Monday, April 29, 2013

TARC 50k Spring Classic

It was finally time for the Trail Animals Running Club 50k Spring Classic taking place in Weston, MA.  31 miles that takes place on a fast trail loop that you run five times.  Going into this race I felt that I could run a 4:30 time and maybe even as low as a 4:15 if I felt good.  Additionally I hoped to finish lap 4 before the frontrunners finished thus avoiding getting lapped.  We had chinese food the night before which I doubt is on the list of approved ultrarunner meals but I have a hard time saying No to teriyaki beef sticks and lo mein.

Jonny picked me up at the ripe hour of 5:20 (thanks Jonny) and we went and picked up Mike Galoob.  We got there with plenty of time to spare and registered, listened to the pre-race meeting and saw fellow WTACers Mike C, Shira and Mark Fuller as well as Gunshow who was nursing a busted ankle. All the runners are assigned different snacks to bring and the aid station at the start/finish is filled with all manner of cookies, candy, chips and treats, along with staple running aids like gels, salt tabs and drinks.  Almost as soon as the pre-race spiel was over, the 10kers took off into the woods.  We had 15 minutes to get ourselves together and then we lined up and were off.

Every treat in the world can be yours.

Lap 1 - 49 minutes
I took off at a pace which wasn't too fast and didn't feel like work.  In addition to the 10k and the 50k, there was a half and full marathon and those runners quickly peeled off down a different trail and it was just the 50kers for a while.  They weren't kidding about it being a fast course - the trails were wide open and very clear of obstacles for the most part.  There were a few muddy sections to navigate but they were the exception.  I settled into a pace behind a couple runners which proved trouble as we ended up going off course.  By the time we realized our mistake we had pulled several other runners along with us.  We quickly found the right trail and continued on.  I finished the first lap in about 50 minutes which seemed right on.  If I could keep this pace up I'd be cookin'.  Coming into the aid station, you're greeted by cheers and applause.  There were plenty of spectators on the hill next to the aid station and the crowd would grow with each lap as the shorter races finished up.  I didn't stop at the aid table since I had gels in my pocket and most of my water bottle full but went right into my second lap.

Lap 2 - 50 minutes
The 50kers were pretty spread out by this point but now there were half-marathoners in the mix.   I was still running by myself for the most part though.  I kept the pace the same as the first lap - roughly 8 minute miles.  A couple halfers caught up to me around mile 3 and I rolled my ankle somewhat badly as I stepped aside to let them by.  Grrr.  After a few moments the pain subsided and the rest of the lap proceed without incident.  This lap was a few minutes longer than the first but I still felt good.  At the aid station I had my water bottle filled by a wonderful lady with a pitcher, grabbed a cookie, more Gu and some twizzlers and was off.

Lap 3 - 57 minutes
This lap started off well.  My pace was still consistent and strong.  The variety of race lengths meant I was still catching up to halfers which helped to break up the monotony of running alone.  Around the halfway mark of this lap I began to feel it - I was at about mile 18 and my pace began dropping.  I thought about the two more laps I still had to run and wondered how I was going to manage it.  This aid station visit was much longer than the last.  I probably spent 90 seconds there, grabbing watermelon and blueberries, twizzlers and more Gu gels.  Then off I went.  But it was tough to get running again.  The fun was over.

Lap 4 - 66 minutes
Immediately I felt tired and more sluggish.  My pace was noticeably slower.  I had already begun walking the steeper hills on the last lap but now for the first time I actual took walking breaks on flat sections of course.  I would only walk for 30 seconds or so before starting up again but it still felt like a big surrender.  About halfway through this lap some people started to go by me at a decent clip.  I assumed these were the front runners.  I kept looking back waiting for Galoob to fly by me but he never came.  Nearing the end of this lap I was in full-on grunt mode.  Any mud or stream afforded me a moment to walk and it was tougher and tougher to get going again.  I tried not to think about the fact that I still had to run another lap.  I managed to run out of water with a mile to go because I had dumped some on my head earlier (dumb.)  Reaching the aid station was a victory in and of itself and I took even longer to nosh on berries, twizzlers and salted potatoes.  I looked over at the happy folks drinking and relaxing on the hill and I spied Galoob.  I threw a piece of watermelon at him and found that he had bowed out with knee trouble.  He chided me for lollygagging and I dutifully trudged out of the aid station for one more lap.  The final lap.

Lap 5 - 69 minutes
This was it.  6.2 miles to go.  My legs were dead and my pace was still dropping but I tried to just keep moving.  After about a mile I ran into Mike C walking in the wrong direction.  He had bad stomach issues that had put an end to his day.  He gave me some words of encouragement and I continued on.  Someone would occasionally pass me but not as often as I was passing others.  Thinking about how these people still had at least another lap to go gave me a bit of strength to soldier on and finish this thing.   Ezri and I watched Charlotte's Web last week and with three miles left to go this goddamn song got stuck in my head.

I can TARC?

In a way it helped having Wilbur sing in my ear while I trudged along, nibbling on twizzlers I had pocketed.  Kept my mind off the misery at hand.  With two miles to go I misstepped and my left calf seized up completely.  Just total stabbing pain.  I fell on my ass and massaged it until it eased up.  After a minute I was able to get up and start jogging again.  There were a few more times when I could feel the calf wanting to cramp but it never did.  When I finally approached the finish line I was more relieved than happy.  I was so exhausted that I was more or less emotionally numb.  But I had done it.

I finished in 4:48.  18th out of 108 finishers.  I didn't come close to my goal time but I finished and that's the important thing.  I joined the spectators on the hill (really I just collapsed on the grass) and enjoyed some snacks and a cold brew.  Learned that Gunshow finished 5th which is pretty impressive with a busted ankle.  Saw fellow WTACer Shira finish up the 50k and watched in amazement as she ran around the parking lot in order to hit 31 miles on her GPS.  Ha!

So what did I learn from my first 50k?
  • Well it's probably not a great idea to eat a mountain of chinese food the night before you run 31 miles.  My legendary iron stomach did its job and I didn't have any intestinal distress during the run but I'm sure a better dinner couldn't have hurt.
  • I think my lack of a really long training run was a detriment as it had been awhile (NipMuck) since I had spent 3+ hours running in the woods.  It would have been helpful to have had that under my belt.
  • I need to learn more about proper fueling during long races.  Popping gels and gobbling junk at the aid station is not ideal.
  • Ultimately, my main problem was that I was running at a pace for the first two laps that exceeded my training.  This course was billed as fast & flat and I've recently had a lot of success at shorter distances.  I extrapolated what I thought I was capable of at this distance but it was just too much too soon.  More weekly miles over a much longer period of time is necessary to do what I was attempting.
Overall though this was a successful race.  I completed an ultramarathon which seems weird to type.  It was brutal and miserable near the end and I didn't think I'd ever want to do it again but a few days removed and I've already began to romanticize it.  I'm sure one day I'll attempt another one but for now I'll be content to just run and enjoy some shorter races.

Kudos to the Trail Animals and all their awesome volunteers who put on a great event.  As a side note, I left my drop bag at the Classic and didn't realize until I was home unpacking my stuff.  Luckily the race directors have it and are going to get it back to me.  Righteous folks, one and all!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Weekly Log: 4.22.13 - 4.28.13

Sweet Jesus, it's TARC week!  How did this happen?  I suddenly don't feel ready at all!  My longest run of 2013 has been 16 miles.  I can't believe I didn't get in one 20+ mile run in preparation for this!  What was I thinking? Whelp, too late now.  Despite my long run blunders, I think I'm in pretty good shape for this race.  I've increased my mileage steadily this year, I'm pretty healthy and I think my P90X cross training will prove beneficial.

Monday - Smithfield, RI - 5 miles

Ab Ripper X (15 minutes)

Just an easy 5 miles in the woods around Fidelity.  I ran in my Cascadia 6s to feel 'em out - I plan to use them for the 50k on Saturday.  I've put a lot of miles in them (445) and this will probably be their last big outing.  They've been good to me and I want them go out in style.

Tuesday - 0 miles

P90X Back & Biceps (50 minutes)

One of the few P90X workouts I haven't done yet.  It's true to its name - a lot of curls and pull-ups.  My form on the pull-ups really suffered and I'm not a fan of curls so probably won't be doing this one too often.

Wednesday - 0 miles

P90X Yoga X (40 minutes)

Yoga was much better this week than last.  I felt much more flexible and had my head in the right place.  Too bad my four year old woke up early.  Pretty cute watching her attempt downward dogs though.

Thursday - Exeter, RI - 5.1 miles

Easy run in the Cuttyhunk Brook Preserve.  The other time I had been here was back in early January when snow covered the trails.  Very different running conditions now.  It was overcast and began to rain halfway through the run which gave the area a Blair Witch vibe.   Sorta creepy.  I tried a few less travelled trails but all I got for my trouble were tiny devils* and briar scratches.  Two days to TARC!

*TICKS!  They're awake, out and about.  Found two of 'em on me.  Be vigilant out there!

Friday - South Kingstown, RI - 1.7 miles

Walked/jogged the bike path while Ezri rode her bike.  I had to hustle to keep up once she got going!

Saturday - Weston, MA - 31.7 miles

TARC 50k Spring Classic.  Official time: 4:48:34.  18th out of 108.  Report here.

Sunday - 0 miles

Legs sore and the initial morning descent down the stairs was dicey.  But overall not too bad considering what I went through yesterday.

Weekly Mileage: 43.6 miles

Year to Date: 558.8 miles

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Weekly Log: 4.15.13 - 4.21.13

Monday - North Kingstown, RI - 7 miles

I went apeshit crazy on the food, beer and desserts yesterday (all weekend really) and felt appropriately bloated and lethargic today.  Decided to begin the week on the right note with a trail run at Ryan Park.  I started from the Lafayette lot for a change of pace.  I had my minimalist MT20s and decided to run the trails west of the pond.  The trails are well groomed and mostly free of obstacles which make them great for the MT20s.  I checked out a few side trails and found the new trail everyone's been talking about (it runs between the open field trails and the power lines.)

After a few miles my ankles were starting to ache from the shoes and I decided to stop at the car and switch into my new Cascadias.  Then I ran down the rail bed and checked out the trails east of the pond (found a couple new ones here as well.)  I ended up running about 3.5 in each of the shoes and I didn't have much energy towards the end.  My birthday weekend of excess had caught up with me.

Later that morning I, followed Gazelle's progress online as he ran the Boston Marathon.  Looks like he had a great race.  Then everything went to shit and I spent the afternoon following news of the bombings.  These events are always so depressing.  But the stories of those who immediately raced to help the injured are always uplifting and compelling. 

In the end the bastards won't keep us down.  People will run and races will continue.

Tuesday - 0 miles

P90X Legs & Back (60 minutes) / Ab Ripper X (15 minutes)

Wednesday - 0 miles

P90X Yoga X (50 minutes)

Worst Yoga session in a while.  I wasn't as flexible as usual with some of the trickier positions and my balance was terrible - fell over several times.  I didn't even both with Yoga Belly 7 as I wasn't feeling it.  My mind kept wandering throughout the workout which was no doubt part of it - couldn't get my head in the game.

Thursday - North Smithfield, RI - 11 miles

AM - 8 miles: I really wanted to get in a track session today but I was sure the girl's soccer team would be on the field at Bryant and I didn't want to deal with that.  Decided to head a bit further down the road to the North Smithfield middle/high school track.  Success!  Track was in mint condition and completely empty.  It didn't occur to me until halfway through the workout that of course it would be deserted - it's school vacation week. 

Warmed up for 2 miles.  I did 800 x2 / 400 x4 / 200 x6  with 400 / 200 / 100 cooldowns respectively.  I'll post the exact splits later but the 800s and 400s were right where I wanted them.  By the time I got to the 200s they were appropriately exhausting - my splits were all over the place and not consistent at all but I was spent by the end so I think they served their purpose.  A boy's lacrosse team was showing up just as I was finishing my cooldown.  Hopefully I'll be able to continue to make use of this track in the future as it's much nicer than Bryant.  Here are the splits:

800s - 2:57 / 2:57
400s - 1:22 / 1:20 / 1:21 / 1:19
200s - 41 / 39 / 31 / 36 / 42 / 35

PM - 3 miles: After work I took my co-worker Lisa on a tour of some of the Fidelity trails.   She's strictly a recreational road runner so we ended up doing more hiking than running but I enjoyed showing her what lay just beyond the standard Fidelity walking paths.  She seemed impressed by the variety and scope of the trails back there.

Friday - Johnston, RI - 6 miles

Back to Snake Den for more trail action.  Decided to run the reverse of my usual route and got the short nasty Route 6 section out of the way first.  I went directly back to those power lines and explored the trails branching off from the summit.  These were some of the best trails I've run here - pretty hilly but also really smoothed out by bikers.  I followed the trails until I approached someone's junkyard.  Mounds upon mounds of old tires and the burnt out husks of schoolbuses and Mack trucks.  Just a dirty, unpleasant place.  I hightailed it out of there and reconnected with familiar trails which I followed, completing a great overall morning run.

Saturday - Charlestown, RI - 8.3 miles

I was looking to do 10 easy miles so I stuck to the local roads.  I headed down to the Charlestown Breachway and as soon as I stepped onto the sand the wind blasted me in the face.  Running down the beach into the wind was the opposite of easy running but the waves were huge and I was enjoying being out there.  Turned around at the breachway and the return trip was much easier with the wind at my back.  Not long after returning to the road I started to get a twinge in the bottom of my left foot.  Tweaked a nerve perhaps.  It's happened before and it's more annoying than anything but it was getting worse so I decided to cut the run a little short.  Let's hope it's nothing as TARC is one week away.

Sunday - 0 miles

Happy Birthday to my beautiful amazing wife Amanda!

Weekly Mileage: 32.6 miles

Year to Date: 515.2 miles

Good running week with a return to the track and a fun run in the Snake Den.  Ran the mileage I wanted and next week I'll be taking it easy in preparation for Saturday's 50k punishment.  Tweak on the bottom of my foot is hopefully not problematic - I'll be monitoring it closely.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Weekly Log: 4.8.13 - 4.14.13

Three weeks until the TARC 50k Spring Classic!  Two more weekends!  My basic plan is to get in around 35 miles this week, 30 next week and then a few leading up to the race.  We shall see how everything actually unfolds.

Monday - Smithfield, RI - 7 miles

It was a gorgeous spring morning and with no better plan I jumped onto the trails behind Fidelity.  Them dirt bikers have been busy marking them trails and the singletrack was in great shape.  They even painted more trail dots on the trees.  Well done folks.  I ran some trails I haven't run in awhile and really enjoyed 'em - you could have an epic race out there.  I actually worked up a sweat!  It's been a while.  I think I kept the pace pretty snappy.  Hard to tell in the woods but it felt like a good workout.  Now later in the day, I'm starting to feel some decent DOMS from yesterday's 10k.

Tuesday - 0 miles

P90X Legs & Back (60 minutes)

Wednesday - 0 miles

P90X Shoulders & Arms (60 minutes)
Ab Ripper X (15 minutes)

Two weeks in a row for Shoulders & Arms which is a rarity for me but I thought my legs could use a true rest day after the 10k/Legs & Back combo.  They are very sore (no pain, just plenty of DOMS.)  I upped the dumbell weight for most of the exercises and damn, now it's a workout.  Following up with Ab Ripper afterwards was pretty difficult but I felt great when it was all over.

Thursday - West Greenwich, RI - 8 miles

New hotness.  Let's get 'em dirty.
I got a new pair of trail shoes - Cascadia 7s - and wanted to try 'em out this morning.  With some extra time I decided to head over to Big River and run the trails west of Hopkins Hill Rd.  I took the BR Expressway over past the quarry and attempted to locate the Lookout by backtracking the trails we used during Galoob's Sufferfest a few months back.  The dwarves were busy in the quarry and trucks were heading in and out on that access road.  After taking a few trails that didn't pan out, I finally had some luck and came out at the Lookout.  Last time I was here it was fogged in but much better views this time of the pond below and forest beyond.  I helped myself to a couple candies (thanks MTBers!) and continued to backtrack.

Not far from the Lookout I spied a toy elephant nailed to a tree so I jumped on what I assumed was the Elephant trail.  Twisty turny stuff that eventually deposited me on another trail next to a pond.  Unsure of where I was now, I went in one direction briefly - there was lots of pine devastation and it didn't seem that this trail got much use.  I decided to turn around and after a few minutes I came around a bend and recognized the saw mill scrap piles (I scared a huge turkey that was grazing there and it took off running.)

Having found my bearings, I followed the Saw Mill trail to the New London Turnpike and then took another trail back to the BR Expressway.  I headed back to the car (taking a couple side trails along the way) but I still returned to the parking lot with time to spare so I headed down towards Carr Pond and turned around at the painted rocks.  Cool party spot, bro.  Saw three mountain bikers and a lone hiker as I made my way back up to the lot.

Friday - Smithfield, RI - 8 miles

Ab Ripper X (15 minutes)
20 push-ups x4 / 5 pull-ups x2 / 6 chin-ups x2

I drove up to Bryant, intent on doing some track work, but the girls soccer team was practicing in the middle and based on how they were set up it looked like I'd be dodging soccer balls.  I opted to run my standard loop around Stump Pond as a makeshift tempo run.  After about two miles I tried to maintain a fast pace for the next three miles (6:30 or so.)  I didn't look at my watch and instead tried to just run hard by feel.  On the way back I attempted to snag a trail segment behind Bryant.  I was pretty tired by this point and my heart wasn't into it so I'm not sure if I was successful.  Cooled down afterwards on the Bryant Athletic fields and was happy to see that they've made repairs to the track.  Maybe next week I'll do an actual track workout.

And the rain held off which was nice.

Saturday - Exeter, RI - 12 miles

Long run in Arcadia with Jonny.  It's been a while since I've been ran here and I'm glad Jonny was game for it.  We met at 6 AM at the John B Hudson parking lot (needs work!) and did a clockwise Mt. Tom trail to Breakheart trail loop.  It was opening day for fishing and the Wood River access point was jammed packed with folks in waders and those crazy lure vests.  Jonny and I kept the pace pretty snappy which made the hills on Breakheart more punishing than I had remembered.  Good conversation on a good route.

Sunday - 0 miles

Happy birthday to me!   Another year old and another 5 minutes added to my Boston qualifier time.  No running today but probably some wood choppin' and cake eatin'.

Weekly Mileage: 35 miles

Year to Date: 485.6 miles

Monday, April 8, 2013

Jamestown Bridge 10k

Official Time: 38:46.  8th out of 542.  6th in Age Group (19-39.)  Results here.

I've wanted to run this race for a few years now and when Tri-Mom offered a 50% discount earlier in the year, I seized the opportunity.  Scheduling issues put the kibosh on their original parking plan and as a result there were cars stretching all the way from the park-and-ride to almost Rome Point, with just as many going in the opposite direction.  Luckily my buddy Jay lives very close to the race and I was able to park at his house.

Most runners I knew were doing the Clamdigger down in Westerly, so I got there early and decided to do a long solo warm-up - I was well rested from three days off.  I ran a loop on Snuff Mill Road - I haven't been on this road in years but back in high school we use to do the Snuff Mill 8-miler weekly.  The memories came flooding back as I passed familiar houses and landmarks.  I was relieved to not feel any agitation in my ankles/shins as I ran.

Basking in the nostalgia, I tackled Snuff Hill at an easy pace and made my way to the park-and-ride to stretch.   Tri-Mom Productions puts on a great event and this was no exception.  There's music, an energetic announcer and even a bag check.  Going into this race I wasn't sure how I was going to respond to the hills.  I wanted to give an honest effort but I was worried about going out too fast.  At the start line I noticed a TNT runner that's comparable to myself and made a point to keep an eye on him to gauge my own pace.

The race began and we entered the on-ramp and began the descent towards the bridge.  My pace was just below 6 and a group of people passed me - I ignored the urge to keep up with them.  I felt I wasn't working too hard and I didn't want to get suckered into hauling ass down the initial decline.   The group was a good ways ahead by the time the road flattened out and I could see TNT guy ahead of them.  I wondered if I had started out too conservatively.  By the time I reached the bridge I figured I was probably in about 15th place.

I was running alongside a man and woman for a bit but once the bridge incline began they dropped back.  I gradually caught up to and passed two more runners.  I thought my pace was good (based on passing several people) but when I glanced at my watch I saw I was running at a 7 minute pace.  Not fast enough!  I pushed it to the crest and then began moving down the other side of the bridge at a good clip.

The course takes the first offramp into Jamestown and then passes on neighborhood roads underneath the bridge before looping back around and onto 138 West.  I was moving well on these local roads and appreciated the support from the locals.  I passed a couple more runners and as I turned back onto the bridge I spied one more runner followed by TNT guy.  Of the three big hills in this race, the second bridge ascent is the easiest - I passed the runner on the way up and closed the distance on TNT.

TNT put some space between us on the descent and as the bridge leveled off I began to doubt that I would catch him.  I was closing on him again but I knew that the last half mile was a brutal uphill climb.  Had he been saving himself for the finish?  Did I have enough left to push past?  I figured I was in 10th place and the voice in my head was telling me to just ease off and let TNT pull me up the hill.  Top 10 is good enough, the voice said.  There's no need to kill yourself.  You've done enough.

Damn you voice!  So soothing.  So convincing.  And I was so tired.  But I thought about the age group awards.  In the back of my mind, I knew I wasn't too far removed from them.  Knowing TNT was my age and knowing that it could make all the difference, I pushed forward and as the last incline began I reached TNT.  It was clear that he was already working hard and I pushed past him, trying just to focus on keeping my pace up.  Up ahead was the Route 1A overpass, filled with cheering fans.  Beyond that was the offramp and salvation.

I kept pushing up the hill.  Lungs were burning.  The hill seemed to go on forever and I hadn't even reached the mile 6 marker yet.  But I had managed to come upon another runner.  Knowing the end was near, knowing that this was another opportunity, I flung my arms back and forth in an exaggerated fashion and surged ahead of him.  I saw him take a look at me but he too seemed to have reached his limits.  I hit the curve of the offramp and continued to push.  I had no idea if the guy was hanging on or if I had created a gap.  My lungs were now screaming and I kept waiting for the finish line to appear around the corner.  Finally I saw orange cones and then the corral.  I crossed the line, thrilled with my effort.

The finish line is funny because you end halfway up the offramp and then you have to make your way across the road back to the park-and-ride.  I congratulated the other finishers and was totally amped up by my performance so I went right into my cooldown and banged out another three miles.  Back at the post-race party, I began my traditional feeding regimen.  Pizza, pizza, pizza, cookie.  Repeat.  I'll say it again, Tri-Mom does a great job putting on these events and their spread is top notch.  They even had free mugs.

Looking at the results, I thought I had a shot at the age group awards but I finished one out.  Gah!  Not to be.  Had the top three finishers all been in my AG, I'd have picked up the AG bronze.  Damn you forty year old guy!  Still, I'm more than pleased with how this race turned out, especially over the last mile.  Gutting it out on that last hill to pick up two more spots was a huge motivational boost.  A great race!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Weekly Log: 4.1.13 - 4.7.13

Last week I completed my highest mileage week (46 miles) as well as month (182 miles.)  I also pushed myself hard in a beast of a trail race.  I'm definitely feeling the effects and with the Jamestown Bridge 10k coming up this weekend I plan to ease off on the gas a bit. 

Monday - Johnston, RI - 7.0 miles

Ab Ripper X (15 minutes)

Ran the trails in Snake Den this morning.  Snoopin', runnin', explorin'.  Did a loop in some farmland before bushwhacking through a swampy section to a trail I've previously run.  Then I checked out a bunch of new trails before heading over to the powerlines.  The view from the hills was pretty sweet.  I was running short on time but I'll definitely be back to explore more of this place.  My calves are pretty achey after five straight days of running (including the Big River punishment) and the next two days off should do 'em good.

Tuesday - 0 miles

P90X Chest & Back (60 minutes)

Haven't done this one in about a month and I was spent by the end.  I shall feel this one tomorrow.

Wednesday - Smithfield, RI - 4.5 miles

Poor Ezri is home sick with Momma which allowed me to get out of the house and fit in a rare Wednesday run.  I ran the roads around Fidelity but after a couple miles I began to feel the ache in my calves/shins.  It got worse as the run wore on and I felt pretty meh by the end.  While I hate to admit it, I think I need to rest up before the Jamestown Bridge 10k to hopefully avoid any serious problems.  With the huge increase in miles over the last 1.5 months, I suppose this was inevitable.  Still, it's a minor bummer - I was hoping to hit 40+ miles for the 3rd week in a row.  I'm also feeling the makings of a sore throat/head cold.  Hopefully my immune system drops the hammer on it!

It's funny how dependent we become on our runs.  Not running for three days seems like a major defeat but I know it's nothing in the scheme of things.

Thursday - 0 miles

P90X Shoulders & Arms (60 minutes)

Curls and rows aren't my thing and this video is nothing but upper body work however this seemed like the perfect time to fit it in since I'm trying to rest my dogs.

Friday - 0 miles

P90X Yoga X (60 minutes)

Saturday - 0 miles

Family was away so I had the whole afternoon and evening to myself.  I resisted the urge to run and instead chainsawed a bunch of wood, burned shit in the firepit, planted some onions and peas and attempted to bake energy bars for the first time.  Results were...mixed.

Sunday - 14 miles

Jamestown Bridge 10k.  Official time: 38:46.  8th overall.  6th in age group.  Great run.  Recap here.

Weekly Mileage: 25.8 miles

Year to Date: 450.6 miles

This week looked like it was going to be a letdown but a great race at the 10k really turned everything around.  After 7 consecutive weeks of 30+ miles, I finally fell short of 30 since I opted to rest up before the 10k.  So be it.  Best be smart about it as TARC is only 3 weeks away.  Yikes!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Big River 1/2 Marathon

Official time: 1:41:02.  Overall place: 9th.

Postponed almost a month due to snow, it was finally time to wrap up the 4th Season South County Trail series.  Big River is a massive management area with a labyrinthine network of trails and the idea of a 13.1 mile race had everyone pretty excited.  Those dreaded Tuesday Night Turtles had already wrapped up the team series win, robbing this race of some of the drama, but a 1/2 marathon in the woods is no joke and everyone was amped up regardless.

My online buddy Chris came down from New Hampshire for the race, happy to run on snow free trails.  I did a warm-up with him and Shira on the New London Turnpike (a long dirt road) and briefly checked out the initial single-track portion of the race.  Then we all mingled around the starting area, waiting for Mike Galoob to draw us to the start line.  Mike gave a brief overview of the course (there was also a 10k option that ran at the same time) and indicated that due to the length of the race there wouldn't be the ample course markings we've been accustomed to.  All intersections were marked but we'd have to be on our toes to stay on course.

The race began and I stayed near the front - I wanted a decent position before we hit the single track.  Once in the woods, we formed the inevitable train of runners for about a 1/2 mile or so.  By then the field began to spread out - I zipped past my buddy Chris and TNT member Patrick Quinn and that was the end of my passing for the race.  There were two guys off in the distance ahead of me but I wasn't gaining on them and was content to run at what felt like a hard effort.

I could hear a couple guys behind me and around mile 3 I was passed by Gazelle and FiveK.  I wondered what took them so long - reading Tom's blog I found out that they were taking it easy on this run.  Ha!  They moved out ahead of me and looking back I didn't see anyone else.  I continued to run my race, keeping my teammates in my sight for a while. Around Mile 4 I caught a branch between my legs which smashed my right calf hard.  It throbbed for a few moments but then improved as I ran.  After a tough climb to the Hopkins Hill log, I was happy to see Muddy snapping pictures.  I grabbed a gel at the aid station and enjoyed the descent back towards Carr Pond.

After descending, I made my only big misread, going left instead of right.  I stopped, looked around for the flags and figured it out fairly quickly but Gazelle and FiveK were seemingly much further ahead by the time I got moving again.  They were gaining or had already passed a shirtless chap and were heading up the opposite side of a ravine as I made my way down.  That's the last I saw of them.  By the time I scaled that same hill, they were gone.  Other than a brief glimpse of someone around mile 7, I spent the rest of the race alone.

Now at the halfway mark, I was really starting to feel tired.  I was especially beginning to feel it in my calves and feet.  For the first time it occurred to me that two days prior I had ran 13 miles at a fairly decent pace.  My recent mileage was catching up to me.  Mile 8 featured some smooth downhill that gave me a little pep and was followed by another Muddy sighting.  Then some more uphill robbed me of that pep.  The Stone's Sister Morphine popped into my head and hung around for the rest of the race.

I began to yearn to see the Mile markers.  5 miles to go.  4 miles to go.  The course became twist after turn.  There would be long stretches without flags making me wonder if I'd gone of course.  Eventually though I'd always come upon them.  Around mile 10 I could feel a blister beginning to form on the bottom of my right foot.  After mile 11 I was fairly secure about my position though I had no idea what that was.  Top 10 maybe.  Who cares, I just wanted to be done. 

The last two miles seemed endless.  Often it looked like the trail was approaching the road only to veer back into the woods.  Mick Jagger kept singing in my ear about a doctor with no face.  Finally the trail spilled back onto the New London turnpike and it was a short jaunt to the finish line.  1:41 or so.  That's a solid time I can be happy with on this tough course.  Trudged over to the tables and began to feed.  The notion of a cooldown soon faded as I inhaled slice after slice of pizza.  I soon found out that not everyone was able to stay on course.  Jeff, Tom and many others ended up taking wrong turns, often to rejoin the course but not before missing large chunks of the race.

Despite navigation issues, everyone seemed to have a good time.  The weather was beautiful and it was a perfect day to run out in the woods.  Thanks to Mike Galoob, his family, Ben Folsom and everyone else who worked hard to make this trail series a great success.  I hope we get another chance to race this course next year.  I think with some fine tuning, this could be one of the signature trail events for Rhode Island.