Thursday, February 27, 2014

Weekly Log: 2.23.14 - 3.2.14

Another week and hopefully another 40+ mileage one.  Yesterday I wiped out at the water park getting into one of the slides (of course it was my last run of the day) and skinned my left knee and ankle.  But it's my pinky toe that really hurts.  Hopefully it won't keep me off the roads this week as I'd like to get a good amount of miles in before I taper off for the Ocean's Run Half.  Speaking of which, I hope there are no issues with the race and parking.  TriMom has expressed concern about the existing snow/ice on the ground and with more snow and cold temps in the future I'm not sure that it'll be gone before the race.  We shall see.

Monday - Smithfield, RI - 8 miles

I parked at Bryant and ran the local roads at a decent clip.  Pinky toe felt fine and wasn't an issue.  Quads became sore around mile six.  I think yesterday's long run is the culprit.  It was only 14 miles but I pushed the pace on a bunch of segments in the quarter to half mile range.  That combined with the elevation was enough to wear 'em down.  So they were a bit sore but it didn't slow me down.  Otherwise I felt good and was happy with this run.  Good way to start off the week.

Tuesday - Charlestown, RI - 4 miles

Ab Ripper X (15 minutes) / 150 push-ups (standard/military/wide) 25/25/30/20/20/30

     "Barkeep," said the surly man.  "I'll have an order of Dog Jog and Ab Ripper with a side of push-ups."
     The bartender looked him over as he polished a pint glass.  "You sure about that son?" he finally said.  "Maybe you should start with some jumpin' jacks or Zumba."
     The surly man glared.  "Don't tell me my business."  And he walked out of the saloon in a huff.

Wednesday - Charlestown, RI - 7.4 miles

I decided to get my run out of the way first thing in the morning.  Winter is giving no sign of retreating and it was in the teens.  Cold compression gear, fleece vest, two pairs of gloves and I'm out the door.  Amanda took the dog for a walk in one direction and I started running in the other.  It was cold.  I decided to head up a dirt road/private drive to try to connect it to Shannock Road via a gasline throughway.  I dimmed my headlamp to sneak through undetected but missed the gasline path and ended up running down a long dirt drive to a lone house.  I could see a car running in the driveway - time to flee!  Running back up the hill, I heard a dog begin barking.  Soon enough I saw the beast ahead of me.  Large and white, it's eyes were ablaze from the reflection of my headlamp.  It stood in the road alerting the hill people to my presence.  Luckily it was all bark and retreated as I approached.  Adrenalized, I made my way back to Old Coach and continued on, the cold forgotten.

The rest of the run was without incident.  Ran up past the Nordic Lodge as the night gave way to early dawn.  Then I made my way over to the Rathskeller parking lot before heading back.  Took one more side road and was glad I did - from the higher vantage point I could see the striking sunrise.  It was a mix of pink and salmon colors and amazing.  Best sunrise I've seen in a while.

Broke in my new 890 v3 this morning.    The v2 have 581 miles on 'em.

Thursday - Ryan Park, North Kingstown, RI - 6.7 miles

It was very cold this morning.  Single digits.  I had planned to hit the track at Bryant but the forecast said it would be 9 degrees.  Coupled with the wind that rips through that place and I had zero interest in subjecting myself to that.  Instead I decided to attempt Ryan Park.  The main trails had been compacted into a rough icy path by scores of footprints, pawprints and hoofprints.  The Yaktrax were more than up to the task and I didn't slip once.  A couple sections of the railbed were bare but most still had icy snow cover.  At times today I was able to run fairly smoothly but at other points the choppy frozen track slowed me down.  The best running was along the powerlines on the west side of the park.  I was able to run on top of the snow path, breaking through only occasionally.  Highlight of the run was at the bridge - saw a couple coyotes off in the distance crossing the frozen pond.

Friday - East/West Greenwich Roads - 7.8 miles

I decided revisit Frenchtown Road after last week's loop and opted to take it out to roads that surround Big River.  I parked at a little park and headed out.  A little bit of snow fell during the night, giving some welcome traction to the road's shoulder.  It also gave the existing snow a new coat which made it all look less grungy.  At the end of Frenchtown I took Bates Trail.  It got more and more rural as the road went up, up, up.  Eventually I hit another road - Hopkins Hill.  Hey, I know that one!  With my bearings somewhat in place, I turned around and headed back down until I hit the Frenchtown/Bates/Carr Pond Road intersection.  Now I took Carr Pond Road up, up, up.  Finally I came upon a familiar gate that leads into Big River.  I had gone a little further than I had intended so I turned around and headed back to the car.  Another chilly morning but I dressed well and was never frigid.  I enjoyed exploring these country roads and connecting them to familiar landmarks.  A pleasant run.

Saturday - 0 miles

We had another fun gig at Tara's down in Matunuck on Friday night.  Good crowd that seemed to enjoy the show but I over did it.  Made it through the show but I was in poor form.  Need to remember I'm not 22 anymore.  So there was no chance of my making the group run this morning nor was there any chance of me doing anything useful throughout the day.

Sunday - Charlestown, RI - 13.3 miles

Not much drive to run today after a weekend of sloth and excess.  Took the dog out for a four mile jog and then went out for my own slog jog.  Ran a big loop up to Rippy's and back.  No pep whatsover and I was barely holding off 9 minute miles.  I'll attribute it to the weekend's frivolity and the overall increase in my running.  Let the tapering for Ocean's Run begin!

Weekly Mileage: 47.3 miles

Year to Date: 333.6 miles

Monday, February 24, 2014

Chinook IPA - BIAB Debut/Disaster

Up until this point, all my brews had been extract.  In order to get the sugars out of the grains, you need to mash them in water for an extended period of time.  With extract brewing someone has already done that for you - the extracted malt is provided in either dry or syrup form.  Extract brewing is easier and quicker but the extract itself is more expensive.  All-grain brewing takes more time and requires more equipment but the grains are considerably cheaper.  After learning about the Brew in a Bag (BIAB) method of doing all-grain, I decided to give it a shot.  BIAB simplifies the amount of equipment/time needed to do all-grain and since I was planning to do a 2.5 gallon batch, no additional equipment was necessary (save for a five gallon paint strainer bag.)

I decided to revisit the first extract recipe I did on my own, a Chinook IPA.  My IPA stores are empty and I had a lot of Chinook Hops in my freezer so this was the perfect recipe.  

Clean prep area


Five pounds of grains

I'm supposed to calculate how much water I'll need for a full boil (including water absorbed by the grain as well as lost to evaporation.)  I didn't do that of course and just started with 3 gallons in my pot.  I wasn't sure how much the grains would displace and I sure didn't want an overflow.  Better safe than sorry.

Three gallons of water - would the grains fit?

The five gallon paint strainer bag was kept in place with binder clips.

Too early for beer so let the coffee flow!

I had to heat the water to 160 degrees (called the Strike temp) which took probably 15 minutes or so.  Once the strike temp was reached, I slowly added the grains while stirring to prevent clumps.

Turns out that there was "plenty" of room in the pot after the grains were added.

Adding the grain to the pot should have lowered the temp to the resting temp of 152 that I would need to maintain for the next hour.  And did!  I turned off the burner and covered the top with a towel to keep in the heat.

After stirring in all the grains the temp was spot on

A towel to retain heat

Soon though the temp began to drop.  I turned the burner back on and once it hit 153 I'd turn it off again.  I did this a couple times to keep the temps in the 151-154 range.  I turned off the burner after about 15 minutes of this back and forth and went down to the basement to help Ezri with something for a minute.  I came back to this!


170 degrees!  Way way way too high!  At such a high temperature the sugars stop extracting from the grains and the starting gravity might not be nearly as high as it should be.  As to how this happened, my guess is that the thermometer I was using was only measuring the temperature near the top of the pot.  I'm thinking that the water at the bottom was much hotter than I had thought.

I did my best to lower the heat, leaving it uncovered and adding 1/4 gallon of cold water.  Eventually I got it down but the damage had been done.  The rest of the mash (60 minutes total) was in the 151-155 range but it was too late.

After the mash, the grains are left in a colander to drain

The wort is ready to boil

I took a gravity reading once the mash was done and it came out at 1.022.  Dreadfully low.  I've since read that I should've let the wort cool before taking the gravity reading - because it was so hot that 1.022 wasn't accurate.  At the time though I was pretty depressed that it was so low.  Nothing to do but soldier on.  From this point the process was the same as an extract recipe.   I began a 60 minute boil and began the hop additions.

1 gallon paint strainer bag keeps the hops
separate during the boil (less gunk afterwards)

After the boil was done I cooled off the wort with a combination of sticking the pot outside in the snow and in the sink with some ice.  Once it was cooler I took another gravity reading - 1.034.  Better but still much lower than the 1.053 that I was shooting for.  At this point I threw good procedures out the window and just went for it.  They recommend having DME (dry malt extract) on hand for situations like this where the gravity comes out low.  Naturally I had no DME to use but I did have corn sugar.  I quickly measured out 1/2 pound of sugar in an (unsanitzed) bowl and dumped it into the cooling wort.  This is very much not the way to up your gravity but I was a bit panicked/scatterbrained and decided that something had to be done.

Enough is enough.  Fill that carboy!

I poured the cooled wort into the carboy, plugged it up and shook the hell out of it.  One last gravity reading - 1.043.  Better.  The corn sugar may end up giving the beer a cidery taste (to say nothing of my unsanitary practices just before the finish line) but it can't be helped now.  I had rehydrated the Safale S-05 yeast and poured the slurry into the carboy.  Slapped the airlock on the puppy and my first BIAB session was complete.

Disappointed but it will still make beer

Fermentation kicked off quickly and within six hours the airlock was bubbling away.  The plan is to leave it for three weeks, dry hop with more Chinook hops for one week and then bottle.  While things did not go as planned it was still a very good learning experience.  I'm glad I got my first BIAB session under my belt and I'll be doing it again.  The funny thing is that in my last beer post I swore off one gallon brewing but I think that might be the direction I go with my next BIAB batch.  The smaller size would make the whole process a easier and more forgiving.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Weekly Log: 2.17.14 - 2.23.14

Monday - Charlestown, RI - 7.4 miles

It's President's Day and I actually have it off!  After a morning brew session and some fun in the snow, I went for a run on the other side of Route 1.  I started off at a quick 7 minute pace and it got faster as I went.  I stuck to the beach roads.  So many nice houses.  So many of them unplowed and deserted in the winter.  It was a beautiful day - roads were clear of debris and I had to roll up my sleeves I was so warm.  The beach was impressive as the snow turned immediately to sand where the tide came in.  I kept the snappy pace on the way back and while I was breathing hard the pace was maintainable (at least for a while.)  A good honest effort.

Tuesday - Charlestown, RI - 3 miles

Ab Ripper X (15 minutes) / 155 push-ups (standard/military/wide) 25/25/25/20/20/20/20

Standard dog jog and core/push-up work to start off this shortened work week.

Wednesday - Smithfield, RI - 5 miles

My elbow feels "off" after yesterday's push-ups.  Not painful per se, but it doesn't feel quite right.  I didn't have much oomph in the morning for an early workout anyway so passing yet again on Yoga X wasn't a terribly difficult decision.   Instead I planned to run before work but with all the snow I knew it would be on roads and the list of places to run was short.  I ended up just driving to work without making a decision and I sat in the parking lot, very close to just skipping the run altogether despite the fact that I was all geared up and ready to go.

Finally I told myself to just get on with it and I headed out on the Fidelity walking paths.  Luckily they had been snowblown.  Had they not, I may have just quit right there.  But they were clear and I ended up using them and a short unfrequented road section to make a loop that I ran four times.  It was beautiful out there and quite warm.  My calf started to ache with a mile to go but otherwise it was a good run.  A pretty unremarkable run but I'm pleased that I won the mental battle and got five miles in after being so close to quitting.

Thursday - North Kingstown, RI - 7.4 miles

The temp is warming up a bit but it's still cold at night and the roads were icy in the morning.  I'm itching to get back on the trails but I figured they're still pretty much not runnable and I really didn't want to slog for 2 or 3 miles and then call it quits.  So more roads it would be.  I mapped out a loop in North Kingstown close to Ezri's daycare.  I parked at a Park 'n Ride on Route 2 and then took South Road up into the hills.  I figured these country roads might be a little icy but at least the traffic would be light.  I was right on both counts.  Traction wasn't great but it was never too slick and I never fell.  The houses became more luxurious and massive as I went.  Frenchtown Road was busier and less fun but then I took Tillinghast Road back which was deserted.  I passed a couple open spaces on this run that could be explored once the snow clears.  All the side roads were small neighborhoods which ended in cul-de-sacs.  Lots of woods surrounded this loop - I'm sure there are trails to discover.  I expect I'll return to this area in the Spring.

Friday - Wolf Hill, Smithfield, RI - 6.1 miles

With the warmer weather and recent rain, I decided to try my luck at Wolf Hill.  I was sick of streets - I yearned to be back in the woods.  I knew Wolf Hill always got a lot of foot traffic (even in winter) so I was hopeful that the trail would already be packed down.  It had been but as soon I stepped into it I knew it would still be slow going.  Boots and snowshoe tracks had cleared a wide path on the trail but I still would break through more of the slushy snow.  Nevertheless it was great being out there in the white silence after battling cars all week on the dirty roads.  Only a couple miles in and I was tired but I pushed myself to make it to the top of the quarry for some splendid views.  Then I made my way down to the nearby roads.  It was great fun barreling down the trails in the thick snow.  I didn't think about the fact that the sidewalks would be covered up so I ducked into a nearby neighborhood and ran a couple miles there before returning to my car.  A side trail near the entrance to the neighborhood led to a huge groomed hill that was no doubt the mecca of all the kids in the neighborhood.

Saturday - 0 miles

I opted out of the early morning group run since I got home late on Friday night from band practice.  Then we drove to an indoor water park "resort" in Connecticut.  Made it easy to call it a rest day.  But I mapped out a run for Sunday morn.

Sunday - Waterbury, CT - 14 miles

We stayed at the Coco Keys water park/hotel in Waterbury, CT.  We were underwhelmed.  It's absolute madness in the waterpark, the hotel rooms weren't in great condition, the staff at the hotel couldn't care less and insane children were wandering the halls and slamming doors past midnight.  But I was looking forward to a long run in the morning to check out the region.  I scoped out the area on Strava and found that a guy had created a massive amount of segments not far from the hotel.  I printed out a Strava screenshot and went segment hunting.

Most of the roads had minimal shoulder room with all the snow but I started at 6 AM with little light and less traffic.  The run was a mix of pushing the pace on the segments and easy 8+ minute miles otherwise.  I ran on some nice country roads.  There were some good sized hills and nifty houses that dug into steep hills overlooking frozen lakes.  I nabbed a whole bunch of segments from the poor bastard and then made my way back to the hotel for one more trip into the waterpark before heading home.  The park was much less crowded first thing in the morning and made for a more enjoyable experience.

Weekly Mileage: 43 miles

Year to Date: 286.2 miles

Good week with runs every day except Saturday.  I'd like to try to up the mileage even more next week before tapering off the week of the Ocean's Run Half Marathon.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Adventures in Homebrewing - February 2014

Time for another update about my homebrewing shenanigans.  Yes, I'm still making beer and no, Amanda has not kicked me out of the house yet!

Runner's High Imperial IPA - 8.1% ABV

These were yummy but sadly are no more.  This was my first attempt at an original recipe and while not a complete success I'm happy overall with the attempt.  I added most of the extract late in the boil in the hope of making it more straw colored but it still came out darker than I wanted.  It ended up being a little too malty and the hop aroma faded very quickly.  I'm looking forward to improving with version 2.0 but it'll have to wait as I have several other beers on deck.

Deadringer IPA - 5.8% ABV

I made two batches of this brew at a gallon each.  The recipe came from Northern Brewer but I bought the ingredients at the local shop.  It's a clone of Bell's Two Hearted (which I've never had) and uses only centennial hops.  I can see the appeal of one gallon ferments for test batches but I think I'll stick to 2.5 gallons from now on.  With one gallon it's the same amount of work but you only end up with 8-10 beers.

Apfelwein - 7.5% ABV

My initial batch of Apfelwein was 2.25 gallons and is almost gone.  It got positive reviews from most people (perhaps they were just being polite but I think it was pretty good.)  Upon bottling that batch I immediately started another 4.5 gallons which was also just bottled.  I bottled half still but decided to bottle carb the other half.   The first batch hit 8.4% but this one only reached 7.5% so I guess the yeast stalled out at the end.

Joe's Ancient Orange Mead

My first batch of JAOM (where I followed the recipe exactly) and my second batch (with peach & craisins instead of oranges & raisins) have both been in the bottle since mid-December.  I've got one more batch that's been going for about two months.  It's about ready to bottle but it could also just hang out in the secondary for awhile.  We'll see.  I'm in no hurry to drink these so I'll probably wait until the Game of Thrones premiere to crack one open.

Peach JAOM - looks great in the Newcastle bottle

Bourbon Barrel Porter - 5.5% ABV

I had high hopes for this beer.  I was working off another Northern Brewer recipe and while I burnt the LME during the boil, the scorch taste faded by bottling.  After three weeks in the fermenter, I transferred it to the fabled Beer Machine for another two weeks before adding 1 oz of heavy oak chips and 8 oz of Jim Beam for yet another two weeks.  It didn't ferment out as well as I had hoped - final gravity was only 5% before the bourbon was added.  Seven weeks total before it was bottled.  It's taking an extremely long time to carb up.  The bourbon flavor is front and center but I don't think it's too overpowering.  It's pretty good but I wished the FG was lower and the carbonation a bit higher.

Finally decent head on this one

Ordinary Bitter - 2.6% ABV

I bought this kit from Austin Homebrew online as I wanted to try these low-alcohol British session ales.  I was happy to discover that my electric stove could handle a 2.5 gallon boil - this ended up being my first 5 gallon beer.  Fermentation was hot and fast and after ten days I checked the FG - unfortunately the yeast seemed to stall out.  FG was supposed to be 1.006 but finished at 1.018.  This puts it at 2.6% abv.  That's pretty low, even for a ordinary bitter.  Still, beer is beer.  It shall be bottled and drank.

At 10 days

FG too high!

ChocoNanner Stout - ABV unknown

This one gets mixed reactions when I describe it.  I enjoy a chocolatey stout and I love bananas so I thought why not combine the two?  I'm using my new 3 gallon glass carboys that I got on Craigslist.  I created the recipe after researching other recipes.  After three weeks in the primary it was racked onto 2.5 lbs of bananas and left for another two weeks.  This one's really an experiment but I'm looking forward to seeing what comes of it.  Look for a more in depth blog post in the next few weeks regarding this madness.

Oh yes.  I dare.

Chinook IPA - Round Two

I just made another batch of the tasty Chinook IPA however this time I tried all-grain brewing for the first time.  I used a technique called Brew in a Bag (BIAB) which reduces the time and equipment needed in order to make it manageable for my situation. Things did not go as planned and it was somewhat of a disaster.  I'll recap the whole ordeal in a separate post.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Weekly Log: 2.10.14 - 2.16.14

With the brutal Belleville 10k in the rearview, I have about a month without racing.  Huzzah!  Looking forward to getting in some long trail runs (once the snow cover packs down) and doing some speed work to prepare for the Ocean's Run 1/2 on March 9th.

Monday - Smithfield, RI - 7.3 miles

My ankles are quite sore.  My right knee is also sore.  6.2 miles of snow racing is no joke.  I wanted to do an easy shakeout run this morning but man I didn't have much enthusiasm.  I thought about skipping it but eventually just parked at Bryant and ran the nearby roads.  Once I started running I felt great - the healing power of the run!  Despite it being an easy shakeout I somehow picked all the hilliest roads.  Took some new (to me) roads up into the hills.  Wide empty roads and fancy houses made for nice running despite the elevation.

Tuesday - Charlestown, RI - 2.1 miles

Ab Ripper X (15 minutes) / 150 push-ups (standard/military/wide) 30/20/20/20/20/20/20

Cold out there!  While they were fine during yesterday and this morning's run, my ankles and knee are still pretty sore.  A non-running day tomorrow should be welcome

Wednesday - 0 miles

Supposed to be a Yoga X day but our basement was frigid and the will was not there.   Amanda took the dog out for a walk in the single digits this morning.  When we got this beast she said that she was going to be responsible for the walking and she has been true to her word.  Even as the mornings grew short and cold she has continued to walk the dog every morning.  I only do one weekday and the occasional jaunt on the weekend - mostly it has been all her (with Em walking the dog in the afternoon.)

A couple weeks ago Strava offered me a free month of the premium.  I was excited to finally try the heatmap feature.  It's nifty - it pretty much shows every run I've done since I started using a Garmin so you can see where the runs nearly intersect each other.  And of course it's very obvious where I do most of my running.

Thursday - Charlestown, RI - 6.5 miles

Snowy morning, slushy afternoon.  I was home with the girls so I could only run during Ezri's nap.  At that point the beautiful morning snow had given way to cold rain.  I had zero desire to head out in the muck but I hadn't had a real run since Monday and the Quest for Mileage must be respected.  Old Coach Road was in good shape but the side roads hadn't been plowed.  My feet were quickly soaked and frigidly cold.   I thought it would be a short disappointing run.  I opted to jump into the woods and head over to the Narragansett Trail.   Surprisingly the snow was now decently runnable since it was compacted and no longer crusty.  It's funny that it wasn't the snow that chilled my feet but rather the slush once I returned to the roads.  I hit up the trails at South Farm before trundling back home to my warm fire.

Friday -Smithfield, RI - 4.2 miles

135 Push-ups (standard/military/decline) 30/20/10/20/20/15/20

Uck.  Another messy winter run, this time up at work.  Decided to wear my minimal MT00s for some reason even though I knew I'd be on roads.  Maybe for the traction.  The first section of footpath had a few inches of snow on it which made it fun to run.  The plowed section was worse - slushy with cold puddles.  Stuck to the roads after that although I ducked into the woods to take a leak.  Probably about a foot of snow and the icy crust cut my bare legs as I broke though.  Now I know what happened to Jonny's legs at Belleville.  It was windy throughout the run and a stinging blinding snow began towards the end.  My calves were becoming sore from the MT00s and that was a good enough excuse to call it after four miles.  With the extra time I pumped out the push-ups in the locker room that I had shirked earlier in the morning.

Saturday - Chariho, RI - 20.4 miles

An email chain indicated everyone was interested in a long group run and Jonny was kind enough to put together a route.  Eight WTACers showed up at the Chariho High School at 6:30 AM.  Great turnout!  The pace was in the low to mid 7s throughout - never too tough and still allowed for plenty of conversation. 

National Wear Blue to Your Run Day - Photo by Jeff Walker

There were no shortage of big hills on this run but I felt good throughout and never felt like they would undo me.  After five miles, FiveK, Garvin and Nate headed back to make their run a 10 mile progression (they were cookin' after they left us) while the rest of us continued on hilly country roads.  Mike B and Jonny both provided water stops.  Despite having lived in the area for half a decade I still was exploring many of these roads for the first/second time - always interesting when you don't know exactly where you are.  This run was a lot of fun.  It definitely didn't feel like 17 miles and I'm pleased that I was able to maintain a pretty fast pace with the guys and not have it feel grueling.

Afterwards I padded my mileage while Ezri was at dance class with a short 3+ jaunt.  This gave me 40 miles for the week and with today's snowstorm/heavy mileage I doubt I'll want to run tomorrow.

Sunday - 0 miles

My legs are beat from yesterday's efforts!  Sore quads, sore calves, sore toes.  Did some shoveling today to dig out from the latest snow onslaught so I'll think that's a good enough way to end this week.  I hope to keep my weekly mileage in the 40s leading up to Ocean's Run before tapering for that half.

Weekly Mileage: 40.5 miles

Year to Date:243.2 miles

Monday, February 10, 2014

Belleville Pond 10k 2014

Official Time: 52:40.  8th overall.  6th in age group.  Results here.

This was the third race in the 4th Season trail series and I was looking forward to it.  I didn't run it last year but the prior year was my introduction into trail racing.  It was also the first time I met Jonny and began to recognize some of the other bloggers I was, reading.  I knew that all the recent snow would mean that there would be no PRs today and I was prepared for a long, grueling race.  My car was stuck in the driveway so I took Amanda's car.  It turned out to be the theme of the day - while the road at Ryan Park was plowed the individual spaces were not.  Lots of runners with stuck cars.

I had initially worn shorts but opted at the last minute to switch to the compression tights.  Threw on the Yaktrax and did a short warm-up on the root run and initial quarter-mile of the course.  The snow seemed fairly packed down and I thought that maybe it wouldn't be too much of a grind out there.  How wrong I was.

We lined up at the basketball court and the race began through deep unbroken snow.  It was chaotic - there was only a single line of track that had already been broken.  It was either enter the train of runners or try to pass in the heavy stuff.  After we crossed the road and entered the trail proper I found myself in about 10th place.  There were a couple guys I didn't know in front of me and then Muddy and the rest of the crew.  It was hard to tell how hard I was working in the snow but I saw Muddy start to pull away and didn't want to put myself in too deep a hole.  I jumped to the side and passed the two guys and continued on.

We started in deep snow and vied for position before the single file
Photo by Jana Walker

It was tough and I was already breathing hard.  Was I working too hard already?  All the usual suspects were up ahead and I felt like I should be able to hang near them at least.  Someone had followed me as I had passed those two guys and he flew by me just before the rail bed - some guy I didn't recognize in a yellow cap.  He had no problem speeding up ahead and by the time we entered the rail bed he had caught the train of runners.  I wasn't gaining on the train but I wasn't losing ground either so I hoped that once we hit the hilly singletrack I'd be able to close the gap.

As we ran through the Lafayette Road parking lot I glanced back and saw that Aaron Rome, another fellow and a Turtle were behind me, though not that close.  Now briefly in the field section, I could see the layout of the train ahead of me.  I took me a moment to realize that Bob Jackman and Chris Garvin were behind Jonny.  Clearly there was a lot of strategy going on and I wondered when they would make their move.  Behind those three were Jeff, Nate, Muddy and Yellow Hat.

At the sharp uphill that lead to the powerlines, I finally caught up to the train.  It was only briefly though as they started to pull away yet again once we hit the hilly trail alongside Route 4.  Here the snow was much less broken up and the going was really difficult.  I saw Bob Jackman, more beast than man, rip off his shirt.  He and Garvin finally made their move and pulled away from the train.  And I saw Jeff hang on and follow them.  The Mighty Gazelle!  By the time we finished this rough section the train was down to four people and about 20 seconds ahead of me.

There was a brief stretch of open field and once I reentered the woods I was alone.  Now I regretted my choice of garb.  The hard work was making me wish I had shorts on.  My damn watch made it impossible to take off my glove so I settled for removing my hat.  It's tough running in such slow conditions with no one in front or behind.  I knew that I pretty much had 8th place in the bag but I also knew that catching the train ahead would be nigh impossible as well.

Finally it's over!
Photo by Jana Walker

By the time I reached the rail bed the train was further ahead.  I tried to pick up the pace but my feet kept slipping in the uneven snow and I couldn't get any rhythm.  Glancing back, there was no one.  I continued on, feeling like I was moving so slowly but knowing I was working hard.  The root section was rootless thanks to the snow cover.  Scott Mason was snapping pics at the bridge.  Despite the snow cover I managed to roll my ankle in this damn section.  It hurt only briefly and I didn't need to slow down.  There were a few folks cheering as I entered the parking lot which was appreciated.

The last stretch around the ballfield was a cruel bitch.  The snow was not packed down making the homestretch a grueling finale.  While bummed that I couldn't challenge the others for a higher spot, I was glad that I didn't have to kill myself in this last section.  Afterwards we all milled about, sharing war stories and praising/chastising our choice of traction device.  We did a short cooldown (on roads) and then collected some beer for the team win.  Everyone that did this race was a champion but special props to Chris Garvin for picking up the win, Jeff the Gazelle for a gutsy 3rd place finish and Nate Vinhateiro for pulling away from the train prior to the rail bed and coming in 4th!

Another great showing from WTAC!
Photo by Jana Walker

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Weekly Log: 2.3.14 - 2.9.14

Time for another exciting entry in the South County 4th Season trail series with the Belleville Pond 10k on Sunday!  I bailed on it last year due to calf tightness but I'm ready to return.  I think these longer trail races favor my endurance and experience in the woods so I'm looking forward to competing this weekend.  The weather this week looks messy at best and I'll be interested to see what the course looks like by Sunday.

Monday - Smithfield, RI - 6.5 miles

An easy shakeout run after yesterday's hard effort.  Though snow was falling in big wet clumps when I left the house, here at work it was barely flurrying.  From the parking lot at work, I made my way to the powerlines and took them north to Rocky Branch Rd.  Alongside Rocky Branch I kept passing "Keep Out" signs for the Woonsocket Watershed.  At one point there was a dirt road with a gate along with some ATV tracks that made their way around it.  I couldn't help but explore briefly.  A side trail led past an old Smithfield graveyard and rows of massive and perfectly aligned pine trees.  An old tree farm left to its own devices perhaps?  I scurried back to the road and returned to work on familiar trails.  By the time I finished the run the snow had begun in earnest.

Tuesday - Charlestown, RI - 2.8 miles

Ab Ripper X (15 minutes) / 110 push-ups (standard/military/wide) 30/20/20/20/20

Tuesday's routine has become a short run with the dog followed by core work and push-ups.  Neither myself or Oliver were thrilled about heading out this morning but once we got out there I really enjoyed the dark winter wonderland.  Then it was just a matter of willing myself to start up the Ripper in the basement.

Ezri helped count out the last few reps of push-ups.  She turned five today!  Hard to believe it's been that long already.  Time flies!

Wednesday - 0 miles

P90X2 Yoga X2 (60 minutes)

Snow day.  No running today but between the yoga and all the shoveling I got in a good workout.

Thursday - Smithfield, RI - 4.1 miles

I was going to attempt the Belleville Pond 10k course and tried all three of the parking lots but none of them were plowed (I'm in a rental car this week and didn't want to chance it.)  Decided to just drive up to work and run whatever.  I started on the Fidelity footpaths which had been shoveled and then kept going once they turned to snow.  It was probably about 8 inches deep.  Holy hell, it was brutal.  I was breathing hard within moments and had to stop often.  After maybe 1.5 miles of trudgery I jumped back on the roads before jumping back in the snow for one more slog and then finishing up on the roads again.  Only four miles but I was cooked.  If Sunday's race is anything like this it's going to be a rough day.

Friday - Smithfield, RI - 6 miles

130 push-ups (standard/military/wide) 30/20/20/20/20/20

Third run this week up at work.  Couldn't be helped with all the snow and errands (picked up my car today with a new bumper.  Huzzah!)  This time I stuck to the roads.  I wore my polar tec pants since I left my tights in the work locker but it was a mistake as I was overheating quickly.  Kept the pace snappy and under 7 minute miles and pushed it on a hilly Strava segment.  Saw a single set of footprints in the deep snowy footpaths.  What kind of idiot would try to run through that?

Saturday - 0 miles

Sunday - Belleville Pond 10k - 8.9 miles

Brutal.  52-ish minutes.  8th overall.  Report forthcoming.

Weekly Mileage: 28.2 miles

Year to Date: 202.7 miles

My lowest mileage week since late October.  With a couple snow slogs including the Belleville Pond 10k, the effort was there so I'm happy with the week.  Time to take a cue from Muddy's blog and begin to figure out my training for the next few months.  With the Ocean's Run 1/2 about a month away and other races on the horizon, I need to begin to plan out how I'm going to increase my mileage yet prepare for these shorter races.