Fleet rhymes with heat

So my brother calls Thursday night while I'm at the cookout. He's going to make the drive to Rhode Island (from Jersey) so that all the kiddies can be together with Mom and Dad one more time. It is a rare occasion these days and one worth the effort.

What do I do? I leave for Narragansett just as he is arriving. As the one who designated the meet-up spot for the RBFers at the Blessing of the Fleet Ten Miler I wanted to be sure I was there early enough to (a) find parking and (b) be ready to make cell calls with Plan B alternatives if logisitcs made Plan A impossible.

I got there plenty early and there was parking right next to the running track where I had picked the spot. Perfect. I sat on a rock under a tree and watched the running world go by. Late registrants looking for the sign-up site; friends finding friends; strangers making friends; a few lost souls in the wrong place (hey you - stop stuffing your face and get some exercise); runners jogging or running warm-ups (hey - save it. You'll need it later!), lines of hydrated runners waiting on port-a-potties, etc.

My compadres? None of them made it on time, an hour before the race. I worked the phones to check on progress and they were all "on their way." April Anne was the first to arrive looking all fit and fierce in her racing outfit. She is a few weeks into her Marine Corps Marathon training so she had talent and stamina in reserve to make a good show of this race.

It was a sunny day and quite warm and muggy. I'm guessing low 80s. No winds to speak of.

Billy J was next to arrive. He looked trim and good to go. Of course, his training has never been good enough to satisfy him and he bemoaned the fact that he hadn't run double digit miles in a long time. We waited for Michelle but time was running out. We had Scott, the official RBF photographer (closest breathing person available) to take our picture for the archives. After a few lighting issue adjustments, we had at least one good photo for the blog.

Race recap. With ten minutes until the race we headed on over to the start line. The gun sounded right at 6 p.m. It was more like a cannon; the ones they use to start sailing races. Within a quarter mile we heard Bondi Band Girl Michelle hail us from behind. She and two friends had been stretching nearby when they heard the gun go off. We all agreed to meet up on the right near the Tower at the finish line.

There were probably 2,500 racers this year. I saw a few bib numbers over 3000 but there are always a bunch of no-shows to any race. The start was slow. It took almost two minutes to reach the start from the back of the pack. I toodled the first mile in 9:58, just warming up.

Spectators were definitely of the party variety. Lots of folks were hosting cookouts in their front yards with music blaring, frosty beverages, and lots of guests. We were running in the direction of the ocean where I was hoping for a cool breeze. Every time we hit sunny spots I regretted wearing a shirt.

At Ocean Drive we turned south and ran by the driveways of coastline mansion "cottages." You couldn't see them so well for all the hedges but you knew they were nice. The road was also uphill-ish, hot and without breeeze. Traffic had been stopped in one lane and engine heat and exhaust were contributing to the taxing conditions.

At mile four by the state beach we turned west directly into the sun and up a hill. The next two miles were brutal. Arterial highway, hot asphalt, traffic, no shade. Uphill-ish. They had good water stop set-ups. It seemed like there was a table or a hose every half mile of the course. We needed it.

We turned down Old Pt. Judith Road near mile six and it was immediately shady and cool, quiet and peaceful. We were in the woods. Runners just pacing along. It was then that I found the need to relieve myself. I was sloshing a little too much and knew I'd be immediately more comfortable. Yup.

The rest of the race ran through nice quiet neighborhoods, back by the high school start, up and down more hills, and then along a narrow lane in bumper to bumper traffic to the finish line. With thousands of other people attending the Seafood Festival right at the beach near the finish line you can imagine how crowded it was.

I felt amazingly strong through the last two miles. With my Cliff Shot Blox I was stoked with enough glycogen to finish hard. My legs were just stretching it out as I picked off walkers and joggers all the way to the end.

Results. My splits were a little wacky but there's no accounting for what made them so. I was dripping wet at the finish and, despite the dry-fit wicking material, none of it evaporated in the next hour. I met up with AA and Bill in the vicinity of our planned rendezvous point. AA had smoked the course pretty good. Bill proved once again that you can do more than you expect, given the challenge. I think they were 3-7 minutes faster than me to the finish.

I gnoshed on a banana and drank more water as we looked for Michelle and friends to finish. She had been pretty adamant about getting to the free beer when it was over so we wandered to the beer tent and Bill and I indulged ourselves. It was quite refreshing. We stood around and chatted. I introduced them to a Rhode Island neighbor who found us. He had finished 25th in the race for the second year in a row; in 61 minutes this time, I believe.

We evenutally bumped into Michelle. We relaxed and shared stories. One of her friends bought some french fries that were sprinkled with salt. Man, did they taste good. I couldn't care less that they were fried in oil. I had to have some.

I have known Michelle to be a well prepared person. She always has a plan which means she always has a supply bag nearby when you need it. Her support team (family of friends) was there with her bag of essentials - facial wipes and a camera - so we posed for a clean official RBF post-race shot. You'll have to go to her site to see the results; but first you'll have to wait for her to enjoy a day away from Little Miss and Studly. She's chilling on the beach this morning.

Race Splits.
Miles 1-5 - 9:58, 9:20, 9:09, 9:20, 10:05 (47:52 out)
Miles 6-10 - 9:42, 9:46, 9:47, 9:24, 8:45 (47: 22 in) 1:35.14 net time.


Gosh, it's Friday

I have been just having a fantastic week and not writing about it. The weather has been perfect for the beach and since my laptop does not work there I have not been posting. Too bad.

I am looking forward to today's Blessing of the Fleet 10 Miler in Narragansett and the RBF meet-up with Bill, April Anne and Michelle. The race is at 6:00. It's hot and muggy today (by Yankee standards) but I am not concerned. It will be my first ten mile race so it's an automatic PR unlesss I count my Sunday morning training run times which were sometimes pretty competitive, depending on the running mates.

Vay-cay Rewind. We went to see my sister's new house - and motorcycle collection - in Exeter on Monday and had a great dinner at a former creekside water pump house built from native granite stones. It was aptly named the Pump House and was very comfortable and homey.
Tuesday through Thursday were lazy mornings followed by gorgeous beach days. Yesterday we went out for breakfast at a Belgian restaurant and had - what else - Belgian waffles. Last night we hosted a big cookout for all our friends and family down at the cabana.

I put in two runs on Tuesday and Thursday of three and four miles respectively. I felt obliged to taper a little in advance of tonight's ten miler. With Susie and new hubby David arriving tomorrow I am reserving a few more miles to run with them Sunday morning before we head back to Florida.

Word is there are no hurricanes waiting for me.


Crisp long run

I started the day with a 12 miler in what were low 60s cool conditions with an off shore breeze. I took the same route as last week, seeing more runners, two deer and more cars speeding to the beach. I stopped at Lamb's and charged a bottle of water on my account. That was better than carrying money.

After the run we took my sister, who lives here, to Dave's Coffee. She'd never been. I think she's hooked now.

As it was Sunday, we took the day off from chores and spent the day entertaining at the cabana and frolicking in the light surf. We walked out to Napatree Point, 1.5 miles down a barrier beach. The beach was full of beach-goers who had anchored their boats on the bay side and come ashore to enjoy the ocean. Napatree Point has an old gun emplacement from the Spanish American War out on the tip, guarding the Rhode Island side of the inlet to the Pawcatuck River. When I was much younger and the poison ivy was not as prevalent, we used to crawl all around and through that fort. The guns are gone but the concrete bunkers survive. No shot was ever fired.
Photos - Watch Hill lighthouse and schooner going by. Napatree Point sweeps out to point where fort is buried under overgrowth.


Full day

Today I managed to get Mrs. T up for an early trip to Narragansett. By 7:30 we were out the door for Cafe Americanos and bread crumb cakes at Dave's. Here's Dave's. They put in a smoothie bar and don't serve scones anymore but I discovered today that St. Clair's has them. We read the paper then headed east.

We got off at the Block Island Ferry exit --- signature site for my url --- and went down Pier Street to the middle school where runners were pre-registering for the Blessing of the Fleet Ten Miler next Friday night. They expect about 3,000 runners to traverse the mostly beautiful course that has a few miles of oceanside road with stately manses facing the water, some woods, a polo club, golf course, historic sites, a few hills and quaint Rhode Island neighborhoods. I look forward to the race with great anticipation.

We saw a ton of runners along the route. It must be tradition that on the Saturday before the race everybody registers and runs the course as a warm-up. After checking out where things were we went north along the coastline to sightsee. By 10:30 we were on our way home and to the paint store.

We bought more paint for the cabana and met my sister down in Watch Hill. We finished our Swedish color scheme with only the floors to do. Tomorrow we rest and admire our work. Laura M and family are coming down to admire it with us and soak up the sun and admire the boats.

I know a reader out there who has a weakness for boats so I took a few pictures for her. She also has a craving for Dave's coffee which got her salivating a few paragraphs ago.


Swedish summer weather

Really only Wednesday was bad weather up here and the forecast is excellent. Actually a little cooler. Yesterday and today were mostly sunny with a few late afternoon clouds. I plan to beach it both days this weekend.

Morning is the best time of all. I do not understand how people can sleep in so long when the sun is rising, the water still, the birds chirping, the light just right, and walkers and runners out for their morning rituals.

Our cabana has been in desperate need of a scrape and paint job so on Wednesday we went to the ACE store and bought more Swedish flag colors (yellow and blue). We scraped and sanded later Wednesday, painted ceilings yesterday and invited the friends to the beach today.
Little did they know (actually they knew) that we would be having a painting party. With the wind blowing as it was, inside the cabana was a good option. We're almost done. Maybe by Monday.

I ran 4.5 miles on the colony loop this morning. There's the Blessing of the Fleet Ten Miler next Friday night followed by the beer and seafood fest up in Narragansett. Word came today that Michelle will be there to run, as will April Anne and maybe Billy J, so we have a bona fide RBF meet-up race to look forward to. Bill was going to drop by today for a run but work washed that out.

I'm going up to the pre-race registration event at the Narragansett HS in the morning to make sure I get a shirt in the right size and to check out the course. I might even run some of it now that I'm thinking ..... hmmmmn.

Worked the yard hard the last two days too for the folks who are too old to do it anymore. It's almost four acres on the water and much has overgrown over the years. The yard guys only come three times a year and they only seem to trim it up neat. I am into pruning and major surgery to restore pond views and clear pathways. My tasks require a lot of debris removal. The folks are happy with that.

I saw Susie's folks yesterday. We didn't chat at all as we were in slow passing cars. It looks like they've done some work at their camp. Susie arrives next weekend. Hurray.


A turn for the worse weather

I skipped running Monday and Tuesday and went out today. I dilly-dallied for two hours before finally stepping outside into the cloudy conditions and high 60s temps. I had been by the Westerly HS yesterday to see about doing speed work on their track but it was locked up tighter than my running shoes around my ankles.

So I opted today for hill work and some tempo pace on the downhills. The colony has a grid of roads that have a perimeter total of 1.9 miles so I went around twice. Not too many folks were outside. Rain started to sprinkle down on me about a half mile out. It was light enough to not be a factor. I actually enjoyed it.

What was most alarming (or not) was that I was out there running and pulled my wrist up to look at the time and realized I was not wearing a watch. In fact, I haven't worn a watch in two days. I must be on vacation.

We had four glorious beach days from Saturday to Tuesday but today was rainy and it is forecast to continue through Sunday. This always happens when I come north of the Jeanne line. A stupid storm front stalls over New England and I have to read blogs/newspapers/magazines/books, go to movies, nap, do Sudoku puzzles and visit other vacationers and locals socked in by the weather. I can't even do the tons of yard work here at the family estate in this rain. (Well I suppose I could but that's not why I'm here).


Not so cool

All the Auld Guard is here and we had a big dinner party Saturday night at J&K's house. I went light on the beer so I could run this morning. I left Mrs. T at the party to walk home so I could slide under covers and get some shut eye. Is 11 late?

I was up at 6 and out the door by 7 on a 12 mile route down US 1 to Shore Road. Along the north side of the pond I stopped for water at the golf course then on and left down Winnapaug Road to Misquamicut. The official weekend beach headquarters was just coming to life as I jogged through at 8:15. I stopped for more water at the state beach pavillion and move on down Atlantic Avenue towards Weekapaug. I stopped at the snack bar/store that was once Lamb's and bought some water. I saw the toasted onion bagels and vowed to come back after the run.

I cruised up Fenway to Noyes Neck and back to the Shore Road and east to Shelter Harbor. It was hot out there. Really. I was not dripping like I do in Florida but the sun was beating down pretty hard.

Once home I rustled up the family and told them to get in the car. It was time to go to the beach and stop at Lambs for lunch and my bagel. I remember last summer being asked whether I wanted to pay cash or put it on account. This time I asked about the account business. For two weeks I can charge anything I want at the store (breakfast, lunch, drinks, etc.) and settle up when we leave. Now I feel like a certified summer resident. I just don't have a BMW or Range Rover rental car to put on all the airs.


Gone vay-caying

I am in Rhode Island. The weather is perfect. The water is gorgeous. The colors are vibrant. The sweet grass smells .... sweet. Dave's coffee house is hopping.

I put in a good four miles this morning in the early light while the rest of the world slept. Flying by familair places. Observing who is here. Who is not. Changes. Going to the beach very soon.

I ran 2x1600s on Tuesday that were fairly slow to pedestrian. Then yesterday, I had to go out for an easy four just to work off the work week edge that builds every time I go away. Making sure all is in order. Done. Done. Done. Take off.

I plan to run a lot while here. The cooler temps are encouraging. Whether I do will yet be seen. This place has a way of turning down your go-go engines.


Young and restless

They are still young and impulsive.

After the heroic effort in the race on Wednesday, Trevor fell victim to his love for fast engines on wheels. He signed up for a three-day 12-hour motorcycle training course (a good thing!). Clearly the Army emphasizes safety and training as a way of life.

He opted not to wear a pool helmet so he set out Thursday to buy one for himself. The plan was to buy a helmet, take the course and use his "cow" loan later in the year to buy a bike. He can't have wheels at West Point until next March.

He went to the dealer and got the helmet for free. Trouble is, it came free with a starter 600cc Honda street bike. Damn salesmen.

Now the bike will sit in my overcrowded garage for 4+ months waiting for him to come home at Thanksgiving to finally ride it (license still pending).

Running. I did 3.4 easy miles on Friday and 10 miles on Sunday in the heat. Sombody mentioned there were mosquitos out but they avoided me. I must have been too fast.

I have packed all the running gear I need for vacation and most of the other beach stuff I will want. The Narragansett Bless the Fleet 10 Miler is now on my dance card for July 26. I expect Billy J to join me and maybe AA will get down for the race that finishes with a seafood festival as the boat fleet bobs in the bay.


20 yards from the finish line, Army beats Navy (Marines) and Air Force by minutes.


Watermelon 5K

I saw him getting dressed. I watched him pack the ruck pack. I noted how he pulled straps down tight to reduce shifting weight. He grabbed his helmet, took the flag and headed for the car.

The four of us arrived at Mead Gardens for the Independence Day run about 7:05. A number of runners were doing warm ups on the street where we parked. Trevor started to pull out his ruck from the back of the car and the passing runners stopped chatting. They stared at this guy in a uniform pulling on his pack. I sensed they realized they were going to be running a different race today.

We posed for the running family picture before heading over to the start.

We stood around talking to a friend in the Navy and a mother with a daughter Trevor dated in high school and who now flies F18s for the Marines. Curious runners walked by as they saw the soldier with a race number pinned on his chest. Mrs. T took pictures on her camera.
The Race. There were 2,700 registered runners for the Watermelon 5K. They announced that it was the largest 5K race in the state today.

We started in the back, as much as I wanted to start in the front. I decided there might never be another chance to run with Trevor and Cole this way so we all stuck together. After our speedwork yesterday and getting a great massage from Hank (maybe more on that another time), taking it easy today was actually a good plan.

There were so many runners - so many one-time runners - that they had signs for pace miles. We started with the walkers and spent the first mile passing all of them and a good number of 10-minute pacers. Cole and I ran escort for the soldier although he hardly needed any assistance moving through the crowd.

We bobbed and weaved our way along to the first mile marker in 9:30. The people we passed were astonished to see somebody running in uniform, boots, kevlar helmet and full ruck and their comments reflected the same: "Holy crap," "He must be really fit," "Wow Dad; a Marine," "No son. He's Army," "Look at him," "That's why I'll never be in the military," "Thanks for your service," "Hoo-ah," Oooo-ah," "Good job brother," clapping, "Let's hear it for our soldiers" encouraging cheers, "Holy crap" more than once, etc.

The second mile lane ran aside the third mile return lane at one point and a friend/fan of Trevor spotted me and I pointed to Trevor. He hollered back, "Is that Trevor? Wow. Awesome. Go Trevor!" We passed an Air Force guy in uniform with a light ruck pack/no helmet. Then we spotted a US Marines guidon up ahead. We were gaining on it. The second mile took us 10:19.

In the third mile runners were quieter and you could hear the squeak of Trevor's ruck shifting slightly on his back. Several ladies sidled up to him and ran alongside just to feel his energy. Running 10 yards behind him allowed me to eavesdrop on comments from those who only spoke to each other. There was a whole lot of respect paid out there today.

We reeled in the Marine and saw that he was carrying the flag for a group of eight Marines running in formation but only wearing T-shirts, camo pants and boots. We passed them with a half mile to go. A band played military songs at the head of the final stretch before the finish.

Towards the end, the friend who called out T's name made his way back out on the course to run Trevor in the last 400 meters. He is a history and military buff of the highest order. Running with Trevor, he was smiling like he had just won the lottery. As they ran the last 100 yards Trevor turned on the turbos (he's always had a kick to ruin your day) and sprinted towards the line waving the American flag he pulled from his ruck, smiling like a champ.

We finished all together in 31:05.

In the shade of the park we washed down water and watermelon. We ran into a number of acquaintances and folks wanting to say hello. We took more photos and then headed for home.

The grill is fired up. Later - fireworks downtown from a high rise balcony over the park.
A fine day.


Turned a corner

Maybe it's because days are getting shorter now. We're heading towards the winter equinox. I can almost feel the chill in the air.

Training went well today. I went up to the track with Trevor at 5:30 a.m. There were no less than 50 people finishing their workouts. By the time we warmed up, the track was ours. Trevor did 8x400 and 1x800 with me at the end. He did pretty well for somebody who hasn't been training: 1:10 per lap; this from a guy who regularly dropped 2:03 800s in high school competition six years ago.

I did 5x800. No check that. I did 2x800 and 3x800 PERSONAL RECORD BREAKING repeats. Three of my five laps beat my previous best time of 3:37.9. The best lap and new PR is 3:36.

Coaching tip. After we finished Trevor gave me some coach talk. He observed my stride was short and my feet too tense. He told me to loosen up. Just like we should not run with tense shoulders and arms, he said to relax my ankles and throw them out there on each step. It'll save energy, lengthen my stride forward and promote more momentum moving forward. I tried it on the jog home and I found myself just motoring along. It was cool. I can't wait to try it in tomorrow's race.


Six months down. Six to go.

Son Trevor is home for nine days leave after spending three weeks at Air Assault School in Ft. Campbell. His report is that he has a new respect for those who wear their AA wings.

I asked him to come out for a run this morning with my usual crowd. Here they are on Park Avenue before we got all hot and sweaty.

Leave ends early next week as he goes back to West Point to take charge of a squad of incoming plebe cadets, some six years his junior. It will be his largest assignment of men so far.

The 10-mile run this morning was ever so slightly better than last week despite the ongoing oppressive summer heat. Maybe I am aclimating a little more.

Wednesday both boys and I will run the Watermelon 5K. We went by the Track Shack Saturday to sign up and Trevor got to run for free because he promised the race director he'd run in full battle dress uniform, combat boots, helmet and full ruck sack - with an American flag sticking out the top. He says it'll be a piece of cake. Maybe an 11 minute mile pace. He ran 12 miles in the hills of Kentucky last week in the same gear at Air Assault so this should be "easy."

I am looking forward to the short week (Wednesday holiday) and the 10-day countdown to our Rhode Island vacation. Possible RBF meetups with April Anne, Bill Jank and definitely a reunion with Susie.

Have a happy fourth!