Race Report: Saunders at Rye Harbor 10K 2013

24 September 2013, 12:00 am
Published in Race Reports

First of all, this race report is extremely late. I’ve been meaning to write it, but it just never seemed to happen. So, here it is.

The Saunders 10K, which took place on August 15, poses a few challenges. The first one is that is on a Thursday night at 6:00 PM. The second one is that it is in the middle of August.

So what does this mean? It means that you never know what you’re going to get on race day. Did you have a bad day at work? Did you eat well during the day? Is it a hot and humid New England summer day?

Well, luckily, none of these factors came into play for me this year. I took the day off from work, so there were no concerns about the effect of the work day on me, and the weather turned out to be beautiful with no humidity.

All that would matter is how well prepared I was for the race, which introduced another twist into the evening. I have been training for a fall marathon through the summer, so from a mileage/training perspective, I should have been OK. However, I was also helping to coach an intermediate 10K running group that was training to run this race.

The training consisted of meeting and running with the group twice a week: one day on the track for speed work and the other day for a group run through the streets of Portsmouth and New Castle. This is the aspect that truly added a twist, because during the training group I was always training at someone else’s pace (slower than my normal training pace) and not my own. Would this effect me negatively? Only time would tell.

I met up with some friends at the start line, and I decided to start off running with a friend who had participated in the 10K training group. We ran together for about half of the race at a pace that was slower for me, and probably even a little too slow for my friend. Being familiar with the course, I knew that there was one small hill about half way through the course and then it would be all down hill. Once we crested the hill, I decided to pick up the pace and run my race for the rest of the time.

I started passing people and continued to do so for the rest of the race, right up to the finish line. It always feels great to be passing people at the end of a race and not being passed. When I finally crossed the finish line, I ended up with a 7:31 overall pace. I definitely could have run faster, but this was still a 10K PR for me and I still felt good after it was all over. So I’ll take it.

So in the middle of next August, when you’re looking for something to do on a Thursday night, definitely run the Saunders at Rye Harbor 10K! Maybe I’ll see you there.

Race Report: Great Island 5K 2013

24 October 2013, 12:00 am
Published in Race Reports

The Great Island 5K took place on Sunday, October 13, in New Castle, NH.

This would be the second time that I had run the Great Island 5K. I first ran in it in 1998 (with a time of 30:44 and a pace of 9:53 at age 27). There were a few things that would make it different this time:

  • I have been training and running regularly (something that I wasn’t doing in 1998)
  • I had run a marathon two weeks prior
  • I was coaching a beginner’s 5K group

So I had some things that were going for me this time, and some things that would remain to see how they would impact me.

The race starts at the Great Island Common in New Castle. The course is composed of a few rolling hills as well as a short run on a gravel road. It’s a scenic course with views of the harbor and ocean from the Common as well as along the course.

After meeting up with the other coaches and members of the Runner’s Alley Beginners 5K Groups that had been training for this race over the past 8 weeks in Portsmouth and Dover, we all made our way to the start line.

I started the race running with a friend. Our goal was to try to run a sub-7:00 pace. The last time that we had raced together with finished with a 7:02 pace. At this point, neither of us were sure that we were physically ready to achieve this goal.

We ran our first mile at right around a 7:00 pace. I was feeling much better than expected at this point. Although I always feel bad leaving a friend when we’re running, we always agree that if the other person should always run their own race. So I picked up the pace to see what I could do.

My running started to click, and I continued to pick up the pace and pass people along the way. In my head, I was thinking about the irony of my race attire. I was wearing a shirt from the training group that I helped coach, and on the back, it read: “Beginners Runner’s Alley Group.” This actually became a topic of conversation on a run later in the week, when someone mentioned that she had been passed by someone in one of these shirts and was thinking that she must be getting slower or wondering why this person was in a beginner’s group.

As we entered back onto the Common for the final loop into the finish line, I continued to pass people. I crossed the line with a time of 21:10 and a pace of 6:49. So I achieved my goal and got a PR.

After finishing, I made my way to the entrance to the Common to cheer on the members of the training group as they finished up their run. Even better than setting a PR was to see these runners finishing strong after all the work that they had put into training over the past eight weeks.

If you have a chance, you definitely should plan on running the Great Island 5K in 2014. It has an added bonus of being part of the Seacoast Road Race Series.

Dashing through the Snow

4 February 2013, 12:00 am
Published in Blog

If you’re like I was in the past, when it comes to winter you hang up your running shoes and pass away the time on the couch in front of a nice warm fire in the fireplace. This year, however, I decided that I was going to run a spring marathon, which means that I committed myself to training throughout the winter months. Living in New England, this could result in runs through the blustery cold, through the snow, through the sleet or occasionally through relatively mild temperatures.

The problem that I found is that no one would ever give me a decisive answer when I asked about training through the winter. I had many questions:

  • What do you wear for shoes?
  • What do you wear for clothes?
  • What do you do when the weather prevents you from running outside?
  • How do you keep your motivation to train through the elements?

Even searching around the web, all that I typically found was generalities but never the answers that I was hoping to find. So here are some of my thoughts based on my experience thus far this winter:

What do you wear for shoes? The simple answer is whatever you run in the rest of the year. When the roads start to get slippery from the snow or ice, your running form is much more important than what you’re wearing on your feet. If you are using good running form you will land on your forefoot or midfoot right under your center of gravity.

If you feel your toe/forefoot slipping, then you are overstriding. Try to shorten your strides, keeping in mind that ideally you should be running at about 180 steps per minute. If you feel your heel slipping, then you pushing off with too much force. It’s amazing how your run can change in slippery conditions just by focusing on these couple of things. When I first ran in slippery conditions this winter, I was slipping and sliding around. Once I was home I immediately went to the Newton Running’s Facebook page (since I run in Newton running shoes), I figured that since they are headquartered in Colorado that they would have some good advice. They provided the advice that I just shared with you, and it has been amazing how much running when it’s slippery has improved.

Don’t get me wrong. Just because you have good running form doesn’t mean that you won’t slip and fall in icy or very slippery conditions. It will, however, lessen your chances of doing so. There are some other things that you can do to create more traction in those conditions. The most effective options are:

  • Use YaktraxStabilicers or something similar to put over your running shoes to provide you with extra traction when you need it. If you want a DIY solution, you can screw hexhead screws into the bottoms of your shoes. I haven’t tried any of these methods yet, so I can’t provide you with a review.
  • If snow and icy conditions are going to be a constant or if you plan on trying to run trails throughout the winter, then you might consider investing in a pair of winter running shoes. Most of the major running magazines publish reviews in the fall so you can decide which one is best for you.
  • Many runners (especially trail runners) decide to switch to snowshoe racing/running to get through the snowy days.
  • Run on the treadmill or take a day off. If you are concerned that it is too slippery, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Turn the day into your rest day so that you will remain safe and ready to run another day.

What do you wear for clothes? I must fully disclose that I tend to be warm when others are cold. Having said that, my general rule is that if it is over 20 degrees outside, then I wear shorts. If it’s below 20, I will switch to basic running tights (I’ve been using Under Armour EVO ColdGear compression tights with only complain being that they don’t have a drawstring so they tend to slip and slide at times). If it’s really cold, then I swear by my CW-X Insulator Pro running tights.

When it comes to the top layer, I prefer to put on layers than to wear a heavier weight jacket. Depending on the temperatures, I range from wearing a long-live moisture wicking long sleeve technical shirt (typically a race shirt) and a 1/2 zip pull over (also moisture wicking). The “go to” 1/2 zip is usually my Brooks Nightlife 1/2 zip jacket. When it get’s really chilly, I’ll add a thermal base layer under the technical shirt. I have been running in both the Under Armour ColdGear compression longsleeve mock turtle neck and more recently Mizuno Breath Thermal running crew. These combinations have served me well through my winter runs, even on the coldest of days. If you’re very sensitive to the cold, then I would recommend a running jacket or shell that is also wind resistant in addition to adjusting the layers to fit your personal comfort level.

Even though I do not tend to wear a heat in the winter on a day-to-day basis, I always wear a hat when running throughout the winter. The most important thing to remember when choosing a hat is that it should be moisture wicking. This will ensure that the moisture moves away from your head and your head stays warm instead of freezing up or getting cold and making your head even colder. Before this winter, I didn’t realize that such a thing existed and now I couldn’t live without it! As with much of my running apparel, I chose Brooks again for my hat. I have both a more traditional knit hat as well as a running “beanie”. The knit hat is the “go to” on colder days. If it is particularly cold (in the single digits or below or if it is cold and particularly windy), I also have a Brooks balaclava that I have only used a few times this winter, but it was a welcome addition.

Much like a hat, I typically do not wear gloves or mittens in the winter. However, there is no way that I could run without them. My gloves are relatively light weight, but once again adjust to fit your specific comfort level. As with the hat, my only recommendation is that you choose a brand that is moisture wicking so that your hands don’t get all sweaty. I have a pair of Brooks Nightlife gloves, which provide some additional reflectivity on those dark early morning or evening winter runs. I also have a pair of Mizuno Breath Thermal gloves, which were a nice recent addition to the wardrobe.

In terms of socks, I wear the same ones that I wear year-round. Once again make sure that they are moisture wicking to try to keep your feet as dry as possible.

What do you do when the weather prevents you from running outside? Here are some ideas for alternative activities when the weather prevents you from running:

  • Snowshoeing
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Treadmill
  • Crosstrain (stationery bike, elliptical, etc.)
  • Crossfit
  • Yoga
  • Walk
  • Rest

Most often I end up on the treadmill or turning the day into a rest day. This largely depends on where I am when the weather prevents me from running (which isn’t that often, but it does happen).

How do you keep your motivation to train through the elements? I had this very same question when I was trying to figure out how I was going to run through the winter. At the time, I was training for the Seacoast Half Marathon with a training group that was offered through the local running store (Runner’s Alley in Portsmouth, NH).

Even though it was August, I posed this question to our running coach, Mike Davis of No Finish Line Running. He gave me some great advice. He recommended that I plan on running the Half at the Hamptons, which is a half marathon in Hampton, NH, on February 24, 2013. This would be the carrot that danged in front of me on those cold and snowy days when I would prefer to stay on the couch in front of the fireplace. So that’s exactly what I did. Well, actually, I took it one step further and also registered for the Delaware Marathon on May 12. These two races would ensure that I would have to remain dedicated throughout the winter months. I haven’t looked back since. So pick something that will keep you motivated to run or even better find a running partner or a running group through your local running club or running store both to keep you accountable and to provide you with support through the winter months.

There are many more questions involving running in the winter and in colder weather, but hopefully these questions and my responses will help you to eliminate some of your doubts and fears of running through the winter. If you have other questions, please let me know and I’ll gladly share my experiences. And I’ll share more as I go along.

Now get outside and go for a run!

Redhook/Runner's Alley 5K

25 May 2014, 12:00 am
Published in Events