had gapped him by a few seconds.  What a miserable stretch though, again running by Scarborough Beach. 

I now focused on 3rd place as I began the "climb" up Ocean Road.  5K left.  I was going to be able to finish this thing in decent shape.  I took a second GU.  I didn't know if it would help with the race, but again it was a distraction from the wind.  The hill was tough and then there was little relief the rest of the way.  Wind gusts would cripple my pace to a crawl.  The guy in 3rd place seemed to put some distance on me, but I was increasing my lead on 5th place.  It was turning into no man's land.  Mile 11 was a hilly windy 6:27!  Ditto for Mile 12 (6:20).  Just over a mile left now.  I increased my effort, but the wind seemed to increase when I reached the seawall.  I was not catching 3rd place, and kept glancing back to see if I was going to be caught from behind (nope).  I was annoyed with the traffic.  I then reached the 13 mile marker (6:11).  Time to sprint, but the wind gusted one more time through the towers that again almost took my hat away.  38s final .1 and I crossed the line in 1:20:37.  I was done!  I congratulated the guys who finished ahead of me and the guy behind me.  Soon the top women finished.  I need to get inside as I was cooling off and soaking wet.  I was the first runner back inside the inn.  I quickly changed into dry clothes and then chatted with others until the buffet opened up.  I had to wait around for a while to get my age group award (top 30-39 finisher) and then headed home. 

Results here

Even though I missed my finishing and time goals I was happy with this race.  The conditions were really tough.  My shoes and clothes were soaked the entire time.  I battled a headwind for half the race (it seemed liked more than that!).  I was slightly under the weather (my cold got worse on Monday).   Finishing 4 minutes behind Derek seems about right (he finished 4 minutes ahead of me in a 10 mile trail race earlier this year).  I'll take it, but I'll need to run another road half someday to prove I can run sub 1:18. 

Week in a glance:

Monday: 13 miles - Saunderstown mix of roads, trails, beach, and hills in 1:31:07 with 830' of climbing. 

Tuesday: 9 miles - XC workout at Curtis Corner fields and trails with Galoob.  4 x 1200 (estimated) repeats which included a decent little hill and plenty of grass.  Results: 3:52/4:00/3:58/3:56.  We then did 6 x 15 or 16 second field sprints.  Total time 1 hour with 414' of elevation gain. 

Wednesday: 9 miles - Quonset Bike Path and Calf Pasture Point alone in 77 minutes. 

Thursday: 5.5 miles - Ryan Park trails (west side) alone.  Nice and easy in 43:38. 

Friday: 6.5 miles - Beavertail roads alone.  I parked at Mackeral Cove and ran to Beavertail and back.  My effort felt easy and I was averaging 6:50 pace.  Feeling good.  43 minutes (6.3 miles). 

Saturday: 0 - chest cold beginning, took it easy. 

Sunday: 16 miles - Gansett Half Marathon with 3 miles of shakeout and warm up.  No cool down. 

Weekly Total: 59 miles
Last Week: 70 miles
Year to Date: 2,796 miles
October Total: 268 miles