Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Weekly Log 21-Nov to 27-Nov-2016: Harry Chapin and the Pie

Thanksgiving week brought a few midweek twists from the usual:

Monday: 8
Started off the week the way I have for at least the past five years the morning after Rhody:  a sunrise run and final policing of the course.  As has been the norm since Mandy and Tammy have been the sweepers, the course is left nearly spotless.  Picked up only two flags and two pink directional arrows.  I thought we were no longer using the latter?

Tuesday:  0
Swapped Monday for Tuesday as my rest day.  Headed up to TF Green Airport at Noon to pick up Mark, returning for the first time from college since August.  Good thing we went out to lunch and caught up, because once we got home, he was home for all of 10 minutes before heading out with his friends 'til 3AM.  Reminds me of the Harry Chapin verse from "Cat's in the Cradle":

Well, he came from college just the other day
So much like a man, I just had to say
"Son, I'm proud of you. Can you sit for a while?"
He shook his head, and he said with a smile
"What I'd really like, dad, is to borrow the car keys
See you later; can I have them please?"

Wednesday:  5
Road run on the Clamdigger course.  Out and back from the old Westerly Town Beach.  Easy pace; figured I'd get in a road run prior to tomorrow's run.

Thursday:  8
Thanksgiving Day.  Pie Run.  Write-up coming shortly.
Second day in a row of running roads.  This was the first time in 11 weeks, since late summer, that I had run roads more than once in a week.  Actually really enjoyable.  More to follow.

Friday:  8
Rainy run in Carolina North with Matthew and Aaron.  Really enjoyed the single-track trails Laurel Trail and Pony Express, but the downside is I didn't realize we were running in circles.  Tried to emulate a run we found from Chris Garvin, but ran into a chain across the trail trying to get out to 112, and turned around.  Whatever the name of the trail headed east across the stream starting from the gravel road (Meadowbrook Road) near the intersection of Jerue Trail, that one was fun as well.  Should learn these trails better.
Was surprised to see two hunters with guns out in the rain. They didn't seem friendly at all.

Saturday:  13
Tillinghast and Wickaboxet group run of 6.  Now this one was a lot of fun.  Very rural West Greenwich.  Jonny led this group run starting out heading into Wickaboxet with some serious climbs.  A mix of hills, fields, pine forests, and twisty single-track.  We hit most of the trails, except some red trails to the south off Plain Meeting House Road that we'll come back for another time.
Bonus:  Jonathan Short got in his longest run ever (13 miles).

Sunday:  6
Rocky Neck State Park, East Lyme, CT.  Trail run with Matthew through meadows, rocks, and along the beach.  One of the final trails we ran was a twisty fun single-track through gnarly mountain laurel.  Ran at sunrise, as needed to get back home to bring Mark to the airport.

Weekly Mileage:  49

Weekly Synopsis:  Really good post-Rhody running week.  Had four days off for a long Thanksgiving weekend and each of the four days involved running new trails or roads.  While it was depressing Sunday evening that the long weekend was over and it's back to work, the next three weeks are interspersed with holiday events, Mark will be home again in just two weeks, and I have the last two weeks of the year off.  A lot to look forward to.  One race remains for 2016, and the rest should be fun runs and long runs.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Li'l Rhody 2016

Charlestown, RI
Sunday, November 20, 2016

This was the silver 25th anniversary of the Li'l Rhody Runaround 8-Mile Trail Race.  Personally, I have "only" run the last 13 of the 25 years.  This was my first ever trail race, and indeed for many years the only trail run of any kind that I would run. I am honored at this point to be an officer of the fine club that puts on this race, and to serve as Race Director.  Onto the race ...

The temperature was only in the mid-30s as I departed the house at 7:45 to get setup, and while it warmed all the way up to 47 degrees by race time, there was a brisk wind across the pond right into the registration area that just kept it feeling quite cold.  My warm-up consisted of shuffling around from registration to the SNERRO van, moving parking marshals from the lower DEM lot to the upper YMCA lot, etc.  Before I knew it, it was time to give a 2-minute overview to the crowd and line up.
Start of the 2016 race

Front half:  Ran out in a conservative 5:58 first mile, following behind Jonny and Tom.  By the time we got into the campground, I could no longer see Tom anymore.  A tall guy went by me and then also went by Jonny, and surprisingly I caught up to and passed Jonny on the final asphalt stretch of the campground before re-entering the woods.  I guess he was not having a great day.  Maybe still feeling the effects of his marathon?  The tall guy was pulling away from us, and I could hear Jonny behind me.
Making our way out to the covered bridge, I sensed my left shoe was really loose.  So much so that I wanted to stop and tie it.  No time for that.  Soldiered on, but it was bothering me.  Unfortunately, after the right turn right near Klondike, I noticed my shoelace was now completely untied and annoyingly hitting my other leg when I ran.  Damn.  This was a first for me.  Why didn't I check and tighten them pre-race?  Now I had to stop.  I lost a good 20 seconds, and Jonny re-passed me.  I resumed running with one tight shoe and one looser shoe.  Let's hope it holds.  Followed pretty closely behind Jonny all the way out to Buckeye Brook Road.

Through one of the few technical sections on the back half.
Pics by Scott Mason

Back half:  No change in position for the rest of the race.  Jonny gradually pulled away, but I could still see him on longer stretches for the rest of the race.  At switchbacks, I glanced back but never saw anyone.  It would actually help to have someone behind push me.  Scott Mason was at one of the rock gardens snapping pics.  I slid a little on wet rocks, but nothing major.  Coming out of the trail section, I felt my watch vibrate at a mile split and looked down to see I was running 5:02 pace?  Yeah, right! OK, maybe not that fast, but I did feel I was running fast.  Now I could see Tom again, as he wasn't that far ahead of Jonny.  My watch beeped "GPS signal lost".  Dang.  Pushed it home, knowing I was not having a PR, but was surprised and disappointed to finish in 51:07.
Finishing up.  Pic by Jana.

Final results:  51:07, 9th overall, 1st in age group.  Full results here.
The numbers were down a bit this year, but we still had a great WTAC showing and a good day on the trails.  Congrats to all the WTAC runners and volunteers, from Matthew and teammates at pre-reg, Jana and Beth handing out shirts, Joe on post-reg, Polly making hot vegetable soup, Jeff Vuono, Tommy, and Schane as parking marshals, Mike B bringing wood, Chris behind the scenes with Fall Race Series scoring, and I'm sure I'm inadvertently leaving a few out.


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Weekly Log 14-Nov to 20-Nov-2016: Rhody Week

Final week before the 25th edition of the L'il Rhody Runaround 8-Mile trail race.  Enjoying fall running, and looking forward to my 13th straight Rhody.

Monday:  0

Tuesday:  8
Ran Rhody course at sunrise.  Trails are leaf-covered, but they are compacted and otherwise clear. 

Wednesday:  6
Morning trail run at Noanet Woodlands, Dover, MA.  Unlike yesterday's dry trail run, with a lot of rain in the past 24 hours, today's trails were pretty slippery.  On the trail ascending and descending Noanet Peak, I was slipping frequently on wet rocks and leaves and had to exercise more caution.

Thursday:  0
Poor planning on my part.  The day escaped from me.

Friday:  5
My initial temptation was to run a double today to make up for yesterday's miss, but that probably wouldn't be smart so close to an 8-mile trail race.  Besides, as it turns out, I barely got in a single race.  Left the office close to 4:30pm, which means I'm already battling the last vestiges of sundown.  Ran from Bradford Preserve.  Dark in the deep woods, especially on Hansel & Gretel, and obviously getting darker by the minute.  Came back to Bradford Preserve, and started another loop, but after tripping on a single-track trail where I could not see the ground at all anymore, decided to exit onto a road to return to the preserve and finish on the field.  Finally, a smart move.

Saturday:  5
Midday solo from Wahaneeta out and around the pond in Woody Hill Marsh.    Deliberately easy pace in advance of tomorrow's race.  Humans encountered:  0.

Sunday:  9
Li'l Rhody Runaround.  Write-up to follow.

Weekly mileage total:  33

Weekly synopsis:  Disappointed with low mileage, and two days off.  With darkness coming earlier and earlier, late afternoon runs are getting harder to do.


Saturday, November 19, 2016

Avondale 5K

Westerly, RI
Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Avondale 5K, also known as the Westerly Land Trust 5K, but officially known as Setting the Pace for Conservation 5K. Yeah, long name.  Hence the fact that many runners generally call it either of the former.

Anyhow, it had been over a month since my last race.  After a summer of too many hot races run and not enjoyed, it was good to take time off from racing and enjoy group runs instead. 

The night before the race, I went to a local Mexican restaurant with Jana, and ate way too much.  (They put it on my plate, and I paid for it, therefore I had to eat it all, right?)  Someday I'll learn portion control, but this wasn't the night.  Rolled into the house feeling overstuffed and worried I'd already killed my race.

This is how I felt the night before the race,
after gorging non-stop on delicious but very filling Mexican food.
At the start of the race the next morning, Sam, one of Matthew's XC teammates asked what I expected to run.  How to answer?  This was the course just a year ago where I set my 17:32 PR, but that's when I had already had three sub-18 races last year and a number of 18:0x races.  This year my fastest 5K time was 18:23 and my food obsession from last night is not helping me.  I told him I'd love to get near 18-flat, but my best guess was 18:15.  He told me he would try to stay with me as long as he could.  Great, I welcomed the company.

And we're off.  I'm in the green singlet about 5th place.
(Photo by Jana)
Mile 1:  Very quickly Tom and Jonny Eckel settled in running together at the lead, and Sam and I a short a distance behind.  Uneventful first mile.  5:44

Coming through the end of the preserve loop with Sam, at the 1K mark.
Mile 2:  Turning off Watch Hill Road and onto Avondale Road, I could no longer hear Sam breathing, and figured he was dropping off.  Darn.  I didn't really care if he beat me, but I was rather hoping that he would push me or we could work off each other, as Tom and I did last year.  It wasn't in the cards.  At the turnaround loop at the end of Champlin, I could see Tom had now put quite a gap on Jonny and that Sam was dropping further back.  Running as an island is the prime condition for me really slowing the pace down, but I somehow came through the second mile in another sub-6 split of 5:54.
At the Champlin turnaround, nearing 2-mile mark.
Note the beautiful blue sky on another perfect fall day.
By myself for the first time this race.
(Photo courtesy of Seth)

Mile 3:  Just hang on now.  As I made the final turn off Avondale Road to come back into Avondale Preserve, I could see Tom way out ahead, but noticed Jonny actually came back to me.  While not in reach, it was the impetus I needed to pick up the pace.  Passed the 3-mile marker and started sprinting.  When the clock came into focus, I could see it ticking at 17:51.  It is always so deceiving.  Crossed the line as it said 18:00, which in a SNERRO race means my official time was 18:02.  (3rd mile was 5:47)
The old man trying to sprint in under 18, but it won't quite happen.

3rd place.  1st in age group.  Official results here.  Congrats to Tom on the overall win and sub-17 finish.  I had to tell myself to stop fidgeting over the fact that I should have been able to make up 3 seconds somewhere on the course, and focus instead on that I had run faster and more consistently than I had expected, it was my fastest 5K time this year, and that every split was sub-6.  OK, now I feel better!  Had a nice cool-down with Tom and several high school runners before awards ceremony.  Keeping with the Land Trust conservation theme, I got another winterberry bush, and last year's is still alive in my backyard, so hopefully that bodes well.  Very happy to support the Land Trust.  It's a great organization, on whose trails I run frequently.
Age group award, and this year's giveaway.

Onto Li'l Rhody ...


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Weekly Log 7-Nov to 13-Nov-2016

Monday:  6
Barn Island single-track with Matthew at lunch (no school day for him).  Love the single-track there.  I will often try to push it harder on the few uphills and downhills in the Barn.  We spooked a horse along the way, and ended up walking 'til we got past him (her?).  That was a new one.

Tuesday:  0
Lower abdominal pain to the point where it was painful walking around the office.  No running today.  Scary.  Started my internet self-diagnosing.  Putting in my symptoms and location of pain, it looks like I have an ectopic pregnancy.  I figured it out on the internet, so it has to be correct!  What a dolt.

Wednesday:  6
Abdominal pain subsided.  Woke up shocked to learn the results of our presidential election.  Truth is I didn't like any of our front-runner candidates, but I just wanted to digest this and move on.  Headed to Woody Hill and ran intentionally slow, taking in not only the presidential results, but many topics.  Never saw a soul, and today I truly enjoyed the solitude.  Stopped at the ledge on the white trail at Wahaneeta, and just looked over the edge watching the peaceful leaves fall.  Running is truly cathartic.

Thursday:  6
Got in a run at Burlingame ahead of our monthly WTAC board meeting.  Had originally intended to run the Rhody course, but time and a setting sun were not in my favor.  Parked on King's Factory Road, and ran Sammy C's.  Hadn't run that in a while, and was pleasantly surprised by the amount of rock on the trail.  It was a lot of fun. 

Friday:  8
Happy Veterans' Day!  My father was a US Army veteran.  Indeed, that's how he met my mother in post-WWII Germany.  I took a Coast Guard entrance exam when I was between jobs in my mid-20s and not sure what I wanted to do in my life, but that's as close to the service as I ever got.
Thanks to all the veterans that served our country.

Anyhow, thanks to Jonathan Short for putting together today's run.  Ran with Jonathan, Tom, and Jonny in the Hillsdale section of Richmond.  Mostly fire roads.  I felt bad for taking one of our host's Strava segments, but Jonny started running it hard and I followed.  Jonny slowed at one point on the climb, and I pathetically took advantage of his post-marathon state and went past.  These group trail runs of late are a lot of fun.
Ran my 2,000th mile of the year today.
Against a goal of 2,315, with about 6 weeks remaining, that
might be a tall order.

Saturday:  9
Fourth consecutive and final weekend at Ponaganset XC course.  As there was no Westerly bus for the three WHS runners (Matthew, Randi, and Kata) that qualified for New Englands, we had to get Matthew there two hours before the race start.  I reached out to a couple of the LaSalle parents to see if they were running, and fortunately they were.  Ran many laps of the XC course with Fred Campagna, Dave Principe, Bob and Jackie Jackman, Bob Corsi, and several others.  The first couple of laps were fine, but after that, I was searching high and wide for some single-track to get off the manicured course.  Did manage to find one single-track trail that we ran, but it was pretty short.  Good to run with the guys nonetheless.

Sunday:  6
Avondale 5K.  Separate brief write-up to follow.

Weekly mileage:  41

Weekly synopsis:  Another good week of running.  Two group runs, a race for the first time in five weeks (quite a stretch for me), and enjoyable fall weather.  Rhody is up next week.  Excited and nervous at the same time.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Weekly Log 31-Oct to 6-Nov-2016

Weekly anecdote:

Amen.  Running shorts should be short!
(Runner's World spoofing short shorts views from the 1960s,
and this product of the '60s can relate!)
Monday:  0
Busy with Halloween setup and getting the fire ready.  No running today.

Halloween.  Always fun, even though we got our
smallest group of trick-or-treaters (45) since we moved to Westerly.
Tuesday: 5
Pafford Woods.  Lots of loops to make 5 miles in here, but it was good technical fun.  Unfortunately, at one point, a German shepherd not on a leash stopped dead in its tracks just staring at me, making me very uncomfortable.  Fearing the worst of a looming attack, I stopped as well.  It was a tense minute or so for me until the owner appeared smiling, carrying the dog leash, and said she's very friendly.  Sorry, but I've been mauled, pinned, and sent to the hospital by a supposedly "friendly" German shepherd before.  Put the leash on it and consider how others might feel that don't know whether or not your dog is friendly.  I digress; the entire rest of the run was great.

First run with my new (second) pair of New Balance
Vazee Summit trail shoes.  Hideous?
Wednesday:  7
Needham track workout.  It's a beautiful 8-lane track and facility, and since it's one of the few tracks not attached to a school, I don't feel like a creep hanging out running during early school hours.  Still, it's a track and I'm not enamored of running around in circles (technically ovals, but you get the point).

Slower than I expected, but what kind of redemption can you expect from someone who seldom goes to "church"?  1 x mile (5:50), 2 x 800 (2:53, 2:53), 2 x 400 (83, 78).

Thursday:  6
Got a text mid-morning from Crutch looking for a Westerly run, so we went on a nice 6-mile trail run in Woody Hill.  Great fall day for a run.

Friday:  0
Another zero.  Just didn't plan this well, and the day got away from him.

Saturday:  11
Group run of five in Barn Island.  One of my favorite places to run.  With the number of hunters with guns in here, I may start to curtail at least Saturday runs here for a while.

Sunday:  11
Weekapaug / Misquamicut progression run for 8 of the 11 miles.  Roads.  7:53 down to 6:01.  Windy and winded.  Was planning on nine miles of progression, but talked myself out of the last mile into the wind.  Still good.  Cooled down on the beach for the run back home, and was very surprised to see a seal lying on the beach near the water's edge.

Weekly mileage:  40

Weekly synopsis:  Not many years back, I would have thought 40 to be a high mileage week, but not in recent years.  What I really need to do is pick a spring marathon, and then set training plans into motion.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Weekly Log 24-Oct to 30-Oct-2016: Blood, Boardwalks, & Headlamps

Fall racing:  We're one month into fall now, and I'm looking to plan out the remainder of my races for 2016.  I raced too much during the sultry humid summer, and now have lost much of my zeal to race in the fall, when the weather is much more conducive to it.  I'm really going to have to plan this out better and race more sparingly in the summer heat. (Yeah, right, I probably say that every year.)  Anyway, here is my plan for remaining races.

Beyond that, I'll be looking to figure out a spring marathon.

Monday:  5
My bone-head move of not bringing running shoes to run did not deter me.  The trails had too many acorns for me to run barefoot on, so I ran five miles barefoot on the fields at Bradford Preserve.  I'm sure there would be a threshold not too much higher at which I would get blisters, but my feet feel fine writing this Monday evening.

Tuesday:  8
Trail run in Woody Hill.  Fun run in crisp weather, about 50 degrees in late afternoon.  Bolstered by Jeff Huckle's recent run, I ran the over-the-boulder single-track run down towards the quarry, a trail I had not run in over a year in the aftermath of the middle of the night quarry death.  I stayed well away from the quarry, but just enjoyed the trails.  Ran past the ledge, the pond, and down to Fallon Drive before making my way back. 
The oddest thing was that someone actually lugged a chainsaw onto Hansel & Gretel and cut four of the tree limbs that we were jumping over.  It had to be real recent, as the sawdust was fresh and certainly those limbs or tree trunks were there on the day of Pumpkins.  I'm sure the person meant well, but it rubbed me the wrong way as we got so many compliments on the fun of jumping over downed trees.

Wednesday:  11
AM:  6 miles on the Blue Heron Trail, Dedham, MA.  Comfy 38 degrees.  Maybe could've used a thin pair of gloves for the first mile, but otherwise comfortable in short shorts and a technical shirt.  Saw two runners; a guy wearing long running pants and an Asian woman and her dog both dressed like it was the middle of winter. 
Didn't see the root under the leaves,
and careened into a tree face first.
PM:  5 miles at the Blue Hills / Ponkapoag Trail, Milton, MA.  A mix of double and single-track.  Quite a few people out walking their dogs.
Running this boardwalk was fun,
but a little dicey.

Cool rock formation that I ran by on this single-track trail.

Thursday:  5
Coldest, rawest day thus far this fall.  By 4:30pm, it was 40 degrees with a steady rain.  Contemplating just going home and taking a zero, but ended up going to Wahaneeta.  As soon as I got out of the car into the cold rain, I was instantly cold.  Knew I had to keep moving on this run.  Between the near sunset and rain, it was really hard to see the trails despite that I know these trails well.  Ran off the trail a couple of times.  Finished the run, and blasted the heat in the car until I could get home for a hot shower.  Brrrr.

Friday:  5
15mph winds with gusts to 27mph.  Not sure why I decided to road runs today instead of seeking coverage in the woods, but I think it might have been because I wanted to get one road run in this week and didn't want to sacrifice trail runs on the weekend.
Pushed it on the middle mile for a 5:49 mile 3; otherwise, ran mostly in the 6:40s.

Saturday:  8
Crazy, busy day in advance of going to Matthew's Class B XC Championship race, then to the cemetery with my Mom and Jana on what would have been my Dad's 80th birthday today, and finally an evening Halloween party.  My Dad age 80, really?  I've seen him many, many times in my dreams and thoughts, but sometimes it seems like yesterday when I last physically saw him at age 58.  Time heals all wounds: what a load of crap.
Fun contemplative trail run in the dark.

Anyway, that's why I had to squeeze in a run at 5:30am.  Chose to run the Li'l Rhody course, as it's close to home and high degree of familiarity.  Fun solo run with headlamp.  Mine is pretty bright, but you obviously still don't have the same perception you do during daylight.  Small animals freaked me out as they scurried and scampered.

Sunday:  11
Group trail run of 5 at Arcadia.  Good thing Jonny put this together; otherwise I'd be totally lost and probably still out there.  At over 14,000 acres, this place is huge!  We had over 1,000 feet of climbing on the run.  Dirt roads aren't my cup of tea, but after a mile or two, we had plenty of single-track with some fun downhills that Jonny "let me" gazelle down.  The stone shelter was really neat, and the Escoheag Trail was probably my favorite trail on the day.  It warmed up all the way to about 70 degrees on this late October run.  Stopped in a river to run water over my face; it was tempting to just jump in.  Thanks Jonny for putting this together!

Weekly mileage:  56!

Weekly synopsis:  High mileage week.  Ran every day and felt good.