Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Year in Review

In 2010 I began running again after a decade of inactivity.  I ran sporadically (sidelined a couple times by IT band issues) and by the end of the year I had run 50 miles and a few 5ks.

In 2011 I amped up the mileage significantly.  I ran my first half marathon in September '11, began to experiment with trail running and by the end of the year hit 500 miles.

So how did 2012 fare?

2012 featured another huge increase in mileage - 1265 miles for the year!  Other than a few weeks of downtime due to self-inflicted injuries, I managed to run throughout the entire year.  I increased the distance of my long runs substantially and completed two marathons.  I spent a lot more time in the woods in 2012.  Also, after reading their member's blogs and seeing them at races all year, I finally joined the Westerly Track and Athletic Club.  Why suffer alone?

I had a few self-inflicted injuries this year.  Rolled ankles, a smashed up big toe and a bad gash on my thigh.  Lack of concentration (and running in the dark) was usually the culprit.  But nothing kept me off the roads/trails for more than a week or so and everything seems to have healed up.  I've been fortunate to not have any recurring mechanical injuries and I mean to keep it that way through a variety of cross training on my off days. 

And now, my top five running accomplishments of 2012:

5: Joining the Westerly Athletic & Track Club

A little hokey perhaps but it's true that finding good people people to run with makes a big difference.  WTAC has a great group of runners who run all manner of local races.  I'm looking forward to hitting the woods with them in 2013.

This was my first race after I injured myself at the Li'l Rhody Runaround.  I wasn't sure how I would perform but in the end I ran a 38:13 and smashed the time I was going for.   This race gave me a lot of confidence going into next year.

3: Providence Marathon

I got it into my head early this year that I wanted to run a marathon in the spring.  The Providence one made sense as it was nearby and flat.  Despite my weekly mileage never topping 33 miles, I was able to hit the sub 4 hour goal I was aiming for.  I was very satisfied with my first marathon performance.

This was a local 5k in fast, flat Ninigret Park.  I really wanted to run a sub 20 minute race and couldn't believe it when I finished in 18:42.  A huge PR and a big time confidence boost!  I also placed 2nd in my Age Group (the first individual award I've received since running again - another nice ego boost.)  This was also a big race for my wife Amanda who ran a sub 30 minute race.
After the Providence Marathon, I started looking for a longer trail race to run in the fall.   I didn't feel ready to go for the 50k distance and the NipMuck looked just right.  I had planned to be out in the woods for 5 hours based on my Providence time and was thrilled when I finished in 4:12 and 13th place.  This was a tough race and the last few miles were brutal but I really enjoyed the mental aspect of running alone in the woods.

Looking forward to 2013, I have several goals in mind:
  • I'd like to run the Providence Marathon again - I think a 3:30 time is doable.  VDOT has my marathon time (based on my recent Newport 10k) at 2 hours 56 minutes.  That sounds insane but I'd be willing to negotiate my goal time.
  • I'd like to run a 1:35 half marathon.  I'm looking at the Ocean's Run 1/2 in Matunuck in March.  We'll see if I can fit it in amongst the awesome South County 4th Season trail series.
  • Once spring arrives I want to start running in my Vibrams again.  I smashed my big toe in them in August which effectively ended my minimalist experiment for the year.  I'd like to take them up again (in daylight from now though!)
  • I would definitely like to run the NipMuck marathon again.  This will be the 30th running of it and I'd like to outperform my 2012 self.
  • Sub 18 minute 5k perhaps?

Thanks to everyone who took time to read my blog this year.  I appreciate it!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Weekly Log: 12.23.12 - 12.30.12

Monday - Ryan Park - North Kingstown, RI - 6.1 miles

Although I have to work on Christmas Eve which is crap I made the best of it by stopping at Ryan Park and running work.  I thought this would be a good opportunity to run the upcoming Belleville Pond 10k course (South County 4th Season race #3.)  Pulling into the park I saw a group of about six women in the middle of the lot.  They took off running into the park as I was getting ready.  On the trails I encountered several people walking dogs including a couple running with their canine.  Ryan Park is apparently a popular spot, even on cold mornings.

I did a pretty good job of remembering the course considering it's been a year.  I think I took a wrong turn after the sand dunes because the trail didn't look familiar.  It took me down past a marshy area that I didn't remember from the race.  But it eventually led to the old railbed section so I probably hit at least 90% of the course in the end. 

Tuesday - 0 miles

Merry Christmas!   It was filled with family, food and fun.  Lots of pie, good beer and my mother-in-law's devilish peanut butter balls. 

Wednesday - Smithfield, RI - 6.9 miles

Time to work off those peanut butter balls.  I decided to stick to roads today so I did a big loop up in Smithfield.  This did involve a short trail section at the beginning for which I was very happy - it was wonderful out there in the woods.  There was a light covering of snow on the ground and small frozen pools of water everywhere.  Very pleasant running in this cold winter environment.

After the trail section, I jumped onto Rocky Hill Rd - a wide, quiet road with a couple good hills.  The roads weren't as enriching as running in the woods but I wanted an even surface for today's run to give my janky foot a break.  It doesn't hurt or anything but I don't want to overdo the trail running.  Other than a few icy spots the roads were uneventful.  I was wearing my thermals and thought I'd also need my fleece vest but it proved to be overkill as I was overheating for the last couple miles.

Thursday - Smithfield, RI - 6 miles

Ab Ripper X (20 minutes)

My plan was to get in a track workout at Bryant.  It had been raining all night but it was supposed to start tapering off by 8 AM so I figured it wouldn't be too bad for running.  Once I pulled into the Bryant parking lot I realized my plan was flawed.  There was an inch of slush throughout the parking lot and just as much on the track.  My feet were soaked within 30 seconds and I realized the track workout was not going to happen.

So instead I just started to run through the Bryant campus, trying to find walkways which were clear of slush and ponds.  After a few minutes I opted to leave campus on one of the side roads and just run.  It was hard to avoid water as it was pooling all over the place so I just plowed through.  A ran a few miles to the Smith Appleby House - just a couple historic buildings and a barn.

As I turned around it began to pour.  So much for it tapering off.  The water finally breached my rain jacket and I was drenched for the return trip.  Despite the awful conditions I was actually enjoying myself.  I'm sure the passing motorists were amused by this crazy asshole running in the rain with a big smile on his face.  Near the end my hands were really starting to get cold so I was happy when I finally made it back to my car.

Friday - Charlestown, RI - 5.1 miles

Short early morning run down Old Coach and back.  It was cold of course but the moon was huge and bright in the sky.  I included a couple quick Charlestown Land Trust sections in the run.  At one point I roused a bird in the tall grass next to me - scared the shit out of me.

Saturday - 0 miles

Sunday - 0 miles

I traveled to New York on Saturday for a Phish show which left me with neither the time, energy or inclination to run.

Weekly mileage: 24.1 miles

 Year to Date: 1256.8 miles

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Weekly Log: 12.17.12 - 12.23.12

Monday - Smithfield, RI - 6 miles

Got up early to do strength training but I just couldn't will myself to do it.  However the rain looked like it was going to peter out by mid-morning so I opted to run before work.  I parked at Bryant and did a loop around the local reservoir Stump Pond.  The rain was mostly a drizzle throughout the run - not too bad and not really cold either.

It's a big descent from Bryant down to the pond.  I took Old Forge Rd over to Log Rd.  Quiet country roads with few cars.  Quite the variety of houses along the pond.  Some beautiful pieces of property.  Others were older shanties that somehow haven't yet collapsed down steep hills into the water.  The hills back up to Bryant were a tough but satisfying end to the run.

Tuesday - 0 miles

P90X Plyometrics (60 minutes)

Wednesday - 0 miles

Ab Ripper X (20 minutes)

Thursday - Wolf Hill - Smithfield, RI - 6.1 miles

I was going to do speedwork today but I really wanted to get in a trail run this week and with tomorrow looking suspect I thought it better to run offroad today.  I opted to head back to Wolf Hill - I haven't run here in awhile and the trails are challenging and varied.  Probably more technical than I needed with my weak foot but I donned my ankle brace and made my way up into the hill.

This area has a lot of variety.  Many of the trails are pretty rocky and required my full concentration.  The power lines run down the middle of the management area and offer a chance to run on rocky/dirt trails out in the open.  The Mercer Lookout is the remains of an old house - now only a crumbling chimney remain atop a massive rock outcropping.  But it offers a great view of Providence and the bay beyond.

Then I headed to the quarry which offers great views of Stump Pond and Smithfield beyond.  This old quarry now yields a large fire pit at the base with various chairs and benches scattered about.  Clearly the younglings come here at night to dance and make mischief.  But in the light of the morning the place was deserted - only their dirt bike tracks and broken bottles remain.

From here I headed down to run along the edge of Stump Pond and then up the Ken Mercer trail where I took various other unnamed trails back to my car.  I was aware of my bad foot the whole time and was constantly concentrating on watching my step.  Other than a few twinges there was no pain and no bad rolls.  A successful trail run on some difficult terrain.

Friday - 0 miles

P90X Chest & Back (60 minutes)

It looked like a friggin' monsoon outside so I opted to do some strength training that I neglected earlier in the week.

Saturday - Woody Hill / Wahaneeta trails - 12.7 miles

Big group run with Jonny, Jeff, Muddy, Mike B and Tom.  We met at the Benny's parking lot at 6:30 AM and made our way up to the Woody Hill management area.  It was nice to finally meet Tommy 5k and chat with all the WTAC guys throughout the run.  Woody Hill is a great area I've never run in before.  We ran on wide dirt trails for a while before jumping back onto roads for a bit in Bradford.  Tom had managed to park his car in the middle of nowhere and left us at the halfway mark.  Jeff then took us on a favorite swamp trail of his and I use the word trail loosely - briars and muck abound on this barely there trail.

Jeff was been doing some trail work on the Wahaneeta preserve and was excited to show us this new area that was purchased by the Westerly Land Trust.  Cool burnt out chimney and the makings of an abandoned hobo camp.  The centerpiece of Wahaneeta is an old girl scout cabin which is in the process of being repaired.  Pretty cool structure and it was neat to see this sweet cabin in the middle of the woods.  Then Jeff took us down some unfinished singletrack to a large outcrop of rocks with great views of the area.  With a large field nearby we mused about holding a trail event in these woods.  Then we jumped back onto the road and ran down Dunns Corner Rd back to our cars.

It was a lot of fun doing a long trail run with like minded folks and I'm looking forward to more such runs in 2013.

Sunday - 0 miles

P90X Yoga X (45 minutes)

Weekly mileage: 24.8 miles

Year to Date: 1,232.7 miles

Monday, December 17, 2012

Old Mountain Field 5k Trail Race

Official time: 21:23.   15th of 135.

Winter is here and that means it's time for the South County 4th Season Trail series.   Put on by local speedster and recent WTAC member Mike Galoob, it's a great mix of trail distances at a variety of southern RI trails.

The first one is a 5k held on some old/new trails in Old Mountain Field in Wakefield.  I waited until the last minute to register for this one as I wasn't sure how confident I was in my bad foot.  After getting a spiffy new brace and taking it for a test run on Friday, I felt optimistic enough to attempt this race.

I did the course as a warm-up with Mike C and we were both surprised by how technical and tricky it was.  Muddy sections, stone bridges, briars and big rocks: this course had a little of everything.  It was fun chatting with Mike and there were no issues with the foot on the warm-up.  I was glad to have a preview of the actual race.

Soon it was time to line up.  Lots of WTAC folks.  Lots of TNT people.   I took off fast along with everyone else as people were trying to get into good position before the race entered the woods.  I entered the woods in about 16th place which was just about right because there was very little passing going on around me on the trails.

I took off so fast that I was already pretty tired entering the woods.  Luckily the first section is all rooty and required a lot of concentration - kept my mind off the exhaustion.  I focused on keeping up with the blue shirted guy ahead of me.  The trail crossed over some tricky rock bridges and then settled into a newer section that was already getting pretty muddy from the lead runners.

Once the course turned onto an established trail I took the opportunity to pass blue shirt guy and the yellow shirt kid ahead of him.  From this point on there was no one ahead of me - but I was constantly aware of being chased.  At one corner I glanced back and saw that it was Mike B and Yellow Boy right on my tail.

As the trail approaches the Old Mountain parking lot there's a series of miserable switchbacks that left me exhausted and frustrated as I nearly went off trail several times.  Any momentum I had was constantly being erased.  And the chasers were right behind me!  The course skirts the parking lot and gives spectators a chance to cheer their runners.  Turns out that Yellow Boy had a lot of crowd support and that his name is Sam.  As the trail turned inward for one last cruel uphill section, I heard a fan tell Yellow Sam to "pass those old guys."  Ouch.

As the course spilled out of the woods and onto the field Yellow Sam did as he was told and zipped past me.  I should have risen to the challenge but I was just happy that I had made it through the entire trail race without friggin' up my foot!  We reached the last straightaway and I checked the systems to see if I could mount a kick but the trails had left me exhausted.  Mike B had juice enough though and passed me as well, almost catching Yellow Sam in the process.

So I finished in 15th with a respectable time of 21:23 and fifth for WTAC.  I'm slightly disappointed that Sam (who turned out to be 11  - yikes!) and Mike B got the best of me at the end but I'm very pleased that I was able to tackle this technical trail race with no foot issues.  This was a big confidence boost and I plan to get back out in the woods on a regular basis again!

After the race I chatted with folks, ate some grub and did a cooldown with WTAC guys, picking up some course flags along the way.  Got back for the awards and found out the Tuesday Night Turtles won the team division.  Curses!  However there are plenty of races left in the series for WTAC to find their mojo!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Weekly Log: 12.10.12 - 12.16.12

Monday - 0 miles

It was raining pretty hard in the morning which was a good enough excuse to skip my run.  Legs are actually pretty sore from yesterday's race.

Tuesday - 0 miles

P90X Chest & Back (60 minutes)
Ab Ripper X (20 minute)

My janky right foot has been getting better.  I can roll it further onto the outside before the pain starts.   I had an appointment today to see a sports medicine ortho as I wanted to see what he would say.  Basically he echoed my primary care doc.  It's not a stress fracture.  It should get better with time.  He gave me a kickass ankle brace which I can wear over my sock that should stabilize the foot and help keep it from rolling.  We shall see.

Wednesday - 0 miles

P90X Plyometrics (60 minutes)

Thursday - Charlestown, RI - 6.2 miles

It was cold and dark out there and I had no interest in running at 5:00 AM.  But after three days off I wanted to get a run in.  I also wanted to test out my new ankle brace on even ground before taking it into the woods.  The test was a success - no discomfort running in it. 

I ran at a pretty good clip up to Biscuit City Road where I turned around after three miles.  Right at the turn around there were green eyes looking at me.  Mountain lion?  No, I think it was a dog of some kind.  Still creepy and I kept looking over my shoulder for a couple minutes to make sure it wasn't following me.

I just signed up for the Old Mountain 5k Trail Race this Sunday.  Looking forward to racing with WTAC again.

Friday - Smithfield, RI - 4.3 miles

Ab Ripper X (20 minutes)

Did a short run this morning in the trails near Fidelity.  Took the old road/trail that leads to Rocky Hill Rd out and then ran the Hanton City trail back.  This is a nice wide trail with big hills and good footing.  I had my fancy schmancy ankle brace on and there were no issues with the foot.  A good sign.  It was nice running offroad in the cold with the bright sun.

Saturday - 0 miles

P90X Yoga X (90 minutes)

Sunday - Old Mountain Field 5k Trail Race - 7.4 miles

Separate write-up to here.

Weekly Mileage: 17.6 miles

Year to Date: 1,207.9 miles

Monday, December 10, 2012

Newport Christmas 10k

Official time: 38:13.  18th out of 459.

This race popped onto my radar a few weeks ago when some of the WTAC guys started talking about it.  After the rolling calamity which was the Li'l Rhody Runaround this seemed like a good road event that might allow me to regain confidence.  Plus the distance - 10k instead of 5k - was appealing as it's not a distance I usually race.  A few weeks ago I calculated my time using VDOT and it spit out 38:52.  This seemed pretty bold so I was aiming for a sub-40 minute performance.

The race begins near and ends at the Rogers High School.  Met up with the WTAC crew before the race and did a couple miles of warm-up.  They immediately entered a park across the street from the High School and I broke my Trail Moratorium three days early.  Forgive me!  But there were no incidents with the foot and it was fun listening to the guys discuss strategy and the upcoming Old Mountain Field 5k.  This was actually a pretty cool little park with wooded trails, great elevated views and a giant rock wall with a mysterious door.  As crazy as it sounds this was the first time I've done a group run with anyone since I started running again.  Very enjoyable and hopefully I'll get in some longer trail runs with these guys soon.

Then it was time to make our way to the starting line.  Lots of fast people there and last year's team winners - Tuesday Night Turtles - were once again well represented.  I lined up behind the WTAC guys and was determined not to go out as fast as at Li'l Rhody.  The gun went off and I settled into a 6:20 pace as people passed by me.  I kept glancing at my Garmin for the first two miles.  6:10 pace.  6:35 pace.  6:12 pace.  Finally as I approached Bretton Point I was able to tune it out for the most part and focus on just running at a good hard pace.

The field was spread out as we passed Bretton Point.  Now I began slowly overtaking the various people in front of me.  As we rounded the southern edge of BP, there was a major headwind - I looked down at the road ahead of me and tried not to slow down.  I hit the halfway mark and looked at my watch - 19:30.  Pretty pleased as this is a good 5k time for me and I felt that I could keep this pace which would set me up to finish around 39 minutes.

By miles 4 & 5 I had settled into a good rhythm, picking off the runners and moving closer to the next.  Just before mile 5 the race intersects with the 3.5 mile walkers and suddenly there were lots of people to avoid.  Not a big deal but occasionally they would be spread out as much as four people across the road which was aggravating to avoid.

At mile 6 I was feeling the fatigue.  I could only see one more runner ahead of me (in a green tank top) and I didn't think I was gaining fast enough to overtake him.  The course veered north onto Carroll Ave and now I was really working.  When I hit the section of the course we had run in the warm-up I knew it was almost over.  The course turned onto Ruggles Ave and I was getting pretty close to Green Tank Top.  There's a big hill right before the finish and I was determined not to loose speed.  Green Tank Top made the mistake of hugging the left side of the road whereas I took the direct line up the right and tried to push it up the hill with whatever I had left.

At the top of the hill it was a short run into the high school parking lot.  Cheerleaders line both sides of the road which was a nice touch.  As I entered the corral I saw the timer (38:1x) and was thrilled.  Not only was I able to maintain my pace - I actually did one better and hit a negative split.  In VDOT I Trust from now on I guess.  The usual suspects were all milling about the finish line.  Mike G and Justin led the way for Team WTAC and Jonny and Jeff both had big PRs.  I thought maybe we could take the team award but TNT eked out another win by just over a minute.  So close!

Did a quick cooldown, grabbed some soup in the overpacked gymnasium and then left in a hurry.  Met up with my wife and daughter and we headed to Providence for a cookie bake-off.  Ate way too many cookies and earned every one of them.  I didn't feel so great afterwards but it was worth it!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Weekly Log: 12.3.12 - 12.9.12

Monday - Smithfield, RI - 7 miles

Yoga X (45 minutes)

The top of my troubled right foot was achy again this morn.  But I didn't seem to notice it while I was doing yoga or running.  I had to get out of the Fidelity path system today - I was getting bored.  I decided to attempt to snag a few Strava segment KOMs.  Unfortunately this meant the bulk of my running was on the Douglas Pike running against morning traffic.  It was busy as I ran away from work but at least it was pretty sparse on the way back.

Both segments I went after were up big hills so I guess you could say this was a makeshift hill workout.  I snagged one of the segments but the other one was actually a bike ride mistakenly indexed as a run.  I'll have to have that amended.

Tuesday - 0 miles

P90X Chest & Back (50 minutes)
Ab Ripper X (20 minutes)

We just got the complete P90X video series so I'm going to be adding these in as cross-training on my off days.  Today was Chest & Back which is mostly push-ups and pull-ups.  I can only do a few pull-ups at a time and some of the push-up variations were equally difficult.  I was pretty weak by the end.  First time I've done Ab Ripper X after another workout and it finished me off.

Wednesday - 0 miles

P90X Plyometrics (60 minutes)

I was a little worried about this one as I know it has a tendency to wear people down with all the jumping and movement.  Thanks to my running it wasn't that bad.  It was tiring but I was well prepared cardio-wise.  Good workout.

Thursday - Charlestown, RI - 5.4 miles

It's been awhile since I've had to march out into the cold, dark morning to run and I've been thankful for that.  But this was my only chance to run today and after my last two days of P90X I'm pretty much sore all over.  I needed a break.  So out into the cold I went.  I warmed up pretty quickly and did my standard out and back to the Nordic Lodge.

Friday - Smithfield, RI - 6.2 miles

Standard run around the Fidelity paths.   Legs are pretty sore from Plyometrics two days prior.  I knew that incorporating P90X workouts into my routine would sap my energy for a while and I definitely felt it on this run.  Just felt sluggish throughout.  I plan to take it easy tomorrow and hopefully I'll do alright at the Newport 10k on Sunday.

Saturday - 0 miles

Stretch X (50 minutes)

Sunday - Christmas 10k - Newport RI - 10 miles

Separate write-up here.

Weekly mileage: 28.7 miles

Year to Date: 1,190.3 miles