Saturday, August 24, 2013

What in Blue Blazes?

I've just learned that the old phrase "What/where in Blue Blazes..." actually translates to "What/where in hell...". Maybe a little appropriate for one of these runs.

Blue blazes also mark the Buckeye Trail, and they also mark other ones as well. Some of those others are in the Colis P. Huntington State Park in Redding, CT. After reviewing the trail map, it appeared that the Blue Trail was the "main" one, and that following that most of the way around would be an ambitious run. I'd planned to do a longish run of about 15 miles, give or take, and figured that such an endeavor would be good to do on trails such as these.

When I'm running well, it's reasonable to assume that I can run 15 miles in two hours, or possibly a bit longer. Well, I did run for two hours and three minutes, but I only ran nine (9) miles. That's almost unbelievably slow. The problem was those terrible tough trails. There were rocks of all sizes, ruts, roots, twists and turns, hills, you name it. I started slow and simply got slower and slower. Four miles an hour for the first four, then 5 MPH after that.

My second run in Redding was a bit faster. I ran 13 miles in a bit over two hours - just about the same amount of time it took me to do nine miles the day before. Even this run was still not fast by any means. For this run I took the short route over to Joel Barlow High School, ran around the trails through the woods a few times, and then hit the track.

The trails there were more gentle than the ones at the park, so I was doing these at a "speedy" eleven minutes per mile. There was a mile of them, and I did a couple loops as well as some back and forth around the school grounds. I had seven miles done by the time I hit the track. Once there, things got faster: I did five 1200's in (a respectable) just under five minutes each.

That proved to be a good way to top off my Connecticut weekend running.

Hill Yes!

Debbie Scheel wanted to do the Hinckley loop backwards. This threw us all for a loop, so to speak. We nearly always run this hilly, 9.2 mile route around Hinckley Reservation in a clockwise direction, and for good reason: the (substantial) downhill sections are less steep that way. Of course this makes the uphill sections more steep, but that's not so bad. Steep downhills: bad; steep uphills: not quite so bad. But backwards we went. The final mile down Bellus is the most painful downhill part, but somehow we did it.

We'd started at five, and now at six-thirty, it was only beginning to think about getting light out. Debbie and a couple others were done; Will Bertemes and I were set to do another. There were other MCRR runners around, many making snarky remarks about this "marathon training" I am doing. (It's not - really!) The others would be running their own pace, so it was only Will and I doing the loop in the correct direction this time.

And that one went well too. After not doing Hinckley for some time, and especially after not doing two loops at Hinckley for an even longer time, this was a pretty good day.

Do you think I'll ever get back to doing three loops?

Friday, August 16, 2013

Avoiding Meteors, Postscript

The day after I had so successfully avoided any Perseid meteors, I saw one.

On a cool, crisp autumn-like morning, I got to the track at 4:45 AM - before everyone else. Right off the bat, I saw a meteor streak across the sky. Moments later, I noticed that I could spot, for the first time this season, the rise of Orion. It's like the return of an old friend. I know we've still got some warm days coming, but fall is on the way!

This morning was as good for running as it gets. After an unsuccessful attempt at a tempo run, I did get one in when Frank showed up a wee bit later. This was not unlike some of my other attempts at achieving escape velocity.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

How to Avoid Meteors

This is really about how to avoid seeing meteors, not how to avoid being hit by them. To accomplish the latter, I strongly suggest cave-dwelling.

No, this is about the former. Let's just, for the sake of argument, say that the Perseid Meteor Shower is going on, and you do not want to see it. Here is what you should do.

1) Begin by running the Perfect 10-Miler, as I did this past Sunday. Run fairly hard, so that you feel beat up afterwards.
2) Follow that up with an MCRR Club Picnic, where you eat way too much barbeque.
3) Try to run on Monday, but only make four miles at slower-than-snail pace.
4) Show up at the track for the usual 5am workout on Tuesday. Attempt the 'Michigan Workout', which consists of several mile intervals along with a 1200, 800 and 400. Don't run any of this stuff extremely fast, because you're still recovering. But do run fast enough to be beat up even more.
5) Hit the track again Tuesday evening for the MCRR track meet. Now run much slower than you should (and slower than mostly everyone else), but still go through the motions of the mile, 100, 400, 5000 and the shot put. Become still more beat up.
6) Tuesday night, set your alarm for 4am in order to get up and run yet again the next morning.
7) When the Wednesday alarm does sound, wander around the house, trying to wake up. Be sure to check Facebook, email, etc. Drink a little tea. Take your good old time.
8) Get out the door at 5:45am, thinking it will still be dark. Notice that the sky is already getting light, and the clouds are fall-like. It's only about 50 degrees here in mid-August. Couldn't be better.
9) Run on the trails at Heritage Farm. Since it's fairly light with the sun rising, don't observe any meteors.

And that's how!

Perfect 10-Miler

This was the tenth anniversary of the Perfect 10-Miler, and I had done all of the previous nine. I drove up to Lyndhurst with Felicia Fago, Angela Demchuck and Patrick Fisher. The weather was about as good as it gets in mid-August - relatively cool, and not humid. With that, and the fast course in mind, my hopes for a good run were reasonably optimistic.

In recent weeks I'd done two five-milers around 35 minutes apiece. I wouldn't be so foolish as to hope for 70 minutes on this day, but if I could keep most of my miles around seven minutes, I'd be happy.

I did, and I was. Most of the first four miles were very close to seven minutes, but I slowed a bit for miles five and six. This was mostly due to the long hill on Belvoir Blvd. Mile seven was screaming fast as always, and the last few were back above (but not my too much) sevens.

I finished in 1:11:29, after splits of about 35:30 and 36. I won my age group. My overall grade: not bad at all.
Angela Demchuck, Joe Jurczyk and me in the middle          Felicia Fago photo

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Escape Velocity, or, Today's Two Tremendous Tempo Training Trots

I've been doing my tempo runs on nearly a weekly basis. Lately I've done several at the track. This can be a good thing because: a) There are other runners doing the same thing, so I generally don't have to do these runs alone, and b) The precise measurement makes the pacing a little simpler.

The Runner's World definition of a tempo run makes it sound fairly simple and easy. My own definition is even simpler, but probably not as easy: Three (or possibly more) consecutive miles, each one better than seven minutes. Sure, I also throw in warmup and cooldown miles.

Lately, when I've scheduled a track tempo training trot, I sometimes arrive at the track early enough to attempt an additional one before the rest of the gang arrives. This means getting there at 4:45 am or so, as everyone else shows up at 5:15. I have managed to do several tempo trots in this fashion (both with and without the rest of the gang), but the most recent attempt did not go so well. I couldn't achieve escape velocity, which means I couldn't get the miles under seven minutes each. When Will Bertemes showed up at 5:15 that morning, I gave it another go, and did managed to get to the desired pace.

Today I arrived early once again, and immediately - there was no time for a warmup - started banging out sub-seven minute miles. And I made it - barely. When Will showed up, he and I ran together (again), and I managed (again) to achieve escape velocity once more.

That's the Tale of Today's Two Tremendous Tempo Training Trots.

Monday, August 05, 2013

It Takes a Village

After several weeks in a row where I did a race, it was a bit unusual to encounter a raceless weekend; unusual, but relaxing. I was able to concentrate on simply running longish run on the towpath. I did 14 with Larry Orwin, and then 4 more on my own. That was the furthest I'd gone in a while.

During the run, we discussed Larry's experience at the previous week's Burning River 100-mile run. I had also been talking with other BR100 Warriors. I absolutely love hearing those great stories.

Larry's may be even more poignant than most. He had gotten married to Christine the previous day. His family was visiting from out of town (I met them when they came into the store), and they were able to attend the wedding as well as to help Christine support Larry during the race. The race itself did not go as well as Larry would have liked. Even though he was very well trained, the extreme mud during the race caused some severe foot problems, and that caused him to have to drop out.

What struck me, however, was the team support that he and other runners received. He had Christine as well as those family members to help get him as far as humanly possible on this day. Besides hearing about this from Larry and others, I was able to observe it myself from my position of race volunteer.

For each of the past four or five years, I've done some sort of volunteering at BR100. I am always very impressed at the team support that the runners get. The family and/or friends make it their mission to help their runner keep going. And the runners themselves depend heavily on these folks; they understand how much they need them. You can witness this at many ultra marathons, including the one I'm in charge of: the NorthCoast 24-Hour Endurance Run. It's simply amazing what a team can accomplish.

It was dark in the park

It was dark in the park, Goes the snark remark. Today’s runner tried to be quick off the mark, But with the dark so stark, H...