Saturday, March 28, 2015

Getting ready for the big April races

As April approaches my training intensifies. There are two big races that month that require some serious training unlike the usual mix of halfs, 5Ks, 10Ks, etc. The Lake Waramaug 50 mile Ultra and the Traprock 17K race are very different from the norm.

The Traprock Trail race comes in two flavors. A 50K and a 17K. One loop of the trails is a very tough and technical 10 miles. There are some easy trails but for the most part one of the tougher trails I have run. Nice scenery though. Today I went on a training run of one loop. Snow and ice still coat much of the course but I assumed it would be flattened and no too tricky. I was wrong. There were deep sections, hard ice coated sections, and just plain dirt. The late season snowstorm was an added challenge but I was up for it. Started well and I kept a goo pace but after 2.5 miles I broke my left microspike on my shoe. 
Bad luck with my microspikes
 Figured it was not a big deal and continued on but quickly learned my footing was not good. After several falls I decided to turn back. The 10 mile training run became a 6 mile hike with some running thrown in.
The "Stairway to Heaven" section. Very Steep.

At the end of April I will once again take on the Lake Waramaug 50 mile Ultra.  Lake Waramaug is just plain LONG! My first 50 miler(and maybe my only one). I've done the 50K around the lake twice before. This year its time to move up to the next level. In recent weeks I have steadily increased my mile to prepare. I have been able to do several 20+ mile runs with one more on tap. The Garmin map below is from the last long run of 24 miles. Its very weird at the end of these to think this is only half of what I will do on race day.
This race is four weeks away which means one ,more long run and then I will start a gradual taper. 

I'm completing by big races of 2015 early. After May 1st I can just run my usual races and enjoy the summer. But, the fall may bring me one more big challenge if I want to take on Bimblers 50K. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Cold Weather Running

The past three weeks have brought brutal cold tempratures due to a "polar vortex"(new catch phrase in the news). Temps have frequently been in the single digits with wind chills well below zero. My previous coldest run day was in Keene NH two years ago where the wind chill was -11f. This year I have run at least three days with wind chills colder than that. The coldest was -20f. Except for one possible little frostbite my 3 layer wrap up keeps me protected and warm. I may have a small patch of frost bite under my chin. I was running for about an hour in -6f temps(not wind chill) and felt a sharp pain under my chin. The scarf I normally wear had a space in it and my skin was exposed. Not sure what the sore is and I guess not much to about it. I assume we have seen the last of real terrible cold spells and hopefully can count on temps in the 30+f range.
2/21/2015 Started at -6f and warmed up to 3f after 13 miles.
As February comes to a close there are some positive developments. First is that my heel pain is gone therefore I stopped using the heel cushions. My stress fracture must be healed. Now, in case it was planter fasciitis, I roll my foot and stretch before each run. Secondly my pneumonia is gone and have very few coughing bouts. All good because I must focus on training for the Waramug 50 mile race and assorted shorter races in between now and April.

My new attitude for running feels good. That is, run for the sake of running and don't worry about speed. Yeah, I try  to run faster but its no big deal if I don't. Keeps me positive about the run and reduces stress each time I go out.  I know I can run a decent race and I also know distances don't phase me so all I do is run.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year and a new plan

Like many people I have been thinking about my running habit as the new year begins. Am I satisfied with my running? Is my training OK? Do I need "goals" for the year and if so what will they be?

My head is in a good place in regards to running. I'm comfortable with my conditioning and results during training and races. I've accepted the fact that  at 61 years old I'm doing OK. Can I be faster or better? Maybe but do I need to? Probably not. Therefore, knowing I can run any type of race, I need to decide what will be most enjoyable. Running to "run" is my new attitude. Just to get out and run...whatever the pace or distance. One thing for sure is that I need to incorporate more trail racing since that is most enjoyable. Today I did just that by joining up with the Shenipsit Striders in Tolland CT. They hold a "Fat Ass 6 Hour Trail Run" every January 1st. It is a 3.1 mile loop in Crandall Park. Perfect for me because you run as many loops as you wish. Due to time constraints I ran two loops.
Pre race group photo. Most are die hard trail runners.
The run couldn't have been better. Great weather and fun people. The trails were not very technical and well marked. I did each loop in about 40 mins which was good for me. But time didn't matter. They barely kept track with a self timing method involving an old beat up and paint covered watch one checked after each loop. Totally an honor system. Perfect for me because the day was about running, not speed, finish, or placing. It was a very nice change from the typical street run.

Need more of days like this!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

2500 miles

Today I completed a goal for 2014. I exceeded 2500 miles running in one year. As of my run this morning my total was 2502. Due to a couple of injuries that slowed me down I almost missed the goal. Since my last injury I realize more and more that its the running I enjoy not actual pace or speed. When resting my broken body and not running it was like withdrawal. Couldn't wait to get back on the roads at any speed. Times like that made me aware that the activity of running was far more important than increasing my speed.

Crossing 2500 miles is great but another milestone is just as interesting. Total miles in 5 years is now over 8,000! By end of 2015 I should be over 10,000 miles. If someone 5 years ago had told me I'd be reaching such mileage I never would have believed it. The other stats from Garmin are just plain mind boggling. Calories in 2014 = more than 366,000! Calories in 5 years is more than 1.1 million!

Today was a great run because of the milestone and the weather. A perfect morning as the picture below demonstrates.
Sunrise in Whigville CT
 So I'll finish out the year with a few average runs and start again on January 1st. Now I must look at potential races for next year and get some rough training schedule together for any big races.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Norfolk Pub 10 Mile Road Race

Saturday was my first time running the Norfolk Pub 10 Mile Road Race. It has always been called one of the toughest 10 mile races in Connecticut and I can see why. The course is an isolated road through the forest. It has numerous rolling hills throughout of which a couple are quite steep. I loved the course including the tough hills which made the race interesting. This was the longest "race" that I ran since the Hartford Marathon in October. My recent heel and leg problems are definitely behind me since no issues developed. I was a little sore but nothing like what it was in November. I had decided to take it easy and listen to my body during the run. If any pain started I would slow down or even walk. Never had an issue and ran the entire race. My finish time was 1:48 with an average pace of 10:47. Happy with the result. Many of my running clubs were there. The photo below has most and as you can see its a fun group of people with varied levels of expertise with running. Fun day for all.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Big Hills, Better Heel

This past weekend was full of running. Saturday I volunteered at the Roxbury Marathon and Sunday I ran 11 miles including some big Burlington hills.

Roxbury....I had to be honest with myself and drop out of the Roxbury Marathon due to my nagging heel injury. Could I have run it? Sure. But I would have exctended my recovery time or possibly worsen the injury. So I did the next best thing which was to volunteer. Working a water station is always interesting. It gives you the chance to see a variety of running styles and attitudes. As a runner I always stress and work hard during a race. It was refreshing to see people having fun, enjoying the weather, and not caring about how they were doing. I was even surprised to see a couple of elite runners stop and chat at my aid station. Later I saw that some of them finished in the top 5.

Sunday hill run...Sunday was a planned long run to test my heel. This past week saw great improvements in my recovery. I headed out up to GW Turnpike and the on the rolling hills to Nassahegan Forest. Good steep inclines and declines to test the heel. I then went and ran up Taine Mountain Road which is one of the greatest inclines in town. I had done it once before. I did it without any problem. Then headed home. At the end I had done 11 miles, the most since the Hartford Marathon in October. My heel was a little sore but not bad. The remainder of Sunday was a trip to Long Island to see our daughter Meghan, Jason, and the grandkids. Had a nice day which also allowed my heel to rest. Today, Monday, I was on the roads again with a simple 7 mile run and at a decent pace. My road to recovery is almost complete so its time to begin planning 2015.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Been a while.....

At the 2014 Hartford Marathon I seriously injured my heel. It was sore before the start but got worse to the point I barely finished. I ran a few weeks post marathon and even entered a few races. Dumb. My mind would not accept what the heel was saying..."stop running for a while". Eventually I did stop and saw Dr Sullivan at Orthopedic Associates. Had an x-ray. No major or obvious fracture and most likely a subtle stress fracture. He recommended I not run and do cross training. I did. That was the easy part. The hard part was dropping out of the Roxbury Marathon which I love so much. With a big waiting list and an injury it was the right thing to do. At the RSNA in Chicago I started some small runs. It felt good with a little soreness after each run. This week I ran the Santa Made Me Do It  5K in Bethlehem at a decent pace on hills. The light at the end of the tunnel was in view. The injury was healing slow but sure.
Finishing the Santa Made Me Do It 5k in 27 mins. I'm OK with that!

This positive outcome has allowed me to plan for 2015. I signed up for the Colchester half Mararthon, Bolton 5 mile run, and should be in the Peoples Forest 17 mile run. This injury has made me realize several things....that I can take time off from running without losing any fitness....that I need to focus on health and ability not speed.....that being able to run outdoors at any speed is better than making stupid decisions and causing injury. I have fun with the Run169town group and Brickyarders so I need to take care of myself to ensure I'm running far into the future. This weekend I will be at a volunteer cheering people on. Enjoying my hobby in a different way. There are plenty of other races in my future.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The 2014 Hartford Marathon and a bad heel

Just one of those the only statement to make after the 2014 Hartford Marathon. Rainy, cold, sore leg, and an awful finish time. It started off positive with our 169 Town runners gathering around the Lafayette Statue across from the State Capital. Meghan and Capstone photography took some groups shots the we lined up for the race.
Pre race...pre bad marathon. Run 169 Town group
This was my third time at Hartford and had trained hard all year to have a decent result. What is "decent"? In my mind anything 4:30 or better would have been great. Previous finish times were 4:14 and 4:24 so it was not out of the question. My last two marathons, Roxbury 2013 and Newport 2013 were 5 hours. Surely I wouldn't do another one. My plane was to stick to a pace around 9:30/min. If I could do that a "decent" time was possible. Initially I was sticking to the plan. Hovering around 9:30-9:45. OK and I felt great. About half way through I slowed significantly. Not sure why because I felt great and occasionally could muster up a sprint for a quarter mile or so. Even kept up with the 4:30 pace group for a while. After reaching the turn at 17 miles in South Windsor my pace continued to drop off. My right leg was sore but not excruciatingly so. Just couldn't get the energy. I hadn't hit the wall and in fact noticed I felt really good. Can't explain it unless the painful leg somehow caused me to take it easy.
Somewhere in the middle of the race.
Capstone took a bunch of pictures. I swear some of them, altough stills, look like I'm running with a limp. Some look like I'm in pain. But I forged ahead hoping to at least come in just before the five hour mark. I probably finally hit the wall at 21 miles. I noticed a definite weakening at that point. I lasted a long time because I trained well, tapered well, and took plenty of nutrients during the race. I had a small breakfast 3 hours before the race of Flax cereal, a banana, and coffee. UCAN before the race and a gel every 5 miles. Also drank lots of water. Probably too much since I had two bathroom stops.
At the finish
Finally the city skyline was in sight as I crossed the Connecticut River which meant about 2 miles to go. I plugged along into the city then rounded the final turn to the arch. As I ran to the finish I saw Meghan taking pictures. She yelled "what happened"? I explanation but I yelled back "it's finally over"! That is the best way to close out a bad race. Finish time was 5:06.

All in all it was a disappointing finish but felt good to get another full marathon in the books.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Fall Races

As Fall begins so does the intense race schedule. The New Haven Road Race 20K on Labor day is sort of the start to a crazy race schedule.  In the picture below are two Connecticut running icons, Bill Tribou and Lee Bradley. Both inspire runners by being ambassadors for the sport and show one can enjoy running at any age.
Two icons...Bill Trbou(L) and Lee Bradley(R) in New Hven. 
Every year a slew of popular races challenge us who have trained all summer. My main fall races are New Haven Road Race, The Hogsback Half Marathon, The Hartford Marathon, and the Roxbury Marathon. I worked harder at training for these than in the past. Weekly mile totals have been in the 50-55 mile range. I've smartly managed to have more days off than usual. Common running wisdom insists that days off are key to doing well and staying healthy. As I write this it is a day off post Hogsback Half.
Start of the Hogsback Half

David Roach and I after the race
Lea Crown had a PR at Hogsback
Yesterday's Hogsback was my 22nd half marathon. This has to be one of the best halfs in the state. Just the right size(@500 runners), great course along the Farmington River, and just well run. My finish time was 2:10. I will be back next year.

My stats are building as I have 6 full marathons and 3 ultra marathons. Ironically I have more half marathons completed than 5K races. My finish times are getting a bit slower which is OK since my age is getting a bit higher! Finish times don't bother me as many know, I just love getting out to run. Realizing I can run 13.1, 26.2, or 31.1 miles at 60 years of age is good enough for me regardless of the time I cross that line.

Next up is my 3rd Hartford Marathon. Less than two weeks means I start my taper of running miles. Hope to have a good one and finish under 4:30. Being conservative because I have been over confident in the past.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Thursday is "hill repeat" day in my training schedule. Over the past six weeks I have incorporated hill repeats is various ways. Always do at least 4x200m on steep hills and sometimes 6x200. Tough to do depending on the incline. Today I ran through Whigville and did the repeats on the road next to the reservoir. After I continued on to Sessions Woods then back home.

This weekend I'll do some medium long runs of around 10 miles per day since I did 15 miles last Saturday. Soon I will take on a 20 miler.