Sunday, March 27, 2011

Training 03-21 to 3-27

Wrap Up: 82.5 miles for the week.  1 good race to wrap up a big month of racing.  I only raced 4 times this month but they were all big races and ES20 was the last of them.  I can honestly say I'm happy with my last 4 'big' races and would never have imagined pulling it together for all these in 4 weeks.  From the 50k, to Snowshoe Nationals, to New Bedford, to Eastern States, I have managed to hang tough and squeeze them all in without getting spread too thin.  I did back off the mileage just a bit to manage all these races, but I came back stronger this week with an 80+ mile week and a great effort in pretty tough conditions on Sunday.  I feel good though and that's a huge plus.  March has historically been rough on me and I'm almost out of this one without any issues (fingers crossed).  I have also been dipping back in the trails... gotta love that!

03-27 - Sunday: 21.5 miles (roads) - 1.5 mile w/up (about a mile w/ Pat Moulton + more easy running and strides down to the starting line in Kittery, ME) + 20 mile race - Eastern States 20 Miler - 2nd OA - 1:51:35 (5:35 pace).  Cooldown was getting the bus back to the Ashworth Hotel where I proceeded to eat about 600 large jelly beans, 30-40 cookies, 4 slices of pizza, a bowl of soup, bread, 12 cups of Gatorade, and 3 Root Beers.  I was hungry and thirsty afterwards.  Race report to follow.

03-26 - Saturday: 8 miles (trails) - River trail from hotel to powerlines and back with Dave Quintal.  Nice and easy. [1:02:07].

Another 6 minutes of the 2010 Mount Washington Road Race raw footage. Watch in HD!

03-25 - Friday: 10.5 miles (roads) - Salem, Methuen, Haverhill - Hampstead/Lake loop. Steady. [1:07:40].

03-24 - Thursday: 10 miles (trails) - river trail from hotel with Mike Quintal and Ryan Miller.  [1:08:20]. Snowing pretty good at the beginning. Trails had very light snow-cover for most of the time.  Saw two deer.

03-23 - Wednesday: 12.5 miles (trails) - Andover trails w/ Kevin Alliette.  Distance from Kevin's Garmin.  Merrimack River trail to Deer Jump Reservation, then across Forest Hill Wetlands, John & Marie Boloin Reserve, and down to Golden Oaks Green Area.  We ran up Wood Hill and around all the radio towers, back down the other side, and then headed back.  [1:32:49]. Good run. Only saw one other person and 2 big deer over near the 495.  Wore the new Inov-8 Oroc 340s I just got this week.  This was my first run in them and I am really digging these shoes, especially on the wet trails around this time of year.  They offered great traction on some of the steeper climbs.  I may have found my new favorite shoe for longer trail runs.   Good review here.

03-22 - Tuesday: 8 miles (roads) - Andover, Lawrence w/ Mike Quintal and Matt Pimentel.  First mile solo, then a wiffleball and football break, then 7 more miles with the lads. [57:43].  Easy does it...

Another (shorter) section of the Mount Washington Road Race from 2010... Watch in HD! (a longer clip to come maybe tomorrow).

03-21 - Monday: 12 miles (trails) - river trail from hotel with additional loop / add-on w/ Matt Pimentel.  [1:25:15].  Legs feel good.  Ran in the snow though.  Snowed the whole day and then the whole time running.  Trails were in decent shape although snow covered in many spots.  Still a lot of deep snow along the power lines.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

New Bedford Half Marathon

On Sunday I picked up new CMS stud Chris Mahoney and headed down south (stopping in Norwood, MA to pick up mountain man Kevin Tilton) to the New Bedford Half Marathon (results) in New Bedford, MA.  I was a little skeptical of my ability to bust out a fast one, but I did have some confidence that even with being stretched rather thin lately, I could still muster out enough of a performance to help the team do well.  I really didn't sweat this race too much ahead of time. I really took it easy and tried not to think about it or worry about it too much.  The Grand Prix events are usually loaded and sometimes it's hard for me to run well when I'm floundering in 30th place, so I've started to really not think too too much about these Grand Prix events ahead of time.  I just try to be as fit as I can and show up and give it my all on that particular day with what I have bring to the table.

After landing an f'ing sweet parking space, Chris, Kevin, and I met up with a bunch of the CMS boys including Andy McCarron, Greg Ward, Scott Leslie, Jim Pawlicki, Joe Shairs, etc.  By the time the warmup came around, we had somehow split up into a couple of groups, but we managed a 2.5-3 mile warmup over the picturesque side streets of New Bedford before heading back to put on the racing gear and head over to the line.  Chris, Kevin, and myself arrived at the start as they were singing the anthem and quickly squeezed between the barriers to get on the line.  I lined up about 3-4 rows back and that was about as good as it was gonna get.  It was a tight squeeze, but I was mixed right in with the right folks and before I could really think of the fact that I got to do zero strides or stretching, the gun was fired.

I weaved in and out of runners for the first quarter mile or so before settling in in a large pack of yellow BAA jerseys.  The first half mile or so of these Grand Prix events are usually a who's who of local talent all unsure of where to be, who to be next to, or what pace to run.  I was no stranger to that crew.  I was looking around, noticing who was going to be coming along for the ride and saw Greg Hammett pull up along side.  I knew running with Greg was a great idea and just thought that if I could stick with him for as long as I could, like last year, I'd be setup great for the later stages of the race.  I matched him for the first mile or so, making sure that when he made a little bit of a move up through some guys, I'd follow.  I was hoping for a crew of CMS guys like last year and figured we'd get that a couple miles in (or at least by 4 miles like last year).

As the pack thinned out a bit, I could see that the race up front was going to be a 1 man show, with Ruben Sanca just blasting away on his own.  Dan Vassallo (adidas NE) was running his own race in 2nd and it didn't look like anyone wanted a part of him either.  After that, it was pack 1 of BAA followed by pack 2 of BAA, then us.  I could see Rob Gomez (Dirigo) up ahead as well as Brandon Newbould (Whirlaway) and David Bedoya (GBTC).  It was easy to pick them out because they were the only ones not wearing the yellow and blue of the BAA.  Greg and I just kept chuggin' away and went through the first mile in 5:16, then the second mile in 5:19.  When I saw the 5:19 I thought back to last year, when I averaged 5:22 pace for the whole race. I thought that if I hit 5:19 on mile 2, I was in trouble for sure.  I didn't think I was going to be able to keep under the previous years pace because I just don't seem to run faster, later in races like this.  Last year I was able to keep up a good clip and actually turn it on over the last 5k, but I had always thought of last year as sort of a fluke race.  I got concerned this year with the first couple miles but I just tried to relax and not think too much about what was going on.  I didn't try to think about what was left or what I needed to run per mile after that.  I focused on just staying with Greg and working the hills that you get in the 3rd and 4th miles, and relaxing as much as I could.

The third mile was a slight improvement (clicking through in 5:18), as Greg and I pushed up the beginning of the hills and battled back and forth with Joseph Ekuom (eventual DNF I think) who seemed to surge back and forth in the early stages of the race.  I still had some doubts about the pacing but felt nice and relaxed.  We hit the hills and slowed significantly over the 4th mile and not too long after beginning the long, steady downhill past mile 4, I heard the familiar sound of the women's lead vehicle roaring right behind us.  Right on queue with last year, Kim Smith (NZL - Reebok) came whizzing by us, surrounded by 3 BAA guys.  This time (unlike last year), it was just Greg and I in our own little pack of CMS guys (last year there was 6 of us). And also, this year, Kim just kept going.  She didn't settle in with us like last time.  Not too long after she went by with the pack of BAA guys, Chris Mahoney showed up right behind us and settled in.  It seemed to be about a mile or so after that that I somehow managed to up the tempo just a little bit without really thinking about it. I think it was because of the steady, slight downhill, and concentrating on just forgetting about what was ahead and focusing on running the current pace on that current mile...taking it one mile at a time.  I dropped a 5:10 5th mile and cruised through 5 in 26:32.  I had opened up a small lead on Greg and Chris but refused to look back to see how far or who else was with them.   I was hoping it was MQ and Kevin and the rest of the CMS guys, but I was now really setting my sights on Kim Smith up ahead and the small pack she was running with, which now seemed to have caught up with Brandon Newbould.  I had also passed and dropped Joseph who did try to hang on for a bit.  Kim and the BAA pack were a good 200 meters + up on me, maybe more at that point.  I also thought about my 10 mile split just for a second and figured that even if I were to duplicate my first 5, my 10 mile split would only be 53:04.  It would be better than my 53:45 split from last year, but considering I was less than confident I'd be even able to match my first 5 miles over the second 5 miles, I figured I'd be looking at an OK race but not a PR.  I didn't want to dwell on that any longer and instead, once again forced myself to focus just on catching that pack that lay ahead.  I knew it would take me a couple miles, but I thought it could happen.

Miles 6,7 , and 8 were more of the same, as I steadily crept up on Kim and the pack.  I threw down a 5:13, 5:16, and a 5:12 and by 8 I had caught up to and passed David Bedoya who had run into some problems and  pulled off to the side of the road right as I caught him.  Over the 8th mile, I got really close to Brandon Newbould and just exactly as we went over the 9th mile mark (at the crest of the hill before coming down to the water), I went past him.  He seemed to react slightly as I went by, but then settled back down as I pushed ahead and up to the next BAA guy who had dropped off of Kim.  As we took the turn onto the main road along the water, the wind hit me from the side and it was pretty strong at times but wasn't a direct headwind.  I managed to go past the first BAA guy and set my sights on the next one.  Eventually, right around mile 10, I caught up to Kim Smith who was running right next to the lead women's vehicle.  She was right with another BAA runner and as I passed them, I could feel them adjust just slightly and try to stay with me.  I just kept thinking that I had been catching them for miles and even though they were now right behind me, if I just keep going the way I'm going, I'll be able to drop them.  I also knew that Kim was most likely just doing a workout (which didn't make me feel too much better about myself ;) )... but I knew she was running faster than last year.

I ticked through 10 in 53:07, making my second 5 miles 26:35.  I quickly did the calculation and that gave me a huge mental boost.  Not only did I run essentially even for the first two 5 mile splits, but I had also caught and passed a bunch of runners and had not been passed by anyone since mile 4 (all of those runners being the ones I caught back by mile 10).  I also remember last year, over the last 5k.  I rocked to the tune of 16:19, even up that mile long hill. I felt great going through 10 in 53:07 and knew I had 38 seconds to work with (as my 2010 split was 53:45).  Because I had Kim and a BAA runner now right behind me, and one right in front of me, I turned it on just a bit and came through the 11th mile in my fastest split of the day (5:09).  I passed the last BAA runner who had been in the pack with Kim and now looked up the hill as we turned onto the last main street, to see 3 more BAA runners within sight of me.  I started to think that I could catch them all and proceeded to chug up the hill as strong as I could, while holding off everyone behind.  I didn't want to look but was hoping that Greg and Andy and Chris and Kevin and MQ and everyone else was right there.  All I could do was control my own race however, and kept working up the hill to the sound of the crowd cheering all of us on (and reminding me that Kim was right behind).

I went past Dave Dunham (on the sidelines) right before 12 miles and he told me I was in 12th place and that Kim Smith was right behind me  (I could still hear the truck).  I glanced at my watch as I passed by the 12th mile marker (which I think was the only marker on the course that didn't have a clock). I saw 63:30 and quickly did the math, assuming that I'd be high '30's over my last .1, meaning I'd have to just go sub 6 for my last mile, which I knew I wouldn't have a problem with.  It was the first time all day I thought I'd have a shot at sub 1:10.  Ticking past the 12 mile mark, you are still chugging uphill but the facts that 1) Kim Smith was still lingering behind me (as well as the BAA dudes) and 2) that there were 3 BAA guys withing sight right in front of me, kept me going strong up the last incline.  The last stretch as you pass the McDonalds and can see ahead for quite some time before the last righthand turn onto the final block, is brutal.  It seems to last forever.  The crowd was great and there were people on the sides telling me to go after the guys in yellow.  I think the fact that 9 of the top 11 guys were from BAA made a non-BAA uniform stand out for sure.  I ticked through 13 in under 1:09 and seemed to be still within striking distance of Mike Fisher and Brendan Callahan from BAA, but I'd be willing to bet that we were all running about the same pace for our last .1.  I was catching them over the last couple miles but simply ran out of race.  In the end,  I came through in 1:09:20 for a new PR, an improvement by 2 places from last year (finishing in 12th place), and an unexpected sub 1:10.  I think I have a sub 1:09 in me for certain but with the 50K, snowshoe season (including nationals last week), an interrupted sleep pattern with cross country road trip, and absolutely zero speed work or tempo runs of any kind, I'll take it for sure.  I was also very pleased to have run another fast 5k to close out the race.  I ran 16:19 last year and 16:13 this year over the last 5k.

As I crossed the line and quickly congratulated a couple of the guys in front of me, I turned to see Brandon Newbould come across in a good time, indicating that he hung tough over the last 5k and didn't drop back like I thought he might (given the way he came back earlier in the race).  But I was absolutely thrilled to see that right behind Brandon, came Greg Hammett and Andy McCarron charging in with a couple other guys.  I quickly caught a glimpse of them as they came charging in and pumped my fist as I looked up at the clock and realized they were right behind me and only a few guys back (giving us a very strong top 3)...but only a couple seconds later I heard the announcer calling names out of finishers and hear Mike Quintal's name.  I could feel my jaw drop and looked out on the last stretch to see him coming but could not...then I realized he was already in the finish chute!  He had run a HUGE PR, as had all of us in the top 4 for CMS.  He came in in 1:10:36 (cutting down his PR by 4+ minutes).  I literally stood there waiting to give him a high five for 10 seconds or so and then saw to my absolute delight, our 5th man, Scott Leslie, come rocking in just under 1:11 (1:10:56) for yet another PR and an obvious second place team finish.  I was absolutely pumped.  I haven't been this excited after a race because of a team finish in a long long time.  To have 5 guys under 1:11 and all right behind each other was fantastic.  To know we did this while also missing a couple of key guys was also a really nice know we stepped it up and filled shoes... and though we got smoked by the BAA contingent, we held our own and did the best we could, as we all ran personal best times and put the hurt down on the rest of the teams.  Not bad for a bunch of trail, snowshoe, and mountain guys ;).  The rest of the CMS crew filled in nicely, with Greg Ward and Jeff Goupil also running PRs and Chris Mahoney just missing one.


mile 01) 5:16
mile 02) 5:19 (10:35)
mile 03) 5:18 (15:54)
mile 04) 5:27 (21:22) (hills)
mile 05) 5:10 (26:32)
mile 06) 5:13 (31:45)
mile 07) 5:16 (37:02)
mile 08) 5:12 (42:15)
mile 09) 5:32 (47:48) (hill/wind)
mile 10) 5:19 (53:07)
mile 11) 5:09 (58:17)
mile 12) 5:13 (63:30)
mile 13) 5:15 (68:46)
last .1 )   :37 (69:22)

Avg. Pace per mile: 5:18
Fastest mile: 5:09 (11th mile).
Slowest mile: 5:32 (9th mile).

1st 5M split: 26:32
2nd 5M split: 26:35
10M split: 53:07 (technically a 10M PR).
Last 5k: 16:13 (6 seconds faster than last year).

Top 25 Plus CMS Men in Blue:

Place Name Age City/State Time Pace Team
1 RUBEN SANCA       24 Dorchester MA 1:05:25 5:00 BAA          
2 DAN VASSALLO      25 Reading MA      1:06:59 5:07 Adidas NE 
3 NATHAN KRAH       25 Boston MA 1:07:42 5:11 BAA          
4 DAN SMITH         32 Cambridge MA    1:07:48 5:11 BAA          
5 PATRICK MOULTON   29 Providence RI   1:07:57 5:12 BAA          
6 JUSTIN FYFFE      30 E.Dummerson VT 1:08:01 5:12 BAA          
7 ROBERT GOMEZ      27 Saco ME         1:08:23 5:14 Dirigo       
8 MATTHEW ELY       34 Natick MA 1:08:42 5:15 BAA          
9 COLMAN HATTON     23 Brighton MA 1:09:00 5:16 BAA          
10 BRENDAN CALLAHAN  29 Middletown CT 1:09:10 5:17 BAA          
11 MIKE FISHER       27 Brookline MA 1:09:16 5:18 Baa          
12 JIM JOHNSON       33 Salem NH 1:09:21 5:18 CMS          
13 JARED MARKOWITZ   28 Cambridge MA    1:09:37 5:19 BAA          
14 KIMBERLY SMITH    29 Providence RI   1:09:50 5:20 Reebok       
15 ANDREAS HEILMANN  26 Boston MA 1:10:00 5:21 BAA          
16 ROGER DONAGHY     32 S. Boston MA 1:10:02 5:21 BAA          
17 BRANDON NEWBOULD  29 Nottingham NH 1:10:16 5:22 Whirlaway    
18 PATRICK FOURNIER  35 Rome ME         1:10:27 5:23 Dirigo       
19 GREG HAMMETT      33 Chesterfield NH 1:10:27 5:23 CMS          
20 ANDY MCCARRON     28 Keene NH 1:10:32 5:23 CMS          
21 HARI IYER         23 Cambridge MA    1:10:33 5:24 BAA          
22 MIKE QUINTAL      33 N. Andover MA   1:10:37 5:24 CMS          
23 DANIEL LOUNSBURY  28 Cambridge MA    1:10:46 5:25 NB Boston    
24 SCOTT LESLIE      29 Rutland MA 1:10:56 5:25 CMS          
25 MATTHEW GERMAIN   28 Haverhill MA    1:10:56 5:25 Sisu Project 
33 CHRIS MAHONEY     33 Haverhill MA    1:11:28 5:28 CMS          
36 GREG WARD         39 West Boylston MA 1:11:44 5:29 CMS          
60 JIM PAWLICKI      36 Beverly MA 1:14:01 5:39 CMS          
65 JEFF GOUPIL       23 Keene NH 1:14:16 5:41 CMS          
69 KEVIN TILTON      29 Conway NH 1:14:42 5:43 CMS          
72 GEORGE ADAMS      40 Gilsam NH       1:14:46 5:43 CMS          
93 JOE SHAIRS        42 Peabody MA 1:16:40 5:52 CMS     
95 DAN VERRINGTON    48 Bradford MA 1:16:49 5:52 CMS          
136 DANIEL FORD       26 Spencer MA      1:19:47 6:06 CMS          
137 JOHN PAJER        48 Leicester MA    1:19:52 6:06 CMS          
158 ERNESTO SOTO      33 Worcester MA    1:21:36 6:14 CMS          
202 DAVID QUINTAL     47 Salem MA        1:24:10 6:26 CMS   
312 RAFE JONES        34 Worcester MA    1:28:34 6:46 CMS   
331 MARTY ELLOWITZ    56 Hubbardston MA  1:28:56 6:49 CMS 
401 JOSEPH ALFANO     45 Holden MA       1:30:55 6:58 CMS   
520 KEN STAFFORD      61 Auburn MA       1:34:58 7:16 CMS       
620 BRIAN SAVILONIS   60 Princeton MA    1:37:39 7:28 CMS  
1021 WALTER KUKLINSKI  62 Princeton MA    1:48:57 8:20 CMS 

2369 Total Finishers.

                         MALE OPEN TEAM RESULTS
   1.  BAA                           
          1:05:26 1:07:44 1:07:49 1:07:58 1:08:02 (1:08:43) (1:09:02) = 5:36:59
   2.  CMS                           
          1:09:22 1:10:28 1:10:33 1:10:38 1:10:58 (1:11:29) (1:11:46) = 5:51:59
   3.  Whirlaway                     
          1:10:17 1:11:20 1:11:25 1:11:37 1:12:45 (1:14:22) (1:14:52) = 5:57:24
   4.  Greater Boston Track Club     
          1:11:50 1:12:36 1:13:27 1:13:39 1:14:45 (1:15:06) (1:15:50) = 6:06:17
   5.  GREEN MOUNTAIN AA             
          1:11:16 1:11:28 1:13:53 1:16:16 1:17:04 (1:17:54) (1:18:53) = 6:09:57

- 24 open teams scored for men.

After the race, we cooled down again with essentially the same crew.  My hips and hamstrings were pretty tight, but I seemed to have avoided catastrophe.  I shuffled along on the cool down and then we headed over to the post-race festivities to get some grub and take a peek at the results.  It was a great day for the team and technically the second Grand Prix in a row, where all the scoring members of CMS set PRs.  Back at the end of last year, all 3 scoring members of CMS (Andy, Me, and Scott) all set PR's for the marathon at Baystate.  This year's New Bedford Half saw all 5 (and then some) scorers set PRs.  Awesome!

Photos used here by Krissy K and Scott Mason.

Krissy K - Smugmug
Scott Mason - Smugmug

Videos of the finish are up on Youtube.  This one (below) is where our top guys all finish.  The magic starts happening 1:26 in :)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Training 03-14 to 3-20

Wrap Up: 68.2 miles for the week on 6 days.  Took a zero on Monday because of the travel across country.  I am very pleased with the race on Sunday, seeing I had the 50k 2 weekends ago, then snowshoe nationals last week with a long road trip back.  No sleep at all on Sunday (literally) and Monday / Tuesday I was a zombie.  Just starting to get back into training, but I am somehow hanging onto some fitness and it's just working right now.  Hips and legs are a bit trashed up but this is another big race out of the way and so far things are going well.  This week I hope to get back up over 80 and do so for a couple weeks before taking it back down again for the Boston Marathon, which is just going to be a fun race. If I run well, great...If I don't, it's OK.  I really haven't thought too much about that race and maybe that's a good thing...  VERY proud of the CMS guys who rocked today in the New Bedford Half Marathon.  Just really pumped about the performances and the tight group we had.  5 guys in the top 24 and all 5 scoring members under 1:11!!!!  Mike Quintal with a HUGE PR.  Scott Leslie w/ a big race and PR as well.  Just really feeling great about the team effort right now.  I haven't been that happy after a race because of a team performance in a long long time.

03-20 - Sunday: 18.1 miles (roads) in New Bedford, MA.  2.5 (approx) w/up w/ Mahoney, Tilton, Ward, Leslie, and McCarron + New Bedford Half Marathon (12th OA - 1:09:20) + 2.5 (approx) c/down w/ the same lads. Race write up to follow.

03-19 - Saturday: 8.1 miles (roads) in Salem, Methuen, Haverhill (solo). Late run, as I was dragging all day.  I got up super early to go run w/ some folks but never got off the couch after sitting down with my coffee.  Did a bunch of cleaning in the yard and garage and then took a nap.  The day got away from me.  Ended up running at around 5:30pm, but that doesn't really bother me.  Ran in the adios for the first time since the 50k (and only the second time ever). [53:07] Gonna roll in those tomorrow and see what happens. Not really caring one way or the other about the half tomorrow.  With the 50k and snowshoe out of the way, I'm really not looking forward to anything other than Mt. Washington...but I'll run like a million races between then and now of course ;).

03-18 - Friday: 10 miles (roads) in Methuen w/ Kevin Alliette (and his trusty Garmin). Steady run and just a tad bit of trails and one killer hill. [1:06:38].  Kevin claimed this to be his 2nd fastest 10 miler in a year.  It was WARM out.  Shot hoops at Methuen HS beforehand w/ Alliette.

Even more Mount Washington stuff.. below is the next 6+ minutes (giving you more because it's FRIDAY!)... this look takes us from past halfway, up to the unpaved section through the fifth mile.  Watch in HD!!!!

03-17 - Thursday: 10.5 miles (roads) in Salem, Methuen, Haverhill (solo).  [1:08:18]. Decent run. Felt OK. Beautiful weather out this afternoon.

More Mount Washington stuff... below is the next 5 minutes or so of footage going through the halfway mark and following the epic battle between Blake and Siemers.  Watch it in HD!!!

03-16 - Wednesday: 10 miles (trails) in Andover, MA - Merrimack River Trail.  Wet, muddy, snowy, icy in spots.  Deep snow still in shady sections. Icy and slow along the ridges.  Still managed to run 1:11:55 even with having to tip toe quite a bit on ice.

More Mt. Washington footage below...this is a rather short clip (more long clips to come) but it was the next few smaller clips put together.  Don't forget to watch it in HD!!!

03-15 - Tuesday: 11.5 miles (roads) in Lawrence, Andover, MA from GTD workout site with the brothers-Healey.  Legs starting to feel better after the last couple weekend's of big races and a 30 hour marathon driving session across the country.

03-14 - Monday: day off.  Drove from 3:40pm Sunday afternoon (Central Time) straight through 9 states, non-stop w/ Kevin Tilton and arrived in Boston at 3:36pm (Eastern Time) (just 4 minutes ahead of having to pay for another day's car rental).  No stopping other than to refuel (both the car and us).  No sleep.  No time for a run.  We technically started the driving at around 11am CST on Sunday from Hayward, WI to Minneapolis, MN (3 hours or so).  Then from MN to MA (25 hours).  Then bus to South Station.  Then the commuter rail from South Station in Boston to Norwood Depot in Norwood, MA.  Then walk 3 blocks to get Kevin's car at his aunt's house.  Then drive from Norwood, MA to Salem, NH.  Essentially we were on the go from 11am CST Sunday to 7pm EST on Monday.  Without sleeping, we were both beat.  I was NOT going to be a hero and try to squeeze in a couple miles in the dark.

Friday, March 18, 2011

US Snowshoe Nationals

This past weekend I closed out the snowshoe season by heading out to the US Snowshoe National Championship in Cable, WI.  This year, the race was held at Lakewoods Resort in Cable and I would be joined by CMS teammates Kevin Tilton and Tim VanOrden.  After racing the 50K just 6 days earlier, I was a little skeptical that I would be able to race an effective 10K on snowshoes, but I had already booked the trip and was determined to close out the season at the biggest dance that snowshoe racing has to offer.

K-Tilt and I headed down to Norwood, MA on Thursday night and stayed down at his wife's aunt and uncle's house and then caught the train into the airport in Boston on Friday morning.  We caught the same flight as the legendary Rich Busa and rolled into Minneapolis in time to meet up with Tivo who had flown in from White Plains.  From there, Tim, Kevin, and I got our rental car and headed up for the 3+ hour drive north, into northern Wisconsin.  Along the way, the snow cover on the side of the road, in the woods, and on the fields we drove through was less than ideal.  It almost looked like the conditions were going to be suspect, but we knew we had some ways to go and some elevation to gain, so we had hopes that the snow would be up where we were racing.  We drove straight up to the race site and got there just as the sun was going down.  One the way, we noticed how remote of an area this was and just how much of a problem deer were on the roads.  There had to have been 10 or so dead deer along the way plus many groups of live deer we spotted as we rolled north through farmlands and thick forest.  We even saw a random dog trying to drag a deer carcass along the side of the road.  Once we pulled into Lakewoods, we got on the snowshoes and headed out on the course to try to do at least some of it for our run.  We didn't use headlamps and pretty soon we were running in the pitch dark, but we did notice that most of the course we were running on was on a VERY hilly golf course and there wasn't any single track in sight.  It was all groomed trail.  We struggled to see the flags and make heads or tails of where the course went.  We did see that there were a few hills on the course that were crazy-steep.  A couple of them were so steep, I knew I'd need to put the hands out and grab the snow on the way up.  We did only a few miles, as it was now pitch dark, but we got a good idea of how the course was laid out and what the conditions were going to be like.  The course was completely snow covered but we knew that a couple of more warm days and it would start to show bare ground in spots.

After running/walking part of the course, we headed inside the lodge to scout the place out a bit and talk to some of the shoers that were already there registering and having dinner.  Then we headed back to the hotel, which was about 20 miles or so away from the race site.  In the morning, we were greeted with about 4 inches of fresh snow which had fallen in the area, making it a bit of a treacherous drive over to the race, but it filled in the course nicely and made the conditions close to perfect for a great, fast snowshoe race.  After registering (and getting #110 again, as I was #110 for the 50K just last weekend, and I got #112 at Boston) Tim, Kevin, and I headed out to do the rest of the course we hadn't seen the day before.  The course is essentially 2 sections, one of which you kind of do twice, but different paths over the same area. The first part of the course goes under the main road, in a tunnel, and puts you out in sprawling greens of the golf course, with some steep cart-path climbs and at least 3 substantial climbs that almost require you to reach out and climb with your hands.  The second part of the course features more of the same, just on the other side of the street, closest to the start/finish.  You also come through the start/finish one time in the middle of the race, splitting the first 6k with the last 4k (approx.).

We then made our way over to the race start for some last minute strides. There looked to be many quick guys at the race this year, including a stacked Atlas team with Michael Reneau, who has run 2:16 twice in the past 2 years for the marathon and is competing in the 2012 US Olympic Trials for the marathon.  The usuals, Scott Gall (also a US Olympic Trials competitor and many-time US National Team member snowshoer) and Greg Hexum (2x US National Champ) were also here.  Kelly Mortenson (12th at the 2000 US Marathon Trials) was here and is now 40, looping him in with Greg Hexum for the top master contender.  All 3 guys destroyed me last year, as did Jared Scott (Inov-8) who was also back this year.  Jeff Beck out of NY was back at the Nationals this year and he has had a great year so far.  He's been on the national team and I knew he'd be a contender up front.  Then there was Eric Hartmark, who is a 2:21 guy (he won the 2010 Exeter Marathon in RI) and a quick half-marathoner.  He was looking for a top finish and at this point, I was just hoping to maybe get one of these guys or at the very least, keep my arch-nemesis, Kevin Tilton close.  Kevin and I lined up right at the front and the race was underway.

(photo above by Adam Speer... couldn't find him online, hope he doesn't mind me using)...

Over 100 guys shot out immediately on the downhill start and I found myself immediately in the back of about 20 guys all fighting for position. It was a situation I had never been in in a snowshoe race except for Nationals last year.  I was basically all out and getting outrun by many guys in front, and getting pushed and stepped on by guys behind and around me.  It was a crazy start.  I tried desperately to get into a postion where I didn't get tripped up and didn't bother others around me, but it was tough with a little bit of loose snow and occasionally a breakthrough.

As the race stretched out a bit, it opened up slightly, but it was still a steady stream of packed runners, all going at sub 6 pace on snowshoes, up little steep inclines and down crazy descents, only to continue the cycle.  It was tough getting into a rhythm with all the ups and downs, but the good news (for me) is that it was fast running conditions.  Had it been a loose, wet, slow slog in the snow, it would have been a hell of a course.  Kevin and I ran side by side for the first mile or so, with him surging ahead on some spots, and then me passing by on others, but we both seemed to react to one another's move, as others stayed right with us.  We had talked a bit beforehand about what we should do and we both agreed that letting the race play out a bit in front, and then making a move later on and running a stronger second half was the best approach for this type of course...but we didn't want to let the race get away from us either.  That second point was in the back of my mind the whole time.  I got nervous after a mile or so and found myself stretching out a lead over Kevin and trying to separate myself from the few guys around us.  I could see the pack of Atlas guys and a couple other leaders up front, and started to pass a few guys here and there.

(photo left by Adam Speer... couldn't find him online, hope he doesn't mind me using)...

I got into a rhythm as the race stretched out even further and now I was passing a few more guys that had blown past me in the earlier part of the race.  I eventually caught and started running with Jared Scott and eventually both of us went back and forth a bit before he pulled slightly ahead. I would basically be running behind him most of the way now.  We both went by Kelly Mortenson on one of the steep climbs and Kelly seemed to be backing off a bit.  I knew he'd hang tough but I wanted to run my race and didn't think too much about it as I went past.

By the end of the first loop, I was running in 8th place (after passing Kelly) and now with the exception of the long, drawn out sections, I could only see Jared and one other Atlas guy who seemed to be coming back.  I was pretty sure I'd eventually pass him (Atlas guy) but knew we had half the race to go.  As I came down and under the road (tunnel), I noticed that Jared Scott has gone the wrong way.  There was a volunteer who wasn't in the road at that time, directing racers, and he blew right past the turn that went straight up a steep hill.  The Atlas runner went left and took over the lead that Jared had put on him.  When I saw Jared as I came out of the tunnel, he was running towards me in the wrong direction and was yelling (rightfully so) at the race volunteer to make sure to send people in the right way and pay attention.  He hit the hill right before I did and I didn't have a chance to go past him.  By the top, he pulled back ahead and was probably more determined now to catch back up to the guy he past and continue to race towards the leaders. I hit that climb and wiped out once on the way up, but managed to run fairly strong, as I was now only a few precious ticks up on Kevin and Kelly.

As the race wound up and down and around to the first loop past the start/finish area, I had a couple more steep ups to work and I worked them a bit harder than normal to try to stay in front of Kevin and Kelly who were working together.  I think for a brief time, Tivo was also up there, as was another Atlas runner.  I came down and through the start/finish maybe 10-15 seconds up on Kevin and started the second loop.  During this second section, I could see back a couple times and knew I had about 3 runners within striking distance of me but continued to open up a bit on Kevin, who had dropped the other 2 runners just a bit.  I worked the last set of hills and a couple of the long straight sections.  By one of the longer, steadier uphills, I glanced back and could no longer see Kevin's orange shirt on some sections, and knew I was putting distance on him late in the race, which is usually never the case.  I was also losing Jared Scott, but picking up the Atlas runner.  For a few minutes it looked like he was in trouble and coming back to me, but over the course of the last mile or so, he seemed to rebound and worked a couple of the uphills directly in front of me, as I kept seeing him looking back.  The looking back was giving me a false sense that he was hurting, but I think at that point he was just gauging his position and like me, he was pretty much in control of his place in the race.  It was about the time I realized that I wasn't going to catch him (as I started looking at my watch and figuring out that there was probably only a few minutes of racing left), that I started to realize that I was going to hold off the rest of the field.  Kevin was now the only guy I could see when I looked back, and that was only on the very long, straight sections.  I hit the last uphill and around a small area of add-on and down to the finish, finishing in 8th place overall.

I held 8th for probably close to 5 miles of the 10K, as most of the initial positioning was done in the first mile.  Kevin came down in 9th place, 42 seconds back, and Kelly was a ways behind him in 10th.  Tivo outkicked a surging Bob Bolton to take lucky 13th. The Atlas runner ahead of me was Randy Bill, who toyed with me for 4 or so miles but never let go of his position (other than letting Jared go by).  Jared ran a gutsy race, staying strong even though he was misdirected at halfway.  Jeff Beck killed it and edged out Greg Hexum by 10 seconds, but it was Reneau running in his 2nd ever snowshoe race, getting third, while Scott Gall and Eric Harmark had an epic battle up front, with Eric (even though he went the wrong way a couple times during the race) coming out on top with a National title.

Top 10 (plus CMS in blue)

1 Eric HartmarkMN41:41
2 Scott GallIA41:49
3 Michael ReneauOR42:18
4 Jeffrey BeckNY42:54
5 Greg HexumMN43:04
6 Jared ScottAZ43:10
7 Randy BillIA43:33
8 Jim JohnsonNH43:54
9 Kevin TiltonNH44:36
10 Kelly MortensonMN45:00
13 Tim Van OrdenVT46:06

114 total finishers (men).

About the top 10:

Eric Hartmark (MN) is a 2:21 marathoner / 1:06 half guy.
Scott Gall (IA)  41:49         (2:20 marathoner – 2000 Olympic Trials Marathon - 5 World Mountain teams)
Michael Reneau (OR)  42:18     (2:16 marathoner – running the 2012 Olympic Marathon trials)
Jeffrey Beck (NY)  42:54           (2x runner up at Nationals)
Greg Hexum (MN)  43:04      (2x US National Snowshoe Champ – NCAA XC All American D1)
Jared Scott (AZ)  43:10            (a couple 1:08 halfs in 2010 / 14:39 5k / Univ. of CO / 2:27 marathon)
Randy Bill (IA)  43:33 (2:26 at Boston Marathon last year)
Jim Johnson      (NH)  43:54     (me!)
Kevin Tilton     (NH)  44:36 (beats me all the time by just a few seconds in EVERYTHING)
Kelly Mortenson (MN)  45:00 (12th at 2000 Olympic Trials Marathon / 2:19 marathon / 1:05 half / 29:45 10k / 23:43 8k / 14:31 5k)

After the race, we changed up and headed out with some other folks to run over part of the course and video some of the women's race.  Amber Ferreira (NH - last year's winner) was there running against Brandy Erholtz (2009 National Champ).  We knew it was going to be a great race, and it turned out to be just that.

Some video I took of the Women's race:

Halfway point (approx):

2nd Half Footage:

More 2nd Half Footage:

The Last Hill:

Amber at the Finish:

After the race, we hung out for a while before heading down to the awards.   I won my age group, as the top 5 (who made the 'National Team' were excluded from age group winnings).  I got Gold in the 30-39 and had the podium all to myself, as the other two gentlemen were absent from the ceremony.

After the awards, we stayed at the lodge for some good ole' fashioned Wisconsin food & drink.  Kevin and I sampled some of the finer things like cheese curds and oatmeal stout.  Tim got a big salad.  We hung out for a while before heading down to the pasta dinner, which was a fun time with many of the WMAC / Dion folks in attendance.  Tim again had a salad and some weird piece of fruit that just made a big mess....essentially being difficult ;).  During dinner, they blew up a big balloon out on the lake, so I walked over and checked it out.  Videos Below:

Then it was upstairs at the lodge for some more beverages (Kevin was drinking me under the table) and some music.  We watched a bunch of people get down, as they had a DJ spinning the tunes.  It was a fun time for sure.  I think Tim just sat there playing with his Ipod.  I tried to get him to live on the wild side a bit and have a juice or a soda but he declined. He did drive Kevin and I home though, which was good.  I had the bright idea of hitting up Walmart on the way, for some snacks.  Below is visual evidence of what transpired after that....and yes, Kevin ate 5 out of 6 of those shortcake rolls in one sitting....he saved the last one until morning, showing some restraint and a glimmer of self control.

In the morning, we got up, kind of took our time getting ready, and headed out for a 4-5 mile run over the snowy streets around the Hayward, WI area near our hotel.  Tivo, Kevin, and I did a big loop through some farms and forest and just basically shook out the stiffness from the race.  We got back, showered, and hit the road for the 3 or so hour ride to the airport.  We took our time getting down there and stopped a couple times to eat and to take pictures (Kevin has good ones) of a massive bald eagle eating a dead deer on the side of the road.  Very interesting sight to see.   We got to the airport and realized as we were on the tram going to the gate, that we were late.  Kevin and I rushed over to the counter and tried to check in but we missed it by 7 or so minutes.  It was an awful feeling.  We tried to wheel and deal but they weren't doing anything for us.  They sent us up to general ticketing and they were no help either.  They had 1 seat and that was for a later evening flight that was going to be about 800 dollars one way.  I don't even think that was guaranteed.  I tried to look up flights for other carriers and the only thing I was finding was $400+ one way tickets (at the last minute they screw you) and those were flights that were very late leaving MN and had stops, arriving in Boston in the afternoon on Monday.  I had the idea of just renting a car and driving it.  We could leave immediately, and be back in Boston at roughly the same time as these later flights on Monday.  Kevin agreed to it and we headed down to secure a one-way rental from Minnesota to Massachusetts.  The people at the counter thought we were nuts, but we got a nice Ford Focus and hit the road for what would be a day-long odyssey home.

I hit the first shift of 4-5 hours or so and then switched back and forth with Kevin as we drove from Minnesota, across Wisconsin, through Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and then into Massachusetts.  Non-stop, with only gassing up and food/bathroom breaks.  Neither one of us slept, as we figured it would be best to have 2 eyes on the road at all times.  We got slightly off course in Chicago (thanks Kevin!)... It snowed and was icy through Ohio, which slowed us down, and it snowed in NY/MA, but just flurries.  Somewhere around Buffalo, NY I noticed that the GPS indicated that we'd be home at 3:47pm (estimated arrival time in Boston).  I rented the car with a one-day rental at 3:40pm in MN.  Even with the time change, they consider it one day for 3:40-3:40.  If I returned it later, I'd be charged an extra day.  I called from the road and the customer service rep said they offered a 29 minute grace period, but I wanted to get the car back without having to dip into the grace period.  I got behind the wheel and hammered all the way across NY state.  Kevin was my eyes upfront and behind, constantly keeping an eye out for police and speedtraps.  We got into MA on the Pike and had flurries and steady traffic to deal with, but I kept it about 10 mph over the speed limit average and we slowly clicked off the minutes on the GPS. By the time we got into Boston and weaved through the airport, we had 4 minutes to spare.  I pulled the car into the lot at Logan at 3:36pm.  The guy scanned it in, and we had done it.  1 day to go 1400 miles.  No sleep, no stayover, one in-car bathroom break (thank God for Gatorade bottles), and lots of dozing off...but we got it done.

We capped the day off with a ride back on the Silver Line and then Commuter Rail back down into Norwood, for a couple of block walk back to Kevin's aunt's house.   We loaded up Kevin's car and headed back up north in NH, which would be our 9th state of the last 24 hours.  We stopped once for some grub and then I was finally dropped off at about 7pm EST.  A long trip for sure, and our version of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles....

Here's to next year, as we will travel to Frisco, Colorado for the 2012 Nationals.  I hope we don't have to drive back from that one!

...and yes, that is an Arby's cup in Kevin's hand.  We both ate like fat kids this weekend and it took me a couple of days to not only catch up with my sleep, but also to shave off the extra lbs. from a weekend of eating in Wisconsin.  They put cheese in everything.  Even the cheese has extra cheese in it!

Now onto the New Bedford Half Marathon this weekend, where I will begin my season of running like crap on the roads because I am over-raced... who's with me?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Training 03-07 to 3-13

Wrap Up: 37.6 miles with one day off, one good race at US Snowshoe Nationals out in Wisconsin, and multiple short, easy runs to recover from the 50K last Sunday.  I had to take this week VERY easy and just get the legs feeling normal again.  I got a massage on Wednesday and just shook the legs out each day until nationals.  Now back to the grindstone... Race writeup from Nationals to come...Also, more Mt. Washington footage should be posted this week...sorry for slacking on that.  I have some decent footage of snowshoe nationals (women's race only, as I couldn't possibly take video of my race ;) ).  Here's a picture of a nice oatmeal stout and some good ole' fashioned Wisconsin cheese curds...

03-13 - Sunday: 4.6 miles (snowy roads). Hayward, WI.  Slow recovery run with Kevin Tilton and Tim VanOrden over backcountry roads from our hotel.  40:00.  Foot still bothering me just a little.

03-12 - Saturday: 12 miles (snowshoes). Cable, WI.  Approx 3.5 mile warmup around 1st part of course + strides.  Then 10K race - US Snowshoe Nationals - 8th OA + approx 2.5 cooldown with Kevin, Tim, and some others.  No problems during the race.  Felt pretty good.  Writeup to come.

03-11 - Friday: 4 miles (snowshoes). Cable, WI.  Run w/ Tivo and Tilton over part of the snowshoe nationals course in Wisconsin. 41:00. Most of the run was in the dark because we got up there just as the sun was going down.  We checked out the course and ran over the second section a couple of times nice and easy. Right foot was bothering me a bit and hamstring was a little tight, but the legs felt fine otherwise.

03-10 - Thursday: 6 miles (roads). Salem, Methuen (solo).  44:00.  Nice and easy before Kevin Tilton picked me up to head down to begin the journey out to snowshoe nationals.  Legs starting to feel slightly better and more normal again after the 50k.

03-09 - Wednesday: 6 miles (yaktrax).  Ran the rail trail in N.Salem and Windham.  Completely snow covered and ice packed. It will be that way for a long while.  At least 6-8 inches of packed ice on the paved trail and it's rock solid.  Great for yaktracking right now.  [45:22].  Massage earlier today and legs are starting to 'not kill'.  Photos from the Windham Rail Trail I took today (gives you an idea of the state of the trails and how the snow ain't goin' anywhere for a while)...

03-08 - Tuesday: 5 miles (roads) super easy + 1 mile of walking.  Quads are ridiculous.  I feel like someone just took a baseball bat and repeatedly beat me with it. It did feel better the longer I ran along but just did about 8 minute pace to get the blood flowing again.  It felt really good to walk. I don't remember the last time I just walked for an extended period of time...  I may have to try that more often.  Good news is that the feet felt fine.  The only real bad pains are in my quads.  I can't imagine how I'd feel if there were any substantial downhills on that course on Sunday.  Race writeup coming hopefully by tomorrow!

More Mount Washington stuff below.  Here is the third section of 5-minute video. This is from the first water stop, back up through the field to the leaders. Don't forget to switch it to HD before watching!!  Also, don't forget that you have 1 week until the Mount Washington Road Race Lottery closes!  Get your name in there if you've ever thought about giving this one a try!

03-07 - Monday: Rest Day and recovery from the 50K.  Can barely walk let alone run or jog. I did a couple of seconds at a time worth of jogging to just see if I could move faster than a duck walk and it was ridiculous.  It was actually comical.  Kristin got a chuckle out of seeing just how destroyed my legs were.  I told her that if the house was on fire, I wasn't making it out.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

US 50K National Championship

On Saturday I drove down to Long Island to run in the US 50K National Road Championship (results) that was to be held on Sunday in Huntington, NY at Caumsett State Park.  I was very apprehensive about even giving this a go after having my training get a little stale this winter and the past couple weeks I just haven't felt sharp.  Sure I've been snowshoe racing quite a bit, but have only done 1 road race this year and essentially zero speedwork.  My big plans for more miles and frequent tempo runs disappeared as fast as they were typed into my super-secret spreadsheet detailing my planned world domination.  I had been back and forth with 70 and 80 mile weeks, but no real marathon/50k specific 'work'.  My taper week turned into a week with missing 2 days due to various things that were out of my control, and my recent scares with health issues knocked my mind out of race mode.  But alas, on Friday night I booked my hotel room and on Saturday afternoon I drove down (solo) to the island and went straight to the hotel to ponder my decision and sulk in my own undoing.  As soon as I walked into my room, the infamous Josh Ferenc rang me up and notified me of his presence in town (he had already alerted the local media) and he had brought the rest of the Keenyans (Greg Hammet, Justin Fyffe, and George Adams) along.  Greg and Justin were running the 25K (JV race) and George and Josh were giving the 50 a go. It was to be Josh's first race over 16 miles.  George, on the other hand, is an experienced ultra guy (who looks more like a rugby player).  I joined them for some grub and then it was back to the room to TRY and get some rest.  Unfortunately there was 1200 elementary school idiots there running a muck and bolting down every hallway in the hotel, banging on doors, turning door handles, and screaming like the idiots their parents were raising them to be.  I laid in bed and waited until the clock ticked over to 11 and then I called the front desk.  They apologized and immediately sent 2 security guards up who caught some kids in the act and gave them a talking to.  Then they banged on doors and notified parents.  You'd think that was enough, but it wasn't.  The noise continued on through the night.  I eventually turned the fan on high in the room to try to drown out the noise and was able to eventually fall asleep.  In the morning I got up early, headed out to Dunkin Donuts to do what Greg Hammet said is always best before an 'ultra', and that was eat a hearty breakfast.  Then I made my way north to Huntington for what I thought would be disaster in the making.

I was the third car in the lot (I think the other 2 were race workers).  I walked over and took some pictures of the area with my phone (you can see them here).  The park is beautiful and the weather was looking like rain, but mild.  I made my way down the quarter mile walk to the registration area but they weren't ready yet.  I milled around a bit more and slowly people began showing up.  I talked with a few people about the race and met a couple of locals who were giving the 50k a go.  Eventually I grabbed all my gear and walked everything back over to the nice heated tent they had setup for the racers at the finish line.  The Keenyans arrived as well as Dave Dunham, Dan Verrington, and Ben Nephew (all CMS teammates).  Dave wasn't racing but rather just there as the USATF liaison. With Ben and Dan and George all there, it gave us 4 guys, which was perfect seeing as you need just 3 to score in the team competition.  It was looking like another National Team Championship for CMS, but I didn't want to get ahead of myself.  First I'd need to get through this thing.

As I started to get ready for the race, I got more and more nervous, especially seeing other experienced ultra folks there like Dan and Yolanda Flamino (last year's women's winner), who both setup their own aid stations with little bottles and GUs.  I had nothing.  Talk about being unprepared.  I pinned a couple of GUs in my half tights and stuck a couple of NUUN tablets in a plastic bag and stuffed it in my arm sleeve.  I figured I could get enough water at the aid stations (there was an aid station at 1.5 into the 5k loop and one at the end of it, meaning you got 2 aid stations per 5k loop).  I waited in a modest line to use the facilities and then it was over to the starting area for my 'warmup' which was some very easy running back and forth in front of the starting line.

Lap 1:

As the race went off the skies seemed to darken immediately and the rain was only moments away.  Michael Wardian (VA) shot out into the lead like he's won the thing every year for the past 3 years (oh wait...he has!)...I didn't even think for one second about trying to go with him....OK maybe I did, but it literally was only for 1 second ;).  I was content running comfortably along with Josh and a few other guys including Ben Nephew, Josh Myers (FL), and Corey Jenkins (WA).  Mike Wardian was already crushing us by 3/4 of a mile in and Josh and I sort of stretched out ahead of everyone else after a mile or so.  Near the second mile I was probably starting my solid position of being alone in 2nd place.  Josh seemed to be in no rush and was content in letting me go.  I started to widen my lead as the course has only a couple of hills (one just before 1.5, one just before 2, and then a minor one near 2.75.  I remember being with Josh at the first hill because I asked him if we were on the hill at the time and he confirmed.  By the second hill he may have been starting to fall back.  I noticed that the 2nd mile for me was by far my slowest mile (on essentially each lap) as the race continued on and I think a lot of that had to do with the hills and the long stretch that goes through the 2 mile mark, in which the wind really was a factor (whipping you right in the face).  That same wind made for a nice tailwind for the first mile of each loop though, so I couldn't really complain.  The third mile is twisty and has 2 essential turnarounds that slow your race down to a crawl. The first one is about 2.75 miles in and you literally run around a cone and shoot back in the other direction. It is enough to bring you to a dead stop and also gets worse and more dangerous the further into the race you get. On this stretch of mile three you also go over an unpaved section of road w/ a ton of potholes and loose rock and puddles.  The good part of that section though is that you come back against the field, so you can see who is in front and behind you and how close or far away they are.  When I first hit this section, Mike Wardian came back past me and looked to only be 45 or so seconds up on me if that. Josh was a little closer to me than I was to Mike, but I knew that this section would be crucial later in the race, to judge race position.  Right after this section, you run back down a little hill and up and around to the finish area, where you take a sharp left into the finish, go over the finish mat, and around a little turnaround and back out for the next loop.  It was pure chaos here as there were random people walking across the course, etc.  I would bump into/run over no fewer than 3 different people in this section over the course of the race. I clicked through the first 5k in just over 18 minutes, which was the pace I was actually thinking was attainable for the whole race (ya right)...

Lap 2:

Over lap two, it was more of the same except it may have started to rain a bit and the wind seemed to pick up.  I kept building my lead over Josh and by the 1st mile marker I could barely make him out behind me on the long looks back. I could still see Mike Wardian up ahead on the long stretches, but he was dusting me.  The second lap seemed to go by way slower because by this time I had already seen the course, so there was no mystery to it.  I also started to think that 10 laps is a lot. Each mile I clicked through was too fast.  I was running 5:20s high to 5:30s, which isn't even really my marathon pace, let alone a 50k.  It was rather ridiculous of me to think I could maintain that pace, but I was committed and running like a jerkoff, but I was determined to keep going even though I kept telling DD every time I ran by him that I was running too quick and was backing off.  I thought I was backing off, but I wasn't.  Interestingly enough, when I got to the cone turnaround, I was about the same distance behind Mike, as he went past me in the other direction.  I also seemed to have increased my lead through this point on Josh, as I went past him on the way back.   I could see Corey Jenkins in 4th, also in roughly the same spot I had seen him in on lap 1.

Lap 3:

I continued lap 3 and really started to feel like I was moving too quick to maintain anything past 5 or 6 laps and the small ups were starting to bother my foot and hips.  I indicated to Josh in the very first mile of lap 1 that my foot was killing me for some reason and it was brutal by laps 2 and 3.  I kept thinking it would go away and eventually it would (until I finished). I built up a huge lead on Josh by the third lap and through 15K I was alone in 2nd and could still see Wardian's white singlet on the very long stretches.  But by this time, we started to really lap people (the lapping started on the 2nd lap actually, but by the 3rd lap it was ridiculous).  I was constantly in and out of people but it wasn't too too bad, as there were only 104 50Kers out there....but by the time the 25K started (one hour after the 50k started), there were even more people out there and they were running even faster.  Mike Wardian seemed to be still about the same distance ahead of me on the turnaround section as he passed me going the other way.  Josh seemed to definitely be getting closer to me now and it was only a matter of time.  On lap 3 I started to really feel some moments of doubt.  I was pretty solid through 2, and 3 went 'ok', but by the end of 3 and the beginning of 4, I started to see Josh getting closer and closer.  I knew he'd be definitely passing me but hoped it would only be him.  I could live with 3rd, but the moment I started to get mowed down by others, I would seriously consider dropping out because there is no coming back from that (at least the way I race).

Lap 4:

Josh passed me around mile 1 of lap 4 and looked to be on a mission. I knew from the lead I put on him over the previous 10K or so that he was hauling arse. He looked to have his eyes set on Wardian and was gone before I could even think about trying to go with him.  I couldn't see anyone behind me on any of the sections except for the turnaround.  As I hit the out and back cone turnaround again, Mike Wardian was definitely now getting further ahead of me and Josh was closing the gap on him a little bit, and also way ahead of me.  I was now pretty far up on the 4th place guy and could still see him on the way back to the start, passing him going in the other direction.

Lap 5:

As lap 5 started, I was still running solo, but as Josh went by me (in the opposite direction) on a small section of course where the laps begin and end, he yelled to me 'have we done 4?' to which I said 'yeah, 6 to go'.  That almost made me puke.  I had only run 20K and I was looking at 30K to go and I was feeling it.  I went from feeling kinda strong to horrible real quick.  On laps 2, 3, and 4, every one of my miles was under 5:40.  Not one over 5:40 except the first 5k which we went out conservative.  I had borderline hammered laps 2,3, and 4 and was now starting to feel it.  Josh continued to blow doors on me as I started laying down 5:40s (low).  I thought that that was OK, considering I wanted to try to average 5:50 or so (in my dreams). I knew I wasn't in Baystate Marathon shape, but figured I could do 5:50s.  By the end of lap 5 I started to have serious thoughts that I'll just drop at 25K and call it a day.  I'll have gotten a good workout in, and wouldn't be too disappointed....but then I thought about trying one more lap.  One more lap where if I was still in 3rd, I'll continue until I wasn't.  I figured that the moment I start getting humbled by the experienced guys who know how to run these things (like the Ben's and the Dan's and the Mark Godale's that were out there), I'd call it a day and cut my losses.  On the out and back section, I wasn't even seeing Mike anymore and Josh was killing me.  But the good news (for me) was that I could no longer see 4th place at all...anywhere in sight of where the out and back was.  I knew I had a good lead at that point, but wasn't sure if I could hold it in the 2nd half of the race.  I came through 25K in 1:28 high and laughed, thinking that 3 hours was definitely out of the question.

Lap 6:

Surprisingly, even after I started to feel ridiculously hopeless about my chances, I continued to click off high 5:40s and a 5:50.  I thought about just keeping it under 6 for as long as I could, but knew my middle laps were too fast to keep that dream alive.  I took a GU during lap 3 and decided to take another one on lap 6 but wasn't feeling bonky at all. I felt really strong in that respect, but my body was just breaking down and mentally I was done.  My breathing was fine and I felt very much in control and fit as fit could be, but my body was just losing the battle.  My hips and lower back were extremely tight and my calves and hammies were twinging.  I started to take the NUUN tabs I had and would break a piece off and unfortunately just pop it in my mouth without water.... letting it dissolve in just my saliva.  It's a little much on the stomach, but I tried to time it right, as I would go through a water stop and take a Gatorade and water to try to wash it down.  I made sure (except on the first lap) to take a water and/or Gatorade at every stop. On the turnaround section, I could still not see the 4th place guy behind.  At this point I wasn't sure who was back there, but figured I was maybe going to be able to hold off for another lap or two before someone could possibly make up that much ground on me.

Lap 7:

The rain was really coming down and the wind was pretty bad on the 2nd mile of the loop. I'd say this was one of the tougher laps mentally to deal with but I kept thinking 'just 2 to go after I finish this'... I was praying at this point to just keep my hamstrings and calves in check. I was wearing compression socks which I swear kept my calf muscles from popping off my body.  I also became very aware that I was 'officially' hitting the wall.  I made my first visit into '6's' territory during this lap, with a brutal last mile on the lap in a 6:19.  But as I came to the turnaround point, I was still completely alone in 3rd, with only a vast amount of lapped runners around me and some 25k folks.  DD and the crew started to give me some encouragement around the finish area as I would start the next lap and I noticed Dan Verrington now standing at the finish with his warmups back on, so I knew he had run into a problem and unfortunately called it a day.  I still wasn't out of the woods yet.

Lap 8:

More rain and wind, more 6+ minute miles. My watch had stopped getting the splits to recall, but I could still see what the miles were as I was hitting them and I was just trying to keep it at 6:30s or under.  I told DD at the start of lap 8 that 'I am just going to try to keep it at 6s'....well that was short-lived.  6:10s' it was...but the difference now was that I was focused on just getting 3rd and I'd be fine w/ that.  I had all I could do to think about anything else other than not cramping up.   I took more NUUN and water/Gatorade all I could and I still felt my body locking up more and more with each step.  I found myself passing by the same points in the race, the same spectators, and the same out and back sections at around or close to the same time on each lap, just a few seconds slower each time, but enough to make me think that I was still running OK and that to catch me now, the folks behind me would really have to crank. I came to the turn around point and again, no one in sight behind me other than the lapped runners.  Somewhere around lap 7 or 8 (I think), Justin Fyffe (running the 25k) whizzed by me and for a split second I thought he was in the 50k. I was glad it was just him winning the 25k. He was the only 25k guy that would end up passing me.

Lap 9:

As I came through and started Lap 9, DD asked me if I was ok and wanted to know if I needed anything.  I said no, but said that I was now just going to 'try to keep it under 7' and he said that's all I needed to do and just to keep going.  I had my first thoughts that I just may end up finishing and rolled along, hitting low to mid 6s still. Just trying to keep my composure and always thinking about the guys behind me, I looked up and started to see Josh again.  Then I started to hear spectators tell me that the 'guy in yellow is coming back'.  I was beginning to think maybe I have a shot, but with only 2 laps left (not even by that point), I wouldn't have enough race to catch him.  I obviously didn't want to see him blow up, but it is what it is and if he was coming back, I'd just do my best to run as fast as I could and finish with what the race dishes out.  He had run VERY hard in the middle laps and was now feeling the affects.  In this lap, I clicked through the marathon in 2:32:30 and thought I'd maybe be able get around 3:06 or so with the way things were going.  I just kept thinking '5 more miles...4 more miles'.... as I came to the turnaround section, I noticed Josh was now pretty close and there was still no one behind me.

Lap 10:

As I wound down around the finish area and back up for the last lap, I heard one of the officials give me the '1 to go' notification and I really felt that I could hopefully now just hang on for 3rd.  I went by DD and told him 'I'm just going for 3rd' and then grabbed one of Dan Verrington's prepped water/GU combos and headed out for a last lap shuffle where I'd average a blazing 6:38 pace.  This whole lap I was thinking about my time, place, and legs just staying in check. I was now carrying water, which definitely saved me, as I don't think I was getting quite enough from the half-filled cups at the aid stations (most of which just splashes out when you grab it).  Everything was rushing through my mind and I was also dealing with Josh coming back faster and faster.  Spectators were telling me he was falling back, but so was I. With 1 mile to go I couldn't believe it.  I hit just over 30 miles and was still standing.  I made my way to the turnaround point and saw Josh on his way back, now very much within a minute of me, but there was not enough race left to catch him.  Just one more lap (had this been, say a 55k ;) ) and I would have caught him! In the end, I ended up finishing in 3:05:37 to Josh's 3:05 (yes, 37 seconds in a 50k!).  Mike Wardian destroyed us, running 2:55:59 and just missing his course record (although that is debatable because it was technically a slightly modified course apparently).

Immediately after finishing, I could hardly stand.  The 'marathon/ultra' legs hit me like a ton of bricks.  Everything seized up right away.  I had all I could do to waddle over to congratulate Josh and make my way back into the tent.  I was thrilled to not only have held 3rd place (and almost came back to 2nd) but to have run a fast time. I knew that my time was under 6 minute pace and I would have never guessed, based on my training recently, that I would have been able to swing that...I knew that had I been in the same type of shape I had been in before Baystate last year, I would have been able to maybe hit lower 3's or around 3 hours, but I would certainly take 3:05 any day. Ben Nephew (5th) and George Adams (8th) rounded out the scoring for CMS by running 3:13 and 3:18 respectively.

Once in the tent, I stood there hovering over a barrel in the corner and tried to keep from puking.  For some reason (it may have been the salt I was ingesting without much water) my stomach was ruined.  I wasn't really hungry or thirsty at all and the thought of food was making me sick.  I also couldn't  move at all, in any direction. I stood there locked up.  Greg Hammett came over and graciously helped me by working on my calf muscles while I stood there trying not to barf.  That was a big help.  I eventually managed to get my clothes on (slowly) and I sat down near a heater for about 45 minutes or so and talked with Josh Myers (4th place from Atlanta Track Club and out of Jacksonville, FL), Ben Nephew, and some others.  Meanwhile, the wind seemed to have picked up, the rain was coming down pretty good, and there were lots of other folks still out there braving the elements.  I shuttered to think about being out there still racing and wondered if I'd ever be able to do anything longer than 50K.  I think if it is road, no.  Trail, maybe.

Top 10 (CMS in blue, BAA in hot pink).

Place Name Age City/State Time Pace
1 Michael Wardian  36 Arlington VA          2:55:59 5:40
2 Joshua Ferenc    29 Westmoreland NH       3:05:00 5:58
3 Jim Johnson      33 Salem NH              3:05:37 5:59
4 Joshua Myers     27 Jacksonville Beach FL 3:12:07 6:12
5 Ben Nephew       35 Mansfield MA          3:13:21 6:14
6 Cory Jenkins     23 Lynden WA             3:15:51 6:19
7 Mark Godale      40 Aurora OH             3:17:16 6:21
8 George Adams     40 Gilsum NH             3:18:07 6:23
9 Jodie Schoppmann 26 Levittown NY          3:20:12 6:27
10 Aaron Robertson  32 Altamont NY           3:20:12 6:27

104 Total Finishers.

Above is yours truly w/ the infamous Ferenc.  I'm still trying to figure out where on the course he cut off that 37 seconds... ;)  Also noteworthy is Josh's steady streak of being a NH resident every other race (swapping with VT of course).  Whether it's Westmoreland, Keene, Bellows Falls, Alstead, South Acworth, etc.  You never know which Ferenc you're gonna get.

Here are my 5K splits (10x5k loops). My watch unfortunately only stores 30 laps, but the race keeps track of your 5k splits. I should have known.  I have my first 30 splits (that include the .1 after each 5k), so I'm missing quite a bit of time unfortunately.  I should have caught that, but this is the first race I've actually maxed out the splits on!  I'll know for next time (when I run an actual ultra that has mile markers).

Lap Time Pace Race Split Place Split Rank
1 18:02 5:49 5k 18:02 2 2
2 17:22 5:36 10k 35:24 2 2
3 17:31 5:39 15k 52:55 2 2
4 17:41 5:42 20k 1:10:36 3 3
5 18:01 5:48 25k 1:28:37 3 3
6 18:24 5:56 30k 1:47:01 3 3
7 18:57 6:06 35k 2:05:58 3 3
8 19:19 6:13 40k 2:25:17 3 3
9 19:50 6:23 45k 2:45:07 3 2
10 20:34 6:38 50k 3:05:41* 3 5

Splits rounded in results. Actual time was 3:05:37.

As you can see, I was in 2nd through the 15k split and then Ferenc must have cut the course ;) as he mowed me down before the first mile marker of loop 4.  Then he went on a rampage for 4, 5, and 6 before coming back to Earth.  My 9th split was the 2nd fastest of anyone's with a 19:50.  WOW, talk about everyone blowing up (well, everyone except Mike Wardian who kept it honest over the last few laps).  My 10th lap was a disaster.  I was in finish mode and carrying water and taking salt and taking gel and just about anything else you can think of.  I was shuffling along.

I found this interesting.  Here are the 10th lap split-rankings by time:

Rank Name Time Pace Finish Place
1 Michael Wardian 18:42 6:02 1
2 Mark Godale 19:25 6:15 7
3 Josh Myers 20:16 6:32 4
4 George Adams 20:33 6:37 8
5 Jim Johnson 20:34 6:38 3
6 Josh Ferenc 21:09 6:49 2
7 Jodie Schoppmann 21:11 6:49 9
8 Aaron Robertson 21:12 6:50 10
9 Ben Nephew 21:17 6:51 5
10 Shanna Ailes Istni 21:42 6:59 13

So the moral of the story (with Wardian being the exception) is that in a race like this, you have no idea what you are going to get when everyone's been warn down for 45k.  George and I ran pretty much the same time for our 10th lap.  Mark Godale (former US record holder for 24 hour run) showed his ultramarathoning prowess by running a nice 10th lap split.  If I didn't go out like an arrogant S.O.B, I would have gotten smoked later in the race.  I ran my race, my style, and though I slowed considerably in the later miles, I held it together enough to finish where I wanted to finish and run a time I was very happy with considering my training.

After the race I unfortunately had to deal with poor planning and I eventually waddled over to the car to attempt my 5 hour ride home in the pouring rain. Not only was I now barely able to move my legs or any part of my lower body without intense concentration and excruciating pain, but now I had to drive my manual transmission car all the way back up through 4 states in a monsoon. I did manage to eventually make it home in one piece and was very happy I decided to head on down to the race this weekend.  I'm happy for Josh, very proud of CMS for once again winning a national championship, and excited to see what happens for the World Championships now at the end of August.