Sunny Day and Cliff Walk

Oh, yeah, baby – today was 50’s, and ended up sunny. I waited to run until the afternoon, and was not disappointed. Since the weather was impeccable, I figured I’d head over to Newport’s First Beach and run the World Famous Cliffwalk.

The surf was huge! The parking lot at First Beach was packed with folks in wetsuits trying to catch a little winter surfing action. I had a buddy in Sub School who swore up and down that the only time that New England was worth surfing was in the dead of winter – today I think I may have believed him. I don’t surf, though. There was a break off of whatever the end of Middletown is, too. I hadn’t seen that during the summer.

Dig the size of the rollers:

Tons of runners out, looked like most were from Salve Regina, and almost all were wearing shorts. And there was still a bunch of snow on the walk:

I always dig this building:

The tiny black dots on the waves are surfers. The water temperature cannot be too much above freezing. Wetsuits are, apparently, wonderful things:

Big waves for New England. And, yes, that is France in the background. Way, way, way in the background – That’s what I love about the sea – pick a direction and go. When you hit land, get out.

Again, not really enough zoom, but the waves exploding off these rocks was spectacular –

This was the view at the turn at 2 miles out. I had thought a 4 mile round trip would turn at the point just to the right of the big house. But I was wrong. And not sad at all…

This one? Nothing but nice shapes and colors.

Most of the Cliff Walk is pretty easy to run on. This is not as bad as it looks. I channeled Chris and called it Plyometrics. Then I said “Screw that – I’ll just call it Fun.”

For a decent stretch (tenth of a mile?) I ran atop the retaining wall so as not to get my shoes too much wetter. Again, this was filed under “Fun”. There have been a couple times, though, coming around this corner on the wall where I feared that a wind out of the west would push me down to the rocks. Not today. Today? Perfection.

This guy was waiting to catch some waves.

Back where I started

I thought this would be cool – a series of footprints in the wet sand, what with the reflected colors of the sky and all. Didn’t work out so well.

This one was much nicer.

Run stats? Who cares? (actually, I do – 4 miles, sub 9 minute miles). Positive splits, but who cares! I think I was still a bit drained from my trail run on Monday, and the mud blister was acting up a little. Wednesday is swimming.

All the pictures link to larger images. They were all taken with my $60 Oregon Scientific camera. And the group is also posted to Flickr. If you’re into that sort of thing. Any quality issues are strictly due to me not breaking stride while shooting. Got to love the tiny camera.

Brand New Week

So I think I’m over the whole “fiasco” of not upping my mileage last week. Weight this morning was on the light side of 179, and that’s after being not so good food-wise over the weekend. No machine or convenience store candy – the Lenten vow is still intact. But we did Pizza Saturday night on the way back from Ikea in New Haven, and Sunday night was Steak and Mac and Cheeze (AKA make everyone happy night). But the weight is heading the right way. Yippie!

One of the side effects is having the areas of fat really start to stand out as my muscles get back in shape. I swear it’d be not too hard just to, say, lop off a butt cheek and drop 5 pounds without affecting endurance at all.

Oh, sorry – was that too personal? Sorry.

Great run today. Sort of. It was supposed to be a rest day, but after making yesterday an unplanned rest day, I figured I ought to get ahead for this week. I had a meeting in Newport in the morning and in Waterford in the afternoon, so I said “Hey, let’s do a quick lap at Bluff Point between meetings.” Another aside – I’m currently in euphoria stage as far as running is concerned. My love affair is peaked since I’m back at the point where I set a reasonable goal that’s got some zazz (lap of the state park through the woods; run down scenic road), I accomplish it, and I feel reasonably good while doing it.

Anyhow – today was grey

and muddy

Yeah baby.

My Forerunner doesn’t like Bluff Point – much like the XC ski trip, it died about halfway through. I hadn’t charged it again, so I can’t really blame the gear. Rough stats are distance closer to 4.5 than the 4 I thought it was in about 50 minutes. The first two miles rocked! I was flying, keeping my feet pretty dry, and having a blast. Then, I hit the really, really squishy mud (would have been great if I were running through my garden – good mix of humus and inorganics, nice and black). Some of it got into my shoe – I have a mild blister on my left instep.

Favorite mishap? The puddle of water I thought was about an inch deep was about 6 inches deep. Melt water is awfully cold.

Great run overall. My shoes are a wreck

Funny Feeling

Saturday was another milestone day – I did the route I’ve been meaning to do ever since we moved into this house. Left the driveway, ran to Old Mystic, hung a right down River Road, ran towards downtown on the Groton side of the river, hung a right up Cow Hill Road. Over the hill past the fire station and back to the house. Wonderful. Oh, and forgot to mention the 1/2 mile of trail run. Beautiful.

Tough, tough run – from River Road up Cow Hill Road is pretty much straight up hill. Ouch. Especially after three plus miles and the long run on Tuesday.

So I took today off.

In hindsight, I’m kind of disappointed – I ended up with the same mileage (give or take) this week as last week. But I think it was the right thing to do – I do not want to end up sick, I do not want to end up injured, and I’m still on track mileage-wise for building to a 20 mile base.

Small Changes

2005 has been a year of change not only fitness-wise, but lifestyle wise, too. I’ve always been able to get by based on testing slightly smarter than the average bear (not that I actually am, I just learned to guess “c” earlier than the rest of the kids taking the SATs). The folks over at 43 Folders have been godsends, and I’d like to share a bit that they posted on Wednesday:

        •         action almost always trumps inaction
        •         planning is crucial; even if you don’t follow a given plan
        •         things are easier to do when you understand why you’re doing them
        •          your brain likes it when you make things as simple as possible

They finish by focusing on what’s become kind of my mantra: Small changes stick. That, and the secret is progress.

Still Sweating

From this afternoon’s run. Banged through work (and lunch with the boys – I’m down in Waterford today) and hit the access road loop near the office at 4 PM. Beautiful day – a bit on the cold side, but I ran without a hat or jacket and didn’t feel I was going to lose any limbs.

I really like this loop. Starts off with about .2 miles downhill, then about a half mile on a pretty steep hill. Next half mile is downhill to the turn under the interstate. Once under the interstate, it starts a nice, gradual three-quarter mile climb that (hooray!) gets steeper near the top. As I’m typing, I’m imagining that it’d be a cast iron bear on a bicycle… The last bit is pretty flat over the overpass and back to the office. It’s scenic – the highway is behind either brush or a small berm most of the way, and our complex is about the only construction on the access road. There’s a bunch of scenic New England Stone Walls (TM), trees, and a field in which there are ALWAYS Odocoileus virginianus grazing.

(n.b on stone walls: I swear you can’t walk 200 yards in any stretch of woods up here without tripping over one. But I laugh because every stone in the walls is a memory of a Puritan farmer uttering a four letter word as yet another rock came up under his plow. Not that Puritans are funny or anything, but because I continue to harvest a new crop each spring.)

Anyways, today’s stats are 3.3 miles in 27:43, an 8:26 pace.

I finally got around to reviewing the Forerunner from Tuesday’s epic, and was shocked. I’ve been riffing on “Finish Strong” for a while, at least in my head. Dig these mile splits: 8:49/8:32/8:34/8:07/8:17/8:07/7:45 (Last is pace for .2 miles of downhill) The course was out-and-back, the wind was a cross wind, and it’s not more uphill either way. So the splits represent nothing but pure joy.


Mark’s been pushing syncronicity for a while. I wasn’t buying it until I read his entry today about Emil Zapotek. One of the quotes he gave was “It’s at the borders of pain and suffering that the men are separated from the boys.”

Which echoes yesterday’s post on one of the turning moments of my life.

Sign me up.

I is an engineer – I can count

So I’m sitting here tonight wondering why the evening’s swim took almost a complete hour to do a mile – a set of 5 laps of breast stroke to warm up, then four sets of ten laps of freestyle, then a set of five laps of breast stroke to cool down.

(A nautical mile, that is – 2,000 yards. 2 kilometers for y’all north of the border types.)

Then I add it up and realize there’s an extra thousand meters in there. Crap. No wonder it took so long. Go figure. Good thing I’m long past being paid to do math upon which people might live or die. Mostly now, I just deal with money.

Wow. I feel much better now. Tonight’s swim was another microcosm of my life. Warmup was great. The first set was in-frickin’-credible. Dunno what it was, but every stroke was stretched out, straight arm and fingers close together just like a canoe paddle cutting through the water, the kicks were powerful, rhythmic, and straight-legged, and the flip turns were quick and powerful. Probably I shouldn’t have stopped to catch my breath after ten.

The second ten were painful. White boy got no rhythm. Knees were flailing, arms splashing, breath gasping. Just ugly. Third ten were kind of better – started bad, but I concentrated on improving one part of my stroke with each lap – first my left arm, then my right, then breathing, then straight-legged kicking, then pointing my toes, etc, until the last lap of that set felt smooth.

The final set – zen. Focused on the tiles slipping by underneath, took a breath as soon as the cross at the end entered my field of view, flip-kick-twist-stroke-breathe. I counted half-laps: 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1. And I finished strong. Good stuff.

Pimpin’ for some old friends

If you’re down in the Houston area and interested in cycling, you could do a whole lot worse than to ride with the CC Riders. Their big gig is riding the Houston-Austin MS 150, and they do it up right – big tent, refreshing beverages, and interesting people. I cannot recommend them highly enough, and hold a special place in my heart for Ish and Cynthia. Aside from my actual family, leaving this community of cyclists was the hardest thing about coming back to New England.

In any case, they all rock. And the MS Society does a bang up job for a disease that can strike anyone at almost any time in their lives.


I’m not Catholic (big C – though the church I go to does do the Nicene Creed and honors the “holy catholic church”, meaning all Christian believers), but I dig the idea of introspection and self sacrifice during Lent.

So for this Lent, I’m giving up eating crap. No more food out of the gee-dunk (say it out loud, first syllable high pitched, second syllable low) machine, no more food from convinience stores, no more pre-packaged cookies, etc. I’m not giving up candy – high quality chocolate is still OK – or dessert – again, only the good stuff. But what I am giving up is the sort-of tasty; the convinient, and the deadly.

The produce aisle at the local groceries is my new snack-food stop.

Amen, and amen.

Sage Words

When I started Officer Candidate School after 4 hard years of drinking beer and chasing women, I was soft. As in soft and over weight, soft in the belly, and soft in the head.

I was also going into a “kinder, gentler” Navy; one that was recovering from Tailhook, adopting to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, and moving women onto fighting ships of the line – Destroyers and Cruisers. As such, the Navy’s training commands had instituted the “Training Time-Out” – any trainee, during any evolution, could bring their participation in the evolution to a halt by calling a TTO.

The first or second week at OCS, I was getting worked pretty hard by one of the Navy Senior Chiefs who were usually the “good cop” to the Marine Corps Drill Instructors. I was soaked, panting, had limbs trembling from exertion, and was pretty much done. So, seeing as how we’d gotten a dozen or so briefs detailing TTO procedures, I called one.

The Senior Chief immediately stopped yelling at me, and ran over to me. “Son, I need you to look deep in your heart right now. If you’re calling a Training Time Out because you really need help, if you are in actual, honest to god pain, then just let me know and we’ll have all the help you need in a heartbeat.

“But damnit, boy, if you go through with a TTO because you’re experiencing some discomfort, even serious discomfort, then God help you, ’cause I’m never going to let you get commissioned.”

It was at that instant that my OCS experience became transformed; that I realized that all the shouting and sweating and exertion was stripping the fat from both my psyche and my body. And at that instant, I felt lower than I’d felt in the twenty-one and a half years I’d lived to that point. I dropped back down into push-up position, and the Senior Chief gave me a little more personal attention until I couldn’t push no more.

Since, I’ve seen much the same point made in a lot of training books – with exertion comes some discomfort, and even serious discomfort might be just a result of serious training.

But pain is another animal entirely. Pain is a sign of something gone seriously wrong, and a reason to call off training and get attention.

I learned a lot about life that day, and more about myself. I did not like the guy who wanted to quit, and worked (and am still working) on keeping him out of my psyche.

Pshew. Back to running:

2 miles on Wednesday. Two easy miles on Wednesday.

And much discomfort as my legs worked out the residual effort from Tuesday’s six miler. But no pain :)