Friday, September 26, 2014

Weekly Log: 9.22.14 - 9.28.14

Time for MOR MILEZ!!!

Monday - Seekonk, MA - 7.1 miles

Oh my sore calves!  19ish miles on both Friday and Saturday beat 'em up and they're still in rough shape.  Beautiful day though and I want to attempt 60 miles for the week so that meant getting out there.  Mapped out a six mile loop in Seekonk on country roads.  Good run and the calves loosened up as I went.  Tacked on a couple side streets to make it 7.  Beautiful warm day with a steady breeze throughout.

Tuesday - Seekonk, MA - 8.1 miles

43 pull-ups (standard/chin-up/close grip) 6/8/5/6/8/5/5

Calves were feeling better today which was something of a surprise.  I had planned to venture over to College Hill for more hill work but I didn't have the stomach for city traffic.  I did have the stomach for my lunch, gobbling it up at 11:30 in anticipation of a 2 PM run.  I decided to just explore more Seekonk Roads.  I mapped a loop that took me along the perfectly named Country Road.  Turns out it was actually County Road and quite busy - not the idyllic peaceful route I envisioned.

I guess I haven't learned my lesson about eating lunch before I run, even if it's several hours prior.  My stomach was churglin' and gurglin' throughout the run and I felt like a big bloated bag of gas.  A decent run otherwise and I suppose in retrospect the 7:30 pace is impressive considering my GI issues.

Wednesday - Coventry, RI - 15.5 miles

My plan was to run long after work before picking up Em from dance.  I was used to doing these runs in the spring when the daylight is always on the increase.  Now it's fall and I knew it'd be dark sooner rather than later.  But I really wanted to work in some trails so I devised a route that started near Big River and was about 50% road, 50% trail.   I brought my headlamp but wasn't thrilled about the idea of running in the woods at night so the route had plenty of bailout options based on lighting.  I parked at the huge Home Deport and after a few minutes of roads I entered Big River.  I intended to follow the Half Marathon course to the Hopkins Hill parking lot but I managed to get off track fairly quickly.  I found Carr Pond soon enough and then followed the course.  There was still plenty of daylight and it increased my resolve to take the New London Turnpike through the west side of Big River.

Lots of activity in Big River on this evening.  I encountered 2 mountain bikers, 2 dirt bikers, a family of three with a dog (that scared the shit out of me when it bounded out of the bushes) and a bunch of folks partying 'round a fire near the Burnt Sawmill Road entrance.  The timing worked out perfectly and it didn't get really dark until I was nearing the end of Burnt Sawmill.  The rest of the run was on unfamiliar roads in the dark.  I had printed out some google maps and was glad I had 'em.  There was a surprising amount of traffic on these Coventry backroads but my strobe light did the trick and warned 'em off.  I ran out of steam with a mile to go and sort of slogged my way through the massive parking lot but otherwise a top notch run.

Thursday - 0 miles

210 push-ups (standard/decline/wide) 40/30/40/30/30/40

No running today - I had an appointment with a podiatrist (conveniently located right below my office.)  Back in July 2013 I had smashed my big toe thanks to dehydrated, sloppy form in Burlingame.  It wasn't a major thing and didn't interfere running but ever since that big toe will ache with a dull pain now and again.  Never that bad but always resurfacing eventually.  So today I went to the foot doc and got some X-rays.   Looks like when I jammed that big toe a tiny bit o' bone chipped off and is now lingering next to the joint, causing the occasional discomfort.  Not much to be done with it now - hopefully at some point it'll just get absorbed into my body.  Science!

Friday - Charlestown/East Providence, RI - 15.7 miles

Dog jog in the early morning.  Easy, warm and breezy.  3.7 miles.

At lunch, I decided to claim the nearby segment on the flat, fast stretch of Waterfront Drive.  It's 1.1 miles long so I meandered around the neighborhood streets for a couple miles and then made my way to the start.  I pushed it but the wind was against me and it was hard going.  Took it easily and I'm pleased with my 5:38 pace.  I wore the more minimal 730s on this run and the bottom of my feet were feeling them - no wonder I've been favoring the 890s lately.  6.7 miles.

Then after work, I went over to the East Bay Bike Path for some easy perfunctory miles.  Not much to say other than at about the 1/4 mark there was this crazy cloud of black flies.  They were so thick you could see them and suddenly they are all over me.  Then a few meters later and I'm through the cloud and there were no more flies.  But my arms and shirt were covered.  Gross.  I had to pass through the bug army again on my way back to the car.

Saturday - 0 miles

Sunday - Richmond, RI - 14.3 miles

Jonny emailed me about an easy run with Galoob in Richmond, checking out some trails in a new open space left by a generous benefactor.  The time and distance seemed right on, thought I knew their approximation of an "easy" run would be moderate for me.  We stuck mostly to wide dirt road trails with a trip along the singletrack of the Beaver River Preserve as well.  There were also about 6.5 road miles, including a bitch of a climb up Old Mountain Road.  After 10 miles I was feeling the effort and my right knee began to hurt which was troubling as normally I don't have knee issues.  Let's chalk it up to the excess mileage for the week.   Fun run with good company to cap this high mileage week, though it was tough by the end.

Weekly Mileage: 60.4 miles
Year to Date: 1491.6 miles

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Weekly Log: 9.15.14-9.21.14

And now begins three weeks of high mileage and hard training.  Suddenly it feels like fall and suddenly I feel completely unprepared for the Bimbler's Bluff 50k which is only five weeks away.  No point in worrying about it now.  I'm going to try to run as much as I can up until the NipMuck Marathon on the 7th and then I'll take my foot off the gas and coast all the way to Bimbler's.  Here we go!

Monday - Providence, RI - 5 miles

I had been meaning to incorporate some hill repeats over one of the College Hill roads for a while but I knew it meant driving closer to the hill in order to fit it in at lunch.  The east side of Providence is a goddamn mess with construction that's been going on for months - you never know which road will be ripped up and shut down.  Anyway, I finally drove over there and after a mile warm-up I reached Jenckes Road which has a pretty gnarly hill and a popular Strava segment.  I didn't think I had a shot at the segment so instead I just focused on honest efforts on this tough hill.  I had intended to do five but threw in one extra.  The first couple weren't bad but the 4th and 5th hurt.  I ended up 7th out of 37 for the Strava segment - there's definitely room for improvement there.

Tuesday - East Providence, RI - 7.5 miles

37 pull-ups w/ assists (4/3, 6, 6, 5/2, 7, 5/3, 4/4)
Ab Ripper X (15 minutes)

Big improvement with the pull-ups this morning - I tried to do them quicker which helped keep me from tiring.  The tricky part was avoiding too much momentum in my legs which pushed them closer to kipping pull-ups.  I didn't bother with assisted pull-ups for some of the sets since I was getting in so many real pull-ups.  Good stuff.

At lunch, I hit the roads with a vague idea of the area I wanted to explore.  Legs felt good and the pace was just over 7 minute miles.  Mostly I just ran through a bunch of East Providence neighborhoods, stopping briefly at a gas station to pick up a cliff bar.  Very positive run for me and an indication that Crutch and Greg were right a few weeks ago when they blamed the heat/humidity for bringing me down.  Upon review on Strava I learned there's a new mile segment near the office on a fast stretch of road.  I placed 5th.  This will not stand.

Wednesday - East Providence, RI - 5 miles

I wanted to run trails so I went over to the 10 Mile River Bike Path, intent on avoiding the path and only running trails if possible.  No issue with that, there's enough trails that run along and near the bike path to make it possible to reach Slater Park while barely touching pavement.

Thursday - 0 miles

220 push-ups (standard/military/wide) 40/30/40/40/30/40

Boss decided to buy us lunch to celebrate a colleague's birthday.  I can't say no to mexican so it looks like today'll be a zero.  I'm going to try to cram a shitload of miles into the next two days to see if I can hit 50 and take Sunday off.

Friday - Charlestown, RI/Seekonk, MA/Providence, RI - 18.7 miles

48 pull-ups (standard/chin-up) 6/8/5/8/6/9 - No assists!

Early morning dog jog in the dark.  Oliver wanted to stop and pee a lot.  Headlamp kept crapping out on me.  Otherwise fine.  Stretched it a little further since today's a big running day - 3.5 miles.

At lunch time, four easy miles in Caratunk Preserve.  Saw several couples wandering the trails, including a couple ladies deep in the swampy section.  You normally don't see any other folks back there.

After work I planned out a longer loop that took me through the East Side of Providence, up into Pawtucket and then back down into East Providence.  I had my eye on a couple segments.  The running path along Blackstone Blvd has several and while the top times were out of reach I still put in a hard effort on the path which netted me 7th out of 248 on a 1.6 mile segment.  Then I ventured over to the Riverside Cemetery and put in another hard effort on the nearly mile loop around the perimeter.  The cemetery dropped down towards the water which made the second half incline painful.

After that I was winded but kept the pace in the low 7s as I entered Pawtucket.  After I crossed the river and made my way back into East Providence I picked up the pace a bit.  I saw that my average pace was under 7 minutes and wanted to keep it that way.  I explored the roads on another cemetery before completing the run on familiar roads.  Fun run and the hard segments and overall snappy pace resulted in a great workout.

Saturday - Arcadia, Exeter, RI - 19.1 miles

Met up with Muddy at the Ranger Station at 6 AM to explore the trails of south Arcadia.  After 18+ miles yesterday and 5 hours of sleep I was just hoping to hang on and get through the whole 2.5 hour  run.  It was still pretty dark when we set out and as soon as we entered the woods the sighting was tricky.  I nearly bit it on a rocky section but stayed vertical.  After 15 minutes or so the visibility improved and we stayed on the North-South trail for a while, enjoying the rocky boulder section.  We explored a side trail that ran along Route 95 before returning the North-South/Yellow trail.  Then we took the long wooden walkway to the Browning Mill Pond Loop.  This was a fun loop - I had never been to this great little spot and will definitely need to bring the girls.

We returned to the Yellow trail and took it up to Route 165.  We were 1.5 hours in and I was still feeling pretty good.  But for how long?  We decided to set out on the Mt. Tom Trail and then take roads back down to the cars.  We followed the Mt. Tom Trail to where it crosses Route 165 and then took 165 back to Mt. Tom Road until we hit Blitzkrieg Trail (really a dirt road.)  We were at 15 miles and I was tired.  The next three miles of dirt road were at a sub 8 minute pace but I was ready to be done - my quads and hamstrings seemed prepared to revolt at any moment.  The last mile was Arcadia Road pavement but exhausting.  I was so glad to see the Smokey the Bear sign and our cars.  Fun run with great conversation though the last few miles were a grind.

Sunday - 0 miles

Calves are very tight after yesterday's long journey.  No running today for sure.  We went to see the Black Keys up at the Boston Garden.  Good show but getting home at 1:30 AM on a Sunday night is no bueno.

Weekly Mileage: 55.4 miles

Year to Date:  1,429.9 miles

Good week although cramming in 38 miles over two days really wore me out.  We'll see if I can keep it going for another week!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Weekly Log: 9.8.14 - 9.14.14

This'll be an easy week as I dial back the mileage before ramping it up as we push towards October and race time.  The weather is finally cooling and hopefully I'll have more pep during my lunch runs.

Monday - 0 miles

270 push-ups (standard/wide/decline/Pike's Press) 40/40/35/20/40/40/35/20

No running today but I had a good Yoga session at lunchtime.

Tuesday - East Providence, RI - 6.5 miles

East Bay Bike Path for a progression run.  I wore my New Balance 890s instead of the 730s (which I usually wear during speedwork.)  I'm thinking that minimal 730s might be to blame for some aches I've been feeling.  They didn't have much cushion to begin with and now both of my pairs have about 250 miles on them.  Anyway, it was a beautiful overcast day and it was great running.   I managed to keep increasing the pace until I was sub-6 for the last 1/2 mile.  Felt good but I think I'm due to try to fit in longer tempo runs.

Wednesday - Seekonk, MA - 4.3 miles

Easy peasey trails over at the Seekonk Meadows.

Thursday - Providence, RI - 6 miles

27 pull-ups w/ assists (standard/chin-up/wide) 3/5, 5/3, 3/3, 4/3, 5/4, 2/3, 5/4
Ab Ripper X (15 minutes)

I ventured out at lunch without any real gameplan.  Ended up crossing the bridge to the East Side and running towards Butler, where I explored some woods around the hospital.  There were just a couple of newly cleared dirt roads but otherwise it just led down to the shitty shoreline (by shitty I mean filthy as hell.)  Then I ran back to work, taking the trails through Blackstone Park.  Kept the pace somewhat snappy at around 7 minute miles.

Friday - Charlestown/Smithfield, RI - 10.9 miles

160 push-ups (standard) 40/40/40/40

Dark and early dog jog.  I wanted to take the trail off Black Pond Rd over to the Narragansett Trail but the darkness made it difficult and I don't think Oliver appreciated getting whacked in the face by bushes.  Last time I was here I commented on the improvements made to the "trail" near Black Pond Rd.  What a difference a month makes.  The growth was back and it was tough locating the path with only the headlamp.

After work I headed back to Smithfield for another one of my favorite former haunts - Wolf Hill.   The trails showed signs of having recently been maintained and there were fresh blazes on all the trails.  I noticed they changed the trail colors for a lot of them.  After a mile of climbing I emerged at the power lines and promptly took a digger and cut my knee up good.  I continued on and was surprised how overgrown the powerline road was - at points I could barely see the path for the weeds.  I guess the power company doesn't travel up there much anymore.

Wolf Hill contains a WWII Memorial Trail and an a memorial rock for a plane of soldiers that crashed here during the war.  I was pleased to see that the nearby "No Trespassing" trail was finally bonafide and had become an extension of the WWII trail.   I hit most of the trails on the hill, saving a trip up the quarry for just before sunset.  I had made a challenging segment and decided to see if I could set the CR.  As I was running up the quarry I could see the shadow from the setting sun moving up the rock wall which gave me some extra motivation.  I pushed it pretty hard and shaved 19 seconds off my time which I'm psyched about.  With the sun just about down it began to get pretty dark in the woods so I meandered my way back down to the car.  Despite the banged up knee this was a great run.  If you've never been there you owe it to yourself to make a trip up.

This one's for Jeff

Beautiful trails as the sun sets

Long shadows at the top of the quarry

Saturday - 0 miles

We were going to camp in Burlingame but Ezri's been fighting a fever and with the rain forecast for the evening we didn't have much interest.  Instead a productive day around the yard.  I did manage a visit to Whaler's Brewing in Wakefield.  They're a very small operation but I highly recommend checking them out - their tasting had some tasty brews including a hazelnut stout and an apricot sour.

Sunday - Charlestown, RI - 5.5 miles

Just an easy like Sunday morning run up Old Coach Road.  I threw in a couple trail sections and kept the pace easy.  Weather was just about perfect and it looked like my fellow WTACers had some great races at the Surftown 1/2 Marathon.

Weekly Log: 33.2 miles

Year to Date: 1,374.5 miles

Friday, September 5, 2014

Weekly Log: 9.1.14 - 9.7.14

Another month is upon us!  Summer unofficially comes to an end but it sure doesn't feel like it.  I'm aiming for 50 miles this week but my legs are feeling the last few weeks of miles.  We'll see how this week goes.

Monday - Charlestown, RI - 3.5 miles

Happy Labor Day!  Soooo humid out and my legs are toast from yesterday's 15 miles.  With the day off I felt like I should run but I was content to take a zero.  But in the afternoon Oliver needed a walk so we set out at a very easy pace.  The sun was behind the trees for most of the run which helped but I still returned a sweaty mess.

Tuesday - East Providence, RI - 5 miles

Today it wasn't the humidity so much as the brutal heat.  It was pushing 90 degrees up at work and my desire to run was at an all time low.  Calves and hamstrings were feeling tight and I was feeling uninspired.  I dragged myself out there at lunch time and ran nearby roads without any plan, taking breaks in the shade when I felt like it.

Wednesday - East Providence, RI - 5.9 miles

26 pull-ups w/ assists (standard/chin-up/close grip) 3/4, 4/4, 4/3, 3/3, 5/3, 4/3, 3/3
Ab Ripper X (15 minutes)

Temperature and humidity both dropped some today to make running not so much of a chore but I still had little oomph to get out there.  I went to the Ten Mile River bikepath, thinking I'd do a tempo run but as soon as I left my car my sluggish legs told me that wasn't going to happen.  Instead I ducked into the woods and hit the trails that run along the bikepath.  I stopped at various smalls ponds to look at fish.  Maybe I'll just stare at these fish and then go back to the car, I thought.  Eventually I kept running and once I got to Slater Park I explored some new trails and perked up a bit.  My lunch run was now in danger of going over so I hoofed it back to the car and was pleased that my legs responded somewhat to the increased pace.

Thursday - Exeter, RI - 7.5 miles

225 push-ups (standard/military/wide/decline) 40/25/35/30/30/25/40

After work I went to run in Arcadia, a place I always want to visit but it's just enough of the way to be a hassle to get to.  As usual I parked at the J B Hudson trailhead and was pleased to see that with the recent road work on Route 165 they also took time to improve the entrance to this parking lot which had a pretty gnarly drop-off.    It had been 90 at lunchtime up in Providence but down here in the woods the temp and humidity was reasonable.  I was only running for an hour so after a few miles of true trails up and around Breakheart Pond, I stuck to the dirt roads for the rest of the run.  Lots of new trail signs throughout Arcadia which was good to see.  They'll definitely make my next long run here a little less confusing - which will happen soon I hope!

Friday - Charlestown/East Providence - 6.8 miles

In the early morning I jogged the dog for 3 miles.  It's been a while since I assumed the pre-work dog jog duties and I had the don the old headlamp for the first time in months.  The weather might be warm but the darkness will not be denied!

At work I put off my lunch run, partly because I wasn't that jazzed about it and partly because I was trying to get some stuff done.  Dreams of track were vanished long before I finally set out the door and when I stepped out of the office at 2:30 I was feeling pretty lifeless.  After about a mile and a half my achilles began to ache and I opted to just head back to the office.

It was a pretty depressing run and I'm wondering if I'm suffering from the effects of overtraining.  I feel like a lot of my blog posts comment on tired legs and during my runs I'm often finding myself stopping and resting momentarily before continuing on.  I had planned a long trail run on Sunday in an attempt to bag 50 miles for the week but now I'm considering easing off the running altogether, training be damned.  While I haven't followed a lot of Daniel's training, one thing that stuck out to be was his caution to avoid setbacks and one possible setback he mentions is a lack of interest in running.  I feel like I'm the verge of that.

Saturday - 0 miles

Sunday - Burlingame, Charlestown, RI - 17 miles

My negative attitude from Friday passed quickly once the weekend set in and by Sunday morning I was looking forward to my long run.  Parked at Watchaug Pond with the intent of running for two and a half hours.  My goal of 50 miles this week wasn't going to happen.  So what?  Time on Feet is more important right now than arbitrary mile goals (and I'm sure Jonny Miles would say I was probably much closer to 50 than my Garmin let on.)

I got the road section out of the way and took Sammy C's up and around before heading down to the North Camp.  Pace was easy and while I got wet from the aftereffects of last night's rain, the air was cool and not that humid.  From North Camp I went up to North Burlingame, home of the chewed up dirt roads.  I snacked on a bag of nuts and raisins I brought and then took the White trail down to the Pawcatuck River.  But there were tons of tents down by the river and as I approached I heard lots of voices enjoying their breakfast.  I didn't want to spook them (or be spooked) so I turned around, though I did check out part of the White trail from the other end - it looked like it has been maintained a bit.

After that it was back down to the Vin Gormley trail and following it counter-clockwise.  Some work has been done near that little covered bridge - new layers of gravel are covering up some rooty sections and a bunch of new footbridge sections were added, making for one super long footbridge that spans both sides of the covered bridge.  Get ready for a super fast stretch at Lil Rhody!  I still had another 25 minutes to hit 2:30 so I did a stretch of Brrr-lingame in reverse (tiring.)  Then through the campground and back to Watchaug, where a dip in the cool pond was welcome.  A really good run that made me feel better about the state of things!

Weekly Mileage: 45.8 miles

Year to Date: 1,342.6 miles

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Outdoor All-Grain Saison!

Time for another brew session and a return to All-Grain brewing via Brew in a Bag (BIAB.)  I wanted to make a saison since I recently had a few thanks to my brother's Christmas gift to the rare beer club.  Saisons ferment at a high temp so I figured I get to it before summer showed itself the door.  In order to avoid stinking up the house (as much) I borrowed my dad's turkey fryer for my first ever outdoor brew session.

2.5 gallon batch
5 lbs Belgian Pale
6 oz Crystal 20
Mash at 149 for 60 minutes

1.25 oz Hersbrucker hops (60 minutes)
0.25 oz Hersbrucker hops (10 minutes)

Safbrew T-58 Yeast (rehydrated)


First thing I noticed was how fast the turkey fryer heats up water.  What a revelation after heating up all these previous batches on an electric stove!  It took a few minutes to get the hang of working the fryer and setting up my operation outside but the efficiency of the heat source alone convinced me that this is probably the way to go in the future.

Slowly adding and mixing 5+ pounds of grains
Too high yet again!  One day I'll get the hang of it.

Since this is all-grain I had to mash in the grains and let them rest for an hour at 149 degrees.  Theoretically anyway.  Like my last BIAB batch, I preheated the stove and put the covered pot in there once I hit the mash temp but soon realized the temp had actually dropped down to 144.  So back out onto the turkey fryer to heat it up a bit.  The temp slowly climbed but once I started futzing with my different thermometers I realized that now it was too high!  Somewhat annoyed, somewhat indifferent - I decided not to mess with it anymore and let it be for the next half hour.

60 minutes later and the mash is done

It was so much faster to bring to a boil outside

After another subpar mash it was time to bring it to a boil.  The turkey fryer made quick work of it, though I realized that the sides of the pot were black with soot.  Afterwards, research confirmed that this is the result of an inefficient fryer not burning all the gas.  Another issue to work on!  I didn't really think about the soot issue until it was time to cool it down when I realized that I'd have to bring this filthy pot into the house.  Amanda came home to begin preparing a big seafood dinner and she wasn't exactly thrilled that A) I was still brewing hours later and B) I was going to need to bring the concoction into the house to cool it down.  Still she's clever and can't resist a puzzle - she suggested sticking the sooty pot into my canning pot and cooling it down that way.

Pot within pot for the cooldown

Stuffing stuffies and none too pleased with me

Finished, one way or another
First outdoor brew was ultimately a success.  After all, I made beer!

I had forgotten ice of course so I made a quick trip to Cumbies while Amanda set up a fan to push the stink outside (don't listen to her, I think it smells great!)  I got back 10 minutes later with the ice and soon the wort was cool enough to dump into the carboy.  I took it outside and upon pulling the wort pot out of the canning pot, little flakes of soot poofed up into the air and a few landed in the wort.  Super!  At this point I'm just ready to be done so I grab some paper towels and dab up the black flecks as best I can.

After the carboy is filled and a hydrometer sample was taken, I confirmed what I had assumed - the starting gravity (which should have been 1.056) was 1.044.  Low but not that low.  Not entirely discouraged and somewhat as I had planned, I dumped a 1/2 pound of sugar into the carboy.  After a hearty shake session, I took another reading - 1.051.  Good enough for me.  The dry yeast I used was T-58, a strain designed for Belgian beers and fermentation took off almost immediately.  Within two hours the airlock was popping like mad. 

Now a few days later and the fermentation is slowing down.  I can see a tiny black speck floating at the top which annoys me but overall I'm happy with how things panned out.  Brewing outside is definitely better (especially since it keeps most of the beer making operation outside!) and once I figure out the fryer/soot issue (and get a better handle on the mash) I'll be good to go!

77 degrees in the basement - perfect for saison fermenting