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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Run With The Beavers 10 Mile Trail Race - Sat. July 23 2016

I guess I owe it to my blog to, well.....actually blog about stuff.

Although I almost never race, as nearly everyone I know needles me about, it is long past time to write a (few) race recaps.  In July I had the opportunity to partake in two sweaty, sufferfest races: on Saturday, July 23rd was Run With The Beavers 10 Mile Trail Race and then on Friday, July 29 was the Blessing of the Fleet 10 Mile Road Race.  Since I'm starving in the race report department I've decided I guess I need to write up one or both at some point.

NOTE: the photo below is courtesy of Scott Mason Photography.  The guy does incredible stuff -- despite me being the most non-photogenic person on the planet! Seriously though, please consider supporting him by purchasing some of his photos of your next race.  Pure magic!!

The mixed course of open dirt roads, technical single track, and hybrid in between stuff is great fun. However, I always hate the double loop aspect. It's akin to say, trying liver, hating it, but knowing you have to go back and try it again no matter what. The layout was a tad bit different this year as race director, Bob Jackman added a small variation (I liked it better) that took us over a few small board bridges and around to the water stop.  It lengthened the course a bit although I'm not sure by how much.  Other than this small change, the race was just as it always has been: humid, hot, buggy, sweaty, and a bitch!

I drove up with Jonny and J. Short to a land far, far away called Chepachet. I'm pretty sure this native American word means, loosely translated, "friggin' far from everything".  We arrived, immediately took care of bathroom obligations, and then ran a warm up on part of the wooded course with the Walkers and swarms of deer flies.

At the start line, I plopped myself in the front near the usual suspects (Jonny, Steve Brightman, etc.).  A glance around revealed a few unknowns and some runners I was surprised to see (i.e. Mike Narcissi) who looked fast and fit.  I quickly guessed/estimated three things: 1.) if these guys were entered in the 10 miler versus the 5 miler, they were probably going to beat me. 2.) I was going to have to push it in the beginning to be in a good position once we entered the single track. 3.) I was possibly going to finish anywhere from fifth to tenth, based upon how the first two things went.

After detailed pre-race instructions, we were off up the short incline gravel road towards the single track.  I kept the pace honest but yet tried not to overdue it.  Perhaps I should've gone out a little bit harder as I was in about tenth place entering the woods.  Immediately, I became annoyed (like always) as it is so difficult to see the upcoming terrain and footing on the narrow single track.  All I could see was the back and soles of the runner(s) ahead of me.  As a result I backed off just a tiny bit to give myself some breathing room.

I kept up a hard effort and passed a few people and within a mile or two could no longer hear the runners' breathing or footsteps behind me.  At the water stop (around the 2.5 mile mark) I was again annoyed when I didn't see anyone take water! Damn it, I needed to drink and pour some over my head!  I did so and didn't really lose time or my stride somehow.  Luckily people hadn't pulled away too far ahead of me.  I was probably in about seventh position at this point and could see Jonny and a bright singlet guy ahead of me but still too far up to reel them in.

The second half of the loop is more "fun" but there is a rough and tricky section along a rocky hill side (you run on an angled slope) and a short steep climb that really takes a lot out of you.  At this point I noticed that bright shirt guy had moved around Jonny and I was closer to him.  With about a half mile left in the loop I pulled along next to Jonny, grunted something negative about racing, and moved around him.  I was surprised that he didn't come with me but knew he was definitely right there--the only question was how far back was he?

My split at the half way mark, according to the clock was (I think) 35:50.  It took me a moment to realize that 1.) yes, that time was correct and not an illusion and 2.) the new alteration of the course added probably close to 2:00 per loop (?). I was feeling absolutely terrible here and entertained the notion of slowing down and "jogging" (hate that word) the second lap or, possibly even stopping and taking a DNF.  However, I made the turn across the original start line, looping back out onto the original gravel road and pushed onward. I could now see Matthew Walker far up ahead but it was encouraging to at least be able to make visual contact.  Although I had no expectations of catching and passing him it did at least help to give me something to focus on -- keeping him in sight.


The second loop was like the first -- sweating, thirsty, overheating, cramping and overall hating life.  The only difference between the two loops was that I was running nearly solo.  I couldn't hear nor see anyone behind me (nobody at any of the hairpin turns, of which there are several).  However, I did notice that Matthew was very, very slowly coming back to me.  After the water stop it looked like I was slowly gaining on him.  This encouraged me to push just a tiny bit harder but in all reality, the well was nearly dry.
All alone at the bridge...already dying. 
Along the hillside technical section I knew I was definitely closing.  I truly appreciated the walker/joggers doing the five miler pulling off to the side of the trail and allowing me to pass.  Although I probably sounded like a moaning zombie I did at least attempt to mutter "Thank you".

On the final double track/wagon road section, which is covered in pine needles and soft wood chips, I noticed was up to within maybe 2-4 seconds of Matthew.  I tried several times to push past him but realized my legs were trashed.  I had nothing left. To make matters worse, as we approached the final grass field and associated finish line, Matthew found another gear and pulled away from me.

I crossed the finish line and felt slightly better than I thought I would - 5th OA in 1:12:50. Race results here.  Perhaps this is due just being glad the race was over vs knowing I had another full loop to complete?  It is also interesting to note that my PR for the course (last year) was 1:08:03 so that new Jackman course alteration did indeed add time on to each loop.

WTAC won the team division and some sweet Foolproof beers .  No need for a cool down after the race.  I chugged copious amounts of water and then walked down to the pond for a super refreshing dip with Jonny, Seth, John Short, and Timothy McGuire (3rd OA).

Overall it was a good day but holy cow it sucked at that same time.

Little did I know, the following Friday night (at the Blessing of the Fleet) was going to be worse for me....much worse.

Stay tuned...



Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Count Your Blessings

So it is June now and there is certainly a shit ton of "stuff" going on.

 School is winding down and crazier than ever.  Big stripers are actively feeding along southern shores (get 'em now before it gets too warm and you have to wait for the fall blitzes).

This one had a 12" fluke in its stomach when I filleted it!
Perhaps most important- there are seven (7) more Fridays to go before the Friday night "Thrilla' In 'Gansett" (a.k.a. - Blessing of the Fleet 10 Mile Road Race) rolls around.

Last year I was sick and actually hospitalized overnight with pretty bad Lyme Disease (high fever, facial nerve paralysis, etc.).  As a result, I was released on Friday morning and had to miss last year's race.  My wife teased me and asked if I was considering running it despite still feeling dizzy, stiff, and super tired.  In between getting out of bed to take medication, I did shuffle around and continually look out the windows thinking to myself: "Joke's on you, woman -- the thought has crossed my mind at least ten different times throughout the day".

At any rate, it's tough to beat a fantastic (hot, humid, sweaty, near death-inducing?) race.  I cannot help but begin to think about and anticipate it (just registered yesterday).  The timing (Friday night), venue (seaside town of Narragansett), and atmosphere (half-marathon feel with over 2,000 runners) make this one special.  Plus, it is hard at times to get focused on training during the dog days of summer when it is so much easier to bang out a sloth-like four miler and lounge in air conditioning or at the beach for the rest of the day.

I've written about this before and, in fits of mounting anticipation and excitement, have gone back and looked up my previous times in other posts (like this one from 2013). However, I usually feel the need to do so annually.  This time I tried to include a bit more data. See below

BLESSING OF THE FLEET 10 MILE ROAD RACE – LIFE TIME RESULTS


YEAR
TIME
PLACE O/A
PACE
PLACE AGE GROUP
NOTES
2015
--
--
--
 --
- DNS. Hospitalized w/ Lyme disease

2014
58:48
22
5:52
6/312
(36yrs)
-          good chance at PRing. faded badly over final 2 miles
2013
58:42
23
5:52
3/295
(35yrs)
-          current PR for distance and CR

2012
59:35
19
5:57
5/322
(34yrs)
-          1st time under 60:00

2011
61:46
41
6:10
8/344
(33yrs)
-          first year I feel as though I really ran competitively/trained seriously for it
2010
66:13
92
6:37
22/?
(32yrs)
-          cracked top 100 for first time. Starting to take running seriously?
2009
68:15
145
6:50
27/?
(31yrs)
-slower than previous year? weather (or fat)?
2008
68:13
134
6:49
26/?
(30yrs)
-          first time racing as a 30yr old

2007
69:56
139
6:59
28/?
(29yrs)
            hot that year? can’t remember….
2006
--
--
--
--
- DNS. Mysterious “illness”/dizziness/fatigue. Later found as untreated hypertension UGH!!
2005
68:44
181
6:52
31/??
(27yrs)
            pretty proud of myself at the time for breaking 70 minutes (HA!)
2004
76:05
332
7:36
52/??
(26yrs)
          first time running the race. Was super pleased to break 80 mins. (my original goal--J)


I began dabbling with running in 2003 (just to tire out my stupid, in-bred, beast of a dog) and fell in love.  I was talked into trying to run (race?) it for the first time in 2004.  As you can see I sort of began getting serious about it in 2010 and continue to try not to let it consume my summer once school is out.  

Not sure how I'll do this year as I'm on borrowed time, so to speak (turning 39 in October).  But I do know it'll be fun to let 'er rip, begin bonking, want to quit, experience hallucinations near the finish line ("I thought that f*%#ing thing was closer!"), and then bask in the sweaty, stinky afterglow with a double IPA or four when I'm done. 

See you guys in 'Gansett.


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Running Phrases I Hate

I'm not one for euphemisms or cliches. They really annoy me and are generally overused.  However, they are even less enjoyable when they are centered around running.

In my recent block of "training"(flab doubling, alcohol poisoning and general sloth malaise), I've had time to ponder these and reflect upon how much I truly cannot stand them. Don't be annoyed by my pettiness and my complaining.  Don't read it if you don't like it.

"The hay is in the barn."

The Intent:
Friends and training partners mean well and imply that you've done all of the hard work in training, everything is stored up and ready to go.  The fitness is there. Just run the race and be a champion.

Real Life:
Come on, man! As a child into my late teenage years, I often had to help out on/around a small family farm.  Every June, as things get hot and humid, hay fields made life miserable.  Indeed it is hard work and torture.  Once the hay is loaded from the baler, onto the truck and (finally!) into the barn, the hard part seems like it is over.  But really, that is a lie.  Anyone that has ever had to climb up into a brutally hot and dusty hay loft in the summer and schlep down 70 lb bales of itchy hay knows that the above statement is sh*t! The hay may be in the barn but you still have to climb around and work your tail off getting it back out and where it needs to be.  In other words, yes, the training was difficult.  However, you still have to push yourself to the absolute limit and red-line in a race.  Racing hurts the most.  Please don't imply that it is easy and all the hard work is over. The statement is silly and I hate it.


".....(blah, blah, blah)....steel cut oats...."

The Intent:
I'm a disgusting pig usually when it comes to eating.  I eat healthy but I also eat unhealthy foods...A LOT. Although the above isn't a full statement, it is usually part of a written or spoken statement such as "Oh I love having a post-run recovery meal of steel cut oats and...(some other uncommon food)".

Real Life:
Seriously?! All that steel cut oats are is slightly less "crushed" grain product.  Steel cut have just not been rolled out flat, like most oats we eat.  In fact, I've done some research. They have a very "toothy" uncooked rice-like texture.  They take longer to cook.  And they offer ZERO additional further nutritional value.  Hmmmmm, just seems like a pretentious thing to me.  I would apologize if you eat them all of the time but I'm not going to because I don't see why you do go out of your way to eat them. Same taste. Tougher to cook and tougher to eat/chew. Same FDA value.  Sorry, but this is just silly and I hate it.


"Run like you stole something."

The Intent:
Positive people/race watchers who are trying to simply encourage you to run faster and harder.  These are almost always found on  homemade roadside signs at races. The longer the race, the greater the number of signs.

Real Life:
This annoys me on two fronts: 1.) this is not good advice if you're heavy and slow. Or if you're a minority in an inner city. Or if you are generally speaking, recently out on parole   2.) Why would anyone that stole something keep running in the middle of a road, in front of hundreds to thousands of eye witnesses? I'm being a bit of a baby here but most signs, especially at the marathon distance, do not encourage me at all.  They usually make me dislike the people that are not running.  There they are just relaxing, drinking beers, laughing, hanging out on the side of the road. Enjoying themselves.  Not suffering.  Man, I hate those do gooders and supportive, nice well-wishers. *To clarify, I don't hate them.  I really appreciate them and their supportive enthusiasm.  It's during a near death race experience that I hate them and everyone else on the planet.  Please make a better sign though.


"I really regret that workout said no one....ever."

The Intent:
I actually wholeheartedly agree with the premise of this one. We've all had those days where we just don't feel like running. But once you lace them up and get out the door, you never regret running. You feel better, at least mentally, afterward.

Real Life:
This is only slightly annoying because, although it holds a great amount of truth, I've heard people regret workouts.  I've even regretted a few.  How about that one where you aren't properly warmed up and pull a muscle? Or those trail tempo intervals where you were running your balls off and wiped out and tore something, strained something, or ripped something open? The famous (deceased) running author Jim Fixx, might have something to say about this too. Bottom line, although I'm conflicted here due to the "truthiness" of the statement, it still annoys me due to its lack of specificity. On a side note, if I actually believed in a God or heaven and hell, I wonder if I'd be dead now for the Jim Fixx mention. Maybe that is how I'm going to go out in a few years....  Running along, feeling good -- BANG! Dead. Heart exploded.

God: "Shouldn't have made those Jim Fixx jokes, Muddy. I had to go back and change my divine plan that I already had laid out ahead of time and kill you at 52 years old. I forgive you and love you. Just had to kill you because, well, you know.  I'm God."


"Pain is weakness leaving the body."

The Intent:
As a competitive athlete, it's implied that you're supposed to train so hard that it hurts.  This shows signs of true effort which will yield benefits, fitness, and make you a champion someday.  This is akin to the older but nearly as ubiquitous, "No pain. No gain."

Real Life:
The only thing wrong with this one is that it is just plain wrong.  And it is stupid.  Pain is a sign  that you're hurt.  Your body is telling you: "Hey asshole! This is not a good idea.  you've done something incorrectly and now there is inflammation, swelling, torn fibers, fractures, etc. Stop it! Don't be stupid!" Listen to your body, not the corny people who say it. There's a difference between severe discomfort/pushing yourself to the limit and actual pain. I've tried to do things incorrectly or at incorrect times (i.e. workout too soon after a previous hard workout or race) and do you know what it got me? Injured! Pain is intelligence leaving the body.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Catching Up -- Rambling Musings, Admissions, and Some Pictures

I'm a slacker.

While  all  most of my running brethren have been updating their blogs religiously with weekly training, pictures, beer EVERYWHERE, and summaries of their racing triumphs, I've been over here just doing.....things?

I believe I have run four races now without a race recap (Resolution Beach & Trail 5K, Belleville Trail 10K, Oceans Run 1/2/ (13.4 miles) Marathon, and Boston).  Honestly, I doubt I'll ever write recaps on them at this point. I just lack the time, focus, will power and overall enthusiasm to bore everyone with the now old and defunct details.  Instead, I thought it would be better to post what has been going on in my mind as well as on my feet since my last post (two weeks prior to Boston--it's been awhile).

So, with apologies on format, flow, continuity, or lack of logic and reason, here is my free form/free-write literary mental deluge.....

Boston Marathon
It went well I guess. Although I ran 3:00-4:00 minutes slower than I wanted to/than what I know I was capable of, I still ran well. I forced myself to run the first 6.2 miles at a pretty conservative pace (6:30ish) then went to work.  Unfortunately, it was warmer than most wanted (60-65 degrees) and a substantial headwind from the ENE.  This caused nearly everyone I know to struggle.  In fact, I managed to be several acquaintances that are much faster than I am.  They really blew up.  So overall, no PR.  I felt much worse this year for the final 5-6 miles than I did last year.  But, I didn't die and I was second Rhode Islander overall (behind the newly engaged Bronson Venable)

Post marathon
I took the first day off after the marathon and just walked/hiked.  I then got back into slow and easy, short recoveries.  However, I felt really beat up and had a harder time bouncing back this year compared with my recovery in 2015.  A quick overview:

Week 1 - post race:  46 miles
 (marathon included)

Week 2 - post race:11 miles (yikes!)

Week 3 - post race: 38 miles (no running on the weekend!)

Week 4 - post race: 43 miles (again, no running Sat. or Sun.!)

Yeah. So those numbers are breath-taking aren't they?

Still feel like I'm trying to claw my way back.  I even did a light track workout last week!  Maybe underneath the hydrolyzed alcohol in my system and the accumulating adipose, there is still a glimmer of fitness? I'm just so disgusted with myself right now that I had an internal mental breakdown this weekend.  I NEED to start making better choices and taking running more seriously.  I had a month "off".  Time to get back to what I enjoy, and need, once again.   Hope it happens.

Life
But why haven't I been running you ask.  Well, marathon training burns me out a bit.  I love it but it does wear on you.  That coupled with the fact that life gets in the way and I have a recipe for disappointment and corpulence.  I swear that every single year, the months of May and June are difficult for me.  I have so many things I want to be doing that running takes a backseat.  This year is no different and then some.  My wife is in school full time so I've become a single parent of sorts.  I can't believe I'm keeping my shit together (am I?) and holding down the fort.  The frayed ends of sanity, hear them calling me.

So the running has been way down, but so has nearly everything else.  School is a beast and totally overwhelming, but I get paid for that so I'll can't bitch about that (too much). I really haven't been fishing.  Boat has only been taken out twice.  Gardening has been somewhat haphazard. And the icing on the cake has been typical mechanical/infrastructure/life issues that we all endure (see pics below).

I have a million more excuses if you want them.

Anyhow, hopefully I can stick to my End of Spring Resolutions.  Most people make them in January. That's dumb.  I prefer to make them when everything falls apart in May and June near the midpoint of the year.

Goals:
1. Without specific race training (do I even run races?), I'd like to get back to consistent 50-60 miles per week, maintenance fitness mode, with two harder runs/workouts per week.

2. Find some money and rebuild the upstairs bathroom that needs to be completely gutted. At least there's a shittah' and a showah' in the downstairs bathroom.

3. Tone down the chicken enthusiasm and focus on other things.  Seriously.  It's like I'm somewhere on the spectrum of autism when it comes to chickens, breeds, feathering, behaviors, etc.  Stop it, Muddy! But if any of you wish to talk chicken, I'm available.

4. Spend more time with my kids. That is, above and beyond the typical parental,scheduled time (feeding, practice, cleaning up, yelling, etc.)

5. Stop whining and start laughing more.

6. Update this damn blog again (at least weekly would be nice).  It's become embarrassing.

Enjoy the random pictures as I free up space on my phone. I'm usually too lazy to put them on my blog.

So it starts with a leak in upstairs shower down into girls' bedroom....

Hate this 1980 bathroom. Rip out stupid whirlpool tub to get at leak....

Might as well rip up the rest of the flooring and ugly shower  tiles too...

Looks wet/soft along that edge.  What's behind that sheet rock?

Awesome. Mold, mildew and water damage. The hits keep coming. 

At least there are chickens to soothe the pain....

I wish I was half as handsome as this guy. The feathering is called Crele.
If I lived alone, I'd have dozens upon dozens of Gallus domesticus.

The biology never stops! Eastern Gray Tree Frog in my front yard. 


Still finding time to cut down oak trees. The kids were
NOT in the tree top prior to felling.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Taper Begins: 4/4/16 - 4/10/16

Mon. (4/4):
4mi. (p.m.)- just not feeling it. It was tough getting out the door for even an easy half hour of  cold, February-like conditions.  The freezing rain and sleet hurt my face.  It was also discouraging to run in tights again for the first time in quite awhile.  Hopefully this is the last time in bologna squeezing tights until next January or so.

Tue. (4/5):
5mi. (p.m.) - still pretty blah for this one too.  It's funny how a short easy 5 miler at this point can still leave me feeling crappy.  Legs just didn't really have much juice and I struggled to maintain normal 7:15ish pace.

Wed. (4/6):
11mi. (p.m.) - skipped the early morning, dark workout and did it in the afternoon.  3E+1T+2M+1T+2M+2E. Unfortunately, the route I planned out had the first chunk of the "work" section into a vicious SSE headwind (about 15-25mph).  It was awful.  I had to work way too hard for the first 1T and that put me into a hole that I had a hard time recovering from. Although the splits don't show it (thanks to the wind-aided return for the latter portion), I had a tough time with this one. My digits: 5:51/6:10/6:03/5;49/6:06/6:16. (a bit too spicy for the MP stuff but the second, third, and fourth miles of the M work was with a slight to significant tailwind so it was probably spot on).  The 2E cool down/return home was not nice.

Thu. (4/7):
5mi. (p.m.)- an easy sort of recovery day.  It was a monsoon at times during the day and everything was quite flooded. I opted to run mostly private horse trails across the street and some of Pelloni Preserve trails down the road.  It was super fun! Many of the trails were completed flooded with "roaring" brooks and I was knee deep in some places.  At one point I bushwhacked through a wooded section with no trail to bypass the horse farm and jumped over a stonewall into rusty barbed-wire tangles.  I cut my legs up nicely.  Not sure when I had my last tetanus shot. But despite this and freezing numb feet, I had a lot of fun -- easily the most I've had in several months

Fri. (4/8):
6mi. (p.m.) - felt gross with a headache and stomach issues. Still, I was able to roll off a short but good one despite feeling crappy (non-running related crappy).  From Shannock around local areas.  Even got to sneak off into some single track into the Great Swamp Mgmt. Area that abuts Rte. 2 (didn't even know you could do that).  But this was short lived as it got pretty flooded. It'll be fun to go back at some point and venture farther. Back to The Clubhouse for some more (brief) Friday night Shannockian Meeting of the Minds.

Sat. (4/9):
14mi. (a.m.) - last workout(ish) really before the race.  Ran 2E then 7 at MP effort through some rolling North Stonington farmlands.  Fun but I had to work pretty hard to keep my pace on several of the climbs but a few of the M miles were very spicy (too fast).   4E return back home.  A "short" long run. Felt pretty decent and pleased with overall easy pace too.

Sun. (4/10):
5mi. (a.m.) - I had plans to run in Grills Preserve after running errands in town.  However, I inadvertently locked my keys in my truck while going into a store.  I called my wife to run me the spare but killed time by simply running around the airport and into Champlin trails for a bit.

TOTAL: 50 miles
YTD: 1,018 miles

Notables:

*over 1,000 miles on the year -- for whatever that's worth.

*here we go -- 7 more days and it is game on. Weather, at this point, looks decent although a bit warm (low 60s) on Monday. Oh well, I'm racing myself, not the weather gods.

* feeling fit but also gross at the same time.  I'm pretty sure my eating and drinking (alcohol) habits are hurting my overall well being but it's too late to worry about that now.  Just rest up, clean up, and rev up for the race.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Last "Full Week" - 3/28/16 - 4/3/16

Mon. (3/28):
7+mi. -(p.m.) -  a little bit fatigued and just wasn't feeling it for this one.  Highlight: in the final half mile I had the shit scared out of me by a black, pot bellied pig rooting around in the leaves along the road next to a stone wall.  He (she?) had escaped from a neighbor's home.

Tue. (3/29):
7mi. - (p.m.) -felt even worse today for this one.  My legs were sore and I just felt really flat.  Presumably left over fatigue from the race and miles on Saturday.  However, when I got home I realized that although I felt like I was running an easy pace (7:30-7:40) I was actually cruising along at very low 7:00s.  This was encouraging. No wonder why I felt crappy.

Wed. (3/30):
11mi. - (a.m.) - WHS track in the dark. Wasn't sure how I would fair given the previous two days of running.  I swapped the 4 x 2T for a much simpler and easier 3T, 2T, 1T.  It went well and I managed/handled it just fine (I should be able to at this point!).

5mi. (p.m.) - easy trail mix recovery on horse trails across the street and some Pelloni Preserve.  Tired but good.

Thu. (3/31):
8+mi. (p.m.) - standard loop down into lower Ashaway where, at Potter Hill Dam,  I noticed HUGE numbers of cormorants, gulls, and two osprey.  This is the late March harbinger that I'm always excited to see -- the return of the river herring.  In an eerie coincidence, a friend shared this video with me of river herring further downstream in the Pawcatuck River from 5 days earlier. The title says it is from Potter Hill Dam but it is actually from White Rock in Westerly (a tiny bit further downriver).  Pretty good stuff. It excites the nature nerd in me.

Fri. (4/1):
6mi. (p.m.) - easy stroll around Carter Preserve.  Just trying to get my legs back as they still continue to feel tired and mildly sore.  Saw two American Kestrels in the open field area.  Followed up by a visit to The Clubhouse in Shannock for Friday evening revelry.

Sat. (4/2):
18mi. (a.m.) - awesome long run/workout with Jonny.  We timed it perfectly to start (0630) just as the rains ended and our run finished up (0830) just as the rains began again.  We ran 3E+13E+2E.  It was pretty manageable as we did "the work" on gently rolling terrain around Shannock roads.  This was a huge confidence booster and alleviated the typical approaching marathon fears. 

Sun. (4/3):
11+mi. (p.m.) - I parked at the Grills Preserve along 91 in Hopkinton for wandering, zero destination route around roads in Burdickville and some trails in Burlingame.  Unfortunately, I was bitten by a black lab in Burlingame on the North/South Trail.  Apparently I "scared" the dog because I was running.  In the usual pack of dogs (three of them) attack -- they ran up at me but instead of stopping one jumped up and bit my arm.  Out of habit, I swore loudly (at the dog? at the owners?) and we then engaged in an interesting, albeit brief discussion covering: vaccinations, the size of the bite ("just a nip"), and the fact that I "scared them because I was running in the woods".  I did concede that I must have scared them so much that they broke the (nonexistent) leashes!  I was furious!  Continued the run the rest of the way out to Buckeye Brook Road before circling back through Bradford.

TOTAL: 73 miles
YTD: 968 miles

Notables:
* good workout on Saturday (thanks, Jonny!).  I'm ready!

* tapering now commences.  Probably still do two "easy" workouts this week and total about mid 50s for mileage and then the real suicide watch begins the week after with almost nothing but short, easy 20-40 minute runs (and a light mid week MP workout of sorts).

*still not sure how to go out at Boston in a few weeks: try to just break last year (2:56:57)? try to go under 2:45? try to go under 2:44? or try to really get after and run under 2:44 (2:43 or high 2:42?).  ???????

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The REAL Walking Dead Week: 3/21/16 - 3/27/16


Feel the burn......
Mon. (3/21):
10mi. (a.m.) - stupid snow day from school (UGH-now we go through until Monday, 6/20!).  At least I got to do an easy CnB loop into North Stonington (for Jonny).  Felt good and thought/felt as though I was running much easier and slower than I was.

Tue. (3/22):
8mi. (p.m.) - blustery mixer through both local Hopkinton Land Trust properties.  Love mixing roads and trails.  One of the big perks of being done with Boston will be the ability to lollygag on trails in the warming, soon-to-be leafing woods.

Wed. (3/23):
11mi. (a.m.) - I was totally brain dead for this workout.  Original plan (do I type this every single week?) was 3x1T, 3x1K, 4x400.  For some reason, after a two mile warm up, I only did TWO of the 1Ts-not sure why, perhaps because I was annoyed at running them too fast (5:34/5:42, more like 10K pace). I thought they felt harder than they should have.  After the obligatory PM wrestling match, I "forgot" to do the 3rd 1T and jumped into a way too spicy 3 x 1K.  These typically should be about 3:20-3:21 in duration but my first one (felt hard!) was 3:13....oops.  Then on the second 1K I fell asleep and accidentally ran an extra 100m for an unorthodox 1.1K chunk (3:40).  Finally on the third one I settled in and ran the proper pace of 3:21.  Finally, for the 400 repeats I continued to be all over.  Again, these should be about 75-77.  I ran the first in 73 (thought it felt way too hard) and then a 77, 74, 74.  Idiot.

5+mi. (p.m.) - easy trail run from North Road Long/Ell Pond parking area up into Yawgoog & Hidden Lake.  Out and back.  Ate a lot of gnats and felt pretty tired but it was perfect time (47:00) and fun terrain for a recovery double. I miss relaxed trail runs.

Thu. (3/24):
7mi. (p.m.) - really tired and unmotivated.  Legs feel burnt up and worn out.  Still ran at normal pace but it was tiring.  I didn't try to maintain standard pace (thought I was running easier 7:45 or so) but really blah all around. At least Jesus called and said that tomorrow I can take a non-religious religious holiday off from my (constitutionally mandated ) church and state-separated school of employment. The contradiction is lost on many a coworker and student. .

Fri. (3/25):
9mi. - (p.m.) - slow and easy wandering on mostly trails in Black Farm Mgmt. Area.  Haven't been in and around there in a while.  This made it feel "newish" and enjoyable. I love running easy and carefree. Slight drizzle and warm temps made it even more relaxing and enjoyable.

Sat. (3/26):
19mi.  (a.m.) - Race: Brrrr-lingame 10 Mile Trail Race.  Results here. Pretty tired but had a lot of fun.  Finished 6th overall (despite 2-3 falls/wipe outs).  I'll try to write up a recap asap. Don't hold your breath as I have now THREE races with no write up. Managed to tack on 6+ miles after the race as a warm down/junk mile combo.

Sun. (3/27):
7mi. (p.m.) - nice run from home to my parents' house for Easter Spring Festivus celebrations.  Felt pretty decent despite some major soreness in my right knee (crushed it on a log and again on a rock during separate wipe outs in yesterday's race).

TOTAL:76 miles
YTD: 895+


Notables:
* another decent week with 2 qualities.  I had fun at the race on Saturday too, even if I was totally wiped out.

*mileage a tiny bit lower than what I wanted but when you're racing, that's acceptable I guess

*need to cut down a bit on the calories (food and beer)--what else is new?!?

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Vernal Equinox: 3/14/16 - 3/20/16

Mon. (3/14):
7mi. - (p.m.)  - an easy recovery(ish) type run around local roads.  Tried to sneak in softer grass (cemetery) at one point.  Legs felt okay after yesterday's workout on the Boston course but not bad at all. Raw weather made it a tad chilly.

Tue. (3/15):
9mi. - (p.m.) - warmer but still damp.  Wandered into North Stonington to look for a gentleman's house -- total stalker style.  I've made plans to purchase some more fowl from him in mid-April (pullets, not chicks) and I just wanted to see where he lives.  Can't wait to meet and greet the new beautiful (hopefully) ladies. I felt really good for this run.  Love it when it only takes a day or so to shake off workout fatigue.
Silver-Laced Wyandotte

Barred Rock

Buff Orpington

Wed. (3/16):
10mi. (a.m.) - tough getting out of bed and even tougher getting motivated for Workout Wednesday.  It almost feels like Groundhog Day -- another Wednesday, another case of "I was supposed to......but instead I just did....." . Planned for me: 6E+5x1K + 4x400+2E.  Instead I only had time and motivation for 4E and 5x1K.  Did okay with splits but it was harder than it should have been.  I'm not used to running "fast" (I pace really isn't fast but its all relative).  I've gotten too used to a sort of set-it-and-forget-it pace....Oh you want me to run steady M pace or T pace for time X, okay!  Faster stuff is tougher to get pacing right.  Whatever, it is what the coach wanted. Splits: 3:21, 3:24, 3:19, 3:21, 3:20.

6mi. (p.m.) - easy but still respectable slide over to my parents' house for the usual Wednesday evening visit, dinner, and beers.  I'm so gross. But at least my legs felt alright, if a little fatigued.

Thu. (3/17):
8mi. (p.m.) - normal loop on local roads.  A bit more tired today.  Despite taking it "easy" I still managed low 7:00s pace without trying, which is rather encouraging despite the creakiness of my joints and leg muscles.

Fri. (3/18):
7mi. - (a.m.) - an awesome sunrise stroll on roads.  Saw a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers in the usual Diamond Hill Road stretch of hardwoods.

8+mi. - (p.m.) - fun run on usual Carolina trails.  Friday double with a double PM battle, one per run.

Sat. (3/19):
17mi.- (p.m.) - I was forced to wait until around 1400 to get this one in (when my wife returned home from school).  2E+2T+8E+2T+3E. Parked at Horseshoe Falls and ran mostly roads with a large chunk of easy trails in Carter Preserve (best part of the whole run).  This workout was "easy" and I was way too fast on the T sections but I was feeling GREAT and wanted them over with (5:40s pace). Felt good and was in such a better mood when this was over (hanging around a large fire with libations and friends afterward certainly helped too).

Sun. (3/20):
8mi. -(a.m.) - easy wandering from home to my in-laws for breakfast.  Happy Equinox! Felt good but was a bit chilly with the now changing NE wind.  Waiting for impending spring snow storm.

TOTAL:80+ miles
YTD: 819+

Notables:
- thought about doubling on Sunday afternoon to get more miles in but decided against it as I was already showered, cozy with wool socks and sweats on, and Torpedos on "tap" (glass bottle).  80+ is just as good as 87 miles. No difference.

- Saturday afternoon's Matinee Feature wasn't even really a workout.  It was so different in the way it was set up that it felt "easy".  It was encouraging to crank out the 2Ts with no problem.  Fitness begets mild giddiness.

- only a few more weeks of higher volume to go before the dreaded taper starts......

- I'm just overall gross in general


Monday, March 14, 2016

Week of 3/7/16 - 3/13/16

Mon. (3/7):
8mi. - (p.m.) - a mix of roads and both local HLT properties on pretty beat up legs.  Worn out but this is to be expected a couple days removed from a 1/2 marathon.

Tue. (3/8):
7mi. - (p.m.) - a little tired still but better than yesterday.  I managed to stay at respectable pace (7:15) for the run.

Wed. (3/9):
10mi. -(a.m.) - an aborted workout in the dark at WHS.  Scheduled to do 4x2T with 2:00 recoveries.  After "struggling" through a 3 mile warm up, I knew that I was going to have to quit the workout when I couldn't even get down to T pace for the first set (5:58, 5:58).  I left the track and just wandered the streets to get in easy miles.  Normally I'd be pissed that I couldn't hit (or even come close) the workout but I've just got too much fatigue still in my legs I think.

7mi. - (p.m.) - at least I got to double in usual Wednesday fashion.  The weather was just too amazing not to wander around in 60 degree sunshine and singing birds, mooing cows, barking dogs, and huffing runners -- a cacophony of spring! Felt good given the morning's failure.

Thu. (3/10):
8mi - a mix of trails (in Champlin) and surrounding roads prior to the monthly WTAC Board meeting.  I was a little tired but felt better near the end of the run.  I also noticed that the two species of amphibians seemed to be residing in different pools in Champlin Preserve -- Wood Frogs calling from one body of water while Spring Peepers separately from another.  They didn't seem to be mixed together. At least I couldn't hear them.  Strange.

Fri. (3/11):
5mi. (a.m.) - easy morning trot in the warm morning before a professional development day at school.  Not having to go in until 0745 really helps.

7mi. (p.m.) - weather continues to be so nice and I felt really good on this run, mentally and physically.

Sat. (3/12):
9mi. (a.m.) - felt great once again.  I had to put the reigns on with the beautiful, sunny, warming weather and an impending workout/long run the next morning.  Feeling really solid.  It took me a while to figure out why I've felt so good for the past few days -- skipping the mid week workout really makes you feel rested.

Sun. (3/13):
20+mi. (a.m.) - Jonny and I drove up to meet Ryan D. at his house for a tuneup run along the first 19 miles of the marathon course.  Weather was great despite a fairly stiff headwind along the way.  After running gently along the rolling one mile to the start line, we met up with a slew of BAA runners and then started out along the course.  We ran "easy" for the first 8 miles (low 7:00s to high 6:00 pace) and then became separated out for the next 8-10 miles at marathon pace with the remainder being a warm down.  Jonny took off and was hammering with a small group of guys that claimed to be running the perfect 6:10 pace. I backed off after 1.5 miles when I realized they were actually running 5:55-6:00 which is much too spicy for me for MP.  I then fell back and ran most of it solo, which kind of sucked but was manageable.  Felt good to get it done and not struggle though.  Boston is neigh!

TOTAL: 81 miles
YTD: 739 miles

Notables:

- skipping the workout on Wednesday was definitely the right call.  It absolutely helped me bounce back and feel great for the rest of the week.

- Sunday's run/workout was encouraging.  Feeling good!

-love doubles.  I wish I could/would run them more often.


Monday, March 7, 2016

Oceans Run 1/2 Week: 2/29/16 - 3/6/16

Mon. (2/29):
8mi. (p.m.) - stiff and mildly sore from previous days' back to back efforts but loosened up and started to feel decent near the end of the run.  Took it fairly easy for most of the run (7:40 pace OA).  Heard first big, legitimate chorus of Spring peepers in swamps at the end of the road.  No more 1-2 intermittent calls.  Only heard 1-2 separate, individual Wood Frogs. Spring is coming!!!! (I get so excited).

Tue. (3/1):
12mi. (p.m.) - I had to take a half day from school for a meeting at Chariho so I got to sneak in a fun, slightly extended run in Carolina.  It was primarily trails and fields with just a splash of roads, which incorporated both Carolina South and North (started and ended at Meadowbrook Pond lot).  Love 1/2 days! Love running in the woods even more.

Wed. (3/2):
10mi. (a.m.) - with the upcoming 1/2 marathon this weekend, I wasn't looking to abuse myself.  I opted for an easy 5x1T of cruise intervals on the treadmill.  Boring but pretty easy--just pace practicing. Although, I doubt I can maintain true T pace this weekend....probably more like T+:05 seconds or so (hopefully). Very slight and quite minor ("just saying hello") twinges/pain in left shin.  Not sure if bone or muscle or sheathing or imagination.

4mi. (p.m.) - easy but chilly (WINDY!) recovery on primarily Pelloni Preserve Trails.  Had to stop on the way home as I was briefly attacked by a neighbor's rooster (Red Star breed) who was hanging with his two "bitches" in the middle of the road.  He wouldn't move for anybody - runners, cars, a cat, ...anyone! Shin twinges still there.
Not their rooster but same exact look/phenotype.
(Google images)

Thu. (3/3):
7mi. (p.m.) - with weird shin pain (minor) on the left tibia.  I've realized, through much poking, prodding, stretching, and beer drinking that it is indeed on the bone and not muscle.  With this in mind, and being really sick of roads, I opted for an easy jaunt around Woody Hill Management Area. I tried to stick to mainly the soft stuff an enjoyed the woods immensely! Almost fell in the water at the flooded beaver dam crossing.

Fri. (3/4):
3mi. (p.m.) - super short and easy shakeout

Sat. (3/5):
18mi. - (a.m.) - Race: Oceans Run 1/2 Marathon.  An inauspicious start to the morning (3 different events) lead to a strange good and bad race. A "PR" on my watch but very slow on official time (by almost 2:00!) because of a long course (13.45 miles!).  Actually ran 13.1 in 1:16:19 (nearly a full minute PR!).  I'm going to wait a while before I write a recap and reflection on this one.  Annoyed but yet pleased at the same time.

Sun. (3/6):
10mi. (a.m.) - run with Share, 5K, and Gazelle in the flat lands of Charlestown.  Good to do an extended easy run to work out a few strange race kinks.


TOTAL: 72 miles
YTD: 658 miles

Notables:
- not a very hard week given the  non-workout on Wednesday (just cruise intervals at T pace) and the half marathon debacle.  Still counts as decent training though I guess because the effort was there?

- no more races from now until Boston (I think?) so now I get to focus the next three weeks on redlining sort of and not getting injured while still gaining (maybe) fitness.

-starting to get nicer and nicer outside.  Always a strong correlation between lack of enthusiasm for work and increasingly spring-like weather conditions. Happens every year.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Belleville 10K Week: 2/22/16 - 2/28/16

Mon. (2/22):
6mi. -(p.m.) - a Kenyon Crossroads (HLT) loop.  Still feeling pretty tired so I took it easy.

Tue. (2/23):
11mi.- (p.m.) ran down to Grills Sanctuary and over to Grills Preserve to scope out Jeff's new and mysterious X-Files, "stick structure" atop Big Hill.  The kids that built/are building are doing a great job with it.  So fun to be a kid and build forts and structures with saws, hammer, and nails.  I miss doing that. Although I was still kind of tired with leg fatigue, I did notice it is getting better.  Still, a bit faded towards the end of this run.  Chilly but fun in the snow flurries.

Wed. (2/24):
7mi. (a.m.) - with the race looming on Saturday and my overall general malaise recently, I decided to skip a workout and just run primarily darkened Westerly streets down to the Westerly Yacht Club and back to the high school.  Did 8 strides (front and back stretches on the track) at the end.  I was definitely over dressed for this one.

3mi.+ (p.m.) - set out for an easy 7-8 miles but after about 2 miles I turned around.  The way I feel right now (just worn out, rubber legs with zero oomph), I figured it was best to call it quits. Ended up being a pathetic 5K.  Looks like a day of rest on the horizon (hate those!)

Thu. (2/25):
me....pretty much
0 - no running, no exercise, no fun.  I did manage to sneak in about 60 minutes of "yoga" -- only one pose (corpse pose, a.k.a. shavasanna/savasanna) For one hour straight, no other movement. Just lying on my bed. Napping and resting.  It was pretty epic.

Fri. (2/26):
5mi. - (p.m.) - easy and short mix of roads and trails from home.  Wet mud and flooded trails but felt good physically to get out and felt great mentally to realize that a day off is not the end of the world and my legs felt much better.

Sat. (2/27):
11mi. - (a.m.) Belleville Pond 10K Trail Race.  Results here. Finished 5th overall on a pretty fun (dry!) course.  Saw a lot of "new" people at this race which bodes well for the series and is indeed exciting to see. Try to give detailed write-up soon.

Sun. (2/28):
17mi. (a.m.) - warm and sunny long run from home.  Ran a rolling course with a tiny bit of trails in Hopkinton Grills Preserve (the red-headed step child of the three Grills properties) before heading up Burdickville, along Buckeye Brook Road, and looping back around to home.  Kept the pace hones (6:50ish) but didn't push it.  Felt surprisingly good for the day after the race.   Felt good to be finished though.

TOTAL: 60 miles
YTD: 586 miles

Notables:
* had fun at the race on Saturday.  I ran better than I thought I would and hurt a little less than I expected.  Maybe I should've run harder?  Nah, that wasn't really feasible.  Plus, the odd aches and soreness in strange places (outer ankle and shin) that usually don't occur reminds me that trail races are tough in a different sort of way.

* a recovery week sort of I guess.  I was feeling so beaten down that I skipped Wednesday's workout and didn't get a really hard long run in (workout-wise) so I guess I have to rely on the effort on Saturday and move forward from there.

*looking to get back after it next week but once again, Wednesday may have to be tempered as I have another race (Oceans Run 1/2 Marathon) on Saturday.  As such, I'm not sure how the week will actually play out. No rest for the wicked.

Monday, February 22, 2016

School Vacation Week: 2/15/16 - 2/21/16

Mon. (2/15):
8mi. (a.m.)  - Standard loop on local side streets of downtown Ashaway.  Sore blisters busting open on toes.  Ouch.

Tue. (2/16):
11mi. (a.m.) - Ran from Weekapaug. Pretty windy (20SE) but I really was enjoying the run and couldn't stop given the warm temps (50s).  Had plans on running a double but was feeling good and really enjoying the warm temperatures so I just kept going with it.  Some hamstring tightness.

Wed. (2/17)
13mi. (a.m.) - from Chariho and did a mix of roads with a little CHS track.  I was supposed to run a sneakily difficult 3T, 3T, 2T block but knew right away after the first three and into the second block, that there was just no way.  Settled for 3T, 2T, 1T and still struggled mightily.  Tired.

6mi. (p.m.) - enjoyable and relaxing run from my parents on mostly trails of Carolina North.  Discovered a single track spur that connected Essex Hill to a back field and connector to another main gravel/fire road.  Nice addition to the mix. Felt pretty good and really enjoyed the woods. Getting sick of roads.

Thu. (2/18):
6+mi. (a.m.) - a recovery 10K mix of roads and trails from home.  A bunch of standing water and flooded trails made it muddy, slushy, and wet.  I really enjoy being off the roads and not giving a crap about proper pace.  Just running for time and wandering in the woods is definitely the way to do it.

5+mi. (p.m.) - from Horseshoe Falls in Shannock.  Ran a road loop for 5.8 miles to get to 12 for the day.  Felt pretty good for this one.  The beers and laughs afterwards felt even better.

Fri. (2/19):
8+mi. - (a.m.)  - a little over eight mile (8.2) as a planned run number 1 for the day.  Felt pretty tired and bagged the second run.  Good pace overall.

Sat. (2/20):
17mi. (a.m.) - another Q run with Jonny, and another "failed" workout for the week.  The Plan: 3-4E + 6M + 1T +5M + 2-3E. I knew right away on the rolling warm up along Burdickville Road that I was in trouble.  I wanted to quit during the first M block.  Quads just got heavier and heavier and I was just having to work way too hard.  Thankfully, I latched on to Jonny, The Tireless One, and he pulled me along for much of it.  Instead of the 1T nut buster, we did 1E then back to the second block of M.  Unfortunately, as I watched Jonny just keep pulling away from me on Switch Road, I knew I was finished.  I stopped my watch after 3 miles of M and had to get my shit together (bent over, hands on knees, gasping, blowing snot).  Thankfully, Jonny was content to just run the rest at easy pace back to his house atop the hill.  Bonk city!! Ugh--very humbling and frustrating. Haven't felt that poorly in a long time.  Worn out.

Sun. (2/21):
6+mi. (a.m.) - recovery run on pretty beat up legs.  Took it slow and easy on mainly roads with tiny bit of soft trails and cemetery grass.  Amazingly effective way to loosen up and start getting back the legs. (6.8 miles total). Gets me to 82 for the week.

TOTAL: 82 miles
YTD: 526 miles


Notables:
*sort of a disappointing week in terms of the workouts -- I was unable to handle them both.  Saturday's debacle was a true ball buster as I haven't felt that awful in a long time.  I was bonking, heavy legged, and physically uncomfortable, so much so that I "quit" the workout/run.  Hope it is just one of those things.  If I find the time this week, I may look back at last year's marathon training and compare the two years thus far (weekly mileage, types of workouts, any workout failures, etc.)

* it's good to be on vacation from school as it allows for more running.  I enjoyed the doubles although I did get worn down eventually.

* with two "peak" weeks of 80-82 miles, time to cut back down a bit.  This is perfect timing as I have back to back races coming up : Belleville 10K (trail) and the following Saturday is the Oceans Run 1/2 marathon (on new course in Westerly).  It'll be interesting to see how I feel before, during, and after both of those.  The real test will be the road 1/2.  Hoping to run well there.  With Belleville, I hope to run well there too but it is on trails and will be a bitch so I'm hoping to just not get injured or die.