Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Snowmageddon! Blizzard week of 1-26 to 2-1

And there I was, thinking we were gonna make it through winter without getting a solid snowstorm...and NO!!!  Wrong, dummy!  Mother Nature is about to drop the hammer on New England, with a nice fat blizzard.  Unless you've been living under a rock for the last few days, you've already heard about it, and we're set to get hit with 15-30" of the white stuff, with locally higher amounts possible.  I'm working Monday a.m., and most likely won't get a run in.  No worries...

Sunday is the Narragansett Super 5k, one of my "legacy" races, and I never miss it.  I'm shooting for a PR.  Will it happen?  I think so...previous results below:

2010 - 25:57
2011 - 26:57
2012 - 25:12
2013 - 22:03
2014 - 21:35

If I feel good and go out strong, who knows?

And in other news here in North Stonington...

Mountain Lions!  In my town?  The State DEEP has (and will) deny it to the hilt, but a number of NoSto residents have reported seeing them in recent weeks:


So move over, hybrid wolfdogs!  There's a new sheriff in these woods...and honestly, I wouldn't be surprised at all to come across one, although they're too stealthy and I'm too loud and clunky to see one of the big cats.  There have been a couple of times though, where I felt like something in the woods was checking me out (and not in a good way), and is one of the reasons why I run with a blade when I run alone in the woods.  You just never know, but so far all I've come across on trails have been sketchy people, not animals :)

It's gonna be a snowy, cold and uncertain week...we'll see what Tuesday brings (besides a crapload of shoveling)!

Monday, 1-26 - 0 Miles - Work in the a.m., and last-minute storm prep in the p.m.  I hate to say it, but I might very well break down tomorrow and fire up the treadmill if there's zero chance of running outside...might give me a chance to try one of the Daniels treadmill workouts, anyway...

Tuesday, 1-27 - 2 Miles (Road) - Snow-covered hill run with the dog.  No treadmill!  Shoveled 2 feet of snow for three hours, then changed and took the dog for a run up the road.  Trails were NOT an option...cold, still snowing and breezy, but we had a great time, Henry and I!

Monday, January 19, 2015

More Muddy Miles! Week of 1-19 to 1-25

No snow, some ice, but mostly mud this winter thus far.  Two weeks to the Super 5k, and I'm getting some good runs in: some roads, lots of trails, and everything at a seemingly faster pace.  I think I'm in good shape for the race, and as it's an out-and-back that I know very well, I'll be shooting for a 10-minute midway.  It's very slightly ascending for the first half, and descending the second half, so if I make the split at 10, I've pretty much got the sub-20 5k I've been looking to snag...we'll see!

Monday, 1-19 - 9.6 Miles (Trail/Road/Beach) - 8 Mile group run with some of the crew, and a dog jog with Henry later.  Run #1:  Met at Jeff's place for a run planned by Mike B., which included a cruise to Watch Hill, then a high-tide beach run back to Misquamicut.  I was suckin' wind on this run.  Partly because my legs were fatigued from the run the day before, and partly because the group's "conversational pace" is just a bit slower than my race pace...so I gasped out answers to questions when I could, and wasn't quite as chatty as I'd normally be.  Fun, but I was working hard (especially on the beach!) and was thankful for the short break after the beach where Shara snapped this picture:

Don't slip!

In the afternoon, I took Henry out for a jog and played around with the GoPro, but didn't like the footage I got.  He had fun though!  Needs to be a more epic run to translate well in video...

Tuesday, 1-20 - 4 Miles (Road) - Watch Hill cruisin'.  Dropped the dog off at the groomers and had some time to kill, so I hit Watch Hill and meandered around.  Chilly, but a bright sunny day, and lots of cool sights to see!

Watch Hill lighthouse

Napatree Point!


(Added another nearly 2 miles on sloppy Wheeler XC trails, along with a few parking lot pickups, while I waited for my daughter's basketball practice to finish.  Thought I had more time, apparently not!  Got home to find this in the mail:

Following the lead of some of my fast friends, I'm gonna check this book out...)

Wednesday, 1-21 - 0 Miles - Planned 0, and got a bunch of things done 'round the house, along with work in the a.m.  Needed a day off anyway to let some soreness/fatigue subside.  Started reading the book, and the good doctor stresses rest time as a crucial component of training...agreed, and noted, and way too easy to forget.  Funny, I also recognize myself as one of those without natural ability, but with an inherent desire to perform well, so I suppose that's a good thing?

Thursday, 1-22 - 4 Miles (Road) - Watch Hill again!  My last three runs have been in Watch Hill...gorgeous place, and I notice something different every time I'm there.  For example, local running friends, has anyone noticed the disturbing as Hell bunker built into the hill in the backyard of one of the houses on Yosemite Valley Road, with the green cast-iron doors, barred windows, and a deathcamp-style industrial sized exhaust vent?  It's creepy, awesome, and I need to get a picture of it...there's also just so many cool architectural features in Watch Hill, and the Ocean to run along.  Great place.  I also managed a peppy segment attempt on the Taylor Swift segment and got it!  33 seconds from the carousel to the corner in front of her driveway.  Not bad!

Friday, 1-23 - 0 Miles - Visit to the Doc to have the knee checked out, and I'll likely be going for a visit to a specialist and getting an MRI in the near future.  Still doesn't hurt when I'm running, so the Doc said I can continue to run until we know what the deal is.

Saturday, 1-24 - 0 Miles - Chillin' with the family.

Sunday, 1-25 - 3 Miles (Trail) - Local trails with Henry.  Crunchy, snow covered trails, mid-late afternoon and perfect...

Crunchy winter trail run...

Hetchel Swamp/Pendleton streams converge

Sun getting low...

Let's go!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Need for Speed: Week of 1-12 to 1-18

With no races scheduled until the Narragansett Super 5k on Super Bowl Sunday, I'll be working on getting faster!  I'd really like to obliterate my course PR here (21:35), and my overall 5k PR.  I started off the year right with a great race at the Resolution 5k, and I want to continue having fun and trying to improve at the same time!

Monday, 1-12 - 0 Miles - Workin' Wolcott...Castle Craig calls again...anyone looking for an outing, let me know because I'm gonna do it...

Tuesday, 1-13 - 2.3 Miles (Trail) - Wheeler XC spin, waiting for basketball practice to finish.  Peppy pace, almost dark, and cold!  Although the trails were frozen, crusty mud that my feet punched through on parts of the trail, I still banged out some pretty decent numbers, including a new CR on the straightaway trail.  Yes, I'm the only one who's ever run the segment on Strava, but out of 17 attempts, this was my best at a 5:52 pace.  Not bad!

Wednesday, 1-14 - 3 Miles (Trail/Forest Roads) - Pachaug Forest run.  Found myself cruising through Voluntown, after a successful search to find my wife 1 more skein of a particular yarn she needed to finish a sweater...and with little time to spare, I quickly hit the trail and got moving.  Increasing pace throughout, although I had to use the forest road for a bit as they're doing some cutting on the Nehantic Trail and had a section blocked off.  Cold, and icy on the roads.  Salomon shoes were perfectly grippy though, and I didn't wipe out once!  Thought I might have seen a black bear far away down the road when I got off the trail...not sure though.  Need a longer run this week!  The short stuff is fun, but I'd like to log some miles...

Thursday, 1-15 - 4 Miles (Road) - Short, "dodgy" run in Westerly.  Flurries flying and an overcast 28 degrees in Westerly.  I originally wanted to cruise around in Watch Hill, but just couldn't block out enough time for it.  Instead, I fit a progressively faster 4-mile run in, and only almost got hit by cars twice.  Does anyone even stop at STOP signs anymore???  Not in Westerly!  Have to be on high alert when running in town.  Was just finishing my run when somebody across the street called out my name...hey, it's Steve S., head honcho of the WTAC!  I was able to grunt out a hello but couldn't stop, as I had to get home.  Good run, and I purposely didn't try any segments, that's for another day :)

Friday, 1-16 - 8 Miles (Trail/some Road) - 2 runs.  #1:  3 Miles - Dog trail run with Henry.  I decided to up the distance with the dog, and we did three miles in the preserve across the street.  He had fun in the streams breaking through the thin ice, and the cold water didn't affect him at all.

Henry, deciding whether to jump in the water.  He did.

Pendleton Hill Brook

On the longer, upper blue trail that I rarely run on, I noticed the fiber optic line trail and marker #122...which connects the preserve to Pachaug...so that opens up a whole new section to explore, and the only road I'd really need to run is the 100 yards from my front door to the trailhead!  Sweet!  #2:  5 Miles - Lower Lantern Hill trails and Foxwoods trails/roads.  Before Soph's B-Ball game, I hit Lantern Hill, but the upper trails were icy so I stayed to the lower stuff.  Easy pace, slowly increasing but kept it reined in.  Chilly and windy if I wasn't in the woods...

Saturday, 1-17 - 1.6 Miles (Trail) - Dog jog!

Sunday, 1-18 - 10 Miles (Trail) - Arcadia run with George Ross.  George had floated the idea of doing a 10-miler on trails earlier in the week, and I said I'd be up for 10 in Arcadia, which turns out to be a halfway point for us.  Pulled into the lot, and a bunch of Stedman's biker dudes were gearing up for a ride.  Good to see lots of people out and enjoying some winter trail action!

George and I got moving, and he informed me that this would be his longest trail run...ever?  Pretty cool to be a part of that!  Service roads were totally iced over, but once we got on the trails, everything was good.  I opted to take George on the loop I'm most familiar with, which runs along the stream and around Breakheart Pond, where a bunch of people were ice fishing, and then on to Penny Hill.  I mistakenly turned us onto the service road after Penny Hill though, and we were winging it at that point, but had a great time getting lost and cruising around on unmarked trails for a while, until we finally emerged onto the Midway road at just under 10 miles, and finished up a bit over.  Great run, and the rain only started up for a bit, and then we were clear!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Shrinkage! Week of 1-5 to 1-11

Break out the layers and running tights!  It's finally gonna get cold up in here.  I worked today in Wolcott (and where in the Hell is that???), and it started out chilly and got damn near unreasonable when you added in the wind chill.  That said, we drove by Hubbard Park again, with its awesome trails right off the highway, and the Castle Craig glaring down at me from the hilltop.  I really, really want to check that place out...

Resolution 5k beach/trail race will end this week.  I'd like to throw down a better time than last year...previous results below:

2014 - 24:48
2013 - 24:47

Monday, 1-5 - 0 Miles.  Work day!

Tuesday, 1-6 - 4 Miles (Road) - Chilly Westerly.
 Short run while out running errands.  20 degrees, light flurries and zero wind.  Didn't feel that bad once I got started!  Went after three segments as well, and got two of them.  Good effort, and I was starting to think Strava was dissing me by not giving me any virtual bling, so I e-mailed them asking why?  They were pretty quick about reprocessing the run, and got right back to me.  Awesome.  Now the only question is how many hours do those CRs stand...I'd wager not many!

Wednesday, 1-7 - 0 Miles.  1 hour karate, and back to weights/stretching.

Thursday, 1-8 - 3 Miles (Road) - Short, cold spin in Westerly.  Cold but not ridiculous, got a couple of decent hills in and made the loop inside Wilcox Park a couple of times, and ran hard on the segments.

Friday, 1-9 - 0 Miles.  Work day.  Fun drive to Wolcott up lots of hills in a snowstorm, in a two-wheel drive truck.  Almost didn't get there, but the roads were clear when we left!

Saturday, 1-10 - 2.7 Miles (Road) - Short Watch Hill run. - Just a quick, short cruise around the deserted streets of Watch Hill.  Nice to not have traffic, but really, really quiet.  Cold and breezy...good shakeout ahead of the race tomorrow...

Fresh growler!  Yum!!!

Sunday, 1-11 - Resolution 5k - 5+ Miles (Beach/Trail) - Awesome day.  Not sure of the overall results, but I destroyed my best time on this course by 2:30, and ended with a 22:16.  Picked up Colburn at his place early and drove down to Narragansett, and were greeted by a fairly brisk breeze and 20 degree air.  The Sun was threatening to come out, and did briefly (not long enough though!).  I pulled into the lot next to TNT honcho Bob Jackman, who had creatively made up shirts for his team and handed them out:

Turtles...I'll have to get our creative team working on an appropriate response

Ended up running my warmup with George and John from TNT, and noted the icy areas on the trails and the overall conditions of the course.  When it was time to line up, I got ready and wished everyone luck as race director Mike Galoob was dishing out instructions.  The highlight of the first mile, aside from getting to see the race leaders after the initial out/back mile?  Around 3/4 mile in, this kid pulls up next to me and says "Hey!"  I look over to see Michael, one of my daughter's classmates and one of my soccer kids when I coached rec league.  He's been running XC at the middle school and getting faster, and it was awesome to see him competing on a cold January morning, when most kids probably weren't even awake!  I thought for a minute that he was just slowing down to say hello before he dropped the hammer, but I managed to pull away.  Whew.  Darn kids!

Mile two was uneventful, except that I had WTAC teammate Shira in my sights, and I was determined to keep her there.  I did but was never able to catch her.  Mile three?  I hadn't looked at my watch the entire race, but I felt like I was going to smash my course record.  At 2.8 miles I finally looked and knew I had it, and by quite a bit.  Crossed the line unofficially in 22:16, results to be posted later.  From 24:47 to 22:16?  Awesome way to start the year, and I'm hoping to crush my 5k PR in a few weeks at the Super 5k!

Chatted (or chattered, depending on how cold you were) after the race with friends and "frenemies" alike, and found out that there were more than a few PRs today!  And, due to the icy trails, a few casualties, including this one from WTAC teammate Matthew during the race:

Trail running: eventually, there will be blood...

In true rockstar fashion though, he went out for a cooldown run after rinsing this off.  Seriously.

What a fun day though!  Mike and his family put on a super fun race, the kind that people always talk about, and it's fun to have the club rivalries here, although today's team event was won by the Rhode Island Rhode Runners, so things just got a bit more interesting...

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014 Year in Review

Closing out 2014 with some stats, highs/lows, and everything in between:

Miles:  1240

Elevation gain:  77,000 feet

Number of races:  25 (4 less than 2013, but longer distances overall)

Trail/Road:  14/11

DNF:  1 (Chatfield Hollow 50k, dropped at 18+ miles)

Distances:  1 Mile, all the way to 50k+

2014 Bibs!


Once again completing all 5 races in the South County 4th Season Trail Race series, including 2 snowy sufferfests!

Mt. Greylock Half Marathon.  WOW.  2400' of vertical gain in the first 3 miles...and then there was the rest of it...what a kickass race!!!

Pisgah Mountain Trail Race.  Road trip!  Rode up with Jonny and Jeff, and were graciously hosted by the Hammetts.  My first time running in New Hampshire and I loved it!

Nipmuck Trail Marathon.  Perfect day, and I managed to shave almost 20 minutes off my 2013 time...

RI 6hr Ultra.  My longest race in 2014, and super fun!

Li'l Rhody Runaround.  One of my best performances of the year, having taken off over 5 minutes on an 8-mile trail race.  I'll be done in well under an hour next year for sure...

Mews Tavern 6.9k Road Race.  My best race of the year?  Coming in 83rd out of almost 1400 runners, I managed to cruise across the finish line in 29:56 for this odd-distance race, and negative split the whole thing.  Really happy with my results at this race!  And there was beer afterward!

Looking at my list of goals from the beginning of the year, I realized that while I didn't hit most of what I had written out, I did have more quality races than quantity, had a lot of fun at them, and definitely improved as the year progressed.  I ran more trail races than road, and managed to place 65th out of over 400 runners in the Grand Tree trail race series, which I hadn't realized until recently.

If there was any sort of low to this year, it might be an end-of-year knee issue that popped up, but it's nothing to complain about.  I took a couple of days off, and managed a pretty peppy run on 12/30, and have plans to go for an easy run on 12/31 as well.  Nothing debilitating, in other words, so I'm pretty stoked about being injury-free in 2014!

For 2015?  Hoping to run happy and healthy, get some more group runs in, and shoot for quality over quantity again...

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Rolling Into 2015: Week of 12-29 to 1-4

So I mentioned last week that my left knee was not quite right.  I smartly (I think, anyway) took a couple of days off, spent some quality time with the family and didn't mention running once to them.  They aren't runners, so my blathering on probably sounds like Charlie Brown and Peppermint Patty's teacher in Peanuts:

That's about my wife's reaction when I talk about running...

Good news?  A couple of days off and my knee feels quite a bit better, less janky, and I'm ready for some tentative runs.  Easy, though.  Any chance of that last-minute 80k goal is out, I just want to run!

Monday, 12-29 - 0 Miles.  Rest day (as mentioned above).

Tuesday, 12-30 - 3.5 Miles (Road) - Flat, chilly progression run in Misquamicut.  Had time to kill before my daughter's basketball game up the street, so I hit Misquamicut for some flat roads, just to see how the knee felt.  Started out slow but the knee felt good, so I kept gradually increasing the pace throughout the run until I was in the 6's by the time I completed the loop.  Felt no pain, and very little when I got home, so I'm a bit more confident than I was a couple days ago! Maybe I'll even be able to finish out 2014 with something good...

Wednesday, 12-31 - 7 Miles (Trail) - Mystic trail run with Mike B.  Looking to close out 2014 with some kind of a run, I was thinking about hitting Mystic and shot a quick message over to Mike to see if he was game.  He was, and wanted to check out the Nature Center trails, which start right across the street from the Aquarium.  We managed 7 miles, and almost never had to run the same trail twice.  Not bad!  Great way to finish the year.

Thursday, 1-1 - 6.7 Miles (Road/Beach) - Group run to the beach and Hell Field.  Met up with Mike B., Garvin, Gazelle, and FiveK at Tommy's place, and we set out for Misquamicut Beach.  Frickin' cold, and the gusty wind was pretty relentless, but a great day and perfect way to kick off the new year!

Friday, 1-2 - 2 Miles (Trail) - Wheeler XC trails.  Just a short spin while I waited for B-Ball practice to finish up!

Saturday, 1-3 - 6 Miles (4 Road/2 Trail) - 4-miler in Mystic, 2-mile dog jog.  I hit the chilly streets of Mystic, hoping to try my hand at a steep uphill segment.  Got to the top and didn't exit the segment...grrrr...dummy.  Cold but fun run, saw a few other runners out today!  Knee feeling pretty decent.  Got home and took the dog for a quick trail run across the street, and the first snowflakes started flying just as we finished our run!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Holy Christmas, Batman! Week of 12-22 to 12-28

So lots of people are off until the New Year, myself included.  While we all have family obligations, I'm definitely hoping to get some group runs in, and some decent mileage, and something epic...that last one is totally dependent upon time frames...

Monday, 12-22 - 4+ Miles (Trails) - Devil's Hopyard State Park. - Amidst my "Shop for the wife" day, I snuck out to Hamden and scored a few miles at the Hopyard.  Actually saw people out there today!  I started with the wet and slippery Red trail, which is a really nice uphill/downhill loop, which ends along some of the streams that feed into the Eight Mile River (Eminem says you could "Lose Yourself" there, haha).  Then on to the Orange trail, which wasn't as wet but was still slippery!  Made the climb to the vista at the top, and cruised back to the truck.

Orange trail vista :)

Great day for a run, temps approaching 50 degrees, overcast and really nice.  I've decided, since I'm around 5,000 feet of vertical gain from hitting 80,000 feet for the year, that I'm going to hit lots of hilly terrain to close things out above 80k.  It's a plan, anyway!

Tuesday, 12-23 - 5.6 Miles (Trails/Footpaths) - Lantern Hill trails, Mashantucket trails/footpaths.  Dropped my daughter at B-ball practice and hit Lantern Hill.  Very slippery today, so no sub 4-minute descent from top to bottom, but I did manage my 3rd fastest ascent from the bottom to the top.  From there, cruised over to the museum and ran their purple trail, and looped back to the car.  Drizzly, overcast and warm?  Heck of a good time-killer...

Also,  I mentioned this in my Strava post:  For the last couple of weeks, my left knee has been, as Seth puts it, "janky."  It's odd that it doesn't bother me when I run, but at the house when I'm going up and down the stairs it's like I'm 100 years old.  Go figure.  The first comment I got was "Stay off trails!"  Sorry, that just ain't gonna happen...I can hear Mike B. now...

...and I'll keep an eye on it.

Wednesday, 12-24 - 2.6 Miles (Roads) - Short, rainy spin in Mystic.  Shopping complete!!!  And just enough time to squeeze in a short run in the rain down in Mystic.  Not really working hard and got my best time on one of the hills leading out from the river.  Cut the run shorter than I would have, as it's Christmas Eve and I didn't want to push my luck with the family.  Coming up?  Traditional Italian Christmas Eve dinner, with accompanied overindulgence...

Thursday, 12-25 - 0 Miles - Merry Christmas, ya animals!  I was fortunate enough to have an excuse to take a zero today, although my wife green-lighted me to go out, and got me a subscription to Trail Runner magazine, and a GoPro Hero 3 camera...so there'll be some fun shit to record down the line, on land and in the water.  I already have a helmet cam, chest cam, and a clip-on cam, and will be shopping for a surfboard cam this evening!  Awesome!!!

Friday, 12-26 - 4 Miles (Trails) - Devil's Hopyard run with Jim H.  Jim hasn't been running in a while, but we had a great time on a perfect winter morning at the Hopyard.  I saw that there was a segment on the "Devil's Oven" ascent, and I wanted to give it a shot.  1/10-2/10 of a mile, 33% grade, 140' vertical gain.  Super fun and steep, and it took longer getting down.  Gave it a good effort and recorded the first part with the GoPro, but I didn't like the way it came out.  Stopped at the oven (small cave) to shut it off, then continued around the cliff and up to the top, which turned out to be the full segment.  Got it by over a minute, so I was pretty stoked about that!

Chapman Falls

More Chapman Falls

Jim coming up

Not a rolling stone...

Super green!

Jim, after a good climb and ready for some downhill!

Saturday, 12-27 - 4 Miles (Trails) - Lantern Hill double.  Dropped the child at B-ball practice again, and hit Lantern Hill for some cruisin'.  Gorgeous day, 50+ degrees and sunny, ran in shorts and a t-shirt.  Tons of people out, I stopped a bunch of times to pet dogs and chat briefly with some fellow nature lovers.  Lots of dogs, including my 2 Mastiff/2 German Shepherd group, who know me now and come right over!  Love them!  3300' left to snag before 12/31...

Sunday, 12-28 - 0 Miles.