Friday, March 26, 2010

Rebound Week

It's been a good week so far.  Three nice runs and one day off of work spent with my family outside. 

Wednesday I was feeling the best I had in a while, so I decided to run 12 or 13 miles on my lunch break.  I ran the roads to Ryan Park, then did my 7 mile loop, and then took various roads back to the office.  My body felt a little stiff from my speed workout the day before, but I felt pretty good throughout the run.  It's funny how every run has it's own twists and turns.  On this one, somehow I turned down the wrong side road - I take great pride in my navigating ability - and had to turn around embarrassed.  An older gentleman told me to "keep it up".  Hopefully, he didn't mean taking wrong turns.  Once I hit the trails, I was amazed at the water level of the streams, ponds, and puddles.  I knew that we had the record amount of rain for March, including 3 or 4 inches the day before, but I was seriously questioning if I could complete my loop logistically.  It ended up working out.  Definitely a little sketchy in places and I ended up with a few nice scratches trying to avoid certain wet spots.  I felt really good when I hit the roads again (about 10 miles in), and decided I would try to make the run 13 miles.   I ended up going 12.7 in 1:34:42 - which averaged a 7:27 pace. 

Thursday, I had the day off because my wife had to work in the morning, and luckily it ended up being a great day weatherwise - sunny (clouds later) and up to 60 degrees.  My daughter and I played outside in the morning and watched a couple TV's (turkey vultures) and hawks (red-tailed?) soar over our house.  We picked up my son at school and then ate lunch outside on our deck.  This was followed up by a hike through our woods until my wife returned from work.  We loaded up the car and head to the South County Bike Path.  The kids did a short bike ride (with parents help) to a playground.  Unfortunately, the playground was a giant puddle.  This didn't stop my kids though.  My 2 year old daughter told us "I have an idea", and then proceeded to take off her shoes and socks.  My son followed suit, and they were both wading around this playground pond.  Kind of gross, but really who cares.  After rescuing my daughter stuck at the bottom of a tube slide (the puddle was really deep underneath), they hopped on their bikes and we went back to the car.  Off to another playground that wasn't underwater....  One awesome sighting from the car was an adult bald eagle flying not too far over the road.  This was pretty close to our house and near a large undeveloped pond.  Nesting maybe?  

Friday, I ran again from my office on my lunch break in rather miserable, dark, windy, 39 degree weather.  After conquering the initial desire to quit,  I ran on and fell into a great pace, despite my legs feeling a little sore.  I kept to the roads wanting to avoid all the water on the trails.  I was really hoping to be through with wearing a hat and gloves on a run again this year.  Oh well.  I maintained my speed throughout and picked it up a little at the end.  I weaved around the office neighborhood hoping to get 8 miles.  I did 8.1 in 58:48 - 7:16 pace. 

Off to my day long fantasy baseball auction draft tomorrow.  Hopefully a run Sunday? 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sub Six

After dealing with a perfect storm of bad health, family obligations, and foul weather the last couple of days, I was able to resume running activities.  Two crappy weeks in a row running-wise now behind me I was ready to test my fitness level.  The forecast was for heavy rain all day, but it stopped in the morning, allowing me to go out and get my feet wet.  My initial thought was to ease back into things considering my considerable congestion from a cold (allergies related?).  The trails would be messy after the rain, so I thought I would try the Quonset Bike Path.  Then I started to think about those mile markers on it.  Hmm.  What might be fun?  I finally decided to run 4 miles - 2 easy, 1 fast, 1 easy.  My goal was to break a six minute mile.  I don't think I ever have (at least timed).  I remember running a mile on the track in college when I wasn't in great shape in 6:20 or 6:15 maybe.  I know that I should be able to do it now.  My brother Greg just ran a half marathon at 5:26 mile pace - this shouldn't be too hard.  But, I wasn't sure what my body would feel like. 

Perfect running weather greeted me - 50 degrees and overcast with light winds.  The path was empty for the most part, except the token man with large unleashed dog and the woman with multiple dogs on multiple leashes going in multiple directions.  My body felt fresh and running didn't seem to bother my lungs.  My first mile was 7:33 and my second was about 8 minutes.  I stopped for a moment and shook out my legs and tried to find mental motivation to run hard.  Next thing I knew I was off.  My pace felt good and fast, but controlled.  My breathing was pretty good.  I felt like I could maintain it.  Gut check time - the half mile marker - I glance down at my watch and feel relieved - 2:58.  I should be able to keep this up.  I round a gentle curve and now I can see the mile marker.  I also see the lady with the dogs monopolizing the width of the path.  Oh well.  I pick up my pace slightly and finish feeling strong.  I think one of the dogs started to run after me, but I didn't turn around to see.  I clocked the mile in at 5:58.  New record!  But what I was the most happy about, was how easy it felt to me.  Could I keep up that pace for another mile?  How about for a 5K?  I finished my last mile untimed and returned to my car happy and excited about running again. 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


So, it's now been a week since my last run.  I stayed home Friday to care for my sick daughter - stomach bug.  Saturday was a repeat of Friday.  Sunday, the weather was still lousy and I figured I would have a big week of running coming up with the nice weather forecasted.  Wrong!  Monday, with my daughter still recovering, I stayed home for half the day and then went into work with no chance for getting in a run.  Okay - Tuesday will be the day.  Wrong again.  I woke up Tuesday morning with the stomach bug - mostly just horrible body aches and pains.  Wednesday,  I woke up feeling much better and I toyed with the idea of getting in a short run on my lunch break.  But, I decided that I wasn't really up for it.  Thursday will be the day.... 

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Week of March 8th

Maybe it was my wife, or our friends who visited from Maine, or one of my coworkers, or perhaps one of the kids at my son's school.  Maybe I got a little too close to Justin admiring the view from Big Hill.  Wherever it came from, I got sick this week. 

Monday, my body felt generally sore all over, but the weather was outrageous - sunny and 65 degrees!, so I ran with my coworker Dan on our lunch break.  We did our typical 7 miler in Ryan Park.  I was afraid the woods would be crawling with people and their best unleashed friends, but we only had to stop twice for some questionable canines.  What I wasn't happy to see were the three athletes on motorcycles.  Dan and I did not acknowledge their waves to us and we did not move off our line, making them go around us.  I was curious what was going to happen when they caught up with the unleashed angry dog behind us.  What I was happy to see was the blooming forsythia in the parking lot and the snake Dan almost smushed on the trail.  My legs felt lifeless and I told Dan he could leave me behind if he was feeling good.  His pace wasn't too uncomfortable, and I was able to stay with him the whole way.  I actually didn't feel bad at the end.  We did it in a medium pace-ish 53 minutes. 
The weather continued to be spectacular on Tuesday and Wednesday, but I wasn't feel up to running.  By Thursday, I was itching to get back out there and I wanted to go long.  My head still felt clogged, but my body was fresh.  I decided to run the roads to Ryan Park, do the 7 miles of trails, and then run back to the office on roads for a total of 12 miles.  My goal was to run a nice pace, without overdoing it. 
My first two miles I ran in 14:11.  Then I hit the trails and the rain started.  Or so I thought - it actually was freezing rain even though it was 45 degrees out - pretty strange sight.  All was quiet in the woods today and I kept up my pace.  At about the 8 mile mark it started to actually rain and I was getting a little cold as my clothes got wet.  Upon returning to the roads, puddles had formed now, and cars were splashing about.  This and the poor visibility reinforced my disdain for road running.  With about half a mile left, I had to cross a busy intersection and I had horrible timing.  I decided to run up the road and cross when traffic allowed rather than stop and wait.  This took way longer than I wanted, but the anger this caused probably helped me finish strong.  My total time was 1:30:00 for 12 miles - 7:30 minute mile pace.  It felt really good and I know I could go faster if I wanted to. 
I hope to get in one or two more runs this week.  Maybe a Saturday morning run with Justin? 

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Grills Preserve

Saturday I met up with my friend Justin at the Grills Preserve in Bradford, RI.  This property is now managed by the Westerly Land Trust, but has some sketchy untold history (previously owned by a very large dyeing factory).  My dad had explored it on mtn. bike and told me that it was worth checking out, but for some reason I never really thought about running there.  Justin has run in it a few times before and suggested we go there and do a long trail run. 
The weather was truly perfect - upper 40's at the start, mid 50's at the finish - sunny and little wind.  My body was pretty tired from my run the day before, but I was excited to run.  Justin was sick, so I figured we would settle into a relaxing pace.  The plan was to run the perimeter trails, see how long that took us, check the map, and then run the trails we missed or ones we wanted to run again.  We were hoping for about 10 miles.  Our guide was Justin's Garmin watch - so I knew that I was going to disagree with the mileage it said we ran versus what we actually did run. 
We headed off towards the Pawcatuck River, running over manmade berms and by numerous lagoons - what these were made for I probably don't want know, but at least nature is returning once again.  At one point the trail was completely flooded.  We decided to bushwack rather than backtrack - 30 seconds later we refound the trail and we had to chuckle at how lame this off trail adventure was.  I wasn't laughing for long as there was a significantly challenging hill ahead.  The payoff is the overlook at the creatively named Big Hill.  This spot was too gorgeous to not stop and linger for awhile.  Soon, we were running down the hill and through some more varied terrain.  At the 51 minute mark we reached the parking lot.  I was really impressed at the size of this preserve. 
A check of the map and we thought we would run down the middle this time - check out an old cemetery (the newest headstone was from 1826 I think) - and then attack Big Hill from a different (steeper?) direction.  This ascent was the only quiet portion of the run - too tiring to talk.  But once again, we found ourselves pausing and taking in the view of Big Hill.  Looping back to our cars, we had run for 1:14:30.  Justin's watch recorded the mileage as 8.35.  There is no way this is accurate.  Justin agreed, but he hit the road to get an even 10.  I was happy to call it 9.5 (a very reasonable 7:50 minute mile pace) and head home with the windows down. 

Check out Justin's account of the run here.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Friday's Run

A quiet day at work left me longing for a great run to do today.  I decided on a run I had done once back in early November.  It incorporated most of this run plus the adjoining Quonset Bike Path.  Here's the map:

A great day - mid 40's - except for a stiff northeast wind that was in my face for most of the first half.  The run begins on the bike path.  It is newly paved and flat.  It has mile markers (every .5 miles) which is not a great thing for me.  I'm better off not looking at my watch as I am always trying to out do myself.  But, I can't help myself with the mile markers.  7:01 first mile and 7:15 second.  After another .3 miles the bike path ends, but connects with the Calf Pasture Beach park. 
With the wind in my face for almost 4 miles, I was happy to turn south onto the beach.  One catch - I forget to check the tides and the tide was almost full.  Besides narrowing the beach, I knew I would have trouble jumping the largest stream. I reached it, stopped my watch, and assessed the situation.  Following the stream up into the reeds, I found a spot I thought I could make.  Before jumping, I tested the bank and it immediately began sinking into the water.  I pushed enough sand in to make it safe to leap off.  I made it. 
It felt warm with the wind at my back and the sweat was pouring into my eyes - thanks to the increasing baldness of my head.  I need to remember my headband now the days are getting warmer.  The waterline was lined with brant - probably a couple hundred.  At the turnaround point, I startled a large group of gulls and as I got closer I noticed that they were eating starfish that washed up.  My time was 34:41. 
Immediately, the wind howled in ears.  My pace was slow.  I couldn't wait to get off the beach.  I approached a narrow stream crossing.  I didn't think much about it and stepped over it.  Upon impact, my left leg sank in the sand almost up to my knee and I fell down.   I wasn't injured and I had to laugh at myself. 
Hitting the pavement, the wind subsided and my legs relaxed.  Using the mile markers, my last two miles were 7:00 and 6:28.  My total time for the 9.5 mile run was 1:09:13 - 7:16 pace.  Last November, I did it in 1:09:50 and I was in good shape then. 
I was pretty happy with myself, and as a reward I picked up a coffee before returning to the office. 

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

My Home Course

Monday I was able to run in the morning before work. I dropped my son off at preschool and left my daughter at my parents house. My dad was happy to watch her while I got a run in. I decided to run my home course - the Vin Gormley Trail in Burlingame State Park. This is the trail where the annual Lil' Rhody Runaround takes place. It's a 8 mile loop around Watchaug Pond. Parts of the trail are fast - a mile or so of pavement, some dirt roads - but there are also plenty of rocky, rooty, wet technical sections. When run clockwise, it feels that the course is mostly uphill. Runners around here find it to be very challenging. My brother Greg and other NE trail runners find it flat, easy, and fast. He won it 3 years in a row and then had a 2nd place finish last year. I easily had my best time last year - 58:19.
Monday, I wanted to test my fitness level, and pushed myself alone around the loop. The trails were muddy and wet after all the rain, but they actually were in better shape than I expected. I completed the course in 60:09. I was a little disappointed, but the wet rocks and bridges did slow me down.
Here's a link to the race homepage:

Lil' Rhody Runaround 2010

Here are some photos from last year's race: