Sunday, September 25, 2016

Weekly Log 19-Sep to 25-Sep-2016: Beach Race!

Amusing anecdote of the week:  Post-run one day at lunch this week, I went to the Westerly Y to shower and change.  I had noticed a blowdryer there before, but never used it, because well I have no hair.  But silly me; apparently hairdryers aren't just for drying hair anymore.

I had to do a double-take at the man blowdrying his ... are my eyes tricking me ... yeah, that guy is really blow-drying his manhood.  After he got everything taken care of there, he spread his toes apart and was blow-drying between his toes.  No other areas, just those two.  Moving on ...

Monday:  0

Tuesday:  11
AM:  6 miles solo on Burlingame trail.  NST from the campground entrance, part of the Brrr-lingame course and then out to Duhamel into Kettle Pond trails and back.  Fun.
PM:  5 miles on new XC course, just to check if any branches came down.  Good thing I checked before Thursday's meet, as three decent size trees came down together completely closing off the trail.

Wednesday:  6
Noon:  2 miles running with chainsaw taking out a major obstruction on the WHS XC course, and two small obstructions on the Pumpkins course.

Evening:  4 miles total barefoot on the beach.  Charlie Stavros Memorial On the Beach Run.  Just a really fun time, as always each year.  This race honors Charlie Stavros, who died tragically during a road race in Westerly in the early 1990s.

Although I never knew Charlie, I've gotten to know his mother, Jeanne, over the past few years planning for this event.  She is really really nice, is focused on doing the right things for this race and the running community, and is a pleasure to work with.  This year she and her husband John brought ten pizzas for the post-race festivities.
The 2016 beach race is off!
Runners on their way to Weekapaug
This year's race was originally scheduled for September 6, but was postponed as we were in the throes of Tropical Storm Hermine at the time.  Good thing, as with the rescheduled date we had near-perfect weather:  clear skies, no wind, and flat beach at near low tide.

The race went off as I had expected:  a few high school runners surged out with their surge to soon fade.  After the dust settled (after the sand settled?), Tom and Matthew went by me.  I thought my 3rd place position was locked in, but not so fast.  I sensed someone right behind me, and had no idea who it was.  I thought it might be a high school runner, but when the person hung with me all the way to Weekapaug, knowing most of the runners, I just couldn't imagine any of them except Matthew matching my pace.

Coming into the cone turnaround at the breachway, at last I'll see who this is.  No, he or she just hung right with me.  I was fearful of this person just sitting on me the whole way and sprinting past me just before the chute.  With about 1/2 mile to go, he went past me and I saw him for the first time.  He looked familiar, despite his Northampton (MA) singlet, and although he was in front of me now, he didn't open up much of a gap.  Down to a 1/4 mile and with the finish in sight, I picked it up to try to catch up to him.  There wasn't much of a fight as I passed him, and I heard him exclaim something to the effect of "there is the kick I was waiting for".  I sprinted as best I could to the finish line, and held him off by 3 seconds.

Time to make my move.

Not taking my lead for granted.

Immediately post-race Eric came up and congratulated me, said he remembered me from past beach races, and said he was fearful that I would outkick him at the end.  Interesting, and fun finish.  I jumped in the ocean, and despite getting stung by a few small jellyfish, really enjoyed the refreshing dip.  Congrats to Matthew and Tommy on their respective first and second place finishes.  Very fun way to end the last day of summer 2016.

Final results:  17:46, 5:55 average pace.  3rd overall.  Sub-6 on the beach; I'm happy!
Really cool sunset at the beach.
(All pics by Jana.)

Thursday:  5
Finally, the first home cross-country meet!  The girls team helped me mark the lower field part of course, and then Jeff Huckle helped greatly with marking the woods part of trail.  I was asked to give a course preview to the Chariho and Middletown teams.  Talked most of the time while running with Chariho top runner Kyle Keefe, who really liked the new challenging course.  Nice guy.  Making my alma mater proud.

Matthew ripped a debut course record of 16:55 on a less than fast course, and the next runner was about a minute and a half behind.

Friday:  5
Easy run through Wahaneeta and nearby Woody trails.

Saturday:  11
Ocean State XC Invitational - Open Division.  Write-up to follow.

Sunday:  9
First time ever running Patchaug State Forest.  Parked off Route 49 in Voluntown, and then went north on Nehantic Trail, and west on Nehantic-Pachaug.  Despite some steep climbs up and over Mt Misery, the first few miles of trails were very enjoyable.  They were mostly single-track through pine forests. 

Unfortunately we completely missed the turn-off onto Nehantic (the sign was visible only from the opposing direction!) and took the Patchaug Trail out to Route 201/138 intersection.  Oh well, backtracked and found the intersection, but by now we were starting to get tired and I also needed to be mindful that Matthew has a meet tomorrow.

The next section of Nehantic was not nearly as enjoyable, as it was double-track with loose rocks.  We adjusted and shortened our course back.  At first, we were on boring fire roads, but then we had a fun muddy single-track through a swampy section with rhododendrons.  Actually picked up the pace in the last mile back through the pines.  Fun run; would like to explore more here.

Weekly mileage:  48

Weekly synopsis:   While just missing the 50 mark, still had significant mileage, with none of it on roads for the second consecutive week.  Many highlights this week, including the beach race, the first ever WHS XC  meet at Bradford Preserve, the XC race with Tom and Mike, and the run in Patchaug State Forest.  Next race will be Pumpkins on October 8.

Surftown Suffering '16

Westerly, RI
Sunday, September 11, 2016

Not my best day.  Here is a brief recap.  I've run Surftown since its inception in 2011.  We had a streak of a few nice cool dry Surftown years, but alas nothing can last forever.  Last year was a bit humid, and this year was a meltdown.  I was fretting about this in the days leading up to the race, and this was the forecast that unfortunately was true:
Overnight low of 72 degrees, and humidity of 95%!  Ugh.

Strategy:  In the days leading up to the inevitable humidity sufferfest, I was Googling various sites offering insight into racing in the heat, racing in humidity, etc.  I had already suffered through a number of races this summer, but this one was a half-marathon.  The best advice I found was "Don't try to beat the heat. Pushing too hard despite the heat is one of the biggest causes of heat-related illnesses. Don't expect to run a predicted race time that might be possible in better conditions. You'll need to adjust your race plan based on the conditions."  OK, back off I got it.  Was targeting to run early miles in 5:55 - 6 flat, but let's drop that back to 6:15 - 6:20.

First Half:  Mile 1 was my best mile in 6:12.  By the end of Mile 1, I was already completely drenched from my own sweat, head to toe.  Between the humidity and the 10mph wind on the way back from Weekapaug, every single one of the next 7 miles would be progressively slower.  Where I was running 5:55 on Atlantic Avenue westbound just two years ago, I was running 6:40s!  Felt awful.  By Mile 8, I had slowed to a crawl at a 7-flat pace.

Drenched, feeling and looking awful.

Second Half:  My miles down to Watch Hill were unenjoyable and hovered right around the 7-flat mark.  Seeing BLS, JV, and JH in Watch Hill was helpful, but I just wanted this to be over.  On the way back from Watch Hill, I got passed by two more guys and was pretty sure one was in my age group.  Do I even care?  Picked it up the final mile for a 6:18 and was so glad to be done with this race.  Promptly went through three bottles of water, and then jumped in the ocean.  Hung around for awards and to catch up with Tommy, Mike, and a few other locals, and was glad to call this a day.

Final results:  1:28:01, 6:43 pace.  8th out of 1,418.  2nd in age group.  My slowest Surftown to date, and more than 7 minutes off my 2014 PR.

So glad to be done with this race
(Photo by Matthew)

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Weekly Log 12-Sep to 18-Sep: 50 Miles of Trails!

Nice to have a week free from racing for a change.

Monday:  0
Especially wanted a day off after Surftown Half.

Tuesday:  11
AM:  5 miles in Champlin.  Despite being "in my backyard", haven't been in here in a while.  Even a year after the preserve reopened after clearing of trees, it seems much too open to me and clear-cut in places.
PM:  6 miles in Grills, before the Westerly side closes at the end of the month.  :(   Ran from the Hopkinton side to Westerly, crossing the river at Polly Coon bridge, and then a loop CCW before returning to Hopkinton.  Hadn't been here in a while either, and really enjoyed the challenging, hilly, technical section from Polly Coon to the bridge re-entering the main trails on Hopkinton side.  I think that's my favorite trail in this combined system.

Wednesday:  9
First time back to the Blue Heron Trail loop in a while.  First mile unpleasant due to summer overgrowth.  The second mile just OK as you're on streets crossing the Charles River into Boston proper.  The rest of the run is mostly single-track and fun.

Two oddities, both women:  Deep in the woods on a single-track trail, I had to pass a woman walking.  Said "On your left" to no avail, as she moved to my left and blocked my way.  Jumped through bushes on her right to go around her, as she was completely absorbed in whatever she was listening to.  Do you really want to be in the woods where you are totally clueless of your surroundings?  Second woman was on a busier section of trail, but in a business suit?  Figured she would at least be in sneakers, but no, she had open toed dress shoes!  On a trail?!

Thursday:  5
Back to the Barn!  Nearly entirely on twisty single-track.  Fun!

Friday:  5
Not sure what possessed me to park and run from Fallon Trail, but I ran the southern part of Woody Hill.  Most of the trails are runnable, but clear exceptions (that I ran anyway of course!) are the single-track down to Robin Hills, and the short section of the Stone Fort Loop just beyond the old nearby well.  Came out really scraped up.

Saturday:  12
Morning:  9 miles of trails in Woody with Jeff H.  He's become my partner in crime for setting up course marking for the WHS XC course, which we did prior to the team practice, then went out on a clockwise loop with visits to the highlights:  the rock cliff northeast of the marsh, the marsh itself (really low waterline), the stone fort, Wahaneeta, etc.  Fun run.  Came back as the team was on their 2nd of 3 timed course loops. 
Evening:  3 miles.  Ran up to the field to mow the trail portion, but also no gas in the mower.

Sunday:  9
A day of firsts, with my first ever visit to the main UConn campus at Storrs, followed up by first ever visit to Natchaug State Forest.  Ran 7 miles out and back on the Natchaug Trail.  Technical, hilly, and fun!  I was ready to be done at 5 miles, but Matthew convinced me to trek on.  Tough and steep hill climbs on the return.
Added two miles in the evening to finally finish mowing the field, before tomorrow's first ever meet on the new course.  Exciting.  Unfortunately, I didn't plan well as I didn't bring a flashlight or headlamp and finished up mowing in the dark.  That wasn't so much the problem as the next mile of single-track through the woods.  Need to start bringing a headlamp if I'm on trails into the evening, as the sun keeps setting earlier (about the only thing I DON'T like about fall).
Cool, historic fireplace from the 1800s,
at the start of our run.
Remains of the birthplace of the birthplace of General Nathaniel Lyon,
the first Union General killed in the Civil War.

Poor quality picture,
but it gives you a sense of how technical
parts of the trail are.

Weekly mileage total:  52

Weekly synopsis:  Really fun week of trail running in seven different trail systems in three different states!  In fact, every single one of my runs this week was a trail run!  Don't know if I've even done that before, but I certainly enjoyed it!
Next week I'll be running the Ocean State XC Invitational open race with Tom.  We race at Goddard first thing Saturday morning, and Matthew will be racing later that morning.


Friday, September 16, 2016

Inaugural Wahaneeta 5K

Wahaneeta Preserve
Westerly, RI
Saturday, September 2, 2016

Race planning:
The newest addition to our WTAC races.  The impetus was to have a Fall Trail Race Series.  Unlike the new Run for the Pumpkins Trail Race, this race exclusively utilized existing trails and was contained to a single property, so the setup and permitting would be easier.  The Wahaneeta Preserve is one of the newest properties of the Westerly Land Trust, of which I'm a proud member and occasional volunteer.  The WLT president is a trail runner herself, and was completely behind our idea for a fall trail run, and by April, we had both WLT and WTAC board approval.

The challenge was to put together a 5K course on a smaller 72-acre property without having multiple loops.  After considering a number of options, I settled on a 1.5 loop course with a different return for the second loop versus first.  This brought me to about 2.8 miles, and tacked on a short out-and-back on the orange trail.  The course has 11 bridge crossings, although by race day all the river beds were bone dry.

Trail maintenance:
Really, the trails were already in good shape.  We had a WTAC trail clean-up the weekend before to spruce things up, and we got a great WTAC member response.  Beth mowed the field start and area in front of the cabin.  Jonny forged a trail loop turn-around on orange trail to avoid a cone turnaround.  Muddy and I played with weedwhackers to clean up a few spots.  Eric used a chainsaw to take out  few blowdowns and stumps.  Ready to go.

Race day:
Again, we had a good WTAC member volunteer response.  Thanks especially to Beth, Crutch, WLT pres Sheilia, Jonathan, Muddy, Jeff Vuono, Mike B, and Tommy 5K (did I miss anyone?) for everything from registration to course marking to parking and course marshals.  It all went swimmingly thanks to a great crew.

Mile 1:
As I gave a few pre-race remarks and was getting a number of questions about different loops and where they ended up, I had this sinking field that many people were going to go off-course and get lost.  I tried my best to answer, and it was race time.  Muddy lead out the small race with Jonathan Short and I right behind him.  There was quick separation at least in the lead pack.  Late in the first mile, I caught up to Muddy right after the technical rock and bridge section, but as we passed Beth for the first time, Muddy opened up a gap again as we started out on the perimeter trail.  Mile 1:  7-flat.
Muddy taking it out at the start,
with Jonathan Short and I behind him.
(All pics by Jana, unless otherwise noted)
Runners passing the cabin in 1st loop.

Prominently displaying the WTAC!
Finishing up loop 1.

Mile 2:
Mile 2 brings you the rest of the perimeter trail along the edges of the property, a fun downhill, and then the blue trail with a few rocks back to the field where the start/finish is.  Leaving the field to start my second loop, I could see Muddy ahead of me, but with quite a gap.  Mile 2:  7:13
Dicey, but fun, bridge-crossing near end of loop 2.

End of second loop.

Mile 3:
Early in this mile we encounter the first of two two-way sections.  When more than one runner going the opposite direction of me asked if they were going the right way, I realized I erred by not mentioning the two-way short sections in my pre-race instructions.  Oops!  Assured them they were running the right way, and trekked on.  This time after going through the technical bridge/rock section at the intersection with Beth, she directed us left for a short return to the start/finish field.  This section has a short but precipitous drop to an awkward bridge crossing.  Back to the field and a short trip out-and-back on orange and we'll be done.  I tried to pick up the pace here, but Muddy was already on his way back as I was headed out.  Mile 3:  7:30.

It must be the fancy footwork on this guy
that got him the win.
(Pic by BLS)

A fun day on the trails.
(Pic by Mike B)
Final results:  21:14.  2nd of 31.  Full results here.

  • New race.
  • Race series.
  • Volunteers were awesome and runners were all upbeat.
  • Remote, contained location.
  • Use of wooden cabin for registration was great.
  • NOBODY got lost!!
  • Low number of entrants.  Keeping it relatively small is fun, but 31 is not sustainable.  Let's hope the numbers pick up a bit in future years.
  • Some runners confused with the two-way sections.  We'll get that fixed with announcements and signs for next year.
All in all, a fun race.  Next up in the series is Run for the Pumpkins on Saturday, October 8!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Rhode Warrior Sprint Tri

Misquamicut, RI
Sunday, August 21, 2016

After two consecutive years of participating in the Rhode Warrior Half Ironman and a disastrous race for me last year, I had no plans to return this year.  I also have not been biking or swimming much at all this summer, but when Kathy added a sprint option coupled with Matthew's enthusiasm for the sprint, I decided to give it a whirl.  I was not disappointed.
Talking it up before the start of the swim.
Relaxed.  Not one iota of nervousness.
What is an iota, anyway?

Swim (1/4 mile):  9:27 (unfortunately finishing places were not given in individual sport events, but no doubt I was toward the back of the 78 finishers)
For reference, the fastest time was 5:53, Matthew's time was 7:54, and other than an outlier at greater than 20 minutes, the slowest time was 15:58.
Heading out to start the swim.  I'm in red cap on far left.

Converging on the 1st buoy.

The usual traffic jam at the buoy.
(Nice close-up by Jana.)

Had initial trouble with this one.  Immediately upon diving through a wave, my goggles came right off my eyes and filled with water.  I stopped twice to fix them, losing valuable time, and finally plodded on best I could.  When I came out of the water, noticed I had also lost my swim cap somewhere during the swim.  Maybe same time as goggles incident?  That was a first for me.
Rejoice!  The swim is done!
Stripping off the wetsuit to get ready for the bike.

T1:  1:31.  Matthew was finishing up in T1 as I was just coming into it.
He's got his helmet and shoes on and near ready to go,
while I'm still barefoot.

Bike (8 miles):  22:35.  Third on bike, just 41 seconds behind leader.  The loop around the pond seemed almost too short.  I caught Matthew just after the Weekapaug Breachway, passed a few cyclists, and after turning onto Shore Road and immediately passing one more, I never saw another cyclist until just before the finish back on Atlantic Ave.  Once on the return on Atlantic Avenue, the race rule is no more aerobars.  Still managed to average just north of 20mph.
Dismounting at end of bike.
Heading into T2.

T2:  1:02.  I thought that was pretty good, until I saw that the overall winner went through T2 in 28 seconds!
Starting the run.  It looks like I'm dodging between vehicles,
but actually these emergency vehicles are stopped in the road to afford protection to
the cyclists and runners.

Run (3.9 miles):  24:26.  Second on run.  Guess who got 1st place?  You only get one guess.
Started out the first mile at a slow 6:52.  It always takes me a little while to get the gumby-esque legs to get rolling after a ride, but it shouldn't be that slow.  Passed a guy about a mile in that looked like the run was painful to him.  Saw the lead runner, a young guy on the UConn Tri Team, on his way back with no one anywhere near him.  Coming into Weekapaug I passed one more runner and could see two more just rounding the turnaround on the far side of the bridge.
Just after the turnaround, mile 2 split was 6:44.  Better, but still too slow.  On the return run, I caught up to and passed both runners right around Breach Drive (just past Seaside).  As I passed the second runner I could now see Matthew on the opposite side of the road heading towards the Weekapaug Breachway turn-around.  I yelled to him to come catch me.  He was moving (which was a good thing to be moving, as this was a race after all).  With Matthew on my heels now, and less than half of the run to go, I finally picked it up.  It's inevitable that he will beat me in tris as well, but I'm not giving in.  Mile 3 split was down to 6:20.  I was expecting Matthew to pass me any second, as I continued to pick it up for the final mile.  Final split 5:57!
Finishing strong!

Final results:  59:01.  2nd overall.  Full results here
Matthew finished a mere 27 seconds behind me, and since his run time trounced mine by over three minutes (you didn't really guess the run winner to be anyone but Matthew, did you?), it looks like I had only about 1/2 mile of runway left before he overtook me.  Congrats to Tom, who also had a podium finish in his Olympic race.  We had just arrived from Florida about Midnight the night before after driving most of the day, so I had zero expectations on both my race performance and fun factor.  Turned out both went quite well!  Like Block Island Tri, the race distance proportions favor runners.
As Tom texted me later that same day,
not too many Dads can say they stood on the winners' podium with their son.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Weekly Log 5-Sep to 11-Sep-2016

Weekly blog posts caught up!  Let's keep it that way.

Monday:  8
Labor Day with FiveK and Matthew.  From Wood River Junction, out roads to Carter Preserve, ran power lines trail, and one loop CW on Grassland Mile.  Freshly cut logs intentionally blocking the trail about 1/2 way out on Grassland Mile.  Hope these will be either cleared up or detoured around; otherwise, no way to challenge the Strava segments in either direction.
Plan was to run NST north to Pine Hill Road and back, but I way underestimated the distance to get out to Carter and back, so we just a mile or so in either direction on NST and turned around.

Tuesday:  6
Carried a sledgehammer across Bradford Preserve field in pouring rain remnants of Tropical Storm Hermine.  Banged in a 3' steel stake demarcating start of WHS XC course, and then hit the trails.  Soaked and fun as I splashed through puddles.

Wednesday:  5
The not so good run in Needham, MA.  Tight calves, tight hamstrings, overgrown trails with brambles, flooded out trails, and bloody nipples.  I thing that about covers it.  What a whiner!

Thursday:  3
Back to Bradford Preserve to get a good GPS baseline to map course, including elevation chart.
Map here

Friday:  10
Multiple visits to Bradford Preserve, including running to/from a final mowing at Noon on upper field, marking the course, leading the WHS XC boys and girls team on their inaugural run on the new course, and then unflagging the course at end.
Most of the runners near me in lead pack expressed that they liked the course, but I heard one girl say "I hate this" while climbing up the initial hill shared with Pumpkins course, and a boy later told the coach he didn't like the course one bit.  The coach said he loved the course, and asked why the boy and girl didn't.  The boy said the trail was uneven and the girls said there were sticks on the trail.  Sticks?  On a trail?  Heaven forbid!  Gathered they don't run trails much.  Can't please everyone!
Thanks much to Jeff Huckle and Schane Tallardy for helping with the marking and signage.

Saturday:  6
Ran from WHS at Matthew's XC practice.  Springbrook loop.  Very hot and humid.

Sunday:  15
Surftown Half in oppressively humid conditions.  Brief separate write-up to follow.

Weekly mileage total:  53

Weekly synopsis:  Highest weekly mileage since running in Iceland in July.  The temps and humidity are finally forecast to drop significantly this coming week.  I have no major races at all on the calendar.  Would like to see a sustained cooler period before committing to any further.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Weekly Log 29-Aug to 4-Sep-2016

Almost caught up on blog posts!  Of course, once I do catch up, it might be easier if I just get back to posting a quick blurb each day or every few days.  Let's see how that works out ...

Monday:  2
Lunchtime mowing of upper field on new WHS XC course.  Field grew up too much during the summer; will have to remember to cut at least 1-2 times mid-summer next year.  1 mile run to field; 1 mile run back.  Hope the WHS runners will appreciate this, but I already figure some will and won't.

Tuesday:  9
AM:  6 miles at 6AM at Duval with Matthew, on his last week of summer vacation from school.  Fun running on the trails, with a rare cool morning of 59 degrees at start at Quaker Cemetery parking lot.  Matthew suggested running this one and I was the one initially hesitant because it means leaving the house by 5:30am to try to get trails in and drive round-trip to SK before I had to get to work, but then when he suggested we leave at 5:15am so we're not rushed, how could I turn down such enthusiasm?
Tallies:  One bloody fall (mine), one nice dog, one scary dog, NO deerflies!

PM:  3 miles back at Bradford Preserve.  Wheel-measured course on my lunch break.

Wednesday:  6
Noanet Woodlands, Dover, MA.  So much better without the deerflies!  The runners and bikers are starting to return now.

Thursday:  0

Friday:  5
Bradford Preserve trails, incorporating both WHS XC course and Run for the Pumpkins 5K course.

Saturday:  5
Inaugural Wahaneeta 5k!  Separate write-up to follow.

Sunday:  16
Longest run in a long time.  A little humid, but not terrible.  Matthew, Mike, and I ran the first 10 miles together on Surftown course, and then Mike and I finished up.  Sore for the rest of the day.

Weekly mileage:  44

Weekly synopsis:  The new WHS XC course is near to completion. The new Wahaneeta 5K was successful from a nobody got lost perspective, if not successful in numbers, and will somebody please tell Mr Summer that it's time for him to move on, along with his heat and humidity?