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Saturday, April 30, 2011

South County Hospital 5K

At the request of Jeff Walker, I ran as the 5th member on Team John Ward Physical Therapy for the Celebration of Life 5K.  He had asked me to fill in several weeks ago and I jumped at the chance.  An 0900 start for a local, small 5K, AND it is free (thanks to John's business and his sponsorship)?  Yes please! I met Jeff briefly at the registration table, where he gave me my JWPT race singlet.  Yes, I'll whore myself and my running services out to anyone and wear whatever corporate sponsorship necessary if it means free race admission!!  I'll try anything twice (yes, you read that correctly). 

It was then onto a quick and rather hurried warm up.  I really prefer to run the entire course as a warm up for my 5Ks but I was squeezed for time here so I only got to run a little over a mile and a half before changing into my racing flats and jogging over to the start line (last one there too!). I was slightly unnerved during the pre-race because of all of the rolling hills.  Although they were "small" they were rather relentless for a little 5K. 

When the race started I took off and settled into 8th or 9th.  I pushed a steady pace and never really became overwhelmed.  Perhaps I could've/should've run a tiny bit harder.  However, I'm still really pleased with how I ran: 18:17--5th overall (5:46, 11:43, 17:40).   I would not have guessed these results with the hills, especially considering my PR is 18:13.  John Ward Physical Therapy won the Team Division as well. The morning just kept getting better when Jeff won a Wii Fit console in the post-race raffle. Lucky dog!

Here's to staying healthy and continuing to improve.  After today's race I KNOW that I'm capable of banging a sub-18.  I really think it's coming soon!

Now, time to settle in with beers and lose some of my fitness while watching the Bruins pound the sh*t outta the Flyers. This might be the year for Lord Stanley's Cup!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Waiting Game

Somehow, even though I was on spring break from school last week, I only managed 29 miles!  I allowed life to get in the way--work, family, and Jesus's magical resurrection fairy tale (dead but crawling out from a gigantic stone and levitating up in the sky?!?!--I call bullshit), dampered my efforts.  I was quite disappointed to say the least. However, I did learn of an engagement up in the Great White North.  Congrats to Gregory "Eazy-G" Hammett and Jen!! 

Now, onto the somber sh*t.  Today my father goes in for heart surgery at Miriam Hospital in Providence.  He has a failing (95% failed) bicuspid valve and it needs to be replaced.  Good thing for pigs and their recycled/salvaged parts!! Pretty surprising, and a little scary, but totally necessary.

Although this is nerve-wracking, it does have several upsides:

1. He will be healthier than he has been.  His fatigue levels have been ridiculous and his condition has deteriorated rapidly over the past 4 months. He went from 57  to 77 yrs old over the course of several weeks.

2.. This forced him to quit smoking a few months ago.  Quite late but better late than never.

3. I'm missing today and tomorrow from work to go to the hospital, (obviously).  This in turn allows me to "sneak in" two quality runs.  Today marked the first. Selfish?  Maybe....but I'd prefer to think of it as resourceful!!

Time for the waiting game.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Grills Greatness

I fooled around in the woods today, just sort of wandering aimlessly on main trails and several others that I'd never seen before.  The two best parts (other than the 6 easy but good paced miles):

1. Saw a ton of wildlife.  Great Egret, 4 Great Blue Herons, Eastern Towhees (I hate tea), and  countless numbers of the usual "boring" regulars.  On three back to back occasions, Green-Wing Teal (I think?)exploded out of marsh grass right at my feet as I ran by.  Didn't know what they were at first (so tiny and soooo fast) but I saw the "yellow taillight" on some of the males.  What else could they be?  Also my first auditory confirmation of the year of Bufo americanus.

2. Found an old bottle dump (I seem to stumble on these things often) and quickly picked out several gems.  I've already formulated a business deal with a guy that excavates bottles as a hobby and makes $$ on them.  Shhhhhhhhhh, the location is a secret!!  :)


Man, runners really do find the coolest places and neatest sh*t!!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Clamdigger 5 miler

Given the shitty elements on Saturday night, Sunday broke clear and warm, and despite a very stiff SWwind (25 knots), the weather was rather nice.  Recently I joined the Westerly Track and Athletic Club (WTAC) so this was my first official "club" race, The Clamdigger 5 Miler, and I looked forward to the new role. In its 30th year, the Clamdigger is a very small 8k that  fields about 100-130 runners.

I arrived 1.5 hours early to help setup and man the registration table. A new learning experience presented itself today:  make sure you thank your race organizers for their time and efforts.  Pre-race logistics suck.  What a shit show. Wow!! I fully realized the craziness of the situation when I turned to Jeff Walker, working next to me at the table, and casually asked him what time it was.  His response of  "Oh, it's 10:48" caused me to jump up and immediately begin to panic.  12 minutes to strip out of my clothes, run a warmup, change into some different clothing and slap on some my running flats?!?  Uh-oh!!  Instant anxiety turned into a keystone cops-type debacle. Send in the clowns.  No real warmup and no shoe change...(who really stretches anyway?) and wedged in at the starting line. I've never felt more unprepared and less loose before a race than I did today.

In looking at the past results from the previous 3-4 years, I speculated that I would finish in the top 10, probably around 4-5th.  From the gun, I was 5th or 6th behind a few familiar faces and a couple of younger kids.  After a few minutes I settled in and it was decision time--do I push ahead and battle these guys or sit back and see what happens?  At the first mile marker I decided to push out front because we were going away from the wind and I could run a little more efficiently. Despite a flooded (in a few places ) Atlantic Avenue, the conditions were decent.

The race turned over the breachway out to the overlook and up into some side streets in the Weekapug area.  It was weird leading the field.  I'm not used to being out in front.  I don't like it.  I'd honestly rather chase someone for the duration than hear breathing, spitting, and footsteps behind me.  It never got "bad" until turning back out onto Atlantic Avenue again.  Out and backs are wonderful.  My goal of sub 6:00 pace turned into a new goal: "Just keep going. It'll be over in about 10 minutes."  Sh*t.

I ended up finishing first and winning a "gold medal".  However, I'm not at all happy with my time of 30:46. Kind of disappointing.   My splits were:  6:03, 5:55, 6:05, 6:07, 6:?? (forgot to stop my watch). Can you guess where/when the wind kicked my ass? Too bad--I really thought that I would be high 29's.  In summary: the wind over the final 2 miles swallowed my dreams and crushed my soul.  That's life I guess.

Pale Ales are easing my pain. So at least I have that going for me, which is good.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A-Town Throwdown

I just got back from a regular maintenance-type run in the woods that I did faster than is necessary. This is primarily due to a couple of reasons: 1) I felt amazing and 2) I was enraged. Thus, I'd like to take a moment of your time to tell you a quick little A-town Tale from the Puddin' Vault. I apologize if it is hard to follow because, given the conditions of the story, it needs to be told primarily through the 3rd person and is mainly a conversation. Grab your favorite beverage, settle in and try to be sympathetic. I apologize for the length but I can't stop thinking about this.  I need to vent.

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It was a fine sunny afternoon when Muddy decided to kick off his April vacation by going to visit his parents and run from their house into state land. Always a fan of killing two birds with one stone, Mr. Puddin' decided to grab some really nice pieces of oak that he had noticed stacked in the woods on a previous run. The unknowing reader may find this puzzling and need clarification.  Simply put, the aforementioned wood had been cut several months ago by a logging company as they trimmed limbs and dropped trees on town land in a thru-way for utility power lines. Muddy, the infallible scavenger of wood, for his parents to burn in their wood stove, saw these chunks of deciduous fuel as a veritable gold mine. He humped the overly large pieces back and forth into his truck, which was pulled over off to the shoulder of the road.  The emergency flashers blinked away as the oak piled up in the back.

As the final two logs slammed into the bed of his truck, a shiny royal blue corvette pulled up along side the firewood laden F-150.  A man, appearing to be in has mid 50s, rolled down his window and yelled something to Muddy.

"Excuse me?", Muddy replied.

"I said, 'Is that your wood?' " the man asked, apparently for the second time.

After pausing for a few seconds, Puddin' decided to go with it. 

"It is now. This wood was dropped by a logging company working for National Grid and it's been sitting here for several months.  I'm grabbing it for firewood."

The man looked straight ahead, staring off into space for several moments before he smiled sourly at Muddy and asked, "Is that anything like rolling through a stop sign?"

"What?", Muddy frowned.

The man repeated himself again.  A heavy silence hung in the air, broken only by the growling of the 'vette's over sized engine.

"You have no idea what I'm talking about do you?" the man asked, still staring at Muddy with a hint of the smile still on his face.

"No clue," Muddy retorted, as angst began to build inside of him.

"Ain't you that kid I see joggin' around here all the time?"

Immediately, Muddy's ire rose.  He could sense that this stranger was pushing the situation.  Muddy decided to push back.

"Nope, I don't jog, I run" he sarcastically replied, emphasizing the verb.

"Well, three weeks ago, you remember yelling at me as I rolled through that stop sign up there?  You screamed "THERE'S A STOP SIGN THERE!", the man said, his voice becoming elevated slightly.

"Not really, " Muddy replied, honestly.  "Actually, while I'm running I yell at many cars when they drive through the sign without slowing down.  I don't--". 

The man cut him off- "Lemme tell you somethin'.  I wasn't too happy when you yelled that.  I don't EVER stop at that sign" he said, his voice continuing to rise in volume. "Who the hell do you think you are, running the wrong direction, yelling at cars?"

"Running the wrong direction?  What are you talking about?", Muddy inquired.

"Ain't you supposed to run with traffic?" the Royal Blue stranger sarcastically, and most likely rhetorically, asked.

"Ummmmm, actually, no." Muddy snapped back. "Walk and run facing traffic, ride with it.  It appears that's now TWO traffic rules you don't comprehend."

"You smart ass!" the man exploded. 

"Screw you.  I live on this road with three small children.  You ripped through the stop sign without even slowing down. A stops sign still means stop, even if you are in a Corvette!!" Muddy returned.

"I oughta hop outta this car and smack the shit out of you!", Mr. Corvette yelled back, apparently ignoring Muddy's logic.

Although really pissed off now, Muddy calmly threw his hands out to the side.  Ten years ago, the often ill-tempered Puddin' would've blown up.  Now however, despite an immense anger burning inside of him, he calmed himself and replied.

"Ya know what? Go ahead." he replied with a sigh.  "If it'll make you feel like a real man, step out of the car and do it. I'll bet you'd kick my ass too. But just to let you know, I'm not gonna make it easy.  You're gonna have to work for it, big guy."

The man stared back for a few seconds, unsure how to reply.  Another voice arose from the passenger seat inside of the car.  Muddy couldn't hear what was said but had no time to try and decipher it before the stranger screamed out:

"You're lucky I have family in the car with me or I'd stomp your ass.  I drive this road all the time and the next time I see you, you're done!", the man roared.

Still speaking in a dead-pan voice, Muddy replied "That's fine.  Almost every day I'm right along these roads, usually around 3:30 or 4:00.  See you then."

The car's engine roared and as he was taking off, the man pointed at Muddy and screamed "Enjoy the wood!" 

In spite of himself and his current condition, Muddy chuckled at the man's foolish parting words.

"No worries, dude.  I will." he said to no one but himself.

The End

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I'm still soooo pissed and really hope he "sees" me again sometime.  It would be interesting to tangle in the middle of the road with a middle-aged stranger, twice my size.

On the bright side though, the afternoon's altercation helped me clip off six miles immediately afterwards like I was an elite runner (or so it felt).

Hope you guys come to my funeral.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Tippecansett

I ran an out & back yesterday, starting from an unnamed Green Falls Pond trail head. I proceeded up and around the eastern edge of the pond where I picked up the Narragansett Trail split that turned into Tippecansett Trail. I had never run the yellow-blazed Tippecansett before so it was cool. It carried me all the way to the R.I. side of Beach Pond where, after hydrating and eating a snack, I turned around and headed back. Overall, it was pretty cool. The weather was AMAZING. However, I didn't care for a few aspects: 1. Much of the trail markers were sketchy at best so I got "lost" a few times. 2. About 2 miles of it is along wide dirt roads and even crosses Rte. 138. Definitely not as cool as the single track. The "funniest" part was on the way back. As I neared Green Falls Pond again, I stopped for some more water and, since I had my Camel Hump with me, (at the prodding of my wife), I carried my phone with me. I took a looping spur trail down off of the main blue-dot trail, to the base of a small, unnamed stream. At the base of the mini-falls, I stopped to take a few photos and then, being a lazy asshole, figured it would be better to scramble over the rocks back up to the main trail rather than run "all the way back" (0.10 mile) along the spur trail. Needless to say, holding a phone and a snack, while trying to Spiderman over rocks and stay dry isn't prudent. The short but pixelated crappy video below shows what a poor decision maker I am. It picks up near the top, and the end of my shitty idea. Enjoy.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Special Deliviery From Cali

I just got an awesome package in the mail. Bet you can't guess what was in it. Some hints: 1. The contents weigh in at just over 5 oz. 2. The contents are very light and fluffy. 3. The contents smell funny. 4. The contents are bright, strange colors. 5. The contents aren't usually found in common stores. Give up? No, it's not what you think it is. My curiosity was inspired by Jonny at the recent race when we briefly discussed his Nike Frees. Over the past several weeks I've been pondering buying a pair of lightweight "flats" because all of my running shoes that I train in (and race in) are bulky and heavy-ish. Although I've never been that crazy about Nikes in the past (usually too narrow for my feet), I decided to give the Nike Zoom Streak XC 2 a try. What the hell, why not? I picked them up online for only $55. I can't go wrong with something that costs less than my weekly beer consumption. They are waaaaaaay too thin (the uppers are almost non-existant) for everyday running, (obviously). And, despite being too narrow, I ran in them a little while ago. They're like running in Vibrams, (which I rarely ever use): obscenely light, allow me to be all over the mid-to-forefoot striking, and make me feel like I'm Cinderella wearing slippers at the ball. Although, I don't love them and they're TOO weak (and gay) and tire me out a little (7-8 miler turned into only 5). I'm definitely going to save them for shorter races and running on softer surfaces. However, this also creates a question-- how often SHOULD I run in them , or ANY racing flats for that matter? I don't want to "save" them for only races and have them kill my calves & tendons. Yet, at the same time, I don't want to wear them all of the time/often. Any suggestions from you guys peanut gallery who know WTF you're doing (which is anyone besides me) would be appreciated.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Chariho 5k


After only running 2x for a total of 10 miles this week I felt pretty rested but was worried about my shin(s). I had been looking forward to my sister-in-law's race for quite a while and hoped I wasn't going to be sore.

I warmed up along most of the course and found there to be a pretty solid WNW wind at times. Still my shin felt fine so I was pretty happy. It's a small race but for a good cause. I was happy when I saw Mr. H, Jonny, Chad Greene and several other people.



Per usual, I went out a little too fast but then settled in at 3rd behind Chad Greene and his friend from MA. Pushed it and ran pretty even splits. Came within a hair of "catching" Chad but he held me off on the track. It was a great battle but I came up short. I ran a good race. 5:53, 11:43, 17:33....18:13 3rd overall and a new 5K PR. It was my first time ever beating Jeff Walker too. I'm pretty pleased. Hopefully I can stay healthy and keep improving.


Jonny PRd as well and Mr. H easily destroyed his division (although got boned on a prize somehow). Mason completed it for the 3rd time too. 36:48!! He has a cold and was pretty pooped but liked talking race details at dinner! :)


The 3-I Recovery Program has commenced: Ice, IPA and Vitamin I.