Monday, March 16, 2020


Just a quick (and maybe final update) for people who have reached out (some on here and a lot offline) after my last blog post.

I had a follow up CT scan in February (after having the PET scan which identified a couple of concerning spots in my chest between my lungs).  Initially the cardio-thoracic surgeons wanted to wait a couple of months before having another scan. They wanted to see if whatever was showing up on the PET scan was or was not due to my pulmonary emboli in October.  The scan came back with no change unfortunately. If anything, what was there was getting bigger.

I had a consult again with the pulmonologist in Portland and she got me right into the surgeon's office again in Scarborough (on the same day). They reviewed my scans going back 5-7 years and could track the growths in and around my thymus area which were steadily getting larger. They suggested I needed to have a thymectomy and remove the entire gland and all the fatty tissue and growths that were happening. Then, they could biopsy them without the danger of spreading if it was cancerous.

I went in for surgery on 2/26. They used the 'davinci robot' method of going in the side of my chest with 3 smaller incisions (rather than cracking through my ribs in the middle of my chest which would have been a much more invasive surgery). They put in a camera and two arms of the robot and took everything out. There were 2 tumors in there. One was attached to the pericardium (membrane around my heart) and one was attaching to my diaphragm. They took the entire thing out (the thymus, which in my case never went away and got larger as I got older), all the fatty tissue, both notes that were of concern, and a small piece of my pericardium (which the surgeon promised me I 'wouldn't miss').

I spent the rest of Wednesday into Thursday afternoon in recovery at Maine Med. The worst part aside from the deep chest pain was the drainage tube that was hooked into my side and up into my chest. Pulling that out the next day was awful.

I had Kristin and my dad come and get me and drive me home. 90 minutes of bumpy roads made for an uncomfortable trip. I also couldn't cough or god forbid, sneeze without serious pain. Later in the afternoon (once home), I was sitting in a chair and started to get really sore. I was on heavy meds and it wasn't working any longer. The local was wearing off and I was starting to realize that no matter how I was sitting, laying, walking around, etc. I couldn't resolve any of the pain. The pain was intensifying and going straight through my chest and into my back. It started to remind me of the exact pain I was having when I had my blood clots in October. By about 9 or 10pm I could no longer stand it. The oxycodone was having no effect at all. I had Kristin round up the girls and we hit the ER again.

In the ER at Memorial, I had the doctor who initially triaged me in the ER back in October for my clots. They got me hooked up to some IV and I got a dose of medicine to calm it down just enough for me to be comfortable. They put me through another CT scan. This time, it showed some CO2 in my chest and lower abdomen. This was from when they were deflating/inflating my lungs to do the surgery. Typically that wears off by walking around, etc. in recovery. But because I didn't get a room and was left in the recovery area all night (hospital was full), I didn't get out of bed for about 13 hours. I was literally discharged without having had any of that CO2 worked off (or as much as would have been needed). At this point, another doctor came in and he was the one who was assigned to me when I was in the ICU in October. He got on the phone with the surgeon to talk about the situation. He was reluctant to have me stay in the hospital. He confirmed the presence of the CO2 but indicated that the surgeon wasn't really all that concerned about the amount that was still present and said it should wear off. He also confirmed from the new CT scan that I had no new clots (as I thought I might have had due to coming off the blood thinners for surgery). He basically told me that because they didn't have an 'expert' on staff to deal with me and what I just had for the surgery, that they didn't feel comfortable holding me for 'pain management'. He wanted to get rid of me so I was basically discharged and told to just take more pain meds and maybe use a heating pad. I was kind of surprised but I really had other course to take.  They did offer that they could 'transfer' me to Maine Med, back where I had the surgery.  That would have been a nice ambulance ride that my insurance company would have loved to see.  I opted out.

So we came back home about midnight. It's funny that the hospital doesn't have an 'expert' on staff that specializes in what I was going through...but neither does my house.  Last I checked, I don't have a doctor living with me. So they rather would have me go home, then help me any further with my pain in the hospital. I was a bit disappointed to say the least and by the time I got home, all I could do was sit and stare at the floor in a chair and try not to think about some of the worst pain I have ever had to sit through. The only pain that I've ever had that was worse was when I had the clots in the hospital.

By about 6am I started to feel better. I started taking extra meds and it started to work. The surgeon also called in some dilaudid for me which really helped. That stuff is pretty strong. By Monday (so 5 days after surgery) I was able to completely stop the pain medicine all together and haven't had to take any since.

I had a follow up with my doctor and the surgeon a couple weeks ago (a week after the surgery) and the surgeon told me (with a slight grin) that quote 'that second doctor in the ER wanted nothing to do with you'. Pretty disappointing because I swear I was one of the only ones in the ER when I was there and I have inside insight into the operations over there. The amount of people that go into the ER (in the pre-COVID-19 days) was not overwhelming by means. I would have been better off in the hospital than home, that's for sure. And all the documentation I took home indicated to go to the hospital if I was having complications. Full disclosure but I DID call the surgeon's office before going to the ER. They paged the surgeon and he called me to discuss. He suggested that if I felt ANY worse than I did when I was in recovery, then I needed to go to the ER. Since I felt 1000x worse, I followed his advice.  He was great to work with and I'm glad to have had the surgery with him and his team.  The doctors at Memorial were also great for the most part and that team over there literally saved my life in October (for which I'm forever grateful).  I was just a bit disappointed that they really didn't want anything to do with me literally hours after I got home from surgery at their sister hospital.  At the very least, I could have gotten enough of an IV to try to get some sleep.  They could have wheeled me into the hallway.  I wouldn't have cared.  There was no one there.   But instead, I had to sit at home in excruciating pain for another 6 hours.  The transfer over to Maine Med. was unrealistic.

My primary care doctor did tell me that in his 38 years of practice, he's never had someone get their entire thymus removed. So that made me feel special. The surgeon told me that they do about 40 per year at Maine Med.

The best news since then was that the biopsies came back negative. Everything was benign. But it's good that they removed them now, otherwise I would have been in trouble later. I kind of got lucky that they found this in the scans because it was completely unrelated to my clots.

So now I'm done, at least for the time being. I don't have another doctor's visit until the summer (at least for now).

Hopefully this is the last time I'll have to do any sort of updates like this. I appreciate everyone's concern and kind words that reached out either on here or text/email, etc.  Since I didn't close the loop on here, I figured I would do so and let everyone know who didn't already ask me about an update.

I hope everyone is doing well now and your families are all safe and sound in this rather strange time  we are now in.  I wouldn't want to be in the hospital now. I think the timing of all this was spot on for me.  By the time I went back in for the followups, the masks and sanitizers were in full effect.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Back From the Dead, Hopefully

I’m not sure who is still out there that cares enough to check into this dark corner internet but I figured I’d work on a post to see if I can kickstart some sort of motivation to ‘blog’. Blogs seem a little old school nowadays but that’s probably why I have always liked having this space to rant and rave about things that only I deem to be important.... place I can post what I want and not have to deal with making it into a discussion thread or a back and forth.  A place where I can put a bunch of thoughts all together separated by three 'dots'... like that... and think that's an acceptable way to write.

As far as 2019 went, it was a great year for my family life.  I had a great summer with the girls (all 3 of them). The two youngest ones are turning into fine young ladies. The third is my lovely wife of 9 + years and who I've been with now for half my life.  I’ve seen a lot of growth with the kids this year. We had a great summer at the beach (most days) and hitting up events and the kids’ favorite ‘theme parks’ from the seacoast to northern NH. As far as ‘running’ goes, I had an ‘OK’ Spring of just running volume with little to no workouts (my usual approach over the last 6 or 7 years). I started racing regularly for a month and a half or so and started progressing very slowly in the right direction but it ended up being more trouble than it was worth for me. As a wise man told me, with running it’s all about balance. I had no real balance with the running/racing and family/work, etc. ….aka real life. I was forcing the running and was stressing (for really no reason) when I couldn’t balance it with my real-life duties. I wasn’t enjoying myself as I used to, and trying to maintain a racing schedule became more of a hassle than something I really wanted to do. It all came to a head in May when I tried to go to the Concord Rock n’ Race 5k midweek and ended up not even making it to Rt. 93 because of traffic. I had to turn around after 90 minutes in the car and head home because I wouldn't have made it in time. That was kind of it. I stopped running for a while after that. It just came to the point where I’d almost rather be doing anything else…literally anything else.

I ran sporadically in June/July/August/September when the opportunity hit me.  I was meeting up with Darin Brown for runs here and there but never more than a few times a week and usually at the last minute if I saw him pull into the beach parking lot when we were there and I just happened to have my running shoes and shorts with me.

In late September/October I started to get the itch again to get out there. I ran some trails and roads more consistently as the girls went back to school. In late October on a run up in the higher parts of town, I had to stop for a bit.  It was weird.  I felt a bit off and things weren’t exactly right. I thought at first I was just tired that day or maybe still out of shape. But I had been running with some consistency by that time, and had some previous good hilly runs that weren’t as bad, so it was certainly concerning.  I cut the run short and turned for home. A day or two later (not sure as I wasn’t keeping track of runs that closely) I met up with Darin for some road miles and felt horrible right away. I remember apologizing to him for the pace during the first quarter mile. We hit trails and I was pretty quiet. I was struggling to keep my breathing under control at a pretty slow pace. I was also noticing that deep breaths were starting to really hurt. It wasn’t that cold out so I was a little unsure as to why I was having this problem. The next day, I met Darin again from my house and we hit an 8 mile loop (the previous day had been also about 8 miles) and we hit a 7 min mile in some flat trail sections in the middle. I was feeling like it was sub 6. I really had to focus on the pace to keep with Darin which usually I don’t have to do on normal runs like this. At this point my breathing was an issue even when I wasn’t running. Deep breaths (especially through my nose) were painful in my lungs.

The next 2 days I didn’t run. I also didn’t sleep….at all. I could no longer lay down. Even on my back, sitting up in a sitting position in bed was not doable. I started to have severe pain in my sides and chest. It was unbearable. When I got through the first of the two sleepless nights, I managed to get through the day at work. When I was sitting in a chair and up and awake, it was manageable but once I started to get tired, it was miserable. I couldn’t relax at all in any position. I couldn’t put any pressure on my chest, back, or sides.

That second day after 2 sleepless nights (it was a Thursday), I went into the ER. By this point, I was basically in tears sitting in the room waiting for the doctor. They took blood. They came back in and the first thing the doctor said is that he wanted to get me right into a CT scan and that it was a ‘good thing’ I came in today. When I was in the CT scan, I had to lay down. I was literally screaming n pain. I had to put my arms above my head while in the machine. I was crying like a baby while trying to stay on the table. The woman doing the CT scan was trying to calm me down the whole time but there really was nothing she could do. Once it was finished, I basically collapsed off the table and onto the floor. They scraped me up and wheeled me back to the room.

While waiting in the room, tears streaming down my face and still unable to breathe without severe pain, Kristin came in. She knew I went to the ER but was trying to get ahold of me and couldn’t. I had my phone in my jacket and wasn’t able to get to it. She found me and came in right before the doctor came back. He came in and broke the news to me that my lungs were full of blood clots and I was extremely lucky I came in when I did. He gave me the rundown on what they were going to do but basically broke the news to me that this was life threatening and I had to be admitted. I had suffered a pulmonary embolism (or emboli because I had more clots than they could count). Once the dust cleared on that a bit, Kristin broke the news to me that at the exact time I went the ER, my brother had a heart attack and was awaiting transport to Mass General.  What a day.

 I was then taken down and admitted. I was hooked up to a blood thinner IV and placed in a room where all I could do is sit in a chair and take shallow breaths and focus on not stirring up the pain any more than it already was. They started giving me morphine and other pain killers. It was a mess. It didn’t seem like any of the pain medicines (even the morphine drip) was helping. It would take a small bit of the edge off, but that was it. I had moments sitting in that room on Thursday, where the pain would subside enough where I could talk to my parents and Kristin on the phone, etc. I would feel slightly better and then it would hit me like a truck again.

That first night, I had to ‘sleep’ (because I was exhausted by this point) sitting in a chair, hunched over, with my head on a small table (the wheeled table you eat off of). So I was sitting with my head almost in my lap but on a table…sort of how you’d sleep on an airplane sometimes. It sucked. I would drift off for a bit but wake up continuously throughout the night.  I had to keep getting serious pain killers regularly so I wasn't screaming in pain when I breathed.

In the morning, shortly after eating, it happened. Out of nowhere, I had the worst pains of my life start up in my left side next to my heart.  I stood up, still attached to the IV blood thinner, and couldn’t even communicate at this point because I couldn’t breathe.  I felt my eyes well up and I was frozen in the middle of the room.  Fortunately right at that point, the woman who was coming in to collect the food tray saw me and asked me if I was OK. All I could do was shake my head. She ran out and got the nurse.  The next thing I knew, there were no fewer than 7 or 8 people (nurses, doctors, etc) in the room. All gathered around me and all hands on deck. I was screaming in pain and couldn’t take any air in at this point. Every breath was excruciating. It literally felt like someone was taking a huge fork and jabbing me in my ribs as hard and as deep as they could stick it, and just tearing me open. I had people holding me down, while another nurse had a breathing device ready to put on me (it was right under my nose/mouth but I remember the doctor told her not to put it on me yet). I had another nurse with an O2 meeter in my face showing me the numbers. Usually I’m around 98-99 for oxygen saturation. I was in the 70s and it was dropping. They were basically screaming at me to focus on breathing and bring the numbers up. I got to the point where I couldn’t take even a sliver of air in my nose or mouth without the worst pain of my life. Breathing = excruciating pain. It was the scariest moment of my life to say the least. Not to be outdone I heard one of the nurses talking to the doctor about my ‘advanced directive’ and then I was asked about my ‘living will situation’. What a nightmare.  All I could do was look around the room and think about who was going to be the last person I was ever going to see. I wanted to talk but couldn’t. I wanted to tell someone to tell my kids I loved them. I wanted to say their names. I couldn’t. Being overexcited obviously wasn’t helping.

They finally picked me up and wheeled me, kicking and screaming, to the ICU. I was in critical condition for the next 3 days.  I had to do the same sleeping situation with my head on a table every night.  It was a nightmare.

I’m not exactly sure how, but slowly it started to get better (most likely due to the pain meds and blood thinners). My O2 got better and they pumped me full of morphine, oxycodone, and something else (at one point I heard it was the 'strongest stuff they had'). I was hooked up to that same IV and went through many bags of Heparin (funny enough the same blood thinner that my brother was hooked up to, 3 hours south in Boston). The next 3 nights I was in the ICU. In and out of it due to all the pain meds. My family came in to visit and I don’t remember much of it. Even on the morphine drip and pills, etc I was still doubling over in pain from time to time and it really took a toll on Kristin and my family who went in to see me during that time.

By late Monday afternoon I was feeling good enough (although my feet and legs were swollen pretty bad from having to sit in the same position every night) to come off of the IV and start what is now a lifetime on a pill-based blood thinner (Eliquis). I was so afraid of them pulling that IV off me because I know that is what saved my life. I was able to carefully shave (God forbid I cut myself) and wash and felt slightly human again. Kristin brought me home on Monday and my life changed dramatically at that point. But I need to keep reminding myself that I was extremely lucky.

The bad news is basically no one knows how I got to this point. I have seen multiple specialists, had scans, blood tests, etc. All genetic testing came back negative for a disorder. I had zero indication that I had a clot in my leg or lower abdomen short of one seemingly small calf pain I had in the weeks leading up to this (which seemed to come and go out of nowhere but it was very sore). Most doctors tell me that what I experienced in my calf most likely wasn’t the cause. The pulmonologist I see now  seems to think it could have been that.  But because we don’t know, they said that if I was to come off blood thinners its more risky than being on them. If it happens again, it could be it. The consensus is that I had one big clot, it went up through my heart and was soft enough where it shattered into many smaller clots and they all got lodged up in my lungs and grew.  The blood thinners helped stop new clots from forming and allowed the existing clots to dissolve on their own.  Needless to say, I blew through my 'out of pocket maximum' very quickly by being in the hospital for 4+ days.

The worse news is that I suffered a pulmonary infarction and had about 10% of lung tissue die due to the lack of blood flow to that area. The infarction is right next to my heart on the left side and is where most of the pain was. So now that will scar up over time and will be absorbed by the body apparently. The healing on these takes on average 3-6 months.

Even worse than that was that I had a small mass on my lung that was concerning to the radiologist. They suggested to have it followed up on in a few months. That was initially when I was in the hospital. Unexplained clots can be caused by lung cancer so that has not sat well with me.

About a week after I went home, I had a flare up of the same pain again. I was back in the hospital. I had more scans done and this time the radiologist was concerned enough about the mass to suggest I have a PET scan. The pain I was experiencing was just the infarct. I wasn’t having more clots.

Fast forward to the PET scan. I went over to Scarborough, Maine to Maine Med for a PET scan and the good news was that the mass they saw on the previous 2 CT scans didn’t light up. The bad news is that a few other things did, including two masses in the middle of my chest. They suggested from here that I have a biopsy done on them.

My doctor scheduled a biopsy to be done at Maine Med with a cardio-thoracic surgeon. But shortly after that, they reviewed it and thought it was best to wait a bit because it ‘could’ be inflammation which usually comes with a Pulmonary Embolism. So now I’m currently in waiting mode for that and have another CT scan set for February.

I have recurring appointments now with my Pulmonologist and have another echo cardiogram slated for this week. I had mild heart strain with the embolism and they want to keep an eye on it to see how much if any damage was done.

At this point, I am taking 2 pills a day (Eliquis). I cannot miss. My energy level is coming back slowly but I have no doubt that it's affected my energy. I’m not over the fear of ‘bleeding’ excessively quite yet. I am still very careful of what I do. I haven’t had a nosebleed yet but when I do, I’ll probably be a wreck emotionally.

I have run only a small handful of times. 3-5 miles at a time. I ran on the 2 month anniversary of my going into the hospital. I ran 3 days last week, all in a row, and took a few days off. I spun yesterday on the bike.  7:xx pace for a mile seems a bit hard at this point but I was able do a 5 mile run in under 8 min pace the other day. It felt a lot faster but it is what it is. I was able to finish a run on the Kanc last week with a sub 7 mile at the very end but  I was maxed out cardio-wise.  I gained about 15-20 pounds in the 2 + months I couldn’t do anything physically. The doctors stressed that I take it easy for a while and treat this very much like a ‘damaged organ’.  I still have uncomfortable feeling and pressure in my lungs and especially in the area where my infarction is. But that will slowly go over time. It takes a long time for these to 'heal'. I am hoping at this point to just be able to get back to running and activity as I normally did. I’m not looking to be able to do any PR-type of effort anymore (not that I physically could anyways) but I don’t want to give up. I'll already be now at a disadvantage 'lung-capacity-wise'.  This thing really knocked me on my butt hard. For some weeks afterwards, when I was still having to take strong pain medication at night so I wasn’t jumping out of bed with intense bursts of pain, I was pretty much convincing myself that I was permanently slowed down and that my days were numbered. I’m starting to think I have a chance again but this time I’m taking my time and balancing the important things in my life better.

Which brings me back to my family. My wife and kids and parents and everyone else who came to me when I needed them. Kristin has a sign hanging on the wall in our downstairs bathroom that I have to look at every time I take a wee.  It says simply ‘Enjoy the little things in life for some day you will realize they were the big things’. As I’ve had to think about my own mortality up close, the only thing in the forefront of my mind is my kids and my wife and their wellbeing. And how they’d get on without me. That was the scariest thing of all to me. Thinking of my kids growing up without their dad…maybe not even really remembering me all that well when they got older (they are still only 5 and 7). I’ve always realized my kids were my world. I feel like I’ve always prioritized their health and happiness. But after the last few months, I am more in tune with how every waking minute and every experience with them, no matter how small and seemingly ordinary, is priceless. Being able to take the first couple walks around the yard when I got home from the hospital was overwhelming for me. I realize how lucky I am to have a second chance and to have my family around me who loves and supports me unconditionally. I’ve certainly had my ups and downs. I had very dark days sitting here the last couple months, thinking about what these tests are going to reveal in the upcoming month or so. I guess I won’t completely move on from that until it’s all said and done and I get an all clear. If I don’t get an all clear, I’ll have to start making the appropriate plans and do what I need to do. For now, I’m going to try to get back into the normal routine as much as I can. Kristin has been incredibly loving and supportive and I cannot think of where I would be without her.  I love her and the girls more than ever and I’m more motivated now than ever to be around for them as long as possible.  I may be a grouch here and there, but they’ve learned by now to deal with that pretty well :).

Oh…and my brother is doing great now…he’s on some lifetime meds now and had a procedure (stint) and is back to his old self again. I always joked up until this year that he was my ‘canary in the coal mine’ because he’s 10 years older than I am. I figured when/if he had an issue, that would be a good indictor for me.  Our father had his first heart attack at 42. I’m almost 43. My brother is 52. Things are getting real now to say the least.

Anyways, for now, I look forward.  I have been blessed with a great Christmas with the girls and we're getting on with the  winter months now here in the Mount Washington Valley.  Here’s to a wonderful new year for everyone. I hope everyone is happy and healthy as we begin a new decade.

Some January far....

Probably shouldn't be doing this but.....

Monday, May 13, 2019

Training Week: May 06 - May 12 - Canterbury Village XC

Sandu and myself coming across together.
Week of May 06 - May 12

05 06 - [Monday] - 10 miles Ossipee/Tamworth roads w/ Darin.
05-07 - [Tuesday] - 10.1 miles total as:
     lunch: 4.1 miles  easy Madison roads solo.
     pm: 6 miles easy Madison roads with Darin.
05-08 - [Wednesday] -  13 miles total as:
     lunch: 5 miles solo bangs around Burke Field(s) on the grass.
     pm: 8 miles easy Madison roads with Darin.
05-09 - [Thursday] - 14 miles total as:
     lunch: 5.8 miles solo trails/roads in the Madison highlands.
     pm: 8.2 miles easy Madison roads with Darin.
05-10 - [Friday] - 5 miles easy Madison roads with Darin.
05-11 - [Saturday] - 9.2 miles total as:
     am: 3.1 miles warmup before race in Canterbury, NH with Dave Dunham and Scotty Clark.
     am: 3.1 miles race - Canterbury Village XC (results) - 2nd OA. 17:32.
     am: 3.1 miles cooldown on roads with Louis Saviano III and Drew Tuttle.
05-12 - [Sunday] - off. Travelling for Mother's Day and the weather was brutal. Giving the achilles one more rest day.

Weekly Summary:  61.2 miles

Another Sunday off, but it was probably for the best.  Legs have been a little beat so it was fitting to give the body a break on Sunday as the weather was brutal and we were down in southern MA for Mother's Day.

The 4th C.A.R.S. series race was held down in Canterbury, NH so Darin and I headed down there for his least favorite of the bunch (but probably my favorite one).  The race can be (and was) muddy and wet in spots, and is pretty hilly.  There are a couple of big nice grassy / dirt path climbs and some nice single track.  He hates it. I look forward to it because it's about pure racing and less about time.  With road 5ks a lot of times I just get caught up too much in the micromanaging of the pace and time. Every quarter mile is micromanaged. I'm looking at my watch constantly, worried about the mile splits, etc.  With the XC race, it's about just running hard and trying to beat your rivals... but then again, some sportsmanship comes into it from time to time.

Getting right into the race, I took it out for a change with Drew Tuttle, Sandu Rebenciuc, and Louis Saviano right behind me.  I didn't want to wait and let anyone else dictate the early pace.  The grass was thick and wet in the first couple fields.  It was standing water in places, making it relatively slow for the first mile.  It 'looked' like grass until you started to splash through it.  At one point, both my shoes almost got sucked right off my feet in consecutive steps. 

 I led until just before the single track section.  Then Drew went by me, eager to lead us through the woods.  I was OK with that at first but then realized that it was tough to see where I was landing when I was right behind him. I had to give him a little more space in the trail that I would have liked. Sandu sat right behind me and we all just followed the leader through the single track which was pretty dry but is rocky and constantly winding back and forth and up and down.  When we hit the end of that stretch, I took the lead back for the last bit of fields and grass before dumping out onto the dirt road.  I think at that point, Louis Saviano was still hanging behind us but I was only seeing Sandu on my direct shoulder.

When we hit the road, both Drew and Sandu past me like I was standing still. It was kind of demoralizing.  There's one climb on that dirt road up to the main field and I was dropped back quite a ways.  On the big grass climb (the biggest/longest climb of the race), I caught them back but then Sandu started to stretch out his lead on the last bit of the upper part of the climb.  He's a strong XC guy and just moved away from us at the top.  Drew looked and sounded like he was struggling a bit but ended up staying ahead of me with surges when I'd try to move past. 

After the big downhill reprieve on the grass, Drew was really working hard but I went by him, sensing him slow just a bit.  I figured I'd try and see what happened. Sandu kept 3-4 seconds ahead of me no matter what I did though.  On the last uphill through the crowd of people and then up around the cow pasture, he was 3-4 seconds ahead of me and I wasn't closing at all.  When we came out through the wall at the top and took that left in that last little field section, the places looked to be wrapped up with Sandu holding me off and myself safely in front of Drew... but then at the very end, when you go through the last break in the wall section that takes you to the dirt driveway, Sandu  banged a right (which is the wrong way).  He put his arms up and was obviously not sure where to go.  There was no sign or anyone standing there (but I remember the course from 2 years ago).  I immediately yelled ‘left!’.  He stopped and turned around and looked at me and I was taking the left and he was running towards the paved main road.  He just threw his hand up and kind of waved it off as if he was done and was totally going to let me take the last 100 yards to the finish.  I looked behind me and saw I had enough on Drew so I just slowed up (almost stopped) and waved him up and told him to come on with me.  I did it a couple times and turned towards him waving him on quickly....he ran back over to me and when he got up to me we fist pumped and he said ‘lets finish together’ so we did.  We ran in the last 100+ yards or so together. I’m glad they gave him the win at the race because he was going to win anyways and he would have been easily 3-5 seconds ahead of me if he didn't take that last wrong turn.

That's now 2 C.A.R.S series races in a row that the leader took a wrong turn right at the end!  Although this race is a great race and is one of my favorites of the series, it does lack a bit in signage in multiple places (multiple important places).

It's a good thing Sandu isn't in the C.A.R.S series.  Even though I was just able to squeak ahead of Drew, he's still got me but a couple of points in the series standings overall.  I won't be able to make the next C.A.R.S. series race so I'll have to throw that one out (it's best 5 of 8).  He'll just be extending his lead at that point.

Overall, I was happy with the effort.  Being able to hold off Drew and Louis (who have both beaten me this Spring in a series race) was a positive.  They are far faster than I am on the roads.  This type of course helps me a bit and evens out the playing field a little.  With losing a couple seconds at the end with that wrong turn snafu, I ended up with a 17:32 which was 15 seconds slower than my winning time at Canterbury 2 years ago, but it was 'bone' dry (Dave Dunham giggles when I say that) then.  It was pretty wet this weekend so I'll consider this a pretty good effort considering the slight deltas.

Hopefully I can get more miles in this week and get focused again.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Training Week: April 29 - May 05 - Children's Museum 5k

Milton Three Ponds dam in Milton, NH

Week of April 29 - May 05

04-29- [Monday] - 12 miles total as:
     lunch: 5 miles  easy Madison roads solo.
     pm: 7 miles easy Madison roads w/ Darin
04-30 - [Tuesday] - 12 miles total as:
     lunch: 6 miles  easy Madison roads solo.
     pm: 6 miles easy Madison roads solo.
05-01 - [Wednesday] -  6 miles easy roads.
05-02 - [Thursday] - 10.1 miles Ossipee roads solo.
05-03 - [Friday] - 5 miles easy Madison roads solo.
05-04 - [Saturday] - 7.65 miles total as:
     am: 3.2 miles warmup before race in Dover, NH with Matt Sawyer and Darin Brown.
     am: 3.1 miles race - Children's Museum 5k (results) - 4th OA. 16:26.
     am: 1.3 miles cooldown - short cooldown to get back in time for the kids obstacle course race. Tabby and Morgan both raced multiple times.
05-05 - [Sunday] - off. Achilles and foot killing me.  Could barely walk around.

Weekly Summary:  52.9 miles

 Had to cut a couple days short this week and then I ran into another achilles issue.  I could barely walk on Sunday.  My achilles was super tight to the point where I had no ability to really flex my left foot. It also swelled up pretty bad.  The pain wrapped around the top of my foot and I had trouble sleeping with the nagging pain.  Straightening out my foot or pushing off was almost impossible.

On the flip side, the race in Dover was fairly positive all things considered.  This was the kickoff of the 2019 Seacoast Road Race Series.  It kind of feels like the start of the 'summer' season starts with this race...or at the very least, the start of the spring season (considering the weather in NH this year).

It wasn't my slowest time (I actually ran a slower time at this race 2 years ago and WON it).  I ran basically 2 other times as slow (by a second or so) or slower.   It was also my fastest (so far) 5k of the season.  Considering the course is a little on the slow side and it's a legit certified 5k, I'll take the 16:26 (chip) time for sure.  I was a bit disappointed in not 'racing' slightly better up front, but I'm just not there yet. I have to be pleased with a season PR so far...

The race got out to a normal type of start.  Myself and my Runners' Alley teammates Vojta Ripa and Chris Dunn went out with fellow 'Seacoast Long Run' member Shiloh Shulte and Whirlaway's Neal Darmody for the first 400 meters or so.  It was there that I decided to pull back slightly.  I was starting to quickly feel that the pace was a little hot for my fitness.  I had what sounded like a pretty healthy group behind me and knew my Runner's Alley teammate Matt Sawyer and others were lurking back there (along with Nate Jenkins pushing a baby stroller, which is obviously still dangerous considering the shape I'm in) but I didn't want to look.

The pack really broke away from me up to the mile mark.  The first mile is almost entirely uphill and slightly flat in one stretch.  It's usually a very slow first mile for me.  The second mile isn't any better but feels faster because of a big downhill just as you go past the 2 mile mark.  I was 5:17 and 5:18 (half marathon pace back in 2011 for me) through the first two miles.  I didn't look at my watch at all so I wasn't aware, but in hindsight I am pleased with that effort for this course.  Although I got broken by the top 4 guys early, I hung tough and kept the rest of the people behind me but it was Matt Sawyer who had caught me basically in the neighborhood loop at about 1.5 miles in.  I never looked back other than a quick glance out of the corner of my eye to make out the singlet color but knew it was him.  I was waiting for him to go by me but it never happened thank God. Matt will surely beat me soon enough, but not on this day.  I held him off one more week at least...

As I came up out of the neighborhood I was still hanging tough and my eyes set focus on Chris Dunn who had broken off the back of the front pack.  I came up on Chris right at the 2 mile mark on the downhill and he surged right before I could pass him, knowing I was there.  By the time the bottom of the hill came and the road flattened out, I finally went by.  Matt Sawyer was right behind and it seemed like those two guys hitched up for the last .75 miles when Matt pulled up on him.  It kept me going as I surged forward and set my sights on Vojta, who was also slowing up a bit or so it seemed.   Neal was long gone and Shiloh was in 2nd in a comfortable spot.  I was pretty sure I was going to get Vojta and kept plugging away up that final little kicker before making the turn towards the park.

As I made my way over the bridge and down into the park, I closed the gap on Vojta but it seemed like as soon as he heard my steps, he turned on the jets for one final push and pulled away from me for good.  He has very good track speed and is 'under 30' so I had no chance even if I had pulled up along side him.  I ended up 4th and just held off a surging Matt Sawyer and Chris Dunn who came in together.   I ended up running a 5:07 last mile which is a really good sign.  I think the combination of pulling in Chris and Vojta, plus having Matt just behind me, allowed me to hang tough in that last mile.  4th place is my worst finish in this race in the 10 years I ran it, but I cannot be disappointed with the effort, considering I have basically no workouts in my weekly schedule just yet. The field was also deep.  Usually this race doesn't have this many runners under 17 so it was actually a more competitive field than usual (considering I have won the race with a slower time than I actually ran this year, for 4th place).

Oh yeah, I have now officially beaten Nate Jenkins twice in a race.  Once was in a 10K mountain race with awful footing in VT. He was at that race just doing it for the All Terrain Series that year.  And now this one, where he was pushing a baby carriage with his adorable 8 month old.  If he continues to give me some out-of-the gate advantages like wearing a heavy/hot costume or juggling bowling pins or wearing dress shoes or doing it backwards, etc. I may have a shot of beating him again.  If he just shows up and runs normally, I'll be staring at that 'CMS' on the back of his singlet through a telescope by mile 2.

Crossing the line with Chris Dunn and Matt Sawyer WAY BACK

My Children's Museum 5k History is below. And this is where it will stay, as this year marked the 34th and last annual race.  The Children's Museum of NH has decided not to continue the event. It's too bad.  The race was actually a great place to bring kids, especially this year.  They have a brand new playground there at the museum, which is great. We spent an hour there (at least) after the race, with a lot of other runners and their kids hanging around.  The kids race was also great.  This year it was a big obstacle course. It was the best kids race I've ever seen at a race so far (since paying attention to them only in the last handful of years).   They went all out this year and it was unfortunately the last.

Children's Museum of NH 5k

2019 16:26 4th
2017 16:33 1st
2016 16:10 1st
2015 15:49 1st
2014 16:25 1st
2012 16:13 3rd
2011 15:46 1st
2010 15:53 3rd
2009 16:13 3rd
2008* 15:56 2nd

*In 2008 it was in Portsmouth (the last year it was held there but the only time I ran it there).  Sam Wood, fresh out of Keene State, kicked my butt.

I missed it twice since starting up racing again...Once in 2013 (good thing, as Eric Couture broke my CR by a lot) and again last year in 2018 (good thing, as Derrick Hamel ran a swift time as well for the win).

I 'think' it's currently my most raced race in the last 12 years of post-collegiate racing.  When (if) I toe the line at Market Square this year, that will also be my 10th race at MSD so that will tie it.

Tabby and I

The girls after their race(s)

Future hurdle star

Morgan showing her technique...kind of reminiscent of Dave Dunham's stride.

The girls showing off their finisher's ribbons

The girls watching their dad collect his age group award.

Tabby and Morgan a day or so before Tabby decided to cut Morgan's bangs when no one was looking.  Not good.

The fam at the dam on the 'long' way home.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Training Week: April 22 - April 28

Week of April 22 - April 28

04-22- [Monday] - 10 miles - track workout at K.H.S. with Darin. 12 x 400m with 100m in between each. 400 meters in between each set of 4 + warmup and cooldown on track and around school area.
04-23 - [Tuesday] - 16 miles total as:
     lunch: 8 miles  easy Madison roads solo.
     pm: 8 miles Madison roads with Darin to celebrate my 42nd birthday.
04-24 - [Wednesday] 8 miles roads. Hard run from  Rt. 16 in Albany, back home and then up E. Madison rd. and back.  Worked the hills hard.
04-25 - [Thursday] - 16 miles total as:
     lunch: 8 miles  Madison roads solo.
     pm: 8 miles Madison roads with Darin.
04-26 - [Friday] - 5 miles total as:
     lunch: 5 miles  easy Madison roads solo.  Was going to get out later but the weather was ass.
04-27 - [Saturday] - 20 miles total as:
     lunch: 10 miles - Marshall Conservation Area and Mineral Site trails in Conway. Solo.  3 miles up the snowmobile trail and road, I was post holing in knee deep snow. Had to turn around and then add on over the mountain biking trails which were mostly all clear.  Woke up with really bad achilles pain.  Very limited flexibility in that foot right now.
     pm:  10 miles - easy Madison roads solo.  Achilles really sore.
04-28 - [Sunday] - off.  Achilles was just too bad to risk it. Ended up taking the day off to rest, ice, stretch, etc. 

Weekly Summary:  75 miles

Had to scale back a bit this week at the end because of a very sore achilles near the end of the week.  I had already had a couple of single days with low volume so I knew I'd be scaling back a little but 75-85 is going to feel pretty good as a landing spot for now I think.  I'll be happy with anything in that ballpark for a normal weekly mileage number now that there's suddenly other stuff I can do outside other than run.  The track workout with new flats most likely attributed to the foot pain this week. 

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Training Week: April 15 - April 21

Happy to be done...horrified at the same time.

Week of April 15 - April 21

04-15- [Monday] - 16.2 miles total as:
     lunch: 8 miles  easy Madison roads solo.
     pm: 8.2 miles easy Madison roads w/ Darin
04-16 - [Tuesday] - 10 miles solo Madison / Chocorua roads late in the day.
04-17 - [Wednesday] -  16 miles total as:
     lunch: 6 miles  easy Madison roads solo.
     pm: 10 miles Madison roads. First 6 with Darin, then last 4 solo
04-18 - [Thursday] - 13 miles total as:
     lunch: 8 miles  Madison roads.
     pm: 5 miles easy Madison roads with Darin.
04-19 - [Friday] - 13.4 miles total as:
     am: 4.1 miles  easy Madison roads solo.
     evening: 4 miles w/up before race
     evening: 3.1+ mile race - SEA 5k - 4th OA.
     evening: 2.1 mile cooldown.
04-20 - [Saturday] - 16 miles total as:
     lunch: 8 miles solo Madison roads.
     pm: 8 miles solo Madison roads.
04-21 - [Sunday] 16 miles total as:
     am: x miles solo Madison, Tamworth, Ossipee roads.

Weekly Summary:  100.7 miles

Tried to keep up the miles once again this week and hit the 3rd CARS Series race (SEA 5k)(resultswithout too many problems.  The run on Sunday was rough because I had to get it in early and all at once before heading south for the day for Easter.  The race on Friday was a borderline letdown for sure.  The race 'looked' like there was a pretty stout field at the start but as the gun went off, it was clear there was about 5 people up front that would be battling it out for the top spots.  I started the race off with a side stitch (I do not remember ever having this happen before) that I got on the warmup. Not a good sign.  Also, although about 75 or so degrees, it was windy as hell in spots.  There were a couple stretches moving south along the course where the wind was really strong.  I figured the race would be tactical because of this and I was right.   The pace was pedestrian and I was right in the mix because unlike the last couple races, it didn't go out at 5 flat pace.  It was shoulder to shoulder for most of the first mile +.  Except spots where the wind was a factor, we were all together and I was finding myself at times, leading the way. When the wind hit, we'd shift around and start drafting off one another.  I felt OK because the pace was relatively relaxed.  I was right with the leaders until 2 miles and then they opened up a gap on me when we turned with the wind.  Aiden Cox and Drew Tuttle and soon-to-be 50 year old (former CMS guy) Sandu Rebenciuc pulled away and left Kerpal Demian and myself in limbo.  I started to get another side stich just after 2 miles and fell back of Kerpal to the point of 'no-man's land'.  We were both in our own no-man's land for the entire last half mile into the wind.  I gave no fight and actually didn't remember he was in the series.  I didn't find out until after the race that he was the guy right behind me in the series and now, with his 1000 points for being the first series guy across the line, he's even closer to me than he was before.  He got the 1000 points of course because Drew Tuttle (who was en route to win the race), ran right past the last turn to the finish and started running the loop again, in the midst of all the lapped runners and walkers.  So Aiden and Sandu were able to take over the lead right at the last turn and battle it out for the win.  Drew had to turn once he realized his mistake and ended up 24 seconds behind me, instead of about 17 seconds ahead of me.  I ended up 4th instead of 5th.  The entire race was 'slow' for the lead group but I should have been able to handle a 16:41 on this course. I should have been with those guys after 2. I just mentally shut it down and had no fight.  In hindsight I should have just taken the lead when I was up there and pushed it at my own discretion and see what happened.  I haven't been racing like how I used to race.  I also need to work on my speed so my effort translates into a stronger last part of the race.   I'll be working on that hopefully soon.

Year Time Place Notes
2019 16:57 4th Slowest time and worst place
2017 16:31 1st 4 days after 2:40 at Boston Marathon
2015 15:31 2nd Lost to Justin Freeman
2011 15:18 2nd Lost to Justin Freeman
2008 15:42 1st Was new course record at the time

Friday, April 19, 2019

Dropping Out

2011 Boston Marathon. My lowest BIB Number. #112. DNF'd just after 15 miles.
 1:11:01 through half...then someone told me I still had to run 13.1 more miles.
On a run this week, Darin Brown and I were talking about various racing stories as we usually do (after we are both done b*tching about the weather and road conditions in East Madison) and the subject of dropping out came up.  We were both talking about crazy happenings in relays and mostly track-related things. He seems to have a lot of stories of being practically murdered while running relays, etc.  We both had our stories. Then it started to creep into that uncomfortable subject of dropping out of races all-together.

It turns out, I have a lot more 'DNF's' then he has... but then again I think I've raced more.  But we both have dropped out of an 800 meters which is funny.  He tore something  during an 800 meters indoors at Dartmouth while I got shoved into the long jump pit during an outdoor 800.   He also has a DNF in a half marathon. My longest race DNF was a 50K DNF at the World Championships.  So I have dropped out of races ranging from 800 meters to 50K (so far).  That's a pretty good spread of distances. I guess the maximum spread of distances I 'could' have had DNFs in would be 300 meter hurdles to the 50 Mile. I have run two 50 Miler races and have yet to drop from that distance (and I stress 'yet').   I raced the 300 meter hurdles a few times in High School during my senior year when my outdoor coach realized I was faster over 400 meters than any of the 300 meter hurdle guys and I could just 'jump' the hurdles and end up beating them all to the line over 300.  But luckily I never dropped from one of those either.   So my spread is 800 meters to 50K (just over 31 miles).

It got me thinking about all my DNFs.  I wasn't sure how many at first but I was able to recall what I think was all of them during the run (the only one I had forgotten about was the Eastern States 20 Mile DNF in 2013).  But I immediately started to see a pattern...or lack-there-of depending on how you look at it.  I double checked by scanning through my race list on this blog and put together all my DNFs.  From what I can recall (and what is documented), I have 14 of them.  1 of them is in High School.  2 of them were in College (all three of those were on the track).  The rest are scattered throughout the last 12 years of my post-collegiate career (I didn't run from 1999-2006).  The interesting thing is that I've not dropped out of the same type/distance of race more than once.  The closest thing to the same is that I've dropped out of a road marathon and a trail 'marathon' (same advertised distance), although the trail marathon wasn't exactly 26.2 (it was much longer from what I remember).  But the fact that it was road vs trail also makes it a different race all together.  All 14 DNFs are different events.  Pretty crazy.

So that means that next up, I have to drop out of a 5 mile, 10K, and a 10 mile.  Those seem to be the only distances I haven't dropped from as of yet. Fingers crossed I didn't just jinx myself.

From 2007 to 2011 I seemed to hold things together but then had 4 DNFs in 2011 (which is funny because I consider 2011 to be one of my better years if not my best year overall).  I had 4 DNFs in 2013 which isn't surprising considering I was doing very little training and trying to race with half-ass work being put in. 

Lastly, I have dropped out of back-to-back races/weekends in 2011 (Codfish Bowl and then Dunham's 15K trail championship at Winnekenni). That was maybe the 'beginning of the end' for me?  It seems I've dropped out of some 'big' events.  An All-State meet, the Boston Marathon, Mt. Washington, a NE Grand Prix, etc.  We'll see how things go from here. 

Date Race Type / Distance Location Notes
??-??-1995 MA Indoor All State Meet 1000 Yards (Indoors) Harvard, MA Had the flu. Won Eastern Mass title the week before.
??-??-199? Williams College Invite 800 Meters (Outdoors) Williamstown, MA Got tripped up. Fell into long jump area. Bloody lip too!
??-??-199? George Mason Invitational 1500 Meters (Outdoors) Fairfax, VA Dead tired. Coming off a hard 5k. Wimped out in big race.
07/14/2007Harbour Trail 5k Road 5k Portsmouth, NH Dropped at a mile. Dead tired. 7 hours of hockey the day before.
04/18/2011 Boston Marathon Road Marathon Boston, MA Dropped near 15. Started to bonk.  1:11:01 through half.
08/20/2011 World Trophy 50K Road 50K Assen, Netherlands Dropped at 45.25K.  Foot blew up. Ended up in hospital.
09/24/2011 Codfish Bowl XC Cross Country 8K Boston, MA Dropped at 2 miles. Achilles and calf flared up.
10/1/2011 Winnekenni 25k Trail 25K Haverhill, MA Dropped after 15k in the lead. Achilles and calf.  Back to back!
03/24/2013 Eastern States 20 Miler Road 20 Miles Rye, NH Dropped at 11 miles while in 3rd place.
06/2/2013 Bretton Woods Fell Race 8+ Mile Mountain Race Carroll, NH Got Lost. Fell Race.
06/9/2013 Ascutney Mountain Race 3.8 Mile Mountain Race Windsor, VT Ran out of gas. Day after running Market Square 10K.
07/27/2013 Bear Brook Trail Marathon Trail Marathon Allenstown, NH Dropped at 20. Calfs and hamstrings cramping. Was in 2nd.
06/17/2017 Mount Washington  7.6 Mile Mountain Race Green's Grant, NH Dropped 2+ miles in. Wrenched my back the day before.
03/18/2018 New Bedford Half Road Half Marathon New Bedford, MA Dropped just after 2 miles. Wasn't my day.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Training Week: April 08 - April 14

My girls in Portsmouth on a rainy but warm day
Week of April 08 - April 14

04-08- [Monday] - off. At a funeral down in MA all day (stayed over Sunday). Early start and then had to come all the way back home after.  Given the weather, it was probably a good time for a rest day.
04-09 - [Tuesday] - 16 miles total as:
     lunch: 8 miles  easy solo Madison roads.
     pm: 8 miles easy solo Madison roads.
04-10 - [Wednesday] -  18 miles total as:
     lunch: 12 miles steady solo Madison roads.
     pm: 6 miles easy solo Madison roads.
04-11 - [Thursday] - 18 miles total as:
     lunch: 8 miles  solo easy Madison roads.
     pm: 10 miles solo easy Madison roads.
04-12 - [Friday] - 13 miles total as:
     lunch: 5 miles  solo easy Madison roads.
     pm: 8 miles solo easy Madison roads.
04-13 - [Saturday] - 15.1 miles total as:
     am: 4 miles  warmup before race solo.
     am: 3.1 mile race. Out of Hibernation 5k - 16:35. 2nd OA.
     am: 2 miles cooldown after race solo.
     pm: 6 miles solo easy Madison roads.
04-14 - [Sunday] 20 miles total as:
     lunch: 10 miles solo Madison roads.
     pm: 5 miles solo Madison roads.
     evening: 5 miles solo Madison roads.

Weekly Summary:  100.2 miles

Tried to keep the overall volume for the week the same as last. It was difficult right out of the gate with missing Monday but it was a needed rest I think and the trip was important for the family.  Good to actually get this many miles in on only 6 days and still have an OK race.

As far as the 5k went... I kind of thought it would be cool to 'win' the same race 10 years apart. I won this race back in 2009.  It was short of 3.1 back then by a little bit.  Everyone who went to this race used to run a very fast time, early in the season.  2009 predated my GPS watch, but I knew I wasn't in the kind of shape that got me the 15:45 I ran back in 2008, especially with the most of the 2nd mile being slightly uphill and then having a really good small steep climb just before the 2 mile split.  I figured if they didn't adjust the course, it would be a good 'short' race to boost my confidence but figured with the profile, I would maybe run around what I've been running if not only a little quicker.  Well, the start was moved back about a block on the beginning road.  The RD announced right before the start that after numerous years of feedback recently on the length of the course, they pushed the start further down the street.  It didn't really matter now because I knew that with the hills, it wouldn't be super fast anyways. The course was still barely 5k now but it's not super fast because of the profile.  The only reason it was considered fast before is because it was short.  Now it runs sort of like any one of those Dover 5k races.  The end mile can be pretty fast...if you are in racing shape. I wouldn't know.

I was in 3rd place for a bit at the start as Cameron Cook (SIX03) took it out fast.  Way too fast for my ability right now.  I struggled a bit to even get started.  The eventual 3rd place finisher was also ahead of me at the start and there wasn't a heck of a lot I could do about it.  I eventually settled in after about a quarter mile in, and passed 2nd.  But I was already way in the back of Cameron and it wouldn't get any better.   The course goes from about the 5 mile mark of the Market Square Day course, in the opposite direction of MSD, heads north into Strawberry Banke, and then goes up the finishing hill that you come down in MSD.  Then it keeps going in the reverse direction of the MSD course until it gets to a really solid climb on South St. that no other race I know of goes up.  Then it's gradually down after that to the finish.  But that entire mile from about the finish line of the MSD course up to that bigger hill is a slight climb most of the way.  It's still very runnable, but in my current fitness, it was a grind to stay at a respectable pace.  I still have a lot of work to do.

I stayed solidly in 2nd and put a lot of distance on the folks behind me, but never made it a race for Cameron.  There goes my first attempt at trying to win a race I won 10 years ago.  Looking at the races I 'won' in 2009 compared to what is actually 'doable' now and races that still actually exist, I may have to wait until next year when the group of races I won 10-or-more years ago will be bigger (and hopefully I'll be in better shape by then).

To add insult to injury, in the raffle I didn't win anything.  Cameron (the race winner) won 4 Red Sox tickets (the best prize in the entire raffle).  Moments like this make you wonder whether or not there really is a God.


Hung out the rest of the day in Portsmouth. Did some shopping w/ the family and took the girls to a sweet playground.  The weather was great.  75 degrees by the afternoon and no snow!   Then we drove home to...well not 75 degrees and....lots of snow.

It was great having the family at a race again. It's been a while since the girls saw me run a race. Even longer since they've seen me win one...but that will have to wait... most likely a long while (given the races I've signed up for).

Friday, April 12, 2019

Training Week: April 01 - April 07

Week of April 01 - April 07

04-01- [Monday] 16.7 miles total as:
     lunch: 6 miles  solo Madison roads.
     pm: 10.7 miles hilly High St. loop.
04-02 - [Tuesday] - 15 miles total as:
     am: 8 miles  easy solo Madison roads.
     pm: 7 miles easy solo Madison roads.
04-03 - [Wednesday] - pm: 11.7 miles hilly Washnigton Hill / High St. loop. Worked the hills hard.  Steady for the rest.
04-04 - [Thursday] - 15 miles total as:
     lunch: 5 miles  solo easy Madison roads.
     pm: 10 miles solo easy Madison roads.
04-05 - [Friday] - 13 miles total as:
     lunch: 8 miles  solo easy Madison roads.
     pm: 5 miles solo easy Madison roads.
04-06 - [Saturday] - 15.2 miles total as:
     am: 5 miles  warmup with Darin, Dunham, and the Tuttles + strides before SEA 5k.
     am: 3.1 mile race. SEA 5k - 16:43. 5th OA.
     am: 2 miles cooldown after race w/ Darin and the Tuttles.
     pm: 5.1 miles solo easy Madison roads.
04-07 - [Sunday] 13.4 miles total as:
     am: 10.1 miles solo easy Madison roads.
     pm: 3.3 miles solo easy Quincy, MA roads along the water at night to get the 100 mile week.

Weekly Summary:  100.1 miles

Crept up the volume this week with multiple runs all but 1 day.  Didn't miss a day, which was a big win.  Threw in a race on the weekend.  One very minor workout on a hilly loop but other than that, mostly easy running with more volume.  Had to head down to MA on Sunday for a wake so I ended the week with a short run along the water, at night, on a full stomach of Chinese food (literally went and ran almost immediately after leaving the restaurant).

Starting to race again...or at least showing up...

Catching up on the running front....and racing (although slow)....

After the month of March started out with some health issues, I took it slightly easy the rest of the way but still managed to get to a couple of races to try to get back into something that resembles any sort of shape and running for an actual purpose.

After the week I went to the ER, I dropped a few weeks of around 40 / 60 / and 54 miles. I missed 6 days of running in that timeframe (spaced out randomly).  I ended the month of March with 246 miles total.  Not that great for a long month but then again, it was a LONG month for me.  I was glad to get over the daylight saving hump though.  It makes it a lot easier for me to get out the door now later in the day.  I don't feel so rushed now, since I ran outside all winter.  When I was indoors on the treadmill the last bunch of years, it didn't really matter what time I got out the door.  But still, that amount of miles for a month that usually can be a good base builder month is a little depressing.

On a slightly more positive note, I headed down to Concord, NH to run the Easing Heartbreak Hill 5k on March 16 (my first race 'start' since New Bedford in 2018 and my first race 'finish' since a small 5k in Ossipee in July of 2017).  It was a pretty low-key race but good to get out and actually run and FINISH a race for the first time in a year and a half.  Returning champion Dave Dunham wasn't there so it was mine for the taking.  The course was a modified version of the previous course, extending it out to an actual 5k vs the 2.8 it used to be.  I didn't realize this until I warmed up over it and noticed it was now a full 5k.  Then on the line, the RD gave us the news that the course was now the full distance.  I was kind of hoping it was short so I could feel better about my time...  I ran pretty much alone and felt 'ok' for the first mile and then like death for the next 2.  The last mile was straight into a nasty headwind that killed me physically and mentally.  Up and over the highway (the only hill on the course, you do twice) was almost a walk for a stretch.  I still thought I had a shot of breaking 17 until that point but it wasn't meant to be.  I still got the win, but was north of 17 minutes (17:03).   It was a start. Horrifying...but a start.

A couple weeks later, I ran down in Gilmanton for the Gilmanton 5k (the start of the 2019 CARS Series).   This race runs 1 min + slower than a normal 5k due to the hill in the last mile (a mini-Mount Washington on dirt).   It was a really good turnout with lots of fast young guys.  I mixed it up a bit in the first 2 miles with a pack of 6-7 guys all making continuous moves, while the top 3 guys ran away with it up front.  I felt like I 'raced' strong during that part because I kept having the pack go around me, then slow up, then I'd pass back.  Usually that type of back and forth can be a dealbreaker for me, but I hung on.  On the hill, I immediately dropped everyone else in that chase pack and started to catch up to the third place 'teenager' but never got within less than 20 feet of him.  At the top of the hill, like 2 years ago, I found myself 'within striking distance'... but like what Warren Bartlett did to me 2 years ago, the two young guys right ahead of me started a kick down the hill and I couldn't match it.  At the end, I was 4th OA, losing to world-record-holder Aiden Cox (it was about time), Drew Tuttle, and Aiden's teammate and cousin Lyke Tkaczyk.  Drew was 2nd but only 9 seconds up on me which I was pleased with.  We were all pretty close at the end.  My time was 31 seconds slower than the only other time I ran this course, back in 2017.  Given the nature of the course, I wasn't too disappointed.  Also, given that it was 1 min + slower than a usual 5k for me (approx.), it would have put me slightly better than the previous race... so every way I tried to angle it, I was relatively pleased with the outcome. I also was the first master and with that, came some cash (thanks to Scott Clark who puts on a very generous race, prize-money-wise).

Next up was the SEA 5k (race #2 in the CARS series for 2019).  This race also had a pretty solid field and my goal was to try to run about 5:15s for as long as I could.  I was putting together a heavier-than-usual week of running but I still felt ok going into it.  Eventual race winner Louis Saviano, Aiden Cox, and Drew Tuttle immediately went out to the lead. I actually went with them for a little bit, but am still out of my element with the pace and after about a half mile, I deliberately backed off (which in hindsight I think was a mistake).  I went through my first mile in about 5:14, which was right where I wanted to be.  Somewhere in the second mile, my Runner's Alley teammate Kanoa King went by me.  I reacted a little bit but wasn't feeling confident by any means.  I wanted to keep the pace but in hindsight should have just tried to go with him no matter what.  He moved away from me after we were right on pace through 2 miles (or so I thought).  The 2 mile split was at 10:28 into the race for me, but on my watch, it still had another 10 seconds or so before it beeped for the 2 mile split. So I went from feeling pretty good about hitting my goal, to realizing I was probably slow.  The last mile was more of the same. I hung back of Kanoa by a few seconds and never gave it a fight. I thought about making a sprint for it around the last building before the final stretch to the line but 'settled' physically and mentally for 5th place. I don't think I'll be doing this in a month or two's time, but for now, that's how I'm rolling.  I did come across the line in 16:43, which I'll gladly accept. It's another step in the right direction, although not a breakthrough by any means. I'm 'only' 12 seconds behind where I was 2 years ago at this time, which is a positive.

My history at the SEA 5k:

Year Time Place
2019 16:43 5th
2017 16:31 2nd
2016 15:55 1st
2009 16:23 2nd

Remarkably in 2009 (ten years ago) when I was definitely in better shape, I was only 20 seconds faster.  I remember Chris Mahoney taking me to task that day.  I do remember not feeling good during that one.  Here's a recap from 10 years ago...featuring some classic names like 'Dan Verrington, Connor Jennings, Patrick Ard, etc... I love how I thought 5:12 was 'disheartening'... 

As the gun went off, the pace went out at a crawl.  VERY people looked around and chatted a bit.  Dan V then took off about 1/4 mile in or so and took the lead.  Chris went with him and I stayed a little back with Connor Jennings (18yr old local from Concord).  At the mile, Chris was way out in front and drew out his lead on us for the next 2 miles.  I went through in a disheartening 5:12 and thought I was going to croak.  5-anything is depressing on this course ...but I soon realized I was not in as good a shape when it came to the shorter / quicker stuff...which is OK, with Boston looming in a couple weeks.   The 2 mile was 10:32 (5:20) so it was getting worse and I was jockeying for position with Connor and Dan the whole time.  Somewhere between 2 and 3 I put 30-40 yards on Dan and Connor and kept them back there as I ran to just try to keep Chris in view.  I didn't get my 3 mile split but coasted in in 16:23 for 2nd place behind Chris who ran a nice 15:57 alone (a time I thought I would run).  Connor outstretched Dan on the last .1 and came in 3rd, with Dan in 4th and Scott Clark just edging out Patrick for 5th.