Sunday, February 28, 2016

Weekly Log 22-Feb to 28-Feb-2016: Ramping Up the Miles

Let's start with my senior moment of the week.  One day this week, as I often do, I took a break mid-morning and walked out for a coffee.  Went to the Bess Eaton across the bridge, ordered my coffee, and took a card out of my wallet to pay for it.  The owner swiped it a few times to try to collect payment, but it didn't work, so he held it up closer to examine, then gave me an odd look and handed me back my Stop & Shop card.  Apparently you can't use a Stop & Shop card to pay for coffee at Bess Eaton.  Who knew?!  What a moron!

Monday:  0

Tuesday:  14
Track workout with Tom, Shara, and Mike:  2 x 800 (2:51, 2:49), 3 x 400 (83, 81, 79).   Just couldn't get going.
Followed with a hill workout on Narragansett, which I did much better, then finished with 7 miles solo.

Wednesday: 10
Rainy, misty run in Needham.

Thursday:  11
Ran most of the new Ocean's Run course.  Had wanted to run a few miles at HMP, but just didn't have it.  My 3rd consecutive double-digit run; probably not wise to make it into a workout anyway.

Friday:  5
Planned out a tentative 5-mile option for this year's Back Road Ramble on June 12.  Adds a lot more trail, while still keeping the easier 5K option.  Will show it to the Y RD soon to see if it works for him.

Saturday:  22!
Planned out too much for the weekend:  1) Run Belleville 10K, 2) run a long run, 3) skate for Washington Trust event.  This was busy but doable until I learned Matthew would be running at New England Indoor Track Championships in Boston, so I'd be spending most of Sunday there.  Ended up jettisoning the ice skating, with apologies to my employer.  A long run Sunday was now out as well.  Had lost some interest in Belleville since there would be no snow, but since I already paid for it, I figured I'd incorporate it into my long run.
The climb from Miles 4-6 on Stony Lane seemed to go on and on and on.
Maybe I should have checked out the elevation beforehand?
Or maybe I should return there for more hill training?

Arrived Ryan Park at 7:40am.  First car in the parking lot.  Had the porta-jon all to myself.  TMI!  Ran the first 2 miles of the Belleville course getting an early read on the course.  Exited onto roads for the next 13 miles.  Most of the roads were quiet, rural, and ones I had never been on.  I knew I was starting and finishing on Oak Hill Road, so when I turned onto Oak Hill Road about Mile 9, something seemed wrong with 6 miles to go and not even crossing Route 2 yet.  A little bit of panic and confusion set in, until I realized I was in Exeter, which meant this was a totally different Oak Hill Road than my destination in North Kingstown.  Onward ho!

Arrived back at Ryan Park at about 9:45am, with still plenty of time to get my bib.  Spent a while catching up with Jeff Huckle, and then meandered over to the start line, and started about 2/3 back.  All the pressure was off.  Started next to Beth, and caught up with her for a while until the siren went off.  I was comfortably progressing forward, passing along the way, all good until a big bunch-up on the single-track section.  I passed where I could, but there was really quite a logjam here.

Back onto double-track for the long rail trestle trail section, I passed quite a few and from there on in, the race was well spread out.  Didn't care for the mentally challenging long straightaway on the power line section, but otherwise all the rest especially new single-track sections were a lot of fun. Finished just behind Seth.  Was really glad to see him out there after his recent setbacks.  21.6 miles on the day.  Pretty sore by nighttime.

Sunday:  6
Recovery day on local roads.  Ran into WTAC members Eric and Sean early on, and ran with them for a few.
Followed up with a long day in Boston.  Left the house at 9:30am, got lunch downtown with Jana, and arrived to a packed house at Reggie Lewis Track & Athletic Center at 12:30 before a 1:30pm start.  What none of us planned on was that Matthew didn't run until 5:30pm!  By then he hadn't eaten in a while (having planned on an earlier start) and felt little energy, but still finishing the 2-miler in 9:57 (4:59 average pace) with only one sophomore from New England finishing ahead of him sounds pretty good to me.

Weekly mileage:
Run:  68!

Weekly synopsis:
Highest mileage since last July.  I'm really pleasantly surprised with how closely I've hued to the schedule thus far, but next week will need to deviate from the bible as I'm racing Ocean's Run.  11 weeks to marathon day.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Weekly Log 15-Feb to 21-Feb-2016: State Meets and Hills

Leading off this week's blog with a slightly different athletic topic, this week saw the culmination of my son Mark's high school swimming career.  It seems like yesterday that Mark started going to the Y pool at age 6 months, and swimming lessons were followed by him joining the YMCA Dolphins swim team at about age 9, where he broke a Y record before moving on to four years of swimming for Westerly High School.  He was a captain of the team this year, and at their last home meet, they took on unbeaten Cranston East and defeated them for the Division title.  What a way to go out!  At the state meet at Brown this weekend, Mark lowered his 100-fly time (0:58) to take 10th in the state, and got a new PR in the 50-free as well (0:24).  To put that in perspective, I swim about the same time for half of the 50-yard distance.

Mark swimming at age 3 1/2,
as Matthew and I look on

Somewhere in my 40s, I took up swimming myself, as much like my Dad before me, I wanted to understand my sons' sports better.  (My Dad was a wrestler in his youth, but helped volunteer soccer coaching when we played youth soccer, and came down to play racquetball with me when I took up playing in racquetball leagues post-college.)  Wish my Dad were here to see my sons' accomplishments, but focus here (not one of my strong points).  I'm still trying to figure out this swimming thing, but it's led to the fun sport of triathlon and all the folks I've enjoyed seeing at tris, including Tom, Mike B, Chris, Steve, Polly, Shara (she's more fish than human), Nicole, Terry, Melanie, etc.
Mark & Matthew before start of 2010 Mighty Kids triathlon

As I watched Mark swim his 4th and final event of the day this past weekend, I had a Lion King "Circle of Life" reflective moment realizing this was his last ever high school swim meet.  Thus, while Mark's swimming career may be coming to a close (he's indicated he won't swim competitively in college), it's been a great ride that I've enjoyed watching him grow, learned a lot from, and will continue through tris.

Without further interruption, this week's running blog:

Monday:  7
Chilly 18-degree Presidents' Day run with Tom and Shara.  Actually felt decent, given that yesterday's run was at -5F.

Tuesday:  7
6:43 pace run with Matthew, culminating with 4 x 150 progressive strides.

Wednesday:  7
AM - 1 mile trail fail on ice in Dedham, MA.
PM - 6 mile trail run redemption from Hopkinton side of Grills.

Thursday:  7
Another fast run with Matthew.  This time out to Westerly Hospital and back via Rotary Park.  Finished up with 4 200s fast.

Friday:  7
Hill repeats for lunch.  I knew I needed to get back to some hills.  Studied Strava routes looking for something similar to Mile 8-10 (uphill) of Sugarloaf.  Opted for Buckeye Brook Road eastbound from intersection with VG trail out to Shumankanuc.  Roughly 1 mile in distance and 270' in elevation.  Ran up and down twice, with 1/2 mile jog in between.  Mile splits:
6:39, 5:28, 6:37, 5:11

Saturday:  5
Quick Watch Hill Road and Misquamicut loop with a Tom & Shara sighting.  Swapped my longer run to Sunday, as today was double state meet day:

  • Mark - recapped above
  • Matthew - placed 7th in the state 3,000 meet with a PR of 9:04.  Top 6 advance to New Englands, with one of the top 6 unable to make it, Matthew advances to Boston next weekend.  Sat next to Principe and Jackman catching some of the awesomeness (DJ won the 3,000 and took 2nd in the 1,500 and 1,000)

Sunday:  15
Split my morning run into two parts:

  • 'Round the pond solo 8-miler
  • Hopkinton & Westerly Grills 7-miler with Matthew and Aaron.  For those of you that have been to the top of "Big Hill" recently, what do you think of the new stick-built structure?

Weekly mileage totals:
Run:  56

Weekly synopsis:
Every 4th week in my training plan is a recovery week.  Somehow that made running 56 miles this week seem "easy".  My own running highlight this week was the Friday Buckeye Brook hill workout, but my overall athletic highlight of the week clearly was watching my two sons qualify for and excel at their respective state meets.  Swim, run, or bike on, my friends.  Hope this week's log wasn't too sappy for you.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Weekly Log 8-Feb to 14-Feb-2014: Cold Weather Running

No complaints from me.  This is February in New England, isn't it?  I'll take this any day over 80+ degree humid runs that will inevitably plague me in summer.

Monday: 13
Normally my rest day, this was a snow day with schools closed and the bank closing at Noon, so I got outside for a double dose of snow fun:
AM:  7+ miler with Matthew on roads in the falling, blowing snow.
PM:  5+ miler with Tom running through snow and making fresh trails at Champlin.  My Yak-Trax seemed to help give me grip on uphill climbs.  Tiring, but fun!

Tuesday:  0
Took this day as my rest day instead.

Wednesday:  5
Needham, MA.  This one was shaping up to be a great one running in falling snow, but it was anything but great on 3 counts:
  1. GPS watch failure.  Despite full battery, my watch kept shutting off and rebooting.  Restarted multiple times mid-run, only to go through the same experience.  Really frustrating.  Yes, I'm addicted to my running watch and running "naked" without it adversely impacts me.
  2. Slip, near-tumble, and wrench back.  Couldn't see ice under the light coating of snow, and slipped and lost my balance.  My lower back hurt the rest of the run and I became super cautious and slow.
  3. Snot running down his nose.  Remember those lyrics from Jethro Tull's "Aqualung"?  Suffice it to say when I got into the Y locker room and looked in the mirror, apparently my farmer's blow is not as perfected as I had thought.  Hope I didn't gross out too many.
Thursday:  14
Easier pace (average 7:23), but I somehow still struggled a bit on this one.  Took me a long time to warm up, and then got into a surprise snow burst.  I love running in the snow, but between the wind bursts and snow bursts into my face, it made for a tough run.

Friday:  7
Icebox.  7 degree run.  Dressed warmly, and eventually warmed up.  Wished I had spent more time running on the beach, as the sun on my face was blissful.

Saturday:  18
On Friday, one by one, the regrets came in from my recent weekend running cohorts that for reasons of cold weather, injury, and vacation, they would not be joining me for a long run Saturday.  Friday night I was not looking forward to this and was playing with  Matthew suggested I contact Muddy to see if he would run, but I countered that he'd probably run indoors (he didn't) and anyway his training runs are too fast for me anymore.  How about Jonny; yeah, I probably should've reached out to him to see if he'd push me for even part of a run.

Anyway, Saturday arrived.  18 degrees - hemmed and hawed over shorts or tights, and only because of the long run and wind, opted for the latter.  Two miles into my run I panicked as I saw my watch was not recording time/distance.  Did I forget to start it?  No, same thing as earlier in the week, the thing shut off and rebooted.  Arggh!  Is this the excuse I need to just pack it in?  I really need Chris to give me a "Suck it up!" about now.  Restarted the watch (while continuing to run), and this time, when I pressed "Start", it recognized the earlier run portion and picked up where I left off.  No further watch trouble on the run.  Awesome!

OK, enough of my whining.  I sound like Mike B complaining about winter (although he's up skiing now!).  Reached Mile 4 in Avondale, which meant the start of 10 miles targeted at MP.  Ran the next 4 miles consistently in low 6:30s, just a tad slower than I was targeting.  At Mile 5, I passed Jeffs V and H going the opposite direction, and then at Mile 6, Steve slowed down in his SUV to say he was headed for a TM run at the Y.  Meanwhile, I took a CR "1A South" on Beach Street.  Only problem is that I was headed NORTH!  Someone directionally challenged must have created this one.

6:56 was my slowest mile of the lot (my excuse being slipping in snow in Wilcox Park and then hill climb on Narragansett), and then I was pleased that 4 of my next 5 miles were in the 6:20s, before a 4-mile final easier stretch.  Don't know why I got myself so worked up about this long run; it turned out much better than I thought:

Sunday:  6
Several years ago at Waterville Valley, NH I went out for a 4-mile run at -13F.  While today's run wasn't quite as cold, for coastal RI, -5F is pretty frigid, and wind chill at -21F.  Stayed close to home on this one, so I could bail if need be, but after a while I "warmed up" enough to keep going.  Didn't see another soul outside.

On the run, I could feel my few exposed parts,
including eyebrows and eyelashes,
were freezing up.

Weekly totals:
Run:  63!

Weekly Synopsis:
Another new high mileage week for the year.  I got out there consistently and got it done and followed the training plan really well this week, in spite of (or maybe because of) the snow and cold weather.  Fortunately, Punxsutawney Phil was wrong.  Long live winter; like so many other things in life, it will end much too soon.


Sunday, February 7, 2016

Weekly Log 1-Feb to 7-Feb-16: The Week without a Belleville 10K

Signed up for the Belleville 10K (last year's pic in header above) back in December.  I've run it every year since the inaugural year, which meant the only time I've run this race (and Ryan Park in general) has been when the trails were snow-covered.  My favorite edition and one of my most memorable races ever was running in deep snow two years ago with my heart rate spiking and finishing 3rd overall behind Chris Garvin and Bob Jackman.
2014 run (3rd place finish):
In my element

Fast forward to the beginning of this week, and I just wasn't that excited about it.  Something seemed to be missing.  Ah, snow of course!  It'll be tight between kids' activities, but I'll probably still try to make it.  Fast forward again to Friday.  A snowstorm seemed to appear on the weather forecast out of nowhere and left us with a 7" cover of heavy snow.  PSYCHED!  A snowy sufferfest is looming, and I am just so excited like a school boy! 
The excited school boy in me,
psyched for a snowy sufferfest
Late afternoon, Tommy texted me to say the race is postponed.  NOOOOO!  Say it isn't so!  This must just be a cruel hoax, but a text from Jonny confirms it as well.  I go into miserable and grumpy old man mode for the whole evening.  I know RD Mike Galoob puts so much effort into these races and would hold if he could find a way to, and he's probably disappointed to cancel it as well.  The 27th (tentative makeup date) is too far away to know if I can make it.  Let's just hope there's a lot of snow then.
The grumpy old man in me,
after my "candy" (snowy sufferfest) has been cruelly taken away

My 2016 Events page is up, thanks to prodding from Tommy!

Monday:  0

Tuesday:  14
Finally accepted an early-morning workout run from Tommy, Shara, and Mike B.  Met up at WHS at 5:05am for a 6.5 mile workout.  6x400s were pretty inconsistent (75, 74, 73 ,78 ,76, 77, 79, 70), folled by 4x200s working on form (41, 35, 35, 34).  Followed this up with 7.5 miles solo through the North End and downtown.

Wednesday:  11
AM:  6 miles, Adams Farm, Walpole.  Had only been here once before and got pretty lost.  I remembered it got really sketchy if you got past the powerlines, so I made sure not to cross them and this worked much better this time.  A lot of twisty single-track mostly likely planned out by mountain bikers.
PM:  5 miles, F Gilbert Hills, Foxborough.  Rainy but fun run with a fair amount of climbing.

Thursday:  2
With a snowstorm imminent, finished up the marking of the WHS XC course.
Marking course for clearing,
leaving the field to enter the woods

Friday:  6
Ran in the falling snow with Matthew, as school cancelled today.  Beautiful out there.  The side streets were great, but the main streets were slushy.  Got doused with slush by a passing truck at the end of the run.

One of many beautiful snow scenes

7" of heavy wet snow

Right in our own yard

Golf course off Yosemite Valley Road

Saturday:  19
Was originally planning to run Belleville Saturday, and a 18-mile long run Sunday, but with Belleville cancelled, jumped in on a run with Shara, Tom, and Mike.  Beautiful winter snow scenes during our run.  Even Mike "I Hate Winter" Boumenot was saying how the snow was pretty on the trees and ponds.  From Tom's house out to Watch Hill was fine, but the return especially on Atlantic Avenue was very icy.  Slipping a lot, I was really tiring on the last 3 to 4 miles, but glad I got it done.  Tom's second longest run ever, and he was looking really strong out there as I was just fading.  Hope to have my pep back for another 18-miler next weekend.

Sunday: 10
Parked at WTAC sponsor Dave's Coffee.  Matthew and I then ran a counter-clockwise (the British term anti-clockwise sounds more intuitive) through the hills of Charlestown, up Klondike and back Route 216, with a spur through Burlingame Campground.  Burlingame was beautiful in the snow and a great place to run with the gates closed meaning roads closed to any traffic.  Stopped in to have a coffee at Dave's.  Asked for him; he wasn't there, but Matthew was wearing the 2015 Rhody shirt bearing the Dave's logo and the guy working the counter said he had run that edition as well.  Cool.

Weekly totals:
Run:  62!

Weekly synopsis:
Will try to add this section going forward, with positive reinforcement from Beth.  This was another solid week, continuing to gradually increase the miles.  This was both my longest run (18) and highest mileage week (62) of the new year.  My legs are sore.  No injuries; just sore, which sounds about right for the increase this week.  At this point, I'm at M-13 (Marathon Day minus 13 weeks).  The plan for next week calls for me to run 18 again, but this time with much of the run at MP, before a recovery week the following week.  Very appreciative to Shara and Tommy for allowing me to jump into their long run this week and help me in the process reach my goals.