Saturday, August 29, 2015

Schonning 5K 2015

Westerly, RI
Friday, August 28, 2015

According to a Westerly Sun recap of the race, this was my 11th consecutive Schonning 5K!  Held in memory of friend and WTAC prez Steve's father, this is a great community event that I try to make an annual pilgrimage, but honestly didn't realize I had such a streak. After a short warm-up with the usual suspects, we walked to the start line and prepared for battle.  While it was a warm evening, the dripping humidity of late was fortuitously absent.

Mile 1:  Lined up in the front with Matthew and Tommy 5K.  The gun went off, and we smirked a little as a guy with earplugs and carrying a phone or iPod surged out at the front, as we surmised he would quickly fade as most of his ilk do.  However, we would be proven wrong on this one.

Race start:
Matthew and I sporting new green WTAC singlets at far left.
(All pics by Jana)
One of my favorite aspects on this race is running downtown through High Street with a police escort.  As we turned off High Street onto Main Street, we had formed a pack of five:  Matthew and I , and Tom, Mike Tammaro (NRA), and "Earplugs".  We held together in close formation the entire length of Main Street, and were able to run in the middle of the road behind the police cruiser.  The pace was fast, but manageable.  As we turned onto the quieter Margin Street, I felt like I was being dropped but picked it up to hang with the lead pack a little longer.  Mile split:  5:36.

Mile 2: The pack held together for another 1/2 mile to a turnaround at the cemetery entrance.  After the cone turnaround, there was complete separation as the pack disintegrated into five running single file, with me bringing up the rear.  This is the perfect storm for me to really slow down (as I did last year with a 2nd mile of 6:06) as the pressure is off now and the mile is slightly uphill.  Sure enough, at the run onto Beach Street, I check my watch and my pace is 5:53 and slowing.  Don't give up now; pick up the pace and maintain sub-6.  This helped; I indeed pick it up and finish the mile with a split of 5:48!

Mile 3:  Continuing onto Elm Street, I can see the race unfold ahead of me, and after some position shuffling, I'm thrilled to see Matthew is out front, Tammaro and Tommy very close and Earplugs has dropped to 4th.  With less than a mile left, I'm motivated enough to keep the pace consistent.  I feel like I'm gaining on Earplugs on the hill up Grove Street, but alas upon the final turn headed back to the Y, the vitality of youth (age 21) gives him the advantage of a strong kick homeward. I pass a number of spectators and Steve correctly points out that I will break 18!

Final steps before the finish

Final result:  17:46! (5:44/mile) 5th overall; 1st in age group.  Full results here (although I wish they would post on Cool Running).  Really happy with my race performance today.

Awesome WTAC turnout!

 I take in some badly needed drink in the shade, and catch up with accomplishments of many of my WTAC peers:
  • Matthew with the overall win and huge PR in 17:02!
  • Shara first female, with WHS running star Randi just behind her.
  • Tom and Mike B in the top 10.
  • Huge turnout for the club.


Monday, August 24, 2015

Rhode Warrior 2015

Sunday, August 23, 2015

My 4th half Ironman, and my 2nd Rhode Warrior (the previous two were at the FirmMan). 

Results:  A PW (personal worst) by far, 6:43:42 (last year was my PR in 5:17:50).  Full results here.

Arrived about 6am for a 7am start.  Having picked up my packet the night before, it was a quick setup.  I was on the same rack as friends Tommy and Shara (although they were doing the Olympic distance, as apparently they didn't want the full suffering effect!). 
Just before the start of the race,
with Tom and Shara.
(Photo by Mike B - thank you for your support)

I was late for my wave start, and that part was on me, although I wish the organizers had announced when we needed to leave for the L-O-N-G walk to the start.  We all remarked that the start seemed farther away this year, and a later comparison of GPS mapping bears that out:

Extra swim distance was tacked on for some reason this year.  Yes, as you
can see, I didn't exactly swim a straight line in my struggling, but this also
clearly demarcates extra distance tacked on to starting point.
Why was the start extended even farther than last year?
Swim struggle:  One half hour before the race, Tom remarked how the current was in the direction of our swimming, but Shara quickly remarked this can change.  How correct she was!  Mike B saved me for an on-time start with help with the wetsuit, and I was off.  Meanwhile, the direction of the current was changing, and I would spend most of the swim fighting hard against the current.  Last year I swam the course in 37 minutes; this year I spent a full 1 hour 25 minutes in the water!  All but 3 of the 62 Half Iron finishers would take more than an hour.  Towards the end of the swim, I felt like I just could not get past the Windjammer and contemplating swimming ashore to end this misery, but I plodded on.

T1:  Normally I run out of the water, but I just felt so worn out, plus the woman in front of me collapsed on the beach, so I just walked.  I was afraid mine would be the only bike left, but there were still a good 1/3 of the bikes in the lot.  Fought off the urge to DNF, and got on the bike.

Bike exhaustion:  Being worn out before I even started the bike, it took me a full 20 minutes more than last year to finish.  I stopped twice:  once for a pit stop in Hopkinton (couldn't hold it for another 5 hours!) and then stopped at the bottle exchange at Camp Yawgoo to fill up on water and Clif Shot.  Was looking forward to see Crutch for moral support outside his road, but he wasn't there.  Thought he said he'd be there and at beach later, but I also felt a little delirious at parts of the run.  Passed Beth about 50 miles in, as she was the traffic control at 216 & Buckeye Brook, but didn't have anything in the tank to even acknowledge her.  Sorry Beth!

T2:  Stumbled, fell, stumbled again.  Tom seemed worried about me and I think he came over to talk to me, but if he did say anything, I can't remember what it was.  Finally got the running shoes on, pulled myself up using my bike to hang onto, and got going.

Run - Loop 1:  After another pit stop, the funny thing is I was starting to feel good on the run.  A couple of times my pace dipped into the 6s, and I told myself to back off if I wanted to finish this thing.  Saw fellow Westerly runners Terri and Armon out on the course; we all tried to give each other encouragement.  For the first loop (of two), I smiled and talked to volunteers and police, loved the sprinkler at Terri's house and took advantage of it, and thought I was having fun.

Run - Loop 2:  Really demoralizing to turn around at the finish and start a second loop.  I have never been a fan of multi-loop courses for this reason.  Somewhere early in loop 2 I started to feel really weak again.  The sun was coming out of the clouds and started to bake me.  Took my 6th and final GU of the day, and alternated taking water and whatever vile electrolyte drink they were serving.  By Mile 10, I was feeling delirious.  I had talked myself out of walking thus far, but coming in to the Aid Station at Mile 10, I told myself to take a break.  Scooped up food and at least 4 cups of drinks, and now my big mistake.  Feeling wobbly, I leaned up against the stone wall by the aid station, but little did I know the stone wall was even more wobbly than me.  About 5 big rocks collapsed in my direction, and I somehow jumped out of their way.  I did what I could to roll the rocks back to the base of the wall, but the volunteers said they would take care of them.  A tad embarrassed, on my way I went.  Back through the sprinkler once more before my 4th trip down Atlantic.  Done at last!
I somehow managed to place
3rd in my age group.

  • Hometown race.
  • Great volunteers.
  • Clear materials and course maps on website.
  • Registration and check-in were seamless.
  • The police were awesome, yelling out "Great job, Sir!" and one running the detail at the breachway stopped my car when I was driving out only to tell me my running was fast.  (I didn't feel that way, but appreciated the sentiment.)
  • Sprinkler on the course was heavenly.
Room for improvement:
  • With a $250 registration, I would have appreciated something better than a white cotton T-shirt.  Past years triathlons with same race firm, I received sweatshirts, hats, and tech shirts.  (Full disclosure:  I used last year's award winnings to pay my race fee, but the sentiment remains the same.)
  • The swim course was elongated and ran long (even after figuring my less than a straight line).
  • We were told we would swim with the current, but had to swim against the current.  This ruined the whole race for me, and being worn out, it was just a Domino effect for me with sapped energy the whole race.  Why couldn't someone have studied this better?  Even glancing at the NOAA posted tidal currents for Weekapaug, I could see that the predicted slack water time was 6:47am, meaning at that time there was no current in either direction, as it was changing from a flood tide to an ebb tide.  Did anyone look up the currents, or just base it on the direction it was moving an hour before the start?
  • By the time I finished, given that they added a shorter Olympic distance this year, all the cut watermelon was completely gone.  I'm thirsty and don't want the dry food they have left over.
  • Crossing the finish line, we were handed bottles of 80-degree water (air temperature).  What many of us did was immediately dump out the water, and then fill the water bottle from a nearby cooler.
  • We were told we would be provided all of our splits, but as of this writing (more than 24 hours post race), all that is posted are swim times and overall times, no times for bike, run, or transitions.
This was not a good experience for me.  I'll definitely be back to Block Island triathlon next year, but would have to think long and hard about this one.  Thus endeth my tri season for 2015.  I'll keep the biking up, while focusing on my fall running. 


Weekly Log 17-Aug to 23-Aug-2015: End of Tri Season

Monday: 0

5 miles.  Battle of Stonington.  See separate write-up.

8 miles.  5 easy in the morning in Needham, and 3 in the evening at Westerly Fun Run.

3 miles.  Trail fail in the humidity in Woody Hill, swarmed by filthy insects.

5 miles.  High Noon HHH run on Rhode Warrior course.  Uggh.  Bring on cooler drier weather.

7 miles.  Road loop with Matthew.

1.8 miles.   Rhode Warrior Half Ironman.  Report forthcoming shortly.
58 miles.
14 miles

Weekly Mileage Log:
1.8 miles.   
58 miles.
43 miles. Tri season comes to end.  Will keep riding until October, with potentially two duathlons coming up.  Need to figure out my fall running plans as well.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Battle of Stonington

Stonington, CT
August 18, 2015

Over 200 came to the Borough on a sweltering Tuesday late summer evening to do battle of a different sort:  two laps around the borough for a 5K race, followed by drinks dockside at the Dogwatch. 

I arrived about an hour early to collect my chip/bib, ran a solo warm-up and came back drenched in sweat.  Milled about on the library grounds with WTAC peers and a few NRA frenemies waiting for the race to commence.

Mile 1:  Exchanged places with Tommy two to three times.  Ran pretty much side-by-side until Cannon Square (actual cannons used in the Battle of Stonington), where he pulled ahead.  Mile 1 split:  5:47.  We won't be approaching any records here tonight.  Let's just try real hard to keep the pace sub-6.
About 1/2 mile into the race,
with Tommy leading our pack and Tammaro on my shoulders.

Mile 2:  It looks like a pack of four way ahead of us, and a pack of four that I'm in (or just trailing steps behind).  NRA president Mike Tammaro passed just ahead of me, but fortunately I had checked his age with Steve at the start of the race and verified he's still in his 40s. Mile 2 split:  5:54.  All right then!  I had feared a 6:15 or so.

Mile 2: Bringing up the rear of our little pack
Grimacing as I make the effort to stay sub-6 in the HHH weather
Mile 3:  I give what little I have left in the hot humid run, and finish 6 seconds behind Tommy in 18:06.  Final mile split 5:55.

Final time:  18:06 (5:50 average pace).  8th of 211, 1st of 59 in my age group.  Full results here.

Obviously, I would have preferred to go sub-18, but I don't run well in the heat, and am happy with my time and place, as well as very consistent splits.  Chris took 3rd in a road PR of 16:17!  Shara won outright amongst the females, and Mike B placed.  After a short WTAC cool-down, we enjoyed drinks at the Dogwatch and an awards ceremony where all of the above took home awards of cash and/or a bottle of wine.

Pilfering from Beth's write-up, while the more important facet of this race commemorates Stonington repelling the British during the War of 1812, this race also serves as the culmination of weekly summer fun runs on roughly the same course.  On most Tuesdays since Memorial Day, Jana, Matthew, and I would run the Stonington Fun Runs, along with Mike B and many CT-based WTAC runners.  The Stonington Fun Runs are the quintessential summer event to me, and I'm always a little sad to see them end.  The pungent fish processing plant smells, the wafting salt air as you descend Omega, the commanding cannons and their ever-present reminder of the War of 1812, the stately historic row houses, and the laughter and mingling of friends and frenemies dockside post-run are all fond memories of mine that I cherish and will look forward to their resumption next summer.


Weekly Log 10-Aug to 16-Aug-2015

11 miles.  Victory Day holiday.  Went out for an intended 6-8 miles or so, but was really enjoying the morning run, and continued out on the beach towards Watch Hill.

20 miles. Solo ride through Charlestown beaches and back.
6 miles.  Final Stonington Fun Run :(    Rainy run, but good to be out there.

8 miles.  5 in the morning in Needham.  3 more at Fun Run.  18:33.  HHH

6 miles.  Woody Hill trail run with Matthew.  Showed Matthew the full Pumpkins course to be.  I think he is only the second one besides Muddy that I've shown the full trail including the pine forest section.  More overgrown than I would like, although much better than a year ago when first set the course.  Will need at least one, but likely two, passes with a weed-whacker and pruning shears.

0.5 miles.  Final group swim of the summer for me.  Tom, Steve, Duda, and a few women preparing for tris. One of my more disappointing swim seasons; I really must put forth a better plan for next year.
9 miles.  3 barefoot on the beach with Tom post-swim.  6 miles in the evening with Matthew at our final Groton Fun Run of the year.

58 miles.  My longest ride ever.  Rode fairly hard on the entire Rhode Warrior course with Tom and Dave Silva.  No stops.
3 miles.  Nighttime headlamp run with Matthew.

13 miles.  10 mile barefoot beach run with Matthew.  Legs still sore from the ride; couldn't keep up with him at all.  Ocean dip at the end felt heavenly.  Repeatedly dove under water to cool the body.  Finished up with a 3-mile hot evening run with Matthew.  OK, the legs are now officially toast.

Weekly Mileage Log:
0.5 miles.  
78 miles.
57 miles. Great week of running and riding!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Bobby Doyle Summer Classic: USATF NE Championship

Narragansett, RI
Sunday, August 9, 2015

Had never run this one before, and between being a rare chance to test my mettle against my 5 Mile PR of 30:02 and one of the last chances this summer to race together with Matthew, I threw in my hat (in addition to a Jackson, a Lincoln, and a Jefferson).

This year's 8th annual edition was no ordinary one, as it took on the additional status of being the USATF New England championship 5-mile race, and thus drew esteemed and decorated harriers from all of the six New England states.

We arrived about an hour early, and as soon as we got out of the car, it was crystal clear to me that this would be a race like no other I had ever participated in.  If you look around at the starting race of almost every race I've ever done (including marathons), you see varying physiques and running attire anything from lightweight running singlets to runners with their bibs pinned over a cotton zipped up hooded sweatshirt.  Not here!
Look at the physique and uniforms of these runners!
Do I even deserve a running spot at this race?
(As usual, thanks to Jana for [nearly] all the pics here)

As far as the eye could stretch, the sight was teeming with lithe runners all seemingly clad in short-shorts and the lightest of singlets or sports bras for the fairer sex.  These guys are serious runners!  A plethora of formidable running clubs had descended upon Narragansett, including the BAA, Central Mass Striders, and several hailing from NH, VT, and ME.  It was simultaneously awe-inspiring and daunting.
Father-son warm-up is always enjoyable.
Quality time all summer that I'll never forget.

Enough of my incessant blathering, and on to the race.  A quick synopsis:

Mile 1:  5:35!  The gun went off, and I couldn't move for a few seconds, as deep in aggressive "Sub 30" marked group.  For the entire mile, the pack was pretty thick around me.  Towards the end of Mile 1, I passed my nemesis, Tollgate XC coach Norm Bouthillier.
Half-mile in:
Crowded field would be persistent throughout race.

Mile 2:  5:50.  Happy to keep it under 6 as the course climbs a bit as we go back past the start again at Narragansett Middle School.
Mile 2:  Long strides staying sub-6 without taxing myself too much
 Mile 3:  5:39!  Thrilled that I've picked up the pace again.  Some of it must be the super fast running crowd pulling me along.  This would be the last mile that I would see Matthew, although with so many runners on the road, I could only see him turning at corners.

Mile 4:  6:04.  You pass through timing mats at the 5K mark at a narrow chute on Ocean Road (near 1 mile mark at Blessing) and my time showed 18:03.  A 5:49 average pace; I'll take that, especially given I wasn't just racing a 5K.  The slowed time on this mile was indicative of the two uphills on this section.  Nothing serious, but enough to slow most runners down.

Sprinting to the finish,
trying to match a competitor's strides.
(We both finished 29:26 gun time, but for some reason
they took 2 seconds off for him on chip time and none for me, even though
I started behind him.)
Mile 5:  5:59.  Trying to pick up the pace a little for the finish, happy again to keep it under 6.
Crossing the finish line in a lifetime PR of 29:26.  Sweet!

Final time:  29:26!  Results here.  A full 36 seconds under my PR!  My previous PR was several years ago at a race in Bristol where I ran side-by-side with Jonny for the entire race, save for the last 1/2 mile when I couldn't match his stride.  He went under 30 and I didn't.  I've always regretted missing the sub-30 mark by 3 seconds, and today was ample vindication.
Post-race with my finisher's medal.

Close up of the cool finisher's medal.

So, I must have won my geezer age group, right?  Not a chance!  140th overall and 14th in my age group!  That's OK, I went up against the creme de la creme in New England, and still came up 14th of 70.  Matthew finished 27 places ahead of me with a huge PR of 28:31.  Someone sent him a link to age-graded results and stated that I beat him in the race on an age-graded basis.  Interesting reading, but truly I'm happy with my race results and PR in my own right.  This was both a humbling and amazing race in which I'm thrilled to have participated.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Run 4 Kerri

South Kingstown, RI
Sunday, August 2, 2015

Belated and succinct write-up:

Legs still tired from BI Tri the day before, but at least I could sleep in for this one.
Hot as Hades, and very little shade on the course.  Mid-80s and direct sun already at 9am start.

  • Mile 1:  5:42.  A little bit of shade, at least for first 1/2 mile.
  • Mile 2:  5:55.  No more shade.  Passed age-group nemesis Norm Bouthillier.
  • Mile 3:  6:03.  Cards Pond Road open field death march.  I usually don't take water on short races, but I was parched.
  • Mile 4:  5:57.  Uphill neighborhood climb.  Fortunate brief respite of a few sprinklers and hoses.

Finished and felt really ill at finish line, wondering if I should seek medical attention.  OK, good, that feeling only lasted a minute or so.  Now I just have to throw up, so I went over to the woods.  No, that feeling passed as well.  After copious drink and some fruit, started to feel better.  Running in the heat is just not my thing.

Final result:  23:43.  PR by 9 seconds, despite the nasty heat!  1st place age group (of 48).  28th overall (of 519).  Final results here.

Biggest disappointment: they didn't have the water hydrant shower running this year!
Stacked start

Baking in the sun just before finish.
May my death be merciful.
Done at last.  23:45 net; 23:43 chip.

Today's WTAC crew, minus Woolley, who split.

Age group champs!  New PRs for both.

Odd assortment of loot for age group prizes.