Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Weekly Log 29-Oct to 4-Nov-2012

Monday:  6 miles

Light rain, breezy.  Ran a route mostly on quiet Maine country roads, before the last mile on busy Route 1 ahead of a day of some outlet shopping and seafood dining.

Tuesday:  8
Woke up in coastal Maine, actually disappointed I wouldn't be running in the storm as it already passed.  Wanted to get going early to get back to Westerly, besides, today was my day of "outlet shopping" at one of my favorite stores:  NH State Liquor store.
Back in Westerly, I ran Shore Road out to Weekapaug, where I hit a roadblock in the form of a National Guard Humvee blocking the Weekapaug Bridge, supported by two RI State Police cruisers (how many officials does it take to screw in a light bulb?).  Talked to the Guardsman for a while to try to persuade me to pass; he said I had to stay off the roads, so when I asked how about if I cross the bridge and then run on the beach he said, "If I'm looking at the ocean, and I don't see you run by me, then I'm none the wiser."  YES!  Unfortunately, just got past him when the state trooper yelled for me to come over and have a talk.  He explained the road was under 6 feet of sand and even the beach was unpassable.  I tried to tell him it was much longer if I took the roads back home, and he said he sees me running everywhere and had every confidence I'd make it. Darned! 

Wednesday:  12
Early morning run out to Avondale, Watch Hill, Misquamicut, and home.  Surveyed the damage from Hurricane Sandy; see photo essay here:

Hope no one got caught inside
this, or at least none of my
WTAC team mates!

This guy wasn't
letting me through to

This used to be the path
from Watch Hill to
East Beach - now littered
with snowfence and
lifeguard chair strewn
by Sandy

All that's left of snowfence
is the posts
Hundreds of moon
jellies washed up

Never seen an underground
sprinkler system on the beach;
must be one of those
new-fangled kinds

The beach is now separated by
a river!  What to do here?

Even a gazelle can't jump the
river - it's wading time.  Boy,
is that water cold.

Looking down the middle of
Atlantic Ave, Misquamicut.
How many feet of rocks and sand
bury the asphalt road?

Corner of Maplewood and

Looking down Maplewood;
Mile 3 of the Fun Run course looks a
little wet today

More debris on Atlantic Ave

This guy's windows and shingles are blown away
and concrete steps destroyed.

There's clearly nobody supposed to be here, and I don't need to be arrested, so I go back on the beach, re-ford the rivers, and run far enough up to Watch Hill where I can exit to a road.  Ran back Ocean View Highway and hit another National Guard block at Shore Road.  The National Guard asked me how I got here and chewed me out for running without ID, but eventually let me pass on Shore Road through the next checkpoint.  Wierd running down closed Shore Road where the only vehicles are National Grid and Humvees.

Thursday:  0
Rest day.

Friday:  11
Tom and I pushed back our usual 4:45AM start on account of relaxed work days and desire to run trails in the light.  Ran through Woody Hill Management and new Wahaneeta Preserve trails.  Had a really good run, but was dismayed by the sheer amount of damage and trees fallen on the trails.  Especially bad on the double-track sections more wide open; better on the single-track and around the marsh.
Intermittent pace crossing the trees.  Usual Gazellousquet rapid pace on last mile on road at a 6:08 pace. 

Saturday:  8
Ran Li'l Rhody course with Mike B, Matthew and his friend Jonny Eckel.  Got pretty scratched up running through briars, around trees, falling (of course!), etc.  Trees down in multiple spots that will need clearing, especially between campground and Buckeye Brook Road, and again near Kings Factory.  Picked up and moved many small branches, but will need equipment for larger stuff.  Contacted RI NEMBA (mountain biking group), they informed that NBX has crew working Sunday morning, working with them to see best approach for further clean-up.
Mike showed as the latest of our WTAC runners shod in new trail shoes!  He also showed up in some cool Nike thermal gloves, which I saw at the Nike outlet in Maine for $20+ but was too cheap to buy, yet I had no problem dropping $61 for a bottle of scotch - is there something wrong with my priorities?
Played football with my boys in the afternoon, before setting up my annual bonfire on the front lawn to greet trick-or-treaters for one of my favorite holidays, Halloween, which was rescheduled to Saturday in Westerly due to Sandy.

Rescheduled Halloween:
annual night of fires, freaks, and frights

Sunday: 9
Tarzan Brown race.  See separate write-up.
Weekly run mileage:  54

Weekly round-up:
Wierd week with the Maine trip, storm, loss of power, re-routed roads, Halloween postponement, etc.  Still managed to get in a lot of miles, and all quality miles.  Running the trails Fri and Sat with friends, and then Tarzan Brown Sun was all a cool way to end the week.
Next week's running priorities for me will be ensuring the Li'l Rhody course is passable, final race and 2013 WTAC event planning, and looking to hammer it in Avondale.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Charlestown FOP 5K

17:38.  PR!  4th overall; 1st in age group.  Results here.

Warmed up by running the course with Jonny and Muddy.  Had ruled out a PR in my mind with the wind in several sections, mostly notably on the bike course.
Start of 2012 race
Jonny took off ahead at the start, and after settling I was probably about eighth place.  The first mile went on a new section with a turn-around and you could see the oncoming runners.  By mile 1, Jonny was out in 2nd and I was running with Muddy as we both passed the guy in 3rd at that time - he did not seem happy with our move.  Mile 1 - 5:39.
Chasing Jonny coming off the bike course
Sprint to the finish and a new PR!

By mile 2, we had come back into the park.  Muddy had surged ahead into 2nd, with Jonny and I behind.  Mile 2 - 5:39.
The end of mile 2 should signal the start of a faster mile, but unfortunately that 3rd mile brought us on to the windiest section - the bike course.  I could feel the wind just sapping my strength heading out, and after the turnaround I tried to regain what energy I could.  The back half of the bike course was better, and I finished mile 3 in a slower 5:47, then sprinted in the final 0.11 in 5 flat.  Results:  a new PR by two seconds!

Another fun and record-setting day for Team WTAC!
PRs were the order of the day for WTAC, with Mike B notching one, as well as Mike C taking a minute plus off his PR.  Jonny PR'd with an impressive 17:21, and Muddy just missed his with a 2nd place finish at 17:12.  Rhody Seth and neighbor Jonny Eckel also notched new PRs.  A great day all around.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Weekly Log 22-Oct to 28-Oct-2012

Monday:  0
Needed rest day

Tuesday:  7 miles
Local Misquamicut roads.  Warmed up for 10 minutes, then threw in some speedwork in the form of 2 x 1-mile, with 90 seconds recovery.  Ran 5:29 and 5:40.  Disappointed with how winded and exhausted I was.  Jogged back on the beach and home.

Wednesday:  13 miles
Newly blazed "white trail"
in Wahaneeta Preserve
Opted to get my longer trail run in mid-week instead of the day before a 5k, like I did last weekend.  10 miles on trails in Woody Hill Mgmt Area and Wahaneeta Preserve, the rest on surrounding roads.  The double track in Woody Hill was still gravelly, but the single track was nicely padded with new fallen leaves.  Bonus in Wahaneeta - newly blazed trails!!  Looks like they're still under construction, as they led to an area where I ran out of blazes and ran out of trail, but excellent work and holds promise - e-mailed the land trust for more info.

Thursday:  4 miles
Early morning run in the dark; 48 degrees.  Tom Harvey loop.

Friday:  7 miles

445 club with Tom.  Ran from Tom's house through Weekapaug in the dark.  Highlights were running on Fenway Beach and past the newly opened Weekapaug Inn.  I felt we really pushed the pace today:  6:38 overall, with miles 2/3/4 6:20/6:11/6:23, and the final mile 6:29 uphill.

Saturday: 5
Easy pace; Westerly Hospital loop, finishing up on Mastuxet trails.

Sunday:  8
Charlestown FOP 5K race.  See separate write-up.
Weekly totals:  44 miles

Next week:  running in Maine early in the week, then Tarzan Brown in Mystic on weekend.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Run for the Pumpkins 5K

Sunday, October 21, 2012
18:30.  3rd overall of 81, 1st in age group.  Results.

Most years this race had about 35-40 runners; two years ago this race had 17 runners and was in jeopardy of becoming another defunct local Westerly area race.  Steve and I approached the town on behalf of WTAC, and the WTAC took over the management of the race while the town continues to fund the race and order most of the supplies.  Last year we had 50+ runners, and this year we had a record 91 registrants and 81 finishers!
It was a fair amount of work getting online registration setup, listed on various web sites, working with the WHS and their PE program, liaising with the town, ordering bagels, etc., not to mention matching piles of shirts with bibs on our kitchen island Saturday night, and our refrigerator stacked with 70+ bottles of water, but in the end to see so many participants and to hear so many people expressing that they enjoyed it, it was all worth it!  We'll adjust for the small things that didn't go great (not enough 1st place medals - had to improvise, some kids who preregistered still didn't get sizes they ordered), and continue to improve for 2013.

Man, that guy is old!
My own personal race performance was less than stellar, but more importantly, I did have a good time out there in the beautiful fall weather.  After shuffling positions getting out of Cimalore Field, , I think all the top positions were settled and didn't change.  Jonny took off in his usual rocket start, the eventual winner passed him just outside the park, and for the rest of the race I saw the back of Jonny's WTAC-emblazened singlet in front of me, albeit getting farther and farther away from me!

Team WTAC at race
I came through the first mile in 5:44, and then gazelling through downhill sections to a course elevation low of 57 feet, I found myself 10-20 yards behind Jonny.  And then the hills came!  I knew Jonny would gain on me on the 95' hill climb, but I didn't realize how much.  Coming into the 2 miler marker, I had slowed to 6:14 pace.  For the rest of the race, Jonny had a football field plus lead over me.  Coming back into Cimalore Field, I had a birds-eye view of the lead guy finishing in 17:45, Jonny in 18 flat, and I finished 31 seconds behind him.  Fellow WTAC'ers Mike B and Riyan rounded out the top 5 in 19:10 and 19:47.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Weekly Log 15-Oct to 21-Oct-2012

Monday:  0
Nice recovery day for the bruised and tired legs after approximately a 60-mile week.

Tuesday:  10
Very windy this morning, so I opted for a run in the woods.  Although I'm loving my Woody Hill exploring, I wanted to try something different and was inspired by Jonny's Li'l Rhody course run last week.  Simple and easy to follow, yet I never thought of it (that's 'cuz Jonny is smarter than me).

Parked at Burlingame picnic area.  A mile warm-up, and I'm off.  Tried to simulate race-day by pushing my first mile hard on Sanctuary Road before taking the single-track into the campground.  I thought it would be muddier given last night's rain, but not too bad.  Slid off a wet wooden bridge near the covered bridge, but managed to stay upright. 
Was warm on the trail, but was chilly,
even whitecaps, at race start/finish
I was fatiguing and slowing in the normal spot for me - the 5th mile, after heading south from Buckeye Brook Road.  Wanted to take a break here, but that wouldn't be simulating race day, now would it?  Finished the last couple miles on trails, then hoofed it on the roads back and pushed stop right at crossing the painted white finish line.  Results?  51:42!  How can that be?  My time last year was 53:22, and my PR is 51:47.  Do I need to add in some factor for getting stuck behind runners, especially before Klondike?

Wednesday:  3
A 3-miler was all I could fit in this morning between 3:45AM phone calls from work and leaving for the train at 5:30AM.  At least I got out there.  Beautifully starry sky.  Quiet Misquamicut roads - never saw any cars.   Downside: 37o.  Time to go up to the attic this weekend and get out my winter running gear.

Thursday:  0
Over-tired; wasn't in to it.

Friday:  8
66, sprinkling rain, WINDYHow much does wind affect performance?
Ran a 15-minute warm-up, then prepared to re-run Tom's declining ladder speed work-out (5 minutes hard, half of that [2.5 min] recovery, 4 hard, etc.).  Running on pancake flat Atlantic Ave, what I neglected to figure was the 20 mph wind I'd be running into.  Instead of bagging it, decided to run the 5 and 4-minute portions into the wind, then turn around and see pacewise how my 3, 2, 1 minute, and :30 second slices worked:
Not surprisingly, significant faster paces running with the wind, but I had never quantified it before now.

Saturday:  14
Early morning run from the Y to Barn Island and back with Mike B and Jeff D.

Always a fun run out to the Barn and back.  About 5 miles on trails, balance on roads.  Downsides this time were so many hunters with guns and getting feet soaked on trails - I thought the dirt single-track would be soaked and gravel double-track would be fine, but it was the other way around.  The hunters were using dogs to rouse pheasants; we saw one pheasant on the trails.  The hunters were fine and polite; just seemed a little freaky to me.

Sunday:  4
Run for the Pumpkins 5K.  See separate write-up.
Weekly running total:  39 miles

Week in review:
The highlights for me were my Tuesday romp on the Li'l Rhody course, and a fun Saturday morning 14-miler.  My biggest success for the Sunday Pumpkins race was after all the work, just seeing it all go successfully with a minimum of bumps in the road, and seeing a record "crowd" participate this year.
Next up is the Charlestown Police 5K on Sunday.  I'm hoping to get some good running in early to mid-week, and then shorter runs (5-8 miles?) Friday and Saturday, but we'll see what life throws at me.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Weekly log 08-Oct to 14-Oct-2012

Monday: 13 miles
Morning - 9 miles.  Early morning through Avondale and out to Watch Hill.  Was chilly at start - 42 degrees.  Got onto East Beach and ran the 3+ miles back to Misquamicut and home.  Wanted to test myself on the beach, and laid down a 6:06 mile.  Feeling pretty good. 
Afternoon - 4 miles.  Guestimate of the amount I ran with the boys on a Columbus Day afternoon inside the Foster Farm cornmaze in Hopkinton.  It was pretty fun.

Tuesday:  0

Wednesday:  6
Resumed the 445 club with Tom.  Found a new road for him by running him up the hills in No Bottom Pond in the dark.  Good times.

Played around with Strava this afternoon, got the above image to load.  You can see Tom and I were cruising on the road portions until we hit the beach mile 4 and 5. 
I had no sooner created a Strava account and uploaded my Nipmuck marathon results, when a message came up on my screen, "Hey, you stole all my Nipmuck CRs!".  Got a good chuckle, Seth, thanks!

Thursday:  0
Alarm went off at 4:30, went back to sleep.  Lazy, lazy, lazy ...

Friday:  13 miles trails
Morning:  6 miles.  Parked at Wahaneeta, tried running new trails there and Woody Hill.  One ended up in lots of "No Trespassing" signs; OK, cross that one off.  Much of Woody Hill is flat, but found a cool downhill gazelling trail from a rock outcropping.  Then proceeded to get lost.  How can I get lost in Westerly?  Oh, yeah, Woody Hill Management Area is 819 acres.  Ended up somehow at the dam at Woody Hill Marsh, so I could find my way back from there, now late, but just in time to get back to my car to a take an 8:30 conference call, where they wanted to pick my brain on how to find underlying revenue entities for credit default swaps.  Ugh - can't we just talking about running instead?

1 mile deep into the woods:
Remainder of stone steps,
foundation, and chimney
From the dam at Woody Hill Marsh

Late afternoon:  7 miles.  Felt I left too many questions unanswered from this morning (regarding the trails, that is), and once work ended, returned back to Woody Hill to try to find out where certain trails went.  Looped around past the marsh again, onto some soft leaf covered trails, and ended up on Quarry Road up in Bradford, before backtracking.

Saturday:  10
First frost, 31 degrees at sunrise.  Delayed running until noon, when it was sunny and low 50s.  Worked for today, but I'm going to have to "man up" and face the cold as winter approaches.
Trails yesterday and tomorrow, so took to the roads today.  Ran familiar 10-mile Weekapaug/Misquamicut loop, except spiced it up a bit with Tom's declining intervals drill with 1/2 recovery (5 min hard, 2.5 recovery, 4 hard, 2 recovery, etc.).  Ran the 5-minute and 4-minute portions at 5:36 and 5:37 pace, respectively, then was unable to record splits for remainder.  Finished the drill down to 30-second intervals, but disappointed I wouldn't have splits.  Was upset at my watch on the way back, until I figured out it was ... ahem ... operator error.

Sunday:  17
Very fun run at sunrise with Jonny and the Mudster.  Met at trailhead off Sand Hill Road in Voluntown, then headed north on Narragansett Trail.  This section was very rugged along the river, but once we crossed over to Nehantic on west side of Green Fall Pond, the trail got runnable again, although more blazes would have been helpful.
Today's trail run:
Clockwise from red pin, up to Beach Pond, and back

Bloodied, bruised, and muddied:
Are those some good looking legs
or what?
My proud badge of honor from today's
Took Nehantic north to Nehantic-Pachaug Crossover Trail east to Pachaug, then Pachaug northbound.  This was very well marked.  Went down early on rocks - a little painful as the knees, and shin bones caught the rocks pretty good, but got up quickly and continued as a crazed trail runner should.
Crossed over 138 and then up to 165, where we headed east across Beach Pond and RI state border, and took Tippecansett south.  This was perhaps my favorite trail of the day.  Wound along the southeast side of Beach Pond, with soft pine needle underfooting, and several good uphill and downhill sections.   Then followed southerly along the state line, until we hit the gravel road to bring us back westbound back into CT and to our cars.  Good honest workout at 2:11:xx, but as we discussed, still with enough energy not to be a couch-potato for the rest of the day.  Headed home for a couple of hours of yardwork on a very windy day that was still enjoyable to be outside.

Weekly totals:  59 miles

Week assessment
Pretty high mileage week for me, despite taking two days off.  Had some really good running sessions this week.  This was my only non-race weekend between Labor Day and Thanksgiving, and I really enjoyed have the weekend free to run longer.  There are just so many races in the fall, but I do think I need a weekend break at least once a month.  Food for thought going forward.  In the meantime, I'll try to add some midweek mileage and a Saturday mid-distance run (12-ish?) before running the hilly Run for the Pumpkins Sunday.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Strides 5K

Sunday, October 7, 2012
5K - 17:40.  1st overall.  A new PR, by 9 seconds!  Results here.
Race start: 
Left:  my boys on either side of me, plus neighbor Jonny in front round out Westerly contingent
Right:  Slowly, but surely, the WTAC singlet clad running team is growing!
Mile 1:  From the gun, a half-dozen or so youngsters sprinted out in front of me.  Put them behind me 200 yards out, and now just had to contend with the guy I could hear right on my heels.  Dang.  About 1/2 mile in, he came right up next to me and then I could see him:  a 20-something runner.  We ran shoulder-to-shoulder through the first mile at 5:40, and then I tried to focus to listen to which of us was breathing harder as the best indicator I could think of.  Good, it was him!
Mile 2:  Into the 2nd mile, there was a slight uphill (more of a speed-bump compared to anything on Nipmuck!) and that was enough for him to drop a few paces behind me.  Kind of like what happens to me when Jonny and I go up a hill!  At a 90-degree angle I glanced back and saw him still hanging about 100 yards behind me now.  Back on to the main road and now 2-way running traffic, it was hard for me to run the tangents with so many runners (200+ field size) coming at me.  Some mangy looking guy was weaving and crashed into me!  The cop car got stuck in traffic, cars and runners, so I went around him until he put on his siren and got back ahead of me to clear a path.  Finished mile 2 in 5:54, kind of normal for me drop a bit slower the 2nd mile, but I also wonder if the traffic-jam added a few seconds for me.
Last turn before the finish
Photo courtesy Beth Eckel
Pouring it on close to finish
(Thanks to Jana for photo)

Mile 3:  Getting tired.  With about 1/2 mile to go, a spectator yells to me that the 2nd runner is 50 yards behind me and closing.  I was hoping for an easier cruise in, but time to kick it in with all I have left.  As I turned into the entrance to Camp Harkness, I wanted to look back but knew I shouldn't waste the effort so I just poured it on.  17:40 finish!  Final mile 5:39; 1/10 portion 5:04 pace. The 2nd guy finished almost a minute back; my guess is I lost him when I kicked it in starting 1/2 mile back.
Final steps before breaking the tape
In 4th place overall, my hero of the day:
Matthew kills his PR and goes SUB-20!!!
(Final time 19:50, overall pace 6:24)
I got the biggest chuckle when I went to see the posted results, and two guys in front of me were looking at the results, as one said to the other, "The guy that won ran 17:40, and check this out, he's 48 years old!".  Ha!  Ha!  I know Father Time is coming to get me one of these days and slow me down, but ...   Today is not that day!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Weekly Log 01-Oct to 07-Oct-12

Monday:  0
Walking post-marathon went well most of the day, until this event at WHS in the evening where you walked to your child's class for each of his 7 periods.  Up stairs, down stairs, across campus, up stairs, back across campus, more stairs ... 
I didn't get any sympathy from my son Mark, who said, "Dad, I do that every single day, and with a backpack."  Not the day after running a trail marathon, son, ...

Tuesday:  0
Better, but a day off still needed.

Wednesday:  8+ miles
6 miles roads, 2+ on the beach on a foggy day.  Misquamicut/Weekapaug loop.  All felt good until the only uphill on the course, right in the neighborhood.  Ouch!  The legs were not happy.  Stay away from hills the next day or two.

Thursday:  4+
Local roads in Misquamicut, plus a mile on the deserted beach.

Friday:  5
Late afternoon 72-degree fall run. 3 miles trails hopping in Champlin, balance roads getting to and fro.  Mike G will be happy to know that in true form, I came out muddy and bloody.  Went down hard tripping on a leaf-covered root.  Really, dude, you stayed vertical for 26.2, but fell in your proverbial backyard?
Highlight:  On my favorite trail, seeing two runners coming at me:  Matthew leading one of his WMS X-C 'mates, and proselytizing him to the ways of trail running.

Saturday:  12
6AM with Mike B.  Y to Boombridge to North Stonington, Anthony to Ashaway, and Potter Hill back.  Solid 7:14 pace overall; longest and fastest run since my marathon; legs feel it.
Highpoint:  Catching up with Jeff Duda, who was out running a 17-miler training for Philly.  He joined us for 5 miles.
Lowpoint:  A dog mid-way that interrupted our run and followed us for a few miles, as we were trying to get the dog to drop out of our run and go back to its house.

Sunday:  5
Strides 5K.  See separate write-up.

Weekly running total:  34 miles

End of week musings:
  • Gotta love Mike C's persistence.  After grinding it out at the Nipmuck Trail Marathon just a few days ago, sounds like he's ready to sign up for next year's.
  • As for me, you know that successful "Couch-to-5K" program?  Well, I'm thinking about a 5K-to-Couch program.  If anyone has the link for that or TrailMarathon-to-Couch program, pass it on.  I figure if we can get a few more local runners into the Blogosphere, I can run vicariously from the couch while I surf others' blogs and times.  Maybe I can take up binge drinking and chain smoking as well.  It's gotta be easier than this marathon pain.
  • Speaking of Blogosphere, a big welcome to Seth who recently joined the ranks!  I hear he's even considering filling out a WTAC application.
  • Sounds like we also have a few local newbies ready to sign on for the Li'l Rhody this fall:  Mike B, Mike C, Seth, and Matthew, with Tom at least a maybe.  Should we print up some version of "High Fall Risk" stickers for them?!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Nipmuck Trail Marathon

3:50:51.  5th place overall.  Results here.

The day had arrived.  No more fretting about what to wear, how many GUs to bring, mid-point drop bag strategy, etc.  Met up at Mike C's house at 6AM in the dark and we're off.  It helped having someone to talk strategy and running in general on the 1-hour drive up.  Arrived with the better part of an hour to check-in, perform "duties", position the drop-bag on the trail at midpoint (after 12 miles on the southern leg, the mid-point was also the start and finish point), and mingle with Seth and a couple of guys Mike knew.

Pre-race remarks from RD
The photo isn't blurry; all the runners
were shaking with trepidation

Muddy section at start
turned out to be one of the
few on course

Mike, Seth, and I all had "High Fall Risk" stickers,
but theirs as was most were yellow and mine was orange.
I thought it was random, but the RD said orange was especially
for those trail marathon newbies with a really high risk!
The gun went off at 8 sharp, with the start on a road about 100 yards before converging into the trail.  I settled into about 10th place.  I found several people passing me right away.  Am I going too slow?  The terrain got very technical about 1 mile in as we went downhill through a rock garden.  I heard "On your left" as an older gentleman (yes, it's possible for a trail runner to be even older than me) went flying past me through the rock garden, cut in front of me, then wiped out completely on the rocks.  I hesitated for a moment until he yelled "Go!" and so I did.

I stayed in my place for a while.  The two guys in front of me were talking about the ultras they had run, and making me feel like I either didn't belong here or was too far up, but by mile 3 I got my confidence and started passing people.  At mile 5 when we crossed a road, a volunteered shocked me by yelling that I was in 6th place!  I passed two guys in front of me to go into 4th, and then on a downhill gazelle style I overtook the 3rd place runner.  I was in the 3rd place at the turn-around of the southern leg (mile 6), and scarfed down some cookies and water at the aid station.

Normally I don't like turn-arounds, but from here on in, the race was often lonely, so I really enjoyed seeing all the runners on the way back, most offering "good job", "looking good", etc.  Quickly saw Seth and then a ways back high-fived with Mike.  I got passed on an uphill to move into 4th, and then on a flat section a mile from the mid-point I retook the 3rd, where I remained through the mid-point and start of the northern leg.  OK, still feeling good at mile 12 (that feeling wouldn't last much longer!).

I kept 3rd place for the next 5 miles until a trail junction where blue blazes went both directions and I took the wrong turn.  By the time I back-tracked, I got passed again.  I hadn't seen anyone in 5 miles, so we chatted for a bit as he passed me.  Now the terrain got ugly!  At about mile 17, I was running up this very steep rocky single-track and my legs were just burning.  I made it about 2/3 up, when I figured what's the difference of running 12+ minute mile here or walking maybe 14-minute mile, so I decided to walk the steep uphills (about 3) for remainder.  I made it into Boston Hollow for second turn-around, walked up the long slippery wooden staircase built into the hill, and trekked on.

Nipmuck elevation changes, especially miles 15-20, were a force to be reckoned with

Boston, by comparison
About mile 18, I got passed by a guy much younger than me and I just kept my course, slower and slower and slower.  It seemed to take forever to reach the aid station at Iron Mine Lane, and when I got there even though I was probably about mile 22, I was on fumes and stopped for 2+ minutes to scarf down fig newtons, oranges, and watermelon.  OK, just get me home now.  There was a nasty gravel road uphill that just wouldn't quit - ran most of it, but walked the final section.  Back on the trails, I saw llamas - an ethereal illusion?  No, there were really llamas, on the edge of a farm.  Can't be long now, but it seemed to just be turn after turn after turn and getting very hard to jump over even the smallest of logs now.  Finally the finish!  I just held off the the 6th place finisher behind me, and broke 4 hours, something I had not expected.
The finish line was the most welcome sight
all day
Changed, toweled off, and got some vegetarian chili to refuel.  By then, Seth had come through in an impressive 13th place at 4:12!  He and I hung out and chatted along the trail for the next couple of hours, while I made many return trips for cookies, brownies, and all sorts of junk food - I earned it!
Mike came through, and while he didn't hit his target time, it was a solid effort and impressive first marathon finish in good spirits.  Compared notes and trail difficulties for the hour ride home.  A good day.
PS - Cyberstalked later to find Muddy set a new marathon PR in NH.  Also heard that Mike B won another 5K 2nd day in a row.  Congrats gents.