Sunday, January 14, 2018

Week 2: 1.8.18 - 1.14.18 - The Jankening

Monday - Seekonk, MA - 2.6 miles

Ankle remains sore but I can't stay contained indoors.  I brought my snowshoes with me to work and at lunch went over to the Seekonk Meadows for a lunch run.  It was 30ish degrees so I went with shorts.  I immediately regretted it as the snow was unbroken and soon the back of my legs was caked in frosty snow.  Soon though I found some broken trail and I was able to work into a run.  That melted the snow and warmed me up.  I did a mix of running and walking and my Dion snowshoes worked great.  They are not the straight up running shoes, but the ones designed for both hiking and running.  They worked well but man it's hard work on unbroken/half-broken ground.  A good 45 minutes of effort.

Rest of the week - 0 miles

I paid a price for Monday's snowshoe effort.  My ankle was very sore the next day and though I could walk on it fine through the week there is still major discomfort.  It's painful to apply pressure at points and I guess in retrospect this is a full-blown ankle sprain.  Fuck this shit.

The first race of the 4th Season Trail Series is this weekend but I haven't even considered running it.  So far rest has done little to make this ankle injury better so I suppose I'll need to get it looked at next week.

Sunday morning, 12 days after the injury and the ankle aches even when I'm sitting on the couch - a frustrating start to 2018.

Mileage: 2.6 miles / Year to Date: 20.6 miles

Time on Feet: 43 minutes / Year to Date: 4 hours 43 min

Elevation: 200 whopping feet / Year to Date: 2193 feet

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Week 1: 1.1.18 - 1.7.18

Here we go - a new year, another chance for blog redemption!  This is a big year for ol' Seth as I turn 40 in April.  Let the midlife crisis begin!  Perhaps my ascension to Master status will inspire me to up my racing game once again.  Here we go!

Monday - Charlestown, RI - 8 miles

It was about 10 degrees out and my wife helped motivate me to get out the door to start the year right.  Ventured over to Carter Preserve and ran a mix of the usual trails.  Just enough snow on the ground to provide a nice crunch.  Chilled at first in just my cold compression tights but eventually I warmed up everywhere except my elbows which always fare poorly when the weather is especially cold.  Do they make elbow warmers for such occasions?

Tuesday - South Kingstown, RI - 6.5 miles

Ab Ripper X (15 minutes)

Started the day with a return to the Ab Ripper.  I mean to restart these morning workouts or die in the attempt!

I'm working from home this week and went over to DuVal at lunch for some crunchy trails.  Not as cold as yesterday but I was still chilled for the first couple miles.  Right towards the end as I'm approaching the cemetery I tell myself to keep my eyes on the ground - my stumbles always seem to come right at the finish line.  It didn't matter though, I still managed to bend my right foot backwards on a rock.  Pissed that once again I have summoned the Jank Monster™ ™to derail my efforts.  I hobbled along for a few steps and then was able to shamble the final stretch to the car.  It was very tender afterwards.  I'll almost definitely need to take it easy for a couple days.  Curses.

Wednesday - 0 miles

Yeah, the ankle hurts.  As does my pride.  I had hoped to get in a run today before the storm dumps on us tomorrow but it is not to be.  Looks like I'll have to be content with dragging in firewood as my day's effort.  My whole right foot is very swollen.  Luckily being in my snow boots seems to stabilize it so I won't be able to shirk my upcoming shoveling duties.

Thursday - 0 miles

The latest blizzard has arrived and I've got the basement cookin' at 80+ thanks to the wood stove.  Amazingly we haven't lost power which is a welcome break.  My foot is still very swollen.  Walking around isn't bad but I've got to continue to take it easy so that I can make a quick recovery.  Dammit.

Friday - 0 miles

A goodly amount of shoveling yesterday and another big round this morning.  Plow guy came in the night so we're in good shape post-storm.  Foot swelling is finally going down.  I was looking forward to some snowshoe exploring in my new Dion's at, say, Carter or DuVal but it is not to be...

Saturday - Charlestown, RI - 3 miles

Ankle remains sore and a bit swollen but I would not be denied another day.  Strapped on my snowshoes and hiked three miles in Carter Preserve, breaking trail most of the way.  Kept the pace easy and other than the wind chilling my nether regions as I battled the drifts in the grasslands I was very comfortable in the cold temps.

Sunday - 0 miles

Mileage: 18 miles

Time on Feet: 4 hours

Elevation: 1,993 feet

This ankle injury is an annoying way to start the year but I'll be back to running soon.  Anyway with the decent snow we got and my apathy towards roads I may just be looking at more snowshoeing for the time being anyway.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 Year in Review

It's been a quiet year for the blog with a couple attempts to restart it that just haven't taken.  It is what it is - suffice to say I'm not that keen on blogging these days.  I'll try to be more consistent in 2018.  That falls in line with other things I need to work on but we'll get to that down below.

Currently I'm sick and have been ever since I came back from my California work conference three weeks ago.  I've had a hacky cough and have had bouts of head colds and lethargy.  I need to get it checked soon as this cough is annoying.  California was a great time and running out there was an absolute joy.  Between getting up early to run and putting in long days at the conference it's not surprising that I got sick but it's unfortunate as California derailed my morning meditation ritual and since I've been sick my motivation to run has been nilch.  Sucks 'cause I'm off from work on Christmas break and I'm just not feeling it.

Running-wise I'd say this year was a disappointment overall. I finished with around 1500 miles up from 1400 last year.  I started the year strong but found myself dealing with ankle pain that forced me to take it easy for a couple months.  I picked it up again later in the summer but I never really found a good training pattern or rhythm.  And these last few weeks have seen me not running at all.  Once I stop it's hard to jump start it.

The disappointment also ties into the fact that my interest in running has been diminishing.  Part of that is that I'm limited to doing most of my runs in the city at lunch and I've grown tired of those surroundings.  I feel that if I were in the woods I'd be more enthused about things.  Of course I've been here at home for 9 days now and have barely run.  So....shrug?

This year I ran a whopping six races.  I tied last years number and continue a downward trend:

2017 - 6
2016 - 6
2015 - 11
2014 - 15
2013 - 17
2012 - 12
2011 - 3
2010 - 3

I've had injury issues the last couple years which kept me off the starting line for several months so that accounts for some of it.  You can argue chicken/egg between this and lack of running interest.  Am I not racing because I've lost an interest in running or am I not running because I'm not racing as much as I used to?  Who can say.

The reality is that I'm focusing most of my attention on mountain adventures, not races. I spend my time looking at the calendar planning big hiking trips/mountain runs rather then looking at race schedules.  I'm a lucky guy to be able to get away for as many solo trips as I take and these days I'd rather look towards the mountains than races, be they long distance or otherwise.  I'd like to run Boston at some point but that would mean putting in a lot of actual training to prepare for a road marathon and that's not something I think I can stomach right now.  I consider it every year but I just keep kicking the can down the road.  At any rate I have other goals.  There are some big races brewing in the Whites for 2018 and I damn sure mean to be there.  That means putting together an actual training plan that involves long distances and hills hills hills.

Cross-training wise I had started to get into a groove with yoga, planks, P90X3 and meditation but everything has gotten derailed at one point or another.  It sounds crazy but I actually blame my new coffee preparation which ties me up for 20 minute in the morning.  It makes greats coffee but it's surprising how costly that 20 minutes is.  Look for some exciting coffee/time management blog reports in 2018.

As I said I'm been much more interested in hiking this year and it ended up being a great one.  I spent a lot of time up in the Whites and had some fine outings, both solo and with the family.  I made my first foray into hammock camping and while it was a little rough I'm looking forward to more attempts next year.  I knocked off a bunch more 4000 footers to bring my total to 39 but I still have 9 more to go.  I hope to finish this list next year.  Let's see if I can keep the upward trajectory on this graph going in 2018!

18 4ks total for 2017 which is a new high for me

As always, let's look back at my top five races/adventures of 2017:

5. Mount Washington - July 2, 2017
I capped three days of hiking in the Whites with a trip up the Rockpile.  I had originally intended for a more epic day but rains made me switch up the weekend plans and by the third day I was too worn out for a major Presidential adventure (but I made it happen soon enough - see #1).  This was a good trek in its own right with a variety of conditions.  Lots of water on the way up Tucks and the summit was thick in the clouds.  A great end to three days which also included the Hancocks and Carrigain.

4. Run with the Beavers 10 Mile Trail Race
Another year, another Beaver race.  In a year of few races, this was a good one.  After a couple months of not running much it was nice to get out there and still be able to compete.

3. RI 6 Hour Ultra
I signed up early when entry was cheap which ended up being a good way to make myself commit.  The race was moved to dirt roads this year (much of it the same as the Beaver race) and it was good to get another ultra under the belt.  This was a fun, low-key race that I "enjoyed."  Unbeknownst to me I spent most of the race in 2nd place before being overtaken in the final lap.  Still I'm happy with grinding out 37 miles and 3rd overall.

2. Mount San Jacinto - December 8, 2017
I had a day off during my work conference and made the most of it, renting a car and driving though the badlands on my way up to the pine covered highlands and the mountain town of Idyllwild.  The hike itself was 5000 feet of incredible California climbing.  It took a lot out of me and the 18 miles trashed my legs by the end but I finished in just over six hours and got a taste of just how amazing the mountains are out west.  I want more!  I've posted a video of this hike at the bottom of the page.

Fulfilled a long time goal of a traverse on the Presidential ridge.  18 miles and a lot of climbing on some rocky terrain.  Conditions were warm and perfect which made for a journey that was hard but manageable.  Finished in 7 hours 10 minutes.  Psyched me up for more such adventures!

I'm not even going to bother summarizing last year's goals as they mostly didn't pan out.  Instead let's just look ahead to some goals for 2018:

  • Complete the 4000 footers - 9 more to go and I have some big goals that will help with that
  • Pemi Loop - Another White Mountain goal of mine is a 1-day loop around the Pemigewasset Wilderness.  Will it happen in 2018?
  • Kilkenney Ridge Race - Here's a ballsy one for next year.  Ryan Welts is setting up a badass 50 miler in the northern Whites in July.  It'll take a lot of training to make myself even capable of doing this one and hopefully it'll light a fire under me.
  • Presidential Traverse Part 2 - Here's a stretch goal.  I'd like to take another whack at the traverse and see what kind of time I can put up with a better route and less dilly-dallying.
That's plenty for 2018 and that about does it for 2017.  For anyone who still reads this blog, thanks for doing so.  Hopefully as I get back into the rhythm of things I'll keep the blog going for 2018.  One can hope!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Presidential Traverse - September 23, 2017

I fell off the blog train again.  I suppose I barely had one foot on it to begin with.  Well let me give it another attempt, sometimes that's all we can do.

I missed writing up a few things since I was MIA. I had a three day White Mountain adventure at the end of June.  Day 1 featured a quick trip up the Hancocks, Day 2 was a fine hike up Carrigain and then on Day 3 I tackled a wet Tuckerman's Ravine and Mt Washington in some fun, foggy conditions. Originally I had plans for a traverse of the Northern Presidentials but rain earlier in the weekend derailed those plans and by Day 3 I was too tired to attempt it.

Run with the Beavers race in mid-July went well.  It wasn't the humid sufferfest of last year and I was pleased with my performance.

I took off two weeks from work in July, an unheard of length of time for me.  During that we went up to Montreal and Quebec City for a fun family vacation north of the border.  I got some good runs in both cities and enjoyed my attempts at speaking French badly. 

So after some summer adventures I was looking forward to running the Kismet Cliff Climb again.  But as summer waned and fall approached I decided to rethink my White Mountain plans that weekend.  I had already run Kismet and had done fairly well and there were plenty of other adventures up there that I was thinking about - and eventually I decided to attempt a Presidential Traverse instead.

I didn't sleep well but I really liked my setup.  Will give it another go!

Sunset at Ethan Pond

But I also had started tinkering with a hammock camping setup.  The Manchild uses a hammock and Amanda had gotten me one for Father's Day.  So I went down the wormhole, learned a good deal and decided to start my White Mountain weekend with an "easy" night of camping at the Ethan Pond shelter.  So I hiked with my big pack for 2.5 miles, set up shop on a tent platform and then hiked up Mt. Willey because it was right there and how could I not?  By the time I returned to camp it was bustling with people.  I enjoyed a fine meal and conversation in the "kitchen" before retiring.  Unfortunately I slept very little.  Chalk it up to being my first night in the hammock which apparently is a thing.  I laid awake for most of the night, listening to noises in the woods.  So not an ideal way to prepare for a long day on the Presidentials but what was done was done.  Check out the video below for highlights from this Ethan Pond trek:

So in the morning I packed up and made my way back to the car by 7:30 AM.  I drove a few miles to the Highland Center and prepared my gear for the day.   The forecast was prefect - mid 60s and little wind.  This made it easy to go with my minimal setup.  I wore my hydration vest.  I had a bag of gels/salt tabs/treats, hat/gloves, a spare water bottle, first aid, headlamp, a windbreaker and my lightweight hiking poles.   A brought a small water filter and a tiny bag of survival stuff which was probably overkill but better safe than sorry.

Since this was a point to point trip I had to hike either to or from my car.  I didn't like the idea of heading from my car and relying on a shuttle to get me back there.  The logistics would have kept me worried me all day.  But taking the shuttle from the Highland Center meant starting the trek at 10 AM.  Later than I would have liked.  After looking at some comparable Strava activities, I figured I could complete this in eight hours before darkness set in so in the end I went with taking the shuttle to the start.

It was a bumpy ride but I still dozed off towards the end.  Then suddenly we were at the packed Valley Way parking lot and it was time to begin.  Immediately I was ready to go.  I jogged a bit over the first few miles but pretty soon the climbing began and it was up, up, up.  Once I hit the massive boulders on the side of Madison things slowed down considerably.  It was tough to even see the cairns from the sun glare.  After Madison it was down to the Madison Hut where I filled my bottles including the backup I had brought.  This proved wise as it was a hot day, even up there.  I snagged a piece of coffee cake and then out the door I went.

Madison Hut and behind it Mt Adams awaits

Mt Jefferson Summit w/ Washington and Southern Ridge behind

Mt Adams was a brutal climb with some fun scrambles.  It's clear that what training I did do had not prepared me for this kind of climbing.  Not sure I can really duplicate this down in Rhode Island for future efforts but it certainly was a reality check.  At the top of Adams I rested for a minute and snacked before continuing on (I kept the breaks to about 2-3 minutes on the Northern Peaks and even less on the Southern ones.)

I scraped my knee lifting it over a boulder in between Adams and Jefferson and it bled like a bastard.  I probably should have made use of the first aid I had brought but stubbornly pressed on ahead, figuring I'd clean it up at the Washington summit.  The Gulfside trail was beautiful and I was amazed how fortunate I was with the weather.  By the time I reached Jefferson I had been running for about 3 hours 20 minutes.  I couldn't tell if I was on schedule or not and Washington seemed so far away (even though it was only a couple miles).

It was the climb up to Washington where I really began to feel the day's effort.  This slope isn't particular steep but my feet were feeling the endless rock assault and the knee wound had crusted over into an ugly thing.  The trail approached the train tracks and watching the Cogs head up kept me distracted.  Finally I reached the last steep pile of rocks at the Summit and the gaggle of people waiting in line to get their picture with the summit sign.

Chasing Cogs
Summit Madness

Lakes of the Clouds Hut

I had been anticipating dressing my wound and grabbing some real food in the cafeteria.  Now that I was here I recalled Jonny's blog from a few years ago when he reached the summit.  I had the same reaction and just wanted to escape.  I filled my water bottles and continued on.  Heading down the Crawford Path now I was able to get a bit more speed and kept this up as I approached the Lakes of the Clouds Hut.  It was shut up for the season so there were no treats to be had at this one.

The southern peaks were a contrast - the trail is much less technical and more runnable, but my legs were utter shit.  It wasn't until I had descended Eisenhower that the first twinges of leg cramps began and luckily they held off.  I chatted with some folks briefly at the summit of Pierce who were also doing traverses and then I kept going on the final stretch of the Crawford Path back to the car.


It was a delicate mixture of going as fast as I could while keeping my leg cramps from unleashing.  I had managed to not use my poles all day - at first it was out of pride but it was useful to have them out of the way as I picked up speed (slightly) on the second half.  I actually came across some backpackers I had met the previous night who were heading up to the campsites near Mizpah Hut and they congratulated me on getting it done.  Finally at about 5:15 PM I reached the end of the trail.  7 hours and 10 minutes total.  An honest effort for a flatlander and one I'm proud of.

Here's my video of the adventure:

This whole thing went about as well as it could.  Perfect weather!  I definitely tried to put up a good time and I didn't dillydally too much.  Having finally done it I'd love to take another whack at it in 2018 and see if I can bring my time down.  I didn't pick the fastest trails and there's definitely room for improvement.  This was also a big confidence booster as I looked to other long mountain adventures going forward.  Basically this is the kind of stuff I want to do as much as I'm able while I'm still able.

Fun Facts:
  • Mt Madison, Adams and Jefferson were #37-39 on my 4000 Footer List.
  • Mt Pierce and Mt Washington are now tied for my most ascents at four apiece
  • This trek brought my total number of 4000 Footers in NH for 2017 (including repeats) to 18