Monday, September 11, 2017

September 4-10, 2017

This week I had several God-given opportunities to run faster than in previous weeks. No racing, but a couple of workouts and one longer run that also became a workout on the fly.

Monday, I had in mind to do a 5k time trial to see where my fitness is after several consistent weeks of training. In the past, I would have done this on the track, to make sure I got the fastest time possible for my effort. However, since I generally race on the roads, I (finally) figured that it might make more sense to run the time trial on the roads.

I figured I would be able to run sub-6:00 pace for the whole thing, but I didn't know how much faster. I had a hunch I would be under 18:00, but held out hope that I might be closer to 17:00, or even under.

After a two mile warmup, I had made up my mind about the loop I would run, and set off. I felt good early on, relaxed and wondered if I would surprise myself with a 5:18 opening mile or something in that ball park. I didn't look at my watch until it beeped for one mile and I glanced down - "5:51". Ooh, not what I had expected, but I was a mile into it, so kept going. The first mile climbed a little and so the second had some downhills. Mile 2 was a 5:36, which was better. I still felt like I was running pretty relaxed as I headed into the last mile plus. I ran ~5:40 pace the rest of the way for a 17:50 5k alone on the roads. I realized afterwards that I had run the first mile on this winding section of sidewalk, so maybe I hurt my cause in the opening mile?  Anyway, I'm happy with the outcome (if not overjoyed), and am still delighted to be running as much and as fast as I am right now.

Tuesday I met up with Alex Vlahos for almost 6 from his office at lunch time.

Wednesday I ran with my former everyday running buddy Nate Hausman for just over 5 from his office at lunchtime.

Thursday evening I hooked up with Alex Vlahos and Kieran Kinnare for a progression workout. The plan was 2 x 12-minutes (progressing from 6:30 to 6:00 per mile) and 1 x 8 minutes (progresing from 6:00 to 5:45 or faster). This was a Kieran workout. I jogged down to Patton Park (1.2 miles) to meet them and then we did another 1.2 together into the first rep. On the jog, we decided that we would just make it into 2-miles, 2-miles, 1.5 miles for the repeats. The first 2-mile we ran 6:17, 6:14 out on Cutler Road then jogged a couple minutes and turned to come back. The second 2-mile was 6:12, 5:54. We jogged a couple more minutes (those guys more like to stand/walk which kills me I need to keep moving) and then started the last rep. We were still on pavement at the start although Kieran had wanted to finish on the grass, so we turned in the driveway to the park and ran the Gabe's Run course in reverse. We hit the mile in 5:53 and then 5:41 pace (according to the Garmin) for the last .5+. Cooled down home.

Friday I was a little sore and did a 6.5 mile loop @ 7:30 pace.

Saturday I did the same loop again (amidst kitchen remodel at our house) @ 6:40 pace.

Yesterday I almost didn't run after failing to get out early, but my gracious wife sent me off in the early afternoon to pursue my half-marathon goal while she tended to four kids and an unfinished kitchen. I realized when I got back this was my longest run since April 2015. But the run had to happen first.

I set out on the same loop I had run the previous two days and came through mile one a little excited in 6:46. Mile two is faster but it was 6:16 and I was starting to wonder about the distinctions between being aggressive, enthusiastic and stupid. I was working, but staying relaxed as I climbed the hill to mile 3. 6:27. Mile 4 I turned right instead of left, and climbed before descending to the rail trail on 97. I pushed the uphill and cruised the down for a 6:15. Now I was starting to wonder when the pace would start exceeding 6:30 and how much slower it would be. The rail trail is flat though and I was still feeling in control as I ran a 6:09 fifth mile. Coming off the trail into the rolling Topsfield neighborhoods, mile six was a 6:10. Mile seven was 6:24 and I was glad to be over halfway. It felt like I was going to be slowing the rest of the way, but I was surprised with a 6:15 eighth and a 6:07 ninth mile. Of course, at this point, (you can probably tell based on my description,) my perspective of the run was largely limited to the numeric data feedback from my watch, but I was loving it! The last big climb was in the tenth mile and I glanced at my watch, which I was now doing with more frequency and saw the pace had slowed. But then the inevitable downhill came and I managed a 6:23. 11th was a 6:13 mostly downhill and then I had to add a little out and back at the end to get to the 13.1 goal. All told 13.1 miles in 1:23 (6:19 per mile).

55 miles for the week

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Another good week

Monday I did a little work on an apartment in Beverly for my mom and then ran easy along the oceanside past Dane Street Beach and down by Lynch Park to Endicott College on Rte. 127. It was clear, breezy and cool for late August and I was feeling a little rundown from several longer and harder efforts last week. Very nice.

Tuesday, I kept with the coastal theme, heading up to Gloucester to meet a friend who has only been running regularly for less than a year and we did the Backshore run or most of it conversationally.

Wednesday, I had to be in Dracut, and I had looked at a couple potential runs in the area, but ended up having to guide one of my caregivers back to 93, and so I came all the way back to Topsfield for a run. I had also mapped out a "Strava segment" workout in downtown Topsfield which zigged and zagged through a neighborhood I was sort of familiar with. One segment was on rte. 97 and another ran on the rail trail. I started out with the longest, just over a mile on Surrey Lane, which had some decent climbing in it. I ran 5:43 pace (5:53 for the segment) and had a long recovery before the 7/10ths of a mile segment back on the rail trail. I was able to bring it down to 5:28 pace (4:00) and then had a short recovery before another longer segment with a hill on Partridge Road. I managed a 5:15 which wass 5:46 pace, and then had another short recovery to 97, where my 4:19 (5:50 pace) matched the existing fastest time. I had an easy cooldownback to downtown on another gorgeous late summer but felt like early fall day.

Thursday, for the second week in a row, I met Joe Shairs at Danvers High School and we did an out and back on the rail trail. We did 8 miles (down from 9 last week) and I was dragging. Not sure if the increased training caught up to me again or if I hadn't eaten or drank enough during the day or what, but I felt like the pain of everyone at the turnaround. After a mile or so chatting on the way back I felt ok for the last couple.

Friday I made plans to run with Jordan Kinley from Endicott and I was thinking 6-8 would be good. Then when Dan Vassallo guest starred, we made it a round 10 out and back up to downtown Manchester-by-the-Sea. The conversation was the history of hip hop, wilmington track and field coaches, craft beers and eating and drinking runs. Great time with two great guys. On a side note, it has been awesome to be able to get together with long-missed friends, colleagues, competitors, teammates and running legends in a relatively short time back on my feet.

Saturday (yesterday) Heather and I took advantage of her parents being back in town and ran 7 miles together for the third time in three weeks.

Today I ran in the rain for a little over 6 miles.

50 mile weeks seem to be happening now without even thinking about it and that is beyond my wildest dreams based on the inconsistency of my training for the last two and a half years.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

A good week

Last Sunday I got together with Kevin Marks, a friend from high school I ran into a couple months ago. He runs for acidotic now and recently moved back to Hamilton with his wife and kids. He is training for the Stonecat 50, his first 50-mile race. He just started running again in 2012, after not running since XC in high school (we graduated in '94). Kevin and I met at Bradley Palmer State Park and did a conversational 6 miles on the trails there. We committed to a snowshoe race this winter.

On Monday, I ran with Heather for the second week in a row. My mom came over to keep an eye on things and we did a Cutler loop plus a trip up Scilly's Hill on the HW XC course. A preview of the Gabe's Run course the day after Thanksgiving. Still putting together a team for what will be the 10th and last Gabe's Run in memory of Gabe Pacione. Nothing on facebook yet. Or here.

Tuesday, I ambitiously met up with Nate Jenkins and we did a 10-mile loop from the center of Topsfield on the roads and I got to hear a firsthand account of the '06 Austin Marathon experience. As Nate was wrapping up the story of the final miles of his breakthrough race with the Moultons, I was hanging on in the heat trying to close out the last little climb into the center of Topsfield without getting dropped.

Wednesday, my dad and I went to the Lynn Woods Relay where I got to compete on the CMS Men's Masters team and also see some familiar faces that I hadn't seen in a while.

Thursday, faithful CMS 'mate Joe Shairs met me at Danvers High School for a 9-mile out and back on the rail trail.

Friday we went to Storyland and I had my first day off from running in almost three weeks. My dad surprised us by driving up to meet us right inside the gate.

Saturday I ran seven miles from a friend's cabin in Maine on some quiet hilly roads near Great East Lake.

Today, I met Greg for almost ten miles from Ipswich High School down to Mile Lane (the former Ipswich XC course) and into Willowdale State Forest, then out at Pineswamp Road and back to the high school. An old favorite from another era (2008-2011?).

Right around 50 miles for the second straight week, had an encouraging run at the relays on Wednesday, and got to see a lot of good friends and teammates.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Lynn Woods Relay

For the second time in two weeks, and only the second time in my life, I headed to Lynn Woods last night for the races. The event this time was the 4 x 2.5 mile relay, a rolling out and back on fire roads, with a short (~.2 mi.) stretch on the more technical "goat path".

I rode over to Lynn with my dad who was making his Lynn Woods debut as well as his club debut, running at age 71 with the North Shore Striders 70+ team. (He ended up running down with the 60+ team.) He was born in Lynn and lived there for the first few years of his life, so it was a homecoming of sorts. For my part, I would be running the first leg for the CMS Men's Masters' team, with 'mates Pawlicki, Taormina and Dao to follow.

I had in mind a goal of 15:00 which would translate to 6:00/mi. pace for the 2.5 mile course. Based on my run at the Woods last week, where I had a hard time staying under 7:00/mi., I knew the pace would depend on the course we took. Some of the single-track we ran last week was beyond my ability to sustain 6-minute miles on.

We arrived a little after 5:00 pm, for the 6:00 start. I saw Jim and Nakri, got my number and nice technical race T, and warmed up with my dad on the fire road. The course definitely had some climbs, but the fire road is wide and pretty smooth, so I felt like 15-flat was feasible, as long as I didn't lose too much time on the goat path.

I also was surprised to see Greg Krathwohl, a former Ipswich HS runner who I coached in high school, who showed up with his dad, Eric, and would be running the opening leg in his dad's place for Team Gloucester. Greg was a 4:24 miler in high school who ended up a dIII all-american in XC at Middlebury his senior year (2014). Since then, he's kept running with a couple sub-1:10's at Mt. Washington, a 2nd place finish at the Stonecat 50-miler last fall and a Boston Marathon this past April.

I lined up in the second row of runners at the start, a few spots away from Greg and double d, who got a brief introduction as the relay course record holder (12:05 in 1991). (Last night there was only one person that ran under 13:00, only 3 under 14:00, and Dave ran the 14th-fastest split of the night, 26 years later.)

We started a couple minutes past 6, the first leg runners for 88 relay teams, men and women, all ages, all levels of competitive interest. The first 100m or maybe less was on the pavement, and then we were onto the fireroad and the first of a series of climbs in the first half mile. I quickly settled in to the top ten, with dd nearby and a young chelsea high runner (Jose LeClerc) who was one spot ahead of me last week. Greg was sharing the lead with a young kid I didn't recognize, and then Jonah Hulbert (Wicked) and Mark Dawson (running all four legs himself) were close behind them.

Before we got to the mile (5:50 according to the Garmin), I was settled into fifth. I could hear footsteps on the goat path (Jose or Dave), and could see Mark. When we came back out of the singletrack, I made as much of a push as I could to try to close on Mark. I could see that Jonah had put a little distance between himself and Mark, so I thought maybe I could overtake him on the downhills. The descents test my knee more than anything else, so I was making an effort, trying to be smart, and still not hyper-confident in my fitness.

As I pulled up alongside Mark just after two miles (11:47), he urged me to go by (a la JJ Yankee Homecoming 10-Mile '09), but I was going as fast as I could, so I stayed with him into the finish in 14:34. At the chute, he did a button hook and headed right back out, and there was some mild colliding and 'whoopsie-ing' while we got untangled. Turned out, he was running the first two legs (and I later discovered he ran all four), so that was probably why he encouraged me to go by. (We ended up talking after the whole thing was done and clearing it all up.)

Dave came in right behind him, and the two CMS teams were in good position. After strong legs from Jim (15:07) and Nick (15:04), Nakri closed it out in 15:47 and the team held on for 2nd overall in 1:00:32. Meanwhile, the seniors led by Dave in 14:44 were 5th overall, 1st 50+ and set a new senior course record of 1:03:47.

Full results here.

Everyone but DD: Martin, Nick, Nakri, Jim, Me, Chris Smith, Paul

Cooled down around Lynn Woods with Philip Goudie and Eric and Greg Krathwohl. Stopped at Nick's Roast Beef in Beverly on the way home with my dad for a super beef with cheese, sauce and mayo.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Lynn Woods

went to Lynn Woods last night for the first time with a couple of my former Ipswich runners, Alex and Kieran.

we accidentally parked at the wrong entrance to the woods, which was about 2 miles on trails we didn't know from the start. Got there at about 5:50 for the race which started at 6:30. We decided to take the opportunity to warm up and arrived at the start by 6:15. Passed CMS 'mate Shairs doing his warmup when we got close.

Alex and Kieran opted for the shorter (2.3 mi.) and I joined the longer (4.3 - undercliff). We were issued our complimentary lifetime numbers and we were off.

Joe was still admittedly a little beat up from the hard effort at Bobby Doyle on Sunday, so he let the leaders go. 'Mate Matt Veiga and a couple young guys were at the front as we tried to follow the orange streamers and white arrows the right way in the early going. Did some climbing in the first mile, which passed in 7:10 according to the Garmin watch. It felt relaxed and I was anticipating staying in contact with the guys around me if they were all willing to go faster. The second mile we did (I had 6:06 on the watch) and I was working hard to stay with the third place runner. I occasionally caught a glimpse of Matt and the number two runner.

We ran right by the parking lot where I had left my car (Pennybrook) at 2.2 and took a sharp right for the return. There were several significant stretches of fairly technical trail, lot of rocks, mostly single track and I was hard-pressed to maintain any type of contact with the leaders and eventually lost touch. My third mile was a 7:20, fourth was a 7:08 and the last .3 was basically 6-flat back on the main road.

I wasn't sure what to expect heading into this. I anticipated being a lot faster, but I had no idea how challenging the terrain was. So now I'm realizing I'm not in great "Lynn Woods" shape but want to continue to run every day and see what that translates to at the relay next week and at some more races this summer and fall.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Encouragement comes when you least expect it

sometimes, anyway.

I had just gotten done reading Kevin Beck's blog about not taking doctors' advice for PT, rehab, injury treatment and I decided to ask google if you (or I) can continue to run on a torn meniscus. I got into a letsrun thread, where I came across these gems:

"I'm a doctor (not in sports Med though) with over thirty years of running behind me. I've had almost every running injury but every time I get something more than a minor niggle, I post on here and I often get better insight than I do from seeing the actual specialists."

Read more:

and that set me up for this one:

"I've been running on one (torn meniscus) for about 5 years now. I found out as long as I ran everyday, the swelling stays minimal and I don't have any problem. When I would take a day or 2 off, my knee would get puffy and it was irritating to run though not really painful. It has never gotten worse and I would imagine it was from a fall on the trail but I couldn't pinpoint when it happened.

Read more:

Maybe basing my decision to train on something that I read on a letsrun thread is risky, but it also confirms my suspicion that some running every day is almost (and the almost is getting smaller) always better than not running.

We'll see how far this momentum carries me, but here's hoping I can successfully grind away whatever cartilage is in the way and keep my left knee bending under my moving body weight for a little while longer!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

mid-August update

Well, it's been my most productive week running in some time, with a six-day streak going. I even got to enjoy a progression-run with a couple of my former Ipswich athletes on Tuesday evening and felt pretty good approaching 6:00/mi. for a few miles.

Running with a torn meniscus is going to be a test, though. It seems like whenever I earnestly  try to return to regular running, the daily inflammation gets worse. I suppose cutting out IPA's and cinnamon rolls might help with reducing inflammation, but I haven't really changed my eating habits much from the days when I was running a lot more than I am now.

I was told that the tear I have is "inoperable" and I've been encouraged to get a second opinion about that, but the more I read about meniscus tears, the more it seems like you just have to take what you can get from them. Sometimes surgery is effective, sometimes not. Sometimes they hurt, sometimes they don't. I have to say that the daily ache now is much easier to abide than the locking and shooting pain that I was dealing with a few months ago when I wasn't running.

I guess the long-term prognosis for running on a torn meniscus isn't great, but I'm not sure the long-term prognosis for any runner is all that promising. We all get slower as we age, our bodies break down, we return to dust.  And now, I think I'll eat this cinnamon roll and figure out what I can handle on the roads later today.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Masters' Debut and 2M Masters' PR

I celebrated our young country's 241st birthday by getting out to the races for the first time since I turned 40 last August.

I picked the Sullivan Farms Ice Cream John Carson 2-Mile in Chelmsford, having only recently determined that I could withstand a 2-mile race AND 2-mile warmdown back to the start.

To my delight, upon arriving at the Drum Hill Hannaford, I saw the two familiarest faces I could hope to see - CMS 'mates Pawlicki and Shairs. "Are you lost?" Joe asked.

After exchanging happy greetings, I collected my first race number since last May and we met back up for an easy warmup. The sun was out, the sky was blue and my goal was to improve upon the 11:48 2-mile (Garmin-measured) time trial I did last week.

Saw some fast faces in the crowd and tried to stay in the shade a bit beforehand.

They hit the two-thousand registered runners mark this morning, so they were a lot of folks milling around waiting for the start.

I tucked into the first/second row with Jim and Joe nearby. Right before they fired the gun, the RD called the whole crowd up to the "true" start, 10m or so ahead of where we were all bunched together. This gave us some breathing room, and then the gun went off.

I knew I'd be excited to go, and went out a bit harder than I should have, but, then again, it's only two miles. I eased off a little before the half-mile mark, which passed in 2:42. Joe had come up next to me and quickly pulled ahead.

Around the mile (5:32), Jim passed us both and we stayed in that order the rest of the way, with only the second female breaking up the CMS master's trio.

Jim was 11:01, Joe was 11:06, and I'll take an 11:07 and a scenic cooldown with those guys.

I think my uniform shrank in the drawer since 2014...

Full results here.

Caught Ruben back at Hannaford and got the race report from the lead pack perspective.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Aging gracefully does not come naturally

Went for a run today and enjoyed it. (Don't let the word "run" deceive you into thinking there was anything noteworthy about the pace per mile or distance covered.) The enjoyment is significant.

"ruminating on a run"

Looking forward to entering a race somewhere unpaved before I age out of the youngest year of masters' competition. (late August)