Monday, April 27, 2015

Vacation Awesomesauce Weekly Log: 4.20.15 - 4.26.15

We decided to decided to head down to D.C. for April Vacation.  Looking forward to seeing the sights and running in a new locale for the week.

Monday - Greenbelt, MD - 6 miles

We're staying about a half-hour to the north of D.C.  Our original hotel had plumbing issues so they moved us to this place in Greenbelt.  It turned out to be a boon for my running as there is a park across the street with nine miles of trails.  The weather had held out for the drive down but it poured in the evening.  When I set out at 6 AM the rain had stopped but I hadn't thought about the darkness or the conditions of the trails.  It was pretty dark in the woods when I started and there was lots of standing water and streams on the trails.  My feet got wet almost immediately but at least it was 60 degrees.

The Greenbelt Park is pretty big and flanked on both sides by highways.  I ran the Perimeter Trail so the drone of early commuters was constant for much of the run but I enjoyed being out there.  The trail was fairly free of obstacles.  Several streams to cross and the soft dirt of the south makes all the waterways a sickly brown color.  By four miles it was light however I took my eye off the trail to look ahead to a sign so of course I took a bad digger.  It ripped off a scab on my left knee and made a fresh one on the right.  I enjoyed the rest of the run despite the pain but I was a muddy, bloody mess when I arrived back at the hotel.

We took the Metro into the city and spent the day exploring the museums and various memorials.  Beautiful hot day in the heart of D.C.

Rough way to start the vacation

Tuesday - Greenbelt, MD - 1.2 miles

With sore knees I decided to take it easy this morning and not squeeze in a run.  Plus our sleeping arrangements have been in disarray and I woke up with a really sore back.

We had a fun time at the National Zoo today and after got back to the hotel I took Ezri to the nearby Greenbelt Lake.  There's a walking path around the lake and Ezri had been asking to run with me.  We went about 1/3 of the way around and took some breaks as we went.  Then we turned around and went to the playground.  There were plenty of people on the path - walkers, runners, dogs and cyclists.  Clearly a popular spot for folks.  This was a fun time and I hope Ezri continues to want to run with me.  She really wants to do a fun run this summer.

Wednesday - Greenbelt, MD - 6.6 miles

There are a wealth of Strava segments in this area and two circle the lake that Ezri and I visited yesterday.  Both were 1.2 miles and hovered above or below a 6 minute pace.  Could I take them?  I made my way over to the path in the morning and gave them a shot.  Initially I kept the pace around 5:45 and was feeling pretty good.  However by the time I was halfway around I was feeling it and my pace began to creep upwards.  I knew I wasn't going to have enough for both segments but I tried to push it on the first one and then I ran at a hard but manageable effort for the rest of the second one.  I wasn't even close to the second one but I was only three seconds off from the first one.  So close!  Don't think I'll be returning for another attempt though.

We spent the day in the National Arboretum - an amazing place if you dig plants.  There's a wide variety of trees and plants and trails are set up for each of the areas.  We finished with the bonsai exhibit which was incredible.  They had some trees which were hundreds of years old.

Thursday - Greenbelt, MD - 7.4 miles

I returned to the park across the street to check out some of the other trails.  Last time I had run the Perimeter Trail but there were also several loops that could be accessed from the Perimeter.   I went in the reverse direction on Perimeter until I hit the Blueberry trail. There was some elevation on this one and while early I could tell that campers would be getting a big haul of blueberries later in the summer.  There's also a bunch of black squirrels down here - they just look weird and creepy.

Then I ventured to the Dogwood trail to attempt a Strava segment.  There was long version of the loop and a short one - and I had no idea which one held the segment.  I did the long one first and pushed it.  Afterwards I was tired and rested for a minute.  Then I went back and did it again on the short loop.  Then, good and exhausted, I followed another trail back towards the hotel.  In the end it was the long loop that held the segment and I took it easily by a couple minutes.

We spent our last day back down in the heart of D.C.  We did one of those bus tours which worked out well as we could jump off and explore the memorials.  Then another bus would be along a few minutes later.  We also took a bus up to Georgetown to check out the ritzy shops.   Overall a fun trip and we all enjoyed the museums and national memorials of D.C.

Friday - 0 miles

I slept in and then we packed up and made our way back to Rhode Island.  Lots of shitty traffic to contend with in Connecticut  but we finally made it home.  Big thanks to Muddy for watching my dog and my mom for taking our cat.

Saturday - 0 miles

We spend the day puttering about in the yard.  No real desire to squeeze in a run.

Sunday - Charlestown, RI - 21.5 miles

With much of the day to myself, and almost 20 miles needed to hit an arbitrary goal of 40 for the week, I concocted a run that would force me to run much longer/farther than I've done in quite some time.  My long runs had been stagnating at the 13-14 mile distance and I decided to see how my body would react to a 20 miler.  The route took me along Route 2 to the Kingston Train Station.  Then I followed the bike path for awhile before taking roads back to Ministerial and then along Worden's Pond back to my house.

I kept the pace in the low 8s and took gels every 45 minutes.  It was a pretty relaxing run and I stopped at a friend's house around mile 13 to refill my water bottle.  Not long afterwards I began to feel it in my quads and they got tighter as the run went on.  In fact my legs began to tighten up overall but thankfully there was no spasms or anything.  By the time I returned to Old Coach Road I was ready to be done.  I ended up with 21.5 miles and almost three hours of running which I'm psyched about.  We'll see how I feel tomorrow but this was a positive effort!  Janky knee grumbled a bit around mile 6 but then shut its cakehole for the rest of the run.

Weekly Mileage: 42.7 miles

Year to Date: 519.1 miles

We had a fun family vacation in Washington D.C.  We saw a lot but there's so much more we didn't hit up.  Next time.  This was also four weeks of 40+ miles in a row.  I'm very happy with that.  I may not have the speed but I feel like I'm finally getting the distance endurance back.  Time to start looking for longer races!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Weekly Log: 4.13.15 - 4.19.15

Monday - Providence, RI - 7 miles

Legs were pretty sore after 12 miles in Burlingame yesterday.  I went out at a slow pace and toured around the East Side, hitting up India Point Park, Brown University and Blackstone Park.  Beautiful day out there and I took it easy, just enjoying the weather along the bustling streets.

Tuesday - 0 miles

It's mah birthday!  And in honor of it I ran no miles but did eat several helpings of cake - both ice cream and white.  Dinner at the Rathskellar too.

Wednesday - East Providence, RI - 7 miles

120 push-ups (standard) 20/20/20/20/20/20

Another easy day as my legs still don't have much life.  I went over to the Turner Reservoir and did a loop on the trails.  Tried to best my segment on a quick peninsula loop but I came up short.  A gorgeous day in the mid 60s!  I was actually sweating and guess I have to get used to cleaning up at the office after my lunch runs again.

Thursday - Seekonk, MA/North Kingstown, RI - 17 miles

With no chance of a long run this weekend, I opted to put in some good miles today.  First at lunch I went over to the Seekonk Meadows for 3.5 easy trail miles.  In the woods I encountered a woman with eight dogs.  Amazingly she had really good control over them and they sort of just swarmed around her.  Queen of the Hounds.

After work I went over to the band house and did a long run.  From Plum Point I went down through Rome Point and then hit the road up to the NK Town Beach neighborhood.  Yesterday my knee was achy after the run but today it felt good.  In fact I felt good all around and really enjoyed the run.  I went up through Wilson Park, past the library and then took the rail bed trail up and around to Annaquatucket.  It's always enjoyable running my childhood streets - brings back strong memories.  I began to tire on the side roads along Annaquatucket but these last few miles were some of the most nostalgic so they passed quickly.  Glad to see that someone has finally taken permanent residence in my old family home on Featherbed.  Seventeen miles on the day - not too shabby.

Friday - Exeter, RI - 2.4 miles

150 push-ups (standard) 25/25/25/25/25/25

No running today as I've errands to do (and I figure the legs could use the rest).  I didn't have the pep to do push-ups in the morn so I brought the push-up bars into work and did 'em in my office.  Multi-tasking!

Okay so scratch that - the boss let me out early since I'm on vacation next week but then I had to pick up Ezri from afterschool.  I parked and briefly checked out the trails along Yawgoo pond.  Disturbed a young couple smoking their tweeds.  Seems like a cool trail network - wished I could have explored further.

Saturday - Charlestown, RI - 6.6 miles

In the afternoon I set out for an hour run.  I decided to explore Richard Trails off of Route 2.  The official network is pretty small but there's a side trail that goes into Narragansett territory.  I followed the trail (along with some dirt bike tracks) for as long as I could.  At points the trail was difficult to follow.  Eventually I returned to Charlestown land but there came a point were I couldn't see the trail at all so I turned around. Another fun little trail run.

Sunday - 0 miles

On the road all day as we headed south for an April vacation.  We arrive in Greenbelt, Maryland just north of D.C.  We'll be exploring our Nation's capitol for the next few days.  Looking forward to it and there's a trail network across the road from the hotel.

Weekly Mileage: 40.1 miles

Year to Date: 476.4 miles

I'm glad I got out there on Saturday to make this my third 40 mile week in a row.  There have  been times when the janky knee hasn't felt great in the wake of some of these runs however over all it seems to have held up well.  Pleased with my progress.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Weekly Log: 4.6.15 - 4.12.15

With the Big River race in the rearview mirror, I don't have any races on the horizon.  At this point I feel like my janky knee is in pretty good shape with minimal jankyness.  I want to hit the trails as much as possible and work more speed/hills into my weekly runs.  Looking forward, I'm sure there's a challenge race out there for me but I'm not sure what it is yet.  It may be that I don't pick a major races until the fall.  Onwards and upwards!

Monday - Charlestown, RI - 6 miles

Ezri has a stomach bug so I was staying home with her.  While Amanda was still home I took the opportunity to head over to Carter Preserve at sunrise.  It's great to finally be back on clear trails.  There was only one spot with snow and it was just before the grasslands loop.  The snow there was surprisingly deep.  I ran most of the trails in the preserve and my legs were still feeling pretty tired from Big River.

Tuesday - East Providence, RI - 6.2 miles

I went over to the Ten Mile River bikepath.  It was drizzling a bit and cold.  On the way out I hit as many trails as I could before doing a loop at Slater Park.  I stuck to the path on the way back.  My legs still don't have much pep but they loosened up by the end.

Wednesday - Seekonk, MA - 4 miles

Now that spring is well and truly here I'm hitting all the trail spots near work.  Today I went over to the Caratunk Preserve.  I expected it to be pretty wet and it was.  The muskrat pond has overflowed and the trail that circles it is underwater.  There were water hazards throughout the preserve but I made my way around or through all of them.  Short run but my legs still felt taxed.  I'm guessing it's a mix of Big River hangover and just being generally out of shape when it comes to trails.

Thursday - Johnston, RI - 8 miles

I was able to get out of the house at 6 AM and I wanted to visit on of my old haunts from when I worked at Smithfield.  I've been seeing some Strava runs at the Snake Den state park so that prompted me to return there.  I knew it would be wet and I was not disappointed - there were some pretty dank areas and the connector trail was quite boggy in places.  My Garmin didn't have any juice so I brought my flip phone just so that I could keep track of time.  It was great running these trails again and the climbs up along the powerlines did not disappoint - great views up there.  It looks like folks had taken a chainsaw to one hangout spot and cleared a few pine trees to make the view truly stellar.  I ran for about 75 minutes so I'm calling it 8 miles.  Good to be back in these woods.

Friday - Charlestown, RI - 4.2 miles

Took the dog out for an early jog.  Luckily the rain held off until later in the morning.  We ran into a shitty German Shephard that my wife is always complaining about.  He was in the middle of the road barking at us.  I didn't want to deal with it so we went over to Mohawk/Kickapoo roads instead.

Saturday - 0 miles

I was out late from playing a gig at the Malted Barley.  It went well but four hours of sleep left me in a zombie state for much of the day.  Still got some stuff done though and an afternoon nap helped.  By evening it was time to do it again but this time at the Newport Sportsman Club.  Luckily a reserve of energy kicked in and we had a good show.

Sunday - Charlestown, RI - 12.5 miles
After getting home at 3 AM it was another lifeless day.  I dragged myself through it and manageable to get some chores done but as the afternoon crept along I didn't see a run happening.  Another nap helped and I finally made it out in the late afternoon and went over to Watchaug.  I was looking for around 12-13 miles so I did a counterclockwise loop which included Sammy C's, North Camp, Vin Gormley and a bit of the Brrr-lingame ridge trail.  Fun run and I felt good through.  As I approached North Camp I heard a couple dogs that sounded really angry.  I decided to avoid the hellhounds but as I still ran into unleashed dogs as I was heading away from North Camp.  The young women walking behind them couldn't even be bothered with the obligatory "Don't worry they're friendly."   People have no goddamn sense when they bring their dogs into the woods.  

Otherwise it was a fine run.  Plenty of mountain bikers out there and I even saw a couple guys climbing the steep rocks near Buckeye Brook Road.  I tweaked that nerve on the arch of my foot with about four miles to go and it was a pain to run with the rest of the way.  But eventually it settled down.  I was pretty tired by the end but I ended up with a few minutes to kill before picking Em up from work so I checked out a tiny trail network behind the Cross Mills library.  Not much to say about it other than it has some marsh, runs near Route 1 and does a fine job of identifying local trees.

Weekly Mileage: 41 miles
Year to Date: 436.3

Good week of running and fun weekend.  I'd like to keep my mileage in the 40s for the next few weeks.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Big River Half Marathon 2015 - Sabotage!

I was really looking forward to this.  The last and longest race in the South County 4th Season series, the Big River Half Marathon is as epic a trail race as you're going to find in Rhode Island.  Last year I did really well and while I was still working my way back into shape I was optimistic that I'd be able to put together another strong performance.  Unfortunately the bastards got the best of us and the entire race unraveled before my eyes.

I got to the parking lot with plenty of time to spare and did a short warm-up on the beginning of the course.  Five days earlier I had been out here and the amount of snow was discouraging.  What a difference five days makes!  Other than a heavy patch of snow on the first turn, the trails were in great shape.  Some mud/water as to be expected but really good overall.  I was psyched.  There was also a lot of talent that showed up to compete.  Greg Hammett came down from NH and the usual WTAC/TNT characters were in attendance (though Chris Garvin was noticeably absent). The Rhode Runners, who I thought might be wary of such a long trail race, were out in force and even ultra-badass Ben Nephew was there.

Back at the start we all gathered around Race Director Mike Galoob as he explained that the course would be very different from year's past.  He changed it up to avoid some sections that might not hold up under the heavy foot traffic and also added some very challenging boulder sections.  He emphasized how many flags he and his helpers had laid out and I was ready to get to work.  We all lined up and were quickly off down the brief straightaway on the New London Turnpike.  I tried to keep my pace in check and stuck behind Jeff Walker as we hit the singletrack.

Vying for position before the singeltrack - Photo by Scott Mason

Pretty soon the pace was feeling like work but I didn't want to fall back for fear of getting left behind.  Still after about a mile I let some space open up between myself and Jeff & Chris Fox.   I heeded Jonny's words from earlier that it's a long course and I had to run my own race.  As we approached Carr Pond I didn't see any orange flags but the lead runners seemed to know the way so I followed them as Jeff was doing ahead of me.  At the ridge line along the eastern side of the pond there were branches and limbs in the way which seemed odd but whatever.

As we approached the pond I could see a familiar bearded trail runner named Eric.  He had been behind me on the singletrack but had gone off course and ended up ahead of the lead pack.  He waited and resumed his place behind me.  I wasn't surprised at this as there hadn't been many orange flags.  Soon we were back on singletrack and I began to catch up to Jeff and Chris Fox.  I did my trademark powerhiking on the hills which served me well and helped me pass Fox near the Pinto trail.  We passed another fella who had skipped a section of the course and at the mile 4 aid station I downed a couple waters.

The next section was fun with some big climbs and several water hazards.  We passed Scott Mason snapping pics and as we hit the ridgeline trail I sensed that Jeff and I were pulling away from Eric and Chris Fox.  I passed Jeff up on the ridge but he bombed past me on a very steep downhill.  It was still early but the pace seemed manageable and I was looking forward to working with Jeff and seeing how the rest of the race was going to unfold.  We followed the orange flags down to the carriage road that circles the pond and continued on the road.

Powerhiking up a steep hill - Photo by Scott Mason

After a few moments we came to a big fork in the road and I knew something was wrong.  There were no orange flags, no arrows, no indication of which way to go.  We continued on briefly but it was a section we had already run near the beginning.  We turned around and backtracked, picking up Eric and Fox in the process.  We went back to the last orange flag we had seen.  Now our party had grown as Gunshow and a few others had caught up to us. We didn't know where to go.  We returned to the carriage road and saw a singletrack to the left but there were no flags to be seen.  Back at the fork we took a left and basically retraced our steps to the start of the race.  It wasn't the right way to go but at this point I was frustrated and knew the race was over.

Once we got back to the New London Turnpike I wanted to keep running to at least get some decent mileage for the day.  Eric and another guy name Lance were happy to run for another hour and we continued on.  We eventually found the course near the beaver dam and ended up doing the last few miles of it.  It was as difficult and awesome as advertised and even though I was taking it easy it wore me out.  We followed the course back to the finish where I ate, drank and talked about the flag thievery with everyone.

So basically some asshole(s) stole the flags that Mike and company had worked so hard to lay out.  The lead pack of seven guys managed to stay on track thanks to Jonny Hammett who had helped mark the course.  I think Galoob had gone out to do some damage control and direct some people in the right direction.  But for most of us the race was derailed after six miles.  A real shame because this was probably the most challenging trail race in Rhode Island.  Once again thanks to Galoob and family for another great winter trail series.  It was a tough winter for running but he put together another season of badass trail races.

I hope Mike decides to hold this race again next year.  And come next year we will do what it takes to ensure the course remains marked.  We'll get camouflage.  We'll get deer blinds.  We'll get drones and robot monkeys.  This aggression will not stand!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Weekly Log: 3.30.15 - 4.5.15

March is over!  And Big River Half is here!  I'm looking forward to this race though I know it's going to be a tough challenge for me.

Monday - West Greenwich, RI - 8 miles

130 push-ups (standard/wide/decline) 20/25/15/25/25/20

With the snow retreating I wanted to get a sample of the course before Saturday.  After work I parked at the start of the Big River Half and ran the first half of the course.  Immediately I was greeted with a lot of snow.  The course was definitely not clear.  As I entered the singletrack there were several foot/pawprints to follow and the going wasn't too slow.  A few cleared areas had muddy bogs to contend with.  It was actually trickier to follow the trail where the snow ended as the trail became difficult to see.  Then the footprints ended and I wasn't sure where to go.  I bushwacked a bit and found the trail, now with handy bike tracks to follow.

Plenty of snow at the seesaw near the start

Eventually the snow clears up and leads to some muddy sections

The trail was clear up along Carr Pond but one I got to the southern portion it was back to snow.  I encountered another runner and his dog.  He seemed taken aback to see me.  The run up to the Hopkins Hill Rd parking lot was exhausting.  The ridgeline trail was clear but around mile 5 I realized I had lost the race course.  At this point it was starting to get late so I headed back towards Carr Pond and intended to retrace my steps.  I had to bushwack yet again and found myself on a different trail but luckily I knew that it took me back to the New London Turnpike.  Based on today's run, the race is really going to be a challenge and I don't suspect we'll be seeing any PRs.  We'll see what five days of warmish weather does.

The ridges on both sides of Carr Pond are in good shape

But the climb up "Pinto" to the Hopkins Hill lot is tough

Brought the headlamp "just in case"

Tuesday - East Providence, RI - 5.5 miles

I put my run off until mid-afternoon.  I ate my chili lunch two hours earlier and hoped that would be enough clearance.  At first I felt I made a great mistake but after 1.5 miles things seemed to settle down.  I stuck to roads in a dumpy part of town.  Not a particularly great run but it got the job done.

Wednesday - East Providence, RI - 7 miles

Decided to see if the Ten Mile River Bikepath was back in operation.  I was expecting to still encounter snow but it was almost totally clear.  Huzzah!  I stayed mostly on the path but I jumped off for a short trail section along the reservoir, sneaking around someone's tent.  The I continued on past Slater Park until I reached the end of the bike path.  Turned around and my pace began to creep upward until I was pushing sub-6 for a short time.  Didn't really intend to push the pace but my legs wanted to go faster.  Overall I felt really good on this run and was glad that this bikepath is back in operation!

Thursday - Charlestown, RI - 4 miles

Took the dog out in the dark for a couple miles.  He was a bit of a pill and wanted to keep stopping to sniff and pee.  It was a chilly 30 degrees out there.  This is April?

Friday - 0 miles

115 push-ups (standard) 25/25/25/20/20

Saturday - Big River Half Marathon - 15 miles

Didn't finish the race due to douchenozzles removing flags from the course.  Added more miles to at least make it a decent day.  Separate write-up to follow.

Sunday - Charlestown, RI - 3.5 miles

Hips and quads were very sore from yesterday's effort.  Amanda was happy to let me take the dog out so Oliver and I did an easy few miles.  The Narragansett Trail loop is finally useable and luckily it was dry so I didn't bring a filthy dog home.

Weekly Mileage: 43.2 miles

Year to Date: 395.3

This was my highest mileage week since September 28th! That was the week before NipMuck when I tweaked my knee at the height of my mileage.  It's been a slow road but I feel like I'm getting back to form.  Sucks that this week's race was thwarted by hooligans but it was still a fun time in the woods.  And on that note: trail running is back in full force in Rhode Island!