Monday, October 15, 2018

Weekly Log 8-Oct to 14-Oct-2018: Summer-to-Fall Weather, a Rejection, and Fifty-Plus

Monday:  7
Columbus Day.  Run on Burlingame trails Lenny, Vinny, and Sammy with Jonathan and Tommy.  Temps in upper 50s.  Still just slightly humid, but nothing like yesterday.

Tuesday:  11
Late after muggy road run, with just about one mile on trails in Woody Hill / Wahaneeta.  With an average pace just under 7-flat, I felt like I was pushing it just a little.  Yet another run where I was absolutely drenched at the finish.

Today is Leif Erikson Day.  During the run, I pondered why schools still falsely teach that Columbus "discovered" America, when since at least 1960 we have had scientific evidence that Erikson crossed the Atlantic approximately 500 years before any of Columbus's four ocean-crossing journeys.  Based on that alone, Erikson is more worthy of the holiday, before even getting into the fact that unlike Erikson, Columbus never even set foot on the North American continent, nor the historical genocidal baggage that Columbus carries.
Statue of Leif Erikson that Matthew and I
visited on a run in 2016 in Leif's native Iceland
Unfortunately, received this rather expected e-mail of bad news today.  The odds are just stacked against one entering the London Marathon lottery, and unfortunately, while my times qualify, those are only valid for UK citizens.  The US tour operator (Marathon Tours) is sold out for London 2019, and even if they weren't, the package you have to buy from them runs 3-4 grand, exclusive of airfare.
Now I need to think about which marathon to run in the spring.  I don't want 2019 to be a repeat of a marathon-less year.

Wednesday:  5
Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary (not to be confused with the adjacent Moose Hill Farm trails)
Not the best of trail maps,
but I could follow it and at intersections, cross-reference where I was on the map

Trail names were always well marked.
I would have to stop at intersections and see where I was
on the map I snapped on my phone, but that kept me
from getting lost.

Shot from the "Bluff Trail".  This was one of the best trails
that I ran on.  Some unfortunately were designed poorly
(e.g., straight down a hill, encouraging erosion) and/or overgrown (e.g., "Forest Trail").
I retraced Chris' steps on his May 2018 run here; apparently he was smarter
than me and avoided the Forest Trail.

Another well marked trail intersection.
Loved the Summit Trail.

Scrambling up the Summit Trail.

Firetower at the top of the Summit Trail.
Unfortunately, it was fenced off, so I couldn't
climb it.
Glad I got my run in during the morning.  When I left work in Wellesley, MA at 3pm, the temp was 86 degrees.  Not exactly a typical fall day in October in New England.

Thursday:  6
Weekapaug Sand Trail.  Unseasonably warm temperature of 73 degrees at sunrise, coupled with 100% humidity, led me to drive to the ocean to start my run, so that I could end it with a jump in the ocean.  Ran Sand Trail out to Quonochontaug Breachway.  There were a few fisherman at the start of the Sand Trail, but then absolutely nobody for the final mile plus out to the breachway.  I like it best that way.  Just me and hundreds of birds.  Slower going on the way back as it was near high tide.  Jumped in at Fenway Beach; SO refreshing!

Friday:  5
Afternoon run at Grills Hopkinton.  Had planned to run over to Westerly side and back, but just felt creaky and sluggish, so stayed on the flat sections in Hopkinton.  Never felt good on this one.  Can't win 'em all.
We've had a lot of rain lately.
Not sure if this picture does it justice,
but the banks of the Pawcatuck River (at Grills trailhead)
were quite swollen and flooded.

Saturday:  8
Arcadia Management Area.  46 degrees and slight rain.  What a pleasant change in weather!  My hands were actually cold for the first mile; something I hadn't experienced since early spring.

Different start and trails than I've run on.  Thanks to Jonathan Short for planning this one out.  Ran from an entrance on Escoheag Hill Road, and then there were parts that looked vaguely familiar, including the structure in the "Ledges" area at the top of rocks.  There are actually more marked trails here than I thought.  Paid particular attention at intersection of marked trails, including Escoheag and Breakheart.  Today's run was not only fun, but super helpful from an orientation standpoint.  I think I could almost attempt a loop run in Arcadia myself now.  Also great getting in the hills - just over 1,100' elevation gain.

Sunday:  9
6:15am:  5 miles on the dark trails with Tommy.  42 degrees!  Met up at Kimball Refuge.  I did not want to get out of bed in the dark, cool morning, but was really happy once out there.  Felt great!
7:00am:  4 miles with Paul, making final tweaks to and running the brand new 4-mile "Half Runaround" course for Rhody.  While I'm not a fan of the necessary Sanctuary Road, the rest of the course should be really fun, including the finishing section Paul put in right on the shores of Watchaug Pond.
After the run, I was long, long overdue, for cleaning the gutters
and fixing where the gutter was actually separating from the fascia boards
above the roof soffits.  Years overdue actually.  Jana reminded me
that I've taken care of my mother's gutters a number of years, but not
our own.  Yeah, a little embarrassing.
Obviously I can't rest the top of the ladder on gutters that are coming unattached and
that I'll be working on securing, but if I put the top of the ladder under
the roof soffits, how do I then awkwardly reach over the gutter and work
on it?  Watching other contractors work on our house this summer,
plus a few how-to YouTube videos,
"I" figured it out - a ladder step out stabilizer!
$40 from ACE (above on back of garage) and I'm on my way.
Especially helpful on the upper part of the house, where although I'm
not afraid of heights, leaning off the ladder makes me just a tad more nervous.
This did the trick!

Take a look at the two brackets:
Right:  The original 20-year old cheaper bracket, where the screw over the
years has come completely out and is long gone.  Several of these brackets
were in same decrepit conditions.  That might be why the gutter was separating
from the house!
Left:  The new sturdier bracket, before I drilled it deep into the fascia board.

Put in 7 of these suckers.  I'll have to wait until the next
heavy rain to see if this stops the water rushing off the roof
and between the fascia board and separated gutter,
but I'm already feeling a sense of accomplishment.

Weekly mileage:  53!

Weekly synopsis:  Super happy with this week's running.  Ran all seven days (since Monday was a holiday, hard to pass up), ran in a different place all seven days, and ran MORE THAN 50 MILES!  I know that running 50+ is not a major running accomplishment, but it gave me great confidence as it was the first time I had done so since the first week of June, immediately before my summer-long injury.  Did I mention that I was happy with my running this week?!  :)

Weekly highlight:  I loved that I got out with different running friends several times this week, but if I had to choose a single day of running, it would be the day I ran Moose Hill.  Even though I ran some overgrown trails that I wished I had avoided, it was a brand new experience for me and now I know which trails to avoid and the super fun ones to repeat.  Besides, Moose Hill Wildlife Refuge connects to several other trail systems, so there is plenty of exploring to do!

Weekly lowlight:  Friday at Grills Hopkinton.  Nothing to do with Grills; it was all on me as the body just wasn't feeling it.  Fortunately, it lasted for that day only.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Columbus Day Weekend Double-Header: Pumpkins & Strides

Westerly, RI
Saturday, October 6, 2018

While the Run for the Pumpkins race is now 16 years old, this was the 4th edition of the more popular trail incarnation, and only the 2nd year with an 8K option.  With dwindling numbers in the road version in which we took over administration from the Town of Westerly, in 2014 we put out a survey to participants in recent years and asked for feedback on what we could do to make the race more enticing.  We indeed received a lot of feedback, and in the end incorporated four suggestions:

  1. Move the race from a road race to a trail race.
  2. Adopt an earlier starting time.
  3. Add a free kids' run, with mini-pumpkins to finishers.
  4. Incorporate a fall theme into the event.

For the record, some of the interesting feedback we considered and ultimately did not incorporate included:

  • Award prizes for the best costumes
  • Take out hill and make a flat 2-loop road course
  • Add a mixed male/female relay

While I wish the numbers were larger than they are, I would consider our overall changes a success as the number of runners has roughly doubled since implementing the above changes.  At this point, we now have three trail races as a series (Wahaneeta, Run for the Pumpkins, Li'l Rhody Runaround).  I enjoy and promote every single WTAC event that we have on the annual calendar. All 8 of them!  Having said that, of the three trail races, Run for the Pumpkins is my personal favorite.  It might be that I have the closest connection to this one, from literally building it with a few of my teammates from the ground up with designing and building some fun trails:

  • Hansel & Gretel: single-track through a thick pine forest
  • Upper Field XC:  XC trail mowed through a remote field
  • Pumpkins Connection:  twisty climbing single-track with switchbacks

2018 Race:  Enough waxing over the nostalgia and history of this race.  As eventual 2018 8K winner Mike Galoob remarked to me post-race, this course really combines a series of diverse terrain sections.  It is through those lenses that I present my 2018 8K race recap:
While we can't guarantee this every year,
we had tech shirts for all our pre-registered runners this year!

Field start:
We're off.  I love the XC start.
(Pic courtesy of Jana)
Mike leading the around the field.
(I'm mostly obscured by Thomas in yellow shorts behind Mike)

High school XC course:  After only about 0.3 miles, the course goes into the woods with an immediate 100' climb.  I entered the trails in 8th place, with four WHS XC runners just ahead of me.  Early in the first hill climb, I pass Aaron.  No response.  I followed Colby up the hill, where at the top of the hill, Jeff Vuono was course marshal directing 5K runners out into Woody Hill and 8K runners onto the XC loop first.  (There were no 5K runners ahead of me.  At the risk of over-generalization, for whatever reason, it does seem in most races that the fastest runners choose the longer course.)  When the course leveled off, I passed Colby to move into 6th place, with Thomas not far ahead of me, and Tanner a ways beyond that.  (I never saw the front-runners Galoob, Muddy, and FiveK).

On the gradual climb up to the upper field, I caught up to Thomas and plotted my next move.  Upon entering the field and a very slight downhill, I went past him.  Even with the open field, I couldn't see Tanner anymore, but I did gazelle downhill through the woods and caught up with him then.
The upper field XC trail on race day
(Copied from Kellie Armstrong's Strava post)
Matthew's Bridge:  This was his Westerly High School senior project; we crossed this
just before the end of the HS XC loop.
(Copied from Kellie Armstrong's Strava post)

Pumpkins Connector:  At the end of the high school loop, we start the trickier twistier of the climbs:  the Pumpkins Connector trail.  At the start of that climb, I was planning my next move to pass Tanner on this trail, and also unfortunately found out from spectators calling the names of Thomas and Colby that I hadn't really shaken either one, as they were right behind me.  This is the twistiest section of the race, and I never got the opportunity to pass here.  I heard afterwards that runners were cursing my name going up this section (great, love it!), and eventual race winner Mike Galoob told me he would be adding a 2-mile twisty section to one of his trail races as revenge for me!
"Tepee" and graves I set up the night before-
spectator area just before start of Pumpkins
Connector climb

Woody:  After finishing Pumpkins Connector, we're done climbing and go into Woody Hill Management Area.  After a very short section on a gravel road (the original Woody Hill Road before the US government bought it up in 1936 and the state closed the road in the 50s), we turn left for a long straight 1/2 mile trail section.  I figured Tanner would open up a big gap on me here, but instead I passed him and continued solo.
Ghost along the straight trail in Woody Hill:
you can see how straight-as-an-arrow
this trail is

Hansel & Gretel:  Twisting 0.6 miles through a pine forest.  We (actually, Muddy Puddin') gave the trail this name because at least when I first made this trail, the analogy was you needed bread crumbs to find your way back out.  A certain high school biking group wanted to use leaf-blowers to blow this trail clear to dirt, at which I expressed outrage, and fortunately it didn't happen and remains a nice bed of pine needles to run on.  I got in a groove on this trail, and looking back on the Strava fly-by, it looks like I actually closed the gap a bit on Tommy and Muddy ahead of me, so I wish I had seen them and tried to take advantage of that.
Setting up ghosts in the dark the night before,
these three guys were twisted together and inseparable,
so I just hung the trio together on Hansel & Gretel

Gravestone at the end of Hansel & Gretel Trail

"The rock" on Hansel & Gretel-
not that it's that big of a rock,
but certainly doesn't do it justice with a night shot!

Downhill finish:  After you exit Hansel & Gretel, there is just over a mile to go and just about all downhill.  As I got closer to returning to the lower field, I picked up the pace just a bit, especially as I didn't know where the three high schoolers behind me were, and if they caught up to me on the field, I would be done for.  Near sprinted across the field, and it was only after finishing that I learned the three high schoolers that had been near me said they were pretty much done after the Pumpkins Connector climb and were all more than a minute behind me.
Sprinting to the finish

Final results:  34:15, 4th overall, 1st in age group.  Full results here.

Post-race I was thrilled to hear Colburn come up during awards ceremony just to tell me and the crowd that he wanted to express that he felt that the course was exceptionally well marked, and that for pretty much the entire course he could see either a flag, a ghost, a mile-marker pumpkin, a grave, or a combination.  We don't always get it right, but we had over 25 signs on the course today and over 700 flags, so it's good to hear when your efforts pay off.  Thanks to all the club volunteers that made this race possible!

Waterford, CT
Sunday, October 7, 2018

A bit of impromptu entry, as Jana signed up the two of us just a few days before.  I've run this before, and it's a mostly flat and pretty fast road course, with a downhill finish.  I ran my 3rd fastest 5K ever here in 2015 in a 17:35, before lowering my PR ever so slightly the following month at Avondale 5K to a 17:32.  Obviously, I wouldn't be coming close to either of those times today, but after a disappointing 5K post-injury debut at Schonning in late August of 19:57, followed by Ocean State XC 5K in September in a decent time of 19:06, I was really hoping to break 19.

After a short solo warm-up, I lined up on the starting line (that's a good place to line up, right?) next to fellow WTAC member Brandy LeClair.  There was just one other fast-looking runner on the line, a 19-year old in short shorts and a singlet, and at the gun, he took off like he had been shot out of the gun.  He turned out to be legit, and after the first couple of turns, I never saw him again.  Brandy went out in 2nd, I followed behind her, and that's how the race stayed the whole way.  I went through the mile in about 5:50, and slowed from there.  The course is an OAB, and while I don't like turnarounds, this course does it really smartly with a small loop turnaround in a park setting.  Way better than a cone turnaround.

On the way back, my legs were screaming at me, likely due to still being quite sore from yesterday's Run for the Pumpkins 8K and all the setup and cleanup work.  Having runners come back at me was not only helpful to see that the 4th place runner was quite a bit behind me, but also hearing some encouragement and seeing other runners helped take my mind off the task at hand.  At one point, a runner coming towards me went across to my side of the street just to give me congrats and a high-five.  I'm not usually a high-fiver or hand-slapper while racing, but given his efforts, how could I refuse?  After the 5K'ers went by, I got to see the 10K runners coming towards me so that kept my mind busy as well.  I barely kept Brandy in my sight the whole way, and before you know it, we were re-entering Harkness Memorial Park, the site of the race start and finish.  18:43:  I did it!

Cooled down with Brandy, where I learned she not only just had a 40-second PR (18:12), but also is running NYC marathon in a few weeks!   Got to see fellow club runners Denise and Jana finishing up their races, and then hung around for awards as it started to rain.

Final results:  18:43, 3rd overall, 1st in age group.  Full results here.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Weekly Post 1-Oct to 7-Oct-2018: Into October We Go

Turning the page into October.  How did that happen?  Fall is my favorite season for running, but from here, it all flies by so fast and all of a sudden the holidays are over and it's January and I'm depressed.

Monday:  0 run, 2 walk, 0.5 swim
AM:  Core workout and rehab exercises.

Noon:  Mowed the upper field in advance of busy XC races this week, cleared some of the periphery growth on the sides of the trail going up and down the XC course.
There was a suggestion to use RoundUp to
avoid the need to mow and drag a mower a mile
away to the upper field, but there is something
neat about running on the grass in the upper field.

PM:  Swam after work in Watchaug Pond.  Absolutely nobody there.  Nobody.  Got to the pond in my work clothes and realized I hadn't brought swim shorts.  Drat.  Now what; do I have to abandon?  Nah.  I just put on my wetsuit over my birthday suit.  Actually more comfortable that way.  Amazing how fast the pond is cooling off.  All the boats are out, but the buoy I swim to exactly 1/4 mile is still there, so out and back for a 1/2 mile.

Tuesday:  11
Final WHS XC home meet of the season.  Funny moment was when I was driving onto the field to bring the setup equipment to the trailhead, a Westerly PD cruiser pulled off Route 91 and into the parking lot to check out my suspicious character.  When I showed him I had the keys to the gates and cross-country equipment to set up, he was fine and started to ask me about the trails back there.

Besides marking the course with my partner in crime Jeff Huckle, and breaking down the course as usual, I arrived early to do a little snipping on the Pumpkins 8K Connector trail.  When I was asked if I could lead the Tollgate team to see the course as a warm-up, I was thrilled.  The runners at the front of the team asked if I'd be walking or running.  Um, yeah, running, hope that's OK.  It turns out that was their preference anyway.  All good; but man was I beat.

Wednesday:  8
Big River, West Greenwich.  Started off at my usual spot:  the gate at Division Road at Exit 7 off I-95.  If it weren't for Mike Galoob hosting the Big River Half Marathon for several years, I probably would never have ventured here.  It's a fun spot mostly enjoyed by mountain bikers, but to me it's also a labyrinth of mazes just asking for me to get lost in its lair.  I was having fun running the now-familiar-to-me Lego trail, crossing over to the east of New London Turnpike, thinking I knew where I was, until all of sudden I was completely lost somewhere near Tarbox Pond.  Like Hercules trying to escape the labyrinth on Crete after slaying the minotaur, it seemed a likely outcome that I would not make it out.  This was compounded when I came back to the same place three times in a row!
I'm not afraid of getting my feet wet, but what
lurks in this primordial slime?
Yeah, maybe we can look for another trail.

WTAC'er and local BR resident Cliff calls this one the "Spongy Bridge"

Pretty sure I can make it back here now.
Of course it was obligatory to go up and
over this, but it was a tad slippery today

I was never a big Black Sabbath fan,
but if I were, don't think I'd sacrifice
a tour shirt from their final tour to
a god of the trees.

Thursday:  0
Nada.  Spent my early morning getting Pumpkins pre-registration list generated to SNERRO and compiling a final volunteer list.  The rest of the day did not give me a window to get out and play.

Friday:  3
Marking Hansel & Gretel trail into the dark.  Complete solitude.  Enjoyable.

Saturday:  12
Run for the Pumpkins! Separate write-up to follow.

Sunday:  11
AM:  6.  Strides 5K.  Separate write-up to follow, together with Pumpkins.
PM:  5.  Rhody "Half Runaround" planning with Paul Gray.  I think we have it pretty much down pat, and Paul added an interesting beach tour at the very end to get 4 miles.  Except for the OAB on Sanctuary Road, I'd really like to run this course.  We're planning to run it start to finish next Sunday, and use that route on GPS to put together and publish a course map.

Weekly mileage:  44

Weekly synopsis:  Another week in the 40s for mileage.  Very happy with that.  No issues at all.  Time to take it up a notch.

Weekly highlight:  Run for the Pumpkins trail race.  Hands down.

Weekly lowlight:  Getting lost (yet again) in Big River.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Weekly Log 24-Sep to 30-Sep: An Upbeat End to a Disastrous Q3

Monday:  0
AM core workout and injury rehab.

Tuesday:  5
Pouring rain.  62 degrees at lunchtime.  Haven't run in heavy rain in quite a while; unless the temperature is below 50, I actually really enjoy it.  Went to Burlingame State Park to get in a secluded run and be able to jump in the water post-run.  Ran in a non-hunting section so just ran shirtless without orange.  Never saw a soul.  Also used the opportunity to try another approach of getting a 4-mile route for the new "half Runaround" course we'll have this year at Rhody.

Really wanted to go for a post-run swim in the pouring rain, but due to pending work meetings, had to cut it short and settled for a short dip to rinse off the mud and wash off my clothes and shoes.

Wednesday:  11
AM:  6 miles.  Track workout.  Needham, MA.  73 degrees and super humid.  Wore a shirt to exit and return to the Y, as I think they require it, but otherwise hung my shirt on the track fence as soon as I got there; apologies for any of the other track runners I may have offended.  Was sweating so much it was just literally running down my arms and dripping off my hands as I ran.  Gross.  Ran 1 x mile (5:47 against target 5:40), 2 x 800 (2:50, 2:54 - target 2:50), 2 x 400 (84, 78 - target 73), so all good, especially given the humidity.  Was as much a battle mentally as physically to get this one in.

PM:  5 miles.  On way home via I-395, randomly and last minute decided to stop and check out Hopeville Pond State Park.  When I saw a beach parking lot was also the start of the Nehantic Trail, it made it easy for me to decide to run and then jump in the pond to cool off.  Since I hadn't planned this, all I had were my wet socks, wet road shoes, and wet shorts from this morning.  Dealt the socks and shoes, but just couldn't bring myself to put the gross shorts on.  Had a dry, clean pair of swim jammers, so I just ran in those!  It's not like I saw anyone on the trails or in the water anyway.  Trails were fun until I got into heavy rain and I was slipping around in my road shoes, so I turned around.  The water at Hopeville Pond was cool, but not cold; just very refreshing.

Thursday:  5
Was envisioning an 8-mile run in my mind, but as soon as the legs started moving, they were just very stiff so five be it.  Easy recovery run at 8-minute pace, from the house on local roads.

Friday:  0

Saturday:  7
DuVal run with Jonathan Short.  Trails were very well drained and dry, considering all the rain we've had this past week.  The great thing about running with someone else is the time just flies by.  He started off talking about a documentary movie he went to see last night about Joan Jett (remember her?), which then morphed into other classic rock stars we've haven't heard much about lately or are no longer with us, to somehow a discussion about coyotes, red foxes, and Redd Foxx.

Sunday:  13
Slept in, after watching Darkest Hour late into the night.  On a side note, I feel like woefully ignorant of much of British history, and am just starting to put a few more pieces of the puzzle together.  Besides the UK being the ancestral home of the Walkers (although back then Scotland was an independent country), no matter your heritage there really is an amazing history of Great Britain over the millennia.  But I digress ...

For once, went to bed without an alarm.  What a relaxing feeling.  The downside is I slept until 7:45am, so once I got up, I was determined to get out right away from the house.  Ran out Misquamicut and Ocean View Highway to Watch Hill, where I ran into Jeff Vuono running an 18-miler two weeks out from Hartford.  As it's always easier to run with someone else, I jumped onto his running, told him to set the pace he wanted, and ran with him for the next 7 miles, before parting ways as I turned off Watch Hill Road into Happy Valley.  Best road run I've had in a while.

In the afternoon, Jana and I
got out there and re-blazed the XC course
(which is also the first part of Pumpkins 8K).
Pumpkin Patch Orange!

Weekly mileage:  42

Weekly synopsis:  No pain now in the last four weeks!  As demonstrated in the chart below, I am taking a slow and measured approach to ramping up the mileage.

After shutting it down in late June and early July,
I'm slowly ramping it up.  Hopefully the injury is completely in my rear-view mirror now.

Weekly highlight:  Sunday long run with JV.  Sometimes the best runs are the unplanned ones!

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Ocean State XC 2018

Goddard State Park
Warwick, RI
Saturday, September 22, 2018

This was my 2nd time running this race, both times with Tommy 5K.  In 2016, Mikey had joined in, but unfortunately he is on the disabled list of late.  With Matthew on a rare weekend home from UNH, we drove up together as we'd be spending much of the day there.  Met up with Tom for a warmup, and it was time to go.

A small field of about 50 runners toed the line, and we all got a front row position as we could spread out on the starting line.
Toeing the line with Tommy.
(Pic courtesy of Jana)
At the start:  this is the closest I would be to Tom all race.
Note Eric Winn (9:00 in picture) running barefoot.
About 1/2 mile in.
(Pic courtesy of Shara)
Most of the first mile is on grass and double-track gravel, and you duck into the woods on a manicured trail just before the end of the mile.  Someone called out "5:49" as I went by the mile.  My watch showed 6:08 for the first mile, but looking on Strava, I think the 5:49 was more accurate, as Mile 1 on my GPS was much further past the Mile 1 marker on a certified course.

While my actual Mile 1 time really means little, it just helps gives a little credence in my head why after Mile 1, I was just dead for the rest of the race.  (i.e., my first mile was probably a little too fast in retrospect, still recovering and rebuilding)
About a mile in.
(Pic courtesy of Jana)
(Pic courtesy of Shara)
For the rest of the race, it was a battle just to keep pushing it.  On the way back on the trails, I was annoyed at how many high school runners were running or walking on the course, but not nearly as annoyed at the next situation:

The Collision:  Just after two miles and before you head downhill towards the water, I saw a coach ahead of me crossing the trail I was running on, but yet seemingly oblivious that a race was going on!  OK, I can sort of deal with him as he's just one person in the middle of the course, and dodged him to his left and went past.  HOWEVER, he's leading his whole squad of high school girls walking across the course!  I cannot dodge the wall of girls now blocking the entire course.  They're chatting and looking at their phones, but not at me.  Since I've just climbed a hill and am breathing like a dinosaur racing towards them, I cannot muster up "Excuse me, could you please give me some room" or what I'm really thinking, "GET THE $#@% OFF THE COURSE!".

I crash into one girl, who looks at me like "How could I possibly do this?".  This wakes up the rest of her tuned out team, but it's just much too late now as there are about twenty of them blocking the course.  I hit a second girl and the impact is not as much as the first girl, as they're aware of me now and trying futilely to get out of my way.  The third girl that I hit is more of a graze off of her shoulder.  This has definitely affected my race, both in terms on the time I've lost slowing, dodging, crashing, picking up again, etc., as well as I am just fuming mad now about them, but more about their male coach leading them right onto and blocking the course.  Argh.

Final turn, heading to the long finishing chute.
Increasing the stride and pace, final approach.
(Pic courtesy of Shara)
I try to finish as strong as I can, but it's a combination of feeling dead and angry as I make it to the finish line.  On a positive note, I thought I saw the clock ticking away 19:5x, and was bummed not to break 20-minutes, until I saw the seconds go to zero and the clock is still showing "19:xx" and not "20:xx".  Great, it obviously must have been "18:5x" that I was seeing with my poor distance vision.

I had no idea they were there, but looking at this pic now,
I am surprised and grateful to see the support the Westerly High School is
giving me as I finish up.

Final results:  19:06, 9th overall, average 6:09 pace.  Full results here.

My time two years ago here was 18:33, so 33 seconds off as I'm recovering and building from my injury is pretty decent in my books.  I cooled down with Tom and Shara for a bit, but 6 full miles with Matthew.  I had fun watching the Westerly High School teams compete next, and when Colby asked me if I would be staying to watch his race, I was tickled pink and happy to tell him "of course!".
Plaque for my efforts.
I never expect anything for awards, and
certainly don't want to look a gift horse in the mouth,
but not sure what to do with plaques.

The highlight of the day for me was watching Katelyn Tuohy of NY break not only the course record there, but take down the all-time national high school women's XC 5K, right here in RI!  16:06!  She would’ve beaten every man out there except the top guy if she had run in the men's race, and she had the fastest first mile time of anyone at 4:56.  Amazing to watch her fly.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Weekly Post 17-Sep to 23-Sep-2018

Monday:  0 run, 1.2 swim
AM:  Mondays are typically my run day off, but as you may have "heard" (read) me espouse in recent blog posts, I am going to try to keep up cross training.  Went to Watchaug Pond with the intent of getting 1/2+ mile in, but the pond was totally ensconced in a blanket of fog.  There was absolutely nothing to sight as a marker, so I figured I would just swim close to shore.  But when I could no longer see the shoreline, I wasn't very comfortable.  The last straw was when I heard the motor of a nearby boat but could not see it.  He was going slowly (probably because he couldn't see either), which meant since I can't see him, he can't see me either.

PM:  Not wanting to be cheated out of a swim, I went back late afternoon to a beautiful sunny day with several youngsters frolicking in the water at the beach.  Felt really good swimming and after my standard 1/4 mile swim out to the buoy westbound, I made a wider return out past Camp Watchaug and back.  I got back to the beach at 0.89 miles on my watch, so just like the geek I am with running, I "had" to continue a short OAB to get to a full mile.
Sometimes you see European plates on the front of a vehicle driving around
here and then the true US state plate on the rear.
But when I saw this camper parked at Burlingame picnic area with foreign
plates on both front and rear of vehicle, plus parties speaking a foreign
language, I knew this was the real deal.
Of course, the "E" on the left with the European Union circle of stars above it
designates this license plate as from Spain (E short for Espana).  Had a short, but
pleasant conversation with the people getting out of the camper and setting up
charcoal for cooking.  They confirmed they were from Spain, and had
brought their vehicle over for an extended US driving and camping adventure.  Very cool!

Tuesday:  5
Was supposed to be heavy rain this afternoon, which is fun for me to run in.  (Not in January, mind you, but a 73 degree late summer day, bring it on.)  Parked in Watch Hill.  Despite a "Flash Flood" alert on my phone, it was barely raining and slowing down at that.  Ran local roads and called it a day.

Wednesday:  11
AM:  5 miles.  Workout on Pound Road.  Not sure what exactly possessed me to run on Pound Road.  Was headed to Bradford Preserve with an idea of a grass workout, and on the way realized with all the dew that it would be a very wet run and probably conducive to a workout.  Anyway, parked at the end of the pavement next to Crandall Family Swamp and ran the following:
2 x 800 (2:59, 3:03), 4 x 400 (96, 88, 96, 88), 4 x 200 (43, 45, 49, 41). 

The warm-up and cool-down were both VERY interesting to me.  Long before I moved to Westerly, Pound Road used to be a through road, but it was blocked off in 1991 by irate residents who believed the town was harassing them by trying to collect overdue taxes.
Pound Road, Westerly.  Area in red circle closed off in 1991, and subsequently overgrown.

Fascinating article I found with some online research:
New London Day, July 28, 1991

While I never knew the woman, she was purported to frequently wield
a shotgun when any visitors approached.
Fast forward 27 years to the the present:
With Arlene Crandall long dead and her husband Irving having passed away
3 years ago, the Narragansett Indian Tribe is really improving the property,
including opening back up Pound Road as a trail (cleared trail on
left of pic leading to Westerly Land Trust viewing platform),
and establishing the Crandall "Minacommuck" Farm on the old homestead,
including greenhouses with a Narragansett Food Sovereignty Initiative.  Fascinating.
PM:  6 miles.  WHS XC meet #2.  Setup, course marking, and break-down.

Thursday:  0

Friday:  5 run, 3 walk
Ran from Burlingame picnic area through Kimball and NST over bog bridges, back on VG.  Trying to get a feel for what might make a good 4-mile "half runaround" race that the club will introduce this November in order to try to broaden the appeal of Li'l Rhody.  Dip in the pond post-run.

From there, volunteered at a company "Care Day" to clean up Napatree.  There are many volunteer opportunities at the bank, volunteerism is strongly encouraged, and I probably don't do enough it.  It was a beautiful day on the beach cleaning up with colleagues.  The beach was quite clean, but we did pick up and inventory trash, mostly cigarette butts and plastic bags.

Saturday:  10
Ocean State XC.  Write-up to follow.

Sunday:  8
Fun Woody Hill run with Chris, Tommy, and Matthew.  Mostly single-track with a sprinkling of double-track.  Got some decent hills in as well, for 800+ of elevation gain.

Weekly mileage:  39

Weekly synopsis:  Had intended to get over 40, but close enough for government work.  Trying to take a slow and cautious approach to mileage build-up.

Weekly highlight:  The entire running event and day at Ocean State XC, with a close second to the Woody group run.

Weekly lowlight:  Not getting in a long run this week.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Stavros Beach Run 2018

Thursday, September 13, 2018
Westerly, RI

I just had such a fun time.  I know I probably say that after a lot of races that I run, but for all its simplicity of 1.5 miles out, 1.5 miles back, there is something unique and fun about this race on the beach at low tide at end of summer that really makes it one of my annual favorites.

Planning:  As with all of our club races, we start the planning the November of the previous year, in order to get on calendars, start the sanctioning/insurance process, secure our timing company, etc.  In the case of this particular race, it also means looking up tide charts to find the optimal post-Labor Day weekday to hold the race.  With big storm surges today, we couldn't run at the lowest hardest spot on the beach, lest we be running in knee-deep water when the waves came in.  But it all worked out.
The waves were impressive tonight, and took away some of our
low tide runnable area.

Race day:  I got there later than I would have liked (story of my life), but we still had time and ample volunteer help to get set up and ready.  In fact, of all of our club events, this one is the easiest to put on.  No course marking, no bibs, facility includes tables, chairs, and bathrooms comes pre-setup for us, courtesy of the town.  The town has been a fantastic supporter, and we open the beautiful pavilion and restrooms for use.  I kept my pre-race remarks to a bare minimum, and we started the race promptly at 6:00 sharp.

Off we go:  With the uttering of the word "GO!" from Way, we were off.  More than half of tonight's runners were aged 18 and under (57%, actually, but I won't quibble).  I give you that fact as it set the stage for what inevitably happened at the "gun":  despite my start on the front line, a plethora of high school runners just blew by me like I was standing still.  My immediate fears that the rest of the field would soon blow by me and I would finish in the back half were, fortunately, unfounded.  After a mile, I had gradually moved up to 10th place.
Start of the race.  Most are barefoot.

If I'm counting correctly, early in the race with a surge of front runners,
I'm quickly set back to 22nd place (red arrow on right of above pic)

Picking off runners:  I caught up to Tyler as we were getting to Seaside, with the 1/2 way turnaround in sight, and went past him.  He put up a fight, and ended up re-taking me.  I didn't want to use a lot more energy with more than half the race to go, so I let it go.  His resurgence didn't last too long, as just before the turnaround, I caught and passed him again for good.  Saw Steve and Polly at the turnaround, and now had eight WHS runners ahead of me.

I caught John Turo next, but based on Tyler putting up a fight and John coming back to repass me at Bottone Mile last month, I didn't take it for granted.  I ran by myself for a while and slowly edged up on Sebastian.  With about 1/2 mile to go (didn't look at my watch, but I know where the 1/2 mile mark is from swimming here), I was right behind Sebastian, and when a big wave came in pushing him up on the beach to run around it, I took advantage of the fact that he was shod and I was not, and I ran through the ensuing wave in a straight line and passed him.  Something resonated from school about the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.  Six runners ahead of me and closing in slightly on Aaron.  Didn't know if I would be able to take any more runners, as they can all out-kick me.  Came up on Aaron with the town beach (finish) now clearly in sight in front of us, and decided my attempt to pass him would have to be swift and even accelerating.  I did just that and never looked back.  I was gaining also on Sam (5th place) and Colby (4th), but just didn't have enough room to execute.
Just before the finish:
Me (back) closing in on Sam (just ahead of me) and Colby (orange),
but it is not to happen.

Sam's form is breaking down.  I just need a little more runway ...

Still very happy with my finish,
and happy to be out here injury free.

Final results:  18:40, 6th overall.  First non-high-school runner.

Post race was a blur.  I congratulated the people immediately ahead of and behind me, as well as my next adult competitor, new WTAC member Eric Ciocca, who will be sporting his new WTAC singlet at Chicago Marathon next month.  Colby said he felt I was coming after him, which was interesting.  After a jump in the ocean, some brief remarks on the microphone, catching up with runners and the Stavros family, and sampling all the awesome food, it seemed the night was over and it was time to clean up.  Such a fun night.  I just love this event.
A crowd gathers at the finish line (between the green "Start" and "Finish" flags)

Frolicking fun post-race
Jeanne Stavros (lower right) serving up the race's trademark pizza.
(Jeanne is Charlie's sister-in-law; the race is a memorial to WTAC member
Charlie who died in a road race in Westerly in 1993)
Plenty of other food as well

True enough, Eric.  On both counts.

Looking back across the years:  Post-race I got a text from Matthew saying that he had run the race the prior twelve years straight.  Hmmm.  Got me thinking, and I went back and checked my own history on this race.  I had thought the Blessing was the only streak I had going, where I've run Blessing all 16 years since I took up running at age 39.  No, it turns out that I've also run Stavros sixteen years in a row!  Well, I'll be.  (I don't know what I'll be, but I'll be.)   In those 16 years, I've placed second 4 times, and won the race outright once in my 3-mile PR of 17:26.  Here's to the next 16 years straight of running Stavros!