Friday, July 11, 2014

July 11 (Friday)

July 11 (Friday) - should have gone VERY easy or taken a zero (because of the pending Pemi Loop on Saturday) but I decided to head out for a loop with Zac in Madison from the train station.  He pinged me late in the day for a run and I jumped at the chance to have company again...not really thinking of the damage I could do to myself with the young buck on a road/trail loop the day before the Pemi.  We hit up the Chain of Ponds trails from the train station and were running sub 7s in the sandy trails heading north up to Boulder Rd.  Then from there, it was up E. Madison Rd. and back down to the train station.  9.5 miles.  Normally I would have made it an even 10 (as Zac did by adding on after), but with the Pemi tomorrow, I decided to stop immediately when I got back to the car.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

July 10 (Thursday)

July 10 (Thursday) - 8.8 miles with Kevin Tilton from the Conway/Madison end of Rockhouse Mountain Rd.  Did a nice dirt/paved road loop into Madison and out into Conway and back.  A nice (serious) climb on the way back to the car that I'd never seen before.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

July 9 (Wednesday)

July 9 (Wednesday) - 8.4 miles w/ Kevin Tilton.  From behind the NoCo Grand Hotel, across NorthSouth Rd. to the snowmobile trails.  Then single track up and down the side of Rattlesnake.  Good run.  Seemed like 20 miles for some reason.  Something like 1400 or 1500 feet of gain in the middle miles.  Not too bad.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

July 8 (Tuesday)

July 8 (Tuesday) - Whitaker Woods. 3 mile w/up + 5k Trail race + 2 mile cooldown.  8 miles total.  Ran out front the whole time (barely).  Tim Livingston almost caught me at the end. We ran 17:01 / 17:03 respectfully.  If the race was 100 yards longer I would have lost.  I believe Tommy Manning was third (he was still hanging around in NoCo this week), Zac was fourth, and Kevin was fifth (just going easy).  I was rigging up bad at the end and still have some tired legs from Loon.  I think most of my Whitaker runs will be on tired legs... Pemi Loop coming this weekend, so next week's Whitaker will be a nightmare.

Monday, July 7, 2014

July 7 (Monday)

July 7 (Monday) - 10.7 miles.  Met Darin and Nick at their house in Madison.  Ran down to Silver Lake beach but the bugs on Lead Mine were I continued and went around the lake for an extended lake bang.  Last 1.5 miles back on Lead Mine were horrendous with the deer flies. Legs felt a little tired from Loon but nothing crazy.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

July 6 (Sunday) - Loon Mountain / US National Mountain Running Championship

July 6 (Sunday) - Loon Mountain / US National Mountain Running Championship (results) - Sunday I headed over the Kanc nice and early for the 2014 USATF National Mountain Running Championship at Loon Mountain in Lincoln, NH.  My main goals here were to help my team (CMS) win another National Championship and to try to maintain my lead in the USATF NE Mountain Series.  To achieve both, basically two things had to happen...first, we needed to make sure that Team Colorado didn't field a full team (because if they do, it's pretty much a given that we'd be running for 2nd at that point) and second, I needed to try to stay close to Kevin Tilton, who is in 2nd place in the overall standings for the mountain series.

Let's just say I'm pretty disinterested in recapping this one because I ran with zero balls.  Right from the gun, I was just running with no heart, no drive, no desire to push myself, and no confidence.  I just went through the motions and ran as hard as my body would allow without hurting.  I knew I was in deep trouble when I was 2 minutes into the race and couldn't even begin to count how many dozens of guys were in front of me already.  I was behind Drew Best for a little bit and commented to him that there would be a lot of carnage later on and we'd pick up some hurting guys later on.  Well, that never really happened to the extent I thought it would.

I meandered half-ass-idly across the additional 2 miles of nordic trails that were at the bottom when I should have been pushing it.  I was running behind one of the top masters (who took a nasty fall, got up, cleaned himself off, and continued to run, all right in front of me and I never passed him), a couple of college guys, and my teammate Pat Rich who ran like he's been there before.  I just didn't want to be there and wasn't up for the challenge at all.  It really showed over that section where I should have been really hammering the pace and staying with Pat and some of the other guys up front.

Once I started the actualy climbing back out on the old course, Todd Callaghan and some others went by me on the really steep stuff and I was a bag of crap.  I would pass more guys than I got passed by, over the course of the next few miles, so that wasn't bad...but overall I should have been 10 places higher at least...and 1:30 faster in my opinion.  I had a decent battle with Alex Hall and a few other college guys from miles 4-5+, as the course just continued to grind up loose dirt access roads and grassy slopes.

Once I went up and over the old finish area, I started the descent down towards the Upper Walking Boss.  I don't think I've ever run as easy and as slow on the way down, as I did this year.  I'm not sure why but I had no drive or desire to bomb down the descent as I had in previous years.  I just kind of went through the motions and basically held off Alex Hall on the way down the hill, but never thought about trying to actually catch anyone.

When I hit the Upper Walking Boss, it was basically looking up at a 'who's who' of who beat me.  There was pretty much the entire field (less the few top guys who were long done) walking, sidestepping, or 'running' up the boss.  I could throw a baseball over Pete Maksimow's head, yet he was 2+ minutes ahead of me.  It was very frustrating.  Todd Callaghan was pulling away as were seemingly everyone else. I'm not sure if I caught anyone on the boss. I may have caught 1 guy, but I can't remember.  I do know that I didn't walk a step. Not one step.  This was the first year ever, that I never walked one step at Loon.....including the years I won (2009, 2012).  That's probably the one good thing about the actual way I ran...the fact that I didn't need to walk...but maybe that was because I wasn't running hard enough on the rest of it?  I'm not sure.  I wasn't a complete slob up the boss, but I wasn't accomplishing anything because I had already let the race go after the first half mile.  There was one guy who was mowing me down the whole way up the boss and seemingly came out of nowhere during the last 100 yards.  He passed me right near the end and (to give you an idea of how SLOW the last part of the race is) beat me by 11 seconds in the last 5 steps.  

Some good shots of me on the boss below...mediocrity at it's slowest....

Overall I was pretty disappointed to say the least.  I wasn't expecting much, but I certainly was expecting to finish better than 4th man on the team and not be beaten by 14 minutes in a 7 mile race. But I was very pleased with the fact that we (CMS) won the US National Championship for team.  The bummer was that once again, USATF didn't bother to send team medals...or someone didn't bother to order them...or there was just yet another mix up.  I have won a bunch of USATF team medals over the years (I have been fortunate to be a part of a good club that shows up to these events and represents well) and this is at least the third time the team medals, for whatever reason, weren't at the event.  Not quite sure what to make of that and maybe it's just a matter of yet another simple mixup, etc... It's not a huge deal and supposedly they are being 'mailed' somewhere.  They said they'd 'mail them'.  Mail them where?  To my house?  Do they know where I live?  Maybe they'll mail them to someone who knows us? Either way, it just kind of stunk that I had my parents hang out for probably over an hour at the awards (where by the team awards, most people had cleared out and gone home), they called us up quickly only to have no medals to give out.  Had this been the first time this happened, it would have been fine...but unfortunately I'm getting used to it.  Also, it was (by that time) only me, Nate Jenkins, and Todd Callaghan that stayed to get up on the podium.  This is a 'rant' geared towards USATF and not in any way to the local organizing committee.  Medals are far from the most important thing, but when you have a US National Championship, and you are a legitimate money-making organization who runs it, and there is a team competition for which medals are awarded, one of the things on the checklist should be to make sure you send all the medals...or if you are in charge of ordering them, you order them.  Dave Dunham had to write email after email after email for months one time, to get us team medals from the 50K Road Championships... I'm not sure why it's such a pain the backside to get awards made and sent to championships... I guess in my situation (getting old, slow, and sour), all I have to look forward to is getting my medal ;).... 

Top 35 Plus CMS in Blue

1Joseph Gray          30Colorado Springs CO            45:52.3 6:34Scott Sports
2Patrick Smyth        27Salt Lake City UT              46:39.1 6:40Nike Trail Team
3Eric Blake           35West Hartford CT               52:37.5 7:32LaSportiva                                   
4Zach Miller          25Manitou Springs CO             52:44.1 7:33Nike Trail Team
5Joshua Eberly        33Gunnison CO                    53:30.0 7:39Brooks 
6David Roche          26Millington MD                  53:39.7 7:40New Balance Silicon Valley        
7Jordan Chavez        20Southlake VA                   54:23.3 7:47                                  
8Ryan Bak             32Bend OR                        54:28.8 7:47Central Oregon Running Klub       
9Andrew Benford       26Austin TX                      54:49.2 7:50Rogue Athletic Club               
10Kyle O'Brien         25Broomfield CO                  55:37.2 7:57Boulder Track Club                
11Tommy Manning        38Colorado Springs CO            55:43.2 7:58Team Colorado                     
12Nate Jenkins         33N Andover MA                   55:50.8 7:59Central Mass Striders             
13Jared Burdick        27Manlius NY                     56:00.2 8:01                                  
14David McKay          27Bend OR                        56:09.0 8:02                                  
15Josh Ferenc          32Saxtons River VT               56:30.5 8:05Boston Athletic Association       
16Ryan Woods           35Boone NC                       56:46.2 8:07LaSportiva                                   
17Brandon Newbould     32Nottingham NH                  56:56.0 8:08Whirlaway Racing Team             
18Zachary Ornelas      22Ann Arbor MI                   57:00.8 8:09                                  
19Drew Best            32Amherst MA                     57:23.5 8:12Acidotic Racing                   
20Gabriel Rodriguez    36Baltimore MD                   57:31.7 8:14Under Armour                 
21Kris Freeman         33Thornton NH                    57:34.6 8:14EliLilly                                    
22Patrick Rich         37South Hamilton MA              57:36.1 8:14Central Mass Striders             
23Peter Maksimow       35Manitou Springs CO             57:46.4 8:16Team Colorado                     
24Greg Ruckman         40Breckenridge CO                57:54.7 8:17                                  
25Ryan Lee             22Richmond VA                    58:12.2 8:19                                  
26Chris Grauch         41Boulder CO                     58:24.1 8:21                                  
27Todd Callaghan       44Beverly MA                     58:36.8 8:23Central Mass Striders             
28Timmy Parr           32Leadville CO                   59:02.1 8:26HokaOneOne                                
29Sam Robinson         29Oakland CA                     59:18.7 8:29Transports RT                       
30Matthew Lipsey       24Jersey PA                      59:24.7 8:30                                  
31Jim Johnson          37Madison NH                     59:35.5 8:31Central Mass Striders             
32Jason Bryant         41Elkin NC                       59:52.7 8:34Appalachian Mountain Goats        
33Justin Stewart       26Springfield IL       1:00:03.3 8:35                                  
34Alex Hall            27Hanover NH           1:00:13.0 8:37Boston Athletic Association       
35Ross Krause          34Easthampton MA       1:00:26.5 8:39Central Mass Striders             
38Kevin Tilton         32North Conway NH      1:01:38.2 8:49Central Mass Striders             
46Dave Dunham          50Ward Hill MA         1:02:55.5 9:00Central Mass Striders             
48Matthew Veiga        27Lynn MA              1:03:07.2 9:02Central Mass Striders             
53James Pawlicki       39Lynn MA              1:03:36.7 9:06Central Mass Striders             
62Daniel Verrington    52Bradford MA          1:06:35.2 9:31Central Mass Striders             
66Sam Wood             28Laconia NH           1:07:26.5 9:39Central Mass Striders             
91Arthur Besse         41Templeton MA         1:12:18.910:20Central Mass Striders             
114Paul Bazanchuk      59Center Conway NH     1:16:53.211:00Central Mass Striders             
118John Pajer          51Leicester MA         1:17:07.211:02Central Mass Striders             
206David Lapierre      50Chelmsford MA        1:29:47.312:50Central Mass Striders             
208Robert Thomas       54Charlton MA          1:29:56.512:51Central Mass Striders             
308Walter Kuklinski    65Princeton MA         1:57:21.916:46Central Mass Striders             
339George Boudreau Jr  45Dudley MA            2:31:42.721:41Central Mass Striders             

340 Total Finishers (Men).

My last thoughts on the race... Joe Gray and Patrick Smyth are beasts.  Joe is an amazing guy and I was thrilled to see him win Washington last month...he deserved it and it's been a long time coming.  Eric Blake is crazy good and is ridiculous uphill.  For him to have been beaten at Loon by almost 7 minutes is insane.  I think a lot of that time was over the first 2-3 miles where it was flatter and better suited to a guy like Joe to hammer.  The top 6 guys will all be a great strong team going to Worlds this year.  4,5,6 were all within a minute of Eric, which is pretty tight.  Joe Gray is in top shape right now so it will be very exciting to see how he does in Italy.  

I was able to continue to keep my lead in the USATF-NE Mountain Series although Todd Callaghan picked up some points on me.  He's still in 3rd overall (behind Kevin) but not by much.  

Overall I was thankful to my parents for going and watching the race and being there for me on a tough day.  They hiked all the way up Sunset from the gondola to see the finish.  Then they had to hike all the way down and then back up to the gondola afterwards.  I am also thankful to the local organizing team of acidoticRacing, Chris and Karen Dunn, and all the others who made the race possible...  Paul Kirsch and Richard Boltski for designing and marking the course and being awesome.... and CMS for fielding a great team and making me proud once again to be a part of a national team title.

I hit up the river afterwards and talked with Jason Bryant, Tommy Manning, Pete Maksimow, and a few others over a can of 603 (my first beer in a year).  Then I hit the road and sulked for 45 minutes across the Kanc.

Joe Viger's Photo Set

Scott Mason's Photo Set

Krissy K's Photo Set

Saturday, July 5, 2014

July 5 (Saturday)

July 5 (Saturday) - Met up with Kevin at the Mineral Site in Conway in the a.m. for the normal loop (which for some reason I always 'thought' was 8 miles but it turned out to be 6.7 miles.  It feels like 67.  It was a nice easy jaunt before Loon tomorrow.

Friday, July 4, 2014

July 4 (Friday)

July 4 (Friday) - Met Kevin bright and early at the Liberty/Brook trailhead (but we did neither Liberty nor Brook).  1:50:11 with 2400 ft of elevation gain up Mt. Paugus (the climb is a ballbuster).  Bolles Trail to Bee Line Cutoff to Bee Line to Old Paugus Tr. up over Paugus (zero view because it was raining and completely clouded in) then down Lawrence Trail to Cabin Trail to Whitin Brook Trail and back down Old Paugus to Bolles again. A slow, steep 8.15 miles!  It was a grind!  My hearing has vastly improved over the course of the last 12 hours or so. 

I'll leave you with some of my favorite 4th of July / Patriotic photos from years past:

JJ - John Carson 2 Mile - July 4th, 2009 - Chelmsford, MA

Justin Freeman - Woodstock, VT, July 4, 2007

Axis - Boston, MA 1998

Thursday, July 3, 2014

July 3 (Thursday)

July 3 (Thursday) - Lost the hearing in my left ear since Wed. night. Woke up in the middle of the night and was completely deaf.  It didn't feel like there was any water in my ear, but it was a possibility because I had done a couple of dives off the raft at Silver Lake on Wed. afternoon.  I have had water in my ear plenty of times, but this was different.  I tried repeatedly to get any water to drain. I used hydrogen peroxide extensively but it didn't help.  I tried every home remedy on the internet.  When I woke up on Thursday I was a mess. I had a headache and felt like crap all day.  I had to lay down a couple times during the day.  I was able to mow the lawn (figuring walking around might help) but it was no different after I was done.  Late in the afternoon (6:15ish), I decided that I still needed to try to run.  I hit up a flat out and back (relatively flat) down 113 and 41.  I felt pretty good despite the absolutely annoying fact that I could only hear out of my right ear.  My left was completely blocked.  It was balls hot outside as well, but by 6:15ish it had probably cooled down a few degrees and it was probably the best time to get out.  I ran 64:49 for the 10 miles (not that I'm one of those completely obsessed with pace on training runs), which was good for me and I felt pretty decent.  By late in the evening my ear started to clear up. I had gone to the store and bought a couple of 'tools' to try to get out possible packed earwax and water but even after making sure my ear canals were squeaky clean, it was completely blocked (almost like my nasal passages get during allergy season).  I could unblock it briefly by yawning, chewing, or squeezing my nose and popping my ears, but it would close back up again. I think I have some sort of infection.  By bedtime, it got slightly better and I regained about half of my hearing in my left ear.  Good times.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

July 2 (Wednesday)

July 2 (Wednesday) - Beach day again today w/ the fam. It was a HOT one out there....low 90s (Yahoo weather had Madison at 93 degrees at one point).  The water was awesome.  We took Tabby in Silver Lake for a while in her float and I relaxed for a while on the beach after showing her my diving skills off the raft. Then the weather came rolling in.  Thunder and lightning and then pouring rain.  We packed up and headed home just in time.  There was hail, flash flooding, and a pretty impressive lightning display happening all over the middle part of the state. When we got home I pinged Darin Brown who had earlier been interested in a run.  I convinced him to go out with me on the trails. I figured in the pouring rain, the bugs would be a non issue.  Nick joined us and at about 4:45 we hit the trails I swore I wouldn't run on again until summer's end.  It was glorious.  It was 4 miles (out), of mostly standing water.  The downpour was keeping the bugs away and the temps down.  It was a refreshing run.  Nick and I did 8 and then I added on another mile back to get Darin who was in full on bonk mode on the way back.  9 miles total.

...oh and my quads STILL HURT....

My girls...

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

July 1 (Tuesday)

July 1 (Tuesday) - I opted out of Whitaker Woods tonight for some normal running and to try to rest the legs. I'm not looking for anything special for Loon this weekend other than to be able to go there and help my team medal.  I want to make it to the line in one piece and feeling good.  Right now my quads are shot.  I headed over to Sawyer Pond Trail off of the Kanc to not only soak the legs but to run some trails nice and easy.  It was HOT in the valley today.  I was (to no surprise) the only car at the trailhead.  Since you need to get completely soaked to even start the run, no one uses that trail for anything other than to sit in the river.  I headed out on the trail (after crossing the river which unfortunately wasn't as cold as I was hoping) towards Rob Brook Rd.  Once I hit Rob Brook I turned and decided to run on the forest road rather than continue on the trail up towards Sawyer Pond.  I figured maybe I'd see a moose or four (Kevin and I saw 4 moose and 1 bear on this road a few years back on the same run).  About 3.5 miles in, I got attacked by a grouse.  I'm talking full fledged pecked at. It was going for my junk.  I punched it out of the air.  The thing started rustling in the brush to the side of the road and then it flung out right up in my grill.  After it got it's clock cleaned, it started to come back at me again and it chased me about 20 yards before I turned and started screaming at it.  Finally it went into the bushes and started making all sorts of noise.  I was freaked out. I had never seen this before.  But now that it happened, I was pretty much on edge the rest of the run.  There was so much growth on the side of the trail that it was only a matter of time before it happened again.  A half mile later, it did.  Another one of those little f*ckers jumped out at me again and this time was out for blood. It flew right at my face and I jumped out of the way.  I then started running all out for about 30 yards with it close behind on the ground, running after me.  I bent down, grabbed a handful of rocks from the road and flung them at it.  It got the message and ducked back into the bush.  By this time the bugs were killing me, the temp was high, and it was closing in on noon time.  I hit the 5 mile mark and turned around.  Now I had to go back against these things again. I was ready this time, with another handful of rocks.  When I got back to the spot of the second attack, the thing was waiting for me and jumped me again.  This time, I destroyed it with a spread of rocks.  I wasn't messing around.  It was pissed but it let me pass.  Once out of the way of danger, I scooped up another handful of stones and prepared for round 2 with the first attack of the day (the only one I had been able to physically assault without the use of projectiles).  This one never materialized.  Once I got past that area, I disposed of my ammo and continued on back to the trailhead.  No real issues from this point on. I made it back to the river and soaked for about 15 minutes, only dodging the occasional monster dragonfly attack.  10 miles of trails on a gorgeous day.  No rabies or anything, so that's good.

My hood.

This is my church...this is where I heal my hurts...

I played with Tabby for a while in the afternoon in her kiddie pool and sprayed her with the hose for about 30 minutes straight.  She loves water.

At the end of the day, I hit up the trails in back of my house for an easy 3 miles to try to shake out the poison that is still in my quads.

13 total miles on the day.  Hopefully by Sunday I'll be back to normal.

Monday, June 30, 2014

June 30 (Monday)

June 30 (Monday) - Off. I can barely walk let alone run. I felt 'ok' hobbling around late Sunday in Maine at my brothers, but once I went to sleep on Sunday night and woke up Monday, I felt like I was hit by a truck.  I opted to rest and spend the day with the family doing normal person stuff. Did I mention Tabby loves going outside?  That's all she says now is 'outside' 'outside' and points at the door.  I guess that is better than wanting an iPad or phone all the time.  Kristin took off for a couple hours shopping so I was watching Tabby.  I was sitting in my office for about 10 minutes and realized it was awful quiet.  I wasn't sure what the deal was but I got nervous and jumped up to go look to see what she was up to.  I looked in all the usual spots.  She wasn't around.  Then I walked around to the front hallway.  She had taken one of the cat beds and brought it in there and then curled up inside it and fell asleep....for 2 hours.  It was an instant classic.

at the beginning...

near the end...

Sunday, June 29, 2014

June 29 (Sunday) - Wildcat Mountain Race

June 29 (Sunday) - 3 mile warmup (mountain/trails) + Wildcat Mountain Race (5 miles) (results) - 1st OA - 42:08 + 3 mile cooldown (roads).  11 miles total.

Looking up from the Wildcat parking lot.

Some stubborn (late June) snow in the ravine.

Drove up to Jackson, NH for the first annual Wildcat Mountain Race.  The race was a 5 mile up and down race that basically went along the perimeter of the entire mountain (clockwise) grinding all the way to the very top and then screwing all the way back down recklessly to the bottom again...just the kind of race I fear nowadays... but I was there bright and early.

I warmed up on the first and last parts of the race + a bunch down at the bottom.  The race is a grind with over 2.5 miles of climbing, so my warmup was pretty slow and most of it was flat, as I would surely have enough climbing during the race.  There was a problem with the gondola (which needed to take water stop and medical personnel to the summit) so the race was delayed by 30 minutes.  That doesn't sound like a huge deal, but when it's June 29th and it's a 10am start and it's one of the warmest days of the year so far, it's not good.  By the time the race started, the temps had risen a few more degrees and it was getting pretty warm.  There was no shade on the course.  The entire run is on ski trail with zero single track.  While I was mingling around before the race and warming up, I was noticing a few guys warming up that looked pretty decent.  There was practically no one there that I knew, which was very strange.  The numbers looked pretty good (with two race options....a 5k and a 5M course) but it seemed like a lot of people from outside the normal mountain scene.

As the race went off, one of the guys I was worried about (from the warmups) took off like he was running a 5 mile road race.  It was impressive.  It kind of reminded me of Ferenc at Sleepy Hollow...and I remember how that ended.  I started off very easy and relaxed during the first 200-300 meters which is all flat and gentle rolling across the back of the base lodge.  He continued to pull away and by the time we got to the beginning of the climb, he was gone.  I was pretty shocked at how hard he took it out as the climb gets steep very quick.  The terrain is rugged and the grass was long.  There was mud, waterbars, and lots of slick footing.  It was a nice mixture of Loon meets Cranmore to an extent, but just all up continuously.  No cutting across or drops at all.  By about 3/4 of a mile up, I started to gain just a bit on the leader.  He wasn't really giving up much but I was determined to see if I could just go slow and steady and pass him somewhere up the long climb without gassing myself.

Right at the 1 mile mark, I was able to pull up along side him.  I commented to him to just keep it going steady. He sounded like he was breathing pretty heavy but he was still very strong.  Right after we started running somewhat together, we came to a questionable turn...I quickly pointed and he confirmed the direction... again it climbed and I really wasn't losing him too much.  I felt pretty sluggish but I was determined to see if I could get some sort of a lead before the second half, which I was very concerned about (all downhill).  Again, we came to another fork in the course and this time, it was where the 5k and 5M courses split.  The way they had the arrows setup was a little confusing but again he confirmed that we went left and we both started again up the 5M route.   During this stretch of up up up, I started to gain a little big of a lead but nothing that couldn't be made up within a minute of downhill if this guy was a better descender than me.  I had no clue if he was or not. I knew by this time he was a great uphill runner...I wasn't sure about his downhill though.

Around 2 miles (maybe a little before), I went  straight when I should have gone left and quickly corrected but lost a few seconds trying to figure out where I was.  There was a water stop there but it was unmanned and no one was there to tell you where to go.  There was no markings on that corner.  The crew that was supposed to be there wasn't there so it was a little confusing.  I had probably 15-20 second lead on the second guy at this point.  Not enough. He was hanging tough and just lingering back there (it reminded me of Kris Freeman at Loon a couple years ago...I just couldn't shake him completely).

Over the next half mile, there were a couple of the steepest sections of climb and I really pushed here to try to lose him.  I built up a pretty good lead by the time I hit the summit.  I immediately shot up and over, passing the water stop and not taking anything (as I didn't at any of the stops...I just wanted to get it over with!).  Sam and Abbey Wood were at the top cheering me on.  I started the downhill section with my fingers crossed. It ended up being more brutal that I imagined.  I looked back a couple times when I was up and over the top and on the way down, and didn't see the 2nd place guy now.  I was somewhat confident that I had built up an OK lead (or at least as much of one as I could have imagined) but had no clue about how much (if any) he'd be faster than me on the way down.

The descent was absolutely brutal.  The grass was long, the rocks were wet, the mud was...muddy, and the slope was STEEP.  I was out of control a lot on the way down.  I am talking completely out of control and unable to slow down, stop, or accurately turn at all.  A couple times I thought I was going to wipe out and it was like slow motion...just me knowing I was going to eat sh*t at any moment and waiting for it to happen.  Luckily my decision to go with the Mudclaw 300s (a heavier shoe but crazy big lugs for good traction) was a good one and it kept me on my feet.   There were big white mile markers at every mile and they were incredibly accurate (my Garmin beeped within 20 feet of each one).  By the 3 mile mark (now only just shy of .5 miles down) my back started spasming on me.  This happened to me at Winter Wild last year and at Bretton Woods.  When I go very steep downhill (I'm talking straight down ski slopes for anyone reading this who 'think' they have run downhill before...if you have not run down a 3-4000'er ski slope, you do not understand) my back starts to spasm on me.  The muscles get super tight and just lock up.  I was grabbing my back and really trying to tip toe at this point.  By 3.5 I wasn't sure I'd be able to make it.  My back was killing me and my heels were now on fire, a-la Wachusett.  I knew I'd have no heels left AGAIN and I was really starting to get nervous.  I kept looking back (UP) and never saw anyone as far as the eye could see. I started to think that if I could just survive the drop down to the base, I'd be able to hold off and win.   I started to see 5k people come back onto the course where the two races meet.  I started weaving by people who were cheering me on.  Close to the bottom, as I was thinking that I had just sunk my chances of doing well at Loon, the course flattened out a little (but was still going down) and I started to feel better.  My feet were killing me but my back wasn't as bad.  There was one small little up section that cut across to another slope right near the bottom.  It's there, on the cutover section that was basically flat, where I ate it for the only time. I stepped in a 3 foot deep mudhole and just went right down on my face.  I threw my fists into the mud at the last minute to stop my face from taking the hit.  I quickly got up, pulled myself out, and started down to the finish.

In the end, I was able to somehow put a few minutes on the guys on the downhill.  The guy who was trailing me right up to the top, got passed on the way down (right near the finish area) by a 20 year old dude who worked at Wildcat!  Unreal.  I ran 42:08 and my Garmin read 4.99 miles.  That's pretty much spot on.  2nd and 3rd were only separated by 7 seconds.  After talking about the race with the guy who was with me on the way up, I found out that not only does he now live in Wakefield NH (Union is a village of Wakefield) where my parents live and where I was before I moved to Madison, but him and I ran against each other in High School.  We know a lot of the same people from that time.  He was '96 and I was '95.  We cooled down 3 miles out on Route 16 towards the Auto Road and then headed back.

Top 10 Overall (CMS in blue)

1JIM JOHNSON    37MADISON NH       42:08 8:26
2Jordan Cargill 20North Conway NH  45:13 9:03
3Ryan Vigil     35Union NH         45:20 9:04
4Kurt Schuler   26Plymouth NH      49:36 9:56
5Shaun Flynn    25meredith NH      49:43 9:57
6Dave Burnett   51wenham MA        50:4110:09
7Richard Fargo  55Plainville CT    51:3810:20
8Jeffrey Hixon  40Boxford MA       51:3910:20
9Nick Citriglia 35Farmington ME    52:1610:28
10Paul Bazanchuk59Center Conway NH 52:3410:31

92 Total Finishers.

Leslie Crusher got the win on the women's side, exactly 11 minutes behind me (which is too close for comfort).  I watched her come down to the finish and she was flying!  She was moving way faster than I was at the end, that's for sure.  We both got a sweet EMS bag for the effort.  She paid 6 dollars for a beer (Fenway prices) and I hit the road, only hoping that I will be able to recover for Loon in a week.

Leslie (1st Woman) and I after the awards...

Later that afternoon, Kristin and I and Tabby headed over to my brother's place in Shapleigh, ME for a birthday party for my nephew.  Good times.... let the vacation begin....

Saturday, June 28, 2014

June 28 (Saturday)

June 28 (Saturday) - after a full day at the beach in Madison with the family, I hit up an easy 6 miles on the trails w/ Darin Brown from his house.  Bugs were ATROCIOUS.  That's the last time I'm in there for at least a month or so.... We were originally going to do 8 but it ended up being 6 after ingesting 3 miles of bugs on the way out...

Tabby Rose enjoying Silver Lake in Madison.

Friday, June 27, 2014

June 27 (Friday)

June 27 (Friday) - Late day 6 miles w/ Nick Brown from his house.  Down to snowmobile trails and out towards Ossipee Lake Rd and then back.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

June 26 (Thursday)

June 26 (Thursday) - 3 miles of easy trails.  Legs a big heavy from yesterday and was wrapped up with the new thing after work which is taking Tabby outside.  She LOVES outside.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

June 25 (Wednesday)

June 25 (Wednesday) - Met up w/ Downtown Darin Brown at the base of E.Madison Rd. at King Pine for the 'Madison to Maine' out and back.  We headed west up Horseleg Hill / Towle Hill Rd / Cold Brook Rd / Rice Hill Rd. and down to the Maine state line (Porter, Maine).  Then turned and headed back. 1900 feet of climbing in this VERY hilly backcountry road run.  Half paved, half dirt roads.  We took a quick dip in Purity Lake when we got back.  11.85 miles.  I got the Madison/Eaton town line, the Eaton/Freedom town line, and the state line on the way out....and then got them all on the way back....uncontested. We got back just before the rain started.  Good solid midweek run.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

June 24 (Tuesday)

June 24 (Tuesday) - Whitaker Woods Summer Series again in NoCo.  After last week's 16:55 (and battle with Tim Livingston), I didn't feel like going hard again...especially after Washington this weekend and a 15.5 mile trail run on Sunday and peak bag yesterday.  My legs were a little tired.  But after I warmed up on the course for a couple miles, I saw not only Tim ready to go, but Tristan Williams again, and KT showed up right before the race started.  So now there were the 4 usual suspects + Nick and Darin Brown and some other Kennett H.S. guys there.  It was looking like another fast one.

As the race went out, Tim took it out hard and I latched on behind.  Kevin and Tristan was right behind and I let Tim do most of the work for the first half mile.  Around a half mile in, as we were on our way back towards the homestead, I put in a very subtle surge to see if I could break apart the group.  Tim dropped back just a hair but then rode back up.  I did this again on the long stretch before the first mile mark.  Tim stayed right along side me.  When we went through the mile, he was a step ahead of me on my right.  We went through in 5:23, which is fast for this course.  Last week we were 5:25, so we were actually a little quicker this week and the effort didn't feel too bad.

As I hit the turn onto the grass and cut across to go back into the woods, I surged again.  Tim came along about a step or two behind.  We made our way up to the hill and of course, as usual, Tim blew passed me.  If he's close, he almost always beats me up the hill.  He's really fit right now so he was right with me at the bottom and surged ahead.  I let him go.  He put a huge gap on me on the first climb and then the second small up.  By the third section of the climb, I had snuck back close to him and by the top of the entire climb, I had moved up next to him again.  By the first step over the top, I went by and he told me 'good job' but I wasn't convinced he was done by any means.  I started the downhill section with him a few steps behind.  Usually this is where I pull away.  I tried to stay on the gas during this part but was gassed by the 2 mile mark.  Tim was only a few seconds behind and was staying there.

During the 3rd mile, I was able to pull ahead just a tiny bit but not enough to make me think I could settle down.  I had to keep pushing over the root-filled (but flat) last mile.  I ended up coming through in 16:51.  4 seconds faster than last week.  To my delight (and his), Tim came crashing through in 16:59 for his first ever sub 17 on this version of the course.  He was pumped.  A PR for him and back to back weeks of quick times.  I was pretty pleased with my effort too, all things considered.  It may be the case where a sub 17 effort is in order for most weeks this summer (weather permitting).  I think it will be tough to do the week after Cranmore for sure....and it may be tough to do in the blazing late afternoon heat in July/August, but we'll see.  Effort-wise I don't think there will be any easy weeks this summer with Nick Brown coming back into form and Zach or Isaac showing up (Zach was not there this week).  Either one of those guys can run a lot quicker than I did tonight.  Kevin was 3rd in 17:41 and Tristan was right behind him with a 17:49.

2 mile cooldown over the first mile of the course (one w/ Darin and KT and the other w/ just Darin).  7 miles total with a solid effort on tired legs.