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Downtown Temple,NH

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!