Monday, February 12, 2018

Winter Activities

January was a month or turmoil and excitement. Not in regards to running but the sale of our former home. Free time in recent months has been consumed with clearing out the old house while getting settled in the new. Little time remained during the weekend days for any races or group runs therefore I continued doing early morning running. January was the annual Winter Warrior Challenge. This year I completed 315 miles. Basically the same as last year but with a few extra miles. The weather this year was worse than 2017. Colder, more snow. I finished about 13th place in the state. There is now way to keep up with the younger runners who had 500+ miles.

During January I continued my local running. Found a new trail in Collinsville on the west side of the river. I named it the Calvary Cemetary Trail although its an old rail way path. Interesting but only about 2 miles long. I'm enjoying the long runs down Rt 179 and around to New Road. That loop is exactly 13 miles and great for half marathon training.

I also had some interesting outings up to Nepaug State Forest and Heublein Tower. One big achievement was reaching the 3rd anniversary of my running streak. My run on February 10th completed 3 years of consecutive daily runs outside.

It's midway through February. The days are getting longer and the weather less severe. I'm starting to work on faster times and longer distances. I always enjoy winter running but always welcome the easier spring conditions and race season.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Norfolk and Ragged Mountain

It was a busy running weekend. Saturday and Sunday runs included roads and trails. Saturday was my second time running the Norfolk 10 Mile Road Race. A great course on country roads that is always cold and challenging because it's loaded with hills. Some easy but some are torture. No way to classify this as "rolling hills". Included in the route are some dirt roads which happened to be covered with snow this year. Many 169 members were there, area runners, and few expert regulars. My finish time was 1:44. Not bad for a 64 year old but not good enough to place. In keeping with tradition many of us headed to the pub for lunch and the unique PEZ awards.
Pre race 169 member picture
Sunday was a change to trail running. The CT Trailmixers organized a sunrise run on Ragged Mountain in Southington. The cold 12F temps at 6:30 didn't deter anyone. About 30 runners showed up. The trails were covered with about 3 inches of powdery snow. Perfect conditions as far as I'm concerned and without a cloud in the sky. . With headlamps glowing we headed out on the long incline hoping to reach a lookout as the sun peeked over the horizon. We made our way to the first lookout but were too early as the sun was still not showing but a rainbow of colors painted the sky. After some photo opps and joking around we headed out for the next higher lookout. As we reached the cliff the sun began to creep over the horizon.
Can't beat a great sunrise. It never gets old.
As usual a beautiful sight to watch. After enjoying daybreak we continued on our way. On the west side of the cliffs we came to the large plateau for a break to enjoy the views. Lots of pictures at this point including the obligatory "jump" shot the Trailmixers always do. Attempted a few and one came out perfectly.
From this point on we ran down the north side and back to the parking lot. Twisting and turning on a non-technical trail in thick forest. Near the end we came upon the frozen waterfall which signaled the end of our run. Overall a great 5+ mile trail run. Hard to beat the perfect snow cover, gradual decline, and the laughs in this section. People think were nuts but don't realize the wonders of nature they are missing.

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.