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Downtown Temple,NH

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Hawley Kiln Snowshoe Race

My snowshoe racing season is officially over. Dungeon Rockers Bill Morse, Jay Curry and I (I'm not a Rocker, just an acidotic groupie) made the trek to the Mohawk Trail State Forest in Hawley, Ma for the 4.6 mile Hawley Kiln Snowshoe Race.

Hawley is a very rural mountainous town somewhere out in western Mass and seemed to be within spitting distance of a number of WMAC snowshoe races (Savoy, Moody Springs, Hallocville to name a few). A little factoid about Hawley is it's one of the most wintery towns in Massachussetts, averaging nearly 110" of snow each year.

Although the course had its share of hills (500ft of climbing), most of the climbing today was done in the car getting to the start (thankfully). If you looked up 'low frills race' in the dictionary, you'd find Hawley Kiln listed first. Registration looked like some sort of drug deal was going down, with people lining up at the drivers window of a small white van, handing the driver cash. Turns out this same white van doubled as the official timer as well.

Onto the race. The start climbed steadily for just under a mile on nicely groomed (and frozen) snowmobile trail before turning sharply into the woods on a trail that was just barely a single track. About 2/3 of the race would be on single track and it was not easy going. First, it was impossible to pass, stepping off the trail would put you in knee deep snow. Second, although the single track was frozen and seemed firm, it was an illusion. Almost immediately we were post holing, breaking through the thin frozen surface and sinking into a foot of snow. I followed a runner the entire time on the first 2 mile section of rolling single track, never looking up from his shoes, trying to avoid his post holes and not end up on my face. Somewhere around 3 miles we joined back up for a brief run on snowmobile trails before heading back onto the final mile of single track. I managed to pass the runner in front of me during this section and made up a little time. Turns out it was a little easier in front since I was a bit lighter and didn't break through as much. I knew I should have asked to pass.....oh well. At about 4 miles we jumped back onto the snowmobile trail for the last .6 miles to the finish.

Overall I was happy with my race, felt pretty good and finished strong. The top 20 are listed below and full results are located at WMAC. Turns out fellow acidotic RACING team mate Matt Cartier was there but I had no idea. With a no-frills race and no shelter, nobody really sticks around and chats much. Beth Herder has some great photos of the race here.

1 Dave Dunham 44 0:38:32 100
2 Matt Cartier 33 0:39:56 98.63
3 Tim Van Orden 40 0:41:20 97.26
4 Tim Mahoney 29 0:42:18 95.89
5 Peter Lagoy 49 0:43:05 94.52
6 Steve Wolfe 44 0:43:32 93.15
7 Brian Northan 34 0:44:12 91.78
8 Larry Dragon 48 0:44:56 90.41
9 Ken Clark 46 0:45:40 89.04
10 Amy Lane 29 0:46:48 87.67
11 Richard Teal 31 0:47:09 86.3
12 Bob Dion 53 0:47:48 84.93
13 Erik Wight 49 0:47:58 83.56
14 Jay Kolodzinski 29 0:49:42 82.19
15 Peter Malinowski 54 0:50:14 80.82
16 Jay Curry 37 0:50:28 79.45
17 Richard Chipman 48 0:50:40 78.08
18 Chelynn Tetreault 33 0:50:46 76.71
19 Glen Tryson 55 0:50:50 75.34
20 Pat McGrath 43 0:51:53 73.97

After the race a few of us did head over to the South Face Farm Sugar House for breakfast. Blueberry wheat pancakes with real maple syrup, bacon and coffee and good company. Not a bad way to end the season.

Now a little history of the kiln, the races namesake (courtesy of the 2002 WMAC newsletter).
The kiln was built in 1870 by a man named Albert Dyer. Mr. Dyer was building the kiln for a man named William O. Bassett, who in 1870 was Hawley’s most successful farmer. I don’t think at the time that Mr. Dyer thought he was building the most historical site in the Hawley State Forest. The kiln is also the oldest known flagstone charcoal kiln in New England.

The kiln is a beehive structure, 25ft high, 25ft in diameter and could hold 25 cord of wood during the charcoal process. Today, it is apparently a very popular hangout for connoisseurs of hops and barley based on the number of cans that litter its interior.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hawley Kiln & Sidehiller

I really tried to hang up my snowshoes for the season but I couldn't do it (at least not yet). I decided to head out to Hawley Kiln for one more snowshoe race on Saturday. I haven't heard a lot about the actual course but I've heard a TON about the post race breakfast at the South Face Farm Sugarhouse. I hope it lives up to the hype :-)

Sidehiller in the News -

A Lakes Region reader sent me the following scans from the Meredith News (or whatever the local paper is called). There was an article about the Sidehiller snowshoe race, with pics of several racers ( Kevin Tilton, Jim Pawlicki and John Skewes) and quotes from Dungeon Rock's Jay Curry and acidotic RACING's Liz Hall and myself.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Hawk Attack?

Check out the lastest blog post from our friends at New England Track and Trail (NETT). One of their runners was out for a run and a hawk swooped down and tried to carry him off. Unbelievable.

Here's the link to the post - Hawk Attack

Monday, February 23, 2009

Kingman Farm Moonlight Snowshoe Race

Saturday - I made the relatively short trip over to Madbury for the last race in the GSSS with wife and kids in tow. As usual I was early and as usual I was not the first. I think Scotty slept over and Jim Johnson was hanging in the Town Hall. Michael was setting up his timing equipment so I took a few minutes to swap out one of his cleats with a spare I had brought. It was nice to have an indoor facility, a fact not lost on my family (or me for that matter).
Jim and I headed out to run the last section of the course (Hicks Hill) to check conditions and course markings while we still had some daylight. After summiting up and over the hill we decided to run the entire course (backwards) since we had plenty of time and Jim likes to get his gazillion miles in anyways.
Oh, did I mention this was a night race. I did this race last year and it was one of my favorite races of the year. I was really looking forward to running it again. Surprisingly, this is the ONLY snowshoe race I've run this year that is exactly the same course as last year. Last year I was 5th out of 88 and ran 27:42.
As usual, Jim told me how he was going to take it easy, blah blah blah. Of course I said pretty much the same thing. We were both running the Jones Group 10-miler the next day so the smart thing would be to take it easy. Unfortunately that's not the way I run. I guess I can't help myself.

Deb (along with Ben and Jessica) positioned themselves about 100yds from the starting line and managed to get some interesting night video. Actually, the audio may be more interesting, at least it was for my kids (note their commentary).

The start was very narrow, maybe 4-5 wide tops. With a 107 snowshoers it meant they were stacked pretty deep. I settled in behind Josh Merlis and waited for the start command. It was a VERY fast start with about 5-6 shoers jumping out in front and me just trying not to trip, following comfortably behind (my favorite spot). Shortly after the first turn I slipped by Chris Smith and Scotty G and found myself all alone (or so I thought). Heck, Bob Jackman and Jim Johnson were nearly out of sight by the 2k mark.
Then I spotted what looked like a runner without a headlamp. WTF? As I got closer I realized it was Josh but he must have had the worst headlamp ever and I don't believe the light even reached the snow. I got up on his heels and adjusted my light to shine a little more in front, trying to give him something to see (especially at the turns). We stayed in this position all the way to about the 4k mark (except for one brief section in which I lead for about 100yds). Around the 4k mark (on one of the switchbacks) Josh missed a sharp turn and headed into the woods. I yelled, ran past him and never looked back. Heck, if I had looked I probably wouldn't have seen him anyways. I figured he was right behind me but I hoped I could put some distance on him on the downhills since he was running nearly blind. Hey, I'll take whatever advantage I'm given!
As I came across the finish I was told I got 2nd place with a time of 25:18 (nearly 2 1/2 min improvement over last year). Huh? What the heck happened to Bob Jackman? I didn't recall seeing or passing him. Very strange. Of course then I was told what happened to Bob. Bad luck Bob got tackled by a dog somewhere along the course and in the process had his snowshoe knocked off as well. Now that's the story he's telling anyways, I don't recall seeing any dogs either :-)

Splits for the night:
1k 4:12
2k 4:58
3k 5:09
4k 6:04
5k 4:51

Danny Ferreira was able to nose out Josh Merlis for 3rd with Bob 'the dogman' Jackman rounding out the top 5. The top 20 are listed below (with my team mates highlighted in RED)
Place Time    Pace  Pts  Name                   Team                      Age Sex Bib City St         
===== ======= ===== ==== ====================== ========================= === === === ==================
1 22:36 7:16 107 Jim Johnson CMS 31 M 115 Salem NH
2 25:18 8:08 106 Steve Wolfe acidotic RACING 44 M 36 Merrimack NH
3 25:50 8:19 105 Dan Ferreira acidotic RACING 26 M 87 Concord NH
4 25:51 8:19 104 Josh Merlis ALBANY RUNNING EXCHANGE 27 M 34 Albany NY
5 25:53 8:20 103 Robert Jackman TUESDAY NIGHT TURTLES 26 M 113 Warwick RI
6 26:40 8:35 102 Ri Fahnestock acidotic RACING 30 M 55 Dover NH
7 27:08 8:44 101 Warren MacPhail DUNGEON ROCK RACING 42 M 47 Winthrop MA
8 27:11 8:45 100 Shane Sherwood Dungeon Rock Racing 36 M 91 Winthrop MA
9 27:13 8:45 99 Leslie Dillon acidotic RACING 25 F 56 Troy NY
10 27:20 8:48 98 Patrick Smith DUNGEON ROCK RACING 46 M 43 Salem MA
11 27:23 8:49 97 Jay Myers acidotic RACING 38 M 7 Dover NH
12 27:36 8:53 96 Luke Fernandez Team TNT 22 M 122 Kennebunk ME
13 27:48 8:57 95 Chris Smith DUNGEON ROCK RACING 42 M 110 Woburn MA
14 28:15 9:05 94 Dan Cooper DUNGEON ROCK RACING 36 M 42 Salem MA
15 28:31 9:11 93 Scott Graham acidotic RACING 50 M 100 Westford MA
16 28:40 9:13 92 Danny Chick DUNGEON ROCK RACING 49 M 63 Lynn MA
17 28:45 9:15 91 Austin Stonebraker acidotic RACING 29 M 84 Dover NH
18 28:47 9:15 90 Jay Curry DUNGEON ROCK RACING 37 M 45 Lynn MA
19 29:19 9:26 89 Ted Hall acidotic RACING 35 M 58 Merrimack NH
20 29:20 9:26 88 Elizabeth Hall acidotic RACING 35 F 59 Merrimack NH
These snowshoe races have been really cool. Almost all runners stick around afterwords for awards, the infamous Chris Dunn Raffles or just to socialize. Road races tend to be 'run and done'. Of course it helps to have an indoor facility (thanks Madbury for the use of your town hall).
I got my first podium win too (although I've been second twice before, I've never actually stood on a podium). I think my kids thought it was cool as well. I also picked up a 12-pack of Copper Hook for my effort. In my house this is equivalent to winning 'Beer for 2 years'....I'm a slow drinker :-)
I managed to finally beat Jim Johnson at something: I won a Redhook hat in the raffle and he scored a goose egg. Keep training Jim, you'll get better at the raffles next year.

Jones Group 10-Miler

Sunday - Part II of my weekend double took place in Amherst, MA. This would be the 1st race in the USATF NE Grand Prix series, a "challenging race along scenic, hilly rural roads (some dirt)" according to the website. Yep, that pretty much sums it up.

I left my acidotic RACING membership at home and went with my Gate City Striders card instead. I met up with a bunch of Striders in Nashua and we all piled into 3 vehicles for the roughly 2hr drive to hilly Amherst. 33 of us made the trip which was pretty amazing considering the doom and gloom forecast we've been hearing about for a couple of days. Turns out the weather held out for most of the race and was only a minor inconvenience for the ride home. (photo credit - Mike Wade)
Generally I have some sort of a goal going into most races. I don't always 'share' my goal but that's a different story. I can honestly say I had NO goal going into this race. I really, truly had no idea what pace I would run.

With so many fast guys (and girls), I was careful not to get too close to the front. With very little hoopla we were off. Right from the start I spotted a few familar faces; Todd Brown (CT) who I ran with for 90% of the Baystate Marathon and Keith Schmitt from Dover,NH who I ran with for about 90% of the Boston Prep race. Both were masters runners and both were close enough to my pace that I felt pretty comfortable where I was. Technically I trailed a small pack they were running in for the majority of the race. I could never quite catch up to them and was stuck in no mans land for much of the race.

The first two miles were relatively fast (6:03 and 5:48) but I knew the hills were coming. The next 2+ miles were net uphill with a couple of steep sections and my times slowed a LOT (6:41 and 6:52). I struggled on the hills and my legs were definitely fatigued from snowshoeing the previous night. Mile 5 and 6 were mostly flat (6:20 and 6:14) with part of this section on an iced over dirt road (which made traction challenging with racing flats). Mile 7 (5:56) was nearly all downhill and mile 8 (6:08) was mostly flat. I was feeling much better after running a couple of easy terrain miles. I was also gaining on the small pack in front of me which now included fellow GCS team mate Joe Rogers. I have never beat Joe in a race so to be this close to him was puzzling to me. Right around mile 8 I decided to pick up the pace and I passed Joe with my definition of 'authority'. I had also caught up with Todd after pushing pretty hard up the hill to mile 9 (5:58) and was close to Keith but he was doing a good job maintaining his lead. Mile 10 (6:21) had a nice double up hill climb with about 1/2 mile to go before finally peaking, providing for a fast downhill finish (except for a strange, awkward loop around a parking lot). Overall I was pleased with my run, a little sore today but pleased.

The group that finished around me are listed below, including some of my GCS team mates.
Place Div/Tot  Div   Time     Pace  Name                   Ag S Race# City/state              Team
===== ======== ===== ======= ===== ====================== == = ===== ======================= =====
101 6/86 F2039 1:01:51 6:12 Christy Carrara 33 F 279 Hudson MA NBB
102 28/131 M4049 1:01:59 6:12 Ron Moreau 43 M 29 Natick MA BAA
103 29/131 M4049 1:02:13 6:14 Keith Schmitt 40 M 692 Durham NH
104 30/131 M4049 1:02:14 6:14 Kevin Delaney 40 M 82 Arlington MA CSU
105 67/122 M2039 1:02:18 6:14 Ben Ndaya - Mizuno 32 M 697 Lowell MA RUN
106 3/109 M5059 1:02:20 6:14 Ephraim Ezekiel 51 M 342 Newton MA WHIRL
107 4/109 M5059 1:02:20 6:14 Jon Waldron 51 M 667 West Newton MA CSU
108 31/131 M4049 1:02:21 6:15 Andrew Biancheri 40 M 168 Westborough MA GLRR
109 68/122 M2039 1:02:23 6:15 Pat Ard 24 M 336 Raymond NH WHIRL
110 32/131 M4049 1:02:26 6:15 Steve Wolfe 44 M 164 Merrimack NH GCS
111 33/131 M4049 1:02:29 6:15 John Chapin 42 M 315 Arlington MA SRR
112 5/109 M5059 1:02:42 6:17 Tom Offenbacher 52 M 177 Westborough MA GLRR
113 34/131 M4049 1:02:46 6:17 Ted MacMahon 43 M 460 Harvard MA
114 7/86 F2039 1:02:48 6:17 Carly Graytock 30 F 17 Cambridge MA BAA
115 35/131 M4049 1:02:50 6:17 Joseph Rogers 41 M 156 Lyndeborough NH GCS
116 69/122 M2039 1:02:55 6:18 John Barrett 39 M 1 Needham MA BAA
117 1:02:55 6:18 Todd Brown M 646 NMC
118 70/122 M2039 1:03:04 6:19 Max White 25 M 616 Jamaica Plain MA GBTC
119 8/86 F2039 1:03:07 6:19 Lara Johnson 27 F 21 Boston MA BAA
120 71/122 M2039 1:03:09 6:19 Andy Brown 26 M 709 Belchertown MA
121 72/122 M2039 1:03:15 6:20 William Wheeler 29 M 402 Belchertown MA
122 73/122 M2039 1:03:27 6:21 Brian Walsh 34 M 699 Ludlow MA GSH
123 9/86 F2039 1:03:37 6:22 Tammie Robie 34 F 357 Milford NH WHIRL
124 74/122 M2039 1:03:37 6:22 Will Paulding 30 M 741 Deerfield MA SMAC
125 10/86 F2039 1:03:38 6:22 Jennifer Campbell 25 F 726 Newmarket NH CRC
126 1/42 M6099 1:03:41* 6:23 Bill Dixon 61 M 170 Brattleboro VT GLRR
127 1/59 F4049 1:03:44* 6:23 Simonetta Piergentili 44 F 353 Wilmington MA WHIRL
128 11/86 F2039 1:03:54 6:24 Tara Vance 25 F 129 Jamaica Plain MA GBTC
129 36/131 M4049 1:03:57 6:24 Brian Reeves 45 M 485 Shirley MA
130 75/122 M2039 1:04:03 6:25 Frank Pilhofer 35 M 154 Nashua NH GCS
131 12/86 F2039 1:04:08 6:25 Michelle McCreary 25 F 80 Cambridge MA CRC
132 37/131 M4049 1:04:11 6:26 Peter Fratini 43 M 217 Westfield MA GSH
133 38/131 M4049 1:04:12 6:26 Jonathan Wyner 48 M 96 Arlington MA CSU
134 76/122 M2039 1:04:14 6:26 Marco Iannello 28 M 443 Springfield MA
135 77/122 M2039 1:04:19 6:26 Brian Tinger 31 M 700 Somerville MA SRR
136 39/131 M4049 1:04:25 6:27 Michael Wade 40 M 163 Nashua NH GCS
Now as a running club, we did ok considering we're competing against some incredibly strong teams from all over New England.

Gate City Striders Team Results
Mens Open - 7th (14 teams)
Mens Masters - 7th (13 teams)
Mens Veterans - 5th (12 teams)
Mens Seniors - 2nd (5 teams)
Female Open - 6th (9 teams)
Female Masters - 5th (10 teams)

Now, what to do next....

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Maybe Later

I'm tired. No race reports for today, maybe later.
Quick summary of my weekend:
  • I ran the Kingman Farms Snowshoe race last night. I felt great and had a good race, finishing 2nd overall out of 107. It was a ton of fun and I'm looking forward to telling you all about it...later. It was also the first time my wife and kids joined me at a race this year. Deb was nice enough to take some video during the race and pics after the race. I've posted the pics here. I haven't done anything with the video yet. Stay tuned.
  • On Sunday I got up early and drove 2hrs to Amherst, Ma for the 35th Jones Group 10 Mile USATF race (along with 30+ Gate City Striders). What a tough course! Finished with a time of 1:02:26 (6:15 avg) and humbly finished 110th overall, 31st in my age group (ouch). There are some FAST folks in New England. Overall, I was happy with my time.
My legs are tired.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Pictures from Frosty's Dash

In case you haven't checked recently, they've posted a bunch of pictures from the snowshoe race at the Frosty's Dash for a Cure website.

Notice how Jim Johnson ALREADY has a lead, 5ft into the race. Also, who's that guy in the shorts?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Kingman Farm Preview (maybe)

Chris Dunn has an update on the conditions at Kingman Farm on his blog, but that might change after tomorrow's potential snowstorm. Wait and see.
I marked up the local trail map with what I believe to be the course for Saturday night. As far as I know it's the same course as last year.

What I remember:
  • The start is a short walk up the trail from the parking lot (town hall).
  • The start is very narrow.
  • The course runs clockwise.
  • Most of the early stuff is on typical winter hiking trails, maybe snowmobile width.
  • There is a sharp left turn maybe 1/4 mile in. I only remember it because I tripped on my own snowshoes making the turn and had visions of being trampled by 80+ pairs of snowshoes.
  • Most of the course is fairly flat to gentle rolling terrain, all the way up to the composting shed (see map). My guess is it will be fairly fast, with plenty of room to pass if needed.
  • Once you get past the Compost shed the trail is mostly single track if I recall. You really need to get position before heading back into the woods and begin ascending Hicks Hill.
  • The climb is taxing but runnable if I remember correctly. There are some pretty long switchbacks on the way up AND the way down, allowing you to see runners in front and behind. If you can't see them I promise you'll hear them.
  • I think we sort of summit Hicks Hill and descend for a while before slowly climbing again around the perimeter towards the summit again. This was a difficult section last year (icy), sort of like running on a side of a hill.
  • Lots of sharp turns up and over Hicks Hill so pay attention. Sight range is limited at night and you might run into a tree.
  • The course was very well marked with surveyor flags...as long as you pay attention.
  • The last section towards the finish has some fairly steep sections with lots of turns before leveling off near the finish.
  • The finish was within spitting distance of the start.
  • My guess is this course will have the fastest times of any race in the GSSS.
  • Don't be surprised if you get beat by a banana.

The owner of this blog is not responsible for any inaccuracies, falsehoods or outright lies associated with this race. I can barely remember what I had for breakfast.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Horse Hill 7k Snowshoe Race

Race #5 of the GSSS is in the books.
The Horse Hill 7k was only 3 miles from my home but I was still there 1 1/2 hrs before the start...and I wasn't even the first one there! I met up with Scotty G and John S and headed out for a warm up run and course preview. Scotty and I were in our running shoes, John on his new Dions. The conditions were great for racing thanks to cold temps over night. Most of the course was borderline icy conditions which made it a little tricky during the warm up, as we covered the last mile or so of the course.

A few more folks were milling around when we got back including my teammates at acidotic RACING, a car full from Dungeon Rock and even a handful of my Gate City Strider teammates, some making their snowshoe racing debut. I met up with Jim J and Mike W and headed out for my second warm up run of the day. I grabbed a couple more signs and planned to head out to about the 4.5k mark to place at least one more sign at a questionable corner. This time all of us were in our running shoes. After placing the signs we headed back, following the course to the finish, up and over Blodgett Hill. Blodgett was VERY icy on the decent as we stuck to the sides to avoid falling on our butts. We got back with about 15 minutes to spare and I quickly changed into race attire: a stealthy white short sleeve shirt.

After a short delay for some late arrivals we were off. Double-J was out of sight by the time I crested the first hill probably a 1/4 mile into the race. Chris Dunn was pushing the pace for us mortals trailing behind. Chris surprised me by going out really fast and had a decent lead on me by the time we reached the first hill just under 1k into the race. I gained a little back on the downhill single track but he was still pushing pretty hard, maintaining the same lead at the 2k point. I peeked over my shoulder a few times on the single track and saw Mike Wade and Scotty Graham not too far behind. What the heck did these guys have for breakfast?

As we headed up the 2nd, steeper hill I closed a bit on Chris and once again I peeked when we took the sharp turn at the top. This time I didn't see anyone. I finally caught up to Chris on the power lines and pulled in front to pull for a while (so I thought). I never looked back but I could tell Chris was tight on my heels as the icy conditions made it easy to hear him. I pushed hard for a while but was tiring as we crossed the power lines and headed back into the woods. I slowed a bit, and even moved to the side of the trail a few times but Chris seemed happy to stay right behind me. Did I mention I hate to be in front??

So now I start thinking about race strategy and whether Chris was just toying with me. He's been racing me really tight the last couple of races, improving each time. I felt like I gained some on the downhills so I decided to test this about the 4.5k point as the trail descended towards the last major brook crossing. I ran as hard and fast as I could down towards the bridge and the sound behind me changed a bit and I felt I may have increased my lead.

The next 1k was a steady climb off and on, slowly climbing back up to the summit of Blodgett Hill. I took a peek on the switchback and didn't see Chris (although I heard him) but was never comfortable. I didn't want to take any chances and ran the last 1k (all downhill) hard, taking one more peek as we turned back onto the main trail to the finish.

My teammate pushes me waaaaaaaaay to hard, but I love the competition. I've never looked back so much in a race, ever. I finished 2nd (or as Scotty G likes to say, I was first loser) to Jim Johnson, who I think had already changed, eaten, and finished his cool down run by the time I got to the finish line. Chris finished 3rd, less than a minute behind me followed by Mike Wade (in his 1st snowshoe race every) in 4th and fellow acidotic teammate Ri Fahnestock in 5th.

Complete results can be found here.
I also took a few pictures after finishing and got about the top 30 or so before heading out for a cool down run with Jim J and Mike W.

Splits for the day:

1k 5:09
2k 4:39
3k 5:21
4k 5:09
5k 5:41
6k 5:40
7k 4:24

Now for a shameless plug. A few weeks before the race I was contacted by the Manchester Union Leader about a preview article they were writing about the race. The reporter asked if I would talk to him and do a photo shoot at HHNP. I agreed and the article was in Fridays paper (the Merrimack edition). Although the article seemed more about me and less about HHNP (sorry), it did give me a chance to promote the sport of snowshoe racing and the GSSS. If you're interested, you can read the article here.

Next up, the Kingman Farm Moonlight Snowshoe 5k, probably the 1st New England snowshoe race EVER to sell out.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Horse Hill 7k Snowshoe Pics

I took a bunch of pics after I finished and before I went for a cool down run. I think I was able to get runners 4-32 plus a few crowd shots. Sorry I missed the rest of you. You can check them out here.

PS: I also posted a few pics from last weekends Sidehiller Snowshoe Race as well.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Horse Hill Update: PLENTY of SNOW!

I just got back from running the Horse Hill 7k Snowshoe course with Bill Morse and the conditions were fine. Although the snow is much softer than earlier this week, there were no bare spots and most of the trail is pretty firm. A couple of cold nights over the next few days and conditions should be pretty good for Saturday.
There were a few more rocks and tree stumps exposed but nothing serious. I also took the liberty to mark the course with orange spray chalk along the edge of the trail and note roughly where the kilometer marks are. Hopefully they'll last a few more days. I believe Michael is going out tomorrow to officially mark the course with signs. The course is pretty darn close to 7k +/- a little.
The easy way to visualize the course is like a big lollipop. For those of you familiar with Motionbased, you can check out my GPS download of the course here, otherwise you can just look at the pictures below.

Overall Map:

Elevation Profile:

See you Saturday.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Horse Hill 7k Snowshoe Race Course Preview

Next up in the Granite State Snowshoe Series will be race #5, the Horse Hill 7k in Merrimack, NH. Since this is my home course and I snowshoe in the Horse Hill Nature Preserve 2-3 times a week, I thought I'd be a nice guy and give everyone a course preview.
Michael A. has a version of a course map linked on the race website above, which essentially is a copy of the trail map for HHNP. I decided to put together a more detailed map and describe some of the key features/obstacles you'll find along the way. You can either click on the picture for a larger view of the map or you can download a PDF version here.

Course Description:

The trails have not been gone over with a snowmobile yet and the footing can be a little hard on the ankles. The snow is VERY firm and packed (unlike anything we saw this past weekend). I've gone over the course twice in the last couple of days and my shoes don't even leave a mark. If the trails were smoother, the conditions would be lightening fast. I still think they'll be fast as long as you're careful with your footing. I'm still hoping to get a snowmobile to drive over about 1/2 of the course before Saturday.
  • The start/finish is right next to the Amherst Rd parking lot for HHNP.
  • The first 300m is generally flat and wide (about as wide as a dirt road) and should be packed down pretty well.
  • At about 300m you'll take a sharp LEFT onto the Blodgett Hill Summit Trail. This trail is mostly single track but sections might be as wide as a snowmobile trail. You'll cross a small, open brook (jump!) and then will have a short (100m), moderately steep climb. This is HILL #1 on the map. I think most will be able to run it or at least power-hike it. One exposed rock right in the middle of the hill, you can't miss it. The trail continues to climb gently until it levels off near the summit of Blodgett Hill (423ft). When you see the green 4x4 post, you've reached the summit. Continue STRAIGHT.
  • After about 30m you'll take a sharp LEFT, go another 10m and then take a sharp RIGHT onto the Ledges Trail. The Ledges Trail is a snowshoe-only trail. Unfortunately there's been a few lazy-ass snowshoers out there and they've cut a few of the corners so you'll have to watch out for the spur paths. Hopefully we'll mark it well and it won't be an issue.
  • The Ledges Trail is a nice downhill single track that switchbacks down the back side of Blodgett Hill and should be very fast and fun. The back and forth switchback will allow you to see runners in front and behind you on some sections. The 1k marker is roughly at the bottom of the first down slope, right before you start to switchback.
  • Shortly after crossing a small bridge, the Ledges Trail ends and intersects with the Loop Trail (one of the main trails in HHNP). NOTE: you will run this entire section BACKWARDS on the way back to the finish later on. This is HILL #3 on the map.
  • Take a LEFT onto the Loop Trail and follow for about 250m. The wide trail descends slowly to the next trail junction. You'll want to go STRAIGHT or SLIGHTLY RIGHT. The trail crosses another small brook that may or may not be open water (depending on how much melting takes place). The brook is frozen over, no problems crossing. The main trail turns right after the brook but you want to go straight where it looks like no one else has gone. Just go as straight as possible through here, as the trail changes to the Rocky Trail. FYI, all trail junctions are marked with green 4x4 signposts which are numbered and labeled with the appropriate trail name. Chances are you won't have time to read the posts so just watch out for the RD's course signs instead. A copy of the Trail map can be found here.
  • Stay on the single track trail that follows the Rocky Trail. It's not called the Rocky Trail for nothing. Although some of the rocks are visible in the middle of the trail, the snowshoe trail stays to the side and is fine. Up until now the snow depth has been good and no rocks have been exposed. The recent warm weather might change this. The snowshoe trail tends to stay to the side of the main trail so it should be ok.
  • Right at the 2k marker you'll take a sharp RIGHT onto the steepest trail in HHNP. The East Slope Trail climbs approximately 300m to the summit of Horse Hill (388ft). Most will have to walk part of this trail, it is steep. As of today, there are only 2 sets of tracks on this section of trail and the snow is very crusty. Tough footing on this section. The good thing is you'll be going slow anyways so it won't slow you down much. This is HILL #2 on the map.
  • Near the summit (and at the next sign post) you'll take a sharp LEFT onto Horse Hill Summit Trail. The trail climbs just a bit more but then starts to descend all the way down to the power lines.
  • Once you hit the power lines you'll turn LEFT and head down the power lines for about 150m and then turn RIGHT and head back into the woods. There's a few side trails through here so be sure to look for the course signs.
  • You're back on the Loop Trail, which will be mostly single track for the next 500m. This section is rolling terrain, crosses a nice brook (on a bridge this time) and may run into a wet section around the 3k mark (depending on how much snow melts). Make sure you cross on the first bridge (newest). The wet sections are all snow covered so no problems through here.
  • The trail climbs back up to the power lines but this time you'll cross right over and get back onto the Loop Trail all the way until the Ledges Trail. This section of trail is very wide and most likely will be packed down by snowmobile traffic. The early section is mostly downhill, the later section is mostly uphill. It can have some wet sections about midway (just prior to the 4k mark). This section of trail is wide and fairly packed down. There's some ice in one of the wet sections but mostly the trail is fine. It climbs a little near the end of this section right after the 4k mark but then drops pretty quick down to the next bridge.
  • It crosses another decent stream around 4.5k (on another bridge) and then starts to climb slowly, all the way back to the Ledges Trail (see above). There are a couple of turns along the way but the course stays on the Loop Trail all the way to the Ledges Trail. Just follow the signs and you'll be fine. The Loop Trail will continue past the 5k mark and will intersect with another major trail. Turn RIGHT and head up the small hill. You're still on the Loop Trail. This will bring you back to the entrance to the Ledges Trail.
  • When you get back to the Ledges Trail you'll take a sharp RIGHT. The rest of the way is a reverse of the first 1.5k of the start. You'll climb the Ledges Trail to the summit of Blodgett Hill (roughly the 6k mark). Most of this trail will be an easy climb, but be careful because the trail is really narrow and close to trees. The last section is a little steep but runable. When you get to the top you'll take a sharp LEFT and then a sharp RIGHT and you'll be back on the Blodgett Hill Summit Trail.
  • It's less than 1k and ALL downhill to the finish from here. This section will be FAST but be careful on the short but steep downhill section: there's a big rock right in the middle of the trail. At the bottom you'll cross the brook again (jump), climb a tiny bit and then flat until the Loop Trail.
  • This section is mostly single track until you take the final RIGHT onto the Loop Trail. You'll have about 300m on this wide section until the finish.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Frosty's 5k Snowshoe Race

Note to self: next time I get sick for a week and run less than 30 miles in 2 weeks, don't sign up for back to back snowshoe races on the following week. Actually, all things considered, it wasn't that bad of a weekend. Yesterday I raced Sidehiller which at the time I thought had some of the toughest conditions to date to race in. Plenty of snow, nice fluffy powder in fact but not nearly firm enough to run comfortably.
Today was Frosty's 5k on the grounds of the Atkinson Country Club golf course. On paper this race should have been much easier. Nice, easy slopes, no real hills to speak of and temps pushing 50. Of course the wind was pushing 50mph as well but not much of a factor surprisingly. A freshly made snowmobile track was the course du jour. The snow would make Frosty proud. Perfect for making snowmen but less then ideal for racing. Technically, the snow was fine for running, it was the course that made it difficult. The snowmobile trail just wasn't firm enough to push off on and that sinking feeling was there throughout the day.
I opted for standard snowshoe race attire: shorts and a short sleeve shirt. I couldn't help myself...I mean how many times do you get the chance to comfortably race on snowshoes in shorts and a t-shirt??
A quick scan of the athletes on the line and I figured my chances were good for a decent showing. GSSS standout Jim Johnson was there with an unknown (at the time) CMS runner along with a boatload of DRR runners and too many acidotic RACING team mates to mention. Quick math would mean Jim would be 1st, unknown CMS runner would 2nd (ALL guys with CMS singlets are speed demons) and the rest of us would battle it out for 3rd and beyond. As usual Jim took off like a shot at the start and I slipped into 2nd after going out pretty fast. Jim was out of sight by about the 1/4 mile mark and left the rest of us in his snow wake. I felt like I should be fast but I just wasn't moving. The CMS guy passed me somewhere prior to the 1st mile and kept a comfortable lead on me the rest of the way. Not long after he passed I heard another shoer sneaking up on me, fellow team mate Chris Dunn. He was running strong and I was fading. Always the team mate, Chris encouraged me to work together and I quickly hopped on his heels (I think I actually ran on his snowshoe heels a few times in fact...sorry Chris). Unlike the 2 guys up front, Chris had a stride very similar to mine and I followed in his footsteps exactly. To be honest, I prefer to follow anyways so for the time being things were good. With probably less than a mile to go I pushed to the front on a short downhill. I was really hoping Chris would either fade like an old pair of jeans or bounce back and drop me like a rock, putting me out of my misery once and for all. Nope, he decides to push and race me to the finish. Gee, thanks Chris :-)
We crossed the line in a photo finish, and technically with the same times. This time I edged the old guy, although I think he could have passed if he wanted to. Excellent race.
Snowshoe races have turned out to be much more social than your typical road race for me. From the fastest to the slowest, all shoers are friendly and willing to share stories. We warm up and cool down together and listen to all kinds of stories. The unknown CMS guy turned out to be David Quintal, yet another fast masters runner. David reads my blog so I guess he must be a good guy. Fellow GCS track coaches Richie Blake and Keith Obrien were there, snowshoe racing for the first time and coming darn close to breaking into the top 10. Fellow team mate Scotty G beat fellow age-grouper Bob Dion to score an age-group win in the senior circuit (ok, 50-59 group). All in all a very good day but I'm not looking to do another double anytime soon.

Full results can be found here.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Sidehiller Snowshoe Race

The 3rd race of the Granite State Snowshoe Series (Sidehiller 4-Miler)was in Center Sandwich, NH , a relatively short (in snowshoe racing terms) 1.5 hr drive north. Michael Amarello and I got an early start, arriving in this tiny town around 9:30am for the 11am race...and we weren't even the first ones there.
The weather report claimed a warm up was in store for today (supposedly 40+) but when I left my house it was 0 degrees and maybe 10 degrees at the race site. A whole lot of warming would have to take place to hit 40, that's for sure.
Michael and I chatted with fellow acidotic RACING teammates Chris, Steve and Scott for a few minutes and then Scott and I went for a warm up run on the course (in running shoes). We heard there was a hill and we wanted to see it for ourselves. Running Pooh Hill and Cobble Mt tends to make racers a little hill-phobic. The first mile or so was on a nicely groomed cross-country ski trail before crossing Squam Lake Rd and heading into a 2 1/2 mile loop on mostly single track snowshoe trails. We found the hill (Ha, you call this a hill????), thought 'this isn't so bad' and then looped back down to the road and onto the cross country trails to the finish. At the time the trails didn't seem that bad.
Weather be damned, I went with the short sleeve shirt. Surprisingly I was the only one. Come on people, the weatherman said it would be 40 degrees today, act like it!! Ok, so I was a little cold, but in a snowshoe race it's probably better than being a little warm.
Not only was Sidehiller a GSSS race, it was also a WMAC Dion Snowshoe series race AND it was also a regional qualifier for the USSSA (whatever that means). A major acronym race no doubt.
It was also stacked up front with Jim Johnson, Kevin Tilton, Dave Dunham, Tim Van Orden, Bob Jackman and a few other CMS guys I didn't know well. A top 10 finish would be a challenge.
At 11am a field of about 70 took off in a cloud of snow dust and you could tell immediately this would not be a fast day. Even the nicely groomed xc trails were slow. They 'looked' like they should be fast but your shoe would sink in the snow on nearly every step. Unfortunately this was the fast section...it would get much harder and much slower. With firm snow conditions (which we did not have) this would be a relatively fast course, no big hills, nice rolling terrain, decent single track and some snowmobile trails...a really nice course. But for whatever reason, today was not a fast day. The single tracks were more like running in sand. You just couldn't get any grip, sinking into the soft powdered snow on nearly every step. My position in the race was set early, around the 1/2 mile mark. After that point I passed no additional runners and nobody passed me. I followed Danny Ferreria (acidotic RACING) from a distance for most of the remainder but never really gained on him until the last 200 meters but not enough to actually catch him. In the end I finish just under 40 minutes in 9th place overall. I haven't seen any official results but will post a link once they become available. Another good team showing from acidotic RACING and Dungeon Rock Racing, this rivalry thing is pretty cool, especially when we beat them :-)
They may have spanky new DDR singlets but we've been getting the team wins (and now we have our own stylying acidotic RACING skully's).
The next race of the GSSS is tomorrow. I hope the legs recover in time.

Complete results can be found here.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Indoor Track

In hindsight it was probably not the smartest thing to do but I am a creature of habit and on Tuesday nights I have indoor track practice. Period, the end. Nothing bad happened so I guess in the end it all worked out.

Just prior to track Michelle Poublon (Gate City Striders President) made a surprise announcement and presented me with the GCS 2008 Comeback Runner of the Year award. She had some very nice things to say about me (all untrue of course) and rattled off some of my results from 2008. I have to admit, I was a bit embarrassed and generally do not take compliments well but it was nice to be recognized by my peers. It's no 'Major Award' (aka A Christmas Story) but it was a nice plaque nonetheless. Ok, enough about that...

Tonight's workout was not too stressful (6 x 800's at 5k pace, 400 rest). 800's are my favorite track distance but 6 didn't sound like enough. Well for tonight anyways I was grateful it was only 6. I ran hard but held back a bit on the first 3-4 to see how they would feel. I did the first one with Joe Rogers but he quickly tired of me and dropped me on the next 5. He was running 80 sec 1/4's and I was running 84 sec. Right behind me was Jerry Fitzgibbons and that's the way we stayed the rest of the night. Throw in a couple miles of warm up and COOL down runs and by 7pm I had 6.7 miles in the books. Snowshoe racing for the weekend is looking good!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Stumbling Back to the Track

It's been a week since I last went for a run, and I'm not even injured. Last Wednesday it all started with a stomach ache and went downhill fast shortly after that. I won't go into the gory details, but let's just say I lost nearly 6% of my body weight in just a couple of days. Yikes.
Tonight I'll head back to the track, stumbling of course.
I'll be good to be back.