Thursday, December 24, 2015

Old Mountain Field 5k Trail Race 2015

Office time: 22:15.  8th overall.  3rd in Age Group.  Results here.

Once again it is time for the South County 4th Season Trail season put on by Mike Galoob.  It's always a fun, low-key race series that brings out the best local runners.  Last year featured some stiff team competition between WTAC and Rhode Runners, with WTAC taking the win thanks to RR not showing up for this race last year.  That would not be the case this year as they were out in force.

Past races here involved frigid temperatures, plenty of snow or both.  This year was downright pleasant.  Most people had more layers but after a short warm-up I was content to run in the singlet and gloves.  Galoob lined us up and went over the course - it was plenty different from previous years.  We'd be going in the opposite direction and incorporating some new trails.  With a shout from Mike we were off.  The new start was less frantic which was a big plus.  After rounding the ballfield I entered the woods, close on the heels of the lead pack.

The start was more reasonable than year's past - Photo by Jana Walker

Hot on the heels of the lead pack as we enter the woods (it would not last)
Photo by Jana Walker

A young kid in a Level Renner singlet was ahead of me and began to slip and trip almost immediately.  The uphill climb made passing tough and once it leveled off I went by him, sticking close to the lead pack.  This was probably a mistake but it was hard to ease off.  Jeff soon went by me and he quickly put distance on me.  I heard footsteps behind me so I tried to keep the pace up.  We hit a muddy stretch, most of which I just plowed through.  The mud/leaves was definitely slick and there was some slipping/sliding on my part.  A bearded fella passed me on this muddy section and soon Chris Fox did the same.  I didn't have another gear to stick with them and watched them speed off after Jeff.

A respite from the trail with Bob Corsi hunting me down
Photo by Jana Walker

The muddy section ended with a stream crossing and then we doubled back on familiar trails before heading around the pond.  There was no one in front of me now.  The passers had left me in the dust.  Robert Corsi and a bunch of Rhode Runners were on my heels so I tried to push hard through the next rooty section.  We came out of the woods for a brief section of pavement/grass and I was very tired now.  Galoob was there and said that there were big hills up ahead.  Great.

Back in the woods, Galoob's hills soon arrived and I felt like I was barely moving up them.  I was hurting now and ready to be done.  The hills were followed by a twisty section of new downhill trail before it began to climb one last time.  I saw bearded guy amongst these turn arounds but he was way ahead.  When the final downhill section began I could see that I had a big lead over Corsi & Co. which was good as I was feeling spent.  I crossed the finish line in 8th place, wiped out but happy with my race.

Wrapping up the pain - Photo by Jana Walker

It was a tough race for everyone.  People were muddy and bloody at the finish.  Jonny had a great race and placed third.  Shira Fuller was the female winner. Unfortunately the Rhode Runners made a statement, placing 1st, 2nd and 4th.  They easily took the male team competition but luckily the WTAC women also showed up to race and took the win for the ladies.  Afterwards a very short cooldown and then food and conversation as Galoob distributed prizes like Santa Claus.  This is always a fun race and I'm looking forward to the Resolution 5k next month.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Weekly Log: 12.14.15 - 12.20.15

The 4th Season winter trail series begins anew this weekend.  Looking forward to the team rivalry and I'm happy that the weather has cooperated as much as it has.

Monday - East Providence, RI - 2 miles

I had big plans to run around East Providence/Providence to take care of some errands.  I brought my Deuter Speedlite daypack that I nabbed at the last REI yard sale.  It's small but can hold much stuff.  I figure it'll be perfect for mountain adventures.  Unfortunately as I head to the post office a mile away the front of my right foot began to ache at the ankle.  This was frustrating - it had happened at the end of yesterday's long run but I had chacked it up to irritation where the shoe met the flesh.  I guess not.  I ended up just running back to the office rather than risk making it worse.

Tuesday - 0 miles

Ankle still hurts so I'm taking it easy for a bit.

Wednesday - 0 miles

Another zero to let the foot heal.

Thursday - East Providence, RI - 6.2 miles

I dropped my car off for an inspection and I ran two miles back to the office.  Foot felt fine.  Extended the run a bit in the afternoon before picking up the car.  Foot seems good to go.

Friday - Providence, RI - 7.8 miles

Another errand run, this one over by the mall in Providence.  Brought my daypack again and enjoyed running in the rain.  Picked up a Christmas gift for my wife and then made my way back to the office.  No foot pain so that's good.  Crossing the Henderson bridge, I crossed paths with a guy who looked like the speedy fella who has been stealing my Strava segments.  Sure enough, the Strava flyby function confirmed that was the guy.  I love technology.

Saturday - South Kingstown, RI - 5.2 miles

Old Mountain Field 5k.  8th overall.  Report forthcoming.

Sunday - 0 miles

By late afternoon yesterday the arch of my right foot really began to ache.  Somehow I must have tweaked it at the race.  It felt better today but still not great so I opted to take it easy.  Still on my feet all day as I got my Christmas shopping done.  A new early record for me!

Weekly Mileage: 21.2 miles
Year to Date: 1,937.5 miles

I'm closing in on 2000 miles for the year but with my foot seeming to act up from this weekend's race, will I be stumbling to the finish line or falling just short?

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Weekly Log: 12.7.15 - 12.13.15

Monday - Huntington Beach, CA - 6.2 miles

We were flying out of California at 1 PM.  I got up early, packed my suitcases and went out for a farewell run as the sky lightened.  I struggled on the deep sand for a mile before spending a few minutes on the pier, watching the many surfers enjoy the big waves.  I can see the appeal though surfing isn't for me.  Then I spent a few minutes on the neighbor streets checking out the small but groovy houses.  A quick stop for souvenirs for the girls and then I finished with a few more miles on the bike path/beach.  I will miss it here.

Tuesday - 0 miles

Back in Rhode Island and I took Miriam up to look at UMass Amherst so no time for a run today.

Wednesday - 0 miles

Even though I had another day off I just couldn't motivate myself to run early.  The day got away from me and the run never happened.

Thursday - North Kingstown/Providence, RI - 14.7 miles

To make up for yesterday, I opted for a double today.  First I did an easy tour of Ryan Park.  Let's hope the 4th Season race there is runnable this year.  When I arrived at the office I realized I left my lunch at home.  Curses!  I ordered a falafel for lunch from East Side Pockets and then ran over there to pick it up.  Carrying the wrap all the way back to the office was a pain but it sure was tasty.

Friday - 0 miles

Only two days of work this week but I just didn't have any time to run today.

Saturday - Hopkinton, RI - 5.5 miles

After dropping Ezri at a birthday party, I ventured to Long Pond and ran the technical, steep trails there.  Plenty of hikers enjoying the beautiful day.  After two miles of rocky trails, I stuck with roads to get back to the car.  A short run that was fun but it wore me out.

Sunday - Charlestown, RI - 15 miles

Met up with Muddy at the Breachway Grill and we ran a mix of road and beach.  We started at the Breachway but the beach was more work than we liked so we took roads over to Green Hill.  We struggled through another mile of beach (with a surprisingly high number of dead seagulls) before sticking to roads for the remainder of the run.  We weren't going that fast but this run wore me out.  Probably a mix of the beach miles and being out of shape.

Weekly Mileage: 41.4 miles
Year to Date: 1916.3 miles

Pleased to get to 40 miles this week despite taking so many zeroes.  And now I've only got another 84 miles to go to hit 2000 for the year.  Almost there!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Mews Tavern "Gear & Beer" 6.9k 2015

Official time: 26:33.   22nd overall.  3rd in Age Group.  Results here.

The Mews Tavern race is always a fun time but just like the Li’l Rhody Runaround it had taken a back seat since I signed up for the RI 6 Hour.  I was feeling much about this race than Li’l Rhody with another week of recovery under my belt.  This would be the second year it was extended to a 6.9k.  Last year I had been slowed by that fall’s knee injury.  I was fairly confident that with my health and mileage I’d be able to best last year’s time.

They staggered the start this year which is why it looks there's only thirty
people running - Photo by Easter Seals

The weather was mild and I did my usual warmup.  The race starts off on that annoying uphill and did my best not to push too hard.  Once we turned onto Willard Ave I found myself running next to Dan Hawkins for the second race in a row.  He soon gapped me and a couple other guys quickly followed suit.  A glance at the watch confirmed what I felt – I was running about a 6:15 pace. 

And that’s the pace I would run for the rest of the race.  They changed the course slightly from last year which threw me off and made me think that I was closer than I actually was.  The last ¼ mile is a fast downhill – I managed to pass one guy but couldn’t find another gear to catch the next fellow just ahead of me.  

The only picture of me finishing - as the
female winner is interviewed
Photo by Easter Seals

Turns out he was 2nd in my age group so that would deny me a prize (they only go two deep).  I thought that at least I’d be a few seconds faster than last year but no, I was slower by 23 seconds.

At the time I was bummed by my performance but after awhile I got over it.  I may be in better (running) shape than last year but I was still only two weeks removed from the 40 mile ultra.  Plus I'm probably about ten pounds heavier than last year.  Also I’ve done no speed work in the last year and I think that without it I’ve reached a plateau with regards to my top speed.  I’ll need to get back to the track and drop a couple pounds if I want to be faster in these short races.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Weekly Log: 11.30.15 - 12.6.15 - California Bound!

I’m California bound this week for my work’s annual meeting.  Looking forward to spending some time on the other side of the country and hope I can get in a bunch of good runs.

Monday – Huntington Beach, CA – 10 miles

We flew friggin’ early out of Boston – the upside that we got to Cali at noon.  After a lunch at the Hyatt Regency (our home for the next week) I took an hour nap and then went out to explore the bike path.  The hotel is right on the beach and the path goes for miles in both directions.  The beach itself is very wide with huge waves.  No wonder it’s known as Surf City.

View from the hotel terrace

Tuesday – Laguna Beach – 9 miles

All we had to do today was get things set up and we were done by noon.  We had rented a big van and after dropping my off coworkers downtown, I headed down the Pacific Coast Highway to check out the Crystal Cove Canyons. Took me a couple tries to find it but once I did it proved to be unlike any run we have in Rhode Island.  It’s a ¼ mile from the coast but the trail immediately climbs 750 feet up along a ridgeline.  This was a tough climb but I was rewarded with incredible views of the coast.  I followed the ridgeline and began to get nervous about rattlesnakes (I didn’t see/hear any).  The trails were wide dirt roads with no obstacles.  As I descended I hit some hardpack single track which was fun to run down…until it got really steep and I had to slow myself down in a hurry.  Psyched I got this run in on Day 2 as the conference begins tomorrow and my running will be limited from here on out.
The initial uphill across from the ocean

With little ground cover the views were excellent

The largest mountain in the region - Santiago Peak

Posed for a picture up at one of the campsites along the ridge
Beautiful hills everywhere!

Wednesday – 0 miles

Thursday – Huntington Beach, CA – 6.2 miles

I had been tasked with leading a fun run at the conference on Saturday morning.  A bridge from the hotel leads over the busy road and directly to the bike path.  I knew we’d just be following the path for 1.5 miles one direction so this morning I ran both options.  Heading north took us next to downtown HB and might be more interesting.  Heading south was quieter as the beach becomes a state park.  I had called Beach Services and was told to keep this event on the DL so while less interesting I think the south route may be the better choice.  I’ll have to think about it.

Friday – 0 miles

My only time to run is in the early AM. However this morning I was overseeing the 6 AM Yoga session, part of my charge as the unofficial “Wellness Coordinator.”  We had a good turnout of about twenry people and everyone enjoyed it.  The yogi was named Rueben and he was a charming guy.  I was able to participate.  I haven’t done any yoga in a while and it showed. In the afternoon there was another yoga session.  Due to the location and time of date it wasn’t as popular but we still got ten people to attend.

Saturday – Huntington Beach, CA – 6.5 miles

It was the day of the fun run.  I woke up at 4:30 so that I could go out and mark the course with glow rings.  I decided that the course would head north as we were heading out pretty early and I thought it would be more interesting.  I hung a few rings in obvious places and thought that with it being a bike path there wouldn’t be too much trouble.  I stuck three rings on the signpost where people would turn around.

We ended up getting thirty people to show up which I was really happy with.  Everyone that showed up got a free tech shirt I designed.  I thought they were pretty sharp.  I explained how far we’d be going and then we made our way across the bridge and were off.  I took it easy at first to make sure everyone was accounted for and then I sped up to check on the front runners.  I should have been faster – there was a split in the bike path I didn’t account for and a couple folks went the wrong way (they ran parallel so it wasn’t a major deal).  The problem was that by the time we reach the split daylight had robbed the glowrings of their power.  I ended up staying there and directing the rest of the runners.

Not a major thing and people turned around at the appropriate point thanks to a doctor named Lou who had agreed to help out with the run.  Everyone who came up to me afterwards enjoyed the run and were happy we added the event so in the end it was a big success.

Post-fun run with coworker Carol
Photo by Justina Andonian

Sunday – Aliso Viejo – 11.5 miles

Started the day with another early morning Yoga session.  Sadly we didn't have much of a turnout.  I guess the morning after the late night gala was more than people could take.  By 11 AM the conference was done.  The AAAP Board treated us all to spa appointments to say thanks for all our hard work.  I got a deep tissue therapeutic massage.  It was rocketsauce.

We weren’t flying out until tomorrow so after the massage I headed for the Aliso and Wood Canyons, recommended to me by rollerskiing maestro Chris Garvin.  I  had enjoyed the Crystal Cove Canyon but this place was way way better.  It was packed withpeople – I was constantly seeing hikers and mountain bikers.  The trails were so hardpacked that the mountain bikers were flying down the trails. Dangerously so at points.  You had to keep your eye out for them.  After a couple easy miles in the canyon I began the climb towards “Top of the World.”  This was work but the views made it worth it.  With just low shrubs it was incredible views almost all the time.  Pretty amazing views of the mountains to the east and at the Top o’ World there were great views of the coastline below. 

From here I took the ridgeline out but then realized it was getting pretty late.  With the sun setting behind the ridge it was getting dark in a hurry.  I hurried down the Rock-It trail which was fast, steep and very fun.  By the time I reached the canyon floor it was quite dark but the trails were flat and the last 1.5 miles is on pavement.  Great run and I’m so glad I got to check this place out before I head home.

Lots of fire warnings with the drought stricken landscape

Cool caves in the canyon

The trails go off into the distance seemingly forever

Hardpacked dirt and rock trails

The trail leading to the "Top of the World"

Oh to have reached those mountains

Weekly Mileage: 43.2 miles

Year to Date: 1,874.9 miles

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Li'l Rhody Runaround 2015

Official time: 56:40.  26th overall.  6th in Age Group.  Results here.

The Li’l Rhody Runaround has always been a signature trail race in Rhode Island for a lot of people, though it’s often been less than successful for me.  I rolled my ankle badly one year and last year I bowed out with knee problems.  This year I pulled the trigger on the RI 6 Hour Ultra that was scheduled for the week prior.  That race went great but I knew that I was essentially giving up a chance of success at Li’l Rhody in doing so.

It had been a slow recovery from the 6 Hour.  For the first few days I was visibly sore but by Sunday I was feeling alright.  Amanda decided at the last minute to join the race and that was good to see.  We got there with plenty of time to chat up the usual suspects.  After a short warm-up a sea of orange shirts lined up and we were off. 

And we're off! - Photo by Scott Mason

I tried to reign it in but the race goes out fast.  I did my best to keep my pace in check.  Matt Walker didn’t go by me for a ½ mile which had me concerned.  Turns out he had a strategy in place – a sound one which would net him third place. By the time we reached the playground the pace felt hard and I wondered how long I would hold on. 

Past the camp I led a couple guys who remarked that I looked strong.  Ha!  Saw Nate V cheering us on near Buckeye Brook Rd which was appreciated.  But at mile 3 there’s a small climb and my legs immediately felt tired.  My pace slowed and a series of runners began to pass me.  That was pretty much it.  With sore legs and my pace slowing I had little desire to hang on and gut it out.  From that point I took it easy and didn’t push myself on the run.  I finished about four minutes slower than two years ago.

Props to Matthew Walker for an impressive 3rd place finish.  He’s a demon now.  And shame on the bandit who pushed the pace with front runners Greg Hammett and Bronson Venable.  So a lackluster performance for me but I expected it a week removed from the 6 Hour so I'm not bummed.  Next weekend brings the race trilogy to a close with the Mews Tavern 6.9k.  We'll see how that goes!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Weekly Log: 11.23.15 - 11.29.15

Monday - Charlestown, RI - 2.7 miles

Just an easy dog jog in the morning.

Tuesday - Johnston, RI - 7.5 miles

A morning run in the Snake Den.  I got some new Salomon trail shoes on clearance.  I really dug 'em and the quick tie laces - until one of them broke off fifteen minutes into the run.  I sort of tied it up to hold it together and continued on.  This was a fun run and the climbs were good. I was surprised at the fire damage near the sketchy tire area.  Apparently there had been brush fires back in May which spread into the Den.

Wednesday - Charlestown, RI - 6.5 miles

I got to work from home the day before Thanksgiving so I hit up Carter Preserve after dropping Ezri off at school.  It was fairly cold out there but I warmed up quick.  I did my usual Carter run including a stint along the traintracks.  The land trust bought additional land and have been clearing a ton of it.  It'll be interesting to see what becomes of it.

Thursday - Charlestown, RI - 5.1 miles

I took Oliver for a long run in the morning up to the Nordic Lodge.  A nice easy run before the feast.

Friday - Charlestown, RI - 13 miles

I wanted to get a long run in and we were going to a friend's house for a party at Curtis Corner. Amanda suggested I run there which proved to be fun.  I went down Worden's Pond and then up Ministerial to hit the bike path.  I explored a few short trails along the bike path as I went.  The pace was fairly snappy towards the end and I got to shower at my destination before feasting.  Good run!

Saturday - Exeter, RI - 10.5 miles

In the morning I parked at Cuttyhunk and did a mix of trails and Stony Lane.  The miles from yesterday caught up with me by the halfway point and the rest of the run was a slog.  The last few miles were tough but I explored some new trails north of Cuttyhunk which made the effort worth it.

Sunday - Charlestown, RI - 2.4 miles

My legs were beat from the previous two d.ays.  I had hoped to grind out a few more miles to reach fifty but it seemed to be a silly goal.  Instead I hiked in Carter Preserve with the family.  We saw a runner off in the distance who proved to be Jonny.  It's funny, the Strava flyby showed we almost ran into him twice.

Weekly Mileage: 47.4 miles

Year to Date: 1,831.9 miles

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Weekly Log: 11.16.15 - 11.22.15

After a lackluster performance at Li'l Rhody due to recovering from the RI 6 Hour, I'm not sure what will happen this weekend when I have the Mews Tavern 6.9k.  It's too bad these three races weren't in the opposite order.  Oh well.  I had already signed up for the Mews so I'll definitely be there.  Just not sure what I'll get out of my legs.

Monday - 0 miles

Legs still sore from attempting Li'l Rhody Runaround yesterday so I took it easy today.

Tuesday - North Kingstown, RI - 5 miles

T'was cold out there this morning!  I did an easy five miles around Ryan Park.  Five miles was enough which indicates that I'm still recovering from the RI 6 Hour.

Wednesday - Seekonk, MA - 6.3 miles

Went out for a country roada loop in Seekonk at lunchtime.  Not too cool but I still felt the need for gloves.  Should've just left 'em behind and had chilled hands for a mile 'cause I ended up carrying them most of the way.  Chris Fox past my on his bike and he turned back and kept me company for a few minutes while we chatted about Li'l Rhody.  Hopefully we can meet up for some speed work in a few weeks when things settle down for me.

Thursday - Smithfield, RI - 5.5 miles

Before work I headed up to Wolf Hill for another easy trail run. Someone had been to work on half the trails with a leafblower.  The other half had heavy leaf cover.  An enjoyable fall run at one of my favorite RI spots.

Friday - 0 miles

No time for a run today.  Which is fine as I'm planning on attending a group run tomorrow and I have the Mews race on Sunday.

Saturday - Stonington, CT - 6 miles

Jeff organized a group run in honor of Mike B who's been going through some tough times.  It has been awhile since I ran with everyone and I do mean everyone - we had ten people!  This was a fun easy run through the Barn Island trails.  After six miles I said goodbye because I wanted to stay fresh for the Mews.  We'll have to get back in the habit of more runs like this.

Sunday - Wakefield, RI - 7.4 miles

Mews Tavern 6.9k.  Official time: 26:33.  22nd overall.  Report forthcoming.

Weekly Mileage: 30.2 miles

Year to Date: 1,784.2 miles

Happy to get back to a more normal week of running after finally recovering from the effects of the ultra.  The rest of the year will be packed with the holidays and a long business trip but hopefully I can keep the mileage up and hit 2000 for the year.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

RI 6 Hour Ultra 2015

40.5 miles in 5:42:57.  4th overall. 3rd male.  Results here.

Up until now I had drifted through 2015 without any marquis long distance event in mind.  I spent the winter/spring building up mileage again after last fall's knee injury.  I continued to up mileage through the summer, hitting a nice groove of 50 mile weeks.  But I was running without a goal in mind and my long runs were sporadic and usually topped out at 14 miles.  I was running more than ever but date conflicts and nervousness about the state of my knee kept me from committing to a long fall race.  As we entered October I began to think about Bob Jackman's RI 6 Hour Ultra.  The idea of running a 2.7 mile pavement loop for six hours sounded terribly masochistic and was not my cup of tea.  Ultimately I decided to pull the trigger a week prior.  I was feeling good about my fitness and liked that I could go into this race with no real goal other than to just run and see how everything felt.  With the short loop format I wouldn't have to worry about fuel or clothing, instead relying on the aid table and a nearby drop bag.

Of course I had think about a distance goal.  Based on last year's Pineland 50k and my current mileage, forty miles seemed a reasonable distance to cover in six hours.  I figured if I could cover 50k in around 4:20, that would give me an hour forty to cover nine miles - a reachable goal no matter what state I was in.  I didn't have any doubt I'd cover the time, the question was how long before the suffering began. I had run 2 hours 45 minutes of trails with Muddy two weeks prior.  The last half hour of that had been tough.  I had a couple 2+ hour runs back in August but you had to go back to April to find another 3 hour run.  How long would my legs hold out?

It was cold when I arrived but was forecast to get up to the 50s for perfect running weather.  I arrived with plenty of time to set up my own chair/race bag next to the aid station.  The nice thing about this race was that with the short loop format I'd have plenty of opportunities to change clothes/shoes or patch up my body if necessary.  I was able to just dump a bunch of everything into my bag and not worry too much about the particulars.  I decided to go with the Hoka One One Mafate Speed.  They had been serving me well lately but I brought the Asics Cumulus as back-up.

My green chair sits quietly next to the aid station.
No, I didn't sit in it until afterwards.

Race Director Jackman called us over and went through the pre-race spiel.  Then we were off, moving along the bike path at a reasonable pace.  I was determined to keep the first mile over 8 minutes.  I started running next to a guy and we chitchatted for much of the first lap.  I finished the first lap in 21 minutes.  The loops continued and I was in the 20-22 minute range for the first ten loops.   These first couple hours felt good.  Pace was in the 7:30-8:00 range for the first 25 miles.  I was grabbing water/heed and bananas every loop.  Salt tabs at miles 15 and 27.  A couple port-o-john stops as well.

I had never been to Warwick Park and was surprised how large it was.  As the loops accumulated, I mentally separated the course into three sections.  The first was along a series of baseball fields. These fields seemed to go on forever and mentally wore me down. The next section was along the rolling road and gave you a chance to see up ahead.  This was followed by my favorite section of the course, along the water.  This part was the hilliest with some fun rollers.  They weren't much at first but as the loops wore on, the hills began to slow me down.  By mile 34 or so I started walking some of them.  These hills made it hard to pin down the distance to the finish.  I kept thinking I was farther along than I was.

After mile thirty the going got tougher.  I was now four hours in and my legs were feeling pretty sore. I hit my goal of a 4:10ish 50k so I knew I was in good shape.  I caught Jackman around this time and he told me I was third.  Not long after I was passed the woman's leader Maddy Hribar along with another guy who wasn't racing.  She's won this race several times and has 100 milers and such under her belt.  I hung with then for about a mile.  I enjoyed the conversation but it was hard to keep that pace and I finally dropped back.

From here my pace fell slowly and surely.  I was really feeling the work and forward momentum felt more like a shuffle.  I appreciated having so many people on the path.  I would latch onto runners and have them pull me along for a minute before passing them and moving on to the next.  In addition to the runners, there were plenty of folks just out walking.  I was friendly with them early on but by the later loops I began to ignore them.  Just obstacles to avoid.  By mile 35 I was five hours in.  A true shuffle began.  There were short periods of walking, especially as I exited the aid station.  I passed Crutchley for the last time and I felt beat.

I really like this breakdown by lap as it gives a good overview of the race.
The first ten laps were consistent.  Then the slow decay began...

Let me say at this point that the aid station crew was great.  They greeted me by name on every lap and were most helpful, always willing to fill my bottle (I began to carry it and sip constantly for the last couple hours).  I probably should have known their names so I apologize for that.  They all were very encouraging, especially towards the end when I wasn't in great spirits.  As I shuffled into the aid station for the last time I was tired but feeling positive since I had 45 minutes to complete one more lap.  I downed a couple cups on Coke.  Normally I don't go for soda but I needed a jolt.  That seemed to help and I didn't feel so bad on the last lap.  I was moving pretty well considering how I felt and in fact I finished 70 seconds ahead of the previous lap.

I finished with 17 minutes to spare.  I'm thankful I didn't have enough time to consider another lap (I watched poor Mr. Crutchley come in a minute after the race ended - he had put in a hard fought effort on that last lap!)  For third place I got a cool stick guy trophy and some cash.  Can't beat that!  By the time the awards were presented I was already starting to hobble around and it would be several days before I could walk down the stairs unassisted.

I'm really thrilled with how everything unfolded.  I wasn't sure how the legs would hold up but they got me to the 50k only a few minutes off my Pineland time.  The knee wasn't an issue at all and I never thought about it.  The narrow Hokas began to aggravate my pinkies with two hours to go - I ignored this and it never became an issue.  Overall this race gave me a lot of confidence about my endurance and now I can start thinking in earnest about a big spring race.  Thanks to Bob Jackman and all the volunteers but putting on this event - it's a fun time and the six hours goes faster than you'd think!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Weekly Log: 11.9.15 - 11.15.15

This will be an easy week following the forty miles I ran at the RI 6 Hour Ultra (I'm slow getting the report done but look for it later this week).  Unfortunately by running the 6 Hour I accept that I probably sabotaged my chances of putting up a PR at Lil Rhody Runaround this weekend.  I still intend to run but I'm not sure what shape I'll be in.

Monday - 0 miles

Good lord, I don't think I've ever been this sore before.  I can barely walk.  I probably should have a cane.  Going up stairs is slow, going down is treacherous.  I hold onto the rail for dear life.  It takes two hands to lower myself onto the toilet.  I've heard gym guys talking about leg day - this feels like the affects of leg day times ten.

Tuesday - 0 miles

Slightly better than yesterday but I'm still a shambling mess.  Thankfully everything just feels really sore and not injured.  Just the result of 40 miles of pavement.  The next long one will definitely be a return to trails.

Wednesday - Charlestown, RI - 2 miles

The worst of the soreness finally appears to be over.  I was working from home due to Veterans Day and I took the dog out at lunchtime.  Two miles was enough for me and even with the 9 minute pace my quads began to get angry after two miles.

Thursday - West Greenich, RI - 5 miles

My legs were feeling much better today so I took to Big River for some easy trails miles.  I kept the pace slow and stuck to the widest trails - Sawmill and the New London Turnpike - but by the last mile my legs were feeling it.  Still it was good to get out there.  I'm hopeful that Sunday's race won't be a total shitshow now.

Friday - 0 miles

I didn't have much motivation to run at lunch.  Okay, I had no motivation.  This has been a slothful, gluttonous week.  Consider it a victory lap after last Sunday.  At any rate, this can't continue but for now I'm content to bask in the lazy.  On the plus side, the legs feel normal now.

Saturday - 0 miles

I took Em up to Boston to look at a couple colleges (I can't believe she goes to college next year).  Since I bailed on yesterday that means no running the last two days.  Chumpy but I'm alright with it considering I'm running an eight mile race tomorrow.  We'll see how it goes.

Sunday - Charlestown, RI - 10 Miles

Li'l Rhody Runaround.  56:40.  26th overall.  Quads became unruly around mile 3 and I took it easy the rest of the race.  Report forthcoming (maybe).

Weekly Mileage: 17 miles
Year to Date: 1,754 miles

The recovery from the 6 Hour would not be denied.  While my soreness was gone by the weekend, my legs were still in no shape to race.  It'll probably be another easy week as I have yet another unwise race next weekend (Mews Tavern 6.9k).

Monday, November 9, 2015

Weekly Log: 11.2.15 - 11.8.15

With the decision to enter the RI 6 Hour Ultra this weekend, this will be a very easy week.  I'm so used to having to fit in a week of runs that it'll be weird to have so much free time.

Monday - 0 miles

Tuesday - 0 miles

Wednesday - East Providence, RI - 5 miles

I went out a lunch for an easy five along the East Bay bike path.  My pace wasn't anything special but it felt like work and I spent the run dwelling on this weekend's race and feeling unprepared.  My knees were twingy too.  Just pre-race nerves but it was annoying.

Thursday - Cranston, RI - 4 miles

I felt like spicing it up so before work I picked a random spot in Cranston and attempted to explore some nearby powerlines/trails I saw on Google.  I missed the road I was searching for and ended up parking elsewhere.  Then I did an easy loop involving another stretch of powerline followed by a short exploration of a golf course.  Pretty hilly area and people drive way too fast on backcountry roads.  I may never step on that land again.

Friday - East Providence, RI - 4 miles

Before work, I went to the Ten Mile River Bike Path for one last easy run.  Calves felt tight which wasn't reassuring but otherwise an uneventful run.

Saturday - 0 miles

Sunday - Warwick, RI - RI 6 Hour Ultra - 40.5 miles

4th overall.  40.5 miles over 5 hours and 43 minutes.  Very excited about this run.  Report forthcoming.

Weekly Mileage: 53.5 miles

Year to Date: 1,737.3 miles

Friday, November 6, 2015

Weekly Log: 10.26.15 - 11.1.15

Monday - 0 miles

My legs were pretty trashed from the long run with Muddy yesterday so I took it easy today.

Tuesday - East Greenwich, RI - 10.4 miles

115 push-ups (standard/military/wide) 20/15/20/20/20/20

With an early start, I parked at the park on Frenchtown Road and decided to do a mix of roads and trails.  It was mid 30s and dark to start and I ran with a hat and headlamp for the first mile.  I ran the roads up to the Hopkins Hill Rd parking lot at Big River.  I wore the Hokas which worked pretty well on the roads but as soon as I entered the trails I was aware of how unbalanced I was.  This will definitely be the last time I wear them on technical stuff.  I managed to get myself lost pretty early on before taking the ridge up around Carr Pond.  After a couple miles in the woods I came out upon South Road and followed it to complete a big loop.  Fun run that got warmer and lighter as I went.

Back in the office I did some push-ups which I've really chumped out on lately.  They were pretty tough and my numbers were way down which is to be expected.

Wednesday - Seekonk, MA - 6.5 miles

Not much motivation today but I got it done.  Parked at Caratunk Preserve and ran some roads I hadn't been on before.  They led me up to almost Attleboro and then I took some train track trails for a bit before returning to the car on familiar roads.  Rain drops began to fall just as I got back to the car so I timed it right.

Thursday - East Providence, RI - 10 miles
The rest of Wednesday was a rainy mess but by lunch time on Thursday it was beautiful out.  I arrived at work early so that I could extend my lunch run instead of trying to get out early in the nastiness.  This proved to be the right choice.  I took the bike path from Riverside down into Barrington.  I explored a small network of trails along Brickyard Pond before taking some fancy housed roads back to the bike path.  Pace was in the low 7s and I was feeling good on this run.

Friday - 0 miles

Saturday - 0 miles

Two days of no running - just didn't have time/inclination.  However this week of running convinced me to finally pull the trigger on a big race.  I signed up for Bob Jackman's 6 Hour Ultra in Warwick Park next weekend.  Even though I haven't been purposefully training and my long runs have been woefully inconsistent, my mileage has been up so I feel like I should be able to grind out a decent performance.  I've never done a timed event and normally multiple short loops wouldn't be my thing but I think this is a good year for me to jump into it and see how it goes.

Sunday - North Kingstown, RI - 8.1 miles

This run almost didn't happen but I didn't want to make it three days in a row of not running.  I finally set out for a loop in Quonset.  I didn't want to run too long as I guess I'm now in taper mode.  A good run to finish the week and start November.

Weekly Mileage; 35.1 miles

Year to Date: 1,683.8 miles

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Weekly Log: 10.19.15 - 10.25.15

Amanda's away for much of the week so dog walking duties fall to me.  This should help me get a decent amount of mileage this week.

Monday - Charlestown/Providence, RI - 8.1 miles

Took the dog out for a couple miles in the cold dark of 5:30 AM.  At lunch time I did a meandering run over to College Hill.  Not much motivation but I got it done.

Tuesday - Charlestown/East Providence, RI - 10.5 miles

Grinded out ten miles through a sad triple.  First a dog jog in the morning (at least it wasn't freezing like yesterday).  Then at lunch I did a quick four mile loop along the East Providence shoreline.  It's a filthy place which is sad.  Then after work I did another four miles along the bike path.  Another low motivation day but I got through it.

Wednesday - 0 miles

The lack of motivation finally caught up to me.  I failed to take the dog out in the morning as was my charge.  I stayed in bed instead.  And that lethargy continued throughout the day.  My boss brought in a big bowl of Twix and Snickers and I was took weak to ignore them.

Thursday - Charlestown, RI/Seekonk, MA - 10.7 miles

The day off seemed to work.  I got the dog jog done in the morning and at lunch ventured to the country roads of Seekonk.  There's a powerline section I've been eyeballing for the last year and I finally decided to get after it.  It begins with a pricker strewn path through a swampy section that was finally dry enough to be of minimal nuisance.  Then there was a good stretch of utility road which led to some doubletrack.  I dumped me out on familiar roads and I took them around to the Cuttyhunk Preserve.  This run was a fun mix of quiet road and trails.  Glad I finally got to those powerlines.

Friday - Seekonk, MA - 5.1 miles

I returned to Seekonk for more trails but I once again had little pep.  I ground out five miles on most dirt road trails but it was a chore.

Saturday - 0 miles

Sunday - Hopkinton, RI - 19 miles

I met Muddy at Ashville Pond for a two hour trail run.  A light rain began to fall but the miles went quick spurned on by good conversation. We took trails past Yawgoog Pond up to Green Falls Road and then stuck to dirt roads for a bit before taking those same trails past Yawgoog.  At this point we were closing on two hours and it was clear that we'd be out longer than anticipated.  I was actually glad of this because I had been shirking my long runs and it was about time I got an honest one in.  However my legs were really beginning to feel it.  I also had the start of those damn bloody nipples so I had to peel my shirt off lest it get ruined.  Finally we closed in on our cars and we had to decide between the legbeater trails of Long Pond or dirt roads.  We chose the dirt roads but it ended up beginning considerably longer than we thought.  By the time we got to the lot we were approaching three hours.  My legs were useless.  A hard run but just what I needed.

Weekly Mileage: 53.4 miles

Year to Date: 1610.2 miles

Monday, October 26, 2015

Weekly Log: 10.12.15 - 10.18.15

Monday - 0 miles

My legs were shot from last weekend in New Hampshire so I content to take a zero.

Tuesday - East Providence, RI - 7.1 miles

Not much motivation today but I got myself out to the Ten Mile River Bikepath and did a mix of trails, path and pavement.  I ended up moving pretty well despite how lethargic I felt.

Wednesday - 0 miles

Legs are still sore and I had things to do so no running today.

Thursday - Johnston, RI - 8 miles

Got up to the Snake Den for an early morning run.  Crisp out there but I warmed up pretty quickly.  Instead of the usual Connector trail I took the road over to the power line trails.  This was a nice change.  I also discovered a well marked dirt bike trail.  Lots of orange blazes and orange arrows pointing the way.  It was barely a trail in places.  I wore the Hokas and I had to be really careful about rolling my ankles here.  I enjoy running in these shoes but they just don't work for me on anything remotely technical - they really want to roll on me.  Anyway the dirt bike trail was a lot of fun but the markings ended and I had to bushwack briefly to rejoin it.  After that I went up to the scenic vista before heading back via the Connector trail.  Just as I'm stepping off the trail I roll my ankle pretty badly of course.  Damnit!

Friday - East Providence, RI - 7 miles

Beautiful autumn day but I was aimless about where to go.  I headed over to Riverside and had the idea to attempt a segment around Bullocks Point.  It's a neighborhood loop of about 1.5 miles.  I pushed it as best I could.  I was happy to see 5:20ish on the watch for a while but then it caught up to me and I was over 6 minute pace by the end.  Unfortunately the segment began and ended a 1/4 mile farther up the road.  Whoops.  Still happy to see that I've got some speed in those legs - Strava says it was my third fastest mile at 5:36.  The rest of the run was meandering through coastal neighborhoods followed by some bike path to tack on mileage.

Saturday - North Kingstown, RI - 14 miles

I ran around N.K. for my weekend's long run.  Started at Wilson Park and first ran through Wickford neighborhoods.  Then I headed down to Rome Point. Ran into a friend pulling his daughter on Terre Mar and walked with him for a few minutes.  In Rome Point I was already getting tired but I did find a new trail that skirts the southern boundary which I really liked.  It spits you out at the old chimney in the woods.  I took Annaquatucket up to the old railbed and followed that to the library and then the car.  My legs were very tired by the end.

Sunday - Charlestown, RI - 2.1 miles

Took the dog out in the afternoon for a very easy jog.

Weekly Mileage: 38.4 miles
Year to Date: 1,556.8

A lower mileage week but my legs were pretty sore from all that hiking.  Overall I'm happy with my mileage lately.  I've hit 50 miles in six of the last twelve weeks.  Pretty good!  As you can see from the graph below, I've overtaken the progress from the previous years.  If I can keep it up, this'll be my highest mileage year yet.

Red is 2015, purple is 2014 and orange is 2013

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

3-Day Pemi Loop Attempt - October 8-10, 2015

Several months ago Amanda and I booked a stay at the Greenleaf Hut on the slope of Mt. Lafayette for October.  I was going to take us over the very popular Franconia ridgeline hitting all the summits from Lafayette to Flume.  Things change and Amanda was no longer going with me so that prompted me to expand this trip and turn it into a longer solo adventure.  With the hut stay on a Friday night, I thought why not try to tackle the whole Pemi Loop?  Not wanting to stay at the Guyot Campsite on a Saturday night (I heard it gets crazy busy) I decided I would do the loop counter clockwise, hiking to the Bonds and staying at the Guyot Campsite on Thursday night, following the Garfield ridgeline to the Greenleaf Hut for Friday and then finishing with the Franconia Ridgeline on Saturday.  The weather was forecast to be clear and beautiful for Thursday and Saturday but it looked like rain was definitely coming on Friday.  I was prepared to forge ahead anyway and trust that my gear was sufficient.

I drove up to Dover, NH on Wednesday and stayed with my friend Rob.  He was actually planning to do some hiking in the Whites on Saturday as well so we arranged for him to meet me at the Greenleaf Hut on Saturday morning.  He'd have to leave pretty early to make it from Dover to the hut at a reasonable hour but I knew Rob was the sort of stubborn guy to get it done.

Thursday morning I left Dover at 6:30 AM, stopped at the White Mountain Visitor Center to get a week parking pass and was told by the old ladies there that it was going to be crazy packed with tourists this weekend.  Good thing I'm heading in early.  I parked at the Lincoln Woods lot which is a few miles down the road on the Kangamagus Highway.  I had a few false starts as I kept forgetting bits of gear in the car (I had already crossed the bridge when I realized I didn't have my sunglasses) but finally I was off and hiking by 9:15 AM.  

Lincoln Woods Bridge

Pemigewassett River runs along the trail for several miles

Peak foliage was in full effect

The first five miles were on an easy railbed

Some folks ride bikes for the first four miles which makes perfect sense
since these miles are mild and dull

Taking a break for twizzlers

The Lincoln Woods/Wilderness trail that begins the trip is very wide and gradual but it got boring after a while.  I dropped my pack off at an intersection to do a quick run up to Franconia Falls which was a nice break.  The pack weighed about 35 pounds but wasn't an issue, at least not yet.    I took breaks as needed and mostly just enjoyed the beautiful fall day.  Finally around mile five the trail changed direction and the climbing began.  I started to see folks descending at this point and was still making good time.  After four hours I finally reached the summit of Bondcliff and it didn't disappoint.  The views were incredible as was the famous profile of Bondcliff (being alone I did not get a shot of my feet dangling over the cliff and I doubt I would have had the stones to do so even if there was the opportunity).  

I took a long break here and had some lunch.  The climb from here to Mt. Bond was short but steep.  I took another break at Bond and a passerby snapped a picture for me.  I also had phone reception and was able to send out a text to my wife to let her know my first day was almost done.  Then it was an easy descent to the Guyot campsite where I was still paranoid about scoring a tent platform.  That fear proved to be unnecessary as the place was completely deserted - even the caretaker tent was gone.  I had planned to stay at Guyot because I was nervous about camping by myself and yet here I was.  Luckily a group of three showed up an hour later so I wouldn't be completely alone.

Happy to see this sign

Tricky to scale this with a heavy pack

Incredible views from Bondcliff

Just imagine I'm standing there on the cliff


View from Mt Bond - Washington and the Presidentials in the background

With my tent set up I ventured back up the trail to tag West Bond and enjoy the sunset over Franconia ridge.  I mistimed it badly and had to spend 45 minutes up there before it set.  But the views were enchanting and my synthetic coat kept me warm.  It also gave me time to reflect.  Then I returned to the darkening camp and made dinner in the "kitchen" using my whisperlite stove and one of those rehydrated backpacker meals (Beef Pho - good!)  With my belly full and complete darkness achieved at 7:30 PM I decided to turn in since it was going to be a cold night (28 degrees!)  I can't say I slept all that well.  I woke up every hour or so due to the cold and used some well placed hand warmers to keep my feet warm.  But overall I wasn't freezing and got a decent amount of rest.

I awoke at 6 AM as the first drops began to hit my tent.  I supposed I could have pulled up shop right away to avoid a wet tent but I was in no mood to rush.  Instead I cooked some breakfast (okay, I boiled water and poured it into a bag) and then spent a relaxing hour under the porch of the shelter, chatting with an older fellow who clearly has done a ton of backpacking over the years.  He and his son were also doing the Pemi Loop but as I set out their plan was to head for the 13 Falls Campsite instead.  I packed up under the cover of the shelter and by 9:30 AM made my way out into the steady drizzle.  While my start time was similar to yesterday, I didn't realize I was in for a longer day.

A long way from anything except the campsite

The Guyot Campsite Shelter

The "kitchen" (the tarp was helpful in the morning)

The spring was conveniently right next to the kitchen

Going into this trip I was nervous about bears and these signs did not help.
Glad to use the bear box rather than attempt to hang my food though.

I had my pick of the tent platforms

A very successful Day 1

The trails were flooded, almost all had standing water or streams.  I was moving slow but I was comfortable and the 50ish temp was no issue.  The wind above treeline was intense and nearly blew me over at times.  The summit of South Twin was crazy-windy and I was already feeling the effects.  From last year's trip I knew that it was a steep descent to the Galehead Hut and it took me a while to make my way down the slippery rocks.  I could hear the hut's windmill going crazy and I arrived at the hut two hours after I left the campsite, wet and with shaky legs.

I anticipated baked goods at the hut and I ate them (coffee cake and a mint chocolate bar).  The place was empty save for a couple kids playing checkers and a few croo members cooking.  Outside the weather vane was howling and a glance at the weather forecast predicted 65-90 mph gusts late in the day.  It was 6.6 miles from the hut to the summit of Mt Lafayette.  I was going to have to reach that and then descend a mile to get to the Greenleaf Hut.  It felt very far away and much of my clothes were already quite wet.  I found their AMC Guide and began to read trail descriptions, feeling nervous about the journey ahead and worrying about wet clothes, food and conditions near the summit.  There would be about two miles of exposed trail that I would have to traverse on Lafayette.  Finally after 40 minutes of hemming and hawing I decided I had to press on.   Rob was going to meet me in the morning and I frankly had planned to eat the dinner/breakfast at Greenleaf so my foodstores were slim.  I would venture forth and if necessary, I could stop at the Garfield Ridge Shelter or take one of the trails out of the mountains.

The rain had pretty much stopped when I left the hut but the trails were still very wet.  The Garfield Ridge Trail is long with many short steep ascents and descents which made for slow going.  Not for the first time I thought about how amazing it is that some cats can do this entire loop in just over six hours.  Despite the dampness I was very comfortable.  Anytime I stopped I could feel the chill wanting to come on so I kept moving as best I could.  The climb up towards Garfield featured a very steep section with lots of scrambling.  I took a brief detour to the Garfield Ridge Shelter to check it out and sign their log book but I knew I'd be continuing on.  I was tired but otherwise in good spirits.  Another brutal climb was in store before I reached the summit of Garfield.  Very high winds were present, as well as a group of five guys, smoking cigarettes and preparing to head to Galehead for the night.

Garfield Ridge Shelter (built in 2011)

This was as dry as the trails got

Tired but nearing the alpine zone of Lafayette

The Alpine sign I'd been waiting for.  Getting close!

At the summit of Lafayette, exhausted but happy

My destination, the Greenleaf Hut, shrouded in fog

From here it was a true slog of three miles on up and downs along very wet trails.  Other than those Garfield smokers, I would see no one all day.    A light rain began to fall.  My pack began to feel really heavy.  I would trudge along and take breaks when it felt necessary.  Then the endless climbs to Lafayette began in earnest.  I was very happy to see the sign for the alpine zone as it meant I was finally close (or closer, I suppose).  Once I got above treeline, I was energized because it's so cool up there, even in the heavy fog.  But the fog disguised several false summits which grew dispiriting after awhile.  And as I went higher, the wind became more powerful.  Still I was close now and motivated.  I reached the summit around 4:20 and shouted for joy!  But I still had another mile of slippery descent to the hut.  Would I get there by 5 PM?  Was dinner at 5 PM?  The thought of missing dinner was horrifying.

When the heard the manic weathervane of Greenleaf I was beyond happy.  I emerged into a packed hut filled with comfortable people chitchatting and playing games.  I looked wet and haggard (several people confirmed this later).  After checking in (dinner was at 6 PM, yay!) I went to claim my bunk and get into dry clothes.  Unfortunately a great deal of my garb was wet.  The bunkroom was in the 40s and was only going to get colder.  There would be no drying tonight. Pretty much everyone at the hut was in the same boat with regards to wet clothes.  Thankfully I still had enough dry stuff to wear and my synthetic jacket survived the journey unmolested.  I enjoyed a hearty dinner and played cards for a couple hours with some funny folks before retiring for a mediocre night's sleep.  

We awoke to a frozen landscape.  Snow and frost covered the outside world and the summit was hidden behind grey clouds.   The weather report indicated that there were heavy winds at the summit with potentially a -5 degree windchill.  They weren't sure when the cloud cover would break.  We all enjoyed a filling breakfast but no one was in any hurry to leave the hut.  The volunteer trail steward who was supposed to head up to the ridge for the day opted to stay at the hut and recommend to hikers to avoid heading to the summit.  Much of my gear was still wet and my expectations were low.  At this point I had pretty much given up on completing the loop but was hoping to still do much of the ridgeline.  Now I wasn't sure of even that.

My friend Rob, aka the Manchild

I picked up this REI jacket on clearance a couple weeks back.
It was a lifesaver on this trip and kept me very warm.

The top 2000 feet were frost and ice

Powerful winds buffeted us as we neared the top

The summit sign is a little harder to make out a day later

We made it!

Then my friend Rob suddenly appeared.  He strove in through the kitchen, wearing a raincoat and shorts.  I think he shocked people.  Well he's a shocking man.  With his arrival I knew we would at least try for the summit of Lafayette.  Buoyed by his energy, I packed up my gear, bought a dry hat from the hut store and we set out.  It wasn't too bad under the cover of trees but once we made it about 1/3 of a mile we felt the full effects of the wind.  The rocks with snow provided some traction but there were many covered in ice that were very treacherous.  It was a slow climb and the wind was very powerful.  Finally after about an hour we reached the summit.  There were a couple folks already up there.  Once we got up there I made the decision that we should head back down rather than tackling the ridge.  I was wearing my old Cascadias and while they were performed dutifully up to this point (even in yesterday's rainfest) I could feel my feet begin to get cold and I was very nervous about almost two miles of exposed ridge in these conditions.  Rob hesitantly agreed and we descended.  

There was a steady train of folks that we passed, most of whom had stayed at the hut last night.  After about fifteen minutes of descending, the clouds finally cleared and we were afforded incredible views of the ridge and valley.  Curses!  We should have done the ridge after all.  Rob was really bummed and so was I but I know it was the right call at the time.  We returned to the hut which was now mobbed with people.  Day hikers had packed the place in our absence.  Still wanting to hike, we decided to take the Greenleaf Trail down and perhaps hike up Cannon Mountain instead.

The views finally came 15 minutes too late

Our great regret: not attempting the ridgline to Mt Lincoln

Cool rocks on the Greenleaf Trail

2.5 miles of flatness to go

The Greenleaf trail was pretty steep near the top and over the course of it we passed maybe 25 people, a decent amount but nothing like the madness of the Bridle Path trail.  By the time were were halfway done we scrapped the Cannon idea as I was exhausted after three days with the heavy pack and Rob's knee was giving him issues.  The Greenleaf trail is actually really cool with some huge rock formations to enjoy.  We finally reached the highway but had another 2.5 miles to walk to Rob's truck.  This was a mix of bike path and the mild Pemi trail.  Franconia Notch was an absolute madhouse with leafpeepers.  Every parking lot was overflowing, people were parked all over the sides of the highway and there were several miles of traffic to get into the Notch.  Crazy.  The town of Lincoln turned out to be even worse but we braved it to get burgers and beer (also it was the only way to get to my car at Lincoln Woods).

After Rob dropped me off I ended up doing another couple miles of easy hiking along the Pemi River in the hopes that the traffic towards Lincoln would ease up.  It didn't and as the sun set I joined the masses for the slow ride to my motel.  But I didn't care.  At this point I was exhausted and completely pleased with my journey.  I didn't complete the loop as I had planned but between the weather and the state of my legs I have no complaints.  Overall I was happy with the gear I brought and learned a few lessons for next time.  Four more peaks are now checked off my 4000 footer list which brings my total to thirty (eighteen to go).  Looking forward to my next adventure!

Until next time New Hampshire