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.