Tour de Jank 7/31

Melissa kicked me out of the house to go ride Saturday Morning. Wow. I love that woman.

Anyhow, I decided to go ahead and document the ride because – well, because I could.

Sticky is the operative word today. Not hot, but plain old straight up sticky. Hot might even have been preferable.

I headed down into Old Mystic, and started channeling Bob Roll again. “They’re in for some decent hills again today,” he said. “Oh, crap,” said I. There’s a hill just on the south end of Old Mystic that I’ve been avoiding. It starts near an old 1789 house that’s for sale, and climbs up and up. I was pleasantly suprised to find the boat below in a yard just at the base of the climb:

Fins. Like a Caddy. Wow. Just wow. Bobbke was in full force, and he and I were less than 3 miles out.

This, by the way, was the bottom of climb:

Yeah. Not only steep, but twisty. Not 21 turns of l’Alpe twisty, but not bad for no drive to hit the start of the ride. The view from the top, looking west, is below. Did I mention I love living near hills, even though they are kind of wimpy in the grand scheme?

Climbing this one heading east from Old Mystic is the way to go. It’s steep, but it’s not wicked long. The west-bound approach (coming from Stonington) isn’t that steep, but it’s super long. While I was flying down here, I could hear Roll “He’s out in front, but if he wants to stay there, he’s going to have to ride that bike like it’s stolen…”

This is the train depot in Mystic. Not really ride related. But I’m pretty pumped to live in a town with a real train. Everywhere else I have lived had nice stations, but hadn’t seen a train in decades. Well, ‘cept for Battle Creek – got to see Reagan’s ’80 whistlestop tour behind the library in downtown. But I was still in elementary school.

The drawbridge, however, was ride related:

I was about 4 cars back when the gates went down to let this boat through (I liked, btw – looked like efficient hull; there was more of a wake from their dinghy). But all the cool cyclists head up to the front of the line, so the first across the bridge get to wave at the folks who were held up on the other side first.

Last bit was this dory – I’ve been watching it for a while, and just really like the lines:

Sorry, forgot about these fellas:

They’re on the river road, and randomly cross, holding up riders, joggers, walkers, adn cars. At least they’re tasty.

To answer the Running Chick’s Questions:

To hook another nutmegger up:

1) How long have you been blogging about running?

Here – for a couple of months. But on my circle of friends blog, I’ve been posting about running for about 15 months. I moved the running to this page since the other was getting a little more political. I’m a Reagan conservative (no wishy-washy compassion attached) with a pretty wide libertarian streak; most of my buds are pretty liberal in the good, old school sense. I wanted to be able to keep this from getting lost in the wash. Running transcends party lines. I also didn’t want to bore them (Though there are a couple of other runners – Becky and Matt did the Austin Marathon again this year.

2) What was the first running blog you stumbled across?

Sean Lloyd’s site

3) What made you seek out running blogs in the first place?

Inspiration. When I was an instructor at Sub School in Groton, it was great to have about a dozen guys with whom to run on a regular basis. When I got out of the Navy and moved into the real world, no-one in my office in Houston ran (or would publicly acknowledge it – sports involving sweating or alternative transportation are kind of taboo in the land of the interstates). Moving up to New England made road sports much safer, and I was able to con a friend into running with me, but it’s nice to keep up with others.

4) What is the best advice you’ve been given thru your blog?

Keep at it.

5) Do you feel that the running blogs (yours and others) have helped you in your quest to become a better runner? If yes, please elaborate.

Yes, if for nothing but the encouragement. Let’s face it – the key to becoming a better runner is “Wake up, slap on shoes, pound out miles, wash, rinse, eat, sleep, repeat.” Knowing that there are others out there repeating the same process is priceless.

Jamestown again

Stopped on Jamestown Island and rode again on the way into work. Wow. Just wow. Every turn’s another water view, and there’s enough small rollers to make it a really good workout. There’s also extremely light traffic, and very nice shoulders on most of the island’s roads.

The wildlife was out in force – I almost hit so many rabbits, I lost count. Then there were two deer, and even a coyote at the entrance to Beavertail State Park. Don’t know why, but they always make the ride better.

The best is that I parked both today and Wednesday at Fort Wetherill State Park and was able to take a quick dip before heading to the showers. The Atlantic’s a cold, cold ocean this far north. Bracing, to say the least.

Back in the saddle

Christian and I headed out early this morning, rather than doing the traditional lunch time run. We left from his house, headed south from the bridge along Newport harbor, through downtown, and then went up the hill at Memorial, turned around and ran back.

Chris is still working on pacing somewhat, and I kicked off at a too-strong pace, mostly because he kept hanging on every time I sped up and wouldn’t tell me when I was going too darn fast, or fall off at all. Add that to the fact he’s got long wheels, and I’m sucking wind immediately.

Eventually, we settled down to a reasonable pace, and had a great early-morining jog. As I rounded the hill to head up Memorial, I look up and see another runner a block ahead of me. Darn – small dog kicks in, despite my efforts to stop it, and I catch her just as we get to the last block of the hill. So in order to avoid looking like an jerk, I have to turn, run to the next block, and turn again instead of just turning around and running past her again.

Good run. Felt great despite the double ride yesterday.


I was a complete and total slug last week. Didn’t do squat.

Today, I was back with a vengence. Jumped on the bike and did 10 miles on Jamestown Island on the way to work. Phenomenal ride. I parked at some state park that used to be a fort on the east side of the island, just south of Jamestown, and rode to another state park that used to be a fort at the southwest end of the island. Beautiful, small rolling hills, lots of ocean views. Very nice. The best part was a long false flat on the southbound leg. I was able to sustain almost 30 mph for the better part of 2 miles, and for a brief instant hear Bob Roll in my head saying “Jankowski is flying! Must be driving towards the beer at the other end!” (Yes, going the other way sucked). But nice early ride.

Then, on the way home, I parked at a soccer field just off 138, and rode the north half of the island. Minor gripe – the map indicated that the road the parking lot was on cut all the way across – in actuallity, there was a resevoir and 138, so I had to add an extra 4 or so miles.


I’m still grinning.

Week Update 7/19

Good week last week. Ran Wednesday by myself, and then Thursday with Christian. Thursday’s run was one of the best I’ve had in a long while – felt really strong, and it was an incredible day. It’d been raining all morning, but when we hit the turn-around point, the sun came out, and it was nice and warm all the way back. Chris is making great progress, and I’m soon going to be the one getting dropped by him. But till then, it’s a perfect application of the small dog theory – he drives me to keep going.

Didn’t do anything this weekend except for move 4 yards of dirt on Saturday. I was going to build on the swingset today, but we drove over to Old Saybrook for some furniture and pizza on Saturday and picked up a screw in one of Missy’s tires. So the boys and I went to get it fixed this afternoon while Missy caught up at work. My back thanked me.

But Saturday was exceptional.

Back to running – today’s tip is one I’m stealing from Galloway’s Book on Running – Christian and I were pounding up the hill on our way back into NUWC, and I noticed he was trying to keep his stride the same length while running uphill. I pointed out that he was having to do a whole lot more work with each step that way, and that it might be easier on him to take shorter steps on the uphills. It feels funny at first, but ti works. Think about it – you wouldn’t ride a bike up a hill without kicking it down into the small chainring and big cog (unless you’re a singlespeed junkie), why keep it in high gear when running uphill? So Chris downshifted, and was still going strong when we hit the top of the hill instead of crashing as soon as we crested.

Good book, Galloway’s.


Tuesday dawned wet, rainy, and cold.

So I blew off running till noon. Hmm, still raining, and still in the 60’s. I’m in a quandry now – back in Houston, running in July in the rain would have been completely and totally cathartic. In costal New England, it’s painful. So, I blow it off until close of business.

Close of business, I finally decided to hit the road. And it sucked.

First gripe: I’m still hurting from Saturday’s assault on the perimeter road. But that’s just whining. Summon up image of Staff Sergant Hyler, United States Marine Corps and scent of cigarette and coffee breath way back in Pensacola and trudge on.

Second gripe: There’s a reason sailing’s popular in Newport – there’s always great wind in the afternoon during the summer. Blowing in my face all the way out.

Last gripe – it’s raining, and with the wind and the moderate temperatures, it’s too cold to run without some sort of wind breaker. However, the windbreaker turns me into a sail. Plus, when I turn around, it’s a tad warm without the wind.

Ah well.

The small dog syndrome struck right as I hit the turn to head back with the wind (~ 2/3 of the way through the run due to having mostly quartering winds on the first two legs). As I crested a hill, I saw two guys running at a very leisurely pace about 200 yards up ahead of me. Crap, I think – I’m mostly spent, don’t waste energy chasing them.

Yeah, right.

I recover while fighting into the wind, make the turn, and suddenly, I’ve found a new reserve of energy. Very nice. I pass the guys with a “pardon”, and kick it just a little bit more. About an eighth of a mile down the road, I sneak a peek to see what’s going, and see that one of the guys suffers from small dog himself, and he’s dropped his partner and started chasing. He’s about 10 yards back. I’m aching, and for a minute consider dropping a little speed, but ultimately decide not to, as I’m almost to the end of the run.

So I kick it a little more, and finish strong. All in all, a very nice run. I was also about 5 minutes faster than the last time I ran the loop.

One last whining note: I think I’ve caught up cardiovascularly to where I was the last time I ran. I am not feeling winded any longer, which is nice. I am, however, at the point where I am stressing my muscles, so the nice nagging soreness that I’ve learned to associate with continued running is back. Sounds bad, but I’m really kind of happy with it. The only thing that needs to kick in is the accelerated weight loss.

Woo Hoo!

Ah, another drill weekend, another assault on the perimeter road. Saturday was absolutely the perfect day upon which to run. Seventies, sunny, little to no wind. I’d been looking forward to running the perimeter for a couple of weeks.

The perimeter is a set of two-track back through the woods along a fenceline. Back in the day (all of a couple of years ago), it used to be just dirt and gravel, but some of the steeper sections have been paved to make it easier to drive on. I’m not sure if that’s a blessing or a curse for running. On the one hand, it’s easier to keep footing while plodding up a 20% grade (I haven’t measured it, but my guess is that’s not an exaggeration in some places) on asphalt than on loose sand and rock, and it’s definitely easier than avoiding erosion ruts after it rained. On the other hand, I think it’s a lot harder on the knees.

In any case, I was able to talk a couple of the guys in the unit into doing the perimeter for afternoon PT. Two of the guys, I knew, were fit, and were going to drop me about the first chance they got. Another one of the guys was just coming back from having his knee rebuilt, so was going to turn back before we got to the actual trail. The last guy was kind of like me – used to run a lot, but was about 20 lbs up on his “fighting weight”, and struggling to knock it off.

So we set off.

Running with Christian really has been good for me speed-wise; I was up, feeling good, and got asked to slow down by the group more than once. We hit the first hill, and yep – the fast guys dropped me and Bob like yesterday’s news. Ouch.

I haven’t been able to make it all the way up the first climb since I started running again. Last month, I blame it mostly on the three immunization I’d gotten that day, but regardless, I was psyched up to at least make it all the way up the first hill. Add that to the “small dog” syndrome, and I was motivated somewhat fierce.

In any case, I ended up making the entire perimeter trail, or about 3 miles total of pretty tough running. I had to walk a little on the way back to the gym, but most of the walking was downhill. Good run.

(I did feel it something fierce on Sunday, though)