Cliff Walk

Today I had a flashback.

Back in high school, Junior and Senior years, I had math classes for fifth period. Fifth period was always a dangerous time for me – long enough after lunch that food coma was starting to kick in, not close enough to the end of the day to have the bus as incentive to stay awake. Plus, I was good at math, and generally would work through the book in the first couple of months of class.

So, come springtime, I was bored out of my tree during fifth period.

The math classroom I’m thinking of was in a late 60’s vintage public school – low cinderblock buildings with lots of windows, and radiators along the wall. In early spring, the heat would still be running through the radiators to knock the chill off in the morning, but by afternoon, the windows would all be open to let in the breeze. With the windows came the sounds of birds playing, the sweet smell of freshly cut grass, and the coolness of the breeze.

Even better, I sat in the back row, right along the radiator. By fifth period, the sun was just beginning to come in through the window, at a shallow enough angle that I could lean back and have my whole desk in the clean light, leaving the rest of the room a dark nothing, the teacher drowned out by the hum of the radiator, and the distant rumble of the lawnmower trying to keep the honeysuckle from overrunning the schoolyard.

In other words, it was hardly my fault I’d spend most of the class dozing off, waking up only when called on, and irking the teacher to no end by being able to solve the problems on the board even when roused from REM sleep.

Today was one of those days at work. By about 3, there was no way I wasn’t going to leave early and get in a run. So, I did.

Waffled for a bit over where to go, and finally settled on the Cliff Walk. Parked at First Beach. Excellent choice – the student body of Salve Regina was out in force, with finals behind them or in progress. THe breeze was blowing, the birds were singing, and the sun beat down on my ears. Like yesterday, I set out sans anything battery powered, and ran.

Ran down to the ABC. Ran up to the Cliff Walk. Ran the cliff walk. Past Ruggles. Past the section where they’ve newly installed handrails, narrowing the path and taking away the tantalizing threat of being dashed on the rocks below (stupid lawyers). Ran the big rocks. Ran past the furthest I’d been before, and decided to run to the end.

Great choice. The miles just passed beneath my legs, and the parts where I had to scramble on glacier scoured rocks … well, they rocked.

Finally made it to the southernmost point of Acquidneck Island (Sorry – not quite the southernmost, but the farthest south on the peninsula with the spectacular mansions). The last mile before I headed back, there were college guys on rented bikes – looked like they were having a blast trying to go all singletrack on the hybrids. Proving again that the bike is an amazing machine, dependent largely on the rider.

The run back was interesting – Spent a decent time wondering if I were completely lost. Luckily, I wasn’t, and I rolled back to the car after about 7.5 miles.

Which is good – even with missing Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, I’m within spitting distance of 20 for the week. Didn’t swim or bike, but hey? Who needs the QuickieMart?
Continue reading Cliff Walk

Long Run Thursday

Man – Last night was one of those nights where everything’s about as close to perfect as it could possibly be. I got out of the office at a decent hour, had a great chat with a friend, and made it home in time to get the yard mowed.

For the record, that’s twice for the year. I know someone is going to give me grief. But, if 30 minutes pushing the mower gets me a week’s worth of happy wife, it’s a burden I’m willing to share.

After I finished the yard, there was still a decent amount of twilight left, and Hey! I was all dressed to run, and sweaty to boot. So I headed upstairs, told the boys G’night, told the wife I’d be back in time for “My Name is Earl”, and headed out to do my bit to try to be a better person.

Dunno what it was about last night – maybe it was just the results of my unintentional “taper” (I hadn’t run/biked/swam since Sunday), maybe it was just residual stress from work (he he!), maybe it was just the full onslaught of a 70 degree sunny day after two days of rain (Check out Seth Dillingham’s post. Or, maybe it’s just that I’m a runner…

In any case, I headed down towards Old Mystic, and, given the choice between River Road and a 5 miler, and Main Street on the Stonington side of the river and a longer-than-five-miler … well, Ladies and Gents, I took the long road.

No iPod. No Forerunner. No HRM. Just shoes, shorts, socks, shirt, and the music of Spring Peepers filling my ears.

Ran through Old Mystic. Ran past the hotels and resturants right off the interstate, hoping to snag folks tired of sitting in traffic on their way to Cape Cod.

Ran past the Cemetary, and wondered if it would be respectful or not to go wander about on a warm spring day, thinking about the people planted there and their roles in building my community.

Ran past the fried seafood shacks working the bugs out of the fryers for the summer.

Ran past the tumbledown wharves and piers where the people in the cemetary built the ships that carried American commerce around the world.

Ran past the Seaport where they’re trying to keep those skills alive. Saw the guy who runs the planetarium getting out of work for the evening. Wondered briefly if he marks the end of generations of navigating with the stars in an era of satellite navigation and GPS watches. I tried the celestial thing, and other than being able to find Polaris at night, and tell east from west during the day, I’m lost.

Looked across the river on a still night at slack tide and wondered if the people living in the town reflected on the water wondered about those of us living in the air.

Ran across the drawbridge and thought happy thoughts of hearing the whistle at 40 minutes past the hour from now until the end of October.

Passed the ice cream shop. Thought about stopping.

Passed the coffee shop. Thought about stopping.

Passed the pub. Was pleasantly surprised I didn’t think about stopping.

Ran up River Road. Had the debate with myself over how to go home. Passed another runner, and decided to take the long way home.

In Old Mystic, about mile 7.5, I broke down and walked a bit. Not due to being in pain, or really being out of breath. In hindsight, I don’t know quite why I walked. But I did.

Ran the last half mile, including the awful hill. Walked in with the smug sense of satisfaction that a good, long run brings.

Showered, shaved, sat on the couch with the wife.

All is well with the world.

Semi-hiatus again

Sorry y’all – Life is exciting for the next two weeks. Heck, life is exciting almost every day.

Regardless, I’m wrapped around the proverbial axis until further notice. Apologies in advance. Good stuff, though.

T-Ball practice was the greatest. 7 kids, mine was the most ornery. We’re sponsored by a funeral home. Not sure if we’ve got the black t-shirts – kind of hope so, out of morbidity. But, again, reading the kids was the key to a good practice – they get squirrley when they’re bored. Great parents, too.

Worked out a bit…

Friday, I made it out for the run to the Gazebo. 46 minutes; I’m getting slower as the month progresses. But at least I’m out there.

Billy rides again

On Saturday, I finished what is likely going to end up being the most expensive wheel change ever. Yes, boys and girls, I put knobbies back on my mountain bike. After t-ball practice, I headed out on the trails in the neighborhood. I’d hiked it a bunch, and had thought that it was too (steep, rocky, excuses, excuses) to bike on. For sure to tough to ride on my ancient Trek 930 – hard fork, hardtail.

I was wrong.

There’s not a huge space, but it’s cut through with trails by the kids with dirtbikes and four wheelers. Never thought I’d appreciate them, but they’ve got a great eye for terrain. None of the climbs were straight up grades, the turns were all good, sweeping turns. And, most surprising to me – they’d largely avoided the boggy areas. Good stuff…

So, I steer off of the road, onto the trail, and line up for the first obstacle – a pair of 6″ limbs across the path, about 10′ between them. Shouldn’t be a problem, right?

Well, it shouldn’t, but it’s been almost 5 years since I dropped in on singletrack, and the last time landed me in the hospital with a snakebite. Like, from an actual poisonous snake. I hesitate momentarily, forget to unweight the front wheel, and endo. How sweet is that?

Pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again. I cleared them on the second try.

The rest of the ride rocked – Connecticut singletrack at its finest. Plenty of babies’ heads and roots. Not a single bit of level ground in 100 acres. The beauty of approaching gloaming through the trees. I fell a couple more times, and headed back to the house fat, dumb, and happy.

Epic Run

Sunday Afternoon, we did our usual Family Swim at the Y, with Missy hitting the gym while the boys and i stave off hypothermia in the pool. On the way home, I tried another new route – cutting through Pequot Woods to add a couple of miles of trail to the run home. Talk about getting my butt kicked…

First, there was the climb up Baptist Hill out of Mystic on Route 1. The hill just keeps going, and going, and going. Then, there’s a steep downhill to the south end of Pequot woods, followed by one of the roughest trails I’ve run (Though I’m sure it’s similar to what Dianna eats for breakfast). The trail – uphill, too.

Finally, it’s over the top of Cow Hill (THe one that ate Warren’s lunch at the end of our epic), with a little bit more heading up Lamphere at the stoplight, instead of straight down to my street. Over the tip-top of Cow Hill, down Oslo, past Freeman Hathaway school, and another third of a mile of trail, and I’m spit out.

As icing on the cake, one of our neighbors who I haven’t met yet is out raking. I stop to shoot the breeze, and she lets drop that her daughter is of babysitting age. Woo Hoo!

OH – Due to fortuitous circumstances, the engagement that had me missing Bluff Point is being pushed back a month or so. With the addition of a babysitter to our bag of tricks, it looks like both Melissa and I are going to race. She’s doing 3.6; I need to register for the 7.