Monday, April 24, 2017

Week 16 - 4/17/17 - 4/23/17

Mon. (4/17):
Image result for sheriff buford t justice7mi.  - (1:02:11) - easy wandering around Yawgoog Pond and Boy Scout Camp.  I circled the pond counter-clockwise for the first time ever, which entailed running directly through camp cabins and lodges.  Kind of eerie with nobody around -- Crystal Lake & Jason Vorhees, anyone? On the downside, either allergies or cold symptoms (very sore throat, tired, headache, congestion).  Hope it passes for in the words of Sheriff Buford T. Justice, "We ain't got time for that shit!"

Tue. (4/18):
10mi. - (1:08:31) - nice weather and I was feeling pretty good so I rolled a slightly aggressive one.  Not  a workout but I was able to settle in.  Unfortunately, the PM came calling around mile 6 and a precarious battle ensued.  I just barely beat him home.

Wed. (4/19):
7mi. (1:00:31) - feeling a bit under the weather again (congested, headache, blah).  Opted for slow(ish) plod through trails in North Burlingame off of Kings Factory Road.  I enjoyed the woods time but felt less and less pleasant as the run went on.  Pretty beat up and tired (in a non-running way) by the time I got back to the truck.

Thu. (4/20):
6mi. - (44:08) - felt terrible.  Really struggled to maintain standard, base pace on this one.  Got back home and collapsed on the front lawn.  Felt shitty for the rest of the day.  Took a nap and still felt like crap.  Weird.

Fri. (4/21):
0 mi.  - took the day off to try and recover.  Still feeling strangely fatigued and coughing, snotty, achey.  Yuck.

Sat. (4/22):
10+mi. - (1:25:00) - super fun single track with Gazelle in/around Bluff Point and Haley Farm.  I am embarrassed by how much of the trail section(s) I have never been on.  Good stuff.  Feeling tired but turning the corner/feeling a bit better. Later in the day, made a short secret connector trail (at least roughed out) from Pony Express North to Laurel Trail with Jonny our collective spawn.  Hope it develops into another option.

Sun. (4/23):
9mi.  - (1:21:45) - slow and easy Sunday morning meander with Jonny, back in Carolina again.  Weather was super nice and I finally feel pretty much back to normal again.

Total: 50 miles
YTD: 973 miles

Despite being on April Break from school, I didn't quite get what I wanted/had anticipated.  The goal is back to base of 50-60 per week but it was still a sort of discombobulated, claw-your-way-back week of outings.  Yard work, boat work, and fun in the garden certainly distracted me from running. Hoping next week gets more on track and routine.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Week 15 - 4/10/17 - 4/16/17

Mon. (4/10):
0 - rest and recovery with stretching and rolling things all over my various things.  Thought about running but I was pretty hobbled in the morning.  After vitamin I and stretching I felt better in the afternoon but not well enough to run.

Tue. (4/11):
3mi.  (24:55) - very easy road with short trail section.  Legs clearly beat up but not as bad as I thought. I did develop stiff knee pain on the outside of left knee (pretty sure it is from IT band).  This was the knee that started barking from mile 22 onward during the race.  Should take care of itself over time (afternoon stretch and rolling helped). Sunny and 70 freakin' degrees.

Wed. (4/12):
3mi. - (26:02) - another short excursion, this time from a friend's house in Bradford into Woody Hill trails.  Hansel and Gretel again, this time in the correct direction (mountain bikers are bypassing the over-the-boulder spot).  Legs a tiny bit better.  Several hours of acoustic and electric guitar after the short run. Minor lateral knee discomfort at the very end.

Thu. (4/13):
7+mi. - (1:05:54) - Grills Sanctuary.  7.5 miles on watch. I also crossed over Polly Coon Bridge into Grills Preserve and inspected the trails where they have logged/are logging.  The Yellow Trail down along the river along with the Red Trail up to Big Hill are closed and are an absolute mess! I truly don't understand the clearing.  The climb up from the river on what was once a nice, secluded single track is now wide open and completely exposed.  Not sure what they are going for here but it is depressing.  They've left everything as is too, like they just up and walked away.  Timber in a tangled mess with trees everywhere.  Rumor has it they're renaming this section Bashar al-Assad Trail.

Fri. (4/14):
5mi. - (35:05) - felt fantastic for a short Tomaquag Valley road loop.  Everything was working fine and the weather was unreal for this awesome, school-free Hang 'Em High Day.  Glad my legs are coming back to life.  No knee stuff at all. Spent hours and hours out in the garden playing in the dirt and feeding invertebrates to the poultry.  Batteries recharged!

Sat. (4/15):
6+mi. - (47:19) - Kenyon Cross Roads loop.  6.3 miles total on the watch. Felt good.

Sun. (4/16):
0 - stupid religious holiday ruined it....but damn it sure was beautiful out.  I refused to come inside and eat so the entire family had to come outside and eat in lawn chairs.  White Trash.

Total: 25 miles
YTD: 923 miles

Recovered I suppose.  Now need to work on rebuilding ambition and excitement for running. Tough to do with no goals.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Fighting Seabees Marathon 2017

In my usual way of going about things, I had a hindsight revelation.  At the end of last year, it occurred to me that although I was skipping Boston in 2017, I would still have to run a spring marathon to qualify for and race the BAA event next year.  The emphasis was placed upon spring of this year because I hate running when it is hot and refuse to run 26.2 miles in the summer.  Also, 2018 seems like a good year to run Boston (for the third time) because I'll be 40 years old.

With these realizations in place, I set out to pick an "easy", fairly close, cheap BQ marathon.  Several came up that fit these parameters but none quite fit all of them like Fighting Seabees Marathon in and around Quonset, RI. In it's third year, the race was small (100 people!), close by (35 minute drive), cheap ($50), and flat (only about 300' elevation gain total, according to race organizers).  Great....I'm in.
Fighting Seabees 2017 Course -- many loops, turnarounds, and out & backs.

Before I give a quick recap of the race, it is important to note that I don't like racing marathons. I LOVE training for them as the potential is there for one to get really fit if they go about it correctly.  Why the emphasis on the word 'racing'? Well, anybody can jog or walk a marathon and not pass away, but to run/race it with gusto, you have to suffer every time.  Friederich Nietzsche nailed it with "To live is to suffer, to survive is to find meaning in the suffering".  Yeah, marathons suck.

Anyway, I trained fairly consistently this winter in preparation for the race but I have to be honest-- I didn't really train with quite the same ferocity as I had the previous two winters for Boston.  The drive wasn't fully there and I knew it too.  To be sure, I did work hard but not quite the volume, focus, and dedication that a trip down Unicorn Lane requires.  With that being said, I ran 70 miles per week fairly consistently and tried to be smart about easy days and hard, extended work outs.  The typical Jack Daniels, PhD plan was somewhat followed but I cherry-picked the fruit I wanted and bypassed the toxic, really hard stuff I didn't want.

Unfortunately, the day before the race (Saturday 4/8/17), found me feeling really shitty.  I was super tired (two naps) and suffered severe diarrhea (sorry).  All. Day. Long.  I could feel myself battling dehydration, headaches, and malaise.  I wasn't full on stomach virus sick like over the winter but things were not right.  My wife was more concerned about it than I was and even offered up bailing on the race and finding another qualifier somewhere else over the next month.  I declined.  Althoug I was worried about dehydration, I told myself that if I became dangerously dried up and dizzy on race day, I'd simply walk off the course.  This wasn't was simply a means to an end.

On race morning I awoke and felt tired but okay.  I drove over really early, (3rd arrival at bib pickup), and hung around, drinking water and watching the clock tick.  Weather seemed almost perfect -- clear skies, 42 degrees at the start and climbing into high 50s/low 60s by the time I would be wrapping up.  There was a bit of a breeze but nothing like the wind we experienced the day before.  I bumped into Mike B. and a few other people I knew.  He suggested I could win the race but I saw Pat Moulton prowling around the parking lot and knew, thankfully, that leading and winning was out the window.  Perfect! That is what I wanted.

After brief pre-race introductions, we were sent off (full and half-marathoners at the same time) with little fan fare into the strange, open, post-apocalyptic waste land of Quonset.  The place is eerily laid out so that it seems like you shouldn't even be there at all, never mind running a race.  I hoped that the middle miles of the race (out in East Greenwich) would be more pleasurable.

At the start, several people went out in high 5:00 pace and I assumed (correctly) that they were half marathoners and would slow down and fade.  The two groups of runners would stay together on the same course until just after mile 7 where they would split off.  I settled into my own little world and quickly found myself in about 6th place, unsure of who was running the half and who was suffering to the fullest. It's quickest and probably best to chunk the report, with highlights and low lights, in 5 mile intervals, so here it goes:

Miles 1-5
Not too much to report here.  I focused on running mid 6:20s but at the same time letting my mind wander too.  The mental strain of focusing is a bitch, especially when running marathons.  As we wound through Quonset and began departing the creepy, depressing area, we hooked around the airport and down to our first real view of the water.  I was completely separated from everyone in 5th place by this point, (Pat and Katie Moulton ahead of me by at least 45-60 seconds).  The only real highlight here was a wildlife sighting -- a Rough Legged Hawk. Did I mention that marathons, especially empty, virtually spectator-less ones are pretty unexciting and boring for the most part?   

Image result for rough legged hawk
Birding to pass the time......
Miles 6-10
I started to feel a bit uncomfortable and "dry" here.  That got me thinking.  And when I think, sometimes I worry.  Was I already feeling the effects of the previous 24 hours of  D & D (dehydration and ...well, you know)? You're supposed to feel fast, smooth, and perfect at this point during the marathon and I was already wanting liquid.  I took a drink at every single aid station without missing one (they were at every 2 miles) in an attempt to fend off physical awfulness and drying up in the sun. 

This stretch led us along Allen Harbor (what a great place to keep a boat for oceanic adventuring and pirating!) and along the bike path to Calf Pasture Point.  Still all alone I was left to my devices and mental fortitude.  I tried not to focus on discomfort, which was there but mild at this point, and instead distracted myself with other thoughts.  It was nice to be out of Industrial Wasteland and into neighborhoods with homes and side streets. Slow and steady pace "wins" the race...or at least prevents marathon death. 

Miles 11-15
Here we descended a bit, down across Potowomut River  and passed a mile marker sign facing the other way.  I knew that the course went out and back here but I forgot how far.  Mentally I guessed that the sign was the mile 14 marker for the way back.  I literally cringed as I passed it and looked back to see "Mile 18".  Ugh...guess we are on the "out" portion for longer than I thought.  As we crossed out onto a busier main road (Ives Rd.), traffic picked up.  My attitude also descended a bit here knowing that there would be a slew of cars and I was still all alone.  Luckily, my wife and spawn made a surprise appearance in the family van.  I didn't think they were coming.  Horn honking and semi-enthusiastic cheering actually helped a bit.  However, I was starting to feel some more discomfort (only at the half way mark!?!?) and my worry grew a bit. How dehydrated was I yesterday? Goddard Park and Potowomut Golf Course were mild, scenic distractions but anything helps. 

Miles 16 - 20
It was at this point I was finally getting some action and excitement.  The runner that was in 3rd place, and had previously had a sizable lead, was quickly coming back to me.  I got a bit excited when I saw him, three separate times, glancing back over his shoulder.  Yes, I'm coming for you. I giddily picked it up a bit (mile 16 into 17) and passed him at a water station.  I love when people slow down at these. I always speed up and try to gain an advantage.  It definitely helped to have some competitive aspect to the race here as running with/against people is so much more interesting and fun. However, after turning back off of Ives Road, and finding myself "alone" again (passing a lot of runners still going out at least), I sank back into the dark mental cloud.  The discomfort was becoming a real thing now (downhill mile 19) and I knew I was fast approaching the desolate Quonset area again.  Ugh.  Temperature and sweat were also becoming an issue.  My face and skin were hot and crusty with the start of a sunburn and drying salt.  

Miles 21-25

And now the real fun begins.  During mile 20, and another jump onto a brief section of bike path, the family again drove by in the van.  The struggle was real at this point and I grumbled something about "hating them right now".  Later my wife would inform me that they were concerned and worried that they had messed up my race somehow.  Nope -- I was just starting to hate everyone now.  This is so normal for me, and probably many marathoners.  Anyone can run 20-21 miles. It's the final 4-6 that really break your balls. 

My left knee was starting to hurt here and it definitely affected my form. I'm sure I became a bit more "saggy" and slap happy with my feet. This in turn compounded the pain in the knee -- a beautiful, positive feedback effect.  I tried not to focus on it but as we entered back into Quonset I was really starting to hurt.  I was all alone, save for the water stop people.  I appreciated their water offerings but could've done without the "You're almost there!" comments.  No I'm not! I'm almost near death.  

Mile 26 - finish
I had absolutely nothing left at this point.  I usually never do.  The knee was barking.  The quads hurt. I was overheating and vision was an ordeal (sweat encrusted eyes). Just want to be finished.  I came very, very close to walking.  I did some complicated running math and figured that I could walk the last mile and still get a qualifying time. However, I also realized that walking would just leave me out on the open, sun-baked industrial avenue for even longer.  Keep running, cupcake. My pace was dropping quite a bit here but I didn't care.  

Unfortunately, in one final cruel trick, the course required marathoners to go past the finish line turn off and around a cone to get the final .2 miles in.  Ugh.  I did it and actually laughed out loud when I saw the sign and realized I had to do it.  At long last, I turned into the parking lot, rounded yet more cones and crossed the finish line in 2:50:25. (results here). I was third overall and I didn't die. 

The family greeted me and after laughing at my appearance, they left and I didn't stick around either.  I drank a bunch of water, tried to eat but couldn't, and changed my clothes (parking lot nekkidness is awesome).  Driving home the six-speed truck was another enjoyable experience as my left quad and knee (clutch side) were not user-friendly.

At least it is over.  Now I can relax and enjoy spring and early summer running, hopefully on trails for the most part. I have no real, major events on the horizon so nothing left to do but heal and smile, smile, smile. 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Week 14 - 4/3/17 - 4/9/17

Mon. (4/3):
5mi.+ - (44:04) - easy trails from Bradford while M was at lax practice.  Enjoyed running in the woods, even the Hansel & Gretel portion. 5.2 miles total on the watch.

Tue. (4/4):
4mi.  - (29:45) - shorty on local roads. Felt good. Had to keep putting on the brakes to keep myself from opening things up.  The highlight of the run: seeing two hawks (unknown tailed?)  mating.  Loud and fast.

Wed. (4/5):
7mi.  - (47:08) - final uncomfortable session -- 3 x 1T with 1:00 jogging recoveries.  Felt ok. As always, (week before marathon), I felt clunky and as though I was having to work too hard to stay on pace. Normal.

Thu. (4/6):
0mi.  - just took the day off because rainy and because....because.

Fri. (4/7):
3mi. - (22:36) - really short mix of local roads and Pelloni Preserve trails.

Sat. (4/8):
2mi. - (15:28) - intended to do 3-4 for my final shakeout before the race.  Got distracted/stopped by neighbor up the street from me.  We chatted for 15:00 about chimneys, taxes, swamps, and traffic.  I just stopped after the conversation instead of continuing on.  Usually I never run less than 20:00 on any short run. Whatever.

Sun. (4/9):
27mi. - Fighting Seabees Marathon (results here)  It was neither fun nor pretty but I stayed relatively consistent until the final, very ugly, 3-4 miles.  I was 3rd OA (very small marathon with only 100 runners) in 2:50:25.  It served its purpose in getting me into Boston for next year.  I'll try and write a short recap asap.

TOTAL: 48 mi.
YTD: 898 miles

Well, the marathon is finally behind me.  Now I can relax and enjoy the spring and running more on trails than I do on roads (hopefully).  Hoping to recover this week, (I'm obviously rather banged up now and have some outer knee/IT band issues) and then get back to 50-60 miles per week average from here on out?

Monday, April 3, 2017

Week 13 -- 3/27/17 - 4/2/17

Mon. (3/27):
8mi. - (59:13) - and just like a kid waking up on Christmas morning to unwrap gifts, I determined what my hard, trail effort had given me.  It is always fun to wait a day or two and see what gifts I've been left (i.e. sharp pains on lower outside legs, tightness in angles, sore groin, etc.).  This time I was the proud recipient of baseball-sized knots in my hamstrings.  I even stretched a lot on Sunday, and I never do that. Serves me right. They eventually worked themselves out during the run but it was annoying over the first several miles.  At least I know from this lingering "gift" that I ran hard at the race on Saturday.

Tue. (3/28):
3mi. - (25:26) - blah!! 25:00 in the rain on road and local trails to shake out some soreness/tightness.

Wed. (3/29):
10mi.  - (1:05:17) - 2E+1T+2M+1T+2M+2E.  Wow, my hamstrings were tighter than camel's asshole in a sandstorm! As soon as I started the "work" portion I felt the soreness.  And as this "easy" workout progressed they just became more and more tightly wound. Ugh.  Still feeling Saturday's race apparently.  That's too bad.  At least my daughter gave me an elbow massage later in the evening as she painfully ground her elbows into the shortened and tightly-bound hammies. It worked! Or at least she loosened them up and I'm mobile now as I type this.

Thu. (3/30):
5mi. - (37:03) - standard road loop from home.  Hamstrings feeling looser/better

Fri. (3/31):
0 - 3rd zero of the year.  A guy could get used to this!

Sat. (4/1):
9mi. - (1:09:56) - delayed the run a bit to deal with early morning kid things at school.  Ran through mud and puddles/streams in Carolina Management Area.  Super strong NE wind made the first mile or so through the open turf fields less than enjoyable. Once I was in the woods, things were fine.

Sun. (4/2):
10mi. - (1:05:40) - 10 mile loop into North Stonington.  Ran 3E + 6M +1E.  Didn't feel that great but it was warmer and I was going a tiny bit too hard for true MP.  Feeling shitty seven days out from 26.2 is normal for me I suppose.

Total:45 miles
YTD: 850 miles

One week of dawdling left before my less than exciting marathon in Quonset.  Still not sure how I'm going to run it -- take it easy and "barely" qualify for Boston (probably not)  run hard but not kill myself with a respectable finishing time and qualify comfortably (most likely), or run balls to the wall and try to PR (almost definitely not as I don't feel that I'm in that kind of shape).  It really will depend on the weather and the rest of the field (I refuse to run in the front of a small marathon, all alone).