Monday, November 13, 2017

Weekly Log 6-Nov to 12-Nov-2017

Monday:  6
NST from Baker Pines Road, Richmond.  Continuing Jonathan Short's fall segment contest, this is #2 of 5 for me.  Never been here before.  Well enough marked, but I got off course at a blown-down tree blocking the trail.  Fairly technical.


I had a lot of sliding and slipping here on wet rocks.
Much more technical than I had expected.
Tuesday:  13
AM:  5 miles in Cranston.  Working in Cranston for the day, I parked at the Cranston Y and ran a mix of bike path, roads, and cemetery dirt roads, where I visited my father, grandparents, and ancestors.
PM:  8 miles at Beach Pond, Exeter, RI/Voluntown, CT.  Ran segment #3 of 5 and despite getting off course twice, still took the CR.  I suspect it won't last long.

Deep in the woods south of Beach Pond.
Is this where they hid the bodies?

Circumnavigating Beach Pond on Tippecansett Trail.
Wednesday:  5
Afternoon run from Bradford Preserve into Woody.  This is the first week post-DST, and we lost an hour of daylight.  Brought my headlamp, which proved a smart move given that it got very dark halfway into my run.

Thursday:  0
Unplanned day off.

Friday:  9
AM:  5-mile run through Champlin and Mastuxet trails.
PM:  4-mile run in Belfast, Maine, with Matthew.  27 degrees was the afternoon high, and it was very windy.

Saturday:  7
Camden, Maine.  18 degrees!  Chilly, but fun mountain run in Camden Hills, including Mount Battie and Ocean Lookout.  Would like to come back in the summer and spend more time on these trails.
The climb up Mount Battie
from Route 52 was
certainly steep and technical.
The tower atop Mount Battie.
Haven't been up here in a number of
years since we camped at Camden.
It looks redone, or at least refinished.

 

Fun running up the rocks.
The trail signs were very well placed at intersections.
Between the trail signs and a PDF course map I had
pre-loaded on my phone, I felt very comfortable navigating
these trails.
View from atop appropriately named "Ocean Lookout".
Did not tarry long here, as the fingers and toes were getting cold.
Back in Camden village, you can see picturesque
Camden Harbor in the foreground, with the hills I climbed in the background.

Sunday:  5
Spent three hours with Matthew at Urgent Care, as he had ankle issues for a few weeks, but now hobbling.  They suspect a strained ligament, put him on crutches, and referred him to an orthopedic specialist.  Hope it clears up for him before indoor season.

In the afternoon, I headed out for segment #4 of 5:  "Canonchet North", the Narragansett Trail from Canonchet Road to North Road.  If you're familiar with this section, you'll know that this is rather technical.  Came out of it with a bloodied elbow and a raspberry on my derriere from sliding on rocks, but that's the price you pay.  Missed the CR by 34 seconds.

Weekly mileage:  46

Weekly synopsis:  46 isn't bad, but absent any specific goals, it's hard to measure.  It was fun to run 3 of the 5 segments this week.  All were technical for some sections.  I only have one left now, but will probably go back to a few to try to improve.  It's just a fun informal contest, but it has inspired me to get out there, so that's good.

Weekly highlight:  Maine mountain run, by far.  That completes the New England circuit for me, and this was the 2nd consecutive year that I have run in all six New England states.  Running in different locales is just so much fun, and New England is a pretty nice place to be.

Weekly Log: 30-Oct to 5-Nov-2017

November?  Really, it's November already?  I know it's trite to say "Where did the time go?", but it seemed Halloween jumped upon me and now Christmas is next month?   When does time slow down?  When I retire?  Or when I'm too old to enjoy life?

Anyhow, one full week post Bimbler's Bluff I'm recovered now, but am absent any specific goals.  You can see my scant race schedule for the remainder of the year here.  I think what will help next is to plan out a major race for the spring so that I can start to plan for training soon.

Monday:  5
In the aftermath of a strong wind (gusts up to 67mph in Westerly) and rain storm, I ran down to the ocean to witness nature's wrath.  The hum of generators was pervasive throughout Misquamicut, I saw several downed limbs and power lines, and the ocean was churning.

Tuesday:  0
Halloween, one of my favorite holidays, but one that I was poorly prepared for.  Being away much of the month of October, combined with a strong wind storm, I had set up the yard more sparsely than usual.  Helped the Westerly Land Trust in the morning by painting blazes on a new "white" trail at Grills.  In the evening, spent three hours outside in front of a bonfire in my driveway, as I have the past few Halloweens.  Several trick-or-treaters and their parents lingered for a while, and a neighbor brought over beers (Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale) to enjoy over fireside conversations for a while.  It was good catching up with him.

Wednesday:  7
Blue Heron Trail, Dedham, MA.  First time here in a while.

Thursday:  8
Took advantage of a doctor's appointment in Wakefield to run somewhere different.  At first, I thought of running near home, then showering at home, and going to the doctor's.  Boring.  Wrong approach.
Leveraged the reciprocal privileges of the Y and checked in at the South County Y and then ran a mix of roads and the South County Bike Path.  I had not been on the bike path long when I saw two cyclists approaching in the distance, and one said loudly "Who the HELL is that?".  Mike Galoob in the flesh, as he was riding with his daughter to school.  Chatted for a bit before continuing on. 
Ran an average pace of 6:48, with three miles in the 6:30s.  I needed for that confidence, and need to have more mid-week speedy runs.

Friday:  5
Second day of road runs.  Ran from Westerly Town Beach, using the Clamdigger course, except ran on the beach on the way back.  Being 70 degrees on a bizarrely warm November day, I submerged myself in the ocean at the end of my run.

Saturday:  7
Burlingame campground trails and NST with Jonathan Short.  I was doing well for a while trying to follow the campground trails used for the Brrr-lingame race, but then lost the trail for a while.

Sunday:  12
Rhody prep with Tom.  Good run on the Rhody loop, but down to North Camp and up to the Kettle Pond observation tower.  What few blowdowns there were from the storm were already cut up and cleared. 
On the downside, I had forgotten how flat and straight as an arrow the first couple of miles are.  That does not play to my strength at all.  I rather prefer the back half with a few hills, twists, and rock gardens.  Race day minus two weeks.

Weekly mileage:  45

Weekly synopsis:  While not the weekly mileage I'm looking for, it's trending in that direction since Bimbler's and I'm now fully recovered.  This was a good mix this week, with three road runs, a prep for Rhody, and even a November swim in the ocean.

Random musings: 
  • I just learned this week that the song "Jeremy" by grunge band Pearl Jam is really about a despondent teen named Jeremy who blew his brains out in front of his high school English class.  Horrid.
  • While the majority of locals are enjoying this fluctuating "indian summer", I am not.   I find I much prefer a fall day that starts in the low 40s and rises to the upper 50s.
  • I learned that when you live vicariously through someone else's activities, you not only revel in their successes (like when Matthew won the Class B Championships last weekend), but you also hurt when things don't well go for them.  The specific case in point was RI XC State Championships this weekend, where Matthew was one of the favorites, but unfortunately had a bad day and did not place well.  We've all been there with a bad race, but I had a tougher time seeing Matthew in anguish than times when my own races have not gone well.  Most coaches and parents were very supportive and told him he'll bounce back, but when one of his coaching staff said some pretty hurtful words, it stung me as well.  Matthew is self-critical but resilient, is a great runner, and has many great races ahead of him.
 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Bimbler's Bluff 50K!


Guilford, CT
Sunday, October 23, 2017

Background:  I have had an ultra in my sights for the past few years.  Wrote it down formally as a 2017 goal back in January.  It's easy to have a lofty goal; it's executing on it that requires just a tad more work and commitment.  Feeling good with my running over the summer and into the fall, I took the next step of running a "Bimbler's Bite" in late September.  This was a 15-mile group run preview of the toughest part of the course, and while it was tough, it was the confidence I needed to go ahead and register.

Pre-race:  I had spent the evening before re-reading Crutch's and Seth's prior year race reports; both were helpful in painting a picture of the race and potential pitfalls. Given a race start of 8am and an hour ride to Guilford, CT, I left the house in the dark at 6am.  I was a bundle of nerves as I pulled into the parking lot at Guilford Lakes Elementary School, the start and finish of the race.  At the time, it was 53 degrees.  As I walked from my car to registration, I heard my name called out.  Turning, I saw it was Rob Buttermore calling me from his vehicle.  I went over to talk to him and this definitely had a calming effect.  After checking in, I retreated back to the car to decide on final garb (short shorts and a singlet), affix bib, and fill up my CamelBak.  Not wanting to make it too heavy, I opted for 24 ounces of Gatorade, and put 6 GU packets into one of the pockets.  Good to go.  On to the start line, where I spent time catching up with additional familiar faces:  Stan Mickus, Kenny Shardlow, Crutch, Eric Winn, and Molly (a fast NH runner that I had met at the Bimbler's Bite a few weeks back).
With Stan, just before race
start, at national anthem.

The stick - going up:  I suppose I should start out explaining what is meant by the "stick":
Lollipop course:  Starting at the bottom of this pic,
you make your way up the stick (~ 9 miles), before running the
lollipop head CW (~14 miles), and then making your way
back down the stick to the finish (~9 miles).
Each blue pin represents an aid station.

The race started immediately after the national anthem, and we first ran around a small school field to help spread out before entering single-track across the street.  I heeded advice that you want to get out to the single-track fast to avoid being stuck in a jam of runners, but I overdid it going out fast.  Rob went out in 2nd and I hung just behind him for the first half-mile or so, before I pulled ahead of him.  It felt odd and wrong to be in 2nd place, but that didn't last long, and when a runner went past me quickly about a mile in, I somehow felt relieved.
The course was well marked at all intersections ...

... and orange streamers as "confidence markers" were
very much appreciated, especially as no one was near for
the vast majority of the race.
(Note all pics in this post are from Bimbler FB page,
except the three up-close pics of me, which I
purchased from the race photographer.)

At about Mile 3, someone came right up behind me and stayed on my shoulder.  The trail opened up to double-track and eventually my competitor came up next to me for a while.  His name was Chris, from NH, had a similar running experience of going from road marathons gradually into trails, but he had already run a 50-miler and had his sights on a 100-miler.  Chris and I ran and talked for the next few miles until he started to pull away about Mile 7 and I made the decision to let him go and he was quickly out of sight.  Being my first 50K, I really had no idea how to pace.  I knew I could I run faster than this, but took it conservative with fears of crashing later in the race.
Crossing Route 80 about 3 mile in,
with Chris in tow


Lollipop:  I was really happy to reach the base of the lollipop, and start on this section.  I knew it would be the toughest section, but mentally it allowed me to also check off that I was done with the stick upward section.  Once I hit the lollipop, the double-track was done, and twisty, hilly single-track began pretty much immediately.  After meandering up, down, and around rock piles, we cross Route 77 and enter the Mile 10 Bluffs Head aid station.  I'm reminded that I'm in 4th place, and I can hear the cowbells ringing signaling that the 5th place runner is coming in behind me now, so I down a drink, grab a couple of chocolate chip cookies, and saunter off to begin my climb.


Coming into the Mile 10 aid station

Mile 10:  Mix of snack food and drink
Mile 11 is a 400' climb up Bluff's Head with some loose, rocky scree.  I run as long as I comfortably can, but then find myself power-hiking two of the steeper sections.  You spend about three miles running at the top of the bluff, before you start some steep descents.  After descending off the Bluff at about Mile 14 and onto the Lone Pine Trail, I see another runner up ahead.  It's Chris (the guy I ran with miles 3-6) coming back to me!  As I get closer, I hear "Is that Jeff?", and as I go past him, I heard off some words of encouragement.  Shortly after this, I run into a couple of hikers with a map and ask if I can help.  (Obviously they have no idea I'm in the middle of a race.)  I apologized, saying that I was from out of state and didn't know the area.  (I wouldn't have stopped and jeopardized my race anyway, but hopefully my version sounded kinder.)
It's easy to get distracted while running on top of the bluff,
with distant valley views
Next, I head into the aid station "Braeburn" at Mile 16, re-crossing Route 77.  At this aid station, I stop a little longer and take off and hand over my CamelBak to a kind volunteer that refills it for me, while I scarf down some Fig Newtons.  I guestimate that I was stopped for a full 90 seconds, yet I must have put distance on Chris, as I left the aid station before he came in.
A runner leaving the Mile 16 aid station
Leaving the Mile 16 aid station, other than an immediate climb, the next few miles of terrain are much easier.  At exit 18, we exit onto a dirt road for a while.  There are several people out walking, some with leashed dogs, none making any effort to get out of my way, and all who seem oblivious that there is a race going on.  We exit the dirt road for single-track, and a hiker coming my way asks me how to get to "the pond".  I guess I can't blame him if he has no idea I'm in a race (isn't the bib a clue?), but I just remember my patience getting rather thin about now.

At Mile 21, I can see the pond/marsh that we circumnavigate, and from my training run, it reminds me that I'm getting close to the Renee's Way aid station at Mile 22.  There are many home-made signs along the trail as we get close, everything from "You're approaching the best aid station in the world!" to good luck to so and so.  I remember Renee's Way aid station well.  The volunteers were very upbeat and shouted "there's a runner coming!".    One woman offered me soup.  Soup!  Yes, I like soup, but how does one eat soup on the run?  I politely decline, saying the temperature is too hot for me already (it was getting very warm by now).  Another volunteer asked me at least to try one of their famous pickles, which I also declined, saying I didn't want to try anything different mid-race.  I was probably at this aid station for less than 30 seconds, as I grabbed a single cookie, a cup of water, thanked the volunteers and got to keep moving.  I felt really good through here, like I could easily run another 10 miles.  Little did I know ...
Mile 22:  Yes, despite temps in the 70s, there really was soup served.
Appreciative of all the volunteers and offerings, but soup didn't fit for me.

The cheery aid station volunteers and various offerings.

After Renee's Way aid station, it was only another mile back to the end of the lollipop and the return to the top of the "stick".  There was one guy, not in the race, running towards me on the trail, saying I was looking good and in 3rd place.  I had forgotten that this mile was technical and that a number of rock gardens awaited me. 

The stick - return to finish:  I rejoiced as I started my way back down the stick.  It was a net downhill and a "mere" 9 miles to the finish now.  Unfortunately, I was now having a full bladder issue with a "sloshing" feeling in my stomach.  I sucked it up for another couple of miles, but it was getting really uncomfortable, so at about Mile 25, I just stopped on the side of the trail.  If felt so good to pee (is that weird?  is that TMI?), but there was a cost to pay.  After stopping this time, it was just so hard for me to get going.  I felt like the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz; the legs just did not want to move.   For the next few miles, on terrain that I had been running 8-minute pace on the way up, I was now running 10 minute pace.  By Mile 27, I was completely ready to be done.  Why couldn't this "just" be a marathon?  My pace continued to slow, and while I'm proud that other than the steepest sections of Bluff Head climb, I had run everything up until now, I found that on two hills of a mere 50-80' climb, I lacked the energy/motivation to do anything but walk the hills.
There was a lot of creaking and groaning coming from my legs,
but not much forward inertia.

One more problem:  it's very warm by now (thankfully I opted for the singlet!), I'm feeling dehydrated, and my CamelBak is almost dry.  WHERE THE HELL IS THAT AID STATION?!!  At Mile 29, I sense a person coming right up on me.  My slowing and walking had cost me and the wolves are now upon me.  My watch shows 29.7 miles as the final aid station comes into sight.  I stop and see that it's Molly that has caught me.  Wow, is she strong!  (She will later tell me that she felt bad for me at the final aid station, as she said I didn't look good.)  There are only 2 miles left, and I know that I should just continue, but I'm out of water and parched, and I ask the volunteers to fill just 1/4 of my hydration pack and I grab a brownie (yes, a brownie!) and wave Molly on.  She says she'll see me in a few minutes.
Mile 29:  Costumed aid station volunteers.  Thanks for the much needed pack refill!

Fun aid station!

With my pack partially filled with water, I saunter on.  I'm just kind of shuffling my feet along, probably nearly scuffing them on the ground.  Until I trip on a rock and fall.  I get up and get going ... into a ROCK GARDEN!  This was acceptable even as late as mile 23, but NOT at Mile 31!  This is just cruel!  It's a real effort for me to pick my feet up and over the rocks.   I can hear traffic on a road and know we're getting really close.  I can also hear someone behind me now, and although I have next to nothing left, I hobble faster, get across the finish line, and hold off my next pursuer by 17 seconds.  FINISHED!!!  50K in the bag!
A sight for sore eyes!

Final results:  4th overall of 134 finishers on the day (10 would either drop out or be pulled from the course for not making time cutoffs).  1st in age group.  Full results here.

Post-race:  There was a cadre of volunteers at the finish line, but in particular Michelle was like an angel to me.  With only three finishers ahead of me, I got some focused attention (unsolicited but very much appreciated!).  I must not have looked good, as she came right over and took my arm to keep walking as we made a couple laps under the shaded canopy (it was direct sun and about 74 degrees now).  The cold water she served me tasted like nectar of the gods, and the chocolate milk was heavenly and restorative.  I followed that up with a slice of cheese pizza and an apple, before finally taking off my shoes and socks and plopping in a chair that she had set up.  I hung around for about 45 minutes total, alternating between standing, sitting, and lying down.  When I was finally leaving, she picked up all my stuff, even my filthy shoes and socks, and brought them over to my car and put them inside!  She said she was a veteran race volunteer (which I can believe!) and her husband was still out in the race.
A hat and glass for finishing,
and an apple pie for winning my age group!

I said good-bye to my new NH competitors Molly and Chris, who finished two minutes ahead of and behind me, respectively, Rob Buttermore, and Kenny Shardlow who had just finished his 6th Bimblers 50K.  I would have liked to have seen Stan and Crutch come in, but was feeling uncomfortable, and felt good enough to drive now.  A very sore and mildly painful afternoon followed, but I basked in the delight of finishing my first 50K race and placing well on top of it all.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Weekly Log 23-Oct to 29-Oct-2017: Recovery Week

Post Bimblers-Bluff week.

Monday:  4
Wanted to get into WHS XC trails to check out conditions prior to a Westerly - Stonington non-league XC meet.  One small tree down that will need a chainsaw.
Very, very slow running the day after the 50K.

Tuesday:  0
Had originally planned to get in a few miles part of setting up and taking down the course markers.  With the meet cancelled due to impending rain and the legs still sore, opted for a run-free day.

Wednesday:  5
Needham, MA.  Slogged out 5 rainy miles on roads.  Legs have a ways to go to recovery.

Thursday:  0
Give the legs another day.

Friday:  4
Wahaneeta Preserve, late afternoon after work.  I had no sooner gotten started, when crossing my first bridge (near field/pond/dam), I broke right threw one of the bridge boards and went down hard, twisting my ankle in the process.  Ugh!
Just lay there for a while, before I got up and fortunately was able to resume my run.  Fished the broken board parts out of the stream below, and later e-mailed the Westerly Land Trust about the incident and offered to help, but they thanked me for the heads-up and said they'd be out this weekend to repair.
Mid-run I ran into Beth and Gus, which was a much more pleasant encounter than my encounter with the bridge!

Saturday:  7
The most successful leg test yet!  7 miles at Canonchet Preserve with Jonathan and Muddy.  This was my first foray into the property.  Much is blazed, but still not always the easiest to follow.  Some areas fairly technical jumping over rocks and logs, other areas had nice features of boulders, streams, and remains of stone cellars.  Thanks to Jonathan for putting this one together.

Saturday afternoon we spent the afternoon up at Ponagansett (Glocester, RI) watching the 2017 Class B RI High School XC Meet.  For the boys' run, you'd think I was personally running it based on my nervous excitement both before and during the race.  I'll defer to Matthew's write-up for his more in-depth and no doubt more accurate description, but it's a very spectator-friendly course where I saw him go by six times, so I'll chime in briefly with my vicarious running of the course:  After the dust settled, and pretty much for the vast majority of the race from my vantage point, Matthew was in 2nd place, trailing the Classical High School leader by anywhere from 5 to 30 meters.  When we saw him re-emerge from the Covered Bridge Trail onto the fields for the final time, my Mom saw him in the lead before I did, and it was just an ecstatic moment from there on as he increased his lead to the finish.  16:05.  2017 RI Southern Division Champ, and now the 2017 RI Class B Champ as well!  Awesome!  RI State Championships next week, followed by New England Championships.



A great day for Matthew and the Westerly team!
3-minute post race interview with Matthew

Sunday:  6
Finally everything aligned for me to get in a run with Tommy.  It had been a few weeks.  Ran through Woody CCW to mix it up, and had a good time catching up on everything from Haley's swim lessons, Matthew's races, Bimblers, and spring marathon plans.  Pretty much recovered.

Weekly Mileage:  27

Weekly Synopsis:  Lowest mileage week since June 2016.  That's OK, though.  This was a recovery week that took a little longer than I had expected, and with a few ups and downs.  I'm happy to have completed my first 50K trail race, and a recovery week was very much in order.  Now, onwards and upwards.


Thursday, October 26, 2017

Weekly Log 16-Jun to 22-Jun-2017: From Wisconsin to Bimblers

Monday:  10
AM:  6 miles at University of Wisconsin, main campus in Madison.  Beautiful campus.  A mix of paved bike path and dirt trails.
Early morning crew team out at sunrise on Lake Mendota

Nice building architecture at the University of Wisconsin

Trail's end at Picnic Point

Separate trails for runners and cyclists
PM:  4 miles on University of Wisconsin cross-country course, a few miles from downtown.
Manicured, well-signed XC course.  Site of 2018 national collegiate championships.

Tuesday:  6
Back to Rhody after being away five days.  Ran Vinny, Sammy, and Lenny trails at Burlingame.  Pushed Sammy C's hard and took 2nd position on the segment, 20 seconds behind Jonny.  (Editor's note:  that was before Jonny came back to crush his CR further and Muddy jumped in to take 2nd.)

Wednesday:  6
Hale Reservation, Westwood, MA.  Got myself temporarily lost.  Slow and easy ahead of Sunday's epic race.

Thursday:  5
Barn Island mid-day run.  Slow and easy.

Friday:  0
Planned day off tapering into Sunday.

Saturday:  5
Flat, easy run at Ninigret.

Sunday:  32
Completed my first 50K!  Awesome and brutal at the same time.  Write-up coming shortly.

Weekly mileage:  63.  Just edged out Jonny for first on the club mileage leaderboard.

Weekly synopsis:  Thrilled to complete the 50K!  Cross one off the bucket list.

Weekly highlight:  See above!  2nd place to running for the first time ever in Wisconsin,

Monday, October 23, 2017

Weekly Log 9-Oct to 15-Oct-2017: Rambling Travels

Monday:  7
Mid-day Columbus Day Burlingame trail run with Matthew.

Tuesday:  5
Local roads.

Wednesday:  7
Tommy was looking for a morning run, and was amenable to trails, so we went to Burlingame.  I both underestimated how late sunrise is now, plus didn't realize Tommy had never run trails in the dark, so it made for an interesting experience.  All went well, and finally it did get light.

Thursday:  9
Honeymoon Island State Park, Dunedin, FL.  Arrived mid-day on a direct flight from Providence to Tampa for just $39!!  New no-frills airline Frontier made it an easy decision to go down for Mark's Friends & Family Weekend at University of South Florida.
Yikes!

Osprey!

I actually wouldn't visit Mark until Friday, and I had the afternoon free before visiting a high school friend, so I researched someplace different and found this island park to run in.  I avoided direct sun by running wooded trails, but the downside was that any time I stopped for just a second to gauge direction, tiny insects would eat me alive and draw blood.  Ended up running more on the beach where it was hot and sunny, but insect free.
Miles of deserted beach

Home to plenty of birds we don't have in RI

Friday:  5
Lettuce Lake State Park, Tampa.  Interesting mix of paved trails, dirt trails, and wooden boardwalk, the latter despite signs indicating "NO jogging".  I played dumb and was glad I got out there, as I saw a gator just off the boardwalk.  Rain kept the run from getting too hot on yet another day in the upper 80s.
Friday afternoon run site

Fun running on the boardwalk

Check out this guy!


Post-run, went to visit with Mark and embarrass him
(I'm pretty sure he's thinking "I wish my dorky Dad stayed home")
Late afternoon kayak with Mark. Saw many alligators.
Saturday:  15
AM:  6 miles.  A mix of trails and roads near USF, but I underestimated the amount of road section and it left me too little time to explore on the trails.  Interesting flora.
Saturday's trail run.  We don't have this kind of vegetation
back home.

After running, met up with Mark for a morning at the ropes course.  This was part of the Family & Friends Weekend.  Had a fun time on the course, and despite my trepidation on the zipline, for me it was just stepping off the platform and after that I was fine.  I had thought we were going to lunch after that, but he said he had plans with his friends.  I had actually thought to lash out with something like "I paid good money to come down here to visit you", but that would leave the thus-far very good weekend on a sour note, and I totally get that a gregarious 19-year old would rather hang with his friends than his old man, so it's all good.  He did spend the better part of 24 hours with me, and he'll be coming home next month for Thanksgiving.


Isn't this guy a beauty?!  So happy to see him right near the base of the ropes course.
(I'd say this was for Mikey, but don't think he reads blogs anymore.)
Ropes course fun!
Here's Mark, still half-asleep, or
looking kind of glum ...




... and a picture he posted on social media,
later that day with his friends.  The mood looks a little different.
(I think he's missing his old man in this pic.)


PM:  9 miles.  I had one final afternoon to myself in Florida, and I intended to make the most of it.  Drove to Fort Desoto Park, in Tierra Verde just south of St Petersburg, and totally enjoyed myself exploring the island.  Was concerned about the 91 degree temperature, but two rain showers and an ensuing island breeze cooled things down at least a little bit.
Pelicans!

This pic and the next remind me of the one trip I made decades ago to Saipan.


Fort Desoto.  Built to defend in the Spanish American War, but never saw action.
Unlike some of the forts in RI, this one you can actually walk into the underground bunkers.

More miles of deserted beaches.
The amorous couple that I interrupted did not seem happy to see me.

Cactus!  Didn't even know they existed in Florida.
A local man told me these are Prickly Pear Cactuses
(or do you prefer "cacti"?)

Sunday:  8
Rock Cut State Park, largest park in northern Illinois.  From Florida to Illinois.  Go figure.  It was actually a handoff from one son who loves the heat (Mark) to the other who is more cold-blooded (Matthew).  After flying in the night before in scary thunderstorms, I picked up Matthew at O'Hare en route to visiting the University of Wisconsin, where the head XC coach would be waiting for him Monday morning.
A good half-way point seemed to be the Rock Cut State Park, and it worked out great.  A little bit of park roads, but mostly dirt trails and grass comprised our run today.  Running around the lake was rather scenic.
CCW trail run around Pierce Lake

Herons and pelicans have been replaced with Canadian geese

Weekly mileage:  57

Weekly synopsis:  Fun, but tiring week.  Had fun running in Florida despite the heat, and still got in a good mileage week as well.

Weekly highlight:  Exploring Fort Desoto Park.