Thursday, April 16, 2015

April 16 (Thursday)

April 16 (Thursday) - 6 miles easy at lunch.  Another 6 miles easy after work and raking for an hour.  Then more raking and yard work...The past couple days have been great and I've cleaned up most of the yard.  Good to have Tabby out there keeping me company and 'helping'.  12 miles really easy on the day.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

April 15 (Wednesday)

April 15 (Wednesday) - 5 miles at lunch nice and easy.  Then later after work, decided on a short track workout, which was essentially a compromise.  Originally I wanted to do 6 x mile this week but decided to do the double last weekend.  So with 2 races over the weekend I really didn't want to do a workout on the usual Tuesday as I wasn't really fully recovered.  And with a possible race again on Friday (still up in the air on that one), I didn't want to do too much on Wednesday and only have Thursday in between.  I was tempted to just do a normal run this afternoon but compromised on just 3 x 1 mile to get in some work but not overdo it.   Did 2 mile warmup on the God awful rec trail behind the high school (a lot of the trails this time of year are completely useless and borderline counter productive) and almost fell twice because of the mud and ice.    Then just jumped onto the track and into 3.5 miles as 3 x mile at 5:02 / 5:03 / 5:00 with 400 in between in 1:44/1:45.  I wanted around 5:05 so this wasn't bad but the wind was ridiculous.  I had a hard time gauging the times because I was getting blown around bigtime.  2.5 miles cooldown on the roads.  8 miles total and 13 total miles on the day.  Some stomach issues on the cooldown and on the way home... I'll live.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

April 14 (Tuesday)

Hurricane Point - Silver Lake, NH
April 14 (Tuesday) - 8 miles of easy trails.  Didn't want to travel far so stayed in town and just explored some of the sights of the southeast part of Madison.   Snow, mud, ice, etc.  Not ideal. Trails definitely are not ready for primetime but still not a bad easy day.  Took one major digger in shockingly VERY deep snow on the shore of Cooks Pond.  Head first.  Other than that, I basically wanted to scope out the newly proposed Jackman Ridge trail in Madison.  It rises up out of Goodwin Town Forest and peaks out at the top (914 feet according to my elevation app on my phone).  I ran on what I thought was the trail and then lost it and bushwhacked (I HATE that) up to where I finally found blue flagging and boot prints from the person who laid out the plans for the trail.  There was absolutely no trail work done so it was basically more bushwhacking except this time, following flags.  I got to the top and found a very clear area with a cairn marking the summit.  I turned and tried to follow it back down but lost the flags multiple times and had to keep stopping.  I then had to choose between multiple routes of blue flags after a certain point.  Finally made my way down to Lead Mine again and crossed over and ran some of the conservation trails over to Hurricane Point on Silver Lake.  Made a quick trip out to the point and then back over some more conservation trails back to Lead Mine and then back through the Goodwin Forest trails a bit more to make 8 miles even.  Not really productive but a rest day nonetheless... and got a couple of decent views in.

Moose Poop Galore

Moose Poop Galore

Cooks Pond

E.E. Cummings was here...

Chocorua looming...

Almost ready for a swim...

Silver Lake, NH - Whiteface, Passaconaway, and Chocorua

This is what I had to contend with on half the run... not really worth it just yet...

Monday, April 13, 2015

April 13 (Monday)

April 13 (Monday) - 10 miles of dirt roads at Chocorua Lake.  Met Leslie down there after work.  Darin was sick (again) at the last minute and couldn't get out for the run (or he was just dodging me to train in secret)...  Chocorua Lake Rd. to Loring Rd. to Philbrook Neighborhood Rd. to Fowler's Mill Rd. out to 113A and then turned back.  Nice day out.  First run in t-shirt and shorts this year.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

April 12 (Sunday) - Reds 5 Miler

April 12 (Sunday) - I was back at it again on Sunday down in Dover, NH.  Should I get a weekend place down on the seacoast?  We're thinkin' about it....   This time, the scene of the crime was the second half of the 'Dover Double'.   Red's Shoe Barn 5 Miler (results) also now known as "Reds Race for a Better Community"...  I've done this race 4 times now (3 wins and a 2nd place).  After doing yesterday's race, I wasn't sure how I'd feel for this one...

The entire family (Tabby, Kristin, Me, and little Morgan in the carriage)... Tabby not looking too happy.
The weather shaped up to be great for running and I made the trip down with the whole Johnson clan for the first time.  Kristin and both of the girls joined me.  It was really a great time and great to have them there.  Also making the quick trip down was my parents who got to see me race again this year for the first time.  With everyone in attendance, the pressure was a little more than usual.  It was the first time my girls have been to a race.  I was feeling pretty sore from Saturday's 5k.  My calves were a bit tight and sore and my back was a little tight.  I headed out for an out and back 3 + miles on the Red's course and was joined right near the end by Sam Wood.  Aside from Sam and some Six03 guys (including Matt Garfield who was 3rd at SMA on Saturday) I didn't really recognize anyone else I saw... That is until I got back to the starting line right before the race and saw Jason Dedonato standing there.  Jason is  a fellow UML guy (but about 10 years after I was there)...  I figured I was looking at trying to get 2nd place at that point.

As the race went off, I moved into my plan right away of trying to hit 5:10-5:15 (as long as my legs would hold up).  Jason was right off my shoulder.  I moved up the road and hooked the first left onto Court St. and just tried to relax.  There's climbing gently for the first mile almost the entire way.  I hit the mile in 5:09.  Right about where I wanted.  I felt really good and I had put a very small gap on Jason but not a lot.

Photo by Kristin

Photo by Kristin

Photo by Daniel Aaron Sprague
The second mile is pretty quick and has some slight drop and flat with only one small bump.  I was 5:05 (10:14 through 2 miles) and felt pretty strong still.  Very controlled and void of any leg issues from the previous day.  I knew that the middle part of the course was pretty challenging and tried to just keep up the intensity and move away from Jason.  I was glad Jason was there as it kept me honest about the run.  I was running nervous and pushed up through the third mile, which has got some stead slight uphill.

Photo by Daniel Aaron Sprague

I was 5:15 for my 3rd mile and moving well into the start of the 4th mile and starting to put more of a gap on Jason.  The 4th mile starts pretty fast but ends with a god awful hill up through 4 and the beginning of mile 5.  I felt gassed as I made my way up the last hill and split 4 miles in just under 21 minutes 20:47 or so).  I should have known then that sub 26 was a real possibility.  Even though the last mile starts with the last bit of the uphill, it finishes with a crazy drop and you lose basically everything you gained in the first few miles.  I admittedly mailed it in about 3/4 the way down the hill and just was running to try to hold off the win.  I sort of miscalculated how close it was going to be... I remember hammering this downhill back in 2011 when I ran 25:25 (4:55 for that split that year).  This year my last mile was 5:04.  So not quite as aggressive.

I bottomed out at the base of the hill (passing Kristin and Tabby standing on the side of the road) and pushed towards the finish with a seemingly half-hearted effort in the last 200 meters or so.  I thought I would be way passed 26:00 and wasn't really aware of how close it was until I was within sight of the clock.  26:02 for a final time but more importantly, a nice win in front of my whole family and the back-to-back old school double complete.

Photo by Kristin

Top 10 Overall (Plus CMS in Blue):

126:025:13Jim Johnson      37East Madison NH
227:075:26Jason Dedonato   28Newmarket NH   
329:075:50Matt Garfield    27Wells ME       
429:165:52Denise Sandahl   34Bow NH         
529:475:58Phil Erwin       47Wading River NY
630:016:01Randy MacNeill   53Epping NH      
730:146:03Isaac St Martin  35Manchester NH  
830:336:07Ryan Clark       26Barrington NH  
930:586:12Tom Doherty      30Dover NH       
1031:196:16Mike Barry       58Northwood NH   
1131:406:20Sam Wood         28Laconia NH     

560 Total Finishers.

Fosters Article:

My History at Reds:

2015 - 1st - 26:03
2011 - 1st - 25:25
2010 - 1st - 25:56
2009 - 2nd - 27:16

Also, they announced 'Mr Dunham' as having the course record according to my Dad.  He told me the announcer called him 'Mr Dunham'.  It is obvious he didn't know Dave.  Mr. Dunham is Dave's father. ;)...

I cooled down a couple miles on the Children's Museum course with Sam Wood. Sam was basically there because his company was involved with the race and was just running it for a workout and support the race.  Good to see him though and talk about the upcoming summer racing season.

My Dad filmed the start, finish, and awards (top 2 men):

The Start:

The Finish:

The Awards:

Some additional family shots...

Post race...

Post race cool shot by Daniel Aaron Sprague

Tabby Rose (Photo by Kristin)

Tabby Rose and her daddy... (Photo by Kristin)

After the race, we all went back up to East Wakefield for the day.  I helped my dad shovel, rake, move some rocks, and cut up and move the big tree that was still blocking their yard.  We all had a nice lunch and left around dinner time.  Great weekend and great day of racing and family time.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

April 11 (Saturday) - SMA 5k

April 11 (Saturday) - On Saturday I headed down to Dover, NH for the first race in the planned weekend double.  I ended up landing at the SMA 5k (results) for the first stop.  I was originally planning on going down to Portsmouth for the Out of Hibernation 5k but decided at the last minute to give the The 'Dover Double' (as it's called) a try.  After talking to Nate Huppe, I found out the race had some prize money and it was slightly closer than Portsmouth.  Also, I know that the Portsmouth race is notoriously short, so I figured the Dover race would make more sense.  I enjoyed the Out of Hibernation race when I ran it back in 2010 or so, but I made the decision to try out the newer race (new to me anyways).

I warmed up over the course with the Huppster and he showed me the ins and outs of the neighborhoods.  The first mile has got some up and down but very slight.  There is a long ever so slight uphill for most of the first half (the same stretch as the start of the Reds course but longer) and then some nice flat sections for a while.  The second mile has got some flat and up sections with maybe the longest hill but still not anything like last weekend.  The third mile has got some twist and turns and the steepest up hill and down hill section of the course right near the end.  There is also a bike path/rail trail section at about 2.75 or so.  I did notice that the starting line and finishing line were exactly the same.  That caused me some concern right away as I was curious as to how they could map out exactly a 5k (or whatever they need to be officially certified 3.17 or so) course to start and finish at the exact same timing mat.  I figured it may be a tad long if anything. I also heard they moved the course start / finish (or one or the other) over a street from last I'm not sure if that had any bearing...

The race went off and I bolted out to the front.  Took the first immediate right turn and dropped down a nice slight downhill to the police station and then hooked a right and then another right back on to Central St.  Then it was a long slightly uphill push for a half mile or so.  It was also into the wind but no where near as bad as Paddy's was.  I had Nate and another guy (Greg Englehart) close behind.  I kept tabs on my watch, closely monitoring my pace.  Despite the wind and slight uphill nature of that stretch, I was under 5 min pace and holding.   I finally dropped over another couple of left/right turns and went through the mile in 4:56.  I had gapped Nate and Greg looked to be falling back a bit by then.

Photos by Melissa Garfield... Myself w/ Nate and Greg in tow...

The second mile was the windiest.  We had a headwind seemingly the entire time.  It seemed to get worse as I was climbing the hill but again it wasn't anywhere near as bad as a few weeks ago.  My pace dropped and I knew I was possibly in slight trouble time-wise.  I finally turned onto the street with the 2 mile mark and went through right around 10:10. I knew I was going to break 16.  I was positive.  I felt good now that I was free from the wind and the rest of the course was twisty and slightly rolling (with the one last hill at the end) but I figured that even if I ran about the same as I just did, I could break it. I was even thinking 15:4X-15:50.  I was well clear of the field and started working the turnover.

I hit the bike path after another couple sharp turns and another section of wind but not bad.  I dumped out the other side and took a quick right again and glanced at the watch. I was hovering right over 5 minute pace.  I knew I'd finally get the monkey off my back.  Well...not really....because I dropped down, then started the last sharp climb up to mile 3.  I worked the hill, took the left and dropped down. I went through 3 miles with a 5:03 split. I was pumped that I was able to run that with the last mile the way it was laid out (7 turns in the last mile, a bike path, and a short steep hill).  The last mile does have a net drop so it kind of evened out.  I was smiling, knowing I was going under 16...well...not so fast.  From 3 mile mark to the finish took me 59 seconds!  I was mortified (and not because I was running a Millenium race ;) )....get it?  'Morti-fied'... anyways, I was really disappointed.  I rolled through the finish in 16:07. I was positive I was going to break 16 and couldn't believe it.  It kind of only came to me after I hit three and saw how much further I had to go.  It was really deflating.

I won, so I couldn't be too upset in the grand scheme.  It's only April still...and I know the times will come.   The effort was there...and I was 15:41 through exactly 3.1 on my watch so I know the effort was there.  I got a cool $125 cash for the effort and was about 43 seconds up on Nate who ran to a strong 2nd.  3rd place was a photo finish for Matt Garfield to round out the prize money winners.

I cooled down with Nate again on part of the Red's course, then collected the cash winfall and headed out.   729 strong showed up for the race, which was pretty amazing.  It feels real good getting out to these races again.  I feel like a real runner old times.  Maybe it's just because I'm old though....

Top 10 Overall:

Pl Name Age City St Gun Time Time
Johnson, Jim 37 MADISON NH 16:07.9 16:07.9 
Huppe, Nathan 35 DOVER NH 16:50.0 16:50.0 
Englehart, Greg 23 NEWBURYPORT MA 17:18.9 17:18.1 
Garfield, Matt 27 WELLS ME 17:18.7 17:18.7 
Lepir, Jasmin 39 DOVER NH 18:02.4 17:59.9 
Dorazio, Kaitlyn 24 YORK ME 18:09.7 18:09.7 
Borish, Tom 38 DOVER NH 18:28.9 18:28.9 
Leach, Jason 28 DURHAM NH 19:17.5 19:13.4 
Leno, Michael 16 ROCHESTER NH 19:29.2 19:27.5 
10 Hopper, Tom 36 LEE NH 19:54.9 19:50.1 

729 Total Finishers.

Fosters writeup.

Me with The Huppster - Mary Ulinski photos...

Myself and Nate with the legendary Andy Schachat - Mary Ulinski photos...

Top 3 Overall - (L-R) - Matt Garfield, The Huppster, JJ

Friday, April 10, 2015

April 10 (Friday)

April 10 (Friday) - 6 miles easy at lunch (solo).  Impending double this weekend (race-wise) so I don't want to over do it...

Thursday, April 9, 2015

April 9 (Thursday)

April 9 (Thursday) - 10 miles easy in the snowstorm with Darin Brown after work. Dirt roads that were really 3-4 inches of snow, unplowed, and pretty much useless for any sort of real running.  But good to get out anyways and get an easy effort in.  Out and back from Chocorua Lake.

Side note...I got this nice 15 year award in the mail today.  To go along with my five year and my ten year (same awards)... It's hard to believe I've been with the company now for 15 years (over that was 15 years in November).  Crazy.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

April 8 (Wednesday)

April 8 (Wednesday) - No lunch run as I had some work to do so I just got out once after work and before the snow started flying.  Initially intended to go a bit longer, but ended up calling it at 14 miles.  Slow, hilly loop through Madison, Eidelweiss, Conway, and Eaton.  Planned on just running easy and recovering from yesterday's uptempo run.  Everything was working to plan until I got halfway up Glines Hill (about 10.5 miles in) and the road was not plowed.  Big mistake. I was committed and continued to just posthole up the steepest part of the worst hill in the area.  It got progressively worse as I went along.  There was nowhere to go but up and right in the middle of the road where someone had previously postholed.  It made it tolerable for a bit (but still almost walking) until the top of the hill and then the snow got a lot deeper. I was up to my knees for another quarter mile or more down to the first house on the Madison side (or should I say the last house on the Madison side).  Finally I was able to actually 'run' again after dropping a 13 minute mile.  Cut it short when I got up and over to Pound Rd and just dropped back down to my house.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

April 7 (Tuesday)

April 7 (Tuesday) - 5 miles at lunch.  10 miles after work.  Ad hoc up-tempo after the first few miles.  15 miles total.

Monday, April 6, 2015

April 6 (Monday)

April 6 (Monday) - 10 miles easy with Darin Brown after work in an April snowstorm.  It wasn't quite as much snow flying as yesterday, but it was enough to make it interesting.

This was yesterday morning (Easter) in East Madison...forgot to post it before:

Sunday, April 5, 2015

April 5 (Sunday)

April 5 (Sunday) - 18 miles in the afternoon.  10 miles relatively easy (solo) on the roads of hilly East Madison and then swung into the Brown's to pick up Darin and Nick....  Then 8 miles with Nick Brown (and a couple in the middle with Darin until we lost him).  Was planning on going a little longer but there was a mix up w/ Darin breaking off the back and then Nick and I doubling back the wrong way to look for the time I swung by my house again, I was disinterested in the last couple miles and called it at 18.

It took a few tries, but we 'almost' got a good family Easter photo where we were all looking at the camera.  We took maybe half a dozen and in all of them, Morgan is looking at me instead of at the camera.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

April 4 (Saturday) - Todd's Trot

April 4 (Saturday) - Headed down to Todd's Trot 5k (results) in Durham, NH.  Darin Brown picked me up and we shot down to a race I've wanted to do for some years now.  I'm glad I crossed it off the list.  I enjoy running some new races now and then.  He had to pick up his son at UNH anyways, so we killed two birds with one stone by hitting up the race this morning.

I had about 4 miles of warmup including running the course (with Darin and Nate Huppe) plus some strides and other warming up before the race.

I hit splits of 5:10 / 5:02 / 5:11.  The last mile was tough with a decent hill before a nice downhill and flat section to the finish.  The course is pretty slow though. I was talking w/ some others yesterday who've run it before and they mentioned unanimously that it teeters on 20-25 seconds on the slower side.  It's got some twists and turns plus some decent little ups here and there.  Maybe about one hill per mile that just add a few seconds here and there.   I was pretty surprised at how slow the first mile was.  I was certain I'd at least hit 4:50s but it was deceivingly slow.  I was getting blown out by 1.5 and felt I was going pretty damn hard.   The dude who won was there from West Point with the entire West Point Marathon Team (that Todd was a member of).  It was cool to have one of them win.  He was pretty legit and led from the gun.  He's a 2:25 marathoner who's running Boston in a couple weeks.  I was in second for a brief bit but ended up running in third almost the entire way.  The wind wasn't a factor thank God.  I had a big group of the West Point guys right behind me the entire race.  I was thinking I wouldn't even be top 5 or 6 but was able to hold them off.

I came through in a surprising 16:01 which I have got to think is worth a bit faster on a flatter course for sure.  Justin Fyffe's 15:09 from 2009 is amazing.  I got $50 for my efforts.  That's 2 cashes in 3 weeks... not bad.

Another 2 miles easy with Nate and Darin and made it back right before the awards.  Then Darin and I headed over to UNH to pick up Alex and were home by 12:30 or so.  Good day overall...good speed work...good race experience....and good to get another race under my belt this year.  I would have definitely had a better chance running mid 15 at SEA 5k or even Rochester maybe, but I was glad I went to Todd's and finally got a chance to check out that race.  It's not a PR course and I may opt out in the future now that I know it's not a spot to bang out a quick 5k (especially in April) but it's a great event and I was proud to support Todd's family and the memorial scholarship fund.

Friday, April 3, 2015

April 3 (Friday)

April 3 (Friday) - 5 miles very easy up around the hilly neighborhood loop.  

Thursday, April 2, 2015

April 2 (Thursday)

April 2 (Thursday) - Worked from Wakefield today.  Was down there very early this morning to help my dad and brother dig out my parents house, help turn the heat and water back on, and chop up the huge pine that fell right next to the house.  I worked on chipping away ice and snow for a couple hours.  Then later I took a chainsaw to the tree for a while and stacked a ton of wood and branches out of the way.  Still a ton of snow in the yard too.  I was really tired and sore but still got out later on in the day for 11 miles down around the Moore's Pond neighborhood and back.  Absolutely beautiful day and it was really quiet out there today for some reason.  Not a lot of people out on the roads and it was just really still and noticeably quieter than normal.  Calm before the storm.   Good to see my dad again.  Haven't seen either of my parents since December.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

April 1 (Wednesday)

April 1 (Wednesday) - 5 miles at lunch on the roads from my house down to 41 and back.   Then another 10 miles later on after work.  The first 6.5 with Darin Brown from his house.  Did the Pound Rd. hilly loop and then I added on another 3.5 solo out and back on Lead Mine Rd.  I ran until the road turned to ice/snow where they stopped plowing and then turned around.  15 miles total.

Today I hit the 1000 mile mark for the year (and then some).  I am pretty close to my goal pace for the year...I still got a lot of work to do but the year is now 1/4 over and it was probably the toughest quarter to run through for sure but I came out relatively unscathed.  10 races in the books as well.  That puts me ahead of last year's pace for total races...but I will be picking up the pace even more as the season progresses.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

March 31 (Tuesday)

March 31 (Tuesday) - 5 miles easy at lunch, solo.  From my house down to 41 and out a ways and then back.  Beautiful day out.  Feeling better and slowly starting to not be so sore from head to toe.   Then later (a couple hours), 10 miles easy with Downtown Darin Brown from my house, down to Silver Lake and along 41 then back.  Nice and 'flat'.  Easy does it. 15 miles total on the day.  Picked up my car afterwards.  A grand worth of damage but it's fixed.

Another nice couple shots I got from ES20 on Sunday by Virgil from M51photo.  Coming over the bridge in Kittery, ME and into Portsmouth, NH.

Monday, March 30, 2015

March 30 (Monday)

March 30 (Monday) - Very easy 5 miles from the Albany Service Station back to my house.  Had to drop my car off to get fixed.  Barely made it back from ES20 on Sunday before it basically broke down.  Major work to be done... Nice recovery day from yesterday's effort.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

March 29 (Sunday) - Eastern States 20 Miler

Summer is coming (slowly) to Hampton Beach...

March 29 (Sunday) - Now that my blood has just about stopped boiling over the times being botched at first in the initial results posting on Coolrunning (they first had me and everyone else, about 1:18 slow in the post race results but then added even more time to my time in the revised results that were initially posted, rather than take off the erroneous time from the first results)... As of posting this, they are still trying to fix results, times, places, missing runners, etc. because of a mistake with the clocks at the finish line between the two races....I can calmly refrain from a rant though and get on with my writeup as they indicated they were fixing it and it's obvious that they have been getting hammered by a lot of runners noticing the timing issues.  They responded very quickly to my email this morning and promptly adjusted the time.  It's unfortunate that that small hiccup kind of overshadowed the otherwise beautiful day of running on one of the most scenic courses around.  I have always loved this race and consider it a staple of the early year New England road running scene (at least on my calendar).

Despite my foot pain yesterday, I decided to make it a 'morning of' decision to run the Eastern States 20 Miler (20.2 miles) (results) today.  I woke up at 4am, started testing out the foot and everything seemed fine.  I was up for about an hour before I felt that twinge again right before I was leaving the house after figuring that everything would maybe be ok.   I almost decided not to go but it was really tough to try to convince myself to miss another race.  I'm getting tired of that quite frankly.  I figured maybe if I got there early and worked on my legs a bit, I could salvage something.  So I hit the road anyways, and made my way down to Hampton Beach to get the bus back up to the start in Kittery, ME.

Because this was the 20th Anniversary of the race and Race Directory Don Allison advertised free entry to all former winners.  I really wanted to take advantage of that and join the race for the 20th running.  It wasn't costing me anything and Don's been really good to me over the years and I really wanted to go and be a part of the race.  So I got there nice and early and hit the first bus up to Kittery.  I was there just ahead of 3 hours before the race.  Enough time to stretch, massage, stick, etc.  My legs have still been sore.  Hamstrings, calves, achilles, etc.  You name it, basically it's been bothering me.  But the foot pain is the worst.  It is absolutely linked to tight everything-else.  I just need to keep working on the stretching...

Once I finally went out for a warmup, I noticed only about 1.5 miles into the 2 miles around the school and starting area, that my foot was super sore.  I stepped around a corner where the sidewalk meets the road and got the shooting pain in my foot.  I hobbled for a second and immediately went from very nervous to terrified.  I figured that that was it.  No way I was making the race.  I immediately thought about having to DNS and having to get a ride back to Hampton without even starting the race.  What a nightmare.  I went into the school and tried to figure it all out but all I could do was stand there.  It was going to be nearly impossible or so I thought, to run 20 miles let alone race 20 miles on this foot and with my hamstring, etc.  I wanted to race but I didn't want to have to drop out again (I dropped out in 2013 at 11 miles).  Dropping out of this race is tough logistically.

I walked over to the start, gingerly, and stood there pondering my next move.  I did a couple of strides (or lame attempts at it) and didn't feel the issue, so I wasn't sure what it would take to tweak it. I was hoping maybe I could run possibly a decent amount towards the finish, maybe walk/jog, and just finish.  I planned on taking it very easy from the gun and just running tempo effort for the first bit to test it out. If anyone was running 5:30s, I'd let them go.  My goal became just finishing the race or getting as far as I could.  20 miles seemed like a LONG way to go with a sharp, unpredictable foot pain.    To add insult to literally an injury, Don announced to the runners that the course was 'slightly longer than 20 miles this year'.  A couple of small changes just made the course measure out to slightly longer.  Not so great news to me.

The race went off a minute or two past 11 and immediately 2 GBTC runners shot out to the lead.  It was a little on the slow side, but I still let them go.  I was thinking 6 minute pace....6 minute pace.  I was running behind Jason Bui and 2 others for a little bit as we made our way out of Kittery and across the bridge into Portsmouth.  I kept looking at my watch and seeing 6:00/6:01 tick back and forth for pace.  I kept it right there.  Nice and easy and it felt great.  But my foot was the big question mark.  Every single step I took I was subconsciously preparing myself for the worst.  It sucked.  I ticked over the bridge in 6:01 on my watch...right on pace and right in a very comfortable cadence for my fitness.  I ran through Market Square in 5th place or so and by the time we made our way up to mile 2, I moved ahead just a little bit into 3rd.  The two GBTC runners were a bit ahead already and spreading out from one another.  I kept it easy, controlled, and focused on my foot.  Each step, wondering whether or not I was going to be bouncing up in the air and then falling off to the side of the road in pain.

Mile 2 came and went. 5:54 and feeling like I was running on the roads of Silver Lake.  It should feel like this running that pace.  I usually go out way too hard in races like this and it felt very strange just backing off and letting things play out.  I figured 6 minute pace give or take, would put me in probably the top 4 or 5 if I just kept it as even as I could.  This course allows you to almost run dead even splits if you have no bad spots of wind along the water.  I've known this for years and know you can almost click off splits at will if you are patient enough (which I never am).  I did't want to let it go and just kept my foot on the brake, constantly looking at my watch and backing off during each mile when the pace got too quick.  I kept my mind on the goal of getting closer to the finish and not worrying at all about what was happening up ahead or even behind me for that matter.

Photo by Melissa Garfield
Miles 3 and 4 started to get a little quicker and I was eventually moving into the neighborhood of 5:46s for some reason. That's eventually where I'd end up just settling into for a very comfortable run.  I was catching the 2nd place GBTC runner ever so slightly with each mile.  The leader and the lead police car was in sight but way up the road.  Typically you can see the lead vehicle almost the entire way if you are only a couple minutes back.  There are long stretches of road in this race, which sometimes can have a positive or negative affect on you mentally.  Just after mile 5, the course went around this turn and up and over a slight hill which made you lose sight of the lead vehicle.  For some reason the 2nd place runner thought that the course turned sharp left there and went up into a park along the ocean.  I yelled to him as I passed.  I was sure the course went straight but right before the gun, Don did mention that the race was slightly longer than 20 miles.  I wondered for a few moments as I ran ahead, if he was right in going left.  He put his hands up as he was running as if to say 'where the hell are we going?'.  I yelled again that I think we keep going straight and I kept going straight.  He just continued to run up the road in the opposite direction.  It was very strange because after a few miles, the rest of the race is almost all on the same main road.  As I went up and over the crest, I saw the leader up ahead.  I also realized that the way the 2nd place guy went up, had no outlet back onto the course so he was going to have a lot of ground to make up on me to catch back up as he would have to turn around and retrace his steps.  For me, there was never any sense of urgency.  I just kept thinking about keeping it near or under 6, nice and controlled.  At that pace, probably the only one who would catch me would be him.  But I was gaining on him from mile 2 so I wasn't so sure anyone was going to catch me IF my foot held together.

Photo by Melissa Garfield
Miles 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, etc. all had similar feel. I was slowly losing ground on the leader but barely.  I could see him the entire time because of the nature of the course, but I wasn't gaining on him.  I was locked into a state of holding back, pacing very controlled, and hitting 5:40s with very very little noticeable energy expenditure.  My cardio was rock solid.  But my foot was definitely holding me back.  It hadn't hurt at all, but each step I was expecting it to. I kept trying to forget about it after 6 or 7 miles and just thought about getting to halfway.  I was clicking through similar miles and really feeling like I put myself into good shape this winter despite the aches and pains.

I got to mile 10 in around 57:45 and felt pretty good. I started to feel slight issues in my hips and hamstring/calves but nothing I wouldn't expect after 10 miles given how things have been going.  I knew that the last time I had toed the line at this race I dropped between mile 10 and 11.  That was on my mind as I hit the 11 mile mark and recognized the lonely stretch of highway with the ocean on one side and the marsh on the other.  I pushed forward and hit a corner near 12 miles where Don was parked and the lead vehicle was sitting there waiting for the next few people.  He told me as I passed that the leader had about 90 seconds on me.  I knew that was probably the race unless he had serious issues.  He was at that point very slowly pulling away with each mile and I could tell.   I just focused at that point on keeping my 2nd place and more importantly keeping the pace going the same. It was really working for me and felt great.   There was the nice small climb up through the nice neighborhood near mile 13 and I got through that without any issues.  When I dropped back down onto the main route again and started mile 14, I started to feel like my legs were slightly now noticing the effort.  I was still completely fine cardio-wise but my legs were slowly tightening up.

Somewhere in the next couple miles, I hit Hampton and really started to fee like I was actually possibly going to make it.  My foot was completely a non-issue up to this point.  I was starting to weave through all the half-marathon people now (they start 7 miles closer to the finish and at the same time).  Typically around mile 13 for the 20 miler is where you start to catch the stragglers of the half marathon if you are running just under 2 hour tempo for the 20 miler.  It's actually a small little boost at times, as you get to pass people and they sometimes give you motivation.  Despite slowly feeling like I had been racing for 15 or so miles, I was still clicking off 5:4Xs.  It's amazing what pacing yourself does!  It is so much more enjoyable when you run even splits and feel in control and strong late in the race.

Miles 16, 17, 18 take you right along the boardwalk in Hampton Beach.  Somewhere in that stretch I started to get very mixed signals about where the leader was.  I had a group of girls running the half, tell me that I could 'catch him..he was right up ahead'.  Of course now with all the traffic and runners on the side of the road, it was hard to tell.  But I thought it sounded a little off.  Then I had a runner tell me as I passed, that he was only '20 seconds' up.  Of course I can see 20 seconds and there was no leader anywhere in sight.  Another person told me '1 or 2 minutes'.  That of course is a pretty big window.  I thought maybe he was rigging up and if so, I'd have a very late strike on my hands.  But I again had no intention of diverting from my plan and just kept the 5:4X streak going.  It was working for me quite well and I knew as I passed mile 17, that my car was right there in the Casino parking lot.  I would be able to bail if I needed to. I had made it.  But I looked up ahead now and set my sights on getting a surprise podium spot.  I was beginning to realize that I was going to run in the 1:55/1:56 range which with the exception of 2011, would put me right where I've always been at this race.  Pretty incredible really.

Mile 18 was a tad slow as I was starting to feel a bit tight in my hips.  I was weaving all through seas of half marathon people and was really starting to feel like I was going to do it.  It also has a very tight turn around the rotary and then an up and over of the bridge into Seabrook, NH.  That definitely slowed the mile down. I actually pushed on that mile and into the second to last mile.  There's some slight uphill over the course of that stretch and my miles 18 and 19 were slow just due to the course. I had picked up the intensity to try to salvage a decent time.  I was able to drop down the pace to an even 5:40 on the 20th mile and that came and went with the state line sign still off in the distance.  I still had 2 tenths of a mile to go!  I was 1:55:22 at 20 miles on my watch (57:37 for the second 10 miles).  I knew I'd be in the 1:56s at the end because of the longer course, but I was thrilled.  That put me 2nd fastest for the 20 split (give or take) that I had run here.  In the end, I came up through the finish in 1:56:32 and a big 2nd place with absolutely no foot issue during the race.  Being under 2:00:00 for that type of effort felt amazing.  20.2 miles.

I saw the leader right away, and went over to congratulate him on his race.  It was Adrian Macdonald who was 2nd last year in an amazing 1:49:45 behind Andy Huebner.  He lightheartedly told me that there was a significant tail wind last year almost the whole way.  I wish I had that luxury this year.  I cooled down with him for 10 minutes (1.3 miles) and chatted a bit about his marathon training.  He's running VCM.  He should do very well there.  He seemed like a really nice kid and ended up really putting some time into me over the last few miles, running a 1:53:23.

Total miles on the day, 23.5 miles.


Mile 01 - 6:01
Mile 02 - 5:54
Mile 03 - 5:51
Mile 04 - 5:45
Mile 05 - 5:43
Mile 06 - 5:42
Mile 07 - 5:36
Mile 08 - 5:42
Mile 09 - 5:46
Mile 10 - 5:41
Mile 11 - 5:46
Mile 12 - 5:46
Mile 13 - 5:46
Mile 14 - 5:40
Mile 15 - 5:43
Mile 16 - 5:46
Mile 17 - 5:43
Mile 18 - 5:48
Mile 19 - 5:50
Mile 20 - 5:40
Last 0.20 - 1:13

First 10 miles: 57:45
Second 10 miles: 57:37 (yes negative split...this is what happens when you just run even and relaxed)

Strava data:

 Overall I am super happy about the run.  It's unofficially my 2nd fastest run there factoring in the 20.2 mile distance.  It was 1 second slower (overall time) than I ran in 2009 though.  That stings a bit.

My history at this race (so far):

2015 - 2nd - 1:56:32 / 5:50 pace (based on 20) (5:46 pace based on 20.2 actual distance)
2013 - DNF at 11 miles
2011 - 2nd - 1:51:35 / 5:35 pace
2010 - 1st - 1:57:33 / 5:53 pace
2009 - 6th - 1:56:31 / 5:50 pace
2008 - 6th - 1:57:39 / 5:53 pace

After the race, I boarded the bus to go back to the Ashworth Hotel at Hampton Beach.  While on the bus, my damn foot started acting up again.  It was really strange.  Just sitting there it started again.  Thank God it was dormant during the entire race.  Not sure why, but I'll take it.

I got back to hotel, got something to eat, and stayed there for the awards.   There was some timing mixup with the times for the 20 miler as they ended up printing the results based on the clock for the half marathon rather than the 20 miler.  The two clocks were off by over a minute to a minute and a half.  So the races didn't start at exactly the same time.  I knew this when I came across the line.  They had me run over in the wrong side of the chutes through the half marathon side.  They were directing everyone over there.  I yelled that I was in the 20 miler, but they kept telling me to stay to the left side, which was wrong.  I looked over at the other clock on the right side, and it was matching my watch.  But they had me go through the half side.  Needless to say, they were wrong and of course, the times were all incorrect (and there are still people missing in the results as of my typing this).  So as they were calling off the awards and times, everyone was short-changed by almost 90 seconds or so.  I brought it to the attention of Jim Garcia who promptly made some phone calls and did some investigative work to begin to correct the problem with the timing company.  That battle still continues.

Then it was off and back up north for a couple hours as I barely made it back to my house before my car broke down.  Off to the shop this week to figure out how many thousands of dollars it is going to cost me this time.  Oh yeah, then, while making macaroni & cheese for myself and Tabby Rose, I bit into a hard pasta elbow and broke a huge piece of my molar off.  What a day.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

March 28 (Saturday)

March 28 (Saturday) - Headed over to the Mill late morning to run on the mill but the place was mobbed.  People had just gotten on each treadmill and there were already people waiting. I immediately signed out and left.  Headed back home and just did an out and back to Darin's (5 miles) on the roads.   It was snowing pretty good and my foot was killing me. I woke up to a foot issue out of nowhere.  It's been bothering me all day. It's reminiscent of the foot pain that I had in the World 50k Championships in the Netherlands 4 years ago.   Not sure what brought it on, but it's really sharp shooting pain on the outside of the foot and is especially bad when I wiggle my toes.

On the plus side, we got an ad hoc family photo with the Easter Bunny down in Portsmouth today.  Tabby was too upset being by herself so we all had to get in the photo to calm her down.