Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Year in Review

In 2010 I began running again after a decade of inactivity.  I ran sporadically (sidelined a couple times by IT band issues) and by the end of the year I had run 50 miles and a few 5ks.

In 2011 I amped up the mileage significantly.  I ran my first half marathon in September '11, began to experiment with trail running and by the end of the year hit 500 miles.

So how did 2012 fare?

2012 featured another huge increase in mileage - 1265 miles for the year!  Other than a few weeks of downtime due to self-inflicted injuries, I managed to run throughout the entire year.  I increased the distance of my long runs substantially and completed two marathons.  I spent a lot more time in the woods in 2012.  Also, after reading their member's blogs and seeing them at races all year, I finally joined the Westerly Track and Athletic Club.  Why suffer alone?

I had a few self-inflicted injuries this year.  Rolled ankles, a smashed up big toe and a bad gash on my thigh.  Lack of concentration (and running in the dark) was usually the culprit.  But nothing kept me off the roads/trails for more than a week or so and everything seems to have healed up.  I've been fortunate to not have any recurring mechanical injuries and I mean to keep it that way through a variety of cross training on my off days. 

And now, my top five running accomplishments of 2012:

5: Joining the Westerly Athletic & Track Club

A little hokey perhaps but it's true that finding good people people to run with makes a big difference.  WTAC has a great group of runners who run all manner of local races.  I'm looking forward to hitting the woods with them in 2013.

This was my first race after I injured myself at the Li'l Rhody Runaround.  I wasn't sure how I would perform but in the end I ran a 38:13 and smashed the time I was going for.   This race gave me a lot of confidence going into next year.

3: Providence Marathon

I got it into my head early this year that I wanted to run a marathon in the spring.  The Providence one made sense as it was nearby and flat.  Despite my weekly mileage never topping 33 miles, I was able to hit the sub 4 hour goal I was aiming for.  I was very satisfied with my first marathon performance.

This was a local 5k in fast, flat Ninigret Park.  I really wanted to run a sub 20 minute race and couldn't believe it when I finished in 18:42.  A huge PR and a big time confidence boost!  I also placed 2nd in my Age Group (the first individual award I've received since running again - another nice ego boost.)  This was also a big race for my wife Amanda who ran a sub 30 minute race.
After the Providence Marathon, I started looking for a longer trail race to run in the fall.   I didn't feel ready to go for the 50k distance and the NipMuck looked just right.  I had planned to be out in the woods for 5 hours based on my Providence time and was thrilled when I finished in 4:12 and 13th place.  This was a tough race and the last few miles were brutal but I really enjoyed the mental aspect of running alone in the woods.

Looking forward to 2013, I have several goals in mind:
  • I'd like to run the Providence Marathon again - I think a 3:30 time is doable.  VDOT has my marathon time (based on my recent Newport 10k) at 2 hours 56 minutes.  That sounds insane but I'd be willing to negotiate my goal time.
  • I'd like to run a 1:35 half marathon.  I'm looking at the Ocean's Run 1/2 in Matunuck in March.  We'll see if I can fit it in amongst the awesome South County 4th Season trail series.
  • Once spring arrives I want to start running in my Vibrams again.  I smashed my big toe in them in August which effectively ended my minimalist experiment for the year.  I'd like to take them up again (in daylight from now though!)
  • I would definitely like to run the NipMuck marathon again.  This will be the 30th running of it and I'd like to outperform my 2012 self.
  • Sub 18 minute 5k perhaps?

Thanks to everyone who took time to read my blog this year.  I appreciate it!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Weekly Log: 12.23.12 - 12.30.12

Monday - Ryan Park - North Kingstown, RI - 6.1 miles

Although I have to work on Christmas Eve which is crap I made the best of it by stopping at Ryan Park and running work.  I thought this would be a good opportunity to run the upcoming Belleville Pond 10k course (South County 4th Season race #3.)  Pulling into the park I saw a group of about six women in the middle of the lot.  They took off running into the park as I was getting ready.  On the trails I encountered several people walking dogs including a couple running with their canine.  Ryan Park is apparently a popular spot, even on cold mornings.

I did a pretty good job of remembering the course considering it's been a year.  I think I took a wrong turn after the sand dunes because the trail didn't look familiar.  It took me down past a marshy area that I didn't remember from the race.  But it eventually led to the old railbed section so I probably hit at least 90% of the course in the end. 

Tuesday - 0 miles

Merry Christmas!   It was filled with family, food and fun.  Lots of pie, good beer and my mother-in-law's devilish peanut butter balls. 

Wednesday - Smithfield, RI - 6.9 miles

Time to work off those peanut butter balls.  I decided to stick to roads today so I did a big loop up in Smithfield.  This did involve a short trail section at the beginning for which I was very happy - it was wonderful out there in the woods.  There was a light covering of snow on the ground and small frozen pools of water everywhere.  Very pleasant running in this cold winter environment.

After the trail section, I jumped onto Rocky Hill Rd - a wide, quiet road with a couple good hills.  The roads weren't as enriching as running in the woods but I wanted an even surface for today's run to give my janky foot a break.  It doesn't hurt or anything but I don't want to overdo the trail running.  Other than a few icy spots the roads were uneventful.  I was wearing my thermals and thought I'd also need my fleece vest but it proved to be overkill as I was overheating for the last couple miles.

Thursday - Smithfield, RI - 6 miles

Ab Ripper X (20 minutes)

My plan was to get in a track workout at Bryant.  It had been raining all night but it was supposed to start tapering off by 8 AM so I figured it wouldn't be too bad for running.  Once I pulled into the Bryant parking lot I realized my plan was flawed.  There was an inch of slush throughout the parking lot and just as much on the track.  My feet were soaked within 30 seconds and I realized the track workout was not going to happen.

So instead I just started to run through the Bryant campus, trying to find walkways which were clear of slush and ponds.  After a few minutes I opted to leave campus on one of the side roads and just run.  It was hard to avoid water as it was pooling all over the place so I just plowed through.  A ran a few miles to the Smith Appleby House - just a couple historic buildings and a barn.

As I turned around it began to pour.  So much for it tapering off.  The water finally breached my rain jacket and I was drenched for the return trip.  Despite the awful conditions I was actually enjoying myself.  I'm sure the passing motorists were amused by this crazy asshole running in the rain with a big smile on his face.  Near the end my hands were really starting to get cold so I was happy when I finally made it back to my car.

Friday - Charlestown, RI - 5.1 miles

Short early morning run down Old Coach and back.  It was cold of course but the moon was huge and bright in the sky.  I included a couple quick Charlestown Land Trust sections in the run.  At one point I roused a bird in the tall grass next to me - scared the shit out of me.

Saturday - 0 miles

Sunday - 0 miles

I traveled to New York on Saturday for a Phish show which left me with neither the time, energy or inclination to run.

Weekly mileage: 24.1 miles

 Year to Date: 1256.8 miles

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Weekly Log: 12.17.12 - 12.23.12

Monday - Smithfield, RI - 6 miles

Got up early to do strength training but I just couldn't will myself to do it.  However the rain looked like it was going to peter out by mid-morning so I opted to run before work.  I parked at Bryant and did a loop around the local reservoir Stump Pond.  The rain was mostly a drizzle throughout the run - not too bad and not really cold either.

It's a big descent from Bryant down to the pond.  I took Old Forge Rd over to Log Rd.  Quiet country roads with few cars.  Quite the variety of houses along the pond.  Some beautiful pieces of property.  Others were older shanties that somehow haven't yet collapsed down steep hills into the water.  The hills back up to Bryant were a tough but satisfying end to the run.

Tuesday - 0 miles

P90X Plyometrics (60 minutes)

Wednesday - 0 miles

Ab Ripper X (20 minutes)

Thursday - Wolf Hill - Smithfield, RI - 6.1 miles

I was going to do speedwork today but I really wanted to get in a trail run this week and with tomorrow looking suspect I thought it better to run offroad today.  I opted to head back to Wolf Hill - I haven't run here in awhile and the trails are challenging and varied.  Probably more technical than I needed with my weak foot but I donned my ankle brace and made my way up into the hill.

This area has a lot of variety.  Many of the trails are pretty rocky and required my full concentration.  The power lines run down the middle of the management area and offer a chance to run on rocky/dirt trails out in the open.  The Mercer Lookout is the remains of an old house - now only a crumbling chimney remain atop a massive rock outcropping.  But it offers a great view of Providence and the bay beyond.

Then I headed to the quarry which offers great views of Stump Pond and Smithfield beyond.  This old quarry now yields a large fire pit at the base with various chairs and benches scattered about.  Clearly the younglings come here at night to dance and make mischief.  But in the light of the morning the place was deserted - only their dirt bike tracks and broken bottles remain.

From here I headed down to run along the edge of Stump Pond and then up the Ken Mercer trail where I took various other unnamed trails back to my car.  I was aware of my bad foot the whole time and was constantly concentrating on watching my step.  Other than a few twinges there was no pain and no bad rolls.  A successful trail run on some difficult terrain.

Friday - 0 miles

P90X Chest & Back (60 minutes)

It looked like a friggin' monsoon outside so I opted to do some strength training that I neglected earlier in the week.

Saturday - Woody Hill / Wahaneeta trails - 12.7 miles

Big group run with Jonny, Jeff, Muddy, Mike B and Tom.  We met at the Benny's parking lot at 6:30 AM and made our way up to the Woody Hill management area.  It was nice to finally meet Tommy 5k and chat with all the WTAC guys throughout the run.  Woody Hill is a great area I've never run in before.  We ran on wide dirt trails for a while before jumping back onto roads for a bit in Bradford.  Tom had managed to park his car in the middle of nowhere and left us at the halfway mark.  Jeff then took us on a favorite swamp trail of his and I use the word trail loosely - briars and muck abound on this barely there trail.

Jeff was been doing some trail work on the Wahaneeta preserve and was excited to show us this new area that was purchased by the Westerly Land Trust.  Cool burnt out chimney and the makings of an abandoned hobo camp.  The centerpiece of Wahaneeta is an old girl scout cabin which is in the process of being repaired.  Pretty cool structure and it was neat to see this sweet cabin in the middle of the woods.  Then Jeff took us down some unfinished singletrack to a large outcrop of rocks with great views of the area.  With a large field nearby we mused about holding a trail event in these woods.  Then we jumped back onto the road and ran down Dunns Corner Rd back to our cars.

It was a lot of fun doing a long trail run with like minded folks and I'm looking forward to more such runs in 2013.

Sunday - 0 miles

P90X Yoga X (45 minutes)

Weekly mileage: 24.8 miles

Year to Date: 1,232.7 miles

Monday, December 17, 2012

Old Mountain Field 5k Trail Race

Official time: 21:23.   15th of 135.

Winter is here and that means it's time for the South County 4th Season Trail series.   Put on by local speedster and recent WTAC member Mike Galoob, it's a great mix of trail distances at a variety of southern RI trails.

The first one is a 5k held on some old/new trails in Old Mountain Field in Wakefield.  I waited until the last minute to register for this one as I wasn't sure how confident I was in my bad foot.  After getting a spiffy new brace and taking it for a test run on Friday, I felt optimistic enough to attempt this race.

I did the course as a warm-up with Mike C and we were both surprised by how technical and tricky it was.  Muddy sections, stone bridges, briars and big rocks: this course had a little of everything.  It was fun chatting with Mike and there were no issues with the foot on the warm-up.  I was glad to have a preview of the actual race.

Soon it was time to line up.  Lots of WTAC folks.  Lots of TNT people.   I took off fast along with everyone else as people were trying to get into good position before the race entered the woods.  I entered the woods in about 16th place which was just about right because there was very little passing going on around me on the trails.

I took off so fast that I was already pretty tired entering the woods.  Luckily the first section is all rooty and required a lot of concentration - kept my mind off the exhaustion.  I focused on keeping up with the blue shirted guy ahead of me.  The trail crossed over some tricky rock bridges and then settled into a newer section that was already getting pretty muddy from the lead runners.

Once the course turned onto an established trail I took the opportunity to pass blue shirt guy and the yellow shirt kid ahead of him.  From this point on there was no one ahead of me - but I was constantly aware of being chased.  At one corner I glanced back and saw that it was Mike B and Yellow Boy right on my tail.

As the trail approaches the Old Mountain parking lot there's a series of miserable switchbacks that left me exhausted and frustrated as I nearly went off trail several times.  Any momentum I had was constantly being erased.  And the chasers were right behind me!  The course skirts the parking lot and gives spectators a chance to cheer their runners.  Turns out that Yellow Boy had a lot of crowd support and that his name is Sam.  As the trail turned inward for one last cruel uphill section, I heard a fan tell Yellow Sam to "pass those old guys."  Ouch.

As the course spilled out of the woods and onto the field Yellow Sam did as he was told and zipped past me.  I should have risen to the challenge but I was just happy that I had made it through the entire trail race without friggin' up my foot!  We reached the last straightaway and I checked the systems to see if I could mount a kick but the trails had left me exhausted.  Mike B had juice enough though and passed me as well, almost catching Yellow Sam in the process.

So I finished in 15th with a respectable time of 21:23 and fifth for WTAC.  I'm slightly disappointed that Sam (who turned out to be 11  - yikes!) and Mike B got the best of me at the end but I'm very pleased that I was able to tackle this technical trail race with no foot issues.  This was a big confidence boost and I plan to get back out in the woods on a regular basis again!

After the race I chatted with folks, ate some grub and did a cooldown with WTAC guys, picking up some course flags along the way.  Got back for the awards and found out the Tuesday Night Turtles won the team division.  Curses!  However there are plenty of races left in the series for WTAC to find their mojo!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Weekly Log: 12.10.12 - 12.16.12

Monday - 0 miles

It was raining pretty hard in the morning which was a good enough excuse to skip my run.  Legs are actually pretty sore from yesterday's race.

Tuesday - 0 miles

P90X Chest & Back (60 minutes)
Ab Ripper X (20 minute)

My janky right foot has been getting better.  I can roll it further onto the outside before the pain starts.   I had an appointment today to see a sports medicine ortho as I wanted to see what he would say.  Basically he echoed my primary care doc.  It's not a stress fracture.  It should get better with time.  He gave me a kickass ankle brace which I can wear over my sock that should stabilize the foot and help keep it from rolling.  We shall see.

Wednesday - 0 miles

P90X Plyometrics (60 minutes)

Thursday - Charlestown, RI - 6.2 miles

It was cold and dark out there and I had no interest in running at 5:00 AM.  But after three days off I wanted to get a run in.  I also wanted to test out my new ankle brace on even ground before taking it into the woods.  The test was a success - no discomfort running in it. 

I ran at a pretty good clip up to Biscuit City Road where I turned around after three miles.  Right at the turn around there were green eyes looking at me.  Mountain lion?  No, I think it was a dog of some kind.  Still creepy and I kept looking over my shoulder for a couple minutes to make sure it wasn't following me.

I just signed up for the Old Mountain 5k Trail Race this Sunday.  Looking forward to racing with WTAC again.

Friday - Smithfield, RI - 4.3 miles

Ab Ripper X (20 minutes)

Did a short run this morning in the trails near Fidelity.  Took the old road/trail that leads to Rocky Hill Rd out and then ran the Hanton City trail back.  This is a nice wide trail with big hills and good footing.  I had my fancy schmancy ankle brace on and there were no issues with the foot.  A good sign.  It was nice running offroad in the cold with the bright sun.

Saturday - 0 miles

P90X Yoga X (90 minutes)

Sunday - Old Mountain Field 5k Trail Race - 7.4 miles

Separate write-up to here.

Weekly Mileage: 17.6 miles

Year to Date: 1,207.9 miles

Monday, December 10, 2012

Newport Christmas 10k

Official time: 38:13.  18th out of 459.

This race popped onto my radar a few weeks ago when some of the WTAC guys started talking about it.  After the rolling calamity which was the Li'l Rhody Runaround this seemed like a good road event that might allow me to regain confidence.  Plus the distance - 10k instead of 5k - was appealing as it's not a distance I usually race.  A few weeks ago I calculated my time using VDOT and it spit out 38:52.  This seemed pretty bold so I was aiming for a sub-40 minute performance.

The race begins near and ends at the Rogers High School.  Met up with the WTAC crew before the race and did a couple miles of warm-up.  They immediately entered a park across the street from the High School and I broke my Trail Moratorium three days early.  Forgive me!  But there were no incidents with the foot and it was fun listening to the guys discuss strategy and the upcoming Old Mountain Field 5k.  This was actually a pretty cool little park with wooded trails, great elevated views and a giant rock wall with a mysterious door.  As crazy as it sounds this was the first time I've done a group run with anyone since I started running again.  Very enjoyable and hopefully I'll get in some longer trail runs with these guys soon.

Then it was time to make our way to the starting line.  Lots of fast people there and last year's team winners - Tuesday Night Turtles - were once again well represented.  I lined up behind the WTAC guys and was determined not to go out as fast as at Li'l Rhody.  The gun went off and I settled into a 6:20 pace as people passed by me.  I kept glancing at my Garmin for the first two miles.  6:10 pace.  6:35 pace.  6:12 pace.  Finally as I approached Bretton Point I was able to tune it out for the most part and focus on just running at a good hard pace.

The field was spread out as we passed Bretton Point.  Now I began slowly overtaking the various people in front of me.  As we rounded the southern edge of BP, there was a major headwind - I looked down at the road ahead of me and tried not to slow down.  I hit the halfway mark and looked at my watch - 19:30.  Pretty pleased as this is a good 5k time for me and I felt that I could keep this pace which would set me up to finish around 39 minutes.

By miles 4 & 5 I had settled into a good rhythm, picking off the runners and moving closer to the next.  Just before mile 5 the race intersects with the 3.5 mile walkers and suddenly there were lots of people to avoid.  Not a big deal but occasionally they would be spread out as much as four people across the road which was aggravating to avoid.

At mile 6 I was feeling the fatigue.  I could only see one more runner ahead of me (in a green tank top) and I didn't think I was gaining fast enough to overtake him.  The course veered north onto Carroll Ave and now I was really working.  When I hit the section of the course we had run in the warm-up I knew it was almost over.  The course turned onto Ruggles Ave and I was getting pretty close to Green Tank Top.  There's a big hill right before the finish and I was determined not to loose speed.  Green Tank Top made the mistake of hugging the left side of the road whereas I took the direct line up the right and tried to push it up the hill with whatever I had left.

At the top of the hill it was a short run into the high school parking lot.  Cheerleaders line both sides of the road which was a nice touch.  As I entered the corral I saw the timer (38:1x) and was thrilled.  Not only was I able to maintain my pace - I actually did one better and hit a negative split.  In VDOT I Trust from now on I guess.  The usual suspects were all milling about the finish line.  Mike G and Justin led the way for Team WTAC and Jonny and Jeff both had big PRs.  I thought maybe we could take the team award but TNT eked out another win by just over a minute.  So close!

Did a quick cooldown, grabbed some soup in the overpacked gymnasium and then left in a hurry.  Met up with my wife and daughter and we headed to Providence for a cookie bake-off.  Ate way too many cookies and earned every one of them.  I didn't feel so great afterwards but it was worth it!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Weekly Log: 12.3.12 - 12.9.12

Monday - Smithfield, RI - 7 miles

Yoga X (45 minutes)

The top of my troubled right foot was achy again this morn.  But I didn't seem to notice it while I was doing yoga or running.  I had to get out of the Fidelity path system today - I was getting bored.  I decided to attempt to snag a few Strava segment KOMs.  Unfortunately this meant the bulk of my running was on the Douglas Pike running against morning traffic.  It was busy as I ran away from work but at least it was pretty sparse on the way back.

Both segments I went after were up big hills so I guess you could say this was a makeshift hill workout.  I snagged one of the segments but the other one was actually a bike ride mistakenly indexed as a run.  I'll have to have that amended.

Tuesday - 0 miles

P90X Chest & Back (50 minutes)
Ab Ripper X (20 minutes)

We just got the complete P90X video series so I'm going to be adding these in as cross-training on my off days.  Today was Chest & Back which is mostly push-ups and pull-ups.  I can only do a few pull-ups at a time and some of the push-up variations were equally difficult.  I was pretty weak by the end.  First time I've done Ab Ripper X after another workout and it finished me off.

Wednesday - 0 miles

P90X Plyometrics (60 minutes)

I was a little worried about this one as I know it has a tendency to wear people down with all the jumping and movement.  Thanks to my running it wasn't that bad.  It was tiring but I was well prepared cardio-wise.  Good workout.

Thursday - Charlestown, RI - 5.4 miles

It's been awhile since I've had to march out into the cold, dark morning to run and I've been thankful for that.  But this was my only chance to run today and after my last two days of P90X I'm pretty much sore all over.  I needed a break.  So out into the cold I went.  I warmed up pretty quickly and did my standard out and back to the Nordic Lodge.

Friday - Smithfield, RI - 6.2 miles

Standard run around the Fidelity paths.   Legs are pretty sore from Plyometrics two days prior.  I knew that incorporating P90X workouts into my routine would sap my energy for a while and I definitely felt it on this run.  Just felt sluggish throughout.  I plan to take it easy tomorrow and hopefully I'll do alright at the Newport 10k on Sunday.

Saturday - 0 miles

Stretch X (50 minutes)

Sunday - Christmas 10k - Newport RI - 10 miles

Separate write-up here.

Weekly mileage: 28.7 miles

Year to Date: 1,190.3 miles

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Weekly Log: 11.26.12 - 12.2.12

Monday - Smithfield, RI - 4.1 miles

Just a short run on the paths around the Fidelity campus.  I'm kind of bored with these paths but since I'm staying out of the woods and the surrounding roads were pretty busy with morning rush hour I just stuck to the local route I knew.  Next week I should have more time to run - I'd like to explore some new roads up here.

Tuesday - 0 miles

Ab Ripper X - 20 minutes
4 x 15 push-ups

Wednesday - 0 miles

X Stretch - 60 minutes.  This is the P90X stretching video.  I want to incorporate stretching/yoga sessions into my workout schedule to improve flexibility and decrease risk of injury.

Thursday - Bryant Track - Smithfield, RI - 7.4 miles

I wanted to do a ladder workout today but my inexperience with this type of speed session hindered the quality.  This workout definitely wasn't as challenging as it should have been.

Today's interval session was a 400 / 800 / 2 x 1200 / 800 / 3 x 400 (I added two 400s at the end since I wasn't taxed.)  I ran 'em at a 6:30 pace after reading that all the different distances should be run the same in order to improve pace performance.  I figured a 6:30 pace would be challenging for the 1200s but I was wrong.  I didn't find it particularly difficult to maintain that pace throughout the workout so I should have made 'em all faster.  I sped up for the last 400 and then added two more since I didn't feel like I worked that hard today.

On the plus side I'm planning on running the Newport 10k in a few weeks.  I'm looking at running around a 6:30 pace (which inspired the pace for this workout) so I feel confident I should be able to maintain that pace and then some for the race.

I just looked up my potential 10k time using the VDOT calculator and my FOP 5k time of 18:42.  It says my 10k time should be around 38:52.  That seems pretty optimistic and would mean I would be running 6:15 splits.  I probably should have used that time for my intervals instead.

Friday - Smithfield, RI - 5 miles

5 x 15 push-ups
Ab Ripper X - 20 minutes

I had a dream last night that I was running on a long rocky trail.  It was a steep downward descent and in the distance the glistening ocean awaited me.  The sun was shining and the marvels of nature were everywhere.  Then I remembered I wasn't supposed to be running on trails, turned around and woke up.

My dream run came back to me as I was running the Fidelity paths that border the vast network of dirt bike trails.  They were tempting but I stayed the course - I think my ankle is getting stronger and I mean to keep it that way.  I tried to push the pace on a steep hill segment to make up for yesterday's sad track effort.  Otherwise I just ran the same old paths I've run many a time before.

Not a particularly memorable run but a good workout day overall. 

Saturday - 0 miles

Sunday - 0 miles

I had planned on a long run today.  But the top of my foot was achy, I had to load up the fire and get it cooking and my daughter woke up earlier than usual.  All good enough excuses for me to bow out for the weekend.   I felt a little odd taking the entire weekend off from running but I think it was good to give my feet a break.

Weekly mileage: 16.6 miles


Year to date: 1,161.6 miles

Friday, November 23, 2012

Weekly Log: 11.19.12 - 11.25.12

I'm going to change up my weekly log up a bit and start mentioning any other forms of exercise that I do during the week.  I generally only run 3-4 days a week so I try to include other activities on those days I don't run.  It helps with my overall fitness and I think it makes me a better runner.

Monday - 0 miles

Tuesday - 0 miles

Ab Ripper X - 20 minutes.  My buddy lent me this video from his P90X series.  It's a 20 minute core workout which has some brutally tough moves (at least for me.)

Saw my primary care doc about my ankle.  Since I can walk and run (on even surfaces) without pain, he didn't think it was a stress fracture.  Likely my ligaments in my foot are just stretched out from rolling it so many times.  This creates a chain reaction - my loose ligaments mean I'm more likely to roll my ankle which makes them looser still.  He says that so long as I can run without pain I'm fine to keep running.  I'm going to get an X-ray done and then see a Ortho sports doc in a few weeks to get an expert opinion.

So I'm going to ease back into road runs in a few days.  But I'm staying of the woods for awhile.  In fact, let it be known that I will not run on a trail for 3+ weeks!  The trail run moratorium will last until at least Wednesday, December 12th.  I know I've made proclamations like this in the past but this time I mean it damnit!  If all goes well perhaps I'll still be able to run the Old Mountain 5k.

Wednesday - 0 miles

Thursday - 0 miles

Ab Ripper X - 20 minutes. 
30 Day Shred workout video - 20 minutes.  Man, my upper body strength is sad. 
6 miles on Amanda's bike to get some cardio in.  Sadly I really don't know the gears on a bike work and she told me afterwards that I was in the wrong gear for going up hill.  No wonder my thighs felt like I surgically grafted 2x4s into them.  I am a bicycle noob.

I then had a delicious Thanksgiving meal of delights with my wife's family in Jamestown followed by a short walk before attacking the dessert spread.

Friday - Smithfield, RI - 4.1 miles

My first run since my blunders at Li'l Rhody.  Throughout the week my right foot has felt achy at times but never painful.   Today was just a short run around the Fidelity campus.  Foot felt sore and uncomfortable for a while but otherwise okay.

Saturday - 0 miles

Did some wood choppin' late in the day.  An honest way to spend an hour as the sun sets and dusk settles in.

Sunday - Charlestown, RI - 13.2 miles

It was light out by the time I left so I didn't need to worry about a headlamp.  I wanted to keep it at an 8 minute pace but after a few miles I ended up settling into around 7:45 miles.  I felt good and didn't feel like I was working hard so I stuck with it.

This is a good loop that took me past Worden's Pond, down Ministerial and then back towards Old Coach Rd.  After seeing Jonny's recent post about a possible mountain lion sighting in DuVal trail, I went into this long run ready for combat.  I carried my pocket knife in the key storage of my running glove.  If the beast showed itself we were going to throw down.  Sadly it was a no-show.

As I proceeded back down Old Coach I saw that I was going to hit half-marathon distance and that I was closing in on my 13.1 PR.  I pushed the pace on the last mile and ended up getting a new PR (according to Garmin) of 1:42:45 - 40 seconds better than last month's effort.  I'm eyeing the March Ocean's Run 1/2 Marathon in Matunuck as an opportunity to smash my 1/2 PR.  1:35 perhaps?

No pain whatsover in my foot during or after this long run which is excellent news.  The trail moratorium continues!

Weekly mileage: 17.3 miles

Year to date: 1,145 miles

Monday, November 19, 2012

Li'l Rhody Runaround

Official time: 1:04:59.  89th place of 285.

I had been looking forward to running this race ever since I heard about it last year.  It's a shame that it's the same days as the Mews 5k, a favorite race of mine.  My Mews obligations prevented me from running it last year so this year I was looking forward to taking Rhody on.  I've put in a lot of miles this year and run a lot of trails.  I have officially joined the Westerly Track & Athletic Club and this is their signature event so I wanted to put on a good showing. 

I arrived early with plenty of time to spare and chatted with some WTAC folk.  There were lots of people and everyone had to wear orange due to hunting season.  Did a short warm-up by myself and changed into my trail shoes and shed my hats 'n gloves.  Lined up near the front of the line because one mile in the course turns to single track and if you're too far back it becomes a total logjam of people.  I felt good and was ready to run it hard. 

Unfortunately it turned into a complete shitshow.

For your entertainment, I shall break this race down mile by mile.

Mile 1 - Took off way too fast.  We're 30 seconds into the race and I'm ahead of Jonny and Jeff.  That's not right.  Eased off a bit and watched the speedy folks go by.  Balance restored.  A minute into the race my friggin' heart monitor strap slips from my chest and drops to my hips.  I try to put it back into position and tighten it - I'm sure I look like a fool messing around with it while I'm running and eventually I let it go.  Now I've got a heart rate belt.  People are going by me and I'm trying to ease off more but my Garmin still says I'm running at a 6:00 minute pace.  Too fast but I'll be running slower in the woods and I fear the logjam.  As I'm about to hit the single track I glance around at the runners moving in ahead and behind me and I roll my janky right foot.  Badly.

Mile 2 - I enter the single track to stabbing pain in my right foot.  Sweet christ that hurts!  I'm hobbling and trying to maintain my pace because there's a train of people behind me.   As I leave the single track and enter Burlingame campground the pain has subsided and my normal gait has returned.  I ease off the pace a bit more because we've got a long way to go.  People are passing me but I'm confident I'll see 'em again once we enter the woods.

Mile 3 - The initial pain of my foot is gone but stepping onto the foot bridges and on certain rocks is aggravating it.  It doesn't feel good.  I'm starting to favor my left foot and beginning to avoid landing on suspect areas with my right.  My pace is still good so far and hopefully if I can avoid turning it again I'll be able to salvage this run.

Mile 4 - I turn it again.  Not nearly as badly but enough to make me hobble for a few moments.  My pace is dropping and I'm beginning to step gingerly around the roots.  People are beginning to pass me.  There goes Jeff's kid.  At the water stop I actually stop for a moment and let some people go by me.

Mile 5 - The trail intermission on Buckeye Brook Rd allows me to pick up the pace a bit and settle into a more consistent rhythm.  For the last time I think that I may be able to pull myself together and finish this race strong.  Once I reenter the woods, the terrain begins to finish me off.  I try to stay with the group in front of me but the terrain is too rocky, too rooty and I ease off to avoid turning my foot again.

Mile 6 - The uphill section before you cross the dirt road to North Camp is where the wheels finally come off the wagon.  I've now got a visible limp as I run and people are passing me left and right.  Well, just left as I'm stepping to the side and letting them go by.  I probably should just stop at this point but how would I get back?  Might as well soldier on as best I can.  I walk a bit then run.  Walk then run.

Mile 7 - This is just misery now.  My foot hurts.  People are passing me in waves.  I step aside, let 'em pass and then continue with my hobble-jog until the next batch approaches.  I knew from last weekend's recon that this last section of trail would be the most challenging for me.  But now it seeks to undo me completely.  I'm stepping over these rocks with extreme care.  People appear to me to be flying over these death rocks without fear and I secretly loathe them.  When I finally see the house at Cool Spring Rd I know this hell will soon be over.

Mile 8 - The last mile of this loop is on paved road and I've never been more thankful for it.  The pain of my foot eases as soon as I hit the road and while I could probably push the pace I don't have it in me.  Mentally, I'm toast.  I run along at a 7:30 pace.  A few more people pass me but whatever.  I'm happy to see my wife and daughter as I cross the finish line.  I limp over to them afterwards and regale them with my tale of woe.

So in the end my right foot was my undoing.  I've weakened it over the past few months by continuing to run in the woods, subjecting it to pain and stress.  I haven't given it a chance to heal properly and today I paid the piper.  Oh, it was a large bill!

I go to the doctor on Tuesday for my yearly physical and mean to find out just what is wrong with my foot and how bad the damage is.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Running Log: 11.11.12 - 11.18.12

Monday - Smithfield, RI - 7.1 miles

The rest of the family was off for Veteran's Day but poor Seth had to work.  At least I got to head up early and get a longish run in.  There were a couple of hilly segments I had a desire to capture but otherwise I just wanted to run.  I discovered a new little park called the Mowry Conservation Area.  There's a beautiful stream that runs through the entrance to this park.  It held a couple short trails through a pine forest.  I left the marked trails to explore some ATV trails but they seemed to all lead to houses so I opted to just finish the marked route. 

Then it was segment time.  Both the segments featured major hills.  The first was steeper but the second one was longer.  I really pushed the pace on both of 'em and felt the exhaustion when I got to the top.  I felt confident that I snagged both of them and it was confirmed when I got home.  Overall this was a great run and the hills were a tough, satisfying workout.  The only negative was the amount of time I spent on the Douglas Pike running against morning traffic.

Thursday - Bryant Track - 6 miles

I decided to do 8 x 400 today which I stole from Jonny's blog which he stole from Mike G's blog.  Circle of life.  200 m cooldown between each one.  It was cold out there and windy at times but once the 400s started I warmed up.  2 mile warm-up and maybe 1.5 mile cooldown.  The last couple 400s were tough but I felt great when they were all done.

Friday - Smithfield, RI - 6.9 miles

This is a fun loop I've done before.  From the Fidelity parking lot, I headed into the woods and took the well worn trail parallel to Hanton City Rd until it reaches Rocky Hill Rd.  Some sections of the trail are pretty rocky so I tread carefully - I wanted to avoid any more snafus with the ankle before Sunday's race.  I ran the entire length of Rocky Hill Rd, which is a quiet road with some nice houses.  Then I take the Providence and Douglas Pike back to Fidelity.  It was a little later in the morning so traffic wasn't as bad.  I tried to keep the pace slow but I'm finding that my easy pace on shortish runs is in the 7s which is promising.

Looking forward to Li'l Rhody Runaround on Sunday!

Sunday - Li'l Rhody, Runaround - Charlestown, RI - 9.6 miles 

This did not go well.  Seperate write-up.

Weekly mileage: 29.7 miles

Year to date: 1127.7 miles

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Running Log: 11.5.12 - 11.11.12

Monday - Charlestown, RI - 6.5 miles

Okay, so my running hiatus only lasted four days.  And my right foot still hurts if I put pressure on the outside of it.  But actually running on it doesn't hurt so I got back to it.

I had the day off from work so I did some painting in the house.  I got a late afternoon run in before the sun went down (damn you DST!)  Took Old Coach Road to the Narragansett Trail.  The pine tree damage in this area from Sandy is pretty crazy.  The trees just seemed to have shattered.  The trail had lots of small debris on it but nothing major save for one big tree I had to duck under.  From there I took the dirt road up to Route 2.

Once on Route 2 I began to pick up the pace.  I think my body was feeling the reserves after four days off.  A quick 6.5 run to start off the week.

Thursday - Slushy Fidelity Paths - Smithfield, RI - 4.4 miles

Got a short run in before work on this cold, windy morning.  The nor'easter was still blowing through Rhode Island but I wanted to get out there for a bit.  Not too much rain but it sure was windy at times.  The paths around the Fidelity buildings were clear but as I ventured farther away from the grounds they became pretty slushy.  I had my trail shoes on and was enjoying plodding through the deeper parts.  I'm glad I had my hat and gloves but I probably overdressed by wearing both a windbreaker and track pants.

Friday - Bryant Track and Trails - Smithfield, RI - 6.3 miles

I was planning on a track workout yesterday but with the weather I opted to push it until today.  I meant to do 1 x 1200 / 3 x 800 / 5 x 400.  I did the 1200 & 800s at about a 6:15 pace.  I had donated blood yesterday and they warn you not to do anything strenuous for 24 hours.  This run was about 17 hours after I donated and I definitely felt the effects - I was pretty spent after the 2nd 800.  I managed to get through the third 800 but I was exhausted and opted to forgo the 400s and just take it easy for the rest of the workout.  I ran the old cross country trail behind Bryant and even that I found taxing at points.  In retrospect I probably should have taken it easy today.

Once at work I diligently went about filling myself with foodstuffs to replenish my weakened body.

Saturday - Black Farm - Hopkinton, RI - 4.2 miles

I had an hour to kill while my daughter was at dance practice so I decided to drive 3 minutes down the road and check out Black Farm Management Area, provided the place wasn't infested with hunters.  No cars in the lot when I got there so I headed out.

Lots of pine trees and lots of roots poking out of the trail.  Luckily it's easier to see the roots when covered by pine needles rather than leaves.  As you can imagine there was lots of pine brush on the trails from Sandy but I only saw one major tree in the path.  I passed a quaint pond apply titled Plain Pond and then hit the abandoned railway line with offered a straight shot in either direction.  I took it north until it seemed to approach a neighborhood and then turned around and took it south until it ended at Wood River.  I had to stop at the remnants of the train bridge because all that's left is the cement.  The bridge itself is long gone.

I took a different trail back to Plain Pond - on the way I stopped at a small cemetery.  Many of the tombstones were difficult to make out but one had clearly been maintained well.  It belonged to a 16 year old boy who was aboard the U.S. Eastport in 1863 (I think.)  I always appreciate it when people put flags at the graves of long dead veterans and it was touching to see the care someone paid this young sailor.

Sunday - Burlingame - Charlestown, RI - 9.2 miles

With L'il Rhody Runaround next weekend I wanted to get one more run here to get a final feel for the course and survey the damage from Sandy.  From the get-go, Sanctuary Rd showed plenty of damage and the short trail section between Sanctuary and the campground confirmed that much work had been done to make it passable.

Once I was past the camp and the Vin Gormley began in earnest I saw that the damage continued to be significant.  Plenty of big trees down and much had clearly been done to remove the biggest mamma-jammas from the path.  This area with the many bridges is pretty swampy so it would have been tough to go around them.

As the trail heads to higher and dryer ground, there are several large trees that will need to be conquered.  Some can be jumped over.  Others already have new substitute trails skirting them.  These rockier sections of the trail present other problems for me - the thick covering of fat leaves hides dangerous rocks.  With my shifty right ankle, I need to tread carefully on these passages.  One wrong step next weekend and profanity will be pouring from my mouth, offending man and beast alike.

A big thank you to Jeff Walker, the two Mikes and all the other people from WTAC or otherwise that have been out there working to make this trail passable.  Your hard work is appreciated!

Weekly Mileage - 30.7 miles

Year to Date - 1098 miles

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Running Log - 10.30.12 - 11.4.12

Tuesday - Smithfield, RI - 6.3 miles

Sandy came and went on Monday, knocking down smaller branches and leaving us without power since about 3PM on Monday but otherwise no worse for wear.  My wife is a fearsome planner and we were well situated to ride out the storm and the post-storm blackout.

The girls were all staying home again today but I was heading to the office so I opted to leave early and get a run in on the paths around Fidelity before work.  Big tree down on one section that I had to jump over and lots of wet leaves on the paths but otherwise no major debri. is hosting a 50 mile challenge this week.  This would be more than I've ever run in a week but I'm going to try to get it done.  I hope to hit the weekend with only 20 miles to go in order to make it doable.  We shall see.

Wednesday - Charlestown, RI - 6.2 miles

Still no power in Charlestown.  The entire town in out.  Getting up at 4:40 AM was easy thanks to a bright-ass moon and my cat jumping on me.   My headlamp has gotten more use indoors than out lately. 

The temperature was in the 50s and quite pleasant to run in.  Pretty quiet out there save for the occassional generator running.  I just took it easy and ran the local steets, checking out some of the downed trees.  Nothing major.  Saw power company guys working on a pole near the dump.  Maybe we'll have power when we get home tonight.  I'm not hopeful though.  My right foot was feeling sore through the second half of the run - hopefully it's nothing major.

Thursday- No Mo Runnin' For a Bit

Came home from dinner with friends last night to find that we finally had power restored.  Huzzah!  However my right foot was feeling a little "off" after yesterday's run.  I could feel a dull soreness running through it most of yesterday and again this morning when I woke up.  I've made the decision to take a break from running at least through the weekend.  Perhaps longer if needed.   It's still a few weeks until Lil Rhody and I want to let my feet heal up so I can make a good attempt at it.  It's a bummer but I know it's the right thing to do.

Weekly Mileage - 12.5 miles

Year to Date - 1067.2

Monday, October 29, 2012

Charlestown FOP 5k - Sunday, October 28, 2012

Official Time: 18:42.  8th of 98.  2nd in Age Group.

I was looking forward to this local race.  It's held at Ninigret Park which was an airforce base many years ago.  It's completely flat and would be a fast course.  It was windy with the approach of Hurricane Sandy but it didn't prove to be a problem.  My last 5k had been a few months ago at Bryant on a true cross country course.  I ran a PR of 20:41 in that race - my hope was to come close to breaking 20 minutes in this one.  I thought this was definitely doable with all the track work I had been doing.

My wife Amanda and I arrived with plenty of time to spare (this was her second race and the first we've run together.)  Saw a bunch of the WTAC guys and then I ran a couple mile warm-up on some of the Ninigret trails.  Yes, I know I've made a No Trails Pact but these were as benign as trails get.  I was starting to get paranoid as to where the trail would come out and opted to double back to make sure I was back in time.  Found my wife and all our family who came to cheer us on and then it was time to race.

I had run the race two years ago where it featured two laps of the bike track.  They've since changed it and now it begins/ends near the Frosty Drew observation hut.  I prefer this setup as it now heads down to the nature walk parking area and only does one lap on the track instead of two.  As soon as the race started I knew I was going too fast.  I tried to ease off a bit and at about 1/2 mile I was running a 6 minute mile.  I thought this was still too fast and I was worried I wouldn't be able to keep it up but I wasn't feeling that overworked so I just stuck with it. 

I picked off a few guys over the next mile but since I was took off fast there weren't a lot of guys ahead of me to overtake.  At mile 2 I looked at my watch: about a 6:20 pace which is right where I wanted to be.  I focused on a TNT runner ahead of me and stayed behind him for most of mile 3, passing him will only a few corners to go.  Family and friends had congregated around the entrance/exit to the bike track and their cheers were welcome. 

As I approached the finish I thought the timer said 19:xx but then I realized it was at 18:xx.  I couldn't believe it - I had thought a sub-20 time was doable but I was crossing the finish line with a sub-19 finish!  Amanda finished strong and broke 30 minutes which was her goal.  She ran a great race!

Local WTAC speedsters Justin Bentley, Jonny Hammett and Jeff Walker took 2nd, 3rd & 4th place.  And because they didn't double up the Overall and Age Group winners, I ended up getting a medal for 2nd in the Open Age Group.  I was very excited as I had never placed in my age group before.  This race was a great confidence boost confirming that all my training has paid off.  Now to prepare for the Lil Rhody Runaround!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Running Log - 10.22.12 - 10.28.12

Monday - Smithfield, RI - 7.1 miles

I am a stupid, stupid man.

Reader, please note how I concluded my write-up of last Friday's run: "I should stay out of the wet woods for a while and let my ankle heal up but it's hard not to take advantage of these fall mornings."

Sound advice.  No need to stop running of course.  Roads are fine.  I just ran 17 miles yesterday and only aggravated the ankle when I traversed the one rocky section of beach.  No, no, roads are fine.  Just stay off the trails for a few days.  And indeed I had planned on keeping to the roads this morning.  But it was a beautiful day.  And the forest sings a sweet siren song.

So it was that I found myself lacing up my Brooks Cascadias and donning my orange hat and vest as I ventured into the Fidelity woods.   I first went and explored the ATV trail that I ran last week.  I wanted to see how far it went.  Answer: not far.  After it passed the water tower on Rocky Hill Rd, it immediately became overgrown and then ended after a few hundred feet.  There was a single track trail that branched off (also overgrown) which I took but it also quickly led to Rocky Hill.

I then jumped on Hanton City Rd to explore some of the trails to the south.  I found an interesting old dirt road now rocky and overgrown.  It went downhill for a while until I hit some No Trespassing signs.  I think I was near a small house on Washington Blvd.  I turned around and made my way back up the hilly trail which was a good workout.

I still had plenty of time before I had to head into work to shower so I made the fateful decision to try to reclaim my Tricksy Singletrack segment which had been taken from me on Friday.  The culprit was a fellow Fidelity employee who bested my time in the rain and dark.  I salute him!  But I wanted to relaim my prize.  So I hit Tricksy and began moving at a good clip.  I didn't look at my pace - I was focused on watching where my feet landed.  Nevertheless after maybe 4/5 of a mile I hit a downhill section and my bad ankle twisted down and inward.  I swore loudly in my fashion and tried to continue to run but my run became a hobble and my hobble soon became me clutching a tree as profanity poured from my mouth in exceptional fashion.

I walked for a bit.  Tried a half-assed jog.  Rolled my ankle a little bit more.  Cursed.  Walked.  Jogged a bit more.  Cursed.  Eventually I reached civilization and was able to jog the rest of the way back to my car.  It hurt.  I've turned this friggin' ankle pretty frequently for the last few weeks but this one felt worse than the other times.

I walked into work very upset with myself.  I had no business being out there, pushing the pace on technical trails covered in leaves.  Chasing an imaginary record that I had created in the first place.  Yesterday I used the Wordens Pond segment to find a reserve of energy I wasn't sure I had.  But that was on roads where the danger was minimal.  Hopefully I've learned my lesson.  I plan on keeping to roads for a couple of weeks.  I want my ankle to heal up so that I can be ready for the Lil Rhody Runaround next month.

Thursday- Bryant University Track - Smithfield, RI - 8.9 miles

That's more like it.

After the disasterous finish to Monday's run, I was anxious to see if it would affect the track workout I had planned for today.  While my right foot is still sore at times and hurts if I turn it in certain ways, I was happy to find that there was no pain when running on road or track.  I plan to keep to my word and stay off the trails for a couple weeks to let my ankle strengthen.

I ran a mile warm-up and once again entertained the girl's field hockey team with my huffing and wheezing.  4 x 800m with 400m cooldowns between.  I tried to maintain an honest 5k pace of 6:30.  I think for the most part I stayed on pace although at times I was a little fast or slow.  Then 5 x 400m at about a 5:50 pace with 200m cooldowns.  I have no idea how hard I'm supposed to be running these but it seemed like a good speed that left me walking for a moment after the last couple.  I need to start mixing up some other distances into these speed workouts.  Any suggestions?

I took to the local roads for a few miles to cooldown afterwards.  Tried to take a local segment on Roger Farm Rd which proved to have a monster hill.  I was completely spent when I got to the top.  I think I took it but won't know for certain until I load up the run later tonight.

Overall a great run.  I'm looking forward to the Charlestown Police 5k at Ninigret on Sunday.  I definitely think I'll be able to set a PR on the fast, flat course.

Friday- Bike Path - Wakefield, RI - 14.7 miles

I had the day off and opted to do my long run today since I probably wouldn't be running long with a 5k on Sunday.  I've never actually run the bike path in Wakefield so I thought it would be a different and easy run.  I parked at the Narragansett wall and took the bike path to Ministerial Road and back.

I was tempted to explore the trails I passed at the Tri-Pond area (I recognized them having been mentioned in other blogs) but I stuck to my No Trails Pact and continued down the bike path.  As I approached Ministerial I saw more enticing trails that headed off to who knows where.  So tempting!  At the halfway mark the blister on my pinky was starting to aggravate me but I tuned it out after a while. 

The run began to drag on the way back.  This trip probably would have benefited from taking a different route back but it would have made it longer than I wanted.  I began to feel tired after 10 miles or so.  I think I was feeling the effects of the previous day's longish run.

Sunday- Charlestown FOP 5k - Charlestown, RI - 5.9 miles 

Warm-up run and the 5k.  Separate write-up to follow.

Weekly mileage: 36.5 miles

Year to date: 1054.7 miles

Friday, October 19, 2012

Running Log - 10.15.12 - 10.21.12

Tuesday - Tempo Run - Charlestown, RI - 5.5 miles

Pitch black 5 AM run down Old Coach Rd.  Rain wasn't falling anymore but it was drip drip drippin' from the trees.  Wore my thermal top and beanie which proved to be too much as I was overheating by the halfway mark.  Tried to hit the first mile in the 8s, second in the 7s and then run the rest of Old Coach to Biscuit City Rd at a fast clip.  I'm happy with the paces I hit. 

Thursday - Bryant Track - 7 miles

Pulled up to the Bryant University track and saw the girls field hockey team practicing at the track.  Luckily they were grouped in the middle of the field and I wouldn't be bothering them (unless you count my huffing and wheezing as I ran by 'em.)

Warmed up for a mile running the grounds past the football and baseball fields.  Ran 5 x 800 m with 400 m cooldowns.  I wanted to run these at 5k race speed but I think most of 'em were at a 6:15 pace which is definitely faster than 5k speed.  Oh well.  Then I ran 4 x 400 m with 200 m cooldowns.  These wore me out and I would have to walk for a few paces after I completed each one.  The pace for these was 5:30 maybe?  Not too sure - my watch wasn't set up for intervals so I would just glance occasionally at the "current pace" display as I ran.  At any rate it felt like a good hard workout and that's what matters.

Friday - Fidelity Trails - 4.8 miles

This was a short trail run down a path I had only run once before.  I took the wide trail that runs parallel to Hanton City Rd and then ran down an ATV trail that clearly gets a lot of use.  Nice and wide but I still managed to roll my bad right ankle on it - it hurt for a moment but I was able to keep running.  The ATV trail eventually leads behind a giant water tank on Rocky Hill Rd.  The ATV trail actually kept going to the north but since I had no idea where it would lead I left that for another day.

A backtracked a few 100 yards to a single track dirt bike trail I had run before.  Much more rocky and technical than the previous trail.  And the leaves on the ground made locating the correct route difficult at points.  It leads back to familiar trails and then I jumped on Hanton City "Rd."  It's actually a wide open dirt roadish trail with lots of hills - it has the feel of running under power lines (there's a gas line along this trail.)  This was fun running until I rolled my bum ankle again on a downhill section.  This time was more painful and I took it easy running the rest of the way back to my car.

I should stay out of the wet woods for a while and let my ankle heal up but it's hard not to take advantage of these fall mornings.

Sunday - Beach & Roads - Charlestown, RI - 16.8 miles

Last weekend I opted to head west and run the hillier roads near Burlingame.  This weekend I decided to hit the beach.  Left at 6 AM with my headlamp - beautiful stars overhead.  By the time I reached the Charlestown Town Beach the sky was beginning to grow light.  I hadn't considered the tide when planning this route but it cooperated and there was plenty of packed damp sand for me to run on.

I ran four miles on the beach from the Charlestown town beach to the South Kingstown town beach.  Only at Green Hill did I have to jump on the road for a moment as the tide was up to the rocks at the parking lot.  On the far side of Green Hill I was ambushed by a sea of smooth round stones.  They came in all sizes, were tough to run on and really challenged my weak right ankle.  Eventually they petered out and the rest of my beach run was smooth and without incident.  Beautiful sky over Point Judith as I left the sand.

Unfortunately as I turned onto Matunuck Beach Road I began to experience some internal strife.  All the crap I had eaten over the weekend was coming back to haunt me.  The next few miles were unpleasant.  I will spare you the details but let me say this: they are doing construction on the Tuckertown fire station and the port-o-let there was a welcome sight.

Renewed, I turned onto Wordens Pond Rd.  I had created a segment for this road a while ago but I rarely run it as it's kind of out of the way.  Today, I was feeling good and wanted to set a new CR on it.  I began increasing my pace and when I hit the big hill before Camp Jori I ran even faster.  I was moving at a good clip by the time I reached Shannock and really pleased that I was able to find another gear after having run 11.5 miles.  I feel like I'm at a really great place with my running right now.

Weekly Mileage - 34.2 miles

Year to Date - 1018.1 miles

Monday, October 8, 2012

Running Log - 10.8.12 - 10.14.12

Monday - Smithfield, RI - 5.1 miles

While I've run plenty before work, it's usually done near my house, on roads, in the dark.  Blech.  I had to work today but the rest of the family had the day off so I decided to head into work early and run some of the single track trails.

I was very happy with my decision as it was beautiful in the woods with the sun shining through the glistening leaves.  The chill of the morning froze my hands for the first mile but they warmed up soon enough.  I decided to run a cool dirt bike trail in reverse.  The riders were clever enough to spray paint orange dots on the trees - but only in one direction.  As a result there were a few tricky spots were I had to stop and really look for the trail.  All the fresh leaves on the ground made it difficult at points.  One cool thing about going in reverse was that I discovered an old stone cellar, long abandoned.  I had never seen it before.  It's amazing to look at the maps of these trails after I run them.  They twist and turn so much it seems like I should be miles into the woods when in actuality I'm never very far from where I started.

This trail led to a 4 way trail intersection.  I opted to run the Tricksy Fidelity Singletrack section in reverse but about a minute into this trail I rolled my right ankle pretty badly on a downhill rock.  The slippery morning conditions finally got me.  I took my shoe off and massaged my foot and after a few minutes and a couple tender steps I was able to run and head back to my car. 

Not long after the ankle incident my Garmin screen froze and said it was a low battery.  This is crap as it was fully charged after yesterday's run.  I remembered a trick I read online - when you get the low battery message just leave it be.   There's usually still a half hour of juice in it.  But if you click a button to confirm it will shut off and not turn back on.  Sure enough, I was able to finish the run with it on.   Whether it actually recorded the whole run will have to wait until I get home tonight.

It's a few hours later and the ankle is still pretty sore but after rolling them a couple times this year I'm pretty confident that with some ice and elevation it shouldn't keep me off the road for long.

Thursday - Bryant Track - 6.7 miles

My ankle swelled up a bit on Tuesday and was quite tender.  It still hurts if you bend it certain ways but walking on it is fine so I figured today was a good day to get back out there and do some speed work.

I got an early start on the day and was able to run at the Bryant Track before work.  Normally my morning runs are in the cold dark hours of the day so running in the sunlight was welcome.  Hopefully I can do this more often.

I ran a mile warm up on the track and then did 4 x 800m with 400m cooldowns between followed by 4 x 400m with 200m cooldowns.  I was worn out by the end.  I ran the Bryant Collegiate 5k course backwards as a cooldown.  Ankle felt fine throughout.  And doing speedwork on the track was much better than trying to do it on roads where I would be constantly checking my watch to verify distances.  A great workout.

Friday - Fidelity Trails - 4.7 miles

A short jaunt in the woods.  I wanted to run a trail I've only run once before.  It's off of DeCotis Farm Rd and after a short while intersects with the Hanton City Rd.  Well, Google calls it a road and while there are patches of asphalt for the most part it is now dirt and rocks.  Anywho, once I was on the trail I must have taken a wrong turn as I never hit Hanton City.  Instead the trail kept winding this way and that and eventually deposited me further down DeCotis Farm Rd.   So not quite where I meant to go but a fun trail nonetheless.

Sunday - Charlestown, RI - 15.5 miles

I was looking forward to getting in a fairly long early morning run.  I took off just after 6 AM and needed my headlamp for the first 45 minutes or so.  Extremely windy when I started out but no sign of rain.

After focusing on long trail runs for NipMuck, I wanted to mostly run the local roads.  I intended to head over to King's Factory and decided to take Indian School House Rd to an unnamed dirt road that connects to King's.  I was moving well from the get-go and once I got on King's the fast pace continued.  I felt great on miles 6-8 and was still moving at a sub-8 minute pace.  I started to do the calculations in my head and realized I could probably set a great new 1/2 marathon PR.  The only issue was that I was planning to run the powerline trail next to the Carter Preserve in order to get to Old Mill Rd and it's pretty sandy/hilly.

Just before the powerlines I popped my Gu Roctane gel (I received it in a swag bag for a Strava challenge.  Was this the secret to the day's run?)  I didn't really slow down much on the trail despite its hills and once I hit the pavement I continued to push the pace.  I've been running on trails so much lately that I haven't had a chance to really settle into a fast long-range run pace in a while and was really surprised how easy it came. 

Miles 11-13 were even better with splits in the low 7s.  I was moving faster than ever and it didn't even feel like work.  I made a point not to look at my watch after mile 12 and instead just focus on keeping the pace.   By the time I was back on Old Coach I finally looked at my watch and knew that I had just destroyed my previous 1/2 PR and was looking at a new one of about 1:43.   I tried to slow it down after mile 13 but my body wasn't having it.  Finally at mile 14 my legs started to realize what I had been putting them through and fatigue suddenly set in.   I slowed as I made my way up my driveway but psyched that I was able to run 15 miles at a sub 8 min pace.  All this running has paid off!

Weekly Mileage - 32 miles

Year to Date - 984 miles

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Running Log - 10.1.12-10.7.12

Tuesday - Big River Management Area - West Greenwich, RI - 5.4 miles

I was looking forward to getting in an afternoon run at Big River to break in the legs after Sunday's epic run.  I didn't realize it was raining until I opened the door.  But it didn't seem to be coming down that hard and it wasn't too cold so I stuck to my plan.

I parked on Hopkins Hill Rd and took the BR Expressway trail in order to try to find the "scenic outlook" which I've heard about.  In the end I didn't seem to get much of anywhere and the trails kept leading to that quarry.  There were some "No Trespassing" signs so I opted to head back before I got lost and ran into trouble.

I decided to just do part of the loop I had done the last time I was here.  I jumped on the Sawmill Trail and took that down to the old piles of scrap wood.  I like this trail as it's wide and you can move pretty fast on it.  Sawmill trail turns north and I stayed on it until it met the BR Expressway trail, which I took all the way back to my car.

Still a bit sore from the marathon but overall not in too bad a shape.  When I left my car there was only one truck in the lot but when I returned there were four additional vehicles.  I guess I wasn't the only one interested in exploring Big River, rain be damned!

Friday - Road & Trails - Smithfield, RI - 7.6 miles

 Decided to run after work and try to capture a few segments in the area.  I do a lot of running up here - I need to defend my territory!  I pushed it up the Technology Way Climb and then headed into the woods.  The dirt bike trails behind Fidelity really are a lot of fun to explore.  I'm finally starting to get a handle on where the various trails go.  It was starting to get dark making the trails a bit hard to see but the real challenge was all the fallen yellow leaves that layered the trails.  Not only did it make it tough to see various obstacles but at certain points it was even tough to see where the trail went.

I took the trails out behind the North Smithfield Elementary.  I decided to bail on the trail at this point before it got too dark.  I gave the kids at soccer practice a wide berth so I didn't freak anyone out and headed for Douglas Pike to try to grab another segment.  This one was a pretty steep climb but I pushed the pace and felt pretty good at the top of the hill.  Glad I brought my headlamp as it was pretty dark by the time I got back to my car.

Saturday - Charlestown roads - 13.8 miles

There's a trail on Route 2 that I drive by every morning just past the railroad overpass.  I've always wondered where it went so I decided to use this long run to find out.  Started off on Old Coach Rd and saw a new R over the front of the new Rathskellar.  Looking forward to when they finally finish the place.  I ran over to Biscuit City Rd, as much for its awesome road name as anything else.

I took Route 2 up to the mystery trail which turned out to be pretty wide ATV trails.  Ran into a bowhunter who was friendly enough.  Guess it's time to throw on the orange vest when I go running.  The trail ended up coming out next to the horse/turf farm nearby.  It looked like it was heading behind the houses on Route 2 so I looped around and followed the trail back.  Passed Mr. Bowhunter again and jumped back on Route 2.

Ran down Lewiston Rd which I had never been on before.  What a lovely little country road.  Beautiful houses and farms with donkeys and llamas.  I wasn't sure where I came out until I realized it was Kenyon Industries.  Took Route 2 down to the dirt Pasquiset Path in order to take the Narragansett Trail back to Old Coach.  This is a fun little trail - it has high shrubs on both sides but the trail itself is smooth and free of obstacles.

Back near my house I could smell woodsmoke.  Fall is in full swing!

Weekly mileage - 26.8 

Year to date - 951.9

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

NipMuck Trail Marathon - September 30, 2012

Official time: 4:12:09.  Place: 13/118.

I was really looking forward to this race and testing my mettle in a trail marathon.  They said to add an hour to your road marathon time so I planned on running a five hour race but I was hopeful I could finish in 4:45.

The race is two out-and-backs which is cool because you see the lead runners coming back and then as you head back you see those still heading out.  Everyone's very supportive and it makes for great motivation.  The first leg is 6.2 miles to the south and then 7 miles to the north.  Aid stations at each turn around as well as the start where you can also leave yourself a dropbag.

Once the race started I settled into about 9 minute miles.  Faster than I had planned but I felt good and decided to just go with it.  Early on I decided to walk most of the steeper hills.  I didn't seem to lose much ground with those in front of me so I think it was a wise decision.  After I headed back on the southern leg I passed a runner who said I was in 23rd place which made me feel good.  The runners had spread out at this point so I felt confident that if I could maintain my pace I'd be able to finish in the top 30.

The northern leg started well.  I hung with another runner for a bit and we chitchatted on the only road section of the race.  Eventually I moved on from him and passed a few more runners as the terrain became much more hilly.  Even walking up these hills was work and I was started to feel the fatigue. 

The northern legs ends with a descent down a steep staircase to the northern aid station.  I walked back up the stairs and then walked up more steep hills which started to wear me down.  I was really getting tired now but seeing all the people still heading out towards the stairs and hills helped push me to keep moving.  That same friendly runner told me that now I was in 13th place.  I knew I had the chance to finish well under my goal of 4:45.

But the last few miles were rough.  I was walking more and more hills and I had begun to get cramps in my calves and thighs.  I also begun seeing spots occasionally.  I had been drinking pretty steadily from my handheld and I took gels every 45 minutes but I guess I needed more water. 

The last mile was a grind.  Any slight incline caused me to walk.  At the top of each I had to throw myself forward to start jogging again.  I thought the show would never end and I was sure I was going to be passed.  But no runner ever appeared behind me and finally the uphills ended and I was able to run down to the finish.

I won a winter beanie as a random prize based on place which was cool.  Ate a few bowls of veggie chili and talked with Jeff "Gazelle" Walker (who finished 5th) while we waited for fellow RI runner Mike C to finish.

Even though the last few miles were not fun I was really happy with my time, place and performance.   I ran a 3:56 in Providence back in May and now I know can probably destroy that time with proper training.  I think all the trail miles I've put in the past few months really paid off for NipMuck.  A great race!


Alright, I s'pose it's blog time.  This site'll be primarily for detailing my running adventures but I'll probably wax poetic on other topics from time to time.