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Downtown Temple,NH

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!