Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Weekly Log 28-Nov to 4-Dec-2016: Trail, Road, Track Mix

Monday:  0
Rest day.

Tuesday:  11
Something different:  went for a road run in the rain.  While I had been avoiding roads pretty much to date this fall after a brutally hot and uncomfortable summer, the roads are much easier to take in this cooler weather.  It was raining and 53 degrees at Noon, so it made for a very comfortable run.  Didn't feel I was running hard, so a little surprised with a sub-7 average pace especially given this run had a number of hills, including the Boombridge climb from the state line up into North Stonington, and Potter Hill Climb.
Saw more cows than humans on this run.  Not a bad thing.

Wednesday:  9
Easy pace run on the Blue Heron trail loop, Dedham into Boston and back.  Trails very soggy after last night's pouring rain.

Thursday:  5
Barn Island at lunch.  First day of December brought balmy 60-degree weather.  Single-track trails.  Only saw one other person on the trails:  a woman walking her three dogs, one of which really wanted to run with me.

Friday:  5
Knowing that tomorrow I'll be running track (gasp!) and roads with Tommy and crew, I headed to Bradford Preserve in late afternoon to run trails and keep it short and easy.  Contemplating add a "bump-up" option to our 2nd Fall Series trail race next year, and scouted options which would make an easy 8K.  A few runners gave feedback that they'd like a longer distance than 5K; a few more indicated 5K is probably the longest they would consider.

Saturday:  15
  1. Track workout with a group of 5, led by Tommy 5K.  5 miles including warm-up splits and rest.  4 x 400 (78, 79, 80, 82), 4 x 300 (58, 59, 60, 61), 4 x 200 (39, 38, 37, 34).  One pleasant encounter (a girl doing a track workout as we arrived, and explaining part of her workout to us) and one not so pleasant (an old man walking in Lane 1 the whole time; I inadvertently bumped him on one 400; wanted to both apologize and explain track etiquette, but the opportunity didn't present itself as he soon left).
  2. Medium distance group run.  Started with a group of five, ended with a group of one.  Ten miles for me.  Changed out of my NB 1400 flats into my Vazee Pace, while sitting in my car and noticing that the other four guys looked cold on the WHS quad in the wind waiting for me.  I felt cold looking at them, so I turned on the heated seats, got something to eat, and relaxed a bit (slight hyperbole, but it did feel like I was taking forever with the shoe change).  Again, one unpleasant experience (running on busy Elm Street while a woman in a minivan gave us a clear look of derision for running on the road, despite running single-file here; we runners should have been up on the cement sidewalk ruining our knees, or better yet on the couch) and one pleasant experience (running into Beth and Gus [who I probably insulted by calling Jax] and catching up for a bit).
Sunday:  6
Barn Island trails with Matthew.  Thank you to the state of CT for shutting down hunting on Sundays.  MA does the same, but RI does not follow suit.  Fortunately, with the proximity to the Constitution State (or is it the Nutmeg State?), this gives the trail runner a number of safer and more comfortable weekend trail options.

Weekly mileage:  51

Weekly synopsis:  Very happy with mileage of 51.  However, it's time to up the ante if I want to run well at a spring marathon, and accordingly, want to bring the mileage up to 60 by mid-December.  Having the last two weeks of the year off will help in that regard.


Saturday, December 3, 2016

Pie Run 2016

Middletown, RI
Thanksgiving morning
Thursday, November 24, 2016

Last year Matthew and I ran the Washington Trust Family Turkey Trot 5K in Pawtucket.  This year, between my employer no longer sponsoring the race and a need to finish up earlier to go to my brother's house in Narragansett for T-day dinner, we looked for an earlier starting race.  We found two:  Fit Trail 5K in Cumberland, and the Pie Run in Newport, both with an 8:30am start.  We had seriously considered the Fit Trail 5K until Matthew researched it and found the trails were more like wide XC trails instead of single-track, so we opted for Pie.

Arrived at the Newport County Y about an hour early, and the crowds were already gathering.  Middletown Police already had Valley Road completely closed in both directions; that was exciting.  I exercised poor form in not pre-registering, but there was plenty of time to register and still get a short warm-up on the course.   I had studied the course map, as well as at Matthew's suggestion, Tom's race recap from 2015.  On the warm-up and while milling about, saw locals Carol and James Rose and NRA runners Dave Tetreault and Peter Barbera, but we also saw an overabundance of people wearing turkey hats and guys with shorts over their tights.
One of the many turkey-hats worn during the race.
I get this one; it's Thanksgiving Day after all.

 Dorks in shorts over tights were in abundance
at this race. 
RW opinion: No way! Are you kidding?

Mile 1:  Lined up about two rows back in a field that was 900+ deep.  A guy in a pilgrim suit made some brief remarks about something, then he tried but failed to use an airhorn to start the race.  The runners surged ahead anyway and the race was off.  Runners were pulling ahead but I tried to keep it conservative.  5:52
Temps in mid-30s.  Opted for short shorts, singlet, and thin gloves.
Pic by Jana.

Crossing the start line mat.  Only time I would be close to Matthew.
Courtesy Spitler FB page.

Mile 2:  Beautiful run along the water.  I was starting to retake a few of the runners that passed me in the first mile, including college student James Rose.  6:05
Course map:  mostly an out-and-back along the coast

Mile 3:  The mile starts with a 25 foot downhill to run near the ocean out to Sachuest Beach and a turnaround.  I picked it up a bit downhill and that carried me for a while on the flat section, but I was starting to worry about the purported big hill at mile 3.5.  On Sachuest Point Road now, I could see the three leaders coming back now in a pack, with Matthew in 4th being chased by Keven O'Neill and another BAA runner.  After the turn-around, I passed about three more runners in this stretch.  5:59

Mile 4:  The Hill.  We had about another 1/2 mile of flat, and then it began.  90' climb over 1/2 mile.  I was fearful of being overtaken by the guys I had just passed, but I was pleasantly surprised that I held my own here.  In retrospect, I think I psyched myself out here, and found the hill to be more long than steep.  6:26

Mile 5:  Downhill for 1/2 mile, then flat to the finish.  Downhill running is my forte, and I passed at least five runners on the descent.  Tried to use the momentum to carry me to the finish.  When I saw the clock ticking away high 29:40s, I knew that sub-30 was not a possibility, but I hadn't really even considered either.  Final mile:  5:39
Headed for the finish line.
Pic by Jana

Race over

Final results:  30:08.  16th place out of 926.  2nd in age group.  Full results here.
With my age group winnings:
A pumpkin pie and a blanket

I run competitively, but it's mostly about the fun of the race.  Having said that, I was bummed that I missed sub-30 by 8 seconds and went into the usual thought of where I could have made up the 8 seconds.  That became a fleeting thought as I was quite happy with my race overall, and had a good time.  This was my 3rd fastest 5-miler ever, and it had a significant hill in the course.  Matthew ripped a new PR of 26:41.  Had time to take a shower in the nice facilities of the Newport County Y before our awards, and still had plenty of time to get home and make Thanksgiving dinner in Narragansett in time.  Good, fun race.  Exceeded my expectations.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Weekly Log 21-Nov to 27-Nov-2016: Harry Chapin and the Pie

Thanksgiving week brought a few midweek twists from the usual:

Monday: 8
Started off the week the way I have for at least the past five years the morning after Rhody:  a sunrise run and final policing of the course.  As has been the norm since Mandy and Tammy have been the sweepers, the course is left nearly spotless.  Picked up only two flags and two pink directional arrows.  I thought we were no longer using the latter?

Tuesday:  0
Swapped Monday for Tuesday as my rest day.  Headed up to TF Green Airport at Noon to pick up Mark, returning for the first time from college since August.  Good thing we went out to lunch and caught up, because once we got home, he was home for all of 10 minutes before heading out with his friends 'til 3AM.  Reminds me of the Harry Chapin verse from "Cat's in the Cradle":

Well, he came from college just the other day
So much like a man, I just had to say
"Son, I'm proud of you. Can you sit for a while?"
He shook his head, and he said with a smile
"What I'd really like, dad, is to borrow the car keys
See you later; can I have them please?"

Wednesday:  5
Road run on the Clamdigger course.  Out and back from the old Westerly Town Beach.  Easy pace; figured I'd get in a road run prior to tomorrow's run.

Thursday:  8
Thanksgiving Day.  Pie Run.  Write-up coming shortly.
Second day in a row of running roads.  This was the first time in 11 weeks, since late summer, that I had run roads more than once in a week.  Actually really enjoyable.  More to follow.

Friday:  8
Rainy run in Carolina North with Matthew and Aaron.  Really enjoyed the single-track trails Laurel Trail and Pony Express, but the downside is I didn't realize we were running in circles.  Tried to emulate a run we found from Chris Garvin, but ran into a chain across the trail trying to get out to 112, and turned around.  Whatever the name of the trail headed east across the stream starting from the gravel road (Meadowbrook Road) near the intersection of Jerue Trail, that one was fun as well.  Should learn these trails better.
Was surprised to see two hunters with guns out in the rain. They didn't seem friendly at all.

Saturday:  13
Tillinghast and Wickaboxet group run of 6.  Now this one was a lot of fun.  Very rural West Greenwich.  Jonny led this group run starting out heading into Wickaboxet with some serious climbs.  A mix of hills, fields, pine forests, and twisty single-track.  We hit most of the trails, except some red trails to the south off Plain Meeting House Road that we'll come back for another time.
Bonus:  Jonathan Short got in his longest run ever (13 miles).

Sunday:  6
Rocky Neck State Park, East Lyme, CT.  Trail run with Matthew through meadows, rocks, and along the beach.  One of the final trails we ran was a twisty fun single-track through gnarly mountain laurel.  Ran at sunrise, as needed to get back home to bring Mark to the airport.

Weekly Mileage:  49

Weekly Synopsis:  Really good post-Rhody running week.  Had four days off for a long Thanksgiving weekend and each of the four days involved running new trails or roads.  While it was depressing Sunday evening that the long weekend was over and it's back to work, the next three weeks are interspersed with holiday events, Mark will be home again in just two weeks, and I have the last two weeks of the year off.  A lot to look forward to.  One race remains for 2016, and the rest should be fun runs and long runs.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Li'l Rhody 2016

Charlestown, RI
Sunday, November 20, 2016

This was the silver 25th anniversary of the Li'l Rhody Runaround 8-Mile Trail Race.  Personally, I have "only" run the last 13 of the 25 years.  This was my first ever trail race, and indeed for many years the only trail run of any kind that I would run. I am honored at this point to be an officer of the fine club that puts on this race, and to serve as Race Director.  Onto the race ...

The temperature was only in the mid-30s as I departed the house at 7:45 to get setup, and while it warmed all the way up to 47 degrees by race time, there was a brisk wind across the pond right into the registration area that just kept it feeling quite cold.  My warm-up consisted of shuffling around from registration to the SNERRO van, moving parking marshals from the lower DEM lot to the upper YMCA lot, etc.  Before I knew it, it was time to give a 2-minute overview to the crowd and line up.
Start of the 2016 race

Front half:  Ran out in a conservative 5:58 first mile, following behind Jonny and Tom.  By the time we got into the campground, I could no longer see Tom anymore.  A tall guy went by me and then also went by Jonny, and surprisingly I caught up to and passed Jonny on the final asphalt stretch of the campground before re-entering the woods.  I guess he was not having a great day.  Maybe still feeling the effects of his marathon?  The tall guy was pulling away from us, and I could hear Jonny behind me.
Making our way out to the covered bridge, I sensed my left shoe was really loose.  So much so that I wanted to stop and tie it.  No time for that.  Soldiered on, but it was bothering me.  Unfortunately, after the right turn right near Klondike, I noticed my shoelace was now completely untied and annoyingly hitting my other leg when I ran.  Damn.  This was a first for me.  Why didn't I check and tighten them pre-race?  Now I had to stop.  I lost a good 20 seconds, and Jonny re-passed me.  I resumed running with one tight shoe and one looser shoe.  Let's hope it holds.  Followed pretty closely behind Jonny all the way out to Buckeye Brook Road.

Through one of the few technical sections on the back half.
Pics by Scott Mason

Back half:  No change in position for the rest of the race.  Jonny gradually pulled away, but I could still see him on longer stretches for the rest of the race.  At switchbacks, I glanced back but never saw anyone.  It would actually help to have someone behind push me.  Scott Mason was at one of the rock gardens snapping pics.  I slid a little on wet rocks, but nothing major.  Coming out of the trail section, I felt my watch vibrate at a mile split and looked down to see I was running 5:02 pace?  Yeah, right! OK, maybe not that fast, but I did feel I was running fast.  Now I could see Tom again, as he wasn't that far ahead of Jonny.  My watch beeped "GPS signal lost".  Dang.  Pushed it home, knowing I was not having a PR, but was surprised and disappointed to finish in 51:07.
Finishing up.  Pic by Jana.

Final results:  51:07, 9th overall, 1st in age group.  Full results here.
The numbers were down a bit this year, but we still had a great WTAC showing and a good day on the trails.  Congrats to all the WTAC runners and volunteers, from Matthew and teammates at pre-reg, Jana and Beth handing out shirts, Joe on post-reg, Polly making hot vegetable soup, Jeff Vuono, Tommy, and Schane as parking marshals, Mike B bringing wood, Chris behind the scenes with Fall Race Series scoring, and I'm sure I'm inadvertently leaving a few out.


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Weekly Log 14-Nov to 20-Nov-2016: Rhody Week

Final week before the 25th edition of the L'il Rhody Runaround 8-Mile trail race.  Enjoying fall running, and looking forward to my 13th straight Rhody.

Monday:  0

Tuesday:  8
Ran Rhody course at sunrise.  Trails are leaf-covered, but they are compacted and otherwise clear. 

Wednesday:  6
Morning trail run at Noanet Woodlands, Dover, MA.  Unlike yesterday's dry trail run, with a lot of rain in the past 24 hours, today's trails were pretty slippery.  On the trail ascending and descending Noanet Peak, I was slipping frequently on wet rocks and leaves and had to exercise more caution.

Thursday:  0
Poor planning on my part.  The day escaped from me.

Friday:  5
My initial temptation was to run a double today to make up for yesterday's miss, but that probably wouldn't be smart so close to an 8-mile trail race.  Besides, as it turns out, I barely got in a single race.  Left the office close to 4:30pm, which means I'm already battling the last vestiges of sundown.  Ran from Bradford Preserve.  Dark in the deep woods, especially on Hansel & Gretel, and obviously getting darker by the minute.  Came back to Bradford Preserve, and started another loop, but after tripping on a single-track trail where I could not see the ground at all anymore, decided to exit onto a road to return to the preserve and finish on the field.  Finally, a smart move.

Saturday:  5
Midday solo from Wahaneeta out and around the pond in Woody Hill Marsh.    Deliberately easy pace in advance of tomorrow's race.  Humans encountered:  0.

Sunday:  9
Li'l Rhody Runaround.  Write-up to follow.

Weekly mileage total:  33

Weekly synopsis:  Disappointed with low mileage, and two days off.  With darkness coming earlier and earlier, late afternoon runs are getting harder to do.


Saturday, November 19, 2016

Avondale 5K

Westerly, RI
Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Avondale 5K, also known as the Westerly Land Trust 5K, but officially known as Setting the Pace for Conservation 5K. Yeah, long name.  Hence the fact that many runners generally call it either of the former.

Anyhow, it had been over a month since my last race.  After a summer of too many hot races run and not enjoyed, it was good to take time off from racing and enjoy group runs instead. 

The night before the race, I went to a local Mexican restaurant with Jana, and ate way too much.  (They put it on my plate, and I paid for it, therefore I had to eat it all, right?)  Someday I'll learn portion control, but this wasn't the night.  Rolled into the house feeling overstuffed and worried I'd already killed my race.

This is how I felt the night before the race,
after gorging non-stop on delicious but very filling Mexican food.
At the start of the race the next morning, Sam, one of Matthew's XC teammates asked what I expected to run.  How to answer?  This was the course just a year ago where I set my 17:32 PR, but that's when I had already had three sub-18 races last year and a number of 18:0x races.  This year my fastest 5K time was 18:23 and my food obsession from last night is not helping me.  I told him I'd love to get near 18-flat, but my best guess was 18:15.  He told me he would try to stay with me as long as he could.  Great, I welcomed the company.

And we're off.  I'm in the green singlet about 5th place.
(Photo by Jana)
Mile 1:  Very quickly Tom and Jonny Eckel settled in running together at the lead, and Sam and I a short a distance behind.  Uneventful first mile.  5:44

Coming through the end of the preserve loop with Sam, at the 1K mark.
Mile 2:  Turning off Watch Hill Road and onto Avondale Road, I could no longer hear Sam breathing, and figured he was dropping off.  Darn.  I didn't really care if he beat me, but I was rather hoping that he would push me or we could work off each other, as Tom and I did last year.  It wasn't in the cards.  At the turnaround loop at the end of Champlin, I could see Tom had now put quite a gap on Jonny and that Sam was dropping further back.  Running as an island is the prime condition for me really slowing the pace down, but I somehow came through the second mile in another sub-6 split of 5:54.
At the Champlin turnaround, nearing 2-mile mark.
Note the beautiful blue sky on another perfect fall day.
By myself for the first time this race.
(Photo courtesy of Seth)

Mile 3:  Just hang on now.  As I made the final turn off Avondale Road to come back into Avondale Preserve, I could see Tom way out ahead, but noticed Jonny actually came back to me.  While not in reach, it was the impetus I needed to pick up the pace.  Passed the 3-mile marker and started sprinting.  When the clock came into focus, I could see it ticking at 17:51.  It is always so deceiving.  Crossed the line as it said 18:00, which in a SNERRO race means my official time was 18:02.  (3rd mile was 5:47)
The old man trying to sprint in under 18, but it won't quite happen.

3rd place.  1st in age group.  Official results here.  Congrats to Tom on the overall win and sub-17 finish.  I had to tell myself to stop fidgeting over the fact that I should have been able to make up 3 seconds somewhere on the course, and focus instead on that I had run faster and more consistently than I had expected, it was my fastest 5K time this year, and that every split was sub-6.  OK, now I feel better!  Had a nice cool-down with Tom and several high school runners before awards ceremony.  Keeping with the Land Trust conservation theme, I got another winterberry bush, and last year's is still alive in my backyard, so hopefully that bodes well.  Very happy to support the Land Trust.  It's a great organization, on whose trails I run frequently.
Age group award, and this year's giveaway.

Onto Li'l Rhody ...


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Weekly Log 7-Nov to 13-Nov-2016

Monday:  6
Barn Island single-track with Matthew at lunch (no school day for him).  Love the single-track there.  I will often try to push it harder on the few uphills and downhills in the Barn.  We spooked a horse along the way, and ended up walking 'til we got past him (her?).  That was a new one.

Tuesday:  0
Lower abdominal pain to the point where it was painful walking around the office.  No running today.  Scary.  Started my internet self-diagnosing.  Putting in my symptoms and location of pain, it looks like I have an ectopic pregnancy.  I figured it out on the internet, so it has to be correct!  What a dolt.

Wednesday:  6
Abdominal pain subsided.  Woke up shocked to learn the results of our presidential election.  Truth is I didn't like any of our front-runner candidates, but I just wanted to digest this and move on.  Headed to Woody Hill and ran intentionally slow, taking in not only the presidential results, but many topics.  Never saw a soul, and today I truly enjoyed the solitude.  Stopped at the ledge on the white trail at Wahaneeta, and just looked over the edge watching the peaceful leaves fall.  Running is truly cathartic.

Thursday:  6
Got in a run at Burlingame ahead of our monthly WTAC board meeting.  Had originally intended to run the Rhody course, but time and a setting sun were not in my favor.  Parked on King's Factory Road, and ran Sammy C's.  Hadn't run that in a while, and was pleasantly surprised by the amount of rock on the trail.  It was a lot of fun. 

Friday:  8
Happy Veterans' Day!  My father was a US Army veteran.  Indeed, that's how he met my mother in post-WWII Germany.  I took a Coast Guard entrance exam when I was between jobs in my mid-20s and not sure what I wanted to do in my life, but that's as close to the service as I ever got.
Thanks to all the veterans that served our country.

Anyhow, thanks to Jonathan Short for putting together today's run.  Ran with Jonathan, Tom, and Jonny in the Hillsdale section of Richmond.  Mostly fire roads.  I felt bad for taking one of our host's Strava segments, but Jonny started running it hard and I followed.  Jonny slowed at one point on the climb, and I pathetically took advantage of his post-marathon state and went past.  These group trail runs of late are a lot of fun.
Ran my 2,000th mile of the year today.
Against a goal of 2,315, with about 6 weeks remaining, that
might be a tall order.

Saturday:  9
Fourth consecutive and final weekend at Ponaganset XC course.  As there was no Westerly bus for the three WHS runners (Matthew, Randi, and Kata) that qualified for New Englands, we had to get Matthew there two hours before the race start.  I reached out to a couple of the LaSalle parents to see if they were running, and fortunately they were.  Ran many laps of the XC course with Fred Campagna, Dave Principe, Bob and Jackie Jackman, Bob Corsi, and several others.  The first couple of laps were fine, but after that, I was searching high and wide for some single-track to get off the manicured course.  Did manage to find one single-track trail that we ran, but it was pretty short.  Good to run with the guys nonetheless.

Sunday:  6
Avondale 5K.  Separate brief write-up to follow.

Weekly mileage:  41

Weekly synopsis:  Another good week of running.  Two group runs, a race for the first time in five weeks (quite a stretch for me), and enjoyable fall weather.  Rhody is up next week.  Excited and nervous at the same time.