Friday, December 25, 2015

Weekly Log 21-Dec to 27-Dec-2015: Christmas Week

Monday:  0
Spent the afternoon and evening in Boston, with a holiday get-together of 11 of my former Fidelity colleagues.
I love the vibrancy of the city...

... and miss walking through Boston Common,
but am enjoying the quality of life working close to home.

Tuesday:  9
Steady rain run mid-day.  Ran from the Y through Pawcatuck neighborhoods, including hill climbs up to Pawcatuck Middle School.  Made up the run as I went along.  Saw trails on the side of the road, and followed them.  Ended up at Stonington High School. Follow some twisty single-track before ending up at another section of the high school, then ran roads back to Westerly.  Soaked, but fun!

Wednesday: 9
Ran Blue Heron trail counter-clockwise.  Took one segment as a Christmas gift to myself. Pushed the last three miles relatively hard.

Thursday (Christmas Eve):  7

Twas the night before Christmas
While shoppers milled about town,
My lack of running plans
Caused me to frown.

The weather was dreary
Foggy and no sun,
But I snapped out of my duldrums
When Muddy texted me to go for a run.

Quickly got something to eat
To get my head out of a fog,
Then donned my running gear
And headed to Weekapaug.

Despite being
A December Day,
60-degree temps
Made it feel like mid-May.

We reached Misquamicut
With nary a fuss,
Then turned onto the beach
With the wind well behind us.

The return run
Went by quickly,
Despite Muddy
Being so sickly.

Muddy was
Dripping snot,
As we returned
To the parking lot.

Matthew and Jonny
Thought we were done,
But we dragged them along
For just a wee bit more fun.

We finished up our run
And drove out of sight,
Wishing Merry Christmas to all
and to all a good night!

(With my annual apologies to Clement C. Moore)

Friday (Christmas Day):  5
63-degree solo run in shorts and singlet.  Is this really RI, or did I swap places with Chris (So Cal) or Tommy (FL)?
Merry Christmas!

Saturday:  5
Easy paced run from the Y during Matthew's indoor track practice.

Sunday:  8
Bluff Point trails.  Fun muddy, rocky, single-track.  Finally made it out to Haley Farm for the first time as well.  Didn't care for the straight route out there along the railroad tracks, but once we got there, more twisty single-track made it worth the journey.  Will return here again for sure.

Weekly mileage:  45
Yearly mileage to date:  2,180 (against a goal of 2,200)

And thus endeth the final full week of the year.  Looking forward to the week off, while planning goals for next year.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Weekly Log 14-Dec to 20-Dec-2015: OMF Week

Final week of fall, leading up to the first race in the winter trail race series.

Monday:  9
Usually my day off, but not on Mondays when I have the day off from work.  Recovery run (after Christmas 10K) around the pond, plus a little extra to make nine.  Mid-50s, rainy, and dreary.

Tuesday:  5
Morning:  Hike and gathering with the Westerly Land Trust crew at Wahaneeta.  They had the cabin open with a fire and were serving hot beverages and doughnuts to thank volunteers.  Talked trail running and trail race possibilities with WLT prez.
Evening:  7 of us gathered at our house for the 4th annual edition of a Christmas light run.  I thought it would be time for switch to Tommy's neck of the woods, but he said they're Scrooges his way.  I tried to vary a little to see more of the Chin Hill neighborhood.  Always a good time.

Wednesday:  9
Blue Heron trail loop in reverse.  39 degrees felt chilly compared to recent balmy temps. 

Thursday:  5
Another rainy, blah, balmy day.  Ran solo in Wahaneeta trails after work, fortunately with a headlamp.  Pouring rain slowed my pace and visibility.  Surprisingly, no one else was on the trails.  At one point, I was spooked by what I thought was someone talking.  I stopped and turned my light off and listened.  Owl!

Friday:  5
What is with this December?  Another warm, rainy day.  Ran the Champlin trails in the dark with Matthew.

Saturday:  5
Old Mountain Field 5K.  See separate write-up.

Sunday:  8
Around the pond run with Matthew.  Early and breezy.

Followed that up with meeting the president of RI NEMBA and 4 other members for a walk-through of new Westerly open space at Bradford Preserve.  Longest hike in a while at 6.5 miles!  Showed them existing trails and features of different parts of the non-contiguous properties.  It sounds like we have similar interests in getting trails developed.  The plan is for these to be developed in three stages, with the project duration estimated to last five years!

Weekly mileage total:  46.  Highest since September.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Old Mountain Field 5K

Wakefield, RI
Saturday, December 19, 2015

36th and final race of the year.  Stepping out of the car at Old Mountain Field, one of the first people I ran into was teammate Jonny.  He extended me a greeting of something like, "Welcome to the 4th season!".  And thus began another fun winter trail racing season.

A 36-degree start should seem warm relative to past years of deep snow and absolute frigid temperatures down into the single digits.  However, with temps into the 60s of late, it seemed a little cold.  I wanted to see as much of the course pre-race as possible, as RD Mike Galoob had significantly revamped it this year.  Ran the first two miles as a warm-up with Jonny and new WTAC member and WMS runner Aaron Tallardy.  Upon our return, a 10-minute delay was announced due to some issue with race registration entry.  This gave me enough time to swap out my long sleeve shirt for a singlet and to get a thinner pair of gloves (I actually brought three pairs of gloves, two hats, and two pairs of socks; one can never be too prepared at a winter trail race.).

Frenemy Fox was already talking smack and telling me how I'll probably fall in the mud during the race, Crutch brought his usual upbeat attitude, and Johnny Woodmansee wanted to tell me how much he really didn't like trails "this year" (so why exactly did you come here?).  Pulled away to catch up with happier teammates BLS, Jeff Huckle, and Jeff "I don't run trails" Vuono, who was out for his 3rd trail race in as many months.

The start:  The start was in the same place as recent years, except this time we ran clockwise around an adjacent field, crossed the park road where we parked, and then I entered the main trail just ahead of Turtle Bob Corsi and behind teammate Seth.  A 1/4 mile or so of uphill double-track ensued, with a stair climb up to the big rock and the top of the "mountain".  Already huffing and puffing.

Start of the race.  Conspicuously absent is snow and frigid
temps from past race years.  (All pics by Jana)
Crossing the road with Seth early on in race.
The swamp:  Now heading downhill on twisty single-track, it was clear that the young runner ahead of Seth, clad in blue Level garb, was struggling and even stumbling a bit. Fortunately, at the next opportunity Seth blew by him and I followed suit.  Seth was running well, but at a subsequent downhill section, I forged ahead.  And now there were four ahead:  Jonny leading, with Lonergan, Jackman, and Brightman on his tail.  At a rather technical rock garden, I pulled up right next to Brightman and contemplated trying to pass him.  The contemplative moment was gone, and back on to more solid ground, he pulled ahead.  The next mile or so was downright soggy, including trudging through mud, and running through ankle-deep puddles.  I tried to hang on Brightman's tail for a while, but the mud bogs were slowing me down and eventually he pulled away.
River rock crossing leaving the
wet swampy section
(Pic from previous day, but largely unchanged)

'Round the pond loop:  After leaving the swampy area for higher ground, at a 90-degree left turn I glanced back to see who was following me.  Was hoping it was still teammate Seth, but unfortunately it was Fox!  Hoofed it on the downhill single-track to the bridge crossing, and was thrilled to see the gap had widened a little. Unfortunately that didn't last, as after the bog bridge and roots section, he was just behind me entering the fields and re-entering the trails.
Dag-nabbit, I've got a Fox on my tail.

Around the pond before heading back into single-track

The finish:  Heading back into the trails, we have about 3/4 of a mile to go.  I can see Jackman ahead of me.  Jackman missed a sharp left turn, and by the time he turned around and took the turn, I jumped in right behind him for the short, but steep, single-track ascent.  The pace seemed slow as I trailed Jackman and Fox was right behind me.  It wasn't a question of if, but when to make my move to try to pass Jackman.  I decided I'd hold off until after we reached the peak, to avoid expending too much energy passing uphill.  After the climb up the stairs and to the "peak", it was time.  Whatever Jackman mumbled was incoherent, but it was clear he wasn't challenging me.  As I suspected and feared, Fox went with me as I passed.  OK, now what?  The downhill was short and now we were ascending again, this time on very twisty single-track.  I am getting really tired and decide to hold off picking it up to the top of the hill again.  At the switchback, I pick it up hard downhill and held Fox off on the downhill, even around the back of the skate park, but then on the dash across the field, I have nothing left and Fox outkicks me to finish two seconds ahead of me.  He actually was so much of a gentleman to say "Come on, Jeff", as he was passing me.
Trying hard to stay with Fox.   Can't someone just trip him?

Alas, I'm out of energy.

Still very happy with a top 5 finish.

Final:  21:16.  5th overall; 1st in age group.  Full results here.

WTAC women's team won; men's team took 2nd after Rhode Runner. Good to see so many WTAC brethren out there today.  In retrospect, knowing the chances of trying to outkick Fox, I should have pushed it hard on the final uphill for what ever chance I had to open the gap.  Hindsight.  A fun event, as usual.  I missed any cool-down and awards, as I had to head to Providence for Matthew's indoor invitational.   By then, my soaking wet feet were starting to get quite cold anyway.  A hot shower and change of clothes at the nearby South County Y hit the spot.  My legs were sore the rest of the day, and I slept well!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Newport Christmas 10K

Newport, RI
Sunday, December 13, 2015

Took a ride with Mike B and Jana over to the City by the Sea for my 35th and penultimate race of the year. Tom had sowed the seeds of a WTAC race team and outing a month or so back, and it was now coming to fruition.  After checking in and catching up with frenemies Jackman, Principe, Brightman, and Jim Ortel, I went for a warm-up with Mike B past the patrician homes of the Newport coast.  I think Mike picked out a retirement or second home along the way. 
Three geeks and Shara pre-race.
(All pics by Jana)

First 5K:  Was at the start line talking to Jeff V, when all of a sudden most of the front-runners starting running out.  What gives?  Oh, the race just started; maybe we should join as well?  After the usual shuffling, I fell into 8th place.  Net downhill first mile, 5:46 split.  Right after the first mile marker I passed a runner sporting an impressive "Ironman Finisher" shirt, and that's it for competition for the entire race.  The next couple miles are flat and beautiful hugging the Atlantic Ocean at Brenton Point.  It is a very warm and un-December like day with temps in the high 50s.  I can see FiveK and Principe battling it out, but they are getting farther and farther away from me.  Mile 2 5:56, Mile 3 5:55.
Maybe I should pay attention instead of just running my mouth?

Looks like I'm out for a casual jog at the start.

Second 5K:  My pace is slowing.  Tommy and Principe have now pulled out of my sight.  We are hitting a few rolling hills.  I am starting to tire and am really warm (the casual reader likely knows that I have no shortage of excuses). I can see no runners around me, but have many walkers (as in pedestrians, not as in relatives) in front of me.  In past years, I had much weaving to get around walkers, but this year they posed very little obstruction to me. The final three miles rolled by with little fanfare, although unfortunately at progressively slower paces:  6:02, 6:08, 6:11.  Saw Tommy for a final time on the course on a long gradual uphill straightaway, then around the next corner, we begin the climb back to the school and finish line.
Giving a hand-slap to a young supporter,
while levitating above the road

Final strides, at an interesting angle

Final result:  36:50, 7th overall, 1st in age group.  A good, but not great, race performance.  Full results here.

I finished the race, caught my breath, turned around, and here's Shara crossing the finish line as the overall female winner in a 6:10 pace.  Wow!  I better pick it up, as it looks like I'm next in line to get chicked by her!  Seriously, well done.  Next WTAC runners to finish were Jeff V, Mike B, Kevin Murphy, Shira Fuller, and Crutch.  We next ran BLS in, and then took a short trail run led by Crutch.

Team WTAC (well, most of us that raced today)

After what seemed like an inordinate amount of time, the awards ceremony was finally held.  We came in second as a men's team, but the WTAC women's team took first place!  (Hopefully Beth got her award this time.)  Then 11 of us were off to the Brick Alley Pub for food and drink replenishment.  A really fun time!
Fortunately, Mike B wasn't around to razz me
when they called out first "senior"

One of the unusual diners at our table

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Weekly Log 7-Dec to 13-Dec-15: Christmas 10K week

A week of Christmas events, including the WTAC holiday party and Christmas 10K and group lunch.

Monday:  0

Tuesday:  0
OK, Monday was planned, but today I was just lazy.  Old, fat, lazy, and sloth-like.

Wednesday:  13
Trying to end my recent torpor, I pulled a double:
Morning workout:  (8)  Needham track. 4 x mile (5:35), 2 x 800 (2:43, 2:45), 4 x 400 (81, 79, 79, 75).  Really pleased that I was able to finish this one.
Afternoon trail romp:  (5) Ponkapoag Trail.
Watch your footing on the downhill!

Freaky and dark here.  Felt like I was in
something out of the Lord of the Rings and about to
be eaten.  Just didn't know if it was going to come
 down from the forest trees or up from the bogs.

Thursday:  5
Springbrook / North End lunchtime run nearing 60 degrees.

Friday:  9
Morning:  (2.5)  With my better half on her daily route.
Evening:  (6.5)  Solo evening run.

Saturday:  5
Morning 8-pace shakeout run from WHS after dropping Matthew off at track practice.
Spent the afternoon with Mark locating, cutting, dragging, and
hefting the annual Yuletide tree (Buttonwoods Farm, Griswold, CT).  Bagged a 14-footer.
Fun traditional rite with father/son, but bittersweet in that it may
be the last one as he'll likely be far out-of-state this time next year.
Tempus fugit!

Sunday:  10
Christmas 10K team race and group lunch festivities.  A fun day across the bay.  Write-up to follow.

Week recap:  42 miles.  Meeting my weekly goal of 40 miles, but with less than 3 weeks left in the year (gulp), time to start planning for 2016.


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Weekly Log 30-Nov to 6-Dec-15

Quiet week with a respite from racing.

Monday:  0

Tuesday:  6
Welcoming December with a chilly run on my Westerly Hospital loop.

Wednesday:  5
Raw run in Needham.  Got it done, but wasn't into it.

Thursday:  5
Westerly Town Forest run.

Friday:  5
With shotgun season in RI starting tomorrow, probably my last run in Woody for the year.  Mixed in some trail clearing (ran with loppers and a bow saw) and still trying to plot a short trail from the Pumpkins turning point to the Swamp Bypass Trail.  Once that is done, you'll be able to run from Bradford Preserve all the way to Wahaneeta without running on the main gravel road.

Saturday:  11
6:30am group run with Tommy 5K and Mike B.  Fun but tiring hilly loop from the Y, out Boombridge, and back Potter Hill.  Feeling out of shape.

Sunday:  6
6:30am run with Matthew out to Ocean View Highway and back via Avondale on a frosty December morn.

Jana said it looks I'm reading a gay magazine.
Not that there's anything wrong with that.  But, no.

Weekly Mileage Total:  39

Friday, December 4, 2015

Thanksgiving Races

Much as intimated by Tommy 5K, it's a fun twist to commence your Thanksgiving holiday with a race.  Somewhere along the line, I got myself signed up for a back-to-back 5K Thursday and Friday.  Here's my holiday tale:

Not the cheapest, the closest, or the flattest, but Matthew and I signed up for this race for something different and Jana signed up to volunteer for my employer at registration.  This race had occurred in past years, but is the first time the bank was the lead sponsor as they're looking to build more brand awareness in northern RI.

Matthew and I ran basically the whole course as a warm-up.  The start/finish line was in an attractive area opposite City Hall and along the Blackstone River.  Despite the unusually large number of runners (1,316 finishers), we were able to get a front row start.

Mile 1:
Pausing after getting in a few strides just before the start
It was really neat that the police had the streets closed for almost the entire course.  After a quick 1/4 mile, I found myself in about 15th position to begin the hill climb.  A slow climb of about 100' over the next 1/2 mile.  Finished mile 1 in 5:43.  I guess not bad given the hill.
Start of the race.  Matthew (in orange) taking it out with the leaders.
Bagpiper in first mile was a nice touch.

Mile 2:  The ranks are thinning out.  I pass 2-3 more.  Coming up to a turnaround in a sort of ugly industrial area, I can see a lead pack of 7 with Matthew at the back.  Mile 2 split 5:47.
The leaders at mile 2.  Matthew bringing up the back of the lead pack.

Mile 3 and finish:  A short flat section, and then it's all downhill to the finish.  Pass a runner on the downhill, final turn and home.  5:38 final mile for my fastest mile on the day.
Gazellin' it to the finish


Matthew took 3rd overall, and I took 10th with a first in my age group. 18:03.  Full results
Shortly after finishing, they called my name up to get a plaque for winning my age group.  Excellent!  I had fears of waiting a long time in crowds for an award ceremony and being late to Mom's for Thanksgiving dinner.  This event was extremely well organized.
Really neat plaque for
winning my age group

The long sleeve tech shirt isn't bad either.

Chariho Alumni 5K
Friday, November 27

After signing up for the T-day race, I got an e-mail from fellow Chariho alum Muddy about this race.  I had taken the day off from work, and it might be my last opportunity to run in a race with Matthew for months, so why not.

In sharp contrast to yesterday's mega-road race, this was an old school cross-country race of 25 runners.  Took the first mile out hard in 5:40, but on the return from the far southern end of the course, I just plain ran out of steam.  Although I was still passing a few youngsters in Mile 2, the 2nd split was a disappointing 6:06 and my final mile a 5:57.
The race was like a large group run.
Unseasonably warm late November day in the 60s.

Trying hard to catch the 7th place guy (in red) just before, but
couldn't quite make it happen.
(The guy in blue shirt is one lap behind.)

Came close to overtaking one more on the final track section, but had nothing left.  I had aspirations of going sub-18 today, but another 18:0x day with a 18:05-ish finish (can't find results) and 8th place.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Weekly Log 23-Nov to 29-Nov-2015: Thankgiving week

Monday:  7
Late afternoon run on Mastuxet and Champlin trails. 

Tuesday:  5
Lunchtime run from North Woody.  Had fun running a loop until in the last mile I ran into two separate hunters with guns (muzzleloaders?), none of which seemed happy to see me.

Wednesday:  6
Started off my Thanksgiving long weekend on a positive note with a late afternoon run with Tommy 5K from his place, and out quiet gravel roads in Avondale.  We kept saying we'd slow the pace given we both had races the next day, yet we still ended up sub-7 pace average.

Thursday:  6
Washington Trust Turkey Trot 5K.  Write-up to follow soon.

Friday:  6
Chariho Alumni 5K.  Write-up to follow soon.

Saturday:  9
Charlestown Beach Scone Run.  Group run of 4 with FiveK, Mike B, and Vuono.  Mix of roads and beach, with scones and coffee at The Bakery at finish.

Sunday:  6
Early morning run at Bluff Point State Park.  Mix of double-track and fun twisty, single-track.  Ran out of time; will be back especially as no hunting allowed!

Weekly mileage: 44

Friday, November 27, 2015

Weekly Log 16-Nov to 22-Nov-2015: A Week of All Trails

Monday:  8
Fresh off my big PR at Rhody, I was very happy to perform my annual ritual of a second sweep of the course and facilities.  The course was in great shape, thanks to master sweepers Tammy and Mandy; the parking lot not so much.  Most runners are awesome.  Why a few thought it would be cool to leave behind soup bowls and cups, a few now ant-infested, is beyond me.

Tuesday: 6
Lunch time loop in Woody from Bradford Preserve.  Awesome fall day in the woods.

Wednesday:  9
On my way up to Wellesley for work, decided to try out a new (to me) trail system:  Adams Farm in Walpole, MA.  It was a chilly morning right around the freezing mark.  The hat and gloves that I took out the night before and absent-mindedly left on my nightstand would not help me now.  Took a quick look at the map at the kiosk, and got moving.  The trails in Adams Farm proper were well blazed and a lot of fun; once crossing the power lines into Patten Forest, not so much.
Neat frost covered field,
where I saw a pair of coyotes running (they wouldn't stop for a pic)

Some trails were well established

Some not so much

Thursday:  5
Lunchtime run in Wahaneeta.  Didn't eat my Wheaties; was feeling very weak.

Friday: 0

Saturday:  11
Barn Island:  biggest group run ever!  Ten of us came out to run with Mike B, who was returning to group runs amidst a personal tragedy of losing his father.  Ran 6 miles including Perimeter Trail and out to the Barn Island entrance off Stewart Road.  On the way out, deep in the woods we came upon a hunter up in a tree stand and surmised that he must be hating us.  Looped back to our cars, where Seth and Crutch dropped out and the rest of us sauntered on.
Do we look like we are ready for a run or the firing squad?
(Photo by Crutch)
We were at a trail juncture where the rest of the group was continuing on double-track gravel road to finish and Muddy and I were taking a twisty single-track (Shot Shell Trail).  Jonny kept looking down the single-track with wide-eyed glee, and when I told him the two trails would reconnect, he took off like a flash on the single-track.  Alas, we parted ways with the group and Muddy and I tacked on a few more miles on double/single mix.   In the end, Muddy had 10.7 miles on his watch, I had 11.0 but when I uploaded it, Garmin Connect retained the 11.0 but Strava reduced me to 10.8.  Odd?

Epilogue:  Fast forward to about 9pm that evening at the Bridge over dinner and drinks with some of my friends from high school.  I'm telling them about my run with running friends early that morning at Barn Island, when a diner at the next table interrupts me to ask, "Were you with the group of runners on the trails at Barn Island about 7am?".  I said, yes, I was in the front leading a group of ten runners, all dressed in orange, why?  He said, "Actually, most of you were in orange, but one guy was in yellow.  I know because you ran past me when I was up in a tree stand."  Oops.  Awkward.  The long story short is he was fine with us, he never saw any deer anyway, said runners sometimes flush out the deer, and we ended up buying drinks for each other's tables.  (They were drinking $2 Narragansetts; we were drinking $12 single-malts and bourbons, but that's another story.)

Sunday:  0
Rain in afternoon and low 40s.  No motivation to run in that weather.

Weekly mileage:  39
Wasn't my intention to run all trails all week, but that's the way it shook out.  Suspect that will change as we move into shotgun season starting Dec 5.


Friday, November 20, 2015

Li'l Rhody 2015!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

It was a dark and stormy night.  No, wait a minute ... wrong story.  It was a radiant autumn day amidst the falling leaves, temperatures hovering at a runner-optimal 55 degrees, sylvan trails dry and conditions ripe for crushing PRs.  After a couple of hours of placing trail signs, setting up registration, directing volunteers, chatting with friends and frenemies, and shamelessly cutting bathroom lines to take care of business, it was time to let one of my favorite annual adventures begin.

Aspirations:  Forty-two and two hundred orange-clad runners toed the white starting line, each with a different goal in mind from anything of a time-specific goal to simply having fun to BLS' perennial goal of "don't die".  My sole goals for the day were A) sub-50, and B) PR.  Technically not much difference between A and B goals, given a 2013 PR of 50:14.  I wasn't highly optimistic on either, given that I felt tired running hills in VT and NH the prior two days and that running the Rhody course eight days ago at 59 minutes, I still felt tired on the hills.  Matthew had much more confidence in me than I had in myself (maybe that's part of his success factor?)  Even Chris Fox had assured me after last year's Rhody (50:16) that I had a sub-50 in my future.

The front half:  The gun went off.  Jonny rocketed ahead, and I do mean rocketed.  There was a solid mass of runners and then way ahead was Jonny.  Those of us in the top 15 all moved ahead at quite a quick pace for me.  I estimated that I entered the single-track off Sanctuary Road in about 11th place.  Just prior to entering the campground, Muddy passed me.  Mile 1 split (don't worry, I won't bore you with all of them, especially as many are meaningless on trails):  5:35.  Uh-oh, did I just ruin my race?
Jonny leading the group out at the start
(Photo by Jana)
We passed to the far right of all playground facilities and ran CCW around the first traffic island known as "East Rotary".  Is it just my fading old-age memory, but what was going through my head is didn't we used to pass between the playground facilities and through the middle of the first traffic island?  Is this going to add yet another few seconds to my time?

Passed two runners on the long stretch of asphalt on Four Boulders Road before re-entering the trail where I had just sawed obstructing white pine branches earlier in the week.  Continued running hard on the next mile of very non-technical trail and saw a runner ahead of me as I entered the covered bridge.  Passed this runner in the rock garden just after the approach with Klondike Road.  Steve Brightman?  Surely I am delirious.  He mouthed something to me that seemed unintelligible, and whatever I said back between my heavy breathing was I'm sure equally jibberish.

Just prior to the final boardwalk section before Buckeye Brook Road, I was closing the gap quickly on two runners:  one unknown and one Robert Jackman.  Jackman, seriously?  I asked what he was doing "way back here" and he responded something about feeling terrible.  We had a similar encounter at Mile 6 of Blessing this summer, and I feared he would retake me again before the finish as he did then.  On to the water stop, where I took a water cup (as opposed to what else would I take at a water stop?) and then promptly slammed my water cup into the cup held out right in front of me by the second volunteer, causing the 2nd water cup to spill all over that volunteer, and most of the water in my cup to exit, leaving me exactly 7 1/2 drops of water, which I imbibed, threw on the ground, and exited onto Buckeye Brook Road.  Does anyone offer remedial courses on how to drink water in a race?  I really need to sign up.
How do I keep the water
in the cup?

The back half:  On Buckeye Brook Road just prior to the trail re-entrance, someone is coming up on me fast.  I think to myself, Jackman's vengeance already?  No, it's Matthew!  Awesome!  Fresh off running the hills of Vermont in the New England X-C Championship race less than 24 hours ago, he looked in great shape.  I urged him to enter the trails ahead of me, and it's a good thing he did, as the gap grew very quickly and then he was gone.  Four miles into the race, he was moving and on a mission.  One of the best lines about this was an e-mail from Chris Fox afterwards:  "As far as I can tell, Matthew was chained to the registration desk until 5 minutes after start time."  Speaking of the devil, just after the short rock climb, who do I see ahead of me other than frenemy Fox?  Wait a minute, now:  I've passed Brightman, Jackman, and now I'm about to pass Fox?  Don't get cocky here; it's a long race with plenty to go.  As I passed Fox, we had a deeply intellectual and moving conversation:  I looked at him and said "Fox" and he looked back and said "Walker".  Nothing further needed to be said.
Passing Fox on the trail

This is my 12th annual running of this race, with my only longer streak being Blessing with 13 years.  I remember being at about this point in the race (~5 miles in) the first few years and each time thinking "when would this trail ever end" as I increasingly fatigued and slowed.  This year while I was certainly running at a tiring pace, I was able to keep the pace up as I could remember and predict upcoming parts of the course and I was running scared that one of the aforementioned frenemies would retake me.  It was not to be.  I took the rest of the trail in stride and comfort, including leaf-covered, leaf-blown, dirt trail, and rock gardens.
Nearing the end of the trail
(Photo courtesy of Susie Smith)

The next runner I would see was out on King's Factory Road.  I saw two runners up ahead, with the one in the back wearing an orange singlet who I assumed [wrongly] to be Matthew.
Gazellin' to the finish

I pushed the final tarmac portion (I really dislike this section) at a 5:42 pace and as I rounded the traffic island headed for the finish line, I thought I saw "49:05" on the clock.  No, it must be delirium or poor eye sight at best.

Final results:  49:10!!  PR by over one minute!  7th place finish( 1 of 2 bandits was ahead of me - sore topic for another day).  1st in my old man age group.  Full results here.  Am I pleased with my result?  Ecstatic!
While not as impressive as the All Stater's 3rd place overall Rhody award
(and growing collection) ...

... I done good taking home the gold for the old guys.

Three of the six ahead of me were WTAC (Matthew in 3rd!, Muddy, Jonny), and frenemies Fox and Brightman still broke 50, but today was the day they didn't catch the gazelle!  An awesome day on the trails was had by all, as evidenced by all of the unsolicited feedback afterwards.  Thanks for all who ran and all who made the race possible.  Life is good!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Weekly Log 9-Nov to 15-Nov-2015: Vermont and Li'l Rhody Week

Monday:  0

Tuesday:  6
Land Trust volunteering in the morning.  We reopened Champlin Glacier Preserve for the first time since the spring, as it was closed all summer for a forestry initiative.  Many of the trails I don't even recognize anymore after all the clearing.
Doesn't look like Champlin

It's raining leaves

In the afternoon, I ran Barn Island trails in the rain with Matthew and a friend of his.

Wednesday:  5
Very windy Veterans' Day.  Decided to stay off roads and ran in the Westerly Town Forest instead.

Thursday:  5
Dover, MA.  Another day on the trails.  Ran/explored Noanet Woodlands.

Friday:  4
Thetford, VT.  Ran the NE XC Championship course with Matthew.  We ran at an easy pace, and I was still feeling it with all the undulating hills.  In the back half of the course, a 200' winding climb called "Morty's Monster" awaited us.

Saturday:  7
West Lebanon, NH.  Headed out early from the hotel before going to Matthew's meet.  I had mapped out a loop and a segment to go after.  1.2 mile "Down Mt. Support" segment.  64 people on the segment; I would need to run sub-6, but given a loss of 123 feet in elevation, that shouldn't be too taxing.  (It wasn't)
Stepped outside to find it snowing.  Not hard, and not sticking, but snow none the less.  Glad I had brought a hat and gloves.  Fun and scenic run.
1st snow flakes of the season!

Sunday:  8
Back in Rhody for the 24th annual Li'l Rhody Runaround.  Write-up to follow shortly.

Weekly tally:  Mileage a little low at 36.  Want to keep a base of ~40 throughout the winter before ramping up for whatever I undertake in the spring.