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, seriously...in 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 - Easy trails?

Thursday - Easy trails?

Friday - 0?

Saturday - 0?

Sunday - 7 Sisters Trail Race!

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 title...so of course I have to go for it!  Officially snagged it today, along with a sketchy uphill climb on an unmarked trail...like hands in the dirt, grabbing branches to pull myself up, 40% grade climb...so 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 it...so 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!

Monday, April 18, 2016

2016 Breakneck Point Trail Runs (Half Marathon Edition)

Official results here:  Breakneck Point Half Marathon - 43rd overall in 3:41.  166 finishers.  Only 18 runners under 3 hours, and some up to nearly 9 hours.  Sick!  This is one Hell of a race, and I've done some good ones.  Not for the faint of heart!  Oh, and there's a Full Marathon available for the truly insane...

Redemption!  After having two terrible mountain race performances in a row back in the Fall, I needed to redeem myself.  I have been training on almost all trails, all hilly and almost all technical, and I was thinking that it would pay off at the 2nd Annual Breakneck Point Trail Runs.  I believe that it did.  Got it right this time!

I drove out to Beacon on Friday afternoon, checked into my hotel and grabbed a bite to eat at a diner next door.  I was early for packet pickup, but I scoped out the Settlement Camp, the start/finish for the race, and decided to drive down the road to check out Breakneck Ridge, the signature climb of the race.  It did not disappoint.  I went a short ways up the "trail" and realized that this was gonna be rough going...

My short recon of the Ridge

That's the trail, doesn't look so bad, right?  Right???

Okay!  Take your time on this section.  Went and picked up my race packet.  Bib #321!  And a nifty tech shirt.

You better finish! Thanks, Atayne!

Cruised through Beacon and checked out the local scene.  Lots of hip shops and restaurants, and a very quaint little village.  Made me wish I'd opted for a B&B, and not the first hotel off I-84 in Fishkill, but that's for another time.  I grabbed a couple slices of pizza at a local joint, washed down with a couple of beers, and got to bed early for a 5 a.m. wakeup call.

The morning dawned crisp and cool.  40 degrees, no wind, and not a cloud in the sky.  Perfect racing weather.  I geared up, opting for shorts, tech shirt and pullover, light gloves (my hands always get cold) and my trusty handheld.  I was really happy when the RD announced that Tailwind would be supplying drinks at the aid stations, as I switched to it about a year ago and love it.  That meant no sloshy CamelBak to deal with!

First light, looking toward the pavilion and start/finish

Did a short warmup, and then with RD Ian Golden starting the race with a sounding of the Ram's Horn, we were off!  I actually lined up correctly this time!  After an en masse sprint across a short field, we were into the woods and immediately climbing, with marathoners/half marathoners all running together.  A long climb up a jeep trail was the first sign that there would be some serious vert.  My watch screen goes black and shows real-time elevation gain whenever there's a significant climb...let's just say that it was black a lot.

The half marathon follows a lollipop design, with a climb to Sugarloaf Mountain, followed by a descent to Route 9,  I knew that I was planning on power-hiking the climbs, and making up time on the technical descents, as that's my strong suit (if there is one).  Once we hit the short roadside section, I steadied myself for Breakneck Ridge.  Holy Shit.  That was the most insane climb I've ever done in a race or anywhere else.  The 1-mile climb took me 38 minutes, and included sections with a 60-70% grade.  Free climbers would have a field day here, but runners?  Well...if you're afraid of heights, this is not the race for you...and after multiple false summits, we heard the sound of bagpipes!  This must be the summit!  Sure enough, a lone bagpiper playing for us!

Runners reaching the top

Mr. Bagpipes, a welcome sight!

Glorious. So glad I stopped for this one...

Views everywhere

And shortly after the summit, as we're all thanking the trail gods that we reached the summit in one piece, a voice calls out "Free Beer Over Here!" Wait, what???  Sure enough, the Hash House Harriers, a local running group, had schlepped a table and beer up to the top, and were handing out samples in small Dixie cups.  Awesome!  Best cold shot of beer ever, so big kudos to their group!

Now for the back end of the race, on tired legs, with a short descent followed by an ascent back up Sugarloaf involving multiple false summits.  Other runners asking me "Is this the last climb?" to which I'd reply "I think?" and it wouldn't be.  Once we reached the firetower, I figured I'd climb it and take a quick picture, and almost wiped out on the missing stairs I didn't notice.  Not smart!

Firetower shadow selfie

Once we hit the jeep trail, I knew the end was near!  I cranked up the pace in spite of my screaming legs, and banged out my fastest pace of the race, finishing well.  The post-race atmosphere was awesome!  There was beer, wraps, smoothies, and runners lounging on the lawn and cheering all the arriving runners.  I stayed for a while, chatting with other HM finishers and got to see Ben Nephew win his second Breakneck Point Marathon in 5:04.  Great race!  I don't know how the Marathon runners did the 26.2, my legs were toast after half of that.  Guess I'll find out next year though, 'cause I'm gonna do the full...

Ben wins in 5:04!

Big props to Ian, Ben, the crew at Red Newt Racing, the sponsors, and especially all of the volunteers that make the suffering in a race like this easier!  (And to the lady making the fruit smoothies after the race?  That was a highlight of my day, that cup full of liquid gold...you rock!)  I was able to muster a smile and a thank you for every single person helping out that I came across, and yes I stopped to take a few pictures.  Yes, it's a race and I cost myself a few minutes by stopping.  And yes, I got a fantastic shot at the top of Breakneck Ridge and some other good pics, which I wouldn't trade for anything.  I ran well, had a great day suffering on the trails, and met some really cool people along the way!  I'm not super fast, but I guarantee I'm having a blast out there, and I'll enjoy every minute of it along the way.  If you like trail running, this is a bucket-list race.  You have to, dammit!  13.1 miles and 5000' of elevation, with a soul-searching climb of 1000' in mile 7???  There's nothing like it that I know of.  If there is, let me know and I'll probably be crazy enough to sign up for it!

Next stop, 7 Sisters in May!  You're mine, ladies!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Breakneck Point! Week of 4-11 to 4-17

So here we go!  The Breakneck Point Half Marathon is this Saturday, and is the first in a series of badass trail races on my schedule this year.  I opted for the half, as it fits more reasonably into my half-assed training schedule and I'm trying to not be an idiot (which is hardly ever the case).  It looks to be an epic course, with 5000' of gain for the half!  My training for this has been lots of hilly, technical trail runs, and there will be no taper, dammit!  Driving over to Beacon, NY on Friday, going to do a course preview of sorts and pick up my race packet.  Hotel 10 minutes from the start/finish, and a nifty beer bar called Hop nearby?  OK!

Elevation Profile, Breakneck 1/2...

Monday - 5+ Miles.  Hubbard Park.  Got done with work early and opted for a run up to Castle Craig.  Wasn't segment hunting, but I knew where they were and got one going up.  Attempted the "Kamikaze" segment, and totally had it, but stopped at the end to chat with a hiker while I was still technically in the segment...another time then!  Decided then to go back to the top on a different trail, and descend the other way back.  Good ass-kicker of a run.  1250' of gain.

Tuesday - 0 Miles.  Bathroom project continues, and it was shitty out.  Good day for a zero.

Wednesday - 2 Miles.  Higby Mt. out and back.  Commuter run on the way home.  Glorious weather and a long work day meant I had to stop for a stress-buster hill climb.  Race is Saturday, but a bit of vert won't hurt, right?  On a lighter note, I'm happy to report that in spite of all my noise-making, throat-clearing and general loudness, I still managed to scare the living Hell out of a female hiker who was wearing headphones, and blasting her music so loudly that I could hear it from 50 feet away.  Sorry (not sorry)!  500' of gain.

Thursday - 3 Miles.  Lantern Hill shakeout.  Easy?  Not really.  But fun, and a needed climb before the race on Saturday.  500' of gain (again).

Friday - 1.4 Miles.  Breakneck Point course recon, Beacon NY.  See forthcoming recap.  440' of gain.

Saturday - 13.1 Miles.  Breakneck Point Half Marathon, Beacon NY.  Recap on its way!  4600' of gain.

Weekly Totals:  26 Miles, all trails, 7400' of elevation gain.

Vacationus Interruptus: Weeks of 3-28 to 4-3, and 4-4 to 4-10

Florida vacation!  This was a long-planned and much appreciated trip.  Stayed at the Royal Pacific Hotel at Universal Studios, and hit both parks there, as well as three of the Disney parks.  Didn't have to drive once, and was fortunate to have picked the hotel with a gastropub.  Great beer selection!  I ran 5 days that we were there, and chased a few Strava segments, snagging two CRs and coming up short on a couple others.  Rode almost every roller coaster I came across.  Diagon Alley?  Nothing short of incredible, and there's even a train to shuttle visitors from there to Hogsmeade.  Awesome!  So my mileage suffered, but I had some good runs and stayed positive about where my training is at currently.

3-28 to 3-30 - 0.  Work and vacation prep.

3-31 - 4 Miles.  First Florida morning run.  Humid but doable, got out early and saw the sun rise over the Rip Ride Rocket coaster, from the backside of Universal.  Looping around the entire park property is 4 miles, with lots of traffic lights/crossings to negotiate.

4-1 - 3.5 Miles.  I wanted to cruise down to Portofino Bay, and take a shot at a couple of segments there.  One of them takes the footpath past the Hard Rock to the City Walk area of Universal.  I got there, and the security detail informed me that I couldn't "jog" through this section to get back to my hotel.  So I turned around and ran back the other way, although I wonder what would have happened if I'd just run through anyway?

4-2 - 0 Miles.

4-3 - 5 Miles.  The morning's weather was sunny, 60-65 degrees, and a cool breeze blowing through the park to make things damn near perfect.  Great run.

4-4 - 3 Miles.  Took a shot at a short segment and got the CR.  Using these segments as an excuse for speedwork seems to work for me, as I never do speedwork.  Good to have a chance to push the pace on relatively flat terrain as well.

4-5 - 4 Miles.  Last full day before heading home.  Great weather.  Scored the Portofino Bay Loop around the "harbor," and cruised around in the crisp morning air.

4-6 - 0 Miles.  Travel day.

4-7 - 0 Miles.  Get the house in order day.

4-8 - 7 Miles.  Champlin Glacier Park trails.  Was able to cruise the rolling hills of Champlin, which had some deforestation done, but appears to be OK.  I understand it, I just don't like to see it, if that makes sense...750' of gain.

4-9 - 3 Miles.  Dump Run, Lantern Hill.  Gutted the downstairs bathroom for a renovation, and gathered all the waste for a trip to the transfer station.  Did a double on Lantern Hill, with a couple of peppy descents on the "Top to Bottom" segment.  725' of gain.

4-10 - 0 Miles.

All in all, a pretty damn good vacation!  I'd also like to point out that we were averaging 8-12 miles of walking at the parks each day, which I didn't add in...but that counts for a lot of "time on feet" time!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Spring, Snow, and a Warming Trend? Welcome to New England! Week of 3-21 to 3-27

Welcome to New England, where we start this week with a snowstorm that's timed just right and just enough to cancel school for Monday, and we'll be back into the 60's by Wednesday.  This weekend is also the Brrr-lingame 10-mile trail race, which I'll try to bookend with a warmup/cooldown and get the miles I'm supposed to have.  Should be, as always, an interesting week!

Monday - 2 Miles - Dog Jog.  Seemed like a good day to jog with the dog, and take some time to get things done around the house :)

Tuesday - 6.5 Miles - Recovery Run at Rocky Neck (Sort of.) - OK, so here's the deal:  A while back, I did a run at Rocky Neck and somehow managed to tie a segment CR held by a certain someone.  It's a cool segment that winds its way through the woods like some Galoob-inspired runner's nightmare, and I tied the CR.  I have been wanting to snag that segment ever since, and I took a shot at it today during a recovery run of sorts.  Cruised around RN, from the beach up into the hills, and after the climb up from sea level, banged out a new CR on the segment.  Sweet!  Cruised around some more on hilly but easy trails, and took a poke at a parking lot segment right before I finished.  Brisk wind, sunny skies, and back to work tomorrow :)

Wednesday - 0 Miles.

Thursday - 3+ Miles - Castle Craig run, Meriden.  Short time frame meant a short run up to the Castle and back.  Got down to a 10-minute average pace!

Friday - 13 Miles - Pachaug Loop with Joe.  Started at Green Falls below the dam, and made our way over to the Pachaug Trail, and took it to Beach Pond.  It was misty and rained a bit, so we were pretty well soaked by mile 3.  Crossed the pond and continued onto the Tippecansett Trail, which leads back into the Yawgoog Scout Camp property, connects with the Narragansett Trail again, and finishes on a short section of dirt road.  Good run!

Saturday - 9 Miles - Warmup, Brrr-lingame 5 Mile Trail Race, extra miles after - Decided to do the 5-mile race, and not race.  I drove down to B-Game with Colburn, who was doing the 5 and started as soon as we arrived.  I did a short warmup with John P., and we almost missed the start of the race!  Got to the start with 30 seconds to spare.  I started the race with Beth, and we chatted for the first mile or so.  Ran the back end of the race with Carol Ann, and did a cooldown run with Paul, plus some extra trail time solo.  Great time!

Sunday - 8 Miles - Dog Jog/Winery Run.  Ran just under 2 miles with Henry on trails, then did the 6 mile out and back to the winery, while gradually increasing the pace.

Weekly Totals:  40 miles, mostly trails, 4000'-ish elevation gain.