Thursday, March 30, 2017

Belleville Pond 10k 2017

Official time: 53:38  6th overall.   Results here.

The third race of Mike Galoob's winter trail series is always a fun one.  After a couple 5ks the distance doubles and there are often truly winter conditions to contend with.  This year was no exception - after a quiet and (mostly) snowless winter, we got a good half foot the day before and so it would be another snow covered race.  This is a good thing as this is what the series is all about.

My training had been spotty over the last few weeks with an sore ankle but I showed up in good spirits and ready to race.  It was pretty cold - in the teens and there was a brisk wind whipping over the pond.  I had on the Salomon Speedcross and intended to run with just them but after a warm up along the pond I encountered enough ice to justify the microspikes.  I threw them on after a half mile and felt they had much more grip on the way back.  Probably overkill but they were definitely helpful for the icy spots.

I met up with folks just before the race began.  I had on my tights but Crutch, Jonny, Jeff and others represented with just shorts (including one guy in nothing but shorts, yikes!).  At the start I quickly found myself in third following Jonny and Brightman along the single broken trail.  I was probably working harder than I should have and I slowed after a bit.  Soon Gazelle went by me followed by another guy.

The course turns onto some hilly singletrack that runs alongside the pond and I was already feeling worn out.  I tried to stay behind the others through this section but had to pass one of 'em on the hills as he was slowing down.  Once we reached the rail bed I could see that Walker and company were already well ahead.  The footing was better here but I wasn't able to get any closer.  Andrew Neil went by and I tried to not let him get too far ahead.  I was hopeful that I would be able to make up ground along the Route 4 section where there's usually choppier snow which favors me.

The Route 4 section was indeed choppier but not a sufferfest as in a previous year.  Andrew aka the Red Chicken had passed the only guy ahead I wasn't familiar with but I was making any ground on this mystery man.  I was now very much in no man's land, well off the others and no one very close behind.  As the course turns back turns towards the powerlines I could see Jon Short not too far behind and tried to find another gear.  The race now featured another section of park- the relatively newer "Middle trail."  This twisty section was slow going and when the course veered back towards the far parking lot I had a sense that this version of the course was going to run long.  I could still see Neil and mystery man up ahead and I held out hope that I could catch them during the next singletrack section.

The twisty stuff along this side of the pond was equally slow going and I only occasionally caught a glimpse of one of the other racers up ahead.  By the time I returned to the rail trail I could see them way up ahead and knew I had no chance to catch them.  I tried to pick up the pace on this somewhat more packed down section of trail but I was running out of steam.  There wasn't anyone close to me so I didn't have any motivation to kill myself on the last section of hills and roots.

I came through the finish in 6th place.  I was worried that mystery man was running for Rhode Runners but luckily he was unaffiliated and the WTAC men grabbed their first win of the series.  After a cooldown with Jon Short and some award presentations I joined a group over at the Oak Hill Tavern.  Another great winter race in the books!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Weekly Log: 3.20.17 - 3.26.17

The Brrr-lingame 10 Miler is this Saturday.  Always a fun race and I was bummed to miss it last year.  The snow is clearing and it looks like spring is finally taking root.  Hoping to get keep up the mileage this week.

Monday - East Providence, RI - 7 miles

It's always tough to get motivated to run on Mondays.  I willed myself into making it an adventure but veering off the bike path after a mile and just heading east into Barrington.  I got good and lost on neighborhood streets and eventually found my way back to the car.  Legs were a little tired after 17 miles yesterday but not too bad.

I got that soreness later in the day and I've come to realize it's not really my ankle but rather just above on my lower outside leg.  This has me quite concerned.  It's a dull ache and it hounded me from the last hour of work to the long drive home.  I fear it could be another stress fracture.

Tuesday - 0 miles

5:30 minutes of planks (longest - 2:40)

No running today especially after yesterday's pains but I did a P90X3 Yoga workout in my office (I missed lunch yoga as I had a conference call).  It was a little tight next to the desk but I made it work.

Wednesday - East Providence, RI - 2.1 miles

8 minutes of planks (longest - 2:30)

My planking has reached a plateau and now I'm having trouble hitting even three minutes.  I suppose this sort of up and down is normal.

No intention of running today, I decided to just go for a walk along the forested bike path.  Windy as hell and with temps in the mid 30s it wasn't exactly a delightful day.  I've been using Headspace to meditate for the past few weeks and I'm enjoying it so today I did a walking meditation session which didn't do much for me admittedly.  Tomorrow I'll try a short run and monitor the results closely.

Thursday - East Providence, RI - 5.7 miles

8 minutes of planks (longest - 3:19)

I ran the bike path and nearby roads.  Nothing felt off other than that the body felt sluggish.  No leg ache later in the day which was comforting.  I shall race on Saturday.

Friday - 0 miles

Hopefully my leg thing was nothing but I wanted to be sure with the race tomorrow so I opted to rest again.  Another round of P90X3 Yoga in my office.

Saturday - Brrr-lingame 10 Miler - 13.1 miles

9th overall.  1:13ish.  Report forthcoming (hopefully)

Sunday - 0 miles

My ankle was a little sore from yesterday's race but not too bad.  Opted to just take it easy (lazy).

Weekly Mileage: 28.3 miles
Year to Date: 413.8 miles

Leg trouble early on and a hard-but-satisfying trail race to end the week. The ankle/leg wasn't an issue so hopefully my leg ailments have turned the corner.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Weekly Log: 3.13.17 - 3.19.17

Monday - Seekonk, MA - 7.8 miles

Ankle is a little sore after the last two days of snow running but with a blizzard coming tomorrow I wanted to get some miles in.  I mapped out a new loop on the quiet roads of Seekonk/Rehoboth.  A fun loop and the sunny weather quickly took the chill off.  I cut through the Caratunk Preserve to finish the run.

Tuesday - 0 miles

P90X3 Yoga (30 minutes)

Worked from home with the impending blizzard which turned out to be a dud.  Turned to rain by 11 AM and our driveway became several inches of slush by the end of the day.  I did get a morning yoga session of P90X3.  It's only 30 minutes so if I can make a habit of it I think it will be quite beneficial.

Wednesday - Richmond, RI - 9.3 miles

8 minutes of planks (longest - 3:07)

I went into work late due to avoid icy roads (though they weren't bad) so I opted to park in Hope Valley and run some quiet Richmond roads.  They were hillier than I anticipated but I felt good and enjoyed the climbs.  It was chilly in the low 20s but I warmed up quick and luckily there were only a few icy stretches to contend with.  A really satisfying run.

Thursday - North Kingstown, RI - 9 miles

8 minutes of planks (longest - 3:05)
Yoga (45 minutes)

I made it to lunch yoga for a really good session.  Then after work I parked at Rome Point and ran local hilly roads.  My ankle is still feeling sore at times and is not healing as I expected.  But it generally doesn't hurt while I'm running.  Still I didn't want to aggravate it on icy/muddy/sloppy trails.  I had gotten out of habit of running before band practice due to the dark evenings so it was great to run in the dusk light again.  Two days of hilly nine milers wore my legs out by the end.

Friday - East Providence, RI - 3.5 miles

6 minutes of planks (longest - 3:20)

A short St. Patrick's day run that led me by some local Irish pubs.

Saturday - 0 miles

Sunday - Charlestown, RI - 17 miles

That damn ankle was sore yesterday afternoon and this morning.  It really stole my motivation and I contemplated bagging this one but I glad I dragged myself out there.  I felt pretty lethargic at first but eventually I warmed up and the run felt better.  I managed a nice 2 hour 20 minute loop.  Legs were only really tired for the last mile or so.  The ankle's not an issue on any of these runs - but it can be constantly sore when I not running.  It's strange.  I'm hoping it's nothing major but I suppose at this point I should get it looked at.

This was the farthest I've run since mid-December.  At this point I'm not really training for a spring race but I may jump into one as a long training run if I can find one that fits my schedule.  It would be good just to see what I have and it would be a hard effort I can put towards a potential mountain adventure in June.

Weekly Mileage: 46.7 miles
Year to Date: 385.5 miles

Friday, March 10, 2017

Weekly Log: 3.6.17 - 3.12.17

A new week is upon us - let's make it a good one!

It has just occurred to me that the Belleville Pond 10k is this weekend.  I haven't given it much thought.  I suppose I should run - not much of an endorsement is it?  I don't really feel like I'm in racing shape but nevertheless I may throw my hat into the ring.

Monday - East Providence, RI - 7 miles

Sauntered out of the office at lunch and did a mix of pavement and nearby trails.  Not a bad run overall and a good jumpstart to the week.

Tuesday - 0 miles

7 minutes of planks (longest - 4:03)
175 push-ups

No running today but that was the plan.  Instead I went to lunch yoga.  It was a good session and hopefully I can make it a habit.  I tried a few months back and it didn't take.  Let's try again!

Wednesday - Providence, RI - 8.6 miles

6 minutes of planks (longest - 3:10)

My upper back/shoulders are good and sore from the push-ups/yoga.  That's what happens when you slack off.  It's a good feeling though.

The morning rain quickly dissipated and it was a lovely sunny day when I ventured out a lunch.  I decided to do an 8 mile loop I'm fond of that took me up and over Pawtucket.  I felt good right off the bat and by the time I hit Blackstone Blvd I was dropping to a sub 7 minute pace.  With a race on Saturday I was a little worried about keeping the pace so peppy but I decided not to worry about it and just let my legs do what they would.  I kept the pace up for the whole run, picking it up slightly as I went.  An unplanned tempo run.  I was on the fence about the Belleville Pond 10k - it may have been a mistake to push the pace today but it also confirmed I should sign up so I guess it was worth it in the end.

It's amazing how a few days of good exercise can make you feel much better.

Thursday - 0 miles

6:20 minutes of planks (longest - 3:02)
210 push-ups

That goddamn left ankle is sore today after my pleasure run yesterday.  Shitballs!  I was planning on doing five easy miles in the wind tunnel but opted to forgo a run.  Lazy or prudent?  You decide.  I was jazzed for Belleville Pond 10k after yesterday's run (especially with snow forecast for tomorrow) but this jank ank has stayed my hand about signing up.  Let's see what tomorrow brings (besides snow).

Friday - 0 miles

7:30 minutes of planks (longest - 4:02)

Ankle feels better than it did yesterday.  I'm working from home today with the snowstorm and I was tempted to get some early miles before the snow began.  I thought better of it though.  I pulled the trigger on tomorrow's 10k and I'm looking forward to racing on snowy trails.  No doubt it will trash my ankle so I'm resting it again today in anticipation of beating it up tomorrow.

Saturday - Belleville Pond 10k

6th overall.  A tough but good race.  Report forthcoming.

Sunday - Charlestown, RI - 5 miles

6 minutes of planks (longest - 3:03)

My ankle wasn't feeling too bad after yesterday's race which is a good sign.  I wanted to get out and try my new Dion running snowshoes.  They're a little bit larger than the racing version but I figure they'll work well on my White Mountain adventures as well.  I went over to Carter Preserve at lunch - temp was chilly but not too bad.  Unfortunately there just wasn't enough snow for the shoes.  I wore 'em over the powerlines and over to the grassland loop.  This was the one place where they were necessary.  There were some big drifts and it would have been rough going without them.  Once I got back in the woods I took 'em off and then carried them for another 3 miles.  Not as annoying as I feared and there was just enough snow to make it a fun run in regular trail shoes.

Weekly Mileage: 30 miles
Year to Date: 338 miles

A good week with a snowstorm, fun wintery race and an ankle that seems to be on the mend.  Progress!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Bonds and Twins Backpacking Trip - May 20 & 21, 2016

Note: This trip report is horribly late.  A draft has been sitting amongst my other blog reports for the past eight months.  With another group backpacking trip a few months away, I felt compelled to get this one finished.

My friend the Manchild let me know that he and his friends were preparing to do a two day hike in the Pemi wilderness, camping at the Guyot campsite.  He invited me along and I was happy to get another chance to backpack in New Hampshire.  I had done much of this hike last October but with spring conditions and new companions I knew it would be a completely different hike.  This would be a two day janut, starting at Lincoln Woods and heading out through the Twins.

Besides my friend Rob I'd be hiking with Duncan, Derek and Pete.  I drove up Thursday night and stayed at Duncan's cabin which was conveniently located just north of Franconia.  They had already dropped off a spot car that night so in the morning all we had to do was load up one car and head to the Lincoln Woods parking lot.  We got a respectable 7 AM start.  It was chilly at first but I warmed up soon as we started moving.

Our adventure begins - Photo by Duncan Ross

The long, long Lincoln Woods trail
Nearly to Bondcliff summit - Photo by Duncan Ross

The last scramble to the top of Bondcliff

This was as close to the edge as I dared
Photo by Duncan Ross

Heading towards Mt Bond - Photo by Duncan Ross

The first several miles of trail are an old rail bed and get boring after a while.  It was nice hiking with other people and it made these dull miles pass faster.  Once the trail began to climb a clear pecking order was established, with Duncan and myself often hiking up ahead before waiting for the other guys.  The weather was warm and clear and when we reached the summit of Bondcliff we were treated to stellar views.  We all took turns getting our picture taken on the famous cliff but Christ it was terrifying out there.

After a rest at Bondcliff we climbed the next short steep section to Mt Bond.  Other hikers began to pass us on their way up at this point.  As is my habit I was nervous about the Guyot campsite filling up but when we arrived at 2 PM there was still plenty of room.  Only one of the platforms was taken and there a couple bags in the shelter.  I set up my tent on the platform above the shelter, offering fine views of my domain.  Derek set up on a platform nearby and Duncan and Derek set up shop in the shelter.  The Manchild set up a hammock next to my platform.

The always opportunistic gray jay - Photo by Duncan Ross

Setting up camp at Guyot - Photo by Peter Boudreau

Relaxin' in style on our pimped out platform

Enjoying the sunset on West Bond

Breakfast in the Guyot "kitchen"
After setting up camp and relaxing, we ventured out to hike up to West Bond.  Another fellow who was hiking the loop by himself joined us.  This short hike was much more pleasant without the heavy pack.  We hung at the summit for a while, enjoying the late afternoon.  Once back at camp we cooked dinner on our various little stoves at my tent platform.  By now it was late in the day and the camp was filling up.  There was a group of boarding school girls that filled up the shelter.  All the platforms had now been claimed by various groups.  Derek gave up his platform to another couple and the guys carried his tent and placed it next to mine.

The next morning we made our breakfasts, packed up our gear and ventured out.  All it took was the climb up from the Guyot Campsite to make my back ache.  It was going to be a long day!  The ridgeline along to South Twin held some remaining rotten snow and microspikes were a big help here.  The views at South Twin were stellar and we spent a bit of time here enjoying the day.

After we passed North Twin and began to descend we encountered many people heading up the trail.  A mix of snow/mud near the top made things slick but once we got lower the snow disappeared.  We ran into one woman who had to park at Route 3 as Haystack Road was still closed.  But just as she finished the two mile walk to the trailhead some cars went by.  They opened the road just after she started out.  What a drag!  Once the trail flattened out we had to deal with a tough water crossing.  The river was high so there was no choice but to just ford it.

The rocky exposed section near Mt Guyot - Photo by Duncan Ross

Slippery snow along the ridgeline - Photo by Duncan Ross

Mt Garfield in the distance from South Twin summit - Photo by Duncan Ross

Top o' South Twin

One last chance for views near the summit of North Twin
Photo by Rob Ragazzo

Rob makes the tricky water crossing

Tired and with heavy packs, we finally made it to the trailhead.  Now was the tricky part.  Since Haystack Road had been closed, the guys had spotted a car on the nearby Little River Road.  Maps showed that if we bushwacked along Little River we'd reach the car.  Thus began our final odyssey.  It was a slow march through the woods and brush.  We were on a steep hill for much of it before getting down onto the river rocks and scrambling along them.  Everyone was ready to be done but everyone kept their grumpiness to themselves.  After what seemed like forever, we reached the car and the end of our journey.

Like I said I wrote much of this quite a while ago but I just wrote the Day 2 stuff which is why it's so sparse.  However I must say this was a great trip with a terrific group of guys.  I'm glad they thought to invite me - looking forward to more such adventures with them!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Weekly Log: 2.27.17 - 3.5.17

Last week presented the first hiccup of the year as some sloppy trails chewed up my left ankle and left it pretty sore.  I'm going to attempt to be responsible and rest it to let it heal properly.

Cross training has also taken a tumble.  My planking hasn't been consistent and my push-ups/yoga regiment has been non-existent.  I really need to get back to it by my motivation is completely lacking.

Amid all of this my desire to run a long spring race was quietly been waning.  I was looking at the end of April for a race as I've got big hiking plans for May.  But with March upon us I feel like my training is pretty weak overall to attempt a 50k in less than two months time.  Not saying I won't do it as I'm a stubborn bastard.  However my long runs have been petering out around 12-15 miles far too often and I'm sort of apathetic about the whole thing.  Frankly all I want to do right now is plan more hiking trips to the Whites.

But every week brings fresh hope/misery so here we go...

Monday - 0 miles

I brought my running stuff to work but apathy is in full effect.  I've got a little bit of a cold and my ankle still a little sore so the Excuse Train has left the station full speed ahead.

Tuesday - 0 miles

My ankle doesn't seem to be getting any better.  Still sore.  Very odd.  And now I've got a full-fledged cold.

Wednesday - 0 miles

I took an actual sick day to rest and get over my sickness.  'nother zero.

Thursday - 0 miles

Back at work, I had intentions of running today.  Then I looked at the shoes I brought - two left shoes.  Whoops.  That was not intentional.  I mean it.

Friday - East Providence, RI - 6.7 miles

6:15 minutes of planks (longest - 3:04)
180 push-ups

I finally threw off my Cloak of Sloth and went for a run on the East Bay bike path.  Ankle was sore at first but then the soreness faded.  A fine run with some major headwind on the return trip.  I think I'll need to be careful about running trails in the near future but road running should be fine.

Saturday - 0 miles

Sunday - 0 miles

I had no intention of running on Saturday but I did plan to run on Sunday.  I admit that the cold weather turned me into a wuss and I never got out the door.  I did get a decent upper body workout but chopping a shit-ton of wood so that was something.  Still, a pretty sad weekend running wise.

Weekly Mileage: 6.7 miles
Year to Date: 308 miles

Time to put this week behind us and look ahead!