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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.