Race Report: 2014 GLIRC Runner’s Edge Trail Relay

First leg off and running (TPP is third from left)

Today’s run (GLIRC Bethpage 2×3 Trail Relay) 2 mile leg (Team finish time 56:05)

The weather finally cooperated enough to allow GLIRC to run the Runner’s Edge Relay this morning. This race was originally scheduled for February, but the unrelenting snow had made the trails at Bethpage State Park unrunnable. A little rain and a few days of 40 degree temperatures cleared out most of the snow, although there were still a number of icy and muddy sections along the path.

As the name implies, this race is a team effort with each member running one 2 mile leg. I haven’t been running well this year, but I did a few speed oriented treadmill runs earlier in the week and figured two miles wouldn’t be much to worry about. I was wrong about that. Today’s two miles didn’t feel endless, but I had much more difficulty that I’d expected. It was too late to help my teammates, but I discovered a large gap in my conditioning that I hope to address as I begin my half marathon training.

Runsketeers pre-race

Our team was called the Runsketeers, consisting of me and friends the Petite Pacer (TPP) and She Is Out Running (SIOR). SIOR had little prior trail experience, but she’s lightning on the road. She qualified for Boston this year and almost always wins or places in her age group. TPP is also very fast (she has racked up her share of podium spots) and takes performance training very seriously. Then there’s me. I used to be competitive in my age group and I’ve done a lot of trail running. These days I struggle to break 28 minutes in a 5K.

With that lineup, we decided to have TPP run the first leg, me the second and have SIOR bring it home. The idea was that TPP would put us in a competitive position, I would do my best to hold that and SIOR’s speed would help gain back minutes and position. We didn’t really discuss it, but that was my reasoning.

TPP has been feeling under the weather this week and is still fighting a fever. She’s a tough competitor but decided to run despite feeling sub-optimal. Our backup plan was either to have Mrs. ER run TPP’s leg or have me or SIOR run two legs. We ended up with the original lineup intact. SIOR’s marathon schedule had her running 10 miles this morning prior to the race. She anchored our team after doing that long run on the hilly Bethpage bike trail. These women are amazing.

Me and Mrs. ER after number pickup

Team ER arrived at Bethpage around 9:00 AM and I collected our bibs and t-shirts. SIOR and TPP arrived about 20 minutes later. It was nice bringing together my running friends and my family. Our talking kept our minds off the fact that it was very cold and we didn’t have any place to keep warm. There didn’t seem to be that many participants, but the crowd grew as we got closer to start time.

We headed over to the starting area a little before 10:00 AM and the race began on time. Each leg started on the open field and led to a path into the woods that eventually connected to the main trail. TPP and the others disappeared into the distance and I was still thinking this would be relatively easy as races go.

First hand-off, from TPP

It wasn’t that long before we spotted TPP exiting out of the woods from the opposite side and soon enough we slapped hands and I took off for the second leg. I made the mistake of starting too fast and I paid for that later in the run. The trail conditions were (at best) wet and stable, and (at worse) muddy, icy, snowy, sandy and slippery. There were plenty of race volunteers along the course to keep us on track and warn us of trail dangers. I was disappointed to feel overtaxed midway through the leg and I slowed considerably when running in areas of deep mud and sand. Bethpage doesn’t have hills like Stillwell, but this course did have its uphill challenges.

SIOR ready to fly
Seconds after the hand-off

I was not in great shape by the time I reached the field. My family described my “sprint” to the relay hand-off as “slow motion.” SIOR took off quickly and gained back some minutes. We all gathered near the finish line chute and saw her come through after covering her leg in about 16 minutes. There are no results posted, but her effort undoubtedly helped our race position.

SIOR brings it in

PHOTOS COURTESY OF EMERGING RUNNER JR.

The reward for our hard work was found at the food table where they served muffins and cupcakes as big as softballs. They also offered hot chocolate and noodle soup that was described by my wife and kids as “fantastic.” I had a great time although I am disappointed with the way I ran. I’m determined to get back to my prior level and I have a training plan that I think will help. My Runsketeer teammates both put in impressive runs and I’m honored to be part of that group.

I may return to Bethpage tomorrow to do my first Half training run. It’s just five miles, but today was only two and that was no picnic.

Hey, remember me?

Hence, the treadmill

Today’s run (treadmill): 3.25 miles

It’s been a few days since I last posted due to both a lack of time and subject matter. It’s Thursday and my grand total for the week is three and a quarter miles. Tuesday and Wednesday were spent in the city. Those days started early and went late and I didn’t have an opportunity to work out. I covered plenty on miles on foot, so that counts for something, right? Most of that walking was done at a brisk pace due to the face-freezing temperatures that were caused by head-on winds.

But I write about my running, and not my walking (generally), so I didn’t have much to post. I suppose I could have written about my meetings, but this blog isn’t The Emerging Business Guy. I’ve felt weirdly out of the running loop, especially since the Runsketeers were due to dominate on Saturday’s trail relay and there were probably things to discuss. We learned that the race was canceled due to the two feet of wet snow that’s being dumped on us right now.

I have to admit that I’m partially relieved that this race has been postponed until March. I have not trained well for the Bethpage relay that requires full tilt running for two miles. All the treadmill running that I’ve been doing has taken away whatever edge I had. My treadmill sessions haven’t been as performance oriented as an equivalent run on the road. My experience on Sunday, running on pavement for only the fourth time in 2014(!), revealed a conditioning gap caused by a lack of road time.

Today’s run was on the treadmill, due to the foot-plus of snow already we’ve received. I’d shoveled in the morning and I suspect that explains the lack of focus I had on my run. I ran at my normal speed but I felt detached and unconnected the whole time. On the plus side, I got in my first run after three days off, but I’m definitely not in the zone. I’ll blame it on the weather and look forward to the clear roads and warmer temperatures that will eventually come. Unless we’ve just begun a new Ice Age…

Cape Cod Marathon race report

As I mentioned last night, the Cape Cod marathon race weekend was an amazing experience. Heading to Massachusetts always makes me feel like I’m going home and the Cape is a special place for me because our family spent many a summer there as I was growing up. We arrived on Friday night in the dark and cold and barely had time for anything before getting to bed. Saturday morning was overcast, cold and rainy but that didn’t matter because we weren’t running until Sunday. My wife and kids explored the hotel while I organized my gear. When I opened the shades to our room I was happy to see the ocean view and it reinforced that we were actually here on the Cape for the relay.

We met up with Adventure Girl at the Expo where we got some guidance from the race organizers on where things would be happening and where my family could situate to watch the race. The Expo was fun and I tried on a few pairs of ASICS and Mizuno running shoes that were temptingly priced but I didn’t bite. I still have a some miles left in my Brooks. AG went off to drive the course while we went into town and had lunch at Liam Maguires pub. We met up with AG for a little time before we headed back to our hotel. We all met up again later for dinner at the British Beer Company where we had a great meal and AG and I had a pints of stout and porter respectively in the name of pre-race carb loading. Later that evening the kids quizzed AG for one of her mid term exams and during that time we got a call that one of our teammates was diagnosed with Swine Flu and he would not be able to make the race. AG reassigned our routes, swapping my second leg to the 3rd segment instead of the 4th. This way it ensured that AG, me and MM (our third teammate) were all able to run by the ocean at some point. In so doing AG took on legs 4 & 5 so she ended up running close to a half marathon.

We met as a team on Sunday morning at 7:00 AM and tried to stay warm. Despite the 57 degree temps it felt chilly. Soon AG and MM went off to locate exchange #1 where I would hand off to MM. My wife and kids stayed with me and situated themselves in front of the Black Dog on Main Street. I got into position on the starting line and at 8:30 they fired the cannon to start the race and I was happy to high-five my family on our way up Main Street as I headed through my first leg. I came into exchange #1 after running about an 8:30 pace. The end of the leg has a big hill but that effort was mitigated by the most beautiful view of the ocean. The road split to allow relay-ers to do their hand-offs without interfering with the full marathon runners. I handed off to MM and AG then drove us over to exchange #3 where I picked up the baton for my second leg of 5.7 miles. That route was very rolling with a number of hills but I felt great and after passing under Route 28 I knew most of the big hills were over. Around that time I started talking to another runner, MG, who was not registered for the race but was running it as a practice for a marathon she’s running in a couple of weeks. She was a strong runner and she helped me keep a good pace through the end of the leg. MG continued to run after I handed off to Adventure Girl and the two even ran together for a bit. MM and I made our way back to the start/finish area and waited for AG to come in and finish. My wife and kids joined us just in time to see AG coming through mile 26 and my kids took off with AG all the way to the finish while MM and I followed behind.

We ended up with an overall time of 4:03 but for some reason our team wasn’t posted in the results. It was probably related to a problem reading the tracking chip on AG’s shoe. It didn’t matter, we know what we did and we had an incredible experience along the way. We headed back to the Lawrence School that served as HQ for the race and Expo. They served a great lunch featuring New England clam chowder (an Emerging Runner favorite). Pretty soon it was time to say our goodbye’s and we went our separate ways. I can’t wait to run again, this was so energizing and fun. We need to find another big event to run next year and I have a feeling I’ll be thinking about this one for a long time.

26.2 miles, three runners, a fantastic weekend

Wow. That’s the best word I can think of to describe this weekend. We had a fantastic time in Falmouth, MA, at the Cape Cod marathon both on and off the race course. I’ve been so busy the last two days I haven’t been able to post since Thursday. I’m planning to share details tomorrow but until then I’ll just share some headlines:

  • We found out late Saturday that our 4th team member was diagnosed with H1N1 virus (Swine Flu) which forced us to split the five legs among three people.
  • The weather was perfect – 57 degrees and sunny at 8:30 AM
  • I did the first and third legs (8.75 miles) and AG did the last two (11.3 miles). Our third teammate did 6.15 miles.
  • The course was challenging, lots of rolling hills, some memorable. The scenery was beautiful, fully memorable.
  • We finished in just about 4:00 hours.
  • We celebrated with a great lunch that was put on by the race organizers.
  • It was a great weekend of food, friends and family!

More to come!

Toe Woe

The issue with my big toe continues and after a night of pain that had me up at midnight searching for ibuprophen I decided to skip my morning run. I briefly considered alternatives such as an upper body workout or even the elliptical but I chose to rest until 5:00 instead. It’s the season to be busy in the office and that takes its toll mentally and physically. I’ll admit to feeling a little guilty about doing nothing today knowing that tomorrow, with an even earlier workday start, will not allow enough time to run. On the other hand, with 11 days left before the marathon relay, these rest days can be considered part of my taper.

The materials with instructions for the relay indicate some complex logistical challenges. The race circles the town of Falmouth and with a couple of thousand runners there is much to coordinate to ensure that the streets are clear of cars at certain points and times. The exchange points need to be reached a certain way and there are restrictions where the team car can be parked. The Woods Hole exchange, which is where the last leg begins, has no parking so the 5th leg runner will need to get there before 9:00 AM and keep himself occupied for about 2.5 hours before the 4th leg runner (in this case me) comes by for the handoff. AG, our captain, is less concerned about it than me and I’m taking that as a good sign. She captained a 182 mile, 36 leg, 12 member relay team earlier this year so this probably seems fairly simple to her.

I’m hoping that by Friday morning my toe affliction will have improved enough for me to go out for another fast early morning run, followed by some hard training on Saturday and Sunday. With only one weekend standing between now and the race I really need to make every workout count.

Back on track (or is it tread?)

I realized last night that I had not run on the treadmill since the Tuesday after my 5K. That seems like a long time but it actually makes sense because I’ve integrated an extra long (street) run during the week and have finally started taking weekly rest days. In between street runs I’ve used the elliptical and I’ve been tracking about 19 miles per week since May.

Today I returned to the treadmill and I’ll admit I really didn’t want to use it. My last time on it had gone poorly and I really wasn’t looking forward to the tedium. Nothing has changed since the 5th, the machine still droned and the display flickered. What was different about today’s session was that I was running pain free and my new Brooks felt stable and comfortable. I was still grateful when my finish time approached but I was pleased to have covered two miles at an 8:43 pace.

Today is Friday, the start of Adventure Girls’s Ragner relay. I’m happy to report that she found a new teammate to fill out her roster of 12 and things will get started at 1:00 PM EST. I’ll be following progress through Twitter and report results. Best of luck to the team!

Got my Moji (almost) Working

I recently came across an innovative icing system for athletes. The product is called “Moji” and it consists of a flexible, freezable, gel filled pad that wraps around an area like a knee. The pad is held in place by a stretchable wrap that resembles a knee brace. The company was gracious enough to supply a sample to test during this weekend’s Woodstock to Bronx Ragner Relay. The 12 member team will put it through its paces and I’ll publish a full review after the event. We received the sample yesterday and were extremely impressed by the quality of the device. It is a well designed, top end piece of gear and I will provide pricing along with the review.

Yesterday I accompanied Adventure Girl on her last run prior to Friday’s race. We ran over to the bike path that parallels the West Side Highway and follows the Hudson on the right. It’s a different view of NYC and the weather was clear, sunny and not too humid.

We covered 4.8 miles in what seemed a blink of an eye and jumped on the subway for the trip back to the office. During the run we did our business update, combining exercise and work. I liked being able to put in a longer distance during the work week as I move closer to my 8K.

This morning I worked out on the elliptical going 23 minutes at a fairly good rate using medium resistance. Tomorrow I’ll return to the treadmill (or the dreadmill as my Runner’s World Loop friends call it). I’d be tempted to do a solo run on Friday in the park but my schedule isn’t cooperating.

Adventure Girl Needs Your Help!

As I’ve mentioned before, Adventure Girl is leading a team of 12 runners on a Ragner relay race from Woodstock to the Bronx. This looks to be a great adventure and the race starts this Friday and goes until Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately one of her teammates has been forced to drop out due to an injury and she needs a replacement runner. Each runner will do three legs of the race. The open slot has three segments, one in New Paltz, one in Peekskill and the final leg (which is also the last leg of the race!) is from Yonkers to the Bronx. The total amount of running would be 16.4 miles so if you’re training for a half marathon this would be great practice exercise.
If this sounds like something that you’d like to do please contact adventuregirl@emergingrunner.com. Don’t delay!

Training to train

This morning I did a 5 mile neighborhood run, including about 1.25 miles running around neighborhood #2. Considering the length of the run I am happy with my 9:17 overall pace although my target was to average under 9:10/mile and my goal was to stay under 9:00. I guess you could call that a stretch goal. Maybe if I did more stretching I’d have made it.

The Garmin 50 pulled a new trick, about 3 minutes into my run I noticed that while it was happily reporting time, speed, cadence and heart rate the distance stopped incrementing after .08 miles. I couldn’t figure that out so my only recourse was to stop the timing and restart. Somehow it took that action as starting a new split but at least the Garmin was recording distance again. I felt really good throughout the run (gee maybe there is something to taking rest days) but in the final minute I experienced a reaction where I suddenly had difficulty breathing. This was hyperventilating and not related to being out of breath from the run. I had a similar experience the last time I ran over 5 miles. I recovered by forcing slow breaths and holding my breath until it re-regulated. I’m sure it’s psychological. I just hope it doesn’t continue to happen.

The reason I’m training hard this weekend is that I’m participating in a group run next week that’s been organized by Adventure Girl to start her team’s training for the Ragnar relay race in May. This relay is a 175 mile race from Woodstock to the Bronx with 12 members who each run three legs. I’m not participating in that race but I’m excited about this training run because it will be the first time I’ve run with people in over a decade. I have to admit I’m a little concerned about carrying a conversation while running but I’ll do my best. My other concern is that I’m going directly to the office afterward without a shower. The run, which takes place in Central Park, is only 4K so if I under dress I might be abe to minimize the amount that I sweat.

I’m going to try some trail running tomorrow to take advantage of the weather and to exercise some different muscles.