Monday, October 25, 2010

Training Week 10/17 - 10/26 & Wolfe's Neck Trek 5k Race Report

Two stones with one bird...

Onto the numbers...

10/17, Sunday: 4.25 - ~30:00, MDI Marathon Course. After cheering for Jamie at a couple locations along the course, D dropped me off at mile 22. She took off, so Samantha could get a nap, and I ran along the course. This strategy gave me the opportunity to squeeze an easy run in, cheer for random fast marathon types and wait for Jamie at mile 24.5, a.k.a the middle of the final big hill on the course. Yelled my brains out as he went by and trailed him to the finish. He rocked it and got his BQ!

10/18, Monday: 4.25 - 40:25, Acadia Carriage Roads, Witch Hole Pond Loop. D needed to get in a long run, and what better place than Acadia's carriage roads? We bundled Samantha up, and I pushed her in the B.O.B. for the beginning of D's run. Since I was pushing the stroller, we took it very easy. D went on her way, I drove Samantha around for a nap, then we met her at the end of the run. Off to Two Cats for second breakfast!

10/19, Tuesday: 9 - 1:20:33, Cathance River Trails. Perfect weather. Broad spectrum of leaves on the trees and on the trails. Autumn in Maine is unbeatable. Aside from getting pretty hungry by the end, this was an awesome run.

10/20, Wednesday: 5 - 45:28, Homeplace. My timing was bad again today, so I was pretty hungry by the end once again. Body felt fine, though.

10/21, Thursday: 6.25 - 58:49, Granite State Snowshoe Championships course at Great Glen Trails. The weather was pretty gruesome: low 40's, windy and misty. Plus, it was getting dark. I think my mood was directly affected by the weather as it really took me a while to get into a groove. However, by the time I reached the big climb on the Aqueduct Loop, I was feeling good. This trail just has some kind of good energy. I zipped down the long downhill and was even a bit speedy on the singletrack despite the darkness.

10/22, Friday - Off

10/23, Saturday: Wolfe's Neck Trek 5k

Last year
, I ran this race about a month after Samantha was born with a "let's just see where I am" attitude. In many ways, my attitude was the same this year. Sort of. Last year, I was tentative. This year, I was confident. Well, as confident as you can be when you've done ZERO speed work and haven't done any "real" training since training for a 50k. So, yeah, why wouldn't I do well?

D had to work, so originally, Valerie was going to come to the race and watch Samantha while I ran. Unfortunately, Samantha woke up with the fountain of snot in full effect, so we didn't think it was a good idea to have her out in the cold. D offered to take her to work for the morning, which was awesome. Valerie came to the race anyway to cheer for me, which was also awesome. Well, I'd better be awesome, too. Pressure was on.

Looking around at the field, I saw two kids pull up in a car with a Bowdoin sticker, and they looked young and lean. Hated them immediately. I also spotted a guy I know who is from Gorham, NH, Curtis. He runs the series at Great Glen Trails, and I knew he was faster than me. I assumed there would also be a few other speedy folks. All that being said, I still felt confident. I took my spot on the line and took it out hard. Well, hard for me. One of the Bowdoin kids came right up next to me, and after 100 yards pulled ahead and away. That was really the last I'd see of him. Then at about 400 meters, Curtis came up alongside and moved on by. I shadowed him for a bit, but he was also soon gone. I kept waiting to hear more footsteps, but I never did. It was a time trial for the rest of the race.

The two-lap course is really fun, but it's also definitely longer than 5k. They shortened it a touch from last year, but it's at least 3.25, maybe longer. It's primarily gravel roads with a few sharp corners through a campground, plus one trail section that consists of some very steep, but very short, rooty hills and three wooden bridges. The trail section is probably 200 yards per lap, but it really slows things down. Oh, and it adds to the fun. No real hills to speak of, but with the wind on Saturday it felt like you were running uphill in a couple places, especially on the "main" road that makes up the end of the first lap and the finishing stretch. Chatting with a couple folks post-race, we all had the same thought: when the wind was in our face, we were running into it, but we were sheltered when it was at our backs. We should have lobbied to run it in the opposite direction.

I'd done a slightly longer warmup then I would usually do to ensure that everything was loose, and this was a good decision. Just about the time that Curtis went by me, I thought to myself, "I'm running as fast as I possibly can." It was apparent that my top speed is not actually speed at all. So, there I was alone and trying to run all out for another almost 3 miles. I would have liked a little company, but I got a look back at fourth place shortly into the second lap, and I saw a comfortable cushion. Although near the end of the race, I used that large cushion as motivation because getting run down would have been really pathetic.

So, I pushed it as hard as I could. My only strategy for the race was to never back off. With no speed work coming in, it was really a more a test of suffering. I held it together pretty well. My back cramped along with something in my right shoulder. Every time they twinged, I thought, "Dude, it's a 5k. It's almost over." I started feeling like that and thinking that about 5 minutes into the race.

Crossed the line in 20:53, which was a little slower than I had hoped for, but 1:56 faster than last year. I was third overall and first in my age group. Actually I was my age group.

(Awesome typo in my last name. I'm FATT!!!!)

7.5 total. 5k+: 20:53, third place overall. 2.75 warm up / 1.5 cool down.

Miles: 36.25
Trail: 27.75
Road: 8.5

Very solid, non-serious training week. Onward.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Training Week 10/10 - 10/16

And, we're back...

I haven't written a training post in a few weeks because, well, I haven't really been training. I took the extra/third week to ensure I was fully recovered from Pisgah, and it was the right choice. Plus, I was really recovering from two races: Pisgah and the Bruiser, so that third easy week was just what I needed. I don't feel as if I put enough mileage in the bank prior to the 50k to recover quickly, so it was nice to have the luxury to just cruise for another week. Nothing spectacular, impressive or fast in my training this week, just easy mileage, but I'm just in a rebuilding phase right now.

Onto the numbers...
10/10, Sunday: 5 - 45:42, Brunswick Town Commons w/ D. My parents and grandparents, who were in town for Samantha's birthday party, offered to watch the kiddo while D and I snuck out for a run. Sweet! The weather was nice, and we enjoyed an easy cruise from Bowdoin through the Commons. It felt very appropriate on our 11-year wedding anniversary.

10/11, Monday: 5.5 - 49:24, Pennelville Roads w/ D. 2 barefoot laps around Pennelville soccer field. D had a long run on tap, and we once again had grandparents to babysit! This time it was D's parents, so I was able to join her. I opted to tagalong for the middle miles of her 12-mile run, so I could test out my new road shoes, which felt great. I may have been guilty of pushing D on a slightly faster pace than she needed, but we were having fun, enjoying the scenery and chatting away. The views of the ocean at Simpsons Point, combined with the foliage, were spectacular. Maine rules. The only negative of the run was the wind. As we neared the water it really picked up, so I offered to act as a windbreak for D. I didn't want her to waste any energy. I felt great and really wanted to run longer, but I didn't want to push it in the new shoes, which have less support than "recommended" for my particular gait. So, instead, I tried running barefoot for the first time ever. Yeah, I know, makes zero sense. I did two very easy laps around a soccer field and really enjoyed it. I'm hoping to incorporate a couple easy barefoot/minimal stints each week to build a little strength.

10/12, Tuesday: 5.5 - 48:40, TMR TNR at Twin Brook. A rare TNR appearance for me. In the morning, my ankles felt a touch sore after my barefoot session the previous day, but all was fine by the time I hit the trails in the evening. We had a large group, and I didn't know everyone. But, it was great to get out with the crew, and the sprint lines are a fun addition that I should incorporate into some of my solo runs. Of course, the TNR starts at 6:00, so it was dark about halfway through the run. It was at this point that I realized the batteries in my headlamp were toast. Oops. I just mooched off Jeff's light the rest of the way. This was only an issue during the sprint lines when he attempted to shake his "No Wheels" moniker. Plus, I had to stay behind him, so I could use the light...yeah, that's it.

10/13, Wednesday: 5 - 42:41, Homeplace Loop. Felt a bit sluggish, but the time was pretty quick for me on this loop.

10/14, Thursday: 5 - 43:41, Random loop at Great Glen Trails w/ Eli. Very rare occasion in which my training meshed with Eli's, but it was cool to go for an easy run with him. My right Achilles felt a bit tight, which I'm attributing to the barefoot session and the sprint lines.

10/15, Friday: Off

10/16, Saturday: 8 - 1:01:45, MDI, Carriage Roads from Jordan Pond to Bubble Pond, return to Jordan Pond on the Park Loop Road. D and I headed to MDI on Saturday morning to watch the MDI marathon on if we needed an excuse. My route was completely ill-conceived, but it turned out fine. I took about 4 seconds to scan the map and figured that a loop on the Carriage Roads would be 5 or 6. Well, it was considerably longer, which became clear at what I thought was the one third point, when the Garmin read "4.38 miles." Oops. I opted to take the shorter route back on the Park Loop Road. Running on the Carriage Roads in Acadia is the best thing in the world. Unbeatable. That's all I kept thinking, even though it was cold, rainy and windy. They really are perfect, even in gross weather. Running on the Park Loop Road...not so much. The road is fine, but the shoulder is nonexistent. Not so much fun. Because of the Jekyll & Hyde nature of this run, it turned into a bit of a progression run. I was easily zipping along having fun on the Carriage Roads but just wanted to get it done once I hit the road. The pace was quicker than I normally like for an easy run, but I just went with it. While I was running, D was driving around the island making sure Samantha got a nap (we couldn't check into our room yet), and, unfortunately, she hadn't returned by the time I returned to Jordan Pond. I didn't want to stand in the rain, already soaked, not knowing when she would arrive, so I tacked on another mile. No big deal as I felt good, and she arrived soon after I finished. My Achilles was a little tight at the outset, but never really an issue.

Miles: 34
Trail: 20.5
Road: 13.5

I'm considering that a good "first week" of training, when I'm not training for anything specific and just looking to easily build my mileage back up. I'm playing the next few weeks by ear, just going on good runs and mixing it up. The real focus is just fun. Looking forward to it. Real training begins...well...I'll let you know.

Shout Outs!
Shout Out Number One goes to Jeff for his awesome marathon debut at the Maine Marathon: 3:00:36. The most impressive feat of the day was changing his own shoes and socks post-race. I like to support my friends, but not that much.

Shout Out Number Two goes to Jamie for reaching his goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon at the Mount Desert Island Marathon this weekend: 3:14:33. For those of you that don't know, MDI is probably the toughest road marathon course east of the Mississippi. It's crazy hilly. Now, he'll finally shut up about needing to BQ at MDI...blah, blah, blah, blah, blah...

Both races were a blast to watch, and I was glad to be a smart part of both of their successes. I've already told them both that I'm not driving around Boston, however. They're on their own.


Saturday, October 2, 2010

More Pisgah Thoughts & Recovery

Despite my Tolstoy-esque race report, I do indeed have more thoughts about my Pisgah experience.

First of all, I'm a bit embarrassed I forgot to mention the race directors. They put on a great show. Everything about the race runs very smoothly and efficiently in a relaxed, low-key atmosphere. Perfect. The trails were very well marked, and I never went more than a minute or so without seeing a marker. The aid stations were placed perfectly, and the volunteers were terrific. The post-race barbecue, included in the very modest race fee, was also great. Just a well-run event all around. I highly recommend it, and I can't wait until next year.

My only complaint was the delay in posting the results. They didn't go up until Thursday following the race. I can see Monday or Tuesday, but Thursday is just too long.

Even with time to think about it, I'm still very pleased with my race, but, of course, I've already thought of ways I can go faster. The first that sticks out in my mind is my aid station urgency. One of the biggest mistakes I made in my first 50k was blowing through most of the aid stations. In this race, I did exactly the opposite. I took my time at each aid station. In fact, I took too much time. Conservatively, I estimate that I "wasted" 5 minutes in the aid stations. I didn't have that "get in, get out" mentality. I know that I can be quicker without sacrificing getting what I need. Again, I still have a lot to learn about ultras, but this is definitely an area I can improve upon.

Two weeks later, I'm still in recovery mode. Admittedly, I'm not feeling as good as I would like. The good news is that with no races on the immediate horizon, I don't have plans for any serious training until the beginning of November. I'm certainly not feeling bad, but I'm just not feeling fully recovered. I'm a touch tired and my legs have felt a bit sluggish on my runs. No spring in the step. I'd hoped to feel fine after these two weeks, but that's just not the case. Another very easy week is in order.

With that in mind, I'm not totally surprised. I need to keep reminding myself that I'm actually recovering from two races: Pisgah and the Bruiser, which was just a week prior. That's a pretty tough stretch for me. Additionally, I didn't really have the mileage base to bounce right back. My longest run in my training cycle for Pisgah was 17 miles, and I only had one week at 50 miles. That's not a lot. On top of all that, I also had a bit of a cold last week. Not a great recipe for recovery.

You know what does help recovery? The Church.