Thursday, May 17, 2018

Weekly Log 7-May to 13-May-2018

Monday:  0
My usual run-less Monday.  Instead did a little bit of trail maintenance early morning on the Pumpkins Connector trail.

Tuesday:  6
Roads and beaches.  Sunny morning run.  Coming back with the sun warming my face and pleasant smell of salt air, it occurred me that I am once again lapsing into taking Westerly for granted.

Wednesday:  9
Blue Heron Loop, Dedham/Boston, MA.  Hadn't run this in a while, and suspect I won't run it again for a while as it's typically not very runnable during the summer with overgrowth, and I have less work at our Wellesley MA subsidiary of late.

Thursday:  6
Champlin trails early morning.  Drive to NY to watch Matthew and team run Distance Medley Run in the early evening.

Friday:  6
Warm sunny mid-day run on Misquamicut beach, before heading to White Plains, NY to watch Matthew run the 3200.  Had a great Japanese dinner in White Plains prior to his running.  2nd very late night in NY and drive home back to RI.  Tiring.  Really horrible traffic in western CT; can't fathom how people commute on these roads day after day.

Saturday:  0
Shad Bloom no-show.  Better a DNS than a DNF, right?  Had some car issues come up that I needed to address, and that took up most of my day.  Went to Breachway Grill (Charlestown Beach Road) for the first time in a dog's year.  Had a great meal of dayboat scallops over spinach and beet risotto.  It was awesome.

Sunday:  6
Grass run at Ninigret Park.

Weekly mileage:  34

Weekly synopsis:  Mileage lapse in the wrong direction.  Busy times between Matthew's away meets, car issues and searches all over kingdom come, and getting ready for Mark's 4-day RI visit next week.  Although it's always easy to find excuses, right?


Monday, May 7, 2018

Weekly Log 30-Apr to 6-May-2018

On a whim, I entered the lottery for next year's London.
Unlikely that I'll even get in.  If I do, I'll have to assess at that time.
Certainly one of my favorite cities to visit, let alone run in.

Monday:  0

Tuesday:  8
Fun road run.   "Fun" and "road run" can sometimes by an oxymoron to me, but I really do enjoy running the quiet country roads in Richmond and Hopkinton, as I did today.  Even dragged Tommy out here once for a change of scenery.  Fast (for me) average pace of 6:40, with one downhill mile of 5:57 thrown in towards the end.

Wednesday:  6
Lunchtime run in Woody Hill.  First 70 degree day of the year, and I paid for it.  Ran shirtless, which felt really good, but I feel like even in the woods I got a little sunburned.  The trails were fun, and especially a relatively new MTB called "Leaning Chimney".  I was thinking that I already knew where all the original foundations were in Woody Hill from the pre-1936 US Government purchase, but this will be really fun to see and go by a "new" chimney.  Looked the whole way, and was disappointed never to see the chimney.  Googled it later and it turns out it's a beer reference.  Darn, I was excited to find some more history.  (On the plus side, "Leaning Chimney" is my kind of trail:  twisty, climbs, relatively long, and mostly uninterrupted by trail intersections.)

Thursday: 6
Early for me run at 6:20am.  (Mid-morning for JV)  Road run from the house, through River Bend, up by the hospital and back roads through to Rotary Park.  In Rotary Park, saw a large deer that didn't quite know what to make of me.  (Most people don't know what to make of me, let alone animals.)

Friday:  5
Ran a lackluster neighborhood road run in the evening, but my heart was just not into it.

Tough day today.  Spent most of the day at services for Steve Bousquet, who passed away suddenly and much too early at age 68.  While my association with Steve is through my friend Tommy 5K, over the years Steve and Mary have become extended family friends of ours, as well as vocal supporters cheering us on at many running events.  The last time I saw Steve alive was a few weeks ago at the Clamdigger.  He came up to me before the start of the race and told me that he had scouted out the competition and was pretty sure I would win today, and offered me good luck.  I thanked him, but told him I didn't think it would happen.  Steve was right; I was wrong.  I came from behind in the 2nd half of the 5K and won.  That is just such a great personal memory for me of the kind and supportive man that Steve was.  I was honored to serve as a pallbearer for Steve, but will miss his smile, warmth, and gentle teasing.
Rest in peace, Steve.

Saturday:  7
Ran trails in Big River with WTAC teammate Jonathan Short, who fortunately was also my guide.  Ran for only the 2nd time ever in the SW section of Big River, and would have been completely lost on my own.  Ran just about all single-track, excepting a few connecting sections on dirt roads.

Sunday:   7
Nice run of the Groton Cross-Town Trail with Matthew.  About 1 mile of roads to start, and then pretty much all single track.

Weekly mileage:  40 

Weekly synopsis:  40 is probably laughable to Jonny and some of the others at the top of the WTAC leaderboard, but for me, this was the first 40-mile week since February.  Trending in the right direction.  To keep my motivation and mileage going, started looking into and registering for a few run races.  Updated my race schedule, and will continue to evaluate and look for other fun races.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Weekly Log 23-Apr to 29-Apr-2018: RI State Police 5K

Monday:  0

Tuesday:  5
Wahaneeta run into Woody Hill.  Trails in great shape.  Started my run just as Sheilia was starting hers with her three dogs.  One of them wanted to run with me.

Post-run, for the first time in a long time, I went to volunteer with the WLT CCC (Westerly Land Trust - Coffee & Clearing Club).  Just a great group of guys.  Worked on their newest property, Barlow Preserve, on Route 91.  It includes a house, several outbuildings, fields, and a swamp.  The owner passed away recently and left the 80-acre property to WLT.

Barlow Preserve: This property has fields, farmlands, woods, and swamp.

Wednesday:  6
Wilson Mountain Reservation, Dedham, MA.  Rainy and 50 degrees.  Last time I was here I had to stop my run twice due to irresponsible dog owners with unleashed dogs growling at me.  I was hoping the rain would keep those types away.  Fortunately, today, there were only two unleashed dogs, and as they were both labs, I knew all was good.
Ran 3 x "the mountain", pushing the uphills and jogging the rest.  Panting like a dog by the 3rd lap.  Need to work on my endurance.

Thursday:  5
Legs a bit tight this morning after yesterday's workout.  Kept it on flat, local roads.  Highlight of the run was a brazen coyote in Avondale, who only at the last minute stepped aside to let me run past.  Just stood on a neighboring lawn on the side of the road and stared at me.
 Continuing my wildlife encounter day,
saw this duo when walking through Wilcox Park on a coffee break.

Friday:  6
Bradford Preserve AM run, including Woody trails around the pond.
Moved into my new office today.  With views of Main Street and non-descript buildings looking
just over the state line into CT, not the most attractive in the world,
but it's functional, private, and with plenty of natural light.
The view from my desk at Fidelity in Boston.
Will probably never have a view like this again.
Just need to remind myself of the frequent 2am and
Christmas Day calls that came with that job.
Saturday:  4
Short and muddy shake-out in the Barn before heading up to Providence to watch Matthew in the Classical Classic.  Fun to watch him hit a PR in the 1500 (4:05) and an outdoor PR in the 3K (8:53).

Sunday:  8
RI State Police 5K.  Narragansett, RI

Rainy morning, but temps around 50.  Warmed up on the nearby Canonchet Trail on South County Museum grounds.  The trail was wet and muddy, with slippery bridges.  During the warm-up, I was imagining how much fun it would be if the race were on these trails instead, and how much mud carnage there would be.

Changed into dry socks and shoes, and toed the line next to Chris, with about five minutes to spare.  With the shotgun start, I conservatively followed Chris out and obviously the gap grew from there.  While I could see runners the entire race, pretty much my position was fixed after about 1/4 mile in.

A mile in, turning onto Boone Street, this would be the last time I saw Chris until the finish.  The good thing with 5Ks is that they are over very quickly, and the time just went by.  With 1/2 mile to go on Ocean Avenue, I passed the only person all race and easily went by someone in a yellow Boston Marathon shirt.  I narrowed the gap on the next set of runners, but couldn't catch them.

Very even splits of 6:00, 6:11, and 5:56, for an unflattering time of 18:46.  Much better than my Clamdigger 5K time of 19:12, but at least then I had wind as an excuse.  I don't remember being totally out of gas at today's finish, so my guess is I didn't push it hard enough.  13th overall; 1st in age group.  Full results here.
Shouldn't I cross the finish line and timing first,
then slow down and play with my watch?

Post race caught up with teammates Chris, Steve, Denise, and Way.  Shivered in the steady rain waiting for awards.  When I got back to my car, the rain was ending, and on the ride home, the sun came out.  Of course it did!
Team WTAC for the open team win!

Weekly mileage:  35

Weekly synopsis:  Mileage still low, but on the plus side I did run 6 days this week. 

Weekly highlight:  State Police 5K, including catching up with WTAC teammates.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Weekly Log 16-Apr to 22-Apr-2018: New BP Bridge

Monday:  0
Usual day off.

Tuesday:  0
Bradford Preserve bridge work, day 1.  Assisted on Matthew's bridge building project.  Hard work carrying in 6" x 6" x 8' pressure treated timbers to work site.  Those were not nearly as heavy or difficult freeing rotted creosote railroad ties that we dismantled from the old bridge structure.  The new lumber averaged 96 pounds per timber, whereas railroad ties on average weight 160 to 200 pounds each.  Ouch!
The old bridge:  rotted and crumbling.

Prying out and lifting soggy heavy railroad ties
was back-breaking work.

End of Day 1

Wednesday:  0
Bridge work, day 2.  Much easier today.  Most of the work was in dredging silt and muck out of the stream bed, before building the new bridge with sledge-hammering spikes into the new timber.
Mentor Bentley overseeing the work

Dredging the riverbed of accumulated muck
and silt before building the new bridge.

The new bridge is built!
Solid and sturdy.

Thursday:  5
Bradford Preserve, run this time.  Light rain.  Ran the 8K course.  Upper body very sore from hefting heavy timbers, swinging sledgehammer repeatedly, etc.  Was surprised and a little disappointed to see that some of our Pumpkin 8K connector trail had been re-routed and raked, but it turned out to be a case of misunderstanding.  We'll restore it to the old format so we have a measured 8K.

Friday:  1
Bradford Preserve.  Started running BP trails, couldn't make up my mind what I wanted to run, was already late for work, and just ended up quitting.  Failure.

Saturday:  13
B-game solo loop trail run.  Similar to last Saturday, although mixed it up slightly by starting near North Camp, adding Lenny Lane, the campground ridge trail (where I faced my nemesis where I had crashed badly in last month's Brrr-lingame trail race), and Schoolhouse Pond trail.

Also similar to last Saturday's trail run, I bonked the last two miles.  I don't understand it; I run almost nothing lately for weekly base mileage, then for some strange reason have trouble with double-digit trail runs.  What an idiot.  If I am to gain endurance, I need to build it up.

Sunday:  6
Grills Preserve, Westerly.  First time running the River Loop (yellow) in a long time.  I was happy to see what great shape it was in.

Weekly mileage:  25

Weekly synopsis:  This week the mileage went in the wrong direction.  Hopefully a temporary blip, but this was totally on me.  Can't blame this on injuries or work projects.  Get it together, man.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Clamdigger 2018

Westerly, RI
Sunday, April 15, 2018

The 37th annual edition of Clamdigger would not be a warm one.  Just the previous day we hit a high for the year of 61 degrees, whereas today the temps were in the high 30s with high wind.  The first smart decision we made was to hold pre and post registration inside rooms in the town beach pavilion.  Usually registration is held outside on the deck, but with the cold and wind whipping as we're exchanging registration forms and money, that would not have worked well.
So nice to be able to have a facility where we could have
registration indoors today!  I made sure to thank the town officials
again for letting us use the beach pavilion and offices.

The next challenge was a report that our course markers down in Weekapaug were blowing over in the wind.  Unfortunately, the person who set up the markers could not stick around for race time and go on the course as his grandson was waiting for him.  Now what?!  I drove up to the storage to get orange trail markers and place them on the course near our wooden signs in case more blew over.  We were able to shore up the signs against rocks, etc., but in some cases that meant they weren't front and center on the road the way we like them.

Was just finishing setting out flags when I got a call that the Westerly PD wanted to talk to me about some logistics on the race.  Got back to the race start, where I was told we had two cruisers to put where we wanted, so I opted for one to lead the race out, and the second one to park with flashing lights at the 5K/5-Mile split and after the last runner went by, to trail the 5-Mile runners.  Had scarcely time for a short jog in the beach parking lot when I was told it was time to give pre-race remarks.  Kept my remarks brief, having learned over the years that few listen, but emphasized mostly that the 5K/5-Mile split would be just before the bridge where a police cruiser with flashing lights would be parked.  I said it should be simple (but it never is):  where you see the police cruiser, if you're running 5K, turn left; 5-Mile go straight.  Also explained when you finish, turn into the beach parking lot and follow the cones to the finish.  (Post-race, I heard some found it confusing at the 5K/5-Mile split, as well as some not knowing to turn into the beach parking lot where we had cones and flags at the finish, so I give up.)
The start.  In today's cold and windy weather, very few were wearing
shorts and singlets.  In fact, I think WTAC'er Cliff and I were the only ones.

Mile 1:  Lined up, and the race went off.  I'm in the 5K division.  Normally there's a bunch of runners up front that I know, especially from the club, but today that was not to be.  Tommy and Mikey were running Boston tomorrow, Vuono usually runs back-to-back Clamdigger AND Boston, but wasn't here today, Jonny was in Bahamas, Chris away on vacation.  A guy in blue led out, and quickly a guy in all black with the words "Trainer" on the back of his shirt, and a tall teen went by, and the two of them established the lead.  It was tough going into 20mph headwind, but I eventually passed the guy in blue and followed a ways behind Trainer and the teen.  First mile 6:32.  Ugh!  Is this what my increase age and added pounds is doing?

Mile 2:  Shortly after Mile 1, we come on the course split with the police cruiser parked at the intersection.  Both the teen and Trainer turn left on the 5K course, but at the last minute with WTAC Pres Steve yelling, Trainer turns back and continues on the 5-Miler.  Good - it's only the teen ahead of me.  Quickly got to the cone turnaround (I hate these, but couldn't find a better alternative when making the course), and the teen's gap on me is narrowing.  Reaching back to Atlantic Ave for the stretch home, I caught right up to the teen, and passed him around Mile 2.  Is he coming back for me?  6:19.  Better.  A little.

Mile 3:  Concerned that the teen was coming back for me, I pushed it as I could on Atlantic Ave.  I ran in the middle of the road, as there were still a number of runners on their outbound leg coming at me.  That actually helped this go by faster.  The mile went by pretty quickly, both mentally and literally.  5:49 for the 3rd mile split.
Finishing up, with a comfortable lead over the 2nd place finisher
(in blue behind me).

Final results:  19:21.  1st overall.  Full results.

Certainly the first race I've won in several years.  While in some ways I guess I should be excited about that, it's also the slowest 5K road race I've run in many years.  I hope more of that slowness is due to the headwinds and less due to inevitably getting older and slower.  I won't have a better gauge on that until I run more 5Ks this year.  I am glad that this year we didn't have the 18" giant trophy awarded to the winners.

As to the race itself, very happy that we had 198 entrants (158 registrants), especially given the less than optimal weather.  On the downsides, we had issues with this year's chowder (both the quality and not being able to get it hot enough), and we had several people go off course and drag more with them.  Not our best Clamdigger this year for sure, but I'm confident we'll make it better next year.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Weekly Log 9-Apr to 15-Apr-2018

Monday:  0

Tuesday:  5
Grills Preserve at lunch.  Cool and light rain.  Lollipop from Hopkinton side, blue trail on Westerly side.  Had shunned this place for a while when the forestry clearing was going on, but trails are in awesome shape.

Wednesday:  12
Four mini-runs, all on trails and all in different spots:
  1. Adams Farm, Walpole, MA:  3 miles.  Twisty and fun single-track, but stopped when I thought I was running out of time before a work meeting.
  2. Needham Town Forest, Needham, MA:  3 miles.  As I got closer to work (Wellesley), it looks like I just had time to eke out a few more miles.  Trails well marked, but that doesn't stop me for getting totally disoriented every time I run in here.  Took a digger and went down on both knees again, but fortunately this time it was on dirt instead of rock.
  3. Big River Management Area, West Greenwich, RI:  4 miles.  Felt good on Lego out, then had some weird cramps, so just ran New London Turnpike (closed dirt road) back to car.
  4. Wahaneeta Preserve, Westerly, RI:  2 miles.  Legs really creaky by this run.  In some ways, running these mini-runs separately feels harder than running a single 12-miler, as the body rests and has to get going again.
I like these color-coded trail markers.

A lot of rocky single-track at the
Needham Town Forest.

How many trail systems have a miniature
train system in the middle of the woods?!

Thursday:  6
Beach run with Paul.  A mix of business for 1/2 hour, followed by a nice run out to the Old Town Beach.   Checked out the pavilion at Town Beach.  It all looks ready for Sunday's Clamdigger, and just like the Town Rec Director told me, the Water Department had just turned on the water for us.
Ran the beach back as far as Pleasant View Inn before hitting roads back to my house.  Nice mid-day run in warm temps (low 50s).

Friday: 0
Between putting together Clamdigger pre-reg entries for our timing company and a colleague's retirement party, no running for me today.  (See, I always have excuses.)

I asked the retiree what's next for him, and he said travel.  I pushed the envelope further to ask for details, and he said something like, "Well, Jeff, this probably isn't what most people would like, but I have always wanted to go to Iceland."!  I think I drooled over myself as I asked him if I could come along and gave some of the highlights of our 2016 family trip to Iceland.

During his brief retirement speech, the one point that intrigued me was when he said over the years when various people asked what his job was, he always said, "Well, I'm a photographer, but I work at the bank to put food on the table."  Well said!   Here's to Norm's happy retirement, as I start to look down the years towards my own.

Saturday:  12
Burlingame.  Longest run in a month, and I felt it.  CCW from the campground around Watchaug Pond, with detours onto Kimball trails and Sammy C's to get more mileage.  Warm 61 degrees which I haven't acclimated to, but I'll take it the dreary weather we've been having and will be getting more of with rain and temps in the 30s.

Trails were fun and in great shape, but I was really running out of gas and feeling weak in the last two miles.  Attribute this to I just don't have much stamina, and need to build it back up again (by doing runs like this).

For most of this run, I saw no one, but I did have three interesting encounters:
  1. On Sanctuary Road, a young woman was tugging on the leash trying to get her white Boxer to get moving.  The Boxer reminded me of Gus.  Not knowing Gus' personality, I felt like this guy was telling his owner, "I'll let you know when we're going to get going again, lady, but for right now we're staying put.  Capeesh?"
  2. On Vin Gormley trail near the covered bridge, as I passed a couple of mountain bikers on the long section of bog bridges, one of them chuckled as he said, "That's the first time I've been passed by a runner while I'm biking!".  Did wonders for my psyche, but I told him, I'm sure you'll pass me back shortly (they didn't).
  3. On VG just before turning right onto NST and the set of 19 bog-bridges, I heard "Jeff Walker!" and saw fellow trail runner and relatively new WTAC member Peter DiLullo also out for a solo trail run.  Nice to see him!

Sunday:  3
Clamdigger 5K in cold, windy weather.  Write-up to follow.

Weekly mileage:  38

Weekly synopsis:  Mileage is trending in the right direction!

Weekly highlight:  In a weird soft of way, the combination of runs in 4 places on Wednesday.  Another highlight was all of a sudden after a 2-year hiatus, I am able to wirelessly upload from my Fenix 2 to my phone again!

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Weekly Log 2-Apr to 8-Apr-2018: Turning Point

Monday:  5
Awesome day out on the trails:  Snow in April!  Wish I could have stayed out there much longer.  With a rare April snowstorm (we ended up getting 4"), I "had" to get out there while the snow lasted. 
April, eh?
Enjoyed myself in the snow, for probably the last time 'til next winter.
(Top of the green trail in Champlin)

Double-track trail from Shore Road down to the pond.

Tuesday:  0

Wednesday:  6
Drab, rainy day.  Nevertheless, I snuck away at lunch to the Y and went out for a run.  Definite mood lifter.  Only two downsides on this run:
1)  Sucking in car and factory exhaust on lower Canal.  Ugh.  That's a case right there to run trails.
2)  Another runner on Perkins dressed in all black (I was in neon yellow) on a dark day and running on the wrong side of the road giving runners a bad name.  (No, it wasn't Mikey B!)

Thursday:  5
Road run in Richmond.  Loop starting and ending at Arcadia Y.  (Um, yeah, loops typically start and end at the same place - that's what makes them a loop.)  For road runs, I really like running from here.  You start in a busy area in bustling downtown Wyoming, RI, and then can quickly get into very rural and quiet areas.
Picked here for my run because I had an 8:30am meeting at the Arcadia Y.  It was the first committee meeting for the Back Road Ramble.  Much too late to get started for a June race, but it is what it is and part of that had to do with the delay in getting a state permit.  Last year, the Y was told that they got a 1-year exemption only and in future would not be allowed to run the race in June because of bird nesting season.  Fortunately this year the birds were OK with the race and approval has been given for June 3.  Of course, nothing is easy when you try to plan a race this close to race date, and the first six timing companies I contacted are all busy June 3.  I'll keep trying; "Plan B" is to hold the race on June 17 when most timing companies look free, with the downside that it's Father's Day.

Friday:  3
My plans sounded good to run a nice loop from the Mystic Y before meeting a buddy for dinner in Mystic, until they my plans were thwarted by the Mystic Y's locker rooms and showers closed due to construction.  Now what?  If I don't run, I'll be a miserable dinner companion.  Went back to Westerly, changed at their Y before embarking on a less than desirable run as it was 3 miles and downtown, but it was something and I was generally more agreeable to catch up with my high school friend and his awesome latest hikes in Patagonia.

Saturday:  5
Agreeable mix of carriage roads and single-track in the Barn, before heading up to Providence and watching Matthew and his Westerly team compete in the fastest heat in 4 x mile relays.  Very exciting, especially with Matthew anchoring.  He took the baton with about a 200-meter deficit behind the Division II (medium sized-schools) leader from Classical, gradually narrowed the gap, and passed him with about 200 meters to go en route to a 4:36 mile and winning the D-II race for Westerly!

Sunday: 7
Drove to Haley Farm, Groton and then ran a mile of roads to connect with the Groton Cross-Town Trail.  You start right away with a good 1/2 mile climb on the roads.  Man, I am out of shape.  Ran the short "Town's End" loop, before continuing on the Cross Town Trail through the Beebe Pond property.  Trails were great shape and I was able to follow them for the first time ever.  I would like to think it's due to my superior navigational skills, but I'm quite the real reason is that they're much better marked this time around.

Weekly mileage:  32

Weekly synopsis:  I know, 32 miles is nothing to write home about, but I'm thrilled as it's a turning point for me.  The last four weeks were abysmal with my mileage never getting out of the teens, and with my work project over, it's back to more running for me!  To quote a popular song from the 1920s, "Happy days are here again"!