Sunday, June 25, 2017

Weekly Log 19-Jun to 25-Jun-2017

After a huge mileage week of 70 miles last week, this one is going to be a lot less both between wanting a little retreat as well as an unusually busy workweek coming up.  With many 60+ weeks lately that I've felt really good about, I do plan to resume higher mileage.

Monday:  0
Planned zero.

Tuesday:  7
Stonington Fun Runs with Mikey.  I had planned to run hills early morning as part of a group workout, but unfortunately I was into work at 6am and flat out there 'til 5pm.  I know; cry me a river.

Anyhow, it was the first run of what is possibly the final season.  Had a good time conversing pretty much the whole time, and enjoy a post-run drink on the docks.

Wednesday:  11
AM:  8-mile Summer Solstice run with a group of 7.  Out the Sand Trail to Quonnie Breachway and back, tacked on a few more with Muddy, Jonathan, and FiveK, and then took a frigid dip in the ocean at Fenway Beach.  Hopefully many more dash and splash routines to follow.

PM:  3.  First Tom McCoy Family Fun Run of the year.  Was asked by WHS sophomore Sam Lutzel what time I was looking for, to which I replied upper 18s to 19:00.  He said he was in, and would try to stay with me, but wasn't exactly optimistic.  He stayed with me until about 1.5 miles.  As he was dropping back, I encouraged him to catch up and stay with me, but he said he was cramping. Turning onto Crandall for the final mile, I could see Matthew way up in the lead, followed by FiveK, and then a teenager I didn't know.  The teen looked back repeatedly at me.  I wasn't running all out, but certainly moderately hard at about 6 minute pace.  The gap was shortening, and as I would get closer to him, he would surge ahead.  That is usually an energy wasting move that can't be sustained, and sure enough on the final turn off Maplewood, I ran passed him easily.  Finished in 3rd at 18:40, and immediately went up to him to congratulate him on his runner, but also give him a few pointers, to which his father thanked me.

Thursday:  0
Unplanned zero.  Between posting Fun Run results, final day of 3-day vendor meetings, and driving to NH in the afternoon, just didn't work out for running.

Friday:  5
Henderson-Swasey Town Forest, Exeter, NH.  Fun single-track amongst the pines.  Easy pace.
Trails in deep pine forests.

With neat rock formations.

Saturday:  13
Exeter Trail Race, USATF-NE Trail Championship.  Rugged, grueling, hot, and "fun".  Write-up to follow shortly.

Sunday:  17 ride, 5 run
AM:  Legs pretty trashed from yesterday's race.  Was happy for a flat and easy ride with the guys instead, and then a coffee and conversation stop in Weekapaug with Mike.
PM:  "Recovery" with Matthew.  Single-track trails in Burlingame southern portion, including NST at campground entrance, Ridge Trail, VG CCW to Duhamel, and Burlingame Trail back.  Legs started out really creaky, warmed up as we went along, but still sore for sure.

Weekly run mileage:  42

Weekly synopsis:  Interesting to think that 42 is a really low mileage week for me of late!  As I mentioned early in the week (I tend to write every day or two, then post at end of week), I expected this to be a light week. 
Highlight of the week was clearly the trail race on Saturday.  Next weekend we return to Loon Mountain Race.  I'm woefully underprepared in terms of hill climbs, but I have been running more trails and distance this year, so hopefully that will have some positive effect.  Looking forward to it.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Back Road Ramble 2017

Charlestown, RI
Sunday, June 11, 2017
5.8 mile "long course"

This was the 6th edition of the Back Road Ramble.  Since we started this, we have seen the race course change four different times and have had four different race directors.  I've been told I've been the one constant on this race throughout the years.

In the inaugural version, the course was poorly marked, Jonny and I spent time trying to figure out where the course went next, and the overall course was longer than the advertised 5K.  To be blunt, the local YMCA staff, while great in their core business, just didn't have experience in putting on a trail race.  After providing some constructive but balanced criticism to YMCA management, I was asked if I would serve on the race committee the following year.  Absolutely.  This helped me realize two of my own mantras:  1) be part of the solution, not the problem (it's easy to whine about something; harder to roll up your sleeves and help fix it), and 2) people should give back to their community in some way (these benefit races don't put themselves on and many, if not most, runners vastly underestimate the efforts that go into putting on a race).

Fast forward to 2017.  Yet again, we need to find a new race course.  This time it's because Burlingame State Park has stopped allowing any outside events that go into the campground, for the duration of the camping season (April to October?).  After considering a few options, the only one that didn't involve a lot of asphalt on out and back roads (this is a trail race, after all!) hinged on the Y being able to provide one-way transportation to the start to enable a point-to-point race.  This all came together, as the principal of Chariho High School is on our race committee this year and arranged for free school bus transportation.  Awesome!

Race day.  Arrived at 6am to mark the course with Sergio, whose father the race name has been christened with as Ray Cherenzia Back Road Ramble.  I didn't know Ray personally, but have heard only good things about him, and I feel a connection as Ray was active in the WTAC and like my own father, passed away from cancer at age 58.

Easy two miles.  Started off in the front with Galoob, Jonny, Seth, and Jonathan Short.  On the dirt road down to the pond in the first mile, I announced that this was the only time I would be ahead of Jonny!  Returning from the pond onto single-track to start the second mile, we were in a group of five in single-file:  Jonny, Galoob, me, high-school freshman Aaron, and someone I didn't recognize.

Technical three miles:  At the water-stop, we left the easy trails and started on twisty, winding, single-track fun of Sammy C's.  Lots of short up and downs, lots of rock ledges.  Galoob and Jonny quickly took off, and the two on my heels dropped back leaving me running as an island.  No worries; I had become very familiar with the course by now as I had selected it, measured it, marked it, etc., and trail running definitely goes by quicker when you know the trail really well.  Sure, it was tiring, but I ran at a relatively steady pace and never got exhausted.
One of the more gnarly sections
of Sammy C's.

Still a bit of water and mud left.

Final mile:  The dreaded and unavoidable asphalt.  Like Rhody, the last mile is on Kings Factory and Prosser Trail.  I hadn't seen Jonny in a few miles, but as I popped out onto the road, I saw him again, and followed him at a distance to the finish.
Downhill finish.

Final result:  39:49, 3rd place out of 53.  1st in age group.  Results here.
Kids' runs are always fun.  You can just see their exuberance.

Beautiful waterfront with water trampoline a ways in the background.

Grabbed water, and then cooled off with a quick dip in Watchaug Pond with WTAC teammates Jonny (2nd) and Jonathan Short (4th).  Had some lunch, got awards, swam out to and bounced around on the water trampoline a bit, before it was time to hit the trails again to pick up flags and signs and finish out 16 miles on the day.  Busy, but fun day!  Got a lot of comments that the course was really challenging this year.  For me, it was the most fun BRR course yet!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Weekly Log 12-Jun to 18-Jun-2017: Big Mileage Week

Monday:  6
Cranston Bike Path, a/k/a Washington Secondary Bike Path.  Working in Providence today, I opted to run in a different place.  Went to the Cranston YMCA to drop my stuff (the YMCA network is just fantastic in that for no extra charge, you have reciprocal privileges at any Y in New England, so it makes it fantastic to be able to run and then shower and change afterwards).
With a heat wave in place, it was already approaching 80 degrees by 7am, so the shaded bike path kept me out of both the heat and traffic.  I wouldn't go all the way to Cranston just to run this, but it was an interesting diversion.
Was thinking of getting in a lunch
run.  Yeah, maybe not.
Tuesday:  7
5am road workout from my house, with Mikey and Tommy.  Worked our way out to Avondale and back, and after a 2-mile warmup, we ran 10 x (1-minute hard, 30-seconds easy).  I usually start to really feel it about the 7th iteration, but this time got through it fine.  Looking back at my splits slowing from 5:30 pace to 5:45 pace, maybe that's because I subconsciously let up too much towards the end.
Again?  I must have picked the
two worst days to work in the city.
Wednesday:  8
Hale Reservation, Dover, MA.  Fun single-track routes.  Still get myself a bit lost here, but directionally I can figure it out.
Quiet morning along Powisset Pond at Hale Reservation.
Thursday:  13
AM:  10 miles solo on Burlingame / Kettle Pond single-track.
PM:  3 miles at Jealous Monk fun run, Mystic.  Mix of road and double-track.  Good to catch up with Mike B, Melanie, Jim Roy, Jeff Anderson, and others.

Friday: 15
AM:  6 miles easy on local roads.
PM:  7 mile trail run in Woody Hill with Muddy and Matthew, followed by 2 mile trail maintenance alternating jogging with a weed-whacker and actually using said weed-whacker to trim overgrowth.  In both events we endured occasional downpours. Interesting to see that the Perry Healy Brook remains near dried up after the beaver re-damming at Woody Hill Marsh.
Other than returning to mow the upper field XC trail portion once it dries out a bit, the trails are ready to go for Sunday's Run for Sam Luzzi, the WHS sophomore diagnosed with leukemia.  Thanks much to Muddy and Jonny for coming out for trail maintenance on this rather miserable Friday afternoon.

Saturday:  12
AM:  10 miles.  Fun, but very humid run with Matthew in Jamestown. Road out-and-back from Fort Wetherill to Beavertail. 
PM:  2 miles to/fro upper field at Bradford Preserve to mow field portion of XC trail.

Sunday:  7
Run for Sam, including flagging, running 5K fun run, and course breakdown / clean-up.  Glad to see this event come to fruition.  Disappointed that we only had just shy of 40 runners, but figuring in the short notice, limited publicity, Father's Day, and intermittent downpours, I guess you can't complain.  Ran it moderately pace in just under 7 pace.  I ran behind the boys' XC runners for a while, then just like Pumpkins last year, picked them all off one by one (except Matthew of course).  While this wasn't a race, it reminds me that smart pacing can be stimulating.
Start of the Run for Sam.
Weekly mileage:  70!

Weekly synopsis:  Highest mileage week in almost two years!  Getting sore towards the end of the week, but overall felt great.  A few doubles this week. I don't see another 70 mileage week happening again soon, but I'm really happy with the mileage I've been putting in as of late.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Weekly Log 5-Jun to 11-Jul-2017: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

Do you remember the old Western "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly"?  A real classic.  Anyway, here is my version from last week:

The Good:  The bloodwork results came back.  I don't have Lyme Disease!
The Bad:  I tested positive for Anaplasmosis.  Again.  If there's a silver lining, it's that I "only" have one disease this time, the complications are less, and the treatment period is far shorter.
The Ugly:  They're both horrible diseases transmitted by ticks while they are feeding on you.  Really vile creatures.

Monday:  8
The meds are starting to be effective.  Best run I've had in a week.  'Round the pond in the rain.  Average 7:23 pace.

Tuesday:  5
50 degrees mid-afternoon, with rain again.  Ran Barn trails.  Starting to get overgrown already.  I guess this place is really best for running November through May.

Wednesday:  12

AM:  7 miles early morning with FiveK.  Included Hell Field "cut down" workout, with 2 x 800, 2 x 600, 2 x 400, 2 x 200. 
PM:  5 miles easy in Woody Hill.

Thursday:  12
Solo road run on local roads from Avondale to Misquamicut.  Made it up as I went along.  46 degrees, cool, and dry!  Started off the first couple miles in mid 7s, then was quickly humming along in upper 6:30s.  The running is coming back!  Felt great.
Came home after a great run and signed up for "The Blessing".
No, not The Blessing from Aunt Bethany.

Friday:  8
AM:  6 miles on Back Road Ramble course.  Ran both the short and long courses as I wanted to see the trail conditions given the race is now two days away.  In really great shape.  Some mud and water, but mostly dried up.  Picked up a number of branches along the way.  Stopped at each intersection to plan which ones could benefit the most from signs as opposed to flags.
PM:  2 miles.  Alternating running and using loppers to trim overhanging branches on long course, which were mostly concentrated on the sections down to North Camp and parallel single-track back.  Good to go; stop fussing.

Saturday:  6
Solo run at Bradford Preserve / Woody Hill.  Ran to inspect the WHS XC course in advance of next Sunday's Run for Sam.  Needs some minor maintenance, but not bad.
Was really impressed to see that in just three days, the beaver(s) had rebuilt their dam at Woody Hill Marsh.  Crafty creatures.

Sunday:  16!
Back Road Ramble:  Course marking, race, course un-marking.  Write-up to follow.

Weekly mileage:  67!

Weekly synopsis:  Really happy with this week.  Started the week off sick with Anaplasmosis, but the symptoms quickly went away under medication, and had a huge mileage week and a successful race at Back Road Ramble, both my own racing as well as helping this come to fruition.  Next week's heat wave will slow me a bit, but hopefully it's short lived.
No slouching for me this week!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Race Shirt Dilemma

It is said that the first step to curing an addiction is admitting you have a problem.  OK, here goes:

I am a hoarder.  Probably of too many things, but to be clear, I am a hoarder of race shirts.  

I have more race shirts than I know what to do with.  At the start of each winter, I heft my short sleeve shirts and singlets up into the attic for storage, and bring down my long sleeve shirts, quarter zips, etc.  Recently I just reversed the winter storage process, brought down my summer race shirts, and was somehow astounded by how many containers I now have of race shirts.  How did this happen?

I know that when I go to registration to get a race shirt, no matter how ugly I feel the race shirt, no matter if all they have left is extra-large, no matter how unlikely that I will ever wear the shirt, I take it.  It's like eating a meal at a restaurant; I may be full, but I paid for the dinner, so I have to eat it all.  Time to stop this nonsense!

Anyone else have a race shirt problem?  I'd love to hear about it.  Here are just a few of the shirts that made the recent toss pile to go to charity:
How many drab green shirts do I need?

The Newport Christmas 10K is a fun race,
but seriously, would you wear this outside of the house?

What?!  Sacrilege!  How could I get rid of a
Boston Marathon shirt?
First of all, it's from back when they were cotton,
and second, it's nearly thread-bare.

The only reason I considered holding onto this one is because
it's from a trail race I ran in Colorado years back.
But it's also two sizes too big.  Good-bye.

Say it isn't so.  I'm not really giving away a tech shirt, am I?
This is the infamous 2014 Blessing shirt that due to the large orange crescent-shaped press-on overlay, had horrible chafing.
Wore it once, and two miles into a long run with chafed nipples, took it off and threw it on the side of the road.
Why did I even go back to pick it up?
I'm a proud alumnus, keep up with the coach and team
members to this day, but just don't need yet another white
cotton t-shirt.


I did it!  Took 62 race shirts
to the charity bin.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Weekly Log 29-May to 4-Jun-2017: Temporarily Slain

Lost three CRs this week.  😞  All were fast and legit:  downtown Providence, Pawcatuck, and unfortunately my only CR on the west coast (Seaside, Oregon).

Monday:  16
1)  Early morning 6 mile run / hill workout with Matthew.  Wanted to get a run in before a planned group ride at 7:30am.  Ran from Stonington High School out the trails to Field Street, where I ran 5 x Field Street hill.  Only 1/4 mile long, but at 10% grade, probably one of the steepest hills of its length in Westerly or Stonington.

2) 9 mile run with Mikey and Tommy, as the group ride got changed to a group run due to the weather.  Running on East Beach in front of the Ocean House, we got pelted with cold rain.  Some Memorial Day!  Running the short trail in Avondale, I slipped in my road shoes on a wet, muddy, 90 degree turn and went down.  A little mud and blood - no worse for the wear!  The rain let up and then stopped altogether for a while, so we went back to the beach - this time to run out to the tip of Napatree, where we paused at the ruins of Fort Mansfield.
Built in 1899, Fort Mansfield was erected to add to our coastline
defenses and remained in operation from 1901 - 1917.
Tuesday:  0
Felt tired and sore.  Skipped the day.

Wednesday:  13
AM:  7 miles on the Blue Heron Trail.  Hadn't been here in a while due to ongoing construction disrupting my 10-mile loop, but changed to a 7-mile lollipop instead.  Why am I still tired?  Ran easy.

PM:  6 miles at F Gilbert Hills State Park.  Had to stop frequently as I get disoriented in here, and used GPS location on my phone compared to a map to try to figure direction and place.  Some really cool single-track in here, that I'd like to continue to explore.  Took one CR, but it's not run often and the paces were quite slow.
I like it when trail designers take the time to incorporate
natural features such as running alongside this boulder.

Keep your eyes on the trail, if you want to remain upright!
A dumping ground for 1950s (?) era cars?

Thursday:  5
Goddard Park, Warwick.  Had to give a presentation in the Providence office in the morning, and return to the Westerly office in the afternoon.  Perfect situation for a lunch time run on the Goddard Trails.  Sleepy and out of it.  Reclined the seat and leaned back just a little when I arrived at the beach at Goddard, and promptly fell asleep!  At 12 Noon with lots of little kids playing loudly at the beach.

I blamed the 81 degree heat on my lethargy, but my body is feeling really creaky and achy as I run. Ugh.  Ran a slow loop on easy trails, and kind of enjoyed it, and kind of wanted it to end.

Back in Westerly, after work, I am walking to my car in 70-degree sunshine at 5pm and I start to shiver uncontrollably.  Uh-oh.  I think I know what this is, and I don't want to wait until tomorrow to try to get in to see my PCP in Wakefield.  Drove to South County Hospital Urgent Care, where I was duly impressed with this new facility in Westerly and its caregivers.  The nurse taking my vitals informs me I am running a fever with a high temperature.  That confirms it for me, given chills, shivering, lethargic for a few days, achy, and creaky, my medical history, and now a fever, but let's defer to the doctor.

Diagnosis:  will officially await blood test results, but she is "highly confident" that I have either Lyme (again), Anaplasmosis (again), or both (again).  Certainly not appealing for sympathy, but I also don't need to be chided for my lifestyle choices of running in the woods.

She asks me questions such as "how much time do you spend in the woods" (about 5-8 hours per week), "why do you spend so much time in the woods" (only a non-trail runner or non-outdoors enthusiast would ask this), "how many ticks have you been bitten by in the past 4 weeks?"  (about 4), "how many miles do you run per week?" (about 60 lately).  Upon each answer, she gave me what appeared to be a perplexed or perhaps even disapproving look, such that I got mildly defensive and starting extolling the virtues I have experienced from my chosen activity (safe from traffic and exhaust, lower weight, lower heart rate, lower cholesterol, more endurance and energy, etc), to which she responded that it's all very impressive, but really confirms her suspicions on the diagnosis.  Oh, OK.  I was afraid her writing was on an admission ticket to a psychiatric hospital, and if she next asked "weren't you the guy that was spotted last week running into the woods with a can of gasoline?", and I answered truthfully, that would seal the psych ward deal.

Friday:  0
No running today.  Not no way, not no how.  Spent most of the day on the couch, miserable.

Saturday:  5
What I had hoped to do:  Run the Cranmore Mountain Run
What I actually did:  A 10-minute pace local run.  More of a shuffle, actually, but I was out there.

Sunday:  5
Need to minimize the amount of direct sunlight I get while on the Lyme meds, and since I slept in and the sun was up by the time I dragged myself out, that means I'm back in the woods with my friends (the ticks).    Ran dirt roads in Burlingame.  Felt better than yesterday.

Weekly Mileage:  45

Weekly Synopsis:  Obviously a disappointing week.  Started the week strong and by mid-week, it was all headed downhill fast.  I'm hoping this latest illness bout will resolve quickly and I'll back running well soon.