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Downtown Temple,NH

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Woodford Snowshoe Race

Let the 2011 snowshoe season begin! It's very confusing but trust me, this was the first race of next year :-) The 3.5m loop (results) around Adams Reservoir in Woodford State Park (just outside of Bennington,VT) always seems to have snow, which is probably why it's the 1st race of the snowshoe season each year. Chris Dunn and I tried to round up a few acidotic snowshoers to make the trip with us but instead I was stuck listening to Chris drone on and on about how he was going to beat me. Thanks guys! Just kidding, it was actually a nice uneventful drive, arriving 1 1/2hrs early, with 10-15 cars already in the parking lot. Me thinks some folks were itching to do some snowshoeing.

It seemed a little odd doing a race when I hadn't put on snowshoes since March. All part of the fun I guess. We chatted with some of the regulars and headed over to the start about 1/2hr early to check out the course a bit and try to remember what it was like to run in snowshoes. DD and JJ had marked the course and thought the course would be fast. Woodford isn't a difficult course, doesn't have any real hills but has been tough in the past. This is due to snow conditions. Deep snow, wet snow, deep, wet snow. This year it was just powder. Nice!

The race starts on the access road to the park and goes off like a 5k, heads up the only real hill on the course and then turns into the woods onto some nice single track for the remainder. In my 3rd year running Woodford I thought I'd do something different; take it out a little easier at the start and wait until I hit the single track before picking up the pace. I tucked in behind John Agosto and one other guy early on and could sense Chris right behind me. By the time we hit the single track the top 5 guys were out of sight, never to be seen again. In the past I"d be sucking wind by this time but this year I felt good. The plan worked, who would have thunk it? I passed one guy early on and was content with John pulling me along, finding it easier to follow then to lead. As far as I could tell, Chris was right behind me. Probably a little over a mile in John peeked over his shoulder and slowed on a short climb so I made the pass. Turns out this was the last time I'd see either John or Chris. I'm not sure what happened, whether I got faster or they got slower but within a few minutes I had gapped them enough that I couldn't hear them behind me any more. For the remainder of the race I'd run alone. For the most part I felt good and didn't have any of those 'snowshoe racing is stupid' moments when you wonder why you're doing this. I peeked over my shoulder as I exited the woods for the final 1/3mile finish on the access road. I was all alone so I cruised in, finishing in 6th place o/a with a time of 24:10, nearly 3 minutes faster than last year. Chris and John finished less than a minute behind me.
Good start to the season.

Next up: Peanut Butter Chip Chase 5k on 1/1 and (weather permitting) Beaver Brook 5k Snowshoe Race on 1/2.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Rhode Island 6hr Ultra Relay

I had hoped to post something earlier for this event (which happened over a month ago) but delayed it until official results were posted. After a couple of weeks of waiting I finally got bored and forgot about it (NOTE: due to the timing company not the race director). Now my excuse is I barely remember this event. Good news: two of my teammates (Chris Dunn & Danny Ferreira) both had write-ups on their blogs so I'll defer to them for details on our effort. The crib notes version is we won the relay, setting a course record. Sounds impressive except the relay is only in its second year and the really fast teams haven't heard about it yet. However, a win is a win and we'll take it!
2010 acidotic RACING Relay Team
Pictures from the relay can be found here and here
I did want to post some of the numbers regarding lap times and such.

Lap info:
Lap Runner Lap Time Lap Pace
1 Charlie 15:15 05:39
2 Al 14:49 05:29
3 Danny 21:18 07:53*
4 Steve 16:17 06:02
5 Rich 16:56 06:16
6 Chris 16:05 05:57
7 Charlie 14:58 05:33
8 Al 14:45 05:28
9 Danny 15:48 05:51
10 Steve 16:09 05:59
11 Rich 17:01 06:18
12 Chris 16:12 06:00
13 Charlie 15:05 05:35
14 Al 14:43 05:27
15 Danny 16:02 05:56
16 Steve 16:15 06:01
17 Rich 17:32 06:30
18 Chris 16:14 06:01
19 Charlie 15:07 05:36
20 Al 14:56 05:32
21 Danny 16:26 06:05
22 Steve 16:09 05:59
*got lost on his first lap

Runner totals for the day:

Runner Total Time  Total Miles Avg Pace
Charlie 1:00:25 10.8 05:36
Al 0:59:12 10.8 05:29
Danny 1:09:34 10.8 06:26
Steve 1:04:51 10.8 06:00
Rich 0:51:29 8.1 06:21
Chris 0:48:30 8.1 05:59
TEAM 5:54:00 59.4

Finishing up my last lap

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cherish Every Moment

It's a rare occurrence for me to post something that isn't running related. This is one of those rare occurrences. Every once in a while I need to read and see stories like this to put things into perspective, to remind me what's really important.

This is the story of Dax Locke. It is in fact a very sad, heart-wrenching story of a 13 month old boy who died nearly a year ago from a rare form of Leukemia. Doctors told his parents that Dax would most likely not make it to Christmas. It is a story of two very strong, loving parents who did everything they could to make sure their son would have One Last Christmas. It is also a story of how their neighbors and ultimately the entire small town of Washington, Illinois came together to make sure Dax Locke would see Christmas. The story of Dax Locke was put into words by a very inspirational songwriter named Matthew West. Matthew spent months alone in a cabin writing songs for his latest album, an album based entirely on the stories sent to him by his fans. The song One Last Christmas is the story of Dax Locke.

Cherish every moment.

Warning- this song will most likely bring a tear to your eye.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

2010 Mill Cities Relay

MCR (results) is an invitation only (Merrimack Valley running clubs) 5-person 27.1 mile relay from Nashua, NH to Lawrence, MA. It probably has the highest member participation of any event all year. With 20+ clubs and 200+ teams, it's where all the cool kids go on the first Sunday in December.
I've run in the Mill Cities Relay every year since joining the Gate City Striders in 2005. I take that back: in 2006 MCR wouldn't let me run because of an idiotic 'rule'. Even though I was a dues paying, active member of GCS, I ran one USATF race in 2006 for the Moose Milers racing team (in March). This somehow made me ineligible to run for GCS. I'm not bitter though.... :-)   (For the record, that rule is no longer in place).I'll get down off my soapbox now.

For the 2nd year in a row I'd be running on a Coed Masters team. Last year I was fortunate enough to be teamed up with some fast teammates and we won the Coed Masters division. This year I was teamed up with all new teammates (hmm, should I read into this?). Just to be clear, I don't pick my teammates. The Gate City Striders pay Michael Wade big bucks to waste hours of his own time arranging 140 runners into 30 teams in 12 different divisions in order to put our club in the best position to score enough points to win the Mill Cities Trophy. All I have to do is show up. My kind of relay!

This year I'd be teamed up with Randy Macneill (leg 1- 5.6m), Julie Hanover (leg 2- 4.75m), Carla Chandler (leg 3- 2.5m), Joe Rogers (leg 4- 9.5m) and I'd be running the 5th leg (4.75m) for the 2nd year in a row. I had some reservations about running this year. The event is fine, but I've felt a bit off the last month or so. I certainly have not felt fast (mostly tired). I was actually thinking about taking a whole week off from running.....gasp!

I kind of like running the last leg. There is no stress in getting to my leg on time and I get to watch the entire relay unfold. This year I hung out at the 1st and 2nd transition areas and took some pictures before finally driving down to Methuen to hang out at my transition area, parking my car about 100m before the actual hand-off area. I really didn't know exactly when Joe would arrive but guessed it would be around 10:30am. I got dressed and was ready to go by 10:15am and was thinking about going for a short warm up (since it was bloody cold out). As I stood by my car talking to Keith Obrien I happened to see Joe running by. Whoops, I guess I'll have to skip the warm up and I raced Joe up the hill to the transition area, getting there just in time to snag the baton and head off on my run. That wasn't planned very well :-)
Leg 5 elevation profile

Leg 5 starts off fairly flat for the first 2 miles, climbs a decent hill in mile 3, descends in mile 4 and is flat as a pancake in the last mile. Last year I went out a little quick and suffered on the hill a bit. I had a decent time (28:30) but it wasn't easy. This year I tried to go out a little easier in the first couple of miles and work a little harder on the hill. I felt fairly comfortable as I hit the first mile in 5:43 (really?) but decided to back off a bit so I wouldn't repeat last years effort on the hill. I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised by my time. I decided not to check my watch again until the finish. I passed a half dozen runners in the first mile or so but generally ran alone the rest of the way. When you take the final turn you can see the finish but it's probably a 1/2 mile away. I saw another runner pretty far ahead and was definitely gaining but there was no way I was going to catch them. I crossed the line with a leg time of 28:07 (5:55 avg) and a team time of 2:48:32, good for 2nd Coed Masters team, 20th team overall. It turns out the runner I saw in front of me was the winning Coed Masters team. They finished 14 seconds ahead of us!

Big thanks to all the GCS runners (especially Michael Wade) for putting together an incredible team effort. The Gate City Striders took home the Mill Cities Trophy for the 3rd year in a row!

2010 Mill Cities Champs

Monday, November 8, 2010

2010 Stone Cat Trail Marathon

On Saturday I headed down to Ipswich, MA for the 10th annual Stone Cat Trail Marathon and 50 miler (results). I ran this race last year, had a good time, so it was a no-brainer signing up again. Next year I might want to look at my race calendar first. More on that later.
The 6:15am start slide into a 6:30ish start due to an accident on the road to the race. Either way, it was going to be a dark start and headlamps were required.
Last year I went out a little quick and tired in the second half so this year I was hoping for a slower start. Running on wet trails in the dark should slow me down...at least that was the plan.

Starting Line - photo credit Keith Magnus
Speaking of plans, I did have one this year. The marathon does two 12.5 mile loops of the 50 mile course (plus an extra 1.2 miles at the start to make it official). Along the way there are two aid stations, Al's Cafe around 4.2 miles and Fast Freddies around 7.5 miles. There are no mileage markers on this course so the only opportunity I had to check pace would be at the start/finish and at the aid stations. I wrote down some splits on a piece of paper and stuck them in my shorts (based on 7:30 pace). Plan was set, execution not so much. Technically, the plan was good for the first lap as I was fairly close to hitting my splits. In reality it is near impossible to gauge your pace on windy, rocky, rooty mountain bike single and double track trails so the fact I was even close is more due to luck than any skill.

Miles Plan Actual
Al's 5.4 0:40:30 0:39:14
Fast Freddies 8.7 1:05:15 1:05:27
Start/finish 13.7 1:43:30 1:44:13
Al's 17.9 2:15:00 2:17:11
Fast Freddies 21.2 2:39:45 2:45:06
Start/finish 26.2 3:16:30 3:27:10

I hung with the lead group for a couple of miles on the first lap before slipping coming down a hill and hyper-extending my knee, bringing me to a limping walk for a few minutes. Heck, it was probably a good thing, otherwise the lead group would have driven me into the ground, making for a painful 2nd loop. It did make me a little more cautious with my footing as the leaves and roots were very slippery all day. The water crossing around mile 4 was a nice touch this year. Nothing like ankle deep ice water during a cold marathon to keep you motivated. I could have done without the motivation....twice.
I was around runners during most of the first loop with my 6th place position set fairly early on. The second lap was generally 30 sec/mile slower, and I dropped to 7th early in the 2nd lap, running alone for the majority of the loop. Other than that the race was fairly uneventful. I felt pretty good, no cramps or anything. My only complaint was my hip flexors were sore as heck. It was a little frustrating because my legs didn't feel tired, I just couldn't get my stride going. In fact, I knew I was slowing down a bit but I had no idea I had slowed so much. I didn't feel that slow and was a little surprised when I saw the clock at the finish.
I suppose it should have been expected. I hadn't done a long run in I don't know how long and I've run 2 marathons and a 1/2 marathon in the last month. Gee, what could go wrong?

No complaints though. I ran, finished well and didn't get injured. I'll take it.
Top ten finishers:

Place Name Age Time
1 Keith Schmitt 42 3:11:32
2 Andy King 34 3:11:39
3 Paul Young 45 3:12:04
4 Wes Lassen 32 3:20:13
5 Brian Cullinan 30 3:23:42
6 Tommy Nagy 26 3:24:44
7 Steve Wolfe 46 3:27:10
8 Stephen Guillette 31 3:31:22
9 Paul Mandeville 32 3:38:03
10 Rob Martin - 3:38:23

Race photos should be available later this week here.

I've mentioned it before but it's worth mentioning again (for anyone looking to run a trail marathon). Sunday morning I got up and went for a nice 5m run with no aches or pains. Try to do that after a road marathon!

Next up: Rhode Island 6hr Ultra on Sunday (team relay).

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Deja Vu at WMM Half Marathon

I've had some less than stellar runs since laying an egg at Baystate 2 weeks ago. In fact, I think I rode my mountain bike more than I ran since Baystate (which isn't a bad thing now that I think about it). To top it off, it seemed like I had shin splints this past Monday. My left calf was sore EVERYWHERE.  The entire Tibialis Anterior muscle was sore from its origin to its insertion point. Coincidentally Jim Hansen happened to post a video showing how to loosen up the muscles in the calf/lower leg. Thanks Jim! So for the next 4 days I tortured myself with a foam roller, a Stick and a tennis ball. I only managed to run 2 times all week. Yep, that's one way to prepare for a half marathon.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Outdoor Track Comes to a Close

Last night was our final outdoor track workout of the season. In Gate City Striders tradition, we had our 4-person night relay race. The track is lined with candle luminaries and relay batons become glow sticks. Teams are chosen at random and each person runs 400m (4 times).
I had recovered well from my marathon on Sunday, mountain biking Monday and Tuesday and running 5 miles prior to track. Legs were still a little tired but I figured I could run easy and just have fun. Yeah, right.
Joe R would lead off, followed by Lee, myself and anchored by Keith O. For most of the 4 mile relay we had a good battle going with dysfunctional team of Michael Wade and friends (I'm pretty sure no one on his team ran a marathon...slowly, this weekend). In the end, we finished in 2nd, just a few seconds back. This supposedly fun workout turned out to be much harder than I thought and I was a hurtin' pup at the end.

My laps were: 70s, 74s, 74s and 74s and we finished up with a total time of 21:53. In retrospect, I would not recommend speed work 3 days after a marathon.

Indoor track starts January 4th!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Baystate Long Run

Not much to say about this one. I was ready. I was rested. I had some nice races leading up to it that convinced me I was on track for a PR. My plan was simple. It was either going to be a goal race or it was going to be a 3+hr long run. I went with plan B. For whatever reason it wasn't going to happen yesterday. I knew it early on but pushed ahead as long as I could. Baystate broke my goal but not my spirits!
Mile 26 - photo credit Scott Mason

I was VERY thankful to all the Gate City Striders out there cheering us on and offering words of encouragement. They were everywhere! They helped me keep a positive attitude throughout the entire race and even have a little fun (I tagged off to the next runner at the Gate City Tent (Lowell Boat House) hoping this was Mill City Relays but no one took off so I had to finish the last 3 miles instead). Scotty "you will soon be an Ironman" Graham was everywhere as well, shadowing me on his bike on my second loop for a while. I was going so slow at that point that he was having a hard time staying upright on his bike. I think he said it looked like I was carrying a piano on my back....only 6 more miles to go! Gee, thanks Scott!

I won't bore you with my splits. I will say I was running fairly consistent 6:40's right through mile 14. Five miles later I was running 8:15's, all the way to the finish. It wasn't a death march and I didn't cramp up, I just couldn't run any faster. I finished in 3:10:44.

Surprisingly my legs feel pretty good today. Maybe it's because I run my long runs faster. Glad it's over. Now I can get back to running and not training!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Pinnacle Challenge Pics (updated 10/7/2010)

Here are a couple of links to photos and videos from the Pinnacle Challenge. I'll add more links as they become available.

Steve Wolfe pics (mostly acidotic teammates)

Robin Saunders pics

Jim Johnson video Part 1 and Jim Johnson video Part 2

Justin Fyffe video

Tim Lindsey pics

Pinnacle website

Monday, October 4, 2010

2010 Pinnacle Challenge

For the second year in a row I joined my fellow acidotic teammates for a little 4-person relay action in Newport, NH. The Pinnacle Challenge is a double duathlon consisting of a 5m road run, a 5.4m mountain bike, a 13.75m road bike and finishes up with a 3.65m trail run. I was taking part in the team event but they also have solo and duo categories for those that are interested in a real challenge.
My team had a last minute scratch so I was scrambling in the days before the race looking for a replacement. I managed to find a runner but he was a complete unknown so I wasn't sure what to expect. I guess we'll find out on race day.
Transition area
The Pinnacle Challenge is a well organized but low key event. There's a good mix of uber-athletes and regular joes and most are very supportive of each other. Nothing like watching guys with $10k bikes racing against guys with $100 bikes. When I say racing, I mean they're in the same race. Plus with so many acidotic teams racing, there tends to be a lot of inter-team racing going on, not to mention my usual I gotta beat Chris' team no matter what attitude that I take into every race against Chris. However, since Chris is the master team builder in these events, chances are good that he's stacked the teams in his favor.
Jim Johnson decided to dump his teddy bear CMS singlet for the day and slip on the acidotic colors. Jim would run the 5m leg, followed by Austin Stonebraker on the mountain bike, Ted Hall on the road bike and finally me on the trail run. I liked our chances. Turns out a team of CMS/BAA guys liked their chances too!
Jim aR Johson
At 9:30 the 5m runners were off and the rest of us waited. We didn't have to wait very long. 24:36 later Justin Fyffe came into the transition area. Wow. That was fast. Not long after Jim entered the transition area in 24:59. Seriously, he barely broke 25 minutes for 5 miles. Who can't do that?? (apparently, everybody at the race except Justin). We had a problem though. I mean, we invite him into our cult, set him up with a styling sleeveless man-shirt with the acidotic logo on the front and then he slips on some arm cozies??? Sorry Jim, this relationship is NOT going to work out. Please turn in your singlet.
Back to the race. Jim did manage to give us a 1:21 lead over Team Chris and the race was on! Austin headed out for the mountain bike loop with Chris following shortly after. Less than 40 minutes later they'd both return, with Chris holding a 10 second lead. Ah, ya gotta love a good race! Christian and Ted would essentially head out for the road bike loop together. As I chatted with Chris I told him what needed to happen: my rider (Ted) needed to put 2+ minutes on Christian for me to even have a chance. That's because I was up against a crazy fast acidotic runner with dual citizenship (apparently he runs with CMS when he doesn't want to have fun) - Tim Cox.
As the riders approached the transition area I could see what was happening. Christian and Ted were actually riding together. Crap. Game, set, match. Ted came into the transition area with a 2 second lead over Christian. 2 SECONDS?? I needed 2 minutes!!  Oh, well. At least I didn't have to run scared waiting for Tim to catch me. There was a good chance I wouldn't make it out of the transition area before he passed me.
Stairs on the run
As I ran as fast as I could around the track and headed to the woods, Tim pulled up beside me. I could hear Jim yelling "hang with him!" and almost cramped up from laughing. 1/4 mile into the run and I was at max heart rate. Finally, we turned into the woods and out of sight from the spectators and I commented to Tim that I could finally let up and off he went. I stayed with him on the stair climb but not much after that. It was fun while it lasted. I had a decent run. The first 2+ miles were all climbing as we headed to the summit before heading back down on some fantastic single track. Oh, and on the climb to the summit they threw in a 20' rope climb just to mix it up. Nice! Back to the downhill (since the uphill part basically sucked). I recovered pretty quickly and opened it up on the way back down. The footing was great, the trail flowed nicely and the corners weren't sharp. It was FAST. About half way down I passed a solo guy and came close to passing another one just before the finish.
In the end I ran 25:10 and our team finished in 2:07:54 (complete results). Last year this time would have been more than enough for the overall win. This year it was good for 4th team overall and 2:04 behind Tim (and Chris' team). See, I told him I needed 2 minutes!!!!
The team of Justin Fyffe, Mark Miller, Josh Ferenc and Greg Hammet scored the win and came within 18 seconds of breaking 2hrs (a feat that has never happened in this race). Not bad for a bunch of Pinnacle rookies.
Last year I ran the 5m road leg and had the 4th fastest split of the day. My team last year finished 4th overall.
This year I ran the 3.65m trail leg and had the 4th fastest split of the day. My team finished 4th overall.
If you want to finish 4th, I'm your guy.
I'm #4!!

Videos courtesy of Jim Johnson.

Part I

Part II

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Reach the Beach 2010

This was my 5th time running RTB (results) with the Mine Falls Milers (a mostly Gate City Striders based team), and it could have been really, really stressful. We've been fairly competitive each year (in the top 10 o/a each year), running mostly as a Men's Masters team. This year we seemed to struggle more with finding and holding onto 12 runners all summer long. We even had 4 new runners, 3 of which have never participated in RTB before. In fact, we lost one of our fastest runners in the last week and ultimately ran with just 11. But for some reason it wasn't really stressful (at least for me).
2010 Mine Falls Milers

There were so many unknowns this year, so many new folks that it wasn't possible to have any  real expectation of what our team would do. So, I generally relaxed. In the end, it just didn't matter how anyone else ran. It would have no affect on how I would run my legs. So as long as we all generally got along, we should have another great year at RTB! Bottom line - we had another great year!

The Mine Falls Milers (Men's  Masters) finished in 23:07:00 (6:38 avg), 11th overall (430 teams), and 4th in our division. This was definitely the most competitive field we've seen since we've been running. The winning Masters team finished in 20:52:59 (5:59 avg). That's faster than the Overall winner 3 out of the last 4 years. Even with 11 runners, it was our 2nd fastest avg in 5 years.

Overall Division Avg Pace
2006 8 4 6:54
2007 5 3 6:44
2008 7 1 6:40
2009 8 2 6:30
2010 11 4 6:38

From a personal standpoint, this was probably my best run RTB ever. I felt really good (and strong) on every leg and never experienced any real soreness or muscle cramps. My only issue was a quarter-sized blister that I actually got 4 days earlier when I ran the Nahant 30k. Each run would aggravate it enough that it hurt to walk. After each run I'd take a safety pin from my sweaty BIB and drain the fluid out, throw some Moleskin on it and get ready for my next run.
With only 11 runners to start and having an injury to one of our runners late in the race, our legs were far from traditional. I ended up running 4 times for a total of 23.7 miles with nearly 1800 ft of climbing.

Leg 3 (Easy) was 3.9 miles from Bretton Woods to the AMC Highland Center and was mostly uphill, getting quite steep right near the end.

Leg 14 (Medium-Hard) was 7.8 miles from the Community School in Tamworth to the Center Sandwich School. The first 4 miles climbed steady along Rt25 and then had 2 steep climbs and descents before finishing in downtown Sandwich.

 Leg 25 (Hard) was 8.6 miles from Bear Brook State Park to nearly the Deerfield Fairgrounds. It climbs steadily (and steeply at times) for the first 5 miles before finally heading back down to the finish.

Leg 35 (Easy) was 3.4 miles from the North Hampton School to Winnacunnet High School. No map required. This leg is flat (being only 4 miles from the finish). 

Totals for the day:
Leg Miles Time Pace
3 3.9 24:09 6:13
14 7.8 49:38 6:22
25 8.6 55:06 6:25
35 3.4 20:21 5:58

23.7 2:29:14 6:15

So, after racing long each of the last 3 weeks, I shall take a weekend (or two) off from racing. The Pinnacle Challenge is next on the schedule.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Nahant 30k

Yes, my 'training' is probably unconventional. I'll be the first to admit it. Most people probably don't combine their high mileage weeks (training for 2 fall marathons) with back to back weekends of 18+ mile races plus an upcoming 24hr 200 mile relay this weekend (RTB).Who the heck has time to taper anyways?? So with already tired legs, I made a last minute decision on Sunday to head down to Nahunt, MA and run the Nahant 30k Road Race and hopefully work on my marathon pacing. First I had to figure out where the heck Nahant was.

I knew it was on the coast so I assumed it would be fairly flat, making it ideal to run a consistent pace throughout the six 5k's (sounds longer that way), or 18.64 miles (that sounds pretty long too). Nahant is the closest thing there is to an island without it being called an island, and is landlocked by Lynn (city of sin) of all places. Who knew? What I did know was there would be LOTS of turns. How else do you pack in 30k of running on a land mass of 1.2 sq miles?

Lots of familiar (and fast) faces at the start, including the entire GCS men's masters team that will most likely be kicking my butt at Baystate next month but I digress. Jim Pawlicki gave me a quick overview of what to expect (aka it is not flat and you will turn a LOT) shortly before the race and the RD gave a quick overview as well. 15 miles on Nahant and a long run along the beach down and past the start/finish area (on the causeway) before looping back at mile 18. Got it?
 I had heard this race can be a bit confusing if volunteers and signage are not in place. After being assured by the RD that the course was well marked, we were off.
Now I should mention I didn't do any warm up (pretty typical for me) so I went out easy and relaxed hoping to run close to my planned marathon pace (6:40 pace). Good news is my 1st mile was 6:37. Bad news was I had to stop for a bathroom break (yes I know, poor planning on my part). Thankfully there was a bath house right at the 1st mile mark. I still lost about a minute (2nd mile was 7:34) but I didn't panic and didn't try to get it all back in the early miles. I just kept telling myself to be patient and take your time. I did lose about 30 places though and that was frustrating but it gave me lots of targets to track down.
It turns out Nahant is not flat after all. The course can be described with four words: up, down, turn, repeat. In fact the only flat section was the start/finish area along the causeway. The rest of the route was constant rollers (which I actually enjoyed). I've never turned so many times in a race....ever. Run a 100ft, sharp left, run a 100ft, sharp right. Wow. And for the record I was curious how many turns there actually were. The North Shore Striders have turn by turn directions of the course on their website. Count them up: 77 turns. Yikes.

Back to the race. I was feeling great in the early miles. Very relaxed, strong and running fairly easy and totally happy with my pace. After 9 miles I was right at MP (6:41 avg) and continued to catch and pass runners. But there were a few runners I was with in the first mile that were still a ways ahead of me and I was determined to catch them before we finished. Around mile 10 I started to pick up the pace and really focused on tracking down these rogue runners. It was fun, especially watching them glance back on the turns, each time me being a little closer. Bwah ha ha! They were running scared and there's nothing they can do about it. They shall be caught and passed. You can write that in pen.
By the time we reached Nahant beach for the last 3 miles along the causeway I had reeled them all in. Now I had to hold them off. I never looked back but instead just ran harder. It's a tough finish since you run right by the finish line around mile 17, running directly into the wind until finally making a u-turn around mile 18 and heading back to the finish (this time with a tail wind).I finally got a glimpse of where everyone was when I made the u-turn and started heading back. I felt like I had a comfortable lead but didn't slow up at all (running 5:38 pace over the last .64 miles). I cruised in with a time of 2:00:45, 10th place overall (complete results). My legs felt great! For a brief second I thought about the time I lost during my bathroom break and whether I could have broken 2hrs but I got over it pretty quick. I probably would have run the race quite differently if I hadn't stopped. Heck, it was a 30k PR! Ok, so it was my first 30k, whatever.
The best part was running some very nice negative splits. I averaged 6:41's for the first 9 miles and 6:17's for the last 9.6. For the nerdy folks, all my splits are listed below.

Time Total Time Avg Pace
1 6:37 0:06:37 6:37
2 7:34 0:14:11 7:06
3 6:31 0:20:42 6:54
4 6:53 0:27:35 6:54
5 6:40 0:34:15 6:51
6 6:27 0:40:42 6:47
7 6:19 0:47:01 6:43
8 6:33 0:53:34 6:42
9 6:31 1:00:05 6:41
10 6:24 1:06:29 6:39
11 6:29 1:12:58 6:38
12 6:29 1:19:27 6:37
13 6:27 1:25:54 6:36
14 6:11 1:32:05 6:35
15 6:23 1:38:28 6:34
16 6:02 1:44:30 6:32
17 6:13 1:50:43 6:31
18 6:24 1:57:07 6:30
18.6 3:37 2:00:44 6:29

They managed to squeeze 30k into the smallest town in Massachusetts and kept me on course. Nice job!
photo credits - Krissy Kozlosky
Complete photo set can be found here

Monday, September 13, 2010

Wapack Trail Race

Last year I did this race when it was only 17.5 miles and it was hard. I didn't have any long lasting memories of why I shouldn't do it again so I decided to go back for round 2. The race follows the Wapack Trail from Windblown XC ski area in New Ipswich,NH to Asburnham,MA....and back, climbing 4 mountains each way with a total elevation gain of 3500ft. A reroute of the first couple of miles changed the distance to 18 miles this year and changed the start/finish setup dramatically (IMHO). Instead of staring UP the hill, we'd be facing the opposite direction and actually have a fairly long downhill start.
Having run the 'other' Wapack trail race in May (end to end 22 miler), I was familiar with the new trail up the first of 4 peaks (Barrett Mt). For some reason 99% of the runners just wouldn't line up at the starting line, choosing to mingle a good 10-15ft behind it (see picture below). I have no idea why, other than maybe they weren't quite sure which way to go.
At the starting line
Most of the first mile+ is a steady downhill on old logging roads, which led to a fairly fast start for an 18 mile trail race. The new climb up Barrett is much more runnable but still pretty steep. No wimpy switchbacks getting up this one, just a straight shot to the top. I went out fairly easy and climbed steadily, and was probably in my finishing position (10th to12th place) by the time I reached the 1st summit 2 miles in. It doesn't mean there wasn't any racing going on. I traded positions all day with various runners, mostly with Scott Patnode. Scott and I ran together a good part of the day. The Wapack is notorious for being a fairly hard trail to follow, especially when you're running it. Thankfully this year someone went out and marked (with blue arrows) some of the trickier sections (mostly on the summits). It was very easy to follow...for once!!
I was feeling pretty good on the way out and eventually opened up about a 3 minute lead on Scott by the time I hit the half-way point in 1:24 (10th place). If you want to know where your competitors are, an out and back will let you know. Keith Schmitt was about 5 minutes ahead, Jimmie Cochran about 4 minutes behind and the eventual 10th place finisher was right behind me. He would pass me pretty quickly on the steep climb back up Watatic.
Battle wounds for the day
Once you summit Watatic (on the way back) you have a fairly long downhill/flat stretch of about 3 miles on mostly logging-type roads. It's a nice recovery for your feet and legs. Unfortunately I chose this easy section to verify gravity really does exist. While I'm not entirely sure what happened, I'm guessing I was reaching for a gel in my front vest pocket when I crashed and burned, landing on my left shoulder and left side of my face. I went down fast and hard, laying in the middle of the trail for several seconds waiting for the stars to go away before eventually sitting up with a splitting headache. I was somewhere between mile 11 and 12. I sat there for several minutes trying to relax, settle down and make sure I wasn't injured too badly. A couple of runners (still on their way out) eventually came by and asked if I was ok and whether I thought I needed medical attention. At the same time Scott went running by.
That was all the motivation I needed to get running again. I immediately took off, hoping to chase Scott down. I caught him about 1 1/2 miles later, mostly because he was slowing down. Several times I thought about packing it in. If there was a way to get off this stupid trail and get back to my car with very little effort I would have done it.
I'm pretty sure I walked the entire way up Pratt Mt and ran sparingly over to New Ipswich Mt as well. I saw some hikers near the summit of New Ipswich so I decided to get running again and at least make it look like I was racing. Ugh. They were nice enough to cheer me on which I appreciated. However, about 10 seconds after passing them they began cheering someone else on. Who the heck was right behind me? Jimmie C. had caught up to me. Damn. Still 3 miles to go.
 Approaching the finish
If nothing else, the sight of Jimmie got me racing again and I began to push a little harder hoping to stay in front. My pace definitely quickened as I tried to open up whatever gap I could (on the uphills), only to lose it all on the downhills. As we headed down Barrett he was right on my heals but passing was tough on the single track and I wasn't about to step off to the side and just let him pass. When we reached the bottom and turned onto the logging road he made his move and passed. I tucked in behind him and tried to keep him as close as possible. I guess I wasn't really paying attention on the way out because this last section lasted FOREVER and was mostly uphill. Rough guess I'd say it was around 1 1/2 miles from the bottom of Barrett Mt to the finish. We were running it like it was 400m. Around every turn, every corner the trail just kept going. I got close a couple of times but I didn't have any gas left in the tank, and eventually finished 7 second back in 3:00:12, 12th overall (complete results). Not a bad day.

photo credits - Kim Allen & Wapack Website

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

24 Hours of Great Glen

Having done this race once (last year) and having significantly upgraded my bike, any anxiety I may have had (see last year) was non-existent. I was totally looking forward to this race and couldn't wait to get started.
acidotic RACING would be sending two 4-person teams to compete: aR-Black and aR-Grey. Hey, don't blame me on the names, blame Mr. Dunn.
The 'Boneyard'
The course was a roughly 8.5 mile loop at the base of Mt Washington with nearly 1100ft of climbing...EACH LAP. You climb early and you climb often. I'm not sure what the breakdown is but I'd guess it was roughly 60% carriage roads vs 40% single track. The course was nearly identical to last year with the exception of an additional climb (go figure) up behind the Great Glen Center and a short section of single track that took some of the speed out of one of the carriage road corners. Oh, and the 'boneyard' or 'plunge' hill near the finish (popular with spectators because of the potential for crashes) was redone with the addition of a million 'stairs' on the steep hill (which made for a jarring ride each lap).
Blueberry Hill
The race itself goes from noon on Saturday to noon on Sunday. However, we all headed up on Friday and camped at the base of Mt Washington. Chris 'do you know who I am' Dunn was able to get a huge camp area reserved for us right at the base of the auto road. Although I think the effort is somewhat easier than a 24hr running relay (like Reach the Beach), the logistics are harder and the rest is shorter. We had roughly 2 1/2hrs between rides. In that time we had to get back to the campsite, change, clean & fix your bike, eat, change, check your bike and head back to the transition. The 'downtime' definitely wasn't relaxing. However, this year we made a change, actually two changes: we had a camp cook (Nancy Clark) and a camp mechanic (Jay Meyers). Both did a fantastic job keeping 8 hungry, tired, 'I don't want to work on my bike' guys happy.

aR-Black and aR-Grey
Mountain bike racing is weird from a runners perspective. They have a gazillion categories (32 I think), some folks are WAY too serious and most are WAY to into their bikes. Other than that I'd say most are a much nicer version of road bikers. One of the best features of this particular race is the real-time scoring. Each rider carries a RFID card and we scan in and out of each lap. Results are updated in real time throughout the race. So as soon as you finish your lap you can find out have fast you did, and where your team is in the standings. Very cool. This year there were nearly 200 teams, 28 in our class (Mens Sport..whatever that means??). In reality there is only one team though: the other acidotic RACING team. That's what makes this event such a blast. You're out there riding with 400+ riders but you pretty much ignore them all except the rider on the other aR team. Chris attempts to stack the teams, I mean match the teams evenly, each year. After all, we want to race head to head. We want it coming down to the last lap.

This years teams were:
ar-Black (Austin S, Chris D, Ri F, Steve S)
ar-Grey (Ted H, Jay D, Steve W, Brayden D)
Ted near the finish
Near the finish
Although there was some friendly trash talking going on between the teams, I'd say most was between Chris and I (probably started by Chris...as usual). As I wait for Chris to mature as a runner (and catch up), he is clearly a stronger mountain biker, kicking my butt last year. I had two goals this year: beat Chris on as many laps as possible and make sure aR-Grey takes home the acidotic Team Title. In addition to upgrading to a spanky new Trek this year, I've also put in a lot of miles on the trails. I was ready to challenge. As it turned out, Chris would be their 2nd rider and I'd be our 3rd. Therefore, we weren't riding head to head. He'd post a lap time and I'd have to go out and try to beat it.
On lap #1 Chris rides a  52:24 lap. As soon as I finished I check my lap time: 52:21.
On lap #2 Chris rides a 52:42 lap. As soon as I finished I check my lap time: 52:34.
Of course I wasn't rubbing this in his face at all...nope, not me. I was pumped.

My next 2 laps would be ridden back to back and at night. We do this to give everyone a little more downtime at night and hopefully get some sleep. The first lap went well and I felt good. Night rides are always slower (for obvious reasons) and my time was 58:47. My second lap was a disaster. Maybe not that bad but I was bonking badly. I had run out of energy and was literally struggling to stay on my bike. I crashed nearly a dozen times, coming completely off my bike every time but each time I landed on my feet. I guess if you're going to crash, this is the way to do it. I finally made it back in 1:05:56.
Lap 3: Chris 1:00:17 vs my 58:47
Lap 4: Chris 1:07:58 vs my 1:05:56
Coming off Blueberry Hill
Wow, this was going better than I thought (at Chris' expense of course).  Well it wasn't long after that our little fun and games would come to an end. As I was coming into the finish of my 5th lap (58:51) I came across a biker pushing his bike....with no chain. The racer was Chris. I was totally bummed. I think one of (if not the biggest) fear of all riders is getting a mechanical failure. It's one thing to lose on ability or skill or training but nobody wants to lose on a bike failure. The same failure would plague him on his final lap as I passed him again around mile 6. Although rideable, he couldn't really climb well with the chain. I tried to get him to ride with me (mostly down hill at this point) but he clearly wasn't in it anymore. Within a 1/2 mile he was out of site. My last lap went well as I finished up in 54:55. In the end aR-Grey crushed aR-Black, finishing 2 laps ahead. It's not the way we all wanted it to end. I mean, I knew aR-Grey would kick butt but we wanted to compete on ability, not on who had the better running bike.
I had a fantastic time regardless. I was happy with most of my riding (except the climbing..I still stink). The course was rideable and in great shape and I barely had to get off my bike for anything. Can't wait until next year!

Final results:
aR-Grey was 18th in the Sport Class and 40th overall (with 26 laps completed)
aR-Black was 22nd in the Sport Class and 49th overall (with 24 laps completed)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bradbury Breaker Beatdown

I know, it sounds like a Channel 7 news flash. There just isn't any other way to describe what I did to the acidotic anchor (again). He may never race again, and for that I feel bad......Ok, I'm over it now.
About a dozen acidotic RACING folks headed up to Bradbury Mountain State Park just west of Freeport, Maine to dish out the latest whooping on our hairy friends to the north (Trail Monsters). A near perfect day for racing on this exceptionally hilly 9 mile trail race (results).
I had warmed up on the first mile or so of the course so I knew it would be a fairly fast start with plenty of room for passing. With this in mind I seated myself 3-4 rows back at the start and 'went with the flow'. A ton of folks took off really fast and I just tucked into the pack and went along for the ride. Within a 1/2 mile or so I had picked my way through quite a few runners but didn't see any familiar faces in front (ie Chris Dunn or Jeff Walker, both masters). I knew little about the course other than we'd climb Bradbury Mt 4 times (or so I was told).  For most of the race I'd go back and forth with Adam Zukowski, he'd climb a bit better and I'd descent a bit better. In either case we'd stay within yards of each other for most of the race.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Rockingham Recreational Trail

Rail Trail - Auburn to Raymond
I decided to try something new for my long run this weekend (besides actually doing one). The Rockingham Recreational Trail runs right by the FOMBA trails where I mountain bike often. The plan was to run for a couple of hours and then ride for a couple of hours (not a well thought out plan).
The rail trail travels 25+ miles from Manchester to Newfields and is a mix of gravel, dirt, sand other non-asphalt type surfaces and is off limits to wheeled (powered) vehicles.
I started a little later than planned (8am) but the morning fog kept the temps under control and it was fairly pleasant to run. I went with my Inov-8 295's (good plan) and a 40oz Camelbak and a watch. Plan: run 1hr 10 minutes, and turn around.
Early on the trail crosses a few roads in Candia but gets fairly remote in no time. I only saw one person once I got away from Massabesic. Since I was running by time and not mileage, I wasn't exactly sure how far I ran but I turned around somewhere between Onway Lake and the Raymond Depot, estimated at 8.75 miles. I ran the return trip in 1:07 for a total of 2:17 (~17.5 miles).
When I got back to my truck I changed my clothes and hopped on my bike for a little riding. Oddly, it was more difficult riding on tired legs. Note to self: riding technical single track on tired legs is dumb.After struggling for about an hour, I decided to throw in the towel and call it a day, otherwise I'd be getting way to personal with the ground.

The good thing about running long on trails is it doesn't beat up your legs (I know...duh). I was able to get back out on Sunday for 6.8 miles plus another 1:16 on the bike.

More trails to explore someday - Southern New Hampshire Rail Trails

Friday, July 23, 2010

Ultimate Runner, Ultimate Consistency

Near the finish of the 5k...painful.
Wednesday night was our annual Ultimate Runner night at track (results). Our club puts on a age and gender graded competition during the break between spring and fall outdoor track sessions. The competition consists of running a 400m, 800m, 1 mile and 5k race all in one night. On paper it seems kind of fun, in reality it's much harder than it looks. I wrote about Ultimate Runner in more detail last year if you're interested
Once again temps were in the low 90's and sunny (sound familiar?). Have I mentioned this is my least favorite weather to run in? Probably. Anyways, nothing outstanding to write about this year. I took it easy (relatively speaking) in the shorter events, hoping to have a decent 5k. Long story short, I got a stomach cramp shortly after the 1st mile in the 5k and really struggled just to finish. Not sure if it was heat related or not. Legs were fine.

So, not a great night but I'm glad I did it anyways. Lots of fast masters out there! I thought the interesting part was comparing my times from last year to this year. Almost scary consistent, which at my age I should be grateful for!

2009 2010

Actual Actual
400m 01:07 01:08
800m 02:31 02:32
1M 05:34 05:27
5k 19:06 19:08

2009 2010

Age Graded Age Graded
400m 01:00 01:00
800m 02:16 02:16
1M 05:05 04:57
5k 17:44 17:37

Last year I finished 5th overall, this year I finished 4th. In three more years I should win this thing!

Photo credit - Jim Rhoades from Coolrunning

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

All quiet in July

I was looking at my 2010 race calender and noticed July was the only month without a race scheduled. Odd I suppose unless you know me just a little. Did I ever mention how much I unlike the heat? The only thing worse is running in the previously mentioned unlikable heat. The summer is my off season.

 On a totally unrelated topic, I've officially gone vain-less. I finally decided the thieves in Concord take enough of my money and I didn't need to give them $40/yr for the privilege of having my vanity plate. For now the blog will remain the same (unless they charge for that too).