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Downtown Temple,NH

Sunday, December 27, 2009

I Love Woodford Snowshoe Race

There's something odd about driving for 3hrs in the pouring rain on your way to a snowshoe race. Technically I was riding not driving. Bill Morse acted as my snowffeur once again so all I had to do was sit there. It was a little hairy going up and over the mountain on Rt9 in Vermont (a handful of cars off the road) but generally not a bad ride...except for all the rain.

The parking lot was in a little better shape this year. Of course my reference is last year when the RD was skating on it. At least this year you could walk on it (a couple inches of slush kept you from falling on your arse). I needed a little maintenance on my shoes so I headed over to Bob Dion's car for some new bindings. Mine were ripped and about to separate. Bob had me ready to go in no time.

Surprisingly (or not) there was plenty of snow at Woodford (results). Not surprisingly it was totally saturated with nearly 24hrs of rain (and some snow I think). I did a very short warm up (mostly just walked in the wet cement-like snow). The weather definitely kept the crowd smallish, with maybe 60 racers showing up for the first WMAC race of the season. Too bad those darn fast guys didn't stay home :-)
UPDATED: 77 total racers.

I seeded myself appropriately and at 10:30 we were off. Thankfully the rain pretty much stopped by the time the whistle went off. I started fairly conservatively, trying not to reach maximum heart rate in the first 30yds. Probably made it 45yds. Oh well.

Start of the race - photo credit Kristin Wainwright

  Early in the race, Abby Mahoney close behind, probably hoping I don't trip her this year like I did last year- photo credit Kristin Wainwright

I passed a few folks before we got to the single track knowing it would be difficult to pass once there. Generally I was able to run my own pace and only got hung up behind another shoer for a short time before passing off trail. The conditions were tough (for me anyways) and my legs were burning fairly early and stayed that way until the finish. Lots of leg strength required for this one (which I don't have). Kind of reminded me of Frosty's last year except it was MUCH wetter at Woodford. For those not at Frosty's last year, it was similar to running in sand...deep, wet sand. Lots of work, not much speed.

I felt slow the entire way. Last year I ran with a nice group. This year not so much. I got passed about 1/2 way and passed my last racer about 2/3rds in. Never really felt anyone pushing behind me and I was too chicken to look. I felt ok on the flats and downhills but struggled on nearly all hills. For the most part I recognized the course and had a good idea where I was most of the time. I just kept looking for the gate at the end of the single track.

Nearing the end - photo credit Kristin Wainwright

From there we had probably 1/2 mile to the finish. I thought for sure I'd be running 2-3 minutes slower than last year. Even though no one was in sight behind me I sprinted hard to the finish. I was really surprised to see the clock read 26:50, almost 1 minute faster than last year! Wasn't expecting that, on a day like today. Position was exactly the same though: 9th overall. I'll take it.

























    Wednesday, December 23, 2009

    Merry Christmas!

    About a year ago I happened to catch a Christmas special on TV called "Christmas in Washington". There were a bunch of artists performing, none of which I can remember except one. The band Casting Crowns performed their version of a very popular Christmas carol called "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day". It's a very powerful song by itself and is one of my favorites. Then I began to hear and read about the story behind the carol. It was originally written as a poem during the Civil War by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow ("Christmas Bells").
    The story behind the story is told by Edward K Herrmann and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra below. Being somewhat of a Civil War buff I find the history fascinating. This incredibly moving rendition of what inspired Longfellow to write the words to his now famous Christmas carol is worth watching.

    Now take 13 minutes and 18 seconds out of your day and watch the following 2 videos!

    And here's the modern version of carol performed live by Casting Crowns. Enjoy and Merry Christmas!


    Week 3 at indoor track had us doing 6 x 800's with 400 rest. It was good to see a few more brave souls move up to Group 1 (the so-called fast group). I can't imagine I intimidate anyone with my speed, so I'm guessing people didn't think they were fast enough and couldn't keep up Well, just because I'm running 80s quarters doesn't mean you have to. It's a workout, not a race. Run your pace, not mine. Lots of runners make this mistake in workouts and run too fast, run inconsistent laps or continually slow throughout the workout (or all 3). Part of a good workout is self-discipline, running at a consistent pace regardless of what's going on around you. It is HARD to run at your pace when you see folks just a little faster in front of you. Everyone wants to run faster so it's easy to get sucked into a faster runners pace. Resist the temptation of racing your workout. I promise we'll wait for you and regroup during the recovery lap. Ok, I'm stepping down off my soapbox.

    To date I've been pleased with my workouts, consistently running faster than last year during the same workout. More importantly (at least to me), I've been running consistent laps, running each of the two 400m segments at almost identical times.
    I hope this translates into some new PR's for 2010!








    The first snowshoe race of my season is this Sunday in Woodford,VT. Sounds like they have plenty of snow (12+" on the ground). Looking forward to racing again.

    Wednesday, December 9, 2009

    Dusted off the Dions

    Snow covered roads this morning made for a no-brainer decision to work from home and avoid the 35 mile commute south. At least in Southern NH, the changeover to rain did not start until much later in the day...somewhere between 1 and 2pm. The steady snow all day piled up nicely, leaving a good 8+" of snow on the ground by noontime.

    Just before noon Michael Amarello called to see if I wanted to go snowshoeing in Horse Hill. Really? You have to ask? Are you kidding me? Of course I'm in! See you at 12:15pm. Bill Morse decided to join us as well, making the scary ride north on slick roads. It's good to have company when you go snowshoeing on virgin trails. Breaking trails alone can be very tiring.

    Thankfully, the rain held off for most of our run, but the snow was pretty heavy and packed easily. I took us on a nice loop over the two major hills in the preserve (Blodgett and Horse Hill) and tried to stay on just the single tracks, including a couple of new ones. We definitely didn't break any speed records but for those who snowshoe, you know that speed is not needed for a good workout. We were all working hard. When you factor in the cement we were running in I'd say we did pretty well, staying out there for 1hr and 20min...not bad for the first snowshoe of the season!

    As a side note: 8+" of snow fell earlier today and right now a thunderstorm is passing through. How weird is that?

    Indoor Track Season has Begun

    Last night was our first indoor winter track session at the Hampshire Dome in Milford NH, my favorite indoor track (actually, it's the only one I've ever run on indoors). We had a pretty good turnout as usual. Good to see so many folks willing to work on their running during the winter months.

    After feeling sort of flat during my MCR leg on Sunday, I was hoping for a little life in my legs at track. With so many runners they broke us up into 3 groups based on pace. I was in group 1 with Joe R, Dan M and Mike W...all fast guys and all masters. The workout was 8 x 400's with 200m rest. The first week is generally easy just to get us in the swing of things. Since the track is roughly 1/5 of a mile, its a little harder to judge your pace during the lap and 1/4ish it takes to makes up 400m. So for me, it takes a few repeats to work on pace and get into a groove. I started with what I initially thought was a fast lap, slowed a bit too much on the 2nd and then settled into fairly repeatable laps. After 8 repeats I stopped for some water but then joined up with Mike W for 3 additional 400's...just for fun!

    Times for each lap were:
    1. 78 sec
    2. 83 sec
    3. 80 sec
    4. 78 sec
    5. 78 sec
    6. 79 sec
    7. 75 sec (felt really good so I pushed the pace a bit)
    8. 77 sec
    9. 82 sec
    10. 82 sec
    11. 78 sec
     I think for the 1st workout of the season I even surprised myself. Going into the workout I was thinking I'd run 83-85 sec per 400 but honestly, 78-80 felt pretty good...comfortably hard. I looked back at last years 1st workout (same workout) and I was closer to the 82-84 range. Faster than last year? I hope so!

    Monday, December 7, 2009

    26th Annual Mill Cities Relay

    Yesterday I took part in the Mill Cities Relay (results), a 27.1 mile 5-person relay from Nashua NH to Lawrence MA. If you don't live in the Merrimack Valley you probably never heard of it. This invitation-only club event includes 20+ running clubs from the Merrimack Valley (NH & MA) and has grown to over 200+ teams and 1000+ runners.
    I was running the 5th leg of a great Coed Masters team (The WereWolfes of Lawrence) so I had a chance to drive along the course and take a few pictures. You can check them out here.

    Kevin McIntyre, Leg 1, 5.6 miles

     Karen Pattelena, Leg 2, 4.75 miles

     Tammy Gaffey, Leg 3, 2.5 miles

    photo credit - Michael Wade 
    Jeff Hunt handing off to me at the final transition

    The recent snow and cold weather only played a minor role this year (unlike last year), with just a few icy spots to deal with (pretty much on every leg). Other than that it was a great day for racing.

    Our club (Gate City Striders) were the defending champions and we were looking to repeat. With 127 runners on 27 teams (covering all 13 categories), we were ready for the challenge. Thanks to Michael Wade for spending untold hours contacting runners and setting up the teams to give our club the best chance at winning. In the end his magic formula did just that, giving the Gate City Striders the Club Championship for the 2nd year in a row!

    Total Points for Each Club
       Gate City Striders              106
       Winners Circle Running Club      99
       North Medford Club               80
       Somerville Road Runners          76
       Greater Derry Track Club         63
       Whirlaway Racing Team            43
       Greater Lowell Road Runners      41
       Shamrock Running Club            41
       New Hampshire Athletic Alliance  30
       Merrimack Valley Striders        30
       North Shore Striders             26
       Wicked Running Club              24
       Squannacook River Runners        19
       Mystic Runners                   14
       Gil's Athletic Club              11
       Andover Striders                 10
       Melrose Running Club              9
       Sandown Rogue Runners             5
       SISU                              0

    Check out how we did in each of the 13 categories. Pretty strong & balanced showing across the board. Congrats to all teams.

    Male Open - 2nd
    Male Masters - 2nd
    Male Seniors - 3rd
    Male Veterans - 3rd
    Male Ancients - 1st

    Female Open - 2nd
    Female Masters - 1st
    Female Seniors - 3rd
    Female Veterans - 1st

    Coed Open - 1st
    Coed Masters - 1st
    Coed Seniors - 4th
    Coed Veterans - 3rd

    Everything worked out just fine and no real issues to speak of (other than a minor baton problem in leg 1). This is a tough race to really know what your position is during the race. So unless you recognize other runners, your finishing position tends to be a mystery until they post the results. For me, none of this changes the way I run my leg. Everyone is an equal opportunity competitor. If I can pass you, I will. If I can hold you off, I will. If you pass me, I get mad (but I won't hold it against you). In the case of my leg, I was able to do all three, passing 2 runners, getting smoked by Paul Doe and holding off a charging Goon Squad Coed team.
    I never felt great during my run but I'm not complaining (much). After hitting the first mile in 5:51 and getting passed by Paul Doe at the same time, I settled into a more manageable pace for me as we climbed a modest hill between miles 2 and 3. I missed the next couple of mile markers so pace was a mystery from 2 miles on.
    In the end we finished 14th overall in 2:47:55 (6:12 pace), 1st in the Coed Masters Division. For our efforts we get a brick! Congrats to my teammates!!

    As for my 4.75 mile leg, I finished with a time of 28:30, 6:00 pace even. Of course my car was still at the previous transition area so as soon as I finished my leg I turned around and ran the leg in reverse back to my car (and yes, I got more than my share of "you're going the wrong way" comments). Once I got my car I started heading back to Lawrence for the post race party. As I was waiting for the light to change I spotted a familiar face standing in the cold...teammate Jeff Hunt. After running 9.5 miles he discovered a snafu with his transportation. His car was supposed to be at the end of his run. It wasn't. So he's been standing in the cold for over an hour, freezing his arse off. I picked him up, cranked up the heat (and heated seats!) and went looking for his car. We found it, making its way back to the transition area...finally. He survived and lived to run another day :-)

    Friday, December 4, 2009

    Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

    I know, if it does snow at all it's probably going to be closer to the lower number than the upper number but...
    I feel like a kid waiting for the first snowstorm of the season! Time to get the shoes out.

    Happiness is:

    Thursday, December 3, 2009

    November Wrap Up

    STATS for the month of November:

    total miles - 181.9
    # of runs - 26 (a couple two a days)
    # of rest days  - 9
    # of road runs - 9
    # of trail runs - 17
    # of races - 2

    Generally I had a really good month or running. I ran my first trail marathon (successfully) and also managed to run a race on Thanksgiving for the first time ever. I spent way more time on the trails than ever before, probably close to 70% of my miles. The only downside is most of this was done at night and my feet have taken a beating, with numerous ankle turns, jammed toes and the like (not to mention tree rash). I had to take 3 days off in the last week of November just to rest my feet. All better now!

    2000 miles for the year is not looking promising at this point. I'd have to average 9.2 miles/day to achieve that arbitrary milestone. I can tell you right now that ain't gonna happen :-)

    No snow in sight......bummer.

    Saturday, November 28, 2009

    Great Gobbler 5k Trail Race

    I've been nursing a sore foot/ankle this week (one too many ankle turns on the trails), so I went into rest mode...mostly. By Thanksgiving Day I only had 5 miles for the week. Until this year I've never run on Thanksgiving Day. No particular reason why, I'm not against it or anything, it just never really interested me.

    I'm not a very good rester. Running takes up a lot of my time so when I don't do it I get antsy. On Thanksgiving morning I got up early and headed down to Nashua to run in my very first Turkey Day race. Whoohoo! Lots of things made this attractive:
    • 8am start
    • $10 entry fee
    • trail race
    • run mostly in Mine Falls in Nashua
    I've never seen so many folks at a Mine Falls race (results), and this one had nearly 600 finishers. There were a few familiar faces from GCS, bunches of high school xc runners and a ton of regular joes.The start was one of the strangest I've seen in a while, starting on the track for the first 250m or so. I was one of the tallest on the line (if you can believe that), mostly because there were a boatload of little kids all crammed up front. As far as I could tell, no gun went off, people (kids) just started running. I followed suit and immediately got jammed in behind a herd of  little kids and they were moving, at least for about 200m. It was a pain, it was dangerous (for them and us tall folks) and the RD should have said something at the start. 200m in and they were spent and most settled in somewhere back in the pack.
    I had seen the Nashua xc coach out marking the course before the race and he had one of those wheel measurement thingies so I assumed the mile markers were correct.  At the first mile (5:31) it was Bill Newsham, Steve Pickett and myself (all masters) running pretty close together. I was probably in the top 15 at this point. We stayed in this order all the way through mile 2 (5:41), but as we headed up the slight hill near the power lines Steve passed Bill. We may have picked off a few high school runners as well. As we ran along the canal in the final mile we passed Kevin McIntrye (out for a training run), who yelled out my position (11th), egging me to get a top 10 finish. Of course I'd have to pass Bill (which doesn't happen often)  to do it. Right before the bridge I passed Bill, trying to separate from him as much as possible. As we headed back onto the track for the last 300m I thought for sure Bill was going to catch me. I didn't look back and focused on trying to stay with Steve in front of me. In the end Steve finished in 18:48, I was 5 seconds back in 18:53 and Bill 1 second behind in 18:54.
    Oh, and it wasn't really a 5k. The published distance in the results was actually 5.25k so I averaged 5:47's for the race. I managed to finish 10th overall, 3rd masters. Brian Ruhm (2:43 at Baystate) was the first masters in 18:31, followed by Steve Pickett and myself. It felt good and I didn't hurt my foot or ankle. Not a bad way to start the day!

    Place Div/Tot  Name                 Ag S No.  City            St Time    Pace  
    ===== ======== ==================== == = ==== =============== == ======= ===== 
        1   1/54   JOHN SCHROEDER       22 M    1 NASHUA          NH   17:00  5:14 
        2   1/32   JOHN CONLIN          16 M  313 MERRIMACK       NH   18:07  5:35 
        3   2/54   RYAN MCCARTY         21 M  167 NASHUA          NH   18:15  5:37 
        4   3/54   SETH TUCKER          23 M  354 NASHUA          NH   18:22  5:39 
        5   2/32   CHRISTOPHER BUSBY    15 M   31 MERRIMACK       NH   18:24  5:40 
        6   1/70   BRIAN RUHM           44 M  397 NASHUA          NH   18:31  5:42 
        7   4/54   JOSHUA GRANT         19 M  549 NASHUA          NH   18:35  5:43 
        8   5/54   SETH HAFFERCAMP      20 M  109 MERRIMACK       NH   18:41  5:45 
        9   2/70   STEPHEN PICKETT      45 M  208 MERRIMACK       NH   18:48  5:48 
       10   3/70   STEVE WOLFE          45 M  350 MERRIMACK       NH   18:53  5:49 
       11   4/70   BILL NEWSHAM         44 M  513 BROOKLINE       NH   18:54  5:49 
       12   3/32   RYAN HAGGERTY        18 M  111 MERRIMACK       NH   18:55  5:50 
       13   6/54   ADRIAN WONG          21 M  531 MERRIMACK       NH   18:58  5:51 
       14   5/70   RANDY MACNEILL       48 M  501 EPPING          NH   19:06  5:53 
       15   7/54   BRANDYN NARO         22 M  558 MERRIMACK       NH   19:09  5:54 

    Friday, November 20, 2009

    2010 NEGP Series - Results are in (and they stink)

    Ok, my opinion, but I think they picked the absolute worst possible slate of races.
    Slate C was selected, along with the Baystate Marathon. Conflicts with other races and loads of traveling are the highlights. Apparently that's attractive to a large group of runners.

    Although I don't agree with the choices, I do like the new voting process (even though we end up with most of the same races). The runners of New England have spoken.

    • Jones Group Realtors 10 Mile, Amherst MA, Sunday Feb. 28
    • New Bedford Half Marathon, New Bedford MA, Sunday Mar 21
    • Bedford Rotary Memorial 12K, Bedford NH, Saturday May 22
    • Rhody 5K (MEN ONLY) , Lincoln RI , Sunday June 6
    • Stowe 8 Miler, Stowe VT, Sunday July 18
    • Bridge of Flowers 10K , Shelburne Falls MA, Saturday August 14
    • PRMH Women's Classic 5K (WOMEN ONLY), Providence RI, Sunday Oct. 3
    • Baystate Marathon, Lowell MA, Sunday Oct 17
    Update (with some positive comments)
    Maybe I was too harsh, definitely too negative. So I'll try to say something positive about the selections.
    1. Jones Group 10 Miler - I ran this one in 2009 and actually liked the race. The course is tough (lots of hills, some dirt roads) but fair. I kind of like having a race in February. Not much else going on (except the snowshoe series, of course). The finish is kind of hokey, with a 200m run around a parking lot that kills all momentum.
    2. New Bedford Half Marathon - Potential for being a very fast course. PR'd in 2009. However, fish sandwiches are not the post-race food of choice for me.
    3. Bedford Rotary 12k - Right in my own backyard (9 miles away), and I've only run this race once (but not on the new course). Looking forward to it.
    4. Rhody 5k - I ran this one in 2009. I'm one of the few runners that didn't mind the course. I think it technically does run around the parking lot of Lincoln Park but it never seemed like it to me. Another crappy finish though. Run through a little gate opening, make a 90 degree turn and run 100yds on the dirt dog track. Again, talk about taking all the momentum out of your run. BUT, this race has the hands-down best food of any race I've ever run. There is more food, more selection, more everything than any other race out there. I may go for just the food next year.
    5. Stowe 8 miler - Beautiful area, nice course. I made a weekend out of it with Deb back in 2006. Good thing we did cuz my race was awful. Definitely top 5 worst performances of all time, maybe even #1. My notes from that day said "hot, humid and hard". Oh yeah, I was supposed to be positive. Ok, as bad as my race was, it could have been worse (like Mike Wade's) :-)
    6. Bridge of Flowers 10k - Not sure if I have anything positive to say. I've never run this one, never heard anyone say anything but it's the hardest friggin 10k ever. It has a pretty name.
    7. No comment on the women's only race. It doesn't involve me.
    8. Baystate Marathon - Ran it in 2008 (PR). I liked the course, flat and setup perfectly for running at a consistent pace. Plus, it's 20 minutes from home. Very easy to get in and out of.
    There's my attempt at putting a positive spin on next years NEGP series!

    Random Thoughts

    That's my way of saying I can't focus on anything in particular. I really don't have anything to say but decided to post anyways.
    • I ran into a tree while trail running at night on Tuesday. Actually, I tripped on a rock/root on a narrow single track and could not react quick enough. I stopped my forward progress with my forearm, creating a new term (for me): Tree Rash - sort of like bark induced road rash. For the record, just as painful.
    • I ran the same trail loop last night...in reverse. That tree has scarred me, emotionally and physically :-)
    • It's hunting season. I dress appropriately. I see hunters, I hear gunshots. Last night I heard at least 15-20 shots in succession. All I could think of was a hunter seeing a deer (briefly) and then firing randomly in the hopes of getting lucky.
    • I swear I heard what sounded like an injured coyote while running at night, on the trails, alone. I wasn't scared but it was a little unnerving. Of course it didn't help that I recently read an article on a coyote attack. Running scared at night through the woods would not have been a good plan and most likely would have got me injured. I stayed calm and finished my run. I even ran the same route last night (although the hunter with the itchy trigger finger probably scared away any living creature for miles).
    • I've averaged 8.2 miles per run since Stonecat, running 5 days a week. >60% have been on trails. I think I got the message at Stonecat: trails are your training friend.
    • I don't know what possessed me to sign up for the Boston Marathon. I'm glad I did. It sold out the week after I signed up.
    • I've never run a race on Thanksgiving Day. That streak may end this year.
    • Mill Cities Relay will be my last race of the 2009 season on December 6th. This will be my first time running on a Coed Masters team.
    • Indoor track starts at the Hampshire Dome on December 8th. I love this track!
    • I Love Woodford will be my 1st race of the 2010 (snowshoe) season on December 27. Boy, that was a short off season :-)
    • The first snowshoe run of last year was December 17th. It can't snow soon enough this year. I can't wait to snowshoe!
    • I ran four 10-mile races and zero 10k races in 2009. When did the 10-miler become so popular?
    • Just once I'd like to have an "*" next to my time in a race. The "*" means you've exceeded the Time Standards for National Rankings in your age-group. It ain't easy. I'd have to run 1:00:00 for 10 miles, 1:19:00 for a half marathon or a 2:45:00 for the marathon, for instance.

    Monday, November 16, 2009

    Boston Marathon Registration has Closed

    From their website:

    - REGISTRATION FOR THE 2010 BOSTON MARATHON HAS CLOSED. Registration for the 2010 Boston Marathon has closed. Registration began on September 9, and the Boston Athletic Association is unable to accept additional entries.

    I decided to take advantage of my BQ from last year (Baystate Marathon) and run Boston one more time. It's always bugged me that I had such a bad experience in my one and only Boston back in 2003. Good news is it won't take much to top it. Yes, it sucked that bad.

    So Boston 2010 here I come! Thankfully I registered just in time.

    Wednesday, November 11, 2009

    New Marathon in New Hampshire for 2010

    When: Sunday, October 3rd 2010
    Where: Hampton, NH
    Cost: $65 (after December 31st)

    Right now it's being billed as the flattest marathon in New England. It will be certified and a Boston Qualifier as well. Click on the icon above for a link to the website.

    Tuesday, November 10, 2009

    Trails are the way to go

    So you don't think the surface you run on has any affect on your muscles? I ran a marathon (on trails) Saturday and except for a little stiffness in my calves on Sunday I'm pretty much back to 100% recovered.
    I ran 5 easy miles on Sunday and ran for 75 minutes last night on the trails in Horse Hill. I feel great, stairs are not evil and nothing hurts.

    Too bad the trail racing season just wrapped up with Stonecat....

    Sunday, November 8, 2009

    Stonecat Race Report

    There's something to be said about a race that starts at 6:15am. How many times can you say you ran a marathon, drove an 1hr home and still made it back by noon?

    Saturday was a beautiful day in Ipswich, MA for the Stonecat (results) Trail Marathon (and some sort of 50 mile thingy). Temps were hovering near 30 but it was sunny, clear and calm. I opted for shorts, a long sleeve coolmax shirt and my new sleeveless acidotic RACING shirt. Perfect choice as I was comfortable the entire race (except the waiting at the start...that was cold). I decided to go with my INOV-8 Mudroc 280's which also turned out to be a fine choice as well.

    I carried a hand-held water bottle (which I normally don't like to do), along with some Endurolyte tablets (which I took every 45 minutes) and 3 Stinger Honey gels (which I took every hour). I had studied the map and very detailed course directions with distances and picked out a few mile markers (2 mile and 10 mile) I could use to check on my pace, mostly to make sure I wasn't going out to fast. That all fell apart pretty quickly.

    At 6:15ish we were off. The marathoners and those other guys all started together but the shorties quickly veered off to add the necessary 1.2 miles to our total distance (since the loop course was 12.5 miles). The secondary affect was to separate us to ease congestion on the early trails. The plan was to check my pace at the 2 mile mark and adjust as necessary. Unfortunately when we got to the 2 mile mark my plan was already shot: my watch had stopped somewhere in the first 2 miles. So much for my plan...

    Plan B - stick with some runners and see what happens. Ben Nephew and Greg Hammett took the early lead and separated from the rest of us pretty quickly. The chase pack (I use that term loosely) consisted of about 6 of us and was led by Garry Harrington early on. We caught the tail end of the 50-folks just after the 2 mile mark and spent the next 2 miles getting past them on a pretty tight single track. Looking back I 'm glad they were there as it kept our pace in check. Otherwise we would have smoked the first lap. Once we got past the packs of 50-folks I settled into the back of our little pack (mostly). At times they got a bit ahead (100-200yds) but I managed to reel them back in throughout the first lap. I suspect this led to my less than stellar performance on my second lap but more on that later.

    The course was described as muddy and we were told we would get our feet wet. It was a little muddy but all of it was avoidable. The wet spots were a little tougher but also doable as long as you were willing to walk carefully over wet (almost icy) sticks and logs. Me, I was willing to walk a bit for dry feet. There were lots of ups and downs but no killer hills (thank you!). I'd say the majority was single track and the rest double track (60/40). I think its amazing people can run as fast as they did since most of the single track was constant back and forth switch backs (is that redundant?). It was very hard to maintain any speed through these sections. Although I never got off course, there were times I thought I was. The course was well marked but with all the leaves on the ground most of the trail features were now gone. It wasn't always clear where to go. Not a complaint, just a comment. Like I said, I didn't get lost (but others did, even some veteran Stonecat racers).

    Ok, back to the race. The first lap flew by. I felt very comfortable and enjoyed my position in the back of the back in 7th or 8th place. It stayed this way until maybe mile 10 or 11 and I moved up a few spots. Actually, I think the other guys fell back. By the time we got back to the start/finish area for the completion of the 1st loop I was solidly in 6th place. My time for the first 13.7 miles was 1:38 something (around a 7:10 pace). Andy King, Mark Engerman (2:44 at Baystate) and his training partner Jeff Hunt were running about 30-50yds ahead of me at the turn as I stopped and refilled my bottle. By the time I was off again they were gone, never to be seen again. No matter how hard I tried I could not even get them in sight again and ran the entire second lap all by my self. No one in front and surprisingly no one behind.

    The second lap was MUCH harder, physically and mentally. I really wishI had someone to run with or chase. I kept hoping I'd eventually catch up to someone but it just never happened, well almost...
    I totally lost track of my pacing and really felt like I throttled back a bit. In all fairness, I think the physical aspect of the race had more to do with my pace slowing considerably. I didn't realize how much until after the race. I was definitely getting tired, with my hammies and calves starting to tighten up. No cramps, just everything getting tired. My feet were really getting tired and sore too. All the rocks and roots were taking a toll on my feet. I really didn't feel any blisters developing until 2 miles from the finish. The strangest thing happened. I was running along all fine (mostly) and then it felt like a little water balloon exploded in my shoe....and then instant pain. I suspected (and later confirmed) a blister had developed and then popped between two of my toes. It was a painful finish but I pushed on knowing I only had a couple of miles to go.

    Finally I entered into the soccer field for the last 200yds to the finish. I was running pretty well coming in and then I spotted a runner just ahead. At first I thought it was a 50 miler but when he reached down and grapped his hamstring I put 2 and 2 together and recognized him as Andy King. He was hobbling and hurting. I definitely picked up the pace and hoped I could sneak in with 5th place instead of 6th. 5th overall sounds so much cooler than 6th! I passed Andy with about 50yds to go and immediately almost felt bad. Did I make the right choice? Should I have let him finish ahead of me?

    I finished in 3:18:23. Overall I was very happy with this time and generally have no issues with it. I ended up running the second half (12.5 miles) in 1:40, which is pretty close to 8 min/mile. I guess I slowed way more than I had thought. That part was initially a little disappointing until I told myself I only ran one training run over 2hrs and that was the Friday before the race. So I'm happy again :-)

    The GAC folks are amazing and put on a terrific race. No sooner had I crossed the finish line and a woman walks up and hands me my finishers jacket. So? Well, she's checking the name and number of each finisher, matching it to a list and making sure everyone gets the proper size jacket...just like we specified. Pretty slick.

    Swag - Marathon finishers jacket and long sleeve race shirt

    I told Andy after the race I felt kind of bad but he didn't seem to mind. He had been limping in for some time, probably expecting someone to finally catch up to him. The way I look at it is 1) it is a race and 2) I didn't finish any different if he wasn't there. I always try to finish strong and run hard until the end, whether I'm racing someone to the finish or not.

    I hung out for a while watching the marathoners finish and some of the 50 milers finish their 2nd of four laps but it was actually cold when you were just standing around. I also had two kids who were playing in soccer playoffs and all-star games so I decided to head back to Merrimack.

    No results posted as of Sunday but you can refer to mye previous post for at least the top 12.
    Good times.

    Saturday, November 7, 2009

    Stonecat Trail Marathon -quick update

    3:18:23 (5th overall)

    Had a great time on a perfect day for running. Very satisfying day. I plan on writing more about the race later.

    Top 12 (that's all I could read before I left)
    1. Ben Nephew 2:54:45 (new course record)
    2. Greg Hammett 3:09:30
    3. Jeff Hunt 3:09:50
    4. Mark Engerman 3:11:59
    5. Steve Wolfe 3:18:23
    6. Andy King 3:18:31
    7. Michael Lohrer 3:32:09
    8. Stanislav Trufanov 3:34:48
    9. Kevin Sullivan 3:35:35
    10. Dave Molk 3:44:33
    11. Garry Harrington 3:44:35
    12. Bruce Campbell 3:45:19

    Thursday, November 5, 2009

    Senior Moment

    Well, maybe a master moment. I've been preparing (physically and mentally) for Stonecat this weekend, checking the weather, deciding on clothes, verifying driving directions, checking out the course map and trying to figure out a pacing strategy. I like to be prepared. I like to have everything figured out in advance. No surprises, no stress. Everything was going great and I was looking forward to racing on Sunday.....

    The only problem is, the race is actually on Saturday! Talk about an almost major oops. I was on the GAC website yesterday checking driving directions....again...and happened to see the date of the race at the top of the page: Saturday, November 7 2009. Next time I should just look at my Race Schedule on my own blog.

    Friday, October 30, 2009

    7.6 Miles per day

    That's what I would need to average everyday to break 2,000 miles for the year. Probably not going to happen but I bet I get close. Not really a goal, just an interesting number.

    Thursday, October 29, 2009

    Tour de Horse Hill

    One of my new favorite runs is what I call the Tour de Horse Hill. It is run entirely within the boundaries of Horse Hill Nature Preserve in Merrimack,NH and acts as my primary training grounds for my next race: the Stonecat Trail Marathon in 10 days.

    The trails (until yesterday) have been in great shape. A lot of work has been done over the last year to clean up the trails, build bridges and cut new trails around some of the wetter sections of the preserve. It is a HUGE improvement over just a year ago and I'm fortunate to have access to these trails just 3 miles from my house.

    The Tour consists of running nearly every trail in HHNP with as little backtracking as possible. Although I've never measured it, my guess is it's in the 10 mile range, good for nearly 1 1/2hrs of trail enjoyment. My new favorite trail (and one of the only ones I need to backtrack on since it's an out and back) is the Quarry Trail. It connects HHNP with Wasserman Park and is probably the most technical single track in HH.

    I headed out last night for another tour in my quest to test various gear in all kinds of weather conditions. I want to be sure I make the right gear choices for Stonecat. Turned out to be an abbreviated tour due to the trail conditions. It was cold (low 40's) and raining. Actually, raining really doesn't describe what it was doing. It was more like running in a waterfall. I don't think I've ever run in rain like that before. ALL trails were 100% flooded and most were ankle deep with water.....very cold water. Although my GoreTex shell kept the top half warm and dry, my feet were absolutely frozen, to the point of hurting. If it rains like that at Stonecat I'm staying home. Seriously, it was dangerous out there and I was only running for about an hour and 20 minutes. Dedication or stupidity?

    Monday, October 26, 2009

    White Mountain Half Marathon

    I set my alarm clock for 5am before I went to bed Saturday night. With nearly a 2 1/2hr drive on Sunday I figured I'd get to North Conway for the 24th annual White Mountain Half Marathon (results) with just over an hour to spare. Not Scotty Graham early but good enough for me. As usual I was awake before the alarm went off so I got up, got dressed and headed down stairs. As I walked into the dark kitchen I noticed every digital clock displayed 6:15am, not 5:15am. What the? A check of my watch also confirmed the actual time: 6:15am. Oh crap! I knew immediately what had happened. My alarm clock automatically changes the time for Daylight Savings. Cool feature, except when our government changes the day from the last Sunday in October to a week later. Of course I immediately shift into full stress mode. I envision myself showing up with 15 minutes to spare and even showing up late. I don't like to be late...for anything. I've driven to North Conway a million times, you'd think I'd remember how long it actually took to get there. So for the next 2+hrs I drive a tad above the posted speed limit, stressed out. But wait, there's more! As I get near the end of Rt104 in Meredith I notice a police car parked in the middle of the road. The road is closed! You can't be serious? I look up....nope, the sky isn't falling. The nice police officer directs me down a side road. Have a nice day. No signs, no directions, no idea where to go now. I do my best Jeff Gordon-Watkins Glen impression trying to find a way back to recognizable roads and finally make it back onto Rt3. I'm stressing out so bad now my lower back is starting to seize up. All the time I'm constantly doing math in my head trying to figure out how much time I have. You see, my friends....this is exactly why people like me need to leave and arrive early.

    I arrive at 8:30am. Phew. I head over to registration, grab my number and head back to my car to change. I'm back at the start just before 9am, ready to go (except I skipped the warm up). And then I hear the announcement: Walkers start at 9am. Runners start at 9:30am!!!!!!!!!!! You got to be kidding me.

    Ok, enough with the back story. Yes, there was a race yesterday as well. At 9:30am I lined up right in front. I've done this race before and it has a strange start. It starts in the side parking area next to the Eastern Slope Inn, runs about 100ft and then turns left 90 degrees onto Main St before heading down West Side Rd. To avoid any bottleneck you need to be in front. Also strange is for the 3rd week in a row I don't recognize anyone in the crowd. There is a CMS guy (John Pajer) and a WMM guy (Tim Livingston) but no other race singlets I could see.

    As we make the turn onto West Side Rd Tim is running alone out front, followed by a young kid (the eventual winner) and then John Pajer. Then there's probably 5 or 6 of us running in a pack not too far back. And then I notice a bandit join right in front of our pack. For some reason this really bugs me. 1. The race is only $40. 2. It's the White Mountain friggin half marathon. Come on loser...

    It was a beautiful day, a great day for running. Temps in the mid 50's and sunny. It was a bit breezy and that would become very noticeable later on. I got into a groove pretty early on and felt great. It was my mission for the day to drop that stupid bandit though. He bugged me. I chased him down for the first 5 miles before finally putting the hammer down in mile 6 (my fastest mile of the day) and dropped him (and the rest of our pack) for good. For most of the first 8 miles or so I was clicking off 6:15's, although at the time I didn't know it. I never looked at my watch and just ran hard. For all of the second half of the race I was in 4th place o/a, all alone. The only hiccup of the race came in miles 9-11. The breezy day turned into a pretty strong head wind and my pace suffered, running 6:31, 6:41 and 6:28 during this stretch. John Pajer maintained a good minute or so on me for most of the race but I managed to narrow the gap in the last couple of miles as I got back on pace. I finished strong, 29 seconds back of John (3rd place) and 4th place overall in a time of 1:22:45 (6:19 avg). So in the 24th annual White Mountain half marathon and my 24th half marathon lifetime, I ran my 2nd fastest race ever. I'll take it!

    Now if you've never run this race you're missing out on a great event. For 40 bucks you get a beautiful, mostly flat course, well supported by tons of volunteers. The water stops are manned by some of the loudest, most enthusiastic kids I've seen at any race. A nice, long sleeve tech shirt plus a finishers medal are also included. The Eastern Slopes Inn even opens up a bunch of rooms for runners to take showers after the race. On top of that they serve up one of the best post-race meals anywhere, hosted by the Flatbread Pizza Company. Pizza, pasta, salads, pulled pork, soup, cider, cookies, bread and probably more stuff that I missed. Nothing like good hot foot after a nice fall race. I'll be back next year.

    photo credit - Tami C.

    Monday, October 19, 2009

    Great Week

    Last week was one of my best weeks of training in a long time. I felt great every day. No aches, no pains, no fatigue. I think a lot has to do with the weather. I love to run when it's colder so this time of year is perfect running weather in my book.

    I managed to get about 22 miles on the trails with the rest on the roads for a nice weekly total of 63.5 miles for the week. If I'm not mistaken, that's a personal high for me. On Wednesday we had our last track workout of the season (outdoor). Short and sweet: 3 x 1600's which I clicked off at 5:45, 5:39 and 5:26.

    I also decided to run the Kelly Mann 5k on Saturday (Nashua) to gauge my current fitness. It was the perfect course to do it on since it was almost pancake flat. The only thing missing was the competition. I led(easily) from start to finish, finishing 1st overall in a time of 18:10ish. I think the next closest runner was nearly 3 minutes back. Oh well, a win is a win I guess. I was generally happy with my time but I know I could have gone faster. I could have used someone besides the pace-bicycle to to push me along. It's actually a very nice race, run on fairly quiet roads behind Rivier College. They had plenty of food and drink, lots of medals and trophies and a pretty impressive raffle, plus it was for a good cause!

    Saturday, October 10, 2009

    A Pleasant Climb Trail Race

    For the second weekend in a row I found myself in the Lake Sunapee area for a race. This time I headed just east of RT89 and arrived in New London, NH for the 2nd annual A Pleasant Climb trail race (results). The 12.5km trail race was part of the Western New Hampshire Trail Running Series and the Eastern New England Trail Race Series. In reality, neither series brought me here, the chance to run something new had more to do with it.

    As usual I got there early, registered, chatted briefly about the course with the RD (Chad Denning), changed and headed out for a warm up run. Last week I ran a road race with the first 2 miles actually off road. This week, believe it or not, I ran a trail race with the first 2 miles all on pavement. What are the chances?? It's almost too bad because the trail part of the race was excellent.

    I could have done without the first 2 mile section. Not only was it pavement, it was ALL downhill and VERY steep. No kidding, it was like running down Mt Washington (almost). Quad hammering, foot slapping, 2 miles of killer downhill. Talk about getting your quads warmed up. Geesh. I finally hit the woods in 11:30 (5:45 pace), and I was already in 11th place. I would stay in that position for the entire race. The next 3ish miles was the namesake of the race, a Pleasant Climb. We started at Lake Pleasant (the low point in New London) and then gradually climbed up to Morgan Hill (the high point in New London). According to the RD, it was indeed a pleasant climb. After destroying my quads in the first 2 miles, the 3 mile climb wasn't so pleasant, but I did manage to run the entire climb. It was a beautiful trail, following a brook for a good portion of it. It was also what I'd call discretely well marked. Plenty of signs to mark the way but you had to look for them.

    Ah, but there's more! Once at the top, the trail jumped back on a road for probably 1 1/2 miles, and the first 1/2 mile or so was pavement...again. This time, it really was Mt Washington steep. More punishment for my already aching quads...great. I think we lost most of the elevation gained climbing in this short 1/2 mile pavement section. After that the road turned to dirt and generally flattened out for the next mile, giving my legs a bit of relief. The last mile or so put us back in woods (more like a swamp). At least it was flat. It was a very strange trail. The first half really was like running through a swamp because it was so wet. The second half was almost totally dry BUT had dozens and dozens of bog bridges. It didn't make any sense at all. Whatever.

    57:48 later I was finished. 11th overall, 2nd masters. I actually finished 4 seconds behind the 1st place master. Sounds close (and it was), but in reality he probably had a 2 minute lead over me in the last mile and somehow missed a turn. By the time he got back on course I was right with him but couldn't get by him in the last 1/2 mile or so.

    Overall it was a good race and I had a good time. They had a nice raffle after the race, including a couple of pairs of Inov-8's, which unfortunately I did not win :-(
    All age group winners also walked away with a choice of 4 different freshly made breads.

    Monday, October 5, 2009

    Pinnacle Challenge

    acidotic RACING was out in full force yesterday in Newport,NH for Pinnacle Challenge V, probably the only double-duathlon you'll find (if you were looking!). aR fielded 4 teams plus a solo entry in the 5 mile road run, 5.5 mile mountain bike, 13.75 mile road bike and 3.4 mile trail run event (results). With four, 4-person teams plus a soloist, there was some serious inter-club braggin' rights on the line (not to mention the chance for FREE BEER FOR A YEAR!). Let's just say it doesn't suck to be sponsored by a brewery :-)

    Our team included myself on the road run, Chris Dunn on the mountain bike, Geoff Cunningham on the road bike and Brent Tkaczyk on the trail run. I liked our chances! We were ready for some racing!!
    Geoff, Steve, Chris, Brent

    My day would start early and end early...only because I was doing the 1st leg, the 5 mile road run. Turns out the first 2 miles of the road was more like a cross country run, with the first 1/2m run across a field and the next 1 1/2 miles run on a rail-trail. Nothing overly difficult, just an odd way to start a road run. About the 2 mile mark the course hit the pavement, and the only significant hill on the run. The next 1/2 mile was a series of short climbs. By mile 2.5 the hills were gone and it was either downhill or flat the rest of the way back. Miles 3 and 4 were along a nice country road which even included a run through a covered bridge. We were essentially running around the perimeter of a small grass airfield (Parlin Field). Once around the airfield it was a straight 1 mile shot back to Newport High School and the location of the transition area.

    At 9:30am we were off. I settled into a fairly comfortable pace through the fields, trying to find someone to pace off of. By the time we hit the rail trail I was probably in 10th place o/a. Derrick Hamel (acidotic RACING 2) already had a sizable lead, followed by Justin Soucy (one of my GCS track coaches) in a distant second. By the time we left the trail and hit the roads at mile 2 I had picked off a few runners and settled into 7th place behind Eric Williams (Team High Speed Vomit, GSRT runner). Eric and I would essentially run back and forth the rest of the way, never really being more than a few yards apart. His team were the defending champs so I really needed to stay with him if I could.

    Eric and me at about 3 1/2 miles
    Heck, I wasn't going to catch team aR2 so I had to focus on somebody! Running together helped us close the gap on a few more runners by the time we got back to the final 1 mile straightaway. With 1/2 mile to go I had moved up to 4th but wouldn't look back to see where Eric was. As we turned onto the grass with about 50m to the transition area I found out where he was...going by me! Man do I HATE getting passed right at the finish!!!! I entered the transition at 28:20, 4 seconds behind Eric and Team Vomit and exactly 2 minutes behind Derrick of aR2. Now all I could do was wait (and take pictures!).

    Special note: Derrick had the fastest road run split of the day with a 26:20.

    After my run I went up into the woods to take some pics of the mountain bikers and some of the early trail runners before heading back to the transition area to catch the finish. Unfortunately I wasn't able to get any photos of the road bikers (sorry Geoff!) Chris would hammer the bike (42:34) and not only make up the 2 minute deficit but also tack on an additional 11 minute gap over aR2.

    Chris on the descent

    Geoff would have a very comfortable cushion to start his ride. He too would not give an inch to aR2 and even managed to pick up 38 more seconds, averaging nearly 22mph on his 13.75 mile ride, with a time of 37:59.

    Geoff back from his warm up ride

    Interestingly, both the mountain bike and trail run would ascend a wicked set of stairs (yes, Chris had to carry his bike up the stairs), before heading further up the mountain course. The lead solo athlete reached the top, placed his bike down and popped his rear tire on a nail. He managed to repair the flat AND still finish 2nd OVERALL (including teams)....1st solo finisher in 2:11:00.

    Brent climbing 100+ stairs up a seriously steep hill

    Brent was our more than capable anchor leg to finish up the day. With a nearly 12 minute lead over aR2, only an injury would doom us. Thankfully doom was not in our forecast today and Brent ran the 5th fastest trail split of the day (26:21), and our team finished a strong 4th overall in a time of 2:16:40. Tim Cox of aR2 made a herculean effort, making up 2 minutes and 14 seconds in the 3.4 mile trail run but in the end it was not enough. Team Vomit finished first in 2:09:20.

    Brent bringing it home!

    Special note: Tim Cox of aR2 had the fastest trail run split of the day with a 23.58.

    Final acidotic RACING Results:
    1. acidotic RACING 1 (Steve, Chris, Geoff, Brent) 2:16:40
    2. acidotic RACING 2 (Derrick, Steve, Jay, Tim) 2:26:17
    3. acidotic RACING 3 (Kurt, Brayden, Jay, Austin) 2:48:02
    4. acidotic RACING 4 (Karen, Sarah, Scott, Rich) 2:50:10 (NOTE: 3rd Coed Team)
    5. Steve Sprague - solo racer 3:03:34

    Friday, October 2, 2009


    For various reasons, I haven't been to track in 3 weeks. Generally speaking I'm fairly satisfied with my running at the moment. I had my highest weekly mileage of the year (56) last week and September was my highest mileage month (180) since last October. Both of those numbers are high for me. The only exception is my speed. I'm not really sure what it is or if I have it. I think most of my doubt is due to my lack of road racing recently. I just don't have anything to go by, so I question it instead.

    There was a pretty small group at track on Weds, probably due to there being a NHGP race on Saturday, but it was also cold (near 50). I ran with Joe Rogers and Jim Hansen in group 1, and the workout was fairly easy (800, 800, 1600, 800, 800), all with 400 rest.

    Right from the start I just felt off. I had a good stride going for the 1st 400 but then it felt like my stride would fall apart, becoming very choppy. Although I was running consistent laps I just never got into it and relaxed.

    Interestingly (to me), I looked up the last time I ran this same workout (Feb 2009) and found I ran almost identical times. The glass half full guy might say I've held my speed all year, the glass half empty guy might say I haven't improved all year.

    Feb-09 Sep-09
    800m 2:46 2:48
    800m 2:43 2:44
    1600m 5:40 5:36
    800m 2:39 2:45
    800m 2:40 2:43

    Saturday, September 26, 2009

    Applefest Half Marathon Pictures

    I was in Hollis,NH this morning for the Applefest Half Marathon, not to run but to help out with course setup and work the water stop just after mile 6. For the 2nd year in a row I had a fine crew from the Hollis-Brookline High School sophomore class helping out (Harry Potter theme this year). Heck, they were so good I didn't hand out a single cup of water and instead decided to take some pictures.....a LOT of pictures!

    700+ pictures, the most I've ever taken. If you ran Applefest chances are I got a photo of you right after the 6 mile mark. Previous years I've been at mile 10 or 12 and at times the race can look like a death march. Not this year. The first half of Applefest is mostly flat or downhill so the runners were in fine spirits by the 6 mile mark. Lots of smiling, happy runners!

    Applefest Photo's

    Patrick Moulton was the first runner through, with Scott Rowe about 1 min 20 sec back (at the 6 mile mark). They stayed that way until the end (results).

    The race has sold out every year since 2003 (1200+ runners this year), but this year I noticed only 900 finished. Seems like a pretty high dropout rate. Odd.

    Applefest does have some special meaning for me personally. I started running again (after nearly 10 years of being a slug) in August of 2000. My first mile back was around a 12 min pace. About 7 weeks later I signed up and ran my first half marathon (Applefest). What the heck was I thinking?? I finished in a respectable 1:41:44 (7:46 pace) and promptly told my wife never to let me do that again. Later that month I signed up for my 1st marathon (Vermont City). I've had this running problem ever since. I blame my wife :-)

    Thursday, September 24, 2009

    Stone Cat Course Preview

    In November I'll be doing my first trail marathon (Stone Cat), put on by the folks at G.A.C. The marathon is actually the short race of the day, with a 50 miler going on at the same time. I am told if you want to do your 1st 50, this is the place to do it. The volunteers and support crews are top notch and the course is very runnable. Well just because I was told that doesn't mean I'm going to do it. I mean, it's 50 friggin miles! So, I opted for the shorty.

    The course is a 12.5 mile clockwise loop run entirely in Willowdale State Park in Ipswich,Ma. The marathon does 2 loops (plus a little extra at the start to spread runners out and get you to 26.2 miles), and the 50 milers do 4 loops. I emailed the RD to see if he had a course map (Mike Wade and I had planned to run the course on Thursday) and he offered to run with us instead. Even better!

    I headed over after work and met up with several folks who were running the course. We would start at the south side of the forest (around the 4.5 mile mark). There were seven of us total, and I think 4 were G.A.C. members. Marty Sullivan (RD) was our guide and led us around the course, providing tons of detail about the course (aids stations, hills, wet sections, etc). The G.A.C. members were full of stories and kept us entertained for the 2 hr run.
    We were joined by Chris, Al, Jim, Mae and Peter.

    The crew heading down one of the carriage roads

    As trail races go, this course is pretty tame. It's a nice mix of single track and carriage roads, but I'd say a bit more single track. The trails weren't overly rocky or rooty (except a couple of short sections), and only 1-2 spots that were even remotely wet. One section you could run around the water/mud, the other section was a little tougher (about 3 miles in). Other than that, the trails were dry. This course is 100% runnable.

    Typical single track

    There were a couple of short climbs up small hills, but most of the course was relatively flat. There were plenty of turns though. I am told the course is extremely well marked on race day (even though we got off course 2-3 times during the run).

    Afterwards Marty handed out a new course map along with wheel-measured turn by turn directions. I think he plans to post these on the G.A.C. website but I've included them below just in case. He also is planning a couple more training runs on the course over the next few weeks so if you're interested keep an eye on their website.

    Stone Cat Course Map

    Stone Cat Course Directions

    Wednesday, September 23, 2009

    Mind Games

    I stumbled across this video on Youtube and it got me wondering. Is this for real? Does our stride really change this quickly just by taking off our shoes?? The audio isn't great but I find the video fascinating. I love the side by side analysis.

    I know I run like that with shoes on. I have plenty of race pictures to prove it. I don't know for sure how I run barefoot. In my mind I think I run this way, but maybe it's just my brain playing mind games.

    In my continued quest to avoid getting injured, it does make me wonder if our shoes are at fault. Doesn't mean I'm going to be racing barefoot anytime soon though.

    Monday, September 21, 2009

    Reach the Beach 2009


    Mine Falls Milers - Team #8

    Another RTB is in the books (my 5th)! This continues to be my favorite race (event?) of the year and this year it was pretty darn near perfect. Sunny, cool temps, no injuries, no lost runners, no complaints (well, except for that dumb ass van going 5 mph, refusing to pull over even with a parade of vans piling up. I think I remember yelling words of encouragement as we went by.)

    This year we moved up into the 3:30pm start time (after getting annihilated in the 4pm start last year), but had similar results early on....DFL. Not a problem though and we took it in stride. Frank wasn't exactly dogging it, averaging 6:10's for the 8 mile opening leg. Although last in our start group early on, it wasn't as bad as last year. In 2008 we started with the last group of the day. Within 10 seconds of the start we were officially DFL in the entire race, acting as race sweeper, officially closing down the transitions as we went by. We ran alone (no runners in sight!) for nearly 7 hours before we finally passed our first runner. It was not fun.

    Frank on leg 1, alone and last

    This year we'd be starting with our competition, team Hey Bud! and team The Free Radicals. Hey Bud was a new team and we chatted a bit before the start. They were a bunch of Wake Forest Alumni runners, nice guys and they wanted to win (Mens Masters division). Most of us were pretty sure we'd be racing for 2nd this year.

    The strength of our team is our depth. We have no ringers. We could probably switch 10 out of 12 guys to any legs and not miss a beat. Kind of makes it easy assigning legs. In fact, this year I think more effort was put into making sure we had different legs from previous years. We do put some effort into our magical spreadsheet and are generally slaves to the spreadsheet once the race starts. Every effort must be made to beat your predicted time otherwise you'll hear it from the 11 other runners. No mercy, no 'nice try', nothing but a beat down. On the flip side, if you beat your time by too much you'll be accused of sandbaggin' your 1/2 marathon time. If you need a pat on the back or words of encouragement to make you feel good, you've joined the wrong team. The key to success on this team is to run like we think you should run, not how you think. We'll let you know if you did a good job :-)

    I know it sounds serious but it really isn't. Our motto is "We'll trash talk our team so you don't have to". It can be funny as heck sometimes. Run too slow and we'll threaten to send you to our retirement team: Grumpy Old Men. It's where Mine Falls Miler go when they get old and slow...well at least old (come on, it's a 50+ team, lighten up). Run too fast and you'll earn a trip to van 1 next year (van 1 runs about 20 more miles than van 2).

    I was in van 2 this year (runner 7) since I didn't meet the height requirement for van 1. I'd also be running three brand new legs (for me), leg 7, 19 and 31. After a pasta dinner at the Spaghetti Shed, we headed over to Attitash Ski Area, the start of my first leg. Van 1 was smoking, averaging 6:09's for the first 37.8 miles, 13 minutes ahead of schedule. Unfortunately team Hey Bud was also smokin' and probably had 10-15 minutes on us, maybe more. I'd be running my first two legs in the dark. I headed out at 7:22pm for my 7.2 mile run down to Echo Lake State Park. No warm up, zero to max heart rate. I passed a few runners in the middle but mostly I was all alone. Most legs are like that. With 3000 to 4000 runners you'd think you'd have the opportunity to run with someone but it just doesn't happen. Being a relatively faster team we do pass alot of runners along the way but we rarely run with anyone. I personally like to be pushed (by other runners) and find these types of races very hard mentally. 45:40 later I was done, with an average pace of 6:19. Van 2 continued on through the night as we made our way to the Kenneth Brett School in Tamworth 31.6 miles away. Van 2 averaged 6:30's during our first set of legs, staying 13 minutes ahead of schedule. By this time team Hey Bud was clearly kicking our butts with probably a 20 minute lead. We were pretty sure we were in 2nd, with the Free Radicals not far behind.

    Rest during a 24hr race is a relative term. Some sleep, most don't. There really isn't a lot of downtime when your not running. By the time you actually get to the next Vehicle Transition Area (VTA), get settled and ready to sleep, you really only have about 3 hrs until we need to get ready to run again. It was nearly midnight when we finally got to New Hampshire Technical College in Laconia. At 2:45am I would get my wake up call from van 1. Mike was due in at 3:05am so I had to hustle. Nothing gets me ready to run like sleeping outdoors in 40 degree weather, waking up and changing in the parking lot, and meandering down to the transition area in just enough time to see Mike coming in....all at 3am. No warm up, zero to max heart rate once again. Van 1 had cooled off a bit, only managing 6:43's over the last 38.7 miles and dropping to 11 1/2 minutes ahead of schedule. We were no longer watching for team Hey Bud. Maybe they thought we needed more rest. I guess van 2 would have to make up some time.

    My second leg (leg 19) was relatively short, finishing the 4.3 miles in 27:21 with another 6:19 average. Van 2 would cover a lot of ground during our second legs (39.5 miles) as we ran through Belmont, Gilmington, Barnstead, Pittsfield, Epson and finally Bear Brook State Park in Allenstown. We would average 6:41's. It was 8:30am and we were hungry. We did manage to get our overall time back up to 17 minutes ahead of schedule, however.

    Tim finishing up leg 23

    Steve 1/2 way thru leg 24

    Tent city at Bear Brook State Park

    After we left Bear Brook we headed over to the Henry Moore School in Candia (T26) for some breakfast. In my opinion, this is one of the best food stops on the course with the local fire dept cooking up a mighty fine breakfast. With the help of GPS we then made the quick trip to Kingston for our final rest of the day (T30) arriving shortly after 9am. Most of us laid down in the grass directly across from the transition area and watched the other teams come through. We would pay special attention to the faster runners, checking their team numbers and then checking their start time and race category. With a staggered start, you don't always know who your competition is. Around 11am we saw a fast runner. A quick check and we discovered they (Haverford College Honor Goats) were a masters team that started at 3pm (1/2hr before us). If Mike didn't get here by 11:30am we'd be in 3rd place.

    Mike arrived at 11:36am. Van 1 had run 37.4 miles with a 6:34 pace, increasing our time to 20 minutes above predicted. They were done for the day. Once again, van 2 would have to be the hero's and reel in the Honor Goats if we wanted 2nd place. No friggin way we were going to make up 6 minutes....I was happy with 3rd place. Surprisingly I was still feeling pretty good. My legs were a little stiff not but really sore.

    My final leg (leg 31)

    I was ready to run as the freakishly tall Mike handed off to "I look smaller in the photo than I really am" me. I had 6.7 miles to go, mostly with a tailwind. Apparently I was so fast that Denis wasn't quite ready when I got there 42:35 later, (with an avg pace of 6:21). As Steve T would say, we danced around a bit at the transition, not the best example on how to hand off.
    We had our van 1 drop off our next 2 runners in advance. We were concerned our runners would actually beat the van to the transitions since the legs were only 2.2 miles and 2 miles respectively. As it turned out we made it in time (barely).

    Denis handing off to Brad at T32

    John finishing leg 34

    We were all running well during our third legs. Well, everyone except Denis. He had a brutally hard 2.2 mile leg (which he claimed was hilly). Maybe he was just going slow so he wouldn't beat the van to the transition. Thanks Denis! Everyone was running well above predicted pace (except Denis). Brad, John and Tim all had nice runs. Steve T was running our anchor leg. After a slow start on his first leg he seemed to be coming around. We all hoped he had a good run otherwise he was off to the glue factory (aka Grumpy Old Men). Steve would run his fastest leg of the day and finished strong averaging 6:20's. Van 2 would run a measly 22.4 miles in the final 6 legs but we would average 6:23's.

    Just before 2pm we finished at Hampton Beach State Park. Hey Bud got the Masters victory in a time of 21:55:15 (6:20 avg), 6th overall. We managed to make up some time and finished with a respectable 2nd place (3 minutes ahead of the Haverford College), with a time of 22:29:11 (6:30 avg), 8th overall out of 400 teams. There was a little drama at the finish as Hey Bud was initially hit with a 2hr penalty. It took nearly an hour to find out where the penalty allegedly took place (T34). However, a phone call to T34 found no record of an infraction so the penalty was dropped. We were glad since we didn't want to win because of a penalty. They beat us fair and square, plus they seemed like good guys. Congrats to them.
    Complete results can be found here.
    I took a bunch of photos, mostly of van 2. Enjoy.

    Disclaimer: Although we (me) give the Grumpy Old Men a hard time, they are in fact a very talented 50+ team made up of fellow Gate City Striders. They finished this years race 25th overall, 1st in their division and would have placed 3rd in the 40+ teams (Super Masters) and 5th in the 30+ teams (Masters). Pretty impressive for a bunch of old farts!