Sunday, December 31, 2017

Weekly Log 25-Dec to 31-Dec-2017: Freezing End to the Year

Monday:  5
Christmas Day.  Woke up to loud rain changing to freezing rain changing to snow.  Crawled back under the covers, and got out of bed to find a White Christmas!  More like a coating of snow, but I'll take it, especially as I've read that statistically here in southern RI only 1 out of 3 Christmases is white.

While it's been years since we had the magic of Christmas with the boys getting up early and excited to see if Santa had come, I still love Christmas.  For me it's not about the presents or even the specific day, but rather a whole season of get-togethers with friends, family, and co-workers, holiday lights and trees, and maybe a little more goodwill than the rest of the year.

Made waffles for the boys and opened presents before going out on a rather brisk (for me) 6:44 average pace on a 5-mile loop to Avondale and the beach.  The afternoon and evening was at Mom's, where we caught up with 2 of my 3 brothers and their families, and enjoyed some food and Mom's spiked mulled cider and Gluhwein (a traditional German hot mulled wine drink popular at Christmastime).  Came home and watched "The Grinch".
I love this year's 14' tree.  It's one of the fullest tall
trees we've ever had, but it's also a fair amount of work,
and it's away from our living room area.
Between both boys going away to college next year and
our favorite Christmas tree farm closing shop,
we'll have to figure out whether to continue the
"Christmas Vacation" sized trees or not.
Interesting reads in the local paper Christmas day:
On a lighter note ...
It would be fun to see how our boys
would react to a yak dung Christmas gift!
My intuition says it wouldn't go well.

20+ of these snowy owls are in our town?!
Wow, I would love to see one of these!
The article explains that they hail from northern
Quebec, but with their favorite food (lemmings)
in short supply this year, some have been
visiting southern New England.

While the article was much longer
and chock full of interesting empirical examples,
this snippet here really sums it:
For generally improved health and reduced allergies
Same goes for adults.

Tuesday:  5
Despite an offer from Tommy, I missed my window of opportunity to run in the morning, as I was really tired from an uncharacteristically late night.  Went with Matthew to the Mystic Y in late afternoon, and ran roads on Mason's Island while Matthew did some pool running.  Finished my run, and came back into the locker room, where a man unknown to me was showing me a coin he had in his pocket:  an 1897 US $5 gold coin.  Really cool!

Temps on the run and highs today were about 28 degrees.  For some reason, though, I felt rather cool running today.  I'm guessing it's because it wasn't sunny and was breezy.  I better get used to it, as we have a few very cold days in store, with temps over the next 10 days projected to dip into the single digits and not reach freezing.
Made the annual Christmas pilgrimage.
Merry Christmas, Dad.  (and grandparents)

Wednesday:  11
Boombridge loop with Tommy.  Temps in the teens; I ended up running in tights, which I am not enamored with, as they make me feel constricted.  Averaged 6:50 pace, so a decent pace given the hills and cold.  I was feeling it towards the end, though.  I've got a ways to go to get myself into marathon shape.
Post-run, at Matthew's request, we went to the
Pequot museum.  Had been years since I last visited.
It was near deserted, but pretty interesting.

Neat dioramas depicting Native American history and culture.

Fort Griswold, Groton, CT.
Another request of Matthew's, which I'm very glad for.  I had never been here!
Felt very ignorant of my history, as I had no idea there was a Revolutionary
War battle so close to home, and one that claimed 88 American lives and 51 British.
Would love to come back here in the summer when the museum and tower are open.

Thursday:  7
Ninigret Park roads and trails with Tom and Mike.  Frigid 7-degree run.  At times I felt warm with the sun in my face and other times just down right chilled to the bone headed into the wind.  Finished up with a nice stop at WTAC sponsor Dave's Coffee for some hot beverages, where Mikey was still trying to get warm.
The boys (l-r:  Mikey, Tommy) rightly ribbed me for breaking out
tights this morning.  7 degrees is below my threshold for shorts.  Frigid!

Friday:  6
After another fun but tiring night of holiday celebrations (this time a holiday party at our house for extended relatives on my Dad's side), I slept in really late, which was just as well as temps were near zero. 

Being off all week and wanting to try another go at the Baker Pines North-South Trail segment, I opted for an afternoon run, when it warmed up to 18 degrees and I could wear shorts and not feel constricted on the run.  I parked at Browning Mill Pond, and ran the Arcadia (yellow) Trail to where it connects to NST and the segment starts.  Pushed it hard on the segment, and while it felt slow in snowy and icy sections, one advantage I had this time over my initial foray is that all blowdowns except one had been cut and cleared.  When I got to the dirt road section, I near sprinted it, and was getting really tired by the time I passed the upper Roaring Brook bridge.  When I got home later, I was ecstatic to find I had taken five minutes off my previous time on the 3.4 mile segment, and took first place.

Saturday:  15!
Longest run in a couple of months.  Mix of asphalt and dirt roads in very rural Richmond and Exeter, with Tommy.  10 degrees at the start and about 900' of elevation, almost all in the back half.  We went almost 10 miles before we saw the first car!  Nice to be able to run and chat and not constantly have to worry about traffic.

We finished up our run, came in to the Arcadia Y, and the woman working the front desk was dumbfounded that we had been out there running almost two hours in these temps.  She raised the wife's tale of the danger of freezing your lungs, but the reality is your lungs are well protected and you're more at risk of frostbite when you get down to zero degrees or so.

Saturday night:  psyched for snow and getting the snowshovels out.
(Yes, I'm a traditionalist.)
Love the way the Christmas lights looks in the snow.  Can't we just
extend the holiday lights season and make them winter lights?
Sunday:  8
Final run of the year.  At Arcadia with my faithful trail compadre, Jonathan Short.  Snow covered trails were a joy to run on.  A lot of places we were making fresh tracks, but with just 2" or snow, it was quite easy to run in.  Split between half of the run north of 165 on Hudson and trails around Breakheart Pond, and half on trails south of 165 that I'm not familiar with.

Weekly mileage:  58!

Weekly synopsis:  Highest mileage week since October.  Had a number of consecutive really low mileage weeks, some due to a minor health issue and some due to laziness.  Let's hope I can muster 50+ going forward.  I've said this before, but I'm interested in a spring marathon and need to put together some plans.  I have some interest in the Providence marathon, but a marathon in May always raises the specter of a warm run, which is not my forte.
This was a great week to have off.  No complaints on the weather.  While I might prefer 20 degrees to single-digits, I'm happy to see some snow and will take this anyday over 30s and rain.

Weekly highlight:  The 15-mile weekly rural run with Tommy, followed by the snowy trail run on New Year's Eve.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Weekly Log 18-Dec to 24-Dec-2017: Fun in the Snow

Monday:  5
Big River lunchtime diversion.  Worked in Providence in the morning, and the lunchtime ride back to Westerly afforded me an opportunity to run before showering at Arcadia Y and returning to the office.  The snow covered trails were a blast to run.  Most were packed down by cyclists tracks and made it very easy to run.

Tuesday:  0
Tightness and a busy work day killed my motivation to run.

Wednesday:  5
Annual Christmas Light Run.  Tommy estimated this was 6 years of running the event, which has alternated locations over the years.  This year Mikey hosted and his neighborhood was very well decorated.  We had six runners tonight.  In addition to aforementioned and myself, JV, Paul, and Chris joined us.

It was a warm night for me in the mid-30s, but cold enough for some to wear tights.  I find it interesting the really big difference in temperature comfort and preferences amongst runners.  For some reason I'm very comfortable running in shorts at 20 degrees or even colder while others will be quite bundled up, and conversely runners like JV love running in the 80s, while I wilt.  Apparently this also extends to indoor temp preferences, as I was as shocked to hear JV say he keeps the heat at 73 degrees at home (that's a sauna, right?), as he was shocked to hear that we'll crank the heat up to 64 degrees in the evening, but keep it at 58 for sleeping and generally colder in the morning  (54 - 56 degrees). 

Thursday:  [15 miles alpine skiing]
Loon Mountain, NH.  Spending a couple of days here with my oldest son Mark and his friend Lucas.
Mark wanted to take this dog home with him.

Loon has a real train to ferry people from parking lot to lodge.
Pretty cool!

Hmm... seems a little extreme.
I'm sure most could care less about my 26.2 bumper sticker,
but hopefully they don't envision shooting me down.

From the top of Loon Peak. Upper Walking Boss (top of Loon Mountain
Run, tops out at 41% grade) is on right.  Stunning winter beauty.
At 1:00 in this picture, you can see Mt Washington, ensconced in white.

On wide groomed trails (like pic above this pic), the youngsters would be
out ahead of me.  But much like trail running, give me
a trail that is narrower with obstacles (like this one),
and the old man holds his own.
Friday:  5 mile road run, 6 miles XC ski, 5 miles snowshoe run
Wall of Ice Castle I passed on run.  Undergoing construction.

XC skiing.  Trails well marked.
And thank you for using the metric system ("1.4KM" in diamond).

Stunning winter beauty on XC ski and snowshoe run.
Making first tracks in the virgin snow.

Despite temps in the teens, I quickly overheated while XC skiing
and snowshoe running, as both were quite a workout in the fresh snow.
Still not quite warm enough to swim in this river to cool down!
You can see the snow falling in this pic.
Saturday:  zip
Pretty sore from yesterday's trio of snow activities, and a nervous ride home at night through snow, ice, and freezing rain.
Today's highlight may have been eating at Pink Basil
(Mystic, CT) for the first time.  This Tom Kha (coconut soup)
was delicious.

Sunday:  7
Christmas Eve morning with Riley and FiveK.  7 mile run on non-technical Burlingame campground trails.  Riley was crazy with excitement but calmed down after a few miles.  Fun run.

Weekly mileage:  28

Weekly synopsis:  Another low mileage week but augmented by snow activities in NH.  Yes, at some point soon I need to ramp it back up, but apparently this wasn't the week either.

Weekly highlight:  Snowshoe run in NH, followed by the group annual Christmas light run.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Weekly Log 11-Dec to 17-Dec-2017: Snow!

Monday:  0

Tuesday:  0

Wednesday:  5
Noanet Woodlands, Dover, MA.  22 degrees and snow and ice.  Opted for shorts and warmed up quickly.  Footing was really dicey throughout.  There was actually one other trail runner out there, and we commiserated about not bring Yak-Trak.  His puppy was sliding all over the place.  I slid a few times, but only fell once.

Thursday:  8
Set up and then ran our club's Jingle Bell Run.  A "Jingle Bell Run" is the moniker attached to the pre-holiday party group fun run.  When we held the party years ago at the K of C club downtown, the run was through Wilcox Park and up to the high school and back.  I think it had been about four years since our last Jingle Bell Run, and that last one was just Paul Gray and I running the streets of Pawcatuck before a party at the Pizza Place.

For this year, with our new holiday party location of the Bradford Citizens Club, we ran a 5K on trails in Bradford Preserve, using much of the Pumpkins / high school XC course.  I put a few flags down, but the ground was frozen and snow covered.  I did put signs with directional arrows each trail intersection, and framed each sign with a string of LED lights so you could see it before you came up to it.   We got 7 runners, and while I'd like to see more, I suppose that's not bad.  Good time at both the run and party afterwards.  Thanks to Beth and the whole board for putting it on.

Friday:  2
Ran the same course with Jana, save the field and final dirt road section, picking up the flags and signs as we went.

Saturday:  14
13 degrees in shorts.  Well, at least for the start.  No, I didn't add layers, but the temps warmed up quickly and it was in the mid-20s by the time Muddy and I finished.  Good run on snowy roads in Charlestown & SK.

Sunday:  8
Deep Pond / Tippecansett trails with Jonathan Short.  Great time out there.  All snow covered, but manageable with just 1-2" of light snow on the trails, hard-packed on the few dirt roads we ran on.  Not a soul out there.
I'm in the upper-left quadrant of this pic; on the cool ledge in an orange shirt.
(Pic by Jonathan Short, from the trail below)
End of the line:  after many years, this will be our final
Christmas tree from Buttonwoods Farms in Griswold, CT.
We learned the sad news from the owner that the remaining trees
will be taken out next year to make way for expanded sunflower fields.

This is the way Christmas trees are meant to be harvested:
hiking through the snow to compare trees, bringing your own saw,
cutting it down, and dragging it through the snow.  This year's tree is a 14 footer.
I don't like warm days for getting a tree.  This year was perfect,
temps in the high 20s, and fresh snow to traipse through and make snowballs with.
(And of course Matthew is in shorts.)

Weekly mileage:  38

Weekly synopsis:  38 miles is nothing to write home about, but it's a step in the right direction.  Had a fun night at the WTAC holiday party and Jingle Bell Run, as well as the Charlestown Beach area run, but my favorite for this week had to be the snowy run at Deep Pond.  Looking forward to winter!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Christmas 10K 2017

Newport, RI
Sunday, December 10, 2017

The years roll by.  Another Christmas 10K is upon us.  Headed out solo this year to the City by the Sea, where I would meet up with a cadre of WTAC runners for the race and post-race lunch.  Arrived at 9:15 for a 10am start; a tad later than I would like.  After picking up my bib and shirt (can they please vary just a little and not have a white cotton shirt every year?) and performing my daily constitutional, I got in a short warm-up, ran a few strides, and was ready to toe the line.

After cavorting with Dave Schaad and Jonny a bit, the race starter announced "30 seconds to the start".  OK, time to chat a bit more, and then all of a sudden the horn went off.  It caught most of us off guard, with many saying that was the shortest 30 seconds of their life.  Last year, Bronson Venable led out the pack and kept a "slower" pace, so that even I hung on the back of the pack.  This year there was none of that.  Bronson commanded the lead from the start, and never looked back.  There was kind of a loose pack ahead of me of about 10 runners, including many of the usual suspects (Jackman, Brightman, Jonny, etc.).

At a mile in, I checked my watch only to find that I never started it.  Doh!  How did that happen?  Was it because of the botched start announcement, or because I was wearing gloves and didn't depress it enough?  This really frustrated me.  Since I didn't started my watch until I realized the error, only now can I look back and using some basic math, see that I ran a 5:51 first mile.  (Last year, I ran a 5:42 by comparison, but I knew this year's race would be slower with my recent lack of miles and speedwork.)

Shortly thereafter a man twice my height (or so it appeared) easily went past me and another was right on my heels, as I could hear his footsteps.  Ugh.  I settled in and kept the tall guy in sight and my chaser stayed right on me, as we made our way along the water and the beautiful Brenton Point State Park.  My second mile was a slow 6:15, followed my third mile of 5:58, which would be my only other mile sub-6 (last year all were sub-6).  The tall guy came back to me and I went right past him. 

For the next few miles, I heard footsteps right on me, and [wrongly] assumed it was the tall guy.  That is until about Mile 5, when a walker turned around (their shorter course rejoins the 10K course at about Mile 3) and he shouted in succession "Nice job, Westerly" [me], followed by "Let's go, Turtle".  Hmm, Tall Guy didn't have a Turtles singlet on.  Who is this?  Miles 4 and 5 were 6:06 and 6:12, respectively, and then you pull away from the water and have some small climbs and turn back into the slight wind.

Despite it being my slowest mile (6:17), I tried to push in the final mile, and finally the sound of footsteps disappeared.  Crossing the 6-mile mark, I remembered this was where Martin Tighe outkicked me a few years back for the age group win, and not knowing who was behind me, I picked up the pace to cross the finish line in 37:40. 

Final results:  37:40, 9th overall, 1st in age group. 55 seconds slower than last year, but actually faster than I feared.  Full results here.

After the race, Martin came up to me to tell me he was indeed the one in Turtle garb that was on my heels!  Awards went by quicker this year.  I got some good loot and then met up at The Wharf for lunch with teammates.  Thanks Beth for arranging this!
For winning my age group!
Yes, I love dark chocolate,
although I'm not sure about "chili" flavor.

For WTAC mens' team 2nd place finish

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Weekly Log 4-Dec to 10-Dec-2017: Christmas 10K Week

Very pleasantly surprised to see a number of my running friends have returned to the blog-o-sphere!  Tommy 5K, Jonny, and Muddy all published a new blog post last week!  Even Jackman has resumed writing.  Just when I thought running blogs were going the way of the manual transmission, I am reinvigorated that my reading list is growing.  Maybe with Rhody Seth in San Diego, we will see him end his blog hiatus as well.

Monday:  4
This week and next will feature long work days in the middle of testing of a major software package implementation.  Longer work days means less time for running.  :(
Was at least happy to run sub-7 on this short lunchtime run.

Tuesday:  0
Not cold, but windy and raining zapped my interest to get out there in the early morning darkness or evening darkness.  What a wimp.

Wednesday:  0
Double zero.  Fat, lazy loser.  Long work days with working lunches means I've lost the ability to have weekday daylight runs at present, but it's always easy to find excuses.  Again, fat, lazy loser.

Thursday:  5
Finally, it's something! Beautiful sunny day with highs in the mid 40s.  My kind of running weather.  Ran deserted Watch Hill beaches out to Fort Mansfield and back, and then out to East Beach and Watch Hill lighthouse. 
Just gorgeous at Napatree, Watch Hill today.
I sometimes take for granted Westerly and the treasures we
have here.

What is this new tracking station?

Ah, bird and bat tracking.

Graffiti covered ruins of Fort Mansfield, on 60 acres purchased by
the US Government in 1898, built and opened in 1901, and
abandoned and sold in 1928.

Entrance to the lower level of the fort
looks bleak and uninviting
a century later

Friday:  0
Finished work in the dark, had my running stuff with me, but had zero motivation.  In a running rut.

Saturday:  5
Was excited to hear 3" - 6" of snow forecast, only to find it a dud.  Waited throughout the day for snow to materialize, but it was wet and didn't stick well.  Late afternoon went to Barn Island with Matthew.  First time I had run with him in quite a while, as he is still recuperating from his injury. 

Sunday:  8
Christmas 10K.  Short write-up to follow.

Weekly Mileage:  22

Weekly Synopsis:  There's not much to write about.  Lowest mileage week in a year and a half.  I can only blame so much on recent physical issues and work stress, but really my motivation has fallen into a rut.  Daylight running has been tough to get in with long work days and approaching the shortest day of the year, and I haven't had the discipline to get out there in the dark of the early morning or evening.  I need something to snap me out of this funk.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Weekly Log 27-Nov to 3-Dec

Monday:  0

Tuesday:  0
Intentional second zero.  Trying to back off for the third week.  If this week feels good with no pain or issues, I'll start to ramp it up again.

Wednesday:  6
Hale Reservation, Westwood, MA.  Tranquil single-track trail run at sunrise.

Thursday:  5
Morning road run at 26 degrees.  Haven't acclimated yet. 

Friday:  5
Mt. Tom Trail, Exeter.  Solo late afternoon run.  This was segment #5 of 5 in Jonathan Short's Fall Trail Segment Challenge.  Started off at hunter check station on Route 165.  I was the only one there, but intentionally got this in tonight, as tomorrow morning starts shotgun season in RI.  Mt. Tom Trail goes south from here, through some really neat white pine forest.  After a mile, it crosses Blitzkrieg Trail and Mount Tom Road, and then the segment starts.  It was still light at this point, but with some long shadows appearing that made it a little harder to navigate (yes, I have excuses for everything).  The mile segment climbs over 200', and while not very technical, a lot of it is on rock ledges.  Really nice views.  I came in 3rd on the segment, behind Jonny Hammett and Jonathan Short.
The rest of the run post-segment chasing was quite dark, and I stopped at every intersection to check Google Maps and verify I was going the right way.  Really neat area that I ended up navigating through fine, even in the pitch dark.  Perhaps not surprisingly, I never saw a single soul the whole way.
The last light of day, as the sun fades over the horizon.
Time to turn the headlamp on.

My return route took me on Sand Hill Trail.
Very easy to miss the few signs here, even with my
bright headlamp.

Next, the "Old Ten Rod Road" fire road emptied out into these
sand pits you see here, which with the moonlight cascading down gave an
extraterrestrial look.

Saturday:  11
Bluff Point and Haley Farm State Parks, Groton, CT.  Being the first day of shotgun deer season, I reached out to see if anyone else would be interested in running trails in a location where hunting is never allowed.  Two of my WTAC teammates took the bait:  Muddy and Jonathan.  Ran nearly entirely single-track, and never had to worry about hunters or even wearing orange.  While most people seem to stick to the fire roads here, there really is a neat mix of twisty single-track and rock scrambles.

Sunday:  3
Spent much of the day outdoors setting up Christmas lights.  I really enjoy being outside, even with the temps in the 30s to low 40s today.  Never quite understood how some guys can spend most of the weekend on the couch watching hours and hours of whatever sport is in season.  I guess the downside to my tendency to spend hours outside is I often don't fit in on the Monday morning "water cooler" talk about the minute details of the game, but so be it.

Anyhow, I probably wouldn't have run at all today if it weren't for Matthew saying he was going for a short run at Bradford Preserve and asking if I wanted to come.  He stuck to laps on the field, as he is slowly recovering and building easy miles, so we really didn't run together at all, as I ran parts of the Pumpkins 8K course.

Weekly mileage:  30

Weekly synopsis:  Yes, that's very low mileage, and yes, for the 3rd week in a row, but that was planned.  No regrets at all.  In fact, it was a great week, as it was the first week in many that I went the entire week pain free!  Hallelujah.  Not sure if it was due to the meds I'm on or the lower dosage of miles or a combination of both as recommended by my doctors, but I'll take it! 
So the plans next week will be to try ramping up the mileage (not to Jonny Hammett levels, but close to 50 would be nice), and then close out the week with fellow WTAC'ers in Newport for the Christmas 10K and lunch.  Not in 10K road shape, but looking forward to it!

Weekly highlight:  Solo Mount Tom run, as it was a fun challenge running the segment.  The impending pitch darkness and being deep in the woods not knowing the area gave me an extra challenge.  Close second to our group single-track run on Saturday.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Li'l Rhody Runaround 2017: Race, Stats, Graphs, and a Mystery Question

Charlestown, RI
Sunday, November 19, 2017

This fall just flew by, and all of a sudden the 26th edition of the Li'l Rhody was here.  The weather forecast did not bode well for race turnout, with rain overnight continuing until mid-morning.  By race start, it was sunny but windy and a balmy 57 degrees.  I suppose one unintended benefit of a lower turnout this year was there no long bathroom line, and thus we were able to start punctually at 11:00am sharp.

The start:  As RD, as usual, I did not get a warm-up.  No complaints, just a fact.  I jogged over to the start line, tried to keep my requisite race director remarks brief and concise, and lined up in the second row behind the speedy Hammetts, near Leslie, and out of the way of the high-school XC runners who I just knew would bolt out.
Always tight at the starting line.
(Pic by Jana)

Starting to thin out a bit.  The high school runners have bolted out.
I'm about two rows back.

The front halfThe first mile feels like a sprint to me.  3/4 of a mile is a run down a rutted dirt road (Sanctuary Road) and I'm trying to hold back a little while also trying to snag a decent spot headed into the single-track.  Sure enough, all five of the high-schoolers are ahead of me.  Many runners go around some of the deep puddles left over from the rain, but I follow Bob Jackman's lead and more efficient route of just plowing through them.  At one point just before the trailhead, two high-schoolers (Sebastian and Colby) slow to the left to take the route around another puddle, and this was opportunity to pass them through the puddle.  Evidently, I must have splashed them pretty good, as Colby said, "Thanks a lot, Mr. Walker".  I told him he's going to wet soon enough, so might as well be now! :)  Hit the mile in 5:53 and am already breathing hard.

In the second mile, in the campground, I come up to pass the Aaron, the next high-schooler.  I thought he might give more chase, but I pull away and saunter on.  As we leave the campground and enter the long straight stretch of single-track, I can see Tom a ways ahead of me and Jackman ahead of him.  This is not my favorite stretch, and I'm longing for the more twisty sections and a few rocks.

By the time I get to the long series of bog bridges, I can no longer see anyone ahead of me.  The bridges are very slippery, as I feel like I'm about to careen off of them, I intentionally slow the pace to get back under control.  The bridges here, just before and after the covered bridge, are not straight, and that's not helping.  At Klondike Road, I see Matthew filming as I turn back into the woods and fortunately have a few small rock gardens and stream crossing here.  For the next mile and a half out to the water stop and Buckeye Brook Road, I don't see anyone and don't hear anyone behind me.  Despite being in a singlet and short shorts, I'm feeling quite warm and am happy to take a cup of water at the stop.  Matthew, Crutch, and Paul are also here watching and filming.
Half-way through the race
(Pic by Paul Gray)
Thanks much to the water stop crew for being out there!

The back half:  Exiting onto Buckeye Brook Road, I am distracted (that happens quite easily) when I see a vehicle coming towards me that based upon the make, color, and a snippet of the license plate number, it appears to be Eddie.  No, that can't be, as it's owner, BLS, is supposed to be running this race, as in right now.  Color me confused.  I tell myself to focus, and am surprised to see the runner ahead of me is not Tom.  I catch up to him and see it's a different Thomas - not Tommy 5K, but another WHS runner, Thomas McLaughlin.  Judging on how quickly I catch him, I'm guessing he's fading already.  I re-enter the woods just behind him, and follow him for a 1/4 mile or so before finding a decent place to go past him.  Not long after that, I actually see his father and brother pulled off on bikes and they give me some encouragement.  I yelled that Thomas is just behind me, and moved on.

Coming up "Rhody Rise", I can see a runner ahead of me again, due to the way the trail rises and then goes right.  It's Tommy 5K again.  At the top of the rise, I hear "JeffWalker" yelled out, notice it's Justin's daughter, and I found this re-invigorated me.  The final two miles in the woods went by quickly for me.  I felt good, prefer the back half over the second half, and would see Tommy ahead of several occasions, yet could never bridge the gap. 

Exiting on to the dreaded road is always my least favorite part of the course.  I could see Tom up in the distance, knew I wasn't catching him on roads, and never looking back, I had no idea who or how far back the next runner was.  (In fact, the next runner was more than two minutes back, but it's good to run scared.)  The final 0.6 mile on the road was a 5:50 pace, so I'm happy with that.
Final stride before finish.
(Pic by Jana)

Final results:  51:27.  9th overall.  1st in age group.  Full results here.
Another year, another great orange shirt!

Tried something new with giving pint glasses for awards.  Thoughts?

With an extension cord / generator issue, I was relegated
to conducting the award ceremony from the chilly wind outside the cabin!
My trusty assistant Mike B helped to pass out awards.

From a club perspective, unfortunately, this was the smallest number of finishers in the past 18 years.  The total number of registrants was 194, as more than 30 pre-registrants didn't show up.  That is rather high, with the likely culprit the weather.  It is tough to quantify exactly how much of drop-off comes from weather, as opposed to Mews being on the same date, as opposed to just changing participants and trends over the years.  The weather factor and effect on participants is a bit of speculation, but we can take some guesses on the other two:

Mews:  Taking a look at the finishers of Mews 2017, we can see that exactly ten (10) of the 1,674 finishers of this year's Mews race ran in the 2015 Rhody (the most recent year in which they were held on the same date).  That's a pretty small number not suggesting correlation, albeit limited data points. [Note Mews and Rhody will tentatively be on the same date in 2018, but different dates from 2019 - 2021]

Repeat Runners:  How many people run the race every year? 
Number of people running the race every year the past ...
3 years in a row:  24
5 years in a row:  12
8 years in a row:  4
10 years in a row:  3
13 years in a row:  2

Mystery question:  So who are the two runners that have run it the past 13 years in a row?  Think about it, formulate your guess, and we'll have the answer for you in a jiffy.  (no cheating and scrolling down just yet)

Perhaps not surprisingly, we can see many of the same runners' names over the past few years, but if you go back 10 years, they are largely different runners than in today's race.  Races and participants change over time, and that is also a contributing factor here.

Hopefully 2017 was an anomaly, and we can return to higher numbers.

On a personal note, it remains to be seen if I've peaked and am relegated to 51+ minutes.


And now, the mystery answer:
The two runners that have run Rhody the past 13 years in a row are Colburn Graves and myself.  I've run Rhody 14 years in a row now, and Colburn has run it at least 16 years in a row (I don't have individual records before 2001.)  Our oldest club member at age 84, Colburn told me moments after crossing the finish line this year that this would likely be his last Rhody.

Very close in the Rhody streak category are Rose Buckingham (12 straight years), and Jonny Hammett (9 straight years).

Weekly Log 20-Nov to 26-Nov-2017

Monday:  8
Annual ritual of running the Li'l Rhody course the day after as a final sweep.  As usual, sweepers Mandy and Tammy did an excellent job.  Much of my run was in the dark and enjoyable; however, unfortunately, post run the pain came back.  Time to take another day off.  Frustrating.

Tuesday:  0
Planned day off.

Wednesday:  0
Unplanned day off.  Rainy and raw the whole day.  Had no motivation to get out there.  What a wimp.

Thursday:  8
30 degrees and sunny.  Beautiful day for running!  Thanks to Tommy for organizing a group run.  Trails at Grills with Muddy, FiveK, and Jonny.

Came home and signed up for Christmas 10K.  Should be a fun run and WTAC lunch outing in Newport.

Friday:  0
Intermittent pain.  Took the day off.

Saturday:  10
Solo early morning trail run before the WLT Annual Meeting at Wahaneeta.  Awesome day for running, with my kind of weather (sunny and 40s).  No pain!  Well, other than my bonehead move of slamming my shin into a stone wall.

Sunday:  10
Really fun Charlestown Beach run with FiveK, after dropping Mark off at the airport at 5:30am.  Another beautiful running day with temps in the 40s and sunny.  Road for 7 miles (~6:45 pace) and 3 miles on the beach at sunrise.  Followed it up with coffee, scones, and running conversation at The Bakery.

Weekly Mileage:  36

Weekly Synopsis:  Obviously, a very low mileage week two weeks in a row.  I just have to get this abdominal / groin / prostate issue behind me and feeling better before building up mileage again.  On the plus side, I felt pain free after both Saturday's and Sunday's runs, and relative to runs of late, those were both long runs!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Weekly Log 13-Nov to 19-Nov-2017: Winding Down

This is Rhody week.  Going to take it real easy during the week and hopefully be rested up and in good shape for the annual pre-Thanksgiving trail race.  Having seen four doctors in as many weeks, and enduring some painful runs and maladies, I'm going to try to take the latest specialist's advice of some R&R, with hopes that taking it easy combined with medication will set me right.  Or at least back to my usual self.  Minor in the scheme of things compared to people with real problems, but annoying that running has been painful lately.

Monday:  0
Planned day off.

Tuesday:  2
Super easy jog at Bradford Preserve, trying to plot out a run for the reconnaissance of the club's Jingle Bell Run.

Wednesday:  3
Another very easy jog, from Bradford Citizens Club, with another possible route for Jingle Bell.  All trails, in the dark.

Thursday:  11
AM:  8 miles.  Li'l Rhody preview in light rain.  15 minute warm-up, 10 x (1-minute on, 1 off).   I am consciously trying to run easy this week, but thought one moderately hard effort should be done.  Felt very sluggish. 
PM:  3 miles.  Ran a third option for Jingle Bell.  Not enamored with this one.  Incorporates the requested fire roads, but those are in rough shape in this section.

Friday:  0

Saturday:  5
Solo easy run on Kimball and Ninigret trails.  So seldom run on these trails.  A few blow-downs need to be cleaned up.

Sunday:  9
Li'l Rhody Runaround.  Separate race report forthcoming.

Weekly mileage:  30

Weekly synopsis:  Not a good week.  Between groin area ailments and taking it easy for Rhody, this was a planned lower week.  Hope to put this past me, and start ramping up into deciding on some type of spring marathon or long race.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Weekly Log 6-Nov to 12-Nov-2017

Monday:  6
NST from Baker Pines Road, Richmond.  Continuing Jonathan Short's fall segment contest, this is #2 of 5 for me.  Never been here before.  Well enough marked, but I got off course at a blown-down tree blocking the trail.  Fairly technical.

I had a lot of sliding and slipping here on wet rocks.
Much more technical than I had expected.
Tuesday:  13
AM:  5 miles in Cranston.  Working in Cranston for the day, I parked at the Cranston Y and ran a mix of bike path, roads, and cemetery dirt roads, where I visited my father, grandparents, and ancestors.
PM:  8 miles at Beach Pond, Exeter, RI/Voluntown, CT.  Ran segment #3 of 5 and despite getting off course twice, still took the CR.  I suspect it won't last long.

Deep in the woods south of Beach Pond.
Is this where they hid the bodies?

Circumnavigating Beach Pond on Tippecansett Trail.
Wednesday:  5
Afternoon run from Bradford Preserve into Woody.  This is the first week post-DST, and we lost an hour of daylight.  Brought my headlamp, which proved a smart move given that it got very dark halfway into my run.

Thursday:  0
Unplanned day off.

Friday:  9
AM:  5-mile run through Champlin and Mastuxet trails.
PM:  4-mile run in Belfast, Maine, with Matthew.  27 degrees was the afternoon high, and it was very windy.

Saturday:  7
Camden, Maine.  18 degrees!  Chilly, but fun mountain run in Camden Hills, including Mount Battie and Ocean Lookout.  Would like to come back in the summer and spend more time on these trails.
The climb up Mount Battie
from Route 52 was
certainly steep and technical.
The tower atop Mount Battie.
Haven't been up here in a number of
years since we camped at Camden.
It looks redone, or at least refinished.


Fun running up the rocks.
The trail signs were very well placed at intersections.
Between the trail signs and a PDF course map I had
pre-loaded on my phone, I felt very comfortable navigating
these trails.
View from atop appropriately named "Ocean Lookout".
Did not tarry long here, as the fingers and toes were getting cold.
Back in Camden village, you can see picturesque
Camden Harbor in the foreground, with the hills I climbed in the background.

Sunday:  5
Spent three hours with Matthew at Urgent Care, as he had ankle issues for a few weeks, but now hobbling.  They suspect a strained ligament, put him on crutches, and referred him to an orthopedic specialist.  Hope it clears up for him before indoor season.

In the afternoon, I headed out for segment #4 of 5:  "Canonchet North", the Narragansett Trail from Canonchet Road to North Road.  If you're familiar with this section, you'll know that this is rather technical.  Came out of it with a bloodied elbow and a raspberry on my derriere from sliding on rocks, but that's the price you pay.  Missed the CR by 34 seconds.

Weekly mileage:  46

Weekly synopsis:  46 isn't bad, but absent any specific goals, it's hard to measure.  It was fun to run 3 of the 5 segments this week.  All were technical for some sections.  I only have one left now, but will probably go back to a few to try to improve.  It's just a fun informal contest, but it has inspired me to get out there, so that's good.

Weekly highlight:  Maine mountain run, by far.  That completes the New England circuit for me, and this was the 2nd consecutive year that I have run in all six New England states.  Running in different locales is just so much fun, and New England is a pretty nice place to be.