Sunday, August 13, 2017

Bobby Doyle- Weekly Log: August 7 to 13

Last chance to get in a final hard race effort this season, this time at the Bobby Doyle Summer Classic. Shooting for a fast time, hopefully around 26:15.

Monday: 5 Miles.

Light rain on local roads. Felt tired for part of it, then better in the second half and picked it up. Kept it pretty short as Monday is easy day.

Tuesday: 9 Miles

Ninigret workout w/Tom and Dad. 10x1min hard w/1min recoveries around the new bike path. Didn't felt great but bad either. Certainly much better than the previous Tuesday's workout. Forced myself to start hard and then got into them. A bit hard to control the pace, had a few around 5:10 pace, many around 4:50 pace and even some around 4:35 pace. Thighs were heavy. Was dead afterwards and it was a unpleasant surprise to go for a long cooldown. With the extra miles, skipped a double in the evening. Difficulty: 3/5.

Wednesday: 8 Miles

Fun run. Did the usual longer warm-ups and cool-downs to make 8. Planned 6:10 again but 4 other WTAC runners were going 5:40-5:50 steady pace and I was unable to resist running up front with them. Ran about 5:45 average pace and still didn't crack the top three. Felt strangely exhausted on this- it wasn't difficult but not strong/smooth at all. Knee strangely hurt on cool-down for the first time in a while (and didn't bother the rest of the week).

Thursday: 12 Miles

6 AM with Dad at Burlinggame. This was really early and I didn't get much sleep, so I was not looking forward and felt terrible in the first few miles. Felt better after but never great.

6 PM, track workout. Descending ladder @76-77s lap pace (5:04-5:08 mile): 1600/1200/800/400 w/2:30 recoveries and 90s between the 800 and 400. While the pace, distances and recoveries were much easier than last week's (2xmile, same recovery but 15 seconds faster) it was far from easy. I tend to go out fast but here I went a little slow and it was very difficult to pick it back up. Never felt super weak but legs/breathings was not great and I never felt awesome or smooth. 5:01/3:42/2:25/73. Difficulty: 3/5.

Friday: 7 Miles

Afternoon run in Charlestown exploring area around east and west beach. We ran a bit on the beach and while not high tide, it was soft, sloped and awful. I felt pretty drained most of the run despite a super easy pace and was glad to finish up.

Saturday: 6 Miles

Ran in beavertail around noon. Planned a short, boring road run but wanted to see if there were any trails there. Was surprised how many there were- actually made the majority of the run trails. Interesting grass and dirt easy (XC-like trails most of the way). Felt a bit tight/sore in calves which was annoying.

Sunday: 8 Miles

Bobby Doyle Summer Classic. It was an okay race for me. I was not close to meeting my expectations/goals and did not PR but did not blow up completely and continue to run slower and slower like others. I faded somewhat, but nowhere near last year or similar races. About halfway between great and horrible but doesn't really lean either way. Went out too fast in 5:00, getting sucked out with competition and the downhill and perhaps paid for it with the following uphill miles. Heat and humidity was nowhere near as bad as last year, but still not great and I could feel it draining me throughout the race. 13th overall in 26:52. With better weather and toughness, I probably could taken 30 seconds off.

Weekly Total: 55 Miles
YTD Total: 1,459 Miles

Weekly Log: July 31st to August 6th

If you've been following this blog, you'd know I'm supposed to race a half marathon later this week. After knee problems that seem to be worse when going long and feeling that my fitness was much better towards 5k than half (plus lack of training), I decided to would better to do this thing when I'm actually ready for it, rather than cram it in now without proper excitement or fitness just because I need a PR. Instead, I'll probably run the Bobby Doyle summer Classic on August 13, hoping to take a good chunk of time off my 26:41 PR. Based on my recent 5K effort sub-15:50, 26:20 or faster should be doable. To make it interesting, the course has changed (from about 15 turns to maybe 6) and its not USATF-NE grand prix this year. Really wanted to do Kerri, but don't want to overrace either.

Monday: 7 Miles.

Chariho fun run. Completely exhausted and supposed to be easy recovery but sucked into the fast running others were doing and did a 6:10 pace for their 3-miler.

Tuesday: 11 Miles

7 Miles. Early morning workout in Weekapaug at Hell Field. 4x1000 @10K pace (about 3:15 target, 5:15 pace). While these are much slower than what I do on the track and I've done similar workouts on roads (but longer and faster), this was a big struggle. Not sure whether it was early morning + humid, lack of speed on the slippery hell field or something else entirely. Split: 3:16/3:15/3:20/3:19. Got really heavy and tired in the middle and wasn't able to continue on pace. Dropped out of a possible 5th one. A couple fast 200s/strides at the end. Difficulty: 4/5. Better than nothing, but would prefer faster surfaces from now on.

4 Miles in the evening. Felt really awful and 7:20 pace on flat roads felt like mile race pace. Both weak, out of it and dead inside. Couldn't even make five. Kinda weird, but I guess glad it was a recovery run.

Wednesday: 10 Miles

Was feeling really smooth and decided to go for long warm-ups and cool-downs at the fun run and decided to snag 10 instead of the usual 8. Felt good the whole time, taking the fun run at a comfortable but not slow pace of 6:10 and surprisingly fast warm-ups and cool-downs around 6:40 pace. Happy with these runs with both distance and pace, but don't expect to see this mileage continue.

Thursday: 13 Miles

7 morning at woody hill. A bit tired but overall a nice trail recovery run with both a preview of the Wahaneeta course and an update on pumpkins/XC. Trails are looking great.

6 in the evening at track. These workouts have mostly been somewhat fun but today's was surprisingly very difficult. My speed isn't where it was in the spring but this was much worse than expected. I felt like the splits and/or recovery were much faster than they should have been. I probably would be aiming for 5:10, maybe a little faster on the track but surprised to have 2x4:50 w/2:30 recovery before an 800. The miles were brutal. I definitely felt that if I fueled for a race, I would feel better but these were downright brutal. I was on pace for the most part but it felt like the first mile of a 3K then an all-out mile. 4:51/4:55. Luckily the 800 was pretty slow, target 2:40 and was able to feel okay on that one (but still much worse than 2:40 should feel). 2:34. This was much tougher than expected and hopefully will ease up/into soon. Difficulty: 5/5.

Friday: 7 Miles

Slow watch hill recovery. Felt extremely weak/sluggish despite an easy 7:30 pace. Managed to get through it but wasn't feeling it.

Saturday: 8 Miles

8 Miles early afternoon in Narragansett. Took a moment to run the entire new bobby doyle course which is looking much faster than the old one with significantly less turns before adding a loop from the old one to make 8. Felt strangely pretty tired the whole time but managed a decent pace anyway and felt better than Friday.

Sunday: 7 Miles

Earlier in Charlestown. Felt really good and overall enjoyed it. Some soreness in knee/legs but overall felt much stronger than the previous two days and had no trouble. Watched a little bit of the run 4 kerri action post-run.

Weekly Total: 63 Miles
YTD Total: 1,404 Miles

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Pioneer Ridge Vertical Mile

After racing Loon twice, I felt that my mountain racing fitness had increased significantly, but I was still relatively new to the scene. Pioneer Ridge was a completely new experience. The amount of elevation gain concentrated into just a few miles made for some very steep grades the whole way. It was nothing like loon and probably best left for more experienced mountain runners. In fact, it was easy to overhear that many of the runners had just come off doing mount marathon the previous tuesday. For comparison, Loon climbed 3000ft over 6.6 miles (450ft/mile) with varying grades of steepness which included 3 downhills. Pioneer Ridge climbs 5300ft over 4.5 miles (1180ft/mile, more than double) without any significant breaks in the climbing or grade. If I was certain about one thing, it was that this race was going to hurt.

Pre-race was a bit different. Shuttle over to the trail-head and warm-ups was one short walk of the first quarter mile of the trail. It was steep immediately and there was hardly any room between the start and the trail, so I thought it would be important to get out hard. I was a little concerned about passing on the narrow trail as well. The race had a low-key adventurous vibe to it. Not a ton of organization, but enough food and information. It felt like everyone knew what they were getting into, no one or most were not your typical runner. Some even joked about silly road 5ks were. I was a bit nervous about how tough it might be, but figured I’d still do fine.

We finally took off and I went out pretty hard to get a good spot. I was maybe in 10th entering the trail and while the grade was steep, it felt pretty easy. So easy that I immediately wanted to pass. It only took a quarter mile or so for me to realize that I still had 5000ft of climbing to go so it was fine to hang right there. Still, I was getting really close up on the next guy who eventually pulled to the side and said “Don’t let me slow you down”. That was appreciated, but I was then stuck behind another guy. This guy did not move and I really wanted to get by without having to ask him to pull to the side. Finally the trail widened up and I managed to slip by and open up a small gap. One more guy caught up and passed me, but after that I entered no-man’s land. My legs were feeling totally dead and I couldn’t believe I was just a half mile in (I hit the first kilometer close to my 2-Mile PR). I trudged on through the mile, slowly dropping the pace, killing my legs and losing confidence. First mile was okay. I wasn’t unhappy with how it went, but more concerned that I still had the whole race ahead of me and I was completely feeling it.

Mile 2 was an absolute sufferfest. Not only did the trail remain very steep but it was suddenly super-muddy. I was slowing tremendously, and even walking was exhausting. The mud was just awful. On every uphill with mud I wanted to run but failed as I slipped and only went backwards. This began an extremely frustrating and brutally exhausting cycle of walking (more like crawling) these muddy uphills then resuming running. Others seemed to do much better with this and soon enough I was caught. I was probably passed by 2 before hitting the waterstop with another quickly gaining on me. There were also oddly placed logs across and for each I had to slow down to a crawl to manage my way over them. When people went to pass, I got out of the way and totally lost momentum but had a quick and much-needed break. We finally got above the treeline with unreal scenery, but the misery continued with mud everywhere. I was passed again and was just thinking it wasn’t my race. 

Finally the course veered onto rockier terrain and while the climbs became so steep that it was pretty much a walk from then on, I was so happy to leave the mud behind. On a switchback I could see the next group coming for me and on the back was Dad. I thought for sure he would beat me and was mentally defeated about going out so fast and getting destroyed by everyone now. Getting onto the rockier stuff was more enjoyable but started a sequence of seeing what appeared to be a peak (which suggested either a break in climbing or the finish) but upon reaching that peak there was always another one waiting ahead. Scenery was unbelievable and now I could see everyone ahead but the pattern of thinking I was done but only having one more was getting exhausting and I just wanted the race to end. I was slowly caught by a couple guys but the gap remained between Dad and I. I tried to run the slight flats or small downs upon hitting what looked like a peak but the ascent started immediately after and I did not do so well.

At this point we were so high that fog was everywhere and you couldn’t see thirty meters ahead. It finally levelled off and we started going another direction. We were on a steep ledge next to snow but with enough downhill and less steep terrain I held my own. I hit 4.5 on my watch but the finish was not in sight. I was able to muster up some more strength and avoid being passed again. I actually managed to pass some guy but the climb was once again really steep and he passed me back soon after. On the bright side, suddenly the finish was right there.

1:29:44, 14th OA. Finishing and consuming snow-pumped water was so refreshing. Took a moment to enjoy the scenery before heading back down in a brutal “cool-down” that killed the legs. I was concerned about wiping out on the muddy sections and on one turn I slipped, going off the trail and into a nearby bush.

Very impressed with this race. Glad I did it and while I didn’t run too well I guess it was just good to finish. Easily the hardest race I’ve done and one of the most tiring but worth it for the experience. Officially adding mount marathon to the bucket list. Hopefully I have moved up another level as a mountain runner.

Weekly Log: July 24 to 30

Another great week without any races to worry about...besides a fun run CR attempt if that counts. Unfortunately, also dealing with knee issues that don't seem to slow me down in hard running but don't feel great either and are often uncomfortable.

Monday: 0 Miles. Wanted to beat this knee issue and thought a day off would help. Ended a month long running streak, but I guess it was time for a rest day anyway.

Tuesday: 7 Miles, Stonington Fun Run. Taking Monday off and not doubling Tuesday basically ruined any chance of me keeping mileage over 60, but it seemed worth it to get rid of an injury. Frustratingly enough, it seemed like it was gone until it returned the minute I started running again. Super annoying. Didn't have any extreme pain but was extremely uncomfortable throughout. Felt like my entire stride was off the whole run.

Wednesday: 10 Miles

Did 4 in the AM, easy on the beach at low tide. Wanted an easy shakeout so I wouldn't have to rely on any WU or CD miles at the fun run later. Was only 1.5 hours past low tide but still suffered effects that come with high tide, including awkward slopes, soft sand and deep water running. A few sections that were better, but on the whole not a super enjoyable run. Knee was very uncomfortable throughout, but never had any bad pain. I had been planning on going for the CR that night at the Westerly Fun Run, but considered putting it on hold.

6 in PM. Felt really good, knee didn't feel normal but had the least pain/least discomfort of any run since Friday, so decided to go for it. I was a little concerned about getting out hard, but it ended up being fine. The CR was 16:30 so basically I needed about a 15:54 effort (GPS tends to run about .1 long on the course) to break it. I wanted to go out in 5:00 to get momentum going and put time in the bank while I'm feeling good, stay focused and not let up in mile 2 (hardest mile of the course, only hills) maybe split around 5:15 and try to push through in mile 3 with whatever I had left, maybe a 5:05 split.

I ended up going out really hard. I opened a gap quickly and it only grew and grew more. At about a quarter mile I was just under 4:40 average pace and it slowly ticked down through the mile in 4:56. It felt mostly good and no knee issues but my legs were feeling a little heavy. I kept monitoring the pace and stayed strong mile 2 which was 5:13 (10:09). I was pretty tired at that point and tried not to let up but didn't make a big push until turning onto Maplewood. The wind on Atlantic was especially exhausting and I slowed a little here. Mile 3 was 5:10 (15:19), I hit the 5K in 15:50. The time did not seem right for a 5:05 pace and I was actually concerned I wasn't going to make it. I was able to just get it by hitting a 16:21.

Looking at the performance, I was overall happy with it but the time seemed a little slow for such a hard effort. It turns out I got one of the longest measurements for the course that I have yet in 3.23. Perhaps since I was pushing so much more and much more tired, I was sloppy with the turns and did not run the tangents. Since I had done so much extra, the conversion to 5K was a much faster 15:41 which seems pretty good.  Went for a cooldown on the beach and smashed my already injured knee into a metal chain which killed the cooldown there. Not exactly a victory lap.

Thursday: 12 Miles

7 AM, moonlight loop. I was thinking of doing a fun trail run, maybe in CT but just couldn't get a nice route together that I knew well and I was super tired that night so I slept in really late. It was already 10:30 when I was putting together this run, so I decided just to do 7 from the house. Was surprised to have no knee pain for the first half and just when I felt that the pain was permanently gone, it came back and hurt quite a bit. For the most part, it was just more uncomfortable/awkwardness but in a few spots it really hurt.

5 in the evening, going back to the weekly track workouts. I had some discomfort, but for the most part my knee pain stayed away and I was able to do the work. 8x400 @68s w/90s recovery and a longer 3:00 recovery after 4. Splits: 68/68/68/67/66/68/68/67. Usually I'm not so great at the pacing, but was very consistent on these. Nothing brutal, but was more tired than usual perhaps because its been so long since doing speed work. Difficulty: 3/5.

Friday: 5 Miles

The summer's gone by pretty quickly and I ultimately don't have a lot of time left to reach one of my goals: do fun and interesting trail runs. I was looking to see if I could go early and run Monadnock, but with the long drive, and either poor access(to less crowded/longer trails)/crowded main trail I decided to do Ragged Mountain in Berlin, CT instead which also looked pretty cool. Somehow Sam Lutzel, who can't even commit to going on the closest and most convenient runs, was able to find the time to spend the morning in central CT on the run with me. Drive over was all right, but it was a little difficult to find the trail and the parking. Once we got started, it was clearly not an easy trail, but I was very, very excited. Sam, not used to real or hilly trail running, fell back and I ran up to 200 meters ahead at some points. The trail, billed as "Ragged Mountain loop" probably sounds hilly but was actually not too bad, but extremely technical in spots. The first section went by quickly and was very enjoyable. Soon we started the actual ascent towards the summit (which wasn't a huge summit at 760ft). There an awesome overlook over some body of water before hitting the rocky (ragged) summit that was really cool. The trail down was very difficult, both of us were tired at that point and it proved to be the steepest (descent) and most technical section yet. It was a pretty amazing trail however, and had at least 5 incredible overlooks within half a mile. Very cool run, definitely lived up to the hype. Mileage was a bit low, but to experience this awesome place it was worth it. Place was very well marked and I probably could have gotten by without a trail map (which contrasts with Devil's Hopyards- I not only needed a trail map there, but my phone as well). Castle Craig  was only 5 minutes away but I was too tired to add on other 4. It seems like there's a ton of awesome trails in this general area, would like to do another run over here (probably castle craig) but not sure I can fit it in. Stopped by nearby Wadsworth falls on the way back.

Where to park was very unclear, but ended up being fine.

Much of the trail looked like this.

View from the summit.

One of many overlooks on the way down.

This was the picture for Ragged Mountain in the article I read, but there wasn't a single part that looked anything like this.

Nearby wadsworth falls.
Saturday: 8 Miles. Evening run in Ninigret. Not at all in a mood to run but felt really smooth and love this place. Ran the usual grassy/gravel trail loop plus a few bike paths. Knee pain pretty minimal but some tightness. Saw lots of rabbits.

Sunday: 8 Miles. Grills preserve (both) late-morning recovery. Pretty tired and glad to finish. Probably would have just done 5 had I not needed extra mileage just to make 50.

Weekly Total: 50 Miles
YTD Total: 1, 341 Miles

Weird week with losing miles to knee issues, but it seems like its improving and I should be back to normal, at least mileage wise next week. Planned a half (John and Jessie) on August 5th, but after not feeling like my fitness is where it should be, I'm going to drop out and run shorter, faster races instead. Highlights in the week were my Fun Run CR and the awesome Ragged Mountain run.

Weekly Log: July 17 to 23

Finally, a week without races. More about getting in training, trying to hit 60 miles (and possibly break my PR of 62) and keeping it fun.

Monday: 8 Miles

Quick one from the house even though I typically prefer to vary it up as much as possible. Wanted to sleep in a little more, so doing this gave me an extra hour or so of time. Besides a PM in the early miles, it was mostly smooth and comfortable. Overall, an easy run. Last mile was somewhat hilly and that tired me out.

Tuesday: 12 Miles

AM, 7 miles early misquamicut run with Dad and Tom. They did a workout, but I just wasn't feeling it and with two moderate-hard runs coming up in the next couple of days, I decided just to go for another smooth, comfortable run. It was super humid so I didn't regret taking it easy.

PM, 5 at the Stonington Fun Run. Ran super easy this time but was worn out before I started and didn't feel that great.

Wednesday: 8 Miles

Westerly Fun Run. Decided to go fairly easy this week at 5:50 pace and was joined by Chris and Tom. They were slowing a little, so I decided to drop them in order to get pace down to 5:50. Felt really good the whole way on this one. I felt tired on the warm-up but somehow much better after. Went for a refreshing dip in the ocean afterwards.

Thursday: 14 Miles

With my entire morning free, I decided to do explore a new (to me) trail system, even if it was further away and a nearly one-hour drive getting there. While I want to run Ragged Mountain before the summer runs out, it was almost 9, so I picked something a little closer- Devil's Hopyard State Park. It was a very interesting experience. I got there just before 10, looking for a certain parking lot. The parking lot was tiny and there were no marked or clear trails leading from there. I explored some of those trails, but they didn't seem right so I turned around and found it by going on the road to find another trail. I wasn't expecting anything difficult, so basically the entire run was a surprise. It was both technical and hilly throughout. The first section on yellow trail wasn't enjoyable- deerflies were right on me and the entire way was confusing and poorly marked. I got onto red trail, which was the only easy trail in the whole run and it was much better from there. I came out to the main entrance, which offered a great view of the falls, before tacking on a orange and blue loop on the other side of the roads. The orange loop was wide and looked easy, but soon started some steep and rocky climbs that were exhausting but really fun. There was a nice overlook and a 30% grade short ascent to "Devil's Oven". I walked that. I finally got back to the main entrance and was pretty beat up from all the climbing and the heat. The way back was torture as I tried several times (all while completely exhausted) to find my way back using the yellow trail and failed, eventually coming back out to the road (but not before I ran off trail 5 or 6 times). I decided just to go back on the road and eventually gave up on a steep climb and walked back (until the deerflies starting biting). Was looking for 7 easy miles, got 9 difficult ones (and last 3 were brutal).

In the evening, did a track workout. 2x1200 @3:45 w/2min recovery, followed by 3 min rest, 2x400 @75 w/1min recovery. Felt pretty good although my pacing was crap and my knee was bothering me when I stopped. Splits: 3:42/3:38/70/71. 5 miles total. Difficulty: 2/5

Friday: 7 Miles.

Groton Fun Run. Wasn't going hard or anything, but went a little faster than usual and felt pretty tired. Post-run dip was ruined by some stinging sensation I felt in the water (jellyfish?).

Saturday: 13 Miles

Was super disappointed to miss my alarm and not fuel properly for this long run, which was easy with 4-6 miles in the middle at HMP to train for upcoming races. Knee bothered me at first, but once we started the HMP session, it went away. It took me a little bit to get into the HMP, but I got it down to a 5:50 average like I wanted. 5 miles at HMP (29:14). I was happy with how that went, but it wasn't fun after as my knee continued to bother me and hurt a lot at the end.

Sunday: 5 Miles

Took it really easy and just tried to get something. Felt better than expected, but knee was definitely uncomfortable. Probably take Monday off.

Weekly Total: 67 Miles (Weekly Mileage PR!!!)
YTD Total: 1, 291 Miles

This knee issue was unexpected, but fortunately I don't think it's going to be much of a problem in the future. However, if it does continue I may have to drop out of my CR attempt Wednesday and if it goes beyond that, out of all races until XC starts.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Alaska- Weekly Logs: July 3 to 9, 10 to 16

Summer vacation has set in with a few weeks since schools ended. It's come up quick, but already time for our vacation to AK, which includes a stopover/layover (not sure what the exact difference is) in LA. Running should be awesome. A couple days still in the ocean state before heading out very early Wed morning. I decided to write both logs as to have the complete vacation running summary in one post.

Week: July 3 to 9

Monday: 5 Miles
Charlestown, RI
Got hardly any sleep and it was really tiring/hard to get up. I knew it would be much worse to sleep and run alone later so got over there. 5 miles in Burlinggame. Total mix of stuff: dirt road, singletrack, doubletrack, asphalt, campground, grass. Definitely would have preferred all trail as everything else felt terrible on the legs but legs felt really good otherwise. The asphalt especially was awful (road and trail runs don't mix that well). Felt decent until 4 when it turned into a road race and Tom and Dad decided they wanted to do a marathon workout (not really, but they picked it and left me in the dust). Went with them for a while but then got tired/legs died and Mikey B started to reel me in. Swim afterwards was not as fun even though I usually love them. Had the usual goggle problems except it was worse and being my first swim in some time I was really tired.

Plenty of geese in the pond during the swim.

Tuesday: 14 Miles

Exeter, RI

Decided to double to make sure I could meet my goal of mid-50s without having to rely on end of the week mileage when scheduling might be tight due to vacation. Wanted to get in something cool on trails. I was looking at an article that named the best/most popular hike in every state, and wanted to do Ragged Mountain in Berlin, CT. That was much further away, than the RI pick, breakheart pond in Arcadia so we did that instead, courtesy of trail guide, Jonathan Short who is familiar with the area. I was actually excited about this despite not being too fond of my first Arcadia experience. This one did not disappoint: it was enjoyable most of the time. There was lots of fun singletrack, the one dirt road section was extremely brief. Sure to be back, but probably not alone. This run once again had me feeling terrible before but fine during (which actually applied to every single run this week except sunday).

Stonington, CT
Double, another 7 in barn island. Felt pretty good even though it was over 80 degrees and was able to enjoy it. Sucking in hot air towards the end didn't feel too good. Pretty easy feeling for 14 Miles total.

Wednesday: 8 Miles

Boston view from the airport.

Santa Monica, CA
We made the most of our layover in LA by taking Uber to nearby Santa Monica pier. With 3 or 4 hours to kill, it was beach run time. I didn’t love the crowds but the scenery was nice and it was something different. Going out north of the beach towards mountains and then turnaround back to the pier made the first part of the run. The sand was soft and pace slow so it took a couple miles for legs to feel normal. After 5, I continued on the south side alone eager to make 7. I took a cement bike path out and while very hard I got the pace down to 6:30 without feeling any worse. I was having fun and decided to get in the extra mile, before heading back on the beach while dodging tourists.

Thursday: 6 Miles
Anchorage, AK
Absolutely dead and in a horrible mood after a day of travel with little sleep and spending over 10 hours in a plane. Explored nearby Kincaid Park, which had an interesting mix of paved bike paths, compacted dirt mountain bike trails and hilly unmarked sand trails. We made a combination of all three, but staying mostly on the latter two. The main trails were interesting but a little too hard for my liking while the sand trails provided unbelievable views of mountains across the bay but were very overgrown and provided no traction. A nice diversion once again but just okay run.

Friday: 7 Miles
Denali National Park and Preserve, AK
This was closer to a road run than trails but I had a lot of fun with this one. A few paved bike paths, but mostly on manicured hard trails through the forest near the park entrance. Felt pretty good and got in a few climbs as well. Views were once again pretty amazing. Later went on an awesome hike up to Mount Healy overlook, which had some of the best views of mountains I've ever seen. I made this video of the hike.

Our hotel (Lodge?) had easy access to the national park.

Easy manicured "trails" still enjoyable substitute for roads.

Saturday: 8 Miles
Anchorage, AK
We had been eyeing several races, and signed up a few weeks before for a relatively flat road 5-miler called the Alaska Men's Run. With my race schedule already planned out and a race the next day, I just wanted to use this as some kind of comfortable workout and decided to run a steady 6:00 pace the whole time. Was about 8th or so at the half mile mark, and seeing that no one was going out really fast, I secretly wanted to hammer the final miles to try and win it. I underestimated everyone's else pacing and they actually picked it up quite a bit and I stayed in 6th most of the race. I didn't feel great but not super tired either. I was a little heavy however so it wasn't comfortable as I would have liked. My first two miles were about 5:55, right on pace, but I unintentionally dropped a 5:45 and 5:25 trying to reel in some more guys. At that point, I decided to catch whoever I could and hammered the last mile in 5:08. Caught one easily, but came just short on the 3rd and 4th guy. 5th OA in 28:11, which I was pretty satisfied with, even if it was a little fast. Full results here.

Sunday: 9 Miles
Palmer, AK
Pioneer Ridge Vertical Mile

This race was least for me. For most of the runners (native Alaskan mountain runners), it might have been a walk in the park. Loon got about 3K feet elevation gain spread out over 6.6 miles while this one got 5300 ft gain in just 4.5, meaning it was usually more than 1K feet gain per mile. In case you don't understand that, I ran just under 20 minute pace and walked about half the course (maybe more, not sure). Anyway, it was brutal but fun (at least 3/5 of it) and totally worth it, so it deserves a separate race report. Not sure I did too well, but how does a rhode islander who runs mostly track and XC do well at a race like that? Hopefully I'll have my report out soon.

Weekly Total: 58 Miles (I know it adds up to 57, but strava gave me 58 so I guess small fractions of a mile added up)
YTD Total: 1,170 Miles

Week: July 10 to 16

Monday: 6 Miles
Anchorage, AK

Ran in far north bicentennial park for recovery. Trails were pretty lame- wide, dirt roads with an occasional single-track but overall nothing special. Super easy trails especially when comparing it to others on the trip, but still a slow pace. Went on a short but awesome Bryon Glacier hike later in the day.

Bryon Glacier

Tuesday: 11 Miles
Seward, AK

Lost lake summer trail- a slow gradual but not steep climb up a mountain (not sure about this, but definitely up a big hill at least) that was varied and incredibly scenic. Easily one of the best runs not only on the trip, but of the entire year. Felt pretty good ascending and kept going instead of turning around at 4. Wanted to keep going and come back on the winter trail/reach the view of lost lake, but it was a good mile more and it was getting late. Felt tired on the descent. Went to awesome exit glacier in the evening.

Exit Glacier was not as impressive as Bryon, but the hike there was much better.

Wednesday: 6 Miles
Seward, AK

Another interesting run, Caine's Head trail near resurrection bay. Definitely some cool stuff. Mix of easy-double track, steep single-track, easy single-track through a cool forest and some beach running. The beach was really cool but completely composed of large rocks, so it was near impossible to run on and we turned back quickly, only getting 6 miles which was a little disappointing.

Thursday: 3 Miles
Phoenix, AZ

Definitely depressed to leave Alaska, the worst part of every vacation is leaving. We went to Phoenix on another layover where we were greeted with scorching temps. Wanted to go for whatever I had planned, but apparently we needed to leave soon and only 2 miles in, I was roasting. Finished up at three. Totally unique run- never in the desert by cacti before. Pretty cool even if the climate/weather was brutal.

Friday: 8 Miles
Groton, CT

Slept a ton after getting back and decided to go the fun run. Took it easy as Matt Sweeney, who interestingly enough, also went to Alaska and Iceland in last year or so, ran with us. Overall, pretty enjoyable and felt good.

Saturday: 12 Miles
Chepachet, RI

Run with the Beavers 10 Mile Trail Race. Did pretty well- 4th in 1:05:48. Probably my best race of the summer. Read my full write-up here.

Sunday: 8 Miles
West Greenwich, RI

Love Tillinghast system, but did not realize it was a deerfly haven and pretty much the entire run was just breakfast for them. There were deerflies in every possible direction, and they rarely ever backed off. Not my idea of a group run. Tired the whole time (sleep schedule was off coming back from Alaska and jet lag).

Weekly Total: 54 Miles
YTD Total: 1,224 Miles

I was a little disappointed this week's total, but unexpected lows on Wednesday and Thursday made it impossible to get 60. I did 28 miles in three days, and that wasn't enough. Need to plan it out better next time on vacation. Could have easily doubled Monday or Tuesday and hit my mileage goal while also not overdoing it at the end of the week.

Alaska was an amazing experience. Trails, hikes, races, and scenery were easily among the best in in my life. I already can't wait for the next vacation.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Westerly Fun Run Top Performances

We're a good month into summer by now, and it's been enjoyable to return to the fun runs. So far I've made three- Stonington, Westerly, and Groton and I'd like to go to at least one Chariho before the season runs out. It seems that Westerly is typically by far the fastest- since the 5K started in 2011, we usually have at least 3 runners sub-20, with winning times sometimes under 18 and even under 17. I made a list of top performances on the course, and it turns out there have been 72 performances sub-18 on the course. There have been 9 sub-17 performances. For a free, local fun run, that's pretty impressive.

See the list below (click to enlarge):

I made a second list to take out the duplicates, not allowing more than one performance per runner. In this list, there were 22 runners who had broken 18 and 6 who had broken 6.

My third list breaks down the number of sub-18 performances per year. 2011 and 2012, the first two years, were relatively slow as there were only 10 combined sub-18 performances, but 2013 and 2014 consistently attracted faster runners with a total of 39 sub-18 performances. 2014 was perhaps the highlight year with 4 sub 17 performances (CR was broken 3 times). Since then, we haven't quite hit the highs of '13 and '14, but 2015-2017 holds a combined 22 sub-18 performances and 5 sub-17 performances.

My fourth list breaks down the number of sub-18 performances by runner. I included all runners that had broken 18 on the course more than once, and sorted them by number of sub-18 performances. As you can see, Tom Bousquet is far ahead of the field with 22, accounting for 30% for all sub-18 performances over the 7 years. No one has broke 17 three times at the fun runs.

My final list ranks top fun runners by their number of wins. I included only those who have won more than once. Three have won more than 10 times, yet only 6 have won more than twice.

Who is the king of the Westerly Fun Run? Is it Chris Garvin with the course record or is it Tom Bousquet with the most sub-18 performances and the most wins? I've had a lot of fun at these fun runs and am hoping to see these stats become even more impressive over time.