Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Weekly Log 21-Jul to 27-Jul-2014: Blessing and Crabman

I went from running 76 miles the previous week down to 26 this week!  Fortunately this is an anomaly, as I was tapering for a double-race weekend and getting in ride and swim miles to boot.  Here's my story:

19 miles.  First time on the bike in almost three weeks, due to being overseas.  Solo ride out to and through Quonochontaug.  Have to resume getting longer rides in before Rhode Warrior.

5 miles.  Tuesdays in summer means Stonington Fun Runs for me.  Turned it into a progression run with average 5:50 pace.

0.4 miles.  Group swim.
5 miles.  Two miles on the beach, followed by three at Westerly Fun Run at easy pace, mostly with Chris G as both of us running Blessing.

Thursday:  0

11 miles.  Blessing of the Fleet.

This was my 12th annual running of the Blessing of the Fleet, my first race in my new age group, and my only remaining race that I have run every year since I started running.  My record to date:

2003:  1:11:53
2004:  1:07:46
2005:  1:08:31
2006:  1:06:25
2007:  1:05:16
2008:  1:04:03
2009:  1:06:34
2010:  1:02:43
2011:  1:06:25
2012:  1:17:21 *paced a 12-year old Matthew
2013:  1:07:47 *pacer for Matthew - huge improvement for him

Sunny weather, but not too hot with temps in the low 70s and decent humidity.  How will I fare this year?   I have an overly aggressive "A" Goal of sub-60, another aggressive "B" Goal of a PR, and a "C" Goal of just have fun to avoid the possibility of a pouting miserable weekend.  Headed to Narragansett with Mike B, and Jana dropped us off in plenty of time for us to take care of business, warm up, and schmooze with running friends old and new.

Early miles (start to Mile 3):  Lined up about 5 rows back.  Chit-chatted with a few runners while anxiously awaiting the starting gun.  Finally the chaos begins, at least for the next 1/4 mile as runners meander through and past one another.  Towards the end of Mile 1, give my Mom a sweaty high-five and continue to Ocean Road.  Mile 1 - 5:44.  Whoa, a bit too fast there.  I see Muddy just ahead of me and Chris and Jonny a little ways ahead of him.  Ignore Muddy and the urge to run up to him; run your own race.  I narrowly avoid becoming one of those he describes in his blog post as running past him and he knows he'll catch later.  About 2 miles in, a young boy hands Glen Guillemette a cold water bottle from his cooler, and after taking a few gulps, he says he doesn't want to waste it and hands it to me.  Nice!  That water was COLD and good.  I run miles 2 and 3 with easing up just a tad, comfortable and fast at 5:54 and 5:55.

Suffering middle miles (4 - 6):
Still felt good on Mile 4 approaching Scarborough, but something must be wrong with my new Garmin because the pace shows as spiking up into the high 6:1x range.  Checked it a few more times (sorry, Greg) convinced it was wrong, but no, I'm running into the slight wind and now open sun.  I close mile 4 at 6:13, and this is before I hit Route 108.  OK, "A" Goal is out the window; let's see what I can salvage.  Mile 5 I feel like I'm overheating and dehydrating as my saliva is clammy; not good.  I pass Tom Gruczka, frequent Li'l Rhody runner and swim coach, and we exchange commiseration.  Mile 5 I keep in check at 6:12, but Mile 6 on hot sunny Route 108 I balloon all the way up to 6:21.  Ugh!  I figure my "B" Goal is unattainable, let's go into fun mode for my "C" Goal and enjoy the upcoming dark neighborhood (dark as in very little sunlight penetrating the canopy of trees, not as in supernatural and evil).

The finish (Miles 7 - end):  I get a little bit of a 2nd wind and return to a 6:09 pace for Mile 7.  I get some encouragement from the Principes spectating here, and I start to do needed pace calculations for remaining miles to hit my "B" Goal, and it's actually sounding plausible now!  Just stay under a 6:30 - I'm suffering, but think I can do it.  Mile 8 is a 6:13, and Mile 9 slows slightly to a 6:17.  Slight downhill to the finish.  It actually goes by quickly and I finish Mile 10 in a 6:01!
Finish line in sight.  Trying to avoid friction by keeping my feet off the ground.
(Photo by Jana)

Final stats:  1:01:32, average 6:09 pace.  44th of 2,881 overall.  2nd of 275 in my new age group.  Getting old has its advantages!  Full results here.

PR!  Lifetime PR at Age 50!  Psyched!  Celebration time now with WTAC and other running friends, many of whom had PRs themselves.  I had never come close to placing in my age group, and shocked to find out the next day that I placed 2nd!!!  Caught up with Mary Camire, who explained the awards are selections of running shorts and tops from her store, but I would have had to stay until 8:30 for awards, an hour past when we left and had a celebratory dinner with Mike B, Jonny, and Chris.  The results were enough of an award for me.

Saturday:  0
Tired and legs a bit sore.

0.3 miles.  Crabman.
11 miles.

5 miles, including short warm-up and cool-down.  

Crabman Triathlon.

The legs are still reeling from Friday's all out race (yes, I have plenty of excuses!), but the Crabman has become an annual tradition for me.

1:04:06.  25th overall.  2nd in age group.  Results here.

Geek notes:  This was the first triathlon using my new Garmin Fenix 2 Multisport watch.  Selected "multisport - triathlon" mode on the beach, pressed "Start" just before the swim, pressed "Lap" each time I crossed a mat, et voilà, it uploaded really neat onto Garmin Connect, and even uploaded T1/T2 as "Transition", which I had never seen before.  Strava on the other hand, not so neat, it couldn't figure out what to do with these activities and gave me errors as well as classifying beginning to end as a 14+ mile swim, but fortunately I could export GPX files individually out of Garmin Connect and then import into Strava.

Swim:  9:08.  Slow, but 10th out of 27 finishers in my age group is better than I expected.
Yes, the swim is done!
(Photo courtesy Beth Eckel)
The water is really choppy today, and I struggle more than usual.  On the way out to the first buoy there is more physical contact with other swimmers than normal, as the waves are tossing us around.  I got kicked in the chin pretty hard.  Just after rounding the first buoy, I got punched in the head right near my eye and my goggle filled up with water.  Tried to keep going, but had to stop to drain and fix my goggles.  Can't see the 2nd buoy for a while with the waves, but manage the rest of the swim without further incident.

Bike:  31:59.  4th of  27 in age group.  Average 20.5 mph.  Decent, but not great - on a short course like this, I would have expected faster.
Out of T1, and onto the bike
(Photo Beth Eckel)
In T1, I see Mike B just ahead of me, and he exits T1 as I'm still fiddling around.  Based on my T1 time, I'm guessing I spent too much time combing my hair and applying my mascara there.  Finally get out to the road and mount my bike, but it seems to take me a while to get into my groove.  I pass Mike B, and then on Moonstone Beach Road, I see Vinnie on the side of the road.  I muster a half-wave.  He doesn't wave back.  No problem; he's probably engaged in the race-at-large.  I'm wondering if Vinnie came solo or if he came with Beth, when just ahead, I see Beth flagging riders onto Route 1.  She does acknowledge me.  How she can identify individual cyclists out of the helmeted, crouched, blurred mass is indeed a mystery to me.  The rest of the ride is uneventful, except over the last few miles I pass and get re-passed by a guy in a Timex outfit several times.  He isn't in my age group (much younger, but who isn't?), but it still somehow irks me that he re-passes me again just before the finish.

Run:  19:40.  Slow, but handily took 1st in age group.
Let's get the rubbery, tired legs moving.  I quickly get the last laugh on Timex boy as I easily pass him on the run, and unlike the bike he has no response.  But before I even hit Mile 1, I got passed twice in succession.  Not used to this in the tri.  Passed by two Toms!  Tom Gruczka and then by FiveK (he's allowed!).  Mile 1 and Mile 2 are a pedestrian 6:16 and 6:14.  I finally am able to get going and pick it up to a 5:56 in the final mile, fast enough to catch up to and re-take Tom Gruczka.
Finishing up the run
(Photo Beth Eckel)
Another 2nd place finish this weekend.  This one came with $75!
Finished up celebrating with friends, and went home and took a nap!

Weekly Tally:
6 miles
30 miles
0.7 miles

Highlight this week was clearly the Blessing of the Fleet.  My PR there and placing in my age group kept me on Cloud 9 all weekend.  Now time to focus on Block Island, plus somehow ramping my paltry mileage back up to respectable levels with a little over two months to fall marathon time.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Half Century Celebration

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The 50th anniversary of my birth.  My busy day started at 3:27AM, when I could sleep no longer, due in part to anxiety of the run and day as well as not yet adjusted from European time.  Here is a quick picture essay of the highlights of my day:

Start of the "50K on my 50th":
Solo start in the dark at Weekapaug Breachway

Along my run just before sunrise:
Yeah, we live in a really ugly corner of the world, but somebody has to live here
At least my run was completely flat, like
Buckeye Brook Road, Shumankanuc Hill Road, Burdickville, Chase Hill, Potter Hill
5 points for correctly guess where this is.  (I truly did see this on my
50K run; it wasn't one of those ethereal hallucinations you get on marathon  runs)

Mile 9:  I saw two runners heading my way, but couldn't make them out
with my poor distance vision.  At first, I thought, "Wow, these look like
really good runners", but then as they got closer, I saw it was just these two characters.
(This was the actual photo taken on Buckeye Brook Road, Charlestown)

Mile 15:  Meeting up with my trusty support crew to run me the
rest of the way in.  Grills Preserve, Hopkinton, at base of Chase
Hill Road.  Can you believe the first thing these two slackers did
was complain about the hill climb on Chase Hill Road and how hard it was?

I made it!  Mile 31, run finish line before a dip in the ocean.

Longest run of my life, and a pretty long run for FiveK as well.
Thanks, guys, for getting me there.

Although I truly wanted no gifts, I did receive some gifts of distinction
that fit another skill set that I have worked hard at acquiring:  fine spirits.

... and some funny gifts for my apparent urinary and constipation issues of a man my age!
(Don't laugh, Mike B, you'll be asking to borrow these from me soon!)
... and finally many funny b-day cards, interspersed with an anonymous
gift certificate to Camire's (hello new shoes!) and a RoadID engraved
with age listed as "Over the Hill" - only 1 guess allowed on who did that.
Had such a blast on this 18' high waterslide.  When I called to rent it, the company asked me
the age of the kids that would be using it.  Um, 50?  (My 53-year old cousin also jumped in.)

I'm splashing my way towards the bottom of slide above, while Muddy is wondering
if this is slide is really age-tested for me, and Jonny is at front of slide wasting no time to take
another run.  (My son Mark's remark upon seeing the slide was "Wow, Dad, I figured
you were going to rent something really lame".  He also said he was really surprised that Jonny
was so good at basketball; apparently not only is his Dad perceived as lame, but anyone
else by association.)

Running friends catching up

The best part of the day for me was spending quality time
with 50+ friends and family over the house.  Thanks everyone for making my
day so special!

(If you missed the party for any reason, I do plan on holding these every 50 years, so
plan to join me on my 100th.  If you ask Mike B, that's just around the corner!)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Weekly Log 14-Jul to 20-Jul-2014: England to Home to Half-Century Celebration

15 miles.  England canal run.  Just outside our hotel is the end of the Union Canal.  The canal system was built in 1829, includes a path alongside the canal, and goes on for over 140 miles! In fact, there an annual 145-mile canal running race held every year.   Crutch, can I sign you up for this one?

I started on busy concrete walkways in downtown areas, past train stations, etc.  However, within two miles, the path had changed to dirt (there was still an asphalt section for another mile or two so runners like B and FiveK could feel comfortable, but after that it was all dirt).  Leaving the city limits, the path turned into quiet countryside.  Saw a few runners and many cyclists.  The beauty of a canal run is canals never cross roads, so it's a continuous run.  I ran reasonably hard non-stop, with an average pace for 15 miles of 6:43.

5 miles.  Newcastle-upon-Tyne, northern England.  Took a three hour train north out of London, and spent the night here. 
The former (Quayside) is where we ran today;
the latter must be a very important place in England.

Early morning run with Jana along the waterfront at
Quayside, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Again, pictures do not do this justice, but today's outing, scenery, and history was just awesome.
Even the boys were impressed, and that's not easy.
Hadrian's Wall, originally 15 feet high and 73 miles long, built in 122 AD to
demarcate the boundary of the Roman Empire.  This is inside Northumberland National Park.

Left past the wall is looking into Scotland, home of my Walker ancestry,
also on my bucket list.

5 miles.  Overnight sail crossing the North Sea, from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England to Ijmond, Netherlands, before train to Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport for the return flight home.  Ferry was actually quite enjoyable.  We had a cabin with four beds, a nice buffet dinner and breakfast, and shower before departing.
I took this shot from the stern of our ferry on our overnight crossing of the North Sea.
 This was just after 10PM local time, and there was still plenty of light.

We were all very surprised to see Seth Acton dining on our ship!
Arrived Westerly 9PM bleary-eyed, as it was 3AM European time.

My synopsis and opinion only, although it was unanimous in my family that UK by far was the best country we visited.

Most of us would like to return to a full trip to the UK only and explore the far northern and western parks.  Glacier National Park (Montana), southern CA and Quebec were also thrown out as 2015 vacation options, but maybe Dad should find a job first?  Got lucky this time to cash in 4 free round-trip tickets to Europe (frequent flier miles from India business trips); won't be so lucky next time.

11 miles.  Ran in this cool oceanside community called Westerly, Rhode Island!  Woke up at 4:30, a little confused at first.  Which country am I in today, what currency and electrical adapter do I need to use?  Oh, I'm home!

Ran very short distance through Champlin, short enough to break up the monotony of Shore Road and just long enough for a reminder that deer flies rule the roost for the next month or so.  Ran to and through Weekapaug, and then a very pleasant beach run back at low tide.  When I got to New Town Beach, I saw people waving at me.  Turned out to be Schon and Kathy Robbins, comparing OCY Tri and trying to plan for Rhode Warrior swim portion.  I think both are planning to swim with us tomorrow.

0.7 miles.  Open ocean swim with the usual suspects, plus Kathy Robbins and a few I didn't know
3 miles.  Run to Weekapaug and back to Town Beach with B, Five K, and Steve

31 miles, an ocean dip, followed by an afternoon of fun with family and friends.  Write-up to follow shortly.

5 miles.  Beach recovery run.

Weekly Tally:
76 miles!!
0 miles
0.7 miles

Monday, July 7, 2014

Weekly Log 7-Jul to 13-Jul-2014: European vacation

Looking forward to a week of vacation and running/exploring!

10 miles

Yes, I'm in Holland!

Along the many canals and footbridges that I ran today
I would need Hammett help to identify this one

My run took me along Dutch countryside
First ever visit to Italy didn't start off on the right track when I was swindled out of 40 Euros by an unscrupulous taxi driver with a sleight-of-hand trick with my bills that I didn't realize until later.  At first, I was angry for a few hours, but pickpockets and con artists are notorious in Rome, so it could have been worse and I just have to be more vigilant and move on.
5 miles.  Evening run on local narrow roads near hotel (I miss the extra wide roads in Amsterdam with bike path lanes and pedestrian lanes), but it got better once I got into a local park.
500 yards.  Outdoor pool swim with Mark & Matthew, until Mark ditched us to use the Roman Baths at the hotel!
The highlight of the day today was inside the famed Roman Coliseum,
completed in 80AD, where many gladiators met their demise

Back at the hotel, Matthew gets some Crabman
practice and fun in the outside pool
Wednesday:  0
(no running today, busy on long travel day in coastal Italy)
Amazing history here!  I think we have neat historical sites
in the USA when I visit something a couple hundred years old.

Well, we took the picture above when walking through the remains of the
famous city of Pompeii, buried by Mt Vesuvius eruption in 79AD,
and remained buried until excavated last century.  Nearly 2,000 years old,
room after room (including a brothel!) - what a gem!

On the way back, got off the train in Naples and had our best dinner yet
(mine was spaghetti w/clams) in this open air restaurant.
Matthew (on my right) is actually talking to me; Mark took advantage of
a rare wi-fi spot to connect his iPhone; Jana as usual snapping the pic.
6 miles
Late night watching Netherlands-Argentina game; after all that Netherlands lost on penalty kicks.  Slept in and went for a run before more city exploration:

In sharp contrast to Amsterdam, running on roads
 outside the hotel here in Rome is a tad precarious
due to narrow congested streets.

Fortunately, after less than 1/2 mile, I can turn off into a park
that goes on and on with many trails (dirt trail in foreground).

Surreal to see this statue inside a cave
on my run
This stunning villa (Villa Pamphili) replete with Roman
 statues  built into its walls was inside the park as well.
(Note the park is runner-friendly with 3 coming towards me)

11 miles.  Villa Pamphili park run.  Hot sweaty run.  Tried to go for a couple of Strava segments, but it's tough to know where trails line up, and my choices didn't align.
0.3 miles.  Final outdoor pool swim, before catching a late night flight to London.
Kids enjoyed climbing through Castel Sant Angelo:
Lower portion a mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian (138AD);
upper portion built in 6th century
Hard to find things that aren't "lame" for teens and you
never know what will be a hit, but this catacomb with 7 miles
of tunnels 27 feet underground with thousands of human burials
from 2nd century was a hit with them

Saturday:  0
Slept in after late flight, then busy day sightseeing.  Pink Floyd blasting in the subway system before departing London.  Cool!  My kids asked me who Pink Floyd is.  Not cool.
Spent the afternoon walking through light rain and sheep poop
in the English countryside

The guides here consider Roman history in England (starting 43AD) to be
"modern" history!  Stonehenge dates to 3000BC and we visited burial mounds
dating to 3700 BC.

Most visitors to Stonehenge see it from behind a barricade, but after Stonehenge closed to the public
at 7:30PM, we went inside the inner circle of stones on a special access tour.  Pictures just do
not do this justice.  Now how did they get the 6 tons rocks lifted on top of the standing
40 ton pillars, years ago in the stone age with primitive tools?

11 miles.  65 degrees and light rain.  I'll take this weather for running anytime.  Ran past the major sites in London, mostly inside parks.  Along the Thames, there were barricades along the roads as they were preparing for 15,000+ runners in the British 10K.  I just ran in the road before the start of the race.  British police were everywhere, but they just smiled.  Cool, I get 2 - 4 lanes of primary roads in downtown London to myself for running.
Funniest point was when I came up on a water stop staffed with dozens of volunteers and thousands of water bottles (yes, bottles, odd).  A boy about 7 or 8 yelled out "We have our first runner coming" and sprinted out into the middle of the street to hand me a water bottle.  How could I turn his offer down?  Later in the day, I saw a runner wearing a really neat British 10K technical shirt emblazoned with the Union Jack.  I would have loved one of those, but I ran most of route alone, avoided 15K+ plus people and a whopping entry fee of 50 pounds! (~$90).

Weekly Tally:
43 miles
0 miles
0.6 miles

Week recap:  Not a huge mileage week by any means, and obviously no biking, but a really, really fun week of running and exploring in neat places.