May 12, 2019

Recent Trail Running

So far 2019 has been more fun than 2018. Why? Not sure but hitting the trails and entering trail races has a lot to do with it. At the end of last year I caught myself starting to give up on trails for no reason other than " I too old for trails?". One run changed that thought. I have mentioned before that a Penwood run with the CT Trailmixers convinced me I needed to stay in the woods.

I'll share a few recent outings. Last week I ran a pleasure run on the Metacomet in Penwood and the Spring Fling endurance race in Southington. Both wet and muddy but still great to be outside. In the picture below on the Metacomet I was joined by a deer near the Heublein Tower.
Sights on my trail run.
On that same run I came upon a ledge with incredible wild flowers and flowering trees. The entire scene was magical with the mist in the air and other colorful growth in the background. The picture below is OK but doesn't do it justice. Experiences like these are never the same on film or in a story. One just needs to get out there.
The day after the trail run was the annual Spring Fling by the CT Trailmixers. It's a 3 mile loop with a mix of technical and non-technical trails. This year was the added challenge of extensive rain before and during the race. As expected it was a mudfest. The most mud I have ever experienced in a race. At the end of the day I completed 5 loops for a total distance of 15+ miles. Some went on to 30-55 miles. Amazing in those conditions.

Muddy trails
Mud everywhere which was slippery like ice.

This week I also ran the Eastern Trail in Kennebunk Maine and random logging roads in New Hartford. Much easier and less dramatic but still trails. I'm lucky to have such great trail options close by and with great scenery. 

Unmarked old dirt road in New Hartford.

Nepaug State Forest
Always impressed with logs covered in moss
Trails are the best. One of my new "things" on runs is to stop once away from civilization and its sounds to just enjoy the solitude and nature sounds. In a busy life it's the one moment the stress leaves me and all is good. It goes without sayin that I'll be hitting the trails for a long time to come.

Apr 27, 2019

The big day is almost here

Tomorrow is my big test. The Jack Bristol Lake Waramaug 50K Ultramarathon. Every year since 2013 I have run one of the events at Lake Waramaug. This year is no different and I have entered the 50K race. Unlike previous years, I have put more effort in preparing for the challenge. Previously my best performance was in 2014 when I finished the 50K in 5:59.
Lake Waramaug Jack Bristol 50K
The picture above is one of my favorite moments. My goal was to finish under 6:00. Barely made it with a 5:59 and captured on film! I was happy that someone took this picture. 

This year after the Winter Warrior Challenge in January(which killed my legs), I evaluated my physical condition to determine what was needed to have a good running season. Even though 65 years old I felt I had a few good runs left in me. So I decided to aim for some faster times in various race distances. To increase my speed I went back to basics. Try to lose a few pounds by eating better, mix in some shorter but faster training runs, incorporate more hill training, and do regular tempo runs at a race pace. 

To shed a few pounds it required some changes in eating habits. Due to the fact I ran so many miles I had gradually started eating more junk. I was loving it but definitely wasn't doing me any good. I have cut back on the real bad stuff like ice cream, donuts, and cookies. By taking out a few hundred calories a day my weight did go down.

To increase my speed I made a few changes to training runs. I warm up before starting each run. Just a small jog of about a quarter mile to loosen me up. Makes a big difference in overall pace of the run because I'm not spending the first mile getting up to speed. For no specific reason I have made 10:00/mile my maximum goal pace the target of runs under 8 miles in length. If under 5 miles I shoot for 9:00/mile. These targets have helped me maintain a good pace, burn more calories, and train my body to maintain a decent speed.

Recent runs and races show that the training has worked. In Old Lyme my 10K race was good enough to place first in the 60-69 age group. At the Traprock 17K I was the first 60+ to cross the finish line with a 2:30 time. Better than I had done in the past. Many of my training runs have an average pace well under 10:00/mile and some in the low 9s.

Sunday will be telling. It will be outstanding to beat my 5:59 previous best for the 50K. I think I can do it and have made 5:45 my target for the day which means my overall average pace needs to be 11:08. I'll know in 29 hours.

Mar 30, 2019

Spring Is Finally Here

This blog was due for a few updates on my recent running efforts. After being teased with warm days over the past few weeks I think the worst is over and real springtime weather has arrived. The picture below was just 14 days ago. The Nepaug Reservoir was frozen solid with snow covering the surrounding landscape. Beautiful but the kind of day my beard would be covered with ice. Each year I wait anxiously for those conditions to arrive but I always want spring to arrive.
Nepaug Reservoir on my run

My running streak continues. Big milestone recently by surpassing 1500 consecutive days of running 1 or more miles each day. That's 4.1 years. Hopefully I can keep it going well into my 70s. I'm usually at place #704 on the streak registry below.

 Last week on Sunday I ran the Boston Blowout 10K. Weather was good and definitely called for shorts but snow piles and ice sections remained obstacles on the course. I did well with a finish time of 56:24. That was a pace of 9:02. 

Today the temps were in the 40's but the roads and trails were clear. It was foggy early and great conditions for a run. I put in 10 miles along the Farmington River at a leisurely pace.
Collinsville CT Bridge

In recent weeks I have worked more on speed, ran hills, and tried real tempo runs as preparation for the Lake Waramaung 50K. I hope to finish that in six hours. Its been a few years since I have done that but also hadn't trained well. All looks to be on track for a decent 50K this year but first I must successfully complete the Traprock 17K. This is a great trail run and somewhat famous in New England. The main focus of this outing is the tough 50K version. I stick to one loop of the course which is 17K. Too tough for me and too close to Waramaung. I have run this many times but last year I sat it out. I was in a funk last year caused by my crazy head worrying about age and falling. No real reason for such thoughts so recently I came to my senses. Never had issues other than a few wobbly steps. Maybe an occasional fall which is almost always on open dirt sections by catching a root. I love trail running and should be able to do it for many years to come. Just have to be a bit slower and more careful. There are many trail runners older than me.

Now that Spring is here the race season truly begins providing opportunities to check my new training and get out on the trails.