Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Running on empty

This morning I headed out with 3 friends to do 6 miles. Sounds easy right? Well it was, at least for 3 of the people in the run. I was the odd man out.

Since I had Achilles tendinitis therapy starting in late August last year and was out of running for 3+ months I've managed to gain a few pounds. Not that I'm super over weight and could be used as the "before" picture in one of those weight loss infomercials but I've added 10% to my frame, and it wasn't muscle. When it started happening I wasn't to worried because I always seem to gain 10 pounds over the holidays. I've just learned to accept it and it's the bodies way of getting ready for the colder weather. Every year I go into my marathon training having to first drop the extra weight while building endurance. So if you think about it, by carrying the extra weight, I give my body a better workout because it has to move more mass. If you're one of those super techno people I'm guessing it has to do with E=MC^2. For me it gets me stronger and faster as I drop the weight. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Anyway, my usual plan just isn't working for me these days. I'm having trouble dropping the weight and my friends are dropping me on every run. I don't mind getting dropped because I figure that at some point I'll get mad enough at myself to lose the weight and get in shape.

This morning I showed up a little early to do a quick warm up run so I would be loose when we started as a group. When I arrived one of the other guys was already out doing a warm up, GREAT...ARG!! So I headed out and 1/2 mile in I see 2 head lamps bouncing towards me. Now I'll have two guys who are already warmed up. This is not going to be my day. I hooked up with them and we headed back. I was hoping for an easy warm up run but this turned into a slight hammer fest. I was in real trouble, I had only run 1 mile and I was already sucking wind. Once we arrived at the meeting location we hooked up with the last person in our group and we were off.

As we started I was feeling pretty good and was running smoothly up the hill. But once we crested the hill the pace picked up and soon I was shate out the back side of the group. We had only done 1 mile and I wasn't able to keep up. I tried surging a couple of times and would catch the group but would once again fall behind. At the 2 mile mark the boys were out of site, so I decided to alter my route to run straight up into Westford center. If you don't know Westford center, all roads lead UP to the center. Slowly but surely I made my way up the hill. As I was about half way up I started thinking about a race that they used to have up this hill. It was always held in May just before the Apple Blossom parade. The race started at the High school and finished in the center. For some reason they always seemed to change where the exact finish line was. Some times it was at the community center, or the common or at one of the churches, so comparing your times from year to year was not really possible. What you did know was that it was going to be a race of about 1.9 miles and all up hill. I remember one year as I was leading the race I passed the home of a man I worked with at about the half way point. I remember he was out in his yard raking leaves and he just stood and stared at me like I was crazy for running up that hill. Back in those days I felt like I was floating when I was running. The following Monday back at work this gentlemen came up to me and said "Gee you really take that running stuff seriously, don't you"? As I'm standing there listening to this and holding my gym bag I just smiled and started chuckling and walked away. What does this have to do with "Running on empty", well this morning I was not floating up that hill I was barely getting my feet off the ground and needed to stop half way up to regroup.

I've slowed down quite a bit over the years but I'm not going to stop without a good fight. I hope to look back at this post in April and laugh. I'm hoping I laugh sooner, the sooner the better!!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Curly's record run - 4 mile snowshoe race

Curly's Race Profile....This is going to HURT

When it really comes down to it, racing is all about numbers.  Today I tallied a whole bunch of numbers.  I traveled out to Pittsfield, MA for Curly's record run.  Below is a run down of just some of the numbers.

300 Miles driven to and from the race.
5 AM  Time I woke up 
6 AM  Time I left for the race
5 hours travel time.
86 racers
1 BIG hill
1 Curly
4 Daughters
4 miles running through trails
700 foot climb in less then 1 mile
800 foot decent in less then 1 mile
A whole lot of pain

So my plan was to travel out to Pittsfield, MA to run this race.  After doing some research I realized that my travel time was going to eat most of the day.  Oh well the things we do for a new experience.  My plan was to leave at 6 AM and show up by 8:30.  The plan worked, well almost perfectly.  When I started out this morning I punched in Pittsfield into my GPS.  All was going perfectly until I reached Pittsfield.  I could see the Pittsfield state forest on the map but the GPS
 didn't show any roads.  So I had to watch the GPS and take turns based on where I though the race started from.  I only have good news, my plan worked.

Once I located the start area I jumped out of the car and VERY QUICKLY realized it was cold, extremely cold.  I ran over to the sign in table and met Curly.  Curly has no hair.  He explained that he has 4 daughters so he pulled it all out.  I only have 2 daughters but I fully understood. 

It was time to warm up so I threw on my Yaktrax and headed up the mountain.  After only 3 minutes I was sucking wind.  This course was going to be tough.  I soon turned around and headed back down to find a porta potty.  Guess what? They had thousands of them.  They call them trees.   After my meeting with Mother Nature it was time to get ready to race.  It was cold but sunny so I ended up with my usual base layer with a Hot Chillies top and ROAG biking vest.  Top it all off with a Dion fleece hat and a pair of sun glasses and I was good to go.  Hold on one more thing.  After talking with a bunch of people I decided to put on a longer set of cleats on my snowshoes, because I was told that the back side of the mountain was steep so you needed to be able to dig in to slow you down.  

The two peaks in the back ground are the mountains we ran up.

Anyway the start time was nearing and I was ready.  I was getting nervous because I kept hearing how tough the climb was and how dangerous the back side was.  The good news it's the same for everyone. 

After a 5 minute delay we were ready to start.  One of Curly's daughters gave us final instructions and Curly blew the starting whistle.  We were off, and we were climbing right away.  Everyone quickly sorted them selves out and we were running on single track.  Passing was not an option without the person in front of you letting you go by.  After 12 minutes my heart was ripping out of my chest and all of a sudden I tripped and was down on the ground but was able to pop up quickly.  I was tracking behind Bob Dion of the famous Dion Snowshoe's, and all of a sudden he stops and lets me pass.  Of course I passed but I was ready to walk.  1 minute later I was reduced to a crawl.  At the 18 minute mark Bob is now telling me about one year where there was waist deep snow and it took him over an hour to reach the top.  One thing I remember Double-D saying to me at the start was that the leaders should hit the top within 20 minutes.  That meant I was still a long way off.  I was dieing a slow and painful death.  When we finally reached the top Bob went by me and was starting to fly down the mountain.  I was trying my best to keep up but with all the switch backs I wasn't able to take the corners in control.  At about half way down it happened.   I went crashing to the ground and started to tumble.  After what seemed to be an eternity I popped back up to my feet and was back on the trail.  Bob was now out of sight and another guy was on my tail.  When we reached the bottom of the mountain we had 1 mile to go and the guy on my tail decided to make his move and pass me.  I just let him go to see if I could regroup and make one final push and pass him back with 200 yards left.  As we went over the roller coaster terain the guy fell but was up again quickly.  However I knew I owned him, he was tired and I was just waiting for a good point to pass.  With about 1/4 mile left to go I made my move and passed him and never looked back.  I tried to finish with a smile because they had a camera at the line, but all I could manage was a grimace.  

I walked around a little bit but was in no mode to do a cool down run.  After a couple of minutes I as back to normal and got my place and time.   I was 19th overall and ran a 41:32 for 11:11 per mile.  I ended up 4th in the 50 - 59 age category.  

Next weekend Cobble Mountain in Gilford

Monday, January 19, 2009

Beaver Brook 5K Snowshoe race

Forecast for today Pain....Heavy At Times.

So after I published my Pooh Hill snowshoe race report last week ROAG decided that a group of us would head up to Hollis, NH for Beaver Brook.  This patch of woods is not unknown to ROAG, as the ROAG crew has snowshoed through here a couple of times.  But there is a big difference between a hike in the woods on snowshoes and a race through the woods on snowshoes.

I decided to arrive at the race site 1.5 hours before the race.  This was to view the course and get a good workout in.  When I arrived the race director had just finished running the course and set the course record at just over 28 minutes.  This would not hold up.  And he announced that the course was just over 2.8 miles.  Seeing that I ran over 10 minute miles last week I wanted to improve on that pace.  So I put on some Yaktrax on my shoes and took a tour of the course.  A quick side note, if you've never tried Yaktrax, give them a shot.  They are super for running on ice and snow.  Anyway I headed out on the course and the first 1/2 mile is all down hill.  This I quickly took note of because it was an out and back course, and I would be climbing this hill on the way back.  After that the course was flat and fast to the turn around point, which I hit at 10:45.  On the way back I hit the final hill and boy oh boy it was a lot tougher then I thought.  I finished the run at 21:30, a perfect even split.  Now could I run faster with snowshoes on?  In addition I learned that the real start of the races was 100+ yards away across an untracked field.  So the start should get the heart rate up very FAST.  As I walked back to my car Rob Smith was getting out of his car and was heading out for a warm up run.  Rob was looking fit and had a big smile on his face.

Time to warm up and get into my race outfit in my car.   Base layer, hot Chillies shirt and a ROAG vest.  Some Hammer Gel down the throat with some G2 Gatorade and my favorite IBP 600mg.  Topped off by my fleece hat and a pair of Oakley's.   I was ready.  ROAG was there in force


I hope I didn't miss anyone.

All had their game face on and were ready to fly.  Time for a team picture.  We were looking GOOD!

There were around 50 people signed up and 10 of use were ROAG.  Great showing.

The race director called us to the line.  The group is in good spirits and ready to fly.  I line up next to Rob and introduce him to David and explain the connection with David and Joe Karner to Rob.  Time to get serious.  I take my place and get ready to go.  The race director counts down and says GO!!  We're off, well that is most of the people are off.  I took 2 steps and tripped and crashed to the ground.  I hear someone yell "Hey Scotty's down".  As I scramble to get up I yell "And He's UP AGAIN"!!!  I'm now running in catch up mode.  I quickly pass a bunch of people but as we turn the corner onto the trail I'm running in approx 20th place.  I notice that Mike O when out fast.  How fast you ask, He's leading the race.  HE'S PSYCHO!!    I start making my move and I'm passing people at a stead pace.  One after another I catch them and shat them out the back side.  Now I'm running side by side with Rob and the leaders are 20 yards ahead of us.
 As we make our way through the trails, we're pulling away from the main pack.  I'm running smooth but I know that Rob is a much stronger runner then me.  We reach the turn around point and Rob has pulled 10 yards ahead of me and he's chasing down the leader.  I'm now running in 5th, but I notice that Kara is only 10 yards behind me.  I'm in trouble.  Kara is fast and has been running really strong over the last couple of months.  I decide to try to surge to try and break her but she's now right on my tail.  At the 3/4 mark Kara makes her move on me and I can't respond.  Now I'm hearing another guy behind me.  One thing about snowshoe races is they make a lot of noise so there is no sneaking up on people.  I'm climbing the final hill now and hanging on for dear life.  My lungs are screaming and my legs are not responding.  HANG ON BABY!!!   I can see the finish, please don't make this a sprint to the finish.  I power up the final hill and hold on for 6th place.

My lungs are burning.   I learn that Rob won the race.  Rob was very modest about the win and so was Kara.  Both are great people.  I then went back to the finish line and ROAG starts coming in.  First David, then Mike, Peter, Warren, after that I just can't remember.  David had this nice string of drool hanging off his chin.  Everyone was hurting and couldn't believe what happens out there in snowshoes but all were happy they did the race.
Coolrunning.com should have the results later today.

After a few minutes I went out on a cool down run with Rob, Kara and one other guy.  Come to find out the other guy was raised in my home town of Chelmsford.  We ran the course one more time.  So I ended up running it 3 times.  Once in Yaktrax and twice in snowshoes.  As soon as we finished the cool down run the race director gave out the awards.  Winners of the race and winners of age categories got beaver mugs.  Unfortunately the age category I fell into was the 40 - 55 group, so no beaver mug for me.  Next was the prize raffle.  They called every number around mine but no #143.  I think Brian, Norm and Warren walked away with prizes.   NICE!!

I will boldly declare A Good Time Was Had By All.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Pooh Hill 8.5K Snowshoe Scramble

Pooh Hill 8.5K Snowshoe Scramble



What can I say….I ran like a guy carrying a piano and a rock.  This race was the first of the year for me and gave me a good indication that I have a long way to go to get into shape for Boston.  The race was held at the Kingpine ski area in East Madison, NH.  The ski area looks like a great family location, small and no crowds at all.   Where is East Madison you ask, it’s just a few miles north east of Lake Ossipee.  Or 2.5 hour ride from Westford.


The day started out like many race days for me, I was up at 4:30 and put together my racing gear.  It was cold out so I decided to bring just about everything.  Better to have it and not need it then to need it and not have it.  One problem I ran into was I was unable to locate my racing flats.  So I settled with an old pair, 15 years old, oh well they worked good before on the roads they might have something left in them for the snow.  Out the door at 5 AM and I punched in East Madison into my GPS.   Time to settle in for a long lonely ride.  I’m happy to report that the ride was uneventful and my GPS did not fail me.   Upon arriving at the race location Chris Dunn (the race director) had just finished emptying his car and was heading back to his motel to get his family.  Chris asked me if I’d watch the race prizes while he was gone, and I obliged.  In short order Chris was back.  Once they were set up I signed up for the race, then I headed out to help park some cars for Chris.  It was cold, some said it was -1 degrees out but because of the clear skies the sun helped out a lot.  With 30 minutes left before the start it was time to get ready.  What to wear?  It was cold, but snowshoe racing heats you up very fast.  I went with a base layer for top and bottom and then added a fleece top, with a pair of light gloves and a pair of light mittens and to top it all off a pair of ear muffs.   I went out to the course and got my shoes on and did a little warm up jog and almost immediately my big toes were not happy.  In fact I could not feel them.  Time to gut it out and hope that they would warm up during the race.  At the starting line there was a person dressed up as a white tiger.  Please don’t let me loose to at cartoon character!!!  Chris went over the race directions with the crowd and announced that the race would start in 10 minutes.  I was starting to get cold but after another quick jog I was feeling much better, except for my big toes.


Chris announced 30 seconds, 10, 9, 8,…1, GO!!   I was off.  The guy who won the race really took off, this was his race and nobody was going to even challenge him.  I was running in 6th place and feeling pretty good for the first kilometer.  Then it happened, I started feeling a little rumbly in my tumbly.  At 1.2K mother nature was calling me and I had to answer.  I jumped off the course and took care of business all the while a parade of runners made their way past me.  When I finally rejoined the race I figured that I had lost about 30 spots, and this was going to be a throw away race.  However, I wanted to get a good workout in and knew that I needed to take my time in catching people.  Slowly but surely I began catching people.  Heck I may finish this thing in the money!  Then it happened….Pooh Hill.   Just after the 4K marked we headed UP, and UP, UP, UP.   I was reduced to my usual “snot bubble blowing, pile of poopy”.   I had to walk, but then again everyone in front of me was also walking.  Every now and then I would try and run but it was not to be.  The hill was beating me badly, and some of the people I had passed earlier were now passing me.  Including the founding father of the DUNGEON ROCK RACING Team, Bill Morse.  Bill is a very strong hill runner and my only hope was that I could catch him when we hit the flats.
When we finally reached the top of Pooh hill the course turned from a trail run into a bush whacking down hill hold on for dear life event.  This means you can finally run BUT watch out for them TREES!!!  Once we popped back out on the cross country ski trails I was able to recover from oxygen debt and begin my assault on runners in front of me.  Slowly but surely I was passing people.  As I passed Bill, he hollered out to me that here is where I should be able to beat him.  I knew better and was always looking over my shoulder for Bill.   As I passed the 8K mark I was in a battle.   The guy in front of me was much younger then I and I knew if this thing was going to end in a sprint to the finish I was dead meat.  As I passed the guy (James Porter), he started to give up.   I yelled at him “Don’t QUIT”.  And sure enough he pulled right back along side of me.  DAM!!   This was not a good sign.  We pushed each other and in the end it was no contest.  His young legs (34) just danced away from me.   This had to be my poorest showing at snowshoe racing ever.  I ended up 19th overall and 2nd in my age category.  The good news was that I wasn’t beating by anyone older then me, the bad news was I was beating by 4, yes count them, 4 fast women.  This was a first for me, but those women beat me fair and square, they earned it.  After finishing the race I went back into the ski lodge and took off my racing shoes and my big toes on both feat were white, and neither of them had any feeling.  After a few minutes the feelings came back and soon they were throbbing with pain.  20 minutes after I finished the results were being posted, and I learned the bad news.  I guess I need to start training or this will be a reoccurring theme for my racing.   
19   58:43 10:53   54 Scott Graham           acidotic RACING            50 M    48 Westford MA    
This race was very well managed, there was food and drink after the race, and they had prizes for everyone.  How could you go wrong?        
Next up is the Beaver  Brook Scramble in Hollis, NH on the 17th.