Sunday, November 29, 2009

Feel Good Farm Trail Race


Saturday was race #61 on the calendar year and it took me back up to Feelgood Farm in Lyndeborough, NH...this time without snow.  I ran up here this past winter at the Feel Good Farm Snowshoe race put on by 3CRaceProductions and it turned out to be a rather intimate affair, with only 12 folks in attendance.  This time, for the trail version, that number tripled, to 26 brave souls.

The Feel Good Farm '9k' Trail Race (results) was not for the faint of heart.  This race is brutally technical.  The only reason I won't call it the toughest trail race I've run personally, is because of how short it is.  If it was say as long as Savoy, I'd say it would be uncontested in that category...but because it is two loops of about 4k each, it doesn't seem quite as bad.  There is absolutely no place to open up here except for a small stretch right before the middle/end area, where you actually run on grass and flat ground for about 200 meters.  Other than that, it is all rocks and mud and downed trees and uneven/treacherous ground.  Some of the downhills were even bad enough that you just had to slow to a near walk or jump-down to get past.  It is so much easier to run this race when the trails are full of snow, you have no idea.  When I ran this race this past winter in the snowshoe version (which is not quite the same course), I never thought about how rugged the trail could actually be under all that snow.  Now I know.   The trail starts in the open field near Johnson Corner Rd. and heads straight up into ridiculously messy trails that at some points, resemble a possible attempt at putting in a road 200 years ago.  There is a lot of good climb on this course and it starts pretty much immediately, with a climb up to the top of Moose Mtn.  Then you rock back down the backside, along the perimeter of the property (540 total acres of land at Feel Good Farm + access to another 300 or so adjacent....55 miles of trails).  Once down the bottom, you zigzag around and eventually back up to the top of the mountain again, with a pretty tough and rocky/slick climb that is the main climb of the snowshoe race.  Once down the bottom, you make your way back to the start/finish area and circle around for another go (two loops).



The weather was OK temperature-wise, but the wind was in full effect (as anyone in the N.E. area knows).  Only 26 people made their way to the race, but apparently another 5 had pre-registered and not shown up.  Scanning the scene before the race, there was one guy there I thought might give me a run, and it turned out to be Brandon Baker, who came in 2nd overall.  Right before the race, he wished me good luck and I mentioned that it was going to come down to 'whoever care's least about wrecking themselves'.  Mike Amarello gave the signal and we were off.   Brandon actually took it out pretty hard at the opening and went by me at the first bridge (if you can technically call it a bridge) about 100 meters in.  I actually veered to the left and wasn't paying attention and he shouted quickly to let me know I was going the wrong way...after that, there was the first climb, in which I took the lead and that was pretty much the way it went.  At the top of the first long ascent, I turned to look and was alone.  I ran cautious and comfortable the rest of the way, not wanting to hurt myself and also being very aware that I didn't need to hammer this one.  I came through the first loop in 14:36 and hit the second lap with nobody in sight.  The course was very well marked and I was pleased to have gotten through the first lap unscathed.  As I hit the climbs on the second loop, I really started to feel like I was out of shape and thankful that the likes of a Nephew or a Hammett were not in attendance.  I hit the second of the two climbs to the top of Moose Mtn. and slowed down to a speed hike in a few spots and started to think about how much I miss mountain and snowshoe racing (pretty sick I know).  There is where I passed one of I think three runners that I lapped overall.  I passed more during the snowshoe version of this race, but that is about the same spot where I picked up the first runner in both races.  She gave me some words of encouragement and I, the same and I kept plugging away.  On the way down, I got another lady who was being cautious on the downhill, and then one more gentleman right near the finish.  I came through in 29:51 (15:14 second lap).  The course is definitely much shorter than 9k, and closer to probably 8k... I believe Mike recalculated at 8.2k...even that might be a stretch ;)...Regardless, it is a fun and challenging course for sure.

Top 10 Overall

Place
Time
Pace
Name
Age
City/State
1
29:52:00
5:45
Jim Johnson      
32
Salem NH       
2
38:02:00
7:19
Brandon Baker    
22
Ashburnham MA  
3
39:57:00
7:41
Kurt Berna       
38
Lyndeborough NH
4
41:50:00
8:03
Curt Fischer     
41
Merrimack NH   
5
42:09:00
8:07
Shad Hansen      
38
Milford NH     
6
42:43:00
8:13
Curtis Hansen    
41
Milford NH     
7
42:44:00
8:14
Jennifer Shultis 
41
Sharon NH      
8
43:24:00
8:21
Quentin Turnbull 
42
Concord NH     
9
46:07:00
8:52
Nate Hallowell   
30
Bath ME        
10
46:15:00
8:54
Justin Riddle    
29
Mount Joy PA  

26 Total Finishers.




I felt pretty strong although struggled on some of the hills a bit.  I had a blast and really enjoyed the technical aspect of the trails (something drastically different from Lithia a few weeks ago, but both races were a lot of fun). Brandon finished up in 2nd place and I cooled down with him afterwards and got to chat.  He's mainly a bike racer who got into mountain biking, cyclocross, and some other types of racing.  He indicated that he was going to do the mountain series this coming summer.

As far as my plans...I am now focusing on increasing my mileage, getting out of this post-marathon funk (that I think we are kind of all in right now) and get some of that sharpness back.  That's the only way I can describe it.  I just feel flat right now and am getting very excited about snowshoe season.  I have been keeping my eye on the weather forecast for Woodford, VT and it looks like it could be ok.  With less than a month to go now until the I Love Woodford race, mother nature has to get a move-on.   This coming week is Mill Cities and my debut in a GSR singlet.  Should be a fun time as always...




Friday, November 27, 2009

2009 Feaster Five and General Update


Sorry...long time no post... I'm not even really motivated to post this for some reason...but I did race, so I need a recap of some sort...so here's an update.  As the year winds down,  I've been busy recovering from my two fall marathons and I haven't raced since Oregon on the 7th of November.  That is 2 weekends in a row with NO racing!  That's gotta be a record.  I've felt very flat and uninspired the past couple of weeks and was afraid I was losing fitness (mind games though, mostly).  I guess I needed the rest and I think it has been good for me.  I've been running lower miles and most of it pretty easy, to let my body fully recover from the year (so far).  I passed on Slattery's last weekend, and took the week after the Trail Marathon off as planned.  I had to go up to Ottawa, ON for work last week, so the running was a little tough that week.  It was treadmill runs every night after work, which obviously stinks.  My legs and feet took a beating, but I got through it without much trouble other than being extremely bored.

This week (Thursday) I threw my hat into the Feaster Five ring again have mixed emotions about it, but I think it was a good move.  I haven't done much of anything and felt out of my element (funny, seeing it was my 60th race of 2009).  I don't know how guys only race a few times a year...I'd never feel sharp...it's just me though...everyone is different...but I find it funny that after running 59 races, I take 2 weeks off from racing and I feel like I don't know what I'm doing when the gun goes off.  That's kind of what happened this week in the Feaster Five (results) in Andover, MA. I entered the 5 Mile race this year instead of the 5k (which was a mistake, considering 16:30 won the damn thing this year).  In the 5 Mile was Nate Jenkins and Matt Ely.  Enough said.  Jenkins went out like his shorts were on fire and Matt wasn't too far behind him.  I stayed back with the SISU project boys (Germain and Miller) for the first couple miles before Matt Germain threw down and dusted Ryan Miller and I.  I was never really in it and labored through the first 2 miles (which are relatively rolly, with much of the first mile uphill).  I kept Ryan close but fell back a few times, only to catch back up on some of the inclines.  He threw in surges, mostly on the dowhills, and would leave me back a ways...then I would catch back up and give him some words to get get him going.  It seemed like it was working and we both worked off of each other, but I let him lead the first 99% of the race.  As we hit the last turn and had about 200 meters up to the finish, I went around him and worked the last hill to secure 4th place.  I was 16 seconds back of Matt Germain who ran a fantastic race.  Jenkins and Ely ran like they usually do and were way out in front, and Ryan was right behind me in 5th.

Quickly, a couple things that erked me about this race... 30 dollar pre-entry fee.  In this economy, that stings a bit...they do put on a great event (with very cool speakers, guests like Joan Benoit Samuelson and Bill Rodgers) but without getting too deep into it, I think that is too much...).  Also, when you run the 8k, you have to turn down into a sea of 1000s of 5k runners for the past 1.5 miles.  They stretch across the entire street, even though there are signs that say that they need to keep to the left, and 8k runners to the right.  This made it a tight squeeze at times.  It isn't the race organizer's fault that this happens, but rather the 1000s of 5k runners, who are out enjoying themselves on Thanksgiving morning, and trying to burn last second calories before indulging in their Thanksgiving feasts the rest of the day.  Most of them don't realize there is another race coming through.  Lastly, a woman simply jumped right in front of me about 50 yards from the finish line and practically knocked me down.  No clue where she came from, but I think she was a 5k runners who wandered into the wrong finishing area.  Other than that, it's a decent event put on by my former club, and it is rich in history and definitely has to be one of the most popular turkey day races anywhere, with 7000+ runners between the two races and the kids race.  I've done it twice already and have run both distances.  Next year will most likely take me to a different Thanksgiving event..maybe the one up in Portsmouth where Casey Carroll won the first annual Turkey Trot 5k.



Splits: 5Miles (8k) 26:10 - 4th of 2728.

Mile 1) 5:26
Mile 2) 5:19 (10:45)
Mile 3) 5:20 (16:05)
Mile 4) 5:05 (21:11)
Mile 5) 4:58 (26:09)

Thanks to Charlie Farrington for the semi-elite number again this year ;)

Pictured to the left is yours truly with David Quintal who was battling a young Anders Samuelson (Joanie's son) towards the end of the race.

Thanks to my Dad for taking some pics of the start and finish.





Feaster Five Video from the Eagle Tribune:




Tomorrow I am planning on doing a trail race for some fun...after that, I'm not sure where the rest of the year will take me....a stop off by Mill Cities next week for sure...then maybe a local race or two but the real focus now is on Woodford, one month from today.  I am praying for some snow SOON in Woodford VT.



Photo of the TRT (Technical Response Team) above from last week's trip up to the Adobe office in Ottawa, ON.  I'm the lad with the tuque on.  Cool eh?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

2010 USATF-NE Road Grand Prix Voting - My Thoughts



The voting has opened for the USATF-NE Road Racing Grand Prix for 2010.  If you are a USATF-NE member, you can vote here: http://www.usatfne.org/road/gpballot2010.html.  I won't get too much into the change in the process for this year, but essentially you are voting on pre-determined groups of races called 'slates'.  I have gone over the schedules and found that there are some obvious conflicts between the races presented in these slates, and other races I have already planned on doing.  There is only 1 slate (Slate D) that has no conflicts of any kind, and I actually like the races in that slate anyways, so I have voted for D.  I listed the races below, with an added column entitled 'Conflicts' which show what other races conflict with the Grand Prix race.  If you are a snowshoer or mountain runner that is interested in running the USATF-NE Mountain series for 2010, you will be interested in this.  If you don't plan on running the mountain series, this really won't apply.   The Marathon Distances are both free and clear of any other race I planned on running.  I voted for Cape Cod simply because I've already run Baystate twice.  I love running in Lowell, but have done it two years in a row and would just like to run a different one.

Non Marathon Distances:


Slate A




Race
Dist
Location
Date
Conflicts





Jones Group Realtors
10M
Amherst MA
February 28 (Sun)
None (Moody Springs on Sat)
New Bedford Half
1/2 Mar
New Bedford MA
March 21 (Sun)
None (Catamount Sunset on Sat)
Bedford Rotary
12K
Bedford NH
May 22 (Sat)
Northfield Mountain
Rhody
5K
Lincoln RI
June 6 (Sun)
Pack Monadnock
Stowe
8M
Stowe MA
July 18 (Sun)
None
Lone Gull
10K
Gloucester MA
September 19 (Sun)
None





Slate B




Race
Dist
Location
Date
Conflicts





New Bedford Half
1/2 Mar
New Bedford MA
March 21 (Sun)
None (Catamount Sunset on Sat)
Medical Center
6K
Nashua NH
May 9 (Sat)
None
Bedford Rotary
12K
Bedford NH
May 22 (Sat)
Northfield Mountain
Rhody
5K
Lincoln RI
June 6 (Sun)
Pack Monadnock
Yankee Homecoming
10M
Newburyport MA
August 3 (Tue)
None
Lone Gull
10K
Gloucester MA
September 19 (Sun)
None





Slate C




Race
Dist
Location
Date
Conflicts





Jones Group Realtors
10M
Amherst MA
February 28 (Sun)
None (Moody Springs on Sat)
New Bedford Half
1/2 Mar
New Bedford MA
March 21 (Sun)
None (Catamount Sunset on Sat)
Bedford Rotary
12K
Bedford NH
May 22 (Sat)
Northfield Mountain
Rhody (Men Only)
5K
Lincoln RI
June 6 (Sun)
Pack Monadnock
Stowe
8M
Stowe MA
July 18 (Sun)
None
Bridge of Flowers
10K
Shelburne Falls MA
August 14 (Sat)
None
Providence Ronald McDonald House Women's Classic(Women Only)
5K
Providence RI
October 3 (Sun)
None





Slate D




Race
Dist
Location
Date
Conflicts





New Bedford Half
1/2 Mar
New Bedford MA
March 21 (Sun)
None (Catamount Sunset on Sat)
Westford (Men Only)
5K
Westford MA
May 2 (Sun)
None
Medical Center
6K
Nashua NH
May 9 (Sat)
None
Stowe
8M
Stowe MA
July 18 (Sun)
None
Yankee Homecoming
10M
Newburyport MA
August 3 (Tue)
None
Lone Gull
10K
Gloucester MA
September 19 (Sun)
None
Providence Ronald McDonald House Women's Classic(Women Only)
5K
Providence RI
October 3 (Sun)
None


Marathon Distances:

Race
Dist
Location
Date
Conflicts






Cape Cod Marathon
Marathon
Falmouth MA
October 31 (Sun)
None
Baystate Marathon
Marathon
Lowell MA
October 17 (Sun)
None


Now, my quick thoughts on the races I picked...

New Bedford Half Marathon - Have run this once and watched it once (was injured in 2009).  I ran pretty slow here over what can be a pretty fast course (DD and DV both ran 1:05 on this course back in the day).  My go at it was in 2008.  I'd like to go back in 2010, older but wiser, and run much faster.

Westford 5k - It's a lot closer than going down to Rhody (at least for me).  I've never run this race, so it would be different.  I've run Rhody twice (2008, 2009).  Nothing can possibly beat the post race spread (foodwise) at Rhody, but Westford doesn't conflict with Pack Monadnock 10 Miler, so I'm going with it.  This is also going to be the GP for men only.

Medical Center 6k - I don't mind this race.  It's in Nashua, which is pretty close, and I actually have a NH State Record on this course (my only one).   Because this is the ONLY 6k in NH, I have the fastest 6k time by a NH Resident at the age of 31.  Also, I am third on the list for NH Men's Open All Time.  Funny thing is, that ALL the NH records were/are set at this race for a 6k, most were from 2008 when this was finally a Grand Prix race (which attracted a bunch of good runners obviously).  I also ran pretty darn slow, as it's not particularly a fast course and I didn't have a great day there...but a better day than any other NH 31 year old :).  If this gets picked for 2010, and you live in NH, and you will be 31 on race day, and you think you can run faster than 19:06, show up here and go for the NH state age record....it's pretty soft ;).

Stowe 8 Miler - I've wanted to run this race for years now.  It's up in Stowe, VT, which is beautiful.  It's a nice road trip for most USATF-NE folk, but I think well worth the effort it takes to get up there and probably stay overnight.  It used to be in the GP and has had some epic battles.  It's a hilly course and usually pretty hot, as it is in mid-July.... This is probably the one I'm looking forward to the most.

Yankee Homecoming 10 Miler - I love this race.  I actually like the fact that it's on a Tuesday, which is a deal breaker for some...but I don't mind it.  The whole town comes out for this one.  Even in the off years that this isn't a GP, it is still loaded.  Just a cool atmosphere, nice course, usually brutally hot...it has all the makings of a great summer road race.  I've run this in 2008 (when it was the GP) and in 2009, where I won my age group and finished 12th overall in a pretty good field.

Lone Gull 10k - I ran this race this past year when it was the GP.  I had my 3rd worst race of the year behind Boston and Bedford.  The course is beautiful and honest, but I just had an off day.  I want to go back and try to redeem myself and would look forward to this being the 10k championship again.

Cape Cod Marathon - I've run 4 marathons now, and 2 of them have been the same (Baystate x2).  I'd just like to try something different, although I've loved running in Lowell.  Either way, I'll be ok with the Marathon picked, but would like to give the Cape a run.  It has historically been the GP Marathon a bunch of times.  Lowell has had the last 2 years.


Voting is for one week, Wednesday 11 November morning through Wednesday 18 November at 11:59 pm (Wednesday night). Results will be posted once they are validated.

Fingers crossed for Slate D + Cape Cod.

Monday, November 9, 2009

USA Trail Marathon Championships


This weekend I ventured out west to Ashland, Oregon to run in the USA Trail Marathon Championships.  This year's event was hosted by the Lithia Loop Marathon, which is put on by the Rogue Valley Runners.  Last year was the first annual event and the course was actually lengthened this year by quite a bit to become a 'certified' marathon distance.

CMS sent out a contingent of 4 brave souls to attempt another National title run (following up the USA Mountain gold that CMS won this past June at Cranmore Mt. in North Conway, NH). I along with Dave Dunham, Dan Verrington, and Judge Jones signed up and headed west to throw ourselves at a very hilly and picturesque course starting and finishing in Lithia Park and circumnavigating the Ashland watershed near Mount Ashland in Ashland, OR.  The course consists of approximately 2 miles pavement, 3.5 miles single track and 21 miles dirt/fire road with an honest 4,700 feet of elevation gain.  This would be my 3rd marathon this year, and my 4th marathon in the last 15 months.


Jonesy and I headed out on Friday morning from Boston and arrived just before Dan Verrington, at Medford International Airport. DD picked us up and off we went, over to the Rogue Valley Runners' store in Ashland to pick up our numbers and race packets. When we got over there, Rich Bolt (CMS/USATF-Oregon) was there to meet us, as well as the dudes from Rogue Valley, who run a VERY cool store.  It was probably the coolest running store I've seen, with lots of great gear and a killer shoe selection which included a pair of road flats I have been looking for and couldn't find anywhere else. We hung out there for a while, met and talked with store manager Ian Torrence, who was thrilled to have us out there,  and then headed across the street to the course start/finish area to do a short run over the last part of the race course.  Rich, Dan, Dave, Judge, and I ran up the road over the last part of the course and took a wrong turn somewhere, but we got the general idea of what we were getting into.  The views and scenery were awesome.  I was getting anxious and excited for the race and felt pretty good, considering sitting in a plane all morning.  After the run, we parted ways with Rich and headed back to the hotel to change and head out to dinner.  We picked Rich up on the way back into town and had a nice dinner before heading back for some shuteye.

In the morning, we all met for a light breakfast and then headed over to the starting area, where Cath dropped us off before continuing up to the 2 mile mark to get some photos. We were one of the first ones there, and headed on in to get our chips (yes chip timing in this trail marathon :) ).  As we sat in Pioneer Hall, laying out all our gear and deciding on what to wear for shoes and clothing, Aaron Saft walked in and plunked his stuff down next to ours.  I went out with him for a 15 or so minute run over the first part of the course and got to chat with him for the first time.  He's a great guy and really down to Earth.  By the time we got back to the start, I was actually pretty warm (even though it was probably in the low/mid 40s).  The sun was teetering on coming out through the thick low cloud cover and the rain was holding off.  I made the decision, after doing the warmup and talking with Aaron, to go with a singlet/shorts and the Inov-8 230's.  As the start time approached, many folk started to make their way up the road (.2 miles up the hill) to the start.  DD and I were the last 2 out of the hall (after a last minute bathroom break) and were cutting it close, when he mentioned that he had just dropped his gloves accidentally in the sink.  They were soaked.  I had an extra pair, in my bag, so we both sprinted back down to the finish area to get them.  It was close, but we made it back up to the start (last ones) in time to get a few strides in before the gun.




Photo above at just shy of 2 miles into the initial 8 mile climb up to close to 5000 feet. L-R: Aaron Saft, Max King, Sam Robinson, and JJ (with Nicholas Lewis in the background).

The Race:

As the gun went off, 2007 Trail Marathon Champ Aaron Saft (Inov-8) went out quick and opened up a 20+ yard lead through the first 3/4 of a mile or so before Max King, Sam Robinson, and myself caught him and formed a tight pack that would lead up through the first 4 or so miles.  Through the first mile, the course is essentially all paved and has a slight climb up to the start of the dirt road, that would encompass most of the next 2+ hours of my life.  The dirt road wound up through the forest with a very similar look and feel to Mt. Washington, although not as steep and every now and again, there was a small break (which you do not get at Mt. Washington).  I was running pretty comfortable, and trying not to fall into the trap of thinking it was an 8 mile race to the summit.  I kept bringing myself back to reality, and reminding myself that I had another 18 miles to go AFTER reaching the first ascent, and not to go too crazy on the way up.  I didn't want to fall completely off the pack however, so I pushed up enough to keep the first 3 guys in sight.  I want to say that even before the 2 mile mark, there was nobody within view behind me except for Nicholas Lewis.  Through 4 miles and about 1600 feet of climb, I started to fall off a bit.  Max took a noticeable lead and Aaron and Sam fell back off the lead but stayed together.  I went up past the first of 5 aid stations somewhere around 4-5 miles or so and passed on water.  Huge mistake. I ran within view of the 3 leaders until close to 7.5 miles or so, where the course goes from the dirt/fire road to single track trail.

When I hit the single track trail, I couldn't see anyone in front or behind me.  I pushed on up the first real 'trail' portion of the race and up past the 8 mile mark, which was painted on the trail (most all the other previous markers were small yellow signs on the side of the road).  This was a tough grind and very steep at times.  The 8th mile was definitely the slowest mile of the course, and was almost 8 minutes for me.  At the top of the single track ascent, there was the 2nd aid station.  I took a small bit of water here (1 cup I think) and pressed on.  I took a GU around this time (I carried two with me).  I felt fine and it was more of a preventative measure at that point of the race.  The main climb was done with, but now came the 12 miles of straight dirt road that wound up and down around the Ashland watershed.  This would prove to be a very lonesome and tough grind for me.


As I pressed along the next few miles, my back started to tighten up a bit.  I felt it in my lower back and hips. I wasn't thinking much of it at the time, but now I know that it was just a sign of things to come.  I noticed some very light flurries happening somewhere around mile 9 or 10, and my sleeves were iced over from where they were wet.  I was comfortable temperature-wise, with only my single/shorts and sleeves, gloves, and hat.  I couldn't have prepared any better, except for the decision to NOT bring any water with me.  Slowly but surely, I started to feel my hamstrings tighten and I hadn't even hit the halfway point yet.   I kept plugging away, but was being very conservative.  It had been a while since I had seen anyone in front or behind me.  I would look back at each turn, up or down the previous long stretch of isolated dirt road to see if anyone was coming.  Nobody back there.  I kept on chuggin', but had to hold back the whole time and was getting very frustrated.  I knew it was coming.  I went through 13 in 1:27 and figured it would be no problem going negative, even with some issues, as it was pretty much mostly downhill from there.  I was wrong.  Right before 15 or so, my right hamstring went.  I'm talking full on cramp up underneath my butt and there was no denying I was in big trouble. Only 15 miles in, and I had to stop.  Completely stop.  I had 11 miles to go, deep in the forest at about 5000+ feet up, and I was at a standstill.  I stopped and stretched for 20 seconds or so and started up again, but it was in slow motion.  I came around the corner and saw the next aid station.  I rolled in there and stopped.  I grabbed some water, electrolytes, and another GU.  I also stretched a bit more and started up again after staring back up the road, just waiting for a glimpse of another runner.  Nobody in sight.

Out of that next aid station, I made it a mile or so without a full on cramp.  Then disaster again.  It popped on me again and this time, both hamstrings were going.  For the next few miles, it was 1-2 stops per mile.  Each with 20 or seconds of deadstop stretching and staring up the hill, looking for the next runner.  17, 18, 19, 20.  I was still moving, downhill, but SLOW.  Even thought I was running in the 6's for pace, it was downhill, that I should have been rocking at 5:50s or faster.  The combination of bad cramping and the initial climb was taking it's toll on my legs.  Cardio-wise and 'bonking-wise' I was fine...in complete control...but my cramps where slowing me down to a literal scuffle and stiff-leg stride that was depressing me with every step.  As I hit the 20 mile mark or so, there was the next aid station.  I stopped again for some water, but this time could almost not keep it down.  I was heaving a bit and having more trouble keeping my composure.  I downed a cup of electrolytes and took a few GU blocks and stretched for a few seconds before continuing on.  From 21-23ish is straight down.  This part of the course, had I not been cramping up, would have easily been my fastest 2+ miles.  It was like running down parts of the Mt. Washington auto road, yet I was reduced to a stiff-legged scuffle and had to stop AGAIN on the way down.   At this point, I was shocked that nobody had caught me yet.  I pushed on thinking that if the rest of the race was like this, I may be able to manage holding 4th.  Not too much further after I had that revelation, I was disheartened to see that the course leveled out and hit single track again.  This meant up and down, up and down, and slow, slow, slow for me.  This was the beginning of the end of my race.  I was essentially walking the uphills here at this point and had to shake out my legs and punch my hamstrings and calves.  My calves were starting to cramp now, worse than ever before.  I've never had this many problems with my legs in anything I've ever done.  And I had 3 miles or so to go.


At this point, I had done all this work and was now pretty sure I was going to lose it. I waddled up and down the single track and hit the last aid station and this time, figured there was no way it was going to help me if I stopped, so I went right past it without taking anything.  I heard a woman say 'nice job' as I went by.  I was still in earshot when I heard her say it again, but this time, knew that the time had come.  She was saying it to someone else who was now right behind me.  The single track started to now wind back and forth, over multiple switchbacks, down to the paved road below.  As I wound down the and looked up at the trail sections I had just been on, I could now see the first runner who was behind me.  The first runner I had seen in 13 or so miles.  To my surprise, it was top master runner and well known coach Greg McMillan (photo left by Cathy Dunham) out of Flagstaff, AZ.  I could tell by his head-to-toe adidas garb.  He looked smooth, steady, and was gaining on me with every step.  I pushed down and scuffled as much as I could without really lifting my legs.  It was so aggravating and borderline depressing at this point that I felt so good but couldn't lift my legs enough to run anything faster than a jog.  I wanted to race so bad but had no muscles willing to cooperate. Not a situation I am used to by any means.

As I hit the bottom of the single track, I was still ahead of Greg, and in the same spot I had been in since the gun.  But I was fighting a losing battle.  I went by Cathy Dunham, who was taking pictures at the base, and I commented to her that I was having problems. Right after that, I hit the paved road and had just over 1 mile to go. I had to stop at that point and stretch out the golfball sized knots in my calves and hamstrings.  Greg came wizzing past me and actually asked me if I was OK. I told him I would manage and congratulated him on how he was about to finish the race and I started to basically walk/jog the last mile down the paved streets to the finish.  I had to stop 3 times on the last street, all the while people cheering me on and trying to lift me up to the finish...but I was at the point where I couldn't even stand up. Walking was borderline excruciating and to jog a few steps, walk a few steps was all I could muster.  I came whimpering across the line, more than 2 minutes back of Greg. He put over 2 minutes on me in the last mile and pushed me back to 5th overall.


It was a very tough day for sure, and the toughest 10 miles of my life, potentially. I am very pleased and excited to have actually run as fast as I did for that course (especially with all my troubles, the nature of the course, etc) and also to have placed 5th in a National Championship.  In retrospect, if I didn't have my problems, and never cramped up as badly as I did, the only thing that would have changed (besides running maybe 5 or 6 minutes faster than I did) was that I would have been 4th instead of 5th. So really, I only lost 1 place, as I was deep in 4th when my troubles started.  I couldn't even see Aaron Saft when I started cramping, so I only really lost 1 place after all that.  I actually didn't lose any prize money because Greg is now a master (he's 40) so he won the top master's money ($500) and I still got the 4th place open cash ($200).  I talked to Greg after and he mentioned that he had never saw me until he went through that last aid station, and they told him I was only '30 seconds ahead'...he said he was shocked to hear that and didn't really see me until I saw him on the final switchback.  Max King (photo on left taken by Cathy Dunham) won the race in an impressive 2:40 (even faster than last year's shorter course).  He did this after running a 2:19:11 at last week's NYC Marathon.  Max is a former USA World Cross Country team member and competed at the 2008 Olympic Trials in the Steeplechase.

After the race, I was surprisingly OK, considering.  I couldn't sit, stand, bend over, or really move at all without a lot of grimacing and yelling, but I wasn't 'medical tent material' like I usually had been, in the last couple of marathons I did.  I was eventually able to change my clothes, get warm, and get some grub while the rest of the finishers came down out of the hills.

CMS teammate Dan Verrington was only 6 or so minutes back and came in a solid 10th place overall.  Dave Dunham came in in 16th place overall (15th Men) and Judge Jones came in in a solid 47th place overall (39th Men).  With just the 4 of us, we did all we needed to do to win the men's team titles (Open and Masters) for the 2nd time this year, in USATF competition.  One interesting side-note...this is Judge Jones' 4th National Title (Team and/or Individual).  He's won a US title in swimming, triathlon, duathlon, and now the trail marathon.


Top 20 Overall + CMS in Blue

Overall
First
Last
Age
City
State
Time
Pace
1
Max
King
29
Bend
OR
2:40:23
6:07
2
Sam
Robinson
24
Berkeley
CA
2:42:54
6:13
3
Aaron
Saft
32
Fletcher
NC
2:48:42
6:26
4
Greg
McMillan
40
Flagstaff
AZ
2:54:50
6:40
5
Jim
Johnson
32
Salem
NH
2:56:57
6:45
6
Andrew
Schupp
29
Portland
OR
2:58:35
6:49
7
Ben
Evans
28
Portland
OR
2:59:15
6:50
8
Ian
Sharman
29
Bend
OR
3:00:36
6:54
9
Nicholas
Lewis
23
Ashland
OR
3:00:50
6:54
10
Dan
Verrington
47
Bradford
MA
3:03:10
6:59
11
Phil
Kochik
31
Seattle
WA
3:03:26
7:00
12
Tim
Olson
26
Ashland
OR
3:06:09
7:06
13
Josh
Ward
34
Mukilteo
WA
3:07:07
7:09
14
Jc
Callans
42
Eagle Point
OR
3:08:25
7:11
15
Cynthia
Arnold
25
Lexington
KY
3:08:42
7:12
16
Dave
Dunham
45
Bradford
MA
3:09:36
7:14
17
Scott
Dunlap
40
Woodside
CA
3:13:43
7:24
18
Becca
Ward
33
Mukilteo
WA
3:16:14
7:29
19
Devon
Crosby-Helms
27
Sausalito
CA
3:16:20
7:30
20
Krissy
Moehl
32
Seattle
WA
3:17:58
7:33
47
Judge
Jones
59
Pelham
NH
3:48:39
8:44



Race Vitals:

Number of Finishers: 143
Number of Females: 42
Number of Males: 101
Average Time: 4:12:34

CMS Medal Winners:

Jim Johnson - 5th Place Medal - USATF Top 10 Open
Jim Johnson - Team Gold Medal - Men's Open
Dave Dunham - 2nd Place medal - USATF Men's 45-49
Dave Dunham - Team Gold Medal - Men's Open
Dave Dunham - Team Gold Medal - Men's Masters
Judge Jones - 2nd Place - USATF Men's 55-59
Judge Jones - Team Gold Medal - Men's Masters
Dan Verrington - 10th Place Medal - USATF Top 10 Open
Dan Verrington - 1st Place Medal - USATF Men's 45-49
Dan Verrington - Team Gold Medal - Men's Open
Dan Verrington - Team Gold Medal - Men's Masters

Total USATF Medal Count for CMS: 11






L-R below: Dan Verrington, Dave Dunham, Jim Johnson, Judge Jones




Splits: Trail Marathon - 26.2

Mile 01) 6:05
Mile 02) 6:23 (12:29)
Mile 03) 7:28 (19:57)
Mile 04) 7:29 (27:26)
Mile 05) 6:52 (34:18)
Mile 06) 7:12 (41:32)
Mile 07) 7:08 (48:41)
Mile 08) 7:57 (56:38)
Mile 09) 6:05 (1:02:45)
Mile 10) 6:29 (1:09:14)
Mile 11) 5:53 (1:15:08)
Mile 12) 6:11 (1:21:20)
Mile 13) 5:57 (1:27:17)
Mile 14) 5:55 (1:33:12)
Mile 15) ?:?? (?:??:??)
Mile 16) ?:?? (1:45:41)
Mile 17) 6:45 (1:52:26)
Mile 18) 6:15 (1:58:42)
Mile 19) 6:22 (2:05:04)
Mile 20) 6:36 (2:11:40)
Mile 21) 6:42 (2:18:47)
Mile 22) ?:?? (?:??:??)
Mile 23) ?:?? (2:31:27)
Mile 24) ?:?? (?:??:??)
Mile 25) ?:?? (?:??:??)
Mile 26) ?:?? (?:??:??)
Finish) 2:56:57 - 6:45 pace.

After the awards and afterparty (with tons of food, beer, etc) we all headed back to the hotel for a while before heading back into town for another dinner with Rich and a couple of his family members.  We ate at the same place again and had a great time talking about the race, the results, and plans for next year.  Then it was time to go back and hit the sack...early flight on Sunday, out of OR at 6, through Denver, and back over to Boston...all with stiff legs/back and jeg lag...not fun. I'm hanging on for dear life while writing this.

My in-race problems aside, I had a blast and will seriously consider going back next year.

In the airport, Jonesy picked up the Mail Tribune (paper in OR) and saw that they actually threw in a small plug for me...here's the online version of the article:

Mail Tribune Article (11-08-09)

Full (Searchable) Results

Photos posted to SmugMug of the trip and race (race photos courtesy of Cathy Dunham).

Thursday, November 5, 2009

USATF Trail Marathon - Pre-Race

Well, in the morning I am off to Ashland, OR to run in the USATF National Trail Marathon Championships.  I'm heading out there with CMS teammates Dave Dunham, Dan Verrington, and Judge Jones.  They are going to try and take the masters team title and I'm shoehorning myself in there to see if we can get a decent open team placement as well (3 to score).  It should be a fun experience and tough grind for sure.  Just looking at the elevation profile makes my quads burn.  Reading the press release, it is obvious there are some good guys running this year, but my initial goal of trying to get top 10 overall, and medal individually at a USATF championship will still be in effect.  One addition that is not noted in the latest Press Release is that Max King (2:19:11 - 18th at NYC this past weekend) is supposedly running this weekend...that's a pretty sick double.  I'm not 'too' far removed from the Baystate Marathon, but haven't done much of anything since, to sharpen up.  I've just been trying to do something every day, a couple of races in between (including this past weekend's 10 mile trail race as a last ditch effort to get familiarized with running fast on trails).  I'm sure I'll have a fun writeup to read either way, when I return home on Sunday.   Doesn't this course look/sound like fun?

Elevation Profile: 





PRESS RELEASE (ripped from Rich Bolt's blog):

Runners can expect much more than the standard marathon “bonk” at this year’s USA Track & Field Trail Marathon Championships. Runners will face an initial eight-mile, 3,200-foot ascent through the steep Siskiyou Mountains that shadow the southern Oregon town of Ashland. The trails and fire roads do flatten out for twelve miles in the middle of the race but maintaining pace may become difficult at the oxygen deprived 5,000 foot level. The final six miles and 3,000 feet of descent will test even the strongest of quads as runners descend on technical single track to the race’s finish at Ashland’s town center, Lithia Park.

Championship prize monies totaling $6000 will be awarded to the top five USA Track & Field male and female finishers as well as the top three USA Track & Field male and female masters finishers.

Last year’s Lithia Loop Trail Marathon winner, Jeff Caba (Bend, OR), is returning to defend his title. Sporting a 2:31:12 at this year’s Twin Cities Marathon, Caba will defend his title against his fellow training partner Andy Martin (Bend, OR). Martin ran a 2:25:46 at Twin Cities, and is no stranger to the trails as his team placed second at this year’s six-day Gore-Tex Trans-Rockies Race.

Chasing these gentlemen will be Thomas Brooks (Eugene, OR) who placed third in the steeple at the 2007 USA Track & Field Championships with a time of 8:27.34. Aaron Saft (Fletcher, NC) who won the 2007 USAT&F Trail Marathon Championships in 2:30:53. Phil Kochik (Seattle, WA) who won the 2004 USAT&F 50 Mile Trail Championships. Mark Godale (Aurora, OH) who sports personal records of 2:30 in the marathon, 3:17 in the 50 kilometer and 7:08 in the 100 kilometer distance.

In the women’s race, the two race favorites are Devon Crosby-Helms (Sausalito, CA) and Krissy Moehl (Seattle, WA). Crosby-Helms brings with her a time of 2:49:50 at the 2008 California International Marathon and a 2:53:20 at this year’s Boston Marathon. She also has wins at the 2008 Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run and this year’s Vermont 50 Mile Run. Moehl hopes to cap a stellar year which includes a victory in France’s 103-mile Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc and her runner-up position at the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run.

Also heating up is the competition for the men’s master’s title. Dan Verrington (Bradford, MA) ran a 3:25:22 at this year’s USAT&F 50 Kilometer Championships. Verrington will be chased by his fellow club mate (Central Mass Striders) Dave Dunham (Bradford, MA) who finished runner-up in the 2001 JFK 50 Mile and 2001 USAT&F 50 Mile Trail Championships. Greg McMillan (Flagstaff, AZ), of McMillan Elite, will vie for the title as well, as he sports a personal record of 2:31:58 in the marathon.

Race Directors:
Hal Koerner & Ian Torrence
Rogue Valley Runners
(541) 201-0014
2009 USA Track & Field Trail Marathon Championships
Lithia Loop Trail Marathon
Ashland, Oregon
November 7, 2009

Monday, November 2, 2009

Busa Bushwack 10 Mile Trail Race


Sunday I decided to go down to Framingham, MA to run in the Busa Bushwack 10 Mile Trail Race (results).  This was the second to last race in the WMAC Grand Tree series for 2009.  The race has two options, a 5.3 mile version, and a 10 mile version.  This year's longer course is a new 10 mile version (the older version was 9.3 miles and didn't feature one of the new hills that this year's course has).  The race was also a celebration for Rich Busa who just turned 80 years young.

In looking at the previous years results (of the 9.3 mile course) it was clear that Greg Hammett (CMS) (2007, 2008 winner) was a frequent flyer, as was Ben Nephew (CMS) (2006 winner).  I figured both would show, plus a couple others, and I was right.  In addition to Ben and Greg, there were a few others there that have been known to mix it up at the front, including BAA's Josh Gordon and GBTC's Andrew Wommack.  I figured it would be a good race up front and it certainly was.

There was a good pack of us that started up the first quarter mile of the road to the trailhead.  I was about 5th into the woods as Greg and Ben were up front and pushing the pace.  By 4-5 minutes in, I was right up behind the two of them and we stayed together as a group for the next 5-6 miles.  I was weaving from side to side continuously behind the two of them, trying to get a good view of what I was stepping on.  It was so wet and the entire course was covered in wet leaves that were hiding the continuous occurrence of wet rocks, roots, and mud patches.  It seemed that over the first few miles, every other step I took resulted in a near disaster.  Greg and Ben were struggling with this too.  I was running, at times, too close to the back of them to see the course properly as well.  During the first couple miles, Andrew Wommack pulled up behind us and stayed there for a mile or so before falling back.  After a couple of near wrong turns (one in which I took the lead reluctantly for a few seconds before letting Ben and Greg back in), at somewhere between 5-6 miles, Greg started to fall back.  We hit one of the big climbs out onto a field and Greg fell back 10+ yards or so, and then farther back on the next climb, as I pulled right up beside Ben.  Over the next mile, Greg started to catch back up as Ben and I pushed on.  With the next few climbs, we put more distance on Greg again, but I was thinking that he was running strategically back there and staying close enough to be within striking distance when we hit the roads...  My plan at this point was to stay right on Ben and try to take him on the road portion (the last 3/4 of a mile or so).   We continued to push on and Ben liked to throw mini surges on some of the downhill and more technical parts.  I would match every surge and relax on the climbs.  With less than a couple miles to go, we started a big decent down a very tough part of the course in which you were going against others still making their way out on the course.  Not too soon after that, there was a sharp right turn to head back to the road and the last part of the trail.  I had just decided to take a small lead here for the first time.  Just after making a small move, I missed the right turn and tried to catch it at the last minute.  Ben took the turn as he should have and I overshot it by a few steps.  As I turned to try to make it, I slid on the wet leaves and went knee-first into a tree.  It immediately stunned me and I shouted out in pain.  Ben turned back to yell a quick 'you ok?' to which I said 'yeah, I just bashed my knee' but then tried to keep hobbling after Ben.  He pushed up the last climb up to the road and I fell behind a bit but then caught up, as my knee began to tighten.  I looked down and saw some blood welling up on the tip of the knee, but the tightness was what I was worried about.  Just before coming out of the trail, I caught back up to Ben and he was breathing a little heavier than before.  Even with my knee, I knew I had to go as soon as we hit the road.   With my first stride onto the pavement, I opened up my pace to probably just under 6 minute pace (estimation) which was faster than we were just going for sure.   I had about 3/4 of a mile or so, so I wanted to be somewhat conservative, but still try to leave Ben back as much as I could.  He let me go and I powered up a small incline and down a nice hill to the last straight before the climb up through the last neighborhood and to the finish line.  I overshot the finish line turn by a few steps an had to hurdle a couple bushes to get back onto the course and down to the chute.  In the end, I was able to put about 15 seconds on Ben and sneak in for the win in 1:00:48.  Ben and Greg were 2,3 to give CMS the sweep (although Greg didn't officially declare CMS for some reason ;) ).

Here's a cool interview with Rich Busa himself.




Top 10 Overall (out of 186) with CMS in blue

Place
Last
First
City
Age
Split
Pace
Team
1
Johnson
Jim
Salem, NH
32
1:00:48
6:05:00
CMS
2
Nephew
Ben
Mansfield, MA
34
1:01:03
6:06:00
Inov-8/CMS
3
Hammett
Greg
Chesterfield, NH
32
1:02:23
6:14:00
CMS
4
Wommack
Andrew
Jamaica Plain, MA
26
1:03:21
6:20:00
GBTC
5
Johnston
Bryan
Keene, NH
30
1:05:53
6:35:00
6
Hannon
Dave
West Roxbury, MA
38
1:06:03
6:36:00
7
Pacher
Donald
Easthampton, MA
37
1:06:35
6:40:00
Noho Brew
8
Condon
Timothy
Weymouth, MA
23
1:06:50
6:41:00
9
Krause
Ross
Easthampton, MA
29
1:07:16
6:44:00
RunReg.com
10
Gordon
Joshua
Boston, MA
35
1:08:04
6:48:00
BAA


Lastly, for giggles, here is a picture of the crew at Halloween, thanks to Jon Healey, who hosted his 2nd annual Halloween party at his new house in Chelmsford, MA.

L-R: Nate Jenkins (as Béla Károlyi), Melissa Donais (as Kerri Strug), Jeff Bartlett (as himself), Linsey Cohen (as Bert), Dan Vassallo (as Kenny Anderson), Double J (as Dan Verrington), Jon Healey (as 007), Matt Pimentel (as Ernie), and Kara Haas (as Holly Golightly).