Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 Year in Review

Another year gone. Craziness! Looking back at last year's review, I had laid out several goals, and accomplished most of them one way or another.  While I didn't tackle the Providence marathon again, I smashed my times at all distances.  I had wanted to run a 1:35 half marathon this year and ended up with a 1:24!  I didn't end up wearing the Vibrams that much but I did transition to more minimal footwear for a good portion of my runs on both road and trail.  I'm pleased with the results.

This year was yet another big jump in mileage.  I had an unofficial goal of hitting 30 miles every week and I was successful 85% of the time!  From 1265 miles in 2012 to 1800 in 2013!  I don't see myself stretching out into Hammett territory any time soon and I think we'll be seeing my mileage output peak in the near future due to commitments and time/desire to run.  However I'm very happy that I was able add 500 miles each of the last two years (especially since I was able to do it staying mostly injury-free this year.)

This year also marked my first foray into the world of ultramarathons.  The TARC 50k Spring Classic didn't go as well as I would have liked (went out way too fast, no doubt about it) but I still finished in under 5 hours and didn't feel completely beat up by the experience.  Eating a mountain of chinese food the night before probably didn't help either.

Towards the end of 2012 I began to incorporate some P90X routines into my workouts and I kept it up through 2013 (back issues after our backpacking trip in October put the kibosh on P90X through the fall but but December has seen the return of Tony Horton in my basement.)  As you can see from the following color coded spreadsheet, I switched up the workouts but was always doing something.

I really liked mixing my running with the P90X.  I often only ran four days a week this year but I made big improvements at every distance.  Certainly the cumulative miles is the #1 reason but I don't discount the benefit of these workouts, especially for the longer trail events.

I would also be remiss if I didn't mention the incredible work that my wife Amanda did this year.  Three triathlons, several 5ks and an 8 mile trail race.  She has a full list of challenges she's planning for 2014 and I can't wait to see her in action!

And now, my top five running accomplishments of 2013:

The fourth race of the South County 4th Season Trail series, it was originally planned as a 10 miler through the Burlingame campgrounds.  By all rights it should have been cancelled by the blizzard that hit us two days prior.  However RD Mike Galoob was crazy enough to hold it anyway and about 18 of us were crazy enough to run it.  The resulting race was shortened to five miles and became a brutal slog through snow that was knee deep in places.  As exhausting as it was, it was awesome running through a pristine winter wonderland.  I ended up finishing 4th out of 9 who completed the full 5 mile race - almost catching Jonny at the very end.  A completely unique event that probably won't be duplicated in southern Rhode Island any time soon and that's why it made the list.

Not my fastest 10k of the year but I'm really proud of this race because I finished 8th out of 542.  I'm especially happy with the push I mustered over the last 1/2 mile which was uphill and brutal.  This is one of the more unique races I ran this year- racing over the Jamestown Bridge was a tough but fun experience.

This was another mid-distance race where I really surprised myself.  After not doing stellar in 2012, I didn't have much interest in returning to the madness that is the Blessing of the Fleet.  Yet the allure of this race is strong and somehow I decided to register again.  It proved to be a smart move.  I ran very even splits and finished in under 64 minutes, good enough for 79th place in a competitive field.  Special thanks to Ben Folsom for passing me at Mile 6 and pulling me along the rest of the way.

2: Half Marathon Mayhem

I ran three great races at what I think has become my favorite distance. Long enough to feel suitably epic but short enough to warrant little recovery time, I think the half marathon plays to my strengths and gives me a chance to make moves. At the Ocean's Run 1/2 back in March I improved my PR from 1:53 to 1:25. This was a huge confidence boost and showed me what I was capable of. A month later, the Big River 1/2 trail marathon proved a different sort of challenge. Running alone on the twisty singletrack wore everyone out and many people lost their way as a result. I managed to stay the course and finished 9th overall. Then as summer came to an end, I set a new PR of 1:24 at the Surftown 1/2 in Westerly. This was a big race and I was really happy to place 2nd in my age group. I was also really pleased with the push I had on a hill with a few miles to go as it gave me some distance over my competitors.
I returned to the NipMuck in the hopes of running a sub-four hour race. I ended up surpassing all my expectations and finishing third in 3:42:52, despite the rainy conditions (or because of them?)  I was in third place for most of the race and spent much of the race alone, putting a good amount of distance over my competitors.  What really stands out is just how good I felt throughout - there was no running on fumes like at TARC or the previous Nipmuck.  I was completely in the zone and was able to keep my pace up all the way through to the finish.  This was easily my best race of the year.

Looking forward to 2014, I've a couple challenges in mind:
  • While I'm not 100% sold on the idea yet, I'm looking at tackling another road marathon in the spring.  Most likely it will be the Providence marathon again.  I've now run three trail marathons to my one road and while the idea of 26.2 miles of pavement doesn't exactly fill me with joy, I do want to see what I'm capable of.  I feel that with proper training, a sub three hour race can be mine.
  • I want to attempt another ultramarathon, likely in the fall.  I've got a comped entry into 2014 NipMuck so I'm thinking I'll use that as a long training run for a 50k in late October/November.  Of course, after seeing Crutchley and his massive cahones sign up for the Cayuga 50, it makes me wonder about...other races.
  • I guess a mileage goal of 2000 miles is an appropriate benchmark.
  •  Of course I'd also like to improve my PR at other distances though at the moment no particular numbers come to mind.  Save one.

As always, thanks to everyone who has read my blog over the last year.  I've enjoyed writing about my adventures and documenting my various hobbies and I hope you all found it interesting.  Thanks to all my WTAC cohorts for some great group runs this year.  I'm looking forward to another great year of running and racing in 2014!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Weekly Log: 12.23.13 - 12.29.13

Merry friggin' Christmas!  I'll be stuck in the office all week (save Wednesday) but with Amanda and the kids off I should be able to extend some of my weekly morning runs and make my work week less awful.

Monday - Powder Mills Refuge, Smithfield, RI - 7.3 miles

Hadn't run here in a while so I thought I'd check it out now that the snow has melted.  As I'm heading into the woods I noticed that the Audubon society added a new wooden sign - "No Jogging."  What the shit?  No jogging?  How dare they!  Anyway I continued my "hyper brisk walking" and was soon out by the power lines enjoying the day.  The refuge itself is tiny but following the powerlines leads to some sketchier ATV trails which run alongside 295 South.  Ran my usual loop of these trails and then jumped back on powerlines and followed them further south than I usually do - now I'm in Snake Den territory sucka.  Big mud, off-roader tracks and deer remains.  That's how they do it in the Den, dawg.  I turned around at a water obstacle.  As I've written before I enjoy connecting all of my northern running grounds with the powerline road.  One day I'll run this whole damn stretch.  Made my way back to my car, being sure to hurry so no birdwatcher had time to yell at me for jogging on their lame-ass trail network.

Also happy anniversary to my lovely wife Amanda.  SEVEN YEARS!

Tuesday -Smithfield, RI - 3.8 miles

90 push-ups (Standard / Military / Wide Fly)

A short Christmas Eve run in the woods before work.  Nothing to report other than that running in the woods is awesome.

Wednesday - 0 miles



Thursday - Charlestown/West Greenwich, RI - 8.7 miles

2.7 miles early with the dog.  The beast was a pain-in-the-ass, in a mood to stop and smell the crap of other dogs.  Lovely snow flurries though.

I headed up to work without a plan in place for the morning's main run.  I had kind of decided on Wolf Hill but my heart wasn't into it.  At the last moment I decided I had time for Big River so I made my way over to the Hopkins Hill parking lot.  Good choice.  I hadn't been here in a while and ran a clockwise loop of Carr Pond.  Heard gunfire occasionally but it seemed to be coming from the west side of BR.  At one point three mountain bikers were ahead of me but a singletrack shortcut put me in front of them.  Suddenly I was being chased and enjoyed turning it on and putting some distance between me and them.

I got back to the parking lot with just under six miles and wanted to tack another another mile so I crossed the road and headed down the BR Expressway.  I was only a couple hundred yards down the trail when I jumped off of one of the ledges and rolled my left foot badly on the landing.  Damnit!  It hurt like hell and I limped back to the car.  It throbbed something fierce on the way up to work.  Now a few hours later and I have to walk gingerly.  Let's hope for a quick recovery.


Friday - 0 miles

Ankle's pretty sore but at least I'm walking normally again.  I'll take it day by day and probably stick to roads for the short term.  I need 35 miles to hit 1,800.  It might be in jeopardy.  This weekend should decide things.  We shall see.

Saturday - 0 miles

The ankle's feeling much better and I considered a short run to test it but thought better of it. 

Sunday - Charlestown, RI - 10.8 miles

Took the dog out for an early morning 3.5 miles.  Ankle felt alright on the road.  A couple hours later I ran the local roads for another 7+ miles.  A short trail section confirmed that I should stick to roads for now - I could feel it wanting to roll on the uneven terrain.

Weekly Mileage: 30.6 miles

Year to Date: 1,776.2 miles

Well the rolled ankle issue isn't nearly as bad as it could have been.  Hopefully it'll be ready for the trails of the Old Mountain 5k next weekend.  24 miles to go if I'm to break 1,800.  Pretty tall order with only two days left but we'll see.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Weekly Log: 12.16.13 - 12.22.13

NOTICE: My band Hip Bobsha will be performing an acoustic show at the Joyce Family Pub in Matunuck on Friday January 10th from 8:00 PM until Midnight.  Come on out!

Monday - Smithfield, RI - 5.8 miles

It didn't occur to me until I pulled off the highway that Smithfield probably got quite a bit more snow than Charlestown.  Not that it really mattered, I had my Cascadias and would run in them no matter how much snow there was.  There's a good amount up here but luckily I soon encountered some ATV tracks and decided to follow them along the powerlines.  It was a frozen wonderland out there.  I briefly entered the woods but breaking through the snow crust proved tiring and I was happy to return to the powerlines and run in the ATV ruts.  Don't listen to Mike B - this is a great time of the year to get outside and go running in the woods...if you've got the mettle for it.

Tuesday - 0 miles

P90X Chest Shoulders & Triceps (55 minutes)

Good workout this morning!  CS&T features lots of push-up variations and some light handweight work.  Like Chest & Back my numbers are down but I felt spent at the end.  Jelly arms definitely in effect afterwards.

Wednesday - 0 miles

Ab Ripper X (15 minutes)

Thursday - Charlestown/Smithfield, RI - 9.1 miles

Took the dog out in the early AM for 3 miles.  Cold out there but we were moving at a good clip and the little beast really turned it on at the end.

Headed up to Wolf Hill in Smithfield for the main run of the morning.  I expected it to be a tough slog in the snow and I wasn't disappointed.  Ran into a large chap and his unleashed beagle almost immediately but both were friendly enough.  After that I followed another set of footprints up into the hills which made the going a little easier.  I had intended to run along the frozen pond but there was a big piece of machinery up ahead along with a guy using a chainsaw.  Hmmm, what were they up to?  I backtracked up into the hills and made my way around to the quarry.  A lot of people must have had some fun here yesterday as there were sled routes all over the place (including a few dicey ones along the cliffside.  Only the brave and foolish need apply.)  Tried to see what the construction was up to but it looked like they were just cutting down trees and widening the path.  Curious.

From there I ventured back into the woods, following a pair of snowshoe tracks.  Ran the usual trails and the snow was making me work.  I wasn't wearing YakTrax but the Cascadias proved fine on their own.  So many cool tracks out there - I really like the little tunnels that I'm guessing are made by mice.  By the end of the run I was very pleased.  It was tough out there with the combination of hills and snow but it was so beautiful.  I thought about all the people that settle for treadmills at this time of year - they don't know what they're missing.

Friday - Snake Den, Johnston, RI - 7.7 miles

I scouted out the Bryant and North Smithfield High tracks last night and both were snowed in.  No track work?  Oh darn.  Back to the woods then!  And what a day it was in the Den.  Shirt and shorts weather (though I did wear gloves and a hat, I ended up stuffing the gloves in my pockets after a few miles.)    Lots of signs warning about hunting season and I heard a couple shots off in the distance but that's about it.  After a few miles I can across an old man walking with his dog.  "Still think it's summer?" he joked.  Haha, anytime I can run in the snow in shorts I'll take it.  The snow had begun to compact but it wasn't too slushy yet.  Good fun out there.

Saturday - South Kingstown, RI - 13.2 miles

Big group run to kick off the the Winter Solstice (though it didn't feel like it - shorts and t-shirt again.)  Met up in Perryville with Jonny, Jeff, Muddy, Mike B, Nate and Chris.  First we took the roads down through Green Hill to the beach.  We ran along the beach to Moonstone, catching the sun coming up over the clouds.  Good waves out there.  Then we jumped back on the roads to Perryville.  We weren't the only ones out this morning - saw several groups of bird watchers along the road.  We got back to our cars and said goodbye to Muddy as we ventured into the trails behind the graveyard.  Checked out the new trail that goes to Bull Head Pond.  Said farewell to Chris, Nate and Mike and then ran a section of the Duval trail with Jonny and Jeff.  Some sections of the trail were snow, some ice and some were downright muddy.  Fun start to winter.

Sunday - 0 miles

P90X Shoulders & Arms (60 minutes)

Weekly Mileage: 35.8 miles

Year to Date: 1,745.6 miles

Monday, December 16, 2013

Newport Christmas 10k 2013

Official time: 37:03.  7th overall.  5th in Age Group.  Results here.

The last race of the year was billed as a big showdown between WTAC and the Tuesday Night Turtles but the approaching snowstorm meant that no one was sure how the race would play out.  The storm ended up not being that bad and turned to rain overnight - by morning even the rain was just about done.  Thanks to Bob Jackman posting on Facebook, I found out on Saturday night that the race had been pushed back an hour.  This ended up being quite beneficial for me.  We hosted a party on Saturday night and the combination of alcohol and excessive dessert left me feeling bloated and groggy in the morn.  By the time I left the house at 9:30, I was feeling much better.

The roads were clear save for a few puddles.  I got to Rogers high school, got my bib and did a short warm-up with the WTAC crew.   There would be no team rivalry today as not a lot of TNT members made it out.  WTAC also had a bunch of no-shows and luckily Jonny was able to switch over to the WTAC Green team to give them enough guys.  

Photo by Jana Walker

Mile 1 - 5:52
Tried to make a concious effort at the start to not go out to fast and I think I succeeded.  Settled into 8th place behind Jeff, Nate and a guy in red.  I had on a single and shorts with a hat and gloves and it seemed to be the correct combination.

Mile 2 - 6:02
I didn't have a gameplan going into this race.  At the last minute I decided 6 minute miles would be what I'd shoot for.  I saw the pace car and the front runners briefly on a long straightaway.  WTAC was clearly going to have a big day with Galoob, Garvin and Jonny up in front and Jeff 'n Nate just ahead of me.

Mile 3 - 6:02
This mile's fun as it goes past the ocean and Bretton Point.  Big waves out there.  I tried to focus on hitting tangents and avoiding the occasional car.  Jeff and Nate weren't too far ahead and I began to gain on the guy in red.  My head felt warm and I second guessed wearing the hat but soon I was happy that I had it.

Mile 4 - 5:56
Now the race begins.  The wind comes across the road as soon as it turns east and there are big swaths of seaweed that washed over the barriers last night.  Halfway through this mile I catch the guy in red.  Soon after there are a few rolling hills and I catch up to Nate.  I pass him and wonder if I'm going too fast.  I'm thinking I might run out of steam but decide to stay the course and see what happens.

Mile 5 - 6:00
Just before Mile 5 I hit the walkers that do a 3 mile loop.  They're a pain when they walk 4-5 abreast but they weren't as bad as I remember from last year.  I see Jeff not too far up head avoiding them and it gives me something to focus on.  I'm starting to get really tired and begin checking my watch constantly to see how far is left (something Nate told me he noticed after the race.)

Mile 6 - 6:10
Finally we turn away from the water and head back towards the high school.  I can feel myself slowing down a bit and hear footsteps behind me.  I'm hoping it's Nate and not someone else.  Turned out to be Nate.  He passes me and I stay close to him and notice we're gaining on Jeff.  The Gazelle must not know that we were catching up to him.  As we turn onto the last stretch on Ruggles Nate surges ahead and I know I can't catch him.  The last hill becomes exhausting and I'm happy when I pull into the high school driveway and through the chute.

Photo by Jana Walker

7th place overall!  8 seconds behind Jeff and 5 behind Nate.  6th member of WTAC to cross the line.  WTAC men took the first two team spots and the WTAC women won as well.  I took a minute ten off my 10k PR.  Did a long 4 mile cooldown with Jeff, Galoob (who won) and Nate and then went to the post-race spread where pretty much everyone won beer and some sort of raffle prize (there were sweet gift certificates up for grabs but by the time they got to my age group the pickings were slim and I settled for some wireless headphones.)  WTAC finished off the experience by going to the Brick Alley Pub for a tasty lunch.  A great way to end the year of racing.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Weekly Log: 12.9.13 - 12.15.13

Monday - Ryan Park, North Kingstown, RI - 5.4 miles

The week started with a wintry mix forcast, promising a shitty commute. From Ezri's daycare, I could see the backup beginning on Route 4 so I opted to just run at Ryan Park, hoping the traffic would improve by the time I was done (it did!) It was rainy, cold and slushy - not exactly fun conditions. However there was enough snow to reveal a couple sections of singletrack I had never seen before. Winter reveals the secrets of the woods.

Tuesday - 0 miles

Use it or lose it
P90X Chest & Back (50 minutes)

Oof! Been a while since I tackled this workout and it showed. My pull-up strength (such as it was) is gone and by the time I got to the second round of the diamond push-ups I had to go to my knees. Check out the decrease in my numbers from last time.

Wednesday - 0 miles

Ab Ripper X (15 minutes)

I've had my Honda Element for almost 10 years and it's nearing the end of it's life.  The back struts have been going and today the rattling/shaking on the highway became really bad.  I was able to drive to work and back and as long as I kept it under 50 mph the shaking wasn't too bad.  Looks like I'll be following in the footsteps of Master Crutchley and begin searching for another car.

The weather report for this weekend is not promising.  We are having a Christmas party Saturday and this damn snow storm threatens to undo everything.  And there's more snow coming Sunday when I'm supposed to run the Christmas 10k.  Me no like.  I'm especially bummed because the heavy snow forecast prompted Amanda to pass on the 10k, which she was about to pull the trigger for.

Thursday - Charlestown/Smithfield, RI - 6.4 miles

I was able to borrow my grandmother's car for a couple days which was a relief.  Thanks Mimi!  Took the dog out for a couple miles in the cold darkness of 5:30 AM.  Wasn't too bad once we started moving.  I wonder if Oliver would say the same.

After picking up Mimi's car (the thing is a boat, I love driving it) I still had time to run 4.3 miles of trails up at the office.  What a gorgeous day!  Just enough snow to cover everything in a winter whitescape but not so much as to make breaking through a chore.  Lots of cool animal tracks everywhere.  Ran a mix of singletrack and wide old powerline hills and thoroughly enjoyed all of it.

Friday - Wolf Hill, Smithfield, RI - 6.2 miles

Made it out to Wolf Hill like I wanted - cold!  Temp was in the upper teens.  There was evidence that this place gets lots of traffic even in the winter - footprints, paw prints and ATV tracks as well.  Ran all the usual trails, enjoying the crunch of the snow.  Pace was slow and easy.  My right ankle began to ache halfway through which was annoying.  I iced it after I got to work - hopefully it's nothing.

Saturday - 0 miles

Sunday - Newport Christmas 10k - 12.3 miles

Official time: 37:03.  7th overall.  Report here.

Weekly Mileage: 30.4 miles

Year to Date: 1,709.7 miles

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Weekly Log: 12.2.13 - 12.8.13

Here we are. The last month of the year. The goal is 1800 miles. I need 170 more to make it happen. Let's do this.

Monday - Smithfield, RI - 7.1 miles

Looking for something new, I decided to take the powerlines north from Fidelity. I've never gone beyond where they hit Rocky Branch Road and thought this would be an interesting run. It was very foggy which made the environment seem more isolated than it was. Saw lots of deer throughout - probably 15 or so. Watch out guys! I crossed Rocky Branch Rd and continued another long section of powerlines - there were some swampy areas to contend with but it seemed that others use these roads as there were paths to avoid most of the muck.

I crossed Iron Mine Hill Road and this is where the powerline road became really interesting. Some elevation gains that left me overlooking a busier Route 104. The trail veered in a different direction and I explored briefly but I was up against the clock and turned around. Looking at Google Maps, it seems that soon I would have encountered the busy North Smithfield Expressway which would be difficult to cross anyway. There appeared to be lots of side trails between Rocky Branch and Iron Mine roads - perhaps I'll explore them another day.

Tuesday - Charlestown, RI - 2.4 miles

Ab Ripper X (15 minutes)

Took the dog for an easy jog in the early foggy AM. Afterwards I fired up the Ab Ripper for the first time in 1.5 months. Oof. I made it through but I wasn't able to keep up with some of the exercises like I used to.

Wednesday - 0 miles

I chumped out and slept in, closing the window on any opportunity to work out. Abs got progressively more sore throughout the day until they hurt when I cough. DOMS.

Thursday - North Smithfield, RI - 6.1 miles

Push-ups (55 total in 4 sets)

Did a few sets of push-ups (standard, military & wide) in the morning to get back into the swing of things. Then I followed through on my intention for the day and went to the track to do a speed workout. No excuses today! I decided to go with 400m x 8 with a 200m jog in between each. By the third one I was pretty winded and began each 200m by walking. Eight intervals seemed too much. I talked myself down to just doing six. But after the sixth one I knew that I could gut out two more so I stuck with the initial eight. Very pleased I followed through on my plan and happy with the consistency of the 400s. Track work sure sucks but I always feel a great sense of accomplishment once it's over.

Splits: 78 / 77 / 78 / 79 / 79 / 78 / 79 / 79

Friday - Charlestown, RI - 13.5 miles

I had the day off from work (huzzah!) and started the day off by bottling my first mead and some Dead Ringer IPA (a Northern Brewer clone of the famous Bell's Two Hearted Ale.)  The mead is very sweet.  Sort of like a dessert wine.  I think it's drinkable now but time is supposed to make it truly good.  At any rate, both of these were gallon batches.  Bottling the mead was straightforward and easy but the IPA bottling was a comedy of errors.  I almost forgot the priming sugar, the bottling siphon began to leak and then stopped working mid-bottle.  The last couple bottles were filled in a very unorthodox fashion - they are going to be very oxidized and probably taste like cardboard but hopefully they'll make the rest of the batch taste awesome in comparison.

Brewing adventures over, I laced up and headed to Burlingame to get about in about 12 miles.  It looked to be rain-free for the time being so I figured wouldn't get too wet.  I started from the beach and headed over to the Kettle Pond trails first before hitting up the trails south of the campgrounds.  By now it had begun raining - guess the weather wasn't going to cooperate afterall.  Then I jumped on the Vin Gormley trail to make the loop back to my car.  Heard a good amount of gunfire but it was off in the distance - I'm guessing from North Burlingame.

The rain picked up as I went and during the Buckeye Brook Road section I looked down and got an unwanted surprise - more bloody nipples!  What the hell?  I bodyglided and everything.  Luckily I had my nuclear orange Li'l Rhody shirt on and caught it in time.   Also lucky that it wasn't cold despite the rain.  I threw the shirt over my head and continued on.  A good run and I was happy to be done and out of the rain but this nipple thing is becoming a pain in the ass.

Later, I bartered with Em to give the dog his afternoon walk (her job) in exchange for her doing dishes (my job.)  Did an easy two mile jog with Oliver in light rain.  I must admit that in all ways he's a great dog save one - he barks and growls at every person/dog we meet on the road.   It's annoying and embarrassing.

Saturday - Charlestown, RI - 3 miles

Took the dog out for three miles in the afternoon.  Pace was pretty good - mid 8s.


Sunday - Charlestown, RI - 13.2 miles

Decided to run down the beach from Charlestown to South Kingstown for my long run.  It was dark when I set out and figured I'd get to the beach for the sunrise.  It was high 20s but I wore shorts which proved to be the correct choice.  Was never too hot/too cold on the run.  A mile down the beach I came upon a seal pup hanging out on shore.  He was about 2.5 feet long.  I'm thinking maybe he was injured as he didn't try to move or do much of anything when I approached.  I got within a few feet of it.  Never been so close to one before.  It was very cute.  Looked sort of like a dog with severe birth defects for limbs.  Bizarre creature really.

I wished it the best and continued on.  I had the beach to myself and the sunrise was pretty great.  Once I reached S.K. Town Beach I took the roads back which were less wonderful.  I wore the 730s and my feet were tired by the end.  Am I really considering a road marathon for next spring?  I dunno, the second half of this run had me questioning if I really wanted to subject myself to that. Once at home I called the Mystic Aquarium to report a possible injured seal pup.  They said they'd send out a volunteer to check it out.


Weekly Mileage: 45.4 miles

Year to Date: 1,679.4 miles

I've put together a couple good weeks lately.  Looking forward to slightly less mileage next week and my last race of the year - the Newport Christmas 10k.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Weekly Log: 11.25.13 - 12.1.13

Monday - Wolf Hill, Smithfield, RI - 6.6 miles

Cold! Definitely time for the thermal leggings. Ran the usual trails on Wolf Hill. The land trust recently slapped a fresh coat of green paint on one of the trails which is appreciated. Nose and fingers were frozen at first but after a couple miles they thawed out nicely. The fall deluge of leaves has come to an end with most of them now off the trail or crushed into submission. I took the power line trail south beyond the perimeter of Wolf Hill to see how far it was to the Putnam Pike (answer: not far.) In my mind I can see the makings of an epic trail race that runs these powerlines from North Smithfield down to the Snake Den. The hills would be brutal and you'd be able to see the other runners far off in the distance. I'm sure there are a thousand restrictions and laws that would prevent this from happening but a man can dream.

Tuesday - Hopkinton, RI - 6.3 miles

I tried to start the day off with some Chest, Shoulders & Tris but my lower back was sore and as I tried my first push-up it felt very tight under my left arm. I decided to stop lest I make things worse. Is there no end to this madness?!?

At least it hasn't affected my running. Did my usual stint around Hopkinton while waiting on pick-up duties. I'm not sure what it is about this place but I always feel great and have a fast pace (maybe it's the night running.) Saw a mouse in the road and chased him for a bit before he froze in his tracks. I turned away and he made his escape. Scared a fellow who was looking into a yard where his dog was peeing. I heard him whisper "Oh!" and then his beast charged me. Poor old guy really had to make an effort to reign him in. Another victim of the Night Bandit!

Wednesday - Charlestown, RI - 1.3 miles

Heavy rains all day today but at 5:30 AM it was windy and just spitting so I dragged Oliver across the street for a quick run. He did not seem very enthused but it's probably the only exercise he was getting today. Plus I need every mile I can scrap together in my pursuit of 1800.

Amanda and I went to the Malted Barley in Westerly at night to see friends. We actually had to wait in line for about 10 minutes to get in. Never been there before but what a great beer bar! Kipling Pale Ale was the cask ale and it was delicious. I also had Founder's All Day IPA on tap which was phenomenal.

Thursday - Charlestown, RI - 9.4 miles

I took Oliver out for a three mile jaunt at 5:30 AM. We hit about a 9 minute mile pace which is pretty good for him I think. After bringing him back to the house, I ran down to the beach and back. Big waves at the beach. I was moving well until I turned around and realized I'd be fighting the wind the way back. Between the two runs I got in over 9 miles this morning - a good prep for the feasting that would ensue.

Friday - Crawley Preserve, Richmond, RI - 9 miles

I had to work (blech) but luckily I was able to make this group run before heading up to the office. Met up with Jeff, Mike B and Mike G for a run at the Crawley Preserve. Only Galoob had been there before and we were looking forward to some new trails. A steep hill right off the bat made me regret my second round of dessert last night but that was followed by a nice downhill. Then a neverending road climb. After this initial elevation seesaw we jumped back into the woods and explored more trails and dirt roads. I don't think we actually explored much of the Preserve itself - we spent a lot of time on the outlying roads and unofficial trails. But it was a lot of fun and a lively run. We'll save Crawley Preserve proper for another day.

Saturday - 0 miles

Sunday - Charlestown/South Kingstown, RI - 16.7 miles

I had couple possibilities for my long run but ultimately I decided to stick close to home and run to as many trails as I could.  I was interested in joining Nate for an early morning exploration of a new DuVal trail but I couldn't get out of bed.  It still sounded like a good idea so I decided to make a long run out of it.  I wore my 4mm New Balance 730s and this would definitely be the longest run in 'em by a good five miles or so.  I figured since the run would be a mix of roads and trails they'd be alright.

I started off by attempted to bushwack from the fields of South Farm over to Shannock Rd.  I'd really like a cut-through so I didn't have to run all the way up past the Rathskellar.  Unfortunately I only made it about halfway through the swamp and prickers before giving up on the attempt.  You can see from my Strava map how I ended up veering off course anyhow.  I retreated back to the fields and it began to rain.

I returned to Old Coach and took the roads over to Browning Woods, stopping briefly to chitchat with my buddy Jarrod who was diligently chopping wood in the rain.   The rain was steady but not too heavy and the temp was 50 degrees for which I was happy.  Just before I entered Browning Woods, I felt a stinging in my left nipple and saw that my tech shirt was bloody.  Never before had I ever had to deal with this runner's affliction and I wasn't sure what to make of it.  Did I scratch it while bushwacking?  Two miles later and the right one began to bleed - that answered that question.  I guess the 2013 Blessing of the Fleet shirt does not agree with my tender nips when wet.

First Timer

I took the Heart trail over to the dirt road and then traveled through the sand dunes where I spied the remains of a deer.  It was mostly just head and neck - a grisly sight but a reminder of what awaits us all.  I continued on the dirt road towards the DuVal trail.  The 730s were soaked through but still felt alright.  I could tell that my calves were beginning to feel it.  I pushed the DuVal trail at a good pace and made my way to the new section of the southern half.  It's about a mile long and leads to a cool little pond - a very nice addition to this network of trails.

After that it was all roads back to the house.  My calves were ready to be done with this run and I felt no desire to push the distance to hit 50 for the week.  A long but interesting jaunt.

Weekly Mileage: 49.2 miles

Year to Date: 1,633.9 miles

Monday, November 25, 2013

Mews Tavern "Gear & Beer" 5k 2013

Official time: 18:17.  25th overall.  6th in Age Group.  Results here.

One of my favorite local races had arrived. The Mew Tavern "Gear & Beer" 5k is run every November in Wakefield, RI. It starts and ends with decent hills and has a great afterparty with beer and food. It's always a crowded but fun event and this year was their biggest yet with over 2000 registered runners. With the hills and the temperature I had no illusions of a PR but I hoped that I could run about 18:30.

Amanda and I parked at the Elks Lodge and walked down to the Mews. It was cold and when the wind blew it was pretty awful. My Garmin wasn't charged and I realized I'd be running without the space watch for the first time in two years which disturbed me a bit. We had brought a bag with clothes for afterward but there wasn't really a good place to stash it so I ran it back up to the car, stripped down and did a short warm-up. Once I began running it wasn't as cold as I had feared. I made my way to the start line and saw the WTAC guys in attendance. After a few minutes the race director lined us up and then we were off.

The race goes uphill straight away and I tried to reign it in, letting a bunch of people go by. Some poor bastard had been driving down the road as the race began and stopped at the most inopportune place - right at the first corner. We ran around him and then there was no more car troubles. A few more people passed me on the way up to Willard St and I questioned how hard I was working. Should I be pushing harder? I found myself running alongside this tall shaggy dude. He was wearing minimalist shoes and made a loud slapping noise with every footfall.

When friends run and drink, everyone wins.

As we made our way down Willard St I continued to exchange places with Slappy Dude, a guy in under armor gear and a couple other folks. Slappy Dude's footfalls were starting to really get annoying. When we finally pulled off of Willard, I pushed it on the downhill to keep up with Under Armor. I could still hear Slappy Dude and in fact his slap slaps were starting to get closer as we turned onto High St.

I tried to push a little harder and finally the sounds of Slappy Dude faded away. Under Armor was still just ahead of me though. I was feeling it at this point but still felt like I had enough left for the big hill. We turned onto the hill and immediately I went by Under Armor who gave me some encouragement. Then halfway up the hill I managed to catch another guy. After that it was a mad downhill dash back down to the finish line. I was afraid someone would catch me and I didn't feel like I was moving well but I was safe. Finished in 18:17. 20 seconds off my PR from last month. Tough race in cold conditions - I'll take it happily.

Almost immediately I jogged back to the car to get our warm clothes and on the way back Amanda went by. She had a great race and finished in just under 25 minutes. A HUGE PR! We put on some warmer clothes and made our way to the beer area where we stood around chatting with everyone we knew. Eventually the frigid temps drove people away. You know it's cold when they still had a good amount of beer to be had two hours later. Amanda and I took shelter in the big tent until the food line died down. Grabbed some chow and more drinks and enjoyed the heat of the tent once again before heading home.

WTAC Represent

There were some strong showings from WTAC with Galoob and Ryan Woolley taking 4th and 5th. My team, the Channel 4 News Team, had an injury so we weren't able to field a complete group. Our wives ran a corresponding team but I think there was an issue with their team registration. And I know the WTAC guys fielded a team but I didn't see them listed in the results. Not surprising as the team registration process is confusing to say the least. Ah well, it's all in good fun. Next year join us, won't you?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Weekly Log: 11.18.13 - 11.24.13

On the heels of the Li'l Rhody Runaround comes the Mews Tavern 5k this weekend. Really looking forward to this one. Lots of runners, a couple big hills on the course and a fun afterparty. The race fee includes unlimited access to a couple dozen kegs which always lures a bunch of my friends to run. It's lots of fun to run as a team and hang out with everyone afterwards.

Monday - 0 miles

Quite the blustery rainy morning. Made it easy to justify not running but then it cleared up so I turned out that I could've gotten in a run before work. Drat.

Tuesday AM - Charlestown, RI - 2.6 miles

Took the dog for an early stroll. Over the weekend I took him to South Farm and walked/sprinted with him. It went well enough that I decided to up the tempo on our morning constitutionals. Tried to keep it at an easy pace that he could handle and ended up running 11 minute miles. Not exactly race pace but our walks were at 16-17 minute miles so this is a definite improvement. Figure if we keep it up he'll get faster and I'll be able to fit a few more miles in each week with these "dog doubles."

Tuesday PM - Hopkinton, RI - 6.8 miles

I ran the roads near the dance studio, headlamp aglow. Legs were sore today from Li'l Rhody but the earlier run helped loosen them up. Pace was snappy in the low 7s and very consistent. My calves were feeling it by the end.

Wednesday - 0 miles

P90X Shoulders & Arms (45 minutes)

After a month off from P90X my neck, back and arm finally felt good enough to attempt a workout. Not too bad but thanks to the worksheet I could tell where my strength has dropped off. I've always favored my right arm but my left is now noticably weaker and proved problematic for the last few exercises. Still it was good to get back into the swing of things.

Thursday - Charlestown, RI - 10.2 miles

I had my yearly physical in the morning which allowed me to get a longer-than-usual weekday run. I started from my house and wore my cold compression gear for the first time this season. 20 degrees outside! I probably didn't need the leggings but it's hard to judge. I headed over to the Narragansett trail and poked around the side trails - I wound up behind the houses on Black Pond Road. I'd love to have an access point to these trails from that road but at the moment there doesn't appear to be one. Hmmm.

Made my way up to Route 2 with a shitty little yippy dog chasing me until I shouted at it. Explored a side road I had never been on then took the powerlines over to Shannock Rd. I took the roads back to my house, checking out a new development on the way. Fun local run once my thumbs thawed at mile 3.

Friday - Smithfield, RI - 6.1 miles

I hit the trails at work on a wet morning. At least it was 50 degrees out. The leaves are finally started to compress on the ground, making the singletrack more visible. Ran across my first hunter out in these woods. I'm pretty sure it was Santa. A older rotund chap, bushy white beard. He had a great camo jacket. I scared the crap out of him but he was a jolly fellow and laughed it off. Said I probably took 10 years off his life. Sorry Santa!

That night while the girls were out at the movies I brewed a gallon batch of Dead Ringer IPA and racked my original JAOM into a glass jug.  The JAOM wasn't as far along as I thought.  Patience is the key in home brewing but sometimes it's so difficult!

Racked my first JAOM into a glass carboy.  Not quite ready for bottling.

Saturday - 0 miles

Sunday - Mews Tavern 5k, Wakefield, RI - 5.1 miles

Official time: 18:17.  25th overall.  Report forthcoming.

Weekly Mileage:  30.9 miles

Year to Date: 1,584.7 miles

Good race at the Mews to round out the week.  Looking forward to a few weeks of whatever-I-like runs before the Newport 10k in mid-December.  Looking at the mileage, I think I may have a shot at hitting 1,800 miles but it will take a solid effort through the rest of the year.  We shall see!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Li'l Rhody Runaround 2013

Official time: 52:51.  20th overall.  11th in age group.  Results here.

Time for another run around Watchaug Pond at the Li'l Rhody Runaround.  Last year was a mess as I ran on a weak ankle and twisted it badly at mile one.  I finished the race but it was ugly and easily my worst race of the year, both from a time and health perspective. This year I had no ankle issues and other than lingering back pain I felt ready to race. I didn't really plan out a strategy for this one. I figured a sub-55 minute run was doable - I was just going to go out strong and see how it played out.

Over the past week Amanda had been thinking about running this race and once we got the babysitting squared away she decided to go for it. We arrived with plenty of time to register and get situated. Saw the usual WTAC suspects and a bunch of other fast guys. It looked to be a deep field and I warned myself not to go out too fast. I ran the first mile of dirt road as a solo warm-up and then it was time to head to the starting line.

An orange mob takes off
Photo by Jana Walker

It was a fast start and I quickly settled into what I thought was a 6:15 minute pace. I glanced at my watch and it was about a 5:50 pace - whoa, too fast! Fellow WTACer Nate caught up to me and we exchanged greetings. We ran alongside each other and I followed him into the singletrack. I could feel the train of runners slow a bit on this first trail section and Nate and I passed a few runners right before we came out at the playground.

The pace picked up as we ran through the Burlingame campground and Aaron "Sandals" Rome passed us just as we entered the woods. Nate passed Sandals a few moments later and I decided to follow suit. I had made the decision to stick with Nate for as long as I could. My only misstep came shortly thereafter during the plank section. I tried to jump on a big rock for a shortcut and my feet slipped - I nearly landed flat on my back. My shoes found traction at the last moment and I was able to remain upright.

After 3.5 miles we were approaching the water stop and the Buckeye Brook Road section. I was working hard and decided to drop back from Nate a bit. The field was spread out at this point. I could see a couple guys off in the distance behind me and two in front of Nate. The pace picked up slightly for the brief road section and when I re-entered the woods I really had to focus and try not to think about how hard I was working. Keeping the pace up was difficult now and Nate seemed farther ahead. Looking back I could see Boj and another guy gaining on me.

The uphill "stairs" section towards the North Camp road really took its toll on me and even the following downhill section was wearing on me. I could hear footsteps behind me but I tried not to worry about anyone else. The last couple miles of trails were brutal at the speed I was running and I just wanted to get to the road section. I wasn't sure how much I'd have left but just knowing that the last mile is road would be a relief. Just before crossing Cool Spring Road I passed another runner and shortly after that Boj passed me.

Coming around the last turn
Photo by Jana Walker

It was good to see Muddy cheering us on as we came out on King's Factory Road. I tried to pick up the pace as much as I could for this last section. I could still see Nate off ahead. Boj clearly had more left in the tank and began to put distance on me. The runner I had passed caught to me with about 1/3 of a mile to go and told me to keep with him. I managed to maintain his pace briefly before he too pulled away from me. I was exhausted as I made the turn into the parking lot and thrilled when I saw I was going to finish in under 53 minutes.

Stood around chatting with everyone afterwards, so happy to be done with this race. It was tough. Did a cooldown with the guys and then ran the course backwards to cheer on Amanda...but she had already finished! Like a fool I ran all the way out to King's Factory Road looking for her. I ran back to the finish, now truly tired and starving and found her down at the picnic area with everyone else. She did amazing, finishing in 1:16:51. Pretty awesome considering this was her first ever trail race and by far her longest footrace.

Happy to be done!

Everyone seemed to have a great time at this race. Greg Hammett won yet again and there were some big PRs from WTAC. Speaking of WTAC, they did a great job at this event and it was by far the biggest field they've had with over 400 runners! It's great to see so many people coming out to support trail racing. Hopefully this bodes well for the South County 4th Season trail series. This was a bit of redemption for me after last year's difficulties. I came in 20th overall but 11th in my Age Group which goes to show how deep the field was. A great race!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Weekly Log: 11.11.13 - 11.17.13

Li'l Rhody Runaround week is here. After last year's shitshow, I've been watching this race approach through squinty, suspicious eyes. But last year my ankles were a goddamn mess. Now they are strong and mountain goat-like. However other Janky body parts will still threaten to undo me.

Monday - Ryan Park, North Kingstown - 6.4 miles

I took Ezri out to ride her bike on the Quonset bike path yesterday and that same mid-back issue cropped up when I jogged alongside her. I wasn't even sure if I should run this morning but after an early morning dog walk I decided to give it a go.

I wore my minimal MT00s for the first time in a while and they felt good. I stuck to the west side of the park at first, hitting the various trais before attempt to cross the road and see how far I could follow the powerlines (Answer: not far. Briars slowed me down and then a busy stream turned me around.) Back felt good throughout but I started the run with that nagging arm pain (it went away by the halfway point.) Legs felt good with a lot of pop on the rail bed section which isn't surprising since I took the weekend off.

Tuesday - 0 miles

Our first days of cold weather and dry air mean that pretty much our whole household is sick. I'm not too bad off - just an annoying hacky cough.  At least my back seems to feel better from the regimen of pills that the doc prescribed.

Wednesday - 0 miles

I was going to do the P90X Stretch video this morning but I just couldn't drag myself out of bed.  Weary.

Thursday - Smithfield, RI - 5.5 miles

Sometimes a bit of happy chance can turn your whole day around.

It was a shitty drive into work. Just awful. My commute sucks monkey balls on the best of days and when there's gridlock it becomes unbearable. What a bunch of assholes we are, driving these highways everyday in our mobile prisons. Just a waste of so much time. I arrived at work seething with rage and for the first time ever I parked as close to the trails as I could. I didn't want to deal with even half a mile of footpaths before I got into the woods.

I figured the trail run would improve my mood and it did but the real discovery came a half mile in. There, next to some singletrack, buried in dirt and leaves was a green glass jug! With my descent into homebrewing, I've been on the lookout for gallon jugs for small batches and secondary fermenting. This thing is perfect!

Behold my filthy green jug!

I ran my treasure back to the car and then headed back into the woods. Beautiful fall day out there and I hit a bunch of wide powerline trails and twisty singletrack. My body felt good and the neck pain I had on the commute vanished as soon as I started running. I ventured into the office in a far superior mood.

Friday - Connors Farm Conservation Area, Smithfield, RI - 5 miles

I explored this small network of trails once before and this morning it occurred to me that I should run them again. The trails go up and down the hillside and I forgot just how much elevation change there was. There's essentially three trails - a red loop, a yellow loop and a blue trail that connects to the yellow and red trails. The blue trail has some pretty cool rock formations and all the trails have great views of the moraine below. After hitting up all of 'em I decided to put in a hard effort on the red trail to make a Strava segment. I ran it well despite the heavy blanket of leaves. Only a five mile run but it was a workout.

Saturday - Charlestown, RI - 2.6 miles

Took Oliver the Dog over to South Farm for his morning walk.  Walked most of it but we ran a oouple sections so I'm counting this as a run.  The beast is a sprinter - we were running at a 6 minute pace briefly.  I'll probably try to incorporate more running when I walk him in the morning as I think he can handle it.

Sunday - Li'l Rhody Runaround, Charlestown, RI - 12.8 miles

Official time: 52:51.  20th overall.  Report forthcoming.

Weekly Mileage: 32.2 miles

Year to Date: 1,553.8 miles

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Weekly Log: 11.4.13 - 11.10.13

Good lord, I'm falling apart. In addition to my upper back woes, my left arm has taking to aching something awful at random points in the day. It's connected to my back/neck troubles which also still hurts intermittently. I haven't touched the P90X since that ill advised Ab Ripper session and I miss it. Thankfully my running doesn't aggravate the back/arm thing so I'm gonna keep the mileage up.

Monday - Snake Den, Johnston, RI - 6.5 miles

It was great running weather at the Den - cold and crisp. The fallen leaves made the footing tough throughout. I really had to watch my step. The Connector Trail is hard to see at the best of times - I had a few off-trail blunders and paid for my errors with several briar scratches. Checked out a few trails I hadn't been on before - some were dead ends while others connected with familiar territory. This really is a great place for trail running, though it'll be better once the leaves compress. I nabbed enough elevation at the power lines to grab the first 1000m badge in the Strava elevation challenge - this indeed proved to be a challenge as I had to actively seek out some hilly runs over the past week. Good fun - I hope they do more of these.

Tuesday - 0 miles

Wednesday - Big River, West Greenwich, RI - 6.3 miles

I met up with Scott Mason at the Greasy Joe's parking lot to get my first taste of Big River night running. I'd never attempt this one my own (I've gotten lost a couple times here in the daytime) but I knew Scott and Bob Jackman were old pros at this so I made plans to meet up. It was dark when we headed out at 5:45 PM but the temperature was almost 60 degrees which was great. We started out on the New London Turnpike but soon ventured onto the singletrack. The headlamps provided plenty of light and it wasn't difficult running the trails behind Scott. We ended up running much of the last leg of the Big River 1/2 marathon. Conversation was lively and other than a short bushwacking snafu the night provided no difficulties.

Thursday - Charlestown, RI - 6.1 miles

I had a doctor's appointment in the morning for the janky back so I took advantage of the time and ran down to the beach and back. It had rained overnight but now it was just spitting. Temperature was just as warm as last night though it was windy as I approached the shore. I kept the run short and the pace peppy.

Friday - Smithfield, RI - 4.9 miles

Track if I'm strong, woods if I'm weak. That's what I said I'd choose between today. Well call me Mr. Weak because I was running late and decided to just run the trails behind work to save time. One day I'll return to the track. Perhaps.

It was pleasant enough in the woods though the thick cover of leaves made it slow going. I overdressed yet again and had to take off my long sleeve layer halfway through the run. My Janky Toe began to ache from the rocks on the singletrack and I ventured over to the power lines for a change of pace. The road under the lines gave my toe a break but then my mid-back began to hurt. Awesome. With my body aching and having absolutely no pep whatsoever, I opted to just head back to the car. I think I'll be taking the weekend off to give my body some needed rest.

Saturday - 0 miles

Sunday - 0 miles

Weekly Mileage: 23.8 miles

Year to Date: 1,521.6 miles

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Adventures in Homebrewing - Fall 2013

As we wade into November, my homebrewing is in full swing. I figure I'd give an update on my recent creations.

Chinook IPA - 5% ABV

Followed a Northern Brewer recipe but fermented in the Beer Machine, this brew proved that the Beer Machine is a capable fermenter when better ingredients are used. Made only with Chinook hops, this IPA has a piney, resinous aroma and taste. No citrus/fruit overload here. Very drinkable with just the right amount of bitterness - sadly it is almost gone.

Wake Up Stout - 5.7% ABV

Another Northern Brewer recipe, I followed it closely except that I used an espresso flavored coffee from a local coffee shop. This coffee stout is alright - it would have benefited from oats in order to give it a thicker mouthfeel. A good beer but I know that it can be improved upon.

Runner's High Imperial IPA - 8.1% ABV

Just bottled this over the weekend. I'm not sure if 8% qualifies it as an Imperial but whatever. This is an original recipe using the remaining steeping grains from the Chinook IPA. I used Chinook hops for bittering and added Cascade and Falconer's Flight late in the boil. I dry hopped with those as well. Very aromatic. The grapefruit notes are front and center when I tasted it. At this point I think they're overpowering but I'm looking forward to trying it in a few weeks after it has been bottle conditioned.

The Runner's High haul - 6 bombers and 10 regular bottles

EdWort's Apfelwein - 8.4% ABV

This was also bottled over the weekend after five weeks in the primary. I tried it for the first time. Very dry, like a white wine but more drinkable. It was pretty good right out of the fermenter but it's supposed to improve with age. The better bottle wasn't empty long - I got another 4.5 gallons going the next day.

Joe's Ancient Orange Mead

My original JAOM is almost a month old and there's still bubbling action to be seen. If it sticks to the schedule it should clear up in the next month. I started a second batch two weeks later. My dutiful assistant Ezri was happy to drop in all the ingredients. This time I substituted peaches and craisins for the orange and raisins. I'm just going to let these be until they start to clear up.

Maybe I'll tuck away a bottle to give to Ezri in 17 years

On Deck:

Next I plan to make 2.5 gallons of Bourbon Barrel Porter and 1 gallon of IPA. The porter will be the first time I'm using a secondary (need to add bourbon soaked oak chips) and the IPA will be my first attempt at a small 1 gallon batch.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Weekly Log: 10.28.13 - 11.3.13

Monday - Smithfield, RI - 6.6. miles

Another Monday, another fall run. Legs were a little stiff after yesterday's 5k but no worse for wear. Back's still a little off. I ran up at work but tried to run trails in the opposite direction of what I was used to. Changed it up a bit and made it more interesting. Had to skip a couple trails where the leaves made it difficult to even see the path. I spied a hunter blind attached to a tree next to one of the singletrack trails. It was a nifty little ladder thing with room for one at the top. I kinda wanted to climb up there and check it out but I thought better of it. Don't forget to wear your orange folks!

Tuesday - Hopkinton, RI - 7 miles

Ugh. My back and shoulder feel worse then they have in days. Man I never would have thought that backpacking would take such a toll on my body. Everyday I expect to get back to feeling normal but it's just not happening.

Decided to run some hills in Hopkinton in the evening to chase elevation for a new Strava challenge. It was almost dark when I started so I used my headlamp. I ran up and down Route 3. It actually has a pretty wide breakdown lane and doesn't get a ton of traffic with Route 95 next door so it was a pretty stress-free road run. The only problem was car etiquette. Drivers would turn off their high beams when they saw my headlamp but it seemed like at least half turn 'em back on when they realized I wasn't a car. Thanks assholes!

I didn't nab as much elevation as I had hoped for. Only 500 feet or so. But the back didn't bother me while running and my pace was snappy so I'm pleased with the run.

Wednesday - 0 miles

Go away Janky Back.

Thursday - Wolf Hill, Smithfield, RI - 6.25 miles

Headed up to Wolf Hill on a super foggy morning to beat myself up on more hills. Are you not entertained, Strava?!? Pretty tired after staying up late to watch the Sox celebrate their World Series win but I perked up once I hit the trails. A heavy coating of leaves made for some tough terrain and I spent some time hiking and exploring new makeshift "trails" at the quarry. I didn't exactly have a lot of pep on the uphills but I feel like I gave it an honest effort.

Friday - Charlestown, RI - 5.8 miles

Amanda suggested that I let Ezri sleep in since she was up late, candy drunk from her Halloween spoils.  It's been awhile since I ran in the wee morning hours but I got out the door at 5:30 AM.  Crazy warm and windy - it certainly didn't feel like the first day of November.  I took Mohawk Dr over to the nearby fancy homes, running the short hills and forever chasing Strava elevation.  The warm humid air soon had me sweating and I enjoyed this early morning run.

Saturday - 0 miles

Sunday - Burlingame, Charlestown, RI - 11 miles

Met up at daybreak at the Watchaug Beach parking lot with Jeff, Mike B, Chris, FiveK and Muddy along with a couple other local runners in order to run the upcoming Li'l Rhody course.  Pace was easy and the conversation was fun.  After completing the Vin Gormley loop, we ventured over to the Kettle Pond trails to check out a new observation tower.  I've had very little experience with these trails.  There's some fun singletrack and smooth wide paths.  The observation tower is pretty sweet - brand new with great views of the coast and Block Island.  I'll definitely be bringing the girls out here.

Weekly Mileage: 36.6 miles

Year to Date: 1,497.7 miles

Monday, October 28, 2013

Charlestown FOP 5k 2013

Official time: 17:57.  5th Overall.  1st Age Group.  Results here.

This race snuck up on me.  A super flat race held at Ninigret Park here in Charlestown, it's only five minutes away and always holds the promise of a fast time.  Back in 2010 it was my first race since I had gotten back into running.  I had run it last year after taking a year off from the race and smashed my 5k time, taking 2 minutes off my previous PR.  Since then I had only managed to take another 2 seconds off my PR but I had a feeling that if I ran well I'd be able to trim it some more today.

It was a beautiful crisp fall day and the warm-up with the WTAC crew took care of any lingering chills. This was my first race wearing the New Balance 730s and I was interested to see how they would feel. I lined up alongside the usual suspects and then we were off, chasing the police truck. I took off fast - faster than I should have and found that I was initially right behind Jonny. I eased off a bit and settled into sixth position.

I looked at my watch and saw I was running at about a 6:10 pace. Now I was going too slow. I heard footsteps behind me for a while but they faded by the 1 mile marker. I hit the first mile in 5:45 which was right where I wanted to be so I guess the too fast/too slow pace ended up working.

The second mile was my slowest at 6:08. I could still see Jonny in 3rd place off in the distance. Jeff was in 4th and a guy in a FuelBelt jersey that had been running close to him was dropping back. There's a brief section where we turn onto old Route 1 before heading back into Ninigret - I looked back and saw that I had a good amount of lead over 7th.

The last section of the course is a lap around the bike track and the headwind hit me as soon as I entered it. I also had caught up to FuelBelt guy. I passed him pretty easily and we wished each other well. At the 2.1 mile mark I looked at my watch - 12:30. A 6 minute last mile would give me a PR and I began to push it. I was running out of steam as I came out of the bike track and I was still paranoid about someone passing me. I made the last turn and saw the clock at 17:50. I did the whole arm-flailing exaggerated sprint thing and crossed the line at 17:57.

A PR by 43 seconds! Good enough for 5th overall and 1st in the Open age group. A big day for WTAC all around. FiveK in 2nd, Jonny in 3rd and Jeff in 4th. Matt Walker and Mike B in the top 10. Big PR for Crutch as well. I'm very pleased with how I ran. I think the initial fast start was important to give me a good position and keep me close to the front pack and then I was able to maintain (more or less) until the bike track where I unloaded everything I had. Shoes felt good - I'll be using these for all my road races.

Chris G. came to cheer us on which was very nice of him. Did a short cooldown with the guys and then enjoyed the food (orzo, grilled chicken and salad - a nice change of pace from the usual post-race fare.) Regional speedster Will Sanders easily got the win and even set a new course record. I got a medal for Age Group and then I got seconds of food. A fun local race.

17 minutes and 57 seconds. 37 seconds to catch Seth 1.0.

A fine contingent of WTAC came out today
Photo by Jana Walker

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Weekly Log: 10.21.13 - 10.27.13

Monday - Smithfield, RI - 6 miles

My back feels better than yesterday but my calves are still pretty tight from our weekend hike. The soreness wasn't enough to keep me off the trails and I ventured out into the woods around Fidelity. A thick covering of leaves made the trails difficult to see at times. I wore my Cascadias and plan to keep wearing them on all my trail runs for a while to give Janky Toe a chance to heal up.

Tuesday - Hopkinton, RI - 4.3 miles

Ab Ripper X (15 minutes)

Ouch. I was gung ho to get back to some P90X workouts but I should have given my back more time to recover from the strenuous hike. It definitely feels worse post-Ripper and some of that initial pain has returned. Live and learn - Amanda has the right idea by taking several days off to recover.

After making my back feel worse I questioned the wisdom of an evening run, especially since it was raining as I left the office. But there was no rain in Hopkinton (just an otherworldly pink 'n purple sunset) and as soon as I started running my legs felt great. Back felt okay, so long as I didn't try to turn my head too much to the left.

The miles ticked off quickly and I was pleased how fresh my legs felt. At home I pulled the trigger on the Charlestown FOP 5k at Ninigret this Sunday. Looking forward to seeing if I can knock my PR down a bit.

Wednesday - 0 miles

I had already planned to take it easy today and waking up with a super stiff back confirmed that this was the right decision. I'll stick to the running this week since it doesn't seem to aggravate it but I'll forgo any more P90X until it's better.

Thursday - Smithfield, RI - 6.6 miles

I considered the idea of running at the Bryant track but I'm a chump and couldn't summon the will to do a speed workout. I still parked up at Bryant and decided to run around Stump Pond, throwing in some 1/4 race pace intervals to count as my "speed work" for the day. It was cold when I started and dressed too warm with a tech shirt and a long sleeve shirt plus hat and gloves. After a couple miles I ran the first interval and felt awful. No pep whatsoever and I was struggling to maintain the pace. Bah. I bailed on the rest of my chumpy speed work and just ran around the pond, getting slower as I went. Finished up the run in the Bryant woods and campus. Definitely not a good run - I felt tired throughout. Oh well, I'll hit the woods tomorrow for some redemption.

This morning I had asked Ezri whether I should run roads or trails. She said trails. Guess she was right.

Friday - Wolf Hill, Smithfield, RI - 6.1 miles

That's more like it. I hit the trails of Wolf Hill on a beautiful fall day. My hands were freezing for the first couple miles but then they warmed right up. I passed two people walking dogs. The first guy had terrific control of his little beast. He told the dog to sit and it sat quietly as I ran by. Guy smelled like he was having a mellow time in the woods if you catch my drift. Far out man. Then I ran by a lady with a bigger but still pretty well-behaved dog. However she was taken aback when I passed her because she was watching a television program on her goddamn iPad. Turn off the Housewives for a bit lady and enjoy the autumn woods!

Saturday - 0 miles

I've had some calf tightness for the last few days so I'm taking it easy today.  My back also still doesn't feel right.  Plenty of puttering to do around the house to keep me busy.

Sunday - Charlestown FOP 5k - 7.6 miles

Big PR.  Official time: 17:57.  5th overall.  Report forthcoming.


Weekly Mileage: 30.5 miles

Year to Date: 1,461.1 miles

Great race at Ninigret to cap off the week!  My body is still out of sorts from our backpacking exodus last weekend but hopefully next week I'll be able to shake my upper back woes.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Carter Notch Trip Report - October 18th & 19th, 2013

After a fun solo trip up Stairs Mountain back in July during Vacation Awesomesauce, Amanda expressed interest in joining me on a White Mountain adventure.  I soon hatched a plan for the two of us to stay at the Carter Notch Hut during the offseason, making it a lot cheaper and giving us time to prepare for the trip.  And preparation we would need as we'd be hauling sleeping gear, clothes and all our food.  We knew the heavy packs would be taxing so we wore them while walking the dog, getting used to the weight.

The plan was to head up to NH after work on Thursday and stay with friends in Dover. That morning, Amanda tweaked her back badly trying on the pack and by the time I picked her up after work she was walking gingerly.  We were really bummed because we had both really been looking forward to this trip and now it looked like hiking for Amanda was not possible.  We drove up to Dover anyway since the kids were taken care of and we had Friday off.  After a night of drinks and laughs, Amanda woke up feeling much better and we decided to make a go of it.

We took the Nineteen Mile Brook trail in to the hut.  It's almost four miles and the grade is very manageable throughout.  Still the heavy packs took their toll on us and we broke for snacks and rest at regular intervals.  The foliage in this part of the Whites was well beyond its peak and a thick blanket of leaves littered the lower portion of this trail.  The trail's namesake ran alongside most of its stretch and we crossed several bridges, ranging from well built to slippery log crossings.

The brook was our constant companion

Halfway to the hut
0.3 miles to go!
Finally we reached the Notch after about three hours and came upon two small ponds.  Up in the mountains, the serenity of these ponds was impressive.  Definitely had a great vibe about them.  Just beyond the ponds we arrived at the Carter Notch Hut.  We checked out the main hut - nice kitchen with running water, electricity and all the amenities.  Completely off the grid.  The bunkhouses are separate from the main hut and just above it on the hillside.  Each bunkhouse has four rooms with 4-6 beds each.  No heat in the bunkhouses.

They fish trout out of these small ponds
We made it!
Taking stock of the hut
A shitload of propane
We had our pick of the bunkhouse
Caretaker Bill showed up a hour after us.  He was a twenty-something out of college.  Nice guy.  We found out that we were the only guests for the night.  I thought there'd be more but I guess everyone was coming on Saturday instead (they had a full house of forty guests.)  So we had the run of the kitchen for dinner and breakfast. A couple of Bill's friends hiked up later using headlamps and they showed us how it's done, carting in pasta, eggs and bacon amongst several other tasty foodstuffs. Their dinner put our simple meal to shame.

For Day 2, the original plan was to leave the hut and follow the Carter-Moriah trail over several peaks to the Imp Trail, which we would then take down to Route 16.  This would have been an ambitious goal for us in top form.  With Amanda not at 100%, we opted to just climb Carter Dome sans heavy packs and then return the hut.  This proved to be the smart move as the initial climb up to Carter Dome is dreadfully steep and gave us a helluva workout.  I can't imagine us trying to climb that first steep section with the big packs.

My alpaca sweater allows me to be both fashionable and warm

Crappy picture of the awesome stove
Banana Oatmeal and Turkey Spam for breakfast
Tuckered out after Day One
After 20 minutes of steady climbing, we were finally rewarded with some fantastic views of the Notch.  The hut and bunkhouses could be seen in miniature, with the propane tanks glistening white.  Years ago a rockslide created a massive rock garden near the huts - from above it could truly be appreciated.  The trail moderated after the initial steep section and the rest of the ascension wasn't nearly as taxing. After about an hour we reached the summit and I bagged my 22nd NH 4000'. Looking at my guidebook, the last 4000' I bagged was Mt. Hale back in 2002. It has been a while!

The summit of Carter Dome is wooded but it still afforded good views of the Carter ridge, which includes Mt. Hight, South and Middle Carter.  The presidentials could also be seen from the right angle.  After some sights and snacks we began to cool off so we made our way back down to the hut.  It was faster going down but once we hit the initial steep section, care had to be taken.  I had dropped my water bottle on the way up and it had bounced behind us into the woods.  On the way down I caught a glimpse of its blue metal and was able to retrieve it.  Success!

Carter Dome - 9th highest peak in the Whites
You can see the huts just above the smaller pond

Back at the hut, we had some lunch and repacked our bags for the trip to the car.  These trails clearly get a lot more traffic on the weekend - a group of ten or so stopped at the hut for lunch and to check out the building.  Grudgingly we donned our heavy packs (though a little lighter from reduced food supplies) and headed back down the Nineteen Mile Brook Trail.

The trip down went faster but it was taxing.  The packs still weighed a good amount and the downhill really beat up our legs.  We passed lots of hikers heading up.  Some looked like they were out for the day but we went by a large contingent of boy scouts who were staying at the hut that night.  Amanda and I were very glad that we had the place to ourselves rather than endure a crowded hut full of teenage boys.

We arrived at our car not a moment too soon and we were awfully glad to slide the backpacks off for the last time.  Yesterday when we had arrived at the trailhead there was probably only four cars. Now there must have been at least thirty, with plenty of them parking down the road a ways. I had read that this place fills up on the weekend and now I believe it. And so we began the long trip back to Rhode Island.  We stopped halfway in Dover for dinner and then drove the rest of the way home.

The next day I woke up with sore calves and serious pain in my upper back.  Amanda is pretty much sore all over.  I'm still impressed that after hobbling around on Thursday she was able to don the pack and climb that mountain.  She is incredible and I was so happy to have my best friend share this adventure with me.  I've already begun to think about our next trip.  A big thank you goes out to our friends and family who took care of the girls while we were gone which allowed us to make this adventure possible!