Sunday, October 23, 2016

Weekly Log 17-Oct to 23-Oct-2016

Monday:  2
Running with pruning shears while performing some minor maintenance on the Swamp Bypass Trail in Woody Hill.

Tuesday:  6
Westerly Town Forest.  Ran 3 x hills on Blue Trail.  The orange trail has a tree down; otherwise, the trails are in good shape.

Wednesday:  5
Humid, soupy run at Noanet Woodlands, on a late October day that would see temps rise into the 80s.  Ugh!

On my way driving up to MA, I saw my first ever Westerly-based coyote.  It was the corner of Airport and Tom Harvey Road, and when I got closer to it, it went under the fence along the airport and disappeared.

Thursday:  3
Should've run in the morning, but lost my window to run.  Ran around Matthew's meet (The Glen, Portsmouth) catching him at various places.  Pretty cool to see him PR and course record in 16:01.

Friday:  5
Champlin trails at 6am.  First lap I needed the headlamp, but by the second it wasn't needed.  It's run to run trails in the dark.  Just takes a little getting used to and a little harder as you don't have peripheral vision.

Saturday:  10
Narragansett Trail group run with Tommy, Mikey, and Jonathan Short.  Enjoyable time running out and back from Wyassup Lake in North Stonington.  A few technical spots were tougher than normal with slippery rocks following an overnight rainstorm, and the gravel road sections were not fun, but still a good time.  We got in some good hill climbs, and there was really fun single-track that I enjoyed.  I could've kept going longer, but I'm also real happy to have company on these Saturday runs.

Sunday: 8
3 miles on the Ponaganset XC course, as Matthew wanted a preview before racing there 3 weekends in a row, for Class, State, and New England championships.  Trail portion is hard-packed gravel/sand, while the field section was quite muddy today.
5 miles at Tillinghast Trail System in West Greenwich.  I really enjoyed these trails, especially the single-track on the orange Coney Trail, and want to go back to run some of the ones we missed, especially Wickboxet loop.

Weekly mileage:  40

Weekly synopsis:  Didn't get in the volume of running I wanted this week, but not terrible either.  Highlights were the Town Forest run, Narragansett Trail group run, and Tillinghast.  All runs this week were trail runs, despite wanting to mix in one road run per week. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Weekly Log 10-Oct to 16-Oct-2016

Monday:  13
AM:  9-mile trail run with FiveK.  Yes, you read that right!  Wahaneeta, Woody, and Bradford Preserve, including the new XC course.
PM:  Having the holiday off, went for a second run.  Westerly Town Forest.

Tuesday:  5
Late afternoon Barn Island single-track run in reverse direction.  Really threw me off.

Wednesday:  8
Fun run at the Hale Reservation, Westwood, MA.  Mix of double and single-track.
Part of a cross-country flag where directional arrows
still remained.  This surface looks like a typical
cross-country course.

OK, now I'm surprised that this terrain
is still part of the cross-country course.
Plenty of rocks in here!

Thursday:  0
No excuses.  Lazy slug.

Friday:  6
Six miles on roads in White Rock, Springbrook, North End.  Second time in only two weeks on roads.  Crossed paths with WHS XC star Randi 3 times on the road, once was when I huffing and puffing up the 15% incline section on Hardwood Drive.  That section of road actually gets closed in the winter snow and ice because it is so steep. 

Got into a rhythm after a while, and with two miles of downhills, I was able to keep a relatively fast pace and finish my last mile in 6:08.  Average 6:33 pace on this run!

Saturday:  10
Trail run with Tommy and Mikey.  No, really!  If I add in Jonathan Short and Eric Dauphinais ran with us, perhaps it's more believable.  I think Jonathon said he hadn't run roads since Blessing!  35 degrees at start, and Mike was already whining about hating winter!  Fun group run from Burlingame campground around the pond mostly on Vin Gormley trail, and a little added on North-South Trail and Burlingame trail from Kettle Pond trail system.

Sunday:  13
Sakonnet Greenway Trail, Portsmouth.  Long way to go for a run (about 1 hour drive each way from Westerly), but Matthew is running there next Thursday and wanted to get a course preview.  Most of our run actually was on the Greenway Trail, which he researched.  Different terrain than I'm used to, as it was almost entirely running on grass trails along golf courses, and right through the Newport Vineyards!

Weekly mileage:  56

Weekly synopsis:  Highest mileage week since July!  Very happy with this.  I'm running almost entirely trails these days, but it was a nice mix with adding in a road run and a grass trails run.  For not running roads in a few weeks, I was pleasantly impressed with my road run, so I'll try to mix in a road run each week.


Monday, October 10, 2016

Run for the Pumpkins Trail Race - 2016

Westerly, RI
Saturday, October 8, 2016

The 14th annual Run for the Pumpkins, and the second year since we moved it to trails.  It was a busy week getting ready for the race, and the morning had arrived.
One week prior:
A joint section of both the XC and Pumpkins course was suddenly blocked by
three fallen trees, a day before an XC meet.  Momentary panic set in.

The night before the race:
Our living room is awash in orange,
as Jana worked hours getting shirts sorted and organized.

Morning of:
Time again to play how much race stuff can I shove into the Volvo?

Mile 1:  SNERRO had a gun start on the field, and we were off.  I had widened the starting line this year to be at least 50', and we were all converging for the first cone right-turn just 28 meters away.  With a full contingent of high-school cross-country runners, they took it out hard and fast.  Even 1/4 mile in, the only non-HS runner in the top 10 was Tommy 5K.  Where are Muddy and Jonny?.  Way ahead I could see Matthew already turning off the field into the trails, and no one was anywhere near close to him.

Wider starting line this year.
Muddy passed me (finally!) on the field, and I went into the trail in about 12th place, with Tommy, Muddy, and many XC runners ahead of me.  On the long 100' climb I passed about 4 XC runners and got passed by Jonny and eventual female winner Randi. We spilled out onto the short gravel road section and I was just behind Randi and Jonny, but it took me a while to catch my breath.  The next trail is pretty flat, straight, and fast.  Finished the 1st mile in 6:43 and about 10th place.

Mile 2:  Early in Mile 2 the long double-track ends and you take a brand-new single-track detour to avoid a rock-strewn short gravel road section.  When I say brand-new, I mean we just made it last week!  After the short single-track through the pines, it's a short section of gravel road before you start the 0.6 mile "Hansel & Gretel" long twisty single-track in the deep pines.  I wanted to be in a good position starting Hansel & Gretel, so I pushed it and passed two more XC runners here.  8th place.
Just a week before the race,
this is what the single-track detour looked like!
And here's the nasty rock-strewn section of trail from last year's race
that we were bypassing.

FLASHBACK:  Just a year ago, I "made" Hansel & Gretel purposely going deep into the pine forest, and selecting tight turns whenever possible.  In my mind every turn on the trail is crystal clear, but then again Strava shows that I've run it 60 times in the past year.  It is obviously NOT crystal clear as even trail-master Crutch went off course a few times while helping us to mark earlier in the morning, together with Mikey, Muddy, Matthew, and Jonny.  We put 700 flags on the course this year, and about 300 alone went on to this section!  Back to the race ...
One of many logs to jump over
on Hansel & Gretel trail

Without a bevy of flags (before marking)
every few feet, you can see how
the trail may not be so easy to follow

The #2 boys XC runner (Thomas M) was just ahead of me, who was now just behind Randi.  As soon as there was a straight section on the trail, Thomas went by Randi (politely saying "on your left" as he did so) and I took the opportunity to do the same.  I stayed right behind Thomas as we made our way past Tommy 5K and we took the near-180 degree turn to start the trail heading toward the rock.  By the time we reached the rock, Thomas had caught two more runners:  Jonny and Patrick, a sophomore who runs for LaSalle.  The rock is the end of Mile 2.  My slowest mile at 7:53 (not surprising given it's the most challenging mile); I'm now in 6th place.
Not everyone likes the rock that you go up
and over, but it seems most do, and when
I hear comments like "That rock was so AWESOME!",
I guess I'll leave that as part of the course!

Mile 3:  We were in a line of four (Jonny, Patrick, Thomas, me) as we snaked our way out of Hansel & Gretel.  Once we crossed the gravel road and started the wider return trail, I went past Thomas and then Patrick. I was concerned that now that we were out of the twisty single-track, I had lost my advantage and would be re-passed by them and/or Tommy 5K, who couldn't be far behind.  I relied on my downhill prowess and pushed against my fatigue to carry on.  I was chasing Jonny now, but he put a little separation on me as we raced downhill to the finish.  Once I started the final steep downhill, I could hear the crowd on the adjacent field, and I correctly guessed that Matthew was finishing.  Exiting onto the field, Jonny was just ahead of me and Muddy a little way ahead of him.  I pushed it to the finish as fast as I could, knowing I was being chased myself.  Fastest mile at 6:02.

Final results:  20:43, 4th place, 1st in age group.  Matthew was 1st, Muddy 2nd, Jonny 3rd and 9 seconds ahead of me.  I held off Patrick by just 6 seconds, and FiveK by 10 seconds.  Thomas must've dropped off a bit, as he finished 27 seconds behind.

Caught my breath, and caught up with friends and other runners before leading out the kids' run and hosting the awards.  Meanwhile, a number of my teammates were working hard behind the scenes to retrieve the patchwork of mile markers, signs, and ghosts.  Everyone really came together for this race and it paid dividends.

Finished up the day with locking up the gates, as Mikey noticed and picked up a cell phone that someone had left behind and he handed it to me.  Yeah, that Samsung cell phone looked a little too familiar.  It was the same one that I had "temporarily" placed down when unlocking that gate some four hours ago!  What a dolt!  Thanks Mikey for saving me from myself again.

Jana found this on Facebook and I loved it.
Really fast 9-year old had me working much harder than I was hoping.
What a way to cap an awesome day of running at 2016 Run for the Pumpkins!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Weekly Log 3-Oct to 9-Oct-2016: Final XC home meet and Pumpkins planning

Disappointing moment of the week:  After all the efforts to clean up Woody Hill trails, some careless idiot thinks it's his (or her) dumping ground:

Monday:  0

Tuesday:  8
Second and final WHS XC home meet of the season.  8 miles running around with setup, course marking, and clean-up.  Matthew lowered his own course record to 16:40 on a hilly course.

Wednesday:  0
4 days of nine-hour meetings in Providence left me with little time to run this week.

Thursday:  7
44-degree run in the dark at 5am.  First road run in almost a month.  I guess I should run them occasionally to work on speed, but have been really enjoying the spate of trail running.

Friday:  0
Too busy getting ready for Pumpkins race tomorrow.  Finalizing pre-race registration lists, notifying WTAC teammates on volunteer assignments, etc.

Saturday:  9
Run for the Pumpkins!  Write-up to follow imminently.

Sunday:  6
Ran the Mystic trails in a steady rain with Matthew.
Sign of a good trail run!

Weekly mileage:  29

Weekly synopsis:  If you based it on mileage alone, this would have rated as a really disappointing week.  However, it was a busy and fruitful week hosting two races at Bradford Preserve this week.  It has really been enjoyable seeing both the Pumpkins and XC courses come to fruition.


Saturday, October 8, 2016

Weekly Log 26-Sep to 2-Oct-2016

Amusing anecdote of the week:
At a WHS XC meet, one parent offered to me that in advance of the Pumpkin run, he could use his leafblower to clear the sticks, leaves, and pine needles off the course.  BLASPHEMY!  Has he been talking to Mike B?

Monday:  0

Tuesday:  5
From Wahaneeta out to Bradford Preserve and back.

Wednesday:  8
Adams Farm trails.  Fun, twisty single-track in the early morning.
Part of my trail run at Adams Farm.
I can't understand how I got disoriented!

Thursday:  0
Work issues and a retirement party (unfortunately, not my own) killed my running window today.  Yeah, yeah, excuses, excuses ...

Friday:  5
Grills Preserve in the rain.  Last run there for a while with the preserve slated for closure from Oct 1 to Mar 31 for a forestry initiative.

Saturday:  10
Minor tinkering with the Pumpkins course to avoid a loose rock gravel road section that's been bothering me for a year.  Re-measured the course with the wheel to keep it an honest 5K.  Will need to make adjustments to start/finish to compensate.
Went out for another seven in Woody Hill.  Drizzling rain.

Sunday:  11
AM:  6 miles in Woody Hill with Mike B and Aaron, prior to working with a crew of 10 on pre-Pumpkins trail clearing and short single-track detour section.  Mowed the upper field section for the last time this year.
PM:  5 miles on Pumpkins course and XC with Matthew.  He got almost the entire Hansel & Gretel trail correct.

Weekly mileage:  40

Weekly synopsis:  Spent a lot of time in Woody lately prepping for WHS XC meets and Pumpkins race.  It's been really fun seeing both races come to fruition.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Summer Wrap-Up

Today is the last day of September.  It's also the last dress-down Friday at work, a practice that lasted all summer.  Sigh ... there's something nice about just putting on jeans and a polo shirt to go to work.  As we turn the calendar into October and Q4, here's a quick look back at my Summer of '16:

It was the summer of my discontent.  Not entirely, but with apologies to the Bard, there were certainly a number of downsides to the summer:

Two biggest negatives:

1)  Triple-whammy of tick-borne illnesses:  Lyme disease, plus babesiosis, plus anaplasmosis.  The latter is rare, the combination of all three put me on a RI health department watch list. I thought I was just having a fever, but it really sucked the joy and strength out of me for about three full weeks, plus kept me away from the beach and outdoor mid-day running for longer.  Just last week, I had my last blood test for the three diseases and resulting elevated liver enzymes.
Nasty, horrid, vile, despicable creatures.

2)  Heat.  Even Mikey B and Tommy jumped ship on the "I love HHH runs" mantra.  According to, each of the 48 contiguous states had above average heat this summer, and three of those had a record hot summer since records were kept in the 1800s.  Not surprisingly two of those were RI and CT.  Ugh!  Seemingly race after race this summer was a sufferfest of heat and/or humidity, including:  Beavers (July), Blessing of the Fleet (July), Kerri (August), Bobby Doyle (August), and Surftown (September).
Uncomfortable and unpleasant.

Two best races:

1)  Loon Mountain 10K Race.  My first ever mountain race, but not my last!  I didn't know how to pace or strategize for this race, but really enjoyed it.  57 degrees at the start didn't hurt.
Challenging race against a beautiful backdrop of mountain peaks.

2)  Vesturgatan 24K Wilderness Race, Iceland.  Cool temps with highs in the 60s, drop-dead gorgeous sights with snow-covered mountains and miles of fjords just added to the excitement of running in a foreign country.  Being on the podium with Matthew celebrating a 1-2 Walker finish topped the cake.
Gorgeous scenery the entire race course.

Two best tris:

1) Block Island Tri.  A perennial favorite, this was my 7th annual iteration of hopefully many more to come.
Block Island Town Beach before start of tri:
Fun tri and get-together with friends.
2)  Rhode Warrior Sprint:  Jumped into this one late, and had a lot of fun with it.

With Matthew, just before start of our swim wave.


  • Hot, humid races are just not fun for me. I will continue to run perennial races like Blessing and Block, but otherwise, am going to have to think twice about signing up in advance for some of the others.
  • Did very little biking this summer.  Missed the many group rides we did the previous summer, and the social get-togethers at coffee shops that ensued.  Maybe Chris' return to RI will get them going again in '17?
  • While I'm not a big swimming fan, I do truly enjoy tris.  Had a dearth of them this year, and would like to do more next summer.
  • Finally, I'm loving the trail races (minus the HHH at Beavers).  Adding a destination makes it even more fun. Have no idea where next summer will physically bring us, but would like to run another new trail race or two.
On to the fall ...

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Ocean State XC Invitational

Goddard Park
Warwick, RI
Saturday, September 24, 2016

Had contemplated running this race for the past few years, but somehow never got around to it.  Matthew has run this race since he was in 6th grade and Mark before that, as middle schoolers run Friday afternoon and high schoolers from RI, MA, CT, NH, NY, and NJ run pretty much throughout the day Saturday.  Sandwiched between the middle school and high school races is an open division race at 8am Saturday.  Last year I was chided for not running by some of my contemporaries that did run the race last year, including, Brightman and Fox, Elise, and Tollgate coach Norm.  Fox moved to Oregon, Elise and Norm are both injured, and I don't know what happened to Brightman.

Tommy reinvigorated my interest when he contacted me to gauge interest.  Mike B joined in, and the three of us came up together early Saturday morning.  When we got there at 7am the place was a ghost-town and when I left at 1:30pm after Matthew's race and awards, there were hundreds if not thousands of cars there and Jana had to park 1/2 mile away.

Field start:  A small open field of about 50 spread out horizontally across the wide starting line.  Just before the start, it was cool that the DJ played "Start Me Up" by the Stones!  Unfortunately, the music choices went steadily downhill throughout the day.  At the gun, we funneled quickly together and 1/4 mile in I found myself in 5th, with Tommy in 2nd.  I was trailing two guys running close together, one of whom I gauged to be in his 30s and the other an old guy potentially in my age group.  We ran a small loop around a field, and then going into the woods, I passed one of the two guys (the old one), but the younger guy accelerated ahead.

The woods:  I am used to trying to get a good position going into the woods because it might be a while before you can pass again.  I knew these trails were pretty wide, but just wasn't used to running a trail race where you had plenty of room to pass the entire course.  Accordingly, there were at least four times in the woods where I came right up on the younger guy in front of me, and as I did, he would surge ahead.  I thought that was a good sign, as it usually means my competitor is tiring.

Field finish:  Coming out of the woods on the heels of my competitor, unfortunately he found another gear, which I could not match.  Crossed the finish line 10 seconds behind him, but a full minute ahead of the guy I thought was in my age group, and he ended up being age 48 anyway!

After the race, got a $25 certificate to Rhode Runner shop for my age group win, and then went on a cool-down, two miles with Tommy, Mike, and Jeff Huckle, the latter of whom was a great spectator and motivator on the course.  Tommy and Mike returned back home, while Jeff and I went out to finish up five miles before watching our respective kids run their HS race.  Matthew hit a new 5K of 16:09, even on trails!  Not really my kind of trails, but it was certainly a fun day all around.

Final results:  18:35, 5:59 pace.  4th overall, 1st in age group.  Full results here.