Monday, October 21, 2013

Groton Town Forest Race 2013

Groton Town Forest 2013

Two weekends ago was the Groton Town Forest trail race. Since running this first in 2010, I've gone back every year. It's just an awesome race. This year I opted for the shorter (3.4 mile) race as I had gotten a ride out from ultra-running bud Ultra Doug. He was coming off his third Vermont 50, and I was recovering from the near-PR effort at Smuttynose the week before. So the plan was to "take it easy".

We arrived early, registered, and then went out for a short warm-up of about 2 miles. Before too long, we lined up and were off. In the first half mile, we settled in with the middle pack. I think Doug was fine to stay running with the group, but I don't like the crowded feeling, especially on single-track. So I started to push a bit. We pulled away from the group and kept going. I think I heard him mutter something like "...you bastard..." when I turned it on.

We took turns in the lead as the shorter course (much to my satisfaction) included lots of up and downs through the forest and its kettle features. About halfway through, I pulled ahead and had a considerable lead. As I neared three mile mark, I decided to slow it down and wait for Doug. After all, we'd come to run together and we've now got a history of racing down the final stretch together.

He did catch me, and this year, we just crossed the line together. No racing. I could tell he was tired, and I still had crazy kick yet. No point in pushing it. So we just came in together, at 31:37. It was good enough to land me 3rd place in my age group. Too bad there were only prizes for the first two. There's always next year.

All in all, another fantastic day for one of my favorite trail races. I'll definitely keep coming back. Maybe some year I'll see you out there.

Run, run, run.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Smuttynose Rockfest 2013

Smuttynose 2013

It's been a long time since I've written here. I know. Bad blogger.

Two weekends ago, I completed my fourth "official" half-marathon race - the 2013 Smuttynose Rockfest Half. It was the first road race I'd run since January 1st, and the first half marathon I'd run in over three years. Out of the four half-marathons, I "raced" three of them, pacing in the other. This Sunday's half-marathon was the slowest of my "racing" performances, but I'm feeling pretty good about it, given the injury earlier this year.

Wait. What? Injury?

So earlier this year, I fought a bear and lost. My 510 day streak of running at least one mile ended unexpectedly. Despite a very creative tribute, the end of the streak was nothing more than an accident. It may or may not have involved alcohol and some stairs. In any event, I was left with a severely sprained ankle and wrist that didn't fare too much better. I was out of running for just over 6 weeks.

Yes, I was a miserable beast to be around.

Eventually I got back out to running slowly and recuperating the ankle. I decided to stay off my technical "backyard" trails and instead to opt for some road running until I built up strength in the foot again. Smuttynose seemed like a perfect target race. So I looked up an eight week half-marathon training program, modified it slightly, and set my sights on getting back out there in October.

Training

My training was loosely based on the program found here. I pretty much stuck to it, with the exception of 'rest' days. I had began the streak again, simply out of habit. So the 'rest' days were super easy one milers in the neighborhood. I didn't cross-train as hard. I couldn't support a lot of weight on my wrist, so I scaled back the body weight exercises. I had really intended to start lifting, but had to put this on hold too. Instead, I focused on getting comfortable running on roads again, and rehabbing the ankle and wrist.

I had one double digit run before the half.

Race Weekend

We ended up staying with some runner friends about 25 minutes away from the race start. Saturday night we had a big potluck dinner and spent some time hanging out around a huge fire with some of our other runner friends. A few of these people had come all the way down from Canada. It was great to finally meet them in person, as we've all joked around quite a bit online.

Sleep the night before was about as I expected. Lots of tossing and turning, waking up a bunch of times. Typical pre-race rest. Woke up sometime after 6 and was ready to go.

Got over to the race venue with plenty of time to spare. Took my place in the "8:19 or faster" corral and anxiously awaited the "GO!". I knew I couldn't really hold that pace for the whole thing, but I figured better to be out ahead of the crowds.

And out ahead I was. Started way too fast. First couple miles clocked in at: 7:45 and 8:04. But, I was feeling good, so I kind of just kept at it. The miles kept coming - 8:18, 8:14, 8:22, 8:09, 8:55, 8:49. It was in the ninth mile that I started to lose a little steam. I battled some stomach cramps, and then a little later, a tight hamstring. The next few miles clocked in a little slower - 9:04, 8:57, 9:36, 9:25.

By the time we were back on the coast with a tailwind, I knew I didn't have it in me to PR (1:51 and change) and I suspected that the course PR (1:55:something) was slowly slipping away. In the last mile I tried to pick it up, but my ankle was whining pretty loudly, so I resigned myself to be content with finishing. I knew I had enough to make it in under two hours, so that's what I did.

Finished in 1:56:18. Not a course PR, not a distance PR. But I'm pretty happy with the results.

I had some kick left in the legs, and finished strong as I saw the wife and kids cheering me home during the final stretch with signs that read "You Rock Dad!!!".

Takeaways:

  • Sub-2 in my first road race in forever.
  • Pretty decent pace for still nursing the foot.
  • I really don't like roads.
  • Day 101 of the "new" streak ;)

So yeah, another half-marathon in the bag.

And yeah, I ran the next day. And the day after, and so on and so forth.

Run, run, run.