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