Trail Lures Me Out

I had notions of sleeping in this morning before putting in a full day at a Back to School event at a local mall to provide our fine Central Florida families some information in advance of opening day next Monday (8/8). Yeah; I thought eight or more good hours of shuteye and a breakfast and paper read would work out just fine.
Then C., son #2, asks me last night around 900 whether I want some pancakes in the morning. I thought for a minute and said, "Yes. I think I will make pancakes in the morning."
"No," he says. He means at somebody else's house after a trail run with the cross country team. Ah ha. It's a trail run day in Chuluota.
I hesitantly said, "No. I want to sleep in."
So 0500 rolls around and I'm wide awake. I think about it. Yeah, I'm not feeling that need to roll over and dream of Rhode Island. Shoot. I could get up, have breakfast, go for a run and then call Rhode Island if I wanted to get my fix.
So I got the boy up and off we went to the woods. He hates it because he doesn't like getting stung by horse flies. I told him he needs to be running, not walking. He is also deathly afraid of spiders and most anything else that is not a dog or cat. I tell him he can stick with me :)
The team convenes and warms up. We head out in what was 79 degree temps and the sun just coming up. The trail is a little sandy/soft in a few places, firm in most others. We follow a trail into the woods. There's a shallow creek to cross with a few branches arranged so that it is possible to get over without taking on water in your shoes. C. makes it. I caught some wet in my left shoe. I let it slide (literally) and kept on.
We followed a trail C. knew. We crossed some bridges and saw typical Florida fauna. At 25 minutes out we came to the end of the line as he knew it. We could turn back or - as I insisted - be adventurous and try any one of three horse trails that were before us. I said I was going to the right which I argued was towards the east and our car. Either as a nice buddy or for fear of spiders and flies, he stuck with me.
The grass was very wet and I found myself sloshing in my shoes such that the brief dunk in the creek was totally irellevant. We crossed an open field and then into tree line at which the creek was before us again. It was too wide and deep to ford so we kept running along another fork of the path and came upon a pair of deer that went bobbing off away from us. Very cool.
The trail ended again at the creek and there was only one choice. Turn back. We were at 40 minutes out and the prescribed run for the morning for the team was 90 minutes so we were in good shape to just retrace our steps. Along the way an otter or beaver scampered across the trail and into the deep stuff.
I loved the trail run. Missed the pancakes. Called Rhode Island. Showered and had a cup of Dave's coffee before zipping over to the mall with two minutes to spare.
Not a bad day at all.


We have a new Leader

What week is this? 30? Well #30 is the new leader for miles logged in a week this year. Holy cow. We have put in 24 miles this week for no apparent reason other than I sprung easily for a 10-miler on Sunday and didn't slow down. Today when I woke up it was early enough to push myself around the lake for six miles. It felt pretty darn good despite the heat and humidity. The time wasn't scintillating but negative splits were the end result.
The time bomb of school opening August 8 is ticking away. I'm a little nervous. Next week will be hell just because ...
All I want to do is fly back to Hartford and drive on down to the coast of RI (with Coldplay blaring) and sit on the beach. That would part 3 of Question K.


Three Things

Okay. I've sat on this too long. Somebody sent it to me two months ago, I drafted my own answers and I never posted it. It's time to push it out the window. Here. Take it.

A. three physical things you like about yourself.
1) lean legs, 2) smile, 3) hands
B. three physical things you don't.
1) Feet, 2) butt, or lack thereof, 3) posture
C. three things that scare you.
1) conspiring authorities, 2) loss of health, 3) debt
D. three of your everyday essentials.
1) Reading personal email, 2) checking out my fantasy sports teams, 3) checking bloglines
E. three things you are wearing now.
1) My PR race t-shirt, 2) black Nike cotton shorts, 3) birthday suit
F. three of your favorite bands or musical artists.
1) Coldplay, 1a) Tom Petty, 2) Bryan Adams 3) U2
G. three things you want in a relationship.
1) Companionship, 2) independence, 3) Sex
H. two truths and a lie (which is a lie?).
1) I can wiggle my ears, 2) I went to seminary, 3) I manage the checkbook
I. three physical things that turn you on.
1) Toned body, 2) long blond hair, 3) that look in your eyes
J. three of your favorite hobbies.
1) Running, 2) Watching movies, 3) Blogging
K. three things you want to do really badly right now.
1) see G3 above, 2) sleep for eight hours, 3) go to the beach (in that order)
L. three careers you are considering.
1) I'm there, otherwise: 2) sports commissioner, 3) elected official
three places you want to go on vacation.
1) Block Island, 3) Shelter Harbor, 2) Watch Hill
three things you want to do before you die.
1) be debt free, 2) see my sons as well adjusted happy adults, 3) enjoy my remaining days with my true love


Plan B was Fine

I'm fine. Really. I'm okay. Plan A was aborted and Plan B worked out to be rewarding in its own rite.
Plan A was to run the river. The same river I ran in Water Runner back in April except this time I was going to run the river and not the back lot. I had my camera, water, Gu and was ready for eight miles. I pulled up to the gate at 645 rarin' to go and it was locked. Open 8am-8pm. WTF?!?! When did that happen? Stupid.
Plenty of time to high tail it back to Winter Park for the remnant's of Orlando Runners Club Sunday 700 run. I pulled in just in time to chat briefly with people I'd seen before but had never met. I swear, ever since my RBF run at Bluff Point I am more inclined to just walk up to somebody and say hello. Four of us started off on the scenic run along the brick streets, canopy oaks and high end real estate homes. We just chatted away running and running. They were a little slower than I like but it was a good way to conserve strength in case they were going really long. (I hadn't asked. I just ran.)
We stopped at a few cold water drinking fountains and Gatorade coolers and at one juncture Tim turned back to the avenue and we were three. When the subject of distance came up, it was to be 10 or 11 miles. I said let's go. Oh yeah. It has not been since early June that I'd run that far but it didn't seem like a strain.
After awhile Jack (71 years old) said to go on without him. He didn't want to slow us down; so Chris and I tinkered with our paces and moved out. It felt great. My left shoe was a little too tight but I ran through it. We did 10 miles and, after cooling down, I was ready for some pancakes and bacon with coffee back at the house. Mmm. Dave's Weekapaug blend. Not a bad start to a Sunday. I hope yours was fun.


Hot As Blazes

The weather.com folks say it's 87 outside and FEELS LIKE 99! That pretty much describes it. I just came in from a sunny 4 mile easy run that ran my HR up to 148. I felt okay and appreciated the occasional breeze, however, it felt like 99! Arghh. How I wish I was in Rhode Island again this weekend where it's a pleasant 79 and sunny - perfect for the beach. Down here I can't even get to my beach of choice because the access roads are closed while the space shuttle sits on the pad within three days of launch. I hope it goes up Tuesday so I can go over there next weekend.


Up the Tempo. Drop the Pace.

Hard Run tonight. Despite less sleep than I thought I could survive on, I pulled off a very fast paced tempo run tonight. I haven't broken my stay-up-late vacation activity pattern which has made me very tired in the morning and driven me to run in the evenng when it's usually pretty hot. Nevertheless, I felt very promising sensations in my body when I started out tonight. My lungs felt very clear and able to work at a rapid cadence. My legs were loose and holding strong efficient form. My toes were grabbing pavement. My shoulders were high and pinched back in a pose of confidence. Maybe it was the exhibitionist in me - short royal blue running shorts, no shirt, deep dark New England tan, long hair flying, etc. Hey - it's a motivator.
So I popped round my route at an 8:03 mile pace. Looking at my pace chart for tempo runs since February the time has dropped every month: 8:44, 8:32, 8:29, 8:20, 8:13 and now 8:03. That was surprising to me. No wonder I feel so good.
My weight? Another curiosity. I usually pork up on vacation but I held steady, maybe for all the running with RBFers. Now I've dropped another 3 pounds and am down where I was in April when all hell was breaking loose in the school district. Maybe the trepidation of school opening in less than three weeks is starting to gnaw on my nerves. Or, more likely, it's something else on my mind.
At least the running is rewarding. Now I need a race to target.


First Day Back

Here's a last look at vacation.

The first day back to work was a slow one. The work was slow but so was the clock. At lunchtime I realized I had nobody to eat with. After two weeks of constant companionship with any number of people, I was sitting in the office garage wondering where to go and who I could ask to join me. It was a pitiful moment. Mind you, I don't want any.
Lunch made me sleepy too. I nearly dozed off in a riveting budget meeting and thought it best for me to wrap it up early on Monday and get home by 600.
Amazingly, it was a rain-free day with a rare breeze. It was good enough to go running, in my mind, so I did just that. I hadn't run on my own in long time so the pace I ran was my own too. A little fast; a little slow. I battled through the heat and humidity, feeling strong enough to keep a hard pace which surprised me. I also realized I was dehydrated quite a bit from flying the day before. Nevertheless, I came home and did some chores, had dinner, looked at vacation pictures again and fell in bed around 12, still stuck in my vacation time mode. A few hard jolts of caffeine may be necessary to get me through Day 2. We'll see.


No Time to Spare

Vacation is winding down far too soon. I do not look forward to going back where I live. This place is home. I will remember the last several days for many things including two good runs with friends. That doesn't usually happen for me in Florida.
Thursday I returned to Bluff Point with Susan and we ran the river route to the beach and then took the path up by the bluff and high into the woods. While only a 3.6 mile run it reminded me again how much pleasure can be had on a trail run. The running is mostly the same but the scenery makes the time and miles pass with texture, color and light play.
Saturday was my last beach day and I met up with Susan, Jeff and Karen in the sand and rock parking lot at the beach. We set out our chairs and blankets to reserve space for later then took off just as the fog lifted for a 4-mile circuit from the beach to the Shore Road to the ocean/pond breachway and along the ocean drive to the parking lot again. We managed negative splits despite the heat and humidity. When we hit a fog patch every now and then, the cool misty air was a great relief. After cooling down and a bottle of water we all dove into the ocean waves for a refreshing full body cool down.
What's next? Back to Florida tonight and higher humidity, hotter heat and horrid hurricane threats. What more could I ask for? Many new goals need to be set very soon. Wish me luck.


RBF Bluff Point Picnic Pics

2005 RBF Bluff Point Picnic Run

Tuesday dawned as every other day: the sun came up and the world was pleased. On this particular Tuesday, however, a branch of the Running Blog Family was more than pleased; they were darn excited because they were anticipating their first family get together, at Bluff Point near Mystic, CT.
Susan and I drove down from Rhode Island. The Running Chick and Sarah came down from upstate. Bill, our host, brought little Jake along with his trail bike (and training wheels).
A few photos were taken as we loosened up and waited on Bill and Jake to arrive. He gave us a coach's preview of the trail ahead and then we were off.
The trail was wide enough to jog two by two, ran mostly flat and often times rocky with a few swales here and there. To me, the woods were reminiscent of times long ago when I ran in similar Nutmeg state woods. The river on our right peeked at us every now and then and, finally, after a mile and a half we were at the beach on Long Island Sound.
We glided along at an easy pace so everyone could chat as we jogged, talking about other bloggers, past and upcoming races and strange but true stories about ourselves. Dianna was a little self conscious about how much skunk stench might still be in her running gear. Running in her draft I was able to report no evidence of her dog's late night encounter.
At the beach Sarah, Dianna and I looped higher up into the woods while Bill, Jake and Susan tracked back to the car park. Helping little Jake along the trail on his bicycle was a bit of a strain on Dad so getting back took almost as much time as what the three of us took up in the woods. We did pick up the pace a little, maintaining the slowest common pace - mine, and continued to share stories and observations.
As we came out of the woods, we were welcomed by the sight of Bill starting a fire and Susan setting out all the fixings for dinner. It was a vision that made me smile with a joy and expectation. We spent the remaining hour or so of sunlight eating and hydrating, taking more pictures, relaxing and getting to know each other. I had a great time and would recommend my new friends to anyone who comes to Connecticut. The state is not so big that a visit to an adjoining state should rule out making an effort to contact them for a fun run. It would be worth it.


Dodge Car Race

Have you EVER?!? More about that question later.
The New London Sailfest 5K ran this morning. I surrendered my urge to race and committed myself to the joy of coaching Susie along to another sub-30 minute time. She did well as you can read over there. Do not presume she was any help in finding the lost car key......
How was the race? It was hot. It was hilly in spots which was NOT included in the route description provided by authorities in advance. We paid premium $$ to register on race day and they ran out of T-shirts. This for a race of 250 people. Now, that may be tolerable but have you EVER been in a race where the police do not control traffic? I mean, REALLY!! We ran the entire route through downtown, dodging late-to-church grandmas not too pleased that us heathens were clogging up their highways. I feared for our lives a time or two and counted my blessings for the race organizers in Orlando.
What else .... one water stop - on the wrong side of a four lane road with live traffic. No timers or mile markers. Am I whining? Darn tootin'! Well, they did have lobster roll sandwiches as a post race snack.
The best part was that Susie finished strongly and held back the puking thing. I told her that means she's getting close to her current fastest speed and is just a couple of good training weeks away from breaking 28 minutes at the 5K distance.
We run with more Nutmeg RBFers Tuesday night so stay tuned!!
That's all folks!


Vitamin D Returns

Susie contemplates the water.

The sun returned to my vacation after a 4-day holiday of its own. Susie and I ran at the first glint of sunshine this morning. I went five miles and pushed her hard for three. We race tomorrow in the New London Sailfest 5K. I am very enamored by the idea of racing in new places.
This afternoon was a day at the beach because it's what we do on vacation. Tomorrow after the race we'll be right back here. So please allow us our space. Notice how unpopulated the beach is. It was empty from where we were for about a mile eastwards.


Running Out

Running soothes the soul so let's get a schedule down here: Saturday will be a short 5-miler around the colony.
Sunday morning's dawn will be full of sunny skies in the 70s, perfect for the New London Sailfest 5K. Sunday aftenoon will be beach weather to die for so long as there's plenty of drinking water on hand.
Monday may be a day for sailing- that must qualify as an acceptable cross training.
Tuesday night will take me back down to Mystic for the RBF Fest at Bluff Point with Susan, Jank, Dianna and now Sarah. Woo hoo is right! I'm packing extra batteries for the camera and looking forward to seeing my 5th dimensional friends.


RBF Encounter

Susie and I met Jank tonight for a run in Rhode Island. Who says you can't trust people you meet on the internet? Jank is a first rate member of the RBF community and has a mighty fine bike too, in case you haven't been reading about it. I saw it. Very sweet.
We had a nice 5K run along the course that Susie and I raced on Sunday. Jank gave it his approval. Afterwards we sat for a beverage and to talk about all you fine people out there who comment on our blogs. Keep up the good work - commenting and running. You're doing fine.

Jank and Susan meet in Rhode Island.


Summer Anthem

Is this what I'm talking about!!!

I thought I was a little more mellow. Must not be eating enough clam chowder.

Your Summer Anthem is Holiday by Green Day

Hear the sound of the falling rain
Coming down like an Armageddon flame (Hey!)
The shame
The ones who died without a name

Dude, you're harshing everyone's summer mellow.


Racing with my Heart Hanging Out

I couldn't wait. I talked my sister into leaving for the race site 30 minutes before it was supposed to start. We were there in two minutes and nobody else was there; not even the race organizer. [Hey it's a fun run with no more than 40 racers and 20 walkers!] I went off for a 10 minute warm up while A. played with her 3-legged dog who was going to walk the race with her.
When I got back the crowd was assembling. Instructions were given to those who'd not run or walked the route before. I was over at the water cooler trying to dilute last night's gin and tonics.
Damn; there's the start and I was not there. So I took off starting behind ALL the runners with the determination to make this a very fast race. It was not a crowded field so passing was a breeze. I blew by everybody except the eventual winner to set a crisp pace. I pissed everybody off who knows me. They thought I was showing off, maybe. Fact is, the last race I ran I PRed after five years of trying which convinced me that 5Ks are sprints and if you don't have it at the end you don't have it all so you better start fast if you want to score.
So I was flying down the shady cool downhill first mile and anticipating my usual competitors would reel me back in. That I passed J. in the first place was worth the entire race. He ended up beating me by 90+ seconds with a bad hip but that didn't matter. He's always been the Masters champ and I actually had him within catching distance if only his hip would break.
A guy and two young 'pace setting' ladies passed me who I tried to keep up with. Nobody else could reach me and I finished 5th among the men, 8th overall. My time was a remarkable 24:44 which was a 4th best time for me at that distance (7:57 miles). Remarkable, because there was constant grade to deal with - up or down.
Susie had some pace helpers to get across the line in 28:40 which smashed her PR by almost two minutes. Yes, Susan of the 'I am so out of shape and can't even finish' category. Whine whine.
Post race for me was a lovely breakfast on the patio of the Inn next to the start line with a girl I dated 35 years ago and haven't seen since. She was joined by her very intriguing husband and daughter. My sister entertained us with stories of working from home and being on the frontier of IT research. The rest of the day involved some very tedious sunning and gabbing on the beach with all our friends from when we were kids. It was a marvelous reunion of which you should all be envious. If you ever have the opportunity to reunite with the friends and companions of your youth do not pass up the opportunity.
Happy 4th everybody.


Race Shelter. Harbor no misgivings.

I had the long conspired good fortune to see Susan today and go for a jog on the course that we will run tomorrow morning. She, being less than a week removed from moving is pleading for mercy and forgiveness if she fails to break 30 minutes. The way she ran this morning I am hoping the extra jog today will help bring her out of the rusty state she's been in. Cross your fingers for her.
I, on the other hand, was toiling too but when we got to the beach I took one look at that long clean expanse of low tide beach to run on and I took off without warning to run down to the breach way and back barefoot. My knee issues have gone away. The challenge of barefoot beach running renewed my confidence in secure muscle groups in my foot, ankle and knee; so I am pumped about tomorrow's race. My PR on the course is 25:40 but I'd like to push it down to something under 25:20. Cross your fingers for me too.
Many of our old time (from childhood) friends are here including some I haven't seen in 35 years. Our cohort will be well represented in the race tomorrow. I'm hoping for no worse than 2nd place among my peers.

Tuckered out taper

With all the vacation planning and stressing over getting work shipshape before heading north I lost my drive on the road when running. Today I went out for a <4 mile jaunt and actually found myself slowing to a walk for 150 paces TWO times. I mean I was going 9-10 miles two weeks ago with no trouble at all. Plus my knees are starting to talk to me. They have been so good and quiet and cooperative for months and now they're yacking and complaining like Mia used to.
Well, who cares? None of you should. They're my problem and my problems simply make yours so much easier to tolerate. "At least he's not perfect anymore!" Ah, the joys of rubbernecking car wrecks.
Anyway, I have arrived in Rhode Island. I am prepared to jog/walk/run/streak/jet along the race course for Sunday's big race tomorow morning. I will go through the paces with Susan who has already been reminded of what it is we have here. Now that I am here, I look forward to finding the same pleasant place of mind that makes us who we are. I expect to see long lost friends and others I see regularly each summer. I look forward to a run with Jank next week and I definitely want to work something out to run with Dianna and maybe the other central Connecticut RBFers. How sweet it is.