Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Weekly Log: 12-21-15 to 12-27-15

Very busy week interferes with normal running routine. 

Monday: 8.5 miles - Ryan Park trails with Galoob.  Fun to have a lunch run partner in Ryan Park.  Hit up the good stuff on the western side before sticking with mostly wider easy trails on the eastern side.  Total time: 1:08:31. 

Tuesday: 0 - last day in the office for the year.  Then I had to run a bunch of errands.  It rained a lot too.  Celebrated the Winter Solstice with a bonfire at my house. 

Wednesday: 17 miles - long trail run in Burlingame.  My wife and I began together and ran a techy loop of Sammy C's and Vin Gormley trails.  After 55 minutes together, I then headed back out solo.  I circled around Secret, Schoolhouse Pond and Sammy C's trails.  I then did the north camp loop and Lenny's Lane for the next hour.  I finished up on the wider and hillier trails north of Buckeye Brook Rd.  The sun came out (the day was already warm and humid) and I ditched my shirt.  This weather is crazy.  Total time: 2:28:24 with 928' of climbing. 

Thursday: 0 - too much going on. 

Friday: 8 miles - Vin Gormley trail loop alone in the morning.  Merry Christmas!  I was able to head out after presents and breakfast for a HHH run in the woods.  I parked at the red gate on Buckeye Brook Rd and ran the yellow dot trail counterclockwise from there.  Uneventful run other than the fact that it was very steamy out and I again had to go shirtless for the end of the run.  Total time: 1:03:26. 

Saturday: 12.5 miles - Carter Preserve trails alone in the late afternoon.  My running plans again took a backseat as I had hoped to run the Nooseneck 18K.  Too much family stuff going on.  I instead got out around 3pm for a cruise around Carter.  I mixed up my routine to make it longer than usual.  Pretty dark by the end.  Total time: 1:31:48 with 731' of climbing. 

Sunday: 8 miles - CHS track workout alone.  I got a late start - 3:45pm.  We were busy in the morning and then I wanted to watch the Patriots.  I ended up leaving before the end so that I wouldn't end up with 3 zeroes on the week.  I parked at the track and did a cross country warm up of 2.5 miles.  I changed into my spikes (checking up on the game at my car) and then did two laps around the track with strides.  My plan today was to do 200's.  Hopefully a lot of them at 35 seconds.  This first one felt hard but I was surprised to see it was a 31!  Way too fast.  I tried to take it down a notch, but then did 5 more in 33, 33, 33, 33, and 32.  200 rest.  I did not and possibly could not do anymore at that speed.  I jogged for 1000 and decided I would try to do 2 or 3 800's at I pace (2:40ish).  These felt pretty smooth: 2:36, 2:37, 2:36 with 400 rest.  I was stoked!  1 mile cool down on the track in the dark.  Patriots lost.  Total time: 56:02.  If you're keeping track at home, I ditched my shirt again during the run! 

Overall: Well I did manage a long run and a workout and I feel like my fitness is still there.  It's weird taking zeroes however. 

Weekly Total: 54 miles
Last Week: 51 miles
Year to Date: 3,448 miles
December to Date: 225 miles

Monday, December 28, 2015

Old Mountain Field Trail 5K 2015

Can this really be the fifth Fourth Season already?  Saturday the 19th was the Old Mountain Field Trail 5K.  Experience has told me that I usually finish around 5th place in this race.  Too many fast dudes come out and I don't have the speed to match them on such a short race, even though it is rather technical.  My hope this year was that with RD Mike Galoob tinkering with the course to make it even tougher, adding 2 ascents of the "Old Mountain", I would fair better.  But honestly I didn't feel like my training had been that great the previous few weeks.  I was very uncertain how this race would pan out. 

Race day and the weather was feeling rather wintery, at least cold compared to the extremely warm temperatures we'd been experiencing.  The rain the previous two days left the course very wet and muddy, except on the "mountain".  It was hard to keep my feet from getting wet on my warm up over the first 2+ miles of the course with Jeff and a young WTAC teammate.  I decided to wear my Inov 8 Trailroc 245's rather than something lighter due to the conditions.  I really hoped the messy trails and the additional hill climbs would help me.  I was feeling good and strong.  I chatted with many WTAC teammates pre-race and some rival team frenemies.  I did a bunch of strides in the parking lot and tried to stay warm through a delay to the race start.  Finally it was race time! 

The start.  Photo by Jana Walker. 

My plan was to not go out fast.  Usually this race is a mad dash to the single track, but this year the course ran around a field and then entered a wider trail up the mountain.  It would be very easy to burn myself out on a layout like this.  Luckily everyone else seemed content to not sprint at the gun.  Brightman went out to the lead (which I assumed he would do), but not too fast.  I settled into a chase pack with current Level Renner coverboy Eric Lonergan and Bob Jackman.  We circled the field and then dashed up the hill in the woods. 

Early chase pack (Brightman leading).  Photo by Mwangi Gitahi.

Into the woods.  Let the fun begin!  Photo by Jana Walker. 

Once in the woods, things got interesting.  Steve led us up the hill at a pace that felt very confortable to me.  We fell into a single file line once we got over the top of the "mountain".  The trail narrowed dramatically and Steve really slowed down the pace.  Bob and I (3rd and 4th) got antsy and we made our move around Steve and Eric as soon as possible on the more open downhill.  Bob was up front now, but I felt the pace still was too slow.  Throwing caution to the wind, I made my way around him to take the lead.  I was feeling strong since I wasn't winded from a too fast start.  I pushed the now technical single track to the best of my ability.  I could feel Jackman staying right with me, but it seemed that Eric and Steve had fallen back a couple of seconds.  I ran over the rocks and began with the wet and muddy trail I affectionately call "zero track" since it is barely a trail.  I was slipping a lot, but I needed to be aggressive to keep the lead.  I did well for a few minutes, but then had a hard fall on a wet rocky section.  Luckily I braced my fall enough to not let my abdomen smash onto a large rock.  I got up quickly and tried to regroup.  Bob slipped by me, but I got going again before Eric and Steve could.  Bob had a second or two lead and I heard Steve tell Eric to "not let Bob go!".   Eric tried to pass me, but it was too passive.  He found another spot and finally went by.  I was still regrouping, happy that I didn't feel injured.  Then Steve made a move around me.  I had to laugh because it wasn't a great spot and I could have stopped him.  I knew the course was about to get more interesting, if that was possible, and it would be in my favor, at least compared to Eric and Steve.  I trailed a second or two behind a really wet section until we reached the river crossing.  Even though Mike and I had opened up the dam to let the water drain faster, it was still roaring over the rocks.  The three leaders stopped in their tracks and I was back on their heels.  I wanted to just pass them since they were tiptoeing, but my only choices were to push them off the rocks or jump into the deep water and wade through.  I was annoyed because if I could have made it to this spot in the lead I definitely could have created space on them.  Anyway, we now were single file on the longish climb back up the hill.  Bob was fading.  Steve and Eric went by and then soon after I made my move.  We crested the hill and then had a very treacherous steep drop.  Steve and Eric again brought the pace down to what seemed a crawl.  Bob was right back on my heels itching to hammer this downhill.  So was I.  Unfortunately there was no place to pass.  Once we got down to the bottom, the trail flattened out and ran around the pond.  This trail is rather technical too.  Plenty of roots and slippery bridges.  I trailed Steve and Eric by 2 or 3 seconds as Bob seemed to slowly fall further behind me.  We spilled out of the woods at the bottom of the pond.  I picked up my pace and had spectators and RD Galoob shouting at me to catch up. 

Less than a mile to go!  Photo by Jana Walker. 

I did just that on the next steepish hill climb.  I closed the gap, but was sucking wind at the top.  I guess we all were, because the pace remained slow for the next minute or so.  We then hit the single track descent.  I again fell slightly behind.  Finally we hit the bottom and had to take the slow switchbacks back up.  I remembered at this point that the race was very close to being over.  It was now or never.  Duh!  I tried to pick up the pace climbing the hill, but I wasn't closing.  I was afraid I would get toasted on the last little descent to the skate park and the field around it.  Surprisingly this wasn't happening.  I was remaining the same distance behind, even when they had a sprint battle to the finish.  Final time was 20:47, 3 seconds behind the winners (Brightman by a nose over Lonergan). 

Results here

I was stoked!  I had a great race and it was exciting.  This course was really awesome and one of my favorites despite only being a 5K.  I definitely wonder what would have happened if I could have remained upright when I had the lead, but that's trail racing.  A huge thank you to the Galoob family for putting on the race and the RI trail racing community for coming out and supporting these great races.  See you at the next one! 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Starting up the 4th Season! 12-14-15 to 12-20-15

It's that time of year again!  Saturday is the first race in the South County 4th Season Race Series.  The Old Mountain Field Trail 5K already has a stacked field registered.  It looks like WTAC will have its hands (feet?) full with many Rhode Runners and Turtles already signed up.  I had the chance to scope out the trails at OMF a couple of weeks ago with RD Mike Galoob.  This race has the reputation of being pretty tough for a trail 5K and he wants to make it tougher.  We'll see what he comes up with! 

In unrelated news, the Grand Tree Series results are in for 2015.  I'd love to run a bunch of these races every year, but I'm happy that I got to do 3 this year.  Anyway, I was surprised to see the results based on Top 3 races for the year:

Pretty cool stuff!  Not as impressive as my brother winning the Series (based on Top 6) multiple years, but I'll take it. 

Monday: 0 - stupid car issues sucked up all my free time today.  I got a flat tire the night before coming home from my company Xmas party.  Apparently my car (2012 Hyundai) does not come with a spare - although it looks like there is one in the trunk.  Surprise!!  I had to have it towed to my house late at night, and then towed again in the morning to a tire place.  What a debacle. 

Tuesday: 10 miles - hill repeats on my favorite improved and unimproved dirt road - Pardon Joslin Rd.  It was super windy today and running did not seem appealing.  I figured that sheltered hill repeats would be my best option.  I even broke out my headphones for this one and listened to a podcast to help distract me from the monotony.  I ran out and back on the road 3 times and then ran up and down the longer east side an additional time.  1,354' of elevation gain.  Total time 1:15:38. GAP 7:16. 

Wednesday: 11 miles - 50/50 mix of paved/unpaved roads in Exeter.  I began in the same spot as yesterday, but at the west end of Pardon Joslin Rd, I just kept running until I hit 5.5 miles (at the top of NLT on Pine Hill).  Lots of uphill on the way out.  It was in the high 40's, but felt cold (or seasonable).  The way back was much quicker.  Total time: 1:18:08 with 849' of climbing. 

Thursday: 9 miles - Rome Point trails in the rain.  At least it was mild and not windy.  Mindless zigzagging on the trails.  The tide was high so not too much beach running.  Easy pace.  Total time: 1:12:08 with 451' of elevation gain. 

Friday: 3 miles - OMF trails alone, but then ran into Galoob.  I did some shopping in Wakefield while it rained and then made my way over to OMF to scope out the new course for tomorrow.  Very wet out there!  I could hear the stream before seeing it and it sounded like a raging river.  The north end crossing is high and dry however.  I continued on the mushy trails until I saw Galoob jogging with a rake.  We stopped to chat and then another runner came by.  It was a Turtle.  After the standoff, Mike and I made our way to the lower water crossing.  This one was not high and dry.  We moved some rocks around to let it drain faster which should do the trick.  I then finished up the new course up the hill and back down, around the pond, and back up the hill and then down and out to the skate park.  Running time about 30 minutes.  Tomorrow is going to be awesome!!

Saturday: 8 miles - OMF Trail 5K -3rd overall, 20:47 (top 2 were both 20:44).  Really great race.  Separate write up to follow. 

Sunday: 10 miles - Carter Preserve trails alone in the morning.  Nice crisp run.  The temperature was in the mid 30's, and there was ice in some spots on the powerline trail.  My body was pretty beat from yesterday's race, but this run actually felt pretty decent.  From the powerline I ran the grassland loop before climbing the hill and entering the woods.  I popped out at Rte 112 to run the hill up to the school trail entrance.  I made my way back to the grassland, did another lap, and then backtracked through the woods to the powerline.  I was happy to get in my 1:20 of running before traveling up to Boston for the afternoon/evening. 

Weekly Total: 51 miles
Last Week: 72 miles
Year to Date: 3394 miles
December to Date: 171 miles

Friday, December 11, 2015

Season's Craziness: Week of 12-7-15 to 12-13-15

It's the most busiest craziest time of year!  I'd love to take advantage of the great weather and run a ton this week, but too much going on.  Cheers! 

Monday: 9 miles - Ryan Park trails.  Late afternoon start (3pm).  Didn't think a run would even happen, but a window opened up.  Felt pretty good to cruise around the park.  Total time: 1:07:55. 

Tuesday: 15 miles - local road loop from my house.  Day off from work with a bunch of stuff going on.  My time to run was in the morning.  Unfortunately that's when the rain began from a storm that was supposed to stay out to sea.  My legs were tired and motivation waning.  I managed to complete the full loop I had planned that included a lot of straight roads.  It wasn't fun.  I'd rather spend two hours in the woods, but this is shotgun hunting season and it is the time of year I just stay out of management areas.  I kept up a punchy pace, mostly to get out of the dreary weather and finish sooner.  My legs were pretty sore though.  Total time: 1:47:11 with 742' of climbing. 

Wednesday: 0 - instead of an afternoon run I had to wait for a washing machine delivery at the house.  Did plenty of pushups. 

Thursday: 16 miles - double!  I took advantage of the warm morning and ran 4 miles of roads from my house.  Out-and-back to Poquiant Brook.  Total time: 28:52 with 300' of elevation gain.  In the afternoon, I parked at Rome Point and did an out-and-back of Saunderstown side street hills.  It was muggy and 62 degrees.  I thought about ditching my shirt, but there was a decent breeze.  11 hill climbs in total!  I was keeping the pace easy, except working a bit harder on the hills.  Nothing crazy, but I ended up bagging a lot of elevation - 1,606'!!  Total time: 1:28:55 - 7:23 ave. pace, 7:05 GAP.  I wasn't considering this a workout, but I'm reconsidering.  Good run. 

Friday: 9 miles - Ryan Park trails.  Typical recovery run that starts out terrible, continues to not be fun, and then perks up after a few miles.  My body feels pretty beat from yesterday.  Better call it a workout.  Total time: 1:12:43.  Really awesome weather. 

Saturday:  5 miles - Karate class run.  No workout this time.  Way too tired.  Found my way onto parts of the old Pumpkins 5K route.  7:21 ave. pace.  Run wasn't quite 5 miles, but then met up with friends for a long walk (for the kids) on Napatree Point.  It was rather warm and of course all the kids got wet.  They couldn't resist playing in the ocean.  I barely was able to not do it myself. 

Napatree Point hike. 
Taking a break at the halfway point. 

Sunday: 18 miles - long Burlingame out and back alone.  I couldn't meet up with Seth and Muddy so I had to do this run alone.  Out and back from my house to the Kettle Pond Center.  A little over 2 miles of pavement at the beginning and end, the rest was all trails.  I felt like I was moving really well for most of this.  Feet got tired the last few miles.  Trails in great shape and good running weather.  Total time: 2:14:42. 

Overall: Well I ended up with a lot of miles this week.  Basically piled them on in the 3 days.  It felt good to step up the volume. 

Weekly Total: 72 miles
Last Week: 58 miles
Year to Date: 3343 miles
December to Date: 120 miles

Friday, December 4, 2015

Weekly Log: 11-30-15 to 12-6-15

I'm hoping for a good week of training.

Monday: 10 miles - roads in the Quidnessett area alone.  Late fall/early winter feel.  Gray.  I just wanted to run an easy ten and somehow ended up here.  Way too many cars on these neighborhood roads.  I didn't check my watch until 8 miles in and saw that I was at least keeping a peppy pace.  Is this my normal non-hilly road pace?  Total time: 1:08:15. 

Tuesday: 9 miles - solo bike path workout.  Crappy weather day - a little rain during my run.  I knew I wanted to do speedwork today, but didn't have anything in mind until I saw Ryan Davenport's workout on Strava in the morning: Mile/2x800/Mile/2x400/6x100.  Seemed fun.  His results looked to be in line with what I would look for so I used them as a guideline.  Miles at 5K pace (goal?), 800's at I pace, 400's at R pace, and 100's fast.  I knew this was ambitious, especially being on my own.  I warmed up for two miles throwing in the shortest strides ever.  I then jumped right into it.  The first mile went okay.  I was wearing too many clothes and a bathroom break seemed like it was in my future.  5:26 - perfect.  I briefly stopped to use the port-o-potty but it was occupied.  I dropped off a layer at my car and got back to my 2 minute jog. I then went for the 800's.  Faster paced than the mile and they felt good, at least for a while, then they seemed long.  2:37/2:40 with a minute jog between.  So far so good, but I was not looking forward to another mile repeat.  So I skipped it.  I decided to do 400's now.  Again they felt great for a short period and then seemed long.  I did two (75/75) and then figured I would finish with a mile of sprint-float-sprint.  I kept the floats spicy and completed this mile in 5:31.  That surprised me!  The end result was a pretty good workout overall.  Total time: 1:00:43. 

Wednesday: 10 miles - hilly dirt roads "recovery" run.  I know it doesn't make sense, but I wanted a nice and easy recovery run on a forgiving surface that also included some hills.  I don't want to quit my elevation habit.  It was another crappy day with occasional rain.  My legs did not feel great with the first immediate climb (on the New London Turnpike).  I then slowly descended forever (about 2 miles) and finally reached the next hill - also on the NLT - this one is bigger and "unimproved".  This hill was never ending and not fun with the uneven footing.  I then headed over to a unpaved portion of Old Ten Rod Rd.  Big hills on both ends.  I ran the west side hill (up to intersection with Rte 102/Rte 165) twice before heading up the steeper east side.  My body felt way better on these.  Total time: 1:18:43 with 902' of climbing (according to my watch). 

Thursday: 8 miles - real recovery run in Ryan Park.  My body is now beat.  I wasn't even sure how long I would bother to run (late start).  It was so incredibly windy and unappealing out.  I figured the woods would give me some protection.  The run itself went well.  I zigzagged the west side trails and decided to keep going.  Brutal wind at the end of the run (on the road) back to my car.  Total time: 1:04:06. 

Friday: 8 miles - OMF trails with Galoob.  We wandered around the trails checking out conditions and Mike was brainstorming ways to make the race harder.  Oh, and there is a bum camp on one of the trails.  Lots of fun climbing the "mountain" repeatedly.  Total time: 1:08:19. 

Saturday: 5 miles - Westerly hills while the kids were at karate class.  I was hoping for a longer run early in the morning, but it didn't happen.  My wife had to leave for work at 8am which meant a sunrise run.  Frankly, since I've been getting up at 5:40am on weekdays for middle school, I have no desire to roll out of bed early on weekends to run.  So, what to do?  Run during karate, which is a shorter class on Saturday.  I decided to drop them off and run nearby hills from there.  This was a fun, but draining hill workout.  7 hill sprints in all, some long, some short.  All high intensity that left me gasping for air at the top.  I took a couple of the longer segments, had a close call on another (looks like the speed was there but I stopped early? or GPS issue?).  Finished up just as class was getting out.  35 minutes with 453' of climbing. 

Sunday: 8 miles - rushed roads with hills in North Stonington.  Another nice day, but another busy one.  I really wanted to run 2 hours, but I ended up just happy to fit anything in.  This time I ran during my daughter's horseback riding lesson which gave me an hour.  I scoped out a run beforehand that was a loop that included one very big out and back hill (250') in the middle.  My plan was to run on the faster side - similar to yesterday, but I immediately got carried away and just went with it.  I guess this was another workout run of sorts.  Up and over Jeremy Hill (nice views!) and then I reached Wintechog Hill Rd.  My average pace at this point was 6:27.  I then climbed up the road for a mile and kept my average pace at 6:28!  This was very challenging.  I really fought hard on this one.  I then backtracked down the hill, watching my ave. pace creep lower.  I knew it was basically down hill all the way back, but nearing Rocky Hollow Rd, there was one last hill to conquer.  Fast down hill finish to the horse farm.  Total time: 49:58 (6:16 average pace) with 563' of climbing.  6:10 GAP. 

Overall: Not the mileage I was looking for, but I seemed to make up for it by picking up the pace.  This seems to happen every December.  Too busy!  Oh well.  Feeling strong and fast. 

Weekly Total: 58 miles
Last Week: 63 miles
Year to Date: 3271 miles
November Total: 277 miles
December to Date: 48 miles

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Thanksgiving Week: 11-23-15 t0 11-29-15

Thanksgiving week is always a crapshoot running-wise.  Might be good, might be mediocre.  I had no big plans, especially with an unknown weekend schedule. 

Monday: 10 miles - workout on the bike path/Calf Pasture Point.  I got the go ahead to do a small local race on Friday morning.  I wanted to continue to do speedwork for upcoming shorter races, so sneaking in a workout today seemed to make sense.  I couldn't figure out the structure, even while warming up.  I ended up doing a pretty fun workout that took advantage of fast conditions (low tide, firm sand due to overnight rain) around Calf Pasture Point.  After a long four mile warm up I did a mile of sprint-float-sprint on the bike path.  My goal this time was faster sprints and slower floats.  The end result was a 5:55 mile.  I then recovered for half a mile before embarking on a hard effort of the Calf Pasture Point loop (1.1 miles sand, .7 miles double track, .4 miles bike path).  I really nailed this.  I ran it in 13:17 (6:02 ave. pace) which was 1:27 faster than my previous CR.  I was pumped!  After another half mile recovery I did another mile of sprint-float-sprint, again in the same manner as earlier, and again completing it in 5:55.  Short cool down.  Total time: 1:10:20. 

Tuesday: 7 miles - recovery run in Ryan Park.  Late start - very busy at work these days.  I wasn't sure how much daylight I would have.  I didn't want to run on roads or technical trails.  I opted to do multiple simple loops of the main double track trails, fields, and a short road section.  First loop was good, but by the end of the second, it was getting too dark for my poor night vision (no headlamp).  It was amazing to see how many dog walkers were in the park at this hour.  Just full of them.  Total time: 53:01. 

Wednesday: 9 miles - Big River trail loop with Jon Short.  We parked at the Hopkins Hill lot and ran a good counter-clockwise loop.  Fun to show him around and catch up.  Total time: 1:13:14. 

Thursday: 8 miles - Carolina trails with Muddy.  Happy Thanksgiving!  Muddy texted me in the morning for a last minute run.  Nice warm morning in Carolina.  Too many hunters and horses.  Total time: 58:25. 

Friday: 6 miles - Chariho Alumni XC 5K race.  17:40, 4th overall.  This was a small yet super fun event.  I was really happy with my time on this flat cross country course.  I figured I would be just over 18 minutes.  I didn't kill myself, just ran a steady race.  I didn't go out with the lead pack (mostly recent former XC runners plus Matthew Walker) and just settled into my own pace.  After a half mile, I had worked my way up to 4th, a few seconds behind Matthew, a current college All-American, and another former XC standout.  Coach Hab called out our first mile times - 5:30 for me.  Seemed about right.  The lead pack seemed to get slightly closer to me and I debated sprinting to catch up.  They eventually increased their lead by the time we finished circling the far south athletic fields however.  Muddy was on my heels.  I tried to push harder as we neared the final field section.  The leaders were pulling away from me, but I also seemed to have a small cushion on Muddy.  I then entered the track for the final lap plus.  I wasn't feeling great at this point, and I didn't have a good finish in me.  I was waiting for Muddy to catch up and then pass, but it became apparent that it wasn't his day either.  I finished up in a surprising 17:40 on this wheel measured course.  Confidence booster! 

Half mile or so into the race. 

2.5 mile or so mark. 

Finish.  This is why I need to always wear sunglasses. 

Saturday: 13 miles - long trail run in the rain with Muddy.  We ran in the afternoon which is when the rain began.  We parked at Green Falls to do a loop that I remembered as being 2 hours/15 miles.  After a slippery slow start, we cranked along the rest of the way.  We got a little cold and very wet, but still had fun.  Major GPS issues.  The run ended up being faster/shorter than I remembered apparently.  Total time: 1:43:05 with a good amount of climbing - at least on Muddy's watch. 

Sunday: 10 miles - Carter Preserve trails solo.  Early afternoon run.  Good push weaving through all the trails.  One decent fall.  Total time: 1:16:27. 

Overall: Ok mileage, a good workout, a good race, and lots of non-running fun! 

Weekly Total: 63 miles
Last Week: 61 miles
Year to Date: 3213 miles
November to Date: 267 miles

Monday, November 23, 2015

Now What? 11-16-15 to 11-22-15

The week after Li'l Rhody is always a bit of a downer since I put so much emphasis on it, and it more or less marks the end of my racing year.  This year, my body didn't feel too bad after the race.  The weather was also super nice, so I didn't rest up as much as I should have. 

Monday: 3 miles - Whale Rock Trail and coastline hike/rock hop. My favorite taper or recovery spot.  Nature Conservancy trail down to the rugged coast south of Bonnet Shores, north of the Narrow River.  Bright sun and relatively warm.  I almost ran today, but stuck to my plan.  I hopped my way down to the big rocks at the Narrow River mouth and then back tracked.  61 minutes. 

Tuesday: 11 miles - Big River trails alone.  Nice day but gray.  I had a rough outline of my itinerary today: Slalom - Allen's Ave - Dumbo - Sawmill - Steeple Chase.  I parked at Tarbox Pond to avoid a steep downhill start.  I did stick to my plan.  I got a little lost on Allen's Avenue (really a bunch of trails) due to thick leaf cover and not a lot of use.  Steeple Chase was a new trail to me - not very exciting, but I need to learn them all.  I did a bunch of strides the last mile and a half.  Total time: 1:25:03.  600' of climbing but it probably was more.  Seemed like it. 

Wednesday: 12.5 miles - 3 x Fish Hill Rd workout.  I've been eyeing this workout for the last few weeks, but it required the right circumstances to come together.  This happened today.  Fish Hill Road (paved) climbs about 350' over 1.8 miles.  There is a dip in the middle so it feels like two hills.  My plan was to just go run up and down the road three times at a normal pace.  After the first one I noticed my pace was relatively spicy, so I kept it up.  On the second one I actually ran into someone I knew out pushing his daughter in a stroller.  I knew he lived nearby, but it was quite the coincidence to meet up during my workout.  I stopped and chatted for a few minutes.  Third one felt fantastic.  I averaged 6:47 pace (6:37 GAP) for the run and gained 1,332' of elevation.  I loved this run!  I decided to cool down on a double track trail in an obscure section of Big River. 

Thursday: 10.5 miles - abandoned campground trails and hilly roads alone.  I parked at Camp Nokewa and did my usual loop in there before heading up and over the big Gilbert Stuart Rd hill.  I then headed east up Snuff Mill Rd and into the Plum Beach neighborhood for another hill.  I then ran south on Rte 1A and then entered new Nature Conservancy land on the Narrow River.  So much protected land!  A little spooky to be in there by myself.  I had run back here one other time with Sandals a couple of years ago, and some places looked familiar.  I found the double track that dumps out at the bottom of Snuff Mill.  I ran another loop in Camp Nokewa, but was wary of the hunters (bow only - but I could see them out there in the open woods on their stands).  Total time: 1:20:20 with another 910' of elevation gain.  Here's a map of the protected land in the area:

Friday: 11 miles - Ryan Park trails alone.  I thought I might do speedwork, but my body is telling me no.  I listened.  Instead I parked at Ryan and just planned to zigzag my way around the park.  Gorgeous weather and blinding sun with all the leaves down.  I had to wear sunglasses the entire time and even then I had trouble with the low sun angle.  I did mix in some strides on the rail bed near the end, but my body really wasn't moving all that fast.  Total time: 1:29:23. 

Saturday: 8.5 miles - Barn Island group trail run in the early AM.  10 of us showed up to run with Mike B.  A fun romp in the crisp air spent catching up with other running friends.  Total time: 1:11:39. 

Sunday: 4.5 miles - Pachaug-Nehantic trail loop hike with my son.  Boys day out.  My wife was with my daughter at horseback riding lessons and I gave my son 3 options: mtn bike, run, hike.  He wanted to hike and wanted to explore in Pachaug.  This seemed like a good choice since there is no hunting on Sunday in CT.  He came up with a loop that I was familiar with running.  We parked at Green Fall Pond and hiked counter clockwise: Pachaug Trail to Nehantic-Pachaug Crossover to Nehantic Trail.  It was wet and occasionally rained on us.  This was a great loop - only part of the Nehantic Trail is rather boring.  Total time: 2:07.  I had planned to run today in Carter Preserve, but after we got home from the hike the rain increased in intensity and the wood stove was cranking.  I got my outside fix so I bagged it. 

Weekly Total: 61 miles
Last Week: 51 miles
Year to Date: 3150 miles
November to Date: 204 miles

Friday, November 13, 2015

Li'l Rhody Week! 11-9-15 to 11-15-15 w/ RACE RECAP

It's here!  The biggest race of the year for me.  A month or so ago, I figured there was no way I could duplicate my finish time from last year, but now with a good hard trail race and speedwork under my belt, I'm feeling much more confident.  Here's a breakdown of my results:

2000    1:07:13  104th
2001      DNS
2002    1:03:32   91st
2003    1:01:29   69th
2004      DNS
2005    1:01:39   51st
2006    1:04:31   83rd
2007    1:05:05   78th
2008    1:00:00   44th
2009     58:19     40th
2010     54:02     19th    recap
2011     52:38      9th     recap
2012     50:04      7th     recap
2013     48:59      7th     recap
2014     47:10      5th     recap

That was fun putting together.  The first year was the last year the course ran in the opposite direction and was only 7.9 miles.  Looks like I began to get my running addiction around 2008. 

Monday: 9 miles - Ryan Park trails alone.  Busy day at the office and no energy to run.  Luckily the weather was spectacular and running in the woods cheered me right up.  Total time: 1:06:53. 

Tuesday: 11 miles - 3 x 1 mile (sprint-float-sprint) on the Quonset Bike Path.  Rainy conditions.  I wanted to do speedwork this week, but I wanted plenty of rest between it and the race.  Today was the day.  I ran around Calf Pasture Point for a warm up and then ran the full length of the bike path west using the measured miles as my guide.  I actually followed through with my plan, although bailing after 2 was extremely appealing.  Just like last week, my plan was to keep the floats spicy.  A really challenging workout.  Results: 5:30/5:30/5:33 with 1/2 mile rest between miles.  Very happy with this.  My cooldown was a bit of a sufferfest mostly into the wind and rain.  My hands got really cold.  I survived and treated myself to a large coffee.  Total time: 1:18:16. 

Wednesday: 7 miles - Burlingame trails alone.  Day off from work and school.  I had a chance to run after the chimney sweepers came to our house.  It was really windy, so I decided to hit up some nearby sheltered trails.  My legs feel pretty terrible with a combination of fatigue and nerves.  The run cleared my mind however.  Someone (I'm assuming mtn bikers as this seems to be an issue in other places they ride) has used a leaf blower on parts of the Vin Gormley Trail.  Pretty lame.  The leaves are a nice challenge, but more importantly, healthy for the trails.  No leaves encourages erosion, and the trail certainly doesn't need to get any more rooty.  Whatever.  I'm sure the wind will blow plenty of leaves back onto the trail by Sunday.  Total time: 1:00:00. 

Thursday: 7 miles - Rome Point trails alone.  More rain, but not too raw out.  I just did some mindless zigzagging in the park.  It's amazing that people were still in there walking their dogs in this weather.  I bushwhacked up the hill from the new blue blazed trail until I hit brier hell.  Total time: 58:14. 

Friday: 5 miles - local roads in the early morning.  Beautiful morning and with a busy day planned, I was happy to run early.  Clear skies and windy.  Legs feeling good.  Spent most of the run thinking about 47 minutes of pain on Sunday.  Just kidding, I was thinking 46 minutes.  I can dream at least.  Total time: 37:41. 

Saturday: 1.5 miles - Burlingame trail run with my kids.  Busy day, but I talked the kids into a late afternoon romp in the woods.  I wanted to check out the course conditions and shake out my legs.  We had a lot of fun, especially going off trail to explore rocks and even climb a tree.  Vin Gormley was freshly leaf blown which did anger me.  When we returned, we ran into Crutch and Paul who were out marking the race course. 


Sunday: 10.5 miles - Li'l Rhody Runaround 8M Trail Race. 

Let's get the pleasantries out of the way: favorite race, local, family, friends, party, pressure

Everything about the day was awesome including my race.  My time was just slower than I anticipated.  I went out hard, somehow was leading the race for the first mile (NOT PLANNED), held on through the trails to a tough pace, blasted the road home to the best of my ability.  Finished up 6th overall, 48:10 - exactly 1 minute slower than last year.  I wasn't surprised to not match last year's incredible time, but I thought that I had run (based on effort) pretty close.  Unfortunately I can't even compare my GPS mile splits because my new watch measured it .4 miles shorter than last year.  I don't think I was in noticeably better shape last year, the weather was good, the course was in excellent shape, and I ran in a similar fashion (fast start).  Muddy was nipping at my heals most of the race keeping my pace honest.  I'm not the only one, most people ran slower today (except for the Walkers!).  Curious, but I'm still pleased.  I still beat plently of fast dudes today.  I was top Master.  I got to build and stoke the fires at registration and cross names off the pre-registration list (more fun to me than I should admit). 

The start.  Photo by Jana Walker. 

What is going on?  Photo by Jana Walker. 

Mile 6ish. Usual trail race photo of me and Muddy. 
Photo by Scott Mason. 

Weekly Total: 51 miles
Last Week: 78 miles
Year to Date: 3089 miles
November to Date: 143 miles

Friday, November 6, 2015

Weekly Log: 11-2-15 to 11-8-15

Tweener week between races.  I'd like to pack on the miles, but also do a couple of workouts (speed, hills).  Not sure how my body will respond while in recovery from the Busa race.  As usual, I'll just train as I feel. 

Monday: 10 miles - Big River trails alone.  My body felt terrible last night, but pretty good today.  I ended up doing a fun "loop" in middle Big River.  Smile and wave at the scary dirt bikers.  Total time: 1:21:30. 

Tuesday: 15 miles on two runs.  Beautiful warm sunny morning, so I ran 5+ miles after my son got the middle school bus.  I was just going to run local roads, but the trails looked so inviting.  I had trouble seeing since I hadn't put my contacts in yet.  37 minutes with over 300' of elevation gain.  In the afternoon I ran a good mix of trails and roads in the Ryan Park/Wickford Village area.  The weather couldn't have been nicer.  Total time: 1:15:12. 

Wednesday: 12 miles - Big River trails alone.  Another really nice day.  I still don't feel up for a workout.  I parked at Greasy Joe's and ran a zigzag course in the NE corner of the park.  Should have worn trail shoes as a lot of leaves are on the ground.  I felt like I got in a good amount of climbing, but GPS didn't even give me 500'.  Whatever.  Total time: 1:31:27. 

Thursday: 9 miles - solo hill workout in Saunderstown.  Legs still feeling sluggish.  Even though it was another warm day, I wasn't motivated to run anywhere.  I decided to just slog out some hills.  Then I couldn't decide where.  I ended up just sticking close to the office and doing 7 repeats of Plum Point Rd.  This is a very steep and challenging paved road climb.  My plan was to do 5, but I was feeling comfortable climbing and enjoying myself in some sick way.  It's funny to keep passing by the same unfriendly people in their yards over and over again.  I was just going to return to my car at the nearby Park and Ride, but then I figured I should get in a nice round number of miles.  I ran down and back up Fleetwood Drive (another 150' climb) to finish up.  Total time: 1:07:25 with 1,308' of climbing.  Looks like I eclipsed the 3,000 mile mark for the year today! 

Friday: 10 miles - finally speedwork!  Woke up with my legs feeling much fresher.  I did a lot of stick rolling last night.  Why don't I do this all the time?  Anyway, after reading the latest Level Renner I really wanted to try the Sprint-Float-Sprint workout that Nate Jenkins wrote about.  He mentioned a few variations and I of course was drawn to the fast float option.  My goal was to do 5K of this - sprint 100m float/100m repeat over and over.  Nate mentioned how hard this could be, especially with the fast float.  I still thought I could complete 5K of this.  Wrong!!  I headed out to the Quonset bike path.  It was super muggy, overcast, and there was a stiff SW breeze.  Not wanting to sprint into the wind, I warmed up into it.  The bike path had some areas covered with wet leaves, so I opted for the leaf-free Davisville Rd for most of the workout.  I had my watch displaying distance in kilometers.  I decided not to keep track of 100m splits, just run hard and see what the final time would be.  I can't really tell how fast I was running the sprints (about R pace?) or the floats, but it looks like my GPS pace never dipped below 6:40 pace.  The 100m floats went by so fast!  It was clear 5K was too ambitious, so I thought I would stop at 2 miles.  I then realized I was displaying kilometers and I have no idea what the 2 mile equivalent was, at least not while I was working out.  I decided to go 3000m, which seemed like a standard track distance.  This gave me 15 sprints and 15 floats.  Result: 10:53.  I stopped and caught my breath, dripping sweat.  I then jogged to the start of the bike path and then did 1500m of sprint-float-sprint.  It was a shock to my system to start doing this again, but I got back into the groove.  Result: 5:15 - 8 sprints, 7 floats.  I then did a long cool down around Calf Pasture Point and on the bike path.  This workout was awesome!!  Total time: 1:13. 

Saturday: 16 miles - Burlingame trail loop with Muddy.  A last minute plan came together to run in the early afternoon.  2 hours.  We ran from my house into Burlingame and did a big clockwise loop.  After 2 straight days of workouts, I knew right away this run would be a grind for me.  Luckily Muddy had done a longish run yesterday so he was happy to keep the pace in check.  Lots of leaves on the trails.  Most of the oaks have dropped their leaves.  Hopefully a week of use will crunch them up nicely for Li'l Rhody Runaround next Sunday.  Total time: 2:08:08.  My watch had 608' of climbing, but Muddy's barometer watch had over 1200'.  I hate GPS watches if you didn't know. 

Sunday: 6 miles - course planning in Ninigret.  I was asked a couple of months ago to help out with a new local 5K race.  It is a fundraiser for the preschool both my kids attended - the Charlestown Early Learning Center.  They recently had a new building built that is 3/4 of the way funded.  Read more about it here.  Anyway, the race will be on January 23rd, hoping to attract runners during a time on the calendar that is empty of races.  I was impressed right away with how well the event was organized.  I came up with a potential course - starting and finishing at the Senior Center (where registration and post race festivities will take place).  Today, after a couple of hours of yardwork, I hussled down to Ninigret to measure the course with my watch and phone before the Patriots kickoff.  My plan flowed nicely, but was a little tight for 5K.  I  tweaked the starting line then ran it again, and it worked better.  Zero elevation gain according to my watch.  Should be nice and fast.  I did my best to hide from the wind.  Here's the course: 

I wanted to run two more miles to snag 80 for the week, but it was time for the game so I left.  The link to sign up if you're interested can be found here

Overall:  A great week!  Feeling ready to rock Li'l Rhody. 

Weekly Total: 78 miles
Last Week: 59 miles
Year to Date: 3038 miles
November to Date: 92 miles

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Race Week: 10-26-15 to 11-1-15 UPDATED W/ RACE REPORT

I'm hoping to stick with the weekly format going forward.  Wish me luck!  The plan this week is to take it easy.  I need to recover from the last 3 weeks of heavy training and feel fresh for Sunday's trail race - Busa Bushwhack.  Unsure if I will do a workout mid-week or just bag it until next week. 

Sunday afternoon leaf pile jumping

Monday: 8.5 miles - Rome Point coastline and trails alone.  Decent day - mid 50's and not windy.  I realized staring out my office window that the tide in Wickford was looking rather low while I was eating my lunch.  I remembered it was a full moon and so running the coast south of Rome Point seemed appealing.  I kept the pace very easy for a mile or two of trails and then jumped on the beach.  The tide was very low.  I had timed it perfectly.  I made good progress to the spot that I can go no further, even on these lunar low tides.  I was able to squeeze a little more running in to officially make it my furthest southern turnaround.  My dream of making it to Casey Point will have to wait.  I returned to the trails and followed a new trail on the western edge of the preserve.  It's nicely done, but does not climb the hill as I had hoped.  I decided to do a few trail strides near the end of my run, just to keep my legs honest.  Total time: 1:11:01. 

Tuesday: 10.5 miles - another new Big River loop alone.  I parked at Greasy Joe's for the first time since Spring maybe.  I had a general idea of where I wanted to go - how to start and finish, but made up the majority of it as I went along.  The day was really nice - high 50's and sunny, and it was good to see others out in woods (mtn bikers).  I again kept the pace easy, but did mix in 6 random trail strides near the end.  These are fun!  Hopefully they don't make me sore, or I'll have to call these runs workouts....  Total time: 1:22:21. 

Wednesday: 9 miles - Yawgoo Pond/Wolf Rocks area with Galoob.  It was good to have a partner today and an earlier than normal start time.  The weather was deteriorating fast and I might not have run by myself later.  We met at Barber Pond and ran the small Yawgoo Pond preserve trails.  We then crossed Rte 2 and into a neighborhood that has good access onto a powerline.  There are a couple of trails that head east down the hill and we made a loop out of it.  We then ran back down the roads, back to Yawgoo Pond to repeat the trails there.  I was cold and soaked by the time we finished.  It took me a long time to warm up back at my office.  Total time: 1:08:58. 

Wed AM foliage (before the storm).  Peak season on the hill. 

Thursday: 8 miles - Ken & Barbie loop in Big River alone.  Sunny, warm, and humid.  Began with a shirt but had to take it off after a couple of miles in.  I parked off Congdon Mill Rd and took Sweet Sawmill (dirt) up to the Ken and Barbie single track loop.  Easy pace, soft, smooth trails.  Perfect option for the day.  Total time: 1:05:17. 

Friday: 5 miles - Ryan Park trails alone.  Nice day except a tad windy.  I just kept it nice and easy on the west side singletrack.  Total time: 38:37.  I followed this up with 25 minutes of basketball.  Felt warm in the sun and protected from the wind.  Shot well. 

Saturday: 4 miles - mix of roads and trails from my house in the morning.  Legs feel fresh, but my entire body feels tight.  Good ol' pre-race jitters.  31 minutes.

Sunday: 14 miles - Busa Bushwhack 10M Trail Race - 1:04:05, 6th overall.  Quite the competitive field.  My time would have won the previous two races, but not today.  Rhody trail runners represented finishing 1, 5, 6, 9. Congrats to Bob on his win and Brightman for holding me off at the finish.  No separate write up so here it goes:

I was looking for a race to run before Li'l Rhody, possibly a road half marathon.  Luckily I checked the Grand Tree Series and found this one instead.  Not too far away on a day that worked for my schedule.  Also, it seemed to be a fast paced trail race - perfect prep for LRR in two weeks.  My high volume training with hills and trails makes me feel strong, but not fast.  This race would hopefully help that. 

It became apparent that a couple of other Rhody trail runners would be joining me - Bob Jackman, Steve Brightman, and Chris Fox.  I knew that this would add to the challenge, and certainly help keep me motivated throughout the race.  Also, looking at past results, the race attracts some pretty fast dudes from time to time.  It was like the Li'l Rhody of metro west Boston.  My nerves were kicking in big time leading up to race day. 

The drive up on the Sunday morning after Halloween was strange.  The highway was empty.  I pulled into the parking lot for the race over an hour early and it was already mobbed with people though.  I found Bob right away and then chatted quite a bit with another Rhody trail runner Eric Wyzka.  I fiddled around in my car until it was time to do a warm up with Bob and fellow TNT'r Lindsey Amherst.  The finish was at the school (registration/parking), but the starting line was up a road a bit.  Even from the starting line there was a decent amount of pavement (1/3 mile?) to the trailhead.  We checked out the trail and then turned around.  With the pavement start/finish, this was even more like Li'l Rhody than I had anticipated. 

Fast dudes were everywhere during pre-race instructions.  Besides the guys I knew, the Northeastern Univ. XC team was there.  I figured they were doing the short race (5.3 miles), but a few of them had the 10 mile bib colors on.  Then there were runners that Brightman and Jackman were talking about.  At this point I joked that I hoped to be Top 20.  Brightman would have none of that, he was adamant that the 3 of us should be up front leading this thing.  I wasn't so sure, but impressed with his attitude.  I was hoping to do very well, but based on who was there, and the fact that the course was easy trails (with a couple of decent hills mixed in), I wasn't as confident. 

The race began and quickly the 3 of us found ourselves up front, but behind a single runner in a gray shirt (I would find out later that this was Rob Bond, who just won Baystate in 2:29).  I was thinking that surely others should be ahead of us, but I shouldn't have doubted Rhody trail prowess!  We entered the trail single file ( I was 3rd). Rob seemed to slow, and Brightman quickly surged by.  I followed and so did Jackman behind me.  The pace was quick, thanks to Brightman leading.  I stuck with them for a while, but after a mile or so I fell a little behind.  I wasn't too concerned at this point.  It was a long race and I've caught both of them from behind in trail races before.  Let's see what happens on the hills and late miles.  Besides, their pace was too fast for me.  I was moving as fast as possible and I needed to hold it for another 9 miles! 

The next couple of miles were tough.  I was dropping more places (NU runner, skinny young guy, random guy in white shirt).  The fast start was hurting me, mentally and physically.  There was a good climb that felt really hard.  Then there was a fast descent and it was difficult catching my breath and letting go.  I just wasn't feeling fast.  I could still see Brightman (in his standard bright orange singlet) and a couple of others ahead of me.  I was more concerned about whoever seemed to be closing in on me from behind. 

Things got a little better in the middle miles.  There were more hills.  Despite not feeling fast, I seemed to be catching the guys in front of me and creating distance on the ones behind me.  Finally, on a hill climb at about mile 6, I caught the skinny young kid (he was someone Brightman had pointed out to me pre-race as being really fast).  This was really encouraging!  Not only that, but I was quickly gaining on Brightman too.  I now had company on my heels.  I wasn't sure who it was, but it was obvious they were feeling good.  I continued to focus on running hard and eventually overtook Brightman near mile 7.  It seemed that he was struggling and I didn't think he was going to hold on.  A few moments later Rob Bond passed by me.  He looked really comfortable and I didn't have another gear to stick with him. 

The last couple of miles are fast and flat.  I knew that going in.  I was not hurting like earlier.  I was moving well, but losing time to Rob and white shirt guy (3rd place at the time).  I felt like I was going to remain in the 5th spot.  That was until I heard heavy breathing coming from behind me.  Ugh!!  I pushed even harder.  There was no shaking this person.  I was worried it was a fast road runner who would overtake me at the end.  I was wrong.  It was Brightman fighting back and passing me on the trails with less than a mile to go.  He is a beast!  I followed him out of the trails and onto the road.  This would be interesting.  I just let my legs go like I do at the end of Li'l Rhody.  I had the strength to finish strong, I just wasn't sure what Brightman had.  It was frustrating.  I couldn't catch up.  There was a slight hill with a 1/4 mile to go that didn't help me.  I sprinted the final 200 but so did he.  I crossed the finish line 3 seconds behind him. 

This was a good race.  I loved the competition.  It is a nice course with some good hills.  Not technical however.  Hopefully this will whip my legs into shape for Li'l Rhody in two weeks!! 

Check out the Strava playback!!  here

Weekly Total: 59 miles
Last Week: 83 miles
Year to Date: 2960 miles
October Total: 312 miles

Monday, October 26, 2015

Last 5 Weeks in Review

This period began with a couple of light weeks between races.  Or so I thought.  The first week was post-Pisgah.  According to Strava, I did four days in a row of Mixes.  Then on the Friday I did a trail workout in Ryan Park on the easiest of trails, copying some of my frenemies' workouts on track or pavement: 3M, 2M, 1M with l minute rest.  I used my dreaded GPS watch for the mileage, so I assume all intervals were long: 17:54, 12:07, 6:01.  This was really tough, but a confidence booster of sorts.  The next week was supposed to end with the Nipmuck Trail Marathon.  I just couldn't get motivated for this thing.  I prepared like I was racing, but knew that I was going to bail.  Sunday morning came, and instead of the race it was a Woolley send off run in Carter Preserve with Muddy.  Cheers mate! 

After lollygagging the final two weeks of September, I got my butt in gear in October.  Lots of time on feet, and believe me, my feet have noticed.  The first week included my epic mountain adventure with Galoob.  Read about it here if you haven't.  I also raced the first ever trail version of the Run for the Pumpkins 5K.  This was the brainchild of Jeff, who did a ton of work to make this happen.  You can read more about it here.  I previewed the course when I helped mark it pre-race.  Jeff did a great job creating this course: uphill on easy trails first mile, twisty/techy mile 2, fast easy trail mile 3, with fast field finish.  It was a great morning and a lot of people showed up.  My race went okay.  I was dealing with leftover leg fatigue from the mountains, including a "crampy" right calf.  I just tried to pretend I was normal.  Matthew W jumped into the race at the last minute, which was a surprise.  Other contenders were Muddy, Brightman, Jeff, and FiveK.  I ran with the lead pack around the field and was 3rd entering the woods.  As the trail climbed, I felt like Brightman (leading) was slowing down a bit.  I made the quick decision to hammer to the lead and push this hill.  It seemed like my best shot of winning.  I held the lead up the hill.  The terrain finally leveled off and I felt tired.  Footsteps were getting closer as we passed the first mile marker.  Soon Brightman and Matthew went by me.  Mentally I was defeated and didn't try to hold on.  Then Muddy went by before entering the twisty pine singletrack section.  Again I just settled.  I kept the gap consistent in the pines however.  On a switchback, I saw Jeff chasing me down.  This was the push I needed.  I worked harder through the pines and then tried to hammer the easier downhill mile 3.  I seemed to get some distance on Jeff, but wasn't seeing anyone ahead of me until near the end of the woods.  Muddy was in view, but I couldn't close the gap.  Once on the field, the spacing continued to stay the same.  I finished up in 20:39.  Matthew won in 19:52, followed by Brightman 20:13, and Muddy 20:26.  Jeff was 20:50.  Despite being not my best race, the event itself was a huge success.  Kudos to Jeff! 

The last two weeks I spent a ton of time in the woods.  I've been exploring new trails in Big River, and also making sure to mix in hilly days.  After the Pumpkins race, I really wanted to begin speedwork, but I was too tired to do it.  I finally gave it a shot last Wednesday on the Quonset Bike Path.  The newer section of path is marked by quarter miles.  I decided the shorter the better for me, so I opted for 400s.  These were tough!  I ended up doing 6 repeats (with 400 recoveries): 74/72/73/73/75/75.  I had to stop the 400s and switch to something slower.  I opted to do 2 x 1 mile at T pace (with a 3 minute recovery between): 5:46/5:47.  These felt pretty good.  Overall, I was happy to get this done.  I'd like to do 10-12 reps of 400 next time. 

So that's where things are.  I've got two trail races lined up: Busa Bushwhack 10 Mile on 11/1, and Li'l Rhody Runaround on 11/15.  I'm feeling good about my training going into these.  We'll see. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Northern Presidential Loop 10-6-2015

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to run in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  Mike Galoob had been mentioning all summer that he wanted to make a trip up there for some mountain running, but it never materialized.  He popped back on the radar as the weather cooled, still noting that it wasn't too late to head north.  Finally, a few days before I was scheduled to run the Nipmuck Trail Marathon (and not feeling any excitement about it), Mike and I hashed out a plan to go up to the mountains on a weekday that fit our family/work schedules AND would be nice weather.  This all came together very quickly and Tuesday, October 6th, would be the day. 

I was a little hesitant about a solo adventure with Mike.  He is more than willing to do something extremely epic and out of my comfort zone.  However his training, and running in particular, has been lackluster recently, so he wasn't planning anything too long.  He also wasn't planning for any speedy FKT attempts this time around.  He came up with a few ideas that after I researched, I was excited about.  We met up in the early morning and drove up to Pinkham Notch.  The drive took longer than I anticipated due to miserable pre-dawn traffic in the Boston metro area, and then leaf peeping/outlet shopping traffic in Conway.  Still, seeing the mountains on this clear day was fueling the anticipation.  I couldn't wait to start! 

We parked at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center and quickly assembled our gear for the day.  Mike was way more organized than me, and went ahead and registered while I finished up.  I had a Camelback with about a liter or so of water, 2 granola bars, 2 power bars, 4 GUs, a map, hat, gloves, wind layer, warm layer, and phone all crammed together.  I seemed to be ready....

We finally began moving about quarter after ten.  The air was cool, I was sweaty and anxious.  Mike had planned a loop that would head roughly north (following the AT southbound) to the summit of Mt. Madison.  We would then continue to follow the AT on the Gulfside Trail to the summit of Mt. Washington.  From there we could choose a few different options down to get back to the car.  The first few miles looked flat on the map.  Of course, the "flat" began with a 500' climb.  Mike let me lead and I kept my pace easy, but running throughout.  We were following something called Old Jackson Road, but it was a rocky mess.  I was hoping for easy trails to start, but that was not to be!  It took some getting used to having a pack on my back.  I was also super sweaty, but cold, even though we were well below tree line.  I was a little nervous about this, but I still had two layers I could add, plus my hat and gloves.  There was running water at every small stream crossing, reminding me that it had rained quite a bit up here recently.  My Inov8's were not gripping at all to the wet rocks and I kept slipping.  I was annoyed by this.  Eventually we could hear some serious moving water and reached a very cool bridge over the Peabody River.  We lingered here for a couple of minutes as Mike began snapping pictures with his fancy camera and I got to warm up in the sun. 

We didn't linger long and Mike took the lead as we began slowly ascending now on the Osgood Cutoff trail.  We reached the Osgood Trail, which would climb very steeply for about 3,000' to the summit of Madison.  We began power hiking.  Mike dropped back as he grabbed a bar to eat.  I just kept plugging along, wondering when I would hit tree line.  I got pretty far ahead and was nervous Mike was not doing well.  Turns out (and I found this out later on my own), it's really hard to eat and move this far up in elevation.  Every time I ate, it would take me forever to finish, and I struggled to breathe, chew, and move at the same time. 

Anyway, we finally got above the trees and the views were ridiculous!  I had hiked up Mt. Washington and Mt. Jefferson before, but never had great views like this.  Madison was just a pile of rocks.  The grade got easier, but we took longer to take in the sights and navigate the rocks. 

We summited, and then made our way down to the Madison Hut.  It felt good to get the biggest climb of the day out of the way, and feel like we had made some real progress.  Plus the scenery was just incredible.  Now on the Gulfside Trail, we were on the ridge that leads to Washington six miles away.  Our trail skirted the summits of Adams and Jefferson, but we only missed out on a few hundred feet of scrambling on more rocks.  The sun felt good and I was warm enough with just a singlet and a hat.  It was nice to casually make our way over the tricky footing, sometimes running, sometimes not.  We passed Adams and made our way through the clouds spilling over the Col between Adams and Jefferson. 

Once past Jefferson, the urge to reach the Washington Visitor Center was strong, as we both were running out of water and sick of the crap we were eating.  We had to climb another 1,300' or so, but the grade was gentle.  We pushed pretty hard for awhile, before slowing down near the summit. 
Looking back at where we came from. 
The final push was exhausting.  My body was holding up well.  Not fatigue pain.  I just needed a break.  And Coke.  And some real food.  We made it to the top, but the scene was a bit disappointing.  Tourists everywhere.  I felt out of it.  We went inside to the cafeteria looking very disheveled.  Nothing seemed appealing.  I drank a small Gatorade and a little bit of my Coke.  The food I bought was not going to get eaten.  Middle aged men kept wanting to talk to us.  We needed to get out of there.  I was also getting cold and just felt like crap.  I put on another layer and we headed out the most direct way down - Lion's Head Trail to Tuckerman Ravine Trail.  Instantly we were in the sun, out of the wind, and I warmed up quickly.  Back to just a singlet for me.  I also felt better moving again.  The way down did seem to take a long time with not much running on Lion's Head Trail.  At least my body still felt fine.  No pain.   
Eventually we reached the Tuckerman Ravine Trail that Mike referred to as a jeep access road.  I was excited to actually run again.  The "road" however, was a littered with rocks and technical.  Doh!  I just ran as best I could.  We hardly saw anyone on the trails all day, but now in the late afternoon, we were seeing a lot of people descending via this trail.  It helped keep me running.  Faster and faster we would go, anticipating the finish, and getting more dirt mixed in with fewer rocks.  Finally, we reached the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center and our loop was complete.  My crappy watch had the run at 16.7 miles, but Mike's fancier one had it at almost 18 miles.  Total time was 6:11:11, with about 5:45-5:50 of moving time.  Here's the map:

The ride home went by much faster, even though we were tired.  A very full, fun day.