Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Weekly Log 15-May to 21-May-2017: Heat and Frass

Coming off a great race on Block Island, I would like to get in another trail race soon, but my guess is my next one will be Back Road Ramble on June 11.

Monday:  6
Roads in Watch Hill, reasonably fast.  Took a 3.8 mile CR that had been out there for 4 years and was held by someone from San Fran.

Tuesday:  5
Returned to Westerly Grills for the first time since they re-opened due to the forestry initiative.  Very disappointing.  The better parts of the preserve are still closed, and much of the open parts, save the blue trail, are swampy and overgrown.  Also coming into the season of frass dropping out of the trees.

The only positive on the run was a massive turtle crossing the trail, and of course, I didn't have my phone on me to take a pic.

Wednesday:  13
AM:  7 miles in Hale Reservation, Dover, MA.  I took a wrong turn and serendipitously "discovered" some really fun single-track that eliminates a dirt road portion.
PM:  6 miles in Big River.  86 nasty degrees.  Running shirtless did not help.  Kept the pace easy to offset the heat.  Fun twisty single-track, including Lego and Foster's Folly.

Thursday:  11
Early morning super-humid run in B'game.  Happy to get it in before a long work day, but not enjoying this weather.

Friday:  5
Back to B'game for a run on the old BRR course, before the final BRR prep meeting.  By 9am, it was mid-70s and humid and I was wilting on the final mile in the open sun on Sanctuary Road.  Got back to Camp Watchaug and promptly dove under water at Watchaug Pond.  Refreshing.

In the evening, went out for drinks with colleagues.  We sat outside along the river, which should be nice, but it felt hot, and I complained about the frass on the table.  Not a single one of the eight or so colleagues had any idea what frass is.  I rephrased it as "caterpillar sh%t" and they got it.

Saturday:  12
Six easy on the long course with fellow BRR committee member Sergio.  Followed up by six in Burlingame North, plus Sammy Cs, VG back, and Lenny Lane.  Ran on a real sketchy connector trail from NST in Burlingame North back to Buckeye Brook Road; otherwise good trails.  Picked a big tick off my leg.

Sunday:  7
Groton Cross Town Trail with Matthew.  Ran CCW from Haley to get the road section out of the way first.  Second time running this; didn't need to stop as many times to try to figure out the route.  Finished up with some fun twisty single-track in Haley.

Weekly mileage:  59

Weekly synopsis:  Really happy with this mileage.  3 out of the past 4 weeks have been at or about 60 miles.  One road run, and seven trail runs.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Shad Bloom 2017

Block Island, RI
Sunday, May 14, 2017

Had run this trail 10K four years ago in a time of 41:50.  I remember it being hard and that I opted to power hike the hill at Rodman's Hollow, described as "The Wall".

In last year's inaugural version of the "Clamshell Series", we had featured the North Stonington Education Foundation 5K as the May race, but will only 2 WTAC participants, we switched to the Shad Bloom 10K.  We were skeptical how many would actually show for a race which you had to take a 1-hour ferry each way (the fast ferry only runs during summer), but it worked out quite well and I was pleasantly surprised to see 15 WTAC runners had made the trek to Block Island!
Team WTAC (missing a few)
just before the start of the race

Start to Mile 2:  After a warm-up with Jonathan Short and newest WTAC member Cliff Dimon, we were lined up in the driveway of the Block Island School and ready to go!  The gun went off, and when the dust settled, I was in 6th place.  There was an old guy (translation:  my age) just in front of me that as I passed him mumbled something to me that I should get up to 3rd place.  Then a tall thin teenager in front of me abruptly stopped and moved to the side of the road.  Very odd. 

The first two miles are on dirt roads with slight net downhill to the ocean.  About one mile in, I passed a young guy to put me in 3rd, with the 2nd place guy a good 100 meters ahead of me and Brightman completely out of sight.  Mile 1 split 6-flat, Mile 2 5:53.

Miles 3 and 4:  We leave the dirt roads behind, and start climbing away from the ocean through open grass fields.  I can see Brightman (for the last time) climbing up the hillside, and see the 2nd place guy a little ways ahead of me.  The pace naturally slows, but I'm feeling pretty good.  After a decent climb and a field crossing, we exit onto dirt single-track.  I'm gradually getting closer to the 2nd place guy, and I notice he keeps looking back at me.  After a few more turns, I come up right behind him, biding my time.  At a steep downhill on dirt and rocks, it's time for me to go.  I shout "ON YOUR LEFT!", and bomb down the hill past him.

Final two miles:  As we enter Rodman Hollow and start to climb "The Wall", I can hear him breathing right behind me.  Midway up the climb, his breathing drops off a bit, but I don't want to let up now.  How cool would it be to finish in 2nd place?  As we finish the climb and exit onto a road, I'm feeling really good and wondering to myself if that was Rodman Hollow or just another hill climb.  We run on a road for about 1/4 mile and I ask the guys manning a water stop how far back the next guy is.  Their reply of "a good ways" isn't the quantitative answer I'm looking for, but I soldier on, coming up on 5 miles and confident now that we did indeed climb through Rodman Hollow's "The Wall".

After a couple more climbs, I recognize the final field and it's a short distance now to the dirt road, which will bring us back to the start/finish.  I remembered that from the trail end back to the finish is just 1/4 mile, so I drop it back down sub-6 to the finish.  I see the clock showing 39:xx and am surprised and ecstatic!

Final results:  39:29.  2nd overall of 177 finishers!  Full results.

I hung around to get a drink and watch Jonathan come in (6th place!) and then head out with Brightman for a cooldown, and catch up on his latest and upcoming trail races.  Back at the ranch (or school), we hang around for awards.  The other "old" guy (who's actually two years younger than me at age 50) that I passed early in the race came up to me and asked if I finished in 3rd place.  No.  When I told him I got second, he enthusiastically thanked me and explained that this was his 9th attempt at trying to win his age group here (awards only go 1 deep in age group, but 3 overall), and with me out of contention as you can't double dip, he won the 50-59 age group.  I was really happy for him.

Great day for a race, and so much fun.  Taking 2 1/2 minutes off my previous time here and coming in 2nd overall was just a bonus.  By the time Jonathan and I got to the ferry, every single inside seat was taken and we ended up sitting on the floor for the ride home, but I was happy and it was all good!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Weekly Log 8-May to 14-May-2017: Mud, Ticks, & Block Island

Monday:  0

Tuesday:  8
'Round the pond run.  Nice, cool 39 degree run.  6:58 pace.

Wednesday:  12
AM:  Solo 7-mile CW run from Wahaneeta up to Bradford Preserve, back via and around the Woody Hill Marsh.  Many waterfowl in the pond.  Didn't even try to traverse the broken up beaver dam, and just forded the knee deep river.
PM:  5-mile Ninigret run with Matthew on the bike path and gravel trails.  Easy and flat.  This was just after seeing an orthopedic specialist for him and him getting cleared for at least easy running while awaiting an MRI and PT.  Hopefully on the road to recovery.

Thursday:  5
Midday run on Barn Island.  90% single-track, 100% fun.

Friday:  6
Copp Family Park, Groton, CT.  First visit here.  Started off on manicured double-track, moved onto very steep, technical single-track, followed by twisty trails through dense rhododendron, fields where the smell of honeysuckle was overpowering, and plenty of mud and slop.  Got myself disoriented a bit; would like to come back here at some point.
Pulled out one of these nasty
varmints that was well entrenched
in my leg.

Mud galore

Fortunately there was a stream near the finish of my run,
which I waded into to get some of the mud off before getting back into the car.
Saturday:  9
Shad Bloom 10K.  Block Island.  Great race!  Write-up to follow shortly.

Sunday:  8
Sakonnet Greenway Trail, Middletown.  Drizzly rain, flooded fields, muck and mud.  At the start of the run, Matthew and I were just splashing through soaked soft grass trails, making it hard to get any traction.  We were thinking of turning back when after 1/4 mile or so we got into sections that were much more passable.  We certainly hit many more flooded and mud sections, but there were also quite a few trail sections that were passable.  Absolutely not another person out here today.

Weekly mileage:  49

Weekly synopsis:  After two consecutive 60+ mileage weeks, a drop in mileage was bound to happen, especially with a race this week.  I'm really enjoying these higher mileage weeks and am just getting out there and having fun.  While I do miss catching up with marathon training partner Tommy, I don't miss the pressure of marathon training at all.  I think my next road race is 2 1/2 months away (Blessing), so I'll run roads periodically, but will definitely be on the trails more.  Enjoying it, and it will help me building up to nearer term trail races.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Weekly Log 1-May to 7-May-2017: Texas Adventures

Monday:  0

Tuesday:  5
Was so happy that my two airline companions were Absent and
Invisible.  They were nice guys that were really quiet the whole
flight and didn't even mind that I put my feet up on them.

Cool airline entertainment system.  Punched in some Stones,
Aerosmith, even The Knack.  Remember The Knack?
Grapevine, TX.  86 degrees and sunny in the late afternoon.  Welcome to Texas.
Arid and hot.  Got sunburned.
Inside the atrium of my hotel,
where I ate dinner Tuesday.
Yeah, it all looks nice and clean, but my
gripe is it's all fake, kind of like Disney.  I
guess you go to Disney expecting fake,
but when I'm in wild Texas, set me out on the
real trails in the real outdoors and I'm happy.

Wednesday:  24!
AM:  8 miles in Horseshoe Trails Park.  The local roads are mostly cement, so I wasn't into an out and back, but wanted to get to this trail system.  The solution:  Uber!  This was my foray to Uber.  I'm sure you've all used Uber, and my 18-year old raves about it, but I'm not exactly an early adopter  (how many others out there are driving a 12-year old car with manual transmission?).  It was really cool, efficient, and cheap!  You follow the driver's approach on their app, electronic notification when 1-minute away, you know and pay the price in advance, and it was only $5.95!
Very fun mountain bike trails through the woods.
PM:  16 miles on the Northshore Trail (actually 11 miles on the twisty trail, followed by 5 not-so-fun miles on busy cement roads)
11 miles of single-track, much right along Lake Grapevine.

The red clay soil in Texas is something unique that
we don't have in New England.

Thursday:  5
Recovery on local roads and trails in Katie's Woods.

Friday:  7
Final run in Texas.  3 miles of roads ran fairly hard, followed by trails at Katie's Woods.  Easily took a CR on a 1.7 mile road segment.  Ran it in 5:58 pace to hopefully hold it a bit longer, as who knows if and when I'll ever return to Grapevine, Texas.
Cool waterfowl early in the morning

Very fun running along the lake in my final Texas run

At the airport for the trip home.
My kind of place to eat.  Yeah, not.
While not everyone's cup of my tea, this is more my pace:
Finishing up my trip report,
while enjoying sushi and a glass of wine.

Saturday:  10
After arriving home from Texas at 2am after an aborted landing at Green Airport and diversion to Logan Airport, I was just happy to be on solid ground and looking for a morning run.  While I had initially contemplated running 7 Sisters, between insufficient training and arriving home so late, that just would not have worked out.

Instead, met up with Jonathan Short for a pre-arranged trail running from Roaring Brook in Arcadia.  I had never been here and really enjoyed the single-track he led me on, in spite of the drizzly weather that had turned into a pretty steady rain by the time we finished.
The aptly name Roaring Brook was the start of our run.
Really fun trails.

Sunday:  9
Solo Chariho mixer.  3 miles roads (mainly Switch Road), before a couple of miles in Carolina North (out Laurel, back Pony Express), and finished up in Carolina South (some twisty yellow-blazed trail through young white pines, then NST).  Ran the last mile in a fast 6:23.  I think that's a good thing to run final miles hard when you're tired.

Weekly mileage:  61

Weekly synopsis:   Interesting and fun diversion to run in Texas!  Super happy with the mileage.

61 miles!  Psyched.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

RI State Police 5K 2017

Narragansett, RI
Sunday, April 30, 2017


My first road 5K of the year 2017, a year which is likely to see as little four from me.  It seems just a few years back, many in the WTAC were running frequent road 5Ks, and certainly the same went for me:

The road 5K certainly remains a popular distance, but for me, I find it not as fun or challenging as the endurance required for longer races or the variety and beauty found in trail races.  On with the race report:

Warmed up for two miles on the course with marathon training partner Tommy 5K.  Since I’ve put zero effort into any 5K training this year, was two weeks off a marathon, and have never broken 18 minutes here, I told him I’d be happy with anything 18:30 or better.

First mile:  Started on the front line with eventual winner Tommy 5K.  The only other old guy saw around was long-time runner Dave Schaad.   Jostling for position at the start were men many years my junior.  Two asked my intended pace, and when I said 5:50, they were fine with me starting ahead of them.  A third stated he was looking to run 5:30 pace, so I offered to switch and take his 2nd row position, but he declined.  The very cool state police shotgun start occurred, and the 5:30 guy ran around and ahead of me.  Wish he had taken me up on my offer.  By the time we rounded the first corner (1/4 mile), there were about 15 runners ahead of me.  Disappointing.  Based on my breathing, I felt I was going a few seconds too fast, but held on pretty good to pass at least five runners and come through the first mile in 5:48.
Start of race.  Can you see Tommy and me overtaken by
runners sprinting out?
(left side, 2nd row)
(pic by Jana)
Middle mile:  Between an ever so slight uphill on Boone Street and my natural inclination to run the 2nd mile as my slowest, my pace dropped to low 6s.  I still managed to pass two runners in this stretch, and making a mental note that they were both breathing harder than me, made a correct assumption that they would not be coming back for me.  Mile 2 split 6:02.
Along the seawall.  Early in Mile 3.
(pic by Matthew)
Final mile and finish:  At the start of the 3rd mile, who do I come up to and pass?  The guy who sprinted around me at the start, and was looking to run 5:30 pace.  I make my own blunders for sure, but today his is pacing.  Heading on Ocean Road back to the finish, I see two more runners ahead of me, but remind myself that I still have a mile to go.  In the final miles of a marathon, each mile seems to drag painfully on, but this final mile and indeed entire race just went by so fast.  I ended up passing one of the two runners ahead of me, but the second one started and held on to an early kick.  Mile 3 was my fastest mile, with a split 5:45.
Finishing up
(Pic by Shara)
Final results:  18:16.  6th overall out of 812.  1st in age group.  Full results here.

For a race that I put zero prep work into and had zero expectations, my outcome exceeded my expectations.  After a short cool-down with Tommy (even got him onto the trails)!, caught up with fellow WTAC and NRA runners on the deck post-race.  A good day.  Glad I came and ran.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Weekly Log 24-Apr to 30-Apr-2017: Big Mileage Week into State Police 5K

Monday: 8
Li'l Rhody course in reverse.  Slow recovery run.  As I was finishing up, I passed an older gentlemen who recognized me and said, "Thank you for everything you and the Westerly Track & Athletic Club do for running."  Great way to finish up a run!

Tuesday:  6
With a chilly-ish (that's a word, right?) light morning rain, opted just to stay local and ran roads.  Got an enthusiastic call-out from Steve Schonning on East Ave.  That helped my mood, as my hands never really got warm in the rain in the upper 40s.

Wednesday:  6
Continuing my transition from the marathon to trail races, it's time to put some effort in. Bummed that Big River is canceled this year, I had thought about swapping Seven Sisters in instead. But as pointed out to me, I haven't been training for mountainous trails and I wouldn't be content to just finish it; I would want to do well.  So, no Seven Sisters, at least not this year, but let's start to get ready for other hills / mountain races coming up.
3 trips up Wilson Mountain
will hopefully be part of a training
regimen to make a stronger trail runner
out of me

Sign of a good trail run:
Mud splattered everywhere
Finished out the day with a 15-mile bike ride.  First of the season.

Thursday:  5
Noon time run and puddles run in the Westerly Town Forest.  Power lines section was mostly dry, but the red trail was flooded out.  Had fun running through it.

Evening swim at the Y with Matthew.  500 easy yards.  Arms sore.  I am an upper body weakling.

Friday:  14
AM:  11 mile run in rural Richmond, Hopkinton, and Exeter.  About 5 miles of the run were on dirt roads.  I really enjoyed Blitzkrieg Trail, which is essentially a single-lane dirt road through the forest for about three miles.
PM:  3 miles in my new racing flats, NB 1400 v2.  I typically buy shoes that are already discontinued, as you can buy them about half off retail.  I have no expectations going into Sunday's 5K, but felt better at least run in the shoes pre-race.

Saturday:  13
Solo trail run meandering through Burlingame, including the Burlingame Trail into Kettle Pond trails, Camp Watchaug, Sammy C's, North Camp, VG, and NST back to the campground parking lot.  Very warm and humid.
Vile creature that I pulled off my leg.
Tick season has returned.

Sunday:  7
RI State Police 5K.  Race report to follow.

Weekly mileage:
 1/4 mile.  Good to get started!
 15 miles.  Likewise, first time on the bike this year.
  61 miles!

Weekly synopsis:
Super happy with this one!  Of course, 61 miles barely got me into 3rd place on the WTAC leaderboard, but me, two weeks after a marathon, I'm feeling great and enjoying running.  Happy to also get in a first swim and ride of the year.  As I mentioned on last week's post, my summer focus will be on trail runs, but I'll also be looking to get in at least a couple of sprint tris.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Weekly Log 17-Apr to 23-Apr-2017: Cayuga, Horse Caves, & Geeky Stats

Marathon #19 is over, including the four months of training leading up to it.  What's next?
Remember the commercials back in the late '80s,
where Super Bowl winners were asked what they were going to do next,
and they replied, "I'm going to Disney World!"?
Yeah, that's not happening.

But here is a glimpse in to what's really on the docket for the next 4+ months:
  • High focus:  A number of fun trail races, including hills and mountains.
  • Medium focus:  Triathlon season.  Less than in past years, and no Ironman to totally wipe me out, but probably a few fun sprint distances.
  • Low focus:  Road races.  Still running my go-to races, including RI State Police 5k next weekend, but not many planned road races.  After last summer's brutal heat, I may take a wait and see approach to summer races.
The above is pretty short on any specifics.  My race list is a work in progress, and I'm looking for at least a couple more trail races, plus another tri.  Updated upcoming race list

Monday:  5
Buttermilk Falls State Park, Ithaca, NY.  After touring Ithaca College today as the start of a spring vacation trip visiting prospective colleges with Matthew, went for a run.  Not the elevation gain I was looking for two days after a marathon, but how could I pass up destination running?  Besides, this featured gorgeous scenery and was part of the Cayuga 50 course. 
View from Ithaca College overlooking Cayuga Lake.
The picture does not do this justice, as it is
one of the most beautiful college campuses I have ever seen.
Buttermilk Falls State Park
Can you spot Matthew?  He's a speck of blue running way out ahead of the old man.

The main portion of Buttermilk Falls.
Spectacular!


Tuesday:  10
AM: 5 miles at Cayuga Waterfront Trail, Ithaca.  Dawn run on bike paths along the lake.
PM:  5 miles at Green Lake State Park, Syracuse.  All trails, mix of wooded and open field terrain.
Green Lake:  a mix of dirt trails and ...

... cross-country trails through fields.

Wednesday:  6
Metacomet and Robert Frost trails, within the Mt. Holyoke Range State Park,Amherst, MA.  After visiting UMass Amherst for the day, went to "The Notch" Visitor Center to start our run.  This is the same site of the start of the Seven Sisters Trail Race, although it goes in the opposite direction.

First up right off the bat is a grueling 500' climb up Mount Norwottock.  Matthew led, and I was kind of hoping he would take a break part way up.  No such luck.  We did take a break at the top of the mountain, where two girls were picnicking. Continued on to the Horse Caves, which purportedly provided shelter for rebels during the Shay's Rebellion.  The rest of the run was flatter, although certainly not flat, as we had worked out a loop using the great trail map we picked up at the Visitors Center.  Really cool place to run!
Tough footing on the uphill climb!

Views from the top of Mt Norwottock

Horse Caves.  See the white blazes in the middle?
Yes, the trail goes BETWEEN those two boulders!

Thursday:  5
Solo run in Woody North.  It's always fun to run in the Woody. Got my feet soaked crossing the dam on the return.

Friday:  7
Rainy, Mystic road loop from the Mystic Y with Matthew, punctuated with a little bit of trail in between to avoid much of Route 49.

Saturday:  10
Fun, twisty, single-track run with Muddy at Bluff Point and Haley State Parks.  It's fun once in a while to get off that popular main loop and explore the single-track.

Sunday:  8
Solo trail workout at Duval, followed up by a cool-down at Charlestown Moraine Preserve.
Duval:  Pushed every uphill, panting much of the way.   Duval has many features, including dirt trails, rock scree, ridges, ocean overlooks, and pine forests.  What DuVal does NOT have is flat trails!  Good workout that has to be beneficial in my quest to become stronger on uphills.
CMP:  Drove past here recently, and wanted to come back to explore.  It was much smaller than I imagined, with a single loop trail of 0.8 miles, although there are plans (according to info at the kiosk) to add an additional trail.

Weekly Mileage:  53

Weekly Synopsis:  Best marathon recovery ever!  Granted some of it had to with being away and wanting to make the most of destination running, but still, looking back since I started tracking weekly mileage electronically, this is the biggest post-marathon mileage week by far:
Highest post-marathon weekly mileage.




It's rare for me to make the WTAC club leaderboard at all, but 53 miles and 5,208' elevation the week after a marathon is more than I had envisioned!  Feeling great.