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Downtown Temple,NH

Monday, December 29, 2008

Woodford (VT) Snowshoe Race

I headed out to Woodford, VT with Bill Morse for the 1st snowshoe race of the season (or is it the last race of last season???), the I Love Woodford 3.5 mile race. I'm not sure what 'drives' us to travel over 2 1/2hrs to race for less than 30 minutes but oddly we are not alone.
Jim Johnson has a nice write up on the race on his blog ( with links to pictures) so I won't repeat too much, although I will steal one of his pics :-)

Like most people, I wasn't sure what to expect with the first race. The few times I've been out were punishing (humbling) to say the least. After a fairly conservative start I decided to pick it up on the very first hill in order to get decent position going into the single track section (the rest of the race essentially). I got behind Abby Woods (eventual women's winner) and stayed there for most of the race, only passing her after I took her out right before the gated trail. It wasn't on purpose (and she helped) but the result was the same. At least I was able to beat one CMS runner/snowshoer today...

I haven't seen any results posted yet but I believe I ended up in 10th with a time of 27:50. I think styling Dave Dunham (what's up with the orange hair?) was the only 40+ guy ahead of me though. Overall not a bad day.

UPDATE (12/31) - Results can be found here -->Woodford Results

Monday, December 22, 2008

Be Careful What You Wish For

SNOW. Except for a couple of hours early Sunday morning, I think it snowed continually from about 2pm Friday until sometime late last night. I like snow but even I was getting tired of it.

I spent a couple of hours on Saturday clearing more trails in Horse Hill Nature Preserve (where I do about 90% of my snowshoeing). Made some decent progress, especially on some of my favorite trails. No running at all to speak of, mostly because it was too dangerous (poorly plowed roads, no visibility and a town full of stupid drivers).

Sunday wasn't much better (from a running point of view). I went back out to HHNP in the morning for 1 1/2hrs of snowshoeing and trail clearing and then returned again late in the day for another 1 3/4hrs of JUST snowshoeing. Very little running since I was breaking trails in knee deep snow (18-20"). The lack of running didn't make it any easier. Racing shoes are pretty much worthless in 20" of fluffy snow, but they do make great snow scoops as was evident with each step. Another 15 minutes out there and I may have chucked my Dions into the beaver swamp.

Today was a recovery day, tomorrow I'm back to training (hopefully a few miles on the road and a few miles on the snowshoes). Plenty of time to play since I'm off for 16 days! Woo Hoo.

PS: Care to guess what color blazing they use in most trails in HHNP? Look real close in the picture above. Hint: it's the same color as the stuff falling from the sky, in the trees and on the ground. No more hints.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Screwshoe Review (aka road test)

First, I have not and do not take credit for 'screwshoes'. Like everything else nowadays, I found it on the internet (so it must be true!). In fact, a quick search for 'screwshoes' and you'll find lots of blogs with very detailed instructions on how to do it, although it's not overly complicated.

I used #8 1/2" sheet metal screws for the entire shoe. Sheet metal screws are nice because they have a raised lip on the screw head which provides the bite on ice. If I were to do it again (and I might), I'd probably use 1/2" screws in the back half (heel) and 3/8" screws in the front half (toe). The sole is much thinner up front and you can 'feel' the screws (although they don't actually stick through the shoe into my foot). I did remove one screw from each shoe prior to running (beneath my big toe) because it felt like it might come through. In the end I had 13 screws in each shoe. I don't know what the magic number of screws should be but I'd guess somewhere between 10 and 20. Just be sure to place them in the lugs or thicker parts of the sole.

Since it snowed Wednesday, most secondary roads in NH are a mix of snow, slush, sand and salt with a little ice thrown in for good measure. When the road conditions deteriorate the value of these shoes becomes very obvious. You get a confident grip on pretty much all surfaces, especially up and down hills. So much so that I ran just as fast in crappy conditions today as I normally do on a 'normal' training day. Pretty much all that slipping and sliding (along with the shortened, cautious stride) that is typically a part of winter running can be mostly eliminated. They are a little noisy on bare pavement but not really annoying, but I did find myself jumping off to the side of the road a few times and running in the snow shoulder (I mean really, it doesn't take much to get me annoyed so better safe than sorry).

My recommendation: 2 thumbs up! It was worth the 2 bucks and 5 minutes of time it took and if you don't like them just remove the screws. A word of caution: be careful in the house.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Snowshoes or Screwshoes?

Our first measurable snowfall of the season fell today, a measly 3" to be exact. Not exactly a snowstorm but I couldn't wait to get out there and do 'something', but what to do?
I decided to take my snowshoes AND my screwshoes out to Horse Hill for some sort of trail run. I figured I'd use whatever was more appropriate once I saw the trails.

First, my shoes:

Dion 121 Racing Snowshoes

Salomon Trail Shoes (with 1/2" sheet metal screws for studs)

I went with the snowshoes (I just couldn't resist!). Come on, did you really think I'd pick the studs? Actually, it was a close call. Turns out the snow WAS deep enough for snowshoeing but it was a bit tricky navigating all the downed limbs and trees on nearly every trail. Horse Hill needs a lot of clean up to make some of the trails passable again.
I broke the first rule of snowshoeing right out of the gate: DON'T OVERDRESS. It was a chilly start (mid 20's) so I had a fleece and a Gore Tex shell. I knew a made a mistake after about 1/2 mile but I was too stubborn to turn back. Man, did I sweat. Next time...
Overall not a bad 'run' of about 4 miles. Just as tiring as I remembered too.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Winter Indoor Track

One of the benefits to living in southern NH is access to some great facilities. It also helps to be part of a very active running club (GCS). The two combined provide a nice change to the dark, cold days and nights of winter running.
Our coached indoor winter track session began last night at the Hampshire Dome in Milford,NH and will continue for the next 12 weeks. It's an awesome way to keep that speed up through the winter months.
Hampshire Dome is HUGE! It's a 94,000 sq ft indoor facility housing 3 soccer/lacrosse fields and most importantly an indoor track. I believe the track is 1/5 of a mile around and has banked corners (how cool is that), and it is fast (I thinks so anyways).
Gate City has 3 coaches helping out (Jim Stronach, Keith OBrien and Richie Blake), dividing up the members based on ability.
Last nights workout consisted of 10 x 400m repeats with 200m rest at 5k pace. Although the track is 1/5 of a mile, it is marked (with tape anyways) out for 400m, which turns out to be about 1 1/4 laps.
I was really surprised how well I felt considering I was only one day removed from back to back races on Saturday and Sunday. I felt strong the entire night and had an excellent workout, averaging 83 sec/400m for the first 5 repeats and 80 sec/400m for the last 5 repeats.
Jim Hansen was kind enough to pace with me for a good portion of the workout. Thanks Jim!
I'm already looking forward to next weeks workout...

Monday, December 8, 2008

Big Lake Half Marathon is Back!

It's official, the Big Lake Half Marathon is back on the calender for 2009. After hanging around on life support for a few months the good folks at Loco Running and NE Timing decided to give it life again.
Thank you.

And the Winner is......

Congrats to the Gate City Striders for winning the 25th annual Mill Cities Relay yesterday. This was our first Mill Cities win since 2000! Woo Hoo!
The light snow that fell most of the morning caused a few mishaps early on in the race and provided some slick roads for both runners and cars. By leg 2 most roads were fairly clear and running was much improved. Overall, a nice competitive day of racing. Complete results can be found here.

The top 5 running clubs were:
  1. Gate City Striders (99)
  2. Winners Circle Running Club (96)
  3. Merrimack Valley Striders (77)
  4. North Medford Club (75)
  5. Somerville Road Runners (62)
Here's how GCS placed in each of the divisions:
  • Male Open (2nd)
  • Male Masters (3rd)
  • Male Seniors (2nd)
  • Male Veterans (1st)
  • Female Open (4th)
  • Female Masters (1st)
  • Female Seniors (4th)
  • Female Veterans (1st)
  • Coed Open (7th)
  • Coed Masters (2nd)
  • Coed Seniors (2nd)
  • Coed Veterans (none)
Our team (Mens Masters) was 6th overall (182 teams) and 3rd in the division behind SRR and WRT, finishing with an overall time of 2:40:36 (5:56 avg pace).

I ran leg 2 (2.5 miles) for the 1st time. This leg is about as flat as you can get. Footing was fine except for the last 1/4 mile on the bike path which was a little snow covered. I finished up in 14:14 (5:42 avg pace), passing one team early on and then closely following the eventual Mens Masters winning team (SRR) the rest of the short way to the finish.

Here's a pic (courtesy of Jim Rhoades) of me handing off to Joe Donnelly.

Jim Rhoades has a bunch of pics on his site and I took some pics of GCS runners along the way. Enjoy!

Also check out Jim Hansen's MCR 2008 video on his site as well.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Mill Cities Relay

If you don't live in the Merrimack Valley (both Mass and NH) then chances are you've never heard of the Mill Cities Relay (MCR). It is an invitation-only event put on by the running clubs in the region. Presently there are 19 member clubs. Yep, 19 running clubs all in the Merrimack Valley region.
This will be the 25th year of the event (which takes place on Sunday, Dec 7th). Starting in Nashua, NH, the relay closely follows the Merrimack River before ending in Lawrence, MA, just over 27 miles later. The relay has 12 different divisions and consist of either 3 or 5 runners depending on the division. Most divisions do have 5 runners though. Below are links to the 5 legs:

Leg 1 - 5.6 miles
Leg 2 - 4.75 miles
Leg 3 - 2.50 miles
Leg 4 - 9.5 miles
Leg 5 - 4.75 miles

My club (The Gate City Striders) hasn't won the overall title since 2000 but has had a couple of 2nd and 3rd place finishes since then. I do like our chances this year so hopefully we'll be successful in 2008 and will bring home the trophy (and accompanying bragging rights).

I'll be running in the Mens Masters division with the following teammates:
Mike Wright
Mike Wade
Steve Wolfe
Joe Donnelly
Brian Crane
This is by far the fastest team I've been on so I'm pretty excited about our chances, at least in our division. Thankfully they were kind enough to give me the short leg.

Below is the complete list of clubs and how many teams they are fielding in each division.

Andover Striders 1 2

Gill's Athletic Club 2 1



Gate City Striders 2 4 2 1 2 3 1 1 4 2 2 3
Greater Derry Track Club 1 1 1
1 1

1 1 1 1
Greater Lowell Road Runners
1 1
1 1

1 1 1 1
Mystic Runners



Melrose Running Club 1 3 1
1 1

1 1 1
Merrimack Valley Striders 1 5 2
1 2 1
3 2 3 1
New Hampshire Athletic Alliance 1 4


North Medford Club 1

2 1

2 2 1
North Shore Striders 1 1 1
1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Sandown Rogue Runners


Squannacook River Runners 1 1 1

1 1

Shamrock Runners Club 2 2 1


2 1 1 1
Somerville Road Runners 1 8

1 3

2 2 2
Winner's Circle Running Club 2 4 2 1 2 2 1
2 1 2 2
Wicked Runners Club


Grand Total 17 48 14 3 12 18 6 2 20 19 17 11

Division key:
CM - Coed Masters
CO - Coed Open
CS - Coed Seniors
CV - Coed Veterans
FM - Female Masters
FO - Female Open
FS - Female Seniors
FV - Female Veterans
MM - Mens Masters
MO - Mens Open
MS - Mens Seniors
MV - Mens Veterans

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Still Makes Me Laugh

In June of 2007 I was in Utah with some friends taking part in the Wasatch Back Relay (180 mile, 24hr relay...think Reach the Beach but with bigger mountains). Actually 'taking part' is code for 'van driver' since I was about 6wks out from my latest knee surgery of 2007 (have I mentioned how much 2007 really sucked?). Anyways, the day after the relay a bunch of us decided to go for a hike up Sunset Peak near Brighton, Utah. Now this was near the end of June and there was snow everywhere in the mountains. After summitting someone had the bright idea of taking a beeline 'trail' back down to Lake Catherine. Of course the beeline was all snow and VERY steep. It turned into quite an adventure since most of my teammates were from the popular ski states of Florida and Texas. Take a look as Brian (white shirt, Texas) shows us how it's done, followed by George (Florida, orange shirt). And yes, that's me you can hear gasping for air in the background.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

2009 New Hampshire Grand Prix Series

Ok, here are the NHGP races for 2009. The series is supposed to be a friendly competition between NH running clubs but historically only a few clubs actively participate (Gate City Striders, Greater Derry Track Club and Granite State Racing Team). I think the other clubs are:
- Rochester Runners Club
- New Hampshire Athletic Alliance
- White Mountain Milers
- Monadnock Regional Milers
- Coastal Athletic Alliance

Personally I've only run 3 of the 7 races: Great Bay, Foothealth and Moose on the Loose and only enjoyed 2 of these. So who exactly picks these races anyways? 5/7 races have basically less than 100 finishers. Why not pick races most of us are already going to? I'm not sure I understand the logic of the selection process. Oh well.

My prediction for 2009: Greater Derry Track Club (GDTC) will win the series.

Great Bay Half Marathon- Sunday April 5th, Newmarket
  • 1,114 finishers in 2008
  • Yankee Timing
Foothealth 5K - Saturday May 2nd, Derry
  • 70 finishers in 2008
  • New England Timing
Smuttynose 5K- Sunday June 7th, Newmarket
  • 641 finishers in 2008
  • Yankee Timing
St Anne's 5M - Saturday July 25th, Hampstead
  • 104 finishers in 2008
  • Granite State Race Services
Moose on the Loose 10M - Sunday August 23rd, Nashua
  • 93 finishers in 2008
  • Yankee Timing
Alliance Against Cancer 5k - Saturday September 12th, Manchester
  • 103 finishers in 2008
  • Granite State Race Services
Fall Foliage 5M - Saturday October 10th, Warner
  • 79 finishers in 2008
  • Granite State Race Services

On a side note:
While checking the above races for 2009 websites, I saw a blurb on the Great Bay website about a new timing chip for 2009 called the Chronotrack D-Tag. It's a disposable timing chip that still attaches to your shoe but doesn't have to be returned and is lighter. My initial thought is although it's neat, I think it really benefits the race director and not the runner. The tag is part of the Bib so they don't have to worry about matching bibs with timing chips and they don't have to worry about runners forgetting to return them. The runner still has to attach it to their shoe and I doubt most of us would notice the the weight savings of the paper chip vs those weighty ChampionChips. They also claim the new chip is easier to attach to your shoe as well. I've watched the video, I personally think lacing my shoelace through the ChampionChip is easier. From a runners point of view the perfect solution would keep the chip fully incorporated in the Bib and not have to tie anything to my shoe. Now that would be sweet.

Below is a link to a PDF showing how the new chip is used. I also attached a video showing essentially the same thing.

Chronotrack D-Tag instructions

Friday, November 28, 2008

Does the day after count?

It wasn't Turkey Day but it was close. I drove over to Amherst,NH this morning and ran in the AJWC Amherst 5k Turkey Trot. I got there fairly early so I wanted to find a course map and run the route before the race at 10am. You would think this would be easy. 4 volunteers, the husband of the RD and finally the RD herself and I had my directions.
This was my first time running this race and it had that small town race feel to it. The directions were good and there were hand written signs Duct taped to saw horses at all of the turns. The mile marker signs were the same and surprisingly they said "One mile marker, go straight", etc.. I just found that kind of funny in an odd sort of way. I guess in my little head, a big number "1" would pretty much sum it up but whatever.
I'm glad I ran the course. The first mile was flat as a pancake and the second mile was almost all up hill (although it was gradual). After that it was a few rollers back to the finish line. It started to rain during my warm up run. Actually it was freezing rain. By the end of my run the roads were getting a little slick. Well this should be fun!
Just prior to the start I looked around for some familiar faces. I spotted Mike Wright and Bill Newsham, both fast 40+ guys. In fact, Mike usually beats me by a few seconds in most races we run in. I hate that.
Mike and I started right up front and ran mostly together for the 1st mile (5:42) and I was probably 5th or 6th by this point. As we hit the hills I passed a couple of young guys with Mike right behind me the entire 2nd mile (6:11). He passed me right at the 2nd mile and put about 5-10 seconds on me and pretty much held that gap the rest of the way. We reeled in a couple more young guys and by mile 3 (5:37) Mike was in 2nd and I was in 3rd overall. I hadn't looked at my watch since mile 1 but it felt like we were really pushing the pace, especially the 3rd mile. It just felt fast and I was hoping for a nice time. The road climbs a bit after the 3rd mile and then turns right before finishing in front of the church. As I turned the corner I saw the clock say 18-something already and I still had a ways to go. WTF??? I felt like I was running hard and fast but here I was struggling to get under 18:40!! It was not to be. I finished in 18:41 (6:02 pace). This course had some hills but it just didn't seem that slow. Very odd I thought.
That last tenth of a mile sure was long...and then I looked at my watch. My split for the last tenth was 1:11! Um, I don't think so.
After cheering on some of the other runners for a while Mike, Jim Velino and I decided to run the course for the 3rd time for a cool down run. During the run Mike and Jim mentioned the course actually IS long. In fact it is 3.25 miles, not 3.1 (it is not certified). Ah, the small town race, you gotta love it :-)
Assuming it was 3.25 miles, that would put my pace back at 5:45 avg and I would be very happy with that indeed.
For the record, I have no idea what AJWC stands for....

The results can be found here -->Amherst 5k Turkey Trot

Hiking in Crawford Notch

I met up with Kevin and Dan at the Hooksett park and ride at 6am on Wednesday and then drove north, stopping at the Tilt-N-Diner off exit 20 for a mighty fine breakfast. We talked about the weather a bit and went over our proposed route for the day with Kevin (a relatively new hiker, and first time 'winter' hiker). I've been checking the weather and trail conditions the last couple of days via the internet (I LOVE the internet). Lots of snow early in the week but nearly 2" of rain the last 24 hrs. He had hoped to knock off 3 more 4,000 footers by climbing Mt Tom first, then Mt Field and finally Mt Willey. Round trip would be just over 10 miles and we hoped to be off the mountains by 4pm. That was the plan...
We reached the Highland Center by 8:30am, got dressed for hiking and checked our gear one last time, finally hitting the trails around 9:15am. 75% of the day I was able to wear just a long sleeve Coolmax shirt as temps hovered in the mid-20's to low 30's most of the day.
We were the first and only folks on the trails today, with 3-6" of snow and a crusty top layer of ice for most of the first few miles. It was slow going but not too bad. The multiple water crossings were more of a challenge as the streams were running pretty high. To top it all off the 'stepping stones' typically reserved for crossing were either under water or covered in ice. Nothing like crossing on an ice covered tree with a 25lb pack on your back, and we'd have to do this twice.
We climbed the A-Z trail towards Mt Tom and above 3000 feet the snow was considerably deeper (knee deep at times) , and travel was slowed to less than a crawl. The crusty top surface was not quite thick enough to support our weight. We could take one or two steps on the surface and then we'd break through, smashing our shins in the process.
We reached the Mt Tom spur trail a little after noon, had a bite to eat, ditched the packs and made the 1.2 mile round trip up to the summit of Mt Tom. The weather never cleared for us and we never did see the sun. We reached the summit around 1pm, took a few pics and headed back to our packs.
We were traveling much slower than planned and already knew we wouldn't be able to summit Mt Willey but Mt Field may be possible. Our route was a lollipop over Tom and Field and then back down the Avalon Trail, eventually meeting up at the Avalon/A-Z trail intersection. At this point we knew we would eventually be hiking in the dark but the key was to get back to the Avalon/A-Z trail intersection before dark since this section would be virgin trails with no tracks to follow. At least from the intersection we could follow our footsteps back to the Highland Center.
We reached the summit of Mt Field at 3pm and it was already getting dark and a light snow was falling. Again, we stayed just long enough to snap a few photos and then we were finally heading down. The Avalon Trail was VERY hard to follow and most of the yellow blazes were faded so badly that we weren't always sure we were actually on the trail. In the woods, in the snow everything looks the same and it is deathly quiet.
Eventually we were able to make it back to the trail intersection by about 4:30pm, got out our headlamps and followed the Avalon Trail (and our footsteps) back to Crawford Notch. It was much easier going now but we were still concerned about the fairly technical water crossings which were tough enough in the daylight. I wasn't entirely sure how were going to do it in the dark but somehow we all managed without getting wet.

Finally, at 5:30pm, nearly 8hrs and 15 minutes after we started, we made it back to our car...relieved.
This was one of the most difficult hikes I've ever been on. Plodding through the virgin snow covered trails was brutally slow and exhausting. Thankfully we were all well prepared and had the proper gear. We were warm and dry.
We all made calls home to let everyone know we were safe (since we were 2 hrs later than planned), got in the car and headed south. Thankfully no one called in the helicopters or the search and rescue team. Now that would have been embarrassing. After a stop for dinner, we eventually made it home around 9pm and put an end to a fantastic day (and partial night).
I have some additional pics posted here. Oh, and if there was any confusion, this is the reason why I didn't race on Thanksgiving Day.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Running on Turkey Day Part II

The streak continues. Still haven't run a race on Thanksgiving Day. I did go for a run, just not a race. Oh well, there's always next year!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Running on Turkey Day

As far as I can tell, I've never run a race on Thanksgiving. Me being the expert of me you'd think I'd know for sure. I don't. I have a terrible memory and sometimes it seems like I have no recollection of entire decades (if you lived through the 70's you might want to forget this time as well).
Anyways, this year I'm actually thinking about running on Thanksgiving, and there are plenty of races to choose from. It's probably safe to say there are more races on Thanksgiving than any other day of the year. I rarely sign up for races in advance and this day is no exception although I'm leaning towards a 5k trail race in Mines Falls (Nashua). The ONLY reason I'm even considering it this year is because my training has gone well the last couple of weeks and I'm dying to get out there and race a little.
Of course there's also a decent chance my streak will continue. I'm heading up to Crawford Notch tomorrow to go hiking with some friends and knock off three more 4,000 footers. We'll see how it goes, maybe I'll be too tired :-)

Friday, November 21, 2008

No More Vermont Ultimate XC (Jay Marathon)

I received an email today from Dan Des Rosiers (race director of the Vermont Ultimate XC) saying the Jay Marathon is no more. After 8 years at Jay he's decided to move on to other races (Quebec and Moab). According to a post on the forum, several things seemed to play into his decision including the actions following this years race. Quite simply, the forum was out of control following this years race with several participants blaming the RD for their DNF. Bottom line, Dan just wasn't having fun putting on this event anymore. It's a real shame.
I wish him well in his other races. I'm thankful I was able to run Jay once. It was definitely worth it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Expectations are Relative

Recently I was searching for something on the web and stumbled across a post by Nate Jenkins titled "5253 miles to nowhere". Now I don't know Nate personally and have never met him. I do know he's a local guy (Lowell) and what I'd call an very accomplished runner. I think he describes himself as a professional road racer. Anyways, the post was both interesting and a little sad. Here's a guy who ran over 5,000 miles in 2008, averaged 100 miles a week, and appeared disappointed in nearly every race he ran. He ranked his performance on each race from worst (what he called pathetic) to best. In fact, pathetic was used 5 times, and ****ty was used 5 times to describe his results.
A few of his pathetic (worst) and ****ty results:
  • 31:24 10k
  • 1:07 half marathon
  • 2:25 marathon
At first glance, not exactly results to be disappointed with....unless you're a professional runner I guess. My good races would probably be suicidal for Nate but for me they're results I'm proud of.

I love to run (in case you didn't know) but I don't ever want to get to the point in my life that running causes so much disappointment. If that's the life of a professional runner then count me out (ok, I wasn't really 'in'). I'm perfectly happy with my middle of the pack, weekend warrior status. When all else fails, lower the bar :-)
Now get out there and enjoy yourself!

Friday, November 7, 2008


You know you love running when:
  • you head out for an 8 mile run
  • in the dark
  • on back roads w/o streetlights
  • in the pouring rain
and you liked it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Granite State Snowshoe Series

I know it's a little early to start thinking about snowshoeing in New Hampshire but I have to say I'm pretty excited about it already. I started snowshoe racing last year as a way to recover from nearly a year of injuries. My very first race was the Cobble Mountain Snowshoe Classic in Gilford, NH. It was directed by a relative 'new' face in race directing, Chris Dunn at Acidotic Racing. Chris and the folks at Acidotic Racing did such a great job putting on an outstanding event they got me hooked on snowshoe racing, and particularly on their races (I raced all three of their events this past season). I have to admit I'm not sad to see the Biddeford Race left off the schedule this year... that was probably the single hardest (effort-wise) race I've ever done (road, trail, snow, long or short). It was 100% max HR for the entire race due to the snow conditions. Yikes.

If you live in NH and you want to race snowshoes, you typically would have to travel to Western Mass and race in the WMAC Snowshoe Series. Not anymore!

Welcome to the Granite State Snowshoe Series !
Our own little snowshoe series right in our backyard. Various race directors got together and formed this awesome series. Right now they have 6 races in the series and it may expand to 8. The races are:

  1. Pooh Hill Snowshoe Scramble (Jan 10, 2009)
  2. Cobble Mountain Snowshoe Classic (Jan 31, 2009)
  3. Sidehiller 4 Mile Snowshoe Race (Feb 7, 2009)
  4. Frosty's Dash for a Cure (Feb 8, 2009)
  5. Horse Hill 7k Snowshoe Race (Feb 15, 2009)
  6. Kingman Farm Moonlight 5k Race (Feb 21, 2009)
Bring on the snow! (I can't believe I just said that??)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

No Big Lake 1/2 Marathon in 2009??

I was reading Andy Schachat's column On the Run in Fosters Daily Democrat and learned one of my favorite 1/2 marathons, the Big Lake Half Marathon, will not be coming back next year. What a bummer. Race director Keith Jordon and his staff at Endorfun Sports have decided to focus on their primary events: triathlons. With the addition of the Black Fly Tri in July 2009, I guess it was too much to manage.
If you've ever taken part in a Keith Jordon event you'll know what a huge loss this is. I've run this race 5 of 7 years since its inception back in 2002 and I for one will miss it.
There's a possibility it will return in 2010 but I'm not holding my breath.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Successful Day at Manchester City 1/2 Marathon

Well that wasn't what I expected. After a lousy week of training (heavy, tired legs) and a course described by the race director as "hilly, challenging and scenic", the last thing I would have expected would be a PR. Funny how things work out sometimes!
I drove the course on Saturday to have some idea what to expect. I'm glad I did, otherwise I probably would have let up and not pushed so hard on a few of the miles. More on that later.
It was COLD and windy. The cold I could handle, the wind was a pain, especially since it hit us immediately as we headed north along the Merrimack River on River Road. I struggled with the wind for the 1st 4 miles or so, occasionally tucking in behind some other runners when possible. Mile 2 and some of mile 3 were steady climbs with a couple of short, steep hills as well. Surprisingly, there were LOTS of spectators along the entire course. I probably ran the hardest in the first 4 miles and had the slowest miles of the day as well, a double whammy. When I made the turn onto Union Ave the clock at 4M was 26:00 even (6:30 pace) and I was BEAT. Any thoughts I had of a PR were out the window at this point but I knew I had a couple of easier miles coming up so I tried to pick up the pace. Mile 5 was a long steady uphill and mile 6 was a long steady downhill before turning into the woods for a short trail run through Livingston Park. These two miles felt much faster but I was afraid to look at my watch (I hate disappointment). As we crossed over DW highway the course snaked back and forth through some nice neighborhoods, eventually looping up and around Derryfield Park (where they have the high school XC races) and eventually up onto Mammoth Rd. Although this was a decent climb, it was stretched out for nearly 2 miles (mile 8 was at Derryfield). I wasn't looking at my watch for mile splits but the course had clocks every 2 miles so if I could do the math I could figure out my pace. I passed mile 8 at exactly 52:00 (6:30 pace). Talk about consistent :-)
From my drive yesterday I knew the next 2+ miles would be fairly flat (at least no significant hills) and slowly started to pass a few runners. This race was both a 1/2 and full marathon and all were running the first 13 miles together so you never really knew who was doing what. The half and full marathons had different color bibs but they apparently ran out of half bibs so a bunch of us (me included) were running with full marathon bib numbers. The next clock was at 10 miles and this time I was just under 1:05 (6:29 pace). I was totally convinced a PR was out of the question but......I decided to push the last 5k as hard as I could to see what I could do. The last 2 miles were a straight shot down Hanover St, which had a few hills early on but was mostly downhill all the way to Elm St. I don't remember a clock at mile 12 but I knew I was flying at this point. I made the left onto Elm and had about 1/4 mile to the finish at Veteran's Park.
The clock read 1:23:23, a new PR by nearly a minute!
I ended up running the last 5k in 18:43 (6:02 pace). Like I said, not at all what I expected.
I placed 33rd overall out of 924 finishers. For my efforts I also picked up a 1st place win in my age category. Not a bad day!

Results for the Manchester City 1/2 Marathon can be found here.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Manchester 1/2 Marathon This Weekend

I guess you could file this under "what was I thinking...". I was hoping to run a fast half this fall but I may end up running half fast instead (sorry, I couldn't resist). Although the 1/2 marathon is my FAVORITE distance by far (pun intended), rumor has it the Manchester Half has a few hills and is considered 'challenging'.
I'm heading up to Manchester on Saturday for packet pickup and plan to drive most of the course afterwards. I don't like surprises. Hills are ok, STEEP hills suck (up or down).

Should be somewhat interesting to run considering the full marathon and the half both start at the same time AND run nearly the entire 13.1 miles together (the full takes a right at the finish on Elm St and the half takes a left).

Looks like great weather though: sunny but cold (temps may be in the 20's at the start, yikes).

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Short run in HHNP

I went for a 40 min run in Horse Hill Nature Preserve last night to put some more miles on some trail shoes I'm testing for an 'unnamed' company. I say unnamed only because I'm not sure I can disclose or write about them.....yet.
Anyways, HHNP became my favorite place to snowshoe last year but it hasn't really been my favorite place to trail run. Although there are some decent trails out there, most are not well established and can get overgrown a bit. That will change over time. The other problem is it's just so friggin wet/muddy on a lot of sections. I don't mind the mud but the wet spots are there year round, bordering on swamp-like. A couple well placed bridges or walkways may solve the problem and would sure make traveling a bit easier.
I still think this plot of land has great potential. There are some dedicated folks doing some nice work (bridge work, trail signs, maps) and I hope the effort continues. I'd like to see a few more trails designed as well. I'm not sure what's going on on the south end though (by the Watanic Bowmen parking area). Looks like a logging operation or something. I only briefly saw it since I was running along the Loop Trail but I plan on heading back out later this week just to see what's up in that particular area.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Great Bay 5k

I decided to run a 5k this morning, 6 days after the Baystate Marathon. I wasn't quite sure what to expect but my legs have been feeling better each day so I figured I'd give it a shot.

The Great Bay 5k is part of the Seacoast Race Series and had nearly 1000 runners. It's a point to point race from the Stratham Technical College to the Great Bay Discovery Center and is regarded as a fast course.

I started near the front so I wouldn't get caught in a crowd and settled into a fast but comfortable pace. One of the few 'hills' is right at the start, leaving the college parking lot. The first mile runs slightly downhill along busy Rt33 but turns and heads down some very nice scenic back roads for miles 2 and 3 on the way down to the Discovery Center. This IS a fast course, no doubt about it.

This race had GREAT volunteers at the finish line as well. The food tent was awesome! I settled on some pizza, cheese cake and hot apple cider...mmm, now that's some good post race food!

Splits were as follows:

Mile 1: 5:48
Mile 2: 5:41
Mile 3: 5:48

with a finishing time of 17:53 (5:46 avg), good for 11th place overall and 3rd in my age group. Results can be found here.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Last Track Workout of the Season

Last night marked our last outdoor coached workout of the season. Technically it wasn't really a workout, more of a social event. GCS always does a relay in the dark of night on a track lit by nearly 150 luminaries. Club member Kevin Reynolds does an incredible job each year setting this up and it is truely appreciated. I'm sure tonight was more of a challenge than normal since it was cold AND windy to boot. The relay is really just a way to kill time prior to our "last supper"...the annual GCS social dinner at The Club National in Nashua. Heck, I don't even know what the relay is, although I think it's a team of 4 doing 8x400's. This year I decided not to run in the relay since it was only 3 days after the Baystate Marathon. My legs were still a little sore so I opted out this year, choosing to take a few pics instead. This turned out harder than I thought (poor planning on my part). Although I did have a tripod I did not have a flashlight and it was impossible to see what the camera settings were in the pitch black night. Oh well, lesson learned. Some day I'll actually figure out how to use this camera...

I'll miss track. I was never a big fan of speed workouts but this year was different. I actually saw noticeable improvement (imagine that). I hope we do indoor track workouts again this year at the Hampshire Dome.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Baystate Marathon Race Report

I don't run marathons that often. In fact this was only my 4th one and my 1st in nearly 5 years. I was blessed to have run a BQ on my very first marathon attempt in 2002 at the Vermont City Marathon (3:12). My two follow up attempts have pretty much sucked and I easily changed my mindset to "I hate the marathon". I don't even think it's the distance. I think it has more to do with the specialized training with so much focus on miles and of course the taper. Any other time of the year I just run. I don't specifically 'train' for anything. I enjoy running. But a marathon changes that. It seems every run you do has a purpose and everything is about training. I no longer just 'run', I train. Screw that. Hence my dislike for the marathon.

So what the heck am I doing signing up for another one you ask? Easy. It's all about goals. I always thought I was capable of running a sub 3hr marathon given the right conditions. Well the planets aligned this year. I've had a great running season, been injury free and I always wanted to run a fall marathon (better weather conditions for me). So Baystate was the obvious choice. It is only about 1/2 hr from home, fairly inexpensive and probably most important, flat.

Finally, the report:
Sunday was a beautiful day, sunny but a little on the cold side. Temps at the start were near 30 and I doubt it ever got much above 40 throughout the race. That's ok by me since I much prefer cold temps to warm temps any day. The wind is the biggest x factor on a course like Baystate though. Running up and down both sides of the Merrimack River doesn't provide a lot of shelter from the wind. This proved more than true later in the race.
I parked right at the start in the garage which was nice. I stayed nice and warm (and relaxed) in my car right up to the start of the race. No warm up for me either. I figured the pace would be easy enough (initially) that it probably wasn't required. The early miles would get my legs warmed up.
My strategy was as simple as it gets. In order to run a sub 3hr marathon I'd have to average 6:52 min/mile and since the course was relatively flat I figured a consistent pace was at least doable.
For the first 1/2 of the marathon I ran with various runners with similar goals (3:00 to 3:05 goal). We did a decent job of sticking to the pace and racked up one 6:52 after another. If we had a 'fast' mile we'd scale it back on the next. If we had a 'slow' mile we'd pick it up on the next. It was a very comfortable pace and I was feeling pretty good. Deb and the kids were at mile 8ish on the first loop and at mile 17 on the second loop. I'm glad they came out to watch. I took off my long sleeve shirt on the first loop and stuck with the tank top for the rest of the way.
Although I was running with a pack I never let them dictate the pace (at least not my pace). I stuck to my plan running consistent miles and let a few runners go who would pick up the pace. I would reel them in later. I also started to drop a few. By mile 15 I was pretty much running alone and that was unfortunate. The wind was picking up and I had no one to shelter some of the wind. It was a screwy wind too. It 'seemed' to be a headwind on BOTH sides of the Merrimack. Definitely stronger on the East side heading back towards Lowell. It was brutal during the last 4-5 miles and was really depressing. No shelter, legs are tired and a stupid headwind to beat you down. I did not let up though and continued to at least try to maintain the pace. The effort increased dramatically but I knew I was on pace or better for most of the race. I never assumed it was in the bag though, not even with 1 mile to go. My calves were sore and cramps were still a real possibility but I continued to push the pace. In fact the last mile was my fastest of the day (6:31 pace).
It was an awesome feeling entering the stadium, knowing I was well within my 3hr goal. I crossed the line at 2:58:34 (gun time) for a 2:58:29 net time. I was tired but all things considered I felt great! I spotted Deb and the kids in the stands and they were very excited I had met my goal as well. This was the best I've ever felt after a marathon. I could not have scripted this any better (other than the friggin wind at the end). Everything went exactly as planned. A near perfect race.

My spits: (with 5 mile times as well)

mile 1 6:46
mile 2 6:38
mile 3 6:53
mile 4 6:52
mile 5 6:52 (34:01 5-mile )

mile 6 6:54
mile 7 6:53
mile 8 6:46
mile 9 6:52
mile 10 6:51 (34:16 5-mile)

mile 11 6:49
mile 12 6:44
mile 13 6:52
mile 14 6:33
mile 15 6:57 (34:54 5-mile)

mile 16 6:43
mile 17 6:57
mile 18 6:39
mile 19 6:47
mile 20 6:49 (33:54 5-mile)

mile 21 6:52
mile 22 6:56
mile 23 6:49
mile 24 6:57
mile 25 6:56 (34:29 5-mile)

mile 26 6:31
mile .2 1:23

FINISH: 2:58:29
1st half: 1:29:24
2nd half: 1:29:05

Complete results can be found here -->Baystate Marathon Results

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Baystate Marathon 2:58.29!!!

Just a quick note about my marathon this morning. Everything went PERFECT!. My average pace never changed by more than 2 seconds throughout the entire race. Just a really consistent effort so I was VERY pleased.

1st half: 1:29:24
2nd half: 1:29:05

The weather was pretty good but we had a horrible headwind during the last 4-5 miles of the race. Other than that, no complaints about the day.

More later...

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

11 Days Until Baystate Marathon

These last few weeks before the marathon are killing me. I just want to get out there and run. Actually, I just want to get out there and finish so I can move on. So much effort and focus goes into one race. That's the problem I have with marathons, all my training revolves around this one race. I can't be spontaneous. It seems every run has to have a purpose. What fun is that? :-)

I like to run when I feel good, rest when I'm tired and most importantly wait until the last second before signing up for a race. All that is on hold, at least for 11 more days.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Two More 4,000 Footers in the Bag

I took a vacation day on Friday and decided to go hiking with a friend of mine from work. We picked a couple of peaks which neither of us have done before: Mt. Passaconaway (4,043 ft) and Mt. Whiteface (4,020 ft), both located in the Sandwich Range. The two mountains form a large natural bowl.

We headed up Dicey's Mill Trail from the Ferncroft Parking area, reaching the summit of Mt. Passaconaway in about 2hrs. Not a bad hike for most of the way although the last 1/2 mile was quite steep. The summit is mostly wooded but there are a couple of side paths that allow some views...if the weather cooperated. We were pretty much socked in the clouds. It also started to rain as we neared the summit and with temps in the mid 30's, it was obviously a cold rain. Stayed just long enough to take a couple of viewless pics and have a bite to eat and then we were off to Mt. Whiteface to the southwest.

We followed the Rollings Trail along the ridge over to Mt. Whiteface. The rain was coming down pretty good now and the wind had also picked up. Thankfully we were somewhat protected by the trees and the fact the trail stayed more to the east of the ridge line. The rain switched over to freezing rain and eventually snow on our hike over. Just enough to make everything white and allow you to leave tracks, but still it was snow. Snow in the first week of October, not what I was expecting! At times we had some nice views down into the bowl to the east, with some very serious drops from the trail. Mt. Passaconaway was also visible in the distance as the skies were slowly starting to clear. Freezing rain, wind and cold temps made for an uncomfortable hike, even though we were both well prepared for the weather. The true summit of Mt. Whiteface is actually wooded but there is a 'false summit' further south as the trail crosses over some of the steep ledge which probably gives this mountain its name. By this time the sun had made an appearance and the views were much improved. Not perfect but at least we could see where we came from and where we were going. The hike over from the summit of Mt. Passaconaway to Mt. Whiteface took about 2hrs but at least it wasn't raining/snowing anymore. Several stops were made on and around Mt. Whiteface since there were several decent outlooks, including views of Mt. Chocorua and Squam Lake. The picture to the right shows the ridge from Mt. Passaconaway (Rollins Trail) with the bowl towards the right of the ridge.

We could see the parking area off in the distance as well so we knew we still had a long hike ahead of us, although thankfully at this point it would be mostly downhill. We would follow the Blueberry Ridge Trail all the way back to the parking area. The first 1/2 mile or so was brutally steep, descending sharply over the ledges, nearly vertical. It was slow going at best but once off the ledge the trail descended more gradually through the hardwoods allowing us to keep a decent pace going for most of the way, finally reaching the parking area in just under 2hrs. The pic to the left was taken from the Ferncroft parking area with Mt. Whiteface off in the distance. Overall we covered about 12.5 miles and hiked for about 6 1/2 hrs total (including stops). The weather wasn't ideal but it didn't totally suck either. We were afforded some fine views on the way over to Whiteface and on Mt. Whiteface as well. I think I've finally decided to retire my hiking boots. I've had the same boots for over 20+ years. Talk about getting your money's worth!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Into the Woods

It has been a couple of months since I've done any serious trail runs, mostly because of the bugs. I miss the trails. I think it's time to get back into the woods.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Back to Back Long Runs

For the first time ever I did back to back long runs this weekend. It wasn't my plan but the weather kind of set it up for me. Normally I run my long run on Sundays but the forecast was for heavy rain on Saturday AND Sunday. I don't mind running in the rain but I hate leaving a dry house and heading out into the rain. Not sure what the difference is but I'm sure there is one.

So I was a little surprised to see it not raining when I got up on Saturday so I decided to squeeze in my long run then. My long run consists of me mentally mapping out a route in my head as I'm running and trying to figure out how to get the desired distance or time goal (normally time goal). 18 miles and 2 1/2 hrs later I was done and feeling pretty good and I was able to beat out the rain as well.

Sunday afternoon also saw a pause in the rain and I was feeling pretty good so I headed out again, using the same method above but this time targeting a distance, 14 miles in this case. With 14 miles I'd be over 60 miles for the week for the second week in a row. 1 hr 50min later I was home again, just short of my goal with 13.5 miles. Not a bad weekend of running.

I'll start cutting back my miles now in preparation for the Baystate Marathon on Oct 19th, and I was just getting used to running 60+ miles a week :-)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Beach was Reached in Record Time!

Reach the Beach is done and another outstanding performance by the Mine Falls Milers. Most of our team are members of the Gate City Striders but we did have a couple of new folks to fill in some of the blanks left by last minute drops and such. Their efforts were MUCH appreciated and they all performed exceptionally well. Last year we got a taste of what it's like to run near the front, finishing 5th overall out of 350+ teams. This year we believed we were faster, at least on paper, and we were also competing in a category more appropriate to our team make up: Mens Masters division.

We may have been a little aggressive on our team pace though and ended up being seeded in the very last group, heading out at 4pm with 4 other teams. I had the leadoff spot and was looking forward to running first and hopefully running with other runners. Half of that came true.

Obviously not many folks left at Cannon Mt by the time I headed out..and it was actually a little cold and very windy. I was a little nervous because I was starting with a fast group of runners and I didn't want to let my team down right from the start. I had hoped I could at least stay with 1 or 2 runners but that was not the case. Within 1/2 mile or so I knew I had NO chance to hang with any of these guys but I would run hard regardless. Heck, by the end of the short video below you can see I'm already at the rear of the pack!

After leaving Cannon Mt we jumped on a nice bike path and stayed there for nearly 3 miles before finally joining up with Rt3 heading towards Twin Mountain. Although initially listed as a 7.8 mile leg, it turns out the leg was actually 8.2 miles and was a net downhill run. I felt like I was running fast but the other 4 guys dropped me in no time. By the 2 mile mark I couldn't even see the runners in front of me anymore. Our team was now officially DFL...we were the last team on the course. This fact really bugged me too. I was running fast (for me) but here we were last at RTB. I still enjoyed my leg hoped my other teammates would catch the rest of RTB soon enough.

Leg 1 STATS:

8.2 miles
6:08 avg

By the time I handed off the rest of the field was long gone. In fact we never saw another runner on any of our first 6 legs. We transitioned off to van 2 at Attitash still in last place (or more specifically, we were the last team on the course). The volunteers were great though, especially since we WERE the last team and they could all leave after we came through. It sure was a little lonely in the beginning but we managed and had fun with it anyways. Our van blasted through the 1st 6 legs averaging 6:12 pace. After 6+hrs of running van 2 finally past our first runner and got us out of last place. We were moving up. Soon enough we'd have our chance at some roadkills. We headed down to Tamworth for our 1st vehicle transition to get some food and some rest, arriving around 9pm. We were due to run again around midnight.

It rained a bit in the late hours and was just overcast when it was time for my second run. I tried resting at the VTA (outdoors under a big tree) but it was surprisingly noisy and a little wet. I rested, but didn't sleep. I felt ok and was ready for my second run of 3.9 miles. Our team was about 11 minutes ahead of our predicted pace so we were feeling pretty good. I had told myself I would not go 'all out' on my second leg since my hardest leg would be my last, a 9.4 mile hilly route through Deerfield. I ran comfortably hard but relaxed. Two down, one to go!

Leg 2 STATS:
3.9 miles
6:20 avg

The rain pretty much had stopped for the night but it was very humid. The rest of the van had fabulous runs and by the time we handed off to the 2nd van at TA18, we were 21 minutes ahead of schedule and feeling good. We were 1/2 way there and still averaging 6:25's as a team. We headed for our 2nd VTA at Bear Brook State Park for some much needed rest. It was nearly 5am by the time we reached the VTA. I jumped out of the van and laid down on the ground for some much needed sleep. Within 2 hrs I'd be back up again...I had some food, packed up my stuff and got ready for my next run. This one would be a tough one, the longest leg of the relay at 9.4 miles and it climbed steadily for the first 6+ miles before gently coming back down and finishing at the Deerfield Fair Grounds. In addition, the sun had come out and the temps were rising. My run headed due East, right into the sun. I carried a small water bottle and had it refilled twice along the way. There were many more runners on the course now and road kills were out there to be had. I managed to pass about 25 or so but no where near last years record by one of my teammates of 50+ on the same stretch of road last year. I was a couple of minutes below my predicted pace but all things considered, I was happy with my run...and more importantly I was DONE for the day!!

Leg 3 STATS:
9.4 miles
6:57 avg

Our runs were getting slower (at least for most of us) so by the time our van reached our last VTA at Sanborn High School,our team pace had slowed slightly and was now at 6:33 pace. We were 20 minutes ahead of schedule. It was slightly after noon on Saturday and we were done for the day. We headed for the beach to rest and wait for our van mates to join us in just over 3 hrs. After a quick stop at Dunkin Donuts for a much needed ice coffee we got a call from the other van: one of our runners was not doing well and possibly had food poisoning...and he was running his leg! They were pretty sure he'd need medical attention after his run and they asked us to come pick him up and they would continue on. In fact, we knew he was sick and expected to get a call saying he couldn't run. This would mean everybody would have to move up one position and this meant I'd have to run a 4th leg. I wasn't looking forward to the possibility of another leg but I would have done it if necessary. Well we never got the call, at least not THAT call. So on the way to Exeter the other van called one last time: Mark had finished the leg, was feeling better and they were all set so off to the beach once again.

As we waited for the other van and our final runner at Hampton Beach we cautiously watched the other teams finished. Since was a staggered start race it can be somewhat hard to determine when some of these teams started. We knew who our competition were and they started 1/2 hr before us so we kept our eyes peeled...and then they came in. The clock was now running on our team. We weren't sure where they were or if we would come in soon enough to take 1st place in the Mens Masters. The team we were competing against (The Free Radicals) were the 2-time defending champs. Their reign would end in 2008 though as our team came through and finished nearly 16 minutes ahead of them and 12 minutes ahead of our predicted time! This was our fastest team in the 3 years we've been running. It was also the best team we've put together, not just talent wise but even personality wise. No fights, no meltdowns, no injuries, no nothing. Just hard running, hard ribbing and lots of laughing. In fact we stayed at or above our predicted pace the entire time with most runners running within seconds of their predicted pace. There was very little drama. The most excitement we had was running dead last for over 6hrs and desperately trying to catch the field. In the end we were around the 70th team to finish on Saturday, meaning we passed nearly 290 teams along the way. Not a bad days work (less than a day actually!)

2008 RTB results

Final Team STATS:
212 miles*
6:35 avg
7th place overall out of 356
1st place Mens Masters

*NOTE: our team pace is based on actual measured miles and not the RTB published miles.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Reach the Beach is on deck...

Reach the Beach is this week and I can't wait. It ranks up there as one of my absolute favorite running events. This 200+ mile relay from Cannon Mountain to Hampton Beach is well run top to bottom and once the race starts there's very little to complain about (other than the weather of course).

They've made some changes to the start times this year in order to spread out the field and avoid bottlenecks (although I'm not sure this is ever possible). The changes affect us directly since we'll be starting 1 1/2hrs later than last year with roughly the same team (from a pace point of view).

Rested and ready to go!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Not Exactly What I Planned for 2008

First off let me say that I started this year with a goal to stay healthy and avoid running injuries and have a good time. As of today, mission accomplished! I give a lot of the credit to snow shoeing early in the season and my focus on trail running in the spring. My weekly mileage has been manageable and more importantly consistent.

So where do I go from here? Well I love to challenge myself. My challenge last week was to see if I could beat my PR in the 1/2 marathon, which I set in 2005 at the exact same course (Swanzey Covered Bridges 1/2 Marathon). I've been waffling on whether to run a fall marathon so I figured I needed a physical test to help convince me one way or the other. The challenge was if I PR'd I'd commit to a fall marathon.

Well I didn't PR....but. I was very pleased with my results. It turned out to be much warmer than I expected AND I made no attempt to taper leading up to this race. I trained just like an other week leading up to it. So with all that I managed to run just 30 seconds off my PR finishing in 1:24:50 and I ran the 2nd half over a minute faster than the first half.

So I've decided to run a fall marathon. Specifically I've decided to run the Baystate Marathon. I didn't run my 1st marathon until 2002 and I was fortunate enough to qualify for Boston on my first attempt. Since then I've run two more and each has been slower than the last. My last attempt was over 5 years ago. So my goal this time is not just to finish a marathon, my goal is at the very least to PR (<3:12) and ultimately to break 3hrs. I'm not sure if it's realistic or not but I'm going to try this one time.

In the meantime I need to get ready for Reach the Beach next week!

Monday, August 18, 2008

One and Done isn't so bad...

I made it through my one and only triathlon for the season this past weekend. It didn't suck as much as I thought it would considering my total lack of non-running training. I completed the Timberman Sprint Triathlon in 1:20:23 good for 115th overall out of about 1,000 competitors.

It was my slowest finish so far at this event but I actually feel pretty good about the results. I didn't even get on a bike or get in the water until nearly July of this year. Oh yeah, that means I had a grand total of about 6 weeks of training. But wait, there's more! I really didn't even take advantage of that time to actually DO any serious training. I managed to get in just over 200 total miles on the bike and about 5 total miles in the water.

The splits were:

1/3 mile swim 9:33
15 mile bike 49:50 (18.1 mph)
3 mile run 17:27 (5:49 pace)

Two things have held true in nearly all (if not all) triathlons I've ever done:
  1. No one has ever finished ahead of me with a slower bike split
  2. I've never been passed on the run
The streak continues...

Someday I might actually train a little more :-)
or maybe not.

Friday, August 15, 2008

What's Black and White and Spins in Circles?

On my way to work this morning I came upon a van stopped in the road right next to a skunk. There was plenty of room to drive around the skunk (which was alive by the way) so I was somewhat puzzled why the van just sat there. When I pulled up behind the van I could see why. The skunk was right in the middle of the road walking in circles...over and over and over. Well that's odd I thought, until I got a closer look. There was some sort of container (like a small yogurt container) wedged nicely over the skunks head. It was more like something you'd see on America's Funniest Home Videos. The skunk was totally blind going round and round. It made no attempt to remove the container and it made no attempt to do anything other than go in a circle. It was pretty obvious this would not end up well if left unattended.

The women in the van got out and said "we need to do something or the skunk is going to die". Then she asked "do you think it will spray me?" Hmm, good question. As I was getting out of my car to see if I could help out the women reached down (several times) and finally managed to pull the cup off his head. It all worked out in the end. The skunk survived, the women did a nice deed and in the process did not get sprayed.

Now I thought that this was unusual until I saw this posted on YouTube. Apparently skunks aren't very smart.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pics from Jay Marathon (Ultimate XC Vermont Edition)

I took a bunch of pics along with my wife plus I've included some great pics from a couple other runners (Julie and Ron). They're listed in chronological order (hopefully).

Here's a link to the pics as well --> Jay pics