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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.