Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Weekly Log 16-May to 22-May-2016: Recovery

Pretty beat up from the Sugarloaf Marathon.  Running will be light in mileage the next week or two, and even that probably not back in the 50+ range for a while as it's time to add in riding and swimming.

To that end, it was time to update the schedule and register for races near-term:  2016 Events

Monday:  0
 Sore!  Limping a bit.

Tuesday:  0
Limping is gone, soreness remains.

Wednesday:  5
 Running in Chicago.  Almost 9-minute miles, but couldn't pass it up.
Mostly sunny on Lakeshore Trail

More lively than Beth's metal goose

Thursday:  5
 Conference fun run.  So wanted to stay with the faster pack, but they were running low 6s, and it wasn't happening for me.  More sore than yesterday.

Friday:  0
 Last day in Chicago.  Normally try to get in every day when I'm at a destination, especially when no plans to return, but the legs told me they really needed a break.

Saturday: 0
16 mile beach RIDE.  That was fun, and easy on the legs.

Sunday: 8
Groton Cross Town Trail.  Fun run with Matthew.  So good to run soft surfaces (mostly) after 26 miles of asphalt on Sunday, and then two consecutive runs on concrete in Chicago.
Tough crossing this bridge!

This one: not so much.

Rock gardens galore! 

Beebe Pond in surreal fog.

Towns End:  picturesque trail terminus 

Weekly mileage:
Run:  19
Bike:  16

Weekly synopsis:  Slower than expected on the marathon recovery.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Sugarloaf Marathon 2016

Kingfield, Maine
Sunday, May 15, 2016

After a full year hiatus from the marathon in 2015, it was time to re-enter the waters.  I studied a number of marathons in the northeast, and in the end, on New Year's Eve clicked on the "Register" button for Sugarloaf Marathon.  A snippet of Sugarloaf's description:

"The setting for the race is breathtaking as it follows the Maine Scenic Highway, winding through the beautiful mountains of Western Maine. The first 5 miles of the marathon are flat, miles 5-10 are rolling hills with a steady two-mile climb at mile 8. The last 16 miles have an elevation loss of 980 feet. The weather in the mountains this time of year is ideal for running. Normal morning temperatures range in the 40's at 7am and rise to the 70's by 11am."

Hilly country
[Fast forward from December 31 to May 15.]  I'm staying overnight near the finish line at the Grand Herbert Hotel, which may have been grand in the 1800s, but today, well ... not so much.  Anyway, just before my alarm goes off at 4:40am, I am awakened instead by a thunderstorm.  Oh no!  Time to get up.  Up and dressed, I go downstairs to get hot water for my oatmeal and granola breakfast.  A man is speaking French to me as I descend the stairs and then when I get closer, he switches to English and says, "Sorry, I thought you were my wife.".  O-K.  Does your wife look remotely like me?  Scary thought.

Everything set out the night before at "The Grand Herbert", and ready to go.

I think it's the first bib I ever had with my name printed on it!

By 5:15am, the rain has abated, and I walk the two blocks to the finish line, where buses await transporting runners to the start.  During the bus ride, the rain picks up again and we arrive to a pouring rain at the starting line at 6:05am.  Just fantastic.  48 degrees and steady rain with almost an hour to the start.  So much for ideal weather.  The first woman about to disembark asks the driver if we have to get off the bus, and the Maine driver dryly responds, "No, you can stay on and return back to Kingfield [finish line] with me".  Into the rain we go.  My shoes and socks are quickly soaked, but my running clothes stay dry under my hooded waterproof jacket.
Just before the start of the marathon, the rain has let up!
(Well, for a few minutes ...)

As at Nipmuck Trail Marathon,
an inauspicious start on a quiet country road in the woods.

Start to 5 Miles:  The rain miraculously stops 15 minutes before the start, as I take off my jacket, check my bag, and line up.  I am in my typical garb of short shorts and a singlet, but I am in the vast minority, and the few others in singlets seem to have on hats and gloves.  A shotgun goes off, and we cross the makeshift mats at a campground, and we're off!  True to the course description, the first 5 miles are indeed flat (the only part of the course that would be flat) and I try to resist the urge to run faster than 6:30, with my watch tempering me.  Splits:  6:33, 6:30, 6:25, 6:30, 6:30.   Consistent, eh?

Well, that explains why I heard a lot of runners speaking
French.  We're closer to Quebec province than to the border of
any US state.

Miles 6 - 10:  A steady climb slowly but surely begins and we leave the flats and lakeside run.  The The rain has returned in full force, and by Mile 7 I am officially a drowned rat running in streams in the road.  The uphills seem OK at first and are more rolling for a while, but by mile 9 I am sucking wind despite dropping to a 7:14 pace.  What gives?  Oh yeah, I'm running a Cat 3 climb with an elevation gain of 450' over the last few miles.  Splits:  6:34, 6:38, 6:46, 7:14, 6:56.
What goes up ...

... must come down.
Yikes, steep drop ahead.
(Don't let this dry picture
fool you; I took it the
night before)

Splashing through the rain
and wet streets
Miles 11 - 15:  Sharp, sharp downhills.  We lose 263 feet in 0.7 miles, as I'm running a 5:44 pace for this section, temporarily passing quite a few people. Despite the rain, there are quite a few spectators in umbrellas at the Sugarloaf Mountain entrance that we pass at Mile 11 to AC/DC blasting.  Cool!  After two miles of explosive downhills, the course levels out a bit.  Splits:  6:18, 6:09, 6:31, 6:33, 6:28.
Passing by Sugarloaf ski area, there is actually still some snow
on the mountain.

Miles 16 - 20:  The next two miles are sharp downhills again (184' and 112' foot loss).  I usually love to gazelle the downhills, but my quads are screaming by this point.  Very fast two downhill miles (6:11, 6:19), before the course levels out a bit for the next three (6:35, 6:33, 6:46).

Miles 21 - 25:  The rain has completely stopped and the course is pretty much flat.  Sounds pretty good, right?  It should be, but (are you ready for this litany of excuses?) ... I'm still soaking wet, I'm cold, especially my hands, and the hills have left me on empty.  There is actually still a small net elevation loss in every mile, but by now even the small inclines are daunting to me.  I try to just motor through, but it's in this section, especially after Mile 22, that the wheels really come off the cart.  Increasingly slower paces, as I can no longer keep it under 6:45:  6:51, 6:46, 7:08, 7:17, 7:39 (yikes!).
It sounds like it would have done me some good to have
seen a moose about now!

Finish:  The finishing mile was quite a blur to me.  At one point, I remember hearing someone yelling "One mile to go!", which temporarily snapped me out of my stupor.  What?  Huh?  Mom, is that you?  I looked left to see a woman in an SUV driving next to me with the windows down.  She repeated "One mile to go!  Keep it up!" and pointed beyond me, so I looked and saw a big sign next to me, "One mile to go".  Oh.  Good.  Thanks.  She must have thought me to be a quart low, which I think at that point I was.

The next thing I remember hearing is someone yelling "If you're going to fall, lean in to me, and I'll catch you".  I was thinking someone must be having a really tough time, so I looked to my right to see what was going on and I see the man who spoke is a race official shoulder-to-shoulder next to me talking to me.  And we're walking together in a muddy field?  What the?  Next someone on my left says "I highly suggest you get some of the hot soup right away".  I looked left, and there are two of you race officials apparently escorting me to the food tent?

Inside the food tent, one race official stayed with me a while longer and the other went back to his post.  After consuming various food and drink, I was starting to feel a little better and walked first to check electronic results (they weren't ready yet) and then to look at the awards (nice sets of clay mugs and saucers with Sugarloaf emblazoned on them).  Unfortunately, I was told the awards ceremony wouldn't be for a while, and by now I was acutely aware of my shivering and knew I needed to abandon my award quest and get out of there.  As I walked through the muddy parking lot towards the road that would bring me to my hotel for a hot shower and dry clothes, an elderly woman volunteering came up to me and asked me to come into a warming shelter.  I explained I was going to walk to my hotel, which was just 1/2 mile away.  She said she would get her car and drive me, which I ended up politely declining as well.  Either race officials and volunteers in remote Maine are the kindest and most thoughtful people I have ever met, or perhaps I didn't look very good to her in my condition.  Yeah, probably the latter.

That hot shower and dry clothes were to die for!  And now begins the 6-hour drive home.  Ugh.  My final time was 2:58:44, so at least I pulled out a sub-3.  Marathon #18 is in the books.  A very humbling experience for me.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Weekly Log 9-May to 15-May-2016: Tapir or Taper?

I've heard that you should have a tapir before a marathon,
but what exactly am I supposed to do with this thing?

Monday:  5
 Sunny lunch run to Misquamicut and back.  70 degrees!

Tuesday:  5
Resisting the urge to go on the trails this week.  Don't wake to leave it to chance of an ankle twist or trip.  Ran on lower Pawcatuck roads.  Highlight was a gray fox crossing my path.

Wednesday:  7
 Easy paced miles in Needham, MA, except two miles in the middle at 6:25 and 6:10.  Everything remaining for the few days before the marathon will be intentionally slower.

Thursday:  5
 Lunch time run from the Westerly Y on the Springbrook loop.

Friday:  0
 Total rest day.  Two days out.  Repeatedly checking out the weather in Maine.

Saturday: 3
Sugarloaf Shake-out.

Sunday: 26
Sugarloaf Marathon.  Tough.  Full write-up coming very soon.

Weekly mileage:
Run:  52

Weekly synopsis:  Taper (or tapir?) week culminating with a marathon that was quite tough for me.  Some time off now, followed by prepping for fun summer runs and tris.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Weekly Log 2-May to 8-May-2016

Monday:  5
Late afternoon run from Wahaneeta heading north into Woody Hill.  Skunk cabbage galore!  Really enjoy these local trails.

Tuesday:  5
Another Woody Hill trail run.  No, I don't tire of it.  This one was a rainy run from Bradford Preserve, running both the Pumpkins course plus the new WHS XC course.

Wednesday:  10
AM:  3 miles.  Scary run in Needham, due to sharp hip pain that I've never had.  Cut it short.
PM:  7 miles.  In the rain.  The hip was feeling better by afternoon, and with Chris Garvin in for a surprise visit, didn't want to pass it up as long as the pain didn't flare up again.  Met up with Chris, Jonny, and Nate for a run on trails in northern Carolina that I had never been on.  Fun, with a neat river crossing and running along trout (yes, trout!) for part of the way.  Hip felt much better; maybe about 90%.

Thursday:  0
Intentional day off to give the hip a rest.

Friday:  5
Soaking rain.  Readers know that I'm not a fair-weather runner, but this is getting tiring.  Ran part of the Mystic route that Matthew and I ran a week back.  Loop from Mystic Y.

Saturday:  10
First run with Mike B in a long time.  Ran from Mystic Aquarium on the back half of the Mystic Half route, as Mike is running this next weekend.  Saw a snake a little too late to try to pick it up and see if I could get Mike to scream like a girl.  He said that would have made him run a 4-minute mile.  Hmmm ... maybe I should carry a snake in the next race I'm in with Mike and stay right behind him to get him a PR?

Sunday:  0
 Hip frustratingly on and off.  Day off.

Weekly mileage:
Run:  35

Weekly synopsis:  Rain and hip issues were both real downers.  Run with Mike was fun.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Weekly Log 25-Apr to 1-May-2016

On the Internet and in e-mails, I regularly come across Top 10 lists of one sort or another.  I'm often a sucker for reading them and typically not really relating to them.  This week, I got an e-mail that I did relate to:  a list from MapMyRun of Top 12 things runners shouldn't have to apologize for, and that non-runners just don't get.  Here are the top four I can relate to; can anyone else relate to these?

1. Not going out on Friday night.
We have a long run in the morning. Obviously.

6. Spending hours poring over our post-run data.
Stats we accumulated on MapMyRun Strava are the only thing we want to spend time with after a run. Splits and segments and new distance records, oh my!

7. Always eating second breakfast.
We run at 6, eat breakfast at 7:30, and are starving again by 9:15. It’s called second breakfast, people. Get into it.

11. Indulging in weekend naps.
Sure, we could be doing something more productive. But we wake up early all week and just got back from a training run, and if we’re going to make it to that 8 p.m. dinner res we’re going to need some quality shut-eye first.

Monday:  6
Barn Island lunch run.

Tuesday:  0

Wednesday:  9
Cold morning on the Blue Heron Trail.  32 degree start.  Frost covered slippery bog bridges.

Thursday:  8
Matthew was headed off on a school trip to Washington, DC, and rather than a miss of day of running, asked if I'd run with him at 4:30am.  Sounded crazy to me at first (readers will note my replacing a job in Boston with one in Westerly ended my 4:30am run days).  Then I thought that if he was that dedicated and expressed an interest in me running with him, there was no good reason not to honor the request.  So off we went.  As usual, once I got started, I was fine and even enjoying the run.

Friday:  5
Solo Bradford Preserve trail run at lunch.  Easy pace.

Saturday:  18
Tough solo run.  Easy 2 miles, then 14 at MP, finishing up with another 2 miles.  Was really pleased with myself that I was able to keep each of the 14 miles at 6:30 pace or less.  However, this was on mostly flat surfaces; the test will be on upcoming hill climbs.

Sunday:  0
Needed rest day.  Sore.

Weekly mileage:
Run:  46

Weekly synopsis:  Happy with the intentional lower mileage.  Highlight was the Saturday long run workout.