Monday, February 27, 2017

Weekly Log 20-Feb to 26-Feb-2017: Minks and Measuring

Transition week from snow to warmer weather.
From one season to the next:
Rinsed off the snowshoes and put them in the sun to dry,
while I assembled the new outdoor fireplace.

Monday:  7
Presidents' Day run with Tommy 5K and Riley.  Roads with a tinge of beach at low tide mixed in.

Tuesday:  5
Late afternoon run in the Barn.  When I ran here last week, it was on snowshoes, but they wouldn't have made much sense today with the trails almost completely bare to the ground. 

Getting out of my car on Palmer Neck Road about the start my run, a woman ran by me on the road and said "Really brave to be out here with bare legs.".  Really?  It's 42 degrees!  Looked up to see her wearing a hat under a hood, gloves, and a DOWN WINTER JACKET!  I don't wear a down jacket in runs at -5F, but to each his (or her) own.

Fun trail run.  First time in almost 2 weeks on bare trail.

Wednesday:  3
Course measuring for Back Road Ramble.  Had intended to wheel-measure both the short and long course, but after getting done with the short course, I realized a slow pace pushing a wheel would not combine well with impending darkness. 

Thursday:  6
Returned to B-game to wheel measure the long course, which unfortunately got denied, but the Y is working on that.  At one point, the wheel got jammed between a root and a rock, and I smashed my shin into it.  Man, did that hurt!  When finished, I ditched the wheel in the woods to pick up later and wanted to run the same route (Sammy C's) back, but ran out of time as I was already going to be late to work.  Don't you hate it when work gets in the way of a good run?
On Buckeye Brook Road, just before parking the car, I saw a strange looking
animal on the side of the road that at first I thought was a cat.  It stopped completely
and just looked at me, so I got out my cell phone to snap a pic, but was not quick
enough.  Fisher cat and mink came to mind and after researching on the 'net
and especially finding this pic, I'm very confident that mink it is!

Friday:  14
AM:  11-mile Richmond/Hopkinton loop from Arcadia Y.  Pastoral farms, horses, snow-covered fields, raging streams and rivers.  Beautiful and very quiet country run, as I ran for miles between seeing the occasional car.
PM:  3 miles.  Measuring new Stonington Cross-Country 5K course.  Just needs some minor tweaking so we can have same start/finish.

Saturday:  16
Second day of Richmond/Hopkinton hilly country roads (different start and loop).  Also the second consecutive day of overdressing, as it was in the low 60s (yes, it's Feb) and I should have worn a singlet instead of a long-sleeve shirt.
Challenging run with Tommy, with 2 x 3 mile intervals at MP.  Rolling hills took a lot out of me, but glad we got this one in.  I figured we ran average of about 7:05 and was pleasantly surprised to learn the pace was 6:42.

Sunday:  11
Fun group run of five.  Crutch was our guide in Pachaug, as I've only been in there once before.  Trails along rivers, good challenging climbs, and great views topped the day.  Very sore after yesterday's run, and I'm sure today's didn't help.  Looking forward to a zero tomorrow.
Technical single-track along a stream.

Crossover trail from Pachaug to Quinebaug.

Weekly Mileage:  63

Weekly Synopsis:  Great week!  High mileage, quality 16-mile MP workout on paces faster than I expected, and completed course planning for potentially three new courses at two upcoming events.  Next week will be less mileage, as I'll be running Ocean's Run Half on Sunday as a tune-up.


Monday, February 20, 2017

Weekly Log 13-Feb to 19-Feb-2017: Reveling in Winter!

Trying to enjoy as much fun in the snow as possible, before it inevitably melts away.  :(

Monday:  5
Usually take Mondays off, but the opportunity presented itself for another snowshoe run.  Wahaneeta wasn't plowed, so I parked at the baseball field and snowshoed Moorehouse Preserve fields and around the baseball complex.  Brutal!  Tough breaking through the crust on top of the snow and winter was howling.  Contemplated taking a DNF after 3/4 mile, but then I got into the woods and it got much better.

Took a lap around the perimeter trails following in someone's snowshoe steps from a couple of days ago before the inch of snow/ice.  (I later found out it was the WLT president and her husband.)  After making one lap, I figured a second lap might be easier after my first set of tracks.  Indeed it was.  Finishing two laps, I mused that a 3rd lap would be progressively easier after 2 passes.  I know readers must be very impressed with my deductive reasoning skills by now.  Besides, the 3rd lap would be in the dark, so that would be fun.  Turned on the headlamp, and enjoyed it.

Tuesday:  4 (snowshoe hike)
Got an e-mail from the WLT that they were having a snowshoe hike this morning, so I managed to make it work.  When I learned they were planning to snowshoe in Woody Hill, I was extra excited.  The first stop for our group of about eight was a Civil War cemetery, and after that I was asked if I could lead them on "my" new trail that we held the Pumpkins race on (the Hansel & Gretel trail).  A few said they thoroughly enjoyed the trail and planned to come back.  After learning (and continuing to learn) so much from the WLT, I was thrilled to be able to give back just a tad and show a new trail and answer questions some had about the dam, the Perry Healey Brook, and town acquisitions.
First snowshoe stop:  the Crandall Civil War era cemetery

Snowshoeing Hansel & Gretel
In late afternoon, met up with Tommy 5K and the director of Stonington Recreation to discuss plans for a likely end of summer XC fun run.  When I showed up at Tom's office and said I had an appointment with Tommy 5K, the receptionist asked me how to spell his last name.  Um, it's "5-K", unless you want the full variant of "F-I-V-E-K".  I don't know why she was confused by me, but fortunately Tom saw me and waved me in.  We had a productive meeting with a lot of positive vibes, and am just working out final details now.

Wednesday:  5
Barn Island.  Shorts and snowshoe snafu.  Still very new to snowshoe running, I made a major faux pas of wearing shorts.  At 46F, shorts is usually just a no-brainer, but apparently not when snowshoe running, as the kicked up snow and ice made a red, raw mess of my legs.  The one trail where I was tracking virgin snow was the worst.  Thought about quitting early.  Nah, you're out there; suck it up, Cupcake, and make the best of it and you can whine later.
Ouch, the legs are getting cold and raw.
Toughed it out.

On the plus side, while the marshes now have bare and mud spots,
the deep woods still have quite a bit snow.
Really hoping the snow holds out a few more days.

Thursday: 6
Hale Reservation, Dover, MA.  Thought I would try to run in Yak-Trax today, but between deep snow in MA, and plows out on roads after an overnight snowfall, this just didn't work out.  Fortunately, I had packed multiple wardrobes and sets of shoes and equipment, so I had options.  Isn't running supposed to be inexpensive and simplistic, where you just put on pair of shoes and go?

So back to snowshoeing.  5th of out last 6 days have seen time on snowshoes.  Certainly enjoying it.  Today's snowshoe run was no exception, except when I accidentally kicked the aluminum edges of the snowshoes in to the back of my legs still sore from yesterday.  Ouch.  There were some tracks on all but one of the trails I was on, but the tracks were under a few inches of snow, there was more than a foot of snow on the trails, and the going was tough and slow.  Dressed too warm and overheated quickly.  Power hiked all the steeper hills, as that was especially tough going, and let's be honest here; the aging gazelle needed a few short breathers after snowshoeing in snow over a foot deep.
Fresh powder.  Just beautiful.

I wonder why no one was picnicking today.

Deep in the woods, a river flowing through snow and ice floes.  Tranquil and beautiful.

Friday:  5
Back to Woody Hill.  Was able to put the Yak-Trax to good use today, as I ran the [mostly] packed down trails that we snowshoed as a group on Tuesday.  With temps about 26 degrees, the snow was good and crunchy.  Yakked for 4 miles, and threw on the snowshoes for 1 mile just to see what snowshoe running on frozen snow was like.  Not surprisingly, much faster!

Saturday:  20!
Long run with Tommy 5K.  For something different, met up at Springbrook School and ran roads mostly in North Stonington and Hopkinton.  Tom wasn't sure if he was in for 16 or 20, but I'm really glad he stayed for the full punishment.  Enjoyed the quiet country roads.  Tough hill climbs, but company and conversation definitely helped the time and distance go by.
1) Boombridge climb was the longest and greatest elevation gain, but 2) Clarks Falls climb was the steepest.
By the time we got to 3) Collins climb and 4) Potter Hill climb, they just beat me up.

Sunday:  6
The weather has made a markedly warmer turn.  I got my wish for the snow to hang around a few more days, but it's melting fast, so I got out there in 59-degree temps for likely a final snowshoe for a while.  Quite a few bare spots are springing up.
Final snowshoe run for a while.  There is still some deeper snow in
shaded sections (such as here on the perimeter trail of Wahaneeta Preserve),
but it's melting fast.

Weekly mileage:  48

Weekly synopsis:
I would like to be getting into the 50s, so not far off.  I've also got to keep it fun, and this week that was definitely accomplished playing in the snow.  Got out on to the snow-covered trails 6 out of 7 days this week.  What I really want to try, if not this season then next, is a snowshoe race.

In the meantime, with 8 weeks before the Newport marathon, next week should be back to some higher mileage and some MP pace training, before backing off a bit the following week of Ocean's Run Half.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Weekly Log 6-Feb to 12-Feb-2017: The Return of Winter!

February picture on my 2017 running calendar in my office.
Why am I toiling behind a desk, instead of out on adventure runs in cool places?
Oh, yeah, I need to toil in order to pay for cool adventures.
Or, as a running friend quipped to me today,
"I work so I can live, not live to work".
Monday: 7
Course scouting at Stonington High School.  Really happy that Tom, as both a WTAC runner and Stonington school system employee, is helping out with negotiating events at SHS.  Tom joined me today to help evaluate and plan out a course for an August event which I think we'll call Summer Cross Country Fun Run.

Tuesday:  5

Wet rainy run on slippery rocks at Riverbend Preserve.  Did a little exploring on an alternate trail that also starts near the campground, but veers out of Riverbend.  Boy, did it get sketchy real fast.  Ended up behind what looked like some sort of industrial dumping ground off Frontage Road.
One sketchy trail led me to this.
I don't think this vehicle has moved in a few decades.

It's a shame this area is defiled.
Some really neat rock ledges.
I hope the WLT is successful one of these days
in expanding Riverwood and getting
a better access point.
Wednesday:  6
Late afternoon progression run on local roads.

Thursday:  7
SNOWSTORM!!!  6 mile run with Matthew in whiteout conditions in a winter snowstorm.  No other runners or walkers out on this run.  Fun to be out there, but in open spaces the snow was stinging my face.  Winds up to 32 mph.

Matthew running in the snowstorm.

1+ mile snowshoe run 'round the neighborhood.  Unplowed streets at night with a headlamp.  Tough going.  My neighbor Greg was out shoveling when I came by running in snowshoes with my pulsating headlamp.  He said, "Jeff, I would call you crazy, but you just go way beyond that.".  I like Greg!
What the run and snowshoe didn't take out of me,
the heavy and deep shoveling the next morning did.

Friday:  9
Roads, ice, and deep snow.  Ran CCW on the 'Round the Pond loop.  As Matthew had warned me, the ice was not unexpected on Atlantic Ave.  In fact, it was welcomed, as I had put Yak-trax in my pockets.  Had fun running on the ice, even did a few fast strides on them.
The micro-spikes in front and
coils in the back kept me upright on Atlantic Ave.
Bummed when the ice ended and resumed on bare pavement until I got to Cove Road and was able to put them on again for another short trek.  After the next few miles on pavement and now in the dark on Shore Road, it was good to duck into the woods in Champlin.  Deep powder!
Deep powder in Champlin under a full moon.

Saturday:  5
A planned full moon snowshoe run fell apart Friday evening.  Another attempt at a group snowshoe run for Saturday morning fell apart.  I got an invite for a 16-mile road run from two of the newest club members, who are both new to Westerly and training for Boston.
What I should do:  accept the run invite, promote community running, and get in some marathon training myself.
What I actually did:  reflect on the invite for a while and eventually decline in favor of a solo snowshoe run.  I knew if I didn't get out on the trails, I would be cranky.   Making fresh tracks on NST from the campground was quite tough.  Once I got to VG, it was "easier", due to fresh snowshoe tracks already out there.  I caught up to the snowshoe track maker, passed her and her dog saying hello, and trekked on as far as the covered bridge before turning around. 
Snowshoeing in Burlingame:
I never get tired of the majestic beauty of winter.

The Covered Bridge, aptly covered in snow.

Perry Healey Brook ensconced in powdery snow.  Beautiful.

After reading "Running While Female:  A Special Report on the Scourge of Harassment" [Runner's World, December 2016], I am careful to just say hello to single female runners I encounter and keep going, so hopefully I don't make my female counterparts uncomfortable.  However, after I turned around at the bridge, and caught back up to the same woman snowshoeing, something made me stop and talk to her.  She was very comfortable talking to me about this being her first time on this trail, so I decided she was OK talking to me and I stayed for a couple minutes to talk about the trail and her dog.  I felt badly as she explained her dog had just gone blind, the dog used to like coming out snowshoeing with her, etc.  Next I came across an XC skier, also a female out by herself, and I got the sense that she was keeping her distance from me, which is fine, so it was a "hello" and move on.

Back home and making more snow adventures.
Some day I will grow up.  Today is not that day.

Sunday:  7
Another day of skipping a long run.  Yes, it was cold and snowy, but Jonny got in a 21-miler, so no excuses.  Actually, I am full of excuses:  a very late night out [anything beyond 9pm constitutes a late night], a neighbor cracking open a very fine 21-year old single malt (does that count instead of a 21-miler?), and rich food at a neighborhood party. 

Way out of my budget, but oh so smooth.
Went out in a snowglobe, ran wet snow covered streets until I got to the beach, where I was just pelted by freezing rain on the face and legs.  Returned in a snow-rain mix before it went over to all rain.  :(

Weekly mileage:  48

Weekly synopsis:  Disappointing quantitative effort.  Great qualitative effort.  I should be upset with myself for skipping the long run, and it's certainly not going to help me with the marathon, but life is short and playing out in the snow was much more appealing to me.  Have fun out there, friends!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Old Mountain Field 2017

South Kingstown, RI
Saturday, February 4, 2017

I love Saturday races.  And technical trail runs.  January was the first non-racing month for me since 2014.  After a hiatus of nearly two months since my last race, it was time to jump back into the water. Only this time, unlike the last running of OMF, there would be no water, but plenty of frozen ruts and crunchy ground.

Flash back to the start of the 2014 OMF 5K!
Longing for another snow race like this.

Warm up:  Arrived 55 minutes early, to give myself plenty of time for registration and a good warm-up.  Quickly ran into Muddy at registration table.  I thought we had plenty of time to warm up, but Muddy was doing some freak stuff with his gloves, as the fingers were inside out and it took up 30 minutes of our time.  It was more like two minutes, but since it seemed to bother him, I'll mention it here.  Anyway, we had a really good warm-up, as we ran the entire course, and stopped just before the finish as we were shocked to see a Chris Garvin look alike.  Wait a minute, it is Chris Garvin!  Back from sunny CA for a day (or so it seemed).

Lining up:  The race started about 10 minutes late.  RD Mike Galoob must have said something, as the crowd started moving towards the starting line.  Much of the starting line was occupied by youngsters, and my concern was that they would be faster than me out of the gate and I would end up stuck behind a number of them on the trails where it would be hard to pass.  I lined up near Jonny, Jonathan Short, and Leslie O'Dell on the far left part of the starting line, realizing the youngsters had the better tangent to reach the first right-hand turn on the course.
Lining up at the start.  I'll have to get out quick to get
past a number of youngsters on the right.
(Pic by Jana)

The start:  The race started and I did my best to sprint out to get a good position.  Nearly went down in the chaos of the mass start but pushed hard and by the time we crossed the road and hit the trail, I reckoned I was in about 15th place.  I saw Jonny ahead of me, but he was at least 4 positions ahead.  Near the top of the ascent up the "mountain", a very tall runner with lots of gray hair went past me.  I figured that his gray hair meant he was old and likely in my age group, so I've got to go with him.  I was now at the back of a train of four runners, and running fairly easily, but there was nowhere to pass on the technical stuff for a while, especially crossing that rock-hewn stream bed. 

The swamp:  When the trail opened up into a frozen swamp, Tall Guy went around one runner and I followed suit.  He went past the next runner and I joined him jumping frozen puddles to get past.  Now he picked up speed as we caught up to a Rhode Runner and he went around him.  I attempted to get around Rhode Runner as well, but he wasn't making it easy for me.  I felt like I was running my fastest through scrub brush and then had to jump a downed tree off the trail, but finally got around him.  Well, he must not have been happy with us as he came roaring back on the next straightaway and passed both me and Tall Guy in a single bound, as if to say, "You shall not pass".  Tall Guy and I settled in behind Rhode Runner, as we started climbing out of the swamp back to Old Mountain.  I felt the pace slowing again, but this was no place for me to try to pass going uphill on narrow single-track.
I'm hoping that Rhode Runner is not as angry at us as Gandalf.

'Round the PondAfter the last climb, we turn down a steep narrow single-track that empties into a wider trail just before bridge across the river.  It was at this point that Tall Guy re-passed Rhode Runner.  I followed suit, and we were not immediately challenged this time.  Somewhere on the trail around the pond, we were able to pass one more person.
Re-entering the trails after the pond.

Finalizing Position:  After rounding the pond, we re-entered the trails again, with me right behind Tall Guy still.  I knew I could push it harder, but also wanted to be strategic about where I tried to pass Tall Guy.  Two more climbs to go.  Right behind Tall Guy for the climb including the stone stairs, and after reaching the apex and starting to descend, it was time for me to make a move.  Went by him just before some twisty rhododendrons, and then pushed hard downhill to lessen the chance of being overtaken.  Up the final twisty climb now, I actually caught up to the next runner.  At the top of that final climb, Chris was there egging me on to pass him on the switchback headed downhill.  Thanks Chris!  I did, sprinted, and never looked back.
Starting my final descent,
just before passing final runner.
(Pic by Chris)
Gazellin' downhill on the edge of control,
after passing final runner.  Just before finish.

Final results:  21:25.  9th overall of 141.  1st in age group.  Full results here.

Kiss and make up:  Post-race, I couldn't stay long as I was headed up to Matthew's meet in Providence, but I did make a point to thank Tall Guy for pulling me along through the race.  And checking results later in the day, it turns out that not only is this guy NOT in his 50s, he's not even in his 40's!  What a terrible judge of age on my part.  In retrospect, I should have just run my own race.  Hindsight is 20/20.  The Rhode Runner that we passed, were overtaken, and repassed came up to me excitedly and said, "Nice effin race, man!", so all is good.

Bonehead finale:  As I'm leaving the race, I see Muddy fretting about and calling himself a bonehead about something, so I inquire.  It turns out he can't find his green NRA hat that he took off after his warm-up.  Wait a minute.  I check my bag as I know I brought the same green NRA hat, and sure enough, I now have two green NRA hats in my bag.  Yeah, I'm the bonehead.  Sorry, Muddy!

Great race!  Great fun!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Weekly Log 30-Jan to 5-Feb-2017: OMF Week

Monday:  0

Tuesday:  5
Finally some snow returns!  5 mile afternoon run with Matthew.  Mix of roads and beach.
Running in the falling snow at Westerly Town Beach.

Wednesday:  11
AM:  5 miles.  Taking advantage of the new-fallen snow, albeit only 3", I headed to Bradford Preserve and tried out the new snowshoes.  Last year, I had asked Jonny for advice on snowshoes, and he on his brother Greg's advice, he ran in Atlas running snowshoes.  Sold.  Last month I bought a new pair of Atlas Run Snowshoes, and of course they arrived the day after the last of the snow melted.  Had fun; got more used to them the further into the run I went.  Will really want to try them on packed snow as well as deeper snow.
Should I bring my Yak Trax or new snowshoes?
Let's bring both and figure it out.

With only 3" of snow, didn't really need either,
but a good time to try out the snowshoes.

Beautiful out in the woods

PM:  6 miles.  The snow is melting fast, so I headed to Barn at lunchtime for a run.  There were cross-country ski tracks on the main double-track, but I was making fresh tracks in the single-track.

Thursday:  0
 The snow is gone.  I lost interest in running today.

Friday:  6
Easy-pace road run.  A couple of times when cars went past me, I could actually taste the salt from the road.  That and the exhaust I sucked in gave me a bad taste for the roads.  Got off Watch Hill Road at Avondale Preserve and ran the short trails there, before returning via Shore Road.

Saturday:  6
Old Mountain Field 5K.  See separate write-up.

Sunday:  16
Back to Woody Hill trails.  Had planned on meeting FiveK and Riley (his dog) at 8am, so I got there at 7:30am and ran the Run for the Pumpkins Trail 5K course first.  Met up with those two back at the parking lot at 8am, and somehow FiveK had coaxed Mikey B into coming out on the trails.  Surprising but welcome addition.

Since we ran here as a group just a week ago, I opted to run CCW this time, and add on some different trails including Fern Drive and Wahaneeta trails.  Mikey, the roadie, was getting excited when he saw Fern Drive about to change from dirt to asphalt and thought I was about to indulge him by running on paved roads.  Nada.  Not happening.  Turned from there onto the double-track heading down to the Swamp Bypass Trail.  Finished up with a loop around the Woody Hill pond and over the beaver dam before returning to Bradford Preserve.

Back at the parking lot, 11 miles in, I was still feeling good, so I bid the other three adieu, and went back to hit more hilly and technical trails.  Went on the trail that fords the Perry Healey Brook just down from the beaver dam; first time I had been on that trail in over a year.  So much fun in the Woody, but hunger pangs brought this jaunt to an end.  This is my longest run exclusively in Woody Hill ever.

Weekly mileage:  44

Weekly synopsis:  I knew that this would be a low mileage week, especially going into OMF, so I was for once fine with that.  Really fun week, with highlights being playing in the snow, OMF race, and Woody Hill trail long run.  Next week should be back to a big mileage week.