It’s the end of July and this is recap number 6 for the year. Significantly below that which I have come to expect, and yet this race eclipses my total for 2020’s race (and everything else) COVID-shortened activity year. That said in the 5 races I did last year, the distance covered was 66.7 miles. If we include the unofficial “Bill’s Fat Ass Challenge” at the end of the year as race 6, we’d be talking about 98.7 miles.Continue reading “2021 Race Recap #6: TVFR Woodland Trail Series 2 of 3”
Another January 1, another Freezer Five. It’s the fourth one I’ve done now. Curiously, it wasn’t as warm nor as windy as last year; wasn’t as cold as it was in 2018. The course was in better shape despite the “winter weather event” we had the previous two days than it was in 2017. More people showed up than in 2018, fewer than last year, roughly equivalent to 2017 though fewer.
It’s the first time I’ve ever had the #1 bib – due only to the time of registration, not actual seeding or anything – but it was kind of fun. Of particular note to me because this will likely be my last race in the M40-49 Age Group. Not sure what to make of that.
In comparing my year over year, I see that last year I found I struggled between miles 2-3. This year it was at the end of 3-and into 4. Nice to know that my struggles are getting progressively further from the start. Depressingly enough, I was maybe 0.4 Miles from the finish when I stopped to check my heart rate – that hurt. You’ve just run 4.5 miles, the finish in sight and you can’t pull yourself together. Ouch. The big difference though, was my actual splits:
Last years pacing was so much more interesting, Miles 1 &5, 2&4 more or less matching up and then that dreadful mile 3. This year I clearly went out too fast – I perhaps would have last year as well, but for the headwind – but I wonder how well I’d have run if I could have had the same conditions as last year.
This was the 11th time I’ve run the course – 4 as a race, and 7 as recreation/workouts – and it was the fastest yet. I ran it in May and hit a 7:57 pace – a personal record for the course, and faster than my previous race times! So, doing this in less than 40-minutes in a race was a bit of a personal achievement. Despite my better time against the course, I actually finished slower against the field. I’ll chalk that up to the beautiful 50+ degree day last January 1 and more day of registrations.
I woke up today after a great night sleep, but still roughly 7 pounds heavier than I really want to be, so I’m pleased for the pace and the result. As always it’s a great way to start the new year, by going out and kicking some ass on January 1.
And we’re onto 2020! Happy new year!
Distance: 5 Miles
It’s been almost a month since my last race. I’m not sure I really like the marathon distance: the half is really attainable, but still a challenge. The marathon just took a lot out of me, physically to be sure, but mentally too. Which is not to say I haven’t been working out, but when I’ve had the opportunity to race, I’ve declined. Then there is the small thing of a late-autumn vacation to celebrate the inlaws 50th (50!!!) wedding anniversary.
10-days on what is essentially a floating buffet and inclusive drink package. A beautiful caribbean cruise over an extended period of time, but that does two things: makes you a little soft, and acclimates you to caribbean weather. Which is not New England weather. Today, Thanksgiving Day, was 12-degrees at race time. It’s November 22 and it’s 12-degrees. Seriously?
So the 40-odd miles I put on the odometer on the treadmill did help mitigate weight gain, but did nothing for my hill training. And Shrewsbury, Massachusetts is not flat. Needless to say, I was feeling a little less than prepared, but at least I knew it had the potential to be a clusterfluff.
The first two miles of this course are down hill. The next three are up. Guess which two were my fastest. It’s a super course in a super handsome part of the town. It was almost a pleasure that it was cold out – because it started off downhill, it kind of made for the lack of a warm up. Now almost exactly at the 2-mile mark, the UP started. The third mile was as steep going up as the second was going down. 85′ in gain vs. 86′ in loss. That mile wiped me out pretty good. I did the first two miles with a 7:41 pace. That third was a 9:00. I ran the rest of the race with a 8:37 – mile 4 had 11′ of gain, essentially flat, and mile 5 had 47′. Both were 8:37. Normally, that wouldn’t have been a deal breaker, but I really did feel underprepared after a month off from anything much more than treadmills.
All in all, it wasn’t the horror show I expected, but it was cold. I normally like cooler weather– my body isn’t expending energy cooling itself off — but when it’s so cold, I feel all those places where the blood flow isn’t quite what it should be. I feel good that this felt good.
Now, onto Thanksgiving!
WHich are unofficial because I apparently don’t show up in the results. Grrrrr.
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.
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.
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.
Phew. That’s a mouthful. The Woodland Trail Series is a 3-part series of trail races through the West Hill Park in Northbridge, MA and Tri Valley Front Runners is a local (predominantly) trail running club. My club never seems to do well at these events because, well, we’re not trail runners as a group. BUT the registration fee for these races (3 for like $16) is just too good for any of us to pass up. It’s pretzel logic, but it’s logic.
The race itself is not comparatively difficult: I came less than prepared for GPS and therefore had to use my FitBit, which is more or less accurate, which registered about 300′ of elevation gain. It was in the mid-70’s but HUMID. Holy smokes, was it humid. It stopped raining just before the start of the race, which it’s hard to say whether or not that was a good thing. It’s lightly technical; we started a single track for a bit, but otherwise it’s fire roads and hiking trails. If you’re conditioned, it should make for a pretty fast course. If you’re not…not so much.
I did a run on Monday, that felt pretty good overall, but woke up Tuesday with some seriously sore muscles meaning I’ve been slacking a bit on my pacing and was feeling it. That and I’ve been hacking up a lung as well. So I know this was going to be a tough run. My friend Dukie told me I was busy looking for excuses, and perhaps I was, but I knew it was going to be a rough run. It was. I wish I could tell you it was a self fulfilling prophesy, but I don’t think so.
I’ve done this particular race three times now: I ran it once each of the last two years. Last year I finished about 20 seconds slower than the year before, but I tell myself that was because it was one of my first races back after falling down the mountain. This year, I finished about 30-seconds faster. Roughly 2500-miles run over the last two years between running this course and I’m 30-seconds faster. Worst? My pace was faster those times because the course registered longer. I’m so angry with my performance. I can blame the humidity — I literally had to wring my shirt out — and I can blame respiratory issues, but at the end of the day, I just wasn’t ready. Maybe next month. Or maybe not. July and 9000-degrees? Ugh. Onward and upward.
June 2018: 50:58.39
July 2017: 51:54
July 2016: 51:38