Monday, May 23, 2016

Things are heating up! Week of 5-23 to 5-29

There's more than one meaning that can be attached to that proclamation.  It's gonna be very warm this week, climbing into the 80+ degree mark by Wednesday, and possibly the 90-degree mark by Friday.  It's also the last full week before I get my shit together for Ithaca, where I now start making a checklist of things to pack (dropbag, salt tabs, Tailwind, extra shoes, etc.).  I'm seriously not organized like BLS is, and that is undisputed, but little things like getting an oil change this week is one less thing I have to scramble for next week.  I'm so excited for this trip.  The race will be awesome, but it's the total experience that I've been waiting to do for the past three years.  And now, there are friends who are going to be there as well!  No more showing up solo at one of these, not knowing a soul.  It goes a long way having a friendly face (or faces) at an event like this, as I'm sure you'd agree...

Monday - 3 Miles - Bluff Head Pit Stop.  Realized that our new jobsite in Wallingford is 5 minutes from Sleeping Giant State Park, but also passes numerous awesome trail systems, including the extensive trails at Bluff Head.  Stopped off there on the way home and did a double up to the Bluff and back.  Great climbs, almost 900' in 3 miles, and fantastic views from the Bluff, where I'd only been once before, during my first Ultra, the Bimbler's Bluff 50k.  I enjoyed the views today just a bit more!

Cliffside on the Mattabesett

Spectacular view...

More trail goodness

Not sayin' nothing!

Tuesday-Thursday - 0 Miles.  Demolition day in Wallingford was good cross-training, and smashing a 400-lb. cast iron tub and hauling out the pieces was good weight training.  That was Tuesday and Wednesday.  Thursday I power washed the house.  And it was hot.  So a forced taper of sorts!

Friday - 3 Miles (Bike???) - Local roads.  Oh yeah, I have a bike!  Haven't ridden it since the 2013 Crabman, so I filled the tires, and did a quick spin to see if it still worked.  Yup!

Saturday - 5 Miles - Erisman/Babcock/Henne Preserve out/back with Jim.  Ever since the Avalonia Land Trust acquired three contiguous properties right up the street from me, I've been waiting for them to connect them all with trails...and now they are!  Had a great time with Jim, hot day, and we cruised the whole thing.  5 miles total with only one street crossing, and although the woods are quickly becoming overgrown, I emerged with a minimal amount of blood.  Some technical sections, but very runnable and accessible.  Babcock Ridge is a short, steep climb that merited its own Strava segment, so I made one.  26% grade, 88' climb in 1/10 mile, fun!  I might also make a route for the whole thing for training.  It's right up the street!

Just passed 60,000' of vertical gain for the year, and before the end of May!  My TOTAL last year was 68,402'...think I'm gonna double that by the end of the year!!!  Sweet!  Onward and upward :)

Sunday - No flippin' clue...

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Last Chance for a Long Run: Week of 5-16 to 5-22

Time's getting short, so here's my last chance to get a long run in before the CT50.  Light work week this week, let's make something happen!

Monday - 30 Miles.  Long run at Bluff Point.  Woohoo!  On a super windy but sunny Monday, I decided to pack a cooler with snacks, bananas, and bottles of Tailwind, fill up the CamelBak, drop the dog off at daycare, and hit Bluff Point.  I'd use my truck as an aid station and run the 3.5 mile loop until I ran out of time.  I texted Faith and she agreed to run for the first 1.5 hours with me!  We chatted, there were tons of people out walking, and after she left I continued on until I hit my cutoff for time.  Did exactly 30 miles.  I have to say that it really wasn't that bad!  I definitely could have gone longer without too much trouble, had I not run out of time...huge confidence boost for me, with just under three weeks to the race!

Tuesday - 4 Miles.  Mystic trails.  Sore legs, but nice day equaled taking an easy spin on the Nature Center trails.  Legs still work!

Wednesday - 3 Miles - Lantern Hill.  Did a dump run and decided to do a short run at Lantern, and play around with the chest mount for my GoPro:

This is the entire Lantern Hill Top to Bottom segment.  A lot steeper and way more sketchy than it looks.  This run I did in 3:41.

Thursday - 3.5 Miles - More Lantern!  Hit Lantern Hill again, this time without a camera, and I did a double up and down this time.  Good training!  Bombed the downhills again :)

Friday - 0 - Work day, and I decided a day off would be good for me!

Saturday - 0 - Make that two days off!

Sunday - 8.5-9  Miles - Tour de Arcadia/Pachaug with Faith and Amie.  Great fun in the rain!  Started at Beach Pond, and took the Pachaug up to the Tippecansett connector, hit Deep Pond Trail, and even made the climb at the Hemlock Ledges Trail spur, before continuing around the pond and adding some extra time to get miles/time on feet.  Great fun, got good and filthy and soaked!

So there's a 50 mile week with two full days off.  I feel really good about the race, it's two weeks out and I can chill, do some shorter hilly runs, and stay mentally positive about where I'm at.  The Little Engine that Could! :)

Thursday, May 12, 2016

KIAI!!! Week of 5-9 to 5-15

So it's race week but not race week.  I'm in a weird spot now, between work and a short time to cram last-minute training in for the CT race.  I was originally scheduled for two races this weekend (yes, I have issues, and no, I don't expect them to go away), and opted to withdraw from the trail race in favor of the road race?  WTF?  Really???  Yes.  The road race Saturday is the KIAI 5k in Wakefield, I've run it every single year since it started (this is #7), and it provides karate scholarships to deserving kids who need help with the cost of tuition, which is something I wholeheartedly support.  That said, I'll plan on being there every year to support friend and race director Julie C., run with friends in beautiful Wakefield, and enjoy the day.  And I came in 4th last year!  Soapstone?  Well, I need to get a 'long long" run in on Sunday, and the race doesn't fit that bill, between the drive time and race prep, etc.  So I withdrew.  And no more races after Saturday until 6/4.

Monday - 4 Miles.  Hewitt Farm recovery run.  Took it easy on the trails at Hewitt, legs were sore after 7 Sisters but still working.

Tuesday - 3 Miles.  Avery Farm, Groton.  I'd wanted to check out Avery Farm for a while.  It's part of the Groton Open Space Association, is fairly sizable, and is supposed to connect with another property to the South.  That said, I found the signs and parking, and set out on one trail that went nowhere, almost gave up and saw a blazed trail across the street, which ended up being an out/back.  Fun trails but short, and I really needed a map.

Wednesday - 0 Miles...but...I saw a friggin' mountain lion!  I was on my way home with the dog after a long work day, and driving down route 184 there it was, crossing the road a couple hundred yards in front of me.  Long and lean, long tail, and crossed the road in a couple of strides, bounded up the hill on the other side in a couple more, and was gone.  Wow.  I checked the CT Mountain Lion website (yes, there is one) and apparently there have been several sightings in that exact area.  Needless to say, I now have my GoPro on standby in the truck just in case...

Thursday - 3 Miles.  Castle Craig run on the way home.  83 degrees, sunny, and a good chance to get some hill climbing in. Hammered the downhill back to the parking lot.

Friday - 7 Miles.  Dog Jog, and Winery Out/Back in the rain.  Nice to bang out a 6 mile progression run in the pouring rain!

Saturday - 4+ Miles.  7th Annual KIAI 5k.  5th overall of 121 runners in 21:18.  Sweet!  My seventh straight time running this race.  Long story short, I did a short warmup, and saw several fast-looking people doing the same, figuring that I'd be a lot further down the results page.  Walked up to the start with local fast dude Stephen C., and he pointed out the potential winner, a guy who runs for Seton Hall (he won).  The race started and the usual pack of youngsters zipped out with the leaders.  I figured I was in tenth place, and gradually passed the kids as they faded.  The top three got out ahead quickly, #4 and #5 were close enough that I was able to keep them in my sights, including a runner in a red Boston Running Club singlet.  I reeled him in in the last mile and set my sights on #4, thinking maybe I'd catch him on the last street.  I did, but he edged me out by one second to keep me in 5th for the day.  For my effort, I scored a $25 gift card to Denali, which is already burning a hole in my pocket...great race, great cause, and perfect weather!

Sunday - 1.2 Miles.  Dog Jog.  Long run didn't happen, but the next day...

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

2016 7 Sisters Trail Race

Total muddy splatterfest!  On this course!  Awesome!!!

4,000'+ of elevation gain, them's some hills!

Results here: 2016 7 Sisters Results

Photos here: 2016 7 Sisters Photos

Placed 168th out of 388 finishers at 3:15, not sure how many DNF/DNS's there were, but there were 500 originally registered.

I went into this brutal 12-mile trail race (Garmin fenix3 had 10.3, but who cares!) thinking I was sure to go sub-3:00, as I train on very similar terrain (part of the same trail system), have a ton more hill training under my belt this year, and my time last year of 3:10 was an easy target to crush.  Apparently Mother Nature had other ideas.

Last year I got a hotel room in Amherst, drove up the day before, and had a nice leisurely packet pickup, dinner with friends, and an easy 5-minute drive to the race.  This year, as the race was happening on Mother's Day, I opted to drive up in the morning and keep the peace with a very understanding wife, who had the chance to shut me down on this one but graciously let me off the hook.  There may or may not have been a small amount of bribery involved.

Skies were partly cloudy and the air was cool on the way up, but as I approached the Holyoke Range I could see that fog had settled in, and everything had clouded up.  The forecast was for rain to start around race time at 8:30.  Sure enough, at about 8:25 or so the raindrops were coming down.  I figured it was gonna get slick and chilly on the trail, so I smartly opted for the CamelBak to keep both hands free, extra layer of shirt, and light gloves.

I started to get chilly waiting for the elite wave and wave 1 to go out, and really wanted to get going.  Chatted with my wave 2 people before the race, and after a short set of instructions from RD Amy Rusiecki, we were off!  And immediately walking.  There's an instant bottleneck at the race because of the start on singletrack, but it's OK because the first climb is a beast, and there's very little running anyway.

The rain gradually picked up over the next hour along with the wind, and as chilly as I was, I felt pretty good!  I also realized the slippery conditions weren't really conducive to a PR, and resolved to do my best and see what happened.  I reached the summit cabin, walked across the porch as required, and began the long descent to the turnaround.  The mud was really treacherous on the way down, and even my kickass trail shoes were not much help in some places, turning a sketchy trail (on a good day) into a really slippery, sloppy mess!  I arrived at the turn in 1:28, quickly turned around and began the long climb back up.  The rain had subsided by this time, but the trails were a shitshow, and what a great time passing by everyone on the out/back, all shouting encouragement to each other!

Today's fabulous view from the summit cabin's porch...just a touch of fog!

I gradually slowed on the return, and although I was obviously fatigued I still felt okay.  Hiked the uphills, jogged the downhills, and crossed the line in 3:15.  A respectable result on a challenging course/day.  That trail is humbling - I really can't do it proper justice with words.  It's beautiful, but just relentlessly hilly and technical, and even when there's a short runnable section, you're smacked back to reality with a serious climb or descent.  For anyone who likes to run trails and likes a challenge, this is another bucket-list race.  Two years in a row now!  It'll be on my schedule every year.

And that's race #2 in the "Spring Trifecta" that I'm attempting.  Race #3?  Coming up faster than I'd care to acknowledge...

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

7 Sisters Week! Week of 5-2 to 5-8

So here comes race #2 of 3 in my Spring lineup of badass destination trail races, the 12-mile continuous beatdown known as the 7 Sisters Trail Race.  I ran this race last year, and performance-wise, it was my best race of 2015.  I felt great, hydrated well, and emerged unscathed on what turned out to be quite a warm day (there were many drops due to injury/dehydration, etc.).  Since then, I've spent a great deal of time on the exact same terrain that is offered at the race.  In fact, many of my runs are done on the Mattabesett and Metacomet Trails, and the race course is part of the same Metacomet/Monadnock trail system (it'll take you from the Long Island Sound to New Hampshire).  They're all connected and very similar!  Here's a link:

New England Trail

So it's stupid technical, relentlessly hilly, and super fun if you're comfortable with it.  I can't get enough of it, 2012 Runner's World called 7 Sisters the "Hardest Up/Down Race" in the country (although Breakneck Point gives that rating a reason for renegotiation...)...

Runner's World - America's Best Trail Races 2012 

I'm starting in Wave #2 this year.  I was in #3 last year, and finished in 3:10, and I plan on coming in below 3:00 this time, which puts me in the right place at the starting line.  That said, there's probably some people in wave #1 who have no idea what they're getting into!  Ha!  We'll see!

Monday - 0 Miles.  Planned rest day.

Tuesday - 5 Miles.  Champlain South Open Space, Old Lyme.  I love Google.  I had an impromptu day off, and was running errands in Waterford, and thought "Old Lyme is an old money town, I bet they have a land trust..." Sure enough, I Google "Old Lyme hiking trail" and up pops a link to their trails.  I picked the biggest one, and 15 minutes later I'm in the woods.  Well marked trails, rolling hills, not technical but challenging, and had it to myself in the pouring rain.  And right off I-95!  Great run!

Wednesday - Friday - 0.  Shitty weather and long work days = forced zeros, which actually might be a blessing?  Graded Westerly Track & Athletic Club scholarship applications with the boys in the evening at the Yacht Club on Friday, and called it a night.

Saturday - 4+ Miles.  Dog Jog and short trail run.  Easy exploring on new trails near my house, the Erisman Woodlands Preserve and the Babcock Ridge Preserve, which also border the Henne Preserve.  That makes for a potential 8-ish mile out/back trail run, just a couple of miles from the house  Good and hilly, too! Mostly fun, runnable single track though, and I'll have to use this place often.

Sunday - 7 Sisters Trail Race.  Report to follow...

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Where did I put that Training Schedule??? Week of 4-25 to 5-1

Beth would have volumes to speak about this...

I was keeping up, and staying pretty damn close to a proper plan, then vacation happened, it all kind of went Poof! and disappeared.  Gonna pull up the spreadsheet and plug in the numbers, which from a mileage standpoint are pretty paltry.  However, from a technical climbing (and descending!) perspective, I'm kicking ass.  March and April climbing stats so far:

March:  147 miles, 18,740' gain
April:      84 miles, 12,415' gain (with two days to go! Ha!)

So I'm doing well there.  Haven't been able to get out, though, for the kind of long, sustained cruises that I need to do to feel comfortable about a 10+ hour journey.  It'll happen, though!  Just not sure when...but there's still time to put some hay in the barn!

Monday - Tuesday - 0 Miles.  Marginally decent weather and a need to finish my downstairs bathroom project meant zero zero miles.  Bathroom looks great though!

Wednesday - 4+ Miles. Hubbard Park.  Work in western CT meant another Castle Craig spin.  I really, really wanted the "Kamikaze Trail Descent" segment, which I've mentioned before.  It's almost a mile of technical downhill, is a recipe for disaster, and has an awesome of course I have to go for it!  Officially snagged it today, along with a sketchy uphill climb on an unmarked hands in the dirt, grabbing branches to pull myself up, 40% grade it was a good run/climb/whatever!  740' elevation gain.

Thursday - 3+ Miles.  Hubbard Park (again).  Another long day, and another short stop at one of the places I can snag some short, intense climbs and descents.  Scored two more Strava CR's, too!  689' elevation gain.

Friday - 4 Miles.  Lantern Hill double.  Had to make a run to the transfer station, so I hit up Lantern with hopes of a short, fairly easy cruise.  Yeah, that didn't really happen.  I took a shot at my Top-to-Bottom segment and scored my second fastest time, and another second fastest time on a climb.  Good run, and apparently I'm "trending faster..." 728' elevation gain.

Saturday - 0. - Normally I'd be lining up for Galoob's Big River 1/2 Marathon, but I have some family business to take care of, so it'll be something, just not sure what or when.

Sunday - 18 Miles.  Mystic roads and trails.  Chilly, raw, drizzly, windy, etc...but I had a lot of friends running marathons in the same shitty weather, so I couldn't not go out and get some miles!  This was another "Time on Feet" run, where I planned on going for over 3 hours, and mixing trails and roads.  Saw a coyote out on the trails, too!  Sitting on a rock in the White Cedar Swamp preserve, just checking me out.  Cool and a bit unnerving at the same time.  Yes, the weather sucked compared to Saturday's, which was glorious, but I got it done.  And I saw a flippin' coyote!  How cool is that?

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Post-Breakneck Hangover: Week of 4-18 to 4-24

Yup, that was fun!  Painful, dangerous, and enlightening!  I feel pretty damn good about where my training is at after that race.  I feel like I can just settle into a rhythm now and go...and go.  Monday is the Boston Marathon, which I can be a spectator at, since I've never qualified (or run a road marathon, for that matter!).  Lots of friends running!  Should be great to hear about everyone's day there...

Now, back to our regularly scheduled training plan...

Monday - 3 Miles.  Higby Mt. out and back.  With sore legs and a stressful work day, I stopped off to snag a few miles and some vert at Higby.  Why not?  I did a 1.5 out, 1.5 back, and fared better than I expected, and grabbed 800' of elevation gain in 80 degree weather.  Good times!

Tuesday - Friday - 0 Miles.  Work and my downstairs bathroom project took over, and to be perfectly honest, that race kicked my ass.  I did the 3 on Monday and had to schlep heavy beadboard up two flights of stairs on Tuesday, and I was feeling a few days off was OK.

Saturday - 16 Miles - Mystic Trail/Road mixer.  I knew I wanted a long run, and I knew it was gonna be Mystic, where I could park, easily access trails, and get mileage with the ability to return to my truck for a second water bottle.  I started on DPNC trails, hit roads through Mystic toward Noank, jumped onto the Moore Woodlands, to Pequot Woods, roads through Old Mystic to more DPNC trails, and back to the truck.  Ran out of Tailwind at mile 12-ish, my mistake,  Got to the truck at 14+ miles, switched bottles and ran a short bit to hit 16.  Muggy, but fun and a needed long run.

Sunday - 6 Miles - Foot Pursuit 5k, warmup and cooldown.  Legs felt heavy, but I've done this race the last 7 years and it's one of my favorites, so why not get my ass in gear and get down there?  Drove down to 'Gansett and the first thing I noticed was a stiff breeze blowing.  The Sun was out though, and it was really nice, a chilly April morning for a race.  Geared up and ran into race photog and Turtle frenemy George Ross, as well as a bunch of my WTAC cohorts, and other friends there to race.  Picked up my race packet, noting that another spiffy tech shirt was now mine!

Was looking for my people for a warmup, but ended up on a solo cruise through the trails across the street.  At race time, I had low expectations, but as the race started, I found that I really wanted to get around all the people I was having to weave through.  My mile splits:  7:28/7:07/6:58, not spectacular but not terrible, and it was a great time!  I got out-kicked by a guy about my age at the finish named Cliff, who introduces himself and mentions that he reads my blog?  Holy crap, I didn't think people actually read any of this nonsense!  Ha!  Good to meet you, Cliff!

Cooldown run with WTAC'ers Jeff and Aaron.  We ended up being the three men's team winners for the club, and scored some "TriMom Bucks" and a sizeable gift card that we'll have to figure out how to split....all in all, a good race and I'm glad I went!

Low mileage week, but I needed some down time (even though the down time was filled with other things).  Now to get back at it!