Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 in Review; 2014 Goals

2013 in Review:

First, let’s see how I fared against my 2013 goals set a year ago:

·         2012 Highlights: Run 2,200 miles.  Failed this one, falling about 95 miles short.  Part of this was certainly due to adding on more bike miles, so it’s all good.  Happy to have run more than 2,000 miles for the second year in a row.  Average weekly miles:  38; minimum 24; maximum 62.

·         PR in every distance I attempt.  Mixed results:  succeeded in 6 out of 8 distances attempted; coming up short only in the elusive mile and the 10K.

·         Half Ironman in 2013 as a precursor to a full in 2014.  Success!  Wasn’t sure if I’d try this again after my 2011 debut had me hurting for days, but glad I did as I not only finished it again, but took more than 35 minutes off my 2011 time.

·         50K Trail Race.  Didn’t happen.  Would still like to get this done, ideally with a WTAC teammate, but easier said than done given conflicting schedules and the fact that they’re all out of state.

·         Keep it fun.  Success!  This included decreasing the number of races run; from 38 in 2012 down to 34 in 2013.  Not much of a dent, but freed up more weekends for group runs and just reduced the burnout and stress factors.  Also really enjoyed more bike rides, and just a lot of fun group runs.

2013 Highlights: (so many,  but I'll just recap a few)

·         Lowering my marathon PR not once, but twice, and by almost eight minutes.  2012 was the first time I broke three hours, and lowered it to 2:56:16 (Boston, April) and then to 2:51:55 (Smuttynose, October).

      ·         Running in far away locales.
Harmondsworth Moor, England

Klamath Falls, Oregon

·         Getting in more bike miles.  I really enjoyed biking for probably the first time, and got some long quality rides in with Mike B and FiveK.  The stop along the way for iced coffee became an engrained tradition and something to look forward to after what were some grueling rides, at least from my perspective.

Early in the bike season, on a ride with FiveK
At the  Crabman Tri

·         Watching my two boys’ sports successes.  Mark broke the YMCA record in the 100 butterfly that had stood for 13 years previously (1:02.02).  Matthew made his debut into the half-marathon at the young age of 13, and ran one of my favorite hometown races, Surftown, in 1:27:53 (6:43 average pace, good for 25th out of 1,613).
Matthew tearing it up at Surftown

Mark's YMCA butterfly record
·         WTAC team running.  2013 was another year of explosive membership growth, including Chris, Nate, Beth, and many others.  We had another very successful year of fun runs, and just had so many great team races and group runs.  The December social events (WTAC holiday party and post-Newport 10K lunch) capped off a great year for the club.

Team WTAC at Brrr-lingame Snowy Sufferfest

Team WTAC at State Police 5K
2014 goals:

Our goals at work each year are supposed to be "SMART":  Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound.  For example, don’t say “run faster” as it's too vague, but perhaps “run a road 5K at an average pace of 5:40 or less in 2014”.  Let me try to weave those principles in here:

·         Run 2,000 miles in 2014.  Less miles than my 2013 goal, but I think more realistic given that I want to spend more time on the bike, and need (not want) to spend more time swimming.

·         Achieve at least one of three very ambitious race goals:  run a mile in sub-5, run Li’l Rhody sub-50, or run a full marathon in sub-2:50.  Yeah, them’s fightin’ words, and I’m ready to train and fight for those.

·         Distance events:  Run at least two events of marathon distance or longer.  Participate in one tri event of Half Iron distance or longer.   (Still have that full Ironman on my bucket list, but not sure my body is ready for that).

·         Keep it fun.  This is again my most important goal.  As most of you know, I’m turning 50 next year (and if you didn’t know, Mike B is actively broadcasting it!).  I’m looking forward to celebrating not only the specific day with family and some running friends, but also competing in a new age group with renewed successes.  Beyond that, hopefully a lot more group runs and hopefully group rides.

Surftown 2013 finish and PR
Happy New Year, everyone, and best wishes for much fun and success in 2014!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Weekly Log 23-Dec to 29-Dec-2013

Christmas week!  How quickly the season is upon us and then vanishes just as quickly into the cold doldrums of January.

Monday:  6
2nd annual "Christmas Light Run".  FiveK, Matthew, Jonny Eckel, and I were the gracious guests of a fun run set up by Mike B from his house.  Thanks to Mike for setting up 10K of a run through neighborhoods well decked and lighted for the season.  I should have brought a camera for this one.  Although it rained the whole time, temps in the 40s plus the camaraderie kept this run festive and fun.  Back at the ranch, I deem Mike's garage running display second only to Freddy. (link courtesy of FiveK)

Tuesday:  8

'Twas the morning before Christmas, when all through the Walker house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
Hopped in the car, and headed to Grills,
To meet up with running friends for pre-holiday frills.

Standing in the cold, we were anxious to get going,
But were all waiting for Crutch to make his showing;
Alas, we got running lest we all freeze,
When we realized Crutch was still home catching "Z"s!

At first we had trouble seeing in the early morning dark,
But then Garvin's neon green shoes lit up the whole park;
At dawn, we crossed over to the Westerly side,
And then the seven of us ran along the Pawcatuck River-side.

On Muddy, Gazelle, and Jonny, on Chris, Mike, Sean, and Nate,
The Strava segment to the top of Big Hill; who amongst us will take the bait?
As we wrapped up our run, and drove our cars out of sight,
To each we wished a Happy Christmas, and to all a good night!

(With apologies to Clement C. Moore)

Wednesday:  5
Christmas morning beach run.  24 degrees, but sunny.  Had a short window before heading to Mom's for dinner; got out to get in my fix. 
Christmas running gifts:
running shoes, gloves, Yaktrax Run, running pullover
Thursday:  5
Ran from the Y out to North End, while waiting for Mark.  Just got started out on Canal Street, when a group of teenagers were throwing some trash talk my way:  "Faster, faster!   Can't you run any faster than that?".  I yelled back for them to come show me how it's done, but I didn't get any takers.  Continued uneventful on a loop through the North End, and returned back via the Amtrak tunnel.  Just entered the stairs to the tunnel, when I see the same teen group is now camped out here.  One with an afro from the 80s says, "You again.", and I responded, "That's right, and here's your 2nd chance to show me how fast you are.".  Afro went quiet, but someone behind him said, "I can beat you.  I can beat you!".  I said, "You're on.  Let's go!".  For a while I heard feet running behind me; by the time we got to the stairs climbing out of the tunnel, the sound behind me was mostly heavy breathing, and by the time I exited onto Railroad Ave, they gave up.  You'd think the trash-talking teens should have been able to outrun an old man any day!  Finished up my run with a smile on my face.

Friday:  12
Group run w/ Jonny and Mike B.  Chilly start of 22 degrees.  Had to put on my winter heavy running gear (you know, the pair of shorts with a 1" longer hemline).  We had a hilly loop through North Stonington, Ashaway, trails in Flora Whiteley Preserve, then climbed up Potter Hill before running trails in Westerly Town Forest.  We ran five hill climbs of greater than 100', including road climb of 150' up Potter Hill/Laurel, and trail climb of about 180' from the Pawcatuck River up. 

Saturday:  5
Short window to run before hosting a holiday party for 25 relatives.  Ran Champlin trails.

Sunday:  4
Balmy, but rainy run in Riverwood Preserve with Crutch, Matthew, and his friend.

Weekly mileage total:  45

Decent mileage week for the last full week of 2013.  Expect less mileage next week with Old Mountain 5K on the weekend, plus the reality of back-to-work.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Weekly Log 16-Dec to 22-Dec-2013

Turned in my notice to DECLINE to move to North Carolina with my job.  Next step, with unemployment looming, is to look into downsizing our house to live instead in an RV.  I'm hoping I can find something similar to Cousin Eddie's RV from "Christmas Vacation".
Ain't she pretty?  Don't laugh; we may be pulling up into your driveway
for an extended visit soon!
Switch to winter season (effective Saturday) brings new header photos to my blog.  These 3 winter races should be super-easy to identify, right, readers?

Monday:  0

Tuesday:  9
AM:  4 miles on local roads in a chilly 12-degree run before 5AM.  I'm sure it will get colder, but this is still technically fall today, isn't it?
PM:  5 miles.  Came home to falling snow.  Had already gotten my run in today, but couldn't pass up an opportunity to play in the snow.  Got out my Yaktrax, and ran to and through Champlin Glacier Park.

Wednesday:  11
Unfortunately the forecast 3-6" of snow didn't pan out, and we got maybe 1-2" instead, coated with some sleet.  The roads were sloppy, so trails looked like a better choice today.  Got out my Yaktrax again, and headed for Woody Hill Management Area.  Ran all trails, including Wahaneeta Preserve.  Really a good workout through the snow, but had a lot of fun and had the entire 800+ acres to myself.
Single-track through the forest;
looks like a mountain-biker actually beat me to this trail.  Galoob?

The stone fort hangout

Woody Hill Marsh takes on a very different look in the fresh snow
Downside is that my Yaktrax got torn some more.  Had made some jerry-rig repairs after my Yaktrax "wardrobe malfunction" at Belleville 10K, but I think they're now down to their last leg.  Hopefully Santa is reading my blog ... hint hint

Thursday:  5
4:30AM run with fellow nuts FiveK and Mike B.  Unfortunately I had to push this one a little in order to catch my 6AM train, but always good to get out there.

Friday:  14
AM:  5 miles.  Trail run with Crutch.  Started in Pafford Woods (Stonington) and explored some connecting trails in the area around the US Navy recreation area.  "No trespassing" signs?  Can't remember seeing any; we were just out running trails. 

Next snuck in a sushi lunch with Jana, followed by a trip to Hopkinton Liquor Depot.  Jana seemed disgusted with me there; not sure if it was because we had long picked up what we needed and I was still looking around, or because I was making orgasmic noises as I was checking out their Scotch selection.

PM:  9 miles.  OK, back to running.  FiveK and Mike B met up at my place for a Misquamicut workout.  10 minute warm-up, then one of my favorite workouts:  5-4-3-2-1-0.5 minutes hard, each punctuated with 50% of the time in recovery.  Splits:
Time Distance Pace
05:00.3 0.88 5:42
04:01.0 0.72 5:37
03:02.5 0.55 5:34
01:59.6 0.36 5:35
01:00.3 0.19 5:20
:31.2 0.11 4:50

Saturday:  13
Winter Solstice group run with Jonny, Muddy, Nate, Chris, Mike B, and Seth.  Started at the Quaker cemetery in Perryville, made it onto Green Hill beach for sunrise, then up Moonstone Beach Road to finish out the road portion of the run at just shy of 8 miles.  Muddy dropped here (thrilled to see him running!) and the six of us continued on for another 2-3 miles.  Nate, Chris, and Mike then ended their run, while Seth, Jonny, and I finished out just under a 2-hour run [1:52].  Thanks to Jonny for organizing this one.  Fun road/beach run, then some challenging trail hill climbs on snowy slippery slopes.
Sunrise at Moonstone Beach
(photo by Jonny)
Sunday:  8
Foggy run around Winnapaug Pond.  1st full day of winter?  55 degrees!  A bike pulled up alongside me; it was fellow neighbor / athlete "Sam Adams".  He's been injured past few months and unable to run; hopefully a visit to the doc in the new year will be a step in the right direction.  Next cyclist up was Jeff Vuono gobbling up some miles.  Jumped on the beach at Misquamicut for a short spell, but being high tide, the sand was too soft and I finished up on the roads.   Easy mid-7s pace.

Weekly mileage totals:  60

Week recap
Biggest mileage week since March!  Had some great runs, including running in the snow and the Winter Solstice group run.  Looking for another high mileage week next week with having the week off on vacation, but will then look to back it off to avoid overdoing it, shin split repeats, etc. 
Besides, by then, we will be into the trail race series.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Christmas 10K

Newport, RI
December 15, 2013

36:55, 5:57 pace.  1st in age group, 5th overall of 224.  Full results here.

Probably my 6th or 7th time running this holiday race.  Originally about 15 WTAC runners had signed up for this, which would have been huge, but close to have bowed out due to weather concerns, injuries, etc.  Still had a really good turnout, and after some last minute reshuffling due to dropped racers, we were able to just form three teams:  two male and one female. 

Despite snow the previous days, weather was actually pleasant for December.  Roads were completely clear, temps in the upper 30s, and no precipitation.  Short shorts and singlet weather for me.

Mile 1:  Lined up with teammates Nate, Seth, and Matthew in 2nd row.  First mile is net downhill.  Ran with Nate, Seth, and a guy in red for half a mile or so before edging just ahead of them.  My fastest mile at 5:48.
Start of the 2013 Christmas10-K

Mile 2:  Hear someone pulling up to me.  Hoping it's one of my teammates, was happy to see Nate.  Hoped he'd stay with me or even pass me for motivation, but I went ahead again.  Wound past Castle Hill Coast Guard Station in an uneventful but consistent mile at 5:59.

Mile 3:  Slight downhill again to the ocean.  Jonny is about 1/10 mile ahead of me and I have grand visions of closing the gap, but keeping the same gap is the best I can do.  5:53.

Mile 4:  Jonny pulls further away, and this is the last I see of him until finish.  At this point, runners merge with walkers, which really doesn't pose any issue for me this time.  Kept similar pace along the ocean at 5:57.

Mile 5:  Final mile along the ocean, punctuated by puddles and seaweed on the road at this point.  Pace slowed slightly to 6:02.

Mile 6 to finish:  Climbed away from the ocean for last mile, but less hilly than I recall.  Maybe because last year I was locked in a battle with turtle Martin Tighe to the finish, whereas this year I had no one close ahead of me and I thought no one close behind me.  Totally zoned out until I saw the Mile 6 sign.  Slow mile at 6:14.  Picked it up slightly to finish in 36:55.  Was totally shocked to see teammates Nate and Seth finish right after me 3 seconds and 8 seconds later, respectively.
Turn into Rogers High School

Final strides to finish

Cooldown with Mike G (winner), Nate, and Seth.  Back for awards, donuts, and soup.  Team WTAC cleaned up with our two mens' team overall 1st and 2nd winners, and WTAC females the female team winners.  (Beth should have stuck around to pick up her winnings of beer and a gift certificate or other choice.)  I took home a 6-pack and a $25 gift certificate to Mariner Grille, Narragansett.  Finished up the day with nine of us have lunch and a drink at the Brick Alley Pub.  Great time with the team; we should add that as a Christmas 10K tradition to be repeated.

Matthew's chosen 1st place age group award:
 a deer (forefront) to add to our holiday lighting


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Weekly Log 9-Dec to 15-Dec-2013

Monday:  0

Tuesday:  4
Was snowing when I got home from work.  I love getting out to run when it's snowing!

Wednesday: 6
Downtown run from the Y on quiet roads while waiting for Mark at the Y.  Pretty cold, but warmed up in the sauna on return home.  Met up with a trail runner transplant from Alaska, and had a good chat.

Thursday:  7
Ran rolling hills of Moonlight / Urso.  WTAC holiday party fun at night.  Huge turnout.  The club has really grown in past few years.

Friday:  7
Barn Island morning run with Mike B.  Always love a run in the Barn.

Saturday:  0
The day escaped past me without a chance for a run.  Loved our old-fashioned trek out to get a tree in Griswold today:  17 degrees, snowing, cut down the tree ourselves, and Matthew and I dragged it out.  Hope I never get too old for this outdoors woodsy holiday experience.
Got this year's tree from Buttonwood Farms, Griswold

Not exactly Clark Griswold size, but at 14' was still heavy to
heft up onto the rooftop
Sunday: 10
Christmas 10K.  See separate write-up.

Weekly mileage totals:  34

Week recap:  Light mileage week.  With racing over now for the year, will be looking to get both more mileage and some longer runs in.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Weekly Log 2-Dec to 8-Dec-2013

First full week of December.  Looks like good running weather ahead, with highs in the 40s.

Monday:  6
Rare father/son day:  Spent most of the day with Mark in Providence getting his cast off, then out for a late lunch.  I told the surgeon if he asked us to wait another two weeks again, I was sending Mark to live with him.  He said that was fine, but Mark would have to help change diapers on his new baby "brothers".  Should've seen the look on Mark's face on that one!
The day was frequently interrupted with calls from work, and I needed to get out onto the beach for a cathartic run, which I did at sunset.  Out towards Watch Hill and back, finished in the dark.

Tuesday:  11
Work started for me with a phone call at 3AM.  I told Mark he should think hard if he wants to get in the IT field, or at least for a big international company where the business day never ends.  By the time we finished up addressing the issue du jour at 7AM, I needed some downtime alone (translate "run").  The beach sand was too thick with high tide, but otherwise had run meandering around Winnapaug Pond.

Wednesday:  5
Time for something different:  Riverwood Preserve.  One of the many gems of the Westerly Land Trust, but for some reason I hadn't been in here in over a year.  The last time I remember it as wet and overgrown, but it seemed fine today, if not a few places where I got scraped up by briars.  The perimeter trail (orange) is mostly flat and features a number of straight sections; nice along the Pawcatuck River.  The interior trails (blue and red) is where all the work is, including steep climbs and places where you drop 100' in 1/10 mile.  Well worth it, though, not only for the workout but also the views and cool rock faces.  Some nice views of Chapman Pond.  One of those places where I think to myself "Am I still in Westerly?", although unfortunately, unlike Woody Hill/Wahaneeta, you can still hear cars most of the time, mostly from Route 3 or 91, depending on where you are.  Went down twice, mostly because the frost covered rocks were slippery.  No harm done.

Thursday: 0

Friday: 12
AM:  2.5 miles.  Drizzly day, but can't complain as had the day off.  Ran with Jana on her usual Newbury loop.
PM:  9.5 miles.  Introduced Ryan Woolley to Wahaneeta / Woody Hill trails.  75 minute run.  Rain returned mid-run, but with temps in the high 40s, it was fine.

Saturday: 7
Run from the Y out past Springbrook School, and back via Canal and the North End.  Just missed a run with Jeff Duda, and Elise was also at the Y asking why I didn't invite her.  No shortage of potential running friends lately - awesome!  I missed any speedwork this week, as my primary running partner is battling an ankle injury, so tried to fit in what I think he had planned for us: ran 2 x 1 mile (6:14 uphill, 5:43 downhill), followed by 2 x 800 (2:53, 2:47).
I liked the idea of Jonny's 10K workout of 3 x 2 miles, but pretty sure I don't have the mental perseverance to run that one solo.  Have no idea how I possibly ran an average 5:52 pace at last year's Christmas 10K.  Scaring me a bit at the moment.  We'll see how it turns out.

Sunday:  5
Lexington, MA.  Minuteman National Park.  24 degrees with patches of snow and ice on the trails.  Stayed overnight for a cousin's holiday party, and started the following morning off right with a quick drive to this area popular with runners.  Matthew and I saw a few group runs and encountered at least a dozen runners, with he and I noticeably the only ones in shorts.
Matthew later told me our run was one of the highlights of his weekend!  That made my day, as it's tough to impress a teenager and parents are so uncool.

Weekly totals:  46

Another really good mileage volume week.  That's only going to get better as we get into the holidays and I have more time off.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Weekly Log 25-Nov to 1-Dec-2013

Thanksgiving week, and then we're into December already.

Monday:  0

Tuesday:  5
Headed to Barn Island for a 7AM run in which I thought I'd have the place to myself.  Wrong!  Shotgun deer hunting season just started in CT, and as such the parking lot was overfull and trucks and cars parked along the road.  Maybe I'll just come back another time, like after Dec 10 when shotgun season ends.  Now ... where are trails where hunting is NOT allowed?
Westerly Town Forest!  Hadn't been here in a while.  Had the place to myself.  All but the orange trail were in good shape, with the latter quite overgrown (make note to self to contact conservation commission).  Fun running.  The hills wore me down.

Wednesday:  5
4:30AM run with FiveK.  Dark, rain, and winds of 30+ mph.  I just don't understand why we don't get lots of runners to join us!  Running down Weekapaug Road through the open marsh / pond area was just brutal and tough to make any forward progress.  Mike B was planning to join us, but I think we lost him with the news of the impending rainstorm.  We should have just told him that over here in RI it was dry, calm, and clear - he's a fellow Chariho graduate, so he probably would have believed us.

Thursday:  10
Thanksgiving solo run in Misquamicut.  Had strong tailwind on Atlantic Ave as I ran 6:30s pace.  Back into the wind on Shore Road home, I pushed hard just to maintain high 6s.  Average pace 6:44.

Friday:  9
Group trail / road mix run in Usquepaugh section of Richmond / SK.  Mikes G and B, Seth, and me.  Started off right away with long uphills on trails in Crawley Preserve.  Wound around and out to Punchbowl Trail, where we had another steep ascent of just about 200'.  After that, it leveled off as we went back into the woods, mostly on logging trails along a ridge with a really cool view.  Exited out onto James Trail, where we found some cool single-track trails through the pines and around small ponds.

Saturday:  12
17-degree group long run from Long Pond, Hopkinton, with three Mikes, a FiveK, and a Muddy.  Right off the bat you could tell Mr Puddin' wasn't himself, as we were missing his witty repartee and frequent stretching of the legs and knee at rest stops.  Hope he's back for Christmas 10K.  A fun run up through Yawgoog Trails up to and around Hidden Like, then Dinosaur Caves, and a trek through Green Falls Pond. The "Clamshell Trail" quasi-marked with quahog shells and white rocks was more bushwhacking than trail running, but otherwise all good stuff.  FiveK decided he was too warm, and put his foot in the drink.  Frigid!

Sunday:  3
Short & easy solo local roads.  Near 50 degrees for 1st day of December, but rainy.

Weekly mileage total:  44

Decent mileage week!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Weekly Log 18-Nov to 24-Nov-2013

Fall race season ends for me on a positive note at Li'l Rhody.  Happy personally with my PR, and for the club with a record turnaround.  Taking the next few weekends race free, and looking forward to some fun runs with running friends, including getting back to some long runs and hitting the trails.

Monday:  8
Usually my day off from running, but there was clean up work to do on the Li'l Rhody course.  A little more than I thought, as I spent two hours at sunrise on the trails cleaning up (in the rain no less!), and then another hour in the afternoon cleaning up the parking lot.  All for a great race and a good cause.

Tuesday:  0
OK, now I need my day off.  Feet a little blistered from yesterday's soaked run and all the puddles I went through.

Wednesday:  17
AM:  8 miles.  Easy recovery run around Winnapaug Pond.  Out Shore Road to Weekapaug Road to the breachway.  Near the breachway, I see a car approach me, but driving completely on the wrong side of the road.  Momentarily confused - am I in England?  or worse, India?  No heaps of garbage on the side of road - good, at least I'm not back in India.  No, you dunce, he's driving in courtesy of YOU and giving plenty of room - really nice - I give a friendly thank-you wave.  His courtesy puts me in a good mood, as I jump onto the beach for a tranquil beach run in our little piece of utopia.
PM:  9 miles.  Met up with FiveK for a run down to Hell Field on Workout Wednesday.  5 x 400 (76, 80, 75, 75, 69), 3-minute walk/jog rest, followed by 5 x 200 (36, 34, 34, 35, 34).  For the 200 set, we alternated one of us leading the way, with the other trying to stay on the leader's shoulder.  Made me really push myself, which is good.  Cool down through Weekapaug along the ocean at sunset.

Thursday:  5
4:37AM, 23 degrees.  Reality of dark and cold hits.  My bare legs were cold for the first mile or so, but warmed up.  Ran with FiveK out to Westerly Hospital and back.  Hilly, but spirited last three miles:  7:01 (100' elevation gain up Westerly Hospital hill), 6:40 (100' loss), 6:44 (70' gain).  We actually saw two other separate runners out there.  No, it was neither Boumenot celebrating the impending winter, nor Crutch out there getting in some early morning miles.

Friday:  3
Late afternoon Woody Hill.  Combination jog (with shears; you're not supposed to run with scissors, right?) and clearing on the Cliff Trail.

Saturday: 9
Afternoon run out to Watch Hill.  Low 7s pace.  Jumped onto the beach at East Beach.  High 6s pace on the beach run back to Misquamicut.

Sunday:  10
22 degrees and 20+ mph winds as I left the house to meet up with Mike B and Sean for a sunrise trail run from Wahaneeta Preserve.  Quickly warmed up as we ran the trails into Woody Hill.  When we exited onto the roads in Bradford for a short spell, it reminded me that running trails was a good idea as the cold and wind gusts were frigid.  Feel for my running friends waiting in this weather at start of Mews race today!  Back into the woods, passed a few hunters as we made our way out to the Cliff Trail and over the dam.  Showed Sean the fort - it is pretty cool!  Finished up via the renowned Swamp Bypass Trail and through Wahaneeta.  Good run with lots of talk about respective Li'l Rhody experiences.

Weekly mileage total:  52!

52 is probably a low mileage week for Jonny, but for me, it's the furthest I've run since marathon training a few months back.  Really happy with that, and feeling good.  Into the holiday season we go:  more time off from work = more running fun.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Li'l Rhody Runaround

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Our signature club event. If the pre-registration tallies were any indicator (a record 215, which is 50 more than last year), this was going to be a big event.  Little did I know we would eclipse 400, with 439 entrants and 414 finishers!  (our previous record was just about 300)

50:14.  11th of 414 runners, 3rd place age group.  PR!  Full results here.
We're off.  A sea of orange, with Greg leading the way.
(photo by Jana)

Mile 1:  5:42.  No time for a warm-up with various RD duties, so it was fast off the block at the start.  I always try to get out fast the first mile of this race, in order to get a good position going into the single-track.  This time I think I overdid it with a pace too fast.  I caught up to Tom (that should have been a clue!) and passed the age-grouper always ahead of me, Brian McNeiece from the NRA.  3/4 of a mile in, the pack had settled quite a bit, as I entered the trails just ahead of Tom and Brian, and a few places behind Jonny and Jackman.

Mile 2:  5:58.  Yeah, Mile 2 was no slouch either.  Got passed by teen Dan Linkinhoker in the campground, who had some very polite words for me.  The guy is fast, and was ahead of me at Shad Bloom.  This section of trail out of the campground is pretty fast.

Mile 3:  6:38.  This is the section starting from where the trail meets Klondike Road and through the covered bridge.  Between my overly aggressive pace the past two miles and now hitting the rock gardens, I was already feeling the effects and had to slow a bit.  Jonny and Jackman were about 100 yards ahead of me, but this was to be the last time I'd see them.

Mile 4:  6:37.  I could no longer see anyone in front of me, but heard footsteps pretty close behind me.  

Mile 5:  6:38.  On Buckeye Brook Road now, just after the water stop.  I can hear someone coming right up on me now, and I fear it's Brian overtaking me.  No, it's Tom!  What a welcome sight!  We're both feeling beat,  run together on the pavement, and although I ask him to go ahead of me going back into the trails, he insists that I go first.  Tom, Brian, and I are in a tight pack here.
Buckeye Brook Road:  with Tom, and Brian just footsteps behind
Heading back into the woods ...
(above photos by Beth Eckel)

Mile 6:  7:05.  There are about 50' of climbs in here.  My pace slows and I'm getting tired.  Someone comes up on me pretty fast from behind, so I politely move to the side on a wider section of trail and mention that if he wants to pass me, now's the time.  He does, and it is not Tom or Brian, but rather someone I don't recognize. (strange post-race story:  the guy passing me is age 25, but his sloppily scrawled age is picked up as "75" and he unintentionally steals the 70+ 1st-place age group from John H, whom we'll make amends to)

Mile 7:  7:03.  Final rock gardens.  I'm feeling slow, but at a switchback, I'm surprised to see I put some distance on Tom and Brian.

Mile 8:  5:41.  Exit on to the road.  I expect Tom to pass me, and that's fine, but I up the pace as I really want to hold Brian off and I know he's a faster road runner than me.  I want to just stop as my legs and lungs are asking me to, but just keep the faith a little longer.  When I finally reach Sanctuary Road, I sprint it home.  Finished just 10 seconds ahead of Tom, and ending up holding off Brian by 29 seconds to place in my age group.  This was my 10th consecutive year of running Li'l Rhody, and I'm thrilled to take another PR here, if only by 11 seconds.
About 100 yards to go to the finish.  Tom is behind me,
 as he's just turning off of Prosser Trail onto Sanctuary
(photo by Jana)
"Flying" into the finish.  Just a few feet to go now!
(photo by Beth Eckel)

Just an awesome day.  Tom made his Li'l Rhody debut.  Matthew and Jonny Eckel took 3 minutes off their already fast time from last year, and there were so many runners from WTAC out there.  Many many thanks to all my WTAC board brethen who helped organize and make this a success.

Thoughts for next year:  1) new age group - will try to go for a win; 2) sub-50 at age 50, or am I dreaming?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Weekly Log 11-Nov to 17-Nov-2013

Monday:  0

Tuesday:  5
4:40AM solo run.  Westerly Hospital loop.  So glad I got out there finally.

Wednesday:  18!
AM:  8 miles. Solo Li'l Rhody recon, taking a page from Jonny's book.  27 degrees!  Still shorts weather, but wore two tech shirts, gloves, and a hat.  Frigid for the first mile until I got into the woods and into a rhythm.  Ran this really hard, and was disappointed to find myself struggling and breathing hard, especially on the uphills.  52:25.  Not bad, but don't see how I could shave off another two minutes to get to my PR time from last year of 50:25.
PM:  10 miles. Finally got indoctrinated to Hell Field with a workout with FiveK:  5 x (800, 400).  Results:  (2:52, 83), (2:50, 81), (2:53, 83), (2:52, 82), (2:51, 74).

Thursday:  3
Durham, NC.  Run on paved path around hotel and industrial park with Jana.

Friday:  3
Triangle Park, NC.  Looked up on internet for running suggestions, and found a nearby "American Tobacco Trail", no doubt in recognition of the tobacco history here.  Drove just 10 minutes to trailhead.  Trail was well marked and in good shape.  Ran a short section of the extensive trail with Jana.
Running a section of the American Tobacco Trail today in North Carolina

Saturday:  4
Local trails in Champlin.

Sunday:  8
Li'l Rhody Runaround.  See separate write-up.

Weekly mileage total:  43

Finally, mileage back up over 40!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Avondale 5K

November 10, 2013

The real name of this event is the Westerly Land Trust's "Setting the Pace for Conservation 5K", but that's too much of a mouthful.  The WLT is such a great organization, as the protector of 29 parcels of land in Westerly, amounting to over 1,500 acres of open space, with miles of trails.  As such, I want to take opportunities like this 5K to support the WLT wherever I can.  Not to mention this is a flat and fast course where I thought I might have a shot at another PR.  Alas, that was not to be, with winds gusting to over 20mph.  Hey, I have to have some excuse, right?

17:51, 5:45 pace.  2nd of 84 runners.  Full results here.

Consistent splits, if not wind affected:  5:39, 5:48, 5:49.
Trying to fend off young Jonny Eckel at about 1K (0.6 miles).
Why does it look like I'm an old fat guy struggling, and he's running with ease?

Finishing stretch:
for today at least, the old guy triumphs putting some distance on his competitors.
Love the fall background setting.

A smaller team showing today,
but good results all around
This was my 31st race of the year, not counting many fun runs that I raced.  I'm doing slightly better this year at my goal of racing less than last year, but only slightly.  I'm feeling "raced out".  Likely my last 5K of the year.  Glad I ran this one in my "backyard" and supported one of my favorite causes, but also slightly envious seeing Jonny and Muddy's trail run on the Narragansett Trail today.  Looking forward to a number of fun long trail runs over the winter.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Weekly Log 4-Nov to 10-Nov-2013

1st full week of November.  I do enjoy running in the crisp, cool fall air.

Monday:  0
Planned day off.

Tuesday:  0
Really disappointed with myself for not getting up to run before work, my only window for running today.  Driving to the train station and seeing two separate runners in the dark did not help.

Wednesday:  7
Off to Avondale to run on Sunday's race course.  FiveK had a workout planned for us that really kicked my butt:
2 x 1-mile (5:38, 5:39), followed by 2 x 800 (2:52, 3:04).  I was completely spent by that 2nd 800 and just wanted to stop.  But, if you want race well, you do have to get in practice, so next up to finish off the series was 5 x (30 seconds hard, 30 seconds easy).  Really tiring for me, but I need it.

Thursday:  4
4:35AM start on local roads in the dark, wind, and rain.  I'd like to say I finally found the fortitude this season to "man up" and run early morning in the dark, but the reality is I had a partner in crime to keep me motivated. FiveK showed up and we got at it.  The first quarter-mile was tough with 20-mph wind gusts and getting soaked, but we got into a rhythm, and it really wasn't bad.  Average 6:56 pace, and even unknowingly banged out a 6:36 third mile.  Hopefully this is the resumption of many early morning runs for me.

Friday:  11
Double Down Friday
AM:  5 miles with Mike B in Barn Island.  Had all 1,000 acres to ourselves for just a fun morning run.  Saw a pheasant scurry right in front of us (fortunately no hunters chasing it), and some eagle-like bird with a huge wingspan take of in front of us that we were afraid would pick us up and carry us off to its lair.  We needed a Hammett for identification.
This was the size of the eagles we saw taking off from Barn Island;
just like the ones in Lord of the Rings that picked up people and carried them off.

PM:  6 miles with a group run of 6 in Woody Hill.  Started off at 4PM in daylight, romped through the highlights of Woody Hill, and finished up in the dark just after 5PM.  I would have liked to have kept running, but it was getting tougher to sense my way in the dark.  The mystery of the Wahaneeta gate being locked when we arrived and unlocked we departed was solved:  Westerly Land Trust advised me that they opened it for National Grid to come in over the weekend to electrify the cabin.

Saturday:  4
Easy pace, local roads plus a trip through Champlin.

Sunday:  7
Westerly Land Trust's "Setting the Pace for Conservation" 5K.  Separate write-up shortly.

Weekly total:  33 miles

Disappointing mileage volume; really want to get it up to 40 and above as a regular week.  On a bright note, I had a lot of fun running a double set of trail runs on Friday and racing with some of the crew on Sunday.  Ideally, would like to get back into Burlingame one more time before next Sunday's Li'l Rhody, which is always a good time.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Weekly Log 29-Oct to 3-Nov-2013

End of October.  Hard to believe just late last month I swimming in ocean triathlons.  For the remainder of the year, I'll likely have just three races:  Westerly Land Trust's "Setting the Pace for Conservation" 5K, Li'l Rhody, and Christmas 10K.  Yes, there are plenty of other good races, but there is only so much you can do, and I don't want to burn out like year.

Monday:  8
30 degree sunrise run around Winnapaug Pond.  Had to get the gloves and hat out for the first time this season.  Roads out to Weekpaug, and then finished the loop on beach at low tide back to Misquamicut.  The beach was just so "peaceful" (words from Beth on my Strava post).  Two fisherman and a walker greeted me; otherwise it was just me, the sand, and the waves.  Near utopia.

Last weekend at a family Halloween party, sitting under an immensely stocked private bar, my cousin said to me, "If I could die and go to heaven, this [free access to an immense and varied bar] would be it".  Interesting choice, but mine would probably be the the beach.  They can always bring a drink to me on the beach, but they can't bring the beach to him at his bar.

Tuesday:  6
Workout Wednesday moved to Tuesday for this week, and to a different location:  Stonington High School track.  Had to make sure FiveK was up for this, as the last time he ran SHS track it was the start of a long injury.  His choice of punishment for today was 10 x 400, with 200 recovery.

  • First 6 on track:  77, 77, 76, 77, 76,75
  • Last 4 on grass field:  73, 78, 73, and a near-sprint of 66 (caveat:  measurement 0.23 miles)

Wednesday:  6
I was dressed and ready to head out the door for a Burlingame run, when a text came in, "Dad, I forgot my notebook.  Can you bring it school?".  With Jana getting Matthew ready for school and getting ready for work herself, off I went to WHS, which then made more sense to change destinations to Barn Island.
No worries; I'm running Burlingame Sunday as a Li'l Rhody prep, and I love the Barn.  Mostly all single-track on my favorite trails, including Shot Shell Trail and Take the Long Way Home.  Ran the Stone Fort Loop Strava segment, but didn't come close to my PR.  I don't know if it was the cold or the work-out just 12 hours earlier, but I was really winded.  A great day at the Barn, and no hunters this time.

Thursday:  0
Spent the time playing with Halloween setup and fires instead:

Friday:  3
Woody Hill jog 'n clear.  Good news is I think I only have one more small section to clear to finish my Swamp Trail Bypass, then I'll be able to run the loop back to Wahaneeta without running through swamp mud.  Bad news is on the way back on "my" Obstacle Course trail I was really dismayed to find half a dozen littered and shot up Coke bottles and paint cans.  Bullet holes and leaking paint made a real mess.  Callous idiots!

Saturday:  8
Woody Hill.  Two accomplishments:  1) Finished the Swamp Trail Bypass!!  Only 0.16 miles long, but on higher ground, I'm hoping will stay drier and allow us to bypass the mud.  2) Picked up the target shooters' trash:  11 cans and bottles ripped apart, plus shotgun shell casings.  I shouldn't have to, but it was really annoying me.
Woody Hill:  Don't all clamor at once, but the Swamp Bypass Trail is open for business now.

Sunday:  11
Fun WTAC group run; our biggest yet at 8 runners.  Ran the VG Trail as warm-up for Li'l Rhody, and the tagged on a few extra miles through Kimball and Ninigret trails.  Finished up at a cool new lookout on Kettle Pond property overlooking Route 1, the ocean, and Block Island.

Weekly log:  42 miles

Week recap:  Fun and varied week.   YTD mileage goal is a disappointment, as I ran the math and found I'm running about 160 miles short of my goal.  That's substantial, but less races and more holidays in Nov and Dec still make it possible.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Charlestown Police 5K

Sunday, October 27, 2013

17:33, 5:40 pace.  4th overall, 1st in age group.  PR!  Full results here.

I've run this race most years, including back when it was run in August.  Billed as "the flatest course in RI".  I think the Avondale course might be slightly flatter as the Ninigret has max elevation 39' and min 10' (29' difference), whereas Avondale has max 23' and min 0' (23' difference), but certainly both are very flat.  Arrived one hour early, and gradually saw my WTAC teammates piling in.  Ferocious winds from yesterday were gone, and it was looking like a nice sunny day in the 50s.
Odd mix at the starting line, but soon thinned out

Mile 1:  After about 1/4 mile, the dust had pretty much settled.  I passed Action Acton, then Jay Seekell, and remained in 4th for the rest of the race.  Until just before the mile mark, I was pretty much on Jonny's heels, as were the two behind me on my heels.  Mile 1 split:  5:39.
Checking my Mile 2 split:
Greg H is shaking his head, telling me to throw the Garmin away and focus on the race

Mile 2:  This is the section going out to Route 1A, and then back into the park.  Distance is widening between the top guys.  I can no longer see the lead vehicle nor The Colonel in 1st place, and can only see FiveK (2nd place) on long straightaways.  Mile 2 split:  5:49.
FiveK in nice smooth form finishing up

Jonny in short efficient strides

Not sure that my bounding arms and legs are efficient,
but it gets me there

Matthew finishes up breaking 19 minutes
Now this Critchlery dude is just way too serious;
we'll allow it as he's en route to another killer PR

I'm not sure if this guy is trying to flap his wings to go faster,
or if he's just happy

Mile 3 and finish:  Turned into the bicycle criterium course, and am now going into the wind.  No complaints, as much less wind than last year.  I'm starting to get tired now, and am actually counting the number of turns remaining to pass the time.  I tell myself to stay focused and will myself to keep the pace.  Mile 3 split:  5:42.  I cross the finish line in 17:33, good for 5 seconds off my previous PR of 17:38, one year ago on this same course.

The WTAC gang.  Fast and fun times all around.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Weekly Log 21-Oct to 28-Oct-13

Monday:  0

Tuesday:  0
Lazy, lazy, lazy.

Wednesday: 11
AM:  3 mile slog 'n clear in Woody Hill.  Continuing to work on creating a Swamp Bypass Trail.  This trail is so short, so I really get a feel and appreciation for all the work that Mike Galoob does on OMF and other real trails he creates.
PM:  8 miles.  Made up for my laziness yesterday by getting out in the 45 degree drizzle for Workout Wednesday with FiveK. All distances approximate, as on grass fields, 2 each of 800 (2:46, 2:45), 600 (2:01, 2:10), 400 (74, 74), 200 (32, 35).  Note to 5K:  that second "600" was indeed long, at 721 yards vs 633.
Six minute break, followed by running the road course for Sunday at 10 x (30 seconds hard, 30 seconds jog).  Averaged 5:02 pace for the ten 30-second hard segments.  30 seconds sounds easy, but by the 7th or 8th segment, I think both of us were about dead, but kept pushing.  Really good workout.

Thursday:  0
Alarm went off at 4AM knowing that would be my only opportunity to run all day.  36 degrees and dark; rolled back under the covers.  About 5:15 when I got up for work, Jana asked, "I thought you were going out running at 4AM?".  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  I'm going to have seriously "man up", as it's only get to get colder from here.

Pretty pathetic thus far, 1 out of 4 days running.  Maybe I should go the opposite of Muddy's streak, and see how many consecutive days I can go without running?

Friday:  6
Woody Hill.  Thought I had the 819 acres to myself (as I usually do), until I ran into chainsaw noise while running.  A crew of 4 were cutting along the main north-south carriage road.  When I stopped to talk to them and inquired further, they said they were part of a temporary agency working with federal grant money to clean up after Superstorm Sandy.  Glad to see trail clearing, but it seemed they were doing the exact opposite of what DEM rangers instructed me:  don't clear all the way to the side of the carriage roads.  Some of the clearing is great (see photo below), but at this point, I don't think we need any more wide swath clearing, especially on the taxpayer dime.  Hope they stay away from the single track.
What a beautiful fall day along the trails in Woody Hill!

Saturday:  3
Easy and short local roads.  First frost.  Picked the rest of the tomatoes the previous afternoon.  Best year ever for tomatoes.

Sunday:  7
Charlestown Police 5K.  Separate write-up.

Weekly mileage:  27

Lowest mileage in quite a while.  One lazy week won't hurt me; but let's not repeat that anytime soon, shall we?