2018 Race Recap #42: Worcester City View 5k

Some days are better than others; some races go better than others. In the greater scheme of things, this wasn’t a terrible race for me, it’s just that in view of last week’s race, my time was disappointing. Where last week was cool and humidity non-existent, today was in the 80’s with 97% humidity. It was gross.

I was feeling crummy about the time – 24:03 – and feeling like it should have been better, until I saw the results. I mean, the winner today was preposterously fast – really good runners are preposterously fast if it’s cool or hot or humid or what. Needless to say, I’m not a really good runner.  But my 24:03 time was good for 28th in a race with more than 28 runners – 324 in total, although that said there were a fair number of walkers – so its clear to me that the weather slowed a lot of folks down.

The course has a fair amount of elevation gain, and as it turns out, I’ve run the course a couple of times already this year without realizing it so I had some experience with it. I should’ve done a long run today, The Marine Corps Marathon is only a few weeks away now, but I committed to doing this and looking back I’m glad I did because I think it would’ve been an ugly mess.

I’ve generally stayed away from 5ks other than the ones my running club puts on because I’ve been focusing on the longer distance races, sometimes though a quick short race is helps let you know how you’re progressing and I think that’s what was accomplished today. So no personal records, but a demonstratively solid progression.

Results:

24:03 | 7:44.5 /mi
Overall: 28/324
M: 23/139

     

    Advertisements

    Refuse to Contribute Story 4: David Goggins

    Although he’s a public person, unless you follow ultramarathoning you’ve probably never heard of him. And even if you do follow ultramarathoning, you may not have heard of him. He is one of those personalities I see from afar, I don’t know him, I don’t know how heavily curated his “story” is nor just how much what he puts into the world is actually his or if it’s what he thinks the world should see.

    This matters not one ounce to me. What he puts out to the world is all about striving to be the best you can possibly be. Which is great, but who is he and why should I care?

    A quick read of his Wikipedia page answers those questions.  He’s got asthma, has battled obesity, and has had a congenital heart defect repaired. A lot of us have faced these or similar challenges – my weight over the course of my adult life has yo-yoed between 175 and 230.  He tried and failed to get into USAF Pararescue twice before succeeding and eventually becoming a SEAL. The work he’s done since reads like a guidebook of mind over matter.  This is an exceptional person and I want to believe the majority of what he puts out to the world is actually his belief system.  You cannot do what he has done, you cannot overcome what he has overcome without the fortitude and strength of mind he expresses.

    His Facebook post of Monday, September 10 struck a nerve for me. It resonates as true and I can see the truth looking back as far as High School: I’ve said for years that I was a mediocre student, but my comparator group was far more high performing than I gave credit for at the time; had I gone to my public high school, I would have been a mediocre student there too…but my comparator group would have been less high performing and I would have set my targets lower.

    His message? Be mindful of your comparator group.

    If you are always comparing yourself to mediocre people, that’s exactly what you will be! A lot of people think that they are at the top of their game because they are the best amongst a group of people who don’t even [care].

    https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fiamdavidgoggins%2Fvideos%2F460613751092881%2F&show_text=1&width=560

    He goes on, much like Bill from yesterday’s post (“it’s supposed to be hard,”) that “mediocrity feels good.” Lower your expectations. He acknowledges that performing at high levels is uncomfortable, and people shy away from people that make them uncomfortable. Comfort is a drug, it becomes addictive.

    A week before he said:

    The most important conversations you will ever have are the ones you have with yourself. You wake up with them. You walk around with them. You go to bed with them. Eventually you act on them. Rather it be good or bad.

    We live in a world full of haters and jealous people. People so [messed] up in their own lives that they can’t move forward so they put their hate for themselves on you. This world is full of distractions- a lot of them are from other people, social media, some are self-imposed. In a world full of distractions, you must learn to live in it undistracted, unphased.

    Never let the weakness of this world infiltrate your mind! To do that you must truly know yourself! Don’t allow people to puppet master you from being [flipping] great!

    Here he’s speaking the language of refusing to contribute. You’re in control of your own greatness. THAT is a powerful and scary message: it means that if you fail to be great, it’s on you. How many of us want that much power and control? Control your negative self talk, live your best life, conquer your goals, avoid mediocrity.  Don’t allow anyone elses’ mediocrity, no one else’s reasons for not striving for better be your reasons.

    We all have our challenges and opportunities. Accept them, but do not excuse them. Compare yourself, your results to those you wish to emulate. We’re the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with. Choose the right 5 people. If you choose to be angry, you will make certain choices. If you choose to make a difference, you will make different choices. But make no mistake, you’re making the choice.

    2018 Race Recap #41: Canal Diggers 5k

    I wasn’t going to run this race – there was a 10k trail race I was looking at and was leaning in that direction. I like trail races, they’re physically challenging and generally inexpensive. This one was less than $20 after a coupon code. BUT, I was beseeched at my Thursday fun run and couldn’t resist: there’s something about running with your tribe that makes racing fun. When you know people, and can hang around before and after, the experience is great.

    The course is pretty (read here: very) flat and most folks come up just short of 3-miles on their watch. I registered exactly 3.1 on mine and I’m not sure what that says about my stuff. The course starts and ends just off Worcester’s Kelley Square – future home of the Worcester Red Sox – by the DCU Center (or as we old timers call it, the Centrum) up to Main Street, and back.  It’s also put on by the Hibernian Hall, which is evident by the fact you’re given 2 beer tickets on your bib…with 1 food ticket that you can convert to a beer ticket if you want.

    I found the course over all well marked and staffed, my only issue was just coming out of Kelley Square, the course got a little tight and it was clear not everyone lined up according to their projected pace, so there were a bunch of people bottlenecked and weren’t moving as quickly as I would have preferred.  Other than that, it was great.

    At about mile 2.2, I started to realize I had pushed too hard and actually walked a bit. I was competing back and forth with a teenage girl from a local school team and when she started to walk, I felt like I had just been given a pass that I took.  I realized, though, that I had an opportunity to PR and didn’t want to quit on myself so I picked it up again.

    I really wanted to quit here.

    Going back to the whole tribe thing, when you see your friends volunteering on the course, it’s super helpful to your morale. As it happens I saw a few friends spectating and volunteering especially at the last half mile or so and when you see these folks cheering for you, it’s the best motivation in the world to keep going.  As I came down the last bit of course, under the bridge where I really just wanted to quit but didn’t, and around the corner where I could see the finish, I pushed through with every little bit I had left.

    I’m pretty sure I was close to death as I crossed that line: I honestly cannot remember the last time I left everything out there on a 5k course. Fully gassed. I thought I would never be as fast as I was for the Celtic 5k. I remember feeling great that day, running with my kids, and just blowing the lid off.  I didn’t feel particularly great for this race but I felt confident. I wasn’t going to run this race, but I’m happy I did.

    To make it even better, I helped Team Sneakerama win fastest team.

    Results

    Time: 21:13 | 6:49.7 /mi
    Overall 55/617
    M: 42/282
    M 40-49: 7/65

     

    2018 Race Recap #41: TVFR Woodland Park 5-Miler #3

    It’s the last Thursday in August, which means it’s the TVFR Woodland Park Race series finale. I ran the race in June, and missed it in July due to having some out of town houseguests.  Now the race in June was the precursor to my abominable Independence Rhode Race finish — 2:06:00 Half Marathon, my worst time ever — with what turned out to be a chest cold. I was a big, sloppy, wheezing, ugly, hot-mess and I was not happy.

    Image may contain: drink and outdoor
    The TVFR bibs are always on point. Just enough oversized, and there’s no mistaking what race you’re running.

    Today, I was a grumpy, tired, itchy hot mess. I’ve been having some kind of allergic reaction to something and the anti-itch drug I’ve been prescribed is doing some funky things, but it’s working so no complaints.  After a night of sub-optimal sleep, and what seemed like the longest day ever, I toed up the starting line and really couldn’t have wanted to do this race less.

    I didn’t run yesterday – we all need days off on occasion – and I definitely think that helped my race this evening. I started off in the middle of the pack because I didn’t really expect much, but actually found the running was pretty good and I was able to shuffle past a few people. On the trail, I found my running pretty consistent and I ate up the majority of the elevation gains – it’s not a difficult course, but there can be some challenging parts.  I didn’t let myself slow too much or take breaks, and it really paid off in the results.

    It was a really pleasant evening which really contributed a lot to my ability to do that. I also took a bootcamp class this morning which definitely contributed. When I commit to going to bootcamp consistently, I know I’m a better runner for it – evidence was in my race tonight.

    Image may contain: 6 people, including Meghan MacDonald and Barry Bacon, people smiling, people standing, mountain, outdoor and nature
    My tribe.

    So, tonight, despite my crummy headspace, I really had a good race. I’m feeling a little tired, a little drained, the way you feel when you leave it all out there. According to my Garmin, the “training effect” for this race was 4.3 (Highly improves your aerobic fitness if repeated 1–2 times per week with adequate recovery time), keeping my heart rate pretty consistently high over the 5-miles. I knocked 4-minutes off my time from June – my goal was 45:00, which was always going to be a stretch, and I came close. It was a good race tonight.

    Results:

    August 2018: 46:55.3
    June 2018: 50:58.39
    July 2017: 51:54
    July 2016: 51:38

    2018 Race Recap #40: Newton Hill XC 5k #4

    Yup. Another Tuesday in August, another Newton Hill trail race.  This was nothing short of brutal: something close to 90-degrees and 70% humidity.  Last week’s weather was beautiful and pleasant and I had a decent race. Decent, but not great. I always have an excuse; last weeks was that I did the Anchor Down Ultra on Saturday, so my legs were a lot like concrete and that’s why I didn’t kill the course. The week before was mid-70’s but humid AF, and Week 1 was similar weather to today, but cooler, believe it or not.  Hey, it’s August in New England. Kind of like a box of chocolates the weather is.

    Pursuant to recent trends, tonight’s crowd was roughly 38 or 39 runners – last week was the exception, but then again it was really, really nice.  The other races this month have been about the same crowd regardless.

    In keeping with my comparison from last week, it’s pretty plain to see how much the weather affected my race. I mean I’m not a very good (trail) runner in general, so anything less than perfect conditions is going to affect me. I’ve come to that conclusion, that I’m just not that good.

    Mile Pace by Race
    Mile Week 4 Week 3 Week 2 Week 1
    1 9:36 8:56 8:42 9:19
    2 9:04 8:22 8:16 8:56
    3 10:21 9:56 10:17 10:06

    Just all around my worst of the four races this year.  Now the caveat: according to my watch I finished 28:17 this week; my official time week 1 was 28:15, so likely a 2-second difference, but the paces are wildly off (Note: the official time turns out to be exactly the same as week 1). That’s because my watch also registered a shorter course this week than week 1. It’s a trail so it’s always approximate, but I’m sure there was some variance and what not. So, the sum total is that Week 4 basically looks like Week 1. Same sort of pacing across the race, similar weather, similar result. If anything I suppose I COULD argue that today was crappier and I was only a couple of seconds worse, but that would be disingenuous.

    Kind of a bummer result, but pretty much what I might have bet on.  I wanted better but after about .5 mile, I knew tonight wasn’t going to be my night.   With a race like this, I think it’s instructive to look at the placement for some kind of idea how the race was. By using that metric, week 2 was my best, and I can certainly say it felt like my best race.  So another race series closed out, another summer heading toward completion.

    Results:

    August 28, 2018: 28:15. 89/90 Degrees, 70% humidity. (20/38)
    August 21, 2018: 26:57. High-60’s, beautiful. (28/60)
    August 14, 2018: 27:13. Mid-70’s, 1000% humidity, and generally rainy most of the day. (17/39)
    August 7, 2018: 28:15  82 degrees, and swampy humid (20/39)
    August 22, 2017: 30:21 Clear, muggy and 82 degrees. (27/47)
    August 15, 2017: 29:56  Mostly clear and 72 degrees (37/49)
    August 8, 2017: 32:52  Clear and 72 degrees. (39/46)

    2018 Race Recap #39: Newton Hill XC Series #3

    Here it is, the third Tuesday in August, which means the third Newton Hill trail race. Same course, different day. I love these race series because they provide the opportunity to see how much you can improve over the course of a week, measured against the same terrain. Sure weather changes everything – where last week was like running in soup, today’s race was held in beautiful 68-degree weather, maybe overcast, on a dry course. No mitigating factors from weather at all. Simply beautiful. August in New England can be funny like that – I can tell you from experience that while not unheard of, one should not expect August 21 in New England to be considered “Gorgeous.” And yet, it was this day.

    Climbing that first hill after the turn-around.  Photo Credit: Kim Gordon

    And it was precisely for this reason that there was the largest crowd of the summer show up for the race. There was an Indigo Girls style duo playing music on the common, so there was a bit of an assembly in the park. Just a great vibe where last week it was just an oppressive, wet nasty mess.

    Photo Credit: Kim Gordon

    For sure, this was the best Newton Hill race I’ve done yet, but it just didn’t “feel” that way. There were a few spots – about a half mile in, after the out and back and where the course makes a turn up a hill – where I felt strong and it was a good track.  There were others where I just felt beat down a bit.

    Now it would be easy to say, “Well, you just ran an Ultra a couple of days ago…” but that’s belied by the group run I did last night – one of my faster paces on the course over time and really would have been faster had I not been running with my buddy Dukie who’s just coming back from an injury. So that’s not it.

    So here’s where it gets interesting.  Here’s my pacing over the race series this year.

    Mile Pace by Race
    Mile Week 3 Week 2 Week 1
    1 8:56 8:42 9:19
    2 8:22 8:16 8:56
    3 9:56 10:17 10:06

    What’s interesting is that last weeks race was the superior one in terms of overall performance – despite the soupy weather.  I felt stronger today and it was the last mile – the one with the most drastic hills (despite the overall elevation loss, most of the change happens here) that I thought I had lost the most ground week-over-week, but it turns out it was my best effort and it was the other miles that I lagged.  That’s surprising to me, and yet, the numbers don’t lie. I’m going to go all out and say that when I was on, I was really on, but suffered the consequences I guess.

    So, tonight I feel like I pushed myself hard and while the pacing doesn’t reflect it, I know I pushed it. Despite having run 40 miles on Friday/Saturday. for a 1/10-mile at mile 2.1-2.2 had I just taken the opportunity to keep running instead of taking a break and walking, I’d have finished sub-26 minutes.  That stings and something I’ll have to remember next week.

    RESULTS

    August 21, 2018: 26:57. High-60’s, beautiful.
    August 14, 2018: 27:13. Mid-70’s, 1000% humidity, and generally rainy most of the day. (17/39)
    August 7, 2018: 28:15  82 degrees, and swampy humid
    August 22, 2017: 30:21 Clear, muggy and 82 degrees. (27/47)
    August 15, 2017: 29:56  Mostly clear and 72 degrees (37/49)
    August 8, 2017: 32:52  Clear and 72 degrees. (39/46)

    2018 Race Recap #38: Anchor Down Ultra

    No automatic alt text available.
    Schwag.

    “The Smallest State’s Longest Races.” Six Hours, Twelve Hours, 24-Hours, 100-Miler. The time based races are a hard deadline in which to run as many miles – or in this case loops – through Bristol, Rhode Island’s Colt State Park as you can in the allotted time.  For this series of races, the race director has set 8-loops as “finishing” for the six-hour race, 16-loops for the 12-hour, 20 for the 24-hour.  Each lap is roughly (but officially) 2.45 miles.

    It’s not all pavement, it’s not all trail. It’s roughly 0.9 mile of trail. 1.5 mile of pavement, with the remainder being grass.  And for all intents and purposes, it’s pretty flat.  All races start at 7 PM making the challenge less about the course – after all, the course it’s terribly difficult in and of itself – and more about the individual endurance required to overcome gnarly roots in the dark, after a full day of living, over an extended period of time during one of the hottest, most humid times of the New England summer.

    Image may contain: 2 people, including Rich O'Connell, people smiling, people standing, sky, cloud, outdoor and nature
    Here we are just before the start of the race. Look at how clean and spiffy I look in my donut socks and dry shirt.

    The race organizers did such a super job marking the course, and staffing it with volunteers at the start/finish and the half way point.  Food – salt, sugar, hydration – at the festival area, hydration and ramen soup at the half way.  There’s a camping area at the starting festival area to set up your own stuff.

    Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing
    This was just after lap 5 – roughly 12.25 miles in. Juxtaposed against the picture above, I’m pretty sure it’s clear that I was a big, sweaty mess.

    The day wasn’t overly hot, but it was humid. By mile 13, I was drenched in soggy wet clothes. My feet and shoes were wet and gross.  That was a few hours into the race. Because of the odd mix of terrain, I wasn’t quite sure what shoes would be most appropriate: trail shoes, street shoes? I decided on a pair of older model On Cloudsters I’ve got. I like them for running my local rail trail and they’re generally quite sturdy so you don’t feel every little thing on the ground. As it started getting dark in the overgrown woods, I tripped on one of the ubiquitous series of gnarly roots along the trail and landed on my hands and knees. No major damage there, but I could feel my leg starting to cramp as soon as I hit the ground, so I hopped back up and continued on.

    Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing and night
    You can see where I ate dirt on my left leg. I’m not sure when this was taken other than to say, it’s quite clear my delirium was in full swing.

    From that point, though, I decided I’d power walk the trails – my mental exhaustion and physical exhaustion were combining to make night time trail running somewhat more dangerous that it might otherwise be – and just run the pavement. Upon my return to the festival area, I changed out my shirt, and changed from my Ons and donut socks, to a pair of ankle socks and Nikes more befitting street running. I felt every little root after that – probably not a bad thing, to keep my head in the game – but they allowed me to be the best runner I could be on the pavement given my situation.

    I finished Lap 16 in 9-hours 17-minutes so I had plenty more time to get back out there and rack up some more miles – and grab higher placement on the finishers list – but I was so dead, exhausted I just couldn’t see myself going any farther. By that point it had started to rain pretty good and I just wanted to be done. My friend Ilya had come to watch Rich and I run, so he ran the last 3 laps with me – something for which I am very thankful, as he made me push myself just a little harder than I may have otherwise.

    No automatic alt text available.
    Flavor Flav looked at this thing and said, “No man, that’s too big…”

    So I left satisfied with 39.2 official miles (my Garmin clocked 40.8) with time still on the clock. I arrived home after a drive home that was something just shy of terrifying, at 6:15 – with 45-minutes still remaining in my race.  I’m bummed that I didn’t get more, but satisfied I left it all out there on the course. Several folks from my running club ran the 6-hour and another guy and his son ran the 12-hour, so there was support and people I knew there which helped make the experience a little less solitary.

    Results

    12 HOUR Race; 20/35, 16 Laps, 9:19:27, 39. Miles.