Saturday, December 9, 2017

Running After The Move

We've been in our new home for about a month. Love the place and the proximity to great running. I'm 1/10th of a mile from the rails to trails and 3/10ths of a mile from great flat neighborhoods. From day one I was surprised how many runners are out and about at 4:30am. A runner can be seen at any given moment and for good reason. Canton roads are runner friendly.

The streets are well lit and either wide or with sidewalks. The Canton High School track is a mile away. Nepaug Reservoir is 2.5 miles away and has beautiful views. Ran into my first Canton bear there. Each morning I have a variety of routes to choose from therefore no mindless repeating of the same routes.
Sunrise from Nepaug Reservoir. 
The picture above is an example of what I see on runs. This beautiful vista is 4 miles from my door. Easy 8 mile loop with views! I'm a happy runner.

Now that we are settled in I am slowly resuming my old running habits. Good long runs on the weekday mornings and picking up some races on weekends. Today I ran the Snowstorm Classic 10K in Springfield MA. Nice course through a great park. Did well with a 59:42 finish. Met a few friends from 169 there as well.
Snowstorm Classic 10K

Starting to scope out races for 2018. Age reality and common sense are telling me to cut back on the very technical trail races. I'll be doing some but must be conservative or risk an end to my running streak which is 1033 days old today.

Planned races....I registered for Colchester Half and Lake Waramaug 50K. Probably will be doing many new races in new towns. Most will be picked as the weeks come and go. Should be a big running year.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

2017 Hartford Marathon

Two weeks have passed since the Eversource Hartford Marathon. This may sound odd but marathons are becoming easier. That doesn't mean I'm getting better, but to prep and run them is in the category of "just another race". For most runners including myself, marathons are life events that take tons of training. Even though this was my 12th it still required tons of training but I'm used to that. My body is used to that.
The Run 169 Towns pre race group shot
Throughout the summer I worked hard on the roads and greatly reduced my trail runs. While reviewing past marathons I noticed my training was not as intense or thorough. Especially last year. No 20 milers and only a handful of 15+ milers. No speed work at all. Therefore 2017 resulted in more work and better quality runs. I did four 20+ training runs, weeks that included real speed work, and all road. At 63 years old I could coast through a race but needed to beat the 5 hour mark. That is a new limit I have set for myself. Keep it at 5 or under and I'm a happy guy.

On race day I finally have a good food routine. Coffee with a light breakfast of cereal, one slice of bread, and a banana at least 2.5 hours before the race. I made two bottles of Tailwind drink. One before the race and the other during the race. I was well hydrated and carb loaded from Thursday and Friday meals. This routine has me ready at start time and basically no bathroom issues during the race.

During the race my goal pace was 10:45. As usual I had to struggle to keep it slower that 10:30. The crowds and excitement translate into fast running. I have learned over the years that controlling it early helps the endurance later. I drank plenty of water at each water stop. My Tailwind consumption started after 10 miles so as to have energy in the second half. At about 10 miles I felt good. So good that I picked up the pace a bit. Then that long South Windsor stretch was beginning. It's always the tough part of Hartford for me. This year it wasn't bad. I tried not to think about or look for the turn around. I just ran and the time flew by. 18, 19, 20 miles and I still felt great. The wall was anticipated and accepted which hit me hard before 21. I struggled to maintain a decent pace but kept going on. A few walk breaks were needed but short distances.

As always the adrenaline kicked in after passing the Old State House. I headed around the corner towards the arch. Crowd cheering here is always the best and a real motivator. It's at this point the personal reward for all the training is received. I heard the announcer say my name and sprinted to the finish. Number 12 was in the books! Finish time was 4:53 which is OK for me at this point. Sub 5:00.
Marathon #12 is in the books
One added feature this year was I participated in the Quinnipiac Marathon study. Several days of blood and lab work, heart monitoring, weigh ins, etc. Glad to help out. I was the only "old guy" and repeat lab rat this year.
Lab Rat for Quinnipiac

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Run For The Woods 10K

Today was the 6th annual Run For The Woods 5K/10K at Sessions Woods Park in Burlington CT. This was my fourth time running it as a race. Living so close to the park allows me to run these trails weekly. It is always fun to run normal local trails as a race. It helps to know the terrain to take advantage of the less technical sections. Friends from the CT Trailmixers and Run 169 Towns were there. Lee Bradley joined in the fun today as well. He doesn't do trails frequently so it was great to see him take on the challenge.
Pre race with a friendly bear.
I normally run these trails at a casual pace. Today I pushed hard and flew through many of the easy sections. Sessions Woods has a varied mix of trail types. Some are wide and flat. Others are brutal tight single track with tons of roots and small rocks. By chance the weather was oustanding today. Cool(maybe too cool for some) with temps in the low 50's. Crisp air with a slight breeze. Perfect to run hard and stay cool. Right from the start I felt good. Legs were strong and I was loaded with energy. On the more technical sections I danced and weaved over the small boulders with surprising ease. Around mile 5 I was starting to slow down but saved enough for a strong finish. My time was 1:10 which is what my previous times were. Consistency!

It was good to get in a solid trail race since I haven't run many this year. It was also my 942nd day of consecutive running. Next challenge....the Hogs Back Half Marathon in three weeks.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Anchor Down Ultra 2017

Run 169 Town crew.
I've been waiting a few days to absorb and analyze my experiences at the Anchor Down Ultra this past weekend. This was my second year at the race. Last year I completed 51 miles which was actually a disappointment due to the fact I hoped to finish 100K. I wasn't going to enter this year but I needed to redeem myself. It was sold out but I signed up anyway. I was placed on the wait list and was eventually accepted in. That was the trigger to train harder and make this year much better than last. So as the summer started, so did my training.

First thing to do was review 2016 and determine what needed to be corrected. Looking at my stats last year it was apparent I really didn't train. Longest run was 14 miles and only one time. Most runs were 8,9,12 miles. This news shocked me. How did I not train? I know better! Therefore starting in June I was doing 20 mile runs almost every other week. Many 12-15 milers as well. I stayed off the trails and focused on a steady past while at the same time worked on fuel and nutrition.
Going into Anchor Down last Friday I was confident and ready. My goal was 72 miles. I tapered properly, drank plenty of fluids for two days prior, and ate relatively healthy with a higher percentage of carbs. I even slept later on Friday and tried to sleep Friday afternoon prior to the start. I setup my tent and supplies while greeting my friends especially from the Run 169 Towns group. Impressive to see so many attempt these longer races.

Tent city where runners have personal aid setups
As 7:00pm approached on Friday it was apparent we would see some rain. That rapidly changed to "expect downpours and lightening". In the 30 minutes before the start the usual greetings of old friends and group shots were taking place. At 6:50ish we started to line up and listen to last minute instructions. The RD had a lightening policy and it appeared he may need to use it. As the singer started the National Anthem the clouds opened up. It poured. Strangely enough many ran for cover under trees to avoid getting wet. What? Did they not realize they were minutes from starting an overnight race completely in the rain? After the anthem and a quick countdown we were off into the woods and massive muck. upon reaching harder trails the rain had built up enough to create small rivers. Then it happened. A quarter mile in the woods a loud crack of lightening came down. Then more after that. Were we gonna get struck? Were we going to die on the trail? Will they pause the race? Most expected the race to be paused. As we finished the first loop the RD decided to keep it going as the lightening moved away. After loop 1 it became dark fast and we settled into a messy, cold, and wet night of running. The rain continued for at least 4 hours and maybe more. Lightening came and went but without the intensity at the start.
Conditions early in the race. Photo credit to the official photographer Jon Packer
I was maintaining a 13:00/mile pace and running well. No tripping, sliding, or falls. I was on track through 12 miles. As the evening went on I started to weaken. My feet and ankles were very sore. Not normal and not expected. I was taking in fluids and nutrition just fine and started salt tabs and electrolytes(NUUN) as well. I could tell something wasn't right. Not critical but knew my pace would slow down. Then my mind starts over slow can I run to still reach 72 miles? Should I change my nutrition intake? Should I walk more? Should I stop for a long rest and regroup? I spent so much time thinking I hadn't noticed the time flying by. It was 2:00am.
My supplies for the race inside my tent to stay dry.
When back at the main aid station I asked for Ibuprofen. Thought that maybe my feet and ankles were swollen and it would help that and the pain. At 2:45 I could tell it was working! I felt better and had some good long fast paced miles. That got me through until the sun came up. The day was clearing up as I entered a "the worst was over" way of thinking. During the early morning I could feel the weakness coming back. Almost light headed but not faint. Odd. More over thinking started up again. On completion of the 16th loop I took a long break. Sat down and just relaxed. I needed 10 miles to reach 50 miles and the medal therefore the mission for the day was to take it easy and get to 50. Easy right? I did another loop and sat down again because I was definitely weak. After a long while I started loop #18. Only two more after that and I had my medal. I had 9 hours to do it. No big deal right? That 18th lap ended and I felt real weak. Couldn't figure it out. Drank plenty of fluids and ate a ton. Another long break then up for loop #19. I started into the woods and the mud, which had dried up a bit. After about 1/10th of a mile I stopped. Felt so weak I wondered if I was going to pass out. My inner self said to was OK. I turned and walked back to the start line. I sat down so my mind could have a cage match fight about stopping/not stopping. I needed only two more loops to have a respectable distance! Finally my common sense helped me come to the conclusion that my race was over. I got up and made my way to the time monitor. Quietly and sadly I told him I was stopping. It hurt to say it. It hurt bad. Especially after all my training and high expectations. Returning to my tent and chair I wondered if I did the right thing. I sat there in misery. Slowly I turned that sad and ugly moment into a positive. I am 63 years old and have run many races. This was another ultra. Maybe not the distance planned for but still a 44 mile ultra. I was satisfied and felt good. There is always next year.
Tired , dirty, and devastated
I had the most miles of any Grand Master in the race(only 2 of us in the 24 hour). But hey...that means I won! Lou Loban was the other Grand Master and he finished 36 miles. Not bad since he is within days of being 70 and has really bad knees. Always a great guy and inspiration. Within a 30 minute period I went from being completely devastated to feeling great. I headed out to the hotel to get cleaned up so I could return and watch the 100 milers finish up. Those runners completing 24 hours are amazing. Some completed 70 miles and other did more than 100. Many were in remarkable shape considering the conditions I knew too well. Congrats to all of them for an outstanding performance.
1st place for Grand Masters of the 24 hour race. Brought the smile back.
My final stats were: 18 loops completed. Total miles =  44.10. Average pace was 19:50

Is the 2018 Anchor Down on the radar? You bet it is!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Another 20 Mile Training Run

Another week and another 20 mile training run. So goes the schedule before the Anchor Down Ultramarathon in August. I ran a lot this week....75 miles total. Many mornings resulted in 10 mile runs. My leg conditioning has improved and feel great because of all the extra long runs. All this hard work is to end up with a better result at ADU this year. I expect to do much better than in 2016 for a variety of reasons. I compared training this year and last which was an eye opener:

1. In 2016 I had no 20 mile runs in training. This year I have 3 already.
2. I had only 8 10-20 mile runs prior to ADU and this year I have 9 already.
3. Total mileage this year exceeds 2016.

Therefore my legs and body are much better prepared for endurance and efficiency. My fluid and nutrition intake is better planned than in the past. Other prep is better as well such as sleep, general nutrition, and my head meaning my psychological state of mind..

Another observation was that last year much of my training was on trails especially Sessions Woods. Anchor Down is nothing like Sessions because it is mostly flat with some asphalt. My recent runs in the Farmington Flats mimic Anchor Down. I believe this will help especially training my body for that specific course. I'm really looking forward to the ADU this year. Can't be any worse? Right?

Today's run: