Hi! My name is Ken. I'm going to periodically write about running, writing, and a number of other topics. Please feel free to read my posts and provide your comments. If you have a question about any topic, leave a message and I'll try to help you get the information you're looking for. Thanks for stopping by. I hope to see you again soon.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Woodstock Memorial 10k Race Report

At 6:00 am this morning, I woke up. This particular race has a special meaning because it's dedicated to the memory of a number of people, including a running friend of mine, Doug Zimmerman, that died last year. I normally run local races that are within 20 minutes or so of my house. This race was about 50 minutes away, but I really wanted to take part. So after rolling out of bed, I took a quick shower and got my stuff ready to go. I then fed my dog and cats. I ate a little something, which precipitated a bathroom stop.  Then I jumped in my car and headed out. 
Woodstock is located in Eastern Connecticut and there isn't any major highways near it so the route is primarily on country roads. One good thing about my trip was that everyone was headed in the opposite direction I was going, which made for easier traveling. As I head into the woods, it's as if I was entering into a real back-road type of area with a lot country charm. I characterize it as going back in time when life was simpler.

Race central was at Woodstock Academy, a nice little private high school. It actually reminded me of a small college campus, with a number of separate buildings. Race day registration sign-up and preregistered runners were able to park in an adjacent parking lot and walk a short distance to the registration desk located in the alumni center. As I entered the building, I was greeted by Doug's wife. She actually helped sponsor the race so the race shirt has Doug's name on it, which I was happy about. The race organizers had said that only the first 150 people to register would get shirts  so I was glad I was able to get there a little early to register.

After getting my race number and shirt, I headed back to my car and put my number on. Then I stretched for a while and went out for a short run around the school. The race course start and finish were about 100 yards apart. I was able to see the last mile from the school, which goes up about  420 feet. The last 200 yards of the race are downhill to the finish. A few minutes later, it started to rain and thunder, which caused the race committee to delay the race for 15-20 minutes. It's very unusual for a road race to be delayed, but it didn't bother me. The race started at 9:18 am and it was raining lightly at the time. It actually made for great race conditions because the temperature remained cooler.

I covered the first 3 miles in 22:06. I was holding back to conserve energy for the hilly end. Then the rolling hills started and I struggled a little.  By the time I hit the 5 mile mark, I felt better and I was closing in on a number of people ahead of me. The big hill started shortly thereafter and I steadily climbed, passing about  6 people. As I crested the hill, I picked up the pace and looked at my watch. It was about 47:30. I finished
as best as I could at 49:07, a 7:55 pace. This was my first race of the year. Hopefully, this gives me something I can build on.  After all, not all courses feature a hill as big as this one.   

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Nothing Like A Nice Hike In The Woods

Today was my annual wildland fire crew training day. Each year I get certified so that I can represent my state as a wildland firefighter. I've been to Montana, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho, Minnesota, Arizona and Nevada with the crew over the past ten years.

I normally run 5 to 6 miles at lunch on Tuesdays, but my schedule didn't allow  for it. So at about 6 :00 am this morning, I got ready and headed over to one of the state wilderness facilities to attend the training. The annual refresher training usually is 75 % class room and 25 % field work. Not today though. The crew management decided to make the training this year 95 % field work, which was fine with me. They actually integrated class room material out in the field too. We had to find an imaginary fire and then grid for hot spots, which were carefully placed white buttons in the middle of nowhere. My crew did well. We used a GPS to help with our navigation. We must have hiked about 3 or 4 miles through all types of terrain. It was a very good simulation of what we might find ourselves doing at a fire out west.
I got home about 5:00 pm. I then immediately threw on my running clothes and headed out the door for a 4 mile run. There's a nice nature trail about .5 miles from my house that follows a small river. The sun was shining as I made my way along a 2 mile mixed trail and then turned around. I covered the distance in 29:13. It was a good day for sure.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Simulating Race Conditions

Several posts ago, I mentioned my intention to run the Woodstock Memorial Day 10K.  Also, I said that this race was a difficult one because the last .9 miles goes 425 feet uphill. I've heard that the last hill has made people actually cry, not a good selling point for the race organizers. However, the first five miles are either downhill or flat so that's better. I grew up on top of a small mountain in Eastern Connecticut so what better place to look to simulate this course. It's close to where I live now and I know the area extremely well. I contemplated driving out to the race course yesterday though, but it's over 45 minutes away and in unfamiliar territory too.
With a somewhat rainy forecast for the morning in mind, I headed out to my old stomping grounds. It was only slightly drizzling when I parked my car and starting stretching. I planned to do two loops of a 2.5 mile course, which had 1.6 miles of downhill/flat running followed by a .9 mile long hill, up 320 feet. 
I started out at a nice steady pace and  was only out for about five minutes when the sky opened up. My shoes got immediately soaked and I had to avoid almost flash flood conditions as I tackled the first loop. I hit the 1.6 mile mark at 12:40, 7:55 pace. That was okay given the conditions and the fact that I wanted to run the first loop conservatively to see how I felt. Then I started the hill. The rain was still coming down fairly hard, but at least it had let up a little. I kept up a nice pace, leaning forward into the hill, as I pumped my arms back and forth. About a quarter of the way up, there are power lines that run perpendicular to the road. Many times growing up, I would see deer running along this area and across the road. I didn't see any deer today though. I crested the hill at the 2.5 mile mark at 21:49. I had covered the hill at a pace slightly slower than a 9:00 pace.    Not too bad, I thought, as I rounded the corner and started the second loop.
A quarter mile down the road, I pulled my arms out of my soaked tee shirt so that it was now just dangling from my neck. At the 4.0 mile mark, a car just in front of me splashed through a puddle and it sent water flying sixty feet in all directions. I was spared from this tidal wave because I hadn't reached that spot yet. As the person drove by, I couldn't help but smile and wave. It really didn't matter if I had gotten splashed though because I was already drenched. 

My smile turned serious shortly thereafter as I neared the hill for the second time. The rain had almost stopped, but there was a river of water running down the hill, which made it difficult for me to run along the side of the road.  I again started up the hill with a determined attitude. I wanted to at least do the second loop at the same speed if not faster. My feet did feel like I had ankle weights on though, which didn't help much. Let me be honest with you, I decided that I liked this hill or so I kept telling myself. I'm told that if you say something enough times, you start to believe it, even if it's not necessarily true. When I had almost reached the finish, I picked up my pace and worked to the finish. I hit my watch and stopped to catch my breath. After several seconds, I looked to see my time, which read  43:36. Wait a minute here. My first leg was run in 21:49. My math revealed that I had run the second loop in 21:47, a 2 second negative split. I can live with that.

Time with tell if this training will actually help me in the race. I plan on trying to do the same thing next Sunday except I might try to do the loop three times at a slightly faster pace. But who knows. Maybe I'll actually go out and run the actual course if I can find the time.