Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I Love Woodford - Animoto Video

Tinkering around today as I watch the snow fly...




Credits:
Photos: The lovely and talented Kristin
Music: Coldplay - "Shiver" (2000)
Video Production: Me.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Recognition

A quick update for anyone who isn't on my Facebook friends list and hasn't seen this (since I so selflessly set it as my status for most of the day)...... 

Andy Schachat (columnist for Fosters Daily Democrat and popular race announcer in NH) has graciously nominated me for the Male Runner of the Year and Dan Verrington for the Male Masters Runner of the Year in his 'Best of the Best in 2008' column (which focuses on NH racing).  Andy really knows his stuff when it comes to the New England road racing scene and he knows something about just about everyone who runs races up here... it really is amazing to hear him throw out little tidbits about each finisher as they come across the line... It makes racing and spectating that much more enjoyable and he does a fantastic job at every race he announces.  

I really appreciate Andy recognizing my racing as much as he has this year and am very honored to have gotten the nod.  He is just one of many many reasons why I enjoy racing in New Hampshire more than anywhere else...especially the Seacoast area.  I raced a lot in NH this year and have really focused my schedule on racing up here as much as I can.... This just makes me want to continue the trend.  

Sunday, December 28, 2008

I Love Woodford

Well, this weekend marked my first snowshoe race and my last race of the 2008 calendar year... It was my 45th race of the year, and this time it brought me out to Woodford, VT for I Love Woodford (results to come), the first snowshoe race of the 2008 Dion Racing Series. The 2:45 ride out to Woodford was courtesy of dd. Jim Pawlicki and the lovely and talented Kristin also joined (Jim was racing, Kristin was going out to take some photos)... We were lucky to be able to have even had this race, as it the weather was extremely mild across New England this weekend, and much of the snow had melted away. Woodford State Park still had a fair share of snow left on the trails...more than enough to get the race underway. The parking area was a complete ice rink, with all the snow having been packed down by snowmobiles, then partially melted, then frozen again...I saw one guy actually ice skating in the parking lot... (image above: Jim Pawlicki and yours truly on the warm up)

I bought a brand new pair of Dion 121 racing shoes before the race and Jim and I went about a mile out and a mile back over the course while Dave set marker flags down over the entire 3.5 mile course. I was a little worried about this race because I am not in the best of shape right now...I've had a very light month of training, only 1 race, and no workouts or tempos of any kind. I figured this would be a good test to see where my fitness was at, and I was pretty close to being right...I struggled quite a bit over the last 10 minutes of the race...

With 83 runners toeing the line, it was a pretty decent turnout, but evident after just a few strides that I was going to be tucked in behind Josh Ferenc (BAA / Inov-8) . The first part of the race goes along an access road that leads into the Woodford State Park. You are on the road (snow covered of course) for a quarter mile or more as it winds up a pretty good hill right away and then tucks into single track trail for just about the entire rest of the way. The snow was wet and heavy... thick in spots, light to non-existent in others. There were small bridge crossings and quite a few downed trees and limbs (a lot of which had been cleared out ahead of time). I could see Josh for about 10 or so minutes before he put enough distance on me where he just disappeared into the woods...the twists and turns made it tough to spot people both ahead and behind you unless they were pretty close. I took 2 spills, the second of which was probably 600 or so meters from the finish, just shy of popping out of the single track and back onto the access road. On my second time down on my face, I turned to look back and saw the 3rd place runner right behind me (20 or so yards back). I got up quick and continued on but thought we had a lot more running to do (looking at your watch doesn't mean much in these races)...I was convinced we had a mile or so more to go...at least. I was all but ready to just let him go past and was waiting to hear him shout out 'on your right' so I could let him pass... But just as I was about to concede the place, I saw Kristin in a clearing, pointing her camera at me... I didn't think too much of it and just figured she had found a way to get up pretty far into the course.... but then just past her, I saw Tim VanOrden who was filming the race... He told me '300 meters to go'... At that point, I realized where I was and just put the hammer down and sprinted down the access road to the finish... looking back the entire time, I saw the third place runner give it a brief go to catch up, but then back off as I was in a full on sprint over the last 200 meters. I finished in second place behind Josh who had already warmed up his car and was sipping hot chocolate with his feet up... well..small exaggeration, but he did take me to school and beat me pretty handily. Dave Dunham was 4th, Tim Mahoney was 5th, and Jim Pawlicki was 6th overall, putting 4 CMS guys in the top 6. Not a bad showing. CMS Women's runner Abby Woods was the 1st woman.... (image above: Tim Mahoney, Jim Pawlicki, me, Dave Dunham on the cool down)

We finished off the day with another run over the course, which by this time was nice and groomed by all the racers who had slogged over it previously... we collected the flags, grabbed some post race grub (non-raw) and then headed home because Dave started getting moody.

Kristin took some awesome photos on the day which can be seen HERE and Tivo took some video which I'll link to when it's been edited and posted.

Below is a quick pan of the parking lot before the race... ICE....



Below, the new kicks I bought Kristin (Tubbs) for snowshoe hiking this winter, and the Dion racing shoes I got today... Now if would only turn into winter again....




Sunday, December 21, 2008

Weekend Rundown

For anyone in the Northeast this weekend, I don't have to tell you about the weather... but for anyone elsewhere, we got wacked with snow...as of 10:10pm Sunday night it is still snowing.... It started on Friday...let up a bit on Saturday, and then started Sunday morning again and has continued for the entire day...

I got to snowshoe with dd and Ken Tripp on Friday afternoon (see dd's post)...It was my first time on the things and it was pretty decent... I think (I hope) I'll enjoy it this winter... But it is still a little early to tell... we ran 4 miles in hard packed snow that was only a couple inches deep. Nothing technical at all and in fact it was described by Dave to be the fastest possible conditions. On Sunday, I was still in possession of the Dion racing shoes that Dave lent me, so I decided to do a hilly 7 mile loop from my house on the roads which were still completely covered with snow... There were sections that were plowed, so a clanked every once in a while on what was just a dusting, which I didn't know at the time, is VERY bad for the shoes.... When I got back (1:11:05 later), I noticed that one of the cleats was completely broken off and the other was worn completely down... in other words they were completely trashed... Now I have to replace them for dd before I give them back. I'm hoping Bob Dion is selling some up at Woodford this coming weekend.

In between snowshoe runs, I had some MVS teammates over for some Holiday beverages and good times... Pictured left: Molly Taber, Melissa Donais, and Crystal Anthony....also swinging by were Jon Healey (recent 2:29 at Philly Marathon), SISU Project's Pete Cahalane, my former UML teammate Joe Dunn and his fiance Andrea, and my longtime buddy DJ Nuggets graced us with his presence (until Sunday morning when we scrapped him up off the floor and sent him home)...

Looking at the turnout for this weekend's BU Mini-meet really makes me feel even sh*ttier about missing all that time last week. I really feel like a slug and I've only been away from steady running for a couple weeks...heck I ran every day this week except for one, but I have no desire or motivation to keep track of my runs or do any decent mileage...I am just in a funk right now... The more I think about it, the more I am leaning toward lightening up the snowshoe schedule a bit (I know I know, I haven't even done one race yet) but I think I should do a few track races this winter at least..... Nate and DV ran great miles (DV also ran 8:30 in the 3k) this weekend and Kevin Tilton also ran like a man in the mile / 3k double... dd even dove back into track racing by giving the 3k a go.... I really feel left out and it s*cks. I think tomorrow I am starting to get serious again.... Seeing everyone run so well this weekend I think was the motivator for me... We'll see how this week goes. The weather isn't going to make it easy....but I need to man up....simple as that.

I finished up the weekend by spending time with the other manor residents up on the third floor. Donna and Peter had the all the manor folk up for a holiday get together...so that meant more eggnog based drinks, and another spread of shrimp, cheese & crackers, brownies, cookies, and all sorts of other deserts and food that would make Tivo roll over in his raw food diet grave.... I'm lucky to have gotten through this weekend without putting on ALL of the weight I lost over the past 2 years running...

Some additional shots of this weekend's festivities... Pictured in order are Joe Dun and yours truly, playing a Pete Cahalane request... Jon, myself, and Lansdowne St. legend DJ Nuggets behind the decks, and then finally the lovely and talented Kristin any some really smooth lookin' dude with great hair...

Seriously though, thanks to all my friends who came by and spread the holiday cheer.... And thanks to Kristin for spending the good part of Friday and Saturday cooking awesome deserts and cleaning the house....

Isn't my baby cute?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I'm not dead...yet...

So I really got nuthin' worthwhile to talk about... I had a pretty crummy week last week with first a company 'restructuring' which left some dear friends of mine without jobs, and the direction of my own job in question... Then I had to go out to San Jose for a conference which was valuable in the sense that I got to meet quite a few people I had worked with for years via email and phone, but never met in person... but from a running and training perspective (which is the main focus of this blog), it was a nightmare.   Let's just say that I got my rest in last week.... basically the official end to a jam packed racing season that went from January to December (that's my 'season').  

I raced last Saturday, then headed out to SJ on Sunday morning.  I arrived out there around noon and got to hop on the dreadmill for 10 horrific miles in front of a TV with no remote (so I was stuck watching Storm Chasers which is probably one of the worst shows there is).  I figured it would be a good start to a good week of running in California.  Wow was I wrong.  I soon figured out that I would have ZERO time to run.  None at all.  From dawn to 1am every single night, I was occupied with functions and team dinners.  While they were fun, I really was down about not being able to get my runs in.   I did manage to get out on Wednesday night for about 7 miles before our awards dinner....but if you've ever been in downtown San Jose, you know that you can't go more than 1 block before you have to stop and wait for eons for the lights to change...and newsflash.... the streets there are VERY busy and they frown on jaywalking.  In New England, we don't even know what jaywalking is....and NOBODY waits for the walk signal.  In San Jose, you need to do this, which makes running there just horrendous.   Needless to say, I got 7 miles total in last week.  My worst week all year...but considering the time of year and that I really don't have anything going on now for a bit, I'll use it as a rest and recovery week.... Not to get too deep into the week out West, but I neglected to take any pictures, as I was just plain unmotivated the entire time I was out there...

I got a couple of photos from a coworker who snapped some shots (maybe a couple hundred)...I was only in two of them.  How I managed to avoid literally 200 photo ops with the group I was hanging around with the entire week, is beyond me....but as you can see, not only was I completely removed from running, but I was pushed face first into a barrage of food and drink for 6 straight days....

I did get back into New England just in time to miss the ice storm we had here, but came back to a yard that was a complete mess...We did lose power for about a day, but it was restored right before I got back....others weren't so lucky....I still have a couple friends that don't have power, six days later...

 I took a couple of quick videos (didn't post them as high quality because I am still unmotivated to spend any time doing anything right now)....






On an actual good note, I ran Monday AND Tuesday... back to back days again...like a real runner.  I'm still trying to soak it all in again...  

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Christine's Crusade Trail Race

Today I drove up to Dover, NH to run in the 1st Annual Christine's Crusade Trail Race (website) / (results) at the Portsmouth Christian Academy.

As the website states, the race benefits Christine (Gross) Skidds and her family. She is bravely fighting a brain tumor and all of the proceeds went directly to her organization, Christine's Crusade. Obviously a good cause, and a great fit for me...As I am flying out to San Jose tomorrow for the week, I had to squeak in a race on Saturday (hence missing Mill Cities tomorrow). This was appealing to me because it was billed as a 'trail' race and it was in Dover, which is another NH town I can cross off the list :)...

First and foremost, it was COLD this morning...They had a fire pit going at the start/finish for the volunteers and runners to huddle around. The race was put on by the 3C boys and Acidotic Racing. As I panned over the course, trying to figure out where it goes, I was pleasantly surprised that I was considering this more of a XC race than the Andover 6k and it really was more of an XC race than a 'trail' race, which I gladly welcomed.... Chris Dunn met me about 10 minutes in and ran over the course with me (which was 2 loops around the campus...mainly fields, a small trail section, and a very small stretch on the road through campus)... Chris gave me some pointers on the upcoming snowshoe racing I'll be doing as part of the Granite State Snowshoe series and the Dion series out west.

As the race went out, it was immediately evident that it was a 3 man race up front... Me, NE racing stud Bob Winn (now 50 and still bangin') and PR's Tim Cox (who's still battling back from injuries)... The course was run over fields that hadn't been mowed in a while, then had been packed down a bit and frozen...it made it VERY very bumpy. I was thanking god I took my spikes out before the race...that would have been absolutely horrendous, had I left them in. The larger field had a few patches of ice where water had pooled up, and there were a few small gully crossings you had to jump over, and one part where you had to go over a single track foot bridge. The trail sections were not that long, but the ground was crunchy and pretty muddy over the second loop. It was just a very slow course given the conditions....I took a couple of small wrong turns that didn't really affect my race too much...a couple seconds at most...Bob was right there each time to set me straight. Towards the end of the race, I started to realize that either the footing was making the race WAY slower that I thought, or the course was long.... It was billed as a 5k, but as I finished, we soon realized it was actually closer to 3.5 (3.47 or something like that)... They called it 3.4 (which a few people w/ GPS' had). I was very happy to hear that and really did have a blast....it made for an interesting race for sure... No splits, but I ran 18:38 for 3.4 (5:29 pace)... For this course, with the footing the way it was, I'll take it! I won a free pair of Teva trail running shoes, and a pair of socks in the raffle... They also gave everyone a cool t-shirt and Teva tote bag... Not a bad score for $20. If they have this again next year or another race for Christine, I'll be there...

I also met Steve Wolfe for the first time (in person) today...Steve was there doing a last minute workout before running his 2.5 leg of the Mill Cities Relay tomorrow. His son Alec took a lot of great photos of the race (including the 3 of me in this post)... They can be seen HERE. Much thanks to those guys for getting the visual evidence while I let the lovely and talented Kristin get her shuteye back down at the homestead...

I cooled down and talked with Bob Winn (Maine), for the first time, which was very cool. Not to get into it too much, but if you are interested, Google him sometime and take a look at some of his results from back in the day... He used to battle it out w/ the best of them... The CMS boys, Fram, etc. He just turned 50 and is still banging out great races... He is running Club Nationals (XC) next weekend (a race he's won a few times in the past)... He told me he took a down period of about 4 years and is now just running for fun (unattached) and not doing too much mileage....but he's still racing pretty damn fast... Best of luck to him this coming weekend in the Masters race.

On the way home from the race, I stopped in at Runner's Alley in Portsmouth ('New Hampshire's Only Running-Only store')....to pickup the Seacoast Series jackets that just came in (today was the first day to pick them up). I must say, they are pretty sweet. I also got a pair of Runner's Alley gloves for competing in all the races in the series. I know this is blasphemy and goes against what I've been talking about, but I may do all the Seacoast series races again next year and skip a couple of the mountain series races that conflict...I just can't get over having to miss Market Square Day 10K and the Redhook 5k for Northfield and Pack Monadnock.... We'll see. I may have a change of heart through the winter.... For now, check out the jacket in the image below.... It's a little heavier than the USATF-NE jacket, so it will be a little better for winter usage...

Now I'm packing up for my week out at the Adobe Sales Conference in San Jose...I hope to get some decent running in, but as we all know, sometimes these weeks away for work are not particularly conducive to any serious running....If I'm lucky, I'll squeak in a good run tomorrow and some junk mileage this week...enough to keep from completely falling out of shape anyways.

I'll shoot for a midweek entry or two if I have anything whatsoever of interest to write about.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

More midweek rambling and visual evidence...

Just a midweek update because I took today off to nurse potential illness and general malaise... Today, for numerous reasons which are not running related, is just one for the trashcan... Jon Healey (who just recently ran 2:29 in Philly) gave me some insight into what my book should be called (if I were to write one) and the tag line... 

..."blogger turned non-fiction best seller Jim Johnson....in "Running in the Cold" a blow-by-blow story of living in New Hampshire and running with some of the fastest people in the country.  Also including personal tidbits about the personal lives of several of the area's top runners and coaches in their quest for victory on and off the track." 

I dunno...I just like the sound of that...Too bad I can't write....

On a lighter note, here are some shots (click to enlarge) of the Andover CC 6k Cross Country race from this past weekend.  Race winner Ryan Carrara's mother took these pictures and he was kind enough to email them over to me...proof that I actually did run there this weekend :).  Contrary to how it looks (me leading in 3 of these pictures), Ryan took home the goods, which if my memory serves me, was some gift certs, a bottle of wine, a subscription to the rat, a glass, and maybe something else.... not bad to go along with an all you can eat pasta dinner and free beer afterwards...  Of course I stuffed my face with free cookies and laid off the beer... The Andover Striders did a good job putting this race on overall.  It is a pretty popular race for people in the area....good time of year to have it, good spread at the end, nice course, lots of volunteers, and good turnout year after year.  

Not sure who is in 3rd place in these shots.  It could be Joe O'Leary (who wasn't listed under any team) who finished 3rd overall...but I'm not certain.  Fellow Goon Mike 'the Warrior' Masse can be seen making his way onto the bridge in one of the shots but this must have been right around the time he decided to 'just run enough to win the 0-19 age group'...  

Even though this race wasn't a USATF sanctioned race, I decided to wear the CMS gear for one basic reason... It's 'cross country' so I figured CMS would have a good showing and MVS wouldn't...but I was wrong.  Although we did have 6 guys put down 'CMS' as a team affiliation, I only knew dd.  MVS actually had 7 guys run (maybe even more) ...I was shocked..but glad they had a team score in a cross country event.  

I am still teetering on whether this is actually cross country or not...I suppose it is closer to being 'cross country' than the Carlisle race was in August.  That Chamberas 6k, although fun, was closer to being a trail race than 'cross country'.  I equate cross country races as being held in open fields, wide track dirt paths, golf courses, and just predominantly on grass and soft surface...  for the Chamberas race, there was a lot of single track trail running...almost the whole way actually.... With this Andover race, there was far too much golf cart path running, paved sections, and some road sections for this course to be considered real cross country.  I would call this a cross country / road hybrid....or maybe closer to a high school xc course....heck anyone who ran in the Middlesex League knows that the only course out of the 10 that wasn't basically entirely paved, was Stoneham's course ...and that course was actually a real xc course with just a little bit of trail but not enough to call it a 'trail race'.    As a throwback, I've included a clip of the 1994 xc dual meet between Wakefield and Stoneham.  My Dad adds his usual commentary about something the camera is doing / not doing/ battery dying, etc...  Good stuff.

1994 Throwback - Wakefield vs Stoneham



Also, I found a vid from the start of Sunday's race courtesy of emilytrespas:


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Training - 11-24 - 11-30

2 races this week and 3 in the last 8 days... One week ago was the Wakefield 5k...Thursday was the Feaster Five (photo of Feaster Five finish to the left -  courtesy of MVS) and then I finished the week off with the Andover Country Club 3.5 Mile (results) cross country race today.  I finished in second place behind Ryan Carrara (NB Boston) who destroys me in every race I've ever seen him at... I went out pretty smooth and steady in the lead for a short bit and then he took over and never looked back.  I tried to keep within a few seconds and a couple times picked up a little bit of ground, but over the last K he was in control and I was just hanging on for 2nd.  He's been sick and just came back running regularly this past week...so it looked a lot closer than it would have been...

It was a pretty fun race with A LOT of twist and turns and short hills throughout the whole course.  The finish has a nice grassy downhill and luckily the bad weather held off, making it a relatively dry run.  The post-race spread was decent...pasta, salad, and all the beer you could handle (although I think I may be coming down with something so I held off on the adult beverages)...  

This week marks week 2 in a row of 70 miles...slowly climbing back up and holding steady...we'll see....






11-24 - 11 miles (1:16:19) - Salem, Methuen, Pelham (Harris' Inn Loop)(roads) - solo.
11-25- 7.5 miles (51:12) - Newburyport (roads) with Al Bernier, Paul LaRosa, Brett Rickenbach...first run of the season w/ headlamp!!! Drizzle and rain...
11-26 - 9.4 miles (1:01:07) - Salem, Methuen - Pelham St. Loop with add on down to Kristin's work and back.. (roads) [Route] - solo.
11-27 - 26:00 w/up before Feaster Five around Andover (solo) + 5k Race - Feaster Five  - 3rd out of 4372 - 16:24 (relatively hilly course) + 26:00 (3 miles) w/ Chris Volante around Andover. - Total - 9.6
11-28 -11 miles (1:24:48) - Bradford, Groveland, Georgetown (trails and roads) - w/ Mark Behan, Mark Kimball, Dan Verrington, and Andy King.
11-29 - 11.2 miles (1:12:32) - Salem, Methuen, Lawrence, North Andover - to my sister's house [Route] (roads) - solo.
11-30 - 26 min w/up w/ dd & Mike Masse + 6k Race - Andover CC XC 3.5 M - 2nd place of 366 - 18:03 (5:10 pace) + 30 min cooldown w/ Pete Cahalane & Mike Masse - Andover, MA. - Total 10+

Total Mileage for the week: 70.2

Barring getting sick. this coming Saturday I'll run one more race (Christine's Crusade 5k Trail Race up in Dover, NH) before heading out to San Jose for the week...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy turkey day to everyone out there from myself and the lovely and talented Kristin...

We spent the day in North Andover at my sisters' house with my family. We'll do Christmas with Kristin's family this year...that's generally how we do it (alternating years)....

I remember 3 years ago, Thanksgiving of 2005, when I got home from a day of stuffing my face, I was tipping the scale at 180...my highest 'known' weight...I remember that vividly...but for some reason it took me another 10 months to start doing something about it... 

I started the day by going down to the Feaster Five (results) in Andover for the annual Thanksgiving race that MVS puts on in both the 5k and 8k distances.  I was going to go up to Rochester to do the 5k that the Rochester Runners puts on but decided against making the longer trip...It was a last minute decision for me but I decided to give the Feaster Five a go... 5k was the race of choice....  It was fun to finally do it...nothing too special about my time or performance, but conditions were good and its another race I can say I did and move on....  I ran my slowest 5k of the year time-wise but the effort was OK.  The course was pretty slow as there is a pretty long incline during the first mile... I went through the mile in about 8th or 9th place and then, once we hit the top of the hill and turned onto Elm street, I passed a couple people and ran in 5th place for most of the last 2 miles... Just before the race turns onto the last street (which again is all a steady uphill to the finish), I made a move and passed the guy who was running in 2nd almost the entire way, and then a guy who had been one stride ahead of me for the entire race.  I worked up the last uphill behind Chris Volante but was unable to get him over the last 200 meters....I finished 3rd overall in 16:24.  Chris was 2nd and Dartmouth's Glenn Randall was 1st overall and the only guy to break 16 on this relatively tough 5k...  Randall was the 2007 NCAA 10k Freestyle Cross Country Skiing Champion and is a 30:00 10k guy.  One cool thing about today was that 4372 people ran in the 5k, making this the largest field I've ever run in....an additional 2610 ran in the 8k but started with everyone else, making it a total starting field of just about 7000 people.  

Next up (if the next couple days go to plan) is the Andover Country Club 6k XC race on Sunday...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Training - 11-17 - 11-23

Slight increase in mileage again this week and back up to the 10-a-day average... Incorporated one track workout in there with dq on Wednesday in crazy wind... Had a decent workout on Saturday in the Wakefield 5k.  Good to see dd back at it again...

Side note, my friends Jon Healey and Dan Vassallo had absolutely tremendous days at Philly yesterday.  Jon ran a 2:29:08 for 10th overall (5:41 pace) and a new PR.  Dan ran his arse off again and placed 2nd overall in the half marathon with a 1:07:52 (5:10 pace).  Knowing Dan and his intensity level, he's probably p*ssed because there was 1 guy in front of him (heck I've even seen him mad when he wins a race)... But I say you gotta be happy with 1:07!  Dan's the type of guy you definitely want on your side ;).... Both of these guys run for MVS' adidas racing team coached by Fernando Braz... On the women's side, Kara Haas (also MVS/adidas) ran to a 5th place finish with a 1:20:10 (6:06 pace).  Christina Sheehan (also coached by Fernando) was 3rd overall in the marathon with a 2:50:21.  I hear there was also a nice battle in the 8k between MVS/adidas runners Crystal Anthony and Melissa Donais who also ran very well....the results are all messed up still so I don't have times/places for that 8k....  Awesome job by all this weekend!

This kind of makes my work this week seem insignificant...but I'm happy to see others I know and run with running VERY well...  

11-17 - 11 miles (1:13:29) - Salem, Methuen, Pelham (Harris' Inn Loop)(roads) - solo.
11-18 - 13 miles (1:34:18) - 5 miles on the River Trail - Andover w/ Dave Dunham, Dave Quintal, Ken Tripp.... + 4 miles w/ Dave Quintal (roads) up into Lawrence + 4 miles back to the river (roads) (solo). Total: 13
11-19 - Workout with Dave Quintal - North Andover Middle School. 24 min w/up + Track Workout: 400 + 800 + 1200 + Mile + 1200 + 800 + 400 all at 78 quarter pace. Wind was incredibly brutal and it was COLD. Effort was probably better than 78s...but conditions made it what it was... 200 jog in between each. + 17 min c/down.. - Total: 10
11-20 - 8 miles (57:26) - First 3 solo around Andover/Phillips Academy while Dave and Dan had a super secret meeting about something... - Last 5 with Dave Dunham and Dan Verrington (trails/roads).
11-21 - 8 miles (54:15) - Salem, Methuen, Haverhill out and back (Lake St. Loop)(roads) - solo.
11-22 - 3.5 mile w/up around the lake in Wakefield, MA w/ dd + 5k race (15:58 - 1st) + 3.5 mile c/down around the lake in Wakefield, MA w/ dd & Jim Goodberlett. - Total - 10.
11-23 - 10 miles (1:09:15) - Salem, Windham, Derry (Windham Rail Trail) - solo.

Total Mileage for the week: 70

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Wakefield Burbank YMCA 5k Classic

Saturday it was back to racing and this time the scene of the crime was Wakefield, MA (my old stomping ground)... Aside from a couple of those 'fun runs' on Wednesday nights (back when I was still getting into shape), I've never actually 'raced' the lake before, although I've run it no fewer than 100 times or so... Matty Lyons and I used to bang laps around there back in high school in probably 16 and change on training runs... but I've never hopped into one of these weekend races around the lake (with whatever alias the race is going by that particular week)...  There's 'Take the Lake', 'Bikini Run', and gads of other road races that go around Lake Quannapowitt throughout the year... This time it was the 19th Annual Burbank YMCA 5k Classic (results).  This race seems to have gone by a slightly different name variation from year to year and its also been held at any time between July and November just in the past 8 or 9 years alone.  It also used to be a 4 miler (getting all this info from past results on Coolrunning)...I actually brought all this up with a couple of GCS guys who were doing the timing and they didn't even know about any of that...  We sure did luck out with it being in late November this year on probably the coldest and windiest days we've had so far...  

Dave Dunham graciously offered to drive to this race (only 20 minutes away of course)... We arrived fairly early and practically froze solid, walking from the car to the registration area.  We then ran over the course and timed it so we'd get back right before the race went off (to reduce our time standing around before the start)... Timing it down to about 2 minutes, we made the start and we were off.... As we noticed on our warm up, the first mile was like running straight up Hurricane Katrina's backside... Nothing but headwind for just about the entire first mile... then between mile 1 and 1.5 there was all sorts of crazy cross winds/tail winds/head winds/ winds coming from above and below, and some that seem to come from all directions at the same time... Miles 10-12 at New Bedford all over again...  The good news is that the last mile was rock and roll time... Tail wind the entire way made for a quick last mile and gave me the ability to salvage a sub 16 5k for the 14th out of 15 tries this year.  I had to run out front and solo for the entire race, but felt pretty strong and smooth for the entire way...I actually felt stronger near the end of the race and nothing was bothering me... Good signs for sure...

Splits: 5k - 15:58 (5:08 pace) - 1st place out of 166

Mile 1) 5:07
Mile 2) 5:15 (10:22)
Mile 3) 5:00 (15:22)
last .1) :36 (15:58)

I made off w/ a bag full of stuff and a certificate for a free xmas tree that they sell down by the lake... Since we have a fake tree we use every year, I'm going to have to shop this around...it's worth $30.  I have no clue how much a tree costs, but I can't imagine it being much more than that...

DD has a nice writeup about his day (and the only photo we have) up on his blog.  At the last minute he asked an extremely elderly woman who had just gotten out of her car, to take our picture.  This lady was so old, slow, and obviously oblivious to technology or even the concept of taking a photograph for someone... just at first glance I wouldn't even have asked her for simple directions, let alone to use a digital camera to take a picture of me in frigid weather.  I was concerned for her safety, but Dave wanted the picture because he's obsessed with me.  It took her a couple of tries, but she finally got off a decent shot.

We wrapped up the day at Brothers.  Hand's down my favorite joint in Wakefield to get some grub.  They sure have changed in recent months however, with a completely new, renovated inside....not sure I'm a fan...I like the old, dark, borderline dingy version I grew up with...  But the food still rocks.

Episode 6 (short) is up now... Absolutely no race footage and no redeeming quality whatsoever... but it's up.  You will get nothing out of watching it and in fact, may know less than you did before, after watching this.  Stay away.




*** On a side note, dd and I had our once-a-week difference-of-opinion today and this time the topic was Pink Floyd's 1977 album 'Animals' and more specifically the track on it called 'Pigs (Three Different Ones)'.  Dave was fairly convinced it was 'Pigs (Three Different Kinds)'...but I begged to differ.  Of course, once again I was right on the money... I mean, how can I be wrong about an animal that is in some way or another incorporated in like 75% of my diet?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Training - 11-10 - 11-16

Back to basics this week beginning with a day off on Monday after a no-so-great New England XC race on Sunday. I needed the rest even though my mileage has been super low.  I also needed a weekend off from racing so I bagged the turkey trot I was going to do up in Grantham (but added a couple of other races to the schedule to go into the winter a little sharper). I eased into the week and was able to get in over 60 for the first time in quite a while. This fall has been a disappointment to say the least. Now I'm getting excited for the upcoming winter racing schedule and planning on increasing my mileage back up to a respectable level and incorporating some workouts again, thanks to a great chat w/ Brad K. on Friday night, who filled me in on the importance of speedwork and gave me some great advice going into 2009. We'll see. 

This weekend I got a couple of great trail runs in w/ the crew (less dd who is still working on easing back into his normal routine)... 29 miles between Sat. and Sun.   Other than that, I did practically nothing else but rest, nap, and sit on my can.  

11-10 - Off - Day after NE XC. Well needed rest to clear my head and rest my mediocre arse.
11-11 - 8 miles (56:15) - Salem, Methuen, Haverhill out and back (Lake St. Loop)(roads) - solo.
11-12 - 11 miles (1:15:28) - Salem, Methuen, Pelham (Harris' Inn Loop)(roads) - solo.
11-13 - 9.5 miles (1:04:36) - Salem, Methuen, Haverhill (Whirlaway Loop) (roads) - solo.
11-14 - 9 miles (1:02:23) - Merrimack River Trail - Andover, MA- First 4 solo out to dd's tree and back... + last 5 w/ dd out and back.
11-15 - 12 miles (1:26:17) - Newburyport, MA - Maudslay State Park (trails) w/ Dan Verrington, Mark Behan, Ken Tripp, Dave Quintal, Mark Kimball. Started out slow but then by the end Kimball and Quintal were pushing the pace...calling this 12. Close enough.
11-16 - 17 miles (2:03:00) - Bradford, Groveland, Boxford (trails and roads) with Dan Verrington, Mark Behan, Mark Kimball, Andy King.  Kimball tried dumping me a couple times but I held him off and stayed on my feet.

Total Mileage for the week: 66.5 (6 days).

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

2009 USATF-NE Road GP Quick Thoughts...

I moved my schedule for 2009 out of the official blogging space and to its own home.  Just a preliminary schedule with more to come...  Now its time to rant slightly about the 2009 USATF-NE Road GP Selections.  We have (as in my favorite movie) the good, the bad, and the ugly.  

First, here they are...

2009 USATF-NE Road Racing Grand Prix:

02-22 - DH Jones 10 Mile (10M) - Amherst, MA
03-15 - New Bedford Half Marathon (13.1M) - New Bedford, MA
05-16 - Bedford Rotary 12k (12k) - Bedford, NH
06-07 - Rhody 5k (5k) - Lincoln, RI 
09-12 - Ollie Road Race (5M)- South Boston, MA
09-20 - Lone Gull 10k (10K) - Gloucester, MA
10-18 - Baystate Marathon (26.2M) - Lowell, MA

Now let me quickly analyze (I'm sure dd will have a much more in depth description of the night including vote tallies, etc)....  He'll probably find something to rant about when it comes to my driving, what I ordered at the sub shop, what I was wearing, or something lame like that...It's best just to let him go with it...

The Good:  Having 3 different races from last year.  Even though DH Jones and Bedford have been GP's in the past, this is different from last year, so that's definitely good.  Lone Gull looks and sounds promising.  I do like the date because its one week after Ollie, which means that if you're in shape for Ollie, you can hold out one more week and run a good 10k too... I didn't mind Bedford, and they have a new and improved course since 2007.  Lastly, these don't step on the toes of anything else on my calendar...very pleased with that.  

The Bad:  There is more bad than anything...First, DH Jones is a tough course.  It's in February.  Yankee Homecoming (which I actually enjoyed) got 40 votes to 31 in the first round of voting for the 'middle distances' (again I'm sure dd will get into this)... Then, by the time the last round of voting happened between DH and Yankee, DH ended up coming out with 37 to 35.   I liked having the Tuesday night race in the summer...I may still go back and do that one... I'm kind of indifferent about Rhody...but I will say that it is a long drive to go and run around in a parking lot...  Baystate being picked over Manchester and Cape Cod is also a little disheartening for me... Even though its fast, I've already done it...I would have preferred one of the other ones to mix it up a bit....but I'll take it.

The Ugly:  Ollie.  Just not thrilled about it. I'm absolutely floored that for 2 years in a row now that I've been going to the selections meeting, NOT ONE OTHER RACE BID AGAINST IT.  I swear, if I started a race around my yard with NO frills, no t-shirts, no toilets, and no parking, and went up against Ollie, I'd win.  I just don't get it.  If you are a race director with an 8k or 5M distance race and you just happen to see this, PLEASE bid next year. Please.  New Bedford is also another 'urban' jaunt we will need to again partake in, and in cold weather to boot... A bad experience there last year leads me to just overall bad memories and thoughts about going back... It got a majority right away I think, so it's certainly popular enough... The race spokesperson did do a nice job presenting his case, I'll give them that.  Lastly, having 6 people in my car going down to the selections meeting, all slamming me continuously (they tend to do that when they are in a pack)... Dave Quintal and Al Bernier were holding back a bit and being nice, but Dave Dunham, Paul Kirsch, and Dan Verrington can be brutal when they're all together.  Let's see... I've driven to Ascutney, Bridge of Flowers, and the selections meeting now with a full load of lunatics...2009 anyone, anyone?

Races that bid, but didn't get in:

04-26 - James Joyce Ramble (10k) - Dedham, MA
05-03 - Westford 5k (5k) - Westford, MA
05-10 - Medical Center 6k (6k) - Nashua, NH
07-28 - Yankee Homecoming (10M) - Newburyport, MA
10-25 - Cape Cod Marathon (26.2M) - Falmouth, MA
11-01 - Manchester Marathon (26.2M) - Manchester, NH

Monday, November 10, 2008

2008 USATF-NE XC Championships

As the year winds down and I look ahead to 2009, one large thing sticks out in my mind... I have to start doing workouts again to get better. Bottom line. I haven't raced 'fast' in some time now (fast for me that is)... In fact, the last part of this year after the mountain stuff has been pretty mediocre and below. I'm struggling to run 15:50s now in a 5k and my 10k this weekend was a clear indication that I am just running on fumes right now and need to make some adjustments...

Even though I ran essentially the identical time I ran last year, Sunday at the USATF-New England Cross Country Championships (results), I had fun because I was there with an actual full team. This was the first time I toed the line with a team at a XC race in 10 years. It felt really good to get out there and stand next to some guys who all shared the same common bond of running to score for a team... I knew regardless of how fast or slow I ran, I'd have some fun racing and scoring (barely) for a team.

The bright spots this weekend were definitely warm weather, having Kristin and my parents both go to the race (like old times), just being at Franklin Park at a XC race (always fun), and circling back with Coach George Davis (pictured left with myself and Kevin Alliette) who I haven't seen or talked to in almost 10 years. Not only did he look healthy, fit, and younger than I remember, but he was talking to me this time around as just a friend (like we sometimes did back at Lowell all those years ago). Our relationship was sometimes real good and sometime volatile to say the least...and the way we left it (or the way I left it) never sat right with me all this time... Sunday all that kinda went away with a simple glance up to see him walking towards me with a smile on his face...edging slowly towards me with that grin that was immediately familiar to me... This time around, no beard...clean shaven but the same GD I knew. It actually took me about 5 seconds to recognize him without the beard... We had a great talk. He was genuinely happy I was running again and very pleased to hear that not only was I running with some of the old familiars, but that I was enjoying myself doing it. He actually gave me some pointers and chatted with me for quite some time...I listened intently and became aware after a minute or so that it was just like back in the old days...but this time things were different. This time we were talking about running, racing, and strategy like we used to...but were doing it with smiles and a light heartiness that was a breath of fresh air...no longer was it an intense coach to athlete dictation of procedure...it was just different..and it was great. I'm really glad he was there...and I heard him cheering for me on the sidelines a few times...(which was rare back in the day...mainly because I would do everything he WOULDN'T want me to do during the race...but things have changed and for the better).

I went out conservative (way back in the pack which in itself is pretty disheartening to do) for the first mile... There was a coach on the sidelines at the 1/2 mile yelling out splits. I never paid attention to where the half mile split was at Franklin Park before...now I know it's right behind the stadium. I went through WAY back but in 2:31...then limped through the mile in 5:04 and was getting destroyed. Typical New England cross first mile... Mile 2 introduces you to Bear Cage Hill and hence a much slower and more honest mile split... From there, it became a sh*tshow (to coin the phrase used by Matt Pimentel on many occasions)... Justin Fyffe (new CMS ringer) started out ahead of me and never looked back. Greg Putnam went by me during the first half mile with authority and also ran steadily out of my range... Paul Noone and Kevin Tilton passed me after the first mile and I stuck within ear shot of them for most of the race (more so with Kevin whom I thought at one point I was going to catch)... Looking back at it now, I should have made it a goal to catch up to Kevin over the last mile and a half or so. It would have made all the difference in my opinion of the race...

Typical story here...I went by guys, I got passed by guys, I battled back and forth, and got blown around (as did everyone) by the killer wind. No matter where you were out on the field, the wind was hitting you from what always seemed to be head on. Many guys were indicating after that the wind was a factor that made the day really slow... With Dylan Wykes' close to 30 flat winning time, it's a pretty scary thought...Many familiar faces went by me for the next few miles... Ryan C, Terry, etc. Ben Strain (image by Jim Pawlicki) went down somewhere near Bear Cage (I think) and got pretty bloody. It was hard core and pretty cool looking (blood all over his number)... He had to get stitched up at the ambulance and when I saw him after the race, it was all bandaged up and he was icing it. I guess he fell on a sharp rock...that's cross country!

I went back and forth with a few Dartmouth guys, some GBTC guys, and a couple of SISU guys including Matt Germain who ran a very nice last part of the race to take me on the last straightaway... I had nothing left and basically coasted in... What a feeling it was though, to be riding 5th for the team...that hasn't happened to me since my sophomore year in college when I was coming off of a broken foot... Even at my lowest point on MVS this year, I was 4th man at New Bedford... Also, a new stat for me, but this time not the one I was looking for... Sunday, my 64th place finish is my highest (highest in the wrong direction) finish all year. Granted, the size of this years race and certainly the depth, was a huge factor. I was 38th last year at this race, with an identical time. This year, I finished 26 places worse. The field was pretty loaded. Fun..but humbling.

Incomplete Splits for 10K XC - 33:25 (5:22 pace) - 64th Place.

Mile 1) 5:04
Mile 2) 5:32 (10:36)
Mile 3) 5:24 (16:01)
Mile 4) 5:33 (21:35)
Mile 5-6.2) 11:49

Incomplete splits for miles 5 and 6 because I didn't see the 5 and 6 mile markers and have no real idea where they are anyways. I would imagine 5 is somewhere near the finish line and 6 is somewhere on the playstead after the base of Bear Cage...






CMS Finishers for Men's Open 10K

44th - Paul Noone - 32:42
46th - Justin Fyffe - 32:43
49th - Greg Putnam - 32:52
55th - Kevin Tilton - 33:06
64th - Jim Johnson - 33:25 (5:22 pace)
105th - Louis Cote - 35:31
114th - Jeremy Huckins - 36:12
DNF - Ben Strain - (rock)

The spread here was only 43 seconds between the top 5 of us.... Not too bad. Had Matt Clark, Dan Verrington, Dan Ostiguy, Jim Pawlicki, Al Bernier, Ben Nephew or potentially any other CMS open guy I've missed that didn't run this weekend, been there....I wouldn't even have scored.... I got work to do...

Men's Open 10K Team - Overall

1Boston Athletic Association33
2New Balance Boston59
3Greater Boston TC114
4Nike Central Park TC116
5Dartmouth136
6Central Mass Striders156
7Whirlaway RT166
8UMass Lowell192
9Green Mountain AA237
10 Hfc Striders263
11 PR Racing Team291

Men's Open 10k Team - USATF-NE Clubs Only

1Boston Athletic Association  33
2New Balance Boston 48
3Greater Boston TC 87
4Central Mass Striders113
5Whirlaway RT117
6Green Mountain AA167
7Hfc Striders183
8PR Racing Team203


CMS Finishers for Men's Masters 8k

12th - Joe Shairs - 27:36
18th - Dave Quintal - 28:13
56th - Joseph Hall - 32:05
73rd - Paul Grogan - 34:24
85th - Roger Nasatka - 36:44


Also, running super amazingly awesome (although he refuses to accept any race where he doesn't PR as a 'good race') was MVS Ace Dan Vassallo (pictured left with yours truly) who ran to a 13th place finish with a 31:37.

MVS' Brad Klinedinst made his appearance this year as did Janos Maku in the men's masters race.

Now on to a couple more smaller races where I can surely do much better than 65th in...then (snow-permitting) it will be snowshoe time! I hate to say it, but seeing how the weather was this weekend and how its been, Al Gore may have been right with all this hodge podge about global warming....he may be on to something...he did in fact after all, invent the Internet...so each time I blog, I have to take a moment to pause and give thanks to him for all he's given us ;)... jk.

Photos of this lovely day (minus my performance) can be seen in the usual spot but split into three parts (all taken by the captivating and gorgeous Kristin):

Men's Masters 8k



I only took a few shots of the Masters start and half way before I had to warm up. Kristin got a limited amount of the women's race...

And lastly... Episode 5 in my viral video series containing mediocre running exploits and no rants this time......



Below are the usual kicka$ photos (click to enlarge) from Mr. Scott Mason (blog) (Galleries). Scott was there this weekend taking photos of not only our race, but also the NCAA D2 XC NE Regionals for New England Runner magazine...and speaking of that, if you've picked up this month's version of NE Runner, that's his handy work on the front....

Friday, November 7, 2008

Looking to NE XC

Looking forward to Sunday's USATF-New England Cross Country Championships at Franklin Park in Boston.  Last year I only had 1 teammate join me for the festivities (thanks Jon!)... It would have been great to score with a team, regardless of how well or poorly I run... There's nothing worse (to me) than running a great team event like this and having no team score... This year we have a few diehards up for the challenge and I can't wait to toe the line with other people wearing the same jersey as me...it will feel weird at an XC race... The last time I got on the line with a full team in an XC race was 1998 - Slippery Rock, PA - NCAA Regionals.  T-Minus 2 days and counting until I rewrite the date on that stat...

Looking back last year.... CMS results. The highlighted runners are ones who are current CMS members.

2007 New England XC Championships

Men's Open 10K: 

23Kevin Tilton  Central Mass Striders32:40:00
25Matt Clark    Central Mass Striders32:44:00
38Jim Johnson   Merrimack Valley33:22:00
47Joe Shairs    Central Mass Striders33:40:00
58Jim Pawlicki  Central Mass Striders34:41:00
69Jeremy HuckinsCentral Mass Striders36:01:00

This year, we have some additional guys (not listed above) who will be running for CMS...

A nice Youtube video of both the Masters race and the Men's Open race




(I'm wearing the red MVS colors of course)... 

Also, my photos from last year's race HERE

Looking back 10 years....

(Numbers courtesy of dd)... 10 years ago (over the same course) CMS put 5 in the top 10 at New England's. That elusive 'guy from Vermont' (Eric Morse) that everyone talks about, was 11th and actually didn't score for the team...that's how loaded CMS was at the time... Eric was the winner at Ascutney this year, 2nd to Eric Blake at Loon, and has numerous other impressive PRs (3:59 mile, 14:17 5K, 29:20 10K, and 1:03:50 for the half marathon). The highlighted runners are ones who are current CMS members.  The rest of the CMS contingent is listed as well... (I would have been the 18th man on the team in 1998 with my time from last year!)

1998 New England XC Championships

Men's Open 10K: 

1Peter SherryReebok Enclave29:58:00
2Darin ShearerCentral Mass Striders 30:14:00
3Scott BagleyCentral Mass Striders 30:29:00
4Kevin GrahamAtlanta TC 30:35:00
5Jason CullinaneCentral Mass Striders 30:41:00
6Jack DwyerCentral Mass Striders 30:43:00
7Chris MagillBoston A.A30:47:00
8Bill StewartAtlanta TC 30:49:00
9Brian ClasNew York AC 30:53:00
10Adam Stuhlfaut Central Mass Striders 30:54:00
11Eric MorseCentral Mass Striders 30:55:00
12Brian QuinnCentral Mass Striders 30:58:00
14Harry StantsCentral Mass Striders 31:05:00
25Alan BernierCentral Mass Striders 31:44:00
27Chris KarasCentral Mass Striders 31:48:00
28Craig GemmellCentral Mass Striders 31:49:00
31Scott ClarkCentral Mass Striders 31:52:00
37Francis BurdettGreater Lowell RR 32:06:00
42Richard BoltCentral Mass Striders 32:29:00
48Matt KocybaCentral Mass Striders 32:47:00
53Michael ToomeyCentral Mass Striders 32:55:00
57Greg PutnamGreater Boston TC 33:07:00
62James PawlickiGreater Boston TC 33:24:00
65Ben NephewGreater Boston TC 33:30:00
74Pat CallahanCentral Mass Striders 34:13:00
82Chris VoceCentral Mass Striders 34:59:00