Monday, October 29, 2012

Charlestown FOP 5k - Sunday, October 28, 2012

Official Time: 18:42.  8th of 98.  2nd in Age Group.

I was looking forward to this local race.  It's held at Ninigret Park which was an airforce base many years ago.  It's completely flat and would be a fast course.  It was windy with the approach of Hurricane Sandy but it didn't prove to be a problem.  My last 5k had been a few months ago at Bryant on a true cross country course.  I ran a PR of 20:41 in that race - my hope was to come close to breaking 20 minutes in this one.  I thought this was definitely doable with all the track work I had been doing.

My wife Amanda and I arrived with plenty of time to spare (this was her second race and the first we've run together.)  Saw a bunch of the WTAC guys and then I ran a couple mile warm-up on some of the Ninigret trails.  Yes, I know I've made a No Trails Pact but these were as benign as trails get.  I was starting to get paranoid as to where the trail would come out and opted to double back to make sure I was back in time.  Found my wife and all our family who came to cheer us on and then it was time to race.

I had run the race two years ago where it featured two laps of the bike track.  They've since changed it and now it begins/ends near the Frosty Drew observation hut.  I prefer this setup as it now heads down to the nature walk parking area and only does one lap on the track instead of two.  As soon as the race started I knew I was going too fast.  I tried to ease off a bit and at about 1/2 mile I was running a 6 minute mile.  I thought this was still too fast and I was worried I wouldn't be able to keep it up but I wasn't feeling that overworked so I just stuck with it. 

I picked off a few guys over the next mile but since I was took off fast there weren't a lot of guys ahead of me to overtake.  At mile 2 I looked at my watch: about a 6:20 pace which is right where I wanted to be.  I focused on a TNT runner ahead of me and stayed behind him for most of mile 3, passing him will only a few corners to go.  Family and friends had congregated around the entrance/exit to the bike track and their cheers were welcome. 

As I approached the finish I thought the timer said 19:xx but then I realized it was at 18:xx.  I couldn't believe it - I had thought a sub-20 time was doable but I was crossing the finish line with a sub-19 finish!  Amanda finished strong and broke 30 minutes which was her goal.  She ran a great race!

Local WTAC speedsters Justin Bentley, Jonny Hammett and Jeff Walker took 2nd, 3rd & 4th place.  And because they didn't double up the Overall and Age Group winners, I ended up getting a medal for 2nd in the Open Age Group.  I was very excited as I had never placed in my age group before.  This race was a great confidence boost confirming that all my training has paid off.  Now to prepare for the Lil Rhody Runaround!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Running Log - 10.22.12 - 10.28.12

Monday - Smithfield, RI - 7.1 miles

I am a stupid, stupid man.

Reader, please note how I concluded my write-up of last Friday's run: "I should stay out of the wet woods for a while and let my ankle heal up but it's hard not to take advantage of these fall mornings."

Sound advice.  No need to stop running of course.  Roads are fine.  I just ran 17 miles yesterday and only aggravated the ankle when I traversed the one rocky section of beach.  No, no, roads are fine.  Just stay off the trails for a few days.  And indeed I had planned on keeping to the roads this morning.  But it was a beautiful day.  And the forest sings a sweet siren song.

So it was that I found myself lacing up my Brooks Cascadias and donning my orange hat and vest as I ventured into the Fidelity woods.   I first went and explored the ATV trail that I ran last week.  I wanted to see how far it went.  Answer: not far.  After it passed the water tower on Rocky Hill Rd, it immediately became overgrown and then ended after a few hundred feet.  There was a single track trail that branched off (also overgrown) which I took but it also quickly led to Rocky Hill.

I then jumped on Hanton City Rd to explore some of the trails to the south.  I found an interesting old dirt road now rocky and overgrown.  It went downhill for a while until I hit some No Trespassing signs.  I think I was near a small house on Washington Blvd.  I turned around and made my way back up the hilly trail which was a good workout.

I still had plenty of time before I had to head into work to shower so I made the fateful decision to try to reclaim my Tricksy Singletrack segment which had been taken from me on Friday.  The culprit was a fellow Fidelity employee who bested my time in the rain and dark.  I salute him!  But I wanted to relaim my prize.  So I hit Tricksy and began moving at a good clip.  I didn't look at my pace - I was focused on watching where my feet landed.  Nevertheless after maybe 4/5 of a mile I hit a downhill section and my bad ankle twisted down and inward.  I swore loudly in my fashion and tried to continue to run but my run became a hobble and my hobble soon became me clutching a tree as profanity poured from my mouth in exceptional fashion.

I walked for a bit.  Tried a half-assed jog.  Rolled my ankle a little bit more.  Cursed.  Walked.  Jogged a bit more.  Cursed.  Eventually I reached civilization and was able to jog the rest of the way back to my car.  It hurt.  I've turned this friggin' ankle pretty frequently for the last few weeks but this one felt worse than the other times.

I walked into work very upset with myself.  I had no business being out there, pushing the pace on technical trails covered in leaves.  Chasing an imaginary record that I had created in the first place.  Yesterday I used the Wordens Pond segment to find a reserve of energy I wasn't sure I had.  But that was on roads where the danger was minimal.  Hopefully I've learned my lesson.  I plan on keeping to roads for a couple of weeks.  I want my ankle to heal up so that I can be ready for the Lil Rhody Runaround next month.

Thursday- Bryant University Track - Smithfield, RI - 8.9 miles

That's more like it.

After the disasterous finish to Monday's run, I was anxious to see if it would affect the track workout I had planned for today.  While my right foot is still sore at times and hurts if I turn it in certain ways, I was happy to find that there was no pain when running on road or track.  I plan to keep to my word and stay off the trails for a couple weeks to let my ankle strengthen.

I ran a mile warm-up and once again entertained the girl's field hockey team with my huffing and wheezing.  4 x 800m with 400m cooldowns between.  I tried to maintain an honest 5k pace of 6:30.  I think for the most part I stayed on pace although at times I was a little fast or slow.  Then 5 x 400m at about a 5:50 pace with 200m cooldowns.  I have no idea how hard I'm supposed to be running these but it seemed like a good speed that left me walking for a moment after the last couple.  I need to start mixing up some other distances into these speed workouts.  Any suggestions?

I took to the local roads for a few miles to cooldown afterwards.  Tried to take a local segment on Roger Farm Rd which proved to have a monster hill.  I was completely spent when I got to the top.  I think I took it but won't know for certain until I load up the run later tonight.

Overall a great run.  I'm looking forward to the Charlestown Police 5k at Ninigret on Sunday.  I definitely think I'll be able to set a PR on the fast, flat course.

Friday- Bike Path - Wakefield, RI - 14.7 miles

I had the day off and opted to do my long run today since I probably wouldn't be running long with a 5k on Sunday.  I've never actually run the bike path in Wakefield so I thought it would be a different and easy run.  I parked at the Narragansett wall and took the bike path to Ministerial Road and back.

I was tempted to explore the trails I passed at the Tri-Pond area (I recognized them having been mentioned in other blogs) but I stuck to my No Trails Pact and continued down the bike path.  As I approached Ministerial I saw more enticing trails that headed off to who knows where.  So tempting!  At the halfway mark the blister on my pinky was starting to aggravate me but I tuned it out after a while. 

The run began to drag on the way back.  This trip probably would have benefited from taking a different route back but it would have made it longer than I wanted.  I began to feel tired after 10 miles or so.  I think I was feeling the effects of the previous day's longish run.

Sunday- Charlestown FOP 5k - Charlestown, RI - 5.9 miles 

Warm-up run and the 5k.  Separate write-up to follow.

Weekly mileage: 36.5 miles

Year to date: 1054.7 miles

Friday, October 19, 2012

Running Log - 10.15.12 - 10.21.12

Tuesday - Tempo Run - Charlestown, RI - 5.5 miles

Pitch black 5 AM run down Old Coach Rd.  Rain wasn't falling anymore but it was drip drip drippin' from the trees.  Wore my thermal top and beanie which proved to be too much as I was overheating by the halfway mark.  Tried to hit the first mile in the 8s, second in the 7s and then run the rest of Old Coach to Biscuit City Rd at a fast clip.  I'm happy with the paces I hit. 

Thursday - Bryant Track - 7 miles

Pulled up to the Bryant University track and saw the girls field hockey team practicing at the track.  Luckily they were grouped in the middle of the field and I wouldn't be bothering them (unless you count my huffing and wheezing as I ran by 'em.)

Warmed up for a mile running the grounds past the football and baseball fields.  Ran 5 x 800 m with 400 m cooldowns.  I wanted to run these at 5k race speed but I think most of 'em were at a 6:15 pace which is definitely faster than 5k speed.  Oh well.  Then I ran 4 x 400 m with 200 m cooldowns.  These wore me out and I would have to walk for a few paces after I completed each one.  The pace for these was 5:30 maybe?  Not too sure - my watch wasn't set up for intervals so I would just glance occasionally at the "current pace" display as I ran.  At any rate it felt like a good hard workout and that's what matters.

Friday - Fidelity Trails - 4.8 miles

This was a short trail run down a path I had only run once before.  I took the wide trail that runs parallel to Hanton City Rd and then ran down an ATV trail that clearly gets a lot of use.  Nice and wide but I still managed to roll my bad right ankle on it - it hurt for a moment but I was able to keep running.  The ATV trail eventually leads behind a giant water tank on Rocky Hill Rd.  The ATV trail actually kept going to the north but since I had no idea where it would lead I left that for another day.

A backtracked a few 100 yards to a single track dirt bike trail I had run before.  Much more rocky and technical than the previous trail.  And the leaves on the ground made locating the correct route difficult at points.  It leads back to familiar trails and then I jumped on Hanton City "Rd."  It's actually a wide open dirt roadish trail with lots of hills - it has the feel of running under power lines (there's a gas line along this trail.)  This was fun running until I rolled my bum ankle again on a downhill section.  This time was more painful and I took it easy running the rest of the way back to my car.

I should stay out of the wet woods for a while and let my ankle heal up but it's hard not to take advantage of these fall mornings.

Sunday - Beach & Roads - Charlestown, RI - 16.8 miles

Last weekend I opted to head west and run the hillier roads near Burlingame.  This weekend I decided to hit the beach.  Left at 6 AM with my headlamp - beautiful stars overhead.  By the time I reached the Charlestown Town Beach the sky was beginning to grow light.  I hadn't considered the tide when planning this route but it cooperated and there was plenty of packed damp sand for me to run on.

I ran four miles on the beach from the Charlestown town beach to the South Kingstown town beach.  Only at Green Hill did I have to jump on the road for a moment as the tide was up to the rocks at the parking lot.  On the far side of Green Hill I was ambushed by a sea of smooth round stones.  They came in all sizes, were tough to run on and really challenged my weak right ankle.  Eventually they petered out and the rest of my beach run was smooth and without incident.  Beautiful sky over Point Judith as I left the sand.

Unfortunately as I turned onto Matunuck Beach Road I began to experience some internal strife.  All the crap I had eaten over the weekend was coming back to haunt me.  The next few miles were unpleasant.  I will spare you the details but let me say this: they are doing construction on the Tuckertown fire station and the port-o-let there was a welcome sight.

Renewed, I turned onto Wordens Pond Rd.  I had created a segment for this road a while ago but I rarely run it as it's kind of out of the way.  Today, I was feeling good and wanted to set a new CR on it.  I began increasing my pace and when I hit the big hill before Camp Jori I ran even faster.  I was moving at a good clip by the time I reached Shannock and really pleased that I was able to find another gear after having run 11.5 miles.  I feel like I'm at a really great place with my running right now.

Weekly Mileage - 34.2 miles

Year to Date - 1018.1 miles

Monday, October 8, 2012

Running Log - 10.8.12 - 10.14.12

Monday - Smithfield, RI - 5.1 miles

While I've run plenty before work, it's usually done near my house, on roads, in the dark.  Blech.  I had to work today but the rest of the family had the day off so I decided to head into work early and run some of the single track trails.

I was very happy with my decision as it was beautiful in the woods with the sun shining through the glistening leaves.  The chill of the morning froze my hands for the first mile but they warmed up soon enough.  I decided to run a cool dirt bike trail in reverse.  The riders were clever enough to spray paint orange dots on the trees - but only in one direction.  As a result there were a few tricky spots were I had to stop and really look for the trail.  All the fresh leaves on the ground made it difficult at points.  One cool thing about going in reverse was that I discovered an old stone cellar, long abandoned.  I had never seen it before.  It's amazing to look at the maps of these trails after I run them.  They twist and turn so much it seems like I should be miles into the woods when in actuality I'm never very far from where I started.

This trail led to a 4 way trail intersection.  I opted to run the Tricksy Fidelity Singletrack section in reverse but about a minute into this trail I rolled my right ankle pretty badly on a downhill rock.  The slippery morning conditions finally got me.  I took my shoe off and massaged my foot and after a few minutes and a couple tender steps I was able to run and head back to my car. 

Not long after the ankle incident my Garmin screen froze and said it was a low battery.  This is crap as it was fully charged after yesterday's run.  I remembered a trick I read online - when you get the low battery message just leave it be.   There's usually still a half hour of juice in it.  But if you click a button to confirm it will shut off and not turn back on.  Sure enough, I was able to finish the run with it on.   Whether it actually recorded the whole run will have to wait until I get home tonight.

It's a few hours later and the ankle is still pretty sore but after rolling them a couple times this year I'm pretty confident that with some ice and elevation it shouldn't keep me off the road for long.

Thursday - Bryant Track - 6.7 miles

My ankle swelled up a bit on Tuesday and was quite tender.  It still hurts if you bend it certain ways but walking on it is fine so I figured today was a good day to get back out there and do some speed work.

I got an early start on the day and was able to run at the Bryant Track before work.  Normally my morning runs are in the cold dark hours of the day so running in the sunlight was welcome.  Hopefully I can do this more often.

I ran a mile warm up on the track and then did 4 x 800m with 400m cooldowns between followed by 4 x 400m with 200m cooldowns.  I was worn out by the end.  I ran the Bryant Collegiate 5k course backwards as a cooldown.  Ankle felt fine throughout.  And doing speedwork on the track was much better than trying to do it on roads where I would be constantly checking my watch to verify distances.  A great workout.

Friday - Fidelity Trails - 4.7 miles

A short jaunt in the woods.  I wanted to run a trail I've only run once before.  It's off of DeCotis Farm Rd and after a short while intersects with the Hanton City Rd.  Well, Google calls it a road and while there are patches of asphalt for the most part it is now dirt and rocks.  Anywho, once I was on the trail I must have taken a wrong turn as I never hit Hanton City.  Instead the trail kept winding this way and that and eventually deposited me further down DeCotis Farm Rd.   So not quite where I meant to go but a fun trail nonetheless.

Sunday - Charlestown, RI - 15.5 miles

I was looking forward to getting in a fairly long early morning run.  I took off just after 6 AM and needed my headlamp for the first 45 minutes or so.  Extremely windy when I started out but no sign of rain.

After focusing on long trail runs for NipMuck, I wanted to mostly run the local roads.  I intended to head over to King's Factory and decided to take Indian School House Rd to an unnamed dirt road that connects to King's.  I was moving well from the get-go and once I got on King's the fast pace continued.  I felt great on miles 6-8 and was still moving at a sub-8 minute pace.  I started to do the calculations in my head and realized I could probably set a great new 1/2 marathon PR.  The only issue was that I was planning to run the powerline trail next to the Carter Preserve in order to get to Old Mill Rd and it's pretty sandy/hilly.

Just before the powerlines I popped my Gu Roctane gel (I received it in a swag bag for a Strava challenge.  Was this the secret to the day's run?)  I didn't really slow down much on the trail despite its hills and once I hit the pavement I continued to push the pace.  I've been running on trails so much lately that I haven't had a chance to really settle into a fast long-range run pace in a while and was really surprised how easy it came. 

Miles 11-13 were even better with splits in the low 7s.  I was moving faster than ever and it didn't even feel like work.  I made a point not to look at my watch after mile 12 and instead just focus on keeping the pace.   By the time I was back on Old Coach I finally looked at my watch and knew that I had just destroyed my previous 1/2 PR and was looking at a new one of about 1:43.   I tried to slow it down after mile 13 but my body wasn't having it.  Finally at mile 14 my legs started to realize what I had been putting them through and fatigue suddenly set in.   I slowed as I made my way up my driveway but psyched that I was able to run 15 miles at a sub 8 min pace.  All this running has paid off!

Weekly Mileage - 32 miles

Year to Date - 984 miles

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Running Log - 10.1.12-10.7.12

Tuesday - Big River Management Area - West Greenwich, RI - 5.4 miles

I was looking forward to getting in an afternoon run at Big River to break in the legs after Sunday's epic run.  I didn't realize it was raining until I opened the door.  But it didn't seem to be coming down that hard and it wasn't too cold so I stuck to my plan.

I parked on Hopkins Hill Rd and took the BR Expressway trail in order to try to find the "scenic outlook" which I've heard about.  In the end I didn't seem to get much of anywhere and the trails kept leading to that quarry.  There were some "No Trespassing" signs so I opted to head back before I got lost and ran into trouble.

I decided to just do part of the loop I had done the last time I was here.  I jumped on the Sawmill Trail and took that down to the old piles of scrap wood.  I like this trail as it's wide and you can move pretty fast on it.  Sawmill trail turns north and I stayed on it until it met the BR Expressway trail, which I took all the way back to my car.

Still a bit sore from the marathon but overall not in too bad a shape.  When I left my car there was only one truck in the lot but when I returned there were four additional vehicles.  I guess I wasn't the only one interested in exploring Big River, rain be damned!

Friday - Road & Trails - Smithfield, RI - 7.6 miles

 Decided to run after work and try to capture a few segments in the area.  I do a lot of running up here - I need to defend my territory!  I pushed it up the Technology Way Climb and then headed into the woods.  The dirt bike trails behind Fidelity really are a lot of fun to explore.  I'm finally starting to get a handle on where the various trails go.  It was starting to get dark making the trails a bit hard to see but the real challenge was all the fallen yellow leaves that layered the trails.  Not only did it make it tough to see various obstacles but at certain points it was even tough to see where the trail went.

I took the trails out behind the North Smithfield Elementary.  I decided to bail on the trail at this point before it got too dark.  I gave the kids at soccer practice a wide berth so I didn't freak anyone out and headed for Douglas Pike to try to grab another segment.  This one was a pretty steep climb but I pushed the pace and felt pretty good at the top of the hill.  Glad I brought my headlamp as it was pretty dark by the time I got back to my car.

Saturday - Charlestown roads - 13.8 miles

There's a trail on Route 2 that I drive by every morning just past the railroad overpass.  I've always wondered where it went so I decided to use this long run to find out.  Started off on Old Coach Rd and saw a new R over the front of the new Rathskellar.  Looking forward to when they finally finish the place.  I ran over to Biscuit City Rd, as much for its awesome road name as anything else.

I took Route 2 up to the mystery trail which turned out to be pretty wide ATV trails.  Ran into a bowhunter who was friendly enough.  Guess it's time to throw on the orange vest when I go running.  The trail ended up coming out next to the horse/turf farm nearby.  It looked like it was heading behind the houses on Route 2 so I looped around and followed the trail back.  Passed Mr. Bowhunter again and jumped back on Route 2.

Ran down Lewiston Rd which I had never been on before.  What a lovely little country road.  Beautiful houses and farms with donkeys and llamas.  I wasn't sure where I came out until I realized it was Kenyon Industries.  Took Route 2 down to the dirt Pasquiset Path in order to take the Narragansett Trail back to Old Coach.  This is a fun little trail - it has high shrubs on both sides but the trail itself is smooth and free of obstacles.

Back near my house I could smell woodsmoke.  Fall is in full swing!

Weekly mileage - 26.8 

Year to date - 951.9

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

NipMuck Trail Marathon - September 30, 2012

Official time: 4:12:09.  Place: 13/118.

I was really looking forward to this race and testing my mettle in a trail marathon.  They said to add an hour to your road marathon time so I planned on running a five hour race but I was hopeful I could finish in 4:45.

The race is two out-and-backs which is cool because you see the lead runners coming back and then as you head back you see those still heading out.  Everyone's very supportive and it makes for great motivation.  The first leg is 6.2 miles to the south and then 7 miles to the north.  Aid stations at each turn around as well as the start where you can also leave yourself a dropbag.

Once the race started I settled into about 9 minute miles.  Faster than I had planned but I felt good and decided to just go with it.  Early on I decided to walk most of the steeper hills.  I didn't seem to lose much ground with those in front of me so I think it was a wise decision.  After I headed back on the southern leg I passed a runner who said I was in 23rd place which made me feel good.  The runners had spread out at this point so I felt confident that if I could maintain my pace I'd be able to finish in the top 30.

The northern leg started well.  I hung with another runner for a bit and we chitchatted on the only road section of the race.  Eventually I moved on from him and passed a few more runners as the terrain became much more hilly.  Even walking up these hills was work and I was started to feel the fatigue. 

The northern legs ends with a descent down a steep staircase to the northern aid station.  I walked back up the stairs and then walked up more steep hills which started to wear me down.  I was really getting tired now but seeing all the people still heading out towards the stairs and hills helped push me to keep moving.  That same friendly runner told me that now I was in 13th place.  I knew I had the chance to finish well under my goal of 4:45.

But the last few miles were rough.  I was walking more and more hills and I had begun to get cramps in my calves and thighs.  I also begun seeing spots occasionally.  I had been drinking pretty steadily from my handheld and I took gels every 45 minutes but I guess I needed more water. 

The last mile was a grind.  Any slight incline caused me to walk.  At the top of each I had to throw myself forward to start jogging again.  I thought the show would never end and I was sure I was going to be passed.  But no runner ever appeared behind me and finally the uphills ended and I was able to run down to the finish.

I won a winter beanie as a random prize based on place which was cool.  Ate a few bowls of veggie chili and talked with Jeff "Gazelle" Walker (who finished 5th) while we waited for fellow RI runner Mike C to finish.

Even though the last few miles were not fun I was really happy with my time, place and performance.   I ran a 3:56 in Providence back in May and now I know can probably destroy that time with proper training.  I think all the trail miles I've put in the past few months really paid off for NipMuck.  A great race!


Alright, I s'pose it's blog time.  This site'll be primarily for detailing my running adventures but I'll probably wax poetic on other topics from time to time.