Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Weekly Log 23-Sep to 29-Sep-2013

A new season launches a new blog header with a new quiz to see who can identify the race in each of the three photos from Fall 2012.  I've put away my swim gear for the year, cleaned the bike and put that away, and have accepted that summer is over.  Looking forward to some fun fall road races and trail runs.

Monday:  day off

3 mile evening slog in the dark after Matthew's 1st X-C meet.  Meet vs Jamestown and Exeter-West Greenwich (EWG).  Matthew took it out smart, as the first time he passed us he was about in 7th place (of 52).  Yelled for him to get higher in the pack before entering the woods, and by the far end of the field saw him in 3rd place behind two EWG runners.  After the next loop, he was in 1st with a runner about 100 yards behind him.  At end of second loop and finish, there weren't nobody in sight in behind him.  Next runner finished 51 seconds after him!  Great 1st meet; much tougher competition awaits Friday at statewide Ocean State Invitational.

14 miles:  3 warm-up, 9 at sub-MP (kept to a tight band of 6:18 - 6:24 pace), and 2 cool-down.  Final prep before Smuttynose.  Taking it easier from here to marathon day in 11 days.

9 miles.  Ninigret Park speedwork session with FiveK.  I think this will be evolving into Workout Wednesday going forward; had to adjust the day this week.  After a warm-up, workouts on grass:

  • 3 x 1,000 meters (actually 965 on GPS):  3:23, 3:18, 3:25
  • 3 x 500 meters (515 on GPS):  1:40, 1:40, 1:40 (probably could never get that consistency again)
  • 3 x 200 meters

5 miles solo on Barn Island trails.  I love the trails out here.  Wished I had had more time before the onslaught of meetings.  Will be spending more time here in the fall and winter for sure.

8 miles.  Carter Preserve, Charlestown.  In what I hope will be a return to fall/winter Saturday morning group runs, we had six of us out here this morning!  Mike B, Muddy, Jonny, "Action" Acton, newest WTAC member Nate, and me.  45 degrees at start, but I felt quite warm the whole time except for in the Grassland, where it's notoriously cold.  Pushed it hard for a Grassland Mile CCW segment that Jonny created; 1 mile at 5:21.  Happy that I was able to keep up with Jonny (he must have been taking it easy on me!), and Muddy was out ahead of us all.
Good fun.  Discussion on next run (2 weeks out?) of Grills Preserve, and rotating choices thereafter.

5 miles.  Running with the Lions 5K, Misquamicut.  17:57, 5:47 pace.  2nd overall.  Full results here.

Made a last minute decision with Matthew to run this race a mile from my house.  Texted local runner FiveK, and he and his friend Shara joined us.  Sign up registration process was less than the usual well oiled machine we see at larger races, but with very small field (42), there were no issues.  The Lions, like many other small races, really need to work on their marketing if the race is to survive and grow.

First mile was into the wind and when I got my first split of 5:50 (near Westerly Town Beach), I knew today was not a PR possibility.  Turn around on Atlantic Ave and a bit of tailwind helped me get negative split on the race overall, as mile 2 was 5:56, and mile 3 was 5:39.  Really nice food spread and sitting outdoors on the beach on comfy chairs on a beautiful Indian summer day didn't hurt either.
Top 4 finishers of today's race!

Weekly run mileage:  40

Week recap:
Plenty of highlights this week, including return to group trail runs, a good speedwork session, and vicariously watching Matthew run his X-C races.  Taper week next week going into Smuttynose, and then looking forward to a lot of fall fun.

Monday, September 23, 2013

OCY Triathlon

Sunday, September 22, 2013

1:18:01, 19th place of 119.  2nd in age group.  Full results here.

Awoken at 4AM by a deluge of rain outside.  Not looking good for the tri start in 4 1/2 hours.  Get up for good just after 6AM; rain not as heavy but still a steady rain.  Normally I ride my bike to the start, but with the weather, opt to catch a ride with Jana as she's volunteering starting at 7:30AM.  Driving on Atlantic Ave confirms the flooding that FiveK had advised me of earlier by phone.

The usual towel layouts at transition are replaced by many plastic garbage bags to keep things dry, and fortunately I've brought my own to cover my own layout.  I have plenty of time and catch up with others, as I get out of the rain.  They've announced almost time for national anthem and then walk to the start and it finally dawns on me (I'm a little slow) that there's no FiveK here.  I go into transition to look for him and I see a very frazzled FiveK walking/running his bike and equipment in trying to get a spot at the last moment.  Due to a communication mix-up on race start time, he's running late and no small talk or joking can put the usual smile back on his face.  I do what I can to help him get ready and it's time to go.  The rain has finally stopped!
Getting ready for my swim

Swim:  17:29, 90th out of 119.  My usual back-of-the-pack slowness is exacerbated by swimming too close to shore, and arriving at Town Beach finish to find the final buoy is a ways out and I have to swim back out to sea to round it.  Damn!  Come out of the water right near a good running and tri competitor in my age group, Stan Mickus.  As we run up the beach together, I hear my name called out by Jana and then by my Mom.  It's great and supportive to see family here.  Then I hear a gruff voice, "Let's go, Walker", and I look over to see Mike Galoob.  Cool!  (his wife Becky was running today)
Start of my swim wave

Bike:  39:25, 22nd place.  A new course to try to stay away from flooded Atlantic to Weekapaug, but the 2-loop course this year out to Watch Hill has its share of flooding as well.  I brake on some of the turns out of nervousness on wet roads, but otherwise I had a really strong ride.  Passed about 20 riders; none passed me.  Average speed 21.3 mph.
Finishing up the bike on wet roads

Run:  18:36, 6th place.  Time to bring it home.  I thought I had a really strong run until I looked up my times later to find it was my slowest over the past 5 years, and almost a minute slower than last year.  I think I just didn't get going into my groove fast enough, as the first two miles were 6:14 and 6:13, but I closed really strong with a final mile of 5:49.
Finishing up the tri season

A good close to the season under less than ideal circumstances.  Tom had a great race with 7th place, and Steve 9th.  I'll be back next year.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Weekly Log 16-Sep to 22-Sep-2013

Coming off Cloud 9 from Surftown, I'm getting ready for OCY Tri this coming weekend, while at the same time trying to finish final preparations for Smuttynose Marathon.  It's a tough balancing act!  If only I could retire and spend my daytime efforts on my running and athletic endeavors ...

4 miles.  Post-Surftown recovery with an easy run from Wahaneeta up the trail to Fern Drive, east on Swamp Trail, out to Woody Hill Marsh and back.  Fern Drive Trail is overgrown and need of maintenance; hopefully I'll make good this fall on some clearing, and maybe even tackle a Swamp Bypass Trail.  Out at Woody Hill Marsh, in contrast, there has been some concentrated cutting and clearing.  Seems very methodical; must have been DEM.  On the Swamp Trail, I could not see any human footprints, but the prints of plenty of cloven brethren.  I surmise no human has set foot on this trail since my last run in the spring.  Came out mildly scraped up, but had a lot of fun.  Humans seen:  0; deer:  1.
New signage, and the new parking lot is open for business

6 miles.  Champlin trails.  Another day; another favorite trail system that I hadn't been on in quite a while.  Could have spent much more time in here, but alas, dinner called.  Again, humans seen:  0; deer:  1.

8 miles.  Workout at Ninigret with FiveK.  Running here reminded us that the Charlestown Police 5K is coming up late October.  4 x 800 on soccer fields (2:42, 2:42, 2:44, 2:42), followed by 2 x 400 (73, 73) and finally 2 x 200 or 35 second approximation.  Cooled down on trails that Tom ran as a youngster, and we caused many rabbits to scurry today.  3rd day in a row on trails; what to make of this?

5 miles.  Old Mountain Field trails.  Headed from Kingston train station to Narragansett High School to see Mark's soccer game.  With an extra 1/2 hour to spare, stopped in at South County Y and went to run the Old Mountain trails.  The trails immediately behind OMF were fine, but once I ventured further back onto the sections from previous years' OMF 5K, they quickly became overgrown.  At one point, got my foot caught up in some undergrowth (couldn't see the ground because ferns everywhere) and fell, landing in a nasty patch of briars that took me a little while to pick myself clear.  Followed the footpaths for a while until I somehow went off the trail and had to do some bushwhacking and rough guesses on directionally which way to go, yes across more briar patches.  Except for the briars, the rest was fun.
Tried to slip in to the Y as easily as I could with my blood and mud spattered legs, but unfortunately a few teenage girls at the entrance pointed me out with girlish screams.  Surface scratches only, but it didn't look too good.

15 miles.  Final brick of the year.  Counterclockwise around Winnapaug Pond and out to Watch Hill.  Pushed it as hard as I could on Atlantic Ave westbound, and FiveK took the bait.  Moved up a couple of places up on the segment, despite the headwind.  Good ride.
3 miles.  Newbury loop.  Descending pace:  7:12, 6:37, 5:55.

3 miles.  Easy and short Misquamicut shake-out prior to OCY Tri on Sunday.

0.5 miles.  OCY Tri.  Separate write-up shortly.
14 miles.  OCY Tri.
3 miles.  OCY Tri.

Weekly totals: 
Run:  32
Bike:  29
Swim:  0.5

Thus ended the 2013 tri season.  Run mileage lighter than I would like, but you just can't do everything (or at least I struggle to).  Two weeks to Smuttynose.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Surftown Half Marathon

September 15, 2013

This was the third year of the Surftown Half Marathon, and this year it filled to capacity with 1,800 registrants (1,614 finishers), plus another 500 or so in the new 5K.  Arrived at Misquamicut State Beach just after 6:30AM to a refreshingly cool 50 degree morning, and went for a warm-up run with Muddy and Matthew.  Escaped the insane bathroom lines and crowds to sneak down to the Town Beach and get a few miles in on Atlantic Ave. 
Massive starting line (from rear of running crowd looking forward)

Miles 0 - 5:  As with last year, the race start was delayed about 15 minutes or so to allow the masses to get situated.  The gun went off, and I followed behind Muddy and Ryan Woolley marching down Atlantic behind the police lead car and some antique truck, which while nostalgic, was belching noxious smoke – ugh!  Last year I ran this about 6:20 average pace, and this year I was aiming for closer to 6:10.  In the first mile, I got passed by two very speedy ladies, and in the second mile got passed by a guy in a Timex shirt.  That was it for the passing all race; I settled into 6th place and ran the rest of the race as an island, most of it not seeing anyone ahead of me.  The first five miles were right on the money and even ahead of goal pace on flat roads along the ocean:  6:02, 6:05, 6:06, 6:09, 6:06.
Behind leaders Muddy and Ryan 0.5 miles in
(photo courtesy Leanne Noonan)
Miles 6 - 10:  Couldn't hold to a 6:10 during this section.  Mile 6 was fine as it was still on flat Atlantic Ave and the fan support and familiar faces were great here!  Once I turned off Atlantic onto Fisherman and Shore, I had my slowest miles of the race. At the Fisherman water and GU stop, I heard one woman (referencing me) saying, "Look, it's another one of those same shirts.  That club is really dominating out here!".  A huge smile from me as I yelled back "Westerly Track Club!" (didn't have enough energy to insert "and Athletic").  Shore and Watch Hills Roads were quiet and lonely.  Never saw anyone ahead of me, nor heard anyone behind me.  Splits for miles 6 - 10:  6:10, 6:16, 6:20, 6:10, 6:17.
Mile 7 back at Misquamicut State Beach
(photo by Jana)

Miles 11 - finish:  I tell myself just a 5K to go.  As I turn into the "hill", I glance back and for the first time see someone very close behind me.  It seems silly to even mention the "Ocean House Bump", as it's only a 50-foot climb and nothing compared to the climbs Jonny is making out on the Pisgah trail race today in NH, but just the same I prepare for it by shortening my stride and slowly the pace just a tad.  I catch my breath at the top and am able to pick it up again for the last few miles, have my fastest mile all day on Mile 13, and widen my gap over the guy chasing me.  Splits for final miles:  6:05, 6:09, 6:00.
Mile 13

The finish line!
(photo by Leanne)

Final official time 1:21:28, for an average pace of 6:14.  PR by 22 seconds!  6th overall out of 1,614. 1st in age group.  

Really thrilled with my finish.  Post race celebrations included catching up with Matthew and his awesome results on his debut half-marathon, jumping in the ocean with Muddy, schmoozing with the rest of WTAC runners at awards (except Mike B - where did he disappear to?), and catching up with BLS at the beer tent.

Notable achievements:
  • Muddy with the overall WIN!  Just awesome!
  • Matthew (excuse the proud Dad moment here) just killing it with a 6:43 average pace and 26th overall!  He was looking to run "sub 7:30", but exceeded all those expectations and more, by even surpassing his Blessing pace.
  • Lots of WTAC singlets and PRs out there, including Seth, Crutch, and 1st timer Ryan Noonan.  Great to be part of a cool and growing local running club.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Weekly Log 9-Sep to 15-Sep-2013: Stavros Beach Run and Surftown Prep

Between recuperating from FirmMan and backing off for Surftown, this will be a pretty light running and riding week for me.  Just starting to get into the Fall racing season, and I'm loving it.

Monday:  0
Hobbling around from yesterday's FirmMan endurance event.

5 miles total.  Charlie Stavros Memorial On the Beach Run.  Results here.
Start of the 2013 Stavros Beach Run
Two days after FirmMan, the question for me was never about racing the beach run, but rather whether I would be able to run it at all.  In the morning, I was leaning against it still feeling this large "rock" in my right calf from where my leg had cramped and spasmed.  But by evening, I went for a short jog on the beach and thought I'd give it a go.  This is after all my "backyard" and one of my favorite places to run.

We had a small field of 39 runners, and have always said we prefer a smaller, more intimate gathering for this WTAC summer season finale.  As my feet are used to running on the beach barefoot during the summer, it was an easy choice to again skip the running shoes (especially since I had left them at home!).  Mike G and Chris G made the trek down to Westerly and took off in the lead with FiveK and another future WTAC convert that I later met, Nate.  Who's that in 4th place?  Well, it's Matthew ripping off low 6s on the beach!  He asked me at the start what I was intending for a pace, and when I replied about 6:45, he blew past me as he wasn't going to stand for that!
I'm in my "happy spot":  running on the beach.
 My blog readers and running friends may know that I generally don't like out-and-backs and cone turnarounds, but this race is different and besides, logistically you couldn't do much different if you wanted all beach.  I loved seeing the leaders take it out, slapped hands with our turn-around crew of Critchlery and Leanne Noonan, and as always had a blast seeing the runners on the return trip.  Since I was taking it "easier" today, I took more time to clap and cheer on fellow runners as well.  First two miles were at 6:45 pace, and for the final mile, I picked it up to just sub 6:30.  When I tried to push any faster than that, the "rock" in my leg acted up and told me to take it easy, so I just ran at shoreline edge, even through the water, just soaking in the beautiful surroundings and fun event.
Looking down Atlantic Ave at end of tonight's run:
The sun has set on the WTAC summer run series,
but we'll be back again next year!

18 miles.  After a really frustrating afternoon of work, I was [barely] able to get in a ride with Steve and FiveK.  Start was from my house, and I had to send them off on their own at first as I dealt with work issues, but thankfully got the ride in as I needed a stress buster by then.  Got another flat (2 in same week) on Atlantic, but by then I was just happy to be out riding.  Really pushed Atlantic eastbound hard to average 25.7mph.  Yes, that's with a bit of a tailwind, but I'll take it.  Really fun.

Thursday:  0

5 miles in Watch Hill with FiveK and Matthew running mostly on Surftown course roads.

3 miles solo jog.  Surftown shake-out.

19.  Surftown!  See separate write-up.

Weekly totals:
Run:  32 miles
Bike:  18
Swim:  --

I wish I had swam and biked more, but I just can't do it all.  A really fun week with Stavros Beach Run and Surftown Half Marathon.  Next week I wind down the tri season with OCY Tri and then focus more on Smuttynose

Monday, September 9, 2013

FirmMan Half Ironman Triathlon

Narragansett, RI
Sunday, September 8, 2013

A grueling 5-plus hour competition.  While waiting for word from me, my Mom purportedly asked Jana, "Why does Jeff do these"?  Hmm, not sure I have a great answer.  I suspect much the same as with marathoners, rock-climbers, ultra trail runners, people swimming the English channel, etc., for me the lure includes the challenge, the experience, and the satisfaction of completing a personal goal set fairly high for my own standards.

This was my second Half Ironman, the previous one being the same event two years ago.  Going into this, I had a single goal (no "A" goal, "B" goal, "C" goal like I typically set for my marathons), which was to beat my 2011 time of 5:58:37.

Swim (1.2 miles):  52:20 (232 out of 255 swimmers); 2011 - 44:33 (215 / 240).  Net 8 minutes slower, but since my overall position didn't change much, I'm assuming [hoping?!] much of it had to do with current.  In these long swims with serious competition, my deplorable swimming skills stand out.  I know I need coaching help if I'm serious about getting any faster here.  52 minutes is a long time to be in the water swimming constantly, and not being able to get a drink.  At the beginning of the swim, with more than 90% in wetsuits, I remember snickering to myself of a blond 17-year old who stood out in wearing nothing but his outrageously small Speedo and a pair of goggles.  Yep, he won the whole swim - 23:33, less than 1/2 my time and four minutes over his next competitor!
Final swim buoys:
fortunately today the water is nice and calm

Bike (56 miles):  2:48:02 (55th place); 2011 - 3:28:38 (214th place).  Best part of my day.  Narragansett Pier to Charlestown hills to Westerly and back.  Took more than 40 minutes off my 2011 time!  Thanks especially to FiveK for joining me on all the training rides; they paid off!  Unlike last time dying before I even got to Westerly, I was feeling really good up until just about 10 miles to go.  The flats on Route 1 out to Kings Factory just flew by, and for every rider that passed me, I probably passed 4 others.  Climbing up Shumankanuc Hill, it was quite the adrenaline rush to see Jonny and his family out cheering the riders.  With the vast majority of participants being out-of-staters, hopefully he and his entourage enjoyed seeing me as well.  Didn't have any energy to speak, but rode close to his yard and slapped hands with Seth and Jonny.  Freshly charged from seeing Jonny, I caught the next rider that I would battle for the rest of the race:  "Mr. Newton" (he wore a green shirt emblazoned with a large "NEWTON").  I passed Mr. Newton up Shumankanuck, he passed me down Burdickville by Amtrak, I passed him on the Burdickville climb up to 91, and so it went...

Passed the Hammett entourage one more time back down the hills to Route 1.  I am certain if I had had WTAC cheering stations every 5 miles on the course, I would have done even better.  Route 1 to Westerly went fast, where the police stop Route 1 traffic at Robin Hills to let riders cross, and as I slowed at the 2nd bottle pick-up, Mr Newton passed me for the final time on the bike.  Last time I struggled with and hated the whole ride back from Westerly to Narragansett, but this time went so much better.  I was on the aero bars almost the whole time, and although the pack had really thinned about by now, I still passed 5-10 riders on the way back (and got passed by 2 - 3).  At about mile 45, I was getting really uncomfortable in the saddle, but I just kept counting down the miles and hung in there.  Just before turning off Route 1 near Wakefield, I hit some debris in the road and could hear that ominous sign of tire puncture.  Enough air stayed in the tire to make it back to transition, and when I got back from the run, it was completely flat.
Finish line I'll be crossing at the end of the run

Run (13.1 miles):  1:36:03 (52nd place); 2011 - 1:38:08 (30th place).  Fell apart on the run.  Should be my bread and butter, but I'm just exhausted and it's 80 degrees at Noon in direct sunlight.  Ran the first 4 miles about 6:50 pace - mistake, unsustainable!  At mile 2, a car stopped next to me before turning into a driveway.  Good, thank you for stopping - no, now as I'm crossing the driveway, despite yells from volunteers for her to stop, she turns into the driveway.  Ugh!  I end up running a ways into her lawn to avoid getting hit and in the process I completely miss a water stop.  The runner just ahead of me witnesses this and gives me what water is left in his cup - awesome!  Reminds me of the runner that gave Muddy a gel in the middle of one of his marathons.

On out and back sections, I passed Elise for the 1st of 3 times.  She said her legs had just given out.  Reached Mile 5 and this was no longer fun or easy. Slowed pace into the 7s.  A momentary happy moment as I caught and passed Mr. Newton and saw him for the last time.  By Mile 8 turn-around; my fuel gauge was on Empty.  The urge to walk was real strong, especially seeing quite a few runners walking now.  I kept trodding on until Mile 11, where I was feeling like I was going to faint and throw up.  Walked through the water stop and up a small hill.  As with times I've walked in marathons, I was afraid I would be walking/jogging the rest of the route, but the short break and refuel was just enough to keep running the rest of the race, albeit by now at about 7:45 pace.

The final 1/4 mile is on heavy thick sand on the beach.  I can see the finish line now and spectators are lining both sides of the run course leading to it.  All of a sudden, a rather large, older woman steps right into the run path!  The guy on the megaphone yells for her to get off the course, I try to move left out of her way, but she moves the same direction - COLLISION!  I'm running; she is just standing there; something about the physics law "For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction" takes place, and she goes flying down into the sand as I run to the finish line.  Do I attract idiots? (Mike B, it's a rhetorical question, but feel free to respond anyway.)  Sorry, lady, I feel bad, but you left me nowhere to go.

Final Results:  5:23:16 (52nd place); 2011 - 5:58:37 (161st place).  Full results here.  PR by over 35 minutes!  I crossed the finish line, ate about 6 pieces of watermelon, and as I walked back to the ocean to cool off, my legs cramped and started to spasm as they gave out and I fell on the shoreline and just lay there until my calves subsided enough to get up.  Spent the rest of the day eating everything in sight, and hobbling around, especially on stairs!

I'm dubious for running the beach race Tuesday, but the next three races will be easy by comparison:  Surftown Half, OCY Tri, Smuttynose Marathon (yes, even that should be easier for me!).  Will have to seriously reconsider whether I would or could ever do a full Ironman, but for today, I'm thrilled with my FirmMan outcome!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Weekly Post 2-Sep to 8-Sep-2013

Depressing that the summer is coming to an end, and beaches closing for the season.  Closed out August tracking about 80 miles behind my 2,200 run miles goal for 2013, but run miles should increase after tri season ends.
At least it's "Happy New Shoes week":
got 425 miles out of the last pair of 890 V2,
will be running in these 890 V3s for major Fall races
Hopefully the next 3 consecutive race weekends (FirmMan, Surftown, OCY Tri) will soften the end of summer.

6 miles.  White Rock Labor Day run in the fog and light rain.  Dropped Mark off for WHS soccer practice at 7:45AM, and took advantage of running from a different location.  Legs feeling lethargic after a few consecutive days of heavy mileage running and riding.

5 miles.  Train running 1 hour late.  Back to sleep or out to run?  Both - lay in bed another 15 minutes, then drove to Y, and ran up to WHS.  Went right past the Muddy-mobile; he is a man true to his word of getting in early as his was the only vehicle in the faculty parking lot.  Ran two 400s on the track:  68 / 66, dripping with sweat in the thick humid air.  Will come back on a better day.  Finished out on quiet streets and neighborhoods, before showering at the Y and catching the train to Beantown.

18 miles.  Morning ride out through Greenhaven.  Picked up my first ever Strava KOM on East Ave.  Woo-hoo!  Not that it will last long, but exciting nonetheless.

Thursday: 0
The old legs told me they needed a day off.  I don't think I'd be able to carry a streak like Muddy.

0.7 miles.  I know I haven't been swimming much, but I had no excuses with a clear sunny day today, and went down to the Town Beach for a swim.  Worked on my bilateral breathing again.  Other than initial goggles trouble, I just got into a rhythm, which is what I plan to do Sunday for a slow, but steady swim.

8 miles.  Run with Matthew:  loop out to Avondale, and back through Misquamicut.  His pick; his Surftown training is going well.

4 miles.  Shake out run down to the beach and back.

1.2 miles.  FirmMan Half Ironman triathlon.  See separate write-up.
56 miles.  FirmMan.
13 miles.  FirmMan

Weekly mileage:
Run:  36 miles
Bike:  74 miles
Swim:  2 miles

Week recap:
Made it through FirmMan, if not limping.  It's really tough to fit in quality running, biking, and swimming sessions.  The upcoming week should be easier with "just" a half-marathon next Sunday.  Looking forward to Surftown.