Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 Year in Review

Another year done.  Not the best year running wise, mostly because I spent a goodly amount of the time injured.  Towards the end of 2015 I probably did too much, starting with the RI 6 Hour and continuing as I pushed my body in order to reach 2000 miles for the year.  Well I reached 2000 but then the next week I felt an unpleasant sensation in the lower leg after the Resolution 5k.  So began my bout with a stress fracture.  Like a stubborn fool I continued to run on it until a lackluster performance at the Belleville Pond 10k.  After that I was properly diagnosed with the fracture.  I spent six weeks not running and then I slowly begun to incorporate running into my walks.

I passed the time with some great hikes up in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  And by June I was running pain free again.  I felt slow and out of shape so I didn't put any goals on myself other than to enjoy running.  As a result I only raced a total of five times this year.  But all post-fracture races were successful and will appear below in my legendary Top Five.

Cross-training wise I had been diligently doing a daily plank routine but I frigged up my wrist in the process so that got derailed as well.  It also stopped my weekly yoga session which was unfortunate.  I had also tried to get back into P90X but it didn't really take.  I'm hopeful to be more consistent with all these aspects in 2017.

In terms of last year's goals, here's what I wrote and what ended up happening:

  • Set some PRs - Nope, not a one.  But I did only run five races and after the fracture I consider the rest of 2016 a rebuilding year.
  • Run a sub 4 hour 50k - Nope.  The fracture derailed any chance at racing a 50k, let alone running one in under four hours.  However I did eek out a 50k long run this month which was a big step in the right direction
  • A return to cross-training - Let's call it a draw.  I definitely did a lot of different stuff in the few months when I wasn't running.  But then I hurt myself doing planks just in time for the running to start up again.  Every since the mid-year point it's been hit or miss.
  • More mountain adventures - A definite success.  I got up to the White Mountains a lot this year.  While I only checked off three new 4000 footers from my list, I summitted 14 of them in total, most with either friends or family.

And so that brings us to my top five races/adventures of 2016:

I was way off my PR from the previous year but so was everyone else on this humid, oppressively hot day.  After healing for much of the year it was great to race with friends again on this challenging course.

4. Father/Kid Hiking Trip in the Southern Presidentials
In October I took Ezri on a two day backpacking trip up to Mizpah Hut in the Southern Presidentials along with my friend Rob and his boy Robbie.  It was a challenging two days but the kids did great.  Ezri bagged three 4000 footers including Mt. Eisenhower.  She climbed five total in 2016.  I'm very proud of all she's done this year.

A race I've often struggled with, I finished only 21 seconds off my PR this year.  Very pleased with my effort and fitness level afterwards.

2. Group Backpacking Trip along the Bonds
In May I joined Rob and three of his friends for trip over the Bonds to the Guyot campsite.  A fun adventure filled with incredible views and camaraderie.  I had done much of our route solo the previous year but doing it with a group was a completely different experience.  I actually had made a pretty lengthy blog post about our journey but chumped it and never finished.  Perhaps I will get it done in 2017!

I had known about this race for a few years but scheduling conflicts always got in the way.  Now healthy and with a clear schedule, I did as much hill work as I could in preparation.  The course and difficulty did not disappoint.  Neither did the conditions which were cool, dry, perfect.  I finished in 2 hours and 40 minutes, good for 7th overall against some of the best mountain runners around.  A great performance I'm really proud of.

So not a ton of racing but I made the most of my chances.  And my mountain adventures made up for the lack of races.  Amanda and I got our first taste of winter hiking and it was a magical experience.  And throughout the summer Amanda, Ezri and I had several fun camping trips that also featured great hikes.  And lest this blog become all about hiking I did end the year with nearly 1400 miles (1395 actually) so my weekly mileage is back to where I'd like it to be.  I'm feeling healthy and all systems seem go so I'm looking forward to 2017.  In fact, as far as goals go for 2017 I think I'll just recycle the ones from last year as they still seem applicable:

  • Set some PRs
  • Run a sub 4 hour 50k
  • A return to cross-training
  • More mountain adventures
Okay maybe I'll add a couple more crazy ones...
  • Single Day Pemi Loop?
  • 50 miler?

Thanks to everyone who continues to read this blog.  My posts dried up with the stress fracture and the flow of words never really returned.  Maybe consider that one final goal for 2017 - more blog posting!  Happy New Years all!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Impromptu 50k - Arcadia Edition

I had last week sorta off from work (I was at home and sent a bunch of emails but I didn't have to go up to the office).  It occurred to me that this would be a great opportunity to put in a truly long run.  And that I mean a distance of at least 50k.  It's something I've thought about for a while but injuries got in the way and it would have taken up an entire day on the weekend which would have been tough from a family perspective.  I hadn't run an ultra since November 2015 and it felt like this would be good training for long adventures in 2017.

So I planned it out.  Wednesday would have been the better day temp wise (in the 40s) but other obligations got in the way so I went with Thursday. The temp would be in the 20s with a potentially frigid wind gusts as well.  An out and back seemed a waste of the effort - surely 31 miles demanded a loop of some sort.  I mapped out a bunch of variations, some using the beaches and Wakefield and others venturing more towards the Arcadia/Hope Valley area.  Ultimately I decided that running from my house would have involved a lot of dull miles I was already sick of running.  To that end I made my decision to park near the Richmond dump and head into Arcadia via the North/South trail.  I would follow the N/S all the way through Arcadia and then take roads back to the car in a long meandering loop.

I went with cold compression gear and my running vest.  I also carried my 24 oz handheld and refilled it from the two bottles on my vest.  This worked well.  Food wise I didn't have gels so I just grabbed some granola bars and snickers.  I threw an extra pair of gloves in the pack as well as some socks, into which I stuff my phone.  I hoped it would keep the phone warm enough to avoid shutting down (nope).

As I got out of my car heavy snow flurries began which were quite magical.  It quickly covered the trail and was a nice intro to the run.  By the time I crossed under Route 95 and entered Arcadia proper the flurries had ended and the trail was nearly snow free.  The 13 miles of the North/South trail went quickly and the woods helped keep the wind at bay.  I wasn't cold and I enjoyed connecting the North and South sections of Arcadia in one long stretch.  Indeed an impressive course could have been made just amongst the Arcadia trails but I had decided that trying to run all 31 miles on trails would have been too exhausting and time consuming.

Finally I reached Hazard Road and the end of my trails.  I had intended to take the Shetucket Turnpike, which looked like an unmaintained stretch of dirt road/trail that eventually gave way to old pavement.  But I went left instead right and ended up heading down Escoheag Hill Road.  I knew I missed it but at that point I just went with it and made my way towards Beach Pond.  I wanted to use the map on my phone but as soon as I pulled it out of my pack it died.  I wasn't familiar with this area but I could see the pond in the distance and a combination of roads and trails got me to Route 165 soon enough.

I took this picture after finishing the trail section.  Just
as well as the phone died from the cold soon after.

Now I had to look forward to a long stretch of busy road. In retrospect if I did more planning and had more familiarity with the area I would have chosen a different route.  The next seven miles were comprised of two main roads, Routes 165 and 138.  At the time it was an easy way to add miles and avoid getting lost.  However the roads were very exposed to the wind which began to increase in gusts.  This was especially true as I passed Beach Pond.  I was running against the wind on Route 165 and my hands were beginning to chill. I knew of some side roads that would have gotten me to 138 sooner but I didn't want to "cut the course" as I already wasn't even sure if my route was going to hit 31 mile, an admittedly arbitrary goal.

After seemingly forever I reached Route 138 and soon made a detour into the woods to reassess.  I ate the last of my snickers as they were beginning to harden up and were tough to chew as it was.  The nipple on my water bottle was frozen so from this point I had to unscrew it to get a drink.  I donned my second pair of gloves and got back on the road as standing still wasn't doing me any favors.  One good thing was that with my compression top I hadn't had any of the chaffing issues on my neck/chest that I've previously experienced with the vest.  And being able to carry so much in my little pack turned out to be crucial.

I was 20 miles in and beginning to tire.  Luckily much of Route 138 was downhill.  I pushed the pace as best I could in order to generate some body heat.  This seemed to work and I was able to keep the chill at bay.  Finally after four miles of slogging down 138 I turned off onto the dirt Grassy Pond Road.  Here I encountered a hill that made me walk briefly for the first time.  After that I came upon a long flat stretch of dirt road along farmland which was welcome.  The dirt road gave way to pavement and I continued to shuffle my way down the country roads, not entirely sure where I was but with a general sense that it would lead me back to Hope Valley.

And so it did.  I shambled into "downtown" Hope Valley with 29 miles under my belt.  Had I arrived with less I would not have cared a whit about hitting 31 for the day.  The last two were unpleasant and the urge to walk was too great to resist, especially on the very last mile which found me utterly spent.  But of course I had to run past my car to ensure that my watch ticked off 31 miles for the day.

Overall a great success.  I managed a decent pace for much of the run which is very encouraging.  The first half of the run through Arcadia was obviously much more enjoyable.  I grow less and less fond of running on roads especially when I have to deal with wind and cold.  If/when I do something like this again, it'll be comprised of much more trail.  The following day my knees hurt dreadfully going down stairs but the day after that the pain was completely gone.  Very pleased with my recovery from this jaunt and looking forward to 2017!

A good day.  Don't let the time fool you - it was about 5 hours and change
with breaks.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Li'l Rhody Runaround 2016

Official time: 53:12    10th overall.  2nd in Age Group.  Results here.

Ah, the Li'l Rhody Runaround .  I have a love/hate relationship with this race.  On one hand it's a fun local trail race put on by WTAC, five minutes from my house and every year more and more faces are familiar to me.  On the other hand it hasn't been a great race for me over the years.  The first miles are fast and usually leave me spent for the second half of the race.  The last stretch on road hasn't been my cup of tea either.

Nonetheless I arrived in good spirits for this race.  It was cold as hell with the wind coming off Watchaug Pond but I knew it wouldn't be as bad in the woods.  The warm-up along the dirt road showed a lot of puddles and I hope it wouldn't be too wet in the woods.  I didn't think I could match my 2013 PR of 52:51 but I hoped I would be within a minute of it.

I lined up with the usual suspects and made a real effort not to go out too fast.  I backed off and stayed a few paces behind Jeff Walker.  I was surprised there wasn't a glut of people passing me as they have in years past.  Perhaps the water hazards on the first mile were creating logjams and preventing people from opening up.  The lead female went by me just before the singletrack and I fell in behind her.  By the time we reached the playground the lead group was already a ways ahead of us.

Shoving water in my face - Photo by Paul Gray

As we entered the woods the pace felt just right.  At a curve in the trail I could see several people not far behind us.  I stayed behind the lead female until the wood bridges ended and we made the sharp right at Klondike Road.  The trail became a bit more technical and I noticed a slowdown from her so I motored past and put some distance on everyone.  Jeff Walker was long gone at this point and after a few minutes I could hear footsteps behind me.  At around 3.5 miles Leslie O'Dell went past followed by another fellow in red.  Red Shirt then passed O'Dell and I pushed to keep up with them.

I stayed with them for the next several miles.  One or both would put distance on me but I would close the gap on certain sections.  Their pace was manageable and I began looking at my watch to try to figure how close I'd be to my PR.  I thought I was about a minute slower but it was hard to judge.  The last section of trail is fairly technical and I stuck behind them, though in retrospect I should have pushed harder here.  At the last trail incline I went past the two of them and increased the pace in anticipation for the final road stretch.

Rock hopping with a mile to go - Photo by Scott Mason

Finishing up - what am I looking at? - Photo by WTAC

Normally I'm toast at this point but I was feeling good and was managing a low 6 pace.  I heard footsteps behind me with a 1/4 mile to go but I didn't dare look back.  Mike B was at the final corner and said I had a telephone pole length which didn't sound like much so I pushed towards the finish with everything I had.  I finished in a solid 53:12, only 21 seconds off my course PR from 2013.

I'm very happy with this race.  I usually go out too fast and can't hang on but this time it worked out great and I was able to draft off others for most of the race.  It left me with something for the end.  Had I made my move earlier perhaps I could have bested my 2013 time but I'm not going to quibble about that.  Overall I'm feeling fit and healthy and looking forward to competing in the winter trail series that is right around the corner!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

On Racing

Yes my blog has been pretty quiet this year.  After the stress fracture back in the early months of 2016, I lost my taste for updating it.  Once I began running again, I found it hard to rekindle the interest.  I've managed to eek out a couple race reports at least but that brings me to the crux of this post - my lack of racing this year.

So far I've mustered only four races this year.  Two races of the winter trail series (which led to my stress fracture), Run with the Beavers and the Kismet Cliff Climb.  Trail races one and all.  Even though I'm healthy I haven't had much of an appetite for racing and certainly not on roads.

I pulled the trigger on the Li'l Rhody Runaround with a week to go.  I honestly wasn't really feeling it but felt like I should get back out there.  This race has always been a pain point for me and indeed I would often choose the Mews 5k over it (as much for the beer and the camaraderie of my non-running friends).  But I'm keeping my non-road streak going and hope to put in a good showing.  To that end, let's look at my previous races on this course:

2012 - 1:04:59
A complete shitshow.  I went into the race with a weak ankle and rolled it a mile in.  The rest of the race was slow decay.  One of my better write-ups though.  Perhaps suffering breeds creativity.

2013 - 52:51
Redemption race after the previous year.  I was nearing the height of my trail powers speed-wise and put up a solid time.

2014 - Sidelined with a knee injury due to the NipMuck / Bimbler double team.  I directed traffic in the parking lot instead.

2015 - 56:40
Trying to run this race the week after the Rhode Island 6 Hour Ultra was a silly thing to do.  After a couple miles my legs revolted and I mailed it in the rest of the way.  Looking back I'm surprised I finished only four minutes behind 2013.

So now I enter 2016 healthy and rested.  I'd love to PR but since I've completely neglected workouts I'm not capable of a 6:36 pace for this race.  But I guess you never know.  I ran most of the course last weekend as a refresher and once the race is underway the usual adrenaline will help carry me along.  My basic plan will be to not go out too fast as always (unlikely) and save something for the second half of the race.  We shall see!

Stay tuned for the race report which will perhaps kick this blog back into high gear.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Kismet Cliff Climb - The Beast of the East

Official time: 2:40:14   7th Overall    Results here.

I've had my eye on this race up in North Conway, NH for a few years.  What started as a cruel five mile race over Cathedral and White Horse Ledge eventually expanded and added a 13ish mile course that continued on over North Moat Mountain.  A race that involves as much hiking as running, the longer course was dubbed the Beast of the East.  After a few years of not jiving with my schedule, I was finally able to make it work for 2016.

I drove up the day before and did a bit of redlining on the Boulder Loop Trail off of the Kang.  This three mile loop offered some nice ledge views and confirmed that the conditions were primo - the ground/rocks were very dry and my Speedcross seemed to grip well on them.  I hoped I wasn't doing too much the day before the race but it was good to get out on some hilly trails for a (mostly) hike.

The day of the race was cool to start and it was surprisingly windy down by Echo Lake.  Judging by the registration table this race brought in a small field but most of the runners looked very fit.  After a few remarks from the course director we lined up and were off at 10 AM.  I tried to keep the pace fairly easy and let a bunch of people go by.  The trail around the lake has lots of roots to contend with so I focused on footwork.  The trail began to climb easily and the runners ahead were beginning to pull away.

Don't know if I'm ready but here we go

Beautiful spot to start a race, though chilly with the wind
 Photo by Mike Crutchley

Not for long though as at 1.5 miles there was a sharp turn and suddenly we were all hiking uphill.  The climbing was very steep and we went up 500 feet over 1/2 mile.  The going was tough and I fell in behind a couple other guys.  My quads were burning already - that can't be good.  A tall fellow named Lars came up behind and I let him by.  He was a much faster climber.  Finally the trail eased off and we spilled out onto the Cathedral Ledge autoroad for a few hundred feet of pavement.  Then back into the woods as the trail led us over the rocky ledges and into the parking lot where the first aid station was set up.

I was third in a train of four guys as we hit the first significant downhill section.  Technical stuff and the lead guy in grey took off and I tried to follow suit.  I was faster downhill than the other two but grey guy was well ahead by the time the trail leveled off.  Then another 500 feet of climbing began over 1/2 mile.  Lars quickly caught up with me but was content to stay behind.  A few sections offered a chance to get a run going and I was able to close the gap with grey shirt on these sections.  I took the lead but right before we reached the White Horse summit I missed a sharp turn and led us down the wrong trail for about a minute.  By the time I realized the error and we doubled back someone had gone by and now I was at the back of the train again.  I felt bad about leading them on the detour.

At the top of White Horse was the 2nd (and final) add station.  We were only about three miles in at this point.  I was following behind Lars during this fun downhill section - the other two guys had disappeared up ahead.  When we hit the Red Ridge Trail I got ahead of Lars as he almost went the wrong way (this intersection confused several people as there were flags in both directions as the course returns via the same trail.  A couple people ended up taking a right and running the North Moat loop backwards).  The next mile was moderate technical downhill which favored me.  I was able to reel in grey shirt and as the moderate downhill turned to moderate uphill, I was able to catch the first guy in our train.  At this point I was able to put distance on all of them.  After a dry brook crossing it suddenly became a hike again and looking back I saw I was alone.  For the moment.

Now it was just grueling climbs.  There were a few short 10 second spurts where I could run but otherwise I was pulling myself over rocky outcroppings.  As the trail began to turn to ledges, I could hear the other guys chatting behind me somewhere.  Finally the trail spilled out onto the Red Ridge ledges which offered incredible views and false summit after false summit.  I could see racers and hikers much higher up.  Yellow blazes on the rocks and pink ribbons (thanks to Ryan Welts for marking the night before) showed the way.  Maybe halfway up I glanced back and could see Lars and Grey Shirt perhaps a minute behind me.  I passed some hikers who looked at me like I was crazy (probably true).

An example of the incredible terrain/views of the Red Ridge Trail
Photo by Mike Crutchley

Finally I reentered the woods and came upon the intersection with the Moat Mountain trail.  I was nearly at the top and and hoping I could hit the summit in 1:40.  As I turned to the Moat trail there was a blessed section of downhill following by an easy uphill I made sure to run.   Then a couple tricky scrambles.  After these scrambles I could still hear my pursuers in the woods.  Suddenly I was at the top of North Moat, much sooner than expected at 1:37.  I glanced around trying to savor the view but I had no desire to linger.  Time to descend!

Race reports from previous years made me nervous about these rocky ledges but the conditions were bone dry and perfect.  My Speedcross gripped great and I didn't slip once, though I was moving pretty fast.  I passed a bunch of hikers heading up as I flew down - I may have looked like a madman.  The trail reentered the woods and I tried to keep the effort up on these tricky steep downhills.  I was enjoying this part - most of the miserable uphill was now over and I felt like I had a decent lead over the others.  Once Moat Mountain Trail hit the intersection with Attitash trail the trail because a very moderate and smooth downhill.  I was moving well now and able to get my pace into the low 7s for a few minutes.

A woman was at the Red Ridge intersection to direct us and there was a brook in the way.  I didn't see any immediate crossings so I just splashed right through.  Here the trail was uphill and rocky but I was still able to run it until I reached the intersection with the White Horse Ledge trail and then the last climb began.  I had no gumption for this climb and I was pretty much toast but I didn't see anyone behind me so I kept pulling myself up.

After that shitty climb the rest of the race was fairly technical downhill.  I passed a few hikers and my calves began to threaten to seize but they held it together.  I was beat now but knowing I was almost down helped.  As I approached Echo Lake I saw that I was at 2:36.  I pushed it to try to break 2:40 but I came in about 15 seconds short.  Damn that wrong turn!  Still, I'm not going to complain about this one.  2:40 on this course is damn good.  It is a grinder.

Back at Echo Lake - Photo by William Ulvik

A few steps to go - Photo by William Ulvik

A very laid back event but a generous raffle offered sweet prizes

Afterwards I hung out for a couple hours and chatted with the local mountain goats.  I saw Crutchley finish with a couple people - a fine end for him after DNFing last year to help an injured runner.  I also won a pair of Darn Tough socks in the raffle which was sweet.  Overall this race was everything it purported to be.  Climbing up North Moat (not to mention those goddamn ledges) is just as tough as you'd imagine it to be.  The course was marked appropriately in my opinion but this is definitely a race of self-reliance.  You should be prepared to know where you're going and have the proper hydration on your person.  The hydration race vest I picked up this week worked great and I'm glad I had my hands free as there was a lot of scrambling.  I chowed on S-tabs and three gels throughout the race and they did the trick.

If you're looking for a low-key, super tough mountain race - this is your event!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Weekly Log: 8.29.16 - 9.4.16

Monday - Charlestown, RI - 7 miles

Back to work and dealing with a mountain of shit in the form of emails but at least I'm working from home today.  Another heater but after walking the dog in the AM I ventured out at noon for a trail/road mix.  Started from the Browning Woods parking lot and rolled my ankle pretty bad about a 1/2 mile in.  It felt fine soon after though.  After taking the Heart trail to the sand dunes I kept to the ATV trails until I ran out of real estate and bounced over to Sand Plain Trail.  The dirt road now intersects with the development which is pretty big.  All hail progress I guess.

Tuesday - 0 miles

208 push-ups (standard/military/wide) 30/20/25/25/13/35/30/10/20

My cross training has been all over the place this last month but after many months of completely abandoning it I'm on track.  Been a while since I did a straight push-up session and it was tiring.

The ankle was really sore from rolling it yesterday.  I'm not too concerned but I'll probably stick to roads for a few days to make sure I don't roll it again.

Wednesday - East Providence, RI - 8.5 miles

I went over to the East Bay bike path to test out the ankle on a flat surface.  Running was no issue which was good to see.  I threw in a couple climbs but mostly stuck to the bike path.  Good run and I'm glad the ankle wasn't an issue.

Thursday - Providence, RI - 6 miles

180 push-ups (standard/wide/diamond) 20/30/15/30/30/10/25/20

It was pouring rain at lunchtime which was fine by me.  Better that than oppressive heat.  I did an easy six mile jaunt over to the East Side and back.  It smelled like sewage along the coast.  Lovely.

Friday - Exeter, RI - 9 miles

Left the house early with plenty of time to run and I wanted to get a decent hill workout in.  Went over to Cuttyhunk to find the parking lot blocked by giant rocks.  What's up with that?  Parked next to the road and ran the Cuttyhunk trails over to the dirt roads of Fisherville.  I ran back and forth on the two big climbs three times which made for a good amount of elevation.  This wasn't a bad run - it was still fairly cool.  It would have been miserable in the heat.  Happy with the amount of climbing I got in (approx 1200' according to Strava).

Saturday - Charlestown, RI - 2 miles

I took the dog for a stroll on nearby streets.  Does this count for mileage?  You're damn right it does!

Sunday - Exeter, RI - 15.5 miles

As with last week, I returned to Arcadia for my week's long run.  The network of trails is vast and they have some sustained climbs which is what I was looking for.  On this run I made a real effort to opt for trails I've not run before.  Took my time and as a result I didn't get over to the Breakheart Pond until 6 miles in.  Learned of some good trails/double track in the meantime though.  Once on the Breakheart Hill trail I opted for a different trail after crossing over a bridge.  This trail was great - it ran all the way to Austin Farm Road and was a fun mix of pine forest and rocky technical stuff.  After that I took Plains Road for an elevation grab and then took trails back towards the car.  Once again the parking lot was filled with mountain bikers about to head out.  Overall a very positive run and I'm feeling pretty good about the Kismet Cliff Climb.

Weekly Mileage: 48 miles
Year to Date: 792.4 miles

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Weekly Log: 8.22.16 - 8.28.16

Well the weekly logs have pretty much shit the bed here.  No gumption to write them and they were never the most popular of posts so I don't think people miss them (of course, no post will ever topple the king of hits on this humble site - the famous Banana Rice Balls.  It lords over its closest competitor by a three to one margin).

But I digress.  Bottom line is that I haven't had any drive to write new weekly updates.  But I'll give it a shot this week since I'm on vacation and heading up to New Hampshire for a few days - my favorite place!  I signed up for the "Beast of the East" Kismet Cliff Run at the end of September.  It's a half marathon and climbs up over North Moat Mountain.  I'm not sure how much of it I'll actually be running but I've wanted to try this race for a few years so I'm excited.  I've been trying to get in some elevation where I can and this week should provide some opportunities.

Monday - North Conway, NH - 9 miles

We camped for a few days at the Saco River Campground right in the heart of commerce in North Conway.  Once we decided on this place I knew I'd have to get over to the trails in the hills behind Route 16.  I'd seen enough Strava maps to have a general idea and a little web searching provided me with a map and route to the Quarry that I've heard so much about.  I was out of the tent by 6 AM and after less than a mile on empty roads I reached the trail network.  This place did not disappoint, lots of meandering single and double track, some with serious elevation attached.  I checked out the remnants at the quarry before following the powerlines for a while.  I had hoped to make it to the top of Middle Mountain but the trails were farther away then I thought.  I settled for some climbing on the Cardiac Hill trail before making my way back to the campsite.

Tuesday - Carroll, NH - 8.8 miles

I wanted to drag the girls up Mt Eisenhower but the temperature and winds forecast a 20 degree wind chill and we weren't equipped for that.  Instead I picked Mt Hale which I figured would provide more shelter.  It certainly did but the climbing wore Ezri out.  Nevertheless when we reached the top Amanda suggested that we continue on to Zealand Falls Hut and make a loop out of it.  Ezri was game and we made the slow journey to the hut.  It was downhill but with plenty of rocks, mud and water hazards.  After that the trail back to the parking lot was thankfully very flat and easy.  I had to run the last mile to pick up the car at the Hale parking lot but it was downhill dirt road and I enjoyed opening up on it.  This was Ezri's 2nd 4000 footer and the 5th for Amanda.

Wednesday - 0 miles

Our last day in New Hampshire and I should have gone back to the trails and attempted Middle Mountain.  But I chumped out.  My alarm went off at 5:30 AM and I rolled over and went back to bed.  I'm a lame-ass.

Thursday - Carolina, RI - 7.5 miles

Back in Rhode Island.  This was a fun run exploring the trails off of Route 112 and how they connect to the Carolina Preserve.  Once over in the Preserve I tried to hit up the hills as best I could before heading back to the car.  A hot one out there.

Friday - Charlestown, RI - 6 miles

In an effort to punish myself and feast on more elevation, I ran the roads behind my house.  It was hot and gross at noon and I went up and down the small but relentless hills until I had enough.

Saturday - 0 miles

Sunday - Exeter, RI - 14 miles

With a month to go it may be too late to really get in shape for the Beast but I figured I'd better at least get in some longer trail runs to give myself a chance.  I woke up early to get over to Arcadia figuring it has enough hills to give me both distance and elevation.  Starting at that big middle parking lot I went over to Breakheart Pond and did the Breakheart trail which led to Ben Utter trail.  At the end of that I ran the big bitch of a hill up to Escoheag Rd.  Then I backtracked and took dirt roads back to the car.  A good run with 1000' of elevation (which knowing my watch means it was probably closer to 1500') and I wasn't completed wiped at the end which I take to be a good sign.

Weekly Mileage: 45.3 miles
Year to Date: 744.4 miles

As always, it's a good week when I'm in New Hampshire.  According to ol' spacewatch I hit about 5000' of elevation for the week but I'm sure it was actually much higher than that.  I probably won't get that high again before the race but I'd like to hit a few thousand feet for the next couple weeks to help my legs out.  It's tough here in RI unless I seek out specific spots so we'll see.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Run with the Beavers Trail Race 2016

Official Time: 1:19:49  11th overall.  3rd in Age Group.

Run with the Beavers is a 10 mile trail race way up in Nowheresville, RI (Chepachet).  Held in the middle of July, it's a two lap race on technical trails/dirt roads that's fun and challenging.  A good cross section of RI trail runners always show up for it.  This would be my first race since the Ryan Park 10k way back in February.  After that I was diagnosed with a stress fracture in my leg which derailed my running.  But now I was feeling healthy and ready to return to racing.  I knew I didn't have the fitness and was prepared to not PR at this race for the first time (and it turned out no one was PRing on this day).

It was a hot one and already in the 80s when I pulled in at 8 AM.  I did a short warm-up and then mingled with the guys.  The race was delayed briefly to allow some late arrivals to register.  RD Bob Jackman had a huge turnout at this race which was good to see.  After his usual talk we were off up the long dirt road.  I tried not to go out too fast but there can be a bottleneck when the course enters the woods so I didn't want to fall too far behind.  I probably should have pushed it more because I wound up behind a few people that I ended up passing over the next quarter mile.

I pushed it a bit to draw near the next group comprised of Leslie O'Dell, a guy in a yellow shirt and Jeff Walker.  The pace wasn't too hard and I wanted to just hold on for as long as I could.  At two miles in there was already no one in sight behind us.  The water stop at 2.5 miles was most appreciated with Beth & Company doing a great job.  I doused myself in water which was temporarily wonderful but soon I was very hot again.  The next long stretch of dirt road a good break from the woods but the group began to put a little distance on me.  Up ahead on the dirt road I could see that Jeff Walker had passed Yellow Shirt.

Leslie, Jeff, Yellow Shirt and then me waaay
back there - Photo by Scott Mason

We returned to the singletrack and the distance between myself and the others was slowly growing.  Then I tripped with my left foot.  My right leg went straight as it hit a rock, jamming it in place and producing intense pain in my knee.  I stopped for a moment and the pain let up allowing me to run again.  But the train of runners was now gone.  Almost immediately the urge to pee became great and with no one around I decided there was no point in holding it for another 7 miles.  After a few moments I was running again, much relieved, but there was someone else gaining on me in the distance.

By the time I reached the bridge and the tricky trail along the brook I was feeling pretty exhausted.  Another full lap sounded terrible.  At the last climb to the start/finish Bob Corsi flew by me looking strong.  But I needn't worry as he was only doing the 5 mile option.  I doused myself in several cups of water in the field and continued on.  Now I was really running alone - no one ahead and no one close behind.

I'm always running scared in the second lap and this was no exception.  I figured everyone else was suffering too so I felt good about my place.  I was tired but tried to focus on the trail and eventually I came to the halfway water stop.  Jeff was there getting ice - looks like the heat took a lot out of him.  I continued on and began to pass a few people still on their first lap.  At the last dirt road section I could see Yellow Shirt up ahead.  Could I catch him?  I slowly gained on him over the next mile but once he reached the final section of descents he was able to find a speed that I couldn't match.

A short section of log bridges were added this year.  A little difficult to
navigate but a welcome addition - Photo by Scott Mason

I finished in just under 1:20 and it's been a while since I've been that happy to be done with a race.  I was 8 minutes slower than last year but the heat/humidity is to blame as much as anything.  In fact, only the winner beat my time from last year.  Afterwards I went to the pond to cool off and swap war stories.  I made a poor decision to attempt to swim which led to my calf seizing up for a good two minutes.  It was painful to touch for days.  The knee pain from jamming my leg stuck around for much of the following week but it was fine when I was running and eventually faded.

So a tough race in the humidity but still a lot of fun.  And I'm back to racing which is the important thing.  After several rebellious years, Jonny returned to WTAC for the team competition and helped us repeat as team winners.  Another year, another Beaver race in the bag.  Hopefully this race marks the beginning of a successful second half of 2016 for me running wise!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Weekly Log: 7.18.16 - 7.24.16

Run with the Beavers race is finally here!  This will be my first race since February and likely to be the first Beaver race I don't PR.  No matter.  I'm feeling healthy so I'm looking forward to seeing friends and putting in a good effort on the trails.  Hopefully WTAC can take home the team prize again.

Monday - Charlestown, RI - 9 miles

It's brutally hot this week with temp in the 80s/90s.  Working from home so I did a lunch loop from my house along Route 2 and then took the Narragansett Trail back to Old Coach.  I carried a water bottle but depleted it quickly and between that and the somewhat snappy pace I was pretty beat but the time I hit the woods.  Had to walk for a bit but found my mojo again once I hit Old Coach and returned to a snappy pace to finish it off.  A hose off in the yard afterwards was necessary.

Brought Ezri to the Chariho fun run.  This time she wanted to run the 1 mile but told me I wasn't allowed to run.  So be it.  She ran an 8:27 which isn't too shabby.  Then she told me to line up with the 3 milers.  Hadn't been planning on it but got in there and gave a decent effort though it was hard work keeping the young kids in sight.  6:20ish pace which isn't so bad considering the heat and previous miles on the day.

Tuesday - 0 miles

As usual Tuesday is a rest day with no running.  I did set a new forearm plank PR of 5:19!

Wednesday - East Providence, RI - 8.5 miles

Ab Ripper X (15 minutes)

Ran a big loop at lunch.  From the office I went up through Pawtucket and then came back down the Blackstone running path.  My stress fracture injury was stinging after about a mile which was worrisome.  Hadn't felt it in some time.  At the midway point I passed over the Seekonk River and there was a gigantic school of fish that I stared out for a few minutes until clouds and waves hid them from my view.  When I began running again the leg discomfort was gone.  Despite the 80+ temps there was a nice breeze throughout this run which helped.  Pushed the pace a bit on the 1.5 mile Blackstone path segment and picked up a person best.  Good run but my legs were pretty tired later in the day.

Thursday - Seekonk, MA - 6.4 miles

Another hot one.  I didn't want to run in the sun some I picked some trails along the Ten Mile River bikepath.  After a couple miles I decided to stretch it out into a loop and then just not run tomorrow to give my legs a rest before the Beaver race.  Tired by then end so hopefully I haven't run too much before Saturday.

Friday - 0 miles

No running today.  Tomorrow's looks to be the hottest of all week but with the race in the morning in the woods of Chepachet hopefully it won't be too bad.  I do have a gig tonight so that'll wear me out.  No rest for the weary!

Saturday - Chepachet, RI - 11 miles

Run with the Beavers 10 mile trail race.  11th overall.  Official time: 1:19:36.  Report to follow.

Sunday - Exeter, RI - 1 mile

My left calf seized up something awful after the race.  Very sore today and I'm hobbling around.  My right knee is also sore from jamming it during the race.  Family went for a walk around Browning Pond in Arcadia.  Legs okay after moving a while but any rest and very sore otherwise.  Calf painful to the touch.

Weekly Mileage: 35.9 miles
Year to Date: 552.9 miles

So a successful return to racing, though it left my trashed.  Still I'll take it.  Now to continue to keep the mileage up as I hopefully look towards longer races in the fall.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Weekly Log: 7.11.16 - 7.17.16

Monday - Charlestown, RI - 12.1 miles

Took the dog out early for a few walking miles.  I am working from home on Mondays so at lunch I went over to Green Hill.  Ran a bunch of dead-end roads I had never been on and then a bit of the beach before heading back to the car.

In the afternoon Ezri and I went over to Chariho High School for the first in their series of summer fun runs.  While I'd love to get down to WTAC's in Westerly it doesn't really jive with my hour commute.  But since I'm working from home on Monday's this one works out well.

I tried to convince Ez to run the 1 mile but she was determined to run the 3 mile instead.  So I jumped into the 1 mile and gave a solid effort.  It's a mix of track and cross country grass and I eeked out a 5:50 which I was happy with.  Then I ran the 3 mile with Ezri.  She finished in a solid 34 minutes which included scooping up the orange cones along the way.

Tuesday - 0 miles

Ab Ripper X (15 minutes)

Wednesday - Seekonk, MA - 6 miles

I dutifully went over to the Seekonk High track for Workout Wednesday.  I must say that trying to do these workouts in the noonday sun is not much fun.  That said I ground out 8 x 400s. Average pace was 88 seconds and I was pretty wiped by the end.  Cooled down on nearby trails.  I saw a bunch of people wandering the woods for Pokemon which was pretty funny.

Thursday - Seekonk, MA - 6 miles

I planned to venture over to the Seekonk library for easy trails at lunch.  Of course it started downpouring not long before I left.  I went over anyway and had a great run in the pouring rain.  It was still very warm so I was really enjoying myself even though I was soon soaked to the bone.  Lots of standing water on the trail but I just splashed through.  A super fun time.

Friday - 0 miles

Family camping trip to New Hampshire.  After a day of driving and setting up camp there was no time for a run.

Saturday - Woodstock, NH - 13.4 miles

I set out for a morning run from our lovely campsite situated along a crick.  I found some nearby roads that went up into the hills and followed a bunch of them to their conclusion.  Big climbs!  I love New Hampshire - the houses are a mix of shanties and mansions.  Seven miles total and I felt good on the climbs.

The weather was originally going to be worse today but then this morning it looked liked Sunday would be the worse day.  So we decided to hike today - I picked Osceola as I got Ezri a 4000 passbook and I knew she's be excited to bag one.  We didn't get going until 11 AM and there were so many cars at the trailhead.  We took our time and Ezri did great.  Lots of folks at the summit.  Amanda and I were running out of steam on the way down but Ezri lead the way.  My morning running plus hiking Osceola finally caught up to me.  As we went down I saw local trail master Ryan Welts ascending on another epic 45 miler.  Makes me want to come back up here and try something longer.

Sunday - Franconia, NH - 1 mile

An easy day for us after yesterday's hike - we just wandered around the Basin in Franconia before heading over to North Conway for some food/shopping.  Then the long drive home.

Weekly Mileage: 38.5 miles
Year to Date: 517 miles

Any week that sees me in New Hampshire is a good week.  I tried to convince Amanda we should move up there but she wasn't interested.  I'll have to plan another adventure up there soon! Also finally passed 500 miles for the year!  I'm feeling healthy so now it's time to just keep extended those long runs and get in that weekly mileage.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Weekly Log: 6.27.13 - 7.3.16

Yeah, yeah, I've fallen off the blog wagon.  It's not due to continuing injury - my recovery from the stress fracture is going well and I've been running consistently for a few weeks.  Rather I've just lost any motivation to blog (I still have a draft of a fun backpacking trip from May that I've yet to complete.)  Anyway, here's an update:

Like I said, the running is going fairly well.  After several weeks of running with lingering stinging/discomfort from the stress fracture, things suddenly clicked and I was running pain free.  Since then I've been slowly adding a few miles a week and my longest runs are approaching double digits.  I've even started to do some speedwork on the Seekonk track.

I ended up frigging up my wrist from all the planking I was doing - just another case of not listing to my body when I was doing sidearm planks.  The wrist pain kept getting worse until even pushing myself up out of a chair induced sharp pain.  Doc has me on an anti-inflammatory and wearing a real deal wrist brace.  The brace defiantly helps and I think the wrist is slowly improving.

My planking shit the bed for a while, partly due to the wrist thing but mostly because I lost interest (lazy).  I'm back at it now and the last few weeks I've had a good morning routine of either planks or my old friend the P90X Ab Ripper.

So there you go.  I feel like I'm progressing nicely and I hope to be in decent shape for the Run with the Beavers race in a few weeks.

Monday - Charlestown, RI - 5.5 miles

Ab Ripper X (15 minutes)

I'm working from home on Mondays for a while which makes my life much more pleasant.  Took the opportunity to head over to Carter Preserve at lunch.  It was a steamer out there - over 80 degrees.  The caterpillar infestation this year has been the worst in years and Carter Preserve has been demolished - no shade to speak of in the woods.  The shrubs were bigger than usual as a result.  The heat wore me out by the end but it was a satisfying trial run.

Tuesday - 0 miles

5 minutes of planking

Wednesday - Seekonk, MA - 6 miles

Trying to keep it Workout Wednesday so I went over to the Seekonk High School track for some 800s.  Chris Fox ran by as I was warming up.  Good to see him one last time as he's moving to Seattle in a week.  It was another very hot day in the sun so I didn't push too hard but I went from 3:06 on the first to 3:00 flat on the fifth.  Could have pushed them a bit more but I'm just getting back to the speedwork and plus it was miserably hot/humid out there.

Thursday - East Providence, RI - 3.1 miles

Ab Ripper X (15 minutes)

Work has been miserable lately and didn't want to leave the office for long.  Plus my bad leg was achy - not from the stress fracture but the other side.  This didn't worry me much and once I got out there it wasn't an issue.  Ran along the river which is such a dump.  If they cleaned it up it'd be a cool little area.  Instead it's just garbage city.

Friday - Charlestown, RI - 7.5 miles

7 minutes of planking (including new forearm PR - 5:01!)

I was working from home again so I decided on a loop through Browning Woods and DuVal.  Felt pretty good and once I left Browning and hit the dirt roads I was moving pretty well.  The sand pits are undergoing a change - they're building houses and a country club (golf course?!?) back in these woods and the dunes have been cleaned up.  There was even a fire hydrant in the middle of it now.  I'm not thrilled about all this new development but on the other hand people just dumped all their shit back there so I can't say it's a downgrade.

I kept the pace up all the way to the DuVal trail and once I hit the path I put in a solid effort to try to best my PR on the Strava segment there.  I came up short by about 15 seconds but I'll take it.  Then I took the roads back to my car.  A funny sidenote after the fact - Jonny and I nearly ran into each other.  A good motivating run to start the long weekend.

Saturday - Charlestown, RI - 4 miles

Wanted to get a short one in.  Went over to Wood River Junction and did a few easy miles on the North/South trail.  Mostly farmland and piney soft trails.  Hot one out there.

Sunday - Charlestown, RI - 10 miles

For my longish effort I went over to Burlingame early morning.  It was crisp and mid-50s.  No bugs!  I ran from the lot on King's Factory up Sammy C's and then took the trails to North Burlingame.  Did a hilly loop and then ventured down to the water at North Camp.  I stopped short of the beach when I saw a tent.  Then it was Vin Gormley back to the car.  I did a little backtracking to make it ten miles and the last mile was tough.  I was tired and beginning to bonk.  Still a good run overall and with no leg pain I'm happy.

Weekly Mileage: 36.1 miles
Year to Date: 409.9 miles

A good week of running!  I'm feeling strong and the leg stings sometimes but never when I'm running.  So far so good.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Weekly Log: 5.16.16 - 5.22.16

Well here we are.  A week of actual running is upon us.  We shall see how it goes!  I also have a White Mountain adventure to look forward to this weekend.  I'll be backpacking with friends back to the Bonds.

Monday - 0 miles

I wanted to get in a yoga session so today was the day.  Good start to the week.

Tuesday - Seekonk, MA - 4 miles

It was good to get back into the swing of things.  I did a loop around the Turner Reservior.  Mostly trails with a short road section but I did a couple loops on the Seekonk HS Track as well.  Right near the end I ran into Chris Fox and he ran with me back to the car.  I guess he's moving to Seattle in a month or two so I'll miss seeing him at local trail races.  A good first run back.

Wednesday - East Providence, RI - 4.2 miles

I ran along the East Bay bike path on a glorious day.  Lots of people were using the path and half of 'em couldn't be bothered to walk in the right direction.  Stay to the left people!  It's not that hard to comprehend.  The leg began to sting after about a mile and the aggravation continued through the run and afterwards.  I'm going to consider this part of the healing process and try not to get too worried about it.

Thursday - 0 miles

Leg is still a little aggravated this morning so no point in pushing it.

Friday - White Mountains, NH - 12.8 miles

Saturday - White Mountains, NH - 9.6 miles

Fun adventures up in the Pemi Wilderness.  Write-up forthcoming.

Sunday - 0 miles

Weekly Mileage: 30.6 miles
Year to Date: 282.1 miles

Friday, May 13, 2016

Weekly Log: 5.9.16 - 5.15.16

Monday - 0 miles

We had a lunch gathering for a departing colleague so no yoga or running today.  I did about 8:30 of planks in the morning but it was tough work.

Tuesday - East Providence, RI - 4.4 miles

I upped my efforts this week to 80% so that's 1 minute of walking and then 4 minutes of running.  Leg felt fine throughout but I felt out of shape.  That's normal I suppose.  Beautiful day along the bike path.  Finally feels like spring!

Wednesday - Seekonk, MA - 4 miles

Spring shming.  Now it feels like summer!  I went over to Wheeler School in Seekonk and ran up to the Caratunk Preserve.  I had to bushwack through some briers to get there but it was worth it.  Between the heat, hills and lack of running I was worn out by the end.  Still 80% running so every fifth minute was a walking rest.  Which I didn't mind at all.

Thursday - Providence, RI - 3.3 miles

Another hot day and I felt gross and fat.  Running was tough today.  Felt very out of shape.  I intentionally kept this one short though I did make an effort on a short hill segment that I recently lost.  I'm pretty sure the guy was aided but a very generous GPS route so it's unlikely I'll ever be able to take it back but thems the breaks.  Overall a tiring run but no pain afterwards and that's the important thing.

Friday - 0 miles

No running today.  I wanted to take it easy and do lunch yoga instead.  Ended up being a great session so I'm really glad I went.

Saturday - 0 miles

I didn't get a run in but I DID get actual yardwork done.  Mowing the yard took a while and I even managed to rake/weed the vegetable garden.  I don't do actual work often and it showed - I fell asleep on the couch at 8 PM.

Sunday - Charlestown, RI - 5.6 miles

The dog needed a walk and I wanted to run longer in the woods so we compromised and I took him to Carter Preserve.  This was still 80% running.  We did a big loop hitting up the new brush fields and the train tracks as well as the usual woodland trails.  Poor beast was dragging ass by the end.  I nearly killed the dog but it was a good run otherwise.

Weekly Mileage: 17.2 miles
Year to Date: 151.5 miles

Not a lot of miles but the leg felt good and that's the important thing.  Next week I believe I will chance an actual run!

Friday, May 6, 2016

These Last Few Weeks

I had a pretty good stretch of consistently posting weekly logs since I started this blog.  I probably only missed one or two weeks.  Even after I got the stress fracture I kept them up, sad though they might be.  Apathy finally got the best of me and it's been a while since I posted anything so I figured I'd give an update.

After six weeks of no running, I finally began to work some running into my walks (4 minutes of walking / 1 minute of running).  This went well and the next week I upped it to two minutes.  This also went well but then on that Friday after the walk/run I felt that familiar stinging/burning sensation in my leg.  The feeling hung around for a couple hours and bummed me out.  I didn't run for a few days and when I picked it back up it seemed alright.  I took a little extra time to get to up to three minutes of running and I seemed to be back on track.  But for the last couple days I've felt that same stinging sensation on and off.  It's not particularly painful or debilitating but it's there and that worries me.  I've done some reading and it may just been residual sensations as the bone repairs itself.  Or maybe it's not.  It's hard to say.  I've been going back through Jim Johnson's blog for inspiration as he was dealing with something similar last year.  After posting this I'll probably go out for a short trail run to see how it goes.

My planking has sort of shit the bed as I got derailed by a vacation week and then a work-from-home week where I took care of Amanda who's recovering from shoulder surgery.  Last week some weird neck/back pain has cropped up out of nowhere so that's been another annoyance to deal with.  But I'm working towards getting back into the planking regimen as it's good exercise.

In other news I got to watch Ezri run at the Clamdigger 5k.  She had previously run a 5k last year at Ninigret in 40 minutes.  Since then she's being doing the running club twice a week before school so I knew she'd be faster.  But she ran a 30:43 which blew me away!  She finished third in her age group (1-13) which is pretty good considering she's seven!  I was a very proud papa - she ran the race by herself and I only got to cheer from the sidelines.  Sub 10 minute miles!

I also worked the aid station at the Big River 1/2 Marathon.  I was pretty disappointed to miss this race as it's one of my favorites but I was glad to help out.  I really enjoyed seeing everyone come through and I ended having a really good time.  Definitely something I'd like to do again at for future races.

So that's where I'm at.  Hopefully my leg is on the rebound and these sensations I'm feeling are a normal part of the healing process.  I feel like I did my due diligence by taking six weeks off and then ramping it up very slowly so if I have to take another long hiatus I won't be thrilled.  I was hopeful to be back to full strength for the Beaver race and the Blessing.  Time will tell.  These are minor setbacks in the big scheme of things so I'm going to try to focus on the positive and enjoy whatever adventures come my way.

Drink and Be Refreshed

Friday, April 22, 2016

Weekly Log: 4.4.16 - 4.10.16

Monday - 0 miles

8:33 of planks (Elbow - 4:37 / Straight left arm - 1:09 / Straight right arm - 1:20 / Straight arm - 1:27)

Added another 30 seconds to my plank PR.  Whoa!  A good way to start the week.  It was snowing in the AM but clear skies at lunch allowed me to go to lunch yoga.  It began to snow again when I left the studio and it continued the rest of the day making for a shitass commute home.

Tuesday - East Providence, RI - 2.3 miles

8:33 of planks (Elbow - 3:29 / Straight left arm - 1:02 / Straight right arm - 1:20 / Straight arm - 1:17 / Ebow - 1:25)

Oof.  Planks were a lot tougher than yesterday.  Guess that PR wore me out.  There was a good amount of snow up in Providence so I brought the microspikes and went over to the 10 Mile River bikepath at lunch.  The spikes proved to be overkill and the snow just clumped up in 'em.  I pocked them after a mile and did another couple miles of walking on the path and in the woods.

Wednesday - East Providence, RI - 2.8 miles

Went for a cold and windy walk along the East Bay bike path.  Sure doesn't feel like spring!

Thursday - 0 miles

8:33 of planks (Elbow - 3:11 / Straight left arm - 1:05 / Straight right arm - 1:23 / Straight arm - 1:53 / Ebow - 1:01)

Friday - 0 miles

6:00 of planks (Elbow - 2:.31 / Straight left arm - 1:01 / Straight right arm - 1:17 / Straight arm - 1:11 / Elbow - 1:01)

Saturday - Charlestown, RI - 1.9 miles

I took the dog out for a walk in Carter Preserve.  He was a spazz out there at first but he calmed down and we enjoyed the stroll in the woods.

Sunday - 0 miles

Weekly Mileage: 7.5 miles
Year to Date: 162.1 miles

And with this six weeks of no running has come to an end.  The leg feels okay so next week I'll begin to work some running into my walks, though I'll still be mostly walking to begin things.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

South Carter and Mt Hight - March 20, 2016

This was the second hike of a weekend trip to the White Mountains.  The first hike was a fun trip to the Hancocks with my friend Rob.  This one would be a solo affair.  I had originally considered attempting Mt Isolation however upon reflecting it seemed like too much.  It would have been 14 miles round trip and I had a five hour drive home afterwards.  Plus there was word of a snow storm hitting RI at some point in the evening so I didn't want to linger too long in NH.    After pouring over the map the night before at my hostel, I opted for a shorter hike.  I decided to head up the 19 Mile Brook trail and summit South Carter.  Based on how long it would take, I could also head over to Mt. Hight as well before coming back down.

I got an early start and was on the trail by 7 AM.  At first it was mostly dirt and I barebooted.  There were plenty of icy patches but most were easily avoided.  At 3/4 mile I decided to put on the microspikes for a tricky ledge section but I left 'em on - should've removed them as there was plenty of dirt over the next mile.  By the time I turned onto the Carter Dome Trail at mile 2 it was mostly ice/snow and the spikes stayed on.  There was a tricky water crossing on this trail and one tough ice dam to climb over but otherwise the trail was easy going.

Nice bridge set up to cross the 19 Mile Brook

Frozen beauty on the water

Mt Hight featured the only real steep/snow of the day

The trail leads up to Zeta Pass and after a short break I made the quick trip to South Carter.  There are no views on South Carter.  It's totally forested but it's another 4k checked off.  I arrived back at Zeta Pass with plenty of time left so it was an easy decision to head up to Mt. Hight.  The trail up to Hight was much less traveled and the snow was much deeper.  The trail itself was steep and between the grade and the snow it was slow going.  It was only about a 1/3 mile of this climb and then the trail opened up to the bare summit of Mt. Hight.

Northern presidentials in the background

Enough snow on the summit to still feel like winter

Mount Washington

Hard to tell but the brook was a great mix of churning water and ice

Incredible 360 views on Hight and I hung out a while and ate lunch.  Then it was a quick trip back down to Zeta Pass.  The last four miles were an easy grade and I finally saw other people for the first time.  I probably passed about 30 people heading up on the way down.  Towards the bottom I encountered some folks a good mile into the trail who were clearly not expecting so much ice.  Sorry folks, still too early!  This was a fun hike and I covered the ten miles in just over five hours which I was happy with.  The drive home wasn't too bad and the snow never really showed up that evening.

This was NH 4k #33 for me.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Weekly Log: - 4.3.16

I'm feeling pretty good about where I am fitness wise.  My stress fracture is healing nicely and while I'm not going crazy with the exercise I am keeping busy enough to not feel like a lump.  A couple more weeks of not running and then I'll be able to pick it up again, however sporadically.

Monday - 0 miles

8:07 of planks (Elbow - 4:04 / Straight left arm - 1:05 / Straight right arm - 1:23 / Straight arm - 1:35)

BOOM!  New plank PR of 4:04!  It's such a mental thing.  We've bumped up to 8 minutes of straight planking this week and I have a feeling it's gonna be tough.  At lunchtime, a good Yoga session to start the week off right.

Tuesday - East Providence, RI - 2.6 miles

8:07 of planks (Elbow - 3:05 / Straight left arm - 1:02 / Straight right arm - 1:29 / Straight arm - 1:52)

Ooh, it's tough to get to 8 minutes of planking in just my four standard moves.  I was hurting by the end of the straight arm but I got it done.  At lunchtime it was very windy and surprisingly chilly outside.  The walk did me good though.

Wednesday - East Providence, RI - 2.7 miles

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

Feeling crappy this morning with a sore throat so I abandoned the planking and went with push-ups at the office.  Felt pretty good even though it's been a while.  Then I went out to the East Bay bike path for a nice walk.

Thursday - Seekonk, MA - 2.2 miles

8:05 of planks (Elbow - 3:21 / Straight left arm - 1:22 / Straight right arm - 1:34 / Straight arm - 1:48)

More planking torture.  I had to stretch the time on the side arms to give myself a chance at doing it in four moves.  It's going to be rough when the time keeps going up.  At lunch I went for a crazy windy hike in Caratunk.  It was a beautiful day but the wind was definitely intense at times.  Plenty of downed trees on the trails.

Friday - 0 miles

8:03 of planks (Elbow - 2:50 / Straight left arm - 1:23 / Straight right arm - 1:29 / Straight arm - 1:39)

Finished off the work week with another round of lunch yoga.

Saturday - 0 miles

Sunday - Exeter, RI - 7 miles

Crazy weather with fat snow flakes in the morning followed by sun followed by more snow and then more sun.  I went for a long two hour hike in Arcadia in midday.  There was enough snow to be lovely but it was colder than I anticipated.  Luckily I brought some cold weather gear which made the hike enjoyable.

Weekly Mileage: 14.7 miles
Year to Date: 154.6 miles

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Weekly Log: 3.21.16 - 3.27.16

Monday - 0 miles

Snow! Not as much as was possible but enough heavy stuff to keep me working at home today.  It was pretty much gone by the evening which I guess is for the best.

Tuesday - 0 miles

In a frumpy mood today.  A bleak mood.  Not even interested in planking this morning.  I tried for about 45 seconds and then gave up.  Meh.

Wednesday - 0 miles

7:38 of planks (Elbow - 3:04 / Straight left arm - 1:11 / Straight right arm - 1:13 / Straight arm - 2:10)

Well, I finally got back to the plank routine this week.  Better late than never.  We're up to seven and a half minutes of planking.  Oof.

Thursday - 0 miles

7:38 of planks (Elbow - 2:40 / Straight left arm - 1:16 / Straight right arm - 1:31 / Straight arm - 1:26)

Friday - 0 miles

7:36 of planks (Elbow - 2:44 / Straight left arm - 1:15 / Straight right arm - 1:37 / Straight arm - 1:09)

I finished the work week with a lunch yoga session.  Otherwise a pretty blah week.

Saturday - South Kingstown, RI - 2.5 miles

I was pretty bummed to miss the Brrr-lingame trail race today.  It's the fourth race in the series and without it my overall standings in the series plummeted.  Nuts.

I took the dog for a walk in Perryville on the DuVal trails.  God that dog is a spazz.  Every person or animal we encounter he barks at.  It's our fault for not training him better but it makes walks in the woods a real pain in the ass.  Anyway it was good to get out there.

Sunday - 0 miles

5:32 of planks (Elbow - 2:05 / Straight left arm - 1:03 / Straight right arm - 1:14 / Straight arm - 1:10)

This was an intentionally short plank session to at least get something done on this lovely Easter day.

Weekly Mileage: 2.5 miles
Year to Date; 139.9 miles

Well that was a sad week, wasn't it?  In retrospect I don't mind - I am injured after all and this is some goooood resting.  The stress fracture is feeling much better.  No aching or stinging whatsover and it's not sensitive when I touch it.  I plan to take another two weeks off and if it feels alright I'll slowly slowly begin to work in some jogging over the next six weeks.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Mt Hancock and South Hancock - March 19, 2016

I'm on the DL with the ankle stress fracture and that means no running.  However walking/hiking doesn't hurt so that's fair game.  Amanda suggested I plan a trip north so that I don't go stir crazy.  She thought I'd plan it for the next month or two when the weather warms but I was excited to get up there while there was still snow and make use of my new winter gear one more time.  I scrapped the idea of an overnight as it was still too cold for that (which was wise as it ended up being mid-teens in the valley on Saturday night).  Instead I opted for two day hikes.  The first would be a trip to bag the Hancocks.  This ten mile hike off the Kancamagus Highway is fairly moderate until you get close to the peaks.

I stayed with my friend Rob aka the Manchild on Friday night and he was game to join me on Saturday.  A trip report from the week prior indicated a lot of ice on the steep sections which had me a little worried but we steeled each other and were ready to give it a shot.  It was a gorgeous bluebird day with temps in the 30s.  The trail was immediately snow with a bit of ice.  It became more and more ice as it wore on.  We wore our microspikes almost immediately.  The first few miles were an easy hike through Hancock Notch.  Then we had to deal with a couple water crossings.  The streams were running fairly high and there was still plenty of ice on the rocks.  The first few were tricky and we bushwacked a bit to find the best place to cross.

Rob stops to shed layers

Beautiful frozen waterways aplenty

At about 2.5 miles we hit the Hancock Loop Trail and after a tough water crossing the trail began to climb.  We passed a group of three guys that we would leapfrog with for the next few hours.  The Manchild's cheap knockoff microspikes broke a couple chainlinks but luckily I had brought my leatherman with pliers.  He mended them as best they could but they were soon janked up again.  At the point where the trail splits in two and loops over both peaks, Rob stopped to work on them again.  A woman came down the south trail in crampons and told us not to head down the south side with just microspikes.  Apparently people had been buttsliding and it was sheer ice in many spots.  She was kind enough to provide Rob with some zipties (a great idea!) and once again his janked up spikes were back in business.

Heading her advice, we went up the south trail and would come down the north.  The next mile was slow slow slow.  It was a little bit of snow over mostly ice and the trail was very steep.  The microspikes actually worked well.  We just had to choose our spots carefully.   A couple faster groups passed us and it was tricky finding places to stand to let them by.  The heel of one of Rob's spikes was now good and useless but he could still use the front for traction.  Finally we got to the summit of South Hancock and enjoyed a great view of Mt Carrigan, Attitash and the Moats.

South Hancock summit

Mt Hancock summit

The 1.4 mile trail between the summits was moderate and provided some shelter from the wind which hounded us on the summit.  The trail was wellpacked snow but if you stepped off the trail you postholed about two feet down.  We stopped for lunch and the Manchild fired up his stove to whip up chili mac and hot chocolate.  Those three guys passed us again while we ate.  Once we got going we soon passed them again for the last time.  Not long after we reached the summit of Hancock.  Great views of the Sandwich range.

Now it was time to descend.  The north trail was longer than south but not quite as steep.  There were also some muddy sections near the top where the sun had been at work.  We passed a few groups heading up and they'd be the last people we'd see all day.  One of the Manchild's jerryrigged microspikes finally gave up the ghost.  He now had only one tractioned foot to work with and the going was tough.  Once the trail became all snow/ice again he went with the buttsliding technique, using his feet to steer and break.  It was something to see.  The other microspike blew out on his first slide and now he had no choice but to continue this way.  By the end he ripped a big hole in his pants but otherwise seemed no worse for wear.

The plight of the discount spikes

When we got back to the intersection the Manchild had a much easier time of it though he still had to watch his step on the icier sections.  The rest of the hike was without incident.  After making it over the final water crossing we relaxed and enjoyed the rest of the hike back to the cars.  I'm glad Rob was able to join me.  It made the day much longer but I was glad for the company.  I'm also glad that the trails weren't as treacherous as previous trip reports had led me to believe.  Thankfully the microspikes were good enough.  Well, mine anyway.  The Manchild learned a valuable lesson about investing in quality traction.

This was NH 4k #31 & 32 for me.  It was winter 4k #2 & 3.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Weekly Log: 3.14.16 - 3.20.16

I'll be heading up to New Hampshire this weekend to do some hiking.  Looking forward to it!  Forecast looks good though it may be icy.

Monday - 0 miles

7:04 of planks (Elbow - 2:29 / Straight left arm - 1:34 / Straight right arm - 1:21 / Straight arm - 1:40)

I've moved up to 7 minutes of straight planking in the morning (with a few seconds of adjustment between moves).

Tuesday - 0 miles

7:10 of planks (Elbow - 3:43 / Straight left arm - 1:09 / Straight right arm - 1:06 / Straight arm - 1:12)

A new plank PR of 3:43.   Getting close to four minutes with the elbow/forearm plank.  At lunch I went to Yoga since this is probably the only day that I'd be able to fit it in.  Not my best session, my mind wandered a lot.

Wednesday - 0 miles

7:03 of planks (Elbow - 2:33 / Straight left arm - 1:10 / Straight right arm - 1:15 / Straight arm - 1:18 / Elbow - 0:47)

Thursday - 0 miles

7:07 of planks (Elbow - 3:05 / Straight left arm - 1:09 / Straight right arm - 1:20 / Straight arm - 1:33)

Friday - 0 miles

7:07 of planks (Elbow - 2:32 / Straight left arm - 1:19 / Straight right arm - 1:16 / Straight arm - 1:15 / Elbow - 0:45)

Tough morning of planks but I made it to 7 minutes.  I'm feeling guilty for not doing much else in the way of exercise.  I should at least do some push-ups at work but I'm feeling lazy.  No matter - my New Hampshire adventure is finally here!

Saturday - Lincoln, NH - 9.8 miles

Hiked the Hancocks with my buddy Rob.  Report possibly forthcoming.

Sunday  - Bean's Purchase, NH - 10.8 miles

Hike South Carter and Mt. Hight solo.  Report possibly forthcoming.

Weekly Mileage: 20.6 miles
Year to Date: 137.4 miles