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: