Monday, November 14, 2016

Roxbury and Fall Festival Races

I have always wanted to run the Roxbury Half Marathon but missed it each year for various reasons. But not this year. This race is part paved road and part dirt road with a fair amount of hills. I have run in the area before including the full marathon but for some reason the hills seemed a bit steep now. Maybe its the slow progression of aging making them seem worse! I didn't train in any specific way prior but have run frequent 18-20 mile runs on weekends. I am by no means a good long distance runner but it occurred to me that I've reached a point where training is not as important to complete a long distance. Speed suffers without training though. The new Asics I had ordered hadn't arrived so my feet were in for a rough day on the rocks.

 There were several friends running as well as familiar faces from the local Roxbury running crowd. It's a small race without fanfare which actually makes it fun.
Joe and Tracy
As usual the race started almost without notice except a simple "go" from the race director. We started down the small hill towards town. Then out to Wellers Road of mostly dirt and rocks on a gradual downhill. It was easy to maintain a 9:00-9:30 pace. As I ran I could only think of the uphill on the way back. For most of the uphill I stayed around 10:00/mile which was good. By mile 8 I realized I could have a decent finish time but needed to push hard on the hilly 3 mile loop portion. By mile 11 the adrenaline and music was kicking in. I pushed hard and finished in 2:05. Actually good for a hilly half with an elevation gain of 600+ feet. The two bathroom breaks didn't help.

It was my 31st half marathon and my 632nd straight running day in my streak.
In 3 weeks I return for the full marathon. Hopefully I will do as well as this half.

Fall Festival 400
This was an inaugural ultra in Southington's Camp Sloper. The concept was to allow 400 minutes to run a two mile loop multiple times. Runners could do as little or as much as they want. I chose to do 3 laps which was 6 miles. The weather was great and the course was clean. The first 1/3 was a very technical uphill. The remainder was open woodland and grass trails on a gentle downhill. This was well run and just plain fun. Next year I will challenge myself to go the full 400 minutes.
Goofing around at the Fall Festival 400

Friday, October 28, 2016

Self Improvement and 169

A member of our Run 169 Towns group, Robin Towle-Fesco, has a blog post on how exercise and joining a running group helped her get physically fit. It's another great story that has been seen many times in the past. I, like Robin, met the health challenge head on and won.
Robin Towle-Fesco Blog post

Trying to change your health and lifestyle isn't easy. Sometimes it works and other times it does not. Everyday there are stories of self improvement, programs, fads, scams, etc which many people take on to get healthy and lose weight. Most give up after a while which is not their fault but usually the result of some other circumstance.

I was like everyone else when it came to running...studied all the recommendations and workout plans. Set goals. Worked hard. Strived for constant improvement. This is all positive stuff with good intentions but it frequently results in one giving up. I was lucky and never had the urge to stop. But there are reasons people do stop. I always hear new runners talk of reaching a fast finish time or even qualify for the Boston Marathon. Maybe a long distance run. They talk of speed and hill workouts. The problem is they want too much too soon or have expectations that far exceed abilities. Today I take it easy which keeps the enjoyment level high. I work at improving but not in an extreme way.

Before my lifestyle change
After a few years of running
For people trying to make a change....getting up and moving is the single initial goal anyone should have. If you don't exercise but want to start, then simply go for a walk. Note the distance and increase from there. Jog a little. Run/walk for a short while. Any increase in activity is good and burns more calories than you did previously. Over time ability and endurance will come naturally. By that I mean you measure what you can do comfortably and set real goals based on those levels. Don't push it. If you got into running/walking for health reasons stay in it for those reasons.

The Run 169 Town group is perfect for exercise and fun. Great group of runners and walkers enjoying weekend activities that happens to include exercise. Easy, simple,not intimidating, and motivating.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

15 turned into 20

Saturday is typically when I do long runs. Sometimes I start from my house early and other times I head out to various running venues. I'm in a high mileage challenge and decided to get in 15 miles to keep close to the leaders. So I headed out to the Farmington Heritage Trail in Unionville where there is a flat "rails to trails" path for miles. Good for long runs without the headaches of traffic or technical trails. It was just a week ago that I ran the Hartford Marathon therefore I expected to maintain a slow and easy pace. It was early and well before sunrise. Bears are seen here but being prepared with a headlamp and pepper spray I took off.
5:45 in Unionville
It was dark and cold. I wore gloves because my hands are most sensitive to cold. No hat and regualr shorts are fine until about 25f but my hands start hurting after 35f.

I began with a slow pace at about 12min/mile. Gradually I picked up to 11min/mile which was my target. A couple of miles in I was feeling OK. My mind and body started to urge me to go a lot longer than 15 miles. Soon I was confident that 18 would be doable and 20 was with in sight. As the miles piled up the sun lit up the path. The temps became comfortable and I was feeling great. I went up through Collinsville and Canton. The perfect weather combined with fall colors provided some great scenes.
At 14 miles I was back to where I started and determined I had the energy and the time to continue to 20 miles. I felt good and was surprised since seven days earlier I was doing a marathon. The final time was 3h 53s. Pace average was 11:38.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Blisters, running, training

So....a week after the Hartford Marathon and my blisters are being blisters. Fun as usual. At first I didn't know I had any as they are between and under toes. After Sunday the relentless pain started. Popping them always brings relief so I did it again. They are slowly getting better but my daily running streak is probably slowing down any healing that should be taking place. Speaking of daily was day # 612 in a row. The Run Every Day streak website tells me that 612 is more than 1.6 years or about 2% of my life. Hmmm.  In some ways that is a lot but compared to other streakers out there it is nothing. There are "hundreds" of runners with decade long streaks. The longest started his streak in the month of May 1969!! Before the original Woodstock! Being that I'm almost 63 years old I will never get there unless I live to 118 years old.

This time of year is always odd for me. My big marathon is done(Hartford) and a lull in focus begins. Laziness with training, diet, and goals sets in. I know I should be working hard for a few big races but who cares? This happens every year. I'll get it together soon...maybe by tomorrow. But it will kick in and I'll do OK at the Roxbury Half Marathon and then the Full Marathon. 

For the rest of the winter I need a goal. Such a goal has been lacking in recent years. Alas a goal has materialized! That is the Cape Cod Frozen Fat Ass 50K run on February 4th. Cold, miserable, tough, but crazy race. Only a few take it on. Eight finishers last year and three hypothermia cases. Sounds like fun! As the website says..."This is not a race for wussies". I can do it as running in extreme conditions is always one of my favorite things to do. So...starting my training tomorrow.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

2016 Hartford Marathon

Marathon #10 is in the books. Ran the Eversource Hartford Marathon yesterday for the 5th time. It was my 10th marathon but my 16th race of 26.2 miles or more when my ultramarathons are included. My chip time 4:47:52. A bit slower than expected but not my worst. I'm happy to be under 5 hours at 62(almost 63) years old.
Britton cheered me on at the finish.
My recent foot problems made me wonder what this marathon would be like. I had twisted it badly a few weeks earlier. I had run 15 miles without issue so I figured it would last the full 26.2. During the race I felt a couple of shots of pain but not bad and not too often. In the end it was OK. Ironically today I ran 5 miles with no pain whatsoever. Great news.

I started  the marathon as usual with a small breakfast of cereal and toast 3 hours before the start. Drank some UCAN 1 hour before. I got there early(5:10am) to secure the traditional parking spot across from the Bushnell. Went out for an easy run/jog around Bushnell Park just to loosen up. As the start time approached I met my 169er friends and my brother and sister in law, Mike and Denise Raymond. Denise was in town to run the half marathon. As usual the 169 crowd took tons of pictures and joked around before the start. Eventually it was time to line up in front of the capitol. I started farther back this year because I wanted to start slow. Maybe a 10:00-10:30 pace. I finally have that under control and do not start too fast. Unfortunately I was so far back the congestion was unreal. I had walkers, groups of friends, kids, etc all slowing down to 12:00 per mile. As we got to Albany avenue, about 1/3 mile out, there were still walkers in front of me. These people need to start farther back. Or I guess I should start farther up! Next year I will make sure this doesn't happen again.
Some of the 169 crowd.
I was keeping a good pace all through mile 15. From mile 6 to 13 I was hyped up and having a blast. Fooling around with the photographers and enjoying my music. This was the first year that running in South Windsor to the 17 mile turn seemed easy and fast. Years past this section was usually a drag and wore on me. I must be getting used to the course. As I approached mile 20 I was clearly running out of gas...probably hitting the wall. I did make sure to have three gels at mile 5,10, and 15 which helped me. After mile 23 the end was approaching. I got a little 2nd wind. On the bridge going into Hartford at mile 25 I took off. The music was pounding and I felt good. Passing other runners was easy and fueled my enthusiasm. I rounded the last turn to the arch and saw my daughter and grandson. Britton almost ran the final 500 feet with me but chickened out. I crossed the finish line to complete my 5th Hartford. Felt good. This is my favorite race.
The in laws. Down from New Hapshire to run the half marathon.
So today I went for 5 miles which was easy and peaceful. And as usual the thoughts of "what's next" start. I have the Roxbury half marathon and Roxbury full marathon as my next big races. Time to start planning and training. I will be back at Hartford in 2017.