Monday, December 26, 2011

Weekly Log 26-Dec-11 to 1-Jan-12

Monday:  9 miles
Ran my favorite 8-mile Misquamicut loop around the salt pond, and tacked on a little extra.  2.5 miles on the beach, the rest on roads.  1st mile 8:08?! - what gives?  That's before I even hit the beach.  8:08 is not going to cut it at upcoming Resolution 5K.  Hit the beach slow and shaky.  My banged up knees were grumbling something about how I would feel better if I were lying on the couch instead.  That's it - time for a pick-me-up to try to shake off this post-Christmas torpor.  Picked up the pace considerably for the final mile on the beach - 6:27 pace - that's more like it!  Ran the next two miles slow over the breachway and through Cove Road area before picking it for another mile, this time on the roads at 6:07 for one mile before a slower finish on Shore Road to home.  Overall 7:11 pace.
Afternoon:  family hike up Lantern Hill.  Reached the top right at sunset - beautiful.  My two boys ran most of the way back - who knows, maybe they'll be trail runners someday.

Tuesday:  16 miles
Bridge on trail to Pawcatuck River
Boardwalk in swamp
And now for something completely different:  the Westerly Town Forest.  I've been a town resident for 9 years, and had never been here.  Ran Canal Street from downtown up to the Town Forest; the road just kept climbing.  Except for a family of three, I had the forest to myself.  Most of the trails were dry, but some muddy spots I had to skirt around.  Made my way down to the Pawcatuck River with a 200' drop in elevation.  At the river, I couldn't see anyone or any glimpse of civilization.  Truly felt like I was out in the forest.  Ran back up the trail climbing from the river and meandered through different trails in the forest to run about 3 miles total.  Tired by the time I got back to the parking lot.  Only one problem:  it's a 6 mile run back to home.  Ran an ugly section of Route 3 to stop at Bess Eaton to get a drink and a quick break, before continuing home on neighborhood roads. 

Wednesday:  11 miles
Ran at CMS, my alma mater.  Ran with Jonny, Muddy, and Boj, a new acquaintance and very fast runner.  Warmed up and warmed down on trails, with a track workout in between:  1x1600 (5:37), 2x800 (2:48, 2:42), 4x400 (75, 76, 76, 74).  Workout felt hard.  Probably wouldn't have been able to do this and get these times without running partners pushing each other.

Thursday:  10 miles
Cold run in Avondale and Watch Hill.  First time this season not running in shorts (running tights).  Ran short trail through fields in Avondale Farm Preserve, where the sun finally warmed me up.  Ran down to the Watch Hill Lighthouse.  Paused to take in the great tri-state view of Fisher's Island, NY, Stonington, CT, and Napatree Point, RI, but the 24o weather and 18 mph wind in my face soon chilled me again, so I tarried not and continued the run.  Jumped onto East Beach, and ran 2 miles of beach back to Misquamicut.  This is the most I've ever run in 4 consecutive days, and my calves and hamstrings are starting to feel it, so tomorrow will be either a 0 mileage day or at least sharply reduced.

Friday:  0
Legs sore after heavy mileage plus skating last night at new Westerly rink.  Took a day off from running; hiked in Champlin Glacier Park with family and visiting relatives instead.

Saturday:  9 miles
Cell phone woke me up.  Looked over and saw it's 5:30AM; maybe my running partners calling me for a 6AM run?  That would be the only thing I'd be happy to get out of bed for after a late night of hosting a holiday party for my extended family.  No such luck - recognized the call as coming from India.  What a way to ruin my sleep and the rest of my morning on a Saturday during my vacation ...
Fast forward to the afternoon.  The cobwebs have cleared, the sun has come out, it's 51 degrees.  A nice steady run on the Weekapaug/Misquamicut loop.  2 1/2 miles on sand; the rest on roads.  Good final run of the old year.

Sunday:  11 miles
Bluff Point State Park w/Muddy.  Started on the trails that comprise the Groton Summer Fun Run series that I ran once this summer, then meandered along the coastline before following a short trail along trail tracks that led to another cove and some fantastic trails through the woods leading us back.  Beautiful clear day for a great 1st run of the new year.

Total weekly mileage:  66 miles!
This is a new PR of sorts, in that it is the most miles I have ever run in a week by far (previously 55 during marathon peak training).  Starting the new year right, I've added a YTD mileage tracker to this blog complemented by a resolution to run 2,000 miles in 2012.  We'll see how that goes throughout the year.  Also signed up for my first two races of the new year (see new 2012 events tab), and am contemplating a spring and fall marathon.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Weekly Log 19-Dec-11 to 25-Dec-11

Monday:  0 (planned rest day)

Tuesday:  10 miles
Very windy this morning, so I stayed away from the ocean.  Ran out Shore Road to Weekapaug.  The farm on Noyes Neck was particularly fragrant running downwind from the cows.  Ran quiet back roads of Weekapaug and then wound my way through neighborhoods of Dunns Corners before returning Links Passage.  Was tempted to run onto the trails at Champlin Glacier Park, but my legs begged me for mercy as they're still sore from Sunday's WTAC romp at Old Mountain Field Trail Race.

Wednesday:  0
Legs still a little sore; took a rest.

Thursday:  6 miles
Christmas lights on beach
First day of winter:  ran in shorts and short sleeve shirt in 53o weather!  Ran Atlantic Ave in Misquamicut in nighttime darkness.  Jumped onto the beach via a rightaway.  It was mostly running in pitch blackness, as most houses here are vacant this time of year.  Was surprised to stumble onto this Christmas display of lights and reindeer (left) as it was ocean side, meaning no one would see it unless they were on the beach at night as I was.  Continued running along the beach, but stumbled over driftwood and ruts that I couldn't see.  Left the beach at Westerly Town Beach to continue running on deserted Atlantic Avenue.

Friday:  7 miles
Ran local roads and into Champlin Glacier Park on trails to prep for tomorrow's group run.  If you're reading this, don't tell my group run partners, as the word is that I don't really run trails (I didn't actually until a couple of months ago, and still mostly roads, but I digress...).  I was running along the green trail when I heard "Hey Jeff" and I looked up to see fellow Misquamicut runner Gianni Ficarra running the trail towards me.  He won his age group at a rainy Run 4 Kerri this August; I had placed 3rd in my age group.  It was the first time I had seen another runner in this park in my nascent experience running here.  I should have been carrying a WTAC membership application and Resolution 5K race application to hand to him!

Saturday:  17 miles
'Twas the morning before Christmas, when all through Westerly,
Not a creature was stirring, expect for runners in a pack of three,
Hats and gloves and long sleeve garb was worn,
In hopes that warmth would be theirs on this cold Christmas Eve morn,
They had no sooner started on their two hour jaunt of fun,
When what to their wondering eyes would appear, but another soul out for a run,
More rapid than eagles the three runners overtook the runner with zeal,
As he was passed the lone runner was impressed by their speed and called them for real:
"On Muddy!  On Bloody!  On Jonny!"  To the top of Chin Hill!  To the top of Ice Pond, y'all!
Now dash away, dash away, dash away all!
So past the hills and onto Misquamicut Beach the runners they flew,
With a lightning fast pace and a recent WTAC win too.
The rising sun shone on the frozen white beach,
And gave a lustre of mid-day to objects within reach.
The runners continued through a light ocean breeze,
When a detour with rope brought Jeff to his knees,
Much like last week's trail run with splattering mud,
The runner's legs again were covered in blood.
Winding through Weekapaug and Dunn's Corners the trio did run,
When next the trails of Champlin Glacier Park awaited them with fun.
Running two miles of trails added to the good mood,
While all Muddy could think of was food.
Over many roots and rocks our trail it did flirt,
When a small branch brought Jonny down to the dirt.
Seventeen miles of hills, beach, and trails made the day right,
And now Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!
(With apologies to Clement C. Moore)

Sunday: 0 miles
Christmas Day!  Santa brought new running shoes, shorts, and a bright yellow long sleeve technical shirt for those early dark runs.
Weekly totals:  40 miles

Friday, December 16, 2011

Weekly Log 12-Dec-11 to 18-Dec-11

Monday:  rest day

Tuesday:  6 miles
Local roads at dusk.  Great to run past so many lit up Christmas displays.

Wednesday:  3 miles
4AM.  Exhausted.  Not into it this morning.

Thursday:  0

Friday:  13 miles
Another stressful work week comes to an end!  The antidote:  running along the ocean.  Checked the wind direction going out, as the wind was strong (25 mph) and can make for a tough headwind.  Ran onto the beach at Misquamicut, and then 4 miles on the beach east to Weekapaug.  Did not see a soul.  Climbed up on the rocks at the breachway, and stopped to take in the majesty of the ocean, with views of Block Island and Fishers Island, NY.  Hope I'm always so lucky to live within short running distance of the ocean, and hope I never take it for granted.  Crossed the bridge (the Weekapaug bridge is OPEN after a 3 month closure!!) and ran along the shore roads in Weekapaug, before leaving via Noyes Neck Road.  Made up my own route going back, as I ran Matarese Hill, South Hill, a short section of Route 1 and then back roads until ending on trails in Champlin Glacier Park.

Saturday:  9 miles
Weekly long run with Muddy and Jonny.  Jonny's choice.  Chilly 31o start.  Ran quiet roads from Burlingame including Kings Factory, Buckeye Brook, and Klondike, before finishing on trails.  Good run, conversation, and company in our pre-run before our first WTAC team run tomorrow at Old Mountain Field 5K Trail Run.

Sunday:  7 miles
Old Mountain 5K Trail Race.  Writing this one day after the event, I am still on Cloud 9!  I had a really good run (more below), but am ecstatic over the debut entry and overall win for the new Team WTAC!  Several of us had been talking about team entries for a while, talked it up, and e-mailed around, and this was the first race that we officially entered as a WTAC team.
Race details:  a FRIGID 25o start awaited us, which is always cold for standing around waiting to run a race in shorts, but especially so when we have yet to acclimate given so many days in the 50s over past few weeks.  I really had no idea what to expect in this race.  When the gun went off, Jonny rocketed out in a feverish sprint to hold the lead to gain a front position when leaving the open ground to go into singletrack.  I'm not sure how much energy this sapped from him, but I understand the strategy so as not to get stuck behind slower runners on the trail.  I followed behind him, but not as close.  I tried to count, and estimate I was 12th going into the singletrack in the woods. 
At about 1/2 mile in, I caught up just behind Jonny in an uphill stretch that seemed like a death march with runners really bottlenecking.  Jonny passed uphill!  I caught up just behind him on the next downhill stretch, and over the next half-mile followed right behind him as he passed 2-3 other runners, often running in the scrub brush on the sides of the trail.  Somewhere after the first mile, the pack stretched out, the trail straightened out, and feeling the energy I had, I passed Jonny and kept going.  I never looked back, but kept expecting him to pass me again.  Following two runners in front of me, I forded a small river that was too broad to leap entirely and landed in deep mud and felt the frigid river water pouring into my running shoes.  On the other bank of the river sheer briars chest-high awaited me.  Seeing no alternative, I tore through them, or I should say, they tore through me!  After the race I was told there was a way just to the right to avoid the river and briars.
The rest of the race led us through fields with tall grass, then on mowed grass around athletic fields, and trails in the woods including crossing rocks and steep drops down stone steps.  For a guy whose only trail race ever had been Li'l Rhody, this was like extreme trail racing to me (and extreme fun!), albeit the river fording and briar patches could have been somewhat avoided.  I reached a muddy trail intersection, where you needed to turn sharply (more than 90-degrees).  I slid through the turn, and my feet came right out from under me and I went down.  This would've been a great slide to a finish line, except that I still had 1/2 mile to go.    

Blood and mud at trail race
There was a runner (Glen) right on my back and I glimpsed Muddy not far behind him.  Glen passed me on my final sprint to the finish, and Muddy finished just 3 seconds after me.  I was shocked to learn that I was 4th overall!  Muddy was 5th and Jonathan 7th; full results at link above.  Other WTAC runners John, Elise, and Carol Ann all had a good run.

I figure I lost time in 3 places:  bottleneck uphill climb, stream and briar patch crossing, and mud slide.  No matter.  WTAC team took 1st place!  The 3 of us guys each got a 6-pack, and then I got a subscription to Trail Runner for winning my age group, as did Muddy.  The Race Director also announced jokingly that I won the award for "Most Blood" (see photo at left), but I declined to take a 3rd prize at risk of being "piggy".  I caught a pair of gloves tossed out as prizes, but again felt gluttonous with my winning and gave them to a young girl who also tried to catch them.  Just a fantastic day for the team all around!  Can't wait to see the team standings posted, and look forward to the next trail series run.  Who knows; maybe I'll be trail runner convert someday. :)

Weekly mileage total:  38 miles

Friday, December 9, 2011

Weekly Log 5-Dec-11 to 11-Dec-11

Monday:  Planned rest day

Tuesday:  14 miles
After a long day working in the concrete jungle of Beantown, this fun escapade was just what the doctor ordered.  Ran Atlantic Ave from Misquamicut to Weekapaug.  Mile 2 @ 5:54, Mile 4 @ 5:58, other miles slow.  I won't be able to sustain that pace for 10K on Sunday, but it was good to push it in bursts.  At the Weekapaug breachway bridge, paused and paid the workers a compliment on how the bridge was coming along.  Amazing what a compliment does; they thanked me for it and started chatting on the various work they've done and explained how it's slated to open next week - great news after almost 3 months of closure!
The run continued onto the beach:  4.9 miles from Weekapaug all the way to Watch Hill.  The tide was lower than running with Muddy & Jonny a few weeks back, so I could stay close to the waterline the whole way.  Miscued a wave coming close to me halfway into run, and my efforts to outrun it were futile as the wave swept over both my legs.  Considered quitting and turning around, but the weather was so warm in upper 50s and I was having so much fun I continued.  As I left the beach at Watch Hill for 4 miles of roads back to home, the rain that had started felt good in this unreal warm weather.

Wednesday:  goose egg
The alarm clock kept calling, but the warm and comfortable bed won over running this morning. L

Thursday:  double goose egg
Pounding rain and gale force winds at 4:30AM.  Not today.  Normally two days of back to back not running could set me into a depressing funk, but I'm still riding high energy over two back-to-back 50+ mile weeks, and should be backing off a little for Sunday's 10K anyway.

Friday:  5 miles
Easy run in the dark.

Saturday:  5 miles
Mixed roads and trails on a more seasonable run in the upper 30s.

Sunday:  9 miles
Christmas 10K Finish
Christmas 10K in Newport.  Clear, sunny day in mid-30s.  I lined up with my son about 10-15 rows back from the starting line.  We had a quick chat, wished each other luck, and the gun went off.  Between ice covering the road 1/4 mile in, and 100+ people in front of me, I was very surprised to see my first mile split was 6:03.  Not having run many 10Ks, I didn't know what pace to expect, but felt this was much too fast for me and backed off to a more comfortable 6:15 pace.  Miles 2 through 5 were along the ocean and absolutely beautiful.  Last year there was frigid seawater spraying up over us and a wicked headwind, but this year was enjoyable.  I passed someone at Mile 3, who saw my shirt (left) and struck up a conversation with me on Surftown Half, which is run on my home turf.  Finished in 38:29, good for 17th place, and 2 1/2 minutes off my PR!
Mile splits:  6:03, 6:15, 6:14, 6:15, 6:19, 6:21, 6:06 - 0.2 portion
Went immediately back onto the course to find my son, who out of 500 participants, was the youngest at age 12, and finished admirably.  Caught up with fellow runners Muddy and Jonny, who finished 6th and 10th overall.

Weekly mileage total:  33 miles
It's neat that 33 miles was actually a low mileage week, with the two weeks being 50+ miles.  Last race of the year coming up Sunday at Old Mountain Field, Wakefield.