Thursday, September 27, 2012

Weekly Log 24-Sep to 30-Sep-2012

Monday:  0.  Summer's over; time for a blog refresh.  The tri photos and swim/bike logs are gone 'til next year, and replaced with three photos from running events last fall.  Who can identify the 3 races first?  (The first two are "gifts".)

Tuesday:  Double zero.  Intentionally trying to run few miles mid-week prior to Sunday's monster trail fest.

Wednesday:  7 miles.  The Friday 445 club switched to a Wed edition this week.  Tom led me on virgin roads for me, somewhere off Cove Road, saw the pond so often on turns I was afraid there was going to be a swim portion to his route today.  I'll have to upload the Garmin route to figure it out.  Neat section running on Fenway Beach in the pitch dark.  65 degrees and sprinkling rain.  6:53 pace.
Garmin route of run with Tom in the dark:
now I can see where we actually were!
Thursday:  another zero.  Intentionally taking it light.

Friday:  5 easy morning run.  Exploring in Wahaneeta and lower Woody Hill.  I think I'll try to map this place out with distances and landmarks, as this is still a maze to me.  Mix of dirt, sand, and rock trails.  1/2 mile tarmac, the rest trails.
Today's run and start of my trail mapping
Afternoon:  Stood in the rain for 3 hours watching Ocean State Invitational XC meet.  Fortunately, it was worth it as for his race (7th grade boys), he came in 13th out of 198, 1st for Westerly, with a 6:13 pace.  Results.

Morning:  Watched Mike B run his way to victory in the St. Michael's 5k.  There were a few WTAC singlets out there today!  Other WTAC'ers are off to NH - Muddy running DeMar and I think Josh running Smuttynose - will have to check that out next year.

Afternoon:  4 very easy miles on Tom Harvey loop in drizzling rain. 
Nipmuck in the morning:  Put out tomorrow's run gear, including a complete change of dry clothes, 3 GU packets, energy bar, waist pack/bottle, Gatorade and water.  Ready to go ...

27 miles, including short warm-up.  Nipmuck Trail Marathon.  I survived!  See separate write-up.
Weekly total:  43 miles

Monday, September 24, 2012

OCY Triathlon

Misquamicut, September 23, 2012

Results here.  1:22:42.  26th out of 173, 5th in age division.
The irony is that my time was faster than the 1st place finisher in the next younger (40-44) division, but so be it - work on getting faster next year, and in the meantime enjoy the event and make the best of it. 

Was out with my boys posting "caution - bikes on road" signs on the course pre-race, when I saw Tom getting some morning miles in.  Absolutely no nervousness at all pre-race; that was a welcome change.  Photo essay for the race itself:

Other than having to dive through waves at start, the 1/2 mile
swim from Misquamicut State Beach to Old Town Beach
was relatively calm and flat. 
Swim time:  15:27.  Back of the pack, but 3 min faster than last year!

Finishing lap 1 of 2 - passed many cyclists

Finishing 2nd lap - 20.6 mph average
Bike time:  46:48, 45th o/a and 4 min faster than last year!

On the run course on
Atlantic Ave

Giving it my all on run back from
Weekapaug Bridge to Misquamicut:
splits 6:08 / 6:01 / 5:48
17:42 for 3 miles; 4th o/a
30 secs faster than last year
 At first I wasn't happy with my times, but knowing that the ratios of a long swim and short run don't favor me, and seeing that I took 7+ minutes off last year's time, improved in every event, and moved up 31 positions, I'm thrilled!

Congrats to Steve for winning our age group again!  Elise won the women's race, and fellow WTAC'ers Kate and CarolAnn were also out there competing.  Talking to John a/k/a Pard post-race, it sounds like he'll be making his tri-debut next year!  Great weather and great fun.  Now time to hang up the tri-suit and wetsuit for the year, and focus on fall running.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Weekly Log 17-Sep-12 to 23-Sep-12

Monday:  0

4 miles at 4:30AM.  Comfortable 53o under a starry sky.  Tom Harvey / Wicklow loop.

28 mile 5-town ride solo 6:30AM.  Heavy winds accompanied by light rain at start; one half of my brain told me to go back home where it's warm; fortunately the other half called me a pansy and told me to keep moving.  Headed through downtown, and then 2 to 49 to junction of 216 in North Stonington.  Hilly and headed into the NW wind from Pawcatuck all the way up 2 / 49.
I was getting up into Crutchley territory here, but didn't see the man; he was probably out doing his favorite pasttime:  face-plants into spider webs while running local trails.
This massive guy freaked me out when I came around the darkish corner on 216; good thing I realized
he was made out of stone and wasn't going to eat me.  I think the chain he proudly wears around his neck
was the bike chain from the last cyclist he ate, shortly before being turned to stone.

Rode 216 the entire length through Clark's Falls (beautiful farmlands and fields), Ashaway, and down into Charlestown, then Route 1 / Shore Road home.  Pushed it on long sections of 216 and Route 1 at 25+ mph steady, but that was courtesy of a tailwind that I had fought in the first half.  Good workout:  28.3 miles, average 17 mph, max 33.  Rain went away, and then sun came out just as I finished.
1 mile.  Why bother, right?  Because it was just to simulate T2 and getting into the run after a long bike, both as prep for Sunday's tri. 

7+ miles mid-afternoon.  Perfect tonic to a rotten night of repeated phone calls from India and getting only 3 hours of sleep.  2 mile warm-up, then a mile hard into the wind on Atlantic Ave at 5:55 pace.  Follow with 2+ miles of bliss:  on the beach, near low tide, sunny and tailwind, nary a soul in sight.

7+ miles at 4:45AM with Tom from my house.  Along the water in Avondale, then Browning cut-through to Ocean View and Misquamicut, and back.  Good run, solid 6:43 pace.
1/2 mile ocean swim with Steve at 6:15.  When I told my mother and brothers two days ago that I would be swimming in the ocean before sunrise, they really thought I was nuts.  Telling them that was after I would be running with another friend at 4:45AM didn't help my sanity case.  Water was really smooth, out and back 12-minutes each way.  Fairly straight line except having to swim out further into the ocean around a group of men fishing from shore.  Water was still warm, but shivered for a long time getting out of the water into 48o air.

6 miles. 1st day of fall. From my HS alma mater south on Switch Road to 91, then North-South Trail to Pine Hill Road, and back local roads just in time to see Mark and his JV soccer team beat CHS JV. (Varsity was a different story, so we won't talk about that.)

1/2 mile likely final ocean swim of the year.  OCY Tri.
24 miles.  OCY Tri, plus ride to/from, and warm-up.
4 miles.  OCY Tri - see separate write-up.

Weekly totals:
Run:  29 miles
Bike:  52 miles
Swim:  1.0 miles

Week wrap-up:
The summer and tri season have now sadly come to an end.  I may go on some fall casual bike rides, but the competition has ended and the swimming is done.  As usual, the summer has gone by far too quickly, but now it's time to focus on the fall.  Next weekend will be a new pinnacle for me with a trail marathon - trying to stay calm and keep it as a "fun" event.  Beyond that, I've got way too many races on the calendar and am thinking of scrapping the Penguin and maybe even Pumpkin run, and get back to 2-3 races per month tops instead of the more recently 1-2 races per week.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Surftown Half Marathon

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Results here.  1:22:31.  PR!  15th overall out of 1,261.  2nd in age group.
Westerly Sun article here.

I love this race overall.  Along the ocean, beautiful views, early 7:30AM start when it's cooler, sparse to no traffic on course, right in my proverbial "backyard" where I run parts of the course year round, the biggest race by far in Westerly, lots of local runners and fans.  What's not to love?  Well, a few organizational details that should be ironed out - more on that later in "Cons" section of this post.

Breakfast at 5:30AM; arrived at 6:45 ready to go.  Met up early with Muddy and Mike C for a warm-up and went looking for a local pitstop that had less than 1,000 runners in line ahead of us (found one with just 1 person ahead of us).  Mike C headed back, and Muddy and I continued on for a while, with the intention to return to the starting line just before the start.  The start was delayed, so we ran a few strides to avoid the claustrophia and body tightening up.
Can you believe the size of this field?  Good thing Muddy
and I started out in row 2.

Finally, we're off.  I followed Muddy's WTAC singlet for about 2 miles down to the Weekapaug bridge, where he was 3 telephone poles ahead of me.  That was the last I saw of him.  I ran for the first four miles with Clay Howland, a competitor from Providence but with Westerly ties and close times to mine in Li'l Rhody and several other races.  He asked me if my sole goal was to beat his finishing time by 30 seconds!

We ran 6:15 pace, but he said he wanted to back off to 6:20s, so I kept trucking to my plan.  Just then (leaving Weekapaug) the #2 woman at this point caught up to me and said I looked like a good running partner and she said she was looking for 6:15 pace also.  We ran together for the next 3 miles, until she was pulling away at consecutive 6:08 mile splits, so I let her go at mile 7 back on Fisherman Ave and stayed focused on my target splits. 
Coming up on mile 7 on Atlantic Ave

It was fun to watch the saga unfold as she caught and passed the lead woman (BAA) on Shore Road.  I think the BAA woman was slowing, as I easily passed her.  I saw the lead guy in Watch Hill where the course doubles back for a short section, and then made my way easily up the hill to Ocean House.  I was feeling good, so I picked it up and re-caught and passed the #1 woman on Ocean View Highway, and finished the last two miles both at 6:08 pace.

Strong finish through chute
Final result - a new PR by ONE SECOND!  I'll take it, and work on improving it further next year as I try to keep Father Time at bay for a while longer.  Muddy also PR'd, as did the two Mikes.  Great stuff!  Caught up with WTAC'er Dave and Tom and company afterward, before hitting the beer tent with Muddy.

  • All of the things I mentioned up top - great course, views, weather, etc.
  • Kept to my plan of 6:15 pace, and generally hit that
  • Strong on the hill; really strong finish
  • I had a blast out there on the course
  • Took 3 minutes off last year's Surftown time
  • Qualified for 2013 New York using new tightened time standards
  • Nice swag for finisher's medal and age-group award
  • Great turnout and finishes by fellow WTAC runners
  • In the middle miles (7 - 10), I had too many splits slide to upper 6:20s.  Need to work more on consistent pacing.
  • Snafu at packet pickup Sat - they had no record of me, despite me signing up in February for multiple HMF races at same time and no problems at those other races
  • Snafu race day - they still didn't have my name or info at all, and tried twice to fix it, then sent me to the timing van to resolve; despite giving all info AGAIN, they still list my hometown as "Unknown" even now
  • Took over 24 hours to post results - and then onto Bazu, which is not that friendly, instead of running results staple CoolRunning [NOTE:  finally posted to CoolRunning, but a day later]
  • Mile 3 marker was 1/4 mile off AGAIN this year - I gave them this feedback post-race last year, and they acknowledged post-race this year that it's wrong and they should have fixed it this year but didn't
I'll certainly be back next year.  Fix the above issues, and it's a great race.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Weekly Log 10-Sep-12 to 16-Sep-12

Monday:  0
Boston bound!

117th Boston Marathon
Received this e-mail back at end of day:
"Dear Jeffrey J. Walker,
This is to notify you that your entry into the 117th Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2013 has been accepted, ..."

26 miles with Steve.  48 degrees, cold, pitch dark.  5:30AM ride to Y, where I met up with Steve and then rode through Avondale, Watch Hill, Misquamicut, and Weekapaug, then back again.  Scared up some herons through the salt marsh.  Couldn't catch a break with the wind, as it was kind of a cross-wind.  Struggled to keep it at 19mph, while Steve was hitting 22mph.  Had to hustle to catch up to him during "breaks" when he'd slow down between sprints.  Good workout!
5 miles.  Got a 45-minute break late afternoon to get in a running fix, and I needed it after a tense day of working production issues on the phone most of the day.  Shore Road to Ocean View Highway, and then a cathartic run back home along the beach.

Wednesday: 0
My snooze alarm won today.  Not a bad thing, as my body is telling me I need a day off.  My left calf was really hurting walking around Boston.  Is that from 2 out of 3 past days biking really hard?  Or the swim last Friday being the longest I did all this year?  Hopefully something minor that will be gone before Surftown.  Went to City Sports at lunch and bought Tom's suggestion of a foam roller, then watched a Runner's World video on how to use.  Hopefully will help.

4 miles easy at 4:30AM.  55o.  Tom Harvey, Wicklow, Shore loop.  Temperature felt great; calves didn't and it affected my gait.

Excerpt of an e-mail I received from NipMuck Trail Marathon yesterday regarding current course conditions:  "... Still lots of rocks & roots and the usual muddy sections are, well, good and muddy..  But nothing too extreme for the seasoned trail runner."  Seasoned trail runner?  What did I get myself into?  Is it too late to send Jonny in my place?

7 miles with Tom at 4:45AM.  58o.  Chin Hill to Beach St and Margin, back on the hill by Westerly Hospital to East Ave and trail cut-through to Rotary Park. 
My left calf started out real tight during the run, but a mile plus into the run felt much better, and thereafter just occasional twinges.  For Surftown, I'm thinking it will be best for me to get 2-3 miles warm-up in to loosen up the calves instead of starting so tight.
1/2 mile ocean swim.  Met up with Steve at 6:15AM, and also Larry, former WTAC runner and triathlete extraordinaire, now turned into a hunter.  Headed towards Weekapaug as the sun was just starting to rise, saw Steve quickly way in the distance, followed by Larry and then me floundering around - every time I looked up I was still at the Town Beach pavilion!  By the agreed upon 12 minute mark I was only a few houses past the Town Beach, turned around and made it back to the starting point in 4 minutes!   Ah, I was fighting a strong current.  Continued swimming to Windjammer until it looked like I was going to run into the fishing line of a fisherman from shore, and I didn't want to end up on his dinner plate, so I turned around.
Larry told me bow deer hunting season opens in RI tomorrow.  Arggh, time to start wearing orange vests.

3 miles.  Picked up my Surftown packet, caught up with the Mikes, then home for an easy run with Matthew, including part of the course.  Ready or not, Surftown here we come...

16 miles.  Surftown Half Marathon.  Waiting for results to be available online, then will post separate write-up.  How come the results still aren't available almost 24 hours after the event?!

Weekly totals:
Swim:  0.5 miles
Bike:  26 miles
Run:  35 miles

Week wrap-up:  A lower mileage week this week, but that's OK.  Had a great time and great outcome at the Surftown.  Lovin' the varied race events in September thus far.  Next up: another event right in my "backyard", the OCY Tri next Sunday.  That one doesn't favor me with the long swim and the short run, but it'll be good fun nonetheless, and I'll make sure to get another bike and swim workout in during this coming week.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Shoreline Biathlon

Sunday, September 9, 2012
Westerly Town Beach
5 mile run (Clamdigger Course), 16 mile bike (2 loop Misquamicut-Weekapaug:  Atlantic -> Crandall -> Shore -> Noyes Neck)

Results here (overall at top, scroll down for run portion).  1st on run, 2nd overall!
Article in Westerly Sun.

Smaller crowd than usual, likely for several reasons:  1st time held after a 3-year hiatus, dearth of publicity, no online registration, same day as FirmMan Half Ironman.
The gun went off for the start of the run, and I found myself leading right from the start.  Very soon I could not hear any footsteps at all.  What gives?  Did the gun really go off?  Maybe some are just holding back to catch me a little ways in?  I'm following the police cruiser down Atlantic Ave, so everything looks good, just don't think I've ever had a race where I never saw anyone beside me or in front of me for at least part of the race.  A mile in at 6:02 still no one is within ear shot.  Since no one is pushing me to set the pace, what pace should I run to finish strong but still leave enough in the tank for a bike race that I'll need to push hard for almost an hour?
Start of the run (from
Hit mile 2 at 6:04 in Weekapaug.  3rd mile through the turns and small hills is slower at 6:11.  I see Les walking towards me on a long stretch on Knowles Ave and ask him how far back the next runner is; he says he can't see anyone behind me.  Huh.  What to do now?  I decide to keep up the pace, and finish strong but not spent.
Follow the cruiser back onto Atlantic for mile 4 split at 6:01, and mile 5 at 6:01 also.  Finished the run in 30:34, 6:07 pace.  Two mistakes in transition:  went to the wrong bike row (again!) and then was slow untying running shoes, until I took a cue from my kids that I usually admonish them for - don't untie them, just step on the heels and extract.

Finishing up 5-mile run; photo from Greystone Racing
Expected to be overtaken in transition, but I mount the bike, look right to the end of the run course, and still don't see anyone.  Wierd feeling.  I pushed the bike hard, keeping most places 21-23mph, and somehow made it through the entire 1st 8-mile loop still in the lead.  Early on in the 2nd loop I got passed at Misquamicut State Beach by eventual winner Bob Lane and I congratulate him.  Let up for just a moment to take a good drink, but I know the rest of the wolves are just behind me ready to overtake me, so despite the legs hurting now, I push it to see how long I can hold them off.  Crossing the 4-way at Weekapaug Bridge is dicey; with cars in both directions on the bridge at high Noon now, I ride down the middle of the road passing cars at 25mph.  I end up holding the wolves off the entire race and finish 2nd overall!  I know the low attendance is contributing to this, but I also later check my past results from 2006 and 2007 and find my time today is 7-8 minutes faster than those years, so I'm feeling good!
Jumped in the ocean afterwards, then caught up with fellow WTAC'ers Steve, Polly, CarolAnn, John, etc.  The race needs quite a bit of improvement in organization, publicity, and course marking, so I offered some constructive criticism and possible assistance if desired.  Still a fun local race that I'm glad I participated in.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Weekly Log 3-Sep-12 to 9-Sep-12

16+ miles with Mike B on Labor Day holiday.  Ran the full Surftown course; great prep for the race in just two weeks.  Mike was pushing the pace (see below) especially on the first half of the course.  At the finish line on Atlantic, it was a welcome relief to walk into Sienna's Scoops and to get two cold Poland Spring water bottles on the house from the kind owner and sponsor of this year's fun run ice cream certificates.

Afternoon swim sans wetsuit from end of Old Town Beach to Windjammer. 

Ended the last summer holiday weekend with a lot of beach time, waterslide fun, and a cookout and fire on the deck.  Hopefully I won't get too depressed after Labor Day; at least I still have four consecutive races right in Misquamicut to keep me pumped. 

Tuesday: 0

4 miles.  Stavros On the Beach Run.
Results here.  2nd overall; 17:42.

Was watching the weather all day on this and in back and forth communication with our club prez, Steve, as hurricane remnants meant pouring rain and high winds earlier in the day.  Fielded a number of calls from potential runners, telling them the race was still on as I looked skeptically outside at downpours even two hours before the start.
Fortunately, the weather was favorable at start time, other than close to 90% humidity! 
Start:  most runners are barefoot
Lined up at the start of the new course (easterly from Westerly Town Beach to Weekapaug Breachway), barefoot as usual.  Jonny shot out of the gate and quickly assumed the lead as I'm thinking to myself this is going to be a long night.  The sand was perfect!  Hard-packed and reminding me of the Resolution Beach 5K.
Jonny leading the pack out
About 1/4 mile in, I caught up with Jonny and took the lead.  Hit the first mile in 5:40!  5:40 on sand, really?!  About this time I'm hearing footsteps right behind me and thinking it's Jonny, but the wierd thing is that sometimes the footsteps sound right near me and sometimes they sound like they're higher up on the beach, so I'm wondering if it's someone wearing shoes that has to keep avoiding the waves that I run through in a straight line.
Finally, at the turnaround where Polly is with the cones, I see indeed it is a shod runner, a kid I don't know, followed by Jonny.  I usually don't like turnarounds, but there's no other choice on a beach race and it's kind of neat now to see the rest of the field.  The kid is now running right next to me.  I hit mile 2 in 6:02.  Colburn, our oldest WTAC member at 79 (I hope to be still breathing at 79) says hello, and I know I'm in trouble when I pant something unintelligible back to him while the kid utters a complete coherent sentence.

1 - 2(Jeff) - 3(Jonny) coming in to finish
Final mile:  My last hope of the kid adding time and distance by running around waves is shot when he starts running through the water with his shoes on.  Damn!  At about 2.5 (didn't look at watch) he finds another gear to accelerate, which I cannot match.  I try twice in case he's just throwing a surge, but he's not, and I can't hold it.  I finish the final mile in 6:00 flat, 6 seconds behind the winner, and Jonny just 6 seconds behind me.

Sprinting final steps to finish
Now for my post-race "cooldown":  I ran and jumped into the ocean.  How refreshing!  Great night, great running company, great food, great fun, and great compliments on the new course!
Check out the waves coming in to wash Mike B away!
5 miles.  My alarm went off at 4, but I was tired from compiling and posting beach results and went back to sleep.  Coming home from work at 5PM and seeing Tom out running gave me inspiration!  Put on running shoes and ran the same Misquamicut roads/beach course the two of did last Sunday, only in reverse (no, I didn't run backwards!).

8 miles.  To Tom's house at 4:30AM and back at 5:45.  Was going to go longer, but got a text from friend Steve to join him for a swim (below).

7 miles.  71 degrees and dripping humidity.  Run in the dark out to Westerly Town Beach, then on the beach to Weekapaug Breachway (repeat of Wednesday night!) before Weekapaug roads back to Tom's.  7:12 average, but that's factoring in the beach as first few miles were at 6:43!  Great to see Tom back running!
3/4 mile.  Got back home, changed into wetsuit, met Steve back at the Town Beach again!  Haven't I already been here today?  This time it's light out.  We each swim 12 minutes out and 12 back, as he's much faster than me.  Got whalloped by a wave and then learned to go out a bit further.  I've had my own triathlon today; I'm wiped and it's only 7:30AM!

Swim at sunrise
11 very humid miles with Mike B.  Loop from Y to Boombridge to North Stonington, Anthony to Ashaway, Potter Hill to North End and back.  I really had trouble with this one today almost from the start at 6AM.  Every hill I was panting going up, and with the thick air, downhills weren't much relief.  Saw Jeff Duda twice on the bike - he's doing the Firm Man half-iron tomorrow, while I'm fortunately running the much shorter Shoreline Biathlon, given that I haven't biked or swam enough this summer.  Somehow finished up with a 7:11 overall pace.  Mike looked strong; I felt like death.  Checked the humidity when I got home:  95%!  Ugh!

6 miles.  Shoreline Biathlon.  See separate write-up.
22 miles.  Shoreline Biathlon.
Weekly totals:
Run:  49 miles
Bike:  30 miles
Swim:  1.00 miles

Week wrap-up:  Another strong run mileage week, even with getting in two races during the week, both of which were great fun.  It's depressing to be at the end of summer, but the races and runs/swims with different friends are all a lot of fun and keep me going mentally and physically.  Next up:  Surftown!  Very excited about this one, a well organized run on local roads with a huge groundswelling of both participants and spectators.