Thursday, March 24, 2016

Catching Up - Last Month of Winter

Insert lack of blogging excuses here. 

The rundown:

The Analysis:

Seems like the February mileage total is a little low, but whatever.  March is shaping up nicely. 

The week of 2/22/16 was spent on the Belleville Pond Trail 10K course (4 out of 5 weekdays) and then the race was on Saturday.  See separate write up here.  I began incorporating yoga into my morning routine.  There is a block of time between when my son gets on the middle school bus and when my daughter and wife get up for school and work.  I could (and have) do short runs to really pump up my mileage, but I'm getting in plenty of miles without it.  Instead, I've begun dabbling in yoga, and I'm finding it a really nice compliment to my running.  I just do easy yoga workouts on You Tube that have the philosophy I like (mix of relaxation, stretching, and strength).  Nothing crazy or fast.  My body has been responding extremely well.  I feel less tightness and soreness from my normal running.  My body feels stronger.  I still like to mix in some morning pushups and planks, but not as often now. 

Week of 2/29/16 recap: the first three days I got in a lot of hill climbing on mostly trails.  Good Wapack prep.  I'm always a little frustrated with the elevation gain on Strava, especially when I run with somebody with a barometer watch and they bag so much more than me.  I need to forget about it and just know that I'm putting in a lot of quality hill work.  Strava had the week as 4,272' of gain.  Easy day on Thursday, followed by an unplanned (but no big deal) rest day. 

Saturday morning I jumped into the Kelley's Pace Hare Hop 5K in Mystic.  It was race #3 in the WTAC Clamshell Series.  The early morning start and close proximity worked best for the family schedule.  I had hoped to travel up to the An Ros Mor 5K (USATF-NE event) with Galoob on Sunday, but it was too much of a time suck.  I also considered jumping in the Ocean's Run Half and trying to run with Muddy.  It was a little pricey and turned out to be a debacle, so I'm glad I skipped it and went with the Hare Hop.  I arrived early, signed up, and then headed out on an early and long warm up along the course.  I saw two fast looking guys also warming up early.  When I got back, I could see that there was going to be a good sized field.  I was impressed with how well the race was organized.  The course was no cupcake.  An out-and-back with a 80' hill climb in the middle and a couple of sneaky hills at the start and finish.  I was feeling pretty good.  I did some strides in the parking lot and lined up.  It was cold, but I knew I'd be fine when racing.  The two guys I saw warming up were there as well as a pack of fast looking teenagers.  You never know what to expect with them.  Oh, and to my surprise, Matthew Walker was there.  Uh oh, there goes my Clamshell win.  Nothing to do now but just race.  I could use it.  It will be good for me.  The start was fast and I tried to keep myself in check.  After we rounded the parking area (1/4 mile?) we had hit a small annoying hill.  At the top I was now in third.  Where's Matthew?  I continued on the flat open road trying to not go too fast.  There was a guy in blue already establishing a clear lead and then 2nd was a few seconds ahead (these were the two guys I saw warming up).  I reached Mile 1 in 5:41.  This was not my plan.  Too slow.  I wanted to not go out too fast, but apparently I went too far.  Then I reached the big hill.   I dug down and climbed hard.  I quickly caught 2nd place and motored by.  I tried to keep pushing myself, but I couldn't wait for the hill to end.  It did, near the cone turnaround, and I made eye contact with the leader (probably 10-15 second lead).  I rounded the cone and then got to see my lead on third (5 seconds) and Matthew gaining in 4th.  I tried to let it fly down the hill.  It was great to get support from my WTAC teammates and others as we passed each other.  It was clear that the leader was going to win.  He significantly increased his lead.  But, based on the cheers behind me, I had put a nice gap on third.  2 Mile split was 5:36.  Not bad considering the hill.  Back on the flat straight for the last mile.  I felt under control and smooth until I hit the small hill before the parking lot finish.  I was excited to still be ahead of Matthew (for Clamshell points), but also scared.  I felt like there was still a good gap, but not big enough for him to out sprint me to the finish line.  I hammered the hill and felt sick to my stomach at the top.  I didn't descend well.  Matthew was coming.  The stupid parking lot took forever to get to the end.  Finally I could see the finish and knew that I was going to hold my place.  I wasn't thrilled with my finish time (17:24 but add 2 seconds for SNERRO again!!), but it wasn't a flat course.  My Mile 3 split was 5:28 and the final .1 was 5:20 pace (this should be way faster).  Negative splits.  I'll take it.  I watched the finish until I got cold and then returned to my car for extra layers.  I then did a cool down mostly on a new to me trail system that Crutchley alerted me to across the street.  I had enough time to get my award: new GPS watch! 
I really enjoyed this event.  Again, very well managed.  Thank you Kelley's Pace.  Results

Sunday I managed to sneak in a long run in three parts during the morning. 

Week of 3/7 recap: huge training week.  Lots of hill work, miles, trails, and even roads.  Thursday I did a combo workout: 2 x road mile (Waldron) and then 2 x trail mile (yellow dot loop in Rome Pt).  My goal was to get used to running fast again, no matter how tired I was. 5:17/5:17 on the road miles - very pleased.  5:44/5:36 (CR) on the trail loops.  This is super fun single track that twists and has a decent climb.  Then on Sunday I got the invite with Muddy to do an organized run on the Boston Marathon course courtesy of Ryan Davenport.  Everything was graciously taken care of for me, all I had to do was run.  After a mile warm up from Ryan's house to the start line in Hopkinton, we met up with many others and headed off.  My plan was to follow Muddy and Ryan's plan.  7 miles easy then 10 at a spicy marathon pace with others at 6:10 pace.  Followed by 2 miles easy to the Newton Town Hall at Mile 19.  The first miles were fun and fast (8 miles at 6:55 average pace).  I talked with different people, but ended up with Ryan and Muddy at mile 8, waiting for the 6:10 group to meet us.  They arrived and we were off.  It became apparent that they were going faster than advertised (my watch was showing 6:07 average pace).  I was feeling good, and since I'm not actually doing a marathon, welcomed the challenge of sticking with these too fast 4.  After a few miles, I decided to take a turn leading (strong headwind) but I got carried away on some hills and we went even faster (and dropped someone in the process).  The road began getting busier and more confusing, and I let the other two take the lead the last couple of miles.  We stopped after 9 miles (for me, 10 for them) in 54:08!  We chatted and then they headed back and told me how to continue on the course.  I had one big hill to contend with (Firehouse Hill?), but I kept a 6:32 average pace for the last two miles which felt slow and easy.  I ended up covering the first 19 miles of the course in 2:02:32 (6:27 ave. pace). 

Week of 3/14 recap: another big week, similar to last week minus the roads, adding in even more hills.  The highlight of the week was a 3 hour out-and-back solo run on the Narragansett Trail.  I kept a steady pace throughout, pushing the pace in a couple of places (Strava segments).  I ran from Ashville Pond to Tom Wheeler Rd where the trail has a road block at the Groton Gun Club.  I instead continued on down the road which turned to dirt and dropped pretty far.  At the 1:30 mark, I turned around and went back.  At the 1:47 mark, I tripped and fell, smashing my left knee on a rock.  It stung.  And hurt.  I stopped for a drink of water and a Gu, feeling sorry for myself.  I regrouped and carried on, pushing the Green Fall ravine trail segment pretty hard.  I was very happy to not have any fatigue issues with my feet or legs.  This is a very technical trail, so that is a good sign! 

So there it is.  Until next time. 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Belleville Pond Trail 10K 2016

Very late on this write up so I will keep it relatively brief.  Saturday, February 27th was the fifth annual Belleville Pond 10K in Ryan Park.  I was particularly excited for this year's rendition because there would be no snow on the course.  This has only been the case the first year.  The second year only had an inch or so, but the last two were snowy sufferfests.  I longed to get to race fast on my (one of many) home courses.  RD and training partner Mike Galoob couldn't resist tinkering with the course this year to include some of the many new single track trails that have sprouted up in the park the last couple of years.  This would make a relatively easy course a bit more tricky.  I also hoped this would improve my chances in the race - slowing down the speedy road guys and favoring my trail and hill experience.  Realistically I thought a podium finish might be possible for me.  It was clear by the almost 150 pre-registries that this race would be chock full of competition.  This is was not going to be a walk in the park! 

I deliberately had a very easy race week.  Sometimes I find it challenging to give up miles during the week of a race.  I hadn't raced in quite some time and I wanted to be fresh.  In the future I hoped to remember the race - I certainly won't care if I ran 50 miles that week or 60.  I spent 4 out of 5 weekdays on the course.  I kept the going easy and the mileage low.  I liked the flow of the new course.  It mixed in some pace changing tight single track and also a bunch of small hills.  Then on Friday, I met Mike in the park to flag the far end of the course.  He was already out when I arrived, so I ran around the course to find him.  I found his pack ditched on the trail in the powerline and I immediately knew what he was up to - tinkering with the course less than 24 hours to race time!  Sure enough he had just scouted an idea and liked it.  I did too, so we went ahead and marked it.  This change mixed in a decent hill on the powerline as well as part of the fun "middle" trail.  I was excited for tomorrow. 

Race day!  My brother Greg was in town and going to race as well.  He was convinced that this would be the race I finally beat him, but I never count him out.  His plan was to stick with me, and the prospect of racing with my brother was a fun and comforting feeling.  I figured he would both push me and make me run smart.  I decided to rep Wild Endurance with him at the race (yet still scoring for WTAC).  The morning was nice - sunny and a bit chilly.  The course was in top shape.  We arrived early and got settled in, chatting with many familiar people.  I led a group warm up on the beginning and finishing stretches of the course.  I then returned to my car for last minute prep and headed off to the starting area.  Besides the competition I already was counting on, there were some surprises as well - namely fit looking fast road guys.  I had no idea what to expect. 

At the siren, I tried to keep it under control.  I watched 20 something people shoot out ahead of me.  I tried to find the balance of conservation and not falling too far behind.  I hoped to be in the mix when things most likely slowed down on the first single track shortly into the race.  I moved up as the sprinters fell back, but honestly, I felt like my body was tight and or working too hard way too early.  I entered the single track in 6th place.  Ahead of me were knowns Eric Narcisi, Eric Lonergan, and Steve Brightman, and unknown fast looking road guys (later figured out to be Geoff Nelson and Christopher Cluett).  Greg was on my heels.  The pace remained fast and the pack did not stick tight as I thought.  Eventually I made a move by Cluett before reaching the rail bed.  Now Geoff and the Erics were pulling away with Brightman doing his best to keep up.  I was not close to them.  Greg moved up along side of me and I could hear more footsteps behind.  Again, I noticed that the hot pace didn't feel great to me.  Shouldn't I feel fresher?  I thought Greg would continue to push on ahead of me, but it didn't happen.  When we reached the end, he let me take the lead again.  I thought it was just a courtesy, but that was the last time I would run with him today.  I ran through the field and up the awkward powerline hill.  For a few moments I forgot what was going on behind me, and focused on a fading runner ahead.  It was Geoff Nelson.  I passed him on the steep incline onto the Rte 4 trail.  4th place now! 

Quickly my focus turned to the runners behind me.  Someone was now "pushing" me.  It didn't take long to realize it was Muddy.  Here we go again!  Does this happen in every trail race we run together?  I knew he was super fit and wouldn't put up with me lollygagging out there.  I had to hammer.  The thought of it was more tiring than the physical act of it.  I pushed hard on the ups and downs of this trail.  On a tight turn I could see that we had put some distance between us and Greg.  The next couple of twisty miles were the same.  Negative mental thoughts as I tried to stay ahead of Muddy.  Sometimes I wished he just went by so I could relax.  Other times I surged hills or obstacles hoping to create space.  No dice.  I was sure he was just biding his time until the end.  It also was frustrating to not see 3rd place (presumably Brightman) in the woods.  How can he be so far ahead? 

I reached the open rail bed again.  I made sure to increase my turnover.  Muddy remained close.  Brightman looked to be a minute ahead.  The battle was for 4th place.  I still felt like Muddy was waiting to make a move.  I thought about the new WTAC Clamshell series and how we would be tied if he beat me or I would have a decent lead if he didn't.  Willing myself to stay uncomfortable for just a few more minutes.  Off the railbed, I hammered the next two small hills before hitting the "roots" trail.  Did I create some space?  Adrenaline was pumping as the end got closer.  I reached the open parking area and now just had to run around the "broken field of dreams".  I began sprinting.  Don't get passed I told myself over and over.  Finally I could see the finish and found yet another gear.  4th place!  Two seconds ahead of Muddy.  One minute 19 seconds ahead of Greg. 

I missed my podium finish by one place, but I was very happy with my race.  I think the early tightness and uneasiness can be chalked up to a lack of racing.  My body was not ready for it.  However, my training let me push hard on the trails and finish strong.  I outsprinted everyone on the Field of Broken Dreams Strava segment - even the race winner Eric Narcisi by 4 seconds. 

The new course was a smashing success.  It still is fast, but way more interesting now.  Everyone seemed to enjoy it.  I managed a group trail cool down and then stuck around for my cruel 4th place award - a can of O'Doul's!  Thanks again to everyone who makes these 4th Season Trail Race Series events so awesome. 

Results here