Saturday, June 28, 2014

11-day update

Last week, I ran 12 in the woods on Wednesday and 12 on the roads on Thursday. Wednesday's run took almost 2 hours over the challenging terrain of Gordon Woods and Manchester-Essex Woods. Thursday's run took about an hour and twenty minutes.

Friday I took the day off and ran 8 in the morning, with thoughts of an afternoon run that never materialized. Thursday was Ben's last day of first grade, so Friday we headed down to the Scout store in Woburn to pick up a few Wolf Cub items for next year and a reward for completion of his first year of scouting.

Saturday I got in 15 on the roads and rail trail at 6:17 pace, giving me 88 miles for the week.

Sunday I did 12 in the afternoon on the roads and rail trail again. Miles: 6:38; 6:25; 6:10; 6:20; 6:11; 6:12; 5:54; 5:48; 5:51; 5:41; 5:32; 5:36; 1.07 for last .21. 6:00 average.

Monday I got out at 6:00 am for 14-plus on the roads of Hamilton, Wenham, and Ipswich. Included a run up "sacrifice" hill off of Sagamore Road. Then Ben, Grace and I took Emma to her swim lesson. From there we piled into the van and headed to Lincoln, NH for a couple days in the north country. We stayed at the Kancamagus Motor Lodge, a mile and a half from Loon. Spent some time in the pool Monday afternoon/evening after we arrived and got dinner at the restaurant on the grounds there.

Tuesday I was up early and jogged the bike path from our motel to Loon. I carried along a ski map that I had sketched the course on as well as some notes from Paul Kirsch's description of the XC trail portion of the course. (Thanks, Paul!) The run-through went pretty well, and I think I stayed the course the entire way. The two tough sections were the ski trails (lower speakeasy and of course upper walking boss). I felt like the first 4 miles or so were pretty runnable and will be interested to see just how fast everyone goes next weekend at the Mtn. Champs.

I anticipated Upper Walking Boss being pretty difficult and so I settled into a super-low gear and did some zig-zagging to get up it. I was pleasantly surprised that it didn't seem to be as long as I had heard, and ran similarly to the top section of Cranmore last year that we had to do three times. I'm sure it will be different on race day, but I'm at least confident that it can be done.

(On a side note, I've been scouting the registered runners for Loon and see at least 30 names of guys who could beat me on any given day, plus I'm sure there are a few up and comers that I've overlooked. About half of those names are people that I never beat, so it is going to take some serious help to finish higher than I did last year (15th, 13th US). Plus, there are quite a few names missing from the RunReg list that will probably pop up in the next week.)

We spent the rest of the day Tuesday at Story Land in Glen, riding the rides and walking around until they closed at 5. We had dinner at a great burger place back in Lincoln and then had smores for dessert at the motel campfire.

Wednesday Heather did her own AM Loon ascent at dawn, and I felt crummy with the high humidity so I only did 5 miles before we packed up and headed for home. We had a brief and ill-advised stop to hike the Dilly Trail from the Lost River Reservation in North Woodstock, NH. The trail is short but very steep and we were not prepared to get up it with all 3 kids. We turned back about a third of the way up, which put me in a sour mood, even though I knew it was the smart decision.

We were home to Hamilton before it was too late, and Heather wisely suggested I go for another run. I got in close to 7 miles and felt much better about the day as a whole.

Thursday I did the fourteen mile loop plus sacrifice hill again. 6:16 pace.

Yesterday (Friday) I ran to the Hamilton-Wenham track (about 5k away) and did 3 x 2-mile tempo. The first was 10:29, jogged a lap; second was 10:24, jogged a lap; third was a rough 10:36. In my defense, the wind really picked up during the last mile.

Today I pushed the distance slightly and did 16 at 6:16/mi.

95 miles for the week, my best week this year. This is also the most mileage I have ever run for the month of June.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Looking Marathoner; Feeling like Couture-uh?

(with credit to Chris Cornell)

I remember running a 10k PR a few springs ago on the UMass-Lowell outdoor track and still getting lapped by race winner Fred Joslyn, who ran 29:49 to my 31:28. After the race Al Bernier told me how distinct my old man, marathon shuffle was when compared to the fluid strides of the winner. I always appreciate that kind of honest feedback after an all-out, gut-wrenching effort.

So I couldn't help but chuckle, when I read Eric Couture's recent, well-written report on his experience at the Market Square Day 10k, especially when he referred to his cool-down with Jim Johnson as "ancient marathoner" pace.

Today I headed out into the 80-degree warmth for a medium-long run into Topsfield and back. I was running my normal 7:00-6:40 pace most of the way out, feeling pretty good, only two days removed from the USATF-NE Grand Prix 5-Miler in Merrimack, NH. My first mile back after I turned (mile 8 overall) was a bit of an uphill grind, and I maintained just under 6:40. To my surprise, when my watch beeped for Mile 9, it was a 5:58, and I hadn't felt like I had picked up the pace much. I thought maybe my Garmin was off, so I decided to maintain and check the next mile. Sure enough, it was a 6:05. Had I discovered a new secret of running efficiently? Was I on my way to a giant performance breakthrough?

Well, the next couple miles slowed back down to ancient marathoner mode and my moment of elation was passed. Upon further review when I got back to my office, my Garmin was in fact a little off, measuring the return distance about one-tenth of a mile longer than the way out. So those two fast miles were probably just an aberration.

14 miles in 1:32:30 (6:35/mi.)

Monday, June 16, 2014

Ribfest 5-Miler Race Report

After a Saturday night campout at Patton Park in Hamilton with my son Benjamin and the rest of Cub Scout Pack 35, I rose early (just after 5), took the tent down, hit up Dunks for a bagel and coffee, and dropped Ben at my parents, where my wife Heather was waiting. We left my parents house at 6:25 and made it to the EAB parking lot in Merrimack by 7:15 am. We were greeted by Jim Pawlicki, Larissa Park and several CMS ladies who had driven up from Worcester together.

Heather and I did our first of three trips from the lot to the start and grabbed our numbers. The race HQ was well-organized, if a bit crowded, with the sprawling Ribfest covering much of the Anheuser-Busch complex. We took a look at the course map and jogged back to the parking lot to drop gear off and get changed into uniforms and racing flats. I opted for the half-tight and compression socks and must say, I probably won't race on the roads without them ever again, if possible.

In spite of a rather restless night of sleep on the ground (I did have a great new air mattress which Heather got for me on Saturday, but it's not quite a pillowtop), I was feeling good during the warmup. After we returned to the HQ, Heather decided on strides and I ran up the start and out onto the first mile of the course. It seemed pretty straight and flat on Rte 3, the Daniel Webster Highway, and I turned around after Mike Galoob came by me and jogged back in with him. He admitted to feeling a bit like he is just hanging on to his fitness for the next couple races (Ribfest, Washington, Loon) and is hoping to take some recovery time later in the summer. I've been supremely impressed with the level of his performances this winter and spring and had targeted him as someone I would like to beat, but that I knew would be a battle.

I did a few strides on the grass inside Ribfest and wandered to the start area at about 8:45. The start area was very busy and I got boxed back a couple rows when they moved us up to the start just before the gun went off.

(I must say this was one of the best-organized, most-professionally done races I've had the privilege to be a part of. With over 2000 runners, plus a couple thousand (??) more folks coming in for the Ribfest afterwards, there had to be a lot of details to take care of and John Mortimer and Millenium Running were on top of it. From the four instructional emails we received in the weeks leading up to the event to the well-labeled tents at the start-finish area, the race organizers did an outstanding job.)

Now, for the race:

The course was basically an out and back, with a small loop around halfway and the only significant hill in the first/last quarter of a mile. We went up the hill at the start and got to come down it at the finish.

Thanks to John M.'s pre-race email, I had done a decent job of scouting the "competition", at least in terms of the people I had a chance to beat and those that I was unlikely to be anywhere near. I thought I might have an outside shot at the top 10 if I could run mid-25's and hoped that by running under 26 I would be somewhere in the top 20. My plan was to go out on pace, or maybe a little slower and come back hard. We anticipated a head wind on the way out and a tail wind on the way back.

At the gun, I was buried a bit, but everyone around me and in front went out at a decent speed, so I didn't feel like I was waiting to move or anything. I swung out the left and got around some people, placing myself on the outside of the first turn as we began the climb up the hill. This meant I was on the inside for the second turn and I could pretty much take the tangent. We crested the hill with a large pack, only just beginning to string out and I was aware of the leaders fairly close still. I saw Nate J. up with the lead pack, a lot of WMDP guys (in a couple different singlets), Brandon Newbould and Dan Princic from Whirlaway, Chris Magill, Brad Mish, Ian Nurse and some other BAA guys; in short, many and most of the usual supects at a Grand Prix event. My hope was to beat as many of the guys who beat me at New Bedford as I could.

There was a definite wind in our faces for the first two miles, but it was gusty, not constant, and so we did our best to tuck in behind one another. The first mile was 5:15, a little slower than I had hoped, but not terribly so, and I felt good, like I hadn't raced at all yet.

During the second mile, Ian Nurse and I were stride for stride, and there was a third runner (GLRR) with us for most of the way as we ran 5:11 for the second mile (10:26). Greg Putnam shot by me around two miles, looking strong, and I knew I should work to stay with him, so I made sure to maintain contact during the short turnaround loop. As we made the sharp left turn (about halfway), I made a conscious decision to pick it up and start racing. I caught 3 or 4 people in the next half-mile, although my 3-mile split was only a 5:14, for 15:40 at 3 miles. I came through 5k in just under 16:10 and continued to press up a gentle grade, reaching for the next runner up ahead. I caught a couple BAA guys, including Chris Magill, who was running side-by-side with Mike Galoob. Also ran by Morgan Kennedy some time around 4 miles, I think, but didn't recognize him in the green T-shirt he was wearing.

Mile 4 was a 5:12 for 20:52, and I knew to get under 26, I had no room to relax. I was feeling the heat of the sun beating down on us, unprotected on the wide homestretch. I could hear footsteps coming up as we turned into the final downhill and thought it must be Mike Galoob coming back on me. It turned out to be Sean Hyland from BAA, who went right past me on the next to last turn. We made the final turn and I was really hurting, wanting the finish to be right there and it was still 100m or more off. I charged for it, with Brandon Newbould and Sean both coming back to me slowly, but I wasn't able to overtake them as I crossed in 25:55.09 (25:56).

Overall, I'm pleased with the effort and the outcome. I'm not sure where I would have made up the 20 or so seconds I was hoping for, unless I had gone out a bit faster in the early miles. I felt strong the second half, but didn't have a lot left in the tank at the end, so I felt like I spent everything I had out there.

Right behind me, Scott Leslie came in at 25:58 or 9, and then we watched as Morgan and Greg finished up the team scoring in the next 20 seconds. Nate J. was way up in 3rd overall with a strong 24:37.

5 CMS guys in the top 33 was only good for 4th place as RUn took the open title, with Jeff Veiga leading the way with the overall win in a speedy 24:20 and Justin Freeman and Peter Omea also both finishing in the top 10. BAA and Western Mass also both had our number by a significant margin. (Even with Dan V., who was racing a local 5k in Belmont, it would have been a tall order for us to crack the top 3 teams.)

I ended up 22nd overall, 8th 30-39 and 2nd CMS.

Heather was 22nd woman overall in 32:19, 8th 30-39 and 1st CMS. CMS women took home 5th, with Heather and Melissa D. finishing only a couple seconds apart, followed closely by Abbey Wood, Linda Spooner and 57-year-old Mary Lammi (1st 55-59 female)!

Heather and I enjoyed some time together on the cooldown, with over a half an hour in the warm summer sun (my bald head got fried) and almost 4 miles. Had a couple liquid refreshments (Redhook IPA and Goose Island for Heather), caught up with EJN for a couple minutes and grabbed some timely Qdoba and Starbucks for the ride home.

Spent a nice remainder of Father's Day with my parents and kids, Ben counting every baseball catch he made for the day (251!).

Got out for 3 miles in 21 minutes after the kids were in bed. Feeling pretty good; we'll see how today goes.

Results (Top Ten + CMS):

   1  JEFFERY VEIGA               RUN M 23 LOWELL MA 24:20
   2  BRIAN HARVEY               BAA M 27 BOSTON MA 24:27 
   3  NATE JENKINS              CMS M 33 NORTH ANDOVER MA 24:37 
   4  ERIC ASHE                        BAA M 25 BOSTON MA 24:54 
   5  SEAN DUNCAN            WMDP M 24 ARLINGTON MA 25:02 
   6  JUSTIN FREEMAN            RUN M 37 NEW HAMPTON NH 25:09 
   7  CHRIS KIBLER                GBTC M 24 TOWNSEND MA 25:20 
   8  PETER OMEA                    RUN M 36 LOWELL MA 25:23 
   9  ROBERT GOMEZ         DIRIGO M 30 PORTLAND ME 25:25
  10  DANIEL BARRY           WMDP M 27 SOUTHWICK MA 25:29
  22  PATRICK RICH              CMS M 37 SOUTH HAMILTON MA 25:56
  23  SCOTT LESLIE               CMS M 32 RUTLAND MA 25:59
  33  GREG PUTNAM              CMS M 44 STONEHAM MA 26:18
  63  JOE SHAIRS                    CMS M 46 PEABODY MA 27:42
  64  MATTHEW VEIGA         CMS M 27 LYNN MA 27:46
  67  JAMES PAWLICKI         CMS M 39 LYNN MA 27:55
  68  ANDY MCCARRON       CMS M 31 KEENE NH 27:59
  86  DAVE DUNHAM             CMS M 50 BRADFORD MA 28:37
  98  ARTHUR BESSE             CMS M 41 TEMPLETON MA 28:51
149  MARTIN TIGHE             CMS M 56 PROVIDENCE RI 30:28
165  DAVE MINGORI            CMS M 47 CHARLTON MA 31:21
168  SAM WOOD                    CMS M 27 LACONIA NH 31:27
191  HEATHER RICH             CMS  F 34 SOUTH HAMILTON MA 32:19
193  MELISSA DONAIS         CMS  F 30 ANDOVER MA 32:20
211  ABBEY WOOD                CMS  F 28 LACONIA NH 32:53
218  LINDA SPOONER          CMS  F 39 STURBRIDGE MA 33:10
249  MARY LAMMI               CMS  F 57 SPENCER MA 34:08
269  ALICE MCKEON            CMS  F 51 WORCESTER MA 34:34
276  ALICIA ENO                    CMS  F 36 WORCESTER MA 34:44
281  KAREN MCGAHIE        CMS  F 52 BOYLSTON MA 34:49
426  STEPHEN LASKA            CMS M 52 HOLDEN MA 37:57
496  PAT CLARK                     CMS  F 54 WORCESTER MA 39:34
517  HEIDI BESSE                   CMS  F 41 TEMPLETON MA 40:01
731  ANNIE RYAN                   CMS  F 57 FLORENCE MA 44:09

Link to full results here.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

long trail run and mile repeats

Yesterday (Monday), it was warm and steamy, so I headed to the shady sanctuary of the Gordon, Essex and Manchester Woods. I decided on an out and back and felt good early on staying to the less-travelled single tracks through Gordon Woods. When I came out to Chebacco Road (Pine St. in Manchester) I went over the guard rail into the Manchester-Essex Woods and followed the main trail to the Spruce Swamp Trail to Cheever Commons Loop to Ancient Line to Millstone Hill to Prospect Ledge. Ran the Prospect Ledge Trail further than last week (so further than I ever have). Turned around at 6 miles (56 minutes) and came back. A bunch of miles in the 10:00 range on hilly, rocky single track. Lots of pollen and inchworms in the air. Great time in there - 12 miles in 1:55:26.

Today, I had a track workout in mind. With the Ribfest 5-miler coming up this Sunday and a long hiatus from any kind of structured speed, I figured it was about time for something like this. I'm also holding onto the hope that I might log an outdoor 5k for the All-Terrain series, possibly at the Bay State Games regional race? Anyway, I hoped I might be able to see the fast side of 5:00 for at least a repeat or two.

I warmed up to the track (.3 miles) then did 10 laps on the track. Switched into spikes for the repeats. The first mile started discouragingly, with the first three laps each slower than the previous and all slower than goal pace (76, 77, 78), finished with a 76 for a 5:07.7 first mile, then realized as I was jogging the 800m recovery that I felt pretty fresh. Maybe the compression socks were doing their job, but I got it into my head that I would try to run each one slightly faster. Mile 2 was about 2 seconds faster in 5:05.6 and it seemed possible. Mile 3 I worked the middle laps a little more and got in just under 5:03. Mile 4 I dipped under 5:00 and the last one was a 4:55.7. I should note that the 800m recoveries were getting pretty slow after the last two (8:00 pace). Still, I was pleased with the workout, especially after starting out slower than I had hoped.

Goal for the weekend: sub-26, which I've never done at a Grand Prix 5-miler. In 2009, at the Ollie 4.91 miler, I ran 25:21, which would have been under 26, if I had held the pace for another .09. I ran 26:13 in '05 and '06 at Ollie. In '05 I was excited with that time, in '06 disappointed. Carver in '11 was another slightly disappointing performance of 26:05, especially after blitzing the first mile in 4:50 with JJ. And last year I ran 26:15 at Carver, unable to find a faster (sub-5:10) gear. Feeling pretty good after the past few weeks and today.

Monday, June 9, 2014

I lovacation

Sorry to rip off the old I Lovermont slogan, but wanted to express how much I've enjoyed being out of work for the past 11 days.

Wednesday the 28th was my last day in the office and I spent almost 2 hours of it in the woods, exploring trails and trying to get Loon-ready.

Thursday the 29th I did 12 on an out and back that is quickly becoming my favorite run from home. Up Highland/Arbor Street to the center of Wenham, right on 1A toward Beverly, right onto Cherry Street, left on Cedar, which runs past the back of Wenham Lake and features a new short stretch of sidewalk/bark mulch trail, out to Rte. 97, where I head north to the Danvers/Topsfield Rail trail. I went south on the trail on Thursday, turned around at 6 miles and came back the same way. 6:27 average pace. After the run, we headed to New Jersey for one night at Heather's parents' house.

Friday the 30th Heather and I ran 7 miles together on the hilly roads around her parents' house in Long Valley, NJ. Then we packed up, said goodbye to Bear, and drove the 2+ hours to Lancaster, PA, to visit my brother Alex, his wife, Chloe and their daughter Maisie.

Saturday we all spent the day at Dutch Wonderland in Lancaster with lunch at the Lancaster Brewing Co. Great to see both my brothers and their families. Thanks to my mom and dad for making the trip possible.
(Week total = 61.26 miles)

Sunday we drove back to Long Valley and I squeezed in a quick 9-spot at 6:18 pace (including an 8:19 first uphill mile).

Monday we drove back to MA and ran late afternoon. I headed out on the same route as the previous Thursday, but knew I wouldn't have as much time. I was a little slow from the harder, hilly run Sunday, a day in flip-flops on Saturday, and a lot of time spent sitting in the car. I was running right around 7:00 pace as I crossed an intersection on rte. 97. I glanced to my right and noticed a runner approaching the intersection, turning to go the same way as me. I accelerated slightly and wondered how he would respond. Sure enough, a hundred yards later, I heard footsteps coming up on me. I stepped to the right, off the sidewalk, and a young (high school?) kid with headphones on came huffing past. I tucked back in behind him and wondered how long he would maintain the pace as we headed into a little climb on 97. I had just started to plot my explosive response, when he turned down a street to the right and removed himself from the competition I had started in my mind. (I've since run by the spot 3 more times, awaiting the rematch.)

Tuesday I ran down to Bradley Palmer State Park and met up with former Ipswich distance runner and recent Middlebury graduate Greg Krathwohl for an hour/8 miles on the trails. Greg is interested in getting into some mountain races and I'm hoping to a.) see him at Loon and b.) recruit him for CMS. He ran 4:26/9:36 in high school, then ran 4 years of XC, 2 of track at Middlebury. This fall he finished 8th at DIII NE's and 16th at Nationals for All-American. With the 3 miles there and back, I logged a little over 14 in 1:45.

Wednesday I ran the loop version of my new favorite run, taking the rail trail north to topsfield and then running home by way of perkins row, topsfield road and asbury st., past the topsfield bradley palmer entrance. 12.46 miles at 6:12 pace

Thursday ran ten-mile loop from home, followed by 6 x 100m? strides on the driveway/road

Friday ran 10 in the morning with Heather, while my mom watched the girls; then did 5 more in the evening, marking out the Kupenda 5-mile race course with Aaron Baldwin.

Saturday helped a bit at the race, then fished briefly in Gull Pond with Ben, Grace and Emma. Ben had a baseball game at 11, which was his best showing of his young career. After the game, I did an extended version of the rail trail loop (13.34 at 6:19 pace). Dinner with friends from our small group at church at the Hart House in Ipswich - adults only. Sesame Crusted Tuna rare - wish I took some MacKnight food photos - and bread pudding for dessert. Then 6 of us walked the mile loop from the Hart House past the high school after dinner.

(83.08 miles for the week)

Yesterday (Sunday) did 10 out and back on the rail trail run at 6:29 pace.