Monday, December 31, 2018

2018 Year in Review

I'm dragging my apathetic self in front of the computer to make one last post on the blog for 2018 - my annual Year in Review post.  I haven't missed one yet and I figure it would be good to round out the year with it.

Running these days has been a struggle.  I've had little interest in my usual routines and even when trails have been available I've chumped out more often than not.  That said I managed a good amount of training for much of the year - primarily focused on elevation - that helped me train for the mountains as best I could here in Rhode Island.  Since my last big race in September it's been tough to find the motivation however.

I've already drifted away from road races over the last few years but this year even local trail races haven't held much sway over me.  I didn't even run a single race in the South County 4th Season trail series.  Some of that was due to injury but still the motivation was lacking.  However I did find a new hobby in videotaping these races using my GoPro.  I picked up a gimbal that stabilized the footage and allowed me to get some great action shots of the runners.  I'm very pleased with how these videos came out and I hope to continue to film some races in 2019.  Here are my favorites from this past year:

So my interest in running is about the lowest it's been since I started back up in 2010.  However I went into the year with my attention focused on mountain adventures up in the Whites.  Last year's goals reflected that.  Let's see how I did:

  • Complete the 4000 footers - 9 more to go and I have some big goals that will help with that - Completed! (see below)
  • Pemi Loop - Another White Mountain goal of mine is a 1-day loop around the Pemigewasset Wilderness.  Will it happen in 2018? - I did a "half" Pemi loop over the summer.  I went over Owl's Head instead of the Bonds but the distance and elevation (30 miles / 9000 feet) were pretty similar to a traditional Pemi Loop so we'll say that this one was completed
  • Kilkenny Ridge Race - Here's a ballsy one for next year.  Ryan Welts is setting up a badass 50 miler in the northern Whites in July.  It'll take a lot of training to make myself even capable of doing this one and hopefully it'll light a fire under me. - Completed!
  • Presidential Traverse Part 2 - Here's a stretch goal.  I'd like to take another whack at the traverse and see what kind of time I can put up with a better route and less dilly-dallying. - Not completed.  Maybe next year.

A very successful year!  I made it up to the Whites for a total of nine trips which were a mix of solo outings, family trips and races.  I climbed 25 4000 footers total including the final 9 I needed to complete the NH48 4ks.  I finished the 48 on Mt. Cannon in October with my daughter Ezri.  It was a great way to finish.  Completing this list was a culmination of 23 years of hiking started way back in 1995 when I was fifteen.  I did almost 20 by the time I finished college but it was only a few years ago that I picked it back up.  I took my time completing them, often opting for other hikes rather than crossing more mountains off the list.  But as 2018 unfolded I began to check off the remaining summits through a combination of big hikes and races.  Now to continue working on the Winter 48! (I'm only at 11)

So while my running has been more of a chore than in year's past, it helped power me to some great adventures this year.  As always here is my top five races/adventures for 2018:

5. Sandwich Range Backpacking Trip - August 18-20, 2018
All summer long I had looking forward to Phish's summer festival in the Fingerlakes region of New York. I had just arrived when we got word that it was cancelled due to flooding at the local water treatment plant. At Amanda's suggestion I made lemonade out of the lemons and went up to the southern Whites for two nights of backpacking. Night 1 I camped near the top of Mt Passaconaway and was able to catch the sunrise in the morning. A long second day brought me over Mt Whiteface, the Tripyramids and through Waterville Valley before I camped on Jennings Peak for Night 2. Third day was a long slog back to the car that left me trashed but what a great solo trip and another much needed experience with my hammock and camping gear

4. Chocorua Mountain Race - June 16, 2018
I hadn't been up Mt Chocorua in probably 20 years and when Rockhopper Racing decided to put on a 13ish mile race up to the top of it I knew I wanted to take part. It lived up to its billing - a few miles of fairly hilly doubletrack, a couple miles of easy dirt roads and then the relentless uphill climb to the summit. Getting passed by so many on the ascent was humbling but I was able to grab back some places on the downhill. 29th overall and 4th in my age group. Not too bad for a flatlander. I highly recommend this challenging mountain race.

3. NH48k Completion on Mt Cannon - October 19, 2018
Once I grabbed a bunch of the 4ks I needed early in the year, a path to completing the list in 2018 began to emerge. It was great to finish it out with a family stay at the Lonesome Lake Hut. Amanda and Em stayed at the hut while Ezri and myself pressed on to the summit. In 2015, Ezri had been six and we turned back a few hundred feet short of the summit. This time we would not be denied and despite some pre-winter conditions we made it to the summit for my final 4000 footer and Ezri's 8th.

2. Skinny Pemi Loop - July 29, 2018
Designed as both a long training effort for Kilkenny and a means to grab three more 4000 footers, this was a long loop that took me up to Owl's Head and then down the Franconia Ridge. I slept in the Lincoln Wood's parking lot, started in the pre-dawn and went off track early with a bit of bushwacking.  Soon I found the trail and it was smooth sailing after that. It was a long day and the ridgeline was packed with folks but my legs held up fairly well and I finished in about 12 hours. My biggest day in the Whites up to that point - 30 miles, 9k elevation and 6 4ks.

1. Kilkenny Ridge Race 50 Miler - September 8, 2018
The culmination of some big hikes this year, this out and back race was a grinder that went over the entire Kilkenny Ridge in the northern Whites twice, including Mt Waumbek and Mt Cabot. I was nervous going into this race but I treated it like a long long hike. There was some running alongside great company for the first half but while going up Waumbeck the second time it became a tiring affair. The return trip was lonely and mostly hiking. I gave up a few places on the way back and used my headlamp for the last 45 minutes but overall I'm really happy with how this race went. This sounds crazy but I found it easier than the 50ks I've done, in part because so much of this event is hiking rather than running. 12th overall in 14 hours and 50 minutes. A big motivator for 2019!

There you have it. Not too shabby in 2018. It feels a little lackluster since Kilkenny was almost three months ago and I've been pretty inactive since then. But I can't deny that I accomplished all that I wanted to this year. Now to shake off these winter doldrums and find some motivation where I can. I'm not going to bother listing out any goals for 2019 - you can probably guess what they'd be (hint: more mountain adventures). Perhaps another Presidential Traverse, a few more winter hikes and some more trips with my wife and daughter. Thanks for reading and I hope you have a wonderful year in 2019!

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Li'l Rhody Runaround 2018 Video

Look at that - the year's almost over and I'm resurrecting this sad blog to post my video from Li'l Rhody.  Despite several big accomplishments in the last few months (Kilkenny 50 Mile Ridge Race and completing my NH 4000 footers) I've had no desire to blog.  Nor run in general it would seem.  Hopefully that'll all turn around soon.

Anyway few nagging injuries and apathy kept me from participating in Li'l Rhody this year but I did want to get out there a tape some of the race.  The course layout made it tough to record more than the start and one other section of the course but Matthew Walker was out taking footage as well and he was kind enough to share his files with me which really gave the video more variety.  The long bridge section, the rock scramble and the finish line shots all came from him.  Overall I thought the video came out pretty well.

There's still hope that I may get a write-up put together for the Kilkenny race.  Stay tuned.

Monday, April 9, 2018

White Mountain Weekend - April 6-7, 2018

I was able to get up to the Whites this past weekend.  Went up Thursday after work and came back Saturday afternoon.  It was a great trip that trashed my legs.  Mission accomplished, I guess.

Friday at 6 a.m. I went up Mt. Isolation.  It was cold but a bluebird morning and the views were great at the top.  I was a little nervous as there a bushwhack section that is often used in the winter - I ended up following a lesser used whack but it came out on the official trail all the same.  I was moving pretty well on this morning hike.  Isolation was #42 of the 4000 footers for me.

After a short rest at Pinkham Notch I drove a little further up Route 16 and hiked the Imp trail to Middle Carter (#43).  It didn't take long before the morning climbing caught up with me.  This was a tough ascent.  It was beginning to snow on the way up and it picked up as I went but luckily the temp was fairly mild and I never got cold.  I debated whether to continue on to South Carter or not - it added about a mile of trail and 1.5 miles of road to get back to the car.  Ultimately I decided to go for it since I was already up on the ridge and the climbing was more or less out of the way.  The trail was a little tough to follow at times as there were many blowdowns on the ridge.  By the time I got back to the road it was really snowing and had to be careful of traffic.  The drive back to Jackson was the diciest part of the day.

So it was a tough but great day of hiking.  24 miles / 7k elevation / 10.5 hours - that's a good day's effort and a fair gauge of my abilities right now.  I definitely have some more work to do.

Originally I had grand plans for Saturday morning - I had wanted Owl's Head for #44 but my legs were in rough shape.  Tight calves but it was discomfort behind the knees which was the worst part.  I had considered hiking Moosilauke but even that seemed ambitious.  As I was driving to the other side of the mountains in the morning I decided on Mt. Tecumseh.  It's fairly easy as 4ks go and I had never been to Waterville Valley so far as I could remember.  This ended up being a great choice.  There was 5-6 fresh inches of snow and I finally had a reason to bust out my snowshoes.  Plus there were lots of people hiking and it was nice to see other folks about spending the previous 10 hours of hiking by myself.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Belleville Pond 10k and Brrr-lingame Race Videos

Fell off the blog train again.  Trying to writing a summation of the weeks gone by but until then here are some videos I shot from the recent 4th Season Trail Series.  I had a lot of fun shooting these races - trying to figure out where to go to get footage was a interesting challenge.  The stabilizing gimbal I purchased now allows me to get some smooth action footage.  I'm happy with the end results.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Week 6: 2.5.17 - 2.11.17

Monday - 0 miles

Erm, my lower left outer leg has some pain today.  I'm guessing from yesterday's long run.  Decided to rest today.

Tuesday - West Greenwich, RI - 3 miles

More discomfort from the other leg.  Janky right ankle isn't doing too bad these days (though I still aggravate from time to time).  Annoyed to take another zero but it didn't feel that bad towards the end of the day and with some time to kill before picking up Ezri I opted to run some dark dirt roads in Big River.  Headlamp was necessary off the bat and there were some sneaky ice patches hidden under a very light layer of new snow.  Always a little freaky running here in the dark but no real leg issues.

Wednesday - Pawtucket, RI - 7 miles

Ab Ripper X (15 minutes)
A late morning snowstorm dropped probably 3/4" of snow up in Providence.  I went to lunch a little to run along the 10 Mile River bikepath.  Only a few hearty souls out but it was a joy to run in the storm.  Both lower legs didn't feel too bad.  Made it back to the car just before it turned to rain/sleet.  A few hours later the beautiful snow had been turned into a slushy mess.

Thursday - Charlestown, RI - 8.5 miles

Working from home today so I got two runs in - five miles in DuVal in the morning and 3.5 in Carter Preserve in the afternoon.  Repeated some of the DuVal hills to maximize elevation at 900 feet and took it easy in Carter.  Lower legs feeling it this evening!

Friday - Smithfield, RI - 6 miles

Got out of the house early and went up to Wolf Hill for hill repeats on the Mary Mowry trail.  Wolf Hill was surprisingly icy - a reminder of how different conditions can be in the NW corner of RI.  Thankfully Mary Mowry wasn't too bad.  I went up six times, power hiking the first half and jogging the second.  A good workout and I only nearly wiped out twice.

Saturday - 0 miles

No running today but I did take some footage of the Old Mountain 5k.  Hopefully it will be ready soon.

In the late afternoon Ezri and I went to Rock Spot for some climbing.  She's an old pro at this by now but I've actually never been.  I went up one of the tall ones first which was a mistake - I'm afraid of heights and once I saw how high I climbed I freaked out a little.  After that we stuck to the shorter climbs on the second level.

Sunday - Exeter, RI - 12 miles

I woke up at 5 AM for my long run and almost bailed because who wants to run in the cold rain.  Glad I didn't because it turned out not to be so bad.  Went over to Arcadia and stuck mostly to dirt roads.  I figured they'd be in good condition but I was wrong.  Most of them were muddy messes - it was like running in sand!  It was worth it to get to the Ben Utter trail and Stepstone Falls - the water was as good as I've ever seen it with all the rain.  Glad I didn't bail and it ended up being a solid end to the week.

Weekly Mileage: 38  miles / YTD: 125.4 miles

Time on Feet: 6h 21m / YTD: 26h 54 m

Elevation: 4,358 feet / 17,767 feet

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Week 5: 1.29.18 - 2.4.18

Monday - 0 miles

Tuesday - 0 miles

Wednesday - Seekonk, MA - 4.8 miles

A nice layer of snow on the ground after yesterday.  I brought my snowshoes with me to work but it would have been overkill.  Instead I just wore the Speedcross which were perfect.  Great run in the woods at the Caratunk Preserve and with the snow/bare trees I discovered a little shack in the woods near the trail.  I was a little afraid of getting a face full of shot from a grizzled hermit but the shack was empty.  In fact there was a little log welcoming visitors to this wonderful little shack.  It even had a old wood stove.

Thursday - Providence, RI - 6 miles

Ab Ripper X (15 minutes)

Actually did a workout in the morning which needs to become a routine.  It's February now - let's get it!  At lunch I went over to College Hill and ran some repeats up Jenckes Rd.  It's a steep climb and wore me out.  Sidewalks were mostly bare with some slushy spots.  Felt like a good workout with about 1100 feet of climbing.

Friday - Exeter, RI - 9 miles

Light snow/rain mix this morning and I headed out early to run in Arcadia.  Good snow base that was perfect for the Speedcross.  A few bare sections, a few wet sections but most trails had a minor amount of snow cover.  Couple sections up high had as much as 3 inches.  Solid run incorporating the Breakheart and Shelter trails.  Another 1000 feet of climbing.

Saturday - 0 miles

Sunday - Charlestown, RI - 12 miles

Happy birthday to my girl Ezri.  9 years old!  We had much to do before her party so in order to get a run in without too much wife aggro I woke up at five and got to Burlingame for a 5:40 start.  First hour was in the dark with my headlamp and I was disappointed that the snow had receded so much already.  Did a couple loops on Burlingame North and it was finally light enough to turn off the light midway through the second lap.  A good couple hours of trails.  After a kids party I was pretty beat and happy to be back home for the second half of the football game.

Weekly Mileage: 31.8 miles / YTD: 87.4 miles

Time on Feet: 5h 35m / YTD: 20h 33m

Elevation: 3,648 feet / YTD: 13, 409 feet

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Week 4: 1.22.18 - 1.28.18

Monday - Tamworth, NH - 4.5 miles

My long weekend in New Hampshire with my wife sadly wrapped up.  I went out early and did a bit of redlining on the White Ledge trail on the slopes of Chocorua.  Started the hike in the dark using my snowshoes on the frozen choppy snow.  A mix of conditions, including bare trail at points and treacherous rocks freshly coated in ice from the freezing rain.  No views but I was happy to get a couple hours in before heading home.  See last week's blog for the video (it's mostly about Waumbek but the last few minutes are of White Ledge).

Tuesday - 0 miles

I'm experiencing my usual post-NH hangover.  Not from libations but rather from the return to the flat city wasteland of Rhode Island.  This state bores me now. It was raining all day.  I decided to hang out in Mopeytown (aka my office) instead of being productive and going to yoga.

Wednesday - Providence, RI - 5.5 miles

I tried to psych myself up with some repeats on Jenckes hill.  I'm out of shape but the temp was nearly 40 degrees and it was good to get back out there and punish my legs.  Jankle was a little sore afterwards but nothing concerning.

Thursday - East Providence, RI - 5 miles

10 degrees colder today and a steady wind made for a nippy run on the 10 Mile River Bike Path.

Friday - 0 miles

Saturday - Wakefield, RI - 8 miles

Ezri began another round of drama club at the local theater and it gave me an hour and a half to kill.  Spent the time exploring Old Mountain trails and finding the connector to South County Commons.  Then I ran little loop repeats on the hilliest section of trail I could find to almost eek out 1000 feet of climbing.  Gorgeous day.

Sunday - 0 miles

Opted not to run early in the cold rain.  My excuse is that it's flu season.  Thoughts of running later in the day of course drifted away...

Weekly Mileage: 22 miles / YTD: 55.6 miles

Time on Feet: 4h 52m / YTD: 14h 58m

Elevation: 4,478 feet / YTD: 9,761 feet

Things are slowly getting there.  Much more work to do...

Friday, January 26, 2018

Week 3: 1.15.18 - 1.21.18

Ankle finally began to feel better this week.  Doc confirmed that nothing major going on - just a bad strain.  Did a short run along the bike path which felt fine so I guess I've got no more excuses.

Wife and I went up to Conway for a couple days.  We hiked Waumbek which was a tough hike for her but she did it!  #40 for me.  I got a sweet gimbal for my GoPro which really improves the footage.  Take a look:

Weekly Mileage: 13 miles / Year to Date: 33.6 miles

Time on Feet: 5h 23m / Year to Date: 10h 6m

Elevation: 3000 feet / Year to Date: 5193 feet

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Week 2: 1.8.18 - 1.14.18 - The Jankening

Monday - Seekonk, MA - 2.6 miles

Ankle remains sore but I can't stay contained indoors.  I brought my snowshoes with me to work and at lunch went over to the Seekonk Meadows for a lunch run.  It was 30ish degrees so I went with shorts.  I immediately regretted it as the snow was unbroken and soon the back of my legs was caked in frosty snow.  Soon though I found some broken trail and I was able to work into a run.  That melted the snow and warmed me up.  I did a mix of running and walking and my Dion snowshoes worked great.  They are not the straight up running shoes, but the ones designed for both hiking and running.  They worked well but man it's hard work on unbroken/half-broken ground.  A good 45 minutes of effort.

Rest of the week - 0 miles

I paid a price for Monday's snowshoe effort.  My ankle was very sore the next day and though I could walk on it fine through the week there is still major discomfort.  It's painful to apply pressure at points and I guess in retrospect this is a full-blown ankle sprain.  Fuck this shit.

The first race of the 4th Season Trail Series is this weekend but I haven't even considered running it.  So far rest has done little to make this ankle injury better so I suppose I'll need to get it looked at next week.

Sunday morning, 12 days after the injury and the ankle aches even when I'm sitting on the couch - a frustrating start to 2018.

Mileage: 2.6 miles / Year to Date: 20.6 miles

Time on Feet: 43 minutes / Year to Date: 4 hours 43 min

Elevation: 200 whopping feet / Year to Date: 2193 feet

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Week 1: 1.1.18 - 1.7.18

Here we go - a new year, another chance for blog redemption!  This is a big year for ol' Seth as I turn 40 in April.  Let the midlife crisis begin!  Perhaps my ascension to Master status will inspire me to up my racing game once again.  Here we go!

Monday - Charlestown, RI - 8 miles

It was about 10 degrees out and my wife helped motivate me to get out the door to start the year right.  Ventured over to Carter Preserve and ran a mix of the usual trails.  Just enough snow on the ground to provide a nice crunch.  Chilled at first in just my cold compression tights but eventually I warmed up everywhere except my elbows which always fare poorly when the weather is especially cold.  Do they make elbow warmers for such occasions?

Tuesday - South Kingstown, RI - 6.5 miles

Ab Ripper X (15 minutes)

Started the day with a return to the Ab Ripper.  I mean to restart these morning workouts or die in the attempt!

I'm working from home this week and went over to DuVal at lunch for some crunchy trails.  Not as cold as yesterday but I was still chilled for the first couple miles.  Right towards the end as I'm approaching the cemetery I tell myself to keep my eyes on the ground - my stumbles always seem to come right at the finish line.  It didn't matter though, I still managed to bend my right foot backwards on a rock.  Pissed that once again I have summoned the Jank Monster™ ™to derail my efforts.  I hobbled along for a few steps and then was able to shamble the final stretch to the car.  It was very tender afterwards.  I'll almost definitely need to take it easy for a couple days.  Curses.

Wednesday - 0 miles

Yeah, the ankle hurts.  As does my pride.  I had hoped to get in a run today before the storm dumps on us tomorrow but it is not to be.  Looks like I'll have to be content with dragging in firewood as my day's effort.  My whole right foot is very swollen.  Luckily being in my snow boots seems to stabilize it so I won't be able to shirk my upcoming shoveling duties.

Thursday - 0 miles

The latest blizzard has arrived and I've got the basement cookin' at 80+ thanks to the wood stove.  Amazingly we haven't lost power which is a welcome break.  My foot is still very swollen.  Walking around isn't bad but I've got to continue to take it easy so that I can make a quick recovery.  Dammit.

Friday - 0 miles

A goodly amount of shoveling yesterday and another big round this morning.  Plow guy came in the night so we're in good shape post-storm.  Foot swelling is finally going down.  I was looking forward to some snowshoe exploring in my new Dion's at, say, Carter or DuVal but it is not to be...

Saturday - Charlestown, RI - 3 miles

Ankle remains sore and a bit swollen but I would not be denied another day.  Strapped on my snowshoes and hiked three miles in Carter Preserve, breaking trail most of the way.  Kept the pace easy and other than the wind chilling my nether regions as I battled the drifts in the grasslands I was very comfortable in the cold temps.

Sunday - 0 miles

Mileage: 18 miles

Time on Feet: 4 hours

Elevation: 1,993 feet

This ankle injury is an annoying way to start the year but I'll be back to running soon.  Anyway with the decent snow we got and my apathy towards roads I may just be looking at more snowshoeing for the time being anyway.