Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Muddy End to a Muddled Season: Cambridge Half MudFest

Cambridge Half: The last Medal of the Season

I don't have much to say about this race.  I wasn't fully prepared; I wasn't recovered from New York; I wasn't trained to really run fast.

The fourteen hours leading up to the Cambridge Half the sky opened with rains of near biblical proportions.  (Not really biblical; but it rained a lot).

The two weeks leading up to the Cambridge Half I ran only 6 miles; having run 26.2 miles on two Sundays before.

The two months leading up to the Cambridge Half my training was weak at best.

Five months before the Cambridge Half I had my seizure running to work and haven't quite gotten back into any groove since.

Alas, with my muddled summer and my muddled training, this race was not going to be good. 

It wasn't it fast; but I did kind of enjoy running through the mud and through my town.  If I had started out slower and ran for fun from the beginning, I might have enjoyed it more. 

Coming off the Lars Anderson at Harvard
Photo by Joev Dubach

But now I can close the door on my tough 2016 season. 

November 27th launches my #Mission26 - 20 weeks to Boston Marathon.  I plan more strength training.  I'm taking the 30 day challenge for improved running form.  I plan to lose a few pounds.  But these are all pie in the sky plans right now.  My legs are still stiff and sore from New York and Cambridge. 

Hopefully, I can find that groove again;

hopefully, Baystate Marathon 2016 wasn't the end...

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

26.2 Quatrains of Doggerel: NYC Marathon (11/5/17)

Cool Medal with my middling pumpkin beer at Baker Street

Race: New York City Marathon
Goal Time: 3:12:00
Actual Time: 3:29: something

Upon the black asphalt road we huddled,
As first elite women ran t’ward Brooklyn.

We waited in the rain for our turn in,
Dressed in matching yellow, me and Tuttle.

Then camouflage clad sent a cannon boom,
While Frank aloud sang: “Start spreading the news,”
And up the Verrazano Bridge we flew
Finding our own area, pace and room.

Descending America’s longest bridge
I was running easy but way too fast;
This pace could not continue nor long last,
Down the easy steep pitch into Bay Ridge.

Into the borough of trolley dodgers
I ran first into high fives from Declan
Then further on those of papa Brendan.
Someone was flying the Jolly Roger.

And now us Or-ange joined with Green and Blue
The first hill we would climb was here on Third
Unhuman crowd like a wildebeest herd
Migrating en masse up Fourth Avenue.

My pace was still keeping an even keel
No trouble yet from the humidity
My stomach had yet shown acidity
Indeed this may have been the best I’d feel.

Somewhere in Brooklyn was lost in the mix
Another sixteen hundred meters flat
Where there was either or both this and that
But I cannot recall mile number six.

Suddenly I heard someone yell my name
Then to the left I was forced to swervey
For there was Kathy and my wife – Urvi
For a moment I was the Run of Fame.

I slid across the road from Left to Right
But on the left I heard some cheers: Who Dat?
Jumping up and down were Megan and Matt,
Raised arms as if victory was in sight.

Tuttle and I at the start

In Flatbush a band played a song catchy
With its bongo break it had made hip hop
Carrying me briefly from start to stop
Ran with my mind thinking of “Apache.”

Up the road as narrow as Tourmalet
Thru wild crowds to left turn in Clinton Hill
With another look and shout ‘nother thrill
Seeing Jason cheer where Jeremy stays.

These cheers took and lifted my spirits high
This may have led me to run too quickly
For my stomach turned and I felt sickly
There in Williamsburg I puked on the side.

Cheers dulled to quiet in Hasidic ‘hood
Ignoring race going about the day
They allowed the runners on their own way
Ne’er looking up from their phones tho they could

And into the last section of Brooklyn
Before the Newtown Creek that makes the joint
We ran by the cheers of Poles in Greenpoint
Past the flags toward Queens I kept pushing.

Over the Creek to Long Island City
Is carried by the bridge named Pulaski
(Not as famous as Dave’s New Jersey)
But upon the halfway point is pretty.

Mile 7 in Brooklyn

Off the Pulaski another borough
Down into the town of Shea and Bunker
For only a mile in Queens we hunker
Another trip must to be more thorough

Over Roosevelt on the Bridge of Sighs
Quiet as church mice alone and desert
The day’s humidity had soaked my shirt
I felt that tell tale burn within my thighs.

Off the quiet of Queensboro’s skid
And onto First in the center of town.
The Bronx is up and the Battery’s down.
As if: “Springfield’s that away!” “Thanks kid!”

Into the East Eighties, First carried me.
I had to keep working and not relax
But then I heard a roar behind from Max
Sadly wife was there but I did not see.

When I thought it was time to run faster
It was exhaustion I began to know
Thru the cheers of East Harlem barrio
Alas of marathons, I’m no master.

Over the Willis Ave into the Bronx
I heard my name, just like cherry cola
It was SRR’s first chair viola
That dragged me through an early round of bonks

Once away the djs sounds faded
My queasy stomach turned and growled again
I hurled on the side finding no trash bin
And onward I continued unaided

Back into Manhattan on Fifth I ran,
Circumnavigating the Garvey Square
Developing dreaded hundred-yard stare
Hoping I could stop as soon as I can.

At Mile 17 with point of approval from Max

The park was lovely and fearful sight
I cannot say that I was not forewarned
That this hill is a bull and I’d be horned
But I tried to put up a mighty fight

But farther South into the Ninety streets
Was the mountain I had not been apprised
Its steepness and length became my demise
I had been bullied and I had been beat.

The next to last mile to myself I talked
Per Mark whom I had not seen nor heard.
Of what rabble I know not what the words
But ‘round the boat house I began to walk.

Out on fifty ninth and cutting back in
To Central Park I fought myself to run
It was not fast and no it was not fun
That final mile I took on the chin.

So, Three and a half hours was my mark,
Have to walk miles out of Central Park.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Downeast Brew-Vay: Portland Express 200km (6/17/17)

Kennebunk Bicycle Company

Ride: Portland Express 200k
Location: Woburn, MA -> Portland, ME
Distance: 128 miles
Time: 10:36 (PR!!)
Pivo Index: 6

I awoke at 0 Dark 30 at the Woburn Holiday Inn Express.  I could already hear the hustle and bustle in the halls as riders prepped for the day ahead.  After Pop-Tarts and two k-cups of Green Mountain Coffee, I stumbled my way out the door and into the hotel parking lot.

The 42 people registered for the ride got our cue sheets and brevet cards. Right before 4:00 am, we got our safety briefing. 7 of us were doing the 200 km from Boston to Portland; the other 35 were riding Boston to Portland to Boston (400 km).  

We rolled out of the parking lot and toward the Pine Tree State a little after 4.  It's always darkest before the dawn (is it?), so I stayed back as the laterne rouge through out the first 2 hours, just getting my bearings.  

Not a Monet,
The morning light with condensation on my lens 
Clipped-In in the Clipper City

Last year I had attempted this ride.  But the night before I had bent my rear rim in the rain in Winchester riding to the hotel. I ended up abandoning my ride at the Newburyport train station - only 30 miles in.

Oddly, that wasn't the first time I had done something like this.  In 2013, Corey and I were riding the CRW Spring Century and I hit a Grand Canyon sized pothole at about 25mph - popping both tires and bending the front rim.  Corey and I bailed from the ride at the Newburyport train station.

This year, when we hit the Newburyport train station, it was a double milestone.

First, I made it a quarter of the way through the ride without a major problem; and,

Second, it was now my longest ride "clipped in."  For many years I have cycled with flat pedals. This year with a half ironman on the horizon, I finally followed the years of advice from almost every cyclist I've ever talked to and got clip-in pedals and shoes for my road bike.  I followed that up weeks later with one side clip in, one side flat for my touring/commuter.  The Portland 200km would be my first attempt at a long ride with clip in pedals.

Now as I made the left onto the Clipper City trail, I left both the possibility of a Commuter Rail ride and the without clips ride behind.


Clipper City Trail, Newburyport
 Coasting New Hampshire

The first contrôle was the Dunkin Donuts in Salisbury - the last town in Massachusetts.  I wheeled into there at 6:35.  With some coffee and a sausage sandwich, I was ready to ride.

New Hampshire has 19 miles of coastline and we rode pretty much all of it.  It was still cool and the only people out were surfers and those walking their dogs.  From Seabrook to Portsmouth we got some great ocean views on flat easy roads.  It was a great way to enjoy that period where the legs were finally waking to the level the head had been for a few hours.

As we went into Portmouth, I briefly thought about hitting up the Portsmouth Brewery - then I remembered it was 8:00 am.

Arr... the Sea looked angry, New Hampshire

Entering Portsmouth

Bridge to Maine

The Maine Drag

Across the bridge into Kittery (apparently the "Maine's Oldest Town"), it's mile 57.  We rode west of the coast and into a flat bit of woods.  The sun began to peak out from the clouds and the road started to dry out a bit.  I caught myself cranking out some speed.  (Slow down, buddy; there's a whole lotta hockey left).

The second contrôle was mile 69 and the Nubble Light in York, ME.  I cruised out of there and around the north side of Cape Neddick - where we stayed for last year's Tour de Cure.  The temperature had climbed to a point where it was uncomfortably cool.  I didn't want to take off my long sleeve but I wanted to take off my long sleeve.  I would roll up the sleeves only to immediately be freezing.

Into the Woods

Nubble Light, York, ME

After slow going through brunch traffic in Ogunquit, the route headed back inland.  As we rolled our way into Wells and Kennebunk, I started getting deja vous.  I realized: these are the roads we battled the Zephyr last year!  I was back on the Tour de Cure route.  The winds were much calmer, however. In Wells at Mile 88, I stopped at a gas station to refuel water and gatorade before heading out to Kennebunk.

I stopped at the third contrôle at mile 97 - Kennebunk Bicycle Company - for merely a couple of minutes.  I knew I wanted to push onto Biddeford where I planned to stop at Banded Horn Brewery.

In the process, however, I teamed up with Luke.  He had to get something repaired at KBC and was now getting back on the road for the 400 km.  He and I had a good conversation discussing brevets through the next 10 miles.  I left him once we were in downtown Biddeford; as, I headed to Banded Horn for a mid ride flight:

Smokey and the Banded - Nice light IPA with a hint of smokiness;
Norweald Stout - big flavored chocolatey stout - highlight of the flight;
Veridian IPA - A good well-balanced IPA; and,
Greenwarden - Piney APA with spruce tips.

On my way out, one of the girls from Portland Pie Co awarded me a cookie for my Cookie Monster bike jersey.
Flight at Banded Horn

I might have spent 75 cents on Double Dragon...
Banded Horn

Ride Bike; Eat Cookie

From Biddeford I only had 20 miles left.  I realized I could probably PR the ride with some effort if I averaged 16 or 17 mph the rest of the way.  I figured even on tired legs, I could do that for 20 miles.

Right at Mile 117, however, I had to slow down.  The next 4 miles were the jewel of the ride. First was a mile down Rte, 9 and then 3 on the Eastern Trail within the Scarborough Marsh.  Between the salt water and the sea strand, the beauty of the marsh and the vibrant (not quite deep forest) greens were sights and smells that made the first 116 miles almost meaningless.

Scarborough Marsh

Scarborough Marsh
Once out of the Marsh, there was only 6 or so miles left to go.  At first, I was going to try to speed through the last section of suburban South Portland.  But, I realized I had done my maths wrong earlier and had plenty of time to get into Portland for a PR.  Additionally, 400 km riders were now coming toward me on their way back to Boston.  I gave them acknowledgement and, hopefully, encouragement.

Concern started to seep in after a few miles as I wasn't seeing Portland.  Then there was a left turn and WHAM! I'm on the Casco Bay Bridge.

After crossing the bridge and a quick climb out of the Fore River, I rode up to Ohno Cafe to complete the ride.  Boston to Portland!

Portland from the Casco Bay Bridge

Brevet Card

After signing and turning in my brevet card, I called Grant and headed over to Salvage BBQ for some brisket and a (maybe two) Mason's Liquid Rapture - a dangerously good and easy drinking Double IPA.

Mason's DIPA
Grant and I headed over to Thompson's Point.  To where they have moved the International Cryptozoology Museum and Bissell Brothers Brewing.

At Bissell Brothers I had the flagship The Substance, Lux Rye IPA and Nothing Gold (an incredibly delicious New England Double IPA)
Grant, messing with Sasquatch

Bissell Brothers

Kept forgetting to take pictures of full beers at Bissell
After Bissell, I headed over to the Amtrak to catch the Downeaster back to Boston.  (And 4 more miles of cycling from the North End to Central Square).

Moxie for the train.

Full Circle:
Downeaster in North Station

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Back in the Yak: Glen Dougherty Cup (6/4/17)

Somerville Road Runners - fastest team

Part 1 - 0.75 mile Kayak: 8:29
Part 2 - 5 km Run: 19:49

This is the third year I’ve done the Glenn Dougherty Cup – ¾ mile Kayak and 5k running.

In 2015, I took third in the Kayak portion but won the overall with a 18:31 5k.  Last year I had a blazing kayak but the kid who came in second beat me by 3 minutes in the 5k.  (Three Minutes – that’s half a mile).

This year I was hoping for better results in the 5k.

I got myself to the front of the kayak race, on the horn I hit it hard.  Getting from Zero to 5mph probably took 10-15 really hard pulls.  I thought I’d get to ease up and coast once I got to speed.  But it’s not like a bike; instead each paddle quickly dies.  

I made the big left out of the Broad Canal and out into the Charles.  Positioning seems pretty important at this point.  I looked up to see two major obstacles.  First is the floating dock that’s tied to the river’s wall, for (I don’t know what it’s for exactly); then is the Charlesgate Yacht Club.  The area is speckled with moored boats that belong to the CYC and accessed by dingy.  But at the Yacht Club itself is a dock with a building that is accessed by a bridge about 10 feet in the air.  

Your choices are pretty clear:
1) get to the right and avoid the whole thing, but this will add maybe 10-15% distance to the race;
2) get to the right of the floating dock, steer back left between two of the yachts so that you can get back next to the wall to go under the CYC’s bridge; or,
3) attempt the navigate the moored boats and yachts like they are an asteroid field. But, the chances of navigating that are 3,720 to 1.*

I went with option 2.  As the leader you have more choices.  I definitely heard people who took the inside on the turn needing to work to get back to the right as they approached the floating dock.

Finishing the Kayak Race
Photo by Urvi

I got through the bridge at the CYC pretty unscathed.  My normal spotters – Joe and Andy – weren’t there this year since they had a wedding to go to.  But it sounded as if second place was not terribly close – but I couldn’t tell.

I just told myself two mantras:
1) Borrowed from Leroy “Satchel” Paige: “Don’t look back, something might be gaining on you”; and,
2) Borrowed from last year: “Just Keep Paddling”

I made the tighter left turn into the Lechmere Canal.  Don’t look back, just keep paddling… oh and yell several times.  I came under the rope in first place and could barely move, much less paddle any more.

Spent after the paddle
photo by Urvi

45 minutes later…

I was still pretty exhausted and it was time for the 5k race.  I knew there were two guys from the kayak race to look out for.  And I knew there were 3 masters in the race to look out for. (2 years ago when I won the Glen Dougherty Cup, I also was masters’ winner.)  

If I wanted to double again, I’d have real problems with Rory in the field and Thor on his way back to speed.

I also had problems with my general fitness level – such as I didn’t have any.  The first 2 ½ miles of the race went to plan as I flirted with but didn’t go under 6 minutes in the first mile and then the next one was a 6:30.  And, I kept Rory in sight (if not exactly in “striking distance.”) But as you cross the railroad tracks at 2 ½ the “hill” starts.  Its not really that bad, but if you’ve pushed your upper body for 8 minutes and then your lower body for 15 minutes, it might as well be Alpe d’Huez.

At Sixth Street, Jason went by me; at Fifth Street it was Zach and at Fourth Sciarappa, it was Thor. This now put me at least 5th in the masters’ and that’s if there was nobody I didn’t know between me and Rory.  By the time we crested the hill at the Courthouse, I was spent.

I coasted and busted for 7th master and 2nd in the Glen Dougherty Cup.

SRR Shoutouts –
Deb and Rory won the masters F & M
Wendy was third master
Patrick and Roni were 4th & 6th overall
Somerville was the fastest Team
Spice was the fastest dog.

Spice tuckered out by her run
photo by Toledo Steve

* - Never tell me the odds.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Ride of the Navigator: Tweedo's Revenge 200k (5/20/17)

At Hanscom getting ready for the ride in my navigator's box
Ride: Tweeto's Revenge
Route: Hanscom -> Harvard -> Ashburnham -> Petersham -> Sterling -> Hanscom
Time: 11:20

GlobalCyclist is sleeping off the ride.  In his place, James the Monkey ~ who acted as navigator ~ is writing today's blog.

Prologue: Minuteman Ride 14 miles - Cambridge to Hanscom Field

Jesse woke me up waaaay too early, so he could could drink coffee before we left.  I didn't need to drink coffee.  Jesse also had eggs and avocado breakfast; I ate a banana.

Minuteman Bikeway
 Jesse rode us through the Yard and out to Arlington before we rode through a bunch of Minuteman related stuff: The bikeway and the National Park

At the Paul Revere Capture Site
 Leg One: A warm up 21 Miles: Hanscom Field -> Harvard

After the ride started, we went through the neighborhoods around Hanscom.  And then in Concord, Jesse took a bunch of people the wrong way ~ it's like some monkey was the navigator.  But then he got everyone going the right way.

Turtle Crossing, my roommates Stuart and Ernesto tell me to watch out for turtles crossing
We rode on without getting too lost again... maybe 50 feet once.  And then as we were getting close to the first controle, we stopped and said HI to Smokey the Bear.

Then, we rode to the first controle at Dunkin Donuts.  Jesse had some coffee and a cruller; I ate a banana.
Me and Smokey
Leg 2: Hills 30 miles: Harvard -> Ashburnham

Me, sitting in front of the Storybook House
After we left the Dunkin Donuts, then we had to ride over a bunch of hills.  There were fewer turns, so less chance of the navigator getting us lost.  There was the storybook house, we took a picture there. There was some like Jesse liked.

Lake in Ashby
Then in Ashburnham, I got to hangout with a cannon. The second controle was at Tweedo's at Mile 50.  Jesse ate some chips and one of the sandwiches he brought; I ate a banana.

Me on a cannon.

Leg 3: The Cut-off 22 Miles: Ashburnham -> Petersham

Good sign for a navigator
After my banana, I had to get us going again.  Jesse and I were doing the shorter ride, so I was supposed to make sure we didn't follow the 300k directions.  After about two blocks of going the wrong way, we went the right way...

We saw some alpacas on the way that I wanted to hang out with, but Jesse said he got pictures of them last year.  And then we had to ride up a lot of steep hills and Jesse used lots of words he told me I wasn't supposed to repeat.

The Route I navigated:

We rode into Petersham town square.  I hung out on the gazebo while Jesse talked with other riders from both the 300k route and the 200k route who were now converging.

Jesse had some potato chips; I ate a banana.
At Petersham Common
Leg 4: The Home Stretch 56 Miles: Petersham -> Hanscom

We were riding really fast.  Jesse said we could do the ride in less than 11 hours.  All we needed to do was make it over the three hard hills on Williamsville Road.  Then, we would ride close to Sterling where Jesse said we would stop.  But then the bike broke.  Jesse flipped the bike over (I climbed a tree to watch).  Jesse spent time trying to pull the chain out of the frame area, or something, and used lots of the words I'm not supposed to repeat.

He then got his reflective stuff on and ate another sandwich; I ate a banana.

In a TREE!!!

Pond in Harvard
After a long slow ride the rest of the way and night fell (and me NOT getting us lost), Jesse pedaled back to Hanscom field where Jake and some riders who had just finished were there.  Jesse got his card signed and we had some soda (and a banana), before Jesse rode us home where he had a couple of beers and I fell asleep eating a banana.

It was fun to go for a ride with Jesse.  But it was really long.  We spent all day riding round and round.  I liked navigating the directions (except that time I sent everyone the wrong way).

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Purgatorio: Wachusett-Purgatory Chasm 200k (4/22/17)

Pretty sure that's Avalon out there - King Arthur will be coming any day now.
Event: NE Rondonneurs' Wachusett-Purgatory Brevet
Distance: 200k
Goal Time: 11:00:00
Actual Time: 12:10:00
Miles on the Day: 156

A mini-epic poem for a mini-epic ride

(after Dante)

Down Mass Av'nue to speed my rapid course,
My little bike carried Jesse from bed
And soft pillows' sleepy magnetic force.
Valdez's magic liquor striking my head
Waking up through my personal prologue
Down empty streets to Bedford my bike led.

Calling to Calliope to unfog;
To Ghisallo to shake from poets' suite
The words from my mind and onto this blog.
At Hanscom did we all Randdoneurs meet
For the cuesheets,bathrooms and brevet cards,
Before off on two hundred k on streets.

Evan's Notch in my building's bike room - fully loaded

Away we dashed - red lights blinking as stars,
Amidst unearthly milky way of mists.
New Garmin -Virgil - would direct me far:
Beeps for turns to come and bonks for ones missed.
But new gadgets cannot drive untrained legs
And hills through Harvard/Bolton still exist.

Acton's Minuteman Monument - maybe the last time I saw another Randonneur on the road

At Lancaster those legs began to beg
Despite the route ahead and up did plow
The higher up, the lower in the dregs
I felt. As fog fell like a heavy shroud
Concealing the road to Wachusett Mount
Thus, literally, a climb to the clouds.

1392 feet - felt more like 13,920

Wheeling from the controle - forced to dismount.
Any speed downhill became empty boasts,
Surprised from the fog had to account
For eerie beasts appeared like gobbling ghosts
breaking the mists in unholy surprise
I slowed from speeding down to merely coast.

Below the clouds the sun threatened to rise
Flaming off rain and overcast amuck ~
But only peered translucent in the skies.
When that evil hiss of tyre flat struck
I was forced in cold drizzle and damp mud 
To twist away a tube and get unstuck.

This is where horror movies start

In Grafton with Vet School and blooming buds
The road rose up toward the sky again
Fears of Wachusett began to flood
A muddled mind seventy miles atwain.
One long climb would bring me to the Chasm
Where it was easier I ascertained.

To Chasm

Hike into the gorge - iconoclasm - 
Was I the first to do upon this day.
Slipping on rocks and other phantasm
Thru canyon and o'er rim I made my way
To pavilion where Evan's Notch was parked
Awaiting me to trail Virgil's display.

Purgatory Chasm

The final forty-six was marked
By fewer hills and more flats; but, as night
began to fall and make yet further dark
I worried about cars and driver's sight.
Lights white and red returned for extra beeps
Making ahead less dim and l'il more bright.

Tired on a long day I want to sleep
Through Great Meadows - forest and bog - I flagged
With miles to go and promises to keep. 
Almost home and through Walden Woods, I dragged
O'er the hill that ere high as edelweiss.
Two hundred brutal k, from now I bragged.

On to Somerville and Seth's meatballs nice,
And Paul's coffee stout, earthly paradise.

Editor's Notes
 - I see what you did there
 - Is there any other kind of mud?
⋆ - Maybe you shouldn't try to rhyme chasm.
 - Not certain you wrote this line...

Other pics from the ride

Horse with a sweater on.  He appeared annoyed I was there.  (or she)

Apple Blossoms in the mist

After my flat, I thought about switching to these.

Fancy l'il bus

Playing around in the Chasm

Purgatory Chasm - detail

At mile 87 - odd sign on a Purgatory ride

Last stop to get on reflector vest and square away the lights.