Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Weekly Log: 8.22.16 - 8.28.16

Well the weekly logs have pretty much shit the bed here.  No gumption to write them and they were never the most popular of posts so I don't think people miss them (of course, no post will ever topple the king of hits on this humble site - the famous Banana Rice Balls.  It lords over its closest competitor by a three to one margin).

But I digress.  Bottom line is that I haven't had any drive to write new weekly updates.  But I'll give it a shot this week since I'm on vacation and heading up to New Hampshire for a few days - my favorite place!  I signed up for the "Beast of the East" Kismet Cliff Run at the end of September.  It's a half marathon and climbs up over North Moat Mountain.  I'm not sure how much of it I'll actually be running but I've wanted to try this race for a few years so I'm excited.  I've been trying to get in some elevation where I can and this week should provide some opportunities.

Monday - North Conway, NH - 9 miles

We camped for a few days at the Saco River Campground right in the heart of commerce in North Conway.  Once we decided on this place I knew I'd have to get over to the trails in the hills behind Route 16.  I'd seen enough Strava maps to have a general idea and a little web searching provided me with a map and route to the Quarry that I've heard so much about.  I was out of the tent by 6 AM and after less than a mile on empty roads I reached the trail network.  This place did not disappoint, lots of meandering single and double track, some with serious elevation attached.  I checked out the remnants at the quarry before following the powerlines for a while.  I had hoped to make it to the top of Middle Mountain but the trails were farther away then I thought.  I settled for some climbing on the Cardiac Hill trail before making my way back to the campsite.

Tuesday - Carroll, NH - 8.8 miles

I wanted to drag the girls up Mt Eisenhower but the temperature and winds forecast a 20 degree wind chill and we weren't equipped for that.  Instead I picked Mt Hale which I figured would provide more shelter.  It certainly did but the climbing wore Ezri out.  Nevertheless when we reached the top Amanda suggested that we continue on to Zealand Falls Hut and make a loop out of it.  Ezri was game and we made the slow journey to the hut.  It was downhill but with plenty of rocks, mud and water hazards.  After that the trail back to the parking lot was thankfully very flat and easy.  I had to run the last mile to pick up the car at the Hale parking lot but it was downhill dirt road and I enjoyed opening up on it.  This was Ezri's 2nd 4000 footer and the 5th for Amanda.

Wednesday - 0 miles

Our last day in New Hampshire and I should have gone back to the trails and attempted Middle Mountain.  But I chumped out.  My alarm went off at 5:30 AM and I rolled over and went back to bed.  I'm a lame-ass.

Thursday - Carolina, RI - 7.5 miles

Back in Rhode Island.  This was a fun run exploring the trails off of Route 112 and how they connect to the Carolina Preserve.  Once over in the Preserve I tried to hit up the hills as best I could before heading back to the car.  A hot one out there.

Friday - Charlestown, RI - 6 miles

In an effort to punish myself and feast on more elevation, I ran the roads behind my house.  It was hot and gross at noon and I went up and down the small but relentless hills until I had enough.

Saturday - 0 miles

Sunday - Exeter, RI - 14 miles

With a month to go it may be too late to really get in shape for the Beast but I figured I'd better at least get in some longer trail runs to give myself a chance.  I woke up early to get over to Arcadia figuring it has enough hills to give me both distance and elevation.  Starting at that big middle parking lot I went over to Breakheart Pond and did the Breakheart trail which led to Ben Utter trail.  At the end of that I ran the big bitch of a hill up to Escoheag Rd.  Then I backtracked and took dirt roads back to the car.  A good run with 1000' of elevation (which knowing my watch means it was probably closer to 1500') and I wasn't completed wiped at the end which I take to be a good sign.

Weekly Mileage: 45.3 miles
Year to Date: 744.4 miles

As always, it's a good week when I'm in New Hampshire.  According to ol' spacewatch I hit about 5000' of elevation for the week but I'm sure it was actually much higher than that.  I probably won't get that high again before the race but I'd like to hit a few thousand feet for the next couple weeks to help my legs out.  It's tough here in RI unless I seek out specific spots so we'll see.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Run with the Beavers Trail Race 2016

Official Time: 1:19:49  11th overall.  3rd in Age Group.

Run with the Beavers is a 10 mile trail race way up in Nowheresville, RI (Chepachet).  Held in the middle of July, it's a two lap race on technical trails/dirt roads that's fun and challenging.  A good cross section of RI trail runners always show up for it.  This would be my first race since the Ryan Park 10k way back in February.  After that I was diagnosed with a stress fracture in my leg which derailed my running.  But now I was feeling healthy and ready to return to racing.  I knew I didn't have the fitness and was prepared to not PR at this race for the first time (and it turned out no one was PRing on this day).

It was a hot one and already in the 80s when I pulled in at 8 AM.  I did a short warm-up and then mingled with the guys.  The race was delayed briefly to allow some late arrivals to register.  RD Bob Jackman had a huge turnout at this race which was good to see.  After his usual talk we were off up the long dirt road.  I tried not to go out too fast but there can be a bottleneck when the course enters the woods so I didn't want to fall too far behind.  I probably should have pushed it more because I wound up behind a few people that I ended up passing over the next quarter mile.

I pushed it a bit to draw near the next group comprised of Leslie O'Dell, a guy in a yellow shirt and Jeff Walker.  The pace wasn't too hard and I wanted to just hold on for as long as I could.  At two miles in there was already no one in sight behind us.  The water stop at 2.5 miles was most appreciated with Beth & Company doing a great job.  I doused myself in water which was temporarily wonderful but soon I was very hot again.  The next long stretch of dirt road a good break from the woods but the group began to put a little distance on me.  Up ahead on the dirt road I could see that Jeff Walker had passed Yellow Shirt.

Leslie, Jeff, Yellow Shirt and then me waaay
back there - Photo by Scott Mason

We returned to the singletrack and the distance between myself and the others was slowly growing.  Then I tripped with my left foot.  My right leg went straight as it hit a rock, jamming it in place and producing intense pain in my knee.  I stopped for a moment and the pain let up allowing me to run again.  But the train of runners was now gone.  Almost immediately the urge to pee became great and with no one around I decided there was no point in holding it for another 7 miles.  After a few moments I was running again, much relieved, but there was someone else gaining on me in the distance.

By the time I reached the bridge and the tricky trail along the brook I was feeling pretty exhausted.  Another full lap sounded terrible.  At the last climb to the start/finish Bob Corsi flew by me looking strong.  But I needn't worry as he was only doing the 5 mile option.  I doused myself in several cups of water in the field and continued on.  Now I was really running alone - no one ahead and no one close behind.

I'm always running scared in the second lap and this was no exception.  I figured everyone else was suffering too so I felt good about my place.  I was tired but tried to focus on the trail and eventually I came to the halfway water stop.  Jeff was there getting ice - looks like the heat took a lot out of him.  I continued on and began to pass a few people still on their first lap.  At the last dirt road section I could see Yellow Shirt up ahead.  Could I catch him?  I slowly gained on him over the next mile but once he reached the final section of descents he was able to find a speed that I couldn't match.

A short section of log bridges were added this year.  A little difficult to
navigate but a welcome addition - Photo by Scott Mason

I finished in just under 1:20 and it's been a while since I've been that happy to be done with a race.  I was 8 minutes slower than last year but the heat/humidity is to blame as much as anything.  In fact, only the winner beat my time from last year.  Afterwards I went to the pond to cool off and swap war stories.  I made a poor decision to attempt to swim which led to my calf seizing up for a good two minutes.  It was painful to touch for days.  The knee pain from jamming my leg stuck around for much of the following week but it was fine when I was running and eventually faded.

So a tough race in the humidity but still a lot of fun.  And I'm back to racing which is the important thing.  After several rebellious years, Jonny returned to WTAC for the team competition and helped us repeat as team winners.  Another year, another Beaver race in the bag.  Hopefully this race marks the beginning of a successful second half of 2016 for me running wise!