Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Post-PR awesomeness and yet another race this weekend!

Stoked about my result at Li'l Rhody would be an understatement.  I didn't warmup, ate shit right before the race in a ditch of some sort (not Paul Gray bad, but it did hurt!), sat on my ass and drank coffee right up until the gun went off, and PR'd big yeah, I'm pretty excited...

I'm working construction gigs at the beginning of this week, so I'll take that as my workout, and do some running mid to late week to prep for the Mews Tavern "Gear n' Beer" 6.9k road race.  Used to be a 5k, but they have 69 beers on tap at the restaurant so it makes sense!  Total party atmosphere, tons of people, food, BEER and a great time!  Last year I froze my ass off with FiveK, Woolley, Galoob, Seth and a ton of other runners, and came in #318 out of 2000 runners.  I even wrote a review of the race for Bob Jackman's "Sweaty Beer Tent" blog:

This year?  Things are different.  I'm coming off a PR and no long races, and 6.9k is actually a better distance for here goes!

Monday, 11-17 - 0 Miles.  Bathroom demo in Essex.  Nothing like hauling out tile, drywall and pieces of cast-iron tub in the pouring rain!  Good times!

Tuesday, 11-18 - 0 Miles.  Essex again.  Really need to get over there for a run sometime, such a nice town...

Wednesday, 11-19 - 3.6 Miles (Mostly road/some trail) - Run to the Mashantucket Reservation, Lantern Hill area.  Finished a dump run, and being right at Lantern, decided to get a few miles in before running back to the house to meet the bus.  Ended up running trail to the road, and running past the Pequot Museum onto the "Reservation," which is basically a gated community of high-end homes set on a hill to the west of Foxwoods.  Good hills, and I need to do more exploring around was cold but not ridiculous, breezy but not frigid.  I'd call it 34 with a wind chill of 25?  Fine!

Thursday, 11-20 - 5.5 Miles (Trail) - Hartman Park, Lyme CT.  I've had a map of these trails printed out for a while now, which sat in a stack of potential "sort of close" locations to scout out.  The weather was windy, especially on the ridges, and the trails were leaf-covered and fairly technical, but otherwise pretty well-marked and cared for.  After an initial climb, the trails rose and fell from small ridges to creek beds, and there were some cool features, as pointed out on the map:

Rock cairns at the Lookout on the orange trail guide the way

Appropriately named "The Snout," along the red trail

Offerings at the "Fairy Circle" on the green trail

"Fairy Circle"

Cool thing is, there are two more preserves to the south of Hartman that have trails to connect all three.  Of course, I totally missed the connector off the Hartman trails, so I ran down Gungy Road to the Young Preserve/Waldbridge Woodlands trails and made my way back to the green trail, and back to the truck.  Great trails!  Here's the maps I used, which were pretty much spot on:

I have my eye on a couple more places out there...

Looking sweaty and burly...

Friday, 11-21 - 0 Miles.  Cold!  And lots to do.  In my travels, though, I stopped by TJ Maxx and scored the only (yes, only: I looked for more but that was it) pair of Under Armour Infrared leggings (tights) left in the store.  MSRP of $69.99, got them for 30 bucks.  Score!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

2014 Li'l Rhody Runaround

So I was hoping for a PR, and I got it!  Really happy with my time this year.  So here are my results:

2012 -    #144 of 285 in 1:12
2013 -    #141 of 414 in 1:07

2014 -    #69 of 300+ in 1:02

I can say that I did everything right during the race.  I've worked the pre-registration table the last couple of years, and I really enjoy it.  I get to put a face to familiar names, greet all my registered friends, and hopefully get everyone pumped for a great race.  Best time, and hectic as Hell, but I get pumped for the race doing this!

WTAC'er and friend Lynne R. joined me at the pre-reg table today, and we had a great time freezing our asses off, just out of the range of warmth from the fires going at either end of the cabin.  It's right there, a few feet away, and my toes were numb!

One side of the cabin...

...and the other!  You're missing out if you missed this!!!

We got runners checked in, and everything went really smoothly.  If you've never worked a race before, there's a LOT that goes into putting on a good one, and I think we pull it off nicely!  

WTAC crew Polly, Tommy and Shara!

So suddenly it's 10:50 (race at 11), and I'm still in jeans and a jacket, checking people in (202 pre-registered runners), haven't changed, and have to hit the woods for a pit stop.  No warmup run, no time, just go!  I quickly get coverage for the table and do a quick change at my truck (no photos, sorry), and trot over to the woods to TCB, and run right into a pit that was filled in with leaves, smashing my knee and shin and ouch.  Just OW, I ate it big time...I hobbled over to the woods and took care of things, then slowly jogged with friend Don over to the start...and oh shit, I didn't take a gel or hydrate or anything.  I opted to skip a handheld as it's only 8 miles (did I just really say that???).

Ran into Ben N. as I approached the line, to my surprise.  We're drawing some serious talent for this race, and it'll show in the results once they're posted, just based on the times.  Chatted for a moment with Ben, and wished some friends in the first few rows luck, and lined up in the front again, second week in a row!  Ha!

The start!  Photo by Jana!!!  Who's that sketchy dude on the end?  Me!

This race traditionally has a very fast start, as it's almost a mile on dirt road before a bottleneck at the first singletrack trail section, and everyone wants a place up front.  I went out fast as well, at a low 6 pace and settled into a mid-7 for the first two miles.  I got passed at the beginning, but after we hit the trails, I started passing runners.  Miles 3-7? I worked hard, passed a lot of people on the uphill stretches, and finished really well.  I didn't look at my watch at all until I got to the final, brief road section toward the finish, and realized I was gonna crush my PR, but not quite get a sub-1 hour time.  Next year though!  Besides, dropping 5 minutes off an 8-mile trail race PR is pretty friggin' good.  I did a couple things right during the race:

1.  Lined up in front.  Didn't screw myself before the race started.

2.  Skipped carrying anything, and just grabbed a water at the halfway point.

3.  Didn't get lulled into following the runner in front of me.  Don't run somebody else's race, as a runner aptly put it today.  I passed people, sometimes uncomfortably, as soon as I started to settle in behind somebody, and it worked.  If you only run road races, you won't get this at all...

4.  Went out fast and finished fast.

5. Shed an extra layer right before the start.

What I did wrong?  Nothing.  I ran pre-reg. for the club and did my best afterward, and PR'd by a bunch.  No regrets here!

As the race played out, the really fast dudes set a blistering pace, and local hellion Mike Galoob took the win and new CR at a 44:34?  Just WOW.  Greg, Garvin, Ryan C., Jonny, Muddy, Ben, Bob, Steve, etc. all destroyed the course, along with Jeff, Matthew, Jonny E., Beth, Faith, Don, Lynne and a number of friends and fellow runners who PR'd today.  Congrats to all who got out there on a cold November morning, it turned out to be perfect for a race!

The post-race was awesome as well, lots of chatting and warming by the fire, and a great job by Polly, Jana, and everyone else who was helping with the soup and refreshments.  Lots of props also to Jeff, Steve, Joe, Muddy, Mike B., FiveK, Shara, Jana, Beth E., Kevin M., Seth, Kate, the Grays, and everyone else who helped out at this race.  It takes a lot to put on one of these smoothly, and I think it went really well, with over 300 runners taking the plunge.  Another great race day in New England!!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Post-Ultra reset (and race week again???): Week of 11-10 to 11-16

So I ran 32.4 miles in 5:39 officially on Sunday (or 31.4, if you go with the space watch), and while I was stepping gingerly and walking a bit funny Sunday afternoon/evening, my recovery time for these races has gotten shorter, so I'm confident about the coming week.  Next up?  Our WTAC's own Li'l Rhody Runaround, now in its 23rd year.  As trail races go, there aren't that many out there with as much of a legacy, I'd wager, and it's a good one!  We have some world-class trail runners around these parts, and the battle this year is shaping up to be epic (again, depending on who shows)...word on the street is there may even be a Turtle invasion...shhhh!  Also, in the underground, a certain road running boss has been hitting trails with our local fast dudes...and if he showed up that would shake things up for sure!  OK, there's my TMZ moment, I'll shut up now ;)

So Li'l Rhody: I have a couple of years under my belt at this race: a 1:07 last year, and a 1:12 in 2012.  The last two years, I've worked the pre-reg. table with Jana, the WTAC's photojournalist extraordinaire, and normally I skip the warmup in favor of just winging it.  That said, I'm hoping to go out fast and early this year, and beat the bottleneck that happens at the first section of I'm lining up in front, bitches!!!  Don't trample me!

I'm also going to try to get faster as 2014 closes its doors.  I've said it before, but I really would like to get faster at the short distance sub-20 5k fast, I'd be good with that...

Monday, 11-10 - 0 Miles - DUH!!!  But it was super nice out, and I really wanted to run, but held off.  By the way, I may or may not lose a toenail.  Jury is still out, but it's the middle toe on my left foot, gave me problems Sunday, and is a completely different color from the other piggies...also, it feels like I hit it with a hammer.  Fun!  No idea how it happened.

Tuesday, 11-11 - 5 Miles (Road) - Mystic recovery run?  My legs still felt a bit sore, but I had to go to Mystic, so I figured I'd test the water (and legs).  Success!  I started slow, on flat streets, dipped a toe into the easy hills away from the river, and picked up the pace gradually.  The legs were heavy at first, and got better as the run progressed, and things turned into a progression run of sorts.  I dropped a low 7 in the last mile (fast for me), and felt really good!  Not bad for two days later...shit, if I ever took this all seriously...

Wednesday, 11-12 - 3.3 Miles (Track) - Westerly HS track.  After karate class my friend and classmate Lori R. asked our instructor if he could time her 3-mile run today, the last component in her 3rd degree black belt test.  He had a private lesson scheduled, so of course I volunteered to time and pace her run.  Did a slow warmup lap, then got her into a low-9 minute pace and kept it there the whole time.  27:24 by my watch, with splits of 9:16/9:01/9:07.  Great job, Lor!

Thursday, 11-13 - 6.3 Miles Trail/Road mix) - Mystic run.  The Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center recently acquired a sweet 34-acre piece of property facing the river, the Coogan Farm property, and had mentioned plans in a press release to build connector trails to their existing DPNC property.  This is a historic piece of land which they have big plans for, and I'd encourage anyone who finds themselves down there to check it out!  They're even setting aside a sponsored 2 acres for locals, who can volunteer to help their community by growing food to donate to local food banks!  Check out the plans for the property here:

I parked downtown and ran the mile to the new site, where I happened to run into Craig, the guy who works for them and builds the trails.  He seemed pretty excited that I was looking to run the trails, and gave me a brief rundown on the work he'd done so far.  No blazes, but he'd put down branches aside the trails to guide people, ribboned some others, and some of them were just obvious.  I made it over to the connection with the yellow trail, took a quick spin through a couple of the proper trails, and backtracked to the river, finishing down past the Seaport Museum.  Totally opens up more options in Mystic for trail running!  Love it!!!

Friday, 11-14 - 0 Miles.

Saturday, 11-15 - 2 Miles (Trail) - Short Canonchet trail run. - I knew about this Nature Conservancy property, which borders a number of other trails I frequent.  I was looking to cruise a couple miles, and in typical Rhode Island fashion I saw one person the whole time, but it was somebody I knew!  Hillary, a good friend of mine and Muay Thai training partner who was out walking her dog.  Awesome, and after chatting briefly, I was off.  I only did the yellow to blue trail loop, but it was just enough, I think.

Sunday, 11-16 - Li'l Rhody Runaround - 8 Miles (Trail) - Big PR, separate writeup to follow!

Monday, November 10, 2014

RI 6hr Ultramarathon and Relay (2014 Edition)

Okay, where do I start?  This was the last in what I'd call the "5 race series of distance races," and I wanted it to go well, especially since I DNF'd at Chatfield Hollow.  Did OK at Surftown, well at Pisgah, awesome at Nipmuck, good (up to a point) at Chatfield, and this would be the last long race until Spring (I think).  Bob and his team puts on a great race, and I was lucky enough to be assigned #13, just like last year.  Thanks Bob!  I can't believe you remembered.

The race takes place on a 2.7 mile, distance-certified paved trail in Warwick City Park, and the weather, although questionable at the beginning of the week, was 100% perfect for the race.  Overcast, not a breath of wind, and 45-55 degrees.  Just right.

I got up, got ready in the dark as usual, and was at the park with 40 minutes to spare.  Got checked in, talked to Bob, friend and photographer Scott Mason, and an old friend of mine who'd brought his three boys, a friend and his son for the 6-man relay.  They were all fast and I figured they'd do really well.  I set up my own aid station next to the main Better Pace aid station, and I checked out the spread at the tables and asked "Hey, any Wavy Lay's?"  One of the volunteers replies "Yes!  Are you the guy who requested them???"  I was a bit taken aback but said yes, and they promised to open them when I was ready for some.  Pretty damn cool.

Beer awards from the Bucket Brewery...WTAC relay team next year?

Start/Finish, 10 minutes to go time...surprisingly quiet!

Some of the new runners asked about setting up their gear, and I gave them some pointers.  When it was time, we lined up behind the start/finish, got our pre-race speech from Bob, and waited for the air-horn.  I decided "Screw it, I never line up in the front, so I lined up in the front row with my friend Mike's 12-year old son (who ran 6:15 pace for his loop!), as well as some really fast people.  Why the Hell not.  The air horn went off and I took off quickly, and settled into a faster-than-average pace.

I felt good and strong.  I'd decided to bank time again by going out fast, and was maintaining a really solid pace for the first 5 laps.  Friend Monica B. was there cheering on several people, myself included (Thanks again!!!), and I ended up running about 10+ miles of my race with a girl from Boston named Alex, who was steady and solid the entire race (came in 7th overall???).  We chatted and stayed together for quite a while, until I started to feel some fatigue in my knees around 15 miles, and then tightness in my hamstrings and calves.  Alex went on, and I couldn't maintain her pace (she even lapped me about 27 miles in). Rockstar!

I wasn't leaping for joy, but I looked focused!  Photo by Monica!

Every lap I was getting cheered on by pretty much everybody, and by name!  It was like a big tailgate party at the start/finish line, and lots of cowbell and noise!  The relay crews (there were 19???) were talking a lot of smack at each other, and the atmosphere was tons of fun.  As the day went on, I lingered a bit longer at the aid station each time, and it got harder to kneel down and get liquids and gels out of my cooler, which I totally cleaned out.  A couple of times late in the race I wasn't sure if I'd get up.  Other than my legs, though, I felt great and stayed in good spirits.  I also ran for quite some time with a runner named Nathanael, who was also from Boston and coming off Hartford and NYC marathons, and finished well, in spite of similar leg issues.

My run/jog/walk the last couple of laps got me there, but doing the math I knew my "A" goal was out of the question.  I passed marathon distance to score the coveted (at least by me) pint glass, and banged out two more laps to pass 50K.  Funny, I did 12 laps, same as last year, and the GPS gave me 31.44 miles, versus 32.6 last year.  Not an exact science with the space watches, obviously...the exact measured distance for 12 laps is 32.41 miles, so that's what I'm going with.

My official place/time?  24th place at 32.41 miles, in 5:39...

I was stoked to cross the line, and didn't have enough time to attempt another go-around, but got to see Pat Moulton come across and smash the course record (cool dude, chatted with me during the race and high-fived me at the finish line), and see Maddy Hribar win her third straight 6-Hour...great to see!

I was able to hobble over to my gear and get it to my truck, thank the crew of volunteers, Bob and Jackie, and congratulate some new friends on their races, collect some swag and get on the road.

Awesome shirt, pint glass, winter hat and my lucky #13!

I'll be back for more in 2015.  I really like the format, course, and overall atmosphere.  The race is run very well, and I couldn't ask for more!

So there's my recap.  Do I think I could have done better?  Sure, I always do.  Could it have been more fun?  No way, I had a blast.  Met some really cool people, saw lots of friends, and cheered on and was cheered on all day.  Great time out there.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Race Week (Again!) Week of 11-3 to 11-9

Cooler temps and shorter days...after a stormy weekend and very few miles last week, I'm ready to get out and get some trail time in, in advance of Sunday's RI 6-Hour Ultramarathon & Relay.  Last year I managed 32.4 miles in 5:40, good for 31st place.  Seth wanted me to hit 38 miles last year, so that's my goal for this year.  As a spectator event, long races aren't usually very good, but this one allows people the chance to see their friends/family quite often.  It's in a great spot right on the water, without traffic and pretty damn scenic.  The forecast right now (yes, it's New England and it's impossible to forecast 100%) looks good, so I figure to go out just like last year and "bank time" in the first part of the race, anticipating a slowing down on the back end.

Monday, 11-3 - 4 Miles (Trail) - Champlin Glacier Park, Westerly.  Found a window between karate class and picking up the dog from his "Spa Day."  Hit up Champlin as it was right up the street, half-expecting to encounter Gazelle on a lunch run but instead having the place totally to myself.  Sunny and breezy, but the bowl shape of the park blocks a lot of the wind.  Fun place!

Tuesday, 11-4 - Election Day...hmmm...maybe I'll create a segment out of the Bicentennial Trail at Hewitt Farm, right up the street from Town Hall, where I'll cast my vote to end the godawful mudslinging commercials that have plagued the airwaves for months...Hey!  Here's the segment:

Wednesday, 11-5 - 4 Miles (Road) - Short Mystic run.  No particular goal in mind, just found myself in Mystic and cruised around for a bit.  Warm day, 65 degrees on November 5?  I'll take it...

Thursday, 11-6 - 0 Miles.  Frankly, it was shitty out, and with the race this weekend looming, I figured it was a good day to rest legs and get some other things done :)

Friday, 11-7 - 0 Miles.

Saturday, 11-8 - 3-ish Miles (Trail) - Lantern Hill (Dump Run).  Had some junk to drop off at the transfer station (read: Town Dump), and squeezed in a short, but quality, run on Lantern Hill before my day of yardwork began.  Cruised the first mile and took in the foliage, which is past its peak but still looks awesome.  The majority of the climb was in the second mile, and I put down a fast-ish downhill third mile (3:03 for the last half mile), part of it on the road leading down the hill to the lot.  Sunny skies and a brisk 48 degrees, but it felt perfect for running.  Lots of people out today!

Sunday, 11-9 - RI 6-HR Ultramarathon & Relay - 31.4 Miles (Paved Trail). - Separate writeup to follow!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Well that Happened...New Week, New Goals, 10-27 to 11-2

So I tried and failed (or did I?) at Chatfield, but it was a calculated fail, and today I know I made the right call.  I was slightly sore today, but totally functional and able to work without any issues.  Sooo...this week starts with a job, and might end with a race.  I've done the Tarzan Brown road race a couple of times, and it's on my "to do" list of races every year.  I looked at my race list though, and I have races scheduled almost every weekend until December...not as planned, it just kinda happened.  In fact, I just signed up for the Mews Tavern "Gear n' Beer" 6.9K road race (to represent 69 beers on tap!) in late-ish November, because beer.  Beer?  YES, BEER!  And Gear, and a totally fun time.  And it's to benefit a great cause, Easter Seals of RI.  Link below:

I've done this race a couple of times, and even wrote a review last year for fellow runner Bob Jackman's "Sweaty Beer Tent" blog:

Stoked to be running.  The schedule starts loading up again, and I have to convince my wife yet again how important each race is, because they are!  Well, to me, anyway...

Monday, 10-27 - Demo!  Work 7-5.

Tuesday, 10-28 - 3.5 Miles (Trail) - Lantern Hill fun.  550 feet vertical in 3.5 miles on techy trails?  Fun!  I retired those bastard Fresh Foam shoes by the way, with the ripped toe box and frayed everything else, and let my friend at NB know.  150 miles and the worst pair ever!  Next!!!  I cruised Lantern today, and did one or two segments, but the GPS was weird so it didn't line them up right...

Wednesday-Thursday, 10-29 to 10-30 - Demo #2!  Worked in Southington/Meriden, which apparently have an abundance of trails I really really need to check out, including Hubbard Park, which looks like it has the potential for epicness...

I'm seriously gonna make a road trip to this place - it's about 1 1/4 hour drive from my house, and it needs to happen...

Friday, 10-31 - a.m. - 3.7 Miles (Trail) - Long/Ell Pond trails with Jim H.  I was ready to run today, and Jim, coming off a broken toe, was ready to hit the trails after a brief hiatus.  Like a dummy, I suggested one of the most technical trails around, which Jim actually thanked me for?  He said his foot felt good.  Either way, it was a perfectly cool running day, and we even checked out the Long Pond extension trail, and climbed to the top of the giant boulder at the end:

That's a rock!

Top of the aforementioned rock - the sign reads "Live by the Sun, Love by the Moon"

Long Pond overlook on a crisp New England morning...

I also made a point of giving the ascents here a good effort, as they're technical, short and steep, and scream "go for broke."

                  p.m. - 1.4 Miles (Trail) - Grindstone/Fowler Preserve.  Took the dog for a walk and trot, and did some impromptu trail maintenance clearing a couple of blowdowns and a lot of downed branches from the trail.  It's across the street from me so I needed to do it, as I'm out there all the time and I need to be a caretaker for the Preserve, I think.  Great time to be on the trails:

Yellow/White loop, leafy!

I wanted to get a third run in but was denied by Samhain/Halloween, and my daughter's sleepover party, where I run around picking up pizza and supplies, prep the living room for a pack of 7th-graders, and drive them around to trick-or-treat in the rain.  Sacrifice!

Lastly, I submit to you a tale of two trail shoes, and the introduction of a third.  The first, and my favorite of all time, the NB Minimus Zero V2 Trail.  450 miles and still totally cool.  The second, the NB Fresh Foam 980 Trail, 150 miles and NOT cool.  The pictures tell the story:

450 miles on the left, 150 miles on the right.  Note the ripped/frayed fabric on the "Fresh Foam" shoes...worst pair out of 10+ consecutive pairs of NB shoes, and I let my peeps at New Balance know...

And next?  The NB MT3010 trail shoes, fresh outta the box.  Picked these up for 35 bucks(!), going to give them a whirl tomorrow and let you cats know how they stack up.  Decent lugs, good design except for the lace eyelets, and cushiony but pretty flexible...

Let's see how these muddy up!  Storm this weekend!

Saturday, 11-1 - 0 Miles.  Family day.

Sunday, 11-2 - 2 Miles (Road) - Dog jog with Henry.  It was disgusting out in the morning!  Huge props to everyone who braved the elements to hit the races, especially friends who were running in the inaugural 'Gansett Half, the Tarzan Brown Road Race, and the NYC Marathon.  Great job by all!  Got the dog out when the weather got a touch better in the afternoon, and then hosted family for the football games.  Great day in spite of the weather.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Big Chill Out: Race Week, 10-20 to 10-26

So it's race week, and I don't really get apprehensive about races anymore, but...this is going to be a tough one.  Looking at 5,000'+ of elevation gain on what's essentially already a pretty technical course.  Mostly rocky single track trail, with a short stretch on Buck Road (dirt service road) to "relax" for a bit.  Beth said she'd already planned on dropping down to the 10K from the 20K before we did the group run the other day, and I think running the course sealed the deal for her.  Either way, there's some dicey weather this week (aside from the major cooldown we woke up to today), and I'm hoping it clears out before the weekend.  The forecast looks good for Sunday (fingers crossed!), but this is New England...

Elevation profile for the 10K loop...Just five of these and I'm good, haha...

Monday, 10-20 - 3.4 Miles (Trail) - Post-karate class run at Lantern Hill.  Lantern is my go-to for the rest of the week, as it's more technical than Chatfield, just as hilly and close by.  The breeze, overcast sky and 50 degree temperatures might have had something to do with it?  Lots of people out hiking today, and as I kept looping around, I saw the same people several times.  They looked confused!

Tuesday, 10-21 - 1.5 Miles (Trail) - Lisbon XC Trails, Lisbon, CT.  Got to the field ahead of the kids, and squeezed in a short run before they arrived.  The cross country team must have had a meet scheduled, because they'd gone out and raked the trails!  Awesome!!!

Wednesday, 10-22 - 0 Miles.  Coached soccer in the wind and pouring rain in the afternoon, and was chilled to the friggin' bone...but they got the win!

Thursday, 10-23 - 2 Miles (Trail) - Wheeler XC trails before soccer practice.  Not really pushing the issue with mileage this week, as I'll get plenty on Sunday.

Friday, 10-24 - 5 Miles (Road/Trail) - Mystic Spin.  Wife was getting her hair done, so I took a short run through some unmarked trails, and DPNC trails, and finished on the road past the Seaport Museum.  Progression run, although it wasn't meant to be?

Saturday, 10-25 - 1.4 Miles (Trail) - Dog Jog with Henry.  Too much happening today, so I did a short trail run across the street with the dog in absolutely perfect weather.  Lots of downed branches on the trails, might have to do some maintenance in the coming week...

Sunday, 10-26 - 18.5 Miles (Trail) - Chatfield Hollow 50K... - I usually do a separate writeup for the "bigger" races, but as I didn't finish the race, I'm going to throw it down here:

Got to bed at a reasonable hour, and had everything packed and coffee prepped ahead of time.  I got up, and took care of my daily business with the pets, had a small bite, got ready in the dark and slipped out the door under the dim light of the cool and breezy morning.  I made the drive to Killingworth, getting there with 25 minutes before racetime (noticed later a text from BLS asking "Lost?"), and ran into Don, Beth, Faith, Michele and Russell, and a few other familiar friends and familiar faces.  Gathered my gear and set up my "aid station" along the start/finish, and got ready to go.  In all honesty, I felt really good, some nerves but I knew the course and was confident about getting around it (x5).

After a brief instruction from the RD, we were off, and headed to the initial climb on the CCC stairs, as I call them, because they were most likely built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression, part of FDR's "New Deal," and the reason for some awesome stone/log stairways, bridges, etc. around here.  Great history!  The climb is a bitch, and steep, and at the top of the stairs you keep going up.  I didn't mind the bottleneck here, and had to remember that at first, there were 5K/10K/20K/50K runners all together, so I needed to just chill and get into a rhythm.

The first 10K:  Went as expected.  I'd previewed the course several times and knew what to expect - a few runners tagged along and I gave them a heads-up on what lay ahead, and in my one misstep, I followed a crowd off-route and quickly realized the error, and corrected with little time lost.  I fell in at this point with another runner named Dave, who was also doing the 50K, and we chatted and got through the first loop with minimal pain.  He blew right through the start with his CamelBak/GUs, but I quickly reloaded and caught up to him at the stairs.

The second 10K:  We were joined by another 50K'er named Doug.  We all ran together for a bit, then Doug took off, and Dave and I finished the second loop chatting some, sometimes not...depended on the terrain/pain?  We did come across two ladies who were just coming off getting lost, two hours into their 10K race and only 3 miles done...brutal.  We pointed them in the right direction and carried on.  Toward the end of the second loop, I purposely got out ahead of Dave because I knew he wanted to get through the start/finish quickly, and I wanted to stay with him as long as possible.  It worked - I got through, Beth got some "action shots" of my transition, and I was on my way!  (Point of info:  in a loop race, getting the Hell out of transition is crucial for morale...)

The third 10K:  I started feeling some fatigue in my legs.  It got gradually worse, and my "hike the ascents, bomb the downhills" method was leaning more toward hikes.  Dave and I stayed together for a bit, but I knew I had construction jobs starting the next day, and I was starting to stress about how my legs would be.  As I slowed, Dave was still steady and ultimately pulled away, and in my solitude, I decided to call it a day at the end of the third loop...done.  Faith was waiting at the end of the loop when I cruised into the station, and I informed the director that I was dropping.  DNF #2 ever, and the one I was trying to avoid.  Dammit.  The RD was cool (even gave me a 20K/50K medal for going 30K), and Faith came over and asked what I was up to.  I gave her a brief explanation, then got the Hell outta there.  Not a huge deal but I don't know how to deal with the "Walk of Shame," so I'm a ghost as soon as possible...second time...

Texted Lori and gave her a heads-up, and she said she was proud of my decision, which is good?  I was stoked to see everyone I did at the race.  It's a tough race, seriously...I'd note a couple of things: first, excellent course markings for this race...the best I've seen in the hundred+ races I've done in the last few years;  Second, great volunteers!  Awesome cheering, photographing, and support along the way; and Third, a great day among trail running friends and family.  Love it!

My plan is to run happy and enjoy the trails until my next race.  Then reschedule my 2015 list, and make damn sure I can 100% finish whatever I sign up for...