Monday, August 20, 2012

Training 08-20 - 08-26

8-24 - Friday: 10 miles (trails).  Ran 5 from my backyard up to Cascades and the abandoned camp along the river, then around some of the old logging roads and trails on the other side of the river. Nice and easy.  Feel really beat up.  [36:21].  Then met Kevin over at Walmart right after for another 5 (out and back) on NH Corridor 19 in Conway.  My left foot started to cramp bad on the way back w/ sharp pain (just like in VT a couple years ago when I ran with Josh and Greg and Justin).  Same thing.  I had to stop for a second, hobble, massage my foot, then hobble back to the car.  Hopefully all I need is some rest.  [40:25].

8-23 - Thursday: 7 miles (roads and snowmobile trails).  Ran down to the train station at Silver Lake and then hopped on NH Corridor 19 and headed north for a bit before hopping off and taking some power line trails and then back on the roads.  Nice and easy. Hot out and I need some rest.  My legs have been trashed since my calf went on me.  I'm beginning to think I'm overrun and may need some down time.  Things hurt and it's just the way it is.  Always hobbling around nowadays and haven't felt fresh in a couple months. [50:21]

8-22 - Wednesday: am - 4 miles (trails and roads). From my house, down 113 to Ward Parcel trail. 1  mile loop in there, then back and up to Cascades + add-on and back down.  pm - 19.5 miles (roads).  From my house to the Pizza Barn in Ossipee and back.  Thought it would be around 10 out and 10 back.  Was close. Measured when I got home.  Very even splits.  1:07:34 out and 1:07:23 on the way back (and I took a slightly longer way back and didn't cut through the town garden across the street from my house and just went to the end of the street and around...probably 20 second difference). For the way my legs felt when I left my house, I'll take it!  My hamstrings were super tight all week (I think from the Washington climb on Sunday). They were really sore from the get go today but I managed to just keep it steady. Cardio is ridiculous right now...but legs are really giving me a hard time.  If my legs and feet didn't hurt so much from top to bottom, I'd be in pretty good shape.  [2:14:58].  Total for the day: 23.5.

8-21 - Tuesday: 10 miles (trails).  Just shy of 3 loop around Whitaker Woods trails [20:05] then 3.1 5k Fun Run w/ the Milers after the Summer Series awards.  [22:47]. Then immediately into another 5k loop of the course in [21:09]. Then 1+ mile loop with Roger as a cooldown - [10:33]  Total [1:14:38].

8-20 - Monday: 10.5 miles (roads).  Solo lake bang (clockwise) around Silver Lake.  Started off nice and easy and started picking it up a little on Lead Mine...eased into a steady pace on the backside stretch on 41 and back up 113.  Awesome weather...warm but not that humid...really nice time of year (now that most of the deer flies are gone)  [1:10:47]

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Training 08-13 - 08-19

Weekly Wrap Up: 86 miles with one decent road race (or at least 80% of it), a tempo trail race effort, some good road runs, a nice trail run, and a fantastic long run in the mountains.  I was well under my goal for the week (again) but considering my calf isn't 100% yet, I'll take 86 miles.  Just gotta keep buildin' them hurtin' bombs...

8-19 - Sunday: 12.1 miles (trails, mountains). Solo. Redlining up at Mt. Washington.  From Glen Ellis Falls, went up Glen Boulder Trail to Davis Path.  Then along past Boott Spur and up to Crawford Path and then up to Mt. Washington Summit.  Awesome day for it.  Not hot, not that cold (until I got up to the summit and stopped to take get a quick snack) and absolutely zero wind.  Not too many folks out on the trails other than Tuckerman, which was ridiculous.  I think most people think that's the only trail that goes up the rockpile.  Came down Tuckerman for just a little bit and bolted across the Lawn Cutoff and then down Davis Path a little and then onto Boott Spur Trail all the way down to AMC Pinkham Notch Lodge.  Then cut across to Direttissima for the way back to the car.  [2:50:01].

Photo Set from the run can be seen here.

8-18 - Saturday:
11 miles (roads, dirt roads, trails). From my house, up to the Cascades then out to Mooney Hill (extended loop) and up to Pound Rd. and down to E. Madison Rd.  Then headed up Lead Mine Rd. and then up Daniel Ward (through Darin Brown's property) and up towards Stacey Mtn.  Didn't make it to the top as I wasn't sure where the trail (if it exists) was off of the end of Daniel Ward.  Explored up there for a bit and then headed back down to Darin's and out down Lead Mine again and back to the house.  Felt great despite the heat and beating sun.  Calf wasn't an issue at all.  [1:15:04].

8-17 - Friday: 10 miles (roads).  E.Madison and Silver Lake.  From house, down 113 to Silver Lake and down around East Shore Drive a bit and then back.  HOT.  Calf twinged a little on the way back but manageable. Moved pretty good on this one for a change (it's about the flattest 10 miles you can come up with around here). [1:07:32].

8-16 - Thursday: 13.2 miles (roads).  4 mile w/up (3 w/ Nathan Huppe and another mile w/ strides before 10K in Rye) + Race: Saunders at Rye Harbor 10K - 2nd OA - 32:32.  Got my arse handed to me (again) by Andy Huebner.  I ran a so-so race.  Good enough for 2nd and some cash and swag.  I ran 40 seconds slower than 2 years ago (the last time I raced there) but I'll take it.  2 years older and I've been battling my calf the past week +.  I kind of thought a DNF or some other disaster was a possibility, so I'll take the 2nd place.  The results are currently messed up with some guys missing from the top 10 but I'm sure they'll fix it.  Cooled down another 3 miles w/ Verrington, Darin Brown, and Nate 'the Great' Huppe along some nice oceanside roads and part on a rocky beach.  Hit up the food court in the Fox Run Mall in Newington w/ D.Brown on the way back up to Madison.  Not sure what the weekend holds in store (other than the Mahoney-Searles wedding festivities on Saturday in Tamworth) but I'm playing it by ear.  Will see how the calf holds up tomorrow.  May just put some miles in the bank instead of race again.

8-15 - Wednesday: am - 4 miles (roads) in E. Madison.  Out and back on E. Madison Rd (w/ hill) [27:38].  pm - 8 miles (roads, trails) in Madison.  Out and back on E. Madison Rd. + out and back down 113 + up to Cascades and back down.  [56:16].  Total for the day: 12

8-14 - Tuesday: am - 8 miles (roads, dirt roads) in E. Madison. Hilly loop out back from my house. Felt ok. Lots of climbing over first half. Calf felt OK. A little hint of a problem early and that's all I need to ruin the run. Just kept thinking about it the whole time and kept it nice and easy.  It's hard not to get a workout in when doing these runs.  The hills are like nothing else I have been used to and there is no getting away from them around here.  Hot and sunny.  [58:39] - pm - 9.5 miles (trails) - 2 mile w/up (15:00) then Summer Series 5k (trail) - T-1st. 18:20. Ran w/ Tim Livingston and talked the whole way. Easy tempo effort and neither of us raced at all..just kept the turnover going.  Last series race of the year.  4.4 mile cooldown w/ Peter Haine, Zach, and a couple other local speedsters over the trails in Whitaker [35:39].  Calf felt good on warmup and during the race it was a non-issue.  Cooldown there was a tiny bit of discomfort, but not bad.  Total for the day: 17.5

8-13 - Monday: 10.2 miles (trails) in North Conway w/ Kevin Tilton and Josh Katzman (Inov-8).  Started at Cathedral Ledge and ran up and around all the trails between there and the mineral site area.  Lots of single track climbs, some snowmobile trail, logging roads, and some stream crossings.  Nice and easy while watching my calf and trying not to strain it.  Side-stepped a lot of the climbs.  The calf seems to be better on trails than roads.  I think the steady, unchanging stride of a road run is what is aggravating it.  Good to mix it up a bit and get off the pavement.  I have been icing, massage, stim, stick, heat, and stretching. We'll see how this week goes.  [1:48:00].

Monday, August 13, 2012

Wellinghurst 5k

On Tuesday night the White Mountain Milers Weekly 5K Trail Series took a week off as it does each year, in order for the locals to run the James Wellinghurst 5k in Madison, NH.  This race literally starts .1 miles (one tenth) from my house. I can see the staring line in front of the Madison Church from my living room window.  This makes the shortest commute to a race starting line that I've ever had. I literally could see the registration table from my front yard.  I jogged up to register and went back down to the house where my parents were waiting to take a walk up to the starting area to watch the race go off.  The race is pretty low key, with no bibs and a $5 entry fee.  But it is literally in my front yard so I couldn't pass it up.

On Monday, my calf started to go bad on my run and it really made me cautious about my morning run on Tuesday.  I previewed the course (which is just over 3 miles and not a full 5k) and ran very easy, as my calf was still a problem.  By race time, I warmed up very lightly and shorter than normal and then got on the line and hoped for the best.

The course starts on a downhill on Rt. 113 (Conway Rd) and then hooks right, right in front of my house, and heads down 113 in a nice downhill slope for the entire first mile (with one small bump in the middle). The course then climbs up a little before taking a sharp left onto Danforth Ln and starts to climb for most of the 2nd mile, gradually up Danforth, which is also paved.  3/4 of the 2nd mile is uphill and paved, and then turns to dirt and a logging road that cuts across to Winter St., which is a nice dirt road that is all downhill back to Rt. 113. The course then takes a sharp left back onto 113 and hooks around by the lake and over to the train station / Silver Lake post office to the finish.  The last mile is a combination of some downhill and flat dirt road and paved road.

As the gun went off, I quickly moved out to the front and immediately found out that I had a hard time pushing the pace because of the downhill.  Starting downhill in a '5k' is tough.  I'd much rather have the downhill in the middle or end of the course.  Having it at the beginning, when you are fresh, is pretty difficult, for me anyways.  I felt like I was going too slow but couldn't really go much faster.  It was a weird feeling. I kept thinking that everyone was going to come blowing past me but that didn't happen.  I missed the first mile split but I know it was fast.  The chase pack went through in sub 4:50 so I know I was a bit faster.  I pushed OK up the 2nd mile and felt 'better' but not that great.  I cut across the dirt road and over to Winter St. for the dirt road descent back to 113 and clicked through 2 miles in 10:04.  I had a pretty good lead and rolled down the 2nd mile and dumped out onto the main road, where I saw Kristin and my mom driving by and they were yelling for me as I hit the last flat road section to the finish. I wasn't really pushing it here and just kept up the steady pace as I didn't think I was going to run that fast after splitting over 10 minutes through 2...but I came across in 15:04.  That was 16 seconds under Kevin Tilton's 2004 record run of 15:20.  Zach Switaj (UMass Dartmouth) was 2nd in 16:08 or so and Tim Livingston was right behind him by a couple seconds.

After the race, I headed back up the course for a cooldown with Zach before he drove me back down from the church for the awards.  For my efforts, I got a Madison Old Home Week t-shirt and bragging rights for taking down what some were saying was the most impressive course record in Madison ;).  After, I jogged up to Burke Field with Roger Marcoux (who won this race in 1989) where I met my parents and Kristin for a BBQ and live band as part of Old Home Week.  After that, I jogged back up the road (less than a half mile) to my house and called it a night.

Good times in town, as usual...

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Training 08-06 - 08-12

Weekly Wrap Up: 71.7 miles. About 35 miles less than my 'plan'.  The 'long' run didn't happen and 2 days turned into small singles rather than 2 big doubles. Had to do it though. My calf is acting up again just like last September and that is VERY BAD.  This could lead to months of garbage and no racing again, which is unacceptable.  Backed off a bit to salvage any hope of racing this year.  Pretty bummed but still managed OK miles for me, considering what has happened.

8-12 - Sunday: 10 miles (roads and trails) - Madison (solo).  From my house down the Wellinghurst course and back + some roads off of the course and the Ward Parcel trails + the Cascades up and back (soaked the legs for 5 minutes in a full rushing Cascades, which is great to see thanks to all the rain we've had recently).  Calf was an issue but never ripped into a full on hurt mode.  I'll take it although I'm running VERY carefully right now. Sucks. [1:10:02]

8-11 - Saturday: am: 4 miles on Walmart trails in Conway.  Ran up through Redstone and around some of the single track and snowmobile trails.  Calf stiff and sore. [27:04] pm: 8 miles (roads) - E. Madison Rd. from my house, north up towards the Albany town line and back. Calf sore but never 'went' completely bad.  Step in the right direction hopefully. [56:40].  Lots of ice, stretching, massage, and electrical stim.  Trying to keep this in check.  Total for the day: 12

8-10 - Friday: 4 miles (roads). Useless day. Calf is junk. Officially taking some down time this week to rest this and try to salvage my health before I end up on the DL again for months. [28:41]

8-09 - Thursday: 6 miles (roads).  Week is officially going to sh*te.  Calf is horrible. [45:52]

8-08 - Wednesday: am - 4 miles (roads). E. Madison. Solo.  From house, up and back.  [29:35].  pm - 8 miles (mountain/trails) - Chocorua climb from Paugus Rd.  Up Liberty Trail and down Brook Trail.  Some redlining for a change.  Good to get off the roads and back into the mountains.  [1:30:20]. Total on the day: 12

Photo set here.

8-07 - Tuesday: am - 6.2 miles (roads).  E. Madison.  Solo. From house, did the Wellinghurst 5k course out and back (+ addon from my house and back).  Hot and humid. Really watching the calf.  Making sure I was OK to go on it.  Really nervous and took it easy at the beginning and tested it near the end.  Had been hydrating hard over the last half day since yesterday's disaster w/ the calf.  [45:49].  pm - 10.5 miles (roads) - 2.5 mile w/up before race + Race: Wellinghurst 5k - 1st OA - 15:04 - started about 100 yards from my front door at the Madison Church.  The course went down to the Silver Lake Post Office / Trail Station + 3 mile cooldown by running the course in reverse back up to the start.  Got a ride back to the train station for the awards.  Then ran w/ Roger Marcoux up to Burke Field to meet my family for a BBQ (Madison Old Home Day) and concert.  Then ran from there, back to the house.  Total cooldown was 5 miles.  Total for the day: 16.7

8-06 - Monday: 11 miles (roads).  In Tamworth from the town hall.  First 3+ solo and then 7.5 or so with KT.  We were going to do a full 11 mile loop but my calf started to really pull and hurt during the early 3 miles I did before Kevin got there.  It was really sore during our run and we had to cut across some snowmobile trails and cut the loop short halfway through.  Had to be safe and try to salvage the week by cutting it short and tending to the calf.  Stretching, massage, ice, etc. for the rest of the day. Hydration as well. I fear I may have been dehydrated a bit after Saturday's race in the heat. [1:19:50].

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Dam Trail Race

This past weekend I ran down in Oxford, MA at the Dam Trail Race (results) put on by the Central Mass Striders.  This race is usually around 10 miles (just over) and has changed each time I've run it during the past 3 years. I was attending a cookout south of Boston on Saturday anyways so I figured I'd hit up this race and then continue southeast afterwards.

The weather for this one was hot and humid to say the least.  The sun was already blazing when I got there after sitting for near 3 hours in the nice and comfortable confines of my car (w/ AC cranking of course).  After registering, I headed out for a warm-up with John Pajer and Marty Ellowitz over the first part of the course.  Then it was over to the line for some last minute strides and warming up. As I looked around at the start, there appeared to be a few fast looking potentials but no one I really recognized from previous years or any of the usual suspects.

As the gun went off, I quickly moved out to the lead over the first half mile or so, which is dirt road.  There are plenty of loose rocks and sand and other rough footing on a lot of it, so it is a tough first part of the race but gets easier as you dip into some single track about a half mile in.  During this stretch, I had what sounded like a couple of followers hot on my tail, but I didn't want to look to see who they were and just kept pushing to try to stay in first place.

It took a few minutes in the single track (which is essentially the next majority of the race) to start to lose the chase pack and I could no longer hear footfalls by maybe a mile and half in. I tried to relax after a couple miles, as I usually do in this race, once I remember that it is a 10+ miler and not a 5k.  There is a lot of rolling ups and downs and switchbacks and many parts of the course where you feel like you're double-backing on (although that only happens a couple times).  After a few miles I started to peek back and didn't see anyone (a replay of last year).  I continued to push and was really starting to burn up from the hot and humid temps.  I wore a singlet which I wish I had gone without, and it felt like 10 extra lbs on me.

There was one straight section where you come out into a clearing, cross a dirt access road, and then run down a dirt road across an open field.  You can see very far back during this section.  I peeked back a couple times here including at the end of it, and did not see anyone back in view. I knew I had a good lead and just tried to maintain.  There are a few more sections of dirt roads mixed in with single track and one small change to the course this year, where it goes from 10.5 miles down to 10.3 (avoiding a wooded section of single track and substituting in a sandy hill and road section instead).  I also hit a nice stream crossing and chose the wrong side to try to cross. Apparently it was run-able to the right, but I decided to try to cross over to the left and ended up having to jump into a waist-deep section of water and slog back out of to get going again.  It was actually kind of refreshing but definitely slowed me down a bit.

After one last field crossing (in an open recreation area with tennis courts, etc.) it was back into the woods again and more single track until I reached the dirt road section that you'd be on and off a few times on the way back to the finish area.  I was glancing at my watch here, thinking about my time and wondering how it would stand up to the previous couple years.  I knew I was running OK and felt better here than I did last year at this point.  I pushed on and hit the last couple of single track sections that weave off and back onto the road and then hit the last dirt road section back to the finish.  I ended up coming across in 1:04:04 and taking my 3rd win here in the last 3 years.  I ran just slightly faster than my previous CR of 1:04:31 (for the 10.5 mile version). I think the course was accurately measured, as some folks with GPS' had it at 10.33, etc.  I finished 3:37 ahead of the next finisher, Bob Hult, who I ran down Ascutey with a few weeks ago.

I gathered up some water and went out for a horrendously hot and slow cooldown on my own, over some of the course and the access road before heading back for the awards.  I won $50 for 1st and found out this may be the last race, as the RD is stepping aside and is looking for someone to go and take over.  I hope someone steps up.  It's a good location for a race and the course is pretty fast, with almost zero major climbs.  If you like a good fast trail race with good footing, this is one of the best around.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Training 07-30 - 08-05

Weekly Wrap Up: 100.7 miles for the week. Originally had scheduled a little more but my weekend plans changed. I was on pace until then.  My schedule will be a general guide and will obviously change as needed.  I think it was OK to back off just a little (from the original plan) and still get 100 miles in.  Need to make sure I'm handling the aches and pains that come w/ the increased mileage without overdoing it and getting hurt.  Two decent races this week (both 10 milers) and a good workout on the track.  Summer is in full swing with the heat and humidity but the training is going as planned (so far).

8-05 - Sunday: 10 miles (roads/grass).  Last day of the week and I almost missed it.  Did a lot of yard work during the hottest part of the day after waking up w/ very stiff/sore feet and achilles. My plantar has also been a little sore, but nothing more than just an effect of the additional miles.  I waited until later in the day and then we had a monsoon come through.  Rain, wind, tree damage, you name it.  It cleared in time for me to get 10 miles in (shorter than I wanted but enough to get me over the century mark again).  I hit the roads for a bit, then the grass at Burke Field.  I ran barefoot for 30 minutes in the middle of the run. Laps around the athletic fields. Felt really good on the feet.  The rest on the roads.  [1:13:10].

8-04 - Saturday: 17.3 miles (trails/dirt roads).  Day 2 in a row of running less than planned.  Initially I planned on running 20 miles in the am but had a change of plans late Friday night so I decided to head down to Oxford, MA early to run the Dam Trail Race put on by the Central Mass Striders.  I've done this race 3 years in a row now and won all 3 years.  Had the course record set last year in the 10.5 mile version of the course.  This year (which may be the last year of the race) the course was just ever so slightly different at 10.3 miles (some GPS' had 10.4).  I ran about 26 seconds faster this year than last.  It was horrendously hot and humid.  I don't remember racing in that much heat and rivaled even the most oppressive Yankee Homecoming years for me.  4 mile w/ up + strides + Race: Dam Trail Race - 1st OA - 1:04:05 + cooldown 3 miles.  Total for the day: 17

8-03 - Friday: 10 miles (roads). Solo. Easy does it.  Was planning on running 4 and 8 as a recovery but had to work through lunch and didn't get out until late.  Ran an easy out and back around the lake from my house (along 113 and 41).  Out 5 and back.  Humid.  [1:13:59]

8-02 - Thursday: am - 8 miles (roads). Solo.  Out and back on E. Madison Rd. to the house that Kevin almost bought and then back down.  Then up and back to the Cascades + a little add-on.  Soaked for a few min. in the Cascades.  Brutally hot (lunch run actually).  Sun was beating the whole time and I felt horrible on the roads.   [58:31]  pm - 11 miles (track workout).  3 miles w/up on rec. trails and track w/ Kevin Tilton at Kennett H.S. Track.  Then 5 continuous miles at marathon pace.  Just tried to bang 84s (approx) for 20 laps (obviously no rest).  Kevin and I alternated every 2 laps, taking the lead.  It was HOT on the track.  I setup water on a little table but we didn't take any.  The workout wasn't quite long enough.  Splits: 81/82/83/84 (5:31) 84/83/84/83 (5:36) 83/84/84/83 (5:36) 82/84/85/83 (5:36) 82/84/82/80 (5:30).  Idea was to run 5:37 pace (i.e. my PR marathon pace).  Mission basically accomplished.  My 5 mile time was 27:49.  This may not seem that special (i.e. it's basically a Joe Navas 'easy' 5 miler in the afternoon) but it's a good workout on a hot day, after running a lot of miles and races over the last week and a half (plus 8 miles at lunch).  Finished up the day w/ a 3 mile cooldown on the road going in and out of Kennett + a couple laps on the track.  Total for the day: 19

8-01 - Wednesday: am - 8 miles (roads). Solo.  Out and back on E. Madison Rd.  All the way up and down to the camp.  Hot with the sun beating down.  As I turned to run back up E. Madison Rd. there was a guy at the summer camp standing there and said 'have fun running back up that!'.  Love the local encouragement around here. [59:08].  Crawled on the way out, worked on the way back.  pm - 8 miles (roads).  With Kevin Tilton from ranger station on the Kanc.  Out and up past the Darby Field Inn and around and down to the station again on side roads.  Then some loops and running out in the fields behind the middle school and over the Kennett XC course.  Pretty sweet running in there.  Buggy.  [1:00:46].  Slightly over 8 miles.  Total for the day: 16

7-31 - Tuesday: am - 4 miles (roads). Solo.  Out and back on E. Madison Rd.  [30:44].  pm - 14 miles  as: 4m w/up before Yankee Homecoming race w/ Dan Vassallo (for most of it), then solo strides and other warming up.  Then race: Yankee Homecoming 10 Miler (results) - Newburyport, MA.  6th OA - 53:40.  Thought I was 7th.  Not sure if the results are wrong or not...  Not a 'bad' effort but was really hurting early and had a horrible last half of the race (even though I mowed people down most of the way).  I let one guy (Ian Nurse) pass me during the entire race and he got me at 7 miles and just stayed a little ahead of me the whole way.  Didn't really run fast (considering) but 'raced' ok, as I just kept passing people who went out too fast.  Could have been a lot worse.  I was kind of hoping for sub 53 like last year but even with the good weather, I just felt slow and tired.  I guess that will come w/ the territory of racing 3 races in 4 days after running 100+ miles for the week.  Again though, this is all stops on the way to the goal.  Despite catching up w/ the good mates (great to see Patrick Rich back in action) disappointed that we had only 4 racing team guys show up and we had to rely on a non-racing team member for our 5th guy (and believe me, I'm THRILLED that 56 year old Scott Lauer showed up and put 'CMS' as his team).  Without him, we wouldn't have gotten 2nd place at least. Still cashed in for some team money.  Would have liked to 3-peat for the team title but it wasn't happening.   No warm down as I had to screw over to my nephew's birthday part in N.Andover, MA for a bit before heading back up north 2 hours.  Didn't get home until 12:30am.  Total for the day: 18

7-30 - Monday: am - 4 miles (roads and trails). Solo.  Up through the Cascades from my backyard and continued on to Mooney Hill Rd. and down to 113.  Back to house, then up and back to the Cascades again.  [30:15].  pm - 6.4 miles (roads and dirt roads) with Kevin Tilton in Conway.  From school in Center Conway on Mill Rd.  Loop that Kevin drafted up.  Buggy dirt roads. [49:25]. Nice and easy today as a rest day before a potential go at Newburyport tomorrow.  Still a chance I may bail.  Will make up my mind tomorrow.  Just running regular miles and not having to sit for 5 hours in the car is looking more and more enticing to me...but I'll probably end up racing... Total for the day: 10.4

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Yankee Homecoming 10 Miler

Last night I ran down in Newburyport, MA for my 5th straight mid-summer classic race at Yankee Homecoming (results).  I run the 10 mile distance (the race having a 5k and 10 mile option).  I first ran this in 2008, while competing in my first USATF-NE Grand Prix for MVS.  Since then, I have made it a late July/early August standard.  The race is usually fun, competitive, and HOT.  Normally this race is a grind in obscene late day sun and the heat of mid summer.  This year, the weather was as good as you can possibly want.  It wasn't too hot or humid, and overcast for the whole race.  I figured there was an outside shot of me being able to run sub 53 minutes here again but it wasn't to be.

It only took me slightly less than 2 hours to get into the race from Madison.  I was there pretty early and got a great parking spot, within view of the start/finish and registration.  I registered for the race and started to see a lot of faster guys showing up (unlike last year, when I actually got 2nd in this race behind Justin Freeman (RUN)).  I knew that the word must have gotten out that there may be easy money here (they pay the top 4, with first place getting 500 beans). I warmed up w/ Daniel J. Vassallo (CMS)  who was back in his usual 'angry young man' pre-race costume and knew he was fired up for a good run.  I was hopeful that we'd put together a good team (which was playing out to be better than last year's winning team) and my feelings about that were strengthened when I ran into Patrick Rich (CMS) (last year's Cape Cod Marathon champion) just before the start.  Dan and Rich and myself made 3 and Al Bernier (CMS) came trotting over, which was a big surprise, driving all the way up from Rhode Island. I looked around and didn't see anyone else but figured someone else had to be there.

The race actually started EARLY by a couple minutes (according to my watch) and took a lot of people by surprise on the line. I barely made it back to the line from a stride and the gun was fired.  I attacked the first mile as I wanted to initially, running SLOW.  That was the good news.  Typically the race goes out WAY too fast and people end up dying off one by one over miles 2-5 because it is usually so hot.  Last year I went out at 5:07 and wound up averaging 5:16s.  This year, I wanted to run 5:16s again, but wanted to try to run even.  Running along side Pat and Matt Ely (BAA) and Ian Nurse (BAA) over the first 2 miles, we managed a pretty even start.  The bad news was that I clicked through 1 mile in 5:13 and felt HORRIBLE.  It felt way too fast and that was a bad sign.  I was hoping to hear low 5s as we passed by the split.  I knew I wasn't going to run a 'fast' time (for me) after hearing that split.  We were dropped by the lead group which looked to be made up of about 12 or so guys.  Up in the group were a few Kenyan runners from out of state and a very strong RUN squad (which included seacoast runner Andy Huebner).  Also Danny V and Dan Hocking (BAA) were battling in the mix and my group was forced back into a small no-mans-land chase pack.

At the mile, after getting some water from Matt Ely (class act who will be missed as he leaves for Oregon soon) and chatting about pace a little with Patrick and Ian, I moved ahead a little bit as the race turned onto the first side road.  As I pushed a little on the slight downhill during this section, Matt gave me some encouragement and told me to go push up to get the guys up front who were already starting to drop back.  I looked up to see a couple of RUN Kenyan runners and Ethan Brown (GLRR) dropping back.  As I moved towards them over the next mile, I ran into what is usually the only thing that stinks about this race.  I'm sorry to say.  I never like publicly complaining about something at a race (to sound like someone else out there in the blogosphere who is always complaining about races) but I must say that (ok, Rant starting)... weaving in and out of back-of-the-packers in the obscenely crowded 5k is ridiculous.  They are ALL OVER the road and most are running with headphones and waving to the crowd and playing with water and posing for pictures and weaving side to side, oblivious to competitive 10 mile runners coming up from behind and who are going 3x as fast.  It gets seemingly worse every single year.  If anyone from the race who has any say in the planning sees this, please consider changing this somehow.  It is horrible for the lead runners in the 10 mile.  I had a friend who also ran, call me after to tell me he had to nail one of the kids in front of him who just weaved right in front of him without any warning and they almost fell over.  This is ridiculous.  A couple of years ago, as if there wasn't already zero room to spare at all in this stretch, a damn ambulance was in the middle of the mob, loading someone into it.  I had to tip toe through a near non-existent pathway on the side of the road to get around.  Again, crazy.  It may be fun for the fun-runner 5k crowd who are more concerned with waving and high-fiving as they get in people's way who are trying to RACE, but for the 10 milers, it kind of stinks. (OK rant over).

I caught Ethan and Titus Mutinda (RUN) and another RUN runner after 3 miles (having clicked through some relatively consistent splits) and then pushed up to try to catch Joseph Koech (RUN), Joseph Ekuom (RUN), and masters runner Kefah Keraro from NY.  As I caught Kefah (who was running with Koech), he surged with me and very obviously picked up his pace and tried to stay with me.  He was breathing very hard and was working considerably harder as we turned onto the hill leading up to the start of the section that heads into Maudslay.  I dropped him a little on the hill on the way up.  This was just after clicking through 5 miles in about 20 seconds or so slower than last year.  I knew at that point, I was NOT going to be running what I thought I might be able to run and now it was about maintaining place and trying to push up to catch someone else.

For the next mile or so, I was alone, not really looking back, but instead looking up to see the police car still, and the lead back way ahead.  Someone had dropped back a little off the pace, but I couldn't tell who it was.  He was too far up to make out but with the white uniform it may have been Dan.  I thought at that point I'd catch up, but then after clicking through 6 miles, my race officially went to crap. I slowed considerably and just felt tired and heavy.  My miles and recent racing spurt had caught up with me and I started a marathon type paced run from then on.  Just before 7 miles, I looked back to see how far back the runners I had passed already were, and saw Ian Nurse had also come along for the ride and was now mowing me down.  He caught me just after 7 miles as we climbed up out of the park and headed towards the main road.  He told me to hop on for the ride back into town and I did adjust a little and stayed about 15 feet behind him for the next couple miles.  He pulled me along up over the overpass and through miles 8 and 9.  Over the last mile stretch, I felt like I was getting caught by the field and Ian was just slightly pulling away.  I had zero motivation and zero desire to get into a sprint with Ian over what I thought was a 10th or so place finish, so I just settled in and finished up in 53:40.

I was about a minute or so back of where I wanted to be realistically.  I wasn't about to complain though, because being my 3rd race in 4 days and having started a mileage buildup, I was half expecting to maybe tank at this race if I felt tired.  I kind of did that over the last half of the race.  I'll take a 7th place and a sub 54 though.  Until I ran 52:30s last year, I would have thought a 53-something was a really good run for me, so I can't be that upset (although I did split faster at New Bedford a couple years ago!).

5:14 - 8 seconds slower than last years split
5:14 (10:29) - 3 seconds slower than last years split
5:23 (15:53) - 1 second faster than last years split
5:10 (21:03) - 5 seconds slower than last years split
5:18 (26:21) - 2 seconds faster than last years split
5:29 (31:51) - 3 seconds slower than last years split
5:25 (37:16) - 5 seconds slower than last years split
5:28 (42:44) - 12 seconds slower than last years split
5:27 (48:12) - 9 seconds slower than last years split
5:27 (53:40) - 19 seconds slower than last years split!!!!

As you can see, ugly last half. 27:19 last 5 miles vs 26:21 first half.  Just really died slowly but the good news is that I only got passed in the race by one person and mowed down a slew of others (which seems to be the way things work here lately for me).  I like racing that way, just don't like slowing down that much while doing it.

Very disappointed that we didn't field a full team for this race.  We had thought for sure that a couple more guys would be going but obviously stuff happens...  I made the trip down there kind of on the basis of having a solid team to compete with.  It took me 2 hours to drive and Al Bernier drove up from Rhode Island to try to help the team.  Couple that with me being tired and over raced (and still showing up), and it was just a little disheartening that we didn't get a better showing.  We ended up basically having 4 guys when we needed 5 for the easy win.  Thankfully Patrick Rich showed up (he usually does) and that really helped us.  Danny V 2.0 mixing it up up front was also huge.  In the end, we had a regular CMS senior club runner (who thankfully showed up and put CMS as his team to help us get at least the 2nd place) as our 5th man.  Thank goodness he was there or I would have really been peeved.  We normally have a good turnout for this race.  In the end, we only lost $100 bucks and it's really not about the cash as it is the bragging rights, but I at least wanted to make my entry fee and gas money back.  It was kind of a crappy feeling standing there with a great top 4, and just seeing gads and gads of Whirlaway and RUN runners come flying in with no 5th man in sight.

One bright spot is that I won my age group :).  Can't complain about that.  A bunch of 'young bucks' out there tonight!