Friday, December 27, 2013

My Limit (For Now)

I'm getting a little more flexible.
After a ridiculous amount of stretching, pathetic attempts at yoga, beer, and some varied runs (almost in a controlled investigation manner), I've come to the conclusion that I am indeed improving. I'm happy for obvious reasons and although some of the signs point to lost fitness I know it's going to all be ok.

Essentially I've been waiting to see how my knee feels each day before deciding what to do.  If it is tight, creaky, popping & locking(ish) then no running.  If it feels loose, especially after mucho stretching, then I can run.  Every other day or 1x every three days seems to be the order of the day. Based on some shorter runs (4-5 miles?) and a little bit longerish (8+ miles, long for me now), I've realized that four miles is absolutely my limit before discomfort sets in, no matter what.  I was really curious if it was also related to up and down/terrain or if it was solely due to time on feet and the distance itself.  Time for some investigating.

On Christmas eve morning, I met up with Jonny, Gazelle, Chris G, Mike B, Nate, and Sean at Grills Sanctuary in Ashaway for an hour or so of varied trail running.  On a slightly related side note, that is way too many legitimate first names to be using--my goal is to come up with descriptive nicknames for at least some of them. The only requirement is that I run with them more to be able to fairly develop accurate monikers.  A reasonable goal for 2014....Anyway, it came as no surprise when, approximately 4-5 miles into the run I began feeling the sliding, clicking, annoyingness in my knee.  This further reiterated that the distance/time is indeed a factor. Overall, it was still fun.

Yesterday, I decided to see what would happen if I ran on completely flat ground.  I opted for CHS track and cross country trail.  In addition, I hoped to see what would happen if I pushed it a little bit for a few shorties.  After a warm up I was able to timidly run 2 x 200, 2 x 400, 2 x 200.  I was happy to see that I felt good, at least my knee did anyway, for the first set of 200s and the 400s.  Unfortunately, at mile 4 mark, for the second 200s, my knee started to get all sketchy.  Splits: 38, 37, 75, 75, 35, 36.  Times were not that bad but I forgot what it was like to work for it--it's been almost two months since track action!  My wife informed me I'm  "a f*$#ing idiot" for trying to run hard(ish) on the track.  Whatever.....More importantly, I was able to conclude that it is indeed the distance/time vs terrain for the most part. Important findings.
For real......

I was also able to go yesterday afternoon for a follow up visit with the doc and some dexamethasone sodium phosphate ultrasonic phonophoresis.  Sounds fancy but it is really just anti-inflammatory steroid administered via ultrasonic medium vs injected.  To me, the name makes it sound like an opiate drug but fortunately, it's not. 

 The guy was able to state with surety that:
- stretching is helping--my flexibility is indeed improving
- I need more hip stretching and mobility
- the 4 mile thing is due to friction and inflammation: fine at first but keep rubbing and stuff gets irritated
- I should still stay away from a great deal of downhill/descents for the immediate future until everything is totally better

So, things are looking up.  When I rise each morning I'll continue playing the tentative "what does it feel like today" game.  I shall keep running every other day, stretching, doing boring strengthening drills, and trying not to get too gross and blubbery.

And pondering names for some of my WTAC brethren.......

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Vestigial Structures Are For Suckers

After three separate rescheduling events, I finally got to see Dr. Coppes at South County Orthopedics this afternoon.  The appointment was for 1300 so rather than take a half a day, I opted to institute one of my 119 sick days (ridiculous!!) that I've accumulated over the years.  So stupid!  I figured I would be able to squeeze in a run and get a great deal of grading out of the way.  Much to my chagrin, as I was lacing up to head out the door for an easy 3-5 miler, my wife jangled her car keys in my face and informed me she had to leave for her final exam several hours early--for "study time".  Apparently a house full of three yelling and fighting spawn is not conducive to studying. 

As a result, I packed up Layla and did the only other option--"free" daycare at the Y.  Unfortunately, this meant I had to run on a treadmill.   Ugh!  Although I had not forgotten how awful and boring they were, I did forget how easy they are to run on.  What feels like 8:30 pace is actually 7:35.Thanks Mr. Treadmill for doing some of the work for me!  I got to squeeze in 4 miles in the time allotted for exercise and showering before my daughter began dominating the Kids Corner/play area (champions cannot be stopped, only temporarily contained!).  I got bored after the first mile (7:35) so upped it to 7:05 for mile 2. The final two miles were at 6:40 pace and luckily, I felt no pain or discomfort.  Although, my legs did get tired slightly, I suppose due to my rather sedentary lifestyle for the last 35 days.  I won't win any races with effort/times like that but it did feel good to run easy and smooth though.  Now it is just a waiting game to see if I develop any stiffness later today or tonight.  Fingers crossed. 

A brief synopsis of doctor's appointment is as follows:
1. X ray - looks perfectly fine
2. Doctor Digit Drills and Diagnosis - definitely not ligaments or meniscus. Have cracking plica (vestigial synovial folds) that are irritated and catching on femur
3. Lie Back and Lift Legs -- (with a look of disgust): "Stop right there.  Look at how inflexible you are.  I could play a banjo on your hamstrings.  You should be embarrassed by this." (or something along those lines).
So apparently, (as suspected), I tweaked it due to weak and overly tight muscles. I'll totally admit my hamstrings blow but I find it hard to believe that my quads are weak and pathetic.  Whatever the case, it looks like I'm slowly getting better in that I can run a little bit.  I no longer have the old man debilitating arthritic locking of my knee. At most, I occasionally have a small ache on/behind upper medial portion of my patella.  It has been 5 weeks since I "injured it" and all signs point to improvement. He told me to hold off on running for at least a month, but what does he know?  Just because you have the letters "M" and "D" after your name doesn't make you the smartest person in the room (although, during today's visit he obviously was).  I'll run a little (3 times a week?) and have to spend time with strengthening drills and a huge amount of boring-ass stretching.  Maybe even some stupid biking and cardio stuff at the Y (is doggie paddling good for you?)  It looks as though, for now at least, I'm going to have to settle for the every other day plan or even three day plan (run-off-off) for shorter distances.

Oh well--just like with pizza, beer, sex, fishing, and everything else that is enjoyable , you just have to enjoy what you can get when you can get. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Bleeding Me

Today on the way home from a long day of work filled with apathetic, lazy students that just don't get how amazing biology is, I pulled up some old songs on the iphone (plugged into truck stereo) that I hadn't listened to in years.    During the epoch known as adolescence, as Jonny can attest (thanks for tuning my guitar all those years), I was a pretty big Metallica fan.  "And Justice For All", "Master of Puppets", and "Ride The Lightning" were always in rotation (on my tape deck--yeah that's right....TAPES).  Alas, now as I've aged and matured, and so have Metallica, I have to admit, they're newer stuff is unlistenable.  They're awful.  However, as I listened to the song "Bleeding Me" on my short commute home, I actually laughed out loud, as I Spinal Tapped it to "11".  The slow grinding riffs and somber overtones of the song are easy and not musically talented yet can easily become stuck in one's head.  It's simple lyrics, although totally monotonous, fit my current status right now. 

My recent  issues have prevented me from doing what I want to do most of all (besides fishing).  The overall pain has subsided and I've been able to run here and there, 3-4 miles at a time, albeit off the "Strava Grid".  Unfortunately, on a longerish run in the woods last weekend with WTACers, I realized that anything over 4-5 miles causes me pain again.  I'm getting better (I think) but not as fast as I'd like.  I've gone two spans of time with zero running which although nowhere near enough cumulative time off, has still been pretty crappy.

So this "shituation" parallels quite nicely the lyrics of this cheesy, woe is me metal ballad. Case in point:

"I'm diggin' my way to something better"
 .........indeed I am.  I want to be better. I'm still running a little and I want to return back to and stay normal.

"I'm sowin' the seeds I take for granted"
......who among us doesn't take running for granted?  All of you do, and so do I.

"This thorn in my side is from the tree I've planted"
.....this is pretty much my fault.  I did it to myself and now have to pay the price.

"Can't stop to save my soul, I take the leash that's leading me"
....obvious. So hard to stop.

Metallica sucks and so does my knee. least it's Friday.

I have an appointment with South County Orthopedics next Friday.  I'm positive it's not a ligament nor meniscus problem.  Just hope it is not articular cartilage related--with its limited to non-existent blood flow that sh*t doesn't heal. That's just a stroll down an old age pathway that I wish not to venture. Why don't Gazelles age?

On the bright side,  I was able to score a spear gun from an old college acquaintance for free.  He was going to throw it out and I like to shoot tautog and stripers so I jumped on it.  Traded him a 12 pack of pale ale for it. Who needs American currency or Bitcoins when you have good ol' fashioned bartering? I can't use two guns at the same time so anyone want to come murder  osteichthyes with me this summer?

Speaking of libations, I still like beer and food and am getting fatter by the day. +6lbs and counting.

What's your favorite Metallica song?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Just A Law Abiding Bad Ass

Given the currently existing Tomaquag Trail system that connects a narrow strip of land surrounded by cow farms in the north and the terminal end at Grills Sanctuary in the south, I suspected that they were going to try and connect the parcels via easements. 

Several months ago, using Hopkinton Tax Assessor property maps and a muddy pair of shoes, I stalked/discovered/sniffed out what appeared to be a random access point and right of way into woods with old carriage roads and some single track.   After dicking around in there five or six times I figured this would make a great cut through that, and with a few miles of road, could connect all three properties.

I just received an email from Jonny Miles confirming my initial hypothesis.  Not sure how he stumbles across this information but he just sent me two links that show just what I had thought. Click here and here to access both.

This is really good stuff for me as all three sections are within 2.5 miles of my front door.  Strung together this would make for good fun.  Unfortunately, I won't get to feel like a sketchy trespasser anymore but at least I can pretend I'm still traipsing through private property without zero shits to give towards property owners and their land holder rights. 

I so badly want to lace 'em up and go there right now.  The sun is out, the air is warm and there is zero wind now as the weather system has completely moved through.  Alas, I've instead decided to rest and (gulp) not run until Thanksgiving and see if that changes anything with regards to my knee.  It still is odd and arthritic- at times the patella is super sore and stiff while at others it feels completely normal.  I'm not at all sure why it continues to come and go but it obviously isn't right. Missing LRR and its WTAC dominated field, (save for a New Hampshire Hammett win --#7), really sucked yesterday.  Looking forward I don't want to stand on the sidelines for the Christmas 10K in a month.

At any rate, I hope everything returns to normal soon.  There's trails right over there to be ripped on.....


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Did I Do It Again?

Obviously, I haven't posted in awhile.  A combination of life things combined with a recurring theme of wasting away in front of screens at school, forced to report out and document my documentation of documents (seriously!) has left me unwilling to sit down in front of a computer to do just that again, even if it is in regards to one of my loves, running. Unfortunately, I have the time to do it now. 

Following a really fun and rugged as hell trail run last Sunday with Jonny in which we ventured from Wyassup Lake to (and up) Lantern Hill and back, my right knee began feeling a little achy.  I'm pretty sure on the descent down the Lantern I jarred/wrenched it some how.

 It was a little tweaked on the return trip back to the car but not at all painful and manageable.  I made sure to lube all of my joints with plenty of alcohol  that evening, centered around my 12th wedding anniversary. 

The following day (Veteran's Day), my knee really felt cagey and achy on a short and easy recovery run.  Much to my chagrin, the stiffness, tightness, and minor pain increased throughout the day.  The strange aspect is that I can run okay with no pain other than mild stiffness but I have a really difficult time with ups and downs (stairs, ascents up hills-even minor ones) and it really gets bitchy when I'm sitting and is stiffer than Peter North when I get up out of the chair for at least 5-10 mins. Ibuprofen and bags of ice are amazing though.

I'm now stuck in that I want to run (duh!?!) and can but know I shouldn't be.  Just for my own sanity I've ventured out on VERY short and easy runs the last three days but I know they're pointless and accomplishing nothing except for peace of mind.  Also, on the far end of the spectrum of stupid, is that meaningless and totally asinine streak thing.  I'm at 120 days and even though I know it is sofa king dumb, I can't help but not want to give it up.  WTF?!?!

In all seriousness, the real bear is that, barring a miraculous intervention by Baby Jesus, I'm going to have to miss L'il Rhody Runaround!  This bothers me more so than my having to miss Boston back in April due to a very similar malady, albeit on the opposite appendage.  I'm not kidding--LRR is perhaps my favorite race of the year. Adding insult to injury, I'll just have to register in all of my friends, training partners, enemies, etc. and then watch them bound off into the woods for tons o' fun.  Perhaps the only consolation is that at least I can intercept them at a few points along trail-road intersections and watch them suffer.  That'll be fun.

Waiting in limbo, hoping and not praying cuz prayer is a waste of time.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Italian Ghost Runner

Wednesday I resumed my very early and very dark track workouts at school.  My mornings are always super busy but I've decided that I can afford to not go in at 0600 one morning a week.  So as long as I plan accordingly (read: get my shit done Tuesday afternoon before leaving school), I can get back after it running mindless ovals.

It felt good to get back out there after a hiatus of several weeks.  After a two mile warm-up I squeezed in 8 x 400.  Intending to run them at my I pace (about 80?) which is more appropriate, yet I got into it too eagerly and ran almost all of them at R pace (75 and lower). Oh well.  It was fun.  But the running content in this post is not about me and my meaningless exploits.

More interesting, at least to me, was that I crossed paths again with the same two older (50-60?), Italian women that come to walk and run the track.  I've seen them there with their gaudy sweat suits and little LED flashlights every single Wednesday morning I've been there, dating back to the summer. Big deal, other runners, right?  But these two lovely ladies are out for morning exercise and are most definitely not runners.  Actually, they're there running so they ARE runners but what I'm trying to state is that they do not fit the typical runner description morphologically, attire, etc.  I really hate to stereotype but hopefully you get my drift and realize my stupid notions here.  ANYONE that runs, no matter what they look like, is a runner!  But again, these dedicated dames don't strike me as the everyday runner you're likely to encounter at your next road race.Couple these misconceptions with the fact that those ladies are there every Wednesday, whether I'm there or not I'd wager, and you have yourself some devoted gals.  Are they there every single weekday morning? I wonder.....

I had the chance to slobber out/huff the proverbial "Mornin'" as we passed, me running counter clockwise in lane 1 and them jogging/walking clockwise in the outer lanes.  Misery loves company.  I completed my final reps (damn, overdid it on the last 2) and then changed direction for an easier paced two mile cool down.  As I rounded a turn I came upon the shorter and (ahem) more stout of the two.  She was running along with her flashlight off but had since moved to lane 1, which was fine considering that I was cooling down and she was upping her effort and getting after it.  Like an ass I thought to myself, "Nice. She's working hard for her but I'll just mosey around her at my easier pace (7:30ish?)."  However, I realized that all down the front stretch, I was making no ground on her--in fact, she was pulling away.  Apparently, I subconsciously picked up my pace and before too long, I was working again slightly to try and catch her (6:30 pace?).  WTF?!?!

As I moved around her I realized that she was shuffling along with a smooth and effortless (sub 7:00), low foot sweeping stride. I also became aware that I couldn't hear all.  No foot strikes. No huffing and puffing.  Nothing.....she was like a silent ghost.  Running in the dark next to her was very surreal and almost dream-like.  Shouldn't she be in a kitchen making delicious food?  I complimented her as I moved past "Wow. You have a great stride and the quietest, most efficient foot strike I've ever not heard.".  She replied with a chuckle, "Oh is that good?".  I moved past and finished the last few laps of my cool down with a big smile--happy because I was done and sort of overdid my workout but still felt good AND, perhaps more so, happy to encounter another humble, everyday runner out there in the pre-six o'clock darkness, doing her thing.

Run on, nonna.  Run on.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Waiting For Columbus

Had a great run today in both sides of Grills (Ashaway and Bradford).  Great weather. Legs and everything else felt fantastic.  Thanks for the day off.  Yet again, I refused to attend a parade to honor the guy. 

Instead I fished and ran and worked with my wife on building a rodent house (not doll house) out of  a wooden wine box for my youngest daughter.  I build bomb 5 inch total  rise stair stringers and treads if you're in the market. Not to code but I don't care.

Good start to the week on all fronts.

Click here to honor the mighty C.C. and his 1492 quests. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Hampton Rockfest Marathon (a.k.a. Smuttynose)

The day finally arrived.  After months of fairly diverse and somewhat focused training, I was finally ready to tackle my third attempt at 26.2 miles.  Going in I felt pretty ready and had three main goals:

1. Martin Luther King: a total dream but hey, you never know.  2:45-2:46:59

2. Real Life: 2:47 - 2:49:59: much more realistic and what I really knew was attainable and I could (can?) hit it.

3. Shit Show: if everything starts going downhill, just hang on and hit this one-- anything under my previous PR of 2:54:XX

My wife and sister-in-law were both running the full as well as my niece dabbling with her first attempted half marathon (never having run more than 8 miles before).  This coupled with the fact that Gazelle (26.2) and Nate (13.1) were also running on Sunday made for extra excitement, at least for me.  Secretly, I also had goals for my other running counterparts.....that's right. I'm that guy. So here they are:
Gazelle: 2:52-2:53
Nate: 1:22-1:23
My better half and her sister: 4:45ish
My niece: 2:30ish?

So with goals in my mind, (for everyone), we packed into the Yota Mothership (van) and drove up to Hampton to pick up bibs and then drove back to stay with friends in North Andover, MA about 30 minutes away from the race site.  The evening was filled with beers, pasta, and pleasant chatter. I went to bed relaxed, not at all anxious, and feeling ready to roll, despite knowing that I was most likely going to sleep like shit (which I did--about 4 hours total in intermittent chunks).

We awoke at 0500, grabbed coffee and peanut butter & bagels and headed to the site.  We parked fairly far away from the start line (less traffic) and bathroomed, changed, lubed up, etc.  I saw Nate and Gazelle run by the van and tried to yell out to them but couldn't get it together.  Instead, I ran a short 3/4 mile-1mile warm-up then headed down to the starting corral and found my fellow WTACers.  A few short strides and then we settled in and were off!

It's a little sketchy at the start because halfs and fulls run together and don't peel off until around mile 11 (course map here).  I knew there would be guys going out harder than I needed to and, given that you can't see the blue (half) vs orange (full) bibs on runners' fronts, the only option is to settle in and find out at the split who was running what.

Miles 1-5
--> I ran with Gazelle for the first several miles.  Mile 2 sucked as it was directly into a stiff NNE wind of about 20 knots.  Luckily we turned off around 2.5 miles into neighborhoods and the wind didn't really matter (until brief stints around miles 9 and 22 (back out to seashore).  I was feeling really good here and Gazelle and I parted ways around mile 4 or so.  I kept pushing a little and passed many people, still with no idea who was 1/2 and who was 26.2.  Gu at mile 5.

Miles 6-10
-->I was separated from most people now and started to settle down, at least mentally, and focused on pushing but (trying) to run smart.  I didn't bother to check most mile splits.  About every 5-7 minutes I'd glance down to guesstimate pace.  Never once did I see anything under 6:08 which, now that I look back at stupid space watch splits, I question their accuracy.  I don't think I ran a 5:56 but hey...
I could see Nate with a group of 2-3 guys up ahead and I actually closed a bunch of distance on him.  This should have been Indicator #1 that I was not running smart.  As we descended down the hill during mile 10 along the coast I actually got clipped pretty hard by a bitch on a bike, escorting/pacing a wheelchair entrant.  She screamed "Out of the way! Wheelchair racer coming through!" Are you effing serious?!?  Gu at mile 10.

Miles 11-15
-->At the mile 11+split, marathoners turned off the main course back into neighborhoods....and I found myself totally alone.  I had the fever now and was feeling really excited and pushed it through 12.  For a few minutes I wondered if I could actually be in first!  But thankfully a spectator (obviously a runner) notified me that I was about 2 mins in back of 4th place.  A few minutes later I could see him.  Subconciously I think I continued to push a little harder than necessary to try and catch him. 
Unfortunately, around mile 13 marker/just past the split I beginning feeling less than awesome.  I know that is normal but not so soon!  The unwritten rule is if you feel shitty at the half, forget it! You're done.  I tried to gauge just how shitty I was and then decided to forget about it and keep running.  I did manage to pass another guy (Ironman tats and jersey) and thought that put me in 3rd place but had conflicting information from course spectators ("You're 5th" and "4th place now. Nice job") so who really knows. Gu at mile 15.

Miles 16-20
-->Miles 16 and 17 is where I started to get a little worried.  The pain was already more than it should've been.  My left knee was hurting in that old familiar way, but still manageable.  I definitely noticed (after about 10 glances at the space watch) here that I had to work really hard to run what felt like 6:10 pace but was more like 6:25-6:28.  Finally, at mile 18, as I was all alone, I began to cave.  There was no hitting the wall at 20 or 22.  It jumped at me a little earlier than I wanted: "Here I am dickface!  Gonna be fun running with you the next 8+miles!".  Officially, my times really don't start to become deplorable until mile 20 and beyond.  The space watch shows 6:40s but many times I glanced down (doing that a lot at this point) I was running 6:55-7:00! Yikes. Gu at mile 20.

Miles 21-The End
-->I knew I was fading. My pace was rapidly getting higher than Cheech & Chong in "Up In Smoke".  It's always around this time that I begin hating everyone around me.  Even though spectators mean well, seriously, it doesn't help to hear (for the 100th time) "Almost there, only "X" miles left".  Around the mile 23 marker I could hear footsteps.  As I continued to weave in and out of half marathon walkers (UGH!) I knew right away that the person closing on me was NOT a 1/2 runner.  Triathlon guy blew by me like I was standing still.  My initial reaction was denial--there's no way he can be running 5:30 pace right now!  Unfortunately, another neurotic glance at the watch revealed that he was probably running 6:25 or so, like he was SUPPOSED TO BE DOING! I was the a-hole who was dying at 7:00 pace.  To pour salt on the wound, another guy (triathlete as well) blew by me around mile 24 marker.  Damn!  It made the suffering and pain exponentially worse. 

I did manage to shuffle in officially at 2:51:05 (full results here)  Wrapped up in the foil blanket of love, I weaved and stumbled back to the van with a Gatorade and banana to try and get my act together.  The rain was freezing.  My mind was numb (like my hands and feet) and I just wanted to crawl into a hole.

Stupid space watch says the hell does that happen?!? I really wish someone could explain that one to me.  As such, I don't really know with any accuracy, what my actual real splits were.  Many of them were a bit too fast on the watch which means I didn't run as fast as I thought first half but def ran even slower for the last 10K...UGH! After about an hour, I met up with my brother-in-law who treated me to a few beers and a "victory shot" of Patron (YUCK!).  We watched our wives finish (4:40:XX) and then packed it up and headed out to a restaurant for burgers, fries, and a few more pints.

Post-Race Pros and Cons--

1. I ran a PR of over 3.5 minutes.  Awesome.
2. My WTAC brethren crushed their races
3. I was pretty spot on with my predictions/guesses for others.  That is, if you exclude the outlier Gazelle who I think might be juicing/doping!  Amazing!
4. Finished 4th overall out of 953 runners.
5. At least (as of today) my knee pain/former injury isn't bothering me.
6. Post-race I got to run toxicology experiments on my kidneys and liver (1000mg of Vitamin I and beers). Data still pending... 

1. I totally own this failure.  I got way too excited and ran the first half too fast.  I KNOW I can run a 2:47 or so. I'm much more upset with my stupidity/tactics than my fitness or lack thereof.  As I stated, I know I was fit enough for 2:47 or so. Tough to swallow that one.
2. Missed out on cash prize. I had no idea I was in 2nd OA near the end!  One or more of the guys ahead of me must've tapped out over the last 10K or so.  If I had known  it wouldn't have helped at all-- I had N-O-T-H-I-N-G left.
3. Trashed legs now, but that was to be expected.

I'm disappointed for sure.  However, my rule is to whine and bitch and feel sorry for myself for no more than 24 hours and then forget about it.  So after I hit the "Publish" button in a few minutes here, no more complaining.  Onward and upward. I still stand by my belief that marathon training is fun.  I'll continue to do it over the summer, even if I'm not running a definite marathon.  Marathon shape but jumping into 10Ks --1/2 marathons and meeting with success is such awesome fun.

And FYI, I will NOT be listening to my wife who is now pressuring me to sign up for Philly Marathon in November.  No thanks.

As Gazelle can attest from past experience " I'm never fu*#ing doing that again."

Sunday, September 29, 2013

MMXIII - Week 39

MON.- 5mi. -- easy wandering on trails.  Got a little worried when near the end of the run felt a "pop" and burning sensation in right Achilles area.  Not terribly painful but felt more sore like a bee sting.  Weird.

TUE.-3mi. - just a short run to test out the nagging Achilles.  A little bit of pain but more a nuisance.  Not quite as sore as yesterday.

WED.-2mi.- another test run.  Achilles felt better (still there though).  This was terrible parenting 101- left 10 yr old in charge of 3 yr old while I quickly scampered to end of our road and back.  Everything was fine, both the spawn and the Achilles.

THU.- 5mi. - Tomaquag Valley loop at nice base pace.  Even managed a CR on Tomaquag Valley segment (unintentionally).  Good to see that I feel pretty much normal again. Ahhh, the power of pills, ice, and beer.

FRI.- 3mi.--really anxious to just run a tiny one and get it over with.  Went out to chase bass with Mason.  We got a bunch but they were only dinky schoolies.

SAT. - 12+mi. -- met up with a bunch of guys from WTAC to run in Carter Preserve.  Nice relaxing run.  Really perfect weather for it.  We all took a rip on the Grassland Mile Loop (CCW) just for shits and giggles.  Then Nate and I tacked on some more with a Shannock loop on roads to get in some more miles and conversation.  Really enjoyable run. Around 1100 the kids and I took out the vessel briefly.  Despite Layla getting sick and cutting the trip really short, there were birds and fish EVERYWHERE, from east of the lighthouse all the way west of Deep Hole and Nebraska Shoals.  Gotta get Layla-Lou on Dramamine or something. Get your damned sea legs, kid! How dare a 3 yr old interfere with my pursuit of linesiders?!!?

SUN.- 8+mi.-- ran aggressively, but still in base pace zone (just on lower end).  Ended up COVERED in gnats when I ran through the numerous sunny glades along farm country roads.  Tried to push it a little bit (around MP) on Pinewoods Drive segment.  Got a little tired at the end but I didn't mind.  All in all, today was a great day.  Caught a lot of HEALTHY stripers off of Pt. Judith Lighthouse on the boat with my old man and brother (all were 30-38").  Tough to beat on light tackle (7' medium rod and 15 lb test).  Many of the fish were 12-15 lbs. Sunny fall weather is always an added bonus.

TOTAL: 39 miles
So close I can almost taste it...
-->low totals for sure although this was an expectation I had going in, the weird tendon thing had me on edge and cost me some miles in the middle of the week.  Oh well.  Nothing to be gained this week anyway.  Next week is Smuttynose 26.2 and I'm ready physically and mentally. Just hurry up and get here (so work will be over AND I can go back to running carefree and relaxed)!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Achilles Last Stand...

Well, I've broken my dry streak.  Last Friday the family and I took the boat out to a small beach in Pt. Judith pond and enjoyed ourselves immensely.  The hangover Saturday, (while back out at 0530 fishing) was very much not enjoyable....but if you wanna soar with the eagles, you've gotta shit with the chickens sometimes too.

However, things are not all glitter and unicorns right now.

Unfortunately, on yesterday's recovery trail run I was climbing back up a short hill and felt a "pop" and then slight pain with a burning sensation.  It felt just like I had been stung on my Achilles by a bee.  This happened to me briefly about 5 weeks ago on a run and after a small period of minor burning pain it went away. I finished the run yesterday without too much discomfort yet now my Achilles tendon and surrounding area burn, mildly ache and are generally sore.  This feeling is especially pronounced when climbing or descending stairs (stretching it out/using the tendon).  Hope it is nothing serious.  I did an easy short 3 miler just to see and all was ok.  But even after gobbling 750mg of Vitamin I and icing 2x for 10 mins each, it still bothers me. 

Adding to my Goth-like attitude is the fact that my Pagan Pale Ale homebrew is rather disappointing.  It is nowhere near as crisp and clean as I was expecting and has a faint taste that, although not bad at all, is weak and less than desirable. 

In summary, I've got 99 problems but a bitch ain't one.  I'll continue to ice, stretch lightly, take Ibuprofen, and drink my less than stellar homebrew and see what happens.

Smuttynose in T-minus  11 days and counting......

Monday, September 23, 2013

MMXIII - Week 38

MON.- 5mi.-- easy "surfcovery".  Tried to keep it slow and easy day after the 1/2 marathon.  Didn't feel as bad as I thought I would.

TUE.- 5mi.  -- tried out new pair of kicks.  Felt like I earned a new pair based upon my effort on Sunday.....that and the fact that all of my other shoes are POSs with a lot of miles on them.
Victory is mine!!

WED.- 7mi. -- just me and the moon for a very dark and early 6 x 800 workout at WHS before school.  Chilly (started in a long sleeve tech shirt).  Felt pretty good for these.  Tried not to overdo it  (2:44ish) but I got a little excited for a few of them.  2:42/2:41/2:44/2:38/2:37/2:38

THU.-6mi. -- Tomaquag Trail loop.  Hustled this one (due to time constraints).  Felt a little tired as a result but I was super excited to find that someone (Hopkinton Land Trust?) has been blazing some more single track in here. Good!  I think I'll do the same.

FRI.-3mi. -- slow and easy.  No time for running--had to get the family out on the boat for an evening beer festivus and outdoor pahty.  Very fun.  My legs thanked me for a slow, easy joke of a run. Pagan Pale Ale is weak but still good.

SAT.-6mi. -- ran and explored across the street in the woods/private property.  Found a bunch of trails, most of which were obviously deer trails but they're runnable.  Fun times.

SUN.-15mi.-- 2 mile w/u then 10 miles at a spicy MP with 3 miles cooldown.  I felt great until about mile 5-6 of the MP portion.  Started to tire and question my ability and fitness at that point but managed to hang on and buckle down (last two miles were the fastest: ~6:17ish).  Not sure, once again, how it is possible to run a full marathon at that pace but I'm going to give it a go anyhow.

TOTALS: 47miles
-->as it was foretold, mileage is starting to dip down but that's cool.  As long as I can get in a couple of honest runs and shorten/easy up all the others, I'm ok with that.  Sunday's run was encouraging yet discouraging at the same time.  It was positive because I know I'm fit and think next to nothing of rolling off 15 miles.  It was negative because, as I stated, I felt tired and still don't see how 26.2 at that pace is doable.  But....whatever. Crash and burn is better than trying to pussy your way through it.

PS- check out this video from Surftown 1/2 marathon.  Scroll to the 1:34 mark for an awesome picture of someone we know.  Great shot!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

MMXIII - Week 37

MON.- 4mi. -- easy recovery after Sunday's 20 miler.  Also stumbled across a private property care taker of land across the street from me (approx. 150 acres) who granted me permission to run on the trails.  Not much there in terms of running opportunities but I'm sure I could explore and covertly add a few more "deer path single track" trails there without getting noticed.  Awesomeness.

TUE.- 10mi. - pissed off about my truck and lack of repairs.  Rolled an aggressive 10 spot but felt a little better after.

WED.- 3mi. - legs felt tired which is just as well.  Wife had evening classes again so I only had a very small opportunity to run.  Plus, it was warm and humid and I felt like shit.  Synchronicity I guess.

THU.- 10mi. - still waiting on the cool, dry weather I roamed both sides of the Pawcatuck River in Grills Sanctuary and Grills Preserve.  Space watch lost me for a bit and claimed I ran a 10:30 mile, much of which was on the roads.  Moved along at low 7s/high 6s throughout.

FRI.- 4mi. -- slow and easy. Real Life Part I

SAT.- 4mi. -- again, slow and easy.  Real Life Part II.  Barely even got this one in before putting on my ResponsibiliDad cape and mask.

SUN.- 19mi. - Surftown Half Marathon.  Results here.  Finished in 1:17:07.  1st O/A.  Ha!! You can only race whomever shows up I guess. Whatever....I'll take it.  Strange talking to reporters (The Westerly Sun and New England Runner) after the race. Ran even splits for most and then slowly picked it up and ran fastest miles the last 3.  Smart race.  Strong WTAC showing.  Probably write up separate report later in the week, seeing as I have more free time with no beer drinking going on.

TOTAL: 54 miles

Happy with my effort and overall results!
--> Well, real life finally caught up with me this week.  I knew I was going to have just start to cut back a tiny bit and sort of begin tapering for Smuttynose. But I certainly didn't anticipate going about it the way I did.  With my better half taking courses and labs at night, coupled with my lack of wheels, I really struggled to get out there and get in good efforts.  Plus, my legs felt like shit all week long--just an overall worn out/run down feeling.  I guess that's how it goes near the end of marathon training.  I did get to volunteer at bib pickup for Surftown on Saturday where Gazelle was gracious enough to let me borrow his car for the evening to transport my spawn around town and home.  Big thanks again.  My enjoyment was tenfold when I remembered/realized that he drove  a 5speed!! Manual transmissions are the shit! I love (and miss) them so much! At any rate,  I'm super pleased with my PR at Surftown.  I ran well and never died/faded.  Strong showing by WTAC as well!

Hope I have very little lingering fatigue and soreness as I continue to cut back this coming week. Although I'll be reducing mileage I do want to make sure that I get in two quality runs that are semi-stressful and focus on turnover and marathon pace.  Most importantly, beer time is almost upon us.  The world will be a better place for it when I crack open my new homebrew. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

MMXIII - Week 36

MON.- 6mi. -- super moist Tomaquag Trail recovery.  Slow going after previous day's long run with Team Davenport.

TUE.- 10mi. -- ran a good base pace around RI/CT border.  Felt pretty good.  Fun to upload run and see several miles in high 6:00s without trying to over do it.  My base pace for normal runs on non-hard days has definitely improved/lowered.

WED.- 12mi. -- 8 mi. (a.m.) - track workout solo at WHS really early (0510 start). Ran an up & down: 400,800, 1600, 1600, 800, 400.  Hard keeping track of pace, fiddling with space watch buttons in the friggin dark.  80/2:44/5:30/5:27/2:41/76.  Broke into locker room after for quick shower (again, in the dark) before donning my professional cap and starting the teaching day. //// 4mi. (p.m.) - easy recovery run.  Legs were really fried.  Ugh. Ugly but necessary.

THU.- 5mi. -- had a very small window to run here.  Had to eek out only 5 miles before Mrs. Puddin' and Mrs. Hammett could run.  Actually is ok because legs still feeling worn out.

FRI- 12mi.  -- rolled off a weird run.  "3:1 ratio" -- 3 miles at low base pace followed by one quicker mile at MP.  Good, fun run (banged a couple of stupid Strava segments also).  Felt pretty good and although slightly uncomfortable, wasn't too taxing on the ol' legs.

SAT.-6mi.-- lazy, easy run on roads and trails of Caroline Mgmt. Area from my parents' house.  Took it easy in preparation for Sunday's long run/workout.

SUN.-20mi. -- solo run but had an unfortunate "wardrobe malfunction".  "The Plan": run solo from home, 0700 start and rattle off 11 miles at aggressive base pace then finish last 9 miles at marathon pace.  "Real Life": slapped on Garmin too find that it was frozen at 1638 on 7 September.  Plugged it back in and charged it "fully" and finally headed out the door a little after 0800.  3 miles in the Low Battery sign flashed and I only had one tiny bar.  Fugg it, keep going, who cares?!?  Stopped at gas station in Shannock for a water and Gatorade (around mile 11) before starting the faster part of the run.  Snapped off some good miles until the space watch finally shit the bed at mile 16.5.  I reciprocated by dying almost immediately thereafter.  It was foolish to think I could maintain hard mp up the long hill on Collins Road and further small climbs back up to home. I tried to keep going by talking to myself: "You pussy! Think of how much Gazelle is suffering right now with Firmman! This is nothing!!".  Instead I bailed on the 6:15-6:20 pace and went into "just get there mode/pace" (felt like 7:45ish).  Even though I quit (sort of), still a solid run and workout. 

TOTAL:71 miles

Oops! Stupid wardrobe....good thing it doesn't
-->pleased with my resourcefulness this week.  Knew going in I was going to struggle to get miles in but I still managed.  The track workout at zero dark thirty on Wednesday was actually pretty fun and now that I (creatively) have the logistics down and can pull off the workout and still get into school and get going, I plan on doing it again (and again, and again perhaps). Also feeling excited for Surftown 1/2 marathon next Sunday.  It'll be interesting to see what I can do this year (1:19:33 last year).  Both streaks are still alive and well (one good, one not so good).

The space watch malfunction today was slightly annoying but I'm also glad that I was able to put it in perspective and group it into that cohort with many other "life things" (i.e. work, money, society, etc.)-- it doesn't matter.  Time to dose with vitamin I, roll my legs, stretch a little, and settle in to watch my fantasy football stink up the universe.....they're really so bad.  How did I draft so poorly?  Oh yeah, that's right--it doesn't matter!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


The word brings a slew of diverse images to people's minds, dependent upon their moods at the time (or maturity level).

In Level Renner, Dave Dunham wrote about the art of streaking--running everyday without taking a day off.  Sounds daunting but when you're rolling and feeling good (and very smart about it), it is not that difficult to do.  Technically, the rules state that to be "official" one must run at least one continuous mile every single day.  Hmmm....I've no interest in such a trivial distance just for the sake of keeping a streak going.  However, I'm bringing this up because on today's run it occurred to me that I actually have two streaks going right now.  Incidentally, both of them involve clothing at all times.

Streak A: Although it is not necessarily intentional, (at least it started out that way), I haven't taken a day off from running since 15 July.  I know, not a big deal now, yet what had initially started as a half-assed bid to just get mileage in, has now turned into an addiction of sorts.  I don't want to stop.  My runs have ranged from very short and really easy three milers to long and hard paced 20+ milers, with a bunch of varied paces, terrains, and workouts in between.  I've always questioned the necessity (intelligence?) of everyday running.  Isn't it stupid?  Don't you get tired?  Can't you get hurt? Don't you get worn the fu*k out?  Essentially, yes to all of those. I'm exhausted, but not necessarily from the everyday thing.  The fatigue stems more from the types of runs and distances I'm running.  Heck, I could do easy 4-6 milers everyday for a long, long, long time (I think). Ultimately,at the unsolicited "advice" of others, I've realized that if you're careful, it can actually be really fun, healthy, and an excellent form of stress relief.  It's become a more crucial part of the day for me than brushing my teeth.....almost.  I've finished off coffee before and realized "Shit, I forgot to brush my teeth" but I've yet to think "Shit, I forgot to run".

Gearing up towards the marathon (6 October) I'm not sure if I'll keep it going during the final two taper weeks or post marathon.  At this point, the habit has become so entrenched that I think I probably will--as long as I'm not a dumb ass about it. 

Streak B: At the behest of my wife, "we" decided that, after an unbelievably decadent summer, to forgo drinking for a month.  After some hard thinking, soul searching, and serious negotiating, I managed to whittle it down to three weeks.  My reasoning was simple: 1.) a month is sooooooo looooong [in whiny little kid voice] and 2.) after looking at a calendar I realized that 3 weeks would coincide with the second most important day on the Pagan cycle of events-- the autumnal equinox.  As such, it is timed perfectly that this suffering will end in an act of amazing synchronicity and dare I say synergy: autumnal equinox + Pagan Pale Ale homebrew ready?  At the same time?  If I believed in that God guy I'd claim that this was part of his divine plan.  Amazing!! 

So, as I type this day 9 is winding down and this stupid lime flavored seltzer water I'm sipping out of a can just ain't cutting it.  However, just as with running at the end of a long, marathon paced twenty miler, I know I can grind this one out.

Monday, September 2, 2013

MMXIII- Week 35

MON.-10mi. -- 3mi. (a.m.) - easy in morning before first day of "school".  Professional development with no students is worse than death itself. //// 7mi. (p.m.) - legs feeling a little beat up. Small ascents on Tomaquag weren't enjoyable.

TUE.- 6mi. -- sticky icky humid. Forgot, (until running) that it's still August and therefore still summer, ergo still can be ridick in the humidity department.

WED.-7mi.-- *Race*: Roger H. Schonning 5K.  Results here.  Warmed up with WTAC President and solo.  Then ran smart, even race.  SNERRO screwed up start line so course was a hair short (3.06) but whatever.  Finished 2nd O/A (behind FiveK) in 17:04, so probably about 17:12 or so?  Cool down was the largest I've ever been a part of after a race with a mix of WTAC, NRA and unlinked runners (14 people).  First day of "real" school with students.

THU.-10mi. -- my shortage in miles over recent days lead me to run my Boombridge Road loop through mounds of cow patties in the road.  Felt good until last 2 miles. Is it normal to just always feel tired and run down?

FRI.-10mi. --  afternoon mix of roads and trails but this time forced myself to go a bit easier (~8:05 pace).  Nice and unplanned, the way I like it during marathon training.

SAT.-7mi. -- more road and trail mix.  Parked at Bradford Boat Launch and ran down into Grills Preserve. Forced myself to go even easier.  It is hard to run consistently slow pace (for more than 1-2 miles), especially when excited by trails and thoughts of upcoming runs and races.

Representing myself quite well....
SUN.-20mi. -- accepted an offer from fellow Strava creep, Ryan D. to go on a marathon training workout with his brother and his wife -- all three of them former runners at Providence College  and she was an All American and Olympian. YIKES! Oh yeah, well I won a medal once at some huge party at URI for deviant behavior so there!! Given that I'd recently began following RD online as well as BARELY snuck in before his sister-in-law at the Blessing, I was a little apprehensive for their proposed workout -- 13 miles @ 6:50 and then 6 miles @ slightly under MP (sub 6:20 ).  Oofda! It was fun and I'm really, really pleased by my effort and more importantly, how I felt.  Ryan planned it well with gels and water stop (one at a store).  Perhaps this is why I felt so good--am I always under-fueled on long efforts?  1 mile cool down solo (I have a hard time just shutting off the engine immediately after running) and it was over.  Super humid, super wet and sweaty but super fun. Thanks to them for welcoming me into their fold. And I can tell everyone "Yeah...{yawn}, I train with Olympic athletes.  NBFD or anything."

TOTAL: 70 miles

-->good week again and my confidence is building.  Struggling to get in miles during school, coupled with my perceived fitness level has me itching to run Smuttynose right NOW!  Bring it on next weekend.  If this sounds overly confident, it is not.  I'm just feeling ready and not sure if I can wait another month.  The next two weeks in non-taper mode will be taxing as I'll be itching to get it done but still forced to be patient and run/train smart and gobble miles.  Surftown 1/2 marathon in two weeks.  A good test to see where I'm at. Yet this presents another quandary: run hard and try to blow the doors off that thing, run pretty hard yet keep training through it (be smart), OR just run it as a training/uncomfortably  long MP run?  Pretty sure if I'm dropping the cash for it I have to "go for it" and see how fast I can do it.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

MMXIII- Week 34

MON.-4mi. -- easy stroll to workout fatigue.  Had to go a little later as I wasted 3 hours trying to figure out an electrical/wiring problem in my truck.  I'm a self-proclaimed voltage & amperage expert now (too cheap to bring to a garage/real expert). No second run in evening. Just wasn't feeling it and broke out old Nintendo and about 50 games from storage.  Kids loved playing the "olden days games from 1970s" (sic).

Bubbling away in the basement....
TUE.-11mi. -- 6mi. (a.m.)--took Crutchley up on his invitation to take a shot at a few of his Strava segments (Green Fall Pond and Hidden Lake).  Somehow I got boned by space watch on Hidden Lake even though I know I dominated it.  Still fun but legs felt tired afterwards.  Haven't been running technical stuff lately.  Got me good. //// 5mi. (p.m.) -- legs felt like shit.  Really wanted to run Battle of Stonington 5K but decided not to.  In reality, throughout history treaties have been just as important, controversial, and epic as major battles/wars.  I guess I ran the Treaty of Ashaway around local roads instead. Legs and whole body felt terrible! Did get to brew a Muddy recipe in the afternoon (before running)--Pagan Pale Ale. Simple and straightforward APA w/ predominantly Cascade hops for bittering and aroma and then will be dry hopped in secondary fermenter with Amarillo hops.  It will be ready/first tasting will be at the autumnal equinox.  All are welcome to share in outdoor festivities.

WED.-12mi. -- 8mi. (a.m.) -- Ladder Intervals at CHS track.  1min/2min/3min/2min/1min/2min/3min with equal time recoveries, all repeats @ 3K-5K pace.  Felt pretty decent.  Had to "battle" girls field hockey team jogging/walking on inside 3 lanes.  Annoying. //// 4mi. (p.m.) -- easy run around after putting out signs for final WTAC Fun Run.  I opted to just watch everyone else suffer through the mile, given the state of my legs.

THU.-10mi.-- easy run around Carolina Mgmt Area.  Started out intending to do an easy 5 or so but my legs felt good.  It is so nice to run without caring about mileage, pace, location, etc--just wander around.  I miss carefree running of trails. 

FRI.- 10mi. -- ran from Indigo Point down to Charlestown Breachway and Green Hill Pond area.  2 mile w/u, 6 miles @ MP, 2 mile c/d.  Felt harder than it should've.

SAT.-5mi. -- easy afternoon wandering, over 8:00 pace.

SUN.-20mi. -- Pawcatuck and Ashaway Rivers Tour. Sofa King lazy this morning- set alarm for 0500, hit snooze 4 times, didn't get out the door until just before 0800.  A fun run in which I managed to hit three different preserves (Grills Sanctuary, Riverwood, and Flora Whitley) to access the two rivers as much as possible.  Felt great until I kind of bonked the very final mile. Crushed 2 glasses of OJ, 2 powdered donuts, a PB & J sandwich and 2 bananas when I got home.  BOOM!! 

TOTAL: 72 miles
Marathon training mantra if there
ever was one.
-->Felt some big time tiredness this week but have to stay focused.  Summer vacation is over as of today (Sunday). Gotta go sneak in one last day of boating and fishing today before school (Atlantic Bonito and False Albacore are back--my father dusted a few yesterday!).  I'm a little disappointed that I didn't get to run or volunteer/work at the Level 10K this morning but marathon training and family time trumps all.

Speaking of education, which is related to running because it is about to seriously hamper my efforts, I'm actually really excited to shake up some things this year.  Started weird stuff last year and about to blow it up and flip things upside down and inside out -- flipped classroom and active learning, problem based units.  Responsibility is all on the kids to learn, I just act as, essentially, a GPS unit by giving them a final "destination" and guide them along the way with feedback and super creative activities, models, and real-life problems to solve.  Lecturing and then having students "practice" before they take a test is for suckers.  Done with that. Learn by doing, not by listening to an "expert". They don't need me to disseminate information.  Boring and NOT effective. Standard instruction makes me hate my job.  Although a lot more work than "normal teaching", this will definitely be more fun and more real. And I keeps sh*t real.....really real! 

Anyway, 4 straight weeks over 70 and I'm feeling good.  Wish I could just run my marathon next week.  Just have to be smart and keep plugging along until 6 October at Smuttynose.  I'm certainly trying to civilize my mind (always) and make savage my body. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

MMXIII - Week 33

MON.- 7mi. -- tired and felt a little beat up.  First time I've felt really run down all summer.  Day after 20 miler?

TUE.- 12mi.  -- 8mi. (a.m.) at CHS track solo.  4 x 1600. Tough to focus mentally on these.  Shot for around 5K pace, perhaps a tiny bit slower.  Ran it "blind" (no peeking at watch during any of the repeats).  5:39/5:29/5:31/5:26. /// 4mi. (p.m.) easier run just to earn a few brews.

WED.- 10mi.-- 3mi. (a.m.) rusty hinges/joints.  Shake it out, wimp. /// 7mi. (p.m.) - WTAC Fun Run.  Tried to pace Mason to a summer PR for 5K.  He blew up and fell apart.  It was pretty epic.  Wheezing, crying, walking, arguing.  Good times!

THU.- 7mi. -- felt pretty good on this one.  Scooted around back roads of A-town on a somewhat rolling course.

FRI.-15mi. -- MP work with Jonny on SK Bike Path.  Started at Kingston train station and after a warm up of 3.5 miles, ripped off 9 miles around 6:20-6:25ish pace.  Good run.  Nice to have company/a partner in Jonny to push me (carry me?) along. Turned out to be Hammett Day--husbands run, then wives run, then children on beach for birthday parties.  Good day.

SAT.-6mi. -- ran on some tired legs from home to parents for lobster and beer.  Worth it.

SUN.- 20mi. -- solo long run on a somewhat hilly course.  Ended up getting over 1,000' of elevation gain. Felt pretty good except for stupid deer flies on North Camp road down to Watchaug pond. Glad its done. Really, really, really considered running a 3 mile shakeout just to get to an honest 80 for the week.  Instead, the Bentley Clan went blue crabbing.  Dominating exoskeletons with your progeny is more important than chasing numbers.  It was fun and delicious over hoppy malts later on.

TOTAL: 77 miles

Rootin' tootin' alcohol fueled marathon training!!
--> Yeeeeeeehawww!  My highest weekly mileage total ever.  Despite some fatigue, I'm feeling pretty good. Last week of summer coming up (so friggin' sad) so not sure what I'll do next week.  Keep going because its my last shot at high mileage OR dial it back a little and have a cutback week?  Have to see how I feel. No matter what, I'm ultimately hoping that striper and flounder fishing can cut into my running a little bit over the next 7 days before I go back into "professional standardized test prep mode". And I promise that blue crab was 5" from spike to spike. Honestly, it was.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

MMXIII - Week 32 -- NH training (mostly)

MON.-10mi. -- first run in NH.  Rolled the "Round 'Round The Lake".  A lot of ups and downs wore me down but still ran it well.  Followed up with 18 holes at Eastman Links.  Unbelievably beautiful course.  Ended up with really tired legs after the round (and quite drunk) but with a 90 on the card.
Good for me!

TUE.- 12mi.  -- 8mi. (a.m.) exploring in and around Eastman // 4mi. (p.m.) - ran at cocktail hour for easy shakeout.  Better for me than drinking I suppose

WED.- 10mi. -- 7mi. (a.m.) Newport track.  "Tower of Twos". 2 x 200, 2 x 400, 2 x 800, 2 x 400, 2 x 200, 200 recs after 2s and 4s, 400 recs after each 800.  Track is in rough shape. Glad when it was over.  Legs felt tired. 39, 37/ 76, 75/ 2:40, 2:39/76,76/38,36 // 3mi (p.m.)- tired shakeout.  Legs felt rather fatigued.

THU.- 3mi. -- easy and flat "day off"

FRI.- 10mi. -- ran in the pouring rain.  Disappointed that I never managed to sneak away to "get high" at local mountains near where we were staying (here, here, or here), I tried to get to 1,000' elevation gain on my run.  Super fun and wet.  Alas, I apparently fell short (950').  Oh well.

SAT.-6mi. -- finally back in Rhody.  Ran to investigate an accident along Rte. 95.  Schadenfreude, considering I had just driven home the same route only an hour before.  Synchronicity.

SUN.- 20mi. -- solo Sunday wandering.  Mostly back country roads with some trails and ponds.  Nice weather (cool and dry) but legs just didn't have any MP effort in them for this one.  No water on the run sucked at the end/last 5 miles.

TOTALS: 71 miles

Where do I set my balls when I try and drive?
-->another good week -- two doubles, one track workout, and one long run with, technically, no days off.  Not sure if being away with the family made running easier or more difficult.  At least it allowed for the time to run then cross train by eating, drinking, and being merry. I still suck at swimming though.

 Feeling good and pretty confident after now bagging two good weeks in a row and, going back, three quality 20-21 milers.  I've felt pretty decent on all of them. Unfortunately, it feels like August is winding down.  School is waiting to steal my fun and inhibit some of my running.  Gotta make the most of it now.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

MMXIII - Week 31

MON.- 10mi. -- late start and pretty humid.  Rolled along Boombridge Road loop.  Major chafing and a lot of cows.

TUE.- 11mi. -- 8mi (a.m.) with Jonny @ CHS track. 6 x 800 (Yasso).  Goal was each 800 (in mins/secs) = marathon time (hours/mins).  2:47/2:48/2:47/2:42/2:47/2:46.  Good fun. // 3mi. (p.m.) sloth-like shakeout.  Felt terrible.

WED.-12mi. -- 6mi. (a.m.) // 6mi. (p.m.) WTAC Fun Run.  Ran the 5K course 6:25/6:17/6:09.  Just got a little wrapped up in the moment. Some tired-ass legs during cool down.

THU.- 5mi. -- "degression run".  Started slow. Then just got slower and slower.  Actually felt ok.

FRI.- 7mi. -- solid run, low 7:00 pace.

SAT.- 21mi. -- solo long run from parents' house through Richmond, Shannock.  Included some trails in Carter Preserve.  A Galoob sighting (bike of course) and Jonny's car (at Carter).  Feelin' gooooood!!

SUN.- 8mi. -- pre-race reconnaissance with KG before Run4Kerri.  Pleasant run with conversation.  Felt good.  Then even rode a bike (?) for 4 miles around the race taking pics and short video for Level Renner. 

Total:74 miles

-->a good week with some quality runs. A weekly mileage total all time high for me.  Trying to be careful and balance everything--some harder runs, some longerish ones, and some short very easy recovery runs too (e.g. Thursday).  So far so good.  However, this week, due to some weekend events, I had to run long on Saturday morning instead of Sunday.  As a result, I couldn't get in my extended MP run on Friday.  Had to just sneak in three miles towards the end of the long run at MP. It was fun today actually watching my teammates and a lot of really fast runners suffer while just pedaling along on a bike.  Kudos to all who ran the super popular race
Also, a couple of days ago on there was an interesting article (here) about how the long run is overrated.  Essentially, and I'm totally paraphrasing here, 20 milers are unnecessary.  Instead, the author (and almost everyone commenting on the post on Facebook), feel that it is better to run 13-15 hard instead of longer runs at a slower pace and you'll succeed at the marathon.  Although I totally agree with the faster and harder effort mindset, (I need more harder, MP work!), I still have some serious doubts about this philosophy as a whole.  I feel that there is probably a  small minority of people that can get away with running a good marathon time (sub 3:00) by only running 13-15 miles as long runs.  Is it doable?  Of course it is, but it is really hard to substitute time on feet.  Plus, long runs are "fun" (did I really just type that?).  I get the idea of shortening long runs allows for more tempo/threshold work during the week and overall more quality training (outside of the long weekend grinder).  I just question if I personally would be able to get by on not running longer than 2 hours.  When the shit show at mile 22 or 23 on race days occurs, and oh it will occur, I'd certainly feel more confident having some long runs under my belt (feet) and in my quads.

However, I may try a slight alteration in my training.  I'm going to try and log miles and do high mileage long runs (18-22) for the rest of the summer and then perhaps use September (back at school and greatly reduced time for training) to "sharpen my sword".  Maybe in early September I'll bang out those hard 13-15 mile efforts with most of it @ MP then.  Maybe so, maybe not. I really don't know what the hell I'm doing, but I'm having fun. We'll see how it all plays out. At any rate, it's going to be suffer-filled excitement on race day no matter what.

"He wasn't scared of the Shogun marathon, but the Shogun marathon was scared of him."

 Sharpen those swords, kiddies!

Monday, July 29, 2013

MXIII - Week 30

MON.- 3mi. -- easy run.  tired legs.

TUE.- 10mi. -- good run down/around from the yacht club down around through Watch Hill.  Sounds like I have cash money but I don't. 

WED.- 10mi. -- 5mi. (a.m.)  //  6mi. (p.m.) normal base pace at WTAC Fun Run.

THU.- 3mi.-- another short easy one before race tomorrow.  Gap in time between this short shakeout and Blessing is almost like having a day off!

FRI.- 13mi. -- *Race* -- Blessing of the Fleet 10 Miler.  Good one.  Attacked it but ran smart at the same time. So fun passing younger, more fit people in later stages/miles of the race. 58:42, 23rd OA.  3rd in my age group. I wonder what my prize was....

SAT.- 5mi. -- recovery run.  First 2 miles really easy with Mason, discussing race strategy.

SUN.- 7+mi.--from parents in/around Caroline Mgmt. Area.  Head gear kept flies at bay.

TOTALS: 52+miles

--> a little bit of a cut back in mileage but good race Friday night.  I was super pleased.  It was really "fun" racing in a small pack of 4-6 younger kids (and super fit 1st OA Female!).  Happy with my results and was able to crank it the last 1.5 mile.  Rounded out the week yesterday by absolutely annihilating doormats with Mason out off of East Matunuck in about 35' of water.  Like shooting fish in a barrel, except instead we were just crossing their eyes and then filleting them.  The biggest fluke of the year but we decided that we want a 10lber before the summer is out. FYI: the RI state record is 17 lbs. 8 oz. (WHAT?!?!) caught in 1962 in/off the Narrow River! Can't imagine that PR but we are planning out a fall/early spring shot at the Atlantic Mackerel slot (it is currently open/no record).

26.5", 7.4 lbs......."It's like an optical illusion, except it's real life, Dad!"

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Hurry Up And Wait, Data Whore!

Tomorrow night is the pinnacle of local racing in the summer around southern RI, the Blessing of the Fleet 10 Mile Road Race. Just like it has for many summers in the past, it presents itself as a good midway test of fitness. Also, its unique start time (last Friday night in July at 1800hrs) and sizeable field give it a half-marathon feel for half the price of a usual half marathon ($30)! Between the heat, humidity, drunken fools, and screaming masses of bystanders, who wouldn't want to run this sufferfest?

Unfortunately, given these circumstances I usually spend the 2-3 days leading up to the race a fretting, pacing, nervous mess.  OK, maybe it's not that bad but as my family can attest I do indeed become restless, grouchy and irritable--essentially I'm a napping, useless waste of space until Friday night around 2000hrs when I'm showered, chafed and with a quality IPA in my hand! Despite the fact that there is nothing I can do at this point in terms of training, fitness, weather, etc, I must sit by idly and think through race strategy, problems, etc.  Essentially, "hurry up and wait" for the race to get here.

Last night at the WTAC Fun Run, I ran the 5K course and chatted with J.P. Bigouette about the impending Blessing.  In passing, he mentioned some results from years past and, upon thinking (fretting?) about the race, I spent some time today looked back at previous results.  Unfortunately, I could only find results back to 1996 but it was kind of fun digging up numbers and names.  With that in mind, here's some basic info that I found in terms of winners, their times, and (given my goal) the number of finishers under 60 minutes.  NOTE: weather/race conditions are not included here but given the data, you can probably guess the years that were brutal vs those that had better climate.

1996: Norm Bouthillier  -- 54:04 (5:24) -- 34 finishers under 60 mins.
1997: Alem Kamsay --51:40 (5:10) -- 50 finishers under 60 mins.
1998: Glenn Guillemette -- 52:38 (5:16) -- 30 finishers under 60 mins.
1999: Glenn Guillemette -- 52:19 (5:14) -- 23 finishers under 60 mins.
2000: Roland Lavelle -- 51:29 (5:09) -- 34 finishers under 60 mins.
2001: Gideon Mutisya -- 50:40 (5:04) -- 42 finishers under 60 mins.
2002: Gideon Mutisya -- 50:02 (5:00) -- 34 finishers under 60 mins.
2003: Matt Pelletier -- 53:18 (5:20) -- 26 finishers under 60 mins.
2004: John Metzer -- 52:30 (5:15) -- 24 finishers under 60 mins.
2005: Roland Lavelle -- 49:44 (4:58) -- 31finishers under 60 mins.
2006: Casey Moulton -- 51:56 (5:12) -- 22 finishers under 60 mins.
2007: Matt Pelletier -- 51:02 (5:06) -- 22 finishers under 60 mins.
2008: Matt Pelletier -- 51:52 (5:11) -- 29 finishers under 60 mins.
2009: Hayden McLaren -- 52:41 (5:16) -- 36 finishers under 60 mins.
2010: Tom Webb -- 52:11 (5:12) -- 35 finishers under 60 mins.
2011: Craig MacPherson -- 52:08 (5:13) -- 34 finishers under 60 mins.
2012: Matt Pelletier -- 50:46 (5:05) -- 23 finishers under 60 mins.

As you can see, some pretty fast shenanigans going on during this time period. I also looked back and brought up my own results.  Yours truly began running it in 2004.  My (pathetic) numbers are below along with placing and size of field/finishers:

2004: 1:16:05 (7:36) 332nd/2088
2005: 1:08:44 (6:52) 181st/2141
2006: *did not run*
2007: 1:09:56 (7:00) 139th/2412
2008: 1:08:13 (6:49) 134th/2294
2009: 1:08:15 (6:50) 145th/2752
2010: 1:06:13 (6:37) 92nd/2700
2011: 1:01:46 (6:11) 41st/2638
2012: 59:35 (5:58) 19th/2642

It's fun to see how I've improved and also to compare results along with those of others, in order to try and gauge (remember) how shitty the weather was on any given year.

A few other interesting things I found that might tickle your fancy along with some serious questions I have as well:

* In both '98 and '99 when Glenn Guillemette won it, some guy named Scott Mason finished 2nd in 52:56 both years!

*Only one runner (since 1996) has broken 50 minutes.  Looking at the weather for tomorrow night, I'm willing to wager that Matty P. might do it this year!

*If ANYONE knows where/how I can obtain all previous years' results (1995 and before), please let me know by commenting below.  I'd love to have data from every year and put it in a spreadsheet. Sorry, but I've an addiction to data, stats, etc. Don't all runners?

*Obviously, this depends upon the above statement BUT:
-has the course always been exactly the same every year?
-who holds the course record?
-who has won it the most times?
-what is the slowest winning time on record?
-what's the largest field/number of entrants?

Hope to see you there tomorrow night!!I'll be the egg-headed, purple-faced sweat hog, hopefully crossing the line in 59:34 (or faster)!

On your mark....Set....Don't Die!!!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

MXIII - Week 29

M-0- travel back from Maryland debauchery.  Too hot and lazy when got home. Poor start to the week.

T-10mi. -- 5 (am)/ 5 (pm) for Nick Bottone Track Mile.  Disappointed by 5:01 time again but know I can run under that in cooler conditions.

W-12mi. -- 6(am)/ 6(pm) WTAC Fun Run.  Felt tired so ran at normal low 7:00s pace.

T-8mi. -- sort of tired and miserable in the heat and humidity.  Such a trade off: run in the morning and it's not as hot but humidity is 85-90%, wait until humidity drops (slightly) and the temps are too high. Ugh!

F-8mi.--harderish ladder effort. 1min, 2 min, 3min, 2 min, 1 min, 2 min, 3 min (with equal time recoveries) all at 5K-10K pace.  Tough in the conditions.  Nice dip in the ol' Swimmin' Hole afterwards.  Nice rope swing back flips.

Hillbilly heaven....especially post run.

S-5mi.--slower and easier.  Still sweat my ass off though.

S-21mi.-- good long run with Gazelle from Weekapaug, through Bradford w/ some trails and flies, into Charlestown glacial moraine/hills, back out to the beach.  We threw down MP (faster?) effort for miles 17, 18, and 19 (6:08/6:23/6:09).  Good practice on tired legs.  Big waves in the post-run dip. Solid 7:15 pace overall. Gazelle is a beast!

TOTAL:64 miles
-->salvaged a good week despite starting with a Phish and travel hangover.  Next week will drop back down a little bit due to the Blessing of the Fleet 10 Mile shit show.  How can I be looking forward to it and dreading it at the same time?  Still a ways out but the weather forecast looks miserable for it (82 degrees, high humidity at race start time). Yippie-ki-yay, MFer!!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Nick Bottone Track Mile

Yesterday was yet again another sweltering July evening and also the annual opportunity to try cracking 5:00 minutes for the dreaded mile.  It's nice that it is on the local high school track.  As boring as it is to run ovals, pacing is much easier.  Unfortunately, the time trial also happens to fall during what is usually the hottest, muggiest stretch of the year--definitely not conducive to a PR mile.
Last year I ran a 5:01 (with more quality miles and varied speed workouts in my legs) so this year, I was really, really doubtful of my ability to run a 4:59 or better. 

I arrived early with my son and helped the Walkers set up registration and I also rigged up a sprinkler by the main gate for kids and racers to soak themselves and rinse off/cool down after racing.  After standing around for a while (sweating) and chatting with fellow WTACers I ran a broken up, short warm up.  It was really fun to run clockwise in the outside lanes and cheer on my 10 year old. Having run about a dozen 5Ks in his life, he was really nervous about a track mile.  I told him to simply run uncomfortably and consistently and, since he lacked a watch, to check that clock as he rounded turn four and ran the front stretch.  Each lap should be about/just under 2:00.  His first quarter he was a little hot out of the gate (1:43) and then slowed down there.  It was really awesome to watch him struggling but running alongside him on the infield grass on the final 100m.  The clock was ticking away but he managed to kick it in to finish 7:56.  Not sure which of us was more pleased.

There was a Masters division heat after that which allowed for another short lap or two with several striders before I lined up, with apprehension with the rest of the fast runners in the final heat.  There were several former and current WHS All-State standouts plus several other really fast guys.  I knew I stood zero chance sticking with them but was fine with that.  This really isn't/wasn't a race against others, it is completely just a "race" against yourself and the clock as well as a test of your ability to run consistently and kick at the end. 

At the gun I went out and tried to focus on form and be smooth.  The WHS track coach was there along the infield and as we hit 100m mark, I heard him counting out to his runners: "18, 19, 20".  Damn! 20 seconds for 100m.  That's way too slow!  Had to pick it up but I was then able to settle into a groove.  My first 400m split was 73--perfect for what I was looking for. 

The second quarter I started to feel it--that awesome heavy, burning feeling.  What a bitch!  I ran a 75 for that one but was worried about the infamous third lap.  For some reason this is the toughest for me.  It is so difficult to keep on pace and not fall apart.  I know it is counterintuitive but the 3rd lap is almost tougher than the 4th somehow.  By the final 400m you're just a struggling big hot mess but you know it's almost over and can muster up a final push.  However, from 801-1200m it just seems really, really daunting and unsustainable.  As such, I was so concerned with my impending implosion and meltdown that I missed my 3rd quarter split.  Per usual, it must have been slower given my effort for the final 400.

On the last lap, the four semi-elites ahead of me had really pulled away and I was left alone (although not really because Jonny was right on my tail). Turn four is such a dream crusher.  Seeing the clock and feeling the way I did made it pointless to try and do any complex running math.  Instead, I just tried to stay upright, smooth (no chance) and push it in. I knew it was going to be really, really close again--just like last year.

Unfortunately, with just under 10 meters to go I watched the clock tick over into the 5:00s and knew I had lost my chance again.  On my watch I was a 5:01 (official results have yet to be posted).  However, I was actually more disappointed last year with the same time than I was this year.  In all reality, I think I'm slightly less fit at this stage of the game than I was in 2012 for this one. 

Jonny came in virtually right with me and after trying not to die while walking around, we commiserated on the "poor races" we just ran.  However, this is not at all realistic and we were both just self deprecating ding-dongs. Even though I lack turnover and speed, I know July makes it tough.  In an atmosphere that is NOT 88 degrees and over 80% humidity, the two of us are both definitely under 5:00.  I'm probably around a 4:55-4:56 I think. I'd put money on it!

At any rate, it was still fun and I'm super pumped about both Mason's first ever timed mile and sub 8:00 finish, as well as my ability to at least tie my PR in terrible conditions. Ryan W. (the new WTAC member from New Zealand) won it in 4:35 and seemed to not really struggle.  It was really cool to have many other WTACers in both the final heat with me as well as in other slower heats as well.  Those that suffer and smile together are ultimately successful together.

Mason: "That was the hardest mile of my life, Dad!"

All I really wanna know is, who is up for a mile time trial in October?  I'll supply a watch and some water, all you have to do is show up.