Thursday, April 16, 2015

Workin' for a Livin', Week of 4-13 to 4-19

My work schedule just took a big uptick, so I'll be working much more frequently for the foreseeable future.  This also means a dawn to dusk workday at times, and will make getting runs in quite challenging.  That said, I don't have any races this weekend, but I have a 10k/5k double the following weekend and the 7 Sisters Trail Race the week after that, so I'll be trying to focus on hilly trails as I can, and hope that it translates well to speed for the road races.

Monday, 4-13 to Wednesday, 4-15 - 0 Miles.

Thursday, 4-16 - 4.7 Miles (Trail) - Lantern Hill Fun.  Lots of people out on Lantern today!  I meandered around the hills, and gave the Top to Bottom segment a good effort, and ended up with 700+ feet of technical vert.  Got to play trails ambassador to a couple of groups, gave out directions, and checked on one family to make sure they navigated the back part of the blue-blazed trail safely, which they did.  Lots of fun.

Fantastic, sunny, breezy day on Lantern Hill!

Friday, 4-17 - Boston family day trip.

Saturday, 4-18 - 6.7 Miles (Trail) - Green Falls.  I hadn't been to Green Falls in quite a while, and as it's right up the street from me, I headed down for a run.  I made my way up to the dam, and looped around the pond to the beginning of the Nehantic trail.  Took that as far as the connector trail, and used that to cut across to the Pachaug trail.  The connector trails are badly overgrown, and the blazes really faint.  I got turned around a bunch of times on this section, but eventually made it to the Pachaug, and returned down along the river to my truck.  Lots of people out on this sunny and warm day!  I was actually too warm in a short sleeved tech shirt???

Sunday, 4-19 - Plotting long trail run.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Clamdigger Week, and "Sky's the Limit!" Week of 4-6 to 4-12

Sunday is the 34th Annual Clamdigger road race.  I've done no speedwork, but my mileage is way up, so there's that?  Either way, the weather looks to be pretty damn good.  I have to beat the following time/place from 2014:

29    Michael Crutchley   36:39.0  7:20/M

I feel great right now.  The PT has helped immensely, my knee feels almost back to normal, and I might PR, might not, but if I feel good I'm gonna give it a shot!

Monday, 4-6 - 0 Miles.

Tuesday, 4-7 - 5 Miles (Trail/Path) - Hurd State Park, East Hampton, CT.  My first stab at the CT DEEP "Sky's the Limit" Challenge.  It's a challenge involving 14 high points throughout the state:  if a person completes 10 of them, they receive a state park medallion (like a finisher's medal).  If they complete all 14, they're entered into a drawing for a hand-carved hiking staff... 

Hey!  That could be me, thwarting the elusive Big River Bandit!


Cool!  The rule specifies that you have to take a "selfie" with the sign at the park entrance, and one at the highpoint.  I set out for Hurd State Park, and the "Split-rock Vista," the first on my list.  Of course it started pouring right as I got to the park.  Dammit.  I really hadn't researched the park, other than that the road leading into the place split the trails down the middle, it was hilly, and that the vista point had views of the Connecticut River.

Got to the park, took my selfie at the entrance, then hit the trail.  I eventually found the spot, and snapped off a couple of shots up there:

Yup, still cold and raining (but no snow!!!)...

On a totally random spot along the trail :)

Spruced-up USGS plaque!

Ooooohhh, so serious...

Split Rock Vista.  Great view from here

Got lost and soaked in the process, but hey, no snow.  Warmed up on the ride home.  So that's One!  On to the next.  Details of the challenge can be found here:

I might spin this off to a separate page, as it's a pretty interesting challenge.  I went to Sleeping Giant last week and ran to the top, and forgot that it's on the list.  Whoops.  Have to hit it again, then!

Wednesday, 4-8 - 0 Miles - Work day in Wallingford.  That night, for whatever reason (I think I was dehydrated, but it could have been something I ate or a stomach bug), I felt "off" and went to bed early.  Tossed and turned until 12:30, at which point I barely made it into the bathroom to throw up like I've never thrown up in my life.  

It was worse than this, just ask my wife...

Couldn't believe it.  I even woke Lori up with my retching, and I'm sure that image will be burned into her memory forever.  Suffice it to say, it happened just as bad again at 3:30 and I never slept...

Thursday, 4-9 - 0 Miles (Obviously) - Stayed in bed, slept, and slowly rehydrated.  Lori brought me Pedialyte, which is like the nectar of the Gods...was feeling noticeably better by the evening.

Friday, 4-10 - 3.5 Miles (Trail) - Champlin Glacier Park, Westerly.  Felt good enough to hit the trails for a bit today, but didn't overdo it.  Good call.  Trails clear, slightly muddy and awesome...

Saturday, 4-11 - 0 Miles.  Passed the bug along to the wife and daughter, which they really appreciated...spent most of the day caring for them, and while they were sleeping I was able to go and help my friends move into their new house!  Right near the hated "Pumpkins Hill" segment, haha...decided to call it a day after that and finish looking after the girls :)

Sunday, 4-12 - (Road) - 34th Annual Clamdigger 5-Mile Road Race.  36:24, 26th OA, and a PR!  Separate writeup WAS to follow, but I'm working all week, so here goes...

"I survived the Vomitron."  Yes, I should get a t-shirt for how much I hurled on Wednesday night, seriously.  I felt good Sunday morning but not 100%, but what the Hell, let's give it a go.  Got down to the beach and helped get set up, then helped Mike B. put out signage and mile markers (we were way off on a couple, sorry!).  Got back and helped Jeff at post-registration (we were freezing!) until 4 minutes before the race.  Seriously, who shows up 4 minutes before a race, unregistered?  With barely time to put my shoes on, I jogged a .1 mile warmup to the start, and the race started shortly thereafter.  I had exactly what I didn't want to wear on, as I dressed in a panic.  Yikes!

I fell in quickly with WTAC teammate Shira, who was pushing her boy in a stroller, and stayed with her for the first two miles, then pulled away on the bumpy uphill roads in Weekapaug I'd warned her about.  I'm impressed that she can keep such a speedy pace with that stroller!

After the Weekapaug section, I knew I'd be turning into a brisk headwind.  Past the breachway, I passed a runner who looked to be cramping badly, who turned out to be Dirk, a local dude who trades Mystic segments with me sometimes in Mystic.  He made it in, but was hurting by the finish line.

I caught up to a woman around 4.5 miles, we gave each other encouragement and I pulled away briefly, only to be passed shortly after, and never realizing that it was none other than Chris G.'s better half, Katie.  Nice kick!  I didn't have a response, but I did squeak out a PR!  Sweet!!!

Great chowder and awards after, and good conversation with runners, including a few new WTAC members.  I did a quick sweep to pick up the signs, and we were done!  Another successful Clamdigger, and I'm already getting good comments from the participants.  The great thing about this is that we're able to give back even more to our local causes, and remain a positive presence in this community.  Gotta love being a part of something good :)

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Big River Week! Week of 3-30 to 4-5

And so, we arrive at the month of April, and there are sure signs that warmer weather is near.  First, buds on the trees and crocuses springing from the ground;  birds chirping, snow disappearing, and the first 60+ degree day in many months in the forecast.  Even the meteorologists look relieved!  I'm anxious to hit some good trails and do some exploring, especially in some of the preserves and parks I've researched but haven't yet made it to.

Monday, 3-30 - 0 Miles.  Karate class, and a day off after the Brrr-lingame race.

Tuesday, 3-31 - 5 Miles (Trail) - Sleeping Giant State Park, Hamden CT.  Got out of my PT session and headed straight to Hamden.  Figured with drive time each way, I'd have about an hour before I'd have to head back.  Parked, and hit the first trail.  Sidehill and covered in slick, melting ice.  I trotted back to the truck to get my Yaks, only to realize I'd shelved them at the house.  Screw it, I drove all the way out so here goes.  Made my way up the steep, technical white trail, until it connected with the tower trail.  I'd wanted to try my hand at the tower trail descent segment on Strava, but it wasn't gonna happen with all the ice on the trail.  Got to the aforementioned tower at the top, and took in the view for a couple minutes:

Tower (duh)

Looking South toward the Sound

I decided to give the tower trail descent a go, in spite of the ice.  I slowed down just enough to not wipe out a bunch of times, sped up when I could, and still managed a 9th out of 63 runners, and fastest time overall in 2015.  I then tried out the violet trail, which descends to scenic Eaton Brook, before climbing up to and around a massive quarry that forms the "chin" of the Sleeping Giant, which got its name due to the way the hills look from a distance.  I opted to stay on the violet trail, although there is another trail on the eastern side of the quarry that's truly dramatic...

Eaton Brook, the mellow part of the trail

More Eaton Brook

Once I reached the high point on the violet trail, I turned up the red trail, hooked up again with the tower trail, and made it back to the truck with 5 miles and 1100'+ of vertical gain to show for it.  Love that place!  Snow is melting, too!

Wednesday, 4-1 - 8-ish Miles (Road) - 3.5/4 Mile runs in Mystic.  In Mystic running some errands, and had a half-hour to kill, so I squeezed in a flat progression run downtown.  Breezy and crisp.  In the afternoon, I brought Soph for her hair appointment (Mystic again!).  With another half-hour window of opportunity, I decided to run to Enders Island, at the Southern end of Mason's Island.  Another set of negative splits, and I felt like I could have increased the pace even more.

Thursday, 4-2 - 7-ish Miles (Mostly Trail) - 5+ Wahaneeta/Woody Hill trails/1.6 trail/road dog jog.  Met up with Jeff at the Wahaneeta Preserve in Westerly for a lunchtime run.  Warm and sunny?  You bet!  50 degrees counts as warm here.  Jeff offered to show me the new Run For the Pumpkins trail race course, which of course I accepted.  Looks like it'll be a great race of a fun course, with a good uphill climb at the beginning, and a screaming fast finish, as the last 1/2 mile will be downhill.  Nice day!  Got home and grabbed Henry for a quick recon of the preserve across the street.  Lots of melting there, but still lots of snow tucked into the shady areas.

Friday, 4-3 - 4.6 Miles (Trails) - 3.3 Miles on Mystic trails/1.3 Mile dog jog.  The Mystic trails are totally clear of snow!  And muddy!  I got positively filthy running them, then stopped by Kelley's Pace to give store owner Jeff Anderson (and friend/WTAC member/new KP employee Faith!) a quick trail conditions update.  No sense washing the shoes, Big River coming up on Saturday!

Saturday, 4-4 - Big River 1/2.  Woke up with a really stiff neck, this should be interesting for the race today... - 12 Miles (Trail) - Short warmup, and The Race.  I ran 11+ miles of trail in Big River, getting a look at pretty much all of the new, awesome course designed by race director Mike G.  I can sum the day up with this, with Mike G., Jonny and Muddy playing Mike D, Ad-Rock and MCA:

Great course, great vibe, some world-class runners (and one kickass photographer), and a saboteur in our midst, who for the third year straight, pulled flags and signage at key intersections.  Almost everyone got lost.  I felt fantastic, aside from the stiff neck, which went away pretty quick.

I arrived early, did a short warmup and got ready for the race.  Lots of familiar faces and fast people, partly cloudy, warm and windy, ice melted and trails clear.  The race started and the first part was familiar, windy singletrack, until almost mile 2 coming down toward the lake...where the first major intersection pops up flags.  The previous two years were filled with moments of confusion, but I knew immediately what was going on this time.  Sabotage.  There was no possible way the intersection wouldn't be marked, so right there I knew this was gonna be a great day in the woods at Big River, and that I'd try to get my miles in and see as much of the course as possible.  I ran most of the race with TNT runner John P., and when we'd hit 6 miles and were close to the finishing stretch, I suggested we turn down the back half of the course and run it in reverse, giving us a chance to see the full, redesigned course and get our miles in as well.  A small group of us did just that, and I finished the race at just over 11 miles, which seemed to be the right distance for the whole thing.  The new section was flippin' awesome, too - ridgelines, twisty, hilly singletrack and lots of mud and water!  My favorites!

Turned out, the top 7 runners were the only ones who followed the course correctly, due to Jonny's course knowledge.  Everyone had a great time though, and the WTAC took the 4th Season title!  Beer was won.  Me happy...

#107, a sixer of 'Gansett and a homebrew (courtesy of Scott Mason)!  Score!

Great job by everyone who came out for this race, and a huge shout-out to Mike and the crew at Off Rhode Racing.  If you haven't run one of the 4th Season trail races, you're really missing out.  I've been able to run all 5 series races the last three years, and they are usually the most talked about races of the year...epic!

Sunday, 4-5 - 6.3 miles (Road) - Local roads for Easter.  I went out for a short 3 mile shakeout, and ran into another NoSto runner, got to talking and tacked on a few more!  Hop hop hop...biggest mileage week since November 2013???  Sweet!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A rescheduled Burlingame race, and the big melt continues: week of 3-23 to 3-29

Looks like the Brrr-lingame 10-miler is on for next Sunday, so there's that!  The trails should be manageable, and the weather this week should contribute to melting the rest of the white shit into the ground.  I need some muddy, ice free trails, dammit!  This road running business, you can have it.  I love the beach too, but even that doesn't compare to a good run in the woods...I'm also pretty keen on getting back in the water.  I haven't surfed in a couple of months at least, and I'm dying to get out there.  Don't think I've ever been out this long...

Monday, 3-23 - 0 Miles - Finshed putting together the big basketball hoop that I picked up at Dick's on Sunday.  The kids immediately started playing, in spite of the windy, cold weather...I just wanted to get the Hell inside :)

Tuesday, 3-24 - 2 Miles (Trail) - Short Lantern Hill run.  Had a small window of opportunity before I picked up the child from school, so I went to check out Lantern.  It's 50/50, half clear and half packed snow/ice.  Wore my Yaks and needed them.  Would have been in trouble without.

Wednesday, 3-25 - 6 Miles (Road) - Mystic sort of faster run.  Faster than my usual cruisy pace, anyway!  Started out with no plan, and sort of turned it into a fast-ish run, with one good hill, a speedy downhill segment and some pace progression.  Aside from screwing up with my watch when I stopped at my truck for a minute, this was a good run.  Felt good.

Thursday, 3-26 - 2.5 Miles (Trail/Road) - Conn College run.  I somehow got the idea that fancy, uppity Conn College might have a better class of manicured XC trails, and that they might be clearer than all the other trails in the area?  Wrong!  I set out icy, slushy trails in the rain, and soon came across a devoured deer carcass.  Bad sign.  Just the skeleton and two front legs were left, and it was right on the trail.  Wonder what did that...I turned around and headed the other direction.  Ended up cruising through the CC campus, and tried another trail only to be turned back by slushy ice.  It was pouring at this point and I was wearing my glasses and couldn't see, so I called it quits.

Friday, 3-27 - 7 Miles (5 Trail/2 Road) - Brrr-lingame course preview, and afternoon dog jog. - Got down to Burlingame State Park to check out the trail conditions.  It's 50/50, between totally clear and runnable trails, to icy, snowy patches where I really had to watch my step.  Should be awesome!  When I reached the campground area, I wasn't sure which way to go so I headed back in the direction of the pavilion, grabbed my GoPro and took a short video of the first 1/2 mile of the course.  It's choppy, and I'm learning my way around the camera, but the video gives a good indication of how the trails look:

Yes, I'm a horrible videographer!  I know!!!

Saturday, 3-28 - 7 Miles (5 Trail/2-ish Road) - Brrr-lingame course preview and dog jog.  Texted the Gazelle to see if he was free for a run, and of course he was in the midst of marking the course for Sunday's race.  I drove down to Burlingame and ran the course, but he and race director Mike were already done and gone.  Light snowfall, and trail conditions were better than Friday.  Got home and took the dog for a run, light snow falling and big, flat flakes!  Unfortunately, it continued through the afternoon and late into the night...

Sunday, 3-29 - 10 Miles (Trail) - Brrr-lingame 10 mile trail race.  Separate write-up to follow!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Shenanigans! Week of 3-16 to 3-22

After posting a paltry 8 miles running last week, I'm ready to get some good runs in over the next few friend Paul mentioned that there's a 5k in Mystic on Saturday, so I might jump in on that?  Otherwise, just fun runs, and perhaps some trails please???

Monday, 3-16 - 15 Miles (Beach/Road) - Long Watch Hill/Misquamicut beach run, roads to finish.  Got done with karate class and headed to Watch Hill, where I decided to do something long-ish.  Did the Napatree Point out and back, then down to the lighthouse and back, then hopped onto the beach below TS's place and headed east.  Lots of beach access bailout options, but I felt pretty good.  Low tide helped quite a bit, and with a bright Sun above and the wind at my back, I decided to run the entire length of beach to the Weekapaug breachway.  The wind really kicked up out of the west, so when I got to the end of the beach, I thought I'd hop onto the road, and that maybe some of the wind would be blocked by the houses on either side.  Not so.  Spent the last 6 miles running against a stiff headwind.  But hey!  Longest run in quite some time, decent pace, and 45 degrees.  Great start to the new week!

Tuesday, 3-17 - 5 Miles (Beach/Road) - Weekapaug roads and beaches w/Gazelle. - Met Jeff at the breachway, and we combined a beach jaunt with a scoping out of the turns on the Clamdigger course, which still have some icy, snowy corners to negotiate, but those should be gone by race day...right?

Wednesday, 3-18 - 3.5 Miles (Road) - Windblasted Mystic.  Had to swing by Kelley's Pace to grab some supplies, and opted to do a short run in town.  The wind was so strong I actually got out of the truck, got back in the truck, then forced the issue, got out and did the run.  I almost got hurt bad when a real estate sign blew over, then got scooped up by the wind and spun just past my head and lodged in a tree across the street.  Yikes.  Pretty good numbers though!

Thursday, 3-19 - 5.6 Miles (Trail) - Beebe Pond Preserve/Moore Woodlands trails, Noank CT (and Lantern Hill dog jog).  I needed to hit some trails today, just to see how they were looking, and I was rewarded handsomely for my effort:

Tasty!  Found yet another use for a buff, they make a great bandage :)

Postholed on an unmarked stretch of trail, and got chewed up by the crusty ice on top of the snow.  Lots of ice, but there were patchy stretches of ground and I'd say winter is just about about that snow we're supposed to get tomorrow...

Also took Henry for a trail run on the lower Lantern Hill trails, which he enjoyed thoroughly!

Friday, 3-20 - 5 Miles (Beach/Road) - Last (hopefully) snowy run on the beach, Watch Hill.  Got down to WH mid-afternoon, and was rewarded with flying flakes and a deserted beach.  Light winds, and the out-and-back on Napatree was quiet and totally peaceful.  3 miles on the beach was followed by 2 on the roads, and I was passed by exactly one car.  Not bad...

Sat.-Sun. - 0 Miles.  Family time and getting a bunch of things done at the house...but 34 miles for the week?  Not bad!  And I did register for the RI 6hr Ultramarathon in November again, just have to beat my 32 mile mark this time...

Friday, March 13, 2015

Not Brrr-lingame? Week of 3-9 to 3-15

Late start this week...worked dawn to dusk Monday to Thursday, and wasn't game to run in the dark or hit the treadmill by the time I got home.  I figured that it was going to happen at some point, but it's all good!  The Brrr-lingame 10 mile trail race got postponed as of today, so I have no scheduled races...which doesn't mean I might not jump in on the Shamrock Shuffle 5k this Sunday...I ran it last year and had lots of fun at it, and it's a total PR course.  That, or save my $$$ and run long on Sunday...

Monday, 3-9 to Thursday, 3-12 - 0 Miles.  Construction in Waterbury.  We pass so many trails on the way out there it's ridiculous...can't wait to check them out!

Friday, 3-13 - 6 Miles (Road) - Westerly/Pawcatuck run.  I'm pretty much convinced that nobody actually stops and looks both ways at stop signs anymore, as I had to check up several times for drivers who rolled through the stop, only looked one way (when I was approaching from the other direction), or were fidgeting with their phone and simply didn't care.  I felt like Frogger, to use an awesome video game reference from the early 80s...

No school like the Old School...

I really need to get back on some trails before I get run over...

Saturday, 3-14 - Shitty, rainy day, and I just couldn't do it.  After doing a ton of indoor stuff, I thought "F#$@ it.  Today's the day.  I've been wanting to brew my own beer for years, and today's the day!"  So I hopped in the truck, and drove down to Craft Brews Supplies, where my friend Melissa and her husband Chris hooked me up with a new brewing setup, and an Imperial IPA kit.  I went home, read all the directions twice, then spent the next several hours brewing my first batch of beer, which is now fermenting in a cool, dark place.  Lori loves the hoppy aroma, by the way...I'll update the status once I start bottling.  I hope it comes out good, as I had a lot of fun with the whole process and will keep at it!

Big ball o' grains...

Hop addition!

Sunday, 3-15 - Long run, or short race - Or neither.  2.2 Miles (Road) - Dog Jog with Henry.  Family day superceded any thoughts of a run, until I squeezed in a dog jog in the late afternoon.  Let's call this a "rest week"...

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

To Ocean's Run, or not to Ocean's Run: Week of 3-2 to 3-8

Well?  What to do, what to do...drums fingers on the table...I've run this the last two years, love the race, and I just haven't been able to commit to it this year for some reason.  Not sure why.  I still have time (like 3 days) to decide, or I could volunteer to flag or something...

Monday, 3-2 - 0 Miles.

Tuesday, 3-3 - 15 Miles - (Road) - 13.2 Mile Mystic Half Marathon jaunt, and 2 Mile dog jog.  I had a physical therapy session this morning, and we worked on stretching/strengthening exercises for my knee.  I dressed for a run in Mystic, and as I set out with no particular mindset, I found myself on a long, deserted road next to a local aquifer.  Didn't see a car for a couple of miles.  I felt pretty good, and knew that I was turning this into a longer run, but kept an easy, steady pace.  Got into Old Mystic and opted to hit the west side of the river, during which I encountered Charlie, one of the local postal dudes, whose mail truck was stuck in a snow bank.  Me and another guy dug some snow out, and rocked the truck back and forth until it was free.  Yes, I paused my Garmin!  Got into Mystic at about 10 miles, still felt good, so I added the extra 5k to make it a Half Marathon, and squeaked it in just under the 2 hour mark.  Good run.  Then got home and ran Henry for 2 miles.  Roads are so dirty now that I have to bathe him after every run!

Cool thing also happened this week:  I got a call from the parent of one of the girls whose soccer team I help coach, asking me if I could be her "running mentor," for the Girls on the Run program, leading up to a 5k race they run at the end of the 10 week training schedule.  Of course!!!  She's already a low 7 pace, so she'll do great at the race!

Wednesday, 3-4 - 3 Miles (Road) - Short Watch Hill run. - After my karate class, I had just enough time to squeeze in a short progression run in Watch Hill before picking up the dog at the groomers.  Overcast, rainy and windy, sloppy streets with lots of melting...and empty, very nice.  Stopped to pick up beer after the run, and chatted with the manager about the quality of the Finch's beers, notably the Fascist Pig Ale and the Hardcore Chimera Imperial IPA.  I was at the register paying when he walked up and handed me a Finch's pint glass...score!

I do love a good pint glass!

I've also decided to not run the Ocean's Half.  I was on the fence as of this morning, and Lori mentioned how nice it was that we didn't have anything planned for this Sunday.  Decision made.  Family day!

Thursday, 3-5 - 0 Miles. - Headed out the door with the dog for a run, and ran into my next door neighbor, who was headed out to walk her dog.  Decided to walk, let the dogs play, and take in the really nice snowy scene.

Friday, 3-6 - 8 Miles (Beach/Road) - Watch Hill Beach run/Dog jog.  Busy day!  Headed to WH at low tide, and did a good beach run, finished up with some slushy roads back to the car.  Went home and took the dog for a run, then quickly showered and headed to my PT appt., then immediately headed to the Mews Tavern for the WTAC Men's Super 5k victory party.  Great time with the small group that was able to make it!

Saturday, 3-7 - 0 Miles.  New computer day.  Should be fun transferring all the accumulated files, pictures and assorted crap off the old 'puter to the shiny new one...process ongoing as I type this.  Yuck.

Sunday, 3-8 - 6-ish Miles (Road) - Dog Jog/Weekapaug Run. - Ran the dog in the afternoon, then headed to Weekapaug for a few road miles in the small oceanside neighborhood.  Slushy, 44 degrees, breezy and quiet.