Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Rhode Warrior Half Ironman

Westerly, RI
Sunday, August 24, 2014

After much preparation, but never enough, the day was here that FiveK and I
looked forward to - a half iron in our own town.
Final finishing time:  5:17:50.  13th overall, 1st in age group.  Full results here.

You have to be an early-bird to be a triathlete (right, Crutch?)
Setting up my bike and transition area at 5:15am in the dark.

The swim:  35:49.  1.2 miles.  (I had 1.4 on my Garmin - does this mean the course was long, or I didn't swim in a straight line?  Probably the latter.)  Really wish they had rankings on these results.  While my swim time is certainly in the back half of the pack, I was happy overall with the swim.  I got into a routine and was pretty comfortable.  The houses all looked the same from out in the ocean swimming, but when I identified Westerly Old Town Beach pavilion, I was oh so happy as I knew I was getting close to the finish.

Thanks Jana for your support.  (Photo courtesy Shara)
Think we can get this sucker to do it next year?
... and we're off!  What a nice calm ocean for swimming today.

Sighting the beach on my final strokes in.

Yes!  I made it. (photos by Jana)
The bike:  3:02:55.  56 miles.  Best guess would be top third of overall men.
Passed many riders in the first few miles especially, and got passed only by 4, at least for the first half of course.  Even out of those 4, 3 of them had an "R" on their leg meaning they didn't do the swim and were on fresh legs for their relay portion.  One of them had thighs as wide as my waist, so probably a lot of power going into each pedal.  The last 15 miles or so the legs were starting to hurt, as the hills were just relentless.

Heading out of transition to start the bike
(Photo courtesy Mike B)
Passing thru No Sto
(Photo Mike Crutchley)

The run:  1:33:41.  I think just three runners faster than me during the run portion, including Tommy 5K.
Jeff Duda was at T2 warning me to take the first few miles easy.  Do I listen?  Well, I did for about 2 miles and then found myself running a 6:35 pace for one of the miles.  This is in the direct sun after the day's long workout already.  Backed the pace off to high 6s and then about 7:10 to finish out the two-loop course.  At one point, I passed Nicole who asked if I could use a rope to pull her along!  Finishing the run and race I was so weak I thought I would fall over.  Drank 3 bottles of water and about 8 cups of water (couldn't have been dehydrated, could I have?) and some oranges that tasted heavenly as they revived me.  Great day out there and very happy with my Half Iron PR by 8 minutes!  Congrats to Tommy and to Nicole for finishing their first ever Half Iron.
So where's the guy Kathy called up for 1st place
in my age group?  Turns out he's still out on the
run course and ended up finishing 2+ hours after me.
Oops!  She said she'll fix the error and adjust my
prize to be the higher 1st place amount.
Yes, we  both made it and both won our age groups
at that.  Just don't lean on me or I'll probably fall over!

Patiently awaiting awards and secretly wondering
how we'll ever stand up again

Hung up until next year,
as I move the focus next to Surftown
and Hartford Marathon

Weekly Log 18-Aug to 24-Aug-2014

Monday: 0
Rest day after another monster weekend.

5 miles.  Morning easy run.
Battle of Stonington.  8 miles, including warm-up and cool-down.  Legs still too tired to run well.  Came through Mile in 5:40 huffing and puffing, knowing I couldn't hold the pace.  Backed way off.  Not my day today.  Finished in 18:28, still good for 1st in age group and a bottle of wine.  Stayed late on the docks socializing; depressing that the series is over.

Westerly Fun Run.  Final week of the season with a 1-mile version only.  5:21, just one second ahead of Matthew, who already beat me earlier in the season at Bottone Mile.  The 39th season comes to an end.

Thursday: 0
Another rest day before the weekend half iron.

0.5 mile open ocean swim with Steve.
2 mile easy beach jog with Steve.

5 mile shake-out with Tom.  The calm before the storm.

1.2 mile swim (Rhode Warrior Half Iron:  write-up to follow very shortly)
56 miles
13 miles

Weekly Tally:
56 miles
2 miles

Monday, August 18, 2014

Weekly Log 11-Aug to 17-Aug-2014

5 miles.  Chariho Fun Run.  Final fun run of season.  Small crowd.  Ran the 1-mile course in 5:13.  Followed that up with a more casual pace together with Matthew on the 3-mile course.

5 miles.  Final Stonington Fun Run.

8 miles.  After a storm earlier in the day, ran 4+ miles to scout the Fun Run course for flooding.  Game on!  Came back in the evening for the final 5K on this course for the year.  Ran a hard pace of 5:37, 5:53, 5:42 per mile, respectively.  Jonny E trailed just on my tail the whole time (in fact, a tad annoying for me, but glad for him that I helped pull him to his fastest Fun Run), and then sprinted past me on the final turn.  Not a race; didn't chase him, probably couldn't have re-caught him anyway.

6 miles.  10K evening run with Matthew.

9 mile solo run through Watch Hill.
5 miles on our final Groton Fun Run.  (Next Friday evening I'm working the Salt Pond Challenge for the Town.)

17 mile group run with B, FiveK, and Garcia.  My goal between now and Hartford taper is to run 20-mile runs on alternating weekends and 15-17 on the "off" weekend.  Reality will probably be different due to races and life in general, but hopefully I don't deviate too much.  Secondary goal is to add increasing segments of MP into each, because if I don't train at target MP, it will be tough to run MP come marathon day.

I had a goal of running about 6:30 pace for miles 7-10 of Surftown course.  FiveK took the bait and we ran the first two at 6:20 and 6:15.  It was clear in the 3rd mile that he wasn't going to let me run at 6:30, and since we only had one more fast mile left, we ran it in 6:02.  Regrouped in Watch Hill for a nice beach run back.

50 miles.  Demanding CT hill ride with Chris and FiveK.  Mike B was with us for the first 10 miles or so, before he decided he'd leave the hill "fun" to the three of us.  Cossaduck Hill was the most brutal climb of the day, with the first part having an average incline of 9%.  As usual, Chris finished the ascent way ahead of us and was pulled over on the side of the road just finishing up a picnic lunch by the time FiveK and I finally made it.  Followed 201 through beautiful CT countryside up as far as Voluntown, then 49 back with a quick stop to visit with Crutch, before return to Westerly.  Cruised into Junque 'n Java on fumes for a refueling stop; this makes me re-assess my fueling plans for the Rhode Warrior next weekend.
Along Route 201 in Griswold, CT
(l-r:  Chris, Tom)

Chris and I had vastly different Strava reported elevations.  Really good article on some of the reason for the elevation differences here.

10 miles.  Finished out the day with a 10-miler with Matthew.  He really wanted to get in a 10-mile run in prep for his upcoming Surftown.  In the first couple of miles, my legs complained to me so much that I really wasn't sure if I could finish 10 miles, but I plodded on.  As with Saturday, having company helped the miles pass.

Weekly Tally:
50 miles
0 miles

Final race free week before the Rhode Warrior.  Got in a nice mix of serious long efforts, plus mixed in with end-of-summer Fun Runs.  Definitely feel did not train enough for Rhode Warrior, especially on bike and swim, but let's hope my current level of fitness carries me through the day.

The Blessing folks wrote back to my constructive criticism e-mail
(wish all RDs would) to advise they won't repeat this year's orange decal
and next year will be looking at some sort of "heat press" process
that supposedly doesn't cause the friction/abrasion.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Weekly Log 4-Aug to 10-Aug-2014

Two weeks with no races!  Yes!  Time to get back to some good old fashioned training, especially for Hartford Marathon.  Gotta get the miles in, or as I think Greg puts it, at minimum "time on feet".  Our Hartford Marathon WTAC contingent is growing.  FiveK got us on the bandwagon a month or two ago, and now Mike B is signed up, the Galoobs are on board, newest WTAC member Faith McDonald is running it and Jeff V is planning this as his next marathon.  Any others?  Matthew keeps saying he wants to run it, but he's a year plus away from Hartford's minimum age (16), not to mention his soon-to-be high school XC coach would probably kill him.  Still enjoying the summer season, but fall marathon season is almost upon us.

Monday:  0

8 miles.  Morning trip around the pond, and then the luxury of a low-tide beach run.  So cathartic.  If only for a moment, any worries and pressures melt away and I'm in a happy place.

3 miles.  Westerly Fun Run week #9.  Started out with a fast 1st mile pace (5:27), but couldn't keep it up with the humidity (that's my excuse of the day) and finished with a 6-flat and 5:57.  It was payback time for me taking two weeks off as the majority of WTAC volunteers had the night off with vacation and other commitments.

6 miles.  Morning 4:30AM hospital loop.  So refreshing to run in 59-degree weather!  Believe it or not, I ran into 3 separate runners.  Didn't recognize the first two.  Came up on the 3rd runner running down the middle of East Ave and recognized him as Jeff Vuono.  Ran with him for a short stretch.  He's planning Hartford as his next marathon - nice!

21 miles.  Up to Bradford, back through Charlestown.  Finished out in Misquamicut.  Was pushing a good pace on a Strava segment through Misquamicut, when cars were stopped ahead of me.  I pulled a "Juniper Drive" stunt and passed all the cars on their left (i.e., on the wrong side of the road).  As I got past the last car, I saw why they were all stopped:  a Westerly police officer in the middle of the road stopping traffic.  Oops!  Came to a hard stop, as the officer read me the riot act that cyclists need to follow traffic rules also.  He was correct, of course.  I assume at this point a remark like, "But, officer, I'm on a Strava segment" wouldn't have helped or may have just drawn an odd stare, so I just tried to smooth the situation by saying I was out training and didn't mean to cause any issues.
6 miles.  Groton Fun Runs.  Matthew and neighbor/friend Jonny Eckel came along as well.  Kudos to Jana for running the 3.5 mile trail run.  Finished up with dinner at Paul's Pasta.

19 miles.  Torn between a cycling offer from FiveK and a long run offer from B, I decided to give precedence to my run training for Hartford over my cycling training for Rhode Warrior.  From the Y south to Watch Hill, Misquamicut, and back.  Was happy to see Mike get his longest run ever.  Original plan was to run 18, and Mike seemed to be getting tired as we approached the Y and 18 miles, so I encouraged him to run 1 more mile to get used to running uncomfortable.

40 miles.  All right; time for some saddle time now on the Rhode Warrior course.  Lost my opportunity to ride with friends, so this was all solo.  Rhode Warrior as far as Hopkinton City, then cut Route 3 down to Hope Valley to pick up the return portion of course past Chariho and into Hammett territory.  I had intended the Route 3 section only as a connector, but it was really good training as there were a lot of steep and long hills.  On one such, I was going downhill at 36mph in 27th gear and just couldn't push the pedals enough to do anything but spin.  The Tomaquag and Woodville Road sections are awful for bikes; I'm hoping Muddy can use his Hopkinton influence to get the roads improved; maybe he can wink more at the holier-than-thou dames at Town Hall or something.
3 miles.  Easy jog from Old Town Beach down to Seaside back with Jonny E and my two boys to catch up on the day's running exploits of the two CT Mikes.  The younger boys pushed it on the way back, thus I got to spend some quality time with my older boy (Mark) having an unusually mature conversation on academics, college, and careers.  He even stayed with me back at the beach to continue the conversation between waves.  It was a nice change, as I'm usually persona non grata in places where people could recognize him.
1/4 mile.  Easy swim along the beach with Matthew and Jonny E.

Weekly Tally:
59 miles
0.25 miles

Monday, August 4, 2014

Block Island Triathlon

Block Island, RI
Saturday, August 2, 2014

This is my favorite triathlon each year, and one that I have made an annual event ever since Steve Schonning talked me into back in 2010.  Even if you can't name your favorite road race, trail race, triathlon, etc., odds are you can quickly cite some of your favorite events as well as some of your least favorite.  So what makes this one a favorite for me?  I know you're asking that question, so I'll tell you:

  • A tri distance ratio that is geared for me:  short swim (1/4 mile) and comparatively long run for a sprint (4 miles).
  • Barefoot run on the beach.
  • The whole experience of a day on the Block (OK, probably more of a minus than a plus this year with the pouring rain, but normally it's a pleasure to visit one of RI's greatest treasures, including the ferry, going out to eat afterwards, etc)
  • The low key home-town atmosphere.  Some may deem that a con, as the course isn't going to be as well as marked as TriMom or HMF events, there won't be computers for you to look up your results at the finish, etc.  But I like the feeling that you get.  The RD was out there in the pouring rain as well, playing 18 different roles, from checking you in with a smile, cheerfully answering questions, announcing race results, serving Gatorade himself, and he came up to me personally afterwards to ask feedback on the new start time and suggestions for next year.  Nice!

Each year I try to proselytize the WTAC masses and get more to join our quest.  I got Matthew to drink the Kool-Aid, FiveK was an easy sell when he was on the Block for a wedding a couple years ago when the tri was going on, and this year Mike B joined us.  Even WTAC newlyweds Kate and Josh competed this year.  Chris, you're next on my convert list.  You know you want to do it, so just block off the first Saturday in August.

And now, at long last, on to the event.  Did I mention it rained?  Mike B arrived at my house at 4:36:22 AM, and by 5AM, we had picked up FiveK along the way, had 4 bikes on the back of my car, and were off to catch the special 6AM ferry out of Point Judith.  (in past years, the race was held at 3:30PM; this year it moved to 9AM)  It was sprinkling when we left the mainland, but a near downpour by the time we arrived on the island.  We got soaked on the short ride to the town beach transition area, and I wrapped my change of dry clothes in garbage bags as best I could.  Matthew, Tom, and I went out for a short run on the beach, came back, suited up, and got ready for our respective waves.
The calm before the storm:
red swim buoy at 3:00, as ferry returns back to Pt Judith

The Swim:  13:44, 116th of 407 finishers.  16 different waves, 1 minute apart.  (the four of us were all in different waves)  Pre-swim we could scoop up polliwog like jellyfish by the handful; we joked about how much "sushi" we'd probably eat during the swim.  The water got increasingly choppy, but I got into a rhythm and actually starting passing people in waves ahead of me (you can differentiate by the color of the swim cap).  The abilities in this tri always run the full gamut, so even back-of-the-pack swimmers like me pass quite a few.
Here is the motley crew at BI Town Beach just before start of tri

The Bike:  37:35, 32nd of 407.  It's a downpour by now.  Didn't matter much on the swim and those that know me know that gazelles run in all kinds of weather, even prefer running in snow in shorts at 20 degrees to a 90 degree run.  But I'm a complete fair-weather pansy when it comes to riding and have no experience in the saddle in the rain.  Time to change that.  Nervous and abundantly cautious at first on puddles, downhills, and sharp turns where the bike skidded upon braking, but as with the swim, I got into a rhythm after a bit and actually averaged 19.8 mph, even with the slow steep airport hill climb.  The whole course is two loops of continuously rolling countryside.

The Run:  26:55, 5th of 407.  Once I could finally locate my bike in transition, was happy to hang up the bike, lose the shoes, and hit the beach for a run.  I started in Wave 15 (of 16), so I had a lot of people to pass.  No one passed me; I lost count of the people I passed somewhere after 70 with a long ways to go.  It's really fun to pick off runner after runner.  Miles 1 and 2 were 6:28 and then 6:39 into the wind.  Mile 3 was into a driving rain and headwind and slowed me down to 6:45.  Just before the turnaround, I passed perennial 50s-age-group winner Mark Burbelo, and not knowing there was no one left ahead of me in my new geezer age group, I continued to pour it on.  Turned around and now going with the wind gave all I had to run the 4th and final mile in 5:55.

Finishing time 1:22:08.  18th overall, and 1st in my age group!  Full results here.
My hard-earned and much coveted award:
engraved mug for 1st place in age group

Other WTAC performances:
  • Matthew took 1st in his age group.  The awards only go 1-deep and when someone mentioned father and son both took their age groups, it was a proud moment for me.
  • Tommy 5K had a great performance, and got so closely edged out for winning his age group.  A mere 17 seconds!
  • Mike B was looking really strong and fast on the run.  He was either having a great run, or he was coming after me to seek vengeance for dragging him to this soakfest.
  • Steve was looking much better on the run than the hobbling he was doing at Crabman.  Hope that's a good sign of things to come.
  • His wife Polly scored an age group win.
  • Josh was the fastest of all of us on the bike.
This is my "white trash" team,
 everyone all decked out in the latest black garbage fashion trend,
as we start the ride back into town in pouring rain and strong winds
(left to right:  Matthew, Mike B, FiveK)

Not long after finishing, I was shivering and starting to shake.  A hot shower and dry clothes did the trick, and then we were off to lunch at the National and a brief stop at a hippie coffee shop before the ferry home.  Even with the pouring rain, all turned out OK and I'm already looking forward to next year's BI Tri.

Weekly Log 28-Jul to 3-Aug-2014

Getting a little behind on my blogging here, although at least I'm still keeping it up, unlike some of my running friends, and one in particular!  As we cruise into August, I'm at 1,312 miles on the year, for a pro-rated 150 miles ahead of schedule on my 2K mile goal for 2014.

Monday:  0

5 miles.  Stonington Fun Run.

12 miles.  Ride with Matthew along the coast.
3 miles.  Westerly Fun Run.  Ran this hard.  Really happy to achieve a 5:34 average pace here.

Thursday:  0
Long day in Boston until late at night (always easy to find excuses, isn't it?)

12 miles.  Easy solo brick.
2 miles.

1/4 mile.  Block Island Tri.  Write-up to follow shortly.
13 miles.
5 miles.

15 miles.  Group training run w/FiveK & B.  Just when I thought B would never run with us again after we dragged him to yesterday's BI Soakfest, my hometown boys came back for some more punishment.

Typically I run Run 4 Kerri, as I have the past few years.  It's a big local race with a great cause of scholarships in memory of a SK runner who tragically died in her teens.  Some of my WTAC brethren (Chris, Crutch, etc) were running this, and Kerri's father rides on my train most days as an Amtrak police officer.  This year I wanted to take a break from all the races, and my long run department is sorely deficient.
Had to dump this shirt on side of the road early in the run.  Was hoping to wear it
with pride, but the orange semi-circle decal was just abrasive in the upper chest /
nipple area.  Will relegate this to the non-running shirt pile.

Tommy Trails (isn't that what he's known for?!) took us down some dirt roads and trails in Haversham that I had never put foot on.  Deep, dark woods with a few houses and summer camps dotted along the pond, punctuated by log cabins, big tracts of land, and odd wooden troughs criss-crossing the road to allow run-off.  Interesting place.  FiveK had this notion that he was going to add on his Haversham section early, and then bail on us in the 10-12 range, but we wouldn't hear of it.  (Just like he got us into the Hartford Marathon, and now is having second thoughts himself!)  Wound through Weekapaug, Misquamicut, and up towards Avondale before finishing out on hills on No Bottom Pond neighborhood.  Despite insisting he wasn't up for 15, FiveK was out in front and strong while us old guys (I know, Mike B is saying "speak for yourself") were dragging up the rear.

Weekly Tally:
30 miles
37 miles
0.3 miles

Another low run mileage week nowhere near my targets.  Glad to have the next couple of weeks race free to get back at it.  In the meantime, you have to have fun, too, and it's been a blast these past couple of race weekends.