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Downtown Temple,NH

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.