Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Blessing of the Fleet 2015

Narragansett, RI
Friday, July 24, 2015

This was my 13th straight year running this race.  While I do not have triskaidekaphobia, I still had plenty of nervousness bound up in me. When we left Westerly I was worried about the 81 degree sunny weather.  Mike B was kind enough to pick up our shirts and bibs earlier in the day in order to make for a smoother drop-off and transition to the race.  Jana dropped Mike, Matthew, Jonny E, and I off right near the start and we quickly joined Jonny H, Chris, and Wooley for a WTAC warm-up of 7.

Anomalies in '12 and '13 of pacing Matthew at a young age of 12 and 13.
Otherwise, overall a general slow tick faster in time.
How would I fare in '15?

A Goal:  sub-60, B Goal:  PR (1:01:32), C Goal:  sub-64.  Together with Matthew and Jonny E, we wiggled our way to about 6 or 7 crowded rows back.  As stated in Matthew's post, it was a huge relief when anyone with a bib number of 100 or less was asked to step forward into the makeshift corral.  By now the weather was cloudy and probably mid-70s.  The gun went off and the chaos began.

Out to Scarborough (start to Mile 4):  The frenzy of passing and being passed goes on for a mile before settling down.  I saw Jonny 'til about 1/2 mile in and resisted following him.  Fellow 51-year old Norm Bouthillier (Tollgate X-C coach) saddled up next to me to begin the long haul.  We were both acutely aware that the only other 50+ guy had just gone by (Glen G of the NRA) and when Stan Mickus of Mystic went by with his graying blond hair, Norm quickly asked me how old that guy was, but I told him to relax that Stan was in his late 40s.  We passed through our first mile in 5:47 and I was worrying that Norm was speaking so easily and chatting the whole way thus far.  At Mile 2 (6:01 split), I pulled up to Glen and said hello.  We ran next to each other (Norm had dropped back) through Mile 3 (5:52 split) and with headwinds at Scarborough Beach, I ducked behind a muscular tattooed guy to try to draft.   At one point I got to close and bumped into his leg, which through off his gait.  He looked back, made a motion with his arm and didn't look happy.  I backed off, but at that point he were turning off Ocean Road and out of the headwind anyway.  Passed him wide at Mile 4 (6:07 split).

Highway miles (mile 5 and 6):  This stretch along Route 108 is always my slowest and least favorite, as you have car exhaust, heat, and direct sunlight.  Fortunately, with ever darkening clouds and cool temps, I was able to keep my pace going (6:01 and 6:08 splits).  Part of that was also probably the continuing rivalry with Glen, as on 108 we switch first place amongst geezers 2 to 3 times.

Soggy finish.
(Photo by Jana)

Return wet stretch (Mile 7 to finish):  As we turned off 108 into the dark forest, I surprisingly passed Bob Jackman, who mumbled that he was out of shape.  Glen pulled ahead here for the final time.  The rain came down hard, I was having trouble adjusting to the darkness, and several times had to duck abound groups of walkers in the middle of the road.  Not exactly tangent running.  Mile 7 was a 6:04, but Mile 8 ticked all the way up to 6:14.  I'm doing the mental math that it should be pretty easy to beat my B goal (PR) by just maintaining a 6:15 pace, but then as I finish Mile 9 (6:11), I decide to throw in a new goal (what is between "A" and "B"?  A.5?) or going sub-61.  Bob Jackman passes me again in the final mile, and I'm just hanging on at a faster 6:01 pace to finish.

1:00:52.  48th overall out of 2,385.  2nd in age group out of 246.  Full results here.
With Matthew and Mike at the finish

Another Blessing PR!!  Psyched!  Finished just in time to turn back and see Matthew finish with a 6-minute PR in 1:01:42.  There was no one his age or younger ahead of him.  Turns out it was an awesome day for WTAC PRs across the board.  Hung around (sorry, Mike B for  making you wait) to 8:30pm to get awards and then catch up with Chris and Jonny's for a chilly rooftop dinner at Phil's in Wakefield.
Wearing a vintage 2005 Blessing shirt as I am really happy to pick up
a hard-earned award here (2nd place in my age group).
Picked up a pair of Nike shorts and a tech shirt as awards,
and a Del's courtesy of Mike B!

Now I get thinking ... I "only" have another 52 seconds to take off to go sub-60.  Is it possible?  Faster by 6 seconds per mile?  I'll be 52 next year and nobody 50+ went under 60 this year, and there's also the weather variability.  Hmmm ... we'll see, but in the meantime I am really happy with my time and PR!  My best performance this year to date.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Weekly Log 20-Jul to 26-Jul-2015

Monday:  0

20 miles.  To Stonington and back with Mike B and crew.
5 miles.  Warm up with Mike.  Fun run with Josh.

7 miles.  Morning 4-mile easy run in Needham, with strides.  Evening easy Westerly Fun Runs.

3 miles.  Blessing shakeout w/Matthew.

12 miles.  The Blessing!  Full write-up shortly.

0.5 miles.  Fat Clam Tri.  Write-up to follow.
12 miles.
4 miles.

7 miles.  Met up with Jonny and Chris for a trail run from Jonny's house.  Was afraid I wouldn't be able to hang with my younger compatriots after two straight days of racing, but after we got moving, I felt better. Took NSF from Burdickville, wound our way across Buckeye Brook and took new twisty mountain bike trails south of Buckeye Brook.  Had a lot of fun in general, but especially bounding downhill and twisty trails.  Deerflies unfortunately were in full force.  Despite me killing 13 of the nasty pests, I think there might still be a few of them left.

Weekly Mileage Log:
0.5 miles.   
32 miles.
38 miles. Light week of running, but back-to-back races figured into that.  With another back-to-back race weekend coming up, not sure next week will be much more.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Weekly Log: 13-Jul to 19-Jul-2015: Vermont and Another Year Passes

6 miles.  Chariho Fun Run.  5:30 mile, and then easy 20:39 3-miler.

8 miles.  Catamount Trails 10K. Williston, VT.
Tough 2-loop trail race with 600+ feet of elevation.  Total 275 runners, although most were in the 5K edition.
In 3rd place.  Tried to hang with 2nd place guy, but he was
just too strong on single-track.
Start and finish on grass here belies the difficulty of the course.


Earlier in the day...

Matthew in a rare smile.  Looks like he just pulled some prank.

The gorge was really spectacular.
At Quechee ice cream shop.  Fortunately, we didn't get charged the $10.

As opposed to what?

6 miles.  Burlington Bike Path along Lake Champlain.
Vermont-henge?  Why did we go all the way to England?

5 miles.  Mont Royal.

5 miles.  Running UP Bromley Mountain Ski Area.
Beautiful views from our mountain run.

Cooling off in a water slide

Traversing the tree-top ropes courses with Matthew
was one of the coolest adventures on the vacation.

8 miles.  Vermont Run for the Cure 10K. 38:56.  3rd overall.
10K start on a misty southern VT morning.

Finishing up the 10K race.

Awards:  3rd, 2nd, and 1st place overall.

Finished up the VT trip with some kayaking at
Stratton Mountain.

32 miles!  Birthday run.  51K on my 51st.  Started out too late in the morning, as got home late from VT.  Broke this up into two runs:

Morning 25-mile solo run.  Last year I had great support with stuff stashed along the route, and Mike and Tom running the last half.  This year I went out with two GUs and winged it.  By two miles in, I was completely drenched in the humidity.  Stopped at fountains in Weekapaug, Misquamicut, and Watch Hill.  Felt good up until about 20 miles in at Watch Hill, but by then (11am) it was in the mid-80s with direct sun and I was wilting.  Should be an easy 5 miles back home, but I was getting dehydrated and overheating.  Stopped at Misquamicut Sandwich Shop to bum a large glass of iced water, and then shuffled the last mile home before downing another two glasses of ice water and a glass of Powerade.  Exhausting.

Evening 7-mile run with Matthew.  What a good sport he is!  I was clearly slowing him down with my tired legs going at 8 to 8:30 pace, but he hung with me.  Finished the last few miles barefoot on the beach running through ocean waves.

Weekly Mileage Log:
0 miles.   
0 miles.
70 miles!  Rare to be on the top of the Strava WTAC leaderboard.  Lots of running and climbing on vacation.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Sailfest 5K

New London, CT
Sunday, July 12, 2015

You know those times you go to a race thinking, "Why did I sign up for this?".  Well, that sums up my sentiments pre-race.  As readers may know, I don't like hot weather at all, and even less so for running.  The temperature was already approaching 80 degrees with direct sun as we checked in at registration about 8:30am, and having run this race twice before, I remembered both the two hills and that the course offered virtually little shade at all.  Went out for a short, but sure enough, hot and sweaty warm-up with Matthew.  With previous race finishes of 18:19 ('12) and 18:04 ('13),  I dialed back expectations to Goal A of 18:15 and Goal B of 18:30.  Time to line up; can we get this thing started?  I've got a lot of nervousness and try to tell myself to relax and just do the best I can.

Chatting with Matthew before the start.  Row 2 - center.
(All pics by Jana)

Mile 1:  After the typical race start shuffling, I settle into about 10th place at about 1/4 mile.  At about 1/2 mile I have momentary confusion as a fire truck is behind us and I can't figure out which I side I should run to as it's trying to get by runners with its siren on.  Otherwise, the first mile goes by quickly as I follow behind Matthew to a 5:43 split.

Mile 2:  The start of the mile brings temporary relief in the form of a kind soul hosing down runners.  The relief is soon supplanted by a 100' hill climb.  Near the end of the ascent, I glance at my watch to find a disappointing 6:36 pace.  Ugh.  The rest of the mile is mostly downhill playing to my strength and I'm going to have to pick it up considerably to avoid a total disappointment of a race.  I watch and follow Matthew as he passes a runner, then a second runner, and finally a third.  One youngster tries to hold on, but they're all breathing even harder and noisier than the aging gazelle, so this is a good sign.  Mile 2 split:  5:51!  With the hill, really?  Wow, OK, maybe this race won't be a total loss after all.

Looking like death,
but almost done

Hanging on the for the final strides

Mile 3:  OK, one hill to go, and then a downhill finish.  I reel in and pass one more runner on the uphill, and now I'm behind Matthew, although by quite a gap.  When I turn at the top of the hill, I can't see Matthew at all.  He must have turned on the afterburners, as in his place I see another teen that he presumably just passed.  I'm gaining on the teen, but at the final turn for the finish between the festival's vendor stalls, he looks back and sees me and sprints to the finish.  Mile 3 split 5:47.

Seeking relief

Felt so good.  Definitely a highlight of the race.
Final results:  17:53, 6th overall out of 235.  Full results here.

Super psyched with my time and relatively consistent splits!  Despite a number of attempts, this was my first time running sub-18 in more than 8 months, and I honestly didn't know if I had any sub-18 finishes left in me.  So how did I accomplish this on a hot day on a course with hills?  First, I tried hard to run the tangents, even bypassing a luring second hose spray.  Second, while I had no illusions of catching him, following in Matthew's footsteps on the hardest mile of the course (Mile 2) definitely gave me inspiration.  Congrats to him for another PR, with undoubtedly many more to come.  Glad I went to this race!

What's up next for me?  Two back-to-back double-header weekends, heading into a Half Ironman at which I'll probably ask...  "Why did I sign up for this?"  Race schedule.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Weekly Log 6-Jul to 12-Jul-2015: FiveK wedding week

I want to name this entry in honor of my good friend Tom Bousquet.  Many happy returns to Shara and Tommy!

6 miles.  Usually my day off, but how can I resist Matthew's request to run Chariho Fun Runs?  At my alma mater, the track is long since rubberized (it was a dirt track when I attended Chariho back in the colonial era), and is where both feature races (1-mile and 3-mile) start and end).  Ran the mile relatively hard in 5:23 and the 3-miler relatively easy in 21 flat.

6 miles.  Very humid and misty morning local run.  Soaked upon return.
19 miles.  Bike to and fro Stonington Fun Runs with Mike B, Matthew, and his friend.
5 miles.  Stonington Fun Runs.  Warm-up with Mike, then a chatty easy 6:53 pace run.

5 miles.  Easy pace run in Needham, MA neighborhoods pre-work.
3 miles.  Another day, another fun run.  Westerly Fun Runs were really hot and humid this week:  5:51, 6:07, 5:50.  Not my kind of running weather.

9 miles with Matthew to Watch Hill and back.  7:10 should feel comfortable, but maybe my body was tired or maybe I'm tired of the humidity?

0.6 miles.  Tommy 5K send-off with the guys.  Some of us swam, some hung out on the shore.  Good to see Chris join us, although well ahead of me.

3 miles.  Group run of 8, followed by Mimosas on the beach.  Thanks much to Mike B for organizing.
Pleased and honored to celebrate with the
happy couple!

40 miles!  Charlestown, SK, NK, Exeter, Richmond, and back to Charlestown.  Longest ride of the year yet for me.  Pales to Tom's century and Beth's 87-miler, but it was quite an effort for me.  Rode with Mike B and Chris.  We were really pushing it in a few places.  The hardest part for me was new territory:  Despite living in Richmond for about 15 years, I don't believe I had ever been on Old Mountain Road.  Now I know why - I'm pretty sure I would've been scared of it.  7% grade climbing 150' of winding road in 1/2 mile, but the reward was nearly three miles of downhill thereafter.  This was one part of the ride that I just could not hang with Chris.  He treated us to a cold drink and snack at a coffee shop in Wyoming, before the ride home.
4 miles.  No rest for the weary.  Despite the heat (mid-80s) and high-Noon sun, Chris and I quickly donned our running shoes for a road/trail combo.  (Mike had had enough of either us or the ride by now and bid us farewell.)  While tired from the ride, somehow my legs did not feel too bad on the transition.  We did not run a slouch pace, with splits of 6:37, 7:13 (trail), 6:43, and somehow a 6:19 pace on the final 0.6 mile section (uphill on asphalt).  Downed two glasses of ice water back at Chris' house before calling it a day.  Great brick workout.  Will pay dividends at upcoming tris.

5 miles.  Sailfest 5K.  Write-up to follow shortly.

Week highlights:  1) Friday swim/run pre-wedding festivities with Tom and friends, and wedding thereafter, 2) Saturday brick workout, 3) Sunday Sailfest success.  What a weekend!  Will try to dial up the running a notch before backing off a tad for Blessing in less than 2 weeks now!

Weekly Mileage Log:
0.6 miles.   
59 miles.  Happy with that.
47 miles.  Happy with that as well.