Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Jones 10 Miler

Well, the moral of the story is: there is more than one way to a 55:05 10 mile, and I chose the hard way. Up by 6am and out the door by 6:45 to meet up with new CMS teammate Tim Mallard and headed on our way to Amherst. Had some good tunes flowing on the ride over and Tim and I were both excited for the prospect of racing. It had been a while since Boston Prep and I was really curious to see if my fitness had changed much over the last couple weeks. My training had been so-so with recent cold symptoms and sore arches. Coming off the cold that got to my lungs, I was worried my ability to hold a tough pace might be hindered. Regardless of the conditions I was determined to bring a hard effort. I had goals of scoring for CMS (top 5) and breaking my PR of 56:18 (Jones 10, 2010). 

It was a beautiful blue-bird Februrary morning from inside the car, but upon arrival I realized the winds from Saturday hadn't exactly died down. Making our way to number pick-up, you could just feel the energy in cafeteria. It was great to see that so many good runners from the NE area had come out to race. I noticed a number of really solid BAA guys right away and knew CMS would need to seriously rise to the challenge if we wanted to compete.

I was so excited and chatting it up with people that I had forgotten to change into my running shoes and almost missed the group as they headed out for warm-up. Tim, Alan B, and Kevin G and I jogged easy for 15-20 minutes and then it was sort of hectic getting to the starting line. Jogging over I did a couple quick pick-ups and stretched a few tight muscle groups. Before I knew it we were on the line and the starting gun sounded.

The first mile went by effortlessly as it nearly always does. I was in a huge pack composed of a majority of the big guns. I could see Nate Jenkins out front and Greg Hammett and Brandon Newbould, plus a dozen or two others, just ahead of me. I hit the mile in about 5:14, 16 seconds faster than I had intended. The second mile was downhill and probably even faster. I didn't wear a watch so I have pretty limited data for the race overall. Of course hindsight is 20/20, but I think it was a mistake to go out as hard as I did. By the time I got to the 3 mile mark I was feeling some serious acid pouring into the bloodstream and my hip flexors were tight. Overall my quads felt flat. On the brighter side, my breathing felt as good as could be hoped for.

Just beginning the hill, teammate Kevin Tilton came by me at a cadence I couldn't match. He offered some words of encouragement and then disappeared up the hill in front of me. I let a lot of people get away on the hill and mile 4 must have been slow. I was a little freaked out that I was hurting so bad so early on, so I tried my best to recover and resume a good cadence atop the hill. I knew I had a decent buffer with the 2 fast miles to start. Sometime around the top of the major hill, new CMSer Dan Vassallo came alongside me. He and I chatted briefly and began working on chasing down a few guys just ahead. 

Miles 5 and 6 rolled by pretty uneventfully.  Dan gapped me slightly, but I chased down and passed a GBTC guy and otherwise maintained position. I enjoyed the small rollers and the dirt road was really nicely packed compared to the ice and mud from 2010. Around 6 1/2 I developed a pretty mean side stitch and had to back off a bit to recover. I'm pretty sure I was running mid-high 5:20s through 7 miles but then I had a serious lapse in focus. Dan was gaining ground on me and I was running in no-man's-land. Rather than focus on maintaining form, I started tuning out the race and my pace started slipping. 

I tried to take a cup of water from an aid station but instead I choked, taking no water down, and staggered to keep running. Right around this point a pack finally caught me and I did my best to tuck in with them to protect myself from the wind in mile 8. I hung onto the pack as we approached the brutal last 1.3 miles of the course. There is roughly a 3/4 mile long hill and it turned directly into the oncoming wind gusts. I took shelter behind a tall BAA runner and moved past him as we crested the hill. 

UNH alumni Hoogie had passed me on the hill going for broke. Seeing him pulled me out of my complacency and I started kicking with him. Cresting the hill, I passed a couple more guys and I could see the finish. Rounding into the parking lot, the clock read 54:20 and I knew that 55:00 would be a challenge. I worked the oval parking lot like an indoor track, pushing the straight, relaxing into the final turn and drove the final straight hard, finishing in 55:05 for 29th place. I was pretty sure I had been the fifth CMS man behind Jenkins, Hammett, Tilton and Vassallo. 

Overall I'm pretty well satisfied with my effort, but I also have areas for improvement. I probably should have run more even splits because it felt like I was running backwards a lot of the race. Compared with Boston Prep where I finished faster than I started, this race was a whole other animal. I went out probably under 10:20 for 2 miles and faded to 5:30/mile. Tim had the opposite experience where he was dropping 5:20s late in the race after a more moderate start. A friend asked me how I thought my time at Amherst compared to Boston Prep and I'm pretty sure Boston Prep was a superior effort. ~54:30 at Amherst might have been roughly equivalent. I was also bummed that I lost focus and let go several guys who beat me by only a few seconds. My competitive spirit is slowly waking. Moving forward with more racing I hope to stay competitive all the way through the finish line. 

Ultimately though, I achieved both of my goals. #1 Score for CMS - I scored, snagging the 5th spot but well back from Dan and Kevin who ended up finishing together. Still, this is my first time scoring and I won't take it for granted! CMS has a really solid group from from 6-10 or 11 and any one of those guys can fit into the scoring in the next GP event. #2 Run under PR of 56:18 - I ran 73 seconds faster than 2010. That's a pretty nice stat and anytime I run a PR I have to be excited. Running in the mid-50s is promising for the shorter road stuff and I'm really interested in seeing what I can put together for a 5 Mile. Maybe St. Paddy's in Portsmouth? 

Post race it was a blast talking with so many friends and acquaintances in the running scene. It felt like almost everyone I know was there. The Open team finished 3rd behind the BAA and closely trailing GBTC. I'm confident the team will rise to the challenge for the upcoming GP races. You can sure as hell bet I'll have an eye out for that pack of 3 GBTC guys that went 54:30 three weeks from now at New Bedford! Tim and I cruised home recounting our races, I think each of us are feeling both satisfied and hungry for the next challenge ahead!


As a note to my teammates who had a tough race or are feeling banged up* The most important thing is to train and race healthy. If you have an injury that is manageable, then manage it. Get A.R.T., Chiropractic, Massage... whatever is necessary to manage it and continue running without too much pain. But if the injury is unmanageable and your gut tells you that the solution is rest, or PT, or surgery, then take care of it. This team is strong enough to await your healthy return to racing. Looking forward to the coming GP races with everybody.

Happy and healthy running,


Monday, February 20, 2012

Week 8: 2/20 - 2/26

Monday: 9.5 / 67 minutes in Maudslay state park in Newburyport solo. Beautiful late afternoon run. Ran easy.
Tuesday 8am: 11.8 / 83 minutes on Andover roads with Matt Germain. Nice morning and good to catch up with Matt. It was clear we're both pretty excited about this Sunday's race! Felt the morning sluggishness but loosened up and felt good by the end.
Wednesday: 2x2 mile aborted today. Warmed up 2 miles and felt like junk. Coughing up crap and feeling gassed on shallow grades. Ran one mile hard, and I mean HARD. My lungs felt like complete junk. The goal was to run 5:20 pace. I hit 1 mile in 5:30 on the nose. Feeling well out of my comfort zone, I checked my heart rate and I was at 191. I'm no expert, but 191 is insanely high for a tempo-like pace. I keep track of HR for workouts because of some past history with pericarditis or in layman's terms heart-exhaustion-syndrome. I slept 13 hours straight through last night and I've been dancing around a cold since Monday, so I guess this all makes sense. To be ready for Amherst I need to rest as much as possible and still get consistent miles. 8-9 miles every day to Sunday is my best shot at putting something together there. One day at a time! . . .
Thursday: Coughing up green gook this morning. Took the morning off of running. I definitely have more energy than yesterday so that's a positive change. Plan is to run easy 60 minutes after work this evening. #ihatebeingsick
Thursday pm: off - whiped out after work and felt little could be gained by running. Not good!
Friday: 7 miles / 45 minutes with 10 minutes of diagonals. Stride the diagonal length of the football field and jog the short straight. Felt good to open up, but still feeling generally off. Energy is basically there and I only coughed up stuff when I woke up.
Saturday: off - debated whether running would be beneficial today. Normally I'd have thought so, but looking towards tomorrow I just need to relax and run hard, and forget about this week. 
Sunday: 16 miles with 10 mile race. 55:05 good for 29th place overall and 5th man for CMS. Race report to follow. 

Total: 49 miles with two full days off, one bailed workout, and a long race. Need to step things up these next couple weeks. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Week 7: 2/13 - 2/19

Monday: 0 off - left arch isn't cooperating.
Tuesday: 0 planned day off just to be safe
Wednesday: 5 am, 4 pm easy, pain free but arch is tight.
Thursday: 10 miles / 65 minutes, some pain in the last 10 minutes or so.
Friday: 10 miles with 6k workout
Saturday: 10.3 / 75 minutes with a couple speedy miles scattered around
Sunday: 16.2 / 1:46 Bay Road with Spencer Sass, Marc Ouellette, and new CMS guy Tim Mallard. Beautiful day for a long run. Started out slowly and progressed to about 6:15 where we kept it for the last 5 miles. It was fun to catch up and share some stories.

Total: 55

I was frustrated with this week, but it wasn't a complete loss.. It began with some reservations about the status of my left arch/ankle area. It had become increasingly painful post-running while standing at work. Eventually it began hurting on runs and caused me to delay working out for 4-5 days. I can thankfully say that suggestions from a few trusted friends to rest for two consecutive days did the trick. On the brighter side, I still got in one light workout and a solid progressive long run. For next week I'm looking for 70 miles or so with a good hard run on Sunday at Amherst. I'm excited to return for second try there. A few years ago I went 56:18 on less training, but back then I also had a huge base. This year, I'll be satisfied if I'm able to score for CMS or PR. Both happen and I'm on cloud 9. Neither and I'll look forward to New Bedford and attempting to snag a new half PR. I am loving to run right now and it's finding satisfaction in each days' run that matters most.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Aussie quarters workout

Well, this is my rendition of the classic Aussie quarters anyway!

Warmup, 6000 meters of Aussie quarter running 10 x (400 on, 200 cruising), cooldown. I targeted 74-76 for the on portions just to get the legs moving. This was my first time on a track since last winter. Mile splits were 5:31, 5:32, 5:17, xx. I thought it would be more challenging to have 50s rest but the last few laps were nice and smooth and I cut down the rest portion throughout the workout

Felt pretty darn good aerobically, but it's really time to get my mechanics in order. My leg strength needs to improve if I want to run low 5's for longer races. After 8 laps I turned and did the remainder "backwards" just to work the legs a little differently.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Week 6: 2/6 - 2/12

Monday am: 5.5 / 40 minutes easy morning run. Feeling surprisingly well recovered from the workout yesterday, barring the usual little sore spots.
Tuesday am: 13 / 90 minutes in Andover solo on a mixture of trails and roads. Ran easy.
Tuesday pm: 3 miles easy 22:30 on the Andover high school track before the MVS practice. Drills.
Wednesday: 10.7 / 66 minutes in North Andover and Boxford. 4 miles at tempo: 5:16, 5:22, 5:24, 5:28. The last mile climbed about 40' so I think the effort was pretty even. I finished the run out with a couple more quick miles and grabbed an awesome burrito for lunch before work.
Thursday: 8.5 / 60 minutes easy running in Andover solo.
Friday am: 12.x / 87 minutes in Haverhill with Ken Tripp. Good running and good to catch up with my friend from Amesbury!
Saturday: 3 miles easy after work. My feet have been a little sore all week so I decided I needed a rest day.
Sunday: 10 / 65 minutes progression run in the dark.

Total: 67 miles.

Slightly down week. My legs were still feeling last Sunday's hill fartlek going into the workout on Wednesday so I tried to place an emphasis on recovery and allowing my legs to adapt. Looking forward to the week ahead!