Sunday, March 31, 2013

Big River Half (er.. almost half)

Big River
Saturday, March 30, 2013

Final race in the 4th Season Trail Race series.

Had hemmed and hawed all week on whether to run the half or the 10K, as well as what effort, as I'm two weeks out from Boston.  Tom and I decided to run it together at a moderately hard, but not all out race, pace.  Picked up Tom and some ice for a cooler for Mike and on our way.  Checked in to pick up my neat bib and met up with Crutch and Jonny and Dave Seddon, and went out for a little warm-up.
How cool is this custom bib?
Note the WTAC team logo and 5-race runner designation.

The siren went off to start the race, and we had about 1/4 mile or so of double track, before getting into single-track single-file running, where Tom and I were just behind Aaron and my guess of about another 10-15 runners ahead of us.  Tom, Aaron, and I ran together for about 2 miles picking off a few runners.  Then Tom pulled ahead of Aaron and we would repeatedly sight and pick out the next runner.  We passed Kenny Shardley about 3 miles in, a couple of other runners, and then Seth at maybe 4 miles.  A lot of hills in this section.  Tom and I took turns leading, and we were really picking up the pace.  We passed through the first water stop in good shape, and somewhere thereafter inadvertently went off on our own trails.  We passed a tall shirtless guy with long hair just before crossing a river where Tom went in the drink.  We saw the red flags as we went up to what look like a teen hangout with rocks painted with drug slogans.  We beared to the left on the only trail we saw, and that I think from later talking to Ben is where we went off course and the trail supposedly went straight up a hill?
Running w/Tom alongside one of the ponds
(Photo courtesy of Justin)
We kept running the trail, and after a while it sunk in that we hadn't seen any red flags in a long time.  Looked back to see the long haired guy following us, so we trekked on.  It was when we came to unmarked trail intersections that we completely stopped and pondered what to do.  The long haired guy and Tom and I decided to head downhill and hung together, and it was a complete shock to me that we ended up back on the trail again!!  We continued on and next saw the sign for "Mile 7", which was then apparent we had cut off at least a mile of the course.  At this point we decided just to continue on to run the rest as a workout, which was our original intention anyway.
Cool running in pine forest @ Big River
(Photo courtesy of Justin)

Jackman came up on us and said "I think you guys made a mistake", which we acknowledged, and let him by.  About Mile 10, Jonny came up on Tom and I (the 3rd guy had dropped back), and we let Jonny pass, but with just 3 miles left and slightly fresher legs than Jonny with the stop and shortcut, we decided to run Jonny in and try to give him some support.  So that's exactly what we did - spied out for the 3rd runner (Principe), gave Jonny some encouragement, and the next few miles flew by.

Final stats from Garmin, which while not 100% accurate, are the best indication I have:  11.3 miles, 1:31.  Found out we were in good company of having run off course and getting lost.  While disappointed to run off course, the high marks of the day outweigh that:   great weather, good WTAC turnout, lots of great people running, familiar face at waterstops (an injured Muddy), I got the good workout that I came for, and just an overall fun ending to the neat series that Mike put on.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Weekly Log 25-Mar to 31-Mar-13

Boston minus 3 weeks.  The combination of getting my pre-race packet in the mail and starting to see placards around the city are starting to get me excited (and nervous) about the race.
Right outside my workplace (the one in glass):
2013 Boston Marathon placards are sprouting up around the city
Monday:  0
Rest day after monster weekend run.

Tuesday:  5
Chin Hill and No Bottom Pond neighborhoods.  Easy 7:31 pace.

Wednesday:  13
Morning:  8 miles on Pawcatuck quiet streets, including neighborhoods and River Road, Greenhaven Road.  Pushed the pace here to see what it would be like running sub-MP.  Average 6:27 pace.
Afternoon:  4.6 miles running with WMS track team "long distance" runners.  Coach Leanne had asked me before season if I'd periodically lead the faster distance runners on runs off the school campus, which I'm thrilled to.  The rules I had to follow were easy enough:  1) fill out paperwork at school personnel office, 2) go to Westerly Police Dept for a background check, 3) no running on Route 1 (crossing it is OK), 4) carry a cell phone and be reachable during run, and 5) everyone has to stay together.  We started out with a small group of 3 runners as a trial.  Matthew was one and gave me additional rules:  1) no running next to him, 2) no talking to him, 3) no telling my "dorky" jokes during the run.  The coach gave me a 35-40 minute guideline, encouraged short fartleks, and we're off:
High 7s pace winding down to Canal Street, turned into quieter North End where we ran 5 x [2 telephone poles hard, 2 poles slow jog], then ran stairs fast in the Amtrak tunnel (Muddy and Mike B hated me for this at the end of a 15-miler, but the kids said it was "cool").  Everyone stayed together until the last 1/2 mile for the hill climbs up Narragansett Ave back to the WHS track, when two went ahead, and I dropped back with the last girl (sort of like when Mike G was kind enough to drop back with me on the last monster Foster hill climb on our 27-miler).  Was momentarily concerned I might have pushed too hard, until I saw the 3 of them voluntarily run extra track laps and Matthew later asked if we can push the pace a bit more next time.

Thursday:  0
Was ready for a run, until I remembered I'm trying to keep my mileage below 50 this week as part of a taper.  Seems like a wierd reason not to run, but I'm sticking with the plan.

Friday:  5
Easy and fun trail run in Barn Island with FiveK and Crutch.  We ran on mostly single track, and finished up on Wequetequock Cove, where the sun and weather was beautiful.

Saturday: 13
Big River Half Marathon, including warm-up, and less the distance Tom & I unfortunately lost going off course.  Separate write-up posted.

Sunday:  4
Easter morning recovery run on local roads.  Felt sore and even a little knee pain.  Hope it's nothing; will take the next 1-2 days off to rest.

Weekly mileage total:  40

Week summary:  Successfully tapering down the mileage, although it requires a conscious effort not to run more.  Highlights were a mid-week 8-mile run at sub-6:30, and the fun if not off course run I did in Big River on Saturday. 
Looking ahead to next week, I'll continue to ramp down the mileage, probably aiming for about 30.  Maybe a mid-week 8 miler at moderate pace again, and then wrap up next week with racing the Clamdigger.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Weekly Log 18-Mar to 24-Mar-2013

Monday:  3
Legs feeling tight after yesterday's 22 mile run.  Went early to pick up Matthew from his first middle school track practice, and then I did a 3 mile easy shake-out.  Came back in time to hear from the coach that she had them run a beginning of season baseline mile, and Matthew cranked out a 5:58, the fastest on the squad.  Don't think there were any other boys that ran sub-7, which is too bad, because some male competition would help him.  Mark also made his high school track debut, but I couldn't get any details out of him (it's not cool to talk to an old man).

Tuesday:  5
Easy afternoon road run on Links Passage / Rock Ridge / Shore.

Wednesday:  10
Spring has sprung!  Today's challenge for you readers is once again to identify the three spring races in the new blog header above.
1st run of spring, running on Barn Island trails:
Ducks seen: 3, people seen: 0, asphalt run: 20 feet crossing the road twice

The temperature may not feel it (32 degrees for my run), but it's only going to get sunnier and warmer from here.  Running just a sliver of Barn Island with FiveK last Sunday had whetted my appetite for more, so I drove to the Barn and ran some trails.  Found a new (to me anyway) cool single-track; that should be my goal each time when at least I'm not leading a group run - explore and add to my repertoire of Barn trails.  Ran up against time constraints with the start of the work day, but had a lot of fun today on my 1st run of Spring.

Thursday:  5
4 x hill repeats (1/4 mile, 60', 5-10% incline) in Chin Hill neighborhood.  Noticed each time I chugged it up to the top of the hill and turned around that there were these two guys talking and pointing at me.  Great, word is out that the local freak is out running again.  Finished up and they waived me over.  Turns out I knew one of the guys, a Chariho teacher and former track coach, that brings his son to many of the Fun Runs.  Then he introduced me to the owner of the home I was running in front of - it turned out he was a guy that was e-mailing me back and forth on land trust trail clearing.  Cool! Small world!
They then suggested some steeper hills in the Chin Hill neighborhood, so I did a jogging cool down to check them out.  Shorter, but up to a 15% incline in spots.  Good to know - I'll be back.
Tried out Mike G's cadence test from his blog - was happy to see it didn't vary much and for whatever it's worth, I came close to target at 178, 180, and 186 steps per minute.

Friday:  5
445 Club, 28 degrees, with 5K.  I pleaded with him to take it easy on me today, so that I can live to run my final road long run tomorrow morning.  He kept to his word!  Ran from Tom's house down to the Cove Road area where he got me lost as usual, and we ended up on Fenway Beach before headed home.  Good start to the day, while Mike C is still in bed just dreaming about his day's run yet to come.

Saturday:  23
My final Boston prep long run is done!  Similar to six days ago, I was running a 20+ long run where friend Tom would be helping me run the second part, EXCEPT this time we were upping the mileage (both my run and Tom's), adding some serious hills, AND lowering the pace.

Part I:  I started out solo at Bradford School just after 6AM - dark, 31 degrees, and a little breezy.  Ran south through Bradford and then along 91 and Bradford-Dunn's Corner Road until I jumped into the Wahaneeta trails to traverse over to quieter South Woody Hill Road.  Looped down to Weekapaug, and then up to Tom's house for the first of two water stops.  Mile splits (1-9):  7:24, 6:48, 7:05, 7:34 (trails), 7:24 (trails), 7:07, 6:55, 7:09, 7:04.

Part II:  Headed off with my running partner through his neighborhood and four flat miles or so on or along Route 1 into Charlestown.  Not the best road, but not bad either, as much of it was on jug-handles and access roads.  Backed off the pace a bit here when we found we running 6:38 pace already.  Long climb up Klondike Road past Burlingame, briefly on 216, and then Buckeye Brook Road where the hills started in earnest.  After a couple of hills climbs, we reached water stop #2.  Mile splits (10-16):  6:42, 6:42, 6:36, 6:54, 7:04, 7:08, 6:51.

Part III:  I was so warm from the climbs that I ditched my hat and gloves at the water stop.  Time to resume climbing:  the hills just kept coming, as we ran the long hill up to the cemetery where I was ready to lie down there at the corner of Shumankanuc Hill Road, where we turned left and resumed the climbs.  Awesome views as went past Jonny's house and waved and bowed to the trail-master.  Left onto Burdickville Road for a long steep quad-killing descent before the climb up to Riverside Farms.  As we descended down to the river and into Hopkinton, I told Tom the good news is there was only one hill climb left, the bad news it was a mother of a hill climb.  Sure enough it was draining to climb up that last hill.  But once we reached Route 91, we hammered it on trashed legs all the way back to the Bradford School.  Mile splits (17-23):  6:33, 6:53, 6:43, 6:30, 6:31, 6:32, 6:02.  Yes - we kept our final and hilliest segment all below 7's and hammered 23rd and final mile at 6:02!  Awesome epic run.

Sunday:  10
Morning:  5 mile "recovery" run with FiveK.  "Recovery" is in quotes, because with these splits, it was more like a progression run:  7:31, 6:52, 6:40, 6:30, 6:17.  The good news is I didn't even notice or feel that the last mile was that blazing.
We followed up the run with 600 yards of swimming.  Somewhere in the middle, Tom's competitive's spirit came out as he wanted to try a 50 at all out:  he swam 39 seconds, I swam 45.  He was wide-eyed when I told him that Mark swims that in 26 seconds (although Mark later told me he swims it in 25!).  Tired, with form falling apart.
Afternoon:  5 mile run with Mark.  Wasn't planning on pulling a double, especially after yesterday's monster run, but when Mark asked me if I'd pace him at 8 minutes/mile for 5 miles, how I could turn down my son for such a fun request?  His track coach had asked for the mid- and long-distance runners to run on Sunday; I love Mark's dedication.  I picked a local course and paced him to within 10 seconds on each mile, until the final mile uphill, when he wanted to pick up the pace a bit - wow, that's my son!

Weekly mileage total:  61

Week recap:  This was my second highest mileage week ever (66 miles in Dec 2011).  That sudden mileage burst back in 2011 led me into a couple months of splint splints, so I'm going to try to play it smart now, including a zero on Monday (first day off in 14 days) and a taper down for the next three weeks leading up to Boston.
Clearly the highlight of this past week was running the 23-mile hilly monster on Sunday.  I ran a nearly identical course in prepping for Cox last year, and was thrilled to look back and see that I ran that at 7:35 pace, versus this year at 6:53.  Granted, anything can happen on marathon day (heat, wind, fuel, leg issues) to throw me off, but I'm feeling good going into it.  I'll have to see if I can hire Tom out to run the last 15 miles of Boston with me as a bandit!
Now, looking ahead to next weekend, my dilemma is what to do at Big River?  Take it easy and run the 10K, or run the half but maybe at a reduced effort?  I looked at my blog back in January for the only time I ran in Big River, and after 17 miles, my legs were pretty trashed for the next few days, so I'm a little concerned on recovery if I go out hard.  Any and all opinions are welcome.
The running is going well, and I'm looking forward to spring weather whenever it finally arrives.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Weekly Log 11-Mar to 17-Mar-2013

Monday:  0
A little sore still after yesterday's half.  Gave the legs a rest and the foot another RICE treatment.

Tuesday:  7
Champlin trails in the pouring rain.  Wind was much less in the woods, but not any drier.  As usual, the worst part was the short road distance home.  Arrived home soaked to the skin, dripping on the floor, and cold and raw.  Did I regret my run? - no way, good real life experience.

Wednesday: 5
Cathartic run after a stressful workday trying to put out fires while shoveling multiple streams of bureaucratic sludge uphill against the tide.  I really needed a run ...
First, I thought of going to the Town Forest, one of my favorite places, but I was going to need something to push me to work harder, so I took a page from the Galoob playbook and ran a 5-mile progression run: 7:31, 6:41, 6:36, 6:28, 5:54.  Mostly quiet streets, except leaving and re-entering downtown.  Relaxed in the Y sauna, and the world is now a better place for the day.  Keep up the running, friends - I know it makes me a happier and healthier person.

Thursday:  6
My earliest "group" run ever.  Some nut case showed up at my house at 4:30AM looking for a run.  Not wanting to let FiveK down, we went out for an honest 6-miler (average 6:45 pace) through Chin Hill, out to the Westerly Hospital, up the Wells St hill where we reminisced about the defunct "Healthy Harvest 5K" race, and East Ave to backroads through Rotary Park and home.
Googled the race and found in 2006, Tom won in it 16:31 and I came in 6th in a distant 18:55, but I had no idea who this guy was back then.  We both have busy meeting-filled days ahead of us today, so I'm glad we were able to get together and hammer this one out to start the day.

Friday:  3
The mileage alone doesn't reflect it, but good steep hill climb workout with exhilarating views.
Mike C and the rock trail he took me on today.  Check out that boulder just
behind him - we were headed up over that next.
Don't know my birds the way Jonny does, but I thought this hawk gliding
over Lantern Hill was cool.  He(?) was perched a few feet from us on
a ledge until we arrived at top.
Wish I had had more time to explore some of the Narragansett Trail that Mike maintains in that neck of the woods, but that will have to be for another day.

Saturday:  4
Springfield, MA.  During a respite between Mark's events at YMCA New England swim championships, got antsy and went out for a short run.  Tom warned me ahead of time about some less than desirable sections, and I think I might have gotten close to some but overall a decent loop around a lake.

Sunday:  22!
Loop 1 (10.5 miles):  Started off solo in the dark at 27 degrees.  Tough getting motivated.  Ran the Y to North Stonington loop.  Brief trail detour into the Flora Whitely Preserve, before crossing into Hopkinton on Laurel, and up into Muddy territory.  Into CT via Anthony Road, and back to Westerly on Boombridge.  Was trying to maintain about a 7:30 LSD pace here, varied depending on hills.
Loop 2 (11.5 miles):  A few minute break at the Y for a planned meet-up with FiveK and getting some water and GU, and we're off again.  Headed south this time, along the Pawcatuck River on the CT side, out to the end of River Road, and wound back along Greenhaven.  Ran this section about 7:00 pace or just slightly under.  We then took a short but nice detour through trails in part of Barn Island Preserve, and we really hit the ground running when we got back on the roads for the last few miles:  miles 20, 21, 22 splits from my watch:  6:33, 6:33, 6:23. [2:37:20]
Was really glad that Tom came along to help push me on the 2nd half of my run, and glad to see him running injury free at present.  Quickly downed a bottle of Gatorade he provided, and then we were off for our next activity:  swimming a few hundred yards at the Y pool.  He's a faster swimmer than he lets on, and any stroke/form improvement will only make him faster at Block Island.  Looking forward to spring and summer!

Weekly mileage total:  47

Weekly recap:  A slight decline in mileage this week, mostly due to traveling time constraints Fri and Sat, but still got some good runs in, including a few with running friends.  We're four weeks out from Boston at this point, so I'll be looking for a lot of road miles again this coming week before I start my taper.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Ocean's Run Half Marathon

Sunday, March 10, 2013
South Kingstown, RI

1:21:50, 6:15 pace.  7th overall (of 370), 3rd in age group.  Full results here.

My first time running this race.  Previously it had always clashed with a Misquamicut triathlon in September, which I couldn't pass up in my "backyard".  I was told this race was in danger of being canceled, so hopefully the move to March will bode well for the race.

Just one day earlier, I was limping around the house with a minor sprained foot, and unsure if I could make the race.  I iced and rested the foot a lot, and while not 100%, the foot was so much better by Sunday morning and back to at least walking normal that I decided to go for it.

Race-day pic of foot:  Yes, I ran on this ugly thing!
Swelling down, but still any normal bone structure
covered by this mildly painful reddish-purplish swollen contusion

Went for a 2-mile course warm-up with Mike G, Muddy, and Seth.  Any illusions of a warm sunny day in the 40s were soon replaced by the reality of a light breeze, overcast and somewhat raw just above freezing.  Back and forth over what to wear, I ended up with shorts, a short sleeve t-shirt, and gloves, and I made my way to the starting line.

Miles 1-3:  By the time we left the beach parking lot, I had settled into a position that wouldn't change much over the 13.1 miles.  For the first mile, I watched Mike G increase his front-runner lead, and then there was a pack of about 8 including Muddy.  There was a small loop turnaround at mile 1, and then you got to see the whole pack coming back at you - pretty cool to see runners you recognize and call out to you.  At this point, Muddy's pack started to dissipate and I picked off the trailing runner.  Mile 2 was a cone turn-around, which I usually dislike, but it was early enough in the race that it was fine.  Saw Mike G and Muddy for the last time, and then Seth just behind me, and the other 300+ runners.  Back past the beach parking lot at Mile 3, I was happy to see Tom and Dave cheering me on (they were both running the 5K, where Tom would take 2nd).

Miles 4-8:  This stretch I was mostly running with the wind, and I warmed up quickly.  I saw the same two 20-something guys in front of me for 5 miles.  The only person to pass me during the race did so just when turning into Green Hill Road.  Right at mile 8 was the biggest "hill" on the course, but at a 50-foot climb it seemed like nothing after recent monster hill runs, and it was here that I passed the 20-something guys.

Miles 9-finish:  Leaving Green Hill neighborhoods, the course wound back onto itself.  I saw Mike C and then sensed I had put some distance on the two guys as I no longer heard their footsteps, until ...
At the turn onto Moonstone Beach Road, I heard footsteps again and glanced back at the turn to see the same two guys again.  Noooooo!  My first instinct was to maintain pace or even slow slightly and let them pass, as they weren't in my age group anyway.  Fortunately, my second instinct was to fight and that won out over my earlier pansy thoughts.  1.5 miles to go as I picked up the pace slightly.  Uncomfortable and cold now into the wind.  I heard the loud speaker and thought I was at the turn, but it kept eluding me.  Finally turned off the road onto the last 0.1 mile field crossing.  Now learned the two kids were sprinting after and hunting the aging gazelle.  Sorry, boys, not happening today, as I was able to hold them off en route to a PR by 40 seconds!  Yes!

Caught up with the guys (Mike G 1st place, Muddy 3rd, Seth 11th), and did a 4+ mile cooldown with them, as well as Tom and one of the two 20-somethings, to retrieve Mike G's hat at an aid station.  We all warmed up going with the wind, and Mike and I left our jackets at a separate aid station on the way.  We picked up his hat and chowed on some of the food at the station (very well stocked with oranges, pretzels, animal crackers, etc - I had no idea during the race).  On the way back, Mike ran right past his jacket until I yelled to him to retrieve that, which he did, but apparently managed to leave his gloves somewhere.  Mike may be a talented runner, but I was perversely happy to see there's someone as scatter-brained as me.  Got my age group prize at awards ceremony, which was a neat medal, PLUS $100 towards any future Tri-Mom races.  Sweet!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Weekly Log 4-Mar to 10-Mar-2013

Monday:  4
I don't typically run on Mondays, let alone the day after a marathon, but wanted to try to shake out the legs a little.  Easy paced run through Misquamicut, including a short distance on the beach.

Tuesday:  4
Mews celebratory run with Muddy, FiveK, Galoob, and Jonny.  Mike started us out right away with a diet of hills (apparently we didn't get enough on the Sea to Summit two days prior?) which reminded me that my legs were still a tad sore, although the subsequent part on the DAR Trail was quite enjoyable.  Post run Mike C joined us for celebrating our Super 5K team victory with good food, drink, and conversation.  Based on the number of dinners Mike G ate at the Mews, it is apparent that either Becky doesn't feed him at home or he doesn't get lunch breaks at Stedman's.

Wednesday:  6
Nasty wind with a light rain.  Started out running through Chin Hill neighborhoods, then escaped the wind by running the trails in Mastuxet and Champlin.  The Westerly Land Trust crew had just cleaned up Mastuxet of large trees from the blizzard, so it was a welcome change not to have to crawl under trees.

Thursday:  8
Strong winds with light snow.  Decided to totally pass on a run today, and take a double tomorrow, UNTIL ...
Last mile on roads felt like this:  uphill into
driving snow, sleet, and wind.  Reminded me of
Yukon Cornelius saying this weather is
"fit for neither man nor beast".
On my commute home, got a text from my local partner in crime (Tom) that he was headed out for a run, and did I want to join him?  Got home, changed, and off we went:  4 miles on Misquamicut roads down to the beach.  We were really pushing it, and both surprised to see only about 6:30/pace - must have been the wind effect.  Next jumped into Champlin trails for 3 miles; what a welcome relief from the wind.  Pitch dark by the time we finished and I ran the one mile on roads home.

Friday:  11
Morning:  Pafford Woods - 4 miles.  Woke up to fresh snow on the ground and still snowing.  Already planned to run with Tom late afternoon, but was itching to get out there, and not on roads with sanders and plows (although kudos to Jana for running 3 miles on snowy roads this AM).  Was downtown for errands already, so went to try something different and close-by just over the CT border in Stonington.

New territory for me
Peaceful, virgin snow covered trails.  Small parcel (62 acres), but fun.
Afternoon:  7-mile run with Tom in Wahaneeta and Woody Hill.  Many trees down from the blizzard, but no where near as bad as from Sanday.  We're scheming to get back in there for a work party to clear some of the trails in Woody Hill that likely no one ever traverses except us.  Wet and snowy, but at least out of the wind on the trails.  The Swamp Trail was especially wet and muddy today; very hard to follow.  Took a fall on a bad landing jumping a stream on the way back to Wahaneeta.  Didn't bother me at the time, but at night now it's swollen with a little pain.  Icing it and hoping it will be better by Sunday.

Saturday:  0
Woke up to a purplish swollen painful foot.  Hobbling around today; not sure if a 1/2 marathon is still in the cards for tomorrow.  Let's see what a day of RICE can do.

Sunday:  19
Ocean's Run Half Marathon, including warm-up and cool-down.  Separate write-up to follow Monday morning.

Weekly total:  52

Week in review:  A great week overall.  Another 50+ mileage week, a really good race in the 1/2 marathon and Boston tune-up, fun running trails this week in what was likely the last snow of the season, and a fun group get-together at Mews.  The low point is obvious: injured foot with likely sprained ligaments; funny how an easy misstep on a trail run can set you back.
Up next:  two weeks of targeted big mileage with 20 mile weekend long runs, and then start to taper for Boston.