Saturday, November 24, 2007

Trumbull Cow Chip 6K

I had day to rest after the Turkey Day races. I used it to ride for about 90 minutes with Steve Surprise. We did the Wednesday night loop, since we're long past the time of year we can actually do the loop on Wednesday night. It was a little cold, but nothing ridiculous.

It was definitely colder this morning. When I left the house, it was still in the 30s, and I was still looking at rushing to get there within half an hour of the start. But I was pre-registered and not worried. This is a lower key type of race, although plenty of talent was there for this year's version. I got my number so quickly that I ended up standing around inside. I didn't want to start my warm-up more than about 15 minutes before the race, given that I was in a singlet and arm-warmers, with no gloves. I've been holding back on racing in gloves for no good reason.

I felt pretty good after the warm up in that I was warm, but not so good in that I was pretty gassed. After the ride yesterday we'd spent the rest of the day shopping and that's always a long day. I didn't feel that I had anything left, and with teammates like Ryan Pancoast, Rodney Furr, and Bart Wasiolek there, I knew I was only running for pride (and pain).

We headed out and like all the races this time of year, the opening lane was clogged solid with kids. High school and maybe even younger, including some crazy girl who must have been 12-13 and spent the first half-mile in front of me. Normally I don't have any issue with this youthful exuberance, but after I almost ended up wrapped around a garbage can, I lost my good cheer, bore down, and started making my way up through the chaff.

It was beautiful conditions for such a cold day and as we hit the trail, I was feeling pretty good. There were a couple people in front of my I felt I should be able to work my way past and I tried to push past, while also protecting my backside- someone was trying to get by and at first I was going to move over but then I reminded myself that it was cross-country and there's no reason to move over for anyone.

I broke out of the trail and moved up past one runner in Milford Road Runners gear and a Shoreline Shark. Then there was, quite frankly, a lot of hard running in open space, with the guys in front of me (five of them) out of reach. Well, one was almost in reach, but not quite. I also had one guys close enough behind that I worked hard, but I was still in space, where I spend too much race time. At about three miles Marty went by on his bike and asked me if I'd ran two races Thursday. I said yes and went back to running.

Although the guy behind me closed to within three seconds, I didn't have to sprint at the end, and frankly, I didn't want to.

This is a fun race. I hung out afterwards with Charlie Hornak while we waited for Marty's unique awards and as usual, Marty makes the race more than what it otherwise would be- a good time, fun, and most of all unique.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Double- Turkey-style

Every since I started running in my mid-thirties, I've done my share of crazy things, but none more psychotic than the double- two races in one day (or at least twice in one weekend). This year I'd pretty much proven I'd broken away from that way of doing things. I passed up numerous small races getting ready for big races, eschewed races for 90 minute runs and so on. But starting with the marathon-5k weekend, there's been a big racing uptick.

I ran the 8k cross country race last Saturday, then went out Sunday and ran 90 minutes. I took it easy during the week, spinning for 45 minutes and swimming 40 25s in the pool Monday, doing a 10-10-10-10 treadmill/spin Tuesday (which turned out to be good practice running off the bike), and an hour hard on the mountain bike yesterday.

I'd pre-registered for both races but wasn't sure what I'd be doing. Margit had a masters swimming at 6AM and the chance she'd be back for me to do the 5k in Branford wasn't good. However, I pre-registered for both races to avoid crazy last-minute running around, just in case the double came to fruition. Talk about a good idea. Margit got home at 8:10 and by the time I headed out the door it was 8:20. i headed out on the mountain bike- didn't want to get trapped parking- and promptly went the wrong way. After about a minute, I realised my mistake, turned around and booked up the road the other way, my heart rate over 150 (I've been wearing the monitor when I run road races, just to get an idea what I'm doing).

I got there at 8:29, threw the bike down on the side out of the path of the start, and lined-up. the race started about five minutes later. As I get older, and road racing is less central to my racing portfolio, the 5K gets harder and harder. It requires a type of training I don't do, I can't run times I am happy with, and it hurts- a lot, sometimes.

But how could I pass up a 5K that is run on roads near my home, the majority of the roads ones I am on for part of every 90 minute run ?

We headed out from the school going right and there were a lot of high school kids ahead of me. Then JT was ahead of me and JT, being a great runner, well, I knew if I could hang on his heels I might have a good race. The first mile was fast, pretty flat (an uphill, but only noticeable if you know the road). I finally passed JT, and as I was determined to go all out, I want to hold him 2-3 seconds behind me. I picked my way past some high school kids and turned hard at the cone and started to push a little. It's tough when you're on road you can hit 25 mph on your bike on to be running just under 6 minute miles.

I would have guessed that I was in 9-10th place, but I came in 5th, with Margit and Ian cheering me on at the last corner and JT 2-3 seconds behind me. I walked out of the chute, grabbed my bike, checked with Margit. I saw Michael D. finish and immediately was on my way home on the mountain bike. It was 9 am and the Madison race was at 10.

I got home, switched kit, grabbed some clif shot blocks and then Margit came home. I waited as she changed and helped Ian build some railroad tracks, then we were on our way again.

It was 9:35 when we got to Madison and parked. I wasn't worried. I had my chip and my number, but we had to pack Ian in the jogger and register Margit. I ran ahead and filed out her entry and then we got her in the bathroom line. While I was waiting for her I ran into Jen Talon, who watched Ian and all I can say is THANKS ! Brian had told me she'd watch Ian and I'd let Margit know but she'd been a little hesitant as Jen already has two kids. I ran off to get Margit's chip, which she missed when she registered- chaos !

I worked my way to the start and settled in with a bunch of fast guys I knew would beat me. It was hard not to think about how I'd ran a 5k just over an hour ago. Then the race started and the first two things that came to me were- Charlie Hornak passed me and I figured I was in for a 30:30 run and he'd beat me, and I had no fraking clue how the course ran as we headed out towards the park entrance.

I decided to go with the patient style of running and after about a mile point five Charlie started coming back. I passed him then I started passing a bunch of high school kids. We wrapped around back to the start, headed out towards Meigs Point and I was still passing and battling with people. I schooled myself to not push before the turn-around and as we started around it I was 17th. I hit the place where the 4 mile clock was at 23:38 and thought I had a shot at breaking 30. Since I had not broken 18 at the 5K...

I think the 4 mile mark was short. I worked hard to hold on as best I could and still dropped three spots and came 20th, with three more high school kids within 6 seconds. I grabbed Ian right after the race, got a beer from Bill from the Jaycees, and hung out while Margit ran an awesome 36:24. Brian and Jen are just great folks and hanging out with them and Charlie made the race a nice social event as well, and there was plenty of beer !

What did I learn ? I'm not so young anymore, but I am still crazy !

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Madd Dash 5 Miler

Another out of order race blog.

It's hard to pass up a Sunday morning race that is contested on some of the same roads you run on during the week. Working at UNH, I frequently (almost every run) at least touch the course and on the days when I run through the park I do a decent portion of the race, although fortunately the race does not pass through where I was arrested while running (the longest 90 minute workout I'll ever have !)

The race is a good one. It seems like the course should be fast, but it always seems to be one of the first colder days and the wind can be a bear, which it was.

I always know the crowd that shows up is going to include some fast runners like Bryce Lindamood (good luck with your first child !) and some high school kids (I got beat by five teenagers this year). Add Marty paying a woman from NYC to come up on the train and run 28:16 and I expected after a two-week layoff to get buried. But it's a good course, I have friends that run it ever year like Charlie Hornak and I hadn't raced in three weeks, so I thought it was a good opportunity to get in a warm-up for the 8k (see previous post).

I wasn't expecting to break thirty minutes and I had decided to go out slow and build into it. That strategy has been working for me lately so I stuck with it and ran the first mile over 5:40. Pretty soon Barks went by me, then the woman, then Frank Tiroletto, who usually gets the best of me. There were also a lot of teens in front of me, so after a mile I started to work a little harder. Frank was clearly having trouble breathing and I didn't let that stop me from passing him again. He mentioned how the woman- Lisa Stublic had blown by him like he was standing still. She'd done the same to me.

I ran hard until mile 4 and passed a few people that started to fade. Then I passed the guy in 11th and started back around into the park, thinking I was set. Although I had a good race, he ran me down again and just nicked me at the finish line by about a second. I'd have been pissed, but I thought I was going to throw up so I knew I'd given it everything. I handed over my number and went to look for Margit and Ian, but I'd broken thirty and suddenly I felt ready to race again after two weeks off...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

8K Cross Country Championship, West Hartford

It was a pretty tight assignment. Get in the car at 8:50 am, drive to West Hartford, run a cross country 8K at 10 am, hop back in the car and be home at noon.

A drive like that will get you ready for a race, that's for sure. I had half an hour to sign up, warm up, and get on the line- literally.

The race is not an easy one. It's a chicklet-busting uphill start to the race, followed by plenty of trail running, but it's also overall a fast first two miles. Given that the last three miles are hard miles, it's best not to go out too hard early. I was right behind Oscar Barretto starting up the hill and I was thinking, this isn't right (I hardly belong on the same course with Oscar), but we settled in pretty quickly and I soon found myself running in 13th place, right behind two teammates- Rob Barksdale and Brian Talon. We moved up two spots and then started up the hill at two miles and that was when the fun began.

It's more trail running at that point, and some real uphill. I let Brian and Rob separate because I know from having run the course 5 times that if you push early, you die late, and they are faster than I am. They quickly took out the two runners closest to me. I passed one but then settled in and began reeling them in more slowly . At three miles, they were well ahead of me and I was just passing another runner. We rocketed down one hill, took a set of turns and started heading up in the other direction. The guys in front of me were taller, younger- guys that could no doubt take me out on the road, but as I'd been gaining on them on the downhill, I was really looking forward to the uphill.

I had two guys in front of me I thought I had a chance against. I passed one at about 3.7 and he fought to hold me off and take his position back, so I really fought the urge to open it up and just keep moving forward. I was hoping to catch the last guy between me and my teammates before four miles, where there is a steep, dangerous downhill.

It didn't happen. We wound through the back of the course and I wasn't getting any closer to him. I wanted to get that last place but he wasn't coming back. We broke out of the woods, onto the trail by the road, and still I was two seconds back. then we got on the road, and in the final two hundred meters, I did pass him and put three seconds on him. I coughed a bit in the chute and Will asked me to let him know if I was going to puke so he could get the shot.

Oscar won the race, Brian, Rob and I came 5-6-7, and Charlie Hornak broke into the top 14 to give Hitek the win.

Another great race, a great course, and just a blast to run what's really a super-fast trail race...