Friday, February 27, 2015

Weekly Snow Log: 2-23-15 to 3-1-15

it continues....

Monday: 9 miles - URI indoor track alone.  Back to school for the kids and I decided to just run once in the middle of the day.  It was another cold blah day so I decided to head to the indoor track for some warm miles.  The track was busier than in the mornings, but manageable.  My legs felt trashed from the Saturday long run/workout.  Running on the even track was fine though.  2 miles in 13:47, then reverse 2 miles in 14:14, then reverse 2 miles in 13:39, then reverse 2 miles in 13:21, then reverse 1 mile in 6:27 with 8x100 strides.  Total time: 1:01:30. 

Tuesday: 14 miles on two runs.  First, I ran 6 miles at the indoor track on my way to work.  Boy my legs are still trashed.  Total time: 41:21.  At lunch, I did a snowshoe run at Ryan Park hoping for better conditions than last week.  I did the 10K course, but starting from the Lafayette lot - the only one of the three that a vehicle could get in and out of.  Conditions were okay.  Rte 4 was only tracked by a single cross country skier.  I didn't sink much out there.  The heavily used trails are kind of a mess.  Frozen uneven boot holes are everywhere.  Being on snowshoes helps, but still frustrating.  Overall, I enjoyed being outside in the snow.  What I'm calling 8 miles in 1:05:33. 

Wednesday: 10 miles - Ryan Park snowshoe run.  Another one run day.  It was warm today - low 30's.  Roads were messy with puddles and slush so I opted for a longish snowshoe run back in Ryan Park.  The wet snow on top was better to run on then yesterday.  I saw the cross country skier for the first time.  Guy looked legit.  From Lafayette, I headed down the rail bed and ran some different trails at times.  Some spots were untouched and slow.  I ran around the ball fields and then made my way back to the west side of the park.  I took the new side trail to the pond, but mostly followed the normal trails.  I decided to cross Lafayette and try the powerline and other ATV trails.  Bad decision.  It was so deep and untracked.  A terrible way to finish a 1:23:27 snowshoe run. 

a happy moment on the trail

Thursday: 12 miles on two runs.  My legs were feeling much better and I wanted to try a workout idea I came up with a few weeks ago: a ladder with R and I pace: 200/400/600/800/1000/1000/800/600/400/200.  It seemed fun.  Anyway, I went for it this morning at the URI indoor track.  I did a mile warm up with a few strides and then jumped into the R paced portion: 200/400/600 with equal rest.  I just didn't have the speed in my legs today.  I bailed on the 600 and turned it into a 400.  I then switched to I pace and did the 800.  On the 1000, I bailed again and made it a 800.  I ran 4 800's at I pace and then did 400/400/200 at R.  A broken ladder.  This winter makes me feel slow, but I'm sure it is because snowshoe running is physically demanding and I'm still running a lot of miles.  But I still couldn't help being a bit disappointed.  Results: 36/76/75/2:40/2:41/2:41/2:42/76/76/35 (400 recoveries for everything except 200 for 200's).  Total time: 47:25 for 7 miles.  At lunch I again ran in snowshoes at Ryan Park.  I wasn't looking for much, just some active recovery.  It snowed again briefly midday.  I made it out before it stopped which was fun.  I ran on the west side of the park.  5 miles in 46:04.  Ready for another snowshoe running break. 

Friday: 10 miles - EG/NK road loop.  Nice day - 30 degrees and sunny.  Lots of puddles to splash through, but traffic wasn't too bad.  A decent amount of climbing as well.  Legs feel a little fatigued, but happy with my easy pace felt.  Total time: 1:11:45. 

Saturday: 16 miles - early morning long run with Muddy.  No later in the day start this week - we braved the chill (single digits at the start) and still managed to bang out a quality long run with two, two mile tempo pace blocks.  I'm glad I purchased the balaclava earlier this winter, but annoyed that I've actually had to use it a few times.  We parked at the Charlestown Bakery (unfortunately closed!) and ran roads to and around Green Hill.  At the three mile mark we did the first block of T pace (target is 5:52 pace per mile, but hard to do in the cold).  We had a relatively flat section of road and we managed a 5:59 and 5:46.  It felt relatively good, but not really.  We then got to relax for an hour, running along Card's Pond Rd, out to Deep Hole, and back to check out the bathroom at Trustom (it was open).  After 8 miles, we did the second T pace block.  Muddy got ahead of me after a quarter mile.  My legs just felt like they couldn't move any faster in my tights.  I struggle to a 6:09 first mile, before rallying to a 5:55 second mile.  My legs are officially destroyed.  I winced through a mile cool down (8:17) before stopping at my car.  Luckily I had a time constraint so I couldn't do the full cool down with Muddy.  Total time: 1:52:54

Sunday: 4 miles - Cambridge icy sidewalks in the late morning.  It looked like the storm was coming in faster than forecasted.  My nephew's birthday party was supposed to start at 3:30PM, but we decided to head up as soon as we could and then leave early.  I wasn't sure if I would even run.  I got my chance because there is no street parking in the city due to the snow.  So I had to drop my family off at the house and then park a mile or so away in a big shopping lot.  Luckily I had packed running clothes just in case!  I ran from the parking lot, taking a circuitous route to get to my destination.  Running in a city can be frustrating.  Somehow I avoided having to stop on this run.  On Mass Ave, a group of fast looking runners crossed the street and were a few hundred feet ahead of me.  I picked up my pace, but never closed the gap (I was running 6:45 pace here).  Anyway, a fun little run.  Total time: 28:49.  It was a long ride home (Rte 95 was snow covered most of the way), but no driving troubles. 

Overall: Another good week with a mix of track, roads, and snowshoeing.  I don't feel very speedy, but hopefully I'm stronger than ever.  Next week may be a bit of a cut back, but it depends how I feel. 

Weekly Total: 75 miles
Last Week: 74 miles
Year to Date: 592 miles
February Total: 285 miles
March Total: 4 miles

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Weekly Snow Log: 2-16-15 to 2-22-15

Groundhog's Month....

Monday: 10 miles - long snowshoe run in Burlingame.  Conditions ranged between okay and poor.  I began from the trail head off of the bottom of Shumankanuc Hill Rd and ran down to Vin Gormley Trail.  My tracks from yesterday were the only ones.  I was hoping for more than that!  I reached VG with the plan to make a loop of Schoolhouse Pond to Sammy C's to VG.  I knew that it had been tracked two storms ago by at least a couple of fat bikes and probably more.  Unfortunately no one else had ventured out here in a week or so.  I tried to stay in the faint indentations of the old tracks, but basically I was doing a lot of sinking in and putting in a lot of effort for a crawl of a pace.  The woods were beautiful, I didn't see any sketchy animal tracks, and I enjoyed myself for the most part.  After making the loop I then headed south down an old double track that leads to the pond.  There were faint snowmobile tracks and I followed them out onto the frozen Watchaug Pond.  I veered west to reach the North Camp beach (where I was yesterday).  It was cool being out on the pond (all by myself), but I didn't linger and played it smart.  I reached the beach and then followed my snowshoe tracks from yesterday up the old camp road back to the intersection with VG.  I then headed up to Sammy C's and back to my car.  Total running time of 1:21:44.  Exhausting but fun adventure. 

Tough spot on Sammy C's

My tracks on Watchaug Pond

In the morning, the family went climbing at The Rock Spot in Peacedale.  After watching the kids for a few minutes, my wife and I decided we wanted to climb as well.  Super fun!  I didn't feel terrible at it thanks to all the push ups (not as many as Seth or Boj) I've been regularly doing for almost a year.  I tried a bunch of auto-belay routes and then did some bouldering.  I'm sure I'll get super sore from this.  Fish tacos at El Fuego for lunch. 2 hours of band practice at night.  Long day! 

My son climbing at The Rock Spot

Tuesday: 13 miles on two runs.  First, I headed out early to the indoor track.  More annoying snow to drive through.  I decided to do some T paced miles with 1 minute recoveries.  Honestly, my body felt lethargic and the first one did not feel easy.  They got better as I went along though.  Results: 5:51/5:52/5:49/5:52/5:50 (target=5:52).  7 miles in 45 minutes.  Later in the day I headed out to Ryan Park for an easy snowshoe run.  Wrong!!  We received about 4" of snow in the morning.  I hesitated about even turning into the unplowed Lafayette Rd parking lot, but took it slow and felt okay about it.  My plan was to head out on the rail bed, circle the pond, and come back on the rail bed.  If I was feeling good, I would add on from there.  Just like yesterday, I was the first person to be on the trails after the latest storm (just finishing up as flurries when I began).  This didn't seem like a big deal, but there weren't many tracks from after Sunday's storm (NK got more snow than Charlestown), never mind the nice packed down trails from last week.  It was like starting over.  Ugh!  I tried to stay in some cross country ski tracks from Sunday.  I reached the ball fields and after lucking out with the portapotties still being there from the race 10 days before I noticed a minivan stuck in the parking lot.  I headed over to help out and then spent the next 20 minutes helping this family back out the 100 yards to reach Oak Hill Rd.  Extreme upper body workout.  My snowshoes really helped both with my traction and digging out the snow from under the stuck tires.  Hopefully this would be good karma, possibly if my own car couldn't get out of the other parking lot.  After the delay, I began running again.  There was a huge snow drift near Bon Jovi Bridge, that looked like a glacier - 3' high and 10' wide.  I was feeling good by the time I was nearing my car, so I tagged on another 15 minutes in the woods and fields on the west side.  The snow was deep here and I had to stop every couple of minutes to rest.  What I'm calling 6 miles in 48:43. 

Hard to tell, but this is the "glacier" that appeared near the bridge

New snow on the trails

Wednesday: 8 miles - snowshoe run in Rome Point.  I really just wanted a few very easy road miles, but the side roads in NK are such a mess and the main roads have narrow shoulders.  I also couldn't get to the track today because of work, so back on snowy trails it was.  Rome Point had been well used as I suspected and I didn't like that the parking lot was almost full when I got there.  Somehow, I didn't really run into anybody other than one lady on a horse and a guy walking alone.  I stayed on the side trails that had been tracked by mostly just boots.  It was a mild 30 degrees, so the snow was decent to run on with my snowshoes.  I did a couple loops of the yellow dot trail and then thought I would peek at the shoreline.  The beach was covered in snow and ice near the water.  The bay north of the Jamestown Bridge looked like it was almost completely frozen over.  I saw a couple of open spots that had many sea ducks concentrated in them.  I tried taking pictures but my phone froze.  I ran out to the tidal stream and back.  My legs were getting cold since the frozen mixture on the beach was very wet.  I went back into the woods and ran more trails.  I tracked out a couple of short side trails I like to run, but I didn't mind too much.  Total time 1:07:34. 

Thursday: 10 miles on two runs.  First, 6 miles on the indoor track in the AM.  Tired body.  Easy miles.  Total time: 43:51.  Then in the afternoon I went back out for another Ryan Park snowshoe run.  My body really feels beat up.  I believe it is mostly from pushing the minivan two days ago.  My plan was to run a few easy miles on packed trails (fingers crossed) and then treat myself to a hot coffee.  Bad news.  Ryan Park trails are officially a mess.  They reminded me of the 10K last year.  No one packed it down nicely, just deep boot holes, and with the "mild" 25 degree temperature (probably mostly because of the higher sun angle), it wasn't even frozen.  My snowshoes sank slightly on the unevenness.  It was not what I had envisioned or up for.  I ran the rail bed, around the pond, and back on the rail bed.  Total time: 37:25.  Snowshoe running has lost its luster. 

Friday: 10 miles - Saunderstown roads hill repeats solo.  Frigid - cold and windy.  Still I was impressed that the higher sun angle still was melting the snow.  I parked at the park and ride on Rte 1A and then ran down to Plum Point Rd.  This straight road is one big hill.  Not quite as hard as Gilbert Stuart Rd, but the second toughest in the area, especially because of the grade.  I managed 5 controlled repeats.  They felt fine, but I wasn't pushing too hard.  I would get cold at the top (wind in my face) and warm back up on the way down.  I moved on to another road with a smaller hill, but still a good one - Plum Beach Rd.  The lesser grade and shorter climb (150' versus 175') seemed relatively easier.  I did four repeats here.  I finished up with 1,427' of climbing on the day in a total time of 1:18:07.  I managed to stay warm and run outside on a day most people didn't.  2+ hours of band practice at night.  Two weeks until our first performance in a year and a half. 

Elevation map of the Plumbs

Saturday: 18 miles - long run on roads with Muddy.  Today was very similar to last Saturday.  Super cold in the morning (again -10 in Richmond), warming up rapidly to 30, and then snow in the afternoon.  We again worked our schedule for a midday start to enjoy the best weather for our sufferfest of a run.  I came up with a road loop that minimized time on busy roads, but also mixed in some good climbs.  According to, two of them were Category 4 (however they determine that).  I wasn't sure what Muddy would want to do for the run, but I assumed we'd be mixing in Marathon Pace work and possibly Tempo Pace as well.  There were a couple of long flat sections that would seem to be good for whatever was in store.  We ended up doing a 6 mile block at MP from New Biscuit City Rd to Glen Rock Rd.  Our target MP is 6:14, but as Muddy says, it's about the effort.  All our miles were either just below or above the target, except one that was a little slower due to terrible road conditions (Lewiston Ave was still snow and ice covered).  We reached the village of Usquepaug and slowed it down to recover.  Well, not really, because we had to climb Punch Bowl Trail - a 200'+ half mile hill.  The road was also a bit slippery.  This was soul crushing.  We regrouped at the bottom (intersection with Small Pox Trail). We then did another MP block (3 miles) to the end of Beaver River Road.  This went okay except for a couple of spin your wheels slippery parts.  Again we nailed the pace.  However, we were both toast.  My upper quads were in pain and very sore.  I'm glad Muddy wasn't feeling well either, because I don't think I could have kept up with him on the "easy" miles back to our cars.  First, we recovered up Shannock Hill Rd.  Enough said.  Then we ran down the other side (more torture).  I wanted to quit running, but we had 2 miles to go, including one more good climb up side roads to Rte 112.  We got it done.  Total time 2:03:06 for a 6:51 average pace and 855' of climbing. 

Sunday: 5 miles - local hilly roads out and back in the afternoon.  Today we pretended it was spring.  We didn't run the wood stove and spent as much time as possible outside.  It was in the low 40's and at times sunny.  It felt great.  I put on my trail shoes for a sloppy road run before my wife headed out on hers.  My road was just plowed and in decent shape.  Buckeye Brook Rd hadn't been and was very slushy.  Still, it was quiet out there, and I enjoyed chasing a few miles.  My quads still felt very sore, but I had no problems running on them.  Total time 35:56 with 335' of climbing.  

Overall Theme: Getting it done.  My body was beat up thanks to non-running activities.  Snowshoeing lost its luster.  I didn't get to do I or R speedwork, but did mix in the hills instead.  The long run was solid.  I still have a few weeks to beat myself up until the next race. 

Weekly Total: 74 miles
Last Week: 56 miles
Year to Date: 517 miles
February Total: 214 miles

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Weekly Snow Log: 2-9-15 to 2-15-15

Just keep plugging away....

Monday: 0 - snow day, no school or work for my wife.  I made it in to the office and then left in the afternoon once I had all my work done as the roads in NK were in bad shape.  Back home, I did get outside before dark to do some shoveling and then I snowshoed (hiked) a track on my property with my kids for about a half an hour.  I hope to run it sometime this week.  Should be fun and challenging. 

Tuesday: 0 - surprise sick day.  Stayed home as I woke up at 3AM to a runny nose that didn't quit until I went to bed at 9:30PM.  I did get the energy to shovel off the flat roof on our house and then did some wood stacking. 

Wednesday: 13 miles on two runs.  My cold was feeling much better and I stopped at the track on my way to work.  I have an idea of a mixed R and I paced workout I want to do, but I did not have the strength in my body to even try it.  Instead I just ran easy, although I didn't feel that great.  2 miles in 14:28, then reverse 2 miles in 13:22, then reverse 1 mile in 6:46, then reverse 1 mile in 6:47. 6 miles total in 41:29.  In the afternoon I headed out to Ryan Park for a snowshoe run.  Again I didn't feel that energetic, but the snowshoe conditions were awesome and I had a lot of fun.  7 miles in 1:00:35. 

Powerline trail.  The snowmobile track was hidden by Monday's new snow. 

Belleville Pond dam

The packed trails look like a luge at times.  So much snow. 
Thursday: 14 miles on two runs.  Again I stopped at URI on my way to work.  My body is feeling better, but my lungs were burning on the track.  I'm still not ready for a speed workout.  Instead I just made up a mini-workout as I went along.  There was a bit of traffic on the track (I did have lane 1 though) so I didn't think it was appropriate to run in the wrong direction.  This is what I did - 3 mile progression, 1 mile recovery, 1 mile with 8x100 strides. Results: 6:51/6:09/5:51/7:08/6:25.  5 miles in 32:27.  In the afternoon it was back to Ryan Park for more snowshoe running.  It was warmer than I thought (35 degrees by the time I finished).  The conditions were much different today.  I believe today is what the snow connoisseurs would call "mashed potatoes".  A little slow and my tights did get wet (and cold by the last 20 minutes).  I mixed up the route and explored a new side trail (slow going) that leads out to the southwest corner of the pond.  I ran briefly on the pond, but I'd rather not be alone doing this.  I then rejoined the main trail and thought I would break trail on the "middle trail" since it is apparent the snow will be sticking around for some time, so why not make all the trails accessible?  Punching through the wet snow was annoying.  It is still deep, even after settling for two weeks.  I hit the Rte 4 trail junction and jumped on that, abandoning my plans of breaking the majority of the middle trail.  Rte 4 trail was in okay shape.  At the end, I headed back down the field trail and then broke trail across the field to connect with the pond side trails.  Super deep snow here!  I rejoined the rail trail with thoughts of a cross pond finish (where I had seen ice fishermen earlier).  There was no one on the pond, so I stayed on the trails.  I'm calling this 9 miles in 1:18:19. 
Mashed potatoes?

Super deep snow in the field.  Where's my showshoe? 
Friday: 5 miles - URI Indoor Track workout solo in the AM.  I was feeling strong enough for a workout and decided to do some R paced intervals.  I didn't want to do the same distance over and over so I came up with the following plan: sets of 600/400/200 with equal recoveries.  I figured I would do at least two sets, possibly three, or maybe add something different on to the end of it.  I didn't have a lot of time and was planning on a double today, so I didn't do much of a warm up and no cool down.  The workout went well and felt relatively smooth.  I ended up doing two sets and then 4x200 @ R at the end.  This gave me two miles at this pace.  Results: 1:53/74/36/1:53/74/36/36/36/35/35 (targets: 600 - 1:52, 400 - 75, 200 - 37).  Total time: 34:17.  I ended up doing a bunch of errands in Wakefield and ran out of time for a planned snowshoe run at Old Mountain Field.  Oh well.  Officially acquired a new space watch - the Garmin 620.  I like it better than the 610. 
 Saturday:  18 miles - midday long run with Muddy in Chariho.  I had to run early because my wife was working and the weather looked scary.  Luckily, Muddy's wife was happy to have my kids over later in the morning so that we could run when it wasn't so cold (-10 in Richmond when I woke up).  We ran easy from his house over some hills and gobbling up a few side roads for his running project.  I felt uninspired today and I wasn't looking forward to any speed stuff during the run.  Eventually it was time to jump into so marathon pace work.  The plan was 7 miles, but we both agreed we could cut it short.  We began from Meadow Brook on Pine Hill Rd heading east.  It was uphill for a half mile and I was working very hard to try to get my pace into the marathon pace zone (6 teens).  After two minutes, it didn't seem remotely possible that I could run for almost 45 minutes at this pace.  I kept chugging along and by the time the first mile was over (ending with a nice downhill), my watch showed 6:09.  Too fast!  Oh well.  It was beginning to flurry and the roads were super busy with cars.  Where was everyone going?  It was infuriating at times.  On Rte 91 passing Kings Factory Rd, a kid in a truck rolled through a stop sign and almost hit me (I was paying attention so it wasn't that close).  He was on a cell phone too.  I began shouting at him and then so did Muddy.  I was wearing a fluorescent yellow shirt to be as visible as possible.  This gave me an adrenaline boost.  We finished up the seven miles with the following splits: 6:09/6:13/6:16/6:15/6:06/6:12/6:20.  We then stopped briefly to eat Gu and drink Gatorade Muddy had stashed.  We then had two huge hills and three miles to go back to his house.  Torture!  Fun to finish and nail the workout.  Total time: 2:03:29 for an average pace of 6:52.   
Sunday:  6 miles - snowshoe run in the fresh snow alone.  I headed out from my house as the snow was winding down.  It was super windy out though and only 20 degrees.  I wore my balaclava and was fine.  My road hadn't been plowed which was good for snowshoeing.  The fresh snow was extremely powdery and easy to run through.  I reached Burlingame and headed down trails to Watchaug Pond at North Camp.  Galoob had told me that a lot of the trails had been tracked by fat bike group rides and a couple of snowmobiles.  The going was decent thanks to these packed trails and just the few inches of new powder on top.  The woods were beautiful - the trees still holding snow.  I made it down to the pond and planned to take a track across it to another trail (as described by Galoob).  The blowing snow on the pond obscured the track, so I just ventured out on the ice a bit and took some pictures and video.  I returned on the tracked old camp road and then took VG over to the old double track that leads to the bottom of my road.  Hard work going up hill and I resorted to some walking a short breaks.  I finished on my road and then did a loop on my property that my kids and myself tracked a few days ago.  Fun stuff!  Total time: 54 minutes. 
Tunnel in Burlingame

Selfie on Watchaug Pond

My unplowed road
Weekly Total: 56 miles
Last Week: 72 miles
Year to Date: 443 miles
February Total: 140 miles

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Belleville Pond Trail 10K 2015

Race #3 in the South County 4th Season Series was held last Saturday, February 7th, in Ryan Park.  I spent Tuesday through Friday tracking the course in snowshoes hoping to have better racing conditions than last year's snowy sufferfest.  On Thursday, I was able to run the entire course on snowshoes without walking or stopping, and in fact, I was beginning to get excited that the course would be in decent shape.  Approximately 2/3 of the course trails were hard packed by snowshoes, cross country skis, snowmobiles, and hikers.  The rest was slow, but at least it had 6 sets of snowshoe tracks on them (5 mine, 1 Mike Galoob's). 

By race day I had already decided on my traction device of choice - cross county spikes.  I had purchased them in the fall with the hopes of doing a cross country race or two, but I only ended up wearing them once in a workout.  They felt light and fantastic and I thought they should perform well on the tracked down 10K course.  Besides, Chris Garvin won last year's snowy race here in spikes. 

I arrived an hour early for the race and quickly began running into familiar faces.  After registering and chatting with fellow WTAC teammates, frenemies from other teams (TNT and Rhode Runner), I headed out for a warm up on the beginning and end of the course with Garvin.  The spikes did feel great on the packed down sections.  Somewhere along the way we caught up with Jeff and the three of us ran the end of the course, until the relatively untracked ballfield ending section in which I avoided, but the other two "ran".  During the week, no one besides me tracked it, and every time I did, blowing snow completely covered any work I had previously done.  The snow was also still very deep here, and I knew this was going to be the most miserable section of a race course maybe ever.  After the warm up, I returned to my car to warm up my feet and put on my race clothes - long sleeve green team shirt, shorts, hat, and gloves.  With five minutes to go, I headed back out for strides on the icy park roads, feeling fast and loose.  I was ready to race. 

Since my race two years ago where I finished 3rd overall and only 19 seconds behind the winner, I've come into this race with lofty expectations, only to have snowy trail conditions.  I don't race very well comparatively to others on snow, so I tempered my expectations for this race.  Based on the pre-registrators on, it was apparent that WTAC was going to have a tough battle with Rhode Runner.  My main goal for this race was for a team win.  The Rhode Runners may be faster on roads, but not on trails.  At least I hoped.  I wanted to go out conservatively (not in front!) and try to score for my team and stay ahead of Rhode Runner's #3 guy.  There were way too many fast guys to worry about my overall place. 

Chaos! - photo by Jana Walker

The start was very tough.  I tried to take it out slow, but it was just utter chaos.  I ended up taking the icy parking lot over the untracked deep snow option.  I felt slow, but out of breath.  I stayed on my feet and once we reached the main path around the pond, I found myself in about 10th place.  I was okay with this, as we were all together in one long line (lead by Jackman and Muddy).  After another minute or so, a lead pack was definitely forming and the two guys ahead of me (fast looking Rhode Runner guy and teammate Seth) had lost contact with them.  I didn't panic (I was happy with the pace), but I thought I should try to move up and latch on if I could.  I went by both guys, and was now in 7th place, trying to catch the lead pack that included Jackman, Muddy, Garvin, Brightman, Eric Lonergan, and Anthony Gonsalves.  I hit the short uphill deep snow spot and before I knew it, I was probably 20 seconds behind.  Ugh!  I was second guessing not going out faster and letting the adrenaline of being in the lead group pull me along.  I was now out with touch of them and I had company behind me.  I was paranoid it was the new Rhode Runner guy I had heard about (Matt Gingras).  I looked back a couple of times, and then I was pacified by the voice of Jeff telling me it was a friendly teammate behind me.  GPS mile 1 - 7:20.  Scott Mason photo from here here

I was now on the long straight rail trail.  This trail had the most activity on it, and was very firm and fast.  I pushed ahead trying to create some distance between me and Jeff (a notably awesome snow runner) and other runners behind him.  I did seem to create some space.  The leaders seemed so far ahead of me now.  My effort and speed felt good, but I wondered if I was fatigued from all the snowshoeing during the week?  I pressed on and reached the steep hill on the powerline.  This knocked my pace down to a crawl (GPS mile 2 - 7:05).  I made the sharp turn and could see Jeff and Chris Fox (Rhode Runner) not far behind.  I hopped through the deep snow, crossed the powerline, and then began the tough Rte 4 trail.  I was sure Jeff would pass me here.  I was planning to tell him to hold off the guy behind him (assuming he passed me too), or maybe I could keep Chris behind me.  Despite my attempts of making a nice track during the week, the trail here still was very slow.  It wasn't as terrible as if it was untracked, but shoes just sank in.  I tried my best to step in my snowshoe tracks for the best traction.  After a minute or so, I stopped hearing anyone behind me.  Was it possible I was out snow running Jeff? 

Nearing the end of the Rte 4 trail there was an optimistic sign.  Someone had cracked in the lead pack and seemed to be trudging slowly through the snow.  I was re-invigorated!  I pushed harder and caught up to Anthony Gonsalves right at the powerline (where the traction got better thanks to a snowmobile).  GPS mile 3 - 9:42.  I followed him until the next little uphill, where I motored by.  I made sure to keep on the gas once back on the packed field trail knowing that he is a faster road guy than me.  I was halfway done, and feeling great.  I might not have had the speed to keep up with the lead guys in the beginning, but I knew I was going to finish this race strong.  I hammered the downhills and pushed any short ups.  Knowing the course so well really helps.  I hurdled the giant tree hopefully saving me a couple of seconds running around it.  After a few minutes on this trail, I began looking back to see if anybody was still with me.  Nope.  Or at least that's what I thought.  It was hard to say since some of the guys had white jerseys and were nicely camouflaged.  There were some slower spots on this trail (that I already knew about), but overall I knew I nailed it.  GPS mile 4 - 8:12.  I reached the rail bed trail again.  I really let my legs go, fairly confident I wouldn't get caught.  Still no sight of anyone up ahead until the last section of straightaway (still at least a minute behind).  GPS mile 5 - 6:48. 

Not too much more to go.  I was feeling confident in my finishing place (6th).  I kept pushing hard on the well packed trails around the pond.  It was then time to die on the Field of Broken Dreams.  I could here Mike Galoob (RD) yelling at me, but the snow was so deep.  It was even more miserable than I anticipated.  I nervously plodded along, hoping the snow gazelle didn't run me down.  I mercifully crossed the finish line in 46:20.  GPS mile 6 - 7:19.  Results here

Field of Broken Dreams - photo by Jana Walker
What a fun race!  I chatted with the top finishers for a few minutes and then watched teammates Jeff and Seth finish up.  WTAC pulled out the win!  Congrats to Garvin on another win in the series and to Muddy for having such a strong performance on snow (his nemesis).  After a fun team cooldown I returned to my car to change into dry clothes and warm up.  I picked up a couple of beers for the team win and then a coffee stout bomber as thanks for tracking the course during the week.  It was then off to the Oak Hill Tavern for food and fun with teammates and Turtles.  I still will dream about tearing up this course on a snow-free day, but for now I am very happy with the way this race turned out. 
WTAC cool down crew - photo by Jana Walker

Thursday, February 5, 2015

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

This is a frustrating time for southern RI runners.  I'm trying to make the best of it.  This Sunday is race #3 in the South County 4th Season Series - the Belleville Pond Trail 10K.  Held in Ryan Park (dubbed Jonny Park by Garvin), I had dreams of tearing it up this year.  Alas, just like last year, it will be covered in snow, which I do not race very well in.  I'm hoping the trail conditions will be okay, especially if I get out there this week and pack it down. 

Monday: 7.5 miles - local snowy roads and trails.  Another snow day with everyone stuck at home.  This time we didn't get much new snow, but plenty of freezing rain, leaving a messy situation on the roads and walkways.  Late in the afternoon I decided I needed to get out and try snowshoeing.  I hoped the upper crust was thick enough to keep me from sinking in.  I set out on my home trails and then descended Shumankawall.  The going was miserable.  My snowshoes were punching through the crust and I would sink down in the deep snow.  My ankles were sore from breaking the frozen outer layer and I kept falling.  I crawled my way back up the other side and ended my attempt at snowshoeing for the day.  I then put on Yaktrax instead and headed out on the roads.  At this point the temperature was dropping quickly and it was freezing over and snowing again.  The roads were crappy, but the Yaktrax worked well.  I ran down Buckeye Brook Rd and decided to give the woods of north Burlingame a shot because there had been a 4x4 vehicle on them after the last storm.  The footing was pretty good, and since I wasn't wearing snowshoes, my footsteps fit in the tire tracks.  Lots of animal tracks, but since the snow is so deep, I couldn't tell what was what.  I made it out to Burdickville Rd and then ran some more roads until it was getting pretty dark.  Total time for both was an hour with about 600' of elevation gain. 

Tuesday: 14 miles  on two runs.  Very cold and terrible driving conditions in the morning.  The kids had an hour delay, but I left early to go run at the URI indoor track.  My legs were tired, so I just wanted to bag a few easy miles and then hopefully run in Ryan Park later in the day.  I ran with headphones and enjoyed listening to my Pandora radio station (Hambone Radio) as I ran in circles.  My pace was easy, but picked up as I went along.  I opted to do 8x100 strides during my last mile:  2 miles in 14:15, then reverse direction 2 miles in 13:45, then reverse direction 2 miles with 8x100 strides in 12:57.  6 miles total in 40:57.  At lunch, I drove over to Ryan Park to snowshoe the 10K course.  I wasn't sure what to expect, but I guessed there would be plenty of suffering.  I was happy to see that the main trails around the pond and the rail trail had been nicely packed down already by walkers, quite a few with snowshoes (I saw three different elderly people out there on them).  There were some spots that I had to break trail in the first mile however.  Then in the fields and powerline, there were snowmobile tracks, and these were really awesome to run on.  Unfortunately, the entire Rte 4 trail was untouched.  The snow was still deep out there, and the going was very slow.  I had to take walking breaks, or I would stop occasionally after I fell.  I was so happy to reach the powerline and return to the snowmobile tracks.  In fact, the snowmobile tracks continued for the next half mile or so of the course.  Once I veered off onto single track near the pond, the going got a little tougher.  Luckily, there had been a couple of people who had walked it, so it was manageable.  I returned on the runnable rail trail and path over Bon Jovi Bridge (open water here - thought I might run across on ice).  I had one more bout of misery as I had to punch through the deep snow around the softball field at the finish.  Overall, it was a fun run.  Total time: 68 minutes.  I'm calling this 8 miles. 

Can you tell where the untracked parts were? 
Rail Trail in good shape

Beautiful but I had to run through it

Loving the snowmobile tracks

View of the pond from Bon Jovi Bridge

Wednesday: 8.5 miles on two runs.  Another indoor track stop on my way to work.  Just five miles this time.  I again enjoyed listening to music, but my legs were sluggish.  2 miles in 14:15, then reverse 2 miles in 13:43, then reverse 1 mile with 8x100 strides in 6:22.  Total time: 34:20.  At lunch I again went to Ryan Park to snowshoe.  I parked at Lafayette, and ran the Rte 4 trail first to get it out of the way.  It was a bit easier - I didn't fall - but I tried to not follow exactly in the my tracks from yesterday to better pack it down.  Even though it was in the mid 30's, I was getting cold on my legs where my snowshoes were throwing wet snow on them.  I didn't have my good tights on, and the ones I were wearing were getting soaked, numbing my legs.  I also wasn't loving the snowshoeing as much as yesterday.  I was just tired.  I did the western loop and when I reached the rail trail I decided to just return to my car.  3.5 miles in 33:32. 

The powerline hill

Rte 4 trail - my tracks from yesterday
Thursday: 10 miles.  First I ran the Belleville Pond 10K course again in snowshoes.  This time I only fell once near the end, but never had to walk or take breaks.  The snowshoe running was really fun.  8 miles in 1:02:38 - six minutes faster than Tuesday and that doesn't include my stops then.  I then quickly took off the snowshoes and ran a short cooldown on course trails in just trail shoes.  First off, my feet felt weightless.  Such an awesome feeling.  Second, the running on the packed down trails felt good.  I need traction for sure, but it made me feel better (and more excited) about racing Saturday.  Now I'm worried my legs might be tired.  2+ miles in 17:30. 
Friday: 8 miles in two "runs".  First, I stopped at the URI indoor track on my way to work (0 degrees out) for a short easy run.  Legs feel a bit tired.  2 miles in 14:15, then reverse 2 miles in 13:56, then reverse 1 mile in 6:53. No strides today. Total time: 35:04.  Then at lunch, I met Mike and his girls at Ryan Park.  I took a pack full of flags and headed out to mark the Rte 4 trail while he snowshoed with his kids and marked the pond single track.  I didn't do much running, mostly just walking (in snowshoes) and sticking flags in the snow.  I reached the far end of the trail and then backtracked to further pack down the mess out there in the western woods.  Not sure how easy it will be to run in shoes tomorrow, but better than punching through a foot of snow.  3 miles in 1:05:04. 
Saturday: 11 miles - Belleville Pond Trail 10K, 46:20, 6th overall, WTAC team win.  Really fun day and a good race.  Separate write up to follow. 
Sunday: 13 miles - Hopkinton/North Stonington roads with Muddy.  Peppy recovery(?) run from Muddy's house.  We wore Yaktrax on a couple of the snow covered roads, but overall, we were running on pavement.  This run ended up being way faster than I anticipated and even included a decent amount of climbing (564').  Total time: 1:32:21. 
  Overall: This was a surprising week volume-wise.  I didn't expect to get in all the doubles during the week and the longish run on Sunday after the race.  I'm liking the weekday doubles and hope to continue them at least while the trails are only snowshoeable.  With no races for a month, I will get back to two speed workouts a week and keep the mileage high. 
Weekly Total: 72 miles
Last Week: 60 miles
Year to Date: 387 miles
February Total: 84 miles