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!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Weekly Log: 10.14.13 - 10.20.13

Amanda and I are going on a backpacking trip to the Carter Notch Hut at the end of the week. Hopefully the weather cooperates but either way I'm excited. So probably not a lot of running this week but hopefully I'll get in a few P90X workouts.

Monday - Powder Mills Preserve, Smithfield, RI - 6.1 miles

It's Columbus Day and I have to work. Sigh. However the light traffic and early departure meant I could swing by the Powder Mills Ledges Preserve, a place I haven't run at in probably 8 months. It was a beautiful crisp fall morning. I had brought a hat which I didn't need but I wish I had remembered gloves! My hands were freezing for the first mile or so.

The preserve itself is rather small but I jumped on the powerline road and made my way over to some sporty dirt bike trails. On the dirt road I saw some wonderful views. From the clear high point, I could see blankets of fog covering the lower sections of the road in both directions. The sun was just beginning to rise above the trees which broke up the fog just so. A splendid moment.

Fallen leaves made the dirt bike trails really difficult to follow. Luckily those plucky dirt bikers tied lots of pink plastic ribbons to the trees along the path. Whenever I got stuck I just looked for those ribbons. By now I was nice and warm - gloves no longer missed.

Tueday - 0 miles

P90X Shoulders & Arms (50 minutes)

Back to the weights! I had a good upper body workout this morning. I was going to get in a short run in the early evening but my Janky Toe was acting up (it felt like pin pricks on the bottom of it. Nerve perhaps?) There's a high likelihood that I won't be running for the rest of the week which would make this my shortest mileage week and longest break from running since the year began. Crazy to think about it like that. And at any rate my legs (and whole body) will be getting a good workout on Friday/Saturday in the mountains so it's not like I'm taking it that easy.

Wednesday - 0 miles

P90X2 Yoga X2 (65 minutes)

It's been about a month and a half since I did any yoga. Far too long. So of the poses/moves were a struggle but I got through it.

Thursday - 0 miles

Amanda tweaked her back in the morning and our hiking trip is in jeopardy.  We still drove up to Dover, NH to stay with friends and will play it by ear in the morning.

Friday - Hiked to the Carter Notch Hut 

Amanda's back was better.  3.8 miles and 1,900 feet of elevation gain.

Saturday - Hiked Carter Dome and then back to the car

6.2 miles and 1,600 feet of elevation gain.

Sunday - 0 miles

Ouch.  My upper back is in some pain after the backpacking.  Hard to turn my head to the left.  Calves are pretty sore as well.  Me thinks I'll be taking it easy today.

Weekly Mileage: 6.1 miles

Year to Date: 1,430.6 miles

Lowest mileage week of the year.  I'd say that it's good to have a couple easy weeks but I'm feeling pretty beat up after lugging a heavy pack for two days.  S'ok as I had a great time hiking with my lovely wife.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Joe's Ancient Orange Mead

Mead.  I don't know much about it.  An old drink.  An ancient drink.  This was another recipe I got on the interwebs.  I noticed they were selling it at King Richard's Faire in tiny little cups and it's definitely got a vibe that says drink me before a roaring fire while plotting the doom of your enemies. This particular mead is a well known and very simple recipe that requires only supermarket ingredients, a gallon fermenter and time.  It's called Joe's Ancient Orange Mead (aka JAOM.)

The ingredient list is pretty basic.  3.5 lbs of honey, a large orange, a handful of raisins, a whole clove and one cinnamon stick.  Oh and basic bread yeast.

 The honey gets mixed with some warm water.

Once all the honey is mixed in, it goes into my super expensive high-tech fermenter.  The orange gets cut into eight pieces.

The orange slices are shoved into the bottle, rind and all.  Messy!

 There you go.  A jug full of honey, water and orange.

Now I add the raisins, cinnamon stick and clove.

I add more water, put the cap on the jug and shake it robustly.  Then a teaspoon of bread yeast is added.

All done.  The JAOM will now keep the Apfelwein company.

The recipe calls for leaving some headspace in the jug in case the fermentation is powerful.   Just as predicted, the fermentation began almost immediately.  Millions of little bubbles are constantly rising to the top.  I topped it off with water after a few days when I was sure the krausen wasn't going to be an issue.

It'll stay in the jug until it clears up and the fruit sinks to the bottom.  Then it'll get bottled.  By all accounts it can and should age for a long time (6 months to a year or longer) in order to really shine.  We'll see what comes of this concoction.  For the King!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Weekly Log: 10.7.13 - 10.13.13

With NipMuck in the rearview mirror, it's time for a couple of easy weeks. I have a feeling that my 30+ mile per week streak will be coming to an end and that's fine by me. Shorter races are on the horizon and other than a (hopeful) return to some speedwork, I don't feel any need to train in any particular fashion for them.

Monday - 0 miles

Oh yes, very sore. NipMuck did a number on my legs, my quads in particular. I make extra grunty old man noises every time I get up from a chair. Also a lot of soreness in my upper back which I didn't expect. The DOMS got progressively worse as the day went on but it's a price I'm happy to pay as I'm still on Cloud 9 from yesterday.

Tuesday - Hopkinton, RI - 4 miles

A lot of the soreness has faded and I opted for a short run in the evening.  Briefly explored some dunes on the far side of the golf course but then stuck to roads for the rest of the run.

Wednesday - 0 miles

Ab Ripper X (15 minutes)

I think my NipMuck performance was not only the result of lots of trail miles but also the consistent P90X work that I put in this year.  I hadn't done as much as the marathon approached but now that it's over I intend to get back into my regimen.  At night we finished off the apple pie.  Yummy.

Thursday - 0 miles

Didn't have time to run and I had no desire to do a workout this morning.  This week I'm eating a lot of crap and taking it easy as a just reward for my efforts.  Just gotta make sure that I get back into my routines next week.  The Blood Drive came to the office today which was perfect timing since I'm having an easy week.  I did my part and donated so cheers to me.

Friday - Smithfield, RI - 4.7 miles

Classic autumn run in the woods around Fidelity. The air was crisp, leaves were falling, covering the singletrack and the smell of woodsmoke was in the air. An enjoyable easy run except that I took a digger near the end and re-aggravated my left big toe. It's never fully healed from when I smashed it over the summer and it's been a thorn in my side ever since. A few hours later and it feels normal again but I know it'll have to be addressed at some point.

Saturday - Grills Preserve, Hopkinton, RI - 10.1 miles

Big WTAC early morning group run with Jonny, Jeff, Muddy, FiveK, Mike B and Chris G.  It was fun catching up with everyone and chatting up last weekend's races.  We ran the perimeter of the southern Grills before crossing the mystical silver bridge.  We ascended up to the forbidden vista and then took the rocky, technical trail to the non-existent bridge.  But wait!  Foundations are finally in place for this long-awaited bridge and the swamp was actually dry enough to run through without fear of submersion.  Muddy was unnaturally excited about this forthcoming architectural wonder.  Most of the group took the roads back to the parking lot but Muddy, Jonny & I retraced our steps back through the trails.  Looking forward to more of these group adventures as fall wears on.

Sunday - 0 miles

Weekly Mileage: 18.8 miles

Year to Date: 1,424.5 miles

And so the 30 MPW streak ends.  I had a good run (22 consecutive weeks I think) and now need to focus on getting my janky big toe healthy so that it doesn't interfere with the fall/winter races.

Monday, October 7, 2013

NipMuck Trail Marathon 2013

Official time: 3:42:51.  3rd out of 136.   Results here.

Finally the NipMuck trail marathon was here.  I outlined my goals in last week's log and was ready to get to work.  Met up with Jonny in Hope Valley at 5:45 AM and we drove together to the race, talking race strategy and whatnot.  By the time we arrived the rain was a steady drizzle and any hopes of a precipitation-free race vanished.  After picking up our bibs we hunkered down in Jonny's car to get ready while avoiding the rain.

Jonny and I ready for business.
Photo by Mike Crutchley

Race director Dave Merkt gave an overview of the race and then we all headed down the road to the makeshift starting line.  Most people didn't seem to keen to tow the line so I lined up next to Jonny and eventual winner Chris Hayhurst.  An abrupt shout from Merkt and then we were off!

I entered the woods behind Jonny and Chris and for a moment I was worried the wet leaf-laden trail would make for a slow treacherous run.  But I got a feel for the trail quickly and settled into my pace, watching Jonny pursue Chris off into the distance.  Still, I was in third place which was a bizarre place to find myself.  A group of 4-5 people were not too far behind, chatting up their recent ultras.  They didn't seem to be overtaking me - was I going too fast?  My pace seemed easy but a marathon is a long race. I thought back to the Spring Classic and how that easy pace became anything but.  One member of the group behind me (Stanislav Trufanov) finally passed me around mile three.  Any moment and the rest of them will go by me, I thought.  But he was the only one and I found myself close behind him and Jonny as we reached the southern turn-around.

The NipMuck is comprised of two out-and-backs so it gives you a chance to see everyone that's ahead/behind you.  Heading back towards the start and as I passed folks I noticed how spread out the field had already become and how far ahead I was.  Again I wondered if I was going too fast but it didn't feel that fast so I kept up with Stanis.  After a couple of staggered bathroom breaks I found ahead of Stanis and his footsteps faded before we reached the Start/Finish aid station.

The rain had moved out by the time I arrived at this not-quite-halfway aid station and I wasted little time in filling my handheld and grabbing some food from my drop bag.  I heard the aid workers cheering for the approaching Stanis as I headed out on the northern section and tried to maintain the same pace.  The northern half has the painful elevation and I stuck to my strategy of power hiking any of the steeper hills to conserve energy.

I was still feeling good.  My calves were beginning to ache a bit and unlike my last NipMuck run I was completely alone for this entire stretch.  My pace hadn't slowed much and it wasn't until I reached the last few soulcrusher hills that my pace began to waiver a bit.  There's one hill in particular that's a Crusher of Dreams and just before I reached it Chris Hayhurst flew by me, looking sharp.  I pushed on, knowing that I was nearing the stairs down to Boston Hollow.  Jonny came running past, looking deadly serious and he shouted words of encouragement. A few moments later I arrived at the steep wet staircase that led to Boston Hollow Road aid station.
I grabbed some food and water and quickly made my way back up the stairs.  It was another minute or two before I passed Stanis and now I was pumped at the lead I had over 4th.  Last year this seven mile stretch was an exercise in brutality.  This year I felt great.  I had been in third for most of the race but it wasn't until this last stretch where I really felt like I could keep it.

It was raining again.  Harder than before.  I began to pass more and more people still making their way out to Boston Hollow.  I tried to give all of them a Good job or Nice work.  They were going to be out there a while and the conditions were getting worse.  Approaching the last aid station at Iron Mine, I passed Crutchley and gave him a high five.  "I'm running out of my mind," I told him and that's how I felt. I couldn't believe how good I felt and how fast I was still moving.

Last year, this short road section of the course was where the wheels really began to come off. The rolling hills of the dirt road had reduced my movement to a plod. This year I was able to maintain a decent jog up these hills - until the last one which is hideously steep. I definitely walked slowly up that one. But I was able to jump right back into a decent pace when I got to the top. Last year I essentially had to throw myself forward to start jogging again.

The last two miles of trails were a sloppy mess with water pooling all over the place. At this point the rain and mud didn't phase me at all and I plowed right through it. Just before the finish there are a couple devilish hills that reduced my pace to a crawl. I dragged myself up them, using a tree at one point for leverage. At the top of the last hill, I had a deja vu moment from last year, looking back for potential rivals. There was nothing but rain and leaves behind me and I motored it down the last section of trail, a few intrepid folks cheering me on a couple hundred feet from the finish line.

So I crossed the finish line in 3rd place in just under 3 hours and 43 minutes. Thirty minutes faster than last year. I'm still completely amazed by my race and not quite sure how I did it. While I was faster overall it was the second half of the race where I really improved over 2012. Here's some comparison to last year:

Improvements across the board but it was the last 7 mile stretch that really shows the difference. I was much stronger in the last leg, jogging/power hiking up hills this year that left me hunched over and exhausted in 2012. I've put a lot of miles on my legs in the last year (and lots of trail miles especially) and it paid off in spades.

Jonny had a great race and finished in second place! Mike Crutchley battled the elements and his own doubts and finished 30 minutes faster than last year. Afterwards I ate some chili and then collected my prize - an apple crisp pie! I had told people at work that the winners of this race received pie and they thought it was a pretty lame award. However I was absolutely thrilled to get one because it meant that I accomplished something I'd have never thought possible.

Thanks to the Shenipsit Striders for putting on a great race and all the volunteers who manned the aid stations in crappy conditions. Their positive motivation and attitudes helped push me along!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Weekly Log: 9.30.13 - 10.6.13

NipMuck week is here (how'd that happen?) I feel good. Feel like I'm ready to improve handily on last year's performance. As runners often do, I've devised three goal posts for this race, from blindingly optimistic to very manageable.

A Goal: PR in the marathon. Sounds crazy to think about a marathon PR on NipMuck right? Well my first road marathon back in May 2012 is still technically my fastest at 3:56:52. It's not entirely out of the realm of possiblity that I could run under that on Sunday. It'd be tough as hell - but that's why it's my A goal.

B Goal: Sub-4 hours. This is the one I really want to achieve. It's really only three minutes slower than the A goal but those three minutes could be an eternity out on the trail. This would involve running every mile 30 seconds faster than last year - a goal that I think is achievable.

C Goal: Beat last year's time of 4:12:09. This is my fallback goal and should be no problem, barring any injuries/issues. The only question is how many minutes I shave off last year.

Monday - 0 miles

Ab Ripper X (15 minutes)

I skipped the morning run in order to hit up my company's health & wellness screening before work. They were offering flu shots and I was on the fence about getting it with only six days until NipMuck. I kept going back and forth but ultimately decided to just get it done. I know I'm just being paranoid but I hope I don't regret this decision.

Tuesday - Black Farm, Hopkinton, RI - 5.1 miles

Having not run since Saturday, I wanted to do a short evening run to shake out the legs. Ran from the SCMC parking lot into the nearby neighborhood. I felt pretty lethargic to start the run. I'm fat and slow, I thought. How will I ever run a marathon in the woods? I should've never gotten that flu shot! After about a mile the negativity faded and I realized it was just the mind playing tricks since I hadn't run in a few days. Decided to take the trails into Black Farm which was the right choice. The grass in the open field section was a brilliant purple color and the trees along the Woodville River have begun to turn. I finished the run on the same neighborhood roads but my head was in a much better place.

Wednesday - 0 miles

P90X Chest & Back (50 minutes)

Thursday - Bryant Trails, Smithfield, RI - 4.6 miles

For this short run, I decided to park at Bryant and explore a trail that branches off their woodland cross country course. I had begun to check it out previously but had to turn around due to time. I went further this time and as I suspected it eventually joined trails that I had ran back in March. Back then the snow hid the trail from me. Now the trail was very visible under a fresh blanket of fall leaves. It's always fun exploring new trails and connecting them to others.

Friday - Ryan Park, North Kingstown, RI - 3.4 miles

Nice easy loop around Ryan Park including a short road section. Felt a little slow but I took it easy and just enjoyed the fall colors. I'm as ready as I'm going to be for Sunday

I brewed an Imperial IPA in the evening.  Took longer than I anticipated to heat up/cool down the wort (confirming that 2.5 gallon batches are about all my electric glasstop stove can handle.)  I also rehydrated the yeast for the first time as well as attempt a late extract addition.  With everything going on it ended up taking a lot longer than I anticipated but I think it'll pay off in the end.  I'm calling it the Imperial Runner's High PA. (OG 1.08)

Saturday - 0 miles

Went to a bachelor party BBQ in the afternoon and had some fun with the boys.  Skipped the night's festivities since I'm racing tomorrow.  Came home to the fermenter bubblin' away.  Excellent.

Sunday - NipMuck Trail Marathon - 26.4 miles

3rd overall!  Unofficial time: 3:42.   Incredible race!  I bring forth the pie and make my children cry.  Report here.

Weekly Mileage: 38.8 miles

Year to Date: 1,405.7 miles