Wednesday, May 28, 2014

4 days straight = second honeymoon

With Heather's parents in town for the long weekend, we were able to enjoy each other's company on the roads more than we have since before Ben was born (9/2006).

Friday we had the Melody Miles course preview together; Saturday was the race plus a warmup and longer cooldown.

Sunday we weren't sure what we'd have time for, but after church and Panera, we headed out toward the Danvers/Topsfield rail trail and ended up doing a nice figure eight on the roads and rail trail for almost eleven miles at a conversational pace.(10.69 in 1:19:23)

Monday Ben marched in the Memorial Day parade with the cub scouts, and we were on our feet all morning. Last minute, Heather and I decided to run, after I had already resigned myself to the idea of a day off. We ran the 7-mile Cutler loop from home for our fourth day in a row of running, which I don't think has happened in the last seven years of married, child-rearing life. Hopefully, this was a foretaste of future days, when sore back and stiff legs aside, we'll have all the time we want to share the roads together.

Yesterday I didn't get out until mid-afternoon, but when I did, I felt some spring in my step. After a 6:50 opening mile, I brought it down to 6:14, 6:11, 6:25, then stayed at 6:00 or faster for the last eight. Last mile of 12 was a 5:21 for a total of 12.05 in 1:12:48.

Feeling good and rejuvenated after all that time enjoying running again with my lovely wife.

Today, the woods?

Saturday, May 24, 2014

2 W's, no CR's

I got up early (around 6) to have steel cut oatmeal with sugar in the raw, banana, raisins and a little milk, plus a cup and a half of coffee, some OJ and vitamins. I wanted to give myself plenty of time before the 10 am start to digest. I digested awhile as the rest of the house woke up.

Heather and I jogged the 1.25 miles down to the start from home, picked up our numbers and said hi to a few familiar faces - Dave and Derek from NE Running Co, John Ayers, John Gillis, my Dad. Did another mile or so, then three good strides in the grass behind the Winthrop School where the race starts.

The goal was 5:12's for me, 6:12's for Heather. Neither one of us was feeling great beforehand, which is usually a good sign. It was cool when we left the house (low 50's) and overcast, but by the time the race started the sun was breaking through and it was closer to 60. A little windy, but really good race conditions, especially for Memorial Day weekend, when it can be pretty toasty.

The 5k and 5 mile starts were together and one young girl (middle school?) in the 5k absolutely took off like she was running a 400. She beat me to the end of the driveway, and turned right, while I, along with the other 5 milers, took a sharp left on rte. 1A, heading south.

At about .4 miles, the course turns a 90 degree left onto Walnut St. At .85 miles, the road crosses the Miles River, makes a slight left and then climbs for about a quarter mile. On the hill, I went through the mile in 5:10, feeling encouraged. The climb continued, I ran the tangent on a couple turns and then turned left at "Four Corners" in Wenham onto Larch Row.

Larch Row becomes Essex Street in Hamilton, and doesn't seem especially hilly when driving it, but it winds and rolls. I did my best to run the shortest line, but still got to mile 2 in 10:35, having lost valuable ground on Dan Vassallo's course record pace (5:12-5:13) from last year.

I bore down on Essex st. as the road flattened and straightened out and then grabbed a quick slug of water as I made the next left down hill onto Woodbury St. I spat some out, then clumsily doused my face and chest and dropped my cup. Woodbury is downhill with a couple turns, then a little climb, then a big downhill out to Bridge Street. The 3-mile mark on Woodbury passed in 15:53, and I was losing touch with my goal time and hope of getting it. I tried to use the downhill onto Bridge and made the left, preparing for a couple rolling hills before the final stretch on 1A. The first hill took a little out of me, but the second hill was gentler than expected and I thought of God's promise to make our paths straight and to raise every valley up. Still as I descended to the four mile mark near the end of Bridge Street, my watch read 21:19.

I mad the next to last left onto 1A and immediately crossed to the right side. All the 5k runners were stretched out in a line on the left. I cruised along, unimpeded, then crossed back with about a half mile left and began passing runners. Generally, it was easy to maneuver and I felt like I was closing well, with the psychological benefit of passing people. I turned into the Winthrop driveway right around 26-flat and gunned for home. Crossed in 26:20 with a 5:01 last mile to the cheers of my Dad. The win was worth a free pair of Asics, which I have to order by mail, but at least I can pick any pair I like. May go for the Speedstar or the hyperspeed, which they carry at NERC.

Heather cruised in at 32:38, first woman and 6th overall, but disappointed with her time. We did a long cool down together, since our kids were out with her parents. My dad picked up first 60-plus in the 5k, which he will take at 68 years young.

Overall, I was pleased with the result, this is almost a minute faster than I have run on this course, although the CR would have been nice with the $50 bonus.

Followed up my first 70-mile week of the year last week with my first 80-miler of the year this week!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Friday (I'm in love)

As promised, I met Heather for a nice preview of tomorrow's Melody Miles course. With my in-laws in town, it affords us a rare opportunity to take our time, talk and even just enjoy the silence together.I met Heather about 3/4 of a mile in on grapevine road, we ran another mile together to the course and then ran the full, rolling loop then back to her car and I finished up back to the office at Gordon. 8.74 in 1:05:19.

We celebrate 10 years of marriage this August, God willing, and tomorrow get to race together in the am, then go to watch my best childhood friend get married in the evening. I'm a blessed man!

Women's course record for Melody Miles is 31:09; men's is 26:04, set last year by Dan V. (the younger). We will see tomorrow how close each of us can come to those marks. 31:09 is better than Heather's recent PR that she ran at Backshore (31:31) on a faster course. The fastest I've ever run at Melody Miles was 27:13 in 2006. I went back and ran 27:30 in 2012 for some reason; I think I ate breakfast to close to the start time. I'm hoping to make a significant improvement on that. Don't know if Dan plans to return to defend his title.

One Halloween (1995 or 1996), when I was in college (at U of Michigan), I dressed up as Robert Smith, lead singer from the Cure. One girl at a Halloween party kept telling me she was going to fix me up with one of her gay guy friends.

I don't have the hair for it now(I know, it's a constant joke), but I think the closest I've come to re-creating the look was 2006 at New Bedford when I got fixed up with Joe Shairs. In the picture below, I think I'm imagining how much it would freak Joe out if I started singing, "Boys Don't Cry". I outkicked him in 2006 (1:12:38 to 1:12:41), but he got his revenge in 2007, 1:12:00 to 1:12:12.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Thursday (coming around)

Today was one of those days that two or three weeks ago I probably wouldn't have run. I'm a little banged up/sore, I've already gotten some pretty decent mileage in for the week and I have a race in two days so no workout planned. Instead of resting on my laurels, I went out without much of a plan (6 or 8 or 10) and got back on the roads. I wasn't setting any land speed records like Eric Coutoure, just gently covering some ground. As gently as a 165-pound runner is able to, anyway. I ran a familiar route from Gordon down Hull St. to Old Standley over 128 onto the Beverly Homecoming 5k course out to 127 through Endicott College. I turned around at St. Margaret's Church in Beverly Farms (5.4 miles) and added on a little on the way back to get 11. (11.16 in 1:17:49) Picked up the pace to sub-6:30's for the last couple. Achilles pain is melting away. Plan for tomorrow is to run the Melody Miles course with Heather in the morning and likely take the afternoon off.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday (5/19-21)

I'm starting to get into some good training habits again, now that the school year is over. I am thinking about how and if I can run fast again this summer and take a shot at some PR's at a variety of distances. One way is to run distances I have never raced before or haven't raced much, like the 15k in Burlington on August 31. But, ultimately, I'm going to have to find a way to train hard, run a lot and stay healthy.

This week I have been working on getting out and getting a little more running in each day than I have been accustomed to so far this year.

Monday I did 12.15 in 1:24:53 (6:59/mi.) on the roads from Gordon. Feeling the weekend a little in my left achilles and plantar.

Yesterday (Tuesday) I broke it up into two runs, with 5 in the morning (6:40 am) out and back on the roads at 7:10/mi. In the afternoon I did an extended seminary loop, coming back Grapevine Rd. (6.46 in 44:59). Achilles still bothering me. Ice in my office and Aleve when I got home.

Today (Wed.) I waited until the afternoon and headed into the woods. I haven't wanted to get on the trails much lately because I've been craving mileage, but today I was craving soft surfaces. I had a nice time on some old familiar routes through Gordon Woods, Manchester-Essex Woods and Chebacco Woods. Achilles/shin seemed to appreciate the variety. 12.13 miles in 1:37:10.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Weekend (May 17 and 18)


I left the house about 1:00 pm and planned to do 10-12 miles. It had rained pretty hard in the early AM, and then was kind of muggy, but by the time I got out it was dry and breezy. It was about 68 degrees with a cool breeze and sunshine. Pretty near perfect. I started on the roads with a brief stretch on the Danvers-Topsfield Rail Trail and ended up making a nice 12-mile loop. I finished up with 6 strides that were a little longer than 100m, but my legs are feeling great. It was hard not to feel good with the day as beautiful as it was.


I got up early (5:45 am) and put on some coffee. I drank a half a cup black and then grabbed my ipod and Garmin and headed out. I have a nice 14-mile loop that goes through Hamilton, Wenham and Ipswich on mostly quieter roads. Started out between 6:50-7:00 for the first few miles, then wound up in the 6:20's for the last few with a 6:08 for the last mile. The music helped keep the pace honest during the middle miles.

Both days the pace averaged to a 6:34/mi.

I ended up with my first 70 mile week of the year (Sunday-Saturday) for last week, and kicked this week off in the right direction with 14 yesterday.

Focus is on maintaining and increasing mileage; continuing strides (see this month's Running Times - the SPEED issue); and upcoming races:

Melody Miles 5M, Hamilton, this Saturday;
Outdoor track 5000m, Late May or June?;
Ribfest 5M, June 15;
Loon, July 6;
Yankee Homecoming 10M, July 29;
Beverly Yankee Homecoming 5k, August 7
Burlington 15k, August 31;
Lone Gull 10k, September 14;
Hartford Marathon, October 11

Friday, May 16, 2014

mid-May update

So a few points of good news in the last week:

the Backshore 5-mile in Gloucester went as well as I could have hoped. I ran 25:56, which I will definitely take given my recent training. Teammate Dan Vassallo was way up on me in 24:52. I was five seconds behind him at the mile, 20 seconds back at 2 miles, etc...

Heather ran a 5-mile PR of 31:31 and was 7th or 8th woman overall. Some pretty fast times for a YMCA race, with (I think) 6 women under 30:00.

Alex Vlahos (future CMS-er and recent Providence College, then Merrimack College grad) posted up in 27:09 for a nice 5-Mile road debut.

Alex and I got in 8 on Saturday morning after the race, easy at 7:35/mi. pace.

Sunday I did 12 and a half home from church at 6:36/mi. pace on the roads.

Sunday night Ben, Grace and I camped in the yard for the first time this spring. Overnight low around 50 kept it pretty comfy in the tent. I got out a little after 6 am on Monday for 6.5 at 6:30 pace. Then the whole family (Heather, Ben, Grace, Emma, my mom and dad and I) drove up to hike Mt. Major. I had Emma in the backpack and we took the Boulder Loop Trail up and came down the Mt. Major Trail. It was a beautiful, warm spring day but I was still surprised how many people were up there on a Monday. My shoulders and back were killing me from the pack, but the next day I was feeling fine.

Tuesday I got in a little less than 9 miles at 6:40 pace during my lunch break.

Wednesday, my last run with Nate for the spring was the seminary loop - 6 miles at 7:08 pace.

Yesterday I did 9 early just under 7 minute pace on the roads, then headed out to RPI (Troy, NY) to watch Gordon hammer thrower Zak Flowers compete. On the way, I stopped at the Beartown State Forest in Monterey, MA and did 5 miles on the old Beartown Road and the Appalachian Trail.

Zak ended up 11th at ECAC's with a season-best throw of 49.76m (163' 3"). We drove back to Gordon last night.

Today I ran up to the track and did 50 laps. The first 10k was 41:24, the second was 37:59.

61 miles so far this week (including Sunday) with one day left. Also, ten days straight. Hoping to keep the momentum!

Friday, May 9, 2014

promising streak of 2 (aka Backshore review/preview)

I'm starting to get a little momentum with my training; I ran yesterday (6.4 mi. at 6:49/mi.) AND the day before. (15k at 6:39/mi.) Heather signed us both up yesterday for the Backshore 5m tonight in Gloucester. I have had a good history at this race, which I first ran in 2000, as a bright, ambitious 23-year-old road race newbie. I had been training for about a year and was running with the WCRC. I ended up breaking 28:00 for the first time, finishing a distant second to future teammate Joe Shairs (27:54 to Joe's 26:43).

I was back at the Shore in 2002, and not as fit (see picture), balancing training time with fence-building and bass-playing duties at Essex Fence and the Great Northern, respectively. I cruised to a 28:57 8th place finish, my slowest time and lowest finish in 6 attempts.

I could grow the facial hair back now, but I wish I could tell the young man in this picture not to take the head coverage for granted.
(I actually promised my wife I would never bring this look back unless it was specially requested. So far: 10 years, no request.)

I didn't make it back to the Backshore until 2009, where I locked up in an epic (in my mind) battle with William & Mary and Gloucester High standout Pete Asaro. I remember coming through 3 miles in 15:36 (5:12 pace) and trying to go as hard as I could. I closed with two ~5:00 miles, and with a mile to go (I was told afterwards) I had a 15 second lead. Pete closed hard and caught me as we crested the final hill. I couldn't hang on and finished in 25:36 (a 5-mile PR at the time), one second behind Pete. The close finish forged a friendship that continues to this day. My feelings weren't even hurt when Pete confessed it was his first race in over a year, he hadn't been training much, and he'd just gotten back from travelling around Europe...

I returned in 2010, expecting to do battle with Pete again, but I arrived a bit late to the start (about 10-15 seconds back) when the gun fired, and I spent some time working my way up during the early miles. Thankfully, Pete wasn't there, or I wouldn't have caught him. I took the win (for the first time) in 26:03 (unadjusted).

2011's race remains my fastest 5-mile to date, which I won in 25:17. This course is not certified, although it once was, but I count it anyway.

I missed the 2012 version (it was won by recent Gordon College graduate Levi Miller), but returned to win last year in 25:34, with Jordan Kinley close in tow.

This year, I'm not sure what to expect, hopefully a second-place, sub-26 finish. Text from Jim Pawlicki this morning informed me that he and Dastardly Dan Vassallo will be there. I'm guessing/hoping Dan will be comfortably under 25, which I imagine will be the course record and well ahead of me.
Here's a link to the 2007 story, where Dan Verrington held on to hold off Matt Pelletier (Matt unofficially ran 24:22.)

Looking forward to seeing where I'm at, though, in just my second race of the year and also hoping Heather, Nate H. and Al V. will run well.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

3.5 lame excuses for why i havent been running as much as i should

#1 - too busy
everyone is busy, i know, so this is really lame, and thats why its #1. it is probably more of an excuse for me to share some of the things that have been going on in my life apart from running with the intent of evoking pity or jealousy from my readers. it sounds pretty self-serving, but keep in mind this is coming from a guy who keeps a blog, so draw your own conclusions
anyway, what i've been busy with is mostly work, which is fun and difficult at the same time. we had a historically good showing at diii new englands with one thrower all-ne in disc and hammer and four relays performing very well against the competition. also 58.88 for our top woman in the 400, so things are coming along. in the meantime i have had to make some challenging personnel changes and that has drained me like a two-hour trail run.
family life is busy with ben getting going with little league, and continuing with cub scouts, swimming lessons and wednesday night "rocks" at church. our dog bear is great but getting him walked in the morning and evening makes it that much harder to get out the door for 30-45 minutes on the roads.
overall, i'm glad to be busy; it makes my work more meaningful, but also more challenging. i'll take it over the alternative of being bored.

#2 - my foot still hurts
this is really weak, since a couple posts ago i claimed that rest wasnt good for plantar fasciitis, and i know i should be training and treating. i ran 9 miles on monday and felt good, but monday night and all day yesterday i was limping around because my left heel is all inflamed.

#3 - lazy/despondent
for whatever reason, probably because the top 2 have already been limiting me, i have not had the desire to get out as often as i can. even reading about jj's impressive double this past weekend was barely enough to get me jazzed up to train. Now that this is finally up, I should be able to stay fired up for the summer:

#3.5 - pollen
no lame excuses list is complete without something weather-related