Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Weekly update

Since the GMAA 15k, my training has continued to be spotty, with some good days and some off days.

Monday and Tuesday of last week I spent 17 miles in the Gordon Woods, getting our 5k and 8k courses ironed out for the Pop Crowell Invitational later this month. I'm really happy with the simplicity of the women's course and the fact that I got the start and finish in the woods, eliminating any pavement at all. The first loop of the men's course is a little dodgy.

I still have a 6k to map out for our conference (CCC) meet that we host in early November.

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday I got in 14, 12 and 15 miles on the roads in the heat at 6:32, 6:21 and 6:43 pace, respectively.

Friday night we (family) headed up to Pawtuckaway State Park in NH for a weekend or a night of camping, depending on the weather and how the kids did all in one tent. I was optimistic that I might meet up with Brandon Newbould for a running tour of the park on Saturday or Sunday or both. Unfortunately, technology failed me and I got the text too late, missing out on a Saturday morning run. As the day wore on, I pushed my plans to run back, and when it became evident that we weren't staying a second night, I decided to wait until we got home. We stopped for dinner, I had a beer, we got ice cream after...needless to say, by the time we made it back to the Grove and had everyone in bed, the last thing I could imagine doing was lacing up and heading out into the dark at the tail end of a thunderstorm to get some miles.

When Sunday rolled around, I lost the drive (or just continued Saturday's lost drive) and never made it out. For whatever reason, I really just didn't want to run.

By Monday, my (mental) health was depending on my getting out, and after the first mile or so, which was an absolute slog-fest nightmare, I got back into it for 12 miles at 6:30 pace.

Yesterday (Tuesday), I had my first run in almost 4 months with my Gordon running buddy, Nate. Nate spent his summer (like every summer) in the Adirondacks, directing Gordon's La Vida program. Even though his runs have been few and far between, he had no problem clicking off 7:03's for 5 and a half on the roads.

Today I did a little over 4 in the morning at 6 am practice with the team, then got out for 10 and a half by myself at 1 pm, out and back to the top of the hill at Gordon-Conwell.

Goal for Lone Gull: improve on last year's 32:21 and help CMS win gold.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Catching up / GMAA 15k report

On the 7th, Heather and I celebrated our 10th anniversary a week early at the Stephen Clay Homestead B + B in Candia, NH and ran 10 miles together from the Inn into Bear Brook State Forest and back the next morning.

I raced the Asbury Grove mile for the only time this summer on the 11th, winning in 4:51.

My training has been a bit spotty, with mileage in the 50's for the past two weeks.

The end of August was fast, with Gordon XC getting started. We had a team trip to the Adirondacks for the first five days of the season, where we spent time training together, getting to know each other, and taking on a couple ambitious hikes.

My group did a 14-mile loop up and over Gothics, Armstrong and Upper Wolf Jaw. We started a little too late (10:30 am) and didn't get off the trail until almost 10 pm. Hiking in the dark made possible by iPhones. I managed to get 3 miles of running in, too (1.5 at each end of the hike), keeping my streak from May alive. We had left a van in Keene Valley so I had an uphill dog (Vic's mini golf reference) on the way in and a fast flight down hill in the dark on the way out.

Also, set the CR at the La Vida run in Lake Clear, NY, lowering my time from last year by 2 and a half minutes to 46:51 for 8.7 miles (5:23/mi.).

The following Saturday (Aug. 23) I did a Lafayette, Lincoln, Little Haystack hike with Russ Q., Nate B. and Aaron H. A little over 9 miles in about 6 hours. No run, but a good amount of time on our feet.

I had a good 1k/.5k workout in the morning on the 22nd, which became the team's best workout (in 2+ years that I've been here) later that afternoon.

We had our season opener at New England College last Friday, which doubled as my 38th birthday celebration. The women finished 3rd of 10 teams and the men were 6th, although I limited their pace for the first 2 miles of the 5k course, hoping to keep everyone sharp, and reminding them that it is a long season and November is what matters.

On Saturday night (8/30), Heather and I made the drive up to Burlington, VT for the GMAA Labor Day 15k.

We had dinner downtown at the Vermont Pub & Brewery. I took some MacKnight-ish pictures of everything I consumed with my "new" (re-furbished) iPhone:

A cask-conditioned IPA, that barely lasted for the picture;

"Toads in a Hole" - a delicious (if not entirely aesthetically-pleasing) meal consisting of a maple sausage and Vermont cheddar wrapped in pastry, served with fries and apple chutney;

and a cask-conditioned stout with a hint of bourbon flavor that Heather and I shared.

After dinner, we crashed at the La Quinta, which the CMS women's team provided (awesome!) and enjoyed a pretty quiet night of sleep. (I had been worried when we left for dinner and the guys in the room across the hall from us and next door were partying in the hallway.)

I got up around 6 on Sunday, grabbed a Starbucks coffee across the street and a bagel and cream cheese from Dunkin Donuts. Heather utilized the continental breakfast at La Quinta. I caught up briefly in the elevator doorway with Nate J., who had stayed there, too, with his wife, Melissa. (I stayed at the same hotel as Nate Jenkins!) Nate was concerned about the humidity.

Heather and I warmed up to the start (about 2.5 miles from La Quinta), Heather joined by new CMS 'mates Jenn Brooks and Layce Alves.

It was overcast, which was great, but humidity was high, as Nate had warned.

I saw a bunch of familiar faces congregating in the starting area. From CMS: Joe Shairs, Jim Pawlicki, Al Bernier (freshly 40), Scott Leslie, Dave and Dan, Greg Putnam, etc.

I got into the first row at the start, which was nice. I'm not as intimidated of being up front in a Grand Prix event when the distance is longer than 10k, since it tends to scare off some of the younger speedsters. Top 10 was in my mind as I sized up the competition. Down and up the first set of hills, I was in a group of four with Jose Ortiz and Brandon Newbould  of Whirlaway and Justin Freeman of RUN. We were behind an ambitious RUN member I didn't recognize and another foursome which included Nate J. and Ruben Sanca.

The early pace felt relaxed and I was glad to be with Justin and Brandon, who typically beat me, without having to work too hard. The first mile was 5:25, which seemed a little slow, but not cause for concern, and when the next two miles dropped to 5:20, I felt good about a 49:00 for the full distance. A few runners came by our pack during the first few fast miles. Among them were: Jesse Regnier in the WMDP yellow jersey, as well as teammate Jon Joyce who I met at the Marathon Sports 5-Miler last summer, along with a 3-pack of Dirigo guys who looked strong.

After three miles, we turned left and began a series of hills that made up mile 4. This was a tough stretch (5:38 4th mile) and Jose and Justin began pulling away from me. Somewhere in the middle miles a "home-teamer", GMAA's Peter Gurney, came past looking smooth. I tried to hang with him as he moved up through the line of runners ahead of me. When Peter passed (about halfway through the race), I was in 14th place, and I could still ahead to 6th, so I gritted my teeth and decided to catch as many as I could.

Jose was the first guy I caught up to, between 5 and 6 miles, as we turned right onto a road that led to a short section of bike path. He responded briefly, and I thought we might be able to work together, but it was short-lived. Jose and I have run near each other quite a bit over the last couple summers and I feel pretty comfortable in his company during a grand prix event.

On the bike path, I took on a couple more guys (Alex Hall from the BAA, I think, and one of the three Dirigo guys). I think I was 10th or 11th coming off the bike path into the neighborhood section of the course. Mile splits were low-to-mid 5:20's and I was increasingly more uncomfortable in the heat and humidity. I caught one more guy during the final two miles and could hear footsteps between mile 8 and the finish. Down the final stretch a couple WMDP guys who weren't running screamed at their teammate behind me, "That guy's forty years older than you!" (about me). At this point (right around mile 9, which was a 5:11 and my fastest of the day), I was pretty much all-out, and looking at Peter Omea in 9th, who wasn't far ahead, but I certainly took a little inspiration from that comment, and mustered some strength for the final push. I held off Scott from WMDP for 10th place in 50:12.8 (officially), which was slower than my time goal, but met my place goal of being Top Ten.

I cheered in the rest of the CMS-ers: Scott, who was right behind me; Greg and Al; Morgan; Jim; Joe; etc. and then my lovely wife, who wound up 11th woman and 2nd CMS.

The men took 2nd, thanks in large part to Nate's 2nd place, sub 48:00 finish. CMS women were third.

Krissy K. got some great pictures, as usual:

 Up the first hill

 Getting close...c'mon finish!

 Longest stride of the summer - thanks, Kris!

 Gutting it out/Looking old

Finishing 10th

Heather, finishing strong

Afterwards, I did 2 miles easy with Scott McGrath and Alex Hall, grabbed some food and jogged back to the hotel with Heather. Had just enough time for a shower before checkout, which was clutch, except for the stinging right nipple (see pictures above). We stopped for some bacon, egg and cheese bagels and Starbucks beverages, but I made a quick detour for a $6 can of Heady Topper, when I realized I had the opportunity. First time trying this notorious double IPA and it was worth the premium. I saved the can.