Monday, March 27, 2017

Weekly Log 20-Mar to 26-Mar-2017: Final Long Training Run

Monday:  4
Had fun running in the woods from Bradford Preserve into Woody, but just couldn't get myself going for a sustained period of time.  Warm day in the 50s, and I stopped numerous times to check out animals, potential trails, etc.  At one point, I came closer to examine a fresh big pile of shelled acorns.  All of a sudden, from under the pile, a big portly mouse waddled out and away.  Like the mouse, it's about time to lose my buildup of winter fat and shed a few pounds.
OK, maybe not this fat, but he certainly wasn't spry.

Tuesday:  5
Barn Island:  still one of my favorite places to run.  Today I opted to run some single-tracks crossing the interior of Barn Island that I hadn't been on in over a year. So much fun on the twisty stuff.

Wednesday:  5
Hale Reservation, Dover, MA.  In last week's biggest disappointment of the winter season, a forecasted blizzard with 20" of snow turned out to be a complete dud with mostly rain in RI.  Up here, though, they at least got 10" of snow before it changed to rain, so the conditions today were 6" of frozen snow.  Had brought an arsenal of various equipment including snowshoes, and after initially slipping and sliding in just trail shoes, went back for the Yak-Trax.
Tough going, but beautiful in the snowy solitude.

Sunrise reflecting on partially thawed pond.

Really tough work.  At 28 degrees, I normally wear a hat, but left it in the car knowing I'd quickly be working up a sweat.  Eventually got into a groove and had fun on what most likely will be my last snow run until next winter.

Thursday:  5
Easy loop from Wahaneeta, CCW around the Woody Hill Dam.  The waters have receded enough to actual make a crossing without falling in the drink.

Friday:  6
AM:  In the moron department, I had an hour available for running before an Arcadia Y meeting.  Dressed in running clothes, packed a towel and change of work clothes and off we go to run Sammy C's.  Drive 20 minutes to the trailhead - what's missing?  Running shoes!!!  I actually pulled this moronic stunt last fall as well, but that time I was able to salvage it by running barefoot because it I had a grass field adjacent to the trailhead and it was about 45 degrees.  27 degrees and technical trails this morning - not happening barefoot.  Too many "senior moments" lately.

PM:  Returned late afternoon better equipped.  Ran the new BRR "long course" out, and the "short course" back.  Redemption!

Saturday:  21!
Final long training run, a tough and challenging course with Tommy 5K.  Starting at his house with two very different runs put together:  1) 10 miles of flat roads mostly in Quonochontaug, and 2) 11 miles on near constant hills ending at Bradford Boat Launch.
In the first 10 miles, Tommy and I were telling each other to slow the pace more than once as it would have been easy to run a bit faster (than the average 6:48 we were running) but we were going for a controlled pace to simulate marathon start.  In the second half of the run, there was no problem controlling the pace as the constant onslaught of hills, with four of them more than 100' climb, slowed us down.  Tiring, but we got it done.  Now taper for 3 weeks until the marathon.

Sunday:  6
Back to the BRR course with Matthew.  It's going to be a fun race.

Weekly mileage:  53

Weekly synopsis:  A really challenging and tough run to end out the long training runs.  This was my 5th 20+ miler this training cycle, so I've got the long runs in.  What I didn't get in was the weekly volume and mid-week middle distance runs.  Always easy to find excuses, but at this point it is what it is, and with 3 weeks to go and counting, the taper starts.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Weekly Log 13-Mar to 19-Mar-2017: Last week of winter

I like Hammie. I think he and I would have a good time on a very muddy trail run.

Monday:  4
Easy recovery run before heading up to Warwick to support Matthew reaping his various awards for the indoor season.

Tuesday:  5
Work closed for a snowstorm (although I still had a few hours of work to get in remotely).  This was a hyped up snowstorm that I got myself all excited for, as predictions just two days prior were in the feet.  Unfortunately, it turned into about three inches and then a horrible rainstorm.
Got out when it was snowing and had fun in Champlin; started to change over on my way back.
Mid-March snowfall.
Guessing one of the last ones this season.

Startled a couple of birds over a very rough Winnapaug Pond.

Wednesday:  5
I had my snowshoes and YakTrax in the car, but since the lawn is all green, didn't really expect anything when I went over to Wahaneeta late afternoon.  Driving up the dirt road, I could see the ground in the woods was completely covered in white!  It won't last long as there are only a few inches, but I was excited nonetheless.  Loop in Woody Hill, including over the flooded dam, where both feet went in the drink!  Great fun running in the snow.
Really fun out on the trails!

Replaced some broken carbide spikes
on my Yak-trax Run just in time:
went right up over this steep
ice-covered rock.

Fell in the drink trying to cross this frozen swollen dam crossing!

Surprised this camouflaged guy with the long beak
allowed me to get so close.
Maybe Muddy or someone from the Hammett clan can identify?

 Thursday:  6
Met up with Polly and Muddy after work to tour the new site of our WTAC holiday party and ask questions.  Looking good; I'm excited about this!
Afterwards, toured Bradford streets and trails and ran on an abandoned railroad trestle track from Quarry Road to North Woody Hill Road.  It was likely a spur from the quarry to the main Amtrak line running through Bradford, but I could not find anything more with either a GIS or Google search.

Friday:  8
Late afternoon 'round the pond run in very warm and sunny 45 degree weather.  Felt great running on the beach for about 3 miles.

Saturday:  18
Two 4 mile sections of MP (or slightly faster) interspersed into a hilly run with over 1,100 feet of climbing.  The first 4-mile MP section was relatively easy, but the second one was challenging and tough keep up the pace.  It was good to have Tommy to work off.  Pretty sure I wouldn't have completed this solo, or at least not at the same effort and pace.  6:44 overall pace.

Sunday:  0
Really sore and tired after yesterday's run.  Took the full day off.

Weekly mileage:  45

Weekly synopsis:  Still less mileage than I was looking for, but on the bright side I did get back to a serious training run.  One more hard long run coming up next weekend, and then we start to taper.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Snowy Belleville 2017

Belleville Pond 10K
North Kingstown, RI
Saturday, March 11, 2017

Wasn't even sure if I was going to run this race until two days before.  This was supposed to be a long run weekend, so my thinking was either I would incorporate this race into a 20-miler (as I did last year by running 15 miles roads prior to the start of the race), or skip the race entirely and run 20 miles on local roads with Tom.  And then my decision became an easy one, when I learned it was going to SNOW the day before the race.  Long run was out the window, and I was psyched for a SNOW RUN!
Dug out the YakTrax Run to find one missing
carbide spike, and one bent (both circled).  Should have
checked it the night before, as I have a replacement
set, but was short on time, so opted for pliers instead.

I have run every edition of this race except the inaugural one in 2012, and now 4 out of 5 of my Bellevilles have been in snow:

2013










2014 with some of the WTAC gang


2015:  spent at the finish line, but happy!
Yes, as you can see, the common tradition for me here is shorts and snow.  2016 was the only year I ran it WITHOUT snow, and I was thrilled with the return to snow this year.

Warm-up:  Ran into Jonny before registration and asked him about trail conditions, and whether Yak-Trak were warranted.  He advised it with icy conditions in the parking lots we cross, plus a few slick spots.  Sounds good to me; Yaks it is.  After a short solo run, I was ready to go.  The temp had warmed up to 21 degrees, so it made shorts an easy choice.  Stripped down and headed to the start line.
Sampling the race course on the warm-up:
I'm excited already!

The first two miles:  We all lined up behind Leslie despite her efforts to convince us to go in front of her.  At the last second before the start, Brightman advanced forward and a few of us followed suit.  RD Mike G signaled the start, and off we went around the snow-covered baseball diamond.  Brightman and Jonny were up front from the get-go, and I followed Seth behind them.  It was a tad chilly crossing the dam into the wind and as we settled into a short double-track section, I felt several challengers behind me and I pushed past Seth so as not to get passed myself.  The next mile was on fun single-track along the pond.  As I exited the single-track onto the long trestle trail path, I could sense my challengers still on my tail, but Brightman and Jonny were now a good 100 meters ahead of me.  I was surprised to see Brightman turn left off the trestle trail and thought we had a new course this year, until I saw Jonny waving him back on course.
And check out this guy!
It kind of looks like a Critchlery in shorts in the snow,
but we all know he really bundles up in the cold.

The middle three (miles 3 - 5):   The end of the trestle trail was the last time I would see Brightman and Jonny (well, for the rest of the race anyway).  The turn into a parking lot gave me an opportunity to glance back, and while I hoped I would see my teammate Seth, it was two orange guys that were giving me chase.  Beware the orange guys.  Through the parking lot and across the power lines clearing I led them before entering the single-track along Route 4.  As usual, the snow is softer here, with no tracks save a single-set of XC skis, Brightman, and Jonny.  The softer snow in this single-track section usually benefits me relative to others.  Sure enough, at a switchback I glanced back and saw no one.

I felt myself zoning out in "no man's land" as we exited the single-track and headed south through a field.  This was pretty much virgin snow (albeit only a few inches deep), and I alternated trying to figure out whether it was more efficient to follow in the XC ski tracks or just forge my own.  My zoning out cost me, as when I exited the long field section back into single-track, I glanced back and saw Orange Guy #1.  Damn!  OK, I've got to push hard now, because if we get to the more packed down straight trestle trail with any of these young guys close to me, they'll be apt to go right past me.  I climbed multiple small hills and navigated many curves with nary a slip, and was hoping that my Yak-Trax selection was also favoring me.  Just before the trestle trail, I came upon the source of the XC ski tracks:  Carol Ann out skiing the course! 

Final two miles:  The trestle trail was long, straight, and boring.  I was still in third place, and knew if I wanted to retain that, I would have to push.  This was my fastest mile on the day, faster than on the way out on the same trail.  When is this going to end?  And am I about to get passed?  Finally (it's only actually ~0.7 miles) we're off the trail and back onto single-track.  I'm guessing a mile to go, and I figure push hard and it should be mine.  Still felt good as I passed Scott Mason snapping pics at the bridge, and I knew I was close now.  It wasn't until I exited onto the road and started the trip around the baseball field that I knew I had 3rd locked in.  Yes!  Finished strong.
Teammate Elise crossing the finish line.  2nd woman overall behind Leslie.

Carol Ann bringing it home in XC skis.

Final results:  50:49, 3rd place out of 63, 1st in age group.  Results link

It turns out I finished a good 90 seconds of the next guy, Orange Guy #1, a/k/a El Pollo Rojo.  Never took Spanish, but from Mexican restaurant menus, I'm guessing The Red Chicken?  El Pollo Rojo was running for Rhode Runner, an additional reason to be happy about beating him.  He was followed shortly thereafter by unaffiliated Orange Guy #2 (who for some strange reason does NOT have a Spanish language moniker), then WTAC'ers Seth and Jonathan Short.  It's looking good for Team WTAC!

I told El Pollo Rojo I was afraid he'd close the gap, but he said he was really fading the last mile or two.  Pushing hard paid off well for me, and I truly never felt I was fading or getting tired.  The course ended up being long by 1/2 mile or so, and I would have loved to have had an even longer course.

I caught up with friends and frenemies and waited just long enough to get my 3rd place overall award - a box of Girl Scout mint cookies that I brought home and is half gone now.  Mike G said I can double-dip and take something as I'll be called up for winning my age group as well, but no need to be piggy, and I had to leave right away.  I don't come here with any plans to get an award; I come to run a good race, catch up with friends, and above all have fun.  Success on all three counts!  Definitely my best and most fun race of the year thus far!



Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Weekly Log 6-Mar to 12-Mar-2017: Manhattan and Snow Race

I had been writing my blog entries almost every day faithfully, and then just posting at end of week.  Falling behind again, and now I need to reconstruct from Strava.  Kind of defeats the purpose and interest.  Let's catch back up quickly ...

Monday:  0
Very soft from yesterday's Ocean Run Half.

Tuesday:  6
Barn Island in the rain at lunch.

Wednesday:  7
Adams Farm, Dover, MA.  Such a fun, twisty place here.  After about 5 miles in, I realized I was totally disoriented and repeating some of the same trails, and whipped out the cell phone to orient myself and get back to the car.
Very twisty trails to follow!

Twisting through the trees.

Evidently some mountain biking feature.

Thursday:  6
Mostly  road run from Westerly Town Forest, CCW on Potter Hill - Laurel into Ashaway, and back via Boombridge.

Friday:  3
Didn't get up when I planned.  Short shakeout before heading to New York City to watch Matthew run a 15:35 in the 5K at New Balance National Indoors.  His performance was 15th fastest in the nation this year.  You can see his 2-minute post-race interview if you scroll down halfway on this page:  Milesplit RI Nationals coverage
The Armory, Manhattan.
Pristine track, plus a jumbo-tron display for standings and replays.

Cool banked track.  I guess these are "hills" for track runners?

Saturday:  9
Belleville Pond 10K.  Such a blast!  Write-up forthcoming shortly.

Sunday:  0
Lazy wimp.  Ate and drank too much, slept in after daylight savings change, had no motivation to run.  Shameful.  Losing interest in long road runs; hopefully Tommy can keep me engaged between now and the marathon.

Weekly mileage:  32

Weekly synopsis:  Lowest mileage week in 5 months.  Also, lost a CR in Italy by one second, and this one was legit.  No plans to ever go back to Rome, so that one is a goner.  One left in Italy.  If there was a bright side to my low mileage week, it was the whole reason I skipped the weekend long run in the first place:  SNOW race in Ryan Park.  Very cool; now back to business - marathon in 5 weeks.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Frigid Ocean's Run Half 2017


Westerly, RI
Sunday, March 5, 2017

Signed up for this race back in the fall when Kathy was running a half-price deal.  Shortly after I registered, Kathy added a marathon option which I toyed with as it's local roads I know, but in the end I passed and stuck with the half.

A week before the race (yeah, I'll fast forward shortly), I got a text from Mike B.  Remember that guy?  He let me know race day forecast was for "my kind of weather":  cold.  Then he added if 32 degrees is really that cold.  32 degrees?  That sounds just fine, possibly even singlet weather with a light hat and light gloves. 

Warm up:  Left the house at 10 degrees F.  Yeah, so much for 32.  Drove the full mile to the start, sat in the car with the heat blasting while texting Tommy 5K until warm-up time about 20 minutes before the start.  It had "warmed up" to 13 degrees by now, but the wind was howling over 20 mph and gusting over 30.  The wind was out of the northwest, but being wide open at the oceanside parking lot, it just seemed to hit you everywhere.  Ran all of 1/2 mile with Tommy and Mikey, before running back to my heated car and heated seats with my tail between my legs.  I was dressed in shorts ready to go, but that short frigid dash convinced me to swap the shorts for tights.

First four:  Tights, two tech shirts, a hat, and gloves.  Tried to keep moving and jumping on the start line, lined up between Aaron running the 4-miler and Tommy the half, with Mikey right behind us.  After a frozen wait, the race went off right at 8am (my Strava post shows 8:01am), much to RD Kathy's credit. 

Kathy had made it abundantly clear in an e-mail update and at the start that due to the wind, signage could not be put up, rely on the arrows painted on the road, if no arrows, no turn.  Yet two rambunctious "kids" continued to make wrong turns off of the course, right turns off Atlantic where there were clearly no arrows painted.  I yelled when they incorrectly turned onto Winnapaug, and they turned back, but when they next turned right onto Fisherman, they were too far ahead of me and unfortunately other runners followed them, before they eventually turned back.

Anyhow, about 1/2 mile in, Tom pulled ahead for good, and another runner Jared came up and introduced himself, and asked me, "Aren't you Matthew Walker's father?".  (I don't have my own identify anymore, and must live vicariously through my kids.)  It turns out he's an assistant coach for Tollgate, and we chatted the next few miles away.

Back half:  Yeah, not exactly half with 9 to go.  The inattentive kids (that couldn't follow the course arrows) turned off as they were only running the 4-miler, and we trucked on.  A smarta$$ Westerly cop yelled out, "Come on, Walker, you're dogging it.".  (I called him up the next day and gave him grief, as he's also a co-worker and friend.)  My hands and face felt frozen the first two miles, and were finally warming up as we had a tailwind headed out to Weekapaug.  Jared pointed out that there were only two ahead of us now:  the leader, and Tommy.

Turning north at the Weekapaug Bridge, we went right into a frigid headwind, and this would be the slowest mile of the whole race at 6:26.  A half mile later, happy and encouraged to see Tommy turn off onto Cove Road and out of the wind ahead of us.  Most of the course was bereft of spectators, so after turning onto Noyes Neck Road, was very happy to see the rest of Tommy's family cheering me on:  Steve, Mary, and Shara.  We would see Shara one more time on Wawaloam, before making the trek back to the finish on Atlantic.

With a couple miles to go, I knew that Jared had more in the tank than I did, as he was breathing easier than me.  He held off with a kick until the state beach was in sight, and then he went as he narrowed the gap between me and Tommy.  I felt fine when I finished and hung around for about 10 minutes talking to Steve before I got cold, but my friends didn't fare as well.  Tommy looked like he was throwing up, and when Mike B finished, he left immediately saying he was cold.  He didn't look well.

Thought about staying for awards, but I eventually got cold myself and then started to shiver.  The water bottle I picked up at the finish had chunks of ice, the food was frozen, and it was time to go.  I've run races in the upper teens before, but I think this was the coldest race I have ever run.

Final results:  1:23:18, 4th overall out of 342.  1st in age group (slightly, the next 50+ guy was 23 minutes behind me)  Results link

Monday, March 6, 2017

Weekly Log 27-Feb to 5-Mar-2016: Ocean's Week

Reducing the mileage this week, coming into the half-marathon on Sunday.

Monday:  0
Sore.  Planned day off.

Tuesday:  0
Double zero.  Wimp.

Wednesday:  6
Hale Reservation, Dover, MA.  Snow-shoed here two weeks ago in over a foot of snow.  Today not a trace of snow.  Ran my usual starting trails and then veered off in search of the connector trail over to another trail system, Noanet Woodlands.  After zigging and zagging, I was psyched to get onto the mystical yellow-blazed trail.  It was like I had found the yellow-brick road.  Would like to connect the two some day and get in a good 10-miler or more, but unfortunately it was time to finish the run and get to work.

Thursday:  5
Noon run at Woody Hill.  Stuck to northern Woody today.  Probably my favorite place to run in Westerly.

Friday:  5
Big River.  Since I was working in Providence today, this seemed like a good place to run on my way home.  Hadn't been here in a long time, and I forgot how cool some of the single-track is.  It never fails that I get lost here, and anticipating that, I always bring my phone.  Surprisingly, I only had to whip out my phone once to gauge which direction to go in to get back.  There are some really cool single-track trails in here.

Saturday:  4
Easy shake-out on local roads.

Sunday:  14
Frigid Ocean's Run Half.  Write-up forthcoming shortly.

Weekly Mileage:  35

Weekly Synopsis:  Lowest mileage week in a while, but I knew that coming into it.  Was dreading the Ocean's Run the latter part of the week, due to very cold and windy conditions.  Glad that's in the rearview mirror.  Six weeks to Newport now.  Two 20-milers left, and probably a hard 16-miler in between.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Weekly Log 20-Feb to 26-Feb-2017: Minks and Measuring

Transition week from snow to warmer weather.
From one season to the next:
Rinsed off the snowshoes and put them in the sun to dry,
while I assembled the new outdoor fireplace.

Monday:  7
Presidents' Day run with Tommy 5K and Riley.  Roads with a tinge of beach at low tide mixed in.

Tuesday:  5
Late afternoon run in the Barn.  When I ran here last week, it was on snowshoes, but they wouldn't have made much sense today with the trails almost completely bare to the ground. 

Getting out of my car on Palmer Neck Road about the start my run, a woman ran by me on the road and said "Really brave to be out here with bare legs.".  Really?  It's 42 degrees!  Looked up to see her wearing a hat under a hood, gloves, and a DOWN WINTER JACKET!  I don't wear a down jacket in runs at -5F, but to each his (or her) own.

Fun trail run.  First time in almost 2 weeks on bare trail.

Wednesday:  3
Course measuring for Back Road Ramble.  Had intended to wheel-measure both the short and long course, but after getting done with the short course, I realized a slow pace pushing a wheel would not combine well with impending darkness. 

Thursday:  6
Returned to B-game to wheel measure the long course, which unfortunately got denied, but the Y is working on that.  At one point, the wheel got jammed between a root and a rock, and I smashed my shin into it.  Man, did that hurt!  When finished, I ditched the wheel in the woods to pick up later and wanted to run the same route (Sammy C's) back, but ran out of time as I was already going to be late to work.  Don't you hate it when work gets in the way of a good run?
On Buckeye Brook Road, just before parking the car, I saw a strange looking
animal on the side of the road that at first I thought was a cat.  It stopped completely
and just looked at me, so I got out my cell phone to snap a pic, but was not quick
enough.  Fisher cat and mink came to mind and after researching on the 'net
and especially finding this pic, I'm very confident that mink it is!


Friday:  14
AM:  11-mile Richmond/Hopkinton loop from Arcadia Y.  Pastoral farms, horses, snow-covered fields, raging streams and rivers.  Beautiful and very quiet country run, as I ran for miles between seeing the occasional car.
PM:  3 miles.  Measuring new Stonington Cross-Country 5K course.  Just needs some minor tweaking so we can have same start/finish.

Saturday:  16
Second day of Richmond/Hopkinton hilly country roads (different start and loop).  Also the second consecutive day of overdressing, as it was in the low 60s (yes, it's Feb) and I should have worn a singlet instead of a long-sleeve shirt.
Challenging run with Tommy, with 2 x 3 mile intervals at MP.  Rolling hills took a lot out of me, but glad we got this one in.  I figured we ran average of about 7:05 and was pleasantly surprised to learn the pace was 6:42.

Sunday:  11
Fun group run of five.  Crutch was our guide in Pachaug, as I've only been in there once before.  Trails along rivers, good challenging climbs, and great views topped the day.  Very sore after yesterday's run, and I'm sure today's didn't help.  Looking forward to a zero tomorrow.
Technical single-track along a stream.

Crossover trail from Pachaug to Quinebaug.

Weekly Mileage:  63

Weekly Synopsis:  Great week!  High mileage, quality 16-mile MP workout on paces faster than I expected, and completed course planning for potentially three new courses at two upcoming events.  Next week will be less mileage, as I'll be running Ocean's Run Half on Sunday as a tune-up.