Thursday, August 11, 2016

15th Annual Run4Kerri 4 Mile Road Race

My favorite race.  I'm a trail runner whose favorite day of the year is a road race on the first Sunday in August, go figure!  The list is long about why that is:

1. My first race ever (I haven't missed one since!), and possibly the day I really started to enjoy running as more than just part of my overall fitness.  It's so much more than that now...

2. It's put on by a great family, who lost a great kid, but turned a tragedy into a celebration of her life and a way to help others achieve their dreams.  Kerri would be proud!

3. It's local!  30 minutes away, around the corner from one of my favorite surf breaks, and I have lots of friends who run the race!

4. One of the most popular races in Rhode Island, the Run4Kerri draws hundreds of runners, including some world-class elite runners (Hey!  They're just like us!  Just way faster!!!)

5. My rivalry with friend and TNT troublemaker George Ross, who talks as much shit as me and backs it up just a bit better...but more on that later;

6. It's an odd distance.  Not 5k, not 10k, but 4 miles.  And always hot!

7. It's also a good midsummer gauge of my fitness, before the weather starts to turn cooler (I hope!) and the long distance stuff of Fall begins to loom...

8. Probably more, but you get the idea!  It's my favorite race.  They know my name at packet pickup, and I'm still hoping for a bib one year that says "CRUTCH" (Ha!)

But I digress.  Sunday morning I woke up, quietly gathered my things, made coffee, got ready to go, and...couldn't find my wallet.  Shit.  All my prep was shot, and I scrambled around the house looking for it, even waking Lori to see if maybe she hid it as a joke (she didn't).  After 20 minutes of upturning everything, I finally found it under a pillow in the bedroom.  Blaming the cats.

As with every year, I drive to Matunuck and there's a cool, refreshing breeze blowing, and I think "Wow, this is gonna be a great run!  Nice and cool!" (And I'm always wrong.)

In the 45 minutes I had to spare, I managed to say hello to 50+ people, pick up my race bib, and run a warmup with "frenemy" George and a few of his peeps.  Good stuff checking out the back end of the course as the temps suddenly rocketed upwards.  Gonna be another hot one.  There is, I will say, very little shade on the 4-mile course.  It gets hot, and we all suffer together.

It's pretty cool seeing hundreds of runners squeeze into a small country side street for a race like this.  I chatted briefly with a few folks, wished George luck, and we were off!  George went out ahead of me and I fell in about 50 yards behind him.  His pace basically mirrored what I was feeling for effort, and I stayed close but didn't close the gap.  Or couldn't.  We're damn close as far as road pace, and I just couldn't get closer...until the water stop at mile 3, top of the one small hill on the course.  Caught him.  Should have skipped the stop but I was dying at that point.  So was George.  We both stopped to get water, and I remarked "I think you've got me on this one..."

The finish was about what I expected:  slightly slower than my course PR, and I gained on George right to the end, but he had me by three seconds!  Close!  The NET time was 0.08 seconds difference, holy crap!  This was the "race within the race" that we were hoping for, and it didn't disappoint...

Close, but not quite...3 second difference!  Photo by Scott Mason.

So my results were 29:36 for 4 miles, and I was 75th of nearly 400 runners?  WTAC did really well, and Matthew cruised to 8th place overall in a stacked field.  Jeff W. won his age group and Jeff V. came in 2nd.

Spent a bunch of time after the race chatting with friends, frenemies and total strangers, some really fast people and some first-time racers.  I even won an award at the raffle!  Three really nice technical t-shirts.  Oh, and a finishers' medal?  Why not!

Post-race wings!

After the awards, a bunch of us (mostly Turtles, myself, an NRA person or two, and NH 603 runner Leslie) headed over to the Mews Tavern for lunch and beers (they have 69 on tap), and post-race nonsense.  I bought George a beer for his well-earned win.  What a great time!!!  I also finally got to try Tendril IPA from the Proclamation Ale Company out of West Kingston, RI - another great beer being brewed right here in Southern New England!

As always, I can't say enough about the Bessette family and the race they've put together.  It's a great time in a pretty cool little beach town, and draws some great runners from all over.  8 years in a row for me!  I'll call this one my "legacy" race, as it was a given from the first one that I'd never miss it.  Until next year!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

On deer flies, humidity, and total lack of a proper schedule: July 25-31 and August 1-7

Couple of good runs, and mostly work, has led to a slow couple of weeks on the running front.  No excuses, no regrets, I dialed it back but I'm getting my workout carrying heavy equipment and jobsite waste during the day.  On the race front, the Run 4 Kerri is on 8-7.  My first race ever in 2009, and 8th in a row this year!  Looking forward to it...

7-26 - 2.5 Miles.  Green Falls run with an old friend.  My friend from college, Mike Duffy, who I haven't seen in 20+ years, calls me to say he's on the East Coast and wants to meet up.  This dude is super fit, and has been traveling the world with Cirque du Soleil as a performer.  We had a great visit, during which he wanted to go for a trail run.  Took him to Green Falls, where it was hot, humid and he got a taste of some New England terrain...I may have sold him on trail running!  Or maybe not, jury is still out...

7-29 - 3 Miles.  Pouring rain, and my boss calls to say he's running I hit up Champlin Preserve for a few muddy miles, changed up and got back to the jobsite.  Nice!

7-30 - 15 Miles.  North/South trail bite with Claire and Ron.  To say it was humid would be an understatement.  I was able to wring the sweat out of my shirt twice, and lost several pounds, and drained my 50+ ounces of Tailwind, along with several other beverages coming and going from the run.  We did a sizeable chunk of the N/S trail, and had a great conversation!  Claire is a machine, too - I was feeling the weather sap my energy by the mile, and she showed no signs of slowing.  Ron was not used to the distance, but was so fit he didn't seem fazed by it.  Deer fly kill count of 25+ on my patch.  You're welcome!

8-6 - 14 Miles.  Groton X-Town trail (+extra mile).  This patchwork of trails is comprised of 6 different nature preserves in the town of Groton, and with only one short road section.  Very cool.  I decided, after 5 days off, that I'd do the full out/back.  The initial couple of miles are not marked at all, and as per my usual, I got turned around in Haley Farm, which is a spiderweb of awesome yet unmarked trails.  Once I realized my mistake, I backtracked and decided to motor on.  Got back on track and made the journey to Beebe Cove in Noank.  Much of the first three and last three miles of the total out/back are very easy and runnable, with the exception being the Merritt Forest and Beebe Cove sections, which are quite technical in places.  Cooler in the shade of the woods, but I still managed to drain 60 oz. of Tailwind in the 14 mile out/back.  I think this trail, were it properly marked from end to end, would make for a great long run trainer, as it has a bit of everything...

8-7 - 15th Annual Run 4 Kerri road race.  29:36, #77 of ??? runners.  My 8th installment of this race, separate writeup to follow.

On a side note, I've moved up to 32nd from 65th on the waitlist for the Ghost Train!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

In the Depths of the Dog Days: Week of 7-18 to 7-24

It's race week (again), and I'm off all week.  Planning to grab a few miles, surf a bit, and get some things done at the house.  The Run With the Beavers 10-mile trail race is this Saturday, and as always, it's a stacked field.  I'm not surprised, either - Bob puts on a great event, and I try to make it to as many of them as I can.  The forecast is for temps in the 80-90+ degree range all week, and hitting 92 on Saturday.  Hmmm...

I also managed to sign myself up for another 50-miler, but it's not until 2017 so I'm not even thinking about any training plans or anything for it.  Here's a picture from the course:

Slot Canyons!

Monday - 0 Miles.

Tuesday - 7 Miles.  Warmup miles and the Dogwatch Fun Run.  Wait, what???  You made it to a fun run?  I sense a disturbance in the force...

Wednesday - 4 Miles.  Hot Lantern Hill Cruise.  Did a double up and down, plus a couple hill repeats on the first climb.  Hot.  Sweaty.  Summer.  Love it.

Thursday - 0 Miles.  Spent the day giving the VW (1966 13-window deluxe microbus) some love, getting her cleaned up and driving around a bit.  Much to do, but she's looking good and getting some much-needed attention!

Almost road ready!

Friday - 0 Miles.  More work on the bus,  Hot out!

Saturday - 10 Miles.  Run With The Beavers race.  What a fun event, hosted by RD Bob Jackman and his team at A Better Pace, who put on an outstanding race.  The forecast had the temps climbing into the low 90's during the day, and I figured a PR was gonna be out of the question.  I loaded up a bunch of craft beer for swapping/gifting, and headed to Chapachet, RI.  After running into a whole lot of people I was looking forward to seeing, I geared up and loaded up on bug spray, although that turned out to be unnecessary.  Already hot in the sunlight at the 9 a.m. start.  Decided to run with John P. today, as we rarely get a chance to run together and always have a great time.  Racing sometimes takes a backseat to just being there, having a good time with friends, and enjoying the experience.  Call it a perfect reason to get together!  So John and I ran the whole 10 miles side by side, getting in at 2:06 officially just as the awards were being announced.  Did some beer swapping and hanging out afterwards, and headed out.  Big turnout at the race!!!  Great to see lots of first time trail runners today, it's too much fun not to be shared.  Next up?  The Run 4 Kerri road race!  George Ross, it's on!!!

Sunday - ?

Monday, July 18, 2016

Hot! Week of 7-11 to 7-17

With no races scheduled this week, I'm leaning toward setting up some back-to-back trail runs for the weekend, and trying to beat the heat/fit runs (and maybe surf!) in amidst my work schedule.  Should be very warm this week, so it's gonna be an early or late set of options...

Monday - 0.

Tuesday - 2 Miles.  High tide beach slog, whilst waiting for my daughter and her friends to get back from their walk.  Got home, and as I was getting out of my truck to get the mail, I stepped on a piece of wood, which of course rolled out and sent me down to the ground.  I landed very hard and I'm lucky I didn't break anything.  Sore as anything...
Wednesday - 0.  Sore from the previous day's fall, and oddly feeling much like I did when I got Lyme last September...that really better not be the case.

Thursday - 0.  Better!  Might have been a slight case of dehydration, self-diagnosed of course...

Friday - Surf!  Too hot out, I got done with work and decided to just drive down to Matunuck.  Waist-high waves, and I trunked it for 2.5 hours.  Great session to cool off on a hot day.

Saturday - Surf again!  Hot out, and I hit Matunuck again for another 1.5 hours of surfing waist-high peelers.  Funny to get the "Where the Hell have you been?" question from the people I've surfed with for 20 years, as I've been out of the water for a bit.  Nice to get salty again!

Sunday - 9 Miles.  Duval/unmarked trails with Claire.  Steamy, sweltering Summer run with Claire on rolling trails.  I won the contest for most deer flies killed, as we were using the patches on our hats.  Me=30, Claire=0.  Winner!!!

Not as expected, but the week finished well, and my arms are sore from the surfing!  Legs are good!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Hey, Taylor!!! Weeks of 6-27 to 7-3 and 7-4 to 7-10

Yeah, buddy!  I'm working a new job, close to home, and trying to get the hard part out of the way, which is the demolition.  Ripping up old-school plaster walls with metal lathe corner bead, floors down to the joists, cast-iron tub, etc. so I'm gonna get a workout in the predicted high temperatures.

Lots of beach weather also means some TS 10-milers!  Barefoot!  And no bugs!

I also have a hilly 7-mile trail race on 7-10...

The race, the TARC Blue Hills Skyline Trail Run, is a 12k race at the Blue Hills Reservation outside Boston.  Not a very far drive from my place, and my kind of race!  7+ hilly miles split between technical and steep climbs/descents, and rolling single/double track trails.  Oh, and a fantastic view of the Boston skyline on a clear day.  I was 27th overall last year in 1:43.  Interestingly, only one runner has ever finished in under an hour!  So it's a pretty badass, technical course with almost 2,000' vertical, and put on by the well-organized and laid-back crew of the Trail Animals Running Club.  No bibs!  No shirt!  Low entry fee!  You run, and at the end of the race, they hand you a popsicle stick with your finishing number on it, which gets recorded in the results.  Screaming downhill finish on a small ski slope?  Sold!

Monday - Friday - 0 Miles.  Demolition.

Saturday - 10 Miles.  Taylor Swift beach run, Misquamicut.  One of my favorites, and pretty much the only time I run barefoot.  Great Summer run from the Weekapaug jetty out to Taylor's place and back, Peppy pace, 8:20 average, with negative splits descending down to a low 7-minute average.  Good stuff!  And still no Taylor at the halfway point with some cold lemonade...someday :)

Sunday - 0 Miles.

Monday, 7-4 - 10 Miles.  Happy 4th!  Taylor Swift run again, but with Mike B. in tow!  Hot day and a headwind out, nothing but heat and a sweaty negotiation of the massive crowds at Town and State beaches.  Great time!

Tuesday - Thursday - 0 Miles.  More Demolition.

Friday - 4+ Miles. - Lantern Hill, or "Until the Bugs Caught Me!"

Saturday - 5.2 Miles.  Dark Sky Borderlands trail run with Faith.  Her last-ish long-ish trail run before her 100k, and WTF!  I couldn't be more proud!!!

Sunday - TARC Race.  Did a long recap, and it failed to post! - 1900' of gain in 7 miles, slippery from the rain, and I scored a 5+ minute PR on a tough course.  Nice.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Off My Rocker? 2017 Race Planning?? What the Hell??? Week of 6-20 to 6-26

I'm gonna state, for the record, that my 2017 race list does not include smaller local races yet, or anything below a 1/2 marathon distance (except 7 Sisters, but it makes the cut because it's the damn 7 Sisters).  It's a rough draft.  Subject to change.  It's streamlined, like me at 149 pounds after the 50!  If it weren't for the beer, I'd be downright waiflike...(insert gratuitous Eurotrash supermodel photo here)...

I'd also submit this:  I really, really like the longer distance races and anything with elevation, even though I'm a completely average and "middle of the pack," runner.  The races are spectacular and way too much fun...and the destination races rock!  Something about getting way outside of your comfort zone for events like these...

So yes, I'm looking at a 100-miler.  The question, though:  start out with a relatively easy, rolling loop or out/back course, just to get one under my belt (Ghost Train, TARC, Umstead), or shoot straight for a gnarly, kick-your-ass mountain race (MMT100, Eastern States)?  I have to consult some of my people, the ones who have completed the distance, and get a feel for what the Hell I should expect.  I did learn from the CT50 that running the entire time is not an option for me, but that I can walk/run for a long time after the first 25-30 miles, and I think I can build on that base...and I may have some company on the local level, which would be very, very cool...

Monday - 0 Miles! - On the other hand, I'm officially on the waitlist for the Ghost Train 100...gonna have to reclaim my headlamp from the wife, who's using it when she's knitting...

Tuesday - 5 Miles.  Hot Mystic Run.  I got done working in Wallingford and it was already 85 degrees, but a quick check of the Weather Channel showed Mystic clocking in at 74!  Beat the heat, right?  Wrong, sucka!  Hot all around today.  I banged out 5 miles, ran out of fluids and got the Hell outta there.  Tons of tourists, too.  Mid-run, I heard the bells go off for the drawbridge, and I tried to get there in time to cross, but it didn't happen.  Great place to run though!

 Wednesday - 1.5 Miles.  Lower Lantern Hill trail run with my daughter.  She is, apparently, serious about being ready for soccer season, and specifically requested a trail run to kick things off.  Who am I to say no?  So I opted for the easy, gravelly lower Lantern Hill trail, with an option to hit the harder trails if she was up for it.  1.5 miles in 80-degree weather and she was all set, and I didn't push.  Hope this turns into a regular thing!

Thursday - 0 Miles.  Travel day.

Friday - 7 Miles.  Potsdam, NY trail/campus run.  Weird that I was born in this town, and haven't been here in 43-ish years?  I was in town for a burial service for my grandparents.  They met and went to college at St. Lawrence University in nearby Canton.  They passed away last year, and last week my cousins picked up their ashes and a granite bench with the family tree inscribed on it, and drove them from Oregon all the way to upstate New York (where they were laid to rest in the family burial plot.  An incredible journey.  I could say more, but let's just say that it was an incredibly moving tribute to two very special people.  Military service for my Granddad, who was a P-51 pilot in WWII, with 21-gun salute.  Badass.  I have nothing but respect and gratitude for the veterans who volunteer their time to honor one of their own with a solemn ceremony that hasn't been lost through the years.  It was also really awesome to be there with 20+ family members from all parts of the country to recognize and celebrate the lives of these incredible people, whose thirst for adventure and travel led them all over the world, and to live in every region of the country during their time together.  Incredible.

Oh, and I ran 7 miles.

Saturday - 0 Miles.  Travel day.  North NY through the Adirondacks, Mass., and CT to home.  Would love to check out the Adirondacks it's a 6 million acre state park with a kazillion miles of trails and lakes and mountains and cool shit to see, and I'm the only one in this house who appreciates it...Grrrrr...

Sunday - 6 Miles - Beach run, Misquamicut.  High tide and warm, and tons of people, but hey!  At least I didn't run any little kids over, right Mike?  Hahaha...

Friday, June 17, 2016

Summer Breeze! Week of 6-13 to 6-19

It's the first week of Summer vacation for most kids, and I'm already scrambling to juggle a few extra things now, and try to squeeze in a few runs somewhere.  If there's waves, I'm gonna get in the water as well.  Been way too long.  Oh yeah, and get the Taylor Swift beach run in at some point with Mike B.!  That's a good barefoot 10-miler.  And some running with the dog, as he goes to daycare during the week, but hasn't had his trail runs with me in a while.  But the weather's great this week, near 80 every day and a nice breeze blowin'...

A Gazellian Jam?

Monday - Wednesday - 0 Miles.  Work, work, and work!

Thursday - 3 Miles (Hike).  Green Falls pond loop trail with the kids and the dog.  Perfect day, and an impromptu day off, and already bored daughter/nephew/dog = trail hike!  A good time was had by all, especially Henry, who swam in all the water.

Friday - 5 Miles.  Hot Castle Craig run.  Got done with work early, and decided that a Castle beatdown was in order.  Took a fairly direct route to the top, and continued on the Mattabesett (Blue) trail toward the cell towers, then turned at 2 miles, and ran the tricky, technical trail descent above the reservoir, finishing with the auto road back to the parking lot.  Hot, sweaty, and hilly!

Saturday - 5 Miles.  Barefoot Beach Run, Misquamicut.  Perfect day!  And an unplanned progression run, felt pretty good!

Sunday - 13 Miles - Father's Day run(s) - 3 on Hewitt Trails w/Jim, and 10 on the beach w/Mike B. - What a great day.  Perfect weather.  Met Jim for a short trail run early, and managed to execute a perfect swan dive into the dirt.  Minimal blood, but plenty of scrapes and filth.  Glad it was there and not at Breakneck or 7 Sisters!  After that, went home, had a monster breakfast and drove down to Misquamicut for another fantastic day at the beach, where Mike B. and I did the "Full Taylor Swift" 10-miler, from Weekapaug to her mega-cottage and back.  Negative splits again, and probably too peppy a pace for me, but a really fun run.  Looked for the elusive Gazelle at Town Beach, but didn't locate week, then!