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Downtown Temple,NH

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Top 10 Reasons Not to Run Mt Washington

10 The lottery is fixed. To me a lottery implies an equal chance for all. I'm not convinced.
9 Running back down shouldn't be faster than driving down.
8 The weather can be brutal (see horizontal rain, 50mph winds).
7 One year they actually had purple shirts. Really? Sorry, not a good color for race shirts.
6 Too many people are OBSESSED with this race. You know who you are.
5 If you don't finish in the top 20 nobody cares.
4 I don’t care about the endless stats, streaks & records. (see #5)
3 $80 entry fee. Enough said.
2 Walking shouldn't be as fast (or faster) than running.
1 There's only one hill.

With that being said, If you're a runner in New England, I'd still recommend you do this race....once.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Crash and Burn

After 8 days of no running I finally decided to give it a go. Looking back it was a really dumb decision (really?). For some reason I thought doing a 12 x 400 track workout at 5k pace in the pouring rain was a good way to ease back into running.
Two more decisions hopefully limited the damage - 1) I dropped back and decided to run with the cool kids in group 2 and 2) I quit after running 8 repeats. Unfortunately it was probably 8 too many. Too many left turns which didn't help my left side pain.
A major setback indeed. I can't even walk without pain and I can barely make it up stairs. I'll be changing my blog name to HAV2BIKE shortly.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Zip, zero, nada. That's how many miles I've run in the last 7 days. Surprisingly I'm ok with it (so far). I had a familiar pain during my last run (which happened to be a 5k trail race). The last time I had a similar pain I didn't run for 5-6 weeks so I decided rest was best.
My self diagnosis, by the way, was some sort of QL (quadratus lumborum) strain. Kind of like a lower back strain...but it's not. A little deeper and off to the side.
On a more positive note, I got a TON of mountain biking in over the last week. Woohoo!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bike Talk

Last year I added a 2010 Trek ex8 full suspension mountain bike to my collection and have been loving it ever since. I consider mountain biking the 'trail running' equivalent for cycling, and for the exact same reasons. I don't care about pace or mileage and I barely consider it 'training'. It's just plain fun!

The one thing I have learned is mountain biking requires you to know and learn a lot more about bike maintenance. These bikes are ridden hard and take a beating (plus I tend to fall off on occasion). Sometimes I learn by trial and error, but mostly I learn by the internet :-)

Deore XT Crankset
As my collection of bike-specific tools continues to increase so does my confidence in maintaining, repairing and upgrading my own bike. Yesterday I finished upgrading my birthday present: a Deore XT crankset and Deore XT 11-34 cassette. Not only are they spanky, but with a 22t chainring up front and a 34t in the back, I can just about climb vertical walls now! The only negative (sort of) was after I installed the rear cassette I noticed a little play in the rear axle/freewheel. After trying the trial and error method the first day (and failing), I went back last night armed with knowledge from the internet and rebuilt my rear hub. Good as new! Bike shop is now open for business.
I think my next upgrade may be converting to tubeless tires.
New bling

Sunday, June 12, 2011

2011 Bow Lake Dam 15k

For the 3rd year in a row I decided to run the Bow Lake Dam 15k (results) in Stafford,NH. I think the course is turning into one of my favorite road courses - scenic and challenging. As a bonus this year the weather was just about perfect for running: 60, with a light rain throughout the race. It never rained hard enough to get your singlet or shoes wet, at least during the race. Of course it poured right after finishing, making the post race food and awards less than pleasant. Other than that, a great day.

A handful of familiar faces at the start, including a 1/2 dozen folks from the Somerville Road Runners.  Their yellow singlets would come in handy during the race. My splits have been a little schizophrenic over the first 5 miles in the past so I was hoping to run a bit more steady this year early on. At the gun a very large group decided to go out pretty fast. I did not get sucked in ran my own race and patiently waited to reel them back in. At the 2 mile mark I was probably 10th o/a and by mile 4 I had probably slipped as low as 14th o/a. No worries....yet. I could see quite a few runners in front of me and most were either holding steady or slowly coming back to me. Around mile 5 I finally began passing runners for the first time all day. The stretch from mile 5 to 7 includes a brutally steep climb for nearly a mile followed by a gradual climb for another 1/2 mile. I ran this section HARD, passing another 4-5 runners on the climb. By mile 7 I was in 6th o/a, trailing a couple of SSR runners. I caught the first one around 7.5 and about a mile later caught the 2nd SSR runner. I continued to pick up the pace all the way to the finish (I did not want to get passed in the last 1/2 mile!!). After dodging a few 5k runners from an earlier race, I crossed the line 4th o/a in 59:10, a 35 second PR.
Next year I might even put this race on my calendar!

Splits from the last 3 years:

Mile 2009 2010 2011
1 6:24 6:19 6:23
2 6:17 6:11 6:22
3 6:29 6:27 6:21
4 6:41 6:36 6:23
5 6:33 6:24 6:20
6 7:58 7:31 7:17
7 6:50 6:36 6:35
8 6:29 6:07 5:52
9 6:07 5:49 5:46
0.3 1:53 1:45 1:51
Finish 1:01:41 59:45 59:10

Monday, June 6, 2011

2011 Rye by the Sea Duathlon

This past weekend I decided to step outside my comfort zone and try the Rye by the Sea Duathlon in Rye NH (run-bike-run event). I'm guessing it's been 20+ years since the last time I did one. Back in the mid to late 80's they were fairly popular and I recall doing quite a few, mostly in Vermont. But that was before Al Gore invented the internet so I have no physical proof of this (other than my sharp as a tack memory). In case you were wondering, I haven't been doing any stealth training gearing up for this either. First, I decided last week to do it and second, I have a grand total of less than 150 miles accrued on my road bike over the last 3 years. Oh yeah, I was ready!

Shiny Red bike on the end is mine!
I headed over to Rye fairly early (8am start time). The registration and parking was about 1/3 mile from the actual race site so logistically it required just a bit more time plus I wanted extra time to check out the transition area. Andy Schachat (Announcers on the Run) was setting up and gave me an overview of the transition area. It was a first come first served transition area, meaning you could rack your bike anywhere. Being early has it's advantages. After setting up my bike and gear I met up with fellow GCS runner Joe Rogers and headed out on the 5k course for a warm up. I heard the run course had been poorly marked in the past and we both wanted to make sure we knew what to expect. I guess they've also had multiple variations of the run course and this year would be no different, with a slightly different course from last year. Other than the first turn into the woods, the course was well marked and easy to follow. Roughly 2 miles were on trails and 1 mile on the road. We would run this loop twice during the race, but in different directions each time.

The weather was absolutely PERFECT and you couldn't have asked for a better day (well, maybe a little less wind). A scan of the bikes in the transition area (and the athletes at the starting line) indicated there was a good mix of serious athletes, weekend warriors and average Joes. I tucked into the second row and waited for the gun. At 8am sharp we were off. The first 5k run started with a mile on the road which gave everyone plenty of time to settle into position before hitting the tighter trails of the woods. I was running comfortably hard and hit the first mile in 5:50 (no idea if the markers were accurate), probably in the top 20 or so. I picked off a few more runners and eventually came into the transition area with a time of 18:23 (12th fastest split).

I had practiced my transitions from running shoes to bike shoes (and back) at home so I was generally pleased with my transitions. It took 1:04 to run to my bike, swap shoes, put on my helmet and push my bike to the exit and clip in to the pedals. Once on the bike we headed just about due north for about 6-7 miles before looping back south along the ocean on beautiful Route 1A for another 7 miles, then heading northwest the final 3 miles to the transition area. Generally, head/cross winds for the first 6-7 and the last 3 miles and tail winds for the 7 miles along the ocean. I thought I was riding well until rider after rider flew by, getting passed by 15+ bikes while passing zero. Ugh. Although I averaged just under 20mph, my bike split ranked 49th overall and put me in a huge hole.

I cranked my second transition, racking my bike, changing my shoes and exiting the transition area in 30 seconds. I began reeling in runners immediately on the 2nd 5k run. My legs were obviously tired but I was determined to catch the 'pack' of runners who passed me on the bike. Drafting is illegal in duathlons but I was passed by a peloton of 6 riders about 5 miles from the finish of the bike. Cheaters. It took a few miles but I caught every one of them and then some (12-14 total I think). My second 5k split was 28 seconds faster than my first in 17:55 and was the 7th fastest split of the day.

My 1:29:07 was good enough for 21st overall (183 total) and 4th in my age group (results). Overall I had a great time. This was a lot of fun! Yes, my bike split needs work but I was very pleased with my runs, especially my 2nd 5k. I will definitely try this again.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

2011 Pineland Farms 25k Trail Run

I headed back up to New Gloucester, ME for my 2nd attempt at the Pineland Farms 25k rolling course. I figured having some knowledge of the course and being in decent shape would yield better results. Last year wasn't bad, I just thought I could have run better.

I also brought my family along this year. I know how they enjoy getting up before 6am on a Sunday so it was the least I could do. It really is a great race to bring your family to. The start/finish area (aka 'the Grove') is very active with tons of runners passing by (3 races going on at the same time), music, food and various runner support activities. The overcast skies were appreciated for most of the race but the humidity was a bit much. It really does a number on my hair.
Start of the race
It would appear most folks who run this race break it down into five-5k sections. I'm no different. The 1st 5k is generally fast, slightly downhill, the 2nd 5k gains most of the drop back, the 3rd & 4th 5k's are rollers with the 3rd being more exposed (fields) and the 4th losing some elevation which makes the 5th 5k pretty tough since it's last and there's quite a bit of climbing. My only plan this year was to go out a little slower than last year and hopefully it would pay off in the middle 5k's. Half my plan was successful.

I desperately tried not to line up near the front. I didn't want to get sucked into a faster-than-I-wanted-to-go pace. This was actually hard to do. I was probably 10ft from the start line and I was still second row. How the heck does that happen? Of course I lined up behind the only person in front of me who didn't go out fast and was already frustrated after 25 ft of running. Thankfully things settled down within the first 1/4 mile and I motored along at a fairly relaxed, easy pace. The course had kilometer markers so the 4:16 1st kilometer didn't give me any idea what pace I was running so I waited until the 5k point to find out if things were going according to plan. 21:09 (about a minute slower than last year) felt good, but I was a little nervous watching some of my competitors creep out of sight. The 2nd 5k section is probably the toughest but with fresh legs all it really ends up being is slower than you'd like. I still didn't feel like I was pushing the pace at all but I was catching some of the guys who went out a little quick. I wasn't gaining any ground on my competitors, in fact I had all but lost sight of Denis and Jeff way before the 10k mark.
Water bottle swap!

I never really felt bad during the race but I do remember feeling sluggish, especially during the 3rd and 4th 5k sections. I felt like I was working pretty hard but it wasn't translating into any speed. I was drinking plenty from my handheld and dumping water on my head at the aid stations but the humidity was wearing me down. It's amazing (to me anyways) how slow I actually ran during the 3rd and 4th 5k sections compared to last year. I ran that section nearly 9 minutes slower....in a 10k stretch. Ouch. I can't honestly say what went wrong other than the sauna-like conditions just wore me out.

2011 Splits
5k 5k Time 5k Pace
1st 0:21:09 0:06:48
2nd 0:24:17 0:07:49
3rd 0:25:02 0:08:03
4th 0:24:32 0:07:54
5th 0:20:27 0:06:35
FINISH 1:55:27 0:07:26

2010 Splits
5k 5k Time 5k Pace
1st 0:20:17 0:06:32
2nd 0:24:15 0:07:48
3rd 0:20:52 0:06:43
4th 0:20:54 0:06:44
5th 0:25:23 0:08:10
FINISH 1:51:44 0:07:12

As I came through the Grove I grabbed a fresh (cold) water bottle from my daughter for the last 9k loop. Even though I had apparently crashed over the last 10k I was still passing people and surprisingly don't recall many (if any) runners passing me since very early in the race. Generally I ran alone but I did go back and forth with Christin Doneski (1st female o/a) for most of the race. I came up on Scott Hornney around the 20k mark and apparently put a spark back into his race (and mine). He had been running alone for a while and probably relaxed a bit too much. As soon as I caught up with him his pace increased. Then my pace increased. Well how about that? I was racing again! I made a couple of surges hoping to drop him but he stuck to me like glue (the bum!). Finally, on the last little climb before entering the field I made one last surge and opened up a small gap. Thankfully it was enough to get me to the finish, slightly ahead. Strangely I ran the last 5k nearly 5 minutes faster than last year (even though I ran the previous 10k 9 minutes slower?). I have no idea what that means...I must be some sort of schizophrenic runner or something.
Good news, I placed 13th overall out of 325 finishers. Bad news, almost everyone ahead of me was a masters runner! (results). Next year will be different (I hope).