Saturday, June 27, 2020

Four miles solo today

I'm catching that wave of "return to normality" that's coming through and hopefully getting my butt in gear running-wise. I've had an amazing stretch of regular running (2-3 days a week, 2-3 miles/day, 9:00-10:00/mi.) with Ben which I hope will continue as my personal running dreams come back into focus.

This will be my third week in a row over 20k (which is only 12.4 miles) after a month and a half of half that per week.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Recent Running

Since the beginning of April, I've been running two-three times a week with my thirteen-year-old son Ben to keep him moving in preparation of the imminent 8th grade XC season that begins this September.

I'm hoping to supplement that with a little more solo effort on the side and get back in shape for Mt. Washington '21.

Monday, April 22, 2019

While the mice are away, the cat will run more, I guess

This past week of training was my highest mileage in four years and here's how it shook out:

Saturday, April 13 - Merrimack River Trail Race in Andover, with a couple miles before and after with Heather and long-lost teammate Kevin Tilton (13.4 total). This race left me sore in areas I hadn't utilized since last year's event. My inov-8 trail talon 235's arrived just in time, and I think they probably made the difference from last year (30s faster).

Sunday, April 14 - Heather, Ben, Grace, Emma and Rebekah headed down to NJ to see Heather's family for the first part of school vacation. I did 14 miles at 6:37/mi. in the afternoon

Marathon Monday, April 15 - 8 miles in the morning before watching the marathon on tv; just under 4 miles easy afterwards (first 'double' of the year)

Tuesday, April 16 - 12 miles in the morning at 7:00/mi.; big breakfast; 6 and a half in the afternoon

Wednesday, April 17 - 10 miles at 9 am; another 6 and a half in the early pm just before family got back

Thursday, April 18 - 9 at lunch, just over 7:00/mi.

Friday, April 19 - 12 and a half just under 7:00/mi.

Saturday, April 20 - early (5:50 am) 15 miles, longest run of the year

Sunday, April 21 - 8

Monday-Sunday total: 91.8 miles
(Sunday-Saturday total, which is what my spreadsheet log uses, was 98)

Either way, my highest mileage week since February 2015. If I run Cape Cod this fall and/or Boston next spring, I hope I can get a stretch of weeks like this. Hopefully, I can start getting my butt out of bed around 6 during the week and get some of Bob Wiles' 'Free Mileage' in before I take Ben to school...

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Ben's first season of XC

My son Ben entered sixth grade this fall and turned 12 in September and had his first chance to be a part of a school running team. His coach was someone I have known for years and even worked under as an assistant back before Ben was born, so that was cool.

Prior to the fall season, Ben's running had consisted of a handful of road/trail races and some consistent racing at Roger Perham's Monday night summer Asbury Grove races.

(Every Monday from early July to early September Roger holds races at 6:00 pm. The fee is $1 for the week or $2 for the whole summer. He runs 4 races: 5 and under (250m?), 8 and under (600m?), 12 and under (~800m) and an open mile. He gives out ribbons with name, date, race and your time and we have collected quite a few as a family over the past eleven summers. I would guess Roger has been doing these races for about 30 years, and they start about a quarter mile from our front step, so we usually find our way there at least a couple times per summer.)

I had little expectation that Ben would fall in love with running as hard as I have, but I was excited to see him doing it. He was committed to the practice schedule and I forced him to do his weekend runs and I hope he got a kick out of how interested I was in what they had done each day and how he was reacting to it.

The boys team was about 10-12 kids and Ben was in the middle of that group. He got faster as the season went on, which spoke to the value of his regular training, and I think he'll stick with it.

Here he is, finishing strong at the last home meet of the season:

He's running track this spring, after playing basketball this winter, but will be taking part in the long jump, the 200 and the 400 in the first meet.

Since November

I've started 3 separate blog updates, none of which has been completed, which is a bit symptomatic of my life right now, but I digress...

I trained a little more than I ought to immediately following Bay State, with not much racing on the horizon and a body that was asking to recover.

I ran a 5k on Thanksgiving morning (cold!!) in NJ and got smoked by a former William and Mary runner visiting his girlfriend for the holiday. He told me afterward that he was trying to break 8 minutes in the 3k that winter, so that made me feel 'better'.

My running fizzled a bit just before the end of the year, and I took some intentional time in January to heal up and let the competitive fire return. I probably ended up missing more days in January than I needed to, but my Friday appointments with Kevin Hankens kept me involved with running on at least a weekly basis.

By the end of January, I had a few solo runs under my belt, and was making plans to race at New Bedford and the Upton 15k.

New Bedford came quickly and I was a bit under-trained, but was happy to scrape out a low-1:15 and finish in the top 10 masters. I rode down with Kevin Hankens, who ran a significant PR (1:12:45) and beat me even more soundly than I had expected. I confessed to him afterwards that my drubbing at his hands was motivating to get my butt in gear.

I had a couple good weeks between New Bedford and Upton and ran better at the 15k. My hope had been to run close to my 2000 Tewksbury Run Your Turkey Off time, when as a spry 24-year-old just a few weeks removed from my debut marathon, I had kept pace with North Shore Strider Joe Shairs most of the way and finished in 52:51.

At Upton, I had people to chase the whole way, and a pack of Masters that caught me at 10k kept me honest all the way in. I ended up cracking 52 and finishing as 3rd Master.

Since then, I've had a couple decent workouts, kept the mileage mostly in the 60's, and got a good race-beating from Tim Van Orden at the Merrimack River Trail race last weekend.

Getting ready for the James Joyce Ramble on the 28th of this month. I finished 2nd last year in the US Masters' Championships in 33:02, running much better than I expected. I know the field will be good and I'd like to run close to that time again.

This week, Heather and the kids were in NJ, so I got some extra runs in and will likely wind up with an 80-mile week. I'll see how I respond to the spike in volume and if I'll have the room in my schedule to split the difference and stick around 70 mpw for a bit.

Gearing up for Mt. Washington I want to get some more time on my feet than I had last year. I think I could run 1:10 if all goes well.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Bay State Marathon recap…and SO MUCH MORE!!

Sunday, October 21st was the 30th Bay State Marathon in Lowell.

The race served as the USATF-NE Championship for the marathon distance and the final (7th) race in the Grand Prix series.

Coming into the race I was 9 points behind Ryan Carrara in the 40-44 age group, but I knew he wasn’t running the marathon.

I also trailed Judson Cake (Dirigo) by one point, but he wasn’t going to be there either.

Dave Bedoya (BAA) had the same total as me, but I didn’t expect him to be there either after talking with him at Lone Gull a few weeks ago.

Finally, teammate Al Bernier was one point behind me.

I knew I would need to win the age group in order to get the 10 points to catch Ryan, and if I could do that the rest would take care of itself.

Going in, I figured I could run under 2:40, but it had been seven years since my last road marathon, so I had a lot of doubts during the weeks leading up to the race.

I hoped I might be able to break 2:35 and even harbored some thoughts of running close to Jason Porter’s Masters’ course record of 2:33:44 set in 2010.

Preparations for the marathon:
went well, although I had a bit of an accelerated training plan.

As of September 1st, my longest run of the year was 18 miles, and that was in May, so I realized what I needed most was some runs with more time on my feet to approximate the toll the marathon would take.

With some ongoing knee concerns, I was unsure about how my body would respond to runs of two hours, but I set some goals of increasing my long runs fairly quickly so that I could get 3-4 20-mile runs in by the early part of October.

On Labor Day (September 3), I ran an 18-mile loop which included a nice flat stretch on the Topsfield/Danvers rail trail.

This trail would turn into my bread and butter for long runs. The long straight flat stretches are not unlike the Bay State course. Although, admittedly, the surface is a bit softer.

On Labor Day, I started out with a mile around 7:00 pace, which was smart, and then proceeded to run the next 6 between 6:08 and 6:23, which was not as smart.

By the end I had to stop and walk and felt fatigued like I hadn’t in a long time.

I finished in 2:07, which was a 7:04/mi. average, even with an 18th mile in excess of 11 minutes.

I was encouraged about completing the run, but unsure about attempting anything longer…

However, six short days later, on September 9th, I gave it a go at 5 in the morning.

Most notably, it was about 30 degrees cooler than it had been the previous Monday.

I made provisions for a mid-run snack/water break by running out about 5 miles and then running back home. I grabbed some water and Stinger chews and then ran the second half carrying some more of each.

I started a little smarter than I had on Monday (and I was half-asleep), running around 7:00/mi. for the first 5 miles and picking it up from there gradually.

I ran around 6:45’s for the second five miles and then ran in the 6:30’s the rest of the way.

It was my first 20-mile run since March 1, 2015 (Caumsett 50k DNF) and it felt pretty good in 2 hours and 14 minutes!

That afternoon I did some more easy running while my three older kids rode bikes and then my Dad even joined in on foot for a mile or so.

I finished up the historic day running some strides with my son Ben the night before his first day of middle school XC!

(Probably fortunately,) my next long run would have to wait more than a week because I had made plans to race the

Downtown 5k in Providence with my CMS ‘mates.

I did a 13-mile run with faithful teammate/training partner Kevin Hankens on Friday at 6:56/mi. pace.

On Sunday I headed to Providence, hoping I might be able to crack 16:00 for the first time as a 40-year-old.

I figured I’d be well under my “Masters PR” of 16:41 that I had run last December at the Beverly Reindeer Run.

I did a little over 3 miles for a warmup and really enjoyed the roads of Providence. It was warm and sunny and a pretty good day to race a 5k.

I talked with Judson at the start and found a spot a couple of rows back.

The start was fast and I felt like I was tiptoeing for the first quarter mile because it was so packed and I was trying to avoid tripping.

I was able to keep the pace in the low 5’s (even though I hadn’t done much running that fast, if any, in my recent training) and worked my way up through the masters’ field, going by Nat Larsen, Judson and finally Andy Gardiner.

Sprinting up the final hill I was closing on (13-year-old!!!) Aidan Cox, but I couldn’t get to him before the finish line.

My net time was 16:01 and my chip time was 15:58, so I sort of met my goal of breaking 16.

I thought I was first 40+ when I crossed, but soon learned that Dan Smith had run under 15:50!

I had a nice cooldown with Ryan Carrara and Brad Klinedinst, enjoying more of the city of Providence and then grabbed lunch at the best Chipotle I’ve ever been to (near Brown) before heading home.

That night, I did a little over two and a half miles with my dad, encroaching on the property lines of neighbors more than I would have if I were running solo. 😊

Two days after Downtown, I took another crack at a long run.

Tuesday mornings Heather has Rebekah with her at work for a few hours, so it has been a window of opportunity for me if I want to get out for a longer run during the week.

I set up my deck railing (in the rain) for a mid-run fuel stop, and planned on attempting 22 miles.

On my way out, I was feeling good, so I decided to just continue trucking on the rail trail and forego the midway stop.

The rain was everything from a fine mist to a full torrential downpour, and it was a nice distraction most of the way.

After a 7:03 opening mile, the rest of the run was between 6:14 and 6:45 per mile, and my slowest mile after the 4th was a 6:39 15th.

I started to wonder if maybe I should hope for rain at BayState.

Friday of that week, I did my third of four Tempo workouts.

The first had been a 20 minute road run on September 7th at about 5:45 pace.

The second was 4 x mile on the track at around 5:25/mi. on September 11th.

The plan for #3 was 2 x 20-minutes with about 10 minutes of recovery in between.

I warmed up just over a mile and a half and jumped into the first one. (This was on the roads.)

I managed to cover 3.58 miles in the first 20:01, which averages to 5:35 per mile.

I recovered for 9:45 at 6:52/mi. and then did the second 20 minutes at a 5:38 average.

Three days later it was time for 24 miles!!

And I mustered a 6:23/mi. average for the distance, giving me a huge boost of confidence a month before Bay State.

I tried another workout on Wednesday, which was a bit of a fail, but I didn’t have time to dwell on it for long, because Sunday was

Lone Gull!

This was my third time racing the Lone Gull 10k, and once again it served as the USATF-NE Championship for the 10k in the road Grand Prix.

I was looking to improve on my 33:02 that I ran at James Joyce in late-April, although I really didn’t have any reason to suspect that I’d be able to. That race was a big surprise and a highlight of this year.

The Lone Gull course is definitely faster than James Joyce, but my recent focus had been on long runs and overall volume with a dash of Tempo work, nothing really at 10k pace or faster.

The “new” Lone Gull course which eliminated the scenic but turny neighborhood loop seemed like it would be even faster.

Each of the previous times I’d run Lone Gull I came away with a new road PR at the distance, running 32:21 in 2013 and 32:10 in 2014.

I lined up a row or two back at the (new) start (before the bump) and we were off!

The first mile was quicker than my 5:18 goal, and I was feeling a little clumsy at points, like I wasn’t going to be able to hold it together, then I settled in around 5:20 for the next two.

Three GBTC guys came by me in mile 4 and I picked it up to try to hang with them, once I was racing the co-ordination issues sort of just went away.

I could see Brandon N. and Scott Leslie most of the way, so that was a good sign.

Mile 5 I was right back at goal pace and hoping I could hang on, and the new finish was definitely fast - I was able to close hard for a 32:41 gun time, 32:38.6 net.

I was first master, 30th overall and very pleased with the outcome here!

The next week called for 20 more! Which came on Tuesday, just two days after the 10k.

I ran fairly evenly with a 66-minute first 10 miles and a 64-minute second ten.

It was cool and rainy (and beautiful) again.

Even though I had maxed out at 80 mpw, I went into full-on taper mode here.

Most notably, I did 18 the next Tuesday which included 3 x 2-mile tempo. I was able to stay under 5:30 for the first two, but the last one was a struggle at 11:25. It was hot and I think that was a factor.

That Sunday I did 15 one week out.

I drove up to pick up my number on Saturday and was in and out of the hotel fairly quickly.

I had been tracking the weather and it looked like the start was going to be cold and wet, but when race day dawned it was a little warmer than forecast and not raining much at all. I was in my car at 6:10 am parked on the street near the finish and my car thermometer said it was 48 degrees.

I jogged back and forth between my car and the Tsongas Center a couple times to use the bathroom, kill time and say hi to a few people.

Scott Leslie hit me up with a much-appreciated non-caffeinated GU that I hung onto for a short warmup with Greg Englehart and Dan von Staats (two former Cape Ann League runners from my coaching days a decade ago).

I had long sleeves on under my CMS singlet right up until the start and just ditched it by the starting line a few minutes before they got us going.

Early on, I felt like the crowd was very thin where I was running ~6:00/mi. Dan Vassallo came by in the first mile and asked how I was doing and I told him as much.

Greg, Jon Chesto and I found each other in the first couple miles and stayed together till just about 20. Most of the miles were between 5:55 and 6:05, and Joe Shairs on his bike kept us aware of the group behind us that was a little bigger than ours and not far back. I was tempted to try to run harder a few times, but it seemed like me knee would misfire if I tried too hard, so that was probably a blessing in disguise, because it kept me in check.

My dad was at 3, 12 and 22 and Heather was at 7 and 17. Both had snacks and encouragement on a chilly day that wasn’t spectator-friendly, albeit quite good running weather.

Co-ordination issues crept up early (around 2 miles), subsided, came back around 7, went away again, came back at 11, and never reared their head significantly after that. Of course, when I hit the wall at 20, I was going slow enough that my legs were fine.

Somebody had drawn a wall on the road at mile 20 which I scoffed at the first time by (around 10 miles) and decided I would ignore when I came by it again. I had fallen off of Greg and Jon a little at 18 and worked to close the gap, coinciding with Scott Leslie’s plea as he went by me.

At 20, I was more or less even with them, but it didn’t last long.

The 6:00 miles that had seemed comfortable for so long turned into 6:20’s all of a sudden. I got passed by a handful of stronger and/or smarter runners from the pack behind us between 20 and 23, and I was just hanging on.

I was waiting for the wheels to come fully off, but I managed to reverse the trend a bit the last few miles as the finish line got closer.

Garmin splits had my slowest mile a 6:25 22nd. Fastest was 5:43 for the 12th.

I dipped back under 6:00/mi. pace for the last quarter-mile or so and just barely crossed before the clock changed to 2:38:00.

I was 13th overall and 2nd master (but first 40-44). Jon Chesto, who I had run with for the first 20 miles is 47 and finished 42 seconds ahead of me.

2:37:59.4 was my guntime and 2:37:57.5 my nettime.

In my foil blanket, I found Heather and my dad, changed into warm clothes while successfully avoiding cramping, and had some amazing Starbucks hot chocolate.

I caught up with CMS teammates Hankens and Principe, as well as CAL alums Englehart and von Staats who all ran PR’s for the distance!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Bradford Valentine Race Report

(and rest of the week recap)

Saturday was the 27th Annual running of the Bradford Valentine Race in nearby Haverhill, MA. Road races are at a premium at this time of year, so Heather and I registered last week and enlisted my mom's help with the kids so we could run it together for the first time since 2008. There is a 5-Mile and a 6k and male/female team opportunities in a variety of categories, including husband/wife.

Here's a condensed history of our experience at the race through the years:

Heather (6k all four times):
2008 - 27:00 (pushing Ben in stroller)
2007 - 25:13
2006 - 26:47
2005 - 25:44

Me (5M six times):
2008 - 28:05
2007 - 26:21
2006 - 27:23
2005 - 27:43
2001 - 29:10
2000 - 29:33

We won the husband/wife team competition in '05 and '07.

I had pre-race goals of 28:00 ("C") / 27:30 ("B") / and 27:00 ("A").

I was reasonably confident in my ability to break 28, based on recent splits at longer distance races, and felt ok about my chances at 27:30. It's not a fast course, with some good hills and quite a few turns, but my biggest concern was that the roads wouldn't be clear and that would prevent the race from being fast at all. Cold and wind are always possible in early/mid-February, but we got a gem of a mid-winter day in that respect, with temps in the low 40's at the start and insignificant winds.

Heather and I warmed up on the last mile of the course and the roads looked pretty runnable. We had driven in on the first almost-two miles and those looked fine, so I knew if there was any unsure footing, it would be on the middle "neighborhood" miles. We met up briefly with Alex Vlahos, one of my former Ipswich runners, who was running the five-mile and his teammate Hannah, who was in the 6k. Also saw Pat Fullerton at the starting line, who said that there was one hill around 3.5 miles that might be a little snowy.

I tucked into the second row on the starting line and after a brief announcement or two, we were off!

It felt great to be racing, and I quickly found myself in third, as Pat Fullerton (CMS) sped off to an early lead with Jon Lindenauer in tow. I tried to keep Lindenauer within striking distance as we made our way up the long straight climb the first mile and a half. I knew there was a pack of guys all capable of running well under 6:00-pace including Sam Fazioli (Whirlaway), Dan Chruniak (Wicked), Tim Catoggio and Alex. Before the mile, the 6k runners turned to the right and I wondered if any of those guys had chosen the shorter option.

I checked my watch when I realized I must have missed the mile mark (or, as it turned out, there wasn't one) and the Garmin said "5:58" and "1.13 miles". That seemed pretty hot to me, considering we were climbing, but I felt pretty good and tried to roll with it. At the top of the hill, I had closed to just a few meters behind Lindenauer and I could hear footsteps (I thought more than one pair) behind me, coming on strong. As we rounded the first right turn onto the road by Bradford Ski Area, Sam went by me and pulled alongside Jon.

At this point I wondered if Sam would pull away, and secretly hoped he would, which I thought might help me get by Jon. Instead, the two of them ended up running side-by-side and pushing each other the rest of the way. I was only a second back at two miles (by watch, again no marker), but in miles three and four they put 15-20 seconds on me. I was pleased that the roads were well-salted and free of any ice and snow except in a couple small instances.

A little after three miles we rejoined the 6k runners, which made it a little harder to maintain contact with Sam and Jon, but I was really just doing my best to stay as close to 5:30's as I could and see which of my time goals I could hit. It would have been nice to work with them a little more closely, but I benefited from their speed either way.

The hill by the golf course at 3.5 that Pat F. had warned about came and went without incident. I know from my Garmin splits that I was basically running 5:40-pace for miles 3 and 4, which was slower than I would have liked, but I honestly thought beforehand that these miles could be close to 6:00 if the roads were bad, so I will take it.

By mile four, I was back on the road that Heather and I had warmed up on, so I knew how far we had to go and what the roads were like and I was able to pick up the pace a little. The last quarter-mile is a nice downhill and I was able to take advantage of that and close pretty hard. I still wound up 20 seconds in back of third, but I was happy with an official time of 27:13, my fastest 5-mile since I turned 40. Full results here.

Heather was there, cheering me in, and as I turned back to get her race report, I could tell she was excited with her 24:05. We cooled down together over the full 5-mile course, Heather wanted to get some more miles in and make the day into a long day of prep for the Hampton Half next month. We got back just in time for awards and wound up winning the husband/wife category (after a ten-year hiatus from the race - glad the Mahoneys and Vassallo's weren't there, or it wouldn't have happened). Heather was third woman overall and I was first Master.

Today I did almost eight easy in the cold February rain.

65 for the week for the fourth 60+ week in a row.