Thursday, April 27, 2017

Weekly Log 17-Apr to 23-Apr-2017: Cayuga, Horse Caves, & Geeky Stats

Marathon #19 is over, including the four months of training leading up to it.  What's next?
Remember the commercials back in the late '80s,
where Super Bowl winners were asked what they were going to do next,
and they replied, "I'm going to Disney World!"?
Yeah, that's not happening.

But here is a glimpse in to what's really on the docket for the next 4+ months:
  • High focus:  A number of fun trail races, including hills and mountains.
  • Medium focus:  Triathlon season.  Less than in past years, and no Ironman to totally wipe me out, but probably a few fun sprint distances.
  • Low focus:  Road races.  Still running my go-to races, including RI State Police 5k next weekend, but not many planned road races.  After last summer's brutal heat, I may take a wait and see approach to summer races.
The above is pretty short on any specifics.  My race list is a work in progress, and I'm looking for at least a couple more trail races, plus another tri.  Updated upcoming race list

Monday:  5
Buttermilk Falls State Park, Ithaca, NY.  After touring Ithaca College today as the start of a spring vacation trip visiting prospective colleges with Matthew, went for a run.  Not the elevation gain I was looking for two days after a marathon, but how could I pass up destination running?  Besides, this featured gorgeous scenery and was part of the Cayuga 50 course. 
View from Ithaca College overlooking Cayuga Lake.
The picture does not do this justice, as it is
one of the most beautiful college campuses I have ever seen.
Buttermilk Falls State Park
Can you spot Matthew?  He's a speck of blue running way out ahead of the old man.

The main portion of Buttermilk Falls.

Tuesday:  10
AM: 5 miles at Cayuga Waterfront Trail, Ithaca.  Dawn run on bike paths along the lake.
PM:  5 miles at Green Lake State Park, Syracuse.  All trails, mix of wooded and open field terrain.
Green Lake:  a mix of dirt trails and ...

... cross-country trails through fields.

Wednesday:  6
Metacomet and Robert Frost trails, within the Mt. Holyoke Range State Park,Amherst, MA.  After visiting UMass Amherst for the day, went to "The Notch" Visitor Center to start our run.  This is the same site of the start of the Seven Sisters Trail Race, although it goes in the opposite direction.

First up right off the bat is a grueling 500' climb up Mount Norwottock.  Matthew led, and I was kind of hoping he would take a break part way up.  No such luck.  We did take a break at the top of the mountain, where two girls were picnicking. Continued on to the Horse Caves, which purportedly provided shelter for rebels during the Shay's Rebellion.  The rest of the run was flatter, although certainly not flat, as we had worked out a loop using the great trail map we picked up at the Visitors Center.  Really cool place to run!
Tough footing on the uphill climb!

Views from the top of Mt Norwottock

Horse Caves.  See the white blazes in the middle?
Yes, the trail goes BETWEEN those two boulders!

Thursday:  5
Solo run in Woody North.  It's always fun to run in the Woody. Got my feet soaked crossing the dam on the return.

Friday:  7
Rainy, Mystic road loop from the Mystic Y with Matthew, punctuated with a little bit of trail in between to avoid much of Route 49.

Saturday:  10
Fun, twisty, single-track run with Muddy at Bluff Point and Haley State Parks.  It's fun once in a while to get off that popular main loop and explore the single-track.

Sunday:  8
Solo trail workout at Duval, followed up by a cool-down at Charlestown Moraine Preserve.
Duval:  Pushed every uphill, panting much of the way.   Duval has many features, including dirt trails, rock scree, ridges, ocean overlooks, and pine forests.  What DuVal does NOT have is flat trails!  Good workout that has to be beneficial in my quest to become stronger on uphills.
CMP:  Drove past here recently, and wanted to come back to explore.  It was much smaller than I imagined, with a single loop trail of 0.8 miles, although there are plans (according to info at the kiosk) to add an additional trail.

Weekly Mileage:  53

Weekly Synopsis:  Best marathon recovery ever!  Granted some of it had to with being away and wanting to make the most of destination running, but still, looking back since I started tracking weekly mileage electronically, this is the biggest post-marathon mileage week by far:
Highest post-marathon weekly mileage.

It's rare for me to make the WTAC club leaderboard at all, but 53 miles and 5,208' elevation the week after a marathon is more than I had envisioned!  Feeling great.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Newport Rhode Races Marathon

Newport, RI
Saturday, April 15, 2017

Started my marathon training back in December.  Ran my first of five 20-milers on the day after Christmas.  The last two 20-milers, and the last four long runs (which I define as 16 or over) were tough, hilly runs with Tommy K.  While we knew the hills on our long run would be longer and steeper than anything in Newport, I still maintain it was good training practice.  I knew this wouldn't be a PR course, and my sole goal was sub-3.

Marathon morning:  Time to go!  Surprisingly, I am still not nervous.  Picked up Tommy at 5:30am and made the 45-minute trek to Sachuest Point with some AC/DC classic tunes along the way.  It was in the low 40s upon arrival with just over an hour until race start, so we wore pants and additional layers before boarding the shuttle bus.  Met up with Jeff Duda running the full marathon and Paul Gray running the half.  Duda was just registering today.  To each his own, but I can't imagine registering for a marathon day off; don't need the added stress or $40 more than what I paid.
JD, Tommy, me, Paul
staying warm before the start
The wait time went by fairly quickly.  Skip and Big Mike offer to take our bags and layers to save us time and skip the bag check.  Final bathroom break before toeing the line.  There's a 30-something woman in our men's bathroom line, arguing to no one in particular that she can be here because she saw men in the women's bathroom line.  OK, whatever.  But no, that's not enough.  She goes on to tell whomever will listen that she's not going to use the urinals, and that she can pee standing up but doesn't want to.  Scintillating conversation, but I've got a marathon to run.
Waiting for the start ...

... and we're off.

Start to Mile 5:  Like Muddy's report, I like to break this up into 5-mile chunks.  It was cool that one of the marathon runners sang the National Anthem, and he did a really good job!  Memorial Boulevard eastbound lanes were completely closed for the marathon, so we had two full lanes to start.  Heading out from Easton's Beach, we pretty quickly had an 83' moderately steep climb.  Huffing and puffing 1/4 mile in was not a great motivator!  While our goal was to run 6:30-6:35 splits, we had to keep counseling each other to slow the pace. 
1/2 mile in.  Passed this guy at about Mile 1.
He finished 4 places behind me.
Top of the hill.  Mile 1 down. 25 to go.

Mile 2 featured a major dog snafu, as a dog got loose from his owner and ran onto the street barking and nipping right on Tom's heels.  He came after me next (the dog, not Tom) and I just raised my feet quick and high to avoid being bitten.  FRUSTRATING!! 

Mile 4 was pretty neat going into Fort Adams for a loop down to the water and back.  On the way back, Tom missed a right turn checking out spectators and I had to literally push him back onto the course!  Coming out of Fort Adams, a couple of young guys latched on behind us.

Miles 6 - 10:  We're along the coast and quite flat for the rest of the first half of the marathon.  Every one of these miles ends up being sub-6:30.  The course is absolutely beautiful here along the Brenton Point State Park right on the ocean (much of same route as Christmas 10K).  The two college guys turned out to be runners at UMass Amherst and are cranking out some great tunes.  Duran Duran, Stones, CCR, AC/DC, Thin Lizzy, Bad Company, and more.  It was good to see college students with good taste in music.  (My blog, my tastes.)

Miles 11-15:  Headed back to the start now, I'm think how nice it would be to pick up the pace and just finish the half and end it there.  No, keep the pace.  Mile 13 is a fast downhill mile back to the start, as we're passing the back of the pack 5K'ers now.  Up until now, the course has been amazingly well marked, so it's ironic that the place with the most volunteers (start/finish line) is the most chaotic and confusing about where to go and places where runners from different races split off in different directions do not have a course marshal.
Mile 13.  As you can see here, I warned Tommy that
if he tried to pass me, I'd elbow him in the stomach.
That kept him contained for a while.
 Almost at the half mark, along Memorial Blvd,
with one of the college runners aside me and Tommy just behind.
Still feeling really good.
Our little pack, coming through the half now.
Stunning ocean views throughout much of the course.

Half split:  1:23:20.  6:22 pace.  Possibly my fastest half split ever (in a marathon).

After the half, another runner joins us as we begin an uphill climb just temporarily away from the water.  Skip and Big Mike are at the top giving encouragement.  Winding our way towards Sachuest Point, I notice Tommy is falling a few paces behind the pack.  I wave him on.  Shara and Tom's parents are there for support.

Mile 14:  The two college guys are still just behind Tom & I,
and another runner (on my left) joined us.
(Photo courtesy of Skip Hoffman)

Miles 16 - 20:  Net downhill to Sachuest Point.  Fortunately Tommy caught back up.  We let the college kids go as they're picking up the pace, but we still ran a 6:18 mile.  Not good.  At the turn around at Sachuest Point, we make the decision to slow it up a bit and our newest compadre moves ahead.  Back to the two of us.  We pass the Bousquet support team at Mile 17.  Let the hills begin.  Mile 19 is taking a toll on me with a 76' climb and even after that it's a slow net uphill to the turnaround at Mile 21.

Miles 21 - Finish:  Cone turnaround, which I hate at any point in any race, but Mile 21 after a hill climb, seriously?  I do my best to make a wide turn, but the damage is done.  My legs are spent and don't want to get moving again.  It seems like Tommy is pulling ahead, but the reality is I've slowed down.  He keeps waving me on, but I have no response.  The mind is willing, but the flesh is weak.  I tell my legs to pick it up, but they just say you're lucky we're moving at all.  I follow somewhat closely behind Tommy for Mile 22, but as you can see from the pace chart, it's over after that, as I just try to finish this thing.

Mile 25 features a 60' climb.  Sixty feet:  nothing, right?  Not for me at this stage.  Big Mike and Skip are at the top of this "killer" hill shouting enthusiasm to me.  I hear them, as unlike at Sugarloaf, I'm totally lucid, but I have no smile or anything to give, and don't even look at them as I shuffle past.  They shout out, "You're looking good!".  Liars!   Next I'm passed in rapid succession by two guys, one who looks old.  Damn, I just lost my age group win.  Embarrassing.

Coming up to the Mile 26 marker, I see runners just starting out their second half, and I'm thinking "those poor souls".  Around some barriers and I'm done.

Turning towards home.  Am I about to fall over?
(Pic courtesy of Shara)

Finish line in sight!
Final steps!

Final results:  2:58:59.  I made my goal of sub-3!  9th overall out of 395 finishers.  1st in age group.  (The guy who passed me in final mile was 49!  Whew!)  Full results here.
Three finishers too beat to get up off their duff.

Shuffled over to the beach for a post-race pic.
(Pics courtesy of Shara)

It's over!!!  Thanks especially to Tom for keeping my interest level goingand helping me get training in.

Marathon #19 is in the books.  What's next?  Stay tuned ...

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Weekly Log 10-Apr to 16-Apr-2017: Marathon Week

Finally, the waiting is nearing an end, as I enter the final week of tapering.  I'm sure it will come, but no nervousness as of yet as I start to draft this at the beginning of the week.  I'm looking forward to it, actually, and looking forward to having it in the rear view mirror.  Planned light week.

Monday:  0

Tuesday:  5
Easy pace from the Y on a warm day when the temps approached 70 degrees.

Wednesday:  5
Easy pace morning run with Tommy and Riley on local roads from my house.

Saddened to learn today that "J. Geils" just died.  Never understood
this album cover, but always loved their music.  I grew up with
the tunes released by this New England band in the early 80s, including
Centerfold, Freeze Frame, and Love Stinks.

Thursday:  0
Went to Rhode Runner to pick up bibs.  T-2.

Friday:  3
Final shake-out run, with Tommy, from my house.  Slowed the pace down to an easy 7:30.  End of training.  Wish I had put in more weekly miles, wish I had shed 5 pounds.  Would've, could've, should've. Time to go.  Pasta dinner, hydration, and early to bed.

Saturday:  26
Newport Rhode Races Marathon.  Race report to follow soon.  Promise.

Sunday:  0

Weekly Mileage:  40

Weekly Running Synopsis:  Most of all, I'm happy the marathon is OVER!!  Although not the prettiest finish, I achieved my goal.  After marathon training since late December, it's now time to move on.  Shorter, fun stuff looms on the horizon, especially trails.  More to come.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Weekly Log 3-Apr to 9-Apr-2017: Tapering

Second to the last week of tapering.  As always during a taper, I wish the marathon time were now, and I don't like the waiting.  I feel like I'm ready for the marathon, and am looking beyond it and towards easier races and other running fun.

Monday:  0

Tuesday:  7
Cold midday run in the rain from the Y.  Tried to find somewhat quieter streets to avoid car splashing and exhaust.  Never really warmed up on this one, and the rain intensifying mid-run did not help.  Finished up the run as a woman yelled out to me, "Wow, you're dedicated!".  That was really good to hear.

Wednesday:  5
Needham Town Forest.   36 degrees and drizzling rain.  Had to convince myself to even get out of the car and make this run happen.  Even then, took me a good couple of miles before I got into it.
I got to the 3rd board on this crossing and then the board just sunk
down a good 6" into the water.  Cold!
After this, I stopped pansying around the flooded trails and had
more fun splashing through them.

Slippery rock trail.

This one was steep AND slippery.

When running on this crossing,
really had to watch my footwork to avoid falling.

Thursday:  6
3rd straight day of cold, raw, rain runs.  I am really sick of this.  Highlight of this run was when it was over and I quickly went inside at the Y and hung out inside the sauna until I thawed out.

Friday:  0

Saturday:  8
Marathon day dress rehearsal.  Got up at similar time, ate a similar breakfast as planned for marathon day, similar race morning travel time and motivation tunes during ride to Newport (technically Middletown) to run last 8 miles of course.  Really picturesque.  Just worried about the two 1/2 mile sustained climbs at miles 19 and 23 and what those will feel like so late in the race. 
Beautiful coastline just at the start of Sachuest Point Road.
My photography skills are poor, so I was really happy to catch the
moment of water spraying up over part of the rock.
Since I was in Newport County already and didn't need to be anywhere for the next few hours, I enjoyed my time there, climbed on rocks along the seashore, went to the Newport County Y to shower and change, and went to a neat coffee shop in Middletown to relax and catch up on e-mail on my Surface.  Other than summer traffic craziness, I think Newport or Aquidneck Island in general is a fun place to hang out.

Sunday:  7
Spent most of the day on RD duties at the Clamdigger.  We had 195 entries, which is pretty good for this race.  The numbers have come back up at this race after we started offering the 5K distance in additional to the classic 5-Mile distance.

While the 5K and 5-Mile races are what make money for the club, my happiest and favorite moment came from a different race at the Clamdigger:   the free kids' run on the beach!  After all the kids crossed the makeshift finish line in the sand, they all lined up AGAIN!  What's going on?  I was starting to walk away, when several of the under-10 kids said, "We want to run it AGAIN!".  Even Seth's daughter Ezri, who was the youngest 5K runner on the day at age 8, was doubling up here.  Well, how could I turn the kids' enthusiasm down?  I explained to them that this would be the last run, as I needed to get the awards ceremony started, and then fired off the siren to start their 2nd race!

After a long day at the Clamdigger, I got home to find Matthew hadn't run in the morning either, so we went to Stonington Borough to run.  A mix of running road and a few miles of trails in Pafford Woods.

Weekly mileage:  33

Weekly synopsis:  I would normally be quite disappointed with a weekly tally of 33 miles, but this was by design with where I am in taper mode.  It was interesting running in the Needham Town Forest, but clearly my favorite run of the week was my run Saturday in Middletown.  Great weather, beautiful scenery, and comforting to run the back part of the course.

Final week coming up.  Really happy about that.  Tapering and waiting is hard.  Also real happy that the race is on a Saturday.  More races should be on Saturdays.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Weekly Log 27-Mar to 2-Apr-2017: Snow, Mud, & Flooded Trails

Monday:  0
Planned rest day.

Tuesday:  0
Cold, dreary, and raining.  Just not into it at all.  Tired of seemingly endless dreary days lately.  Maybe I'll run a double tomorrow.  Maybe not.

Wednesday:  5
Blue Ridge Reservation, Needham, MA.  Tried a new place today, and wasn't disappointed.  350+ acres, but because a lot of wetlands, there aren't a lot of trails. 
Slick in a few places with residual snow and ice,
but April is 3 days away and even I am now looking forward to
[somewhat] warmer temps and dry trails.

Spooked a couple of ducks in this pond along the trail.
This reservation was completely deserted except for me,
two ducks, and close to a dozen deer that I later spooked.

Generally very well marked trails.

Very cool boardwalk on the "Swamp Trail".

Early on, I took an unmarked single-track that ended up on a very wet grass field. There was an old road that led here and ended and not much else.  It gave me the sense that this was a remnant of something else from the past, and I was afraid it was a former landfill or worse, some sort of contaminated site.  Researching this later, it turns out this field was a former missile site from the Cold War!  It was built in the 1950s to be used against the USSR, but of course never was.

Thursday:  11
Noon:  6 mile progression run on a day when the sun finally appeared after many dreary days.  7:05, 6:51, 6:40, 6:17, 6:09, 5:53.  Was sucking wind the last two miles.
PM:  5 mile "easy" trail run through Woody Hill.  The pace was easy enough, but the legs were feeling it from the progression run just 3 hours earlier.

Friday:  5
After a single day of sunshine, the weather returned to dismal rain.  Leaving work in rain, I drove past the Y and was very tempted to turn in the parking lot and just run on the treadmill for the first time in two years.  Then the thought of so many other people doing the same thing in this cold rain turned me off. 
Off to Wahaneeta.  It wasn't a downpour, but a steady rain at 35 degrees is no picnic either.
Stopped in my tracks in this mud,
as a sucking sound indicated my shoe was about to become separated
from me and swallowed in the mud abyss.

While the stream was cold, it seemed a good move
to get rid of a lot of the mud on my shoes.
Saturday:  14
Tommy and I had plans for a final long run with MP.  The plans were 14 miles in Misquamicut, with 6 at MP.  And then the bad weather came.  April Fool's Day, but no April Fool's joke.  Pouring rain overnight, temps in the 30s and wind 30+mph.  Not the best conditions for a workout run.

Tom opted for an indoor (i.e., treadmill) run, but that's not my thing, so I held off until the afternoon when the rain let up and I took a 2-pronged approach:
  • 7 miles solo at MP in Misquamicut.  Really tough going in the wind, but I got it done.  Average 6:24 pace for 7 miles.
  • 7 miles with Matthew in Green Hill.  Fortunately Matthew has his first outdoor track meet in 2 days, so he was taking the pace a bit easier.  The wind was still strong, but a bit more protected for the most part as compared to my Misquamicut run.  Matthew mapped this one out, a mix of roads and trails through Trustom.  I hiked with the family many years ago at Trustom Pond, but this was my first time running there.  A sign stated "No jogging", so we made sure we stuck to running and avoided jogging.
Sunday:  6
Recovery run.  Led a Back Road Ramble course preview for two of my fellow race committee members.  They both enjoyed the course; looking forward to this race June 11!
They both loved that I'll have the course go right
onto the beach, and stopped to check it out.

A dense woods section on Sammy C's.
Parts of the trail were flooded today.
I was happy just splashing right through,
but I'm not sure my enthusiasm was shared by all.
Regardless, these will likely be dry on race day in June.

Weekly mileage:  41

Weekly synopsis: 
Quarter 1 finished with 599 run miles to my credit.  Against a 2017 full year goal of 2,400 miles, I would say I'm pretty much exactly on track.  (No, I didn't game it.)
In taper mode now for the marathon.  Just less than two weeks to go.