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.