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Downtown Temple,NH

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sidehiller Snowshoe Race

Saturday I headed up to Center Sandwich with fellow acidotic RACING and GCS teammate Jerry Fitzgibbon for a weekend double at the Sidehiller Snowshoe Race (results). Ok, not a real double, more like a snowshoe series double since Sidehiller is part of the WMAC Snowshoe and Granite State Snowshoe Series. Bonus! Sidehiller would be my 4th WMAC race and 4th GSSS race.
Turned out to be a great day for a race (except for the lack of snow of course). Cold, crisp and sunny made for fast-like-you-read-about conditions. Unfortunately the snow killing rain on Monday forced a significant change to the 4 mile course. The entire race would be held on the fairgrounds and we'd get to know the course very well. The course changed to a 1.7 mile loop mostly around the perimeter of the fairgrounds and would be nearly flat (except for a small hill about 1/2 way around). Most of it would be on lightening fast groomed trails (nearly ice in some locations) with a short section of single track near the end of the loop. Oh, and we'd do the loop 3 times for roughly 5.2 miles of snowshoe speedwork. A quick preview of the course made for a no-brainer decision to swap out my deep cleats and go with the standard cleats today. I didn't want to destroy my deep cleats (again). After swapping out the cleats I took them for a test ride on the course, doing the entire loop so I had a good idea what to expect.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Snowshoe Racing in the News

It's not often you see an article on snowshoe racing but what are the chances you'd see TWO in the same day?

The Boston Globe did an article on snowshoe racing today, interviewing several of the fast guys (Jim Johnson, Ben Nephew, Kevin Tilton and Bob Jackman) following last weeks Pooh Hill Snowshoe Scramble. Funny, no one interviewed the guy that came in 8th?? Hmmmm.

Part two of the daily double was written by aR teammate Geoff Cunningham and can be found in today's edition of Fosters.  This one features lots of acidotic racers including Chris Dunn, Ri Fahnestock, Sarah Silverberg and Gary Reuter and even has a call out to our favorite race photographer-turned snowshoe racer, Scott Mason (even though the link to his photos was wrong).

Now if we can only get some snow around here!!!!!

Monday, January 25, 2010

First Snowshoe Double of the Season - Curly's (Part 2)

Curly's Record Run Snowshoe Race
Although not originally planned, I decided to run Curly's Record Run (results) on Sunday and complete my first snowshoe double of the season. JJ picked me up at 6am for the 3hr ride waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay out to western Mass. Curly's would take place in the Pittsfield State Forest, in fact the start/finish was at the same exact location of the Turner Trail snowshoe race I did a few weeks ago (my favorite course to date). Curly's would be a totally different course but would include many of the same great elements of Turner.
Surprisingly (not), we were the first ones there but the lot filled up quickly. All told I think they had around 90 snowshoers, quite a large crowd for a race in the middle of nowhere. Heck, even the western Mass folk have to drive over an hour to get there :-)

First Snowshoe Double of the Season - Pooh Hill (Part 1)

Pooh Hill Snowshoe Scramble
On Saturday I headed up to King Pine Resort in Madison NH for the 3rd race of the Granite State Snowshoe Series (results). This race probably has one of the nicest locations for a snowshoe race anywhere in the Northeast. It's not often you get a scenic spot, a combination of groomed trails and snowshoe single track and most importantly indoor facilities (a real bonus in snowshoe racing). If you haven't done it you're definitely missing out on a beauty.

Last year this was the 1st race in the series and it was a doozy. 8.5k in length with a killer hill about 1/2 around the loop. A couple of things would make this years version a bit different. Pooh Hill was the 3rd race in the GSSS this year so most of us have worked out some of the kinks already (if that's possible in
snowshoeing). More importantly the infamous Pooh Hill was gone.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Feel Good Farm Snowshoe Race

Last year I was a spectator at Feel Good Farm. I don't remember why, but I didn't race that day (I guess I was smarter then). I instead opted for taking pictures of the 12 folks who raced. I remember a couple of things about that race: the snow was DEEP and the climb was pretty tough. The course was still two loops but they were generally two clockwise loops.

Fast forward to this past weekend for the 2010 version (results) and lots of things had changed.
First, only a handful from last year returned (including a carload of Tuesday Night Turtles) but the popularity of the Granite State Snowshoe Series brought out a bunch of new folks, 104 finishers to be exact.
Second, the conditions were night and day. A week of unseasonably warm temps (including mid 40's on race day) melted away a lot of the snow on the exposed slopes of Moose Mt. Some sections (including some steep downhills) were borderline unshoeable (I think I just made up a word). Lots of rocks, exposed ledge, iced dirt, tree branches. In fact, everything except the preferred snow.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Not Today

I should be posting a race report (Feel Good Farm Snowshoe Race), but not today.
The last couple of days have been hard physically and emotionally. Generally, physical issues I can handle and I try not to use it as an excuse. I like to train almost as much as I like to race. Today was different. This race was different. I raced today with a heavy heart and with some guilt.
My faithful dog of 10 years (Molly) had been really sick recently. Deb and I were up a lot last night keeping an eye on her to make sure she was ok. This morning we had yet another vet appointment to see if there was something they could do for her. Her appt. was at the same time of the snowshoe race this morning. I should have skipped the race...but I didn't.
I was completely drained when I finished and once I caught my breath, called to see how she was doing. It was not good news so I left immediately, stopping at home to pick up my kids and then heading to the vets. We had time to say goodbye and not much more. At 2pm she passed away. She was a good dog. We'll all miss her.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Ten Times Fast

What a great night at track last night. Group 1 had its largest showing of the year with maybe 10 folks stepping up. It definitely is a lot easier doing these workouts with a pack of runners. It's also nice when everyone generally runs consistent laps (like last night), allowing you to seed yourself appropriately and really get into a nice groove.
The workout was 10 x 400's with 200 rest. I think most of the group ran in the low 70's to mid 80's range for the repeats. I had a chance to try out my new shoes, Asics Hyperspeed-4's which arrived in the mail on Monday. Considering I've run in Hyperspeed 2's and 3's previously, it wasn't really that exciting.

The stats:

  1. 400m   77 sec
  2. 400m   76 sec
  3. 400m   76 sec
  4. 400m   76 sec
  5. 400m   75 sec (lots of traffic, which for some reason makes us ran faster)
  6. 400m   76 sec
  7. 400m   76 sec
  8. 400m   75 sec
  9. 400m   73 sec (fast finish on tired legs)
  10. 400m   73 sec (fast finish on tired legs)
 Very pleased with the effort last night, but like I said earlier, a lot has to do with everyone running consistent laps. It helps to avoid the natural desire to want to race folks. Felt strong, felt fast.

Now if I can only get it to translate into running faster in a race :-)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Turner Trail Snowshoe Race

This weekend I opted for the 2nd WMAC snowshoe series race (Turner Trail 5M) instead of the 'local' Olde Salem Green Classic. My decision to travel 6 hrs with jj and dd and be within spittin' distance of New York was based on a longer and potentially harder course. After last weeks sprint I was really looking for something different and boy did I find it.
For now, I'll skip over the details of the ride out. That could be a post all by itself. Let's just say it was amusing and entertaining.
Turner Trail (results), located in Pittsfield State Forest (Pittsfield,MA) is now one of my favorite snowshoe races, and one of the hardest. About an hr before race time Jim Johnson, Dave Dunham and myself did a 3M warm-up on snowshoes up an access road and then back down the last 1 and 1/2 miles or so on the actual course, meeting up with Tim Van Orden on the way down. The course would be run in reverse of last years race and would be a little longer.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Weekly Snowshoe Training Runs in Horse Hill (Merrimack)

I ran into Michael Amarello last night while going for a snowshoe run at the Horse Hill Nature Preserve. He mentioned he has been trying to organized bi-weekly snowshoe training runs on Tues and Thurs nights (7pm) from the Amherst Rd parking lot. The conditions are excellent and the trails are in great shape so if you're looking for a group run at night, email Michael at michael@MooseMilers.com and let him know.

He'll also post updates on his "back from the dead" running club website: Moose Milers RC. Michael will be traveling next week so no run on Tuesday. However, I told him I'll take anyone who wants to go out on Thursday night. All are welcome, but we will be running. It will not be a snowshoe hike :-)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

4 x Awful

I've been dreading this workout ever since indoor track began 6 weeks ago. I prefer 800's or even 400's with short recovery. Well tonight we did 4 x 1 mile repeats with 800 recovery. I never got into a comfortable groove or pace, and my 400 splits were all over the board. Normally I have a good sense of pace but not tonight. I felt off all night. Maybe it was my negative attitude towards this particular workout. The goal going in was to run consistent 85s quarters (5:40 pace). Although my times weren't that bad, the splits were. Trust me.
I stuck with it anyways and finished the workout....with lots of complaining.

mile 1   5:43
mile 2   5:40
mile 3   5:49
mile 4   5:49

Monday, January 4, 2010

Kingman Farm Soldout - Good or Bad?

Well, 3 days after registration opened, the Kingman Farm Moonlight Snowshoe race has SOLD OUT. All 125 spots have been filled. Who would have guessed a snowshoe race selling out....in 3 days (other than Chris Dunn)???

I suppose it's good because it shows that Chris and acidotic RACING really know how to organize a unique and fantastic event. In two short seasons it has become the highlight of the local snowshoe racing season for a heck of a lot of folks. I dare you to find one negative comment from anyone concerning this race.

Of course the bad is it may have become too popular. I know a few snowshoe veterans liked the low-key, smallish crowds that historically made up a typical snowshoe race. For some, bigger isn't always better. Me personally, I welcome the growth and local interest in snowshoeing and snowshoe racing. Well run events are always going to be popular (and probably sellout), whether it's a snowshoe race, road race, trail race or relay race. However, I may have been telling  a different story if I didn't get into Kingman!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Beaver Brook Snowshoe Race

The first race of the 2010 Granite State Snowshoe Series took place today on the trails of Beaver Brook in Hollis NH (results). Snow on demand over the last 24 hrs provided just enough ground cover for the roughly 5k out and back course. It turned out to be an all out snowshoe sprint with fast conditions and faster runners.

A pretty good turnout considering the weather, with 87 finishers. It was good to see my teammates from acidotic RACING show up in force, all 18 strong, for our first team win of the season.

The course is probably the easiest in the series, and definitely the shortest. With a cross country like start, the race starts in a large field before funneling the runners down at a 180 degree turn. From there it's all double track, slightly downhill to start and pretty darn flat after that until the 180 degree turn around point. It does finish on a slight uphill but nothing too difficult. The hardest part of the race was just how fast it was.

photo credit - Scott Mason

Once we got the GO command I was immediately blinded by all the fresh powder being kicked up. It wasn't until we took the 180 degree turn that I could actually see where I was going. I  passed maybe 3 or 4 folks in the first few minutes and settled into the 5th spot. Jim Johnson and aR teammate Tim Cox were dueling up front, with Bob "I hope there's no dogs on this course" Jackman a short distance back, followed by Dave Dunham and finally myself. I tried desperately to stay with DD but more importantly stay ahead of Matt Westerlund and Chris Dunn who were just a few steps behind me the entire way.

I hit the turnaround in 8:40, probably 10 seconds behind DD and an equal amount ahead of Matt and Chris. Oh, and I was hurting...bad. I'm sure I scared a few of the local folks who were out on the trails xc skiing, sounding like a wounded moose with my breathing. I was doing everything I could to hold off Matt and Chris.
I could hear them behind me but I didn't know how close. In typical me fashion I wouldn't turn around to look, mostly afraid of what I might see (like two guys right on my heels). Finally, I could see the finish and made one last push, just in case they were close behind. I crossed the line in 17:22, 5th overall with nearly an identical split on the way back in 8:42. Man I hate short races!

Scott Mason took some great photos which can be viewed here.

Race video and additional pics can also be seen here.

Preliminary TOP 10:

Place Time    Pts  Name                   Team                      Age Sex Bib City St            
===== ======= ===== ==== ====================== ========================= === === === ================== 
    1   15:48  100 Jim Johnson            CMS POLAR BEARS            32 M    98 Salem NH           
    2   16:24   96 Tim Cox                ACIDOTIC RACING            36 M   191 Northwood NH       
    3   16:43   94 Robert Jackman         TUESDAY NIGHT TURTLES      27 M   178 Warwick RI         
    4   17:10   92 Dave Dunham            CMS POLAR BEARS            45 M    24 Ward Hill MA       
    5   17:22   90 Steve Wolfe            ACIDOTIC RACING            45 M    83 Merrimack NH       
    6   17:34   89 Matt Westerlund                                   37 M   197 Laconia NY         
    7   17:40   89 Chris Dunn             ACIDOTIC RACING            41 M    25 Strafford NH       
    8   18:12   86 Danny Ferreira         ACIDOTIC RACING            27 M   159 Concord NH         
    9   18:21   86 Sean Snow              GRANITE STATE RACING TEAM  43 M    99 Dunbarton NH       
   10   18:43   84 Christopher Smith      DUNGEON ROCK RACING        43 M    71 Woburn MA          

Friday, January 1, 2010

Peanut Butter Chip Chase 5K

I like to start of the new year on a positive note and for me, a positive note means I'm healthy enough to run a race. So for the 7th time in 9 years I headed over to Temple NH to run in the 32nd PBCC 5k (results) on New Years Day.

Temple Town Hall
If you've come here for a 5k PR, you'll most likely leave disappointed. It's a pretty tough 5k, due to the course and the conditions. It seems most years the roads in Temple tend to be snow covered making the footing a bit tough. Except for the dirt road section in mile 3, most of the course was in good shape, maybe a bit slushy at most.
Two things worth noting this year: the weather was great and DoubleJ was in town.This small town race doesn't usually attract the big guns so it was good to see Jim at registration. We headed out for a warm up run on the course to check out the conditions. Of course Jim's warm up pace is close to my race pace but I managed. I was pretty confident Jim was the guy to beat today (not by me of course). I just couldn't recall a runner of his caliber in previous years. We lined up just prior to noon, scouted out the competition and got ready for the whistle to send us off.

Peanut Butter Chip Chase 5k Course Profile
The first 1 1/2 miles is mostly uphill and climbs pretty steady. They put out mile markers but I've never been convinced they're accurate. The first mile seems a little fast for all uphill and the second mile seems a little slow for mostly all downhill. As predicted, Jim was out in front early and built a sizable lead by mile 1. After that I never saw him again until the finish line.
I hit the first mile in 5:55 but it felt much slower. There were two runners about 30yds in front of me but I was pretty sure I wasn't going to close the gap unless they tripped and fell. I was in 5th and would hold this position until the finish. As we reached the high point of the course I could not hear anyone behind me but I never checked...better not to know for sure. The down hill section should be fast but it just never turns out that way. I hit the second mile in 6:04 but felt ok. Shortly after the the mile marker the course turns onto a snow covered dirt road for about 1/2 mile +/-. The footing was ok, and I only slipped a bit during this up and down section. Finally, the course jumps back onto pavement for the final painful uphill push to the finish. This last uphill section is really tough. It doesn't look that steep but it always feels like you're shuffling along just a bit faster than a walk as you finish up. I hit the 3rd mile in 6:05. Now the 3rd mile is DEFINITELY not correct. For starters you can see the finish line waaaaay off in the distance, a distance much greater than 0.1 miles I might add. Even running uphill it shouldn't take me a minute to run one tenth of a mile. I'm fairly confident the course is 3.1 miles so its just the mile markers that are off. After 7yrs of running this race it really doesn't bother me since they seem to be consistently off every year :-)
In the end I finished in 19:07, 5th overall. In 7yrs I've never been able to break 19 minutes in this race. Maybe next year!
As an added bonus Jim managed to convince me to run the course in reverse for a cool down. It should be noted that he asked while I was still in the finishing shoot. Yikes. 3 times in one day is enough.