Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Portables Redux

I've made a couple of new batches of some of the snacks I've blogged about and I wanted to post some updates.

I made some more Banana Honey rice balls.  Last time I used a mold that was too big.  I wanted to make 'em smaller but I also wanted to ramp up the banana taste.  So I used two bananas instead of one and a smaller mold.  The combination was probably too much - I ended up with 32 rice balls!  I'm happy with the hightened banana flavor and they are certainly more portable than the last batch.  The only drawback is that with the smaller size I'll need to carry more to get the calories I'm looking for.

New stats: Calories 50 / Carb 11 / Fat 0 / Protein 1

I also made another batch of the Mochiko Krispies.  I overcooked the mix in the previous attempt so I was careful not to microwave it as long this time.  I also used a kitchen tool to keep the krispies on one side of the pan, making the bars thicker.  While squishy at first, they hardened up after some time in the freezer.  They're a bit grainy but even with less chocolate chips they are super chocolaty.  Because I made four instead of six they are a high calorie snack so you've got to earn these.

New stats: Calories 317 / Carb 49 / Fat 12 / Protein 3

Monday, July 29, 2013

Blessing of the Fleet 2013

Time: 1:03:55.   79th out of 2706 overall.  13th out of 295 in Age Group.  Results here.

The Blessing of the Fleet is a 10 mile road race that takes place on a Friday evening in late July in Narragansett.  Tons of people run it, there's a seafood festival at the finish line, great crowd support and it's usually a humid, sticky affair.  After last year's sopping wet delay and subpar performance I didn't think I'd be gung-ho to run it again.  However as the 2013 race drew closer I decided to take another go.  Last year I ran it in 1:17 and I knew I was capable of much more.  After hitting 1:14 in the Run with the Beaver trail race earlier this month, I decided to shoot for 70 minutes.  Jonny pushed me to go for 65 minutes and I decided to take a shot at it - 6:30 miles would do the trick.

I left work early and took a long roundabout way in order to avoid the maddening traffic.  I ended up getting there with plenty of time to spare and was able to relax for a bit.  It was raining as I got ready but it tapered off shortly thereafter and the conditions ended up being just about perfect - cool, overcast and not too humid.  Much better than last year.  I did a short warm-up that brought me to the starting line.  With almost 3,000 runners it's pretty goofy that they don't close the road until three minutes prior to the start but there you have it.  Once the starting line tape went up, everyone scrambled to get a decent position.  I saw Gunshow but didn't see any of the WTAC folks.  Almost as soon as the tape went up it went down and then the race began.

I tried to keep the pace in check at the start but it was tough with the adrenaline and all the speedsters.  I ended up running the first mile at a 6:04 pace.  Way too fast!  I eased off as we made our way down Ocean Road and settled into a rhythm with the surrounding runners.  Second mile clocked in at 6:30 - right where I wanted to be.  They had big red digital clocks for every mile of this race and I quickly became obsessed with them, calculating how much time ahead of goal I was.

At 3.5 miles, a pack of high school runners went by, chitchatting and being all awesome.  Goddamn younglings - they weren't even working that hard.   I let 'em go and instead focused on my pace - which was actually now in the 6:20 range.  I was keeping ahead of the my goal time but questioned if I'd be able to maintain it for another six miles.  I decided to just keep it up and if the wheels came off, so be it.  Turning off of Ocean Road, a guy shouted that I was in 90th place.  Top 100!  Now I just had to keep it.  The last corner as we turned onto Route 108 was packed with people and though I know Muddy hates this stretch, it actually invigorated me and helped me push.

At least for a while.  Route 108 drags on and on and by now we had caught up to the walkers (they started an hour before us.)  Most of them were out of the way on the sidewalk but occasionally there would be a few in the road and I'd have to swerve around them.  Aggravating.  As the long stretch of Route 108 wore on, I recorded my slowest mile at 6:37.  I had passed several people over this section and only one or two guys overtook me.  Just before mile 6, I looked over at the latest overtaker and there's Gunshow.  Together we pass a couple more guys and finally leave Route 108 in favor of Old Point Judith Road.

Four miles to go and I'm working to hang with Ben.  He's getting a lot of support from spectators - everyone seems to know him.  Man of the People, that guy.  I hang with him for about a mile and then I drop back as it's starting to feel like too much.  Now on Kinney Ave, we finally hit the neighborhoods where the crowds grow and the end approaches.  I'm starting to get psyched - my pace is still in the 6:20s and even if I drop to 7 minute miles I'd still hit 65 minutes.

The stretch of road that takes us past the starting line was the worst of the run as I was anxious to wrap the race up.  A guy with a great beard pushed past me looking strong and I gave him encouragement.  Turning onto Avice Street, I pull even with Gunshow and we pump each other up as we turn onto Kingstown Road for the last mile.  Ben clearly had a bit more left than me as he moved ahead on this last section which is thankfully downhill.  A little fellow in an orange shirt passed me as well but I was already motoring and watched him pull away.

Now on the last stretch, I passed some spectating friends who gave me encouragement and I pushed hard down towards the finish, lungs burning.  I passed one more guy who looked like he was struggling and was beginning to gain on Gunshow.  Two guys pulled up next to me and I heard one of them say, "do you want to take it?"  I think they were just using this as a training run and not giving it their all.  Screw that, no way they were going past me - I hammered it and pulled ahead of them, finishing just behind Gunshow.

So I finished in under 64 minutes and was absolutely thrilled.  I guess from now on it's In Hammett I Trust as once again he sized up my potential correctly.  Met up with the WTAC guys and learned of their successes - Muddy ran a sub 59, Jeff paced his son Matthew to a sub 68 minute PR and Mike B experienced the craziness of this race for the first time.  And who was the last runner to cross in under an hour?  None other than David Principe Jr, the young Tuesday Night Turtle who thwarted us at every turn in the winter trail series.  This was a strong night for everyone.

Here are my splits:
Mile 1 - 6:04
Mile 2 - 6:30
Mile 3 - 6:23
Mile 4 - 6:21
Mile 5 - 6:27
Mile 6 - 6:37
Mile 7 - 6:25
Mile 8 - 6:22
Mile 9 - 6:22
Mile 10 - 6:01

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Weekly Log: 7.22.13 - 7:28.13

Last full week of July?  What in the wide wide world of sports is going on around here?  My big toe is pretty sore after last week's self-inflicted stupidity so I'll be taking it easy to begin the week because you know what's comin' on Friday:

That's right, it's time for the Blessing of the Humidity, er Fleet. I'm looking forward to the race despite the madness that accompanies this event (or perhaps because of it.) Last year I ran it in 1:17 - looking back I was probably underperforming. Considering that I just ran the Beaver 10 mile trail race in 1:14, I hope to break 70 minutes on Friday. We shall see.

Also this weekend is Amanda's second triathlon - the Crabman! I'm looking forward to cheering her on as well as all the WTACers that will be competing.

Monday - 0 miles

Ab Ripper X (15 minutes)

Tuesday - 0 miles

P90X Back & Biceps (60 minutes)

Dare I say that I'm really starting to enjoy this workout.  At first these arm exercises really didn't do much for me but I'm beginning to pick the right weights and it's making for a challenging and fun session.  I need to get some 15 and 20 pounders though as the adjustable dumbbells are a pain to change mid-workout.

Wednesday - 0 miles

P90X2 Yoga X2 (65 minutes)

My buddy sent me a copy of the P90X2 Yoga and I was excited to try it.  The original Yoga is often criticized for being too long at 1:30.  This one clocks in at just over 65 minutes.  Some of the balance poses are gone, there's about half as much ab work and the movement poses are much faster.   I like it.  Reminded me much more of the power yoga class I took a few months back.  The movement and balance postures are mixed together throughout which makes the whole session more interesting.  I'm looking forward to becoming more familiar with this workout.

My big toe's doing much better.  It still hurts if I bend it the wrong way but if I'm just walking around it's much less noticeable.  I plan to return to the trails tomorrow and then take on the Blessing on Friday.

Thursday - Fidelity trails, Smithfield, RI - 7 miles

Back on the train after four days off!  Today was the perfect day to run after the last few weeks of heat and humidity - cool, overcast and not a deer fly in the sky.  I ran the trails behind Fidelity and was pleased to see that the ATV trails had been recently maintained.  They made for very open and smooth run.  I noticed lots of what looked like wild blueberry bushes.  I was tempted but having no experience with wild fruit thought better of it.  I managed to discover another decent length of singletrack on the other side of the hilly and open gasline section.  I love how after all this time I'm still finding new trails to explore up here.

I ran in my MT20s - not as minimal as the MT00s but I still questioned my choice as my toe felt sore to begin the run.   Soon enough I forgot about it though except for the occasional rough landing.  I think it'll be fine for tomorrow since I'll be wearing my cushy 890s.  Bring on the Blessing!


Friday - Blessing of the Fleet 10 Mile Road Race - 12.5 miles

Ab Ripper X (15 minutes)

Results here. 79th overall.  Official time: 1:03:55.  Race report here.

Saturday - DuVal & Browning Trails, South Kingstown, RI - 10.2 miles

I wanted to follow up yesterday's hard effort at the Blessing with another decent run to get used to running tired.  I parked at the Browning Woods parking lot and took Gravelly Hill Road to get the road section out of the way.  I ran the trails around the Perryville cemetery and then took the DuVal track to Sand Plains Trail.  I kept the pace as snappy as I could - my legs weren't too tired from the Blessing but it was hot.  I ran through the old folks neighborhood and then took the Heart trail over to the Browning loop, running most of it counterclockwise.  Finished the run by checking out some of the swanky houses on Moraine Court.  If my legs weren't tired after the Blessing, they are now.


Sunday - South Kingstown, RI - 1.3 miles

Went down to Matunuck this morning to watch Amanda swim/ride/run the Crabman.  I dropped my daughter and in-laws near the beach and then parked the car and ran back to the event.  She did a great job!  It's impressive to watch her in action knowing how much work she's put into it.  It was great seeing so many WTACers succeed -  Shira, Crutch, Tommy 5k and of course all of the Walker men.  A strong performance by GunShow as well.  Afterwards I ran another half mile, racing Amanda to the O-Mist.   I was fueled by dreams of mid-morning beer and breakfast but she was on her bike and easily bested me.  Fun start to the day.

Weekly Mileage: 31.1 miles

Year to Date: 1,020.9 miles

Monday, July 22, 2013

Garden Shots: Dog Days

It's hot out there folks and my garden successes and failures have been magnified in this oppressive heat.  Here are some recent photos from the yard...

My rain barrel set-up.  It ain't pretty or fancy but it gets the job done.  Sure I could run a hose from the house but then I'd be using our well water and taxing our well pump.  The rain barrel does a good job considering it has to move the water 75 feet to the garden.  Ah the power of pressure and gravity!

Here's the garden.  Lots of empty space as I just had harvested the garlic and pulled up the dying peas.  A less than stellar cucumber crop adds to the emptiness.

Squash and cucumbers wilt in the noon day sun.

Tomatillos are growing well and beginning to develop fruit.

My brussel sprouts on the other hand have been undone by worms.

My peppers were pretty sad for a while but they've finally found their mojo.


Ol' Owley protects the garden.

We're starting to pick the sun gold cherries.  Yummers.

The sad remains of my sunflower and foxglove armada.   The foxglove had their day in the sun but now their flowers are long gone, leaving dessicated husks behind.  As for my poor sunflowers - deer came in the night and ravaged them.  They left a few but my spirit was broken.  June bugs finished off the remaining ones while we were off on vacation.  There will be no glorious sunflower bounty this year.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Weekly Log: 7.15.13 - 7:21.13

Another week. And a hot one by all accounts. It should be a short work week for me so hopefully I can fit in some good runs towards the end.  Hydrate hydrate hydrate people!

Monday - Wolf Hill, Smithfield, RI - 5 miles

Ab Ripper X (15 minutes)

It had been a while since I've been to Wolf Hill and with the NipMuck slowly appearing on the horizon, I thought it best to get back to the hilly terrain that awaits me in October. It has hot already when I started the run at 8:45 AM and I was soon sweating. I wore my new running cap backwards and it helped keep the flies off my neck. Towards the end of the run, I was heading down from the quarry and navigating a tricky hill strewn with large loose rocks. I was moving at a good clip, using my arms for balance when BAM! A deer fly went right into my EYEBALL! Gah! I was taken off guard and could feel my ankle begin to roll. I crushed the bastard with my eyelids and luckily righted the ship. After their kamakaze attack failed, they then attacked en masse. The rest of the run was less than enjoyable, as the flies became relentless and I began to run out of steam from H3 (heat + humidty + hills.) I only ran five miles but it felt like a real workout.

Tuesday - 0 miles

P90X Legs & Back (60 minutes)

Hard to believe it's been over a month since I did this workout but there you have it. 77 degrees in the basement and it didn't take long to work up a sweat with this one.

Wednesday - 0 miles

Was supposed to do Yoga X this morning but I chumped out.  Maybe later in the week.  Just as well - after yesterday's L&B I'm walking like I just rode 20 miles on a horse.

Thursday -North Kingstown, RI - 7 miles

P90X Core Synergistics (60 minutes)

Haven't done this one in a while.  Fun workout with a lot of variety.  The basement provides little relief these days and I was pouring sweat by the end.  It also helped with my DOMS from Legs & Back which was still in full effect when I woke up.

I headed to my buddy Jay's house for band practice but got there early in order to run beforehand.  It was pretty oppressive but I had been drinking water all day and took Amanda's advice to spike my handheld with some electrolyte tablet.  It did the trick - I felt strong throughout the run.

However the deer flies were near unbearable.  I started down Snuff Mill Road and they began to attack me.  There's not even relief from these monsters on the roads anymore!  Since it was clear I'd be dealing with them for the whole run, I headed towards Rome Point figuring the ocean breeze might ward them off.  This turned out to be correct but first I had to pass through the forested section of RP where their numbers were legion.  Running the twisty turny singletrack amongst the skinny trees was my worst fly experience yet this year.  Just brutal.

When I finally made it to the beach there was some folks who had apparently set up camp, complete with a fire, clothesline and tents.  Um, okay.  I followed the beach until I could cross over to the powerline access road which I took back to Jay's neighborhood.  I came out at the bottom of Plum Point Road.  I decided to take a run at Jonny's segment on this brutal hill - that was, until I was about halfway up.  At this point I said, "to hell with this" and opted to just finish the run on a couple roads rather than kill myself in this humidity.

Which reminds me:  Hip Bobsha will be opening for Badfish at the O-Mist on Friday, August 2nd.  Get your tickets early as this will sell out!

Friday - Richards Trail / Burlingame Trails, Charlestown, RI - 6.9 miles

So hot, so humid.  I had the day off so after dropping off refuse at the dump I went and checked out Richards trail off of Route 2.  I ran on this last year when there was barely a trail there.  Now they at least have a full loop, though it's only about 1/3 mile long.  Soft, smooth singletrack in a pine forest.  Perfect for my newly purchased NB MT00s.  I did the loop several times in both directions to get 1.5 miles.  They got a good amount of land here so I'm looking forward to when there are more trails to explore.  Not sure when that's going to happen though.

I was going to head next to the Carter Preserve but changed my mind at the last minute and went to Burlingame, parking on King's Factory Road.  I enjoyed running in the MT00s so much that I kept them on, even though I knew the more technical trails of Burlingame might cause some foot discomfort.  I ran VG to Sammy C's then jumped on Schoolhouse in order to find the Secret trail (obviously I couldn't - I was on the wrong trail.)  Jumped back on VG and managed to find Secret from the other direction.

I was really feeling the heat now and the water bottle I was carrying was nearly empty.  My form began to suffer and I took a couple diggers.  At least there weren't a lot of deer flies.  Secret dumped me back on Sammy Cs and I took it back to VG.  I was almost back to the car when I took my 4th digger of the run - this one was the worst as I really jammed my left big toe.  The true minimalist shoes offered no protection and now hours later, it's pretty sore.  I don't think it's broken or anything but I'm not sure if I'm going to be up for tomorrow morning's long run.

Saturday - Burlingame, Charlestown, RI - 11 miles

Woke up to a sore toe that made me question even heading out the door.   Once encased in sock and Cascadias, I did a quick lap around the house.  Didn't feel great but didn't feel painful either.  I didn't want to bail on what sounded like a fun run so I downed some aspirin and headed out.

Met up with Jonny, Gunshow, new guy Ryan and another fellow Frank who was in town from Iowa.  We did the VG loop in addition to the trails south of the campground.  It was another hot, humid day and the pace was not very casual for me.  I kept up with the group for the first five miles then decided to ease off as it was starting to really feel like work.  They waited for me at Klondike Road and I was able to keep up and chat with Frank for a bit but it was wearing me out.

At the trail to North Camp, Jonny and Ryan headed south to add some miles and the rest of us kept going on Vin Gormley.  I think we were all feeling it at this point and ready to wrap it up.  The last couple miles felt like a real slog although it doesn't appear that my pace dropped all that much.  A dip in Watchaug afterwards was most welcome.

Sunday - 0 miles

Weekly Mileage: 30 miles

Year to Date: 989. 8 miles

Hot week of running with mixed results.  I enjoyed the group trail run to end the week but bumbling around Burlingame the day before and smashing up my toe was not desirable.  It doesn't feel great to walk around on so I may end up taking most of next week off from running to heal up for the Blessing.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Run with the Beavers 10 Mile Trail Race

Official time: 1:14:13. 5th overall out of 65. Results here.

I've been looking forward to this race for a couple months. I missed it last year due to its proximity to the Blessing but this year it was two weeks earlier so there was no conflict. I had never been on these trails and wasn't sure how I'd fair but I drove out there ready to race. It's a 10 mile race that takes place on a 5 mile loop. There was also an option to just do I loop but of course I was driving there for the ten.

And drove and drove. Chepachet is seemingly only a few feet from Connecticut and it was a long ride (by Rhode Island standards) to the race. It rained briefly on the way and the conditions were cool but not too humid when I arrived at the parking lot. Spoke briefly about the trails with Race Director Bob Jackman and photographer extraordinaire Scott Mason and then met up with the Super Hammett Brothers to warm-up on the last 1.5 miles of the course. I wore my MT20s for the warm-up but it was slippery and rocky out there so I decided to switch to my tanks (the Cascadias) for the race. I think this was a good choice as they have a little more traction and I was still slipping and sliding as it was.

Bob lined us up, gave a short recap of the course and then we were off. After a short trail and open field section, we came upon an uphill stretch of dirt road and already the field was spreading out. I was in sixth place and could see Greg Hammett taking off already with Johnny behind him. They were followed by guys in grey, yellow and white. Once we entered the woods I was right behind White Hat guy and could just see Yellow Shirt in the distance. Soon Yellow Shirt was no longer in sight and I couldn't hear any other runners behind us - it was just me and White Hat.

This race was advertised as intermediate in terms of difficulty and I'd say that's spot on - there were plenty of big rocks and technical spots to contend with. I think I handled them pretty well and they didn't affect my pace too much. I was working hard and felt it but figured that even if I slowed in the second half, I'd still have a cushion based on how spread out everyone was already.

I stayed behind White Hat for the first two miles. Suddenly he looked back and shouted "Go left!" I wasn't sure why since it looked like the trail went straight but then I realized we had hit the bog that Bob mentioned in the pre-race briefly. White Hat had gone right into it but his warning allowed me to skirt the edges. Now behind me, White Hat became chatty, telling us that he thought we could catch Yellow Shirt as he was young and probably went out too fast (little did he know this was Dave Merkt, member of the Shenepsit Striders and RD for the NipMuck Marathon this year.)

The two of us hydrated at the mid-loop water station and then continued on another long stretch of dirt road but White Hat's footsteps were growing fainter. He fell farther back over the next trail section and when I finally recognized the trails I had warmed up on, I was all alone. I'm glad I ran this final section in the warm-up as it contains lots of rocky footing and some deceptive hills. I passed Scott Mason snapping shots and spied Grey Shirt ahead of me. He was moving well on the hills and I soon lost sight of him again. The last section of trail is smooth and downhill which is a blessing but I tried to keep it in check. I was thrilled to be in sole possession of 5th place but there was another lap to go and I was still concerned about running out of gas.

I was feeling it as I began the long uphill dirt road that begins the second lap. I could see Grey Shirt up the road but he was farther ahead now. Clearly he had found another gear. Or I was losing speed. He entered the woods and I would not see him again. As I was about to do the same, I glanced back and saw no one. This pumped me up and I found renewed energy as I hit the trails.

I was alone for the rest of the race and even though I knew I probably had a couple minute cushion on 6th place, I recalled Jonny's blog from the 2012 race and felt like I was being hunted. I managed to get pretty soaked in the bog on my second pass but the water station hit the spot and the farther I went the more jazzed I was knowing that I had 5th place locked up. Starting the second lap I thought maybe I could break 70 minutes - not to be as I was at 1:10 at the start of the hilly section but I pushed it to finish in under 75 minutes and I crossed the line just after 1:14. White Hat finished 2.5 minutes after me. Greg Hammett dominated this race once again with 1:05 and Jonny destroyed his time from last year with a 2nd place time of 1:09!

Afterwards a short cool down, some pizza and a dip in the pond before a long drive up to Springfield, Mass. The Hammett Brothers took the team competition (and some tasty looking growlers.) Sadly with Jonny choosing blood over running club, WTAC only had two people running the 10 miler (Mike Crutchly finished strong in 1:43) but there's always next year. This was a terrific, challenging course and I'm very happy with my performance (and the lack of deer flies!) The Pulaski Park had great facilities and the pond was most welcome afterwards. I even scored a cool running hat from the swag table afterwards. I really enjoyed this race.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Beer Machine: Journey into the Unknown

My crazy Uncle Jimmy got me the Beer Machine for Christmas this year after I mentioned to him that I wanted to try homebrewing.  Upon opening the box I'll admit that I was more than skeptical about this thing's ability to brew beer.  Reviews on the internet did little to comfort me.  As I feared, it was not a product respected by many homebrewers and many people were unable to make a successful batch with it.  Still, this was a kingly gift and there was nothing to lose so I finally put it to the test.

First I assembled the contraption. 

Afterwards I filled it with water and tested for any leaks.  Then a thorough sanitizing process using water and bleach.

Unlike normal brewing there is no boiling involved.  The kit comes with a preboiled mix.  All you need to add water to the machine and then the mix.  Fill with more water up to the marker on the side and then add the yeast packet.  Screw the top back on and you're done.  It said to boil and then cool well water which would've taken a while so I just used spring water from gallon jugs.

There's a pressure gauge on the top and a PCV (pressure control valve) to release excess pressure.  Still the instruction manual warms you not to place the unit near "children or valuables."  Not exactly comforting so I stuck it in the unfinished basement in a big plastic tub.

Ten hours later and pressure is building.  Something is happening in there!

The basement is about as cool as it gets in this house but it's still not very cold with the furnace being nearby and all.  I read a useful tip on the internet - I froze a few water bottles and placed them in the tub with a lid.  This helped drop the temp from 79 to 75 degrees (it seems 75 is about the max you want anyway.)  Just have to switch out the bottles every so often.

As of noon on Day 2, the pressure's at 15 PSI and the fermentor smells like bread so the Beer Machine appears to be working as intended.

The kit came with a pilsner mix which is probably my least favorite style of beer but it's what I got so it's what I'm using.  The official Beer Machine mixes get pretty crummy reviews however I've learned that going forward I can just use the Beer Machine as a fermentor and use extract kits instead.  It would mean that I'd actual have to boil malts and add hops like a real homebrewer but the end result will be much better.  Sounds good to me!  First though we must see this initial batch through to the end.

Stay tuned for the continuing adventures of Seth and the Beer Machine.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Weekly Log: 7.8.13 - 7.14.13

Back to drudgery of work after a week in the White Mountains. There should be less running for me this week with familial obligations to contend with.  Just as well as I could use a minor taper before the Run with the Beavers 10 mile trail race on Saturday.

In other news, I finally pulled the trigger and signed up for the NipMuck Trail Marathon on October 7th. I'm not ready to attempt another road marathon - I want to stay in the woods! And having experienced the NipMuck last year, I like that I'll be going into this race knowing what to expect.

In even more race news, I recently learned that the Li'l Rhody Runaround and Mews Tavern 5k will be on consecutive weekends this November - now I don't need to choose!

Monday - Fidelity trails, Smithfield, RI - 5.1 miles

Ab Ripper X (15 minutes)

Holy heat and humidity! I ran one of my favorite trails up here and was feeling pretty wasted by the end. So hot! Luckily the deer flies weren't too awful. Cold shower in the locker room was excellent.

Tuesday - 0 miles

P90X Chest & Back (60 minutes)

I wasn't sure how this was going to go since the last two times I attempted C&B I had to quit early with elbow pain. This time was much better. Elbow popped a bunch near the beginning but then settled down and was fine for the rest of the workout. The numbers on my push-ups/pull-ups were down a bit but that's to be expected. Overall I was pleased just to make it through the whole thing.

Wednesday - 0 miles

P90X Yoga X (60 minutes)

With the dehumidifier running in the basement, it was 81 degrees when I started to Yoga.  Made for a great session - I felt loose throughout and worked up a good sweat.

Thursday - Charlestown, RI - 8 miles

P90X Back & Biceps (50 minutes)

I had the day off with Ezri and didn't think I'd be running but my wonderful mother-in-law came over with dinner and spent some time with Ez, giving me a chance to get a run in.  It was hot and muggy and I had no business feeling great but I was carrying a water bottle and the fastish pace came naturally.   I only planned on running six but the miles flew by and I ended up with eight.  A sweaty mess by the end.

Friday - Fidelity trails, Smithfield, RI - 4.5 miles

Ab Ripper X (15 minutes)

Short easy trail run before work this morning. Sun was actually out and it wasn't as humid as the past couple days. I used my NipMuck Buff headwrap thing and it worked great to ward off the deer flies. I just stuck it on my head and let the other end dangle behind me. Kept the flies off my head and neck and since I was moving they weren't getting into my eyes. Great success!

Saturday - Run with the Beavers 10 miles trail race - 13.7 miles

Official time: 1:14:13. 5th out of 65. Race report here.

Sunday - East Matunuck Beach, South Kingstown, RI - 3 miles

2nd week in a row that I ended the week with a short beach run. Actually I enjoy these - it's nice to give my feet a different feel with the barefoot running. And a dip in the ocean afterwards is nice.

Weekly Mileage: 34.4 miles
Year to Date: 959.8 miles

The weekday runs this week weren't anything particularly memorable, but the Beaver race on Saturday was a great time. This is also the 10th week in a row with 32+ miles which I'm really happy about. I think this kind of consistent workload is beginning to pay dividends. Now to ramp it up for NipMuck training!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Stairs Mountain

I was looking forward to doing a long solo hike while up in New Hampshire. I didn't want to tie up the car and I also didn't want to bother the girls with driving me to and from the trailhead. I ultimately hatched a plan to ascend Stairs Mountain by running to the trails and then hiking once the steep climbs began.

Since I was going solo, I wanted to make sure that I had all the supplies necessary to enter the backwoods safely. But I also didn't want to rely on my daypack since it would be cumbersome for the running sections. I had picked up a waist pack from EMS which I had tested back in Rhode Island. It seemed to work well and didn't move around too much so long as it was cinched tight. I wore my Brooks Cascadias, my racing singlet and carried water in each hand (along with another bottle in the waist pack.)

I woke up at 5:30 AM and hit the road around 6:00. The first mile was the paved downhill of Glen Ledge and the next three miles were on Jericho Road. I knew the ascent would begin almost immediately on Jericho but I was still surprised how steep the hills were at first. The first ascent was followed by a big downhill and then the uphill slog began again at a more manageable grade. After about a mile Jericho Road turned to dirt and at two miles I came upon a "Road Closed" sign.

I wasn't sure what to make of the sign but the road ahead looked fine so I skirted the gate and continued. From this point on until about mile six the Rocky Branch river was alongside the road/trail. It was flowing well from the recent rain and was splendid to look at. My pack began to aggravate my lower back but I realized that it was rubbing against my skin - I tucked my shirt into my shorts and that seemed to help. At 4.25 miles, just as I was beginning to wonder if I was on the right road, I saw brown trail signs ahead and knew I had finally hit the Rocky Branch Trail. But I also saw this:

Closed eh?

Hmm, I hadn't planned on this. There was construction equipment about and I wondered what I would find ahead. Still, I hadn't just run four miles up here for nothing. How bad could the damage be? I took the bridge over the Rocky Branch (hoping this wasn't the damage they were talking about) and continued on the dirt road which was now the Rocky Branch trail.

Another big dozer and a giant pipe lay in the middle of this road but after about 1/3 mile the trail began in earnest and I entered the woods. Finally I was actually trail running, with rocks and streams to contend with. At 1/2 mile, I encountered my first major water obstacle, a rushing brook that took me a couple minutes to cross without getting wet. Soon after I came upon very wet sections of trail. And after that, another swelling waterway. I realized that if I was going to continue I was going to just deal with wet feet. I plowed through the brook and every water hazard I met after that. Hell, this is why I brought extra socks.

I was on the Rocky Branch trail for two miles and was able to run all of it as it only climbed about 300 feet over that span. At two miles, I came upon Resolution Shelter #1 and the Stairs Col Trail which I would take up to Stairs Mountain. In addition to the basic shelter, there were also some tent platforms right along the Rocky Branch river that would make for pleasant camping.

Rocky Branch Shelter #1

Once on Stairs Col Trail, the hiking began. In addition to steep grades, portions of the trail were also now waterways with tiny waterfalls here and there. Lovely to listen to, slippery to walk on. I was still able to run at points when the trail leveled off but they became few and far between. After about a mile, I stopped to have a snack and dunk my head in a stream - it proved the perfect break point because after that it was steep hiking the rest of the way.

Pine tree snapped, got snagged and now dangles 2 feet off the ground

Towards the top of Stairs Col, the slick rocks made proper foot placement more important. The trail doesn't end at the summit but rather in a dank forest between Mt. Stairs and Mt. Resolution. With ferns everywhere and sunlight streaming through the pines, it had a very ethereal vibe. It took me about 35 minutes to climb the Stairs Col Trail. Considering that the White Mountain Guidebook estimates that it should take an hour and 45 minutes, I think I made pretty good time.

From here, it was a short climb on the Davis Path before taking a fairly flat side trail to the Stairs Mountain summit. The summit is wooded however there is a side ledge which has great views towards Carter Notch. Below the ledge are the rocks which are known as Giant Stairs.

Forest beauty at the Stairs Col / Davis Path junction

Unfortunately I arrived to find the summit completely fogged in. There was nothing beyond the ledge but whiteness. I took off my soaked singlet, threw on a long sleeve shirt and sat down to eat my breakfast. After a few minutes the clouds passed and I was able to see some decent views before another cloud bank fogged the mountain in once again. I hung around up there for about twenty minutes, enjoying the views when I could before making my descent.

I considered heading over to check out the peak of Mt. Resolution but I decided to just head back down Stairs Col trail. It was only 8:30 AM and figured I'd be able to catch the girls before they headed out on the day's adventures. I took my time on the descent, with the slippery rocks and what-not. After a while the grades became more manageable and I was able to begin running the rest of Stairs Col and Rocky Branch.

Just before the clouds roll back in

Near the end of the Rocky Branch trail, I encountered a fellow trail runner heading into the forest. She remarked that she didn't think she'd see anyone else out here today. Soon after I hit the initial dirt road section of this trail and came upon a bunch of construction workers. One of 'em said, "watch out for the hole." He wasn't kidding. While I was up in the woods, workers they had dug a huge hole with the backhoe and placed the giant pipe inside. I scrambled over their work and continued back to Jericho Road.

Back on Jericho, the rest of the run was a slog. While the next two miles were downhill, I was tired and could feel my lower back being rubbed raw by the waist pack. The pack worked well for the hiking but it definitely needs more padding for running. With 2.5 miles to go, I decided to stop and change my socks. I could feel the beginnings of blisters and since the water hazards were behind, I figured better to be safe than sorry.

As I knew it would be, the last uphill mile on Glen Ledge Road was a cruel epilogue to this journey. But I pushed through and made it back just in time to join the girls on their trip to Wildcat. Despite the lack of great views at the summit, a fun if wet adventure.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Weekly Log: 7.1.13 - 7.7.13 - VACATION AWESOMESAUCE

Monday - Bartlett, NH - 8.5 miles

My wife thought I was crazy for getting up early to run after running twice yesterday.  But I figured it'd be good to start July off right.  And with the forecast for the week being spotty at best, I thought it best to get my runs in when I know the weather's decent.

Woke up at 5:30 and hit the road, making the 400 foot descent to Route 302.  I had it in my mind to try to steal one of Jeff Walker's segments he created this past winter. It takes a real bastard to steal a man's segment that he set in the dead of winter but I am such a bastard.  The run along Route 302 was pleasant with mountains all around and rivers passing underneath.  There was already a good amount of traffic at 6 AM - the people of New Hampshire are industrious folk mind you.

I made my way over to Highland Road and did my best to push it up the hill.  Tough work and I was wheezing by the top.  Great views up there - people that live on these hills have it going on.  I turned around and made my way back to the cabin, feeling pretty toasted.  I took it easy knowing that the last mile was a miserable uphill climb.  The final ascent wasn't as bad as I feared - I kept it around a 9 minute pace and while I was definitely work it didn't kill me.  I uploaded my data and confirmed that I had captured the segment in question.  Sorry Gazelle, all's fair in love and Strava.  I'll probably let you keep the other one you have near Attitash.  Probably.

We spent the day at Storyland and were very pleased that the rain held off all day.  It made for a temperate, crowd-free experience.  Since we made it the whole day there, Ezri was toast and we grudgingly agreed to put off our dinner at Moat Mountain Brewpub.  We were all looking forward to it but taking an exhausted four year old there would have been dicey at best.

Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA x1
Lagunitas Maximus x1

Tuesday - 0 miles

Cloudy but only slightly drizzly this morning so we took a hike to Diana's Bath where the water was roaring down the falls.  Definitely not a day to wander in for a swim.  Afterwards a delicious lunch at Moat Mountain.  I endorse their brisket sandwich.  Later on the rains finally came and we hit the strip for some shopping.  Picked up a sweet pair of NB MT00 at the New Balance outlet.

The falls were in high gear

Pocketing some trash left by scumbags

Moat Mountain Scotties IPA x1
Moat Mountain Matilda's Red Rage x1
Tuckerman Pale Ale x1
Lagunitas Undercover Investigation Shutdown Ale x1

Wednesday - Stairs Mountain trek - 17.1 miles

Ran from the cabin to the trails to make the ascent of Stairs Mountain.  Separate report to follow.

I got back from my journey faster than I thought and caught the girls before they were heading out for the morning.  I joined them for ziplining and a gondola ride at Wildcat.  Went back to the cabin for lunch and then hit up Jackson Falls for an afternoon "swim."  The water was moving fast at the falls and it was frigid.  Still we all were brave enough to jump in and submerge ourselves - it was very refreshing!  Went back to the cabin for a delicious fajita dinner then I eeked out a Catan victory.

Scene from Wildcat

Sethopolis for the win!

Tuckerman Pale Ale x1
Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA x1
Lagunitas L'il Sumpin Sumpin Ale x1
Tuckerman Headwall Alt x1

Thursday - 0 miles

We had a full day of fun planned for the 4th.  We started off in Bartlett for a quaint small town parade.  Then we made our way to North Conway for lunch.  Afterwards we boarded the train and took it first class to Bartlett and back.  By the time we got back to North Conway, the 4th of July festivities were in full swing in the park.  We set up our spot on the grass and spent the next few hours playing at the playground, listening to music and eating Ben & Jerry's.  They put on a great fireworks display and then we made our way through the traffic back to the cabin.  This was a great day all around!

Tuckermans Pale Ale x3
Moat Mountain Iron Mike Pale Ale Big Can x1

All aboard!

Fill me with beer and ice cream!


Friday - Franconia, NH - 4.3 miles

For our last full day in New Hampshire we decided to venture over to Franconia since we've never been there before.  Stopped at Clark's Trading Post for the obligatory souvenirs.  Amanda and I wanted to check out the Flume but the girls revolted so we went straight to Echo Lake (a different one) for swimming.

I took the opportunity to get in a short trail run in my new MT00s.  These things are definitely truly minimal with a zero heel drop.  Very similar to my Vibrams in that regard.  I found a nearby trail and took it up to Bald Mountain which had some great views of Mount Lafayette.  I only did four miles in the MT00s but my calves were feeling it by the end.  Explored some other nearby trails and then hit the water to cool off.  Spent some time with the girls at the beach while Amanda had a chance to check out Bald Mountain and then rains swept in from out of nowhere and we retreated back to our cabin.

Lagunitas Maximus x1
Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA x1
Tuckerman Pale Ale x1

Saturday - Bartlett, NH - 6 miles

This is it.  The end of vacation.  Tough to leave the mountains but I snuck out early for one more quick run before the packing/cleaning began.  I ran down to the Saco and skirted across the train tracks to follow the Saco for a bit.  I thought I was on some trails for the Glen Ellis Campground but it turned out to just be behind some local houses.  After wandering around in the woods I made my way back up that monster Glen Ledge hill one more time.  I'll miss being in the White Mountains but I can't say I'll miss that hill.


Sunday - East Matunuck Beach, South Kingstown, RI - 2.2 miles

Amanda dragged us to the beach this morning since it was going to be blisteringly hot.   None of us were really jazzed for it but once we got there we realized she was right - it was very pleasant down by and in the water.  I did a short barefoot run up and down the beach. 

Weekly Mileage: 38.1 miles

Year to Date: 925.4 miles

What a great week!  New Hampshire is an amazing place and I'm glad I was able to get some quality runs in up there.