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