Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Smelling the Roses

After a lot of road work the last few weeks, I've spent the first half of this week back on the trails of Ryan Park.  My legs still don't feel fully recovered from the Blessing of the Fleet race, but from reading Justin and Jen's blogs, at least I know I'm not alone.  I've made the effort (which with my soreness  - mostly hamstrings - has made easier) to slow down my runs.  The weather has cooperated as well - Monday and Tuesday  especially.  Three really enjoyable runs.  I took a couple of photos on Tuesday after noticing the variety of wild flowers still blooming despite the hotter than normal July weather.  Now this is trail running! 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Blessing of the Fleet 2010

Friday, I ran my first Blessing of the Fleet.  As discussed earlier, by the time race day came, I was very excited to run.  I decided to drive down to registration on my lunch break at 2pm, and pick up my bib early.  I was surprised at how many people were already there four hours before the start.  I picked up a hot coffee - it was raining and only 67 degrees! - and pumped some old NOFX in my car as I returned to my office.  Based on my conversations with Justin, I had prepared some extra food to eat a couple of hours before the start.  But in a rookie move, I opted not to eat, since I wasn't remotely hungry at this time (and probably just buzzing off coffee and my Pandora radio station).  Finally(!!), it was time to head down to the race, and in another rookie move, I had "figured out" a back way in and a "good" place to park.  Well, it took me forever to get there, and while stuck in traffic Justin called and said he parked right at the start (and right next to my brother and his girlfriend).  Upon parking, I finished a small Gatorade, grabbed a water, and "warmed up" to the start (.75 miles).  I found Justin, Greg, Jen, Heather, and Marc hanging out and was really happy that I could enjoy some pre-race laughs and company.  Justin wanted to warm up and I joined him, and we quickly met up with Chad and all ran together.  At the start line, my stomach started to rumble and I realized that I usually ate dinner at that time - 6pm!  I was regretting not eating a little earlier at my office.  Now I know. 

The race itself was fun too.  I tried to not go too fast the first mile, as I often do, and clocked in at 6:31.  I then settled in to my pace and ran fairly consistent miles the rest of the way.  I was surprised, and a little disheartened, at how many people were passing me during miles 2 and 3.  After that, the passing evened out - I reeled a few people in, and I would also be occasionally embarrassed by some teenage kid flying by me (why were they so far back??).  I found myself taking water - one sip and then pouring the rest over my back.  The guy with the hose was a nice touch too.  At mile five, besides seeing BoJo, it began to rain.  It felt good!  At mile six, it began to pour!!  To me it was quite a novelty sloshing through this monsoon.  The roads quickly became streams, and my Nike Run Free's didn't feel so free anymore.  My body felt fresh, but I figured my pace would suffer.  At mile eight, the rain had stopped, and the streets were filling up with cheering spectators, helping me along.  I picked up the pace for the last mile and finished up on my watch in 70:58, a time I was happy with, and as Justin noted, a PR! 

My splits (9 & 10 combined):  6:31/7:17/7:00/7:07/7:11/7:17/7:10/7:11/14:11(for 2)

Post race, I met up with Greg and Justin, watched our friends finish, and headed over to the beer tent with Greg and Jen for our free cold one Justin kept talking about.  We were very disappointed to find out they were charging runners $4 for beer this year, and so we slogged off to the bus back to the parking lot.  There we found Justin again, and the four of us went to Casey's for a post race dinner and celebration. 

Friday, July 23, 2010

Pre-Race Jitters

Friday morning, and I'm in full pre-race jitters mode.  I'd like to thank Jon S and Justin for talking me into running this race earlier this week.  I really didn't want to do it, but their insight and perspective convinced me to give it a go.  Now, with a cloudy (possibly rainy) day in the 70's forecasted,  I'm overly excited to run. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Running Dream

I was hoping to get another good running start on my running this week.  Monday, I waited out the rain (twice) and left at 2:45PM to go run in Ryan Park.  I pulled into the parking lot, saw standing water on the trails, felt the return of the hot and humid weather, and couldn't pull the trigger.  I did get a particularly delicious coffee however.  Honestly, my body was very sore from bodyboarding Saturday night, and I wasn't upset at resting it. 

Before I awoke this morning, I had a running dream.  It was some sort of indoor race - 2.5 miles of stairs up and then back down.  I was racing with my son on my shoulders, but  I was passing people left and right.  Then I passed my brother Greg (this was definitely a dream!).  I kept waiting for him to pass me again, especially going back down, but I held him off for the win.  It seemed fishy to me, but he insisted he was giving it his all.  So we raced two more times and I won them both.  He told me I was better at running stairs than him.  My first win!  I then woke up (early) and decided to go for a run.  I was out the door at 5:47 and enjoyed a nice 4.5 mile hilly run. 

Friday, July 16, 2010

Soup Running

I'm feeling motivated to run this week.  I have accepted the fact that the weather will be horrible for another five or six weeks, but if I keep my runs a little shorter and easier, I will still enjoy myself.  Monday and Tuesday, I ran in Ryan Park with Dan.  We were able to keep up a good pace despite the mid 80's temperature and excessive humidity.  After a little online investigating, I decided that it was okay to soak in the stream near the end of the run, which really helped me to recover right away. 
Wednesday, I pulled off a double: Rome Point trail run on my lunch break and then beach volleyball at night.  I thought that with a cloudy/slightly rainy day, this run would be easier than the previous two, but the air was unbelievably thick.  On the positive side, I could cool off by brushing against the wet weeds, shrubs, and trees along the trail.  I also got extremely close to a deer on the trail.  It didn't want to move, it just flicked its ears and watched me as I tried to coax it off the trail.  Luckily for this deer, it is living in a nature preserve.  I recommend it stays there or develop a fear of humans.  I couldn't believe how soaked in sweat I was when I returned to my car.  At night, I subbed for a friend on a local 4 on 4 volleyball team and had a ton of fun. 
Thursday, Dan and I planned to run 10 miles on roads to guage our Blessing-ability.  Our plan was to run later in the day, after drinking coffee from the aptly named Jitters Cafe.  We also decided to run with Gatorade rather than our usual water.  For some reason, I had pictured drinking a purple flavor.  On the run, as my bottle sloshed around in my hand, a little of the purple drink would seep out onto my hands and stained them this weird blue color.  We ran hard.  I wanted to see what I could do the Blessing of the Fleet 10 mile road race in if I decided to run it next week.  I guessed that I would suffer through a 72 minute run.  I proved yesterday that I was correct.  Dan set a blistering pace (1 mile 6:58) and I trailed him for the first 4 miles.  I took over after that, and hit the half way point at 36:06.  I wasn't sure in the middle miles if I would be able to keep up my pace for the entire distance.  The second half has a lot of subtle uphills, and I felt like I was probably going slower.  I refused to look at my watch and battled through the rest of the miles.  I finished up in 72:13 for a second half time of 36:07.  At least I'm consistent.  I think that with fresher legs and some added adrenaline I could get to 70 minutes in the race.  But would I enjoy it? 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Weekend in Keene

My family headed north to Keene this past weekend.  My wife and daughter were attending a bridal shower for my soon to be sister-in-law Gina on Sunday.  We decided to go up Saturday morning and make a mini-vacation out of it.  My brother Glenn met us on Main Street and we had lunch at Keene Fresh Salad.  After lunch and despite the rain and drizzle, we headed up the road to Pitcher Mountain for a hike.  This proved to be a great suggestion by Glenn.  We followed a single track trail up about a half a mile to the summit.  Near the top, we began noticing the blueberries:

The summit was open, with lots of high bush blueberry bushes, a fire tower, and great views: 

We spent quite some time up there and brought home a good amount of berries.  We hiked back on an old road that had great views.  It was a perfect length hike for our kids.  After checking into our hotel and trying out the pool, we went to Armadillo's for dinner.  I love their sweet potato filling for burritoes. 

The next morning we had a great breakfast at Bagel Works and then went for another swim at the pool before checking out.  We met Glenn at the nearby Robin Hood Forest, which had a fun playground and nice wooded trail around a pond.  For lunch, my parents (also up for the shower) and brother Greg, joined us at Elm City Brew Pub.  I recommend all the places we ate at!  We were hoping (my son especially) to hike the Dublin Trail up Mount Monadnock, but the weather (hot and humid) and time constraints ruled it out.  Instead, we hiked to Kilburn Pond in Pisgah, swam, and hiked back (which for me meant carrying my 40lb son on my shoulders).  The day was topped off by the men crashing the bridal shower and meeting our new extended family.  It was an action packed trip!  I just wish I took more pictures.   

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Creative Running

I've been frustrated with my lack of running.  Most years, I completely shift gears in the summer, and hardly run at all.  This year, I'm trying to keep it up, but I'm finding it hard to justify running in the middle of day heat.  Last night I finally broke down and got some creative miles in. 

I decided to run laps around my house with a baby monitor after my kids went to bed.  We have made a few trails on our sloping property.  I wasn't sure I could make a loop long enough, but I was happy to see that it was about 1/4 mile long, and it certainly is hilly, with a couple of steep grades.  I ran the first lap in 1:45, which based on my effort, seemed equivalent to the 7:00 minute mile pace this would work out to be.  My laps got progressively slower as the humidity (plus the temp - still 80 degrees out at 8:15PM) and the hills got to me.  I ended up running 4 miles - 4 laps one way then switching direction for 4.  This definitely helped with the monotany, as each direction had it's challenges.  The darkness was also a challenge, as I didn't finish up until 8:45PM.  My miles: 7:16/7:45/7:50/8:23. 

That night, I decided I would try to get a few miles in before the kids awoke.  I got up earlier than I wanted (anxious to run) and was out the door at 5:58AM.  I ran 3 miles on the roads in 20:53, and then stopped to see if anybody was stirring in the house.  I then ran 4 laps on my new house trail.  My legs felt really tired on the hills.  I noticed my son was downstairs, so finished up an extra 2 laps for a morning total of 4.5 miles. 

I had also decided that on my lunch break I would try hiking or jogging down to the water (Narr. Bay) at Rome Point and going for a swim.  When 1 o'clock rolled around, I was considering just getting a iced coffee and reading, but I mustered up the energy to stick with the original plan.  I ran about 2 miles down to the water and then jumped into the bay.  I did a rather short, lackluster swim and then got out and dried off.  I jogged another 2 miles back to my car, and was content with my creative running for the past 18 hours. 

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Fishing with My Brothers and Nick Cash

This past Friday, my brothers and dad, Joel, and Justin chartered a fishing boat out of Galilee for my brother's bachelor party.  We spent 8 hours in glorious weather fishing off the north side of Block Island:

We caught striped bass for the first few hours.  Here's Glenn about to catch the first fish of the day while Greg watches:

The lunker award went to Joel with this monster:

Greg was a close second with this one:

The second half of the trip we bottom-fished for fluke.  Glenn landed the largest one on his first cast.  We caught 3 keepers out of about 40 landed.  It was an action-packed day!  After napping, BoJo met up with us for a little pre-dinner music session, followed by margaritas, calamari, and burritoes at Senor Flacos.  By chance, I ran into Nick Cash that night.  Actually (ha ha), I found him about as amusing as Joel does.  Fun night. 

Saturday, my wife cooked the fluke:

Yesterday, we entertained my in-laws and sister-in-law and my wife cooked up one of the big striper filets: