Sunday, December 6, 2009

Mill Cities Relay

What a ROAG all star team we had. Every one of the guys ran faster then they and I predicted. Of the 215+ teams I think we finished around 34th over all (sorry Joe but we gave it all we had but couldn't pull out the win).

Tom started us off on very slippery footing and put us in fine position to hunt deer. My goal was to track down at least 5 people (deer). When I took the baton from Tom the footing was very slippery in the transition area. Once on the road I shifted into high gear and started picking off deer. With in the first 3 minutes I had my 5 bagged. Time to reset my goals. 20 deer or die trying! I continued to run with good form and kept the deer on the run. By mile 3 I had 20 down, OK with 1.75 to go, lets shoot for 30. I'm a finally tuned racing machine, I'm thinking to myself. 21 bagged, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28 OH no I'm running out of road. I can see Mike with his aerodynamic look with just shorts, a singlet and arm warmers. OH SH!t some young girl is trying to pass me back, time to kick, I'm red lining, dam young legs, this sucks!!!

I handed off and Mike O and he takes it OUT HARD. He's flying. Now I'm worried that we won't make it to the next transition to see Mike hand off to David. As we pass Mike I hang out the window and yell "get moving you f'n pu$$y". Pete then points out to me "gee I wonder what the girl in front of him just thought when you yelled that" OH Well. We get there with 1 minute to spare. Mike picks off 6+ people. What a performance, with only 2.5 miles to run it's very hard to even catch 1 person.

David takes the baton and he's off to the races. Now David has to run the first mile on a path that runs along the river. This path ends up being very slippery and David manages to drop the baton and he doesn't even notice. A guy in back of him yells out and David stops and heads back to get the baton. (If we miss breaking 3 hours I'm going to fry David). David has the long leg 9.5 miles. He hammers it faster per mile then any of us are able to do with our leg. WOW, he finishes and doesn't even look like he ran hard. WTF!!! He even caught 10+ people which is amazing because the field is now spread out over the 22+ miles we have completed.

Now it's Pete's turn to bring us home. As Pete took the baton I took a look at the clock and we have a chance of breaking 3 hours. Only if Pete can run sub 7 minute miles. We know he can so things are looking good. As we are standing at the finish line watching the clock we can see a good 600 yards down the road. With the clock hitting 2:56 we see that destinktive stride turning the corner. He's going to do it!! Come on PETE!!! Pete not only ran sub 7 minute miles but ran some where around 6:45's. He also pasted 5+ people including the girl who was wearing antennas. What an effort!!!!

We were one very proud team. All the early morning runs payed off in a big way.

Thanks guys I very proud to say that I was a member of this team.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Were have I been

It's been a while since I've updated my blog. I've been busy and have done a couple of races. I did Reach the Beach as part of acidotic-X team. In this race we were one runner short and I volunteered to run a 4th leg. The first 3 legs went as expected, with me averaging around 7 minute miles. As I lied on the grass getting ready for my fourth leg I was dead tired and didn't know how I was going to dig up the energy to run. So I decided to go "Old School". Before there was Gatoraide or GU or Powerbars there was a secret weapon that us runners used during long races. We would set it out during our long runs and have friends hand it to us during marathons. That secret weapon is Coke. It gives you a quick energy boost and doesn't upset your stomach. The way you keep it from upsetting you stomach is to cut it with water and that defizzes it. So I drank down 12 oz of Coke with 12 oz of water and I was good to go. I ran the last leg faster then I did any other leg. Mission accomplished.

Last weekend I did the adventure race Pinnacle Challenge up in Newport, NH. This race has 4 legs to it and I did the race as part of a 4 person coed relay team. Our team came in 3 in the coed division and all walked away with a jug of maple suryup for our efforts.

This weekend I took it easy as I get ready for the Bay State Marathon next Sunday. I'm not well trained but will gut out at least the first half of the race in an effort to help out David Katz run a sub 3 hour marathon. David is in fantastic shape and has more then a good chance of being successful.

I will update my blog next week after the race. Good luck to all those running Bay State. It's a fantastic race to use as a qualifier for Boston for a couple of reasons. First the course is flat and runs along side a river for 2 loops. Second, the timing of the race lets you get a qualifier for Boston for 2 years. Lets hope for good weather (45 degrees) and no wind.

Monday, August 24, 2009

What Happened to my legs...Timberman 1/2 Ironman

The Timberman 1/2 Ironman race held in Gilford, NH is one of the best run races in New England. Every detail to the race is taken care of by Keith Jordan and his crew at Endorfun Sports. Well almost every detail, you have to run the race yourself.

Friday night I got up to Gilford early so I could pick up my race packet for Sunday's race. Gunstock ski area was already abuzz with 100's of athletes checking in for the Sprint race on Saturday and the1/2 ironman on Sunday. I was processed quickly and was heading back to my place with in 30 minutes even after I purchased a couple of items from the Official Trinkets and Trash tent. Next thing on the agenda was to change the tires and tubes on my bike. Sounds easy enough for a trained professional but I'm not one of those. I made quick work of the rear tire but for some reason the front tire was trouble some. I went through 3 tubes. Where are my ROAG tire changers when I need them?

Saturday morning I was up at 5:30 to set up the water station for the Sprint run turn around. Every year my wife and I manage this water station with the help of our fellow Condo owners. It's a lot of fun and it really gets a lot of people away from the activities on the lake to the other side of their units to watch the race. It seems that every year the number of people rises who run this race whom live in the condos, which is really nice to see. We made quick work of setting up the water station and were ready in plenty of time for the first runners to come by at 8 AM. By 10:30 the last runner came by and we shut down the water station and cleaned up within 15 minutes.

Next up was cleaning and lubing my bike. This went fairly quickly and I was ready to go. I drove my bike down to the transition and set it up for Sunday's race. Covered it in plastic due to pending rain storms and I headed the 1.5 miles back up to my place on top of Mt Graham North. I had a good dinner and was in bed by 8:30.

The plan was to wake up at 4 AM to get ready for the 7:03 start time. Plans don't always work out!!! At 3:12 AM my cell phone started ringing, I leap out of bed to answer it. Calls after about 11 PM at night are never good news. It seems that my house alarm in Westford had been triggered and the security company had dispatched Westford's finest to my house. 15 minutes later I received a 2nd call to be informed that everything was OK. Well now that I'm up and wired I might as well start pulling things together. A quick shower and a protein shake and I was ready to head down to the beach. I had all my equipment pre-packed and took a leisurely 1.5 stroll in the pitch black of the night. When I arrived it was 4:30 and the parking lots were already almost full. Over the next 2.5 hours I got everything ready in the transition area and must have made 5 trips to the Porta-Potties.

While setting up I saw Bill Morse, one of the founding father Dungeon Rock Racing (A snow shoe racing team). He was very worried about not finishing the swim quickly enough and being pulled from the race. I assured him that Keith would not do this because he wants everyone to walk away with positive experience. But Bill continued to worry. I tried!! At 6:30 I made my way over to the starting area and at 6:45 it was announced that there would be a 20 minute delay to the start due to an accident near the bike course. The accident was out on Rt 93 but I'm sure that due to limited Police staffing in some of these small towns they didn't have enough officers to cover the race and the accident at the same time. At 7:30 the pro's began their swim. I was in the 2nd wave and would start 3 minutes later.

Before we get on with the race I wanted to share my goals for this race.

1. Don't drown. Sounds simple but I suck at swimming and I swim more on race day then I do all year combined
2. Don't bonk on the bike like last year. I had 3 water bottles this year with GU's and Shot Blocks.
3. Finish at all costs. Seeing I dropped out last year, it was a tough pill for me to swallow.
4. Finish in less then 6 hours. Very manageable if I don't bonk.
5. BHAG of finish in under 5 hours and 30 minutes. Everything would have to go right for this to happen.

At 7:33 our wave of 50 and older males started. 3 minutes later women 45 and older started in pink swim caps. Then there was a 9 minute gap for the following wave and 5 minutes in between waves from that point on. Just before the gun was to sound for us I realized that I had to pee. I guess that was going to have to wait at least until I was done swimming. When my wave went off I took my position at the back of the group. No sense of getting kicked and punched by all these guys when I have 100+ females who were going to do the job. As always I struggled with the swim. I can't seem to find a good rhythm. And it doesn't help that this is a clockwise course and I sight on the left side. I tend to swim a very crocked 1.2 miles. At the first turn I was over 16 minutes into the race and realized that I was very warm. The water temperature combined with the sun and my black wet suit were cooking me. I struggled through the next 3rd of the race and took turn two at the 35 minute mark. I had slowed but now I was in the home stretch. This got my spirits up and all of a sudden I started figuring out how to best propel myself through the water. I was even passing some people who passed me earlier. I got out of the water in about 49 minutes, my 2nd fastest swim on this course. YES!!!

In the Transition 1 I took my time and made sure there wasn't all kinds of sand in my biking shoes. No need to get blisters if I could avoid them. I headed out onto the biking course and started out very controlled. Last year I attacked the course and by mile 30 I was dead. This years plan was to ride the first 11 miles through the hills controlled then hammer the next 34 miles on Rt 106 and then a controlled finish through the hills. Now truth be told I've only ridden my bike 291 miles this year so I had no grand expectation on the bike other then to drink often, eat GU before my energy was totally depleted and save my body for the run. My plan was working perfectly. Once I hit Rt 106 I was flying and was feeling no pain. I was a finely tuned machine and I could not be stopped. Until my bladder started reminding me that I still hadn't peed yet. I put this pain out of my head and just keep motoring. At mile 48 where I bonked last year I pedaled right up the hill with complete confidence. It wasn't until mile 49 that my left leg started getting cramps. I backed it down a little bit and was able to shake the cramping feeling and motor past my place where my wife and kids and countless neighbors were out cheering. As I went by I screamed out "BRING IT" and kicked it up into high gear for the next mile and coasted into the transition area. I was happy that the bike portion of the race was done and I was still feeling pretty strong. Best of all I didn't have any mechanicals during the ride.

In the transition I once again took my time and put my running shoes on with a fresh pair of socks. I headed out onto the running course and my legs were not happy. But after 1/2 of a mile my bladder was reminding me that I still had to go. I ducked into the first John I came across and boy-O-boy did I have to go. Back on the course I realized that I was getting dehydrated. Good thing that for this 13.1 mile run there were 17 water stations and I used every single one of them. In addition there were countless people out who live on the course with hoses spraying down runners. I took everything I could get. When I passed by my place my wife had prepared a bottle with coke cut with water and defizzed. I used to use this mixture all the time back when I tried to hammer marathons. It's a good energy boost and isn't too bad of shock to your system. During the first loop I was able to run most of the course but I had to take brakes after every quarter mile. My heart rate kept spiking and the only way to bring it under control was to walk. As I came around to start the 2nd loop I made a comment to the cheering crowds "Hey that was so much fun the first time, I think I'll do it again". I received a big laugh and a huge cheer. Off I went on lap #2. At this point my left leg was going ridged. My hammy and my quad were locked up. Running more then 10 steps at a time was impossible. I had waves of people passing me. At one point I heard my name called and I looked up and it was Sean V, and ex-Westford guy who moved up to Maine for the good life. Good thing he saw me because the only way I would have seen him is if he were laying down on the pavement by my feet. When I reached my place for the last time my 12 year old daughter came up to me and offered to pace me up the final hill. I declined but that didn't stop her from encouraging me all the way up the hill. With 1.5 miles left to go I knew I was going to finish but it wouldn't be pretty. I gave it everything I had left and finished in a slow jog. I was wiped out. But a big smile was soon on my face. Who was about to put the metal around my neck? It was Chrissie Wellington, the women's winner. She had just won a major race and was in the finish area handing out metals to slugs like me!! She has a new fan for life. I hope she doesn't think I stocking her.

How did I do against my goals?

1. Don't drown
2. I didn't bonk on the bike.
3. I finished
4. 6 hour finish didn't happen. I ended up with a 6:31:51
5. Never mind!!

So in summation, I swam OK I biked great and for one reason or another I just couldn't run. My finishing pace on the run was 12:30 per mile. ARGGGG!!!

After the race I jumped, or should I say slithered into the lake to cool down, then I proceeded to eat a huge plate of salty foods with lots of pasta and enjoyed a couple of cold Pepsi's. Next up was making my way home. I gathered my stuff and head back up Mt Graham North one last time on my bike. I was really careful not to let my legs cramp during this final climb. When I got home I cleaned up and got on the scale. After everything I ate and drank at the finish I was still down 11 pounds from where I started that morning. I'm guessing that I was down at least 15 pounds when I finished the run and I might have been down almost 20 pounds when I finished the bike. I continued to eat and drink as much as I could and when I woke up this morning I was still down 10 pounds.

I'm starting to think that the half ironman distance is just to much for me with little to no training. I think I might move down to the sprint next year. But time heals all wounds and I might be back at the half again next year.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Age Before Youth

Last Saturday I went over to the 1st Annual New Durham Parks & Rec 5k. I figured that it would be a small race because it appeared on CoolRunning just a couple of weeks ago. I was right, only 82 people had entered. Now the question was which of the local kids were going to take the race. I knew the course because 10 years ago they held a race on this same course. As I recall back then I had just turned 40 and on that day I was beaten by a 14 year old girl in the final kick. My wife said I was impossible to talk for a couple of hours after the race. Since then I've learned to accept the challenges from the youth and make sure it doesn't come down to a sprint, no matter what the gender is.

For such a small race I was surprised to see that Dave Camire from Yankee Timing was there working the race. So I knew the times and finishing spots would be accurate.

The race started right on time and like a flash a couple of young kids took it out fast. The lead group also included a guy with a NH State Police shirt who I've seen before and in other races I've always reeled him back in after a mile. Lastly there was a guy with a "Blazing Turtles" shirt t-shirt in the lead group.

I just let the group go for the first 1/2 mile then I would start picking off people as they slowed. First came the guy in the NH State Police shirt at the mile mark. Next came two of the young kids before we hit the 1.5 mile mark. Next I caught the last kid at about the 2 mile mark. I noticed that I was starting to run down Mr "Blazing Turtle" but he had over a 200 yards on me and I was running out of road. At 2.5 miles I realized that I was not going to catch him and I peeked over my shoulder and noticed I had over 100 yard lead on the next guy. I pushed with all I had left but wasn't panicking. I ended up 2nd over all and 1st in to 50 - 59 age category.

I spent a few minutes talking to the winner who was a really nice guy from New Durham. He was 41 years old and he had his whole family running the race. I love seeing that kind of family activity. Anyway, at the awards ceremony they announced the winners in each age category and gave them a certificate. When they got to me they made a big deal that I was 50 years old and finished 2nd. I received the standard certificate and because I finished 2nd they gave me a gift card to a local hardware store. They announced that I was #2 to which I replied "I've been called worst"!! The crowd and announcer had a good chuckle.

My time was slow by my standards. I really running tight lately. I'm going to have to start stretching more at night to get more flexible. Next up is the last race in the Westford Academy Summer Series. I'm running this as a fun run because on Sunday is the Timberman 1/2 Ironman that I know I'll be in way over my head with.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Last race of the series

Ran the final scoring race for the Westford Academy Summer Series Thursday nigh. Ended up 5th over all and ran 1 second slower then last week. Richard Blake won the race. The weather was perfect and I should have been able to run faster. I have no excuses.

I was the first person to finish in the 50 - 59 year old age category and locked up the series championship. I won my age category in all 9 races. For fun I took all the races and scored my races as if I was in the 40 - 49 age category and I would have won that title. In fact I would have won every age category. The only reason for this is in a series it's about consistency and I was able to run every race. The closes challenge I had was in the 40 - 49 age category. After 8 races I was tied with Allen Hall in points but I had 12 second advantage over him. Unfortunately Allen was not able to make tonight's race, which gave me the W. Sometimes half the battle is just showing up.

Speaking about showing up, tonight the legendary Bob Bradford showed up for the race with 2 of his kids. Years ago Bob held the course record on this course. Bob is a great guy and it was good to catch up with him and talk about the old days. He ran well and his kids ran very well. I'll be seeing Bob a couple of times over the XC season because our daughters are the same age and will be battling head to head over the course of the season. It will be fun to watch.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Fast vs Slow Alton Bay Old Home Days 5K

There are some things that are fast.

And there are some things that are slow!!

On Saturday I headed over to Alton Bay, NH to run the Alton Bay Old Home Days 5K. I arrived early and was able to secure a parking spot right next to the sign up area which was in the boat launch parking lot. I quickly signed up and did a quick review of the course map. We were to start across from the public rest rooms and run towards the high school right over the starting line of the Big Lake Half Marathon. Then we would climb a small steep hill at the half way point. Lastly we would be heading down hill and over a couple little rollers to finish back in the parking lot.

I noticed that Jim Johnson's car in the lot so I went over and we decided to do a warm up on the course. Jim had just set the course record on the Loudon DARE 5K course on Wednesday and set the course record at the Laconia 5K XC race on Saturday. In other words this boy was on fire. We talked about his chances of breaking 16 minutes and decided that the course might not be conducive to this type of time. Time will tell.

Soon the commands to start the race would be given and we were off. Jim of course took off like a shot. Close on his heels was a 14 year Tuttle who is going into 8th grade. This young Tuttle would soon loose his steam and drop back. Jim was running like a mad man. After about a half mile he had a 200 yard lead. This was a race for 2nd place. I was running in 13th place and felt pretty good. The roads were fairly well shaded so I decided to just run comfortably and save something for the short steep hill. I hit the hill and tried to keep my form but ultimately started to drop my head and struggle up the hill. At the 2 mile mark I was at 12:48, slower the usual.

All of a sudden I herd foot steeps behind me. It was the first woman and she went past me like I was standing still. I tucked in behind her and hoped that if I conserved some energy I'd be able to get back the place in the final stretch. I was wrong, but did pass one person and ended up 13th over all with a 19:53, SLOW!! I think I'm running to many races at this point.

JJ on the other hand not only won the race but set another course record with a 15:46. WOW!! Boy oh boy is JJ on fire.

JJ and I did a cool down with two of the local HS studs and got another 22 minutes of running in. So I figure I got almost 9 miles in for the day.

One thing that I though was very interesting was the quality of the 50 - 59 year old runners in the race. The top 5 50 - 59 year old runners were in the top 14 runners. I did a fun exercise and scored the race based on XC rules and guess what? The 50 - 59 year old runners would have beaten all the other age categories.

So what did I learn on Saturday, JJ is FAST, I'm slow, but the 50 - 59 year old runners are faster then any others as a group. I'll declare that 50 is the new 20.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it!!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Hot is SLOOOW!!!

OK, last week I reported that Hot was FAST! It's funny how things change in one week.

Thursday was week #8 of the Westford Academy Summer Series. It was 84 degrees when I showed up at 5:55 at the school. I was worried that I won't make the 6:30 start because for no reason what so ever, Rte 495 South from Rte 93 was moving at a crawl. I checked in and started seeing the usual cast of runners. Allen Hall, Rick Porter, and the rumor was out that David Katz would be showing up. David has been running really well over the last couple of weeks and if he showed up he'd be the favorite to win. Allen came over to me and stated that he saw David running over from a couple miles away. I guess I'm running for 2nd place. In addition I noticed that there was a high school kid there from last week who ran with the leaders for most of the race. So the race would be between David and this kid. I'm now thinking about 3rd place. Then Allen points out another guy who ran 2:50 at Boston this year. OK 4th place and that my final offer!!

Paul, lined us up and got us going with a "Very QUICK" gun. It shocked most of us. The guy who ran the 2:50 at Boston took the lead right away and ran away. David Katz took up 2nd and Allen and I were running in 3rd and 4th place respectively. The high school kid tucked in behind us and just drafted. Allen and I started yelling out to David to go catch the guy up front. "He's slowing down", "You can do it", "come on old man". David just replied "NO WAY"!!! We went through the mile in 6 flat. Fast but not as fast as last week. I pushed the pace trying to break Allen but every time I surged he matched me. The tuna salad I had for lunch was starting to bubble up in my stomach. Then around 1.5 miles my left Achilles felt like someone drove a knife into it. I immediately backed it down and let Allen and the kid go ahead of me. I limped for a couple of strides but was able to get back under control after about a quarter mile. By the 2 mile mark Allen was 100 yards up on me and the kid had 50. As we climbed the hill I was able to pull myself within 20 yards of the kid and by the time we hit the dirt road I was even with him. I knew that if it came down to a sprint to the finish I was toast. So for the next 1/2 mile I pushed as hard as I could coming down the hill. It didn't work. He matched me stride for stride. As we turned into the school we had 300 yards to go and I was in trouble. The kid turned on the jets and I was left sucking his fumes. I checked my watch and noticed that I wasn't going to set a PR on the course (for this year), but had a chance of breaking 23 minutes. I pushed as hard as I could and just barely made it with a 22:57.

What happened? It was hot but, not muggy. Allen struggles with the muggy but not the heat and he ran a 22:32, which is his fastest run of the year. Way to go Allen. David, got 2nd over all and P/R'd with a 21: 38. Again, congrad's David. I will never eat tuna salad for lunch before a race again. In addition I did a 9.3 mile run on Wednesday which I think beat me up pretty bad. I have to learn to take it easier the day before a race.

So I guess I have to qualify Hot and Muggy is fast, not just Hot.

Next up is Alton Bay 5K on Saturday.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

MUD, Wonderful MUD!!!

On Saturday I ran the Laconia High School Cross Country 5K. As I was signing up the student who was signing me in was apologizing about the condition of the course. "It's very muddy" she said. I blurted out "Gee, then it should be a lot of fun" The girl gave me a strange look.

I decided to take a run of the course to see what this fine young lady was talking about and determine which shoes I should wear during the race. I was pointed over to the corner of the soccer field where I signed in and off I went. After 200 yards the course crossed the road onto a farmers field. Right away I started to understand what this girl was talking about. The ground was squishing under my feet and I was in the middle of an open field. What were the woods going to be like? The answer came quickly. MUD!!! Mud and water!! Footing was going to be a problem. The trail rose and fell often and made many turns through the mud. This was going to be fun I thought to my self.

I headed back to the starting area and met up with Scott Clark and John Tuttle. I gave the guys my take on the course and I told them that I was wearing my cross country spikes with the 1/2 spikes. The looked at me like I was crazy but my mind was set. Flat bottom shoes would not work on this course.

Soon all kinds of people were showing up and I noticed Jim Johnson's car, it's very tough to miss. Jim came jogging over after his warm up run and he decided on the Inov-8 212's. These are neat trail shoes with long rubber spikes covering the bottom. They were a good choice for this race.

Andrew, Laconia's x-country coach called all the runners to the starting line and set us off. I could see that Jim and Scott took to the lead right away. I started quick but controlled. Right after we crossed the road John Tuttle pulled in front of me. I decided to just hang on his tail and see if I could find his weakness. The field was wet but my spikes were holding really well. When we entered the woods and headed down hill I could see John slipping all over the place. I was running like a cat up a tree and was reeling in John. Then the trail headed up and it was dry. John shifted gears and took off. He broke my sprite and I would never get any closer to him. For the next mile and a half I was running in no mans land. The next runner behind me was more then 200 yards back, so I just kept pushing as much as I could and sloshed through the mud.

There was one little twist in the course that I think hurt all the runners. As we approached the point were we crossed the road from the start they turned us back onto the swampy field for one more fun filled lap of about 1/4 mile. I finished to lots of hoots from runners who had already finished. After finishing I joined in with the other runners and called in the people still out on the course.

JJ, Scott and I went out and did a nice cool down run. JJ won the race with Scott finishing 3rd. I on the other hand finished 15th in a time of 22:20. JJ set the course record at 16:45...way to go big guy!!

It wasn't until after the cool down that I noticed how mud covered I was. Mud was all over my back sided from me kicking it up. Seeing I wasn't running near anyone for most of the race, my front was clean, except for the drool from my effort.

This race was so much fun that I might run more of these during the fall season.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hot is fast!!

This title reminds me of an old joke that I learned when I was in grammer school. It goes something like this, Question: What is faster hot or cold? Answer: Hot is faster because you can catch a cold!!!

Thursday night I ran race # 7 in the Westford Academy Summer Series. It was HOT! When I left my house the temp was hitting 90 with no wind or clouds. The race would be a game of attrition. The theme of the race was "Ladies Night". Which means that the ladies got a 7 minute head start over the men.

As I scanned the ladies there was at least one who could beat me outright. This lady was my training partner for Boston this year, Jill Trotter. This was her race to win outright. In addition to the ladies there seemed to be a lot of young kids in attendance. From what I found out, there were 10+ kids from Fitchburg High School. In addition there were a bunch of the WA runners in the race.
The women's race started right on time at 6:30 and 7 minutes later the guys took to the course. A guy with a ipod on took the lead. I just let him go because he looked like a 400 yard wonder. And I was right. The pack went by him and shat him out the back side before we hit the quarter mile mark. At this point a 20 something year old kid took the lead and looked strong. I was in the middle of 5 high school kids. One of which was at my house on Wednesday night for a party my daughter was having. I got next to this kid and said, "I play dirty" then faked an elbow in his face. He looked over at me and if the look he threw me had words, it would have said "I'm going to kick your arse, old man". And then he quickly put 10 yards on me.

I hit the mile at 5:53. Which is the fastest I've run this first mile all year. The group of high schooler's were now pulling away. I decided to try and settle into a pace that I knew I could hold and just relax and run on my toes with a straight back and my head held high. It was working and my breathing became more relaxed and I was reeling in my daughters friend. By 1.5 miles I passed him and listened to him gurgle as I passed and knew I had him beat. A few yards later Ken Cain came blazing past me. I mean he was looking to break me and he just about accomplished it. He didn't even seem to be breathing hard. I let him go because I knew I usually had a little more strength on the up hill at mile 2. Sure enough I reeled Ken back in going up the hill. I hit the 3 mile mark at 19:23, my fastest time this year and was feeling good. As I turned into the school I peeked over my shoulder and there was nobody in sight. In front of me was one kid about 30 yards a head. I wasn't going to catch him but I had a chance of running my fastest time of the year. I finished in 22:46 and PR'd by 6 seconds on the hottest night of the year.

I ended up in 5th place over all and I think if you add up the ages of the 3 kids in places 2nd, 3rd and 4th I'd still be older. It's good to see more younger kids getting involved in this sport.

Jill won the race and also PR'd with at 23:07. She really wants to break 23 minutes and I'm sure she can do it given a cooler night.

Next race is on Saturday in Laconia, NH. It's a 100% cross country race to benefit the HS XC team. It should be a lot of fun

Monday, July 27, 2009

Focus on the positve!!!

When I was starting to write this entry this morning I titled it "The Mistake". Then I went out for a run Monday morning and slowly realized that as a runner I obsess about the things I do wrong and what I need to do to correct them. Instead of how lucky I am to be able to get the feeling of freedom while I self propel myself all over NE.

So here we go. On Saturday Morning I got up and headed out to Canterbury, NH for the Canterbury Woodchuck Classic 5K. I had a chance to look at the course profile on Friday and I realized that I was in for some PHAT. The course starts down a steep hill then continues down hill for a mile. It levels out for mile 2 then climbs for mile 3. When I arrived in Canterbury there was the makings of a festival going on in the center of town. I'm guessing that the road race was a way to bring more out of towners to the festival.

I did a quick warm up down the hill we were to start on and it hurt to go down it with any speed. As I was doing my final stretching I noticed Morgan Seybert warming up. Morgan is my next door neighbor in Gilford. I've watched him from the time he was a freshman in high school struggling to run past my place a couple of times a day so he could be getting in 80 - 100 miles a week. He wasn't that fast back then but with all that training he put in, he turned himself into quite a force on the roads. He's now 1 year out of college and is tearing up the roads in NY. Anyway I asked Morgan if he was going to take it today, and he responded that he wasn't in to good of shape and that there was another guy there that ran for BC and was flying these days. His name is David Chorney and he was the defending champion of this race. OK so a W for me today was out of the question.

The race director was very focused on starting the race on time and had us lined up 5 minutes before the start. He warned us that a cannon was to be fired at 9 AM sharpe but we were not to start. The cannon fired and most of us jumped but nobody started down the road. I looked around that the average age of the people around me was damn young. This was going to be a fast start. The race director gave us the commands a few seconds later and we were off. ZZZZIIIIPPPPP people were flying. I couldn't believe how fast we were going. I decided right away to hold it back. The pounding on my legs had to be 10x's my body weight. The steepness of the grade could only compare to Mt Washington.

When we hit the center of town 300 yards down the road I looked up and saw that Morgan had the lead by about 30 yards. At about 500 yards into the race the 2nd place guy closed the gap with a surge and was running along side Morgan. The two of them already had over 100 yard lead on me. I surveyed the people in front of me and there was one guy who looked about my age, and he was about 20 yards a head of me, his name was Jon Marvin. I decided to just let him stay there and try and catch my breath.

We hit the mile in 5:35...WHOA-Nelly!!! slow down big fella I thought to my self. This was the fastest mile I've run all year. Thankfully, everyone else was now starting to back it down. By the 1.5 mile mark I started closing the gap on Jon. Now I had a choice, I could lie low and surprise him at the finish or I could drive past him and try and break his spirit. It was spirit crushing time. I went by Jon quickly and put 20 yards in between us. Jon was now running in a pack of 5 others and I was running alone. We hit the 2 mile mark and the course turned UP. I struggled to keep my form but was loosing the battle. At about 2.8 miles Jon went past me and I just couldn't respond. I keep him with in a stones throw of me but was not able to close in the last 200 yards. I should have just stayed behind Jon. OH well, live an learn.

Jon took 1st in the 50 - 59 category with me taking 2nd. When the results were posted I noticed something about all the people in front of Jon and I and it made me smile. Jon finished in 17th and I in 18th place. But what made me smile was the ages of most of the "kids" in front of us. Ten of them were under the age of 20, four were between 20 and 29 and two were in their 30's. Running is making a comeback with the younger generation!! The average age of the people in front of Jon and I was 20.5. Morgan had also hung on to 2nd place. I made sure that I pointed out to him that he was "First Loser". He didn't seem to happy and left right away.

There was a nice raffle and all the age category winners (3 deep) all received a hand made bowl. I collected Morgan's for him.

On Sunday, I got up early and decided I was going to do a trail run. I usually do an 1.5 hour run mostly on trails up to Gunstock ski area. I headed out and it was slightly raining but warm enough to feel nice to the touch. My legs were feeling good and I kept telling myself to run easy and run light. I was feeling super. When I reached Gunstock there were large white tents everywhere. I couldn't figure out why. So I just headed on my usual loop around Cobble Mtn. As I was looping Cobble I noticed a sign for Round pond. I felt great so I decided to head that way. Before I knew it I was running up to the top of Belknap Mtn. The top was socked in and there was no ranger in the look out. I was now 1 hour and 45 minutes into this run and was starting to tire. I had no water and and was worried about bonking. I headed out on a trail that I hoped would take me to the top of Gunstock where I knew the ski area like the back of my hand so I could take the quickest way down. My internal GPS worked perfectly and soon I was standing on the top of Gunstock. Mother nature called so as I emptied my blatter I noticed that what came out was not normal. I was dehydrating. I needed to get down quick and get some water.

I took one of the intermediate trails down and when I reached the half way point I realized what all the tents were for. SoulFest was starting on the 29th. One of the big venues was the main stage and everyone was going to be sitting up on the mountain to watch the shows. The problem was, with all the rain and the construction of new snow making pipes the ski slope was all mud. We're talking 300 yards of mud mixed with grass and fuel from the big crane they had up on the mountain. I was sinking shin deep in the muck as I looped down the mountain. I managed to loose only one shoe during this phase of the run. I was hurting. I backed down the pace and completed the slow trudge back to my place in 2 hours and 58 minutes. I didn't even try walking into my place because I was covered in mud, head to toe (especialy my feet). I ran right down to the lake and jumped in shoes and all. It was the best swim I've done all year.

Note to self...Bring water on long trail runs...idiot!!

As I ran this morning I realized how lucky I am to be able to run a hard 5K on Saturday, then run a 3 hour trail run on Sunday and come back on Monday and do a track workout in the humid thick air of July in New England.

How positive is that?

Friday, July 24, 2009


Last night was race #6 in the Westford Academy Summer Racing Series. All the usual cast of characters were there, Allen Hall (whom is having a great year racing and is leading the 40 - 49 age category), Ken Cain (who has missed a few races but is still in first for the 30 - 39 age category), Jill Trotter (who knocked me down on a Boston Training run and smashed my head on the curb 3 miles into the 21 mile run, that's my story and I sticking to it), Marc Boutin (Very fast, young gun who just finished his 1st year in college and was running 3rd for the XC team), and my favorite high school kid John Edwin (whom I forced off course into the grass in week one, and he tends to go out fast then us old timers eat him up later on in the race). Lastly 2 of my biking ROAG buddies were there, Rick Porter and George Davis with his son.

The weather seemed to be holding with overcast and flecks of mist every now and then. Tonight's race was a unknown distance and you had to be ready for anything. After finishing the race you had to guess what the distance was and the person closest would get a t-shirt. So the secret to this race was to go out at about 90% and hang on for dear life. Normally the course is 3.6 miles long so we weren't sure if it was going to be 3 miles or 5 miles.

As always Paul (the race director) did his normal thank you's and sounded the bull horn. We were off, but not as fast as usual. In fact Marc was running very conservatively. When we reached the road I realized why, he didn't know which way to turn. I knew we had to take a right but I wasn't going to give it away until I was ready to take it and neither was anyone else behind Marc. This was our only competitive advantage against a 20 year old kid. When I finally hit the turn Marc followed along with another 20'something year old kid. Us old masters then started joking with Marc about where the next turn was. One guy yelled out "Westford Center" another said "onto the dirt rode named Hartford" another told him "Chelmsford" and lastly "Lowell" was yelled out. Marc wasn't buying any of our babbling. And the fact of the matter was there were signs from this point on. So Marc just stated taking control and pulling away.

At about 1 mile into the race Marc and the other kid had about 20 yard lead on me and Ken was on my heels. I also thought that I could hear the pitter patter of Jill's shoes. As we approached the 2 mile mark the kids were 100 yards out and pulling even further away. At this point we were passing some of the walkers (who leave 15 minutes ahead of the runner) and I commented out loud "Damn young KIDS"!! One of the walkers yelled back "hey that's what I just said". At this point Ken and Allen weren't to far behind me. We took a left hand turn on Robinson road so there was to be a good climb and this is where I was going to have to try and shake my stockers. As we hit the hill I pushed it as hard as I could and the boys started dropping off my tail. At the top of the hill we took a left on Hartford and I hoped that I could string out my lead even more. My legs were dead. I had nothing left after the hill. My only hope was that my stockers were dead too. We came down Hartford and turned into WA's parking lot for the final 300 yards. I peaked over my shoulder and Allen and Ken were only 30 yards back. I dug deep and tried to sprint but I had nothing left. I was hanging on for my life. I hit the hill up to the track and peaked over my shoulder again. My stockers had not made up any ground. I finished up 3rd over all and first in my age category.

My time was 20:49. Based on this and that my usual time was right around 23 minutes I figured the course was 3.33 miles. After my cool down with Jill I circled back and asked Paul the distance and he told me it was 3.23 miles. I was close but no cigar. I went home with out another t-shirt. My wife will be SOOOO UPSET.

After 6 of the 10 races I have a strong hold of first place in my age category. I now have finished: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 7th overall in the 6 races. I'm having lots of fun trying to find my speed again and having some good battles with friends. In fact I tallied up my times and Allen's times and found out that there is only 15 seconds separating us after all 6 races. And best of all we are both getting faster almost every week.

Monday, July 20, 2009

42nd Bill Luti 5-Miler

Saturday morning was a nice time for a race. It rained all night in NH and was overcast and in the low 70's race morning in Concord.

This race was the last race in the CARS (Capital Area Racing Series) so there was sure to be a lot of fast runners. There was money on the line!!

On the way over to the race I was driving down Rt 395 when I spotted a Bright yellow Xtera in my rear view mirror. The car had Kayak racks on top. Could it be Double J? I must beat him to the race I thought to myself. But when I turned off the highway the Xtera when another directions.

I arrived at my normal, very early time frame. I checked the Pre-entry board and Double-J was not pre-entered. I was first to get my number in the post entry tent and after receiving my number I remembered reading some where that this was a chip timed race and asked "Do I need a timing chip"? The volunteer had a blank look on her face so I asked another person at the Post-entry table. Their response is what I expected "OH SH$#, that's right". Soon there was activity all over the place getting the chips in order with the numbers. I secured mine and headed back to my car to get ready for the race.

After getting all my stuff together, who drives into the parking lot? Double-J. I head over to talk to him and notice that parked along side of him is Dan Verrington. The three of use were joined by Scott Clark on a nice easy warm up run. This gave me a chance to ask questions about the course. They were telling me that the first mile was flat to down hill but mile 2 was a long hill. Then after that it's just hang on to the finish. These 3 guys were all planing to run sub 27 minutes. I was planing to run sub 33 minutes. I guess I would only see them at the starting line.

As we lined up at the start I looked around. Holy cow was there a lot of fast people at this race. I was out of my league, but I was here at the race so I might as well give it a go. Bill Luti made a short speech and fired the starting gun. It was a very quick start with ZERO hesitation between the word "SET" and BANG!!! It surprised most of us.

The first mile was flat, but you could see from a good distance the hill we were going to be climbing in mile 2. It wasn't steep but long and daunting. I kept telling myself to keep my form (as poor as it is) and power my way up the hill. It was working. I was passing a lot of weekend warriors but I was still a ways back in the pack. The hill lasted about 4 minutes and once we crested we took a right into what I think was a park. The road was riddled with pot holes so I had to start focused with every step. We were now running on mostly flat terrain and I was trading places with a couple of people around me.

As I passed mile 4 I knew that I was toast and breaking 33 minutes was out of the question. I just tried to hold my position and head into the finish. I ended up finishing in 33:42 good for 64th place and 7th in my age category. This was my poorest showing of the year based on the % of runners who beat me and the % of runners in my age category who beat me.

After the race I hooked up with the same group I did the warm up with and we headed out for another 20+ minute run. JJ got third place and was trying to decide if he should run a 2nd race later in the evening. He did, and won it outright and was able to run a faster pace in the 2nd race. Way to go JJ!!

Now some good news. On Friday I bought a book called "Born to run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen". I'm only halfway through the book and I'm rethinking my running technique. One of the assertions of the book is that bare foot running is much more natural and that all these over engineered shoes we've been programmed to buy are the cause of many running injuries. They state that because we have all this cushioning on our heel our foot lands heel first instead of it's natural method of toe first. This causes us to throw our stride out further in front of us and not place our feet under our hips and drive from a power position.

So armed with this information and combining it with a speed workout I wanted to do I headed out of work early this morning to get to the track 2 miles away. Once at the track I ditched my shoes, socks and shirt. I steeped onto the infield of the track and began a workout that only lasted 4 minutes but was hell and child like delight at the same time. The workout was to run all out for 20 seconds then run easy for 10 seconds, then repeat this 8 times. I felt like a little kid running on the wet grass. My Achilles felt great, my hamstrings felt great. As I got further into the repeats, I felt tired but I didn't have any pain.

I'm now thinking of going out and finding the thinnest running shoes on the market and using them for training. But first, I want to see what my legs feel like tomorrow.

To further solidify the books assertion they talk about the coach of the Stanford cross country team whom has had his runner, running bare foot a couple times a week and has almost eliminated injury's. This team is sponsored by Nike so the folks at Nike when down to visit the coach to find out why they weren't using their shoes. The coach showed the Nike rep's the data and they took it back to corporate did their own testing, comfirmed the findings and started a 2 year development project on a new line of shoes. I believe the shoes has been released but I'm not certain what they are called.

I don't think I'll be running a race bare foot anytime soon but you never know.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Jeapordy Answer....First Loooooooser!!

Question: What is 2nd place?

Last night I ran the 5th races in the Westford Academy Summer Series. This was the first time where this race really felt like summer. It was 77 degrees and almost 100% humidity.

Every week features a new twist to the race to keep it interesting. This race had a "guess your time" sub race challenge. So I was feeling pretty good when I arrived and I set my predicted time at 23:00. My PR this year on the course is 22:53 so I thought that this was doable.

I did my warm up run and was feeling a little sluggish so I went back to the estimation list and changed my time to 23:30, which was right around where I've run a couple times this year.

I scanned the crowd and there were all the usual people, Allen Hall (who won last weeks race), Rick Porter who is in the 30 - 39 age category and has run really well but due to the lack of other people in this age category has only managed to score 1 point at each race. Allen and I started talking and noticed that there was one kid who was warming up and looked like the guy to beat. We'll see.

I'm currently leading the 50 - 59 group in scoring and this race was an important one to show up to. That is because it was the North Medford club (NMC) night at the race. NMC has tons of people in their 50's so there were going to be a lot of points on the line. Missing this race could possible drop me out of 1st place in the series.

Paul, the race director said a few words and welcomed the members of NMC. There was a big cheer. This was the largest number of runners this season. The funny thing is that way back in the 70's I was a NMC member. Fred Brown had recruited me into the club while I was still in high school. Fred was quite a character and really the founding father of road running in NE. My dad used to direct the Chelmsford Elks 7.(who really knows the distance) road race back then and Fred used to come over our house for meetings with my dad. He could surely put down a cold one or two in his day.

Anyway soon the horn was sounded and off we went. The kid that Allen and I picked out took the lead right away. The kid I forced into a puddle during week 1's race (John Edward) took 2nd and I fell into third. The kid in the lead just took off. John has been getting stronger every week so for the first mile I just let him go. I couldn't hear any foot steps behind me after a mile so I just focused on John's back as we started climbing the hills. Slowly but surely I hunted John down and going up the hills just past mile 2 I passed him. I surged when I passed him to try and break his sprite because John is only a teenager and with young legs if I let him hang on to my shoulder he was sure to out kick me. My surge did the trick and soon John was about 40 yard behind me.

At the mile 3 marker I was starting to loose my form and was shifting to survival mode. At this point in the course you're running on a dirt road that is covered with 3/4 inch stone. So the footing isn't that good and if your tired it really makes for a rough 1/2 a mile. As I turned off the road and into the school parking lot I took a peak over my shoulder and saw Allen and John ruining shoulder to shoulder about 40 yards back. With about 300 yards to go I figured I could push it in and be able to hold both of them off. Not like 2 weeks ago when Cathy Parker ran me down like a wounded animal and shat me out the back side and managed to put 7 seconds between us in the exact same circumstances. Cathy is turely a gifted runner and I will stand no chance of even running in the same zip code as her when she gets into good shape.

As I rounded the corner and up the little hill onto he track I could see the clock turn 22:50. Now I'm thinking, "maybe I have a chance to break 23 minutes". I started to push with everything I had but alas I crossed the line in 23:04. Good enough for 2nd place, AKA FIRST LOOSER!!

I was happy with my effort but I should have gone with my first instinct and kept the time of 23 minutes as my estimated time. Oh well I guess I don't get another t-shirt for my efforts. I can live with that!!!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Back from vacation...I need the rest

Vacations are a time to sit back and relax....NOT!! In my last report I was writing about 3 races in 5 days and racing myself into shape. Well I did do the 3 races and almost ran a 4th on day 6 but I did the smart thing (after my wife pointed out to me that I was limping).

On Thursday, July, 9th I ran the Westford Academy Summer Series #3 race. It was team night so I gave David Katz a call to see if he could come down. I also ambushed Allen Hall as he signed in and our team was set. As we lined up I took a look around and there were some high school runners along with Cathy and Dan Parker who both beat me the prior week. But I figured that the guy to beat today was David Katz.

The GO command was issued and two high school kids took the lead right away. David and I were running side by side for the first mile. As we passed the mile marker I noticed that we had started to reel in the two high school kids. I told David that the kids were slowing and he should go after them. He said "no way" and off he went. David made up the 50 or so yards in no time and took the lead. Soon, one of the kids drooped off and I was chasing him down. I could see David battling the other kid for most of the race and with 6/10's of a mile to go he dropped him for good. At the same point I dropped the other kid. I was now in third and with 3/1o's of a mile left to go I peaked over my shoulder to see Cathy Parker motoring towards me. Sure enough, within 100 yards she caught me and I had nothing left to respond. I did however post my fastest time of the year and broke 23 minutes and finished 4th over all.

David won the race and was ecstatic. It was his first W since high school. He has really worked hard over the past 6 months and deserved the win.

July 4th, Center Harbor NH was my next race. This is a very tough 5 miler where you run the first 4 miles UP and the last mile down. The temperature was hovering around 70 and it was spitting rain every now and then. Perfect racing weather I thought.

In a flash we were off and running up hill. The lead pack seemed to be pulling away right from the start. I wasn't going to bite because I knew the course and didn't want to blow out in the first 2 miles. I held steady for the first 3 miles and was in 10th place. At mile 4 two people passed me. I knew that I might have an advantage because of the pending vertical drop in the last mile so I didn't panic. I started to let my legs fly. Sure enough I passed both people and ran a 4:50 last mile. It's a good thing I passed one of those guys because he was also 50 and they only gave out prizes for the top 2 people in each age category. The top 50 year old had over a minute on me and ran a super race.

July 5th, I thought about running the Loon Mt race but I glad I didn't. Instead I went on a 10 mile trail run from lake Winni UP to Gunstock Ski Area and back. I enjoyed every step.

July 9th Westford Academy Summer Series #4. I shot home from vacation to cut the lawn and while I was kicking around I figured I'd keep my series lead growing by running this race. Posted at this race was the team results from the prior week. My team won handily. We won t-shirts!!

As I checked out the starting line I joked with Allen Hall that today was his race. Sure enough, Allen ran his fastest time of the season and won. I took 5th but still manged to win my age category. With 4 races down I leading the 50 - 59 age category with a score of 36 points and there are 2 guys tied for second with 23 points. I guess I have to keep showing up to win the series.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Racing yourself into shape

I've never been a big fan of track work outs. Primarily because I always seem to be running them alone. Yesterdays plan was to run a track workout at lunch. When lunch time came around, I looked at my gym bag and shook my head and then proceeded to grab my lunch and bag the workout. I knew I was doing the wrong thing so I made a new plan. I got on cool running and located a race so I could get my speed work in. The race I choose was the Goodtimes series in Lowell.

The race is a 5K that runs along the banks of the Merrimack river through the Lowell Mill Area. You'd never know you were in Lowell when running this race. I arrived at the race a little late for my likings but was able to quickly sign. They seem to have a theme for every race in this series. Tonight's theme was old t-shirt night. Seeing that I have 1000's of t-shirts I figured I was sure to secure one of the prizes. I have t-shirts dating back to the 70's, but there was one special shirt that I figured would win a prize. More on that latter.

The race had quite a few runners at it for a night time race. I think I heard them say there were 240 runners. We lined up right at 7 PM and were off within a few seconds of lining up. The start was fast. This is because you start on the road and within 200 yards you're on a path way that runs along the river. The start of this path also make you take a couple of hair pin turns so getting out quickly is mandatory.

The first mile went by quickly, for me at least, in a blazing 5:53. I knew I couldn't keep that going so I pulled back a little for mile 2 and ran a 6:22. Mile three I was joined by Keith O'Brien who is forever the cheerleader and encouraged me to tuck in behind him and we'd work together. We managed a 6:13 3rd mile and then I looked up and could see the finish line clock. The two of us pushed each other to the finish to get almost identical times of 19:18. The race officials gave me the edge but I think Keith could have kicked my back side if he really wanted to.

The results were quickly released and I ended up 13th over all and 1st in the 50 - 59 category. For my efforts I received a Shirt Frame. I guess it's for displaying your favorite shirts. Just what my wife wants!! Me hanging one of my shirts on the wall. I guess some people call it ART!!

After the awards, it was time to give out prizes for t-shirts. They had all kinds of categories and the shirt I choose won the category for oldest shirt for a race Dave Camire organized but they didn't give me the award for that because they decided the shirt fit a better category. That category would be Oddest Shirt.

The t-shirt I am wearing was called the "Shade Shirt" I received it back in the 1980's for a race called the "Grab Bag Race". The race was held at the Knicker Baucker Club in Lowell. The idea for the shirt was Dave Camire's. The shirt has this thing that looks like the brim of a baseball cap attached to the back and when the sun is out you flip it up to shade your neck. I don't know if it works or not because this was the first time in 25+ years of owning the shirt that I had put it on. Once again I won another shirt frame. My wife is really going to love me hanging shirts all over the walls of "Her house"...NOT!!

So, now I have done one race this week. The plan for the rest of the week is to race Thursday night in Westford and for the 4th race up in Center Harbor, NH in a 5 mile race. I've done this race a couple of times over the years. In fact, my fastest mile I ever ran was at this race. You see the course climbs for 4 miles then you fall down off the edge of a cliff for the last mile to the finish. So by Saturday I'll have done 3 races in 5 days. If that doesn't get me into race shape, nothing will.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Cherry Picking and doing my own version of a Tri

OK, so this is a term that I heard many years ago. It refers to the practice of sneaking off to a race that you think nobody has herd of on the same day when there is some big race going on. You do this with hopes that you can finish high up in the race or if luck is shining your way, you may even get the W!

So, on Saturday I snuck out to the Tilton-Northfield Dare 5K. As I drove to the race I noticed that the area seemed to be very flat, my kind of race these days. As always I was bright and early for the 8 AM start showing up at 6:30. I decided that I had plenty of time so I went out on a warm up run to view the course. I was in NH, and any flat area is always next to a very hilly area, and this flat area was no exception. As I ran UP the first mile I knew I was going to be in trouble. Then some how I lost the course and heading UP, UP, UP. At the 2 mile mark in the warm up run I figured I had missed a turn and headed back down the hill, and sure enough I was able to get back on the course. Now on the right road, I was climbing the other side of this hill. GREAT!! At least this time, at the 1.5 mile mark the course turned and headed back down. So this was going to be a slow first half and a much faster 2nd half, that is if I had anything left. I ended up with 4 miles in.

As I scanned the crowd I noticed some young hot shots who looked like they could fly. I started up a conversation with them and sure enough there was one who was shooting for a 16 and change. But he also pointed out 2 other guys who could run 15. There was some speed at this race. As we lined up I also noticed Scott Clark and Tim Cox, speed was the word of the day.

The "GO" command was given and we were off. Or should I say that about 50 people were off like lighting and I was playing catchup right away. Mile 1 when by slowly. It was my slowest first mile in a 5K ever at 6:27. Mile 2 was up the steepest part of the hill but, at 1.5 miles turned around and headed back down the hill in a bone jarring manor. I was passing people and gaining some confidence. Mile 3 flattened out and I was running on fumes. I finished in 20:10, my slowest 5K ever. I ended up 19th over all so I caught quite a few people. I just couldn't seem to get my turnover rate going.

I ended up 2nd in the 50 - 59 year old category, which I received a gift certificate to Applebee's. I decided I needed to do a cool down run and hooked up with Scott Clark and Tim Cox. With them, they had the winner of the 50 - 59 category, John Belvidere from Laconia. We chatted about what each other was doing and what injuries each of us was battling. We sounded like a bunch of old people at a nursing home. Come to think of it we aren't to far off. Total miles for cool down = 2 miles. Total miles run 9.

My story doesn't end there. I shot back to my place in Gilford and did a quick change of clothes into my biking stuff. I needed to bike the 40 miles from my place to Melvin Village Marina to pick up my boat. I always take the long way counter clock wise around the lake to avoid the heavy traffic in Laconia and Meredith. Of course the traffic in Wolfeboro was a bit heavy but that section is only about 300 yards long. It funny though, the wealthiest town on the lake, Wolfeboro has the poorest road conditions. I'm guessing they do that on purpose to slow down the cars so they stop to buy something.

Anyway my ride went without incident and soon I had secured the keys and threw my bike in the back of the boat and was cruising across the lake. It was beautiful out, 80 with no wind and clear sky's. What a great reward for all my efforts. I hooked the boat to it's mooring and now was the part of today's exercises that I liked least, the swim to shore. You might think that I liked this least because I'm a average to poor swimmer and you'd be right, but that was not the reason today. Today the water was cold. There hasn't been enough sun shine over the last couple of weeks to warm up the lake. I must have sat on the back of the boat with my feet in the lake for 10 minutes before I finally took the plunge. I'd like to say that I swam like a fish back to shore but in reality I swam more like a rock, and that wouldn't be fair to rocks. One of these days I really have to learn to swim properly. I bet it would make the 1/2 ironman I do every year much easier.

So I did a reverse Tri on Saturday, 9 mile run, 40 mile bike and 200 yard swim. I think the swim took the longest of the three.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Sometimes it's about who else shows up!

Last night I went back to the Westford Summer Series Race to see if I could keep my winning ways going in race #2 of the series. For the first time this year it was hot and muggy. I'm not good at running in this type of weather but then again, who is.

As the crowd started to show up I realized very quickly there was no way I was going to repeat last weeks performance. There were some fast guys showing up and even faster women. As I scanned the competition there was Marc Boutin a star on the Brandis Cross Country team. There was Dan Parker, US military triathlete extraordinaire. The women's side was even tougher, Cathy Parker, NCAA Division I All American. Kara Haas, fast as all get-out. And training partner for the marathon Jill Trotter. Of course Allen Hall was there and the guy I edged out last week, Ken Cain was also there. So the race would be fast and it could be a battle of the top women to take the over win. I had now lowered my expectation to top 10. I hate it when that happens!!!

It was also family night at the race where families would score points based on finishing position. The pre race favorites were the Parker's, who showed up with 5, and the Widmann's who also showed up with 5.

The "GO" command was given, and we were off. Marc and Kara took the lead with one other guy in toe. I hung back and started giving Marc some grief about dogging it and that I was going to tell his coach if he lost this race. Ken Cain when by me in the first 1/2 mile and seemed to be running with power. I just let him go. The guy who went out with Marc and Kara was soon shat out the back side. I hit the mile in 6:10, a little faster then last week and the extra effort combined with the heat was taking its toll on me.

Just before mile 2 Dan and Cathy Parker came up behind me. I let Cathy pass (as if there was anything I could do about it). But when Dan tried to pass me I swerved in front of him and raised my elbows. Dan tried to get around me on the other side and once again I swerved in front of him. On his third attempt, I let him get around. I've known Dan since he was a young kid running in Jr High School and he is a great kid. It was also nice to see a brother and sister running together and enjoying each others company while they kick the back side of their competitors. OH, I forgot to mention that Cathy had ran from her parents house, some 5 miles away as a warm up. Anyway the pair just trotted away from me up the hill.

Next came Allen Hall. As he passed me he gave me some words of encouragement and told me to tuck in behind him. I was spent. I was hanging on for dear life. The last mile of the race I could see that Dan and Cathy had caught Ken and Allen was also in the hunt. I snuck a peek over my shoulder on the turn off the roads into the parking lot and saw Jill making a charge at me. We still had a 1/4 mile left to go and I was out of gas. This was going to be close. I pushed with what I had left and could hear her foot steps getting closer as we approached the track. I could also hear people cheering her on.

To get up on the track you have to run up this little rise that always seems to take any momentum I have away. I managed to carry a little speed onto the track and just nipped Jill. I'm certain that she will get me sooner or later.

So in the end I finished 7th. Kara ended up winning the race. Good for her she works so hard. In the over all series I'm leading the over 50 crew and hope to continue that through out the summer. So I may not have won the race but an acidotic RACING teammate did.

I do have some overall goals for this series:

1. Win the 50 - 59 age category
2. Break 23 minutes.
3. Long shot goal, win another race
4. Super long shot goal, beat David Katz in at least one race.

Monday, June 22, 2009


Photo by Scott Mason

I want all my friends to go out to their garage and get a 2 x 4 and write my name on it. If I ever sign up for the Mt Washington road race again I want you ALL to use it on me. I don't want the 2 x 4's used to knock some sense into me, I want you to use them to knock me out completely. I've had tough days running before and I'm sure I'll have more in the future but the pain and suffering that goes on during this race is truly unmatched.

If you've been reading my blog, you'd know that I had a plan to run 1:29 which would have been right in line with my last 2 half marathons. My plan also had me staying in my own bed, in Gilford, NH which is only 1:40 away from the start. I had also pre-arranged my ride down the mountain. I pre-purchased all my food for breakfast. I had my sleek acidotic RACING gear all laid out. I was READY.

The morning of the race, everything went like clock work. David Katz had stayed with me over night and we planned to leave my place at 6 AM to head for the mountain. At 5:58 we were out the door. With one quick bio break we arrived at the mountain at 7:45 and secured a parking spot close to the tent and porta-potties. This spot turned into a super location because almost everyone had to go by us to get to the tent. One of the first people we encountered was Everett McBride who was running his 28th consecutive. Then there was Bill Morse who was also on his 28th. These guy's are NUTS!!

At 8:30 we hooked up with our ride down the mountain, a lady by the name of Mim Nelson. I had contacted her through the Mt Washington web forum. She was the best ride ever. She took our bags and once we reached the top had everything waiting for us. Best of all she was a safe driver.

Next was a quick warm up run. David and I did an easy 1 mile run down rt 16. Of course David needed another bio break at the turn around point. David must have emptied his blatter 6 times before the start of the race. I was in trouble. Always bet on a race horse that relieves himself before the start of a race. Me on the other hand was in some pain, my back was once again killing me. Why does this happen to me at this race?

With 15 minutes to go before the start we headed over to the start line. I ran into Double-J and we compare times of who arrived at the race first. I'm proud to say that I beat him again. This is getting too easy. Come on Jim give me a challenge.

David and I lined up 4 or 5 rows from the start. As we lined up I kept telling myself to take it easy and don't get caught up in the start. Bob, the race director made the final announcements and warned us that we would be running in a cloud for most of the race but the top was clear and the good news was "there was only one hill"!!

The cannon was fired and we were off. Holy SHAT that cannon is loud and the concussion hits you like a brick wall. Anyway we started down the small hill to the flats of the race. I looked down at my watch and it told me I was running 6:30 per mile. This race was way to easy. David was right at my side. Then it happened, the road turned, not left, not right, but UPPPP!!! Within 100 yards on the hill my heart rate was already up to 180. I was red lining and I wasn't even a half mile into the race. By the 3/4 mile mark I was reduced to a pile of jello and was forced to walk to regroup. This was going to be a long day. At the mile marker I could see David already had 100 yards on me and was running strong. Mile 2 brought more of the same. I kept battling the mountain mile after mile but I just couldn't keep the running going. At mile 2 the legendary Steve Peterson passed me, and David was now out of sight.

Mile 3, David Lapierre passed me. I tried to strike up a conversation with him but he was way down deep inside himself and wasn't uttering a word. At the halfway point I was at 45:02. Slower then I wanted to be but a 1:30 was still possible. However I was suffering. Walking was now painful. I was not alone. It seemed that everyone around me was doing the exact same thing I was, run a little, walk a little, run a little, walk a lot. Back and forth a we battled all the way up the mountain. At mile 6 I could hear a guy coming up behind me who made more groaning noises then anyone I've ever heard. It was a relief when he finally passed me. At this point we had just poked through the clouds and it was absolutely beautiful out. We were up above the clouds and the view was spectacular. At least that's what they tell me. All I could see was my feet on the ground as my head hung down while I continued my slow tutelage up the mountain.

Mile 7 passed by and I could see the top of the mountain. Time to push it to the top. I gathered all the strength I had left and gave it one more push. Going up the wall I passed 4 or 5 people and just before I finished I saw David on the left side of the finish area with a huge smile on his face, screaming for me to finish strong. Well I finished but I don't think it was strong. I was totally spent. I hurt all over. The nice thing was that it was absolutely spectacular on top. It had to be 60 degrees with no wind and 100% sun shine. David quickly ran over to me and uttered the 5 words he has been dieing to use on me "WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG". He earned the right to use those words. David had ripped off a 1:23!!! This was his first attempt at running up the mountain. However he had biked up it twice, with a PR of 1:21. I bet he has one of the fastest combined times ever.

Mim ran over to us and got us to our bags. We quickly changed and relaxed. What a day, we were on top of the world at a location that claims the worst weather on earth and it was warm and sunny. What more could you ask for?

Soon Mim's third runner showed up, Eric Johnson and he was happy with his effort. By 2:30 we were heading back down the mountain and would be one of the first cars back in the field. I had done some planing for this and brought a cooler which had cup holders built into it and 2 deck chairs. We both secured our meals and enjoyed them while relaxing behind my Xtera.

My splits:

Mile Time Heart Rate
1 9:18 169
2 11:55 174
3 13:39 169
4 13:17 168
5 14:44 168
6 14:22 165
7 13:59 165
7.6 12:44 167

Official time was 1:38:00, my watch clocked me in at 1:37:57. Either way I finished.

Remember get those 2 x 4's ready.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Sometimes it's all about showing up!

Last night I decided that I needed one more tune up run before Saturday's run up the rock pile. I decide to run race #1 in the Westford Summer Series. This race is a series of 10 races over the summer (dah) with each person scoring points in their age category. So the race is not about wining the entire race but beating the people in your age category and showing up to as many races as possible. The race distance is weird at 3.6 miles. The race gets anywhere from 40 to 200 people on a weekly basis.

So last night my plan was to go and run 30 seconds per mile slower then I usually run a 5K race, that way I'd get a decent workout without killing my legs for Saturday. A small crowd showed up because of the rain. I took a look at the field and saw Allen Hall who has kicked my back side many times over the years. I figured he'd be the one to beat. Also there was some teenagers, and 2, 30'something guys who looked like they could motor.

The "GO" command was issued and I was running stride for stride with Allen. Behind us was some of the teenagers and both of the 30 year old's. Allen and I were joking around a bit because neither of us really wanted to race. After about 1/2 a mile I started jawing at one of the teenagers to get up front and take the lead. He responded that he was fine tucked in behind me to my left. OK then, I saw a large puddle just up a head, so I yelled back to the kid, "if you're not going to take the lead then you're going to get good and WET". So instead of giving way to the puddle, I slowed a little bit so the kid was trapped and would have to run straight through it. He managed to avoid it by making a sharp turn to go around it onto the grass but ended up falling on the wet grass. He popped up quickly and yelled "what did you do that for"? One of the 30 year old's yelled back, "you just got played by an old guy"!! I also chimed in with "us old guys have quiet a few tricks up our sleeves". Soon the kid was shat out the back side of the pack.

There were four of us together when we hit the mile in 6:13. Which was still 17 seconds faster then I wanted to be so I slowed it down a bit. No sense in blowing my Mt Washington race for this one. One of the 30 year old's came around me and took the lead. Allen and the other 30 year old started to drop back. I just let this guy get a 20 yard lead and stalked him for the next 2.4 miles. I hung right behind him and never took the lead UNTIL, I could tell that he was tiring. His breathing was labored and his form was starting to break down. With 2/10's of a mile left to go I went around him and quickly put 30 yards on him. He was broke, I took a quick look over my shoulder and his head was looking down and his form was now ugly. I cruised onto the track and took the W, in just under 6:30 per mile. Right where I wanted to be.

For my efforts I received a pat on the back from the race director and a "that a boy" from some of the people milling around.

This series is a lot of fun. You just never know who's going to show up. But you do know that there will always be someone there to race against.

The race series benefits the Westford Academy Cross Country team which my daughter belongs to. The race Director is Paul Poisson who is the coach and a great guy.

Come on down some Thursday night for moderately challenging run and meet a few new people and catch up with some old friends.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Rock Pile Awaits

Why am I doing this? My first attempt up the Mtn was back in 1990. The weekend prior to the race I pulled a groin muscle and was unable to take long strides. I can remember being at the bottom with my wife and 3 month old son wondering what I was going to do. That morning I got some advise from Jim Concannon of the GLRR to just stay under control and when I got to a point where I could see the top with about 400 meters to go, hold back just a bit until I hit the WALL and then give it all I had. Little did Jim know that armed with this knowledge I would go on to pass him on the WALL and beat him by 3 seconds. Just 4 seconds in front of me was Mike Beeman, and just after he finished he started panicking because for some reason he was unable to see. I along with DD grabbed him and helped him out. I also remember it being very warm at the bottom and once we got under the trees the green house effect set in and it got even warmer. But by the time we reached the top I was COLD!!! All I could think of was that I wanted to get off this mtn and I would never do this race again. I road down the mtn in the back of a pickup truck with 5+ others including Tom Carrol (aka Crazy).

At the bottom, my wife had spread out a blanket and set up a picnic for the 3 of us. Petey stopped by and proceeded to play with my 3 month old son for 30+ minutes. After he left my turns to me and says; "Who the H3!! was that, is he safe to have around kids". I assured my wife that Petey was one of the nicest people she'll ever meet and is a little kid in his own right.

At the bottom I realized that this was not a race but a survival test and I would NEVER do something this STUPID to my body again!!!

1999, 9 years later a group of friends convinced me to go back for a "Men's Weekend". We decided to have a little competition amongst us. Two on Two, based on combined time. Loosing team buys the food for our cook out later that night. It was Keith Spinney and Ken Rousseau VS. Joe Karner and myself. We knew this would be close, Keith was a strong runner in his day and once ran a 2:33 at Boston. His team mate Ken could hold is own. My team mate Joe was in super shape and I was hoping that he could give Keith a run for his money. I on the other hand was a slug and was hoping that I'd hang in to edge out Ken by just enough to nullify any advantage that Keith got on Joe.

During the race I remember thinking "what am I doing here"? You'd think that I was smart enough to stay away from this race. I remember hitting the top and quickly getting changed and ran down the mtn in 52 minutes. I beat all the cars down and was the first person on the massage tables. My quads hurt for days because of the run down.

Our plan worked out perfect, Joe kept on Keith's tail the entire race and I was lucky to edge out Ken. Those steaks on the grill sure tasted great that night. Thanks Keith and Ken!!

2007, 8 years later. What was I thinking? 1 week before the race I hurt my back on a 50 mile bike ride and was in so much pain that I was crawling on all 4's until Wednesday. My crawl was so poor that my youngest child got down along side of me and said "Daddy, you don't know how to crawl, watch me and I'll teach you". Kids are to funny! Later that afternoon I decided to go see a doctor. The doctor check me over and determined that I had strained a muscle in my lower back. He suggested that I lay down for a week or two and take mass quantities of Advil. So I asked him if it was OK to run Mt. Washington in 3 days. He shook his head and said; "Oh NO, you're a runner"? I proudly replied "YES". He then stated "You're not going to lay down and rest are you"? "NO" I replied. He just shook his head and walked away.

Friday night Joe Karner and I headed up to Jackson to pick up our numbers. We went over the carriage house to listen to DD give a talk about the race. I was sitting on the floor and in tears because DD was so boring...Just kidding, My back was killing me. Joe and I headed over to our hotel and all we needed to do was cross rt 16 to get some dinner. Sounds simple but I think it took me 30 minutes to complete this 50 yard walk. I was still in some serious pain. The next morning I filled my body with Advil to try and loosen up. I was laying next to my car at the base of the mtn wonder not only how I was going to run up this massive pile of rock, but how I was going to roll over so I could stand up. If you've ever injured your back you'd understand what I'm talking about. If not, you are lucky and don't know pain.

As I took the long walk over to the starting line I was bent over and hoping for a miracle. As I reached the starting line I quickly realize that I need to move further back in the pack then I usually do. In fact I went all the way to the back. After the cannon was fired, I was the last person to cross the starting line. How was I going to make it up this thing? Every step added pressure to my already fragile back.

Once we left the flats and started the climb I started to get some momentum. Because my back was already bent it kinda helped me and because everyone was running so slow I was passing people. At about the mile marker I caught Joe. He looked over at me in amazement. "What the @%@% are you doing" he shouted. I thought for a split second and realized that I was doing something very stupid and almost stopped dead in my tracks. I just couldn't keep the pace going. I backed it down and then proceeded to do a run a little, walk a little routine until I reach the WALL. I finally gathered the energy to try and finish strong. I kicked it into what felt like HYPERSPACE and passed several people on the WALL. When I crossed the finish line I was in more pain then I ever experienced in my life. Once again I swore I'd never do this race again.

They took a photo of me at the finish line (the one at the start of this blog). It was so funny that a bunch of friends, purchased it and had it placed on the front of a Wheaties box. It was presented to me at our annual holiday dinner as the "First Annual PHAT Award". PHAT stands for Pain...Heavy At Times. Which is my nick name. Every year these guys give it out to the person in the group (ROAG, a story for another day) who puts themself through the most pain to complete a race. I'm sorry to say I've won this award 2 years in a row.

My times are listed below along with my prediction for this year.

Year Place Time Pace Age
1990 74 1:20:40 10:37 31
1999 195 1:32:47 12:13 40
2007 326 1:50:26 14:32 48

2009 100 1:29:00 50 Predicted!!

Let's all have some fun Saturday!!