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. 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Pisgah Mountain 23K Trail Race 2015

Since this is so late, I'll try to keep it brief.  This is one of my annual "must do" races.  I always look forward to the trip up to Chesterfield, NH and visiting with my brothers and their friends.  This year I had to either drive up later the night before, or just go up really early.  I decided to sleep in my own bed at home and make the solo journey before the sun rose.  The trip up was good and I ran into my brothers at the school (registration).  We headed back to Greg's house to hang out for a while.  Usually I'm feeling very jittery, nervous about the impending race.  This year I was just enjoying the company and not focused on the race at all.  I'm not sure why.  I certainly trained enough.  I certainly seemed capable of another PR and my first sub 1:40 effort on the course.  Greg hadn't been training much at all and there was even a shot (not great in my mind) that I could beat him on a longish run like this today.  I just wasn't fired up. 

Pre race instructions.  Wild Endurance up front.  Photo by Fred Ross

The race began and Greg and I took off out in front.  My main plan was to run with him or even ahead of him if I was feeling good.  What happened is what I should have anticipated: he took the race out hard, at least too hard for me.  This is how he trail races: run away and hide.  It doesn't matter if I'm his big brother.  I appreciate his ruthlessness. 

The start.  Photo by Fred Ross

The first two miles are basically uphill on dirt roads to reach Pisgah State Park.  I feel like climbing is an advantage for me, but I found myself trailing Greg, and not feeling good at all.  No one was yet nipping at my toes, and I had the thought that my race was already over.  Worse was the thought of suffering for the next hour and a half by myself.  I was totally lacking any killer instinct.  I ran on and had a moment of positivity when I was actually catching up to my brother on the screaming descent in the park.  Maybe I would catch him on the next long hill climb?  No dice.  He disappeared for good.  I felt crappy climbing again. 

The last couple of years I have been pushed by guys on my tail.  This can be crucial to make sure you are running your fastest during a trail race.  After I summited the long climb, I talked myself into working hard for the duration.  Even as my attitude improved, I was not getting the help I needed from behind.  I would glance back at spots with long looks and just not see anyone.  I knew that once I climbed the very long and challenging Pisgah Ridge and I still didn't see anybody, I was not going to be passed.  The ridge climb went okay - no hiking - didn't feel terrible.  Nobody in sight behind me.  My place was settled and I just needed to keep trying to reach my time goal. 

Somewhere around mile 8.  Photo by Fred Ross. 

The last five miles went well.  I felt stronger on the Davis Hill/Hubbard Hill than ever before.  Usually the roots in the deep woods feel terrible on tired sore feet, but not today.  According to a photographer I was a minute and a half back on Greg, and then a short time later I saw my sister-in-law Jen, who told me I was only a minute back.  Positivity flowed back through me.  Maybe he is tiring?  I just controlled what I could control which was my effort. 

Finally the end was near as I exited the park and made my way on the final mile plus road section (unpaved then paved).  As I made the crazy fast descent I got a glimpse of Greg.  Things could get interesting!  I didn't have much more to give since I was going all out, so I just had to keep at it.  There's a decent hill climb and knew that would be the deciding factor.  I reached the top and Greg wasn't that much closer.  I spent the last half mile chasing him, but the race finished and I was 28 seconds too slow. 

As I crossed the line I finally looked at my watch.  I had figured that I would have at least gotten the sub 1:40 I was looking for, especially since I was so close to Greg.  He told me before the race he was in 1:39 shape, but I figured he was really in 1:36 shape.  I was happy to check my time.  But what I saw was not what I was expecting.  1:42:17.  1:40 slower than last year.  Huh?  Hard to figure.  The weather was gorgeous and the woods were dry.  I'm chalking it up to three things: not pumped up beforehand, going out too fast the first 3 miles, and then not getting pushed from behind during the middle miles.  It does make a difference. 

Afterwards, I felt fine about the race.  This was definitely my chance to beat Greg in a race and I blew it.  Oh well.  It was fun and I'm always glad to hang out in Chesterfield.