Monday, December 15, 2014

Old Mountain Field 5K week, 12-15 to 12-21

The last race of the year, the Old Mountain 5K (twisty!), and one that was a snowy sufferfest last year...and the first in the Winter trail series!  Game on!  I've said in previous posts that I'm weighting my 2015 race schedule heavily on the trail end, and that continues to be true.  I'm even thinking about skipping the CT50 to focus on trail races closer to home, including the Traprock 50K...which figures into the Grand Tree Trail Series.  Turns out, I ran 4 of the races in 2014 and ended up 65th out of 446 runners!  I bet I could do better this there's that.

Monday, 12-15 - 4.6 Miles (Road/Trail) - Westerly Roads/Moore Woodlands.  I was driving through town after karate class, and saw a small preserve that I didn't know about, so of course I drove back to the parking lot at the school and ran over to check it out.  Fun, easy trails, and a nice diversion from the roads to get there.  I almost expected a crossover trail to the Mistuxet property, it was so close, have to ask the Gazelle about that...

Tuesday, 12-16 - 6.5 Miles (Trail) - Narragansett Trail, Lantern Hill to Wyassup Lake with Mike B. - Mike B.?  Trails?  And it was his idea???  Yes, yes, and yes...dropped a car at one end and drove to Lantern Hill, and ran the entire stretch of trail I oversee for the CFPA...hadn't run the whole thing in a while, so it was good to take mental notes about spots that need some attention...great views today from every part of the trail - the high overlooks...

"How did this happen?"

Top of Lantern

...and low points near Yawbux Brook, where we found a lot of activity from the local beaver population:


When in Rome...

Trees down everywhere!

"Alright, which one of you little bastards did this???"

Looks like they gave up on this is a pretty damn big tree though.

Perfect running day, temps around 40 and zero wind, overcast and only one sketchy encounter with a big unleashed dog (Mike said all he was thinking at the time was "Garvin.Garvin.Garvin."), who came up the hill from his house through the woods to meet us, so I guess we were making too much noise?  Either way, we're gonna have to extend the route next time up to Route 49, or at least add on the extra 3.5 miles from Wyassup to my house, to make it an even 10.  Great day!

Wednesday, 12-17 - 0 Miles.

Thursday, 12-18 - 0 Miles.

Friday, 12-19 - 0 Miles.

Saturday, 12-20 - ???

Sunday, 12-21 - OMF 5k.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Fun! Training Log Week of 12-7 to 12-13

With another set of construction gigs on deck, and a Nor'Easter bearing down on New England this week, I'm looking at a tough running schedule...but no problem!  I'll get some miles later in the week.

Monday, 12-8 - 2.5 Miles (Trail) - Short run at Lantern Hill.  Waiting for Soph's Basketball practice to wrap up, I squeezed in a short Lantern Hill run on a chilly afternoon.  Had the place all to myself, no other takers...

Tuesday, 12-9 - 0 Miles.

Wednesday, 12-10 - 0 Miles.  However, I did get roped into signing up for the 7 Sisters Trail Race in Mass. in May, a good n' tough 12-miler.  Nothing like a couple of beers to lighten the wallet!  And Don made a compelling argument with his "Join this washed-up runner..." comments :)

Thursday, 12-11 - 10 Miles (Dirt track/trail/road) - 3 Run Thursday.  Run #1 - 6.5 Miles (Road/Trail) - Met Paul and his broken thumb (Li'l Rhody mishap) in Mystic, and took him on a partial tour of the DPNC trails, where he regained some trail confidence, and I finally got to try out my new (and totally badass) trail shoes, the Salomon Speedcross 3's, my first time straying from New Balance in about 4-5 years:

My new shoes kick ass.  Don't tell the wife I had them on the kitchen counter!

Great chilly run with Paul, and he jokingly (I think) said he better not see that I did another run today.  Well...

Run #2 (Sorry Paul!) - 1.3 Miles (Trail) - Dog Trail Jog with Henry.  Took Henry out for some trail action, and he led the entire run, only going off trail once to poop (Just like Muddy!).  Great trail time with the boy.

Run #3 (Sorry again, Paul!) - 2.1 Miles (Dirt Track) - Wheeler time-killer.  I showed up just a bit early to pick Soph up from B-Ball practice, so I did some laps around Wheeler's shitty dirt and gravel track, and threw in a few fast-ish 200's (40, 38, 39) which would have been a lot better on a real track!  I also increased my stride length slightly for the second 200, which gave me a faster time with what felt like less effort, and is something to think about for sure...

Friday, 12-12 - 4 Miles (Road) - Mystic Cruise. - Had some errands to run, and snagged 4 miles in Mystic, cruising around.  Cold.  Took a half-assed potshot at two segments, and got my 2nd best effort at both.  Afterward, I swung by Kelley's Pace to spend a birthday gift certificate (thanks, family!) and met the new owner, Jeff Anderson, who is a very cool dude (and working with HMF on the potential Mystic 1/2 Marathon!).  I was looking for a new pair of road shoes, as I just got the trail shoes (see above post).  He analyzed my gait and I'm a neutral runner, and recommended a few pairs to try.  I settled on the Brooks Ghost 7:

More shoe porn...

Can't wait to try them out!!!  Tomorrow?

Saturday, 12-13 - 4.6 Miles (Trail) - Lantern Hill + Dog Jog. - Had to make a run to the transfer station, so I hit Lantern Hill and did a double run to the top and back.  Chilly and breezy, but a pretty nice day.  When I got home I took Henry on a dog jog across the street, so he could get some trail time as well.  Time to relax, as we're going to Foxwoods to see Jim Gaffigan tonight :)

Sunday, 12-14 - 4.2 Miles (Trail/Road) - Foxwoods trails and roads.  Just a cruisy run around the lower Lantern Hill trails, and over to the trails at the museum, where I picked up another piece of the original Pequot Trail (pre-Foxwoods) until I realized I wasn't on trail anymore.  Some shuffling around near the remnants of an old fort wall and I got back on track.  Still have to look around back there...

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Training Log, Week of 12-1 to 12-7

No scheduled races.  Just more exploring, getting faster, segment hunting and having fun running different places, terrain, etc...a big 'ol cornucopia of stuff :)

Monday, 12-1 - 0 Miles - Construction in Cromwell...

Tuesday, 12-2 - 3.6 Miles (Road) - Westerly 'hood loops, waiting for the dog to be done at the groomers.  Squeezed in a short, quality run in between errands, and it ended up being a progression run?  Started out with plans to cruise around Westerly until the dog was ready, and I felt pretty good, so I upped the pace and kept it going until the 5k mark, then ran back to the truck, and went to pick up the dog.  I think some PR's are going lower soon, I wasn't even close to being maxed out...

Wednesday, 12-3 - 9+ Miles (Road) - "Gump Day," Westerly.  So to translate (BLS?):  I had to drop the truck off for service, and planned to run to the dojo for karate class...take karate, then run back to the station, settle up, and meet Mike B. for a planned run around town.  I started thinking about the Forrest Gump scene where he just wanted to run, and it's Wednesday (hump day), so there you go:  Gump Day.

Did two before class, took class, ran the mile back to the station, and then Mike and I did a Graveyard 10k, 6.2+ miles around town, with runs to two cemetaries.  Rain at the end but a really fun run!  3 runs, rides offered and not taken, and had a great time...

Thursday, 12-4 - 0 Miles - Construction in Waterbury. - Holy hills!  Have to make a trip there...

Friday, 12-5 - 7.5 Miles (Road/Trail) - Stonington run with Mike B.  Met Mike at his place, with plans to run to the Perry Wood preserve a couple miles away.  Chilly but great day for running, and getting sort of lost in the woods (but not really).  I also loaned Mike my chainsaw for a couple of weeks, so watch out!!!

Saturday, 12-6 - 7.2 Miles (Road/Trail) - Foxwoods solo run.  Had to drop my daughter off at B-Ball practice at 8, and although it was raining, I decided to head over to Foxwoods and run there.  Once I started, the run morphed into a "Let's run the whole property" thing, and I even went looking for the elusive segment near Lake of Isles that I still can't find.  I did, however, find a very steep, unmarked trail that connected to a gas pipeline trail that faces/overlooks the Grand Pequot Tower.  Made my way over to the museum and found more Pequot trails (Purple), and meandered back to the truck.  Good run!

Sunday, 12-7 - 0 Miles! - Took the day off :)

Monday, November 24, 2014

What to do, what to do!!! Week of 11-24 to 11-30

I officially have one race left for the year, the Old Mountain 5k, the first race in the South County 4th Season Trail Race series, about 4 weeks away.  So for now, just training, running, trying to get faster and finish the year strong, and maybe joining/hosting some group runs at some point?

Monday, 11-24 - 2.5 Miles (Trail) - Stenger Farm, Waterford.  Had to renew my driver's license today at AAA, and happened to pass a small park, that looked like it had a trail map posted.  I got my new card, and went to check it out.  Small preserve and not super well marked, but some fun single track, and a half-mile dirt oval track (?), which would have been really interesting if it were dry...

Tuesday, 11-25 - 0 Miles.

Wednesday, 11-26 - 0 Miles.

Thursday, 11-27 - 7.8 Miles (Road/Trail) - Birthday/Thanksgiving run from the house.  Lori and Soph gave me all run-related gear for my birthday, and the family hooked me up with gift cards to Dick's and Kelley's Pace, so I'm all set for the season with stuff.  I'm also going to be stepping away from NB shoes for a bit, as their last couple of pairs were disappointing.  New shoes?  Salomon Speedcross 3:

Looking forward to trying these!

Today?  More exploratory runs into Pachaug, connecting more dots on the unmarked forest trails.  Looks like I was less than 100 yards from the Narragansett Trail near the Bullet Ledge/High Ledge area when I turned around, so I know I can connect that around the lake.  I also hit the connector trail on the way back to the end of my street, which gives me even more room to create new routes!  And I took back a segment on Wyassup while I was there, so Happy Birthday to me!  Then went and stuffed myself silly for Thanksgiving :)

Friday, 11-28 - 0.

Saturday, 11-29 - 0.

Sunday, 11-30 - 8.5 Miles (Trail/Road) - Wyassup Lake loop with Mike B.  Set out from my place at 7:15, and made our way up Fowler road and into Pachaug, and ran unmarked service roads/trails until we connected with the Narragansett.  Followed it down through Bullet Ledge/High Ledge to the boat launch, then looped around the lake on roads to more unmarked trail.  Finished up by crossing a field, climbing through some barbed wire (we only trespassed a little bit), and running the last mile on my street.  Great morning, great weather, and some good climbs!

Bullet Ledge

High Ledge this morning

Sunday, November 23, 2014

15th Annual Mews Tavern Gear n' Beer 6.9k Road Race

I think I did everything right for this race.  The race organizers decided to change the course from a 5K (3.1 miles) to a 6.9K (4.287 miles), as they have 69 beers on tap.  Cool...and my decision to grab a map at the packet pickup and run the course the day before the race totally paid off.  I knew exactly where I was on the course, and only looked at my watch a couple of times...

Race morning:  I slept well, and ate a good breakfast, and felt really good.  Not sore, not nervous, just comfortable.  Left the house with plans to arrive early and run a good warmup, and after some traffic re-routing found a great parking spot.  Ran a short warmup, partly with eventual 2nd place finisher Will Sanders.  I couldn't decide what to wear for the race, and ultimately went with shorts, compression shirt and my Li'l Rhody short-sleeved shirt.  Of course the Sun came out and I was too warm...right before the race I ran into my friends Seth and Kenny B., and lined up with them in the "elite" corral...seriously, there were a ton of people hanging back behind the second corral and tons of space up front, they should have just filled in!

Kenny and I in the sparsely populated "elite" corral, where I certainly didn't belong, but what the Hell...

Fred Z., Me & Seth (Photo by Easter Seals of RI)

Mile 1:  I was sure mile #1 would be my slowest mile, and it was at a 7:27.  The race starts with a nice hill, so I expected this.  I held my own on the hill, and slowly increased my pace on the first long straightaway.

Mile 2:  Uneventful but faster at a 7:13.  I was working but not painfully so, and got through the two small residential side streets fine.

Mile 3:  7:05.  Here was where I wanted to pick up the pace, as it's a net downhill from here to the finish.  I left the small neighborhood and turned onto South Road, which is very straight and picked things up, passing a few runners...

Mile 4:  A 6:49.  Again, it really helped having run the course the day before, as I knew exactly what I had ahead of me, and my motivation to maintain and increase the pace was easier to keep.

End of the race:  Just let go with whatever I had in the tank, and finished strong.  I crossed the line at 30:03, but it took me 7 seconds to cross the start line so my net was 29:56, good for 83rd place out of almost 1400 runners.  I had my fastest 1/2 mile, 1K and 2 mile efforts, among others...and I feel like this was my best race yet.  Why?  because I had good prep, I did my homework before the race, and did exactly what I set out to do.  Can't ask for more than that, and I feel like I have a lot more room for improvement.  With sub-20 minute 5k and sub-6 minute mile goals unrealized for 2014, suddenly I feel like they're both within my grasp...

Big shout out to Seth and his janky knee, who teamed up for 13th place today!  Got caught up with Seth and Amanda and some Channel 4 teammates of Seth's, as well as WTAC'er Elise Vonhousen (1st AG award), a Turtle or two, and grabbed a beer for my efforts.

Beer queues!

The crowd, before it got really busy...

"Janky knee and number 3!  A perfect match!"

I'd also like to point out that the weather was 100% perfect for racing, and about 40 degrees warmer than last year.  Couldn't believe it, what a gorgeous day.  Wakefield is such a nice town to run in, and the streets were totally free of traffic, flagged and signed perfectly, and the volunteers were awesome.  Big shout out to Matt Pelletier for his win in 21:08 (holy crap), and Will Sanders for his second place finish only a handful of seconds later, and all the runners who came out to support a great cause.  Yes, the race is a bit pricy, and I'm normally not keen to throw down $ like that for a race, but I like the cause, the race, and the whole package.  Great to see some friends and familiar faces, and get to run on such a nice day, and exceed my own expectations!  Win!

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!

Saturday, 11-22 - 4.4 Miles (Road) - Mews Tavern course preview.  Went to Wakefield to pick up my race bib and related swag, and grabbed a course map.  Drove the new course first, then threw on some gloves and a hat and set out to do a run on the new "6.9k" course.  My goal was to cruise the course pretty slowly, but I felt good (after the initial hill) and gradually increased the pace throughout the run.  Gradual uphill the first half, gradual downhill the second.  Windy and chilly but not horrible.  Mews was packed!


Sunday, 11-23 - 15th Annual Mews Tavern "Gear 'n Beer" road race.

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!!!